Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1985

The "New Order" Government, which came to power in 1966 in the
wake of an abortive. Communist Party-backed coup, has its
authority concentrated in a small group of active-duty and
retired military officers and civilian technocrats acting
under the dominant leadership of President Soeharto. A partly
elected, partly appointed Parliament serves as a forum for
consultation on and promulgation of legislation proposed by
the Executive Branch. In reaction to the legacy of political
and economic turmoil from the Sukarno days, the Government
gives priority to economic development, stability, and social
equity, and has been generally successful in these areas.
Faced with a wide diversity of ethnic, social, linguistic, and
religious groups, Indonesian governments have continually
sought to create a national identity and develop a governing
system which can accommodate this diversity while
strengthening national unity. In meeting this challenge, the
Soeharto Government has made Pancasila the national social and
political ideology and the centerpiece of its political
program. Pancasila consists of five principles: belief in
one supreme god, belief in a just and civilized humanity,
nationalism, democracy, and social justice. Government based
on it emphasizes social harmony and the traditional Indonesian
process of consultation and consensus as major elements in
decisionmaking. In 1985 the Government passed legislation
strengthening Pancasila's central role in society by requiring
all social organizations to acknowledge Pancasila as their
fundamental philosophy.
Indonesia has a mixed economy with the State involved in
nearly all sectors. The remarkable economic growth over the
past decade has recently slowed somewhat. Chinese-Indonesian
citizens are heavily represented in the modest but
increasingly active private sector. Indonesia's national
ideology and current 5-year economic plan stress improved
social welfare for all without discrimination.
Although there were improvements in the human rights situation
in 1985, problems nevertheless remain. These include
unexplained deaths and disappearances, reports of torture and
cruel treatment of prisoners, and restrictions on freedom of
speech and press, freedom of movement, and activities of
political parties and labor organizations.
In East Timor periodic skirmishes between the dwindling number
of Fretilin guerrillas and the army continued, with unknown
but relatively small numbers of casualties on both sides. The
Government has permitted increased access to East Timor,
including a series of escorted diplomatic visits and tours by
Western newsmen. As a result of ambitious government plans.
East Timor is benefiting from significant improvements in
social services, particularly education and health centers,
communications, and economic conditions.
In Irian Jaya, fear of activities by the Organization for
Papuan Freedom (OPM) rebels and the Indonesian army continued
to influence Irianese to cross into neighboring Papua New
Guinea. Observers believe that reduced Indonesian military
activity in Irian Jaya has significantly cut down the number
of new border crossers.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
a. Political Killing
Press reports of covert summary executions of suspected
criminals continued to appear in 1985, although the overall
number of killings is believed to be less than in previous
years. The executions, begun in 1982, started as a response
to the fast-rising rate of violent crime. While the specific
perpetrators of these executions, known euphemistically as
"mysterious killings," have not been publicly identified, past
comments by government officials supported the widespread
public suspicion of government involvement. In contrast to
previous years, government officials made virtually no public
comments on the so-called "mysterious killings".
Officially, press reporting of "mysterious killings" is
banned, but in practice a variety of newspapers report
periodic discoveries of unidentified corpses found shot,
stabbed, or beaten to death, which, combined with other
characteristics, are generally understood to mark victims of
"mysterious killings." One widely respected daily newspaper
reports crime statistics from time to time, including
unidentified, unexplained murders, implying a monthly figure
of 25 to 50 victims country-wide, but it is impossible to know
how many of these should be considered "mysterious killings."
It is very difficult to estimate the number of such killings
as they are indistinguishable from many other acts of
violence, particularly among criminal bands. In the past
there have been claims that some of the killings were
politically motivated, but no such assertions have been made
recently. Earlier claims were not substantiated.
Another police response to increasing crime is a new policy of
"shoot to kill" in instances of violent crimes where the
criminal is attempting to escape from the police. Presumably
as part of an effort to make this new policy well-known,
incidents of police shootings have received wide press
coverage over recent months.
There have been no substantiated reports of political killings
in Irian Jaya or East Timor, both areas of ongoing internal
strife between authorities and the rebels. The Government
continued to offer amnesty to rebels in both provinces. The
commander of a Fretilin military unit, Muruk, and several of
his followers took advantage of the amnesty and surrendered in
January, 1985. Although the Government maintains restrictions
on their movements, the amnesty has been generally respected
for these individuals. While rebel activity in Irian Jaya
continues, there have been no reports of political killings on
either side.
b. Disappearance
In late 1985, an Indonesian Muslim social organization
developed a list of 40 or more people who "disappeared" during
the 1984 Tanjung Priok Riots and are presumed dead. Continued
reports of disappearances often refer to cases before 1985.
The Amnesty International report on East Timor, published in
1985, for example, lists disappearances up to 1984.
Regularized International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
access to prisons in East Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia has
helped to locate some persons thought to have disappeared. In
Irian Jaya, increasingly, persons presumed to have disappeared
are found to have crossed into Papua New Guinea.
c. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
Although stated government policy discourages torture and
cruel punishment of prisoners or detainees, instances of
torture, cruel treatment, and even death while under detention
are reported periodically in the press and elsewhere. Amnesty
International, in its 1985 Report on East Timor, again cites
what it claims is a military manual issued to Indonesian
troops in East Timor which appears to permit the use of
torture and threats on the lives of prisoners. The U.S.
Government is unaware of any evidence that would verify the
authenticity of the document. There have been a number of
press reports of prisoners' claims of maltreatment by the
police, and of individuals arrested and subsequently dying
while in police custody. The authorities generally do not
respond to such reports nor do they provide the public a more
detailed explanation about the victims' deaths.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Although the December 1981 Criminal Procedures Code (KUHAP)
contains protections against arbitrary arrest and detention
and specifies the right of prisoners to legal counsel and
notification of family members, a number of abuses still
occur. The provisions of the KUHAP are honored more often in
urban areas than in small towns or remote provinces, in part
because of a shortage of trained trial lawyers and ignorance
of the law on the part of those detained as well as by the
police. Indonesian law does not specifically include the
right of habeas corpus or its equivalent. Martial law,
declared in 1957, has never been lifted. Under special
emergency provisions instituted in 1966, a military
organization, the Command for the Restoration of Security and
Order (KOPKAMTIB) has wide powers to detain and interrogate
persons thought to endanger national security. These special
powers supersede the KUHAP protections and apply particularly
to cases of suspected subversion, sabotage, secession, or
corruption. No cases of KOPKAMTIB exercising its extralegal
powers were reported during 1985.
Although precise estimates of the number of persons detained
without trial are unavailable, human rights observers believe
there may be at least as many as 500 throughout Indonesia,
including in Aceh, East and Central Java, Irian Jaya, and East
Timor. The Governor of East Timor reports that a number of
Timorese have been released from detention for lack of
evidence. Since 1981 Indonesian authorities have used Atauro
Island off the coast of East Timor as a detention facility for
Timorese suspected of supporting Fretilin, or of having family
members fighting with it. The number of detainees at Atauro
reached 4,000 in late 1982 and then fell steadily. In October
1985, when the Government returned 239 detainees to the main
Timor Island, only 932 remained on Atauro, most of them from
the Viqueque area. While the Government intends to return
them as soon as possible, many have asked to stay on Atauro
until there is no longer any possible Fretilin threat in the
Viqueque area. In the meantime, the ICRC continues to provide
nutritional and medical assistance to those still detained on
Atauro .
Although Indonesia is a party to a number of International
Labor Organization (ILO) conventions on the right to organize
and bargain collectively and on forced labor, government
officials have made clear that Indonesia's obligations under
these conventions will not be allowed to interfere with
"Pancasila" labor relations. There have been no reports of
the use of forced labor in Indonesia in recent years.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Political interference and corruption exist in the Indonesian
legal system. In criminal proceedings, defendants are
sometimes able to buy their way out of prosecution at various
stages of the proceedings. In civil cases, court decisions
are sometimes influenced by the payment of bribes. In
response to these abuses, from time to time the Government has
taken action against particularly flagrant offenders, but by
and large these practices continue unabated.
