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


Therefore we concluded that there is not one trend of shrinking space. 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.1 This research was commissioned by ICCO Alliance. It was. The first report (van der Borgh & Terwindt. throughout the text we will discuss the operational space of NGOs. even within the same country there are marked differences in the space experienced and perceived by NGOs. in each country or region there are rather unique threats and opportunity structures for NGOs. Where there exist important differences in terms of the restrictions of operational space of NGOs or GROs we will make this distinction explicit. 1 As will be explained in the next chapter. 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. We make a distinction between different sorts of restrictive policies and actions of different state and non-state actors.g. otherwise we will use “NGOs” as shorthand for professional nongovernmental organization and the grassroots membership organizations with whom they tend to work together. 4 . the thematic field of NGOs. however. and particular pressures or limitations in existing spaces of dialogue. administrative measures. More particularly. In order to achieve a better understanding of the nature of the problems of partners in different countries. like Counter Terrorism Measures (CTMs) or NGO-laws. (3) The particular nature. their political profile and their (historical) relations with the state. ranging from repression and intimidation. The main finding of the first phase was that there exists a variety of ways in which operational space is restricted. focus of this second phase. Instead. to criminalisation. Moreover. 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. 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. e. Netherlands. it was not clear whether and to what extent this is the result of specific (new) policies. stigmatisation. (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. and characteristics of NGOs. and the geographical areas where they work.Introduction In this report we present the findings of the second phase of our research into shrinking operational space of NGOs. Below we briefly summarize the findings of the first phase of this study and move on with a description of the objectives. Generally. 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. antecedents.

Countries therefore can possibly suffer from the problems described in more than one ideal type. (f) conclusions and recommendations per country. By doing so the research seeks to contribute to the discussion on how to strengthen and protect civil society. each of these chapters will present: (a) the main characteristics of the political context and the political space in each of the countries. and how to deal with the various limitations to the operational and political space of NGOs. or ‘full’ democracies where NGOs can experience obstacles in particular fields. 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. (e) the response strategies to these problems. (b) the characteristics and evolution of civil society and the local NGO sector. Nevertheless. Honduras. For instance. Philippines and Indonesia respectively. (c) the restrictive actions and policies experienced by NGOs.(2) Partial and relatively developed democracies that are not necessarily stable states. 5 . where NGOs struggle for safety and neutrality since state power is either fundamentally contested or virtually absent. and Philippines and Indonesia in South-east Asia. or within cities between marginalized and more affluent neighbourhoods. focussing on two sub-regions: South-East Asia and Central America. in partial democracies there can be marked differences in operational space. (3) War zones and crisis areas. as well as the response strategies of these organisations. 2 See for a more concise version Van der Borgh & Terwindt (2010). as a result of this. Finally we present our overall conclusions and recommendations in chapter 6. but rather describe sets of interrelated problems. 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.2 It is important to emphasise that the three types are not mutually exclusive. Differences and similarities between countries will enable us to discuss the forms and variations of these problems. in partial democracies forms of authoritarianism can reappear and pose restrictions to NGOs. The structure of this report is as follows. in particular in issues related to accountability and the exploitation of resources. As will be explained in the next section. or a specific geographic area in a partial democracy can be qualified as a war zone. In the next chapter we discuss our analytical framework. 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. 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. ICCO showed a keen interest to focus in the second phase on the category of partial democracies. Guatemala. for instance between urban areas and countryside. These ideal types are discussed in more detail in the first report. Also. This is followed by four chapters in which we present the findings of our country studies. (d) the troubles experienced by NGOs. Therefore we selected two case studies in each sub-region: Guatemala and Honduras in Central America.

private actors. These are (1) the entry of an organisation.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. (5) its capacity and right to mobilise resources in order to survive. As we will discuss below.3 NGOs can experience limitations in one or several of these areas. 6 . In our case studies we focus on restrictions and response strategies of NGOs. the strength of the state on the one hand. Thus. but space of NGOs is also made by these organizations and can be claimed or reshaped by NGOs themselves. With the operational space of NGOs we mean the possibilities to function as an organisation and to perform the key tasks of the organisation. In this study we are not just interested in the ‘restrictions by themselves’ of NGOs. (2) its operational activities. (4) its efforts to contact and communicate with others. the operational space of NGOs is not static or ‘given’. but in the restrictions experienced in their respective political contexts. they develop (implicit or explicit) strategies to avoid. and (6) its right of protection of the state. This is not to say that NGOs should be held responsible for the restrictions that they experience. These are: (1) What are the main characteristics of the national civil societies. assumed or filled’. but we want to emphasize that NGOs are no ‘passive’ agents using space or undergoing restrictions in this space. taking into account the political context in which the operational space is formed and/or restricted.1. and the levels of civil and political freedoms on the other (see Figure 1). 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. NGOs have agency. that space is not something that is simply ‘taken up. Restrictions on operational space can take different forms. Figure 1 depicts four ideal typical categories: strong democratic states. We will than further elaborate on each of these questions. (3) its right of speech and advocacy. 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. but rather the product of interactions between NGOs and other actors. this interaction is particularly important in hybrid democracies. Cornwall (2002:2) argues. Three sets of questions guide our field work. civil society actors (and even international actors) that together form a ‘public sphere’. The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) makes a distinction between different areas in which problems can be experienced. operational space of NGOs is not static and is the result of actions of different actors – state actors. or to address restrictions and influence the public sphere at large. We assume that within a political context. 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).

some being strong on military capacity and weak on service delivery. 1999:32-3). Moreover.democratic states. 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. 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. 2008). Thus. social problems. 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. the two axes should be seen as continua and states can be positioned anywhere in the field that is formed. Obviously. extra-judicial. Civil society is the ‘intermediate realm between state and family populated by organizations which are separate from the state. The public sphere can be defined as ‘the nonlegislative. 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 this context there is an effective legal framework as well as state protection for these organisations forming civil society. They thus also play a political role and operate in the public sphere. In more free and strong states there are clearly defined civil and political rights. strong authoritarian states and weak authoritarian states. public space in which societal differences. based on the rule of law and a capacity of the state to defend these rights. public 4 Adapted from Tilly (2007) 7 . 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. states can be weak in different sectors. while others are weak on both (Rice and Patrick.

but has not led to ‘full democracies’. often with utterly unexpected results for the societies that states purport to govern – and for the states themselves. Publisher. 7-8). In these cases. other actors like traditional authorities. Joel Migdal (2001: 12) has argued that in this regard ‘states are no different from any other formal organizations or informal social groupings. Edwards argues that these spaces are crucial to the health of democracies. Thus. fragmented. like China. In a process of democratization the operational space of civil society is changing. civil society itself can be as polarized as society itself. 2002.’5 These non-state actors can also be of importance in ‘grey zones’ of partial democracies where the state is virtually absent. international donors have come to see civil society as very important in processes of democratic consolidation (Howell & Pearce. and groups that do not adhere to these rules. 6 Examples are the lyncings in Guatema.policy. 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. Their laws and regulations must contend with other. it is important to also pay attention to the uncivil and criminal practices of state actors and restrictive actions of non-state actors. the state capacity to make rules. government action and matters of community and cultural identity are developed and debated’ (McCain and Fleming in Edwards. or where it has lost influence. 8 . as well as the adaptations made by organizations 5 See for instance Auyero. and not in all cases ‘civil’. very different types of sanctioned behaviour. Morlino. because it enables the representation and inclusion of different viewpoints in decision-making processes (ibid). that in many societies the realm of civil society itself is also fractionalized. national or religious divide. 2004:55). and organizations or groups in the (not necessarily ‘civil’) society can be responsible for limitations in space of NGOs. 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. It is important to note. 6 Thus. local organizations can also organize their own protection and security. Partial democracies. Routine Politics and Violence in Argentina: The Gray Zone of State Power. governments have a clear willingness and capacity to control the public sphere and to restrict NGOs in their work – using different measures. however. to control the public sphere or to defend NGOs is limited. dialogue and economic and social integration. in particular when the state has a limited ability to make and enforce binding decisions (Belloni 2008. In relatively strong and authoritarian states. Belarus or Iran. and the civil militias in Indonesia. More interestingly. that are the focus of this study. Criminal and paramilitary groups thrive in the context of an ethnic. In the absence of an effective state. Therefore. are countries were democratization has made a start. rather to ‘partial democracies’ or ‘hybrid democracies’ (Carothers. as the consequence of both the efforts of internal changes in the state and the political regime. 2008:2). City. is the existence of a range of groups that do ‘partially’ and in different gradations adhere to ‘civic’ norms. 2006). warlords. The political reality in most developing countries differs from this ideal-typical situation depicted in the right-upper corner of figure 1. like mafias and paramilitary groups. However. year. in weak states (both authoritarian and democratising ones).

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. or the actual existing space of NGOs on the other. civil society to use (new) space. democratization involves the creation of and claims for new spaces of participation by some. That process has both instances of (new) consensus as well as continuing struggle (Morlino. 2009:42). NGOs can. 2008). More recently. also play a more explicitly political role and enter into antagonistic relationships with other actors in society that struggle for power and resources (ibid). defined as the “process by which a society produces collectively binding decisions” (2007:14). their capacity to make claims can be restricted and affect their own operational space. Writing about South East Asia. Pansters 2009). Hicky. find and create new spaces of interaction with governments and other social or economic actors. For NGOs assuming this political role. A distinction should be made between the de jure space of NGOs. 2009: 142). 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). or when they enter into conflict with local corporations about land use or land rights. 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. 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. 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. and the de facto space. discourses and institutions that seek to establish a sense of social order and organization’ (Mouffe in Hickey. or to claim spaces on the basis of human rights legislation (i. This happens for instance when NGOs make claims vis-à-vis the state to implement or improve particular legislation.7 In our project we have looked at operational space as a more basic and broader concept. NGOs have to deal with a number of weaknesses and uncertainties of partial democracies that are still poorly understood (Morlino. In that regard it is important to make a distinction between the political dimension of operational space of NGOs.NGOs operate within these orders and partly constitute them. civil and political rights). in the sense that the activities of NGOs are influenced by national politics defined as ‘the ensemble of practices. In fact. 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. and the political space that NGOs may try to create. The operational space of NGOs always has a political dimension. 2008:2. 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. that is the space that they should have according to the constitutions of young democracies on the one hand. 9 . Citizens need that political space precisely because of the absence of politics. as well as resistance against these changes by others. In these cases they are engaged in policy reform and claim making and in that process creating political space.e.

the power of labelling and framing is of great importance. etc) are no longer taken seriously by one the participating actors (e.8 The social and political practices of individuals. online available at http://www. We make a distinction between five sets of actions and policies. Secondly. or violent street gangs can challenge formal and informal political spaces. 2009:147).g. Restrictive policies and actions In figure 2 we provide a table to organize the variety of policies. 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. which makes the structure. or dialogue. 9 We have made this distinction on the basis of the findings of interviews with ICCO staff in the period June – July 2009. that are all relevant to this study (in 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. while they would themselves claim to support sustainable development.g. Thirdly. Webster & Engberg-Pedersen identified three ways in which the political role of NGOs can be restricted. ownership and loyalties of media enterprises an important factor in these strategies. 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. 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. formal participatory mechanism. A case in point is the resource conflicts where the agendas and motivations of NGOs are portrayed in different ways. This capacity can.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. the institutional channels through which policies and actions of governments or other societal actors can be accessed. which mentions Challenges of Human Rights Defenders. 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. or administrative measures. NGOs that are protesting against a logging concession can be portrayed as backward and opposing ‘progress’. also take a negative turn. or disillusioned social partners) or simply close. controlled or contested. as well as information of human rights organisations. At a national level this can be the result of hard measures such as states of emergency. maintain or challenge formal and informal political spaces. Firstly. For example. The power to influence these frames is partly dependent on media coverage. as is the case with the activities of criminal networks. but it can also mean that newly created ‘spaces’ (dialogues. however.amnesty. can close (Hicky 2009:147). round tables. thus putting obstacles for social mobilization. incoming government officials.See for instance the website of Amnesty International. laws and measures that can have a restricting influence on operational 10 . and those that are created by others. associations and organizations can create. local organizations protesting against a mining company or a logging concession can create a new local political space of conflict. there is always a capacity to create new spaces. Enabling administrative legislation can be juxtaposed to restrictive NGO 8 Cornwall (2002) makes a distinction between spaces that are created by participants themselves. E.

terrorists. ranging from criminal investigation. In this regard the connection between criminalisation and stigmatisation (that we will 11 . and time in prison. The cases discussed in this study indicate that sectors of the government themselves can be involved in these actions. a government can actively give voice to groups and individuals by for example recognizes them in the constitution or by giving them respectable labels. 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. while the line between the two can be blurred. to high bails. 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. When the state is weak (and in particular when the law enforcement sector is weak). (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. on the other hand it can discredit their positions and silence their voices by stigmatizing them as criminals. injuries and killings on the other. Transitional justice and truth commissions are often highly controversial and ‘well-connected’. There obviously is a link between problems of impunity on the one hand and threats. such as the criminalization of sexual intercourse without consent as rape. 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. While the latter is not (necessarily) illegal. this is frequently related to problems of state weakness. We distinguish between two ways in which the concept of criminalization is used: (1) the technical act of criminalization. it oftentimes involves processes of labelling and stereotyping of certain groups that are thus depicted as particular threats. this has consequences on actual protection of NGOs. injuries and killings on the other. while in many cases they cooperate in different ways with non-state actors with particular interests (like corporations. Similarly. These problems are particularly important in cases of democratic openings after long periods of violent conflict.legislation. Secondly. gangs). such as a monetary fine or time in prison. costly lawyers. When a state is unable or unwilling to maintain the rule of law. such as the criminalisation of being a member of the communist party as was the case in the Philippines until 1992. perpetrators run fewer risks to be arrested or prosecuted. in the field of labelling. With regard to the first one. However. 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. More generally. we make a distinction between two forms of repression and intimidation: impunity and lack of protection on the one hand and threats. this can be both the result of a lack of capacity or unwillingness of the state. which means the defining of conduct as criminal and the application of the criminal law apparatus in order to enforce that definition. Firstly. paramilitary. travel restrictions. powerful perpetrators can seek to obstruct these processes. such as the search of an office and the seizure of computers to pre-trial detention. 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. where societies are still deeply divided. or unpatriotic. Criminalization involves a range of coercive measures that can restrict individuals and organizations. The first one applies for instance to any of the provisions in the criminal law.

that is legislation on NGOs and civil society that restricts fundamental rights. and punish specific acts of terrorism. 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. although ‘bad CTMs’ can come in handy for governments that want to criminalise certain movements or to restrict the space of NGOs. (2009) 12 See for instance the comparison made by Hudson of Human Rights First between criminalisation in Colombia and Guatemala. many countries have terrorism statutes that define acts of terrorism in broad terms and thus provide them with leeway to criminalise particular actors.] Third in our model of restrictive actions and policies come the administrative restrictions.10 There are numerous examples of CTMs having affected the room of manoeuvre of social movements and detentions and criminal trials can have a stigmatizing effect. On the other hand. The International Center for Not-forprofit Law (ICNL) in Washington has conducted research into the NGO legislation in 150 countries.stm [accessed 1 June 2010] and Cordaid 2009 11 See for instance Kathrin Buhl y Claudia Korol eds. What’s more. since it always involves interpretations of threats. and the media is often preceding the actual criminalization. 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 Stigmatisation of opponents in speeches. It produced a “checklist for civil society organisations (CSO) Laws” which describes 10 ‘Sri Lankan president pardons convicted Tamil editor’. prevent. In the absence of international consensus about one definition of terrorism. 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.discuss separately below) is of particular importance. at http://news. 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. glorifying or inciting terrorism as well as where merely material destruction can constitute a terrorist offence. this can and is also be done by applying ‘regular’ criminal law.11 However. Our case studies provide evidence of the use of ‘regular’ criminal law provisions against NGOs. 3 May 2010. The most important one in this regard is ‘bad’ NGO legislation. a wide variety of conduct could possibly be placed under these derivative charges. investigate. This is particularly the case with broad provisions for collaborating with. 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. Counter-terrorism measures are laws and practices by governments and supranational institutions intended to prohibit. Although criminalisation never is a ‘neutral’ process.12 [Add: Methodology on problem of attribution. documents. Without clarity about what exactly constitutes terrorism. On 3rd of May 2010 he was given a presidential pardon. This can also legitimise acts of criminalisation. 12 . Anecdotal evidence reports that particularly human rights activists may face these kinds of charges (see for example Cortright 2008 and ICCO/CORDAID 2008).

Thus. We talk about stigmatization in cases where groups are portrayed as untrustworthy. NGOs also were able to raise their concerns about a new NGO Bill. in India the NGO-sector was able to stall new legislation on NGOs that was inspired by CTM policies (Chandra Pandey. They discuss why and how several government rules and practices (such as delayed response to application for NGO status) violate these principles. Stigmatisation and negative labelling is the fourth element of our model. is rejected as a result of the attribute (such as the attributes criminal. 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. 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. Apart from the topic of legislation. Thus. When government agents or other actors use criminal labels to discredit certain activity or certain actors. Again. 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. A stigma is the phenomenon whereby an individual with an attribute. The government however decided to ignore their protests and introduced the law in 2006. or (stronger) as criminals or dangerous subjects. 13 . and thus forming a threat to security or social order of society. But there also have been efforts to introduce restrictive NGO-bills in more open countries. non-believer). restrictive administrative measures are not necessarily the product of ‘bad’ legislation. which is deeply discredited by his or her society. In the case of Uganda. but can also be the product of the willingness and ability to use bureaucratic power to obstruct NGOs in their operations. the response capacity of NGOs sector and civil society organizations is a key factor. in: Cordaid 2008:29). We encountered examples of government agencies and (local departments of) ministries that took relatively much time to approve the new statutes of some NGOs. 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. without giving major substance for these claims. In these cases.13 This was confirmed in our case studies. we can call this “criminal” stigmatization (this can also be the case when no judicial action is undertaken). For instance. terrorist.” Whereas this checklist counts several pages. a key issue is whether local NGOs and civil society organizations can enter into negotiations with their governments to negotiate their operational space. the Open Institute has published in cooperation with ICNL a 120-page book “Guidelines for Laws Affecting Civic Organizations.” 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. and how responsive governments are. Stigmatization is the process in which a stigma comes into existence.“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.

or simply be disappointment participants. Alternatively the dialogue can take the form of collaboration. such as corporations. NGOs report outright bribing as a practice in these spaces of dialogue. we make a distinction between co-optation on the one hand and closure of newly created spaces on the other. As to restrictions on each of these spaces of dialogue. Co-optation is an oftentimes deeply embedded practice that has strong links to clientalism. In extreme cases. where different actors with opposing interests aim to come to a deal. Both are about the limits or reversal of interactions between state agencies and civil society. 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. the labelling of certain groups as untrustworthy or dangerous is not the exclusive domain of government agents. instead of opening up debate with society at large. 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. whereas co-optation aims to forestall opposition by giving rewards. party. As is for instance the case with the demonization of Western NGOs and liberal ideas. It can. round tables. other social actors can play important roles in these activities. seminars. newly created spaces where government agencies and civil society meet (such as social fora. values or ideas that are seen as contrary to the dominant social norms and values. 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. 14 . However. 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. or dangerous. The fifth element of our model is the category of existing spaces under pressure. while in that very process the limitations can be reached of the kind of state . Dialogue can take the form of a negotiation. 14 Threats and co-optation are forms of ‘coercive’ and ‘reward’ power (Lawler 1983:89). Apart from the problem of co-optation. etcetera) can close or disappear.untrustworthy. where for example an NGO is asked to write a draft law for the government. In the absence of good laws and clear governmental protection of rights to counterbalance this asymmetry. This can for example be the case in negotiations between corporations and indigenous communities about land rights. In partial democracies many NGOs and GROs are in the process of adapting to and creation of a new political ‘playing ground’. religious groups or media. where invited spaces created by governments can serve to sell or legitimize existing policies. In this practice persons or several persons are persuaded or lured to join the agency. 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). The latter is not uncommon to (all kinds of) democracies. where threats are based on the prospect of punishment.society interaction that is seen as important to democratic politics. at times alternated with threats and intimidation. In fact. where the space of NGOs to interact with state agencies generally increases. be extremely difficult to see where cooperation ends. We use the term social stigmatization to point at the rejection of particular influences. see chapter 5). A specific characteristic of the negotiations in ‘unfinished’ democracies is that they are often highly asymmetrical. obviously.

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 . when no follow up is given. Such consultation can be perceived or used as ‘legitimising’ practice. but can be experienced as form of ‘fake space’. There is also a ‘come and go’ of social and political spaces in partial democracies. can be highly frustrating to parties involved. This is particularly problematic where the law or donors require “consultation” of target groups.policies or measures. In itself this is not a negative feature. instead of an actual possibility to give voice or to exert influence. a lack of confidence. 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. injuries. However. or as a result of a change of government. closure of space as a result of incompatibility of views. since forms of interaction have to be developed and can be subject to change.

or farmers’ organization) that is generally active at the local level and that have established direct relationships with international development agencies. This is a general and therefore rather vague concept. or providing technical support for farmer organizations. contacts. political links. Function Service delivery Characteristics Professional NGOs Policy oriented Family planning agency. 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. We call these local counterparts non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Professional NGOs are professionally run organizations with a specific expertise that aim to support particular target groups (either directly or indirectly).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. among others in terms of size. instead of what they are not…) is therefore needed. and further clarification of the particular characteristics (what they are. and geographical reach. as well as their capacities to respond. For the purpose of this study we make a distinction between the characteristics and functions of partners of ICCO. 16 . and oftentimes also funded (either partly or entirely) by these agencies.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. a women’s organization. or organizations with a clearly defined constituency (e. 2000: 66. there are many differences between these organizations. forestry users’ group Human rights group.g. The relationship with external agencies that provide knowledge. constituency. Grassroots NGOs are membership organizations. as many authors have argued. environmental group Grassroot NGOs Figure 3 . The partners of ICCO thus have in common that they are supported by external development agencies (or International NGOs). Examples of NGOs are organizations lobbying for judicial or security sector reform. functions. public policy think tank Anti-mining association. international relief agency Water users’ association. Both are of particular importance in order to understand the degree to which organizations experience restrictions. These organizations are largely funded by external donors. These organizations are often conveniently termed ‘non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs). However. Local organizations that do not have 15 Adapted from Harry Blair.

and establish direct relations with funders and in that process obtain characteristics of Grassroots NGOs. this can for instance become an issue in more hybrid democracies where governments introduce strict versions of NGO-legislation. or landless farmers). the variables of expertise. the distinction serves as a first effort to classify counterparts of ICCO. membership and foreign funding can be present in different combinations. policies and actions of governments and state institutions can be experienced differently by NGOs and GROs in the same country. This is not to say that organizations focusing on service delivery do not face problems. which easily leads to struggles for power and resources and antagonistic relationships between groups. Whereas in authoritarian regimes the very existence and ‘right to entry’ of this type of organisation can easily be blocked. particular regions or sectors can be more affected than others. homeless children. but indirectly addresses the problems of GROs as well.g. It is more likely that these groups will experience tensions or confrontations with the actors they challenge. A second distinction that we make for both NGOs is whether they are service oriented or claim making / policy oriented. Our research is therefore mainly concerned with professional NGOs and grassroots NGOs. in these definitions counterparts of ICCO are always NGOs that can maintain contacts with GROs. This is even more so when these NGOs challenge government policies or structures. This distinction is not unproblematic. for instance in anticorruption campaigns. And while professional NGOs are not necessarily membership organizations and oftentimes aim to serve specific target groups in general (e. human rights abuses or security reform. which can have consequences on the experienced space of organizations. 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 . Particular organizations and persons can experience restrictions. Claim-making and policy oriented groups make claims vis-à-vis other actors.these direct relationships are in our definition grassroots organizations (GROs). Also. they can also be membership based (members can be individuals or grassroots organizations) or have a strong ‘local’ profile. Although these trends are generally more present in authoritarian regimes. while the great majority of NGOs and GROs is not affected by them. Thus. Thus. because there are many mix-forms. Organizations that primarily work in the field of socioeconomic services focus on the delivery of services to target groups. Over time GROs can professionalize. Obviously. 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. This also implies that within the category of partial democracies.

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. The last decade international organizations. which includes a wide range of organizations. 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’. but it is increasingly used by others in the field. economic and political). the EU. like the UN. We do not ourselves employ the notion of HRD. in particular used for groups that experience restrictions. however. 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. or in a more coordinated fashion. 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). 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. These groups are today increasingly called human rights defenders. 18 . The term is.

Civil society organisations played an important role in the peace process. many groups can operate relatively freely. 2008:20). insecurity and high indices of violence have an extremely negative impact on the operational space of all NGOs and GROs and hamper their work. CEH. 19 . 1999: 97). Political context On 29 December 1996 the Guatemalan peace process. The security situation of these groups has deteriorated over the past decade. Thus. 16 The report of the CEH registered 626 massacres – the majority in the departments that are populated by indigenous peoples. 2009: 65). such as Quiché. 2006: 18. The process ran parallel to a fragile process of democratisation.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. which had lasted almost six years. with the head of state being – with a single exception – a military officer (Kruijt. that had already started in the 1980s. and groups that enter into conflicts about resources at local level on the other hand. Chimaltenango. which included the introduction of electoral democracy. but is at the same time ‘under pressure’. corruption. 1999:115. The military also extended its powers into the administration of public enterprises.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. In principle.2. The peace accords brought an end one of the longest and bloodiest armed conflicts in Latin America. political parties and social movements. This proved to be an extremely difficult process. 1999:97. Conciliation Resources. Alta y Baja Verapaz. Alliances between civilians and military became the modus operandi. 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. 1997). Gavigan. 1999). that was known for its extremely high death toll and extreme human rights violations that particularly had affected the marginalized indigenous population (Azpura. 2006: 16). Groups touching topics that are related to vested interests can experience severe problems on top of this. The most vulnerable sectors that were discussed in this chapter are groups working with human rights. and even set up its own economic businesses (Pearce. 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. but only partly affected the power of the military (Azpuru. a dynamic that gradually led to a hybrid civilian-military regime of violence and repression’ (ibid. justice and security on the one hand. but impunity. the military institutions acquired ‘disproportionate power in relation to the public sector. 20) . culminated into the signing of an Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace (Azpuru. when the army (with support of the CIA) toppled the democratically elected and reform-oriented government of president Alvaro Arbenz.

A major problem is the continuing influence and control of former military that – increasingly from ‘without’ the state . has gained new momentum now that Guatemala has become the centre of a drugs trans-shipment belt from the Andes to North America (Gavigan. both at national and local levels (ibid). or parallel structures and political-criminal networks (Gavigan. 2009:70). Economic growth rates have been rather low over the past decades (average of 1% per annum). However.The post-settlement transition in Guatemala is extremely problematic. The deep divisions between these powerful economic elites itself is one of the main problems for political reform in Guatemala (ibid. A key challenge in post-settlement Guatemala is the continuing socio-economic inequalities and the question of how to address these (UNDP 2008). 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: 8). 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. 2010: 57. which did lead to a downsizing of the army. 2007). A case in point is the murder in Guatemala of three Salvadoran members of the Central American parliament and their driver in 2007. it states that the judiciary is still plagued by corruption and is extremely ineffective. This heritage of the (growing) economic interests of military during the civil war. some of these actors have gained influence over state agencies. Criminal networks. the political establishment itself is extremely fragmented. Historically. 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. The Freedom House Report of 2009 mentions corruption and impunity as important problems in Guatemala. 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. 2009: 18). Although it argues that some progress has been made in terms of anti-corruption activities. lead to a further weakening of the state apparatus. while the state itself is challenged by criminal interests. Wola. A case in 20 . While the influence. while in three others they had a share of power (Gavigan. both within and outside the realm of the state. This is related to the problematic implementation of the security and political reforms. 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. Less then 3% of the murder cases is resolved (Human Rights Watch. Guatemalan society suffers of high levels of violence. including the head of the organised crime unit. criminal enterprises and security companies (Briscoe. infiltration and pressure of criminal groups on the state and political parties is considerable.control the arms trade. 2009-183). as well as the regular organisation of elections. clandestine groups (Human Rights Watch 2009:184). Minister Eduardo Stein claimed that in six out of 22 departments ‘crime cartels had gained effective control’. 2009:62). and although the percentage of Guatemalans that live in poverty has dropped in this period. According to Briscoe (2009:9) there is ‘an astonishing series of fractures within the elites’ in Guatemala. 2009: 72). In 2007. This opposition continued during the peace negations and in the post-settlement period. 2008b:10). 2009: 5). Organised crime is also said to finance political campaigns and political parties.

among others in the field of security. An important part of this violence is related to criminal activities and drug trafficking. 2008: 21). 2008). 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’. 2009: 67). 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. Although changes of government in Guatemala have taken place after elections in the past decades. The fragmentation is also reflected in the landscape of political parties in Guatemala. This period became the ‘watershed years for the emergence of illicit power structures’ (Gavigan. to the formation of a national Indian peasant organisation. 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. with a marked influence of liberation theology (Biekart. repression and murder’ (Kruijt. the popular organisations of civil society that were heavily repressed during the late 1970s and early 1980s. For instance. 2009: 7-8. It was. Initially. 2004: 131-2). 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. 1999: 254). 2010:3). the government was open to new dialogues with civil society. This led. In this period.200 homicides in 2008 (Freedom House. Civil society and NGOs In the 1960s and 1970s the number of social organisations increased both in urban and rural areas (Garcia. when a change of military authorities took place that dissociated themselves from the outcomes of the earlier dialogues (ibid). most notably after the Portillo government (Pearce. and the counter-insurgency and repressive regime of the late 1970s and early 1980s has been reformed. However. Paris. as well as to violence of youth gangs. Guatemala is still one of the most violent countries in Latin America with over 6. 2006:20). This reversed.point is the opposition against tax reforms that would raise Guatemala’s tax-rate which is one lowest in Latin America (Briscoe. among others. New spaces for participation emerged in the second half of the 1980s. by government forces that established a ‘machinery of control. These coalitions are generally unstable and characterised by infighting. however. the presidential candidates were generally well-known persons around which a number of political factions coalesced (Briscoe. 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. 2009: 5).17 While the political space in Guatemala has increased over the past decades. In the countryside indigenous communities started to organise. the Committee for Peasant Unity (CUC). however. 18 Comision de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala 19 Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala 21 . Pearce (2006: 18-9) describes how during the governance period of the FRG government –led by Portillo – this instability manifested itself.

however. 1999: 169).148). However. According to Siedel (1997:68) this process showed that ‘non-indigenous intermediaries were no longer necessary’. In the period until the signing of the peace agreements. 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. converting them into appendices of the state or into private initiatives dominated by the market’ (2001: 163). 1999:257-8). most of these newly established organisations that played a role in the ASC had relations with external donors. 1997: 68. Biekart. which weakened the strategic capacity of many NGOs. An important one is the disappointment about the results of the new spaces of dialogue with government 20 Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM).that in the post-war years increased their budgets for Guatemala . COPMAGUA played a key role in the Assembly for Civil Society and contributed to the Indigenous Rights Accord. 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. With an estimated number of 2. such as CONAVIGUA. In the second half of the 1980s new indigenous organisations were founded.Mexico) (Garcia. This assembly was boycotted by the business sector. or ‘radical-cultural’ groups (Peace & Howell. but also the ways in which they make use of new political space. as well as the values they promote. CERJ and CONDEG (Biekart. In Guatemala NGOs like GAM. 2010:4). After the peace agreements. 2001: 152). Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala (CONAVIGUA). but stimulated the involvement of women’s organisations and coalitions of Indian organisations. 2001: 148-9). CONAVIGUA and FAMDEGUA were founded (ibid). The authors mention a number of problems. they argue that civil society is fragile in terms of their capacity to influence policy.000 GROs Falisse and SaenzCorella (2009:11) call Guatemalan civil society ‘vibrant and complex’. It shows that the relationship of external donors with NGOs and GROs not only influences the way NGOs and GROs function internally. These international agencies sought to support civil society in different ways. but Howell and Pearce (2001) argue that they shared an agenda of ‘institutional strengthening’ that was informed by a particular vision on civil society. 1999: 256). They emphasised consensual approaches to civil society and ignored the importance of underlying conflicts and power inequalities (p.500 NGOs and some 23. 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.also became interested in funding Guatemalan civil society.20 Apart from these organisations. 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. there was also an increase in the number of independent Mayan organisations. Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos de Guatemala(FAMDEGUA) 21 Council of Mayan Organisations of Guatemala 22 . 1997: 67-8). not to alter the fundamental nature of its organizations. bilateral and multilateral donors . At the same time. Howell and Peace quote a director of a regional NGO that warned in 1995 that ‘financing must aim to strengthen civil society. 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.

Most of these organisations have long-standing relationships with international NGOs and many of them have participated in dialogues with government agencies. and then disappear. This phenomenon is not unique to Guatemala. These organisations are involved in activities like research. But tensions are also reported between urban-based NGOs and local GROs (Falisse & Saenz-Coreralla. 2010:5. which are also reflected in the NGO-sector. Other problems are leadership problems. but it seems that after the successful mobilisation of the indigenous movement in the 1990s. Falisse and Saenz-Corella. 36-7. but an often heard critique about the consequences of some providers of foreign assistances that foster ‘opportunistic NGOs’. Although. the transformation of popular movements into NGOs (‘ngo-ization’). security sector reform and justice are generally seen as rather successful and proactive (Garcia. and a lack of cooperation between NGOs. a key issue for indigenous communities – has ceased. Civicus). 1999:256). however. 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. 2009:12-3. cross-over of NGO staff to government agencies. The above-mentioned sector of NGOs is thus a particular branch of the Guatemalan NGO-sector. this issue of representation of NGOs is important and linked to the historical ethnical divisions in Guatemalan society. Also. while others have become actively involved in processes of formulation and implementation of government policies. During the peace negotiations this was already an issue for some Indian organisations that feared to be dominated by ‘ladino’ organisations (Biekart. dependency of external donors (both in terms of recourses and ideas). and policy debates. not a cohesive group that agree on objectives and strategies. their representation of non-ladino groups is not very strong. With the new ascendancy of companies exploiting resources (like mining companies. absorb funds and resources. 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). The indigenous movements have grown over the past decades. 23 . hydroelectric firms. 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. NGOs that are working in the field of human rights. including the persecution and criminalisation of indigenous leaders (see the case of San Marcos elsewhere in this text). Land issues have become more important and the struggle for indigenous rights is in many places linked to a struggle for territory.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. 2009:11). NGOs working in these fields are. This is not to say that their self organisation and struggles – such as the struggle for land. and while some organisations have a (historical) constituency. lobby.agencies that were created over the past decades (see also the next section). 2009:11). the movement has lost some cohesion and force. It is mostly urban-based. palm oil plantations) this has led in a number of regions to severe polarisation and escalation. and insecurity and threats (Falisse & Saenz-Corella. it is fair to say that not all NGOs necessarily need to be membership-based or to have a clearly defined constituency.

