Jakarta A Miss Transvestite pageant in Kutai Timur regency, East Kalimantan was postponed from its original schedule on Monday evening amid protests from several Islamic organizations in the region.
The contest, which was planned to feature transgender individuals wearing Javanese kebaya traditional attire, was originally scheduled to take place at the Buana Mekar building in North Sangatta, Kutai Timur, East Kalimantan at around 7:00 p.m.
The event's organizing committee confirmed that 30 transgender individuals, with most of them working as beautician or street singers, were scheduled to participate.
Protests came from members of Indonesian Mosque Youth Communication Forum (BKPRMI) and several members of mass-based Muslim organization Muhammadiyah. (asa)
Rangga D. Fadillah, Jakarta Lapindo Brantas will begin drilling a new gas well in Tanggulangin, near the site of the mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java, the government says.
The Bakrie Group subsidiary had obtained permission from local residents, although some rejected the proposal on fears it would trigger a another mudflow, as happened in 2006, upstream oil and gas regulator BPMigas spokesperson Gde Pradnyana said.
"The financial plan for the project has been approved by BPMigas. As to the location, it depends on the regional government. We don't know yet about that. We have to do drilling to compensate for declining gas production from existing wells," he said in Jakarta on Monday.
Lapindo Brantas has not obtained permission from the regional government to drill in Tanggulangin because it has not fully paid compensation to mudflow victims at the Banjarpanji well. The company has reportedly paid only Rp 2 trillion (US$216 million) of Rp 3 trillion in required compensation to victims.
In a statement sent to the media over the weekend, BPMigas reported that Lapindo had signed an agreement with Tanggulangin residents to pay compensation for future damages.
Lapindo Brantas was drilling the Banjar Panji I well in Sidoarjo in March 2006 when it spewed hot mud that inundated and destroyed thousands of homes in the area, forcing mass evacuations and leading Lapindo Brantas to stop operations. Six years later, more than 10,000 cubic meters of mud a day continue to spew forth.
The well in Tanggulangin has been estimated to have a total gas output of 5 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd), Gde said. The gas would be channeled to nearby households to support the government's city gas program, he added.
Currently, Lapindo is exploiting gas from the Carat field, also in Sidoarjo, with an output of 5 mmscfd. The gas is channeled to Surabaya, East Java, and used in the transportation sector. However, BPMigas estimates the gas will run out within five years. "Drilling [in Tanggulangin] has to be started as soon as possible before the existing gas [at Carat] runs out," Gde said.
To support the government's city gas program, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said that it budgeted Rp 230 billion to add 16,000 new household gas connections in five cities across the country this year: Prabumulih, South Sumatra; Jambi; Cibinong and Cirebon in West Java; and Kalidawir, East Java.
Since the program began in 2009, 38,085 households have been connected to gas in eight cities in Java, Kalimantan, Sumatra and Sulawesi. Eleven apartment complexes in Greater Jakarta have also been connected.
East Java's gas is supplied in whole by Lapindo Brantas, which is wholly owned by publicly listed PT Energi Mega Persada (ENRG), a subsidiary of the Bakrie Group.
Jakarta Media watchdogs have condemned the way local media covered the Sukhoi Superjet 100 crash at Mt. Salak, saying that most of news outlets, television in particular, had promoted sensationalism and was insensitive towards victims of the crash.
Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) chairman Dadang Rahmat Hidayat said that journalists from the news media lacked basic skills in performing their journalistic works. "Of course, this event is very newsworthy. But the media should find and present the news in a proper manner," Dadang said.
The KPI said that television journalists performed poorly when bringing live coverage from the event. "This is not a small event so reporters should have the basic knowledge of what actually happened and how they would present it to the public. And in the case of live reporting, they should be more careful because there are no editors involved," he said. "Don't make reporting on a tragedy become a tragedy of reporting," Dadang said.
From the early hours after the Superjet crashed at Mt. Salak, news media carried conflicting reports about details from the incident and when it was obvious that no passengers survived the crash, they switched to focusing on the conditions of the victims.
Some reporters in the field went as far as describing gory details from the victims conditions while others asked trivial questions as to what was really inside the body bags. Reporters also pressed families of the victims into giving detailed accounts of their loved ones who perished in the crash.
The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) urged journalists to abide by the journalism code of ethics in presenting their reports. In a statement, AJI said that it regretted sensational reporting which included frequent airing of videos depicting the distressed families of victims.
AJI chairman Eko Maryadi said that although the government no longer applied regulation on content of the media, the news media should censor themselves on humanitarian grounds.
"Like it or not, the media should regulate themselves. They should have extra sensitivity. The choices are to self-regulate and not become the subject of government regulations such as what happened in the past," Eko said.
Contacted separately, psychologist Ratih Andjayani said that media have dramatized the crash to the point where it could hurt the feelings of victims' families.
"Questions with insensitive language could depress the victims' families further," she said. Ratih said journalists should only chose their words wisely. "The most important thing is to make the wording precise," she said. (fzm)
The separatist group, the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, has called on Vanuatu to reconsider its foreign policy in regard to Indonesia.
The Coalition's John Ondawame made the call after an Indonesian military aircraft arrived with equipment for next month's Port Vila summit of the European Union with its development partners in the African Caribbean and Pacific region.
Indonesia has become an observer of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which includes Vanuatu that had been the only country to support the Papuans' quest for self-determination.
In view of the Papuans' plight over the years, Mr Ondawame says Vanuatu should revisit its dealings with Jakarta.
"We firmly believe that the Vanuatu government signed a co-operation agreement with a very brutal regime in the Asia Pacific region that killed thousands of my people in West Papua."
A West Papuan living in exile in Vanuatu has been arrested along with about two dozen others for protesting against the arrival of an Indonesian military aircraft in Port Vila today.
Andy Ayamiseba, who is also a Vanuatu citizen, says he believes he may have been arrested for protesting without a valid permit.
But he says the arrival of the aircraft, carrying about 100 computers for next month's African Carribean and Pacific meeting in Port Vila as well as military equipment, is unacceptable to Vanuatu's people given their strong support for West Papuan self-determination.
Under a recently signed co-operation agreement, Indonesia is to provide police and paramilitary training to Vanuatu which in turn is to refrain from getting involved in the West Papua issue. Mr Ayamiseba says the arrangement is outrageous.
"If there is any such force to train Vanuatu police, Indonesia should be the last on the list. These people, they're committing atrocities on other Melanesian people. So the excuse of kicking the AFP out was to have the Indonesian military and police to come in here."
The High Court in Papua has decided that Forkoruus and his co-defendants should be sentenced to three years, in accordance with the verdict declared at the trial on 16 March.
The defence lawyer of the five men, Gustaf Kawer said that the High Court's decision had simply affirmed the verdict of the district court which had given the men sentences of these years each.
He said that the High Court's decision was conveyed to the five men today. Kawer also said that the articles in the Criminal Code which had been used to condemn the men had not been considered by the High Court.
"They simply handled the case as a priority and in so doing confirmed the three-year sentence." He went on to say that this is the kind of political error that is commonplace in this country.
The five men have been given two weeks to decide whether they want to appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court of appeal, following the counter-appeal made by the Prosecutor to the Jayapura district court.
The prosecution did not make any mention of the basis used for laying the charge of treason against the five men. Even so, the High Court judges simply expressed their agreement with the demand for sentence that had been made by the prosecutor, nor did they say anything about the time the crime was perpetrated.
Domnikus Sorabut and Edison Waromi were hand-cuffed at the end of the Third Papuan People's Congress on 19 October, 2011. They, along with the other two were jointly charged with treason and for having proclaimed the establishment of the Federal State of West Papua and appointing Forkorus Yaboisembut as its president and Edison Warimi as its prime minister.
Jayapura Socialization of the Accelerated Development Unit for Papua and West Papua (UP4B) continues to be met with challenge and refusal. After a rejection incident took place in Manokwari, now the people of Nabire Regency also carried out a rejection action towards UP4B. This action took the shape of a peaceful protest at Nabire airport, Thursday (10/5) morning.
"At least 1000 or more people carried out a spontaneous action as a form of refusal to accept the arrival of the head of U4PB, [Lt. Gen.] Bambang Darmono in Nabire Regency" said Benediktus Goo, one of those who spoke at the mass action. According to Benediktus Goo, this action was carried out by a coalition of communities from Nabire, Dogiyai, Deiyai, Paniai, Puncak and Puncak Jaya regencies.
Still according to Benediktus Goo, this action resulted in the cancellation of the program to "socialize" [present] UP4B in Nabire Regency at the Guest House, the Regional Legislative Assembly and Pantai Yamari.
The mass of people began to make speeches in the front yard of Nabire airport at 8AM. The head of UP4B, Bambang Darmono, arrived in Nabire at 9AM. Indeed, his plan was to stop in Nabire on his way back from Raja Ampat Regency, on his way to Jayapura.
Banners that were displayed during this action included "We the People of Papua Reject UP4B in the Land of West Papua", "We the People of Papua Reject UP4B, Bambang Darmono return home with [your plan for] Indonesian Urbanization in the Land of West Papua". The mass also demanded a Referendum and Dialogue mediated by an international third party, and demanded the full sovereignty of West Papua.
The spokesperson for UP4B, Amiruddin Al Rahab, when contacted by tabloidjubi.com confirmed that a protest action took place. However according to him, this incident did not unfold according to the news that has spread regarding the rejection. "Yes there was indeed a demo. But the crowd was not in the thousands. Only some hundreds. BD (Bambang Darmono) also stopped by to hear the aspirations of the people. Because this is the face of democracy. Anyone has the right to convey their position" said Amiruddin to tabloidjubi.com by mobile telephone.
According to Amiruddin, BD also asked the mass of people if he needed to respond to their aspirations. But because those assembled refused to allow BD to respond (to comment on) their aspirations, BD along with the UP4B entourage pursued their plan to hear input from the Regent of Nabire and top regional security and government officials, as well as some civil society leaders in the VIP room of the airport.
"There was no expulsion or detention carried out towards BD and UP4B. The meeting with top officials did indeed take place in the VIP room. Then we continued our trip back to Jayapura because we were just on our way back there from Raja Ampat" said Amiruddin.
The mass dispersed at 1PM. During this action, there was also some commotion between the people assembled and the security forces. This incident caused Selfina Muyafa, S. Sos (30 yrs) to be struck in the forehead so that she had to be brought to Nabire hospital for treatment. (Jubi/Victor M)
At least 42 prisoners both political and criminal have been beaten by warders in Abepura Prison where they are being held, These beatings occurring on 30 April.
According to information from the Justice, Peace and Creation Secretariat (SKPKC) in Jayapura, the prisoners who were beaten included Selfius Bobii, Luis Kossay, Terianus Tabuni, Wayus Hubi, Markus Dubi, Stenly Palondong, Alfian Palendeng, Erens Apromis, Octo Ikinia and Fredy Marsyom.
Some of them were beaten until they were black and blue all over. Selsius Bobii said he had ben slapped, hit and kicked all over his body. He was then dragged into the prison office.
Luis Kossay said that he had been struck by a bludgeon, by iron rods and beaten with a rope and while being beaten he was kicked and then dragged out of his cell, dragged 200 metres and thrown into the yard.
In the yard, his fingers and toes were stamped on by warders with their heavy boots. After suffering all this, he was ordered to remain in a half- squatting position for an hour.Three other prisoners were subjected to the same painful treatment and the rest were also beaten and kicked without mercy.
These acts of maltreatment occurred on 30 April and began when Selpius Bobii and some other prisoners asked the warders not to lock their cell doors because they wanted to practise singing some songs for their co prisoners.
However, he was ordered out of his cell and taken to stand before the security official who refused to grant him permission to do this. Selpius tried to explain that they wanted to rehearse some songs to be recorded later on, but permission was refused. and he was ordered to return to his cell.
Selpius said later that the previous warder, Ayurbaba, had given them permission to do these things and had allowed the prisoners to have recreational activities. When the new chief warder Liberty Sinijak heard this going on, he came out and started shouting at Selpius. In response Selpius shouted back, saying that the warders were doing nothing to help the prisoners but only trying to crush them.
The chief warder shouted back and ordered Selpius into the isolation wing. When the other prisoners in their cells heard all this shouting, they started calling out to the warders to stop maltreating Selpius.
Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura Papua Legislative Council speaker John Ibo, former Papua provincial secretary Andi Baso Basaleng and former Papua provincial financial bureau head Paul Onibala had their initial trial session at the Jayapura Corruption Court on Thursday, for the alleged misappropriation of Rp 5.2 billion (US$566,000).
During the trial, presided over by judge Jack Octavianus, prosecutor Nikolaus B. Kondomo read the indictments of the three defendants. Ibo, Basaleng and Onibala were indicted of violating the 2001 Corruption Eradication Law.
The embezzled funds were derived from the 2006 provincial budget when Ibo handed a memo to the then Papua provincial secretary Basaleng for the renovation costs of the Papua Council speaker's house. The funds were disbursed in two installments, the first on Aug. 3, 2006, amounting to Rp 2.6 billion, followed by the second installment on Dec. 29, 2006, also amounting to Rp 2.6 billion.
As much as Rp 2.6 billion out of the total Rp 5.2 billion in misappropriated funds was derived from agency assistance funds, while the other Rp 2.6 billion was taken from community organization assistance funds for housing projects.
Prosecutor Nikolaus said that the use of agency assistance funds and community organization assistance funds was against Article 7 of Provincial Regulation No. 24/2004 concerning finance protocols for local legislative council members and leaders.
Ibo, who requested funds for the renovation of his house, should have handed a valid receipt to Basaleng, instead of a memo, Nikolaus said.
Nikolaus also said that Ibo had used the Rp 5.2 billion to enrich himself, instead of using the funds for its intended purpose, so the Papua provincial administration was deprived of Rp 5.2 billion.
The defendants' defense team, led by Piet Ell, did not comment; however, Ibo did express his feelings. "God knows everything that I've done. The defendant's chair is a silent witness of my grief," he said. Besides Ibo, Basaleng and Onibala were on hand to hear the indictment.
Outside the courthouse, scores of people staged a rally in protest of the graft case. "The judges should release Om John because he helped us build a church. Why aren't the others, who have also embezzled tens of billions of rupiah, not caught and prosecuted. Instead, it's those who have helped us," a protester said.
Dozens of officers from the Jayapura City Police were deployed to secure the trial.
Nurdin Hasan, Banda Aceh Another Christian house of worship has been sealed off in Aceh Singkil district, bringing the total since last week to 17 and marking a new low for religious intolerance in the staunchly Muslim province, a rights group said on Wednesday.
Agusta Mukhtar, a spokesman for the group Pro-Democracy People, said it was regrettable that the local authorities had sealed off the buildings following a protest on April 30 by hard-line groups including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which oppose the buildings.
"The religious peace here has been shattered by this anarchistic action that seeks religious domination for an inflexible faith," he said in a statement. "This is a dark time in the history of religious freedom and tolerance in Aceh."
Sixteen of the undung-undungs, small houses of worship not categorized as churches, were sealed off by district officials last week, on the pretext they had been built without proper permits. Another was closed off on Tuesday.
The authorities insist that only one church and four undung-undungs may be built in the entire district, despite one-sixth of its population of about 120,000 being Christian the highest proportion of any district or city in Aceh.
Agusta blamed the authorities not just for acquiescing to the hard-liners, but also for failing to promote religious tolerance at the grassroots level to prevent hard-line sentiment from taking root.
He said it was the job of the district and provincial administrations, as well as the Religious Affairs Ministry, to prevent these kinds of acts of intolerance from flaring up in the first place.
Zaenal Abidin, the head of the team responsible for sealing off the buildings, said that the latest undung-undung to be sealed off was located in a majority-Christian village. "But because they didn't have a permit for it, we had to shut it down," he said.
He added that there had been "no significant protests" over the closure, and that his office had "given the residents guidance" as an admonishment for having built the undung-undung.
Sondang Marbun, the head of Christian affairs at the provincial office of the Religious Affairs Ministry, supported the officials in the district. He said the closures were warranted and that he had previously reminded Christians in Aceh Singkil not to build any undung-undungs without a permit.
He added that he would soon visit the district to see what the problem was all about and try to find a solution.
Aceh, North Sumatra Sixty-two young women were detained in a raid for wearing tight clothing in Wilayatul Hisbah, Bireuen, Aceh on Tuesday evening.
Four of the 62 women detained are sales promotion girls who were promoting cigarettes near the area, and were wearing tight black pants, white tops and red jilbab (veils).
Most of the women who passed along Jl. Meuligoe were sent to the Meuligoe regent, while the four promotion models were sent to the Islamic Shari'a office to receive instructions before being freed.
"They violated the 2002 Qanun No. 11 on the implementation of Islamic and worship symbols, which touched upon Islamic wear," said Tgk M Daud, investigator and Islamic law department head, as quoted by tribunnews.com.
The commander of Wilayatul Hisbah, Usman Kelana, said he will conduct raids more frequently to minimize the number women wearing tight clothes. "We hope the people and parents to prohibit their children from wearing tight clothing," Kelana said.
Nurdin Hasan, Banda Aceh The Aceh administration has shut down at least 16 Christian places of worship since May 2, alleging they were being run without permits and had been drawing complaints from locals.
The 16 buildings, called "undung-undung" in Aceh, were located across four subdistricts in Aceh Singkil district. Different from churches, undung- undungs are smaller in size and have no cross on their exterior.
Aceh Singkil district head Razali Abdul Rahman said his administration started sealing the buildings May 2 and May 3 in response to locals' complaints.
"It's not churches but undung-undungs that we've sealed. It's because they don't have any permits and because they've breached a previously agreed deal," Razali told the Jakarta Globe.
"The sealing of houses of worship that run without permits is meant to avoid conflicts among the religious communities," he added. "We previously agreed that there should be only one church and four undung-undungs in Singkil."
On April 30, hundreds of members of the Aceh Singkil Muslim Forum held a rally in the town to demand the closing of the undung-undungs.
Razali said his administration had acted independently of the group's demands. "It has nothing to do with the rallies. This is a move to maintain public order because the houses of worship have no permits and breach the regulation," he said.
SP/Natasia Christy Wahyuni Fourteen years after four Trisakti University students were gunned down during a demonstration, leading to the fall of President Suharto and his New Order regime, the families of the victims are no closer to justice.
An investigation by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) concluded that the shooting was a gross human rights violation, and last month, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he would officially apologize on behalf of the state for all such violations, including the Trisakti killings.
But for the families of the victims and a group of student activists, words are no longer enough. On Thursday, a new generation of Trisakti students demanded that the president take tangible steps to bring the killers to justice.
"Apologizing is just words. We don't need an apology from the president. What we need is concrete action from the leader of the nation," Shandy Rachmat Mandela Simanjuntak, the president of the university's student council, said as the Trisakti community prepared for the 14th anniversary of the killings on Saturday.
Special teams have been formed by four presidents in the years since the shootings, but no real investigation has ever been conducted to find and punish the people responsible for the murders on May 12, 1998. "In 2005, Yudhoyono said he would investigate the incident," Shandy said. "Well, we are still waiting."
