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Cablegate: Civil Society Leaders Tell Das Marciel Democracy

VZCZCXRO6980
OO RUEHBZ RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #2417/01 2470303
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 040303Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6043
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHJA/ISLAMIC CONFERENCE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 1093
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 1703
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA PRIORITY 1919

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 002417

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, DRL/PHD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV UNSC LE IR ID
SUBJECT: CIVIL SOCIETY LEADERS TELL DAS MARCIEL DEMOCRACY
IS THRIVING

REF: JAKARTA 2311

JAKARTA 00002417 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: In an August 28 discussion with Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State Scot Marciel, civil society
leaders portrayed Indonesia as a strong democracy where NGOs
have a vibrant voice. Noting the lack of accountability for
past human rights abuses, they pointed to the investigation
into the murder of well-known human rights activist Munir as
a harbinger of hope. The activists also said strong U.S.
support for human rights, rule of law and tolerance would be
crucial as Indonesia solidified its grip on democracy. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) On August 28, EAP DAS Marciel participated in a
luncheon discussion with ten leaders from the human rights,
religious, and labor communities. The DCM and Pol/C also
participated. Usman Hamid, Coordinator of the human rights
organization KONTRAS, led off the discussion by emphasizing
that accountability for past human rights crimes would be an
essential component of Indonesia's democratic development.
Noting that no one had been brought to justice yet for past
abuses in East Timor, Papua and Aceh, he said the Munir case
(see reftel) offered a ray of hope that the legal process
could hold human rights violators accountable (Note: Hamid,
an attorney, has led the movement seeking justice in the
Munir case). Hamid added that democracy was the only system
under which Indonesians could live together, and argued that
support for democracy meant tolerating for a time those who
opposed it, including the supporters of sharia law.

Elections Are Making Officials Accountable
------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Hana Satryio, Director of Gender and Women's
Participation at the Asia Foundation, said officials were
increasingly accountable because of direct elections. She
added that the growth of civil society outside of the major
urban areas had been especially dynamic. Hana pointed to the
proliferation of stories on local corruption appearing
regularly in newspapers across the country, sourcing
investigations by local NGOs, as evidence of this.

4. (SBU) Rekson Silaban, Chairman of the Indonesian
Prosperity Trade Union, one of Indonesia's three major
unions, said the legal framework for forming unions in
Indonesia was one of the best in the region. If anything,
the legal environment was too conducive to forming unions,
and by his estimation there were too many small ones.
Despite the abundance of unions, Silaban said the abuse of
workers' rights still occurred from time to time, citing the
recent case of labor activist Sarta bin Sarim, who served
three months in jail on charges of "unpleasant behavior" (a
Dutch era law) after organizing a small May 1 rally outside
the factory near Jakarta where he worked (septel).

5. DAS Marciel asked the group what they believed to be
Indonesia's biggest challenges moving forward. Hamid said
that keeping democracy on track would be the foremost
challenge, though he noted that Parliament was becoming
powerful enough to deter any unlikely attempts by the
military to seize power.

6. Responding to DAS Marciel's inquiry, Satryio said
corruption was the biggest problem because it limited
people's access to public services. She noted that while the
problem was "humongous," the increasing frequency with which
important officials were being prosecuted signaled progress
on that front.

U.S. should support moderate groups
-----------------------------------

7. Gunawan Hidayat, Secretary General of Muhammadiyah Youth,
said developing honest political leaders was the biggest
challenge. According to Hidayat, Muhammadiyah was pushing
political parties to run leaders who would promote good
governance in the next elections. Hidayat said the U.S.
should help moderate groups like Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and
Muhammadiyah to deliver moderate messages, but he demurred
when asked how openly the U.S. should be doing so. He said
law enforcement agencies and the courts were confronting
radicalism in Indonesia, so support for rule of law would be
a key way to fight extremism.


JAKARTA 00002417 002.2 OF 002


8. Silaban complained that Indonesia was being singled out
by the U.S. as a Muslim nation; Indonesia should not be seen
solely through the prism of religion. Satryio argued that in
reality, Indonesia sat on the margins of the Muslim world as
Arab Muslim countries did not respect Indonesia's more
liberal Islamic customs and mores. She questioned whether
Indonesia should play a role as a leader in the Muslim world,
or find other means to lead, such as in its capacity as a
member of the UN Security Council.

9. Other participants included: Indira Fernida of KONTRAS,
Hery Azumi, Chairman of the Indonesian Muslim Student
Movement (an NU organization), Benny Susetyo, Executive
Secretary for the Interfaith Movement of the Indonesian

SIPDIS
Catholic Bishops Conference, Poenky Indarti, Executive
Secretary for the human rights group IMPARSIAL, and Ratna

SIPDIS
Batara Munti, Director of the Legal Aid Society for Women's
Rights and Justice.

10. DAS Marciel approved this message.
HUME

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