The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Indonesia

By Vexen Crabtree 2018

#buddhism #christianity #confucianism #equality #freedom #hinduism #human_rights #Indonesia #islam #politics #smoking #tolerance

Republic of Indonesia

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index114th best
Life Expectancy67.57yrs (2017)2

Indonesia is amongst the worst places in the world at ensuring human rights and freedom, and it has severe cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Indonesia does better than average in terms of supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms3. In 2017 it made some limited steps to protect the rights of some of its most vulnerable people and released some political prisoners4. However Indonesia performs less well in most areas. It does worse than average when it comes to its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice5, commentary in Human Rights Watch reports6, opposing gender inequality7, LGBT equality8, supporting press freedom9, speed of uptake of HR treaties10 and in freethought11. And finally, it falls into the worst-performing 20 when it comes to the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators)12 (amongst the highest in Asia) and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights13. The United Nations made 58 recommendations on improvements that Indonesia could make, but they were rejected wholesale4. Indonesia does not accept the concept of freedom of religion. The state only permits six religions: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Confucianism - there is no legal way to be non-religious14. The country's blasphemy law makes it illegal to promote other faiths. In 2017, President Jokowi decreed the amendment of a law, enabling the government to fast-track the banning of groups it doesn't like4.

1. Indonesia's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Asia (2020)15,16
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank15,16
1Hong Kong24.3
4S. Korea45.7
Asia Avg99.8
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)15,16
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank15,16
5New Zealand17.5
World Avg87.7

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark15. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu15.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe15, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia15.

For more, see:

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments


Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)6
Pos.Higher is better
102Equatorial Guinea-7
Asia Avg-5.0
World Avg-1.9

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR


Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)13
Pos.Higher is better
3Costa Rica23
177N. Korea7
178Sao Tome & Principe7
Asia Avg12.7
World Avg15.1

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)10
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty10
5Costa Rica4.05
140Trinidad & Tobago12.26
144S. Africa12.51
Asia Avg10.97
World Avg10.02

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)3
Pos.Lower is better
1Hong Kong1
3New Zealand3
74S. Africa74
Asia Avg94.6
World Avg79.7

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)17

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)9
Pos.Lower is better9
Asia Avg4378
World Avg3249

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)18
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims18
5New Zealand0.06
92Burkina Faso0.45
Asia Avg0.79
World Avg0.65

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory19. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends20. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life21. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves22.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery23. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity24. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.25. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi18, Eritrea18, Indonesia26) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery27.

For more, see:

Despite criticism from the United Nations, thousands of children continue to perform hazardous work on tobacco farms in Indonesia. They are exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides, and other dangers, which can have lasting impacts on health and development; the government is content to commit to 'raising awareness' of the risk to children's health, rather than take any action4.

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

Indonesia is an unequal country, with male rights dominating those of women. Historical and current Islamic beliefs are the cause of this.

Indonesia´s official Commission on Violence against Women reports that there are hundreds of discriminatory national and local regulations targeting women. They include local laws compelling women and girls to don the jilbab, or headscarf, in schools, government offices, and public spaces.

Indonesian female domestic workers in the Middle East continue to face abuse by employers, including long working hours, non-payment of salaries, and physical and sexual abuse. Indonesia´s ban on women migrating for domestic work in the Middle East, imposed in 2015, has led to an increase in irregular migration of women seeking such work, increasing the risk of abuse and exploitation.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)4


3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)7
Pos.Lower is better7
107Dominican Rep.0.47
Asia Avg0.36
World Avg0.36

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchalism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

For more, see:

3.2. Gender Biases

#gender #gender_equality #prejudice #women

Gender Biases (2022)12
Pos.Lower is better
2New Zealand34.429
Asia Avg94.24
World Avg83.93

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) looks at gender biases across seven criteria; the % given here is for the total people who are biased across any of those criteria. By subtracting the value from 100%, you can see that those who do well on this index, you are seeing a count of those who do not appear to be biased against women in any of the criteria, and so, doing well on this index is a very positive sign for any country.

The data was included in UN (2022) with full results in Annex table AS6.7.1; their data stems for ranges between 2005 and 2022, depending on the country in question.

3.3. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
1New Zealand1893
Asia Avg1907
World Avg1930

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)5
Pos.Lower is better
Asia Avg48.2
World Avg36.8

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews30,31,32,33. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East34, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews35,36. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"37. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males38.