El Quetzal 4.g. with a marked 38% rise in 2009 in comparison to 2008 (Udefegua. mayors) as well as local villagers. these restrictions cannot simply be attributed to the state. Restrictions of groups working in the field of human rights. mining and labor rights. A separate discussion of each field can show the relative importance of each in the case of Guatemala. In 2009. Repression and intimidation In the year 2008. Moreover. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial. the majority of them killed in the age between 16 and 30. 2009a:2). Philip Alston indicated five types of particularly problematic types of killings: social cleansing. There are estimates that between 8 and 10 percent of the killings are the result of social cleansing (of criminals and gang members). 23 Guatemala is number one in cases of femicide. Sectors that were particularly vulnerable in 2009 are trade union members (84 cases).Restrictive policies and actions This section discusses the five types of restrictive policies and actions that were identified in chapter 1. 24 . There is a worrisome trend in Guatemala of increasing violations of members of NGOs and GROs. summary or arbitrary executions. 7). lynching.23 This phenomenon is. The Rapporteur states that there is evidence that the national police (PNC) and de Division of Criminal Investigations (DINC) are involved in these killings.292. which equals an average of 17 killings per day (UN. 8). the number of homicides in Guatemala reached a startling 6.5. and killed by strangulation. 16). criminal and political interests which can include the involvement of local police. Both will be discussed below. the groups working in the ‘urban’ based human rights and justice sector and groups working at the local-level with issues like land. 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. 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.. and that although this has not reached the level of ‘officially-sanctioned policy. 2009b:6). however. Although state actors (such as – former – police or military) are involved in repression and intimidation. attacks on human rights defenders. femicide.*. journalists (43 cases) and persons working in the field of truth finding (96 cases) (ibid. government representatives (e.+ they are ‘more than just the actions of a few rogue officers’ (ibid. 7-10). and violence against prisoners (ibid. p. September 2009. 2010: 7. Restrictions experienced by groups involved in local struggles about the control and use of resources is related to specific local combinations of local business. Over 10 percent of the homicides are women. characterised by endemic impunity for crimes and violations committed against them’ (UN. but it is important to reiterate that in many cases there are links between different kinds of restrictions. 14). different combinations of actors are responsible for the repression and intimidation experienced by organisations working in different sectors. and the justice system fails to adequately investigate and prosecute these cases (ibid. still poorly understood. justice and truth can mainly be attributed to groups with relations to the (former) military. In the following discussion we focus on two sectors that are most affected.

which makes SEDEM one of the most affected organisations countrywide (Udefegua. 16 March 2010. justice. The New York Times. See Murder-Case Finding Shocks Guatemala. 2010: 16). ICCO’s counterpart ICCPG experienced problems in 2006-2007 when they campaigned against the death penalty. in The Wall Street Journal. 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. Medidas Provisionales respeto de Guatemala.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. online available at http://www. This protection is the result of a resolution of the Inter-American Court for human Rights in 2002. which was recently prolonged. that were intimidated during certain periods.28 The repression and intimidation experienced by grassroots organisations in the countryside has different characteristics. and/or periods of polarisation at a national level. January 14. e-mails. like local conflicts about land and palm oil plantations in El Petén.27 Finally. January 13.pdf 27 Authors interview. In a recent analysis of the situation of human rights defenders in Guatemala. 28 Kerk in Actie (member of ICCO Alliance) financed these measures. The UN-backed CICIG mission in Guatemala investigated the case and concluded that Colom was not involved. and Report on Lawyer’s Death Eases a Political Crisis in Guatemala. and ICCPG. CIIDH. Udefegua reported 21 violations of SEDEM over the year 2009.. 25 . Caso Mack Chang y otros. 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. In many cases.or. 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. SEDEM is ICCO’s counterpart that has experienced numerous problems. Fundacion Myrna Mack. For instance.All partners of ICCO working in the field of human rights. 2010. Cedepca chose for an unarmed guard – which is quite unusual in Guatemala. 2010:24-40). Mayra security and truth reported restrictions as a result of intimidation and repression. these practices were linked to the fact that (a member of) an organisation spoke out on a particular issue. and shadowing by armoured cars of offices and houses of staff.24 All have experiences of (periods of) anonymous telephone calls. interception of telephones. 26 See Resolución de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos de 16 de Noviembre 2009. 2010. 25 This lawyer left a videotaped message saying among others: ‘My name is Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano.26 It is interesting to note that the Guatemalan government representatives themselves argued that this prolongation was still necessary. a period of rapidly increasing political tensions in Guatemala after the death of Rosenberg. CIIDH.corteidh. another partner of ICCO reported increasing control and vigilance in May 2009. Udefegua (2010:24) reports an increase in the number of violations of human rights defenders at local level. It is not only human rights NGOs that experience these kinds of restrictions. This was part of wave of intimidation against woman’s organisations in that period. thus clearing his name and easing the political crisis. Fundación Myrna Mack.’ This led to demonstrations both in favor and against left-centre president Colom. and conflicts around mining companies in Izabal (ibid. It also explores a number of cases that are considered paradigmatic. There are also other urban NGOs. Unfortunately if you are seeing this message it’s because I was killed by President Álvaro Colom.

thefreelibrary. in June 2008 and lasted two weeks (El Quetzal #5:2) 26 .ghrc-usa. private security services. 30 See El Quetzal.30 Counterparts of ICCO in Central America are obviously also confronted with these problems. September 2009.1-2) and the detention. Most of the cases discussed have in common that the use of resources (land. To date. a curfew was imposed on the population. Among these victims was or even police and military. oftentimes combinations of nonstate actors – such as criminals. The leader of this movement was attacked in the town hall by three local women. or employ gunmen. Some members of MTC are also involved in the Frente de Resistencia en Defensa de Recursos Naturales y Derechos de los Pueblos (FRENA).com/GUATEMALA:+RISING+DISCONTENT+AGAINST+ENERGY+COMPANY+UNION+FENO SA. focused the headlights on her and shot six bullets into the air.31 The tensions have increased and in December 2009 the government of Guatemala declared the ‘state of exception’. However. Izabal (p. Quiché |(p. 2010: 29-53). In a number of cases repression has led to murders by See among others the following Issues of El Quetzal: Issue 5 on the activism against a cement min in San Juan Sacatepéquez (p. FIAN reports that ‘human rights defenders. Guatemala. MO* Magazine. an emergency measure to restore law and order. pp. to safeguard access to resources and to prevent individuals and organisations to mobilise and make claims. torture and forced exile of villagers attempting to exhume the remains of their fathers who had been murdered in the 1980s. and the area was under control of the armed forces. raw materials. drug traffickers. Bishop of San Marcos’ (Fian et al. David en Goliath in Guatemala. Alvaro Ramazzini.php?id=348&tx_uwnews_pi2%5Bart_id%5D=28289&cHash=6e4d7d8ae7 And Louisa Reynolds. They use violent means.32 Popular protests and the right to bear firearms were temporarily suspended. Staat van beleg beschermt Spaanse elektriciteitsleverancier. online available at http://www. After this attack she was intimidated by the very mayor who stopped his car in the street. Repression and intimidation are used by a variety of actors. 28 april 2010 (MO).1-2) and on the murder of a community leader in El Estor. #4. One of them is the Movimiento de Trabajadores/as Campesinos/as San Marcos (MTC). A case in point is the attack on the leader of a Rural Women’s Network (RMI) in Nebaj. attacked. persons attached to the church and researchers who oppose the Marlin project have been repeatedly threatened.-a0223389766 32 A state of emergency was also declared in the case of the protests against the cement mine in San Juan Zacatepéquez. Members of MTC have been involved in protests against the Marlin Mine and experienced various kinds of restrictions (see next section). members of the communities. onilne available at http://www.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. Rural Women’s Network Leader Attacked and Robbed. water) by large land estates or international corporations cause local tensions. 2010:38). a movement in the department of San Marcos that protests against the deficient distribution and high prices of electricity company Union Fenosa. 1-2. Issue 4 on the attack on a women’s leader in Nebaj. 31 See Bart van Bael. 29 See http://www.3). Latin America Database. 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. harassed and intimidated.Quetzal. or international corporations with some support of local government agencies. Rising Discontent Against Energy Company Union local people also become involved in these conflicts that can turn violent.

however. What is striking. Crisanta. See declaration of FRENA. 2010. ICCO’s partner MTC is also confronted with these kinds of criminal proceedings. When police came to arrest her. economic. 37 See www. This was seen as an attempt to discourage López’s human rights advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community.humanrightsfirst. During that period 43 community members were reportedly arrested for six weeks and released for a fine of $ 14.33 This has. On 13 January 2010 3 leaders were killed when travel from Guatemala City to San Marcos. 2010:8). 36 Authors interview with Juan José 27 . Eventually. a local leader against the Marlin Mine Crisanta was charged and went into hiding. 18 March 2010.34 Criminalisation There are many cases of criminalization in Guatemala. using communication strategies (of information and/or misinformation). but rather to the contrary. Quetzaltenango. 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. in particular of individuals involved in conflicts around resources. online available at http://www. 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.500. Furthermore. For instance. in San Juan Sacatepéque a community leader said it had 32 accusations against him. For instance.. Mining companies become deeply involved in these local level disputes and struggle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of local people.pidhdd. social and cultural rights’ (UN.San Marcos remains under the state of emergency.35 This case shows that conflicts about mining can lead to high levels of local polarization and escalation and create deep fissures in communities. the charges against Lopez were dismissed. in June 2009 residents from the villages near the Marlin Mine burned won Goldcorp’s machinery. environmental. and other professionals. Rising Discontent. local projects and the cooptation of local leaders and residents to gain (sufficient) acceptance. president Colom declared a two-week State of Emergency. These charges also severely restrict the possibilities to operate freely and have forced the accused persons to go into hiding. not led to deescalation of the conflict. After the murder of a local resident that was in favor of the mine. 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. community members prevented this from happening. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala received reports of ‘*. Although data about these cases are not systematized.-. advisor of MTC.37 Another case of criminalization was the charge against Raul Figueroa – an editor of human rights publications 33 34 See Louisa Reynolds. however.36 Apart from these cases there are also cases of criminalization of NGO-staff. pp.+ the arbitrary use of criminal proceedings against defenders upholding collective. including of terrorism. in El Quetzal # 5. Sacatepéquez Accused of Terrorism for Activism Against Cement Mine. 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. 2010:54) 35 See Community Organizers in San Juan.

All in all. 2010:10). we would thus suggest that Guatemalan NGO legislation does not lead to major problems among the NGOs that we included in our survey. Several organisations reported problems with different government bureaucracies that were perceived as purposive obstructions. an NGO based in Guatemala City reported problems to have changes in the board registered. while Ceadel complained that the same ministry failed to control the corporations working in the Chimaltenango area. mentioned administrative problems that were not necessarily related to the NGO-law. As WOLA explained in a press release: ‘Figueroa’s press.’38 After lodging an appeal to this decision. For instance. SEDEM. In the post-settlement years several political reforms have taken place that affect the space of civil society organizations. F & G Editores.wola. as well as a number of books on human rights abuses during the civil war. These include report of the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH). such as the modernization of the political system.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. and the Association for the Study and Promotion of Security in Democracy (SEDEM). is the leading publisher of books that spark political and social debate in Central America. experience different types of administrative measures or forms of bureaucratic 38 WOLA Press Release.for alleged copyright infringement and sentenced to one year in prison. The ones that do experience problems. 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 These include works by the Myrna Mack Foundation. the National Union of Guatemalan Women. online available on http://www. the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala.php?option=com_content&task=viewp&id=976&Itemid=8 39 See blog of Raul Figueroa at http://raulfigueroasarti. in February 2010 Raul Figueroa was cleared of these charges. however. Although these reforms have led to tangible changes for civil society organizations. Ceadel argued that the local branche of the Ministry of Labor was biased in conflicts between workers (supported by Ceadel) and these corporations. the process of decentralization and the creation of new spaces of dialogue between state and civil society.blogspot. CIVICUS described this context as theoretically favorable. This charge had political undertones. The constitution of 1985 that recognizes basic citizen rights is called a breach with an (authoritarian) past. 28 . because of the dual registration (at municipal level and with the Ministry of Finance). favouring the latter. which created problems to withdraw money from the bank account (for which approval of the board is necessary). but severely limited in practice (Falisse and Sanz Corella.who was charged . Moreover. The organizations included in this study. and in the present day. Falisse and Sanz-Corealla mention that the NGO-law that was adopted in 2003 has several flaws.

policies.cjd.html 29 . He related this to the weakness of the state: ‘There is 40 Example taken from Houston Catholic Worker. 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. In general. These practices received an impulse during the peace negotiations. Many representatives of NGOs that were interviewed for this study (working in such diverse fields as human rights. there is also critique on at least a number of these practices. Existing spaces under pressure Over the past decades there has been a growing interaction between representatives of civil society and government agencies. in which at least one peasant was shot to death while protesting the passage of mining equipment through Sololá towards San Marcos. and after the peace agreement the ‘spaces’ of dialogue between government and civil society have multiplied (Calvaruso et al. it was suggested that Berger’s accusation had played a role in this process. For instance. one can argue that an organisation is in fact being stigmatized. 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. which may be a point for discussion. ‘Bishop Ramazzini in Danger: Assassination Plot in Guatemala’ online available at http://www. It is extremely complex to prove these types of relationships between accusations and repressive measures. SEDEM was criticised for exaggerating the number of human rights. in FS37). For the staff of local organisations that is accused. but when this critique is linked to suggesting that the organisation is working closely with Hugo Chavez. 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. among others in the media (for instance in newspaper columns) but also in the public sphere (both national and local level). or bills. 2005. these accusations are often experienced as extremely stressful. Although in general this has contributed to a capacity to dialogue. healthcare. 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. 2007. These discussions and accusations can become part of broader processes of polarisation and escalation. It is difficult to draw the line between stigmatisation and critique.40 When at a later stage an assassination plot against the Bishop was discovered. Stigmatization The problem of stigmatization is mentioned by many interviewees for this study. but related to other forms of restrictions. discuss policy options and to (try to) build consensus. Most cases of stigmatization were not isolated acts.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. 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’.org/paper/ramazzi.

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. It has no means to comply its functions. but the state has also sold most of its assets. The negotiations with the ‘real powers’ never takes place. Helen Mack Chang. we noted a certain degree of fatigue with regard to contacts in general with different government agencies. was asked the head the Presidential Commission for Police Reform. Mayra Alarcon. There is also ample discussion between NGOs about what kind of relationship to build with government agencies.’42 Another frustration about these dialogues that was frequently reported was the lack of continuity as a result of turnover of ministers or staff. 17 March 2010. 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). This was accepted after internal discussions and a number of conditions were formulated. Where more confrontational organisations emphasise the distance to the government. a counterpart of ICCO. Thus. and the other aiming to mobilise a social and political constituency. and a greater propensity to think strategically about opportunities in existing spaces. Pearce (2006: 39) gives a related example of two organisations producing work on the military budget. Guatemala City. Pearce (2006: 37-8) gives examples of diverging ideas of organisations working in the field of security and justice. MTC. Guatemala City. 43 Authors interview. one organisation being more academic and wishing to impact on state policies. 16 March 2010. the director of the Fundación Myrna Mack. the negative experiences with the state from the past and the present. these organisations are criticised by others for ‘still living in the past’ and even of cultivating the image of ‘being persecuted and attacked’. The former positioned itself less politically and was therefore better placed to talk more directly to the military. Here. like the total financial independence of Mack. This may actually be a sign of a more mature use of the spaces available. 19 March 2010. decided not to participate in the national level agrarian platform.’41 Another staff member of an NGO who had participated in numerous dialogues in various sector over the past ten years. there are clearly different views about the nature and form of the political space that is created. which is also a sign of the contradictions within this sector.not only the problem of corruption. According to a facilitator of the movement this was 41 42 Authors interview.43 Another example of an innovative space that was created by NGOs is the Instancia. Thus. But the frustrating thing is that we are reaching consensus about things that cannot be implemented. 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. As a result many representatives of NGOs told they had become more selective about the kinds of initiatives in which they participated. Authors interview. Guatemala City. 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. Fundacion Myrna Mack. The situation at local level is much more complex. reached a similar conclusion: ‘We have learned a lot from these dialogues. 30 .

we discuss the problems of NGOS and GROs that can be attributed to the generalized sphere of impunity and insecurity. Apart from this adverse opportunity structure. the ‘urban’ based human rights and justice sector and groups working at the local-level with issues like land. More technical organisations may be more open to dialogue. A number of obstacles that contribute to impunity are mentioned. such as victim’s organizations. while interest groups that feel betrayed will more likely enter into confrontation. compensated and prevented from occurring’ (2008:37). misuse of the law and non-compliance and the lack of political will to combat impunity (ibid. but nevertheless a missed opportunity: ‘MTC should really grasp these opportunities.’44 The way that organisations deal with government agencies is also linked to their mission and historical relations to the state. 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.understandable. It is interesting to note that many interviewees emphasised that some degree of moderation was necessary in the forums in which they participated. Although both types of problems are related to the same problems of impunity. and a number of NGOs are dealing with both sets of problems. more or less confrontational) also has an impact on the sort of relationship that is establishes. ASECSA. With regard to the crimes committed during the war years. We first discuss the two sectors that we focused on in the previous sections. 31 . Truth finding and justice are extremely sensitive in Guatemala. Impunity Watch concluded that the magnitude of the human rights violations of these years is only partially acknowledged by the state. This implies that civil groups. that plans to do more lobby work in the future. The murder of Bishop Geraldi. groups working in this field run the risk of being harassed. Truth. on the 26 of April. and that criticising the government was still seen as ‘risky’. In this regard the style and image of organisations (more or less willing to cooperate with government agencies. is a dramatic example of 44 Authors interview with Juan José Monterosso. 18 March 2010. 1998. an ICCO partner working in the field of healthcare. the restrictions that are experienced are somewhat different. persecuted or killed (2008: 40). Therefore they emphasized the need to prepare themselves for this. On the job trouble This section discusses the ways restrictive actions and policies were experienced by different organisations. while the state ‘has yet to fully adopt the appropriate measures so that crimes can be judged. noted that this might create more problems for the organization. are confronted with serious limitations in their efforts to know the truth and to claim their rights of justice and reparation. Facilitator of MTC. 37-40). human rights. Quetzaltenango. mining and labor rights. among others the limited availability of resources. Furthermore. two days after the publication of REMHI's report. both at local and at national level.

The Myrna Mack Foundation gave an example of a man who joined a group of families of victims. which also means additional costs for the organisation. in El Quetzal 4. as well as the fulfilment of labor rights are generally more complex. or was in denial. they held them by force. staff was not prepared and either reacted panicking. where members of this movement are struggling against the Marlin mine. and his employer fired him for being absent too frequently. Antigua Guatemala. 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). 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. When the former leaders of the paramilitary Civil Patrol (PAC) that were active during the war years noticed this. These risks also cause psychological problems of staff that have to be dealt with in a professional way. New York. Who Killed the Bishop?. In a recent lecture Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini called San Marcos ‘the mirror of Guatemala’s situation’. The Art of Political Murder. Bishop of San Marcos. Grove 32 . 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. and the absence of any land reform in Guatemala’s past is dearly felt. such as evacuation plans – that include safe transport home for all staff in periods when the organisation runs particular risks. online available at http://berkleycenter. as well as in the highlands. In the previous chapter the case of ICCO partner MTC in San Marcos was already mentioned. forcing the villagers in exile.47 Thus. urban based NGOs that address issues of security. January 30. and Forced Into Exile by their Fathers’ Assassins.45 An example of the problems that truth finding generates at local level is given by the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission. 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. About the murder of Geraldi see Francisco Goldman. 46 See ‘Detained. However. The threats and intimidation have consequences on the well-being of staff. he didn’t mention the reasons for his absence. The director of ICCPG told that in the period that staff of the organisation received threats. pp. San Marcos reflects Guatemala’s extremely skewed land tenure. She remembers this period as a very difficult one for the organisations.46 It can still be very sensitive for people to openly talk about these issues. whipped them and doused them with gasoline. Tortured. justice and impunity still receives threats and intimidations on a regular basis. 4-5. As already mentioned in the previous section. 47 A Discussion with Alvaro Ramazzini.georgetown. 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. local NGOs and GROs that are involved in conflicts around the use of resources such as land and water.this. while the restrictions is of individuals and organisations are less visible. the more troubles these organisations experience with NGOs like Udefegua and SEDEM (an ICCO partner) being targeted most severely. SEDEM has taken several measures to deal with possible threats. 2007. Resource conflicts In comparison to the problems experienced by urban-based NGOs. 2009.

cultivation of coffee. since 48 49 Ibid. She protested against the activities of the Marlin Mine. Over the years. uses all the water. as well as corporations and ‘finqueros’) pursue their own interests in different parts of the department. online available at http://resistenciamineria. 2008: 15).49 At the same time.pdf 51 This summary of CEADELs work is from the website of the Internatinol Labor Rights Forum. Obligations to consult the local population and to take in environmental risks have insufficiently been taken into account For more information on theMarlin Min. online available at http://www. repression and intimidation. MTC is also working with labourers of large land estates in the coastal zones of San Marcos. adolescent labor. For instance. arguing that the mine harms the environment. where different powerful groups (such as narcos and criminal gangs. conflicts against mining companies or hydro electric dams generate intense local level conflicts. and that the explosions of the mine damage their houses. 2009:16-7). power and protection (following Keen. MTC operates in an extremely complex setting.48 There are also problems around extractive industries.In 2006 Goldcorp acquired the Marlin Mine that is exploited by Empresa Montana while the state is weak and the rule of law are almost absent. And interview with Juan José Monterosso. CEADEL was founded in April 1999 in Chimaltenango. In most cases. 50 See about the damage done to houses a study commissioned by the Diocese of San Marcos together with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. with a mandate to improve working and living conditions for marginalized groups such as children. Here local conflicts should not just be seen as just a breakdown in a particular system. alternative systems of profit. and women workers. a local leader from a hamlet in San Marcos that is very close to the Marlin Mine. but rather as the emergence of other. On many occasions workers are not paid the minimum wage of 52 quetzals. while in parts of the region poppy is cultivated. 2006. The organization also works with youth and addresses problems of youth gangs. and women workers in the formal sector – both in non traditional agricultural sectors and in the maquilas. which led to her going into hiding with the help of the Catholic Church. In many cases these conflicts lead to divisions at local level between different (groups in) communities. adolescents. 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. palm oil and bananas in the coastal areas that make use of temporary labor force coming from the highlands. youth. and stigmatisation go hand in hand. The community itself is divided about the mine. CEADEL has similar experiences in the region of Chimaltengo. .org/espanol/files/Informe_Casas_Rajadas.51 Advocating labor rights is extremely sensitive. 33 . The experience of Gregoria Crisanta Perez. San Marcos is heavily affected by drug trafficking. which proves to be extremely problematic.laborrights. is a case in point. The law on mining in Guatemala is flawed and exempts companies from taxes during the first seven years of operation. 50 Cristanta received many threats. See o PeaceBrigades Internatioal. and its activities are heavily opposed by local movements. which has been partly the result of pay offs of the mine. CEADEL has developed a special focus on child labor. criminalisation. In the case of Crisanta it were her direct neighbours that were allegedly paid off by the company that become her greatest enemy (Rodriguez.

and since CEADEL was mentioned in the article this meant a boost for the organisation. interesting to note that although there are also instances of stigmatization and insults to CEADEL. causing severe economic problems to this association. 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. minimum age of workers and security payments.many businesses do not comply with legal norms about wages. however. Nevertheless. Local organisations. It is thus not surprising that CEADEL is confronted with different kinds of reactions caused by corporations and by different government agencies. CEADEL has established relations with international companies that use factories in the region of Chimaltenango. working hours.. 2009). CEADEL director Gabriel reports that the administration of CEADEL is controlled on a very regular basis. the insecurity also puts the cooperation with German volunteers at risk. For instance. CEADEL also reports a deficient government control of the corporations in the region. which is reflected in staggering homicide rates and high levels of crime (UNDP. However. This chronic insecurity creates different kinds of problems and restrictions to NGOs and GROs: (i) criminality causes material and financial losses of organisations. 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. Apart from this there is also the risk for staff to be attacked. Staff of CEADEL reports that it receives anonymous threats over the phone (in the office and at home). (iii) organised crime impedes or actively prohibits NGOs and GROs to do your their organising or capacity building work. Although codirector Oscar de Leon says that insecurity has not necessarily increased over the past ten years. working in socio-economic projects experience particular problems related to crime. An example is OPCION. There are many examples of the first case of material or financial loss. the reporting of some of the national media on labor rights in the region is rather critical. Chimaltenango. It is. 52 Authors interview with Gabriel . a partner of ICCO that provides technical. part of the harvest that was stored of an association of coffee producers was stolen. (i) Material and financial losses. When Georg W Bush visited the area in March 2007. (ii) insecurity and violence lead to social and emotional problems of staff. Not every organisation can afford itself armed guards (that most international organisations have). but at least they will invest in fences. many people have warned staff of CEADEL that their work is dangerous. But apart from material and financial losses. For instance. while telephone lines are intercepted and armoured cars park in front of the office to follow staff leaving the office. Also men and women run risks when collecting money for a rotating credit scheme. This led to much attention for US firms working in the region. the use of child labor in the area was mentioned in the New York Times. which organisations take to protect their premises. Below. each of these will be discussed. 19 March 2010. Today the German counterparts responsible for the recruitment of volunteers fear that the risks are becoming too high.. For instance the security measures. 34 . insecurity and crime also affect a part of the international network of this NGO. organisational and commercial support to local producer groups. Thus.

In the same year that 53 54 See ACJs website http://www. ACJ has worked in Guatemala as of 1964. or to open up local political space.54 One and a half month after the murder two other members of ACJ were harassed by local military. Although the case was never resolved. the increasing violence and insecurity have created problems in the neighbourhoods where the organisation works. (iii) The perverse impact of organised crime. however. We heard several examples of attacks or threats to staff of NGOs that at first were seen as a political attack. It is. not clear whether this was related to the earlier incidents. But more importantly. In 1993 it changed its mission into the formation and training of local leaders. says that the changing national context has deeply influenced the work of ACJ. director ACJ Guatemala. it is confronted with many of the stories of negative experiences of the participants. The growing influence of drug traffickers catches the eye. to stimulate dialogue. the ‘attribution’ of violent incidents and threats is a problem in its own right.ymcaguatemala. a Christian organisation that organises trainings.(ii) Social and emotional problems. there are risks that have to be taken into account. A local Guatemalan NGO is currently investigating this case. CEDEPCA thus identified a need to support its staff to process these stories so as to be able to do its work. while the two other youngster were no direct targets. The director of CEDEPCA. Most NGOs and GROs say that it is not possible to deal with these groups. and there are examples of drug traffickers building up local power positions. There are many stories of organised crime affecting the functioning of local organisations and the interventions of NGOs. This kind of local control is not compatible with initiatives of local GROs or external NGOs that aim to empower local actors. 53 Paul Menchu. when travelling to communities. or that hear others talk about incidents or read about it in the newspapers. 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. buying off local politicians and church leaders so as to establish a form of local control. because of the huge financial interests involved. 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. 35 . In 2008 three volunteers of ACJ were brutally assassinated in the Amatitlán area. The atmosphere of insecurity leads to emotional problems and stress of many common people that are confronted with violence and crime. Apart from the violence that staff of the organisation can experience itself. and social cleansing of youth (suspected gang members and criminals) has been a growing problem over the past years. Young people – the main target group – are less interested in voluntary work. The attacks against youth are not isolated incidents. One director of an NGO said: ‘When it’s about narcos you can’t do anything (hay que callarse)’.org/ In the region of Amatitlán there is a lot of activity of drug trafficking gangs and involvement of local police is suspected. Thus. but then the case was investigated (by staff themselves) and it appeared to be ‘just’ a criminal attack. ‘They are confronted on a daily basis with these stories and in almost every workshop they give.’ the director says. it became clear that one of the victims had had links with a local criminal gang (before) that for unknown reasons had targeted him.

See http://news. online available at http://www. 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.the ACJ members were murdered. Particularly Udefegua played an important role in SEDEM also played an important role in advising other NGOs and GROs in Guatemala and Central America. an art collective based in Guatemala City that uses performing arts to create alternatives for young people in the arrios. Guatemala City. 2002. 17 March 2010. and requests for help to relocate of the family of one of the young men that was killed. eight members of another counterpart of ICCO. Over the past years 55 Caja Ludica. The murders had taken ACJ by surprise. eight members of another counterpart of ICCO. Responses This section focuses on the responses of NGOs and GROs to restrictions in their operational space. stigmatisation of volunteers of the organisation (they were called gang members).55 After this murder ACJ was confronted with different kinds of problems. 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. Guia de Protección para Defensores de Derechos Humanos. These problems deeply affected ACJs work.eltecolote.’56 ACJ was supported by several other organisations in dealing with the consequences of the murder. spying.57 As of this period. as well as the building and strengthening of a democratic security sector and the rule of law in Guatemala. problems with the municipality that wanted to withdraw the license to use a local building. it absorbed lots of time and resources from the organisation and affected the work on the ground. and those measures that aim to address the causes of these restrictions by working for justice. 57 See for more information on the Programa de Seguridad Juvenil http://centroamericajoven. there is a growing attention for measures to protect these groups. For instance.pdf 59 Programa de Democratización y Fortalecimiento del Estado de Derecho 36 . In the face of increasing human rights violations against members of NGOs and GROs. focusing on the restrictions that are the result of repression. and abduction was SEDEM. ACJ also established a relationship with ICCOs PSJ programme. This made clear that NGOs working in tense situations need to have clarity about who are in control locally. but Menchu now realizes that analysis of the local context is fundamental in youth including threats (telephone) of staff. arguing that ACJ volunteers are also human rights defenders. Caja Ludica. One of the first groups in Guatemala that started to work with practical advice about how to deal with restrictions like intimidation. respect for human rights and strengthening the rule of law. journalists and those working in the justice branch advising on many topics.sedem. intimidation and criminalisation. One of the four regional commissions of this programme deals with the issue of protection of human rights defenders. In 2002 it developed a manual for human rights Caja 58 See SEDEM. In this regard a distinction can be made between more practical measures of persons and organisations in need for protection or support. were killed.html?article_id=4425c6869429bc8b63631f235bf798fd 56 Authors interview. an ICCO partner. ACJ started to use the term human rights defenders.

among others. These international contacts are extremely important in ‘defence strategies’. whose director noted that the concept of defence of human rights had become more important after the murder of three of its members. and this led among others to the decision of this organisation to call themselves grassroots human rights defenders (defensores de base). Some of the staff of these organisations receives threats on a very regular basis. In a similar vein psychological help was rejected. Moreover. which was seen as non-Christian and informed by humanism. however. which makes it particularly difficult to make claims to the state. their staff and members. The state is weak and the rule of law almost absent. While it is certainly true that ACJ works in an adverse context. where the right to organise and promote youth leadership is not guaranteed and thus requires a response. This has. the self-labelling as human rights defenders can be problematic and have negative consequences as well. See EU. The case of ACJ in Amatitlán shows that the problems emanating from the murder of three of its members took the organisation by surprise. there is a growing knowledge and capacity among NGOs to deal with different kinds of restrictions. So while there is no need to question the human rights discourse and the role of human rights defenders. Many of the ICCO partners that experienced restrictions mentioned that Udefegua helped them to deal with these problems. Ensuring protection – 37 . The question is . but these persons are relatively visible. All in all. however. 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. led to a growing identification of local organisations. In the case of San Marcos a local leader had to go into hiding. spying on us. but she didn’t stay out in this new place and decided to return after a while. 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. Many of the measures were taken on an ad-hoc basis. The human rights discourse is still perceived by certain sectors in society as a ‘politicised’ or ‘left-wing’ discourse. A case in point is ACJ. that urban-based human rights organisations and persons are better positioned to protect themselves. whether local organisations should themselves actively use this label. both at a national and international level. or both’. For instance. Also the many cases of intimidation and criminalisation in these places are extremely difficult to deal with. The need to intensify the work in favour of human rights defenders at grassroots level is increasingly recognized. and there are many cases where human rights are violated and definitely need to be defended. 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). a discussion on how and when to use these terms may necessary. among others by Udefegua. the protection would not have materialised without international pressure. 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. However. Persons and organisations working at a local level deal in more pragmatic and ad-hoc ways with the tensions they experience. Most interviewees mentioned.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. with the label of ‘human rights defenders’. Although staff of the organisation puts these provisional measures into perspective saying ‘we don’t know if they are protecting us.Udefegua started to play a very important role in this field.

2010: 54).un. As mentioned in previous paragraphs this can in itself be risky. The text of the document is online available at http://www. 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. 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. it may be better to emphasise this constructive role.europa. 62 The Commission for the Investigation of Illegal Bodies and Clandestine Security Apparatuses. the international community and the state of Guatemala reached agreement about the formation of CICIG. 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). The agreement envisioned a national/international commission (two members appointed by the UN and prosecuting and ultimately identifying domestic illegal security apparatuses and clandestine security organisations’ (Hudson & Taylor. Apart from the (reactive) responses of individual organisations.pdf 38 . and one by the government of Guatemala). However. The Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman and the administration signed an agreement to form CICIACS 62. Many of these proactive responses aim to contribute to a reform of the Guatemalan state. The first one is the process leading to the formation of the Commission Internacional Contra la Impunidad (CICIG).61 This process already started in the beginning of this decade. when the human rights situation deteriorated further and after the murder of the Salvadoran members of the Central American parliament. The dialogues and meetings of GROs and NGOs with government officials. CICIG is a hybrid institution.the label of human rights defender have consequences on the ways that GROs and NGOs perceive themselves and are perceived by others. Two of these merit particular attention. 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. strengthen and assist Guatemalan institutions in identifying. and eventually the Constitutional Court of Guatemala declared that the commission violated the Guatemalan Constitution. organisations and leadership. operating within the domestic legal system of Guatemala. Human rights organisations. because of their innovative character. Online available at http://www. This was a blow to the human rights groups in Guatemala. 61 The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala.consilium. and is tasked ‘to support. as well as increasing capacity to lobby of NGOs and GROs can both be seen as proactive strategies. four years ago. when violence in Guatemala increased. there is also a lot of experience with more proactive responses that aim to change the sources of the restrictive policies and actions. at a later stage. parts of the establishment opposed its formation. In the face of increasing violence and human rights violations. 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. Especially for these NGOs and GROs that aim to strengthen local capacities. since strengthening democracy and the rule of law almost by definition implies addressing those forces that mine the state ‘from within and without’.

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. Although all sorts of restrictive policies and actions are present in the case of Guatemala while they are oftentimes linked. According to the NGO participants. as well as the increase in practices of social cleansing. but is at the same time ‘under pressure’. the Instancia started with three participants of the NGO-sector and a representation from different departments. international actors. Several workshops were held outside of Guatemala. With the growing popularity of the Instancia foreign donors have also become interested in supporting the initiative. but impunity. But when it comes to more sensitive topics like conflicts around mining projects. However. It is fair to say that international funding and pressure have been important for the spaces for these groups. It proved difficult to reach consensus between different human rights organisations. which was the result of different ideas about whether and how to deal with the government. the Instancia has proved to be useful. Many hurdles had to be taken before the Instancia was created. which has led to some turf wars between government agencies participating in the initiative. The second example is the establishment of the ‘Instancia’ in 2007.contribute to the dismantlement of the most aggressive perpetrators of human rights violations in the post-settlement period. and there is a need to constantly build and rebuild trust. The responsible minister at the time initially didn’t want to participate and it took some coaxing to convince her. There are some cases of administrative policies that caused problems to NGOs. The foregoing examples show that advances have been made by civil society with regard to security agenda. In principle. it has suffered of several problems. justice and security on the one hand. insecurity and high indices of violence have an extremely negative impact on the operational space of all NGOs and GROs and hamper their work. are generally rather hesitant to become involved. Groups touching topics that are related to vested interests can experience severe problems on top of this. International actors are generally willing to support groups working against impunity and in favour of human rights. many groups can operate relatively freely. corruption. the main problems are repression. The security situation of these groups has deteriorated over the past decade. NGOs came together and here the idea of a space to discuss particular cases of human rights violations with government officials was born. a ‘space’ where representatives from civil society and several government agencies meet in order to discuss cases of human rights violations. and there are many examples of stigmatization. and groups that enter into conflicts about resources at local level on the other hand. However. Eventually. The idea to form the Instancia was the result of the increasing threats of staff of NGOs. intimidation and criminalisation. such as the frequent turn-over of ministers. The most vulnerable sectors that were discussed in this chapter are groups working with human rights. such as bilateral donors and national embassies. but the core of the problem is the weakness of the state and of the rule of law. There have also been doubts about the reliability of some of the participants. This gives space to a multitude of criminal actors (state and 39 . there are also restrictions with regard to what international actors can and want to do. in the Netherlands and Guatemala.

What is their capacity to both protest and dialogue. and are extremely difficult to Guatemala City Bus Drivers Targeted. working from Guatemala City. presumably by gangs that were involved in extortion. most notably Udefegua and SEDEM. For these organisations. 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. All Guatemalans are affected by the situation of insecurity and impunity. and a further systematisation of these local problems. 6 December 2009. There is no doubt that human rights are violated and they definitely need to be defended. independently from the question whether they experience restrictions or not. the positions of protestors can easily harden in the face of limited possibilities to claim rights. In this regard a discussion is needed about the ways NGOs might be able to contribute to different reforms. Protests against actors responsible for these restrictions can be extremely dangerous. We argued in this chapter that there is a need to critically assess the use of the term human rights defenders. The question is. BBC. 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. restrictions and conflict dynamics is needed. The systematisation should not only focus on the restrictions and violations of human rights. Online available at http://news. At local level different constellations of interest groups have build power structures that seriously reduce the space of local NGOs and GROs. and meanwhile allowing drug-traffickers to continue their work. forcing police to devote resources into dealing with the murders. These pressures on the operational space of these organisations vary from case to case. This increasingly leads to polarisation and escalation of conflicts about resources that permeate local communities.stm 40 . 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.non-state) that are also gaining effective control over parts of the state apparatus and parts of the national territory. In particular. 63 See David Lee. Pay up or Die. and it is fair to say that the lobbying and networking of human rights organisations at national and international level contributed to its formation. the actual protection is of utmost importance. but the active use of this label might create additional problems and therefore rather choose to keep a lower profile. there is a need to systematise the evidence on the growing problem of criminalisation. 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. although others suspected a strategy of 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. The formation of CICIG is an important example. At local level. The ways in which these groups are restricted differs from place to place. measures are needed that NGOs and GROs cannot create themselves. Of all counterparts of In order to diminish the violence. however. but that they can lobby for. 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).

