ANU Indonesia expert explores the contentious belonging of minorities in Indonesia

17 September 2018

Professor Robert Cribb warned Indonesia is heading down a potentially violent path during his keynote address at the 2018 ANU Indonesia Update.

Referring the creation of homogenised communities in Switzerland, Professor Cribb, who is based at ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, highlighted the violence associated with such a move and noted its relevance to Indonesia.

While the inclusion of minorities has been a founding principle in the creation of Indonesia, Professor Cribb said recent political developments have begun to marginalise religious minorities.

“Indonesia’s 1945 constitution was a qualified triumph of civic inclusion,” he said.

“It swept away the elaborate apparatus of legal differentiation amongst Indonesians that had a cornerstone of the Dutch colonial system and it created an Indonesia that everyone could believe in.

“What we seem to be seeing in Indonesia is a minoritisation of non-Muslim religious groups. That is unprecedented in Indonesian history…In the original formation of Indonesia there was a strong principle of religious equality which is now being seriously eroded”.

While local movements such as Putra Daerah (Children of the Region) and Masyarakat Adat (Customary Law Communities) exist to provide greater protection and recognition for their members, these movements have also had unintended impacts on wider Indonesian society, explained Professor Cribb.

“It has an ugly side in the portrayal of internal Indonesian migrants as alien…we have seen a couple of examples where this discourse of internal ethnic cleansing or internal ethnic disciplining has taken place – in Sampit in 2000, and Tarakan in 2010,” he said.

According to Professor Cribb, increasing minoritisation runs counter to the founding ideals of Indonesia and is a disturbing trend, which requires closer examination.

“It worries me that, in the implicit ‘cantonisation’ process, something very special about Indonesia is under threat,” he concluded.

For more information on the 2018 Indonesia Update, visit the ANU Indonesia Project and follow @ANUIndonesia on Twitter.


By CAP student correspondent Diana Tung






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