Disabled Indonesian protesters descend on Jakarta

Groups call on Widodo to make good vow to establish commission safguarding rights of people with diabilities
Disabled Indonesian protesters descend on Jakarta

People with disabilities hold a banner on their May 18 march demand the establishment of a national commission to protect them from discrimination in Indonesia. (ucanews.com photo)

Some 500 people with disabilities from fourteen organizations across Indonesia marched to President Joko Widodo's official residence demanding that he fulfill a promise to establish a national commission to ensure their rights.

The march was organized by the National Coalition of Disability Organizations, which said disabled people in Indonesia are often discriminated against especially with regard to education and employment.

"Currently [people with disabilities] are handled only by the Ministry of Social Affairs," march coordinator, Mahmud Fasa, told ucanews.com.

"Whereas they need education and acknowledgement of their rights which means [the government] must involve the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Law and Human Rights," he added.

During his 2014 presidential campaign, Widodo signed the Suharso Charter to give priority to the disabled should he win the presidential race. The charter was named after Suharso, a medical doctor and national hero who helped Second World War victims, many of whom were amputees.  

"Today we want the president to realize his promise," said Fasa

A law on people with disabilities was passed in 2016. It mandates the government establish a commission via presidential decree. "However, so far, there is no sign that he will do it," he said.

Grace Caroline, a visually impaired woman who went to the protest with a group from Jakarta Archdiocese, said disabled people have been denied their right to education.

"I am often rejected when I apply to schools," she said, adding that she hoped a commission would help her and others get an education and end discrimination against the disabled.

People with disabilities march to Indonesian President Joko Widodo's palace on May 18 to demand the establishment a national commission to protect them from discrimination. (ucanews.com photo)


Aris Hardiyanto, a quadriplegic from Central Java, said that Widodo has been president for nearly three years but has yet to fulfill his promise to disabled people. "We need the president's to help end discrimination against us," he said.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, a Catholic layman from the law and human rights division of Jakarta Archdiocese said that the commission would answer the needs of people with disabilities who have not received adequate care from the government.

"There is no reason for the government to delay the establishment of the National Commission for Disability because the law has recommended it," he said.

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"It will ensure them a good education and in the end they will get good jobs," he added.

Faisal Fahmi, from the Ministry of State Secretariat, who met protesters, said the establishment of a commission is in process. He told them the president would issue a presidential decree but did not say when.

According to government report, there are some 8 million people with disabilities in Indonesia.

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