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Chris van der Borgh & Carolijn Terwindt
Making Claims, Negotiating Space
Image: picture of a painting in the office of human rights organization Imparsial, dedicated to its former director Munir, Indonesian human rights activists, who died of poisoning in 2004.
Table of Contents
Making Claims, Negotiating Space ......................................................................................... 2 Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 4 1. Operational space in partial democracies: analytical framework ....................................... 6 2. Guatemala – Operational space under pressure ............................................................... 19 3. Honduras – Operational space in times of political turbulence ......................................... 41 4. The Philippines – Strategic manoeuvring in the available space ........................................ 63 5. Indonesia – specific spots of limited operational space................................................... 101 Bibliography ...................................................................................................................... 146 Appendix: methodology and questionnaire ....................................................................... 155
otherwise we will use “NGOs” as shorthand for professional nongovernmental organization and the grassroots membership organizations with whom they tend to work together. Generally. Moreover. in each country or region there are rather unique threats and opportunity structures for NGOs.1 This research was commissioned by ICCO Alliance. The reasons for ICCO to commission this research project were the widespread feeling among partners of ICCO that their possibilities to operate freely are increasingly thwarted as a result of government policies and actions. The main finding of the first phase was that there exists a variety of ways in which operational space is restricted. stigmatisation. We make a distinction between different sorts of restrictive policies and actions of different state and non-state actors. 1 As will be explained in the next chapter.Introduction In this report we present the findings of the second phase of our research into shrinking operational space of NGOs. 2009) presented the findings based on our first round of interviews at ICCO HQ Utrecht in June – July 2009 as well as study of relevant literature. It was. to criminalisation. 4 . and particular pressures or limitations in existing spaces of dialogue. antecedents. (3) The particular nature. In order to achieve a better understanding of the nature of the problems of partners in different countries. and of the possible differences between the cases we assumed that the operational space of NGOs is influenced by three factors: (1) The political context (the nature of the state and the political regime) that influences to a large extent the room of manoeuvre of NGOs. (2) The particular combinations of restrictive actions and polices that restrict NGOs in their operations. this includes the operational space of the grassroots organizations (GROs) with whom NGOs often work together. throughout the text we will discuss the operational space of NGOs. however. For analytical purposes we made a distinction between three ideal types of political contexts where the problem of shrinking space has particular characteristics: (1) Authoritarian states claiming the responsibility to regulate the (expanding) and (foreign) funded NGO-sector. ranging from repression and intimidation. e. it was not clear whether and to what extent this is the result of specific (new) policies. and the geographical areas where they work. like Counter Terrorism Measures (CTMs) or NGO-laws. Below we briefly summarize the findings of the first phase of this study and move on with a description of the objectives. focus of this second phase.g. Instead. their political profile and their (historical) relations with the state. the thematic field of NGOs. Therefore we concluded that there is not one trend of shrinking space. The first report (van der Borgh & Terwindt. Netherlands. Where there exist important differences in terms of the restrictions of operational space of NGOs or GROs we will make this distinction explicit. even within the same country there are marked differences in the space experienced and perceived by NGOs. More particularly. and characteristics of NGOs. administrative measures. not clear what the magnitude of the problem is and to what extent partners of ICCO in different countries experience the same kinds of problems.
Countries therefore can possibly suffer from the problems described in more than one ideal type. Guatemala. (c) the restrictive actions and policies experienced by NGOs. we argued that research in phase 2 should take these ideal types as a starting point and that further research should take into account how different combinations of policy initiatives play out with a focus on these different contexts as well as what has been done both by local and international actors to deal with these restricting actions and policies. and how to deal with the various limitations to the operational and political space of NGOs. (f) conclusions and recommendations per country. (d) the troubles experienced by NGOs. where NGOs struggle for safety and neutrality since state power is either fundamentally contested or virtually absent. in particular in issues related to accountability and the exploitation of resources. In these cases we looked into detail at the pressures on operational space of local NGOs as well as the response strategies of these organisations. Also. in partial democracies forms of authoritarianism can reappear and pose restrictions to NGOs. or a specific geographic area in a partial democracy can be qualified as a war zone. (3) War zones and crisis areas. each of these chapters will present: (a) the main characteristics of the political context and the political space in each of the countries. 2 See for a more concise version Van der Borgh & Terwindt (2010). Honduras.2 It is important to emphasise that the three types are not mutually exclusive. This is followed by four chapters in which we present the findings of our country studies. As will be explained in the next section. The structure of this report is as follows. and Philippines and Indonesia in South-east Asia. ICCO showed a keen interest to focus in the second phase on the category of partial democracies. 5 . Therefore we selected two case studies in each sub-region: Guatemala and Honduras in Central America. These ideal types are discussed in more detail in the first report. Differences and similarities between countries will enable us to discuss the forms and variations of these problems. but rather describe sets of interrelated problems. Nevertheless. Philippines and Indonesia respectively. In the next chapter we discuss our analytical framework. as a result of this. in partial democracies there can be marked differences in operational space. (b) the characteristics and evolution of civil society and the local NGO sector. as well as the response strategies of these organisations. focussing on two sub-regions: South-East Asia and Central America. (e) the response strategies to these problems. or within cities between marginalized and more affluent neighbourhoods. for instance between urban areas and countryside. By doing so the research seeks to contribute to the discussion on how to strengthen and protect civil society. For instance.(2) Partial and relatively developed democracies that are not necessarily stable states. or ‘full’ democracies where NGOs can experience obstacles in particular fields. in particular ICCO partners. The objective of the second phase is to explore and understand better the phenomenon at hand: the actions and policies that restrict space of NGOs in partial democracies. Finally we present our overall conclusions and recommendations in chapter 6. We also assumed that lobby agendas from European and regional NGOs will be more effective when they focus on the set of problems in one of these ideal types.
and (6) its right of protection of the state. Restrictions on operational space can take different forms. (5) its capacity and right to mobilise resources in order to survive. The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) makes a distinction between different areas in which problems can be experienced. We will than further elaborate on each of these questions. We assume that within a political context. the operational space of NGOs is not static or ‘given’. but we want to emphasize that NGOs are no ‘passive’ agents using space or undergoing restrictions in this space. Figure 1 depicts four ideal typical categories: strong democratic states. These are (1) the entry of an organisation. Thus. In this study we are not just interested in the ‘restrictions by themselves’ of NGOs. operational space of NGOs is not static and is the result of actions of different actors – state actors. and the levels of civil and political freedoms on the other (see Figure 1). they develop (implicit or explicit) strategies to avoid. but space of NGOs is also made by these organizations and can be claimed or reshaped by NGOs themselves.Operational space in partial democracies: analytical framework In this chapter we present our analytical framework that we use to assess the limitations on operational space of NGOs. weak 3 See the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) and the World Movement for Democracy Secretariat at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). We start with a brief discussion about the notion of operational space and present the three questions that we will discuss in each of the case studies. In our case studies we focus on restrictions and response strategies of NGOs. but rather the product of interactions between NGOs and other actors.3 NGOs can experience limitations in one or several of these areas. These are: (1) What are the main characteristics of the national civil societies. This is not to say that NGOs should be held responsible for the restrictions that they experience. taking into account the political context in which the operational space is formed and/or restricted.1. Cornwall (2002:2) argues. the strength of the state on the one hand. Three sets of questions guide our field work. (4) its efforts to contact and communicate with others. or to address restrictions and influence the public sphere at large. this interaction is particularly important in hybrid democracies. (3) its right of speech and advocacy. (2) its operational activities. private actors. the NGO sector and their relationship to the state? (2) Which restrictive policies and actions affect the work of NGOs? (3) In what ways do ICCO partners experience these actions and policies and what are their response strategies to these restrictions? Operational space in partial democracies In our first report we used two proxies to indicate the difference in political context. civil society actors (and even international actors) that together form a ‘public sphere’. that space is not something that is simply ‘taken up. As we will discuss below. 6 . but in the restrictions experienced in their respective political contexts. With the operational space of NGOs we mean the possibilities to function as an organisation and to perform the key tasks of the organisation. NGOs have agency. assumed or filled’.
They thus also play a political role and operate in the public sphere. social problems. Obviously. based on the rule of law and a capacity of the state to defend these rights. public space in which societal differences. Thus. Political regime More Authoritarian State capacity More Democratic Stronger States Strong authoritarian state Strong democratic state Weaker States Weak authoritarian state Weak democratic state Figure 1: State strength and political & civil liberties4 State capacity and regime type influence the room for manoeuvre of NGOs. In this context there is an effective legal framework as well as state protection for these organisations forming civil society. the two axes should be seen as continua and states can be positioned anywhere in the field that is formed. while others are weak on both (Rice and Patrick. The public sphere can be defined as ‘the nonlegislative. As we will discuss below there are also marked differences within in countries and there can be different realities of state power and political and civil freedoms. Moreover. enjoy autonomy in relation to the state and are formed voluntarily by members of society to protect or extend their interests or values’ (White in Biekart. In more free and strong states there are clearly defined civil and political rights. Civil society is the ‘intermediate realm between state and family populated by organizations which are separate from the state.democratic states. there are different gradations of state capacity and freedom and countries can for instance have a limited state capacity and a more hybrid political regime. extra-judicial. some being strong on military capacity and weak on service delivery. 2008). strong authoritarian states and weak authoritarian states. states can be weak in different sectors. 1999:32-3). A key characteristic of more democracy countries is that civil society organizations (CSOs) have established working relations with state agencies in order to reach consensus on particular topics or to make claims vis-à-vis the government or other societal actors. their position in this field is always subject to change. public 4 Adapted from Tilly (2007) 7 .
6 Examples are the lyncings in Guatema. and not in all cases ‘civil’. Their laws and regulations must contend with other. However. In these cases. Belarus or Iran. dialogue and economic and social integration. rather to ‘partial democracies’ or ‘hybrid democracies’ (Carothers. In the absence of an effective state. however. Thus. civil society itself can be as polarized as society itself. governments have a clear willingness and capacity to control the public sphere and to restrict NGOs in their work – using different measures.policy.’5 These non-state actors can also be of importance in ‘grey zones’ of partial democracies where the state is virtually absent. year. in weak states (both authoritarian and democratising ones). other actors like traditional authorities. City. and groups that do not adhere to these rules. 2006). In a process of democratization the operational space of civil society is changing. and organizations or groups in the (not necessarily ‘civil’) society can be responsible for limitations in space of NGOs. Partial democracies. Therefore. It is important to note. 2002. 2008:2). like China. 2004:55). The political reality in most developing countries differs from this ideal-typical situation depicted in the right-upper corner of figure 1. Criminal and paramilitary groups thrive in the context of an ethnic. because it enables the representation and inclusion of different viewpoints in decision-making processes (ibid). In this regard Belloni (2008) argues that a distinction can be made between civil society groups that explicitly recognize the importance of respecting human rights and promoting compromise. social or religious movements and (international) corporations can be important factors in the ‘de facto’ local political orders and thus influence the room for manoeuvre of NGOs. Morlino. 7-8). Publisher. and the civil militias in Indonesia. Routine Politics and Violence in Argentina: The Gray Zone of State Power. as the consequence of both the efforts of internal changes in the state and the political regime. fragmented. Edwards argues that these spaces are crucial to the health of democracies. but has not led to ‘full democracies’. in particular when the state has a limited ability to make and enforce binding decisions (Belloni 2008. international donors have come to see civil society as very important in processes of democratic consolidation (Howell & Pearce. to control the public sphere or to defend NGOs is limited. 6 Thus. that in many societies the realm of civil society itself is also fractionalized. very different types of sanctioned behaviour. that are the focus of this study. national or religious divide. 8 . local organizations can also organize their own protection and security. the state capacity to make rules. often with utterly unexpected results for the societies that states purport to govern – and for the states themselves. or where it has lost influence. government action and matters of community and cultural identity are developed and debated’ (McCain and Fleming in Edwards. Joel Migdal (2001: 12) has argued that in this regard ‘states are no different from any other formal organizations or informal social groupings. is the existence of a range of groups that do ‘partially’ and in different gradations adhere to ‘civic’ norms. like mafias and paramilitary groups. as well as the adaptations made by organizations 5 See for instance Auyero. warlords. More interestingly. are countries were democratization has made a start. it is important to also pay attention to the uncivil and criminal practices of state actors and restrictive actions of non-state actors. In relatively strong and authoritarian states.
2009:42). discourses and institutions that seek to establish a sense of social order and organization’ (Mouffe in Hickey. also play a more explicitly political role and enter into antagonistic relationships with other actors in society that struggle for power and resources (ibid). 2008:2. their capacity to make claims can be restricted and affect their own operational space. In these cases they are engaged in policy reform and claim making and in that process creating political space. the destabilizing potential of democratization has received increasing attention in the academic literature and the cases in this study all show different instances of these kinds of instability. The operational space of NGOs always has a political dimension. or the actual existing space of NGOs on the other. This happens for instance when NGOs make claims vis-à-vis the state to implement or improve particular legislation. NGOs can. In that regard it is important to make a distinction between the political dimension of operational space of NGOs. democratization involves the creation of and claims for new spaces of participation by some. Randolf David (2007:14) conceptualizes political space as the space that citizens use and demand particularly after an authoritarian regime has been changed and the struggle for democratization has begun. Pansters 2009). that is the space that they should have according to the constitutions of young democracies on the one hand. in the sense that the activities of NGOs are influenced by national politics defined as ‘the ensemble of practices. It is the space that is needed to ‘do politics’and people struggle for political space as the precursor towards a more institutionally established democratic space. In fact.NGOs operate within these orders and partly constitute them. This is for instance the case when NGOs become important service providers and substitute the state in tasks that it also can (and according to some should) fulfill. Many NGOs in young democracies try to use. That process has both instances of (new) consensus as well as continuing struggle (Morlino. and the political space that NGOs may try to create. NGOs have to deal with a number of weaknesses and uncertainties of partial democracies that are still poorly understood (Morlino.7 In our project we have looked at operational space as a more basic and broader concept. and the de facto space. For NGOs assuming this political role. In many partial democracies there exists a gap between the de jure rights of citizens and the actual rights and in much of the transition literature this ‘duality of democratic regimes and constitutions’ is seen as one of the main characteristics or results of (stalled) transitions towards democracy (Blinder and Obando (2004) in Pearce 2006:15. 2008). Writing about South East Asia. 9 . or when they enter into conflict with local corporations about land use or land rights. which includes political space (as conceptualized by David) but also social space (which is not related to explicit negotiation with state actors or the elaboration of state policy and legislation). civil and political rights). More recently. Hicky.e.in civil society to use (new) space. as well as resistance against these changes by others. defined as the “process by which a society produces collectively binding decisions” (2007:14). find and create new spaces of interaction with governments and other social or economic actors. Citizens need that political space precisely because of the absence of politics. As we will see in this 7 In the case studies it appeared that in developing democracies it remains an important questions for actors in civil society how they should relate to the electoral arena and ‘official’ politics. however. or to claim spaces on the basis of human rights legislation (i. A distinction should be made between the de jure space of NGOs. 2009: 142).
The assumption of this study is that the pressures on NGOs will be different in each and every country (even within the subcategory of partial democracies) and therefore have to be located and understood in their particular context. E. the power of labelling and framing is of great importance.9 In many cases these measures are linked and one can identify specific instances where they occur in a certain order or a certain cycle of escalation. Enabling administrative legislation can be juxtaposed to restrictive NGO 8 Cornwall (2002) makes a distinction between spaces that are created by participants themselves. etc) are no longer taken seriously by one the participating actors (e.org/en/humanrights-defenders/issues/challenges 10 . local organizations protesting against a mining company or a logging concession can create a new local political space of conflict. Each of the actions and restrictions can be viewed on a continuum where they can either enable and facilitate NGOs or (at the other end of the continuum) pose obstacles. which mentions Challenges of Human Rights Defenders. however. This capacity can. Webster & Engberg-Pedersen identified three ways in which the political role of NGOs can be restricted.See for instance the website of Amnesty International. can close (Hicky 2009:147). controlled or contested. maintain or challenge formal and informal political spaces.g. the institutional channels through which policies and actions of governments or other societal actors can be accessed. or disillusioned social partners) or simply close. associations and organizations can create. while they would themselves claim to support sustainable development. We make a distinction between five sets of actions and policies. but it can also mean that newly created ‘spaces’ (dialogues. thus putting obstacles for social mobilization. also take a negative turn. that are all relevant to this study (in Hicky. 9 We have made this distinction on the basis of the findings of interviews with ICCO staff in the period June – July 2009.g. laws and measures that can have a restricting influence on operational space. At a national level this can be the result of hard measures such as states of emergency.8 The social and political practices of individuals. or administrative measures.study these problems are of particular importance in the category of partial democracies and in many cases operational space of NGOs is restricted with a view to limit their political role. incoming government officials. online available at http://www. as well as information of human rights organisations. Secondly. which makes the structure. 2009:147). Restrictive policies and actions In figure 2 we provide a table to organize the variety of policies. Firstly. and those that are created by others. ownership and loyalties of media enterprises an important factor in these strategies. a state can give protection to civil society actors and thus provide a safe and secure operational space or it can fail to protect its citizens and allow crimes to go unpunished. round tables. NGOs that are protesting against a logging concession can be portrayed as backward and opposing ‘progress’. For example. A case in point is the resource conflicts where the agendas and motivations of NGOs are portrayed in different ways. or dialogue. The power to influence these frames is partly dependent on media coverage.amnesty. there is always a capacity to create new spaces. or violent street gangs can challenge formal and informal political spaces. Thirdly. as is the case with the activities of criminal networks. formal participatory mechanism. The space of NGOs is also the product of this ‘verbal conflict’ where different interpretations and claims about the (true) agendas of the ‘own’ and the ‘other’ group are heavily debated.
These problems are particularly important in cases of democratic openings after long periods of violent conflict. this can be both the result of a lack of capacity or unwillingness of the state. such as a monetary fine or time in prison. More generally. this weak or corrupted state capacity enlarges the capacity of ‘uncivil’ groups in society and thus contributes (again) to a sphere of intimidation and insecurity. This enables the use of coercive mechanisms under state authority against individuals for the purpose of finding this person guilty of the specified conduct and imposing a sentence. Powerful groups with vested interests within and outside the state can block the rule of law or judicial reform and thus contribute to a sphere of vulnerability and impunity. such as the criminalization of sexual intercourse without consent as rape. injuries and killings on the other. this has consequences on actual protection of NGOs. Criminalization involves a range of coercive measures that can restrict individuals and organizations. travel restrictions. The cases discussed in this study indicate that sectors of the government themselves can be involved in these actions. in the field of labelling. gangs). (2) the political strategy of using technical criminalization to define political opponents and their actions or projects as criminal and applying the criminal law apparatus to enforce this definition. Firstly. costly lawyers. With regard to the first one. and time in prison. it oftentimes involves processes of labelling and stereotyping of certain groups that are thus depicted as particular threats.legislation. Transitional justice and truth commissions are often highly controversial and ‘well-connected’. paramilitary. When the state is weak (and in particular when the law enforcement sector is weak). or unpatriotic. while the line between the two can be blurred. which means the defining of conduct as criminal and the application of the criminal law apparatus in order to enforce that definition. powerful perpetrators can seek to obstruct these processes. While the latter is not (necessarily) illegal. we make a distinction between two forms of repression and intimidation: impunity and lack of protection on the one hand and threats. perpetrators run fewer risks to be arrested or prosecuted. criminalisation is the act of isolating a generally defined conduct and labelling this conduct as criminal which opens up the possibility of public (and sometimes private) prosecution. Secondly. However. such as the search of an office and the seizure of computers to pre-trial detention. The first one applies for instance to any of the provisions in the criminal law. terrorists. a government can actively give voice to groups and individuals by for example recognizes them in the constitution or by giving them respectable labels. where societies are still deeply divided. injuries and killings on the other. on the other hand it can discredit their positions and silence their voices by stigmatizing them as criminals. There obviously is a link between problems of impunity on the one hand and threats. this is frequently related to problems of state weakness. In this regard the connection between criminalisation and stigmatisation (that we will 11 . When a state is unable or unwilling to maintain the rule of law. ranging from criminal investigation. Similarly. We distinguish between two ways in which the concept of criminalization is used: (1) the technical act of criminalization. while in many cases they cooperate in different ways with non-state actors with particular interests (like corporations. to high bails. such as the criminalisation of being a member of the communist party as was the case in the Philippines until 1992. The second one applies to the systematic efforts of state agents or political actors to use the criminal law apparatus vis-à-vis particular groups that are seen as threats to order and security.
uk/2/hi/south_asia/8657805. Although criminalisation never is a ‘neutral’ process. On the other hand. 12 .] Third in our model of restrictive actions and policies come the administrative restrictions.discuss separately below) is of particular importance. at http://news. such as the well-known case of journalist Jeyaprakash Tissainayagam in Sri Lanka who was convicted to twenty years imprisonment for having written articles in support of the Tamil Tigers as well as collecting money for a pro-Tamil magazine. it is fair to say that CTMs generally are one of the possible measures in a wider ensemble of actions and policies and that there is not one trend of shrinking space due to shared influences of counter terrorism measures. The most important one in this regard is ‘bad’ NGO legislation.co. Our case studies provide evidence of the use of ‘regular’ criminal law provisions against NGOs. On 3rd of May 2010 he was given a presidential pardon. and punish specific acts of terrorism. The International Center for Not-forprofit Law (ICNL) in Washington has conducted research into the NGO legislation in 150 countries. What’s more. but we are particularly interested in these examples where powerful interest groups (within or outside the state) use the judicial apparatus to neutralize protestors or activists that are threatening their particular (private) interests. (2009) 12 See for instance the comparison made by Hudson of Human Rights First between criminalisation in Colombia and Guatemala.10 There are numerous examples of CTMs having affected the room of manoeuvre of social movements and NGOs. This is particularly the case with broad provisions for collaborating with. It produced a “checklist for civil society organisations (CSO) Laws” which describes 10 ‘Sri Lankan president pardons convicted Tamil editor’. but emphasise at the same time that it is extremely difficult to prove that there exist patterns of perverse criminalisation and to discern the (possible) interests and strategies behind these trends. detentions and criminal trials can have a stigmatizing effect.12 [Add: Methodology on problem of attribution.11 However. Without clarity about what exactly constitutes terrorism. this can and is also be done by applying ‘regular’ criminal law. investigate. a wide variety of conduct could possibly be placed under these derivative charges. The past decade the discussions about these ‘perverse’ forms of criminalisation have particularly been focused on the topic of the negative (intended and unintended) consequences of counter terrorism measures. Anecdotal evidence reports that particularly human rights activists may face these kinds of charges (see for example Cortright 2008 and ICCO/CORDAID 2008). This can also legitimise acts of criminalisation. In the absence of international consensus about one definition of terrorism. documents. although ‘bad CTMs’ can come in handy for governments that want to criminalise certain movements or to restrict the space of NGOs. glorifying or inciting terrorism as well as where merely material destruction can constitute a terrorist offence.bbc. since it always involves interpretations of threats. Counter-terrorism measures are laws and practices by governments and supranational institutions intended to prohibit. prevent. and the media is often preceding the actual criminalization. Stigmatisation of opponents in speeches.stm [accessed 1 June 2010] and Cordaid 2009 11 See for instance Kathrin Buhl y Claudia Korol eds. many countries have terrorism statutes that define acts of terrorism in broad terms and thus provide them with leeway to criminalise particular actors. that is legislation on NGOs and civil society that restricts fundamental rights. 3 May 2010.
we can call this “criminal” stigmatization (this can also be the case when no judicial action is undertaken). The problems of governments trying to increase their control over the NGO sector are mostly prominent in authoritarian countries. or that controlled their administration on a much more frequent basis than was considered usual. is rejected as a result of the attribute (such as the attributes criminal. in: Cordaid 2008:29). They discuss why and how several government rules and practices (such as delayed response to application for NGO status) violate these principles. 13 .” Whereas this checklist counts several pages. We talk about stigmatization in cases where groups are portrayed as untrustworthy. and how responsive governments are. For instance. Stigmatization is the process in which a stigma comes into existence. Again. When government agents or other actors use criminal labels to discredit certain activity or certain actors. In these cases. without giving major substance for these claims. the response capacity of NGOs sector and civil society organizations is a key factor. Thus. NGOs also were able to raise their concerns about a new NGO Bill. a key issue is whether local NGOs and civil society organizations can enter into negotiations with their governments to negotiate their operational space. But there also have been efforts to introduce restrictive NGO-bills in more open countries. in India the NGO-sector was able to stall new legislation on NGOs that was inspired by CTM policies (Chandra Pandey. it can be extremely difficult to discern the (possible) interests and strategies behind these practices and the objective of this study is therefore firstly to collect the evidence of these practices and possibly to analyse how these ad-hoc measures work.“provisions that should be included in legislation governing civil society organizations” and which “is useful for assessing whether CSO legislation currently on the books or in draft form meets generally accepted international practices.13 This was confirmed in our case studies. We encountered examples of government agencies and (local departments of) ministries that took relatively much time to approve the new statutes of some NGOs. Stigmatisation and negative labelling is the fourth element of our model. Apart from the topic of legislation. non-believer). The government however decided to ignore their protests and introduced the law in 2006. the Open Institute has published in cooperation with ICNL a 120-page book “Guidelines for Laws Affecting Civic Organizations. Stigmatization can be an extremely important strategy when a group or category is constantly depicted as 13 Interviews with ICCO staff in June – July 2009. In the case of Uganda. which is deeply discredited by his or her society. but can also be the product of the willingness and ability to use bureaucratic power to obstruct NGOs in their operations. restrictive administrative measures are not necessarily the product of ‘bad’ legislation.” The book outlines all the relevant treaty provisions and the relevant court cases interpreting these provisions in order to ensure that NGO legislation does not violate the right to association and other protections of fundamental freedoms. there are numerous examples of government agencies that use their power to control NGOs in an ad-hoc manner. A stigma is the phenomenon whereby an individual with an attribute. In this way civil society can use that as a norm to hold their government to when they try to introduce excessive controls on the NGO sector. or (stronger) as criminals or dangerous subjects. terrorist. and thus forming a threat to security or social order of society. Thus.
the labelling of certain groups as untrustworthy or dangerous is not the exclusive domain of government agents. In partial democracies many NGOs and GROs are in the process of adapting to and creation of a new political ‘playing ground’. The fifth element of our model is the category of existing spaces under pressure. It can. where for example an NGO is asked to write a draft law for the government. Alternatively the dialogue can take the form of collaboration. such as corporations. instead of opening up debate with society at large. or dangerous.untrustworthy. In fact. The latter is not uncommon to (all kinds of) democracies. see chapter 5). Apart from the problem of co-optation. NGOs report outright bribing as a practice in these spaces of dialogue. 14 Threats and co-optation are forms of ‘coercive’ and ‘reward’ power (Lawler 1983:89). In the absence of good laws and clear governmental protection of rights to counterbalance this asymmetry. party. This can for example be the case in negotiations between corporations and indigenous communities about land rights. Both are about the limits or reversal of interactions between state agencies and civil society. A specific characteristic of the negotiations in ‘unfinished’ democracies is that they are often highly asymmetrical. etcetera) can close or disappear. whereas co-optation aims to forestall opposition by giving rewards. obviously.society interaction that is seen as important to democratic politics. religious groups or media. the space of dialogue where the negotiation takes place can be full of unequal pressures for the NGO or (often) GRO or even entirely hijacked by the powerful party. These spaces can certainly have a role to both governments and participants when there is broad consensus about chosen 14 This was reported for example by an anti-corruption NGO in Indonesia after they accused someone of corruption (this was reported by ICCO-partner Gerak Aceh. or simply be disappointment participants. As to restrictions on each of these spaces of dialogue. As is for instance the case with the demonization of Western NGOs and liberal ideas. In extreme cases. or system of an opponent and in these processes offers of material gain for the ‘co-opted person or the group’ play an important role in these moves. However. where different actors with opposing interests aim to come to a deal. we make a distinction between co-optation on the one hand and closure of newly created spaces on the other. We use the term social stigmatization to point at the rejection of particular influences. where invited spaces created by governments can serve to sell or legitimize existing policies. be extremely difficult to see where cooperation ends. values or ideas that are seen as contrary to the dominant social norms and values. round tables. A specific characteristic of collaboration between civil society and government in partial democracies is the danger that NGOs take over what are essentially governmental tasks. newly created spaces where government agencies and civil society meet (such as social fora. Dialogue can take the form of a negotiation. while in that very process the limitations can be reached of the kind of state . Co-optation is an oftentimes deeply embedded practice that has strong links to clientalism. where the space of NGOs to interact with state agencies generally increases. 14 . at times alternated with threats and intimidation. and where the move of a person is a ‘cross-over’ that is rather a proof of the ability of people to switch roles (instead of political positions). other social actors can play important roles in these activities. seminars. In this practice persons or several persons are persuaded or lured to join the agency. where threats are based on the prospect of punishment.
since forms of interaction have to be developed and can be subject to change.policies or measures. and killings Preventive measures such as terrorism lists and terrorism task forces Impunity and lack of protection Restrictive NGObills on registration and operation Criminal stigmatization of specific actors Cooptation Investigation and prosecution for punitive purposes Closure of newly created space Social stigmatization of specific actors Ad-hoc measures by different government agencies Figure 2: Actions and policies that restrict operational space 15 . Such consultation can be perceived or used as ‘legitimising’ practice. There is also a ‘come and go’ of social and political spaces in partial democracies. This is particularly problematic where the law or donors require “consultation” of target groups. when no follow up is given. injuries. instead of an actual possibility to give voice or to exert influence. Actions and policies that restrict operational space 1 2 Criminalization: Prosecution and investigation 4 3 Administrative restrictions Stigmatisation and negative labelling 5 Space under pressure Physical harassment and intimidation Threats. but can be experienced as form of ‘fake space’. a lack of confidence. closure of space as a result of incompatibility of views. or as a result of a change of government. However. can be highly frustrating to parties involved. In itself this is not a negative feature.
there are many differences between these organizations. constituency. Both are of particular importance in order to understand the degree to which organizations experience restrictions. 2000: 66. This is a general and therefore rather vague concept.Organizations in Civil Society Defined by Characteristics (What They Are) and by Function (What They Do)15 In figure 3 we make a distinction in characteristics of ICCO partners between professional nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and grassroots NGOs. 16 . as many authors have argued. functions. The relationship with external agencies that provide knowledge. These organizations are largely funded by external donors. or organizations with a clearly defined constituency (e. Grassroots NGOs are membership organizations. Examples of NGOs are organizations lobbying for judicial or security sector reform. The partners of ICCO thus have in common that they are supported by external development agencies (or International NGOs). and geographical reach. For the purpose of this study we make a distinction between the characteristics and functions of partners of ICCO. We call these local counterparts non-governmental organizations (NGOs). as well as their capacities to respond. These organizations are often conveniently termed ‘non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs). political links. or farmers’ organization) that is generally active at the local level and that have established direct relationships with international development agencies. among others in terms of size. instead of what they are not…) is therefore needed. a women’s organization. and financial resources is of fundamental importance for the partners of ICCO in these countries and distinguishes them from those actors that don’t have such relationships. However. public policy think tank Anti-mining association. environmental group Grassroot NGOs Figure 3 . Professional NGOs are professionally run organizations with a specific expertise that aim to support particular target groups (either directly or indirectly).g. or providing technical support for farmer organizations. contacts. Local organizations that do not have 15 Adapted from Harry Blair.On the job trouble and responses of NGOs and GROs The focus of this study is primarily on counterparts of ICCO in the selected countries. and further clarification of the particular characteristics (what they are. international relief agency Water users’ association. Function Service delivery Characteristics Professional NGOs Policy oriented Family planning agency. and oftentimes also funded (either partly or entirely) by these agencies. forestry users’ group Human rights group.
for instance in anticorruption campaigns. Our research is therefore mainly concerned with professional NGOs and grassroots NGOs. this can for instance become an issue in more hybrid democracies where governments introduce strict versions of NGO-legislation. Thus. membership and foreign funding can be present in different combinations. because there are many mix-forms. the variables of expertise. Although these trends are generally more present in authoritarian regimes. It is more likely that these groups will experience tensions or confrontations with the actors they challenge. This also implies that within the category of partial democracies. Whereas in authoritarian regimes the very existence and ‘right to entry’ of this type of organisation can easily be blocked. Reactive Coping strategies to avoid the direct negative effects of the limiting measures as much as possible Incidental coordinated public declarations in response to significant events Proactive Systematically speaking out against the measures in an attempt to have them withdrawn or changed Forming (national or regional) working groups addressing measures before and while they are executed and systematically reach out to the national or international community to increase pressure 17 Individual Coordinated .these direct relationships are in our definition grassroots organizations (GROs). human rights abuses or security reform. while the great majority of NGOs and GROs is not affected by them. This distinction is not unproblematic. the distinction serves as a first effort to classify counterparts of ICCO. which can have consequences on the experienced space of organizations. This is not to say that organizations focusing on service delivery do not face problems. And while professional NGOs are not necessarily membership organizations and oftentimes aim to serve specific target groups in general (e. Over time GROs can professionalize. Thus. particular regions or sectors can be more affected than others. in these definitions counterparts of ICCO are always NGOs that can maintain contacts with GROs. which easily leads to struggles for power and resources and antagonistic relationships between groups. A second distinction that we make for both NGOs is whether they are service oriented or claim making / policy oriented. Obviously. Organizations that primarily work in the field of socioeconomic services focus on the delivery of services to target groups. or landless farmers). and establish direct relations with funders and in that process obtain characteristics of Grassroots NGOs. they can also be membership based (members can be individuals or grassroots organizations) or have a strong ‘local’ profile.g. Also. policies and actions of governments and state institutions can be experienced differently by NGOs and GROs in the same country. Particular organizations and persons can experience restrictions. but indirectly addresses the problems of GROs as well. homeless children. This is even more so when these NGOs challenge government policies or structures. Claim-making and policy oriented groups make claims vis-à-vis other actors. in partial democracies these organisations can also experience serious problems of state or non-state actors that infringe on the operational space of particular NGOs.
The UN Assembly adopted UN General Assembly adopted UN A/RES/53/144 with a view guarantee the rights of individuals and groups to defend human rights (social. These groups are today increasingly called human rights defenders. like the UN. but it is increasingly used by others in the field.Figure 4: Response strategies of NGOs/GROs to restrictive policies and actions With regard to the answers to experienced restrictions of NGOs/GROs we make a distinction between reactive and proactive answers that can both be implemented either at the individual or ‘organisational’ level. in particular used for groups that experience restrictions. the EU. and many international NGOs have shown an increased interest in the defense and protection of groups and individuals that wan to organize and operate freely. which includes a wide range of organizations. The term is. We do not ourselves employ the notion of HRD. or in a more coordinated fashion. economic and political). The last decade international organizations. however. The organizations that are subject of this study can all be seen as being part of a much broader and diverse group of human rights defenders (HRD). 18 . The EU writes that ‘all organisations that promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms (and that do not commit or propagate violence) are human rights defenders’.
1999). when the army (with support of the CIA) toppled the democratically elected and reform-oriented government of president Alvaro Arbenz. that had already started in the 1980s. Alliances between civilians and military became the modus operandi. Gavigan. The peace accords brought an end one of the longest and bloodiest armed conflicts in Latin America. 20) . culminated into the signing of an Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace (Azpuru. but is at the same time ‘under pressure’. Civil society organisations played an important role in the peace process. with the head of state being – with a single exception – a military officer (Kruijt. 1997). 1999: 97). Alta y Baja Verapaz. 1999:97. CEH. In principle. justice and security on the one hand. and even set up its own economic businesses (Pearce. that was known for its extremely high death toll and extreme human rights violations that particularly had affected the marginalized indigenous population (Azpura. a dynamic that gradually led to a hybrid civilian-military regime of violence and repression’ (ibid. The most vulnerable sectors that were discussed in this chapter are groups working with human rights. 2008:20). Thus. such as Quiché. political parties and social movements.Guatemala – Operational space under pressure Introduction After two decades of democratisation and almost fifteen years of post-settlement transition the operational space for civil society organisations in Guatemala has both increased. since the military had come to play an increasingly important role in political life in the 20 th century – in particular in the period after 1954. the military institutions acquired ‘disproportionate power in relation to the public sector.16 The accord had been brokered by the United Nations and was signed by a severely weakened guerrilla movement (UNRG) and the government of Guatemala. corruption. insecurity and high indices of violence have an extremely negative impact on the operational space of all NGOs and GROs and hamper their work. and groups that enter into conflicts about resources at local level on the other hand. Groups touching topics that are related to vested interests can experience severe problems on top of this. Chimaltenango. 1999:115. which included the introduction of electoral democracy. but impunity. 16 The report of the CEH registered 626 massacres – the majority in the departments that are populated by indigenous peoples. which had lasted almost six years. 2009: 65). The security situation of these groups has deteriorated over the past decade. but only partly affected the power of the military (Azpuru.2. The military also extended its powers into the administration of public enterprises. 2006: 16). The peace agreement – in particular the Acuerdo sobre Fortalicimiento del Poder Civico (AFPC) – aimed to put an end to the military influence over political life (Pearce. The process ran parallel to a fragile process of democratisation. 19 . Political context On 29 December 1996 the Guatemalan peace process. Conciliation Resources. many groups can operate relatively freely. This proved to be an extremely difficult process. 2006: 18.
both within and outside the realm of the state. 2009: 8). 2008b:10). This ‘accident of geography’ has led to extremely high levels of organised crime and crime-related violence (ibid). They were presumably killed by senior members of Guatemala’s police. 2009: 5). as well as the regular organisation of elections. This heritage of the (growing) economic interests of military during the civil war. The widespread insecurity and impunity – both signs of a weak state – has also led to waning confidence in the state and groups organising their own security among others by lynching. While the influence. This is related to the problematic implementation of the security and political reforms. criminal enterprises and security companies (Briscoe. Minister Eduardo Stein claimed that in six out of 22 departments ‘crime cartels had gained effective control’. A case in point is the murder in Guatemala of three Salvadoran members of the Central American parliament and their driver in 2007. However. 2007). both at national and local levels (ibid). 2009:70). Less then 3% of the murder cases is resolved (Human Rights Watch. some of these actors have gained influence over state agencies. There are long-existing rackets in state offices which are extremely difficult to clean up since it would ‘put a lot of people’s lives in danger’ (Briscoe. 2009: 72). 2009-183). The deep divisions between these powerful economic elites itself is one of the main problems for political reform in Guatemala (ibid. or parallel structures and political-criminal networks (Gavigan. including the head of the organised crime unit. it states that the judiciary is still plagued by corruption and is extremely ineffective. Historically. infiltration and pressure of criminal groups on the state and political parties is considerable. while the state itself is challenged by criminal interests. A key challenge in post-settlement Guatemala is the continuing socio-economic inequalities and the question of how to address these (UNDP 2008). lead to a further weakening of the state apparatus. According to Briscoe (2009:9) there is ‘an astonishing series of fractures within the elites’ in Guatemala. Although it argues that some progress has been made in terms of anti-corruption activities. Organised crime is also said to finance political campaigns and political parties. while in three others they had a share of power (Gavigan.The post-settlement transition in Guatemala is extremely problematic. In 2007. in 2006 50% of the population was still living in poverty (UNDP. The weakness of the state also explains why criminal networks are gaining effective control over the state.control the arms trade. has gained new momentum now that Guatemala has become the centre of a drugs trans-shipment belt from the Andes to North America (Gavigan. Wola. and although the percentage of Guatemalans that live in poverty has dropped in this period. the political establishment itself is extremely fragmented. Criminal networks. Economic growth rates have been rather low over the past decades (average of 1% per annum). powerful economic elites have blocked social and economic reform and sought to maintain the status quo. After their arrest these police officers were themselves killed inside a maximum security prison (Hudson & Taylor. While much of the violence and repression is orchestrated by actors that are outside of the realm of the state. These groups are variously called illicit power structures. 2010: 57. clandestine groups (Human Rights Watch 2009:184). Guatemalan society suffers of high levels of violence. The Freedom House Report of 2009 mentions corruption and impunity as important problems in Guatemala. 2009: 18). This opposition continued during the peace negations and in the post-settlement period. A major problem is the continuing influence and control of former military that – increasingly from ‘without’ the state . A case in 20 . which did lead to a downsizing of the army. 2009:62).
Pearce (2006: 18-9) describes how during the governance period of the FRG government –led by Portillo – this instability manifested itself. This led. This reversed. These coalitions are generally unstable and characterised by infighting. Sánchez (2008:123) claims that with respect to basic facets of internal party organisation Guatemalan political parties ‘exhibit a feebleness so pronounced that their very status as parties is questionable’. Civil society and NGOs In the 1960s and 1970s the number of social organisations increased both in urban and rural areas (Garcia. Initially. 2006:20). Although changes of government in Guatemala have taken place after elections in the past decades. when a change of military authorities took place that dissociated themselves from the outcomes of the earlier dialogues (ibid). by government forces that established a ‘machinery of control. and the counter-insurgency and repressive regime of the late 1970s and early 1980s has been reformed. An important part of this violence is related to criminal activities and drug trafficking.17 While the political space in Guatemala has increased over the past decades. the Committee for Peasant Unity (CUC). The repression of state agents of the war years has made place for a broader variety of repressive and restrictive policies and violent actions of both state and non-state actors. 2008). 1999: 254). In the countryside indigenous communities started to organise. 2009: 5). In this period. For instance. among others in the field of security. repression and murder’ (Kruijt. 2009: 7-8. It was. New spaces for participation emerged in the second half of the 1980s. the political space for progressive groups increased and a number of NGOs were created by former militants of the guerrilla organisations – such as CDHG18and CERIGUA19 (both created in 17 It is telling that the growing influence of these structures was according to Gavigan (2009:67) the result of Portillo’s efforts to counter the power of the traditional oligarcy. however. 18 Comision de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala 19 Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala 21 . the government was open to new dialogues with civil society. as well as to violence of youth gangs. in the period after the earthquake of 1976 there was a steady increase in the number of conservative US fundamentalist and Pentacostal sects that started to work in indigenous communities. This affects the human rights situation in Guatemala and has led to further escalation of repressive action against Human Rights Defenders in the past ten years. the presidential candidates were generally well-known persons around which a number of political factions coalesced (Briscoe. 2009: 67).200 homicides in 2008 (Freedom House. This period became the ‘watershed years for the emergence of illicit power structures’ (Gavigan. The fragmentation is also reflected in the landscape of political parties in Guatemala. 2010:3). 2008: 21). 2004: 131-2). with a marked influence of liberation theology (Biekart. to the formation of a national Indian peasant organisation. Guatemala is still one of the most violent countries in Latin America with over 6. among others.point is the opposition against tax reforms that would raise Guatemala’s tax-rate which is one lowest in Latin America (Briscoe. However. Paris. the popular organisations of civil society that were heavily repressed during the late 1970s and early 1980s. most notably after the Portillo government (Pearce. however.
Howell and Peace quote a director of a regional NGO that warned in 1995 that ‘financing must aim to strengthen civil society. In Guatemala NGOs like GAM. which weakened the strategic capacity of many NGOs. At the same time. but stimulated the involvement of women’s organisations and coalitions of Indian organisations. such as CONAVIGUA.000 GROs Falisse and SaenzCorella (2009:11) call Guatemalan civil society ‘vibrant and complex’. Biekart. According to Siedel (1997:68) this process showed that ‘non-indigenous intermediaries were no longer necessary’. however. not to alter the fundamental nature of its organizations. 1999: 169).also became interested in funding Guatemalan civil society. This concern was also expressed in several of the interviews conducted for this study. that had been involved in solidarity work and played an important role in supporting these organisations in their struggle for an ‘equitable peace’ (Howell and Pearce. COPMAGUA played a key role in the Assembly for Civil Society and contributed to the Indigenous Rights Accord. In the second half of the 1980s new indigenous organisations were founded. converting them into appendices of the state or into private initiatives dominated by the market’ (2001: 163). CONAVIGUA and FAMDEGUA were founded (ibid). 2001: 148-9). The authors mention a number of problems.20 Apart from these organisations. Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala (CONAVIGUA). but Howell and Pearce (2001) argue that they shared an agenda of ‘institutional strengthening’ that was informed by a particular vision on civil society. With an estimated number of 2. 1997: 68.500 NGOs and some 23. However. This donor support – although not only negative in the view of Howell and Pearce – shifted attention away from important questions about the strategy to follow in the post-settlement years. Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos de Guatemala(FAMDEGUA) 21 Council of Mayan Organisations of Guatemala 22 . as well as the values they promote. After the peace agreements. An important one is the disappointment about the results of the new spaces of dialogue with government 20 Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM). most of these newly established organisations that played a role in the ASC had relations with external donors. CERJ and CONDEG (Biekart. there was also an increase in the number of independent Mayan organisations. It shows that the relationship of external donors with NGOs and GROs not only influences the way NGOs and GROs function internally. 1999:257-8). they argue that civil society is fragile in terms of their capacity to influence policy. or ‘radical-cultural’ groups (Peace & Howell. In the period until the signing of the peace agreements. They emphasised consensual approaches to civil society and ignored the importance of underlying conflicts and power inequalities (p. 2010:4).148). but also the ways in which they make use of new political space. 1997: 67-8). 2001: 152).Mexico) (Garcia. the relations were mostly with international NGOs. Of particular importance to civil society was the installation of a special Assembly for Civil Society (ASC) in 1994 which was chaired by Bishop Quezada (Biekart. 1999: 256).that in the post-war years increased their budgets for Guatemala . This assembly was boycotted by the business sector. Together with other organisations they formed the Mesa Maya in 1992 and the Coalition of Organisations of the Maya People of Guatemala (COPMAGUA) in 1994 (Siedel. bilateral and multilateral donors . These international agencies sought to support civil society in different ways. In the early 1990s two coalitions of Indian organisations were set up: Majawil Q’il (or New Dawn in 1990) and COMG21 in 1991 (Sieder.
but it seems that after the successful mobilisation of the indigenous movement in the 1990s. The above-mentioned sector of NGOs is thus a particular branch of the Guatemalan NGO-sector. 2009:12-3. and a lack of cooperation between NGOs. The indigenous movements have grown over the past decades. 2009:11). not a cohesive group that agree on objectives and strategies. NGOs that are working in the field of human rights. security sector reform and justice are generally seen as rather successful and proactive (Garcia. This phenomenon is not unique to Guatemala.22 Civil society is broad and diverse and it is fair to say that a number of sectors of civil society – such as the syndicates and peasant movements – are rather weak. the transformation of popular movements into NGOs (‘ngo-ization’). but an often heard critique about the consequences of some providers of foreign assistances that foster ‘opportunistic NGOs’. During the peace negotiations this was already an issue for some Indian organisations that feared to be dominated by ‘ladino’ organisations (Biekart. a key issue for indigenous communities – has ceased. 2009:11). including the persecution and criminalisation of indigenous leaders (see the case of San Marcos elsewhere in this text). 36-7. and policy debates. which are also reflected in the NGO-sector. Falisse and Saenz-Corella. while other sectors have shown a remarkable strength and resilience. 22 According to Civicus (2005:7) the temporary character of civil society organizations (like NGOs) is one of the characteristics of the structure of Guatemalan civil society: ‘Many organizations appear only temporarily. This is not to say that their self organisation and struggles – such as the struggle for land. however. the movement has lost some cohesion and force. 1999:256). and then disappear. NGOs working in these fields are. absorb funds and resources. it seems that the amount of foreign assistance available for NGOs has past its peak and organisations will need to find alternative resources or otherwise simply disappear. With the new ascendancy of companies exploiting resources (like mining companies. it is fair to say that not all NGOs necessarily need to be membership-based or to have a clearly defined constituency. and insecurity and threats (Falisse & Saenz-Corella. Other problems are leadership problems. Civicus). But tensions are also reported between urban-based NGOs and local GROs (Falisse & Saenz-Coreralla. Land issues have become more important and the struggle for indigenous rights is in many places linked to a struggle for territory. Although. 23 .agencies that were created over the past decades (see also the next section). their representation of non-ladino groups is not very strong. 2010:5. Also. while others have become actively involved in processes of formulation and implementation of government policies. and there are serious discussions about for instance how far one should go in the relations with the government (see next paragraph of this chapter). It is mostly urban-based. cross-over of NGO staff to government agencies. this issue of representation of NGOs is important and linked to the historical ethnical divisions in Guatemalan society. and while some organisations have a (historical) constituency. lobby. hydroelectric firms. dependency of external donors (both in terms of recourses and ideas). palm oil plantations) this has led in a number of regions to severe polarisation and escalation. Most of these organisations have long-standing relationships with international NGOs and many of them have participated in dialogues with government agencies. These organisations are involved in activities like research.