At the beginning of May 1998, protests calling for Suharto to resign spread as an economic crisis hit the country. On May 12, with the military swarming the capital's main streets, more than 6,000 students, lecturers and staff members gathered at Trisakti's campus in West Jakarta to demand that Suharto step down.
As the demonstration heated up, soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters. Four students were killed Elang Mulia Lesmana, Heri Hertanto, Hafidin Royan, and Hendriawan Sie and dozens more were injured. The incident sparked riots across the country, eventually leading to Suharto's resignation.
Despite several independent investigations that pointed to possible perpetrators, a divided House of Representatives failed to recommend the formation of an ad hoc human rights tribunal to try the shooters.
Rights activist Hendardi said the government did not have the political will to solve a case that implicated military officers. "The president doesn't have the nerve to act tough," he said. "That's the main issue."
Jakarta The National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) called for an amendment to the Criminal Code to help the cause of dozens of who had been raped in the May 1998 riots in the capital.
Komnas Perempuan commissioner Sri Nurherwati said on Sunday that none of the provisions in the Criminal Code (KUHP) or the Criminal Code Procedures (KUHAP) could bring legal action against what she called the "systemic massive rape of 1998" and provide protection for its victims.
Sri said that all efforts to bring justice to the victims through the court would likely be impossible as both the KUHP and KUHAP required the rape victims themselves file a report and testify.
"The victims are unwilling to talk publicly. They are still dogged by trauma and what can we do if the victims themselves said 'back off, it's enough,' and chose to exile themselves in the darkness?" she told a press conference on Sunday.
She also said that forcing the rape victims to come forward and testify in court would only worsen their plight. Sri said that all the Komnas Perempuan could do is simply to keep pushing the government to keep its promise in amending the law.
"Our biggest obstacle is, as Radhika Coomaraswamy said when visiting Indonesia, the culture of denial embedded deeply in our society about the 1998 rape tragedy and it is sanctioned by the law," Sri said.
Coomaraswamy, a UN special rapporteur on women, visited Indonesia in 1998 to help investigate the case of mass rape during the 1998 riots, which targetted Chinese-Indonesian. With no rape victims from the 1998 riot coming forward and pressing charges, police have repeatedly denied the mass rape claims in spite of findings from a team founded in 1998 to investigate the case confirming the rape allegations.
The fact finding team has verified that 85 women were raped and sexually abused between May 13 and 15, 1998.
The government-sanctioned team, comprising of government officials, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and non-government organizations also identified that most of the victims were Chinese- Indonesian woman.
The report from the fact-finding team also said that victims, their families and activists received threats, warning them against filing reports to the police.
"That is why we urge the government to revise the law and also to include protection and compensation for these victims. They should be given access to the law so that they could legally settle their cases," said Komnas Perempuan deputy chairperson Desti Murdijana.
On June 3, 2003, Komnas Perempuan released a book on the tragedy titled Disangkal! Tragedi Mei 1998 Dalam Perjalanan Bangsa (Denied! The 1998 May Tragedy in the Nation's Journey). The book told the true story of women raped during the tragedy.
One of the victims carried on with her life with an aspiration of becoming a plastic surgeon to help other victims of violence. The character in the book is one of two women whose breasts were cut off by unidentified men in a van on May 14, 1998. The book also tells the story of one rape victim who now suffers from mental illnesses. (aml)
Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta Indonesia's human rights role at the global level is at risk as the government has repeatedly failed to protect its own citizens, according to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) might be critical of what Komnas HAM called the nation's failure to protect human rights domestically, the commission said.
The UNHRC will begin its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in two weeks to evaluate the human rights records of the UN's 192 member nations, and is slated to review the situation in Indonesia from May 21 to June 4.
The quadrennial review was introduced by the UN General Assembly in 2006 to assure that member countries had respected and implemented human rights and fundamental freedoms. According to Komnas HAM, Indonesia's poor human rights record, particularly its failure to enforce the law, has tainted the nation's image.
Ifdhal Kasim, the chairman of Komnas HAM, used the recent attacks on Canadian liberal author Irshad Manji's book discussions in Jakarta and Yogyakarta as an example.
"I believe the UNHRC will take the matter into consideration. For this reason, we suggest the government seriously take into account the increasing number of human rights violations because we are bound by the UN's regulations as one of its members," Ifdhal said on Friday.
The discussions were discontinued due to pressure from radical organizations that accused Manji of promoting homosexuality and atheism. Members of the Indonesia Mujahidin Council (MMI) ransacked the office of the Institute for Islamic and Social Studies (LKiS) during a discussion and injured one person.
"What happened to Manji is only one of the many cases reflecting the state's negligence in promoting freedom in the country. A similar situation also occurred during mass organizations' attacks against Ahmadiyah, as well as other minority groups nationwide," Komnas HAM deputy speaker Yosep Adi Prasetyo said.
"The government must seriously prove its commitment to uphold human rights in the country, otherwise the global community will withdraw its support for us due to the increasing number of violations against freedom in this country. The government has obviously failed to guarantee basic freedom for the people, which is the freedom from fear. All of the recent violations, as well as other violations in the past, the 1998 Trisakti shootings and Semanggi riots or the 1965 abortive purge for example, will undoubtedly discredit us as a so-called democratic country because the government is not only unable but also unwilling to promote human rights," said Yosep.
Ronna Nirmala Petrus Sadino embarked on a 577-kilometer journey by train in the dead of the night from his hometown of Klaten, Central Java, arriving in Jakarta on Tuesday morning to push for the re-opening of his case that is now 44 years old.
The 59-year-old said he was just one of many victims of the anti-communist purge which saw the downfall of Indonesia's first President Sukarno and gave rise to former President Suharto.
In 1968, three years after the purge began, then-15-year-old Petrus was arrested and accused by the military of being the local leader of the now- disbanded Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
"The soldiers were looking for my uncle," Petrus said at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) on Tuesday.
He was speaking ahead of Komnas HAM's scheduled announcement of its conclusion into its four-year investigation into the anti-communist purge.Petrus said he had similarly sounding name with his uncle Sadimo, a former PKI member who has been on the military's most-wanted list since 1965.
"[The military] accused me of being my uncle. They didn't want to hear my explanation," he said. "They arrested me, a junior-high school student, and accused me of being a [communist] leader. Where is the logic in that? But they didn't want to hear it."
Petrus said he was detained and tortured so badly that he passed out, waking up days later to find himself locked in a prison in Solo. "I was battered," he said, showing scars that he has since carried on his head and legs. "I was beaten with a wooden chair so badly that the chair shattered."
Petrus was incarcerated without a trial for two years before the military acknowledged his innocence. He returned home only to find that his whole village had been ransacked allegedly by the military while its inhabitants were arrested or massacred except for one person who escaped the purge.
But even with no charges officially laid against him, Petrus said he was forced to endure years of stigma as a former "political prisoner" which extended to his future children and grandchildren.
"My children find it hard to be accepted in schools. They can't be civil servants because of our bloodline," said Petrus, who later started a business in furniture.
Agus Wijoyo also carried the stigma of a former communist sympathizer, though he wasn't directly involved in any communist movement.
Born in 1970, five years after the communist purge began, the 42-year-old recounted the days when he enrolled in an Army academy in Semarang in 1985. "I was in my fifth day at the military camp and suddenly I was sent home without any reason," Agus said at the Komnas HAM office.
Upset that his lifelong dream of joining the military abruptly shattered, he confronted his superior officers who told him that he was rejected for being the family of PKI members. "I was enraged, upset, disappointed and puzzled. I never knew what the PKI was and none of my family ever mentioned it to me," he continued.
When he broke the news to his family at his hometown in Tegal, Central Java, he discovered the truth. Most of his family had at one time joined the PKI or one of its wings and paid dearly for their brief encountered with the movements.
"Our houses were burned down, our possessions looted and some of our family members shot and killed," he said.
Agus, Petrus and 30 other victims of the communist purge went to see Komnas HAM commissioners on Tuesday, most from remote parts of Java, hoping to find some sort of resolution for their cases.
In 2008, the Komnas HAM vowed to reopen the cases and provide the victims, most of them aging, with some of form of justice and restitution. With most of the main culprits from the purge already dead, the victims demanded at least official government recognition and apologies for years of hardship they have endured.
But even after interviewing 350 victims and witnesses of the purge and with their terms ending in August, Komnas HAM investigators failed to reach any conclusions in their probe, unable to determine whether there had been gross human rights violations.
"Personally, I would say yes there have been gross human rights violations. We can even see it with our eyes," Komnas HAM commissioner Nurkholis said. "Even inside the team there are those for and against" concluding that human rights violations were committed, he said.
Nurkholis, who headed the investigation team, said this split had forced the rights commission to delay the final announcement of the results of the investigation.
"I've asked for another three days. We've also decided that whichever [commissioner] fails to show up will not [have their opinion] counted, even though this is a very important decision," he said.
He added that the case was tied to the interests of several groups but stressed that his team was not siding with any party. "Our investigation isn't political. This is about how we can create conditions leading to significant progress in rights [protection]," he said.
Nurkholis also said that should the team conclude that the 1965-66 tragedy was a human rights violation, then Komnas HAM will demand an official apology from the government, a restoration of the good standing of the victims or their descendants and compensation.
The following is a compilation of abridged translations from the Indonesian media on commemorations held around the country to mark 19 years since the death of labour activist Marsinah.
Marsinah was a women activist who led a strike at the PT Catur Putra Surya watch factory in Surabaya, East Java. On May 8, 1993, three days after the strike, her body was found in a remote hut. The medical examination found that she had died as a result of injuries inflicted during torture. Although there was considerable circumstantial evidence that she had been kidnapped and killed by the military, in 1994 nine managerial personnel and security guards from the factory were tried and convicted of the murder. All of the defendants claimed that they had been tortured in order to extract confessions. On May 5, 1995, all nine were released.
Scores of workers from the National Trade Union Confederation (KSN) commemorated Marsinah's death with an evening of contemplation on the grounds of the Gedung Sate building in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung on Tuesday May 8.
In addition to giving speeches, the workers also lit candles and brought posters with messages such as "Marsinah! Indonesian Workers Hero", which were posted on the gates of the West Java governors offices.
Action coordinator Cep Hermawan from the KSN said that the evening of contemplation was held to remember Marsinah's death, which has become a symbol of working class struggle in Indonesia. Kompas, May 9, 2012
The commemoration of Marsinah's death is being propelled by women activists from a number of different groups including the Marsinah FM Community Radio Station, the Free Women National Committee (KNPM), the Cross Factory Labour Forum (FBLP), the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI), the Indonesian Center for Labour Struggle-Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (GSPB-PPBI) and the Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (Pembebasan).
"Now, after 14 years of reformasi (the reform process that began in 1998) or 19 years since Marsinah's death, there has yet to be any clarification or follow-up in resolving this case. Investigate and solve the Marsinah murder case", said Vivi Widyawati, the public relations officer of an event titled "Commemorating 19 Years since the Death of Marsinah" at the office of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) in Jakarta on Monday May 7.
"Marsinah represents a portrait of a women worker who became a victim of collaboration between employers and the military. Collaboration between employers and the military is not unusual, because under the concept of the state that sides with capital, the military are always needed and used to protect the capitalist's means of production", asserted Vivi. Gatra.com, May 7, 2012
Demonstrators from the Indonesian People's Opposition Front (For-Indonesia) commemorated Marsinah's death with a protest action at the flyover bridge in the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar on Tuesday May 8.
For-Indonesia is an alliance of organisations including the Working People's Association (PRP), the KSN, the Indonesian Federated Trade Union of Struggle (FSPBI), the Nusantara Trade Union Alliance (GSBN), the All Indonesia Trade Union (SBSI) and the Makassar Parking Workers Trade Union (SJPM).
In a speech, action coordinator Sulistiani called on all workers and the people to fight for Marsinah as a hero of the struggle by women workers in Indonesia. She also called on law enforcement officials to fully investigate the Marsinah murder case, which is alleged to involve members the security forces. "Make Marsinah's fall, on May 8, a Labour Day as part of the Indonesian women's struggle", she said.
In a written statement the demonstrators also outlined the history of Marsinah's "mysterious" death after leading a strike action at a watch factory in Porong, Sidoarjo, demanding wage increases, maternity and menstrual leave, overtime pay and the right to form a trade union. Tribune News, May 8, 2012
Hundreds of workers from the KSN held a protest action in front of the General Soedirman statue in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya demanding that the Marsinah case be solved.
"Fully investigate and solve the death of labour hero Marsinah. Because after 19 years the case has not been resolved" said one of the speakers at the action on Tuesday May 8.
During the action, the workers brought posters depicting Marsinah as a hero of Indonesian workers. To this day, a big question mark still surrounds the murder, including the involvement of the military. They also held a theatrical action depicting Marsinah's mysterious death.
"Militarism still haunts workers. The military are the stooges of capitalism. We will continue to demand that the Marsinah case be solved and that she becomes a workers' hero", they added. Detik News, May 8, 2012
Around 300 workers from the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance- Nusantara Trade Union Federation (FSBN-KASBI) gathered in front of the Tangerang mayor's office in Banten on the evening of May 8.
They were commemorating May Day and at the same time remembering the death of Marsinah, a labour activists in Sidoarjo, East Java, who was murdered 19 years ago when fighting for workers rights.
"Her death is a symbol of the labour struggle that will never stop until workers' rights are fulfilled", asserted FSBN-KASBI activist Sunarno when contacted by Kompas last night.
The commemoration, which was presented as an evening of solidarity to remember Marsinah as an Indonesia worker, involved several events including speeches, poetry readings, theater and music of struggle.
"Before commemorating the death of the late Marsinah, we also took to the streets to commemorate International Labour Day, including, among other places, in the industrial zones of Tangerang and the [State] Palace [in Central Jakarta", added Sunarno. Kompas, May 9, 2012
Scores of activists from around 20 different labour organisations under the United People's Committee (KRB) held a commemoration to mark 19 years since the murder of labour activist Marsinah in front of the Gedung Agung building in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on the evening of May 8.
Under the watch of local police, the activists formed a circle then lit hundreds of candles, in the middle of which were placed photographs of Marsinah. Each person wore a mask with a photocopy of Marsinah's face with holes for the eyes. They then voiced their concerns and demanded that the government take the case seriously.
"The New Order [regime of former President Suharto] held a sham trial into the murder case, as a result the issue was never resolved", said KRB public coordinator Akbar Rewako.
The action also attracted the attention of tourists and foreigners who showed their solidarity by sitting down and listening to the speeches and poems read out by the activists.
"We feel very disappointed that the present government says that the Marsinah case is not as one of the worst human rights violation that has occurred in this country", said Akbar. After 14 years of reformasi, the failure to solve the Marsinah murder has become a stain on the legal reform process. Tempo, May 8, 2012
Bandung Dozens of National Labor Confederation (KSN) members held an evening vigil at the Gedung Sate gubernatorial office in Bandung, West Java, on Tuesday night to mourn the death of Marsinah, a labor activist who was kidnapped and found dead on May 8, 1993.
Speakers at the vigil provided orations, while mourners held up posters that read "Marsinah, an Indonesian Labor Hero".
Marsinah was allegedly killed due to her campaigns for higher wages at the company she worked for, PT Catur Putra Surya in Sidoarjo, East Java. Her body allegedly showed strong signs of torture.
Her death was registered in the International Labor Organization's list of notable labor-related deaths, Antara news agency reported on Tuesday. (png)
Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) says it has evidence that government officials were involved in the systematic prosecution of members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) following the abortive 1965 coup.
Komnas HAM is expected to announce the formal findings of its investigation on June 3, when it is also expected to propose the establishment a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation (KKR).
"Our three-year investigation has confirmed that mass rapes, torture, and killings, in violation of the Law on Human Rights Courts, occurred nationwide between 1965 and 1966 and ended only in the early 1970s," Nur Kholis, the head of Komnas HAM's investigative team, said. The team also had evidence of gruesome crimes in its 850-page report, he added.
"We also found that forced labor and detention without legal process took place throughout the 1970s. All these findings meet the criteria of gross human rights violations as defined by the law. However, we have yet to have a final conclusion which will only be decided in a plenary session," Nur Kholis said.
Indonesian law defines a crime against humanity as a systematic and widespread attack on civilians, including murder, annihilation, slavery, forced disappearances, limitations on physical freedom, torture, rape, forced prostitution, widespread abuse based on ideology, race, ethnicity, tradition, religion and gender and apartheid.
To compile the report, Komnas HAM dispatched teams to investigate alleged mass killings in the Gandi area of Medan, North Sumatra; Kemarau Island in Palembang, South Sumatra; Gianyar, Bali; Moncong Loe, South Sulawesi; Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara; and Buru Island in Maluku.
"We have found a similar pattern in these places. We have interviewed 3,500 witnesses and based on their testimonies we found that they were forced to join labor camps on Kemarau Island, Moncong Loe and Buru Island. They were put in solitary confinement, where they were also tortured. We further found that victims in Medan, Bali, and Maumere were forcibly required to register themselves in different places before they were gradually put into detention, tortured, and murdered," Nur Kholis said on the sidelines of a meeting with former political prisoners at Komnas HAM headquarters in Central Jakarta.
Komnas HAM previously announced interim findings of its investigation indicating that state officials under the Operational Command for the Restoration of Security and Order (Kopkamtib) led by former president Soeharto were directly involved in a systematic campaign to eliminate communist groups in the country.
"This is not yet final, though, and we still need to have a plenary meeting before we can announce our final decision," Komnas HAM chairman Ifdhal Kasim said in text message sent from Malaysia, where he joined an investigation team to probe the death of three Indonesian migrant workers.
Disappointed over the delay in the announcement, some of survivors from the 1965 purge suspected that Komnas HAM was not serious in fighting for their cause.
"What else do you need to prove? There have been many witnesses, including me, who have suffered from injustice. I was kept on Buru Island for years for no apparent reason. My parents were sent away to Nusa Kambangan Island without explanation. And my uncle was murdered," said Untung Bejo, one of the purge survivors.
The Hague, Netherlands Ten relatives of Indonesian men allegedly killed by Dutch troops in their country's bloody struggle for independence are demanding compensation and an apology from the Netherlands.
A lawyer for the Indonesians says their relatives were summarily executed by Dutch forces in a series of massacres in villages in South Sulawesi province in 1947.
Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld says more than 3,000 Indonesians were killed in three months during a Dutch crackdown intended to "cleanse" the province of pro-independence insurgents.
Monday's demand comes months after Zegveld successfully sued the Dutch state in a similar case a massacre on Indonesia's main island of Java, also during the independence war. The foreign ministry said it was studying the claim.
Camelia Pasandaran The Indonesian government warned local promoters to be aware of the country's "traditions" and "culture" before inviting foreign entertainers to perform. The announcement came in the wake of police refusing on Tuesday to issue a permit for Lady Gaga's sold-out Jakarta concert, which was originally scheduled for June 3.
Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry spokesman I Gusti Ngurah Putra admitted in a phone interview on Tuesday that that his ministry originally approved Lady Gaga's Jakarta concert. But Putra said the ministry did not object to police refusing to issue the permit.
