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Indonesia News Digest 4 – January 23-31, 2017

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West Papua

Protester charged with trespassing on Indonesian consulate-general in Melbourne

Melbourne Age - January 31, 2017

Jewel Topsfield – A 42-year-old protester has been charged with trespassing on the Indonesian consulate-general in Melbourne after an incident which came at a time of renewed tensions in the bilateral relationship.

The arrest was made three days after Indonesia criticised Australia for not arresting a man who clambered onto the roof of the consulate-general and waved a separatist West Papuan flag on January 6.

"The Australian Federal Police can confirm it arrested a 42-year-old man in the Melbourne suburb of Williamstown on Monday, January 30," the Australian Federal Police said.

The arrest comes just days before Attorney-General George Brandis, Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Minister for Defence Personnel Dan Tehan are scheduled to attend the Ministerial Council on Law and Security in Jakarta.

On January 26, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said a parliamentary commission requested the Australian government legally process the trespassing incident "because we know the faces of perpetrators, we have the pictures".

The incident featured a demonstrator waving the separatist West Papuan "Morning Star" flag, which is banned in Indonesia, while another person filmed the event. The video was posted on Facebook and distributed widely.

"The question is why has there been no arrest when 20 days have passed?" Ms Retno said on January 26. "As close neighbouring countries, we have a very intense relationship and of course problems occur every now and then," Ms Retno said.

Another MP – Tubagus Hasanudin – went further than Ms Retno, saying Indonesia could take diplomatic measures if no legal action was taken.

Many Indonesians remain suspicious of Australia's intentions in Papua, even though it has signed the Lombok Treaty recognising Indonesian sovereignty over the restive province.

However the Indonesian Foreign Ministry stressed its concern was the trespass, which Ms Retno described as a criminal act that was "completely intolerable".

The AFP spokesman said the man had been charged with trespass of a protected premises, contrary to section 20 of the Protection of Persons and Property Act 1971.

Under the act, a person who trespasses on protected premises commits an offence, punishable on conviction by a fine of not more than 10 penalty units ($1800).

The man has been bailed to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on February 23. "As the matter is now before the court it would not be appropriate to provide any further comment," the AFP spokesperson said.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/national/protester-charged-with-trespassing-on-indonesian-consulategeneral-in-melbourne-20170131-gu2gg6.html

To kill Papuan youth

New Mandala - January 30, 2017

Unless the role and power of security forces is limited in Indonesia's troubled Papua region, more young locals will end up dead and cases like the Paniai killings will remain unsolved, writes Andre Barahamin.

On 8 December 2014, five local teenagers were gunned down in Enarotali, a town in the Paniai regency of Indonesia Papua.

The young men were killed by shots that allegedly came from Indonesian security forces after police and military personnel fired on some 800 protesters. A further 12 people, including school children, were injured from the bullets.

The crowd had gathered to protest the beating of a 12-year-old Papuan boy by Indonesian security forces the day before. To further complicate the matter, Indonesian government officials offered conflicting reports of the violence, with some claiming that security personnel warned the crowd to disperse and fired because they had come under attack (as noted by Human Rights Watch).

From the results of a pre-investigation by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), security forces had used live ammunition and firearms to break up the crowd, but there was no evidence that the crowd presented any threat to security personnel. In late December 2014, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo promised to solve the killing.

"I want this case to be solved immediately so it won't ever happen again in the future," the president said. "By forming a fact-finding team, we hope to obtain valid information, as well as find the root of the problems."

But the investigation into the case has since been delayed. At least eight government institutions have sent their respective fact-finding teams to look in to the case. This includes, the Army, the Air Force, the National Police, the Papua Police, the Papua Legislative Council, the Office of Coordinating Minister for Security, Political and Legal Affairs, the Witness and Victims' Protection Agency (LPSK), as well as Komnas HAM.

But none of these institutions have published a public report of their findings. So, after more than two years, and a President's pledge, those who seek answers and justice have only been given broken promises, and no significant progress.

Perhaps most disappointing is the failure of Komnas HAM to deliver any real insights into what happened on that fateful day. Expected to be the leading institution in solving the Paniai killings, the human rights commission has spectacularly failed. In March 2015, it formed an ad hoc team to conduct its investigation, but it was not officially inaugurated until October 2016. Nothing has happened since then, and two investigation team members have already resigned.

According to Natalius Pigai, Komnas HAM commissioner, the main obstacles to solving the case are the police and military – with both institutions accused of being involved in several rights abuse cases across Papua. Such allegations, understandably, directly undermine the trust for authorities among the victims' families. Rejecting an autopsy request on the victims' bodies from Paniai has only increased the uncertainty that the case will ever be solved. Another complication is that investigators are unable to interview soldiers who were at the scene of the shooting.

However, delaying the investigation into the Paniai killings is not surprising at all. There are many cases of human rights violations in Papua that have yet to be solved. The list includes the Biak Massacre of July 1998, Wasior in June 2001, and Wamena in April 2003, when hundreds of Papuan were killed.

At the same time, the President's determination to solve the case and make the perpetrators accountable under law would seem to have waned as well. In late 2016 Jokowi appointed Wiranto, a former general indicted for human rights violations in Timor Leste, as the country's top security minister.

Jokowi's decision to appoint Wiranto to such a contentious post has made the situation worse. Wiranto has openly said that he aims to solve all of these cases through non-judicial processes, which could mean impunity for any perpetrators.

Sadly Paniai isn't even the latest case of violence. Papua Itu Kita have reported that 18 Papuan teenagers aged between 14 and 19 years have been shot by police and the military since October 2016. Eight of them were killed. Of these cases, only three were prosecuted by the institution to which the culprits belonged.

The cases include the Koperapoka shooting in Timika by members of the military that killed four Papuans, the Gorong-Gorong shooting against Fernando Saborefek (18) in Biak by the police force, and Sugapa of Intan Jaya where members of the Papua Police Mobile Brigade were involved with the shooting of Otinius Sondegau (15).

The trend of teen killings in Papua cannot be separated from pro-violence approaches by the Indonesia military and police to dealing with the complicated issue of Papua's place in Indonesia. The excessive use of force continues because Jokowi has failed from the beginning of his presidency to limit the role and power of security forces in Papua.

Added to this volatile mix is ongoing discrimination towards Papuan youth. Young Papuans are racially targeted and labeled as troublemakers, primitive and potential future members of separatist movements. It would seem that being a young Papuan with dark skin and curly hair is more than enough to make you a target of violence.

Meanwhile, Komnas HAM have vowed to step up their investigation into the Paniai killings, claiming they will send out a team to interview "locals, victims, Papuan public figures and security officers from February 18 to 20."

Only time will tell if it will achieve anything. It's telling that it has already taken this much time.

[Andre Barahamin is researcher of PUSAKA Foundation, and member of Papua Itu Kita (Jakarta-based solidarity campaign for Papua).]

Source: http://www.newmandala.org/kill-papuan-youth/

Papuan video advocacy faces regular pressure for permits

Radio New Zealand International - January 30, 2017

A West Papuan video-based advocacy organisation says Indonesian security forces commonly demand that it show a permit to conduct its activities.

However, one of the filmmakers behind Papuan Voices says there's no legal requirement for a permit to shoot the type of videos they do.

Wensi Fatubun said Papuan Voices was established to help West Papuans tell their own stories about everyday issues such as struggles for education, saving the environment, equality and dignity. He said they were routinely bothered by police and the military.

"They always ask to us, if we need to filming, we need a permit from the authorities, Indonesian authorities. No, why we need to? Because under Indonesian rule, filming people, we don't need a permit."

Wensi Fatubun said this was an example of the tight control exerted by Indonesia's military and police on Papuans.

Visit the Papuan Voices website: http://papuanvoices.net/

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/323404/papuan-video-advocacy-faces-regular-pressure-for-permits

Papuans still unhappy over Merauke food and oil palm project

Radio New Zealand International - January 30, 2017

Strong distrust remains among the indigenous Papuans of Indonesia's Merauke regency about a major "food estate" project.

Jakarta has thrown high level support behind the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate, or MIFEE, a project in the far south east of Papua provinceEventually expected to cover 1.6 million hectares, MIFEE has attracted dozens of investors, looking to grow food crops and palm oil.

Billed as a project to address food security concerns for parts of the country, local Papuan communities have complained that MIFEE is alienating them from their land.

A member of the video-based advocacy organisation Papuan Voices, Wensi Fatubun, said young Papuans in Merauke have begun using video to convey their opposition.

"We try to empower the community to do how they can protect their own land, their own rights, from the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate project."

However, the government said MIFEE was aimed at helping create improved living standards for Papuan communities. Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has personally visited the MIFEE site as part of his campaign to foster greater economic development in Papua.

Earlier this month, Government Affairs Assistant Secretary for Law and Human Rights in Papua, Wakerkwa Doren said a presidential special envoy was heading to Merauke to check on food security, and people's economic development.

He told Tabloid Jubi that as Merauke is a regency bordering a neighbournig country, PNG, it was important to work with provincial government to address the people's concerns.

Meanwhile, recently released statistics released by Indonesia's Bureau of Statistics on the ethnic composition of Papua region's population identified Merauke regency as one of five regencies with a majority of non-Papuans.

Based on the population figures from Indonesia's 2010 census, non-Papuans make up around 63 percent of Merauke's population.

Australia-based specialist in West Papuan demographics, Dr Jim Elmslie expected that as Indonesia's economy grew, demographic change in Papua regions like Merauke would continue.

"So a lot of that long-term growth will come out of West Papua," he said, "and if that continues, it will involve shifting more and more people down to that region."

Other regencies where the indigenous Melanesians make up the minority of the population include two other regencies that, like Merauke, are close to the border with PNG.

The regencies where the non-Papuan population is concentrated tend to be areas where access to health and education services is best.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/323368/papuans-still-unhappy-over-merauke-food-and-oil-palm-project

Police response outside Indonesian Embassy fails to silence Canberra Papua

Asia Pacific Report - January 29, 2017

About 20 protesters in support of West Papuan self-determination were defiant in the face of Indonesian nationalism "blasted at them from the embassy" and a police response in Canberra at the weekend.