*. journalists (43 cases) and persons working in the field of truth finding (96 cases) (ibid. but it is important to reiterate that in many cases there are links between different kinds of restrictions. 7-10). criminal and political interests which can include the involvement of local police. with a marked 38% rise in 2009 in comparison to 2008 (Udefegua. lynching. mining and labor rights. 16).Restrictive policies and actions This section discusses the five types of restrictive policies and actions that were identified in chapter 1. and violence against prisoners (ibid. In the following discussion we focus on two sectors that are most affected.. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial. still poorly understood. A separate discussion of each field can show the relative importance of each in the case of Guatemala.292. the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders reported her deep concern about ‘the deterioration in the environment in which human rights defenders operate. 8). El Quetzal 4. Repression and intimidation In the year 2008. Information collected by the NGO Unidad de Proteccion a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos – Guatemala (Udefegua) shows a rise of the reported violations over the past 10 years from 59 in 2000 till 353 in 2009. characterised by endemic impunity for crimes and violations committed against them’ (UN. summary or arbitrary executions. and killed by strangulation. 14). p. and the justice system fails to adequately investigate and prosecute these cases (ibid. Although state actors (such as – former – police or military) are involved in repression and intimidation. 2009a:2). Restrictions of groups working in the field of human rights. 23 Guatemala is number one in cases of femicide. There are estimates that between 8 and 10 percent of the killings are the result of social cleansing (of criminals and gang members). The Rapporteur states that there is evidence that the national police (PNC) and de Division of Criminal Investigations (DINC) are involved in these killings. and that although this has not reached the level of ‘officially-sanctioned policy. September 2009. 24 . Over 10 percent of the homicides are women. 2009b:6). government representatives (e.+ they are ‘more than just the actions of a few rogue officers’ (ibid. mayors) as well as local villagers. these restrictions cannot simply be attributed to the state. Sectors that were particularly vulnerable in 2009 are trade union members (84 cases). In 2009. different combinations of actors are responsible for the repression and intimidation experienced by organisations working in different sectors. the number of homicides in Guatemala reached a startling 6.g. Philip Alston indicated five types of particularly problematic types of killings: social cleansing. attacks on human rights defenders. the groups working in the ‘urban’ based human rights and justice sector and groups working at the local-level with issues like land. Moreover. however. the majority of them killed in the age between 16 and 30. 2010: 7.23 This phenomenon is.5. justice and truth can mainly be attributed to groups with relations to the (former) military. 7). There is a worrisome trend in Guatemala of increasing violations of members of NGOs and GROs. which equals an average of 17 killings per day (UN. Restrictions experienced by groups involved in local struggles about the control and use of resources is related to specific local combinations of local business. Both will be discussed below. femicide.
26 See Resolución de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos de 16 de Noviembre 2009. 25 This lawyer left a videotaped message saying among others: ‘My name is Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano. like local conflicts about land and palm oil plantations in El Petén. This protection is the result of a resolution of the Inter-American Court for human Rights in 2002.26 It is interesting to note that the Guatemalan government representatives themselves argued that this prolongation was still necessary. 2010:24-40). security and truth reported restrictions as a result of intimidation and repression. online available at http://www. It was reason for Cedepca to take a lower profile in public events such as demonstrations (in which they don’t use banners of the organisation anymore) and to build a fence in front of the office..27 Finally. that were intimidated during certain periods. 2010. In a recent analysis of the situation of human rights defenders in Guatemala. and/or periods of polarisation at a national level. interception of telephones. 25 . these practices were linked to the fact that (a member of) an organisation spoke out on a particular issue. See Murder-Case Finding Shocks Guatemala. CIIDH. 16 March 2010. January 14. and conflicts around mining companies in Izabal (ibid.24 All have experiences of (periods of) anonymous telephone calls. Mayra Alarcon. This was part of wave of intimidation against woman’s organisations in that period. The premises of the evangelical centre for pastoral studies in Central America (Cedepca) – an ICCO partner – were ransacked twice in 2001 (taking away computers and information) when the organisation was involved in the public activities against violence against women.corteidh. There are also other urban NGOs. The New York Times. justice. Medidas Provisionales respeto de Guatemala. Cedepca chose for an unarmed guard – which is quite unusual in Guatemala. 2010.pdf 27 Authors interview. e-mails. 28 Kerk in Actie (member of ICCO Alliance) financed these measures.or. and ICCPG. which makes SEDEM one of the most affected organisations countrywide (Udefegua. 2010: 16). Unfortunately if you are seeing this message it’s because I was killed by President Álvaro Colom. in The Wall Street Journal. which was recently prolonged. Caso Mack Chang y otros.cr/docs/medidas/mackchang_se_06. CIIDH. In many cases. and shadowing by armoured cars of offices and houses of staff. For instance.28 The repression and intimidation experienced by grassroots organisations in the countryside has different characteristics.’ This led to demonstrations both in favor and against left-centre president Colom. It also explores a number of cases that are considered paradigmatic. The UN-backed CICIG mission in Guatemala investigated the case and concluded that Colom was not involved. Fundación Myrna Mack. Other examples are given in the publications of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission (USA) in its quarterly publication El 24 ICCO has historical relations with several NGOs working in this sphere: SEDEM.All partners of ICCO working in the field of human rights. January 13.25 The past seven years Fundación Myrna Mack has had police protection in its office as a result of threats against its director Helen Mack Chang. Fundacion Myrna Mack. ICCO’s counterpart ICCPG experienced problems in 2006-2007 when they campaigned against the death penalty. Udefegua (2010:24) reports an increase in the number of violations of human rights defenders at local level. a period of rapidly increasing political tensions in Guatemala after the death of Rosenberg. thus clearing his name and easing the political crisis. It is not only human rights NGOs that experience these kinds of restrictions. Udefegua reported 21 violations of SEDEM over the year 2009. another partner of ICCO reported increasing control and vigilance in May 2009. SEDEM is ICCO’s counterpart that has experienced numerous problems. and Report on Lawyer’s Death Eases a Political Crisis in Guatemala.
30 Counterparts of ICCO in Central America are obviously also confronted with these problems.-a0223389766 32 A state of emergency was also declared in the case of the protests against the cement mine in San Juan Zacatepéquez.be/index. Among these victims was Mons. The leader of this movement was attacked in the town hall by three local women. torture and forced exile of villagers attempting to exhume the remains of their fathers who had been murdered in the 1980s.1-2) and on the murder of a community leader in El Estor. online available at http://www. 2010:38). water) by large land estates or international corporations cause local tensions. In a number of cases repression has led to murders by gunmen.3). focused the headlights on her and shot six bullets into the air. 2010: 29-53).32 Popular protests and the right to bear firearms were temporarily suspended. local people also become involved in these conflicts that can turn violent. One of them is the Movimiento de Trabajadores/as Campesinos/as San Marcos (MTC). drug traffickers. Bishop of San Marcos’ (Fian et al. 30 See El Quetzal. FIAN reports that ‘human rights defenders.1-2) and the detention.org/ See among others the following Issues of El Quetzal: Issue 5 on the activism against a cement min in San Juan Sacatepéquez (p. Rising Discontent Against Energy Company Union Fenosa. Most of the cases discussed have in common that the use of resources (land.ghrc-usa. and the area was under control of the armed forces. However. or employ gunmen. Quiché |(p. or international corporations with some support of local government agencies. #4. They use violent means. Latin America Database.Quetzal. raw materials. pp. private security services. onilne available at http://www.php?id=348&tx_uwnews_pi2%5Bart_id%5D=28289&cHash=6e4d7d8ae7 And Louisa Reynolds. a curfew was imposed on the population. to safeguard access to resources and to prevent individuals and organisations to mobilise and make claims. Members of MTC have been involved in protests against the Marlin Mine and experienced various kinds of restrictions (see next section).com/GUATEMALA:+RISING+DISCONTENT+AGAINST+ENERGY+COMPANY+UNION+FENO SA. attacked. David en Goliath in Guatemala.thefreelibrary. 28 april 2010 (MO).mo. an emergency measure to restore law and order. After this attack she was intimidated by the very mayor who stopped his car in the street. 1-2. MO* Magazine. members of the communities. Izabal (p. Repression and intimidation are used by a variety of actors.29 In a report of a recent fact-finding mission to Guatemala the details are given of twelve cases of local conflict about the use of resources (Fian et al. To date. September 2009. Guatemala. persons attached to the church and researchers who oppose the Marlin project have been repeatedly threatened. or even police and military. 31 See Bart van Bael. Issue 4 on the attack on a women’s leader in Nebaj. According to the leader of the women’s network this was part of the actions of the local mayor who tries to destroy the network. Rural Women’s Network Leader Attacked and Robbed.31 The tensions have increased and in December 2009 the government of Guatemala declared the ‘state of exception’. A case in point is the attack on the leader of a Rural Women’s Network (RMI) in Nebaj. harassed and intimidated. oftentimes combinations of nonstate actors – such as criminals. in June 2008 and lasted two weeks (El Quetzal #5:2) 26 . a movement in the department of San Marcos that protests against the deficient distribution and high prices of electricity company Union Fenosa. 29 See http://www. Some members of MTC are also involved in the Frente de Resistencia en Defensa de Recursos Naturales y Derechos de los Pueblos (FRENA). Alvaro Ramazzini. Staat van beleg beschermt Spaanse elektriciteitsleverancier.
org 27 . president Colom declared a two-week State of Emergency. local projects and the cooptation of local leaders and residents to gain (sufficient) acceptance. Eventually. but rather to the contrary. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala received reports of ‘*. there are indications that the criminalization of members of GROs and social movements that struggle against is on the rise (Fian et al. Needless to say that protestors sometimes do break the law and might even use violence themselves. using communication strategies (of information and/or misinformation). 36 Authors interview with Juan José Monterosso.-. environmental. and other professionals.33 This has.34 Criminalisation There are many cases of criminalization in Guatemala. For instance. two lawyers from the Association of Mayan Lawyers that provide legal support to anti-mine protestors were accused of being the masterminds of the murder of a mining worker.pidhdd. advisor of MTC. in San Juan Sacatepéque a community leader said it had 32 accusations against him. These charges also severely restrict the possibilities to operate freely and have forced the accused persons to go into hiding. Although data about these cases are not systematized. The New York based NGO Human Rights First (HRF) reported the LGBT activist Jorge Lopez (director of OASIS) had been charged with involvement in the assault of a sex worker. the charges against Lopez were dismissed. in El Quetzal # 5. however. Crisanta.500. 2010:8). ICCO’s partner MTC is also confronted with these kinds of criminal proceedings. Quetzaltenango. however. Mining companies become deeply involved in these local level disputes and struggle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of local people. 2010. Furthermore. social and cultural rights’ (UN. When police came to arrest her. including of terrorism.1-2. For instance..San Marcos remains under the state of emergency. not led to deescalation of the conflict. During that period 43 community members were reportedly arrested for six weeks and released for a fine of $ 14. pp. community members prevented this from happening.+ the arbitrary use of criminal proceedings against defenders upholding collective. online available at http://www. 37 See www.humanrightsfirst. in June 2009 residents from the villages near the Marlin Mine burned won Goldcorp’s machinery. See declaration of FRENA.35 This case shows that conflicts about mining can lead to high levels of local polarization and escalation and create deep fissures in communities.37 Another case of criminalization was the charge against Raul Figueroa – an editor of human rights publications 33 34 See Louisa Reynolds. 18 March 2010.org/content/view/1549/86/ 35 See Community Organizers in San Juan. Sacatepéquez Accused of Terrorism for Activism Against Cement Mine. is the high number of criminal proceedings against protestors in a context where the state is not able or willing to stop corruption and violence of criminal gangs. Rising Discontent. What is striking. This was seen as an attempt to discourage López’s human rights advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community. 2010:54). economic. a local leader against the Marlin Mine Crisanta was charged and went into hiding. On 13 January 2010 3 leaders were killed when travel from Guatemala City to San Marcos. in particular of individuals involved in conflicts around resources.36 Apart from these cases there are also cases of criminalization of NGO-staff. After the murder of a local resident that was in favor of the mine.
Ceadel. but severely limited in practice (Falisse and Sanz Corella. Ceadel argued that the local branche of the Ministry of Labor was biased in conflicts between workers (supported by Ceadel) and these corporations. All in all. These include report of the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH). The constitution of 1985 that recognizes basic citizen rights is called a breach with an (authoritarian) past.’38 After lodging an appeal to this decision. mentioned administrative problems that were not necessarily related to the NGO-law. experience different types of administrative measures or forms of bureaucratic 38 WOLA Press Release. the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala.39 Administrative measures Falisse and Sanz-Corella (2010: 10) note that the general institutional and judicial context regulating the participation of civil society organizations can be characterized as rather developed and even progressive. As WOLA explained in a press release: ‘Figueroa’s press. in February 2010 Raul Figueroa was cleared of these charges. Several organisations reported problems with different government bureaucracies that were perceived as purposive obstructions. Although these reforms have led to tangible changes for civil society organizations. and the Association for the Study and Promotion of Security in Democracy (SEDEM). CIVICUS described this context as theoretically favorable.wola. because of the dual registration (at municipal level and with the Ministry of Finance). an NGO based in Chimaltenango and working on labour rights mentioned that it was visited at least once a month by the local branch of the Ministry of Labour that controlled their financial accountancy. we would thus suggest that Guatemalan NGO legislation does not lead to major problems among the NGOs that we included in our survey. an NGO based in Guatemala City reported problems to have changes in the board registered. which created problems to withdraw money from the bank account (for which approval of the board is necessary).who was charged . Moreover. however. For instance.for alleged copyright infringement and sentenced to one year in prison.php?option=com_content&task=viewp&id=976&Itemid=8 39 See blog of Raul Figueroa at http://raulfigueroasarti. while Ceadel complained that the same ministry failed to control the corporations working in the Chimaltenango area. Falisse and Sanz-Corealla mention that the NGO-law that was adopted in 2003 has several flaws. The organizations included in this study. and in the present day. F & G Editores.com/ 28 . This charge had political undertones. as well as a number of books on human rights abuses during the civil war. the process of decentralization and the creation of new spaces of dialogue between state and civil society. the National Union of Guatemalan Women. 2010:10).org/index. In the post-settlement years several political reforms have taken place that affect the space of civil society organizations. SEDEM. favouring the latter. is the leading publisher of books that spark political and social debate in Central America. such as the modernization of the political system. online available on http://www. The ones that do experience problems.blogspot. These include works by the Myrna Mack Foundation.
2005. Existing spaces under pressure Over the past decades there has been a growing interaction between representatives of civil society and government agencies.org/paper/ramazzi. Although in general this has contributed to a capacity to dialogue. ‘Bishop Ramazzini in Danger: Assassination Plot in Guatemala’ online available at http://www. For instance. Stigmatization The problem of stigmatization is mentioned by many interviewees for this study. but related to other forms of restrictions. Another case is the accusation of by President Óscar Berger in 2005 that Bishop Ramazzini of San Marcos was indirectly responsible for the violence taking place in January of that year. and after the peace agreement the ‘spaces’ of dialogue between government and civil society have multiplied (Calvaruso et al. These practices received an impulse during the peace negotiations. there is also critique on at least a number of these practices. but when this critique is linked to suggesting that the organisation is working closely with Hugo Chavez. Most cases of stigmatization were not isolated acts.40 When at a later stage an assassination plot against the Bishop was discovered. in which at least one peasant was shot to death while protesting the passage of mining equipment through Sololá towards San Marcos. policies. Many representatives of NGOs that were interviewed for this study (working in such diverse fields as human rights. and agriculture) mentioned their involvement in one or more dialogues or forums that discussed problems. A similar example is the case of the human rights NGO ICCPG that defends the rights of prisoners and is accused of ‘defending criminals’.cjd. one can argue that an organisation is in fact being stigmatized. It is difficult to draw the line between stigmatisation and critique. among others in the media (for instance in newspaper columns) but also in the public sphere (both national and local level). 2007.problems that can best be understood in the particular local context of these organisations and in which particular government agencies and/or officials use or abuse their bureaucratic power. these accusations are often experienced as extremely stressful. Berger stated that the bishop as an "authentic leader" should have been able to calm the protesting peasants. while on the other hand he experienced a lack of political will to implement the plans that were discussed. These discussions and accusations can become part of broader processes of polarisation and escalation. or bills. It is extremely complex to prove these types of relationships between accusations and repressive measures. healthcare. He related this to the weakness of the state: ‘There is 40 Example taken from Houston Catholic Worker.html 29 . in FS37). For the staff of local organisations that is accused. In general. One director of a network of NGOs that participated in a series of dialogues and forums about agrarian issues argued that on the one hand he found these meetings very useful and important. it was suggested that Berger’s accusation had played a role in this process. discuss policy options and to (try to) build consensus. SEDEM was criticised for exaggerating the number of human rights. which may be a point for discussion. politically motivated repressive acts do take place in a context where different actors debate with each other about the causes and dynamics of existing social tensions and about who is responsible for these tensions.
not only the problem of corruption. we noted a certain degree of fatigue with regard to contacts in general with different government agencies. The negotiations with the ‘real powers’ never takes place. Thus. It has no means to comply its functions. The former positioned itself less politically and was therefore better placed to talk more directly to the military. A closer working relation of some NGOs with government agencies was seen as a weakness by others as it was seen as weakening their ‘autonomy and willingness to speak out’ (ibid. but the state has also sold most of its assets. 16 March 2010. But the frustrating thing is that we are reaching consensus about things that cannot be implemented. was asked the head the Presidential Commission for Police Reform. 19 March 2010. Here. Pearce (2006: 39) gives a related example of two organisations producing work on the military budget. Guatemala City. reached a similar conclusion: ‘We have learned a lot from these dialogues. one organisation being more academic and wishing to impact on state policies. these organisations are criticised by others for ‘still living in the past’ and even of cultivating the image of ‘being persecuted and attacked’. as well as the weakness of the state and the existence of perverse networks of power can lead to a continued lack of trust and confidence in the possibilities to cooperate with the state. Mayra Alarcon.’41 Another staff member of an NGO who had participated in numerous dialogues in various sector over the past ten years. Guatemala City. 43 Authors interview. MTC. Where more confrontational organisations emphasise the distance to the government. As a result many representatives of NGOs told they had become more selective about the kinds of initiatives in which they participated. decided not to participate in the national level agrarian platform. Helen Mack Chang. the negative experiences with the state from the past and the present. The situation at local level is much more complex. and the other aiming to mobilise a social and political constituency. which is also a sign of the contradictions within this sector. and a greater propensity to think strategically about opportunities in existing spaces. According to a facilitator of the movement this was 41 42 Authors interview. 17 March 2010. There is also ample discussion between NGOs about what kind of relationship to build with government agencies. Authors interview. It is fair to say that NGOs working on issues of security and justice have become more proactive in using their space and where possible creating spaces. Guatemala City. a counterpart of ICCO. Pearce (2006: 37-8) gives examples of diverging ideas of organisations working in the field of security and justice. Thus. 38). a forum where representatives from civil society and several government agencies meet in order to discuss cases of human rights violations (see for more details the section on Responses). like the total financial independence of Mack.’42 Another frustration about these dialogues that was frequently reported was the lack of continuity as a result of turnover of ministers or staff. 30 . This may actually be a sign of a more mature use of the spaces available. the director of the Fundación Myrna Mack. there are clearly different views about the nature and form of the political space that is created.43 Another example of an innovative space that was created by NGOs is the Instancia. This was accepted after internal discussions and a number of conditions were formulated. Fundacion Myrna Mack.
ASECSA. Therefore they emphasized the need to prepare themselves for this. A number of obstacles that contribute to impunity are mentioned. are confronted with serious limitations in their efforts to know the truth and to claim their rights of justice and reparation. is a dramatic example of 44 Authors interview with Juan José Monterosso. among others the limited availability of resources. security and justice A distinction can be made between the need to address the human rights violations that took place during the years of civil war and the need to address the contemporary problems and deficient reforms in the fields of justice and security in the period after 1996. noted that this might create more problems for the organization. Truth. This implies that civil groups. on the 26 of April. but nevertheless a missed opportunity: ‘MTC should really grasp these opportunities. an ICCO partner working in the field of healthcare. Furthermore. We first discuss the two sectors that we focused on in the previous sections. With regard to the crimes committed during the war years. we discuss the problems of NGOS and GROs that can be attributed to the generalized sphere of impunity and insecurity. while interest groups that feel betrayed will more likely enter into confrontation. Apart from this adverse opportunity structure. In this regard the style and image of organisations (more or less willing to cooperate with government agencies. Facilitator of MTC. while the state ‘has yet to fully adopt the appropriate measures so that crimes can be judged. and a number of NGOs are dealing with both sets of problems. Impunity Watch concluded that the magnitude of the human rights violations of these years is only partially acknowledged by the state. Quetzaltenango. Although both types of problems are related to the same problems of impunity. both at local and at national level. groups working in this field run the risk of being harassed.’44 The way that organisations deal with government agencies is also linked to their mission and historical relations to the state.understandable. 1998. mining and labor rights. On the job trouble This section discusses the ways restrictive actions and policies were experienced by different organisations. the restrictions that are experienced are somewhat different. More technical organisations may be more open to dialogue. persecuted or killed (2008: 40). misuse of the law and non-compliance and the lack of political will to combat impunity (ibid. that plans to do more lobby work in the future. such as victim’s organizations. The murder of Bishop Geraldi. Truth finding and justice are extremely sensitive in Guatemala. human rights. 31 . 37-40). It is interesting to note that many interviewees emphasised that some degree of moderation was necessary in the forums in which they participated. and that criticising the government was still seen as ‘risky’. more or less confrontational) also has an impact on the sort of relationship that is establishes. the ‘urban’ based human rights and justice sector and groups working at the local-level with issues like land. two days after the publication of REMHI's report. compensated and prevented from occurring’ (2008:37). 18 March 2010.
New York. The Myrna Mack Foundation gave an example of a man who joined a group of families of victims. he didn’t mention the reasons for his absence. The threats and intimidation have consequences on the well-being of staff. She remembers this period as a very difficult one for the organisations. Tortured.edu/interviews/a-discussion-with-alvaro-ramazzini-bishop-of-sanmarcos 32 . Bishop of San Marcos. Antigua Guatemala. whipped them and doused them with gasoline. which also means additional costs for the organisation. SEDEM has taken several measures to deal with possible threats. 2009. These threats come together with stigmatization in press (for instance columns) and administrative problems (the delays to formalize a change of the organisational structure of the organisation). January 30. and Forced Into Exile by their Fathers’ Assassins. the more troubles these organisations experience with NGOs like Udefegua and SEDEM (an ICCO partner) being targeted most severely. In a recent lecture Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini called San Marcos ‘the mirror of Guatemala’s situation’. 47 A Discussion with Alvaro Ramazzini. justice and impunity still receives threats and intimidations on a regular basis.46 It can still be very sensitive for people to openly talk about these issues. as well as in the highlands. they held them by force. The director of ICCPG told that in the period that staff of the organisation received threats. However. 46 See ‘Detained. local NGOs and GROs that are involved in conflicts around the use of resources such as land and water. This movement was founded in 1997 to support the implementation of the peace agreements and has a presence in several parts of the department: on the land estates in the lower parts of the department. or was in denial. staff was not prepared and either reacted panicking. In order to attend the meetings he regularly had to take a day off from his work. The more these organisations address sensitive issues or speak out against particular groups. 2007. It reports of a case in the department of El Quiche where villagers were digging in a mass grave of their fathers who had been killed during the armed conflict. and the absence of any land reform in Guatemala’s past is dearly felt. in El Quetzal 4.45 An example of the problems that truth finding generates at local level is given by the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission. pp. In the previous chapter the case of ICCO partner MTC in San Marcos was already mentioned. The Art of Political Murder. These risks also cause psychological problems of staff that have to be dealt with in a professional way. such as evacuation plans – that include safe transport home for all staff in periods when the organisation runs particular risks. 4-5. forcing the villagers in exile. online available at http://berkleycenter. When the former leaders of the paramilitary Civil Patrol (PAC) that were active during the war years noticed this. Who Killed the Bishop?. As already mentioned in the previous section. where members of this movement are struggling against the Marlin mine.47 Thus. as well as the fulfilment of labor rights are generally more complex. San Marcos has large plantations devoted to the 45 The Recovery of Historical Memory Project (REHMI) was initiated by the Catholic Church in Guatemala and interviewed hundreds of people to create a history of the war based on their testimonies. San Marcos reflects Guatemala’s extremely skewed land tenure. while the restrictions is of individuals and organisations are less visible. urban based NGOs that address issues of security. Grove Press.georgetown. and his employer fired him for being absent too frequently.this. About the murder of Geraldi see Francisco Goldman. Resource conflicts In comparison to the problems experienced by urban-based NGOs.
50 Cristanta received many threats. adolescent labor. The community itself is divided about the mine. 2009:16-7). 33 . . youth. CEADEL has similar experiences in the region of Chimaltengo.49 At the same time. and women workers.pdf 51 This summary of CEADELs work is from the website of the Internatinol Labor Rights Forum. The law on mining in Guatemala is flawed and exempts companies from taxes during the first seven years of operation. power and protection (following Keen. In most cases. 2006. Obligations to consult the local population and to take in environmental risks have insufficiently been taken into account For more information on theMarlin Min. repression and intimidation. which led to her going into hiding with the help of the Catholic Church. and that the explosions of the mine damage their houses. and its activities are heavily opposed by local movements.org/espanol/files/Informe_Casas_Rajadas. MTC is also working with labourers of large land estates in the coastal zones of San Marcos. which proves to be extremely problematic. alternative systems of profit.cultivation of coffee. while the state is weak and the rule of law are almost absent. with a mandate to improve working and living conditions for marginalized groups such as children.51 Advocating labor rights is extremely sensitive. where different powerful groups (such as narcos and criminal gangs.In 2006 Goldcorp acquired the Marlin Mine that is exploited by Empresa Montana Exploradora. adolescents. arguing that the mine harms the environment. but rather as the emergence of other. is a case in point.48 There are also problems around extractive industries. which has been partly the result of pay offs of the mine. And interview with Juan José Monterosso. In the case of Crisanta it were her direct neighbours that were allegedly paid off by the company that become her greatest enemy (Rodriguez. online available at http://www.laborrights. conflicts against mining companies or hydro electric dams generate intense local level conflicts. while in parts of the region poppy is cultivated. as well as corporations and ‘finqueros’) pursue their own interests in different parts of the department. criminalisation. The problems experienced by MTC are in the first place the consequence of these structural problems and the resistance and action of different local groups (such as land labourers or protestors against mines) against these vested interests have led to the whole range of restrictive policies and actions that we discussed in the previous paragraph. and stigmatisation go hand in hand. 2008: 15). She protested against the activities of the Marlin Mine. online available at http://resistenciamineria. Here local conflicts should not just be seen as just a breakdown in a particular system. In many cases these conflicts lead to divisions at local level between different (groups in) communities. Over the years. See o PeaceBrigades Internatioal. 50 See about the damage done to houses a study commissioned by the Diocese of San Marcos together with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.org/rights-for-working-women/partner-spotlight/ceadel-in-guatemala. For instance. On many occasions workers are not paid the minimum wage of 52 quetzals. MTC operates in an extremely complex setting. The experience of Gregoria Crisanta Perez. CEADEL was founded in April 1999 in Chimaltenango. and women workers in the formal sector – both in non traditional agricultural sectors and in the maquilas. uses all the water. CEADEL has developed a special focus on child labor. a local leader from a hamlet in San Marcos that is very close to the Marlin Mine. The organization also works with youth and addresses problems of youth gangs. San Marcos is heavily affected by drug trafficking. since 48 49 Ibid. palm oil and bananas in the coastal areas that make use of temporary labor force coming from the highlands.
. interesting to note that although there are also instances of stigmatization and insults to CEADEL. the use of child labor in the area was mentioned in the New York Times. There are many examples of the first case of material or financial loss. many people have warned staff of CEADEL that their work is dangerous. but at least they will invest in fences. Chimaltenango. there are many cases of corporations that don’t pay the levies for social security and the Ministry of Labor is not putting any pressure on corporations. a partner of ICCO that provides technical. (i) Material and financial losses. CEADEL also reports a deficient government control of the corporations in the region. CEADEL has established relations with international companies that use factories in the region of Chimaltenango. 2009). When Georg W Bush visited the area in March 2007. 52 Authors interview with Gabriel .. working in socio-economic projects experience particular problems related to crime. working hours. Below. (iii) organised crime impedes or actively prohibits NGOs and GROs to do your their organising or capacity building work. Local organisations. It is thus not surprising that CEADEL is confronted with different kinds of reactions caused by corporations and by different government agencies. Apart from this there is also the risk for staff to be attacked. Thus. 19 March 2010. causing severe economic problems to this association. For instance. Also men and women run risks when collecting money for a rotating credit scheme. Not every organisation can afford itself armed guards (that most international organisations have). however. Nevertheless. the insecurity also puts the cooperation with German volunteers at risk. and since CEADEL was mentioned in the article this meant a boost for the organisation. For instance the security measures. Staff of CEADEL reports that it receives anonymous threats over the phone (in the office and at home). minimum age of workers and security payments. Today the German counterparts responsible for the recruitment of volunteers fear that the risks are becoming too high. 34 . For instance. while telephone lines are intercepted and armoured cars park in front of the office to follow staff leaving the office. each of these will be discussed. This led to much attention for US firms working in the region. part of the harvest that was stored of an association of coffee producers was stolen. organisational and commercial support to local producer groups. (ii) insecurity and violence lead to social and emotional problems of staff. Although codirector Oscar de Leon says that insecurity has not necessarily increased over the past ten years. which is reflected in staggering homicide rates and high levels of crime (UNDP. CEADEL director Gabriel reports that the administration of CEADEL is controlled on a very regular basis. However. But apart from material and financial losses. It is. which organisations take to protect their premises. the reporting of some of the national media on labor rights in the region is rather critical. it definitely affects local groups in their efforts to move ahead.52 Chronic insecurity Central America is currently one of the most insecure and violent regions in the world. An example is OPCION. insecurity and crime also affect a part of the international network of this NGO. This chronic insecurity creates different kinds of problems and restrictions to NGOs and GROs: (i) criminality causes material and financial losses of organisations.many businesses do not comply with legal norms about wages.
The attacks against youth are not isolated incidents. A local Guatemalan NGO is currently investigating this case. We heard several examples of attacks or threats to staff of NGOs that at first were seen as a political attack. buying off local politicians and church leaders so as to establish a form of local control. The growing influence of drug traffickers catches the eye. the increasing violence and insecurity have created problems in the neighbourhoods where the organisation works. and social cleansing of youth (suspected gang members and criminals) has been a growing problem over the past years. and there are examples of drug traffickers building up local power positions. it became clear that one of the victims had had links with a local criminal gang (before) that for unknown reasons had targeted him. there are risks that have to be taken into account. when travelling to communities. or that hear others talk about incidents or read about it in the newspapers.’ the director says. ‘They are confronted on a daily basis with these stories and in almost every workshop they give. Young people – the main target group – are less interested in voluntary work. This kind of local control is not compatible with initiatives of local GROs or external NGOs that aim to empower local actors. 35 . director ACJ Guatemala. Most NGOs and GROs say that it is not possible to deal with these groups. or to open up local political space. not clear whether this was related to the earlier incidents.(ii) Social and emotional problems. In 1993 it changed its mission into the formation and training of local leaders.54 One and a half month after the murder two other members of ACJ were harassed by local military. because of the huge financial interests involved. to stimulate dialogue. The director of CEDEPCA. it is confronted with many of the stories of negative experiences of the participants. 53 Paul Menchu. Apart from the violence that staff of the organisation can experience itself. the ‘attribution’ of violent incidents and threats is a problem in its own right. says that the changing national context has deeply influenced the work of ACJ. while the two other youngster were no direct targets. CEDEPCA thus identified a need to support its staff to process these stories so as to be able to do its work. a Christian organisation that organises trainings. In the same year that 53 54 See ACJs website http://www. It is. The atmosphere of insecurity leads to emotional problems and stress of many common people that are confronted with violence and crime. In 2008 three volunteers of ACJ were brutally assassinated in the Amatitlán area. One director of an NGO said: ‘When it’s about narcos you can’t do anything (hay que callarse)’. however. Thus.ymcaguatemala. The experience of the Guatemalan branche of the YMCA (the Acción Cristiana de Jóvenes or ACJ) shows that also when an organisation is not dealing with these groups directly. but then the case was investigated (by staff themselves) and it appeared to be ‘just’ a criminal attack.org/ In the region of Amatitlán there is a lot of activity of drug trafficking gangs and involvement of local police is suspected. (iii) The perverse impact of organised crime. Although the case was never resolved. ACJ has worked in Guatemala as of 1964. There are many stories of organised crime affecting the functioning of local organisations and the interventions of NGOs. seminars and discussion groups for men and women says that 95% of the women attending courses of the organisation have experienced some kind of violence. But more importantly.
The murders had taken ACJ by surprise.html?article_id=4425c6869429bc8b63631f235bf798fd 56 Authors interview. ACJ started to use the term human rights defenders.58 SEDEM also played an important role in advising other NGOs and GROs in Guatemala and Central America. as well as the building and strengthening of a democratic security sector and the rule of law in Guatemala. there is a growing attention for measures to protect these groups. Guia de Protección para Defensores de Derechos Humanos. These problems deeply affected ACJs work. online available at http://www.sedem. Guatemala City. Particularly Udefegua played an important role in this. stigmatisation of volunteers of the organisation (they were called gang members). See http://news. For instance. One of the first groups in Guatemala that started to work with practical advice about how to deal with restrictions like intimidation. As discussed in the second paragraph of this chapter in the past decades a number of human rights groups were formed that gradually shifted its attention to the process of clarification and truth finding of human rights violations committed in the past. Periodistas y Operadores de Justicia.’56 ACJ was supported by several other organisations in dealing with the consequences of the murder. focusing on the restrictions that are the result of repression. in the period after de coup d’état in Honduras it was involved in the organisation of workshops for other ICCO counterparts in Honduras that are part of ICCO’s regional programme PDFED 59 to strengthen democracy and the rule of law.pdf 59 Programa de Democratización y Fortalecimiento del Estado de Derecho 36 . respect for human rights and strengthening the rule of law.eltecolote.org. spying. 57 See for more information on the Programa de Seguridad Juvenil http://centroamericajoven.org/news/view_article.55 After this murder ACJ was confronted with different kinds of problems. Responses This section focuses on the responses of NGOs and GROs to restrictions in their operational space. Caja Ludica. In 2002 it developed a manual for human rights defenders. One of the four regional commissions of this programme deals with the issue of protection of human rights defenders. 2002.the ACJ members were murdered. eight members of another counterpart of ICCO. In this regard a distinction can be made between more practical measures of persons and organisations in need for protection or support. ACJ also established a relationship with ICCOs PSJ programme. Caja Ludica. intimidation and criminalisation. and those measures that aim to address the causes of these restrictions by working for justice. it absorbed lots of time and resources from the organisation and affected the work on the ground. but Menchu now realizes that analysis of the local context is fundamental in youth work.57 As of this period. This made clear that NGOs working in tense situations need to have clarity about who are in control locally. eight members of another counterpart of ICCO. journalists and those working in the justice branch advising on many topics. problems with the municipality that wanted to withdraw the license to use a local building.org 58 See SEDEM. 17 March 2010. including threats (telephone) of staff.gt:8080/sedem/publicaciones/libros/guia. Over the past years 55 Caja Ludica. and requests for help to relocate of the family of one of the young men that was killed. arguing that ACJ volunteers are also human rights defenders. an art collective based in Guatemala City that uses performing arts to create alternatives for young people in the arrios. an ICCO partner. were killed. In the face of increasing human rights violations against members of NGOs and GROs. and abduction was SEDEM.
however. Persons and organisations working at a local level deal in more pragmatic and ad-hoc ways with the tensions they experience. Christian GROs and NGOs noted that some of their members rejected the idea of human rights from a Christian point of view and preferred to talk in terms of human dignity. where the right to organise and promote youth leadership is not guaranteed and thus requires a response. and there are many cases where human rights are violated and definitely need to be defended. Many of the ICCO partners that experienced restrictions mentioned that Udefegua helped them to deal with these problems. however. their staff and members. and this led among others to the decision of this organisation to call themselves grassroots human rights defenders (defensores de base). the self-labelling as human rights defenders can be problematic and have negative consequences as well. See EU. Ensuring protection – 37 . This has. led to a growing identification of local organisations. a discussion on how and when to use these terms may necessary. The question is . These international contacts are extremely important in ‘defence strategies’. or both’. Most interviewees mentioned. which makes it particularly difficult to make claims to the state. Although staff of the organisation puts these provisional measures into perspective saying ‘we don’t know if they are protecting us. but these persons are relatively visible. In the case of San Marcos a local leader had to go into hiding. In a similar vein psychological help was rejected.60 The use of the notion of human rights and 60 In itself a rights based approach is an important and valid starting point for NGOs. both at a national and international level. there is a growing knowledge and capacity among NGOs to deal with different kinds of restrictions. whose director noted that the concept of defence of human rights had become more important after the murder of three of its members.Udefegua started to play a very important role in this field. A case in point is ACJ. The state is weak and the rule of law almost absent. The need to intensify the work in favour of human rights defenders at grassroots level is increasingly recognized. Many of the measures were taken on an ad-hoc basis. All in all. among others by Udefegua. Moreover. this response is mostly reactive and organisations that have already experienced restrictions have drawn up plans or guidelines about how to deal with possible restrictions in the future. but she didn’t stay out in this new place and decided to return after a while. the protection would not have materialised without international pressure. The case of ACJ in Amatitlán shows that the problems emanating from the murder of three of its members took the organisation by surprise. Furthermore there is no doubt ‘all organisations that promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms (and that do not commit or propagate violence) are human rights defenders (in the definition of the EU). However. While it is certainly true that ACJ works in an adverse context. with the label of ‘human rights defenders’. which was seen as non-Christian and informed by humanism. So while there is no need to question the human rights discourse and the role of human rights defenders. For instance. among others. Also the many cases of intimidation and criminalisation in these places are extremely difficult to deal with. that urban-based human rights organisations and persons are better positioned to protect themselves. a resolution of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights imposed the government of Guatemala to protect the Myrna Mack foundation and some of its staff. whether local organisations should themselves actively use this label. The human rights discourse is still perceived by certain sectors in society as a ‘politicised’ or ‘left-wing’ discourse. spying on us. Some of the staff of these organisations receives threats on a very regular basis.
2010: 54). prosecuting and ultimately identifying domestic illegal security apparatuses and clandestine security organisations’ (Hudson & Taylor. However. 61 The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala. In the face of increasing violence and human rights violations. The text of the document is online available at http://www. organisations and leadership.the label of human rights defender have consequences on the ways that GROs and NGOs perceive themselves and are perceived by others. Especially for these NGOs and GROs that aim to strengthen local capacities. As mentioned in previous paragraphs this can in itself be risky. Two of these merit particular attention. and eventually the Constitutional Court of Guatemala declared that the commission violated the Guatemalan Constitution. Apart from the (reactive) responses of individual organisations. Online available at http://www. Human rights organisations. the international community and the state of Guatemala reached agreement about the formation of CICIG. 62 The Commission for the Investigation of Illegal Bodies and Clandestine Security Apparatuses.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/GuidelinesDefenders. when violence in Guatemala increased. it may be better to emphasise this constructive role. The agreement envisioned a national/international commission (two members appointed by the UN and OAS. parts of the establishment opposed its formation. strengthen and assist Guatemalan institutions in identifying.org/News/dh/guatemala/ciciacs-eng.un. CICIG is a hybrid institution. Many of these proactive responses aim to contribute to a reform of the Guatemalan state. because of their innovative character. since strengthening democracy and the rule of law almost by definition implies addressing those forces that mine the state ‘from within and without’. The first one is the process leading to the formation of the Commission Internacional Contra la Impunidad (CICIG).pdf. The Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman and the administration signed an agreement to form CICIACS 62. operating within the domestic legal system of Guatemala. and is tasked ‘to support. together with international organisations and foreign states started to lobby for the creation of a commission that would investigate the illegal structures and clandestine security apparatuses that were presumably responsible for the rise in human rights violations (Stanley 2007: 139-140). at a later stage. when the human rights situation deteriorated further and after the murder of the Salvadoran members of the Central American parliament.pdf 38 . Over the past years Guatemalan NGOs have pressed for the creation of national level institutions that deal in a proactive way with the issue of impunity and of human rights violations. However. Thus human rights organisations actively lobbied for and supported the creation of a hybrid body that might be better placed to European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. there is also a lot of experience with more proactive responses that aim to change the sources of the restrictive policies and actions.europa. and one by the government of Guatemala). A strong identification with human rights defenders can work counterproductive at local level and may run the risk to further complicate the work of GROs and NGOs. The dialogues and meetings of GROs and NGOs with government officials. This was a blow to the human rights groups in Guatemala. four years ago.consilium. Jenny Pearce (2006:23)argued that complementary strategies were required to pressure the state and to deal with the myriad sources of insecurity outside its control. as well as increasing capacity to lobby of NGOs and GROs can both be seen as proactive strategies.61 This process already started in the beginning of this decade.
are generally rather hesitant to become involved. Conclusions & Recommendations After two decades of democratisation and almost fifteen years of post-settlement transition the operational space for civil society organisations in Guatemala has both increased. which was the result of different ideas about whether and how to deal with the government. justice and security on the one hand. The second example is the establishment of the ‘Instancia’ in 2007. there are also restrictions with regard to what international actors can and want to do. the main problems are repression. Groups touching topics that are related to vested interests can experience severe problems on top of this. Many hurdles had to be taken before the Instancia was created. Several workshops were held outside of Guatemala. The responsible minister at the time initially didn’t want to participate and it took some coaxing to convince her. in the Netherlands and Guatemala. International actors are generally willing to support groups working against impunity and in favour of human rights. It proved difficult to reach consensus between different human rights organisations. and groups that enter into conflicts about resources at local level on the other hand. but impunity. But when it comes to more sensitive topics like conflicts around mining projects. but the core of the problem is the weakness of the state and of the rule of law. and there is a need to constantly build and rebuild trust. The most vulnerable sectors that were discussed in this chapter are groups working with human rights. The foregoing examples show that advances have been made by civil society with regard to security agenda. The security situation of these groups has deteriorated over the past decade. It is fair to say that international funding and pressure have been important for the spaces for these groups. such as bilateral donors and national embassies. However. and there are many examples of stigmatization. According to the NGO participants. but is at the same time ‘under pressure’. There have also been doubts about the reliability of some of the participants. the Instancia started with three participants of the NGO-sector and a representation from different departments. corruption.contribute to the dismantlement of the most aggressive perpetrators of human rights violations in the post-settlement period. There are some cases of administrative policies that caused problems to NGOs. international actors. In principle. The idea to form the Instancia was the result of the increasing threats of staff of NGOs. it has suffered of several problems. a ‘space’ where representatives from civil society and several government agencies meet in order to discuss cases of human rights violations. such as the frequent turn-over of ministers. This gives space to a multitude of criminal actors (state and 39 . With the growing popularity of the Instancia foreign donors have also become interested in supporting the initiative. However. insecurity and high indices of violence have an extremely negative impact on the operational space of all NGOs and GROs and hamper their work. NGOs came together and here the idea of a space to discuss particular cases of human rights violations with government officials was born. Although all sorts of restrictive policies and actions are present in the case of Guatemala while they are oftentimes linked. Eventually. which has led to some turf wars between government agencies participating in the initiative. the Instancia has proved to be useful. intimidation and criminalisation. many groups can operate relatively freely. as well as the increase in practices of social cleansing.
restrictions and conflict dynamics is needed. but the active use of this label might create additional problems and therefore rather choose to keep a lower profile. Of all counterparts of ICCO. presumably by gangs that were involved in extortion. The question is. but that they can lobby for. These pressures on the operational space of these organisations vary from case to case. independently from the question whether they experience restrictions or not.non-state) that are also gaining effective control over parts of the state apparatus and parts of the national territory. Guatemala City Bus Drivers Targeted. and it is fair to say that the lobbying and networking of human rights organisations at national and international level contributed to its formation. We argued in this chapter that there is a need to critically assess the use of the term human rights defenders. BBC. most notably Udefegua and SEDEM. At local level different constellations of interest groups have build power structures that seriously reduce the space of local NGOs and GROs. the groups working in the countryside that become part of conflicts around resources face the most serious challenges and often have least possibilities to counter these. The challenge for urban-based NGOs working in the field of security sector reform and justice is how to further contribute to a strengthening of the state and the rule of law in Guatemala. At local level.bbc. 63 See David Lee. but link this to an analysis of local power relations so as to make assessments about the possible strategies of how to deal with the legitimate demands of local people. This increasingly leads to polarisation and escalation of conflicts about resources that permeate local communities.uk/1/hi/8386584. Pay up or Die. how do movements deal with local dissent or cooptation of corporations? And what are – given the restrictions experienced by local people – successful strategies to move forward? A number of organisations in Guatemala are already involved in these activities. and a further systematisation of these local problems. What is their capacity to both protest and dialogue. whether local organisations should be given this label vis-à-vis their local members or be encouraged to do so. In the year 2009 alone approximately 175 bus drivers were killed. 6 December 2009. the actual protection is of utmost importance.stm 40 . the positions of protestors can easily harden in the face of limited possibilities to claim rights. measures are needed that NGOs and GROs cannot create themselves. however. and are extremely difficult to address. In this regard a discussion is needed about the ways NGOs might be able to contribute to different reforms. All Guatemalans are affected by the situation of insecurity and impunity. There is no doubt either that local organisations that ‘promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms’ fall under the category of human rights defenders (as defined by among others the EU).co. In particular. forcing police to devote resources into dealing with the murders. The systematisation should not only focus on the restrictions and violations of human rights. The ways in which these groups are restricted differs from place to place. Protests against actors responsible for these restrictions can be extremely dangerous. working from Guatemala City.63 In order to diminish the violence. The formation of CICIG is an important example. For these organisations. There is no doubt that human rights are violated and they definitely need to be defended. there is a need to systematise the evidence on the growing problem of criminalisation. although others suspected a strategy of distraction. Online available at http://news. and meanwhile allowing drug-traffickers to continue their work.
This bipartite system is. 1999).constituted a sharp break with Honduras’ less polarized political traditions’ (Ruhl. as well as their ‘appointees’ are widely accused of corruption.and may be more importantly – increasing polarization in Honduran civil society.. but attained political hegemony in the 1960s and for a long period had high levels of influence on elected officials (Ruhl. 2009a). Honduras – Operational space in times of political turbulence Introduction While Honduras has had a relative tolerance vis-à-vis the work of NGOs. It was unclear to what extend the Honduran political class really believed in the new ‘rules of the game’. Although the constitution of 1982 is generally seen as the start of Honduras’ process of democratisation. as well as . Sectors of the Honduran military were involved in dirty wars against suspected subversives. the coup d’état of 28 June 2009 led to a change in the operational space of a number of NGOs. which affected the relations between NGOs themselves. The Honduran political party system is dominated by two major centre-right political parties. according to critics. while the US-financed Contras were able to operate from Honduran territory. the military held a firm grip on power during the 1980s.3. the case of Honduras shows that organizations confronted with these changes were not really prepared and developed a diversity of response strategies. Thus. using ‘extreme violence *which+. 2004: 138). However. This ties in with the comments of many interviewees for this study that emphasised the lack of a democratic culture in Honduras as one of the explanations for the coup that took place in June 2009. while many senior military were still unreconciled with their loss of power (Ruhl. The Honduran military was according to Mark Ruhl (1999) ‘a late arrival on the political scene’. which is one of the lowest scores 41 . A major factor in this process was the sharply diminishing military assistance of the USA (which dropped from over $40 million in 1989 to $ 2. 1999).7 million in 1993). consolidation of democracy still seemed far away. Honduras scores 2. the Partido Liberal (PL) and Partido Nacional (PN). Also. The Honduran military received massive US-assistance during the 1980s in return for allowing the Contras to be based in Honduras. A coalition of a wide range of civil society organisations (including private enterprise) started to press for demilitarisation and President Rafael Callejas (1990-1994) and in particular Carlos Roberto Reina (1994-1998) implemented political reforms that substantially reduced the role of the military (Ruhl. Politicians of PL and PN.5 on the 2009 Corruption Perception Index (that ranges from a low of 0 to a high of 10). used by PL and PN to limit electoral competition and ‘exclude any upstart from entering the country’s democratic space’ (Anonymous. Honduras is a case of a relatively sudden change of the national political space. Honduras was used as an important base for US military involvement in the isthmus. Thus. which had severe consequences on the operational space of NGOs. Honduras had almost completed its transition to ‘procedural’ democracy. Demilitarisation of the Honduran political system received new impetus in the 1990s. Political context While in the early 1980s wars raged in the countries surrounding Honduras. 1999). by the end of the 1990s.
see UN Human Development Index 2007-2008. 2010: 3). blaming Zelaya of irresponsible. The ouster was the result of a deepening conflict between his government and the opposition about the organisation of a non binding referendum scheduled on the day of the coup. On various occasions corruption has also endangered aid disbursements.asp?idnews=38937 65 Honduras has a Gine coefficient of 53. starting with ensuring that the laws favoured them in order to stop anyone else from managing the state and all of its goods for their own pleasure and whim’ (ibid). state institutions and even political parties. with an extremely skewed distribution of income.2% below the extreme poverty line. 67 While there was in itself political support for the possibility of a second presidential term. Although one of the slogans of president Zelaya from the beginning of his term was ‘popular power’.65Over 59% of Hondurans remain below the poverty line and 36. 2009:7).transparency. At a later stage. This referendum was highly contested. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. internationally the coup was almost immediately rejected (Meyer. Zelaya’s administration had been rather weak during the first two years. because the opposition feared that president Zelaya would use the changes in the constitution for a second term as president and thus continue its political reforms.67 This led to extremely high levels of polarisation in Honduran society.net/news. this promise started to materialize in a very concrete way in the course of 2008 president. President Zelaya refused to accept court rulings that prohibiting the organisation of the referendum (Meyer. However. using all possible resources. but a constitutional succession. In case this ‘fourth66 ballot box’ would take place. or Nigeria and Zimbabwe . 42 .org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009. it was the leftist political program of president Zelaya that raised objections. and lacked popular and political support. congressional and municipal elections. The conflict about the referendum was the culmination of a more fundamental change in president Zelaya’s policies and political alliances. Roberto Micheletti.8. 66 Fourth baloot because it would be combined with three other ‘ballots’ for presidential. Eventually he was ousted from office by the president of Congress. Corruption Honduras: International Aid Hanging by a Thread.64 According to Ismael Moreno (2009c) one of the fundamental problems of the Honduran political system is that ‘law is subordinated to politics’ and that a ‘handful’ of politicians and big businesspeople have a patrimonial conception of the state. a member of the PL. The referendum was intended to ask the electorate whether they agreed having a fourth ballot box during the national elections that would be held in November 2009. and Philippines.s. it would ask Hondurans whether the country would organize a new national constituent assembly to approve a new constitution (Meyer.of Latin America and is similar to the scores of Indonesia. 2010: 2). illegal and dangerous behaviour. reports from international organizations like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demonstrated the illegality of the coup: (IACHR. He continues: ‘They acted exactly like they owned the state. argued that this was not a coup. with heavy support from the military. See for instance IPS. 2010:7). online available athttp://ipsnews. Zelaya increased 64 See Transparancy International http://www. 17 August 2007. This rather blunt description of the Honduran political system also reflects the disenchantment and frustration about years of economic growth without substantive poverty reduction. The Zelaya government (PL) took office in January 2006 and was ousted from office by a coup d’état on 28 June 2009. Micheletti c.
and a number of grass-root organizations. with some groups explicitly supporting the golpistas. 71 Add source: Book title 43 . President’s Ouster Highlights a Divide in Honduras. had direct access to the presidential palace and worked with president Zelaya on a housing project of 5200 houses. such as peasants or women movements. At the same time he approached sectors from Honduras civil society. who were invited to come over to the presidential palace. but withdrew later. during the second half of Zelaya’s term there was a marked change in the relation of the government with a particular sector of civil society. Protagonist sectors are syndicates of workers and teachers. Part of the membership (or ‘bases’) of the PN and PL also sympathise and participate on the FRNP. as well as resources to the movement. providing guidance.com 69 The political parties UD and PINU aligned with the FRNGE. This led to great unease among the traditional Honduran political and economic elites and a period of increasing polarisation between those ‘pro’ and those ‘anti’ Zelaya. Zelaya successfully sought contact with leaders of popular and social movements. while a new broad based movement coalesced in the National Front against the Coup d’État (FNRGE. Also. leaders from left-wing political parties. National media that are owned by conservative elites had already launched a vehement antiZelaya campaign. Thus. the term ‘Resistance’ also refers to the very large numbers of protestors that took the streets in the period during the coup.nyt. and the media became almost entirely polarised. the government moved towards Hugo Chavez’ political and economic alliances and joined PetroCaribe and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (Alba).68 A group called the ‘camisas blancas’ actively supported the coup. and their reporting was therefore usually partial’ (UN.the ‘buying power’ of the poor by raising the minimum wage substantially – without the consent of employers.69 A number of more critical NGOs that have links with popular movements play important roles in the FRNP. 2010: art 41). a left-leaning coalition was taking shape that counted at a national level on the support of popular sectors and at international level of Hugo Chavez. a peasant union. The national media and most of the churches endorsed the new ‘de facto’ government. The coup led to a split of the UD. Furthermore. The report of the Human Rights High Commissioner for Human Rights notes that during the coup ‘most media sided with one or the other side of the political spectrum. such as women organisations and peasant organisations that were invited at the presidential palace where their leaders had face-to-face conversations with the president. also FRNG). This front was renamed after the elections of 29 November 2009 into Popular Front of National Resistance (FNRP). imposed a veto on a bill prohibiting the use of the morning after pill. Also the director of the CNTC. There was also a harsh assault 68 See Ginger Thompson. and other groups rejecting the coup.71 After the coup. and whose massive mobilization and continuing protests surprised both the coup makers as well as the existing opposition movements in Honduras. online available at www. among other things.70 However. Members of Cofemun – a women organization – felt sympathy for president Zelaya who had. The FRNP is a broad movement with representatives of different sectors from Honduran society. this campaign continued. 70 Information provided by Carlos Del Cid. In the ‘run-up’ to the coup and especially during the coup Honduran civil society polarised to the bone. 9 August 2009. New York Times. Cofemun members remember president Zelaya’s administration as the one with ‘mayor apertura’. authorized since 1992 (and a highly controversial measure in Honduras).
