The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal


TITLE:  INDONESIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                           
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Despite a surface adherence to democratic forms, the Indonesian 
political system remains strongly authoritarian.  President 
Soeharto, now in his sixth 5-year term, dominates the 
Government.  The President, a small group of advisors, and the 
military dominate the political, economic, and social life of 
this heavily populated and disparate nation.  The Government 
requires allegiance to a state ideology, known as "Pancasila", 
which includes belief in a supreme God, a just and civilized 
humanity, national unity, democracy, and social justice.  

The military justifies its role in political and social issues, 
including an automatic unelected presence in national and local 
parliaments, through a "dual function" concept giving it 
special civic rights and responsibilities in addition to its 
defense and security roles.  The armed forces, including 
165,000 police, total about 445,000 and regard their primary 
role as maintaining internal security.  They act quickly to 
suppress what they regard as threats to security, whether 
separatist movements, criminal acts, or alleged subversive 
activity.  The validity of this "security approach," which 
often leads to human rights abuses, was again the subject of 
open debate in 1993.  Security forces continued operations 
against separatist groups in Aceh, Irian Jaya, and East Timor.  
The police also continued to use excessive force in 
apprehending suspected criminals.

In contrast to its restrictive political system, Indonesia has 
an increasingly deregulated and dynamic economy which has 
produced significant material gains for a wide segment of 
Indonesian society.  Indonesia nevertheless remains a poor 
country.  Agriculture and extractive industries, especially oil 
and gas, remained important sectors of the economy.  But a 
broad and expanding manufacturing sector accounted for a 
growing percentage of exports.  Gross domestic product growth 
for 1993 was expected to be 6.5 percent, and inflation appeared 
under control.  Corruption and influence peddling are endemic 
and continued to distort the economy.

Although progress was made in a number of human rights areas, 
serious abuses continued.  In East Timor, where largely 
cosmetic changes in the force structure resulted in minimal 
reductions in troop presence, no significant progress was noted 
in the search for the about 60 persons still missing from the 
November 12, 1991, shooting incident in Dili.  Extrajudicial 
arrests and detention, torture of those in custody, and 
excessively violent techniques for dealing with suspected 
criminals or perceived troublemakers continued in many areasof 
Indonesia.  Legal safeguards against arbitrary arrest and 
detention are frequently ignored.  The armed forces continued 
to be responsible for the most serious human rights abuses.  
The current military leadership in several specific instances 
showed a greater willingness to admit misconduct publicly and 
take action against offenders, although such steps continued to 
be relatively rare.  The judiciary remained largely shackled by 
the executive branch and military, although progress was made 
in the area of judicial review.  Widespread corruption in the 
legal system continued to be a serious problem.

The year 1993 saw a bolder and more assertive press, which 
suffered less official censorship and which was less willing to 
submit itself to self-censorship; a liberalized public dialog 
on human rights; the selection late in the year of members for 
a National Human Rights Commission, although its autonomy 
remains in question; and a sharp reduction in the number of 
Indonesians forbidden from traveling abroad.  Fewer Indonesians 
were tried under the harsh and arbitrary antisubversion law, 
and several long-term convicted subversives were released.  The 
Government maintained its open and humane policies toward 
Indochinese refugees.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Political or extrajudicial killings occur most often in areas 
where separatist movements are active and when law enforcement 
is involved.  Punishments for security force members who commit 
extrajudicial killings seldom correspond to the crimes 
committed.  All police and military personnel tried for killing 
or mistreating prisoners, or for any other criminal activity, 
are tried by military courts; the sentences, when imposed, are 
rarely heavy.

Security forces often employ harsh measures against separatist 
movements (especially in East Timor, Irian Jaya and Aceh), 
including extrajudicial killings of civilians.  In 1993, 
however, while occasional clashes were reported between 
separatist groups and security forces in these areas, confirmed 
killings of civilians by government or vigilante forces 
continued to be far lower than in the recent past.  The 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) judged the 
situation in Irian Jaya improved to the point where it no 
longer needed an office in Jayapura and could cover that 
province adequately from Jakarta.  The ICRC is, however, 
seeking to open an office in Aceh because it judges the 
situation there serious enough to warrant a constant presence 
in the province.  While accepting responsibility for the 
military shooting of civilians in Dili, East Timor, on November 
12, 1991, the Government made little progress in accounting for 
those missing in the incident (see Section 1.b.).  The 
Government has not officially acknowledged or accounted for 
thousands of civilians killed during military operations 
against separatist guerrillas in Aceh during 1989-91.

The armed forces made several public pledges in 1993 to reduce 
by stages the number of troops in East Timor, a move expected 
to reduce tensions and the incidence of human rights abuses.  
The first pullout of two battalions was to take place in 
October, although by early December the status of this pullout 
was not clear.  In April the Special Operational Military 
Command for East Timor was disbanded and replaced with a 
command structure similar to that in the other 26 provinces.  
The composition of troops was reportedly changed to emphasize 
civic action over combat missions, although civic action troops 
also carry weapons and conduct patrols.  Despite these changes, 
most sources in East Timor continued to report an oppressive 
military presence throughout the province.  

In law enforcement, excessive force is sometimes employed in 
apprehending suspects or coping with alleged criminals.  In 
Jakarta, for example, police continued to employ deadly force 
against suspects who reportedly were fleeing or resisting 
arrest, killing 13 in January 1993 alone.  Human rights 
monitors estimated between 60 and 70 people had been shot by 
police in the capital by the end of the year, although exact 
statistics were not available.  In the province of North 
Sumatra, a policy of shooting criminal subjects in the legs, 
sometimes repeatedly, continued.  Press accounts indicate that 
through early December police in North Sumatra had shot 74 
suspects, 8 fatally, who were allegedly resisting arrest.  
Human rights groups protested that the methods used are 
unjustifiably harsh and violate due process.  Police have 
generally asserted that those killed were dangerous criminals, 
and have denied a repetition of the officially sponsored 
"mysterious killings" of the mid-1980's directed against 
criminal elements.  In a few instances, official action was 
initiated against police for using excessive force.  Press 
accounts indicate that five policemen were detained in June in 
North Sumatra in connection with the death of Syamsul Bahri, 
who was shot earlier that month while allegedly resisting 

A military court in Medan began hearing testimony in August 
against a policeman who went to a house where a dispute was 
under way and shot a suspect in the head when he tried to 
surrender.  The policeman was charged with murder.  Authorities 
declined to reveal the disposition of this case.

Four members of a religious sect were shot dead and a dozen 
others wounded by police in late July in West Java.  The police 
began shooting after members of the sect attacked two policemen 
with farm implements, killing one and wounding the other.  The 
policemen were attacked after they approached the sect's 
compound seeking to arrest two members for a previous assault.  
The sect and its leader, who was killed in the attack, had 
rejected contacts with the outside world.  Various religious 
leaders condemned the attack as excessively violent and urged 
security forces to exercise greater restraint.  Several of the 
sect's survivors were tried and convicted on assault charges 
and received sentences of between 3 and 12 months.

Four persons, including a 55-year-old woman and a teenage boy, 
died in September when security forces opened fire on a 
demonstration in Madura, East Java.  The demonstrators were 
villagers protesting the construction of a dam, who had raised 
their concerns over the project without success at several 
meetings with local officials a few days before.  Security 
forces initially reported the crowd, which numbered some 500, 
had acted in a threatening manner and continued to advance on 
them, despite several warning shots fired by the troops.  Human 
rights groups decried the use of what they called excessive 
force and conducted their own investigation, which found no 
evidence of warning shots and placed the demonstrators at a 
considerably greater distance from security forces.  Armed 
Forces Commander Feisal Tanjung in mid-October publicly 
acknowledged a breakdown in military discipline had occurred.  
He relieved the commanders of the police and army units 
involved, and remanded the two dozen military and police 
personnel involved to Armed Forces headquarters for possible 
further disciplinary action.  No criminal proceedings had been 
initiated against them by year's end.