"Promoters must clearly understand our traditions, rules and cultures. They're professionals, they should have considered those things when making deals with artists and their managers," Putra said.
Putra also said people had expressed concerns over Gaga's "vulgar" outfits and stage performances, adding that his ministry was stringent in how they wanted the concert to be managed. "We've been drafting norms and criteria guidelines not only for [Gaga's] concert, but also for other artists or art groups that want to perform here. We'll recommend their performances as long they're in line with Indonesia's culture. I think professionals must appreciate rules made by others, as long as [the rules] are clear," Putra said.
"[Performers] should wear unrevealing outfits as for Lady Gaga, I've heard she would wear an Indonesian designer's product, but I'm not very well informed of the deal and its details," he added.
Putra emphasized that the authority to issue permits for concerts ultimately fell to the police, and not the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said on Tuesday that the National Police decided against issuing a permit for Lady Gaga's June 3 concert, following demands from some local hardline Islamist groups to cancel it.
The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) had threatened to dispatch 30,000 of its supporters to forcibly prevent Gaga from stepping off her plane when she landed in Indonesia.
Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta People's Consultative Assembly chairman, Taufik Kiemas, has welcomed the Jakarta Police's decision recommending the National Police withhold the permit for Lady Gaga's concert on June 3.
"I think the police thoroughly considered everything before issuing such a recommendation because they have never banned any concerts before," the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) member told reporters at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
He added that several Indonesian artists had also appeared in revealing costumes during their concerts; however, the treatment was different for Gaga as she was a foreign artist.
Jakarta Church groups are urging the National Police to reverse their decision to deny a permit for US singer Lady Gaga's upcoming concert in Jakarta, saying that it will hinder freedom of expression.
The Indonesian Bishops' Conference (KWI) rights commission secretary Benny Susetyo told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that the police bowed to pressure from hard-line groups such as the infamous Islam Defenders Front (FPI).
"This is dangerous for our democracy, because our law enforcers have surrendered to such brutal groups. The police should have good reasons to ban Gaga's concert, not merely because of the groups' pressure," he said.
The Jakarta Police have also not issued a recommendation to the National Police to issue a permit for Gaga's concert on June 3 at Bung Karno Main Stadium in Senayan, Central Jakarta.
While the police have claimed that the decision was made because Gaga "has been spreading pornography" that is not suitable for local audiences, other organizations such as the FPI have been denouncing the pop sensation.
Commenting on this, Benny said that the police should explain their decision transparently to the public. "We need to have a non-judgmental attitude in assessing artistic performances. Besides, the freedom of expression is guaranteed within our Constitution," he said.
The Communion of Indonesian Churches (PGI) chairman Andreas Yewangoe separately hit out over the decision, saying that members of Indonesia's civil society should be trusted to judge art performances.
"If other parties act like they are the nation's moral police all the time, Indonesians will not have a chance to grow up," he said.
In late April, conservative Christian groups in South Korea staged a series of protests against Lady Gaga during her recent concert in Seoul, accusing her of advocating homosexuality and pornography, The Korea Herald has reported. South Korean artists and critics, however, called for cultural tolerance among the conservative churches.
The Korea Media Rating Board gave an over-18 rating to the concert, saying her song Just Dance, to be performed at the concert, is "inappropriate" for minors. The singer indirectly criticized the Korean government's move to enforce the age restriction. (asa)
Natasia Christy Wahyuni While radical Indonesian Islamic groups have voiced their opposition to the planned Lady Gaga concert in Jakarta, the secretary general of the Indonesian Council of Churches said on Tuesday the international pop star should be allowed to perform because of freedom of expression.
"Don't teach our young generation with pseudo-formality by wearing good outfits but being bad on the inside," Gomar Gultom, secretary general of the Indonesian Council of Churches (PGI), said responding to complaints about Lady Gaga's wardrobe.
Islamic radical groups, including the Islamic Defenders Front and the Muslim Defender Team, have threatened bad things might happen if the organizer insists on holding the show. Mahendradatta, head of the Muslim Defender Team said Lady Gaga teaches her fans how to worship the devil and she promotes immortality.
Big Daddy, the concert organizer, is still waiting for the National Police to issue the concert permit.
Gomar said labeling a show as porn or not depended on individual views and that the concert should not be banned because of sexy outfits.
He said sexy outfits would not lead young people to pornography, but lack of religious guidance would. "It is the duty of religious figures to guide people to have a clear mind and stand against pornography temptations," he said.
Jakarta While the police have apparently bowed to the so-called public pressure to ban the upcoming Lady Gaga's concert in Jakarta, an official from the Indonesia's largest Muslim organization thinks that the move is "too much".
Muhammad Imdadun Rahmat, deputy-secretary-general of Nahdlatul Ulama, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that he was against the police's decision to ban the Grammy-award winning singer's performance in Jakarta.
"The police should not have gone as far as banning the concert. They should not intervene against the freedom of expression," he said.
He was responding to the Jakarta Police's decision to recommending the National Police withhold the permit for Gaga's concert on June 3 at Bung Karno Stadium in Senayan, Central Jakarta.
The concert is one of the first stops on Lady Gaga's world tour titled "The Born This Way Ball", which is slated to run from April to October.
The singer and songwriter, famous for her unconventional fashion sense, has received backlash from hard-liner groups such as the notorious Islam Defenders Front (FPI), who accuse the performer of spreading "Satanic verses" through her music.
Commenting on this, Imdadun said that the accusation were an exaggeration. However he added that the government should call on the singer to tone down her so-called sexually provocative behavior on-stage, saying that the singer - and other artists -must nevertheless respect the country's culture.
Last week, the FPI's Jakarta branch chief, Habib Salim Alatas said that he would deploy FPI members to intercept the singer upon her arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang.
"We refuse to have Lady Gaga's feet touch our land. She's bringing the faith of Satan to our country and will thus destroy the nation's morals," he told the Post.
During her April 27 concert in Seoul, rallying conservative Christian groups condemned Lady Gaga who won a total of five Grammy Awards, three of them at last year's event for supporting homosexuality and pornography. (asa/iwa)
Markus Junianto Sihaloho If the National Police are going to ban western imports like Lady Gaga out of respect for Indonesian values, then police need to ban imports pushing "Middle Eastern culture" as well, an Indonesian lawmaker said on Tuesday.
The National Police refused to issue a permit on Tuesday for Lady Gaga's sold-out Jakarta concert in response to harsh criticism from Indonesia's hard-line Islamist organizations. The June 3 concert which already sold more than 52,000 tickets would corrupt the nation's moral fiber, conservative groups like the Islamic Defenders Front alleged.
But Ahmad Basarah, of the House of Representatives' legal affairs commission, said that the National Police cannot choose to only ban imports pushing western ideology when Middle Eastern influences often run counter to Indonesia's Pancasila.
"The government shouldn't discriminate when upholding the law," the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician said. "If they dare to cancel shows that push a liberal-capitalistic ideology like Lady Gaga, then they should also take firm action against demonstrations pushing ideologies from the Middle East."
Democratic Party lawmaker Nova Riyanti Yusuf criticized the National Police's decision, adding that Lady Gaga's concert wouldn't corrupt the nation's sense of morality.
"Whether someone goes to hell or heaven doesn't depend on whether they watch concerts or not," Nova said. "It depends on their deeds and their hearts."
But a Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker expressed support for the National Police's decision, calling Lady Gaga's dress too "obscene" and her dances too "erotic." "[Lady Gaga's performance] is obviously against the national culture and immoral," Indra said. "[The concert] would violate the Pornography law."
Indra said that going ahead with the planned concert would likely cause chaos in the capital. (BeritaSatu/JG)
Michael Bachelard, Jakarta Indonesia's national police are considering banning a performance next month by pop diva Lady Gaga amid threats of violence by Islamic extremists.
It follows an attack by religious hardliners on lesbian Muslim author Irshad Manji prompted deep soul searching in a country regarded as the Islamic world's most moderate.
The threats and attacks are part of a trend in Indonesia for extremists to bully and intimidate anyone who does not subscribe to their hard line doctrine. Police rarely act against them.
A book launch by Ms Manji, a Canadian author and Islamic reformist, was stopped by police in Jakarta this month for security reasons, and then, last Wednesday, in the university town of Yogyakarta, thugs violently broke up a discussion and attacked its 150 participants.
Ms Manji's associate, Emily Rees, was bashed with an iron bar by men wearing motorcycle helmets and masks. She was among three women hospitalised.
Ms Manji was discussing her latest book, Allah, Liberty and Love, which urges reformist Muslims to show "moral courage" in the face of intimidation. She said she was shielded from the attackers by "a pyramid of women".
Ms Rees got a badly bruised arm and said the men were yelling "Where is Manji? Where is Manji?" as they smashed windows, crockery and computers and tore up copies of the book.
The Majelis Mujahidin Council claimed responsibility and other extremists including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and Muslim Defenders Team have turned their attention to Lady Gaga.
The head of the front, Habib Rizieq Syihab, said the performer wanted to "establish the evil Lucifer empire in Indonesia". He threatened to stop her at Jakarta airport or mobilise 30,000 members to attack her June 3 stadium concert.
Indonesia has all but rid itself of its homegrown terrorist threat but violent rhetoric and religiously motivated physical assault has increased dramatically. Ms Manji visited Indonesia peacefully in 2008 but says it is "going in the direction more of Pakistan than that of a democracy".
"Four years ago, Indonesia was open enough and tolerant enough that FPI supporters and a transsexual could be there at my discussion. They disagreed strongly with each other but, as far as I know, everyone went home safely. That is simply inconceivable today."
Foreign visitors are not the sole target. A Christian congregation in Bogor has been prevented for years by local Muslim hardliners from building a church, despite a Supreme Court ruling in its favour. Shiite Muslims and followers of the Ahmadiyya sect are increasingly victims of attack, and an atheist is on trial for blasphemy.
The FPI chief called at a recent public rally for the "secretive assassination" of liberal Muslims as part of his followers' "freedom of expression".
Liberal Muslim academic Luthfi Assyaukanie said the hardliners shared the view of terrorists of an earlier generation but used different tactics. But it was "only a matter of time" until people were killed because "the intensity is growing".
Radical groups act with impunity from police, who, rather than enforce Indonesia's constitutional right of freedom of speech, prefer to cite "community opposition" and "security", and then shut down controversial events.
National police spokesman Saud Nasution said Lady Gaga's concert had so far been denied a permit, on the recommendation of police, even though 40,000 tickets have been sold.
Jakarta, Indonesia Indonesian police on Tuesday, May 15, refused to allow pop phenomenon Lady Gaga to perform in Jakarta after Islamic hardliners vowed to mobilize thousands of supporters against the "devil's messenger."
The concert planned for June 3 in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country "will have to be cancelled", national police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution told AFP. "We will not issue a permit for the Lady Gaga concert in Jakarta," he said.
Indonesia's hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) had mounted protests in the capital, vowing to intercept the "Poker Face" singer at the airport and ensure she does not enter the country.
"We're very glad the police stopped this moral destroyer from coming to this country, where we believe in God. Of course we stand against her she only wears panties and a bra," FPI Jakarta chairman Habib Salim Alatas told AFP.
"She is very dangerous for our young generation. She has even said herself that she's the devil's messenger," he said, apparently taking past remarks out of context, after the FPI had threatened to bring thousands onto the streets.
There was no immediate reaction from Lady Gaga, who has the world's biggest following on Twitter. But her fans, known as "little monsters", took to social media in their thousands.
Theithooker tweeted: "The only one that needs to be banned is FPI itself. They're embarrassing this country on a daily basis."
Fans set up a new Twitter hashtag called "#IndonesiaSavesGaga" to try to get the police decision overturned. But another little monster said: "It's not a matter of #IndonesiaSavesGaga, it's more like whether Gaga can save Indonesia."
Big Daddy Productions, the promoters, have already sold more than 50,000 tickets and declined to confirm whether the show, part of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way Ball" world tour, had been officially cancelled.
Another national police spokesman said the force had "no problem with Lady Gaga" but could not issue a permit without a letter of recommendation from the Jakarta police, who "have decided not to do that". The Jakarta city police said they had received objections to the show by the National Ulema Council, Indonesia's top Islamic body.
"The first thing we've heard from various public leaders is that Lady Gaga doesn't deserve the attention of so many people," said Jakarta police spokesman Rikwanto, who goes by one name. "They said her outfits are too sexy, indulgent and erotic."
Ninety percent of Indonesia's 240 million people identify themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practise a moderate form of Islam.
Lady Gaga has faced opposition elsewhere on the Asia leg of her tour. The Korean Association of Church Communication vowed in March to take "concerted action to stop young people from being infected with homosexuality and pornography" during the US star's concert in Seoul.
But Lady Gaga has not toned down her performances so far. At shows in Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo, she has ridden on to the stage on a mechanical horse, wearing a black bodysuit and an enormous black metal headpiece.
Lady Gaga will perform in Taipei on Thursday and Friday, and will then head to Manila, Bangkok and Singapore. She was due to play in Jakarta after that, before flying south to New Zealand and Australia.
In the past, performers such as Beyonce and the Pussycat Dolls have been allowed to perform in Indonesia provided they dressed more conservatively.
Concerts by Western artists in Indonesia's fellow Islamic neighbour Malaysia have also stirred controversy. Beyonce was forced to cancel a 2007 event there after conservative Muslim groups threatened protests.
Bayu Marhaenjati Pop superstar Lady Gaga's upcoming Jakarta concert should be canceled the Jakarta Police said on Sunday, citing a flurry of objections from Indonesia's Islamic organizations ranging from issues with the US pop star's provocative outfits to allegations of devil worship.
Lady Gaga's sold-out Jakarta concert is scheduled for June 3, but police have yet to decide whether Indonesia's 40,000 ticket-holders will be able to see Lady Gaga perform.
The planned concert has attracted the ire of hard-line Islamists the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), who called Lady Gaga to the devil during rallies and warned that her concert will degrade the nation's sense of morality.
The Jakarta Police recommended that the concert be canceled. But, in the end, the decision is out of their hands. "The concert permit is issued by the National Police," Jakarta Police spokesman Rikwanto said, "but the Jakarta Police doesn't recommend the concert be held."
The National Police are still undecided whether to allow Lady Gaga to perform in Jakarta. "We're still discussing it," National Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told Beritasatu.com. "The concert is slated for June, so we haven't made a decision. We'll announce whether or not we'll issue a permit later."
The Muslim Defenders Team urged the police to cancel the concert to prevent possible conflicts between Islamists and Lady Gaga fans. "We ask the National Police to take into consideration the public's opposition to Lady Gaga's concert," said M. Mahendradatta, board chairman for the Muslim Defenders Team an organization known for representing hard-line Islamists and alleged terrorists.
Mahendradatta said that the pop diva promotes devil worship and that her concert will corrupt the moral sensibilities of young Indonesians. "Whether you like it or not, Lady Gaga teaches [fans] to worship the devil," he said. "That goes against the teachings of any religion. We don't approve of that."
The Muslim Defenders Team, Mahendradatta said, are not trying to pressure police into canceling the concert. "There is no pressure, just a consideration to prevent conflicts," he said.
But the FPI have taken a harder stance on the pop star's Jakarta concert and threatened to mobilize 30,000 protesters to stop Lady Gaga from entering the country.
"We will stop her from setting foot on our land. She had better not dare spread her satanic faith in this country," FPI Jakarta chairman Salim Alatas told AFP. "Her style is vulgar, her sexual and indecent clothes will destroy our children's sense of morality. She's very dangerous."
FPI's leader Rizieq Syihab furthered the devil worshiping claims, adding that the singer was planning to build Lucifer's kingdom in Indonesia. "If she performed, I will send Muslims in Jakarta to stop the concert," he said in Temanggung.
The pop star's "Born This Way" Asian tour has drawn protest from religious conservatives in South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Jakarta Hundreds of people describing themselves as the Yogyakarta People's Non-Violence Movement staged a rally on Friday, urging the disbandment of the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) following its raid on a book discussion.
Head of the Yogyakarta chapter of the Indonesian Muslim Students' Movement (PMII), Imam Azis, said that the MMI, along with other hard-line groups, had been tainting the city's pluralist image.
"Those kinds of groups are disrupting the peace in our region. Yogyakarta people are ready to stand up. Long live tolerant Yogyakarta," he said, as quoted by kompas.com.
The demonstrators protested the recent mob of MMI members who attacked participants of a book discussion at the Social and Islamic Studies Institute (LKiS) in Sorowajan, Bantul, on Wednesday.
Canadian liberal Muslim activist and author Irshad Manji suffered minor injuries in the attack, while her assistant suffered bruising to her right arm. The event's participants, mostly women, were also injured.
Imam said the incident showed that the police failed to protect the people, adding that local authorities must redeem themselves by conducting a thorough investigation. (asa)
Jakarta Hundreds of people from the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) attacked participants in a book discussion of Canadian author Irshad Manji's Allah, Liberty and Love at the LKiS publishing office in Yogyakarta on Wednesday night.
The mob broke down the door to the office and headed to LKiS hall where the discussion was held. The discussion started at 7 p.m. with the organizer closing the doors and gates for safety reasons, tempo.co reported.
However, 30 minutes later a group from the MMI broke open the gate and door and shouted "LKiS dismissed!" Participants did not move, with some circling the squatting Irshad to cover her.
The mob vandalized properties of the publisher's office and tore sheets of Irshad's books that were displayed for sale.
The MMI said Irshad's so-called liberty and lesbianism propaganda was blasphemous toward Islam and that her teachings represented covert atheist propaganda.
They also considered all those who facilitated Irshad's event in Indonesia to be enemies of religion and the state. "Islam does not teach people to become lesbians," said individuals in the MMI group.
During the incident, no police officers were seen at the site.(iwa)
Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta Gadjah Mada University (UGM) is taking the heat for its decision to ban Canadian liberal Muslim activist Irshad Manji from speaking at a discussion organized by the university's Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS).
The UGM rector was reported to have decided on the ban the night before Manji was expected to give a talk, citing security reasons, a decision which was met with condemnation given UGM's long history as a bastion for academic free speech.
Political analyst from Paramadina University, Yudi Latief, considered the ban a tragedy for academia. "This is a tragedy. UGM should be on the front lines of knowledge dissemination and should put primacy in the power of logic instead of the logic of power," he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Yudi said that universities should be places where individuals could exchange ideas freely, no matter how heated arguments would become. "In academia, those who disagree with other people's views can offer a thesis to counter that idea," he said.
Yudi said that UGM's ban on Manji did not bode well for the country's fledgling democracy. "Our democracy would come to an end if more institutions as prestigious as UGM bowed to threats of violence," he said.
Chairman of the CRCS program, Zainal Abidin Bagir, criticized UGM's management, saying that by cancelling the talk, UGM had accommodated demands from thugs who had opted for violence and threats rather than for dialogue.
"What happens if time and again we have to back down to violent threats? What should we do if such a mentality permeates esteemed academic forums?" he said in a statement.
The discussion of Manji's book Allah, Liberty and Love was slated to be held at 9 a.m. in UGM's postgraduate programs building.
Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X told the Tribun Jogja daily that there was no need to worry about Manji's appearance because it was merely an academic discussion.