In cases involving what could broadly be defined as
"political" issues, particularly instances in which persons
are being tried under the subversion provisions of 1963, the
accused are rarely, if ever, found innocent. The Government
vigorously pursued prosecution of persons charged in
connection with the 1984 Tanjung Priok riots. All of the
persons tried during 1985 for involvement with the riots or
the various bombing incidents in Java in 1984-85 have been
found guilty of antigovernment activity and received stiff
sentences. In all such security-related cases, it is widely
believed that the Government will ensure conviction
irrespective of the evidence presented in court. Although the
Government has not announced data on the number of persons
serving sentences for subversion, one reliable estimate
suggests there may be several hundred.
A number of well-known figures were tried in 1985 under
subversion laws: Muslim preacher A.M. Fatwa for purported
instigation of rioting in Tanjung Priok in 1984; retired
Lieutenant General H.R. Dharsono for subversive and criminal
activity following the riots; a former government minister for
involvement in bombings in Jakarta; and a 23-year-old
publisher in Jogjakarta accused of printing articles appearing
to oppose the Government. Fatwa was convicted and sentenced
to 18 years in prison. Attorneys for General Dharsono sought
to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the 1963
regulations, promulgated in response to the serious internal
instability of that time, were no longer valid in Indonesia's
present stable condition. The court did not accept this
argument. In the same case, Dharsono 's attorneys claimed the
retired general was not permitted to meet with legal counsel
for most of the 7 months he was held preceding his trial, and
that his continued detention during trial contravened common
legal practice, which would permit him to be released on
bail. However, during the trial he was given full opportunity
to air his views and those of defense witnesses as well;
although the court permitted only 6 of the 12 witnesses the
defense sought to testify. Dharsono received a 10-year
sentence .
The Government's execution of four former Indonesian Communist
Party (PKI) activists in mid-1985 generated strong criticism
from some foreign governments and private organizations. The
Government responded by noting that each of the victims had
been tried, provided the right of appeal, and executed in
accordance with Indonesian law.
Indonesia's criminal justice system lacks the number of
courts, trained judges, prosecutors, and police needed to cope
with the increase in crime in recent years. As a result there
are frequently lengthy delays in scheduling trials. Trials
are conducted by a three-judge panel which hears evidence,
decides guilt or innocence, and assesses punishment. Although
the right of appeal is not absolute, it is observed in most
cases. Most court sessions are open to the public, and most
defendants have access to counsel .
As government employees, judges in Indonesia come under the
jurisdiction of the Executive Branch. The Indonesian society
of trial lawyers, Peradin, has noted that interference from
the Executive Branch greatly affects the independence of the
judiciary. In 1985 the Government proposed legislation which
would establish judges as civil servants with a slightly more
independent position.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
Judicial warrants for searches are required except for
suspected subversion, economic crimes, and corruption.
However, forced or surreptitious entry by security agencies
reportedly occurs periodically. Both local and international
telephone calls are believed to be monitored selectively by
government security agencies. Although, in general,
correspondence is not monitored, letter mail to and from East
Timor is subject to official scrutiny.
Permits are required for the import of foreign publications
and video tapes, which must be reviewed by government
censors. Some foreign newspapers and magazines, especially
from Australia, cannot be imported. Communist literature is
prohibited. Foreign publications which do enter Indonesia are
subject to censorship.
Excepting one quasi-official daily newspaper which uses
Chinese characters and claims a circulation of over 100,000,
Chinese language publications can neither be imported nor
produced domestically. Chinese characters are routinely
blotted out of foreign news photos and advertising. There are
no laws against speaking Chinese, but the Government lays
heavy stress on the learning and use of the national language,
Bahasa Indonesia, to promote national unity.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Rights, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedom of speech and press is circumscribed. The
Constitution gives Parliament the authority to legislate these
restrictions. In recent years. Parliament has helped create a
body of law delimiting the rights of individuals and of the
Government. In the absence of implementing regulations for
many of these laws, different government agencies frequently
interpret them as they choose. The result is that these
agencies hold considerable discretionary authority in the
field of civil rights; e.g., in freedom of the press and
speech. Traditional governmental concern about public
statements or publications which could be perceived as
critical of the Governinent, and therefore threatening to the
nation's stability, is a major factor inhibiting the exercise
of free speech and press.