A 24-year-old labor activist, Marsinah, was murdered in May in 
East Java shortly after leading a labor action at the factory 
where she worked.  Nine civilian employees of the company were 
arrested in October in connection with her murder, and trials 
were begun in November.  At least one Army officer was also 
arrested and a second relieved of his post, although the status 
of their cases was unclear in early December.  Testimony and 
press stories alleged collusion existed between company 
officials and security forces in Marsinah's abduction and 
murder.  Security forces often intrude in labor matters and 
intimidate labor activists (see Section 6).

     b.  Disappearance

In general, politically motivated abductions are not common in 
Indonesia.  Security forces in areas with active guerrilla 
insurgencies often hold suspects for long periods without 
formal charges, but these cases usually end with official 
acknowledgement of detention (see Section 1.d.).  The 
Government vigorously prosecuted a case against an official of 
the Democratic Party of Indonesia, (PDI), the smallest of the 
three allowed political groupings, who was accused of kidnaping 
members of a rival party faction in 1991.  The trial, however, 
was widely regarded as an effort to undermine the PDI 
leadership, and the accused party official was subsequently 
acquitted.  A labor activist was abducted and killed in East 
Java after leading a strike at the watch factory where she 
worked (see Section 1.a.).

Government efforts to account for the missing and dead from the 
November 12, 1991, military shooting of civilians in Dili, East 
Timor, remained inadequate.  In April military officials in 
East Timor turned over to a representative of Asia Watch a list 
of 66 names of people they believed were still missing from the 
incident.  Since then, various officials have claimed that a 
handful of these people have been located alive, having hidden 
from authorities since the incident.  In a related case, 
authorities claimed that two of four Timorese who sought asylum 
in the Swedish Embassy in Jakarta in June were among the 
missing from the Dili incident, although the names of the two 
Timorese were not on the military's list.  Government spokesmen 
broadly implied that their failure to locate those missing was 
primarily due to the success of those persons in evading 
detection.  Many knowledgeable observers, however, continued to 
believe that most of the missing are dead and that the military 
knows where their bodies are.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Torture is against the law in Indonesia.  In practice, while 
the situation has improved in recent years, torture and other 
forms of mistreatment remain widespread, and legal protections 
are both inadequate and widely ignored.  The Criminal 
Procedures Code (KUHAP) provides that statements from witnesses 
or suspects must be elicited without pressure of any kind, and 
establishes pretrial procedures to give suspects or their 
families the right to challenge the legality of an arrest or 
detention.  The Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) makes it a 
crime punishable by up to 4 years in prison for any official to 
use violence or force to elicit a confession.

Nonetheless, torture continues, with the highest incidence 
occurring in cases which are judged to affect national security 
such as those involving areas of separatist activity.  
According to the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, methods of 
torture include electrocution; slashing with razor blades and 
knives (including inside of the mouth); beating on the head, 
shins, and torso with fists, batons, iron bars, bottles, rocks, 
and lengths of electric cable; sexual molestation and rape;  
kicking with heavy military boots; burning with lighted 
cigarettes; threats and deliberate wounding with firearms;  
immersion for long periods in fetid water; isolation and sleep 
deprivation.  Use of torture is particularly frequent in Aceh.  
Reliable reports suggest that a majority of Acehnese still held 
in 1993 in connection with the Aceh Merdeka (Free Aceh) 
movement had undergone some form of torture at some time during 
their incarceration.  An Acehnese parliamentarian convicted of 
subversion in July, Haji Usman Mohammed Ali, claimed during his 
trial he was beaten during his interrogation and forced to sign 
statements incriminating himself.  Several of the witnesses 
called to testify in the trial of East Timor separatist leader 
Jose "Xanana" Gusmao were also reliably reported to have been 
mistreated while in custody.

Police often resort to physical abuses even in minor incidents, 
and prison conditions are harsh, with violence among prisoners 
and mistreatment of inmates by guards reportedly common.  
However, the incidence of mistreatment by prison officials 
drops sharply once a prisoner has been transferred from police 
or military custody into the civilian prison system, and prison 
conditions generally have improved in recent years.  Officials 
have publicly condemned police brutality and harsh prison 
conditions and occasionally instigate disciplinary action, 
including transfer, dismissal, and trials leading to prison, 
but such actions are an exception to the rule of general 

Political prisoners are usually mixed with the general prison 
population, although in the Cipinang prison in Jakarta high- 
profile political prisoners are held together in a segregated 
area.  In 1993 the ICRC and several foreign parliamentary 
delegations were allowed to visit prisoners in Cipinang in 
Jakarta and described the facility as Spartan but adequate.  
The ICRC was also granted access to other prisons in Java, 
Sumatra, East Timor, Aceh, and other provinces, although it 
suspended prison visits in Aceh and East Timor at various times 
when it felt authorities were violating agreed-upon terms for 
the visits.  These disagreements were all eventually settled, 
and the visits resumed.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Criminal Procedures Code contains protections against 
arbitrary arrest and detention which are routinely violated in 
practice.  The code specifies the right of prisoners to notify 
their families.  Warrants must be produced during an arrest 
except under specified conditions, such as when a suspect is 
caught in the act of committing a crime.  Warrants are issued 
by police investigators to assist in their investigations or if 
sufficient evidence exists that a crime has been committed.  
Despite these requirements, arrests are often made without 
warrants, such as in the Marsinah murder case in which several 
suspects were held for 18 days without warrants or notification 
of their families.

Defendants are presumed innocent and may be granted bail.  They 
or their families may also challenge the legality of their 
arrest and detention in a pretrial hearing and are entitled to 
sue for compensation if wrongfully detained.  The code also 
contains specific limits on periods of pretrial detention and 
specifies when the courts must get involved to approve 
extensions, usually after 60 days.

In areas where there are active guerrilla movements such as 
East Timor and Aceh, people are routinely detained without 
warrants, charges, or court proceedings.  Bail is rarely 
granted, especially in political cases.  The authorities 
frequently interfere with access to defense counsel.  
Extensions of periods of detention are routinely approved.  
Pretrial proceedings are rarely initiated.  In addition, 
suspects charged under the 1963 Antisubversion Law are subject 
to special procedures outside the Criminal Procedures Code 
which allow, for example, the Attorney General on his own 
authority to hold a suspect up to a year before trial.  This 
1-year period is renewable without limit.  Special laws on 
corruption, economic crimes, and narcotics are similarly exempt 
from the code's protections.  The Agency for Coordination of 
Assistance for the Consolidation of National Security 
(BAKORSTANAS) operates outside the code and has wide discretion 
to detain and interrogate persons thought to threaten national 

National estimates on the number of arbitrary arrests or 
detentions without trial are not available.  In Aceh 73 people 
accused of being members of Aceh Merdeka were released without 
charges or trials in 1993 after periods of detention that 
sometimes exceeded 2 years.  Added to those released in 1991 
and 1992, some 906 persons had been held, often incommunicado 
and without knowing the charges against them, in connection 
with the 1989-91 Aceh insurgency.  Many of those released were 
required to report back to the authorities at regular 
intervals.  Some 100 Acehnese were believed to be awaiting 
trial at year's end.

In East Timor military authorities continued the practice of 
detaining people without charges for short periods and then 
requiring them to report daily or weekly to police after their 
release.  There were credible reports of scores of people being 
detained without charges at various times during the year for 
enforced "civics training" in areas outside the capital of 
Dili.  This particularly occurred during the visits of high 
profile guests, such as the April visit to East Timor of the 
U.N. Secretary General's Special Envoy, Amos Wako, and the 
August-September visits of two U.S. Congressional staff 
delegations.  Two former leaders of the armed East Timor 
resistance, Jose "Mauhudu" da Costa and Antonio Gomes "Mauhunu" 
da Costa, remained under tight military control in 1993 
although charges had not been formally filed against either 
man.  Mauhudu was arrested in January 1992 and Mauhunu in April 
1993.  They were in East Timor in August-September 1993 making 
speeches on the merits of integration with Indonesia.  Despite 
public announcements that they had been granted an "amnesty" 
and were therefore "free," they were required to spend each 
night at the home of military officers.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is subordinate to the executive and the military, 
and procedural protections, including those against coerced 
confessions, are inadequate to ensure a fair trial in many 
cases.  A quadripartite judiciary of general, religious, 
military, and administrative courts exists below the Supreme 
Court.  The right of appeal from district court to high court 
to Supreme Court exists in all four systems of justice.  The 
Supreme Court, with a current backlog variously estimated at 
13,000 to 17,000 cases, does not consider factual aspects of a 
case, only the lower courts' application of law.  Initial 
judgments are rarely reversed in the appeals process, although 
sentences are sometimes increased or reduced.  A three-judge 
panel conducts trials at the district court level, poses 
questions, hears evidence, decides guilt or innocence, and 
assesses punishment.

