Indonesia & East Timor News Updates - June 17-18, 2018

* Pornography charges dropped against Indonesian cleric Rizieq Shihab
* Police drop pornography case against Rizieq Shihab
* Police deputy chief says SP3 has no political motive
* Rizieq Shihab to return to Indonesia
* TNI personnel attacked in Puncak Jaya
* Novel Baswedan sees his attacker across his house
* Police end probe into blasphemy allegations against Sukmawati
* Fadli Zon: Gerindra will wait for Jokowi
* Indonesians feel safe, have confidence in police: Gallup
* The plight of refugees in Indonesia
* Ex-West Java Police chief inaugurated province's acting governor


Pornography charges dropped against Indonesian cleric Rizieq Shihab

ABC News - June 18, 2018

David Lipson -- Indonesian police have dropped pornography charges against hardline Indonesian cleric Rizieq Shihab after failing to find the person who uploaded the images.

Rizieq, the leader of Indonesia's Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), has been in exile in Saudi Arabia since being charged in May last year.

The charges related to a purported online chat between Rizieq and a supporter, which included naked images of the woman. Screenshots of the chat, including an apparent request from Rizieq for the explicit images, were shared on the internet last year.

Under Indonesia's anti-pornography laws it is illegal to view, store or share any images of explicit nudity, or to make anyone else be an "object or model" of pornography.

The same laws were used in 2010 to jail Indonesian pop star Nazril "Ariel" Irham after two homemade sex tapes leaked online.

One of the groups pushing hardest for Ariel to be locked-up was Rizieq's FPI, before he was himself charged under the same legislation last year.

Rizieq, who is married, has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying images of the chat are fake. After dropping the case, police made no reference to the legitimacy or otherwise of the chat.

"There was a formal request to stop the investigation by [Rizieq's] lawyer," National Police spokesperson Brigadier General Muhammad Iqbal said.

"Then, after cross-examination by the investigators, the case was dropped, because, according to the investigators, they haven't found the uploaders [of the online chat]."

Earlier this month Rizieq was visited in Saudi Arabia by former military strongman and presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto. It is believed the meeting was set up to discuss pairing Prabowo with Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.

Anies replaced popular Christian Governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama in 2016, after Ahok was charged with blasphemy. As leader of the FPI, Rizieq was integral in gathering momentum for the protests against Ahok and the charges that led to him being jailed.

In a video message to supporters, Rizieq thanked his lawyers, his supporters and God for delivering the good news. "And finally [thanks to] the Indonesian Government," he said.

"In particular the National Police of Indonesia. I appreciate them for giving my lawyers the original document ordering the case be stopped, so it could be passed on to me here in Mecca."

He also urged Indonesians to act peacefully, so as not to disturb national stability and security, in the upcoming local election and next year's presidential race.



Police drop pornography case against Rizieq Shihab

Jakarta Globe - June 18, 2018

Jakarta -- Police have ended their pornography investigation against firebrand Islamic cleric Rizieq Shihab, citing a lack of evidence.

Rizieq, who built his reputation as a promoter of a strict interpretation of Islam, often through hate speech, intimidation and violence, was seen gaining more political influence among those opposing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The cleric, who is the founder of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), fled to Saudi Arabia last year after screenshots of a lewd WhatsApp chat and nude pictures, allegedly exchanged between him and social activist Firza Husein, leaked on the internet. Both have denied the allegation.

"It is true that the investigators have closed the case; the investigators have the authority to do so," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammad Iqbal said on Sunday (17/06).

"There was an official request from the lawyer to stop the investigation. After an open hearing of the case, it was terminated because, according to the investigator, they have yet to find the person who uploaded the chat on the internet," Iqbal said.

However, he added that investigators can reopen the case at any time if new evidence emerge. Rizieq's lawyer, Sugito Atmo Prawiro, confirmed that the investigation has been closed.

The cleric played a central role in the so-called 212 Movement, which held a series of religiously charged protest rallies against then-Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in 2016. This resulted in Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent and one of Jokowi's key allies, losing his bid for re-election. The rallies also significantly raised religious tensions in the country.

