A G20 FRENZY: Silencing democratic space, false solutions, and constitutional betrayal

Currently, Indonesia is hosting the G20 Summit in Bali. On this island, the country’s elites are planning for the future of the world. However, the event titled “Recover Together, Recover Stronger” is only to strengthen transactions to enrich oligarchs from countries contributing 3/4 of global emissions.

Instead of involving the public in the conversation about the future of people and the environment, the government silenced public participation in order to secure the government’s image in the eyes of the international community. All civil society activities held in Bali were intimidated and dispersed by state officials, including people who were direct victims of environmental damage. For civil society, the situation in Bali has become tense due to the excessive number of security personnel. Meanwhile, state leaders are discussing “false solutions” to prevent the climate crisis.

“While we were in Bali, we tried to ask the community in a discussion with students at Udayana University. We discussed clean energy and democracy. It turns out that the living space of people is getting narrower. The government has always said that development is carried out for the welfare of the people, while in fact, many communities are impoverished and marginalized by the National Strategic Project (PSN). Various land grabbing occurred, accompanied by criminalization and silencing. Nature is damaged by dirty energy sources,” said Pratiwi Febri from the LBH Indonesia Foundation.

The government should not have to worry and open up the widest possible democratic space for civil society. The G20 Summit forum that took place in Bali is currently only an exclusive forum of oligarchs who hijack people’s living space. Civil society’s resistance to elite ideas is silenced in favor of a single narrative belonging to the government.

“The last two weeks, or even before, have also been repressive periods. Greenpeace wants to campaign creatively with cycling campaigns along the Pantura (north coastal areas of java island) and visit communities affected by the climate crisis, such as communities affected by sea level rise in Pekalongan, Demak, and Semarang, communities experiencing coal pollution in Marunda, and the Lapindo tragedy area. However, the creative and peaceful action was clashed with violence through a mass organization designed to stop us in Probolinggo,” said Leonard Simanjuntak of Greenpeace Indonesia.

The state’s repressiveness during the G20 elite party is strong evidence that democracy in Indonesia, guaranteed by the constitution, is moving backwards. The G20 presidency is not a means for the recovery of communities, urban poor women, farmers, migrant workers, marginalized women who have been squeezed by environmentally damaging investments. Hundreds of billions of state money have been poured into securing the wealth of the country’s leaders who have many Human Rights issues in their countries.

“We are urging for the democratization of energy which is never clearly managed and planned by the government. Vital resources for the people are under the control of the state. But we see how energy procurement is so corrupt. It damages nature and is being protested everywhere and damages the living space of the people. Many energy transition projects and false solutions have turned out to encourage the destruction of nature, water, pollution, and also impoverish the people,” said Arip Yogiawan, Head of Campaign and Public Engagement of Trend Asia.

“It is not the people who are facilitated to recover by the state, not women who have difficulty accessing clean water, health and public services. The G20 is a forum for investors who take advantage of the pandemic, climate crisis and more to enrich themselves. The G20 continues to talk about “investing” women, but they do not recognize systemic inequalities that stand in the way of equality. They cover up the fact that there are systemic problems and propose false solutions. Women who discussed and conveyed their aspirations were terrorized, stalked, and monitored throughout the G20 event. We are back to the authoritarian era,” said Arie Kurniawati of Women’s Solidarity.

Gerak Rakyat (People’s Movement) is a civil society alliance consisting of 350 Indonesians, XR Indonesia, Satya Bumi, Pikul Foundation, Public Virtue Research Institute, WALHI, Greenpeace Indonesia, Women’s Solidarity, Institute of Sublime Civilization, Action! For Gender, Social, and Ecological Justice, Trend Asia, and LBH Indonesia Foundation.

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