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PRD, PPHI banned, SBSI may soon follow

Tapol - October 2, 1997

On 29 September, the Indonesian Ministry of the Interior announced that the PRD, the People's Democratic Party, and all its associated organisations, have been banned. This includes the PPBI, the Indonesian Workers Struggle Centre, and the STN, the Indonesian Peasants Association.

The chairperson of the PPBI, Dita Indah Sari, is now in prison, serving a five-year sentence, after having been found guilty of subversion, for her activities in support of workers' rights. The general secretary of the PPBI, Ignatius Damianus Pranowo who was also charged with subversion is serving a nine-year sentence. The chairperson of the STN, Coen Husein Pontoh, is serving a three and a half year sentence, also on charges of subversion.

The banning of these organisations is in flagrant violation of the freedom of association as upheld in Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in ILO Convention No 87 Concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise.

As two of the organisations associated with the PRD most of whose leaders are now serving sentences for subversion, the PPBI and the STN have been forced underground and many of their activists are now in hiding. The ban will make their circumstances even more precarious.

When announcing the ban, an official of the Interior Ministry told the press that other organisations, including the unrecognised trade union, the Indonesian Welfare Trade Union, the SBSI, are likely to be banned in the near future. SBSI leader Muchtar Pakpahan, who has been hospitalised for more than six months, is now on trial for subversion. His demand to be allowed to go abroad for treatment has been rejected by the authorities.

On 19 September, the Second Congress of the SBSI was forced to disperse after police raided the premises.

We call on you to register your protest in the strongest terms against the banning of the PPBIand the STN, along with the PRD and its other associated organisations. We call on you also to strongly condemn any move by the Indonesian Government to ban the SBSI.