Banning Books That Violate the Constitution and Issues of Communism Terms of Political Interest

Live Press
Nomor: 01/SP/IMPARSIAL/I/2019

On January 8th, 2019, officers from the Padang Barat- Padang Barat Koramil 01 and the Padang District Attorney confiscated books deemed to contain the notion of communism from a bookstore. This book has been confiscated for the second time in a month. Previously, on December 26th 2018, elements of the Military District Command (Kodim) 0809 Kediri, East Java, also confiscated similar books.

IMPARSIAL views that the arbitrary ban and confiscation of books is an inappropriate act and is not in line with the rule of law and human rights. In the context of human rights, book confiscation is a form of limitation on human rights, particularly the freedom to express opinions, thoughts, and expressions as well as the right to access information, all of which are actually protected by the Constitution.

Prohibition of the circulation of books as a source of information and confiscation without trial is an act that is not in line with, and contrary to, Article 28F of the 1945 Constitution which states that "Everyone has the right to communicate and obtain information to develop his personal and social environment, and has the right to seeking, obtaining, possessing, storing, processing, and conveying information by using all types of available channels”. This is also not in line with the provisions of Article 28E paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution which guarantees that "Everyone has the right to freedom to believe in beliefs, to express thoughts and attitudes, according to his conscience."

If the choice of confiscation is made, then it must go through a judicial process and with clear and obvious reasons that public order is disturbed, as has been decided by the Constitutional Court through its decision Number 6-13-20/PUU-VIII/2010. Article 1 paragraph (3) of the 1945 Constitution has also emphasized that Indonesia is a state of law, and therefore the prohibition of books must be based on the due process of law, namely through a court decision.

Regarding the involvement of TNI officers in the recent book confiscation, this is an inappropriate action and is not in accordance with the function of the TNI itself. The TNI is a tool of state defense and not law enforcement, so the TNI cannot and should not take legal action such as confiscation by sweeping the book under any pretext or reason.

Furthermore, the recent development of the issue of communism is no longer a cause for concern for both the military and the public. Indeed, after the Cold War ended, communism was no longer a frightening ideology and threatened the countries of the world. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, most of the satellite countries of the Soviet Union changed their ideology and political system from communism to democracy.

We consider that communism is not a real threat in Indonesia. Currently, there are no political parties participating in the 2019 General Election that carry the ideology of communism in their party's basic rules. In fact, until now, the prohibition of communism which is based on MPRS Decree Number XXV/MPRS/1966 is still in effect. The issue of communism that is currently developing is actually only a political issue. The politicization of the issue of communism has only become a political commodity to fight for power ahead of the 2019 General Election.

We view that it is appropriate for political narratives in election contestation to put more emphasis on competing ideas, ideas, and concrete programs offered to the public so that the public can consider and assess which programs can bring about change. The politicization of negative narratives such as the issue of communism can trigger internal conflict and violence as occurs in countries that are experiencing conflict and civil war.

Therefore, we urge:

  1. The government, in particular the TNI Commander, National Police Chief, and the Attorney General, to instruct their staff to stop confiscation and ban books;
  2. All parties must stop the politicization of the issue of communism as a political commodity, because the politicization of the issue of communism which requires electoral political interests can disrupt the dynamics of democratic life.

Jakarta, January 10th, 2019


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