INDONESIA: Denial of Right to a Nationality


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-02-2001
ISSUES: Refugees, IDPs & Asylum seekers,

UA-02-2001: 100 Stateless persons deserve citizenship

INDONESIA – Denial of Right to a Nationality

More than 100 stateless people in the Tegal Alur slum in Cengkareng, West Jakarta, have appealed to the government to grant them Indonesian citizenship. All of the stateless people are Chinese migrants who lead meager lives, mostly working as laborers, fishermen or vendors. Many of them were born in Cengkareng and have given birth to children there.

Information provided by Solidaritas Nusa-Bangsa (SNB, an organisation that fights discrimination in Indonesia) shows that these people are officially stateless, but have taken part in every general election with orders to vote for Golkar (party previously led by Suharto). They are still targets for extortion whenever they need to process identity papers, despite the fact that Government Regulation No. 1/1950 on citizenship and Law No. 62/1958 on ethnic origins stipulate that migrants from eastern Asia who do not actively reject Indonesian citizenship are regarded as Indonesian citizens, without having to acquire an Indonesian citizenship certificate.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that
\”Everyone has the right to a nationality\”.

SNB has identified 63 discriminative regulations on citizenship issued since 1965 (when Suharto rose to power), which the Ministry of Justice has so far refused to revoke. SNB suspects that the regulations were the reason why these residents of Tegal Alur have remained stateless and uncertain about their status.


The stateless people were some of the 208,820 Chinese migrants registered by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1992, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Indonesia and China on the revocation of China’s claim over the citizenship of the migrants.

The Indonesian government then offered the Chinese migrants the chance to choose between Indonesian and Chinese citizenship. Of the 208,820 migrants, 150,000 of them applied for Indonesian citizenship. As many as 110,000 of these 150,000 obtained Indonesian citizenship through a presidential decree, while 40,000 were rejected because they failed to meet certain requirements.

However, it appears that the ‘rejected’ applications of these 40,000 also fulfilled all administrative requirements.

The government issued Presidential Instruction No. 6/1995 on accelerating the process for applying for citizenship, but this has failed to help the stateless Tegal Alur residents obtain Indonesian citizenship.


Please write to the Minister of Justice, with copies to the President of Indonesia and the Head of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), requesting that the stateless persons of Tegal Alur slum who have applied for Indonesian citizenship be granted their right to a nationality. Further, request that the Ministry of Justice immediately revoke the 63 discriminatory regulations on citizenship that are still preventing justice for minorities in Indonesia, about which they have already been notified.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear Minister 
I have learnt about the terrible situation of over 100 ‘stateless’ persons who have been living for many years in difficult circumstances in Tegal Alur slum in Cengkareng, West Jakarta. I understand that they have applied for Indonesian citizenship, and that they have a strong case under Government Regulation No. 1/1950 on citizenship and under Law No. 62/1958 on ethnic origins, which stipulate that migrants from eastern Asia who do not actively reject Indonesian citizenship are regarded as Indonesian citizens, without having to acquire an Indonesian citizenship certificate. Yet their legitemate claims are yet to be recognised by the Indonesian government. Kindly review situation urgently. 
All persons have a right to a nationality (under Article 15 of the UDHR), and Indonesian is the only nationality appropriate for these persons, which places the onus on the Indonesian government to fulfil this obligation as a signatory to the UDHR. <
I would like to take this opportunity to also remind you, in the lead-up to the UN World Conference Against Racism, of the urgency of revoking any regulations left over from the past regime that discriminate unfavourably against any ethnic, religious or cultural group in Indonesia. I understand that there are over 60 such regulations that need to be removed to enable justice for people such as the stateless people of Tegal Alur. 
yours sincerely 
Mr. Ihza Mahendra YUSRIL 
Minister of Justice and Human Rights 
Uahi Utoyo Usman S.H., Menteri Kehkiman, 
JI. H.R. Rosuna Said Kav. 6-7, 
Kuningan, Jakarta Selatan, Indonesia 
Fax: 62-21- 525 3095 
SALUTATION: Dear Minister <
Mr. Abdurrahman Wahid 
President, Republic of Indonesia 
Presidential Palace, Jakarta 
Istana Negara, Indonesia. 
Fax: 62-21- 345 7782 
SALUTATION: Your Excellency 
Mr. Asmara Nababan 
Secretary General 
Komnas HAM 
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng 
Jakarta Pusat 
FAX: (6221) 392 5227 
SALUTATION: Dear Mr. Nababan 

*** Please send a copy of your letter to AHRC Urgent Appeals: 
Fax: +(852) 26986367 

Please contact the Urgent Appeals coordinator if you require more 
information or wish to report human rights violations. 
AHRC Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission 
Unit D, 7th Floor, Mongkok Commercial Centre, 
16 – 16B Argyle Street, Kowloon, HONGKONG 
Tel: +(852) – 2698-6339 
Fax: +(852) – 2698-6367 
Please contact the AHRC Urgent Appeals Coordinator if you require further information or to make requests for further appeals. 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-02-2001
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Refugees, IDPs & Asylum seekers,