The timing and nature of the pornography case led observers to speculate that this may have been the result of political meddling to prevent Rizieq from expanding his influence, especially ahead of this year's regional elections and the 2019 presidential election.

Police initially detained Firza on the morning of Dec. 12, 2016 on a separate treason allegation, which she denied. A month later, an unknown source uploaded details of the WhatsApp chat on the internet. Police named Rizieq a suspect in the pornography case in May last year and summoned him for questioning. However, he had already left for Mecca at the time to perform umrah, or the minor hajj, and subsequently decided not to return to Indonesia.

Over the past year, Rizieq has received visits in Mecca from several politicians, particularly those in the opposition, such as Prabowo Subianto, chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), Sohibul Iman, president of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), and Muhammad Amien Rais, founder of the National Mandate Party (PAN).

In Indonesia meanwhile, some proponents of the 212 Movement, including Yusuf Muhammad Martak, Slamet Maarif, Muhammad Al Khathath, Sobri Lubis, Roudhul Bahar and Usamah Hisyam, also opened communications with Jokowi and met with him in April.

While the National Police spokesman denied any State Palace involvement in the decision to drop the case against Rizieq, some believe it will help reduce political tensions.

"The police's decision is welcomed.... It will lead to a more calm and peaceful [political] atmosphere," House of Representatives Speaker Bambang Soesatyo said on Sunday.



Police deputy chief says SP3 has no political motive

Tempo - June 17, 2018

Alfan Hilmi, Jakarta -- Deputy Chief of the National Police Comr. Gen. Syafruddin stated that there was no political element in the issuance of the Investigation Termination Letter (SP3) for Rizieq Shihab's pornographic chat case.

"All law enforcement officials, Police investigators, Attorney officials, or the Corruption Eradication Commission, are independent. So there's no pretention," Syafruddin said on Sunday, June 17, 2018.

Syaruddin also refused to respond to the accusation saying that the police decided to issue the SP3 in an attempt to approach the 212 Alumni organization. "I don't want to comment on uncertain things," Syafruddin said.

News about the termination of Rizieq's case surfaced when a Youtube channel Front TV uploaded a video showing Rizieq explaining that he has received SP3 from the Police. In the video, Rizieq was seen holding a piece of paper he claimed to be the SP3.

Rizieq's attorney Kapitra Ampera also stated that the Police has sent an SP3. However, the Police were reluctant to provide clarification.

Syafruddin said that the issuance of the SP3 is the authority of the investigators. "I believe the investigators have their own argument and perspective or a strong legal basis," Syafruddin said.

Syafruddin was reluctant to explain when the Police had issued the SP3 on the case. He also cannot explain why the Police decided to confirm the presence of the SP3 recently.



Rizieq Shihab to return to Indonesia

Tempo - June 18, 2018

Alfan Hilmi, Jakarta -- The Islamic Defender Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab planned to return to Indonesia following the issuance of termination letter for the pornography case against him. It would be a one-year period of his hiding over the police probe should he arrived on June 2018.

"God willing, he will be back to Indonesia," said Rizieq's attorney Kapitra Ampera in a short message, on Sunday, June 17. Kapitra stated his client still stayed in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. "Wait for his announcement," he added.

The police on Sunday confirmed the termination letter (SP3) for pornography case against Rizieq Shihab had been issued because the investigators had difficulties to discover additional evidence to support the allegation of Rizieq's involvement in the case.

The police named Rizieq as the suspect for various cases such as religious blasphemy, humiliation for the state ideology and symbol, and pornography in early 2017 after he led the 212 demonstrations that succeeded to prison Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or Ahok.

Earlier, on February 2018, Rizieq Shihab reportedly had bought a flight ticket to Indonesia. However, the plan was halted since it sparked pros and contras reaction among the public.

Furthermore, National Police Deputy Chief Comr. Gen. Syafruddin asserted there was no political intention over the issuance of SP3 for Rizieq Shihab's case. "All law enforcer, police investigators, prosecutors, or KPK are independent. There is no pretention," he underlined.