"The ban was unnecessary. Maybe some mass organizations thought that they had the right [to ban Manji], but can't they just talk to the rector?" he said as quoted by Tribun Jogja on Wednesday. The governor referred to the groups that staged protests against Manji's visit to the province.
Last Friday evening, Manji's book discussion at Salihara in Jakarta was disrupted by local authorities who questioned the event's permit. A group of residents staging protests during the event also said that they rejected the author because she openly declared that she was a lesbian.
The same argument was used by firebrand Islamic groups, which pressurized the UGM rector to call off the discussion.
Harmoko Anggriawan of the Alliance of Jogja Movement for National Morality said that Manji's ideas could be considered blasphemous as they insulted the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad.
"Her thoughts are also against Indonesian law and culture because she, among other things, is pushing to make homosexuality halal [sanctioned according to Islamic teaching]," Harmoko said.
On Wednesday morning, dozens of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) members staged a rally at the UGM traffic circle, protesting Manji's so-called promotion of lesbianism. UGM denied that it had banned Manji, but admitted that some groups had been pressuring for cancellation of the talk.
The university spokesperson Wijayanti said that the cancellation was decided after receiving input from a number of parties.
"UGM considers this as a way of maintaining the security of our guests, campus members and working partners. We need to be extremely cautious these days because the security condition has not been really conducive lately," she said.
Later on Wednesday, members of Mujaheddin Council ransacked the office of the Institute for Islamic and Social Studies (LKiS), where Manji held a discussion on invitation from the institute. One person was injured in the incident.
Slamet Susanto, Bantul The police claim that no one has filed a criminal report following the brutal attack launched by Muslim hard-liners at the LKiS publishing office during a book launch for Canadian author Irshad Manji on Wednesday night.
"We have investigated the scene and found corroborating facts showing that there were attacks and vandalism. However, we haven't received reports from victims, therefore we haven't arrested anyone," Bantul Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Dewi Hartati said on Thursday.
Dewi, however, was clear in calling the attack a criminal act. "Of course it was a crime five people are being treated," she said.
She was referring to the people, including Manji's assistant, Emily, who were injured after hundreds of people from the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) broke down the door to the office and assaulted participants. The mob also vandalized the publisher's office and destroyed copies of Irshad's books that were on sale.
A representative of the MMI said Irshad's "liberty and lesbianism" propaganda was unrepentant about the attack, calling Manji "blasphemous" and saying that her teachings were atheist propaganda. Meanwhile, Bambang Tedy, a leader of the Islam Defender Front (FPI) said that the hard-line group was not involved in Wednesday's mayhem.
Gadjah Mada University cancelled a discussion involving Manji on Wednesday, citing "security reasons". Manji's book discussion at the Salihara Cultural Center in Jakarta was halted just after it started on Friday night, after local police claimed that the organizers lacked a needed permit.
The Canadian author did speak at a discussion hosted by the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) on Saturday in South Jakarta, under heavy guard from Banser NU, the youth wing of Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama. (swd)
Farouk Arnaz Sick of what they see as a hands-off approach to policing Indonesia's hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), members of the Indonesia Without FPI Movement issued a stern warning to the National Police on Thursday: crack down on FPI violence or face legal action.
"We will give you two weeks, starting today, to reform the police department," spokesman Dhyta Caturani, of the Indonesia Without FPI Movement, said on Thursday. "If after two weeks the police still allow the FPI to use violence and intimidation in the name of religion, we will file a lawsuit."
The police have historically ignored acts of violence and intimidation committed by the Islamist organization, Dhyta said, including a number of recent high-profile incidents.
The FPI announced on Wednesday plans to mass at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to stop Lady Gaga from performing her scheduled June 3 concert in Jakarta.
Last week, police shut down a reading in South Jakarta by Irshad Manji, author of the book "Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom" after more than a hundred protestors led by the FPI gathered outside the Salihara cultural center.
In January, the group threw stones at the Home Affairs Ministry in January after ministry officials announced changes to regional bylaws on the sale of alcohol.
The FPI's use of violence and intimidation is against Indonesia's constitution, Dhyta said. But National Police spokesman Ins. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution denied allegations that the police are afraid of the FPI.
"When facing a social problem, especially if it is related to religious harmony or mass protests, we work with the appropriate ministry," Saud said. "If it is about religious freedom, we support the Religious Affairs Ministry. If it is about protests, we support the Home Affairs Ministry. But if it is against the law, we start the legal process."
Saud explained that the police use persuasive dialogue when addressing the FPI during protests. And if the protest gets out of hand, the National Police often arrest the smaller group usually the focus of the FPI's fury to prevent a large problem, he added.
"It doesn't mean we lose against the larger group," he said, referring to the FPI. "We realize that someone wants us to stand against the FPI. But we don't want to do it because that would not solve the problem."
Farouk Arnaz Members of the Salihara cultural center filed a complaint against Pasar Minggu, where the center is located, and the South Jakarta police chiefs on Thursday for quashing a book discussion featuring liberal Canadian Muslim activist Irshad Manji last week.
"[The police] unfairly sided with the group that wants to dissolve Irshad's book discussion," said Nirwan Dewanto, program director of Salihara cultural center. "They were not professional by letting the demonstrators into the yard of the Salihara building, who destroyed the fence and disturbed public order."
Nirwan said police intimidated attendees and offered them no protection, and even threatened to forcefully take Irshad away if the participants of the discussion refused to leave.
"That's why we reported Pasar Minggu and the South Jakarta police chiefs to the police's Bureau of Professionalism and Security Affairs, because they failed to protect, provide security and instead dissolved the discussion."
But South Jakarta police chief Imam Sugianto said he was not overly concerned. "They have the right to report," Imam said. "I will just face it because we have a reason for what we did."
The planned book discussion by Canadian Irshad Manji with the title of "Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom" last week was heavily protested by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR). These organizations accused Irshad of trying to promote homosexuality and liberal Islamic teachings.
Irshad had only spoken for about 15 minutes when the police interrupted her, announcing that the event should be called off because hundreds of members of the FBI and FBR had congregated outside the building and demanded an end to the event. Manji was escorted out of Salihara under heavy police guard.
Police said that Salihara breached a law on assembly by failing to report that they planned to feature Irshad as a speaker. But Nirwan denied that approval was needed from the police.
"No regulation was breached," Nirwan said. "Permits to conduct events only apply when an institution conducts an event with more than 300 people. It was only 120-150 people attending [the discussion]."
Ismira Lutfia The specter of religious violence reared its head again on Wednesday when Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University cancelled a speaking event featuring liberal Muslim activist Irshad Manji, citing pressure from a group of hundreds of people who showed up at the university on Tuesday night and demanded the event not occur.
It was only several days ago that Manji had to be escorted out of a similar event in Jakarta after hundreds of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) members and supporters showed up to demand it cease at once, and Gadjah Mada University (UGM) officials said they were worried something like that could happen again.
"UGM deems it important to be extra careful, given the recent unfavorable security situations," UGM spokesman Wijayanti said.
Manji, a Canadian national, recently released a book entitled "Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom," and that's what she was scheduled to talk about at UGM. Her book was also the subject of the event in Jakarta, which took place on Friday at the Salihara cultural center.
Wijayanti said she didn't know if the people who came to UGM on Tuesday night were from any particular group or organization. She said that the university wasn't against Manji but that the decision to the cancel the event had been made after consulting with other parties.
Anis Maftuhin, managing director of Rene Book, Manji's publisher, said UGM should have stuck to its guns and let the event go on as planned.
A similar Manji discussion at Walisongo Islamic State University in Salatiga (STAIN), Central Java, on Tuesday went over smoothly, he said. "STAIN took a firm stance," he said, adding that the discussion there had been "interactive and warm."
The FPI activists from Friday's event accused Manji of trying to spread homosexuality among Indonesian Muslims and demanded that the government deport her. (BeritaSatu/JG)
Jakarta The hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) says it will send six members to shoo away fans flocking Lady Gaga's concert if the US singer-songwriter goes ahead with plans for the concert.
"Muslims are ready to close down [the concert]. She has 60,000 people in the audience, while six will be enough for the FPI. They will disperse," FPI Jakarta branch chief Salim Assegaf said Monday as quoted by kompas.com.
The FPI has taken a stand against what it defines as "skin-revealing" artists coming into the country, including Lady Gaga.
Salim advised his members not to come to the concert because doing so would be counterproductive. "She's bringing the faith of Satan to our country, as opposed to progress. She will destroy the nation's morals," he said.
He said he would also deploy FPI members to intercept the singer upon her arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the suburb of Cengkareng, west of Jakarta.
"You can be sure about that. We will be dispatching local FPI members especially from nearby units, such as the FPI Tangerang and the FPI Banten," Salim said.
The singer is scheduled to perform in Jakarta as part of her "Born This Way World Tour" on June 3 at Gelora Bung Karno's main stadium in Senayan, Central Jakarta. (png/mtq)
Markus Junianto Sihaloho & SP/Robertus Wardi Two years before the nation goes to the polls to elect the next president, a debate has emerged over the requirements for nominating candidates.
Golkar Deputy Secretary General Nurul Arifin said on Tuesday that the presidential threshold, or the minimum vote a party must garner in legislative elections to be able to nominate a presidential candidate, should be set higher than the current 20 percent.
"If it has to be revised, Golkar Party proposes that the presidential threshold be raised to 25 percent," Nurul said. "The aim is for less vote fragmentation and waste so that we can focus on a small number of candidates."
However, politicians from other parties have requested that the threshold be lowered in the hopes of producing a more varied pool of nominees.
Last week, Anas Urbaningrum, the chairman of the ruling Democratic Party, supported the idea of lowering the presidential threshold to just 15 percent, arguing that such a level should stimulate more candidates to come forward.
House Deputy Speaker Anis Matta, a member of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), echoed on Tuesday Anas' hopes for a lower threshold Anis argued that more prospective nominees will stimulate a fair and healthy field of candidates.
Rounding out the advocates for a lower threshold, Saleh Husin, faction secretary of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), also backed efforts to ease restrictions for prospective presidential candidates.
"I think what has been suggested by several parties is good," Saleh said. "Parties that make the parliamentary threshold should automatically be able to nominate presidential candidates." Saleh added that the more candidates there are, the more options the public has in choosing a qualified leader.
Under the current threshold standards from the last legislative elections in 2009, only the ruling democratic party garnered more than required 20 percent; Golkar earned 14.45 percent, followed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) with 14.03 percent.
Meanwhile Tjatur Sapto Edy of the National Mandate Party (PAN), a member of the pro-government coalition, also wanted the presidential threshold to be reduced. "I think about 15 percent is adequate. We are ready to discuss this with our friends," Tjatur said.
Ezra Sihite Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie has denied talk of rift within the party after some senior politicians publicly questioned his presidential candidacy.
Aburizal said that while he would wait for Golkar's national leadership meeting in June to make his candidacy official, he was currently the party's only candidate.
"There are no more rifts inside the party right now," he said in Depok, West Java, on Friday after delivering a lecture at the city's Cakra Buana School. Aburizal did acknowledge, however, that there was a difference of opinion among some party officials.
Commenting on Akbar Tanjung, the party's chief of patrons who was once considered an ally of Aburizal but has recently spoken out against him, Aburizal said both of them had contributed to the party. "So it's over. No more division among members," he reiterated.
Aburizal and Akbar met on Tuesday after the latter voiced his objection to the party's rush to nominate Aburizal. Members of the party and outsiders have suggested that Akbar's words were a sign of a rift among Golkar members.
Tuesday's meeting failed to persuade Akbar to support Aburizal. Akbar insisted that other party members be given the opportunity to challenge the party leader. He also warned that the business tycoon's early candidacy could hurt the party's performance in the 2014 legislative elections.
"The board of patrons cannot interfere if the central board says its decision is already final," Akbar said after the meeting. "We have given our recommendation. Hopefully, there is not much resistance [from members]."
Aburizal also played down the suggestion that Jusuf Kalla, the former vice president and a Golkar stalwart, would be nominated by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party. He said that Kalla's strong reputation among the other parties was a positive thing. "It means we have many high quality members," he said.
Last week, senior Democratic politician Ahamd Mubarok mentioned Kalla as a possible presidential candidate for the party as Yudhoyono could not run again because of a constitutional term limit.
Separately, senior Golkar official Ade Komarudin reiterated the position of the party's central board that its decision on Aburizal's candidacy was final.
However, Zainal Bintang, another senior politician within the party, said that if Aburizal failed to win the presidency, then all officials on the central board should quit their posts.
Zainal, who is known to be an ally of Kalla, acknowledged that it was difficult to block the central board's move to name Aburizal as the sole candidate. He also said that Golkar should learn from its mistakes because divisions within the party had led to setbacks in the two previous elections.
In 2004, Kalla challenged Golkar's official candidate, Wiranto, a retired Army general, by running with Yudhoyono. That split the party and contributed to Wiranto's loss in the election.
Five years later, Kalla offered himself as the party's sole candidate. Several party members, led by Akbar, opposed the move. Kalla won the nomination, but went on to lose the election. Aburizal served as a minister early in Yudhoyono's time in office.
Apriadi Gunawan and Ridwan Max Sijabat, Medan/Jakarta Scores of Golkar members burned their yellow party jackets in Medan, North Sumatra, on Monday to protest against chairman Aburizal "Ical" Bakrie's dismissal of 12 local functionaries for reportedly opposing his presidential bid.
"The party leadership should respond to this protest immediately. Otherwise we will stage a bigger demonstration," action coordinator Suma Mahalau said after the protest outside Golkar's local office in Medan, North Sumatra.
"The dismissal reflects the chairman's arrogance. It must be stopped for the sake of democracy within the party," Suma added.
Golkar's executive board recently issued a letter that fired 12 local party officials in a move to "revitalize" the party in North Sumatra. The firings were said to be aimed at freeing the officials of party duties so they could focus on their work as representatives on local legislative councils.
The officials fired included Golkar's North Sumatra branch deputy chairman Syafruddin Basyir, North Sumatra secretary Hardi Mulyono and local civic action bureau chairman Sahril Siregar.
Several deputy officials were also fired: Tajuddin Noor, who worked on labor, cooperative and microfinance affairs; Reza Fahrumi Taher, who worked on strategic issues, Syamsul Komar, who worked on organizational affairs; and two others with unidentified portfolios, Rajamin Sirait and Serta Ginting.
Sabar Sitepu, who was fired from his posts as deputy chairman of Golkar's North Sumatra branch and as the leader of Golkar in the Medan City Council, said that the officials were fired for a lack of loyalty to the party leadership in Jakarta.
"The replacement reflects the anger of party leaders at provincial functionaries, who have been deemed unable of settling the pros and cons over Ical's presidential bid. Unlike others, I personally agreed with Ical's nomination as a presidential candidate. My loyalty is to the party and to the current leadership. But why was I replaced?" Sabar said. "I am awaiting a plausible explanation from Jakarta," he said.
The party has been divided between nominating either Ical or Akbar Tandjung, the current chairman of the party's patron board, as Golkar's presidential candidate in 2014.
Riza Fakrumi, another fired Golkar official, voiced a similar sentiment, saying that the officials were victims of the party's oligarchy and had not violated the party's internal rules.
Sabar and Riza agreed that the dismissals were connected to a recent petition submitted by 55 local party officials and members to the national leadership, asking that provincial chapter chief Andi Achmad Dara be replaced for incompetence. Andi, who has been seldom seen in North Sumatra, was also a confidant of Ical, the officials said.
Separately, Muntasir Hamid, the chairman of the party's Banda Aceh branch, regretted the internal conflict, saying that the dissension might spread to other provinces if Ical continued his arrogant, oligarchical leadership of the party.
Golkar members in North Sumatra and Aceh have contended Ical's claim that his candidacy was supported by the party's executive board and heads of the party's 33 provincial chapters.
Aburizal, currently on a road show in East Java, said on Sunday that the party would proceed with its accelerated schedule for a special leadership meeting in June to nominate him as Golkar's presidential candidate. Golkar members in Aceh and North Sumatra no longer contested his bid, Ical has said.
Separately, Golkar patron board chairman Akbar regretted the protest on Monday, saying the party leadership should have settled the dismissals peacefully to maintain its internal solidity.
"[The dismissals] are normal and sometime are needed but it should have been communicated well. The party leadership should have summoned the fired functionaries and given a plausible explanation, or they and their supporters will otherwise go out and leap to other parties," he said over telephone from Bangkok. "This will certainly affect the party," he added.
Akbar asked that Ical listen to local functionaries, party supporters at the grass roots and to their aspirations to build a more democratic party.
Kafil Yamin The fate of a gender equality bill pending in Indonesia's parliament and aligned with the United Nations convention on the elimination of all forms discrimination against women (CEDAW) has become uncertain after falling afoul of powerful Islamist groups.
No fewer than six major Islamic organizations have formally objected to the equality bill on the ground that some of its articles go against Islamic values in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation where 80 percent of its 238 million people are followers of the faith.
Organizations opposed to the bill include the influential Indonesian Ulema Council, the Indonesian Consultative Council for Muslim Women Organizations, Aisyiah, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) and the Islamic Community Party.
Iffah Ainur Rochmah, spokeswoman for HTI, said after an important consultation with parliament's commission on religion and social affairs held on Mar. 16 that gender equality and policies that encourage women to seek employment could only lead to conflicts within marriages. According to Rochmah, divorce rates among female teachers were high because "wives with better earnings may feel superior to men, leading to conflict."
The bill goes against the grain of the Islamic Shariah law on inheritance, which favors males. It also allows a man or a woman to freely choose a marriage partner regardless of religious persuasion and seeks to legalize homosexual or lesbian marriages.
Many ordinary women now accuse non-government organizations such as the international Women Against Shariah (WAS) for creating confusion in Indonesian society that has set notions about the place of men and women in it.
According to WAS, Shariah law imposes second class status on women and is incompatible with the basic principles of human rights that include equality under the law and the protection of individual freedoms.
"Indonesian women have no problems with men, but there is a tiny group of people which is out to create problems," said Salwa Amira, a young Muslim woman who is an environmental consultant to a South Korean firm in Jakarta.
Amira said feminist groups and NGOs were promoting the bill. "These are small groups of women who talk a lot," she said. "Their campaigns attract some women who happen to be going through some crisis."
"Yes, some Indonesian women are excluded from job positions, but so are men," said Muhammad Abas, a regional head of the country's religious affairs department. "Sexual abuse, trafficking and labor conditions are not problems of gender, but of the law," he added.
Some analysts believe that it is only a matter of time before the bill, originally due to have been passed on Apr. 15, becomes law. There is no official word on when it will be taken up again in parliament.
"The Indonesian government has already ratified CEDAW as government regulation in 1984," Nining Widaningsih, a well-known commentator on women's affairs, told IPS. "The bill is meant to amend this regulation, which still leaves a lot of disadvantages for women."
The 2011-2015 United Nations Population Fund's program in Indonesia has plans to address gender-based violence "through improved policies and social protection systems, in alignment with the CEDAW, the International Conference on Population and Development's programme of action and national legislation."