The most frequent critique on president Zelaya was that he was a populist. Honduran Church Leaders Sympathetic to “Coup”. ‘He shared his project with civil society.74 However. among others about the data on poverty alleviation that were manipulated according to this NGO. One of them said about the coup: “We feel that what has happened is a reply to the fervent prayers of so many Christians. Even more important was the position of many of the churches in Honduras. the consultation with civil society in the framework op de national Plan of Poverty Reduction (ERP) (an entity where NGOs played an important role) came to an end during the Zelaya’s administration. The Zelaya government was accused of corruption (just like the preceding governments) and of the usual political games to control key positions in the state structure. most of them – in particular the Catholic church and the new evangelical churches – were accused of endorsing or supporting the coup."73 Before and after the coup. the Cardinal of the Catholic Church Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga defended the coup. it's not a coup. without having a coherent plan. For many of us. 2008). while some of the church leaders were even accused of being involved in the organisation of the very coup. Another. The American Speactator 7-10-2009. Several media premises were occupied and private companies and the State withdrew their advertising from those media supporting the FRNG’ (UN 2010: 42 /44). stating that "each and every one of the documents which have come into our hands show that the institutions of the Honduran democratic state are valid and that what it has executed in juridical-legal matters has been rooted in law. 75 The impact of the policies of the Zelaya administration on the poor (the group that the government increasingly claimed to support) was also criticized. 76 This was among others done by FOSDEH.77 However. nor a clear strategy. and eventually the elections of 29 November 2009 took place as scheduled and brought Pepe Lobo (PN) to power. NGO representative accused president Zelaya of manipulating popular sectors. 44 . Also the FRNP does not recognize the government of Pepe Lobo. For instance.on media that were critical of the coup. said one NGO representative. many 72 Mark Tooley. the polarization was not at all total and there were more progressive groups from civil society that also raised objections against Zelaya’s policies and style.76 All in all. more critical. The coup d’état led to heavy international disapproval (much more than the coup makers had expected) and several (internationally led) efforts to negotiate between president Zelaya and the de facto government. Zelaya was successful in linking up with parts of civil society (mainly popular movements).org/archives/2009/07/10/honduran-church-leaders-sympat/print 73 Ibid 74 Ibid 75 A case in point was the debate about the Nueva Corte Suprema which led to a hunger strike of the public prosecutors in Honduras (see Eguigure. whereas he entered into conflict with others sectors (among these also a number of NGOs). large numbers of members of new evangelical churches demonstrated in Tegucigalpa for the Honduran constitution and against Zelaya. A successful negotiation between Micheletti and Zelaya never took place. looking for the support of popular sectors. but the rescue of our country and our democracy". 72 For instance. These elections were rejected and boycotted by the FNRP. 77 I n the remainder of this text we will talk about the Resistence Front meaning both FRNG(E) and FRNP. an NGO that entered in fierce discussions with the Zelaya administration. online available at http://spectator. but this is not the project of civil society’.
worldbank. to about 12000 at this moment (Del Cid 2010a). online available at http://www. Moreover. who ordered the arrest and expulsion of former president Manuel Zelaya. Victor Meza. chronic insecurity.countries recognized the new government and restored the diplomatic relations with Honduras. hurricane Mitch (1998) caused tremendous destruction in Honduras. The assistance provided after Hurricane Mitch had similar intentions. Tegucigalpa. director of CEDOH and former minister in Zelaya’s cabinet mentions a number of challenges in particular:78 Human rights violations have continued in the months after the Lobo took power. the sector partly reflects the stances of social forces in Honduran society and in the donor community. foreign assistance has played an important role in Honduras. and a group of NGOs and donors taking a more technical stance while being less pronounced in political terms. which is still highly divided. growing influence of narcos in the economy and the political sphere. has been named as the new director of the Honduran telecommunications firm HONDUTEL. This policy dialogue (participation by civil society) was one of the principles of the PRSP process and led to foundation of the Consejo Consultivo de la Estrategia de la Reducción de la Pobreza (CC-ERP).79 Furthermore. For instance. Although the NGO sector is very diverse. This is a general typology indeed. The Lobo-administration aims to build a national government and to work towards reconciliation. Furthermore. both in financial and in political terms. La Tribuna 9 March 2010. leading to a new wave of (emergency) assistance to the country. The country participated in the HIPC initiative and PRSPS processes that led to the (conditional) cancellation of debt. INGOs belonging to the more critical group are among others the Aprodev partners. This proves extremely complex in Honduras. Foreign donors and agencies have played an important role in the creation of new ‘spaces’ where government agencies and representatives from civil society meet and discuss priorities. Roughly a division can be made between more critical NGOs that are funded by a number of European NGOs and (Nordic) donors.80 Over the past decades. The second consultative group meeting for the Reconstruction and Transformation of Central 78 79 Authors interview. Oxfam Family and the national coalition of international aid agencies ACI. 25 March 2010. as well as the ongoing corruption make the ‘post-coup’ situation in Honduras extremely volatile. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez. that does little justice to all different shades.81 International donors have emphasized the need for political reforms and for participation of civil society in the definition of public policies.org/ext/ddpreports/ViewSharedReport?REPORT_ID=9147&REQUEST_TYPE=VIEWADVANCED&DIME NSIONS=100 45 .latribuna. 81 See for data on foreign assistanece WorlBank: http://ddpext. but the idea that ‘international cooperation’ can be divided into ‘camps’ that are more or less ‘consequent’ has gained strength after the coup of June 2009 (see below). The NGO sector The NGO-sector in Honduras has grown in the past two decades and the estimates of the number of NGOs in Honduras is that it grew from around 4000 in the end of the 1980s.0/?p=106835 80 Communication with Carlos del Cid.hn/web2. a silent re-militarization of the state is going on. with one of the most worrisome trends the re-emergence of death squads activities particularly targeting the FNRP. the former head of the Honduran armed forces.
org/regions/re2/consultative_group/declaration. grassroots organizations and even MPs with their own ‘mesa’ (table). Although the majority of the Honduran NGOs and GROs were not directly targeted by the de facto government of Micheletti and were (with practical limitations) able to continue their work. These initiatives take place both at national level and at local level. In a similar vein. the increased ambition and capacity of sectors of civil society. Taking a middle position (or trying to do so…) can be seen by others that have 82 The Stockholm Declaration was signed on 28 May 1999 in Stockholm. In this view NGOs are a necessity for a state that lacks resources to provide for basic services. since within organizations or network organizations the legality of the removal of president Zelaya was a point of heavy debate. most organizations reconsidered their relationship with the state. However. However. or the mining activities) are touched. where it proved extremely difficult (though not entirely impossible) to take a position that does not either adhere to the ‘golpistas’ or the ‘resistencia’. by providing practical help or shelter for demonstrators. such as the ICCO supported Espacio Regionial de Occidente in the West of Honduras which brings together government agencies. those NGOs and GROs that publicly declared themselves against the coup and in particular those that aligned with the Resistance Front. The coup of June 2009 is seen by many representatives of GROs and NGOs as proof of this. The coup had a devastating effect on the relations between state and the NGO-sector that labelled the coup as a coup (and not as legal succession as the supporters of the coup did). throughout the country a network of local groups working in the field of risk management have organized local groups over the past decade. which led to a postponement of contacts with the government or participation in networks. faced great difficulties to do their work (see sections below). the interactions between civil society and the state have multiplied. which implies according to Mitchell (1981) ‘the widening of political and social space between groups. The situation after the coup in Honduras can be seen as a ‘text-book case of polarisation’. and led to a diversity of formal and informal spaces of dialogue and cooperation between state and non-state actors. national and Central America level. One of the criticisms is that ‘dialogues’ between civil society and government form part of a strategy of ‘tolerance’ vis-à-vis NGOs.America led to the Stockholm Declaration. A number of these organizations played an active role in the activities of the Resistance Front. and of NGOs in particular to lobby the government (both locally and nationally) or to discuss proposals with specific government agencies is seen as one of the main changes of civil society over the past decades (Del Cid I-14). but there is nevertheless discussion about the wider impact. See http://www.iadb. These changes have led to tangible results. Some of the ‘bottom-up’ initiatives have led robust networks.htm 46 . this participation reaches its limits when key interests (such as access to land. and the importance of participation of civil society in the strengthening of democracy’. In such a situation it becomes extremely difficult to take a ‘middle-position’. that also organize at regional. This led to an extremely high degree of polarization. which emphasized the need for ‘an integrated approach of transparency and good governance. the result of the fear of powerful Honduran elites that their interests were threatened. and the gravitation of previously uncommitted or moderate actors towards one of the extremes’.82 As a result of these and other initiatives. Others took a lower profile and in a number of cases did not speak out against the coup. Overall.
it is created and imagined. but those organizations that were (suspected of) aligning with or supporting the Resistance Front were target of intimidation. also 83 http://cococh. This is exactly what happened between organizations and even within organizations (both NGOs and GROs) in Honduras. the NGO sector historically experienced a high degree of ‘tolerance’. Representatives of NGOs and CSOs that chose to align or to work with the Resistance Front. a large share of the representatives of NGO’s that supported or sympathize with the Resistance Front. repression and other restrictive measures. this immediately led to objections of some of the present organizations that wanted to be neutral in this regard. In network organizations this proved even more problematic. Some explained that ‘Mel opened our eyes’ or ‘showed us the way’. it all became very emotional’. while at the same not being identified with the pro-Zelaya sectors of the Resistance Front. and member of the Christian Democrat Party that endorsed the ‘sucesion presidencial’) and Rafael Alegría (representing CNTC and linked to the former Zelaya government as well as the Resistance Front). said that the organization was seen by some as ‘golpista’ and by others as ‘resistencia’. Another. This also led to the use of a vocabulary by some NGOs that had not been used over the past decades. The coup and the ensuing violence used by the de facto government not only created a divided civil society. The coup.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=41&Itemid=51 47 . When the Foprideh network of Honduran NGOs met in March 2009 and the chairman of the meeting referred to the ‘coup’. Even in the period after the coup.org/cococh/index. expressed that there was no space for shades (‘tintas medias’) and that this was the moment to be clear about your position: ‘you either with us or against us’. but that did not participate in the activities of the Resistance Front. For a number of those representatives that chose to clearly pronounce against the coup and join the resistance movement. NGOmember laughed that their resistance to the coup had led to the fact that their NGO was seen as ‘pro-Zelaya’. The coup also caused a strong dispute about the leadership of the ICCOfunded coalition of peasant organizations of Consejo Coordinador de Organizaciones Campesinas (COCOCH) between Santos Cornelio Chirinos (representing ACAN. most NGOs were not fundamentally restricted in their activities. while combining this with frustration about the limited results of decades of supposed poverty alleviation arguing that it is time for ‘structural changes’. However. while at a later stage it took a lot of energy to respect each others point of view. A staff member of an international organization was shocked by the terminology used by some of the members of the Frente that used ‘all of a sudden used terms. while they had always been very critical about his policies. this coincided with warm support for ‘Mel’ Zelaya. Meanwhile. 83 Thus. but you can’t escape from it. One NGO-representative. One representative told that it was impossible to discuss the issue within the NGO (and it even divided families or could simply not be discussed). such as class struggle again’. It was particularly difficult to pronounce against the coup.made a choice as cowardly or an (implicit) choice for the adversary. within organizations and network organizations the June 2009 events had caused enormous debates about the legitimacy of the coup (or succession). Some people describe a feeling of powerlessness: ‘There was no reason anymore. however. are not blindly following Zelaya. whose organization had pronounced itself against the coup. Another person argued that polarization is not real. but also a situation with emotions flaring up.
intimidation and harassment is not entirely clear. there may also be high level state agencies involved. A number of these cases received or currently receive national and international attention. However. Below we assess the importance of each of the five types of policy and action. This is clearly the case after the coup. such as (a) the lesbian. The typical pattern for ‘partial democracies’ is thus also present in Honduras: there’s lots of space for NGOs and GROs. and companies can use or strengthen these differences. there is no systematic documentation in Honduras of these kinds of local resource-related conflicts and human rights violations.85 There are other sectors that have been particularly vulnerable over the past years. motivations and disputes (also other than these related to resources) can become important factors in local conflict dynamics. with emotions flaring up. and of combinations of both (particularly in the cases of repression and stigmatization). El Salvador El Faro. bisexual and transgender community (LGBT). but – just like the case of Guatemala – thereseems to be a pattern of (local) combinations of non-state and state actors that are involved. These are mostly local groups or movements. (b) youth living in 84 Before is until 28 June 2009. until the inauguration of the new Lobo administration in January 2010 and after the coup is the period as of the Lobo administration. gay. Quantitative data about numbers of incidents and trends are scarce.84 Physical harassment and intimidation Before the coup a number of groups and sectors were particularly vulnerable and experienced different kinds of threats. and land rights. and local interests. Local residents and organizations become parties to these conflicts. and harassments. during is after the coup. the dynamics are primarily local. and it proved extremely difficult to bridge these divisions. and as far as we can see. In many of these cases the responsibility for threats.] What Honduras also has in common with the other cases in this study is that policies and actions cannot only be attributed to state agents. Restrictive policies and actions As mentioned before. *What’s more. most representatives of NGOs and GROs reported a ‘relative tolerance’ (tolerancia relativa) to do their work. civil society groups themselves became part of these dynamics. Although in some cases. the case of Honduras shows that particular interests and taboos can become more sensitive in particular periods of time. making a distinction between the situation ‘before. 48 . during and after’ the coup. but there are limitations for groups that (start to) touch more fundamental interests or taboos in society. Polarization generally leads to an atmosphere where positions become more radical.had severe consequences on the nature of the social and political space that NGOs and GROs granted each other. but are the result of both state and non-state actors. there are many less well known cases. such as the cases of the problems with the mining company in Santa Rosa the Copan and the land problems in Bajo Aguan (see next section). but it is fair to say that the groups with most problems are those that were involved in local disputes about resources such as mining. Although the coup was clearly the onset of this development. 85 See for a description of how local and national actors influence local conflict dynamics Kalyvas (2003). and where the space for more moderate positions diminishes. See for examples of how this has influenced local anti-mining struggles in Cabañas.
art 67). Amnesty International (2003) reported an ‘unprecedented increase’ at the end of the 1990s in the number of murders and extrajudicial executions of children and youths in Honduras. In the period after June 2009 until the moment of writing. who was also a member of the Resistance Front. 2010. For instance. online available at www. such as the Attorney General’s Office. These measures were generally defended by most of the institutions of the Honduran state. changed after the coup. 2010: 6).87 Secondly. the de facto regime launched a series of ‘restricting repressive measures’ that placed Honduran society under strict control. the implementation of curfews (periodically). as Bertha Oliva of Cofadeh notes ‘they have always viewed us with suspicion’. Clearly. art 62). Preliminary data. the problems increased during and after the coup. however. as well as the detention or persecution of political and social leaders (Meyer. Firstly. However. such as 12 women and 7 men at the National Women’s Institute (UN. in the period during (and partly also after) the coup. Furthermore. In a number of cases government staff that (openly) opposed the coup reportedly lost their jobs. leader of the Rainbow Association Transvestite Group. This was especially so for organizations and persons that participated actively in the Resistance Front.com/country/Honduras/view/HND/gayhonduras-news-and-reports#article12 87 See for instance the case of Josef Fabio Estrella. This. and Cofadeh joined the Resistance Front and 86 See Gays Honduras: News and Reports. on September 21st 2010. 2009:9). there are strong indications that ‘members of the security forces and others acting with the implicit consent of the authorities’ play a role in an alarming number of cases. 2010:6).com 88 See Amnesty International (2003). These measures included the patrolling of security forces (army and police). As to the perpetrators of this violence. whilst some of these crimes have taken place within the context of gang or mara warfare. These restrictive measures were especially used to counter the protests against the coup.TheLNMag. For many organizations that experienced restrictions prior to the coup.marginalized neighborhoods.’88 Interpeace (2009) has reported a steep rise in the number of extrajudicial killings of youth after the coup. Tegucigalpa. especially those that are seen as gang members or criminals. 49 . Organizations that supported the coup (such as a large number of church organizations) or that did not question it openly experienced no or few problems. Ciprodeh has reported over 170 cases of violence against the LGBT community since 2004. Interpeace. The Inter-American Commision on Human Rights reports that security forces conducted thousands of illegal and arbitrary detentions without an order from of a competent authority (IACHR. Also the other human rights organizations in Honduras reported threats. Interpeace (2009). 89 Interview with Tomas Andino. when displaced president Zelaya took refuge in the Brazilian embassy. 22 March 2010. but the troubles with the government were mostly of a different (administrative) nature. organizations like Cofemun. In the period after the coup nine persons from the LGBT community were killed. in Lesbian News Magazine.89 Thirdly. with regard to youth. but its space widened considerably in the past two decades. among them Walter Trochez. the Honduran human rights movement was very vulnerable in the 1980s. the closure of radio and television stations or intimidation of its staff. and intimidations of different types. Bertha Oliva has received numerous threats. when Cofadeh declared itself against the coup and joined the Resistance Front. online at http://globalgayz. judges and the Supreme Court of Justice (UN 2010. and (c) human rights organisations.86 There are reports of police officials that are involved in LGBT-violence. Casa Alianza (2006). June 2007. a 45-day state of siege was announced (Meyer.
although the discussions prior to the coup about new NGO-laws. More important and frequent. arbitrary kllings in the period from 28 June 2009 till the end of March 2010. among others a group of 52 protestors against the coup that occupied the premises of the National Agrarian Institute building in Tegucigalpa on the 30 th of September 2009 (UN.php 92 nd For instance. However. 2009).92 For instance. suspending freedom of movement. and authorizing the suspension of any radio or television stations that offended government officials or expressed opposition to government resolutions (Cofadeh. as well as other critical voices such as journalists. During the coup at least 100 persons were charged on sedition. 24 March 2010. during the coup. included elements of criminalisation (see also next section). These charges were based on decrees that restricted civil and political liberties. Red Comal (see next section) is a case in point.reported different kinds of threats. members of social movements were increasingly confronted with criminal charges. director CNTC. published by a coalition of Central American Human Rights NGOs. where particularly ‘mid-level’ leaders that have links with the Resistence Front are targeted. a counterpart of ICCO. Among these protestors were 10 members of the CNTC. art 38). 91 See the overview of 54 cases of extra-judicial. 50 . presented by CODEH of the killings that took place after the coup. however. CNTC also reported the detention of members in Colon and Comayagua . Criminalisation We heard of no cases of criminalisation of NGOs in the sense that they were legally prosecuted.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=100:ejecuciones-extralegales-arbitrarias-osumarias-consecuencia-del-golpe-de-estado-militar&Itemid=36 On the violence against media. the bulk of the repression during and after the coup is directed at persons that have links with the Resistance Front. Legislativeas y Municipales en Honduras. Organizations that were relatively free to operate before the coup.org/2010/03honduras-deadlin-violence-against-newsmedia. acts of intimidation such as monitoring and surveillance (UN. impeding freedom of expression. 93 Authors interview.90 There is an extremely worrisome trend of continuation of human rights violations. prohibiting public meetings not authorized by the police or the armed forces. online available at http://codeh. see for instance a call by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reports of human rights organizations in Honduras show that by the end of 2009 – in the run-up to the elections . 2010. Cofemun reported threats via e-mail and phone.91 Many observers – including members of the former Zelaya administration – argue that president Lobo himself is not directly responsible or in favour of this repression. at http://cpj. 2010.hn/v1/index. Apart from the problems that NGOs experienced. Tegucigalpa.the use of torture has increased exponentially. executive Decree PCM-16-2009 (emitted on September 22 2009) imposed the state of siege again. were the charges of the crime of sedition. there is ample evidence that in the period during and after the coup. art 58). while they were also based on existing legislation. Agustin Ramos. but rather not able to stop it (which is even more worrisome). prosecutors initiated a number of proceedings charging “illicit assembly”. but chose to support the FRN entered in serious problems as well and these problems were in many cases new to these organizations. In November 2009 military searched the offices of the organization in Siguatepeque on the suspicion of obstructing the elections (that took place a day later).93 It is feared that the crime of sedition will be used more frequently in the 90 See Report Situacion de los Derechos Humanos Previo a las Elecciones Presidenciales.
In a declaration it states that it started ‘on the very day of the coup d’état with the illegal suspension of Constitutional guarantees and the denial of the right of the population under Article 3 of the Constitution’.defensoresenlinea. The human rights organisation Cofadeh (2009) accused the de facto government of ‘a plan to criminalise public protest’.revistazo.95 It is important to note that there are links between criminalisation and repression. for instance by 94 See http://www. The key laws affecting NGOs and GROs in Honduras are the Civil Code. shifting to barrios and neighbourhoods of different cities. as well as well as Executive Decrees 024-2002 and 770-A-2003. 2009). as of July 30th.biz/cms/index. municipalities.com/cms/index. A case in point is the destitution of judges that are members of the Asociación de Jueces por la Democracia and that started a hunger strike against this decision. However. 2009). Both the forms and location of the repression has changed in the last few months.htm 97 FONAC was founded in 1994. and villages where demonstrations against the coup take place. see http://www. Other key laws include the Law on the National Convergence Forum (FONAC)97 which created a national space for dialogue between state and authorized representatives of civil society. Campaigns to harass and persecute members of the resistance have been mounted’ (Cofadeh. using death threats as a form of intimidation. the repression has become selective. ICNL reports the frequent abuses of this ministry in providing the legal personality (the right to entry).php?option=com_content&view=article&id=678:juez-violala-presuncion-de-inocencia-y-envia-a-prision-a-10-sindicalistas&catid=54:den&Itemid=171 95 See http://www. see http://www.hn/ 51 . the de facto regime announced and publicly threatened to take a series of measures to forcibly disperse protestors and to apply article 331 of the Penal Code to those who attend protests. According to Cofadeh this strategy shifted a month later. We would rather argue that there is a need to closely monitor trends in this regard.icnl. the Administrative Procedures Code. For instance. in particular those that pronounced themselves the coup.period after the coup. Thus. 2010).php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1108:con-despidossilenciaran-a-jueces-y-magistrados-criticos-de-la-corrupcion-del-sistema-judicial&catid=19:proyectos&Itemid=19 96 This section is largely based on the information of ICNL on Honduras. The 2002 Decree described the responsibilities of the Registration and Supervision of Civil Associations Unit (URSAC). In the absence of a framework the Ministry of Governance and Justice has according to ICNL ‘unfettered authority over the granting of a legal personality’.gob. it is argued by Cofadeh that criminalisation already diminished during the coup and made place for more targeted repressive actions that continue until the day of writing.fonac.94 Another sector that has been targeted is professionals working in different sectors of the state. meetings and public marches that generate “disorderly brawls” (Cofadeh. The 2003 Decree further elaborated on this (ICNL. Administrative measures96 According to ICNL Honduras lacks a ‘framework’ law that provides the basic conditions for establishing an NGO or a GRO as a legal person. This is not to say that criminalisation of social protest has disappeared. ten members of the university trade union Sitraunah of the Nacional Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) were charges on the crime of sedition and taken into custody on the 24 of March 2010.org/knowledge/ngolawmonitor/honduras. when the government started ‘targeting social groups clearly identified with the resistance and in the last four weeks.
law. As a reaction. the organization must have a minimum number of Honduran citizen members. a broad based coalition of national and international NGOs heavily criticized and lobbied against this concept law. among others of Roberto Micheletti. however. less repressive.icnl. In the past years there have been several efforts to draft a comprehensive law regulating different kinds of civil society organizations. However. There is. which according to ICNL included the following significant restrictions on the freedom of association: “Vaguely worded prohibitions on non-governmental organization (NGO) activities that "might influence citizens in relation to a particular political party. 52 . We talk about stigmatization in cases where groups are portrayed as untrustworthy.org See chapter 1 of this study. in which NGOs (both national and international) have been involved. ICNL also reports that the lack of a legal framework ‘leaves NGOs vulnerable to multiple and ad-hoc requests for information from various government entities and/or to charges of a lack of transparency by the public’ (ICNL.99 Media generally play an important role in these strategies and in that regard the control of national media in Honduras by a few powerful conservative elites is of utmost importance.” An extremely high minimum number of members for an NGO to obtain and retain legal personality. plus restrictions on the freedom of non-Honduran citizens to associate: for every legal foreign resident member of an NGO. and thus forming a threat to security or social order of society. candidate or ideological tendency" that give the Government great discretion to limit rights of freedom of association and expression. Vast discretion to forcibly dissolve NGOs if the Government determines that an NGO is unable to fulfill its objective. falls below number of minimum members. Individuals of these NGOs remember the aggressive tone of a number of MPs in these discussions. or dangerous. The law was not accepted before the coup took place. 2010). in our interviews with NGO-representatives we found that most NGOs didn’t experience these kinds of problems and were not restricted by administrative measures (but rather by other kinds of measures). Labeling of others can be part of strategies of both government agents and civil society. or (stronger) as criminals or dangerous subjects. without giving major substance for these claims. The discussions with the government about this law took a negative turn. and youth).upholding the request for legal personality up to a period of seven years (ICNL. 2010). the Honduran Assembly issued a highly restrictive draft NGO law. widespread support among Honduran NGOs for the drafting of a new comprehensive law on civil society organisations. or spends down 80% of its assets. 98 99 See ICNL on Honduras at www.”98 In the month before the coup. Stigmatisation It is fair to say that in the period before the coup. Stigmatisation can be an extremely important strategy when a group or category is constantly depicted as untrustworthy. and currently NGOs consider opening the discussion with the new government about another. after the publication of critical report of an NGO (Ciprodeh) on the Honduran assembly in March 2009. human rights groups and women organizations. the most vulnerable sectors in Honduras with regard to stigmatization are those that were discussed under the first subsection of this paragraph (the GLBS community.
In general.100 The last years of the Zelaya regime were characterized by a growing division in the Honduran political establishment and society. and where cooptation starts. It can. or system of an opponent and where offers of material gain for the ‘co-opted person or the group’ play an important role in these moves. 23 March 2010. Thus. party. Trinidad Sanchez. As discussed in chapter 1 we are interested in these acts of co-optation where persons or several persons are persuaded or lured to join the agency. For those groups that question norms that are deeply embedded and widely shared in Honduran society – such as the case of the GLBS community – stigma is already widely present. We distinguish between practices of cooptation and the hesitance to engage in new dialogue with the government after the Lobo Administration took power. Reportedly. but have opened their own stations. however. mining companies do not only sponsor local radio station. labelling and stigmatization also became a strategy of civil society groups vis-à-vis each other and groups that were not able to position themselves during and after the coup could also become object of stigmatization. These spaces were closed after the coup. Existing spaces under pressure There has been a trend over the past decades to create new spaces of dialogue between civil society groups and government agencies. What’s more. The experience of the resistance against a local mine by the Associacion Civica para la Democracia in Santa Rosa de Copan (see next paragraph) shows that these companies used local media (broadcasting their own programmes) to spread their message. in a situation of extreme division and polarization. In local level struggles images of the self and other are of great importance. These radio stations play important roles in the promotion of the message that mining creates progress and that those against mining are against this progress. In the past decade continuous national level media attention for youth gangs and their alleged responsibility for crime and homicides have created an atmosphere that legitimized zero tolerance policies and extra-judicial executions of youth. 53 . this led to an almost complete polarization of the media after the coup (with a number of smaller regional broadcasting stations and newspapers taking a more critical stance) and the provision of objective information was extremely problematic. stigmatization increasingly became an important tactic for all parties. Particular strategies of stigmatization are clearly more important in cases where particular groups are portrayed as ‘dangerous others’ – such as youth (gangs). President Zelaya contributed to this by a rather confronting style. Below we discuss several types of problems with regard to these newly established spaces. Some interviewees noted that president Zelaya used Canal 8 for his political project and that there was a ‘propaganda war’ going on in the period before the coup. When PL and PN led governments approach members and leaders of trade 100 101 Authors interview. More recently. be difficult to see where cooperation ends. As already mentioned. Siguatepeque. (local) media increasingly play a role in forging alliances in local conflicts about mining. director Red Comal. the national level media launched constant and fierce attacks on the government of Zelaya.Stigmatisation takes different forms in Honduras.101 The image was created that president Zelaya’s administration formed a threat to national security and sovereignty and can be seen as a form of stigmatization that helped form a coalition of state agencies and part of civil society against his government.
Zelaya approached leaders of social movements. This ties in with a more fundamental problem of whether. 104 Authors interview Thomas Andino. The spaces of dialogue that had been created over the past decades were seen as ‘ritualised’ spaces. but this was not accepted. social movements and NGOs. which was seen by others as an effort to co-opt these movements – not necessarily by bribing them. Tegucigalpa. however a normal practice for Honduran governments that seek to build or to broaden their constituency. In that regard. a distinction should obviously be made between those in favour of and against the coup. This was also expressed by the director of Interpeace. a prominent leader of the teachers' union that plays a prominent role in the Resistance Front. he said and moreover talks with government officials could be interpreted by others as being in favor of the coup (‘ser golpista’). director of the human rights organisation CODEH and one of the first persons to announce plans of a coup. as a result of closure of spaces. since these churches are generally conservative and were not willing to be associated with Zelaya. By the end of March 2010 most NGOs still very much had a wait and see attitude. that didn’t lead to fundamental choices in favour of the poor. we also found that some NGOs had their thoughts about the nature of their relations with the government.104 Apart from the problems to engage with the government. In a similar vein. A representative of a human rights NGO said that president Lobo had invited members of a new platform of human rights organisations for a conversation. Andres Pavon. social movements. 54 .102 However. 25 March 2010. This is different for the groups that actively oppose the coup and don’t accept the legitimacy of the new Lobo administration (they speak of Pepe Lobo. appointed Alejandro Ventura. not successful. The resistance of the political and economic classes to meaningful reform in 102 See El Heraldo 28 January 2010.hn/Ediciones/2010/01/28/Noticias/Toma-forma-el-gabinete-del-gobierno-de-unidad 103 Authors interview Andres Pavon. Approaching leaders from civil society is. since the very youth that the organisation is working with would not agree with new dialogue. President Lobo. however. president Zelaya approached new protestant groups. it is not surprising that we heard numerous accusations that politicians were actually buying (bribing) leaders of trade unions. Engaging with this new government is still not an issue. when and how to restore working relations with the new Lobo administration. like for instance. not of president Lobo). other leaders refused to accept a position in the new government. The organisations that supported or endorsed the coup generally don’t have any moral dilemmas of working with the new government or not. For instance. Tegucigalpa. 103 According to Pavon it was still too early to cooperate with the new government. This was.unions. this should not necessarily be seen as examples of this (and these ‘cross-overs’ can also be seen as an indicator of an ‘healthy’ democracy). in his turn. online available at http://www. 22 March 2010.elheraldo. In this regard the more radical NGOs refer to the Honduran democracy as a ‘oligarchic democracy’ that wasn’t able to foster sustainable development. an organisation working with youth. This was the case with the former president Zelaya in his bid to build a ‘left-wing’ constituency as well as the new Lobo administration in its efforts to build a broad based government. churches and NGOs to side with the government or to take positions in the cabinets. but rather contributed to ‘sustainable poverty’. The relations with the government were still ‘cold’. But in a context where corruption flourishes and clientalism is strong.
There have also been pressures and threats against ASONOG that have increased to such an extent that the director eventually had to leave the country. Therefore. ASONOG has become more careful in its work. Thus ASONOG has focused more recently on declaring municipalities ‘free of mining activities’. (b) those that are a result of insecurity. impunity and corruption. It focuses on the protection of the environment and of human rights in the western part of Honduras and it seeks to strengthen the lobby capacity of local governments and civil society. ASONOG. First. The mining company has used broadcasting time of local radio stations with a view to foster support for its activities. Furthermore. ASONOG has taken a number of measures to deal with this situation.Honduras was also a key concern of others. Also with the support of external donors. This is not only the case because the company provides employment. who emphasised the weakness of the state. Most of these are related to insecurity generated by criminal 55 . The importance of communication is also emphasised. so as not to be the (sole) target of repressive actions. a counterpart of ICCO. but it is clear that they haven’t stopped since then. Reportedly. As one NGO-representative said: What effects did our efforts produce? Didn’t we –through our dialogues . The director of ASONOG had to leave the country and was assisted by several international organisations. has been involved in protests against mining companies since July 1999 with its program Incidencia Gestión de Riesgos y Minería. made a clear choice in favour of the poor. oftentimes leading to withdrawal of the organisation.merely legitimize the government policies that didn’t lead to improvement of the poor in our country? On the job trouble In this section we focus on the ways restrictive actions and policies were experienced by different organisations. We make a distinction between three different kinds of experiences (that are partly overlapping): (a) those that are typical for conflicts about resources. although it is realised that it may be very difficult to counter the propaganda of mining companies. it opened its own radio station and thus has a strong influence on public opinion. emphasis is placed on the prevention of mining activities in communities were mining companies consider to start activities. It is not clear who exactly are behind these threats. In Santa Rosa de Copan. others questioned how to use their political space and wondered whether changes in their strategies would be necessary. The past two years this led to more and more pressure on ASONOG. While for some this was reason to voice a strong support for president Zelaya who. More recently. and (c) those that are the result of the repression of the coup. preferably taking action in coordination with other organisations. where ASONOGs headquarters are based. mayors receive funds of the company and even police have received funds to buy petrol. staff played an important role in the protests against the local mining activities. it was argued. Stopping a company that has already invested proves to be very complex. with regard to working in a context of chronic insecurity (other than repression) several counterparts of ICCO have experienced problems. According to ASONOG staff there is now communities that are ‘against ASONOG’ and in favour of the mining company. but also because it has linked up with local governments. econdly. the high levels of clientalism. struggles about access to resources such as land or raw materials can create enormous problems to GROs and NGOs. it started to work on plans of institutional safety. The mining company also has its own security company that follows staff of ASONOG when at work. This led to a struggle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of local inhabitants.
like cars passing by while drivers shouted slogans against the Resistance Front. In March 2010. In this case Red Comal chose to stall its activities in this region. the supermarket of Red Comal in its hometown Siguatepeque was robbed three times in a row. The office of AA was recently searched and equipment was stolen. Furthermore. NGOs (such as ICCO partner OCDIH ) working in zones were narco trade has increased. the third field that we discuss. As a result of the raid.105 Red Comal reports problems in several parts of the country where criminal groups attacked transports of the organisations – such as the region around Choluteca near Nicaragua. Their AA carnets – that were introduced by AA because ID cards are extremely expensive . Red Comal was also suspected of obstructing the elections of 28 November 2009. reports that these gangs accepted the organisation. solar panels. but more frequently they are simply not trusted by criminal networks and have been asked or forced to leave the area. This implies that economic success of one association can lead to jealousy and restrictive actions of others. A former youth worker in San Pedro Sula told that he was shot in his leg by a person belonging to a gang of car traders thus forcing him to stop working in this part of town.org. taking away computers. 23 maart 2010. since this might interfere with the working relations it has with different government agencies. its premises nearby the town of Siguatepec were used for meetings and protestors against the coup were given shelter. An important reason for the acceptance is the focus of Arte y Accion on artistic activities as a way of self-realisation and self-respect. Trinidad Sanchez. But when it organised 105 106 See Red Comals website http://www. and money of the organisation. Interestingly.106 Although Red Comal was highly upset about this.redcomal. ICCO partner Arte y Acción. Siguatepeque. Red Comal also experienced problems as a result of the coup. as is the case with Red Comal . In some cases the narco traders have started to offer services or projects themselves. Crime creates particular problems for organisations working in the field of commercialisation. Red Comal was also concerned about its reputation in town. This is generally seen as a warning towards the organisation and frightens possible landlords. experience acceptance problems of local traders. working with youth in marginalized areas of Tegucigalpa with a strong presence of youth gangs.00 AM at night – something they never did before. NGOs can generally only operate in these areas when they keep a very low profile. After the coup. Also the military from Siguatepeque trained in front of the premises of Red Comal at 1. it decided not to make any claims to the state. For instance.saved them. Red Comal experiences some intimidations. Authors interview. two young members of AA visiting a market were beaten up by police officers that assumed that they were criminals. it is suspected that people jealous of Red Comals economic success may have been behind it. AA has experienced problems as a result of advocating against the coup.an association of small producers working for the commercialisation of products of its members. Although the perpetrators were never arrested.groups impeding the work of NGOs. 56 .hn/ According to the director of Red Comal the lawyer of the Fiscalia came 45 minutes later. Furthermore. Almost immediately after the coup took place Red Comal became part of the Resistance Front and provided assistance to the movement. which was reasons for 45 military of the local ‘batallon ingenieros’ to occupy the premises of the organisations. The risks of Arte & Acción (AA) lie outside the neighbourhood. AA has also been accused by the ministry of G&J for being a fake NGO (‘NGO de maletin’).
In the view of the director of CNTC ‘Mel’ was the first president who really took the concerns of the CTNC serious and tried to help CNTC.109 The de facto government of Roberto Micheletti was also a direct threat to COFEMUN since the new government strongly expressed conservative values. The threats and patrols intensified in the period after the coup. 25 March 2010. a peasant union and COFEMUN. Staff reported the interception of their telephones while the kindergarten across the street was apparently evacuated and occupied by two military. Red Comal actively supported the Resistence Front. and the morning after pill) are extremely sensitive issues in Honduran society and have raised strong reactions by conservative forces in society and in Congress. The ‘cancilleria de la republica’ under Micheletti. 57 .107 Both organisations are typical claim-making organisations (claiming land rights and women’s rights respectively) that traditionally have had a rather tense relationship with (at least a part of) the political establishment. the organisation didn’t submit a complaint against the raid in its premises. which made Red Comal more cautious. And although Red Comal was against elections of November 2009. 109 Authors interview COFEMUN. because this might backfire on its relation with the government. Tegucigalpa.its yearly market a week later. since the topics that it stands for (including the right of abortion. and president Zelaya as a womaniser.108 Zelaya’s support for the cause of COFEMUN was seen as a ‘triumph against conservatism’ in Honduras and this led to a strong identification of COFEMUN with the political project of president Zelaya. Thus. For COFEMUN this was important. Also CNTC . Representatives of both organisations also mentioned a sea change in the working relations with the administration of president Zelaya that received them ‘with open arms’. So COFEMUN was also involved in the organisation of the referendum (consulta popular). Other organizations were more heavily affected by the coup. who in May 2009 had charged the director of COFEMUN who had argued that 107 108 See http://www. and took a low profile in its relations with the (local) government.an organisation that has been claiming land rights for the past two decades -maintained a close relationship with president Zelaya. Both CNTC and COFEMUN were actively involved in the protests against the coup. The coup had led to a national economic crisis that also affected Red Comal. was Martha Lorena Alvarado. COFEMUN had experienced restrictions before. As to ICCO’s partners this was particularly the case with CNTC. A further deterioration of this relationship might lead to more economic losses.cofemun. the newly elected mayor (PN) says he wants to establish contact with RC. because COFEMUN is seen by many as a principled and radical feminist organisation. criminalisation and staff had experiences of armoured cars following or watching them and of anonymous threats (telephone and mail). a feminist organisation promoting the rights of women. For the staff of COFEMUN the coup had been unimaginable (‘we had never expected this’) and so was the repression that followed the coup. Since its foundation the organisation had to deal with different kinds of stigmatisation. the public attended and was positive about Red Comal. For instance. with an estimated 40% drop in its turnover.org/ The close relationship between COFEMUN and president Zelaya was also interesting. Red Comal paid a price for speaking out against the coup. According to staff of COFEMUN the children returned and the military were removed after the Lobo administration took office.
These examples show that NGOs and GROs that spoke out against the coup suffered different kinds of restrictions. 113 See Muriel Soy. Of particular concern is the region of Bajo Aguan where protracted conflicts about land tenure have created an explosive situation. 13 April 2010. WOLA alarmed at militarization of Bajo Aguan. In March 2010. led to an extreme feeling of vulnerability and staff felt no longer at ease in their own office.com and MUCA’s site http://movimientomuca. This led to new measures: staff no longer left the office alone. Mujeres de la Resistencia.blogspot. ranging from arrest warrants of local leaders115 and stigmatisation to a combination of all these restrictions with a clear trend towards more repression. Las mas amenazadas en los ultimos dias.org 116 See WOLA. also part of the Resistance Front). 3 March 2010. 2010.111 There is a complex conflict about land titles in this region.wola.com/ 115 See Fian. see next section).110 Lorena Alvarado had called COFEMUN a ‘dangerous organisation’. The director left the country for a while. http://www. www. using the expertise of organisations in Guatemala (notably SEDEM.com 114 See also hondurashumanrights.fian. Police Trained to Commit Illegal Acts while Billy Joya Training Paramilitaries in Colon. The direct threats to staff of COFEMUN in combination with the absence of the rule of law.113In 2001 the Movimiento Unido Campesino del Aguan (MUCA) was organised. online available at http://ellibertador. Staff of the organisation also reported that it felt rather unprepared to these severe restrictions.html 111 Authors interview Victor Meza.org 58 . A law in the early 1990s aiming to modernize agriculture in Honduras led to the acquisition of a large number of cooperatives planning African palm in the region and a de facto reversal of the land reform programme of the 1960s.wordpress.the Lorena Alvarado was ‘against human rights. and local leaders had reached an agreement with president Zelaya on June 12. that they were still followed by cars and received threats. 2009. and product of a land reform of the early 1960s.116 The militarisation of the region was already ongoing and is a typical example of a mix of public and private efforts (military. This coincides with the impression that both during and after the coup repression is focused on these groups and individuals that play an active role in the Resistance Front. 112 These cooperatives were formed in the early 1970s. and didn’t work until late in the day. The coup made an end to this process and MUCA occupied farms to which they claim to hold 110 See Dina Meza. This might lead to the militarisation and escalation of local conflicts. COFEMUN staff still felt extremely vulnerable and absolutely not safe.hn/Nacional/3840. In March and April 2010 militarisation of the region is reported. and have been contested by peasant organisations that claim their lands back. In the past ten years these organisations have been confronted with all kinds of restrictions mentioned in our model. the police and private security agencies will not stop these activities. police and private security forces). 2005. 25 March 2010. Honduras: Criminalisation of agrarian reform activists in Bajo Aguan. This repression has continued since the Lobo-administration took office and it is feared that groups within the (military) intelligence services.114CNTC – a partner of ICCO also has a presence in this zone.112 The way the new owners – the powerful businessmen René Morales and Miguel Facussé – acquired the lands of 29 cooperatives in the late 1990s has been highly controversial.wordpress. ICCO’s network on PDFED (of which COFEMUN is a member) prepared workshops in Honduras on human rights defenders. Tegucigalpa. Local leaders have been harassed or killed (MUCA members. Staff reported that telephone lines were still intercepted. on http://hondurashumanrights. Several governments have sought to solve the conflicts in the region.
Staff developed protocols of how to deal with the situation. however. Many of these groups were also taken by surprise by the new wave of repression and reacted in an ad-hoc manner to the new threats.com 59 . it was decided to never arrive and leave the offices of their organisations alone. However. criticisms that some people that fled could have stayed in the country. However. Also almost 117 See Muriel Soy. is not only how to respond to restricting political space. went into hiding (or stayed in different places) and a number of them left the country for a period of time. the groups that actively spoke out against the coup. Different kinds of measures were taken. changed this situation dramatically. the need for these kinds of response strategies were less clear in the case of Honduras. This is not to say that there were no problems with regard to the political space of NGOs and GROs in Honduras. but also of how to deal with an extremely polarised political situation which sharply contrasts with the practices of dialogue and consensus building so much promoted and sought by international donors and local organisations in the past decades. For instance. This has led to a new and intense campaign of stigmatization (accusations of presence and links with guerrilla armies) and a wave of repression and human rights violations. Police Trained to Commit Illegal Acts while Billy Joya Training Paramilitaries in Colon. by taking a lower profile or staying in different houses at night. genocide and ongoing repression by both state and non-state actors. The question for NGOs and GROs in Honduras. In the aftermath of the coup. Human rights organisations from Guatemala (among them counterparts of ICCO) have offered training sessions for counterparts in Honduras. as mentioned. therefore. while staff members phoned each other several times a day to see if they were safe. Whereas in Guatemala a relatively strong human rights movement took shape as a result of decades of civil war. As mentioned. There were local level conflicts about land titles and mining that on occasions became extremely polarised – a phenomenon that we see in all the cases in this study. 2010. There clearly is a need for local organisations systematize their experience and have a discussion about the do’s and don’t in these kinds of crisis situations. The coup. there are several initiatives of organisations providing training and advice. This also raised some discussion about ‘staying or leaving’. Directors and also staff members of the organisations that were most visible in the protest. for instance. about ‘when to come to back’ and how and to what extend to support those persons that decide to ask for political asylum elsewhere. the coup surprised many people and in these volatile situations it is extremely difficult to make assessments about the security situation. experienced serious restrictions. This was even the case in the periods during and after the coup. although in this period many organisations that were critical of the coup reconsidered their relationship with the government.117 Responses In general.legal rights. There were. on http://hondurashumanrights. But the national political context changed in such a way that these local level conflicts became part of national processes of polarisation. the response capacity in Honduras to the restrictions experienced by different kinds of organisations is weaker than in Guatemala.wordpress. in general GROs and NGOs in Honduras are seen as relatively free to undertake their activities.