Defendants have the right to confront witnesses.  An exception 
is allowed in cases where distance or expense is deemed 
excessive for transporting witnesses to court, in which case 
sworn affidavits may be introduced.  In cases tried under the 
1963 Antisubversion Law, trials in absentia are permitted, and 
an Acehnese accused of separatist activities, Dharma Bakti, was 
condemned to death in absentia April 6.

The use in trials of forced confessions and limitations on the 
presentation of defense evidence is common.  The defense in the 
subversion trial of Haji Usman Mohammed Ali, for example, 
claimed that witnesses it tried to call were too afraid of 
retribution by the authorities to testify on his behalf.  The 
defense attorneys in the case of two students tried in 
Semarang, Central Java, noted that while the prosecution called 
15 witnesses, a defense motion to call 8 was rejected by the 
judges, who said they had the right to be selective in who 
could testify.  One defense witness was eventually allowed.  
Defendants do not have the right to remain silent and in 
several cases in 1993 were compelled to testify in their own 

The Criminal Procedures Code gives defendants the right to an 
attorney from the moment of their arrest through the 
investigation and trial.  In capital cases and those involving 
a prison sentence of 15 years or more, a lawyer must be 
appointed.  In cases involving potential sentences of 5 years 
or more, a lawyer must be appointed if the accused desires an 
attorney but is indigent.  Destitute defendants can obtain 
private legal help, such as that provided by the Legal Aid 
Institute (LBH).  In practice, however, defendants are often 
persuaded not to hire an attorney, or access to an attorney of 
their choice is impeded.  East Timor separatist leader Jose 
"Xanana" Gusmao, for example, stated in his final defense 
statement that his efforts to engage an attorney from LBH were 
thwarted by authorities, who "forced" him to hire an attorney 
known to the police.  In the trial of Haji Usman Mohammed Ali, 
the defendant did not meet his Legal Aid Institute attorney 
until the day his trial began.

The judiciary is not independent.  The Supreme Court does not 
have the right of judicial review over laws passed by 
Parliament.  Although the Supreme Court has since 1985 had the 
power to review ministerial decrees and regulations, the court 
has not yet used this power.  Chief Justice Purwoto 
Gandasubrata in early 1993 laid out procedures under which 
limited judicial review cases could be brought to the court, a 
move that was hailed as a significant step toward greater 
judicial independence.  While judges receive guidance from the 
Supreme Court on legal matters, they are civil servants 
employed by the executive branch which controls their 
assignments, pay, and promotion.  They are subject to 
considerable pressure from military and other governmental 
authorities.  Such control often determines the outcome of a 
case.  The Chief Judge of the State Administrative Court in 
Medan, for example, issued a restraining order in January 1993 
against the military commander in Medan after the commander 
intervened in the leadership struggle of the Batak Protestant 
Church (HKBP) (see Section 2.c.).  The commander publicly 
criticized the judge, whose home was vandalized shortly after 
he handed down his decision.  A few days later the judge was 
suddenly told he had been assigned to attend a 2-week legal 
workshop far from Medan.  While he was gone, his deputy took 
over the case and vacated the restraining order.

Corruption permeates the Indonesian legal system.  In civil and 
criminal cases, the payment of bribes can influence 
prosecution, conviction, and sentencing.  Public unrest 
concerning the implementation of a new traffic law with stiffer 
fines was partly driven by fears that police, many of whom are 
poorly paid, would be even more aggressive in demanding bribes 
from motorists.  Various public officials have campaigned 
against corruption by police and judicial officials, but public 
respect for the legal system remained low.

The 1963 Antisubversion Law, which carries a maximum penalty of 
death, remained a focus of legal concerns in 1993, although the 
number of cases prosecuted under the law dropped sharply.  The 
law makes it a crime to engage in acts that could distort, 
undermine, or deviate from the state ideology or broad outlines 
of state policy, or which could disseminate feelings of 
hostility or arouse hostility, disturbances, or anxiety among 
the population.  It has been attacked as excessively vague and 
harsh, and inappropriate to Indonesia's current level of 
stability and development.  While the law continued to be 
defended by public officials such as the Attorney General, the 
Government showed greater discretion in its application.  For 
example, Fretilin leader Jose "Xanana" Gusmao was charged under 
felony statutes of the criminal code rather than under the 
Antisubversion Law.  Sentences in several of at least eight 
subversion trials held in 1993--six of them in connection with 
Aceh Merdeka--were far lighter than in the past.

The most prominent political trial of 1993 was that of East 
Timor resistance leader Jose "Xanana" Gusmao, who was charged 
under felony statutes with attacking the Indonesian State, 
leading a rebellion, and illegal possession of firearms for his 
role in leading the armed East Timorese resistance.  
Authorities allowed access to his trial in Dili by a wide range 
of observers, including diplomatic missions, foreign and 
Indonesian journalists, and foreign human rights organizations 
such as the International Commission of Jurists and Asia 
Watch.  Although Gusmao may not have freely chosen his defense 
attorney (see above), he was represented by an able group of 
lawyers who conducted a vigorous defense and had frequent 
access to their client.  Nonetheless, the trial's conduct 
appeared to violate several provisions of the Criminal 
Procedures Code and to many observers did not meet 
international standards for a fair trial.  For example, many of 
the witnesses who testified against him were themselves in 
custody, and their testimony was either hearsay or possibly 
coerced.  Gusmao was prevented from reading aloud his own 
defense statement on the grounds it was irrelevant to the 
charges against him, even though the Criminal Procedures Code 
places no such limits on the contents of a defendant's final 
statement.  Access to the trial by outside observers was 
briefly restricted toward its end when Gusmao became less 
cooperative.  Gusmao was found guilty and sentenced to life in 
prison.  He subsequently asked for and was granted Presidential 
clemency, which reduced his sentence to 20 years.  On 
August 12, he was transferred at his request from Dili, East 
Timor.  At year's end he was in Cipinang prison in Jakarta.

The Government does not make available statistics on the number 
of people currently serving subversion sentences or sentences 
under the felony hate-sowing or sedition laws.  Informed 
estimates of the number of people serving sentences for 
subversion in 1993, including members of the banned Communist 
Party of Indonesia (PKI), Muslim extremists, and those 
convicted of subversion in Irian Jaya, Aceh, and East Timor 
were about 300.  Scores, and possibly hundreds, more were 
believed to be serving sentences under felony hate-sowing or 
sedition laws.  At least some of these persons advocated or 
employed violence, but many are political prisoners who were 
convicted for attempting to exercise such universally 
recognized human rights as freedom of speech or association or 
who were convicted in manifestly unfair trials.  Several 
persons convicted of subversion were granted early releases in 
August and September, including Islamic preacher A.M. Fatwa, 
who was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in 1985 for 
allegedly instigating the 1984 riot in Tanjung Priok.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

Judicial warrants for searches are required except for cases 
involving suspected subversion, economic crimes, and 
corruption.  However, forced or surreptitious entry by security 
agencies occurs regularly.  Security age1cies intimidate by 
conducting surveillance of persons and residences and 
selectively monitoring local and international telephone calls 
without legal restraint.  Government security officials monitor 
the movements and activities of former members of the PKI and 
its front organizations, especially persons the Government 
believes were involved in the abortive 1965 Communist-backed 
coup.  The Government stated in late 1990 that this latter 
group then totaled 1,410,333 people.  These persons and their 
relatives sometimes are subject to surveillance, required 
check-ins, periodic indoctrination, and restrictions on travel 
outside their city of residence.  Their legally required 
identification cards carry the initials "e.t." which stand for 
"ex-tapol," or former political prisoner, which readily 
identifies them to prospective employers or government 
officials.  For the first time, various groups in 1993 made 
public pleas to end these official and unofficial restrictions 
on former political prisoners.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

A significant increase in the amount and quality of public 
debate on sensitive issues occurred in 1993.  Think tanks, 
newspapers, and academic institutions mounted seminars on a 
wide range of previously taboo topics such as human rights and 
democracy.  The printed media in particular published factual 
stories and editorials reflecting a wide range of opinions, 
many of them critical of the Government.  These improvements in 
the print media, including the nation's 273 daily newspapers 
which are largely privately owned, came despite continued 
government controls over publishing permits, the amount of 
advertising permitted, and the number of pages allowed in 
newspapers.  While the practice of telephoning editors to 
caution against publishing certain stories continued--the 
so-called telephone culture--its incidence was sharply lower.  
Self-censorship, however, continued to be a publicly 
acknowledged brake on free expression.  Military authorities 
continued in some cases to issue orders to local journalists on 
what they could print.  Journalists in East Timor, for example, 
were instructed in March not to report details of an outburst 
in favor of East Timorese independence by a witness in the 
trial of resistance leader Jose "Xanana" Gusmao.  Also in 
March, Medan newspapers were told they needed prior military 
approval to report on developments in the Batak Protestant 
Church leadership struggle (see Section 2.c.).