Opposition groups are generally free to meet and formulate
views, but they are inhibited from disseminating them publicly
because of media reluctance to risk official disapproval or
because of informal government instructions not to publish the
opinions of or news about prominent opposition figures. In
1985 the Governinent brought to trial several well-known
figures whom it accused of committing or contributing to
possibly subversive acts while speaking their views.
Authorities provided general topic guidelines to Muslim
speakers during the Muslim holidays, when preachers addressed
large gatherings. In a few instances, preachers who went
beyond these guidelines were arrested.
The general lack of specific, clear guidelines on what is
permissible has generated a significant degree of
self-censorship both in public speaking and in the press.
School faculties sometimes refrain from producing materials,
including dissertations, which they believe might provoke
government displeasure. Publishers also are unwilling to
accept manuscripts dealing with controversial issues. Foreign
books critical of the Government or dealing with sensitive
topics, such as human rights, are similarly avoided by
importers. Foreign periodicals, readily available in
Indonesia, are scrupulously censored by their private
importers in order to avoid government confiscation of the
materials. With few exceptions this self-censorship is
thorough and effectively responds to government concerns.
The press is largely privately owned. While espousing a
"free" press, the Government expects the media to be
"responsible" by supporting national economic development
goals and domestic stability. While journalists and
publishers practice considerable self-censorship, the
Government closely monitors the media for material it finds
unacceptable. In such instances, editors or journalists
routinely receive oral instructions from government officials
about news which cannot be reported. Articles and editorials
do address sensitive issues, and, within the vaguely defined
limitations, journalists are sometimes given a surprisingly
wide latitude in which to operate. Directly or indirectly the
press periodically criticizes government officials and
policies, with no negative result from authorities. Outside
Jakarta the press occasionally draws public attention to
corruption cases involving government officials.
There is a single, government-run television network. Private
radio stations, of which there are more than 400 throughout
the country, are required to use government-provided news
reports .
In 1985 the Government invited two separate groups of foreign
journalists to visit East Timor. Of the resulting reports,
the local press avoided publication of all but the mildest
articles. Some of the same material in the foreign press
entered Indonesia without trouble, and some was subsequently
During 1985 the Department of Information suspended
publication of two small-circulation journals, both for
printing what the Government perceived to be inflammatory,
antigovernment articles. One journal was permitted to
reopen. The editor of the other journal was sentenced to 8
years in prison.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Regional and national meetings of virtually all organizations
must have government permission, and local jurisdictions often
require prior approval for smaller gatherings as well. While
such approval is usually granted, there are restrictions on
meetings in East Timor. The Government authorizes public
assembly for social and ceremonial events and, as long as
there is no perceived security risk, for political
activities .
In mid-1985, the Parliament passed a "Social Organizations"
bill (known as the "ORMAS" bill) which requires virtually all
organizations to accept the state ideology of Pancasila. The
law, which has yet to be implemented, empowers the Government,
with the approval of the Supreme Court, to disband any
organization it believes to be acting against the tenets of
Pancasila. In addition, government approval will be required
before any organization can accept funding from foreign
donors. The ORMAS bill is the fifth and final piece of a
five-part package of controversial political legislation
designed to broaden and strengthen government control over the
political process. The other four bills passed in the 1984-85
legislative session similarly served to consolidate and extend
government influence on political parties, the composition of
Parliament, national referendums, and general elections.
Indonesian workers are organized in a national federation
(SPSI) which has been composed of 21 national industrial
unions. These unions have recently been reduced in number and
will no longer maintain regional and district organizations.
No decision has been reached about the final number of unions
that will be formed. They have a total membership of some 3
million out of a work force of 65 million, in which some 15
million persons are employed in the industrialized sector.
The SPSI is the only trade union federation legally permitted
in Indonesia, and all trade unions must belong to it.
