Protecting the Citizens’ ­Civil Liberties


Our civil liberties are constantly threatened by the unilateral action of the anti-tolerance. Anti-diversity movement that comes from the mass organizations based on a particular religion is actually happening. In the recent weeks, several events in two cities became the reflection of how vulnerable the freedom of religion and the right of assemble and association are.

Firstly, the Ahmadis in Bangka became the victim of Bangka local government that did not protect and guarantee the safety of their existence. In fact, the central government has called in order to resolve the presence of Indonesian Ahmadis using persuasive approach (dialogue). Unfortunately, the approach was not tended to and it impacted on the local government of Bangka.

Rather than to accept the suggestion from the Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, the Regent of Bangka Tarmizi was actually looking for a shortcut. The regent, who was appointed from the Prosperous Justice Party, denied taking the initiative to expel Ahmadis from the area. In fact, he claimed to “request for relocation” of Indonesian Ahmadis in Bangka to provide a win-win solution. Instead of being a protector for all citizens, he had failed to protect the people who live in Bangka.

Secondly, the Mayor of Bogor Bima Arya Sugiarto came to the inauguration of the office of Hizbut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) earlier this month. Mayor Bima Arya seemed to want to nurture and maintain good relationships with all elements of society. However we knew that the people would react differently, the netizens criticized his presence. As the syndication article from Lutfi Assyaukanie on this page confirms, HTI is clearly called for an Islamic caliphate and denounced the Indonesian constitution. The group has been campaigning against the state as well as its political hierarchy.

Over the last 15 years, HTI has been actively recruiting members, especially students of various universities, and indoctrination to disobey the law of the country. The Mayor of Bogor then argued that HTI as an organization has a different perspective on religion and the country, but there are similarities in looking at some problems, such as corruption, poverty, unemployment, HIV/AIDS, and crimes.

We do not believe the Mayor of Bogor did not think that his appearance on the official forums of this organization means of support for the organization, which obviously reject Pancasila as the country’s ideology and constitution. On the one hand, the mayor wants to protect all elements of Bogor residents. On the other hand, he advised for Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin – Bogor to relocate and damaging internal relations of GKI. He did not respect the decision of the Supreme Court judgment which sided with GKI Yasmin related to its building construction permit (IMB).

Reflecting on the two local events that were discussed extensively by social media and the mass media, the citizens’ civil liberties are being threatened by the public officials. Civil liberties include freedom of religion as the most important pillar in civil liberties. In addition, civil liberties are the manifestations of individual freedom.

That the state guarantees its citizens’ freedom to assemble or association, speech, religion or belief is enshrined in our constitution, the constitution of 1945. Yet the ideals of the constitution still require an actual implementation. The presence of President Joko Widodo through Nawa Cita, the document of vision-mission of President and Vice President mentioned that intolerance and personality crisis as one of the three main issues. “The identity of a nation is torn apart by the outbreak of sectarian conflict and other forms of intolerance. The country seemed to be ignorant in respecting and managing diversity and differences that characterize Indonesia as a pluralistic nation.”

We do not want a repeat of the presidential campaign, which was held two years ago. We would like to get proof on how Nawa Cita, specifically in the effort of protecting diversity and strengthen social restoration in Indonesia, can be realized gradually and be sure that the presence of the government is to guide the people towards a developed and democratic state based on law. It has been more than a year since the enactment of political vision to bring back the government’s role in protecting the nation and to provide security to all citizens, yet its existence cannot be perceived. Of course, economic issues and other problems that hinder the growth of national politics as well as political stability require special attention. However, protecting the citizens’ civil liberties is not an agenda that can be postponed.

The government cannot simply urge and invite citizens to appreciate the elements and protect civil liberties. Moreover, both of the above events should be perceived as a real illustration, how local government works and thinks in fact very different from what had become a political vision of this administration. To that end, to urge the protection of civil liberties is to strengthen the potential of civil society that supports civil liberties, while also controlling the local elite through a variety of policy instruments, such as the powerful policy but has not been maximizing the central budget-regional mechanisms.