"It is an immature and childish response from the Indonesian embassy," said Anthony Rumbiak, one of the rally organisers.

With speeches underway, West Papuans and supporters blocked the entrance to the Indonesian Embassy by staging a "massacre" in protest against continuing human rights abuses in West Papua.

Australian police responded immediately to protect Indonesia's "sensitivity" and to avoid further pressure from their officials who stood among them. One supporter was arrested and taken into custody for failure to provide a name and address. The activist was refused bail.

The Australian police reaction showed continuous protection of the Indonesian government and bowing to its pressure rather than question their treatment of West Papua's indigenous people, protest organisers said.

The West Papuan struggle continues to gain momentum at the international level and remains a thorn in the side of the Indonesian state.

"The support for a Free West Papua shall not be silenced in Australia and it's about time the Indonesian government must engage with West Papua's legitimate body," said Lewis Prai Wellip, one of the West Papuan activist leaders who travelled from Melbourne to Canberra.

Source: http://asiapacificreport.nz/2017/01/29/police-response-outside-indonesian-embassy-fails-to-silence-papua-peoples-protest/

Student fined for West Papua protest outside Indonesian embassy in Canberra

Sydney Morning Herald - January 28, 2017

Stephen Jeffery – The friends of a man fined for refusing to cooperate with police during a protest outside the Indonesian Embassy expressed concern that he was kept in custody for almost 24 hours.

Adrian van Tonder, 25, pleaded guilty to obstruction, failing to comply with police directions and failing to provide his name or address to officers in the ACT Magistrates Court on Saturday morning.

The Melbourne student was among a group of activists that donned white sheets with red ink and lay on the road outside the Yarralumla embassy during a protest in support of West Papuan independence on Friday morning.

The road was outside two authorised protest zones, and all protesters obstructing the embassy's driveway except van Tonder complied with police orders to move.

The court heard van Tonder refused to move or stand up and did not provide his name or address, requiring "several officers" to lift him off the road. During questioning at the police station, van Tonder allegedly told police he was "not subject to Australian law".

van Tonder's defence lawyer told the court his client acknowledged the consequences of his actions, but had "limited scope" to pay a fine as he was on the Newstart allowance.

The defence asked that the almost 24 hours spent in custody be taken in account when the magistrate considered the scale of the fine. Officers did not have the ability to place van Tonder in Friday's court lists before deadline.

The prosecution made no submissions beyond the police documents and criminal history tendered to the court. van Tonder had previously been charged for protest-related offences in Victoria and Queensland.

In handing down his decision, Magistrate Robert Cook acknowledged the right to peaceful protest was a fundamental aspect of Australian democratic society.

"There needs to be at least a recognition... that you understand you went too far on this occasion," he said. He fined van Tonder $250 each for the three offences.

A group of the protesters supported van Tonder in court, including his partner Kiah Dennerstein. "The last 24 hours have been horrible," she said.

Fellow protester Rebecca Langley said she was concerned that van Tonder had been held in custody for almost a day.

"The pressure's on because recently there's been a lot of tension between Indonesia and Australia regarding military cooperation." This week Indonesia asked why Australia had yet to arrest people who "trespassed" and waved the West Papuan separatist flag outside the country's Consulate-General in Melbourne.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/act-news/student-fined-for-west-papua-protest-outside-indonesian-embassy-in-canberra-20170128-gu0i0f.html

Protester arrested outside Indonesian Embassy held in custody overnight for

ABC Radio Australia - January 28, 2017

Elise Scott – A protester arrested outside the Indonesian Embassy has been fined and released from police custody after being held for almost 24 hours, under what his defence lawyer has described as unusual circumstances.

Adrian 'AJ' Van Tonder, 25, was arrested on Friday morning at the rally in Canberra, where he and his fellow protesters lay in the embassy driveway covered in sheets and fake blood.

Van Tonder, a Melbourne student, was with about 30 people protesting alleged human rights abuses by the Indonesian Government in West Papua. The group blocked vehicles from entering and exiting by lying across the driveway.

This morning Van Tonder pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court to obstructing the embassy, refusing to provide a name and address and failing to comply with an order to move on.

He was fined $750 and released. The combined offences carry a maximum penalty of up to $3,800. The court heard the other protesters gave their details when asked by police to move on, but Van Tonder remained silent.

Van Tonder's defence said being held in custody overnight on offences that carry fine-only punishments was "not something that would normally happen" and it was not clear why it had.

Magistrate Robert Cook told Van Tonder the right to protest peacefully should be protected. "You should engage in it and that's your right," he said.

But he warned against ignoring police instructions. "Ultimately then you leave police with no choice than to remove you physically," he said.

Claims police trying to appease Indonesian Government

A group of fellow protesters supported Van Tonder in court. Outside, they said his time in custody was unfair and stressful. "The last 24 hours have been horrible," Kiah Dennersterin said.

The protesters claim police are being pressured by Indonesia to arrest activists like themselves.

"Police are trying to appease the Indonesian Government and show they're being strong against West Papuan activists," another protester Rebecca Langley said.

"Recently there's been a bit of tension between Indonesia and Australia regarding their military cooperation and it means eyes are on."

Member of the West Papuan community Ronny Kareni said the arrest would not silence their message to free West Papua.

"It's evident that the Australian Government is bowing down to Indonesia's pressure," he said. "[The arrest] will only create more fire and fuel more support from people in the streets."

The group said they travelled to Canberra from Melbourne to take part in this protest and Invasion Day protests. ACT Policing was contacted for comment.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-28/protester-at-indonesian-embassy-held-in-custody-overnight/8219922

Global petition for freedom in West Papua launched in London

Radio New Zealand International - January 28, 2017

A global petition calling on the United Nations to put West Papua back on its decolonisation list has been launched in Britain.

The petition is open to people all around the world up until August, when a team of British swimmers plan to swim it 69 kilometres across Lake Geneva to present it to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

A spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, said the swim would highlight the West Papuan struggle as a humanitarian issue rather than just as a Pacific or a Melanesian one.

Along with the Swim for West Papua event, the petition was launched this week by the Free West Papua Campaign. It calls on the UN to appoint a special representative to investigate the human rights situation in West Papua and for an internationally supervised vote on self determination.

Free West Papua said the aim of the petition was to demonstrate the growing international support for West Papuans to have the opportunity to decide their own future.

It said this would also build on growing diplomatic backing for a supervised vote. Such a vote was described as being in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolutions 1514 and 1541 [XV].

While Jakarta said human rights problems in Papua are largely confined to the past, indigenous Melanesians of this region claimed there was a slow motion genocide being perpetrated in their homeland by Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, co-founder of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, shared a message of support from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu which decried the lack of international media attention on West Papua.

He also commended the swim team and called for solidarity with the West Papuan people. "We may live in different regions of the world, but we are one family," he said. Lord Harries then declared the petition open for signing.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/323280/global-petition-for-freedom-in-west-papua-launched-in-london

West Papuan demographics update highlights disparity

Radio New Zealand International - January 27, 2017

New statistics show indigenous Melanesians are not yet the minority they were thought to be in West Papua.

Indonesia's Statistics Office has produced an ethnic breakdown of Papua region, based on the last census in 2010 which established an overall population of 3.6 million.

While the proportion of Papuan people as a percentage of the population continues to decline, this process varies widely between different regencies.

The percentage of Papuans has fallen catastrophically in some regions, particularly in urban centres, but Papuans still make up the vast majority in the Highlands.

Using the new data, Jim Elmslie of Sydney University's West Papua Project has produced a new paper updating his previous work on Papua's demographic transition.

He talks to Johnny Blades.

Jim Elmslie: You've got to handle the figures with some degree of care and you've got to sort of doubt the accuracy to some extent because the large area that's there, the terrain, the fact that large areas of the Highlands, I don't know if you'd call it a revolt, but there are certain areas that are conflicts between certain areas of the island and the state are fairly entrenched. So the figures – what you can get clearly from them is the trend and the change over time and that's clearly continuing because of the large-scale inward migration of non-Papuan settlers drawn into the region mostly for economic opportunity, and most of that economic opportunities are on the plains.

Johnny Blades: You've established that the Melanesians – the Papuans – their growth rate is quite a bit less than the non-Papuans.

JE: That's what the research shows and that's even given that the numbers are a bit rubbery. Because for them to conduct an accurate census would be damn-near impossible and the figures that we have to use, so we use them. But anecdotally as well – from talking to health experts and looking at what's going on on the ground compared to say PNG – then yeah the birth rate clearly is lower. There's a whole range of reasons for that. One is the infant mortality and the maternal mortality rate is very high, there are untreated diseases that cause infertility. But that's fairly clear and it's also clear that large numbers of migrants are coming in, the government is building new ports, there are ships that come in on a weekly basis, there's many flights every day from other parts of Indonesia. There's clearly the demand, and as we're talking, they are clearing tens of thousands of acres of rainforest and putting in labour-intensive things like oil palm plantations, where the workers are being brought in from Java rather than being recruited locally.

JB: Back in 2010 you had estimated that the total population of West Papuans in West Papua, that whole Papua region, was some 48%. And now with these new BPS (Indonesian Statistics Office) figures it's indicating that their percentage is something like 66%. Isn't that in some ways a positive, given that in the last couple of years a lot of the discourse around the West Papuan diplomatic wrangle has been around them having become a minority in their own land?

