Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1989

President Soeharto and the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) —
which include the military services and the police—are the
preeminent institutions in Indonesia's Government, which came
to power in the mid-1960 's after an abortive Communist-backed
coup. Since 1967 executive authority has been exercised by
retired and active-duty military officers and civilian
technocrats under President Soeharto "s leadership. The partly
elected, partly appointed Parliament (DPR) considers but does
not initiate legislation. The People's Consultative Assembly
(MPR) —consisting of 500 appointed members and the 500 DPR
members—meets every 5 years to approve guidelines for
government policy and elect the President and Vice President.
Indonesia is the fifth most populous country in the world and
the largest in Southeast Asia. Since independence, Indonesian
governments have sought to create a unique national identity
and to accommodate a diversity of ethnic, linguistic,
religious, and social groups, while assuring internal security
and cohesion. The centerpiece of the Soeharto Government's
political program is "Pancasila," an eclectic state ideology
emphasizing consultation and consensus and composed of five
broad principles: belief in one supreme god, belief in a just
and civilized humanity, Indonesian national unity, democracy,
and social justice.
The armed forces number about 416,000. A little less than
half serve in the army, which is primarily concerned with
internal security. Under a "dual function" concept, many
military officers serve in Parliament and the civilian
bureaucracy at all levels. Frequent military operations took
place in East Timor and Irian Jaya, where Fretilin and
Organization for a Free Papua (0PM) rebels continued sporadic
activities in low-level insurgencies.
Although Indonesia's mixed economy involves the State in
nearly all sectors, the Government is pursuing a set of
policies designed to give greater freedom to the private
sector. Beginning with the collapse of oil prices in the
early 1980's, deregulation aimed primarily at stimulating
growth in nonoil sectors has been a major government
objective. A large devaluation in 1986, and a subsequent
flexible exchange rate, has helped strengthen the rupiah and
boost nonoil exports. The oil sector accounted for less than
50 percent of Government revenues and foreign exchange
earnings in 1988. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in
1988 was 5.7 percent and the industrial growth rate much
higher. Despite substantial increases in real incomes in the
past 20 years, the country remains poor and wide disparities
in wealth continue. Corruption and influence peddling are
endemic and restrict growth and economic opportunity.
Despite progress in some areas, including greater freedom of
movement for Indonesians and foreigners to and within East
Timor, continued tolerance for ethnic, racial, and religious
differences, a broadened political debate, including enhancing
the role of parliament vis-a-vis the executive, new government
regulations that protect working women and formalize the
minimum wage structure, and the conviction and sentencing to
jail terms of several police officers for mistreatment or
killing of detainees, serious human rights problems remained.
These included harsh treatment of Muslim activists' efforts to
organize opposition, discrimination against ethnic Chinese,
reports of excessive use of force in quelling violence in
Lampung, periodic detentions of East Timorese suspected of
Fretilin sympathies, killings of civilians in East Timor,
harsh sentences meted out in several subversion trials,
continued significant restrictions on freedoms of the press
and movement, and pervasive political controls which ensure
continued military domination of the Government.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
Casualties in Lampung Province in a clash in February between
members of an Islamic sect and the military, responding to an
officer's kidnaping and murder, officially numbered 38, most
of them civilians. The background of the incident remains
obscure, but persistent allegations of a significantly higher
death toll than officially announced raise concern about the
military's possible use of excessive force in restoring order.
A presidential autobiography published in April explained that
the "mysterious killings" or summary executions of thousands
of suspected criminals from 1982 to 1985 were a deliberate
policy to stem increased crime. At that time, officials
attributed the killings to criminal gang warfare. An
estimated two dozen or more civilians were killed by the
military in East Timor in 1989.
      b. Disappearance
Temporary disappearance of persons held for interrogation by
security forces occurred periodically, particularly in East
Timor and Irian Jaya. Reports were often unspecific and
difficult to confirm, but in some cases authorities appeared
to act outside the law.
No exact figures are available on the number of permanent
disappearances widely believed to occur yearly. Newspapers in
May publicized the cases of Nano and Soni Abdullah, brothers
who reportedly disappeared following arrest in Pekanbaru in
1984. Regular International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
access to prisons in East Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia has
helped to locate some missing persons in past years.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Credible reports of torture and mistreatment of criminal
suspects, detainees, and prisoners were frequent. Police
treatment of detainees, even in minor incidents, often results
in physical abuse. Several students detained in the wake of
the Pope's visit to East Timor in October were reportedly
beaten. The practice of "shooting to wound" suspected
criminals allegedly attempting to elude arrest in Medan
declined in 1989. The local press, nonetheless, continued to
report at least one incident each month in which police shot a
suspect in the leg, often repeatedly. Officials have publicly
acknowledged and condemned police brutality and unacceptable
prison conditions and in 1989 took disciplinary action in
several cases against criminal suspects. Among other
instances, the Yogyakarta military court dismissed two
policemen and sentenced them to jail terms of 2 years 3 months
and 2 years 6 months, respectively, for beating to death
17-year-old Bakri Budi Santoso, and a military court in
Cianjur sentenced two police officers to 17 and 15 years,
respectively, for killing a student, Apud Mahpudin. There
were no known instances of officials being punished for
mistreatment of political prisoners or detainees. East
Timorese Bishop Belo and others alleged mistreatment and
torture by security forces in East Timor of persons detained
on suspicion of aiding or sympathizing with the Fretilin
guerrillas, charges denied by officials. Similar allegations
were made concerning mistreatment of persons in Irian Jaya
suspected of ties with or sympathies for the Organization for
a Free Papua (0PM) rebels. Rebels in both East Timor and
Irian Jaya reportedly harassed and terrorized civilians from
time to time.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The criminal procedures code (KUHAP) contains protections
against arbitrary arrest and detention and specifies the right
of prisoners to legal counsel and notification of family.