TNI personnel attacked in Puncak Jaya

Jakarta Post - June 18, 2018

Jakarta -- Five members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) were wounded in two attacks by unidentified gunmen in Papua on Saturday.

The shootings occurred in the Puncak Jaya area when the soldiers were on patrol in Yambi, news agency Antara reported.

Cendrawasih Military Command head Maj. Gen. George Supit confirmed that five Army personnel had sustained gunshot wounds during the attacks.

"It is true that [gunmen] shot at the troops on patrol, resulting in wounds from the shots and bullet fragments," George said on Saturday, as quoted by Antara.

He added that the injured soldiers were in stable condition and undergoing treatment at the Mulia Regional General Hospital. (stu/ahw)



Novel Baswedan sees his attacker across his house

Tempo - June 18, 2018

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta -- The senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Novel Baswedan claimed the police did not thoroughly investigate the attack against him.

After undergoing eye treatment in Singapore, Novel Baswedan still received threats from an alleged perpetrator.

"After departing from Singapore, I was still threatened," said Novel in front of his residence in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, on Sunday, June 17.

Novel was attacked by two unidentified men on April 11, 2017. One of the men splashed acid water to Novel after he took dawn prayers at a mosque near his house. He was flown to Singapore for the treatment of his eyes that were severely injured.

The left eye was 95 damaged and totally implanted, while his right eye needed to use a hard lens to help the vision. Novel Baswedan returned to Indonesia on February 22, 2018. On that day, he saw the attacker standing across his house.

"I came home first on February 22. The perpetrator was there," said Novel while appointing the street across his house. "If [the police] really conduct the disclosure, [the attacker] wouldn't dare [coming to my house]."

On February, it had been 10 months since the incident. However, the Jakarta Police has yet revealed the perpetrator who attacked KPK senior investigator Novel Baswedan.



Police end probe into blasphemy allegations against Sukmawati

Jakarta Post - June 17, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta -- The National Police have ended their investigation into Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's first president Sukarno, for alleged blasphemy, police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal said in a statement on Sunday.

"Based on the preliminary investigation [...] we did not find any illegal or criminal act so the case will not be escalated to a full investigation," he added.

The announcement of the investigation's termination comes shortly after police confirmed that they have also dropped their investigation into a pornography case allegedly involving firebrand Islam Defenders Front (FPI) cleric Rizieq Shihab.

Last year, Sukmawati reported Rizieq to the police in an unrelated case, alleging that he had defamed Sukarno and the state ideology, Pancasila. That case was dropped by the West Java Police in February.

In April, about 30 groups and individuals reported Sukmawati, to the police, accusing her of composing a poem that insulted Islam in violation of articles 156 and 156a of the Criminal Code.

Sukmawati read the poem, entitled "Ibu Indonesia" (Mother Indonesia), during a fashion event to celebrate designer Anne Avantie's 29th anniversary in the business during Indonesia Fashion Week (IFW) in Jakarta on March 29.

In the poem, Sukmawati allegedly unfavorably compared cadar (the full-face veil) to konde (the traditional hair bun) and adzan (Muslim call to prayer) to traditional Indonesian songs.

Sukmawati issued a tearful apology shortly after she was first reported to the police, saying that she had no intention of insulting Islam.

"Since this literary work has sparked controversy, especially among Muslims, I apologize to all Muslims who feel offended by this poem," she said at the time. (ahw)



Fadli Zon: Gerindra will wait for Jokowi

Tempo - June 17, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta -- Deputy Chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party Fadli Zon said that his party is waiting for incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his supporter to announce their vice president candidate for the 2019 Presidential Election.

Gerindra will be waiting for the decision before its Chairman Prabowo Subianto announces the vice president candidate supported by the party.

"Gerindra [will make the announcement] later. Usually the incumbent will make an announcement first. During [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's] time, he make an announcement one month earlier," Fadli said on Sunday, June 17, 2018.