JE: Well, when you extrapolate these figures forward, and there's two different population growth rates, you come up with these figures of the minoritisation of the Papuan population. And that was a projection, I guess, if all else remained the same. And I think the exact figures may vary but the trend is still there. So in terms of whether that's positive or not... I think it certainly is positive that large areas of the Highlands of West Papua are still populated very strongly by groups of indigenous Melanesian people, even if that's not the case in the lowlands. But in means that the Papuans, certainly in the Highlands, are not on the verge of disappearing under the weight of inward migration. So yes, I think that's a positive thing. Some people seem to feel that the general conflict in West Papua would disappear over time as the Papuan population became a minority. Well that's obviously not going to happen. That is happening in the lowlands, but it's not going to happen anytime soon in the Highlands, even though – I must stress again – that there's a lot of development going on there which will bring in outsiders, bring in more military, which will always be a threat to them (Papuans).

JB: Transmigrasi is no longer an official programme, is that right? But these people are still coming in?

JE: Yeah so there's no official transmigration, but it's the policy, I think, of the Indonesian government because looking at the bigger picture of Indonesia and the Indonesian economy – and people talk about it growing – West Papua makes up something like 23 or 24 percent of the land mass of Indonesia and it's got huge resources: obviously the forestry, when most of the rest of the trees of Indonesia have been cut down, so Papua is really the last place where there's huge stands of rainforest; there's also the mineral wealth which is possibly the richest part of the entire world – the Freeport mine is probably the biggest gold mine in the world, the biggest copper mine, it's also the biggest economic entity in Indonesia and also the biggest taxpayer. So looking into the future, the Indonesians' capacity to exploit the natural resources of West Papua, and with all that brings, that will be one of the factors that allow Indonesia to grow as people are predicting it to grow, and become one of the main economies in southeast Asia, and certainly bigger than Australia. Which is one of the fears, I guess, which is underlying Australian policy, that in some future when the Indonesian economy overtakes the Australian economy in size, and Indonesia becomes a more important country internationally, then that's going to be quite a different situation than has been the case in this part of the world up until now, where the Australian economy and therefore its military resources and the rest of it were superior to the Indonesians. So a lot of that long-term growth will come out of West Papua. And if that continues, it will involve shifting more and more people down to that region.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/201830960/west-papuan-demographics-update-highlights-disparity

Indonesia criticises Australia for not arresting trespassers at its Melbourne

Sydney Morning Herald - January 27, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies – Indonesia has questioned why Australia is yet to arrest people who "trespassed" on the Indonesian Consulate-General in Melbourne and waved a West Papuan separatist flag when their faces were clearly visible in video footage of the event.

Tensions remain inflamed between the two countries after a defence fracas earlier this month following the discovery of "offensive material" – including an assignment related to West Papuan independence – at a Perth army base.

Within days of the furore a Caucasian man was filmed provocatively holding up the separatist West Papuan "Morning Star" flag, which is banned in Indonesia, on the roof of the Indonesian Consulate-General in Melbourne. Another person filmed the event.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi described the alleged trespass on January 6 as a "criminal act that is completely intolerable".

She said on Thursday night a parliamentary commission had requested the Indonesian Government demand the Australian government legally process the trespassing incident "because we know the faces of perpetrators, we have the pictures".

"The question is why has there been no arrest when 20 days have passed?" she told reporters after a marathon closed meeting with Indonesia's military chief, General Gatot Nurmantyo, and the defence minister.

"As close neighbouring countries, we have a very intense relationship and of course problems occur every now and then," Ms Retno said.

Many Indonesians remain suspicious of Australia's intentions in Papua, even though it has signed the Lombok Treaty recognising Indonesian sovereignty over the restive province.

"What is important is that in our relationship with Australia we have a commitment not to intervene (in each other's domestic issues), we respect territorial integrity, equality, etc," Ms Retno said.

The Australian Federal Police told Fairfax Media an investigation was ongoing in relation to an incident at the Indonesian Consulate-General Office in Melbourne on January 6.

"The AFP takes these matters very seriously and is continuing to pursue lines of enquiry," the spokesperson said. "As a matter of longstanding practice, the AFP is unable to provide further comment on ongoing investigations." Parliamentarian Tubagus Hasanudin went further than Ms Retno, saying he didn't buy the argument Australia was still looking for the perpetrators.

"They have the capacity to look for terrorists, how come they can't find these 'beggars'," he said. "Legal action should be taken... if nothing is done we might consider taking diplomatic measures."

Meanwhile, General Gatot said Australia's Army Chief would visit Indonesia on February 8 to convey the results of an internal investigation into the material found at Campbell Barracks in Perth. "He will meet with our Army chief and myself," General Gatot said. "We will see what is the result."

Earlier this month General Gatot had described the material, which included a poster that ridiculed the state ideology Pancasila, as "too painful to explain".

The discovery of the material resulted in a suspension of a language training program pending the outcome of the investigation. General Gatot said the action taken would depend on the result of the investigation.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/indonesia-criticises-australia-for-not-arresting-trespassers-at-its-melbourne-consulategeneral-20170127-gtznad.html

Police block Papuan solidarity action during President Widodo's Yogya visit

CNN Indonesia - January 27, 2017

Yuliawati, Jakarta – Scores of police have blocked Papuan student in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta who planned to hold a demonstration today. Around 70 or so students were prevented from leaving the Kamasan student dormitory on Jl. Kusumanegara, Yogyakarta.

"Police have been on guard in front of the dormitory since 9.30am and have prevented us from leaving the dormitory", said Papua Student Alliance (AMP) chairperson Abi Douw when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Friday January 27.

The students, who planned to hold a demonstration, fought back and as a result a scuffle broke out between police and students. Several students suffered minor injuries to the knees, forehead and arms.

The students, which came from several different organisations such as the AMP, the Student Forum for the Papuan People and the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua), had planned to hold a solidarity action over violence in recent days against people in Dogiyai regency in the West Papuan central highlands.

Similar solidarity actions were held in various other cities around the country. "We are demanding [an end] to security sweeps against the people of Dogiyai which have resulted in deaths, we demand that the joint security forces leave the area", said Abi.

The security sweeps in Dogiyai have left four people dead and 15 injured after they were shot by security personnel.

Abi said that they had already asked for police to agree to the planned solidarity action a day earlier. "We provided [police] with a notification and they provided a record of it", he said.

Police however blocked the action, said Abi, on the grounds that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was currently visiting Yogyakarta. Widodo is in Yogyakarta to attend a ceremony to break ground on the construction of a new international airport in Kulon Progo regency.

"The police said that the reason for blocking our action was because President Jokowi would be here", said Abi. (gil)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Jokowi Kunjungi Yogya, Mahasiswa Papua 'Terkurung' di Asrama".]

Source: http://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20170127135636-20-189490/jokowi-kunjungi-yogya-mahasiswa-papua-terkurung-di-asrama/

West Papuans not yet a minority in homeland

Radio New Zealand International - January 26, 2017

New statistics on the ethnic composition of Indonesia's Papua region indicate that the indigenous West Papuans are not yet the minority there.

This is despite research following the 2010 national census which extrapolated that Papuans made up around 48 percent of the entire population as the growth of the non-Papuan population soared.

The Indonesian Statistics Office has recently produced an ethnic breakdown of the 40 regencies which make up the provinces of Papua and West Papua, based on the 2010 census.

The stats show that of Papua region's total population of 3.6 million, around 66 percent is made up of Papuans. But the percentage of Papuans as a proportion of the population has fallen catastrophically in some regions, particularly around urban centres.

The convenor of the West Papua project at the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University, Jim Elmslie, said this pattern hadn't really happened in the Highlands where Papuans still make up the vast majority.

"Even though there's huge developments all across the country that will threaten them, and bring in more settlers and bring in development. And all of those things are drivers of conflict, both between the state – in the form of the police and the military – and Papuan nationalists; and also within areas where there are populations (of Papuans and non-Papuans) who are in effect competing for land."

Dr Elmslie said it could be considered a positive for the indigenous Melanesians of this vast region that in the Highlands especially, they are "not on the verge of disappearing under the weight of inward migration".

"Some people seem to feel that the general conflict in West Papua would disappear over time as the Papuan population became a minority. Well that's obviously not going to happen. That is happening in the lowlands, but it's not going to happen anytime soon in the Highlands."

The regencies where the non-Papuan population is concentrated tend to be the centres of power and the richest areas where access to health and education services is best.

Furthermore, the population growth rate of non-Papuans in Papua region is significantly higher than that of Papuans, and based on this trend, the minoritisation of the Papuan population will continue.

Dr Elmslie's new paper confirms that the proportion of Papuan people as a percentage of the entire population continues to decline, which his previous research since 2006 already found.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/323120/west-papuans-not-yet-a-minority-in-homeland

Indonesia blocks websites circulating #LetWestPapuaVote petition

Okezone - January 26, 2017

Badriyanto, Jakarta – Indonesian military (TNI) chief General Gatot Nurmantyo was relaxed in response to news that there is a West Papua people's petition seeking to separate West Papua from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

"Everything's okay with West Papua right. There isn't any problem", said Nurmantyo during a hearing with the House of Representative's Commission I overseeing information and communications, defense and foreign affairs at the parliamentary complex in Jakarta on Thursday January 26.

Nurmantyo explained he's not going to get upset over the various petitions initiated by "criminal" groups because it's a waste of time and energy on matters that are of little substance.

Nurmantyo also explained that the Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo) has already blocked a number of websites that have been circulating the petition. "If the petition's not from an official group then why should we bother about it, it's tiring right. Who made this [petitions], who makes them, there's no end to them", continued Nurmantyo.

As already reported, an online petition has been circulating supporting West Papua's separation from the NKRI. The petition is targeting 10,000 people and will be taken to Geneva and handed over to the United Nations. (aky)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Tanggapi Masalah OPM, Panglima TNI: Papua Barat Baik-Baik Saja".]


Source: http://news.okezone.com/read/2017/01/26/337/1602184/tanggapi-masalah-opm-panglima-tni-papua-barat-baik-baik-saja


East Aceh scraps candidate debates to prevent clashes between supporters

Jakarta Post - January 25, 2017

Jakarta – The East Aceh consultative leadership board (Muspida) has agreed to cancel candidate debate events ahead of the election of regional heads in the regency.

