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2010 Outlook: Critical year for human rights

Sumber: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/12/21/2010 | Tgl terbit: Senin, 21 Desember 2009

The first is the normative dimension i.e. to what extent does SBY and Boediono manage/develop their vision, mission and programs relevant to human rights as well as their perspective of the experiences over the past five years.

The second dimension is the political environment, for example, to what extent does the environment contribute to the possibility for human rights to be at the forefront. Here, political factors in general, apart from the subjectivity of the SBY government, must be measured as well.

What we need to realize early on is that we are now at a time where major human rights international conventions are already acknowledged as universal norms within national legal systems. Therefore, the parameters of human rights promotion are no longer measured by normative standards such as ratification, existence of laws that are compatible towards human rights, or the formation of a special state agency to address human rights issues.

A more authentic measurement is by looking at how the State treats those who work to promote and protect human rights, for example, those known as human rights defenders. Quite frequently, human rights issues are continuously brought up rhetorically by high-ranking government officials, while on the other hand, protection and appreciation for those who defend human rights are in an opposite state.

Old criminal laws that haven’t seen changes in a long time – coupled with overlapping new laws in social, economic and cultural sectors — will always present difficulties in creating police partnerships with local communities or human rights defenders. Therefore, future assessment should consider whether restriction or criminalization against human rights defenders continues, including whether the mastermind behind Munir’s murder can be taken to court.

What development will human rights have in the years to come? Future political norms in terms of human rights will be influenced by SBY’s personal leadership, the one who originates from Indonesia-Java and a military background, but has a strong aspiration to become a citizen of the global society. Unfortunately, the aspiration is limited to ideas that lack support in the form of the paradigmatic understanding of the concept of a global society citizen.

For instance, SBY-Boediono 2009-2014’s vision and mission is to create a safe, just and prosperous community. “Safe” refers to stability. The definition of “stable” takes on the meaning of “better”, “no conflict or turbulence” and how to “consolidate defense and security.”

In the previous period, particularly on the issue of stability and security, this has been SBY’s proud achievement. As such, it is now used as the basic assumption in his future governance. He is convinced that he has succeeded in solving the issue of security stability and now it is time for prosperity.

This is exactly the point of vulnerability in the problem. Apart from it being a one-sided claim of achievement, the human rights concept in his government is still placed in a narrow dimension of prosperity. In SBY’s book of program, the term “human rights” is still used interchangeably with “people’s basic rights”. Human rights is still oriented as part of communitarian. Although seemingly with a strong aspiration to be part of global society citizens, SBY’s approach to democracy is based more on communitarian.

SBY lacks a human rights vision and mission as well as detailed programs. Instead, he concentrates on political understanding. For example, the Indonesian perspective of human rights is that it does not contradict with other issues such as religion, national interests or certain morals. At the field operational level, this attitude is confusing for security components such as the police. Democratic policing will always be burdened by communitarian values. Military will always hide from the need for correction by arguing claims of partial historical interests, especially in addressing the demand to reveal past crimes committed during the Soeharto era.

In his previous program, the SBY cabinet used the technical term “human rights” to refer to civil political and economic social and cultural rights, whereas those human rights terms are currently no longer used. The program now mentions the supremacy of law, where human rights is placed. Even then, only a very small part came out during public debate so that it didn’t describe an authentic human rights vision. There was no mention of human rights issues; they were merely a normative assumption.

Now let’s take a look at the second dimension: the political environment. People used to think that the government’s slow response toward cases of human rights violations were a symbol of the government’s inability and the parliament’s unwillingness. The parliament was the stumbling block.

The question now, is: does the stumbling block still exist? If not, can the government start performing its mandate?

Well, SBY is facing serious problems nowadays with the Century Bank scandal. It could end with his impeachment. Anyway, let’s forget it and focus on the issue of human rights. For example, the House of Representatives issued its recommendations on Sept. 28, 2009 regarding how to address the issue of missing persons. The recommendations suggested that the President issue a decree regarding ad hoc court; searche for missing persons; provide rehabilitation for victims’ families; and ratify the UN Convention against Enforced Disappearances. Has the President responded to these?

Human rights enforcement is clearly determined by the political configuration. Such configuration can be seen from the United Indonesia Cabinet Part II that SBY formed. Almost all political parties received their share of ministerial positions. Political parties that used to promote their differences have now merged themselves with the general election winner. The party’s unique characteristics are set aside for the sake of obtaining power. The basis of ideology such as nationalist, secular, and Islam is no longer put forward. The fundamental issues that differentiate SBY’s attitude from a party that was considered an obstacle to human rights have blurred.

This is pragmatic politics. Such strengthening of pragmatism in political relations will lead to an unhealthy democracy. In the future, the format of the Cabinet tends to choose compromise. The government performs with almost no criticism from the parliament. Even when criticism exists, it is directed by mentioning the challenges in a more constructive manner by both the political parties who support the government and those who originally claimed themselves as opposition. The role of opposition is larger in civil society nowadays, with Facebookers promoting anticorruption being a good example.

The promotion of universal values will face more challenges. For example, how can civil society break the silence about post-conflict areas such as Aceh, Papua and Poso, in which many issues of violence against women and massive political violence still persists? Such areas are vulnerable to discrimination and human rights violations.

The phenomenon in post-conflict areas came in the form of strengthened fundamentalism and religious conservationism as a separate set of values, which they are attempting to instill in society.

Such condition seems to be a post-conflict compensation where social norms have been destroyed.

Conflict creates situations where economic and survival activities that were once men’s role are now held by women. The renegotiation process of social roles between men and women is an undeniable discourse. Men use culture, morality and religion to recreate the power system as well as strengthen the power position that was held by men. This is the problem that we face in conflict areas such as Aceh. It will also become a heavy challenge for human rights defenders in the future.

Similar challenges will also appear at an international level. Terms such as “crimes against honor”, “defamation”, “blasphemy” and collective rights are currently used by anti-democracy states —­ the strength of anti-demonstration still uses religion as a tool. This is closely related to the configuration of UN’ Security Council, which has been influenced by power blocks of states that are involved in religious activity. States joined in the OKI sometimes create a coalition with the Vatican in relation to the limitation of sexual rights.

Maybe it is true that future opportunities lie in the hands of civil community. Therefore, civil community groups must obtain wide attention and support from the international community who are committed to promoting and protecting human rights.


The writer is coordinator for the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).



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