118 Other international NGOs criticised the coup and the human rights violations. There were several reactions. that combines the expertise of different organisations. Sedem) decided to organise a fact-finding mission to Honduras. but suspended their work and waited for what would happen. In their view the position of the US and the OAS was flawed. they didn’t openly pronounce against the coup. because local members of the NGO had different viewpoints about the coup. since there is a need for a coordinated and structured monitoring system of human rights violations. A number of NGOs reacted cautiously. The first task of such a system is to monitor and to share information with national and international actors. as was the case with DanChurchAid and the Mennonite Church. As a result of the coup. ICCO staff at the headquarters in Utrecht played an important role in lobbying for arrested or disappeared members of their partner organisations. It is also important that the tasks of monitoring are decoupled from political influences and agendas. For ICCO the situation was particularly complex. but SNV noted that it was not up to them to decide whether this was a coup or a presidential succession. making clear that in their opinion the rules of the game should be respected. For SNV this was reason to freeze its activities and wait until the problems were solved. International NGOs found themselves in a rather difficult situation and had problems to escape the polarised situation in Honduras. Over the past years. local organisations have started to take more proactive action. In a number of cases it was the international headquarters that criticised the coup. a number human rights organisations from Guatemala (Udefegua. the national branches of NGOs were seen by more radical organisations as not belligerent enough in a period when in their view there was no other choice than being in favour or against the coup. and so was the position of a large number of international NGOs. teleconference Tegucigalpa/Managua. The fact that the international branches of organisations responded enabled local organisations to keep a lower profile. The strong international pressure surprised the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti. In the face of a failing judicial system in Honduras and the politicisation of its tasks to monitor human rights offences. This is particularly the case with the six main human rights organisations in the country that started conversations about a common platform. International actors have played an important role in the period during the coup. For CASM (the NGO of the Mennonite Church) this was all too necessary. those organisations monitoring human rights offences should make information public and take a stance against all violations of human rights. 24 March 2010. ‘SNV is not a referee’. This is important. 60 . Thus. but keep a distance from (party) political activities. of course. 118 Authors interview. SNV Netherlands is a case in point. this organisation looks for new markets for small producers and in that framework it had established contacts with national businesses that in a number of cases supported the coup. and although it didn’t lead to a negotiated settlement (and the return of Emanuel Zelaya).immediately after the coup. On the one hand. A problem was. In other cases. there is a need for a nongovernmental system. that the very nature of and the application of the rules of the game were at stake. It is interesting to note that Honduran organisations (including NGOs) that sympathised and participated in the Resistance Front were quite critical about the position of the international response. it probably played an important role in the organisation of the elections as scheduled. René van der Poel.
Apart from this. The Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico (CIFCA) organised a factfinding mission to Central America. women’s groups and the LGBT community have traditionally experienced problems. eventually leading to the coup d’état. it is fair to say that the combined international attention for Honduras has been of great importance in the transition from the de facto government to the newly elected government of president Lobo. In this regard there is an extremely worrisome and ongoing trend of targeted repression and criminalisation of NGOs and social movements that pronounce themselves against the coup 61 . like ICCO. grassroots organisations) experience problems that are the result of the security situation. like the US) to deal in a more fundamental way with the crisis in Honduras. Some international NGOs supported activities of the Resistance Front. the newly established regional office of ICCO in Managua and the Central American board representing ICCO partners in the isthmus kept a lower profile. safe or create? Conclusions & Recommendations In Honduras there has historically been a relative tolerance vis-à-vis the work of NGOs. however. despite the turbulence and chaos that many NGOs and grassroots organisations experienced and the restrictions that this caused with regard to their operational space. they were still able to work. On the other hand. This raises questions about the ways ICCO will position itself in these kinds of situations in the future. It was. all societal groups (NGOs. other international NGOs and organisations were more critical and closer to the agenda of the Resistance Front. Political space in Honduras has narrowed and the human rights violations have increased. social movements. Nevertheless. NGOs that experienced most problems in their operational space were those claiming access to particular resources (such as land) or asking for a different use of resources (such as mines). The increasing polarisation that took place as of 2008 as a result of the political reforms and alliances of the Zelaya administration deeply affected the work and operational space of NGOs. Yet. It was criticised by some for not talking with representatives of the government. The fact that this government is still not recognised as legitimate by the Resistance Front shows the deep divisions in Honduras as well as the limited capacities of the international community (especially those with more power and resources. Furthermore. This was also due to the fact that the members of the board did not reach consensus about the developments in Honduras. there also is the question of what priorities there are with regard to civil society strengthening. These actions were the result of initiatives of ICCO staff and there were no protocols with regard to these kinds of situations. like in Guatemala. especially those NGOs that pronounced themselves against the coup that faced repression and intimidation. In the ensuing political twists the fragile Honduran democracy was put to the test.ICCO worked closely together with the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica and with the ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague. What kind of civil society do international NGOs want to support? How do international organisations (want to) relate to the political opposition of the Resistance Front? Which political spaces do international organisations want to use. In the period until the coup d’état of 28 June 2009. there clearly is a new situation in Honduras that should have consequences on their strategy. Nevertheless. For international NGOs. Apart from the need to support initiatives to monitor human rights violations.
Which strategies were successful. International NGOs. there is the question of what can (and should) be learned from almost two decades of civil society strengthening in Honduras. Parallel to the process of growing political polarisation. As of March 2010 Honduran NGOs were in the process of discussing the possibilities and options to cooperate. Honduran NGOs were hardly prepared for the problems that they faced. where historically the operational of NGOs has been far less stable than in Honduras. civil society has become more divided and polarised as well. Firstly. staff of Guatemalan NGOs was very important in supporting their Honduran colleagues. while the newly established regional office took a lower profile. Two topics are particularly important for ICCO and for other international NGOs in the period after the coup. Secondly. Before and after the coup a cleavage became visible between those ‘supporting’ or rejecting the coup. Interestingly. which failed? And what are the lessons for the new situation in Honduras? 62 . and of which most are organised in or sympathise with the Resistance Front. played an important role in the period after the coup. The possibilities to take in a ‘middle position’ have diminished and this has also affected the NGO sector. there seems to be a need for further improvement of the capacity to monitor the human rights situation. and many groups are still hesitant as to the possibilities to cooperate with the new government. like ICCO HQ in the Netherlands. Trust between (and sometimes within) NGOs has diminished.and the new regime. Contrary to Guatemala.
His own experiences in the Philippine NGO sector proved invaluable throughout the research. 2007:179). Political context The Philippines have been a Spanish and American colony retaining many influences from those periods. however. Some organizations. The military. Philippines.120 He was toppled in the People Power Uprising (also known as EDSA I). due to time constraints we were not able to achieve interviews with NGOs who are aligned with the extreme left. People are relieved that Gloria Arroyo has stepped down and maintain hopes for actual changes. criminalization and killings. ICCO partners are indicated in bold. 2010. The Philippines – Strategic manoeuvring in the available space Introduction Analysts of Philippine society all raise red flags as they contemplate the current state of the democracy. 63 . In this chapter we analyse whether and how NGOs are affected by the worrisome trends that these analysts observe.119 Recent elections in May 2010 brought to power Noynoy Aquino who was a favourite among many of the NGOs that we interviewed. From 1972 until 1986. 2007. 2009). were interviewed in Davao City. 120 Regarding the democratic qualities of the Marcos regime. many NGOs are not affected by the severe threats posed by intimidation.g. Cory Aquino gained power in 1986 immediately issuing a new Constitution along with various other reforms. Non-ICCO organizations were chosen to complement the picture of the Philippine NGO sector. as well as with sociology Professor Randy David and founder of the Institute for Popular Democracy Ed de la Torre as analysts of the current political context. Ed de la Torre reported Marcos to have said famously “I already allowed you to vote. Hutchcroft. The interviews were conducted from 21-27 March. however. Tiwana for example wrote that the Philippines currently is “one of the most dangerous places in which to be civil society activist” (2009) and the Asian Human Rights Commission claimed that “to be an activist is to be threatened and risk being killed” (2008:8). It gained independence from the United States in 1946. the freedoms for civil society. The NGOs that we have spoken with do represent fairly the wide spectrum of the Philippine NGOs. Most of the organizations have an office in Manila and were interviewed there. However. a concept which still has an important meaning in the Philippines today and for civil society in particular. We identify the sectors that are affected and the way in which different restrictions interact to limit their operational space. I would like to thank Arsenio García for his tireless and engaged work on this project as he prepared our visit and the interviews as well as contributed to this chapter. Our assessment is that those trends indeed exist and affect a significant number of NGOs. now you also want to be counted?” 121 The Mendiola massacre and the assassination of labor leaders (such as attorney Rolando Olalia) and other civil society leaders (for example Lean Alejandro) in 1987 were the results of the military’s attempt to take back their share of governance with the civil authorities. President Marcos ruled the Philippines under a regime of martial law. This chapter is based on interviews with ICCO-partners and other NGOs in the Philippines. and the actual role of civil society in defending its space and asserting its claims effectively (e.121 119 In addition to these interviews with NGOs. which are operating in Mindanao. still challenged Aquino in five coup attempts (Estifania Co & Neama. Tiwana. We also pay attention to the strategies that NGOs have developed to open up and use the available space. we also spoke with the Dutch embassy to discuss their activities in relation to the Philippine NGO sector.4.
2009). 2006). This explains that at this moment. In 2005. Arroyo has used her executive power to issue the controversial Executive Order 464. Estifania Co & Neame observe that this has pushed many civil society groups from engagement with the government to a more “resistance mode” (2007:183). The Philippines currently have a population of 88.org/en/indicators/161. He was succeeded in 1998 by former movie-star Joseph Estrada. Her presidency has been criticized harshly by some of the NGOs we interviewed. with fifteen percent of the population living on less than US$1 a day (UNICEF Report in: OMCT. In February 2006 Arroyo announced a brief period of “state of emergency” in order to prevent a perceived coup. Senator René Saguisag expresses his concern for what this means for the current state of Philippine democracy: “the House is gone.9.57 million inhabitants (FIAN.122According to the World Bank. Corruption and a tendency to ignore the rule of law characterize her term. It’s totally under the Executive wings. 2009:68. Bello et al point out that between 1990-2005. who was disposed in 2001 in a second People Power uprising (EDSA II) due to corruption scandals. It has been criticized however. Poverty is widespread and the distribution of income highly unequal.undp.60 125 This Executive Order was withdrawn again in March 2008 (Freedom House 2009). In comparison. Our democratic institutions 122 123 ‘Banyan’ in: Economist 13-19 February 2010. The Gini-index from the Human Development Report 2009 rates the Philippines at 44. 2008). 2007:187). She was accused of having rigged the 2004 elections.html.125 This Executive Order has for example blocked the inquiries about the alleged rigging of the 2004 elections and the inquiry about the extraordinary number of extrajudicial killings (Estifania Co & Neame. p.123Some analysts claimed that more than 50% of the private assets are controlled by only fifteen extended families (Petras and Eastman-Abaya. The Senate is struggling to check and to assert itself as an institution.7 124 ‘Banyan’ in: Economist 13-19 February 2010.60 http://hdrstats. 2009:6). Encarnacion Tadem. 2008:7). one in ten Filipinos work abroad and the money they send home constitutes more than 10% of the GDP. the Philippines have the highest levels of income inequality in Asia (OMCT. characterized as a populist. which hampers the ability of Congress to oversee the administration by putting up hurdles for its investigative committees.124 Gloria Arroyo (2001 – 2010) replaced Estrada in 2001 and has been widely criticized for her lack of democratic practices. 2008:5). p. The Philippines have a higher proportion of extreme poor than in China or Vietnam. 2007:183). 2007:180). Indonesia 39. 2009:245.4 and Guatemala 53. economic growth in the Philippines has been the second lowest in Southeast Asia (2009:xvi). 2006). that the shift by the military leadership from one side to the other was more decisive for the power change than the people’s outrage (ibid. 2006). the Netherlands rates 30. Former general Fidel Ramos followed Aquino in 1992 and his regime is characterized by broad-based coalition-building (Estifania Co & Neame. Various analysts have commented on the Philippine’s strong commitment to the neoliberal model (Quinsaat. but an impeachment process failed (Freedom House.0. yearly debt payments exceeded 30% of the governmental budget (Petras and EastmanAbaya.Economic policy in this time was dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank favoring an export-oriented development policy and liberalization (Encarnacion Tadem. Apart from the unequal distribution. Petras and EastmanAbaya. economic growth itself has been faltering. leading Bello et al to blame the debt as one of the main factors for the stagnating economy (2009:xxvi). 64 .
are at stake. EO 464, Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), CPR, Proclamation 1017 are all threatening the democratic institutions” (cited in: Estifania Co & Neame, 2007:189). Other analysts seem to confirm this assessment of the current state of Philippine democracy. Freedom House has degraded its rating of the Philippine democracy because of the prevalence of political violence before elections, reports of cheating and intimidation, electoral fraud, a discredited electoral commission, and coup attempts (Freedom House 2009). Hutchcroft qualifies the Philippine democracy as “increasingly dysfunctional” (2007:2). Philippine politics has traditionally been described with reference to a patron-client model (emphasizing the importance of personal relations), whereas since the fall of Marcos the socalled “elite democracy” has been the dominant analytical framework (claiming that the system is essentially run by a few elite families) (Quimpo 2008:6). Analysts seem to agree that the Philippines are a weak state, where elites use the state for their own interests (Miranda and Rivera in: Quimpo, 2008:37, for similar assertions see also Lopez Wui, 2009:186).126 Quimpo lists some of the qualifications that analysts have given Philippine democracy during the 90s, such as “oligarchic democracy” and “low-intensity democracy” (2008:21), while Hutchcroft talks about “elite dominance and institutional weakness” (2007:1). The International Crisis Group has qualified the Philippines as the weakest state in the region (in: Hutchcroft, 2007:15), with the Economist noting in February 2010 that as the state receives less than 14% of its GDP in taxes, it is set up for being weak.127 Estifania Co & Neame paint a bleak picture of the Philippine judicial system, with low public confidence in the police, a very slow pace of judicial proceedings and a climate of impunity (2007:194-195). Similarly, Freedom House reports of a backlog of more than 800,000 cases in the court system, while indicating that low pay encourages rampant corruption (2009). The military retains considerable influence over political life, specifically in its efforts to destroy the communist insurgency. Still, the military is under civilian control, leading Hutchcroft to characterize the problem with the military influence as more an issue of “military adventurism rather than military dominance” (2007:20). Corruption is widespread in the Philippines and is seen as one of the characteristics of its weak state, due to the low conviction-rate of those accused of corruption (Lopez Qui, 2009:186). A survey conducted by the Asian Development Bank in 2003 showed that the Philippines came second after Bangladesh as the most corrupt of 102 countries (Lopez Wui, 2009:185). Transparency International now rates the Philippines at 139 of 180 countries (Corruption Perception Index, 2009). An important threat to the democratic institutions is the disturbing number of killings of journalists, combined with libel suits filed by officials who get exposed in the media file (Hutchcroft 2007:9; ISIS International, 2007:11; Freedom House, 2009).128 32 reporters were killed between 1991 and 2006; less than 10% of the cases leading to convictions. After Iraq, the Philippines are the second-most dangerous country for journalists129, especially for those
This is echoed by other scholars who blame the elite families for weakening the state as they “privatiz*e+ public resources” (McCoy in: Quimpo 2008:38).
127‘Banyan’ in: Economist 13-19 February 2010, p.60 128
Hutchcroft writes that the media are largely in private ownership and otherwise unburdened by government intervention (2007:8). 129 Reporters without Borders has declared the Philippines to be the most dangerous country for journalists after Iraq (Hutchcroft 2007:8). Another source attributes this statement to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 65
reporting on corruption and with anti-government critique. During the brief 2006 state of emergency, the offices of the Daily Tribune were occupied, while statements were issued that “the press could only remain free if it acted ‘responsibly’”, which was interpreted as a “call for self-censorship” (Estifania Co & Neame, 2007:187). Further, the spouse of Arroyo has filed libel cases against 43 journalists, which constitutes a criminal charge (ibid, 2007:188). The media and access to information in general are fundamental for democracy and the effective use of operational space for NGOs. Many NGOs need information to control the government in its policies of agrarian reform and mining, as well as to hold it accountable for corruption and human rights abuses.130 In this light, it is important to note that a proposed Freedom of Information Act is still stalling in Congress (Estifania Co & Neame, 2007:188).131 Two armed conflicts challenge the Philippine government: the communist insurgency and the Muslim independence claims in Mindanao. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was founded on December 26, 1968. The CPP has an armed group, the New People’s Army (NPA) and a civil society group, the National Democratic Front (NDF) and claims to “*a+dvance and complete the national-democratic revolution and pursue the socialist revolution.”132 After 1986 there has been a split between a “reaffirmist” (currently in control of the CPP) and “rejectionist” bloc (dispersed over various civil society groups). This split was characterized among other things by disagreement about the continued primacy of the armed struggle (Encarnacion Tadem, 2009:7/225). The Anti-subversion Law, that had criminalized being a member of a communist organization, was repealed during the Ramos administration in 1992133 and on 6 September 2007, Gloria Arroyo signed the Amnesty Proclamation 1377 granting amnesty with respect to specific crimes for communist armed groups.134 At the same time, the military is engaged in a fierce counterinsurgency battle against the communist rebels. Currently, there are about 7,160 fighters and a communist presence throughout the entire Philippines. Government officials consider the CPP/NPA/NDF the “most potent threat” to national security (Alston, 2008:7).135
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20091126-238554/Maguindanao-massacre-worst-everfor-journalists 130 The Anti-Mining Coalition ATM complained about the lack of transparency in this respect for example with regards to mining applications by corporations. In order to find this information, they were being sent around or simply did not receive an answer. In the end, they had to photocopy the documents themselves. Interview with author, 26 March 2010, Manila 131 In this regard, it should be noted that English is still used for much public debate and also for example in the entire legal system. Given that a big part of the population does not speak English, this doesn’t contribute to broad inclusion into democratic institutions. 132 Website National Democratic Front of the Philippines, available at [accessed 22 June 2010]: http://ndfp.net/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26&Itemid=33 133 Rene V. Sarmiento (2005), ‘Facilitating dialogue with armed insurgents in the Philippines’ at conciliation resources, athttp://www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/engaging-groups/facilitating-dialogue-philippines.phpv [accessed 1 June 2010] 134 Dalangin-Fernandez, Lira. 2007. ‘Arroyo signs amnesty proclamation for communists’ in: Inquirer.Net, 9 July 2007, available at [accessed 22 June 2010]: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/2007090787233/%28UPDATE%29_Arroyo_signs_amnesty_proclamation_for_communists 135 It should be noted that whereas the NPA is the strongest, there are other left armed groups active, such as the MLPP/RHB (Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines/Revolutionary People’s Army) and the RPM-P/RPA-ABB (Revolutionary Workers Party of the Philippines / Revolutionary Proletarian Army / Alex Boncayao Brigade). 66
Continued marginalization of Muslims in Mindanao under Spanish colonial rule and later under US domination, have led Mindanao Muslims to demand self-determination. High levels of poverty in Mindanao and the richness of natural resources are other factors in the conflict (OMCT, 2008:13-14). Between 1972 and 1976 there was a full blown war between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).136 In 1978, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) split from the MNLF and is currently the biggest secessionist group in Mindanao (Hutchcroft, 2007:14). In 1996, the government reached a peace agreement with the MNLF, however, fighting by the MILF continued. In 2008, peace negotiations between the Arroyo government and the MILF broke down, leading to the worst violence since 2003, displacing 600,000 people from their homes (Freedom House, 2009). The MILF currently has about 11,770 fighters (Alston, 2008:7). Earlier agreements have established the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but one of the topics of the 2008 negotiations was a possible expansion of this territory. The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is another important group, which has allegedly been responsible for various bombings resulting in many civilian casualties (HRW, 2007).137 Until 2003, there appeared to have been links between MILF and the radical Islamic organization Jemaah Islamiyah. Since then, the MILF has denounced violence against civilians and specifically attacks by the ASG and the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), another violent Islamist group. The government, however, still holds that there are links between elements of the MILF and JI/ASG/RSM (HRW, 2007:24-25). The Arroyo administration developed strong ties with the US government and adopted the ‘War on Terror’ discourse. This led to an increase of US military assistance and in early 2003 then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz called the Philippines the “second front in the War on Terror” (Petras and Eastman-Abaya, 2006). Assistance from the United States has helped the Philippines to capture or kill several ASG and RSM top leaders (HRW, 2007:24-25). It is suggested that the US government is also assisting in the struggle against the NPA (Petras and Eastman-Abaya, 2006). It is clear that the Philippine political context is challenged on many fronts at this moment. Generally, however, NGOs are not in any way disturbed by the state and can operate freely, maybe even due to state weakness. Because of the above-mentioned challenges, it is, however, difficult to be effective in their claim-making, and this was reflected in our interviews. In addition, because of the lack of a strong state, non-state actors can pose restrictions on NGOs. In the next section we will discuss the specific characteristics of the Philippine civil society and its NGOs. Civil society and NGOs Filipino civil society is known for being one of the most vibrant in the world. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission reported 80,000 non-profit organizations in its registry (CODE-NGO, 2007:21). Karina David (in: Soledad, no year) cites estimates of more than a
In 1976 the Tripoli Agreement was signed by the MNLF and Marcos, ending the war in exchange for autonomy of 13 provinces, however, disagreement about the implementation led to a continuation of the war (Panagtigum, 2008:2/8). 137 Between 2000 and 2007 there have been more than 1,700 casualties in bombings by violent Islamist groups (HRW, 2007:24-25). 67
however. Declaration of Principles and State Policies). even these secular organizations somewhat withdrew from public life. 2008:20). The period following the assassination of Ninoy Aquino (1983) saw a resurgence of civil society activity. accredited people’s organizations and other people’s organizations (Code-NGO. although with much control and repression. Ed de la Torre. as people tend to rely on foreign funds and the attitude of NGOs is that “the government is lousy. or sectorial organizations that promote the welfare of the nation” (Section 23. the nongovernmental organizations shall choose from among themselves their representatives to said councils. such as: “The State shall encourage nongovernmental. states: “Representation of Non-Governmental Organizations. such as organizations providing occasional basic services to the poor like educational scholarships. 139 Interview with author.”139 He therefore argues that civil society has expanded at the cost of the meaning of citizenship.000 -490. the Philippine NGO sector has received a legitimate place in the structure of Philippine politics. NGOs. instead of learning what it means to be citizens and demand action from the government. Before the regime of President Marcos. 2007:180/192). Section 108. this commitment to NGO participation was institutionalized in the Local Government Code. only traditional professional service delivery NGOs were present. there were only the church-backed institutions that were able to operate. medical missions. Article II. points to the downside of the thriving NGO sector. There were underground organizations which fought against the regime. In the Constitution. The local sanggunian concerned shall accredit nongovernmental organizations subject to such criteria as may be provided by law. including the not-registered NGOs. Since 1986. and soup kitchens. including non-stock non-profit corporations. During martial law. 2007:178). 2007:14). not surprising maybe as 85% of the people in the Philippines is identified as Roman Catholic (Hutchcroft. so we will do it with foreign funds. Consequently. 22 March 2010. People now just expect NGOs to do things. which was passed in 1991.Within a period of sixty (60) days from the start of organization of local development councils. the local government code and various other legislative acts. It is estimated that the total income of the NGO sector is 12. 2007:191). Manila 140 Title 6 of the Code. The church traditionally has had a lot of influence in the Philippines and still retains much of this influence today (Estifania Co & Neame. Many of today’s civil society formations have their origins in the period of martial law resistance (Estifania Co & Neame. 138 Estimates reported in an assessment of the non-profit sector range between 249. These services were provided by church related organizations. 2007:33).” 68 . NGOs are specifically mentioned to give them an official role in the process of decisionmaking regarding issues at the local level. Resistance by NGOs to the Marcos regime gave the term “NGO” widespread legitimacy in the Philippines (CODE-NGO. and secular non-profit organizations like the Rotary Club. Kiwanis and the Lions’ Club.138 There is a saying that for every ten Filipinos. community-based. and bilateral and multilateral institutions (CODE-NGO.000 organizations. 2008:17). there are eleven organizations.140The Local Government Code of 1991 has been credited with opening up space for civil society engagement with many local governments and giving credibility or influence to various NGOs and people’s organizations (Estifania Co & Neame. and provided for an “accreditation” process enabling NGOs to take a seat in advisory local development councils. . with 38 per cent of that coming from foreign foundations.hundred thousand. but on the above-ground level.3 billion Pounds. cooperatives.
22 March 2010. Davao City 69 . The military suspects many of these ideologically oriented NGOs to be front organizations for 141 142 Interview with PhilNET. as people had the perception that politically everything was in order and this was the time to help the new government in delivering basic services. Also the international perception was that the Philippines already had an organized citizenry and needed more assistance in basic services. This bloc is composed of the rest of the rejectionists. for example regarding natural resources. indigenous communities claiming their ancestral land ownership. where important key leaders mobilize the community members. 25 March 2010. made her lose much civil society support. Political advocacy was no longer viewed as needed. many new NGOs emerged. In our interviews. All NGOs working in that sector reported a lack of funding for “community organizing. rather than to political organizing and claim-making as they used to provide funding for. Various professional NGOs emphasized the importance of mobilized and committed communities in the process of claim-making. thus creating a competition with local NGOs. the independent socialists. The first bloc is aligned with the Reaffirmist National Democratic Movement which has links with the CPP/NPA/NDF. 2009:226).”142 It is suggested. This led many international aid organizations to divert their funds to socio-economic programs. Initially. funding for Philippine NGOs has steadily declined and across the board. along with many micro-finance institutions and NGOs assisting communities and target groups with socioeconomic projects and training on entrepreneurship. a small but significant part of the NGOs continues to link their work to a political agenda. NGOs pursuing a gender agenda. Most of the new NGOs were involved in service delivery. such as peasant groups claiming ownership to lands. Three ideological blocs that are still recognizable today can be identified.” The secretary general of Pakisama even commented that “only ICCO has maintained support for organizing work for the implementation of agrarian reform in the country. Manila Interview with author. In addition. Still. NGOs reported their struggle to find funding. which closed off opportunities for engagement (2007:179). 2007:36). and NGOs concentrating their advocacy on ecological issues. A third bloc works together around the multiideological center Akbayan or the Citizens’ Action Party. A second bloc is aligned with the Rejectionist National Democratic Movement. many NGOs cooperated with the new government. This changed dramatically after the turn to democracy in 1986.” These are membership organizations usually rooted in local communities in rural areas. entrepreneurs. but Estifania Co & Neame note. the cooperative sector also grew tremendously during this period. The mushrooming of NGOs after 1986 had a negative side effect as politicians. that during martial law about eighty percent of the social movements were dominated by the CPP/NPA/NDF (Encarnacion Tadem.141 Professional NGOs in the Philippines generally work in support of what we have called “grassroots NGOs” and what in the Philippines is called “people’s organizations. NGO staff also reported a current tendency of international NGOs to set up their own projects and recruit people from local NGOs. that the compromises Aquino made in the early years of her term on the issues of agrarian reform and international debt.After the Marcos regime was ousted. NGOs reported that since 1986. and even government units set up NGOs to attract funding (CODE-NGO. now that the Philippines were a “democracy” (Encarnacion Tadem. 2009:223). and the progressive wing of the social democrats.
various NGOs find it hard to turn the available opportunities into effective advocacy. church workers. In addition. but not one is aligned with the bloc connected with the CPP/NPA/NDF. Dependent on who does the counting. the majority from the non-ideological side. secondly. NGOs operating in isolated areas afflicted by armed rebellion. the Communist Party (CPP) and its armed wing. in this section we turn to those policies and actions that influence the operational space. journalists. analysing the nature of these killings and the governmental possibilities for an adequate response. the armed conflicts and the military counterinsurgency create problems for those NGOs that operate in affected areas or are perceived to be associated with one of the armed actors. (3) administrative measures. 2008:29). The majority of the NGOs involved in land and other resource reform supported by ICCO belong to the more ideological section of the NGOs. given by former Senator Wigberto Tanada in 2006: 752 killed and more than 155 missing (2007:184). We discuss (1) repression and intimidation. intimidating surveillance. The Philippine NGO sector thus is very active and has a long tradition.armed groups.” Repression and intimidation The most visible and shocking restriction on the operational space of NGOs is the frequent killing of activists. especially where their claims would affect the interests of the established elites. which NGOs need to manoeuvre. 144 Estifania Co & Neame provide the following numbers of attacks on activists. Three sectors in particular suffer from policies and actions that restrict their operational space. (2) criminalization. and occasional physical harassment. NGOs that are suspected of affiliation with the communist rebels. 70 . and lawyers. (4) stigmatization. NGOs dedicated to agrarian reform and other resource struggles. As we will see in the next sections. thirdly. not restricted. the NPA. As such. The interaction between restrictive actions and policies in these areas will be further explored in the next section “On-the-job trouble. due to the deficiencies in the democratic practices and the weakness of the state. Among the ICCOsupported NGOs. community leaders and NGO representatives. Apart from these killings. Firstly. the operational space of 143 The UN Rapporteur concludes that the killings of leftist activists and journalists constitute distinct phenomena (Alston. Restrictive policies and actions After having described the general political context in the Philippines and the history and characteristics of the civil society sector and the NGOs. They are a legitimate player in the political arena and have received plenty of formal possibilities for exerting their influence.144 Even though the number of killings is staggering.143 The political killings were so widespread. such as is the case in the field of agrarian reform. the majority is involved in service-delivery without any ideological affiliations. (5) spaces of dialogue. There is no consensus about the exact number of killings and disappearances. 2008:8). the operational space generally is specifically facilitated. that UN Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston devoted his 2008 report to the Philippines. NGOs can also face (death) threats. CODENGO is a network of NGOs. Hutchcroft comments that the “alarming development in recent years has been the killing of hundreds of leftists. most notably. in practice. including the administration itself” (2007:184). numbers of killings vary between 116 and 885 between 2001 and 2008 (Alston. but Estifania Co & Neame note that “the trends are acknowledged by all.
2009). 2008b). violence was prevalent. The problem with this writ of amparo is that the courts have rejected several petitions by activists on the grounds that the activists have failed to provide the necessary evidence. see also Amnesty International.146 Several reports suggest. now the perpetrators of the killings are generally unknown actors. which enables the government to step in as the protector and restorer of order. According to him. 149 In addition. with the warning of a death threat. 2007:194 & HRW. as there is no good witness protection program. During martial law. strong involvement of the military in the killings (see for example Alston. and church personnel” (2007:10). Similarly.most Philippine NGOs is not affected at all by this violence. In general. Activists are told to stop their activities. Threats are usually sent by SMS. 2008:2). killed. Unlike during martial law. 148 In torture cases. vigilantism is a persistent feature of Philippine society. The AHRC mentions a number of 800 killings between 2001 and 2008 (AHRC. 2008:2). 71 . 2006). thus placing the burden of proof on the activists (AHRC.148 The AHRC reports a sharp drop in 2008 in the number of extrajudicial killings of (mostly left-leaning) activists and enforced disappearances “following a concerted campaign by local and international NGOs and other actors at the international level. the burden of proof lies by the victim. The UN activists.” the NGOs affected by this violence are concentrated in the three areas that are identified as problematic. however. or disappeared than during the regime of Pinochet (2007:178). or by an envelope with bullets. 2007:12). The government supports that definition of the violence. the tendency to report only victims who are on the left. Ed de la Torre in our interview with him. the military dismisses any implication and argues that the deaths are the result of internal purges (Alston. As will be discussed more in-depth in the paragraph “On-the-job trouble.”149 What has been done to counter the extra-judicial killings? In 2006. There are no effective laws for prosecution.145 During the Arroyo regime. 146 This was pointed out in an interview with Ed de la Torre and author. Manila 147 The AHRC reports that in 2008 not a single perpetrator of vigilante killings was charged and prosecuted. The New People’s Army is also held responsible for killings. making these actions almost always go with impunity (Hutchcroft. The AHRC reports of a successful case of “concerted efforts on the part of civil society” where five persons were released after two years in jail as they were charged for rebel activities (the “Tagaytay Five”). Families don’t receive any remedies. while reporting that 139 cases of extra-judicial cases between 2003 and 2008 have been documented and reported to the UN. leads people to ask: what is your conception of human rights if you only count as victims.147 Indeed. no clear policies defining command responsibility. where the mayor is willing to turn a blind eye to the outright killing of street children and petty criminals to ensure a reduction of crime (Estifania Co & Neame. There is a general state of impunity regarding the political killings. Estifania Co & Neame hold that more people were tortured. Family members and colleagues of victims of extra-judicial killings are often threatened as well. reported that criticism exists regarding the counting of killings and human rights violations by human rights organizations on the left. those that are on your political side? 145 Davao City is a particularly well known and extreme site of permitted vigilantism. Estifania Co & Neame emphasize the absence of convictions in the cases of extrajudicial killings (2007:184. 2008). 2008 and the findings of the Melo Commission. There is a “writ of amparo” which has not led to effective implementation. killings returned at such a large scale that it has led to international inquiries. and no clear laws criminalizing enforced disappearances and torture (2008). Most of the victims of these killings belong to the extreme left and are aligned with the CPP/NPA. the president installed the Melo Commission (Commission to Address Media and Activist Killings) to investigate the issue. 22 March 2010.
Threats in the Philippines Various NGOs reported that they have been followed by men on motorcycles without number plates.Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings wrote a report with recommendations and also the UN Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines in 2008 led to recommendations.” The actor behind the threat is generally unknown. Earlier international pressure led to a shift from extra-judicial killings to disappearances. Estifania Co & Neame emphasize that the killings are just one aspect and that the general climate “in which administration critics operate has moved from mere hostility to one of outright intimidation” (2007:185). Threats are most common for the leaders of people’s organizations (grassroots NGOs). as well as the military or armed groups such as the MILF and the NPA. no member of the military has been convicted since Arroyo took office (Freedom House. 150 The impact of these killings on the affected parties clearly goes beyond the specific deaths. These various recommendations have led the Supreme Court to appoint 99 special courts to deal with the cases of extra-judicial killings. those forced disappearances often turn out to be detentions by the police. Currently. so nothing has happened. In addition. The AHRC claims that it is clear that these detentions are a means by the government to fight its political opponents. but NGOs reported suspicions of private security personnel of landowners and corporations. leaders involved in campaigns anti-mining are said “to eat threats for breakfast. also communities may threaten security guards. As the spokesperson of ATM put it. in some instances people get so used to it. Activists also tend to get text messages with warnings such as “be careful. 2009). They fear a resumption of the killings. NGO representatives reported that at first they may be afraid as a consequence of these messages.” The frequency of these messages varies from a daily warning to just once a year. 150 This was for example mentioned in our interview with human rights organization PAHRA. there are allegations of maltreatment and torture. One instance in which the police did an investigation was because the NGO had contacts within the police and also put pressure on the mayor. usually the leader of an organization. Manila 72 . thus turning the problem from direct physical repression to criminalization. saying for example: “o yeah. These men will come to an office or house and ask around for a specific individual. no cases have been filed. where am I?” These threats are sometimes but not always reported to the police as NGO representatives claimed that the police generally do not act against these threats (see also AHRC 2008). The detained is then held on charges that preclude bail. Despite all the evidence pointing to the military as complicit in the extrajudicial killings. but as one staff member reported. 27 March 2010. that they actually respond to the texts. For example. However. The detention practices by the police often include incommunicado-detention and the lack of an arrest warrant. death threats are a general commodity.
there has been unease about the potential for abuse of the new anti-terrorism law against civil society activists.” Above we already mentioned the particularly problem of libel suits against journalists (Hutchcroft. 2007. 2007).152 In addition. and those organizations that are suspected to be front organizations for the armed struggle. NGOs that were considered by the government and the military to be linked to the extreme left (CPP/NPA/NDF) or the Muslim armed groups (MILF.4 73 . As a consequence of the Human Security Act. we saw that a decrease in political killings may have induced a switch to prolonged detentions. The Act is also known as the Anti-Terrorism Law and is criticized because of the broad definition of terrorism. 153 Isis International 2007. p. Human rights organizations have reported their concern regarding the Human Security Act (Republic Act 9372) that took effect on July 15. 152 The law “gives security forces the authority to detain suspects without a warrant or charges for up to three days and sets penalties of up to 40 years in prison for terrorism offenses” (Freedom House 2009). She reportedly suspects that her detention is related to her research about the killings and disappearances of Filipino women. NGOs can also operate without registration.153 None of our interviewees reported to have experienced any negative consequences because of this law. ICCO partner Isis International reported a case in 2007. The law is said to violate due process because of warrantless arrests and prolonged detention without charges. a terrorism-charge against a labor activist had the effect of legitimating his subsequent disappearance (AHRC. These specific problems will be discussed below in the section on “on the job trouble. Restrictive administrative measures Hutchcroft is clear in his positive assessment regarding the NGO legislation creating the legal environment for the Philippine NGO sector: “The state does not subject NGOs and other civic organizations to onerous registration requirements.Criminalization In the previous section. Finally. the anti-terrorism council is argued to have too much power as the sole determiners of who is a terrorist. where award-winning Filipino novelist Ninotchka Rosca was included in a terrorism watch list as a consequence of the Human Security Act. nor does it harass donors and funders of these organizations” (2007:8). #2. p. MNLF or Abu Sayyaf) were immediately included in the list of terrorist organizations and closely monitored. #2. some incidents do indicate the potential restrictive effect.9 154 “When Security is the Threat.154 The AHRC claims that at least in one instance. 2008:16). 151 Freedom House reports that critics have argued that the act’s broad definition of terrorism would allow the president to use it against her political adversaries (Freedom House 2009). Still. NGOs can register with the Securities and Exchange Commission which is an easy and non-controversial procedure.” Isis International 2007. 151 The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism has criticized the law for not being “in accordance with international human rights standards” (AHRC. 2008:17). 2008:25). Local communities who are involved in a struggle relating to land or natural resources have faced criminal charges (mainly trespass and qualified theft). Criminalization as a restriction on NGO activity is not widespread. while the Philippine government made use of the generalized War on Terror discourse to justify specific practices in its fight against these armed groups (Karapatan.
and farm workers.wango. and PhilNET).155 NGOs have to apply for a non-profit status for the purpose of tax exemption. which was later ruled against by the Supreme Court (Estifania Co & Neame 2007:187). where protestors against the arrival of President Arroyo in Tacloban City. Peace.ph/static/dav/2008/02/26/news/gabriela. the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor. 74 . 158 This allegation is for example the subject of contention as reported in this newspaper article. A controversial law was the implementation of the “pre-emptive calibrated response” to guide police forces in their regulation of rallies and demonstrations. Bello et al provide an overview of the groups working for agrarian reform and their general stance vis-à-vis the government. especially on its non-profit status. 2008. and assist them in institutionalizing professionalism within the sector. local government units. 158 This will be further discussed below.ib. None of our interviewees commented on experiencing problems with respect to public demonstrations. the Cooperative Development Authority. 156 For more information regarding tax exemption. and Freedom House comments that most anti-government rallies are dispersed (Freedom House.html [accessed 2 August 2010]. 2009). (if the NGO is a cooperative). The law created concern among the public and among members of NGOs as they feared that less people would be willing to join rallies and demonstrations. Feb. small farmers. Another incident mentions the violent dispersal of a rally outside the US Embassy. the Department of Finance discussed the possible imposition of some restrictions on the NGO community. http://www.sunstar. when we analyze the negative effects for civil society of the counterinsurgency of the government against the Communist rebels. and the Housing and Land and Urban Regulatory Bureau (if the organization is a homeowners’ association). that were camping out at the south gate of the Philippine House of Representatives to press for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB)” (CIVICUS. but also the Department of Labor and Employment (if the organization is a trade union). for example.by.Many NGOs make use of the various arrangements in Philippine law (such as the Local Government Code 1991) that enable NGOs to gain accreditation with various governmental bodies. 26. and outright support (2009:78). it should be noted that both KMP and Gabriela are perceived to be associated with the CPP. in order to increase state finances. a women’s rights organization (CIVICUS.org/congress/about. 2009).73rd.school. Davao. a movement of landless peasants.aspx accessed 2 August 2010 157 Arsenio García told that during the 1990s.hits. which resulted in the creation of the PCNC. UNORKA.in. 155 NGOs can seek accreditation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). CIVICUS also reported that on 22 May 2009. ranging from outright opposition (for example KMP).156 The Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC) is authorized by the government Department of Finance and tasked to certify non-profit status to NGOs. (if the NGO is an urban poor organization). critical engagement (for example Pakisama).forum. reported a rally on 28 April 2009. and successfully argued for the creation of a self-regulating mechanism. ‘Gabriela hits forum by 73rd IB in school’ in: Sunstar Daily Newspaper. were met by Philippine's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) police force. CIVICUS. 2009). see http://www. as well as regarding receiving (foreign) funding. critical collaboration (ICCO-partners PARRDS. organized by Gabriela. In this regard. But the NGO community mounted a unified objection to it.157 Restriction of public activities and demonstrations Permits are required for rallies.com. “the Philippine National Police ended the 40 day long protest by farmers and demonstrators from Kilusang Magbukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
161 This label is only used by groups belonging to the Catholic Church. were denounced as communists. mainly against NGOs who get foreign funding. one of the ten labor centers in the country. This was part of the military’s counter-insurgency strategy called “Oplan Bantay Laya” (Karapatan. thus discrediting them in the eyes of the communities with which they work. an NGO providing labor education and training and working closely with Akbayan. an international women’s organization. CARET. see the article on the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation. An organization fighting against aerial spray (Mamamayang ayaw sa Aerial Spray or MAAS). but they reported the use of the label regarding local women’s groups. 162 For an example of such accusations. as well as UNORKA and its local members. Task Force Mapalad (TFM). 2008:9-10). Almost all ICCO-partners involved in agrarian reform experienced this stigmatization. such as the Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN). as well as some NGOs aligned with them. The military engages in stigmatization and simultaneous intimidation through their community “dialogues” in both remote areas and in various urban poor areas in the country.160 The stigma of being a ‘western’ organization and promoting a western lifestyle is only used against NGOs working on gender issues. Other NGOs are accused of support for terrorist or separatist groups in Mindanao. TRICOM is an organization working for the rights of the so-called “tri”-people: the indigenous people. this was also encountered by TRICOM working in the Caraga region in Mindanao. Landowners and corporations have also labeled NGOs as communist. and the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL). the military uses a PowerPoint presentation where they identify organizations and NGOs whom they regard as “enemies of the state” (Alston.159 Some ICCO partners suspected that they were also included in the military’s list (for example BalaodMindanao). PhilNet and its local members. 21-27 March 2010. Because of their international character they were not affected by this stigma. such as BalaodMindanao. These accusations come from the military and also from landowners and corporations.Stigmatization As has been discussed before in the section on the Philippine NGO sector. 75 . Philippines. Some NGOs are accused of sympathizing with communism and working with the extreme left experience restrictions on their space. Inc.162 The strong 159 160 Information from Arsenio García Interviews with author. which also works closely with Akbayan. (PLCPD): ‘PLCPD Cries Foul Over ‘Malicious Attacks’ Vs Repro Health Bill’ in Pinoy Press1 October 2008. play an important role in limiting the operational space of some NGOs. especially those advocating for the rights of women on fertility management and reproductive health. Specific stigmas. NGOs flourish in the Philippines and are looked upon favourably as a sector. During these community meetings. The government welcomes foreign aid organizations and provides ample room for the founding and operation of NGOs. Christian people. especially those working in agrarian reform and land distribution. however. Almost all sectorial organizations identified with the extreme left were mentioned in this list. Initially. and the staff of the NGO working closely with them. indeed legally recognizing the importance of NGO participation in its governance structures. Interface Development Initiatives (IDIS). But the military also identified as “enemies of the state” some organizations like party-list Akbayan and some NGOs not belonging to the extreme left. and Muslims in Mindanao 161 This was also mentioned in our interview with ISIS International. 2008:25).
NGOs organized a working group.de/fulltext/iez/01109005. the legal environment provides all incentives for a productive collaboration between civil society and the government. Ed de la Torre criticizes the confrontational and non-constructive stance that some NGOs tend to take. For more information on the women’s movement in the Philippines. 2009:231). The government adopted 80% of the draft text.Net 8 April 2010. He calls those NGOs ‘anti-governmental organizations’ (AGOs).163 An example of a restriction can be seen when an LGBT group wanted to set up a party-list for the elections and the election committee COMELEC prohibited this. ATM said that it is the tradition for the government to consult NGOs as they know that there is the expertise. 26 March 2010. they studied the draft text and gave it to the government. Encarnacion Tadem for example describes how social movements have been successful at times to create linkages with agencies and parts of the government. an AGO keeps escalating the demands to show that the government is bad and should be replaced. 167 Interview with author.net/2008/10/01/plcpd-cries-foul-over-malicious-attacks-vs-repro-health-bill/ [accessed 2 August 2010] 163 Women’s groups like Gabriela. NGOs are perceived very positively in the Philippines. WomanHealth. Now. This is partly explained by the common practice of individuals who switch between positions in the government and social movements (2009:242). 24 March 2010. 26 March 2010.169 As discussed in the earlier section on the Philippine NGO sector. the representative of IDIS in Davao City reported that she was recently appointed on the Watershed Management Council to oversee the implementation of the Watershed Code. members of anti-dictatorship movements gained positions in the government (Encarnacion Tadem.165 Government agencies often work in collaboration with NGOs on projects and as discussed above. it is a common practice that local government units have NGO leaders on consultative boards. available at [accessed 25 June 2010] http://newsinfo.fes. however. the Supreme Court has ruled this prohibition unconstitutional because morality can be no reason for excluding the party from participation and in May 2010. however. In some specific areas.htm [accessed 2 August 2010] 164 ‘Gay partylist group can join May polls – SC’ at Inquirer. stigmatization is a real issue. 166 Not all NGOs. Manila 169 Interview with ATM. APL-women. have sought cooperation with the government.164 In general.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20100408-263061/SC-backs-gay-partylist-group-in-Maypollsreport 165 After 1986. Existing spaces of dialogue under pressure There are many and varying degrees of contact and cooperation between the Philippine government and NGOs.167 Indeed. for which their NGO had advocated. Whereas an NGO wants the government to improve and fulfill certain demands. This happened in preparation for the conference on climate change in Copenhagen. Sarilaya. and NGOs like LEARN (for its gender program).168 NGOs often take the lead in creating spaces for dialogue with the government. Davao City 168 Interview with author. by organizing conferences for the revision of policies. Specifically NGOs affiliated with the extreme left have rejected these opportunities. see for example Santos-Maranan et al or http://library. the LGBT community participated in the elections with a party-list. http://www.pinoypress. and some other NGOs on gender have experienced being accused of being ‘western’ by religious groups who consider themselves pro-life. Likhaan.166 For example. Manila 76 .Catholic Church restricts the space of local organizations of Philippine women or LGBT organizations.
171 For example. For example PhilNET lamented the fact that the effort. but NGO representatives have shared with us various experiences in which the existing spaces of dialogue proved dissatisfying. Davao City. Estifania Co & Neame similarly are not certain whether the active engagement of civil society with local governments because of the LGC 1991 is really giving them the opportunity to enact changes or whether it should be seen as a form of “system maintenance” (2007:192). however. This is for example the case with regards to environmentalist NGOs who cooperated with the government in an attempt to insert sustainable development into its programs.NGOs unanimously reported that the legislation in place provides a very good environment for development and the NGO sector. 25 March 2010. but serve to emphasize the commitment of the police to protect ARB communities. which they put into building good relations at the local level. Conform the patron-client politics that were so common in the Philippine past. especially when the local governors or mayors are perceived as “friendly. When the commander was replaced. many NGOs confirmed the notion that personal relations with government agents is more important than what is written in the laws or contracts (“personalism” is for example mentioned by Rocamora as a feature of Filipino political culture. the genuine space to operate for NGOs may be greater at the local level.173 Ed Quitoriano criticizes the practice in which NGO leaders are asked to sit on the board of governmental corporations. Some NGOs that we interviewed for example uttered their frustration that they are invited to give input. the additional Memorandum should not be necessary. has to be started over again after three years when people are replaced after elections. they are sometimes forced to stay 170 Within the Philippine NGO community some NGOs accuse others of cooptation by the government. or that there were cases of outright misinformation. 171 Interview with author on 22 March 2010. 26 March 2010. Manila 172 Interview with PARFUND. ATM commented that because of the importance of personal relations. As ARBs possess the legal titles for their land. where on the one hand successes are achieved. Estifania Co & Neame give a mixed evaluation. 2009:186). Manila 77 . This in effect induces a habit of self-censorship of their entire NGO. some NGOs mentioned as a restriction that the government refuses to give access to public information. Many recognized instances of co-optation170 (some even wondering whether some of their personal past experiences could be qualified as co-optation in hindsight). but subsequently ignored when it comes to actually taking over their suggestions. reported that their contributions were ignored.” On the other hand. The general experience with governmental cooperation is not necessarily bad. and many of our interviewees reported their efforts to achieve this “accreditation” to obtain a seat as advisor in one of the local boards on health or development. than at the national level. one NGO reported that they had a Memorandum of Agreement with the former police commander that they would assist with land reform and provide protection for the community of ARBs. the implementation of the legislation which is reported to be problematic. in: Lopez Wui. It is. These Memoranda of Agreement are a common form for NGOs to secure police protection for ARB communities. These accusations divide the NGO community. Many NGOs have decided to make use of the opportunity offered.172 This experience was recognized by many NGOs. 173 Interview with author. NGOs in the Philippines are often invited in spaces and allowed to talking in several platforms. the Memorandum of Agreement became just a piece of paper and they had to start again building a good relation with the new commander.
composed of representatives of the government’s national agencies and sectoral representatives of the poor. 26 March 2010. The lack of effectiveness of this commission in actually being a meaningful venue for anti-poverty measures converts it into what can be called a fake space. On top of this. the government receives the majority of ODA-budgets. indigenous peoples and a majority of the famers have therefore decided to boycott the Commission. The office is being headed by a cabinet rank officer. PhilNet. Their position as subcontractors diminishes their ability to have a role in that space. 174 175 Interview with author. The competition over money and inclusion as a sectoral representative dominate the proceedings of the commission. 25 March 2010. the space has now become legally restricted as organizations that want to participate now have to register previously with the Office of the President.quiet in the face of fiscal transgressions in order to get their way on their own programs (2007:192). the representatives tend to be less critical of the government. Butch Olano of PARFUND argues that this subordination effectively transforms NGOs into service providers for the government.175 Some NGOs commented that the nature of the relationship between government and NGOs had changed over the past years as a consequence of the different distribution of official development aid (ODA). Of course. because as soon as they become critical. there exist many spaces for dialogue between the government. UNORKA. which brings NGOs in a subordinate position when they work on joint projects. set up by the Ramos administration. PEACE. Now.174 During the Aquino and Ramos administration. and as the president each year nominates the council’s representative. It has also been problematic for some of these NGOs to maintain their work once the governmental funds dried up. An example of a dysfunctional space is the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). they will be subjected to audits and their funding will be retracted. NGOs and other actors. it has been doubted whether NGOs involved in these types of cooperation can maintain a healthy level of criticism of the government. the government and NGOs had equal access to foreign funding thus creating an equal relationship when they worked together on projects. Manila 176 Interview with author. Manila Interview with ATM. 26 March 2010. In this section. former NGO leaders were in various positions at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). These forms of cooperation blurred the lines between governmental work and nongovernmental work.176 In the Philippines. Despite this close interaction and the multiple possibilities for providing input and advice. thus facilitating close cooperation with NGOs working on that issue. NGOs reported. In the 90s. NGOs often are not satisfied with the net result of their cooperation. ATM mentioned a survey that showed that only in 25% of the local government units NGO participation had actually been implemented. we have identified some of the reasons why cooperation between the government and NGOs does not yield the desired results: (1) the continuing importance of personal relations. and its member-organizations have been beneficiaries of programs and funding from DAR intended for land transfers and support programs for agrarian reform beneficiaries. Women. NGOs across the entire spectrum except the extreme left participated in the commission. Davao City 78 . The office still exists but not many NGOs dispute the fact that it hasn’t been particularly successful in alleviating poverty.