Indonesia's women empowerment and children protection ministry reports that the number of domestic violence cases has increased during the last two years 105,103 cases in 2010 and 119,107 cases in 2011.
But, what irks many ordinary women is allegedly hyped up data on gender violence released by some NGOs. "It's amazing how these NGOs can collect data so easily in a large and diverse country like Indonesia. We are a society that keeps domestic affairs out of public view," Amira said.
Yeni Huriani, a lecturer at the State Islamic University of Bandung, said many NGOs have no credibility. "Let's be honest, there are some NGOs who attempt to draw public attention by creating controversy and may possibly be trying to attract donor funds," she said.
Recently an obscure NGO, Keadilan Jender dan Hak Asasi Manusia (Gender Justice and Human Rights) published a survey alleging that students of Islamic boarding schools in Central Java become the victims of sexual abuse by their teachers.
Although the survey did not cite any responsible teacher, student or manager of the Islamic school, it found its way to the popular "Solopos" tabloid, sparking outrage among the Muslim leaders, academics, and students.
"How can such unreliable information be spread among the public? Sadly, this is the kind of information that is used by feminist lobbyists to press their agenda," Yeni said.
"This is the work of radical feminists who are fed by the West," Kirana Andilycia, a housewife, commented in the Facebook group "No to Gender Equality Bill." "It has been stamped in their minds that Muslim women are oppressed, beaten, and excluded from public positions, although the facts are different."
Kirana said it is not difficult to see that the real aspirations of Indonesian women are not reflected in the bill. "I think freeing women from breastfeeding and demanding 30 percent of [House of Representatives] seats are a bit much. That is not what Indonesian women want.
"We will stick to Islamic teaching in women's affairs. God created women different from men. Our duties and responsibilities are different. Our tendencies and inclinations are different. But we are equal as human beings, as God's creatures."
Figures from World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2010 show that 21 percent of parliamentary legislators and 15 percent of government ministers in Indonesia were women. The same report shows 20 percent of Indonesia's senior officials and managers are women.
Similarly, the World Bank's "World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development" says Indonesia has made good progress in improving health outcomes among women and girls, and has also managed to increase women's access to finance and justice.
Said Coen Hikmah, a Muslim businesswoman: "It is sad to see that while more and more European and American women are turning to Islam as an alternative way of life, we are promoting this bill."
"The problem in Indonesia is not the absence of gender equality but poor law enforcement. Abusing women, children and human beings in general is a crime," Coen said.
Jakarta The government has paid a total of Rp 2.8 billion (US$303,753) in subsidies over the past five months for 8,100 informal workers to take part in social security programs at state-owned insurance company PT Jamsostek.
Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said on Sunday that informal workers from nine provinces were registered with health care, occupational accident and death benefit plans due to financial incapacity.
"The granting of subsidies is aimed at raising the awareness of workers in the importance of social security protection and attracting more workers in the informal sector to take part in the social security programs," he said.
Under the 1992 social security program law and Ministerial Decree No. 24/2006 on guidelines of social security programs in Indonesia, companies having at least ten workers or paying at least Rp 1 million in monthly salaries to their workers are required to register their workers with Jamsostek.
"The granting of a social security subsidy is expected to create a feeling of safety and to attract more informal workers to pay their monthly payroll, at least to the three programs," he said.
So far, only 9.5 million of 35 million formal workers and around 670,000 of 77 million informal workers, mainly in small-scale enterprises and agriculture and plantation sectors, have been registered with Jamsostek.
Dessy Sagita Child health in Indonesia remains a major challenge largely because of malnutrition, although maternal health is improving, a key international report says.
The State of the World's Mothers Report 2012, released this week by the nongovernmental organization Save the Children, had Indonesia 70th out of 83 countries in its Child Index Rank.
The country was also 46th out of 81 in the Women's Index Rank. The rankings combine to make Indonesia the 59th best country to be a mother out of a total of 80 developing countries.
Indonesia's low ranking on child health was blamed on widespread malnutrition, which has resulted in moderate to severe stunting in 40 percent of children under the age of five.
The report noted that Indonesia was among the countries "that are underperforming [on child nutrition] relative to their national wealth [GDP]."
"There has been good economic growth across Southeast Asia in the last decade, but the results show that strong policies and investments targeted at improving maternal and child health, education and women's rights are necessary," said Michel Anglade, Save the Children's campaigns and advocacy director in Asia.
The report highlights "a vicious cycle of how mothers, who may themselves have been stunted in childhood, go on to give birth to underweight babies who have not been adequately nourished in the womb."
"If a mother is impoverished, overworked, poorly educated and in poor health, she may not be able to feed the baby adequately. The damage caused by malnutrition before the age of two is largely irreversible," the group said in a news release, adding that while leaps had been made in reducing child mortality, stunting remained a problem in Southeast Asia as a whole.
The Health Ministry acknowledged the high prevalence of child stunting, citing the lack of attention given to mothers during pregnancy.
"Stunting is a problem that was not too widely known in Indonesia until a few years ago. We admit that," Minarto, the ministry's director for nutrition education, told the Jakarta Globe.
"In the past few years, we were still grappling with severe malnutrition cases in some parts of the country, so we were focused more on the children instead of the pregnant women. But we have since expanded the scope of our campaign."
He said stunting could happen if the mother did not receive proper nutrition during pregnancy or if she did not visit the doctor regularly. The ministry says it has allocated Rp 700 billion ($76.3 million) annually to tackle the issue.
The ministry's 2010 Basic Health Research survey found that 35.6 percent of Indonesian children under the age of five were stunted. It has set a target of cutting that figure to 32 percent by 2014.
"We're on our way and there's a possibility that we might exceed the target with our current program," Minarto said, referring to the ministry's campaign to raise awareness about the importance of proper nutrition throughout the mother's pregnancy and until the child turns two years old.
Save the Children also noted that "the best method for protecting the pregnant mother and her baby from the vicious cycle of malnutrition is to focus on the child's first 1,000 days starting from pregnancy." With proper nutrition after birth, Minarto said, stunting could be corrected or at least minimized.
"Children who don't get proper nutrition during pregnancy and are born stunted can still catch up during their golden age, which is until they turn two. Given the proper nutrition, they can improve. It might not be perfect, but it's good enough," he said.
Minarto also said that stunting was a complicated problem. "It's mostly related to poverty and lack of education, but sometimes it's pure ignorance because the parents don't have any knowledge of proper nutrition," he said.
Subagyo Partodiharjo, a medical doctor who leads the health caucus at the House of Representatives, said that dangerous child-rearing myths were also responsible for the severity of the malnutrition problem in Indonesia.
Pregnant women are typically told not to eat certain types of food during pregnancy or when breast-feeding. That misconception, he said, often prevents them from getting the proper nutrition they need during those key periods.
Elly Burhaini Faizal, Jakarta With three years remaining ahead of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline in 2015, the number of infant and maternal deaths in 20 provinces throughout Indonesia remains high partly due to poor access to health care facilities and skilled health care workers, a health official said.
Kirana Pritasari, the Health Ministry's director for child health, said Friday that challenges to infant and maternal mortality reduction in those provinces remained high despite efforts to tackle problems underlying such fatalities.
"Starting this year, we will prioritize programs to reduce infant and maternal deaths in 150 regencies and municipalities in the 20 provinces that have highest number of infant and maternal deaths," she told a press briefing at the Health Ministry office.
Those provinces are Banten, Central Java, Central Sulawesi, East Java, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Gorontalo, Lampung, Maluku, North Sumatra, Papua, Riau, South Kalimantan, Southeast Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, South Sumatra, West Java, West Kalimantan, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), West Papua, and West Sumatra.
The country's goal is to reduce the infant mortality rate to 23 per 1,000 live births by 2015 from the current rate of 34 per 1,000 live births. The maternal death rate is projected to decline to 102 per 100,000 live births in 2015 from 228 per 100,000 live births at present.
Kirana said the programs would take place not only in areas with a high number of infant and maternal deaths, but also in particular regions with poor access to health care facilities and skilled health care workers.
"Some of those 20 provinces have a high number of maternal and infant deaths; but in some other cases, we need to prioritize certain provinces, such as Maluku, Papua and West Papua, as they have poor access to health care services due to geographical challenges," she said.
Flying Health Care is one of the special approaches the Health Ministry is currently taking to increase the health status of people living in provinces with poor infrastructure facilities, such as Papua and West Papua.
"We will also empower people in those provinces on how to manage their health so they will not depend too much on curative services," Kirana said.
The programs delivered in the 20 provinces with the highest number of infant and maternal deaths will also include Expanding Maternal and Neonatal Survival (EMAS), a five-year program funded by USAID. This program will take place in 30 regencies in six provinces, namely Banten, Central Java, East Java, North Sumatra, South Sulawesi and West Java, during the period from 2012-2016.
"In the first year, we will deliver the program in 10 regencies," said Kirana, adding that the program would run under cooperation with several organizations such as Budi Kemuliaan, Muhammadiyah, JPHIEGO, Save the Children and RTI International.
"We hope that nationally, the maternal and infant mortality rate can be reduce by 25 percent from current rates, as this program will take place in regencies and municipalities with highest number of maternal and infant deaths," she said.
Bandarlampung While an investigation and examination is underway on the arson attack on the Mesuji regency administrative office in Lampung, reports are circulating that the office was intentionally burned to eliminate traces of embezzlement from the regency's 2009-2011 budget.
The fire on May 3 was believed to have been related to the dismissal of recently inaugurated Vice Regent Ismail Ishak over a graft case.
However, Institute on Corruption Studies (ICS) coordinator Merwanda Yuli Yusandi said that based on investigation carried out by the institute, a majority of those involved in the arson attack were not relatives or supporters of Ismail Ishak.
"We have handed over the new facts to the police to expedite investigation. The arsonists intentionally took advantage of the conflict in Mesuji. Their goal was to burn important documents connected with the misuse of Mesuji regency budget funds between 2009 and 2011," Merwanda said on Tuesday.
The Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court sentenced infamous graft defendant Nunun Nurbaeti to two-and-a-half years in jail on Wednesday in a bribery scandal surrounding the election of a top central bank official in 2004.
Nunun was also ordered to pay Rp 150 million ($16,350) in fines, or an extra three months in jail. The sentence is lighter than four years and Rp 200 million in fines demanded by prosecutors.
Judges said Nunun was guilty of channeling Rp 20.8 billion worth of traveler's checks in bribes to lawmakers to support the election of Miranda Swaray Goeltom as the then senior deputy governor of Bank Indonesia. A total of 28 lawmakers have been jailed for receiving the bribe money, but Nunun is the first person jailed for paying a bribe.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) recently named Miranda a suspect despite her claims that she had no knowledge of Nunun's alleged provision of the checks.
Businessman Ari Malangjudo, through whom Nunun allegedly channeled the bribes, has also been named suspect in the case.
Nunun became famous for claiming she was sick and suffered from memory problems before escaping overseas and evading law enforcers for about two years. She was arrested in Bangkok in December 2011.
But during her trial over the past two months, Nunun showed no signs of memory loss, recalling the case in great detail and confronting witnesses implicating her in the case, including Ari, former director of Wahana Esa Sejati, Nunun's palm oil company.
Jakarta Muslim activists are warning that people might form vigilante groups if the government takes no action against the violent campaigns carried out by a number of hard-line organizations.
Wahid Institute pluralism activist Rumadi said members of the public were likely to take the law into their own hands because they believe the police have been protecting hard-line groups.
"It is possible because the police continue to side with the hard-line groups and people know they can't rely on the police anymore for protection," Rumadi said on Monday.
After harassing minority groups across the country, some radical groups recently turned their attention to attacking individuals and institutions that promote liberal ideas.
Last week, such groups disrupted book discussions featuring Irshad Manji, a Canadian liberal Muslim activist, both within and outside of the capital.
Muslim scholar Ulil Abshar Abdalla said that the violent actions taken by firebrand groups had raised the ire of some members of the community.
Ulil said that communities could set up a "neighborhood watch" to contain the movement of radical groups. "It's not an ideal solution to the problem, but it would probably do for now because we can't expect much from the police," he said.
Ulil, member of the Democratic Party's central board, said that he once suggested that the government disband these hard-line groups. But the government declined to do so because it lacked the legal grounds to take the action, Ulil said.
On May 4, members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) broke up Manji's discussion at the Salihara Cultural Center in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta.
Five days later, the rector of Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University (UGM) cancelled Manji's speech, organized by the Center for Religious and Cross- Cultural Studies, citing "security reasons". UGM said that it had been under pressure from a number of groups to cancel the talk.
The following day, members of the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) ransacked the office of the Institute for Islamic and Social Studies (LKiS) in Yogyakarta, where Manji was expected to participate in a discussion.
The mob vandalized the publisher's office and tore pages out of Manji's books, which had been displayed for sale.
Manji and her assistant suffered minor injuries in the attack. Witnesses have said that no police officers were seen during the attack.
Between January 2011 and May 2012, as many as 20 attacks on minority groups were recorded in Indonesia. Ahmadiyah communities, Shiite groups and Christian congregations were among those targeted.
Irfan Abubakar, the director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, said the government could no longer promote Indonesia as a model for a pluralist society to the rest of the world. "This has turned into an empty slogan used by the government in international diplomacy," Irfan said.
His comments came as Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin from the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) said that Indonesia should protect the rights of minority groups. The IPHRC oversees human rights issues for the Organization of Islamic Conference's (OIC) member countries.
She said that member countries should protect minority groups with the same zeal that they have called for protection for Muslim minorities in other countries. She also said that OIC has the authority over what was considered Islamic and non-Islamic.
"The OIC has never banned the Ahmadiyah and Shiite movements, and this should mean something to Indonesia," Siti said. (tas)
Dicky Christanto, Jakarta The involvement of the hard-line group, the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), in multiple violent vigilante actions shows how the government cannot run the country, a top criminologist says.
"The Regional Administration Law clearly stipulates that the Home Ministry and the National Police must manage and monitor mass organizations," University of Indonesia criminologist Bambang Widodo Umar told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Both state institutions should be held responsible for the unchecked violence perpetrated by vigilante groups, he added.
Bambang said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should be confronted publicly about his confusing stance on mass organizations, adding that Yudhoyono had done little to enforce the law against illegal actions perpetrated by groups such as the FPI.
In the latest incident involving Muslim hard-line groups, several Islamic organizations reportedly threatened to use force to close the Catholic pilgrimage complex in Gedangsari, Gunung Kidul, in Yogyakarta for its alleged use by Christians for proselytization.
More than 100 police officers from Klaten, Central Java, were deployed to safeguard the house of a priest in the nearby town of Wedi, whose parish manages the pilgrimage site.
"We were informed that these organizations wanted to come here and show their anger. That's why 100 police officers guarded us. But it turns out that nothing happened," said the priest, who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals.
The priest said that the problem began two months ago during a meeting of religious leaders in Gunung Kidul, when Muslims asked if the pilgrimage site was built without a permit.
The priest said that he told the people at the meeting that the church had been waiting for a permit to be issued for three months. "However, all of a sudden, an issue was raised that the site was being used as a proselytization camp."
A public sermon was organized by nearly a dozen Islamic groups near the site on Sunday, the priest said. People speaking at the sermon told the crowd that the truth about the proselytization rumors had to be determined, the priest said. Ten representatives were then sent to "inspect" the site, he added.
Separately, Yogyakarta Police spokeswoman Adj. Sr. Comr. Anny Pudjiastuti confirmed that a public sermon had been organized near Gedangsari by the Indonesian Mujahideen Council (MMI); the FPI; and Kokam, the youth wing of Muhammadiyah; among others.
Pudjiastuti said the police had not received reports of proselytization or of attempts by vigilantes to seal off the site. FPI leaders have declined to comment on whether the FPI participated in the sermon.
Munarman, a coordinator for the Islamic Defenders Legion (LPI), an FPI affiliate, said that he was in the dark about the issue.
On Sunday, an LPI member was killed in a brawl with local residents in Bogor. Also on Sunday, FPI members allegedly prevented the congregation of the Filadelfia Batak Protestant Union (HKBP) Church in Tambun, Bekasi, from conducting services.
Members of the FPI also allegedly assaulted Tantowi Anwari, an activist from the Association of Journalists for Diversity (Sejuk), for wearing a T-shirt defending the churchgoers.
Jakarta Because of his refusal to obey the ruling from the Supreme Court, together with his defiance of various recommendations from the National Resilience Council (Wantannas) and the National Ombudsman Commission, Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto could be removed according to constitutional law.
Speaking at a press briefing on the long-standing dispute concerning the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin on Tuesday, law expert and noted lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis confirmed that Diani's removal could occur should the leader be proven to have violated the law.
"The only way [to solve the GKI Yasmin saga] is to 'impeach' the mayor who has not obeyed the court's ruling," he told reporters, adding that Diani's refusal to reopen the Yasmin church, despite the Supreme Court's decision in 2010 that went against him and ordered him to reopen the church, was a clear violation of the law.
Todung, however, explained that any impeachment would be a long process as it would put many political interests at stake. He said that, for an impeachment to occur, political parties or factions that supported Diani should first withdraw their support.
"So far, the only political party withdrawing its support for the Bogor mayor is the PDI-P [the Democratic Party of Struggle]; we are yet to see other parties follow suit," the lawyer said. "I recommend that political parties [that support him] withdraw their support. How come they support a rebellious mayor?"
Todung argued that the government should not view the GKI Yasmin dispute lightly, saying that the government's negligence in addressing the matter had severely damaged the country's international image.
"We may boast robust economic growth and strong diplomatic power, but the country's image will be tainted if we fail to guarantee the rights of our minority groups to worship," Todung said.
"Foreigners view Indonesia as an ideal Muslim country whose citizens live in harmony according to a principle of pluralism. When Barack Obama visited us [in 2010], for example, he used Indonesia as an example where Islam and democracy can coexist and thrive," he added. (sat)
Kupang A local Interreligious Harmony Forum (FKUB) is questioning the construction of two mosques in Timor Tengah Utara, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) that allegedly lack the required endorsement from the forum.
The endorsement, according to Timor Tengah Utara FKUB chairman Rev. Aloysius Kosat, was needed to avoid friction in the Catholic-majority regency.
"In a FKUB meeting with the administration and the community several days ago, there was a resident who questioned the presence of the two mosque projects, asking if they have met all the requirements," Aloysius said on Thursday.
Aloysius said that establishment of a house of worship had to abide by administrative and technical regulations, including submitting copies of 90 ID cards from users of a proposed building to be endorsed by local officials. "Moreover, it has got to have support from at least 60 local residents and approval from village heads," Aloysius said.
The head of the NTT Ulema Council, Abdul Kadir Makarim, questioned the FKUB's challenge. "Just see how many churches in NTT have been built without any recommendation. When a mosque is built, why is it questioned?" Abdul said.
Theresia Sufa and Lutfi Rakhmawati, Bogor Hopes for significant progress in the protracted dispute over the sealed Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin appeared to be fading again on Monday, as the mediator in the case said that his latest visit to Bogor was merely to "stay in touch" with religious figures.
Lt. Gen. (ret) Junianto Haroen, secretary-general with the National Resilience Council (Wantannas), said that his visit to Bogor had nothing to do with GKI Yasmin's long-standing dispute with the Bogor city administration, but was instead to meet with KH Mustofa, the leader of Al Ghazaly Islamic boarding house.