While public dialog was generally more open, the Government 
still imposed excessive restrictions on free speech.  For 
example, in contrast to a generally more permissive attitude 
toward public demonstrations, police reacted harshly in 
breaking up a peaceful demonstration on December 14 at the 
Parliament, arresting 21 people and injuring more than a dozen 
in the process.  The 21 were charged with hate sowing and 
insulting the President and were still in custody at year's 
end.  Two students arrested prior to the June 1992 
parliamentary elections for criticizing the election process 
and advocating the casting of blank ballots or staying away 
from the polls were brought to trial in Semarang on charges of 
insulting and sowing hatred against the Government (see Section 
1.e.).  The distribution of a September edition of the Far 
Eastern Economic Review that carried a story about the trial 
was delayed nearly 2 weeks.  The students were found guilty in 
November and sentenced to 4 months in prison.

Human rights monitor Adnan Buyung Nasution was blocked by 
university authorities from addressing a seminar in early 
December at the University of Indonesia, as was the outspoken 
poet W.S. Rendra.  A prominent Muslim intellectual, Arief 
Budiman, was barred from appearing in June at a conference on 
the disabled in Surakarta, Central Java, and a well-known poet, 
Emha Ainun Najib, was banned by authorities from performing in 
the same city in May, ostensibly because they posed threats to 

The electronic media remained far more cautious than the 
printed media.  The Government operates the nationwide 
television network, which in Jakarta and Surabaya includes a 
second channel.  Private and educational television companies 
broadcasting in Jakarta and Surabaya continued to expand to 
other areas.  Some 586 private radio broadcasting companies 
exist in Indonesia in addition to the Government's national 
radio network.  New regulations were promulgated in 1993 that 
will allow private radio stations greater latitude in producing 
their own news programs.

Foreign television and radio broadcasts are readily accessible 
to those who can afford the technology, and satellite dishes 
have sprouted all over the archipelago.  No efforts are made to 
restrict access to this programming.

The Government closely regulates access to Indonesia, 
particularly to certain areas of the country, by visiting and 
resident foreign correspondents, and occasionally reminds the 
latter of its prerogative to deny requests for visa extensions. 
Foreign journalists, for example, were unable to get permission 
to visit East Timor prior to the February start of the trial of 
resistance leader Jose "Xanana" Gusmao, and several requests 
were denied after the trial ended in May.  The importation of 
foreign publications and video tapes, which must be reviewed by 
government censors, requires a permit.  Importers sometimes 
avoid foreign materials critical of the Government or dealing 
with topics considered sensitive, such as human rights.  
Foreign publications are normally available, although several 
issues were delayed or embargoed in 1993 when they carried 
sensitive stories, especially those dealing with the business 
activities of the President's family.

While academic freedom is provided for in law, constraints 
exist on the activities of scholars.  They sometimes refrain 
from producing materials that they believe might provoke 
government displeasure.  Publishers are sometimes unwilling to 
accept manuscripts dealing with controversial issues, although 
a number of books on controversial topics were published in 
1993, such as human rights activist Adnan Buyung Nasution's 
revisionist look at Indonesia's early experiment with 
representative democracy.  The Attorney General banned at least 
seven books in 1993, most dealing with religious topics.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Freedom of assembly and association are recognized by the 
Constitution.  Nonetheless, significant controls are placed on 
citizens who attempt to exercise this freedom.  All 
organizations must have government permission to hold regional 
and national meetings.  Local jurisdictions often require prior 
approval for smaller gatherings as well.  While obtaining such 
approval is fairly automatic, the authorities occasionally 
withhold permission.  The Government did not permit the 
Indonesian Workers Welfare Union (SBSI) to hold its July 29 
annual congress (see Section 6.a.).  On August 12, Surabaya 
police refused a permit for the Surabaya Arts Council to open 
an art exhibit and poetry reading celebrating the life and 
memory of a murdered labor activist (see Section 1.a.).  
Student gatherings have often been the target of disapprovals, 
and political activity at universities, while no longer 
formally banned, remained tightly controlled.

The 1985 Social Organizations Law (ORMAS) requires all 
organizations, including recognized religions and associations, 
to adhere to the Government's official ideology of Pancasila.  
This provision, which limits political activity, is widely 
understood as being designed to inhibit activities of groups 
which seek to make Indonesia an Islamic state.  The law 
empowers the Government to disband any organization it believes 
to be acting against Pancasila and requires prior government 
approval for any organization's acceptance of funds from 
foreign donors, hindering the work of many local humanitarian 

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for religious freedom and belief in 
one supreme God.  The Government recognizes Islam, 
Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism, and permits practice of 
the mystical, traditional beliefs of "Aliran Kepercayaan."  
Although the population is overwhelmingly Muslim, the practice 
and teachings of the other recognized faiths are generally 
respected.  Various restrictions on certain types of religious 
activity exist.

According to official statistics, nearly 400 "misleading 
religious cults" are banned, including Jehovah's Witnesses and 
Baha'i.  West Java authorities banned an Islamic sect in late 
July after a violent confrontation with police that left five 
dead (see Section 1.a.).  Because the first tenet of Pancasila 
is belief in a supreme being, atheism is forbidden.  The legal 
requirement to adhere to Pancasila extends to all religious and 
secular organizations.  The Government strongly opposes Muslim 
groups which advocate establishing an Islamic state or 
acknowledging only Islamic law.

In December 1992, the Northern Sumatra regional military 
commander intervened in an internal leadership dispute within 
the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP), Indonesia's largest 
Protestant church.  Citing the failure of church members to 
agree on a new bishop at a church conference the month before 
and the possibility that the church dispute could affect public 
order, the military commander named an interim bishop to 
replace the incumbent, whose 5-year term was due to end in 
February 1993.  Although the Government stated the military 
became involved only after a request from the church's Central 
Leadership Council, past criticism of the Government by the 
former bishop may have been a factor.  The military 
intervention sparked demonstrations in several cities, and some 
150 church members were detained in January.  On several 
occasions security forces assisted supporters of the new 
leadership to take control of church buildings by force.  
Tensions reached a peak in May when some 70 people were 
detained in Tebing Tinggi, North Sumatra, following outbreaks 
of violence between church members.  Most were released, but 
trials were expected for the dozen or so still in custody.

There is no legal bar to conversion between faiths, and 
conversions occur.  However, proselytizing by the recognized 
religions or in areas heavily dominated by one recognized 
religion or another is considered potentially disruptive and is 
discouraged.  Foreign missionary activities are relatively 
unimpeded, although in East Timor and occasionally elsewhere 
missionaries have experienced difficulties in renewing 
residence permits on unspecified "security grounds."  Laws and 
decrees from the 1970's limit the number of years foreign 
missionaries can spend in Indonesia, with some extensions 
granted in remote areas like Irian Jaya.  Foreign missionary 
work is subject to the funding stipulations of the ORMAS Law 
(see Section 2.b.).