The cancellation was confirmed after Muspida members held a meeting at the East Aceh Police headquarters on Tuesday evening. They made the decision following a string of clashes between supporters of various regent candidates.

East Aceh Voters Supervisory Committee (Panwaslih) head Zainal Abidin initially insisted that candidate debate events must be held because they were one of several stages of the election process.

East Aceh Police head Adj. Sr. Comr. Rudi Purwiyanto said, however, that candidate debates were not part of elections.

"Concerning incidents that have occurred in the previous stages, it will be better if there is no candidate debate. We are worried that it will incite clashes between supporters of candidate pairs," he said.

Zainal said General Elections Commission (KPU) Regulation No. 12/2016 stipulated that a candidate debate was part of campaign activities. "You should read a law or regulation thoroughly so you can understand it in accordance with its context," he said.

Echoing Zainal, the Idi Prosecutor's Office intelligence division head, Khairul, said in the 2016 KPU regulation, a candidate debate could be defined as a campaign event, which meant debates were part of campaign activities and could be chosen as a campaign method.

"The independent elections commission can skip candidate debate events, while for candidate pairs, there will be no sanctions if candidate debate events do not take place," said Khairul.

After the discussion, the Muspida members agreed there would be no candidate debate for East Aceh regent and deputy regent candidate pairs.

The campaign teams of the Ridwan Abubakar-Abdul Rani and Hasballah HM Thaib-Syahrul Syamaun pairs also agreed to the removal of debates. This makes East Aceh the only regency in Aceh that will not hold candidate debates ahead of the simultaneous regional elections scheduled for Feb. 15. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/25/east-aceh-scraps-candidate-debates-to-prevent-clashes-between-supporters.html

Military ties

Indonesia awaits Aust visit and report

Australian Associated Press - January 27, 2017

Lauren Farrow and Heru Rahadi – Indonesia will await the outcome of Australia's investigation into the training material behind this month's defence suspension before making a decision about further cooperation.

It has also called for Australia to ensure the "trespassers" who climbed onto the roof of Indonesia's consulate in Melbourne "immediately" face the law.

Indonesia's Chief of military General Gatot Nurmantyo, joined the country's defence and foreign ministers, as well the head of intelligence at parliament for the closed-door meet that ran for more than six hours on Thursday.

When it was finished, General Nurmantyo told reporters, Australia's chief of army Angus Campbell will come to Indonesia next month to convey the result of their investigation into the material which sparked the Indonesian general's announcement this month that defence cooperation was suspended.

"They (Australia) have apologised and they have evaluated the curriculum and they are investigating," General Nurmantyo said on Thursday. "Whether or not we continue to cooperate will depend on that."

In a shock-move, General Nurmantyo announced the suspension earlier this month, saying an Indonesian officer discovered the material while on a language training course at a Perth base in Australia late last year.

General Nurmantyo said it poked fun at Indonesia's founding principles – Pancasila – and also suggested its province of Papua should be independent. Initially it was reported the suspension would apply to all military ties, however, the government later said it was only in relation to language training.

"Australia is one of our most important partners, I think as a close neighbour we need each other," she told reporters after the parliamentary briefing," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said.

With such a "high intensity relationship" it was no surprise that every now and then there would be "problems".

She said the parliament was also keen to see Australia bring those protesters who "trespassed" on the Indonesian consulate-general in Melbourne this month and displayed a West Papuan flag.

"Why up to now those people haven't been arrested? It has been more than 20 days," Ms Marsudi said. "(We want Australia) to immediately solve this case and bring this case before the legal process."

Parliamentary member T. B. Hasanuddin asked: "How come they (Australia) have the capability to hunt terrorists so fast, and then when looking just for these two 'bums' they cannot (catch them)?"

Source: https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/34277891/indonesia-awaiting-aust-investigation/

Human rights & justice

Young voices amplify demand for justice for past violence

Jakarta Post - January 24, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The call is getting louder. The government may choose to remain silent or try and bury the issue with more empty promises.

But there is no stopping the demand for justice and truth for past human rights abuse cases related to 1965 and other tragedies that have taken the lives of thousands in the country.

It reverberates through generations, even among young people who now live decades after the violence took place.

Christian Evander Lesnussa, 25, said he shared a deep concern about the unresolved cases of past human rights abuses, even those that occurred before he was born.

Since 2013, Evander has regularly joined with activists and victims of human rights abuse during Kamisan, a silent protest held every Thursday to demand that the government resolve past human rights abuses, in front of Gedung Sate, the West Java gubernatorial office, in Bandung.

Started in 2007 during the administration of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Kamisan first took place in front of the State Palace in Jakarta. Within a decade, the protests – known for their characteristic silence, black attire and black umbrellas – spread to other cities.

"If not us [the young generation], who else can push the government to resolve the cases?" Evander told the Jakarta Post on Saturday.

But 10 years on, the protesters' demands have largely gone unanswered, even until the current administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who during his presidential campaign lauded activist-cum-poet Wiji Thukul, who has been missing since the 1998 riots, as part of his pledge to resolve the human rights abuse cases.

Kamisan has also inspired Usamah Zed, a university student from Bali, to always spare his Thursdays to join the protest during his visit to the capital. Usamah believes that youth can give strength to the victims and their families.

"We don't have to become victims to care about their struggles. As long as past cases of human rights abuse remain unresolved, there is always a possibility that someday I may become a victim too," the 23-year-old said.

In recent years, Indonesia has seen more of its young people become concerned about the government's sluggish efforts to settle at least seven cases of human rights abuse that Jokowi's administration promised to resolve, including the 1965 communist purge and the 1998 riots.

Imam Sukri Nawawi, 19, chose to launch his campaign by posting his illustrations, including an illustration of human rights defender Munir Said Thalib, whose murder 12 years ago remains unsolved, on his Instagram account.

For Prodita Sabarini, 34, establishing an online platform named Ingat65 (Remember 65), where young people can write and share their stories about how the tragedy affected them, is a way to raise awareness among young people who lack understanding about what happened.

"We realize that there is a lacuna in young people's knowledge about 1965. What happened in the period affected our lives and the country's political system," said the Ingat65 chief editor.

Since its establishment in March last year, Ingat65, which can be accessed at atmedium.com/ingat-65, has published more than 50 reflective and personal stories that shed light on the country's dark past.

"The platform is more like a storytelling space for young people to share what they think about it. It tries to make the issue less scary because the stories are personal," she said.

From last week, the country has also seen the screening of Istirahatlah Kata-Kata, a biographical movie about Wiji. The film narrates Wiji's life from 1996 when he was a fugitive until his disappearance before the fall of the New Order.

Director Yosep Anggi Noen said the way young people responded to the movie showed that the younger generation had grown concerned and was now eager to learn about the nation's history. "There are many of them who are inspired and no longer show apathy," Anggi told the Post.

"It's important for young people to learn their own history. The democracy that has brought freedom for them has yet to be acknowledged as a struggle. They only enjoy it without knowing the process," he added.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/24/young-voices-amplify-demand-for-justice-for-past-violence.html

Labour & migrant workers

Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong report House speaker over insult

Jakarta Post - January 30, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – A group representing the interests of Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong filed a complaint on Monday with the House of Representatives ethics council against Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah over remarks deemed insulting.

The chief and deputy chief of LACI (Lingkaran Aku Cinta Indonesia/Circle of I Love Indonesia), Nur Halimah and Sri Martuti, who are both migrant workers, arrived from Hong Kong on Sunday evening to personally submit the complaint representing all Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong, demanding the House's ethics council investigate and punish the outspoken lawmaker for his tweet.

"It's deeply regrettable for an official like FH [Fahri Hamzah] to refer us as beggars and babu," Nur Halimah told the press, referring to a tweet in which Fahri had used babu, a derogatory term for a maid, when complaining about "rampant" illegal workers in the country, contrasting the problem with struggling Indonesian maids begging for money abroad.

Fahri later removed the post and apologized, as his tweet went viral and stirred up protest from netizens.

"We are not beggars. We are not babu. We work in Hong Kong because there is demand for our services there. We are doing a proper job and we definitely properly earn our income, which contributes to the state's foreign exchange," Nur Halimah added.

LACI is the second organization to report Fahri. On Friday, rights group Migrant Care also filed a complaint against Fahri, who is the deputy chairman of a House special team overseeing migrant workers.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/30/indonesian-migrant-workers-in-hong-kong-report-house-speaker-over-insult.html

Lawmaker's insulting tweet on housemaids puts unfinished bill back in spotlight

Jakarta Post - January 28, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The spotlight on remarks made by House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah that have been deemed derogatory has triggered a discussion on the prolonged deliberation of a bill on Indonesian migrant workers (TKI).

Rights watchdog Migrant Care has questioned lawmakers' commitment to completing the bill deliberation, which has remained unfinished even after seven years of discussions.

"We would like to remind the House to seriously discuss the bill as the deliberations are still ongoing after seven years," Migrant Care director Anis Hidayah said on Friday.

Anis raised the issue over doubts about whether lawmakers paid real attention to the problems surrounding TKI, following Fahri's remarks that were deemed insulting toward all TKI because he used the derogatory term babu to refer to housemaids.

For Migrant Care, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician's insensitivity reflected that of a majority of lawmakers, and thus a lack of commitment from the House in general that had put a stumbling block in the way of the bill.

The bill, which aims to comprehensively regulate the placement of all TKI abroad as well as their rights, would amend an existing 2004 law that is seen as an inadequate guarantee for safeguarding the rights of TKI.

The bill was included on a list of priority bills in the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) in 2010-2014, but was extended to the 2014-2019 priority list because the House failed to complete it by the deadline.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/28/lawmakers-insulting-tweet-on-housemaids-puts-unfinished-bill-back-in-spotlight.html

Ethics council should sack House deputy speaker who called migrant workers

Jakarta Globe - January 26, 2017

Jakarta – A recent tweet by House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah has backfired on him, as Indonesian migrant workers intend to file a lawsuit.