"I want to send my son here [to the boarding house]," he told reporters after the meeting.
Junianto, who was appointed as one of the mediators in the standoff, said that he did not talk about the Yasmin issue with Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto even though he was seen at the city hall in the day.
"I did not meet the mayor. Maybe the member of the President's Advisory Council [Watimpres] did," he said, referring to another mediator in the case.
The two councils have been appointed by the central government to intervene in the dispute and find a peaceful settlement.
Earlier on Monday, a text message was circulating among journalists saying that Junianto was slated to meet with Diani to break the impasse regarding the sealed church. Diani denied the meeting ever took place, saying there was no discussion about the GKI Yasmin saga with any parties on Monday.
Albert Hasibuan, a member of the Watimpres, did not return calls from The Jakarta Post for comments.
The Wantannas recently brokered a month-long negotiation between GKI Yasmin and the Bogor municipality administration during which it offered a construction of a mosque nearby the church as a symbol of religious tolerance. Junianto claimed that Diani had sent him an official letter stating that he would accept the mosque solution to the saga.
However, his claim was dismissed by the Bogor administration which said that the letter sent by Diani was "misinterpreted". The administration insisted that relocation was the only possible solution to ending the dispute.
Churchgoers refused the relocation plan and demanded that the city administration abide by the law and open the church for services. "We are against the relocation plan offered by the Bogor administration because it contravenes the law," church spokesman Bona Sigalingging said.
Diani ignored the 2010 Supreme Court ruling ordering the reopening of the church and a recommendation from the National Ombudsman Commission saying that members of the GKI Yasmin congregation should be allowed to perform religious practices in their own church.
In February this year, the House of Representatives also ignored the Supreme Court's ruling and told the churchgoers to try to resolve the dispute with the local administration. The House also mandated the central government to step in and provide room for mediation of the dispute.
Commenting on Junianto's visit to Bogor, Bona said that his church was now facing an uncertain future. "I thought we had made some positive improvements, but I was wrong," he said.
Markus Junianto Sihaloho Almost half of the lawmakers from the House of Representatives were absent on the opening day of the new sitting period on Monday. From a total of 560 lawmakers, only 288 members were present.
Only 75 of the 148 lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party were at the House, while 60 of 106 lawmakers from the Golkar party were present. Fifty-six of the 94 Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle lawmakers were present.
"Probably some lawmakers were not present because they were still back in their election regions," Dwi, staff of the House of Representatives, said on Monday. "They might still be continuing their work during recess time."
During his speech on Monday, House Speaker Marzuki Alie warned lawmakers to work harder when deliberating about laws. "There are at least 50 bills that are ready to pass and need to be discussed at each commission," he said.
Lawmakers being absent from work on the first day of the new session is not a new phenomenon. In November, more than 240 lawmakers failed to show up.
Markus Junianto Sihaloho A budget watchdog is warning that the bill for state-funded trips this year will exceed Rp 23.9 trillion ($2.6 billion), almost 10 times the amount allocated in 2009.
Uchok Sky Khadafi, the advocacy and investigation coordinator at the Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra), called on Tuesday for government officials and legislators to scale back their visits in light of the mounting costs.
"We urge them to cut the trips for ministries and other institutions," he said. "The House of Representatives must also slash its budget for overseas trips."
Fitra notes that the revised state budget this year allocates Rp 23.9 trillion for official visits, including by legislators and bureaucrats. It warns that the real figure is bound to be higher, given the trend from previous years.
In 2011, the government initially allocated 20.9 trillion, but in the revised budget the figure was Rp 24.5 trillion.
Likewise in 2010, the initial allocation was Rp 16.2 trillion, while the revised budget called for Rp 19.5 trillion. In 2009, Rp 2.9 trillion was earmarked for state visits but this was increased to Rp 12.7 trillion. The actual amount spent that year was even higher, at Rp 15.2 trillion.
Uchok said most of the money this year would be spent on visits by ministry officials and other bureaucrats, rather than legislators, whose overseas jaunts frequently come under heavy criticism.
He also called on legislators to account for the spending of their recess funds. Fitra previously claimed that each legislator received around Rp 240.5 million during each of the House's four month-long recess periods to spend on activities in their constituencies.
"It must be clear what's being done with the money, otherwise people might get the idea that the money's just going to waste," he said.
The only House legislator to ever publish a recess spending report is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a former Golkar legislator who dropped out of the House earlier this year in order to become the running mate of Solo Mayor Joko Widodo in Jakarta's gubernatorial race.
Golkar's Bambang Soesatyo has claimed he is prepared to be open about his spending.
However, Gde Pasek Suardika, from the ruling Democratic Party, said the general public had no right to know how he spent his state-allocated funds. He insists he spends the money in "efforts to retain constituents" in his home province of Bali, which he said would be undermined if he made the details public.
Yanto Soegiarto When people criticized Indonesian lawmakers' comparative study trip to Germany in April, the culprits remained silent at first but later said it was to study defense contracts overseas and that they used their own money to bring family.
Indonesian students studying abroad accused the lawmakers of wasting Rp 3.1 billion ($338,000) on the trip and likened them to wide-eyed, newly rich hillbillies visiting a modern city for the first time.
Ignoring the problems back home, where the nation is facing problems in fuel oil supply, increasing poverty and a widening social gap, the lawmakers visited expensive malls and shopped around Berlin and were caught on YouTube.
Lawmakers also top the list of people who have been arrested as suspects for corruption so far this year, data from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) showed.
The lawmakers, who are seen by many as a new breed in society, powerful and rich, receive hefty salaries and fringe benefits such as free housing, electricity and transportation. They earn more than a cabinet minister and some are filthy rich, driving the latest luxury cars and sporting the latest fashions. But their attitude is most often regarded as childish, not trustworthy and selfish. They would do anything for money.
Why did they want to become lawmakers? Why is their attitude like that? These are questions to which House Deputy Speaker Pramono Anung of the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) has been trying to find answers. He conducted research on the attitudes and motivations of lawmakers for his doctoral thesis at Padjajaran University in Bandung.
His findings show that the House is mostly inhabited by less-fortunate, economically motivated people working for their own self-interest and welfare, instead of idealists seeking to promote the welfare of the people they represent. They don't live in homes provided by the House. They demand accommodation funds. They go on study visits abroad and skip important House meetings.
In Javanese philosophy, such an attitude is described as kere munggah mbale Petruk dadi ratu. That refers to Petruk, one of the five loyal subordinates of the king in Javanese wayang shadow puppet plays, who rises from the lower ranks to become a rich ruler. But then he changes from a simple, humble, loyal and honest character, distancing himself from the people and ethics.
Pramono's findings should be used as background when Indonesians go to the polls in 2014 to elect their new representatives. The elections are only two years away. Indonesia needs to change. We cannot afford to let the nation sink any deeper into a quagmire created by incompetent and crooked lawmakers.
The leadership of the House of Representatives appealed for calm and called for an end to the controversy surrounding speaker Marzuki Alie's statement suggesting that prominent universities in the country including the Gadjah Mada University (UGM) and the University of Indonesia (UI) were a training ground for corrupt officials.
House Deputy Speaker Pramono Anung Wibowo said that alumni of the two colleges had overreacted to the statement.
"Why should they sue Pak Marzuki? What are they suing for? For me, as someone who is not involved in corruption, I have no problem," said Pramono, who graduated from UGM's engineering department. Pramono said that Marzuki's statement could also have been misrepresented by the media.
Lawyer David Tobing, who is a student of the UI's graduate program, filed a suit at the Central Jakarta District Court on Wednesday against Marzuki for defamation. David demanded that Marzuki publicly apologize for his remarks and that he pay a token Rp 1,000 (US$0.11) in damages, along with legal fees for the lawsuit.
"As an alumni of this university, I always want to protect my alma mater's reputation and integrity. As House speaker, Marzuki Alie has hurt me with his comments. I also fear that his words could tarnish UI's good name," David said as quoted by tempo.co.
Speaking to UI's scholars during a discussion on the future of Indonesia's higher education institutions, Marzuki was reported to have said that most corrupt individuals who were educated had graduated from Indonesia's top universities.
He further cited UI and UGM, as well as other prominent organizations such as the Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Associations (ICMI) and the Islamic Student Association (HMI), as examples of high quality institutions where the corrupt might have pursued their studies.
Marzuki was unfazed by the furor and was ready to face the suit in court. In spite of Marzuki's claim that his statement had been taken out of context, some figures have continued to pound him for the statement.
Lawmaker Martin Hutabarat, who is a member of UI's graduate advisory council, challenged Marzuki to back up his claim with scientific data. "Without enough data to back the claim, his statement could mislead the public," he said.
Education expert Arief Rachman also called on Marzuki to provide evidence for his statement. "Maybe he could have done some research before he made the statement to find out the names of people who are corrupt. If I were UI rector I could have asked him to give examples," Arief said.
However Arief said that Marzuki's comment should also serve as an impetus for the two colleges to begin soul-searching efforts. "Indonesian education has been unable to instill morality in individuals. It focuses more on logic and cognition. Morals don't get enough attention. In a sense, Marzuki is a whistleblower for higher education," said Arief, who is also a professor at the Jakarta State University (UNJ).
Areif said that universities needed to set up rules that could allow them to name and shame corrupt alumni, although there was no guarantee of success. "After all, there are corrupt people who are simply shameless," Arief said.
Rizky Amelia While making laws is the daily work of lawmakers, data from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) shows that lawmakers topped the list of people who allegedly broke the law and have been arrested as suspects for corruption so far in 2012.
"There are six people [involved in corruption] from the House of Representatives and DPRD [Regional Representatives Council]," Johan Budi, spokesman of the KPK said on Tuesday.
Among the lawmakers who are being investigated by KPK this year are Wa Ode Nurhayati, a graft suspect for the regional infrastructure development budget 2011, Democratic Party lawmaker Angelina Sondakh, a graft suspect for the construction of an athlete's inn for the SEA Games, and Central Java Representative Council Speaker Murdoko, a graft suspect for the Kendal district budget 2003-2004.
Coming in second on the list were individuals from private institutions, followed by government officials, including mayors, governors and high-rank state employees.
During this four month period, the KPK recovered Rp 24.8 billion from corruptors who returned money or money that was confiscated from corruptors. "The amount of state losses that was saved and given to the state as non-tax revenue from corruption cases is Rp 24,891,091,799 ($2.7 million)," Johan said.
Dozens of fledgling airlines that have sprung up to serve Indonesia's island-hopping new middle class could jeopardize the archipelago's recently improved safety reputation, aviation experts say.
The trend threatens to erode higher standards established during what one analyst called a "tremendous amount of soul searching" by major carriers and the government after 2007, when frequent crashes prompted the European Union to ban all Indonesian airlines from landing on its runways for two years.
With growth rates of nearly 20 percent per year, Indonesia is one of Asia's most rapidly expanding airline markets, but the country is struggling to provide qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety. And with so many new, small carriers, it's hard to monitor all their standards.
"We are not ready for this boom," said Ruth Simatupang, an Indonesian aviation consultant and former safety investigator.
Indonesia's two largest airlines national carrier Garuda and rapidly expanding boutique airline Lion Air haven't had a fatal accident in five years and eight years, respectively. But small passenger and cargo carriers plus military aircraft have kept the frequency of crashes to about once every two months, according to statistics compiled by the Aviation Safety Network.
Just how fast Indonesia's airline market is growing came under a spotlight with Wednesday's deadly crash of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 plane during a demonstration flight. While both the plane and the pilot were Russian, the flight was packed with representatives of local airlines that the manufacturer hoped would purchase the jetliner.
The number of air passengers in Indonesia jumped by 10 million in a year to 53 million in 2010, according to the government statistics agency, and the upward trend continued last year. "Infrastructure hasn't kept pace with the growth of the airlines," said Shukor Yusof, an aviation analyst in Singapore for Standard & Poors.
He said the government needs to "spend a vast amount of money" to expand safety monitoring for the new carriers and invest in airport runways and technology. He added that the relative ease with which new airlines can be established, though tightened in recent years, has been a concern in the aviation community for years.
In the past five years, Indonesia has added 36 new passenger and cargo airlines, bringing the total to 86 many of them small carriers serving outlying islands where the only travel alternatives are ferries.
Feeding the demand for new air routes are Indonesia's population of 240 million, its geography of 18,000 islands and an economy that grew at a 6.5 percent clip last year, creating a larger middle class eager to travel.
"Indonesia is a natural market for growth," said Brendan Sobie, chief Southeast Asia representative for the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation. "It's one of the world's biggest populations and one of the world's most underserved markets for airlines."
Transportation official Herry Bakti Singayuda insists that Indonesia's rapid airline growth is still compatible with safety.
"We evaluate the operators," said Singayuda, who directs the Air Transport Department under the Ministry of Transportation. "We control that growth based on their capability, their facilities and personnel."
He added that the government has expanded flight schools, hired new inspectors and added 10 regional offices to keep up with the new airlines.
Yusof agrees the government and major carriers have markedly improved safety standards in the five years since the EU blacklist, which followed fatal crashes by Garuda and now-defunct Adam Air in 2007.
The government responded with a raft of new regulations and training schools, while Garuda invested millions of dollars to train staff and upgrade its fleet. Lion Air, which recently placed the largest-ever order for Boeing aircraft 230 planes listed at some $22 billion has also sought to improve safety, though it took a blow when several of its pilots were arrested in recent months with illicit drugs.
"Garuda and Lion Air have done a tremendous amount of soul searching in terms of safety and in bringing in experts... to help them clean up their act," Yusof said. The newer airlines, however, may need more scrutiny.
Smaller airlines serving the domestic market may have less money to invest in training and hiring qualified pilots and mechanics, said Simatupang, the Indonesian aviation consultant.
"There are a lot of new pilots whose flying hours don't meet the minimum standards, but because the operators need them, they use them sometimes," she said.
Like Yusof, Simatupang called on the government to do more to regulate the new airlines. "I always say to the government, please do the new infrastructure and safety regulations first," she said. "And then allow the airlines to expand."
Rizky Amelia A senior Indonesian pilot said that unwanted dangdut songs and even phone sex often clog radio communications as pilots enter Indonesian airspace, distracting them from their work.
"Foreign pilots entering Indonesian airspace often say 'we're flying into hell,'" Jeffrey Adrian, a senior pilot working with flag carrier Garuda Indonesia Airways, said on Saturday.
Jeffrey said "frequency leakage" has caused phone conversations and radio broadcasts to be heard in the cockpit.
"We often hear dangdut songs, drama and jazz music when entering certain regions," Jeffrey said. "Phone calls between people can also be heard I even once heard people having phone sex."
Jeffrey said that the frequency leakage often disturbs pilots, especially while they're listening to Air Traffic Control. "[Pilots] have to work extra to listen to the guidance from ATC."
In the wake of the tragic Sukhoi passenger jet crash, speculation has been swirling regarding the cause of the accident. Roy Suryo, a telecommunication expert, denied rumors that a cell phone might have interfered with the plane's navigation system.
Samantha Michaels & Ulma Haryanto In 2009, more than a decade after the fall of Suharto, a presidential and ministerial decree ordered the Indonesian military to restructure the way it uses the vast array of state assets under its control.
This meant changing the way the Indonesian Military (TNI) used hundreds of buildings and about 2,500 square kilometers of land it had been controlling and renting out for more than half a century.
The decrees state that idle state assets can legally be used by the Defense Ministry and the military, who can earn money through them renting them out or partnering with companies to manage them but only under certain conditions. They are that the military first has to acquire a permit from the Finance Ministry, and all income earned from the assets must be put in state coffers for an official audit.
But three years later, the Defense Ministry and the military acknowledge that they have not secured permits for about 90 percent of the land they still control and rent out. Furthermore, the military failed to deposit tens of billions of rupiah in rental income to state coffers in 2010, a Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) report shows.
"I admit that not all the assets are in order," said Lt. Gen. Eris Herryanto, the Defense Ministry's secretary general. "The problems are very complex."
In a statement posted on the ministry's website in March, Rear Adm. Bambang Suwarto, director general of the defense force, said the ministry and military held lease agreements or third-party partnerships for 2,626 plots of land, but only had permits for about 11 percent.
In separate letters sent to two civil society groups last October, the Defense Ministry revealed that the military lacked permits for 99.6 percent of its plots and was applying for permits for them. The Finance Ministry was processing applications for 1.8 percent of the land plots, and the military was applying for 97.8 percent.
The letters were sent to the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial) and the Institute for Defense, Security and Peace Studies, who had since April 2011 been requesting data about the military's business holdings, including its land and building assets, using the 2009 Freedom of Information Law.
"There is a decree [from the Finance Ministry] and right now this is what we're trying to sort out," Eris said. "Because we have some existing long- standing contracts [with third parties] that last for multiple years, so we cannot do anything yet." In negotiating for new contracts, he added, "we can arrange things according to the law."
Eris said that the slow pace of acquiring permits for all the assets was caused by lack of understanding of the regulations. "There are rules that aren't entirely understood, not by us [the Defense Ministry], but by Finance Ministry officials on the local level," he said. "Implementation in the field is not uniform and can be a challenge. But right now we're talking about that with the Finance Ministry."
According to the 2011 BPK audit report, which covers 2010, the Defense Ministry and the military had failed to deposit profits earned through their land and buildings to the state coffers.
The auditing agency conducted sample audits on one of the ministry's hospitals in Jakarta, two Army bases, an Army education and training center, and seven Navy bases. It found that they failed to deposit Rp 36.6 billion ($4 million) of profit and rent from their state assets in 2010. The ministry's hospital alone failed to deposit Rp 25.7 billion.
The audit cited similar findings for military hospitals in Bogor and Cirebon, West Java. In 2006, the agency also found that military hospitals failed to transfer Rp 414.9 billion of revenue to the state.
"This violates several regulations, because utilization of state assets by parties outside the Defense Ministry requires a permit from the Finance Ministry," the audit said.
The military and ministry have not been punished for these cases. The BPK is only authorized to give warnings, not legal sanctions. If BPK finds wrongdoing during the audit of any other government institution, law enforcement bodies like the police and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) can step in. But with the military, sanctions can only be issued internally.
And the problem runs deeper. In many cases, the military lacks more than just permits to rent out its land; it also lacks the government title to own its land.
The Defense Ministry, military headquarters and the military bases lacked land titles in 2010 for 70 percent of their land plots, which included those that were not being rented, according to the BPK audit. They were in the process of applying for titles for about 17 percent.
A similar figure was confirmed in a meeting between the ministry, the military commander and House of Representatives Commission I, which oversees defense affairs, in February of that year; they said 80 percent of the titles for the military's assets had not been certified.
The BPK audit also showed that the military was involved in disputes covering 805 square kilometers of land. In the past, these disputes frequently sparked violent conflicts with local communities.
In the Pasuruan district of East Java, Navy personnel shot and killed four residents during a land dispute demonstration in 2007. The residents were protesting against the cultivation of their land by state-owned agriculture company Rajawali Nusantara, which was renting it from the Navy.
