Subject: More Join Legal Fight to Keep Book-Banning Out of Indonesia

also Court Questions AGO Criteria On Book Bans

The Jakarta Globe

April 16, 2010

More Join Legal Fight to Keep Book-Banning Out of Indonesia

by Camelia Pasandaran

An author and a publisher on Thursday joined the fight to rescind the Attorney General's Office's authority to ban books and printed materials, filing a request with the Constitutional Court.

Rhoma Dwi Aria Yuliantri, co-author of "Lekra Doesn't Burn Books," and the Institute for Social History Indonesia, which published another book that was banned, were the new plaintiffs.

Both books were related to communism and were banned by the AGO last December.

Similar requests for a judicial review have been filed by another author, Darmawan, who wrote the banned "Six Ways to God," and by the Islamic Students Association with the other author of "Lekra Doesn't Burn Books," Muhidin M Dahlan.

Using the law in question, the AGO has banned 22 books in six years.

"It is against the Constitution concerning the freedom to express opinion," institute director I Gusti Agung Ayu Ratih told the court. "A work of more than 10 years, for the research and writing to publishing of the book, was eliminated and could not be read by people."

The book, "Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement and Suharto's Coup d'Etat in Indonesia," by John Roosa, gave a view on the 1965 communist movement that differed from the official version. It received an award as the best book on social science from the International Convention of Asian Scholars in 2007.

Rhoma's and Muhidin's book was about Lekra, or the People's Art Institute, which was linked to the Indonesian Communist Party outlawed in 1966.

Taufik Basari, one of the lawyers for Rhoma and the institute, told the court: "The banned books give new information on sensitive and controversial issues that could help people understand issues from various aspects. They include aspects that are rarely known by people."

He also argued that the political environment when the law was enacted was different from the current one and therefore the law was no longer relevant.


The Jakarta Post Thursday, April 15, 2010

Court Questions AGO Criteria On Book Bans

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

During a judicial review hearing on Wednesday, Constitutional Court judges questioned the AGO on its criteria for public order disruption under the 2004 AGO law on the monitoring and controlling of the publication of books.

Darmawan, whose book Enam Jalan Menuju Tuhan (Six Paths to God) was banned in Dec. 2009, filed a request for a review recently to contest Article 30 of the 2004 Attorney General's Office (AGO) Law, covering the AGO's authority to maintain public order.

The law stipulates that the AGO has the authority to monitor the circulation of printed materials.

"What are the criteria for disrupting public order?" Constitutional Court judge, Harjono, asked the AGO.

He said the criteria had to be clear as to whether there were changes from the previous 1963 Law on Circulation of Printed Materials that could disrupt public order.

"The AGO determines criteria for public order disruption," Moh. Amari from AGO said, adding that the law defined disrupting public order as any act that contradicted the laws or general norms in society. It also prohibits attempts to disseminate Communism, Marxism, Leninism and atheism.

Public order disruption is defined as an actual threat in which there is a consequence or precipitation of an event. The impact of the book has to be proven before banning a book, the panel said.

The procedure involved in issuing a ban on a book took a long time, Amari said. The process begins when people report to the AGO that a book could disrupt public order or the AGO determines this on its own. A special section of the AGO subsequently processes and studies the report or findings. After that the sub-directorate of supervision of mass media forms a team to find and test elements that could disrupt public order. The process is then submitted to a clearing house.

"The clearing house, which comprises representatives from the prosecutor's office, the police, the military intelligence agency, the State Intelligence Agency and the Communications and Information Ministry, as well as civilian experts, will then decide whether to ban the book or not," Amari said.

Beisides Darmawan's, the AGO recently banned Dalih Pembunuhan Massal: Gerakan 30 September dan Kudeta Soeharto (Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30 Movement and Soeharto's Coup d'Etat) by John Roosa; Mengungkap Misteri Keberagaman Agama (Resolving the Mystery of Religious Diversity) by Syahrudin Ahmad; Suara Gereja Bagi Umat Tertindas Penderitaan: Tetesan Darah Cucuran dan Air Mata Umat Tuhan di Papua Barat Harus Diakhiri (The Church's Voice for Suppressed People: Blood and Tears of God's Congregation in West Papua Must be Ended) by Cocrateze Sofyan Yoman; and Lekra Tak Pernah Membakar Buku, Suara Senyap Lembar Kebudayaan Harian Rakjat 1950-1965 (Lekra Never Burns Books, Harian Rakjat's Cultural Page's Silent Voice 1950-1965) by Rhoma Dwi Aria Yuliantri and Muhidin M. Dahlan.

Darmawan said his book had no content that could disrupt public order, since it was only about his life experience of finding God.

Leonardo Johannes Rimba, who was testifying for the petitioners, claimed that he, as a scholar of political science in the 1980s, had experienced difficulty in accessing textbooks because Soeharto had banned them. (ipa)

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