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Jakarta Post

Disbandment of mass organizations may undermine democracy: Expert

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Tue, January 24, 2017   /  04:07 pm
Disbandment of mass organizations may undermine democracy: Expert Show of force -- Men rally against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is on trial for blasphemy, at the National Monument in Jakarta, on Dec. 2. (AP/Dita Alangkara)

Political experts have claimed that growing public pressure for the government to disband violent mass organizations, in particular the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), could undermine Indonesia’s democracy.

“If it commits violence, just bring the members involved in the crime to justice, not immediately disband it,” Airlangga Pribadi Kusman, an Islam and political expert from Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java, told The Jakarta Post. He was speaking on the sidelines of a discussion held by the Maarif Institute by the Muhammadiyah central executive board in Yogyakarta recently.

Airlangga said if the government disbanded the FPI simply because of civil society pressure, there would be no basic argument to use against demands for the disbandment of any civil society organization.

“It could happen at any time that a civil society organization is disbanded because its members are branded communists,” he said.  

Airlangga further explained the emergence of extreme mass organizations in Indonesian politics was because they were used by political elites who had an opposing stance to that of the ruling power. The elites used issues that could ignite ethnic, religious, racial and societal group (SARA) sentiments because they were easy to use to mobilize people who were disappointed with social injustices to fight against the ruling groups.

“The opposing elites do not use social injustice issues because they themselves do not have solutions to tackle the problems,” said Airlangga. (ebf)

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