ICIR 2021

The 3rd International Conference and Consolidation on Indigenous Religions

“Access to Justice: A call for literacy on interrelated issues and collaboration of interrelated sectors”

7-9 December 2021

Followers of indigenous religions, despite the Indonesian state’s recognition through Constitutional Court ruling No.97/2016, like other vulnerable and marginalized groups, still encounter considerable obstacles in accessing justice. In addition to regulations that require certain terms and conditions, and so restrict recognition and services, the existing justice system is still experienced as being complicated, expensive, and so undesirable by those vulnerable groups. Moreover, social, political, and historical burdens such as stigmas and exclusion are continually reproduced against followers of indigenous religions and other vulnerable and marginalized groups by wider society. In relation to access to justice, many have observed that today’s democracy in Indonesia is declining, and public space is shrinking to the point it is hampering various attempts to engage vulnerable groups to participate in democracy and development. Instead of being able to participate in democracy, as upheld by the ICIR 2 last year (on centering the margin), vulnerable and marginalized groups and even civil society organizations face the shrinking of public space.

Yet the shrinking of public space is in fact ambiguous, as some have also observed. Certain cases and issues, on the one hand, are highly contested. They include freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, gender and sexuality, corruption, agrarian, and labor issues. They are among the main issues attached to marginalized and vulnerable groups, including indigenous religion followers. Those who deal with these issues often face criminalization. The governance of these issues shrinks the public space and shows the regression of democracy. On the other hand, other cases and issues such as healthcare, education, and even legal identity continue to be deliberated and distributed by state agents. Not all issues, but the amount is significant. This at least shows that advocacy by civil society organizations work, some state agents function, community empowerment is effective, and citizens may access their rights. Indonesian democracy today therefore offers opportunities to develop, but also challenges which regress.

Within this context, justice, or access to it, may be articulated in broad and productive ways. It is of course about legality, but also beyond it. It is inseparable from political, economic, social, and cultural issues. Problems in relation to justice are both structural and cultural. Issues and problems in relation to indigenous religions are both in state regulations and services, but also in social exclusion and those issues are not only about religious freedom, but are also closely related to agrarian/environment, gender, labor and even corruption issues. Indigenous religion followers and other marginalized and vulnerable groups share citizenship issues, especially on access to justice, in common. For solutions, it is therefore significant to consider not only diversification of strategies but also collaboration among stakeholders. Access to justice calls for literacy on interrelated issues and a coalition of interrelated sectors.


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