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Like being pursued by the ghost of communism
Nurcholis ART - May 5, 2017
On May 1, an art exhibition with the theme "Seeing More in Wiji Thukul" which was displaying the works of Andreas Iswinarto in the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang became the target of protests by a number of social groups.
The exhibition was accused of being an arena for the spread of communism, an accusation denied by the organising committee who said the it was of course lies.
But as a result of the accusations, the exhibition that was to open on May 1 at the Semarang Islamic Union building had to be postponed because the managers of the building objected to the event.
What occurred at the Wiji Thukul art exhibition is not an isolated case. Many other events such as discussions, film showings and even the publication of journalistic works have been deemed as being "PKI gaya baru" or the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in a new guise.
Yet restrictions on or the banning of such events is a violation against freedom of expression and opinion. SAFEnet Voice <http://id.safenetvoice.org/> has recorded that over the last two years there have been 59 cases where freedom of expression and association have been violated.
Out of the 59 cases, 43 cases or around 73 percent of the violations were committed based on allegations of spreading communist ideas. Other violations included accusations related to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues which accounted for 7 percent or four cases. And the issue of "self-determination" for West Papua accounted for 5 percent or three cases. Meaning that accusations related to spreading communist ideas accounted for the largest number of violations.
The majority of repressive incidents against events accused of spreading communism were film showings accounting for 16 cases. Discussions, workshops and seminars accounted for 14 cases. Exhibitions accounted for three cases and gatherings three cases. Violations against freedom of expression and association based on accusations of spreading communism took the form of forced closures or the disbanding of events and other incidents.
In all these cases the police, as it turns out, were the most frequent agent committing the violations. The police committed violations in as many as 27 cases. This was followed by social organisations such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Islamic Community Forum (FUI) and the Kabah Youth Movement (affiliated with the United Development Party).
Meanwhile the [majority] of organising parties that fell victim to this repression were from tertiary education institutions. What is meant by this are student activity units, student executive councils, events held on campus and the like.
Violations against events held by tertiary educational institutions accounted for 18 cases followed events carried out by non-government organisations which accounted for 9 cases.
The largest number of violations involving accusations of spreading communism occurred in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta with 10 cases or around 23 percent. This was followed by Jakarta with as many as five cases or around 12 percent.
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Seperti Diburu Hantu Komunisme...".]
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