Indonesians practicing the recognized religions maintain active 
links with coreligionists inside and outside Indonesia and 
travel abroad for religious gatherings.  The Government 
organizes the annual hajj pilgrimage, and more than 100,000 
Indonesians made it in 1993.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Through the early part of 1993 the Government drastically 
reduced the number of people barred either from entering or 
departing Indonesia.  From a publicly announced figure of 8,897 
"blacklisted" people in January, the total fell to a few 
hundred by August.  Several prominent human rights figures, 
including Haji J.C. Princen, Adnan Buyung Nasution, and General 
Abdul Haris Nasution were permitted to travel abroad, and 
military spokesmen said no one was banned any longer from 
foreign travel for political reasons.  Seven East Timorese who 
had unsuccessfully sought asylum at two Western embassies in 
June were allowed to leave the country under ICRC auspices in 
late December.  At the same time the authorities banned foreign 
travel by some 300 Indonesians who had defaulted on loans to 
state banks.  A 1992 law designed to regularize travel 
restrictions appeared responsible for the overall reduction in 
the number of blacklisted persons, although not all its 
provisions were implemented, especially the requirement to 
notify banned travelers in writing and review existing cases 
every 6 months.

Restrictions exist on movement by Indonesian and foreign 
citizens to and within parts of Indonesia.  Permits to seek 
work in a new location are required in certain areas, primarily 
to control further population movement to crowded cities.  
Special permits are required to visit certain parts of Irian 
Jaya.  Security checks affecting transportation and travel to 
and within East Timor occurred sporadically in 1993, and 
curfews in connection with military operations were 
occasionally imposed.  Former political detainees, including 
those associated with the abortive 1965 coup, must notify 
authorities of their movements and may not change their place 
of residence without official permission (see Section 1.f.).

Indonesia continued its generous attitude toward Indochinese 
asylum seekers in 1993 and continued to carry out its 
responsibilities under the Comprehensive Plan of Action.  It 
has granted first asylum to over 145,000 Indochinese asylum 
seekers since 1975 and continued to operate a refugee facility 
on Galang Island.  Screening of all asylum seekers was 
completed in September, and plans were being made to repatriate 
some 8,000 asylum seekers and resettle some 2,000 refugees.  
The Government stressed that these movements must be handled 
humanely and in cooperation with international organizations 
such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  
Indonesia also continued its cooperation with the UNHCR and the 
ICRC regarding the return of residents of Irian Jaya who had 
fled to Papua New Guinea during separatist violence in the 
eastern portion of the province.  Acehnese who fled to Malaysia 
during the height of separatist violence in 1990-91 continued 
to return to Aceh.  Others continued to seek asylum in 
Malaysia, including a group who entered the UNHCR compound in 
Kuala Lumpur in 1992 claiming their lives would be threatened 
if they returned to Indonesia.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens do not have the ability to change their government 
through democratic means.  Under the Constitution, the highest 
authority of the state is the 1,000-member People's 
Consultative Assembly (MPR).  It meets quinquennially to elect 
the President and Vice President and set the broad outlines of 
state policy.  Half of its members come from the national 
Parliament, 80 percent of whose members are elected.  The other 
half are appointed, giving the Government control of the MPR 
and selection of the President.  In March the MPR elected 
Soeharto to his sixth uncontested 5-year term as President.  
While in theory, the President is subordinate to the Assembly, 
in fact, he and a small group of active duty and retired 
military officers and civilian officials exercise governmental 

The military, under a "dual function" doctrine, is assigned a 
role in both security and sociopolitical affairs.  Members of 
the military are allotted 20 percent of the seats in national, 
provincial, and district parliaments, and occupy numerous key 
positions in the administration.  The other 80 percent of 
national and local parliamentary seats are filled through 
elections held every 5 years.  All adult citizens are eligible 
to vote, except active duty members of the armed forces, 
convicted criminals serving prison sentences, and some 36,000 
former PKI members.  Voters choose by secret ballot between the 
three government-approved political organizations, which field 
candidate lists in each electoral district.  Those lists must 
be screened by the Agency for Coordination of Assistance for 
the Consolidation of National Security (BAKORSTANAS) (see 
Section 1.d.), which determines whether candidates were 
involved in the abortive 1965 Communist coup or pose other 
broadly defined security risks.  Critics charge these 
screenings are unconstitutional, since there is no way to 
appeal the results, and note that they can be used to eliminate 
critics of the Government from Parliament.

Strict rules establish the length of the political campaign, 
access to electronic media, schedules for public appearances, 
and the political symbols that can be used.  GOLKAR, a 
government-sponsored organization of diverse functional groups, 
won 68 percent of the seats in the 1992 elections.  Two small 
political parties, the United Development Party and the 
Democratic Party of Indonesia (PDI), split the remaining vote.  
By law all three political organizations must embrace 
Pancasila, and none is considered an opposition party.  The 
leaders of all these organizations are approved, if not chosen, 
by the Government, and their activities are closely scrutinized 
and often guided by government authorities.  The Government 
disrupted the July national congress of the PDI in Medan and 
refused to ratify its reelection of Soerjadi as general 
chairman, helping instead to form an alternate "caretaker" 
council to elect a general chairman.  In December the 
Government finally succumbed to popular pressure within the PDI 
and allowed Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's 
first president, to become the PDI's top officer.

GOLKAR maintains close institutional links with the armed 
forces and KORPRI, the nonunion association to which all civil 
servants automatically belong.  Civil servants may join any of 
the political parties with official permission, but most are 
members of GOLKAR.  Former members of the PKI and some other 
banned parties may not run for office or be active politically. 
The 500 members of the national Parliament (DPR) consider bills 
presented to them by government departments and agencies but do 
not draft laws on their own, although they have the 
constitutional right to do so.  The DPR makes technical and 
occasionally substantive alterations to bills it reviews.  It 
remains clearly subordinate to the executive branch.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Government generally ignores calls by domestic human rights 
groups and activists for investigations of alleged human rights 
incidents, although the armed forces did conduct its own review 
of the September Madura incident which resulted in disciplinary 
action against four officers.  While various domestic 
organizations and persons interested in human rights operate 
energetically, some human rights monitors face government 
harassment such as frequent visits by police or agents from 
military intelligence, interrogations at police stations, or 
cancellations of private meetings (see Section 2.b.).  The 
Government considers outside investigations of alleged human 
rights violations to be interference in its internal affairs 
and emphasizes its belief that linking foreign assistance to 
human rights observance is unacceptable.

Nonetheless, the Government in 1993 showed itself far more 
receptive to international human rights groups and concerns.  
It hosted, along with the United Nations, an Asia-Pacific 
workshop on human rights in January, and allowed a 
representative of Amnesty International (AI) to attend, the 
first time in 15 years that AI was officially allowed to enter 
Indonesia.  A representative of Asia Watch was allowed to visit 
Jakarta and East Timor during the trial of Jose "Xanana" Gusmao 
and was given wide access to government and nongovernmental 
organization (NGO) officials.  Three different representatives 
of the International Commission of Jurists were also allowed to 
attend Gusmao's trial.  The ICRC continued to operate in East 
Timor, Irian Jaya, and Aceh, and to visit prisoners convicted 
of participation in the abortive, Communist-backed coup in 1965 
as well as convicted Muslim extremists.  Although the ICRC 
experienced problems in conducting prison visits in May in Aceh 
and in May and June in East Timor, the problems were resolved 
for the time being.  

A special envoy of the U.N. Secretary General, Amos Wako, was 
allowed to visit Jakarta and East Timor in April, and other 
U.N. officials attended sessions of Gusmao's trial.  Indonesia 
was a vigorous participant in the June World Conference on 
Human Rights in Vienna and joined the consensus on the concept 
of the universality of human rights.  Just prior to the 
conference, the Government announced the formation of a 
National Human Rights Commission headed by former Supreme Court 
Chief Justice Ali Said.  The names of the other commission 
members were announced in December.  Although skepticism 
existed about the commission's independence from the 
Government, and virtually all the private human rights monitors 
who had been asked to join refused, many of those appointed 
were viewed by human rights activists as credible spokesmen for 
human rights and democracy.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


Although President Soeharto and other officials periodically 
affirm that women are equal to and have the same rights, 
obligations, and opportunities as men under Indonesian law, 
this is only partly true.  Women often find it more difficult 
to exercise their legal rights.  For example, in divorce cases 
women often bear a heavier evidentiary burden than men, 
especially in the Islamic-based family court system.  Although 
some Indonesian women enjoy a high degree of economic and 
social freedom and occupy important midlevel positions in the 
civil service, educational institutions, labor organizations, 
the military, the professions, and private business, the 
overwhelming number of Indonesian women do not experience such 
social and economic freedoms.

