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All candidate teachers, as well as applicants for jobs in a wide range of other professions, are subjected to mandatory political background checks designed to screen out those “tainted” by affiliation with communist or leftist organizations in the mid-1960s as well as those who lack what the government calls an ideologically “clean environment.”70 The screening procedures cast an ideological pall over education, keep many qualified individuals out of the teaching profession, and, because the criteria for exclusion are vague and unevenly implemented, create an environment in which the threat of being named an ex-communist or sympathizer, whether by government officials or by colleagues seeking to settle personal scores, continues to poison intellectual life in Indonesia.

Pursuant to a procedure known as “Special Investigation” (Penelitian Khusus or Litsus), set forth in a 1990 presidential decree, applicants for jobs in the military, civil service, and a number of specified professions are subject to mandatory background screening. All former political prisoners71 from the 1965-67 period continue to be formally prohibited from teaching in any public school or university. As described above, the overwhelming majority of such individuals were never convicted of any offense. The exclusion thus is not a question of denial of civil rights of individuals based on prior wrongdoing, but instead is an arbitrary group stigma. Such individuals are automatically banned from teaching, regardless to matter their credentials or behavior over the past thirty years.

The list of those who are ideologically suspect is not limited to the ‘65 generation. The government’s ideological screening is also aimed at identifying those who lack what government regulations call an ideologically “clean environment.” Those in the extended families of former political prisoners, including siblings, aunts and uncles, children, grandchildren, and in-laws, are presumptively “unclean” and must demonstrate their loyalty to the state ideology and establish that they are free of ideological taint.

According to an explanation of the “clean environment” procedures issued by the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security in 1988:

Among other things, the evaluation will involve:

a. family environment, sibling relationships, relationships which have been dominant/very influential on the attitude, behavior and mental ideology of an individual because of family relationships, personal links, closeness, sibling relationships, sameness of ideals and outlook and so on.

b. [relationships] included in the dominant environment are as follows:

The regulations provide that military recruits must come from families “untainted” by any connection with the coup attempt. For civil servants, “the screening of the family environment is the same, except it focuses more on the character of the individual himself and how far ingrained is the ideology to uphold Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution as well as his loyalty to the government and the state. If the personinvolved has a stable ideology and is loyal to the State and Government, his becoming a civil servant can be considered, even though in his family environment there is someone who was involved in [the coup attempt].” Although the regulations are directed primarily at military personnel and civil servants, screening is also mandatory for all citizens in a position to influence public opinion, including teachers, members of political parties, journalists, shadow puppeteers, mayors, members of legal aid societies, and priests.73

The regulations were used most aggressively in the late 1980s, when concern about a resurgence of communism, manipulated by political factions within the Indonesian armed forces, led to an aggressive public campaign to track down (and fire from their jobs) those who could not prove that they or members of their extended families were "clean" of any involvement with the PKI and its mass affiliates. Among the victims was Drs. Koesoemanto, the well-respected head of a university publishing house, Gajah Mada Press, who was forced to resign in 1989, apparently because in the 1960s, he had once been a member of Baperki, a Chinese organization with ties to the PKI.74 The regulations were still in effect at the time this report was prepared. As the examples below demonstrate, accusations of “uncleanliness” have been used not only by government officials but also by private individuals as a weapon against those whose reputations they wish to tarnish.

In 1995, Kuwat Triyanto (general studies), Harsono (mathematics), and Lie Sing Tew (law), faculty members at Satya Wacana Christian University (Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana or UKSW), were pressured to give up their administrative and teaching positions on the basis of allegations that, thirty years earlier, the three had ties to the Indonesian Communist Party or had been members of organizations banned after the coup attempt for alleged links to the PKI. Despite their backgrounds, they apparently had been able to obtain teaching positions at UKSW through a sympathetic former rector. They adopted a low profile and their position as teachers did not become an issue until the university came under intense scrutiny in a highly politicized battle between faculty and the university administration.75

The allegations against the three first surfaced in the course of a protracted faculty strike that followed the university’s dismissal in October 1994 of Dr. Arief Budiman, an internationally prominent sociologist and long-time critic of the New Order government. Dr. Budiman was fired after having protested the election of a new rector the previous year. Dr Budiman claimed publicly that the university had violated its own procedures when, in selecting the new rector, it ignored the vote of the faculty senate. The firing of Dr. Budiman led to large-scale demonstrations by faculty and students calling themselves the “pro-democracy group.” A number of strike participants believed that military authorities, who had often voiced disapproval with Dr. Budiman, were behind the firing.76 Shortly after Dr. Budiman was fired, armed forces chief of staff Soeyono likened Dr. Budiman to a driver who often gets into accidents. In press interviews on October 27, 1994, Soeyono commented: “If a driver like that gets fired, isn’t that okay? It’s natural, a measure to safeguard the passengers.”77 Soeyono also warned faculty and staff not to use demonstrations to push their views. Notwithstanding the warning, over one hundred of the approximately 300 faculty members went on strike, bringing academic life to a standstill, with the faculty demanding reinstatement of Dr. Budiman and the administration refusing to budge. The standoff continued into 1995.