These safeguards are often disregarded in practice, notably in
cases of alleged subversion. KUHAP provisions are respected
more regularly in urban areas than in small towns or remote
areas. Security agencies arrest and detain persons to
intimidate and inhibit activities they consider undesirable.
Legal mechanisms for redress of such actions are inadequate.
The Jakarta district court rejected a suit by student
demonstrators against police for alleged unlawful detention on
the grounds that the students were interrogated as witnesses,
not suspects, and thus not entitled to challenge the legality
of their detention.
Detainees in cases of alleged subversion can be held up to a
year without charges. In the past the number of persons
detained without trial was estimated to be as many as 500,
although this figure could not be verified, and no more recent
estimates were available. Security forces in East Timor on
several occasions detained persons for days or weeks on
suspicion of subversive activity. Most were subsequently
released without charges. Implementation of a 1987
Presidential Decree on remission of prison terms produced
uncertainty about the status of some prisoners, including
several reportedly still in jail despite apparent expiration
of their sentences. Mrs. Sundari Abdulrahman, a former
official in the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) whose case
was under consideration by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, was
released from prison in August. A number of East Timorese
left prisons in Jakarta and Dili after finishing sentences for
involvement with Fretilin.
The precise functions and powers of the Agency for
Coordination of Assistance for the Consolidation of National
Security (BAKORSTANAS) remained unclear. In Lampung and
elsewhere, elements of it appeared to exercise the emergency
security provisions accorded its predecessor, the Command for
the Restoration of Security and Order (KOPKAMTIB) . KOPKAMTIB
was permitted exceptions from KUHAP procedures and wide,
special powers to detain and interrogate persons thought to
threaten national security, particularly in cases of suspected
subversion, sabotage, secession, or corruption. BAKORSTANAS
may have retained those powers. Indonesian law does not
provide for the right to judicial review of such actions or
for the right to protection or legal aid for the detainees.
Their cases are rarely if ever publicized.
With regard to forced or compulsory labor, see section 6.c.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
A quadripartite judiciary, consisting of general, religious,
military, and administrative courts, exists below the Supreme
Court, the highest court of appeal. Parliament passed a law
in December that will permit--once implementing regulations
are drawn up--the religious courts used by many Muslims to
effect judgments without consent of the general courts and to
exercise jurisdiction over a scmewhet widened field of family
law matters. The independence of the judiciary is
significantly constrained by the facts that judges are civil
servants of the executive branch and that the Supreme Court
cannot annul laws passed by Parliament.
Panels of three judges conduct most trials, hear evidence,
decide guilt or innocence, and assess punishment. The right
of appeal from district court to high court to Supreme Court
exists. The Supreme Court does not consider material aspects
of a case, only the application of law by lower courts.
Initial judgments are rarely reversed, although sentences are
occasionally changed. Most court sessions are open to the
public and most defendants, if they can pay, have access to
counsel. However, such access is in some cases significantly
delayed and there are occasional reports of official efforts
to influence the choice of counsel. If destitute, defendants
can find private legal help such as that provided by the Legal
Aid Institute (LBH) . Alternatively, the courts have
discretion to provide a limited amount of aid for those unable
to afford legal assistance. The State must assure legal
assistance in capital cases. Government support for programs
to improve legal awareness and literacy, legal training, and
legal research capabilities is a positive step toward
addressing the legal system's deficiencies.
Corruption permeates the Indonesian legal system. In civil
and criminal cases, bribes can influence decisions,
prosecution, conviction, and sentencing. Use in trials of
forced confessions and limitations on the presentation of
evidence by the defense are reportedly common. The Government
has occasionally taken action against flagrant offenders, but
by and large these abuses continue unchecked.
Conviction is virtually automatic for persons accused under
Indonesia's broad 1963 subversion provisions, which among
other things forbid advocacy or actions in support of
secession or creation of an Islamic state, as well as
criticism of Pancasilo. President Soeharto said in August
that comparative study of foreign ideologies, including
Communism, with Pancasila is permissible. The Government
tried or announced preparations to try some 70 persons for
subversion in 1989. A student and an employee at Yogyakarta's
Gajah Mada University were sentenced to prison terms of 7 and
8 years, respectively, for circulating, possessing, or
advocating banned writings. Appeals are expected. Trials of
some defendants from the February incident in Lampung produced
sentences of life imprisonment in five cases and 20 years in
another. All but one of these defendants refused the
Government's offer of legal assistance. Trials also began in
Jakarta and Sumbawa of persons charged with seeking to
establish an Islamic state.
The Government does not provide data on the number of persons
serving sentences under antisubversion laws. Some observers
estimate there may be at least 400. These estimates include
persons sentenced for involvement in the 1965 coup attempt and
alleged Muslim extremists, many of whom, some observers
believe, were convicted for peaceful protest activity.