Although women constitute one-quarter of the civil service, 
they occupy only a small fraction of the service's top posts.  
They make up about 40 percent of the overall work force, with 
the majority in the rural sector.  Despite legal guarantees of 
equal treatment, women seldom receive equal pay for equal work 
and disproportionately experience illiteracy, poor health, and 
inadequate nutrition.  There is a common belief that women will 
work for a lower wage, will do work a man would not do, and 
will not complain.  Women are often not given the extra salary 
that is their due when they are the head of household.  Women 
workers also have complained of being sexually victimized by 
foremen and factory owners.  Although several voluntary, 
private groups work actively to advance women's legal, 
economic, social, and political rights and claim some success 
in gaining official cognizance of women's concerns, traditional 
attitudes which limit women's aspirations, activities, and 
status undercut state policy in some areas.

The Indonesian National Police reported 1,341 rape cases for 
1991 and 1,356 cases for 1992.  However, women's rights 
activists believe rape is grossly underreported in Indonesia, 
shame being one of the primary reasons.  Some legal experts 
state that if a women does not go immediately to the hospital 
for a physical exam which produces semen or other physical 
evidence of rape, she will not be able to bring charges.  
Anecdotal evidence also suggests some women fail to report rape 
to police out of fear of being molested again by the police 

A common belief, even among women of the upper classes, is that 
women who walk alone at night will be perceived as "fair 
game."  Many women go to great lengths to avoid being in public 
alone in the evenings.  The danger inherent in returning home 
alone in the evenings is acknowledged by government regulations 
requiring employers to provide transportation for women workers 
who are required, through either overtime work or shift work, 
to return home at night.  However, this regulation is often 
honored only in the breach, as are provisions granting women 
maternity and menstrual leave.

The Government has acknowledged the problem of domestic 
violence in Indonesian society, which some say has been 
aggravated by recent social changes brought about by rapid 
urbanization.  However, longstanding traditional beliefs that 
the husband may "teach" or "control" the wife through several 
means, including violence, also contribute to the problem.  The 
Government provides some counseling, and several private 
organizations exist to assist women.  Many of these 
organizations focus mainly on reuniting the family rather than 
on providing protection to the women involved.  There are no 
battered women's shelters in Indonesia.  Many women rely on 
extended family systems for shelter during cooling-off 
periods.  In general, the problem of violence against women 
remains poorly documented.

Female genital mutilation, which is widely condemned by health 
experts as both physically and psychologically dangerous to 
women's health, is widely practiced in Indonesia.  In Java it 
usually occurs within the first year after birth and is 
performed either at a hospital or by a local shaman or dukun, 
especially in rural areas.  Usually a small section of the tip 
of the clitoris is cut.  Total removal of the clitoris is not 
the objective of the practice, although it does occur if 
ineptly performed.


Indonesia is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the 
Child and was on the organizing committee of the World Summit 
for Children.  The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and 
NGO's active in child welfare are also active in Indonesia, and 
UNICEF in particular has praised government efforts to improve 
the lives of children through poverty alleviation and 
improvements in primary education, maternity services, and 
family planning.  Law No. 4 of 1979 on children's welfare 
guarantees certain rights to children and defines the 
responsibility of the State and parents to nurture and protect 
them.  Implementing regulations have never been developed, 
however, and the law's provisions have yet to go into effect.

Although child sexual and other physical abuse is known to 
occur in Indonesia, especially cases of incest between 
stepfathers and stepdaughters, some experts in child care 
believe its incidence in Indonesia is relatively low.  Laws 
exist which protect children from indecent activities, 
prostitution, and incest, although the Government has made no 
special enforcement efforts in these areas.

     Indigenous People

The Government recognizes several indigenous population groups 
in Indonesia, based largely on criteria relating to isolation.  
The Government recognizes these groups' rights to participate 
fully in Indonesian political and social life; considerable 
efforts, for example, were made to insure that isolated groups 
participated in the 1992 elections.  It is widely believed, 
however, that the Government's approach is basically 
paternalistic and designed more to bring these groups into the 
Indonesian family than to protect traditional ways of life.  
Where indigenous groups clash with development schemes, the 
developers almost always win.  Concerns have also been raised 
about the Government's transmigration programs, which 
frequently disrupt the social and economic life in the 
recipient communities when transmigrants are relocated from 
populous Java to less populated outer islands.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Indonesians exhibit considerable racial and ethnic tolerance, 
with the important exception of official and informal 
discrimination against ethnic Chinese, who comprise about 3 
percent of the population.  Since 1959 noncitizen ethnic 
Chinese have been denied the right to run businesses in rural 
Indonesia.  Regulations prohibit the operation of all Chinese 
schools for ethnic Chinese, formation of exclusively Chinese 
cultural groups or trade associations, and public display of 
Chinese characters.  Chinese-language publications, with the 
exception of one officially sanctioned daily newspaper, may 
neither be imported nor produced domestically.  Private 
instruction in Chinese is discouraged but takes place to a 
limited extent.  State universities have no formal quotas that 
limit the number of ethnic Chinese.  No laws prohibit speaking 
Chinese, but the Government lays heavy stress on the learning 
and use of the national language, Bahasa Indonesia.  Ethnic 
Chinese were forbidden in 1993 to celebrate the Chinese new 
year in temples or public places.  Despite these limitations, 
many people of Chinese ancestry have been successful in 
business and the professions, and the enforcement of 
restrictions is often haphazard.  Some ethnic Chinese have 
enjoyed particular government favor.  Social and religious 
groups exist which are, in effect, all Chinese and not 
proscribed.  Chinese is spoken in businesses and by the public 
at entertainment events.

     People with Disabilities

The disabled in Indonesia do not receive special programs or 
attention, and no national law specifically addresses their 
status.  Virtually no public buildings or public means of 
transport are designed specifically for access by the 
handicapped, and the handicapped face considerable 
discrimination in employment and education.  The press, for 
example, reported in 1993 the case of a university student 
confined to a wheelchair who was told in the fourth year of a 
5-year biology degree that she would not be permitted to 
complete her course of study because university rules forbade 
the admission of handicapped students in her department.  
Public outcry and debate of the issue was significant; she was 
permitted to obtain her degree, and issues of the handicapped 
received considerable public discussion.  A 1992 traffic law 
implemented in 1993 notes specifically the right of the 
handicapped to special transportation services such as 
specifically designed tools and facilities, special regulations 
for obtaining drivers' licenses, and appropriate vehicles.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Private sector workers, including those in export processing 
zones, are free to form worker organizations without prior 
authorization.  However, only a union can bargain on behalf of 
employees or represent workers in the Department of Manpower's 
labor courts.  Private sector firms without unions are required 
to issue company regulations covering terms of employment.  
Workers are supposed to be consulted prior to the issuance of 
these regulations.  Department of Manpower approval is also 
required for company regulations (see Section 6.b.).

In order to be recognized as a union, a workers' organization 
must register as a social organization with the Department of 
Home Affairs under the ORMAS Law (see Section 2.b.) and meet 
the requirements for recognition by the Department of Manpower, 
namely:  union offices in at least 5 of the country's 27 
provinces, branch offices in at least 25 districts, and 100 
plant-level units.  If, because the industry or type of work is 
localized, with the result that a union is confined to only a 
few locations, e.g. mining, the union needs 10,000 members for 
registration purposes.  These requirements were introduced by 
Ministerial Regulation per-03/men/1993, signed by the Minister 
of Manpower in February 1993.

While the current recognition requirements are lower than those 
specified previously, they still constitute a significant 
barrier to recognition and the right to engage in collective 
bargaining.  In addition, Ministerial Regulation 
per-03/men/1993 requires that a union be set up "by and for 
workers" (Article 1.a.).  The Ministry of Manpower interprets 
this clause to deny recognition to groups in which what it 
considers nonworkers, such as lawyers or human rights 
activists, are involved as organizers.