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. the coup d’état of 28 June 2009 led to a change in the operational space of a number of NGOs. 1999). 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. Political context While in the early 1980s wars raged in the countries surrounding Honduras. 2009a).3. the military held a firm grip on power during the 1980s. according to critics. It was unclear to what extend the Honduran political class really believed in the new ‘rules of the game’. This bipartite system is.. Honduras was used as an important base for US military involvement in the isthmus.5 on the 2009 Corruption Perception Index (that ranges from a low of 0 to a high of 10). 2004: 138). by the end of the 1990s. the Partido Liberal (PL) and Partido Nacional (PN). Politicians of PL and PN. The Honduran political party system is dominated by two major centre-right political parties. Honduras – Operational space in times of political turbulence Introduction While Honduras has had a relative tolerance vis-à-vis the work of NGOs. as well as their ‘appointees’ are widely accused of corruption. using ‘extreme violence *which+. The Honduran military was according to Mark Ruhl (1999) ‘a late arrival on the political scene’. Demilitarisation of the Honduran political system received new impetus in the 1990s. Although the constitution of 1982 is generally seen as the start of Honduras’ process of democratisation. However. Thus. consolidation of democracy still seemed far away. but attained political hegemony in the 1960s and for a long period had high levels of influence on elected officials (Ruhl. which had severe consequences on the operational space of NGOs. the case of Honduras shows that organizations confronted with these changes were not really prepared and developed a diversity of response strategies. Also.and may be more importantly – increasing polarization in Honduran civil society. Sectors of the Honduran military were involved in dirty wars against suspected subversives. Honduras scores 2. while many senior military were still unreconciled with their loss of power (Ruhl. The Honduran military received massive US-assistance during the 1980s in return for allowing the Contras to be based in Honduras. Honduras had almost completed its transition to ‘procedural’ democracy. as well as .7 million in 1993). 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. 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. which affected the relations between NGOs themselves.constituted a sharp break with Honduras’ less polarized political traditions’ (Ruhl. while the US-financed Contras were able to operate from Honduran territory. 1999). Thus. which is one of the lowest scores 41 . 1999).

and Philippines.8. 17 August 2007.transparency. At a later stage. see UN Human Development Index 2007-2008. with heavy support from the military. Micheletti c. See for instance IPS. 67 While there was in itself political support for the possibility of a second presidential term. 2010: 2). or Nigeria and Zimbabwe . 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. state institutions and even political parties. online available athttp://ipsnews. it would ask Hondurans whether the country would organize a new national constituent assembly to approve a new constitution (Meyer. illegal and dangerous behaviour.asp?idnews=38937 65 Honduras has a Gine coefficient of 53. reports from international organizations like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demonstrated the illegality of the coup: (IACHR. argued that this was not a coup. Eventually he was ousted from office by the president of Congress. Zelaya’s administration had been rather weak during the first two years.of Latin America and is similar to the scores of Indonesia. In case this ‘fourth66 ballot box’ would take place. Zelaya increased 64 See Transparancy International http://www. 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). 66 Fourth baloot because it would be combined with three other ‘ballots’ for presidential. The Zelaya government (PL) took office in January 2006 and was ousted from office by a coup d’état on 28 June 2009. a member of the PL. congressional and municipal elections. 2010: 3).org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009. On various occasions corruption has also endangered aid disbursements. The conflict about the referendum was the culmination of a more fundamental change in president Zelaya’s policies and political alliances. with an extremely skewed distribution of income.67 This led to extremely high levels of polarisation in Honduran society. 2009:7). However. Corruption Honduras: International Aid Hanging by a Thread. President Zelaya refused to accept court rulings that prohibiting the organisation of the referendum (Meyer. 42 . Roberto Micheletti. using all possible resources. 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.65Over 59% of Hondurans remain below the poverty line and 36. blaming Zelaya of irresponsible. 2010:7). it was the leftist political program of president Zelaya that raised objections.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. Although one of the slogans of president Zelaya from the beginning of his term was ‘popular power’. This rather blunt description of the Honduran political system also reflects the disenchantment and frustration about years of economic growth without substantive poverty reduction. He continues: ‘They acted exactly like they owned the state. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. and lacked popular and political support. This referendum was highly contested. internationally the coup was almost immediately rejected ( this promise started to materialize in a very concrete way in the course of 2008 president.2% below the extreme poverty line. 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. but a constitutional succession.

the government moved towards Hugo Chavez’ political and economic alliances and joined PetroCaribe and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (Alba). Also the director of the CNTC. 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. 9 August 2009. but withdrew later. while a new broad based movement coalesced in the National Front against the Coup d’État (FNRGE. providing guidance. 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.71 After the coup. online available at www. this campaign continued. leaders from left-wing political parties. 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. 2010: art 41). such as peasants or women movements. Furthermore. 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. 71 Add source: Book title 43 . This front was renamed after the elections of 29 November 2009 into Popular Front of National Resistance (FNRP). and a number of grass-root organizations. who were invited to come over to the presidential palace. the term ‘Resistance’ also refers to the very large numbers of protestors that took the streets in the period during the coup. President’s Ouster Highlights a Divide in Honduras. and the media became almost entirely 69 The political parties UD and PINU aligned with the FRNGE. Also. At the same time he approached sectors from Honduras civil society. There was also a harsh assault 68 See Ginger Thompson. a peasant union. Cofemun members remember president Zelaya’s administration as the one with ‘mayor apertura’.69 A number of more critical NGOs that have links with popular movements play important roles in the FRNP. among other things. Thus. The coup led to a split of the UD.nyt. Zelaya successfully sought contact with leaders of popular and social movements. imposed a veto on a bill prohibiting the use of the morning after pill. 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. and whose massive mobilization and continuing protests surprised both the coup makers as well as the existing opposition movements in Honduras. In the ‘run-up’ to the coup and especially during the coup Honduran civil society polarised to the bone. 70 Information provided by Carlos Del Cid. and their reporting was therefore usually partial’ (UN. had direct access to the presidential palace and worked with president Zelaya on a housing project of 5200 houses. and other groups rejecting the coup. also FRNG). Protagonist sectors are syndicates of workers and teachers. National media that are owned by conservative elites had already launched a vehement antiZelaya campaign. Part of the membership (or ‘bases’) of the PN and PL also sympathise and participate on the FRNP. with some groups explicitly supporting the golpistas.68 A group called the ‘camisas blancas’ actively supported the coup. The FRNP is a broad movement with representatives of different sectors from Honduran society. as well as resources to the movement. New York Times. authorized since 1992 (and a highly controversial measure in Honduras). Members of Cofemun – a women organization – felt sympathy for president Zelaya who had.70 However.the ‘buying power’ of the poor by raising the minimum wage substantially – without the consent of employers. The national media and most of the churches endorsed the new ‘de facto’ government.

more critical. 72 For instance. most of them – in particular the Catholic church and the new evangelical churches – were accused of endorsing or supporting the coup. These elections were rejected and boycotted by the FNRP. For instance. but the rescue of our country and our democracy". the Cardinal of the Catholic Church Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga defended the coup. Zelaya was successful in linking up with parts of civil society (mainly popular movements). 76 This was among others done by FOSDEH. Even more important was the position of many of the churches in Honduras. while some of the church leaders were even accused of being involved in the organisation of the very coup. 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.77 However."73 Before and after the coup. whereas he entered into conflict with others sectors (among these also a number of NGOs). without having a coherent plan. nor a clear strategy. Honduran Church Leaders Sympathetic to “Coup”. and eventually the elections of 29 November 2009 took place as scheduled and brought Pepe Lobo (PN) to 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. looking for the support of popular sectors.76 All in all. Several media premises were occupied and private companies and the State withdrew their advertising from those media supporting the FRNG’ (UN 2010: 42 /44). 2008). many 72 Mark Tooley. One of them said about the coup: “We feel that what has happened is a reply to the fervent prayers of so many Christians. A successful negotiation between Micheletti and Zelaya never took place. 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. ‘He shared his project with civil society. among others about the data on poverty alleviation that were manipulated according to this NGO. 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. 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. 44 . The most frequent critique on president Zelaya was that he was a populist. 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. 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.on media that were critical of the coup. Also the FRNP does not recognize the government of Pepe Lobo. NGO representative accused president Zelaya of manipulating popular sectors.74 However. For many of us. said one NGO representative. but this is not the project of civil society’. large numbers of members of new evangelical churches demonstrated in Tegucigalpa for the Honduran constitution and against Zelaya. Another. it's not a coup. The American Speactator 7-10-2009.

to about 12000 at this moment (Del Cid 2010a).0/?p=106835 80 Communication with Carlos del Cid. 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). Tegucigalpa. the former head of the Honduran armed forces. This is a general typology indeed. foreign assistance has played an important role in Honduras.latribuna. Roughly a division can be made between more critical NGOs that are funded by a number of European NGOs and (Nordic) donors. chronic insecurity. the sector partly reflects the stances of social forces in Honduran society and in the donor community. a silent re-militarization of the state is going on. online available at http://www.worldbank. The Lobo-administration aims to build a national government and to work towards reconciliation. NSIONS=100 45 . The assistance provided after Hurricane Mitch had similar intentions. growing influence of narcos in the economy and the political sphere. The country participated in the HIPC initiative and PRSPS processes that led to the (conditional) cancellation of debt. 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 second consultative group meeting for the Reconstruction and Transformation of Central 78 79 Authors interview. which is still highly divided. Furthermore. INGOs belonging to the more critical group are among others the Aprodev partners. has been named as the new director of the Honduran telecommunications firm HONDUTEL. 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. 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.79 Furthermore. 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). with one of the most worrisome trends the re-emergence of death squads activities particularly targeting the FNRP. hurricane Mitch (1998) caused tremendous destruction in Honduras. Oxfam Family and the national coalition of international aid agencies ACI. leading to a new wave of (emergency) assistance to the Although the NGO sector is very diverse. La Tribuna 9 March 2010. 81 See for data on foreign assistanece WorlBank: http://ddpext. This proves extremely complex in Honduras. For instance. as well as the ongoing corruption make the ‘post-coup’ situation in Honduras extremely volatile. 25 March 2010.countries recognized the new government and restored the diplomatic relations with Honduras.80 Over the past decades.81 International donors have emphasized the need for political reforms and for participation of civil society in the definition of public policies. both in financial and in political terms. Victor Meza. that does little justice to all different shades. and a group of NGOs and donors taking a more technical stance while being less pronounced in political terms. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez. who ordered the arrest and expulsion of former president Manuel Zelaya.

Overall. and the gravitation of previously uncommitted or moderate actors towards one of the extremes’. the increased ambition and capacity of sectors of civil society. where it proved extremely difficult (though not entirely impossible) to take a position that does not either adhere to the ‘golpistas’ or the ‘resistencia’. Some of the ‘bottom-up’ initiatives have led robust networks. A number of these organizations played an active role in the activities of the Resistance Front. In such a situation it becomes extremely difficult to take a ‘middle-position’. 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). 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. throughout the country a network of local groups working in the field of risk management have organized local groups over the past decade. The coup of June 2009 is seen by many representatives of GROs and NGOs as proof of this. most organizations reconsidered their relationship with the state. grassroots organizations and even MPs with their own ‘mesa’ (table). national and Central America level. faced great difficulties to do their work (see sections below). since within organizations or network organizations the legality of the removal of president Zelaya was a point of heavy debate.htm 46 . or the mining activities) are touched. One of the criticisms is that ‘dialogues’ between civil society and government form part of a strategy of ‘tolerance’ vis-à-vis NGOs. 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). These initiatives take place both at national level and at local level. These changes have led to tangible results. In a similar vein. but there is nevertheless discussion about the wider impact. and the importance of participation of civil society in the strengthening of democracy’. and led to a diversity of formal and informal spaces of dialogue and cooperation between state and non-state actors. such as the ICCO supported Espacio Regionial de Occidente in the West of Honduras which brings together government agencies. See http://www. which led to a postponement of contacts with the government or participation in networks.82 As a result of these and other this participation reaches its limits when key interests (such as access to land. This led to an extremely high degree of polarization. which implies according to Mitchell (1981) ‘the widening of political and social space between groups. the interactions between civil society and the state have multiplied. Others took a lower profile and in a number of cases did not speak out against the coup. by providing practical help or shelter for demonstrators. which emphasized the need for ‘an integrated approach of transparency and good governance. those NGOs and GROs that publicly declared themselves against the coup and in particular those that aligned with the Resistance Front.America led to the Stockholm Declaration. However. the result of the fear of powerful Honduran elites that their interests were threatened. The situation after the coup in Honduras can be seen as a ‘text-book case of polarisation’. 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. that also organize at regional. However.

Even in the period after the coup. while at a later stage it took a lot of energy to respect each others point of view. are not blindly following Zelaya. said that the organization was seen by some as ‘golpista’ and by others as ‘resistencia’. One NGO-representative. Some explained that ‘Mel opened our eyes’ or ‘showed us the way’. In network organizations this proved even more problematic. while at the same not being identified with the pro-Zelaya sectors of the Resistance Front. Meanwhile. repression and other restrictive measures. however. 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’. this coincided with warm support for ‘Mel’ Zelaya. 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. It was particularly difficult to pronounce against the coup. it all became very emotional’. Another person argued that polarization is not real. However.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=41&Itemid=51 47 . For a number of those representatives that chose to clearly pronounce against the coup and join the resistance movement. but those organizations that were (suspected of) aligning with or supporting the Resistance Front were target of intimidation. while combining this with frustration about the limited results of decades of supposed poverty alleviation arguing that it is time for ‘structural changes’. but also a situation with emotions flaring up. This is exactly what happened between organizations and even within organizations (both NGOs and GROs) in Honduras. The coup. The coup and the ensuing violence used by the de facto government not only created a divided civil society. within organizations and network organizations the June 2009 events had caused enormous debates about the legitimacy of the coup (or succession). Another. This also led to the use of a vocabulary by some NGOs that had not been used over the past decades. the NGO sector historically experienced a high degree of ‘tolerance’. also 83 http://cococh. whose organization had pronounced itself against the coup. this immediately led to objections of some of the present organizations that wanted to be neutral in this regard. but that did not participate in the activities of the Resistance Front. a large share of the representatives of NGO’s that supported or sympathize with the Resistance Front. but you can’t escape from it. it is created and imagined. When the Foprideh network of Honduran NGOs met in March 2009 and the chairman of the meeting referred to the ‘coup’. Representatives of NGOs and CSOs that chose to align or to work with the Resistance Front. such as class struggle again’. 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. 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). NGOmember laughed that their resistance to the coup had led to the fact that their NGO was seen as ‘pro-Zelaya’. 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). Some people describe a feeling of powerlessness: ‘There was no reason anymore. most NGOs were not fundamentally restricted in their 83 Thus.made a choice as cowardly or an (implicit) choice for the adversary.

Although in some cases.had severe consequences on the nature of the social and political space that NGOs and GROs granted each other.84 Physical harassment and intimidation Before the coup a number of groups and sectors were particularly vulnerable and experienced different kinds of threats. El Salvador El Faro. This is clearly the case after the coup. but – just like the case of Guatemala – thereseems to be a pattern of (local) combinations of non-state and state actors that are involved. most representatives of NGOs and GROs reported a ‘relative tolerance’ (tolerancia relativa) to do their work. during is after the coup. but there are limitations for groups that (start to) touch more fundamental interests or taboos in society. and as far as we can see. 85 See for a description of how local and national actors influence local conflict dynamics Kalyvas (2003). and land rights. and where the space for more moderate positions diminishes. In many of these cases the responsibility for threats. motivations and disputes (also other than these related to resources) can become important factors in local conflict dynamics. 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). and companies can use or strengthen these differences. Quantitative data about numbers of incidents and trends are scarce. The typical pattern for ‘partial democracies’ is thus also present in Honduras: there’s lots of space for NGOs and GROs.85 There are other sectors that have been particularly vulnerable over the past years. making a distinction between the situation ‘before. there are many less well known cases. intimidation and harassment is not entirely clear. and local interests. *What’s more. See for examples of how this has influenced local anti-mining struggles in Cabañas. However. with emotions flaring up. the dynamics are primarily local. These are mostly local groups or movements. there may also be high level state agencies involved. 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. Below we assess the importance of each of the five types of policy and action. during and after’ the coup. A number of these cases received or currently receive national and international attention. Restrictive policies and actions As mentioned before. civil society groups themselves became part of these dynamics. gay. and it proved extremely difficult to bridge these divisions. (b) youth living in 84 Before is until 28 June 2009. Polarization generally leads to an atmosphere where positions become more radical. Local residents and organizations become parties to these conflicts. and of combinations of both (particularly in the cases of repression and stigmatization). there is no systematic documentation in Honduras of these kinds of local resource-related conflicts and human rights violations. such as (a) the lesbian. and harassments. Although the coup was clearly the onset of this development. but are the result of both state and non-state actors.] 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. the case of Honduras shows that particular interests and taboos can become more sensitive in particular periods of time. 48 . bisexual and transgender community (LGBT). until the inauguration of the new Lobo administration in January 2010 and after the coup is the period as of the Lobo administration.

art 62). This was especially so for organizations and persons that participated actively in the Resistance Front. Ciprodeh has reported over 170 cases of violence against the LGBT community since 2004. such as the Attorney General’s Office. the implementation of curfews (periodically). when Cofadeh declared itself against the coup and joined the Resistance Front. who was also a member of the Resistance Front. the problems increased during and after the coup. the closure of radio and television stations or intimidation of its staff. 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.TheLNMag. and (c) human rights organisations. online at http://globalgayz. This. Clearly. 2010: 6). art 67). but its space widened considerably in the past two decades. in Lesbian News Magazine. Tegucigalpa. when displaced president Zelaya took refuge in the Brazilian embassy. changed after the coup. 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. however. as Bertha Oliva of Cofadeh notes ‘they have always viewed us with suspicion’. In a number of cases government staff that (openly) opposed the coup reportedly lost their jobs. For many organizations that experienced restrictions prior to the coup. judges and the Supreme Court of Justice (UN 2010. the Honduran human rights movement was very vulnerable in the 1980s. among them Walter Trochez. In the period after June 2009 until the moment of writing. For instance. with regard to youth. online available at www. but the troubles with the government were mostly of a different (administrative) nature. 2010:6).marginalized neighborhoods. such as 12 women and 7 men at the National Women’s Institute (UN.87 Secondly.’88 Interpeace (2009) has reported a steep rise in the number of extrajudicial killings of youth after the coup. Firstly. Preliminary data. as well as the detention or persecution of political and social leaders (Meyer. 49 . in the period during (and partly also after) the coup. leader of the Rainbow Association Transvestite Group. These measures were generally defended by most of the institutions of the Honduran state. 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. 89 Interview with Tomas Andino. Interpeace (2009). June 2007.86 There are reports of police officials that are involved in LGBT-violence. Furthermore. whilst some of these crimes have taken place within the context of gang or mara warfare. In the period after the coup nine persons from the LGBT community were killed. the de facto regime launched a series of ‘restricting repressive measures’ that placed Honduran society under strict control. especially those that are seen as gang members or criminals. 22 March 2010. However. Interpeace. and Cofadeh joined the Resistance Front and 86 See Gays Honduras: News and Reports. These measures included the patrolling of security forces (army and police). 2009:9). Bertha Oliva has received numerous threats. on September 21st 2010. Also the other human rights organizations in Honduras reported threats.89 88 See Amnesty International (2003). and intimidations of different types. organizations like 87 See for instance the case of Josef Fabio Estrella. As to the perpetrators of this violence. 2010. These restrictive measures were especially used to counter the protests against the coup. Casa Alianza (2006). a 45-day state of siege was announced (Meyer. 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.

org/2010/03honduras-deadlin-violence-against-newsmedia. included elements of criminalisation (see also next section). More important and frequent. 2009). Reports of human rights organizations in Honduras show that by the end of 2009 – in the run-up to the elections . impeding freedom of expression.php 92 nd For instance. Organizations that were relatively free to operate before the coup. during the coup. were the charges of the crime of sedition. but rather not able to stop it (which is even more worrisome). where particularly ‘mid-level’ leaders that have links with the Resistence Front are targeted. executive Decree PCM-16-2009 (emitted on September 22 2009) imposed the state of siege Legislativeas y Municipales en Honduras. During the coup at least 100 persons were charged on sedition. and authorizing the suspension of any radio or television stations that offended government officials or expressed opposition to government resolutions (Cofadeh. director CNTC. although the discussions prior to the coup about new NGO-laws. art 38). arbitrary kllings in the period from 28 June 2009 till the end of March 2010. while they were also based on existing legislation. the bulk of the repression during and after the coup is directed at persons that have links with the Resistance Front. members of social movements were increasingly confronted with criminal charges. suspending freedom of movement. Agustin Ramos. Criminalisation We heard of no cases of criminalisation of NGOs in the sense that they were legally prosecuted. published by a coalition of Central American Human Rights NGOs. at http://cpj.92 For instance. Among these protestors were 10 members of the CNTC. 2010.93 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. however. Cofemun reported threats via e-mail and phone. 93 Authors interview. but chose to support the FRN entered in serious problems as well and these problems were in many cases new to these organizations. Apart from the problems that NGOs experienced.90 There is an extremely worrisome trend of continuation of human rights violations. as well as other critical voices such as journalists. 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). there is ample evidence that in the period during and after the coup. art 58). prosecutors initiated a number of proceedings charging “illicit assembly”. Red Comal (see next section) is a case in point. 24 March 2010. prohibiting public meetings not authorized by the police or the armed forces. However. presented by CODEH of the killings that took place after the coup. 50 .the use of torture has increased exponentially. online available at http://codeh. see for instance a call by the Committee to Protect Journalists. 2010.reported different kinds of threats. Tegucigalpa. 91 See the overview of 54 cases of extra-judicial. These charges were based on decrees that restricted civil and political liberties. a counterpart of ICCO.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.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. 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. CNTC also reported the detention of members in Colon and Comayagua . acts of intimidation such as monitoring and surveillance (UN.

2010). see http://www.revistazo. as of July 30th. the Administrative Procedures Code. ICNL reports the frequent abuses of this ministry in providing the legal personality (the right to entry). shifting to barrios and neighbourhoods of different cities. 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. This is not to say that criminalisation of social protest has disappeared. as well as well as Executive Decrees 024-2002 and Both the forms and location of the repression has changed in the last few months.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. municipalities. 2009). and villages where demonstrations against the coup take place. We would rather argue that there is a need to closely monitor trends in this regard. Thus.period after the coup. The human rights organisation Cofadeh (2009) accused the de facto government of ‘a plan to criminalise public protest’.hn/ 51 .htm 97 FONAC was founded in 1994. The 2003 Decree further elaborated on this (ICNL. According to Cofadeh this strategy shifted a month later. Campaigns to harass and persecute members of the resistance have been mounted’ (Cofadeh. 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. 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.defensoresenlinea. in particular those that pronounced themselves the coup.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. 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. 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. 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’. when the government started ‘targeting social groups clearly identified with the resistance and in the last four weeks. The 2002 Decree described the responsibilities of the Registration and Supervision of Civil Associations Unit (URSAC). for instance by 94 See http://www. using death threats as a form of intimidation. For instance. 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’. Another sector that has been targeted is professionals working in different sectors of the state.95 It is important to note that there are links between criminalisation and The key laws affecting NGOs and GROs in Honduras are the Civil Code. 2009). 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.fonac. the repression has become selective.gob. meetings and public marches that generate “disorderly brawls” (Cofadeh.

Stigmatisation can be an extremely important strategy when a group or category is constantly depicted as untrustworthy. the organization must have a minimum number of Honduran citizen members. 98 99 See ICNL on Honduras at www. In the past years there have been several efforts to draft a comprehensive law regulating different kinds of civil society organizations.icnl. without giving major substance for these claims.”98 In the month before the coup. The discussions with the government about this law took a negative turn. As a reaction. We talk about stigmatization in cases where groups are portrayed as untrustworthy. However. and thus forming a threat to security or social order of society. 52 . however.” An extremely high minimum number of members for an NGO to obtain and retain legal personality. or spends down 80% of its assets.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. 2010). or dangerous. There is. plus restrictions on the freedom of non-Honduran citizens to associate: for every legal foreign resident member of an NGO. widespread support among Honduran NGOs for the drafting of a new comprehensive law on civil society organisations. in which NGOs (both national and international) have been involved. human rights groups and women organizations. falls below number of minimum members. and youth).upholding the request for legal personality up to a period of seven years (ICNL. 2010). 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. 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. the Honduran Assembly issued a highly restrictive draft NGO law. among others of Roberto Micheletti. candidate or ideological tendency" that give the Government great discretion to limit rights of freedom of association and expression. Stigmatisation It is fair to say that in the period before the coup. Individuals of these NGOs remember the aggressive tone of a number of MPs in these discussions. less repressive. Labeling of others can be part of strategies of both government agents and civil society. law. 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. and currently NGOs consider opening the discussion with the new government about another. The law was not accepted before the coup took place. or (stronger) as criminals or dangerous subjects. Vast discretion to forcibly dissolve NGOs if the Government determines that an NGO is unable to fulfill its objective. after the publication of critical report of an NGO (Ciprodeh) on the Honduran assembly in March See chapter 1 of this study. a broad based coalition of national and international NGOs heavily criticized and lobbied against this concept law. 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).

director Red Comal. 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. 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.Stigmatisation takes different forms in Honduras. mining companies do not only sponsor local radio station. We distinguish between practices of cooptation and the hesitance to engage in new dialogue with the government after the Lobo Administration took power. Trinidad Sanchez. 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.100 The last years of the Zelaya regime were characterized by a growing division in the Honduran political establishment and society. however. (local) media increasingly play a role in forging alliances in local conflicts about mining. More recently. 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. What’s more. Siguatepeque. the national level media launched constant and fierce attacks on the government of Zelaya. 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. In local level struggles images of the self and other are of great importance. in a situation of extreme division and polarization. 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. 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. be difficult to see where cooperation ends. These spaces were closed after the coup. Reportedly. stigmatization increasingly became an important tactic for all parties. In general. 23 March 2010. Below we discuss several types of problems with regard to these newly established spaces.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. Particular strategies of stigmatization are clearly more important in cases where particular groups are portrayed as ‘dangerous others’ – such as youth (gangs). party. 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. Thus. It can. 53 . and where cooptation starts. When PL and PN led governments approach members and leaders of trade 100 101 Authors interview. but have opened their own stations. 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. President Zelaya contributed to this by a rather confronting style. 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. As already mentioned.

In a similar vein. 104 Authors interview Thomas Andino. 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). an organisation working with youth. not successful.unions. But in a context where corruption flourishes and clientalism is strong. This was also expressed by the director of Interpeace. The organisations that supported or endorsed the coup generally don’t have any moral dilemmas of working with the new government or not. when and how to restore working relations with the new Lobo administration. The relations with the government were still ‘cold’. other leaders refused to accept a position in the new government.elheraldo. In that regard. social movements. however. however a normal practice for Honduran governments that seek to build or to broaden their constituency. 22 March 2010. This ties in with a more fundamental problem of whether. Zelaya approached leaders of social movements. Tegucigalpa. By the end of March 2010 most NGOs still very much had a wait and see attitude. 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.104 Apart from the problems to engage with the government. In this regard the more radical NGOs refer to the Honduran democracy as a ‘oligarchic democracy’ that wasn’t able to foster sustainable development. social movements and NGOs. Approaching leaders from civil society is. Andres Pavon. which was seen by others as an effort to co-opt these movements – not necessarily by bribing them. we also found that some NGOs had their thoughts about the nature of their relations with the government. but rather contributed to ‘sustainable poverty’. For instance. it is not surprising that we heard numerous accusations that politicians were actually buying (bribing) leaders of trade unions. since the very youth that the organisation is working with would not agree with new dialogue. churches and NGOs to side with the government or to take positions in the cabinets. like for instance. 54 . a distinction should obviously be made between those in favour of and against the coup. 103 According to Pavon it was still too early to cooperate with the new government. Tegucigalpa. The resistance of the political and economic classes to meaningful reform in 102 See El Heraldo 28 January 2010. 25 March 103 Authors interview Andres Pavon. since these churches are generally conservative and were not willing to be associated with Zelaya. not of president Lobo). director of the human rights organisation CODEH and one of the first persons to announce plans of a coup. appointed Alejandro Ventura. he said and moreover talks with government officials could be interpreted by others as being in favor of the coup (‘ser golpista’). 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.102 However. in his turn. a prominent leader of the teachers' union that plays a prominent role in the Resistance Front. online available at http://www. President Lobo. president Zelaya approached new protestant groups. This was. as a result of closure of spaces. that didn’t lead to fundamental choices in favour of the poor. Engaging with this new government is still not an issue. 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. but this was not accepted. The spaces of dialogue that had been created over the past decades were seen as ‘ritualised’ spaces.

but also because it has linked up with local governments. In Santa Rosa de Copan. More recently. The importance of communication is also emphasised. While for some this was reason to voice a strong support for president Zelaya who. emphasis is placed on the prevention of mining activities in communities were mining companies consider to start activities. the high levels of clientalism. ASONOG. Furthermore. struggles about access to resources such as land or raw materials can create enormous problems to GROs and NGOs. This led to a struggle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of local inhabitants. who emphasised the weakness of the state. Thus ASONOG has focused more recently on declaring municipalities ‘free of mining activities’. mayors receive funds of the company and even police have received funds to buy petrol. made a clear choice in favour of the poor. staff played an important role in the protests against the local mining activities. preferably taking action in coordination with other organisations. As one NGO-representative said: What effects did our efforts produce? Didn’t we –through our dialogues . First. This is not only the case because the company provides employment. The director of ASONOG had to leave the country and was assisted by several international organisations. The past two years this led to more and more pressure on ASONOG. Therefore. but it is clear that they haven’t stopped since then. It is not clear who exactly are behind these threats. impunity and corruption. 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. Most of these are related to insecurity generated by criminal 55 .Honduras was also a key concern of others. oftentimes leading to withdrawal of the organisation. a counterpart of ICCO. Also with the support of external donors. Stopping a company that has already invested proves to be very complex. it started to work on plans of institutional safety. We make a distinction between three different kinds of experiences (that are partly overlapping): (a) those that are typical for conflicts about resources. ASONOG has become more careful in its work. 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. so as not to be the (sole) target of repressive actions. with regard to working in a context of chronic insecurity (other than repression) several counterparts of ICCO have experienced problems. where ASONOGs headquarters are based. it opened its own radio station and thus has a strong influence on public opinion. others questioned how to use their political space and wondered whether changes in their strategies would be necessary.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. although it is realised that it may be very difficult to counter the propaganda of mining companies. and (c) those that are the result of the repression of the coup. econdly. According to ASONOG staff there is now communities that are ‘against ASONOG’ and in favour of the mining company. Reportedly. it was argued. (b) those that are a result of insecurity. has been involved in protests against mining companies since July 1999 with its program Incidencia Gestión de Riesgos y Minería. ASONOG has taken a number of measures to deal with this situation. The mining company also has its own security company that follows staff of ASONOG when at work. The mining company has used broadcasting time of local radio stations with a view to foster support for its activities.

like cars passing by while drivers shouted slogans against the Resistance Front. Red Comal was also suspected of obstructing the elections of 28 November 2009.00 AM at night – something they never did before. 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. In this case Red Comal chose to stall its activities in this region. Red Comal was also concerned about its reputation in town. This is generally seen as a warning towards the organisation and frightens possible landlords. the supermarket of Red Comal in its hometown Siguatepeque was robbed three times in a row. NGOs can generally only operate in these areas when they keep a very low profile. This implies that economic success of one association can lead to jealousy and restrictive actions of others. Although the perpetrators were never arrested.redcomal. In March 2010. Also the military from Siguatepeque trained in front of the premises of Red Comal at 1. since this might interfere with the working relations it has with different government agencies. but more frequently they are simply not trusted by criminal networks and have been asked or forced to leave the NGOs (such as ICCO partner OCDIH ) working in zones were narco trade has increased. 56 . AA has experienced problems as a result of advocating against the coup.saved them. After the coup. For instance.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 association of small producers working for the commercialisation of products of its According to the director of Red Comal the lawyer of the Fiscalia came 45 minutes later. In some cases the narco traders have started to offer services or projects themselves. working with youth in marginalized areas of Tegucigalpa with a strong presence of youth gangs. Authors interview. and money of the organisation. 23 maart 2010. The risks of Arte & Acción (AA) lie outside the neighbourhood. Their AA carnets – that were introduced by AA because ID cards are extremely expensive . as is the case with Red Comal . which was reasons for 45 military of the local ‘batallon ingenieros’ to occupy the premises of the organisations. Almost immediately after the coup took place Red Comal became part of the Resistance Front and provided assistance to the movement. But when it organised 105 106 See Red Comals website http://www. solar panels. Crime creates particular problems for organisations working in the field of commercialisation. the third field that we discuss. experience acceptance problems of local traders. Trinidad Sanchez.106 Although Red Comal was highly upset about this. it decided not to make any claims to the state. 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. taking away computers. its premises nearby the town of Siguatepec were used for meetings and protestors against the coup were given shelter. ICCO partner Arte y Acción. AA has also been accused by the ministry of G&J for being a fake NGO (‘NGO de maletin’). two young members of AA visiting a market were beaten up by police officers that assumed that they were criminals. The office of AA was recently searched and equipment was stolen.groups impeding the work of NGOs. reports that these gangs accepted the organisation. Red Comal also experienced problems as a result of the coup. As a result of the raid. Red Comal experiences some intimidations. Furthermore. it is suspected that people jealous of Red Comals economic success may have been behind it. Interestingly. Furthermore. Siguatepeque.

The ‘cancilleria de la republica’ under Micheletti. 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. and president Zelaya as a womaniser. a peasant union and COFEMUN. According to staff of COFEMUN the children returned and the military were removed after the Lobo administration took office. Other organizations were more heavily affected by the coup. 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’. Staff reported the interception of their telephones while the kindergarten across the street was apparently evacuated and occupied by two military. As to ICCO’s partners this was particularly the case with CNTC. a feminist organisation promoting the rights of women. 25 March 2010. A further deterioration of this relationship might lead to more economic losses. For COFEMUN this was important.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. Also CNTC . Since its foundation the organisation had to deal with different kinds of organisation that has been claiming land rights for the past two decades -maintained a close relationship with president Zelaya. Red Comal paid a price for speaking out against the coup.109 The de facto government of Roberto Micheletti was also a direct threat to COFEMUN since the new government strongly expressed conservative values. because COFEMUN is seen by many as a principled and radical feminist organisation. COFEMUN had experienced restrictions before. and took a low profile in its relations with the (local) government. who in May 2009 had charged the director of COFEMUN who had argued that 107 108 See http://www. So COFEMUN was also involved in the organisation of the referendum (consulta popular). Tegucigalpa.cofemun. Red Comal actively supported the Resistence Front.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. since the topics that it stands for (including the right of abortion. The coup had led to a national economic crisis that also affected Red Comal. which made Red Comal more cautious. And although Red Comal was against elections of November 2009. For instance. For the staff of COFEMUN the coup had been unimaginable (‘we had never expected this’) and so was the repression that followed the coup. the public attended and was positive about Red Comal. Thus. was Martha Lorena Alvarado. 109 Authors interview COFEMUN. because this might backfire on its relation with the government. criminalisation and staff had experiences of armoured cars following or watching them and of anonymous threats (telephone and mail). 57 . the newly elected mayor (PN) says he wants to establish contact with RC. with an estimated 40% drop in its The close relationship between COFEMUN and president Zelaya was also interesting. The threats and patrols intensified in the period after the coup. 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. the organisation didn’t submit a complaint against the raid in its premises. Both CNTC and COFEMUN were actively involved in the protests against the coup.its yearly market a week later.