Political analyst Maksimus Ramses Lalongkoe said the public condemnation of Fahri, coming especially from migrant workers, is common sense. The tweet implied that they had become beggars in foreign lands.

"The condemnation is very logical and rational, as there is a clear cause-and-effect relation in this situation," Ramses said in Jakarta on Wednesday (25/01).

According to Ramses, it shows that Fahri's statement was inappropriate and the ethics council of the House of Representatives should summon him, or even sack him for violating its ethics code.

"The ethics council should not wait until a public report is filed; they can summon and even sack him based on the news in the media. I think Fahri should be dismissed. His words have insulted and demeaned migrant workers, who donate foreign exchange to Indonesia's development," Ramses said.

The tweet, which has since been deleted from the lawmaker's Twitter account @Fahrihamzah, said "Our people have been begging and becoming maids in other countries, while foreign workers thrive [in Indonesia]."

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/ethics-council-sack-house-deputy-speaker-called-migrant-workers-beggars-observer/

Hong Kong migrant workers demand apology over House deputy speaker's statement

Jakarta Post - January 25, 2017

Jakarta – Hong Kong migrant workers have demanded that House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah apologize publicly over comments about the condition of migrant workers overseas.

"We demand Bapak Fahri Hamzah apologize officially for his derogatory comments about Indonesian migrant workers and for using invalid data to claim that 1,000 migrant workers in Hong Kong had been impregnated, leaving their kids without care, and claiming 30 percent of the migrants had HIV/AIDS," 55 Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong under the LACI group said in a release on Wednesday.

Fahri stirred up protests from netizens following a tweet associating Indonesian migrant workers with "beggars turning into housemaids abroad". Fahri immediately removed the post from his account.

"We also push the House's ethics council to evaluate Fahri's performance and consider his dismissal from his position as a lawmaker," the group added.

In his most recent tweet, Fahri said: "To those who felt insulted [by my comments], herewith I apologize."(dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/25/hong-kong-migrant-workers-demand-apology-over-house-deputy-speakers-statement.html

West Java allows 43 companies to postpone payments based on new wage

Jakarta Post - January 23, 2017

Jakarta – West Java provincial administration has allowed 43 companies across the province to postpone payments to their workers based on the new city and regency minimum wages due to various difficulties, an official has said.

Head of West Java Manpower and Transmigration Agency Ferry Sofwan Arief said the administration had received proposals from 140 companies requesting the postponement of new minimum wage levels.

"Most of the companies that requested the postponement are engaged in textiles, garments and leather," he said, as quoted by tempo.co on Friday.

He, however, stressed that the companies that had been allowed to postpone payment of new minimum wage levels had to pay the postponed wages later, as per a verdict of the Constitutional Court, which had accepted the judicial review against Law No. 13/2003 on manpower.

Before allowing the companies to postpone new minimum wage levels, the government required the companies to agree to pay the postponed wages when their cash flow recovered, said Ferry.

"If they cannot pay in the first half of the year, they can start paying in the middle of this year up to December," he said, adding that the administration would encourage the companies to pay all postponed wages no later than December.

Other requirements for the postponement included agreements with trade unions, financial reports from the previous two years and the companies' plans for the next two years.

Although the decree on the minimum wage was signed by the governor, debates on the issue were held at city and regency levels. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/23/west-java-allows-43-companies-to-postpone-payments-based-on-new-wage.html

Freedom of speech & expression

Press Council member summons Muslim preacher over PKI accusation

Jakarta Post - January 30, 2017

Jakarta – Press Council member Nezar Patria, through his lawyers, sent a legal warning letter on Monday to university lecturer and Muslim preacher Alfian Tanjung for accusing him of being a cadre of the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

"We rejected and deeply objected a statement by Alfian Tanjung, which has gone viral," one of the lawyers, Kamal Farza, said in a statement.

In a sermon at Said Grand Mosque in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, on Oct. 1, 2016, Alfian said the Presidential Palace had been occupied by PKI members.

The lecturer of Hamka Muhammadiyah University said that among the alleged PKI cadres, Presidential Chief of Staff Teten Masduki, Nezar Patria and House of Representatives member from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Budiman Sudjatmiko had used the palace for daily meetings held before 8 p.m.

Kamal Farza said Alfian's speech, which mentioned Nezar as a PKI cadre, was slanderous. "Nezar, who was born in the New Order era [of former president Soeharto], of course has never been a member of the PKI nor a cadre," the lawyer said.

"As a Muslim, it is impossible that Nezar would fight against Islam, which has become his religion and cultural identity as he was born in Aceh, a region with a strong Islamic tradition in the archipelago," he added.

Kamal urged Alfian to revoke the accusation and asked for an apology. "But if Alfian does not revoke his statement, we will take legal action," he added.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/30/press-council-member-summons-muslim-preacher-over-pki-accusation.html

Presidential Chief of Staff reports university lecturer over PKI accusation

Jakarta Post - January 28, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – A team of lawyers representing Presidential Chief of Staff (KSP) office head Teten Masduki, reported university lecturer and Muslim preacher Alfian Tanjung to the National Police over alleged defamation on Friday.

Alfian, a lecturer at the Hamka Muhammadiyah University, was reported to the police for alleging that Teten was a member of the now defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) who often conducted PKI related meetings at his office in the Presidential Palace compound at nights.

"It is a serious allegation because it doesn't affect Pak Teten as a person but also the KSP that he chairs," Ifdhal Kasim, one of Teten's lawyers, said after submitting the complaint to the National Police's Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) headquarters in Central Jakarta.

"This is an effort to delegitimize the KSP, which has a strategic role to help manage the government to become more democratic," the former chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) added.

The team of six lawyers eventually filed the report to the police after receiving no response from Alfian following Teten's demand that he deliver a formal apology and remove the internet content that contained the allegation.

Besides Ifdhal, the team also includes prominent human rights lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, who was not seen among his colleagues on Friday as he was out of the country. Ifdhal said his team would go to the Bareskrim headquarters again later next week to complete the paperwork before the legal process began. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/27/presidential-chief-of-staff-reports-university-lecturer-over-pki-accusation.html

UI lecturer named suspect for social media posts

Jakarta Post - January 25, 2017

Jakarta – University of Indonesia lecturer Ade Armando has been named a suspect for allegedly violating the Electronic Information and Transactions Law.

Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono was quoted by Antara as saying on Wednesday that police investigators followed up a complaint filed by Johan Khan over Ade's Facebook and Twitter posts on May 20, 2015, suggesting people to read verses in languages other than Arabic, citing that "Allah does not belong to the Arab people."

Johan has reportedly demanded Ade to apologize publicly but the latter turned down the demand. Ade came to the Jakarta Police in June last year to clarify himself over the case. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/25/ui-lecturer-named-suspect-for-social-media-posts.html

Freedom of information & the press

Indonesia's highest Islamic clerical body to issue fatwa on hoax news

Sydney Morning Herald - January 31, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – Indonesia's highest Islamic clerical body is poised to issue a fatwa against hoax news amid fears that fake reports on social media are fuelling ethnic and political conflict.

Fake news is a huge problem in Indonesia in the lead-up to the gubernatorial election in February, with much of it targeting the Chinese ethnicity of the current Jakarta governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok.

The fatwa is further evidence that Indonesian authorities are beginning to repudiate the influence of Islamic hardliners. The man who spearheaded three massive anti-Ahok rallies last year – Rizieq Shihab – was named as a suspect on Monday night for allegedly insulting the state's ideology, Pancasila.

Hoax news has included that Indonesia is being flooded by 10 million Chinese workers, that its new currency bears an image of the banned communist hammer and sickle, that Ahok's free Human Papillomavirus vaccine program could make girls infertile and that China is waging biological warfare against Indonesia with contaminated chilli seeds.

Rizieq fanned anti-Chinese sentiment by tweeting that Indonesia was at risk of being taken over by the Chinese and becoming part of the Communist state.

According to Tempo magazine, Rizieq said the movement on social media was a form of solidarity to defend Islam after Ahok allegedly insulted the religion.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Ma'ruf Amin said he had discussed the new fatwa on hoax news with the Minister of Communication and Education, Rudiantara. He said it would state that to lie and slander is haram (forbidden).

"We asked what the government wanted and we provided [religious] guidance so that our approach will not be in opposition to government policy. We must support each other," Mr Ma'ruf said.

The MUI has come under fire recently for issuing edicts that critics claim are inciting religiously-motivated raids and having a destabilising impact on society.

The clerical body issued a "religious standpoint" on October 11 that Ahok had insulted the Koran and religious clerics when he told voters they had been deceived by his opponents who used a Koranic verse to attack him.

This led to the formation of the "National Movement to Defend [the] MUI Fatwa", a body responsible for organising three massive anti-Ahok rallies, one of which spiralled into violence.

Ahok was named as a suspect after the second rally and is now on trial for alleged blasphemy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years' jail.

The Islam Defenders Front (FPI) also visited shopping malls in Surabaya after the MUI issued a fatwa before Christmas banning Muslims from wearing religious apparel such as Santa hats and selling non-Islamic religious items.

"MUI fatwas have often been used as justification by people who are against pluralism and sometimes against democracy," the deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, told Fairfax Media.

He said a 2005 fatwa which held that the Ahmadiya community were heretical and should be banned in Indonesia had been used to persecute the sect's followers.

Police chief Tito Karnavian warned this month that fatwas were threatening security and unity in Indonesia and there needed to be improved communication between the MUI and police.

Mr Ma'ruf, who gave evidence in Ahok's blasphemy trial on Tuesday, told Fairfax Media the police had asked for religious guidance from the MUI over Ahok's statement.

"Whenever there is a movement that created unrest among the people, we were asked to issue a fatwa," he said. "We only said [Ahok] insulted, his words insulted. The situation was already tense. The [religious ruling] was actually issued so that people would not take the law into their own hands."

