Freedom of Association

During the New Order era, the Law 8 of 1985 on Mass Organizations (Ormas) was passed; this law has curbed citizens’ freedom of association by using Pancasila as the sole principle of mass organizations, a single forum under the guidance of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the threat of organization/management freeze/dissolution when you engage in activities that disrupt public order.

A state should only provide the foundation of civil code and the arrangement to prevent mass organizations from violating the rights of other citizens; instead, it goes too deep in the area that is actually under the organization’s autonomy.

The reformation that subverted the New Order and mainstreamed human rights in the amendment of the 1945 Constitution has initially offered new hopes. The assurance of freedom of association was also affirmed in the Article 28E paragraph (3) of the amended 1945 Constitution: “Everyone has the right to freedom of association, assembly, and expression.”

However, in 2011, there was a Mass Organizations (Ormas) Bill in the national legislative agenda. Although the Bill was aimed at improving the Law No. 8 of 1985, it still maintained the control paradigm that saw the society as a threat that should be monitored and controlled, instead of seeing them as an equal development partner. The Ormas Bill still used the approach to security politics in organizing civil society organizations through a regime of registration in the Ministry of Home Affairs or at least in the districts. In fact, civil society organizations with a legal status are also subject to the Law No. 28 of 2004 on the Foundations and the Statute (Staatsblad) No. 64 of 1870.

On that basis, YAPPIKA and other Civil Society Organizations grouped under the Coalition for Freedom of Association (KKB) then voiced the opposition to the Ormas Bill and proposed the Associations Bill as a solution. The Associations Bill would organize membership-based civil society organizations because the nonmembership-based organization has already been regulated in the Foundations Law.

Therefore, YAPPIKA and KKB prepared a variety of materials and performed a series of consolidation activities in various cities. The voice of rejection was even louder when the academics, trade unions, and religious organizations such as Muhammadiyah joined in to reject the Ormas Law. However, during the plenary session on 2 July 2013, the DPR finally passed the Ormas Law through voting mechanisms. The rejection also continued to the judicial proceedings in the Constitutional Court.

YAPPIKA and KKB findings during the monitoring of the first 6 months of the Ormas Law implementation have increasingly proven the repressive character of the Ormas Law. The findings also reinforced the measures taken by YAPPIKA and several other civil society organizations and individuals under the KKB to apply for judicial review of the Ormas Law at the Constitutional Court on 28 January 2014. Earlier, in October 2013, PP Muhammadiyah also did the same.

As a result, on 22 October 2014, the Constitutional Court decided to grant one of the 11 articles filed by KKB and 11 of the 20 articles filed by PP Muhammadiyah. There are two major consequences of the decision of the Court. First, there is no range that limits the working area of mass organizations. Secondly, registration is voluntary and organizations that do not register should still be recognized.

However, the fight is not over yet. Although some key provisions of the Ormas Law have been canceled, the decision of the Court that includes the phrase “… Mass organizations that do not register to the authorized government agencies shall not receive services from the (state) government…” actually has created a new problem. The unchanging paradigm and approach in viewing and managing the mass organizations has made the interpretation of that decision became disordered beyond the scope of the services affirmed by the Court, namely running an activity by using the state budget and the nurturing activities done by the government for the mass organizations.

YAPPIKA and KKB hold on their position to ask for the cancelation of the Ormas Law and restore the arrangement of civil society organizations in the right legal framework through the discussion of the Associations Bill.