01 April 2008

To Japanese Government Officials: Please Be Extra Selective in Delivering Aids to Indonesia

Open Letter to the Ambassador of Japan to Indonesia on Pressure to Cancel International Aids to Indonesia for the Improvement of the Capability of local government police officers in Jakarta province

Your Excellency Ambassador of Japan to Indonesia in Jakarta

Dear Sir,

As you know, the Japan government plans to give different aids to Indonesian government. One of them is a grant and technical help intended to develop the capability (?) of local government police officers. See Kompas daily’s report on 21 January 2008, p9.

We have responded to such aid delivery with sending an official letter to your embassy numbered 08/IER/SP/II/2008 dated February 20, 2008 about an audience and dialog related to the above mentioned aid. On that letter, the embassy has given us a direct response stating that the Kompasstory is "simply not substantiated". We then were asked not to come to the embassy.

Following such response, we reconfirm the matter to Kompas daily’s related editor named Mr. Simon Saragih as the person in charge for such story and data published by the paper about the Japan’s aid.

On this matter, Mr. Saragih reiterated that the data originates from the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Japan’s government. He guaranteed that such story is only correct.

However, as Jakarta city dwellers who campaign for pro-public good policy, we are deeply concerned with and regret to such an aid offered for improving the capability of local government police officers of Satpol PP. We are of the opinion that this aid likely gives bad impacts of larger spreading different acts of perpetration against basic human rights committed by those governments' police officers.

Since the country applied national policy of regional autonomy after the regime change in 1998, the government police institution has gained important role in enforcing regional regulation (perda) and in maintaining social “peace and order” (ketenteraman dan ketertiban), as stipulated in the Law No. 32/2004 on local government and government regulation No. 32/2004 on the guideline for government police institution. In practice, however, local governments have misused their police force for fighting and evicting city or town poor people and informal sector workers (street vendors, ambulant street vendors, buskers, and other workers) from their working and dwelling localations. Such repeated evictions have been conducted with violence on the pretext of "city’s beauty and peace in the city or towns".

Such violent acts conducted by the local government police officers now have become a sheer terror, not only for poor people and informal sector workers, but also other dwellers of many towns in the country. Violence conducted by the officers in Jakarta and different towns in the country even have resulted in many people killed. The following is only few examples of the different violent acts by the Satpol PP.

Please click Table 1.

With granting aid to the Indonesian government, particularly the Jakarta provincial government, addressed to the Satpol PP unit, the Japan government has actually committed to an unjustified public policy at the dear cost of the lives of poor people groups and informal sector workers.

Efforts to evict the poor people and these workers have been conducted systematically that have resulted in the intensity increase of the violent acts against the city or town's poor people. You could see this phenomenon with the increase of the number of eviction, arbitrary arrests and forceful ejection against the poor and the informal workers, particularly in Jakarta. The following is a list of the evictions against the poor and informal workers in Jakarta from 2001 to 2008.

Please click Table 2.

So far Jakarta is infamously known as a city that evicts poor people, scoring the biggest in the country as compared to other cities in different countries worldwide. The intensity of the eviction has ‘granted’ Indonesia to dubb as a state that notoriously evicts the biggest number of people from an international institution of The Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) in 2003. Jakarta is categorized as the biggest ‘contributor’ of eviction cases or violator against housing rights in the world. No wonder, therefore, that the number of the ejected poor people keeps increasing. In 2002 in Jakarta there was 286,900 poor people (Source: The Indonesian Urban Studies, April 2007). And worse, now, the Jakarta’s poor people have increased sharply up to 675,718 people (Susenas BPS 2006). This number will increase rapidly given that the city development system ruthlessly ignores the rights of the poor. In 2007 there are 615,000 people unemployed and 8,006 street children (Source: The Manpower Ministry).

Such dirty business of evicting the poor and informal sector workers has almost always been made possible with a gargantuan sum of financial public budget. In 2007 the Jakarta city government has allocated public fund as much as Rp62,834,795.50 (US$6904.92) for such unlawful forced evictions. Up to now the budgeting right (APBD) has not been applied by the concillors to side the poor, after all.

Please click Table 3.

The main problem of the city development in Indonesia, particularly that of Jakarta, is definitely not about public order that requires the strengthening of the Satpol PP, but refers to the weakness of democracy in the city management, the very low people participation and the absence of human rights perspectives in the city program making and in the procurement of public policy of the city. In such a condition, corruption will certainly be very difficult to fight against, and therefore public interests and the rights of the poor over the city’s spaces have been virtually ignored. With directing one’s aids to the strengthening of the Satpol PP, the Japan government actually implies its deliberate support for an unjustified development policy that disrespects democratic and human rights perspectives, and therefore furthermore ignored common good of public interests and the genuine people’s participation.

Based on such argument above, we urge the Japan government to heed important points as follow.

  1. To review all aids for the Indonesian government, particularly aids that support the violations of human rights.
  2. To stop aids that are for financing violence conducted by Satpol PP.
  3. To be critically careful in offering aids to different parties in Indonesia, particularly those have perpetrated human rights, particularly if they have obviously abused human rights like Satpol PP.
  4. To direct aids to encourage sound public policies in city management that respect common public interests and the rights of the poor over the city’s space.

Finally, we expect that efforts in respecting and implementing human rights be your real commitment and the concerns of the Indonesian government and of the international community. We hope that the Japan government be really implementing such commitment.

Jakarta, 27 February 2008

Yours sincerely
The People Alliance for a City that Respects Common Public Interests

Sri Palupi
The Coordinator

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