News

Indonesian decree dangerous: rights groups

by
July 12, 2017

Organisations like Hizbut Tahrir could be targeted under a new decree from Indonesia's president.

The Indonesian government has issued a decree allowing them to ban "mass organisations" deemed a threat to its unity - a move described as "dangerous" by Human Rights Watch.

More than two months ago Indonesia's security minister Wiranto announced the government would be seeking to disband the hardline group Hizbut Tahrir, saying they had been linked to "conflict in society".

It was expected that when he stood up to announce a new presidential decree on Wednesday, it would be about banning that particular organisation.

Instead, he announced a more wide-ranging decree that targeted "mass organisations".

Current laws around mass organisations were no longer sufficient as they focus on Marxism, Leninism and atheism, he said.

"Indonesian history proves that other teachings can also replace and contradict Pancasila."

Wiranto urged calm, adding that the decree was intended to protect "unity" not to discredit Islamic organisations "let alone the Muslim community".

While the decree does not specifically mention Hizbut Tahrir, Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch said it was obviously written with them in mind.

"But the decree is so broad. It's a dangerous decree. It could be used against many groups... It's a huge setback for Indonesia's democracy," he told AAP.

The decree comes amid concerns of rising conservatism and intolerance in Indonesia.

The recent Jakarta election saw the mass mobilisation of hardline groups like Hizbut Tahrir, which were behind large-scale protests against the incumbent Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

Ahok - as he is commonly referred to - is currently in jail for blasphemy offences over comments he made referring to the Koran.

Hizbut Tahrir, which seeks to establish a caliphate operating under Sharia Law, told Muslims not to vote for a non-Muslim.

The group has been banned in Russia, Germany the Netherlands and a number of Middle Eastern countries.

Speaking before the announcement on Wednesday, spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, Ismail Yusanto, said they would "read and study" the presidential decree once it was released and consult their lawyers.

He said they had always conducted their activities peacefully.

Tweeting in response to the decree, research fellow at the Lowy Institute, Aaron Connelly said "not hard to imagine how this will be used against pluralist groups. When liberals tear down norms in response to threats, (it) always backfires".

"On a political level, (President Joko Widodo) Jokowi is walking right into a trap that will allow his opponents to falsely portray him as anti-Islam."

By
More in National
Login Sign Up

Dummy text