Indonesian ministry forbids Greenpeace to hold rallies

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Legal and Human Rights Ministry forbids Greenpeace Indonesia to hold more rallies to criticize Indonesian policies and companies in Indonesia which are public legal entities.

"The reason is that Greenpeace Indonesia only holds an association legal permit in Indonesia," said an official from the ministry`s Abriana Kusuma Dewi in a discussion with the Anti-Foreign NGOs Student Alliance coordinator, Rudi Gani, here Wednesday.

"As an association, Greenpeace Indonesia is not allowed to hold any demonstration or rallies, and as an association, Greenpeace Indonesia can only express ideas, social and cultural," said Abriana.

Earlier, the student alliance had consulted with the ministry`s high official in determining the status of Greenpeace SEA Indonesia Chapter.

Greenpeace has often thrown critics to the Indonesian government for its policies and other companies in Indonesia through rallies among others against one of the state`s electricity company`s (PLN) coal-fired power plant and Indonesian palm oil plantations leading to a boycott of all Indonesian crude palm oil (CPO) products and rallies on US fast-food franchise restaurant Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in various regions in Indonesia.

In line with Abriana`s statement, former Directorate General for General Legal Administration of the Department of Justice and Human Rights Romli Atmasasmita said that Greenpeace Indonesia that has often held rallies in public spaces has violated Law Number 9 of 1998 on freedom of expression in public spaces.

"The only parties that can hold rallies are public organizations. Everybody in Indonesia has the right to express their thoughts in public spaces but must report to the police before the event takes place. As for associations, there are several requirements that need to met such as whether the associations are registered or not while the registration itself has its expiration date," he said.

Romli also said that Greenpeace Indonesia has also violated the regulation of receiving foreign funds without the government`s permission.

"These incoming foreign funds must also be approved by the Central Bank, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Interior Ministry," Romli added.

As an association, Greenpeace Indonesia also is not allowed to collect public funds, because the nature of association is social causes, they must be the one who contributes to the public. It is no longer an association if they are still collecting public funds, Romli said. (*)