Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly “Diversity is the very element that comprises our nation”

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The seminar titled “Preserving Diversity, Strengthening the Country of Pancasila: The National Agenda for Promoting Tolerance I the New Leadership” held by SETARA Institute at Jalan KH Wahid Hasyim, Central Jakarta, on Monday (11/11/2019). (Photo: IO/Dan)

IO, Jakarta – SETARA Institute reports that according to its research, the number and intensity of radical actions continue to increase year after year. SETARA Institute’s Research Director Halili stated that within the past 12 years, 2,400 charges of violation of freedom of religious faiths and beliefs, consisting of 3,177 separate actions, taking place in 34 provinces, have occurred. The three provinces with the most numbers of violations are: West Java (629 violations), DKI Jakarta (291 violations), and East Java (270 violations).

Halili stated that these violations were perpetrated by both the State and civilians. “The State agency performing the most violations is the Police with 480 violations. Regional Governments is in the second place with 383 violations, while the Ministry of Religious Affairs is in the third place with 89 violations. The biggest perpetrator of religious freedom violations is random community groups with 600 violations, community organizations with 249 violations, the Indonesian Ulema Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia – “MUI”) with 242 violations, the Islamic Defenders Front (Forum Pembela Islam – “FPI”) with 181 violations. There are many other perpetrators,” he stated in the seminar titled “Preserving Diversity, Strengthening the Country of Pancasila: The National Agenda for Promoting Tolerance I the New Leadership” held by SETARA Institute at Jalan KH Wahid Hasyim, Central Jakarta, on Monday (11/11/2019)

Halili further stated that 171 National High Schools in Jakarta and Greater Bandung show serious problems concerning students’ tolerance throughout 2016. When these students were surveyed, 4.6% of respondents supported the prohibition of the establishment of houses of worship of specific religions, 1% respondents agree with the ISIS movements, 11% of respondents agree that Indonesia should be governed as a caliphate, and 5.8% agreed that Pancasila as the underlying philosophy of the country should be replaced. Massive radicalism in Indonesia is the challenge of the new Government of the Republic of Indonesia established through the 2019 Presidential and Legislative Elections. “Naturally, we all don’t want the current intensification of intolerance and radicalism to be the reason and justification of the Government’s political moves to restrict the citizens’ civil liberty. We must provide an antidote that can mitigate intolerance and radicalism within the framework of democracy and human rights,” he said.

At the end of his statement, Halili encouraged the Government to become more serious in providing the utmost guarantee for the people’s freedom to embrace their religious and spiritual faiths, and to eliminate discrimination and intolerance. This would be the legacy of the current Government. SETARA Institute encourages the Government to plan the mainstreaming of diversity in all aspects of State administration by ensuring that all Government agencies remain inclusive. “We hope that the President will issue presidential regulations that oblige all of its ministries and agencies to acknowledge the multiple diversities of our citizens’ backgrounds, including religious diversity. Only by mainstreaming an inclusive environment in the Government, the aspiration of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity as expressed in the principles of Pancasila can be implemented throughout the system,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat – “MPR”) Bambang Soesatyo (“Bamsoet”) stated that the majority of Indonesian citizens continue to view Pancasila as the ideal choice for our formal ideology. He believes that the symptoms of intolerance and radicalism do not fully represent the overall portrait of religious tolerance in Indonesia. Similar with SETARA Institute’s statement, he mentioned that a survey in 2017 shows that the religious harmony index in Indonesia shows that its citizens still prioritize tolerance, even though the level has decreased from that of previous years. Studies concerning the overall picture of tolerance in Indonesia performed by foreign researchers also support this conclusion. “Several foreign studies show that Indonesia’s religious diversity and democratic condition prove that religion is not an obstruction to democracy. On the contrary, they conclude that the more intensely religious a person is, the bigger is the possibility of their accepting the values of democracy and tolerance,” he said.

Bamsoet further stated that intolerance as the seeds of radicalism would end up in acts of terrorism. “Therefore, this must be resolved thoroughly. The growth of intolerant attitudes depends on the land where it falls. Tolerance should be acknowledged as the need of all elements of the nation, because diversity is the very element that comprises it. Diversity is not a mere sociological fact that we need to accept as a given, but it must be preserved continuously. If intolerance is allowed to fall on fertile soil, it would grow and spread quickly. On the contrary, if it falls on dry land, it would die out,” he said.  

Bamsoet states that public intolerant actions are a threat to Indonesia’s diversity and the ideology of Pancasila. According to him, intolerance is caused by two major issues. First, Indonesia is weak in transforming its national ideology. Second, Indonesia is not yet able to prevent various aspects of counter-ideological movements, including radicalism and intolerance. Therefore, tolerance must be seen as a need. He further reiterates that radicalism is the embryo that would give birth to terrorism in the form of violent and extreme acts. Terrorism has always been characterized by intolerance, a fanatical attitude that the perpetrators keep that they are always right, exclusivism, and justification of violence.

Bamsoet then reiterates that President RI Joko Widodo has a strong commitment to maintain the nation’s ideology by establishing agencies tasked with the strengthening our national ideology. “The MPR and the Pancasila Ideology Development Council (Badan Pembinaan Ideologi Pancasila – “BPIP”) are two agencies that must cooperate to strengthen our national ideology – to guard the ideology of Pancasila and to develop strong faith in it,” he said.

At the same event, Special Staff of BPIP’s Guidance Council Antonius Benny Susetyo (“Father Benny”) requested everyone to revive Pancasila’s ecosystem in society. He believes that all citizens have historical and moral responsibility to revive this mental and moral ecosystem, an ecosystem that embraces difference and diversity. “In order to return this Pancasilaistic ecosystem to our lives, we need to instill its tenets to our children from a young age, to make them habituated to it. Therefore, we no longer educate them about Pancasila by indoctrinating them, but by habituation – by instilling character education so that children recognize and accept diversity,” he said.

Father Benny believes that the first thing in instilling and habituating the principle is to show to children in daily life how different things complement each other. “Parents and teachers must build this ecosystem by living it. To understand it instead of indoctrinating it, using methods such as storytelling, analysis, art, and games. This will help the children habituate the primary principle of Pancasila in their lives, and allow them to complement each other,” he said. (Dan)

Four recommendations made by SETARA Institute:

  1. The Government must design, plan, and perform optimization of educational institutions so that they establish a diversity-friendly, open, and tolerant educational pattern, one that is oriented in the strengthening the State and nation based on Pancasila and the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia of 1945.
  2. The Government must place its organs, specifically the Police and local governments (from provincial governments to sub-district/village governments) as the frontline of law enforcement that protects all citizens without discrimination, relying on laws based on Pancasila and the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia of 1945.
  3. The State must guarantee strict and fair law enforcement based on Pancasila and the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia of 1945.
  4. Optimizing the educational, socializing, and literacy functions of tolerance and harmony, and preventing discrimination and intolerance by optimizing television, social media, and online media as the arena and forum for discourses.
  5. Strengthening and intensifying initiatives and equal dialogue between diverse religious and spiritual groups.