(2) the self-censoring effect of advisory positions; (3) the ease with which NGOs and their input is ignored after legitimating consultations; (4) lack of access to information. On the job trouble In the previous section we have identified the different kinds of actions and policies that can be witnessed in the Philippines to restrict the operational space of NGOs. In this section, we assess how these actions and policies interact to limit the operational space of NGOs. Overall, the operational space of NGOs in the Philippines can be characterized as free and broad. Most NGOs do not suffer from the actions and policies outlined above. However, some qualifications should be made. Generally, the space of urban NGOs tends to be much freer and open than the space available to rural NGOs and community organizations. Further, professional NGOs tend to have more operational space than grassroots organizations. In particular, three different contexts can be identified in which NGOs experience limitations. (1) NGOs operating at the extreme left: consequences of a counterinsurgency focus on civil society; (2) NGOs and community organizers making claims about land and natural resources; (3) NGOs operating in conflict areas and isolated places. The majority of the NGOs can operate freely in the Philippines, especially the NGOs operating in the delivery of basic services (such as educational scholarship, soup kitchens), ecology issues that do not conflict with major business interests (waste management, alternative sources of power), gender issues, housing for the homeless and the urban poor, and labour unions. This is not to claim that they never face resistance to the issues that they bring up. It means that their space to operate as such is not fundamentally contested or restricted. Research institutes equally operate in a relatively free environment. However, NGOs that are perceived to be linked with the extreme left experience limitations in their work, regardless the kind of issues they are working with. Further, the work of NGOs in areas of agrarian reform and environmental issues in opposition to companies (anti-mining, ancestral domain, anti-genetic modification) can become very risky, depending on the tactics and strategies employed by the NGOs. Finally, those organizations that are operating in areas of armed conflict, where state power is contested, as well as isolated places far from effective state power and protection, face problems with basic safety, especially if they are suspected to support rebel groups. NGOs operating at the extreme left: consequences of a counterinsurgency focus on civil society In contrast to the cases of Honduras and Guatemala, the Philippines still is characterized by continued armed communist rebellion. NGOs in the Philippines that are (perceived to be) aligned with the ideological bloc on the extreme left suffer from severe restrictions on their operations as the military perceives them to be front organizations for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed group, the New People’s Army (NPA). A recent example is the detention of 43 health workers in February 2010, who attended a training seminar organized by an NGO, the Council for Health and Development (CHD) (the “Morong 43”). The military claims that the workshop participants were rebels and being trained to make bombs. Criticisms have been raised not only about the raid itself and the argument that the health workers were from the NPA, but also about the violations of due process as the health workers were not allowed to see anyone during the weekend after their arrest and later on health
workers claimed they had been maltreated.177 This incident is not an exception. The UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Executions wrote in 2008 that the significant number of extrajudicial executions of leftists activists were “the result of deliberate targeting by the military as part of counterinsurgency operations against the communist rebels” (Freedom House 2009). He further writes: “One important aspect of this counterinsurgency strategy should be noted. Specific barangays [village or district, CT] are targeted because they have active civil society organizations, not because such organizations are thought to be proxies for NPA presence. [...] The civil society organizations are the targets, because the AFP178 considers them the political infrastructure of the revolution and the NPA’s intelligence network. Attacking them is designed to blind the NPA and undermine the CPP’s political progress” (Alston, 2008:12). Estifania Co & Neame suggest that Arroyo’s dependency on the military for her survival has allowed the military to push for a military solution to the left-wing insurgency that is still ongoing (2007:184). They describe this as a way to keep the military busy and prevent them from mounting coups against Arroyo, provide them with a legitimate reason to scoop up more financial resources, have them remove potential troublemakers, and distract the public from underlying issues of political, social, and economic reform. In June 2006, the government declared “all-out war” against the Communist rebels (Hutchcroft, 2007:10). The government has labeled the CPP/NPA/NDF as the “Communist Terrorist Movement” thus turning from negotiation to counterinsurgency as the legitimate response (Alston, 2008:7). Government officials believe that the CPP controls various civil society groups for support and recruitment. Alston writes that the CPP itself has publicly stated that its members who occupy positions of leadership in civil society fall ultimately under the direction of the Central Committee of the CPP. However, those organizations are not necessarily puppets of the CPP and many members may be unaware of linkages to the CPP. Indeed, the actual influence of the CPP in those organizations is unknown. While there thus may be some front organizations, this does not justify the assertions of the military about the particular organizations that are identified as such (Alston, 2008:8). Though many NGOs are not affected by these intimidating effects of the military counterinsurgency, several of our interviewees have reported that they were also branded as a front organization at some point.179 The military’s suspicions can affect NGOs severely in their operations, also those NGOs that don’t have any links with the NPA or are even disliked by the NPA because of their reform-oriented activities that may lessen the population’s revolutionary potential. Whereas it is legal since 1992 to be a member of the CPP, it is still publicly announced that supporting their work or candidates amounts to supporting the enemy (Alston, 2008:9). This is not just rhetoric, but also expressed in actual measures, most notably the “order of battle.” The order of battle consists of a list with names of suspected enemies. The UN Rapporteur describes a copy of this document from 2006 which consists of “hundreds of prominent civil society groups and individuals who have been classified, on the basis of intelligence, as members of organizations which the military deems ‘illegitimate’” (2008:9).
Tan, Michael. 2010. ‘Raid!’ in: Philippine Daily Inquirer 9 February 2010, available at [accessed 17 June 2010]: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20100209-252278/Raid 178 Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 179 This generally affects those NGOs that are involved in agrarian reform, and will thus be discussed more elaborately in the next section. 80
As already discussed in the paragraph on “repression and intimidation,” the war against communist rebels has led to many killings of leftists activists during Arroyo’s presidency. The Melo Commission has concluded that at least in some of these killings the military was involved (Hutchcroft, 2007:11). The killings of leftist activists are thus the consequence of their branding as supporters of armed rebels. Killings are generally preceded by threats and surveillance. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) reports, that specific targets of threats are activists investigating cases of disappearance and labor leaders, who are fighting for workers to obtain adequate compensation and benefits (AHRC 2008:3). These threats are justified by the military by claiming that the targets of threats are supporting communist insurgents. Families of these activists also receive threats. These threats are often accompanied by overt surveillance by the military. The AHRC claims that these threats and surveillance, which are usually followed by killings or disappearances, have led to a curtailing of the discussion on human rights or labour rights. The AHRC describes that persons working in favour of human rights are easily branded as sympathizers or supporters of armed communist rebels, and thus constitute a legitimate target for reprisals (2008:8). In one case, the military has offered reward money for the arrest of a union leader (Dante Senillo) as they claim that he is a communist sympathizer. Also, some persons labelled as supporters or sympathizers have been charged in court as a reprisal for having investigated cases of disappearances. The AHRC claims that the fabrication of charges is a common practice to keep activists in detention (2008:9).180 Similarly, Human Rights Watch suggested the political nature of charges against a labour rights lawyer (HRW, 2008). These allegations are supported by the UN Special Rapporteur, who concluded that “*t+he priorities of the criminal justice system have also been distorted, and it has increasingly focused on prosecuting civil society leaders rather than their killers” (Alston, 2008:2). The space of NGOs who are associated with the extreme left is thus severely restricted by the counterinsurgency efforts of the military. They can officially or unofficially be labelled as ‘communists’ and ‘enemies of the state’ and consequently face threats, surveillance, criminal charges, disappearance, and killings. Some examples of NGOs, which are severely affected by the military counterinsurgency effort, are Karapatan, a human rights organization, Gabriela, a women’s organization, and KMP, an agrarian reform organization. Karapatan revealed that during the Arroyo administration the human rights workers of Karapatan and allied organizations have suffered the following: extra-judicial killing (34); enforced disappearance (3); frustrated killing (6); torture (7); illegal arrests (18); illegal arrests and detention (16); physical assault and injury (30); threat, intimidation (72) and harassment (68) (Karapatan, 2008:39). Gabriela and KMP experienced that their rallies were violently dispersed.181 ICCO
A case that has become well known in this regard is the “Tagaytay Five” where five activists were held for two years on the suspicion that they were communist guerillas and wanted to overthrow the government. After two years the Regional Trial Court ruled that there was a lack of substantive evidence (AHRC, 2008:10). Salaverria, Leila. 2008. ‘2 ‘Tagaytay 5’ members plan to sue cops for damages’ in: Philippine Daily Inquirer. 29 August 2008 http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view/20080829-157510/2-Tagaytay-5-members-plan-to-suecops-for-damages This has also been suggested in the Morong 43 case. Because the military are convinced that the suspects are NPA operatives, one of the cases filed against the suspects was illegal possession of firearms, which the suspects argue as planted evidence by the military itself to justify their illegal arrest. 181 See above in the section on administrative restrictions 81
article 13 Whether or not CARP has been a success as an instrument for land reform is discussed at length by Bello et al (2009:33-90). 82 . the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights perceived loopholes in the land reform program that hindered the proper implementation of the law (2008:27). Still around 1203 million hectares of mostly private agricultural land remain to be distributed (FIAN. TRICOM is involved. Land is distributed highly unequally in the Philippines. 182 The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 instituted the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Project (CARP) which offered landless peasants the possibilities for land redistribution. Manila 185 ICCO-partner PhilNet is a consortium of local organizations that support agrarian reform. Landowners generally oppose all redistribution programs. This is discussed in the next section. Centrosaka Inc. 2008:15).183 As communities organize to assert their rights for land distribution. As a more meaningful measurement of the success of CARP. The new 1987 Constitution mandated that the State should install an agrarian reform program. 184 Interview with author. 22 March 2010. Also the CPP/NPA/NDF views the current program as a “divide and rule scheme” to prevent the “genuine land reform of the revolutionary movement” (Alston. 2008:13-14).96 million hectares have been distributed. Various ICCO-partners are involved in claims about land. Taskforce Mapalad (TFM) is a national federation of farmers and farm workers engaged in advocacy and organizing communities to claim their rights to land. In addition. with the “ancestral domain” of indigenous peoples. agrarian reform.does not fund NGOs that are closely linked to the extreme left. some ICCO-partners that are involved in agrarian reform also face this suspicion of association with the extreme left. land rights of indigenous groups are not always respected. 3. as they question the acclaimed success rate of 72% land transfer. 2008:15). PARFUND provides funds to communities involved in agrarian reform. Balaod Mindanao is an alternative law group providing legal assistance to communities that are in the process of claiming land. and there is a long history of land grabbing. is a research institute with a focus on issues of agrarian reform and advocacy. where the elite usurps land from the poor people.16 million hectares of land selected for reform by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). and corporations increasingly apply for the exploration of mining areas.4 percent are actual farmer beneficiaries (2009:81). and natural resources in general. ICCO-partner PhilNET reported for example that the NPA told them to move out of a specific area as their work on land reform was hampering “consolidating activities.”184 Local government officials often show more interest in protecting the interests of powerful local elites than promoting controversial land distribution (Alston.185 These ICCO partners are among those most affected by restrictions regarding their claim making. NGOs and community organizers making claims about land and natural resources Private landowners as well as corporations hold large amounts of hectares for banana and sugar plantations. they face resistance from various sides. either through coercion. as it arranges the transfer of land to the landless farmers with compensation for the current landowners. they claim that of those entitled to benefit from CARP only 35. 2007:19-20). however. among other things. or because of their better knowledge of (and access to) the law (Hutchcroft. pointing out for example that the award rate of 72% does not mean that beneficiaries have been able to actually possess the land (2009:80). OMCT points out that already in 1995. FIAN reports that of the 5. We also spoke with several non-ICCO partners 182 183 Section 4.
15-20 % of the population is legally recognized as indigenous (Hutchcroft. In order to become eligible for similar exemptions. Whereas in 1998 a number of 10. They claim that this is problematic.96 million hectares (FIAN. in reality there is no land transfer at all (FIAN. palm oil and other cash-crop plantations. However. 83 .186 Each of these organizations reported one or more of the risks that are involved in this kind of work. This complaint was echoed by our interviewees. as more than a million of private pieces of land would not be covered by the program (FIAN. for example in Mindanao from 1988-1998. giving five more years to execute the agrarian reform. as was the case with the 212 hectares of land owned by Jose de Leon in the village of Tinang. keeping real ownership with the corporation. Finally. the law on agrarian reform was deferred on banana. Pakisama is involved in land rights. Other complaints about the deficiencies of the agrarian reform are that DAR has systematically reduced the total area that is supposed to be re-distributed. emanating from the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) enacted in 1997. the “working scope” was reduced to 3. private agricultural lands. Members of communities identified as eligible for receiving lands are denominated Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARB). Once DAR has acquired the lands. were not immediately distributed (FIAN. and the Mindanao People’s Caucus is. Terminology in the Agrarian Reform in the Philippines The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (Republic Act No. many landowners have transformed agricultural land into industrial estates and golf courses (ibid. CARP was legislated to expire in June 2008. IDIS works on an anti-aerialspraying campaign which involves banana plantations owned by Dole or Del Monte. 2008:16). Thus.). as landowners can choose the beneficiaries of the land transfer. 2008:14). 2008:15). only offering workers the possibility for a lease on the land.involved in claims about land and natural resources. 2008:13). among other activities. it is the Certificate Ancestral Domain Title (CADTI). If it’s an indigenous community. In addition. the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Project Extension with Reforms (CARPER) was signed. 2007:15). mostly sugar and coconut plantations. Tarlac Province. Given the conflicting interests.3 million hectares was selected for reform. Ed de la Torre provides a cynical view upon this matter: “Because they don’t intend to implement them…” There are two ways of land distribution: the Compulsory Acquisition (CA) scheme and the Voluntary Land Transfer (VLT). pineapple. 6657) regulated the agrarian reform that the 1987 Constitution had stipulated. involved in land rights for indigenous communities. it can be called remarkable that the political elite has drafted laws that the NGOs that we interviewed have generally qualified as ‘good’ for marginalized people. In the Philippines. Landowners have used this framework to transfer their lands to ‘dummies’ beneficiaries: their family-members for example who actually live in Metro Manila. FIAN reports that the majority of the land transfers under auspices of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) were performed under the VLTframework. 186 ATM is involved in the anti-mining struggle. in 2001. Concepcion Municipality. they can issue the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA). A fierce battle about a possible continuation of the agrarian reform emerged.
ranging from lawsuits about CARP. Davao City 191 For example listed in the document ‘Summary Info on ARHRV’. TFM claims: “in this struggle for land. evicted.ahrchk. harassed. to the use of physical violence by their private security personnel. 2007. an armed revolutionary group. applying for exemptions or CLOA-cancelations. burning of houses. Now CARP has been extended until 2013. Manila 190 Interview with Pakisama. Apart from killings. beatings. Lopez.191PhilNET claimed that all of their 21 local partners have suffered from harassment and intimidation in varying degrees. 25 March 2010. http://www. 2006. received from TFM during the interview on 27 March 2010 84 . A leader of Ugnayan ng Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan (UNORKA) was also killed during the past years as well as two leaders of PhilNET in sugar plantations in Negros. Alejandro Garcesa (70 years old) and Ely Tupas (52 years old) were killed by hacienda security guards on the Hacienda Velez-Malaga.188 ATM had two mining activists killed during the past two years. detained. Antonieta.php/2006/1956/ [accessed 18 June 2010] 189 Interview with PhilNet.A-28. the fighting farmer has been bribed. p. not urban professional NGOs. threat and harassments.Current landowners attempt to stall or prevent the reform with a variety of tactics. The specific cases in which claimants demand the real occupation of the hacienda are sites of conflict. there are also various reports of shootings and beatings of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries. The most grievous risk for NGOs engaging in agrarian reform is the threat to be killed. most notably hired thugs or (armed) security personnel of landowners187. 2006. confiscation of household belongings.net/ua/mainfile. assaulted and killed. ejection and eviction” (TFM. 22 March 2010. and various non-state actors.190 While these killings should generally be understood within the local context of specific land claims.9 188 TFM provided us with a detailed list of the date and names of the 12 deaths. They attribute the killings to the military. local police. One of them is Rico Adeva who got killed in front of the eyes of his wife.189 Two high ranking leaders of Pakisama were killed last year. In the same period. 2008:1). was not only about local interests. An AHRC report attributes this killing to members of RPA-ABB. also 123 leaders of indigenous peoples have been killed (FIAN. ‘Hacienda killings stress need for full CARP implementation’ in: Panay News. FIAN and PARRDS claim that between 2001 and 2008 at least forty peasant leaders have been killed as they asserted their rights to land. June 12. destruction of crops. on 4 June 2007. p. Twelve community leaders of ICCO-partner TFM were killed between 2001 and 2007. This mostly happens to local community leaders. Also. ‘Community organizer slain in Silay’ in: The Philippine Star April 17. intimidated. the campaign to extend the CARP and the counter-campaign launched by landowners to prevent the extension from happening has been very contentious. According to TFM. *…+ Other strategies of landholders to prevent CARP include assassinations [sic] and murders. It should be noted that ICCO187 For example. involving many protest actions by claimants. and alleged NPA members. which makes it likely that also the next three years will show intense struggle. who had become a national icon of the struggle for agrarian reform. but should be seen in the context of the 2008 struggle for extension of CARP. the killings are never an accident or ‘collateral damage’ as always the best community organizers are targeted. 2008:10). Pakisama staff suggested that the killing of their vicechairperson René Peñas.
partner Centrosaka Inc. reported to have experienced much less violent resistance that has been so prevalent for TFM. This is probably due to their less confrontational tactics, such as their policy to withdraw voluntarily from a land occupation long before any real trouble may arise.192 During 2008, there has been a sharp drop in political killings related to agrarian reform due to the international and national attention to the topic (AHRC, 2008:2). Whereas the bulk of restrictions are suffered by the rural communities and their leaders, professional NGOs do at times experience restrictions as well. IDIS has reported close surveillance by “men on motorcycles” and threats received by SMS.193 Also Balaod Mindanao and ATM reported to receive death threats from the military and corporations, as well as signals of surveillance.194TRICOM, in their assistance to indigenous people to recover ancestral domain, received threats from private individuals from poor communities that were occupying those lands. In response they organized a dialogue together with the local government to ensure that their removal would not affect their economic rights. In addition, they receive threats from corporations who perceive TRICOM as biased in favour of indigenous people.195 Less violent but equally obstructing their land claims, some NGOs pointed out that landowners and corporations often provide false information to claimants and workers about agrarian reform and the rights of the claimants. This is aggravated by the fact that the Department of Agrarian Reform also fails to give clear information. This makes it important for NGOs to provide trainings in which they fully inform the claimants of their rights. This informational work is made difficult when corporations call their workers together and warn them not to work together with NGOs. IDIS recalled a situation where a corporation called the workers together in a weekly meeting, saying that IDIS was only interested in the money, and threatening the workers not to work with them.196 Also combinations of threats and bribes occur, as NGOs reported that some leaders were offered money or scholarships in exchange for dropping land claims and on the other hand peasant leaders were fired.197 According to TFM, all of their members had lost their jobs and IDIS reported that in 2006 the brother of Marcelino Villaganes had been fired by the banana corporation because of his active organizing. As
Asked why TFM has had so many killings whereas other organizations such as Centrosaka have avoided them, the TFM interlocutor said, that the killings were not inevitable. Apart from the fact that the regions where they were active are particularly difficult, it may also be that they pushed too hard, and their form of action was new. But he thinks the killings were not in vain: now there are monthly meetings with municipal DAR, monthly meetings with provincial monitor assistance, and there is support from bishops. In addition, TFM has earned respect. Now, if TFM is involved, some landowners may choose to negotiate, because they have established credibility. Also, the TFM spokesperson is sure that the injuries in deaths most often have the effect that the claimants become more determined in their struggle. Once someone has died for the cause, the death cannot be in vain. He suggests that over the years the landowners may have realized that it also isn’t in their interest the killings. 193 Interview with author 24 March 2010, Davao City 194 For example, ATM reported to receive an SMS saying “you won’t get out of there alive,” interview with author, 26 March 2010, Manila. 195 Interview with author, 24 March 2010, Davao City 196 Interview with author with the NGO representative of IDIS, engaged in the anti-aerial spraying campaign 197 For example Balaod Mindanao reported these offers of scholarships, interview with author, 22 March 2010, Manila. In some cases the farmers did accept these offers as they had lost hope and didn’t see their chances for a real victory, or they were afraid. Balaod Mindanao perceived a tendency that corporations tend to choose more for offering money or jobs to dissuade land claimants from pursuing their campaign, whereas private landowners tended to have threats as a first reaction. 85
communities can be highly dependent on the corporations for their daily livelihood, this creates tensions and fear in the community as some members say that it is more important to have food on the table now, than to care about the (for example health) issues of tomorrow. Job losses were also documented by FIAN who in addition noted that the protest record of these leaders also prevented their employment by other landowners (2008:28). Balaod Mindanao reported that corporations often offer them money to have them drop their cases, for example San Miguel offered them money in 2007. MPC reported that indigenous leaders sometimes are more interested in the direct money offered by corporations. To circumvent the authority of the local leaders, MPC tries to discuss the issue with the women of the community under the guise of discussing spirituality and their relation to spirits and nature, as the men are busy fighting for the money.198 Landowners have also deliberately engaged in divide and rule tactics when they organized some loyal farmers to be on their side to nominate them as the beneficiaries of the reform, leading to fighting between two groups of farmers.199 Restrictions in the form of harassment, criminal or civil cases, are most likely once land claims look likely to be granted. Once communities receive their CLOA, this often does not translate directly in the actual possession of land. Farmers may then decide to enter the land. PhilNET explained how then the landowners with the help of the police, military or armed personnel will come in, which can lead to skirmishes.200 Both TFM and PhilNET argued that, whether or not the resistance by landowners escalates into the use of violence seems to depend partially on the attitude of the local government units, whether they support the landowners or the claimant farmers.201 It is thus not surprising that NGOs invariably reported that one of their major strategies is to build good contacts with local government units. Local community leaders can face criminal charges when they resort to the tactic of land occupation. TFM has made a comprehensive list of the criminal charges suffered by its members, providing an overview of cases that have been initiated against CLOA holders or agrarian reform beneficiaries who are affiliated with TFM, listing offenses such as occupation of property or usurpation of property rights and trespass. PhilNET equally reported that many of its community activists are facing criminal charges such as trespassing and qualified theft. The PhilNET staff member estimates that between 1996 and 2010 a little more than hundred people of their communities have passed through jail. In one case, a CLOA holder is charged with qualified theft as he was harvesting his coconuts. A typical incident is an example from Davao Oriental, where sixteen CLOA holders (awarded to them on December 29, 1998) were arrested on January 23, 2007, after a criminal complaint of grave coercion was filed against them by security personnel of ARCAL Development, Inc. after their entry into their awarded land on September 11, 2006. After a week of incarceration, they were released after the
Interview with author, 25 March 2010, Davao City Interview with PARFUND, 25 March 2010, Davao City 200 Interview with author, 22 March 2010, Manila 201 For example, according to TFM the region of Mindjola is especially repressive and the law does not have much meaning there. To illustrate, the TFM spokesperson told that whereas in general you are free to organize rallies, without encountering repression, this is not the case for Mindjola, saying: “there is no rule there; there they can disperse you whenever they want.” Interview with author, 27 March 2010, Manila 86
payment of bail. In 2009 their case was dismissed for lack of merit.202 These cases take away time and financial resources from communities, also when in the end they are dismissed. Legal cases are particularly problematic, as analysts have suggested that without money, access to the judicial system and a good defence become increasingly compromised. In addition, due to the enormous backlog, cases can take a very long time to proceed (Hutchcroft, 2007:19). NGOs claim that landowners like to keep the cases on-going, because it is a means of pressure of the landowner to the claimant.203 According to the director of MPC, in the area where banana plantation Dole is active, all of the lawyers are on the payroll of Dole and communities will find it difficult to get lawyers to represent them.204Centrosaka said that landowners are “forum shopping:” filing cases in various courts in order to postpone the actual installation of ARB’s.205 Because the landowners used to file so many criminal cases and restraining orders, finally the Supreme Court confirmed that all these cases that are related to the agrarian reform have to be dealt with by the Department of Agrarian Reform. This was a victory for TFM.206 Not only community members face criminal charges in the struggle for land reform. Also lawyers collective BalaodMindanao reported to have been accused of oral defamation by a plantation company after speaking in a rally, as well as accused by a landowner for conduct unbecoming of a lawyer with the threat of disbarment. The cases were later dismissed. The spokesperson was concerned that these criminal cases scare lawyers away from choosing this field to work in as it has led lawyers to change to another field and complicated their recruitment of new lawyers. In addition, defending their own lawyers in court, takes their time and resources from traveling to villages.207 NGOs working on agrarian reform often face the negative label of association with the communist rebels, which can severely impede their work. PhilNET for example reported that their partner organization PRDCI (a former ICCO partner) was branded as a communist organization, because of their work at the local level. The military told them to stop working in that area. Centrosaka has a partner that was on the ‘order of battle,’ Elvira Baladad of the Macabud Farmers, which affects her mobility in the area. She cannot organize there anymore as she fears for her life. Centrosaka maintains that she was very successful and thus may have developed enemies. They reported her case to the media in press statements. According to PhilNET, this branding happens to anyone who works on agrarian reform or is demanding
Document received during interview with TFM, ‘Agrarian Reform-Related Violence and Human Rights Violations in TFM Areas in Davao Oriental’ 203 ICCO partner the Agrarian Justice Foundation, Inc. (AJFI) pays for the bails of poor people in the legal system as they claim that many large landowners use the Philippine legal system, which costs a lot of money and can take a long time, as an opportunity to be obstructive towards the government and poor people who don't own land. “It is the policy of the Agrarian Justice Foundation, Inc. (AJFI) to grant financial assistance for legal expenses to deserving agrarian reform beneficiaries who have been unjustly charged in court by landowners for various offenses, for the purpose of delaying or hampering the implementation of the agrarian reform program.” http://agrarianjusticefoundation.org/programs.htm 204 Interview with author, 25 March 2010, Davao City 205 Interview with author, 26 March 2010, Manila. A similar remark was made by Butch Olano from PARFUND who reported that corporations can easily send twenty lawyers who are challenging titles, the agrarian reform as such and look for exemptions, interview with author, 25 March 2010, Davao City. 206 Interview with author, 27 March 2010, Manila 207 Interview with author, 22 March 2010, Manila 87
higher wages, claiming that “in the Philippines, if you raise issues of the marginalized population, you are branded as a communist front.”208Balaod Mindanao reported that their organization had been branded by the military as belonging to the NPA. This forced one of their board members to step down from the board when she was applying to become a regional trial judge.209TRICOM found out that they are qualified as front organizations in the military’s PowerPoint presentation and the military requested access to their seminars. 210 One of the members of ATM (Friends of the Earth Philippines, LRC) was also said to be on the order of battle. As a consequence they were being followed and their cell phones intercepted. 211 IDIS informed that in Compostela the military put up banners saying that MAAS = NPA (MAAS = movement against aerial spraying). Apart from the label to be associated with the extreme left, NGOs can face other attempts to discredit their work. For example, IDIS told that the military had sent around a petition in favour of aerial spraying. According to IDIS, the community members had signed it because they didn’t dare not to. Another negative label that is sometimes used against NGOs is that they are just interested in receiving money from foreign donors. IDIS reported that corporations tell their workers, that the NGOs want to close down the plantations and that then there won’t be any jobs.212 NGOs also criticized the spaces of dialogue for solving claims regarding land and natural resources. Specific criticisms exist with regards to the requirement of free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous people.213 Citing the report by the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People, Hutchcroft notes that in the face of economic activities such as logging, mining, multi-purpose dams, commercial plantations, and other development projects “entire areas are reported to have been devastated without regard to the wishes and rights of indigenous communities” (2007:15). For example, the World Organization Against Torture describes the 1995 Mining Code as “one of the most favourable to foreign mining companies anywhere in the world” allowing 100% foreign ownership of mining projects, including the possibility to repatriate all profits and the guarantee against expropriation by the State (OMCT 2008:21-22). Last but not least, the government commits itself to ensure the removal of all obstacles to mining, including settlements and farms (ibid). The Mining Code is thus used to sidestep the protections of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) as many minerals are in indigenous territories. ATM reported that twice they experienced that a local mayor who refused to consent to a mining project was suspended for six months. Another mayor was then installed who would give the needed consent. This led Haribon, a member of ATM, to withdraw from that area.214
Interview with author, 22 March 2010, Manila Interview with author, 22 March 2010, Manila 210 Previously TRICOM was aligned with extreme leftist organizations. There was a split and TRICOM continued as a more neutral organization. Still, this stigma was still sticking to them. Thus, when they organized a meeting in local communities, members of the police or military would be present to monitor. In order to avoid this suspicion, TRICOM decided to participate in the so-called “accreditation-process.” Interview with author, 24 March 2010, Davao City 211 Interview with author, 26 March 2010, Manila 212 Interview with author, 24 March 2010, Davao City 213 This was for example noted by TRICOM and ATM 214 Interview with author, 26 March 2010, Manila 88
Davao City For example Centrosaka. Also BalaodMindanao reported to have put a lot of emphasis on security plans and trainings on how to secure themselves when they go to the communities and travel from one place to another.216 IDIS even asked for professional help (training on security and safety). Another important hunger strike was held in demand of distribution of hacienda Bacan. Several NGOs have reported that there were cases where they had to withdraw (temporarily) from an area due to security concerns. at times even convincing a broader audience of the justness of the cause. On the other hand. NGOs point out that it shouldn’t be the case that citizens go to such lengths to enforce their legal rights. NGOs also reported that killings tend to make people more determined to obtain what they had been fighting for. 218 Interview with author. they returned to organizing and picked it up from where they were before the killing. For Pakisama. For example. which is owned by Mike Arroyo.218 The response to violent incidents has been largely reactive. 2008. I received this press clipping from the impressive news archive of TFM. the death of René Peñas inspired not only his co-leaders and members of their own organization. 25 March 2010. in Negros Occidental. In one of the hunger strikes.Impact on operational space and response capacity It is difficult to assess the effects of the political killings on the operational space of NGOs. PARFUND indicated that this incident has provided more space. NGOs reported that the killings do scare some communities into less confrontational tactics. 25 March 2010. and one of them even decided to hide for a time to lessen possibilities of getting hurt. Although the community of the murdered president of Pakisama stopped their work for a while. An example of such a tactic has been the long march organized by TFM. Furthermore.217 These actions are generally judged as successful. Landowners now know that this can happen and the Department of Agrarian Reform has an incentive that it should be avoided to happen again. All NGOs issue press releases in reaction to violent incidents. Jester P. however. as it has set a precedent. NGOs sometimes have resorted to tactics that draw a lot of media-attention to their campaigns and demands. The participation of various people from the clergy gave the march more status. where again bishops have joined the farmers. the number of harassment cases has decreased now and the tactic of landowners has shifted to the “lease-back” approach where ARBs lease their land back to the landowner. and they went to the mayor. They set up a buddy system and changed meeting venues.215 Surveillance and threats affect the mobility of NGO workers. This hunger strike was held in front of the House of Representatives to call for the extension of CARP. 2008. but even their sympathizers from the middle class. She ordered the police and armed forces to enter in hacienda Velez Malaga to protect the farmers. ‘Bishops join farmers on hunger strike’ in: People’s Journal December 16. This specific action has led to a response by the president herself. Our interviewee reported that she cut her hair to change her appearance. CARET and Mindanao People’s Caucus 217 Manalastas. Other highly publicized actions have been hunger strikes. On the one hand. According to Butch Olano from PARFUND. TFM and PARFUND staff began travelling in teams. PhilNET wanted to clear their names of killed leaders who had been called “trespassers” and argued that they were “claimants” and 215 216 Interview with author. there was the real possibility of dying for two farmers. Davao City 89 . the husband of President Gloria Arroyo. they went to the police to report the incidents.
in parts of the south. for example because landowners strategically don’t show up the first two times that a hearing is scheduled and only show up the third time. According to International Crisis Group. both the NPA and the military have camps and checkpoints with fighting taking place irregularly. 27 March 2010. PARFUND. the military makes a strong effort to counter the recruitment. many NGOs reported that they pro-actively approach local governments and military in the area to introduce themselves and explain their objectives and take time to prove that they were not linked to any rebel group. arson. They invited the military to come to the trainings to witness what they are doing. TFM even secured a regular radio program to counter negative propaganda of the landowners (this program now is one of the highest rating-programs in the area). They have to deal with strong repression and intimidation. PhilNet. This was done by TFM. therefore making it a sanctuary for Jemaah Islamiyah fugitives (Hutchcroft 2007:15). The NPA has a “presence” in several areas. This lack of government control affects NGOs that operate in zones of conflict and very isolated places. the Philippines is in fact a failed state. TFM provided me with an overview listing all the current legal cases in which they are involved 90 . Now the military is working with PRDCI. Their immediate reaction put the military on the defensive. and witness to see whether it was on agriculture or not. The most important and successful response strategies have been to build good relations with local governments and visible mobilizations at the national level. and the creation of an Autonomous Region (ARMM). In these areas. In order to counter the negative label of association with the NPA. Basic safety in conflict areas and isolated places The Philippines are a weak state and the government lacks factual control in various areas. In the entire territory of the archipelago. TRICOM. the armed group of the communist party. which means that the government cannot enter the area without paying money and/or asking permission. and Centrosaka Inc. They made representations at the local level with their legal documents. There are two ongoing armed conflicts in the Philippines. as well as various paramilitary and 219 Interview with author. Again in other areas. It is clear that NGOs and communities working for agrarian reform operate in a risky and constricted space. criminalization and stigmatization. PhilNET immediately reacted. some Islamic terrorist groups such as the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group are also active in this area.that they were on the lands as part of the process of engagement in land reform. Some NGOs also dedicated part of their budget to explain their goals in the media. there has not been much institutionalized or coordinated effort to respond to the killings. Despite negotiations. there is an armed conflict between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government. Some NGOs also invited renowned and nonideological personalities to serve as board members of their organizations. To complicate matters. In other areas.219 These proceedings tend to be prolonged. or threats. and they issued a press statement. When their partner PRDCI was branded as a communist front. the NPA is attempting to recruit and mobilize communities. Beyond this. fighting still continues. TFM has reported that in several instances it has filed criminal complaints against (former) landowners or guards for offenses like attempted murder. the government is combating the NPA. went to the department of agricultural reform to ask for their endorsement. In Mindanao.
In addition. and cultural rights (OMCT. robbery. intrusion of military personnel in their education activities. In addition. thus affecting their operational space. 2008:44). Widespread daily violence is the result of a weak government. Donors will have to deal with these military strategies. as they risk theft. kidnapping. This limits severely the operational space of NGOs as they operate in daily insecurity. In conflict zones and isolated areas NGOs thus face potential threats from armed rebel groups. they argue that it heightens their chance to become a target of bandits for the firearms and money. social. The government offered guards.org. and the presence of many other armed actors on the stage.html 91 . but TRICOM prefers to maintain a neutral position. Davao City 222 ICCO-partner Kalimudan Foundation. being members or sympathizers of the NPA. Inc. or being engaged in ‘terrorist’ activity because of protests in defence of their economic. http://kalimudan. ambush. 2007:186). is an organization that has been working with victims of the conflict and organized the Multi-Sectoral Volunteer for the Disaster Assistance (MSVDA) that addressed the needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the two provinces of Lanao. such as basic insecurity and humanitarian problems such as refugees and road blockades (see also Amnesty International 2009. communities.criminal armed groups (Estifania Co & Neame. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people. The director of the Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC) told about an incident where the military labelled internally displaced persons (IDPs) as “enemy reserve force” which led to a prohibition for the World Food Program to get through their checkpoint. and the military. people’s organizations and NGOs have to be careful not to raise suspicions from any of the armed actors. This in turn is reinforced by the absence of the rule of law and a lack of protection of civilians and total impunity of crimes.php. for example. no control over army and police force. diminishing the attention for poverty 220 Estifania Co & Neame note that the space in areas that are under control of non-state armed actors is highly constricted as “perceived challenges to the political and military programs of those actors face lethal responses” (2007:185).afrim. has in this regard commented on the militarization of indigenous areas and how indigenous communities get caught up in the fighting or are accused of rebellion. Pakisama reported that during the past five years. ordinary bandits and criminals. in some of their areas in Southern Luzon. http://www. their organizations have experienced heavy militarization like overpresence of check points in highways.org/about. The on-going fighting in these armed conflicts creates a situation of basic insecurity. TRICOM. or because of suspicion to belong to the military.ph/mpp/mppprofiles2.221 The “Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao” (ARMM) actually displays problems as described in the ideal type on conflict zones. 24 March 2010. NGOs also reported threats from the NPA either because their NGO activity would lessen the revolutionary base from the community220. Various NGOs have reported that they were branded to be sympathizers of the NPA (in one case the MILF) and thus encountered harassment from the military. Rodolfo Stavenhagen.222 Ed Quitoriano signals the tendency of securitization of aid. 221 Interview with author. and killing when they travel through or work in these areas. and ransacking of their offices. This mainly affects their mobility. for example detailing the mortar shelling of an IDP camp). experienced threats from bandits during their work with indigenous people in Mindanao. For example.
Lara Jr.226 In addition. A colleague of the director of the Mindanao People’s Caucus was very vocal about his opposition to the Davao Death Squad and got killed.228 Impact on operational space and response The operational space of NGOs is clearly affected by the abovementioned restrictions. in the province of Maguindanao in Mindanao 57 civilians were killed. USAID. 26 March 2010.inquirer. by Prof. and in Davao City there is already a Death Squad active targeting petty criminals. Good offices by the church led to their release. He also claims involvement of drug traders with warlords and political killings in Mindanao as the Philippines has turned into a transit port. two students were doing research for ATM on access for lands for Indigenous People. 231 Interview with author. there are reports of increased communal violence and vigilantism in Mindanao while the government is handing out weapons for citizens to protect themselves (AHRC. ‘The ruthless political entrepreneurs of Muslim Mindanao’ available at [accessed on 17 June 2010]: http://planetphilippines.224 On November 23. ‘Maguindanao massacre worst ever for journalists’ in: Philippine Daily Inquirer 26 November 2009. Lara Jr. 223 224 Interview with author. 228 Interview with author. the researchers have to be careful not to travel at night. and follow strict security protocols. available at [accessed 17 June 2010]: http://newsinfo. “Remember Maguindanao”. and the Philippine National Police has created similar units called the Police Auxiliaries (PAX). Alcuin. when visiting indigenous peoples coordinate it beforehand with the chiefs. 27 November 2009.231 NGOs thus are limited in the geographical area in which they can operate and they constantly have to negotiate their neutrality and follow security protocols to ensure their safety. 2010.230 ATM informed us that in 2008. Jose Maria Sison. Manila 92 . Organizations affected by these restrictions have been research institutions who work on agrarian issues and indigenous peoples (Centrosaka Inc. 2009. They were abducted by the military after they had been labeled as sympathizers for the NPA. http://edicio. Sison. International League of Peoples' Struggle 227 The military has created self-defense groups called Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAGFU). which is tolerated by the mayor (HRW. Manila 229 Interview with author. Manila 230 In the cases where travels are undertaken. Manila Francisco J. of which 34 were journalists.229 Security precautions are an integral part of the training of their researchers. as politicians are forced to negotiate with them. Press Statement. ‘The structure of reactionary violence and human rights violations in the Philippines’.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20091126238554/Maguindanao-massacre-worst-ever-for-journalists 226 Francisco J. listen to the advice of regional liaison officers. available at the Weblog of Edicio de la Torre. the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank have suspended their financial aid to Mindanao because of that reason. 2009). to take nonstop buses. 2008:1)227.225 The origins of the massacre are generally attributed to the rivalry between the Ampatuan and Mangudadatu clans. and AFRIM) who tend to travel to remote areas and areas where the conflict is ongoing. Chairperson.wordpress.com/politics/the-ruthless-political-entrepreneurs-of-muslim-mindanao/ . 4 March 2010 [accessed 20 March 2010].com/.223 Francisco Lara from the LSE Crisis States Research Center in London claims that foreign aid that was sent to the ARMM has largely landed in the hands of warlords. 25 March 2010.reduction. 21 March 2010. Centrosaka reported that they could not send their researchers to Davao del Norte where major banana plantations are as they could not guarantee the security of their interviewers. Jose Maria. 2009. 225 Papa. 26 March 2010.
when she was travelling to a military camp in Sulu. In several instances. and he portrayed support for the agreement as being pro-MILF. Manila 93 . They threatened the NPA to leave the area and the people would be angry with the NPA. as he was against the peace agreement. one of the partner MFIs of MCPI decided to retreat from an area because they were extorted to pay “revolutionary tax” to the NPA. The director of the Mindanao Peace Caucus (MPC) was accused of being a supporter of the MILF due to their organization’s support for the peace agreement forged by the rebel group and the government peace panel. in four cases such a robbery led to the death of the microfinance officer and it is recognized as an increasing problem. providing a clear incentive for community care. it would be robbing from the people. microfinance loan officers have been robbed as they came to collect money in isolated places. They explained that the program tries to help the poor people and thus by paying revolutionary tax. 25 March 2010. Davao City 233 Interview with author. such as the Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC) which was active as a ceasefire monitoring organization. Instead. which was a very heavy decision for them.” The increased popularity has also led to criminals knowing when the money is collected. Davao City 234 Interview with author.234 The revolutionary tax demanded by the NPA poses another problem. Governor Piñol fought against the peace agreement and eventually got it declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. 24 March 2010. MMC told that one of their partner organizations in Nagusa has negotiated relations with the NPA and thus avoids paying the revolutionary tax. which is the reason there is no documenting of the incidents of harassment. as many human rights violations take place in Sulu and they perceive that after their withdrawal the number of violations has increased. such as ICCO-partners Mindanao Microfinance Council (MMC) and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. in Davao 232 She told us that governor Piñol mentioned her in every speech as a sympathizer of the MILF.232 On the other hand. they decided to pull out of Sulu. The policy has been implemented that the money is only considered paid once it has gotten to the bank. However. the director received death threats on a daily basis. MPC volunteers were targeted as well. the MILF in its turn is also suspicious of the MPC as they are sometimes seen together with the general of the military. Between 2007 and 2009. One team leader of a ceasefire monitoring group decided to stop with the work. This led the mayor of the area to promise to halt the cases. 25 March 2010. In past years the popularity of microfinance has led to their expansion into areas farther away from what they called “centers of protection. During the fighting in 2008. After this incident. although this was not a regular occurrence. as in the last office the staff didn’t feel safe anymore. MPC has had to transfer their office because of the threats. community members often accompany the loan officer on the way back. The director was almost kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group. The military responded to the cases by threatening to pull out their forces from the area. her colleague got kidnapped. As a strategy to protect the loan officers. interview with author. In at least one instance.Also organizations that are involved with the peace processes are affected. For MCC. There is no police protection for the microfinance loan officers.233 Specific mention deserve the loan officers of Micro-Finance-Institutions (MFIs). According to the director of MPC the arson was planned and deliberate. (MCPI). MPC also reported about severe problems with the military after they had filed cases on behalf of community members about more than 3.000 houses that were burnt down during a military operation.
It is clear that different restrictive actions and policies by multiple actors often play together to set boundaries as to what NGOs can do or pose risks when they make certain claims or enter certain territories. very few microfinance institutions are active. the truck of an Alter Trade Corporation (ATC) in favor of fair trade was burned down after refusing to pay “revolutionary tax” to the NPA (Encarnacion Tadem.pdf 238 For example. ICCO provides a guarantee to a loan provided by Oikocredit. One partner of MMC had to leave the area of Davao Oriental after they had taken away their motorcycle. as that is where poor people are. Several NGOs pointed out that it is a weakness of the Philippine NGOs 235 They consider whether they could (1) somehow support MFIs from other regions to go there. In this section. Perceived risk is the main reason that MFIs stay away and they need the resources to protect them as there is no protection from the government. Generally. the NPA commanders are strict and there they have to pay revolutionary tax. (2) look for existing MFIs there and provide capacity building. Manila 94 .nl/delivery/main/en/project. 2009:233).com/documents/pdf/projects//scarbidc%20philipines-uk. And regular lending institutions do not go there either. the risk is here more general. for example mining companies also have to pay revolutionary taxes to avoid being bombed. In correspondence with their vision to work in “frontier areas. 236 Interview with ATM. Whereas there are various networks (all NGOs reported to be part of many networks.235 Unlike the situation in the topic discussed previously where leaders are disproportionately targeted for harassment. indeed.237 In another instance. A proactive. where at this moment. because of the armed conflict. we have analysed three specific areas in which NGOs face severe restrictions on their operational space. prevent or avoid these restrictions. coordinated response by the NGO community has been rare. such as environmental networks.238 Responses In the previous section. which are risky because of the instability. 26 March 2010. Haribon explained to make courtesy calls to both the military and the NPA when they want to work in a specific area.phtml?p=en-project&project=268. (3) build a new MFI and operate it.Oriental.236 Instability also affects investment. interview with author. there is no single forum for the NGO community. MMC specifically requested if it were possible that ICCO provide a guarantee fund to encourage MFIs to go to these conflicted areas.” MMC is now considering expanding into the ARMM. as it clearly poses the challenges listed before. or the organization that was set up to bring NGOs together: CODE-NGO). 26 March 2010. The response to these dangers has been mainly reactive. the political partylist Akbayan. oikocredit. They lack the means to maintain the plantation for which they need loans. and whether NGOs act on their own or in alliance with other organizations. we analyse the response strategies that NGOs have developed to counter.icco. We specifically have looked whether NGOs tend to be reactive or whether they have developed pro-active responses. The Mindanao People’s Council reported to have conducted security trainings and various NGOs reported to have engaged in dialogues with various parties to explain their objectives and presence. Manila 237 http://www. ICCO partner SCARBIDC is a cooperative that due to the agrarian reform in 1989 received ownership over a plantation on the island Basilan (located mainly within the ARMM). responses to the restrictions faced by NGOs have been confronted on a case by case basis (reactive) and by individual NGOs. Indeed. they know that the NPA actually attend their meetings and activities in some cases. Therefore they are now investigating the possibilities how to penetrate the area.