Mr Ma'ruf said the problem lay not with the fatwas, but with organisations who sought to enforce them by conducting raids. "If people want to help enforce them, fine, but what we oppose is if they do sweeping or beat up people, becoming violent."

He said it was important that police did not participate in meetings to decide on fatwas because they were about religious issues.

However in order to prevent chaotic situations in public when the fatwas were issued, the MUI would communicate with police so they could anticipate their release.

Mr Ma'ruf said the MUI would coordinate with police ahead of the release of the hoax news fatwa within the next two weeks.

He also said the MUI was preparing a declaration underlining its commitment to Indonesia and pluralism. "This is to make it clear that the mass organisations who join in MUI are not anti-Pancasila, are not anti-pluralism, are not [against] the 1945 Constitution."

Mr Ma'ruf said that although many Islamic groups were represented within the MUI there was almost never a dissenting opinion when it came to issuing fatwas.

The one exception was the controversial fatwa against smoking in 2009: "We argued for two days and could not come to a solid conclusion." Mr Ma'ruf said the vote was split, with those who opposed the fatwa arguing there were many people who made money from the tobacco business.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/indonesias-highest-islamic-clerical-body-to-issue-fatwa-on-hoax-news-20170131-gu2e7w.html

Political parties & elections

Rivals jeopardize ruling PDI-P's attempt to control House

Jakarta Post - January 24, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Rival parties have jeopardized the path taken by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) to secure the chairmanships of both the House of Representatives and the People's Consultative Assembly, a House member said.

The Gerindra Party, which supported its chairman Prabowo Subianto in a presidential contest against Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who is now in power, and the National Awakening Party (PKB) have also demanded chairmanship positions in the name of "justice", a House member from Gerindra, Desmond Junaidi Mahesa, said.

"PDI-P has requested the chairmanships on the basis of proportionality so that it must be part of the leadership as it was the winner of the [2014] legislative election. For the same proportionality reason, Gerindra thus demands a chairmanship position as well," Desmond told reporters on Tuesday.

Desmond argued that Gerindra and the PKB deserved the same position, saying Gerindra won the third biggest proportion with 73 seats and the PKB got 46 seats to be sixth biggest in the 2014 legislative election.

"We will accept the current chairmanship formation as it is, excluding an additional seat for the PDI-P. We will demand more seats for us and the PKB if the PDI-P pushes for space," he emphasized.

The current House chairmanship consists of Setya Novanto of Golkar, Fadli Zon of Gerindra, Fahri Hamzah of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Taufik Kurniawan of the National Mandate Parry (PAN) and Agus Hermanto of the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, the Consultative Assembly's leadership consists of Zulkifli Hasan of PAN, Mahyudin of Golkar, EE Mangindaan of the Democratic Party, Hidayat Nur Wahid of the PKS and Oesman Sapta of the Hanura Party. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/24/rivals-jeopardize-ruling-pdi-ps-attempt-to-control-house.html

Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections

Prabowo to hit streets canvassing for Anies

Jakarta Post - January 31, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Just two weeks ahead of the election, Jakarta gubernatorial candidate pair Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno will wheel out their big gun, Gerindra chief patron Prabowo Subianto, on Tuesday for a three-day vote drive.

With the personal backing of Prabowo, the ticket is hoping to boost its electability as he has a strong base in the capital and is well known since his run in the 2014 presidential election. It is also designed to show that the camp is "solid" through the Gerindra leader's willingness to take part directly in the campaign.

"We'll show that we're solid and all out. His presence will have a positive effect and prove to the public that we're fighting together," Anies said on Monday.

Prabowo, the only rival of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo during the 2014 election, will spend the morning to late afternoon each day meeting voters in three or four areas.

On Tuesday, Prabowo is scheduled to meet the residents of four neighborhood units (RT) in Pinang Ranti and Cakung in East Jakarta and Cilincing in North Jakarta and is slated to bring along some elite members of the party's ally, the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Prabowo will be the first party leader among the various coalitions running in the Jakarta gubernatorial election to directly participate in the hustings.

Anies-Sandiaga's team spokesman Aryo Djojohadikusumo said Prabowo's decision to join the campaign was at the request of the public, particularly Gerindra supporters.

"[The people] said they wanted to directly meet not only Anies-Sandiaga but also Prabowo. They want to make sure that it's really Prabowo's decision to endorse Anies-Sandiaga as candidates," Aryo, Prabowo's nephew, said.

Anies-Sandiaga is currently enjoying an uptick in electability although it is still trailing in second position behind incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

Pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia revealed last week that Anies had won over some voters in Prabowo's base who had earlier preferred rival Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono-Sylviana Murni.

Indikator showed Agus' electability slumped because of his failure to maintain his base of support among those who voted for the Fauzi Bowo-Nachrowi Ramli ticket in the Jakarta election in 2012 and for Prabowo-Hatta Rajasa in 2014.

The survey found Agus' support among Prabowo-Hatta voters declined from 44 percent to 36 percent during the same period. "It's true that Prabowo's base is one of the factors that has boosted Anies' electability," Aryo said. He added that Prabowo's base was evenly distributed throughout the city, albeit with distinct demographic factors.

Aryo cited as examples strong support from Betawi (Jakarta's indigenous ethnic group) voters in South Jakarta, while in East Jakarta Prabowo is strongly supported by Minangkabau (Padang ethnic group) voters and by voters connected to the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the Communication Forum of Indonesian Veterans' Children (FKPPI).

"It's only in Central Jakarta and Thousand Islands that our base remains weak," he said. Aryo said there were many parts of Prabowo's base in which support for Ahok was also strong, because Ahok was once a Gerindra member. "But I think it depends on the predominant religion and ethnicity in those areas," Aryo said.

Political communication expert Zaenal A. Budiyono said public recognition of Prabowo remained high and his presence could boost Anies' electability.

"The last days ahead of voting will determine many things, so it is understandable that Anies-Sandiaga want to maximize their effort by presenting Prabowo," Zaenal said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/31/prabowo-to-hit-streets-canvassing-for-anies.html

NU, Muhammadiyah 'not involved' in Jakarta election

Jakarta Post - January 31, 2017

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – The central boards of Indonesia's largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, have distanced themselves from the Jakarta gubernatorial election despite previous claims by their Jakarta branches that they will back the Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono-Sylviana Murni ticket.

Some 60 Muslim groups, including the Jakarta branches of NU and Muhammadiyah, declared on Saturday that they were supporting the Agus-Sylviana pair – backed by the Democratic Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the National Mandate Party (PAN) – in the Jakarta gubernatorial election slated for Feb. 15.

In response to the decision taken by NU's Jakarta branch, NU central board executive Imam Aziz said the organization remained neutral in "any political activities," including the Jakarta election.

Imam, who is known for advocating tolerance and pluralism, said members of NU, including those residing in the capital, had to maintain NU's nature as "a mass organization, not a political party."

"[The decision taken by NU's Jakarta branch] is not in line with our stance to remain neutral. Members of NU are encouraged to participate [in the Jakarta election] by casting their votes, but not by directing other people to vote for any particular candidate," Imam told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Imam said NU members had to become "wiser" to toe the organization's line on maintaining its neutrality when it comes to politics.

Asked about steps to be taken following the declaration of support by NU Jakarta, Imam said merely that the board had given its instructions and that the support "might be coming from individuals."

Muslim groups declaring their support for the Agus-Sylviana ticket include the Jakarta chapter of the Communication Forum for Islamic Propagation Organizations (FKLD), the presidium board of which is chaired by Muhammadiyah Jakarta deputy chairman Tjuwandi (not Tjuandi as reported earlier), and another 12 groups across the capital.

Tjuwandi, along with Maisaroh Ali, the chairwoman of the Jakarta branch of Aisyiyah, Muhammadiyah's women's wing, said after the event that Muhammadiyah was backing Agus and Sylviana, claiming the pair was "capable of protecting diversity and religious pluralism" in Jakarta.

Muhammadiyah central board secretary Abdul Mu'ti said Monday the organization was not "involved in any activities related to political support in the Jakarta election," adding Muhammadiyah Jakarta was "more authorized" to respond to any question over its neutrality. "If [the support] came from individuals, it was their political right," Abdul said in a telephone interview.

In the past, the two influential organizations stressed their neutrality in major political events. In the 2004 presidential election, NU distanced itself from politics when its cleric Hasyim Muzadi ran in the race as a vice presidential candidate for Megawati Soekarnoputri, the leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party Of Struggle (PDI-P), while Muhammadiyah, which is headquartered in Yogyakarta, took the same direction when then PAN chairman Hatta Rajasa was paired with presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto in the 2014 presidential election. PAN is linked with Muhammadiyah.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/31/nu-muhammadiyah-not-involved-in-jakarta-election.html

MUI chairman testifies at Ahok trial, admits did not watch video

Jakarta Post - January 31, 2017

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – Chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Ma'ruf Amin testified during a hearing on Tuesday as part of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's trial, admitting that he did not watch the video that contained Ahok's alleged blasphemous statement.

"I only read the transcript. [Our] team watched the video," Ma'ruf told the court. The hearing took place in an auditorium at the Ministry of Agriculture in Ragunan, South Jakarta.

He said the team then discussed the pressure from public who expected MUI to issue its stance related to Ahok's speech in the Thousands Islands regency in September last year.

"We just discussed part of the statement. The team discussed the whole statement, but it was not relevant. So we just discussed the part [that was considered blasphemous]," he added.

In that part of the statement, Ahok said Muslims were being cheated by referencing surah Al Maidah verse 51 of the Quran in order to not elect a non-Muslim leader.

Ahok has said he meant that certain politicians used Quranic verses for their own political interests to get Muslim votes. He has also asked for forgiveness, saying he did not intend to insult Islam. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/31/mui-chairman-testifies-at-ahok-trial-admits-did-not-watch-video.html

Feeling victimized, Agus points finger at 'abuse' of power

Jakarta Post - January 30, 2017

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono echoed Monday a recent statement made by his backer, the Democratic Party, which questioned the impartiality of stakeholders in the race and deplored those who "fabricated false allegations" against his running mate Sylviana Murni.

