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The presence of CSOs in Indonesia has been actually rooted in the struggle forindependence, initiated by students and youth groups who had the opportunitiesand privilege to study in schools and universities both in Indonesia (thenNetherlands Indies) and in the Netherlands. Religious groups have also significantlycontributed to the promotion of capacities of rural and urban communities and theestablishment of local social groupings. Two Islamic organizations have beenprominent: the traditional Muslim organization called Nahdatul Ulama (NU) and themodern Muslim organization called Muhamadiyah. Both organizations since colonialperiod have contributed in education, health sector and local social and economicpromotion. Other minor religious groups to certain extent have also contributed forthe same actions in several places in the country.The rising of roles of NGOs in development and advocacy activities emerged sincethe establishment of the military dictatorship under President Suharto whosedevelopment programs were mostly driven and supported by foreign aid. Formerstudent activists challenged the top‐down and technocratic development policiesand repressive politics of the military regime. The NGOs started initiatingalternative approaches promoting grassroots‐based and participative development,while providing legal aid to the people whose rights were violated by the militaryregime and massive physical development programs.
The development programs during the dictatorship period were driven andsupported by foreign aid. The donors were grouped in the Inter‐governmentalgroup on Indonesia (IGGI) chaired by the Netherlands (the Minister of InternationalDevelopment of the Netherlands). The huge impacts on human rights violation andthe dependence on the foreign aid encouraged the big NGOs in Indonesia
and NGOsin the donor countries to establish an international forum to watch and providecritical inputs to IGGI. The forum was called International NGO Forum on IGGIMatters (INGI), based in The Hague, Netherlands (in the office of NOVIB, now Oxfam)with a small secretariat in Jakarta. In 1992 IGGI was dissolved by President Suharto.In 1993 the donors established a new group called Consultative Group on Indonesia(CGI) chaired by the World Bank. The NGOs Forum was also changed into the
The big NGOs include the Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Bina Swadaya Foundation, Bina DesaFoundation, Social and Economic Development Research Institute (LP3ES), Consumers ProtectionFoundation, Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI), Kalyanamitra Foundation, Family PlanningAssociation, KSPPM in North Sumatra, YBKS in Solo, Alfa Omega Foundation in Kupang, NuraniFoundation in North Sulawesi, Consumers Protection Foundation in South Sulawesi, Rural DevelopmentFoundation (YPMD) in Papua, and other NGOs based in Jakarta and other cities in Indonesia.