In September 1993, the Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia (SPSI, 
All Indonesian Workers Union), the only recognized union, began 
a transformation from a unitary (centralized) to a federative 
(decentralized) structure.  As of October 1993, 12 of its 13 
industrial sectors were registered as independent unions.  This 
change was made possible by regulations, kep-438/men/1992, 
signed by the Minister of Manpower in October 1992, and 
per-03/men/1993 of February 1993.  The former removed the 
requirement that a (plant-level) union be a component of the 
SPSI while the latter lowered the requirements for (nationwide) 
union recognition.  However, to become final, the SPSI's 
constitution must be altered.  This can only be done at a SPSI 
congress; the next one is scheduled for 1995, or a special 
congress could be convened before then.

As of September, the SPSI had 11,184 units out of roughly 
26,000 organizable work sites.  It claims a membership of about 
1.9 million dues-paying members, about 2.5 percent of the total 
work force.  However, if agricultural workers and others in 
categories such as self-employed and family workers who are not 
normally union members are excluded, the percentage of union 
members rises to approximately 6 percent.

There is, de facto, a single union system, and it is the 
Government's stated policy to seek to improve effectiveness of 
the recognized SPSI unions rather than ease the process for the 
formation of alternative organizations.  The only unions 
recognized by the Department of Manpower are those which 
previously constituted the SPSI's industrial sectors.  The 
Minister of Manpower has stated that any unions which form in 
the future should affiliate with the SPSI federation and that 
the Government will not recognize any unions outside the 

The Government has indicated that it is looking at the 
possibility of permitting nonunion plant-level worker 
associations to conclude legally binding labor agreements with 

Two other labor groups, Setia Kawan (Solidarity), also known as 
Serikat Buruh Merdeka (SMB, Free Trade Union), and Serikat 
Buruh Sejahtera Indonesia (SBSI, Indonesian Workers Welfare 
Union), have been organized but are not registered.  In 
existence for 2 years, Setia Kawan is essentially moribund 
while the SBSI, created in 1992, continues to attempt to form 
the necessary number of factory-level units to meet the 
requirements of the new registration regulation.  The SBSI has 
twice attempted to register with the Department of Home Affairs 
as a social organization, on October 28, 1992, and August 10, 
1993.  In the first instance no action was taken on its 
application, and in the second an official of the Department of 
Home Affairs refused to accept the SBSI's documentation.   
Registration under the ORMAS Law is required for all 
organizations in order to function legally (see Section 2.b.).  
Although the ORMAS Law does not specify any requirement for 
approval from other government bodies, a spokesman for the 
Department of Home Affairs stated his department could not 
accept the SBSI's registration without a positive 
recommendation from the Department of Manpower.  In line with 
its policy that only unions organized "by and for workers" can 
be recognized, the Department of Manpower has refused to 
recommend the registration of the SBSI as a social organization 
under the ORMAS Law on the grounds that its founders were not 
workers but human rights activists and lawyers.  According to 
the SBSI, only two members of its executive board are lawyers, 
and the rest are workers.  Government officials have said that 
if the SBSI reconstitutes itself as an NGO, it would be 
registered under the ORMAS Law.  The SBSI, however, has refused 
to accept this offer.

Until October 1992, when it was replaced by Ministerial 
Regulation kep-438/men/1992, Minister of Manpower Decision 
1109/men/1986 defined the procedures for establishing an SPSI 
factory unit.  This regulation enjoined workers to consult with 
the employer during the process of setting up an SPSI branch.  
In practice this often meant obtaining the employer's consent 
for the establishment of a unit.  While this regulation was in 
effect, there were numerous reports that employers would agree 
to the organization of SPSI units only if they were allowed to 
select the units' officials.  Employers justified this action 
under the terms of Ministerial Decision 1109 which also 
specified the requirements for union officials including "high 
educational background" and possession of "certain qualities: 
reliable, highly disciplined...."  Employers argued that they 
were in the best position to know which employees possessed 
those characteristics.  Because of this, many current SPSI 
factory units are led by individuals selected by employers and 
who have little credibility with their units' members.  The new 
regulation states that employees must only notify their 
employer that they wish to form a union and that they may 
proceed if they do not receive a response from their employer 
within 2 weeks.  Despite this new provision, strikes continue 
to occur because employers attempt to prevent the formation of 
union branches.  These strikes are invariably successful and 
the formation of an SPSI unit follows shortly thereafter.

Civil servants are not permitted to join unions and must belong 
to KORPRI, a nonunion association whose central development 
council is chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs.  Teachers 
must belong to the Teachers' Association (PGRI).  While 
technically classed as a union (its status was changed from 
association similar to KORPRI in April 1990), PGRI has 
continued to function more as a welfare organization and does 
not appear to have engaged in trade union activities.  State 
enterprise employees, defined to include those working in 
enterprises in which the state has a 5-percent holding or 
greater, usually are required to join KORPRI, but a small 
number of state enterprises have SPSI units.

Unions may draw up their own constitutions and rules and elect 
their representatives.  However, the Government has a great 
deal of influence over the SPSI and its federated unions.  The 
head of the SPSI is a senior member of GOLKAR, and he and two 
other senior SPSI officials are members of Parliament 
representing GOLKAR.  With one exception, all members of the 
executive council are members of GOLKAR.  These persons have 
been given positions in the new federated industrial sector 
unions.  The Minister of Manpower is a member of the SPSI's 
Consultative Council.  Numerous regional officials also are 
GOLKAR members, sometimes serving in regional legislatures.  
According to credible reports, the Government interferes in the 
selection of SPSI officers, especially by placing retired 
military officers in mid-level SPSI positions.  The Government 
has stated that it intends to cease the practice of placing 
military officers in union positions and eventually to remove 
the officials with significant GOLKAR connections.  

Under the Criminal Code, police approval is needed for all 
meetings of five people or more of all organizations outside 
offices or normal work sites.  This provision also applies to 
union meetings.  Permission is routinely given to the SPSI.  In 
October 1992, police and the military halted an SBSI meeting, 
for which a permit had not been requested, and briefly detained 
its organizers for questioning.  On June 19, police halted a 
seminar on freedom of association being held in the SBSI's 
offices while an International Labor Organization (ILO) 
official was present.  In July the police and military 
prevented the SBSI from holding its first congress because the 
Government had not granted the union's request for a permit for 
the meeting.  A union may be dissolved if the Government 
believes it is acting against Pancasila, but there are no laws 
or regulations specifying procedures for union dissolution.  
There have been no actual cases of dissolution.

The SPSI maintains international contacts but is not affiliated 
with any international trade union organizations except the 
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Trade Union 
Council.  Some elements of the SPSI, now registered as 
industrial sector unions, maintain links with international 
trade union secretariats.  The SPSI still has its application 

pending for membership with the International Confederation of 
Free Trade Unions.

While Pancasila principles call for labor-management 
differences to be settled by consensus, all organized workers, 
with the exception of civil servants, have the right to 
strike.  However, state enterprise employees and teacher rarely 
exercise this right.  Before a strike can occur in the private 
sector, the law requires intensive mediation by the Department 
of Manpower and prior notice of the intent to strike.  However, 
no approval is required.

In practice, dispute settlement procedures are not followed 
fully, and formal notice of the intent to strike is rarely 
given.  The Department of Manpower procedures are time 
consuming, and decisions are handed down usually only after a 
prolonged period has elapsed.  These processes have little 
credibility with workers and are mostly ignored.  Strikes, 
therefore, tend to be sudden, the result of longstanding 
grievances or recognition that legally mandated benefits or 
rights are not being received.  While strike leaders are not 
arrested for illegal strikes, they often lose their jobs.  The 
number of strikes has continued to increase over the last few 
years, most of them over failure of companies to pay legally 
mandated minimum wages or because companies are resisting the 
formation of a factory-level union.  In 1992 there were 112 
"illegal" strikes officially recorded by the Department of 
Manpower, but the actual number most likely was larger.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Collective bargaining is provided for by law, but only 
recognized trade unions may engage in it.  As noted in Section 
6.a. above, the Government is considering permitting 
plant-level workers associations (non-SPSI groups) to conclude 
legally binding agreements with employers.  The Department of 
Manpower promotes collective bargaining as an instrument of 
industrial relations in the context of the national ideology, 
Pancasila.  The majority of the collective bargaining 
agreements between the SPSI and employers are negotiated 

Once notified that 25 employees have joined a registered union, 
an employer is obligated to bargain with it.  As a transitional 
stage to encourage collective bargaining, regulations require 
that every company with 25 or more employees issue company 
regulations defining the terms and conditions of employment.  
Before a company can register or renew its company regulations 
it must demonstrate that it consulted with the union or, in its 
absence, a committee consisting of employer and employee 
representatives.  In companies without unions, the Government 
discourages workers from utilizing outside assistance, such as 
from NGO's, during consultations with employers over company 
regulations.  The Department of Manpower prefers that workers 
seek its assistance and believes that the Department's role is 
to protect workers.  There are credible reports that for some 
companies consultations are perfunctory at best and usually 
with management-selected workers.  There are also credible 
reports to the contrary from U.S. companies.