The President (through the Coordinating Minister for Political
Affairs and Security), the Minister of Justice, and the
Attorney General, criticized as too lenient a district court
decision in March which sentenced a convicted smuggler to a
year's probation. Smuggling is classified as a subversive
offense and subject to a maximum penalty of death. In April a
national legal association called on its Jakarta chapter to
deny legal counsel to persons charged with smuggling and
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Judicial warrants for searches are required except for cases
involving suspected subversion, economic crimes, and
corruption. However, forced or surreptitious entry by
security agencies reportedly occurs regularly, especially in
East Timor. Security agencies also conduct surveillance of
persons and residences to intimidate and are believed to
monitor selectively local and international telephone calls,
without legal restraint. Correspondence generally is not
monitored, although letter mail to and from East Timor may
still be an exception. Government security officials try to
monitor the movements and activities of up to 2.5 million
former members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and
approximately 20 million former members of its front groups.
Even relatives of such persons can suffer adverse
consequences, e.g., loss of government employment.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Significant restrictions on freedom of speech and press
exist. Laws delimiting the rights of individual persons and
the Government are applied by different government agencies
with considerable discretionary authority and without
effective judicial review. Public statements or publications
which criticize or could be perceived as critical of the
Government, Pancasila, top leaders, their families, or
particular religious and ethnic groups are strongly
discouraged if not strictly forbidden. Trials and convictions
of some persons under the subversion law periodically
demonstrate these limitations.
The media generally avoid or exercise great caution in
disseminating views of government critics, including prominent
opposition figures, because of the risk of official disapproval
or informal government instructions not to publish them. 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.
Nonetheless, the limits of government tolerance are regularly
tested, and public discussion and media reporting of a number
of topics generally regarded as sensitive to the Government
(including human rights issues) increased significantly in
1989. Some representatives of nongovernmental organizations
attending an April conference in Belgium went beyond the
governmental bounds, however, and officials publicly and
privately chastised them for voicing criticism outside
Indonesia of the alleged negative social and human rights
impact of certain development projects.
The Government operates the national television network. It
was criticized by the Minister of Information for airing songs
the Government judged to be of low moral value and by
religious leaders for showing a film considered offensive to
Muslims. A private company which offers a subscription
television service to viewers in the Jakarta area received a
government warning for advertising and programming considered
culturally inappropriate. Satellite dishes are used by the
media and the elite to monitor television broadcasts from the
United States and other countries. Television signals from
neighboring countries are received in some parts of
Indonesia. While more than 400 private radio stations operate
in Indonesia, they may use only government-provided news
programs. The Minister of Information warned the many
Indonesians who listen to shortwave radio broadcasts not to be
unduly influenced by reports critical of the country.
While academic freedom is guaranteed, constraints exist on the
activities of scholars. They sometimes refrain from producing
written materials, including dissertations, which they believe
might provoke government displeasure. Publishers are unwilling
to accept manuscripts dealing with controversial issues.
The press is largely privately owned. Civilian and military
officials regularly maintain that, in accordance with
Pancasila, the press is "free" but also "responsible." The
Government expects the media to support national development
and stability; to be educational; and to uphold professional
standards. Government officials regularly advise editors and
reporters about news which cannot be reported and closely
monitor media outlets for material unacceptable to the
Government. The Government issues oral or written warnings
for published material found objectionable. If ignored,
warnings could result in a circulation ban or revocation of
the license to publish. The number of newspaper licenses is
limited, and regulations control the amount of advertising and
the number of pages. In 1989 the press received warnings for
reports on land disputes, student demonstrations, and
subversion trials; for speculation about future political
leaders; for publication of sexually provocative pictures; and
for misquotation of officials. The Attorney General banned as
culturally inappropriate an Indonesian-language translation of
a children's educational book depicting the human reproductive
process. Several other foreign and domestic books were banned
for assertedly subversive ideological content.
Chinese-language publications, with the exception of one
officially sanctioned daily newspaper, can neither be imported
nor produced domestically. Although organized private
instruction of Chinese is discouraged, there are some private
school classes, informal circles, and private teachers. No
laws prohibit the speaking of Chinese, but the Government lays
heavy stress on the learning and use of the national language,
Bahasa Indonesia.
The Government closely regulates visiting and resident foreign
correspondents and occasionally reminds the latter of its
prerogative to deny requests for visas or visa extensions.
One foreign correspondent was denied entry in 1989; no foreign
correspondents were denied visa extensions.
The importation of foreign publications and video tapes, which
must be reviewed by government censors, requires a permit.
Importers usually avoid foreign books critical of the
Government or dealing with topics sensitive to the Government,INPONESIA
such as human rights. Foreign periodicals, readily available
in Indonesia, are subject to censorship prior to
distribution. Importation of some foreign newspapers and
magazines and all Communist publications is prohibited. In
1989 the Attorney General and Supreme Court banned first the
importation of "The Satanic Verses" and then its domestic
circulation. Censorship of imported newspapers and other
written materials generally was more relaxed in 1989.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
All organizations must have government permission to hold
regional and national meetings. Local jurisdictions often
require prior approval for smaller gatherings as well. While
obtaining such approval is fairly automatic and apparently was
eased in 1989, authorities withhold permission on occasion.
Officials refused to approve a Christian youth gathering in a
predominantly Muslim area in southeast Sulawesi. Student
gatherings have often been the target of disapprovals, and
overt political activity at universities remains forbidden
under the "campus life normalization" (or "NKK") law of 1978.
Nonetheless, student activism, including peaceful
demonstrations, increased markedly in 1989. Reactions from
civilian and military officials and university rectors varied
considerably. Sometimes students were applauded for bringing
issues to public attention; other times tolerated, warned, or
expelled; and on several occasions forcibly dispersed.