Political activity by the SPSI is forbidden. It is not
permitted to organize civil servants or workers in
government-owned enterprises nor in major sectors of the
economy declared by the Government to be vital, such as air
transportation and oil. However, some professional
organizations, such as those for teachers, do act as unions in
some respects.
Restrictions on the SPSI's autonomy include the imposition of
government appointees in many of its positions, a requirement
that its senior officials be active members of the
government-sponsored GOLKAR, and extensive government
intervention in labor-management relations. The law requires
government permission for strikes, which as a matter of
practice is never given.
c. Freedom of Religion
The constitutional guarantees of religious freedom apply only
to those religions recognized by the State — Islam,
Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Although the Indonesian
population is overwhelmingly Muslim, practice and teaching of
the other recognized faiths are permitted.
A plethora of mystical and other "folk religions" also
exists. In 1985 the North Sumatra High Prosecutor banned 13
mystical sects, with approximately 18,000 adherents in all.
While it appears that the Government tolerates private
practice of banned religions, adherents of these groups are
occasionally harassed by local authorities.
A 1972 letter of the Supreme Prosecutor reiterated a
Presidential Decree of 1962 banning membership in Jehovah's
Witnesses and the Baha'i faith. Although technically belief
in one of these religions is not prohibited, legal decisions
based on the 1972 and 1962 decrees made clear that such belief
implies membership, which is illegal.
Because the first tenet of Pancasila specifies belief in a
Supreme Being, atheism is forbidden. Some animists in remote
parts of Indonesia have reportedly been pressured to convert
to Islam or Christianity in order to fulfill the requirement
of belief in a Supreme Being. There are no legal bars to
religious conversion, and conversions between faiths do
occur. However, proselytizing in heavily Islamic areas is
seen as potentially disruptive and is discouraged. For this
reason, restrictions on the activities of foreign
missionaries, such as difficulty in obtaining or renewing
visas or residence permits, have increased in such areas in
recent years. In other areas, missionary activities are
relatively unimpeded and in fact are welcomed in remoter
districts where government resources in fields such as
education and health are insufficient.
Official holidays include Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist, as
well as Muslim holy days. Indonesian Muslims, Christians, and
Buddhists maintain active links with coreligionists outside
Indonesia. Travel to religious gatherings is permitted. The
Government organizes annual Hajj trips to Mecca for
Indonesians wishing to undertake this pilgrimage.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Although movement within Indonesia generally is unimpeded,
restrictions do exist. The Government requires permits to
change residence in certain areas, primarily to control the
further shift of population from rural to urban locations.
Since 1958-59, ethnic Chinese have been denied the right to
live in rural areas of Java. Travel to certain regions,
including much of eastern Indonesia, requires a permit. There
are also restrictions on movement to and within East Timor and
within parts of Irian Jaya. Former political detainees
associated with the abortive 1965 coup attempt are required to
notify authorities of travel away from their homes. Members
or alleged supporters of the PKI outside Indonesia have not
been allowed to return except on a case-by-case basis. The
Government has tried to keep track of all of the 2.5 million
former members of the PKI and some 20 million members of its
front groups. However, government statements indicate that it
has lost track of several million of them (including fairly
senior members.)
The Government periodically restricts foreign travel of
domestic critics and others in disfavor with the Government.
An estimated 20,000 Indonesians are currently not permitted to
leave the country. They include "Petition of 50" members
critical of the Government, those arrested in the student
riots of 1974, and others. However, other critics of the
Government are free to travel abroad, and a person banned at
one time may be permitted to travel subsequently. A
Presidential Instruction in 1985 removed a requirement for
students to obtain government permission before going abroad
to study. In July the Director General of Immigration
announced that Indonesian students will no longer be permitted
to study in 31 countries: those which are "Socialist-
Communist;" those with which Indonesia has no diplomatic ties;
and those termed "extremist," particularly Libya, Iraq, Syria,
and Iran. Although many of the countries concerned protested
this decision, it is unclear whether the Government has
rescinded it.
