Target: President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Goal: Don’t place restrictions on NGOs operating in Indonesia
The Indonesian Parliament has recently passed a law that will restrict certain Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) operating in Indonesia, in particular, any foreign NGOs, as well as any whose aims conflict with certain parameters established by the Indonesian government. These laws include restrictions on the political principles that NGOs can support, as well as religious restrictions. This law is clearly discriminatory, and suggests a disturbing paradigm of restricting civil liberties to avoid dissent.
The new Law on Mass Organizations enables the government to suspend the actions of any NGO that does not fulfill certain parameters. In particular, it discriminates against NGOs that fail to “maintain the value of religion and belief in Almighty God.” It specifically notes that NGOs with a non-theistic, communist, or Marxist-Lenninist bent violate this statute and will be subject to suspension. The law also contains a number of other vague statutes vulnerable to misinterpretation, as well as archaic references to a 1965 Blasphemy Law.
Foreign NGOs will be hit particularly hard by the change. Any foreign national wanting to start up an NGO in Indonesia will have to provide proof of five consecutive years of residence followed by a one million dollar deposit. In addition, the Law on Mass Organizations will allow the Indonesian Government to arbitrarily suspend operations of any foreign NGO for arbitrary reasons, in addition to those described above.
NGOs, particularly those concerned with civil liberties, have a vital place in any democratic society. The Law on Mass Organizations discriminates against a huge number of organizations and people who have every right to make their voices heard. Furthermore, the restrictions on foreign NGOs in particular threaten the human rights of those living in Indonesia, who will lose valuable advocates for their rights. Now is the time to tell President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that this measure is undemocratic and must be repealed.
Dear President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
The Indonesian Parliament recently approved the Law on Mass Organizations, a provision with a number of discriminatory clauses. In particular, it restricts non-theistic NGOs, as well as those advocating a variety of political positions. The law would also place heavy restrictions on foreign NGOs, even allowing the government to potentially outlaw foreign NGOs with a human-rights agenda.
Non-Government Organizations are a vital part of a functioning democratic society, and to place such arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions on them is a disturbing reversion to the practices of the Suharto era. This law should be amended to guarantee the freedoms of organization and religion as soon as possible.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: World Economic Forum via Wikimedia Commons