A participant in the strike told Human Rights Watch that one of the major blows to the movement to have Dr. Budiman reinstated came when allegations were made against the three ideologically “tainted” lecturers.78 The allegations began to circulate at the end of October 1995 when the West Java military commander, Yusuf Kartanegara, and his chief of staff, Djoko Subroto, gave press interviews stating that they had learned that certain UKSW faculty members had communist backgrounds. Armed forces Chief of Staff Soeyono publicly called for their removal from teaching positions. An administration spokesman then suggested that the three were involved in the strike movement.79 Leaders of the movement to have Dr. Budiman reinstated emphasized to Human Rights Watch that the three “unclean” professors had not played a significant role in the dispute with the administration and had not been among those sanctioned by the administration for participatingin strikes.80 They described the accusations as an ideological ploy to publicly discredit the protesting faculty, the three lecturers serving as unwitting victims of the broader political struggle on campus.81

Another example of the continued effects of the screening procedures involved public accusations in 1996 against Mulyana W. Kusumah, a lecturer in criminology at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta and a leading Indonesian human rights activist.82 In March 1996, Mulyana was appointed secretary-general of the Independent Election Monitoring Committee (Komite Independen Pemantau Pemilu or KIPP), a nongovernmental organization formed to monitor the fairness of the upcoming 1997 national elections. Beginning in April 1996, old accusations began to resurface that Mulyana had been involved as a high school student in the mid-1960s in Ikatan Pemuda Pelajar Indonesia or IPPI (Association of Indonesian Student Youth), a group that was considered an onderbouw or affiliate of the PKI. At the time of the accusation, Mulyana was forty-eight. He was seventeen when he was alleged to have been a member of IPPI at the government high school he attended in Bogor, West Java. He graduated from the economics faculty at the University of Indonesia in 1968 and has been a lecturer there since 1970. Between 1983 and 1996, he held a variety of positions at the Legal Aid Institute, and he has written extensively on issues of human rights and criminology.

The charge linking Mulyana to a banned organization had been around for some time. It came up before the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Jakarta in November 1994 when Mulyana's house was surrounded by intelligence agents for several days. The origins of the public accusations against Mulyana are not clear. There is some evidence that the charges grew out of a split in the Indonesian Legal Aid Society (of which Mulyana was then a member), with opponents within the organization raising the profile of his teenage activities as a way to discredit him. In 1996, the allegations resurfaced in a memorandum from the Bogor social and political affairs office No. 200/06-Sospol dated April 18, 1996 and signed by Didi Wiardi, head of the office, that was publicized immediately in the Golkar newspaper, Suara Karya. Armed forces chief of staff Soeyono was among a number of military officials who subsequently publicly attested to the accuracy of the government memo, stating that military records showed that Mulyana had been a chess coach in the youth organization.83

One of the many explanations given by the Indonesian press for why the military should begin making public statements about Mulyana in April 1996 was that it was a convenient way of discrediting KIPP as a Communist-inspired movement. The Bogor memo recommended, on the basis of Mulyana’s alleged teenage affiliation in this “banned organization,” that he be denied the right to vote in the 1997 national elections. According to the ideological screening regulations, all individuals whose names appear on the list of banned organizations must be screened by local officials to determine their ideological fitness to vote. Shortly after the news was released, a member of Indonesia’s parliament stated publicly that if Mr. Kusumah did not have the right to vote, he should not be involved in election monitoring.84

Mulyana, who was never arrested let alone convicted of any crime in connection with his activities in the 1960s, vigorously denied the allegations, saying that he had first learned of the charges in 1991. Mulyana noted that he had been cleared of links to the PKI in several background screenings he had undergone when he was hired as a lecturer with the University of Indonesia. The local official who had released the report countered in a subsequent interview with the press that Mulyana had been under government supervision since 1971. Internal security officials claimed that there was no ulterior motive with respect to Mulyana's case. “Reports backed by hard data have to be circulated so all parties can be vigilant,” said one official.85 The Bogor social and political affairs office said it had issued alerts on Mulyana in 1987 and 1992 (both election years). “We just watch him. As long as he doesn't engage in anti-government activities, we let him alone,” according to the head of information for the West Java division of the army.86 Newspapers and magazines were told in April 1996 not to publish articles by Mulyana.

From a human rights standpoint, the truth of the allegations is irrelevant. Regardless of whether Mulyana had belonged to the youth organization while a teenager, he was never charged or convicted of any offense. Mulyana was not forced to step down, and did not lose histeaching position, but, as he said in a press interview, “psychologically, my wife and children feel the effects.”87 As Human Rights Watch said at the time: “To accuse anyone of being tainted by an affiliation with a nonviolent association he may have had as a teenager more than thirty years earlier is ludicrous; the fact that such an accusation still can be used to restrict the rights and jeopardize the career of Indonesian citizens is appalling.”88 Because the regulations used against Mulyana remain in effect, moreover, the allegations against him may well resurface in the future.

Anecdotes showing the intimidating effects of the “clean environment” regulations are legion. An associate professor of linguistics at UGM in Yogyakarta, for example, told Human Rights Watch in September 1997 that he had been recommended for promotion to full professor status in 1992 and was told at the time that it was a formality, as he had fulfilled all of the criteria for promotion, including high marks for teaching and a long publications list. When interviewed by Human Rights Watch, the professor, who wished to remain anonymous, still had not received his promotion. He explained that shortly after he had complained publicly about the lack of action on his pending promotion, he was told by a faculty member close to the Dean that his promotion had not been processed because the Dean had learned that he had an affiliation with the communist party in early 1960s, that he was not “clean.” He told Human Rights Watch that the allegation is entirely fictitious, and surmises that the real reason he has not been promoted has to do with religious favoritism in campus politics, the “clean environment” rumor used to intimidate him into silence.89

Another individual, a retired writer and former university lecturer, who also wished to remain anonymous, also said that pervasive ideological intimidation has indirect, corrosive effects that he experienced firsthand. This man, who had initially supported the New Order but had grown disillusioned, often spoke out against the intolerant and repressive nature of the government and was a friend of the internationally prominent writer and outspoken government critic Pramoedya Ananta Toer. In 1996, his daughter, who was married to the son of a government official, told him that her father-in-law was worried that if he continued to speak out and associate with former political detainees, not only he, but his children and in-laws could suffer. He concluded with frustration that he was caught in a peculiarly New Order dilemma, wanting to speak his mind and yet wanting to avoid creating a strain in his daughter’s marriage and potentially endangering his family.90

70 For discussion and analysis of the scope of the screening procedures, see Article 19, “Surveillance and Suppression: The Legacy of the 1965 Coup in Indonesia” (London: Article 19, The International Centre Against Censorship, Issue 43, September 1995); Human Rights Watch/Asia, Injustice, Persecution, Eviction, pp. 39-43.

71 The Indonesian government distinguishes between individuals tried and convicted of political crimes (political prisoners: naripidana politik or napol) and those who were imprisoned, sometimes for a decade or more, but never formally charged with a crime (political detainees: tahanan politik or tapol). This report uses the term “political prisoners” to refer to both categories, unless a distinction is specifically noted in the text.

72 “Explanation of the Government about Ideological Mental Screening for Civil Servants, Candidates for the Civil Service and Others as of 8 September 1988,” Appendix A in Asia Watch (now Human Rights Watch, Asia Division), Injustice, Persecution, Eviction: A Human Rights Watch Update on Indonesia and East Timor (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1990), pp. 91-94.

73 Ibid., p. 94; see also Article 19, “Surveillance and Suppression,” p. 7.

74 Human Rights Watch/Asia, Injustice, Persecution, Eviction, p. 41.

75 Human Rights Watch interview with Th. Sumartana, Yogyakarta, September 22, 1997.

76 Ibid., Human Rights Watch interviews with Pradjarto D.S. and I Made Samiana, Salatiga, September 24, 1997.

77 Budi Kurniawan, Catatan yang Tercecer dari Kemelut UKSW (unpublished manuscript, dated August 1997, on file at Human Rights Watch), ch. 7, p. 10.

78 Human Rights Watch interview with Th. Sumartana, Yogyakarta, September 22, 1997.

79 Kurniawan, Catatan yang Tercecer, ch. 17, p. 14.

80 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interview with I Made Samiana, Salatiga, September 24, 1997.

81 Although the “clean environment” incident was not the final chapter in the long battle between the striking faculty and the administration, over fifty professors and lecturers ended up leaving the university permanently. Human Rights Watch interview with Pradjarto D.S., Salatiga, September 24, 1997.

82 This case previously was reported in Human Rights Watch/Asia, “Indonesia: Election Monitoring and Human Rights,” A Human Rights Watch Short Report, vol. 8, no. 5(C) , May 1996, pp. 6-7.

83 “Kontroversi Hak Pilih Sang Aktivis,” Gatra, May 4, 1996.

84 “Mulyana on the Accusation of Forbidden Organization,” Indonesia Media Network, April 23, 1996.

85 “Balada Dadang Dari Bogor,” Sinar (Jakarta-based news weekly), May 4, 1996, p. 70, quoted in Human Rights Watch/Asia, “Indonesia: Election Monitoring,” p. 7.

86 Ibid.

87 “Mulyana on the Accusation of Forbidden Organization,” Indonesia Media Network, April 23, 1996.

88 Human Rights Watch/Asia, “Indonesia: Election Monitoring,” p. 6.

89 Human Rights Watch interview, Yogyakarta, September 23, 1997.

90 Human Rights Watch interview, Jakarta, October 1, 1997.

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