Monday, April 28, 2014

Empowering Village, Protecting Minority?

Empowering Village, Protecting Minority?
73.000 villages exist in Indonesia. This is one of essential reason why specific regulation on the villages need to be formulated in Indonesia. UU (Act) No. 6 Year 2014 regarding the The Village just inaugurated as one of biggest achievement of Indonesia Civil Societies in advocating the shifting paradigm of policy makers from centralized approach to development to decentralization, where villages will have autonomy to manage there administration, human resources and natural resources for the purpose of people's welfare. This writing is aimed to discuss about possibilities of improvement of protection of minority groups through The Village Act No. 6 Year 2014.  

Firstly, The Village Act content shows strongly opportunities for villages to use their local resources to fulfill the need of people, at the same time, the national government will provide financial support 1,4 Billion IDR (about 1,4 Million USD) to build the village as well as the neighboring areas. In term of authority, the village will have their own electoral system to elect the head of village, to select the suitable people to sit on the village's bureaucracy to support development. Including to hold human rights principles in governing the people (article 29), which she or he is not allowed to detriment the public interest.

Secondly, in regard to the previous point  "detrimental the public interest", Article 29 is clearly stated that the village head cannot discriminate his/her people on the basis of identity or certain group. In my opinion, this should be applicable for condition where the Village Head should respect to diverse groups and protect them from any harmful act caused by their ethnic, religious or gender identity. 

I am a bit optimistic looking at a window in the Village Act, to advocate for protection of Minority Rights in the village level, because 222 violation of minority rights in 2013 were happened in the village level. When the village head has stronger authority to protect the village territory as asset for development, in case of minority, it is also more powerful to protect the villages with diverse background from the violent groups coming from other village, because this Act allows the village authority to use local mechanism to protect their people and maintain peaceful state.   

With strong people participation that is also bold on the chapter six, where people must actively engage in the development planning, implementation and monitoring evaluation and support the village administration to create peaceful society, preserve and promote local wisdom regarding consensus building, collective work, and family-based approach in building relation.

However, this Act may express different story, when the person who is elected to be the Village Head has a narrow-minded perspective over good governance, human women's rights, and other principles than discrimination against minority and ignorance of public goods for minority definitely will occur. Therefore, people's political participation must be toned up. It is also important to always equip the village with critical thinking, they could play optimal roles as independent agency to stand-by with constructive criticism for Village authority to always prioritize public interest, instead of individual or group interest. On the other hand, Civil Societies also must equip the village bureaucracy with practical knowledge and skill on transformative leadership, program and financial management as commitment to principles of transparency and accountability and human women's rights as basis approach to any policy. ***

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