Several student protestors were hospitalized in September
following a clash with security forces in Yogyakarta.
Authorities detained and arrested several students for
participating in protests. Two of these went on trial on
criminal charges. A demonstration by about a score of
students displaying nationalist banners which took place at
the conclusion of the Pope's mass in East Timor was broken up
by security forces. Credible reports say several students
were detained; others sought refuge in the local bishop's
The 1985 "Social Organizations" (or "Ormas") Law requires all
organizations, including recognized religions and
associations, to adhere to Pancasila. This provision, which
limits political activity, is widely understood as prohibiting
groups which advocate m.aking Indonesia an Islamic state. The
law empowers the Government to disband any organization it
believes to be acting against the tenets of Pancasila and
requires prior government approval for any organization's
acceptance of foreign funds. Security forces have infiltrated
and broken up Islamic study groups which met privately to
advocate strict obedience to Islamic law.
For a discussion of freedom of association as it applies to
labor unions, see Section 6. a.
      c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution guarantees religious freedom for four
state-recognized religions--Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and
Hinduism--and also permits the practice of mystic and animist
religion ("aliran kepercayaan" ) . Although most Indonesians
are Muslims, Indonesia has traditionally displayed a high
degree of religious tolerance, and the practice and teachings
of the other recognized faiths are respected. The Catholic
church operates freely in East Timor.
24-900 O—90-
There are, however, a number of restrictions on religious
activity. According to official statistics, nearly 400
"misleading religious cults" are banned, including some
Islamic groups considered heretical. These bannings affect
perhaps 20,000 adherents or more. New bannings occur
periodically. Membership in Jehovah's Witnesses and the
Baha i faith is banned, although several thousand Jehovah'-^
Witnesses are believed to practice in Jakarta alone. A
central Java court in 1989 sentenced two persons to jail terms
of 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 years, respectively, for spreading
Jehovah's Witnesses' teachings and allegedly causing unrest.
Authorities have occasionally harassed or discriminated
against Baha 'is. Twelve members of a banned Muslim sect were
reportedly arrested in south Sumatra in September en route to
Aceh for proselytizing. Because the first tenet of the
Pancasila is belief in a supreme being, atheism is forbidden.
The legal requirement to adhere to Pancasila extends to all
religious and secular organizations. The Govei nment often
tolerates private practice of banned religions, although local
authorities occasionally harass adherents or pressure them to
The Government strongly opposes Muslim groups which advocate
establishing an Islanic state or acknowledging only Islamic
law, both of which are outlawed. An estimated 120 alleged
Muslim extremists are serving prison terms on charges of
subversion. Several foreign Muslim fundamentalist teachers
reportedly found proselytizing while on tourist passes were
deported during the year with some publicity.
There is no legal bar to conversion between faiths, and
conversions occur. However, proselytizing between the
recognized religions or in areas heavily dominated by one
religion or another—excluding mystic and animist
religions--is considered potentially disruptive and
discouraged. Foreign missionary activities are relatively
unimpeded. In recent years, however, some foreign
missionaries have had difficulty renewing visas or residence
permits. On the basis of laws and decrees issued in the
mid-1970's, the Government does not allow foreign missionaries
to spend more than 10 years in Indonesia (15 in exceptional
circumstances only). With rare exceptions, enforcement of
this policy does not discriminate by sect or nationality.
Exceptions to the 10-year rule have also been granted to
foreign religious workers in the remote areas of Irian Jaya
and Kalimantan since late 1987. The Government says it
intends over time to reduce the number of foreign missionaries
in order to encourage employment of Indonesians. Foreign
missionary work is subject to the funding stipulations of the
"Ormas" law discussed above.
Indonesian Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists maintain active
links with coreligionists inside and outside Indonesia and
travel abroad for religious gatherings. The Government
permits a set number of pilgrims to make the hajj annually.
Such trips are available only though government-organized
tours The Pope visited Indonesia in October, offering mass
to Catholics in Medan, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Flores, and East
Timor. During his visit, he praised Indonesia's respect for
the ethnic, cultural, and religious pluralism among its
citizens. More than 100,000 Catholics from East and West
Timor attended the service in Dili at which the Pope
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Restrictions on freedom of movement exist. Permits to seek
work in a new location are required in certain areas,
primarily to control the further shift of population from
rural to urban areas.
The Government said noncitizen ethnic Chinese who did not take
advantage of a 1988 offer of immigration amnesty would be
tried as illegal immigrants. Estimates of the number of
persons potentially affected vary considerably, and no such
trials have yet taken place. In the past, some ethnic Chinese
encountered legal and bureaucratic obstacles to obtaining
citizenship, despite official encouragement of naturalization.
Officials barred 60 ethnic Chinese citizens from foreign
travel for a year for visiting China without proper
By administrative action, the Government periodically
prohibits foreign travel of domestic critics and others in
disfavor. Although reliable figures are not available, it is
estimated that some 5,000 Indonesians--including some
prominent past civilian and military of f icials--currently may
not leave the country. Some critics, however, are free to
travel abroad, and a person banned at one time may be
permitted to travel subsequently. Students do not need
government permission to go abroad for study. In April the
Government abolished the exit visa requirement for active-duty
and retired members of the armed forces, state officials,
civil servants, and their families, a step potentially
affecting an estimated 11 percent of the population.