In October the Government announced that it will move 1,324
"illegal immigrants" to the Island of Sumba . Most of these
reportedly are Chinese who illegally reentered Indonesia after
having left it for China in the 1960 's. Government officials
state that Sumba will be a temporary residence site until the
countries of origin of these people agree to take them back.
Earlier in the year the press reported signs that the
Government planned to settle up to 15,000 "illegal immigrant"
families in Sumba.
Under its humane refugee policy, Indonesia has given first
asylum to over 95,000 Indochinese refugees since 1975. In
cooperation with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR), the Government also has provided one of the region's
three refugee processing centers, where Indochinese refugees
who have landed in Indonesia, as well as those from other
first asylum countries, are given training to prepare them for
permanent residence in other countries.
In 1985 residents of Irian Jaya continued to cross into
territory of Papua New Guinea, but in much smaller numbers
than in 1984. There currently are an estimated 10,000
Irianese in refugee camps in Papua New Guinea. Most fled
their homes in response to rebel warnings or threats of
Government and 0PM warfare or other disturbances in their home
areas. Continued rebel allegations of Indonesian military
reprisals against border crossers have kept most of them from
returning to their homeland. Since 1984 the Indonesian and
Papua New Guinea governments have worked together closely in
an effort to resolve the border crosser problem and to ensure
the peaceful return of Irianese to their homes. To date,
however, less than a thousand have returned under government-
sponsored programs. In late 1985, the Government agreed that
any Irianese who wished to return to Irian Jaya were welcome,
and those who did not were free to live where and how they
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
The Government has its authority largely concentrated in the
hands of a small group of active-duty and retired military
officers and civilian technocrats led by President Soeharto.
This system ensures the continued role of the military in all
fields of governmental activity. The Parliament, political
parties, and the general public have little ability to
influence government decisions. However, particularly in
budgetary matters, including military procurement, civilian
technocrats exercise decisive influence, and government
ministers are obliged to defend their departments' budgets and
programs before parliamentary committees, the proceedings of
which receive wide press coverage.
All adult citizens, except active-duty members of the armed
forces and convicted criminals serving prison sentences, . are
eligible to vote in 1987 for the 400 elected members of
Parliament. In mid-1985 the Government announced that persons
convicted of involvement in the 1965 PKI-inspired coup attempt
may be permitted to vote for the first time under the New
Order Government. To do so, however, they must pass a
stringent government review of their current and past
activities to ensure there is no lingering PKI taint.
Elections for Parliament, held every 5 years, are scheduled
for 1987. Currently, the military is represented in
Parliament by 75 appointed members, who join the 360 elected
members and 25 other appointed ones for a total of 460. In
accordance with the 1985 law, in the 1987 election 400 members
of Parliament will be elected; there will be 400 appointees,
all from the military.
The President is elected by the People's Consultative Assembly
(MPR) , which consists of Parliament plus an equal number of
appointed members and sits in a special session every 5 years
following the general parliamentary election.
Parliament considers laws presented to it by government
departments and agencies but does not draft laws on its own.
The Government seeks to resolve any potential parliamentary
concerns before the bills are officially presented to
Parliament. Parliament can and does change the text and
intent of bills it reviews. Bills of major significance,
however, are often passed with little or no alteration.
Usually Parliament works on the basis of consensus, not
majority voting, to resolve any differing views during
committee consideration of a bill.
A 1975 law limits the number of political parties to three.
One of these is made up of four former Muslim political
parties and another of former nationalist and Christian
parties. Members in these two parties occasionally reflect
their earlier party affiliations, thereby exacerbating
factional splits in their new parties. This is one factor
weakening the parties' election prospects and diminishing
their ability effectively to represent their constituents'
concerns to the Government. The third, GOLKAR, is a
longstanding, government-sponsored organization of functional
groups which serves a role similar to that of a political
party. In the three national elections since 1971, GOLKAR has
won with more than 60 percent of the vote each time. Civil
servants and their families are expected to vote for GOLKAR.
Districts which support non-GOLKAR candidates may find
government resources devoted to development projects in the
area reduced. The two parties and GOLKAR are prohibited from
organizing and operating officially below the district level
except during election campaigns. Critics contend this system
gives GOLKAR an advantage, since its civil service members
have constant access to small towns and villages because of
their official duties.
