09 Januari 2010

Banning books `violates human rights'

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

Hans David Tampubolon , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 01/09/2010 11:15 AM | Headlines

Scholars and free speech activists have signed a statement saying the government has violated basic human rights following the decision of the Attorney General's Office to ban five "disruptive" books.

"Book bans violate basic human rights, which are guaranteed by the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Human Rights Law," Jaleswari Pramodhawardani, a scholar from the Indonesian Insttute of Sciences, told Antara in Jakarta on Friday.

Jaleswari added the government's decision to once again ban books would only ignite fears among intellectuals regarding the trade of ideas.

She added such bans could hinder Indonesia from achieving the goal mandated by the Constitution, which says one of the nation's main aims is to empower its people through the free spread of knowledge.

"Banning books will tarnish Indonesia's reputation as a democratic country.

"In a democracy, bans can only be justified towards books that blatantly promote hatred based on racism, religions and ethic groups, and those that promote violence and war propaganda."

Other scholars signing the petition included Adnan Buyung Nasution, Asvi Warman Adam, Goenawan Mohamad, Mas Achmad Santosa and Nursyahbani Katjasungkana.

Also signing the petition were Patra M. Zen, Todung Mulya Lubis, Usman Hamid, and Yosep Adi Prasetyo.

Goenawan said book bans would only bring the country back not only to the painful memories of the New Order regime, but also further back to the pre-1960s era.

"Indonesia has a long history of banning books. Until the 1960s, there were no banned books, but everything changed under Sukarno's guided democracy era.

"Unfortunately, the policy continued in the New Order regime."

Goenawan said that he truly regretted that such a policy was maintained in the reform era, because it would only halt the flow of information.

Nursyahbani said book bans hindered freedom of expression, while Adnan said he felt really disgruntled.

"The bannings are setbacks for our growing democracy."

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