These examples show that NGOs and GROs that spoke out against the coup suffered different kinds of 116 See WOLA. 25 March 2010. 3 March 2010. This might lead to the militarisation and escalation of local conflicts. COFEMUN staff still felt extremely vulnerable and absolutely not safe.113In 2001 the Movimiento Unido Campesino del Aguan (MUCA) was organised. that they were still followed by cars and received threats. led to an extreme feeling of vulnerability and staff felt no longer at ease in their own office.wordpress. and have been contested by peasant organisations that claim their lands back. also part of the Resistance Front). Mujeres de la Resistencia. using the expertise of organisations in Guatemala (notably SEDEM.fian. Staff reported that telephone lines were still intercepted.111 There is a complex conflict about land titles in this region. Staff of the organisation also reported that it felt rather unprepared to these severe restrictions. In March 2010. the police and private security agencies will not stop these activities. 2010. 113 See Muriel www.110 Lorena Alvarado had called COFEMUN a ‘dangerous organisation’. 112 These cooperatives were formed in the early 1970s.html 111 Authors interview Victor Meza. Honduras: Criminalisation of agrarian reform activists in Bajo Aguan. police and private security forces).com and MUCA’s site http://movimientomuca. 13 April 2010. 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. The direct threats to staff of COFEMUN in combination with the absence of the rule of law. 2005. on http://hondurashumanrights.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.116 The militarisation of the region was already ongoing and is a typical example of a mix of public and private efforts (military.blogspot. and product of a land reform of the early 1960s. WOLA alarmed at militarization of Bajo Aguan. Las mas amenazadas en los ultimos dias.wordpress. 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.wola. Local leaders have been harassed or killed (MUCA members.the Lorena Alvarado was ‘against human rights.114CNTC – a partner of ICCO also has a presence in this zone. and didn’t work until late in the day. ICCO’s network on PDFED (of which COFEMUN is a member) prepared workshops in Honduras on human rights defenders. In March and April 2010 militarisation of the region is reported. The director left the country for a while. Police Trained to Commit Illegal Acts while Billy Joya Training Paramilitaries in Colon. online available at 114 See also hondurashumanrights. and local leaders had reached an agreement with president Zelaya on June 12. Tegucigalpa. In the past ten years these organisations have been confronted with all kinds of restrictions mentioned in our 58 . The coup made an end to this process and MUCA occupied farms to which they claim to hold 110 See Dina Meza. This repression has continued since the Lobo-administration took office and it is feared that groups within the (military) intelligence services. Of particular concern is the region of Bajo Aguan where protracted conflicts about land tenure have created an explosive situation. see next section). This led to new measures: staff no longer left the office 115 See Fian. 2009. ranging from arrest warrants of local leaders115 and stigmatisation to a combination of all these restrictions with a clear trend towards more repression. Several governments have sought to solve the conflicts in the region. http://www.

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. although in this period many organisations that were critical of the coup reconsidered their relationship with the government. 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 need for these kinds of response strategies were less clear in the case of 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. There were. the coup surprised many people and in these volatile situations it is extremely difficult to make assessments about the security situation. genocide and ongoing repression by both state and non-state actors. The question for NGOs and GROs in Honduras. for instance. as mentioned. For instance. The coup. 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 rights. Whereas in Guatemala a relatively strong human rights movement took shape as a result of decades of civil war. This also raised some discussion about ‘staying or leaving’. Human rights organisations from Guatemala (among them counterparts of ICCO) have offered training sessions for counterparts in Honduras. there are several initiatives of organisations providing training and advice. in general GROs and NGOs in Honduras are seen as relatively free to undertake their activities. In the aftermath of the coup. on 59 . 2010. Different kinds of measures were taken. experienced serious restrictions. However. As mentioned. about ‘when to come to back’ and how and to what extend to support those persons that decide to ask for political asylum elsewhere.117 Responses In general. This was even the case in the periods during and after the coup. Police Trained to Commit Illegal Acts while Billy Joya Training Paramilitaries in Colon. 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. the response capacity in Honduras to the restrictions experienced by different kinds of organisations is weaker than in Guatemala. Directors and also staff members of the organisations that were most visible in the protest. while staff members phoned each other several times a day to see if they were safe. went into hiding (or stayed in different places) and a number of them left the country for a period of time. by taking a lower profile or staying in different houses at night. however. Staff developed protocols of how to deal with the situation. But the national political context changed in such a way that these local level conflicts became part of national processes of polarisation. criticisms that some people that fled could have stayed in the country. However.wordpress. changed this situation dramatically. the groups that actively spoke out against the coup. is not only how to respond to restricting political space. it was decided to never arrive and leave the offices of their organisations alone. therefore. Also almost 117 See Muriel Soy. This is not to say that there were no problems with regard to the political space of NGOs and GROs in Honduras.

local organisations have started to take more proactive action. as was the case with DanChurchAid and the Mennonite Church. As a result of the coup. that combines the expertise of different organisations. In a number of cases it was the international headquarters that criticised the coup. 24 March 2010. For CASM (the NGO of the Mennonite Church) this was all too necessary. ICCO staff at the headquarters in Utrecht played an important role in lobbying for arrested or disappeared members of their partner organisations. 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. making clear that in their opinion the rules of the game should be respected. International actors have played an important role in the period during the coup. The strong international pressure surprised the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti. 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. Thus. 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. For ICCO the situation was particularly complex. A number of NGOs reacted cautiously. teleconference Tegucigalpa/Managua. but keep a distance from (party) political activities. On the one hand. it probably played an important role in the organisation of the elections as scheduled. because local members of the NGO had different viewpoints about the coup. A problem was. 60 . For SNV this was reason to freeze its activities and wait until the problems were solved. since there is a need for a coordinated and structured monitoring system of human rights violations. This is important. International NGOs found themselves in a rather difficult situation and had problems to escape the polarised situation in Honduras. a number human rights organisations from Guatemala (Udefegua. ‘SNV is not a referee’. those organisations monitoring human rights offences should make information public and take a stance against all violations of human rights. There were several reactions. they didn’t openly pronounce against the coup. Sedem) decided to organise a fact-finding mission to Honduras. René van der Poel. The first task of such a system is to monitor and to share information with national and international actors. In the face of a failing judicial system in Honduras and the politicisation of its tasks to monitor human rights offences.118 Other international NGOs criticised the coup and the human rights violations. SNV Netherlands is a case in point. and so was the position of a large number of international NGOs. In other cases.immediately after the coup. there is a need for a nongovernmental system. of course. The fact that the international branches of organisations responded enabled local organisations to keep a lower profile. but SNV noted that it was not up to them to decide whether this was a coup or a presidential succession. but suspended their work and waited for what would happen. This is particularly the case with the six main human rights organisations in the country that started conversations about a common platform. and although it didn’t lead to a negotiated settlement (and the return of Emanuel Zelaya). that the very nature of and the application of the rules of the game were at stake. It is also important that the tasks of monitoring are decoupled from political influences and agendas. 118 Authors interview. In their view the position of the US and the OAS was flawed. Over the past years.

Some international NGOs supported activities of the Resistance Front. On the other hand. 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. like the US) to deal in a more fundamental way with the crisis in Honduras.ICCO worked closely together with the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica and with the ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague. This was also due to the fact that the members of the board did not reach consensus about the developments in Honduras. women’s groups and the LGBT community have traditionally experienced problems. however. they were still able to work. Nevertheless. the newly established regional office of ICCO in Managua and the Central American board representing ICCO partners in the isthmus kept a lower profile. other international NGOs and organisations were more critical and closer to the agenda of the Resistance Front. especially those NGOs that pronounced themselves against the coup that faced repression and intimidation. These actions were the result of initiatives of ICCO staff and there were no protocols with regard to these kinds of situations. eventually leading to the coup d’état. 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. like ICCO. Nevertheless. 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. Apart from the need to support initiatives to monitor human rights violations. social movements. The Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico (CIFCA) organised a factfinding mission to Central America. For international NGOs. there also is the question of what priorities there are with regard to civil society strengthening. In the period until the coup d’état of 28 June 2009. Political space in Honduras has narrowed and the human rights violations have increased. there clearly is a new situation in Honduras that should have consequences on their strategy. 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 . It was criticised by some for not talking with representatives of the government. 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. grassroots organisations) experience problems that are the result of the security situation. It was. Furthermore. 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). Yet. despite the turbulence and chaos that many NGOs and grassroots organisations experienced and the restrictions that this caused with regard to their operational space. This raises questions about the ways ICCO will position itself in these kinds of situations in the future. like in Guatemala. safe or create? Conclusions & Recommendations In Honduras there has historically been a relative tolerance vis-à-vis the work of NGOs. In the ensuing political twists the fragile Honduran democracy was put to the test. Apart from this. all societal groups (NGOs.

and of which most are organised in or sympathise with the Resistance Front. while the newly established regional office took a lower profile. The possibilities to take in a ‘middle position’ have diminished and this has also affected the NGO sector. Firstly. Interestingly. International NGOs. As of March 2010 Honduran NGOs were in the process of discussing the possibilities and options to cooperate. Secondly. Parallel to the process of growing political polarisation. Honduran NGOs were hardly prepared for the problems that they faced. played an important role in the period after the coup. and many groups are still hesitant as to the possibilities to cooperate with the new government. civil society has become more divided and polarised as well. where historically the operational of NGOs has been far less stable than in Honduras. which failed? And what are the lessons for the new situation in Honduras? 62 . staff of Guatemalan NGOs was very important in supporting their Honduran colleagues. Two topics are particularly important for ICCO and for other international NGOs in the period after the coup.and the new regime. Trust between (and sometimes within) NGOs has diminished. Before and after the coup a cleavage became visible between those ‘supporting’ or rejecting the coup. Which strategies were successful. like ICCO HQ in the Netherlands. Contrary to Guatemala. there seems to be a need for further improvement of the capacity to monitor the human rights situation. there is the question of what can (and should) be learned from almost two decades of civil society strengthening in Honduras.

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. which are operating in Mindanao. criminalization and killings. however. In this chapter we analyse whether and how NGOs are affected by the worrisome trends that these analysts observe. many NGOs are not affected by the severe threats posed by intimidation. It gained independence from the United States in 1946.121 119 In addition to these interviews with NGOs. 2007:179). and the actual role of civil society in defending its space and asserting its claims effectively (e. We also pay attention to the strategies that NGOs have developed to open up and use the available space. His own experiences in the Philippine NGO sector proved invaluable throughout the research. Ed de la Torre reported Marcos to have said famously “I already allowed you to vote. still challenged Aquino in five coup attempts (Estifania Co & Neama. 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). However. 2007. however. The military. 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. Tiwana. 2009).119 Recent elections in May 2010 brought to power Noynoy Aquino who was a favourite among many of the NGOs that we interviewed. ICCO partners are indicated in bold. 120 Regarding the democratic qualities of the Marcos regime. 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. Most of the organizations have an office in Manila and were interviewed there. Philippines.g. From 1972 until 1986. Some organizations. We identify the sectors that are affected and the way in which different restrictions interact to limit their operational space. 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. This chapter is based on interviews with ICCO-partners and other NGOs in the Philippines. Our assessment is that those trends indeed exist and affect a significant number of NGOs. The interviews were conducted from 21-27 March.120 He was toppled in the People Power Uprising (also known as EDSA I). Hutchcroft. 63 . were interviewed in Davao City. Cory Aquino gained power in 1986 immediately issuing a new Constitution along with various other reforms. a concept which still has an important meaning in the Philippines today and for civil society in particular. Non-ICCO organizations were chosen to complement the picture of the Philippine NGO sector. President Marcos ruled the Philippines under a regime of martial law. 2010. the freedoms for civil society. Political context The Philippines have been a Spanish and American colony retaining many influences from those periods. The NGOs that we have spoken with do represent fairly the wide spectrum of the Philippine NGOs.4. we also spoke with the Dutch embassy to discuss their activities in relation to the Philippine NGO sector. 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.

Poverty is widespread and the distribution of income highly unequal. Her presidency has been criticized harshly by some of the NGOs we interviewed. Various analysts have commented on the Philippine’s strong commitment to the neoliberal model (Quinsaat.123Some analysts claimed that more than 50% of the private assets are controlled by only fifteen extended families (Petras and Eastman-Abaya. Estifania Co & Neame observe that this has pushed many civil society groups from engagement with the government to a more “resistance mode” (2007:183).html. who was disposed in 2001 in a second People Power uprising (EDSA II) due to corruption scandals. leading Bello et al to blame the debt as one of the main factors for the stagnating economy (2009:xxvi).9. 2007:180). yearly debt payments exceeded 30% of the governmental budget (Petras and EastmanAbaya. 2009). the Netherlands rates 30. In 2005. but an impeachment process failed (Freedom House. p. It’s totally under the Executive wings. Arroyo has used her executive power to issue the controversial Executive Order 464. Encarnacion Tadem.122According to the World Bank. Bello et al point out that between 1990-2005.0. 2008). the Philippines have the highest levels of income inequality in Asia (OMCT. which hampers the ability of Congress to oversee the administration by putting up hurdles for its investigative committees. characterized as a populist. Corruption and a tendency to ignore the rule of law characterize her term. 2006). In comparison.7 124 ‘Banyan’ in: Economist 13-19 February 2010. The Philippines have a higher proportion of extreme poor than in China or Vietnam. Indonesia 39. 2009:68.60 125 This Executive Order was withdrawn again in March 2008 (Freedom House 2009). 64 . 2006). In February 2006 Arroyo announced a brief period of “state of emergency” in order to prevent a perceived coup. The Philippines currently have a population of 88.124 Gloria Arroyo (2001 – 2010) replaced Estrada in 2001 and has been widely criticized for her lack of democratic practices. economic growth itself has been faltering. Apart from the unequal distribution. 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. 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. It has been criticized however. Our democratic institutions 122 123 ‘Banyan’ in: Economist 13-19 February 2010. 2007:187). with fifteen percent of the population living on less than US$1 a day (UNICEF Report in: OMCT. one in ten Filipinos work abroad and the money they send home constitutes more than 10% of the GDP.60 http://hdrstats. Senator René Saguisag expresses his concern for what this means for the current state of Philippine democracy: “the House is gone.4 and Guatemala 53.125 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. 2009:245. Former general Fidel Ramos followed Aquino in 1992 and his regime is characterized by broad-based coalition-building (Estifania Co & Neame. 2008:5). The Gini-index from the Human Development Report 2009 rates the Philippines at 44. This explains that at this moment. She was accused of having rigged the 2004 elections. 2009:6). 2006).57 million inhabitants (FIAN. He was succeeded in 1998 by former movie-star Joseph Estrada. The Senate is struggling to check and to assert itself as an institution.undp. 2007:183). 2008:7). economic growth in the Philippines has been the second lowest in Southeast Asia (2009:xvi).

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).135 130 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]: 133 Rene V. Sarmiento (2005), ‘Facilitating dialogue with armed insurgents in the Philippines’ at conciliation resources, at [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]: 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

Consequently. 2007:180/192). but on the above-ground level. the Philippine NGO sector has received a legitimate place in the structure of Philippine politics. with 38 per cent of that coming from foreign foundations. Kiwanis and the Lions’ Club. There were underground organizations which fought against the regime. Resistance by NGOs to the Marcos regime gave the term “NGO” widespread legitimacy in the Philippines (CODE-NGO. People now just expect NGOs to do things. medical missions. although with much control and repression. including non-stock non-profit corporations. NGOs are specifically mentioned to give them an official role in the process of decisionmaking regarding issues at the local level. The church traditionally has had a lot of influence in the Philippines and still retains much of this influence today (Estifania Co & Neame. 2007:33). 139 Interview with author. such as organizations providing occasional basic services to the poor like educational scholarships. The local sanggunian concerned shall accredit nongovernmental organizations subject to such criteria as may be provided by law. states: “Representation of Non-Governmental Organizations. Before the regime of President Marcos. community-based.”139 He therefore argues that civil society has expanded at the cost of the meaning of citizenship. points to the downside of the thriving NGO sector.138 There is a saying that for every ten Filipinos. and bilateral and multilateral institutions (CODE-NGO. 2008:17). even these secular organizations somewhat withdrew from public life. such as: “The State shall encourage nongovernmental. Manila 140 Title 6 of the Code. this commitment to NGO participation was institutionalized in the Local Government Code. Section 108. and secular non-profit organizations like the Rotary Club.hundred thousand. so we will do it with foreign funds. as people tend to rely on foreign funds and the attitude of NGOs is that “the government is lousy. only traditional professional service delivery NGOs were present. instead of learning what it means to be citizens and demand action from the government. not surprising maybe as 85% of the people in the Philippines is identified as Roman Catholic (Hutchcroft.000 -490. 2007:191). In the Constitution. It is estimated that the total income of the NGO sector is 12.3 billion Pounds. and soup kitchens. cooperatives. the local government code and various other legislative acts.Within a period of sixty (60) days from the start of organization of local development councils.” 68 . which was passed in 1991. however. NGOs. including the not-registered NGOs. The period following the assassination of Ninoy Aquino (1983) saw a resurgence of civil society activity. Ed de la Torre. the nongovernmental organizations shall choose from among themselves their representatives to said councils. 2007:14). Declaration of Principles and State Policies).000 organizations. and provided for an “accreditation” process enabling NGOs to take a seat in advisory local development councils. accredited people’s organizations and other people’s organizations (Code-NGO. or sectorial organizations that promote the welfare of the nation” (Section 23. 2008:20). there were only the church-backed institutions that were able to operate. Many of today’s civil society formations have their origins in the period of martial law resistance (Estifania Co & Neame. These services were provided by church related organizations. 138 Estimates reported in an assessment of the non-profit sector range between 249. Article II. 22 March 2010. During martial law. 2007:178). there are eleven organizations. . Since 1986.140The 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.

many new NGOs emerged. rather than to political organizing and claim-making as they used to provide funding for. NGOs pursuing a gender agenda. that during martial law about eighty percent of the social movements were dominated by the CPP/NPA/NDF (Encarnacion Tadem. 25 March 2010. entrepreneurs. Still. The military suspects many of these ideologically oriented NGOs to be front organizations for 141 142 Interview with PhilNET. In our interviews. which closed off opportunities for engagement (2007:179). Manila Interview with author.After the Marcos regime was ousted. made her lose much civil society support. indigenous communities claiming their ancestral land ownership. This bloc is composed of the rest of the rejectionists. All NGOs working in that sector reported a lack of funding for “community organizing.”142 It is suggested. Also the international perception was that the Philippines already had an organized citizenry and needed more assistance in basic services. a small but significant part of the NGOs continues to link their work to a political agenda.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. many NGOs cooperated with the new government. the cooperative sector also grew tremendously during this period. Various professional NGOs emphasized the importance of mobilized and committed communities in the process of claim-making. where important key leaders mobilize the community members. A second bloc is aligned with the Rejectionist National Democratic Movement. 22 March 2010. 2007:36). This led many international aid organizations to divert their funds to socio-economic programs. This changed dramatically after the turn to democracy in 1986. for example regarding natural resources. and even government units set up NGOs to attract funding (CODE-NGO. Most of the new NGOs were involved in service delivery. 2009:223). NGOs reported their struggle to find funding. Political advocacy was no longer viewed as needed. Three ideological blocs that are still recognizable today can be identified. and the progressive wing of the social democrats.” 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. NGOs reported that since 1986. funding for Philippine NGOs has steadily declined and across the board. 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. thus creating a competition with local NGOs. NGO staff also reported a current tendency of international NGOs to set up their own projects and recruit people from local NGOs. the independent socialists. Initially. but Estifania Co & Neame note. along with many micro-finance institutions and NGOs assisting communities and target groups with socioeconomic projects and training on entrepreneurship.” These are membership organizations usually rooted in local communities in rural areas. In addition. and NGOs concentrating their advocacy on ecological issues. A third bloc works together around the multiideological center Akbayan or the Citizens’ Action Party. Davao City 69 . now that the Philippines were a “democracy” (Encarnacion Tadem. that the compromises Aquino made in the early years of her term on the issues of agrarian reform and international debt. The first bloc is aligned with the Reaffirmist National Democratic Movement which has links with the CPP/NPA/NDF. The mushrooming of NGOs after 1986 had a negative side effect as politicians. such as peasant groups claiming ownership to lands. 2009:226).

analysing the nature of these killings and the governmental possibilities for an adequate response. 70 . Hutchcroft comments that the “alarming development in recent years has been the killing of hundreds of leftists. As such. As we will see in the next sections. including the administration itself” (2007:184). the operational space of 143 The UN Rapporteur concludes that the killings of leftist activists and journalists constitute distinct phenomena (Alston. which NGOs need to manoeuvre. There is no consensus about the exact number of killings and disappearances. and lawyers. (3) administrative measures. that UN Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston devoted his 2008 report to the Philippines. numbers of killings vary between 116 and 885 between 2001 and 2008 (Alston. community leaders and NGO representatives. 144 Estifania Co & Neame provide the following numbers of attacks on activists. such as is the case in the field of agrarian reform. given by former Senator Wigberto Tanada in 2006: 752 killed and more than 155 missing (2007:184). and occasional physical harassment. journalists. 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. The majority of the NGOs involved in land and other resource reform supported by ICCO belong to the more ideological section of the NGOs. but Estifania Co & Neame note that “the trends are acknowledged by all. (5) spaces of dialogue. the operational space generally is specifically facilitated. various NGOs find it hard to turn the available opportunities into effective advocacy. We discuss (1) repression and intimidation. In addition. the majority is involved in service-delivery without any ideological affiliations. in practice. 2008:8). The interaction between restrictive actions and policies in these areas will be further explored in the next section “On-the-job trouble. Among the ICCOsupported NGOs. NGOs operating in isolated areas afflicted by armed rebellion.” Repression and intimidation The most visible and shocking restriction on the operational space of NGOs is the frequent killing of activists. NGOs that are suspected of affiliation with the communist rebels. secondly. thirdly. most notably. especially where their claims would affect the interests of the established elites. the majority from the non-ideological side. Apart from these killings. Firstly. They are a legitimate player in the political arena and have received plenty of formal possibilities for exerting their influence. The Philippine NGO sector thus is very active and has a long tradition. in this section we turn to those policies and actions that influence the operational space. (4) stigmatization.143 The political killings were so widespread. intimidating surveillance. Three sectors in particular suffer from policies and actions that restrict their operational space. not restricted. (2) criminalization. but not one is aligned with the bloc connected with the CPP/NPA/NDF.144 Even though the number of killings is staggering. church workers. the NPA. due to the deficiencies in the democratic practices and the weakness of the state. 2008:29). NGOs can also face (death) threats. 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.armed groups. the Communist Party (CPP) and its armed wing. Dependent on who does the counting. NGOs dedicated to agrarian reform and other resource struggles. CODENGO is a network of NGOs.

” the NGOs affected by this violence are concentrated in the three areas that are identified as problematic. reported that criticism exists regarding the counting of killings and human rights violations by human rights organizations on the left. Threats are usually sent by SMS.”149 What has been done to counter the extra-judicial killings? In 2006. the tendency to report only victims who are on the left. 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. 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”). and no clear laws criminalizing enforced disappearances and torture (2008). leads people to ask: what is your conception of human rights if you only count as victims.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. 71 . Similarly. The New People’s Army is also held responsible for killings. with the warning of a death threat. as there is no good witness protection program. 2008). Family members and colleagues of victims of extra-judicial killings are often threatened as well. 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. and church personnel” (2007:10). those that are on your political side? 145 Davao City is a particularly well known and extreme site of permitted vigilantism. According to him. There is a general state of impunity regarding the political killings. Families don’t receive any remedies. 2009). however. the military dismisses any implication and argues that the deaths are the result of internal purges (Alston.most Philippine NGOs is not affected at all by this violence. The UN activists.146 Several reports suggest. making these actions almost always go with impunity (Hutchcroft. killed. 2008:2). Activists are told to stop their activities. There are no effective laws for prosecution. Ed de la Torre in our interview with him. During martial law. 149 In addition. The government supports that definition of the violence. 2008:2). As will be discussed more in-depth in the paragraph “On-the-job trouble. 22 March 2010. There is a “writ of amparo” which has not led to effective implementation. 2008 and the findings of the Melo Commission.145 During the Arroyo regime. now the perpetrators of the killings are generally unknown actors. Manila 147 The AHRC reports that in 2008 not a single perpetrator of vigilante killings was charged and prosecuted. 2007:12). strong involvement of the military in the killings (see for example Alston. 2007:194 & HRW. Estifania Co & Neame hold that more people were tortured. The AHRC mentions a number of 800 killings between 2001 and 2008 (AHRC. the burden of proof lies by the victim. thus placing the burden of proof on the activists (AHRC. 146 This was pointed out in an interview with Ed de la Torre and author. killings returned at such a large scale that it has led to international inquiries. or disappeared than during the regime of Pinochet (2007:178). the president installed the Melo Commission (Commission to Address Media and Activist Killings) to investigate the issue. no clear policies defining command responsibility. In general. 2006). while reporting that 139 cases of extra-judicial cases between 2003 and 2008 have been documented and reported to the UN. 2008b). violence was prevalent. see also Amnesty International.147 Indeed. 148 In torture cases. vigilantism is a persistent feature of Philippine society. Estifania Co & Neame emphasize the absence of convictions in the cases of extrajudicial killings (2007:184. or by an envelope with bullets. which enables the government to step in as the protector and restorer of order. Most of the victims of these killings belong to the extreme left and are aligned with the CPP/NPA. Unlike during martial law.

no member of the military has been convicted since Arroyo took office (Freedom House. The detention practices by the police often include incommunicado-detention and the lack of an arrest warrant. Activists also tend to get text messages with warnings such as “be careful. thus turning the problem from direct physical repression to criminalization.” The frequency of these messages varies from a daily warning to just once a year. In addition. 2009). 150 The impact of these killings on the affected parties clearly goes beyond the specific deaths. Currently. NGO representatives reported that at first they may be afraid as a consequence of these messages. These men will come to an office or house and ask around for a specific individual. 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). no cases have been filed. death threats are a general commodity. Despite all the evidence pointing to the military as complicit in the extrajudicial killings. also communities may threaten security guards. Manila 72 . For example. in some instances people get so used to it. those forced disappearances often turn out to be detentions by the police. The AHRC claims that it is clear that these detentions are a means by the government to fight its political opponents. Threats in the Philippines Various NGOs reported that they have been followed by men on motorcycles without number plates. leaders involved in campaigns anti-mining are said “to eat threats for breakfast. Earlier international pressure led to a shift from extra-judicial killings to disappearances. They fear a resumption of the killings. 150 This was for example mentioned in our interview with human rights organization PAHRA. 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). but NGOs reported suspicions of private security personnel of landowners and corporations.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. but as one staff member reported. 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. The detained is then held on charges that preclude bail. These various recommendations have led the Supreme Court to appoint 99 special courts to deal with the cases of extra-judicial killings. that they actually respond to the texts. Threats are most common for the leaders of people’s organizations (grassroots NGOs).” The actor behind the threat is generally unknown. so nothing has happened. there are allegations of maltreatment and torture. As the spokesperson of ATM put it. saying for example: “o yeah. usually the leader of an organization. 27 March 2010. However. as well as the military or armed groups such as the MILF and the NPA.

” Isis International 2007. 2008:16). 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. NGOs can also operate without registration. Finally. p. 2007).153 None of our interviewees reported to have experienced any negative consequences because of this law. #2. 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). a terrorism-charge against a labor activist had the effect of legitimating his subsequent disappearance (AHRC. 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. She reportedly suspects that her detention is related to her research about the killings and disappearances of Filipino women. Human rights organizations have reported their concern regarding the Human Security Act (Republic Act 9372) that took effect on July 15. 153 Isis International 2007. Criminalization as a restriction on NGO activity is not widespread. where award-winning Filipino novelist Ninotchka Rosca was included in a terrorism watch list as a consequence of the Human Security Act. The Act is also known as the Anti-Terrorism Law and is criticized because of the broad definition of terrorism.4 73 .152 In addition. These specific problems will be discussed below in the section on “on the job trouble. As a consequence of the Human Security Act. p. nor does it harass donors and funders of these organizations” (2007:8). there has been unease about the potential for abuse of the new anti-terrorism law against civil society activists. Still. 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. #2. 2008:17).” Above we already mentioned the particularly problem of libel suits against journalists (Hutchcroft. we saw that a decrease in political killings may have induced a switch to prolonged detentions. and those organizations that are suspected to be front organizations for the armed struggle. some incidents do indicate the potential restrictive effect. 2007. MNLF or Abu Sayyaf) were immediately included in the list of terrorist organizations and closely monitored. ICCO partner Isis International reported a case in 2007.154 The AHRC claims that at least in one instance. NGOs can register with the Securities and Exchange Commission which is an easy and non-controversial procedure.9 154 “When Security is the Threat. 2008:25). 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). Local communities who are involved in a struggle relating to land or natural resources have faced criminal charges (mainly trespass and qualified theft). 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.Criminalization In the previous section. The law is said to violate due process because of warrantless arrests and prolonged detention without charges. the anti-terrorism council is argued to have too much power as the sole determiners of who is a terrorist.

and successfully argued for the creation of a self-regulating mechanism.157 Restriction of public activities and demonstrations Permits are required for rallies. organized by Gabriela. and outright support (2009:78). small farmers. as well as regarding receiving (foreign) local government units. for were met by Philippine's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) police force. Feb.sunstar. 2009). CIVICUS. A controversial law was the implementation of the “pre-emptive calibrated response” to guide police forces in their regulation of rallies and demonstrations. reported a rally on 28 April 2009. Peace.155 NGOs have to apply for a non-profit status for the purpose of tax exemption. the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor. UNORKA. it should be noted that both KMP and Gabriela are perceived to be associated with the CPP. In this regard.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. 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. Bello et al provide an overview of the groups working for agrarian reform and their general stance vis-à-vis the government. 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. and the Housing and Land and Urban Regulatory Bureau (if the organization is a homeowners’ association). 2009). see http://www. Another incident mentions the violent dispersal of a rally outside the US Embassy. 156 For more information regarding tax exemption. in order to increase state 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.html [accessed 2 August 2010]. CIVICUS also reported that on 22 May 2009. a movement of landless peasants. 74 .hits.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. Davao. and Freedom House comments that most anti-government rallies are dispersed (Freedom and farm workers. 2009). and assist them in institutionalizing professionalism within the sector. when we analyze the negative effects for civil society of the counterinsurgency of the government against the Communist rebels. the Cooperative Development Authority. ranging from outright opposition (for example KMP).73rd. a women’s rights organization (CIVICUS. critical engagement (for example Pakisama). ‘Gabriela hits forum by 73rd IB in school’ in: Sunstar Daily Newspaper. especially on its non-profit status. 155 NGOs can seek accreditation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). None of our interviewees commented on experiencing problems with respect to public demonstrations. but also the Department of Labor and Employment (if the organization is a trade union). and PhilNET). 26. But the NGO community mounted a unified objection to accessed 2 August 2010 157 Arsenio García told that during the “the Philippine National Police ended the 40 day long protest by farmers and demonstrators from Kilusang Magbukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). the Department of Finance discussed the possible imposition of some restrictions on the NGO community. 2008. (if the NGO is an urban poor organization). (if the NGO is a cooperative).wango. which resulted in the creation of the PCNC. critical collaboration (ICCO-partners PARRDS. 158 This allegation is for example the subject of contention as reported in this newspaper article. 158 This will be further discussed below.

PhilNet and its local members. (PLCPD): ‘PLCPD Cries Foul Over ‘Malicious Attacks’ Vs Repro Health Bill’ in Pinoy Press1 October 2008. These accusations come from the military and also from landowners and corporations. as well as UNORKA and its local members. and Muslims in Mindanao 161 This was also mentioned in our interview with ISIS International. as well as some NGOs aligned with them. Some NGOs are accused of sympathizing with communism and working with the extreme left experience restrictions on their space. 21-27 March 2010. especially those working in agrarian reform and land distribution. especially those advocating for the rights of women on fertility management and reproductive health.161 This label is only used by groups belonging to the Catholic Church. 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.159 Some ICCO partners suspected that they were also included in the military’s list (for example BalaodMindanao). Landowners and corporations have also labeled NGOs as communist. Specific stigmas. Almost all ICCO-partners involved in agrarian reform experienced this stigmatization. Because of their international character they were not affected by this stigma. an NGO providing labor education and training and working closely with Akbayan. however.160 The stigma of being a ‘western’ organization and promoting a western lifestyle is only used against NGOs working on gender issues. The government welcomes foreign aid organizations and provides ample room for the founding and operation of NGOs. Initially. 2008:9-10). During these community meetings. Interface Development Initiatives (IDIS). 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. Task Force Mapalad (TFM).Stigmatization As has been discussed before in the section on the Philippine NGO sector. 2008:25). thus discrediting them in the eyes of the communities with which they work. Inc. Philippines. which also works closely with Akbayan. indeed legally recognizing the importance of NGO participation in its governance structures. were denounced as communists. Christian people. 162 For an example of such accusations. TRICOM is an organization working for the rights of the so-called “tri”-people: the indigenous people. and the staff of the NGO working closely with them. NGOs flourish in the Philippines and are looked upon favourably as a sector. one of the ten labor centers in the country. Almost all sectorial organizations identified with the extreme left were mentioned in this list. the military uses a PowerPoint presentation where they identify organizations and NGOs whom they regard as “enemies of the state” (Alston. mainly against NGOs who get foreign funding. and the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL).162 The strong 159 160 Information from Arsenio García Interviews with author. 75 . such as the Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN). but they reported the use of the label regarding local women’s groups. CARET. such as BalaodMindanao. This was part of the military’s counter-insurgency strategy called “Oplan Bantay Laya” (Karapatan. An organization fighting against aerial spray (Mamamayang ayaw sa Aerial Spray or MAAS). see the article on the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation. Other NGOs are accused of support for terrorist or separatist groups in Mindanao. this was also encountered by TRICOM working in the Caraga region in Mindanao. an international women’s organization. play an important role in limiting the operational space of some NGOs.

APL-women.166 For example. Likhaan. Existing spaces of dialogue under pressure There are many and varying degrees of contact and cooperation between the Philippine government and NGOs. Whereas an NGO wants the government to improve and fulfill certain demands. the Supreme Court has ruled this prohibition unconstitutional because morality can be no reason for excluding the party from participation and in May 2010. 166 Not all NGOs. by organizing conferences for the revision of policies. Manila 169 Interview with ATM.169 As discussed in the earlier section on the Philippine NGO sector. Ed de la Torre criticizes the confrontational and non-constructive stance that some NGOs tend to take. 26 March 2010. For more information on the women’s movement in the Philippines. Manila 76 . NGOs are perceived very positively in the Philippines. Now. In some specific areas.htm [accessed 2 August 2010] 164 ‘Gay partylist group can join May polls – SC’ at Inquirer. available at [accessed 25 June 2010] http://newsinfo. 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. see for example Santos-Maranan et al or http://library.fes.167 Indeed. for which their NGO had advocated. WomanHealth. The government adopted 80% of the draft text. the legal environment provides all incentives for a productive collaboration between civil society and the government. an AGO keeps escalating the demands to show that the government is bad and should be the LGBT community participated in the elections with a party-list.165 Government agencies often work in collaboration with NGOs on projects and as discussed above. 167 Interview with author. http://www. and some other NGOs on gender have experienced being accused of being ‘western’ by religious groups who consider themselves pro-life. stigmatization is a real issue.inquirer. ATM said that it is the tradition for the government to consult NGOs as they know that there is the expertise. Specifically NGOs affiliated with the extreme left have rejected these opportunities. Encarnacion Tadem for example describes how social movements have been successful at times to create linkages with agencies and parts of the government. He calls those NGOs ‘anti-governmental organizations’ (AGOs). however. Sarilaya. 2009:231). and NGOs like LEARN (for its gender program). however.168 NGOs often take the lead in creating spaces for dialogue with the government.164 In general.Net 8 April 2010. it is a common practice that local government units have NGO leaders on consultative boards. members of anti-dictatorship movements gained positions in the government (Encarnacion Tadem. 26 March 2010. NGOs organized a working group. Davao City 168 Interview with author.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 [accessed 2 August 2010] 163 Women’s groups like Gabriela. they studied the draft text and gave it to the government. 24 March 165 After 1986.Catholic Church restricts the space of local organizations of Philippine women or LGBT organizations. have sought cooperation with the government. This is partly explained by the common practice of individuals who switch between positions in the government and social movements (2009:242). This happened in preparation for the conference on climate change in Copenhagen.

some NGOs mentioned as a restriction that the government refuses to give access to public information. The general experience with governmental cooperation is not necessarily bad. 171 Interview with author on 22 March 2010.NGOs unanimously reported that the legislation in place provides a very good environment for development and the NGO sector. 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. Conform the patron-client politics that were so common in the Philippine past. These Memoranda of Agreement are a common form for NGOs to secure police protection for ARB communities. but subsequently ignored when it comes to actually taking over their suggestions. the genuine space to operate for NGOs may be greater at the local level. Estifania Co & Neame give a mixed evaluation.171 For example. 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. 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). NGOs in the Philippines are often invited in spaces and allowed to talking in several platforms. 26 March 2010. or that there were cases of outright misinformation. Manila 172 Interview with PARFUND. the additional Memorandum should not be necessary. 2009:186). but serve to emphasize the commitment of the police to protect ARB communities. has to be started over again after three years when people are replaced after elections. For example PhilNET lamented the fact that the effort. the Memorandum of Agreement became just a piece of paper and they had to start again building a good relation with the new commander. but NGO representatives have shared with us various experiences in which the existing spaces of dialogue proved dissatisfying. which they put into building good relations at the local level. however. 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. Many recognized instances of co-optation170 (some even wondering whether some of their personal past experiences could be qualified as co-optation in hindsight). they are sometimes forced to stay 170 Within the Philippine NGO community some NGOs accuse others of cooptation by the government. ATM commented that because of the importance of personal relations. reported that their contributions were ignored. especially when the local governors or mayors are perceived as “friendly.172 This experience was recognized by many NGOs. Some NGOs that we interviewed for example uttered their frustration that they are invited to give input. 173 Interview with author. in: Lopez Wui. Many NGOs have decided to make use of the opportunity offered. As ARBs possess the legal titles for their land. the implementation of the legislation which is reported to be problematic. where on the one hand successes are achieved. than at the national level. When the commander was replaced.173 Ed Quitoriano criticizes the practice in which NGO leaders are asked to sit on the board of governmental corporations.” On the other hand. Davao City. It is. 25 March 2010. These accusations divide the NGO community. 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. This in effect induces a habit of self-censorship of their entire NGO. Manila 77 .