The PKI and a formerly powerful Muslim party (MASYUMI) linked
with separatist rebellions in the late 1950 's are specifically
banned. Members of the former and many leaders of the latter
are not allowed to run for office or to be active politically.
In 1985 even a family relationship to a person accused of
Communist party sympathies or involvement could prevent one
from running for office.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
The Government considers outside investigations of alleged
human rights to be interference in its internal affairs.
Amnesty International representatives, for example, have been
refused official access to Indonesia because of the
organization's continued criticism of the Government and the
Government's belief that it is biased. There is no local
chapter of Amnesty International, although individual citizens
may have memberships.
In 1985 the Government concluded an agreement with the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) permitting it
to: conduct an annual series of visit to prisoners detained
in connection with the events in East Timor; provide medical
and food aid to displaced persons on Atauro Island as well as
to assess the situation of those persons returned to the main
island after having been displaced in Atauro; carry out
medical-nutritional surveys to vulnerable villages in East
Timor; and continue efforts to reunite divided families in
East Timor and abroad (mainly Portugal).
In addition, the ICRC is permitted to visit prisoners
convicted of participation in the PKI-backed attempted coup in
The Government largely declined to comment on the Amnesty
International Report on East Timor issued in mid-1985 and
refused to respond to any of the allegations made in it. In
response to a European Parliament resolution condemning the
execution of former PKI activists and a proposal to condemn
human rights practices in Indonesia, the Indonesian Government
sent a delegation to the Parliament to defend Indonesia's
policies .
A number of domestic organizations are concerned with human
rights. The Department of Justice has an agency charged with
the drafting of legal codes to replace the colonial laws still
in effect. This agency also has responsibility for the
establishment of legal documentation facilities and for
programs to inform citizens of their legal rights. In
addition, several state university law departments and private
groups associated with mosques and churches are involved in
providing legal counseling services. The trial lawyers
association, Peradin, provides some free legal services to the
There are private legal aid organizations which help in cases
of human rights violations by defending or representing
aggrieved parties in court and by stimulating press attention
and discussion. Several of these were prominent in defending
persons charged in connection with rioting in Jakarta in
1984. These private legal aid organizations have established
offices in many larger Indonesian cities but they are
dependent on donations. In 1985 the Government refused to
permit a foreign donation to one of these legal aid groups.
The Jakarta city government withdrew long-supplied funding to
another, reportedly as a cost-cutting measure. The ORMAS bill
requiring government approval of any foreign funding is
expected to result in an overall reduction of contributions to
these organizations.
In its 1985 Report, Amnesty International expresses concern
about continuing reports of extrajudicial executions.
"disappearances," torture, and arbitrary arrests and detention
on political grounds by the security forces. It was also
especially concerned about alleged human rights violations in
the aftermath of and related to the 1984 Tanjung Priok riots,
and, in connection with the abortive 1965 coup, the continued
detention of about 200 prisoners, a number of whom it believes
may not have received fair trials. Freedom House rated
Indonesia "partly free."
Indonesia is the fifth most populous country in the world and
the largest nation in Southeast Asia, with a population in
1985 estimated at 173,103,000. Although the population growth
rate has been reduced to 2 percent, population pressure on
the overcrowded islands of Java, Madura, and Bali continues to
be a government concern. In an effort to reduce some of this
pressure, and to develop more isolated parts of the country,
the Government has an ambitious "transmigration" program which
attempts to resettle farmers from overcrowded areas in less
populous and usually more backward and remote areas.
The memory of the economic and social chaos of the last years
of the Sukarno regime continues to ensure that orderly social
and economic development for all segments of society remains
the New Order's primary goal. This goal is reiterated in the
fifth principle of Pancasila, social justice, which is
interpreted to mean that the basic human needs of all
Indonesians should be satisfied without discrimination. While
there continue to be great disparities in wealth and
opportunity, under the Soeharto Government the benefits of
development and improved economic conditions have been
widespread. Although the Government has largely abandoned
special programs designed to strengthen the "Pribumi" or
ethnic Indonesian role in business, an increasing number of
young ethnic Indonesians are now choosing business careers
over civil service jobs.
