Sunday, January 3, 2010
Indonesian Government banning books
Reads `danger' in more titles
After the controversial banning of five books last week, the government has added 20 more titles to its evaluation list, citing suspicion the books potentially endanger national integrity.
Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar said over the weekend his ministry had judged the 20 books as very dangerous to the public because they were all anti-government, and would soon ask the Attorney General's Office (AGO) to ban them.
"We are currently evaluating 20 books that we consider provocative and could lead to dis-integration within ournation," Patrialis said. Patrialis, a member of the National Mandate Party, said it was the responsibility of all Indonesians to prevent such books from being distributed widely.
"Currently, the government with all of its ministers is working very hard to improve the people's welfare, but at the same time there are certain people who want to discredit this government," Patrialis said. "We do not know their intention or why they have to oppose the government."
While Patrialis refused to mention specific titles or authors, one official said the books largely concerned pluralism and spirituality; the Sept. 30, 1965, incident; corruption; and history.
Speculation has emerged that George Junus Aditjondro's recently released Membongkar Gurita Cikeas: Dibalik Skandal Bank Century (Unmasking the Cikeas Octopus: Behind the Century Scandal) suggests a link between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Bank Century bailout scandal. Another title allegedly on the list is Berpihak dan Bertindak Intoleran (Taking Sides and Being Intolerant) by the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace. This book is a report on obstacles to the freedom of religion in Indonesia. The Setara Institute recommends in the book that Yudhoyono revoke a joint ministerial decree to limit Ahmadiyah's freedom.
The Justice and Human Rights Ministry's head of research and development, Hafid Abbas, said the government was in fact paying special attention to around 200 titles that, but that it was currently only focusing on 20 considered to suggest separatism.
By law, the AGO has authority to ban books as recommended by other ministries.
Previously the AGO banned five books, including Dalih Pembunuhan Massal Gerakan 30 September dan Kudeta Soeharto (Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement and Soeharto's Coup d'Etatin Indonesia) by Jhon Roosa, Enam Jalan Menuju Tuhan (Six Paths to God) by Darmawan M. M, and Mengungkap Misteri Keberagaman Agama (Resolving the Mystery of Religious Diversity) by Syahrudin Ahmad.
The two other banned books were Suara Gereja Bagi Umat Tertindas Penderitaan Tetesan Darah dan Cucuran Air Mata Umat Tuhan di Papua Barat Harus Diakhiri (The Voice of Churches for Suppressed People, Blood and God's Tears in West Papua) by Cocrateze Sofyan Yoman, and Lekra Tak Pernah Membakar Buku: Suara Senyap Lembar Kebudayaan Harian Rakjat 1950-1965 (Lekra Never Burns Books) by Roma Dwi Aria Yuliantri and Muhidin M. Dahlan.
The AGO claims these books regarding faith and spirituality could spread heretical teachings and cause public confusion. Experts have criticized these steps as a legacy from the New Order Era, and as limiting intellectual freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. Critics have also recommended the AGO's authority to ban books be revoked. Jakarta Post