Despite this close interaction and the multiple possibilities for providing input and advice. thus facilitating close cooperation with NGOs working on that issue. and as the president each year nominates the council’s representative. there exist many spaces for dialogue between the government. ATM mentioned a survey that showed that only in 25% of the local government units NGO participation had actually been implemented. because as soon as they become critical. On top of this. the government and NGOs had equal access to foreign funding thus creating an equal relationship when they worked together on projects. Now. In the 90s. Women. NGOs reported. PhilNet.174 During the Aquino and Ramos administration. The office still exists but not many NGOs dispute the fact that it hasn’t been particularly successful in alleviating poverty. 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. they will be subjected to audits and their funding will be retracted. The office is being headed by a cabinet rank officer. 174 175 Interview with author. which brings NGOs in a subordinate position when they work on joint projects. 26 March 2010. NGOs across the entire spectrum except the extreme left participated in the commission. NGOs and other actors. The competition over money and inclusion as a sectoral representative dominate the proceedings of the commission. Butch Olano of PARFUND argues that this subordination effectively transforms NGOs into service providers for the government. NGOs often are not satisfied with the net result of their cooperation. Davao City 78 . Manila Interview with ATM. 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. It has also been problematic for some of these NGOs to maintain their work once the governmental funds dried up. indigenous peoples and a majority of the famers have therefore decided to boycott the Commission. In this section.176 In the Philippines. PEACE. former NGO leaders were in various positions at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Their position as subcontractors diminishes their ability to have a role in that space. Of course. set up by the Ramos administration. composed of representatives of the government’s national agencies and sectoral representatives of the poor. Manila 176 Interview with author. and its member-organizations have been beneficiaries of programs and funding from DAR intended for land transfers and support programs for agrarian reform beneficiaries. the representatives tend to be less critical of the government. An example of a dysfunctional space is the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).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). it has been doubted whether NGOs involved in these types of cooperation can maintain a healthy level of criticism of the government.quiet in the face of fiscal transgressions in order to get their way on their own programs (2007:192). These forms of cooperation blurred the lines between governmental work and nongovernmental work. the space has now become legally restricted as organizations that want to participate now have to register previously with the Office of the President. 26 March 2010. UNORKA. the government receives the majority of ODA-budgets. 25 March 2010.

(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]: 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 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

We also spoke with several non-ICCO partners 182 183 Section 4. 184 Interview with author. 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. Land is distributed highly unequally in the Philippines. Balaod Mindanao is an alternative law group providing legal assistance to communities that are in the process of claiming land. PARFUND provides funds to communities involved in agrarian reform. as it arranges the transfer of land to the landless farmers with compensation for the current landowners. 182 The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 instituted the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Project (CARP) which offered landless peasants the possibilities for land redistribution.185 These ICCO partners are among those most affected by restrictions regarding their claim making. they face resistance from various sides. OMCT points out that already in 1995. Centrosaka Inc. This is discussed in the next section. 3. among other things. either through coercion. as they question the acclaimed success rate of 72% land transfer.”184 Local government officials often show more interest in protecting the interests of powerful local elites than promoting controversial land distribution (Alston. 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).4 percent are actual farmer beneficiaries (2009:81). 22 March 2010. 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). with the “ancestral domain” of indigenous peoples. 2007:19-20). land rights of indigenous groups are not always respected. 2008:15). and corporations increasingly apply for the exploration of mining areas. or because of their better knowledge of (and access to) the law (Hutchcroft. The new 1987 Constitution mandated that the State should install an agrarian reform program. In addition.does not fund NGOs that are closely linked to the extreme left. agrarian reform. and there is a long history of land grabbing. 2008:15). As a more meaningful measurement of the success of CARP.96 million hectares have been distributed.183 As communities organize to assert their rights for land distribution. some ICCO-partners that are involved in agrarian reform also face this suspicion of association with the extreme left. 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. TRICOM is involved. Various ICCO-partners are involved in claims about land. Still around 1203 million hectares of mostly private agricultural land remain to be distributed (FIAN. Landowners generally oppose all redistribution programs. and natural resources in general. FIAN reports that of the 5. where the elite usurps land from the poor people. 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. 2008:13-14). 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). Taskforce Mapalad (TFM) is a national federation of farmers and farm workers engaged in advocacy and organizing communities to claim their rights to land. is a research institute with a focus on issues of agrarian reform and advocacy. Manila 185 ICCO-partner PhilNet is a consortium of local organizations that support agrarian reform. they claim that of those entitled to benefit from CARP only 35. 82 . however.16 million hectares of land selected for reform by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

involved in claims about land and natural resources. pineapple. 83 . among other activities. Once DAR has acquired the lands. 186 ATM is involved in the anti-mining struggle. 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). 2008:13). only offering workers the possibility for a lease on the land.3 million hectares was selected for reform.186 Each of these organizations reported one or more of the risks that are involved in this kind of work. They claim that this is problematic. Members of communities identified as eligible for receiving lands are denominated Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARB). A fierce battle about a possible continuation of the agrarian reform emerged.96 million hectares (FIAN. the “working scope” was reduced to 3. Tarlac Province. 2008:14). as was the case with the 212 hectares of land owned by Jose de Leon in the village of Tinang. 2007:15). If it’s an indigenous community. mostly sugar and coconut plantations. Whereas in 1998 a number of 10. Thus. Finally. in 2001. involved in land rights for indigenous communities. IDIS works on an anti-aerialspraying campaign which involves banana plantations owned by Dole or Del Monte. palm oil and other cash-crop plantations. In addition. were not immediately distributed (FIAN. 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. 6657) regulated the agrarian reform that the 1987 Constitution had stipulated. many landowners have transformed agricultural land into industrial estates and golf courses (ibid. and the Mindanao People’s Caucus is. as landowners can choose the beneficiaries of the land transfer. private agricultural lands. keeping real ownership with the corporation. they can issue the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA). However. 15-20 % of the population is legally recognized as indigenous (Hutchcroft. 2008:15). the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Project Extension with Reforms (CARPER) was signed. Pakisama is involved in land rights. FIAN reports that the majority of the land transfers under auspices of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) were performed under the VLTframework.). Given the conflicting interests. in reality there is no land transfer at all (FIAN. the law on agrarian reform was deferred on banana. 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. for example in Mindanao from 1988-1998. Terminology in the Agrarian Reform in the Philippines The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (Republic Act No. as more than a million of private pieces of land would not be covered by the program (FIAN. CARP was legislated to expire in June 2008. This complaint was echoed by our interviewees. it is the Certificate Ancestral Domain Title (CADTI). 2008:16). 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. In order to become eligible for similar exemptions. giving five more years to execute the agrarian reform. emanating from the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) enacted in 1997. Concepcion Municipality.

Lopez. 2006. destruction of crops. harassed. to the use of physical violence by their private security personnel.ahrchk.191PhilNET claimed that all of their 21 local partners have suffered from harassment and intimidation in varying degrees. ‘Community organizer slain in Silay’ in: The Philippine Star April 17. Now CARP has been extended until 2013. confiscation of household belongings. ‘Hacienda killings stress need for full CARP implementation’ in: Panay News. June 12. 2008:10). threat and harassments.188 ATM had two mining activists killed during the past two years. In the same period. 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. *…+ Other strategies of landholders to prevent CARP include assassinations [sic] and murders. Twelve community leaders of ICCO-partner TFM were killed between 2001 and 2007. beatings.189 Two high ranking leaders of Pakisama were killed last year. on 4 June 2007.A-28. burning of houses.Current landowners attempt to stall or prevent the reform with a variety of tactics. TFM claims: “in this struggle for land. the fighting farmer has been bribed. and alleged NPA members. 25 March 2010. Antonieta. It should be noted that ICCO187 For example.php/2006/1956/ [accessed 18 June 2010] 189 Interview with PhilNet. evicted. local police. ejection and eviction” (TFM. which makes it likely that also the next three years will show intense struggle. intimidated. An AHRC report attributes this killing to members of RPA-ABB. received from TFM during the interview on 27 March 2010 84 . According to TFM. also 123 leaders of indigenous peoples have been killed (FIAN. http://www.190 While these killings should generally be understood within the local context of specific land claims. p. FIAN and PARRDS claim that between 2001 and 2008 at least forty peasant leaders have been killed as they asserted their rights to land. Also.9 188 TFM provided us with a detailed list of the date and names of the 12 deaths. Davao City 191 For example listed in the document ‘Summary Info on ARHRV’.net/ua/mainfile. Apart from killings. the campaign to extend the CARP and the counter-campaign launched by landowners to prevent the extension from happening has been very contentious. the killings are never an accident or ‘collateral damage’ as always the best community organizers are targeted. was not only about local interests. but should be seen in the context of the 2008 struggle for extension of CARP. p. an armed revolutionary group. One of them is Rico Adeva who got killed in front of the eyes of his wife. most notably hired thugs or (armed) security personnel of landowners187. assaulted and killed. Alejandro Garcesa (70 years old) and Ely Tupas (52 years old) were killed by hacienda security guards on the Hacienda Velez-Malaga. applying for exemptions or CLOA-cancelations. who had become a national icon of the struggle for agrarian reform. They attribute the killings to the military. 22 March 2010. The specific cases in which claimants demand the real occupation of the hacienda are sites of conflict. 2008:1). 2006. and various non-state actors. Manila 190 Interview with Pakisama. 2007. there are also various reports of shootings and beatings of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries. This mostly happens to local community leaders. ranging from lawsuits about CARP. Pakisama staff suggested that the killing of their vicechairperson René Peñas. detained. The most grievous risk for NGOs engaging in agrarian reform is the threat to be killed. involving many protest actions by claimants. not urban professional NGOs.

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

198 199

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.” 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

208 209

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

TFM and PARFUND staff began travelling in teams. Another important hunger strike was held in demand of distribution of hacienda Bacan. Landowners now know that this can happen and the Department of Agrarian Reform has an incentive that it should be avoided to happen again. She ordered the police and armed forces to enter in hacienda Velez Malaga to protect the farmers. Our interviewee reported that she cut her hair to change her appearance.Impact on operational space and response capacity It is difficult to assess the effects of the political killings on the operational space of NGOs. CARET and Mindanao People’s Caucus 217 Manalastas. 25 March 2010. but even their sympathizers from the middle class. The participation of various people from the clergy gave the march more status. in Negros Occidental. Davao City For example Centrosaka. Other highly publicized actions have been hunger strikes. In one of the hunger strikes. On the one hand.216 IDIS even asked for professional help (training on security and safety). 25 March 2010. On the other hand. 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. 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.218 The response to violent incidents has been largely reactive. This specific action has led to a response by the president herself. the death of René Peñas inspired not only his co-leaders and members of their own organization.217 These actions are generally judged as successful. they went to the police to report the incidents. NGOs point out that it shouldn’t be the case that citizens go to such lengths to enforce their legal rights. there was the real possibility of dying for two farmers. An example of such a tactic has been the long march organized by TFM. and they went to the mayor. 2008. where again bishops have joined the farmers. the husband of President Gloria Arroyo. For Pakisama. they returned to organizing and picked it up from where they were before the killing. however. 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. ‘Bishops join farmers on hunger strike’ in: People’s Journal December 16.215 Surveillance and threats affect the mobility of NGO workers. According to Butch Olano from PARFUND. as it has set a precedent. 2008. which is owned by Mike Arroyo. Davao City 89 . and one of them even decided to hide for a time to lessen possibilities of getting hurt. I received this press clipping from the impressive news archive of TFM. NGOs reported that the killings do scare some communities into less confrontational tactics. For example. 218 Interview with author. at times even convincing a broader audience of the justness of the cause. NGOs also reported that killings tend to make people more determined to obtain what they had been fighting for. PARFUND indicated that this incident has provided more space. Although the community of the murdered president of Pakisama stopped their work for a while. NGOs sometimes have resorted to tactics that draw a lot of media-attention to their campaigns and demands. All NGOs issue press releases in reaction to violent incidents. This hunger strike was held in front of the House of Representatives to call for the extension of CARP. They set up a buddy system and changed meeting venues. Furthermore. Several NGOs have reported that there were cases where they had to withdraw (temporarily) from an area due to security concerns. Jester P.

Their immediate reaction put the military on the defensive. This was done by TFM. went to the department of agricultural reform to ask for their endorsement. They invited the military to come to the trainings to witness what they are doing. When their partner PRDCI was branded as a communist front. which means that the government cannot enter the area without paying money and/or asking permission. the Philippines is in fact a failed state.219 These proceedings tend to be prolonged. some Islamic terrorist groups such as the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group are also active in this area. therefore making it a sanctuary for Jemaah Islamiyah fugitives (Hutchcroft 2007:15). 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. Some NGOs also dedicated part of their budget to explain their goals in the media. Now the military is working with PRDCI. the military makes a strong effort to counter the recruitment. arson. They have to deal with strong repression and intimidation. as well as various paramilitary and 219 Interview with author. PhilNet. fighting still continues. there has not been much institutionalized or coordinated effort to respond to the killings. the government is combating the NPA. 27 March 2010. The NPA has a “presence” in several areas. PhilNET immediately reacted. or threats. It is clear that NGOs and communities working for agrarian reform operate in a risky and constricted space. They made representations at the local level with their legal documents.that they were on the lands as part of the process of engagement in land reform. 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. and witness to see whether it was on agriculture or not. and the creation of an Autonomous Region (ARMM). Beyond this. In order to counter the negative label of association with the NPA. in parts of the south. In Mindanao. TFM provided me with an overview listing all the current legal cases in which they are involved 90 . According to International Crisis Group. there is an armed conflict between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government. The most important and successful response strategies have been to build good relations with local governments and visible mobilizations at the national level. There are two ongoing armed conflicts in the Philippines. criminalization and stigmatization. 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). This lack of government control affects NGOs that operate in zones of conflict and very isolated places. Basic safety in conflict areas and isolated places The Philippines are a weak state and the government lacks factual control in various areas. TRICOM. In these areas. both the NPA and the military have camps and checkpoints with fighting taking place irregularly. TFM has reported that in several instances it has filed criminal complaints against (former) landowners or guards for offenses like attempted murder. In other areas. the armed group of the communist party. PARFUND. the NPA is attempting to recruit and mobilize communities. In the entire territory of the archipelago. Some NGOs also invited renowned and nonideological personalities to serve as board members of their organizations. To complicate matters. and Centrosaka Inc. and they issued a press statement. Despite negotiations. Again in other areas.

For example.222 Ed Quitoriano signals the tendency of securitization of aid. 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. but TRICOM prefers to maintain a neutral position. and ransacking of their offices. TRICOM. people’s organizations and NGOs have to be careful not to raise suspicions from any of the armed actors. 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. such as basic insecurity and humanitarian problems such as refugees and road blockades (see also Amnesty International 2009. communities. and cultural rights (OMCT. 221 Interview with author. robbery. or being engaged in ‘terrorist’ activity because of protests in defence of their economic. they argue that it heightens their chance to become a target of bandits for the firearms and money. and the military. kidnapping. and the presence of many other armed actors on the stage. no control over army and police force. 2007:186). In addition. This mainly affects their mobility. intrusion of military personnel in their education ordinary bandits and criminals. http://www. thus affecting their operational space. or because of suspicion to belong to the military.afrim. 24 March 2010. and killing when they travel through or work in these areas. Widespread daily violence is the result of a weak http://kalimudan. 2008:44). 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. being members or sympathizers of the NPA. in some of their areas in Southern Luzon. their organizations have experienced heavy militarization like overpresence of check points in highways. Davao City 222 ICCO-partner Kalimudan Foundation. In addition. for example.html 91 . 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. Inc. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people. 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).php. as they risk theft. This limits severely the operational space of NGOs as they operate in daily insecurity. experienced threats from bandits during their work with indigenous people in Mindanao. The government offered guards. Pakisama reported that during the past five years. 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. social. Donors will have to deal with these military strategies. NGOs also reported threats from the NPA either because their NGO activity would lessen the revolutionary base from the community220. ambush. In conflict zones and isolated areas NGOs thus face potential threats from armed rebel groups. The on-going fighting in these armed conflicts creates a situation of basic insecurity.criminal armed groups (Estifania Co & Neame. Rodolfo Stavenhagen. for example detailing the mortar shelling of an IDP camp).221 The “Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao” (ARMM) actually displays problems as described in the ideal type on conflict zones.

Jose Maria. 4 March 2010 [accessed 20 March 2010]. in the province of Maguindanao in Mindanao 57 civilians were killed. to take nonstop 231 Interview with 226 Francisco J. 25 March 2010. Press Statement. two students were doing research for ATM on access for lands for Indigenous People. available at [accessed 17 June 2010]: http://newsinfo. “Remember Maguindanao”. the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank have suspended their financial aid to Mindanao because of that reason. Lara Jr. International League of Peoples' Struggle 227 The military has created self-defense groups called Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAGFU). 2009. Jose Maria Sison. when visiting indigenous peoples coordinate it beforehand with the . available at the Weblog of Edicio de la Torre. 2009). ‘Maguindanao massacre worst ever for journalists’ in: Philippine Daily Inquirer 26 November 2009. Manila 92 .wordpress.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. the researchers have to be careful not to travel at night. and follow strict security protocols.229 Security precautions are an integral part of the training of their researchers. Manila 230 In the cases where travels are undertaken. Good offices by the church led to their release. 21 March 2010. ‘The structure of reactionary violence and human rights violations in the Philippines’. ‘The ruthless political entrepreneurs of Muslim Mindanao’ available at [accessed on 17 June 2010]: http://planetphilippines.230 ATM informed us that in 2008. 26 March 2010. and the Philippine National Police has created similar units called the Police Auxiliaries (PAX). Organizations affected by these restrictions have been research institutions who work on agrarian issues and indigenous peoples (Centrosaka Inc. Manila Francisco J. Lara Jr.inquirer. 228 Interview with author. 2009.226 In addition. They were abducted by the military after they had been labeled as sympathizers for the NPA. and AFRIM) who tend to travel to remote areas and areas where the conflict is ongoing. 27 November 2009. http://edicio. there are reports of increased communal violence and vigilantism in Mindanao while the government is handing out weapons for citizens to protect themselves (AHRC. 223 224 Interview with author. 26 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. 2010. USAID. by Prof. 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.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. of which 34 were journalists. Alcuin. He also claims involvement of drug traders with warlords and political killings in Mindanao as the Philippines has turned into a transit port.224 On November 23.225 The origins of the massacre are generally attributed to the rivalry between the Ampatuan and Mangudadatu clans.228 Impact on operational space and response The operational space of NGOs is clearly affected by the abovementioned restrictions. Chairperson. listen to the advice of regional liaison officers. 2008:1)227.reduction. Sison. as politicians are forced to negotiate with them. which is tolerated by the mayor (HRW. and in Davao City there is already a Death Squad active targeting petty criminals. Manila 229 Interview with author. 225 Papa.

232 On the other hand. One team leader of a ceasefire monitoring group decided to stop with the work. interview with author. Davao City 234 Interview with author. They threatened the NPA to leave the area and the people would be angry with the NPA. as many human rights violations take place in Sulu and they perceive that after their withdrawal the number of violations has increased. it would be robbing from the people. as he was against the peace agreement.233 Specific mention deserve the loan officers of Micro-Finance-Institutions (MFIs). one of the partner MFIs of MCPI decided to retreat from an area because they were extorted to pay “revolutionary tax” to the NPA. For MCC. (MCPI). MPC volunteers were targeted as well. The military responded to the cases by threatening to pull out their forces from the area. in four cases such a robbery led to the death of the microfinance officer and it is recognized as an increasing problem. her colleague got kidnapped. 25 March 2010. MPC also reported about severe problems with the military after they had filed cases on behalf of community members about more than 3. Davao City 233 Interview with author. The director was almost kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group. although this was not a regular occurrence. in Davao 232 She told us that governor Piñol mentioned her in every speech as a sympathizer of the MILF. According to the director of MPC the arson was planned and deliberate. when she was travelling to a military camp in Sulu. This led the mayor of the area to promise to halt the cases. In at least one instance. which is the reason there is no documenting of the incidents of harassment. After this incident. During the fighting in 2008. providing a clear incentive for community care. As a strategy to protect the loan officers. such as the Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC) which was active as a ceasefire monitoring organization.Also organizations that are involved with the peace processes are affected. microfinance loan officers have been robbed as they came to collect money in isolated places. MMC told that one of their partner organizations in Nagusa has negotiated relations with the NPA and thus avoids paying the revolutionary tax.000 houses that were burnt down during a military operation. However.” The increased popularity has also led to criminals knowing when the money is collected. Governor Piñol fought against the peace agreement and eventually got it declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. In past years the popularity of microfinance has led to their expansion into areas farther away from what they called “centers of protection. MPC has had to transfer their office because of the threats. They explained that the program tries to help the poor people and thus by paying revolutionary tax. as in the last office the staff didn’t feel safe anymore. and he portrayed support for the agreement as being pro-MILF.234 The revolutionary tax demanded by the NPA poses another problem. The policy has been implemented that the money is only considered paid once it has gotten to the bank. Instead. which was a very heavy decision for them. the MILF in its turn is also suspicious of the MPC as they are sometimes seen together with the general of the military. Manila 93 . Between 2007 and 2009. There is no police protection for the microfinance loan officers. 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. 25 March 2010. they decided to pull out of Sulu. such as ICCO-partners Mindanao Microfinance Council (MMC) and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. community members often accompany the loan officer on the way back. In several instances. the director received death threats on a daily basis. 24 March 2010.

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. 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. interview with author. coordinated response by the NGO community has been rare. prevent or avoid these restrictions. In this section.238 Responses In the previous 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. And regular lending institutions do not go there either. They lack the means to maintain the plantation for which they need loans.235 Unlike the situation in the topic discussed previously where leaders are disproportionately targeted for harassment. In correspondence with their vision to work in “frontier areas.icco. A proactive. oikocredit. we analyse the response strategies that NGOs have developed to counter. very few microfinance institutions are active. or the organization that was set up to bring NGOs together: CODE-NGO). Whereas there are various networks (all NGOs reported to be part of many networks. 26 March 2010. Manila 94 . the political partylist Akbayan. (2) look for existing MFIs there and provide capacity building. such as environmental networks. because of the armed conflict.236 Instability also affects investment. 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). MMC specifically requested if it were possible that ICCO provide a guarantee fund to encourage MFIs to go to these conflicted In another 238 For example. the NPA commanders are strict and there they have to pay revolutionary tax. We specifically have looked whether NGOs tend to be reactive or whether they have developed pro-active responses. as that is where poor people are.” MMC is now considering expanding into the ARMM. indeed. 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.phtml?p=en-project&project=268. Indeed. 236 Interview with ATM. Generally. which are risky because of the instability. 2009:233). we have analysed three specific areas in which NGOs face severe restrictions on their operational space. 26 March 2010. Therefore they are now investigating the possibilities how to penetrate the area.Oriental. Manila 237 http://www. One partner of MMC had to leave the area of Davao Oriental after they had taken away their motorcycle. (3) build a new MFI and operate it. there is no single forum for the NGO community. The response to these dangers has been mainly reactive. 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. where at this moment. Haribon explained to make courtesy calls to both the military and the NPA when they want to work in a specific area. for example mining companies also have to pay revolutionary taxes to avoid being bombed. the risk is here more general. and whether NGOs act on their own or in alliance with other organizations. ICCO provides a guarantee to a loan provided by Oikocredit. as it clearly poses the challenges listed before. responses to the restrictions faced by NGOs have been confronted on a case by case basis (reactive) and by individual NGOs. they know that the NPA actually attend their meetings and activities in some cases.

Other NGOs have attempted to counter the restriction by going to the mayor. even before any violent act has occurred. Partly. An important pro-active tool that NGOs use individually is the “accreditation process” which is laid down in the local government codes. as part of the risks of organizing. For example. Carla P. Bayoran. Regarding the lack of a coordinated response to the physical risk that activists face. reliable and specific documentation is a first step to effective advocacy. 2006. there is a lack of good documentation of the restrictions that NGOs face. Food First International Switzerland once sent out a fact finding team after killings in Davao. reported to contact the Human Rights Commission as a preventative measure before they conduct land occupations.1. Good. Some data is available. November 27. Apart from reactive responses. such as setting up a legal fund. p. interview with author. 167. particularly the killings.239 In addition. 2008). 242 For example Balaod Mindanao. Unfortunately. Manila 241 Gomez. which has been described to work effectively. Often also the Human Rights Commission is contacted.242 The international community has put pressure on the Philippines after the situation with political killings became more publicized.243 According to the TFM leader this was very effective in keeping violence away. NGOs campaigned for intervention and contributed to the various investigations that have been conducted. the local government unit. we have looked at available structures for effective responses to restrictions. this can be explained by the fact that NGOs tend to view these restrictions. because of security concerns. the lack of a coordinated response can be attributed to the ideological polarization of the NGO-sector. 2006. On a positive note. the director of MPC remarked cynically “we attend funerals” but then there is not more action. as well as for taking more proactive measures. Various NGOs have reported to have stopped their activities in a specific area. Centrosaka Inc. Partly.241 NGOs have also contributed information to the UN Rapporteur on Extrajudicial killings as he visited the Philippines (Alston. or lists produced by Karapatan. In reaction to the political killings. 22 March 2010. and Gilbert P. NGOs coordinate this response in their networks and with other NGOs in order to issue joined press statements to increase the legitimacy. 22 March 2010. injuries. ‘Melo hearings in Negros start today’ in: The Visayan Daily Star Vol. 95 . For example TFM have cooperated with the Melo Commission presenting evidence of killings of their community organizers. Manila 243 For more information about the IPON program. The Human Rights Commission is such an available organ. 26 March 2010. TFM was the only organization that kept record of these numbers. instead of comprehensive and complete. and the police or by issuing press statements. TFM told that volunteers from the International Peace Observers Network (IPON) stay with farmers for a period of three months. there were also pro-active initiatives. but this tends to be anecdotic or partial. This process means that NGOs 239 240 For example Balaod Mindanao mentioned this in the interview with author. Manila For example Centrosaka spoke positively about the response of the Human Rights Commission when called upon. Sometimes. for example recorded by the AHRC.ipon-philippines. 25. and criminal charges. For example. Bacolod City.that despite the existence of many networks and alliances they tend to work in isolation. the CIVICUS updates. see http://www. NGOs tend to interpret many of the threats to their work as the proof of their effectiveness. PhilNET acknowledged that they don’t keep any records of killings or criminal cases. interview with author. not sharing much information or not following up on initial efforts of coordination. including the killings.240 Generally NGOs respond reactively to incidents.

held on March 22. but will act accordingly. pointing out that this is often a misconception among NGOs who fail to put resources into the relation with the media. for example by TFM. 2007:8). 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. even president Arroyo cannot just ignore their opinion. A key element in a good media strategy is to “build upon the justness of the cause” as TFM puts it. Even though the media is owned by the same families that hold economic and political power. The church can be a good ally for NGOs when they are successful in mobilizing the progressive bishops.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. asked about how they were able to counter efforts to label them as terrorists. there are various progressive people within the media. 26 March 2010. 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). 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. One strategy. such as when TFM secured a visit to president Arroyo. As discussed before. For example. December 2. 2008. the president will do. 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. This process provides an opportunity for NGOs to establish their legitimacy and clearly distinguish themselves from the rebel groups. the spokesperson of ATM said: “when bishops talk. several of the NGOs that face physical repression have invested in security trainings and other security measures.” interview with author. Nikko. Likewise. NGOs unanimously emphasized the political power of the church. even though the Philippines are a secular state. 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.244 There are various instances of successful actions in which bishops participated. but also for example with the military. In order to counter negative labelling. 2008 245 For example. th In its 4 national congress. At key points. An example of a proactive as well as coordinated response is the initiative of Code-NGO. 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. public opinion is generally influenced by key people. with various journalists favouring agrarian reform. NGOs put a lot of effort in presenting their work and building their image. several NGOs mentioned that they turned to ‘friends’ within the military or within the church to ask for help to respond to restrictions. such as a hunger strike and long march to Manila. Manila 96 . Various NGOs reported to invest in creating good contacts. and there is a very free press (Hutchcroft.245 All mentioned that when bishops say something. The media has proven to be a good ally for NGOs in achieving this. not only with local government units. Some hunger strikes became very high profile and made it to the front pages of newspapers. 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. Dizon.

The concept of “human rights defenders” was not well known among all NGO-staff. as well as how to do human rights monitoring and documentation. she refers to René Peñ Davao City. a legal collective (Balaod Mindanao) and ATM reported to be using the term.”247 Informal contacts made this initiative possible. and how courts work.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=24&Itemid=36 97 .246 This includes providing support to NGO workers and volunteers in high risk projects and areas. Another proactive and coordinated initiative has been the setting up of the ‘Defend the Defenders’ fund with money from the Dutch embassy (see box). Code-NGO adopted six thrusts for 2007-2011.tfdp. the provision of legal assistance and a legal assistance fund. such as in the case of Ka René. the UN Declaration. how to write an affidavit. Various NGOs reported their activity in training community members to be aware of their rights. 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.code-ngo.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=121&Itemid=121 Interview with author. 24 March 2010. 26 March 2010.248 Balaod Mindanao also reported to give security trainings.Philippines. Manila 249 For more information about the launch of this project. with a fact sheet and information on who to contact and when. Another example of a coordinated and pro-active response was the petition. the Bill of Rights and socioeconomic rights. they wanted to do something to prevent this. who have set up a human rights defenders project in relation to the anti-mining campaign and for communities affected by mining activities. One human rights NGO (PAHRA).” ATM explained that basic trainings teach on basic human rights. including. Other NGOs have already adopted the Human Rights Defenders Advanced trainings teach how to gather documents. among others. the well known peasant leader who got killed in 2008 248 Interview with author. One of them is called “Caring for development NGO worker”. see http://www. They usually used the term “paralegal training. signed by 600 journalists and thirty supporting organizations urging the decriminalization of libel (Hutchcroft 2007:9). and to give trainings on it. such as the Task Force Detainees.249 246 247 http://www. making some of them interested in training on the subject. The IDIS representative comments: “instead of having a Task Force to do fact finding once a killing has occurred.

the embassy website posted the “European Human Rights Defenders Guidelines” in a prominent place on its website. Van de Haar-Conijn emphasized that the embassy appreciates the contact with Dutch NGOs as an alternative source of information about the Philippines. 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. The Dutch embassy in the Philippines is receptive to human rights issues. They also at times write letters for example to request an independent investigation in a specific case. The ICCO representative as well as the TFM spokesperson reported that the response of the Dutch embassy in Manila was positive. Counsellor Political Affairs andDeputy Head of Mission of the Dutch Embassy recalled the visit of the TFM staff member very well. and they were present during its launch. This however creates the risk that NGOs simply take over the tasks of the government instead of improving governance. The ICCO representative suggested that such visits provided the leader of TFM with an extra layer of security. as his story was “impressive. Conclusion & recommendations It is not an overstatement to say that the Philippines have a more vibrant NGO and civil society community than its neighbours. 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. On the other hand. Visible presence is one of their main tools. For this reason. 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. when the cases are extremely clear. often in coordination with other EU countries. Operational space for NGOs in the Philippines is heavily determined by the weak government. because President Arroyo was going on a tour through Europe. in order not to compromise their credibility. Anita van de Haar-Conijn. the ICCO country representative and the TFM leader visited the Dutch embassy in Manila and once they visited the Philippine embassy in The Hague. 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. Attention and backing by important people seems to scare away the people responsible for the killings. they only choose to be present during trials. For example. The embassy recently initiated support for a project "Defend the Defenders" in cooperation with the law school of Ateneo University. Once. On the one hand.CASE BOX: Mobilizing the embassies ICCO-staff twice organized a visit to the involved embassies together with a TFM staff member. They promised to bring the issue of extrajudicial killings under the attention of the relevant people.” She reported that the visit stimulated the embassy to have funded a documentary that was made about the organizing by TFM. the weakness of the government in providing security for its citizens and NGOs turns self-protection into a central 98 .

In fact. however. can be (violently) repressed. Manila 99 . Negative labelling is strongly related to the military tendency to view organizations involved in land or labour reform as possible communists. the space for these NGOs to engage in that controversial battle can be relatively free and without fundamental challenges. when they view other arenas as too restricted to work. (2) NGOs and community organizers making claims about land and natural resources. they emphasized that their space for operation expanded. In this regard. NGOs working on gender issues. The administrative context for NGOs is generally good as there are no difficult registration hurdles or otherwise bureaucratic obstacles to pursue their activities. as we will see. NGOs working on these issues have relatively much operational space in comparison to Indonesia and the Central American countries. This means that the work of these NGOs can be deeply political and controversial. labor.issue for defending operational space. This seems to be the experience for the majority of professional NGOs. In this chapter. 22 March 2010. at the same time. They regretted the lack of funding for 250 Interview with author. Still. Finally. NGOs offered some recommendations for ICCO. we have identified the existing actions and policies that restrict the operational space of NGOs in the Philippines. In our interviews. the spaces for dialogue are specifically facilitated by the state legislation. as well as for those organizations that are identified as front organizations for the communist insurgency. 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. urban and professional NGOs have a relatively protected operational space compared to grassroots organizations. Indeed. however. Public demonstrations. community organizers and individual activists. specifically those dedicated to service delivery. even though there are signals of a decline since 2008. Thus. In contrast to the Latin-American cases in this comparative study. All NGOs emphasized the importance of community organizing to be effective. The weakness of the government also gives way to nonstate actors who dominate the political and economic scene vis-à-vis NGOs. Various groups in the Philippines still operate underground. Criminalization plays a role for rural communities making land claims. Furthermore. they do. whereas issues of gender and sexuality are contested. 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. (3) NGOs operating in conflict areas and isolated places. This creates the pressures on the operational space for NGOs operating on issues traditionally associated with the left.250 Professional NGOs such as NATCCO and APFT reported that they experience no restrictions on their operational space. Further. or urban poor have relatively a lot of space for their work. NGOs have found it difficult to turn their participation in these spaces into real influence on the development of policy and decision-making. Ed de la Torre pointed out that the underground is an illegalized space in which actors attempt to create space. the Philippines still has armed communist rebellion. We want to emphasize that this does not mean that the NGOs operating in these areas never face challenges. 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.

that work. The important presence of Dutch mining companies in the Philippines. 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. opens up the possibility for ICCO to use its Dutch contacts to make these mining companies accountable for their activities in the Philippines. specifically in areas of ancestral domain. ICCO can emphasize the importance of respecting free. prior. 100 . It remains to be seen how NGOs and the government are able to use the new political context. especially also in places where the land and mining activities are contested. and informed consent requirement regarding mining exploration. 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. Specifically.