Restrictions on movement by Indonesian and foreign citizens to
and within parts of Irian Jaya continue, officially based on
the grounds of security risk or the cultural vulnerability of
indigenous peoples. Beginning in January 1989, restrictions
on movement to, from, and within East Timor eased considerably
under a policy of "normalizing" East Timor's status.
Nonetheless, frequent security checks affect virtually all
transportation and travel in East Timor outside Dili. Curfews
and other restrictions on movement are often in force at times
of military operations in a given area. Family visits back to
East Timor by East Timorese now living in Australia began in
1988 and continued in 1939.
Former political detainees, including those associated with
the abortive 1965 coup, must notify authorities of their
movements and may not change their residence without official
permission. Members or alleged supporters of the banned
Indonesian Comm.unist Party (PKI) outside Indonesia have been
allowed to return only on a case-by-case basis.
Under its refugee policy, Indonesia has given first asylum to
over 106,000 Indochinese refugees since 1975. The Indochinese
refugee population at Indonesia's Galang facility stood at
about 6,600 at the end of October. Of this number, 1,200 are
classified as refugees under the Comprehensive Plan of Action
on Indochinese refugees (CPA) adopted at the June
International Conference on Indochinese Refugees in Geneva;
the rest are classified as asylum-seekers pending screening by
Indonesian authorities for refugee status eligibility. Since
May Indonesia accepted refugee boats pushed off from Malaysia
with a total of 2,500 Indochinese asylum seekers.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
The Parliament, political parties, and the general public have
little ability to influence government decisions or to change
the system or its leadership. President Soeharto and a small
group of active-duty and retired military officers and
civilian technocrats exercise governmental authority. The
military, under a dual-function doctrine of defense/security
plus social/political responsibilities, is preeminent in most
areas of government activity, although in some parts of the
Government its presence has declined in recent years. The
Constitution provides Parliament a mechanism to call the
President to account in extraordinary circumstances but
whether it could be used effectively is in doubt. Government
leaders do seek out and receive public opinion informally. In
several cases in 1989, petitions to ministers and the
Parliament about inequitable land decisions and other
demonstrable injustices received wide publicity. Reflecting a
strong cultural preference, Indonesian leaders emphasize the
importance of decisionmaking through "consultation leading to
consensus," rather than voting, to resolve disputes.
In 1989 lively public debate among elites on the need for
political openness to keep pace with and support economic
progress focused attention on the paternalistic political
system and the challenge of managing change. When asked
publicly whether there is a need for changes in electoral
procedures, political party leaders responded that the current
electoral system is appropriate and adequate.
The Parliament--whose membership must be acceptable to the
Government--considers bills presented to it by government
departments and agencies and does not draft laws on its own,
although it has the constitutional right to do so. The
Government seeks to resolve potential parliamentary concerns
before bills are officially presented. Parliament changes the
text and occasionally the intent of bills it reviews, and in
1989 significantly altered major bills on the national
education system and religious courts.
Only three political organizations are allowed by law. The
United Development Party (PPP) and the Indonesian Democratic
Party (PDI) are not considered opposition parties. By law,
they embrace the Pancasila, and they seldom espouse policies
much different from the Government's. The third, GOLKAR, is a
longstanding, government-sponsored organization of functional
groups which acts as a political party. Former members of the
Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and some other banned parties
may not run for office or be active politically.
The leaders of the three legal political organizations are
approved, if not chosen, by the Government, and their
activities are closely scrutinized and often guided by
government authorities. GOLKAR maintains close institutional
links with the armed forces and KORPRI, the nonunion
association to which all civil servants automatically belong.
Civil servants may join any of the political parties with
official permission, but most are members of GOLKAR.
General elections for Parliament and for provincial and
district assemblies are held every 5 years. GOLKAR won 73
percent of the vote in the 1987 elections. All adult
citizens, except active-duty armed forces personnel, convicted
criminals serving prison sentences, and some former PKI
members, are eligible to vote. Voting is not mandatory, but
strong social pressures ensure participation. Protest votes
take the form of blank or deliberately spoiled ballots. As in
1988, voters in several villages in Java rejected governmentproposed
candidates running unopposed for the position of
village head.
Under the 1985 election law, the Parliament elected in April
1987 consists of 500 members, 400 elected by the voters and
100 appointed by the Government from the armed forces. The
People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) consists of Parliament
plus 500 other members appointed by the President and by
regional governments. The MPR, which convenes every 5 years,
ended its most recent session in March 1988 after approving
guidelines for government policy for the next 5 years and
reelecting President Soeharto to a new 5-year term, with
retired Lt . Gen. Sudharmono as Vice President. For the first
time an alternate candidate vied for the Vice Presidency in
1988, until he ultimately withdrew from contention.
Participation in the political process by Indonesia's many
ethnic groups and minorities varies. Some are well and
prominently represented; some are underrepresented and without
influence; and others have a significant voice only through
informal channels.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The Government considers outside investigations of alleged
human rights violations to be interference in its internal
affairs. AI has been refused access to Indonesia; Asia Watch
visited in 1988 and 1989. Access specifically to East Timor
by representatives of such organizations--which the Government
considers biased--has traditionally been restricted. However,
AI and Asia Watch have not yet tested the new East Timor
"normalization" policy, which appears to have loosened those
restrictions. Diplomats and some journalists are encouraged
to visit the province. The Government ignored calls by
domestic human rights groups and activists for impartial
investigations of the February Lampung incident and detentions
of radical preachers in Sumbawa in March. While various
domestic organizations and persons interested in human rights
operate energetically, the Government uses its considerable
powers to discourage sustained, meaningful human rights
activities, including maintenance of close ties with foreign
human rights organizations.
