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Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia: would it be better?

CollectionsConstitutions and Human Rights in a Global Age Symposium : An Asia-Pacific Perspective (2001)
Title: Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia: would it be better?
Author(s): Winarta, Frans Hendra
Keywords: legal reform
human rights
ethnic minority
ethnic Chinese
Indonesian 1945 Constitution
fundamental freedoms
Second Amendment
Date published: 2001
Publisher: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Division of Pacific and Asia History, The Australian National University.
The New Order regime under Soeharto, after the abortive communist coup on 30 September 1965, promoted anti-Chinese politics in which minority ethnic Chinese were not given opportunities for political-expression. They were only allowed to be active in the business sector, so they became an exclusive group segregated from indigenous Indonesians. They were coerced into a situation similar to what they experienced in the Dutch Colonial era. The New Order implemented a policy akin to that in the Dutch Colonial era, which policy divided all persons living in Indonesia into one of the three groups, namely (i) Europeans; (ii) the Foreign Orientals, particularly, the ethnic Chinese; and (iii) Indigenous Indonesians. The laws and regulations introduced by the New Order curtailing the civil and political rights of the ethnic Chinese were not only in the form of presidential instructions but also circulated in letters from the Cabinet and ministerial decrees.For more than three decades, the New Order created antagonism and conflict between indigenous (pribumi) and non-indigenous people (non-pribumi). The ethnic Chinese connection with the power elite even made it worse, and caused anger among indigenous businessman who did not enjoy those benefits. Finally, linked to the economic downturn resulting from the 1997 currency crisis, the conflict culminated and burst into the holocaust of the May 1998 riots, in which more than 1,200 people were reported killed and more than 160 women were gang-raped. Regardless of their mistakes, if any, in dominating the economythe conglomerates created extremely high social envy among indigenous Indonesiansthe minority ethnic Chinese did not deserve to be slaughtered and gang-raped. Furthermore, the violation of the right to life, right to property and right to liberty is a serious violation of very basic human rights. The May 1998 riots were inhuman and disrespectful of the human rights of those ethnic Chinese. The protection of a citizens life is basically the responsibility of the state, and a right guaranteed in the Indonesian 1945 Constitution. According to the preamble of the 1945 Constitution, the state is obliged to protect every citizen, regardless of his ethnicity, socio-economic strata, religious back-ground and political stance. However, as frequently debated, the 1945 Constitution is not sufficient to protect and uphold human rights, particularly, those of the minority ethnic Chinese. Not to mention that the 1945 Constitution itself stipulates that the president of the Republic of Indonesia must be an indigenous Indonesian. In this paper I will try to discuss how the Indonesian 1945 Constitution promotes and encourages respect for human rights visavis constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms of the Indonesian ethnic minority, particularly ethnic Chinese. Is the recent Second Amendment to the 1945 Constitution, which adds new Chapter XA on Human Rights, sufficient to cover those human rights protection and fundamental freedoms? Do the discriminative laws and regulations still exist in the amended 1945.
ISBN: 909524262


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