Fadli said that if the incumbent has enough confidence, then Jokowi and the government coalition would announce their vice president candidate earlier. "Announce it soon, don't just talk about it," Fadli said.

Meanwhile, Jokowi the coalition supporting Jokowi is yet to decide on their vice president. Chairman of the People's Conscience (Hanura) Party Oesman Sapta Odang, said that the coalition is yet to discuss the name of the vice president candidate for the 2019 Presidential Election.

Oesman claimed that Hanura has not even proposed a vice president candidate name. "We haven't discussed it until now," Oesman said.

A number of political parties have declared that they joined with Jokowi's supporter coalition for the 2019 Presidential Election, namely the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, Functional Group Party, Hanura Party, National Democratic Party, and the United Development Party. However, the parties had not announced the name of a vice president candidate.

On the other hand, Jokowi's competitor for the election remains unclear. Gerindra insisted that they will support its Chairman Prabowo Subianto. Whereas, Prabowo himself has not made any official declaration regarding his nomination in the 2019 Presidential Election.



Indonesians feel safe, have confidence in police: Gallup

Jakarta Post - June 18, 2018

Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta -- The 2018 Global Law and Order report compiled by consultancy Gallup found that Indonesia was among the safest countries in the world, ahead of many developed countries in East Asia and Europe.

The report was based on a survey of approximately 1,000 people in 142 countries.

Participants were asked whether they felt safe walking alone at night, had confidence in the police, had property stolen from them or their family and whether they had been mugged in the last 12 months.

More than two-thirds of people worldwide have confidence in their police forces and feel safe walking alone at night. Thirteen percent had property stolen from them or a family member in the past year, while 5 percent experienced assault or robbery.

Singapore is at the top of the Law and Order Index, scoring 97 out of a possible 100, followed by Norway, Iceland, Finland and Uzbekistan. Indonesia ranks 9th with a score of 89, below Switzerland and Canada (both 90) and just above Denmark, Slovenia, Luxemburg, Austria, China, the Netherlands and Egypt (all 88).

However, Indonesia does not make it into the top 10 countries where people feel safest walking alone at night. Gallup does not reveal the details of perceptions on each indicator.

Countries with the lowest scores are Venezuela (44), Afghanistan (45), South Sudan (54), Gabon (55) and Liberia (56). Venezuela and Afghanistan are also where people feel least safe walking alone at night, with only one in every five comfortable doing so. Gallup noted that Afghanistan's result reflected a worsening security situation compared to the previous year.

At the regional level, East Asia tops the list, scoring 87, just above Southeast Asia (86) and the United States and Canada (85). South America and the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa are considered the least safe, scoring 62 and 68 respectively.



The plight of refugees in Indonesia

Jakarta Globe - June 18, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta -- Unresolved conflicts result in increasing violence and persecution, which force millions of people to flee their homes in search for safety.

Peace is deteriorating in many regions, and for the first time in modern history, refugees make up almost 1 percent of the global population. According to the 2018 Global Peace Index (GPI) report, published by the Institute for Economics and Peace on June 6, the world is less peaceful today than at any time in the past decade.

According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), we are witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record, with 65.6 million people forcibly displaced. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and have no access to basic rights such as education, health care or legal protection.

Escaping violence, however, is just the first step in a long process of starting a new life. Refugees and asylum seekers are often left in a legal limbo, without a chance to earn a decent living in places which are entirely foreign to them.

Indonesia, which is not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention -- a United Nations treaty that defines the term "refugees," outlines their rights and obligations of receiving countries to protect them -- now hosts 14,000 asylum seekers and refugees, mostly from Afghanistan.

Around 30 asylum seekers live on the sidewalks of Jalan Kebon Sirih Barat 1 in Menteng, Central Jakarta, near the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro) Around 30 asylum seekers live on the sidewalks of Jalan Kebon Sirih Barat 1 in Menteng, Central Jakarta, near the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

For the refugees, Indonesia is a place of transit before resettlement to Western countries. But those are increasingly unwilling to receive them.