Previously, a party letter dated Jan. 27, jointly signed by Agus' father Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who is the Dems' chief patron and former president, and Hinca Pandjaitan, the party's secretary general, criticized the Jakarta gubernatorial election for having "moved in the wrong direction." The party claimed that "law enforcers have become partial."

Sylviana is now under the spotlight for her alleged involvement in two corruption cases. On Monday, the National Police's Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) questioned her in relation to the ongoing investigation of a graft case involving the construction of Al Fauz mosque, a Rp 27 billion project, in Central Jakarta developed when she served as the municipality's mayor in 2010.

"We deplore the trumped up allegations being made during these final days before the election [on Feb. 15]," Agus said Monday.

"The public has become wiser to the fact that everything has been politicized. In one situation, [legal enforcers] expedited the process, while in another occasion, they responded in a slow fashion," Agus, a former Indonesian Military (TNI) officer, said.

"We call for everyone [especially] those who are in power not to abuse their privileges by fabricating false allegations that have emerged from nowhere. It's not good for the Indonesian people, especially in practicing democracy," Agus said. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/30/feeling-victimized-agus-points-finger-at-abuse-of-power.html

Jakarta's fishermen remain undecided in gubernatorial election

Jakarta Post - January 30, 2017

Indra Budiari, Jakarta – It was 10 a.m. when The Jakarta Post approached a group of fishermen who were sitting and chatting by boats moored in Kali Adem, North Jakarta. The conversation led to the hottest current political debate: which of the three Jakarta gubernatorial candidates is fit to lead the capital. The fishermen, who are registered Jakarta residents, have pledged to vote in the election on Feb. 15.

However, they said they were still uncommitted to any particular candidate as they were unsure as to whether the next governor would improve their lives. Just like their past discussions about politics, that day's discussion came back to two things: food and electricity bills.

"I just don't think any of them will make a change in our lives. We have been deceived by politicians for too long," one of the fishermen, Sude Sijan, said as he lit up his cigarette. He was referring to the three candidate pairs – Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono-Sylviana Murnia, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat and Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno.

After living by the sea for 22 years, Sude said many gubernatorial candidates had visited his neighborhood and made lots of promises, particularly pledges to improve their welfare. The only change he has noticed over the years, however, is that there are less and less fish in his fishing nets.

Things have become hard for Sude and other fishermen in the past two years after the Jakarta administration under Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama gave the green light to the construction of several man-made islets in coastal area, which has forced them to travel extra miles to catch fish. In the past, Sude went on, fishermen could see fish a few hundred meters from the land. Now, they have to go further.

Iwan, another fisherman who refused to reveal his last name, said gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan had visited his area and promised that he and his running mate Sandiaga would stop the controversial reclamation project if they were elected. Anies, he went on, told them that the fishermen would not have to share the sea with the man-made islets anymore. Iwan, however, did not buy his claim.

"Stopping the reclamation means fighting against rich and powerful people. I am not sure any governor would want to do that," Iwan said. "But one thing is for sure, I will not vote for Ahok. He has caused a lot of trouble for us fishermen".

Besides issuing permits for the reclamation project, Ahok drew criticism from fishermen in January 2016 when he planned to evict them from North Jakarta's coastal area and relocate them to low cost apartment blocks (rusunawa) in the Thousand Islands. The fishermen believe that the administration should take their opinions into account before it makes a decision.

Separately, Marthin Hadiwinata of the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen's Association (KNTI) said that none of the three candidates had so far presented any clear ideas about how they would support the livelihoods of the fishermen.

For instance, Marthin said that while Ahok insisted on continuing the North Jakarta Bay reclamation project, the other two candidates had shown no detailed plan for how they would stop the controversial project that has seriously threatened fishermen's livelihoods.

"We don't know if Agus will continue the reclamation project or not, and even though Anies has pledged to stop it, he has not revealed any details. So we do not have a lot of hope," Marthin told the Post.

Marthin added that none of the three candidates had revealed their plans on how they intended to improve the livelihoods of people living in the coastal and small island areas. "We need the candidates to look further into fishermen's problems and offer some solutions."

The Jakarta Bay contains a lot of toxic substances from all waste that finds its way there from the capital through 13 rivers. The reclamation project has worsened this pollution.

According to the Jakarta Maritime, Fisheries and Food Security Agency, the number of fishermen in Jakarta is decreasing. In 2009, the agency recorded that there were 23,827 fishermen in the city. Three years later its survey revealed that there were only 17,405 fishermen.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/30/jakartas-fishermen-remain-undecided-in-gubernatorial-election.html

Prabowo to get directly involved in Anies-Sandi campaign

Jakarta Post - January 30, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Gerindra Party patron Prabowo Subianto is ready to get directly involved in the campaign of Jakarta gubernatorial candidate pair Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno for three days, starting on Tuesday.

During that time, he will spend his days from morning to afternoon meeting Jakarta residents in areas across the city.

On Tuesday, Prabowo is scheduled to meet the residents of four neighborhood units in Pinang Ranti and Cakung in East Jakarta and Cilincing in North Jakarta.

Prabowo reportedly will bring members of the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) elite, the Gerindra Party's ally in supporting the Anies-Sandi ticket, along for his campaigning.

Anies, a former education and culture minister, and his running mate, businessman-turned-politician Sandiaga, are competing against two other candidate pairs to become Jakarta's governor and deputy governor. They are incumbents Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and Djarot Saiful Hidayat, who are endorsed by a coalition led by Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), and Agus Harimurti and Sylviana Murni, who are running with support from a coalition led by the Democratic Party, which was founded by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Prabowo is the first elite party member who will directly participate in the Jakarta gubernatorial election campaign and carry out impromptu visits, which are popularly known as blusukan. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/30/prabowo-to-get-directly-involved-in-anies-sandi-campaign.html

PKS tells Anies-Sandiaga supporters to interrogate 'foreign looking' voters

Jakarta Post - January 29, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) deputy advisory chairman Hidayat Nurwahid has asked party supporters to stay alert to the possible deployment of foreigners to vote for a particular candidate in the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

Speaking in front of thousands of PKS supporters during a mass campaign event for candidate pair Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno on Sunday, Hidayat asked them to watch their surroundings to check whether foreigners were voting at polling stations in their respective areas during election day on Feb. 15.

"After casting your vote, please stay for a while and make conversation with any person [suspected of being a foreigner]. Ask him or her questions using the Javanese language. If they do not answer, ask in Sundanese. If they do not respond again, ask them using Indonesian because probably he or she can only speak in Indonesian," Hidayat said.

"If they do not speak Indonesian, even though they are holding an e-KTP [electronic ID], the e-KTP is possibly fake," he said. "Report them to the police if that is the case," he added.

Hidayat did not mention the name of the candidate suspected of engaging in such a foul play, or the nationalities he suspected would be deployed to illegally vote in the election.

Rumors have circulated recently claiming that Chinese foreigners will be equipped with fake Indonesian ID cards to cast votes for a certain candidate.

During Sunday's campaign, Anies asserted that he and his running mate, Sandiaga, would win the election unless there was fraud, including the presence of illegal voters at polling stations. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/29/pks-tells-anies-sandiaga-supporters-to-interrogate-foreign-looking-voters.html

Democratic Party doubts fairness, neutrality of 2017 Jakarta election

Jakarta Post - January 29, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Amid growing tension in the Jakarta gubernatorial race, Democratic Party patron and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has issued a press statement calling for the neutrality of the government and its various bureaucracies.

Democratic Party deputy secretary-general Rachlan Nashidik confirmed the authenticity of the statement.

"Yes, the press statement is authentic," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. "It was signed by Pak Yudhoyono and [Democratic Party secretary-general] Hinca Pandjaitan," he added.

Dated Jan. 27, the statement, which comprises seven points, opens with the Democratic Party's concerns over the latest developments in Indonesian society, particularly the political dynamics in the Jakarta election.

"The Democratic Party has observed that the political competition, which should have been run peacefully, fairly and orderly, has moved in the opposite direction," the Democratic Party says in the statement.

"The people have also observed signs of bias in the state and its bureaucracies along with inappropriate interventions," it asserted.

The Democratic Party expresses the hope that the Indonesian Military, the National Police and the State Intelligence Agency can stay neutral and abstain from taking the side of any one particular candidate.

In point five, the party calls on law enforcers to refrain from concocting "trumped up charges" against its candidates Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and Sylviana Murni.

In the statement, the Democratic Party also calls on all volunteers with the Agus campaign to actively guard and secure the candidate and to fight against any form of cheating, intimidation and bias in state bureaucracies.

"Stay alert to the possible presence of people not eligible to vote at polling stations and fight other violations that could sully this election and betray the true choice of the people."

"All [parties] have the right to remind all societal elements to maintain neutrality in this political contest. I think this normal," Democratic Party spokesman Dede Yusuf said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/29/democratic-party-doubts-fairness-neutrality-of-2017-jakarta-election.html

KPU to invite foreign observers for Jakarta election

Jakarta Post - January 29, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The General Elections Commission (KPU) is set to invite representatives of election commissions from Southeast Asia and international NGOs that focus on electoral processes to observe the Jakarta gubernatorial election on Feb. 15.

"The KPU will host its 'Elections Visit' program, which we will invite election observers from Southeast Asian countries and international NGOs to monitor the election in Jakarta," KPU commissioner Sigit Pamungkas told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He further said the election monitoring program, which would be held at the KPU office in Menteng, Central Jakarta, from Feb. 13 to 16, aimed to introduce Indonesia's elections system to other countries.

"We will invite the participants to monitor polling stations across Jakarta on election day. They will hopefully get an idea about the electoral process in Indonesia," Sigit said.

"Apart from observing our elections, they could also share how elections are run in their respective countries," he added. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/29/kpu-to-invite-foreign-observers-for-jakarta-election.html

Ahok 'insists' evictions must go ahead despite residents' objections

Jakarta Post - January 26, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – While other candidates are trying to win the hearts of Jakartans ahead of the gubernatorial election by promising no more evictions will occur, incumbent candidate Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama is walking in the opposite direction.

