Jan 21, 2018 Last Updated 3:31 AM, Jan 6, 2018

A fair go for all

Published: Jul 26, 2007


Wahyu Effendi

In late 1998 a group of Indonesians concerned by the violence of May 1998, banded together to form the Indonesian Anti Discrimination Movement (Gerakan Perjuangan Anti Diskriminasi, GANDI). The group includes ethnic Chinese businessmen, professionals and clerics from Nahdlatul Ulama (Union of Islamic Clerics, NU).

Former chairperson of Nahdlatul Ulama, Abdurrahman Wahid, declared his support for the organisation and chose the name GANDI, intended as a reference to the great Mahatma Gandhi. On 6 November 1998, Wahid formally established the organisation in a ceremony at his home in Ciganjur. Megawati Soekarnoputri was also in attendance.

GANDI’s express aim is to fight for an end to discrimination and for the dignity and human rights of all Indonesians in accordance with democratic principles.

Legal reform

In recent years Indonesia has seen racial violence against ethnic Chinese as well as against Madurese in Sambas, West Kalimantan. Discrimination and racism can lead to a cycle of violence and revenge. Government policy has a key role to play in building harmony or creating disharmony in communities.

With its limited resources, GANDI chooses to focus its work on the elimination of ethnic and religious discrimination in the law. GANDI provides legal advocacy against various discriminatory regulations, and pushes for the development of a legal system that protects and guarantees the existence of all ethnic and religious groups.

In 2002, GANDI, together with the National Institution of Human Rights (Komnas Ham) and the Communication Forum for National Unity (FKKB), formed a Working Committee for the Study of Discriminatory Regulations. The Working Committee proposed establishing a new Indonesian Citizenship act to reform the current Act No. 62/1958 which continues to discriminate against some groups including the ethnic Chinese. In February 2004, the government had not yet considered the Committee’s findings.

GANDI is currently working together with a range of non-government organisations including the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH-Jakarta), the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), Plan International, as well as a number of government departments. They have formed the Civil Registration Consortium, the aim of which is to push for revisions to the Indonesian Civil Registration Act, which covers the recording of births, deaths, marriages, and adoptions. The existing act was put in place under Dutch colonial rule and requires Indonesians to register in one of four ethnic and religious categories: European, East Asian (Arabian, Chinese, Indies), Christian Native, and non-Christian native. The Consortium hopes that the revised Civil Registration Act will be introduced before 2005.

GANDI is also lobbying government for the adoption of legislation to eliminate discrimination of the basis of race or ethnicity. This legislation is currently being discussed in parliament. GANDI also campaigns for tolerance in the media and for greaterpublic awareness.

Wahyu Effendi (gandi_72@hotmail.com) is GANDI’s General Secretary. You can also email them at gandian@infoasia.net.id.

Inside Indonesia 78: Apr - Jun 2004

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