Some lawsuits filed with the intent of proving Barack Obama ineligible to be president make arguments that Barack Obama’s 4 years in Indonesia somehow erased his American citizenship.
In Philip Berg’s case, Hollister v Soetoro, we see some Indonesian laws cited. These are not as easy to find as a corresponding US law would be, but your diligent Obama Conspiracy Theorist has come up with them.
A number of claims are made in the suit for which no documentation is offered, for example the statement “All Indonesian students were required to carry government Identity cards.” Without a source, it’s not possible to verify the statement. We can’t deal with those here.
Here’s the first Indonesian law reference from Hollister:
27 Indonesia did not allow foreign students to attend their public schools in the late 1960’s or 1970’s, and any time a child was registered for a public school, their name and citizenship status was verified through the Indonesian Government. See Constitution of Republic of Indonesia (Undang-Undang Dasar Republik Indonesia 1945), Chapter 13, Law No. 62 of 1958 (all citizens of Indonesia have a right to education). The school record, attached hereto as Exhibit “B”, indicates that Soetoro’s name is “Barry Soetoro;” his nationality is “Indonesia;” and his religion as “Islam”. There was no way for Soetoro to have attended school in Jakarta, Indonesia legally unless he was an Indonesian citizen, as Indonesia was under tight rule and was a Police State. See Constitution of Republic of Indonesia (Undang-Undang Dasar Republik Indonesia 1945), Law No. 62 of 1958. These facts indicate that Soetoro is an Indonesian citizen, and therefore he is not eligible to be President of the United States.
Looking at the paragraph we see these Indonesian law claims:
- Indonesia did not allow foreign students to attend their public schools in the late 1960’s or 1970’s
- Any time a child was registered for a public school, their name and citizenship status was verified through the Indonesian Government
- There was no way for Soetoro to have attended school in Jakarta, Indonesia legally unless he was an Indonesian citizen
No argument is provided for the truth of these claims save the Indonesian Constitution Chapter 13 and Indonesian Law No. 62 cited. Law No. 62 has nothing to do with education or identity cards, so we we’ll save that law for later. The Constitution Chapter 13 does talk about education. It says:
Chapter XIII. Education
1. Every citizen has the right to education.
2. The government shall establish and conduct a national educational system which shall be regulated by law.
The government shall advance the national culture.
Frankly I am at a loss as to how “There was no way for Soetoro to have attended school in Jakarta, Indonesia legally unless he was an Indonesian citizen” can be inferred from this article of the Indonesian Constitution. Further there is nothing about verifying identity.
Having struck out finding any valid application of the cited Indonesian laws to Berg’s claims, we move on to the next section.
28. Under Indonesian law, when a male acknowledges a child as his son, it deems the son, in this case Soetoro, an Indonesian State citizen. Constitution of Republic of Indonesia, Law No. 62 of 1958 concerning Immigration Affairs and Indonesian Civil Code (Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Perdata) (KUHPer) (Burgerlijk Wetboek voor Indonesie).
Better luck this time because Law No. 62 does deal with citizenship. The entire law 62 is too long to paste here, but a copy in English is on the UNHCR web site for your review.
The facts are that Barack Obama’s mother married an Indonesian national (Lolo Soetoro) and that they all moved to Indonesia when Barack Obama was 6 years old.
First, Berg’s argument is predicated upon “a male acknowledges a child as his son” which doesn’t seem to apply. It was never said the Lolo Soetoro fathered Barack Obama. This law if it exists (it is not part of Law No. 62) it would reasonably be analogous to an “affidavit of paternity” such as we have the the United States. I don’t see this language as applicable to an adoption (if indeed there ever was one). Law No. 62 lists who is an Indonesian Citizen. Most are not relevant. This one is of interest:
(1)A foreign child of less than 5 years age who is adopted by a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia acquires the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia, if such an adoption is declared legal by the Pengadilan Negeri [state court] at the residence of the person adopting the child.
However, Obama was over 5 years old when he went to Indonesia so it does not apply. Law No. 62 says nothing about a child 5 years or older acquiring citizenship.
The rather complicated Article 3 is of interest. It says that a child cannot acquire Indonesian citizenship if it would create dual citizenship unless the child is able to renounce said citizenship (which an American child is unable to do).
