While Reformasi in 1998 has undoubtedly had a positive impact on democratisation, there has been a setback of democracy triggered, inter alia, by the rise of Islamist forces in Indonesia. In particular, Indonesia is facing increasing intolerant attitudes to the idea of the public sphere as an arena for citizen discourse and association. The public sphere is crucial for the expression and discussion of ideas, opinions, dreams, grievances, disagreements, etc. It is important, therefore, to nourish and sustain the public sphere and maintain its vibrancy in the face of encroaching authoritarianism and intolerance to diversity of opinion, critical thinking and democratisation.
One of Public Virtue’s strategies is to promote the compatibility of democracy, Islam, and freedom of expression by promoting Indonesian critical thinkers and activists who believe in democracy. By promoting their thinking, we aim to expand the capacity of young activists and the wider public to participate in the public sphere, express their opinions and engage critically in democratic alternatives that mobilize protest to control those in power and those who seek to limit democratic discourse.
Why intellectuals and activists? These are the people who make sure that tolerant conversation and exchange of ideas continue to take place in the public sphere. They are the ones who safeguard the openness of the public sphere. Their voices are crucial in building a public pressure that becomes a key factor for change in policy and practices.
In order to publish and disseminate A.E. Priyono’s critical thoughts, one of the founders of Public Virtue, we create Digital Platform Discussion: “A.E. Priyono Democracy Forum”