The Pasuruan District Court ruled in 1999 that the land belonged to the Navy, but residents appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court, which has yet to issue a decision, according to the Supreme Court website.
In April of last year in Kebumen, Central Java, 14 farmers were also shot during a confrontation with soldiers over disputed land, which the Army has long used for weaponry and ballistics training.
The soldiers opened fire after farmers blocked them from using the site and vandalized a nearby research facility. The Army claimed the soldiers had used rubber bullets but rights groups pointed to live ammunition. None of the soldiers were charged.
Also fueling the Kebumen dispute was speculation that the Army conspired with investors to mine the land for its iron. "We can't comment on the iron ore issue, because the military has nothing to do with business as stipulated by the law," Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Wiryantoro told the Globe last year.
A law passed in 2004 bans professional soldiers from engaging in business activities. But according to a document seen by the Globe last year, a military chief overseeing operations in the province sent a letter to the director of a mining company three years earlier, giving him permission to use the land for mining.
Locals and the Army both claim to hold certificates for the land. Government regulations hold that during a land conflict, the National Land Agency (BPN) must "lock" disputed land from both parties before a court ruling, Haris Azhar, of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said in a statement last year. "Most of these disputes never go to court."
The findings on the military's illegal use of state assets follow a years- long effort to pressure the military to divest its business holdings. The effort, which began in 2004, was undertaken to boost civilian control over the armed forces.
Military businesses, critics argued, allowed soldiers to earn money outside their state salaries, making them less dependent on the government and less accountable. The Defense Ministry announced that it had finished the reform in 2010, but many activists disagree.
"The government's decree and regulations do not address accountability for the TNI's unscrupulous behavior, including past misuse of state assets, unauthorized sale of its business interests, or any of the abuses associated with its commercial activities," Lisa Misol, a Human Rights Watch researcher, wrote in a report about the reform effort in 2010.
The report called on the government to "tighten the planned reforms to regularize income from the military use of state assets." If the military is not using its state land and buildings for a legitimate military reason, it added, they should "be immediately transferred to government control and the military should be prohibited from leasing out state assets to private parties."
"We consider it [the reform] a missed opportunity," Misol told the Globe. "It's disappointing that the government hasn't pushed for reform in a real way to be comprehensive and ensure accountability."
Samantha Michaels & Ulma Haryanto The government says it has reformed the military's once-extensive network of businesses, but it has failed to ensure that military organizations with indirect business ties are not breaking the law, top ministry officials suggested.
Military cooperatives and foundations, which can raise money by owning shares in companies, were among many profit-making entities that came under scrutiny when the government began divesting the military of its business holdings in 2004. The government was hoping to bolster civilian control over the armed forces, which have a history of corruption and rights abuses. Military-owned businesses, critics argued, allowed soldiers to earn money outside their state salaries, making them less dependent on the government and less accountable.
A series of laws and decrees between 2004 and 2009 said businesses owned by military branches should be liquidated or transferred to the state, while those owned indirectly by cooperatives and foundations should comply with laws limiting their business activities.
Ministry officials say cooperatives and foundations have been restructured and are now following the law, but nobody is monitoring them to make sure. "It's not our job," said Lt. Gen. Eris Herryanto, the Defense Ministry's secretary general.
Ministries overseeing cooperatives and foundations say their powers to monitor the military are limited. "We don't monitor foundations, per se," said Syafruddin, the director of civil law at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry. "Our authority is limited to issuing permits for foundations. Whenever there are changes, such as in their organizational structure, they have to report it to us." Indonesia does not have a separate body to monitor foundations, he added.
Syarief Hasan, the state minister of cooperatives and small and medium enterprises, said his ministry's priority was not ensuring that cooperatives complied with the law, but on monitoring "places where cooperatives do not exist, and cooperatives that are weak [financially] or need help."
He said it was the job of regional offices under provincial administrations to ensure that laws were followed. But Ratna Ningsih, the head of Jakarta's office for cooperatives and small businesses, disagreed.
"We don't have that kind of authority," she said. "A cooperative has its own governing body that should do the monitoring. Military cooperatives are not under our watch."
The latest public statistics show that, as of 2008, there were 23 military foundations and 1,098 military cooperatives with combined assets of Rp 3.2 trillion ($349 million). However, in response to a private request for information last year, the Defense Ministry said there were 13 foundations and 1,301 cooperatives.
The military's foundations were created to help soldiers access social services such as housing and education. Military cooperatives boost welfare by providing subsidized goods such as rice.
Regulations allow foundations to have holding companies that invests in businesses on their behalf, while cooperatives can own shares in private companies or investment equities.
"If you go to Depok, there's banner in front of a McDonald's restaurant saying that it's partially owned by Inkopad [the Army's Parent Cooperative]," said Jaleswari Pramodhawardani, a military analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
But in the past, these organizations have also raised funds in other ways. For example, the Navy Primary Cooperative (Primkopal) was hired by Mintohardjo Navy Hospital in Jakarta to pave the hospital's roads and waterproof its helipad in 2009 and 2010, well after reform efforts began.
However, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) found in 2011 that Primkopal lacked the capacity to do this work and subcontracted it to a third party while pocketing a 2.5 percent "fee" from each job. Hospital officials told BPK auditors that by asking Primkopal to do the work, they bypassed the lengthy tendering process required for all government projects.
Syarief denied that military cooperatives had any problems with transparency or in the legality of their businesses, saying some cooperatives just needed guidance to strengthen their finances during the reform process.
From "assigned" projects in 2009 and 2010, Primkopal received Rp 124.7 million in fees alone, the BPK report said, adding that Primkopal and the hospital were given a warning but never punished.
In 2000, BPK audits found that an Army foundation, Kartika Eka Paksi, failed to account for Rp 59 billion in earnings or Rp 48 billion in spending by its chairman.
Again, the BPK could only warn the foundation and the Army, whose chief of staff at the time called for an independent audit. If misappropriations were found again, he said, the Army would "act." It is unknown if the audits were done.
Though Eris says the Defense Ministry is not responsible for cooperatives and foundations, it was once a driving force in the reform process, as required by earlier ministerial and presidential decrees.
A ministry team was created in 2009 to control the restructuring of cooperatives and foundations, evaluate the results and report to the ministry's secretary general.
In a statement in March, Rear Adm. Bambang Suwarto, director general of the ministry's defense force, said the restructuring was completed in 2010. He said all organizations had conducted meetings and were audited by the relevant inspectors.
However, Eris told the Jakarta Globe that the ministry had no information about any cooperatives or foundations.
"I don't know [how many] cooperatives there are," he said. "With foundations, each [military service branch] has one.... I cannot answer other questions because we have nothing to do with them anymore. We have no data. They [cooperatives and foundations] have separated [from the military structure]. They aren't our concern anymore."
Cooperatives and foundations were "separated" by a 2009 ministerial decree, which declared that these organizations had no structural status within the military and would be monitored internally by their own regulatory bodies.
During the reform, many critics were disappointed with the decision to restructure cooperatives and foundations, rather than dismantle the businesses. In 2010, a Human Rights Watch report urged the government to "reject the fiction that the businesses under the military's foundations and cooperatives are as independent from the TNI as an institution."
The debate hinges on whether the military benefits financially from cooperatives and foundations. Various laws on the issue seem to contradict each other.
The 1992 Cooperatives Law and the 2001 Foundations Law say all members can take profits, not mentioning military personnel specifically. A 2004 TNI Law prohibits active military personnel from seeking profit, and calls for an end to businesses owned by cooperatives and foundations. Decrees from 2009 say cooperatives and foundations can hold shares in businesses if they follow existing laws.
"Foundations can conduct business activities by establishing a business entity," Syafruddin said, adding that the profits must not be used for personal wealth. He said active military personnel could join foundations and serve as "members, a chairman or a trustee," but could not sit on the management board.
In cooperatives, "everything is up to what the members accede in their meetings," Syarief said. "Even if they want to choose a petty officer to sit [on the board of directors or trustees], they may."
At the Defense Ministry, the rules are not clear. Eris said active personnel could not join foundations or cooperatives. "[Before the reform], cooperatives were part of our structure. Who served on them? Active personnel. Not anymore," he said.
When asked again, he changed his answer. "Don't look at the military status," he said. "The money goes to the members for our own prosperity, because our [government] salary is not enough. We can't send our children to the best schools, but using this, we can. So it's not for the military [institution], but only for the people."
HRW disagreed. "The military has no role in business," said Lisa Misol, who wrote the 2010 report. "It's just a dangerous activity for human rights, for accountability, and for the military itself."
Samantha Michaels & Ulma Haryanto In April last year, the Defense Ministry received a letter from two civil society groups. The groups, a defense think tank and human rights watchdog, wanted to know how the government had fared in its bid to dismantle the military's once-extensive network of businesses, as it was required to do by law.
But when the ministry replied about seven months later, many questions remained unanswered. "They sent us limited information," said Mufti Makaarim, head of the think tank, the Institute for Defense, Security and Peace Studies.
His co-requester, Al Araf, the program director of the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), was also disappointed. "They only told us the military businesses had already been taken over [by the state]," he said last month. "They didn't explain... about the status of the businesses now, whether they became state companies or private companies."
In 2004, the government began a process to divest the military of its business interests, either liquidating its companies or turning them over to the state. The process, part of reforms after the fall of former President Suharto's military dictatorship, was intended to bolster civilian control over the Indonesian Military (TNI), which has a long history of rights abuses and corruption.
"If the military as an institution can generate money on its own outside of the government approval process, they feel like they don't have to answer to civilian authorities," said Lisa Misol, a researcher at Human Rights Watch who has extensively researched TNI businesses. "So if civilian authorities have allegations of serious human rights crimes, the military is in a more powerful position to resist."
The Defense Ministry, which was in charge of dismantling the businesses, said it finished in 2010. But Mufti and Al Araf's experience highlights a problem: In a process to bolster civilian control, civil society is struggling to check the results.
"We think the process of [reforming] military businesses is not transparent," Al Araf said. "It's very, very closed, and in that condition we think there is a tendency for the abuse of power or corruption."
The Jakarta Globe submitted a similar information request to the ministry's secretary general, Lt. Gen. Eris Herryanto, four weeks before a scheduled interview.
Eris said the ministry had no information since the companies were either liquidated or taken by the state and then transferred to the State Enterprises Ministry. "Everything has been settled, but I don't recall exactly what the situation was like," Eris said. "I cannot talk case by case."
The Freedom of Information Law says the public has a right to information about state-owned businesses, including audited financial reports.
The military no longer owns businesses directly, Eris said, meaning no companies are legally registered to the service branches. "The bottom line with 'military businesses' is that there aren't any more [of them]," he said.
But the military makes money in other ways; it leases land to private companies, charges companies for security and holds stakes in companies indirectly through foundations and cooperatives.
"If the people who profit are military officials, it should still be called military business," said Haris Azhar from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).
This involvement in business goes back to the Indonesian war for independence in the 1940s, when the new military had to generate its own funds. After the war, the government's military budget was small and soldiers supplemented their incomes with a range of outside ventures, including illegal levies and smuggling.
Military leaders also acquired stakes in companies and made deals with businessmen, sometimes to raise money for military expenditures.
The military took over Dutch companies under martial law in the 1950s, and senior military officials later took command of newly nationalized companies, including oil giant Permina, which eventually became Pertamina. Under Suharto, a former general, their business empire flourished as they partnered with the private sector, benefiting from favored access to government contracts and gained land rights.
For years, business activities made up 60 to 70 percent of TNI funds, according to Jaleswari Pramodhawardani, a military analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) who investigated the businesses after Suharto's downfall.
In 2004, the government passed a law banning professional soldiers from involvement in business ventures, which it feared would compromise their professionalism and distract them from defense duties.
The law gave the government five years to "take over all business activities that are owned and managed by the military, directly and indirectly," including those owned through military cooperatives and foundations. It required a forthcoming presidential decree to create operational guidelines for the reform, but President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a retired Army general himself, failed to issue the decree after taking office that year.
The military began liquidating its business holdings without adequate oversight, Misol found during her research. For example, rather than giving its assets to the state, an army foundation independently sold its stake in Bank Artha Graha for Rp 121 billion ($13.1 million) in 2005. Mandala Airlines was sold for Rp 300 billion the next year by a foundation for the Kostrad Army Strategic Reserves Command.
Some suspected the military tried to drain its companies of value before the government takeovers, turning over assets to private allies to achieve a lower profile while keeping control.
"The government's slow performance in fulfilling the mandate of the  law made it possible for military businesses to have their statuses changed or commercialized," Usman Hamid of Kontras said.
In 2006, Jaleswari estimated that net income from the TNI's off-budget activities that was available "for operational purposes" was only about 1.5 to 3 percent of the government's defense budget.
Five days before the deadline in 2009, Yudhoyono signed the decree. It should have clarified things, but it contained a contradiction that made the reform murkier.
The confusion concerned the status of businesses owned "indirectly" by military cooperatives and foundations. Unlike the 2004 law, one article in the decree exempted them from takeover, saying only directly owned businesses would be affected. But another article required the takeover of "all business activities owned and managed by the military, directly or indirectly."
Nine days later, the Defense Ministry issued another decree that formed a new team to oversee the business transfers. It said cooperatives and foundations could own shares in businesses but may need to be restructured to comply with existing laws limiting their activities to an extent.
The differing mandates presented a challenge for the ministry's team. "What kind of 'activities' does the law mean?" said team spokesman Silmy Karim, a businessman with close ties to the defense industry. Still, he added: "Military business is over. The regulations are complete."
Rather than eliminating all the businesses, however, Misol said the decrees created a framework to strengthen those owned by foundations and cooperatives. "The Indonesian government has defined the problem as narrowly as it can in order to claim some success," she said.
Erry Riyana Hardjapamengkas, a former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairman who led another team that investigated the businesses in 2008, before the decrees, was also disappointed: "They were not brave enough to make a firm decision [on the transfer]."
In their information request, Imparsial and IDSPS asked for government activity reports and data from the investigation and takeover of military businesses.
The ministry sent them results of investigations from 2005 and 2008, consisting of aggregate data and not the detailed status of individual companies. It did not include information about businesses that were once owned directly by the military. This information has never been made public.
It did provide data on cooperatives and foundations, but from different years. Last year there were 13 foundations and 1,301 cooperatives, compared to 25 and 1,071 in 2005. It gave old data about their businesses, saying they had 1,520 businesses in 2005 and assets of Rp 3.2 trillion in 2008.
Mufti admitted that filing a written request had disadvantages. "We cannot chime in if the answers are not what we're looking for," he said.
Still, the Defense Ministry's Eris insisted transparency was not an issue. "I think we are one of the most transparent in the world about defense," he said. "You can ask us, we have the public communications center that can explain everything. We answer all the questions."
Jakarta The National Police were separated from the Indonesian Military 12 years ago, and critics are saying that the process of reforming the nation's security apparatus has been stillborn ever since.
According to Imparsial, the Indonesian human rights watchdog, the last time the government tried to reform the nation's security apparatus was in 2005, when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono lifted the military emergency status in Aceh.
"Even the House of Representatives has reached a deadlock in deliberating the bill on military tribunals. This bill marks an important milestone in security sector reform, as it would require fair public trials for TNI members accused of crimes," Imparsial program director Al Araf said.
Al Araf also said that the House had dragged its feet in deliberating the intelligence bill, passed into law in 2011 after years of back and forth with the government, to ensure better civilian oversight of the nation's intelligence agencies.
"The National Intelligence Agency [BIN] chief has always been an active- duty military officer. This might mean that BIN could receive orders from the TNI chief, as the former is officially subordinate to the latter," Al Araf said.
Military domination of the nation's spy agencies was underscored by the ouster of former National Police chief Gen. (ret.) Sutanto as BIN chief in October, and his replacement by Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman, an active-duty Army officer.
Imparsial also said that the TNI had spent billions of US dollars on weapon systems with little oversight from the House of Representatives, as indicated by the problematic purchase of Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets.
The watchdog identified the "golden period" of reform for the security sector as the presidency of Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, from 1999 to 2001.
"Gus Dur made a lot of progress, such as abolishing the 'dual role' of the Indonesian Military so that it could focus only on defense, and shifted the burden of security to the National Police," Al Araf said.
However, he added that the separation of powers between the TNI and the National Police had not been effective, with the group recording 135 cases of police brutality between 2008 and 2010 alone.
A survey compiled by the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation (YLBHI) in 2008 said that 283 out of 367 respondents had been tortured by police officers during interrogation.
Lawmaker Helmy Fauzi, a member of House Commission I overseeing defense and intelligence, said that reform of the security sector might help the government cope with its excessive spending.
"With reform, the government could have an efficient budgeting process, as strict procedures would prevent the military from coming up with a 'phantom budget'," Helmy said.
Helmy also said that the House should not take the blame for the sluggish pace of reform. He attributed the long delays in deliberating the intelligence and national security bills to lawmakers' reluctance to grant the TNI a greater role in resolving domestic security situations.
"We returned the bill to the government because we did not want the military to dominate civilian life. The House wanted to make sure that the bill did not violate civilian constitutional rights," he said.
Helmy said that lawmakers had not always won the day, despite good intentions, describing the House's recent endorsement of the social conflict management bill, which defined a greater role for the TNI in domestic politics, as a setback for reform.
Meanwhile, Nawawi Bahrudin of the International NGO Forum for Indonesian Development (Infid) said that freely operating radical groups also showed the failure of reform.
"These groups even act as a surrogate for the police by cracking down on night spots or drug dealers. It should be the role of the police," he said. (fzm)
Markus Junianto Sihaloho The National Police's plan to award Malaysia's police chief a medal of honor has drawn strong criticism in light of recent tensions between the two countries.
"We urge the National Police to drop the plan to award the medal," Indonesia Police Watch chairman Neta S. Pane said on Friday.
The National Police is planning to award the Bintang Bhayangkara Utama medal to Malaysian Police Chief Tan Sri Ismail bin Omar and Indonesian Army Chief of Staff Gen. Edi Pramono on June 25 to mark its July 1 anniversary.
The medal is the highest award that the National Police can give to an individual for outstanding contribution and cooperation with law enforcement.
Neta said he couldn't understand the logic behind the award because tensions between the two countries remained high. Indonesia and Malaysia have been involved in recent disputes involving sensitive issues related to legal matters and Indonesian migrant workers. Neta said that awarding the medal would insult Indonesians, especially migrant workers.
"Just recently, three Indonesian migrant workers were shot and killed by Malaysian police," Neta said. "It's ironic that this [incident] failed to capture the attention of the National Police because it has the nerve to award the medal to the Malaysian police chief."
He asked the National Police to reconsider and decide if the recent shooting was deserving of a Bintang Bhayangkara Utama medal. The plan also drew a strong reaction from the House of Representatives.
"The National Police must take into consideration the psychological [condition] of our people, who are irritated with Malaysia following their violent acts," said Saan Mustopha from the Democratic Party.
Saan, from House Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, said that if the National Police were sensitive to the condition of the Indonesian people, they would reconsider the plan.
Indra, a Commission III member from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said Malaysia's history of bad behavior and unfriendliness toward Indonesia was extensive, including the mistreatment of Indonesian migrant workers there.
