Ester Indahyani Jusuf

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2003


This profile was prepared when Ester Indahyani Jusuf was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Ester is campaigning to change people’s attitudes towards members of minority groups while pioneering change in discriminatory laws and regulations in the Indonesian legal system. By engaging various forms of media, such as film and radio, and public events, Ester is spreading awareness of how socially divisive and potentially dangerous prejudices and discrimination can be. She is encouraging public discourse on a topic that has long been avoided in the past. In a country where there has been a pattern of impunity for human rights abusers and a tendency to cover up important cases, Ester is working to change that pattern by leading investigations and documentations of important cases related to discrimination.
Ester is seeking the enactment of new legislation that would nullify all existing race- or ethnicity-based regulations and penalize discriminatory acts based on race and ethnicity. A proposed law she has drafted with those ends in view is currently under ministerial consideration. Ester and her associates are engaged in ongoing efforts to mobilize public support throughout Indonesia and internationally for the ratification of this crucial legal reform.
Ester has chosen to strategically focus her work on the systemic discrimination against Chinese Indonesians, as they are the group most explicitly targeted by discriminatory laws and regulations. The increased openness currently being experienced in Indonesia provides a chance for widespread change in both the system and in people’s attitudes. Groups that used to fear the discussion of this sensitive topic are increasingly supportive of her work. The relative freedom currently afforded the media and publishing industry is an opportunity to document and expose historic and recent injustices to influence public opinion and change attitudes.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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