2008). For example. Good. p. Bacolod City. interview with author. Manila For example Centrosaka spoke positively about the response of the Human Rights Commission when called upon. but this tends to be anecdotic or partial. including the killings. Food First International Switzerland once sent out a fact finding team after killings in Davao. Partly. Centrosaka Inc.239 In addition. Manila 241 Gomez. as part of the risks of organizing. Often also the Human Rights Commission is contacted. Partly. 22 March 2010. No. 22 March 2010. there were also pro-active initiatives. TFM told that volunteers from the International Peace Observers Network (IPON) stay with farmers for a period of three months.242 The international community has put pressure on the Philippines after the situation with political killings became more publicized. particularly the killings. This process means that NGOs 239 240 For example Balaod Mindanao mentioned this in the interview with author. Regarding the lack of a coordinated response to the physical risk that activists face. see http://www. as well as for taking more proactive measures. or lists produced by Karapatan. For example TFM have cooperated with the Melo Commission presenting evidence of killings of their community organizers. there is a lack of good documentation of the restrictions that NGOs face.org/ 95 . The Human Rights Commission is such an available organ.1. injuries. NGOs coordinate this response in their networks and with other NGOs in order to issue joined press statements to increase the legitimacy. reliable and specific documentation is a first step to effective advocacy. On a positive note. for example recorded by the AHRC. reported to contact the Human Rights Commission as a preventative measure before they conduct land occupations. 167. even before any violent act has occurred. Apart from reactive responses. instead of comprehensive and complete. PhilNET acknowledged that they don’t keep any records of killings or criminal cases. November 27. not sharing much information or not following up on initial efforts of coordination. TFM was the only organization that kept record of these numbers. Other NGOs have attempted to counter the restriction by going to the mayor. Some data is available. this can be explained by the fact that NGOs tend to view these restrictions. 2006.240 Generally NGOs respond reactively to incidents. because of security concerns. NGOs campaigned for intervention and contributed to the various investigations that have been conducted. and the police or by issuing press statements. the director of MPC remarked cynically “we attend funerals” but then there is not more action. 242 For example Balaod Mindanao. Various NGOs have reported to have stopped their activities in a specific area. Manila 243 For more information about the IPON program. In reaction to the political killings. and Gilbert P. Sometimes. An important pro-active tool that NGOs use individually is the “accreditation process” which is laid down in the local government codes. we have looked at available structures for effective responses to restrictions. 26 March 2010. Carla P. ‘Melo hearings in Negros start today’ in: The Visayan Daily Star Vol. For example. the lack of a coordinated response can be attributed to the ideological polarization of the NGO-sector.241 NGOs have also contributed information to the UN Rapporteur on Extrajudicial killings as he visited the Philippines (Alston. 2006. NGOs tend to interpret many of the threats to their work as the proof of their effectiveness. and criminal charges. interview with author.that despite the existence of many networks and alliances they tend to work in isolation. Bayoran. 25. which has been described to work effectively. the CIVICUS updates.ipon-philippines. Unfortunately. such as setting up a legal fund. the local government unit.243 According to the TFM leader this was very effective in keeping violence away.
” interview with author. not only with local government units. Manila 96 . but will act accordingly. Dizon. even president Arroyo cannot just ignore their opinion. NGOs unanimously emphasized the political power of the church. The media has proven to be a good ally for NGOs in achieving this.244 There are various instances of successful actions in which bishops participated. Nikko. 26 March 2010. asked about how they were able to counter efforts to label them as terrorists. such as a hunger strike and long march to Manila. pointing out that this is often a misconception among NGOs who fail to put resources into the relation with the media. several of the NGOs that face physical repression have invested in security trainings and other security measures.represent themselves to the mayor and the local government councils to take place on advisory boards. It is clear that this can be crucial in countering restrictions. even though the Philippines are a secular state. but also for example with the military. Likewise. is to secure important well placed people in the board of the NGO who have an impeccable track record and can thus safeguard the image of the NGO as well as can arrange the connections with high-ranked people when it is necessary. A key element in a good media strategy is to “build upon the justness of the cause” as TFM puts it. 2008. and there is a very free press (Hutchcroft. held on March 22. NGOs put a lot of effort in presenting their work and building their image. there are various progressive people within the media. Various NGOs reported to invest in creating good contacts. One strategy. Even though the media is owned by the same families that hold economic and political power. for example by TFM. In order to counter negative labelling. This for example also involved a good preparation of actions such as land occupations (more appropriately called “land entry” as community members tend to have the CLOA). 2007 at the Film Centre of the University of the 244 A well known example of successful support by church leaders is the ‘running priest’ Robeter Reyes who has participated in a 157 kilometer protest run in support of the extension of CARP. Several cases have indicated that good connections can secure police protection or a police investigation where otherwise no action would be undertaken. ‘‘Running priest’ backs Arroyo tenants’ in: Philippine Daily Inquirer. 2008 245 For example. The message for public opinion has to be that it is clear that the claimants have legitimate titles in the form of CLOA and that thus the landowners are resisting the legitimate entry of claimants. the president will do. For example. At key points. public opinion is generally influenced by key people. with various journalists favouring agrarian reform. As discussed before. December 2. several NGOs mentioned that they turned to ‘friends’ within the military or within the church to ask for help to respond to restrictions. 2007:8). TFM specifically allots a part of its resources to the media and even advertisements and emphasizes that good media mobilization is not about writing good press releases but about building relationships. Some hunger strikes became very high profile and made it to the front pages of newspapers. An example of a proactive as well as coordinated response is the initiative of Code-NGO. the spokesperson of ATM said: “when bishops talk. This process provides an opportunity for NGOs to establish their legitimacy and clearly distinguish themselves from the rebel groups.245 All mentioned that when bishops say something. such as when TFM secured a visit to president Arroyo. th In its 4 national congress. The church can be a good ally for NGOs when they are successful in mobilizing the progressive bishops. TFM reports that the statement by bishop Navarra that he is pro-agrarian reform and that the killings should stop was effective to sway the public opinion.
Advanced trainings teach how to gather documents. The concept of “human rights defenders” was not well known among all NGO-staff.code-ngo.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=121&Itemid=121 Interview with author. They usually used the term “paralegal training. and how courts work. 26 March 2010. The IDIS representative comments: “instead of having a Task Force to do fact finding once a killing has occurred.246 This includes providing support to NGO workers and volunteers in high risk projects and areas. 24 March 2010.tfdp. Manila 249 For more information about the launch of this project. and to give trainings on it. the UN Declaration. One of them is called “Caring for development NGO worker”. Other NGOs have already adopted the Human Rights Defenders terminology. how to write an affidavit. with a fact sheet and information on who to contact and when.Philippines. Another example of a coordinated and pro-active response was the petition. the well known peasant leader who got killed in 2008 248 Interview with author.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=24&Itemid=36 97 .249 246 247 http://www. as well as how to do human rights monitoring and documentation. she refers to René Peñas.”247 Informal contacts made this initiative possible.” ATM explained that basic trainings teach on basic human rights. among others. who have set up a human rights defenders project in relation to the anti-mining campaign and for communities affected by mining activities. including. see http://www. Another proactive and coordinated initiative has been the setting up of the ‘Defend the Defenders’ fund with money from the Dutch embassy (see box). making some of them interested in training on the subject. Davao City. a legal collective (Balaod Mindanao) and ATM reported to be using the term.248 Balaod Mindanao also reported to give security trainings. the Bill of Rights and socioeconomic rights. they wanted to do something to prevent this. such as in the case of Ka René. One human rights NGO (PAHRA). such as the Task Force Detainees.net/index. as a friend from the IDIS representative who works at the Dutch embassy happened to visit her in Davao City at the moment that the surveillance and threats were going on. signed by 600 journalists and thirty supporting organizations urging the decriminalization of libel (Hutchcroft 2007:9). the provision of legal assistance and a legal assistance fund. Code-NGO adopted six thrusts for 2007-2011. Various NGOs reported their activity in training community members to be aware of their rights.
the ICCO country representative and the TFM leader visited the Dutch embassy in Manila and once they visited the Philippine embassy in The Hague. They also at times write letters for example to request an independent investigation in a specific case. the embassy website posted the “European Human Rights Defenders Guidelines” in a prominent place on its website. They promised to bring the issue of extrajudicial killings under the attention of the relevant people. they only choose to be present during trials. On the one hand. The embassy recently initiated support for a project "Defend the Defenders" in cooperation with the law school of Ateneo University. as his story was “impressive. For example. often in coordination with other EU countries. For this reason.CASE BOX: Mobilizing the embassies ICCO-staff twice organized a visit to the involved embassies together with a TFM staff member. The Dutch embassy in the Philippines is receptive to human rights issues. Anita van de Haar-Conijn. Once. Attention and backing by important people seems to scare away the people responsible for the killings. This however creates the risk that NGOs simply take over the tasks of the government instead of improving governance. This is deduced from the fact that peasant leaders in local communities are targeted much more frequently than urban NGO leaders who receive more media attention. For the embassy it is difficult to get too much involved with NGOs because they cannot be partial and often don't lack the means to do research after the exact background of incidents.” She reported that the visit stimulated the embassy to have funded a documentary that was made about the organizing by TFM. The ICCO representative as well as the TFM spokesperson reported that the response of the Dutch embassy in Manila was positive. the weakness of the government in providing security for its citizens and NGOs turns self-protection into a central 98 . Conclusion & recommendations It is not an overstatement to say that the Philippines have a more vibrant NGO and civil society community than its neighbours. and they were present during its launch. when the cases are extremely clear. Counsellor Political Affairs andDeputy Head of Mission of the Dutch Embassy recalled the visit of the TFM staff member very well. because President Arroyo was going on a tour through Europe. On the other hand. Visible presence is one of their main tools. in order not to compromise their credibility. This fund gives money to people who are threatened as they can apply for the fund for a financial support for legal assistance or for example a lock on their door. Van de Haar-Conijn emphasized that the embassy appreciates the contact with Dutch NGOs as an alternative source of information about the Philippines. the very weakness of the government provides NGOs with the possibility to set up their own mechanisms and networks and take on what needs to be done. The ICCO representative suggested that such visits provided the leader of TFM with an extra layer of security. Operational space for NGOs in the Philippines is heavily determined by the weak government.
The existence of an NGO generally indicates that some social problem exists and that work is needed to improve and deal with fundamental interests that have created the problem in the first place. They regretted the lack of funding for 250 Interview with author. however. We have identified three areas where NGOs experience the interaction of restrictive actions and policies that challenge the very space in which they operate: (1) NGOs operating at the extreme left: consequences of a counterinsurgency focus on civil society. Public demonstrations. we have identified the existing actions and policies that restrict the operational space of NGOs in the Philippines. community organizers and individual activists. the spaces for dialogue are specifically facilitated by the state legislation. The administrative context for NGOs is generally good as there are no difficult registration hurdles or otherwise bureaucratic obstacles to pursue their activities. NGOs have found it difficult to turn their participation in these spaces into real influence on the development of policy and decision-making. 22 March 2010. Negative labelling is strongly related to the military tendency to view organizations involved in land or labour reform as possible communists. even though there are signals of a decline since 2008. they emphasized that their space for operation expanded. This creates the pressures on the operational space for NGOs operating on issues traditionally associated with the left. can be (violently) repressed. whereas issues of gender and sexuality are contested. Criminalization plays a role for rural communities making land claims. (2) NGOs and community organizers making claims about land and natural resources. NGOs working on these issues have relatively much operational space in comparison to Indonesia and the Central American countries. as well as for those organizations that are identified as front organizations for the communist insurgency. Further. at the same time. Still. Various groups in the Philippines still operate underground. the Philippines still has armed communist rebellion. urban and professional NGOs have a relatively protected operational space compared to grassroots organizations. In this regard.issue for defending operational space. however. Ed de la Torre pointed out that the underground is an illegalized space in which actors attempt to create space. when they view other arenas as too restricted to work. Indeed.250 Professional NGOs such as NATCCO and APFT reported that they experience no restrictions on their operational space. Manila 99 . as we will see. In fact. We want to emphasize that this does not mean that the NGOs operating in these areas never face challenges. In our interviews. Furthermore. the space for these NGOs to engage in that controversial battle can be relatively free and without fundamental challenges. labor. This means that the work of these NGOs can be deeply political and controversial. or urban poor have relatively a lot of space for their work. (3) NGOs operating in conflict areas and isolated places. The weakness of the government also gives way to nonstate actors who dominate the political and economic scene vis-à-vis NGOs. In this chapter. Thus. Physical repression and intimidation in the form of political killings and death threats stand out in the Philippines as a severe problem that has emerged over the past ten years. they do. All NGOs emphasized the importance of community organizing to be effective. NGOs working on gender issues. Finally. This seems to be the experience for the majority of professional NGOs. In contrast to the Latin-American cases in this comparative study. specifically those dedicated to service delivery. NGOs offered some recommendations for ICCO.
that work. It remains to be seen how NGOs and the government are able to use the new political context. prior. specifically in areas of ancestral domain. The new Aquino government will possibly offer new opportunities for cooperation between government and civil society and thus dramatically affect the operational space NGOs entertain. Other NGOs suggested that a role that international organizations can play is toorganize projects in which NGOs from different political orientations are enabled to work together. especially also in places where the land and mining activities are contested. ICCO can emphasize the importance of respecting free. opens up the possibility for ICCO to use its Dutch contacts to make these mining companies accountable for their activities in the Philippines. 100 . and informed consent requirement regarding mining exploration. Specifically. The important presence of Dutch mining companies in the Philippines.
This report is based on interviews with NGOs in Jakarta and Banda Aceh.5. Human Rights Watch. For a detailed overview of our interviews. the Centre for Indonesian Law and Policy Studies (PSHK). ICCO supports about ten organizations in Papua. the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia (Komnas HAM) and the report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders. even though the space is still firmly determined by the (historical) context of the Indonesian state. Interviews were conducted from 29 March – 8 April 2010 in Indonesia. 251 ICCO also supported organizations in Sulawesi. HRW. and various human rights organizations such as the Asian Human Rights Commission. We interviewed mainly ICCO partners. by adding the perspective of NGOs in Aceh we have tried to include the perspective from a region. Freedom House. We have selected for interviews those ICCO partners as well as other NGOs who have indicated (either to ICCO staff or in any public statement) to experience pressure on their operational space. such as for example that foreign press has been banned from the region since 2003 (Freedom House.251 The historical importance of Java in Indonesia is readily understood by the fact that Java currently has 120 million inhabitants and the rest of Indonesia 90 million. who interpreted in all except two of the interviews conducted there. these relations are weak at the moment. Our choice to include Aceh in our research instead of Papua was based on the assessment that Aceh fits more properly in the category of partial democracies. 2010). Our findings do not necessarily apply to the other regions in Indonesia that were not explicitly included in this research. arranging the interviews. but due to internal reorganization. Aceh. where regional politics may be more relevant than national structures. In addition. we have chosen to focus on the space and the restrictions of space as NGOs experience now in this newly emerging democracy. 101 . Just as in Jakarta. but also several other NGOs to complement the picture. Both the vastness of Indonesia and the strong pushes towards decentralization of power have motivated us to include this regional perspective. We are aware of the serious limitations of space that NGOs experienced during the martial law and the violent conflict until the Helsinki Peace Accords of 2005. We have not spoken with government officials or other (business. different in many respects from the other regions in Indonesia. we have drawn upon region-specific academic literature as well as country reports provided online by CIVICUS. religious) actors outside of the NGOsector. If this is true for regions like Sulawesi or Kalimantan. we have focused entirely on the period since the first elections have taken place in 2006. It should be noted that with regards to Aceh. ICCO partners are indicated in bold. a lawyer’s collective. military. Their perspective would probably have yielded different findings than those presented here. it is certainly true for Papua which has a very particular political context. and Java (outside of Jakarta). In Banda Aceh we had an interpreter.252 Thanks to the conversations with staff in Jakarta the report reflects some of the experiences of NGOs that are nationally oriented and based in the capital. In addition to the interviews. 2009. Aceh. and Java. whereas the strong military presence in Papua gives it more authoritarian features. Indonesia – specific spots of limited operational space Introduction ICCO supports many NGOs in Jakarta (situated on Java) and is further present in Papua. Amnesty International. The interviews in Jakarta were all conducted in English. and Wahyudi Djafar from Demos. a research and advocacy association on issues of democracy and human rights. for their excellent cooperation in preparing our visit. see the appendix. and for their contribution to this chapter. Many NGOs that are working in the area of ‘service delivery’ have therefore been excluded. However. 252 We would like to thank Maria Louisa Khrisnanti from the Legal Round Table. This also means that the current report is limited.
255 The economy. 2009). This autonomy came in the hands of the districts (not the provinces). the subsequent IMF intervention. who came to power and installed the “New Order regime” until he was replaced in May 1998. education. macro-economic policy. In 2002.254Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has been in office since 2004 and was re-elected in 2009. Regional elites thus could control the most important money flows (2008:118). Indonesia is a secular state and has the world’s largest Muslim population (PRS. Regions were allowed to gain their own income with the local resources. It is currently a member of the G-20. The central state would keep 75% of the national income. and culture (Schulte Nordholt 2008:115). 2002) is regarded to have done fairly well despite the financial crisis and is described as one of the “best global performers in this downturn” (Mocuta. In the process of decentralization many new districts were created. and internal discontent about the lack of freedom (Schulte Nordholt. According to Schulte Nordholt the differences between rich and poor regions increased (2008:117). justice. Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and it has strong relations with the United States. Indonesia gained independence from the Netherlands. Abdurrahman Wahid (1999 – 2001. The military also has been involved in various businesses. also known as ‘Gus Dur’). Suharto used to give ex-military generals positions in the government at the national and regional level. Megawati (2001 – 2004) has not made much effort to narrow the power of the military. This regime change has to be understood in the context of the Asian monetary crisis of 1997. Sukarno was the first president followed in 1967 by Suharto. and fishing (2008:116). The years that followed are known as the “Reformasi. The regions would take care for infrastructure. In addition. mining. investments. creating opportunities for the local elite and access to subsidies from Jakarta (2008:118). he appointed a progressive general). these attempts ended in the end of his political career. 255 For a nuanced discussion of this phenomenon. the successor of Habibie. has attempted to place the military under the control of the politicians (for example. This has been an important start for creating civilian control over the military. Decentralization led to the division that the central government would do defense. see for example Schulte Nordholt (2008:160) 102 . 2008:16). the release of political prisoners and the admission of political parties and trade unions.Political context On 17 August 1945. industry. and religion. Since 1998. The military thus engages in many 253 254 Although for example Aditjondro (2007:108) criticizes this term. which intensified since 2002 after the terrorist attacks in Bali and Jakarta (PRS. 2008). A challenge for civilian control over the military is the fact that only 30% of the military budget is provided by the state. foreign policy. governor or mayor. Habibie started a process of decentralization of the state administration creating a high level of regional autonomy. 2006:2). as ambassador. 2008:16). there have been concerns about an islamization of Indonesia. some efforts have been undertaken to change the relation between the government and the military. Recently. The military’s influence on politics has traditionally been so important that Schulte Nordholt writes that no politician can make decisions without the consent of the military. for example as recipients of concessions for natural resource extractions (HRW. a law was adopted officially ending the military’s presence in the parliament (Nyman. The regions could keep 15% of oil profits. fiscal and monetary policy. 2009:10). environment. known as one of the “newly-industrialized economies” (Baron. trade.”253 Yusuf Habibie became president and thirty laws with reforms were enacted such as one creating freedom for the press. However. 30% of gas and 80% of logging.
a scandal has been reported involving the arrest of three KPK officials after an alleged attempt by the police and prosecutors to undermine the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission after their investigation in a case of police bribery (HRW. The Human Rights Cost of the Indonesian Military’s Economic Activities’ 257 In October 2009.261Impunity is a returning issue and the courts are rated as the worst institution in the country. 258 Indeed. 259 In 2005.258 Aditjondro even argues that instead of military reform there is the threat of remilitarization. 256 For a detailed report on military financing and specifically the detrimental effects in terms of human rights violations. There are more analysts who perceive this perverse role of the military in some of the violent conflicts in Indonesia. 2010:3). but largely staffed by military officers (HRW. Recently. There have been important efforts such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK). which is led by a civilian. and the Anticorruption Court.259Schulte Nordholt describes Indonesia as a thoroughly corrupt society. 261 Schulte Nordholt criticizes the role of political parties in the electoral democracy. 2008:100). where everything and everyone can and is bought. which emphasizes the anti-corruption activities by prosecutors. Schulte Nordholt puts the paradoxical problem as follows: “while elections give the electorate the opportunity to clear corrupt leaders. Aditjondro suspects a “riot industry” meaning that intelligence agents played a role in intensifying communal violence in order to secure military supremacy (2007:116). the party system is producing an unstoppable flood of new corrupt politicians” (2008:249). such as in Aceh and East Timor. In 2009. political parties are there to mobilize it. see HRW 2006 ‘Too High a Price.(legal and illegal) businesses to gain extra income. watchdogs and the media as well as a change in the “atmosphere in the bureaucracy” indicating increased reluctance to engage in corruption (2008:9). as well as the instigator of communal violence.256 In 2004. Instead of being accountable to their constituency. accessed 26 May 2010. the business transfers and the appointment by SBY of non-military officials for high-level government positions indicate progress. as Indonesia was rated 111 of 180 surveyed countries. The military in Indonesia is thought to be responsible for many human rights violations.transparency. Schulte Nordholt argues that the interests involved are too big to counter corruption effectively (2008:102). created in 2003. 2007). corruption is still widespread. However. Transparency International rated Indonesia as one of the most corrupt countries in the world (at 137 of 159 countries that were surveyed). 2006).257 Although military dominance still is a severe issue. What is more.260 The anti-corruption initiatives are continuously under attack. however.org/imaps/cpi2009/ 260 It has been argued that corruption transferred to the local level because of decentralisation (see for example World Bank. only people who possess (access to) capital have a chance to be elected. see for example the “Counternarrative” by Drexler as described in Braithwaite (2010:39) where she suggests that the GAM insurgency is a creation of the Indonesian military in Aceh. 2010:3). as bribes are an intrinsic part of the process of getting in the right place. These reforms have led to an improved score in the Corruption Perception Index as well as a mixed positive evaluation by the Political Risk Services. there was some improvement. for example the Anticorruption Court was judged unconstitutional (Freedom House. 2007:121). as the army viewed a chance to increase their resources both from Jakarta and from foreign investors who would pay protection money. Aditjondro. Political parties are thus used by party elites to gain access to financial sources (2008:249). such as in Maluku (Schulte Nordholt. as the government uses regional conflicts and terrorist attacks as rationales for expansion of military deployments (2007:113). President Yudhoyono did indeed issue a decree confirming this transfer. http://media. Human Rights Watch criticizes the fact that control is given to the Ministry of Defense. 103 . 2009. a law was enacted requiring military businesses to be transferred to the government (Freedom House. Indonesia was among the very most corrupt countries in the world.
262 This didn’t happen. 2006:27). And the split between the police and the military made that they both have to provide for their income. what frequently leads to conflicts between these institutions (2008:120). The regions could keep 15% of oil profits. “The state apparatus functions “weak”. might simply be captured by the already empowered elite” (Gaventer. the police leaders and the military. Only 3. He argues that it was not possible to do anything without the consent of the main actors of this shadow state: bureaucrats. Schulte Nordholt thus characterizes Indonesia as a “soft state” where laws are made but hardly enforced. such as Kalimantan and Poso. decentralization did not only bring more state. The budget for its 230 million inhabitants is 70 billion euro. 2008:101). He describes the emergence of a shadow state where governmental institutions become privatized and private interest become institutionalized (2008:119). business men. foreign policy. Indeed. and education are thus low (Schulte Nordholt. Regional elites thus came to control the most important money flows (2008:118). environment.7 million people pay any income taxes. The assumption by the World Bank and international donors was that decentralization would lead to better governance. Schulte Nordholt describes how the initiative to decentralization was taken with the ideal in mind of a neo-liberal economy with a vibrant civil society and less state. local competition between elites led to enormous violence in several cases. 2008:251). 104 . Schulte Nordholt argues that the state did not become necessarily weak. and military – the room to set their own agenda and avoid 262 Decentralization led to the division that the central government would do defense. whereas the Netherlands has a budget of 210 billion euro. and religion. 2008:115). justice. Also. but Schulte Nordholt indicates that the capacity to govern is small. but also more chaotic and corrupt than during Suharto’s regime. which would come in the hands of strong regional elites who did not have much interest in democracy and good governance (2008:118). 2008:113). and culture (Schulte Nordholt. Investments in infrastructure. The bureaucracy is fifty times bigger than at the end of the colonial period. more democracy and a stronger civil society (Schulte Nordholt. giving the political class – consisting of bureaucrats. such as the oil transportation to Japan (Schulte Nordholt. The regionalization actually led to more state. trade. The central state would keep 75% of the national income. Klinken and Barker (2009:1) characterize Indonesia today as more democratic. According to Schulte Nordholt the differences between rich and poor regions increased (2008:117). but not necessarily working for good governance and accountability. Regions were allowed to gain their own income with the local resources. business men. 30% of gas and 80% of logging. investments. explaining partially the low budget. and fishing (2008:116). but also more military to the regions. mining. fiscal and monetary policy. macro-economic policy. Instead. industry. This is exactly what Gaventer warns for: “Creation of new institutional designs of participatory governance. The regions would take care for infrastructure. Indonesia thus has a lot of state actors. in the absence of other participatory spaces which serve to provide and sustain countervailing power. This autonomy came in the hands of the districts (not the provinces). politicians.The international community has an interest in a peaceful Indonesia as 40% of the international shipping transport goes through Indonesia. health. local criminals and preman. education.
Not only the military functions outside most of any form of control (Schulte Nordholt. the Law 16/2006 introduced an independent candidate for governor election. according to Schulte Nordholt (2008:251). mayors. Still. 2007:112). 1 March 2010.html In Aceh.263 Indonesia is now categorized as a “free” society by Freedom House. the Free Aceh Movement (Braithwaite. 5/PUU-V/2007). unemployment. This power for the former GAM was consolidated in the 2009 elections where the Aceh Party won the majority of seats in the provincial parliament.democratic control. and local parliaments. Amsterdam 105 .264 Electoral democracy is functioning well. It holds regular elections. Aditjondro for example points out that the fear exists. 2010:9). 266 Interview with author. This led to the Helsinki Peace Agreement. It is this political class that threatens the functioning of the rule of law the most.undp. These criticisms were also voiced by ICCO partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan.266 Indonesia is widely viewed as a success story of democratization. and construction projects. The Congress and the president are elected. instead of the Reformasi and a punishment of the human rights violations committed by the military. Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 2010:21). 265 Our interpreter in Banda Aceh worked one year with the AMM in 2005-2006. This practice was followed by all regions in Indonesia (based on the Judicial Court decree No. 2010:11). violence continued in Aceh with specific conflicts centered on land disputes. The Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) was constituted to oversee the implementation of the various provisions of the Helsinki Accords (ibid. 265 In 2006 elections were held and a former GAM member won the post of governor (Aditjondro. especially in comparison to the limited space that was available during 263 264 http://hdrstats.4.org/en/indicators/161. In 2006 Indonesia ratified the International Covenant on Economic. It took the tsunami in December 2004 to force the different parties to come together again. in addition to internal struggles in the GAM leadership about the reintegration fund (Freedom House 2009). Reconstruction of Aceh after the tsunami and the building of a new democracy are important challenges which are not without criticisms. The Human Development Report 2009 rates Indonesia at a Gini-index of 39. 2010:13). also regional elites enjoy considerable autonomy in their decision-making. Aceh faced military occupation and martial law as a response to a strong return of the GAM. Peace negotiations mediated by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue between 2000 and 2003 failed. which gave Aceh more autonomy and considerable control over its natural resources. Operational space for NGOs has indeed increased in these years. The lack of benefit from its natural resources was one of the grievances that led to the founding of the GAM (Braithwaite. The neoliberal idea that less state would lead to better governance and more democracy is therefore a fiction. 2008:248). that non-Acehnese corporations will benefit more from the reconstruction than the Acehnese people (2007:131). This does not mean though that there is good democratic control over the governmental institutions. During this period the GAM established its own parallel government (ibid. Enormous progress such as the organization of free and fair elections and economic growth are rightly emphasized as huge achievements after the fall of Suharto in 1998. as well as governors. Aceh The political context in Aceh differs considerably from the rest of Indonesia. After 1998.
In the 90s attention to employment conflicts and human rights emerged (Schulte Nordholt. The two biggest Islamic organizations play a role in politics and in social life: Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah (Schulte Nordholt. 2006:29). Indonesia thus offers important insights for our inquiry in the room of manoeuvre that NGOs have and the restrictions that they still experience. “government bureaucrats *.] almost always believe that they alone have the right to define and protect the ‘public interest’ and usually reject the notion that NGOs or private foundations have a legitimate right to participate in the making of public policy or the implementation of public programs” (Baron. which can be seen as “anti-government” and instead use the term “LSM” which Nyman translates as “community-self-help organizations” (2006:50-51). In Indonesia. 2008:40). the military traditionally opposed the term as it could imply civilian control over the military. the traditional relation between the state and social organizations was one in which the New Order’s regime and its corporatist character would co-opt those organizations (2006:40/207). This is reflected in the tendency by NGOs to avoid the term NGO.267 In Indonesia. and that there still is a lack of awareness about it. Religious organizations play an important role in society. Civil society and NGOs Some scholars trace the roots of the current Indonesian civil society to the struggles in the nineteenth century and the anti-colonial struggle (in: Nyman. see also CSI Index. and elite competition because of decentralization are important elements. widespread corruption. various features impede the deepening of this democratic potential (Aspinall 2010). In this section. NGOs used to focus on development. according to Nyman. Nomura equally states that the term LSM was chosen to emphasize the collaborative relationship with the government (2007:501). 106 . This is supposed to be a general tendency in East and Southeast Asia where. 2002).. 2006:30ev. most Indonesian analysts prefer a less confrontational concept. In the next section we describe the history and characteristics of Indonesian civil society. church organisations. not only NGOs are important social organizations. The NGO-sector has been growing enormously since the 70s from tens of NGOs in the 70s to hundreds in the 80s and thousands in the 90s (Schulte Nordholt. 2008:37). Pioneers in this field were LBH for legal aid and Walhi. There is also suspicion of the concept of ‘civil society’ as being a Western idea. As in Indonesia the Western conceptualization of civil society is viewed as an independent force opposing the state. the majority of scholars emphasize that the concept of ‘civil society’ is entirely new. the first environmental organization (and ICCO partner in Aceh). 2008:37 & CSI 267 The Philippines seem to be an important exception to this tendency. as Baron puts it. In this regard it is important that. Early on. Alternatively. according to Nyman. 2006:9). we have seen how military influence.. as well as a lot of debate about the meaning of the concept for Indonesian reality (Nyman. The relation between civil society and the state is one of the main issues in the debate about the meaning of civil society. The CSI Index emphasizes the high level of trust that Indonesians have in religious social organizations (like NU. but later also social advocacy emerged. We specifically ask how those restrictions are linked to the fact that whereas Indonesia has developed a formal democracy. and other religious organisations) (2006:8). Not only quantitatively but also qualitatively the NGO sector changed.the Suharto era. Muhammadiyah.
cooperatives. Indeed.268 It is an interesting paradox that even though the NGO-sector as such has a bad name in Indonesia and NGOs are generally viewed as western agents. “Although the era of reform has been in swing for the past eight years. 2006:208). Bingo (business and industry NGOs). They tend to emphasize cooperation with the government. 2007:126/130). labour unions. which may be related to the change in donor priorities to involve the government in democracy assistance programs (Aspinall 2010). The NGO community is dominated by the politically conscious middle class (Schulte Nordholt. community development and civic/watchdog organisations. After 1998 one could witness a multiplication of NGOs. however. for example. still the LSM-label can be very attractive for some actors. There has also been an emergence of many newspapers and magazines (CSI Index. service delivery. such as the GONGO (government organized NGOs).g. 2006:38. now there are 40 at the national level and more at the regional level. They are painfully dependent on foreign funding (CSI Index. 2008:38). state-civil society relations continue to be marked by mutual suspicion and confrontation. as they are founded by corporations as part of an attempt to engage in window-dressing or receive funding. Dongo (donor organized NGOs). Nomura notes that a new trend in the post-Suharto era is the emergence of ‘research-advocacy’ NGOs (2007:509). ‘buku 4. et al. and DNGDO (domestic nongovernmental development Organizations). This does not stroke with the majority of reports we received from NGOs or Nyman’s writings (e. working in the advocacy sector. Red-plate NGOs are those NGOs that are founded by the government and serve to gain access to donor money. As an indication of the positive expectations regarding civil society. This is related to a variety of acronyms that have emerged to qualify different kinds of NGOs. A major current issue for NGOs is their own sustainability. 2006:19). This committee was repealed. 2006:55). 2002.Index.” Red-plate refers to car number plates which belong to the government. there was only one labour union during Suharto. aiming for a close involvement of civil society (2006:44).) Mencuri uang rakyat16 kajian korupsi di Indonesia Jakarta: Aksara Foundation 269 They talk about “non-membership-based CSOs” such as NGOs. Aspinall identifies some of the difficulties 268 Tim Lindsey. for example” (CSI Index. and professional organizations) which receive their funding mostly from membership fees and business activities (2006:38). Yellow-plate NGOs are not ‘really’ NGOs either (claim the NGO leaders we have spoken with). The CSI Index contrasts NGOs269 in this regard with mass-based/ membership organizations (such as religious organisations. Mencari paradigma baru. NGO representatives tend to be young university-educated people for whom advocacy has become a profession (Aditjondro. Many NGO staff members perceived these NGOs as abusing the NGO-label. 2006:19).’ in: Hamid Basyaib. The CSI Index reports that the relations between civil society and government are considered to be more confrontational than cooperative. 2010:14). NGOs are mushrooming in Indonesia since 1998 and in Aceh especially since the tsunami. Nyman notes that president Habibie in 1998 established a civil society committee. NGO representatives told us that those NGOs that specifically put “LSM” in front of their name are most likely not to be authentic NGOs. with little in the way of seeking compromise through lobbying and negotiation.(eds. 107 . Aspinall. by his successor Wahid. Several NGO leaders explained to me that many Indonesian NGOs are considered “red-plate” or “yellow-plate.
antarantt. (5) pressure on spaces of dialogue. This is all in the spirit of the “Jakarta Commitment. In this section.271 Apart from changed donor priorities. donors are retreating from Indonesia.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/jakartacommitment-121208. available at http://www.pdf [accessed 6 August 2010] 271 This corresponds to the conclusion of Nomura who has evaluated the impact of the return to democracy for environmentalists NGOs (2007:513) 108 . and to adopt the Jakarta Commitment moving forward with the implementation of this roadmap. Restrictive policies and actions In the previous section. Space is more regulated and structured now than just after the 1998 regime change. such as fundamentalist Islamic groups in society or particular individuals in government positions.for NGOs to raise money within Indonesia. (3) administrative measures. over the past five years NGOs in Jakarta generally do not report any significant changes. HRW signals a trend in “regressive policies aimed at curtailing political dissent in 270 The Jakarta Commitment. In addition.”270 Aspinall indicates that fear exists that this emphasis on partnership with the government will stifle critical voices. and a small middle class (2010:14). the Indonesian government is given more control over the planning and implementation of democracy assistance as donors involve the government from the earliest stages in their proposals. NGO dependence on donors is becoming a major issue as donors are shifting their priorities and less funding is available for civil society. no taxdeductability for donations to a non-profit organization. In 2003. The period just after 1998 is usually referred to as the period in which most space was available. various reports on human rights signal a trend of shrinking space. has lost half of its income during the past 3-4 years (2010:13). and NGOs emphasize the unique opportunities they view with respect to collaboration with the government. such as the lack of a philantropical tradition. and emphasis is now placed upon governance and strengthening of government institutions instead of the heavy focus on civil society organizations and advocacy. In contradiction to this general assessment by the NGO representatives that were interviewed for this study. signed in January 2009 by the Indonesian government while inviting development partners to adopt the commitment: “The Government invites development partners to join this commitment towards development effectiveness. These observations were echoed in our interviews with NGO representatives. we turn to the policies and actions that we have identified as restricting the space that NGOs have. all NGOs that we have spoken with assessed their space to have increased dramatically compared to the Suharto era. It should further be pointed out that many of the restrictions on operational space are not the result of official state actions and policies but of third parties. to adopt the principles of aid effectiveness as articulated in the Paris Declaration as adapted to Indonesia's country context. but this space is generally also described as chaotic. In general. Aspinall reports that for example ICW.” a set of principles emphasizing country ownership over development programs. We discuss (1) repression and intimidation. As Indonesia has become a success story of democratization. He writes that many NGOs told similar stories and we also received similar complaints. the major anticorruption NGO. (4) stigmatization. (2) criminalization. we have described the development and main features of Indonesian civil society and the place of NGOs therein.
Most of our interlocutors reported that these threats are very rarely followed up by actual physical attacks. police violence against protesters and criminal charges of "disobedience" (2009:2). opinion. We have identified three major areas of NGO-work where operational space is at times severely restricted: firstly. Threats are quite common and various NGO staff members reported that they receive intimidating phone calls. sensitive issues in relation to religion: gender. LBH Aceh reported in one instance that by taking threats to the police. Courts are 272 273 LGBT is an acronym that stands for lesbian. Imparsial reported that they for example once received a dead chicken in the mail and people came to the office during the night and threw stones. not all NGOs are directly affected by these measures. These threats can even become quite frequent. bisexual and transgender people. 1 April 2010. Notable exceptions exist. Many NGOs reported to have filed complaints about threats with the police. LGBT.273 ICCO-partner KontraS reported that their office was destroyed in such a public demonstration. Jakarta 274 Interview with author. More recently. Jakarta 109 .272 and pluralism. secondly. and thirdly. Imparsial experienced public demonstrations in front of their office. 2003:2). such as the murder in 2004 of human rights activist Munir. and assembly because of “*a+llegations of criminal defamation against human rights activists. and even if they are affected. This is particularly so because despite the confidence in the Indonesian democracy expressed by donors and the Indonesian government. as well as keep an eye on potential negative developments in the future. The interaction between restrictive actions and policies in these areas will be explored in the next section “On-the-job trouble. Threats are usually received by phone. are the very vocal human rights NGO (such as Imparsial and Kontras). the threats stopped. accountability: corruption and human rights violations. the director of then ICCO-partner IMPARSIAL.” Repression and intimidation It is useful to make a distinction between intimidating threats on the one hand and actual physical violence on the other hand. the restrictions still seem minor in comparison to the Suharto regime which is still fresh in everyone’s memory. even though no investigations or arrests occurred. Interview with author. and NGOs who work on very sensitive issues such as LGBT. land conflicts. issues or rights. Former ICCO-partner Imparsial is part of a network of 50 HRD-organizations and reported that all of these organizations receive threats. either by SMS or by post. it is important to analyze the nature and kinds of restrictions that they currently face and be alert to those critical situations where NGOs indeed suffer major restrictions that deserve specific attention. In 2003. The apparent contradiction should probably be explained by the fact that whereas restrictive measures are indeed increasing. 31 March 2010. Thus. and the inaction on the part of the government to punish perpetrators of such violence. among civil society activists there is concern that there might be a backlash in the democratization process as the democracy may “face serious risks of backsliding and erosion” (Aspinall. 2010:1).Indonesia” (HRW. whereas NGOs generally enjoy ample operational space to do their work. AHRC emphasizes the difference with the acceptance of dissent a couple of years ago (2009:10).274 NGOs in the urban areas most affected by threats. Police inaction in the investigation of threats is common. the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) observes an increasing threat to the freedom of expression. gay. His death exemplifies both the real lethal threat to activists.
however. 278 Surprisingly. 279 The experiences of urban NGOs can be quite different from what communities suffer in distant regions. the AHRC (2009:3) reports about West Papua that there is “on-going military violence. as it has ratified the Convention against Torture in October 1998 (AHRC. or significantly altered the way an NGO operates.youtube. 2007:17).nrc. enforced disappearance. thus avoiding those risks (this will be further discussed below in “responses”). there might be a specific unwillingness to prosecute. Banda Aceh Interviews with author. 2008:44 and 110). Banda Aceh 277 The spokesperson from Demos told that businessmen sometimes contract preman. because they consciously operate carefully without provoking anyone. and criminal organizations. torture and ill-treatment” (UN Special Representative. a human rights worker for ELSAM. While this is a general problem. specifically in conflict-ridden and militarized areas such as Papua. Violence also occurs in the context of land 275 276 Interviews with author. respectively 5 and 6 April 2010. the NGO representative of ICCO-partner Tikar Pandan reported that the military was driving around his office. threats.ece/Jakarta_erkent_martelen_Papua_s%2C_straft_militairen 280 Interview with author. As a background to the use of threats and violence it is important to know that the New Order was characterized by “premanism. torture is not criminalized in Indonesia. 279 http://www. and killings are widespread in Indonesian society.” In 2004. For example.highly ineffective in Indonesia. politicians. was reportedly beaten by the police (RFK. 1 March 2010. injuries. video images were released that showed the torture of Papuans by the Indonesian military. This system has not changed in the Reformasi period. Amsterdam 110 .com/watch?v=hNSj5av8ip4 and http://www. threats have caused an NGO to leave an area.280 Activists in rural areas are more likely to suffer from actual violence. who tried to photograph a police attack on demonstrators gathered near Jayapura for West Papua’s Independency day. most NGOs argue that the threats don’t have much impact on their work. Violence is a method commonly used by the military. labor activists. This occurred for example in the cases of ICCO-partners Flower Aceh and YRBI in Aceh. In general. AHRC reports that incidents tend to happen in remote provinces and when the military protects mining activities and other natural recourse activities (2009:3-4).277 Freedom House similarly reports of physical attacks by “thugs” against human rights groups who are critical of military abuses.278 In October 2010. Indonesia is under the obligation to criminalize it. the UN Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders (HRD) notes that HRD can suffer from “extrajudicial. respectively 6 and 7 April 2010. Even though many NGOs have reported to receive threats. For example ICCO-partner Gerak Aceh and LBH (Legal Aid) Aceh argue that they have never dropped a case because of threats. this was only criminalized in November 2009). 2009:3). the police. 2004:5). Some NGOs mentioned the role of “preman” in local land issues but also in relation to labour issues. Indicating the severity of this violence. most of which is conducted to intimidate suspected independence activists.” A “preman” is a small criminal who in exchange for a payment resolves the dirty business of political leaders (Schulte Nordholt. (In the Philippines.276 Several NGOs mentioned that they do not receive threats. Community leaders (of GROs) are more frequently threatened than professional NGOs in urban areas. As an example of experienced intimidation. and peasants involved in land disputes (2006). summary and arbitrary execution. in the case of human rights violations.nl/buitenland/article2634683.275 In other instances.
com/Religious-Dispute-Is-Longing-to-be-Solved-focus3700. 2007:17).285 An interviewee who was present at the site reported that a group of fundamentalists was banging on the outside of the conference hall. such as preman. Some activists were wounded.284 Here we can observe that the protection of space can become a new source of contention. Other incidents occurred in the course of legal proceedings. She described it as “demoralizing.html [accessed 24 May 2010] 283 http://www. which contained members of the FPI. HTI and FUI. Hizbut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). This incident was st also related in an interview with the author on March 31 in Jakarta with one of the activists. Various NGO representatives we spoke with reported that physical harassment generally occurs when the police remove peasants or arrests them. project coordinator with the IOM. and the Muslims Forum (FUI). On the same day. the police cancelled an LGBT conference in Surabaya due to pressure of Islamist fundamentalist groups. one of the wounded was Ahmed Suaedi (Executive Director of the Wahid Institute) (see for example the news report on the website of one of ICCO’s partners VHR Media283). Monica Tanuhandaru. Human Rights Watch. 111 . Various NGOs have made an alliance in the petition for judicial review of a law on blasphemy (PNPS Act 1/1965). March 24.282 The National Alliance for Freedom of Religion and Beliefs (AKBB). and had to be rushed to the hospital. No physical violence occurred but the psychological threat was felt.html 284 Desantara. NGO representatives reported that there are never criminal cases against policemen. human rights advocates reported of intimidation and harassment shortly after the proceedings in the Constitutional Court. on Wednesday.” Many staff 281 282 Pancasila is the state ideology (Nyman 2006:36).wordpress. Imparsial. but also importantly some mass organizations.com/2010/04/02/lgbt-activism-under-attack-in-surabaya-indonesia/. In interviews.disputes.” Such an attack occurred for example during a peaceful protest in the context of the birth of Pancasila281. For a report on the incident and its aftermath. Indicating the absence of adequate state response.unhcr. were attacked by Laskar Islam Defenders (LPI). see for example. at the most there are ‘administrative’ cases leading for example to a suspension. when illegitimate violence against peasants occurs. 2008 at the National Monument (Monas) in Jakarta.org/refworld/docid/484f85702c. 10 June 2008. This corresponds with what CSI Index (2006:66) reported in 2006: “One of the groups with large base allegedly practicing violence is an ethnic group called Forum Betawi Rempuk. Whereas the police and the military are at times involved in cases of physical violence. available at: http://www. and the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) and Demos 285 http://iglhrc. She was present during that conference in Surabaya. Indonesia: Reverse Ban on Ahmadiyah Sect. The UN Special Representative reports that “the peasants were opposing the planned construction of a new international airport on 850 hectares of fertile land in Lombok on which the peasants were living and cultivating the land to sustain their livelihoods” (UN Special Representative. Elsam. such as FPI (Islamic Defenders Front). FBR (Forum Betawi Rempug). In one violent incident in 2005.vhrmedia. which consists of a number of NGO activists. PBHI. 2010. Equivalent Institute. most activists we spoke with were more worried about the impact of non-state actors. These groups have been criticised by civil society for their violence when they beat up NGO activists from the Urban Poor Consortium during a demonstration outside the offices of the national commission on human rights. dated June 1. the police in Lombok fired into a crowd of 700 unarmed peasants who had come peacefully together to commemorate National Peasants’ Day and discuss land issues.
More important in the current Indonesian context. The activists were released. former ICCO partner Imparsial reported an incident in which people working for a foundation on human rights policy in South Sulawesi were arbitrarily arrested and tortured in 2005 in relation to a bomb in Tentena. 2007:10). usually someone who has been identified by the NGO as engaged in corruption or responsible 286 Further criticisms have been voiced about the Special Anti-Terror Detachment of the Police Headquarters which consists of 400 members and was trained by the CIA and FBI. on May 28th (Imparsial. religious fundamentalists or unknown opponents. Caveat (August 2009:5) reports that the first law on counterterrorism applies to “anyone who deliberately uses violence or the threat of violence to create a widespread atmosphere of terror or to cause mass casualties by robbing individuals of freedom or causing the loss of life or property. even though the murder of Munir is a forceful reminder that this violence is not impossible. such as preman. there have been hardly any problems for NGO members with this legislation or with other counter terrorism measures. In one notable exception.” Actual violence is not commonly experienced by representatives of professional NGOs. The operational space of NGOs is of course affected by general repressive measures. Recent new anti-terrorism legislation has sparked a lively debate about the broadness of the definition of terrorism and the possible abuses this might lead to. Poso. Intimidating threats are common for all NGO representatives that work in one of the areas identified as sensitive. 2009:18). Currently. Their anti-terrorism activities mainly targeting Muslims have been fuelling communal sentiments and potentially exacerbated the conflicts (Aditjondro. are the ways in which specific provisions in the criminal code such as the law on criminal defamation are used to silence activists who speak out against corruption. The charge of criminal defamation is the consequence of a complaint by a third person to the police. the law on criminal defamation that is still on the books is used frequently against activists during recent years (AHRC. military or non-state actors. demand justice for past human rights violations. For example.286 To date however. 2009:32). A more significant hurdle than counter terrorism measures are various provisions from the Indonesian Penal Code that are used against NGO staff. 2003). Some concern existed that counter terrorism efforts might have counterproductive effects for NGO activists as well. but the case is still on-going. Criminalization A distinction should be made between general laws and measures on the one hand and the specific use of these laws against certain NGO leaders or activists.members of NGOs that were interviewed expressed their worries about this trend of religious intolerance which will be discussed in the next section “On-the-job trouble. 2007:118. however. 2006:5-6). The provisions on “insulting the president” and “hate sowing” were used quite frequently in the past (see for example HRW. see also ICG. 112 . until they have been repealed in 2006 and judged unconstitutional in 2007 respectively (UN Special Representative. or peasants who claim lands. or damage or destruction to strategic vital installations or public or international facilities. Grassroots community leaders are much more likely to experience actual violence in confrontation with the police. creating the possibility that the law is used against a wide variety of protest actions. such as the martial law that gave the military control over governance in Aceh.” This means that also material destruction without loss of lives can be categorized as terrorism.
Eight members of LBH were convicted to a conditional sentence. The operational space of NGOs is hardly affected by general measures such as antiterrorism laws. HRW. Particularly troubling were the arrest and convictions of five GAM-negotiators after the negotiations about Aceh failed. but nothing happens as the police start investigations but do not pursue them. Whereas they had not engaged in violence. 2006:4). Apart from the use of criminal charges. they were charged with “spreading hatred” because in the leaflet they printed a summary of the case brief in which they presented the chronology of the land-issue and the demands of the farmers. Only in a small number of cases there is actually a trial. 2007. Few defamation cases. Often the organizations receive information that they will be charged with criminal defamation. and NGOs had to give insight in their budgets and justify the source of their 287 Interview with author. see also AHRC. GRO leaders in land disputes often face criminal charges.net/ua/mainfile. receiving sentences of 20 years in prison for actions such as the raising of the Papuan national flag (AHRC.288 Various professional NGOS. AI. Restrictive administrative measures Baron argues that in general in Asia the laws to regulate the NGO-sector are driven by national security concerns (2002). the Bumi Flora Corporation in East Aceh. the government started to control the NGO sector. 2009:10. 113 . such as ICCO partner PRAXIS and also non-ICCO partner ELSAM reported that they often assist local peasants when they are facing criminal charges against them. In Papua. 6 April 2010.ahrchk. such as theft and illegal entrance of a plantation. When they assisted by providing the leaflet for a rally that the farmers were organizing. NGOs and non-violent activists can face criminal charges because of an alleged relation with separatist activities. In Indonesia. GRO leaders in Papua have faced charges of sedition and rebellion. however. as well as LBH Aceh and ICW. LBH Aceh (Legal Aid Aceh) was assisting farmers in a lawsuit against a palm oil plantation. More information on this case can for example be found on the website of the Asian Human Rights Commission: INDONESIA: Eight people in Aceh convicted of disseminating pamphlets. 2009:8-9). it was argued that being high GAM officials they shared responsibility for the terrorist acts committed by the GAM (ICG. at the end of the 80s. In 2007. 2008:2). such as ICCO partners KontraS. More information on the use of criminal charges in relation to land disputes can be found below in the next section “On-the-job trouble. 1 September 2008. Gerak Aceh and Imparsial. are actually brought to court or lead to a conviction.http://www. The specific use of criminal offenses such as ‘criminal defamation’ against accountability advocates restricts NGOs in their operations. and only in two cases were there convictions (Gerak Aceh and LBH).287 The problem of criminalization seems to be more severe in rural areas where peasants and GRO leaders are affected by criminal charges as they are in the process of claiming land. the Special Rapporteur for the UN also mentions surveillance activities of human rights defenders (2007:3) for example in Aceh (2007:23) and Papua (2007:22. activists have been charged with subversion and treason. Various NGOs we spoke with mentioned that their staff faces charges against them for criminal defamation or have been threatened with such charges.php/2008/2992/ [accessed 26 May 2010] 288 KPA will send data about the number of cases of criminal defamation that were filed against peasants of their member organizations.for past human rights abuses. Banda Aceh.” In areas where separatist groups are active.
