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Banning of 1965 seminar an 'extraordinary step back for democracy in Indonesia'

Tempo - September 16, 2017

Arkhelaus W., Jakarta – Police have closed down a 1965 history seminar organised by the Forum 65 that was to be held at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices on the afternoon of Saturday September 16.

LBH Jakarta Director Alghifari Aqsa says that the banning of the seminar is a step back for democracy, particularly since the seminar was being held as an academic study.

"This is an extraordinary side back [sic] or step back for democracy in Indonesia", said Alghifari after making a statement at the LBH Jakarta offices late on Saturday. He explained that the Forum 65 had asked the LBH Jakarta to provide a venue and facilitate attorneys for the seminar.

Alghifari explained that the first indication that the event would be closed down was on the day before when police told the LBH that they had to provide a notification for the seminar.

The LBH Jakarta refused, said Alghifari, because there were no legal grounds that obliged a seminar to provide prior notification. "Why should we have to ask for a permit from the police or even [provide] a notification", he said.

Alghifari also heard that the police offered as a solution that the seminar be open. The LBH Jakarta agreed that the police could have representatives from the sectoral and district police present at the seminar.

"But at 6am, the participants were unable to get into the LBH [building]", he said. He accuses the police of breaking their pledge.

The police lies, said Alghifari, continued when both parties agreed to postpone the event until the participants and guests, most of whom were elderly, received permission to enter.

"Again the police failed to keep their promise", he said. In the end some of the guests were permitted to enter but only after a number of organisations arrived threatening to storm the LBH Jakarta offices.

And it didn't stop there. Alghifari said that the police also forced their way in to the building then went up to the fourth floor because they suspected that the discussion was already taking place.

Upon reaching the fourth floor, the police tore down the seminar banner and launched into a debate with several LBH representatives. Yet, said Alghifari, the police had already evaluated all of the administrative issues pertaining to the seminar. "What the police did was very excessive", he said.

Menteng sectoral police chief Deputy Senior Commissioner Ronald Purba clams that the police blockade of the LBH offices and the closure of the seminar was because the LBH failed to provide a notification of the event.

"The solution was no activities are allowed, so they can't go in", said Purba. Not long after the Central Jakarta district police chief Senior Commissioner Suyudi Ario Seto also arrived to inspect the LBH Jakarta offices.

The police's behavior on this day, said Alghifari, was different compared to when the Turn Left Festival failed to go ahead at the Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural centre in Jakarta in February last year.

Then, the police provided security for the LBH offices even though there were protests against the event. "Why didn't they do this today, the police deployed their personnel here", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was Begini Kronologi Pelarangan Seminar Sejarah 1965 di LBH Jakarta.]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/news/2017/09/16/078909754/begini-kronologi-pelarangan-seminar-sejarah-1965-di-lbh-jakarta.

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