The ICRC is authorized by the Government to visit persons
jailed in connection with armed resistance in East Timor One
press report in 1989 suggested that many have not been visited
despite the Government's pledge. The ICRC provides medical
and food aid to prisoners and their families; carries out
medical and nutritional surveys in villages in East Timor;
arranged family reunification in East Timor and abroad (mainly
Portugal); and arranges repatriation to Portugal of former
Portuguese civil servants and their families in East Timor.
The ICRC opened an office in Irian Jaya in 1989 to assist
future border crossers returning from camps in Papua New
Guinea and to monitor conditions of persons jailed in
connection with 0PM activities. In 1988 and 1989, the ICRC
visited and interviewed all remaining prisoners convicted of
participation in the 1965 Cominunist-backed attempted coup. The
Government does not allow access by the ICRC or any other
international humanitarian group to the numerous Muslim
activists held prisoner.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
Indonesia generally exhibits considerable tolerance for
ethnic, racial, and major religious differences, although
official and informal discrimination against ethnic Chinese is
a significant exception. They are pressured to take
Indonesian names. Since 1959 noncitizen ethnic Chinese have
been denied the right to run businesses in rural Indonesia.
Government regulations prohibit the operation of all-Chinese
schools and institutions of higher learning, formation of
exclusively Chinese cultural groups or trade associations, and
public display of Chinese characters. However, these
restrictions are not always observed in practice. Many people
of Chinese ancestry have been successful in business and the
professions. Social and religious groups which are, in
effect, all-Chinese are not proscribed and do exist.
Performances of a Chinese opera from Taiwan in Jakarta and of
a play about Chinese in Medan were canceled by the Government.
Women are equal before the law, with the same rights,
obligations and opportunities afforded men. Indonesia has
ratified the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all Forms
of Discrimination against Women. Some Indonesian women enjoy
a high degree of economic and social freedom. Women occupy
important midlevel positions in the civil service, educational
institutions, labor unions, the military, the professions, and
private business. Women make up approximately 37 percent of
the work force, with the majority in the rural sector.
Despite legal guarantees of equal treatment, women seldom
receive equal pay for equal work. The Minister for the Role
of Women, Mrs. A. Sulasikin Murpratomo, has called public
attention to women's undue burden of illiteracy, poor health,
and poor nutrition. Traditional practices ("adat") can also
in some cases undercut state policy. Spouses of civil
servants are strongly encouraged to participate in a
government-sponsored women's organization. Several voluntary,
private groups work actively to advance women's legal,
economic, and political rights. The media periodically report
instances of rape and other abuse against women and subsequent
legal proceedings against the perpetrators. However, reliable
data concerning the extent of violence against women is not
available. The Government has recognized publicly that
domestic violence is an emerging problem for Indonesian
society. In May it held a seminar to encourage efforts to
understand and overcome this problem. Several university
centers studying the role of women focus some attention on
domestic violence. One Jakarta-based organization provided
counseling to victims and families in 210 cases of domestic
violence in 1988 and in 94 cases as of April in 1989. The
Ministry of Religious Affairs also offers counseling to
married couples. However, cultural, social, psychological,
and other factors inhibit reporting of such abuse and recourse
to counseling and legal protection.
Section 6 Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
Private-sector workers are free to form or join unions without
previous authorization, but such unions, in order to be able
to bargain collectively, must belong to the All Indonesia
Workers Union (SPSI), which, for all practical purposes, is
the only legal trade union organization in Indonesia. About 5
percent of the total labor force of nearly 75 million is
organized. The SPSI now consists of 9 departments covering
broad industrial sectors and 9 specialized institutes. It has
representation in all 27 provinces. It estimates that it has
about 10,000 local units at the plant level and over 3 million
members. A number of groups and professional associations,
e.g., the teachers' and journalists' associations and the
Joint Secretariat of Industrial Unions, function as
quasi-trade unions and operate openly, although they do not
have the right to engage in collective bargaining. The SPSI
and its local units draw up their own constitutions and rules
and elect their representatives.
The Government views unions as an essential component of its
development plans, with the role of increasing worker
participation in development, maintaining industrial peace,
and elucidating the Government's philosophy of Pancasila as it
applies to industrial relations. Labor-management relations
in Indonesia are supposed to be carried out within the
framework of Pancasila principles, which emphasize
consultation among the parties and avoidance of
confrontation. There is pressure on SPSI officials to join
GOLKAR, and GOLKAR members dominate the leadership.
The Ormas law discussed in Section 2.b. governs the activities
of the SPSI and the quasi-unions . Government approval is
needed for meetings outside SPSI headquarters. Permission is
routinely given to the SPSI and to nonregistered organizations
overtly functioning as unions. A union may be dissolved, as
with other mass organizations if the Government believes it is
acting against Pancasila tenets. There are no laws or
regulations laying out the procedures for the dissolution of a
union, and there have been no cases of union dissolution.
Although the SPSI maintains extensive international contacts,
it is not affiliated with any international trade union
organization, except the ASEAN Trade Union Council—a regional
body consisting almost exclusively of affiliates of the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). As
a fallout of the 1985 restructuring of the SPSI, there has
been no formal ICFTU presence in Indonesia since 1986.
International trade union secretariats retain links with some
elements of the SPSI, such as the port and maritime workers.