This law gives incentives in the form of Tax Exemption and Tax Deduction for activities in the non-profit sectors. In 2008 a law on income tax was enacted (PSHK 2008:8).292 Whereas the CSI Index emphasizes that this law has not been used anymore to stifle NGOs and therefore is “no longer effective” (2006:50). or regional government (Article 7)” and “COs that are to receive foreign assistance directly are obliged to report the plan to receive such assistance to the Minister of Home Affairs (Article 10). 2006:4950). it was alleged that the Government uses the registration regime to allow the creation of organizations that are more compliant and can be used for countering NGO criticism of any aspects of Government performance on human rights. registration of NGOs is compulsory. PSHK writes that “*i+n order to be able to receive assistance from foreign parties. 2008:14-15).). NGOs have set up mechanisms of self-regulation. As Baron points out. other government institutions.’ Nyman writes that foundations were not perceived as a threat by Suharto because they lacked mass membership (2006:51). 2008:9).290 Two laws create the legal framework for NGOs: a 1985 law on ‘associations’ and a 2004 law on ‘foundations. enabling the government to dissolve an NGO when it “conducts any activities that disrupt security and public order. Tax Exemption is given to surplus money. some NGOs are anticipating trouble and 289 “The code of ethics mainly governs the issues related to the integrity. 2008:5).293 During Suharto most NGOs registered as ‘foundations’ (yayasan) because of the potential repression faced by ‘associations. several NGOs established an umbrella organization and a code of ethics which was signed by 252 NGOs (CSI Index.291 This law has very strict provisions. as registration for NGOs is not compulsory. independence.” There is still an obligation to seek government’s approval before receiving assistance from foreign parties. receives assistance from foreign parties without Government’s approval. The law also places undue restrictions on international funding to NGOs. PSHK writes that “*t+here is actually nothing new in the content of this regulation. CIVICUS reports that in 2002. 8 Year 1985 on Community Organizations 292 This law also addresses “assistance and receiving foreign funding” (PSHK. and criteria for registration contain ideological elements and adherence to a subjective code of morality that appear to be unjustified and intrusive. Since the law on foundations has been enacted in 2004 (PSHK. PSHK is more worried because the law is still on the books and therefore can be used if that is deemed necessary. in Indonesia. accountability.’ NGOs can thus obtain legal status as an association (membership-based) or a foundation (nonmembership based).” 293 Also the UN Special Representative reports more critically on the way in which the government currently can use this law (2007:12): “According to this law. Donations for NGOs are generally not tax deductible. donations and or grants received or obtained by non-profit bodies or agencies in the field of education and/or research and development. government. and provides assistance to foreign parties that are damaging to the interests of the State and the Nation” (PSHK. 290 This confusion is related to the distinction between tax exemption and the possibility of obtaining taxdeductability for donations. This indeed is also the case in Indonesia. In the Law on Tax Income. Just like in other countries. however to obtain tax-deductability is more complicated and restrictive (2002). It is also possible to operate without any registration (CSI Index. 2006:35). transparency. anti violence. NGOs as ‘associations’ are still governed by a law which stems from 1985. financial management (including the responsibility towards beneficiaries. gender equality. among NGOs and the general public” (ibid. Further. 2008:37). 114 . and donor institutions). generally there is tax exemption for NGOs. Only some donations such as for national disasters are considered tax deductible. 291 Article 14 Law No.” It is not clear though whether this conclusion is entirely correct.289 In the interviews it turned out that there is a general lack of knowledge about the details of NGO legislation as well as about the tax-regime for NGOs.income (Schulte Nordholt. CO must be registered with the Department of Home Affairs.
Different government employees asked them many times to submit information and letters in order to obtain the necessary permit._CH_. ICCO-partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan reported that they need prior permission for a variety of events and ceremonies where there will gather more than thirty people. 299 Interview with author. along with a suspicion that their work in Papua would not be what they were saying it is. reported that they do face restrictions on public activities. ensuring that the event is not dangerous for the Islam. Jakarta 297 From the PBI Evaluation 2008:25-26 298 See Reuters.295 The goal of the new law was to make those abusive foundations responsible and accountable to the public. but fear exists that the government may suddenly use administrative laws to restrict NGOs. 22 April 2009 http://www. 298 Freedom House similarly reports that foreign funding agencies and NGOs experienced difficulties experienced in terms of their legal status in Aceh and Papua (2006). money-laundering (as many foundations were founded by Suharto and his family to function as money laundering covers). In addition. HRW 2010 reports that not only the ICRC field office in Papua but also in Banda Aceh had to close. ICCO partner Peace Brigades International (PBI) reported severe problems with registration which may be related to the prohibition on international NGOs to conduct political activities in Indonesia (see for this prohibition PSHK. Interviews with author. In April 2009 the Indonesian government denied the ICRC access to Papua.therefore changing their status from a ‘foundation’ into an ‘association. Whereas some NGOs have changed their status to ‘association’ because they perceived the new law on foundations as a potential threat. however. However. Administrative regulations of demonstrations and public activities In general. Government officials would insinuate that PBI would abuse its access to help separatists and expose the government in international publications. 1 March 2010. but it was never entirely impossible.299 LBH Aceh reported that often when the police 294 295 For example ICW changed its legal status.296 They changed their legal status and became a national foundation (instead of an international organization).reuters. Banda Aceh 296 Interview with author. March/April 2010. Jakarta. 2008:12). 297 Uncertainty about their legal status is currently identified as one of the major challenges. 30 March 2010.com/article/idUSJAK434532. PBI reported that the “western” label was used against them frequently in this context. These analysts emphasize that the possibilities for restriction have not been used against bona fide NGOs.’294 No one seems to know whether that is indeed a good decision. It is not clear whether this actually solved their problems or just created other problems. Amsterdam 115 . you do need to notify the police. They have experienced delays in permits before. in Indonesia you are free to organize demonstrations. as they reported severe problems regarding their travel permits in Papua and visa for their volunteers. but since January 2010 they have failed to obtain the permit at all. other NGO representatives argue that the new 2004 law is good and supposed to counter corruption. particularly with respect to their field office is in Papua. and you don’t need a permit.2400. Some NGOs in Aceh. Many international NGOs experience restrictions when they want to work in Papua. At this moment PBI is one of the few international organizations still present in Papua. and the channelling of charity money to terrorist purposes. they need permission from the Islamic scholars.
it can perhaps be understood why civil society. LBH reported that sometimes the police request to be present during public meetings. In addition. Interview with author. Only one NGO reported actual problems because of their legal status. have for a long time now been built up on foreign aid. As a result of the stigma NGOs can get questions where their money comes from or communities can refuse to work with the NGO. 6 April 2010. The ‘foreign agenda’ label also heavily affects international NGOs who are suspected to do something else (such as political involvement or support for separatists) than what they say they do. This labeling is attributed mostly to the military and some government officials. The main problem with the Indonesian administrative framework for NGOs seems to be the lack of clarity and the existence two laws on foundations and associations. together with statutes. For example. ICCO partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan reported that they are careful not to emphasize that they receive foreign funding. They are supposed to be western puppets. especially NGOs. public trust in them is low. When permission is not sought.” Most NGOs we interviewed claimed that this general suspicion does not affect them much. For example. NGO leaders reported this stigma. as this easily can and sometimes is used against them with the argument that they are executing a hidden foreign agenda. the administrative framework does not seem to cause NGOs any problems. and the urban nature of NGOs and trade unions. including the people and government. Due to differences in values. Indonesian people in general are not familiar with these organizations and as a result. to the extent that their values and goals are inappropriate to their domestic base. particularly NGOs. programs related to pluralism. are also frequently branded as tools of foreign propaganda. even though at least in case of the 2004 law the reasons for those potential restrictions are genuine. CSI Index (2006:9) also reported the general stigmatization of the NGO sector as a whole: “Civil society. the police reportedly conduct an investigation to know the content of the meeting” (2007:23). which are known as the pioneers of reform and democracy. NGOs in Aceh working with women and on issues of gender reported that they struggle against the widespread image that “gender” is a western concept.300 These restrictions correspond to the observations of the UN Special Representative in Aceh regarding the “wrongful application of law on public meetings by the police who require permission. in their 300 LBH’s tactic to deal with this involves making the meeting so boring that the police will leave and only then they start the real discussion. they claim that the demonstration or meeting was not properly notified with the police. Banda Aceh 116 . from NGOs for organizing workshops and seminars.want to disturb a rally or a meeting. Therefore. Stigmatization In a striking difference with the open and welcoming attitude towards the NGO-sector in the Philippines. suspicion in Indonesia is directed towards the NGO-sector as a whole. but also importantly to religious fundamentalists who for example claim that NGOs are related to Satan. and NGOs that work closely with Muslim communities. NGOs in Aceh sometimes are restricted in their ability to organize public meetings. which created problems for their operations in Papua. ICCO partner Do Karim reported that also the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘secular’ have a negative connotation in Aceh. but the ‘western’ stigma does affect those NGOs that work on religious issues. Despite fears to the contrary. Without exception. both of which are potentially restrictive.
PBI that works in Papua reported of the difficulty to on the one hand work with local NGOs in Papua and defend their activities in the face of these stigmas and on the other hand maintain a neutral position vis-à-vis the government in order not to be refused access to Papua. In one specific case the Head of State Intelligence Agency publicly classified human rights organizations Imparsial. Also. there is (was) the specific risk for NGOs to be associated with the rebels. during martial law in Aceh. In Papua. Interview of author on April 8. still in force.” The Front relied upon a new law issued by Habibie which forbids any activity to disseminate communism (2007:119). Stigmatization is an issue for almost all Indonesian NGOs. In Papua. Aditjondro describes an incident in December 2006 in Surabaya where the Human Rights Study Center of the Airlangga University that wanted to screen a film on the killings in 1965 was forced to cancel the screening by persons from the “Front Antikomunis. there is the specific danger for activists to be labelled as “separatists. She views this stigma as a deliberate attempt to undermine the credibility of these allegations of abuse.302 Also pro-labour activists suffer from the communist stigma as well as advocates of land reform. 2008:2).activities they do not use the ICCO logo.” The UN Special Representative reports a case of church workers in West Papua who were linked to the separatist Papua Free Movement after having voiced their concerns regarding human rights violations suffered by the local population (2007:20. KontraS and Elsam as “radical.” The UN Special Representative reports that these organizations were accused of receiving foreign aid and assisting separatist movements (2007:17).” When one NGO is accused of sympathies for rebels. now the case is pending before the Supreme Court. NGOs and GROs face the risk to be labelled as sympathizers of separatists. not publicizing their logo. They asked for revision of the statement. which has serious consequences for their space. KPA reported that as a way to counter this stigma they decided to talk about “agrarian reform” instead. this puts other NGOs in a difficult spot. to return lands to communities that were evicted by Suharto often without compensation. Amsterdam Law No 27/1999 signed by President Habibie on 19 May 1999. 2007). 301 302 Interview with author.301 Whereas the unaffected NGOs claim not to do anything about the negative label. (3) access reform to seeds and fertilizers.303 In the (former) conflict areas of Aceh and Papua. and the changing of names of their programs. 303 Agrarian reform means three things: (1) land reform. For example. For some NGOs this label seriously restricts their operational space. Apart from this general stigma against the NGO-sector as such. there are specific instances where NGOs suffer from negative labels because of their activities. The ‘communist’ label is another stigma still used today against various activists (Aditjondro. human rights defenders have been stigmatized as insufficiently nationalist. for example from China. but lost this case in the lower court and appeal. AHRC (2009:12) reports that there may have been deliberate stigmatization of Papua activists by staging fake “resistance attacks. (2) market reform to change the cheaper incoming products. 1 March 2010. AI. Imparsial filed a civil case against this military officer. 2010 in Jakarta 117 . people suspected of relations to the GAM and land rights activists have been found to be labelled as terrorists. The UN Special Rapporteur mentions an example where a military commander stated publicly that human rights defenders are “those who sell their own country” (2007:23). the affected NGOs emphasize a good communication strategy. a low profile of western donors. They all face the negative label of executing a ‘western’ agenda.
we discuss the possibilities of collaboration with the government. 305 The CSI Index (2006:55) similarly reports about criticisms regarding aid that mining companies give to local NGOs at the company site. in the working group on REDD304 there is no representation of civil society. 118 . but it’s very hard for us to do our basic work of collecting data and monitoring of corruption’ (2010:13). who cites an NGO representative complaining about donors: ‘Now they just come to us if they want a report. the government itself asks explicitly for assistance. they were doing the work that the government should do.” says the HuMA representative. We also identify three limitations on the spaces of dialogue that have opened up. This is also recognized by Aspinall (2010). ICCO partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan in Aceh reported that whereas before the transition the relation between the GAM and the NGOs was very good. for a criticism on the REDD policies and the way in which they perpetuate benefits from current concession holders such as oil and logging plantations over indigenous people. NGOs reported that they felt they had a genuine influence because of this cooperation. In some instances. In one case. and “if you continue your work. spaces of dialogue can fail to be used adequately as NGOs don’t manage to sustain their institutional capacity and attract good leaders. For example. because sometimes consultation with civil society actors is only done because of a requirement by a multilateral donor like the World Bank. They were told that their activities were negative for the investors. Indeed. Firstly. have reported efforts of their opponents to negotiate and offer bribes. They participate for example in the preparation of laws. as ICCO-partner HuMA pointed out. advisors from the governor approached them to stop demonstrations against a cement factory. For example one NGO (Demos) points out that at this moment there even is the possibility to get in touch with the inner circle of the president. particularly NGOs working with land rights and anticorruption. “With the transition. however. They take full advantage of the opportunities that are currently offered to NGOs and their leaders. sometimes civil society actors are still excluded from decision-making. Increased cooperation between donors and the government can effectively enable the government to decrease funding for critical NGOs. that by doing this. spaces of dialogue can be transformed into ‘fake spaces’ as NGO contributions are received but not used. Other mechanisms threaten the institutional capacity of NGOs. For example. Nyman similarly notes that both Indonesian scholars and activists “stress the need for increasing cooperation between the state and civil society” (2006:208). everything became more complicated. Secondly. spaces of dialogue can be abused when counterparts of NGOs use violence or bribes.” they say. you are going to be arrested. it turns out to be only a “formal” consultation. Whereas in the Philippines several NGOs reported their frustration with the government as it ignored their proposals that 304 Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.Existing spaces of dialogue under pressure Many of the NGOs we interviewed are very positive and hopeful about the possibilities to work together with the government. see Steni (2010). Various NGOs have expressed particular concern about the tactics used by companies to win communities over for their commercial enterprises. Despite this increased collaboration and participation. Thirdly. “They appreciate us. especially some of the NGOs in Jakarta. In another example. 305 ICCO-partners such as AMAN and HuMA cooperate actively with the government.” In this section. now the GAM looks at NGOs with more suspicion and can perceive them as a threat.
He describes also that two US ambassadors put pressure on USAID to cut funding to Walhi and Jatam (Anti Mining Advocacy Network). especially ones that might criticise the government. In one instance. When he asked for clarification about the delays regarding the TRC in a public meeting. several parts were indeed adopted. on request by the governor. but he emphasizes that at this point the collaboration in itself is more important than the future results. donors are shifting their focus from NGOs to governance assistance and closely cooperating with the Indonesian government from the planning phase. so he knew that they were working on it. there is little money for accountability for past human rights abuses. Aditjondro describes that the Ford Foundation was involved in censoring environmentalist activists regarding US mining companies (2007:123). the Elsam representative pointed out that whereas there is money available for the improvement of the law-making process.they offered in dialogues. Aspinall (2010:17) writes that Walhi decided not to accept funds as they did not want “to be dictated to. we could identify what we have called ‘fake space’: the former director of LBH (Legal Aid) Aceh reported some frustration about the collaboration with the local government regarding the law on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).307 But since they submitted the draft in November 2008 nothing has happened. It is clearly viewed as an opportunity that should be grabbed. The HuMA spokesperson mentions. This contrasts sharply with the reports from the Philippines where NGOs work with the government on projects but are paid by and thus subordinated to the government. These shifts in priorities are especially noteworthy as these decisions are currently often made in close cooperation and consultation with the Indonesian government (Aspinall. Aspinall’s assessment in this regard leaves no doubt: “Yet it should come as no surprise that government officials are more interested in having donors provide assistance to government agencies than to CSOs. 2010). Jakarta For more information on this working group for the TRC see for example Braithwaite (2010:37). because he had written the law himself.” 119 . The positive influence of donors in this regard (by promoting inclusion of civil society) is offset by criticisms that donors also get to set the priorities. He feels that they were asked to draft the law just so the governor could say he was working on the TRC. in Indonesia most NGOs report collaboration with the government and are thus far optimistic about the process. he drafted a law for the TRC. Banda Aceh 309 As an illustration of the restrictive influence donors can have. He felt that at that point his cooperation was being used against him. As discussed above. and that their input is having an 306 307 Interview with author. With a working group. that they want to take this “government space” that is now offered. because of their criticism of the US mining companies Freeport McMoRan and NewMont (2007:129). 308 Interview with author.308 The willingness of the government to cooperate with NGOs should partially be understood as a result of the requirement set by multilateral institutions such as IMF and World Bank.306 As HuMA has its own source of funding it can operate independently from the government. to silence his demands for action on the TRC.309 For example. HuMA indicates that for example in their suggestions for a regulation. but the willingness to actually create the TRC is lacking. 6 April 2010. He thinks it is too soon to tell whether or not this collaboration indeed yields positive results. 8 April 2010. the spokesperson of the government replied that he should not ask about that. In this regard. NGOs point to the significant difference compared to the Suharto time.
Points of concern are the combination of negotiation. optimism about the benefits of collaboration with the government far exceeds negative experiences regarding cooperation. we already indicated that NGO sustainability is a real issue in Indonesia due to donor dependency. In general. and pluralism. for example in a specific case in South Sumatra where a leader became senator. corporations. The quality of spaces of dialogue depends heavily on the strength and sustainability of NGOs as well as the capacities of their leaders. it is our aim to indicate how this context of limitations actually impacts the work that NGOs are doing. bribery and intimidation. thus decreasing the sustainable capacity of NGOs to be strong actors in spaces of dialogue. In this section we turn to those specific contexts in which NGOs those restrictions occur and come together to hamper NGOs in their work. which seems especially prevalent with respect to NGOs who level accountability accusations and GRO leaders engaged in struggles regarding natural resources. the interaction between different restrictions and the way in which these restrictions actually affect the space of NGOs and in what way it limits or impacts their work as well as the local response capacities. This analysis enables us to address for each of these working areas. In other instances. Other concerns relate to the increasing cooperation between donors and the Indonesian government to the detriment of (critical) NGOs as well as the luring away of good NGO leaders into positions of consultants and political positions. Whereas most human rights reports provide a broad overview of the various violations that citizens suffer. but interviewees complained that these competing NGOs barricade the real issue instead of solving it. NGO representatives reported great concern for their space in this regard. and (3) decreasing space for NGOs working on issues of gender. which resulted in his village losing all strength. we have identified three areas of claim-making in which the operational space of NGOs is under pressure. We look at (1) NGOs demanding accountability for corruption and past human rights violations. This leads to frustration regarding good community leaders who get a political post. LGBT. we discussed the various restrictions that NGOs in Indonesia face in their work. 2010). Many NGO leaders knew examples where talented activists had been lured away into comfortable positions as a consultant for donor-driven projects thus disconnecting them from their bases (see for similar observations also Aspinall. One NGO asserted that political parties like to recruit from well-known social movements. 120 . NGO representatives expressed their concern because of the competition that NGOs founded by the government. (2) peasants and indigenous people (re-)claiming land. In this section. the actors that are responsible for the restrictions. NGOs observed that competing NGOs were receiving money from the local government in order to function as a broker with communities. and donors (red-plate or yellow-plate NGOs) pose in terms of the struggle for foreign funding as well as the maintenance of good leaders and organizers. On the job trouble In the previous section. Above.effect on the nature of democracy assistance” (2010:8).
Gerak went to the media and exposed the fact that the contractor did not finish his job. totaling 120 hectares for the farmers. He wanted to negotiate and offered a bribe. However. That is when they started receiving threats. The farmers were offered 2 ha per household. Do Karim and Tikar Pandan rejected and claimed that they didn’t want money. The company asked him to calm down the people and the company succeeded to acquire the lands. in 2007 in Aceh there was a bridge that was in the process of construction. For example in 2007 in Abdya. thus taking advantage of the farmers. argues that the company got more than 1. the BRR offered them money. But the contractor insisted on meeting in private at another location. The contractor happened to be an ex-combatant of the GAM and approached one of the members of Gerak individually to talk with them. He was tried in 1999 for a case of fraud.000 hectares out of the deal. The staff member refused the bribe. The surrounding communities approached ICCO partner Gerak Aceh to discuss the issue. the contractor didn’t finish the bridge. supposedly in order to stop the demonstration. However. The Gerak staff told him that if he wanted to talk. Accountability: corruption and human rights violations Keeping influential people accountable can be very dangerous as is illustrated by the case of “Tommy” Suharto. the threats never materialized. the combination of negotiation and the offering of benefits to leaders. the judge that convicted Tommy Suharto for corruption and refused to accept a bribe of $200. and the leader argued that thus the deal was beneficial to the farmers. For example. Schulte Nordholt reports that every time that Tommy was interrogated or had to appear for a judge. there was a bomb attack in Jakarta (2008:76). with the advantage of the guise of legality. but acquitted on appeal. NGOs reported that corporations or other actors offered bribes to them or to GRO leaders. Permata. in South-west Aceh.000 was killed in broad daylight in Jakarta (2008:108). it is not surprising that NGO 121 . When ICCO-partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandanin Aceh organized a demonstration. bribes and intimidation Many times. ICCO-partner Permata argues that this practice. And the case regarding the bridge was sent to the police. He was convicted at first. as they were critical of the way in which the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR) spent its money after the tsunami. is very frequent in land conflicts as well. In this context. however. he could come to the office. because the elite have other means to acquire the land.CASE BOX: combinations of negotiation. the BALCompany (palm oil plantation) approached the head of the district. This example indicates that the use of violence is not necessarily prevalent. but demanded the BRR to be building houses instead of wasting it on a cooking competition. In 2001. whereas 60 households got 2 ha each.
Anti-corruption NGOs Gerak Aceh and ICW have faced criminal charges of criminal defamation. non-discrimination and individual or State responsibility” (2006:31). sometimes combined with intimidation. such as social networks (Facebook. Recently. the military court system is responsible. ‘Anti-graft activist attacked. both mainstream and alternative media. is denounced by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International. as well as NGOs demanding accountability regarding past human rights violations (such as ICCO partner KontraS and Imparsial). and ICW Batus BT Saragih.312 It should be noted that the media.html [accessed 5 August 2010] 312 Interview with author. The UN Special Representative indicates that the Witness Protection Act does not give sufficient safeguards to people giving their testimony (2007:12) and a specific problem with disappearances is that these are categorized as “past abuses” instead of ongoing violations (UN Special Representative 2007:13). NGOs that work in this terrain of accountability are anti-corruption NGOs. KontraS. and not on a counter-claim of criminal defamation. an anti-corruption activist got severely injured. Efforts like the creation of a human rights court are deemed insufficient to deal with the violations and deliver adequate reparations to the victims (AI 2008:2). she wrote a letter to the police pointing out to them this priority rule. Case Box: Accountability for human rights violations Many NGOs are involved in the struggle to create accountability for human rights violations. Twitter) are important in supporting NGO claims for government accountability. threats. such as ICW and Gerak Aceh. AHRC (2009:20) reports “unwillingness of the Attorney General (AG) to conduct investigations on the recommendation of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM). fairness. She concludes that “*a+ccountability has too often been hijacked and skillfully used as a platform to further aims that have nothing to do with the fundamental concepts that underpin the human rights paradigm. 2010. This judgment is echoed by Linton.311 The opponents of NGOs in this category tend to be military officials or government officials in the national or local government. Jakarta 122 . When one of the employees of ICW was summoned for questioning on possible criminal defamation charges (HRW. 29 March 2010. 310 311 Imparsial. such as justice. but also this court is alleged to be “ineffective” (AHRC 2009:25). Gerak Aceh.com/news/2010/07/08/antigraft-activist-attacked-severely-injured. This is despite the fact that the police regulations state that in cases of corruption accusations the priority should be placed on the corruption charged. and/or criminal defamation charges. it is common that they receive offers of bribes or negotiation about the charges. East-Timor. 2010:4). Papua. and other areas. severely injured’ in: The Jakarta Post. Along similar lines. 8 July 2010 http://www.thejakartapost. The continuing impunity in Indonesia for human rights violations committed in Aceh. including.” In cases of involvement of the military.representatives310 frequently mentioned that when they demand accountability from high government officials or powerful economic actors. LBH. who is highly critical of the state efforts for genuine accountability.
land. Aceh. and oil. Land conflicts Indonesia has many valuable resources. and Papua. such as minerals.317 NGOs operating in the field of accountability can experience severe limitations on their space.org/indonesia/2009/09/16/usman_criminal_defamation/ 317 Interview of author with KontraS representative. and that neither threats nor charges of criminal defamation will impede them to do their work. In this struggle they face various other actors. These resources are subject to various. such as local elites who want access to government positions and exploitation permits319. Regional governments were for example allowed to earn their money by giving out licenses for logging until 100 hectares.316 The police however did not continue that case. HRW Alert.314 A fact-finding mission carried out by a commission set up by the government suggested the involvement of the military. ‘Jakarta police launch criminal defamation investigation against rights activist’ 16 September 2009. 319 Aditjondro reports that local government has the authority to approve or reject any investment plan in their regions. In December 2008. water. and providing legal. http://www. Hamid was summoned by the police.Even though most activists reported that threats are not followed by action. and exploitation. As a founder of KontraS and the executive director of Imparsial. They offered as explanation that this might be because the TRC has not been founded yet. military. material or psychological assistance. forests. 313 As a noteworthy exception.313 Munir died on a flight from Jakarta to the Netherlands because of poisoning. Every hour 300 soccer fields of rain forest are lost in Indonesia. but then the case was not pursued.318 NGOs and community organizations (GROs) play important roles in representing and assisting communities. 123 . often local. Jakarta 318 Schulte Nordholt writes that the environment was one of the biggest victims of the decentralization process in Indonesia (2008:120). the former chief of Indonesian airline Garuda was sentenced to one year in prison (Freedom House 2009) 316 HRW 2010.ifex. whereas a Garuda pilot has been sentenced because of the murder315. that people involved with the military were implicated in the murder. In addition. distribution. 73% of the 192 million hectares forest has been lost (ibid 2008:121). most importantly due to frequent threats and charges of criminal defamation. 31 March 2010. After his acquittal he filed a complaint of criminal defamation against staff member Usman Hamid from KontraS for statement he had made after the acquittal on the courthouse doorsteps. which according to him leads local government leaders to act as protectors of national and transnational business interests (2007:129). This happened a lot. he received a sentence of 20 years in prison. conflicts about ownership. 314 For a detailed overview of the campaigns Munir was involved in as well as details on the findings of the fact finding team and their investigation into his murder can be found in the publication of Imparsial on this matter (2007). Munir’s death and the events surrounding the criminal case because of his death are strong reminders of the extremes to which their opponents could be willing and able to go. and as of now the founding seems actually effectively stalled. Also. the former head of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) was acquitted of the charges against him (Freedom House 2009). informational. nothing has occurred regarding the available evidence. he was at the forefront of the struggle to create accountability for human rights violations perpetrated by the military in 1965 and more recently in East-Timor. none of the NGOs in Aceh who work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) reported problems in this regard. making claims. 315 In 2008.
Some laws are quite good. in this section we focus exclusively on land disputes and the restrictions that communities face as they attempt to exert a land claim. militias and private security services who provide ‘protection’ but often participate in the exploitation of resources320. 124 . the state as an important landowner. For example. criminal organizations. Ardiansyah of the Institute for National and Democratic Studies reports of more than thousand cases of land grabbing during the Suharto era (2008). communities were able to do this in relative freedom. and the exploitation of lands in Indonesia. not much has changed today (2010:4) 321 Steni from HuMA describes that especially the palm oil and pulp and paper industry have been strong in applying for concessions (2010:4). and the agency responsible for permits and concessions. 320 During Suharto. whereas the general right of indigenous people to obtain their lands is laid down in laws. this structure has often disappeared over time. The regulation requires that the traditional structures of the community are still intact. but because of interventions such as the removal off the lands. 321 The experiences related in this section are very similar for claims regarding natural resources in general. KPA. Another problem with the legislation is that different laws are in conflict with each other.police. According to Steni. CASE BOX: Land claims and legislation It goes far beyond the scope of this chapter to go into the details of land tenure and the complications with land claims. concessions. 2010:4). this state control has led to massive exploitation of the forest (Steni. even though the majority of the communities did not have legal certificates for the land (the lack or inconsistency of land tenure documentation as well as the uncertainty about access to forest resources is for example discussed in a report of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO. NGOs involved in agrarian reform (HuMA. 2009:10-11). To solve this issue. report that the problem in Indonesia is more complicated. it is made very hard to become recognized as an indigenous group. over the rights of the indigenous people that may be living there (Steni. AMAN has started the process to draft a law on Indigenous People. which the Suharto regime interpreted as having exclusive authority. A large proportion of lands have been designated as state forest and is thus automatically state-owned land. 2010:3). Customary land rights are a subject in themselves and have been addressed by various scholars such as McWilliam (2006). companies paid 20-25% of their profits to the military or local bureaucracy to ensure their security and access to their land. preman. and national and international corporations with plans and projects to exploit resources. legislator. Whereas in the Philippines the laws are reported to be great but implementation is lacking. and AMAN). It is however useful to give some insight into the legal challenges that communities face as they exert land claims. but can get very restricting in the details of the regulations. In these beginning years of the Reformasi. Due to limited space and because many of our interviewees were involved in land disputes. In 1998 many communities started to reclaim those lands by entering the land and cultivating it. In practice. The communities applying for recognition thus get often rejected.
and corporations in these cases often involves a combination of threats. military. 325 Interview with author. 2005). PRAXIS was able to tell about the experiences of its members.Because the communities lack legal certificates. 41-52. The interaction with police. 8 April 2010. reports the spokesperson of KPA. The physical harassment and criminal cases have a clear effect on the mobilization of communities. which is the reason they never file a case in court about the land they claim. Many other instances related here were shared by non-ICCO partner KPA. Police then remove the communities. or mining area respectively. but they emphasize that the communities they work with suffer from these restrictions of their space. 324 For more information on human rights violations in land expropriation.326 For example. In March 2007.325 Urban NGOs working on land issues generally don’t face physical harassment or criminalization. 125 . The KPA spokesperson says that it frustrates him that human rights organizations often are only interested in human rights violations like torture and violence. and he has observed a decrease of the number of communities who reclaim land by entering it as well as a decrease in KPA’s member organizations because of various people’s organizations that disappeared as a consequence of the harassment or the jailing of leaders. they won’t win their cases in a courtroom. KPA tells that in 2009 three people were shot dead in Sumatra by the police. and (non-ICCO partner) ELSAM in Jakarta shared some cases with me which involved these issues. physical violence. the conflicts between communities and corporations had been defined as private conflicts in which the police could not intervene. as many members of ICCO partner PRAXIS are communities of peasants and peasant organizations. Jakarta 326 ICCO partners in Aceh YRBI. Permata. job loss. This changed in March 2007 and since then the police has intervened frequently. Facing communities who actively reclaim their lands through occupations. There is fear in communities. but that they are never placing it in the context in which those violations occur. and criminal cases. which in the case of resistance by the community often leads to violence and arrests.324 The spokesperson of KPA explains that since 2007 they have observed an increase in the response of the government to act against communities who occupy lands without legal certificates. corporations still want access to the lands for which they had received the concessions. plantation. Freedom House (2006) provides the following reference: Tutup Buku dengan "Transitional Justice"? Menutup Lembaran Hak Asasi Manusia 1999-2004 dan Membuka Lembaran Baru 2005. Physical harassment generally occurs when the police act upon a supposed illegal or criminal 322 Memorandum of Understanding between National Land Agency (BPN) with Indonesia National Police No 3/SKB/BPN/2007 about Land Dispute Settlement http://racainstitute.322 Previously. (Jakarta: Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi Masyarakat [ELSAM].wordpress. the communities that do can face physical harassment and/ or arrest. He says almost apologizing “of course torture is also bad” but he wants to emphasize the unequal distribution of land which is the background for the violations.323 They charge these communities with the specific provision from the relevant act which prohibits “illegal entry” to the forestry land. bribes. a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) specified the role that the police can play based on the provisions in the various laws that illegal entry to forestry lands is a criminal act.com/2007/05/24/hello-world/ 323 Many communities do not resist removal by the police. in another incident 12 people were shot (not fatal).
Local communities and GROs. most importantly threats.331 In response. Walhi. Additional details about the incident were contributed by local researcher Maria Louisa Khrisnanti looked this information up in the Kendari Post (a local newspaper).329 In order to assist communities in agrarian reform. the conflict desk sent a letter to the local government. a network of organizations has opened an “agrarian desk” where communities can come with their problems. the community decided to enter the land and start cultivating it again (the teakwood had already been cut). 328 This was confirmed by ELSAM. 7 April 2010. so that the case will be closed. It is therefore directly related to the criminalization of the actions of peasants who reclaim lands. and criminal charges. the conflict desk continued its intervention by pushing the Ministry to issue a ministerial decree on the protected area. It should be noted that not all organizations involved in land rights reported physical harassment. In practice. the Suharto government created a teak plantation on the land. In order to address the community’s demand for access to the land. 329 Interview with author. Often. Another good practice is the “conflict desk” that for example dealt with a conflict in southeast Sulawesi.332 The operational space for urban professional NGOs working on land issues is quite free and broad. the mere presence of communities on these lands without a legal certificate is legislated to be illegal and can lead to the removal by the police. police or companies use this article against communities who enter a plantation and cut off wood for the purpose of cooking or building their house. the cutting of trees is defined as “material destruction” leading to arrests of community leaders. After the fall of Suharto. This is still in on-going procedure. Elsam reported to perceive an increase of criminal cases related to land disputes. Banda Aceh 330 Conflict desks are created by National Forestry Council (DKN).330 Violence occurred against members of a community. After 2005 their presence led to violence and the community was facing criminal charges. The spokesperson of KPA emphasizes that it is always the leaders of communities who are the subject of criminal prosecutions. 327 Article 47 of the Plantation Act prohibits entering and using a plantation without permission or any action that results in damage to the plantation or its assets. HuMA.327 Also criminal defamation has been used as a charge. up to 8 years in prison. and KPA are members of this network. however. 8 April 2010. Legal Aid Indonesia. often NGOs have a choice in their tactics and can assess their willingness to face the repressive consequences of more confrontational tactics. ICCO partner Permata does not experience any physical harassment in the communities where they work. potentially accompanied by violence. The violence stopped as a result of their intervention.328 The sentences tend to be between 3 and 6 months. but also longer sentences have been applied. For example. Just as in the Philippines. NGOs. 331 The incident and the work of the conflict desk were reported to me by the spokesperson of HuMA. Members of DKN consist of communities. 332 Interview with author. violence. Using its ownership rights over all forestry land. can face a range of restrictions. In other instances. which during Suharto was removed from the state forestry land where they had been cultivating for years.action on the part of the community. Instead. AMAN. they observe the “old pattern” in which the government and corporations will negotiate with the community and offer benefits to community leaders. Jakarta 126 . HuMA and KPA explain that this network is united around the principle of “genuine agrarian reform” as opposed to stateled or market-led agrarian reform. government and scholars.
freedom of religion. and ICCO partners Flower Aceh. Tikar Pandan. The TIFA Foundation told that for good communication they rely on local partners who know how to communicate their programs. RPuK. The “western” label also affects some NGOs in Aceh who work on women’s issues in communities. 334 See for example http://www. They sometimes are rejected by communities.337 333 Aditjondro lists religious intolerance as one of the five major dangers to Indonesian social movement activists (2007:129). the word “pluralism” has obtained a negative meaning after the fatwa by the Islamic council “MUI. They use a special Arabic word in their trainings.336 ICCO partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan use art and culture to open up space for discussion in this regard. Flower Aceh reports that they do the following against the negative stigma: (1) gender education from an Islam perspective: they invite a resource person on Islam issues. they point out that they also focus on migrant workers. LGBT and HIV/AIDS reported restrictions due to fundamentalist religious organizations and the religious beliefs held by communities. and PRAXIS. Banda Aceh 127 . a low profile of western donors. the TIFA Foundation reported that the term human rights is viewed as a western concept and not used in trainings. (3) they also invite men to the discussions.html 335 This practice has led to a discussion among NGOs: should we introduce new terms with the risk that they are being “hijacked”? For example. Do Karim. for example because the word “gender” is viewed as western. Religious intolerance is perceived to have increased over the past 5 years. a woman involved in the LGBT community.com/news/2010/02/10/religious-tv-jeopardizing-pluralism. pluralism.Sensitive issues in relation to religion: gender. so they also understand and can practice in their own households. LGBT. For example. such as the TIFA Foundation. they show films in Arabic. They emphasize that their activities are not only about the freedom of religion.”334 Also. 1 April 2010.thejakartapost. thus rejecting a truth claim. They also meet with the high Ulama to explain to them what TIFA does. Jakarta 337 Interview with author. (2) they tell about the history of Aceh in which there were many women leaders. the changing of terminology generally has been sufficient to keep working where they are. to explain that there is also in Islam a woman perspective.335 Thus far. 336 Interview with author. and the changing of names of their programs as ways of dealing with this restriction. and certainly not about conversion from Islam. For example. to show the different visions on Islam and they issued a journal on Islamic scholars. and pluralism NGOs working on issues of gender.333 The affected NGOs emphasize a good communication strategy. the definition that the MUI adopted of pluralism was that it meant that all religions are the same. The TIFA Foundation reported that the stigma as a ‘western’ NGO with a moderate interpretation of the Islam and work on interfaith dialogue can mean that people refuse to attend meetings or that the community leader asks the NGO to leave. 6 April 2010. For example. This definition makes that NGOs cannot use the term “pluralism” anymore without seeming blasphemous. Different NGOs in Jakarta and Aceh reported the challenges they face in this regard.
As they had come with their children. religion. based on report “Women Human Rights Defenders” by Komnas Perempuan). Banda Aceh). Women experience specific challenges as NGO representatives and community leaders. they decided to leave. They have to work for acceptance in the community. even after a 128 .” Specifically a traditional Islamic boarding school resisted. NGOs often work in alliances to tackle these sensitive issues. At the end of 2008 in Greater Aceh.CASE BOX: dealing with a negative stigma as Westerners and Non-believers ICCO partner Flower Aceh has to struggle against a negative stigma when they want to work with women in rural communities. The community showed their traditional knives and asked Flower Aceh to leave the area. as they even disputed the logo of Flower Aceh which they argued contained a cross in the logo which meant that they wanted to Christianize. identifying ten specific vulnerabilities and types of violence that they face because they are women: “rape. sexual abuse. In one community in Northern Aceh. custom. far from any roads. The community threatened that if they wouldn’t leave the area they would burn the car. wife and children. and exploitation of women’s identity” (UN Special Representative. and as it is a very rural area. It was very risky. sexual harassment. corrosion of credibility based on marital status. They reported a trauma from this incident. a community forcefully resisted the entry of Flower Aceh. Several NGOs in Aceh have worked together to advocate for a human rights perspective on a law enacted in September 2009 which proscribed the death penalty for a woman who committed adultery. 2007:18. There was panic in the Flower team. 6 April 2010. The National Human Rights Commission. in cooperation with for example ICCO partner RPuK has written a report on “Women Human Rights Defenders” as well as guidelines for women. In response to this Flower Aceh arranged a talk by one of their members (a man whose field is gender in Islam perspective) about gender and Islam and slowly the women became used to the term gender. and they decided not to go back (interview with author. belittlement of women’s capacity and issues. attack on women’s role as mother. The leader of the community could not give promises. culture. who fear that the intervention of Flower Aceh will lead the women not to behave like women anymore. mainly from the men. and family reputation. Several specific cases are mentioned such as a woman protesting against a controversial Pornography Law was called “dirty woman” and the house of a female activist who protested against domestic violence was burned down. The resistance against gender comes from within the community. sexual stigmatization. Flower Aceh received the warning that “they should not ever talk about gender here. marginalization and rejection based on morality. sexual terror. acknowledging that the community was close minded. even after the leader had permitted their access.
HRW. Journalists and rights activists who criticize the law are easily stigmatized as anti-islamic” (AHRC. ACSTF. AHRC (2009:15) reported that “*a+s a consequence of discrimination and alleged crimes committed against the Ahmadiyah the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) established a monitoring team based on Law No 39 of 1999 regarding human rights. the Ahmadiyah adherents in Central Lombok. Sri Ratu Safiatuddin Foundation. Kontras Aceh. they turned their lobby to the governor. Banda Aceh in: http://www. 343 Law No. Protests by conservative Islamic groups have also limited progressive legislative efforts. The governor thus far has refused to sign the law. In Jakarta. 341 “In February and March 2006. RPUK. pluralism. SeIA.rape (AHRC. 2008:123. Unfortunately. Demos342 and Imparsial. After protests by Islamic groups. including for example Praxis.339 Flower Aceh tells that when they did lobby in the House of Representatives on this law. inheritance. Radio Suara Perempuan. there was a violent incident in which Ahmadiyah adherents (religious group) were evicted from their houses. Schulte Nordholt reports that the Sharía law was not one of the demands of the GAM. 2010:17. To date there is no significant progress. Violet Grey. HRW.338 This network was initiated by the Gender Working Group (GWG) and involves ICCO partners Tikar Pandan. 2009. The adherents of Ahmadiyah also experienced acts of violence during the eviction” (Komnas Ham. AJMI. The representative of Flower Aceh believes this is a result of their lobby. LBH Aceh.” When the lobby in the legislative failed. This provision is part of the current efforts in Aceh to enact laws based on the Sharía. This incidents [sic] had caused 141 persons had to fled their homes. 2010:4). 339 The civil society network of those who care about Islamic law: NGO Coalition HAM. LBH APIK Aceh. Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) were evicted by the local community. there is a pro-pluralism coalition constituted by Muslims. the minister of religion did not pursue the revisions. such as advocating a judicial review of the law on blasphemy. Sikma.com/letters/your-letters-repeal-the-stoning-law-malaysia-misconceptions/330795 340 Lobbies and legislative efforts from progressive and conservative groups continue to confront each other. 2006:39). pressure the government. The AHRC reports that the “proposed provincial legislation (Law No. KKP. KPI. Catholics and others. Braithwaite.thejakartaglobe.341 In 2008. reports have stated that there was no state intervention to protect the Ahmadiyah adherents or punish the attackers. *…+ The law would apply to all Indonesian's in Aceh. GWG. 1/PNPS/ 1965 129 . This law was aimed at monitoring and inquiring in to several alleged violations of human rights against members of the Ahmadiyah. the vision expressed by Demos is “the realization of society and state that respects the values of justice. the Regional Government as well as local police officers did not do anything when and after the incidents occurred. Freedom House (2006) mentions an initiative of a working group drafting revisions to Islamic civil laws that were supposed to promote gender equity in marriage. Pusham Unsyiah. and divorce. 2009:14. they were accused of being “out of Islam.340 In 2006. Flower Aceh. 2009). a Women Solidarity group (SP) and several others. It should be noted that since 2006 also other districts in Indonesia have enacted laws based on the Sharía (Freedom House. With this autonomy it has become possible to enact laws. They report to the public. 11/2006) dictates that a raped women find four witnesses to her attack or face death by stoning for adultery. and take legal actions. equality a well as humanism” (pamphlet about Demos). NU. It is suggested that it was a conscious strategy by Jakarta to strengthen the position of the Islamic leaders and make them form a counterweight to the GAM (Schulte Nordholt. including non-Acehnese residents and non-muslims.” 342 For example. SP Aceh. 2009:14). Tikar Pandan. This indicates that the challenge here goes beyond the specific groups that commit the violent acts. Despite the violence. the government has issued a decree freezing activities of Ahmadiyah adherents (potentially five years imprisonment) and some district governments have banned the group (Freedom House. footnote 5 and 23).343 This law is deemed problematic as it limits the number of state-recognized religions to six and the law further prohibits the interpretation of 338 Aceh has gained autonomy after the peace agreement was signed in 2005. 2010:2).
which is by far the main victim of incidents of religious intolerance. stigmatization in itself severely restricts operational space once it forces NGOs to withdraw from a community or change the content of their programs. Nomura also points out the tendency to create networks.”345 Even though the police protection in the court is deemed to be good. NGOs working on issues of gender. most responses are in reaction to immediate physical threats or criminal charges. In this section. The executive director of Imparsial was called a “devil. of which 238 were affecting followers of Ahmadiyah. 344 For a detailed overview of incidents. individual versus coordinated responses. we have identified three areas where NGOs are active and experience severe limitations on their operational space as different restricting actions and policies from different actors (both state and non-state) interact.346 Just recently. 1 April 2010.59. Jakarta 346 From interviews with Imparsial. Whereas sometimes proactive campaigns are set up (mostly in relation to legal reform). 130 . Activists in Aceh specifically related how they moved from more accommodating styles during martial law to more confrontational strategies in the current democratic framework. 1 April 2010 and the Legal Round Table (31 March 2010) in Jakarta 347 th ‘Dispense with the pieties. in the case of religious sensitivity. During hearings in court related to this case. and confrontational versus accommodating styles of response. which Nomura characterizes in the sector of environmentalist NGOs as participatory and egalitarian (2007:509). May 22-28 2010. NGO response strategies in Indonesia can be characterized as highly coordinated. President Yudhoyono held a remarkable televised speech in which he claimed that “to change the country’s constitution in favour of an avowedly Islamic one *…+ would be ‘unacceptable to Indonesians. Professional NGOs are particularly targeted when they receive foreign funding and are therefore more likely to be seen as western agents.religious passages. 345 Interview with author. We have already given some indication of how the NGOs in these particular areas have dealt with the restrictions.’” 347 This is a clear signal from a president who has otherwise been silent on the issue of political Islam. manoeuvred to operate around the restrictions or defended their space in a more confrontational style. p.344 The pro-pluralism coalition has united to call for judicial review of this law that seems to justify discrimination of Ahmadiyah adherents. on 17 May 2010. Specifically interesting is the distinction between confrontational and accommodating response styles as NGOs very clearly choose a certain ‘profile. the Setara institute has published a report in which it monitors the freedom of religion and belief. Whereas in most cases stigmatization is a problem because it can lead to criminalization or repression. executing a western agenda. In 2008 they reported 367 violations. LGBT or pluralism can face serious limitations when they face religious organizations or community leaders who oppose their work. Responses In the previous section. the activists as well as the court officials had to enter the court through a specific door. In general. religious groups appeared with banners calling the NGO activists demons and pagans. This provision is viewed to create the basis for violence against religious groups such as Ahmadiyah. Counter-terrorism in Indonesia’ in: Economist.’ This choice is related to a risk assessment. We distinguish between reactive and proactive responses. we will analyse systematically the various response strategies that we have encountered.
