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Buskers, street children say bylaw disregards the rights of poor

Detik.com - September 14, 2007

M. Rizal Maslan, Jakarta – Jreng... jreng.... Dung... dung... dung... Buskers and street children strumming guitars and pounding drums. The buskers in front of the office of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) were not there to protest the commission, but to call for the bylaw on public order to be revoked.

Some 30 people from the Poor People's Alliance (ARM) were calling on Komnas HAM) to pressure the Jakarta regional government and the Jakarta Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) to revoke the new bylaw. Their reason, if the law comes into effect the poor will be the ones that will shoved aside and become the victims of violence.

The protesters arrived at around 1pm on Friday September 14. Aside from buskers and street children, a number of non-government organisations are also part of ARM. These NGOs include the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) and the Jakarta Center for Street Children.

During the action they brought banners with messages such as "Stop arresting street children", "Reject the bylaw on public order" and "The DPRD are oppressors, the governor is an oppressor, Komnas HAM must fight".

"We came here because we wanted make a complaint and reject the imposition of the bylaw. Because the substance of the draft bylaw is worse that the earlier bylaw, and attacks the poor even more", said LBH Jakarta lawyer Nurkholis Hidayat.

According to Nurkholis, an evaluation of the previous Bylaw No. 11/1998 on Public Order showed that local government officials and security personnel acted more repressively. The local government failed to pay attention to residents' right to a place to live, a job, social security and a reasonable standard of living which is in fact guaranteed by the state.

"The Jakarta government, city public order officials and the civil service police became perpetrators of violence and further impoverished residents. In looking at the substance of the public order bylaw it provides no chance to the people to access information or access a livelihood in Jakarta", said Nurkholis.

It is not just poor residents who are vulnerable to public order operations, but also the middle- to upper-class who interact with the poor. "This totally disregards Law No. 39/1999 on Human Rights. Because of this therefore it must be revoked and Komnas HAM must investigate previous case of violence committed by local government officials", asserted Nurkholis. (nvt/sss)

[Translated by James Balowski.]