News / Asia

Indonesia Assembly Bill Raises Fears of Crackdown on Freedoms

Hundreds of demonstrators block the road outside the parliament building, while parliament members hold a meeting to pass the mass organization bill, in Jakarta, July 2, 2013.
Hundreds of demonstrators block the road outside the parliament building, while parliament members hold a meeting to pass the mass organization bill, in Jakarta, July 2, 2013.
Reuters
— Indonesia's parliament passed a bill on Tuesday curbing freedom to organize and assemble, prompting street protests and raising concerns among religious groups and labor unions that it will allow the government to silence opposition.
 
Fifteen years after the downfall of dictator Suharto, Indonesia has embraced sweeping democratic reforms that have helped fuel average annual economic growth of five percent.
 
These reforms are illustrated by daily demonstrations in the capital, Jakarta, protesting against everything from low wages and poor healthcare to corruption and lack of education.
 
Under the bill, non-profit groups must abide by a long list of rules, including getting a government permit to operate and publicizing who their donors are.
 
“We need this [bill] because in Indonesia there are so many mass organizations, one might say too many. And they need to be regulated,” lawmaker Abdul Malik Haramain told Reuters.
 
“This [bill] also applies to foreign NGOs [non-governmental organizations]. Our principle is not to ban them of course, or even to restrict them, but only to make sure they are making a contribution,” he added.
 
Critics say the bill, which must be approved by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is too broad and will allow the government to restrict opposition.
 
Hundreds of demonstrators, mainly from labor unions, briefly blocked roads outside parliament in downtown Jakarta to protest against the bill.
 
“The government wants to restrict our freedom to unionize and assemble when these things are guaranteed by the constitution,” said union leader Mudhofir, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
 
A group of U.N. experts wrote to Indonesian lawmakers in February, warning that the bill threatened to restrict freedom of speech and religion in the world's most populous Muslim country.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid