This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
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
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. otherwise we will use “NGOs” as shorthand for professional nongovernmental organization and the grassroots membership organizations with whom they tend to work together.g. the thematic field of NGOs. throughout the text we will discuss the operational space of NGOs. to criminalisation. Instead. We make a distinction between different sorts of restrictive policies and actions of different state and non-state actors. 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. 4 . (3) The particular nature. this includes the operational space of the grassroots organizations (GROs) with whom NGOs often work together. The main finding of the first phase was that there exists a variety of ways in which operational space is restricted.1 This research was commissioned by ICCO Alliance. Generally. and the geographical areas where they work. like Counter Terrorism Measures (CTMs) or NGO-laws. 1 As will be explained in the next chapter. Below we briefly summarize the findings of the first phase of this study and move on with a description of the objectives. even within the same country there are marked differences in the space experienced and perceived by NGOs. antecedents. however. Where there exist important differences in terms of the restrictions of operational space of NGOs or GROs we will make this distinction explicit. their political profile and their (historical) relations with the state. in each country or region there are rather unique threats and opportunity structures for NGOs. and particular pressures or limitations in existing spaces of dialogue. focus of this second phase.Introduction In this report we present the findings of the second phase of our research into shrinking operational space of NGOs. administrative measures. Moreover. 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. In order to achieve a better understanding of the nature of the problems of partners in different countries. (2) The particular combinations of restrictive actions and polices that restrict NGOs in their operations. More particularly. 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. 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. stigmatisation. Therefore we concluded that there is not one trend of shrinking space. It was. e. Netherlands. it was not clear whether and to what extent this is the result of specific (new) policies. ranging from repression and intimidation. The first report (van der Borgh & Terwindt. and characteristics of NGOs.
in particular in issues related to accountability and the exploitation of resources. Guatemala. 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. This is followed by four chapters in which we present the findings of our country studies. Differences and similarities between countries will enable us to discuss the forms and variations of these problems. Countries therefore can possibly suffer from the problems described in more than one ideal type. as a result of this. As will be explained in the next section. and how to deal with the various limitations to the operational and political space of NGOs. 2 See for a more concise version Van der Borgh & Terwindt (2010). and Philippines and Indonesia in South-east Asia. in partial democracies there can be marked differences in operational space. or ‘full’ democracies where NGOs can experience obstacles in particular fields. For instance. By doing so the research seeks to contribute to the discussion on how to strengthen and protect civil society. Honduras. 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. ICCO showed a keen interest to focus in the second phase on the category of partial democracies. 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. Therefore we selected two case studies in each sub-region: Guatemala and Honduras in Central America. (f) conclusions and recommendations per country.(2) Partial and relatively developed democracies that are not necessarily stable states. The structure of this report is as follows. Finally we present our overall conclusions and recommendations in chapter 6. in partial democracies forms of authoritarianism can reappear and pose restrictions to NGOs. or within cities between marginalized and more affluent neighbourhoods.2 It is important to emphasise that the three types are not mutually exclusive. (b) the characteristics and evolution of civil society and the local NGO sector. for instance between urban areas and countryside. (d) the troubles experienced by NGOs. These ideal types are discussed in more detail in the first report. in particular ICCO partners. focussing on two sub-regions: South-East Asia and Central America. Also. (3) War zones and crisis areas. but rather describe sets of interrelated problems. (e) the response strategies to these problems. (c) the restrictive actions and policies experienced by NGOs. 5 . Philippines and Indonesia respectively. or a specific geographic area in a partial democracy can be qualified as a war zone. each of these chapters will present: (a) the main characteristics of the political context and the political space in each of the countries. as well as the response strategies of these organisations. 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. In the next chapter we discuss our analytical framework. where NGOs struggle for safety and neutrality since state power is either fundamentally contested or virtually absent. Nevertheless.
(3) its right of speech and advocacy. but space of NGOs is also made by these organizations and can be claimed or reshaped by NGOs themselves. 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). Thus. 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. the operational space of NGOs is not static or ‘given’. Three sets of questions guide our field work. 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. and (6) its right of protection of the state. taking into account the political context in which the operational space is formed and/or restricted. Restrictions on operational space can take different forms. Figure 1 depicts four ideal typical categories: strong democratic states. We assume that within a political context. In our case studies we focus on restrictions and response strategies of NGOs. In this study we are not just interested in the ‘restrictions by themselves’ of NGOs. With the operational space of NGOs we mean the possibilities to function as an organisation and to perform the key tasks of the organisation. The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) makes a distinction between different areas in which problems can be experienced.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. (2) its operational activities. (4) its efforts to contact and communicate with others. assumed or filled’.1. they develop (implicit or explicit) strategies to avoid. These are (1) the entry of an organisation. but in the restrictions experienced in their respective political contexts. 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. that space is not something that is simply ‘taken up. but we want to emphasize that NGOs are no ‘passive’ agents using space or undergoing restrictions in this space. NGOs have agency. Cornwall (2002:2) argues. the strength of the state on the one hand.3 NGOs can experience limitations in one or several of these areas. civil society actors (and even international actors) that together form a ‘public sphere’. but rather the product of interactions between NGOs and other actors. this interaction is particularly important in hybrid democracies. 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. We will than further elaborate on each of these questions. private actors. 6 . As we will discuss below. and the levels of civil and political freedoms on the other (see Figure 1). (5) its capacity and right to mobilise resources in order to survive.
some being strong on military capacity and weak on service delivery. based on the rule of law and a capacity of the state to defend these rights. Civil society is the ‘intermediate realm between state and family populated by organizations which are separate from the state. their position in this field is always subject to change. 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. Moreover. In this context there is an effective legal framework as well as state protection for these organisations forming civil society. states can be weak in different sectors. 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. 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. 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. The public sphere can be defined as ‘the nonlegislative. 2008). 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. social problems. public space in which societal differences. Obviously. while others are weak on both (Rice and Patrick. strong authoritarian states and weak authoritarian states.democratic states. Thus. 1999:32-3). In more free and strong states there are clearly defined civil and political rights. the two axes should be seen as continua and states can be positioned anywhere in the field that is formed. extra-judicial. They thus also play a political role and operate in the public sphere.
national or religious divide. 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. 6 Examples are the lyncings in Guatema. 2004:55). 2002. to control the public sphere or to defend NGOs is limited. Edwards argues that these spaces are crucial to the health of democracies. Therefore. In relatively strong and authoritarian states. civil society itself can be as polarized as society itself. local organizations can also organize their own protection and security. Their laws and regulations must contend with other. Routine Politics and Violence in Argentina: The Gray Zone of State Power. often with utterly unexpected results for the societies that states purport to govern – and for the states themselves. warlords. or where it has lost influence. 2008:2). however. year. and organizations or groups in the (not necessarily ‘civil’) society can be responsible for limitations in space of NGOs. that in many societies the realm of civil society itself is also fractionalized. Belarus or Iran. like mafias and paramilitary groups. but has not led to ‘full democracies’. 8 .policy. the state capacity to make rules. 7-8). international donors have come to see civil society as very important in processes of democratic consolidation (Howell & Pearce. In a process of democratization the operational space of civil society is changing. is the existence of a range of groups that do ‘partially’ and in different gradations adhere to ‘civic’ norms. The political reality in most developing countries differs from this ideal-typical situation depicted in the right-upper corner of figure 1. 6 Thus. Morlino. Joel Migdal (2001: 12) has argued that in this regard ‘states are no different from any other formal organizations or informal social groupings. as the consequence of both the efforts of internal changes in the state and the political regime. in weak states (both authoritarian and democratising ones). that are the focus of this study. In the absence of an effective state. and groups that do not adhere to these rules. Criminal and paramilitary groups thrive in the context of an ethnic. and the civil militias in Indonesia. rather to ‘partial democracies’ or ‘hybrid democracies’ (Carothers. In these cases. However. Partial democracies. It is important to note. other actors like traditional authorities. More interestingly. Thus. very different types of sanctioned behaviour. it is important to also pay attention to the uncivil and criminal practices of state actors and restrictive actions of non-state actors. City. like China. Publisher. are countries were democratization has made a start. in particular when the state has a limited ability to make and enforce binding decisions (Belloni 2008. because it enables the representation and inclusion of different viewpoints in decision-making processes (ibid). 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. governments have a clear willingness and capacity to control the public sphere and to restrict NGOs in their work – using different measures. 2006). fragmented. and not in all cases ‘civil’. dialogue and economic and social integration. as well as the adaptations made by organizations 5 See for instance Auyero. government action and matters of community and cultural identity are developed and debated’ (McCain and Fleming in Edwards.’5 These non-state actors can also be of importance in ‘grey zones’ of partial democracies where the state is virtually absent.
in civil society to use (new) space. as well as resistance against these changes by others. NGOs have to deal with a number of weaknesses and uncertainties of partial democracies that are still poorly understood (Morlino. 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. that is the space that they should have according to the constitutions of young democracies on the one hand. in the sense that the activities of NGOs are influenced by national politics defined as ‘the ensemble of practices. however. Pansters 2009). In that regard it is important to make a distinction between the political dimension of operational space of NGOs. civil and political 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.NGOs operate within these orders and partly constitute them. 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). and the de facto space. defined as the “process by which a society produces collectively binding decisions” (2007:14). A distinction should be made between the de jure space of NGOs. 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. This happens for instance when NGOs make claims vis-à-vis the state to implement or improve particular legislation. find and create new spaces of interaction with governments and other social or economic actors.e. Writing about South East Asia. Hicky. In fact. Many NGOs in young democracies try to use. 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).7 In our project we have looked at operational space as a more basic and broader concept. 9 . or to claim spaces on the basis of human rights legislation (i. Citizens need that political space precisely because of the absence of politics. In these cases they are engaged in policy reform and claim making and in that process creating political space. 2008). 2009: 142). 2008:2. 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. or when they enter into conflict with local corporations about land use or land rights. That process has both instances of (new) consensus as well as continuing struggle (Morlino. and the political space that NGOs may try to create. 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. For NGOs assuming this political role. The operational space of NGOs always has a political dimension. democratization involves the creation of and claims for new spaces of participation by some. their capacity to make claims can be restricted and affect their own operational space. 2009:42). NGOs can. or the actual existing space of NGOs on the other. discourses and institutions that seek to establish a sense of social order and organization’ (Mouffe in Hickey. 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.
E.g. associations and organizations can create.study these problems are of particular importance in the category of partial democracies and in many cases operational space of NGOs is restricted with a view to limit their political role. while they would themselves claim to support sustainable development. or disillusioned social partners) or simply close. Thirdly. 2009:147). Restrictive policies and actions In figure 2 we provide a table to organize the variety of policies. The power to influence these frames is partly dependent on media coverage. that are all relevant to this study (in Hicky. or dialogue.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. can close (Hicky 2009:147). For example. or administrative measures. round tables. as is the case with the activities of criminal networks. there is always a capacity to create new spaces.g. We make a distinction between five sets of actions and policies. 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. 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. At a national level this can be the result of hard measures such as states of emergency. Enabling administrative legislation can be juxtaposed to restrictive NGO 8 Cornwall (2002) makes a distinction between spaces that are created by participants themselves. A case in point is the resource conflicts where the agendas and motivations of NGOs are portrayed in different ways. etc) are no longer taken seriously by one the participating actors (e. 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. the institutional channels through which policies and actions of governments or other societal actors can be accessed. 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. laws and measures that can have a restricting influence on operational space. online available at http://www. 9 We have made this distinction on the basis of the findings of interviews with ICCO staff in the period June – July 2009. Webster & Engberg-Pedersen identified three ways in which the political role of NGOs can be restricted. also take a negative turn.See for instance the website of Amnesty International. which mentions Challenges of Human Rights Defenders. thus putting obstacles for social mobilization. maintain or challenge formal and informal political spaces.8 The social and political practices of individuals. NGOs that are protesting against a logging concession can be portrayed as backward and opposing ‘progress’. however. or violent street gangs can challenge formal and informal political spaces. but it can also mean that newly created ‘spaces’ (dialogues. and those that are created by others. local organizations protesting against a mining company or a logging concession can create a new local political space of conflict. controlled or contested.amnesty. incoming government officials. Secondly.org/en/humanrights-defenders/issues/challenges 10 . as well as information of human rights organisations. the power of labelling and framing is of great importance. formal participatory mechanism. This capacity can. ownership and loyalties of media enterprises an important factor in these strategies. Firstly. which makes the structure.
terrorists. while the line between the two can be blurred. travel restrictions. 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. These problems are particularly important in cases of democratic openings after long periods of violent conflict. The cases discussed in this study indicate that sectors of the government themselves can be involved in these actions. When a state is unable or unwilling to maintain the rule of law. Similarly. While the latter is not (necessarily) illegal. More generally. paramilitary. (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. 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. Criminalization involves a range of coercive measures that can restrict individuals and organizations. With regard to the first one. When the state is weak (and in particular when the law enforcement sector is weak). and time in prison. where societies are still deeply divided. costly lawyers. this is frequently related to problems of state weakness. which means the defining of conduct as criminal and the application of the criminal law apparatus in order to enforce that definition. such as a monetary fine or time in prison. 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. injuries and killings on the other. Firstly. 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. on the other hand it can discredit their positions and silence their voices by stigmatizing them as criminals. Transitional justice and truth commissions are often highly controversial and ‘well-connected’. or unpatriotic. such as the criminalization of sexual intercourse without consent as rape. gangs). ranging from criminal investigation. There obviously is a link between problems of impunity on the one hand and threats. powerful perpetrators can seek to obstruct these processes.legislation. However. we make a distinction between two forms of repression and intimidation: impunity and lack of protection on the one hand and threats. this has consequences on actual protection of NGOs. We distinguish between two ways in which the concept of criminalization is used: (1) the technical act of criminalization. In this regard the connection between criminalisation and stigmatisation (that we will 11 . it oftentimes involves processes of labelling and stereotyping of certain groups that are thus depicted as particular threats. The first one applies for instance to any of the provisions in the criminal law. this can be both the result of a lack of capacity or unwillingness of the state. to high bails. 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. such as the criminalisation of being a member of the communist party as was the case in the Philippines until 1992. injuries and killings on the other. in the field of labelling. a government can actively give voice to groups and individuals by for example recognizes them in the constitution or by giving them respectable labels. Secondly. such as the search of an office and the seizure of computers to pre-trial detention. perpetrators run fewer risks to be arrested or prosecuted. while in many cases they cooperate in different ways with non-state actors with particular interests (like corporations.
10 There are numerous examples of CTMs having affected the room of manoeuvre of social movements and NGOs. Stigmatisation of opponents in speeches. 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.11 However.co. 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. 3 May 2010. In the absence of international consensus about one definition of terrorism. investigate. it is fair to say that CTMs generally are one of the possible measures in a wider ensemble of actions and policies and that there is not one trend of shrinking space due to shared influences of counter terrorism measures. This can also legitimise acts of criminalisation. that is legislation on NGOs and civil society that restricts fundamental rights.bbc. On 3rd of May 2010 he was given a presidential pardon. 12 . The most important one in this regard is ‘bad’ NGO legislation. glorifying or inciting terrorism as well as where merely material destruction can constitute a terrorist offence. at http://news.discuss separately below) is of particular importance. and punish specific acts of terrorism. It produced a “checklist for civil society organisations (CSO) Laws” which describes 10 ‘Sri Lankan president pardons convicted Tamil editor’.12 [Add: Methodology on problem of attribution.stm [accessed 1 June 2010] and Cordaid 2009 11 See for instance Kathrin Buhl y Claudia Korol eds. On the other hand. prevent. detentions and criminal trials can have a stigmatizing effect. 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. Without clarity about what exactly constitutes terrorism. since it always involves interpretations of threats. Our case studies provide evidence of the use of ‘regular’ criminal law provisions against NGOs. 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. documents. Although criminalisation never is a ‘neutral’ process. What’s more. Counter-terrorism measures are laws and practices by governments and supranational institutions intended to prohibit. this can and is also be done by applying ‘regular’ criminal law. This is particularly the case with broad provisions for collaborating with. 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. The International Center for Not-forprofit Law (ICNL) in Washington has conducted research into the NGO legislation in 150 countries.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8657805. and the media is often preceding the actual criminalization. although ‘bad CTMs’ can come in handy for governments that want to criminalise certain movements or to restrict the space of NGOs. a wide variety of conduct could possibly be placed under these derivative charges. (2009) 12 See for instance the comparison made by Hudson of Human Rights First between criminalisation in Colombia and Guatemala. Anecdotal evidence reports that particularly human rights activists may face these kinds of charges (see for example Cortright 2008 and ICCO/CORDAID 2008).
in: Cordaid 2008:29). 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. 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. The problems of governments trying to increase their control over the NGO sector are mostly prominent in authoritarian countries. the Open Institute has published in cooperation with ICNL a 120-page book “Guidelines for Laws Affecting Civic Organizations. Thus. Thus. we can call this “criminal” stigmatization (this can also be the case when no judicial action is undertaken). the response capacity of NGOs sector and civil society organizations is a key factor.” 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.13 This was confirmed in our case studies. a key issue is whether local NGOs and civil society organizations can enter into negotiations with their governments to negotiate their operational space. A stigma is the phenomenon whereby an individual with an attribute. For instance. Stigmatisation and negative labelling is the fourth element of our model. Stigmatization is the process in which a stigma comes into existence. but can also be the product of the willingness and ability to use bureaucratic power to obstruct NGOs in their operations. and thus forming a threat to security or social order of society.“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 (stronger) as criminals or dangerous subjects. We talk about stigmatization in cases where groups are portrayed as untrustworthy. and how responsive governments are. When government agents or other actors use criminal labels to discredit certain activity or certain actors. The government however decided to ignore their protests and introduced the law in 2006. in India the NGO-sector was able to stall new legislation on NGOs that was inspired by CTM policies (Chandra Pandey. there are numerous examples of government agencies that use their power to control NGOs in an ad-hoc manner. In the case of Uganda. In these cases. without giving major substance for these claims. We encountered examples of government agencies and (local departments of) ministries that took relatively much time to approve the new statutes of some NGOs. 13 .” Whereas this checklist counts several pages. restrictive administrative measures are not necessarily the product of ‘bad’ legislation. 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. But there also have been efforts to introduce restrictive NGO-bills in more open countries. terrorist. is rejected as a result of the attribute (such as the attributes criminal. Apart from the topic of legislation. which is deeply discredited by his or her society. Again. or that controlled their administration on a much more frequent basis than was considered usual. non-believer). NGOs also were able to raise their concerns about a new NGO Bill. They discuss why and how several government rules and practices (such as delayed response to application for NGO status) violate these principles.
As to restrictions on each of these spaces of dialogue. seminars. where for example an NGO is asked to write a draft law for the government. Dialogue can take the form of a negotiation. Apart from the problem of co-optation. In partial democracies many NGOs and GROs are in the process of adapting to and creation of a new political ‘playing ground’. 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 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.society interaction that is seen as important to democratic politics. As is for instance the case with the demonization of Western NGOs and liberal ideas. the labelling of certain groups as untrustworthy or dangerous is not the exclusive domain of government agents. A specific characteristic of the negotiations in ‘unfinished’ democracies is that they are often highly asymmetrical. where different actors with opposing interests aim to come to a deal. 14 Threats and co-optation are forms of ‘coercive’ and ‘reward’ power (Lawler 1983:89). whereas co-optation aims to forestall opposition by giving rewards. where the space of NGOs to interact with state agencies generally increases. we make a distinction between co-optation on the one hand and closure of newly created spaces on the other. while in that very process the limitations can be reached of the kind of state . obviously. 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. In fact. In this practice persons or several persons are persuaded or lured to join the agency. other social actors can play important roles in these activities. The latter is not uncommon to (all kinds of) democracies. Both are about the limits or reversal of interactions between state agencies and civil society. values or ideas that are seen as contrary to the dominant social norms and values. This can for example be the case in negotiations between corporations and indigenous communities about land rights. party. see chapter 5). where invited spaces created by governments can serve to sell or legitimize existing policies. Co-optation is an oftentimes deeply embedded practice that has strong links to clientalism. Alternatively the dialogue can take the form of collaboration. such as corporations. 14 . In the absence of good laws and clear governmental protection of rights to counterbalance this asymmetry. or dangerous. instead of opening up debate with society at large. religious groups or media. In extreme cases. or simply be disappointment participants.untrustworthy. However. 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. 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. NGOs report outright bribing as a practice in these spaces of dialogue. etcetera) can close or disappear. newly created spaces where government agencies and civil society meet (such as social fora. round tables. It can. where threats are based on the prospect of punishment. The fifth element of our model is the category of existing spaces under pressure. be extremely difficult to see where cooperation ends. at times alternated with threats and intimidation. We use the term social stigmatization to point at the rejection of particular influences.
can be highly frustrating to parties involved. This is particularly problematic where the law or donors require “consultation” of target groups. However. In itself this is not a negative feature. when no follow up is given. injuries. and killings Preventive measures such as terrorism lists and terrorism task forces Impunity and lack of protection Restrictive NGObills on registration and operation Criminal stigmatization of specific actors Cooptation Investigation and prosecution for punitive purposes Closure of newly created space Social stigmatization of specific actors Ad-hoc measures by different government agencies Figure 2: Actions and policies that restrict operational space 15 . Such consultation can be perceived or used as ‘legitimising’ practice. There is also a ‘come and go’ of social and political spaces in partial democracies. or as a result of a change of government. but can be experienced as form of ‘fake space’.policies or measures. 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. closure of space as a result of incompatibility of views. a lack of confidence. instead of an actual possibility to give voice or to exert influence. since forms of interaction have to be developed and can be subject to change.
For the purpose of this study we make a distinction between the characteristics and functions of partners of ICCO. Professional NGOs are professionally run organizations with a specific expertise that aim to support particular target groups (either directly or indirectly). 2000: 66. 16 . Grassroots NGOs are membership organizations. The relationship with external agencies that provide knowledge. Function Service delivery Characteristics Professional NGOs Policy oriented Family planning agency.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. However. functions. and oftentimes also funded (either partly or entirely) by these agencies. a women’s organization. as well as their capacities to respond. or organizations with a clearly defined constituency (e. or providing technical support for farmer organizations. We call these local counterparts non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These organizations are largely funded by external donors. The partners of ICCO thus have in common that they are supported by external development agencies (or International NGOs). Both are of particular importance in order to understand the degree to which organizations experience restrictions. Local organizations that do not have 15 Adapted from Harry Blair. These organizations are often conveniently termed ‘non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs). public policy think tank Anti-mining association. or farmers’ organization) that is generally active at the local level and that have established direct relationships with international development agencies. and further clarification of the particular characteristics (what they are.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. constituency. This is a general and therefore rather vague concept. and geographical reach. political links. 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. contacts. there are many differences between these organizations. forestry users’ group Human rights group. instead of what they are not…) is therefore needed.g. Examples of NGOs are organizations lobbying for judicial or security sector reform. environmental group Grassroot NGOs Figure 3 . as many authors have argued. international relief agency Water users’ association. among others in terms of size.
which easily leads to struggles for power and resources and antagonistic relationships between groups. Claim-making and policy oriented groups make claims vis-à-vis other actors.g. Over time GROs can professionalize. membership and foreign funding can be present in different combinations. Particular organizations and persons can experience restrictions. and establish direct relations with funders and in that process obtain characteristics of Grassroots NGOs. for instance in anticorruption campaigns. because there are many mix-forms. 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. And while professional NGOs are not necessarily membership organizations and oftentimes aim to serve specific target groups in general (e. Thus. This is even more so when these NGOs challenge government policies or structures.these direct relationships are in our definition grassroots organizations (GROs). Obviously. Organizations that primarily work in the field of socioeconomic services focus on the delivery of services to target groups. Whereas in authoritarian regimes the very existence and ‘right to entry’ of this type of organisation can easily be blocked. but indirectly addresses the problems of GROs as well. 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 . This distinction is not unproblematic. while the great majority of NGOs and GROs is not affected by them. they can also be membership based (members can be individuals or grassroots organizations) or have a strong ‘local’ profile. homeless children. the variables of expertise. Thus. or landless farmers). policies and actions of governments and state institutions can be experienced differently by NGOs and GROs in the same country. Also. particular regions or sectors can be more affected than others. this can for instance become an issue in more hybrid democracies where governments introduce strict versions of NGO-legislation. which can have consequences on the experienced space of organizations. 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 not to say that organizations focusing on service delivery do not face problems. human rights abuses or security reform. It is more likely that these groups will experience tensions or confrontations with the actors they challenge. the distinction serves as a first effort to classify counterparts of ICCO. Although these trends are generally more present in authoritarian regimes. This also implies that within the category of partial democracies. A second distinction that we make for both NGOs is whether they are service oriented or claim making / policy oriented.
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.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. 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’. the EU. which includes a wide range of organizations. economic and political). however. The organizations that are subject of this study can all be seen as being part of a much broader and diverse group of human rights defenders (HRD). These groups are today increasingly called human rights defenders. 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. like the UN. but it is increasingly used by others in the field. in particular used for groups that experience restrictions. We do not ourselves employ the notion of HRD. 18 . The term is. or in a more coordinated fashion.
which included the introduction of electoral democracy. Alliances between civilians and military became the modus operandi. CEH. 2008:20). 16 The report of the CEH registered 626 massacres – the majority in the departments that are populated by indigenous peoples. corruption. 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 1954.2. that was known for its extremely high death toll and extreme human rights violations that particularly had affected the marginalized indigenous population (Azpura. when the army (with support of the CIA) toppled the democratically elected and reform-oriented government of president Alvaro Arbenz. The military also extended its powers into the administration of public enterprises. In principle. The security situation of these groups has deteriorated over the past decade. but is at the same time ‘under pressure’. a dynamic that gradually led to a hybrid civilian-military regime of violence and repression’ (ibid. 2006: 18. Civil society organisations played an important role in the peace process. The process ran parallel to a fragile process of democratisation. Chimaltenango. 1999). political parties and social movements. culminated into the signing of an Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace (Azpuru. Gavigan. 2006: 16). 19 .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. Groups touching topics that are related to vested interests can experience severe problems on top of this. justice and security on the one hand. 2009: 65). 1999:115. that had already started in the 1980s. 1999: 97). such as Quiché. but only partly affected the power of the military (Azpuru. the military institutions acquired ‘disproportionate power in relation to the public sector. insecurity and high indices of violence have an extremely negative impact on the operational space of all NGOs and GROs and hamper their work. many groups can operate relatively freely.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. and groups that enter into conflicts about resources at local level on the other hand. 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. This proved to be an extremely difficult process. Conciliation Resources. which had lasted almost six years. Thus. Alta y Baja Verapaz. but impunity. The peace agreement – in particular the Acuerdo sobre Fortalicimiento del Poder Civico (AFPC) – aimed to put an end to the military influence over political life (Pearce. The peace accords brought an end one of the longest and bloodiest armed conflicts in Latin America. 20) . 1997). with the head of state being – with a single exception – a military officer (Kruijt. 1999:97. Political context On 29 December 1996 the Guatemalan peace process.
control the arms trade. In 2007. while the state itself is challenged by criminal interests. Historically. infiltration and pressure of criminal groups on the state and political parties is considerable. Wola. while in three others they had a share of power (Gavigan. both at national and local levels (ibid). A major problem is the continuing influence and control of former military that – increasingly from ‘without’ the state . The weakness of the state also explains why criminal networks are gaining effective control over the state. 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. or parallel structures and political-criminal networks (Gavigan. 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 political establishment itself is extremely fragmented. 2009-183). Criminal networks. has gained new momentum now that Guatemala has become the centre of a drugs trans-shipment belt from the Andes to North America (Gavigan. This opposition continued during the peace negations and in the post-settlement period. This ‘accident of geography’ has led to extremely high levels of organised crime and crime-related violence (ibid). While the influence. These groups are variously called illicit power structures. criminal enterprises and security companies (Briscoe. including the head of the organised crime unit. 2007). Although it argues that some progress has been made in terms of anti-corruption activities. clandestine groups (Human Rights Watch 2009:184). which did lead to a downsizing of the army. Economic growth rates have been rather low over the past decades (average of 1% per annum). powerful economic elites have blocked social and economic reform and sought to maintain the status quo. 2009:70). This heritage of the (growing) economic interests of military during the civil war. While much of the violence and repression is orchestrated by actors that are outside of the realm of the state. However. 2009:62). 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. Minister Eduardo Stein claimed that in six out of 22 departments ‘crime cartels had gained effective control’. lead to a further weakening of the state apparatus. and although the percentage of Guatemalans that live in poverty has dropped in this period.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 case in 20 . This is related to the problematic implementation of the security and political reforms. They were presumably killed by senior members of Guatemala’s police. 2009: 5). both within and outside the realm of the state. A key challenge in post-settlement Guatemala is the continuing socio-economic inequalities and the question of how to address these (UNDP 2008). Organised crime is also said to finance political campaigns and political parties. 2009: 72). A case in point is the murder in Guatemala of three Salvadoran members of the Central American parliament and their driver in 2007. Less then 3% of the murder cases is resolved (Human Rights Watch. it states that the judiciary is still plagued by corruption and is extremely ineffective. After their arrest these police officers were themselves killed inside a maximum security prison (Hudson & Taylor. Guatemalan society suffers of high levels of violence. as well as the regular organisation of elections. 2009: 8). 2010: 57. 2008b:10). According to Briscoe (2009:9) there is ‘an astonishing series of fractures within the elites’ in Guatemala. 2009: 18). some of these actors have gained influence over state agencies.
the presidential candidates were generally well-known persons around which a number of political factions coalesced (Briscoe. Initially. An important part of this violence is related to criminal activities and drug trafficking. 1999: 254). In this period. New spaces for participation emerged in the second half of the 1980s.17 While the political space in Guatemala has increased over the past decades. 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. as well as to violence of youth gangs. However. This led. For instance. 2009: 67). with a marked influence of liberation theology (Biekart. and the counter-insurgency and repressive regime of the late 1970s and early 1980s has been reformed. 2010:3). These coalitions are generally unstable and characterised by infighting. however. when a change of military authorities took place that dissociated themselves from the outcomes of the earlier dialogues (ibid). 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. The fragmentation is also reflected in the landscape of political parties in Guatemala. the Committee for Peasant Unity (CUC). It was. 2004: 131-2). Guatemala is still one of the most violent countries in Latin America with over 6. 2009: 5). however. 2009: 7-8. This reversed. repression and murder’ (Kruijt. Pearce (2006: 18-9) describes how during the governance period of the FRG government –led by Portillo – this instability manifested itself. 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. Civil society and NGOs In the 1960s and 1970s the number of social organisations increased both in urban and rural areas (Garcia. Paris. the popular organisations of civil society that were heavily repressed during the late 1970s and early 1980s. 2008: 21). 2008). 18 Comision de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala 19 Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala 21 . 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. among others. 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’. This period became the ‘watershed years for the emergence of illicit power structures’ (Gavigan. In the countryside indigenous communities started to organise. the government was open to new dialogues with civil society. to the formation of a national Indian peasant organisation. among others in the field of security.point is the opposition against tax reforms that would raise Guatemala’s tax-rate which is one lowest in Latin America (Briscoe. Although changes of government in Guatemala have taken place after elections in the past decades.200 homicides in 2008 (Freedom House. most notably after the Portillo government (Pearce. 2006:20). by government forces that established a ‘machinery of control.
but stimulated the involvement of women’s organisations and coalitions of Indian organisations.also became interested in funding Guatemalan civil society. 2001: 152). most of these newly established organisations that played a role in the ASC had relations with external donors. which weakened the strategic capacity of many NGOs. This concern was also expressed in several of the interviews conducted for this study. 1999: 169). After the peace agreements. These international agencies sought to support civil society in different ways.that in the post-war years increased their budgets for Guatemala . 1997: 68. Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos de Guatemala(FAMDEGUA) 21 Council of Mayan Organisations of Guatemala 22 .148). however. In the period until the signing of the peace agreements. An important one is the disappointment about the results of the new spaces of dialogue with government 20 Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM). converting them into appendices of the state or into private initiatives dominated by the market’ (2001: 163). COPMAGUA played a key role in the Assembly for Civil Society and contributed to the Indigenous Rights Accord. In the second half of the 1980s new indigenous organisations were founded.20 Apart from these organisations. or ‘radical-cultural’ groups (Peace & Howell. Howell and Peace quote a director of a regional NGO that warned in 1995 that ‘financing must aim to strengthen civil society. not to alter the fundamental nature of its organizations. but Howell and Pearce (2001) argue that they shared an agenda of ‘institutional strengthening’ that was informed by a particular vision on civil society. With an estimated number of 2.500 NGOs and some 23. Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala (CONAVIGUA). They emphasised consensual approaches to civil society and ignored the importance of underlying conflicts and power inequalities (p. According to Siedel (1997:68) this process showed that ‘non-indigenous intermediaries were no longer necessary’. bilateral and multilateral donors . 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. This assembly was boycotted by the business sector. the relations were mostly with international NGOs. such as CONAVIGUA. In Guatemala NGOs like GAM. 2010:4). Biekart. 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. there was also an increase in the number of independent Mayan organisations. CONAVIGUA and FAMDEGUA were founded (ibid). 1999:257-8). However. 2001: 148-9). CERJ and CONDEG (Biekart. It shows that the relationship of external donors with NGOs and GROs not only influences the way NGOs and GROs function internally.Mexico) (Garcia. 1997: 67-8). 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. but also the ways in which they make use of new political space. The authors mention a number of problems. At the same time. they argue that civil society is fragile in terms of their capacity to influence policy. 1999: 256). 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. as well as the values they promote.000 GROs Falisse and SaenzCorella (2009:11) call Guatemalan civil society ‘vibrant and complex’. 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.
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. This phenomenon is not unique to Guatemala. the movement has lost some cohesion and force. security sector reform and justice are generally seen as rather successful and proactive (Garcia. During the peace negotiations this was already an issue for some Indian organisations that feared to be dominated by ‘ladino’ organisations (Biekart. 1999:256). 2009:11). Most of these organisations have long-standing relationships with international NGOs and many of them have participated in dialogues with government agencies. a key issue for indigenous communities – has ceased. hydroelectric firms. this issue of representation of NGOs is important and linked to the historical ethnical divisions in Guatemalan society. But tensions are also reported between urban-based NGOs and local GROs (Falisse & Saenz-Coreralla. not a cohesive group that agree on objectives and strategies. and a lack of cooperation between NGOs. it is fair to say that not all NGOs necessarily need to be membership-based or to have a clearly defined constituency. their representation of non-ladino groups is not very strong. 36-7.agencies that were created over the past decades (see also the next section). which are also reflected in the NGO-sector. Other problems are leadership problems. the transformation of popular movements into NGOs (‘ngo-ization’). absorb funds and resources. Civicus). It is mostly urban-based. The indigenous movements have grown over the past decades. With the new ascendancy of companies exploiting resources (like mining companies. while other sectors have shown a remarkable strength and resilience. but it seems that after the successful mobilisation of the indigenous movement in the 1990s. but an often heard critique about the consequences of some providers of foreign assistances that foster ‘opportunistic NGOs’. NGOs working in these fields are. The above-mentioned sector of NGOs is thus a particular branch of the Guatemalan NGO-sector. and insecurity and threats (Falisse & Saenz-Corella. 2010:5. while others have become actively involved in processes of formulation and implementation of government policies. Also. including the persecution and criminalisation of indigenous leaders (see the case of San Marcos elsewhere in this text). Falisse and Saenz-Corella. 2009:12-3. Although. 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). palm oil plantations) this has led in a number of regions to severe polarisation and escalation. 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. Land issues have become more important and the struggle for indigenous rights is in many places linked to a struggle for territory. 2009:11). NGOs that are working in the field of human rights. 23 . lobby. and while some organisations have a (historical) constituency. dependency of external donors (both in terms of recourses and ideas). 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. cross-over of NGO staff to government agencies. These organisations are involved in activities like research. and then disappear. however. This is not to say that their self organisation and struggles – such as the struggle for land. and policy debates.
attacks on human rights defenders. which equals an average of 17 killings per day (UN. still poorly understood. 14). 7-10). however.g. the number of homicides in Guatemala reached a startling 6. 2010: 7. Although state actors (such as – former – police or military) are involved in repression and intimidation. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial. A separate discussion of each field can show the relative importance of each in the case of Guatemala. 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. mayors) as well as local villagers. 24 . and violence against prisoners (ibid. criminal and political interests which can include the involvement of local police. Sectors that were particularly vulnerable in 2009 are trade union members (84 cases). mining and labor rights. 2009b:6).5. In the following discussion we focus on two sectors that are most affected. 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 groups working in the ‘urban’ based human rights and justice sector and groups working at the local-level with issues like land. and that although this has not reached the level of ‘officially-sanctioned policy. and killed by strangulation. Philip Alston indicated five types of particularly problematic types of killings: social cleansing. September 2009. p. but it is important to reiterate that in many cases there are links between different kinds of restrictions. with a marked 38% rise in 2009 in comparison to 2008 (Udefegua. 8). femicide. Repression and intimidation In the year 2008. these restrictions cannot simply be attributed to the state. Restrictions of groups working in the field of human rights. characterised by endemic impunity for crimes and violations committed against them’ (UN. 23 Guatemala is number one in cases of femicide. The Rapporteur states that there is evidence that the national police (PNC) and de Division of Criminal Investigations (DINC) are involved in these killings..292.23 This phenomenon is. lynching. summary or arbitrary executions. journalists (43 cases) and persons working in the field of truth finding (96 cases) (ibid. 2009a:2). Both will be discussed below. different combinations of actors are responsible for the repression and intimidation experienced by organisations working in different sectors. government representatives (e. El Quetzal 4. In 2009. 7). 16). Restrictions experienced by groups involved in local struggles about the control and use of resources is related to specific local combinations of local business.Restrictive policies and actions This section discusses the five types of restrictive policies and actions that were identified in chapter 1. There are estimates that between 8 and 10 percent of the killings are the result of social cleansing (of criminals and gang members).*. the majority of them killed in the age between 16 and 30. Moreover. and the justice system fails to adequately investigate and prosecute these cases (ibid. justice and truth can mainly be attributed to groups with relations to the (former) military. Over 10 percent of the homicides are women. There is a worrisome trend in Guatemala of increasing violations of members of NGOs and GROs.+ they are ‘more than just the actions of a few rogue officers’ (ibid.
interception of telephones.or. This was part of wave of intimidation against woman’s organisations in that period. In a recent analysis of the situation of human rights defenders in Guatemala. in The Wall Street Journal. security and truth reported restrictions as a result of intimidation and repression. and shadowing by armoured cars of offices and houses of staff. another partner of ICCO reported increasing control and vigilance in May 2009. which was recently prolonged.. There are also other urban NGOs.24 All have experiences of (periods of) anonymous telephone calls.28 The repression and intimidation experienced by grassroots organisations in the countryside has different characteristics. In many cases.’ This led to demonstrations both in favor and against left-centre president Colom. Fundación Myrna Mack. 25 . 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. This protection is the result of a resolution of the Inter-American Court for human Rights in 2002.corteidh.cr/docs/medidas/mackchang_se_06. Caso Mack Chang y otros. The New York Times. 28 Kerk in Actie (member of ICCO Alliance) financed these measures. It is not only human rights NGOs that experience these kinds of restrictions. See Murder-Case Finding Shocks Guatemala. e-mails. that were intimidated during certain periods. justice. a period of rapidly increasing political tensions in Guatemala after the death of Rosenberg. 25 This lawyer left a videotaped message saying among others: ‘My name is Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano. Fundacion Myrna Mack. and ICCPG. 2010: 16). CIIDH. Cedepca chose for an unarmed guard – which is quite unusual in Guatemala. and conflicts around mining companies in Izabal (ibid. SEDEM is ICCO’s counterpart that has experienced numerous problems. 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. online available at http://www. and Report on Lawyer’s Death Eases a Political Crisis in Guatemala. Udefegua (2010:24) reports an increase in the number of violations of human rights defenders at local level.26 It is interesting to note that the Guatemalan government representatives themselves argued that this prolongation was still necessary. January 13. January 14. like local conflicts about land and palm oil plantations in El Petén. 2010:24-40). 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. Mayra Alarcon. thus clearing his name and easing the political crisis. The UN-backed CICIG mission in Guatemala investigated the case and concluded that Colom was not involved. 2010. 16 March 2010. It also explores a number of cases that are considered paradigmatic.All partners of ICCO working in the field of human rights.27 Finally. and/or periods of polarisation at a national level.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. CIIDH. these practices were linked to the fact that (a member of) an organisation spoke out on a particular issue. Unfortunately if you are seeing this message it’s because I was killed by President Álvaro Colom. ICCO’s counterpart ICCPG experienced problems in 2006-2007 when they campaigned against the death penalty.pdf 27 Authors interview. 26 See Resolución de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos de 16 de Noviembre 2009. 2010. Medidas Provisionales respeto de Guatemala. Udefegua reported 21 violations of SEDEM over the year 2009. For instance. which makes SEDEM one of the most affected organisations countrywide (Udefegua.
thefreelibrary.1-2) and the detention. Members of MTC have been involved in protests against the Marlin Mine and experienced various kinds of restrictions (see next section). Most of the cases discussed have in common that the use of resources (land. One of them is the Movimiento de Trabajadores/as Campesinos/as San Marcos (MTC). water) by large land estates or international corporations cause local tensions.31 The tensions have increased and in December 2009 the government of Guatemala declared the ‘state of exception’. members of the communities. raw materials.-a0223389766 32 A state of emergency was also declared in the case of the protests against the cement mine in San Juan Zacatepéquez. Issue 4 on the attack on a women’s leader in Nebaj. Repression and intimidation are used by a variety of actors. local people also become involved in these conflicts that can turn violent. 28 april 2010 (MO). Some members of MTC are also involved in the Frente de Resistencia en Defensa de Recursos Naturales y Derechos de los Pueblos (FRENA). They use violent means.com/GUATEMALA:+RISING+DISCONTENT+AGAINST+ENERGY+COMPANY+UNION+FENO SA. or even police and military. Latin America Database. drug traffickers.Quetzal. To date. a curfew was imposed on the population. September 2009. 31 See Bart van Bael. or employ gunmen.php?id=348&tx_uwnews_pi2%5Bart_id%5D=28289&cHash=6e4d7d8ae7 And Louisa Reynolds. Rural Women’s Network Leader Attacked and Robbed. 1-2.29 In a report of a recent fact-finding mission to Guatemala the details are given of twelve cases of local conflict about the use of resources (Fian et al. to safeguard access to resources and to prevent individuals and organisations to mobilise and make claims. However. David en Goliath in Guatemala. After this attack she was intimidated by the very mayor who stopped his car in the street. in June 2008 and lasted two weeks (El Quetzal #5:2) 26 . a movement in the department of San Marcos that protests against the deficient distribution and high prices of electricity company Union Fenosa. 2010:38). online available at http://www. Staat van beleg beschermt Spaanse elektriciteitsleverancier. private security services. Rising Discontent Against Energy Company Union Fenosa. 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. FIAN reports that ‘human rights defenders. persons attached to the church and researchers who oppose the Marlin project have been repeatedly threatened. and the area was under control of the armed forces. torture and forced exile of villagers attempting to exhume the remains of their fathers who had been murdered in the 1980s. #4.32 Popular protests and the right to bear firearms were temporarily suspended. Alvaro Ramazzini. pp.be/index. Bishop of San Marcos’ (Fian et al. oftentimes combinations of nonstate actors – such as criminals.3). attacked.mo. A case in point is the attack on the leader of a Rural Women’s Network (RMI) in Nebaj. an emergency measure to restore law and order.org/ See among others the following Issues of El Quetzal: Issue 5 on the activism against a cement min in San Juan Sacatepéquez (p. Among these victims was Mons. MO* Magazine. The leader of this movement was attacked in the town hall by three local women. focused the headlights on her and shot six bullets into the air. 30 See El Quetzal. 29 See http://www. onilne available at http://www.ghrc-usa. or international corporations with some support of local government agencies. harassed and intimidated. In a number of cases repression has led to murders by gunmen. 2010: 29-53). Izabal (p.1-2) and on the murder of a community leader in El Estor. Quiché |(p.30 Counterparts of ICCO in Central America are obviously also confronted with these problems. Guatemala.
the charges against Lopez were dismissed. When police came to arrest her. 2010.pidhdd.San Marcos remains under the state of emergency. See declaration of FRENA. not led to deescalation of the conflict. On 13 January 2010 3 leaders were killed when travel from Guatemala City to San Marcos.-.36 Apart from these cases there are also cases of criminalization of NGO-staff. including of terrorism. community members prevented this from happening. 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. 2010:8). in El Quetzal # 5. Furthermore. however. using communication strategies (of information and/or misinformation).37 Another case of criminalization was the charge against Raul Figueroa – an editor of human rights publications 33 34 See Louisa Reynolds. in particular of individuals involved in conflicts around resources. During that period 43 community members were reportedly arrested for six weeks and released for a fine of $ 14. economic. pp. 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. Rising Discontent.org/content/view/1549/86/ 35 See Community Organizers in San Juan. social and cultural rights’ (UN. For instance. in June 2009 residents from the villages near the Marlin Mine burned won Goldcorp’s machinery.org 27 . For instance.35 This case shows that conflicts about mining can lead to high levels of local polarization and escalation and create deep fissures in communities. After the murder of a local resident that was in favor of the mine. 37 See www.. Needless to say that protestors sometimes do break the law and might even use violence themselves.500.1-2.+ the arbitrary use of criminal proceedings against defenders upholding collective. These charges also severely restrict the possibilities to operate freely and have forced the accused persons to go into hiding. Eventually. What is striking. a local leader against the Marlin Mine Crisanta was charged and went into hiding. however. there are indications that the criminalization of members of GROs and social movements that struggle against is on the rise (Fian et al. but rather to the contrary. Although data about these cases are not systematized. 2010:54). president Colom declared a two-week State of Emergency. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala received reports of ‘*. Mining companies become deeply involved in these local level disputes and struggle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of local people. 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. environmental.33 This has. Crisanta. in San Juan Sacatepéque a community leader said it had 32 accusations against him. 36 Authors interview with Juan José Monterosso. This was seen as an attempt to discourage López’s human rights advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community. ICCO’s partner MTC is also confronted with these kinds of criminal proceedings. Sacatepéquez Accused of Terrorism for Activism Against Cement Mine. 18 March 2010. Quetzaltenango. online available at http://www.34 Criminalisation There are many cases of criminalization in Guatemala.humanrightsfirst. local projects and the cooptation of local leaders and residents to gain (sufficient) acceptance. and other professionals. advisor of MTC.
The organizations included in this study. Although these reforms have led to tangible changes for civil society organizations. In the post-settlement years several political reforms have taken place that affect the space of civil society organizations.who was charged .php?option=com_content&task=viewp&id=976&Itemid=8 39 See blog of Raul Figueroa at http://raulfigueroasarti.blogspot. The constitution of 1985 that recognizes basic citizen rights is called a breach with an (authoritarian) past. This charge had political undertones. 2010:10). such as the modernization of the political system.wola.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. mentioned administrative problems that were not necessarily related to the NGO-law.org/index. Ceadel argued that the local branche of the Ministry of Labor was biased in conflicts between workers (supported by Ceadel) and these corporations. while Ceadel complained that the same ministry failed to control the corporations working in the Chimaltenango area. which created problems to withdraw money from the bank account (for which approval of the board is necessary). the National Union of Guatemalan Women. Ceadel. online available on http://www. and in the present day.for alleged copyright infringement and sentenced to one year in prison. F & G Editores. and the Association for the Study and Promotion of Security in Democracy (SEDEM). The ones that do experience problems. These include works by the Myrna Mack Foundation. Several organisations reported problems with different government bureaucracies that were perceived as purposive obstructions.’38 After lodging an appeal to this decision. Falisse and Sanz-Corealla mention that the NGO-law that was adopted in 2003 has several flaws. an NGO based in Guatemala City reported problems to have changes in the board registered. however. These include report of the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH). in February 2010 Raul Figueroa was cleared of these charges. but severely limited in practice (Falisse and Sanz Corella. the process of decentralization and the creation of new spaces of dialogue between state and civil society. because of the dual registration (at municipal level and with the Ministry of Finance).com/ 28 . favouring the latter. an NGO based in Chimaltenango and working on labour rights mentioned that it was visited at least once a month by the local branch of the Ministry of Labour that controlled their financial accountancy. experience different types of administrative measures or forms of bureaucratic 38 WOLA Press Release. As WOLA explained in a press release: ‘Figueroa’s press. is the leading publisher of books that spark political and social debate in Central America. For instance. CIVICUS described this context as theoretically favorable. Moreover. SEDEM. we would thus suggest that Guatemalan NGO legislation does not lead to major problems among the NGOs that we included in our survey. the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala. All in all. as well as a number of books on human rights abuses during the civil war.
among others in the media (for instance in newspaper columns) but also in the public sphere (both national and local level). healthcare. in FS37). 2007. ‘Bishop Ramazzini in Danger: Assassination Plot in Guatemala’ online available at http://www.40 When at a later stage an assassination plot against the Bishop was discovered. He related this to the weakness of the state: ‘There is 40 Example taken from Houston Catholic Worker. 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. It is extremely complex to prove these types of relationships between accusations and repressive measures. and agriculture) mentioned their involvement in one or more dialogues or forums that discussed problems. One director of a network of NGOs that participated in a series of dialogues and forums about agrarian issues argued that on the one hand he found these meetings very useful and important. It is difficult to draw the line between stigmatisation and critique. Existing spaces under pressure Over the past decades there has been a growing interaction between representatives of civil society and government agencies. A similar example is the case of the human rights NGO ICCPG that defends the rights of prisoners and is accused of ‘defending criminals’. These discussions and accusations can become part of broader processes of polarisation and escalation. there is also critique on at least a number of these practices. For instance. or bills. these accusations are often experienced as extremely stressful. it was suggested that Berger’s accusation had played a role in this process. while on the other hand he experienced a lack of political will to implement the plans that were discussed. Stigmatization The problem of stigmatization is mentioned by many interviewees for this study. Many representatives of NGOs that were interviewed for this study (working in such diverse fields as human rights. For the staff of local organisations that is accused. Although in general this has contributed to a capacity to dialogue. in which at least one peasant was shot to death while protesting the passage of mining equipment through Sololá towards San Marcos. In general.cjd.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. but related to other forms of restrictions. SEDEM was criticised for exaggerating the number of human rights. discuss policy options and to (try to) build consensus. and after the peace agreement the ‘spaces’ of dialogue between government and civil society have multiplied (Calvaruso et al.org/paper/ramazzi. 2005.html 29 . policies. which may be a point for discussion. politically motivated repressive acts do take place in a context where different actors debate with each other about the causes and dynamics of existing social tensions and about who is responsible for these tensions. These practices received an impulse during the peace negotiations. Berger stated that the bishop as an "authentic leader" should have been able to calm the protesting peasants. one can argue that an organisation is in fact being stigmatized. Most cases of stigmatization were not isolated acts.
This was accepted after internal discussions and a number of conditions were formulated. As a result many representatives of NGOs told they had become more selective about the kinds of initiatives in which they participated. 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. There is also ample discussion between NGOs about what kind of relationship to build with government agencies. Guatemala City. Guatemala City. decided not to participate in the national level agrarian platform. the director of the Fundación Myrna Mack. 30 . Mayra Alarcon.43 Another example of an innovative space that was created by NGOs is the Instancia. 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. Where more confrontational organisations emphasise the distance to the government.’41 Another staff member of an NGO who had participated in numerous dialogues in various sector over the past ten years. Fundacion Myrna Mack. one organisation being more academic and wishing to impact on state policies.not only the problem of corruption. Thus. Pearce (2006: 39) gives a related example of two organisations producing work on the military budget. which is also a sign of the contradictions within this sector. Pearce (2006: 37-8) gives examples of diverging ideas of organisations working in the field of security and justice. But the frustrating thing is that we are reaching consensus about things that cannot be implemented.’42 Another frustration about these dialogues that was frequently reported was the lack of continuity as a result of turnover of ministers or staff. reached a similar conclusion: ‘We have learned a lot from these dialogues. 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. Helen Mack Chang. Authors interview. Here. was asked the head the Presidential Commission for Police Reform. the negative experiences with the state from the past and the present. The negotiations with the ‘real powers’ never takes place. MTC. a counterpart of ICCO. there are clearly different views about the nature and form of the political space that is created. It has no means to comply its functions. 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). Thus. 16 March 2010. According to a facilitator of the movement this was 41 42 Authors interview. This may actually be a sign of a more mature use of the spaces available. Guatemala City. these organisations are criticised by others for ‘still living in the past’ and even of cultivating the image of ‘being persecuted and attacked’. 43 Authors interview. like the total financial independence of Mack. 38). 17 March 2010. we noted a certain degree of fatigue with regard to contacts in general with different government agencies. and a greater propensity to think strategically about opportunities in existing spaces. The former positioned itself less politically and was therefore better placed to talk more directly to the military. and the other aiming to mobilise a social and political constituency. 19 March 2010. The situation at local level is much more complex. but the state has also sold most of its assets.
the ‘urban’ based human rights and justice sector and groups working at the local-level with issues like land. such as victim’s organizations.understandable. Quetzaltenango. This implies that civil groups. With regard to the crimes committed during the war years. more or less confrontational) also has an impact on the sort of relationship that is establishes. 18 March 2010. Although both types of problems are related to the same problems of impunity. ASECSA. We first discuss the two sectors that we focused on in the previous sections. The murder of Bishop Geraldi. compensated and prevented from occurring’ (2008:37). two days after the publication of REMHI's report. while the state ‘has yet to fully adopt the appropriate measures so that crimes can be judged. Impunity Watch concluded that the magnitude of the human rights violations of these years is only partially acknowledged by the state. mining and labor rights. 31 . among others the limited availability of resources. misuse of the law and non-compliance and the lack of political will to combat impunity (ibid. Truth finding and justice are extremely sensitive in Guatemala. Truth. we discuss the problems of NGOS and GROs that can be attributed to the generalized sphere of impunity and insecurity. On the job trouble This section discusses the ways restrictive actions and policies were experienced by different organisations. 1998. Furthermore. Therefore they emphasized the need to prepare themselves for this. on the 26 of April. In this regard the style and image of organisations (more or less willing to cooperate with government agencies. both at local and at national level. the restrictions that are experienced are somewhat different. Facilitator of MTC.’44 The way that organisations deal with government agencies is also linked to their mission and historical relations to the state. and that criticising the government was still seen as ‘risky’. A number of obstacles that contribute to impunity are mentioned. that plans to do more lobby work in the future. Apart from this adverse opportunity structure. while interest groups that feel betrayed will more likely enter into confrontation. It is interesting to note that many interviewees emphasised that some degree of moderation was necessary in the forums in which they participated. but nevertheless a missed opportunity: ‘MTC should really grasp these opportunities. 37-40). human rights. More technical organisations may be more open to dialogue. 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. persecuted or killed (2008: 40). groups working in this field run the risk of being harassed. and a number of NGOs are dealing with both sets of problems. is a dramatic example of 44 Authors interview with Juan José Monterosso. an ICCO partner working in the field of healthcare. are confronted with serious limitations in their efforts to know the truth and to claim their rights of justice and reparation. noted that this might create more problems for the organization.
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. they held them by force. When the former leaders of the paramilitary Civil Patrol (PAC) that were active during the war years noticed this. SEDEM has taken several measures to deal with possible threats. Antigua Guatemala. The director of ICCPG told that in the period that staff of the organisation received threats. 47 A Discussion with Alvaro Ramazzini. She remembers this period as a very difficult one for the organisations.45 An example of the problems that truth finding generates at local level is given by the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission. local NGOs and GROs that are involved in conflicts around the use of resources such as land and water. San Marcos reflects Guatemala’s extremely skewed land tenure. In a recent lecture Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini called San Marcos ‘the mirror of Guatemala’s situation’. Grove Press. The more these organisations address sensitive issues or speak out against particular groups. The threats and intimidation have consequences on the well-being of staff. As already mentioned in the previous section. 46 See ‘Detained. such as evacuation plans – that include safe transport home for all staff in periods when the organisation runs particular risks. These risks also cause psychological problems of staff that have to be dealt with in a professional way. The Art of Political Murder.edu/interviews/a-discussion-with-alvaro-ramazzini-bishop-of-sanmarcos 32 . justice and impunity still receives threats and intimidations on a regular basis. whipped them and doused them with gasoline. the more troubles these organisations experience with NGOs like Udefegua and SEDEM (an ICCO partner) being targeted most severely. 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. forcing the villagers in exile. 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). Resource conflicts In comparison to the problems experienced by urban-based NGOs. 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. Tortured. 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 his employer fired him for being absent too frequently.47 Thus. Who Killed the Bishop?. 2009. online available at http://berkleycenter. Bishop of San Marcos. pp. 4-5. January 30.georgetown. In order to attend the meetings he regularly had to take a day off from his work.46 It can still be very sensitive for people to openly talk about these issues. and the absence of any land reform in Guatemala’s past is dearly felt. he didn’t mention the reasons for his absence. New York. while the restrictions is of individuals and organisations are less visible. and Forced Into Exile by their Fathers’ Assassins. In the previous chapter the case of ICCO partner MTC in San Marcos was already mentioned. as well as in the highlands. as well as the fulfilment of labor rights are generally more complex. urban based NGOs that address issues of security. However.this. 2007. staff was not prepared and either reacted panicking. where members of this movement are struggling against the Marlin mine. or was in denial. in El Quetzal 4. About the murder of Geraldi see Francisco Goldman.
and stigmatisation go hand in hand. and women workers. while in parts of the region poppy is cultivated. 50 Cristanta received many threats.51 Advocating labor rights is extremely sensitive.pdf 51 This summary of CEADELs work is from the website of the Internatinol Labor Rights Forum.49 At the same time. youth. Obligations to consult the local population and to take in environmental risks have insufficiently been taken into account For more information on theMarlin Min. San Marcos is heavily affected by drug trafficking. conflicts against mining companies or hydro electric dams generate intense local level conflicts. In most cases. adolescents. with a mandate to improve working and living conditions for marginalized groups such as children. See o PeaceBrigades Internatioal. a local leader from a hamlet in San Marcos that is very close to the Marlin Mine. The problems experienced by MTC are in the first place the consequence of these structural problems and the resistance and action of different local groups (such as land labourers or protestors against mines) against these vested interests have led to the whole range of restrictive policies and actions that we discussed in the previous paragraph. and its activities are heavily opposed by local movements. is a case in point. power and protection (following Keen. 2008: 15).org/espanol/files/Informe_Casas_Rajadas. where different powerful groups (such as narcos and criminal gangs. 2009:16-7). palm oil and bananas in the coastal areas that make use of temporary labor force coming from the highlands. CEADEL has similar experiences in the region of Chimaltengo. The law on mining in Guatemala is flawed and exempts companies from taxes during the first seven years of operation.org/rights-for-working-women/partner-spotlight/ceadel-in-guatemala. which led to her going into hiding with the help of the Catholic Church.In 2006 Goldcorp acquired the Marlin Mine that is exploited by Empresa Montana Exploradora. arguing that the mine harms the environment. as well as corporations and ‘finqueros’) pursue their own interests in different parts of the department. In the case of Crisanta it were her direct neighbours that were allegedly paid off by the company that become her greatest enemy (Rodriguez. while the state is weak and the rule of law are almost absent. 2006. The community itself is divided about the mine. and that the explosions of the mine damage their houses. CEADEL has developed a special focus on child labor. On many occasions workers are not paid the minimum wage of 52 quetzals. 50 See about the damage done to houses a study commissioned by the Diocese of San Marcos together with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. criminalisation. She protested against the activities of the Marlin Mine. alternative systems of profit. repression and intimidation. adolescent labor. uses all the water. online available at http://resistenciamineria. and women workers in the formal sector – both in non traditional agricultural sectors and in the maquilas. 33 . which proves to be extremely problematic. CEADEL was founded in April 1999 in Chimaltenango. which has been partly the result of pay offs of the mine. Here local conflicts should not just be seen as just a breakdown in a particular system. The organization also works with youth and addresses problems of youth gangs.cultivation of coffee. . MTC operates in an extremely complex setting. online available at http://www. The experience of Gregoria Crisanta Perez. but rather as the emergence of other. MTC is also working with labourers of large land estates in the coastal zones of San Marcos. For instance. since 48 49 Ibid.laborrights. In many cases these conflicts lead to divisions at local level between different (groups in) communities.48 There are also problems around extractive industries. Over the years. And interview with Juan José Monterosso.
CEADEL has established relations with international companies that use factories in the region of Chimaltenango. Staff of CEADEL reports that it receives anonymous threats over the phone (in the office and at home). For instance.52 Chronic insecurity Central America is currently one of the most insecure and violent regions in the world. many people have warned staff of CEADEL that their work is dangerous. There are many examples of the first case of material or financial loss. and since CEADEL was mentioned in the article this meant a boost for the organisation. (iii) organised crime impedes or actively prohibits NGOs and GROs to do your their organising or capacity building work. however. However. Nevertheless. which is reflected in staggering homicide rates and high levels of crime (UNDP. minimum age of workers and security payments. organisational and commercial support to local producer groups. Not every organisation can afford itself armed guards (that most international organisations have). This chronic insecurity creates different kinds of problems and restrictions to NGOs and GROs: (i) criminality causes material and financial losses of organisations. 2009). each of these will be discussed. Local organisations. Chimaltenango. This led to much attention for US firms working in the region. it definitely affects local groups in their efforts to move ahead. 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. (i) Material and financial losses. working hours.many businesses do not comply with legal norms about wages. the insecurity also puts the cooperation with German volunteers at risk. It is. the reporting of some of the national media on labor rights in the region is rather critical. When Georg W Bush visited the area in March 2007. part of the harvest that was stored of an association of coffee producers was stolen. while telephone lines are intercepted and armoured cars park in front of the office to follow staff leaving the office. But apart from material and financial losses. Today the German counterparts responsible for the recruitment of volunteers fear that the risks are becoming too high. Thus. CEADEL also reports a deficient government control of the corporations in the region. the use of child labor in the area was mentioned in the New York Times. (ii) insecurity and violence lead to social and emotional problems of staff. but at least they will invest in fences.. which organisations take to protect their premises. 19 March 2010. An example is OPCION. causing severe economic problems to this association. interesting to note that although there are also instances of stigmatization and insults to CEADEL. Although codirector Oscar de Leon says that insecurity has not necessarily increased over the past ten years. Below. 52 Authors interview with Gabriel . working in socio-economic projects experience particular problems related to crime. Also men and women run risks when collecting money for a rotating credit scheme. CEADEL director Gabriel reports that the administration of CEADEL is controlled on a very regular basis. a partner of ICCO that provides technical.. 34 . For instance the security measures. For instance. insecurity and crime also affect a part of the international network of this NGO. Apart from this there is also the risk for staff to be attacked. It is thus not surprising that CEADEL is confronted with different kinds of reactions caused by corporations and by different government agencies.
ymcaguatemala. 35 . a Christian organisation that organises trainings.(ii) Social and emotional problems. Apart from the violence that staff of the organisation can experience itself. We heard several examples of attacks or threats to staff of NGOs that at first were seen as a political attack. In 1993 it changed its mission into the formation and training of local leaders. 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.org/ In the region of Amatitlán there is a lot of activity of drug trafficking gangs and involvement of local police is suspected. Although the case was never resolved. (iii) The perverse impact of organised crime. ‘They are confronted on a daily basis with these stories and in almost every workshop they give. it is confronted with many of the stories of negative experiences of the participants. it became clear that one of the victims had had links with a local criminal gang (before) that for unknown reasons had targeted him. to stimulate dialogue. the ‘attribution’ of violent incidents and threats is a problem in its own right. because of the huge financial interests involved. and social cleansing of youth (suspected gang members and criminals) has been a growing problem over the past years. when travelling to communities. The director of CEDEPCA. 53 Paul Menchu.54 One and a half month after the murder two other members of ACJ were harassed by local military. But more importantly. There are many stories of organised crime affecting the functioning of local organisations and the interventions of NGOs. seminars and discussion groups for men and women says that 95% of the women attending courses of the organisation have experienced some kind of violence. Young people – the main target group – are less interested in voluntary work. not clear whether this was related to the earlier incidents. while the two other youngster were no direct targets. or to open up local political space. says that the changing national context has deeply influenced the work of ACJ. This kind of local control is not compatible with initiatives of local GROs or external NGOs that aim to empower local actors. ACJ has worked in Guatemala as of 1964. A local Guatemalan NGO is currently investigating this case. The growing influence of drug traffickers catches the eye.’ the director says. but then the case was investigated (by staff themselves) and it appeared to be ‘just’ a criminal attack. CEDEPCA thus identified a need to support its staff to process these stories so as to be able to do its work. 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. there are risks that have to be taken into account. In 2008 three volunteers of ACJ were brutally assassinated in the Amatitlán area. however. 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)’. Thus. The atmosphere of insecurity leads to emotional problems and stress of many common people that are confronted with violence and crime. director ACJ Guatemala. the increasing violence and insecurity have created problems in the neighbourhoods where the organisation works. It is. or that hear others talk about incidents or read about it in the newspapers. buying off local politicians and church leaders so as to establish a form of local control. In the same year that 53 54 See ACJs website http://www.
but Menchu now realizes that analysis of the local context is fundamental in youth work.57 As of this period. These problems deeply affected ACJs work.58 SEDEM also played an important role in advising other NGOs and GROs in Guatemala and Central America. Guatemala City. an ICCO partner. it absorbed lots of time and resources from the organisation and affected the work on the ground.sedem. 57 See for more information on the Programa de Seguridad Juvenil http://centroamericajoven. an art collective based in Guatemala City that uses performing arts to create alternatives for young people in the arrios.55 After this murder ACJ was confronted with different kinds of problems. including threats (telephone) of staff. there is a growing attention for measures to protect these groups. eight members of another counterpart of ICCO. respect for human rights and strengthening the rule of law. See http://news. eight members of another counterpart of ICCO. Caja Ludica. intimidation and criminalisation. ACJ started to use the term human rights defenders. In the face of increasing human rights violations against members of NGOs and GROs. spying. focusing on the restrictions that are the result of repression.’56 ACJ was supported by several other organisations in dealing with the consequences of the murder. and those measures that aim to address the causes of these restrictions by working for justice. One of the four regional commissions of this programme deals with the issue of protection of human rights defenders. 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. ACJ also established a relationship with ICCOs PSJ programme.pdf 59 Programa de Democratización y Fortalecimiento del Estado de Derecho 36 . journalists and those working in the justice branch advising on many topics.html?article_id=4425c6869429bc8b63631f235bf798fd 56 Authors interview. 2002.org 58 See SEDEM. 17 March 2010. One of the first groups in Guatemala that started to work with practical advice about how to deal with restrictions like intimidation. arguing that ACJ volunteers are also human rights defenders. Responses This section focuses on the responses of NGOs and GROs to restrictions in their operational space. Particularly Udefegua played an important role in this. were killed. Guia de Protección para Defensores de Derechos Humanos. and requests for help to relocate of the family of one of the young men that was killed. stigmatisation of volunteers of the organisation (they were called gang members). This made clear that NGOs working in tense situations need to have clarity about who are in control locally. For instance. and abduction was SEDEM.eltecolote. problems with the municipality that wanted to withdraw the license to use a local building. as well as the building and strengthening of a democratic security sector and the rule of law in Guatemala. In 2002 it developed a manual for human rights defenders. online available at http://www.org.org/news/view_article.the ACJ members were murdered. Periodistas y Operadores de Justicia. In this regard a distinction can be made between more practical measures of persons and organisations in need for protection or support.gt:8080/sedem/publicaciones/libros/guia. The murders had taken ACJ by surprise. 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. Over the past years 55 Caja Ludica. Caja Ludica.
however. For instance. While it is certainly true that ACJ works in an adverse context. which makes it particularly difficult to make claims to the state. but these persons are relatively visible. however. These international contacts are extremely important in ‘defence strategies’. This has. All in all. or both’.Udefegua started to play a very important role in this field. a discussion on how and when to use these terms may necessary. Some of the staff of these organisations receives threats on a very regular basis. The state is weak and the rule of law almost absent. Many of the measures were taken on an ad-hoc basis. However. Although staff of the organisation puts these provisional measures into perspective saying ‘we don’t know if they are protecting us. 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. Persons and organisations working at a local level deal in more pragmatic and ad-hoc ways with the tensions they experience. that urban-based human rights organisations and persons are better positioned to protect themselves. So while there is no need to question the human rights discourse and the role of human rights defenders. among others. Most interviewees mentioned. whose director noted that the concept of defence of human rights had become more important after the murder of three of its members. whether local organisations should themselves actively use this label. The need to intensify the work in favour of human rights defenders at grassroots level is increasingly recognized. and this led among others to the decision of this organisation to call themselves grassroots human rights defenders (defensores de base). See EU. Ensuring protection – 37 . In a similar vein psychological help was rejected. where the right to organise and promote youth leadership is not guaranteed and thus requires a response. among others by Udefegua. the protection would not have materialised without international pressure. In the case of San Marcos a local leader had to go into hiding. led to a growing identification of local organisations. A case in point is ACJ. Moreover. 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. but she didn’t stay out in this new place and decided to return after a while. The question is . with the label of ‘human rights defenders’.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. there is a growing knowledge and capacity among NGOs to deal with different kinds of restrictions. Many of the ICCO partners that experienced restrictions mentioned that Udefegua helped them to deal with these problems. 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). The case of ACJ in Amatitlán shows that the problems emanating from the murder of three of its members took the organisation by surprise. their staff and members. Also the many cases of intimidation and criminalisation in these places are extremely difficult to deal with. and there are many cases where human rights are violated and definitely need to be defended. the self-labelling as human rights defenders can be problematic and have negative consequences as well. spying on us. which was seen as non-Christian and informed by humanism. The human rights discourse is still perceived by certain sectors in society as a ‘politicised’ or ‘left-wing’ discourse. both at a national and international level. 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.
it may be better to emphasise this constructive role. Online available at http://www. The dialogues and meetings of GROs and NGOs with government officials.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/GuidelinesDefenders. 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.un. parts of the establishment opposed its formation. The text of the document is online available at http://www. However. at a later stage. The first one is the process leading to the formation of the Commission Internacional Contra la Impunidad (CICIG). organisations and leadership. Many of these proactive responses aim to contribute to a reform of the Guatemalan state. Especially for these NGOs and GROs that aim to strengthen local capacities. and eventually the Constitutional Court of Guatemala declared that the commission violated the Guatemalan Constitution. strengthen and assist Guatemalan institutions in identifying. Apart from the (reactive) responses of individual organisations.the label of human rights defender have consequences on the ways that GROs and NGOs perceive themselves and are perceived by others. and is tasked ‘to support.europa. four years ago.pdf 38 . 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. 62 The Commission for the Investigation of Illegal Bodies and Clandestine Security Apparatuses. since strengthening democracy and the rule of law almost by definition implies addressing those forces that mine the state ‘from within and without’. 2010: 54). This was a blow to the human rights groups in Guatemala. because of their innovative character. and one by the government of Guatemala). Human rights organisations. 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. operating within the domestic legal system of Guatemala.org/News/dh/guatemala/ciciacs-eng. Two of these merit particular attention. 61 The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala. The Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman and the administration signed an agreement to form CICIACS 62. when the human rights situation deteriorated further and after the murder of the Salvadoran members of the Central American parliament. 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). there is also a lot of experience with more proactive responses that aim to change the sources of the restrictive policies and actions. prosecuting and ultimately identifying domestic illegal security apparatuses and clandestine security organisations’ (Hudson & Taylor. However. 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.pdf.61 This process already started in the beginning of this decade. as well as increasing capacity to lobby of NGOs and GROs can both be seen as proactive strategies. CICIG is a hybrid institution.consilium. the international community and the state of Guatemala reached agreement about the formation of CICIG. In the face of increasing violence and human rights violations. As mentioned in previous paragraphs this can in itself be risky. when violence in Guatemala increased. The agreement envisioned a national/international commission (two members appointed by the UN and OAS.
The idea to form the Instancia was the result of the increasing threats of staff of NGOs. Groups touching topics that are related to vested interests can experience severe problems on top of this. corruption. there are also restrictions with regard to what international actors can and want to do. which has led to some turf wars between government agencies participating in the initiative. but impunity. intimidation and criminalisation. such as bilateral donors and national embassies. such as the frequent turn-over of ministers. The second example is the establishment of the ‘Instancia’ in 2007. But when it comes to more sensitive topics like conflicts around mining projects. and there are many examples of stigmatization. the Instancia has proved to be useful. justice and security on the one hand. The most vulnerable sectors that were discussed in this chapter are groups working with human rights. it has suffered of several problems. The foregoing examples show that advances have been made by civil society with regard to security agenda. which was the result of different ideas about whether and how to deal with the government. Although all sorts of restrictive policies and actions are present in the case of Guatemala while they are oftentimes linked. There have also been doubts about the reliability of some of the participants. are generally rather hesitant to become involved. a ‘space’ where representatives from civil society and several government agencies meet in order to discuss cases of human rights violations. and groups that enter into conflicts about resources at local level on the other hand. In principle. the Instancia started with three participants of the NGO-sector and a representation from different departments. There are some cases of administrative policies that caused problems to NGOs. many groups can operate relatively freely. as well as the increase in practices of social cleansing. the main problems are repression. NGOs came together and here the idea of a space to discuss particular cases of human rights violations with government officials was born. The security situation of these groups has deteriorated over the past decade. Many hurdles had to be taken before the Instancia was created. Several workshops were held outside of Guatemala. Eventually. This gives space to a multitude of criminal actors (state and 39 . However. but is at the same time ‘under pressure’. in the Netherlands and Guatemala. but the core of the problem is the weakness of the state and of the rule of law. 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. insecurity and high indices of violence have an extremely negative impact on the operational space of all NGOs and GROs and hamper their work. international actors. It proved difficult to reach consensus between different human rights organisations. According to the NGO participants. However. International actors are generally willing to support groups working against impunity and in favour of human rights.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. With the growing popularity of the Instancia foreign donors have also become interested in supporting the initiative. The responsible minister at the time initially didn’t want to participate and it took some coaxing to convince her. It is fair to say that international funding and pressure have been important for the spaces for these groups.
most notably Udefegua and SEDEM. but that they can lobby for. Pay up or Die.stm 40 .non-state) that are also gaining effective control over parts of the state apparatus and parts of the national territory. and a further systematisation of these local problems. There is no doubt that human rights are violated and they definitely need to be defended. 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. This increasingly leads to polarisation and escalation of conflicts about resources that permeate local communities. 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. For these organisations. 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 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. 63 See David Lee. In the year 2009 alone approximately 175 bus drivers were killed. The ways in which these groups are restricted differs from place to place.uk/1/hi/8386584. although others suspected a strategy of distraction. independently from the question whether they experience restrictions or not.co. At local level different constellations of interest groups have build power structures that seriously reduce the space of local NGOs and GROs. We argued in this chapter that there is a need to critically assess the use of the term human rights defenders. 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). In this regard a discussion is needed about the ways NGOs might be able to contribute to different reforms. and meanwhile allowing drug-traffickers to continue their work. restrictions and conflict dynamics is needed. Of all counterparts of ICCO. 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 question is. The formation of CICIG is an important example. working from Guatemala City.bbc. the actual protection is of utmost importance. Protests against actors responsible for these restrictions can be extremely dangerous. At local level. whether local organisations should be given this label vis-à-vis their local members or be encouraged to do so. however. In particular.63 In order to diminish the violence. What is their capacity to both protest and dialogue. but the active use of this label might create additional problems and therefore rather choose to keep a lower profile. the positions of protestors can easily harden in the face of limited possibilities to claim rights. All Guatemalans are affected by the situation of insecurity and impunity. and are extremely difficult to address. presumably by gangs that were involved in extortion. The systematisation should not only focus on the restrictions and violations of human rights. forcing police to devote resources into dealing with the murders. These pressures on the operational space of these organisations vary from case to case. Guatemala City Bus Drivers Targeted. 6 December 2009. there is a need to systematise the evidence on the growing problem of criminalisation. BBC. Online available at http://news. measures are needed that NGOs and GROs cannot create themselves.
using ‘extreme violence *which+. which had severe consequences on the operational space of NGOs. Honduras was used as an important base for US military involvement in the isthmus. while the US-financed Contras were able to operate from Honduran territory. as well as . This bipartite system is. used by PL and PN to limit electoral competition and ‘exclude any upstart from entering the country’s democratic space’ (Anonymous. Honduras had almost completed its transition to ‘procedural’ democracy. Honduras – Operational space in times of political turbulence Introduction While Honduras has had a relative tolerance vis-à-vis the work of NGOs. but attained political hegemony in the 1960s and for a long period had high levels of influence on elected officials (Ruhl. 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. the case of Honduras shows that organizations confronted with these changes were not really prepared and developed a diversity of response strategies. which is one of the lowest scores 41 . 1999). 2004: 138). while many senior military were still unreconciled with their loss of power (Ruhl.constituted a sharp break with Honduras’ less polarized political traditions’ (Ruhl. However. This ties in with the comments of many interviewees for this study that emphasised the lack of a democratic culture in Honduras as one of the explanations for the coup that took place in June 2009. Sectors of the Honduran military were involved in dirty wars against suspected subversives. the Partido Liberal (PL) and Partido Nacional (PN). Thus. Political context While in the early 1980s wars raged in the countries surrounding Honduras. which affected the relations between NGOs themselves. It was unclear to what extend the Honduran political class really believed in the new ‘rules of the game’. the coup d’état of 28 June 2009 led to a change in the operational space of a number of NGOs.and may be more importantly – increasing polarization in Honduran civil society. The Honduran political party system is dominated by two major centre-right political parties. as well as their ‘appointees’ are widely accused of corruption. Demilitarisation of the Honduran political system received new impetus in the 1990s. 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. 1999). The Honduran military was according to Mark Ruhl (1999) ‘a late arrival on the political scene’.3. Politicians of PL and PN. the military held a firm grip on power during the 1980s. Honduras is a case of a relatively sudden change of the national political space.5 on the 2009 Corruption Perception Index (that ranges from a low of 0 to a high of 10). The Honduran military received massive US-assistance during the 1980s in return for allowing the Contras to be based in Honduras.7 million in 1993). by the end of the 1990s.. Thus. consolidation of democracy still seemed far away. 2009a). Honduras scores 2. Also. Although the constitution of 1982 is generally seen as the start of Honduras’ process of democratisation. 1999). according to critics.
using all possible resources. See for instance IPS. it was the leftist political program of president Zelaya that raised objections. online available athttp://ipsnews. Micheletti c. He continues: ‘They acted exactly like they owned the state. However. The conflict about the referendum was the culmination of a more fundamental change in president Zelaya’s policies and political alliances.of Latin America and is similar to the scores of Indonesia. 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. with heavy support from the military. illegal and dangerous behaviour. Eventually he was ousted from office by the president of Congress.67 This led to extremely high levels of polarisation in Honduran society.8.transparency. 17 August 2007. 66 Fourth baloot because it would be combined with three other ‘ballots’ for presidential.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009. it would ask Hondurans whether the country would organize a new national constituent assembly to approve a new constitution (Meyer. blaming Zelaya of irresponsible. congressional and municipal elections. In case this ‘fourth66 ballot box’ would take place. President Zelaya refused to accept court rulings that prohibiting the organisation of the referendum (Meyer. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. 42 . Zelaya’s administration had been rather weak during the first two years. reports from international organizations like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demonstrated the illegality of the coup: (IACHR. This referendum was highly contested. The Zelaya government (PL) took office in January 2006 and was ousted from office by a coup d’état on 28 June 2009. or Nigeria and Zimbabwe . state institutions and even political parties. this promise started to materialize in a very concrete way in the course of 2008 president.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. Corruption Honduras: International Aid Hanging by a Thread. a member of the PL. but a constitutional succession. 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). This rather blunt description of the Honduran political system also reflects the disenchantment and frustration about years of economic growth without substantive poverty reduction. and Philippines. 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. 67 While there was in itself political support for the possibility of a second presidential term. 2009:7). 2010:7). argued that this was not a coup. At a later stage. Roberto Micheletti.asp?idnews=38937 65 Honduras has a Gine coefficient of 53.s. see UN Human Development Index 2007-2008. and lacked popular and political support.2% below the extreme poverty line. On various occasions corruption has also endangered aid disbursements.net/news. Although one of the slogans of president Zelaya from the beginning of his term was ‘popular power’. 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. 2010: 3). with an extremely skewed distribution of income. internationally the coup was almost immediately rejected (Meyer.65Over 59% of Hondurans remain below the poverty line and 36. 2010: 2).
9 August 2009. online available at www.68 A group called the ‘camisas blancas’ actively supported the coup. Also. providing guidance.70 However. 2010: art 41). Thus.the ‘buying power’ of the poor by raising the minimum wage substantially – without the consent of employers. and a number of grass-root organizations.nyt. At the same time he approached sectors from Honduras civil society. and their reporting was therefore usually partial’ (UN. who were invited to come over to the presidential palace. among other things. with some groups explicitly supporting the golpistas. such as peasants or women movements. also FRNG). Cofemun members remember president Zelaya’s administration as the one with ‘mayor apertura’. The coup led to a split of the UD. authorized since 1992 (and a highly controversial measure in Honduras). New York Times. Part of the membership (or ‘bases’) of the PN and PL also sympathise and participate on the FRNP. and other groups rejecting the coup. but withdrew later.69 A number of more critical NGOs that have links with popular movements play important roles in the FRNP. 71 Add source: Book title 43 . 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. while a new broad based movement coalesced in the National Front against the Coup d’État (FNRGE. National media that are owned by conservative elites had already launched a vehement antiZelaya campaign. imposed a veto on a bill prohibiting the use of the morning after pill. Furthermore. In the ‘run-up’ to the coup and especially during the coup Honduran civil society polarised to the bone. the term ‘Resistance’ also refers to the very large numbers of protestors that took the streets in the period during the coup. 70 Information provided by Carlos Del Cid. the government moved towards Hugo Chavez’ political and economic alliances and joined PetroCaribe and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (Alba). this campaign continued. Protagonist sectors are syndicates of workers and teachers. 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. as well as resources to the movement. 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. 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. The national media and most of the churches endorsed the new ‘de facto’ government. Also the director of the CNTC.com 69 The political parties UD and PINU aligned with the FRNGE.71 After the coup. Zelaya successfully sought contact with leaders of popular and social movements. a peasant union. There was also a harsh assault 68 See Ginger Thompson. Members of Cofemun – a women organization – felt sympathy for president Zelaya who had. This front was renamed after the elections of 29 November 2009 into Popular Front of National Resistance (FNRP). The FRNP is a broad movement with representatives of different sectors from Honduran society. President’s Ouster Highlights a Divide in Honduras. 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. leaders from left-wing political parties. and whose massive mobilization and continuing protests surprised both the coup makers as well as the existing opposition movements in Honduras. had direct access to the presidential palace and worked with president Zelaya on a housing project of 5200 houses. and the media became almost entirely polarised.
org/archives/2009/07/10/honduran-church-leaders-sympat/print 73 Ibid 74 Ibid 75 A case in point was the debate about the Nueva Corte Suprema which led to a hunger strike of the public prosecutors in Honduras (see Eguigure. said one NGO representative. 44 . 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. 76 This was among others done by FOSDEH. 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. One of them said about the coup: “We feel that what has happened is a reply to the fervent prayers of so many Christians. whereas he entered into conflict with others sectors (among these also a number of NGOs). the Cardinal of the Catholic Church Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga defended the coup. 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. The American Speactator 7-10-2009. and eventually the elections of 29 November 2009 took place as scheduled and brought Pepe Lobo (PN) to power.74 However. 2008). an NGO that entered in fierce discussions with the Zelaya administration. many 72 Mark Tooley. NGO representative accused president Zelaya of manipulating popular sectors. among others about the data on poverty alleviation that were manipulated according to this NGO. without having a coherent plan. Several media premises were occupied and private companies and the State withdrew their advertising from those media supporting the FRNG’ (UN 2010: 42 /44). while some of the church leaders were even accused of being involved in the organisation of the very coup. Zelaya was successful in linking up with parts of civil society (mainly popular movements). looking for the support of popular sectors. 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. 77 I n the remainder of this text we will talk about the Resistence Front meaning both FRNG(E) and FRNP. Also the FRNP does not recognize the government of Pepe Lobo. Another. but the rescue of our country and our democracy".on media that were critical of the coup. large numbers of members of new evangelical churches demonstrated in Tegucigalpa for the Honduran constitution and against Zelaya. 72 For instance. A successful negotiation between Micheletti and Zelaya never took place. it's not a coup. ‘He shared his project with civil society. Honduran Church Leaders Sympathetic to “Coup”. Even more important was the position of many of the churches in Honduras."73 Before and after the coup. 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. For many of us. For instance. more critical. most of them – in particular the Catholic church and the new evangelical churches – were accused of endorsing or supporting the coup. online available at http://spectator.77 However. The most frequent critique on president Zelaya was that he was a populist. nor a clear strategy. These elections were rejected and boycotted by the FNRP. 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. but this is not the project of civil society’.76 All in all.
Furthermore. 81 See for data on foreign assistanece WorlBank: http://ddpext. the sector partly reflects the stances of social forces in Honduran society and in the donor community. to about 12000 at this moment (Del Cid 2010a). 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. hurricane Mitch (1998) caused tremendous destruction in Honduras.hn/web2. Tegucigalpa. The country participated in the HIPC initiative and PRSPS processes that led to the (conditional) cancellation of debt.latribuna.countries recognized the new government and restored the diplomatic relations with Honduras. a silent re-militarization of the state is going on. 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).81 International donors have emphasized the need for political reforms and for participation of civil society in the definition of public policies.worldbank. 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.0/?p=106835 80 Communication with Carlos del Cid. Although the NGO sector is very diverse. chronic insecurity. the former head of the Honduran armed forces. as well as the ongoing corruption make the ‘post-coup’ situation in Honduras extremely volatile. INGOs belonging to the more critical group are among others the Aprodev partners. both in financial and in political terms. with one of the most worrisome trends the re-emergence of death squads activities particularly targeting the FNRP. foreign assistance has played an important role in Honduras. The assistance provided after Hurricane Mitch had similar intentions. La Tribuna 9 March 2010. The second consultative group meeting for the Reconstruction and Transformation of Central 78 79 Authors interview. This is a general typology indeed. 25 March 2010. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez. Victor Meza. leading to a new wave of (emergency) assistance to the country.org/ext/ddpreports/ViewSharedReport?REPORT_ID=9147&REQUEST_TYPE=VIEWADVANCED&DIME NSIONS=100 45 .79 Furthermore. This proves extremely complex in Honduras. and a group of NGOs and donors taking a more technical stance while being less pronounced in political terms. 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). 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. that does little justice to all different shades. has been named as the new director of the Honduran telecommunications firm HONDUTEL. For instance. growing influence of narcos in the economy and the political sphere. Oxfam Family and the national coalition of international aid agencies ACI. Moreover. Roughly a division can be made between more critical NGOs that are funded by a number of European NGOs and (Nordic) donors.80 Over the past decades. which is still highly divided. The Lobo-administration aims to build a national government and to work towards reconciliation. who ordered the arrest and expulsion of former president Manuel Zelaya. online available at http://www.
or the mining activities) are touched.htm 46 . One of the criticisms is that ‘dialogues’ between civil society and government form part of a strategy of ‘tolerance’ vis-à-vis NGOs. 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. since within organizations or network organizations the legality of the removal of president Zelaya was a point of heavy debate. and the importance of participation of civil society in the strengthening of democracy’. most organizations reconsidered their relationship with the state. However. The situation after the coup in Honduras can be seen as a ‘text-book case of polarisation’. such as the ICCO supported Espacio Regionial de Occidente in the West of Honduras which brings together government agencies. Some of the ‘bottom-up’ initiatives have led robust networks. this participation reaches its limits when key interests (such as access to land. which implies according to Mitchell (1981) ‘the widening of political and social space between groups. and led to a diversity of formal and informal spaces of dialogue and cooperation between state and non-state actors. In a similar vein. which led to a postponement of contacts with the government or participation in networks. the increased ambition and capacity of sectors of civil society. and of NGOs in particular to lobby the government (both locally and nationally) or to discuss proposals with specific government agencies is seen as one of the main changes of civil society over the past decades (Del Cid I-14). but there is nevertheless discussion about the wider impact. Others took a lower profile and in a number of cases did not speak out against the coup. See http://www. national and Central America level. This led to an extremely high degree of polarization. by providing practical help or shelter for demonstrators. that also organize at regional. the result of the fear of powerful Honduran elites that their interests were threatened. the interactions between civil society and the state have multiplied. In this view NGOs are a necessity for a state that lacks resources to provide for basic services. These initiatives take place both at national level and at local level. those NGOs and GROs that publicly declared themselves against the coup and in particular those that aligned with the Resistance Front. The coup of June 2009 is seen by many representatives of GROs and NGOs as proof of this. The coup had a devastating effect on the relations between state and the NGO-sector that labelled the coup as a coup (and not as legal succession as the supporters of the coup did). throughout the country a network of local groups working in the field of risk management have organized local groups over the past decade. However. In such a situation it becomes extremely difficult to take a ‘middle-position’.org/regions/re2/consultative_group/declaration. 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. A number of these organizations played an active role in the activities of the Resistance Front. which emphasized the need for ‘an integrated approach of transparency and good governance.iadb.America led to the Stockholm Declaration. Overall.82 As a result of these and other initiatives. grassroots organizations and even MPs with their own ‘mesa’ (table). where it proved extremely difficult (though not entirely impossible) to take a position that does not either adhere to the ‘golpistas’ or the ‘resistencia’. These changes have led to tangible results. and the gravitation of previously uncommitted or moderate actors towards one of the extremes’. faced great difficulties to do their work (see sections below).
most NGOs were not fundamentally restricted in their activities. 83 Thus. Another person argued that polarization is not real. 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). the NGO sector historically experienced a high degree of ‘tolerance’. 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). but that did not participate in the activities of the Resistance Front. it all became very emotional’. This is exactly what happened between organizations and even within organizations (both NGOs and GROs) in Honduras. Meanwhile.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=41&Itemid=51 47 . However. When the Foprideh network of Honduran NGOs met in March 2009 and the chairman of the meeting referred to the ‘coup’. The coup. a large share of the representatives of NGO’s that supported or sympathize with the Resistance Front. For a number of those representatives that chose to clearly pronounce against the coup and join the resistance movement. In network organizations this proved even more problematic. while at a later stage it took a lot of energy to respect each others point of view. This also led to the use of a vocabulary by some NGOs that had not been used over the past decades. also 83 http://cococh. One NGO-representative. this immediately led to objections of some of the present organizations that wanted to be neutral in this regard.made a choice as cowardly or an (implicit) choice for the adversary. NGOmember laughed that their resistance to the coup had led to the fact that their NGO was seen as ‘pro-Zelaya’. Representatives of NGOs and CSOs that chose to align or to work with the Resistance Front. Some people describe a feeling of powerlessness: ‘There was no reason anymore. but also a situation with emotions flaring up. but you can’t escape from it. are not blindly following Zelaya. repression and other restrictive measures. this coincided with warm support for ‘Mel’ Zelaya. while combining this with frustration about the limited results of decades of supposed poverty alleviation arguing that it is time for ‘structural changes’. 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. The coup and the ensuing violence used by the de facto government not only created a divided civil society. Another. while at the same not being identified with the pro-Zelaya sectors of the Resistance Front. whose organization had pronounced itself against the coup. it is created and imagined. such as class struggle again’. while they had always been very critical about his policies. said that the organization was seen by some as ‘golpista’ and by others as ‘resistencia’. but those organizations that were (suspected of) aligning with or supporting the Resistance Front were target of intimidation.org/cococh/index. expressed that there was no space for shades (‘tintas medias’) and that this was the moment to be clear about your position: ‘you either with us or against us’. Some explained that ‘Mel opened our eyes’ or ‘showed us the way’. within organizations and network organizations the June 2009 events had caused enormous debates about the legitimacy of the coup (or succession). It was particularly difficult to pronounce against the coup. however. Even in the period after the coup.
This is clearly the case after the coup. Although in some cases. but – just like the case of Guatemala – thereseems to be a pattern of (local) combinations of non-state and state actors that are involved. *What’s more. 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).] 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. motivations and disputes (also other than these related to resources) can become important factors in local conflict dynamics. such as (a) the lesbian. and companies can use or strengthen these differences. with emotions flaring up. bisexual and transgender community (LGBT). and where the space for more moderate positions diminishes. but are the result of both state and non-state actors. Polarization generally leads to an atmosphere where positions become more radical. These are mostly local groups or movements. 85 See for a description of how local and national actors influence local conflict dynamics Kalyvas (2003). there are many less well known cases. the dynamics are primarily local.had severe consequences on the nature of the social and political space that NGOs and GROs granted each other. Local residents and organizations become parties to these conflicts. The typical pattern for ‘partial democracies’ is thus also present in Honduras: there’s lots of space for NGOs and GROs. 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.85 There are other sectors that have been particularly vulnerable over the past years. during and after’ the coup. and local interests. and harassments. during is after the coup. most representatives of NGOs and GROs reported a ‘relative tolerance’ (tolerancia relativa) to do their work. intimidation and harassment is not entirely clear. there may also be high level state agencies involved. and land rights. until the inauguration of the new Lobo administration in January 2010 and after the coup is the period as of the Lobo administration. but there are limitations for groups that (start to) touch more fundamental interests or taboos in society. (b) youth living in 84 Before is until 28 June 2009. In many of these cases the responsibility for threats. El Salvador El Faro. See for examples of how this has influenced local anti-mining struggles in Cabañas. and it proved extremely difficult to bridge these divisions. Restrictive policies and actions As mentioned before. and of combinations of both (particularly in the cases of repression and stigmatization). making a distinction between the situation ‘before. and as far as we can see. However. A number of these cases received or currently receive national and international attention. gay. there is no systematic documentation in Honduras of these kinds of local resource-related conflicts and human rights violations. Quantitative data about numbers of incidents and trends are scarce. civil society groups themselves became part of these dynamics. Although the coup was clearly the onset of this development. 48 . the case of Honduras shows that particular interests and taboos can become more sensitive in particular periods of time.84 Physical harassment and intimidation Before the coup a number of groups and sectors were particularly vulnerable and experienced different kinds of threats.
In the period after June 2009 until the moment of writing. changed after the coup. judges and the Supreme Court of Justice (UN 2010. 89 Interview with Tomas Andino. Interpeace (2009). however. art 67). such as 12 women and 7 men at the National Women’s Institute (UN. 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. Preliminary data. Interpeace. These measures included the patrolling of security forces (army and police). online at http://globalgayz. and (c) human rights organisations. Clearly. These restrictive measures were especially used to counter the protests against the coup. 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. with regard to youth. For many organizations that experienced restrictions prior to the coup. Ciprodeh has reported over 170 cases of violence against the LGBT community since 2004. in the period during (and partly also after) the coup. among them Walter Trochez. the implementation of curfews (periodically). These measures were generally defended by most of the institutions of the Honduran state. such as the Attorney General’s Office. In a number of cases government staff that (openly) opposed the coup reportedly lost their jobs. when displaced president Zelaya took refuge in the Brazilian embassy. the closure of radio and television stations or intimidation of its staff. 49 . June 2007. 2009:9). 2010: 6).87 Secondly.com/country/Honduras/view/HND/gayhonduras-news-and-reports#article12 87 See for instance the case of Josef Fabio Estrella. Casa Alianza (2006).marginalized neighborhoods. and Cofadeh joined the Resistance Front and 86 See Gays Honduras: News and Reports. Furthermore.86 There are reports of police officials that are involved in LGBT-violence. leader of the Rainbow Association Transvestite Group. a 45-day state of siege was announced (Meyer. organizations like Cofemun. This was especially so for organizations and persons that participated actively in the Resistance Front. as Bertha Oliva of Cofadeh notes ‘they have always viewed us with suspicion’. For instance. Firstly. However. but its space widened considerably in the past two decades. 2010. online available at www. art 62).’88 Interpeace (2009) has reported a steep rise in the number of extrajudicial killings of youth after the coup. and intimidations of different types. the de facto regime launched a series of ‘restricting repressive measures’ that placed Honduran society under strict control. 2010:6).89 Thirdly. Tegucigalpa. when Cofadeh declared itself against the coup and joined the Resistance Front. This. the problems increased during and after the coup.TheLNMag. 22 March 2010. on September 21st 2010. as well as the detention or persecution of political and social leaders (Meyer. In the period after the coup nine persons from the LGBT community were killed. As to the perpetrators of this violence. in Lesbian News Magazine. Also the other human rights organizations in Honduras reported threats. especially those that are seen as gang members or criminals. 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. but the troubles with the government were mostly of a different (administrative) nature.com 88 See Amnesty International (2003). 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. the Honduran human rights movement was very vulnerable in the 1980s. whilst some of these crimes have taken place within the context of gang or mara warfare. Bertha Oliva has received numerous threats. who was also a member of the Resistance Front.
prosecutors initiated a number of proceedings charging “illicit assembly”. but rather not able to stop it (which is even more worrisome). These charges were based on decrees that restricted civil and political liberties. Agustin Ramos.reported different kinds of threats. 50 . Cofemun reported threats via e-mail and phone. prohibiting public meetings not authorized by the police or the armed forces. 2010. During the coup at least 100 persons were charged on sedition. 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. suspending freedom of movement. 24 March 2010. However. online available at http://codeh.hn/v1/index. while they were also based on existing legislation.php 92 nd For instance. although the discussions prior to the coup about new NGO-laws. and authorizing the suspension of any radio or television stations that offended government officials or expressed opposition to government resolutions (Cofadeh. Reports of human rights organizations in Honduras show that by the end of 2009 – in the run-up to the elections .92 For instance. impeding freedom of expression. director CNTC. 93 Authors interview.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.org/2010/03honduras-deadlin-violence-against-newsmedia. the bulk of the repression during and after the coup is directed at persons that have links with the Resistance Front. 2010.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. 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). art 58). see for instance a call by the Committee to Protect Journalists. published by a coalition of Central American Human Rights NGOs. presented by CODEH of the killings that took place after the coup. where particularly ‘mid-level’ leaders that have links with the Resistence Front are targeted. Among these protestors were 10 members of the CNTC. Legislativeas y Municipales en Honduras. however. Criminalisation We heard of no cases of criminalisation of NGOs in the sense that they were legally prosecuted. executive Decree PCM-16-2009 (emitted on September 22 2009) imposed the state of siege again. 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. CNTC also reported the detention of members in Colon and Comayagua . members of social movements were increasingly confronted with criminal charges. included elements of criminalisation (see also next section).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. More important and frequent.the use of torture has increased exponentially. Organizations that were relatively free to operate before the coup. arbitrary kllings in the period from 28 June 2009 till the end of March 2010. during the coup. 2009). Red Comal (see next section) is a case in point. at http://cpj. art 38). there is ample evidence that in the period during and after the coup. were the charges of the crime of sedition. acts of intimidation such as monitoring and surveillance (UN. a counterpart of ICCO. Tegucigalpa. as well as other critical voices such as journalists.90 There is an extremely worrisome trend of continuation of human rights violations. 91 See the overview of 54 cases of extra-judicial.
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. The 2003 Decree further elaborated on this (ICNL. as of July 30th. ICNL reports the frequent abuses of this ministry in providing the legal personality (the right to entry). for instance by 94 See http://www. 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. 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. 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. 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’.revistazo.htm 97 FONAC was founded in 1994. Thus. The key laws affecting NGOs and GROs in Honduras are the Civil Code. We would rather argue that there is a need to closely monitor trends in this regard. The human rights organisation Cofadeh (2009) accused the de facto government of ‘a plan to criminalise public protest’. 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. and villages where demonstrations against the coup take place. 2010). using death threats as a form of intimidation. Campaigns to harass and persecute members of the resistance have been mounted’ (Cofadeh.period after the coup.fonac. According to Cofadeh this strategy shifted a month later. 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’. when the government started ‘targeting social groups clearly identified with the resistance and in the last four weeks.icnl. see http://www. see http://www.gob.biz/cms/index. 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. municipalities.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. in particular those that pronounced themselves the coup.94 Another sector that has been targeted is professionals working in different sectors of the state. the Administrative Procedures Code.org/knowledge/ngolawmonitor/honduras. For instance.com/cms/index. Both the forms and location of the repression has changed in the last few months. the repression has become selective. The 2002 Decree described the responsibilities of the Registration and Supervision of Civil Associations Unit (URSAC). 2009). 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. as well as well as Executive Decrees 024-2002 and 770-A-2003.hn/ 51 .95 It is important to note that there are links between criminalisation and repression. This is not to say that criminalisation of social protest has disappeared.defensoresenlinea. meetings and public marches that generate “disorderly brawls” (Cofadeh. 2009). However. shifting to barrios and neighbourhoods of different cities.
or (stronger) as criminals or dangerous subjects. falls below number of minimum members. in which NGOs (both national and international) have been involved.” An extremely high minimum number of members for an NGO to obtain and retain legal personality. human rights groups and women organizations. and youth). 52 . 2010). less repressive. 2010). a broad based coalition of national and international NGOs heavily criticized and lobbied against this concept law. widespread support among Honduran NGOs for the drafting of a new comprehensive law on civil society organisations. without giving major substance for these claims. There is. Vast discretion to forcibly dissolve NGOs if the Government determines that an NGO is unable to fulfill its objective. The discussions with the government about this law took a negative turn. However. 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. 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. Individuals of these NGOs remember the aggressive tone of a number of MPs in these discussions. the organization must have a minimum number of Honduran citizen members. however. after the publication of critical report of an NGO (Ciprodeh) on the Honduran assembly in March 2009.”98 In the month before the coup. As a reaction. among others of Roberto Micheletti.org See chapter 1 of this study. or dangerous. 98 99 See ICNL on Honduras at www.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. or spends down 80% of its assets. We talk about stigmatization in cases where groups are portrayed as untrustworthy. and thus forming a threat to security or social order of society.upholding the request for legal personality up to a period of seven years (ICNL. law. candidate or ideological tendency" that give the Government great discretion to limit rights of freedom of association and expression. and currently NGOs consider opening the discussion with the new government about another. Stigmatisation It is fair to say that in the period before the coup. The law was not accepted before the coup took place. 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. Labeling of others can be part of strategies of both government agents and civil society. In the past years there have been several efforts to draft a comprehensive law regulating different kinds of civil society organizations. Stigmatisation can be an extremely important strategy when a group or category is constantly depicted as untrustworthy. the Honduran Assembly issued a highly restrictive draft NGO 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).icnl. plus restrictions on the freedom of non-Honduran citizens to associate: for every legal foreign resident member of an NGO.
53 . however. We distinguish between practices of cooptation and the hesitance to engage in new dialogue with the government after the Lobo Administration took power. 23 March 2010. 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. These spaces were closed after the coup. the national level media launched constant and fierce attacks on the government of Zelaya. 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.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. 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. In local level struggles images of the self and other are of great importance. stigmatization increasingly became an important tactic for all parties. party. (local) media increasingly play a role in forging alliances in local conflicts about mining. 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. President Zelaya contributed to this by a rather confronting style. In general. mining companies do not only sponsor local radio station. Below we discuss several types of problems with regard to these newly established spaces. 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. Trinidad Sanchez. As already mentioned. 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. 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. be difficult to see where cooperation ends. 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. director Red Comal.100 The last years of the Zelaya regime were characterized by a growing division in the Honduran political establishment and society. More recently. Reportedly.Stigmatisation takes different forms in Honduras. Thus. When PL and PN led governments approach members and leaders of trade 100 101 Authors interview. Siguatepeque. 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. and where cooptation starts. 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. What’s more. It can. in a situation of extreme division and polarization. Particular strategies of stigmatization are clearly more important in cases where particular groups are portrayed as ‘dangerous others’ – such as youth (gangs).
online available at http://www. By the end of March 2010 most NGOs still very much had a wait and see attitude.elheraldo. other leaders refused to accept a position in the new government. The relations with the government were still ‘cold’. in his turn. 104 Authors interview Thomas Andino. Zelaya approached leaders of social movements. when and how to restore working relations with the new Lobo administration.102 However. which was seen by others as an effort to co-opt these movements – not necessarily by bribing them.unions. like for instance. 22 March 2010. president Zelaya approached new protestant groups. 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. not of president Lobo). social movements. however a normal practice for Honduran governments that seek to build or to broaden their constituency. In that regard. Tegucigalpa. social movements and NGOs. an organisation working with youth. 103 According to Pavon it was still too early to cooperate with the new government. but this was not accepted. Andres Pavon. it is not surprising that we heard numerous accusations that politicians were actually buying (bribing) leaders of trade unions. churches and NGOs to side with the government or to take positions in the cabinets. 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).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. he said and moreover talks with government officials could be interpreted by others as being in favor of the coup (‘ser golpista’). 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. 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. Approaching leaders from civil society is. The resistance of the political and economic classes to meaningful reform in 102 See El Heraldo 28 January 2010. since the very youth that the organisation is working with would not agree with new dialogue. This was. This ties in with a more fundamental problem of whether. not successful. The organisations that supported or endorsed the coup generally don’t have any moral dilemmas of working with the new government or not. a distinction should obviously be made between those in favour of and against the coup. For instance. however. 54 . appointed Alejandro Ventura. that didn’t lead to fundamental choices in favour of the poor. we also found that some NGOs had their thoughts about the nature of their relations with the government. In a similar vein.hn/Ediciones/2010/01/28/Noticias/Toma-forma-el-gabinete-del-gobierno-de-unidad 103 Authors interview Andres Pavon. The spaces of dialogue that had been created over the past decades were seen as ‘ritualised’ spaces. Engaging with this new government is still not an issue. since these churches are generally conservative and were not willing to be associated with Zelaya. This was also expressed by the director of Interpeace. 25 March 2010. But in a context where corruption flourishes and clientalism is strong. but rather contributed to ‘sustainable poverty’. Tegucigalpa. a prominent leader of the teachers' union that plays a prominent role in the Resistance Front. as a result of closure of spaces. director of the human rights organisation CODEH and one of the first persons to announce plans of a coup. President Lobo.
According to ASONOG staff there is now communities that are ‘against ASONOG’ and in favour of the mining company. but also because it has linked up with local governments. We make a distinction between three different kinds of experiences (that are partly overlapping): (a) those that are typical for conflicts about resources. a counterpart of ICCO. ASONOG has become more careful in its work. This led to a struggle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of local inhabitants. ASONOG. the high levels of clientalism. While for some this was reason to voice a strong support for president Zelaya who. struggles about access to resources such as land or raw materials can create enormous problems to GROs and NGOs. and (c) those that are the result of the repression of the coup.Honduras was also a key concern of others. others questioned how to use their political space and wondered whether changes in their strategies would be necessary. Therefore. it was argued. but it is clear that they haven’t stopped since then. so as not to be the (sole) target of repressive actions. Thus ASONOG has focused more recently on declaring municipalities ‘free of mining activities’. The mining company has used broadcasting time of local radio stations with a view to foster support for its activities. it opened its own radio station and thus has a strong influence on public opinion. As one NGO-representative said: What effects did our efforts produce? Didn’t we –through our dialogues . 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. 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. staff played an important role in the protests against the local mining activities. Reportedly. This is not only the case because the company provides employment. econdly. mayors receive funds of the company and even police have received funds to buy petrol.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. oftentimes leading to withdrawal of the organisation. More recently. who emphasised the weakness of the state. 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. Also with the support of external donors. where ASONOGs headquarters are based. with regard to working in a context of chronic insecurity (other than repression) several counterparts of ICCO have experienced problems. In Santa Rosa de Copan. has been involved in protests against mining companies since July 1999 with its program Incidencia Gestión de Riesgos y Minería. it started to work on plans of institutional safety. Furthermore. It is not clear who exactly are behind these threats. First. made a clear choice in favour of the poor. although it is realised that it may be very difficult to counter the propaganda of mining companies. The mining company also has its own security company that follows staff of ASONOG when at work. Most of these are related to insecurity generated by criminal 55 . preferably taking action in coordination with other organisations. Stopping a company that has already invested proves to be very complex. ASONOG has taken a number of measures to deal with this situation. The importance of communication is also emphasised. impunity and corruption. emphasis is placed on the prevention of mining activities in communities were mining companies consider to start activities. (b) those that are a result of insecurity.
working with youth in marginalized areas of Tegucigalpa with a strong presence of youth gangs. Siguatepeque. experience acceptance problems of local traders. its premises nearby the town of Siguatepec were used for meetings and protestors against the coup were given shelter.saved them. AA has experienced problems as a result of advocating against the coup. Almost immediately after the coup took place Red Comal became part of the Resistance Front and provided assistance to the movement. ICCO partner Arte y Acción.redcomal.106 Although Red Comal was highly upset about this. Red Comal was also suspected of obstructing the elections of 28 November 2009.105 Red Comal reports problems in several parts of the country where criminal groups attacked transports of the organisations – such as the region around Choluteca near Nicaragua. As a result of the raid. The risks of Arte & Acción (AA) lie outside the neighbourhood. taking away computers. 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. This implies that economic success of one association can lead to jealousy and restrictive actions of others. the supermarket of Red Comal in its hometown Siguatepeque was robbed three times in a row.00 AM at night – something they never did before. But when it organised 105 106 See Red Comals website http://www. Their AA carnets – that were introduced by AA because ID cards are extremely expensive . Furthermore. AA has also been accused by the ministry of G&J for being a fake NGO (‘NGO de maletin’). Red Comal was also concerned about its reputation in town. and money of the organisation. it decided not to make any claims to the state.an association of small producers working for the commercialisation of products of its members. This is generally seen as a warning towards the organisation and frightens possible landlords. since this might interfere with the working relations it has with different government agencies.hn/ According to the director of Red Comal the lawyer of the Fiscalia came 45 minutes later. Also the military from Siguatepeque trained in front of the premises of Red Comal at 1. 56 . reports that these gangs accepted the organisation. Red Comal experiences some intimidations. solar panels. The office of AA was recently searched and equipment was stolen. which was reasons for 45 military of the local ‘batallon ingenieros’ to occupy the premises of the organisations.org. Although the perpetrators were never arrested. After the coup. For instance. 23 maart 2010. In this case Red Comal chose to stall its activities in this region. NGOs can generally only operate in these areas when they keep a very low profile. 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. Crime creates particular problems for organisations working in the field of commercialisation. but more frequently they are simply not trusted by criminal networks and have been asked or forced to leave the area. NGOs (such as ICCO partner OCDIH ) working in zones were narco trade has increased. Trinidad Sanchez. Authors interview. Red Comal also experienced problems as a result of the coup. two young members of AA visiting a market were beaten up by police officers that assumed that they were criminals. Furthermore.groups impeding the work of NGOs. the third field that we discuss. as is the case with Red Comal . like cars passing by while drivers shouted slogans against the Resistance Front. In some cases the narco traders have started to offer services or projects themselves. Interestingly. it is suspected that people jealous of Red Comals economic success may have been behind it. In March 2010.
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. 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. A further deterioration of this relationship might lead to more economic losses. Staff reported the interception of their telephones while the kindergarten across the street was apparently evacuated and occupied by two military. Red Comal actively supported the Resistence Front. 25 March 2010. According to staff of COFEMUN the children returned and the military were removed after the Lobo administration took office. 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 ‘cancilleria de la republica’ under Micheletti. For the staff of COFEMUN the coup had been unimaginable (‘we had never expected this’) and so was the repression that followed the coup. Since its foundation the organisation had to deal with different kinds of stigmatisation. and took a low profile in its relations with the (local) government. was Martha Lorena Alvarado. As to ICCO’s partners this was particularly the case with CNTC. because this might backfire on its relation with the government. Both CNTC and COFEMUN were actively involved in the protests against the coup.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. and president Zelaya as a womaniser. The coup had led to a national economic crisis that also affected Red Comal. the newly elected mayor (PN) says he wants to establish contact with RC. 109 Authors interview COFEMUN. Red Comal paid a price for speaking out against the coup. The threats and patrols intensified in the period after the coup. For COFEMUN this was important. For instance.its yearly market a week later.cofemun. 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’. Thus. a peasant union and COFEMUN. the organisation didn’t submit a complaint against the raid in its premises.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. who in May 2009 had charged the director of COFEMUN who had argued that 107 108 See http://www. with an estimated 40% drop in its turnover. criminalisation and staff had experiences of armoured cars following or watching them and of anonymous threats (telephone and mail). the public attended and was positive about Red Comal. which made Red Comal more cautious. a feminist organisation promoting the rights of women. Other organizations were more heavily affected by the coup. since the topics that it stands for (including the right of abortion. COFEMUN had experienced restrictions before. 57 .an organisation that has been claiming land rights for the past two decades -maintained a close relationship with president Zelaya. Tegucigalpa. And although Red Comal was against elections of November 2009. Also CNTC .org/ The close relationship between COFEMUN and president Zelaya was also interesting. So COFEMUN was also involved in the organisation of the referendum (consulta popular).
police and private security forces). Tegucigalpa. Honduras: Criminalisation of agrarian reform activists in Bajo Aguan. In the past ten years these organisations have been confronted with all kinds of restrictions mentioned in our model.110 Lorena Alvarado had called COFEMUN a ‘dangerous organisation’. Several governments have sought to solve the conflicts in the region. www. 113 See Muriel Soy.com/ 115 See Fian. and product of a land reform of the early 1960s. Las mas amenazadas en los ultimos dias. Mujeres de la Resistencia.116 The militarisation of the region was already ongoing and is a typical example of a mix of public and private efforts (military. These examples show that NGOs and GROs that spoke out against the coup suffered different kinds of restrictions. 2009. WOLA alarmed at militarization of Bajo Aguan. 2005. using the expertise of organisations in Guatemala (notably SEDEM. also part of the Resistance Front). This repression has continued since the Lobo-administration took office and it is feared that groups within the (military) intelligence services. Local leaders have been harassed or killed (MUCA members.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. 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.fian. and didn’t work until late in the day.com and MUCA’s site http://movimientomuca. led to an extreme feeling of vulnerability and staff felt no longer at ease in their own office. 2010.111 There is a complex conflict about land titles in this region. Of particular concern is the region of Bajo Aguan where protracted conflicts about land tenure have created an explosive situation. on http://hondurashumanrights.com 114 See also hondurashumanrights. The direct threats to staff of COFEMUN in combination with the absence of the rule of law. http://www. Staff of the organisation also reported that it felt rather unprepared to these severe restrictions. Staff reported that telephone lines were still intercepted. ranging from arrest warrants of local leaders115 and stigmatisation to a combination of all these restrictions with a clear trend towards more repression. The coup made an end to this process and MUCA occupied farms to which they claim to hold 110 See Dina Meza. 112 These cooperatives were formed in the early 1970s.114CNTC – a partner of ICCO also has a presence in this zone.wordpress.html 111 Authors interview Victor Meza. This led to new measures: staff no longer left the office alone. see next section). and local leaders had reached an agreement with president Zelaya on June 12. and have been contested by peasant organisations that claim their lands back. ICCO’s network on PDFED (of which COFEMUN is a member) prepared workshops in Honduras on human rights defenders. Police Trained to Commit Illegal Acts while Billy Joya Training Paramilitaries in Colon.hn/Nacional/3840. 3 March 2010.wordpress.the Lorena Alvarado was ‘against human rights. 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.blogspot. the police and private security agencies will not stop these activities. In March 2010. COFEMUN staff still felt extremely vulnerable and absolutely not safe. In March and April 2010 militarisation of the region is reported. online available at http://ellibertador. The director left the country for a while. 13 April 2010. that they were still followed by cars and received threats. This might lead to the militarisation and escalation of local conflicts. 25 March 2010.org 58 .wola.org 116 See WOLA.113In 2001 the Movimiento Unido Campesino del Aguan (MUCA) was organised.
experienced serious restrictions. however. However. while staff members phoned each other several times a day to see if they were safe. the coup surprised many people and in these volatile situations it is extremely difficult to make assessments about the security situation. by taking a lower profile or staying in different houses at night. the groups that actively spoke out against the coup. about ‘when to come to back’ and how and to what extend to support those persons that decide to ask for political asylum elsewhere. This also raised some discussion about ‘staying or leaving’. But the national political context changed in such a way that these local level conflicts became part of national processes of polarisation. it was decided to never arrive and leave the offices of their organisations alone. There were local level conflicts about land titles and mining that on occasions became extremely polarised – a phenomenon that we see in all the cases in this study. The question for NGOs and GROs in Honduras.legal rights. 2010. In the aftermath of the coup. As mentioned. in general GROs and NGOs in Honduras are seen as relatively free to undertake their activities. However. therefore. Human rights organisations from Guatemala (among them counterparts of ICCO) have offered training sessions for counterparts in Honduras.com 59 . there are several initiatives of organisations providing training and advice.wordpress. for instance.117 Responses In general. the need for these kinds of response strategies were less clear in the case of Honduras. This is not to say that there were no problems with regard to the political space of NGOs and GROs in Honduras. Directors and also staff members of the organisations that were most visible in the protest. Staff developed protocols of how to deal with the situation. Police Trained to Commit Illegal Acts while Billy Joya Training Paramilitaries in Colon. For instance. is not only how to respond to restricting political space. criticisms that some people that fled could have stayed in the country. 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. 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. This was even the case in the periods during and after the coup. 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. Also almost 117 See Muriel Soy. the response capacity in Honduras to the restrictions experienced by different kinds of organisations is weaker than in Guatemala. 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. genocide and ongoing repression by both state and non-state actors. Whereas in Guatemala a relatively strong human rights movement took shape as a result of decades of civil war. Different kinds of measures were taken. There were. as mentioned. The coup. although in this period many organisations that were critical of the coup reconsidered their relationship with the government. went into hiding (or stayed in different places) and a number of them left the country for a period of time. on http://hondurashumanrights. changed this situation dramatically.
because local members of the NGO had different viewpoints about the coup. 60 . SNV Netherlands is a case in point. a number human rights organisations from Guatemala (Udefegua. René van der Poel. For SNV this was reason to freeze its activities and wait until the problems were solved. that combines the expertise of different organisations. The fact that the international branches of organisations responded enabled local organisations to keep a lower profile. In their view the position of the US and the OAS was flawed. For ICCO the situation was particularly complex. 118 Authors interview. Over the past years. Thus. and although it didn’t lead to a negotiated settlement (and the return of Emanuel Zelaya). International NGOs found themselves in a rather difficult situation and had problems to escape the polarised situation in Honduras. of course.immediately after the coup. those organisations monitoring human rights offences should make information public and take a stance against all violations of human rights. This is particularly the case with the six main human rights organisations in the country that started conversations about a common platform. This is important. 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. It is also important that the tasks of monitoring are decoupled from political influences and agendas. but keep a distance from (party) political activities. ‘SNV is not a referee’. teleconference Tegucigalpa/Managua. There were several reactions. In a number of cases it was the international headquarters that criticised the coup. On the one hand. 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. A problem was. International actors have played an important role in the period during the coup. 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. As a result of the coup. A number of NGOs reacted cautiously. it probably played an important role in the organisation of the elections as scheduled. since there is a need for a coordinated and structured monitoring system of human rights violations. but SNV noted that it was not up to them to decide whether this was a coup or a presidential succession. that the very nature of and the application of the rules of the game were at stake. 24 March 2010. In other cases. ICCO staff at the headquarters in Utrecht played an important role in lobbying for arrested or disappeared members of their partner organisations. For CASM (the NGO of the Mennonite Church) this was all too necessary. 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. local organisations have started to take more proactive action. but suspended their work and waited for what would happen. and so was the position of a large number of international NGOs. The strong international pressure surprised the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti. they didn’t openly pronounce against the coup.118 Other international NGOs criticised the coup and the human rights violations. making clear that in their opinion the rules of the game should be respected. there is a need for a nongovernmental system. as was the case with DanChurchAid and the Mennonite Church. Sedem) decided to organise a fact-finding mission to Honduras.
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. women’s groups and the LGBT community have traditionally experienced problems. It was criticised by some for not talking with representatives of the government. This raises questions about the ways ICCO will position itself in these kinds of situations in the future. there also is the question of what priorities there are with regard to civil society strengthening. The Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico (CIFCA) organised a factfinding mission to Central America. This was also due to the fact that the members of the board did not reach consensus about the developments in Honduras. 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. safe or create? Conclusions & Recommendations In Honduras there has historically been a relative tolerance vis-à-vis the work of NGOs. In the period until the coup d’état of 28 June 2009. like the US) to deal in a more fundamental way with the crisis in Honduras. eventually leading to the coup d’état. especially those NGOs that pronounced themselves against the coup that faced repression and intimidation. Yet. On the other hand. however. 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). there clearly is a new situation in Honduras that should have consequences on their strategy. Apart from the need to support initiatives to monitor human rights violations. These actions were the result of initiatives of ICCO staff and there were no protocols with regard to these kinds of situations. Apart from this. 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. like ICCO. Nevertheless. Political space in Honduras has narrowed and the human rights violations have increased. It was. despite the turbulence and chaos that many NGOs and grassroots organisations experienced and the restrictions that this caused with regard to their operational space.ICCO worked closely together with the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica and with the ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague. social movements. Furthermore. they were still able to work. all societal groups (NGOs. 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. grassroots organisations) experience problems that are the result of the security situation. Some international NGOs supported activities of the Resistance Front. 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 . other international NGOs and organisations were more critical and closer to the agenda of the Resistance Front. For international NGOs. 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 in Guatemala. In the ensuing political twists the fragile Honduran democracy was put to the test.
Trust between (and sometimes within) NGOs has diminished. Parallel to the process of growing political polarisation. while the newly established regional office took a lower profile. and many groups are still hesitant as to the possibilities to cooperate with the new government. Secondly. there is the question of what can (and should) be learned from almost two decades of civil society strengthening in Honduras. The possibilities to take in a ‘middle position’ have diminished and this has also affected the NGO sector. there seems to be a need for further improvement of the capacity to monitor the human rights situation. Which strategies were successful. played an important role in the period after the coup. Two topics are particularly important for ICCO and for other international NGOs in the period after the coup.and the new regime. civil society has become more divided and polarised as well. and of which most are organised in or sympathise with the Resistance Front. As of March 2010 Honduran NGOs were in the process of discussing the possibilities and options to cooperate. Contrary to Guatemala. which failed? And what are the lessons for the new situation in Honduras? 62 . like ICCO HQ in the Netherlands. where historically the operational of NGOs has been far less stable than in Honduras. Interestingly. Before and after the coup a cleavage became visible between those ‘supporting’ or rejecting the coup. staff of Guatemalan NGOs was very important in supporting their Honduran colleagues. Firstly. International NGOs. Honduran NGOs were hardly prepared for the problems that they faced.
63 . a concept which still has an important meaning in the Philippines today and for civil society in particular. the freedoms for civil society. From 1972 until 1986. Some organizations. 2010. 2009). His own experiences in the Philippine NGO sector proved invaluable throughout the research. The military.4. we also spoke with the Dutch embassy to discuss their activities in relation to the Philippine NGO sector. due to time constraints we were not able to achieve interviews with NGOs who are aligned with the extreme left. and the actual role of civil society in defending its space and asserting its claims effectively (e. The NGOs that we have spoken with do represent fairly the wide spectrum of the Philippine NGOs. Non-ICCO organizations were chosen to complement the picture of the Philippine NGO sector. This chapter is based on interviews with ICCO-partners and other NGOs in the Philippines. 2007. The interviews were conducted from 21-27 March. 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. 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.121 119 In addition to these interviews with NGOs. However. We identify the sectors that are affected and the way in which different restrictions interact to limit their operational space. criminalization and killings.g. Our assessment is that those trends indeed exist and affect a significant number of NGOs. 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).120 He was toppled in the People Power Uprising (also known as EDSA I). 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. 2007:179). Philippines. still challenged Aquino in five coup attempts (Estifania Co & Neama. 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. People are relieved that Gloria Arroyo has stepped down and maintain hopes for actual changes. were interviewed in Davao City. Tiwana. Ed de la Torre reported Marcos to have said famously “I already allowed you to vote. We also pay attention to the strategies that NGOs have developed to open up and use the available space. 120 Regarding the democratic qualities of the Marcos regime. ICCO partners are indicated in bold. however. however.119 Recent elections in May 2010 brought to power Noynoy Aquino who was a favourite among many of the NGOs that we interviewed. which are operating in Mindanao. Cory Aquino gained power in 1986 immediately issuing a new Constitution along with various other reforms. President Marcos ruled the Philippines under a regime of martial law. Hutchcroft. many NGOs are not affected by the severe threats posed by intimidation. Political context The Philippines have been a Spanish and American colony retaining many influences from those periods. In this chapter we analyse whether and how NGOs are affected by the worrisome trends that these analysts observe. It gained independence from the United States in 1946. Most of the organizations have an office in Manila and were interviewed there.
She was accused of having rigged the 2004 elections.7 124 ‘Banyan’ in: Economist 13-19 February 2010. Estifania Co & Neame observe that this has pushed many civil society groups from engagement with the government to a more “resistance mode” (2007:183). with fifteen percent of the population living on less than US$1 a day (UNICEF Report in: OMCT. 2009:245. 2007:183). Senator René Saguisag expresses his concern for what this means for the current state of Philippine democracy: “the House is gone.html. yearly debt payments exceeded 30% of the governmental budget (Petras and EastmanAbaya. leading Bello et al to blame the debt as one of the main factors for the stagnating economy (2009:xxvi). The Gini-index from the Human Development Report 2009 rates the Philippines at 44. 2007:187). Encarnacion Tadem. Poverty is widespread and the distribution of income highly unequal. Various analysts have commented on the Philippine’s strong commitment to the neoliberal model (Quinsaat. The Philippines have a higher proportion of extreme poor than in China or Vietnam.0. 2009:6). 2006). 2008:5). economic growth in the Philippines has been the second lowest in Southeast Asia (2009:xvi). 2008). In comparison. The Senate is struggling to check and to assert itself as an institution. but an impeachment process failed (Freedom House. which hampers the ability of Congress to oversee the administration by putting up hurdles for its investigative committees.122According to the World Bank.123Some analysts claimed that more than 50% of the private assets are controlled by only fifteen extended families (Petras and Eastman-Abaya. Bello et al point out that between 1990-2005. characterized as a populist. He was succeeded in 1998 by former movie-star Joseph Estrada. Former general Fidel Ramos followed Aquino in 1992 and his regime is characterized by broad-based coalition-building (Estifania Co & Neame. the Philippines have the highest levels of income inequality in Asia (OMCT. Arroyo has used her executive power to issue the controversial Executive Order 464. 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. the Netherlands rates 30. Indonesia 39. Her presidency has been criticized harshly by some of the NGOs we interviewed.org/en/indicators/161.60 125 This Executive Order was withdrawn again in March 2008 (Freedom House 2009). The Philippines currently have a population of 88. Apart from the unequal distribution.60 http://hdrstats.4 and Guatemala 53.undp. 2008:7). p. Corruption and a tendency to ignore the rule of law characterize her term. 2006).124 Gloria Arroyo (2001 – 2010) replaced Estrada in 2001 and has been widely criticized for her lack of democratic practices. It’s totally under the Executive wings. 2006). This explains that at this moment. one in ten Filipinos work abroad and the money they send home constitutes more than 10% of the GDP.9. 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. who was disposed in 2001 in a second People Power uprising (EDSA II) due to corruption scandals. It has been criticized however. p. 2007:180). 2009). Our democratic institutions 122 123 ‘Banyan’ in: Economist 13-19 February 2010.125 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.57 million inhabitants (FIAN. In 2005. In February 2006 Arroyo announced a brief period of “state of emergency” in order to prevent a perceived coup. 64 . 2009:68. economic growth itself has been faltering.
are at stake. EO 464, Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), CPR, Proclamation 1017 are all threatening the democratic institutions” (cited in: Estifania Co & Neame, 2007:189). Other analysts seem to confirm this assessment of the current state of Philippine democracy. Freedom House has degraded its rating of the Philippine democracy because of the prevalence of political violence before elections, reports of cheating and intimidation, electoral fraud, a discredited electoral commission, and coup attempts (Freedom House 2009). Hutchcroft qualifies the Philippine democracy as “increasingly dysfunctional” (2007:2). Philippine politics has traditionally been described with reference to a patron-client model (emphasizing the importance of personal relations), whereas since the fall of Marcos the socalled “elite democracy” has been the dominant analytical framework (claiming that the system is essentially run by a few elite families) (Quimpo 2008:6). Analysts seem to agree that the Philippines are a weak state, where elites use the state for their own interests (Miranda and Rivera in: Quimpo, 2008:37, for similar assertions see also Lopez Wui, 2009:186).126 Quimpo lists some of the qualifications that analysts have given Philippine democracy during the 90s, such as “oligarchic democracy” and “low-intensity democracy” (2008:21), while Hutchcroft talks about “elite dominance and institutional weakness” (2007:1). The International Crisis Group has qualified the Philippines as the weakest state in the region (in: Hutchcroft, 2007:15), with the Economist noting in February 2010 that as the state receives less than 14% of its GDP in taxes, it is set up for being weak.127 Estifania Co & Neame paint a bleak picture of the Philippine judicial system, with low public confidence in the police, a very slow pace of judicial proceedings and a climate of impunity (2007:194-195). Similarly, Freedom House reports of a backlog of more than 800,000 cases in the court system, while indicating that low pay encourages rampant corruption (2009). The military retains considerable influence over political life, specifically in its efforts to destroy the communist insurgency. Still, the military is under civilian control, leading Hutchcroft to characterize the problem with the military influence as more an issue of “military adventurism rather than military dominance” (2007:20). Corruption is widespread in the Philippines and is seen as one of the characteristics of its weak state, due to the low conviction-rate of those accused of corruption (Lopez Qui, 2009:186). A survey conducted by the Asian Development Bank in 2003 showed that the Philippines came second after Bangladesh as the most corrupt of 102 countries (Lopez Wui, 2009:185). Transparency International now rates the Philippines at 139 of 180 countries (Corruption Perception Index, 2009). An important threat to the democratic institutions is the disturbing number of killings of journalists, combined with libel suits filed by officials who get exposed in the media file (Hutchcroft 2007:9; ISIS International, 2007:11; Freedom House, 2009).128 32 reporters were killed between 1991 and 2006; less than 10% of the cases leading to convictions. After Iraq, the Philippines are the second-most dangerous country for journalists129, especially for those
This is echoed by other scholars who blame the elite families for weakening the state as they “privatiz*e+ public resources” (McCoy in: Quimpo 2008:38).
127‘Banyan’ in: Economist 13-19 February 2010, p.60 128
Hutchcroft writes that the media are largely in private ownership and otherwise unburdened by government intervention (2007:8). 129 Reporters without Borders has declared the Philippines to be the most dangerous country for journalists after Iraq (Hutchcroft 2007:8). Another source attributes this statement to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 65
reporting on corruption and with anti-government critique. During the brief 2006 state of emergency, the offices of the Daily Tribune were occupied, while statements were issued that “the press could only remain free if it acted ‘responsibly’”, which was interpreted as a “call for self-censorship” (Estifania Co & Neame, 2007:187). Further, the spouse of Arroyo has filed libel cases against 43 journalists, which constitutes a criminal charge (ibid, 2007:188). The media and access to information in general are fundamental for democracy and the effective use of operational space for NGOs. Many NGOs need information to control the government in its policies of agrarian reform and mining, as well as to hold it accountable for corruption and human rights abuses.130 In this light, it is important to note that a proposed Freedom of Information Act is still stalling in Congress (Estifania Co & Neame, 2007:188).131 Two armed conflicts challenge the Philippine government: the communist insurgency and the Muslim independence claims in Mindanao. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was founded on December 26, 1968. The CPP has an armed group, the New People’s Army (NPA) and a civil society group, the National Democratic Front (NDF) and claims to “*a+dvance and complete the national-democratic revolution and pursue the socialist revolution.”132 After 1986 there has been a split between a “reaffirmist” (currently in control of the CPP) and “rejectionist” bloc (dispersed over various civil society groups). This split was characterized among other things by disagreement about the continued primacy of the armed struggle (Encarnacion Tadem, 2009:7/225). The Anti-subversion Law, that had criminalized being a member of a communist organization, was repealed during the Ramos administration in 1992133 and on 6 September 2007, Gloria Arroyo signed the Amnesty Proclamation 1377 granting amnesty with respect to specific crimes for communist armed groups.134 At the same time, the military is engaged in a fierce counterinsurgency battle against the communist rebels. Currently, there are about 7,160 fighters and a communist presence throughout the entire Philippines. Government officials consider the CPP/NPA/NDF the “most potent threat” to national security (Alston, 2008:7).135
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20091126-238554/Maguindanao-massacre-worst-everfor-journalists 130 The Anti-Mining Coalition ATM complained about the lack of transparency in this respect for example with regards to mining applications by corporations. In order to find this information, they were being sent around or simply did not receive an answer. In the end, they had to photocopy the documents themselves. Interview with author, 26 March 2010, Manila 131 In this regard, it should be noted that English is still used for much public debate and also for example in the entire legal system. Given that a big part of the population does not speak English, this doesn’t contribute to broad inclusion into democratic institutions. 132 Website National Democratic Front of the Philippines, available at [accessed 22 June 2010]: http://ndfp.net/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26&Itemid=33 133 Rene V. Sarmiento (2005), ‘Facilitating dialogue with armed insurgents in the Philippines’ at conciliation resources, athttp://www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/engaging-groups/facilitating-dialogue-philippines.phpv [accessed 1 June 2010] 134 Dalangin-Fernandez, Lira. 2007. ‘Arroyo signs amnesty proclamation for communists’ in: Inquirer.Net, 9 July 2007, available at [accessed 22 June 2010]: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/2007090787233/%28UPDATE%29_Arroyo_signs_amnesty_proclamation_for_communists 135 It should be noted that whereas the NPA is the strongest, there are other left armed groups active, such as the MLPP/RHB (Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines/Revolutionary People’s Army) and the RPM-P/RPA-ABB (Revolutionary Workers Party of the Philippines / Revolutionary Proletarian Army / Alex Boncayao Brigade). 66
Continued marginalization of Muslims in Mindanao under Spanish colonial rule and later under US domination, have led Mindanao Muslims to demand self-determination. High levels of poverty in Mindanao and the richness of natural resources are other factors in the conflict (OMCT, 2008:13-14). Between 1972 and 1976 there was a full blown war between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).136 In 1978, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) split from the MNLF and is currently the biggest secessionist group in Mindanao (Hutchcroft, 2007:14). In 1996, the government reached a peace agreement with the MNLF, however, fighting by the MILF continued. In 2008, peace negotiations between the Arroyo government and the MILF broke down, leading to the worst violence since 2003, displacing 600,000 people from their homes (Freedom House, 2009). The MILF currently has about 11,770 fighters (Alston, 2008:7). Earlier agreements have established the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but one of the topics of the 2008 negotiations was a possible expansion of this territory. The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is another important group, which has allegedly been responsible for various bombings resulting in many civilian casualties (HRW, 2007).137 Until 2003, there appeared to have been links between MILF and the radical Islamic organization Jemaah Islamiyah. Since then, the MILF has denounced violence against civilians and specifically attacks by the ASG and the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), another violent Islamist group. The government, however, still holds that there are links between elements of the MILF and JI/ASG/RSM (HRW, 2007:24-25). The Arroyo administration developed strong ties with the US government and adopted the ‘War on Terror’ discourse. This led to an increase of US military assistance and in early 2003 then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz called the Philippines the “second front in the War on Terror” (Petras and Eastman-Abaya, 2006). Assistance from the United States has helped the Philippines to capture or kill several ASG and RSM top leaders (HRW, 2007:24-25). It is suggested that the US government is also assisting in the struggle against the NPA (Petras and Eastman-Abaya, 2006). It is clear that the Philippine political context is challenged on many fronts at this moment. Generally, however, NGOs are not in any way disturbed by the state and can operate freely, maybe even due to state weakness. Because of the above-mentioned challenges, it is, however, difficult to be effective in their claim-making, and this was reflected in our interviews. In addition, because of the lack of a strong state, non-state actors can pose restrictions on NGOs. In the next section we will discuss the specific characteristics of the Philippine civil society and its NGOs. Civil society and NGOs Filipino civil society is known for being one of the most vibrant in the world. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission reported 80,000 non-profit organizations in its registry (CODE-NGO, 2007:21). Karina David (in: Soledad, no year) cites estimates of more than a
In 1976 the Tripoli Agreement was signed by the MNLF and Marcos, ending the war in exchange for autonomy of 13 provinces, however, disagreement about the implementation led to a continuation of the war (Panagtigum, 2008:2/8). 137 Between 2000 and 2007 there have been more than 1,700 casualties in bombings by violent Islamist groups (HRW, 2007:24-25). 67
Resistance by NGOs to the Marcos regime gave the term “NGO” widespread legitimacy in the Philippines (CODE-NGO. 22 March 2010. although with much control and repression. Manila 140 Title 6 of the Code. During martial law. NGOs are specifically mentioned to give them an official role in the process of decisionmaking regarding issues at the local level. such as: “The State shall encourage nongovernmental.000 organizations. community-based. Section 108. but on the above-ground level. Many of today’s civil society formations have their origins in the period of martial law resistance (Estifania Co & Neame. not surprising maybe as 85% of the people in the Philippines is identified as Roman Catholic (Hutchcroft.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.000 -490.138 There is a saying that for every ten Filipinos. this commitment to NGO participation was institutionalized in the Local Government Code. These services were provided by church related organizations. NGOs. The period following the assassination of Ninoy Aquino (1983) saw a resurgence of civil society activity. Before the regime of President Marcos. the nongovernmental organizations shall choose from among themselves their representatives to said councils. 2007:14). 2008:20). There were underground organizations which fought against the regime. as people tend to rely on foreign funds and the attitude of NGOs is that “the government is lousy. cooperatives. there are eleven organizations. accredited people’s organizations and other people’s organizations (Code-NGO. medical missions. even these secular organizations somewhat withdrew from public life. including non-stock non-profit corporations. which was passed in 1991. 2007:33). Since 1986.3 billion Pounds. People now just expect NGOs to do things. there were only the church-backed institutions that were able to operate. and provided for an “accreditation” process enabling NGOs to take a seat in advisory local development councils. only traditional professional service delivery NGOs were present. and secular non-profit organizations like the Rotary Club.”139 He therefore argues that civil society has expanded at the cost of the meaning of citizenship. It is estimated that the total income of the NGO sector is 12. with 38 per cent of that coming from foreign foundations. 2007:178). including the not-registered NGOs.” 68 . 139 Interview with author. The local sanggunian concerned shall accredit nongovernmental organizations subject to such criteria as may be provided by law. the Philippine NGO sector has received a legitimate place in the structure of Philippine politics.hundred thousand. 138 Estimates reported in an assessment of the non-profit sector range between 249. Article II. Ed de la Torre. and soup kitchens.Within a period of sixty (60) days from the start of organization of local development councils. The church traditionally has had a lot of influence in the Philippines and still retains much of this influence today (Estifania Co & Neame. so we will do it with foreign funds. and bilateral and multilateral institutions (CODE-NGO. . states: “Representation of Non-Governmental Organizations. 2007:191). Consequently. Declaration of Principles and State Policies). the local government code and various other legislative acts. such as organizations providing occasional basic services to the poor like educational scholarships. In the Constitution. instead of learning what it means to be citizens and demand action from the government. 2007:180/192). points to the downside of the thriving NGO sector. however. 2008:17). Kiwanis and the Lions’ Club. or sectorial organizations that promote the welfare of the nation” (Section 23.
NGOs reported that since 1986. 2009:226). that the compromises Aquino made in the early years of her term on the issues of agrarian reform and international debt. and NGOs concentrating their advocacy on ecological issues. 2009:223). and even government units set up NGOs to attract funding (CODE-NGO. Most of the new NGOs were involved in service delivery. funding for Philippine NGOs has steadily declined and across the board. indigenous communities claiming their ancestral land ownership. A second bloc is aligned with the Rejectionist National Democratic Movement. The military suspects many of these ideologically oriented NGOs to be front organizations for 141 142 Interview with PhilNET. Davao City 69 . This changed dramatically after the turn to democracy in 1986.” 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. many new NGOs emerged. made her lose much civil society support. This bloc is composed of the rest of the rejectionists. In our interviews. 25 March 2010. now that the Philippines were a “democracy” (Encarnacion Tadem. NGO staff also reported a current tendency of international NGOs to set up their own projects and recruit people from local NGOs. Three ideological blocs that are still recognizable today can be identified. Also the international perception was that the Philippines already had an organized citizenry and needed more assistance in basic services. for example regarding natural resources. 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. many NGOs cooperated with the new government. entrepreneurs. This led many international aid organizations to divert their funds to socio-economic programs. Initially. All NGOs working in that sector reported a lack of funding for “community organizing.”142 It is suggested. NGOs pursuing a gender agenda. Political advocacy was no longer viewed as needed.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.After the Marcos regime was ousted. A third bloc works together around the multiideological center Akbayan or the Citizens’ Action Party. such as peasant groups claiming ownership to lands. Various professional NGOs emphasized the importance of mobilized and committed communities in the process of claim-making. rather than to political organizing and claim-making as they used to provide funding for. 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. Still. a small but significant part of the NGOs continues to link their work to a political agenda. 22 March 2010. that during martial law about eighty percent of the social movements were dominated by the CPP/NPA/NDF (Encarnacion Tadem. NGOs reported their struggle to find funding. but Estifania Co & Neame note. the cooperative sector also grew tremendously during this period. thus creating a competition with local NGOs. The first bloc is aligned with the Reaffirmist National Democratic Movement which has links with the CPP/NPA/NDF. In addition. Manila Interview with author. 2007:36). The mushrooming of NGOs after 1986 had a negative side effect as politicians. and the progressive wing of the social democrats. which closed off opportunities for engagement (2007:179). the independent socialists. where important key leaders mobilize the community members.
There is no consensus about the exact number of killings and disappearances. such as is the case in the field of agrarian reform. (4) stigmatization. in practice. The majority of the NGOs involved in land and other resource reform supported by ICCO belong to the more ideological section of the NGOs. most notably. intimidating surveillance. As we will see in the next sections. not restricted. secondly. 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. Apart from these killings. Firstly. numbers of killings vary between 116 and 885 between 2001 and 2008 (Alston. the Communist Party (CPP) and its armed wing. including the administration itself” (2007:184). the operational space generally is specifically facilitated. but not one is aligned with the bloc connected with the CPP/NPA/NDF. analysing the nature of these killings and the governmental possibilities for an adequate response. NGOs that are suspected of affiliation with the communist rebels. (2) criminalization. and occasional physical harassment. 2008:29).144 Even though the number of killings is staggering.” Repression and intimidation The most visible and shocking restriction on the operational space of NGOs is the frequent killing of activists. (3) administrative measures. thirdly. various NGOs find it hard to turn the available opportunities into effective advocacy. Dependent on who does the counting. We discuss (1) repression and intimidation.143 The political killings were so widespread. CODENGO is a network of NGOs. NGOs can also face (death) threats. (5) spaces of dialogue. community leaders and NGO representatives. Three sectors in particular suffer from policies and actions that restrict their operational space. The interaction between restrictive actions and policies in these areas will be further explored in the next section “On-the-job trouble. in this section we turn to those policies and actions that influence the operational space. 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. 70 . 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. the majority from the non-ideological side. The Philippine NGO sector thus is very active and has a long tradition. given by former Senator Wigberto Tanada in 2006: 752 killed and more than 155 missing (2007:184). They are a legitimate player in the political arena and have received plenty of formal possibilities for exerting their influence. Among the ICCOsupported NGOs. journalists. the majority is involved in service-delivery without any ideological affiliations. due to the deficiencies in the democratic practices and the weakness of the state.armed groups. NGOs dedicated to agrarian reform and other resource struggles. that UN Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston devoted his 2008 report to the Philippines. but Estifania Co & Neame note that “the trends are acknowledged by all. and lawyers. 2008:8). especially where their claims would affect the interests of the established elites. Hutchcroft comments that the “alarming development in recent years has been the killing of hundreds of leftists. As such. 144 Estifania Co & Neame provide the following numbers of attacks on activists. church workers. NGOs operating in isolated areas afflicted by armed rebellion. In addition. the NPA.
strong involvement of the military in the killings (see for example Alston. 2008 and the findings of the Melo Commission. As will be discussed more in-depth in the paragraph “On-the-job trouble. thus placing the burden of proof on the activists (AHRC. Threats are usually sent by SMS. 149 In addition. as there is no good witness protection program. killed. 2008b). Estifania Co & Neame hold that more people were tortured. those that are on your political side? 145 Davao City is a particularly well known and extreme site of permitted vigilantism. the military dismisses any implication and argues that the deaths are the result of internal purges (Alston. The AHRC mentions a number of 800 killings between 2001 and 2008 (AHRC. 71 . 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”). 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. see also Amnesty International. Similarly.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. vigilantism is a persistent feature of Philippine society.most Philippine NGOs is not affected at all by this violence. Most of the victims of these killings belong to the extreme left and are aligned with the CPP/NPA. The New People’s Army is also held responsible for killings. 2007:12). Families don’t receive any remedies.145 During the Arroyo regime.” the NGOs affected by this violence are concentrated in the three areas that are identified as problematic. while reporting that 139 cases of extra-judicial cases between 2003 and 2008 have been documented and reported to the UN. Manila 147 The AHRC reports that in 2008 not a single perpetrator of vigilante killings was charged and prosecuted. the burden of proof lies by the victim. Unlike during martial law.147 Indeed. 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. 2008:2). The government supports that definition of the violence. 2006). and church personnel” (2007:10). Family members and colleagues of victims of extra-judicial killings are often threatened as well. violence was prevalent. 2009). the president installed the Melo Commission (Commission to Address Media and Activist Killings) to investigate the issue. 2007:194 & HRW. Ed de la Torre in our interview with him. There is a “writ of amparo” which has not led to effective implementation. During martial law. or disappeared than during the regime of Pinochet (2007:178). 22 March 2010. however. or by an envelope with bullets. now the perpetrators of the killings are generally unknown actors. Activists are told to stop their activities. with the warning of a death threat. According to him. The UN activists. leads people to ask: what is your conception of human rights if you only count as victims. killings returned at such a large scale that it has led to international inquiries. 148 In torture cases. 146 This was pointed out in an interview with Ed de la Torre and author. There are no effective laws for prosecution. 2008:2). reported that criticism exists regarding the counting of killings and human rights violations by human rights organizations on the left. Estifania Co & Neame emphasize the absence of convictions in the cases of extrajudicial killings (2007:184. the tendency to report only victims who are on the left. making these actions almost always go with impunity (Hutchcroft. which enables the government to step in as the protector and restorer of order. There is a general state of impunity regarding the political killings. and no clear laws criminalizing enforced disappearances and torture (2008). 2008).146 Several reports suggest. In general.”149 What has been done to counter the extra-judicial killings? In 2006. no clear policies defining command responsibility.
but NGOs reported suspicions of private security personnel of landowners and corporations. those forced disappearances often turn out to be detentions by the police. leaders involved in campaigns anti-mining are said “to eat threats for breakfast. also communities may threaten security guards. saying for example: “o yeah. NGO representatives reported that at first they may be afraid as a consequence of these messages. Currently. These various recommendations have led the Supreme Court to appoint 99 special courts to deal with the cases of extra-judicial killings. The AHRC claims that it is clear that these detentions are a means by the government to fight its political opponents. As the spokesperson of ATM put it. 2009). The detention practices by the police often include incommunicado-detention and the lack of an arrest warrant. However. usually the leader of an organization. death threats are a general commodity. as well as the military or armed groups such as the MILF and the NPA. These men will come to an office or house and ask around for a specific individual. that they actually respond to the texts. there are allegations of maltreatment and torture. in some instances people get so used to it. so nothing has happened. no cases have been filed. no member of the military has been convicted since Arroyo took office (Freedom House. They fear a resumption of the killings. For example. 150 This was for example mentioned in our interview with human rights organization PAHRA. Despite all the evidence pointing to the military as complicit in the extrajudicial killings.” The frequency of these messages varies from a daily warning to just once a year. 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). Activists also tend to get text messages with warnings such as “be careful. The detained is then held on charges that preclude bail. Threats in the Philippines Various NGOs reported that they have been followed by men on motorcycles without number plates. Threats are most common for the leaders of people’s organizations (grassroots NGOs). Manila 72 . 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). 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.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. In addition. 150 The impact of these killings on the affected parties clearly goes beyond the specific deaths. thus turning the problem from direct physical repression to criminalization. but as one staff member reported. Earlier international pressure led to a shift from extra-judicial killings to disappearances.” The actor behind the threat is generally unknown. 27 March 2010.
Human rights organizations have reported their concern regarding the Human Security Act (Republic Act 9372) that took effect on July 15.Criminalization In the previous section. we saw that a decrease in political killings may have induced a switch to prolonged detentions. 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. The law is said to violate due process because of warrantless arrests and prolonged detention without charges. where award-winning Filipino novelist Ninotchka Rosca was included in a terrorism watch list as a consequence of the Human Security Act. MNLF or Abu Sayyaf) were immediately included in the list of terrorist organizations and closely monitored. 2008:16). Still.152 In addition. ICCO partner Isis International reported a case in 2007. NGOs can also operate without registration. there has been unease about the potential for abuse of the new anti-terrorism law against civil society activists. Local communities who are involved in a struggle relating to land or natural resources have faced criminal charges (mainly trespass and qualified theft). The Act is also known as the Anti-Terrorism Law and is criticized because of the broad definition of terrorism.4 73 .” Above we already mentioned the particularly problem of libel suits against journalists (Hutchcroft. p. 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.9 154 “When Security is the Threat. 153 Isis International 2007. nor does it harass donors and funders of these organizations” (2007:8). 2008:25). Finally. These specific problems will be discussed below in the section on “on the job trouble.153 None of our interviewees reported to have experienced any negative consequences because of this law. 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). 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. As a consequence of the Human Security Act. and those organizations that are suspected to be front organizations for the armed struggle. She reportedly suspects that her detention is related to her research about the killings and disappearances of Filipino women. #2. a terrorism-charge against a labor activist had the effect of legitimating his subsequent disappearance (AHRC.” Isis International 2007. 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).154 The AHRC claims that at least in one instance. 2008:17). NGOs can register with the Securities and Exchange Commission which is an easy and non-controversial procedure. Criminalization as a restriction on NGO activity is not widespread. 2007). p. the anti-terrorism council is argued to have too much power as the sole determiners of who is a terrorist. 2007. #2. 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. some incidents do indicate the potential restrictive effect.
(if the NGO is an urban poor organization).ph/static/dav/2008/02/26/news/gabriela. as well as regarding receiving (foreign) funding. 2009). critical engagement (for example Pakisama). Davao.hits. it should be noted that both KMP and Gabriela are perceived to be associated with the CPP. a movement of landless peasants. see http://www. and outright support (2009:78). local government units. Feb. Peace. the Department of Finance discussed the possible imposition of some restrictions on the NGO community. and successfully argued for the creation of a self-regulating mechanism. but also the Department of Labor and Employment (if the organization is a trade union). which resulted in the creation of the PCNC. 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.73rd. especially on its non-profit status. were met by Philippine's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) police force. and farm workers. where protestors against the arrival of President Arroyo in Tacloban City. UNORKA. ‘Gabriela hits forum by 73rd IB in school’ in: Sunstar Daily Newspaper.wango. http://www. and Freedom House comments that most anti-government rallies are dispersed (Freedom House.ib. None of our interviewees commented on experiencing problems with respect to public demonstrations. in order to increase state finances. 158 This allegation is for example the subject of contention as reported in this newspaper article. CIVICUS.by. Bello et al provide an overview of the groups working for agrarian reform and their general stance vis-à-vis the government.forum.html [accessed 2 August 2010]. 74 .sunstar.org/congress/about. CIVICUS also reported that on 22 May 2009. a women’s rights organization (CIVICUS. critical collaboration (ICCO-partners PARRDS. 155 NGOs can seek accreditation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). But the NGO community mounted a unified objection to it. and the Housing and Land and Urban Regulatory Bureau (if the organization is a homeowners’ association). A controversial law was the implementation of the “pre-emptive calibrated response” to guide police forces in their regulation of rallies and demonstrations. Another incident mentions the violent dispersal of a rally outside the US Embassy.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. reported a rally on 28 April 2009. 156 For more information regarding tax exemption. ranging from outright opposition (for example KMP). the Cooperative Development Authority. for example. organized by Gabriela. 26.aspx accessed 2 August 2010 157 Arsenio García told that during the 1990s.school.155 NGOs have to apply for a non-profit status for the purpose of tax exemption. and assist them in institutionalizing professionalism within the sector. (if the NGO is a cooperative). when we analyze the negative effects for civil society of the counterinsurgency of the government against the Communist rebels. the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor. 2008. 2009). 158 This will be further discussed below.com.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. which was later ruled against by the Supreme Court (Estifania Co & Neame 2007:187).in. small farmers. and PhilNET). In this regard.157 Restriction of public activities and demonstrations Permits are required for rallies. “the Philippine National Police ended the 40 day long protest by farmers and demonstrators from Kilusang Magbukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). 2009). 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.
indeed legally recognizing the importance of NGO participation in its governance structures. Landowners and corporations have also labeled NGOs as communist. Other NGOs are accused of support for terrorist or separatist groups in Mindanao. 162 For an example of such accusations.Stigmatization As has been discussed before in the section on the Philippine NGO sector. (PLCPD): ‘PLCPD Cries Foul Over ‘Malicious Attacks’ Vs Repro Health Bill’ in Pinoy Press1 October 2008. such as the Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN). play an important role in limiting the operational space of some NGOs. thus discrediting them in the eyes of the communities with which they work. During these community meetings.162 The strong 159 160 Information from Arsenio García Interviews with author. Inc. 2008:25). CARET. especially those advocating for the rights of women on fertility management and reproductive health. and Muslims in Mindanao 161 This was also mentioned in our interview with ISIS International. 21-27 March 2010. Philippines.159 Some ICCO partners suspected that they were also included in the military’s list (for example BalaodMindanao). mainly against NGOs who get foreign funding. especially those working in agrarian reform and land distribution. These accusations come from the military and also from landowners and corporations. however. the military uses a PowerPoint presentation where they identify organizations and NGOs whom they regard as “enemies of the state” (Alston. Some NGOs are accused of sympathizing with communism and working with the extreme left experience restrictions on their space. An organization fighting against aerial spray (Mamamayang ayaw sa Aerial Spray or MAAS). but they reported the use of the label regarding local women’s groups.160 The stigma of being a ‘western’ organization and promoting a western lifestyle is only used against NGOs working on gender issues. Christian people. Because of their international character they were not affected by this stigma. this was also encountered by TRICOM working in the Caraga region in Mindanao. one of the ten labor centers in the country. and the staff of the NGO working closely with them. NGOs flourish in the Philippines and are looked upon favourably as a sector. 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. which also works closely with Akbayan.161 This label is only used by groups belonging to the Catholic Church. Specific stigmas. as well as some NGOs aligned with them. PhilNet and its local members. see the article on the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation. as well as UNORKA and its local members. Task Force Mapalad (TFM). an international women’s organization. were denounced as communists. and the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL). Almost all sectorial organizations identified with the extreme left were mentioned in this list. an NGO providing labor education and training and working closely with Akbayan. 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. 75 . Initially. This was part of the military’s counter-insurgency strategy called “Oplan Bantay Laya” (Karapatan. such as BalaodMindanao. TRICOM is an organization working for the rights of the so-called “tri”-people: the indigenous people. The government welcomes foreign aid organizations and provides ample room for the founding and operation of NGOs. 2008:9-10). Interface Development Initiatives (IDIS). Almost all ICCO-partners involved in agrarian reform experienced this stigmatization.
inquirer. In some specific areas. see for example Santos-Maranan et al or http://library. 26 March 2010. This happened in preparation for the conference on climate change in Copenhagen. Existing spaces of dialogue under pressure There are many and varying degrees of contact and cooperation between the Philippine government and NGOs. NGOs are perceived very positively in the Philippines. 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. 166 Not all NGOs.Net 8 April 2010. Manila 169 Interview with ATM. by organizing conferences for the revision of policies. This is partly explained by the common practice of individuals who switch between positions in the government and social movements (2009:242). Manila 76 . Encarnacion Tadem for example describes how social movements have been successful at times to create linkages with agencies and parts of the government.net/2008/10/01/plcpd-cries-foul-over-malicious-attacks-vs-repro-health-bill/ [accessed 2 August 2010] 163 Women’s groups like Gabriela.167 Indeed. The government adopted 80% of the draft text. the Supreme Court has ruled this prohibition unconstitutional because morality can be no reason for excluding the party from participation and in May 2010. ATM said that it is the tradition for the government to consult NGOs as they know that there is the expertise. Davao City 168 Interview with author. available at [accessed 25 June 2010] http://newsinfo.htm [accessed 2 August 2010] 164 ‘Gay partylist group can join May polls – SC’ at Inquirer. however.169 As discussed in the earlier section on the Philippine NGO sector. He calls those NGOs ‘anti-governmental organizations’ (AGOs). they studied the draft text and gave it to the government. stigmatization is a real issue.165 Government agencies often work in collaboration with NGOs on projects and as discussed above. an AGO keeps escalating the demands to show that the government is bad and should be replaced. Likhaan. Now. 26 March 2010. Whereas an NGO wants the government to improve and fulfill certain demands.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20100408-263061/SC-backs-gay-partylist-group-in-Maypollsreport 165 After 1986. and some other NGOs on gender have experienced being accused of being ‘western’ by religious groups who consider themselves pro-life. Specifically NGOs affiliated with the extreme left have rejected these opportunities. 167 Interview with author. WomanHealth. however.166 For example. have sought cooperation with the government.Catholic Church restricts the space of local organizations of Philippine women or LGBT organizations. members of anti-dictatorship movements gained positions in the government (Encarnacion Tadem. for which their NGO had advocated.de/fulltext/iez/01109005. it is a common practice that local government units have NGO leaders on consultative boards. 24 March 2010. and NGOs like LEARN (for its gender program).fes. 2009:231).163 An example of a restriction can be seen when an LGBT group wanted to set up a party-list for the elections and the election committee COMELEC prohibited this. the legal environment provides all incentives for a productive collaboration between civil society and the government.pinoypress. NGOs organized a working group. Sarilaya. the LGBT community participated in the elections with a party-list.164 In general. http://www. For more information on the women’s movement in the Philippines. Ed de la Torre criticizes the confrontational and non-constructive stance that some NGOs tend to take. APL-women.168 NGOs often take the lead in creating spaces for dialogue with the government.
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). Conform the patron-client politics that were so common in the Philippine past. These accusations divide the NGO community. Many NGOs have decided to make use of the opportunity offered. 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.172 This experience was recognized by many NGOs. the Memorandum of Agreement became just a piece of paper and they had to start again building a good relation with the new commander. or that there were cases of outright misinformation. has to be started over again after three years when people are replaced after elections. 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. These Memoranda of Agreement are a common form for NGOs to secure police protection for ARB communities. where on the one hand successes are achieved. but serve to emphasize the commitment of the police to protect ARB communities. 26 March 2010.NGOs unanimously reported that the legislation in place provides a very good environment for development and the NGO sector.” On the other hand. in: Lopez Wui. some NGOs mentioned as a restriction that the government refuses to give access to public information. It is. 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. 173 Interview with author. This in effect induces a habit of self-censorship of their entire NGO. ATM commented that because of the importance of personal relations. but subsequently ignored when it comes to actually taking over their suggestions. reported that their contributions were ignored. Some NGOs that we interviewed for example uttered their frustration that they are invited to give input. 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. especially when the local governors or mayors are perceived as “friendly. which they put into building good relations at the local level. When the commander was replaced.171 For example. Manila 77 . but NGO representatives have shared with us various experiences in which the existing spaces of dialogue proved dissatisfying.173 Ed Quitoriano criticizes the practice in which NGO leaders are asked to sit on the board of governmental corporations. 2009:186). The general experience with governmental cooperation is not necessarily bad. NGOs in the Philippines are often invited in spaces and allowed to talking in several platforms. than at the national level. the genuine space to operate for NGOs may be greater at the local level. the implementation of the legislation which is reported to be problematic. 25 March 2010. For example PhilNET lamented the fact that the effort. 171 Interview with author on 22 March 2010. Davao City. the additional Memorandum should not be necessary. however. Manila 172 Interview with PARFUND. Many recognized instances of co-optation170 (some even wondering whether some of their personal past experiences could be qualified as co-optation in hindsight). Estifania Co & Neame give a mixed evaluation. As ARBs possess the legal titles for their land. they are sometimes forced to stay 170 Within the Philippine NGO community some NGOs accuse others of cooptation by the government.
composed of representatives of the government’s national agencies and sectoral representatives of the poor.176 In the Philippines. On top of this. which brings NGOs in a subordinate position when they work on joint projects. Despite this close interaction and the multiple possibilities for providing input and advice. The office still exists but not many NGOs dispute the fact that it hasn’t been particularly successful in alleviating poverty. they will be subjected to audits and their funding will be retracted. former NGO leaders were in various positions at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). PhilNet. It has also been problematic for some of these NGOs to maintain their work once the governmental funds dried up. there exist many spaces for dialogue between the government. Manila 176 Interview with author. Of course. Manila Interview with ATM. thus facilitating close cooperation with NGOs working on that issue. the government and NGOs had equal access to foreign funding thus creating an equal relationship when they worked together on projects.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.174 During the Aquino and Ramos administration. UNORKA. NGOs reported. indigenous peoples and a majority of the famers have therefore decided to boycott the Commission. An example of a dysfunctional space is the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). In this section. 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. ATM mentioned a survey that showed that only in 25% of the local government units NGO participation had actually been implemented. set up by the Ramos administration. These forms of cooperation blurred the lines between governmental work and nongovernmental work. the government receives the majority of ODA-budgets. In the 90s. because as soon as they become critical. Butch Olano of PARFUND argues that this subordination effectively transforms NGOs into service providers for the government. 25 March 2010. 26 March 2010. The lack of effectiveness of this commission in actually being a meaningful venue for anti-poverty measures converts it into what can be called a fake space. 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. PEACE. Davao City 78 . NGOs and other actors. 26 March 2010. Women. and as the president each year nominates the council’s representative. 174 175 Interview with author. the space has now become legally restricted as organizations that want to participate now have to register previously with the Office of the President.quiet in the face of fiscal transgressions in order to get their way on their own programs (2007:192). NGOs often are not satisfied with the net result of their cooperation. The office is being headed by a cabinet rank officer. NGOs across the entire spectrum except the extreme left participated in the commission. Their position as subcontractors diminishes their ability to have a role in that space. Now. The competition over money and inclusion as a sectoral representative dominate the proceedings of the commission.
(2) the self-censoring effect of advisory positions; (3) the ease with which NGOs and their input is ignored after legitimating consultations; (4) lack of access to information. On the job trouble In the previous section we have identified the different kinds of actions and policies that can be witnessed in the Philippines to restrict the operational space of NGOs. In this section, we assess how these actions and policies interact to limit the operational space of NGOs. Overall, the operational space of NGOs in the Philippines can be characterized as free and broad. Most NGOs do not suffer from the actions and policies outlined above. However, some qualifications should be made. Generally, the space of urban NGOs tends to be much freer and open than the space available to rural NGOs and community organizations. Further, professional NGOs tend to have more operational space than grassroots organizations. In particular, three different contexts can be identified in which NGOs experience limitations. (1) NGOs operating at the extreme left: consequences of a counterinsurgency focus on civil society; (2) NGOs and community organizers making claims about land and natural resources; (3) NGOs operating in conflict areas and isolated places. The majority of the NGOs can operate freely in the Philippines, especially the NGOs operating in the delivery of basic services (such as educational scholarship, soup kitchens), ecology issues that do not conflict with major business interests (waste management, alternative sources of power), gender issues, housing for the homeless and the urban poor, and labour unions. This is not to claim that they never face resistance to the issues that they bring up. It means that their space to operate as such is not fundamentally contested or restricted. Research institutes equally operate in a relatively free environment. However, NGOs that are perceived to be linked with the extreme left experience limitations in their work, regardless the kind of issues they are working with. Further, the work of NGOs in areas of agrarian reform and environmental issues in opposition to companies (anti-mining, ancestral domain, anti-genetic modification) can become very risky, depending on the tactics and strategies employed by the NGOs. Finally, those organizations that are operating in areas of armed conflict, where state power is contested, as well as isolated places far from effective state power and protection, face problems with basic safety, especially if they are suspected to support rebel groups. NGOs operating at the extreme left: consequences of a counterinsurgency focus on civil society In contrast to the cases of Honduras and Guatemala, the Philippines still is characterized by continued armed communist rebellion. NGOs in the Philippines that are (perceived to be) aligned with the ideological bloc on the extreme left suffer from severe restrictions on their operations as the military perceives them to be front organizations for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed group, the New People’s Army (NPA). A recent example is the detention of 43 health workers in February 2010, who attended a training seminar organized by an NGO, the Council for Health and Development (CHD) (the “Morong 43”). The military claims that the workshop participants were rebels and being trained to make bombs. Criticisms have been raised not only about the raid itself and the argument that the health workers were from the NPA, but also about the violations of due process as the health workers were not allowed to see anyone during the weekend after their arrest and later on health
workers claimed they had been maltreated.177 This incident is not an exception. The UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Executions wrote in 2008 that the significant number of extrajudicial executions of leftists activists were “the result of deliberate targeting by the military as part of counterinsurgency operations against the communist rebels” (Freedom House 2009). He further writes: “One important aspect of this counterinsurgency strategy should be noted. Specific barangays [village or district, CT] are targeted because they have active civil society organizations, not because such organizations are thought to be proxies for NPA presence. [...] The civil society organizations are the targets, because the AFP178 considers them the political infrastructure of the revolution and the NPA’s intelligence network. Attacking them is designed to blind the NPA and undermine the CPP’s political progress” (Alston, 2008:12). Estifania Co & Neame suggest that Arroyo’s dependency on the military for her survival has allowed the military to push for a military solution to the left-wing insurgency that is still ongoing (2007:184). They describe this as a way to keep the military busy and prevent them from mounting coups against Arroyo, provide them with a legitimate reason to scoop up more financial resources, have them remove potential troublemakers, and distract the public from underlying issues of political, social, and economic reform. In June 2006, the government declared “all-out war” against the Communist rebels (Hutchcroft, 2007:10). The government has labeled the CPP/NPA/NDF as the “Communist Terrorist Movement” thus turning from negotiation to counterinsurgency as the legitimate response (Alston, 2008:7). Government officials believe that the CPP controls various civil society groups for support and recruitment. Alston writes that the CPP itself has publicly stated that its members who occupy positions of leadership in civil society fall ultimately under the direction of the Central Committee of the CPP. However, those organizations are not necessarily puppets of the CPP and many members may be unaware of linkages to the CPP. Indeed, the actual influence of the CPP in those organizations is unknown. While there thus may be some front organizations, this does not justify the assertions of the military about the particular organizations that are identified as such (Alston, 2008:8). Though many NGOs are not affected by these intimidating effects of the military counterinsurgency, several of our interviewees have reported that they were also branded as a front organization at some point.179 The military’s suspicions can affect NGOs severely in their operations, also those NGOs that don’t have any links with the NPA or are even disliked by the NPA because of their reform-oriented activities that may lessen the population’s revolutionary potential. Whereas it is legal since 1992 to be a member of the CPP, it is still publicly announced that supporting their work or candidates amounts to supporting the enemy (Alston, 2008:9). This is not just rhetoric, but also expressed in actual measures, most notably the “order of battle.” The order of battle consists of a list with names of suspected enemies. The UN Rapporteur describes a copy of this document from 2006 which consists of “hundreds of prominent civil society groups and individuals who have been classified, on the basis of intelligence, as members of organizations which the military deems ‘illegitimate’” (2008:9).
Tan, Michael. 2010. ‘Raid!’ in: Philippine Daily Inquirer 9 February 2010, available at [accessed 17 June 2010]: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20100209-252278/Raid 178 Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 179 This generally affects those NGOs that are involved in agrarian reform, and will thus be discussed more elaborately in the next section. 80
As already discussed in the paragraph on “repression and intimidation,” the war against communist rebels has led to many killings of leftists activists during Arroyo’s presidency. The Melo Commission has concluded that at least in some of these killings the military was involved (Hutchcroft, 2007:11). The killings of leftist activists are thus the consequence of their branding as supporters of armed rebels. Killings are generally preceded by threats and surveillance. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) reports, that specific targets of threats are activists investigating cases of disappearance and labor leaders, who are fighting for workers to obtain adequate compensation and benefits (AHRC 2008:3). These threats are justified by the military by claiming that the targets of threats are supporting communist insurgents. Families of these activists also receive threats. These threats are often accompanied by overt surveillance by the military. The AHRC claims that these threats and surveillance, which are usually followed by killings or disappearances, have led to a curtailing of the discussion on human rights or labour rights. The AHRC describes that persons working in favour of human rights are easily branded as sympathizers or supporters of armed communist rebels, and thus constitute a legitimate target for reprisals (2008:8). In one case, the military has offered reward money for the arrest of a union leader (Dante Senillo) as they claim that he is a communist sympathizer. Also, some persons labelled as supporters or sympathizers have been charged in court as a reprisal for having investigated cases of disappearances. The AHRC claims that the fabrication of charges is a common practice to keep activists in detention (2008:9).180 Similarly, Human Rights Watch suggested the political nature of charges against a labour rights lawyer (HRW, 2008). These allegations are supported by the UN Special Rapporteur, who concluded that “*t+he priorities of the criminal justice system have also been distorted, and it has increasingly focused on prosecuting civil society leaders rather than their killers” (Alston, 2008:2). The space of NGOs who are associated with the extreme left is thus severely restricted by the counterinsurgency efforts of the military. They can officially or unofficially be labelled as ‘communists’ and ‘enemies of the state’ and consequently face threats, surveillance, criminal charges, disappearance, and killings. Some examples of NGOs, which are severely affected by the military counterinsurgency effort, are Karapatan, a human rights organization, Gabriela, a women’s organization, and KMP, an agrarian reform organization. Karapatan revealed that during the Arroyo administration the human rights workers of Karapatan and allied organizations have suffered the following: extra-judicial killing (34); enforced disappearance (3); frustrated killing (6); torture (7); illegal arrests (18); illegal arrests and detention (16); physical assault and injury (30); threat, intimidation (72) and harassment (68) (Karapatan, 2008:39). Gabriela and KMP experienced that their rallies were violently dispersed.181 ICCO
A case that has become well known in this regard is the “Tagaytay Five” where five activists were held for two years on the suspicion that they were communist guerillas and wanted to overthrow the government. After two years the Regional Trial Court ruled that there was a lack of substantive evidence (AHRC, 2008:10). Salaverria, Leila. 2008. ‘2 ‘Tagaytay 5’ members plan to sue cops for damages’ in: Philippine Daily Inquirer. 29 August 2008 http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view/20080829-157510/2-Tagaytay-5-members-plan-to-suecops-for-damages This has also been suggested in the Morong 43 case. Because the military are convinced that the suspects are NPA operatives, one of the cases filed against the suspects was illegal possession of firearms, which the suspects argue as planted evidence by the military itself to justify their illegal arrest. 181 See above in the section on administrative restrictions 81
Centrosaka Inc. FIAN reports that of the 5. 22 March 2010. is a research institute with a focus on issues of agrarian reform and advocacy. Various ICCO-partners are involved in claims about land. TRICOM is involved. We also spoke with several non-ICCO partners 182 183 Section 4. 82 . and corporations increasingly apply for the exploration of mining areas. as they question the acclaimed success rate of 72% land transfer. they face resistance from various sides. some ICCO-partners that are involved in agrarian reform also face this suspicion of association with the extreme left. OMCT points out that already in 1995.16 million hectares of land selected for reform by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). 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. 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. 2008:13-14). Landowners generally oppose all redistribution programs. 182 The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 instituted the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Project (CARP) which offered landless peasants the possibilities for land redistribution. agrarian reform. In addition. 3. 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). 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. with the “ancestral domain” of indigenous peoples.4 percent are actual farmer beneficiaries (2009:81). The new 1987 Constitution mandated that the State should install an agrarian reform program. Manila 185 ICCO-partner PhilNet is a consortium of local organizations that support agrarian reform.”184 Local government officials often show more interest in protecting the interests of powerful local elites than promoting controversial land distribution (Alston. 2008:15).does not fund NGOs that are closely linked to the extreme left. or because of their better knowledge of (and access to) the law (Hutchcroft.96 million hectares have been distributed. 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). land rights of indigenous groups are not always respected. and there is a long history of land grabbing. Balaod Mindanao is an alternative law group providing legal assistance to communities that are in the process of claiming land. 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). Taskforce Mapalad (TFM) is a national federation of farmers and farm workers engaged in advocacy and organizing communities to claim their rights to land. 2007:19-20). and natural resources in general. either through coercion. among other things. 2008:15). as it arranges the transfer of land to the landless farmers with compensation for the current landowners. This is discussed in the next section.183 As communities organize to assert their rights for land distribution. As a more meaningful measurement of the success of CARP. Still around 1203 million hectares of mostly private agricultural land remain to be distributed (FIAN. 184 Interview with author. they claim that of those entitled to benefit from CARP only 35. Land is distributed highly unequally in the Philippines. however.185 These ICCO partners are among those most affected by restrictions regarding their claim making. PARFUND provides funds to communities involved in agrarian reform. where the elite usurps land from the poor people.
among other activities. keeping real ownership with the corporation. only offering workers the possibility for a lease on the land.186 Each of these organizations reported one or more of the risks that are involved in this kind of work. Terminology in the Agrarian Reform in the Philippines The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (Republic Act No. private agricultural lands. 2008:15). 2008:16). Tarlac Province. 15-20 % of the population is legally recognized as indigenous (Hutchcroft. 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. and the Mindanao People’s Caucus is. 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). the “working scope” was reduced to 3. 186 ATM is involved in the anti-mining struggle. Given the conflicting interests. palm oil and other cash-crop plantations. This complaint was echoed by our interviewees. 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.3 million hectares was selected for reform. If it’s an indigenous community. FIAN reports that the majority of the land transfers under auspices of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) were performed under the VLTframework. 2007:15). Concepcion Municipality. Landowners have used this framework to transfer their lands to ‘dummies’ beneficiaries: their family-members for example who actually live in Metro Manila. involved in land rights for indigenous communities.). Once DAR has acquired the lands.involved in claims about land and natural resources. Pakisama is involved in land rights. 2008:13). Finally. 83 . In order to become eligible for similar exemptions. they can issue the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA). IDIS works on an anti-aerialspraying campaign which involves banana plantations owned by Dole or Del Monte. In the Philippines. mostly sugar and coconut plantations. in reality there is no land transfer at all (FIAN. in 2001. CARP was legislated to expire in June 2008. giving five more years to execute the agrarian reform. as landowners can choose the beneficiaries of the land transfer. many landowners have transformed agricultural land into industrial estates and golf courses (ibid. 6657) regulated the agrarian reform that the 1987 Constitution had stipulated. They claim that this is problematic. A fierce battle about a possible continuation of the agrarian reform emerged. Thus. the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Project Extension with Reforms (CARPER) was signed. the law on agrarian reform was deferred on banana.96 million hectares (FIAN. Members of communities identified as eligible for receiving lands are denominated Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARB). 2008:14). Whereas in 1998 a number of 10. as was the case with the 212 hectares of land owned by Jose de Leon in the village of Tinang. were not immediately distributed (FIAN. emanating from the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) enacted in 1997. In addition. for example in Mindanao from 1988-1998. pineapple. as more than a million of private pieces of land would not be covered by the program (FIAN. However. it is the Certificate Ancestral Domain Title (CADTI).
p.ahrchk.php/2006/1956/ [accessed 18 June 2010] 189 Interview with PhilNet. beatings. *…+ Other strategies of landholders to prevent CARP include assassinations [sic] and murders. ranging from lawsuits about CARP. burning of houses.Current landowners attempt to stall or prevent the reform with a variety of tactics. FIAN and PARRDS claim that between 2001 and 2008 at least forty peasant leaders have been killed as they asserted their rights to land. 2008:1). The specific cases in which claimants demand the real occupation of the hacienda are sites of conflict. 25 March 2010. intimidated. on 4 June 2007. Pakisama staff suggested that the killing of their vicechairperson René Peñas. the fighting farmer has been bribed. Lopez. Davao City 191 For example listed in the document ‘Summary Info on ARHRV’. The most grievous risk for NGOs engaging in agrarian reform is the threat to be killed. This mostly happens to local community leaders. applying for exemptions or CLOA-cancelations. received from TFM during the interview on 27 March 2010 84 . local police. In the same period. destruction of crops. Also. According to TFM. involving many protest actions by claimants. An AHRC report attributes this killing to members of RPA-ABB. was not only about local interests.191PhilNET claimed that all of their 21 local partners have suffered from harassment and intimidation in varying degrees. It should be noted that ICCO187 For example. to the use of physical violence by their private security personnel. most notably hired thugs or (armed) security personnel of landowners187. not urban professional NGOs. an armed revolutionary group. Antonieta. They attribute the killings to the military. 2006. Apart from killings. and various non-state actors. harassed. ejection and eviction” (TFM. 2006. but should be seen in the context of the 2008 struggle for extension of CARP. the killings are never an accident or ‘collateral damage’ as always the best community organizers are targeted. 2007. confiscation of household belongings. 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. threat and harassments. 2008:10). which makes it likely that also the next three years will show intense struggle. June 12. detained. also 123 leaders of indigenous peoples have been killed (FIAN. TFM claims: “in this struggle for land. 22 March 2010.190 While these killings should generally be understood within the local context of specific land claims.net/ua/mainfile.188 ATM had two mining activists killed during the past two years. Now CARP has been extended until 2013.9 188 TFM provided us with a detailed list of the date and names of the 12 deaths. and alleged NPA members. assaulted and killed. evicted. Twelve community leaders of ICCO-partner TFM were killed between 2001 and 2007. who had become a national icon of the struggle for agrarian reform. Manila 190 Interview with Pakisama. http://www. ‘Hacienda killings stress need for full CARP implementation’ in: Panay News. the campaign to extend the CARP and the counter-campaign launched by landowners to prevent the extension from happening has been very contentious. there are also various reports of shootings and beatings of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries.A-28. Alejandro Garcesa (70 years old) and Ely Tupas (52 years old) were killed by hacienda security guards on the Hacienda Velez-Malaga.189 Two high ranking leaders of Pakisama were killed last year. One of them is Rico Adeva who got killed in front of the eyes of his wife. p. ‘Community organizer slain in Silay’ in: The Philippine Star April 17.
partner Centrosaka Inc. reported to have experienced much less violent resistance that has been so prevalent for TFM. This is probably due to their less confrontational tactics, such as their policy to withdraw voluntarily from a land occupation long before any real trouble may arise.192 During 2008, there has been a sharp drop in political killings related to agrarian reform due to the international and national attention to the topic (AHRC, 2008:2). Whereas the bulk of restrictions are suffered by the rural communities and their leaders, professional NGOs do at times experience restrictions as well. IDIS has reported close surveillance by “men on motorcycles” and threats received by SMS.193 Also Balaod Mindanao and ATM reported to receive death threats from the military and corporations, as well as signals of surveillance.194TRICOM, in their assistance to indigenous people to recover ancestral domain, received threats from private individuals from poor communities that were occupying those lands. In response they organized a dialogue together with the local government to ensure that their removal would not affect their economic rights. In addition, they receive threats from corporations who perceive TRICOM as biased in favour of indigenous people.195 Less violent but equally obstructing their land claims, some NGOs pointed out that landowners and corporations often provide false information to claimants and workers about agrarian reform and the rights of the claimants. This is aggravated by the fact that the Department of Agrarian Reform also fails to give clear information. This makes it important for NGOs to provide trainings in which they fully inform the claimants of their rights. This informational work is made difficult when corporations call their workers together and warn them not to work together with NGOs. IDIS recalled a situation where a corporation called the workers together in a weekly meeting, saying that IDIS was only interested in the money, and threatening the workers not to work with them.196 Also combinations of threats and bribes occur, as NGOs reported that some leaders were offered money or scholarships in exchange for dropping land claims and on the other hand peasant leaders were fired.197 According to TFM, all of their members had lost their jobs and IDIS reported that in 2006 the brother of Marcelino Villaganes had been fired by the banana corporation because of his active organizing. As
Asked why TFM has had so many killings whereas other organizations such as Centrosaka have avoided them, the TFM interlocutor said, that the killings were not inevitable. Apart from the fact that the regions where they were active are particularly difficult, it may also be that they pushed too hard, and their form of action was new. But he thinks the killings were not in vain: now there are monthly meetings with municipal DAR, monthly meetings with provincial monitor assistance, and there is support from bishops. In addition, TFM has earned respect. Now, if TFM is involved, some landowners may choose to negotiate, because they have established credibility. Also, the TFM spokesperson is sure that the injuries in deaths most often have the effect that the claimants become more determined in their struggle. Once someone has died for the cause, the death cannot be in vain. He suggests that over the years the landowners may have realized that it also isn’t in their interest the killings. 193 Interview with author 24 March 2010, Davao City 194 For example, ATM reported to receive an SMS saying “you won’t get out of there alive,” interview with author, 26 March 2010, Manila. 195 Interview with author, 24 March 2010, Davao City 196 Interview with author with the NGO representative of IDIS, engaged in the anti-aerial spraying campaign 197 For example Balaod Mindanao reported these offers of scholarships, interview with author, 22 March 2010, Manila. In some cases the farmers did accept these offers as they had lost hope and didn’t see their chances for a real victory, or they were afraid. Balaod Mindanao perceived a tendency that corporations tend to choose more for offering money or jobs to dissuade land claimants from pursuing their campaign, whereas private landowners tended to have threats as a first reaction. 85
communities can be highly dependent on the corporations for their daily livelihood, this creates tensions and fear in the community as some members say that it is more important to have food on the table now, than to care about the (for example health) issues of tomorrow. Job losses were also documented by FIAN who in addition noted that the protest record of these leaders also prevented their employment by other landowners (2008:28). Balaod Mindanao reported that corporations often offer them money to have them drop their cases, for example San Miguel offered them money in 2007. MPC reported that indigenous leaders sometimes are more interested in the direct money offered by corporations. To circumvent the authority of the local leaders, MPC tries to discuss the issue with the women of the community under the guise of discussing spirituality and their relation to spirits and nature, as the men are busy fighting for the money.198 Landowners have also deliberately engaged in divide and rule tactics when they organized some loyal farmers to be on their side to nominate them as the beneficiaries of the reform, leading to fighting between two groups of farmers.199 Restrictions in the form of harassment, criminal or civil cases, are most likely once land claims look likely to be granted. Once communities receive their CLOA, this often does not translate directly in the actual possession of land. Farmers may then decide to enter the land. PhilNET explained how then the landowners with the help of the police, military or armed personnel will come in, which can lead to skirmishes.200 Both TFM and PhilNET argued that, whether or not the resistance by landowners escalates into the use of violence seems to depend partially on the attitude of the local government units, whether they support the landowners or the claimant farmers.201 It is thus not surprising that NGOs invariably reported that one of their major strategies is to build good contacts with local government units. Local community leaders can face criminal charges when they resort to the tactic of land occupation. TFM has made a comprehensive list of the criminal charges suffered by its members, providing an overview of cases that have been initiated against CLOA holders or agrarian reform beneficiaries who are affiliated with TFM, listing offenses such as occupation of property or usurpation of property rights and trespass. PhilNET equally reported that many of its community activists are facing criminal charges such as trespassing and qualified theft. The PhilNET staff member estimates that between 1996 and 2010 a little more than hundred people of their communities have passed through jail. In one case, a CLOA holder is charged with qualified theft as he was harvesting his coconuts. A typical incident is an example from Davao Oriental, where sixteen CLOA holders (awarded to them on December 29, 1998) were arrested on January 23, 2007, after a criminal complaint of grave coercion was filed against them by security personnel of ARCAL Development, Inc. after their entry into their awarded land on September 11, 2006. After a week of incarceration, they were released after the
Interview with author, 25 March 2010, Davao City Interview with PARFUND, 25 March 2010, Davao City 200 Interview with author, 22 March 2010, Manila 201 For example, according to TFM the region of Mindjola is especially repressive and the law does not have much meaning there. To illustrate, the TFM spokesperson told that whereas in general you are free to organize rallies, without encountering repression, this is not the case for Mindjola, saying: “there is no rule there; there they can disperse you whenever they want.” Interview with author, 27 March 2010, Manila 86
payment of bail. In 2009 their case was dismissed for lack of merit.202 These cases take away time and financial resources from communities, also when in the end they are dismissed. Legal cases are particularly problematic, as analysts have suggested that without money, access to the judicial system and a good defence become increasingly compromised. In addition, due to the enormous backlog, cases can take a very long time to proceed (Hutchcroft, 2007:19). NGOs claim that landowners like to keep the cases on-going, because it is a means of pressure of the landowner to the claimant.203 According to the director of MPC, in the area where banana plantation Dole is active, all of the lawyers are on the payroll of Dole and communities will find it difficult to get lawyers to represent them.204Centrosaka said that landowners are “forum shopping:” filing cases in various courts in order to postpone the actual installation of ARB’s.205 Because the landowners used to file so many criminal cases and restraining orders, finally the Supreme Court confirmed that all these cases that are related to the agrarian reform have to be dealt with by the Department of Agrarian Reform. This was a victory for TFM.206 Not only community members face criminal charges in the struggle for land reform. Also lawyers collective BalaodMindanao reported to have been accused of oral defamation by a plantation company after speaking in a rally, as well as accused by a landowner for conduct unbecoming of a lawyer with the threat of disbarment. The cases were later dismissed. The spokesperson was concerned that these criminal cases scare lawyers away from choosing this field to work in as it has led lawyers to change to another field and complicated their recruitment of new lawyers. In addition, defending their own lawyers in court, takes their time and resources from traveling to villages.207 NGOs working on agrarian reform often face the negative label of association with the communist rebels, which can severely impede their work. PhilNET for example reported that their partner organization PRDCI (a former ICCO partner) was branded as a communist organization, because of their work at the local level. The military told them to stop working in that area. Centrosaka has a partner that was on the ‘order of battle,’ Elvira Baladad of the Macabud Farmers, which affects her mobility in the area. She cannot organize there anymore as she fears for her life. Centrosaka maintains that she was very successful and thus may have developed enemies. They reported her case to the media in press statements. According to PhilNET, this branding happens to anyone who works on agrarian reform or is demanding
Document received during interview with TFM, ‘Agrarian Reform-Related Violence and Human Rights Violations in TFM Areas in Davao Oriental’ 203 ICCO partner the Agrarian Justice Foundation, Inc. (AJFI) pays for the bails of poor people in the legal system as they claim that many large landowners use the Philippine legal system, which costs a lot of money and can take a long time, as an opportunity to be obstructive towards the government and poor people who don't own land. “It is the policy of the Agrarian Justice Foundation, Inc. (AJFI) to grant financial assistance for legal expenses to deserving agrarian reform beneficiaries who have been unjustly charged in court by landowners for various offenses, for the purpose of delaying or hampering the implementation of the agrarian reform program.” http://agrarianjusticefoundation.org/programs.htm 204 Interview with author, 25 March 2010, Davao City 205 Interview with author, 26 March 2010, Manila. A similar remark was made by Butch Olano from PARFUND who reported that corporations can easily send twenty lawyers who are challenging titles, the agrarian reform as such and look for exemptions, interview with author, 25 March 2010, Davao City. 206 Interview with author, 27 March 2010, Manila 207 Interview with author, 22 March 2010, Manila 87
higher wages, claiming that “in the Philippines, if you raise issues of the marginalized population, you are branded as a communist front.”208Balaod Mindanao reported that their organization had been branded by the military as belonging to the NPA. This forced one of their board members to step down from the board when she was applying to become a regional trial judge.209TRICOM found out that they are qualified as front organizations in the military’s PowerPoint presentation and the military requested access to their seminars. 210 One of the members of ATM (Friends of the Earth Philippines, LRC) was also said to be on the order of battle. As a consequence they were being followed and their cell phones intercepted. 211 IDIS informed that in Compostela the military put up banners saying that MAAS = NPA (MAAS = movement against aerial spraying). Apart from the label to be associated with the extreme left, NGOs can face other attempts to discredit their work. For example, IDIS told that the military had sent around a petition in favour of aerial spraying. According to IDIS, the community members had signed it because they didn’t dare not to. Another negative label that is sometimes used against NGOs is that they are just interested in receiving money from foreign donors. IDIS reported that corporations tell their workers, that the NGOs want to close down the plantations and that then there won’t be any jobs.212 NGOs also criticized the spaces of dialogue for solving claims regarding land and natural resources. Specific criticisms exist with regards to the requirement of free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous people.213 Citing the report by the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People, Hutchcroft notes that in the face of economic activities such as logging, mining, multi-purpose dams, commercial plantations, and other development projects “entire areas are reported to have been devastated without regard to the wishes and rights of indigenous communities” (2007:15). For example, the World Organization Against Torture describes the 1995 Mining Code as “one of the most favourable to foreign mining companies anywhere in the world” allowing 100% foreign ownership of mining projects, including the possibility to repatriate all profits and the guarantee against expropriation by the State (OMCT 2008:21-22). Last but not least, the government commits itself to ensure the removal of all obstacles to mining, including settlements and farms (ibid). The Mining Code is thus used to sidestep the protections of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) as many minerals are in indigenous territories. ATM reported that twice they experienced that a local mayor who refused to consent to a mining project was suspended for six months. Another mayor was then installed who would give the needed consent. This led Haribon, a member of ATM, to withdraw from that area.214
Interview with author, 22 March 2010, Manila Interview with author, 22 March 2010, Manila 210 Previously TRICOM was aligned with extreme leftist organizations. There was a split and TRICOM continued as a more neutral organization. Still, this stigma was still sticking to them. Thus, when they organized a meeting in local communities, members of the police or military would be present to monitor. In order to avoid this suspicion, TRICOM decided to participate in the so-called “accreditation-process.” Interview with author, 24 March 2010, Davao City 211 Interview with author, 26 March 2010, Manila 212 Interview with author, 24 March 2010, Davao City 213 This was for example noted by TRICOM and ATM 214 Interview with author, 26 March 2010, Manila 88
2008. NGOs also reported that killings tend to make people more determined to obtain what they had been fighting for. they went to the police to report the incidents. On the one hand. as it has set a precedent. Jester P. Davao City For example Centrosaka. the husband of President Gloria Arroyo. They set up a buddy system and changed meeting venues. 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. NGOs reported that the killings do scare some communities into less confrontational tactics. CARET and Mindanao People’s Caucus 217 Manalastas. Several NGOs have reported that there were cases where they had to withdraw (temporarily) from an area due to security concerns. 218 Interview with author.217 These actions are generally judged as successful. She ordered the police and armed forces to enter in hacienda Velez Malaga to protect the farmers. Other highly publicized actions have been hunger strikes. NGOs sometimes have resorted to tactics that draw a lot of media-attention to their campaigns and demands. In one of the hunger strikes. Davao City 89 . ‘Bishops join farmers on hunger strike’ in: People’s Journal December 16. and one of them even decided to hide for a time to lessen possibilities of getting hurt. however. Our interviewee reported that she cut her hair to change her appearance. TFM and PARFUND staff began travelling in teams. PhilNET wanted to clear their names of killed leaders who had been called “trespassers” and argued that they were “claimants” and 215 216 Interview with author. Although the community of the murdered president of Pakisama stopped their work for a while. at times even convincing a broader audience of the justness of the cause. This specific action has led to a response by the president herself. An example of such a tactic has been the long march organized by TFM.215 Surveillance and threats affect the mobility of NGO workers. I received this press clipping from the impressive news archive of TFM. For example. 2008. PARFUND indicated that this incident has provided more space. and they went to the mayor. where again bishops have joined the farmers. but even their sympathizers from the middle class. 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. the death of René Peñas inspired not only his co-leaders and members of their own organization. they returned to organizing and picked it up from where they were before the killing. Furthermore. 25 March 2010. 25 March 2010. there was the real possibility of dying for two farmers. NGOs point out that it shouldn’t be the case that citizens go to such lengths to enforce their legal rights.216 IDIS even asked for professional help (training on security and safety). in Negros Occidental. This hunger strike was held in front of the House of Representatives to call for the extension of CARP. According to Butch Olano from PARFUND. The participation of various people from the clergy gave the march more status. Another important hunger strike was held in demand of distribution of hacienda Bacan. All NGOs issue press releases in reaction to violent incidents.Impact on operational space and response capacity It is difficult to assess the effects of the political killings on the operational space of NGOs. For Pakisama. Landowners now know that this can happen and the Department of Agrarian Reform has an incentive that it should be avoided to happen again. which is owned by Mike Arroyo.218 The response to violent incidents has been largely reactive.
This lack of government control affects NGOs that operate in zones of conflict and very isolated places. PhilNet. TFM has reported that in several instances it has filed criminal complaints against (former) landowners or guards for offenses like attempted murder. fighting still continues. Some NGOs also invited renowned and nonideological personalities to serve as board members of their organizations. In order to counter the negative label of association with the NPA. Their immediate reaction put the military on the defensive. In Mindanao. PARFUND. 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. the government is combating the NPA. 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). the military makes a strong effort to counter the recruitment. To complicate matters. therefore making it a sanctuary for Jemaah Islamiyah fugitives (Hutchcroft 2007:15). and the creation of an Autonomous Region (ARMM).that they were on the lands as part of the process of engagement in land reform. Beyond this. both the NPA and the military have camps and checkpoints with fighting taking place irregularly. TRICOM. In other areas. in parts of the south. and they issued a press statement.219 These proceedings tend to be prolonged. According to International Crisis Group. It is clear that NGOs and communities working for agrarian reform operate in a risky and constricted space. They invited the military to come to the trainings to witness what they are doing. Some NGOs also dedicated part of their budget to explain their goals in the media. 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. Again in other areas. arson. This was done by TFM. When their partner PRDCI was branded as a communist front. or threats. The NPA has a “presence” in several areas. There are two ongoing armed conflicts in the Philippines. In these areas. PhilNET immediately reacted. They made representations at the local level with their legal documents. the armed group of the communist party. there is an armed conflict between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government. some Islamic terrorist groups such as the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group are also active in this area. In the entire territory of the archipelago. The most important and successful response strategies have been to build good relations with local governments and visible mobilizations at the national level. went to the department of agricultural reform to ask for their endorsement. Basic safety in conflict areas and isolated places The Philippines are a weak state and the government lacks factual control in various areas. Despite negotiations. which means that the government cannot enter the area without paying money and/or asking permission. TFM provided me with an overview listing all the current legal cases in which they are involved 90 . the Philippines is in fact a failed state. as well as various paramilitary and 219 Interview with author. Now the military is working with PRDCI. and Centrosaka Inc. 27 March 2010. criminalization and stigmatization. the NPA is attempting to recruit and mobilize communities. They have to deal with strong repression and intimidation. and witness to see whether it was on agriculture or not. there has not been much institutionalized or coordinated effort to respond to the killings.
they argue that it heightens their chance to become a target of bandits for the firearms and money.221 The “Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao” (ARMM) actually displays problems as described in the ideal type on conflict zones. such as basic insecurity and humanitarian problems such as refugees and road blockades (see also Amnesty International 2009.org/about. ambush. 221 Interview with author. 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. and ransacking of their offices. 2007:186). 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. 2008:44). robbery. social.html 91 . In addition. In conflict zones and isolated areas NGOs thus face potential threats from armed rebel groups. kidnapping. and killing when they travel through or work in these areas.criminal armed groups (Estifania Co & Neame. and the military. Pakisama reported that during the past five years.222 Ed Quitoriano signals the tendency of securitization of aid. 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. NGOs also reported threats from the NPA either because their NGO activity would lessen the revolutionary base from the community220. or being engaged in ‘terrorist’ activity because of protests in defence of their economic. for example.ph/mpp/mppprofiles2. people’s organizations and NGOs have to be careful not to raise suspicions from any of the armed actors. This mainly affects their mobility. 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). For example. TRICOM. communities. ordinary bandits and criminals. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people. The government offered guards. their organizations have experienced heavy militarization like overpresence of check points in highways. 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. In addition. The on-going fighting in these armed conflicts creates a situation of basic insecurity. intrusion of military personnel in their education activities. but TRICOM prefers to maintain a neutral position. 24 March 2010. Widespread daily violence is the result of a weak government. no control over army and police force. Davao City 222 ICCO-partner Kalimudan Foundation. being members or sympathizers of the NPA. Donors will have to deal with these military strategies.php. and the presence of many other armed actors on the stage. 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.org. experienced threats from bandits during their work with indigenous people in Mindanao. http://www. as they risk theft. Inc. and cultural rights (OMCT. http://kalimudan.afrim. Rodolfo Stavenhagen. in some of their areas in Southern Luzon. This limits severely the operational space of NGOs as they operate in daily insecurity. for example detailing the mortar shelling of an IDP camp). thus affecting their operational space. or because of suspicion to belong to the military.
and in Davao City there is already a Death Squad active targeting petty criminals. ‘The structure of reactionary violence and human rights violations in the Philippines’. 2009. Jose Maria Sison. by Prof. when visiting indigenous peoples coordinate it beforehand with the chiefs. the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank have suspended their financial aid to Mindanao because of that reason. the researchers have to be careful not to travel at night. available at [accessed 17 June 2010]: http://newsinfo. which is tolerated by the mayor (HRW. 2009. USAID. http://edicio.wordpress. 2009). 27 November 2009.com/politics/the-ruthless-political-entrepreneurs-of-muslim-mindanao/ . 225 Papa. Manila 230 In the cases where travels are undertaken.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. 228 Interview with author. ‘Maguindanao massacre worst ever for journalists’ in: Philippine Daily Inquirer 26 November 2009. ‘The ruthless political entrepreneurs of Muslim Mindanao’ available at [accessed on 17 June 2010]: http://planetphilippines. to take nonstop buses. Press Statement. 21 March 2010. International League of Peoples' Struggle 227 The military has created self-defense groups called Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAGFU).reduction. 4 March 2010 [accessed 20 March 2010].230 ATM informed us that in 2008. two students were doing research for ATM on access for lands for Indigenous People. Chairperson. Sison. Lara Jr. and AFRIM) who tend to travel to remote areas and areas where the conflict is ongoing.225 The origins of the massacre are generally attributed to the rivalry between the Ampatuan and Mangudadatu clans. Manila 92 . listen to the advice of regional liaison officers. as politicians are forced to negotiate with them.229 Security precautions are an integral part of the training of their researchers. 26 March 2010. 223 224 Interview with author. 26 March 2010. there are reports of increased communal violence and vigilantism in Mindanao while the government is handing out weapons for citizens to protect themselves (AHRC. Jose Maria.224 On November 23.231 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. 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. Alcuin.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20091126238554/Maguindanao-massacre-worst-ever-for-journalists 226 Francisco J. of which 34 were journalists. Organizations affected by these restrictions have been research institutions who work on agrarian issues and indigenous peoples (Centrosaka Inc. They were abducted by the military after they had been labeled as sympathizers for the NPA. Lara Jr. 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. 231 Interview with author. and follow strict security protocols.com/. 25 March 2010. He also claims involvement of drug traders with warlords and political killings in Mindanao as the Philippines has turned into a transit port.226 In addition. and the Philippine National Police has created similar units called the Police Auxiliaries (PAX).inquirer. 2010. in the province of Maguindanao in Mindanao 57 civilians were killed. Manila Francisco J. “Remember Maguindanao”.228 Impact on operational space and response The operational space of NGOs is clearly affected by the abovementioned restrictions. Good offices by the church led to their release. 2008:1)227. available at the Weblog of Edicio de la Torre. Manila 229 Interview with author.
25 March 2010. One team leader of a ceasefire monitoring group decided to stop with the work.000 houses that were burnt down during a military operation.Also organizations that are involved with the peace processes are affected. According to the director of MPC the arson was planned and deliberate.232 On the other hand. although this was not a regular occurrence. In at least one instance. her colleague got kidnapped. they decided to pull out of Sulu.234 The revolutionary tax demanded by the NPA poses another problem. There is no police protection for the microfinance loan officers. 24 March 2010. Governor Piñol fought against the peace agreement and eventually got it declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. interview with author. such as ICCO-partners Mindanao Microfinance Council (MMC) and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. In several instances. the director received death threats on a daily basis. providing a clear incentive for community care. as he was against the peace agreement. Davao City 233 Interview with author.233 Specific mention deserve the loan officers of Micro-Finance-Institutions (MFIs). After this incident. it would be robbing from the people. The military responded to the cases by threatening to pull out their forces from the area. The policy has been implemented that the money is only considered paid once it has gotten to the bank. community members often accompany the loan officer on the way back. as in the last office the staff didn’t feel safe anymore. They explained that the program tries to help the poor people and thus by paying revolutionary tax. They threatened the NPA to leave the area and the people would be angry with the NPA. During the fighting in 2008. in four cases such a robbery led to the death of the microfinance officer and it is recognized as an increasing problem. as many human rights violations take place in Sulu and they perceive that after their withdrawal the number of violations has increased. Manila 93 . MPC also reported about severe problems with the military after they had filed cases on behalf of community members about more than 3. However. The director of the Mindanao Peace Caucus (MPC) was accused of being a supporter of the MILF due to their organization’s support for the peace agreement forged by the rebel group and the government peace panel. In past years the popularity of microfinance has led to their expansion into areas farther away from what they called “centers of protection. and he portrayed support for the agreement as being pro-MILF. The director was almost kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group. Instead. in Davao 232 She told us that governor Piñol mentioned her in every speech as a sympathizer of the MILF. which was a very heavy decision for them. Between 2007 and 2009. MPC has had to transfer their office because of the threats. For MCC. Davao City 234 Interview with author. 25 March 2010. the MILF in its turn is also suspicious of the MPC as they are sometimes seen together with the general of the military. MMC told that one of their partner organizations in Nagusa has negotiated relations with the NPA and thus avoids paying the revolutionary tax. which is the reason there is no documenting of the incidents of harassment. such as the Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC) which was active as a ceasefire monitoring organization. This led the mayor of the area to promise to halt the cases. (MCPI). microfinance loan officers have been robbed as they came to collect money in isolated places.” The increased popularity has also led to criminals knowing when the money is collected. MPC volunteers were targeted as well. As a strategy to protect the loan officers. one of the partner MFIs of MCPI decided to retreat from an area because they were extorted to pay “revolutionary tax” to the NPA. when she was travelling to a military camp in Sulu.
responses to the restrictions faced by NGOs have been confronted on a case by case basis (reactive) and by individual NGOs.nl/delivery/main/en/project. the NPA commanders are strict and there they have to pay revolutionary tax. 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. we have analysed three specific areas in which NGOs face severe restrictions on their operational space. interview with author.Oriental. And regular lending institutions do not go there either. In correspondence with their vision to work in “frontier areas. 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. ICCO provides a guarantee to a loan provided by Oikocredit. as it clearly poses the challenges listed before. Therefore they are now investigating the possibilities how to penetrate the area. coordinated response by the NGO community has been rare. which are risky because of the instability. there is no single forum for the NGO community.icco. One partner of MMC had to leave the area of Davao Oriental after they had taken away their motorcycle. or the organization that was set up to bring NGOs together: CODE-NGO). A proactive. They lack the means to maintain the plantation for which they need loans. We specifically have looked whether NGOs tend to be reactive or whether they have developed pro-active responses. 26 March 2010. for example mining companies also have to pay revolutionary taxes to avoid being bombed. 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.238 Responses In the previous section.235 Unlike the situation in the topic discussed previously where leaders are disproportionately targeted for harassment. 2009:233).” MMC is now considering expanding into the ARMM. (2) look for existing MFIs there and provide capacity building. In this section. 26 March 2010.pdf 238 For example.236 Instability also affects investment. the risk is here more general.phtml?p=en-project&project=268. where at this moment.237 In another instance. Indeed. very few microfinance institutions are active. The response to these dangers has been mainly reactive. (3) build a new MFI and operate it. Haribon explained to make courtesy calls to both the military and the NPA when they want to work in a specific area. as that is where poor people are. 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.com/documents/pdf/projects//scarbidc%20philipines-uk. Manila 94 . the political partylist Akbayan. 236 Interview with ATM. because of the armed conflict. such as environmental networks. we analyse the response strategies that NGOs have developed to counter. 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). Whereas there are various networks (all NGOs reported to be part of many networks. Generally. and whether NGOs act on their own or in alliance with other organizations. prevent or avoid these restrictions. oikocredit. 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. Manila 237 http://www. they know that the NPA actually attend their meetings and activities in some cases. MMC specifically requested if it were possible that ICCO provide a guarantee fund to encourage MFIs to go to these conflicted areas.
2006.242 The international community has put pressure on the Philippines after the situation with political killings became more publicized. the director of MPC remarked cynically “we attend funerals” but then there is not more action. No. such as setting up a legal fund. The Human Rights Commission is such an available organ. 2008). this can be explained by the fact that NGOs tend to view these restrictions. 22 March 2010. For example. ‘Melo hearings in Negros start today’ in: The Visayan Daily Star Vol. Regarding the lack of a coordinated response to the physical risk that activists face. 167. Food First International Switzerland once sent out a fact finding team after killings in Davao. PhilNET acknowledged that they don’t keep any records of killings or criminal cases. for example recorded by the AHRC. In reaction to the political killings. the lack of a coordinated response can be attributed to the ideological polarization of the NGO-sector. This process means that NGOs 239 240 For example Balaod Mindanao mentioned this in the interview with author. For example. the CIVICUS updates. Good.org/ 95 . 2006. 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. Various NGOs have reported to have stopped their activities in a specific area. reported to contact the Human Rights Commission as a preventative measure before they conduct land occupations. 26 March 2010. 25. NGOs campaigned for intervention and contributed to the various investigations that have been conducted. or lists produced by Karapatan. Partly. NGOs tend to interpret many of the threats to their work as the proof of their effectiveness. Manila 241 Gomez. reliable and specific documentation is a first step to effective advocacy. Often also the Human Rights Commission is contacted. even before any violent act has occurred.1. p. because of security concerns. as part of the risks of organizing. TFM was the only organization that kept record of these numbers. instead of comprehensive and complete. Some data is available. Apart from reactive responses.241 NGOs have also contributed information to the UN Rapporteur on Extrajudicial killings as he visited the Philippines (Alston. we have looked at available structures for effective responses to restrictions. Other NGOs have attempted to counter the restriction by going to the mayor. 242 For example Balaod Mindanao. Manila For example Centrosaka spoke positively about the response of the Human Rights Commission when called upon. and criminal charges. An important pro-active tool that NGOs use individually is the “accreditation process” which is laid down in the local government codes. Manila 243 For more information about the IPON program. For example TFM have cooperated with the Melo Commission presenting evidence of killings of their community organizers. interview with author. Centrosaka Inc. Unfortunately. injuries. particularly the killings. 22 March 2010. but this tends to be anecdotic or partial. and the police or by issuing press statements. as well as for taking more proactive measures. November 27.that despite the existence of many networks and alliances they tend to work in isolation. which has been described to work effectively. Bayoran.240 Generally NGOs respond reactively to incidents. not sharing much information or not following up on initial efforts of coordination. the local government unit. NGOs coordinate this response in their networks and with other NGOs in order to issue joined press statements to increase the legitimacy.239 In addition. and Gilbert P. there is a lack of good documentation of the restrictions that NGOs face. Partly. On a positive note. see http://www.243 According to the TFM leader this was very effective in keeping violence away. Bacolod City. including the killings. Carla P.ipon-philippines. Sometimes. interview with author.
244 There are various instances of successful actions in which bishops participated. Dizon. Likewise. is to secure important well placed people in the board of the NGO who have an impeccable track record and can thus safeguard the image of the NGO as well as can arrange the connections with high-ranked people when it is necessary. 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). At key points.245 All mentioned that when bishops say something. even president Arroyo cannot just ignore their opinion. and there is a very free press (Hutchcroft. such as a hunger strike and long march to Manila.represent themselves to the mayor and the local government councils to take place on advisory boards. NGOs unanimously emphasized the political power of the church. One strategy. Even though the media is owned by the same families that hold economic and political power. 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. not only with local government units. such as when TFM secured a visit to president Arroyo. It is clear that this can be crucial in countering restrictions. Several cases have indicated that good connections can secure police protection or a police investigation where otherwise no action would be undertaken. but will act accordingly. This process provides an opportunity for NGOs to establish their legitimacy and clearly distinguish themselves from the rebel groups. The media has proven to be a good ally for NGOs in achieving this. December 2. A key element in a good media strategy is to “build upon the justness of the cause” as TFM puts it. The church can be a good ally for NGOs when they are successful in mobilizing the progressive bishops. asked about how they were able to counter efforts to label them as terrorists. Some hunger strikes became very high profile and made it to the front pages of newspapers. In order to counter negative labelling. As discussed before. several NGOs mentioned that they turned to ‘friends’ within the military or within the church to ask for help to respond to restrictions. ‘‘Running priest’ backs Arroyo tenants’ in: Philippine Daily Inquirer. The message for public opinion has to be that it is clear that the claimants have legitimate titles in the form of CLOA and that thus the landowners are resisting the legitimate entry of claimants. the president will do. Various NGOs reported to invest in creating good contacts. th In its 4 national congress. 26 March 2010.” interview with author. held on March 22. An example of a proactive as well as coordinated response is the initiative of Code-NGO. pointing out that this is often a misconception among NGOs who fail to put resources into the relation with the media. NGOs put a lot of effort in presenting their work and building their image. 2007:8). Nikko. even though the Philippines are a secular state. several of the NGOs that face physical repression have invested in security trainings and other security measures. with various journalists favouring agrarian reform. there are various progressive people within the media. the spokesperson of ATM said: “when bishops talk. 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. public opinion is generally influenced by key people. For example. 2008. 2008 245 For example. but also for example with the military. Manila 96 . for example by TFM. 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.
248 Balaod Mindanao also reported to give security trainings. One human rights NGO (PAHRA). Various NGOs reported their activity in training community members to be aware of their rights. the Bill of Rights and socioeconomic rights. with a fact sheet and information on who to contact and when.”247 Informal contacts made this initiative possible.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=121&Itemid=121 Interview with author.249 246 247 http://www.net/index. One of them is called “Caring for development NGO worker”. a legal collective (Balaod Mindanao) and ATM reported to be using the term.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=24&Itemid=36 97 . and how courts work. the well known peasant leader who got killed in 2008 248 Interview with author. they wanted to do something to prevent this. how to write an affidavit. such as in the case of Ka René. They usually used the term “paralegal training.Philippines. Advanced trainings teach how to gather documents.” ATM explained that basic trainings teach on basic human rights. as well as how to do human rights monitoring and documentation. 24 March 2010. Another example of a coordinated and pro-active response was the petition. such as the Task Force Detainees. and to give trainings on it. 26 March 2010. the UN Declaration.code-ngo. The IDIS representative comments: “instead of having a Task Force to do fact finding once a killing has occurred. who have set up a human rights defenders project in relation to the anti-mining campaign and for communities affected by mining activities.tfdp. Other NGOs have already adopted the Human Rights Defenders terminology. Davao City. among others. 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 adopted six thrusts for 2007-2011. Another proactive and coordinated initiative has been the setting up of the ‘Defend the Defenders’ fund with money from the Dutch embassy (see box). making some of them interested in training on the subject. see http://www. Manila 249 For more information about the launch of this project.org/home/index. The concept of “human rights defenders” was not well known among all NGO-staff. including.246 This includes providing support to NGO workers and volunteers in high risk projects and areas. she refers to René Peñas. the provision of legal assistance and a legal assistance fund. signed by 600 journalists and thirty supporting organizations urging the decriminalization of libel (Hutchcroft 2007:9).
They also at times write letters for example to request an independent investigation in a specific case. Counsellor Political Affairs andDeputy Head of Mission of the Dutch Embassy recalled the visit of the TFM staff member very well. For this reason. The embassy recently initiated support for a project "Defend the Defenders" in cooperation with the law school of Ateneo University. The Dutch embassy in the Philippines is receptive to human rights issues. Anita van de Haar-Conijn. Once. 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. because President Arroyo was going on a tour through Europe.” She reported that the visit stimulated the embassy to have funded a documentary that was made about the organizing by TFM. For example. 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. they only choose to be present during trials. and they were present during its launch. Visible presence is one of their main tools. when the cases are extremely clear. On the one hand. as his story was “impressive. the weakness of the government in providing security for its citizens and NGOs turns self-protection into a central 98 . Attention and backing by important people seems to scare away the people responsible for the killings. often in coordination with other EU countries. The ICCO representative suggested that such visits provided the leader of TFM with an extra layer of security. the ICCO country representative and the TFM leader visited the Dutch embassy in Manila and once they visited the Philippine embassy in The Hague. in order not to compromise their credibility. Operational space for NGOs in the Philippines is heavily determined by the weak government. Van de Haar-Conijn emphasized that the embassy appreciates the contact with Dutch NGOs as an alternative source of information about the Philippines. the very weakness of the government provides NGOs with the possibility to set up their own mechanisms and networks and take on what needs to be done.CASE BOX: Mobilizing the embassies ICCO-staff twice organized a visit to the involved embassies together with a TFM staff member. the embassy website posted the “European Human Rights Defenders Guidelines” in a prominent place on its website. 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 ICCO representative as well as the TFM spokesperson reported that the response of the Dutch embassy in Manila was positive. They promised to bring the issue of extrajudicial killings under the attention of the relevant people. This however creates the risk that NGOs simply take over the tasks of the government instead of improving governance. On the other hand. Conclusion & recommendations It is not an overstatement to say that the Philippines have a more vibrant NGO and civil society community than its neighbours.
In contrast to the Latin-American cases in this comparative study. They regretted the lack of funding for 250 Interview with author. Furthermore. In this chapter. community organizers and individual activists. however. All NGOs emphasized the importance of community organizing to be effective. Public demonstrations. as well as for those organizations that are identified as front organizations for the communist insurgency. the space for these NGOs to engage in that controversial battle can be relatively free and without fundamental challenges. Still. 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. This creates the pressures on the operational space for NGOs operating on issues traditionally associated with the left. We want to emphasize that this does not mean that the NGOs operating in these areas never face challenges. NGOs working on these issues have relatively much operational space in comparison to Indonesia and the Central American countries. however. Manila 99 . Ed de la Torre pointed out that the underground is an illegalized space in which actors attempt to create space. Indeed. we have identified the existing actions and policies that restrict the operational space of NGOs in the Philippines. This seems to be the experience for the majority of professional NGOs. the spaces for dialogue are specifically facilitated by the state legislation. This means that the work of these NGOs can be deeply political and controversial. 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. when they view other arenas as too restricted to work. In fact. In this regard. can be (violently) repressed. In our interviews. they emphasized that their space for operation expanded.250 Professional NGOs such as NATCCO and APFT reported that they experience no restrictions on their operational space. NGOs have found it difficult to turn their participation in these spaces into real influence on the development of policy and decision-making. Negative labelling is strongly related to the military tendency to view organizations involved in land or labour reform as possible communists. Finally. the Philippines still has armed communist rebellion. specifically those dedicated to service delivery. NGOs working on gender issues. as we will see. Thus. Further. Various groups in the Philippines still operate underground. whereas issues of gender and sexuality are contested. The weakness of the government also gives way to nonstate actors who dominate the political and economic scene vis-à-vis NGOs. or urban poor have relatively a lot of space for their work.issue for defending operational space. 22 March 2010. The administrative context for NGOs is generally good as there are no difficult registration hurdles or otherwise bureaucratic obstacles to pursue their activities. Physical repression and intimidation in the form of political killings and death threats stand out in the Philippines as a severe problem that has emerged over the past ten years. they do. (3) NGOs operating in conflict areas and isolated places. NGOs offered some recommendations for ICCO. Criminalization plays a role for rural communities making land claims. even though there are signals of a decline since 2008. (2) NGOs and community organizers making claims about land and natural resources. urban and professional NGOs have a relatively protected operational space compared to grassroots organizations. at the same time. labor.
specifically in areas of ancestral domain. The new Aquino government will possibly offer new opportunities for cooperation between government and civil society and thus dramatically affect the operational space NGOs entertain. 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. ICCO can emphasize the importance of respecting free.that work. opens up the possibility for ICCO to use its Dutch contacts to make these mining companies accountable for their activities in the Philippines. The important presence of Dutch mining companies in the Philippines. prior. 100 . especially also in places where the land and mining activities are contested. Specifically. It remains to be seen how NGOs and the government are able to use the new political context.
5. This also means that the current report is limited. even though the space is still firmly determined by the (historical) context of the Indonesian state.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. Just as in Jakarta. and various human rights organizations such as the Asian Human Rights Commission. 2010). The interviews in Jakarta were all conducted in English. Many NGOs that are working in the area of ‘service delivery’ have therefore been excluded. and for their contribution to this chapter. 101 . the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia (Komnas HAM) and the report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders. such as for example that foreign press has been banned from the region since 2003 (Freedom House. We interviewed mainly ICCO partners. a lawyer’s collective.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 Wahyudi Djafar from Demos. these relations are weak at the moment. Aceh. whereas the strong military presence in Papua gives it more authoritarian features. In addition. arranging the interviews. but due to internal reorganization. 252 We would like to thank Maria Louisa Khrisnanti from the Legal Round Table. 2009. Their perspective would probably have yielded different findings than those presented here. we have drawn upon region-specific academic literature as well as country reports provided online by CIVICUS. 251 ICCO also supported organizations in Sulawesi. military. HRW. If this is true for regions like Sulawesi or Kalimantan. However. For a detailed overview of our interviews. We have not spoken with government officials or other (business. ICCO supports about ten organizations in Papua. religious) actors outside of the NGOsector. In Banda Aceh we had an interpreter. where regional politics may be more relevant than national structures. This report is based on interviews with NGOs in Jakarta and Banda Aceh. 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. see the appendix. In addition to the interviews. 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. and Java (outside of Jakarta). different in many respects from the other regions in Indonesia. Our findings do not necessarily apply to the other regions in Indonesia that were not explicitly included in this research. we have focused entirely on the period since the first elections have taken place in 2006. Freedom House. for their excellent cooperation in preparing our visit. and Java. we have chosen to focus on the space and the restrictions of space as NGOs experience now in this newly emerging democracy. Interviews were conducted from 29 March – 8 April 2010 in Indonesia. ICCO partners are indicated in bold. 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. Both the vastness of Indonesia and the strong pushes towards decentralization of power have motivated us to include this regional perspective. Aceh. It should be noted that with regards to Aceh. Amnesty International. a research and advocacy association on issues of democracy and human rights. Indonesia – specific spots of limited operational space Introduction ICCO supports many NGOs in Jakarta (situated on Java) and is further present in Papua. the Centre for Indonesian Law and Policy Studies (PSHK). it is certainly true for Papua which has a very particular political context. Human Rights Watch. but also several other NGOs to complement the picture. by adding the perspective of NGOs in Aceh we have tried to include the perspective from a region. who interpreted in all except two of the interviews conducted there.
mining. macro-economic policy. This regime change has to be understood in the context of the Asian monetary crisis of 1997. Sukarno was the first president followed in 1967 by Suharto. The years that followed are known as the “Reformasi. and fishing (2008:116). who came to power and installed the “New Order regime” until he was replaced in May 1998. and religion.255 The economy. In addition. The central state would keep 75% of the national income.254Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has been in office since 2004 and was re-elected in 2009. known as one of the “newly-industrialized economies” (Baron. these attempts ended in the end of his political career. 2009). foreign policy. This autonomy came in the hands of the districts (not the provinces). 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. Recently. he appointed a progressive general). 2008:16). However. Since 1998. A challenge for civilian control over the military is the fact that only 30% of the military budget is provided by the state. Abdurrahman Wahid (1999 – 2001. trade. the release of political prisoners and the admission of political parties and trade unions. also known as ‘Gus Dur’). In 2002. a law was adopted officially ending the military’s presence in the parliament (Nyman. 2008:16). The regions would take care for infrastructure. for example as recipients of concessions for natural resource extractions (HRW.Political context On 17 August 1945. industry. some efforts have been undertaken to change the relation between the government and the military. Indonesia gained independence from the Netherlands. the subsequent IMF intervention. Megawati (2001 – 2004) has not made much effort to narrow the power of the military. According to Schulte Nordholt the differences between rich and poor regions increased (2008:117). Decentralization led to the division that the central government would do defense. Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and it has strong relations with the United States. as ambassador. 2006:2). fiscal and monetary policy. 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. Habibie started a process of decentralization of the state administration creating a high level of regional autonomy. creating opportunities for the local elite and access to subsidies from Jakarta (2008:118). education. 255 For a nuanced discussion of this phenomenon. there have been concerns about an islamization of Indonesia. 2008). The military also has been involved in various businesses. 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. In the process of decentralization many new districts were created. and culture (Schulte Nordholt 2008:115). 30% of gas and 80% of logging. see for example Schulte Nordholt (2008:160) 102 . It is currently a member of the G-20. environment. Suharto used to give ex-military generals positions in the government at the national and regional level. and internal discontent about the lack of freedom (Schulte Nordholt. The regions could keep 15% of oil profits. The military thus engages in many 253 254 Although for example Aditjondro (2007:108) criticizes this term. governor or mayor. 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. Regional elites thus could control the most important money flows (2008:118). justice. which intensified since 2002 after the terrorist attacks in Bali and Jakarta (PRS. 2009:10). Indonesia is a secular state and has the world’s largest Muslim population (PRS. investments. the successor of Habibie.
created in 2003.261Impunity is a returning issue and the courts are rated as the worst institution in the country. as the government uses regional conflicts and terrorist attacks as rationales for expansion of military deployments (2007:113). However. and the Anticorruption Court. see HRW 2006 ‘Too High a Price. 261 Schulte Nordholt criticizes the role of political parties in the electoral democracy. political parties are there to mobilize it. 2009.256 In 2004. as bribes are an intrinsic part of the process of getting in the right place. as the army viewed a chance to increase their resources both from Jakarta and from foreign investors who would pay protection money. only people who possess (access to) capital have a chance to be elected. the party system is producing an unstoppable flood of new corrupt politicians” (2008:249).258 Aditjondro even argues that instead of military reform there is the threat of remilitarization.(legal and illegal) businesses to gain extra income. 103 . 2010:3). such as in Aceh and East Timor. Schulte Nordholt puts the paradoxical problem as follows: “while elections give the electorate the opportunity to clear corrupt leaders.260 The anti-corruption initiatives are continuously under attack. where everything and everyone can and is bought. In 2009. There are more analysts who perceive this perverse role of the military in some of the violent conflicts in Indonesia. Political parties are thus used by party elites to gain access to financial sources (2008:249). corruption is still widespread. 2007:121). Instead of being accountable to their constituency. There have been important efforts such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK). What is more. 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. 2008:100). for example the Anticorruption Court was judged unconstitutional (Freedom House. but largely staffed by military officers (HRW. the business transfers and the appointment by SBY of non-military officials for high-level government positions indicate progress. Schulte Nordholt argues that the interests involved are too big to counter corruption effectively (2008:102). there was some improvement. 2006). a law was enacted requiring military businesses to be transferred to the government (Freedom House. watchdogs and the media as well as a change in the “atmosphere in the bureaucracy” indicating increased reluctance to engage in corruption (2008:9). 259 In 2005. however. http://media. Aditjondro. 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 Indonesia was rated 111 of 180 surveyed countries. as well as the instigator of communal violence.org/imaps/cpi2009/ 260 It has been argued that corruption transferred to the local level because of decentralisation (see for example World Bank. such as in Maluku (Schulte Nordholt. Recently. The Human Rights Cost of the Indonesian Military’s Economic Activities’ 257 In October 2009. 2010:3). 256 For a detailed report on military financing and specifically the detrimental effects in terms of human rights violations. which is led by a civilian. Indonesia was among the very most corrupt countries in the world. accessed 26 May 2010. President Yudhoyono did indeed issue a decree confirming this transfer. Aditjondro suspects a “riot industry” meaning that intelligence agents played a role in intensifying communal violence in order to secure military supremacy (2007:116). 2007).259Schulte Nordholt describes Indonesia as a thoroughly corrupt society. Human Rights Watch criticizes the fact that control is given to the Ministry of Defense.transparency. 258 Indeed. The military in Indonesia is thought to be responsible for many human rights violations. Transparency International rated Indonesia as one of the most corrupt countries in the world (at 137 of 159 countries that were surveyed). 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.257 Although military dominance still is a severe issue.
He argues that it was not possible to do anything without the consent of the main actors of this shadow state: bureaucrats. business men. Schulte Nordholt argues that the state did not become necessarily weak. The regionalization actually led to more state. justice. and fishing (2008:116). 2008:251). And the split between the police and the military made that they both have to provide for their income. Investments in infrastructure. and culture (Schulte Nordholt. Also. Only 3. mining. 2008:113). This is exactly what Gaventer warns for: “Creation of new institutional designs of participatory governance. but Schulte Nordholt indicates that the capacity to govern is small. macro-economic policy. Klinken and Barker (2009:1) characterize Indonesia today as more democratic. The regions would take care for infrastructure. education. foreign policy. industry. 30% of gas and 80% of logging. The budget for its 230 million inhabitants is 70 billion euro. trade. and religion. fiscal and monetary policy. The assumption by the World Bank and international donors was that decentralization would lead to better governance. 2008:115). Schulte Nordholt thus characterizes Indonesia as a “soft state” where laws are made but hardly enforced. Regions were allowed to gain their own income with the local resources. This autonomy came in the hands of the districts (not the provinces). but not necessarily working for good governance and accountability. and military – the room to set their own agenda and avoid 262 Decentralization led to the division that the central government would do defense.262 This didn’t happen. the police leaders and the military. more democracy and a stronger civil society (Schulte Nordholt. in the absence of other participatory spaces which serve to provide and sustain countervailing power. which would come in the hands of strong regional elites who did not have much interest in democracy and good governance (2008:118). He describes the emergence of a shadow state where governmental institutions become privatized and private interest become institutionalized (2008:119). what frequently leads to conflicts between these institutions (2008:120). Indonesia thus has a lot of state actors. politicians. such as the oil transportation to Japan (Schulte Nordholt. 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. 2008:101). and education are thus low (Schulte Nordholt. explaining partially the low budget. health. environment. Indeed. According to Schulte Nordholt the differences between rich and poor regions increased (2008:117). whereas the Netherlands has a budget of 210 billion euro. The bureaucracy is fifty times bigger than at the end of the colonial period. 2006:27). business men. might simply be captured by the already empowered elite” (Gaventer. decentralization did not only bring more state. The central state would keep 75% of the national income. but also more military to the regions. “The state apparatus functions “weak”. The regions could keep 15% of oil profits. such as Kalimantan and Poso. Instead. local competition between elites led to enormous violence in several cases. giving the political class – consisting of bureaucrats. investments. local criminals and preman. Regional elites thus came to control the most important money flows (2008:118).The international community has an interest in a peaceful Indonesia as 40% of the international shipping transport goes through Indonesia. but also more chaotic and corrupt than during Suharto’s regime.7 million people pay any income taxes. 104 .
Aceh faced military occupation and martial law as a response to a strong return of the GAM. 5/PUU-V/2007). the Free Aceh Movement (Braithwaite. that non-Acehnese corporations will benefit more from the reconstruction than the Acehnese people (2007:131). It holds regular elections. 2008:248). 2010:13). After 1998. 2007:112). During this period the GAM established its own parallel government (ibid. as well as governors. It took the tsunami in December 2004 to force the different parties to come together again. also regional elites enjoy considerable autonomy in their decision-making. and local parliaments. Aditjondro for example points out that the fear exists. 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. the Law 16/2006 introduced an independent candidate for governor election. violence continued in Aceh with specific conflicts centered on land disputes. This led to the Helsinki Peace Agreement. It is this political class that threatens the functioning of the rule of law the most. which gave Aceh more autonomy and considerable control over its natural resources. 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. Aceh The political context in Aceh differs considerably from the rest of Indonesia. The neoliberal idea that less state would lead to better governance and more democracy is therefore a fiction.266 Indonesia is widely viewed as a success story of democratization.263 Indonesia is now categorized as a “free” society by Freedom House. This practice was followed by all regions in Indonesia (based on the Judicial Court decree No. mayors. Still. 2010:21). Operational space for NGOs has indeed increased in these years. 265 In 2006 elections were held and a former GAM member won the post of governor (Aditjondro. in addition to internal struggles in the GAM leadership about the reintegration fund (Freedom House 2009).org/en/indicators/161. 265 Our interpreter in Banda Aceh worked one year with the AMM in 2005-2006. The Human Development Report 2009 rates Indonesia at a Gini-index of 39. Amsterdam 105 . Peace negotiations mediated by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue between 2000 and 2003 failed. according to Schulte Nordholt (2008:251). The Congress and the president are elected. 2010:9). 1 March 2010.4.undp. 2010:11). In 2006 Indonesia ratified the International Covenant on Economic. Reconstruction of Aceh after the tsunami and the building of a new democracy are important challenges which are not without criticisms. and construction projects. This does not mean though that there is good democratic control over the governmental institutions.html In Aceh. instead of the Reformasi and a punishment of the human rights violations committed by the military. especially in comparison to the limited space that was available during 263 264 http://hdrstats.264 Electoral democracy is functioning well. Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 266 Interview with author. 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. The Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) was constituted to oversee the implementation of the various provisions of the Helsinki Accords (ibid. unemployment.democratic control. These criticisms were also voiced by ICCO partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan.
not only NGOs are important social organizations. Pioneers in this field were LBH for legal aid and Walhi. 2002). As in Indonesia the Western conceptualization of civil society is viewed as an independent force opposing the state. This is reflected in the tendency by NGOs to avoid the term NGO. Alternatively. There is also suspicion of the concept of ‘civil society’ as being a Western idea. The CSI Index emphasizes the high level of trust that Indonesians have in religious social organizations (like NU. Nomura equally states that the term LSM was chosen to emphasize the collaborative relationship with the government (2007:501). 106 . see also CSI Index. but later also social advocacy emerged. according to Nyman. the first environmental organization (and ICCO partner in Aceh). Religious organizations play an important role in society. 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). 2006:9).. we have seen how military influence. Not only quantitatively but also qualitatively the NGO sector changed. Indonesia thus offers important insights for our inquiry in the room of manoeuvre that NGOs have and the restrictions that they still experience. the military traditionally opposed the term as it could imply civilian control over the military. most Indonesian analysts prefer a less confrontational concept. according to Nyman. In the 90s attention to employment conflicts and human rights emerged (Schulte Nordholt. We specifically ask how those restrictions are linked to the fact that whereas Indonesia has developed a formal democracy. “government bureaucrats *. and other religious organisations) (2006:8). NGOs used to focus on development. In the next section we describe the history and characteristics of Indonesian civil society. 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).267 In Indonesia. The two biggest Islamic organizations play a role in politics and in social life: Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah (Schulte Nordholt. 2006:29). Early on. 2006:30ev. the majority of scholars emphasize that the concept of ‘civil society’ is entirely new. as well as a lot of debate about the meaning of the concept for Indonesian reality (Nyman. 2008:37). and elite competition because of decentralization are important elements. The relation between civil society and the state is one of the main issues in the debate about the meaning of civil society.] 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..the Suharto era. 2008:40). Muhammadiyah. church organisations. and that there still is a lack of awareness about it. as Baron puts it. widespread corruption. In this regard it is important that. 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. In this section. 2008:37 & CSI 267 The Philippines seem to be an important exception to this tendency. This is supposed to be a general tendency in East and Southeast Asia where. 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.
which may be related to the change in donor priorities to involve the government in democracy assistance programs (Aspinall 2010). aiming for a close involvement of civil society (2006:44). Aspinall. there was only one labour union during Suharto. NGO representatives told us that those NGOs that specifically put “LSM” in front of their name are most likely not to be authentic NGOs. 2006:208). 2006:19). such as the GONGO (government organized NGOs). This is related to a variety of acronyms that have emerged to qualify different kinds of NGOs. 2006:19).” Red-plate refers to car number plates which belong to the government. for example. 2008:38).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.) Mencuri uang rakyat16 kajian korupsi di Indonesia Jakarta: Aksara Foundation 269 They talk about “non-membership-based CSOs” such as NGOs.g.(eds. This does not stroke with the majority of reports we received from NGOs or Nyman’s writings (e. and DNGDO (domestic nongovernmental development Organizations). by his successor Wahid. They tend to emphasize cooperation with the government. Aspinall identifies some of the difficulties 268 Tim Lindsey. The CSI Index reports that the relations between civil society and government are considered to be more confrontational than cooperative. Dongo (donor organized NGOs). still the LSM-label can be very attractive for some actors. After 1998 one could witness a multiplication of NGOs. 107 . and professional organizations) which receive their funding mostly from membership fees and business activities (2006:38). for example” (CSI Index. Red-plate NGOs are those NGOs that are founded by the government and serve to gain access to donor money. 2010:14). The CSI Index contrasts NGOs269 in this regard with mass-based/ membership organizations (such as religious organisations. Yellow-plate NGOs are not ‘really’ NGOs either (claim the NGO leaders we have spoken with). Mencari paradigma baru. Several NGO leaders explained to me that many Indonesian NGOs are considered “red-plate” or “yellow-plate. labour unions. Nyman notes that president Habibie in 1998 established a civil society committee. state-civil society relations continue to be marked by mutual suspicion and confrontation. As an indication of the positive expectations regarding civil society. NGOs are mushrooming in Indonesia since 1998 and in Aceh especially since the tsunami. 2006:38. as they are founded by corporations as part of an attempt to engage in window-dressing or receive funding. cooperatives. 2007:126/130). now there are 40 at the national level and more at the regional level. A major current issue for NGOs is their own sustainability. Indeed. 2006:55). however. Many NGO staff members perceived these NGOs as abusing the NGO-label. “Although the era of reform has been in swing for the past eight years. community development and civic/watchdog organisations. NGO representatives tend to be young university-educated people for whom advocacy has become a profession (Aditjondro. There has also been an emergence of many newspapers and magazines (CSI Index. This committee was repealed. working in the advocacy sector. 2002. et al.’ in: Hamid Basyaib. Nomura notes that a new trend in the post-Suharto era is the emergence of ‘research-advocacy’ NGOs (2007:509). service delivery.Index. with little in the way of seeking compromise through lobbying and negotiation. ‘buku 4. They are painfully dependent on foreign funding (CSI Index. Bingo (business and industry NGOs). The NGO community is dominated by the politically conscious middle class (Schulte Nordholt.
In general. (2) criminalization. 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. and to adopt the Jakarta Commitment moving forward with the implementation of this roadmap. In this section. As Indonesia has become a success story of democratization. (3) administrative measures. the major anticorruption NGO. donors are retreating from Indonesia. such as fundamentalist Islamic groups in society or particular individuals in government positions. The period just after 1998 is usually referred to as the period in which most space was available.antarantt. In 2003. These observations were echoed in our interviews with NGO representatives. we have described the development and main features of Indonesian civil society and the place of NGOs therein. to adopt the principles of aid effectiveness as articulated in the Paris Declaration as adapted to Indonesia's country context. and emphasis is now placed upon governance and strengthening of government institutions instead of the heavy focus on civil society organizations and advocacy. We discuss (1) repression and intimidation. various reports on human rights signal a trend of shrinking space. He writes that many NGOs told similar stories and we also received similar complaints. has lost half of its income during the past 3-4 years (2010:13). no taxdeductability for donations to a non-profit organization. and NGOs emphasize the unique opportunities they view with respect to collaboration with the government. available at http://www. 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. such as the lack of a philantropical tradition. (5) pressure on spaces of dialogue. NGO dependence on donors is becoming a major issue as donors are shifting their priorities and less funding is available for civil society. 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. but this space is generally also described as chaotic.” a set of principles emphasizing country ownership over development programs. Space is more regulated and structured now than just after the 1998 regime change. over the past five years NGOs in Jakarta generally do not report any significant changes.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 .”270 Aspinall indicates that fear exists that this emphasis on partnership with the government will stifle critical voices. In addition. and a small middle class (2010:14). Restrictive policies and actions In the previous section. This is all in the spirit of the “Jakarta Commitment.271 Apart from changed donor priorities. HRW signals a trend in “regressive policies aimed at curtailing political dissent in 270 The Jakarta Commitment.for NGOs to raise money within Indonesia. all NGOs that we have spoken with assessed their space to have increased dramatically compared to the Suharto era. we turn to the policies and actions that we have identified as restricting the space that NGOs have. Aspinall reports that for example ICW.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/jakartacommitment-121208. (4) stigmatization. In contradiction to this general assessment by the NGO representatives that were interviewed for this study.
bisexual and transgender people. opinion. More recently. Jakarta 109 . Thus. even though no investigations or arrests occurred. the restrictions still seem minor in comparison to the Suharto regime which is still fresh in everyone’s memory. 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. LGBT. as well as keep an eye on potential negative developments in the future. and assembly because of “*a+llegations of criminal defamation against human rights activists. Interview with author. 1 April 2010. We have identified three major areas of NGO-work where operational space is at times severely restricted: firstly. Threats are quite common and various NGO staff members reported that they receive intimidating phone calls. the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) observes an increasing threat to the freedom of expression. This is particularly so because despite the confidence in the Indonesian democracy expressed by donors and the Indonesian government. and NGOs who work on very sensitive issues such as LGBT. Threats are usually received by phone. police violence against protesters and criminal charges of "disobedience" (2009:2). the threats stopped.Indonesia” (HRW. Imparsial experienced public demonstrations in front of their office. and the inaction on the part of the government to punish perpetrators of such violence. and even if they are affected. sensitive issues in relation to religion: gender. AHRC emphasizes the difference with the acceptance of dissent a couple of years ago (2009:10). Former ICCO-partner Imparsial is part of a network of 50 HRD-organizations and reported that all of these organizations receive threats. Jakarta 274 Interview with author. issues or rights.273 ICCO-partner KontraS reported that their office was destroyed in such a public demonstration. In 2003. These threats can even become quite frequent.274 NGOs in the urban areas most affected by threats. 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. are the very vocal human rights NGO (such as Imparsial and Kontras). accountability: corruption and human rights violations. Most of our interlocutors reported that these threats are very rarely followed up by actual physical attacks. LBH Aceh reported in one instance that by taking threats to the police. His death exemplifies both the real lethal threat to activists. not all NGOs are directly affected by these measures.272 and pluralism. land conflicts. 2010:1). The apparent contradiction should probably be explained by the fact that whereas restrictive measures are indeed increasing. Courts are 272 273 LGBT is an acronym that stands for lesbian. 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. 31 March 2010. and thirdly. Police inaction in the investigation of threats is common. gay. such as the murder in 2004 of human rights activist Munir. Many NGOs reported to have filed complaints about threats with the police. whereas NGOs generally enjoy ample operational space to do their work. either by SMS or by post. 2003:2). The interaction between restrictive actions and policies in these areas will be explored in the next section “On-the-job trouble.” Repression and intimidation It is useful to make a distinction between intimidating threats on the one hand and actual physical violence on the other hand. the director of then ICCO-partner IMPARSIAL. secondly. Notable exceptions exist.
ece/Jakarta_erkent_martelen_Papua_s%2C_straft_militairen 280 Interview with author.highly ineffective in Indonesia.youtube. Violence also occurs in the context of land 275 276 Interviews with author. 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). respectively 6 and 7 April 2010. Indonesia is under the obligation to criminalize it. torture is not criminalized in Indonesia. was reportedly beaten by the police (RFK. most of which is conducted to intimidate suspected independence activists. This system has not changed in the Reformasi period. most NGOs argue that the threats don’t have much impact on their work. who tried to photograph a police attack on demonstrators gathered near Jayapura for West Papua’s Independency day. This occurred for example in the cases of ICCO-partners Flower Aceh and YRBI in Aceh. 279 The experiences of urban NGOs can be quite different from what communities suffer in distant regions. however. labor activists. Amsterdam 110 .280 Activists in rural areas are more likely to suffer from actual violence.276 Several NGOs mentioned that they do not receive threats.277 Freedom House similarly reports of physical attacks by “thugs” against human rights groups who are critical of military abuses. in the case of human rights violations. the police. or significantly altered the way an NGO operates. enforced disappearance. there might be a specific unwillingness to prosecute. While this is a general problem. Even though many NGOs have reported to receive threats. threats. For example. summary and arbitrary execution. the NGO representative of ICCO-partner Tikar Pandan reported that the military was driving around his office. Community leaders (of GROs) are more frequently threatened than professional NGOs in urban areas. thus avoiding those risks (this will be further discussed below in “responses”). (In the Philippines. 278 Surprisingly. the UN Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders (HRD) notes that HRD can suffer from “extrajudicial. 1 March 2010. Banda Aceh 277 The spokesperson from Demos told that businessmen sometimes contract preman. For example ICCO-partner Gerak Aceh and LBH (Legal Aid) Aceh argue that they have never dropped a case because of threats. Some NGOs mentioned the role of “preman” in local land issues but also in relation to labour issues. torture and ill-treatment” (UN Special Representative. because they consciously operate carefully without provoking anyone. threats have caused an NGO to leave an area. and killings are widespread in Indonesian society. In general.278 In October 2010.” In 2004. respectively 5 and 6 April 2010. specifically in conflict-ridden and militarized areas such as Papua. video images were released that showed the torture of Papuans by the Indonesian military. and peasants involved in land disputes (2006). the AHRC (2009:3) reports about West Papua that there is “on-going military violence. 2008:44 and 110). 279 http://www. 2009:3). 2007:17). injuries.nrc. as it has ratified the Convention against Torture in October 1998 (AHRC. As a background to the use of threats and violence it is important to know that the New Order was characterized by “premanism. this was only criminalized in November 2009). a human rights worker for ELSAM. politicians. Indicating the severity of this violence.nl/buitenland/article2634683. and criminal organizations. As an example of experienced intimidation. Violence is a method commonly used by the military.” A “preman” is a small criminal who in exchange for a payment resolves the dirty business of political leaders (Schulte Nordholt. 2004:5). Banda Aceh Interviews with author.275 In other instances.com/watch?v=hNSj5av8ip4 and http://www.
were attacked by Laskar Islam Defenders (LPI). She described it as “demoralizing.com/2010/04/02/lgbt-activism-under-attack-in-surabaya-indonesia/. Various NGOs have made an alliance in the petition for judicial review of a law on blasphemy (PNPS Act 1/1965). Equivalent Institute. most activists we spoke with were more worried about the impact of non-state actors. Other incidents occurred in the course of legal proceedings.html 284 Desantara.org/refworld/docid/484f85702c. In interviews. 10 June 2008. and had to be rushed to the hospital. dated June 1. No physical violence occurred but the psychological threat was felt.” Such an attack occurred for example during a peaceful protest in the context of the birth of Pancasila281. human rights advocates reported of intimidation and harassment shortly after the proceedings in the Constitutional Court. 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. Hizbut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).com/Religious-Dispute-Is-Longing-to-be-Solved-focus3700. Indicating the absence of adequate state response. and the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) and Demos 285 http://iglhrc. 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. 2008 at the National Monument (Monas) in Jakarta. HTI and FUI. 111 . 2007:17).html [accessed 24 May 2010] 283 http://www. 2010. Whereas the police and the military are at times involved in cases of physical violence. Human Rights Watch. the police cancelled an LGBT conference in Surabaya due to pressure of Islamist fundamentalist groups. FBR (Forum Betawi Rempug). March 24.vhrmedia. PBHI. on Wednesday. available at: http://www.284 Here we can observe that the protection of space can become a new source of contention.disputes. which consists of a number of NGO activists. Various NGO representatives we spoke with reported that physical harassment generally occurs when the police remove peasants or arrests them.unhcr.282 The National Alliance for Freedom of Religion and Beliefs (AKBB). On the same day.wordpress. This incident was st also related in an interview with the author on March 31 in Jakarta with one of the activists. Elsam. For a report on the incident and its aftermath. and the Muslims Forum (FUI). see for example. Imparsial. NGO representatives reported that there are never criminal cases against policemen. such as preman. such as FPI (Islamic Defenders Front).” Many staff 281 282 Pancasila is the state ideology (Nyman 2006:36). but also importantly some mass organizations. Indonesia: Reverse Ban on Ahmadiyah Sect. when illegitimate violence against peasants occurs. In one violent incident in 2005. 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. which contained members of the FPI. at the most there are ‘administrative’ cases leading for example to a suspension. She was present during that conference in Surabaya. Monica Tanuhandaru.285 An interviewee who was present at the site reported that a group of fundamentalists was banging on the outside of the conference hall. project coordinator with the IOM. Some activists were wounded. 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). 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.
A more significant hurdle than counter terrorism measures are various provisions from the Indonesian Penal Code that are used against NGO staff. 2006:5-6). 2009:18). 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. Their anti-terrorism activities mainly targeting Muslims have been fuelling communal sentiments and potentially exacerbated the conflicts (Aditjondro. even though the murder of Munir is a forceful reminder that this violence is not impossible. 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. but the case is still on-going. Intimidating threats are common for all NGO representatives that work in one of the areas identified as sensitive. 2003). or damage or destruction to strategic vital installations or public or international facilities. In one notable exception. such as the martial law that gave the military control over governance in Aceh.” Actual violence is not commonly experienced by representatives of professional NGOs. the law on criminal defamation that is still on the books is used frequently against activists during recent years (AHRC. 2007:118. Some concern existed that counter terrorism efforts might have counterproductive effects for NGO activists as well. 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. see also ICG. The charge of criminal defamation is the consequence of a complaint by a third person to the police. however. 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. Currently. Poso. More important in the current Indonesian context. 112 . there have been hardly any problems for NGO members with this legislation or with other counter terrorism measures. demand justice for past human rights violations. such as preman. Grassroots community leaders are much more likely to experience actual violence in confrontation with the police. until they have been repealed in 2006 and judged unconstitutional in 2007 respectively (UN Special Representative. 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. or peasants who claim lands.286 To date however. The activists were released. 2007:10). usually someone who has been identified by the NGO as engaged in corruption or responsible 286 Further criticisms have been voiced about the Special Anti-Terror Detachment of the Police Headquarters which consists of 400 members and was trained by the CIA and FBI.” This means that also material destruction without loss of lives can be categorized as terrorism. creating the possibility that the law is used against a wide variety of protest actions. military or non-state actors. The operational space of NGOs is of course affected by general repressive measures.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. The provisions on “insulting the president” and “hate sowing” were used quite frequently in the past (see for example HRW. on May 28th (Imparsial. For example. 2009:32). religious fundamentalists or unknown opponents.
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.288 Various professional NGOS. Few defamation cases. Whereas they had not engaged in violence.for past human rights abuses. 1 September 2008.287 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. In Indonesia. Gerak Aceh and Imparsial. Often the organizations receive information that they will be charged with criminal defamation. 2008:2). HRW. 2007. 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. AI. such as ICCO partners KontraS. and NGOs had to give insight in their budgets and justify the source of their 287 Interview with author. they were charged with “spreading hatred” because in the leaflet they printed a summary of the case brief in which they presented the chronology of the land-issue and the demands of the farmers. Only in a small number of cases there is actually a trial. Apart from the use of criminal charges.ahrchk. 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. The operational space of NGOs is hardly affected by general measures such as antiterrorism laws. see also AHRC. the Bumi Flora Corporation in East Aceh. it was argued that being high GAM officials they shared responsibility for the terrorist acts committed by the GAM (ICG. Banda Aceh. NGOs and non-violent activists can face criminal charges because of an alleged relation with separatist activities. Eight members of LBH were convicted to a conditional sentence. as well as LBH Aceh and ICW. 2006:4). Restrictive administrative measures Baron argues that in general in Asia the laws to regulate the NGO-sector are driven by national security concerns (2002). 2009:10. Particularly troubling were the arrest and convictions of five GAM-negotiators after the negotiations about Aceh failed. at the end of the 80s. such as theft and illegal entrance of a plantation. In Papua. receiving sentences of 20 years in prison for actions such as the raising of the Papuan national flag (AHRC. 113 . 6 April 2010.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. 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. are actually brought to court or lead to a conviction. The specific use of criminal offenses such as ‘criminal defamation’ against accountability advocates restricts NGOs in their operations.” In areas where separatist groups are active. When they assisted by providing the leaflet for a rally that the farmers were organizing. the government started to control the NGO sector. activists have been charged with subversion and treason. GRO leaders in land disputes often face criminal charges. LBH Aceh (Legal Aid Aceh) was assisting farmers in a lawsuit against a palm oil plantation.http://www. Various NGOs we spoke with mentioned that their staff faces charges against them for criminal defamation or have been threatened with such charges. In 2007.net/ua/mainfile. 2009:8-9). but nothing happens as the police start investigations but do not pursue them. however. GRO leaders in Papua have faced charges of sedition and rebellion. and only in two cases were there convictions (Gerak Aceh and LBH).
generally there is tax exemption for NGOs. government. This indeed is also the case in Indonesia. 2008:5). In the Law on Tax Income. receives assistance from foreign parties without Government’s approval. 291 Article 14 Law No. registration of NGOs is compulsory. PSHK is more worried because the law is still on the books and therefore can be used if that is deemed necessary. financial management (including the responsibility towards beneficiaries. PSHK writes that “*t+here is actually nothing new in the content of this regulation.” It is not clear though whether this conclusion is entirely correct. Further. however to obtain tax-deductability is more complicated and restrictive (2002). in Indonesia. This law gives incentives in the form of Tax Exemption and Tax Deduction for activities in the non-profit sectors. It is also possible to operate without any registration (CSI Index. enabling the government to dissolve an NGO when it “conducts any activities that disrupt security and public order. donations and or grants received or obtained by non-profit bodies or agencies in the field of education and/or research and development. gender equality. anti violence. 2008:14-15). 2008:37). 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.’ 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.290 Two laws create the legal framework for NGOs: a 1985 law on ‘associations’ and a 2004 law on ‘foundations. As Baron points out.).291 This law has very strict provisions. In 2008 a law on income tax was enacted (PSHK 2008:8). and criteria for registration contain ideological elements and adherence to a subjective code of morality that appear to be unjustified and intrusive. 114 .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). Donations for NGOs are generally not tax deductible.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. 290 This confusion is related to the distinction between tax exemption and the possibility of obtaining taxdeductability for donations. 2006:4950). Only some donations such as for national disasters are considered tax deductible. NGOs have set up mechanisms of self-regulation. 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). transparency.’ NGOs can thus obtain legal status as an association (membership-based) or a foundation (nonmembership based).293 During Suharto most NGOs registered as ‘foundations’ (yayasan) because of the potential repression faced by ‘associations. other government institutions. CIVICUS reports that in 2002.” There is still an obligation to seek government’s approval before receiving assistance from foreign parties. among NGOs and the general public” (ibid. Just like in other countries. several NGOs established an umbrella organization and a code of ethics which was signed by 252 NGOs (CSI Index. some NGOs are anticipating trouble and 289 “The code of ethics mainly governs the issues related to the integrity. CO must be registered with the Department of Home Affairs. and donor institutions). The law also places undue restrictions on international funding to NGOs.” 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. 2006:35).income (Schulte Nordholt. Tax Exemption is given to surplus money. 8 Year 1985 on Community Organizations 292 This law also addresses “assistance and receiving foreign funding” (PSHK. accountability. PSHK writes that “*i+n order to be able to receive assistance from foreign parties. independence. as registration for NGOs is not compulsory. NGOs as ‘associations’ are still governed by a law which stems from 1985. Since the law on foundations has been enacted in 2004 (PSHK. 2008:9).
299 Interview with author. but since January 2010 they have failed to obtain the permit at all. 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). In addition. 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. ensuring that the event is not dangerous for the Islam. PBI reported that the “western” label was used against them frequently in this context. They have experienced delays in permits before. 297 Uncertainty about their legal status is currently identified as one of the major challenges.296 They changed their legal status and became a national foundation (instead of an international organization). and you don’t need a permit. as they reported severe problems regarding their travel permits in Papua and visa for their volunteers. in Indonesia you are free to organize demonstrations.’294 No one seems to know whether that is indeed a good decision. but fear exists that the government may suddenly use administrative laws to restrict NGOs. Jakarta. Amsterdam 115 . Jakarta 297 From the PBI Evaluation 2008:25-26 298 See Reuters. It is not clear whether this actually solved their problems or just created other problems. Some NGOs in Aceh.com/article/idUSJAK434532. money-laundering (as many foundations were founded by Suharto and his family to function as money laundering covers). 22 April 2009 http://www. they need permission from the Islamic scholars. In April 2009 the Indonesian government denied the ICRC access to Papua. However.therefore changing their status from a ‘foundation’ into an ‘association. At this moment PBI is one of the few international organizations still present in Papua. HRW 2010 reports that not only the ICRC field office in Papua but also in Banda Aceh had to close. reported that they do face restrictions on public activities. Government officials would insinuate that PBI would abuse its access to help separatists and expose the government in international publications.299 LBH Aceh reported that often when the police 294 295 For example ICW changed its legal status. These analysts emphasize that the possibilities for restriction have not been used against bona fide NGOs. 30 March 2010. Banda Aceh 296 Interview with author. March/April 2010. you do need to notify the police._CH_.295 The goal of the new law was to make those abusive foundations responsible and accountable to the public. Interviews with author. 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. other NGO representatives argue that the new 2004 law is good and supposed to counter corruption. Many international NGOs experience restrictions when they want to work in Papua. along with a suspicion that their work in Papua would not be what they were saying it is. but it was never entirely impossible. however. 1 March 2010. Administrative regulations of demonstrations and public activities In general.reuters. 2008:12). particularly with respect to their field office is in Papua.2400. Whereas some NGOs have changed their status to ‘association’ because they perceived the new law on foundations as a potential threat. Different government employees asked them many times to submit information and letters in order to obtain the necessary permit. and the channelling of charity money to terrorist purposes.
particularly NGOs. 6 April 2010. as this easily can and sometimes is used against them with the argument that they are executing a hidden foreign agenda. and NGOs that work closely with Muslim communities. 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. especially NGOs. Due to differences in values. the administrative framework does not seem to cause NGOs any problems. LBH reported that sometimes the police request to be present during public meetings. are also frequently branded as tools of foreign propaganda. NGO leaders reported this stigma. it can perhaps be understood why civil society.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. including the people and government. Despite fears to the contrary. they claim that the demonstration or meeting was not properly notified with the police. Indonesian people in general are not familiar with these organizations and as a result. suspicion in Indonesia is directed towards the NGO-sector as a whole. have for a long time now been built up on foreign aid.want to disturb a rally or a meeting.” Most NGOs we interviewed claimed that this general suspicion does not affect them much. from NGOs for organizing workshops and seminars. In addition. both of which are potentially restrictive. CSI Index (2006:9) also reported the general stigmatization of the NGO sector as a whole: “Civil society. 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. As a result of the stigma NGOs can get questions where their money comes from or communities can refuse to work with the NGO. even though at least in case of the 2004 law the reasons for those potential restrictions are genuine. 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. For example. and the urban nature of NGOs and trade unions. ICCO partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan reported that they are careful not to emphasize that they receive foreign funding. the police reportedly conduct an investigation to know the content of the meeting” (2007:23). ICCO partner Do Karim reported that also the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘secular’ have a negative connotation in Aceh. programs related to pluralism. Without exception. which created problems for their operations in Papua. When permission is not sought. together with statutes. but the ‘western’ stigma does affect those NGOs that work on religious issues. Therefore. 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. NGOs in Aceh sometimes are restricted in their ability to organize public meetings. Only one NGO reported actual problems because of their legal status. public trust in them is low. to the extent that their values and goals are inappropriate to their domestic base. They are supposed to be western puppets. This labeling is attributed mostly to the military and some government officials. For example. Interview with author. Stigmatization In a striking difference with the open and welcoming attitude towards the NGO-sector in the Philippines. but also importantly to religious fundamentalists who for example claim that NGOs are related to Satan. Banda Aceh 116 . which are known as the pioneers of reform and democracy.
” 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. people suspected of relations to the GAM and land rights activists have been found to be labelled as terrorists. Amsterdam Law No 27/1999 signed by President Habibie on 19 May 1999. They all face the negative label of executing a ‘western’ agenda. 303 Agrarian reform means three things: (1) land reform.activities they do not use the ICCO logo. human rights defenders have been stigmatized as insufficiently nationalist. for example from China.302 Also pro-labour activists suffer from the communist stigma as well as advocates of land reform. KPA reported that as a way to counter this stigma they decided to talk about “agrarian reform” instead. not publicizing their logo. 2010 in Jakarta 117 . Also. In one specific case the Head of State Intelligence Agency publicly classified human rights organizations Imparsial. still in force. 2007). The ‘communist’ label is another stigma still used today against various activists (Aditjondro. They asked for revision of the statement. NGOs and GROs face the risk to be labelled as sympathizers of separatists. a low profile of western donors. which has serious consequences for their space.303 In the (former) conflict areas of Aceh and Papua. there are specific instances where NGOs suffer from negative labels because of their activities. AI. this puts other NGOs in a difficult spot. to return lands to communities that were evicted by Suharto often without compensation. AHRC (2009:12) reports that there may have been deliberate stigmatization of Papua activists by staging fake “resistance attacks.” The Front relied upon a new law issued by Habibie which forbids any activity to disseminate communism (2007:119). For some NGOs this label seriously restricts their operational space. and the changing of names of their programs. 301 302 Interview with author. Stigmatization is an issue for almost all Indonesian NGOs. For example. 2008:2). KontraS and Elsam as “radical. the affected NGOs emphasize a good communication strategy. (2) market reform to change the cheaper incoming products. 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). there is (was) the specific risk for NGOs to be associated with the rebels. She views this stigma as a deliberate attempt to undermine the credibility of these allegations of abuse. during martial law in Aceh.” When one NGO is accused of sympathies for rebels. 1 March 2010. Imparsial filed a civil case against this military officer. but lost this case in the lower court and appeal. there is the specific danger for activists to be labelled as “separatists. Apart from this general stigma against the NGO-sector as such. In Papua. PBI that works in Papua reported of the difficulty to on the one hand work with local NGOs in Papua and defend their activities in the face of these stigmas and on the other hand maintain a neutral position vis-à-vis the government in order not to be refused access to Papua. In Papua.” The UN Special Representative reports that these organizations were accused of receiving foreign aid and assisting separatist movements (2007:17). now the case is pending before the Supreme Court. (3) access reform to seeds and fertilizers. 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. Interview of author on April 8.301 Whereas the unaffected NGOs claim not to do anything about the negative label.
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. spaces of dialogue can fail to be used adequately as NGOs don’t manage to sustain their institutional capacity and attract good leaders. the government itself asks explicitly for assistance. it turns out to be only a “formal” consultation. In another example. Nyman similarly notes that both Indonesian scholars and activists “stress the need for increasing cooperation between the state and civil society” (2006:208). They were told that their activities were negative for the investors.” In this section. they were doing the work that the government should do. Secondly. Other mechanisms threaten the institutional capacity of NGOs. For example. 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. We also identify three limitations on the spaces of dialogue that have opened up. however. that by doing this. advisors from the governor approached them to stop demonstrations against a cement factory.” says the HuMA representative. everything became more complicated. “With the transition. This is also recognized by Aspinall (2010). because sometimes consultation with civil society actors is only done because of a requirement by a multilateral donor like the World Bank. They participate for example in the preparation of laws. and “if you continue your work. particularly NGOs working with land rights and anticorruption. have reported efforts of their opponents to negotiate and offer bribes. sometimes civil society actors are still excluded from decision-making. In some instances. 305 ICCO-partners such as AMAN and HuMA cooperate actively with the government. spaces of dialogue can be abused when counterparts of NGOs use violence or bribes. in the working group on REDD304 there is no representation of civil society. For example. especially some of the NGOs in Jakarta. 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. Increased cooperation between donors and the government can effectively enable the government to decrease funding for critical NGOs. we discuss the possibilities of collaboration with the government. Firstly. now the GAM looks at NGOs with more suspicion and can perceive them as a threat. In one case. Despite this increased collaboration and participation. 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. 305 The CSI Index (2006:55) similarly reports about criticisms regarding aid that mining companies give to local NGOs at the company site.” they say. as ICCO-partner HuMA pointed out. Indeed. They take full advantage of the opportunities that are currently offered to NGOs and their leaders. NGOs reported that they felt they had a genuine influence because of this cooperation. 118 . but it’s very hard for us to do our basic work of collecting data and monitoring of corruption’ (2010:13). Thirdly. who cites an NGO representative complaining about donors: ‘Now they just come to us if they want a report. “They appreciate us.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. Various NGOs have expressed particular concern about the tactics used by companies to win communities over for their commercial enterprises. you are going to be arrested. spaces of dialogue can be transformed into ‘fake spaces’ as NGO contributions are received but not used. see Steni (2010).
308 Interview with author. NGOs point to the significant difference compared to the Suharto time. there is little money for accountability for past human rights abuses. 6 April 2010. donors are shifting their focus from NGOs to governance assistance and closely cooperating with the Indonesian government from the planning phase. because of their criticism of the US mining companies Freeport McMoRan and NewMont (2007:129). Banda Aceh 309 As an illustration of the restrictive influence donors can have.309 For example.” 119 . With a working group. but he emphasizes that at this point the collaboration in itself is more important than the future results. 2010). to silence his demands for action on the TRC.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. and that their input is having an 306 307 Interview with author. but the willingness to actually create the TRC is lacking. especially ones that might criticise the government. He feels that they were asked to draft the law just so the governor could say he was working on the TRC. so he knew that they were working on it. Aspinall (2010:17) writes that Walhi decided not to accept funds as they did not want “to be dictated to.307 But since they submitted the draft in November 2008 nothing has happened. It is clearly viewed as an opportunity that should be grabbed. He felt that at that point his cooperation was being used against him.306 As HuMA has its own source of funding it can operate independently from the government. Aditjondro describes that the Ford Foundation was involved in censoring environmentalist activists regarding US mining companies (2007:123). The HuMA spokesperson mentions. He describes also that two US ambassadors put pressure on USAID to cut funding to Walhi and Jatam (Anti Mining Advocacy Network). in Indonesia most NGOs report collaboration with the government and are thus far optimistic about the process. Jakarta For more information on this working group for the TRC see for example Braithwaite (2010:37). HuMA indicates that for example in their suggestions for a regulation. he drafted a law for the TRC. several parts were indeed adopted. 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. In this regard. the Elsam representative pointed out that whereas there is money available for the improvement of the law-making process.they offered in dialogues. When he asked for clarification about the delays regarding the TRC in a public meeting. 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. In one instance. because he had written the law himself. the spokesperson of the government replied that he should not ask about that. These shifts in priorities are especially noteworthy as these decisions are currently often made in close cooperation and consultation with the Indonesian government (Aspinall. 8 April 2010. As discussed above. on request by the governor. that they want to take this “government space” that is now offered. He thinks it is too soon to tell whether or not this collaboration indeed yields positive results. 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. 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).
we discussed the various restrictions that NGOs in Indonesia face in their work. (2) peasants and indigenous people (re-)claiming land. 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. Points of concern are the combination of negotiation. Above. NGO representatives reported great concern for their space in this regard. and (3) decreasing space for NGOs working on issues of gender. This leads to frustration regarding good community leaders who get a political post. thus decreasing the sustainable capacity of NGOs to be strong actors in spaces of dialogue. This analysis enables us to address for each of these working areas. optimism about the benefits of collaboration with the government far exceeds negative experiences regarding cooperation. In other instances. Whereas most human rights reports provide a broad overview of the various violations that citizens suffer. which seems especially prevalent with respect to NGOs who level accountability accusations and GRO leaders engaged in struggles regarding natural resources. 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. The quality of spaces of dialogue depends heavily on the strength and sustainability of NGOs as well as the capacities of their leaders. 2010). We look at (1) NGOs demanding accountability for corruption and past human rights violations. bribery and intimidation. we have identified three areas of claim-making in which the operational space of NGOs is under pressure. it is our aim to indicate how this context of limitations actually impacts the work that NGOs are doing. One NGO asserted that political parties like to recruit from well-known social movements. the actors that are responsible for the restrictions. NGOs observed that competing NGOs were receiving money from the local government in order to function as a broker with communities. corporations. 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. LGBT. we already indicated that NGO sustainability is a real issue in Indonesia due to donor dependency. On the job trouble In the previous section. In this section. NGO representatives expressed their concern because of the competition that NGOs founded by the government. 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. 120 . In this section we turn to those specific contexts in which NGOs those restrictions occur and come together to hamper NGOs in their work.effect on the nature of democracy assistance” (2010:8). and pluralism. In general. which resulted in his village losing all strength. but interviewees complained that these competing NGOs barricade the real issue instead of solving it. for example in a specific case in South Sumatra where a leader became senator.
Do Karim and Tikar Pandan rejected and claimed that they didn’t want money. bribes and intimidation Many times. the threats never materialized. However. supposedly in order to stop the demonstration. Accountability: corruption and human rights violations Keeping influential people accountable can be very dangerous as is illustrated by the case of “Tommy” Suharto. In 2001. The farmers were offered 2 ha per household. there was a bomb attack in Jakarta (2008:76). in South-west Aceh. He was convicted at first. Gerak went to the media and exposed the fact that the contractor did not finish his job. the judge that convicted Tommy Suharto for corruption and refused to accept a bribe of $200. But the contractor insisted on meeting in private at another location. However. the combination of negotiation and the offering of benefits to leaders. thus taking advantage of the farmers. In this context. ICCO-partner Permata argues that this practice.000 was killed in broad daylight in Jakarta (2008:108). He wanted to negotiate and offered a bribe. NGOs reported that corporations or other actors offered bribes to them or to GRO leaders. he could come to the office. is very frequent in land conflicts as well. For example in 2007 in Abdya. The company asked him to calm down the people and the company succeeded to acquire the lands. Permata. the BALCompany (palm oil plantation) approached the head of the district. totaling 120 hectares for the farmers. and the leader argued that thus the deal was beneficial to the farmers. but acquitted on appeal. For example.CASE BOX: combinations of negotiation. The staff member refused the bribe. the BRR offered them money. The Gerak staff told him that if he wanted to talk. argues that the company got more than 1. That is when they started receiving threats. however. The surrounding communities approached ICCO partner Gerak Aceh to discuss the issue. the contractor didn’t finish the bridge. as they were critical of the way in which the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR) spent its money after the tsunami. with the advantage of the guise of legality. He was tried in 1999 for a case of fraud. but demanded the BRR to be building houses instead of wasting it on a cooking competition. When ICCO-partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandanin Aceh organized a demonstration. whereas 60 households got 2 ha each. And the case regarding the bridge was sent to the police. Schulte Nordholt reports that every time that Tommy was interrogated or had to appear for a judge. This example indicates that the use of violence is not necessarily prevalent. because the elite have other means to acquire the land.000 hectares out of the deal. The contractor happened to be an ex-combatant of the GAM and approached one of the members of Gerak individually to talk with them. it is not surprising that NGO 121 . in 2007 in Aceh there was a bridge that was in the process of construction.
Papua. 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). 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). fairness. it is common that they receive offers of bribes or negotiation about the charges.311 The opponents of NGOs in this category tend to be military officials or government officials in the national or local government. such as social networks (Facebook. who is highly critical of the state efforts for genuine accountability. severely injured’ in: The Jakarta Post.312 It should be noted that the media.html [accessed 5 August 2010] 312 Interview with author. The continuing impunity in Indonesia for human rights violations committed in Aceh.com/news/2010/07/08/antigraft-activist-attacked-severely-injured. an anti-corruption activist got severely injured. the military court system is responsible. such as ICW and Gerak Aceh. Case Box: Accountability for human rights violations Many NGOs are involved in the struggle to create accountability for human rights violations. 310 311 Imparsial. 8 July 2010 http://www. East-Timor. When one of the employees of ICW was summoned for questioning on possible criminal defamation charges (HRW. both mainstream and alternative media. she wrote a letter to the police pointing out to them this priority rule. ‘Anti-graft activist attacked. and not on a counter-claim of criminal defamation. 2010:4). This judgment is echoed by Linton. sometimes combined with intimidation. as well as NGOs demanding accountability regarding past human rights violations (such as ICCO partner KontraS and Imparsial). but also this court is alleged to be “ineffective” (AHRC 2009:25). 29 March 2010. 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.thejakartapost. Anti-corruption NGOs Gerak Aceh and ICW have faced criminal charges of criminal defamation. including. and ICW Batus BT Saragih. is denounced by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International. and other areas. 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). Recently. Gerak Aceh.representatives310 frequently mentioned that when they demand accountability from high government officials or powerful economic actors. and/or criminal defamation charges. NGOs that work in this terrain of accountability are anti-corruption NGOs. KontraS. non-discrimination and individual or State responsibility” (2006:31). Twitter) are important in supporting NGO claims for government accountability. 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. such as justice. 2010. threats.” In cases of involvement of the military. Along similar lines. LBH. Jakarta 122 .
317 NGOs operating in the field of accountability can experience severe limitations on their space.Even though most activists reported that threats are not followed by action. land. As a founder of KontraS and the executive director of Imparsial. forests. military. and providing legal. Every hour 300 soccer fields of rain forest are lost in Indonesia. and exploitation. such as local elites who want access to government positions and exploitation permits319. whereas a Garuda pilot has been sentenced because of the murder315. the former head of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) was acquitted of the charges against him (Freedom House 2009). which according to him leads local government leaders to act as protectors of national and transnational business interests (2007:129). none of the NGOs in Aceh who work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) reported problems in this regard. and as of now the founding seems actually effectively stalled.org/indonesia/2009/09/16/usman_criminal_defamation/ 317 Interview of author with KontraS representative. Regional governments were for example allowed to earn their money by giving out licenses for logging until 100 hectares. informational. Land conflicts Indonesia has many valuable resources. such as minerals. material or psychological assistance. Aceh. 123 . 315 In 2008. and oil. In addition.314 A fact-finding mission carried out by a commission set up by the government suggested the involvement of the military. In this struggle they face various other actors. often local. and Papua. conflicts about ownership. 314 For a detailed overview of the campaigns Munir was involved in as well as details on the findings of the fact finding team and their investigation into his murder can be found in the publication of Imparsial on this matter (2007). distribution. These resources are subject to various. making claims. but then the case was not pursued. Also. http://www. and that neither threats nor charges of criminal defamation will impede them to do their work. 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. 73% of the 192 million hectares forest has been lost (ibid 2008:121). Hamid was summoned by the police. nothing has occurred regarding the available evidence. HRW Alert. Jakarta 318 Schulte Nordholt writes that the environment was one of the biggest victims of the decentralization process in Indonesia (2008:120). They offered as explanation that this might be because the TRC has not been founded yet. 313 As a noteworthy exception. the former chief of Indonesian airline Garuda was sentenced to one year in prison (Freedom House 2009) 316 HRW 2010. 31 March 2010. water. most importantly due to frequent threats and charges of criminal defamation. ‘Jakarta police launch criminal defamation investigation against rights activist’ 16 September 2009.313 Munir died on a flight from Jakarta to the Netherlands because of poisoning. In December 2008. This happened a lot.318 NGOs and community organizations (GROs) play important roles in representing and assisting communities. 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.316 The police however did not continue that case. 319 Aditjondro reports that local government has the authority to approve or reject any investment plan in their regions. 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. that people involved with the military were implicated in the murder. he received a sentence of 20 years in prison.ifex.
2010:4). the state as an important landowner. Some laws are quite good. in this section we focus exclusively on land disputes and the restrictions that communities face as they attempt to exert a land claim. In these beginning years of the Reformasi. In 1998 many communities started to reclaim those lands by entering the land and cultivating it. militias and private security services who provide ‘protection’ but often participate in the exploitation of resources320. For example. It is however useful to give some insight into the legal challenges that communities face as they exert land claims. 2009:10-11). The communities applying for recognition thus get often rejected. companies paid 20-25% of their profits to the military or local bureaucracy to ensure their security and access to their land. this state control has led to massive exploitation of the forest (Steni. Ardiansyah of the Institute for National and Democratic Studies reports of more than thousand cases of land grabbing during the Suharto era (2008). To solve this issue. preman. AMAN has started the process to draft a law on Indigenous People. KPA. criminal organizations. communities were able to do this in relative freedom. 2010:3). and the agency responsible for permits and concessions. 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). this structure has often disappeared over time. 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. 124 . Another problem with the legislation is that different laws are in conflict with each other. report that the problem in Indonesia is more complicated. A large proportion of lands have been designated as state forest and is thus automatically state-owned land. and national and international corporations with plans and projects to exploit resources. According to Steni. Whereas in the Philippines the laws are reported to be great but implementation is lacking. 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. it is made very hard to become recognized as an indigenous group. In practice. which the Suharto regime interpreted as having exclusive authority. over the rights of the indigenous people that may be living there (Steni. but can get very restricting in the details of the regulations. Customary land rights are a subject in themselves and have been addressed by various scholars such as McWilliam (2006). concessions. 320 During Suharto. legislator. NGOs involved in agrarian reform (HuMA. Due to limited space and because many of our interviewees were involved in land disputes. but because of interventions such as the removal off the lands. The regulation requires that the traditional structures of the community are still intact. and the exploitation of lands in Indonesia.police. 321 The experiences related in this section are very similar for claims regarding natural resources in general. whereas the general right of indigenous people to obtain their lands is laid down in laws. and AMAN).
The physical harassment and criminal cases have a clear effect on the mobilization of communities.322 Previously. plantation.323 They charge these communities with the specific provision from the relevant act which prohibits “illegal entry” to the forestry land. (Jakarta: Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi Masyarakat [ELSAM]. or mining area respectively. and corporations in these cases often involves a combination of threats. This changed in March 2007 and since then the police has intervened frequently. There is fear in communities. in another incident 12 people were shot (not fatal).326 For example. 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. 2005). as many members of ICCO partner PRAXIS are communities of peasants and peasant organizations. but they emphasize that the communities they work with suffer from these restrictions of their space. corporations still want access to the lands for which they had received the concessions. they won’t win their cases in a courtroom. the communities that do can face physical harassment and/ or arrest. He says almost apologizing “of course torture is also bad” but he wants to emphasize the unequal distribution of land which is the background for the violations. 324 For more information on human rights violations in land expropriation.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. but that they are never placing it in the context in which those violations occur. Police then remove the communities. and criminal cases. Facing communities who actively reclaim their lands through occupations. KPA tells that in 2009 three people were shot dead in Sumatra by the police. 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. PRAXIS was able to tell about the experiences of its members. bribes. In March 2007. 8 April 2010. 325 Interview with author. Jakarta 326 ICCO partners in Aceh YRBI.com/2007/05/24/hello-world/ 323 Many communities do not resist removal by the police. 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. 125 . Freedom House (2006) provides the following reference: Tutup Buku dengan "Transitional Justice"? Menutup Lembaran Hak Asasi Manusia 1999-2004 dan Membuka Lembaran Baru 2005. which is the reason they never file a case in court about the land they claim.wordpress. The interaction with police. reports the spokesperson of KPA. physical violence. military.Because the communities lack legal certificates. The KPA spokesperson says that it frustrates him that human rights organizations often are only interested in human rights violations like torture and violence. Many other instances related here were shared by non-ICCO partner KPA. and (non-ICCO partner) ELSAM in Jakarta shared some cases with me which involved these issues. which in the case of resistance by the community often leads to violence and arrests. Permata.325 Urban NGOs working on land issues generally don’t face physical harassment or criminalization. 41-52. the conflicts between communities and corporations had been defined as private conflicts in which the police could not intervene. job loss.
Local communities and GROs. Jakarta 126 . In order to address the community’s demand for access to the land. 328 This was confirmed by ELSAM.332 The operational space for urban professional NGOs working on land issues is quite free and broad. 7 April 2010. The spokesperson of KPA emphasizes that it is always the leaders of communities who are the subject of criminal prosecutions. government and scholars. Just as in the Philippines. ICCO partner Permata does not experience any physical harassment in the communities where they work. and KPA are members of this network. but also longer sentences have been applied. This is still in on-going procedure. violence. 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. Legal Aid Indonesia. It is therefore directly related to the criminalization of the actions of peasants who reclaim lands. can face a range of restrictions.329 In order to assist communities in agrarian reform. NGOs. 8 April 2010. 331 The incident and the work of the conflict desk were reported to me by the spokesperson of HuMA. Often. the Suharto government created a teak plantation on the land. AMAN. the conflict desk sent a letter to the local government.331 In response. Elsam reported to perceive an increase of criminal cases related to land disputes. however. often NGOs have a choice in their tactics and can assess their willingness to face the repressive consequences of more confrontational tactics. 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. most importantly threats. 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. a network of organizations has opened an “agrarian desk” where communities can come with their problems. Walhi. The violence stopped as a result of their intervention.327 Also criminal defamation has been used as a charge. Instead. HuMA. Banda Aceh 330 Conflict desks are created by National Forestry Council (DKN). which during Suharto was removed from the state forestry land where they had been cultivating for years. In practice. 332 Interview with author. so that the case will be closed. up to 8 years in prison. For example. the conflict desk continued its intervention by pushing the Ministry to issue a ministerial decree on the protected area. the cutting of trees is defined as “material destruction” leading to arrests of community leaders. It should be noted that not all organizations involved in land rights reported physical harassment.action on the part of the community. After 2005 their presence led to violence and the community was facing criminal charges.330 Violence occurred against members of a community. potentially accompanied by violence. 329 Interview with author. they observe the “old pattern” in which the government and corporations will negotiate with the community and offer benefits to community leaders. Additional details about the incident were contributed by local researcher Maria Louisa Khrisnanti looked this information up in the Kendari Post (a local newspaper). Another good practice is the “conflict desk” that for example dealt with a conflict in southeast Sulawesi. 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. and criminal charges. Members of DKN consist of communities.328 The sentences tend to be between 3 and 6 months. Using its ownership rights over all forestry land. After the fall of Suharto. In other instances. the community decided to enter the land and start cultivating it again (the teakwood had already been cut).
to show the different visions on Islam and they issued a journal on Islamic scholars. 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. Jakarta 337 Interview with author. RPuK. 336 Interview with author. and ICCO partners Flower Aceh. They emphasize that their activities are not only about the freedom of religion. a woman involved in the LGBT community. the definition that the MUI adopted of pluralism was that it meant that all religions are the same. pluralism. thus rejecting a truth claim. 334 See for example http://www. and PRAXIS.com/news/2010/02/10/religious-tv-jeopardizing-pluralism. the word “pluralism” has obtained a negative meaning after the fatwa by the Islamic council “MUI. the TIFA Foundation reported that the term human rights is viewed as a western concept and not used in trainings.thejakartapost. freedom of religion. and the changing of names of their programs as ways of dealing with this restriction. Do Karim. For example. For example. They sometimes are rejected by communities. so they also understand and can practice in their own households. a low profile of western donors. the changing of terminology generally has been sufficient to keep working where they are. LGBT and HIV/AIDS reported restrictions due to fundamentalist religious organizations and the religious beliefs held by communities. They also meet with the high Ulama to explain to them what TIFA does. (2) they tell about the history of Aceh in which there were many women leaders.Sensitive issues in relation to religion: gender.337 333 Aditjondro lists religious intolerance as one of the five major dangers to Indonesian social movement activists (2007:129). Religious intolerance is perceived to have increased over the past 5 years. The TIFA Foundation told that for good communication they rely on local partners who know how to communicate their programs. to explain that there is also in Islam a woman perspective.333 The affected NGOs emphasize a good communication strategy. they point out that they also focus on migrant workers. they show films in Arabic. The “western” label also affects some NGOs in Aceh who work on women’s issues in communities. 6 April 2010. Different NGOs in Jakarta and Aceh reported the challenges they face in this regard. Tikar Pandan.335 Thus far. LGBT. and pluralism NGOs working on issues of gender.336 ICCO partners Do Karim and Tikar Pandan use art and culture to open up space for discussion in this regard. Flower Aceh reports that they do the following against the negative stigma: (1) gender education from an Islam perspective: they invite a resource person on Islam issues. for example because the word “gender” is viewed as western. This definition makes that NGOs cannot use the term “pluralism” anymore without seeming blasphemous. They use a special Arabic word in their trainings. such as the TIFA Foundation.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. Banda Aceh 127 . 1 April 2010.”334 Also. and certainly not about conversion from Islam. For example. (3) they also invite men to the discussions.
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. even after a 128 . It was very risky. As they had come with their children. mainly from the men. wife and children. and as it is a very rural area. religion. 6 April 2010. 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. marginalization and rejection based on morality. 2007:18. based on report “Women Human Rights Defenders” by Komnas Perempuan). Banda Aceh). In one community in Northern Aceh. and they decided not to go back (interview with author. Women experience specific challenges as NGO representatives and community leaders. sexual harassment. who fear that the intervention of Flower Aceh will lead the women not to behave like women anymore.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. acknowledging that the community was close minded. they decided to leave. custom. even after the leader had permitted their access. Flower Aceh received the warning that “they should not ever talk about gender here. far from any roads. 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. 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. sexual terror. and exploitation of women’s identity” (UN Special Representative. culture. identifying ten specific vulnerabilities and types of violence that they face because they are women: “rape. There was panic in the Flower team. sexual stigmatization. corrosion of credibility based on marital status. They reported a trauma from this incident. belittlement of women’s capacity and issues. The resistance against gender comes from within the community. The community threatened that if they wouldn’t leave the area they would burn the car. The leader of the community could not give promises. a community forcefully resisted the entry of Flower Aceh. attack on women’s role as mother. NGOs often work in alliances to tackle these sensitive issues. At the end of 2008 in Greater Aceh. in cooperation with for example ICCO partner RPuK has written a report on “Women Human Rights Defenders” as well as guidelines for women. They have to work for acceptance in the community.” Specifically a traditional Islamic boarding school resisted. The community showed their traditional knives and asked Flower Aceh to leave the area. and family reputation. sexual abuse. The National Human Rights Commission.
It should be noted that since 2006 also other districts in Indonesia have enacted laws based on the Sharía (Freedom House. Demos342 and Imparsial. SP Aceh. HRW. Kontras Aceh. The governor thus far has refused to sign the law. and take legal actions. Banda Aceh in: http://www. Braithwaite. the Regional Government as well as local police officers did not do anything when and after the incidents occurred. After protests by Islamic groups. The representative of Flower Aceh believes this is a result of their lobby. 1/PNPS/ 1965 129 . footnote 5 and 23). Catholics and others. 2008:123.thejakartaglobe. Pusham Unsyiah. 2010:4). the vision expressed by Demos is “the realization of society and state that respects the values of justice. This law was aimed at monitoring and inquiring in to several alleged violations of human rights against members of the Ahmadiyah. LBH APIK Aceh. and divorce. 341 “In February and March 2006. Journalists and rights activists who criticize the law are easily stigmatized as anti-islamic” (AHRC. The adherents of Ahmadiyah also experienced acts of violence during the eviction” (Komnas Ham.338 This network was initiated by the Gender Working Group (GWG) and involves ICCO partners Tikar Pandan. 2009:14. 2009. 2009:14). ACSTF. They report to the public. Tikar Pandan.com/letters/your-letters-repeal-the-stoning-law-malaysia-misconceptions/330795 340 Lobbies and legislative efforts from progressive and conservative groups continue to confront each other. 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. a Women Solidarity group (SP) and several others. such as advocating a judicial review of the law on blasphemy. Sri Ratu Safiatuddin Foundation. 343 Law No. there was a violent incident in which Ahmadiyah adherents (religious group) were evicted from their houses. Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) were evicted by the local community. Unfortunately.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.rape (AHRC. they were accused of being “out of Islam. inheritance. SeIA. With this autonomy it has become possible to enact laws. 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. there is a pro-pluralism coalition constituted by Muslims. 11/2006) dictates that a raped women find four witnesses to her attack or face death by stoning for adultery. 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.” When the lobby in the legislative failed. This incidents [sic] had caused 141 persons had to fled their homes. Protests by conservative Islamic groups have also limited progressive legislative efforts. HRW. Radio Suara Perempuan. The AHRC reports that the “proposed provincial legislation (Law No. This indicates that the challenge here goes beyond the specific groups that commit the violent acts. 339 The civil society network of those who care about Islamic law: NGO Coalition HAM. 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. Flower Aceh. GWG. the Ahmadiyah adherents in Central Lombok. Sikma. *…+ The law would apply to all Indonesian's in Aceh. they turned their lobby to the governor. LBH Aceh.339 Flower Aceh tells that when they did lobby in the House of Representatives on this law. To date there is no significant progress. including non-Acehnese residents and non-muslims.341 In 2008. RPUK. This provision is part of the current efforts in Aceh to enact laws based on the Sharía. the minister of religion did not pursue the revisions. 2010:17. reports have stated that there was no state intervention to protect the Ahmadiyah adherents or punish the attackers. 2010:2). 2009). AJMI.340 In 2006. Schulte Nordholt reports that the Sharía law was not one of the demands of the GAM. including for example Praxis. 2006:39). KPI. Despite the violence.” 342 For example. NU. pluralism. KKP. equality a well as humanism” (pamphlet about Demos). Violet Grey. In Jakarta. pressure the government.
of which 238 were affecting followers of Ahmadiyah. Activists in Aceh specifically related how they moved from more accommodating styles during martial law to more confrontational strategies in the current democratic framework. 345 Interview with author. 1 April 2010. LGBT or pluralism can face serious limitations when they face religious organizations or community leaders who oppose their work. Counter-terrorism in Indonesia’ in: Economist. 344 For a detailed overview of incidents. on 17 May 2010.346 Just recently. We distinguish between reactive and proactive responses.’ This choice is related to a risk assessment. The executive director of Imparsial was called a “devil. manoeuvred to operate around the restrictions or defended their space in a more confrontational style. the activists as well as the court officials had to enter the court through a specific door. Jakarta 346 From interviews with Imparsial. 1 April 2010 and the Legal Round Table (31 March 2010) in Jakarta 347 th ‘Dispense with the pieties. most responses are in reaction to immediate physical threats or criminal charges. During hearings in court related to this case. NGOs working on issues of gender. the Setara institute has published a report in which it monitors the freedom of religion and belief. we will analyse systematically the various response strategies that we have encountered. in the case of religious sensitivity. 130 . executing a western agenda. Responses In the previous section. Specifically interesting is the distinction between confrontational and accommodating response styles as NGOs very clearly choose a certain ‘profile. which is by far the main victim of incidents of religious intolerance. Nomura also points out the tendency to create networks.59. We have already given some indication of how the NGOs in these particular areas have dealt with the restrictions. individual versus coordinated responses. which Nomura characterizes in the sector of environmentalist NGOs as participatory and egalitarian (2007:509). religious groups appeared with banners calling the NGO activists demons and pagans. In 2008 they reported 367 violations. 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. This provision is viewed to create the basis for violence against religious groups such as Ahmadiyah. 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. Professional NGOs are particularly targeted when they receive foreign funding and are therefore more likely to be seen as western agents. Whereas in most cases stigmatization is a problem because it can lead to criminalization or repression. Whereas sometimes proactive campaigns are set up (mostly in relation to legal reform).religious passages.”345 Even though the police protection in the court is deemed to be good. In general.344 The pro-pluralism coalition has united to call for judicial review of this law that seems to justify discrimination of Ahmadiyah adherents. p. stigmatization in itself severely restricts operational space once it forces NGOs to withdraw from a community or change the content of their programs. and confrontational versus accommodating styles of response. May 22-28 2010. In this section. NGO response strategies in Indonesia can be characterized as highly coordinated.’” 347 This is a clear signal from a president who has otherwise been silent on the issue of political Islam.
The press freedom and informational freedom has led to good websites and reporting. which are generally referred to as “paralegal” training. This happened for example when NGOs applied for judicial review of the law on blasphemy. Often a clear chronology is missing and their language is too bombastic. 349 Interview of author with Praxis. 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. This opened up the space and awareness for later demonstrations when these freedoms were curbed again (2006:53). 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. In general. from 19891994. 2006:52). In a closed session 348 Nyman reports of a short period of liberalization during the Suharto regime specifically for media. LBH. 31 March 2010. At the yearly meeting they exchange information about cases and share mechanisms of protection. Most NGOs in Indonesia. 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.348 Coordinated proactive responses occur as NGOs collaborate on specific issues in various networks. 2009). especially in Jakarta. and KPA) actually provide these trainings. In addition there is collective action (by the same coalition) for judicial review on the law on criminal defamation.350 Imparsial told that every year there is a meeting of HRDs. 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.349 Thus. 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. Jakarta 350 Interview with author. for example regarding laws that are about to be implemented or to repeal undesired laws. in many instances NGOs can be observed to unite their forces and make common demands on the government. Some NGOs (Imparsial. we have encountered some accommodating instances where NGOs practice forms of self-censorship to avoid trouble and be able to continue doing their work. 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. Jakarta 131 .Regarding individual reactive responses. however. 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. 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. For example. as there is a lack of lawyers. there is a “Security Sector Reform Network” that works on police reform. many activists speak out against what they perceive as restrictions on their work and are more confrontational. Various NGOs reacted positive to the suggestion of receiving training on HRD Guidelines. Unfortunately. but lacks the resources to solve these issues across Indonesia or even to provide enough paralegal training. 31 March 2010. even though the law on criminal defamation has also led to convictions of journalists (Freedom House. This indicates the lack of local capacity to deal with it locally. The NGO community in Jakarta does have the capacity. 2006:27) and the joint advocacy about tax exemption (CSI Index. In this work they often collaborate with academics.
not by TIFA. but by local community donors.351 In the same spirit. they are accused to be western puppets and they tend to be perceived as a threat. Promoting Human rights. During the past years. After the murder of Munir. the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) and the Pulih Foundation. 2009.” 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. 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. At the moment. started an emergency system for HRD under risk. 2003. Imparsial reported that they often assisted NGO representatives and activists from Aceh to evacuate to Jakarta to provide protection. which is funded not by international donors. In response to serious threats.they provide training on security issues. there has been joint resistance after specific charges of criminal defamation. 132 . they conducted at least 10 evacuations from Aceh. tied to a palm tree. Jakarta Because HRDs are usually volunteers. Imparsial observes a lack of state protection for HRD as there is no specific recognition of HRDs. 2009) and it has also gained international prominence.354 Many organizations have reported on its progress (see for example AHRC. Civil society organizations successfully defined this as an attack to free speech (Caveat. 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. 355 The real need for these evacuations is demonstrated for example by the incident of a Kontras volunteer who was abducted on June 16. by unknown attackers in North Aceh. Rallies were held across the country and a famously successful campaign in Facebook was set up. The Munir case is still not closed and they need resources for the case. gagged and showing evidence of torture (HRF 2005:14). The goal is to turn this HRD fund into a community fund. In addition to the proactive activity to repeal the provision on criminal defamation.352 The slogan on the pamphlet advertising this campaign reads “Protecting Human rights defender. The charged were dropped. 1 April 2010. 353 Whereas the examples above indicate some proactive initiatives. one of them was the former director of Kontras Aceh.355 The decision to evacuate is taken if the threat becomes specific and violent and/or when the family 351 352 Interview with author. She faced possibly 6 years in jail and 1 billion IDR. in 2007 the TIFA Foundation together with KontraS. as well as provide legal aid or physical health care to HRDs who really need it. For example. 353 Interview with author. He was found dead the following day. to avoid the need to bring them to Jakarta. 1 April 2010. now they are working on a fund for HRDs to support them in small things such as scholarships for their children. 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. June 2009:4). Since last year ICCO does not support Imparsial anymore. 2008:17). ICCO allowed Imparsial to change the destination of a part of their funding to dedicate it to the campaign around Munir. LBH Jakarta. the Human Right Support Facilities (HRSF) which would for example enable the evacuation of HRDs within the region. 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. One NGO leader subsequently worked as an intern at Imparsial. Caveat. such as the support group that has taken up the fight in the Munir case. 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. other alliances are more reactive.
HR Commission358 and the relevant sector council (such as the Forestry Council). Civil society activists emphasize that even though Indonesia does satisfy many of the formal requirements. They talked about “soft power” (as expressed by ICCO partner JKMA) and a strategy not to discuss illegal logging openly. When incidents occur. ELSAM provides legal representation to peasants who face criminal charges in the context of land occupations and conflicts about natural resources.359 YRBI consciously uses safe language and warns communities not to use violence against illegal loggers. Some NGOs are very vocal about restrictions they face. For example. Banda Aceh 133 . Not all NGOs. 7 April 2010. one time in Lamteuta. but instead to take their tools. 1 April 2010. KPA sends reports to the police department. they do not want to provoke the people. still there is a lot to do to achieve real democracy. 359 It is suggested in various reports that illegal logging is a major problem in Indonesia. 1 April 2010. YRBI explains they do not want to seem biased. 360 Interview with author. A few other evacuations took place from Papua. and Ambon. He emphasizes that it is their responsibility to create a safe atmosphere in the community where they work and not create trouble for them. 357 Agrarian Legal Aid Services is another organization of lawyers who offer legal counsel to peasants that get arrested. In the case regarding Sulawesi in 2005 they cooperated with Walhi. The spokesperson of YRBI fears that even if the risk is not so much about physical harassment.” This is a strategy to minimize risk of physical harassment. however. various NGOs offer some form of legal counsel or representation. Aspinall writes that 356 357 Interview with author. In Aceh. a visit by a HR Commissioner usually has the effect that the violence stops. These are all examples of coordinated reactive responses. In these evacuations Imparsial generally cooperated with other organizations. but instead talk about “caring for the forest” (in the words of ICCO partner YRBI). 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. they received a direct warning not to talk about illegal logging.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. The NGO leader explains that just like during the conflict in Aceh one could not talk about “freedom” or “the future of the country”. therefore Imparsial decided to focus on a proposal to demand official protection from the government for human rights defenders (see more on this below). However. national parliament. even though it doesn’t solve the land dispute.356 In response to the criminal charges that peasants in land conflicts suffer. choose for a confrontational path to resist potential or actual restrictions. then the illegal loggers may create mistrust among the community and say negative things about YRBI.is threatened as well. see for example HRW 2010:3. Jakarta Interview with author. Instead they talk about “strengthening the community. strengthening customary law. Sulawesi. several NGOs emphasized to be careful about their strategy in order not to create risk in their work. now one doesn’t talk about illegal logging. and they do not directly address the sensitive issue. and strengthening welfare” as well as “taking care of the water and the forest. Evacuations cost time though.
and continuing needs for a strong civil society as a counterweight to the government” (2010:12). Only one NGO reported actual problems because of their legal status. He reports that whereas donors tend to stress “technical deficits. both of which are potentially restrictive. which created problems for their operations in Papua.many of his informants identified the corrupt and authoritarian practices within the new formal democracy (2010:11). GRO leaders in land disputes often face criminal charges. even though the murder of Munir is a forceful reminder that violence is not impossible. GRO leaders in Papua have faced charges of sedition and rebellion. 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). Regarding stigmatization. the worst thing at the moment is their attitude which says that democracy in Indonesia is now okay. We have identified the most prevalent restrictive policies and actions limiting the space of NGOs. such as theft and illegal entrance of a plantation. Still. 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. and elite competition because of decentralization are important elements limiting operational space for NGOs. Civil society is small but cohesive in comparison to the Filipino civil society. Aspinall cites a senior human rights advocate who said about donors: ‘Of course. Indonesia is widely viewed as a success story of democratization. Despite fears to the contrary. partially because of great donor support. such as ‘criminal defamation’ against accountability advocates. pointing to systemic and structural problems with the character of state power. the administrative framework does not however. Operational space for NGOs has indeed increased since the fall of the Suharto regime. Some conclusions can be drawn from this case study.” civil society activists view the matter as “fundamentally political. Non-state actors such as the military. Regarding criminalization. Regarding administrative measures. Civil society actors worry that donors are not sensitive to this. regarding spaces of dialogue. Aspinall goes to the heart of the matter when he juxtaposes the different views about how to deepen the Indonesian democracy. the operational space of NGOs is hardly affected by general measures such as anti-terrorism laws. which has serious consequences for their space. intimidating threats are common for all NGO representatives that work in one of the areas identified as sensitive. Civil society in Indonesia has grown enormously since 1998. religious fundamentalists or unknown opponents. civil society is looked upon suspiciously in Indonesian society as it tends to be associated with western values. all NGOs face the negative label of executing a ‘western’ agenda. optimism about the benefits of 134 . The specific use of criminal offenses. NGOs have not (yet) gained the widespread support and legitimacy as they enjoy for example in the Philippines. Grassroots community leaders are much more likely to experience actual violence in confrontation with the police. such as preman. In Papua. Regarding repression and intimidation. military or nonstate actors. Finally. 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. For some NGOs this label seriously restricts their operational space. widespread corruption. Still. however. 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. in general. military influence. seem to cause NGOs any problems. restricts NGOs in their operations. NGOs and GROs face the risk to be labelled as sympathizers of separatists.
collaboration with the government far exceeds negative experiences regarding cooperation. 135 . NGOs operating in the field of accountability (anti-corruption and human rights violations) can experience severe limitations on their space. We have identified three major areas of NGO-work where operational space is at times severely restricted as the abovementioned actions and policies interact. and pluralism. most importantly threats. The third area that we identified where NGOs face limitations of their operational space are NGOs working on sensitive issues in relation to religion. thus for example facing the issue of the proper reintegration of ex-rebels. NGO response strategies in Indonesia can be characterized as highly coordinated. however. which seems especially prevalent with respect to NGOs who level accountability accusations and GRO leaders engaged in struggles regarding natural resources. Thirdly. local communities. LGBT. executing a western agenda. bribery and intimidation. can face a range of restrictions. can be noted. peasants and rural GROs that struggle for land. Firstly. the restrictions posed because of religious sensitivity have been felt more and since longer in Aceh than in Jakarta. NGOs working on issues of gender. Firstly. Whereas in most cases stigmatization is a problem because it can lead to criminalization or repression. Secondly. Fourthly. It is clear that the process of democratization has opened up new spaces for NGOs for advocacy and claim-making. stigmatization in itself severely restricts operational space once it forces NGOs to withdraw from a community or change the content of their programs. Points of concern are the combination of negotiation. such as gender. Professional NGOs are particularly targeted when they receive foreign funding and are therefore more likely to be seen as western agents. whereas the operational space for urban professional NGOs working on land issues is quite free and broad. and criminal charges. some NGOs experienced limitations related to the fact that Aceh is a post-conflict territory. most importantly due to frequent threats and charges of criminal defamation. thus decreasing the sustainable capacity of NGOs to be strong actors in spaces of dialogue. the relations with the local Acehnese government for some NGOs have changed radically over the past years. some old conflicts have not satisfactorily been solved and new tensions already challenge the process of democratization. Secondly. where the current government has become increasingly suspicious of some of the more critical NGOs. most responses are in reaction to immediate physical threats or criminal charges. NGO experiences in Aceh regarding limitations of their space largely coincide with the experiences from Jakarta based NGOs. In general. violence. The results of this research show that whereas most NGOs benefit from the expansion of space. however. Some differences. in the case of religious sensitivity. some of the NGOs experienced specific stigmatization because of the huge influx of NGOs and funding directly after the tsunami. 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. Whereas sometimes proactive campaigns are set up (mostly in relation to legal reform).
played a relatively minor role in the transition towards democracy. in general terms. whereas the presence of an independence movement in Papua has led the Indonesian state in this region has strong authoritarian characteristics. In Guatemala the role of the military diminished substantially over the past decades. But (former) military still play a role in national political life. but (former) military are still a factor to count with. such as a rather weak rule of law. 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). in Indonesia the military still has strong vested interests and exerts substantial influence on politics while there is a lack of civilian control over the military. in the partial democracies that were under study. What kinds or combinations of policies are responsible for the most important restrictions. 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. corruption. the NGO sectors grew and in all cases NGOs have increasingly tried to use and enlarge the resulting operational and political space. since the power of the state is or contested. and who can be held responsible for this? Thirdly. In Central 136 . All countries embarked on an uncertain process of democratization in the late 1980s or 1990s. General findings and trends A first conclusion is that. There are important commonalities and differences between the countries included in this study. We finalize this chapter with recommendations. In all cases the diminishing role of the military was a key component of the democratization processes. Secondly. In all countries there is a fundamental problem of a relatively weak state. Mindanao in the Philippines displays the characteristics of a war zone and until recently Aceh in Indonesia was a war zone.Chapter 6 . as well as the issue of attribution. while the sector started to boom when the Reformasi started. with high levels of corruption. The case of Indonesia is rather different since NGOs were less present during the authoritarian regime. 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. we will reflect on the response strategies and capacities of local NGOs.’ all countries have regions that are war zones or crisis areas. During and after the democratic openings. While the four countries are clearly examples of ‘partial democracies. and insecurity. we discuss the importance of the different types of restrictions. Despite reforms. This is the case despite the typical problems or deficits that these partial democracies suffered from.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. Firstly. 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. In all four cases. while in Honduras the coup provided new space to the military.
(2) peasants and indigenous people (re-)claiming land. In particular. 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. corporations or the military) are more likely to experience serious restrictions in their operational space. during and after the coup in Honduras is an example of how polarization at national level also influences local resource conflicts (e. LGBT. The generalized insecurity in these crisis areas restricts almost all NGOs. However. In these cases. and (d) NGOs operating in areas with chronic insecurity.1: Categorization per country In general. Hence. (2) resource conflicts. the chronic insecurity is reflected by high levels of violence and extremely high homicide rates. in Bajo Aguan) and leads to new cycles of violent 137 . in Honduras we distinguished between (1) resource conflicts. For instance. In Guatemala we looked at (1) NGOs working in the field of truth.g. NGOs that are involved in issues of service delivery generally experience few problems.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. (c) NGOs or organizations involved in women’s rights and the rights of the LGBT community. Box 6. election periods are generally tenser periods. (b) NGOs who demand accountability of the state. In Indonesia there were: (1) NGOs demanding accountability for corruption and past human rights violations. corruption and state repression. depending on the general political conjunctures and the tensions that are building up. and pluralism. we found selective restrictions on operational space. in all countries under study. Restrictions come and go. the following specific contexts are described: (1) NGOs operating at the extreme left: consequences of a counterinsurgency focus on civil society. despite the fact that there is operational space for many NGOs. and (3) the specific problems caused by the coup. we focused on the sectors that experienced most problems. which affects in particular a number of claim-making NGOs. (2) NGOs and community organizers making claims about land and natural resources. but this insecurity is different from the actions and policies that specifically target NGOs which are the subject of our study. In each of the country chapters of this study. (3) NGOs operating in conflict areas and isolated places. and (3) problems related to chronic insecurity. Despite this unfinished democratization.g. In the Philippines. human rights and justice. and (3) decreasing space for NGOs working on issues of gender. groups that make political claims vis-à-vis the state and/or other actors (e. The vulnerability of these groups is not a given. the operational space of NGOs is substantial both on paper and in practice. (2) chronic insecurity. Finally. Finally. The increasingly tense atmosphere in the period before. particularly when they address issues of past atrocities. 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.
There is no doubt that repression – either in the form of threats. It can come and go. legislation explicitly promotes NGO involvement in government policy. Apart from NGO-legislation. In the Philippines. or as a lack of protection – plays a role for most of the groups that experience restrictions. This is in our view closely connected to the relatively weak state structures (especially in terms of rule of law) in the countries studied. Many grassroots organizations suffer from criminalization in the struggle around resources. efforts to introduce ‘bad NGO legislation’ can seriously threaten the space of the entire NGO sector. and awkward situations in jail. NGOs reported concerns about potential abuse of NGO-legislation. 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). but also with regard to the staff of these organizations that can experience serious emotional and mental problems. In a few cases. while CEADEL precisely criticizes the ministry for not controlling the labor conditions in the region where they work. 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. counter terrorism legislation was used to try NGO staff.restrictions. as is for instance the case with the law on criminal defamation in Indonesia. the legal framework enables NGOs to do their work and for example in the Philippines. which will be discussed further on. Repression is not necessarily a continuous threat. This was most clearly the case in Honduras. Below we discuss our general findings with regard to the five types of restrictions. However. while many other crimes are not addressed. NGOs there have been able to counter these threats. In combination with lengthy trials. In the Philippines. Closer scrutiny by the international community was a factor that helped reduce the extrajudicial killings of farmers. this causes serious problems. In many cases – but particularly in the case of conflicts about resources (such as land and mining) – the attribution of the repression is not always clear. Criminalisation can be a serious problem for NGOs. These measures can seriously hamper the work of these organizations. Also in Indonesia. if not actual physical injury. but in general the accusations are based on regular criminal law. violence against farmers became more frequent as the battle about the extension of land reform intensified. administrative measures of different sorts can severely restrict NGOs in their operations. In the case of Guatemala and Honduras. This leads to suspicions about alleged political motives of staff within the judicial sector that are generally very hard to prove. for example farmers involved in campaigns for land reform in the Philippines are prosecuted for trespassing. both in terms of the operational capacity. 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. the “pre-emptive calibrated response” which aimed to guide police forces in their 138 . long periods of pre-trial detention. 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. Nevertheless. injuries and killings. CEADEL in Guatemala reported frequent (monthly) and timeconsuming audits of the staff of the local ministry of Labor. We didn’t find clear patterns of administrative restrictions that all countries share. In general.
Bureaucrats (or their superiors) have the ability to creatively and on an ‘ad-hoc basis’ hamper the work of NGOs. It is clear that NGOs that touch upon vested interests are more likely to experience these kinds of pressures or restrictions. repression (intimidation) can come together with stigmatization through the media (as experienced by human rights organizations in Guatemala). also concerns about the functionality of these new spaces. also ‘silent’ forms of repression. also points at weaknesses of civil society actors. Actions and measures seldom ‘come alone’. and there is a serious problem of attribution. specifically for NGOs working on issues of pluralism and religious freedom. In this regard it proves very complex to prove ‘what exactly is going on’. however. In particular in Guatemala and Honduras the frustrations about the quality of these spaces are considerable. there are concerns and frustrations about the quality of dialogue in these spaces. This applies particularly to the repressive actions and criminalization. however. 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’. While using the new opportunities is seen as crucial by donors of NGOs. we found examples of cooptation of NGOs by government officials. However. As to the attribution an important conclusion of this study is that the experienced restrictions are not only the result of government actions. religious groups take issue with the idea of human rights and human rights defense. communists or terrorists (Philippines. This can cause severe restrictions. In Indonesia. where local staff members or participants of NGO-activities are targets of anonymous phone calls or harassment. We would argue that the complaint that the spaces don’t work. The coup in Honduras led to doubts about whether NGOs should deal with the government in the future. the use of these spaces is often problematic. 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. As to the use of political space. In general. For example. NGOs can also be criticized for promoting different values. stigmatisation is part and parcel of the first three kinds of restrictions. In Guatemala and Honduras. but in many cases the combined actions of corporations. in many cases it is not entirely clear who is behind the measures. In all cases. NGOs are singled out and labeled as groups obstructing progress (mining). but we would however not talk of a clear trend. the general stigma of the NGO-sector as ‘western’ agents proved an important hurdle. In some cases. There are. however. 139 . Many of the claim-making NGOs have become involved in cooperation or dialogues with government agencies. while bribing of NGOs or community leaders was also reported. created resistance among NGOs as they feared it would scare people away from public activities. government officials and (un)civil society. or officials can (ab)use their administrative powers. As mentioned. Depending on the local and national context. but we did not find particular ‘sequences’ of combinations of measures.regulation of rallies and demonstrations. A frequent critique is that talking didn’t lead to any substantive changes. Guatemala). This leads to the conclusion that government agencies. There is little doubt that restrictive measures of NGOs can be the result of targeted ‘campaigns’ or initiatives. it was reported that dialogues alternated with threats and intimidation. which can easily lead to stigmatization. since a strong and capable civil society will not so easily be ‘co-opted’ and be more likely to ‘make spaces work’. There are.
The most basic one is ‘exit’ and the most radical form of exit is to disband an organization.Response strategies In figure 4 of chapter 1 we made a distinction between four types of response strategies. Below we discuss the individual and coordinated responses separately. though this is not necessarily the case. The typical response in cases of experienced restrictions is an accommodating ad-hoc response to find a solution – such as building a fence. without necessarily dealing with the cause of the problem. there can be both more accommodating and more confrontational reactions. What do organizations do individually? Reactive and proactive responses. adding a variable that – on the basis of our fieldwork . be cautious when using the telephone. In Central America several organisations emphasised that they were not able to deal with threats from criminal groups. We will not refer in each section to each of the five restrictions. but only discuss the responses to the most important restrictions that NGOs encountered. Moreover. In case of more confronting styles. This is generally based on an equally ‘ad hoc’ analysis of these threats. responses can change over time and so can the balance between the accommodating and confrontational responses. in the Philippines. there are different styles to react in all four domains. NGOs that have experienced most problems with threats have become more strategic and developed scenarios of how to deal with new restrictions. While a response is a calculated reaction to an experienced threat or challenge to a person or an organization. We have not seen a case like that. Wherever there is a restriction there will always be a reactive ‘response’. a land reform NGO reported to avoid confrontation and withdraw from land occupations in advance. but organizations do censor themselves and decide to skip certain topics that are simply too dangerous to touch upon. In these cases the focus is on the efforts to tackle the effect of the problem. the crux of the response is to accuse or protest against those responsible for the restrictions experienced. the difference between more ‘accommodating’ and more ‘confrontational’ responses. In Central America a number of NGOs were hesitant to openly use a human rights discourse. etc. a ‘pluralism NGO’ reported that they do not talk about ‘human rights’ as this is considered a western concept by some religious groups. 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. 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. in Indonesia. contracting a guard. NGOs are also cautious about the language they used. There is a variety of responses to the various problems encountered. For example. taking a break after threats. For example. Below we will discuss each of them. 140 .
which was the product of international lobbying which resulted in a resolution of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights.Reactive / Ad hoc Proactive / Strategic Individual Accommodating: Deny or relativize. Systematically inform the public and international partners Confrontational: Submit a complaint for a particular case. in Honduras after the coup staff members left the country for a while. selfprotection. This happens especially when tensions rise. send out a collective press release Figure 6. change work. An option is that staff leaves the organization (temporarily).g. A number 141 . lobby. such as a guard or a fence. in all cases. Confrontational: Protest. or go to trial. In Guatemala. However. Ask government for protection. the Fundación Myrna Mack receives government protection. 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. E. accuse. ask support from other NGOs. in alliance with other NGOs Confrontational: Form a network to protest specific problems collectively. In the Philippines some staff had to hide for a while. Accommodating: Initiate dialogue with those responsible for the restriction. These reactions vary from denial and relativizing the impact of threats to panic and stress.1 Response strategies of NGOs When it comes to threats of staff the typical immediate response is to look for some form of accommodation. stop work. staff has to deal with the emotional stress of threats. leave country.
NGOs decide to leave these particular areas. however. government officials and others. The move towards more coordinated action seems (not surprisingly) more difficult to take. NGOs choose for a confrontational approach with the support of or in alliance with other organisations. Some went to the police when they received death threats. while a number of these organizations looks for coordination with other organizations. In this regard. However. is even more complex. a director of an NGO that received anonymous threats told she was in frequent contact with other directors of NGOs about her situation. such as changing the route to their work. which are mobilized once a restriction appears or continues. In the foregoing it was argued that almost all organizations that face restrictions will try to resolve these at first by ‘individual accommodation’.of NGOs reported it had hired counselors to deal with these symptoms. which to a large extend explains their strength. the existence of networks of NGOs does not necessarily lead to coordinated responses. Most NGOs reported to take security precautions. For example. Where a proactive 142 . 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. there is a high level of coordination. In Indonesia. representing more than 2. 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. while sleeping in different houses.000 development NGOs. NGOs issue press releases when they are confronted with criminal cases or killings. NGOs (a microfinance organization and women’s organization respectively) have reported to leave an area where they had experienced restrictions. For example. there is a high level of cooperation between NGOs to respond strategically to restrictions. most NGOs do not operate in a vacuum and have their networks with other NGOs. for example in CODE-NGO. even ad hoc individual responses will more often than not be taken with some kind of advice or help of this network. Most often. there has to be a restriction that several organizations experience. For example. they are the product of local initiatives and processes. 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 fact. 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). With regard to both the individual and the coordinated efforts. Also in the Philippines. in the Philippines and Indonesia. For instance. where a situation of chronic insecurity not only hampers the work of NGOs but has a profound impact on the social fabric in general. In order to coordinate ad hoc actions. Though these networks are supported by external donors. an alliance of NGOs has initiated a request for judicial review to change the law on criminal defamation. the distinction between more accommodating and confronting responses is important. The latter kind of problem is particularly important in Central America. What do NGOs do together? Reactive and proactive responses. In order to move to a more proactive response capacity that addresses the restrictions on operational space in general. 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. Thus.
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’. 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. Coordination requires both a felt need to work together as well as a (political) willingness and consensus about style to do so. However. Although ICCO is currently developing new policies with regards to human rights defenders and problems of shrinking political space. ICCO HQ also played important roles after coup in Honduras. Some accommodating responses like leaving an area constitute effectively a serious decrease in their operational space. Ad-hoc accommodation is the most common way to deal with these. a rich experience of supporting partners in different ways. but in many cases this leads to some reduction of operational space. 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. 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. It is important to note that this proactive role was not played by the new regional offices of ICCO. In many cases these debates are linked to political and strategic differences between these organisations that have different political stances and histories. defend. This is indeed related to the general problems of coordination of NGOs in many parts of the world. This was not only a result of the fact that the 143 . The exact impact of restrictions on the operational space of NGOs is determined in interaction with their chosen response. ICCO itself has both used accommodating and more confrontational approaches. On the other hand. this space itself is the product of a long series of accusations and lobbying by numerous NGOs. The two approaches can obviously strengthen each other.accommodating style will look for solutions to a problem by dialoging or negotiating with government officials. however. In the countries of Central America NGOs criticized each other for either showing too much willingness to cooperate with government agencies. and maintain their operational space. In most cases that we found restrictive measures. or for being too confrontational and ‘negative’. ICCO HQ has. While it is too early to reflect on the roles of the regional offices. This indicates one of the main dilemmas that NGOs face as they are challenged by restrictions: how can they optimally use. All in all. there is no clarity about the ways and the situations in which ICCO (regional offices or HQ) will be involved. 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. The style of the response itself is also subject to debates between NGOs. more confronting approaches will protest against the government or submit a press release. In many cases this proves to be extremely problematic. the result is almost always some form of operational restriction. the restrictions of operational space are the result of oftentimes targeted and context-specific processes. 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.
We suggest ICCO uses the term human rights defense to emphasize the rights of its partners to have their operational space and where necessary to help NGOs to defend.g. but also due to different views within the regional board about the coup in Honduras. campaigns addressing ‘operational’ or ‘shrinking’ space in general will not be helpful. labeling all NGOs involved in development work as human rights defenders may make the concept an empty shell. the problems with regard to mining activities). Recommendations With regard to the protection of operational space of its partners. However. 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. and (d) pay particular attention to grassroots NGOs and community organizations in the opening up and defense of operational spaces. ICCO should primarily support local mechanisms to deal with (a) direct threats. 144 . since the variety of contexts. The needs and expectations of partners can exceed the actual capacity of ICCO to assist. where a leader from farmer organization TFM could present the plight of the killings against farmers and request international attention. E. restrictions and specific problems of NGOs are too diverse. Dealing with direct threats With regard to the ways ICCO deals with direct threats.g.regional office was still starting up. for example when it supported public declarations about the killing of Munir in Indonesia. such as the killing of Munir? Towards proactive action With regard to proactive action. 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. ICCO (regional and HQ) should be clear about what it is able to do and what not. the development of these mechanisms will have their own rhythm and problems of coordination can hamper this process. 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. ICCO should be clear about what partners can expect when they are in trouble. ICCO should be aware that this discourse is not accepted or used by all partners. (c) to use existing political space more effectively. (b) to work towards proactive action that might involve international actors when necessary. However. At other times ICCO HQ opted for a more confrontational style. While the framework of human rights and the discourse and policies on human rights defenders is valid. restore or optimally use their operational space. ICCO should play a supportive role in the creation of local capacity. International campaigns to counter particular restrictions can be important. Furthermore. 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. An example of a more pro-active and strategic action has been the visit to the Dutch embassy in the Philippines.
how do movements deal with local dissent or cooptation of corporations? And what are – given the restrictions experienced by local people – successful strategies to move forward? NGOs in the field of resource claims almost always work with grassroots organizations and would not be able to do any of their work without them. In this regard an important dilemma is how these NGOs can use their (limited) space to make claims. but instead to reshape their space. restrictions and conflict dynamics is needed. Outside funding for these grassroots organizations hardly exists. This systematisation should not only focus on the restrictions and violations of human rights. In addition to the often severe restrictions that they face vis-à-vis local power holders. The ways in which these groups are restricted differs from place to place. For the NGOs that experience restrictions operational space is not something that can simply be ‘given back’. history and style of the NGOs themselves. 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. What is their capacity to both protest and dialogue. 145 . 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. further research about operational space of NGOs should be conducted in authoritarian regimes and war zones. Creating. Their space is rather the result of national and local contexts. defending and/or using operational space will therefore mean different things for different NGOs. In all cases. As to the research agenda. as well as the position. and a further systematisation of these local problems. 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. without risking an increase in restrictive measures. 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. Pay particular attention to the importance of grassroots NGOs and community organizations Of all counterparts of ICCO.Creating and using space Apart from thinking about how to ‘defend’ 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. their operational space deserves specific attention.
Honduras: Behind the Crisis. Lynchings and the Democratization of Terror in Postwar Guatemala: Implications for Human Rights. George.) breaking through. Queien tiene el poder en Centroamerica (2): Un retrato de los grandes grupos economicos. Honduras Zero Tolerance.Bibliography Aditjondro. http://www. summary or arbitrary executions’ for the Human Rights Council.opendemocracy. Step by Step. 2010. ‘Mission to the Philippines.’ First session of the UPR Working Group. 2008. Issue 6. pp. 2009. 2009. 7-18 April 2008 Amnesty International. 2008. Beyond the 2008-2009 Mindanao Armed Conflict. for impunity xtrajudicial Executions of Children and Youths since 1998. the Legacy of Suharto’ at Gubuk Indies.. 2009. 2007.2008a. 53-74. in Journal of International Criminal Justice 8 (2010). Break the Chain of Impunity’. ‘The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala’. ‘Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review. Jaarboek. More from the Honduras Diary: From Jubilation to Repression. Queien tiene el poder en Centroamerica (1): Mas desiguales y cada vez mas integrados. ‘The Pro-democracy Movement’s Uphill Struggle: Challenging the Shrinking Democratic Space in Indonesia’ in: Paredes. Queien tiene el poder en Centroamerica (3): Con derecho a picaporte y con cuantos limites?Envio Alston. International Debates. pp.. Envio Alexander Segovia. in Envio Alexander Segovia. Honduras Profile. 2006. Food Crisis. 16 April 2008 Amnesty International. ‘In memoriam Suharto (1921-2008). agenda item 3. Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial. Gerakan Antikorupsi (GeRAK) Aceh Ardiansyah. ‘Shattered Lives. Another Month Living with the Coup: “I Hear Something Rumbling. 2003. 2009.’ Amnesty International Publications: London Andrew Hudson and Alexandra Taylor. in Envio October 2009 Alexander Segovia. Joel & Marissa de Guzman & Eltheodon Rillorta (eds. Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review. 5-9 May 2008 Amnesty International. July 2008 Amnesty International. Amnesty International. Philip. Eighth session. 2002. Angelina Snodgrass Godoy. 2008. Envio … Alejandro Fernandez. Amnesty International. Anonymous.2008b. 2009. Bambang & Firdaus Ilyas. Budget Tracking.” in Envio Sept 2009 Alejandro Fernandez. Guatemala.. Anonymous. in Human Rights Quarterly 24. 2009. ‘Philippines. Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review. Political Space for Advocacy in Southeast Asia SEACA: Quezon City Metro Manila Alejandro Fernandez. 2009a. Second session of the UPR Working Group.Jakarta. First session of the UPR Working Group’ 7-8 April 2008. Day by Day. 640-661. 146 . ‘Witnessing Justice. Amnesty International. in openDemocracy. Vol 7. blogsite of Institute for National and Democratic Studies. Aceh Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. Syamsul.net Antariksa. Blow by blow. 2008.
Washington. Laurens. An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society.pdf Asonog. online available at http://www. FIDH.civicus. Peter. “The state of human rights in Indonesia in 2009” Asociacion Americana de Juristas. Un mal negocio para Honduras.asonog.pdf [accessed May 31.org. No.%20Publicaciones/ASONOG_IGRM_arte%20estudio%20mineria.) Spatializing Law. Indonesia. Guatemala . 2009. Issue4. 2002. 2004.uk/northsouth/CasaWeb.edu. 2009.aaj. 2009. April 12. Paul J.org. July 2002 Bello. An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society. 31 de Agosto. 2010] Asian Human Rights Commission. 2009. Asociacion de Juristas Democraticos & Asociacion International Contra la Tortura.nsf/CasaNews/Honduras_2007_Children?OpenDocument CAVEAT. National Laywers Guild. Democratization and Decentralization in Post-Soeharto Indonesia: Understanding Transition Dynamics’ in: Pacific Affairs: Volume 81. available at: http://indiesblog. Honduras.) Spatializing Law. 2008. The Human Cost of Insecurity’ http://material. Franz.’ Peacebuilding Compared Project Working Paper 5.ahrchk. Montly Analysis of the problem of violence against Honduran children. CALDH. Mineria. Press Declarations CIVICUS. 2008. ‘Opening remarks for a Workshop Held at the Catholic University of America. Barnett F. 2008. August 2009 CIFCA.org/csw/csw-early-warning-system/1012-ewsphilippines 147 .February 12.net/hrreport/2008/AHRC-SPR-015-2008Philippines_AHRR2008. 4 – Winter 2008-2009 Casa Alianza Honduras. “The Sultan’s Map: Arguing One’s Land in Pasir” in: von BendaBeckmann et al (eds. Memoria Encuentro Centroamericano de Defensores y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos. 2010? ‘Aceh. Online available at http://www. 2010 ‘Indonesia: The Perils of Success.au/cigj/link_documents/Publications/Acehwebsitevers.com/2008/02/13/in-memoriamsuharto-1921-2008-food-crisis-the-legacy-of-suharto/ [accessed 27 May 2010] Asian Human Rights Commission. Carnegie. ‘Perspectives.Surrey: Ashgate Baron. Herbert Docena. Online available at http://www. ‘The State of Human Rights in the Philippines – 2008. January 2007. Edward.Surrey: Ashgate Braithwaite. 2006. to be accessed at [27 May 2010]: http://cigj. 2009.’ Project Report for Assessing Democracy Assistance. available at *accessed on 17 June 2010]: http://www.anu. 2009. OMCT. 2007. Leiden: KITLV CALDH.pdf Burns. The AntiDevelopment State.’ in: The International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law Volume 4.wordpress. OBS. 2009.hn/6. FRIDE: Madrid Bakker. Tegucigalpa. Las industrias extractivas. Concepts of Law in Indonesia. “Contested Spaces of Authority in Indonesia” in: von Benda-Beckmann et al (eds. The Political Economy of Permanent Crisis in the Philippines Manila: ANVIL Publishing. LaAntigua Guatemala. Walden. Keebet von Benda-Beckmann. Informe Final. John. Marissa de Guzman & Mary Lou Malig.casaalianza. ‘Early warning system Updates’ May 2009. 2002. December 2006. Indonesia’s Monthly Human Rights Analysis. xxxx.br/HondurasInfFinal. Inc Benda-Beckmann von.pdf Aspinall.
PDAF Watch Report 2005-2007.org/new/media/CSI_Honduras_Country_Report.’ Final Report of the 2-15 June 2006 International Fact-Finding Mission on Agrarian Reform Related Violations of Human Rights in the Philippines. Manila: Caucus of Development NGO Networks CODE-NGO. Encarnacion Tadem. Negotiating Rights. Quezon City. Civicus Civil Society Index Report for Honduras. Guatemala.CIVICUS. Porfirio Lobo. Guatemala Country Report. 2008. 2009.c-r. Boulder. 27 January 2010 DanChurchAid. New York: Lexington Books Fian et al. A Civil Society Monitoring Tool. Washington. Zed Press. online available at http://quixote. Looking into the Pork Barrel. CFP Evaluation Series 2003-2006: no 4 Dinorah Azpura. London. 2010. 2007. An Overview of the Guatemalan Peace Process. A Long Journey to a Civil Society written by Rustam Ibrahim CODE-NGO. ‘Peace and Democratisation in Guatemala: Two Parallel Processes’. Charity Commission for England and Wales Cofadeh. From Consultation to Participation. 2007a. 2005.pdf CIVICUS. Caucus of Development NGO Networks. Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the situation in Honduras: inauguration of Mr. NPO Sector Assessment. 1997. 2010. Guerrillas. pp. Global Civil Society Movements in the Philippines Published in partnership with United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).October 22. Foodfirst Information and Action Network (FIAN). Landlord Lawlessness and Impunity in the Philippines. Guatemala: Magna Tierra Editores. final Report of the International Fact-Finding Mission. Woodrow Wilson Center Press.[ no date].).97-126. Debra Gish. 2006. Analysis de Contexto Subregional (Guatemala. Nicaragua y Honduras) sobre la Situación de los Derechos Humanos con Enfasis en el Acceso a la Justicia de las Mujeres y los Indigenas. 2009. Prepared for the NPO sector Review Project. Teresa S (ed. DanChurchAid.org/cofadehhuman-rights-report-english Conciliation Resources. 1999. Assessing Civil Society Participation as Supported In-country by Cordaid. online available at FIAN. “Mejorando el Acceso a la Justicia en Guatemala a través de la lucha contra la Impunidad y el Raciscmo. 2009. 2007b. Programa Espacio Cívico y Político 2007 – 2011. Philippine report.org Council of the European Union. Zander Navarro and Jenny Pearce. Brussels. Novib and Plan Netherlands. online available at www. PARRDS. in Cynthia Arnson (ed). 1999-2004. Tegucigalpa. Hivos. Localizing and Transnationalizing Contentious Politics. Indonesian Civil Society 2006. 2008. 2006. ‘Running Amok. 2009. Lanham. DanChurchAid. Dirk Kruijt. Statistics and Faces of the Repression” Violations of Human Rights in the context of the coup d’état in Honduras. Honduras . PEACE. online available at http://www. Comparative Peace Processes in Latin America. Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural 148 . CODE-NGO: A Decade’s Journey Manila:Caucus of Development NGO Networks CODE-NGO.civicus. March 2010.
Human Rights Watch. ‘Philippines Free Labor Rights Lawyer. Political Prisoners in Papua. Human Rights First. DanChurchAid. pp. E/C.pdf [accessed 5 August 2010] Human Rights First. 2010. Philippines 2009’ available at: *accessed 25 June 2010]: http://www.org [accessed 4 March 2010] Human Rights Watch. 2009a. 25 November 2009 Human Rights First. Country Report Indonesia Freedom House.hrw.210-14 Human Rights Watch. 28 July 2009. 13 August 2009 Human Rights First.cfm?page=363&year=2009 Glenda Garcia Garcia. parallel report. Freedom in the World – Honduras Freedom House.’ Vol. 2009. Reformasi & Resistance. 5 May 2008. Countries at Crossroads Country Report Indonesia Freedom House. No. Freedom in the World – Guatemala Freedom House. Año ruptura e incertidumbre.19. 2005. 3. World Report. J. Freedom House. 2006.org/template. ‘Lives Destroyed. The New Conditionality: the politics of poverty reduction strategies.org/en/news/2008/10/29/philippines-freelabor-rights-lawyer [accessed 25 June 2010] 149 . February 2007 Human Rights Watch.4. 2009b. Notes for understanding the Hunger Strike of the Public Prosecutors in Honduras. ‘Too High a Price. 2007. Continuing Harassment of Leftist Activists’ October 29. Informe sobre sociedad civil y ONGs en Guatemala. Second to fourth periodic reports of the Philippines UN Doc. 18. 2 Human Rights Watch. September 2008 Fosdeh (?). 41st session. The Honduran Standoff: Desperation and Violence on the Right.Development Services (PARRDS). http://www. 2008. 2009. 2009c. 2004. Killing of Indigenous Lawyer Fausto Leonel Otzin Poyon. 5.hrw. Presentación por Andrew Hudson. Balance 2009. Support Raul Arturo Figueroa Sarti’s Appeal against Copyright Infringement. 15. Philippine Ecumenical Action for Community Empowerment (PEACE) FIAN. 2007. ‘Protest and Punishment. Human Rights and Impunity in Guatemala. 2008. 2006. 2009. ‘Freedom in the World. . 12/PHL/4 submitted to the ESCR. 182-6. in NACLA Report November/December 2009. ‘The Right to Adequate Food in the Philippines’. pp. 2009. 2009. 2003. The Human Rights Cost of the Indonesian Military’s Economic Activities’ Vol. 11 de Noviembre 2009 Human Rights First. Attacks Against Civilians in the Philippines’ July 2007 www. Human Rights First. 2009. World Report. Guido Eguigure.org/INTJUSFORPOOR/Resources/FightingCorruptioninDecentral izedIndonesia. Country Report Indonesia Freedom House. Gould.. 2008. 4.freedomhouse..worldbank. http://siteresources. July 2003 Human Rights Watch. mimeo. online avialble as . ‘A Return to the New Order? Political Prisoners in Megawati’s Indonesia’ Vol. Zed Books Greg Grandin. Human Rights Defenders and Counterterrorism in Indonesia. 2008. 2009. 2009d. pp. No. 2005.Edited by Neil Hicks & Michael McClintock in: Human Rights Defenders and Counterterrorism Series No. No. June 2006 Human Rights Watch. 2008.
2009. 2008. ‘You Can Die At Any Time. 2009. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. ‘"Wild Money. Traps and Resistance beyond Zelaya. What comes after Zelaya? Envio October 2009 Ismael Moreno. Working Paper 88. pp. Number 3. Fride. Período del 28 de Junio al 30 de Septiembre 2009. J. 2009. January 2010 Hutchcroft.Doc. A “Sweeping” Electoral Triumph but the Nation Got Trounced” in Envio Dec 2009 Ivan Briscoe. 2009.net. 2009c. Equipo POLJUVE Honduras. Manila Ismael Moreno. online available at http://www. ‘Avoiding Deforestation in Aceh. 2009. 2004. Walker and Ariel C.oas. Institute of Cultural Affairs. October 2008. last updated 1 February 2010. Armony (eds). Honduras: behind the crisis. Recognising the Past. Ivan Briscoe. “When Security is the Threat.icnl. Willington: Scholarly Resources.Jakarta Impunity Watch & Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos. Informe de Violaciones a Derechos Humanos de Niños(as) y Jóvenes tras la Ruptura del Orden Constitucional en Honduras. Envio August 2009. Madrid. 2009. 2009d. 2009a.’ 2002-2009 Monitoring Report. In Thomas W. ‘Indonesia.L/V/II. and Democratic Transition in Central America. 2009e. Volume 15. Honduras: Militarism and Democratization in Troubled Waters.Guatemala Civl society Index. Fride. 1999. Mark Ruhl. Repression.’ Country Summary.org/en/reports/2009/04/06/you-can-die-any-time Human Rights Watch. September 2009.cidh. Agreements. created 07/03/2009 Ismael Moreno.org/knowledge/ngolawmonitor/honduras. La Persistencia de la Verdad: A diez años del Informe de la CEH. Resistence. pp.Human Rights Watch.htm Interpeace. The Proliferation of the “Parallel State”. Working Paper 71.55 30 December 2009. Death Squad Killings in Mindanao’. online available at http://www.opendemocracy.” in: We! Special Edition #2. International Development Law Organization Imparsial. in Envio November 2009 Ismael Moreno. in Open Democracy. 2010. April 2009. www. Curbing Central America’s Militaries. Natural Resource Rights and Local Communities Project. July 2004. 2009.’ December 2009 Human Rights Watch. OEA/Ser. Guatemala: Impunity Watch. 2005. in Journal of Democracy. Mark Ruhl. online available at Ismael Moreno. Impunity Watch. J.Coalition for Security of Civil Society.hrw. 150 .org/countryrep/Honduras09eng/Toc. 1999.Challenges for the Combat of Impunity in Guatemala. 2009b. 2010. Isis International.htm International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. Honduras. Transcending the Creation of Possible World. 2008. 2007.137-151." The Human Rights Consequences of Illegal Logging and Corruption in Indonesia’s Forestry Sector. Madrid.’ End of Phase Report. There Are no Ideal Solutions to This Coup D’Etat. Honduras. Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup d’Etat. June 2009. Indonesia: Land. ‘War Against Terrorism in Indonesia and its Implications to Human Rights. 2009. http://www. 2007 ‘Philippines’ in: Freedom House Special Reports Countries at Crossroads IDLO. A criminal bargain: the state and security in Guatemala..
Test of our history??? A Thick Wall on the Murder Investigation of Munir Imparsial: Jakarta Martín Rodríguez Pellecer. 2009. The Honduran Coup: The Specter of Democracy. 1-33 Local Government Corruption Study (LGCS) is a research activity of the Justice for the Lopez Wui. 151 . in Envio Karapatan. The Rosenberg Case: A Guatemalan Labyrinth. 2009. Honduras. Memorial Center for Human Rights-Indonesia Support Group http://wpik. nd. 2006.pdf [accessed 27 May 2010] Michael Dodson.).). Andrew. Sept/Oct 2009. in Envio 311. ‘Campaigning against Corruption: The Case of the Transparency and Accountability Network’ in: Encarnacion Tadem. Karapatan: Quezon City Klinken. Law and Society. in Esses Human Rights Review Volume 3. International Consulting. in NACLA Report on the Americas September – October 2009. 16-17. 2007. Informe Final. Global Civil Society Movements in the Philippines Published in partnership with United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). 2006. 4-6. Jenny Pearce. pp. State of Authority. Jakarta. Localizing and Transnationalizing Contentious Politics. Glenda S. Madrid.envio. Project report. Sidney.’ Submission to the International Commission of Jurists. Boulder.org/Src/RFK_Papua_Report_11_12_04. counter-terrorism and human rights in Indonesia.1.45-64 Medea Benjamin. 2006. 7.). Julio 2009.org. 2009. Vol. The champion’s orphans: Honduras says goodbye to Sweden. 2009. Indonesia. Fride. Estudio de la Sociedad Civil en Guatemala. and of the Past. 2009. The State in Society in Indonesia.). Suzannah. Tim (ed. August 2009 Lindsey. Gerry van & Joshua Barker (eds.James Rodriguez. ‘Accounting for Atrocities in Indonesia’ in: Singapore Yearbook of International Law and Contributors. Final Report. April 2006. Year-end Report on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines. ‘Terrorism. Lanham. 2006. 4 December 2006.Cornell South East Asia Program: Ithaca Komnas Ham. Department of Peace Studies. 2009. Confronting Goldcorp: An interview With a Guatemalan Activist. Rusdi. 2009. 2006. Annual Report. 2009. Heri Sugianto & Cahyadi Satriya (eds. ‘Historical Reflections on Customary Land Rights in Indonesia’ in: The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology Vol. Michel Falisee & Beatriz Sanz-Corella. J. pp. The Protagonists of the coupe Foretold. 2009. in Envio. 29-45. Ma. http://www. El papel de la comunidad internacional en la crisis de Guatemala. McWilliam. June 2007. 10. The human Rights Ombudsman in Central America: Honduras and El Salvador Case Studies. pp. 2009. pp. Caveat. Organized Crime is Embedded in the Public Institutions. September 2009 Fride. No. Bradford. Jones. Madrid Marpaung. in Nacla Report on the Americas. 2009. New York: Lexington Books Margarita Puerto Gómez & Nils-Sjard Schulz. Southeast Asia Project Director. the National Human Rights Commission Indonesia Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Masyarakat. 2006. Number 1.Sydney: The Federation Press Linton. 2008. Vo 3/I August 2009 Leticia Salomón. 2008. pp. Teresa S (ed.ni/articulo/3579 Juan Hernandez Pico. Case Study of IDRC-supported Research on Security Sector Reform in Guatemala. International Crisis Group Juan Hernandez Pico. Comentario.
James.crs. 1. 2008. 2009. Number 4. in International Peacekeeping. pp. Gobierno de facto viola derechos humanos en Honduras. No. 2008. 123 – 151. 62-76. Panagtigum. The Marlin Mine in San Marcos Peter Benson. in Latin American Politics and Society. pp. Merijn.gov Petras.’ An Alternative Report to the United Nations Committee on Economic. presented at the Workshop on Adat Revivalism in Indonesia's Democratic Transition. Neoliberalism. September 2008. in collaboration with the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA). ‘Indonesia. Ko. 2008 Partogi Nainggolan.C.com/ Poor Program. Semi Annual Publication of SIAD Initiatives in Mindanao Convergence Asset Reform & Regional Development. in Political Science Quarterly Volume 118. Informe Final. 2009. Poltak.’ 1 October 2008. Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) Orlando J. ‘Philippines: The Killing Fields of Asia’ in: ZMagazine. Democratic Legitimacy and Public Insecurity: Crime and Democracy in Guatemala. Democratising Indonesia. Mocuta. Social and Cultural Rights at its 41 st session. 37. August 15. Country Conditions. 152 . pp.16. ‘Democratisation and Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations in Indonesia’ in: Journal of Contemporary Asia Vol.495-517 Nyman.NIAS Press:Copenhagen OMCT. November 2008. online available at www. and Robin Eastman-Abaya. The World Bank Office. 1. ‘Indonesia’ in: HIS Global Insight October 2009 Moniaga. ‘Addressing the Economic. Thesis for the Master of Arts in Conflict Studies and Human Rights. 2008. Pérez. Issue 162. CRS Report for Congress. 2006. 1. Utrecht University Nomura. Organized Crime. Edward Fischer and Kedron Thomas. 4. 2010. 26-27 March 2004 organized by Asia Research Institute. Social and Cultural Root Causes of Torture and Other Forms of Violence in the Philippines. 13 Issue 3. 2008. Honduran Political Crisis. Contesting the State and Corporations. Simona. vol. 2004. From Bumi Putera to Masyarakat Adat: a Long and Confusing Journey. ‘Guatemala’s Party Universe: A Case Study of Underinstitutionalisation’. Peace Brigidas International. 2009. 2006. Washington D. Mikaela.Climate for Investment & Trade. 2008. http://www. 50. 627 – 64. Accusation. Vol. 2004. 7 Agosto de 2009. 35. June 2009 – January 2010. Exploring socio-military organizations in East Kalimantan. series 4. Peter J. 2006. and the Sociopolitical Context of Guatemala’s New Violence.Mision Internacional de observación sobre la situación de los derechos humanos en Honduras. pp. 38-58. 2010.prsgroup. Nijhuis. Oscar Sánchez. 2009.. Indonesia. World Organization Against Torture. July 2006 Patrick Gavigan. Illicit Power Structures and Guatemala’s Threatened Peace Process. University of Singapore. Meyer. February 1. 2007. Batam Island. Latin American Politics and Society. Resocializing Suffering. in Latin American Perspectives. Metal Ming and Human Rights in Guatemala. November 2007. pp. Sandra. No. 23 May 2006 Political Risk Services. Vol. Congressional Research Service. 2006. The Challenges of Civil Society in the Era of Reformasi. “Questioning the role of NGOs and donor countries” in: Jentera Jurnalhukum Vol.
3. 2010.11 for the conduct of the survey) Tiwana. ‘The West Papua Report’ November-December 2004. local power and the peace process in Guatemala. Inc. 2009. in Conciliation Resources 1997. Local Target: The Campaign against a New WTO Round in the Philippines’ in: Encarnacion Tadem. Teresa S (ed. ‘Agrarian-Related Human Rights Violence’ Monday.11. “Preliminary Mapping: Legal Framework Related To Social Activities in Indonesia. Nancy Endrinal Parreño and Alinaya Fabros.). Jakarta.Advances and Setbacks in Indonesia. online available at http://www. 2007. Nickel for Your Life: Q’eqchi’ Communities Take On Mining Companies in Guatemala. December 2008. Global Civil Society Movements in the Philippines Published in partnership with United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). 1997. Press statement of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders. ‘Promoting Transparency and Accountability in the NGO sector’. 2009. Nathan Gilbert. ‘REDD in Indonesia: Forestry Policy and Indigenous’ Rights’. 2009. 25 October 2009. Henk. reflections and recommendations One World Action. Executive-Director. No year. 2008. Bernadinus. Indonesië na Soeharto. UN Special Representative. 2009. Women’s political participation in the Philippines. Lanham. Philippine Council for NGO Certification Steni . 2008. Nacla Report. Conversations. ‘Siding and acting intolerantly: Intolerance by Society and Restriction by the State in Freedom of Religion/Belief in Indonesia’ Report of Freedom of Religion/ Belief in Indonesia 2008. Perkumpulan HuMa 2010 Susan Fitzpatrick Behrens. Quezon City: Centro Saka. 2008. Contested Democracy and the Left in the Philippines after Marcos Monograph 58. Eugene L. 2009.pdf[accessed 2 August 2010] Schulte Nordholt.org/node/6177 Taskforce Mapalad. ‘Global Issues. Philippine Farm Workers’ in: Rural Development Review. ‘Philippines – Dangerous Signs for Civil Society.’ Civil Society Watch Programme. Kennedy Santos-Maranan. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Bert Bakker SETARA Institute. Sharon M. pp.66-73.) 2009.” Commissioned by theInternational Programme of Charity Commission for England and Wales Purna Samadhi. RFK. [year unknown]. Aida F. Hina JILANI 153 . Willy & Nicolaas Warouw (eds. Reformasi en restauratie. 1.PCD Press and Demos. Reframing Citizenship: Indigenous rights. Vol. New Haven: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies Quinsaat. 20 February 2008. Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of Human Rights Defenders on her visit to INDONESIA. 25 February 2009 UN Oficina del Alto Comisionado para los Derechos Humanos. Localizing and Transnationalizing Contentious Politics... by Ms. CIVICUS. January 2009 Soledad. 2008. 2004. May 2009 Quimpo. Mandeep S.Building-Democracy on the Sand. ‘Profile and Status. (funding support given by ICCO and 11.PSHK (Centre for Indonesian Law and Policy Studies). 24 March 2008 Tecson. 2009. Boulder. Fely I. online available at https://nacla.oneworldaction. No. New York: Lexington Books Rachel Sieder. Robert F.org/Resources/One%20World%20Action/Documents/PDF/IPG%20 report_final.
enlaceacademico. Civil Society Opposition to NonferrousMetals Mining in Guatemala.ohchr. pp. Guatemala: UNDP online available at http://www. Organised Crime and Human Rights in Latin America.Follow-Up to Country Recommendations Guatemala. A/HRC/10/12/Add. summary or arbitrary executions. political.Addendum. A/HRC/11/2/Add.. social. political. Promotion and Protection of all human rights. 325-350 Willian Stanley. online available at http://www2. Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the violations of human rights in Honduras since the coup d’état on 28 June 2009. Report of the SRSG on the situation of human rights defenders. civil. Dewi Damayanti.org.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/13session/A-HRC-13-66. and cultural rights.3 UN. A/HRC/13/66.7 UN. A/HRC/13/26/Add. economic. William Holden and Daniel Jacobson. 2008.gt UNDP. in International Journal of Voluntary and Non-Profit Organisations. 2007. 2010. Call (ed. Business as Usual? Justice and Police Reform in Post-War Guatemala. Case Studies on Handling Local Government Corruption’ by Taufik Rinaldi. including the right to development. 2008. 2009. Una Economia al Servicio del Desarrollo Humano? Informe Nacional del Desarrollo Humano 2007/2008. 113 – 158.C. Promotion and Protection of all human rights. 2009b. 2010. WOLA. 2007. October 2007. The Captive State. Marini Purnomo. pp. Informe sobre Desarrollo Humano para América Central 2009-2010. May 2007 154 . 2007. civil. and cultural rights. Philip Alston. Washington D.desarrollohumano.). Guatemala. Wola Special Report.: USIP. Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the activities of her office in Guatemala. 2009a. Washington. social. in Charles T.pdf UNDP.UN. 2007. Constructing Justice and Security After War. Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial. online available at http://www.org/basedocumental/biblioteca/documento/informe-sobre-desarrollo-humano-para-america-central2009-2010/ Washington Office on Latin America. 4. ‘Fighting Corruption In Decentralized Indonesia. including the right to development. economic. 19.Mission to Guatemala.1 UN. World Bank.
In these cases. They are critical of large scale economic projects (such as dams). and Brazil. Newly adopted legislation. external pressure and lobbying can be of great importance. while regional variation can also be considerable. After our initial exploration we concluded that partial democracies view the NGO-sector as an obstacle in particular fields. El Salvador. not all groups in society experience the same kinds of limitations. NGOs/ CSOs working on these issues often cooperate with groups emphasizing local community rights and environmentalist values. face a difficult task in the struggle to progress and participation in a global economy. Governments and corporations can come to view these NGOs/ GROs as an obstacle on the road to economic progress. Also the use of direct repression such as torture or extra-judicial killings is not widespread. partial democracies. or during certain periods when governments take decisions or are confronted with protests. Southeast Asia and Central America. but in particular in periods of increasing pressures. But the political space of human rights NGOs or NGOs working on resource issues can become contested in particular regions of the country. and minerals are contested by a variety of parties. We believe that many of the trends and measures described in our cases. and Guatemala. However. corporations and the government portray their challengers as criminals or terrorists. the policies and actions 155 . by focusing on partial democracies in these specific regions we aim to discern similar patterns and mechanisms. Examples of these practices come mainly from Latin America. Honduras. they have in common that political space is (being) restricted or under pressure. Interested parties such as landowners. such as Thailand. Brazil. 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. and chose two country cases in each region. On the one hand. In a number of these countries there is a local capacity to respond.Appendix: methodology and questionnaire Based upon our identification of three ideal types (authoritarian regimes. as well as Asian countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. a climate of fear. timber. vested economic interests of powerful groups in society. We decided to focus on two sub-regions. and forms of self-censorship. Nicaragua. the choice of cases provides for sufficient diversity to note important differences within the group of partial democracies. but its sporadic use is sufficient to create a chilling effect. They have written a report describing the civil society and NGO sector. are representative of experiences in other partial democracies that were not included in this study. such as Peru. On the other hand. Freely elected governments ruling countries in which huge inequalities still abound. such as CTMs. diverting attention from the issue at hand: the struggle about the rights to and protection of resources. focusing the attention exclusively on the illegal or violent incidents that occur. and war zones) we have chosen to do in-depth case studies focusing on partial democracies. Peru. we worked with local researchers who have done much valuable work. NGOs working on service delivery generally experience less pressure. criminal stigmatization can be an extremely important means and is widespread. and demand accountability. as well as the various response strategies. Big assets of these countries such as land. In each country. can be used to try particular groups. Although each of these cases is different.
The questionnaire is attached below. In our selection of NGOs we worked closely with the ICCO country liaisons and with our local researchers. 156 . Human Rights Watch. In each of the countries we have also interviewed with various local experts and outsiders. Most interviews lasted between one and two hours using a questionnaire as a flexible guideline instead of a rigid survey. however. this meant that we mostly interviewed with NGOs that belong to the ‘Peace building and Reconstruction’ division within ICCO. 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. and the recent trends and cases. such as political analysts at the Dutch embassy or sociology professors at local universities. 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. they assisted in the selection of non-ICCO-NGOs for interviews and often accompanied us during our fieldwork.as identified in figure 1. how they adapted themselves to the new situation or how they developed response strategies. In practice. In addition. Together with the ICC country liaisons we identified 10 to 15 NGOs that had experienced restrictions of their operational space. is the experience of local NGOs. Much of our data is based on academic literature and available reports from Freedom House. or Transparency International. 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. Hardly available in the public domain.
Do you know of other organisations (NGOs / GROs) that experience trouble? Do you think that there is in general a trend of diminishing space. How is your relation to the government? Does your organisation have any institutional links with the government? Which ones? How are the experiences? 12. b. does your organisation experience limitations in the possibilities to operate freely as a result of government policies and actions? a. actions and programmes. If yes. networking) with a view to avoid problems? 15. Which are the main achievements of your organisation? 10. What are the financial sources of your organisation? What is the importance of international donors? Who are the principal donor agencies? 7. Did you experience in any of the following phases? 1. how come? Does your organisation take particular measures (in terms of security measures. or not? Checklist for interviews with NGOs that experience problems. Which are the main programmes / projects your organisation? 4. could you give us a general overview? See checklist below. Entry 157 . What is the mission and what are the objectives of your organisation? 2. What have the most important changes been of / in your organisation in the past 5 years? 5. In general. In which parts of the country does your organisation work? 8. Do your counterparts experience problems? 16. Which national and international actors influence your operational space? On the job-trouble: General 14. public speech. What have been obstacles in the achievement of your work? State – civil society – NGO relations 11. If no. What is the history of your organisation? When was it founded? With which objectives? 3. Is your organisation part of networks of NGOs? Which ones? How are experiences? 13. What is the constituency of your organisation? Is it membership based? 9. such as the right to free speech. These six different dimensions of CSO-work can be restricted by government actions and policies.QUESTIONNAIRE Questions for NGOs General questions about work and functioning NGO 1. How big is your organisation in terms of staff and annual budget? 6. 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.
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. 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. Physical harassment: What kind of repressive (more open. 5. 3. media. 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 . 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. emergency measures. Operations Speech/advocacy Communication/contact Resources State protection On the job-trouble: Government actions and policies 17. 6. or other. demonstrations. 4. religious organisations.2. meetings. such as counter-terrorism measures. 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. Criminalization: Which repressive legislation (not specifically directed at NGOs). 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.
What features of your NGO/GRO or in the context around you have made this response the most feasible? 29.g. 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. networking. the campaign on military reform) c. Specific individuals (e. With specific partners? e.21. the Kalimantan-logging campaign. Which other (government or other) actions and policies have influenced the work of your NGO? 23. Cooptation: Have there been efforts to co-opt you or your NGO/GRO. the successful dropping of charges on criminal defamation has led to increased physical harassment) On the-job-trouble: Responses and best practices 27. the campaign about Munir. Specific kinds of actions (e. speech. Specific programs.g. What made you decide to respond in the way you did? What factors did you take into account? 28. Have responses on your side had counterproductive effects in the sense that other restrictive measures were applied more frequently or with more intensity? (e. or to influence in any other way their work or decision-making? Which actor was responsible for these attempts. Specific regions? d. Have you been able to make use of existing alliances or networks? 30. meetings. 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. fundraising) f. the spokespersons) b.g.g. Which parts of your organization have experienced restrictions and limitations? a. The existence of the organization as such has been threatened 26. e. the leaders or directors. 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 .g.g. 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. demonstrations. or campaigns (e.
National federation of farmers. Belinda E. Counsellor Political Affairs/ Deputy Head of Mission. Billy de la Rosa. (MCPI) 4. Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao. Deputy Executive Director. Sicat. ISIS International (women organization) 5. Balaod Mindanao (legal assistance for agrarian reform) 3. founder of the Institute for Popular Democracy. Butch Olano. Foundation for the Philippine Environment and the Education for Life Foundation 2. (APFTI) 8. It happened that we spoke with NGO representatives in Manila who are actually based in Mindanao. Jeffrey R. KAISAMPALAD Manila/ Non-ICCO partners 1. Marion Cabrera. Inc. Ordoñez. It also happened that we interviewed NGO representatives in Davao whose NGO is actually based in Manila. Eugene L. OIC Operations Group and Head. Narciso Jover. Microfinance Council of the Philippines. ATM (alliance against mining) 7. Randy David. Advocacy Division. Ed de la Torre. Kaka Bag-ao. Mindanao Microfinance Council (MMC) 3. Urban Poor Associates 6. Professor Sociology at the University of the Philippines and columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer 4. Advocate of Philippine Fair Trade. (NATCCO) (cooperative) 9. Allan Robert I. Alyansa Tigil Mina. Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands 3. Centro Saka Inc. Sylvia Paraguya. Chairperson. Vicente Toring and Ester Reluna. Tecson. VSO and current regional coordinator for ICCO in Bali. Anita van de Haar-Conijn. National Confederation of Cooperatives. Ed Quitoriano. farm workers and advocates 7. this was due to a large conference that was held in Davao at the time of our visit. Vicente Roaring. Dennis Murphy.INTERVIEWS Interviews Philippines Manila/ ICCO-partners361 1. Haribon Foundation 8. 160 . National Coordinator. Armando D. de la Paz. (AFRIM) 361 It should be noted that we have spoken with NGO representatives where and whenever they were available. Inc. Executive Director. Ruel. Task Force Mapalad (TFM). Philippine Agrarian Reform Foundation for National Development (PARFUND) 4. (CSI) (research on agrarian issues) 6. current board member for the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement. National Coordinator. PhilNET (agrarian reform) 2. Inc. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) Davao/ ICCO-partners 1. Garganera. Max de Mesa. Jesus Vicente C. Indonesia 5. Venus Betita. TRICOM (tri-people in Mindanao) 2. Jarilla.
IDIS (aerial spraying campaign) 3. Lia Esquillo.Davao/ Non-ICCO partners 1. Pakisama (land rights) 2. Ampon and Soc Banzuela. Atty. Mindanao People Council (MPC) (peace monitoring and land rights) 161 . Arnado.
Asep Yunan Firdaus. Azriana. Consortium for Agrarian Reform 3. JKMA Aceh 6. Executive Director of Praxis. Indri. the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (previous ICCO-partner) 6. Executive Coordinator of HuMa. Association for Community and Ecologically Based Law Reform 4. Donatus K. Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago 2.. Indria Fernida A. Program Officer for Civil Society and Democracy for the TIFA Foundation 6. Executive Director of VHR Media and FX Rudy Gunawan. LBH Aceh 162 . Deputi Bidang Riset dan Kampanye of KPA. Al Araf and Bhatara Ibnu Reza. Do Karim (interview in the Netherlands) 10. ELSAM Aceh/ ICCO-partners 1. Yuwono. Michael Mori. Kontras Jakarta/ Non-ICCO-partners 1. Sekjen and Khairani Arifin for RPuK.Interviews Indonesia Jakarta/ ICCO-partners 1. Tikar Pandan (interview in the Netherlands) Aceh/ non-ICCO partners 1. active in the LGBT community 4. Directur Pelaksana of YRBI. PBI. Executive Director of Infid. Raharja Waluya Jati. Harley and Budi Arianto. Syarif. Deputy 1 Coordinator. Koalisi NGO Ham 7. Human Rights Research Coordinator of Imparsial. Desy Setiawaty. Yaysan Rumpun Bambu Indonesia 3. ICW 2. Azhari Aiyub. Mr. Antonio Pradjasto. Women Volunteer Team for Humanitarian [sic] 4. founder of HuMa 5. Editor in Chief for VHR Media 3. Permata Aceh 9. Secretary General of AMAN. project coordinator IOM. Flower Aceh 8. Peace Brigades International 7. Demos. Marut. Reza Idria. Afridal Damin. Abdon Nababan. Herryadi. Askhalani for Gerak Aceh 5. Iwan Nurdin. Sanusi M. International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development 5. Sandra Moniaga. Monica Tanuhandaru. Evi Zain. Resource Management and Development Institute for Social Transformation 2. Andi K. Nazarudin Thaha. Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies 7.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.