The following statement, supported by 20 leading Indonesian
NGOs was not read out at the UN meeting as NGOs were
banned by the organisers from mentioning individual states
in their oral interventions. This technicality is used to prevent
real issues from being addressed at the UN World Conference
Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related
Intolerance, which is to be held in August, 2001 in South
Africa. Therefore, it is vital to read and publicise this
statement as widely as possible in order to prevent these
life-and-death issues from being ignored.
Prepared for oral intervention by the Asian Legal Resource
Asian Preparatory Meeting for the World Conference Against
Discrimination and Related Intolerance
Tehran 19-21 February, 2001
STOP RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, XENOPHOBIA AND IN TOLERANCE IN
Mr. Chairperson and distinguished delegates,
First of all we would like to express our gratitude and deep
appreciation to the United Nations for this commitment to
combating racism. The World Conference Against Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance represents a
sign of hope for a new world vision for the fight against racism
in the new millenium. Over some years we have wrestled with the
racism problem in Indonesia, a multi-cultural country comprised
of thousands of different groups based on gender, race, ethnicity
We have experienced the tragedy of racism through the long
colonial period up to the independence period which began in1945.
This was followed by the "New Order" period, which
continued under Soehartos authoritarian regime until the
current period of transition to a democratic Indonesian society.
Presently, we understand that racism is being practiced as a tool
used by the political groups to maintain power, through both
hegemonic and aggression strategies. It is a political and
ideological system, which directs and controls by the use of
legislation, military, education and media.
A huge number of people have suffered from the ethnic
conflicts, religious conflicts, racial conflicts, gender
discrimination, ethnic cleansing, statelessness, lack of
religious freedom, prejudice, hatred, and many other causes of
pain in all aspects of their lives. The existing racial politics
has victimized many groups of people, including ethnic Chinese,
minority religious groups, indigenous peoples, IDPs,
refugees and workers. And it particularly affects the most
vulnerable groups such as women, youth and children.
In the spirit of the theme "united to combat racism in
achieving equality, dignity and justice", we would like to
propose a national agenda to be put into action.
1. As Indonesia has ratified the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), it
is regretful that there are still 62 discriminative legal
regulations in force. Therefore we urge the Indonesian
- To pass legislation against discrimination based on race,
ethnicity and religion that impose sanction so racial
discrimination and violence cannot be committed with
- To repeal all legislation containing discrimination based
on race, ethnicity, religion, gender and political or
- To fully ratify the ICERD without reservation, and to
ratify other UN treaties related to the anti-racism
agenda, i.e. ICCPR, ICESCR, Optional Protocol to the
ICCPR, Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, MWC,
Convention of ILO no. 169 which deals with proportional
participation in State institutions, and to support the
establishment of the ICC.
- To establish a monitoring mechanism for the
implementation of the above measures, and to create the
space for civil societys involvement in all
2. As it is now the time for the government to show their
commitment to the democratization of the country, we urge the
Indonesian Government to purge all the racist bureaucracy that is
still being practiced as the heritage of the old regimes
political strategy. The racist bureaucracy includes the access to
citizenship and all other aspects of civil, political, economic,
social and cultural rights.
3. Racism is not only structural but also being widely used as
an ideological and psychological tool to generate prejudice,
hatred and racist sentiment among people including youth and
children. Therefore we urge the Indonesian Government:
- To actively promote multiculturalism and pluralism by
including it into the national education curriculum.
- To encourage the mass media to adhere to ethics of peace
journalism and promotion of pluralism.
4. Furthermore, the practice of discrimination and
differentiation is often linked to socio-economic motives.
Therefore we urge the Indonesian Government to reform the
economic system to achieve fair distribution; to combat
corruption, nepotism and collusion. Affirmative action is also
necessary to help the minority and most vulnerable groups.
5. The combination of gender-based discrimination with racism
affects women, who suffer multiple discrimination. Therefore we
urge the Indonesian Government to create a space for political
participation and decision-making power at all levels, and to
seek recognition for the contribution of women to development,
culture and economy.
6. As we are entering the globalization era, we should recall
the history that racism has been used as a weapon of imperialism
and capitalism, which now maintains the neo-liberal system. This
system mostly affects the indigenous people, migrant workers and
other workers. Therefore we urge the Indonesian Government:
- To ensure the implementation of the anti-discrimination
legislation in order to avoid the anticipated escalation
of xenophobia related to the regional autonomy policy
- To protect the most vulnerable groups adversely affected
by economic policies enforced by the IMF.
- To provide adequate protection of basic rights of migrant
workers, especially those who work in Middle East and
- To protect the indigenous peoples right to keep
their identity and reclaim their land and other natural
7. Many conflicts have been engineered through the
exploitation and exaggeration of racial and religious differences
to promote violence and terror, e.g. Tragedy of May1998, Ambon
conflicts, attacks and bombings of churches and mosques and
conflicts between Dayak, Madura and Melayu ethnic groups. These
conflicts have caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives
and homes. But none of the victims have yet found justice.
Therefore we urge the Indonesian Government:
- To conduct a deep investigation into the root causes of
these conflicts and to prosecute all responsible actors
- To provide reparation, rehabilitation and compensation
- To repeal the political, economic and social functions of
We also request the UNHCHR to send to Indonesia the relevant
UN Special Rapporteurs to investigate all conflicts involving
racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia or related intolerance,
and to also re-conduct the investigation of racial riot in May
1998 to include all sectors, especially the victims.
We call on the solidarity of the International Community,
particularly the Asian Region, to support the Indonesian people
by taking all necessary action towards the realization of our
 Summarized from the Joint Statement ofIndonesia NGO Forum,
consisting of 20 NGOs present at the Indonesian NGOConsultation
for the Asian WCAR Preparatory Meeting in Jakarta, 8
Posted on 2001-08-10