For more, see:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

Authorities in Indonesia targeted private gatherings and persecuted LGBT individuals throughout 2017, following on from the government's horrible anti-LGBT statements made throughout 2016. Being suspected of homosexuality is enough to justify house raids, the release of the suspects names to the media and a multitude of other abusive practices, including physical assault. Things seem to be getting worse; in Aceh two gay men were flogged, in accordance with the region's take on Shariah law.4.

LGBT Equality (2017)8
Pos.Higher is better
115Congo, (Brazzaville)5
119Ivory Coast1
Asia Avg-02.1
World Avg12.6

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence39. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws40. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries39. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought (2021)11
Pos.Lower is better11
4Sao Tome & Principe1.3
Asia Avg3.7
World Avg3.0

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights41. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish42. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era43 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted44. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief45. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands11,46 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia11,47.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed48. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief42, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion49 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"50 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see:

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#atheism #buddhism #christianity #confucianism #hinduism #humanism #indonesia #islam #religion_in_indonesia

Indonesia does not accept the concept of freedom of religion. The state only permits six religions: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Confucianism14 (with some exceptions for some 'native' beliefs). The country's terrible blasphemy law makes it illegal to promote other faiths. Non-religious folk are also forced into picking one of those religions on official forms - but, lying is itself illegal14. Therefore, there is no legal way to be non-religious in Indonesia.

Human Rights Watch's report on 2017 said the following about Indonesia:

. Religious minorities continue to face harassment, intimidation from government authorities, and threats of violence from militant Islamists. Authorities continue to arrest, prosecute, and imprison people under Indonesia´s abusive blasphemy law. [...]

In a landmark ruling in November, the Constitutional Court struck down a law prohibiting adherents of native faiths from listing their religion on official identification cards. The ruling will help protect adherents of more than 240 such religions from prosecution under Indonesia´s dangerously ambiguous blasphemy law.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)4

Freedom of Thought: The International Humanist and Ethical Union produced a report in 2012 entitled "Freedom of Thought" (2012)51, in which they document bias and prejudice at the national level that is based on religion, belief and/or lack of belief. Their entry for Indonesia states:

Indonesia recognizes only six official religions - Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Hinduism - and requires its citizens to adhere to one of these. The country's blasphemy law makes it illegal to promote other faiths, or atheism. Article 156(a) of the country's criminal code also punishes "disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility" with up to five years in prison. Persons who do not identify with one of the six official religions, including people with no religion, continue to experience official discrimination. This discrimination occurs often in the context of civil registration of marriages and births and other situation involving family law.52

Official ID cards must list one of the six official religions52; therefore "atheism" or "Humanism" or "no religion" are not permitted options. Applicants for government jobs must also identify as belonging to one of the six official religions. To register an organization in Indonesia, the organizers must declare their allegiance to the Basic Ideology of the State (called Pancasila); the first principle of Pancasila is 'Belief in the one and only God'. That means no atheist group can legally register itself.

Cases of discrimination:

"In January 2012, Alexander Aan, an Indonesian civil servant in the province of West Sumatra, was arrested after being attacked by a mob of Muslim militants. The mob was reacting to statements Aan made on Facebook which criticized Islam and said he had left Islam and become an atheist. The police charged Aan on three separate counts: insulting religion (which has a maximum sentence of five years jail), the electronic transmission of defamatory comments (six years jail), and false reporting on an official form (six years jail). The charges of blasphemy and defamation related to his criticism of Islam on Facebook. The final charge [... was] based on the conflict between his atheist Facebook posts and his official registration as a Muslim - a registration he had to submit because Indonesians must identify with one of the six officially permitted religions. [...]

On June 14, 2012, a district court sentenced atheist Alexander Aan to two years and six months in prison for "spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity." Aan was also reportedly fined 100 million rupiah (US $10,600)."

"Freedom of Thought" by IHEU (2012)51

In 2012 an Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan falsely said on an official form that he was a Muslim. He was imprisoned for this lie, but because Indonesia doesn´t recognize non-religious people and give an option for that on official forms, he in fact could not have told the truth. In practice, pillarization can fossilize old divisions in society and limit the freedom of unrecognized minorities.

"Secularism Politics, Religion, and Freedom" by Andrew Copson (2017)14