(1)A child outside a marriage of a mother who is a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia or a child out of a legal marriage, but who has in a case of divorce been assigned to the care of its mother, a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia, who follows the nationality of the father, a foreigner, may present a petition to the Minister of Justice in order to acquire the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia, if, after, having acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia, it possesses no other nationality or states at the same time to have released another nationality according to the procedure stipulated by the legal provisions of the country of origin and/or according to the procedure stipulated by the agreement on the settlement of the bi-nationality between the Republic of Indonesia and the country in question.
Of course there is no “legal provision” of the United States whereby a minor could release his US Citizenship. This is similar to 5h which also restricts citizenship to those for which it would not create dual citizenship.
h.have no nationality, or have lost his nationality if the petitioner acquires the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia or states at the time to have released another nationality according to the legal provisions of the country of origin or according to the legal provisions of the Agreement on the settlement of the bi-nationality between the Republic of Indonesia and the country concerned.
Article 7 deals with the options for Indonesian citizenship for Obama’s mother (probably not relevant but included for reference).
(1)A foreign woman married to a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia, acquires the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia, if and when she makes a statement as to that effect within 1 year after contracting said marriage, except in case when she acquires the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia she possesses still another nationality, in which case the statement may not be made.
(2)With the exception as mentioned in para 1 the foreign woman who marries a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia also acquires the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia one year after the marriage has been contracted, if within that one year her husband does not make a statement as to release his citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia.
Said statement may only be made and only results in the loss of the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia if by such a loss the husband does not become stateless.
(3)If one of the statements mentioned in para 1 and 2 have been made, the alternative statement may not be made.
(4)The statements mentioned above shall be made to the Pengadilan Negeri or the Representation of the Republic of Indonesia at the residence of the person making such a statement.
Again, the principle of no dual citizenship prevents the acquisition of Indonesian citizenship:
(1)The citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia acquired by a husband is automatically valid for his wife, except if, after the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia has been acquired, the wife possesses still another nationality.
(2)The loss of the citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia by a husband affects automatically his wife, except if the wife will become stateless.
Next item from the lawsuit:
29. Furthermore, under the Indonesian adoption law, once an Indonesian citizen adopts a child, the adoption severs the child’s relationship to the birth parents, and the adopted child is given the same status as a natural child and the child takes the name of his step-father, in this case, Soetoro. See Indonesian Constitution, Article 2.
Following is Article 2 of the Indonesian Constitution:
1. The Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat shall consist of the members of the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat augmented by the delegates from the regional territories and groups as provided for by statutory regulations.
2. The Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat shall meet at least once in every five years in the capital of the state.
3. All decisions of the Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat shall be taken by a majority vote.
Doesn’t make any sense to me either. I’m beginning to think Berg is doesn’t know the difference between the Indonesian Constitution and Law No. 62 from 1958. Article 2 of Law No. 62 is quoted above and only applies to children under 5 years of age.
Next from Hollister:
30. The Indonesian citizenship law was designed to prevent apatride (stateless) or bipatride (dual) citizenship. Indonesian regulations recognized neither apatride nor bipatride (stateless or dual) citizenship. Since Indonesia did not allow dual citizenship; neither did the United States (since the United States only permitted dual citizenship when ‘both’ countries agree); and since Soetoro was a “natural” citizen of Indonesia, the United States would not step in or interfere with the laws of Indonesia. Hague Convention of 1930.
In this Berg starts correctly: Indonesian law is designed to prevent dual citizenship; however, it does so with the full acknowledgment of the laws of other nations. What Berg fails to take into consideration is the provisions of Indonesian law already in place (cited preceding) that deal with dual citizenship, and prohibiting acquisition of Indonesian citizenship in that case when dual citizenship would otherwise be created. Therefore, US Law which does not allow a minor to renounce their citizenship, in no way interferes with Indonesian law, and there’s no reason to invoke the Hague Convention. And in any case, Indonesia is not a signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention to start with.
The way the Hague Convention is interpreted by Berg seems to be “any time US law conflicts with that of another country, we lose” and that’s just plain silly.
A discussion arose in comments on this article about whether President Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, had become an Indonesian citizen. Since those discussions, the passport records of Dunham have been obtained from the Department of State through a Freedom of Information Act request. Recall that under Indonesian law, as discussed in the article, dual citizenship is prohibited. We know for a fact that Dunham continued to hold a US Passport (only for citizens and nationals of the US) after her divorce to Soetoro in 1980. Here is the documentation.