"[They] disrespected Indonesia's sovereignty, abused migrant workers, detained and tortured our fishermen, [carried out an] unjustified shooting and murdered three migrant workers," Indra said.
Anis Hidayah, the executive director of the group Migrant Care, previously said Malaysian police had shot Indonesian citizens at least three times in recent years.
Anis said at least eight Indonesians were shot and killed by Malaysian police on separate occasions, prior to the latest killing of the three migrant workers from Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
"Indonesians have been shot to death by Malaysian police without due process of law several times now. The government sent protest letters to Malaysia, but there has been no investigations against the perpetrators, and the killings continue," Anis said last month.
Migrant Care said that in March 2010, three Indonesians were gunned down by Malaysian police. This happened a year after two Indonesians were shot and killed.
In 2005, Malaysian police also shot and killed three Indonesian workers. Malaysian authorities claimed that the three conducted robberies and were shot because they had resisted arrest.
The latest shooting sparked outrage, partly because of allegations, later proven false, that the victims' organs had been removed from their bodies.
Bayu Marhaenjati, Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Zaky Pawas "Yeah, I sell guns. All types and all prices," says A.J., a self-proclaimed "registered" arms dealer in East Jakarta.
"I've got guns that cost Rp 4 million to 8 million [$430 to $860]. If you want German- or Russian-made, it'll cost you Rp 10 million to 20 million. I've got modified and stock guns. It's all legit. I'm not hiding anything."
A.J. claims to be authorized by the Indonesian Shooting and Hunting Association (Perbakin) to sell firearms. The problem, nongovernmental group Indonesia Police Watch says, is that the known number of guns sold so far this year already exceeds the annual quota for legitimate licenses by almost sevenfold.
Who has all these guns? Legislators, for one, says Pramono Anung, a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. He cites the case of Didi Irawadi Syamsuddin, of the Democratic Party, who recently announced that he would turn in his gun to the police, following a wave of gun crimes and revelations about lax gun controls.
"I don't believe legislators should be carrying around a firearm. So for those who still have one, please turn it in," he said on Wednesday.
He added that there were cases of some legislators carrying their guns when visiting their constituencies, which he said was regrettable. "That shows a deep distrust by the legislators in the people that they represent," Pramono said. "If they feel threatened, they should report it to the police."
However, he blames the police for the high rate of gun ownership in the country, with more than 18,000 firearm licenses issued this year. "It seems that if you have money, it's easy to get a gun. This needs to be fixed and the number of licenses limited," he said.
Another group of people known to carry guns are businesspeople, highlighted most recently in the case of Iswahyudi Ashari, who pulled a gun on a waiter at a Jakarta restaurant because he thought the latter had overcharged him.
Muara Karta, Iswahyudi's lawyer, said that as a "big businessman," his client carried a Beretta pistol for self-protection and that it was registered with the police. He was arrested last week.
In a high-profile case in 2005, Adiguna Sutowo, whose family owned the Hilton Hotel in Senayan, shot dead a waiter at a bar there. He was subsequently sentenced to seven years in prison. The hotel has since been renamed the Sultan Hotel.
And then there are the hobbyists, who mostly buy airsoft guns true-to- life replicas of real weapons, but which fire only plastic pellets. Though they don't use live ammunition, airsoft weapons still require a gun permit.
Sr. Comr. Rikwanto, the Jakarta Police spokesman, said airsoft gun owners must belong to one of the many sanctioned shooting clubs in the country. "If you don't belong to a club, then your weapon is considered illegal," he said.
Neta S. Pane of Indonesian Police Watch said the police were issuing far too many gun permits.
According to the 2012 state budget, projected revenue from gun permits this year is Rp 2.608 billion. With each permit costing Rp 1 million, that means only 2,608 permits are supposed to be issued for the year.
However, the police had already issued 18,030 permits in the first four months of the year. Making matters worse, they have only submitted Rp 2.6 billion to the state as revenue, leaving another Rp 15.4 billion unaccounted for, Neta said. "That's why we're calling for a forensic audit and a corruption investigation into the gun licenses," he said.
Rikwanto, however, defended the large number of permits, saying that citizens needed some measure of self-protection because the police force was overstretched. "Our job is indeed to provide security, but in practice we have to do so many other things," he said.
He also gave assurances that gun permits were carefully issued based on tests and psychological profiles of the applicants.
As the nation braces for the 14th anniversary of Reformasi, university campuses, the driving force behind the sweeping political changes in May 1998, are showing signs of reviving the spirit of the authoritarian regime that they once helped bring down.
Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta, the country's oldest state university, and Diponegoro University (Undip) in Semarang set a bad precedent for the protection of intellectual freedom when they each prevented their students from discussing lesbian and gay issues last week.
UGM canceled a discussion about the book Allah, Liberty and Love, written by Canadian author Irshad Manji, for "security reasons" last Wednesday. Manji had met with opposition from hardline Muslim groups who accused her of promoting homosexuality, but UGM's move to deprive its inquiring young students of their right to exchange views with the liberal Muslim activist marked the university's step closer to conservatism.
Undip is no different. Its banning on Thursday of student group Kronik Filmedia from screening and discussing 10 short films inspired by true stories of same-sex romance amounts to a gross violation of the freedom of expression and speech, regarded as the fundamental basis of the intellectual community.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the Constitution, protect intellectual freedom, which is defined as the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.
In Indonesian history, campuses have played a pivotal role in pushing for political changes, dating back to the Dutch colonial era, as evidenced by the spread of nationalism spearheaded by students of Stovia, which is now the University of Indonesia's School of Medicine.
Students contributed much to the winds of change that swept across the country in the mid-1960s. They supported a new regime that pledged to lead the nation to prosperity but without losing their courage to be critical as shown by the Jan. 15, 1974 demonstrations against foreign investment known as the Malari incident.
Then came the tireless students who chanted the Reformasi credo as they took to the streets across the country to demand the resignation of president Soeharto, which climaxed in 1998, when the Asian financial crisis hit hard. The state's recognition, albeit symbolic, of the students' role in auguring change was apparent in president BJ Habibie's reference to the four Trisakti University students shot dead in May 12, 1998 as reform heroes.
Indeed, students are agents of change in Indonesia and elsewhere in the world, no matter how stringent are government efforts to silence them. Indonesia under the authoritarian New Order regime saw the government seek every avenue to control students, including by enforcing "normalization of campus life" to prevent what was happening outside their campuses from distracting them from their studies.
But who on earth can stifle human curiosity and the desire to discover the truth, which are the characteristics of students and intellectuals in general? In the 16th Century, Nicolaus Copernicus insisted that the sun was the center of the universe, braving the authorities of the church and the king, who reportedly ordered his killing by arsenic poisoning.
There are many examples to prove that any attempt to restrict intellectual freedom is doomed to fail.
What UGM and Undip have done to their students' intellectual freedom reminds us all of the New Order-style abuse of power to normalize campuses and marks a setback for the nation's struggle to promote and protect its citizens' liberties. Officials of the two prominent state universities may not face government sanctions, but they have made a bad name for themselves, at least in the eyes of the supporters of intellectual freedom.
Sourav Roy British Secretary of State, William Hague, is a delight to listen to. Even more when he dismisses an uncomfortable question hurled at him. One would imagine that on any given day, a smirk laced with a dismissive sense of authority, an impassive gaze and a stern pitch would do the trick for the veteran politician. But then again, there are a few unusual days when this ruse leaves the foreign minister with his defense exposed, often begging for more explanations.
The Fullerton Lecture in Singapore this year was one of those infrequent occasions for the Secretary of State. For most of the lecture, Hague spoke eloquently on Britain's role in Asia and how he was close on the heels of British Prime Minister David Cameron's recent visit to the region, advocating closer ties with Britain.
He proclaimed a sense of equal partnership between Britain and Asia, UK's respect for Asia's emerging economies, free trade agreements and rattled off with ease a predictable diplomatic spiel. He even managed to remind us in between his volley of oriental appreciation, that 2012 was Her Majesty, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and that Asia could look forward to welcoming "their Royal Highnesses," the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, sometime later this year.
But barely a few minutes into hailing the royalty, Hague announced that he represented the first generation of Britons who did not remember the days of the Empire. So much for toadying the royalty.
Then again there was something that Hague was not telling us, something that got drowned amidst pandering questions and intellectual pretense. A matter that Hague would have wished was never discussed at all. So off went the uncomfortable question flying towards the foreign minister. I am sorry Mr. Hague, I had no choice but to do this to you.
"Prime minister David Cameron was in Asia a couple of weeks ago selling British Defense equipment to Indonesia, in what the prime minister described as selling the best defense armaments to one of the world's most important democracies. We are already living in turbulent times. Why, then, does Britain want to play a role in the arms race in Asia? And was it really that easy for Britain to condone Indonesia's usage of British Hawk jets in bombing innocent civilians in East Timor? "
Pin drop silence in the hall with William Hague frozen on his seat. But quickly came back a sneering retort. "Well, thank you very much for that nice and friendly question. Always get that from journalists. Very helpful," remarked the Secretary of State.
Uh, should I have asked you about your favorite Asian delicacy instead, Mr. Hague? Perhaps that would not have bothered you as much. Nevertheless, I am going to dissect your puerile answer into as many fractions as possible and match every statement of yours with nothing but core historical facts.
"Countries have a right to defend themselves and so do democracies. There is nothing wrong in principle for a country that has as enormous expertise as we do in aerospace, in trading its technology with other nations," began Hague.
Wait a minute. Did I hear you say trading aerospace technology? That implies fighter jets, right Mr. Hague? Not surprising that the Guardian reported last year that there were reports of Britain negotiating with Indonesia to sell 24 Eurofighter Typhoons in a #2bn deal. Anyway, let's hear more of your answer.
"We have one of the most rigorous systems of scrutiny. Our arms exports with any other country in the world are at par with the rest of the E.U."
You don't want us to believe that, do you? Is that why in 2011 David Cameron took representatives from leading British Defense firms with him when he toured the Middle East at the height of the Arab Spring? And surely being in tandem with the rest of the E.U. means being among the top defense manufacturers in the world along with Germany, France and Russia and selling armaments to repressive regimes. Correct?
Well, no wonder that your prime minister was reported to be accompanied to Indonesia by representatives from six arms companies, including BAE Systems and Agusta Westland.
This might just amuse you, Mr. Hague. BAE Systems, British Hawk jets, Indonesia, nineties, innocent civilians, murder, murder, murder and John Pilger's film Death of a Nation. Does that ring a bell somewhere? It does, right?
Let's jog down the memory lane together. In June 1993, British Aerospace (BAE) signed a deal with Indonesia to supply 24 Hawk ground-attack aircrafts. Indonesia already had many of these jets, which were sold to them as early as 1978. It is believed to have rampantly used these jets to attack many East Timorean villages during its occupation over the country.
Nobel Laureate and East Timor and peace activist Jose Ramos Horta said in 1996 that entire villages and tribes of indigenous people had been completely wiped out. This action clearly amounted to genocide. Even British peace activist Angie Zelter put on record that in December 1995 Hugh O'Shaughnessy, a journalist working for the Observer, spotted a Hawk aircraft flying over East Timorean capital, Dilli.
In the massacres that followed, countless were killed by Indonesian forces in East Timor while British jets and armaments were used like toys by the then regime, which had a contemptible human rights record.
Thus, I am left to wonder here what due diligence is done at your end before you sell arms to Middle Eastern regimes and nations that have no respect for human rights and abuse their defense capabilities.
"We have European and national consolidated criteria for arms export controls. We have very clear requirements and do not export arms where we believe there is a risk that will contribute to regional tensions or to internal repression," added Hague.
Oh, but we've been hearing that for decades, Mr. Hague. It's the same old broken record playing over and over again. You see, Angie Zelter categorically wrote in "Civil Society and Global Responsibility: The Arms Trade and East Timor," that in the mid-nineties British Alvis tanks were used during an assault on students in Ujung Pandang and South Sulawesi and British Glover Webb water cannons were used to break up peaceful protests in Bandung in West Java by the then Indonesian regime.
But that did not stop the British Hawk jets from being sold to Indonesia then and today. Despite the bloody uprising in the Arab world, Prime Minister David Cameron could not be stopped from making a sales pitch to Middle Eastern regimes. So does your theory of consolidated criteria truly hold any water at all?
"Those assessments have to be kept updated, of course. They do change over time, which means references to historical events do not always determine what we are doing today. I think it is entirely right and appropriate to have that trade and indeed other leading nations in the world do as well. I will encourage other nations to adopt standards in line with ours," said Hague.
Oh, the Indonesia-East Timor narrative is passe then. Times have changed and guns can be reloaded and traded again, I guess. If that be true, then why did Human Rights Watch write a letter to Prime Minister Cameron in April this year, expressing concerns over the possibility of British defense equipment being used by Indonesia to suppress people in the Papua region? It even urged the British government to publicly press for an agreement that British equipment would not be used for repression of Indonesia's own citizens. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) had a strong rebuke ready for the British government, as well.
I guess every part of your answer gives rise to many unanswered questions, Mr. Hague. Every statement within it beckons a sincerer and truthful response. Your diplomatic spiel is charming, no doubt, but it does not stop us from digging deeper into the situation.
Yes, us journalists will always ask you uncomfortable questions, primarily for the sake of truth and in the interest of civic society. I suggest you get used to it or invent another ploy.
Bibhu Prasad Routray As Hisyam Alizein, alias Umar Patek and a cadre of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiah (JI), rose to speak during his trial in the West Jakarta district court on March 7, few would have expected the 45-year old hardcore terrorist to apologize to the victims of the 2002 Bali bombings that claimed the lives of 202 people.
The JI had indeed surprised many by its rise and ability to organize repeated high profile symbolic attacks in the early 2000s. Patek, being one of last remnants of the outfit offered a surprise yet again this time confirming the rapid decline of the outfit since the Indonesian authorities executed the Bali bombers in 2008 both in terms of its existence and ideology. Nothing else could have been a more convincing statement on the decline of Islamist terror in the archipelagic nation, with larger implications on the entire Southeast Asia.
"I ask for forgiveness from all the victims and their families. Those who lost their lives and those who experienced material losses, Indonesians as well as foreign nationals", Patel told in his statement. He downplayed his involvement in the incident, narrating how his role in the attack was minor. "I was very sad and regret the (Bali) incident happened, because I was against it from the start. I never agreed with their methods. I totally had no idea about the target of the bombing," he added.
His statement indeed contradicts all that is known about him and executed JI senior leaders like Imam Samudra, Mukhlas and Amrozi who took active part in the bombings. His emotions now betray the conviction of the leaders in the justness of their perpetrated act a necessary ingredient in all acts of terrorism.
For the judges and the world outside the court, believing Patek would be difficult. Knowledge about his role in the bombings is derived from extensive interrogation of the JI cadres, including those who were given death sentences. Unlike Patek, many of them had spoken openly and candidly about the way they went about carrying out the attack. They described in detail the role played by each of the actors, including Umar Patek.
It is beyond doubt that each one of them was perfectly aware of their own contribution to the bombings. JI worked as a close knit organization and it is impossible to believe that the senior leaders including Patek were not in know about the things they were doing. Moreover, Patek's role as a link between JI and al-Qaeda until his arrest in 2011 in Abottabad, when al- Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was in hiding in the Pakistani city, was in perfect order of a loyal and committed cadre of the outfit rather than one who resented being a part of an operation that killed so many people.
So why is Umar Patek lying? One, Umar Patek realizes that the acceptance of his known levels of involvement would either mean a death sentence for him, just like the other JI cadres involved, or even deportation to a country like the United States, which has a US$1 million bounty on him, or Australia, which lost 88 of its citizens in the 2002 bombings. Patek wants to avoid both. Secondly, he probably realizes that there is no point going down as a martyr for a terrorist organization that has lost much of its sheen over the years. JI is almost dead in Indonesia and has been replaced by the Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT). The chief of Indonesia's National Counter-Terrorism Agency described the JAT as the "new camouflage of JI". More significantly, Umar Patek's remorse could provide leeway to the Indonesian authorities, who were not keen on his deportation from Pakistan to begin with. The 2002 bombing is almost a decade old and putting Patek in front of a firing squad may not be easy for the authorities. While the other bombers were executed in 2008 without much public angst, death to Patek may stoke anti-American feelings in Indonesia, create a backlash, and also act as a force multiplier for the fortunes of the JI or any other similar organization.
Umar Patek's remorse may not sound the death knell for Islamist terrorism in Indonesia, which has manifested itself in recent times into newer forms. Last year suicide attacks were carried out inside a mosque (April 15) and outside a church (September 25), terrorists planned to carry out attacks on Singaporeans leaving the nation's high commission building in Jakarta, and terrorists have also been involved in several failed missions to loot banks with an intention of financing their activities. Containment would require sustained efforts both internally as well as at the regional level. However, it is without doubt that Patek's remorse and apology will be a restraining factor for individuals inclined to use terror to articulate dissent.
M. Najibur Rohman, Semarang The involuntary dissolution of Irshad Manji's book launch in Salihara Cultural Center last week is representation of the tyranny of conservative groups that suppresses freedom of speech.
Indeed, as Muslim liberal activist Manji who wrote a book titled Allah, Liberty and Love, has been known as pro-contra a thinker as well as a lesbian. It seems Manji's sexual identity was the primary motive for the protesters to deny her speech regardless of the essence of the discussion.
In this case, first of all, we have to make a difference between the private and public domain. Sexual orientation as well as faith or religion is a private domain. Everyone has this right and of course the state bears the responsibility for protection of the right.
Second, a discussion forum is an academic area that should remain free from "moral judgment". Here, the most important thing is brains, not muscle.
The disparity between the notions deserves a wide space for anyone without considering sexual orientation. There is no reason for certain groups including hard-line religious activists to disperse or ban an academic forum by use of threat or derision.
The threat targeting Manji's book discussion should prompt the state, in this case the National Police, to provide protection and security. It is clear that such discussion, characterized by academic and open-ended dialogue, is not intended to generate social anxiety.
Nevertheless, the police, citing the absence of permit and potential for disruption based on the law dispersed the discussion and therefore hurt freedom of speech.
Sexuality has long invited many thinkers and scholars to start discussions and debates. For certain members of the Indonesian public, especially those in the Muslim majority, homosexuality is seen as a violation of norms and rules of the religion.
The tale of Prophet Luth suggests homosexuality is a prohibited sexual orientation. But such conclusion, although in the mainstream, is just one of many exegesis of the Koran.
On the other hand, the discourse of sexuality actually is a part of social, political and ideological construction. Sex is related with history- knowledge-language and all of them are directed to body control.
Therefore, in a democracy like Indonesia there should be no discriminatory treatment for people based on their sexual orientation. Heterosexual and homosexual have the same position to exercise freedom of speech. Equality, a primary principle of the law, must be interpreted as the state's way to protect human rights and guarantee their implementation.
In addition, violence is the chief nemesis of true democracy. It is time for the state to resist any kinds of acts that discredit the minorities and set up "religious oligarchy". Here, dialogue is the best way to express an opinion. Disagreement is justified but must not be translated in the use of violence.