World Bank figures show the per capita gross national product
(GNP) at $560 for 1983. Although agriculture is the most
important domestic sector of the economy, accounting for more
than 30 percent of the GNP and employing about 66 percent of
the labor force, petroleum exports of 800,000 to 900,000
barrels per day dominate the external economy. Economic
growth continues at a moderate but steady pace but is expected
to decline from 1984 's 6 percent to about 3 percent for 1985.
A continued soft international petroleum market and generally
lower prices for commodities hindered more rapid economic
growth. The World Bank estimates 26 percent of the urban
population and 44 percent of the rural population were below
the absolute poverty level in 1980, a sharp drop from 1970
levels of 51 percent and 59 percent respectively.
Agricultural output has increased significantly in recent
years, about 3.8 percent per annum. A good harvest in 1985
followed a remarkable increase in food production in 1984. In
that year the country achieved self-sufficiency in rice
production for the first time since independence, a feat
repeated in 1985. Partly as a result of improving output, the
percentage of caloric supply available for consumption
relative to nutritional requirements was 110 in 1981.
Community health standards remain low, although intensive
government efforts are underway to train doctors and other
health specialists and to provide medical facilities and
supplies. Tuberculosis, mosquito-borne diseases, including
malaria, and skin disease are endemic. In 1985, life
expectancy at birth was 55 years, and the infant mortality
rate was 89 per 1,000 live births. In 1981, 23 percent of the
population (40 percent in urban areas and 19 percent in rural
areas) had access to safe water.
By 1981, virtually all primary school-age children were
enrolled in schools, although the Government continues to face
difficulty recruiting and keeping teachers for schools in
isolated areas. In 1984, the President announced compulsory
education through primary grades and encouraged wealthy
Indonesians to "adopt" poorer students and help them pay for
schooling. The World Bank estimates that as of 1981 total
adult literacy stood at 67 percent — 77 percent of men and 58
percent of women; 83 percent of urban and 52 percent of rural
dwel lers .
Employment of children under age 14 is forbidden by the basic
labor law of 1948. The law also established an 8-hour day,
48-hour week, 1 rest day per week, and a definite vacation
period. An extensive body of labor law and ministerial
regulations provides for minimum standards of industrial
health and safety. In practice, these statutes are rarely
Indonesian law provides that the Department of Manpower Office
in each region shall, at regular intervals, establish a
minimum wage for its particular region. A new minimum wage
for Jakarta, for example, was established in November 1985 at
$1.18 per day. The range of regional minimum wages is from a
high of $1.18 per day in some areas to a low of .50^ per day
in others. The Department of Manpower and the Central
Statistical Office also report for each region a minimum
physical needs figure.
Indonesian women generally enjoy a high degree of economic and
social freedom, and there is significant cultural latitude for
women's participation in public life. Women occupy important
mid-level positions in the civil service, educational
institutions, labor unions, the military, the professions, and
private business. The Cabinet named in 1983 includes two
women: The Minister of State for Women's Affairs and the
Minister for Social Affairs. Although legislation guarantees
women equal treatment, women seldom receive equal pay for
equal work. In addition to a government-sponsored women's
organization in which membership and participation are
mandatory, there are several voluntary, private groups which
work to advance women's legal, economic and political rights.
Chief among these is KOWANI (Congress of Indonesian Women), an
umbrella organization for some 55 women's groups.
Ethnic Chinese are pressured to adopt Indonesian customs and
take Indonesian names. While they are also encouraged to
become citizens, some Chinese find legal avenues to
citizenship blocked or are discouraged by the time-consuming
and expensive task of obtaining citizenship documents.
Government regulations prohibit the operation of all-Chinese
schools and institutions of higher learning, teaching in
Chinese languages, the formation of exclusively Chinese
cultural groups or trade associations, and the use of Chinese
characters on signboards or in publications. However, social
and religious groups which are in effect all Chinese are not
proscribed and do exist.