According to Febi Yonesta, chairman of the Indonesian Civil Society Network for Refugee Rights Protection (Suaka), there are many skilled people in the refugee community, who could certainly contribute to Indonesian society and the economy. But the law does not allow them to work.

"Many refugees are skilled, so when we ignore them and don't allow them to engage in activities that could generate income, they become frustrated," Febi told the Jakarta Globe in a telephone interview on June 14.

He added that if the government cannot provide formal job opportunities, at least it should not bar them from working in the informal sector, as with no income whatsoever many can become prone to illegal activities.

It can take a long time for asylum seekers to get resettled, even between 15 and 20 years. With no place to live, in Jakarta many of them choose to stay at the immigration detention center in Kalideres. But in January, the facility ran out of space, leaving dozens of people stranded in makeshift tents on the roadside in front of it.

In July last year, the government said it would work to improve the very poor conditions in which asylum seekers and refugees are hosted. The 2016 Presidential Regulation (Perpres) guarantees them shelter, security and provision of basic needs, while the UNHCR processes their relocation.

Refugees do not have a place to sleep. Residents often offer them food, clothes and other necessities. In Ramadan, the nearby mosque which provides free iftar dinners. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro) Refugees do not have a place to sleep. Residents often offer them food, clothes and other necessities. In Ramadan, the nearby mosque which provides free iftar dinners. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

In May, CNN Indonesia reported that UNHCR has been telling refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia to lower their expectations regarding resettlement and start looking for other options, such as returning to their home countries.

Where the government does not come with help, Indonesian civil society is trying to provide relief.

The Indonesian Civil Society Network for Refugee Rights Protection (Suaka), for example, was established in 2012, in an effort to protect and promote the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia. Its key members are LBH Jakarta and the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG). It provides legal aid and is engaged in advocacy work.

The Refugee Learning Center (RLC) in Cisarua, West Java, was established in 2015 to train teachers and provide education to refugee children who are denied the right of attending state-run schools.

The Refugees and Asylum Seekers Information Center (RAIC) is a volunteer network aimed to provide support to those fleeing persecution. RAIC also collects donations, distributes aid packages and offers basic health care services.

Febi said the government should partner with these organizations to address the needs of refugees and asylum seekers during their stay in Indonesia.

"As long as Indonesia refuses to accept refugees as citizens, at the very least it can be a good host while they are in transit. Isn't this part of our culture that when we have guests we should treat them well?"

World Refugee Day is observed annually on June 20.



Ex-West Java Police chief inaugurated province's acting governor

Jakarta Post - June 18, 2018

Arya Dipa, Bandung -- Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo has inaugurated high-ranking National Police officer Comr. Gen. M. Iriawan, who once served as the provincial police chief, as an acting governor to replace incumbent West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan, whose term as the province's head ended on June 13.

"I, on behalf of the President, officially inaugurate Comr. Gen. M. Iriawan as West Java's acting governor. I believe you will do your job well and according to your responsibilities," Tjahjo said during the ceremony on Monday.

The ceremony was held at Gedung Merdeka in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung and was attended by a number of officials, including Ahmad, who wished his successor good luck during the former's speech.

Prior to his appointment as West Java's acting governor, Iriawan had been the main secretary of the National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas) since March 8. The three-star general was also appointed West Java and Jakarta Police chief in 2013 and 2016, respectively.

Speaking to journalists after the ceremony, Iriawan said he had been contacted by the minister regarding his appointment and the inauguration on the second day of Idul Fitri celebrations on Saturday.

"My family and I were in Surabaya [East Java] visiting relatives when the minister called, so I went back right away to Jakarta. As a soldier, I'm ready to do what the country has ordered me to do," Iriawan said.

He added that he would focus on serving West Java residents as well as the provincial state officials' neutrality during the upcoming gubernatorial election.

West Java is among 171 regions participating in the 2018 simultaneous regional elections, which will be held on June 27. (kuk)




Asia Pacific Solidarity Network (APSN)