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Indonesia's Cultural Heritage Needs Preservation
Jimmy Hitipeuw | Minggu, 28 November 2010 | 04:52 WIB

Defiant: Balinese dancers perform during a cultural parade at the New Year's Eve celebration in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, today - despite threats of a terror attack

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com - UNESCO has pointed out that many forms of intangible cultural heritage are in danger of extinction. Therefore, governments, non-governmental and local organizations are encouraged to appraise, protect and utilize their national heritage in order to maintain the cultural diversity of all countries, within the overall trend of globalization.

And for Indonesia to protect the objects involved and to prevent them from being claimed by other countries, it should have a cultural heritage data center. Damos Dumoli Agusman, Indonesian consul general in Frankfurt, Germany, said here on Friday a cultural heritage data center was needed not only for data collection or archiving but also for protecting Indonesia’s intellectual property rights.

"The data center is needed to protect our cultural heritage and intellectual property rights and to prevent them from being claimed by other countries," said Damos, who is Indonesia to attend a national seminar on intellectual property rights in Bandung, West Java, on November 25-26, 2010.
According to Damos, the seminar was organized in cooperation with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Culture and Tourism Ministry, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The World Intellectual Property Organization - created in 1967 to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world - is one of the 16 specialized agencies of the United Nations.

According to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, WIPO currently has 184 member states, administers 24 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. WIPO was formally created by the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization, which entered into force on April 26, 1970.

Under Article 3 of this Convention, WIPO seeks to "promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world." WIPO became a specialized agency of the UN in 1974. Therefore Damos said Indonesia has been cooperating with WIPO in a bid to protect and preserve the national cultural heritage through capacity building and transfer of technology.

Indonesian cultural heritage items which have been recognized by UNESCO include  Batik, the Angklung (traditional musical instrument made of  bamboo, Wayang (traditional Javanese puppets featuring in shadow plays), Gamelan (tradition percussion music instrument from f Bali and Java). In October 2009, UNESCO officially recognized Batik as an Indonesian cultural treasure.

During a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Intangible Heritage, held from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, 2009 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, UNESCO  made public its decision to recognize Batik as a unique hallmark of Indonesia’s heritage. In February 2010, UNESCO  awarded Indonesia four certificates, three stating that it recognized three intangible cultural heritages and one stating its recognition of the country’s efforts to preserve its culture.

The three intangible cultural heritages were batik, a method of decorating fabric with a special dyeing techniques producing specific patterns, wayang, a traditional shadow puppet play, and kris, a traditional ceremonial dagger. The certificates were symbolically handed by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, to Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik and Coordinating Public Welfare Minister Agung Laksono.

After the awards were given, Agung said, the country should preserve the heritage to prevent the recognition from being withdrawn.  Then at the fifth Session of the Inter-Governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (IGC-ICH) in Nairobi, Kenya, on Nov 17, 2010, UNESCO decided to include Angklung in its list of intangible cultural heritage.

The angklung now joins the wayang (the Javanese shadow puppet theater), the keris (the Javanese ceremonial dagger) and batik among the Indonesian representatives in the list. I Gusti Ngurah Putra, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said the government welcomed the recognition granted by the UNESCO.

"The reason the angklung was inscribed to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is because it has deep philosophical values for humanity, such as cooperation, respect and social harmony," he said.
In addition to the four items Indonesia now boasts on the list of intangible cultural heritage, the country also has seven sites on Unesco’s list of world heritage sites.
Three of them -- the Borobudur monument, the Prambanan temple complex and the Sangiran Early man site, all in Central Java -- are on the list of world cultural heritage. The other four -- the Komodo, Lorentz and Ujung Kulon national parks, as well as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra -- are listed as world natural heritage.
In the light of all these, Damos Dumoli Agusman said all elements in Indonesia should realize the importance of archiving and the national cultural heritage.
"We should begin to realize the importance of archiving our national cultural objects to make other countries think twice before wanting to claim them," Damos said.
He said the government was currently collecting data on national cultural  heritage items from Sabang to Merauke using  WIPO methods.

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