06 Januari 2010

AGO defends banning of five books

Published on The Jakarta Post (http://www.thejakartapost.com)

Dicky Christanto , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Wed, 01/06/2010 8:57 AM | Headlines

The Attorney General’s Office has insisted John Roosa’s famous book on the September 30th Movement and Soeharto’s coup d’etat has 143 crucial points that led to its being banned.

“We won’t go into details on the reasons because the public, especially at the lower levels may react in a way that could open the way for conflicts,” AGO spokesperson Didiek Darmanto told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday when asked for legal justifications for the book banning.

Roosa’s book Dalih Pembunuhan Massal Gerakan 30 September dan Kudeta Soeharto (Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement and Soeharto’s Coup d’Etat) offers an alternative perspective to the mainstream version that places the blame for the September 30th Movement on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The book alleges the abortive movement was actually Soeharto’s way of seizing power from founding president Sukarno.

The documentary film on the Sept. 30th Movement depicting the Soeharto-led Army Strategic Reserve Force’s role in wiping out the alleged abortive coup, had been screened annually by state-run television station TVRI during Soeharto’s 32-year reign, sending the message that the coup was launched by the now-defunct PKI.

Roosa’s is one of five books that have been banned by the government because, despite the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution, “their publication could disrupt public order.”

The four other banned books are Cocratez Sofyan Yoman’s Suara Gereja bagi Umat Tertindas Penderitaan Tetesan Darah dan Cucuran Air Mata Umat Tuhan di Papua Barat Harus Diakhiri, Rhoma Dwi Aria Yuliantri and Muhidin M. Dahlan’s Lekra Tak Membakar Buku: Suara Senyap Lembar Kebudayaan Harian Rakjat 1950-1965, Darmawan’s Enam Jalan Menuju Tuhan and Syahrudin Ahmad’s Mengungkap Misteri Keberagaman Agama.

Asked about violating the Constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression, Didik defended the AGO’s authority to ban the publication and circulation of printed materials that were subjectively determined to threaten public order.

He ironically said the AGO respected freedom of expression but that the ban was based on considerations from institutions including several ministries, the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

Didiek said the ban was not permanent and could be reviewed, given the appropriate situation.

“Several books were banned during the New Order regime but were reprinted once we entered the reform era,” he added.

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