The "Joint Secretariat," grouping elements of the SPSI and the
unions not legally recognized by the Government, has links
with the World Confederation of Labor. The SPSI is seeking to
affiliate with the ICFTU.
All organized workers have a legal right to strike with the
exception of civil servants and employees in the 21 industries
designated by a Presidential Decree in 1963 as vital to the
national interest. Many of the installations and projects
covered by the decree no longer exist or have been absorbed
into other agencies and departments. Those that remain cover
about 170,000 workers.
State enterprise employees and civil servants must belong to
KORPRI, the Indonesian corps of civil servants--a nonunion
association chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs. The
central board of KORPRI and its secretariats at the provincial
level have employee relations bureaus, which are responsible
for settling employee disputes. Some government departments
have specific agreements with the Department of Manpower which
call for the convening of a labor committee to resolve
A private-sector union must notify the local Department of
Manpower office that its attempts to resolve disagreements
through negotiations have failed and that the union will go on
strike. No approval is required. During 1988 and 1989, there
were 53 reported strikes involving 11,456 workers. Most
strikes are brief, spontaneous, and nonviolent. Some observers
believe that for every officially recorded strike, there may
be 4 to 5 others.
The strike outcomes varied. A review of approximately 20
strikes near Jakarta showed some employee demands were met.
Some involved conciliation by the local branch of the
Department of Manpower, some were resolved through
negotiations with management, and others resulted in the
firing of union officials for ostensibly work-related reasons.
Private-sector industrial disputes are submitted to tripartite
administrative tribunals. These tribunals hear arguments and
issue executable, enforceable decisions. Decisions of the
tribunals and private arbitrators can be enforced through the
courts. The Minister of Manpower can nullify decisions of the
administrative tribunals on legal or national interest
grounds. Although technically the Minister's decisions can be
appealed to the courts, in practice it is rarely done. Under
the law the parties can elect binding arbitration in lieu of
the tripartite settlement mechanism. However, this provision
is seldom used; most cases are handled by the Department of
Manpower's mediation and conciliation service.
Indonesia has ratified International Labor Organization (ILO)
Convention 98 on the Right to Bargain Collectively, but has
not ratified Convention 87 on the Freedom of Association.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial
Organizations (AFL-CIO) believes that Indonesian workers are
denied the right of association. Specifically, it alleges
that the SPSI is dominated by the Government and is an agent
of government labor policy, that the Government unilaterally
denies the right to strike in certain industries, that the
Government regularly guarantees a nonunion environment to
foreign investors, and that public employees may not organize
or strike. The ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association
(CFA) has under consideration a 1987 complaint by the ICFTU
which alleges that Indonesian legislation restricts trade
union rights, particularly the rights of government employees,
contrary to the principles of freedom of association and the
provisions of ILO Convention 98. The Committee requested at
its November 1988 session that the Government take steps to
amend its legislation in some areas and to provide additional
information on others. The Government said in its February
response that freedom of association and collective bargaining
are fully respected and that Indonesia is now in the process
of developing "the most suitable pattern" of applying these
rights. In May 1989, the CFA still found that a large section
of the Indonesian work force does not have freedom to form or
join a workers' organization of their own choosing and
requested the Government to amend its legislation to permit
government employees to establish unions outside the KORPRI
structure and to remove other restrictions.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Collective bargaining is guaranteed by law; the Department of
Manpower vigorously promotes collective agreements as
instruments of Pancasila industrial relations. The
overwhelming majority of the SPSI's collective bargaining
agreements are negotiated and concluded bilaterally with the
employer. Once an employer has been notified that 25
employees have joined a union, he is under an obligation to
bargain. As a transitional stage to encourage collective
bargaining, regulations require that every company which has
25 or more employees must issue company regulations defining
the terms and conditions of employment. Of the approximately
10,000 local SPSI units, only about half have executed
collective bargaining agreements. In what the Department of
Manpower has characterized as an effort to promote voluntary
negotiations between employees and employers, it has
encouraged the organization of unions. The Minister of
Manpower has set a target of 2,000 collective bargaining
agreements over the next 5 years. By regulation, negotiations
are to conclude within 30 days. If not, the matter is to be
submitted to the Department of Manpower for mediation and
conciliation/arbitration. In practice, most negotiations are
concluded before the end of the 30-day period. Agreements are
valid for 2 years and can be extended for 1 year.
The law protects collective bargaining agreements and the
negotiating process by imposing obligations on both the union
and the employer. Both parties are obligated to execute the
agreements and to bargain in good faith. The law applies
equally in the export processing zones. Some companies in
these zones have SPSI units; however, none has negotiated a
collective bargaining agreement.
Regulations expressly forbid employers from prejudging or
harassing employees because of union membership, and employees
are urged to report harassment to the Government. The SPSI
claims, supported by reported incidents, that some employers
discriminate against its members and those wishing to form
SPSI units. Charges of antiunion discrimination are handled
by the administrative tribunals.
Workers can organize without restriction in a private
enterprise even if it is designated vital by the Government.
If the State has a partial interest, the enterprise is
considered to be in the public service domain, but this does
not legally limit organizing. There are a significant number
of government/private joint enterprises which have labor
unions and which bargain collectively.
