Thursday, July 24, 2008

Children feel 'hurt' on their national day

Article taken from The Jakarta Post

The commemoration of National Children's Day turned sour Wednesday with the government refusing to allow children to read out their demand for the establishment of a special ministry of their own.

The request is the last point of a six-point declaration, titled "Voice of Indonesian Children", drafted during the just-concluded 7th Indonesian Children's Congress in Bogor, West Java.

The restriction, viewed as a denial of freedom of expression, took place right under the nose of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was among the state dignitaries attending the celebration at the Taman Mini Indonesia park in East Jakarta. It remains unclear if the President has been informed about the censorship.

Representatives of the children said the event organizers had forbidden them from reading out the sixth point for "political reasons".

The event was organized by the Social Services Ministry.

"We feel hurt by the restriction. What we know is that the declaration is just an expression of our ideas, so we should have been allowed to speak out," said Ajat Sudrajat, who was among the children who signed the declaration.

"We don't care if the ministry could only be established in the next 10 years or so. We just want to be heard."

Social Services Minister Bachtiar Chamsyah defended the restriction, but denied it was intended to disappoint the children.

He said he had talked to the children during the congress.

"I explained to them the condition of our country. It is impossible for the government to set up the ministry because it would increase the burden on the state budget.

"(The establishment of the ministry) is not that urgent. Maybe we can only make it come true within the next 20 years when our country's economy has improved."

He asked the children to stop complaining and demanding their own rights.

National Commission for Child Protection secretary-general Arist Merdeka Sirait said the restriction was evidence of the government's lack of commitment to addressing the problems that Indonesian children are facing.

"We urgently need a ministry that deals with children's affairs, as the government has failed to address children's problems, such as violence and child labor. There is no coordination among the related ministries in coping with the problems," he said.

The commission estimated about 6.5 million children in the country were forced to quit school last year in order to work.

Speaking to about 15,000 children during the ceremony, Yudhoyono called on related ministers and regional administrations to take steps to implement the declaration -- minus the special ministry for children's affairs.

"Ministries and regional administrations should actively participate in implementing the declaration. This is also part of our commitment to address children's problems in the country as we have ratified the UN Convention on Child Protection," the President said.

Voice of Indonesian Children

On Tuesday, July 22, 2008, we, the children of Indonesia, declared in the seventh National Children's Congress that we:
1. Will aspire to be creative, intelligent, qualified children and be protected from all acts of violence, exploitation, abandonment and discrimination.
2. Will need protection from the dangers of tobacco in order to grow and develop as naturally as possible.
3. Will increase our understanding and be conscientious toward healthy lifestyles and our reproductive health to avoid the dangers of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and the use of drugs.
4. Will unite children living in underprivileged, border and isolated regions with the help of proper infrastructure.
5. Will voice our aspirations through the regional children forum that will subsequently be passed to the Indonesian National Children's Congress as a platform to share information and education on civil democracy at the earliest stage in order to build solidarity among children and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Indonesia.
6. Will call for the need for a special ministry for children's affairs to respond to children's needs.

The government should react wisely instead of banning children to read out their demand! We should take a good care of our children if we want them to build this country into a better one.


Lorraine said...


It is indeed sad to ban the children's effort having a department representing their rights. I am a bit worried now, which message did those children get with this restriction, while they are our future? Later, they would not want to exercise their freedom of speech at all!

Anonymous said...

wow, even the children's freedom is limited

Unknown said...

Well said my goodness, let the children speak

Unknown said...

@ Lorraine: I'm with you, I'm worried. The government is coward, how can they expect the next generation to be the future leader if they can't even exercise the freedom of speech.

@ Koko: Sad, isn't it?

@ Marc Neilson: yes, let the children speak.

Rob Baiton said...

Do the children need a department of their own in order to ahve their voices heard? No.

However, there does need to be a specific directorate general within the social affairs department that has specific responsibility for children's affairs. (is there one yet?)

The idea of the children being treated in this way is good publicity for children and the fact that Indonesia is really about the "here and now" and not so much about the future.

Unknown said...

@ Rob: Maybe the children don't need specific department of their own, but they do need specific directorate general to take care of children's affair, and I don't thinks there is one yet.

But the thing is, if government could not provide that such demand they should allow children to read out their demands anyway, for the freedom of speech.

Rob Baiton said...

No problem with that...