Statement on the Disbandment of a Waria/Bissu assembly in South Sulawesi, Indonesia
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus condemns the disbandment of the cultural event organized by Forum Kerukunan Waria/Bissu at Soppeng municipality, South Sulawesi province on January 19th, 2017 conducted by the municipal police of Soppeng and regional police of South Sulawesi.
The event is an annual program of the Waria/Bissu community. It is supposed to be attended by 600 waria/bissu from the entire province. The event, which was scheduled from January 19 to 22, 2017 aims to preserve and show respect toward Waria/Bissu as an inseparable part of South Sulawesi Culture. In the Bugis traditional culture, Bissu has an important role as a bridge between God and human as well as the advisor of kingdom. Through this event, the community aimed to create togetherness, incite creativity and establish good relationship between the society and Waria/Bissu community.
Despite of the oral statement from the Head of Soppeng Municipality that gave permission for the event, as well as the support shown by the representative of Regional House of Representative during a live broadcast on January 16th in a local television channel, the provincial police of South Sulawesi did not issue a permit for the event even until the end. The provincial police complicated the process by demanding the committee to give the list of participants, name and contact numbers of the head of Bissu community/organization in every district/city in the province. The police also asked the committee to sign a letter stipulating that the organizers have to be responsible if an untoward incident happened. This unconstitutional behaviour was incited by a complaint filed by Forum Umat Islam Sulawesi (FUIS) / Muslims Forum of Soppeng, an Islamic fundamentalist group in the province.
Despite not having a permit, the organizers braved through pushing the event. There were even reports of a gun shot made by the police to serve as a warning to the organizers and participants.
After the long negotiation between related stakeholders, it was decided that no permit would be issued for the event. The event cannot be conducted because the police cannot guarantee the safety of participants due to threats received by 16 Islamic fundamentalist organization state that they will conduct demonstration if the event is still being held.
This is not the first time for Indonesian authorities and law enforcement apparatuses to subject under the threat of fundamentalist group. In February 2016, the municipal police of Menteng, Jakarta, disbanded the training conducted by Arus Pelangi Federation after receiving complain and threat from Islamic Defender Front. A similiar incident, also happened to a waria-led Islamic boarding school al-Fatah in Yogyakarta, which was forced to dismiss due to threat from Islamic Jihad Forum.
This act by the Indonesian police is against Articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that guarantees the freedom of assembly and association. Indonesia is a state party to the ICCPR. This act also violates the Article 28 E clause 3 within the Indonesia’s Constitution 1945 about guarantee of civil and political rights. With all, the government Indonesia has violated the right of LGBTIQ people to be free from discrimination and violence. More importantly, the government has conducted it with full consciousness.
The Indonesian government’s persistent denial of of human rights for its LGBTIQ people is also reflected in their stance towards UN resolutions on SOGIE. The country was against the United Nation Human Rights Council on the Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity that stipulated the appointment of Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity). Indonesia also joined with other countries who were in opposition of resolution to seek for deferral of the IE SOGIE mandate during United Nations General Assembly in December 2016.
Reflecting to this situation, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus expresses great concern on the situation of LGBTIQ in Indonesia. We convey our demand as follows:
For Government of Indonesia to investigate the unconstitutional act committed by the government officials and law apparatuses involved in this case and hold accountable the perpetrators;
For Government of Indonesia to take strict measure against violation and threats conducted by intolerant groups ;
For ASEAN Government to strengthen the protection mechanisms to address threats against marginalized groups’ fundamental rights to freedom of speech, assembly and expression such as the rising religious extremism that directly threatens the lives of LGBTIQ persons;
For fellow LGBTIQ activists and community in Indonesia to always be alert on the situation and to assure that support will always be given to your works on the fulfilling human rights for all.
Cornelius Hanung, Advocacy Officer, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus