Cause Lawyers in Indonesia: A House Divided
27 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2014
Date Written: July 13, 2014
This paper explores the tension between the Indonesian legal profession’s history of activism for social justice causes and its own incapacity to organize itself in a way that might better regulate and support the ideals underpinning the post-1998 reforms. We begin in Parts I and II with an overview of cause lawyering in Indonesia generally. In Part III we consider developments after 1998, when cause lawyers turned their attention again to the long-standing and elusive objective of a united and disciplined bar. We examine the failure of efforts to unite lawyers and remake them as a single profession. The remainder of the paper emphasizes the fluid and dynamic nature of cause lawyering in Indonesia through a case study of Indonesian Legal Aid’s advocacy on religious freedom. We highlight how one prominent cause lawyer, Munarman, rejected the values of the legal aid and human rights organizations he once led in favor of Islamist vigilante groups. The paper concludes that the splintered profession as it now stands reflects broader fractures in the wider reform movement as cause lawyers confront reform fatigue and political disillusion.
Keywords: Cause lawyers, Indonesia, religion
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