Freedom House. 2010). and Wahyudi Djafar from Demos. It should be noted that with regards to Aceh. and for their contribution to this chapter. and Java (outside of Jakarta).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. and various human rights organizations such as the Asian Human Rights Commission. ICCO partners are indicated in bold. 252 We would like to thank Maria Louisa Khrisnanti from the Legal Round Table. the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia (Komnas HAM) and the report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders. we have focused entirely on the period since the first elections have taken place in 2006. who interpreted in all except two of the interviews conducted there. 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. For a detailed overview of our interviews. religious) actors outside of the NGOsector. Our findings do not necessarily apply to the other regions in Indonesia that were not explicitly included in this research. by adding the perspective of NGOs in Aceh we have tried to include the perspective from a region. Many NGOs that are working in the area of ‘service delivery’ have therefore been excluded. and Java. a lawyer’s collective. Human Rights Watch. a research and advocacy association on issues of democracy and human rights. In Banda Aceh we had an interpreter. but also several other NGOs to complement the picture. see the appendix. The interviews in Jakarta were all conducted in English. these relations are weak at the moment. different in many respects from the other regions in Indonesia. Aceh. In addition. Both the vastness of Indonesia and the strong pushes towards decentralization of power have motivated us to include this regional perspective. Indonesia – specific spots of limited operational space Introduction ICCO supports many NGOs in Jakarta (situated on Java) and is further present in Papua. 251 ICCO also supported organizations in Sulawesi. However. In addition to the interviews. for their excellent cooperation in preparing our visit. the Centre for Indonesian Law and Policy Studies (PSHK). we have chosen to focus on the space and the restrictions of space as NGOs experience now in this newly emerging democracy. Aceh. military. whereas the strong military presence in Papua gives it more authoritarian features. 2009. we have drawn upon region-specific academic literature as well as country reports provided online by CIVICUS. Their perspective would probably have yielded different findings than those presented here. Interviews were conducted from 29 March – 8 April 2010 in Indonesia. ICCO supports about ten organizations in Papua. arranging the interviews. If this is true for regions like Sulawesi or Kalimantan. it is certainly true for Papua which has a very particular political context. We have not spoken with government officials or other (business. Amnesty International. even though the space is still firmly determined by the (historical) context of the Indonesian state. This report is based on interviews with NGOs in Jakarta and Banda Aceh. 101 . 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. where regional politics may be more relevant than national structures. Just as in Jakarta. 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. 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 2005.5. but due to internal reorganization. This also means that the current report is limited. HRW. We interviewed mainly ICCO partners.

2006:2). The regions would take care for infrastructure. The regions could keep 15% of oil profits. 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. who came to power and installed the “New Order regime” until he was replaced in May 1998. for example as recipients of concessions for natural resource extractions (HRW. Recently. Indonesia is a secular state and has the world’s largest Muslim population (PRS. Regional elites thus could control the most important money flows (2008:118). Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and it has strong relations with the United States. The military also has been involved in various businesses. The years that followed are known as the “Reformasi. According to Schulte Nordholt the differences between rich and poor regions increased (2008:117). foreign policy. Habibie started a process of decentralization of the state administration creating a high level of regional autonomy. Megawati (2001 – 2004) has not made much effort to narrow the power of the military. Suharto used to give ex-military generals positions in the government at the national and regional level. 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. justice. In 2002. also known as ‘Gus Dur’). a law was adopted officially ending the military’s presence in the parliament (Nyman. 255 For a nuanced discussion of this phenomenon. the subsequent IMF intervention. governor or mayor. Indonesia gained independence from the Netherlands. 2008:16). 2008).255 The economy. In the process of decentralization many new districts were created. Sukarno was the first president followed in 1967 by Suharto. known as one of the “newly-industrialized economies” (Baron. This regime change has to be understood in the context of the Asian monetary crisis of 1997. environment. investments. 30% of gas and 80% of logging. and fishing (2008:116). 2008:16). However. The central state would keep 75% of the national income. This autonomy came in the hands of the districts (not the provinces). some efforts have been undertaken to change the relation between the government and the military. there have been concerns about an islamization of Indonesia. he appointed a progressive general). Regions were allowed to gain their own income with the local resources.”253 Yusuf Habibie became president and thirty laws with reforms were enacted such as one creating freedom for the press. see for example Schulte Nordholt (2008:160) 102 .254Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has been in office since 2004 and was re-elected in 2009. In addition. mining. the successor of Habibie. the release of political prisoners and the admission of political parties and trade unions. It is currently a member of the G-20. Abdurrahman Wahid (1999 – 2001. these attempts ended in the end of his political career. as ambassador. 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.Political context On 17 August 1945. 2009:10). education. and internal discontent about the lack of freedom (Schulte Nordholt. fiscal and monetary policy. Decentralization led to the division that the central government would do defense. Since 1998. industry. The military thus engages in many 253 254 Although for example Aditjondro (2007:108) criticizes this term. A challenge for civilian control over the military is the fact that only 30% of the military budget is provided by the state. macro-economic policy. 2009). which intensified since 2002 after the terrorist attacks in Bali and Jakarta (PRS. creating opportunities for the local elite and access to subsidies from Jakarta (2008:118). trade. and culture (Schulte Nordholt 2008:115). and religion.

2008:100). see HRW 2006 ‘Too High a Price. In 2009. 259 In 2005. Instead of being accountable to their constituency. as Indonesia was rated 111 of 180 surveyed countries. such as in Aceh and East Timor. 258 Indeed. 2009. 2010:3). such as in Maluku (Schulte Nordholt. accessed 26 May 2010. President Yudhoyono did indeed issue a decree confirming this transfer. 2006). and the Anticorruption Court. 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. which is led by a civilian. watchdogs and the media as well as a change in the “atmosphere in the bureaucracy” indicating increased reluctance to engage in corruption (2008:9). a law was enacted requiring military businesses to be transferred to the government (Freedom House. The Human Rights Cost of the Indonesian Military’s Economic Activities’ 257 In October 2009. What is more. political parties are there to mobilize it.258 Aditjondro even argues that instead of military reform there is the threat of remilitarization. Political parties are thus used by party elites to gain access to financial sources (2008:249). 2007).256 In 2004. which emphasizes the anti-corruption activities by prosecutors. 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. as the government uses regional conflicts and terrorist attacks as rationales for expansion of military deployments (2007:113). There are more analysts who perceive this perverse role of the military in some of the violent conflicts in Indonesia. corruption is still widespread. Aditjondro suspects a “riot industry” meaning that intelligence agents played a role in intensifying communal violence in order to secure military supremacy (2007:116).259Schulte Nordholt describes Indonesia as a thoroughly corrupt society.(legal and illegal) businesses to gain extra income. 2010:3).257 Although military dominance still is a severe issue. the party system is producing an unstoppable flood of new corrupt politicians” (2008:249). the business transfers and the appointment by SBY of non-military officials for high-level government positions indicate progress. Transparency International rated Indonesia as one of the most corrupt countries in the world (at 137 of 159 countries that were surveyed). created in 2003. The military in Indonesia is thought to be responsible for many human rights violations. There have been important efforts such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK). Aditjondro.260 The anti-corruption initiatives are continuously under attack. Human Rights Watch criticizes the fact that control is given to the Ministry of Defense. where everything and everyone can and is bought. 2007:121). 261 Schulte Nordholt criticizes the role of political parties in the electoral democracy. 256 For a detailed report on military financing and specifically the detrimental effects in terms of human rights violations. Recently. but largely staffed by military officers (HRW. However. as well as the instigator of communal violence. as the army viewed a chance to increase their resources both from Jakarta and from foreign investors who would pay protection money. there was some improvement.transparency.261Impunity is a returning issue and the courts are rated as the worst institution in the country. for example the Anticorruption Court was judged unconstitutional (Freedom House. Schulte Nordholt argues that the interests involved are too big to counter corruption effectively (2008:102). only people who possess (access to) capital have a chance to be elected. however. 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. as bribes are an intrinsic part of the process of getting in the right 260 It has been argued that corruption transferred to the local level because of decentralisation (see for example World Bank. Indonesia was among the very most corrupt countries in the world. 103 . http://media. Schulte Nordholt puts the paradoxical problem as follows: “while elections give the electorate the opportunity to clear corrupt leaders.

Schulte Nordholt thus characterizes Indonesia as a “soft state” where laws are made but hardly enforced. foreign policy. 2006:27). He describes the emergence of a shadow state where governmental institutions become privatized and private interest become institutionalized (2008:119). health. Only 3. fiscal and monetary policy. 30% of gas and 80% of logging. The regions could keep 15% of oil profits. and education are thus low (Schulte Nordholt. and religion.7 million people pay any income taxes. and military – the room to set their own agenda and avoid 262 Decentralization led to the division that the central government would do defense. The regionalization actually led to more state. industry. And the split between the police and the military made that they both have to provide for their income. The bureaucracy is fifty times bigger than at the end of the colonial period. Schulte Nordholt argues that the state did not become necessarily weak. The central state would keep 75% of the national income. 104 . mining. Indeed. The assumption by the World Bank and international donors was that decentralization would lead to better governance. such as Kalimantan and Poso. justice. 2008:113). “The state apparatus functions “weak”. Klinken and Barker (2009:1) characterize Indonesia today as more democratic. Regional elites thus came to control the most important money flows (2008:118). local criminals and preman. but not necessarily working for good governance and accountability. He argues that it was not possible to do anything without the consent of the main actors of this shadow state: bureaucrats.262 This didn’t happen. trade. Also. and fishing (2008:116). whereas the Netherlands has a budget of 210 billion euro. business men. investments. 2008:251). 2008:101). local competition between elites led to enormous violence in several cases. Investments in infrastructure. the police leaders and the military. and culture (Schulte Nordholt. giving the political class – consisting of bureaucrats. what frequently leads to conflicts between these institutions (2008:120). which would come in the hands of strong regional elites who did not have much interest in democracy and good governance (2008:118). but Schulte Nordholt indicates that the capacity to govern is small. This autonomy came in the hands of the districts (not the provinces). 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. This is exactly what Gaventer warns for: “Creation of new institutional designs of participatory governance. education. politicians.The international community has an interest in a peaceful Indonesia as 40% of the international shipping transport goes through Indonesia. business men. such as the oil transportation to Japan (Schulte Nordholt. in the absence of other participatory spaces which serve to provide and sustain countervailing power. environment. might simply be captured by the already empowered elite” (Gaventer. but also more chaotic and corrupt than during Suharto’s regime. Indonesia thus has a lot of state actors. The budget for its 230 million inhabitants is 70 billion euro. Instead. The regions would take care for infrastructure. Regions were allowed to gain their own income with the local resources. decentralization did not only bring more state. macro-economic policy. but also more military to the regions. 2008:115). According to Schulte Nordholt the differences between rich and poor regions increased (2008:117). more democracy and a stronger civil society (Schulte Nordholt. explaining partially the low budget.

org/en/indicators/161.263 Indonesia is now categorized as a “free” society by Freedom House. These criticisms were also voiced by ICCO partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan. Amsterdam 105 . The neoliberal idea that less state would lead to better governance and more democracy is therefore a fiction. according to Schulte Nordholt (2008:251). 265 Our interpreter in Banda Aceh worked one year with the AMM in 2005-2006. Reconstruction of Aceh after the tsunami and the building of a new democracy are important challenges which are not without criticisms. 265 In 2006 elections were held and a former GAM member won the post of governor (Aditjondro.undp. It is this political class that threatens the functioning of the rule of law the most. Peace negotiations mediated by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue between 2000 and 2003 failed. in addition to internal struggles in the GAM leadership about the reintegration fund (Freedom House 2009).4.266 Indonesia is widely viewed as a success story of democratization. Aditjondro for example points out that the fear exists. and local parliaments. violence continued in Aceh with specific conflicts centered on land disputes. It took the tsunami in December 2004 to force the different parties to come together again. Still. unemployment. The Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) was constituted to oversee the implementation of the various provisions of the Helsinki Accords (ibid. especially in comparison to the limited space that was available during 263 264 http://hdrstats. 2010:9). Aceh The political context in Aceh differs considerably from the rest of Indonesia. as well as governors. and construction projects. This led to the Helsinki Peace Agreement. In 2006 Indonesia ratified the International Covenant on Economic. the Free Aceh Movement (Braithwaite. Operational space for NGOs has indeed increased in these years. 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.democratic control. 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. Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Human Development Report 2009 rates Indonesia at a Gini-index of 39. which gave Aceh more autonomy and considerable control over its natural resources. the Law 16/2006 introduced an independent candidate for governor election. After 1998. 2010:13). also regional elites enjoy considerable autonomy in their decision-making. 2008:248). 2010:21). The lack of benefit from its natural resources was one of the grievances that led to the founding of the GAM (Braithwaite. Not only the military functions outside most of any form of control (Schulte Nordholt. 5/PUU-V/2007). 2010:11).264 Electoral democracy is functioning well. instead of the Reformasi and a punishment of the human rights violations committed by the military. The Congress and the president are elected. This practice was followed by all regions in Indonesia (based on the Judicial Court decree No. During this period the GAM established its own parallel government (ibid. mayors. This does not mean though that there is good democratic control over the governmental institutions. 266 Interview with author. 2007:112). Aceh faced military occupation and martial law as a response to a strong return of the GAM.html In Aceh. that non-Acehnese corporations will benefit more from the reconstruction than the Acehnese people (2007:131). 1 March 2010. It holds regular elections.

2006:29). We specifically ask how those restrictions are linked to the fact that whereas Indonesia has developed a formal democracy. In the 90s attention to employment conflicts and human rights emerged (Schulte Nordholt. In Indonesia. which can be seen as “anti-government” and instead use the term “LSM” which Nyman translates as “community-self-help organizations” (2006:50-51). The CSI Index emphasizes the high level of trust that Indonesians have in religious social organizations (like NU. In the next section we describe the history and characteristics of Indonesian civil society. The relation between civil society and the state is one of the main issues in the debate about the meaning of civil society. and elite competition because of decentralization are important elements.the Suharto era. Alternatively. Not only quantitatively but also qualitatively the NGO sector changed.] 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. according to Nyman. Pioneers in this field were LBH for legal aid and Walhi.. Nomura equally states that the term LSM was chosen to emphasize the collaborative relationship with the government (2007:501). 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). 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. Indonesia thus offers important insights for our inquiry in the room of manoeuvre that NGOs have and the restrictions that they still experience. we have seen how military influence. In this section.. Muhammadiyah. Early on. 2008:37). the majority of scholars emphasize that the concept of ‘civil society’ is entirely new. the military traditionally opposed the term as it could imply civilian control over the military. This is reflected in the tendency by NGOs to avoid the term NGO. widespread corruption. 2006:9). 2008:40).267 In Indonesia. “government bureaucrats *. The two biggest Islamic organizations play a role in politics and in social life: Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah (Schulte Nordholt. as well as a lot of debate about the meaning of the concept for Indonesian reality (Nyman. In this regard it is important that. There is also suspicion of the concept of ‘civil society’ as being a Western idea. NGOs used to focus on development. 2006:30ev. as Baron puts it. 2002). the first environmental organization (and ICCO partner in Aceh). 106 . see also CSI Index. Religious organizations play an important role in society. and other religious organisations) (2006:8). and that there still is a lack of awareness about it. This is supposed to be a general tendency in East and Southeast Asia where. 2008:37 & CSI 267 The Philippines seem to be an important exception to this tendency. church organisations. As in Indonesia the Western conceptualization of civil society is viewed as an independent force opposing the state. not only NGOs are important social organizations. according to Nyman. but later also social advocacy emerged. most Indonesian analysts prefer a less confrontational concept. various features impede the deepening of this democratic potential (Aspinall 2010). 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.

and DNGDO (domestic nongovernmental development Organizations). 2006:19). Aspinall identifies some of the difficulties 268 Tim Lindsey. 2002. Red-plate NGOs are those NGOs that are founded by the government and serve to gain access to donor money. The CSI Index contrasts NGOs269 in this regard with mass-based/ membership organizations (such as religious organisations. cooperatives. Several NGO leaders explained to me that many Indonesian NGOs are considered “red-plate” or “yellow-plate. The NGO community is dominated by the politically conscious middle class (Schulte Nordholt. community development and civic/watchdog organisations. Nomura notes that a new trend in the post-Suharto era is the emergence of ‘research-advocacy’ NGOs (2007:509). They tend to emphasize cooperation with the government. such as the GONGO (government organized NGOs). aiming for a close involvement of civil society (2006:44). This is related to a variety of acronyms that have emerged to qualify different kinds of NGOs. This committee was repealed. state-civil society relations continue to be marked by mutual suspicion and confrontation. 107 . This does not stroke with the majority of reports we received from NGOs or Nyman’s writings (e. Indeed. There has also been an emergence of many newspapers and magazines (CSI Index. Many NGO staff members perceived these NGOs as abusing the NGO-label. Yellow-plate NGOs are not ‘really’ NGOs either (claim the NGO leaders we have spoken with). by his successor Wahid. Mencari paradigma baru. After 1998 one could witness a multiplication of NGOs. As an indication of the positive expectations regarding civil society. Dongo (donor organized NGOs). NGO representatives told us that those NGOs that specifically put “LSM” in front of their name are most likely not to be authentic NGOs. 2006:55). there was only one labour union during Suharto.” Red-plate refers to car number plates which belong to the government. Bingo (business and industry NGOs). et al. for example.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. service delivery. working in the advocacy sector. 2006:208). however. which may be related to the change in donor priorities to involve the government in democracy assistance programs (Aspinall 2010). Nyman notes that president Habibie in 1998 established a civil society committee. labour unions. and professional organizations) which receive their funding mostly from membership fees and business activities (2006:38). They are painfully dependent on foreign funding (CSI Index. 2006:38. as they are founded by corporations as part of an attempt to engage in window-dressing or receive funding. “Although the era of reform has been in swing for the past eight years. 2010:14). NGOs are mushrooming in Indonesia since 1998 and in Aceh especially since the tsunami. A major current issue for NGOs is their own sustainability. still the LSM-label can be very attractive for some actors. 2006:19).) Mencuri uang rakyat16 kajian korupsi di Indonesia Jakarta: Aksara Foundation 269 They talk about “non-membership-based CSOs” such as NGOs. for example” (CSI Index.’ in: Hamid Basyaib. ‘buku 4.(eds. now there are 40 at the national level and more at the regional level. 2008:38). The CSI Index reports that the relations between civil society and government are considered to be more confrontational than cooperative.g. with little in the way of seeking compromise through lobbying and negotiation.Index. NGO representatives tend to be young university-educated people for whom advocacy has become a profession (Aditjondro. 2007:126/130). Aspinall.

such as fundamentalist Islamic groups in society or particular individuals in government positions. (4) stigmatization. such as the lack of a philantropical tradition. we turn to the policies and actions that we have identified as restricting the space that NGOs have. In addition.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 . 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. As Indonesia has become a success story of democratization. The period just after 1998 is usually referred to as the period in which most space was available.271 Apart from changed donor priorities. donors are retreating from Indonesia. In 2003. 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. HRW signals a trend in “regressive policies aimed at curtailing political dissent in 270 The Jakarta Commitment. In general. has lost half of its income during the past 3-4 years (2010:13). In contradiction to this general assessment by the NGO representatives that were interviewed for this study. and emphasis is now placed upon governance and strengthening of government institutions instead of the heavy focus on civil society organizations and advocacy. available at http://www. We discuss (1) repression and intimidation.”270 Aspinall indicates that fear exists that this emphasis on partnership with the government will stifle critical voices. These observations were echoed in our interviews with NGO representatives. all NGOs that we have spoken with assessed their space to have increased dramatically compared to the Suharto era. Aspinall reports that for example ICW. (5) pressure on spaces of dialogue.” a set of principles emphasizing country ownership over development programs. but this space is generally also described as chaotic. Space is more regulated and structured now than just after the 1998 regime change. (2) In this section. over the past five years NGOs in Jakarta generally do not report any significant changes. we have described the development and main features of Indonesian civil society and the place of NGOs therein. and a small middle class (2010:14). 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. NGO dependence on donors is becoming a major issue as donors are shifting their priorities and less funding is available for civil society. and NGOs emphasize the unique opportunities they view with respect to collaboration with the government.antarantt.for NGOs to raise money within Indonesia. (3) administrative measures. Restrictive policies and actions In the previous section. This is all in the spirit of the “Jakarta Commitment. to adopt the principles of aid effectiveness as articulated in the Paris Declaration as adapted to Indonesia's country context. He writes that many NGOs told similar stories and we also received similar complaints. various reports on human rights signal a trend of shrinking space. and to adopt the Jakarta Commitment moving forward with the implementation of this roadmap. no taxdeductability for donations to a non-profit organization. the major anticorruption NGO.

the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) observes an increasing threat to the freedom of expression. and the inaction on the part of the government to punish perpetrators of such violence. 2010:1).273 ICCO-partner KontraS reported that their office was destroyed in such a public demonstration. Notable exceptions exist. Threats are quite common and various NGO staff members reported that they receive intimidating phone calls. More recently. LBH Aceh reported in one instance that by taking threats to the police. accountability: corruption and human rights violations. 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. police violence against protesters and criminal charges of "disobedience" (2009:2). Thus. the restrictions still seem minor in comparison to the Suharto regime which is still fresh in everyone’s memory. Jakarta 274 Interview with author. the threats stopped. In 2003. 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. secondly. gay. even though no investigations or arrests occurred. Former ICCO-partner Imparsial is part of a network of 50 HRD-organizations and reported that all of these organizations receive threats. bisexual and transgender people. and NGOs who work on very sensitive issues such as LGBT.272 and pluralism. Threats are usually received by phone. and thirdly. opinion. Interview with author. The interaction between restrictive actions and policies in these areas will be explored in the next section “On-the-job trouble. 31 March 2010. We have identified three major areas of NGO-work where operational space is at times severely restricted: firstly. are the very vocal human rights NGO (such as Imparsial and Kontras). Many NGOs reported to have filed complaints about threats with the police. issues or rights. as well as keep an eye on potential negative developments in the future. Imparsial experienced public demonstrations in front of their office. sensitive issues in relation to religion: gender. and even if they are affected. These threats can even become quite frequent. Courts are 272 273 LGBT is an acronym that stands for lesbian. Jakarta 109 . such as the murder in 2004 of human rights activist Munir. 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. LGBT. land conflicts. not all NGOs are directly affected by these measures. and assembly because of “*a+llegations of criminal defamation against human rights activists.Indonesia” (HRW. 1 April 2010. This is particularly so because despite the confidence in the Indonesian democracy expressed by donors and the Indonesian government. 2003:2). whereas NGOs generally enjoy ample operational space to do their work.” 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. His death exemplifies both the real lethal threat to activists. Police inaction in the investigation of threats is common. the director of then ICCO-partner IMPARSIAL. The apparent contradiction should probably be explained by the fact that whereas restrictive measures are indeed increasing. Most of our interlocutors reported that these threats are very rarely followed up by actual physical attacks. either by SMS or by post. 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.

275 In other instances. 2009:3).276 Several NGOs mentioned that they do not receive threats.280 Activists in rural areas are more likely to suffer from actual violence. and criminal organizations. 1 March 2010. Amsterdam 110 . torture is not criminalized in Indonesia.highly ineffective in Indonesia. injuries. summary and arbitrary execution. 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). For example ICCO-partner Gerak Aceh and LBH (Legal Aid) Aceh argue that they have never dropped a case because of threats. however. 279 http://www. politicians. 2004:5). as it has ratified the Convention against Torture in October 1998 (AHRC. Some NGOs mentioned the role of “preman” in local land issues but also in relation to labour issues. or significantly altered the way an NGO operates. in the case of human rights violations.278 In October 2010. Violence is a method commonly used by the military. a human rights worker for ELSAM. there might be a specific unwillingness to prosecute. this was only criminalized in November 2009).ece/Jakarta_erkent_martelen_Papua_s%2C_straft_militairen 280 Interview with author. 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 Indonesia is under the obligation to criminalize it. respectively 6 and 7 April 2010. enforced disappearance. (In the” A “preman” is a small criminal who in exchange for a payment resolves the dirty business of political leaders (Schulte Nordholt. the police. Banda Aceh Interviews with author.277 Freedom House similarly reports of physical attacks by “thugs” against human rights groups who are critical of military abuses. For example. Violence also occurs in the context of land 275 276 Interviews with author. the NGO representative of ICCO-partner Tikar Pandan reported that the military was driving around his office. because they consciously operate carefully without provoking anyone. the UN Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders (HRD) notes that HRD can suffer from “extrajudicial. the AHRC (2009:3) reports about West Papua that there is “on-going military violence. This system has not changed in the Reformasi period. most of which is conducted to intimidate suspected independence activists. video images were released that showed the torture of Papuans by the Indonesian military.” In 2004. specifically in conflict-ridden and militarized areas such as Papua. and killings are widespread in Indonesian society. and peasants involved in land disputes (2006). threats. 2007:17). Community leaders (of GROs) are more frequently threatened than professional NGOs in urban areas. This occurred for example in the cases of ICCO-partners Flower Aceh and YRBI in Aceh. respectively 5 and 6 April 2010. 2008:44 and 110). torture and ill-treatment” (UN Special Representative. While this is a general problem. threats have caused an NGO to leave an area. thus avoiding those risks (this will be further discussed below in “responses”). 278 Surprisingly. labor activists.nrc. Indicating the severity of this violence. was reportedly beaten by the police (RFK. Banda Aceh 277 The spokesperson from Demos told that businessmen sometimes contract preman. As a background to the use of threats and violence it is important to know that the New Order was characterized by “premanism. As an example of experienced and http://www. In general. 279 The experiences of urban NGOs can be quite different from what communities suffer in distant regions. Even though many NGOs have reported to receive threats.

human rights advocates reported of intimidation and harassment shortly after the proceedings in the Constitutional Court. 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). FBR (Forum Betawi Rempug). Equivalent Institute. 2008 at the National Monument (Monas) in Jakarta. HTI and FUI. Human Rights Watch.284 Here we can observe that the protection of space can become a new source of contention. No physical violence occurred but the psychological threat was On the same day.unhcr. 2007:17). and the Muslims Forum (FUI). see for example. and the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) and Demos 285 http://iglhrc. Imparsial. Some activists were wounded.html [accessed 24 May 2010] 283 http://www. but also importantly some mass 10 June 2008. and had to be rushed to the hospital. Various NGO representatives we spoke with reported that physical harassment generally occurs when the police remove peasants or arrests them.disputes. most activists we spoke with were more worried about the impact of non-state actors. She described it as “demoralizing. PBHI. 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. In one violent incident in 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. Indicating the absence of adequate state response. Whereas the police and the military are at times involved in cases of physical violence. 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. on Wednesday.html 284 Desantara.vhrmedia. She was present during that conference in Surabaya. which consists of a number of NGO activists. 2010. Elsam. Hizbut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). the police cancelled an LGBT conference in Surabaya due to pressure of Islamist fundamentalist groups. when illegitimate violence against peasants occurs.282 The National Alliance for Freedom of Religion and Beliefs (AKBB). 111 .” Many staff 281 282 Pancasila is the state ideology (Nyman 2006:36).285 An interviewee who was present at the site reported that a group of fundamentalists was banging on the outside of the conference hall. 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. such as preman. For a report on the incident and its aftermath. NGO representatives reported that there are never criminal cases against policemen. Monica Tanuhandaru. at the most there are ‘administrative’ cases leading for example to a suspension. such as FPI (Islamic Defenders Front). March 24.wordpress. dated June 1. project coordinator with the IOM. Indonesia: Reverse Ban on Ahmadiyah Sect. Various NGOs have made an alliance in the petition for judicial review of a law on blasphemy (PNPS Act 1/1965). available at: http://www. This incident was st also related in an interview with the author on March 31 in Jakarta with one of the activists.” Such an attack occurred for example during a peaceful protest in the context of the birth of Pancasila281. which contained members of the FPI. were attacked by Laskar Islam Defenders (LPI). In interviews. Other incidents occurred in the course of legal proceedings.

2007:10). creating the possibility that the law is used against a wide variety of protest actions. religious fundamentalists or unknown opponents. 2007:118. 2009:18). A more significant hurdle than counter terrorism measures are various provisions from the Indonesian Penal Code that are used against NGO staff. Grassroots community leaders are much more likely to experience actual violence in confrontation with the police. such as the martial law that gave the military control over governance in Aceh. The activists were released. see also ICG. or damage or destruction to strategic vital installations or public or international facilities. 112 . Currently. on May 28th (Imparsial.” This means that also material destruction without loss of lives can be categorized as terrorism. The charge of criminal defamation is the consequence of a complaint by a third person to the police. 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. 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. 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.286 To date however. 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.” Actual violence is not commonly experienced by representatives of professional NGOs. Poso. until they have been repealed in 2006 and judged unconstitutional in 2007 respectively (UN Special Representative. In one notable exception. Their anti-terrorism activities mainly targeting Muslims have been fuelling communal sentiments and potentially exacerbated the conflicts (Aditjondro. The provisions on “insulting the president” and “hate sowing” were used quite frequently in the past (see for example HRW. the law on criminal defamation that is still on the books is used frequently against activists during recent years (AHRC.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. More important in the current Indonesian context. 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. military or non-state actors. or peasants who claim lands. 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. demand justice for past human rights violations. however. 2009:32). For example. but the case is still on-going. 2006:5-6). such as preman. Some concern existed that counter terrorism efforts might have counterproductive effects for NGO activists as well. Intimidating threats are common for all NGO representatives that work in one of the areas identified as sensitive. even though the murder of Munir is a forceful reminder that this violence is not impossible. The operational space of NGOs is of course affected by general repressive measures. 2003). there have been hardly any problems for NGO members with this legislation or with other counter terrorism measures.

receiving sentences of 20 years in prison for actions such as the raising of the Papuan national flag (AHRC. NGOs and non-violent activists can face criminal charges because of an alleged relation with separatist activities. GRO leaders in land disputes often face criminal charges. and NGOs had to give insight in their budgets and justify the source of their 287 Interview with author. the Bumi Flora Corporation in East Aceh. Particularly troubling were the arrest and convictions of five GAM-negotiators after the negotiations about Aceh failed. at the end of the 80s.http://www. 1 September 2008.288 Various professional 113 . are actually brought to court or lead to a conviction. Only in a small number of cases there is actually a trial. see also AHRC. Whereas they had not engaged in violence. 2006:4). In Indonesia. Often the organizations receive information that they will be charged with criminal defamation. AI. The operational space of NGOs is hardly affected by general measures such as antiterrorism laws.” In areas where separatist groups are active. as well as LBH Aceh and ICW. In Papua. Apart from the use of criminal charges. 6 April 2010. however.for past human rights abuses. 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. The specific use of criminal offenses such as ‘criminal defamation’ against accountability advocates restricts NGOs in their operations. 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.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. and only in two cases were there convictions (Gerak Aceh and LBH).ahrchk. 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. Various NGOs we spoke with mentioned that their staff faces charges against them for criminal defamation or have been threatened with such charges. Few defamation cases. it was argued that being high GAM officials they shared responsibility for the terrorist acts committed by the GAM (ICG. but nothing happens as the police start investigations but do not pursue them. such as theft and illegal entrance of a plantation. such as ICCO partners KontraS. In 2007. activists have been charged with subversion and treason. 2009:10. GRO leaders in Papua have faced charges of sedition and rebellion. Gerak Aceh and Imparsial. When they assisted by providing the leaflet for a rally that the farmers were organizing. 2008:2). LBH Aceh (Legal Aid Aceh) was assisting farmers in a lawsuit against a palm oil plantation. 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. 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. Banda Aceh. Eight members of LBH were convicted to a conditional sentence.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. 2007. the government started to control the NGO sector. Restrictive administrative measures Baron argues that in general in Asia the laws to regulate the NGO-sector are driven by national security concerns (2002). HRW. 2009:8-9).

2006:35). anti violence. PSHK writes that “*t+here is actually nothing new in the content of this regulation. The law also places undue restrictions on international funding to NGOs. transparency. This indeed is also the case in Indonesia. CIVICUS reports that in 2002. CO must be registered with the Department of Home Affairs. 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. some NGOs are anticipating trouble and 289 “The code of ethics mainly governs the issues related to the integrity.291 This law has very strict provisions. Just like in other countries. 2008:14-15). accountability.income (Schulte Nordholt.’ Nyman writes that foundations were not perceived as a threat by Suharto because they lacked mass membership (2006:51). and provides assistance to foreign parties that are damaging to the interests of the State and the Nation” (PSHK. in Indonesia. Tax Exemption is given to surplus money. 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). Only some donations such as for national disasters are considered tax deductible. In the Law on Tax Income.293 During Suharto most NGOs registered as ‘foundations’ (yayasan) because of the potential repression faced by ‘associations. and donor institutions). NGOs as ‘associations’ are still governed by a law which stems from 1985. NGOs have set up mechanisms of self-regulation. 291 Article 14 Law No. other government institutions. among NGOs and the general public” (ibid.” 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. several NGOs established an umbrella organization and a code of ethics which was signed by 252 NGOs (CSI Index. 2008:37). 2006:4950). This law gives incentives in the form of Tax Exemption and Tax Deduction for activities in the non-profit sectors. independence. As Baron points out. gender equality. registration of NGOs is compulsory. In 2008 a law on income tax was enacted (PSHK 2008:8). Since the law on foundations has been enacted in 2004 (PSHK. however to obtain tax-deductability is more complicated and restrictive (2002). 2008:5).” It is not clear though whether this conclusion is entirely correct.). enabling the government to dissolve an NGO when it “conducts any activities that disrupt security and public order.290 Two laws create the legal framework for NGOs: a 1985 law on ‘associations’ and a 2004 law on ‘foundations. 8 Year 1985 on Community Organizations 292 This law also addresses “assistance and receiving foreign funding” (PSHK. 290 This confusion is related to the distinction between tax exemption and the possibility of obtaining taxdeductability for donations. PSHK writes that “*i+n order to be able to receive assistance from foreign parties. government. as registration for NGOs is not compulsory. financial management (including the responsibility towards beneficiaries. receives assistance from foreign parties without Government’s approval. It is also possible to operate without any registration (CSI Index.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). 2008:9).’ NGOs can thus obtain legal status as an association (membership-based) or a foundation (nonmembership based). donations and or grants received or obtained by non-profit bodies or agencies in the field of education and/or research and development. and criteria for registration contain ideological elements and adherence to a subjective code of morality that appear to be unjustified and intrusive.” There is still an obligation to seek government’s approval before receiving assistance from foreign parties. generally there is tax exemption for NGOs.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. 114 . PSHK is more worried because the law is still on the books and therefore can be used if that is deemed necessary. Donations for NGOs are generally not tax deductible. Further.

