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PSPD  l  People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

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  • 2002.08.24
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THE HISTORY OF ITS EXISTENCE

Surabaya Legal Aid Institute (LBH Surabaya: Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Surabaya) was established in 1978 by The Indonesian Bar Association. It has provided legal aid for poor people in all cases. From 10 November 1987 until 2001 LBH Surabaya was one of the branch offices of the Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI).

During the last ten years, LBH Surabaya has been focusing on violations of human rights, such as economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights. All the cases handled by LBH Surabaya should have a public and structural perspective. Lastly, LBH Surabaya decided on the advocacy for laborers, peasants, the urban poor community, fishermen, and all human rights activists who are victimized by state repression.

The decision to merge with the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), which has a centralized and relatively closed character, is a consequence of their similar point of view and their fighting strategy against Suharto’s authoritarian political system. In the process, along with the rise of the pro-democracy movement in Indonesia, LBH Surabaya has become a part of the democratic movement for human rights in East Java (Jawa Timur) Province. LBH Surabaya has become an inspiration and partner, ready to work with anyone having the same commitment.

LBH Surabaya is no longer merely playing its own role as part of the centralized organization, the YLBHI. Support from academic organizations, local NGOs, student movement activists, local religious figures, and real support from journalist circles make a power which is able to guarantee the optimum of LBH Surabaya struggle in East Java Province.

In the national meeting of the YLBHI in 2000, it was agreed that the YLBHI would transform its organization into a federation in the near future, so LBH Surabaya would have more autonomy and a strong social legitimization. The decision to change this organization is a certainty for LBH Surabaya, which all this time has been struggling for democratic principles and against any form of domination and centralization of power. Furthermore, the autonomy of the government’s bureaucracy has turned into a new reality, which potentially can drive social conflict escalation in the region. This does not mean that the changing process can be done instantly. The organizational format conformity and capacity improvement still is becoming an important part of the organizational change.



VISION

LBH Surabaya as a civil society organization sees that the implementation of state policy has to protect the people in fulfilling their economic, social, cultural rights and also the basic freedoms of humans.

The transitional process must be based on people’s participation. The political transition cannot be done in the right manner without people’s participation. LBH Surabaya believes that people power must be positioned as a power for change. Peasants, fishermen, laborers, and urban poor people are forming into society groups which are becoming partners in the attempt to build justice and civil supremacy.

Forming a ‘society order’ that respects social justice principles is the goal. Social justice principles are worked for with state policy implementation that is able to carry out the people’s welfare, along with the growth and the expansion of people power that is able to control the state implementation. The awareness of a ‘society order’ which has a real power, must grow from relationships based on gender balance, and also respect for human rights.

MISSION

The Role of LBH Surabaya is directed toward efforts to urge the realization of a constitutional state which guarantees social justice. The laws are not a compromise between state institutions and market power. Instead, laws should be formulated on the basis of society’s aspirations and demands. In here lies the main agenda focus of the ‘structural legal aid’ work. LBH Surabaya has these missions:

First, to urge political transformation based on people’s movements and gender justice. This political transformation is aimed at opening chances to correct the suppressing power relations that have been going on these days, where the majority of Indonesian society, like peasants, fishermen, laborers and urban poor, become the victims.

Second, to promote and fight for the guarantee of economic, social, and cultural rights’ implementation. Only when the economic resources lie in the hand of the people will true welfare be realized. Otherwise our society will become only consumers and providers of cheap workers and also a receiver of garbage and waste from the production process.

Third, strengthening the enforcement and protection of civil and political rights. These things absolutely need to be done to support the endeavor to promote and to fight for those rights mentioned above. The basic freedoms of human rights in civil and political rights are the first provisions for the opening of society’s opportunity to fulfill their rights.

STRATEGIC ROLES

1. Participating in urging the making of public policies which determine the guarantee of economic, social and cultural rights and also civil and political rights. The role no longer places LBH Surabaya as the main actor, but LBH Surabaya must place the people as the main actors in the interaction of making public policies, both at the local, national or even international level. The capacity improvement of civil society in the political process is a very important matter.

2. Playing roles together with the civil society to determine the direction for a political transition which is based on democratic principles, human rights and gender justice. To determine the direction for political transition means to initiate and to use public space based on civil society importance. At the same time, LBH Surabaya also takes an active role in eliminating all social, political and cultural obstacles which obstruct the political transitional process.

3. Facilitating the effort of empowering the civil society in struggling for its rights, especially for laborers, farmers, fisherman, and urban poor groups.

Those three strategic roles then, have to be synergically interpreted in activity programs in each division.

Divisions at the frontline for implementation consist of the Labor Division, Peasant Division, Fisherman Division, Urban Poor Community Division, and the Special Bureau, which is concerned with corruption, consumption, the environment, and parliament and the judiciary. LBH Surabaya also is developing a women’s rights defender institution, which is known as the Surabaya Forum for Women Advocacy (FAPS).

ACTIVITIES

As a civil society organization, LBH Surabaya carries out many activities such as: Litigation, Campaign, Networking, Popular Education, Information and Documentation, Organizing and Policy Studies.

FIGHT WITH THE PEOPLE FOR DEMOCRACY

LBH Surabaya’s advocacy can never be separated from the role of the society, especially those who become the victims of a suppressive and exploitative economic and political system. In the past two years, during the advocacy for society’s rights to manage the natural resources, LBH Surabaya has been involved in a struggle of thousands of peasants’ and fishermen’s families in East Java Province. LBH Surabaya has taken part in their struggle to defend and to get back their rights through many ways, such as in giving advocacy in court and in various forms of negotiation outside the court, campaigning for paradigm changes for policies of natural resources management, and also for people’s organization strengthening. During the transitional process of more than two years, not many state policies have been in favor of recognizing their importance, either at the local or the national level. The state seems to persist in following the previous development paradigm, by relying on big capital holders and integrating perfectly with the global market system. In that kind of condition, they have not fully trusted the justice system, which actually was never changed toward a better direction. Thus, LBH Surabaya’s priority is on a fighting strategy through the establishment of people’s organizations and through strengthening of their bargaining position.

Some of LBH Surabaya’s activities for the last period (2000-2001) are as follows:

The Labor Division has organized and made direct advocacy for 2,545 workers in the Surabaya, Sidoarjo, and Malang areas. These workers include industrial workers, transportation workers, hotel workers, contract workers, migrant workers, and state-owned company workers. LBH Surabaya has facilitated 27 labor organizations (Apa itu kok? Ada nama persatuan jaringan ini?). These labor organizations play an active role in influencing the local government’s policies on labor, especially in determining the wage standard.

The Peasant Division organizes and advocates for more than 3,100 peasants, including plantation peasants, forestry peasants, salt peasants, and seasonal cropping peasants. Peasant organizations have been established in 12 regencies, and all of them make up one peasant organization for East Java Province. Even though the organization is still in a stage of development, the peasants use this as an effective tool in their struggle to reclaim their own land, which was occupied by the capitalists and the state.

The Fisherman Division is a new division in LBH Surabaya, one year old. This division was an environmental division. Because of the increasing number of fishermen’s conflicts and the change of regional policy through autonomy, LBH Surabaya chose the fishermen as group that should be organized. One fishermen’s organization has been established in East Java Province. This organization’s activity is to support and strengthen the members to fight for fair justice in cases where the members have a structural conflict. The organization also set up many meetings of the members in order to eliminate horizontal conflict and gain awareness in criticizing the regional policy.

The Urban Poor Community Division is just the same as the Fisherman division in age. This division has organized 171 urban poor communities. This division sees the urban poor communities’ problems as having a trend of human rights violation in regards to civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights. This division is continuously organizing the beggars in Keputih, people who have a land case in the city and who have a problem with the cellular tower building.

The Corruption - Special Bureau was initiated to create the organization which is called MARAKs (Anti Corruption community in Surabaya), and this organization has been training for monitoring corruption in collaboration with Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW). After the training, all the participants agreed in forming a forum, namely GEBRAK (The Anti Corruption People Movement), in East Java Province.

The Consumption - Special Bureau is concerned with public consumption, such as of electricity, water, and communication. Because of the increasing number of consumer problems, this bureau provides legal aid to consumers whose rights have been violated.

The Women - Special Bureau has been organizing and made direct advocacy for more than 399 women, include peasants, laborers, rape victims, sexual harassment victims, and domestic violence victims. LBH Surabaya builds networks with all community elements which are concerned about women rights, such as NGOs. Since the majority of inhabitants in East Java province are Moslems, LBH Surabaya is also involved in facilitating a women crisis center in Pondok Pesantren (Islamic boarding school). LBH Surabaya takes critical action for every regional regulation that has an impact on gender injustice. LBH Surabaya has made an annual report on rape cases that happened in East Java province, which have been increasing by at least 20 % per-year.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT



The source of financial support for LBH Surabaya comes from individual and organizational donors at the national and international level. LBH Surabaya welcomes financial aid from the beneficiaries, and other unbinding financial aid as long as it will not contradict the LBH’s vision & mission. LBH Surabaya is accountable for using financial support to the LBH’s components.

LBH Surabaya

Jalan Kidal No. 6

Surabaya Indonesia.

Email: lbhsby@indo.net.id

Tel: 62 31 502 2273, 502 4826

Fax : 62 31 502 4717

Sudarto (The Labor Division of LBH Surabaya)
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