Only about half of the factory-level SPSI units have collective 
bargaining agreements.  The degree to which these agreements 
are freely negotiated between unions and management without 
government interference varies.  By regulation, negotiations 
are to be concluded within 30 days.  If not, the matter is 
submitted to the Department of Manpower for mediation and 
conciliation or arbitration.  Most negotiations are concluded 
within the 30-day period.  Agreements are for 2 years and can 
be extended for 1 more year.  According to Indonesian and 
non-Indonesian NGO's involved in labor issues, the provisions 
of these agreements rarely go beyond the legal minimum 
standards established by the Government, and the agreements are 
often merely presented to worker representatives for signing 
rather than being negotiated.

Regulations expressly forbid employers from discriminating or 
harassing employees because of union membership.  There are 
credible reports from union officials, however, of employer 
retribution against union organizers, and the SPSI claims that 
some employers discriminate against its members and workers who 
wish to form SPSI units.  A significant number of strikes 
during the last year were the result of employers' refusals to 
permit the establishment of SPSI units.  In nearly all of these 
cases, employers consented to the establishment of an SPSI 
branch following the strike.  Some employers reportedly have 
warned their employees against contact with union organizers 
from the unrecognized SBSI organization. 

Charges of antiunion discrimination are adjudicated by 
administrative tribunals.  However, many union members believe 
the tribunals generally side with employers.  Because of this 
perceived partiality, many workers reject or avoid the 
procedure and present their grievances directly to Parliament 
and other agencies.  Administrative decisions in favor of fired 
workers tend to be monetary awards; workers are rarely 
reinstated.  The provisions of the law make it difficult to 
fire workers, but the law is often ignored in practice.  The 
ILO Conference report in 1993 regretted that Indonesian 
legislation was contrary to the requirements of ILO Convention 
98 with regard to protection against acts of antiunion 

Workers may organize without restriction in a private 
enterprise, even if it is designated vital by the Government.  
If the state has a partial interest, the enterprise is 
considered to be in the public service domain, but this does 
not always legally limit organizing.  There are a number of 
joint ventures between government and private enterprise which 
have SPSI units and which bargain collectively.

The military, which includes the police, has been involved in a 
number of labor disputes.  Workers have charged that members of 
the security forces have attempted to intimidate union 
organizers and have beaten strike leaders.  In June, two 
officials from the SBSI in Medan were detained by police and 
physically abused as a result of their attempt to organize a 
union in a factory.  In May a woman union activist in Surabaya 
was murdered.  In addition to several officials and employees 
of the factory at which she worked, the commander of a local 
military unit was arrested in connection with the murder, and a 
second officer was relieved of his post (see Section 1.a.).  
Members of military intelligence also attended and monitored 
trade union education seminars run by the Asian-American Free 
Labor Institute (AAFLI), even though these programs were 
approved by the Department of Manpower.  The military command 
in Surabaya also halted an AAFLI-SPSI-Department of Manpower-
approved program designed to organize new SPSI units.  Police 
and military in a number of instances have been present in 
significant numbers during strikes, even when there has been no 
destruction of property or other violence.  Military officials 
occasionally have been reported present during negotiations 
between workers and management.  Their presence has been 
described as intimidating by plant-level union officials.

Labor law applies equally in export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced labor is strictly forbidden and enforcement is generally 
adequate.  The Government, however, is often slow to 
investigate allegations of forced labor.  Press reports and 
NGO's have alleged that there have been cases of fraudulent 
recruitment of Timorese workers for employment in Java and 
forced labor by logging companies in Irian Jaya.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Child labor continues to be a serious problem in industrial 
areas.  The Government acknowledges that there is a class of 
children who must work for socioeconomic reasons, and in 1987 
the Minister of Manpower issued regulation per-ol/men/1987, 
"Protection of Children Forced to Work," to regulate this 
situation.  This regulation legalizes the employment of 
children under the age of 14 who must work to contribute to the 
income of their families.  It requires parental consent, 
prohibits dangerous or difficult work, limits work to 4 hours 
daily, and requires employers to report the number of children 
working under its provisions.  It does not set a minimum age 
for children in this category, effectively superseding the 
colonial-era government ordinance of December 17, 1925, on 
"Measures Limiting Child Labour and Nightwork of Women," which 
is still the current law governing child labor and sets a 
minimum age of 12 for employment.  The 1987 regulation is not 
enforced.  No employers have been taken to court for violating 
its restrictions on the nature of employment for children, and 
no reports are collected from establishments employing 
children.  There are no statistics available to determine 
whether child labor is a significant factor in export or any 
other industries.

The Government sometimes refers to Act No. 1 of 1951, which was 
intended to bring into force certain labor measures, including 
provisions on child labor which would replace those of the 1925 
legislation.  However, implementing regulations for the child 
labor provisions have never been issued.  Thus the child labor 
provisions in the 1951 Act have no validity.

In September the Government announced it would review its child 
labor regulations with the intention of tightening enforcement 
of restrictions on child labor.  At year's end, the review was 
not completed, nor had any change in practices been implemented.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

In the absence of a national minimum wage, area wage councils 
working under the supervision of the National Wage Council 
establish minimum wages for regions.  These councils are 
quadripartite bodies consisting of representatives from labor, 
management, government, and universities.  They also establish 
a basic-needs figure for each province--a monetary amount 
considered sufficient to enable a single worker or family to 
meet the basic-needs of nutrition, clothing, and shelter.  
While Indonesia has succeeded in dramatically lowering the 
level of poverty throughout the country, the minimum wage rates 
have lagged behind the basic needs figures.  However, effective 
January 1, 1994, the minimum wage for most provinces will be 
raised to the basic-needs figure, with the minimum wage in the 
remaining areas being adjusted as of April 1, 1994.  Labor law 
and ministerial regulations provide workers with a variety of 
other benefits, such as social security, and workers in more 
modern facilities often receive health benefits and free meals.

The law establishes 7-hour workdays and 40-hour workweeks, with 
one 30-minute rest period for each 4 hours of work.  The daily 
overtime rate is 1 1/2 times the normal hourly rate for the 
first hour, and twice the hourly rate for additional overtime.  
Regulations allow employers to deviate from the normal work 
hours upon request to the Minister of Manpower and with the 
agreement of the employee.  Observance of minimum wage and 
other laws regulating benefits and labor standards varies from 
sector to sector and by region.  Employer violations of legal 
requirements are fairly common and often result in strikes and 
employee protests.  The Minister of Manpower continues publicly 
to urge employers to comply with the law.  However, in general, 
government enforcement and supervision of labor standards are 

Both law and regulations provide for minimum standards of 
industrial health and safety.  In the largely Western-operated 
oil sector, safety and health programs function reasonably 
well.  However, in the country's 100,000 larger registered 
companies in the nonoil sector, the quality of occupational 
health and safety programs varies greatly.  The enforcement of 
health and safety standards is severely hampered by the limited 
number of qualified Department of Manpower inspectors as well 
as by the low level of employee appreciation for sound health 
and safety practices.  Allegations of corruption on the part of 
inspectors are not uncommon.  Workers are obligated to report 
hazardous working conditions; and while employers are prevented 
by law from retaliating against those who do, such retaliation 
does occur since the law is not effectively enforced.

It is also important to note that government policy has had the 
direct and intended effect of markedly improving the material 
condition of the Indonesian labor force both in terms of per 
capita income and income distribution.

[end of document]


Department Seal

Return to 1993 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.