Many international NGOs experience restrictions when they want to work in Papua. 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. At this moment PBI is one of the few international organizations still present in Papua. money-laundering (as many foundations were founded by Suharto and his family to function as money laundering covers). but fear exists that the government may suddenly use administrative laws to restrict NGOs. they need permission from the Islamic scholars. Whereas some NGOs have changed their status to ‘association’ because they perceived the new law on foundations as a potential threat. particularly with respect to their field office is in Papua. Different government employees asked them many times to submit information and letters in order to obtain the necessary permit. you do need to notify the police. 22 April 2009 http://www. In April 2009 the Indonesian government denied the ICRC access to Papua. Some NGOs in Banda Aceh 296 Interview with author. ensuring that the event is not dangerous for the Islam. 299 Interview with author. Amsterdam 115 . These analysts emphasize that the possibilities for restriction have not been used against bona fide NGOs.296 They changed their legal status and became a national foundation (instead of an international organization). however. 2008:12). 30 March 2010. but since January 2010 they have failed to obtain the permit at all. along with a suspicion that their work in Papua would not be what they were saying it is. Administrative regulations of demonstrations and public activities In general.’294 No one seems to know whether that is indeed a good decision. 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). However.295 The goal of the new law was to make those abusive foundations responsible and accountable to the public. Jakarta 297 From the PBI Evaluation 2008:25-26 298 See Reuters. reported that they do face restrictions on public activities. They have experienced delays in permits before. 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 LBH Aceh reported that often when the police 294 295 For example ICW changed its legal status._CH_. as they reported severe problems regarding their travel permits in Papua and visa for their volunteers. 1 March 2010. but it was never entirely impossible. March/April 2010. and the channelling of charity money to terrorist purposes. HRW 2010 reports that not only the ICRC field office in Papua but also in Banda Aceh had to close. PBI reported that the “western” label was used against them frequently in this context. and you don’t need a permit. other NGO representatives argue that the new 2004 law is good and supposed to counter corruption.2400. 297 Uncertainty about their legal status is currently identified as one of the major challenges. in Indonesia you are free to organize demonstrations. Interviews with author. It is not clear whether this actually solved their problems or just created other problems. Jakarta.therefore changing their status from a ‘foundation’ into an ‘association. In addition. Government officials would insinuate that PBI would abuse its access to help separatists and expose the government in international publications.

programs related to pluralism. 6 April 2010. NGOs in Aceh sometimes are restricted in their ability to organize public meetings. NGO leaders reported this stigma. For example. For example. Despite fears to the contrary. Indonesian people in general are not familiar with these organizations and as a result. When permission is not sought. as this easily can and sometimes is used against them with the argument that they are executing a hidden foreign agenda. This labeling is attributed mostly to the military and some government officials. Stigmatization In a striking difference with the open and welcoming attitude towards the NGO-sector in the Philippines. public trust in them is low. Interview with author. 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. In addition. even though at least in case of the 2004 law the reasons for those potential restrictions are genuine. are also frequently branded as tools of foreign propaganda. and the urban nature of NGOs and trade unions. As a result of the stigma NGOs can get questions where their money comes from or communities can refuse to work with the NGO. Only one NGO reported actual problems because of their legal status. together with statutes. to the extent that their values and goals are inappropriate to their domestic base. Therefore. ICCO partner Do Karim reported that also the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘secular’ have a negative connotation in Aceh. both of which are potentially restrictive. it can perhaps be understood why civil society.want to disturb a rally or a meeting. 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. but the ‘western’ stigma does affect those NGOs that work on religious issues. Due to differences in values. they claim that the demonstration or meeting was not properly notified with the police. They are supposed to be western puppets. CSI Index (2006:9) also reported the general stigmatization of the NGO sector as a whole: “Civil society. LBH reported that sometimes the police request to be present during public meetings. from NGOs for organizing workshops and seminars.” Most NGOs we interviewed claimed that this general suspicion does not affect them much. particularly NGOs. 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. suspicion in Indonesia is directed towards the NGO-sector as a whole. have for a long time now been built up on foreign aid. but also importantly to religious fundamentalists who for example claim that NGOs are related to Satan. especially NGOs. including the people and government. and NGOs that work closely with Muslim communities.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. Banda Aceh 116 . which created problems for their operations in Papua. 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. Without exception. the administrative framework does not seem to cause NGOs any problems. 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. ICCO partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan reported that they are careful not to emphasize that they receive foreign funding.

In one specific case the Head of State Intelligence Agency publicly classified human rights organizations Imparsial. there are specific instances where NGOs suffer from negative labels because of their activities.” When one NGO is accused of sympathies for rebels. Apart from this general stigma against the NGO-sector as such.” The Front relied upon a new law issued by Habibie which forbids any activity to disseminate communism (2007:119).302 Also pro-labour activists suffer from the communist stigma as well as advocates of land reform. (2) market reform to change the cheaper incoming products. during martial law in Aceh. AI. the affected NGOs emphasize a good communication strategy. people suspected of relations to the GAM and land rights activists have been found to be labelled as terrorists. which has serious consequences for their space.” The UN Special Representative reports that these organizations were accused of receiving foreign aid and assisting separatist movements (2007:17). 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. this puts other NGOs in a difficult spot. Also. Interview of author on April 8. 2007). Stigmatization is an issue for almost all Indonesian NGOs. there is (was) the specific risk for NGOs to be associated with the rebels. The ‘communist’ label is another stigma still used today against various activists (Aditjondro. and the changing of names of their programs. 2008:2). 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. AHRC (2009:12) reports that there may have been deliberate stigmatization of Papua activists by staging fake “resistance attacks. She views this stigma as a deliberate attempt to undermine the credibility of these allegations of abuse. For example. In Papua.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. still in force. for example from China. 2010 in Jakarta 117 . They all face the negative label of executing a ‘western’ agenda. a low profile of western donors. there is the specific danger for activists to be labelled as “separatists. They asked for revision of the statement. In Papua. KPA reported that as a way to counter this stigma they decided to talk about “agrarian reform” instead. 301 302 Interview with author. human rights defenders have been stigmatized as insufficiently nationalist. (3) access reform to seeds and fertilizers. 303 Agrarian reform means three things: (1) land reform. Imparsial filed a civil case against this military officer.301 Whereas the unaffected NGOs claim not to do anything about the negative label. 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). 1 March 2010. NGOs and GROs face the risk to be labelled as sympathizers of separatists. For some NGOs this label seriously restricts their operational space. now the case is pending before the Supreme Court. Amsterdam Law No 27/1999 signed by President Habibie on 19 May 1999. KontraS and Elsam as “radical. not publicizing their logo.303 In the (former) conflict areas of Aceh and Papua. but lost this case in the lower court and appeal. to return lands to communities that were evicted by Suharto often without compensation.

“They appreciate us. particularly NGOs working with land rights and anticorruption. Indeed. we discuss the possibilities of collaboration with the government. advisors from the governor approached them to stop demonstrations against a cement factory. they were doing the work that the government should do. Nyman similarly notes that both Indonesian scholars and activists “stress the need for increasing cooperation between the state and civil society” (2006:208). For example. 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. that by doing this. Various NGOs have expressed particular concern about the tactics used by companies to win communities over for their commercial enterprises. spaces of dialogue can be abused when counterparts of NGOs use violence or bribes. Thirdly. spaces of dialogue can be transformed into ‘fake spaces’ as NGO contributions are received but not used. sometimes civil society actors are still excluded from decision-making. “With the transition. 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. spaces of dialogue can fail to be used adequately as NGOs don’t manage to sustain their institutional capacity and attract good leaders.” says the HuMA representative. They participate for example in the preparation of laws.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. 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. but it’s very hard for us to do our basic work of collecting data and monitoring of corruption’ (2010:13). especially some of the NGOs in Jakarta. Secondly. Increased cooperation between donors and the government can effectively enable the government to decrease funding for critical NGOs. have reported efforts of their opponents to negotiate and offer bribes. 118 . 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. because sometimes consultation with civil society actors is only done because of a requirement by a multilateral donor like the World Bank. NGOs reported that they felt they had a genuine influence because of this cooperation. as ICCO-partner HuMA pointed out. Despite this increased collaboration and participation. Firstly.” In this section. 305 The CSI Index (2006:55) similarly reports about criticisms regarding aid that mining companies give to local NGOs at the company site. you are going to be arrested. In some instances. it turns out to be only a “formal” consultation. in the working group on REDD304 there is no representation of civil society. and “if you continue your work. Other mechanisms threaten the institutional capacity of NGOs.” they say. They were told that their activities were negative for the investors. 305 ICCO-partners such as AMAN and HuMA cooperate actively with the government. In another example. This is also recognized by Aspinall (2010). everything became more complicated. We also identify three limitations on the spaces of dialogue that have opened up. the government itself asks explicitly for assistance. They take full advantage of the opportunities that are currently offered to NGOs and their leaders. now the GAM looks at NGOs with more suspicion and can perceive them as a threat. however. For example. who cites an NGO representative complaining about donors: ‘Now they just come to us if they want a report. In one case. see Steni (2010).

Jakarta For more information on this working group for the TRC see for example Braithwaite (2010:37).306 As HuMA has its own source of funding it can operate independently from the government. especially ones that might criticise the government. but he emphasizes that at this point the collaboration in itself is more important than the future results. because he had written the law himself. he drafted a law for the TRC. 8 April 2010. 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). When he asked for clarification about the delays regarding the TRC in a public meeting. so he knew that they were working on it. 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.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. there is little money for accountability for past human rights abuses. In one instance. In this regard. because of their criticism of the US mining companies Freeport McMoRan and NewMont (2007:129). but the willingness to actually create the TRC is lacking. Banda Aceh 309 As an illustration of the restrictive influence donors can have. to silence his demands for action on the TRC. and that their input is having an 306 307 Interview with author. 308 Interview with author. He felt that at that point his cooperation was being used against him. 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. HuMA indicates that for example in their suggestions for a regulation. The HuMA spokesperson mentions. on request by the governor. the spokesperson of the government replied that he should not ask about that. He describes also that two US ambassadors put pressure on USAID to cut funding to Walhi and Jatam (Anti Mining Advocacy Network). 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.307 But since they submitted the draft in November 2008 nothing has happened.they offered in dialogues. It is clearly viewed as an opportunity that should be grabbed. Aspinall (2010:17) writes that Walhi decided not to accept funds as they did not want “to be dictated to. in Indonesia most NGOs report collaboration with the government and are thus far optimistic about the process. donors are shifting their focus from NGOs to governance assistance and closely cooperating with the Indonesian government from the planning phase. 6 April 2010.309 For example. that they want to take this “government space” that is now offered. Aditjondro describes that the Ford Foundation was involved in censoring environmentalist activists regarding US mining companies (2007:123). He feels that they were asked to draft the law just so the governor could say he was working on the TRC. the Elsam representative pointed out that whereas there is money available for the improvement of the law-making process. NGOs point to the significant difference compared to the Suharto time.” 119 . 2010). He thinks it is too soon to tell whether or not this collaboration indeed yields positive results. These shifts in priorities are especially noteworthy as these decisions are currently often made in close cooperation and consultation with the Indonesian government (Aspinall. With a working group. As discussed above. several parts were indeed adopted.

we discussed the various restrictions that NGOs in Indonesia face in their work. 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. In this section we turn to those specific contexts in which NGOs those restrictions occur and come together to hamper NGOs in their work. 120 . but interviewees complained that these competing NGOs barricade the real issue instead of solving it. NGOs observed that competing NGOs were receiving money from the local government in order to function as a broker with communities. 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. which resulted in his village losing all strength. thus decreasing the sustainable capacity of NGOs to be strong actors in spaces of dialogue. Points of concern are the combination of negotiation. Above. the actors that are responsible for the restrictions. which seems especially prevalent with respect to NGOs who level accountability accusations and GRO leaders engaged in struggles regarding natural resources. NGO representatives reported great concern for their space in this regard. we have identified three areas of claim-making in which the operational space of NGOs is under pressure. In other instances. corporations. On the job trouble In the previous section. Whereas most human rights reports provide a broad overview of the various violations that citizens suffer. In this section. We look at (1) NGOs demanding accountability for corruption and past human rights violations.effect on the nature of democracy assistance” (2010:8). LGBT. The quality of spaces of dialogue depends heavily on the strength and sustainability of NGOs as well as the capacities of their leaders. 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. This leads to frustration regarding good community leaders who get a political post. bribery and intimidation. 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. This analysis enables us to address for each of these working areas. and (3) decreasing space for NGOs working on issues of gender. One NGO asserted that political parties like to recruit from well-known social movements. 2010). In general. (2) peasants and indigenous people (re-)claiming land. it is our aim to indicate how this context of limitations actually impacts the work that NGOs are doing. for example in a specific case in South Sumatra where a leader became senator. we already indicated that NGO sustainability is a real issue in Indonesia due to donor dependency. NGO representatives expressed their concern because of the competition that NGOs founded by the government. optimism about the benefits of collaboration with the government far exceeds negative experiences regarding cooperation. and pluralism.

The staff member refused the bribe. This example indicates that the use of violence is not necessarily prevalent. however. totaling 120 hectares for the farmers. the combination of negotiation and the offering of benefits to leaders. In 2001. the judge that convicted Tommy Suharto for corruption and refused to accept a bribe of $200. ICCO-partner Permata argues that this practice. The company asked him to calm down the people and the company succeeded to acquire the lands. When ICCO-partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandanin Aceh organized a demonstration. In this context. but acquitted on appeal. it is not surprising that NGO 121 . Permata. However. whereas 60 households got 2 ha each. He was tried in 1999 for a case of fraud. However. The Gerak staff told him that if he wanted to talk. For example in 2007 in Abdya. Do Karim and Tikar Pandan rejected and claimed that they didn’t want money. but demanded the BRR to be building houses instead of wasting it on a cooking competition. the BRR offered them money. is very frequent in land conflicts as well.CASE BOX: combinations of negotiation. with the advantage of the guise of legality. The surrounding communities approached ICCO partner Gerak Aceh to discuss the issue. Accountability: corruption and human rights violations Keeping influential people accountable can be very dangerous as is illustrated by the case of “Tommy” Suharto. thus taking advantage of the farmers. He wanted to negotiate and offered a bribe. bribes and intimidation Many times. NGOs reported that corporations or other actors offered bribes to them or to GRO leaders. the threats never materialized. That is when they started receiving threats. as they were critical of the way in which the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR) spent its money after the tsunami. there was a bomb attack in Jakarta (2008:76). And the case regarding the bridge was sent to the police. and the leader argued that thus the deal was beneficial to the farmers. For example. the contractor didn’t finish the bridge. the BALCompany (palm oil plantation) approached the head of the district.000 hectares out of the deal. The farmers were offered 2 ha per household. 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 convicted at first. But the contractor insisted on meeting in private at another location. Gerak went to the media and exposed the fact that the contractor did not finish his job. because the elite have other means to acquire the land. argues that the company got more than 1. supposedly in order to stop the demonstration. in South-west Aceh. he could come to the office. in 2007 in Aceh there was a bridge that was in the process of construction. Schulte Nordholt reports that every time that Tommy was interrogated or had to appear for a judge.000 was killed in broad daylight in Jakarta (2008:108).

com/news/2010/07/08/antigraft-activist-attacked-severely-injured. and other areas. 29 March 2010. Anti-corruption NGOs Gerak Aceh and ICW have faced criminal charges of criminal defamation. non-discrimination and individual or State responsibility” (2006:31). 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). is denounced by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International. including. KontraS. Twitter) are important in supporting NGO claims for government accountability. 310 311 Imparsial. 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. fairness. Gerak Aceh. Case Box: Accountability for human rights violations Many NGOs are involved in the struggle to create accountability for human rights violations. such as ICW and Gerak Aceh. the military court system is responsible. 2010. and/or criminal defamation charges. Recently. such as social networks (Facebook.312 It should be noted that the media. East-Timor. This judgment is echoed by Linton. as well as NGOs demanding accountability regarding past human rights violations (such as ICCO partner KontraS and Imparsial). 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). ‘Anti-graft activist attacked. and not on a counter-claim of criminal defamation. threats. 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. both mainstream and alternative media. 8 July 2010 http://www. it is common that they receive offers of bribes or negotiation about the charges.representatives310 frequently mentioned that when they demand accountability from high government officials or powerful economic actors. 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). and ICW Batus BT Saragih. she wrote a letter to the police pointing out to them this priority rule. but also this court is alleged to be “ineffective” (AHRC 2009:25).311 The opponents of NGOs in this category tend to be military officials or government officials in the national or local government. LBH. NGOs that work in this terrain of accountability are anti-corruption NGOs. such as justice. Papua. Jakarta 122 . sometimes combined with intimidation. Along similar lines. The continuing impunity in Indonesia for human rights violations committed in Aceh. When one of the employees of ICW was summoned for questioning on possible criminal defamation charges (HRW.thejakartapost. an anti-corruption activist got severely injured.” In cases of involvement of the military. severely injured’ in: The Jakarta Post.html [accessed 5 August 2010] 312 Interview with author. 2010:4). who is highly critical of the state efforts for genuine accountability.

Regional governments were for example allowed to earn their money by giving out licenses for logging until 100 hectares. and that neither threats nor charges of criminal defamation will impede them to do their work. most importantly due to frequent threats and charges of criminal defamation. that people involved with the military were implicated in the murder. and providing legal. such as minerals. In addition. water. nothing has occurred regarding the available evidence. Every hour 300 soccer fields of rain forest are lost in Indonesia. Aceh.318 NGOs and community organizations (GROs) play important roles in representing and assisting communities. HRW Alert. he received a sentence of 20 years in prison. conflicts about ownership.313 Munir died on a flight from Jakarta to the Netherlands because of poisoning. These resources are subject to various. the former chief of Indonesian airline Garuda was sentenced to one year in prison (Freedom House 2009) 316 HRW 2010. but then the case was not pursued. ‘Jakarta police launch criminal defamation investigation against rights activist’ 16 September 2009. 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. Also. http://www.ifex. 31 March 2010. 123 . 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. 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. Jakarta 318 Schulte Nordholt writes that the environment was one of the biggest victims of the decentralization process in Indonesia (2008:120).314 A fact-finding mission carried out by a commission set up by the government suggested the involvement of the military. none of the NGOs in Aceh who work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) reported problems in this regard. 313 As a noteworthy exception. This happened a lot. the former head of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) was acquitted of the charges against him (Freedom House 2009). In December 2008. and Papua. and as of now the founding seems actually effectively stalled.Even though most activists reported that threats are not followed by action. They offered as explanation that this might be because the TRC has not been founded yet. distribution. and oil. Land conflicts Indonesia has many valuable resources. making claims. forests. 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). 315 In 2008.317 NGOs operating in the field of accountability can experience severe limitations on their space. 73% of the 192 million hectares forest has been lost (ibid 2008:121). such as local elites who want access to government positions and exploitation permits319. often 317 Interview of author with KontraS representative. land. Hamid was summoned by the police. material or psychological assistance. In this struggle they face various other actors. 319 Aditjondro reports that local government has the authority to approve or reject any investment plan in their regions.316 The police however did not continue that case. and exploitation. which according to him leads local government leaders to act as protectors of national and transnational business interests (2007:129). whereas a Garuda pilot has been sentenced because of the murder315. military. informational. As a founder of KontraS and the executive director of Imparsial.

in this section we focus exclusively on land disputes and the restrictions that communities face as they attempt to exert a land claim. 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. Due to limited space and because many of our interviewees were involved in land disputes. militias and private security services who provide ‘protection’ but often participate in the exploitation of resources320. A large proportion of lands have been designated as state forest and is thus automatically state-owned land. but can get very restricting in the details of the regulations. it is made very hard to become recognized as an indigenous group. The regulation requires that the traditional structures of the community are still intact. In these beginning years of the Reformasi. The communities applying for recognition thus get often rejected. In 1998 many communities started to reclaim those lands by entering the land and cultivating it. NGOs involved in agrarian reform (HuMA. but because of interventions such as the removal off the lands. In practice. 2010:4). 2010:3). report that the problem in Indonesia is more complicated. 321 The experiences related in this section are very similar for claims regarding natural resources in general. Ardiansyah of the Institute for National and Democratic Studies reports of more than thousand cases of land grabbing during the Suharto era (2008). over the rights of the indigenous people that may be living there (Steni. To solve this issue. and the agency responsible for permits and concessions. 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. legislator. 2009:10-11). 320 During Suharto. communities were able to do this in relative freedom. KPA. this state control has led to massive exploitation of the forest (Steni. companies paid 20-25% of their profits to the military or local bureaucracy to ensure their security and access to their land. which the Suharto regime interpreted as having exclusive authority. concessions. Some laws are quite good. AMAN has started the process to draft a law on Indigenous People. Another problem with the legislation is that different laws are in conflict with each other. It is however useful to give some insight into the legal challenges that communities face as they exert land claims. the state as an important landowner. criminal organizations. For example. and AMAN). Customary land rights are a subject in themselves and have been addressed by various scholars such as McWilliam (2006). whereas the general right of indigenous people to obtain their lands is laid down in laws. and the exploitation of lands in Indonesia. and national and international corporations with plans and projects to exploit resources. According to Steni. 124 . preman. this structure has often disappeared over time. Whereas in the Philippines the laws are reported to be great but implementation is lacking. 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).police.

There is fear in communities. in another incident 12 people were shot (not fatal).Because the communities lack legal certificates. 2005). as many members of ICCO partner PRAXIS are communities of peasants and peasant organizations. which is the reason they never file a case in court about the land they claim. KPA tells that in 2009 three people were shot dead in Sumatra by the police. The KPA spokesperson says that it frustrates him that human rights organizations often are only interested in human rights violations like torture and violence. 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. the communities that do can face physical harassment and/ or arrest.323 They charge these communities with the specific provision from the relevant act which prohibits “illegal entry” to the forestry land. but they emphasize that the communities they work with suffer from these restrictions of their space. and corporations in these cases often involves a combination of threats. 8 April 2010. In March 2007. they won’t win their cases in a courtroom. 325 Interview with author. This changed in March 2007 and since then the police has intervened frequently. 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. Facing communities who actively reclaim their lands through occupations.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. 125 . but that they are never placing it in the context in which those violations occur. reports the spokesperson of KPA. and criminal cases. Freedom House (2006) provides the following reference: Tutup Buku dengan "Transitional Justice"? Menutup Lembaran Hak Asasi Manusia 1999-2004 dan Membuka Lembaran Baru 2005. Many other instances related here were shared by non-ICCO partner KPA. 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. corporations still want access to the lands for which they had received the concessions.326 For 323 Many communities do not resist removal by the police. The interaction with police. Police then remove the communities. and (non-ICCO partner) ELSAM in Jakarta shared some cases with me which involved these issues. PRAXIS was able to tell about the experiences of its members. plantation. which in the case of resistance by the community often leads to violence and arrests. job loss. or mining area respectively. military. 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. the conflicts between communities and corporations had been defined as private conflicts in which the police could not intervene. (Jakarta: Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi Masyarakat [ELSAM]. Jakarta 326 ICCO partners in Aceh YRBI. 324 For more information on human rights violations in land expropriation.325 Urban NGOs working on land issues generally don’t face physical harassment or criminalization. bribes. The physical harassment and criminal cases have a clear effect on the mobilization of communities.322 Previously. 41-52. Permata.wordpress. physical violence.

Jakarta 126 . 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. but also longer sentences have been applied.action on the part of the community. Elsam reported to perceive an increase of criminal cases related to land disputes. the conflict desk continued its intervention by pushing the Ministry to issue a ministerial decree on the protected area.332 The operational space for urban professional NGOs working on land issues is quite free and broad. ICCO partner Permata does not experience any physical harassment in the communities where they work. a network of organizations has opened an “agrarian desk” where communities can come with their problems. 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. so that the case will be closed. HuMA. For example. Additional details about the incident were contributed by local researcher Maria Louisa Khrisnanti looked this information up in the Kendari Post (a local newspaper). 331 The incident and the work of the conflict desk were reported to me by the spokesperson of HuMA. After the fall of Suharto. the community decided to enter the land and start cultivating it again (the teakwood had already been cut). In other instances. It should be noted that not all organizations involved in land rights reported physical harassment. It is therefore directly related to the criminalization of the actions of peasants who reclaim lands. the cutting of trees is defined as “material destruction” leading to arrests of community leaders. Local communities and GROs. Banda Aceh 330 Conflict desks are created by National Forestry Council (DKN). government and scholars. Another good practice is the “conflict desk” that for example dealt with a conflict in southeast Sulawesi. The violence stopped as a result of their intervention. most importantly threats.330 Violence occurred against members of a community. NGOs. which during Suharto was removed from the state forestry land where they had been cultivating for years. often NGOs have a choice in their tactics and can assess their willingness to face the repressive consequences of more confrontational tactics. Members of DKN consist of communities. This is still in on-going procedure. can face a range of restrictions. Legal Aid Indonesia. In practice. In order to address the community’s demand for access to the land. Walhi. and criminal charges. Instead. 7 April 2010. 328 This was confirmed by ELSAM. 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. up to 8 years in prison. however. 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. Just as in the Philippines.329 In order to assist communities in agrarian reform. they observe the “old pattern” in which the government and corporations will negotiate with the community and offer benefits to community leaders. Often. and KPA are members of this network. 332 Interview with author.327 Also criminal defamation has been used as a charge. 8 April 2010. 329 Interview with author. the Suharto government created a teak plantation on the land. Using its ownership rights over all forestry land. the conflict desk sent a letter to the local government. The spokesperson of KPA emphasizes that it is always the leaders of communities who are the subject of criminal prosecutions. potentially accompanied by violence.331 In response. AMAN.328 The sentences tend to be between 3 and 6 months. After 2005 their presence led to violence and the community was facing criminal charges. violence.

thus rejecting a truth claim. Do Karim. such as the TIFA Foundation. the word “pluralism” has obtained a negative meaning after the fatwa by the Islamic council “MUI. a woman involved in the LGBT community.337 333 Aditjondro lists religious intolerance as one of the five major dangers to Indonesian social movement activists (2007:129). and PRAXIS. 6 April 2010. For example. and pluralism NGOs working on issues of gender. They also meet with the high Ulama to explain to them what TIFA does. They emphasize that their activities are not only about the freedom of religion. they point out that they also focus on migrant workers.Sensitive issues in relation to religion: gender. 336 Interview with author.thejakartapost. to explain that there is also in Islam a woman perspective. they show films in Arabic. and ICCO partners Flower Aceh. (3) they also invite men to the discussions. The TIFA Foundation told that for good communication they rely on local partners who know how to communicate their programs. They use a special Arabic word in their trainings.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. Religious intolerance is perceived to have increased over the past 5 years.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. for example because the word “gender” is viewed as western.”334 Also. 1 April 2010. LGBT and HIV/AIDS reported restrictions due to fundamentalist religious organizations and the religious beliefs held by to show the different visions on Islam and they issued a journal on Islamic scholars. 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 sometimes are rejected by communities. For example.335 Thus far. This definition makes that NGOs cannot use the term “pluralism” anymore without seeming blasphemous. 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. 334 See for example http://www. Banda Aceh 127 . Different NGOs in Jakarta and Aceh reported the challenges they face in this regard. RPuK. freedom of religion. For example. Jakarta 337 Interview with author. LGBT. pluralism. Tikar Pandan. the changing of terminology generally has been sufficient to keep working where they are. the TIFA Foundation reported that the term human rights is viewed as a western concept and not used in trainings. (2) they tell about the history of Aceh in which there were many women leaders. The “western” label also affects some NGOs in Aceh who work on women’s issues in communities. and certainly not about conversion from Islam. so they also understand and can practice in their own households. and the changing of names of their programs as ways of dealing with this restriction. a low profile of western donors.336 ICCO partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan use art and culture to open up space for discussion in this regard.

custom. The leader of the community could not give promises. in cooperation with for example ICCO partner RPuK has written a report on “Women Human Rights Defenders” as well as guidelines for women. sexual stigmatization. and exploitation of women’s identity” (UN Special Representative. In one community in Northern Aceh. As they had come with their children. religion. identifying ten specific vulnerabilities and types of violence that they face because they are women: “rape. based on report “Women Human Rights Defenders” by Komnas Perempuan). 6 April 2010. and as it is a very rural area. Women experience specific challenges as NGO representatives and community leaders. 2007:18. and family reputation. The resistance against gender comes from within the community. Flower Aceh received the warning that “they should not ever talk about gender here.” Specifically a traditional Islamic boarding school resisted. The community showed their traditional knives and asked Flower Aceh to leave the area. attack on women’s role as mother. even after a 128 . The National Human Rights Commission. belittlement of women’s capacity and issues. 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. NGOs often work in alliances to tackle these sensitive issues.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. marginalization and rejection based on morality. 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. even after the leader had permitted their access. they decided to leave. and they decided not to go back (interview with author. Banda Aceh). sexual harassment. culture. 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. There was panic in the Flower team. who fear that the intervention of Flower Aceh will lead the women not to behave like women anymore. At the end of 2008 in Greater Aceh. wife and children. They have to work for acceptance in the community. sexual abuse. far from any roads. corrosion of credibility based on marital status. It was very risky. mainly from the men. They reported a trauma from this incident. acknowledging that the community was close minded. The community threatened that if they wouldn’t leave the area they would burn the car. sexual terror. 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.

” 342 For example. It should be noted that since 2006 also other districts in Indonesia have enacted laws based on the Sharía (Freedom House.339 Flower Aceh tells that when they did lobby in the House of Representatives on this law. footnote 5 and 23). Radio Suara Perempuan. 2009:14.338 This network was initiated by the Gender Working Group (GWG) and involves ICCO partners Tikar Pandan.thejakartaglobe. Sikma. To date there is no significant progress. Kontras Aceh. 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. LBH Aceh. Violet Grey. AJMI. pressure the 340 Lobbies and legislative efforts from progressive and conservative groups continue to confront each other. Journalists and rights activists who criticize the law are easily stigmatized as anti-islamic” (AHRC. This incidents [sic] had caused 141 persons had to fled their homes.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. including for example Praxis. This law was aimed at monitoring and inquiring in to several alleged violations of human rights against members of the Ahmadiyah. Unfortunately. reports have stated that there was no state intervention to protect the Ahmadiyah adherents or punish the attackers. The adherents of Ahmadiyah also experienced acts of violence during the eviction” (Komnas Ham. Catholics and others.” When the lobby in the legislative failed. Flower Aceh.rape (AHRC. The representative of Flower Aceh believes this is a result of their lobby. 2009). LBH APIK Aceh. The AHRC reports that the “proposed provincial legislation (Law No. 339 The civil society network of those who care about Islamic law: NGO Coalition HAM. Schulte Nordholt reports that the Sharía law was not one of the demands of the GAM. including non-Acehnese residents and non-muslims. 2010:2). and divorce. KKP. 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. 2010:17. The governor thus far has refused to sign the law. Despite the violence. SeIA. Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) were evicted by the local community. 2008:123. 1/PNPS/ 1965 129 . the vision expressed by Demos is “the realization of society and state that respects the values of justice. inheritance. 11/2006) dictates that a raped women find four witnesses to her attack or face death by stoning for adultery. 343 Law No. Tikar Pandan. 2006:39). 2009. With this autonomy it has become possible to enact laws. This provision is part of the current efforts in Aceh to enact laws based on the Sharía. 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. and take legal actions. Sri Ratu Safiatuddin Foundation. Banda Aceh in: http://www. such as advocating a judicial review of the law on blasphemy. Protests by conservative Islamic groups have also limited progressive legislative efforts. Pusham Unsyiah.341 In 2008. This indicates that the challenge here goes beyond the specific groups that commit the violent acts. equality a well as humanism” (pamphlet about Demos). 2010:4). HRW. there is a pro-pluralism coalition constituted by Muslims. 2009:14). SP Aceh. They report to the public. the Ahmadiyah adherents in Central Lombok. NU. After protests by Islamic groups. they turned their lobby to the governor. there was a violent incident in which Ahmadiyah adherents (religious group) were evicted from their houses. *…+ The law would apply to all Indonesian's in Aceh. HRW. Braithwaite. 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. KPI. a Women Solidarity group (SP) and several others. 341 “In February and March 2006. Demos342 and Imparsial. they were accused of being “out of Islam. GWG. ACSTF. In Jakarta. RPUK.340 In 2006. the Regional Government as well as local police officers did not do anything when and after the incidents occurred. the minister of religion did not pursue the revisions. pluralism.

we will analyse systematically the various response strategies that we have encountered. 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. of which 238 were affecting followers of Ahmadiyah. 345 Interview with author.59. LGBT or pluralism can face serious limitations when they face religious organizations or community leaders who oppose their work. 1 April 2010. Counter-terrorism in Indonesia’ in: Economist. manoeuvred to operate around the restrictions or defended their space in a more confrontational style. executing a western agenda. 130 . the activists as well as the court officials had to enter the court through a specific door. Specifically interesting is the distinction between confrontational and accommodating response styles as NGOs very clearly choose a certain ‘profile.’ This choice is related to a risk assessment. In 2008 they reported 367 violations. stigmatization in itself severely restricts operational space once it forces NGOs to withdraw from a community or change the content of their programs. which Nomura characterizes in the sector of environmentalist NGOs as participatory and egalitarian (2007:509). NGO response strategies in Indonesia can be characterized as highly coordinated. religious groups appeared with banners calling the NGO activists demons and pagans. We distinguish between reactive and proactive responses. most responses are in reaction to immediate physical threats or criminal charges. We have already given some indication of how the NGOs in these particular areas have dealt with the restrictions.religious passages. The executive director of Imparsial was called a “devil. on 17 May 2010. 1 April 2010 and the Legal Round Table (31 March 2010) in Jakarta 347 th ‘Dispense with the pieties. 344 For a detailed overview of incidents. May 22-28 2010. Whereas sometimes proactive campaigns are set up (mostly in relation to legal reform).”345 Even though the police protection in the court is deemed to be good. 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. individual versus coordinated responses. which is by far the main victim of incidents of religious intolerance. the Setara institute has published a report in which it monitors the freedom of religion and belief. Nomura also points out the tendency to create networks.’” 347 This is a clear signal from a president who has otherwise been silent on the issue of political Islam. This provision is viewed to create the basis for violence against religious groups such as Ahmadiyah. Jakarta 346 From interviews with Imparsial. NGOs working on issues of gender. In general.346 Just recently. in the case of religious sensitivity. Activists in Aceh specifically related how they moved from more accommodating styles during martial law to more confrontational strategies in the current democratic framework. and confrontational versus accommodating styles of response. During hearings in court related to this case. p. Professional NGOs are particularly targeted when they receive foreign funding and are therefore more likely to be seen as western agents. In this section. Whereas in most cases stigmatization is a problem because it can lead to criminalization or repression.344 The pro-pluralism coalition has united to call for judicial review of this law that seems to justify discrimination of Ahmadiyah adherents. Responses In the previous section.

2009). This happened for example when NGOs applied for judicial review of the law on blasphemy. Various NGOs reacted positive to the suggestion of receiving training on HRD Guidelines. The NGO community in Jakarta does have the capacity. we have encountered some accommodating instances where NGOs practice forms of self-censorship to avoid trouble and be able to continue doing their work. Often a clear chronology is missing and their language is too bombastic. 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. In a closed session 348 Nyman reports of a short period of liberalization during the Suharto regime specifically for media. This opened up the space and awareness for later demonstrations when these freedoms were curbed again (2006:53).348 Coordinated proactive responses occur as NGOs collaborate on specific issues in various networks. 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. In addition there is collective action (by the same coalition) for judicial review on the law on criminal defamation. Most NGOs in Indonesia. as there is a lack of lawyers. Jakarta 350 Interview with author. even though the law on criminal defamation has also led to convictions of journalists (Freedom House. 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. especially in Jakarta. 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. there is a “Security Sector Reform Network” that works on police reform. In general. and KPA) actually provide these trainings. 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. 349 Interview of author with Praxis. At the yearly meeting they exchange information about cases and share mechanisms of protection. 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.Regarding individual reactive responses. however. Some NGOs (Imparsial. LBH. 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.350 Imparsial told that every year there is a meeting of HRDs. Unfortunately. which are generally referred to as “paralegal” training. In this work they often collaborate with academics. 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. many activists speak out against what they perceive as restrictions on their work and are more confrontational. For example. 31 March 2010. 2006:52). in many instances NGOs can be observed to unite their forces and make common demands on the government. from 19891994. for example regarding laws that are about to be implemented or to repeal undesired laws. but lacks the resources to solve these issues across Indonesia or even to provide enough paralegal training. This indicates the lack of local capacity to deal with it locally.349 Thus. The press freedom and informational freedom has led to good websites and reporting. Jakarta 131 . 2006:27) and the joint advocacy about tax exemption (CSI Index.

Imparsial reported that they often assisted NGO representatives and activists from Aceh to evacuate to Jakarta to provide protection. now they are working on a fund for HRDs to support them in small things such as scholarships for their children. by unknown attackers in North Aceh. She faced possibly 6 years in jail and 1 billion IDR. The charged were dropped. 132 .352 The slogan on the pamphlet advertising this campaign reads “Protecting Human rights defender. After the murder of Munir. the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) and the Pulih Foundation. in 2007 the TIFA Foundation together with KontraS. 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. 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. One NGO leader subsequently worked as an intern at Imparsial. 1 April 2010. not by TIFA. tied to a palm tree. 2008:17). to avoid the need to bring them to Jakarta.they provide training on security issues. the Human Right Support Facilities (HRSF) which would for example enable the evacuation of HRDs within the region. 353 Interview with author. such as the support group that has taken up the fight in the Munir case. Promoting Human rights. Civil society organizations successfully defined this as an attack to free speech (Caveat.351 In the same spirit.” 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. In addition to the proactive activity to repeal the provision on criminal defamation. Since last year ICCO does not support Imparsial anymore. which is funded not by international donors. they are accused to be western puppets and they tend to be perceived as a threat. ICCO allowed Imparsial to change the destination of a part of their funding to dedicate it to the campaign around Munir. gagged and showing evidence of torture (HRF 2005:14). 2009. LBH Jakarta. started an emergency system for HRD under risk. The goal is to turn this HRD fund into a community fund. 1 April 2010. At the moment. 353 Whereas the examples above indicate some proactive initiatives. June 2009:4). but by local community donors. they conducted at least 10 evacuations from Aceh. Jakarta Because HRDs are usually volunteers. 2009) and it has also gained international prominence.355 The decision to evacuate is taken if the threat becomes specific and violent and/or when the family 351 352 Interview with author. there has been joint resistance after specific charges of criminal defamation. Caveat. as well as provide legal aid or physical health care to HRDs who really need it. For example. During the past years. Imparsial observes a lack of state protection for HRD as there is no specific recognition of HRDs. 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. He was found dead the following day. Rallies were held across the country and a famously successful campaign in Facebook was set up. 2003. one of them was the former director of Kontras Aceh. 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.354 Many organizations have reported on its progress (see for example AHRC. 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. other alliances are more reactive. The Munir case is still not closed and they need resources for the case. In response to serious threats. 355 The real need for these evacuations is demonstrated for example by the incident of a Kontras volunteer who was abducted on June 16.