Regarding individual reactive responses. 2009). many activists speak out against what they perceive as restrictions on their work and are more confrontational. and KPA) actually provide these trainings. 349 Interview of author with Praxis. especially in Jakarta. we have encountered some accommodating instances where NGOs practice forms of self-censorship to avoid trouble and be able to continue doing their work. as there is a lack of lawyers. In general. but lacks the resources to solve these issues across Indonesia or even to provide enough paralegal training. Some NGOs (Imparsial. which are generally referred to as “paralegal” training. For example.349 Thus. Often a clear chronology is missing and their language is too bombastic. however. Unfortunately. Such is the case with NGOs who work with issues that are sensitive for some religious groups and in some cases where people struggle for land rights. in many instances NGOs can be observed to unite their forces and make common demands on the government. LBH. from 19891994. In a closed session 348 Nyman reports of a short period of liberalization during the Suharto regime specifically for media. Jakarta 131 . Praxis mentioned that in Jakarta they often receive a letter from a member organization in a region with the request to pressure a specific government officer in that region. There was for example successful opposition to the proposed reinstatement of the Internal Security Act in 2003 and at this moment there is collective action for judicial review on legislation on blasphemy. there is a “Security Sector Reform Network” that works on police reform. are familiar with the concept of “human rights defenders” but not all of them work actively with the concept or use the available legal instruments specifically formulated in the defence of HRD. This training is needed to give peasants for example the capacity to document well their land claims as well as violent events or criminal cases. 31 March 2010. Most NGOs in Indonesia.348 Coordinated proactive responses occur as NGOs collaborate on specific issues in various networks. At the yearly meeting they exchange information about cases and share mechanisms of protection. for example regarding laws that are about to be implemented or to repeal undesired laws. Various NGOs reacted positive to the suggestion of receiving training on HRD Guidelines. Other successful collective campaigns are the mass demonstrations by workers who succeeded in postponing debate of the Employment Bill which they feared would have negative consequences for workers (CSI Index. In this work they often collaborate with academics. This indicates the lack of local capacity to deal with it locally. This opened up the space and awareness for later demonstrations when these freedoms were curbed again (2006:53). 31 March 2010. Jakarta 350 Interview with author. we have seen that proactive efforts to protect space by initiating procedures for judicial review can become subject to contestation and limit the available space for NGOs as they undertake this legal action. 2006:27) and the joint advocacy about tax exemption (CSI Index. This network provided a policy paper on police reform and a draft for the internal regulation for the police after the police asked input from the civil society. This happened for example when NGOs applied for judicial review of the law on blasphemy. even though the law on criminal defamation has also led to convictions of journalists (Freedom House. The press freedom and informational freedom has led to good websites and reporting.350 Imparsial told that every year there is a meeting of HRDs. The NGO community in Jakarta does have the capacity. In addition there is collective action (by the same coalition) for judicial review on the law on criminal defamation. 2006:52).
started an emergency system for HRD under risk. they are accused to be western puppets and they tend to be perceived as a threat. She faced possibly 6 years in jail and 1 billion IDR. 1 April 2010. 2008:17). 355 The real need for these evacuations is demonstrated for example by the incident of a Kontras volunteer who was abducted on June 16. Caveat. During the past years. In response to serious threats. Rallies were held across the country and a famously successful campaign in Facebook was set up. At the moment. He was found dead the following day. tied to a palm tree. The Munir case is still not closed and they need resources for the case.355 The decision to evacuate is taken if the threat becomes specific and violent and/or when the family 351 352 Interview with author.352 The slogan on the pamphlet advertising this campaign reads “Protecting Human rights defender. US Congress for example made a part of “security assistance” to Indonesia contingent upon a report by the Secretary of State on the investigation into the murder (PRS.they provide training on security issues. Promoting Human rights. other alliances are more reactive. not by TIFA. ICCO allowed Imparsial to change the destination of a part of their funding to dedicate it to the campaign around Munir. 353 Whereas the examples above indicate some proactive initiatives. 132 . Civil society organizations successfully defined this as an attack to free speech (Caveat. by unknown attackers in North Aceh. such as the support group that has taken up the fight in the Munir case. gagged and showing evidence of torture (HRF 2005:14).354 Many organizations have reported on its progress (see for example AHRC. Imparsial together with some other NGOs proposes an HRD-protection bill in which the government is requested to provide specific protection as well as to create a specific desk at the national HR Commission that focuses on HRD protection. In addition to the proactive activity to repeal the provision on criminal defamation. but by local community donors. now they are working on a fund for HRDs to support them in small things such as scholarships for their children. 2003. there has been joint resistance after specific charges of criminal defamation. After the murder of Munir. Imparsial observes a lack of state protection for HRD as there is no specific recognition of HRDs. to avoid the need to bring them to Jakarta. For example. 2009) and it has also gained international prominence. Jakarta 354 The spokespersons for Imparsial we interviewed were not aware of other ways in which ICCO had been supportive of Imparsial during or after this period. which is funded not by international donors. they conducted at least 10 evacuations from Aceh. June 2009:4). Imparsial reported that they often assisted NGO representatives and activists from Aceh to evacuate to Jakarta to provide protection. The goal is to turn this HRD fund into a community fund.351 In the same spirit. Jakarta Because HRDs are usually volunteers.” Another initiative is the legal review that TIFA Foundation published to clarify for HRDs how the laws (such as the law on the environment) facilitate or impede HRDs. Since last year ICCO does not support Imparsial anymore. the Human Right Support Facilities (HRSF) which would for example enable the evacuation of HRDs within the region. One NGO leader subsequently worked as an intern at Imparsial. Because of this Imparsial feels that ICCO has left them alone after their director was killed when he was on his way to the Netherlands to study supported by ICCO. LBH Jakarta. The charged were dropped. in 2007 the TIFA Foundation together with KontraS. one of them was the former director of Kontras Aceh. as well as provide legal aid or physical health care to HRDs who really need it. 1 April 2010. the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) and the Pulih Foundation. 2009. 353 Interview with author. there was a successful fight in the case of Prita Mulyasari who was charged with criminal defamation after she filed a public complaint about hospital treatment.
In the case regarding Sulawesi in 2005 they cooperated with Walhi. 359 It is suggested in various reports that illegal logging is a major problem in Indonesia. Jakarta 358 KPA reports that at the local level there is little respect for the National Human Rights Commission Komnas HAM as they can only give recommendations. national parliament. 1 April 2010. strengthening customary law. ELSAM provides legal representation to peasants who face criminal charges in the context of land occupations and conflicts about natural resources. A few other evacuations took place from Papua. and Ambon.360 Conclusions & Recommendations In this research we have selected countries in the category of ‘partial democracies’ emphasizing that democracy is more than the fulfilment of a formal set of requirements such as regular elections.356 In response to the criminal charges that peasants in land conflicts suffer. one time in Lamteuta. and strengthening welfare” as well as “taking care of the water and the forest. Instead they talk about “strengthening the community.” This is a strategy to minimize risk of physical harassment. In Aceh. YRBI explains they do not want to seem biased. they do not want to provoke the people. In these evacuations Imparsial generally cooperated with other organizations. The NGO leader explains that just like during the conflict in Aceh one could not talk about “freedom” or “the future of the country”. even though it doesn’t solve the land dispute. then the illegal loggers may create mistrust among the community and say negative things about YRBI. Civil society activists emphasize that even though Indonesia does satisfy many of the formal requirements. various NGOs offer some form of legal counsel or representation. 1 April 2010. Not all NGOs. The spokesperson of YRBI fears that even if the risk is not so much about physical harassment. Sulawesi. they received a direct warning not to talk about illegal logging. When incidents occur. therefore Imparsial decided to focus on a proposal to demand official protection from the government for human rights defenders (see more on this below).359 YRBI consciously uses safe language and warns communities not to use violence against illegal loggers. but instead to take their tools. however. several NGOs emphasized to be careful about their strategy in order not to create risk in their work. Banda Aceh 133 . 7 April 2010. 360 Interview with author. and they do not directly address the sensitive issue. a visit by a HR Commissioner usually has the effect that the violence stops. They talked about “soft power” (as expressed by ICCO partner JKMA) and a strategy not to discuss illegal logging openly. Some NGOs are very vocal about restrictions they face. now one doesn’t talk about illegal logging. but instead talk about “caring for the forest” (in the words of ICCO partner YRBI). These are all examples of coordinated reactive responses. He emphasizes that it is their responsibility to create a safe atmosphere in the community where they work and not create trouble for them. still there is a lot to do to achieve real democracy. Jakarta Interview with author. Evacuations cost time though. see for example HRW 2010:3. 357 Agrarian Legal Aid Services is another organization of lawyers who offer legal counsel to peasants that get arrested.is threatened as well. However. KPA sends reports to the police department. For example. Aspinall writes that 356 357 Interview with author. choose for a confrontational path to resist potential or actual restrictions. HR Commission358 and the relevant sector council (such as the Forestry Council).
GRO leaders in land disputes often face criminal charges. pointing to systemic and structural problems with the character of state power. Civil society in Indonesia has grown enormously since 1998. even though the murder of Munir is a forceful reminder that violence is not impossible. optimism about the benefits of 134 . Civil society actors worry that donors are not sensitive to this. The specific use of criminal offenses. Still. Regarding criminalization. military or nonstate actors. NGOs have not (yet) gained the widespread support and legitimacy as they enjoy for example in the Philippines. Civil society is small but cohesive in comparison to the Filipino civil society.many of his informants identified the corrupt and authoritarian practices within the new formal democracy (2010:11). all NGOs face the negative label of executing a ‘western’ agenda.” civil society activists view the matter as “fundamentally political. partially because of great donor support. Actual violence is not commonly experienced by representatives of professional NGOs. which has serious consequences for their space. however. Grassroots community leaders are much more likely to experience actual violence in confrontation with the police. He reports that whereas donors tend to stress “technical deficits. Non-state actors such as the military. such as ‘criminal defamation’ against accountability advocates. Indonesia is widely viewed as a success story of democratization. both of which are potentially restrictive. widespread corruption. and continuing needs for a strong civil society as a counterweight to the government” (2010:12). Operational space for NGOs has indeed increased since the fall of the Suharto regime. In Papua. Some conclusions can be drawn from this case study. Finally. that it’s taken for granted *…+ *The problem is+ the attitude of the donors who give too much credit to democracy using a narrow and procedural definition’ (2010:11). military influence. such as theft and illegal entrance of a plantation. Only one NGO reported actual problems because of their legal status. which created problems for their operations in Papua. Gaventer (2006:27) specifically warned that the creation of new spaces of governance could easily be filled by the existing elite if no ways of sustaining “countervailing power” are created. For some NGOs this label seriously restricts their operational space. We have identified the most prevalent restrictive policies and actions limiting the space of NGOs. religious fundamentalists or unknown opponents. Regarding stigmatization. regarding spaces of dialogue. GRO leaders in Papua have faced charges of sedition and rebellion. restricts NGOs in their operations. in general. Regarding repression and intimidation. Aspinall goes to the heart of the matter when he juxtaposes the different views about how to deepen the Indonesian democracy. religious groups and business elites play an important role in determining the operational space of NGOs. the worst thing at the moment is their attitude which says that democracy in Indonesia is now okay. intimidating threats are common for all NGO representatives that work in one of the areas identified as sensitive. the administrative framework does not however. and elite competition because of decentralization are important elements limiting operational space for NGOs. seem to cause NGOs any problems. Despite fears to the contrary. Regarding administrative measures. civil society is looked upon suspiciously in Indonesian society as it tends to be associated with western values. NGOs and GROs face the risk to be labelled as sympathizers of separatists. the operational space of NGOs is hardly affected by general measures such as anti-terrorism laws. such as preman. Aspinall cites a senior human rights advocate who said about donors: ‘Of course. the main problem with the Indonesian administrative framework for NGOs seems to be the lack of clarity and the existence two laws on foundations and associations. Still.
Whereas in most cases stigmatization is a problem because it can lead to criminalization or repression. The results of this research show that whereas most NGOs benefit from the expansion of space. Whereas sometimes proactive campaigns are set up (mostly in relation to legal reform). such as gender. some old conflicts have not satisfactorily been solved and new tensions already challenge the process of democratization. NGOs operating in the field of accountability (anti-corruption and human rights violations) can experience severe limitations on their space. some of the NGOs experienced specific stigmatization because of the huge influx of NGOs and funding directly after the tsunami. Other concerns relate to the increasing cooperation between donors and the Indonesian government to the detriment of (critical) NGOs as well as the luring away of good NGO leaders into positions of consultants and political positions. Secondly. most importantly due to frequent threats and charges of criminal defamation. Some differences. where the current government has become increasingly suspicious of some of the more critical NGOs. Thirdly. LGBT or pluralism can face serious limitations when they face religious organizations or community leaders who oppose their work. bribery and intimidation. stigmatization in itself severely restricts operational space once it forces NGOs to withdraw from a community or change the content of their programs. NGOs working on issues of gender. In general. the restrictions posed because of religious sensitivity have been felt more and since longer in Aceh than in Jakarta. We have identified three major areas of NGO-work where operational space is at times severely restricted as the abovementioned actions and policies interact. Firstly. and pluralism. NGO experiences in Aceh regarding limitations of their space largely coincide with the experiences from Jakarta based NGOs. some NGOs experienced limitations related to the fact that Aceh is a post-conflict territory. executing a western agenda. local communities.collaboration with the government far exceeds negative experiences regarding cooperation. The third area that we identified where NGOs face limitations of their operational space are NGOs working on sensitive issues in relation to religion. thus for example facing the issue of the proper reintegration of ex-rebels. can be noted. in the case of religious sensitivity. Points of concern are the combination of negotiation. however. and criminal charges. can face a range of restrictions. LGBT. which seems especially prevalent with respect to NGOs who level accountability accusations and GRO leaders engaged in struggles regarding natural resources. NGO response strategies in Indonesia can be characterized as highly coordinated. violence. most responses are in reaction to immediate physical threats or criminal charges. whereas the operational space for urban professional NGOs working on land issues is quite free and broad. thus decreasing the sustainable capacity of NGOs to be strong actors in spaces of dialogue. 135 . peasants and rural GROs that struggle for land. Firstly. however. the relations with the local Acehnese government for some NGOs have changed radically over the past years. It is clear that the process of democratization has opened up new spaces for NGOs for advocacy and claim-making. Fourthly. Secondly. Professional NGOs are particularly targeted when they receive foreign funding and are therefore more likely to be seen as western agents. most importantly threats.
In Guatemala the role of the military diminished substantially over the past decades. and who can be held responsible for this? Thirdly. What kinds or combinations of policies are responsible for the most important restrictions. The case of Indonesia is rather different since NGOs were less present during the authoritarian regime. whereas the presence of an independence movement in Papua has led the Indonesian state in this region has strong authoritarian characteristics. in general terms. as well as the issue of attribution.Chapter 6 . All countries embarked on an uncertain process of democratization in the late 1980s or 1990s. and insecurity. During and after the democratic openings. But (former) military still play a role in national political life. while the sector started to boom when the Reformasi started. corruption. General findings and trends A first conclusion is that. while in Honduras the coup provided new space to the military. we reflect on the findings of these cases studies in terms of the existence of trends in restrictions on operational space of NGOs and about commonalities and differences within and between the countries examined. While the four countries are clearly examples of ‘partial democracies. Secondly. In Central 136 . Firstly. There are important commonalities and differences between the countries included in this study. Despite reforms. In all four cases. We finalize this chapter with recommendations. played a relatively minor role in the transition towards democracy. there is lots of operational space. such as a rather weak rule of law. in the partial democracies that were under study. In all cases the diminishing role of the military was a key component of the democratization processes.Conclusions and recommendations Conclusions In this chapter we draw conclusions about the restrictions that NGOs experience in the four countries that were examined in preceding chapters. This is the case despite the typical problems or deficits that these partial democracies suffered from. we discuss the importance of the different types of restrictions. we will reflect on the response strategies and capacities of local NGOs. while there are powerful interest groups (often with a presence or contacts in the state) that have no interest in obeying to democratic rules of the game.’ all countries have regions that are war zones or crisis areas. in Indonesia the military still has strong vested interests and exerts substantial influence on politics while there is a lack of civilian control over the military. In all countries there is a fundamental problem of a relatively weak state. Mindanao in the Philippines displays the characteristics of a war zone and until recently Aceh in Indonesia was a war zone. democratization is ‘unfinished business’ and it is fair to say that in at least two cases (Honduras en Guatemala) the democratization process is under pressure (as a result of a coup and criminalization of the state respectively). with high levels of corruption. since the power of the state is or contested. the NGO sectors grew and in all cases NGOs have increasingly tried to use and enlarge the resulting operational and political space. but (former) military are still a factor to count with. In three of these countries (all except for Indonesia) a strong NGO sector emerged during the authoritarian period and this sector played an important role in the push for democratization and transition towards democracy.
(2) resource conflicts. In these cases. In Guatemala we looked at (1) NGOs working in the field of truth. In each of the country chapters of this study. Hence. The increasingly tense atmosphere in the period before. Finally. the chronic insecurity is reflected by high levels of violence and extremely high homicide rates. which affects in particular a number of claim-making NGOs. Restrictions come and go. (2) peasants and indigenous people (re-)claiming land. we found that the kinds of organizations that experienced most restrictions in all cases are (a) NGOs (mostly those working at grassroots level) and local community organizations involved in resource conflicts about for instance land rights or mining rights. it is important to note that all organizations that participated in dialogues or consultations with governments reported complaints or doubts about the results of these processes. LGBT. However. in all countries under study.1: Categorization per country In general.America there are regions and urban areas with particularly high indices of violence where the state is weak and not able or willing to restore public order. The generalized insecurity in these crisis areas restricts almost all NGOs. (c) NGOs or organizations involved in women’s rights and the rights of the LGBT community. In the Philippines. we found selective restrictions on operational space. and (d) NGOs operating in areas with chronic insecurity. in Bajo Aguan) and leads to new cycles of violent 137 . and (3) the specific problems caused by the coup. the following specific contexts are described: (1) NGOs operating at the extreme left: consequences of a counterinsurgency focus on civil society. groups that make political claims vis-à-vis the state and/or other actors (e. NGOs that are involved in issues of service delivery generally experience few problems. human rights and justice. In particular. corporations or the military) are more likely to experience serious restrictions in their operational space. In Indonesia there were: (1) NGOs demanding accountability for corruption and past human rights violations. election periods are generally tenser periods.g. (2) NGOs and community organizers making claims about land and natural resources. and (3) decreasing space for NGOs working on issues of gender. corruption and state repression. depending on the general political conjunctures and the tensions that are building up. (3) NGOs operating in conflict areas and isolated places. particularly when they address issues of past atrocities. Finally. during and after the coup in Honduras is an example of how polarization at national level also influences local resource conflicts (e. Despite this unfinished democratization. and (3) problems related to chronic insecurity. the operational space of NGOs is substantial both on paper and in practice. (2) chronic insecurity.g. and pluralism. despite the fact that there is operational space for many NGOs. in Honduras we distinguished between (1) resource conflicts. but this insecurity is different from the actions and policies that specifically target NGOs which are the subject of our study. Box 6. For instance. (b) NGOs who demand accountability of the state. The vulnerability of these groups is not a given. we focused on the sectors that experienced most problems.
In the Philippines. Apart from NGO-legislation. There is strong evidence that both state and non-state groups or individuals (or combinations of state and non-state actors) can be held responsible. Many grassroots organizations suffer from criminalization in the struggle around resources. as is for instance the case with the law on criminal defamation in Indonesia. long periods of pre-trial detention. CEADEL in Guatemala reported frequent (monthly) and timeconsuming audits of the staff of the local ministry of Labor. It can come and go. if not actual physical injury. there is a growing concern that prosecutions of members of community organizations and trade unions that claim land right or protest against mining companies are prioritized by the judicial sector. In combination with lengthy trials. efforts to introduce ‘bad NGO legislation’ can seriously threaten the space of the entire NGO sector. violence against farmers became more frequent as the battle about the extension of land reform intensified. In the case of Guatemala and Honduras.restrictions. Also in Indonesia. but also with regard to the staff of these organizations that can experience serious emotional and mental problems. while CEADEL precisely criticizes the ministry for not controlling the labor conditions in the region where they work. This leads to suspicions about alleged political motives of staff within the judicial sector that are generally very hard to prove. This is in our view closely connected to the relatively weak state structures (especially in terms of rule of law) in the countries studied. this causes serious problems. In many cases – but particularly in the case of conflicts about resources (such as land and mining) – the attribution of the repression is not always clear. In general. Closer scrutiny by the international community was a factor that helped reduce the extrajudicial killings of farmers. This was most clearly the case in Honduras. The restrictions experienced are also a result of the political profile of the NGOs as well as their ‘(response) style’ (either more confrontational or accommodating). Restrictions and attribution The above mentioned groups experience problems in one or several (and sometimes all) of the fields that were mentioned in figure two of chapter one. Nevertheless. In the Philippines. injuries and killings. for example farmers involved in campaigns for land reform in the Philippines are prosecuted for trespassing. We didn’t find clear patterns of administrative restrictions that all countries share. both in terms of the operational capacity. which will be discussed further on. There is no doubt that repression – either in the form of threats. NGOs reported concerns about potential abuse of NGO-legislation. or as a lack of protection – plays a role for most of the groups that experience restrictions. administrative measures of different sorts can severely restrict NGOs in their operations. However. while many other crimes are not addressed. Below we discuss our general findings with regard to the five types of restrictions. but in general the accusations are based on regular criminal law. In a few cases. NGOs there have been able to counter these threats. the “pre-emptive calibrated response” which aimed to guide police forces in their 138 . and awkward situations in jail. Repression is not necessarily a continuous threat. counter terrorism legislation was used to try NGO staff. the legal framework enables NGOs to do their work and for example in the Philippines. Criminalisation can be a serious problem for NGOs. These measures can seriously hamper the work of these organizations. legislation explicitly promotes NGO involvement in government policy.
since a strong and capable civil society will not so easily be ‘co-opted’ and be more likely to ‘make spaces work’. where local staff members or participants of NGO-activities are targets of anonymous phone calls or harassment. Actions and measures seldom ‘come alone’. As mentioned. there are concerns and frustrations about the quality of dialogue in these spaces. This applies particularly to the repressive actions and criminalization. In particular in Guatemala and Honduras the frustrations about the quality of these spaces are considerable. NGOs are singled out and labeled as groups obstructing progress (mining).regulation of rallies and demonstrations. NGOs can also be criticized for promoting different values. specifically for NGOs working on issues of pluralism and religious freedom. communists or terrorists (Philippines. we found examples of cooptation of NGOs by government officials. stigmatisation is part and parcel of the first three kinds of restrictions. This can cause severe restrictions. it was reported that dialogues alternated with threats and intimidation. this is not to say that a particular series of measures (from repression to stigmatisation) is the result of a coordinated plan or the product of a ‘mastermind’. and there is a serious problem of attribution. However. or officials can (ab)use their administrative powers. We would argue that the complaint that the spaces don’t work. As to the use of political space. but in many cases the combined actions of corporations. the general stigma of the NGO-sector as ‘western’ agents proved an important hurdle. The coup in Honduras led to doubts about whether NGOs should deal with the government in the future. In Guatemala and Honduras. In some cases. In this regard it proves very complex to prove ‘what exactly is going on’. created resistance among NGOs as they feared it would scare people away from public activities. however. also concerns about the functionality of these new spaces. Guatemala). There are. In Indonesia. also points at weaknesses of civil society actors. In all cases. There are. but we would however not talk of a clear trend. 139 . Depending on the local and national context. while bribing of NGOs or community leaders was also reported. This leads to the conclusion that government agencies. in many cases it is not entirely clear who is behind the measures. In general. however. repression (intimidation) can come together with stigmatization through the media (as experienced by human rights organizations in Guatemala). the use of these spaces is often problematic. It is clear that NGOs that touch upon vested interests are more likely to experience these kinds of pressures or restrictions. There is little doubt that restrictive measures of NGOs can be the result of targeted ‘campaigns’ or initiatives. but we did not find particular ‘sequences’ of combinations of measures. As to the attribution an important conclusion of this study is that the experienced restrictions are not only the result of government actions. which can easily lead to stigmatization. A frequent critique is that talking didn’t lead to any substantive changes. government officials and (un)civil society. however. For example. religious groups take issue with the idea of human rights and human rights defense. Many of the claim-making NGOs have become involved in cooperation or dialogues with government agencies. The restrictions experienced by the groups mentioned above mostly entail a changing ‘cocktail’ of several of the measures discussed in figure 2 of chapter 1. also ‘silent’ forms of repression. While using the new opportunities is seen as crucial by donors of NGOs. Bureaucrats (or their superiors) have the ability to creatively and on an ‘ad-hoc basis’ hamper the work of NGOs.
In these cases the focus is on the efforts to tackle the effect of the problem. In the accommodating responses the search for a direct solution of the NGO or a group of NGOs themselves forms the core of the response. While a response is a calculated reaction to an experienced threat or challenge to a person or an organization. though this is not necessarily the case. taking a break after threats. NGOs are also cautious about the language they used. In Central America a number of NGOs were hesitant to openly use a human rights discourse. without necessarily dealing with the cause of the problem. Obviously. in Indonesia. There is a variety of responses to the various problems encountered. NGOs that have experienced most problems with threats have become more strategic and developed scenarios of how to deal with new restrictions. We have not seen a case like that. Moreover. be cautious when using the telephone. For example. a ‘pluralism NGO’ reported that they do not talk about ‘human rights’ as this is considered a western concept by some religious groups. In case of more confronting styles. The most basic one is ‘exit’ and the most radical form of exit is to disband an organization. there are different styles to react in all four domains. there can be both more accommodating and more confrontational reactions. There is every reason to believe that all claim-making organizations make these kinds of tactical judgements. a land reform NGO reported to avoid confrontation and withdraw from land occupations in advance. This is generally based on an equally ‘ad hoc’ analysis of these threats. For example. adding a variable that – on the basis of our fieldwork . Below we discuss the individual and coordinated responses separately. Below we will discuss each of them. The typical response in cases of experienced restrictions is an accommodating ad-hoc response to find a solution – such as building a fence. responses can change over time and so can the balance between the accommodating and confrontational responses. etc. In Central America several organisations emphasised that they were not able to deal with threats from criminal groups. 140 .Response strategies In figure 4 of chapter 1 we made a distinction between four types of response strategies. but organizations do censor themselves and decide to skip certain topics that are simply too dangerous to touch upon. the crux of the response is to accuse or protest against those responsible for the restrictions experienced. the difference between more ‘accommodating’ and more ‘confrontational’ responses. Wherever there is a restriction there will always be a reactive ‘response’. What do organizations do individually? Reactive and proactive responses. We will not refer in each section to each of the five restrictions. but only discuss the responses to the most important restrictions that NGOs encountered. contracting a guard.was found to be of particular importance. in the Philippines.
in Honduras after the coup staff members left the country for a while. Systematically inform the public and international partners Confrontational: Submit a complaint for a particular case. such as a guard or a fence. Confrontational: Protest. the Fundación Myrna Mack receives government protection. or go to trial.Reactive / Ad hoc Proactive / Strategic Individual Accommodating: Deny or relativize. in alliance with other NGOs Confrontational: Form a network to protest specific problems collectively. send out a collective press release Figure 6. selfprotection. which was the product of international lobbying which resulted in a resolution of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights. In the Philippines some staff had to hide for a while. leave country. However. accuse. staff has to deal with the emotional stress of threats. Accommodating: Initiate dialogue with those responsible for the restriction. lobby. This happens especially when tensions rise. E.g. These reactions vary from denial and relativizing the impact of threats to panic and stress. Ask government for protection. in all cases. A number 141 .1 Response strategies of NGOs When it comes to threats of staff the typical immediate response is to look for some form of accommodation. In Guatemala. ask support from other NGOs. denounce the specific problem in the press Coordinated Accommodating: Form a network to deal with a particular problem Accommodating: Form a network to deal with challenges and develop self-help strategies or dialogue with government agencies Confrontational: Protest. An option is that staff leaves the organization (temporarily). change work. stop work.
In fact. the experience is in Guatemala is interesting and can be explained by the problems that NGOs have experienced in the past 4 to 5 decades. With regard to both the individual and the coordinated efforts.of NGOs reported it had hired counselors to deal with these symptoms. What do NGOs do together? Reactive and proactive responses. Where a proactive 142 . representing more than 2. while a number of these organizations looks for coordination with other organizations. For example. Though these networks are supported by external donors. In Honduras and Guatemala NGOs reported to (consider to) leave areas that were seen as too dangerous (as a result of petty crime or interests of drugs traders). there is a high level of coordination. Thus. such as changing the route to their work. NGOs choose for a confrontational approach with the support of or in alliance with other organisations. There is already a local infrastructure of organizations that have dealt with these problems before and where NGOs like Udefegua and Sedem have specialized in these problems and play a pioneering role in Guatemala as well as Central America. there has to be a restriction that several organizations experience. Some went to the police when they received death threats. In order to move to a more proactive response capacity that addresses the restrictions on operational space in general. For instance. they are the product of local initiatives and processes. Only in a limited number of cases individual NGOs chose for a more confrontational response to the restrictions. Most often. even ad hoc individual responses will more often than not be taken with some kind of advice or help of this network. there is a high level of cooperation between NGOs to respond strategically to restrictions. in the Philippines and Indonesia. In these cases a press release denouncing a restrictive action is often signed by many NGOs in support for the organization that suffers the restriction. most NGOs do not operate in a vacuum and have their networks with other NGOs. the distinction between more accommodating and confronting responses is important. The latter kind of problem is particularly important in Central America. for example in CODE-NGO. For example. which are mobilized once a restriction appears or continues. government officials and others. which to a large extend explains their strength. however. In Indonesia. is even more complex. NGOs decide to leave these particular areas. a director of an NGO that received anonymous threats told she was in frequent contact with other directors of NGOs about her situation. the existence of networks of NGOs does not necessarily lead to coordinated responses. Most NGOs reported to take security precautions. Also in the Philippines. When particular regions are too dangerous or problematic to work. NGOs (a microfinance organization and women’s organization respectively) have reported to leave an area where they had experienced restrictions. In this regard. The move towards more coordinated action seems (not surprisingly) more difficult to take. In the foregoing it was argued that almost all organizations that face restrictions will try to resolve these at first by ‘individual accommodation’.000 development NGOs. while sleeping in different houses. an alliance of NGOs has initiated a request for judicial review to change the law on criminal defamation. However. For example. NGOs issue press releases when they are confronted with criminal cases or killings. In order to coordinate ad hoc actions. where a situation of chronic insecurity not only hampers the work of NGOs but has a profound impact on the social fabric in general.
Although ICCO is currently developing new policies with regards to human rights defenders and problems of shrinking political space. ICCO itself has both used accommodating and more confrontational approaches. The exact impact of restrictions on the operational space of NGOs is determined in interaction with their chosen response. However. these were the result of particular (combinations of) state or non-state actors defending their interests or values and resisting efforts of NGOs to create new spaces. The style of the response itself is also subject to debates between NGOs. a rich experience of supporting partners in different ways. All in all. but in many cases this leads to some reduction of operational space. While it is too early to reflect on the roles of the regional offices. the NGOs that choose for a more confrontational style often report to suffer more frequently or intensely from restricting actions and policies like stigmatization as criminals and physical repression. ICCO HQ has. This indicates one of the main dilemmas that NGOs face as they are challenged by restrictions: how can they optimally use. this space itself is the product of a long series of accusations and lobbying by numerous NGOs. defend. On the other hand.accommodating style will look for solutions to a problem by dialoging or negotiating with government officials. This was not only a result of the fact that the 143 . Coordination requires both a felt need to work together as well as a (political) willingness and consensus about style to do so. where it used its contacts with the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica as well as the ministry of Foreign Affairs in finding out whether and where staff of partner organizations was imprisoned. It is important to note that this proactive role was not played by the new regional offices of ICCO. In the countries of Central America NGOs criticized each other for either showing too much willingness to cooperate with government agencies. Examples of ad hoc accommodating approaches are for instance the assistance of ICCO (with other international NGOs) provided to an NGO leader to flee the country. Ad-hoc accommodation is the most common way to deal with these. without risking an increase in restrictive measures? ICCO support for partners Support from ICCO (as well as other international organizations) has mostly been ‘ad hoc’. there is no clarity about the ways and the situations in which ICCO (regional offices or HQ) will be involved. the restrictions of operational space are the result of oftentimes targeted and context-specific processes. The two approaches can obviously strengthen each other. and maintain their operational space. In most cases that we found restrictive measures. This is indeed related to the general problems of coordination of NGOs in many parts of the world. however. In Guatemala the creation of ‘la Instancia’ (a space where representatives of civil society and several government agencies meet to in order to discuss human rights violations) is an example of a coordinated strategic response that seeks to accommodate. However. ICCO HQ also played important roles after coup in Honduras. In many cases these debates are linked to political and strategic differences between these organisations that have different political stances and histories. or for being too confrontational and ‘negative’. Some accommodating responses like leaving an area constitute effectively a serious decrease in their operational space. In many cases this proves to be extremely problematic. more confronting approaches will protest against the government or submit a press release. the result is almost always some form of operational restriction.
E. (c) to use existing political space more effectively. At other times ICCO HQ opted for a more confrontational style. International campaigns should define a clear focus on particular restrictions that are present in more than one country – or particular fields where a variety of restrictions are experienced in several countries (e. the problems with regard to mining activities).regional office was still starting up. labeling all NGOs involved in development work as human rights defenders may make the concept an empty shell. ICCO should be aware that this discourse is not accepted or used by all partners. International campaigns to counter particular restrictions can be important. However.g. 144 . ICCO should primarily support local mechanisms to deal with (a) direct threats. The needs and expectations of partners can exceed the actual capacity of ICCO to assist. for example when it supported public declarations about the killing of Munir in Indonesia. We suggest ICCO uses the term human rights defense to emphasize the rights of its partners to have their operational space and where necessary to help NGOs to defend.g. Dealing with direct threats With regard to the ways ICCO deals with direct threats. since the variety of contexts. While the framework of human rights and the discourse and policies on human rights defenders is valid. ICCO should play a supportive role in the creation of local capacity. Furthermore. There is a particular need to enhance the capacity to monitor local violations of human rights as well as to analyse the micro-level political processes in which these take place. However. ICCO’s involvement in the lobby for a special UN mission to Guatemala (CICIG) is an extremely interesting example of how a coalition of international NGOs together with Guatemalan NGOs pushed for a UN-mechanism that critically looks at one of the causes of the restrictions in that country. where a leader from farmer organization TFM could present the plight of the killings against farmers and request international attention. An example of a more pro-active and strategic action has been the visit to the Dutch embassy in the Philippines. ICCO should be clear about what partners can expect when they are in trouble. and (d) pay particular attention to grassroots NGOs and community organizations in the opening up and defense of operational spaces. ICCO (regional and HQ) should be clear about what it is able to do and what not. the development of these mechanisms will have their own rhythm and problems of coordination can hamper this process. campaigns addressing ‘operational’ or ‘shrinking’ space in general will not be helpful. Recommendations With regard to the protection of operational space of its partners. to what extend is ICCO responsible for staff of partner organizations that have to flee the country? And how long will ICCO continue support for a partner organization after it has suffered severe repression. such as the killing of Munir? Towards proactive action With regard to proactive action. restore or optimally use their operational space. but also due to different views within the regional board about the coup in Honduras. (b) to work towards proactive action that might involve international actors when necessary. restrictions and specific problems of NGOs are too diverse.
there is a need to systematise the evidence on the growing problem of criminalisation of peasants and indigenous people in these struggles for rights over resources. This systematisation should not only focus on the restrictions and violations of human rights. Outside funding for these grassroots organizations hardly exists. further research about operational space of NGOs should be conducted in authoritarian regimes and war zones. and a further systematisation of these local problems. but link this to an analysis of local power relations and claim making so as to make assessments about the possible strategies of how to deal with the legitimate demands of local people. ICCO should also think of the ways it can contribute more strategically to the widening of operational space of grassroots and professional NGOs that are working in the most sensitive areas of resources and accountability. defending and/or using operational space will therefore mean different things for different NGOs. the groups working in the countryside that become part of conflicts around resources face the most serious challenges and often have least possibilities to counter these. Their space is rather the result of national and local contexts. but instead to reshape their space. 145 . how do movements deal with local dissent or cooptation of corporations? And what are – given the restrictions experienced by local people – successful strategies to move forward? NGOs in the field of resource claims almost always work with grassroots organizations and would not be able to do any of their work without them. In all cases.Creating and using space Apart from thinking about how to ‘defend’ NGOs. As to the research agenda. as well as the position. Relevant commonalities and differences between these political contexts will strengthen the general understanding of operational space and the possibilities for NGOs to defend and strengthen their uses of it. without risking an increase in restrictive measures. The ways in which these groups are restricted differs from place to place. Creating. In addition to the often severe restrictions that they face vis-à-vis local power holders. restrictions and conflict dynamics is needed. history and style of the NGOs themselves. In this regard an important dilemma is how these NGOs can use their (limited) space to make claims. For the NGOs that experience restrictions operational space is not something that can simply be ‘given back’. Pay particular attention to the importance of grassroots NGOs and community organizations Of all counterparts of ICCO. What is their capacity to both protest and dialogue. their operational space deserves specific attention.
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are representative of experiences in other partial democracies that were not included in this study. as well as the various response strategies. NGOs/ CSOs working on these issues often cooperate with groups emphasizing local community rights and environmentalist values. they have in common that political space is (being) restricted or under pressure. such as Thailand. but its sporadic use is sufficient to create a chilling effect. or during certain periods when governments take decisions or are confronted with protests. such as Peru. external pressure and lobbying can be of great importance. and Guatemala. Governments and corporations can come to view these NGOs/ GROs as an obstacle on the road to economic progress. Interested parties such as landowners. In a number of these countries there is a local capacity to respond. and Brazil. criminal stigmatization can be an extremely important means and is widespread. timber. El Salvador. Southeast Asia and Central America. while regional variation can also be considerable. They are critical of large scale economic projects (such as dams). We decided to focus on two sub-regions. and chose two country cases in each region. and forms of self-censorship. Honduras. the policies and actions 155 . Nicaragua. we worked with local researchers who have done much valuable work. not all groups in society experience the same kinds of limitations. Peru. But the political space of human rights NGOs or NGOs working on resource issues can become contested in particular regions of the country. On the one hand. diverting attention from the issue at hand: the struggle about the rights to and protection of resources. corporations and the government portray their challengers as criminals or terrorists. by focusing on partial democracies in these specific regions we aim to discern similar patterns and mechanisms. such as CTMs. Freely elected governments ruling countries in which huge inequalities still abound. and demand accountability. However. After our initial exploration we concluded that partial democracies view the NGO-sector as an obstacle in particular fields. but in particular in periods of increasing pressures. can be used to try particular groups. and minerals are contested by a variety of parties. On the other hand. a climate of fear. Brazil. and war zones) we have chosen to do in-depth case studies focusing on partial democracies. We believe that many of the trends and measures described in our cases. focusing the attention exclusively on the illegal or violent incidents that occur. Criminal stigmatization can lead to actual criminalization when these images of ‘criminals’ or ‘terrorists’ materialize in the application of the criminal code or terrorist laws to the NGO/GRO protest activity. In each country.Appendix: methodology and questionnaire Based upon our identification of three ideal types (authoritarian regimes. vested economic interests of powerful groups in society. partial democracies. Newly adopted legislation. the choice of cases provides for sufficient diversity to note important differences within the group of partial democracies. In these cases. Although each of these cases is different. Examples of these practices come mainly from Latin America. They have written a report describing the civil society and NGO sector. Big assets of these countries such as land. NGOs working on service delivery generally experience less pressure. as well as Asian countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. face a difficult task in the struggle to progress and participation in a global economy. Also the use of direct repression such as torture or extra-judicial killings is not widespread.
such as political analysts at the Dutch embassy or sociology professors at local universities. In each of the countries we have also interviewed with various local experts and outsiders. Most of our interviews thus dealt with these questions which we have labelled “on-the-job-trouble” and “responses and best practices” of NGOs/GROs. Much of our data is based on academic literature and available reports from Freedom House. and the recent trends and cases.as identified in figure 1. Most interviews lasted between one and two hours using a questionnaire as a flexible guideline instead of a rigid survey. is the experience of local NGOs. how they adapted themselves to the new situation or how they developed response strategies. In our selection of NGOs we worked closely with the ICCO country liaisons and with our local researchers. however. this meant that we mostly interviewed with NGOs that belong to the ‘Peace building and Reconstruction’ division within ICCO. In close cooperation with our local researchers we selected additionally 5 to 10 nonICCO-NGOs to make our sample more representative of the NGO sector and civil society in general. they assisted in the selection of non-ICCO-NGOs for interviews and often accompanied us during our fieldwork. In addition. In practice. It was not known how the actions and policies identified by various human rights organizations and other watch dogs were actually impacting the room of maneuver of NGOs. or Transparency International. The questionnaire is attached below. 156 . Human Rights Watch. Together with the ICC country liaisons we identified 10 to 15 NGOs that had experienced restrictions of their operational space. Hardly available in the public domain.
How big is your organisation in terms of staff and annual budget? 6. What have been obstacles in the achievement of your work? State – civil society – NGO relations 11. Which are the main programmes / projects your organisation? 4. such as the right to free speech. Do you know of other organisations (NGOs / GROs) that experience trouble? Do you think that there is in general a trend of diminishing space. or not? Checklist for interviews with NGOs that experience problems. how come? Does your organisation take particular measures (in terms of security measures. What is the mission and what are the objectives of your organisation? 2. If no. does your organisation experience limitations in the possibilities to operate freely as a result of government policies and actions? a. networking) with a view to avoid problems? 15. Do your counterparts experience problems? 16.QUESTIONNAIRE Questions for NGOs General questions about work and functioning NGO 1. Is your organisation part of networks of NGOs? Which ones? How are experiences? 13. public speech. What is the history of your organisation? When was it founded? With which objectives? 3. What have the most important changes been of / in your organisation in the past 5 years? 5. In general. Did you experience in any of the following phases? 1. If yes. actions and programmes. How is your relation to the government? Does your organisation have any institutional links with the government? Which ones? How are the experiences? 12. b. Which are the main achievements of your organisation? 10. Entry 157 . could you give us a general overview? See checklist below. What are the financial sources of your organisation? What is the importance of international donors? Who are the principal donor agencies? 7. Which national and international actors influence your operational space? On the job-trouble: General 14. In which parts of the country does your organisation work? 8. On the job-trouble: Phases of engagement ICNL has outlined six different parts of the operational work of civil society organizations which are protected by the international human rights legislation. These six different dimensions of CSO-work can be restricted by government actions and policies. What is the constituency of your organisation? Is it membership based? 9.
demonstrations. religious organisations. Physical harassment: What kind of repressive (more open. other) involved in this? What are the labels or stigmas that are most generally used? How have you responded to this negative propaganda? Individual/coordinated or proactive/reactive? Which response was most successful? How could ICCO have contributed to the effectiveness of this response? 158 . Operations Speech/advocacy Communication/contact Resources State protection On the job-trouble: Government actions and policies 17. media. 4. Negative propaganda: Are there cases of negative labelling and propaganda against your NGO/GRO? Who are the main actors responsible for this? Is there a clear involvement of particular government officials or agencies? Are there other actors (political parties. 5. 3. emergency measures. such as counter-terrorism measures. meetings. or other operations? How have you responded to these restrictions? Individual/coordinated or proactive/reactive? Which response was most successful? How could ICCO have contributed to the effectiveness of this response? 20. has affected the possibilities to work of you or your NGO/GRO? Have there been instances of criminal prosecution of members of you NGO/GRO? What were the charges? Have there been efforts of government agents to start civil lawsuits against members of your NGO/GRO? How have you responded to this criminalization? Individual/coordinated or proactive/reactive? Which response was most successful? How could ICCO have contributed to the effectiveness of this response? 19. Criminalization: Which repressive legislation (not specifically directed at NGOs). or other. or hidden) practices have you or your organization over the past five to ten years? Have you experienced threats or violence? Which actor was responsible for the harassment? How has the government responded to these incidents? Have perpetrators been punished? Has government involvement in repressive practices been alleged or proven? How have you responded to this harassment? Individual/coordinated or proactive/reactive? Which response was most successful? How could ICCO have contributed to the effectiveness of this response? 18. Administrative restrictions: How does the (formal) legislation on the founding or operation or tax-rules of NGOs affect your NGO? Have there been recent changes? Have there been other administrative restrictions on your work. 6.2.
or to influence in any other way their work or decision-making? Which actor was responsible for these attempts.g. What has ICCO Netherlands done to assist in defending against restrictions and limitations? What could ICCO do more or better next time? What kind of reactive response could ICCO develop? What kind of proactive response could ICCO develop? 159 . networking. Have responses on your side had counterproductive effects in the sense that other restrictive measures were applied more frequently or with more intensity? (e. the spokespersons) b. Which other actions and policies have influenced the work of your counterparts? 24. The existence of the organization as such has been threatened 26. meetings. speech. demonstrations. What features of your NGO/GRO or in the context around you have made this response the most feasible? 29. Specific programs. the leaders or directors. Cooptation: Have there been efforts to co-opt you or your NGO/GRO. With specific partners? e. Specific kinds of actions (e. the campaign about Munir. How do the different policies and actions interact with each other to restrict the political space of a specific NGO or of the NGO-sector as such? (E.g. the successful dropping of charges on criminal defamation has led to increased physical harassment) On the-job-trouble: Responses and best practices 27. fundraising) f.g. Have you been able to make use of existing alliances or networks? 30. the campaign on military reform) c. the government (local or national) or business corporations? How have you responded to these attempts? Individual/coordinated or proactive/reactive? Which response was most successful? How could ICCO have contributed to the effectiveness of this response? 22.21. e. Which other (government or other) actions and policies have influenced the work of your NGO? 23. is negative propaganda combined with criminal charges? Or are administrative restrictions on some NGOs combined with cooptation of other NGOs?) On-the-job-trouble: Daily operations 25. Specific regions? d. Specific individuals (e. Which parts of your organization have experienced restrictions and limitations? a. What made you decide to respond in the way you did? What factors did you take into account? 28. the Kalimantan-logging campaign.g.g. or campaigns (e.g.
farm workers and advocates 7. Professor Sociology at the University of the Philippines and columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer 4. Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands 3. National federation of farmers. Chairperson. 160 . Jarilla. (NATCCO) (cooperative) 9. Belinda E. Counsellor Political Affairs/ Deputy Head of Mission. OIC Operations Group and Head. current board member for the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement. It happened that we spoke with NGO representatives in Manila who are actually based in Mindanao. Vicente Roaring. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) Davao/ ICCO-partners 1. Inc. Jesus Vicente C. Armando D. (MCPI) 4. Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao. Garganera. Billy de la Rosa. de la Paz. (CSI) (research on agrarian issues) 6. Task Force Mapalad (TFM). Marion Cabrera. Executive Director. Sicat. Haribon Foundation 8. PhilNET (agrarian reform) 2. (APFTI) 8. Eugene L. KAISAMPALAD Manila/ Non-ICCO partners 1. Mindanao Microfinance Council (MMC) 3. Randy David. Indonesia 5. TRICOM (tri-people in Mindanao) 2. Inc. Jeffrey R. Inc. Philippine Agrarian Reform Foundation for National Development (PARFUND) 4. ATM (alliance against mining) 7. Ed de la Torre. Microfinance Council of the Philippines. Alyansa Tigil Mina. Ed Quitoriano. Kaka Bag-ao.INTERVIEWS Interviews Philippines Manila/ ICCO-partners361 1. Sylvia Paraguya. National Coordinator. Vicente Toring and Ester Reluna. VSO and current regional coordinator for ICCO in Bali. Ruel. founder of the Institute for Popular Democracy. Dennis Murphy. Max de Mesa. Tecson. Urban Poor Associates 6. Narciso Jover. ISIS International (women organization) 5. this was due to a large conference that was held in Davao at the time of our visit. Centro Saka Inc. Anita van de Haar-Conijn. Allan Robert I. Advocacy Division. Butch Olano. National Confederation of Cooperatives. Deputy Executive Director. Advocate of Philippine Fair Trade. It also happened that we interviewed NGO representatives in Davao whose NGO is actually based in Manila. Balaod Mindanao (legal assistance for agrarian reform) 3. (AFRIM) 361 It should be noted that we have spoken with NGO representatives where and whenever they were available. Foundation for the Philippine Environment and the Education for Life Foundation 2. Venus Betita. Ordoñez. National Coordinator.
IDIS (aerial spraying campaign) 3. Atty. Lia Esquillo.Davao/ Non-ICCO partners 1. Ampon and Soc Banzuela. Mindanao People Council (MPC) (peace monitoring and land rights) 161 . Arnado. Pakisama (land rights) 2.
Al Araf and Bhatara Ibnu Reza. Askhalani for Gerak Aceh 5.. Yuwono. Indri. Permata Aceh 9. International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development 5. Sekjen and Khairani Arifin for RPuK. Executive Director of VHR Media and FX Rudy Gunawan. Demos. Resource Management and Development Institute for Social Transformation 2. Afridal Damin. Azriana. Harley and Budi Arianto. Herryadi. Azhari Aiyub. Consortium for Agrarian Reform 3. Tikar Pandan (interview in the Netherlands) Aceh/ non-ICCO partners 1. PBI. Indria Fernida A. Michael Mori.Interviews Indonesia Jakarta/ ICCO-partners 1. Women Volunteer Team for Humanitarian [sic] 4. Program Officer for Civil Society and Democracy for the TIFA Foundation 6. Koalisi NGO Ham 7. Yaysan Rumpun Bambu Indonesia 3. Peace Brigades International 7. Kontras Jakarta/ Non-ICCO-partners 1. Flower Aceh 8. Deputy 1 Coordinator. Association for Community and Ecologically Based Law Reform 4. Desy Setiawaty. Mr. JKMA Aceh 6. ELSAM Aceh/ ICCO-partners 1. Sanusi M. Marut. Asep Yunan Firdaus. Donatus K. Human Rights Research Coordinator of Imparsial. Monica Tanuhandaru. Editor in Chief for VHR Media 3. Secretary General of AMAN. founder of HuMa 5. Raharja Waluya Jati. project coordinator IOM. Executive Coordinator of HuMa. Directur Pelaksana of YRBI. Abdon Nababan. Antonio Pradjasto. Executive Director of Infid. Evi Zain. Executive Director of Praxis. the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (previous ICCO-partner) 6. Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago 2. Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies 7. Reza Idria. Syarif. ICW 2. Do Karim (interview in the Netherlands) 10. active in the LGBT community 4. LBH Aceh 162 . Iwan Nurdin. Deputi Bidang Riset dan Kampanye of KPA. Sandra Moniaga. Nazarudin Thaha. Andi K.
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