15 Juni 2010

Rights body wants AGO to clarify ban

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 12/30/2009 8:52 AM | Headlines

The National Commission on Human Rights has sent a letter to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) requesting clarification on the latter’s decision to ban five books despite mounting public protests.

The Commission said it would also establish a special team to assess procedures used by the AGO to ban the books.

“If procedures to ban the books violate human rights, we will send letters to the President, House of Representatives and AGO recommending a new mechanism to ban books,” commissioner Yosep Adi Prasetyo told reporters Tuesday.

He argued the banning of books was reminiscent of Soeharto’s New Order administration attempts to restrict intellectual freedoms.

“If banning persists, it means the current regime wants a return to the New Order era,” he said.

The Commission also criticized the AGO’s failure to justify the ban.

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, Enam Jalan Menuju Tuhan (Six Ways to Reach God) by Darmawan M.M, 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) by Rhoma Dwi Aria Yuliantri and Muhidin M. Dahlan.

Constitutional Court judge Maruarar Siahaan also criticized the ban, telling reporters the banning of books was “unconstitutional and that freedom of opinion cannot be curbed.”

He said writing was a basic right guaranteed under the Constitution.

Maruarar called on people dissatisfied with the ban to file a judicial review with the Court on the AGO’s rights to the prohibit publications.

Former Constitutional Court chief Jimly Asshiddique agreed with Muruarar.

“This is not in line with principles of the Constitution,” he said.

The AGO has confiscated dozens of history textbooks, particularly those highlighting the Sept. 30 movement, citing fears they could lead to a resurgence of communism in the country.

The AGO has the authority to monitor the circulation of written materials and has banned books deemed capable of disrupting political stability since the Soeharto era.

After Soeharto’s fall in 1998, information on the alleged communist coup attempt in 1965, previously only discussed in underground movements, started to surface.

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