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. 1 April 2010. strengthening customary law. He emphasizes that it is their responsibility to create a safe atmosphere in the community where they work and not create trouble for them. and they do not directly address the sensitive issue. In the case regarding Sulawesi in 2005 they cooperated with Walhi. several NGOs emphasized to be careful about their strategy in order not to create risk in their work. Some NGOs are very vocal about restrictions they face. various NGOs offer some form of legal counsel or representation. KPA sends reports to the police department. but instead to take their tools. Aspinall writes that 356 357 Interview with author. Civil society activists emphasize that even though Indonesia does satisfy many of the formal requirements. The NGO leader explains that just like during the conflict in Aceh one could not talk about “freedom” or “the future of the country”. they received a direct warning not to talk about illegal logging. The spokesperson of YRBI fears that even if the risk is not so much about physical harassment. Banda Aceh 133 . now one doesn’t talk about illegal logging. Jakarta Interview with author. 7 April 2010. they do not want to provoke the people. YRBI explains they do not want to seem biased. choose for a confrontational path to resist potential or actual restrictions. and Ambon. 1 April 2010. These are all examples of coordinated reactive responses. and strengthening welfare” as well as “taking care of the water and the forest. therefore Imparsial decided to focus on a proposal to demand official protection from the government for human rights defenders (see more on this below). ELSAM provides legal representation to peasants who face criminal charges in the context of land occupations and conflicts about natural resources. 360 Interview with author. When incidents occur.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. but instead talk about “caring for the forest” (in the words of ICCO partner YRBI). A few other evacuations took place from Papua. then the illegal loggers may create mistrust among the community and say negative things about YRBI. Sulawesi. Evacuations cost time though. a visit by a HR Commissioner usually has the effect that the violence stops.” This is a strategy to minimize risk of physical harassment.359 YRBI consciously uses safe language and warns communities not to use violence against illegal loggers. 359 It is suggested in various reports that illegal logging is a major problem in Indonesia. In Aceh.356 In response to the criminal charges that peasants in land conflicts suffer. even though it doesn’t solve the land dispute. They talked about “soft power” (as expressed by ICCO partner JKMA) and a strategy not to discuss illegal logging openly. In these evacuations Imparsial generally cooperated with other organizations. For example. see for example HRW threatened as well. however. 357 Agrarian Legal Aid Services is another organization of lawyers who offer legal counsel to peasants that get arrested. HR Commission358 and the relevant sector council (such as the Forestry Council). national parliament. Not all NGOs. Instead they talk about “strengthening the community. one time in Lamteuta. However. still there is a lot to do to achieve real democracy.

In Papua. widespread corruption. such as ‘criminal defamation’ against accountability advocates. Still. For some NGOs this label seriously restricts their operational space. 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. Civil society actors worry that donors are not sensitive to this. 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. even though the murder of Munir is a forceful reminder that violence is not impossible. Only one NGO reported actual problems because of their legal status. the operational space of NGOs is hardly affected by general measures such as anti-terrorism laws. 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). Finally. GRO leaders in Papua have faced charges of sedition and rebellion. partially because of great donor support. Still. Civil society in Indonesia has grown enormously since 1998. and continuing needs for a strong civil society as a counterweight to the government” (2010:12). all NGOs face the negative label of executing a ‘western’ agenda. Aspinall cites a senior human rights advocate who said about donors: ‘Of course. the worst thing at the moment is their attitude which says that democracy in Indonesia is now okay. both of which are potentially restrictive. Non-state actors such as the military. Indonesia is widely viewed as a success story of democratization. military influence. such as preman. pointing to systemic and structural problems with the character of state power.” civil society activists view the matter as “fundamentally political. religious fundamentalists or unknown opponents. restricts NGOs in their operations. regarding spaces of dialogue. in general. however. which has serious consequences for their space.many of his informants identified the corrupt and authoritarian practices within the new formal democracy (2010:11). Regarding repression and intimidation. Grassroots community leaders are much more likely to experience actual violence in confrontation with the police. Operational space for NGOs has indeed increased since the fall of the Suharto regime. religious groups and business elites play an important role in determining the operational space of NGOs. Actual violence is not commonly experienced by representatives of professional NGOs. Aspinall goes to the heart of the matter when he juxtaposes the different views about how to deepen the Indonesian democracy. Some conclusions can be drawn from this case study. and elite competition because of decentralization are important elements limiting operational space for NGOs. Regarding stigmatization. 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. Regarding criminalization. Civil society is small but cohesive in comparison to the Filipino civil society. GRO leaders in land disputes often face criminal charges. optimism about the benefits of 134 . intimidating threats are common for all NGO representatives that work in one of the areas identified as sensitive. seem to cause NGOs any problems. NGOs and GROs face the risk to be labelled as sympathizers of separatists. military or nonstate actors. The specific use of criminal offenses. the administrative framework does not however. He reports that whereas donors tend to stress “technical deficits. which created problems for their operations in Papua. We have identified the most prevalent restrictive policies and actions limiting the space of NGOs. such as theft and illegal entrance of a plantation. NGOs have not (yet) gained the widespread support and legitimacy as they enjoy for example in the Philippines.

however. Professional NGOs are particularly targeted when they receive foreign funding and are therefore more likely to be seen as western agents. Fourthly. 135 . most responses are in reaction to immediate physical threats or criminal charges. stigmatization in itself severely restricts operational space once it forces NGOs to withdraw from a community or change the content of their programs. thus decreasing the sustainable capacity of NGOs to be strong actors in spaces of dialogue. some NGOs experienced limitations related to the fact that Aceh is a post-conflict territory. bribery and intimidation. Whereas sometimes proactive campaigns are set up (mostly in relation to legal reform). executing a western agenda. where the current government has become increasingly suspicious of some of the more critical NGOs.collaboration with the government far exceeds negative experiences regarding cooperation. LGBT or pluralism can face serious limitations when they face religious organizations or community leaders who oppose their work. 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. peasants and rural GROs that struggle for land. NGOs working on issues of gender. some old conflicts have not satisfactorily been solved and new tensions already challenge the process of democratization. NGO experiences in Aceh regarding limitations of their space largely coincide with the experiences from Jakarta based NGOs. local communities. the restrictions posed because of religious sensitivity have been felt more and since longer in Aceh than in Jakarta. The third area that we identified where NGOs face limitations of their operational space are NGOs working on sensitive issues in relation to religion. however. in the case of religious sensitivity. most importantly due to frequent threats and charges of criminal defamation. such as gender. Firstly. The results of this research show that whereas most NGOs benefit from the expansion of space. can be noted. NGOs operating in the field of accountability (anti-corruption and human rights violations) can experience severe limitations on their space. violence. Some differences. and pluralism. can face a range of restrictions. In general. and criminal charges. Thirdly. It is clear that the process of democratization has opened up new spaces for NGOs for advocacy and claim-making. thus for example facing the issue of the proper reintegration of ex-rebels. some of the NGOs experienced specific stigmatization because of the huge influx of NGOs and funding directly after the tsunami. the relations with the local Acehnese government for some NGOs have changed radically over the past years. most importantly threats. which seems especially prevalent with respect to NGOs who level accountability accusations and GRO leaders engaged in struggles regarding natural resources. LGBT. Secondly. whereas the operational space for urban professional NGOs working on land issues is quite free and broad. Whereas in most cases stigmatization is a problem because it can lead to criminalization or repression. Firstly. Points of concern are the combination of negotiation. We have identified three major areas of NGO-work where operational space is at times severely restricted as the abovementioned actions and policies interact. Secondly. NGO response strategies in Indonesia can be characterized as highly coordinated.

Chapter 6 . In all cases the diminishing role of the military was a key component of the democratization processes. whereas the presence of an independence movement in Papua has led the Indonesian state in this region has strong authoritarian characteristics. but (former) military are still a factor to count with. In Central 136 . There are important commonalities and differences between the countries included in this study. in general terms. Secondly.’ all countries have regions that are war zones or crisis areas. What kinds or combinations of policies are responsible for the most important restrictions. In all four cases. such as a rather weak rule of law. 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. played a relatively minor role in the transition towards democracy. and insecurity. In Guatemala the role of the military diminished substantially over the past decades. General findings and trends A first conclusion is that. But (former) military still play a role in national political life. corruption. Firstly. We finalize this chapter with recommendations. there is lots of operational space. 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. and who can be held responsible for this? Thirdly. with high levels of corruption. in the partial democracies that were under study. Mindanao in the Philippines displays the characteristics of a war zone and until recently Aceh in Indonesia was a war zone. During and after the democratic openings. as well as the issue of attribution. while in Honduras the coup provided new space to the military. 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. This is the case despite the typical problems or deficits that these partial democracies suffered from. 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). Despite reforms. we will reflect on the response strategies and capacities of local NGOs. we discuss the importance of the different types of restrictions. 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. While the four countries are clearly examples of ‘partial democracies. the NGO sectors grew and in all cases NGOs have increasingly tried to use and enlarge the resulting operational and political space. In all countries there is a fundamental problem of a relatively weak state. All countries embarked on an uncertain process of democratization in the late 1980s or 1990s. while the sector started to boom when the Reformasi started. since the power of the state is or contested.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. The case of Indonesia is rather different since NGOs were less present during the authoritarian regime.

the chronic insecurity is reflected by high levels of violence and extremely high homicide rates. Finally. (c) NGOs or organizations involved in women’s rights and the rights of the LGBT community.1: Categorization per country In general. However. human rights and justice. (3) NGOs operating in conflict areas and isolated places.g. corporations or the military) are more likely to experience serious restrictions in their operational space. election periods are generally tenser periods. in Honduras we distinguished between (1) resource conflicts. The vulnerability of these groups is not a given. groups that make political claims vis-à-vis the state and/or other actors (e. and (3) the specific problems caused by the coup. in all countries under study. (b) NGOs who demand accountability of the state. Finally. the following specific contexts are described: (1) NGOs operating at the extreme left: consequences of a counterinsurgency focus on civil society. The increasingly tense atmosphere in the period before. and (d) NGOs operating in areas with chronic insecurity. Box 6. and (3) problems related to chronic insecurity. In particular. depending on the general political conjunctures and the tensions that are building up. Restrictions come and go. (2) resource conflicts. which affects in particular a number of claim-making NGOs.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. and (3) decreasing space for NGOs working on issues of gender. In Indonesia there were: (1) NGOs demanding accountability for corruption and past human rights violations. particularly when they address issues of past atrocities.g. but this insecurity is different from the actions and policies that specifically target NGOs which are the subject of our study. The generalized insecurity in these crisis areas restricts almost all NGOs. (2) NGOs and community organizers making claims about land and natural resources. In the Philippines. Despite this unfinished democratization. despite the fact that there is operational space for many NGOs. 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. we focused on the sectors that experienced most problems. 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. NGOs that are involved in issues of service delivery generally experience few problems. during and after the coup in Honduras is an example of how polarization at national level also influences local resource conflicts (e. the operational space of NGOs is substantial both on paper and in practice. In these cases. and pluralism. in Bajo Aguan) and leads to new cycles of violent 137 . In Guatemala we looked at (1) NGOs working in the field of truth. we found selective restrictions on operational space. For instance. In each of the country chapters of this study. Hence. (2) chronic insecurity. corruption and state repression. (2) peasants and indigenous people (re-)claiming land.

There is no doubt that repression – either in the form of threats. However. legislation explicitly promotes NGO involvement in government policy. This leads to suspicions about alleged political motives of staff within the judicial sector that are generally very hard to prove. It can come and go. which will be discussed further on. and awkward situations in jail. both in terms of the operational capacity.restrictions. CEADEL in Guatemala reported frequent (monthly) and timeconsuming audits of the staff of the local ministry of Labor. violence against farmers became more frequent as the battle about the extension of land reform intensified. injuries and killings. the legal framework enables NGOs to do their work and for example in the Philippines. but in general the accusations are based on regular criminal law. NGOs there have been able to counter these threats. Nevertheless. In combination with lengthy trials. We didn’t find clear patterns of administrative restrictions that all countries share. This was most clearly the case in Honduras. but also with regard to the staff of these organizations that can experience serious emotional and mental problems. for example farmers involved in campaigns for land reform in the Philippines are prosecuted for trespassing. Closer scrutiny by the international community was a factor that helped reduce the extrajudicial killings of farmers. counter terrorism legislation was used to try NGO staff. Below we discuss our general findings with regard to the five types of restrictions. NGOs reported concerns about potential abuse of NGO-legislation. 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. 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. if not actual physical injury. This is in our view closely connected to the relatively weak state structures (especially in terms of rule of law) in the countries studied. Criminalisation can be a serious problem for NGOs. In a few cases. while CEADEL precisely criticizes the ministry for not controlling the labor conditions in the region where they work. long periods of pre-trial detention. the “pre-emptive calibrated response” which aimed to guide police forces in their 138 . In the Philippines. Also in Indonesia. efforts to introduce ‘bad NGO legislation’ can seriously threaten the space of the entire NGO sector. Repression is not necessarily a continuous threat. These measures can seriously hamper the work of these organizations. 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. 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). Apart from NGO-legislation. Many grassroots organizations suffer from criminalization in the struggle around resources. In general. this causes serious problems. or as a lack of protection – plays a role for most of the groups that experience restrictions. as is for instance the case with the law on criminal defamation in Indonesia. In the case of Guatemala and Honduras. 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 the Philippines. administrative measures of different sorts can severely restrict NGOs in their operations. while many other crimes are not addressed.

stigmatisation is part and parcel of the first three kinds of restrictions. This applies particularly to the repressive actions and criminalization. This leads to the conclusion that government agencies. but we would however not talk of a clear trend. or officials can (ab)use their administrative powers. A frequent critique is that talking didn’t lead to any substantive changes. however. the use of these spaces is often problematic. 139 . There are. In Indonesia. it was reported that dialogues alternated with threats and intimidation. In particular in Guatemala and Honduras the frustrations about the quality of these spaces are considerable. created resistance among NGOs as they feared it would scare people away from public activities. government officials and (un)civil society. repression (intimidation) can come together with stigmatization through the media (as experienced by human rights organizations in Guatemala). In this regard it proves very complex to prove ‘what exactly is going on’. but we did not find particular ‘sequences’ of combinations of measures.regulation of rallies and demonstrations. since a strong and capable civil society will not so easily be ‘co-opted’ and be more likely to ‘make spaces work’. NGOs can also be criticized for promoting different values. also concerns about the functionality of these new spaces. specifically for NGOs working on issues of pluralism and religious freedom. There is little doubt that restrictive measures of NGOs can be the result of targeted ‘campaigns’ or initiatives. As to the attribution an important conclusion of this study is that the experienced restrictions are not only the result of government actions. In general. in many cases it is not entirely clear who is behind the measures. religious groups take issue with the idea of human rights and human rights defense. As mentioned. Depending on the local and national context. communists or terrorists (Philippines. 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. while bribing of NGOs or community leaders was also reported. however. For example. however. the general stigma of the NGO-sector as ‘western’ agents proved an important hurdle. However. In Guatemala and Honduras. There are. but in many cases the combined actions of corporations. The coup in Honduras led to doubts about whether NGOs should deal with the government in the future. This can cause severe restrictions. NGOs are singled out and labeled as groups obstructing progress (mining). Guatemala). where local staff members or participants of NGO-activities are targets of anonymous phone calls or harassment. 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’. also points at weaknesses of civil society actors. we found examples of cooptation of NGOs by government officials. Bureaucrats (or their superiors) have the ability to creatively and on an ‘ad-hoc basis’ hamper the work of NGOs. In some cases. It is clear that NGOs that touch upon vested interests are more likely to experience these kinds of pressures or restrictions. In all cases. also ‘silent’ forms of repression. While using the new opportunities is seen as crucial by donors of NGOs. which can easily lead to stigmatization. there are concerns and frustrations about the quality of dialogue in these spaces. and there is a serious problem of attribution. Many of the claim-making NGOs have become involved in cooperation or dialogues with government agencies. Actions and measures seldom ‘come alone’. As to the use of political space. We would argue that the complaint that the spaces don’t work.

For example.Response strategies In figure 4 of chapter 1 we made a distinction between four types of response strategies. in Indonesia. responses can change over time and so can the balance between the accommodating and confrontational responses. Obviously. There is every reason to believe that all claim-making organizations make these kinds of tactical judgements.was found to be of particular importance. but organizations do censor themselves and decide to skip certain topics that are simply too dangerous to touch upon. The typical response in cases of experienced restrictions is an accommodating ad-hoc response to find a solution – such as building a fence. there can be both more accommodating and more confrontational reactions. without necessarily dealing with the cause of the problem. a ‘pluralism NGO’ reported that they do not talk about ‘human rights’ as this is considered a western concept by some religious groups. the crux of the response is to accuse or protest against those responsible for the restrictions experienced. there are different styles to react in all four domains. There is a variety of responses to the various problems encountered. NGOs are also cautious about the language they used. Below we discuss the individual and coordinated responses separately. For example. This is generally based on an equally ‘ad hoc’ analysis of these threats. but only discuss the responses to the most important restrictions that NGOs encountered. Wherever there is a restriction there will always be a reactive ‘response’. contracting a guard. In Central America a number of NGOs were hesitant to openly use a human rights discourse. We will not refer in each section to each of the five restrictions. the difference between more ‘accommodating’ and more ‘confrontational’ responses. in the Philippines. What do organizations do individually? Reactive and proactive responses. adding a variable that – on the basis of our fieldwork . We have not seen a case like that. The most basic one is ‘exit’ and the most radical form of exit is to disband an organization. a land reform NGO reported to avoid confrontation and withdraw from land occupations in advance. In case of more confronting styles. though this is not necessarily the case. In these cases the focus is on the efforts to tackle the effect of the problem. In Central America several organisations emphasised that they were not able to deal with threats from criminal groups. taking a break after threats. be cautious when using the telephone. While a response is a calculated reaction to an experienced threat or challenge to a person or an organization. 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. Below we will discuss each of them. NGOs that have experienced most problems with threats have become more strategic and developed scenarios of how to deal with new restrictions. etc. 140 . Moreover.

An option is that staff leaves the organization (temporarily).1 Response strategies of NGOs When it comes to threats of staff the typical immediate response is to look for some form of accommodation. Systematically inform the public and international partners Confrontational: Submit a complaint for a particular case. stop work. A number 141 . which was the product of international lobbying which resulted in a resolution of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights. Confrontational: Protest. lobby. In the Philippines some staff had to hide for a while. These reactions vary from denial and relativizing the impact of threats to panic and stress. However. accuse. in Honduras after the coup staff members left the country for a while. change work. or go to trial. in alliance with other NGOs Confrontational: Form a network to protest specific problems collectively.g. the Fundación Myrna Mack receives government protection. Ask government for protection. send out a collective press release Figure 6. 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. Accommodating: Initiate dialogue with those responsible for the restriction. in all cases. ask support from other NGOs. selfprotection.Reactive / Ad hoc Proactive / Strategic Individual Accommodating: Deny or relativize. In Guatemala. staff has to deal with the emotional stress of threats. E. leave country. This happens especially when tensions rise. such as a guard or a fence.

however. they are the product of local initiatives and processes. is even more complex. Some went to the police when they received death threats. while sleeping in different houses. In order to coordinate ad hoc actions. there is a high level of coordination. even ad hoc individual responses will more often than not be taken with some kind of advice or help of this network. representing more than 2. which to a large extend explains their strength. most NGOs do not operate in a vacuum and have their networks with other NGOs. such as changing the route to their work. 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. Thus. where a situation of chronic insecurity not only hampers the work of NGOs but has a profound impact on the social fabric in general. government officials and others. a director of an NGO that received anonymous threats told she was in frequent contact with other directors of NGOs about her situation. In fact. 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. What do NGOs do together? Reactive and proactive responses. in the Philippines and Indonesia. The move towards more coordinated action seems (not surprisingly) more difficult to take. For example. NGOs issue press releases when they are confronted with criminal cases or killings. When particular regions are too dangerous or problematic to work. Only in a limited number of cases individual NGOs chose for a more confrontational response to the restrictions. Most often. an alliance of NGOs has initiated a request for judicial review to change the law on criminal defamation. for example in CODE-NGO. NGOs decide to leave these particular areas. there is a high level of cooperation between NGOs to respond strategically to restrictions. which are mobilized once a restriction appears or continues. 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). 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. In the foregoing it was argued that almost all organizations that face restrictions will try to resolve these at first by ‘individual accommodation’. Also in the Philippines. With regard to both the individual and the coordinated efforts. NGOs (a microfinance organization and women’s organization respectively) have reported to leave an area where they had experienced restrictions. Though these networks are supported by external donors. In Indonesia. In order to move to a more proactive response capacity that addresses the restrictions on operational space in general. there has to be a restriction that several organizations experience. In this regard. NGOs choose for a confrontational approach with the support of or in alliance with other organisations. The latter kind of problem is particularly important in Central America. Most NGOs reported to take security precautions. For example. while a number of these organizations looks for coordination with other organizations. the distinction between more accommodating and confronting responses is important. Where a proactive 142 . However.of NGOs reported it had hired counselors to deal with these symptoms.000 development NGOs. For instance. the existence of networks of NGOs does not necessarily lead to coordinated responses. For example.

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. All in all. ICCO HQ has.accommodating style will look for solutions to a problem by dialoging or negotiating with government officials. 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’. It is important to note that this proactive role was not played by the new regional offices of ICCO. In many cases this proves to be extremely problematic. Ad-hoc accommodation is the most common way to deal with these. ICCO itself has both used accommodating and more confrontational approaches. 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. 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. However. 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. In the countries of Central America NGOs criticized each other for either showing too much willingness to cooperate with government agencies. However. In most cases that we found restrictive measures. 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. more confronting approaches will protest against the government or submit a press release. but in many cases this leads to some reduction of operational space. and maintain their operational space. however. or for being too confrontational and ‘negative’. the result is almost always some form of operational restriction. this space itself is the product of a long series of accusations and lobbying by numerous NGOs. This is indeed related to the general problems of coordination of NGOs in many parts of the world. On the other hand. In many cases these debates are linked to political and strategic differences between these organisations that have different political stances and histories. The style of the response itself is also subject to debates between NGOs. the restrictions of operational space are the result of oftentimes targeted and context-specific processes. While it is too early to reflect on the roles of the regional offices. Although ICCO is currently developing new policies with regards to human rights defenders and problems of shrinking political space. Coordination requires both a felt need to work together as well as a (political) willingness and consensus about style to do so. defend. there is no clarity about the ways and the situations in which ICCO (regional offices or HQ) will be involved. The exact impact of restrictions on the operational space of NGOs is determined in interaction with their chosen response. The two approaches can obviously strengthen each other. This indicates one of the main dilemmas that NGOs face as they are challenged by restrictions: how can they optimally use. Some accommodating responses like leaving an area constitute effectively a serious decrease in their operational space. This was not only a result of the fact that the 143 . a rich experience of supporting partners in different ways. ICCO HQ also played important roles after coup in Honduras.

While the framework of human rights and the discourse and policies on human rights defenders is valid. ICCO should be aware that this discourse is not accepted or used by all partners. (b) to work towards proactive action that might involve international actors when necessary. where a leader from farmer organization TFM could present the plight of the killings against farmers and request international attention. Dealing with direct threats With regard to the ways ICCO deals with direct threats.regional office was still starting up. 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.g. campaigns addressing ‘operational’ or ‘shrinking’ space in general will not be helpful. ICCO should be clear about what partners can expect when they are in trouble. At other times ICCO HQ opted for a more confrontational style. However. ICCO should primarily support local mechanisms to deal with (a) direct threats. and (d) pay particular attention to grassroots NGOs and community organizations in the opening up and defense of operational spaces. the development of these mechanisms will have their own rhythm and problems of coordination can hamper this process. 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. ICCO should play a supportive role in the creation of local capacity. such as the killing of Munir? Towards proactive action With regard to proactive action. but also due to different views within the regional board about the coup in Honduras. for example when it supported public declarations about the killing of Munir in Indonesia. restore or optimally use their operational space. 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. labeling all NGOs involved in development work as human rights defenders may make the concept an empty shell. ICCO (regional and HQ) should be clear about what it is able to do and what not. An example of a more pro-active and strategic action has been the visit to the Dutch embassy in the Philippines. 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. since the variety of contexts. International campaigns to counter particular restrictions can be important. 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. Furthermore. E. restrictions and specific problems of NGOs are too diverse. the problems with regard to mining activities). However. (c) to use existing political space more effectively. Recommendations With regard to the protection of operational space of its partners.g. The needs and expectations of partners can exceed the actual capacity of ICCO to assist. 144 .

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. As to the research agenda.Creating and using space Apart from thinking about how to ‘defend’ NGOs. In all cases. Creating. Outside funding for these grassroots organizations hardly exists. history and style of the NGOs themselves. without risking an increase in restrictive measures. restrictions and conflict dynamics is needed. 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. In this regard an important dilemma is how these NGOs can use their (limited) space to make claims. defending and/or using operational space will therefore mean different things for different NGOs. 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. 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. but instead to reshape their space. their operational space deserves specific attention. For the NGOs that experience restrictions operational space is not something that can simply be ‘given back’. Their space is rather the result of national and local contexts. 145 . further research about operational space of NGOs should be conducted in authoritarian regimes and war zones. as well as the position. In addition to the often severe restrictions that they face vis-à-vis local power holders. 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. 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. This systematisation should not only focus on the restrictions and violations of human rights. 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. The ways in which these groups are restricted differs from place to place.

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partial democracies. we worked with local researchers who have done much valuable work. In each country. timber. Governments and corporations can come to view these NGOs/ GROs as an obstacle on the road to economic progress. the choice of cases provides for sufficient diversity to note important differences within the group of partial democracies. On the one hand. and forms of self-censorship. or during certain periods when governments take decisions or are confronted with protests. Southeast Asia and Central America. face a difficult task in the struggle to progress and participation in a global economy. However. while regional variation can also be considerable.Appendix: methodology and questionnaire Based upon our identification of three ideal types (authoritarian regimes. They are critical of large scale economic projects (such as dams). But the political space of human rights NGOs or NGOs working on resource issues can become contested in particular regions of the country. Although each of these cases is different. they have in common that political space is (being) restricted or under pressure. the policies and actions 155 . but its sporadic use is sufficient to create a chilling effect. Interested parties such as landowners. and Guatemala. and chose two country cases in each region. In these cases. and Brazil. and demand accountability. Nicaragua. Big assets of these countries such as land. Examples of these practices come mainly from Latin America. El Salvador. are representative of experiences in other partial democracies that were not included in this study. We decided to focus on two sub-regions. corporations and the government portray their challengers as criminals or terrorists. They have written a report describing the civil society and NGO sector. as well as Asian countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. In a number of these countries there is a local capacity to respond. can be used to try particular groups. such as CTMs. external pressure and lobbying can be of great importance. diverting attention from the issue at hand: the struggle about the rights to and protection of resources. not all groups in society experience the same kinds of limitations. Also the use of direct repression such as torture or extra-judicial killings is not widespread. NGOs/ CSOs working on these issues often cooperate with groups emphasizing local community rights and environmentalist values. Freely elected governments ruling countries in which huge inequalities still abound. We believe that many of the trends and measures described in our cases. and minerals are contested by a variety of parties. vested economic interests of powerful groups in society. by focusing on partial democracies in these specific regions we aim to discern similar patterns and mechanisms. and war zones) we have chosen to do in-depth case studies focusing on partial democracies. but in particular in periods of increasing pressures. such as Peru. Honduras. focusing the attention exclusively on the illegal or violent incidents that occur. After our initial exploration we concluded that partial democracies view the NGO-sector as an obstacle in particular fields. On the other hand. as well as the various response strategies. 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. such as Thailand. Newly adopted legislation. NGOs working on service delivery generally experience less pressure. Brazil. criminal stigmatization can be an extremely important means and is widespread. a climate of fear. Peru.

they assisted in the selection of non-ICCO-NGOs for interviews and often accompanied us during our fieldwork. however. or Transparency International. In practice. 156 .as identified in figure 1. In each of the countries we have also interviewed with various local experts and outsiders. In our selection of NGOs we worked closely with the ICCO country liaisons and with our local researchers. and the recent trends and cases. The questionnaire is attached below. Hardly available in the public domain. 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. 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. is the experience of local NGOs. In addition. Human Rights Watch. Together with the ICC country liaisons we identified 10 to 15 NGOs that had experienced restrictions of their operational space. Most interviews lasted between one and two hours using a questionnaire as a flexible guideline instead of a rigid survey. 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. how they adapted themselves to the new situation or how they developed response strategies. such as political analysts at the Dutch embassy or sociology professors at local universities. Much of our data is based on academic literature and available reports from Freedom House. this meant that we mostly interviewed with NGOs that belong to the ‘Peace building and Reconstruction’ division within ICCO.

Did you experience in any of the following phases? 1. how come? Does your organisation take particular measures (in terms of security measures. These six different dimensions of CSO-work can be restricted by government actions and policies. could you give us a general overview? See checklist below. Is your organisation part of networks of NGOs? Which ones? How are experiences? 13. In general. What is the constituency of your organisation? Is it membership based? 9. What is the mission and what are the objectives of your organisation? 2. What is the history of your organisation? When was it founded? With which objectives? 3. b. Which are the main programmes / projects your organisation? 4. or not? Checklist for interviews with NGOs that experience problems. Do your counterparts experience problems? 16.QUESTIONNAIRE Questions for NGOs General questions about work and functioning NGO 1. What have the most important changes been of / in your organisation in the past 5 years? 5. In which parts of the country does your organisation work? 8. does your organisation experience limitations in the possibilities to operate freely as a result of government policies and actions? a. How is your relation to the government? Does your organisation have any institutional links with the government? Which ones? How are the experiences? 12. How big is your organisation in terms of staff and annual budget? 6. such as the right to free speech. actions and programmes. networking) with a view to avoid problems? 15. Which are the main achievements of your organisation? 10. Entry 157 . 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. public 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. 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. If no. If yes. What have been obstacles in the achievement of your work? State – civil society – NGO relations 11.

5. 3. 4. 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). 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. demonstrations. meetings. Operations Speech/advocacy Communication/contact Resources State protection On the job-trouble: Government actions and policies 17. 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. or other. emergency measures. 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 . 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. media. 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. such as counter-terrorism measures. religious organisations. Physical harassment: What kind of repressive (more open.2.

Which other (government or other) actions and policies have influenced the work of your NGO? 23. networking. What features of your NGO/GRO or in the context around you have made this response the most feasible? 29. Specific kinds of actions (e. meetings. or to influence in any other way their work or decision-making? Which actor was responsible for these attempts. 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 . Specific individuals (e.g. 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 programs. Specific regions? d. Have you been able to make use of existing alliances or networks? 30.g. speech.g. Cooptation: Have there been efforts to co-opt you or your NGO/GRO. What made you decide to respond in the way you did? What factors did you take into account? 28. the campaign on military reform) c. or campaigns (e. The existence of the organization as such has been threatened 26.g.21. the Kalimantan-logging campaign. the successful dropping of charges on criminal defamation has led to increased physical harassment) On the-job-trouble: Responses and best practices 27. demonstrations.g. the campaign about Munir. the spokespersons) b. Have responses on your side had counterproductive effects in the sense that other restrictive measures were applied more frequently or with more intensity? (e.g. With specific partners? e. e. the leaders or directors. fundraising) f. Which parts of your organization have experienced restrictions and limitations? a. 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. Which other actions and policies have influenced the work of your counterparts? 24. 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.

(AFRIM) 361 It should be noted that we have spoken with NGO representatives where and whenever they were available. Advocate of Philippine Fair Trade. Venus Betita. Jesus Vicente C. Jeffrey R. Garganera. TRICOM (tri-people in Mindanao) 2. Belinda E. Indonesia 5. Haribon Foundation 8. Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands 3. farm workers and advocates 7. Ed de la Torre. Counsellor Political Affairs/ Deputy Head of Mission. Inc. Task Force Mapalad (TFM). ISIS International (women organization) 5. Kaka Bag-ao. It also happened that we interviewed NGO representatives in Davao whose NGO is actually based in Manila. OIC Operations Group and Head. Deputy Executive Director. Sylvia Paraguya. (MCPI) 4. (APFTI) 8. Armando D.INTERVIEWS Interviews Philippines Manila/ ICCO-partners361 1. Vicente Roaring. Ruel. Alyansa Tigil Mina. Dennis Murphy. Ed Quitoriano. Executive Director. Professor Sociology at the University of the Philippines and columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer 4. Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao. Foundation for the Philippine Environment and the Education for Life Foundation 2. National federation of farmers. Jarilla. Inc. Philippine Agrarian Reform Foundation for National Development (PARFUND) 4. de la Paz. Mindanao Microfinance Council (MMC) 3. Narciso Jover. Balaod Mindanao (legal assistance for agrarian reform) 3. (NATCCO) (cooperative) 9. Urban Poor Associates 6. Randy David. It happened that we spoke with NGO representatives in Manila who are actually based in Mindanao. 160 . National Confederation of Cooperatives. Inc. (CSI) (research on agrarian issues) 6. Billy de la Rosa. Vicente Toring and Ester Reluna. KAISAMPALAD Manila/ Non-ICCO partners 1. National Coordinator. Microfinance Council of the Philippines. Chairperson. Ordoñez. Centro Saka Inc. ATM (alliance against mining) 7. Allan Robert I. current board member for the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement. this was due to a large conference that was held in Davao at the time of our visit. Max de Mesa. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) Davao/ ICCO-partners 1. Butch Olano. founder of the Institute for Popular Democracy. VSO and current regional coordinator for ICCO in Bali. National Coordinator. Eugene L. Marion Cabrera. Sicat. Anita van de Haar-Conijn. PhilNET (agrarian reform) 2. Tecson. Advocacy Division.

Atty. Arnado. Ampon and Soc Banzuela. Pakisama (land rights) 2. Mindanao People Council (MPC) (peace monitoring and land rights) 161 . Lia Esquillo. IDIS (aerial spraying campaign) 3.Davao/ Non-ICCO partners 1.

Sandra Moniaga. Permata Aceh 9. Indri. Peace Brigades International 7.. Nazarudin Thaha. Harley and Budi Arianto. ELSAM Aceh/ ICCO-partners 1. Sekjen and Khairani Arifin for RPuK. Syarif. Human Rights Research Coordinator of Imparsial. Association for Community and Ecologically Based Law Reform 4. Executive Director of VHR Media and FX Rudy Gunawan. Flower Aceh 8. Iwan Nurdin. Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies 7. Executive Director of Praxis. Reza Idria. ICW 2. Monica Tanuhandaru. Directur Pelaksana of YRBI. Deputi Bidang Riset dan Kampanye of KPA. Tikar Pandan (interview in the Netherlands) Aceh/ non-ICCO partners 1. Askhalani for Gerak Aceh 5. Afridal Damin. Secretary General of AMAN. Women Volunteer Team for Humanitarian [sic] 4. active in the LGBT community 4. PBI. Azhari Aiyub. Herryadi. JKMA Aceh 6. Desy Setiawaty. Consortium for Agrarian Reform 3. Donatus K. Resource Management and Development Institute for Social Transformation 2. Al Araf and Bhatara Ibnu Reza. Koalisi NGO Ham 7. Asep Yunan Firdaus. Yaysan Rumpun Bambu Indonesia 3. founder of HuMa 5. Editor in Chief for VHR Media 3. Yuwono. Antonio Pradjasto. Kontras Jakarta/ Non-ICCO-partners 1. Michael Mori. Sanusi M. Raharja Waluya Jati. LBH Aceh 162 .Interviews Indonesia Jakarta/ ICCO-partners 1. Demos. Abdon Nababan. Andi K. Deputy 1 Coordinator. Azriana. the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (previous ICCO-partner) 6. Marut. Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago 2. Mr. Executive Director of Infid. Program Officer for Civil Society and Democracy for the TIFA Foundation 6. Executive Coordinator of HuMa. Do Karim (interview in the Netherlands) 10. Indria Fernida A. Evi Zain. project coordinator IOM. International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development 5.

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