The AFL-CIO also alleges that Indonesia denies workers the
right to organize and bargain collectively. The AFL-CIO has
charged that the Government routinely denies permission for
union meetings and subverts collective bargaining by routinely
substituting compulsory arbitration for genuine collective
bargaining. The 1987 ICFTU complaint alleged that Indonesian
regulations permit only the SPSI to register legitimately,
thereby failing to encourage and promote collective
bargaining, and that the laws do not satisfy the antiunion
discrimination requirement of ILO Convention 98.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced labor is strictly prohibited and does not exist.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
In 1987 the Indonesian Department of Manpower issued new
regulations on child labor, acknowledged a class of children
under age 14 who for socioeconomic reasons must work and noted
that Indonesia's child labor laws have not been properly
enforced. These laws provide detailed safeguards, including
requirements for parental consent, prohibition of dangerous
work and night work and limiting the workday to 4 hours.
Employers must also cooperate with public authorities to
assure that children under 14 comply with the 1989 National
Education Law, which requires that children complete 9 years
of school beginning at age 7. However, these regulations are
inadequately enforced, and some observers have called for
national enforcement procedures.
The new regulations call for improved enforcement of the child
labor law. Employers are now required to report in detail on
every child employed, and periodic inspections are to be
carried out by the Department of Manpower. Employers not
complying with the law and regulations will be subject to
fines of $65 and/or up to 3 months in jail for each infraction.
The Manpower Department, as a follow-up to its new
regulations, has issued directives to remind local Department
of Manpower offices of their inspection obligations and to
increase inspection in the informal sectors. However,
according to the Department, as of March 1989 there were only
4,749 children registered as employed in Indonesia. Some
local observers claim that as many as 2 million youths under
the age of 14 are working one-half to full time or more,
though most of these are thought to be employed in family-run
businesses in the informal sector and at agricultural sites
where normal enforcement mechanisms are difficult to
implement. The Department of Manpower admits that employer
compliance with the new regulations is far less than ideal and
that it still lacks qualified inspectors to carry out the
inspections. It estimates that less than 50 percent of
companies employing children have registered.
Present efforts to control child labor focus primarily on
instituting educational programs for children who must work.
Future programs call for allocation of special funds to
provide educational opportunities for working children
cooperating with self-help institutes which will provide
educational programs, and increased government inspection.
The Government, however, still relies upon persuasion and
teaching employers rather than penalizing them.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The law establishes 7-hour workdays and 40-hour workweeks,
with one-half hour of rest for each 4 hours of work. The
daily overtime rate is one and one-half the normal hourly rate
for the first hour, and twice the hourly rate for additional
overtime. Regulations allow employers to deviate from the
normal work hours upon request to the Minister of Manpower
with agreement of the employees.
In the absence of a national minimum wage, minimum wages are
established for each region, and for sectors and subsectors
within the region, by regional wage councils working under the
supervision of the National Wage Council. This is a
quadripartite body consisting of representatives from labor,
management, government, and universities. It also establishes
a basic "physical needs" figure for each province--a monetary
amount considered sufficient to enable a single worker or
family to meet basic needs of nutrition, clothing, and
shelter. The annually calculated figure reflects changes in
the local Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food, clothing,
housing, transportation, and other family needs. Factors
considered by the wage councils ir setting minimum rates
include changes in the local CPI, the skill level of workers,
the local supply of manpower, and the ability of firms to
pay. Minimum wage rates fall short of providing the decent
standard of living the Government envisages. GDP per capita
in 1988 was $434. Figures from 1983, the latest available,
show that 26 per cent of the urban dwellers and 44 per cent of
the rural population live below the absolute poverty level as
defined by the World Bank. The minimum wage in the capital
city of Jakarta ranges between $0.89 and $1.18 per day,
depending on the industry.
A 1989 regulation on minimum wages calls for a review of
minimum wages every 2 years, forbids employers from lowering
wages already higher than the minimum, and provides mechanisms
for enforcement and penalties for employer noncompliance. It
also gives the Department of Manpower a legal basis for
entering the place of work to carry out inspections.
Labor law and ministerial regulations provide workers with
vacation pay, maternity leave, social security insurance,
workplace accident insurance, 12 paid public holidays,
generous overtime and sick leave pay, guaranteed severance and
service pay, paid leave for personal and family occasions, and
protection from delay in payment. In addition, workers
usually receive transportation allowances, food allowances in
cash or in kind or both, and holiday bonuses. Workers in more
modern facilities often receive health benefits, social
security contributions, and free meals.
Observance of the minimum wage varies from sector to sector
and from region to region, and there are no reliable figures
on compliance. Employer violation of overtime and minimum
wage regulations, however, is considered to be fairly common.
Manpower officials, backed by the new minimum wage regulation,
have threatened to audit companies not paying the minimum wage
and to take tougher action.
Both law and regulations provide for minimum standards of
industrial health and safety. Five new health and safety
regulations have been promulgated in the last 4 years. A
national Health and Safety Council was created to oversee the
enforcement efforts of the over 6,000 company safety
committees. The Department of Manpower conducts yearly
national campaigns to promote public awareness of health and
safety needs among workers and employers and administers a
country-wide comprehensive inspection system.
Workers are obligated to report hazardous working conditions
and employers are prevented by law from retaliating against
those who do. An ILO-sponsored program to enhance the
technical capabilities of government inspectors and plant
personnel in the area of chemical and major hazards control
was signed in 1988, and the Government has sought additional
technical assistance from other countries to increaseinspection capabilities. Safety and health programs in the
country's over 100,000 larger, registered industries in the
nonoil sector are hampered by a limited number of qualified
inspectors--less than 1,300; the slowness with which the firms
established the required plant safety committees (only about
6,000 as of May 1989); and the need for more and better
training of government inspectors and plant safety personnel