September 24 marks the commemoration of National Farmers Day. Every year, thousands of farmers take to the streets to demand the justice and prosperity that seems to have been forgotten by the government.
National Farmers Day this year was quite different from earlier ones because today, it is not just farmers who are taking to the streets but workers, students and the social organisations that make up the Labour Movement with the People (GEBRAK).
The demands taken up by GEBRAK are also varied but show that they have the same interests in fighting for justice for the ordinary people. This year, GEBRAK has packaged these demands under two words: Reform Corrupted (Reformasi Dikorupsi).
This year’s commemoration of National Farmers Day coincides with an outpouring of anger by the ordinary people against the tyrannical actions of the government and the House of Representatives (DPR). These actions include:
1. Ratifying laws which significantly undermine democratic life in Indonesia such as the revised Corruption Eradication Commission Law (UU KPK) and the Law on Water Resources, plans to enact the Draft Criminal Code (RKUHP), the Draft Law on Land, the Draft Law on Correctional Institutions, the Draft Law on Mining and Coal and other draft laws which endanger the ordinary people, and plans to revise the Labour Law for the sake of investment. The government and the DPR are of one voice in supporting these draft laws and revisions to existing laws which facilitate investment, threaten democracy and criminalise the people’s movement. Meanwhile draft laws which would protect ordinary people such as the Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence and the Draft Law on the Protection of Domestic Workers have been languishing for years and are not being prioritised. Yet if we look more closely, the victims of sexual violence and abused domestic workers desperately need legal protection from the state. This shows that the ordinary people are being forgotten by the government and the DPR.
2. Weakening the KPK by selecting a new leadership of problematic commissioners and the rushed passing of revisions to the KPK Law. The revisions to the KPK Law weaken the agency by restricting and obstructing its phone tapping powers, the formation of an oversight committee which will be selected by the president and abolishing other key powers that ensure the agency’s effectiveness.
3. Negligent in preventing and dealing with the forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra and slowness in arresting the actors behind the fires. Data from the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) as of September 15 shows that there are 2,862 hotspots covering a total of 328,724 hectares. Over the last week, the conditions in Kalimantan and parts of Sumatra have become a haze emergency. Meanwhile the government issues statements blaming and scapegoating traditional and local communities for the fires while protecting the big plantation companies.
4. Sending military and police reinforcements to Papua on the justification of maintaining peace and allowing the use of vague legal articles to arrest indigenous Papuans, laws which are in fact tools to repress freedom of expression in Papua. What about the duty and the obligation of the state in guaranteeing, protecting and respecting the values of human rights in Papua.
5. The return to the regime of involving the TNI (Indonesian military) and the police in civil institutions. The government’s pledge to uphold the supremacy of law in the security sector has also yet to be realised. This is demonstrated by the legal fact that TNI officers who commit crimes are only tried in military courts which gives rise to impunity. In addition to this, the placement of active TNI and police officers in government institutions has the potential to threaten civil freedoms and their involvement in acts of violence against the people.
All of the issues above represent a curbing of democracy and shows the strength of the oligarchy in regulating the pillars of life for the ordinary people. The oligarchy which controls the power has become the main actor in destroying democracy and the ideals of reformasi – the political reform movement which began in 1998. Laws are being designed for sake of maintaining power, wealth and profit. The critical voices of the ordinary people meanwhile are being silenced for the sake for facilitating business and investment.
Civil freedoms are an indicator of the state of democracy in Indonesia. Currently however, democracy is in a critical condition and needs urgent assistance. This is the reason why the ordinary people are taking to the streets and voicing their anxieties and demands.
Based on the above, the Labour Movement with the People (GEBRAK):
1. Rejects the RKUHP, the Draft Land Law, the Natural Resources Law, the Draft Law on Coal and Mining, revisions to the Labour Law, the Draft Law on Correctional Institutions and all other draft and existing laws which are being deliberated by those who do not represent the voices of the Indonesian people.
2. Calls for the revocation of problematic regulations and laws enacted by the DPR and the government, namely the revised KPK Law and the Natural Resources Law.
3. Urges the government and the DPR to immediately ratify the Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence and the Draft Law on the Protection of Domestic Workers.
4. Demands that those responsible for the forest and land fires in Indonesia be arrested and tried.
5. Calls for an end to the criminalisation, intimidation and arrest of activists.
6. Calls for a return of the function of the TNI and the police as mandated by reformasi.
7. Asks the government to immediately release all Papuan political prisoners.
Jakarta, September 24, 2019
The Labour Movement with the People (GEBRAK)
GEBRAK is an alliance of labour and people’s movement organisations which focuses on the issues facing the ordinary people. GEBRAK’s members include the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI), the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance Confederation (KASBI), the National Trade Union Confederation (KSN), the National Labour Movement Centre (SGBN), the Indonesian Dock Workers Federation (FPPI), the Banking Sector Trade Union Communication Network, the Progressive Students School, the Indonesia Seafarers Movement, the Media and Creative Industries Trade Union for Democracy (SINDIKASI), Indonesian Youth Action (AKMI), Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women), the Indonesian Student League for Democracy National Committee (LMND-DN), People’s Emancipation and Ecology Action (AEEER), the University of Indonesia Progressive Students Union (SEMAR UI) and the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA).
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the statement was “Pernyataan Gerakan Buruh Bersama Rakyat (Gebrak) di aksi #Reformasidikorupsi”.]