Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 160th session
(Seoul, 15 April 1997)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Referring to the outline of the case, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/160/14(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 159th session (September 1996) concerning the case of Sri Bintang Pamungkas, of Indonesia,

Taking account of the observations made by the Indonesian delegation at the hearing held on the occasion of the 97th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (April 1997),

Considering that, at its request, the Secretary General carried out a mission to Indonesia from 26 to 29 September 1996 and that the content of his report to the Committee has been incorporated in the Committee's case report (CL/160/14(a)-R.1),

Taking account of the information supplied by one of the sources on 20 and 28 January and on 8, 10 and 28 March 1997,

Recalling that on 8 May 1996, Jakarta Central Court found Sri Bintang Pamungkas guilty of deliberately insulting President Suharto by suggesting that he was a "dictator" at a seminar he gave at a Berlin University on 9 April 1995 and sentenced him to 2 years and 10 months' imprisonment; that the judgment was upheld by Jakarta High Court and that the case is at present pending before the High Court,

Recalling that an earlier charge of having instigated or participated in demonstrations against President Suharto on the occasion of his April 1995 visit to Germany had to be dropped for lack of evidence,

Recalling its fear that the fact that the investigation, instead of being dropped when no evidence was found of his participation in or instigation of the demonstrations, shifted to the seminar he gave on 9 April 1995, might indicate a deliberate attempt to have him prosecuted on whatever grounds,

Recalling also that Sri Bintang's party, the United Development Party (PPP) " recalled " him from his parliamentary seat and that, on 29 May 1996, Sri Bintang launched a new party, the Indonesian Democratic Union Party (PUDI), which is not recognized by the Government,

Considering that, according to the Indonesian delegation, the Constitution guarantees freedom of association but subject to separate enactment; that, in view of the consensus of 1969, the " Law on political parties " of 1975, as amended in 1985, provides for the existence of only three political parties; that this law could be changed subject to a change in the consensus and discussion of the matter in Parliament,

Considering that, according to the sources, such an interpretation of the Constitution is questionable; that, moreover, the consensus of 1969 has never found its way into law, including the " Law on political parties and Golkar ", and that there were consequently no legal grounds for preventing the establishment of a new party,

Considering that, on 5 March 1997, Sri Bintang was arrested together with two other PUDI officials and accused under the Anti-Subversion Act of having, on Eid-al-Fitr greetings cards, set out the PUDI political agenda, namely: (a)  ignore the 1997 parliamentary elections, (b)  refuse Mr. Suharto as a presidential candidate in 1998, and (c)  prepare the post-Suharto period; that the detention order was extended until 4 May 1997,

Considering that, according to the Indonesian delegation, by establishing a new political party and by calling for a " boycott " of the elections, Sri Bintang was acting against the Constitution; that calling for a change of the Constitution was unlawful since a specific - parliamentary - mechanism existed for that purpose,

Recalling that the Inter-Parliamentary Council, in the Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections adopted unanimously in Paris on 26 March 1994 with a delegation from the Indonesian Parliament in attendance, proclaimed that " everyone has the right to join, or together with others to establish, a political party or organization for the purpose of competing in an election ",

  1. Sincerely thanks the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Indonesian authorities for the warm welcome they extend to the Secretary General during his mission to Jakarta and for the spirit of co-operation they displayed throughout his visit;
  2. Also thanks the Indonesian delegation for the information and observations provided and for its co-operation;
  3. Notes that the statements made on the occasion of the Secretary General's visit, both by the authorities and by Sri Bintang Pamungkas and his lawyers, confirm their views, as already known to it, and consequently reiterates its previous concerns regarding Sri Bintang's prosecution for insulting the President of the Republic;
  4. Is alarmed at Sri Bintang's arrest and prosecution on subversion charges for having called, on greetings cards of his party, to ignore the 1997 elections, oppose a new candidature of President Suharto and prepare the post-Suharto period, and can but consider this to be a simple expression of a political stance lying well within the limits of his freedom of expression;
  5. Hopes that he may be released on 4 May upon the expiry of the detention order;
  6. Notes with concern the position of the Indonesian authorities that publicly discussing or demanding a change of the Constitution is unlawful and that such a matter may only be raised in Parliament, since it renders any ordinary citizen desiring to raise the matter publicly liable to prosecution and so makes the consensus immutable;
  7. Recalls once more the constant position of the Inter-Parliamentary Union that, once elected, all members of Parliament hold their mandate by popular will, and therefore reiterates its regret that Indonesian law empowers political parties to have representatives of the people "recalled";
  8. Regrets that the authorities have not authorized the political party which Sri Bintang Pamungkas founded in May 1996, and strongly hopes that they will reconsider, in the light of the principles proclaimed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the regulations on political parties in order to allow a broadening of the range of parties;
  9. Requests the Secretary General to convey these considerations to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the National Commission on Human Rights, seeking their comments thereon and inviting them to keep the Committee informed of Sri Bintang's situation;
  10. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining the case and report to it at its next session (September 1997).

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