Pluralism rally provokes 'intimidation'
Emmy Fitri, The Jakarta Post
A week after a rally by cultural communities and artists to protest against the anti-pornography bill, activists and artists involved in the demonstration said they were being subjected to various forms of "intimidation".
On Saturday, about 150 people claiming to be members of the Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) arrived at the Jakarta Arts Council (DKJ) in the Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural center in Cikini, and demanded playwright Ratna Sarumpaet apologize for organizing the demonstration.
The group unfurled banners and chanted slogans against pornography in front of the DKJ office.
Ratna, the council chairwoman, invited five representatives of the group for a conversation.
"I have no choice but to play granny to them (the protesters). I told them not to mess up democracy," she told The Jakarta Post
in a telephone interview. "If they believe in democracy, then why protest against our different opinion. My friends and I can respect their beliefs, why can't they?"
"So I will not heed their demand (to apologize)," she said.
Last week, the Diverse But One Alliance organized a peaceful demonstration -- No! to Zero Culture -- which took aim at the anti-pornography bill.
The bill, according to the group, is a threat to the country's colorful cultural history and its pluralism.
"We're all against pornography, but let's do it in the right way," Ratna said.
Contacted later, FBR lawyer Harry Ibrahim said, "We are not intimidating anyone. We are just warning them not to disrupt others' rights to lead a civilized life in Jakarta."
Harry told the Post that last week's cultural carnival had offended native Jakartans, the Betawi, as transvestites taking part in the rally showed their bare breasts.
"Betawi people have been welcoming to those coming from other places, but please respect us. We are a religious community and do not want to let them ruin us with their moral decadence."
On Thursday, the FBR descended on the house of dangdut singer Inul Daratista in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta. Inul took part in last week's rally and even sang on stage, showcasing her much talked-about "drilling" dance style.
The group asked Inul to leave Jakarta and go back to her East Java hometown. The same demand was made of actress and activist Rieke Dyah Pitaloka, who was asked to return to Garut, West Java.
"That's more than just intimidation. They are terrorizing Inul and Rieke. But where are the police?" Ratna said.
Earlier on Friday, about 20 activists led by Yenny Rosa Damayanti visited Jakarta Police Headquarters to complain to city police chief Insp. Gen. Firman Gani.
Responding to the visit, Firman said, "If they (FBR) break the law, they will have to deal with the arm of the law."
Firman added the police could not rush to act on the allegations because they were limited by law and had to take measures accordingly.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with Firman, the activists' lawyer Johnson Panjaitan said, "Let us not allow dim-witted civilians to threaten our civil rights and liberties." (10)