In­done­sian Pres­i­dent inks de­cree to ban rad­i­cal groups

Govt to dis­band any group chal­leng­ing Pan­casila

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

In­done­sia has is­sued a de­cree al­low­ing it to ban groups that op­pose its of­fi­cial state ide­ol­ogy, in a move seen to tar­get rad­i­cal Is­lamists in the world’s most pop­u­lous Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­try. The law, signed by Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo on Mon­day, comes as con­cerns grow about the in­flu­ence of hard­lin­ers in In­done­sia, where a ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion prac­tice a mod­er­ate form of Is­lam. It em­pow­ers the gov­ern­ment to dis­band with­out trial any group that chal­lenges Pan­casila, a set of found­ing na­tional prin­ci­ples which pro­mote plu­ral­ism and tol­er­ance.

Pan­casila is con­sid­ered the uni­fy­ing fac­tor for a coun­try home to sig­nif­i­cant Chris­tian, Hindu and Bud­dhist mi­nori­ties. Se­cu­rity min­is­ter Wi­ranto, who goes by one name, said yes­ter­day the move was taken be­cause some groups were “threat­en­ing the na­tion’s ex­is­tence and cre­at­ing con­flict in the so­ci­ety”. Nei­ther Wi­ranto nor the de­cree name spe­cific or­ga­ni­za­tions. But ac­tivists said the move is aimed to dis­band Hizb utTahrir In­done­sia (HTI), the lo­cal branch of a rad­i­cal Is­lamist group that seeks to unify all Mus­lims into a caliphate.

The gov­ern­ment said in May it wanted to take le­gal steps to dis­solve the group. “This de­cree is merely a short­cut to dis­band HTI be­cause if they use the old NGO law, it’s go­ing to take a long time,” le­gal ex­pert Biv­itri Su­santi said. Mass or­ga­ni­za­tions spread­ing ide­olo­gies such as athe­ism and com­mu­nism are also banned un­der the de­cree. Rights ac­tivists warned that the de­cree could sti­fle a broad range of demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions.

“Ban­ning any or­ga­ni­za­tion strictly on ide­o­log­i­cal grounds, in­clud­ing Pan­casila, is a dra­co­nian ac­tion that un­der­mines rights of free­dom of as­so­ci­a­tion and ex­pres­sion,” An­dreas Har­sono, a Hu­man Rights Watch researcher in Jakarta, said. As­fi­nawati, the head of In­done­sia Le­gal Aid Foun­da­tion, said the move is “a set­back of In­done­sia’s democ­racy”. Wi­ranto de­nied that the de­cree aims to muf­fle NGOs. —AFP

MANILA: In this file photo, In­done­sia’s Pres­i­dent Joko Jokowi Wi­dodo ad­dresses the me­dia dur­ing a visit to the Mala­canang Palace in Manila, Philip­pines. —AP

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