While campaigning in the densely-populated area of Pesanggrahan, South Jakarta, Ahok insisted that to improve Jakarta, he had no option but to evict people living in the area and move them to low-cost apartments.

"If it is possible, I hope we won't be evicted," said Wahyuni, a 54-year-old resident who had been living in a house beside Pesanggrahan River for 30 years. To earn an income, Wahyuni opened a small snack stall, which sold affordable goods for her neighbors, right beside the river.

"The income from selling snacks is not that much, but even if the city administration promises compensation [for relocated residents], it's not enough to buy a house in Jakarta. Besides, flooding doesn't happen here," Wahyuni said.

Some of the residents shouted they would not vote for Ahok if the non-active governor insisted carrying out evictions. Others said they trusted Ahok whatever he decided. "I will follow what you think is best for us," said Bukhori, 63, a Pesanggrahan resident.

In the visit, Ahok told Wahyuni and other residents that he should relocate people in the area to normalize the river, arguing that it was prone to landslides, which could potentially harm the residents.

"I'm sorry to say but I have to do it [the eviction]. I have no option. I'm worried of the [potential for] landslides, because the foundation of the houses are not supported by concrete," Ahok told them.

He said that he did not want to lie to the residents only to win their vote for the election and promised to pay reasonable compensation. "I don't want to be like other [candidates] that promise [residents] there will be no more evictions, while they will do it if they're elected," Ahok added.

Ahok has been facing sharp criticism from people from various societal elements and has been continuously attacked by his election competitors for his aggressive evictions.

Since he succeeded then governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in 2014, he has evicted residents from a number of areas near riverbanks, forcing thousands of residents to move to low-cost apartments. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/26/ahok-insists-evictions-must-go-ahead-despite-residents-objections.html

Jakarta voters caught up in issue of Ahok's alleged blasphemy: Activists

Jakarta Post - January 26, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – Voters in Jakarta, including middle-income people, have become caught up in anger amid a blasphemy case implicating Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, which has made them forget about other important issues, activists have said.

Qorry Dellaserra of the Working People's Association said as the blasphemy case had divided Jakartans into two opposing groups, namely pro- and anti-Ahok, voters had forgotten their responsibilities in advocating for the rights of poor people in the city of more than 10 million.

Citing an example, Qorry said voices defending Jakarta's poor from evictions had lost out to the blasphemy allegations. "We need not only initiatives. Initiatives without real actions are nothing," she told a discussion on Wednesday evening.

Qorry encouraged participants at the discussion to form an alternative narrative to the blasphemy issue, which she said was a fight between "conservative groups" and "capitalist bureaucrats".

"There are no programs [from the three Jakarta gubernatorial candidates] that have touched on the substantial matters the poor are facing," Qorry said.

She added that even labor movements, which had always been at the forefront of defending the rights of the poor, had also become trapped in the issue.

Citing an example, Qorry said participants of a workers' rally to protest low provincial minimum wages on Dec. 2 last year, which coincided with a mass rally against Ahok's alleged blasphemy, eventually joined with the anti-Ahok protest.

Leftist media Indoprogress editor Muhammad Ridha said the issue of people's equal rights in the city should be raised once again to consolidate action among civil society organizations. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/26/jakarta-voters-caught-up-in-issue-of-ahoks-alleged-blasphemy-activists.html

Renowned musicians launch song in support of Ahok

Jakarta Post - January 25, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Renowned Indonesian musicians on Wednesday launched a song dedicated to Jakarta gubernatorial candidate pair Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat in an event held at the pair's Rumah Lembang campaign headquarters in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

Through the song titled "Gara-gara Ahok" (It's All Because of Ahok), the musicians aim to show their support for the incumbent pair.

"The song tells people about problems, particularly corruption, that are hampering the city," said Aryono Huboyo Djati, who composed the lyrics for the song.

"Indeed, the lyrics are quite rude. We wanted to make it as simple as possible so that people can easily understand the meaning. We will also make a dangdut song so that it can be accepted by all groups of people, including the grassroots," he added during the launch.

Singer Teuku Adifitrian, popularly known as Tompi, pop band Nidji's vocalist Giring Ganesha, singer-songwriters Lala Karmela and Glenn Fredly as well as musician Etta Herawati, known as Bertha, were also present.

Aryono added that the song was a response to the current situation in Jakarta, where residents were overwhelmed many issues, demonstrations and hoaxes or fake news. Such a situation had occurred because Ahok, who is known for his firmness in eradicating corruption, wanted to run for a second term, he said.

Aryono said he was inspired to write the song after taking part in a massive rally on Nov. 4, in which Muslims demanded the prosecution of Ahok over alleged blasphemy. During the rally, he was hit with a rock. "It was the time I became aware that this was all because of Ahok. It's a satirical song," he said.

Meanwhile, Glenn said he initially refused to be involved in politics because he was a musician. However, he then decided to support the song to have his voice heard.

"Given the current social situation, no matter whether we like it or not, we should lend our voice to combat hoax news and uphold our principle of unity in diversity. I want to support good people like Ahok and Djarot," he said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/25/renowned-musicians-launch-song-in-support-of-ahok.html

No Thousand Islands resident listening took offense: Ahok's cameraman

Jakarta Post - January 24, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Nurkholis Majid, a cameraman who recorded Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's speech in Thousand Islands regency on Sept. 27, has testified that he had only become aware of Ahok's mention of Surah Al Maidah 51 when he saw news regarding the issue.

"I didn't pay attention to his speech because I was focusing on recording the video," Nurkholis told the judges during Tuesday's hearing.

However, Nurkholis said the Thousand Islands residents in attendance had applauded Ahok several times during the speech and none of them had raised any protest.

Nurkholis, who is a temporary worker at the Jakarta Communications, Information and Public Relations Agency, explained that after recording the footage, he submitted the video to his editor, who later uploaded it to the administration's official YouTube account.

Nurkholis was the second eyewitness presented by the prosecutors on Tuesday, after Yuli Hardi, the subdistrict head of Pulau Panggang, Thousand Islands, took the stand in the morning.

Similarly to Nurkholis, Yuli Hardi testified that he had not noticed the part of Ahok's speech that touched on Surah Al Maidah 51.

Besides Yuli Hardi and Nurkholis, the court also heard testimony from Muhammad Asroi Saputra and Iman Sudirman, witnesses who had reported Ahok to the police for blasphemy. Asroi and Iman failed to show up to the hearing on Jan. 17. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/24/no-thousand-islands-resident-listening-took-offense-ahoks-cameraman.html

Ahok reports FPI leaders to police for perjury

Jakarta Post - January 24, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has filed a complaint with the Jakarta Police over alleged perjury implicating Islam Defenders Front leaders Novel Bamukmin and Muchsin Alatas.

Ahok's lawyer, Rolas Sitinjak, said both Novel and Muchsin had given false statements during a recent blasphemy case hearing.

Rolas said Ahok would also report another witness, a Muslim preacher who declares herself a former nun, Irena Handono, for alleged slanderous statements before the court.

"We want the public to come to understand the real facts," Rolas said as quoted by tempo.co on Monday evening. Rolas hoped the Jakarta Police would immediately follow up on Ahok's complaint. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/24/ahok-reports-fpi-leaders-to-police-for-perjury.html

Judges continue with Ahok hearing even though witnesses fail to show up

Jakarta Post - January 24, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The North Jakarta District Court judges presiding over the blasphemy trial of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama decided to continue the defendant's seventh hearing on Tuesday even though three witnesses scheduled to give their testimonies did not yet show up.

The three witnesses, namely Ibnu Baskoro, Iman Sudirman and Muhammad Asroi Saputra, were the men who initially reported the governor to the police for alleged blasphemy. It is the second time the three witnesses have skipped a hearing after failing to testify on Jan. 17.

For Tuesday's hearing, five witnesses, including Yuli Hardi and Nurkholis Majid, who both witnessed Ahok talking to residents of Thousand Islands regency and referencing Surah Al Maidah 51 on Sept. 27, 2016, were also scheduled to give their testimonies. However, only Yuli and Nurkholis appeared at the hearing when the judges started the trial on 9 a.m.

"We want to inform you that we have summoned five witnesses. Four witnesses have confirmed their attendance. Two eyewitnesses are present now," prosecutor Ali Mukartono told the judges.

Presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto said the panel would refer to prevailing laws that stipulate that a trial should be simple, quick and efficient. For that reason, Dwiarso said, he had decided to continue with the hearing despite the absence of three witnesses. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/24/judges-continue-with-ahok-hearing-even-though-witnesses-fail-to-show-up.html

Eyewitness refuses to conclude Ahok committed blasphemy

Jakarta Post - January 24, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Yuli Hardi, a subdistrict head from Panggang Island, Thousand Islands, refused to conclude that Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama had committed blasphemy when he testified during the seventh hearing of the governor's ongoing case on Tuesday.

Yuli, who was summonsed as a prosecution witness for the Tuesday hearing, said he did not have the capacity to make a judgment about Ahok's speech, in which the latter cited Surah Al Maidah 51, during a working visit to Thousand Islands on Sept. 27.

The North Jakarta District Court's panel of judges grilled Yuli on the statement, which was also made in his interrogation report, asking him to give his opinion about Ahok's speech.

"As a mere subordinate, it's impossible for me to say whether [the speech of] my superior [Ahok] was right or wrong," Yuli told judges during the hearing held at the Agriculture Ministry's auditorium in South Jakarta.

Yuli asserted that he had not reported Ahok to the police for blasphemy. He said he was summonsed by prosecutors to testify as a witness at Ahok's hearing because he had once been questioned by the police.

Yuli added that he had not really paid attention to Ahok's speech, including the part where he commented about the Quranic verse.

He became aware of the blasphemy allegations only after watching TV news reports. He later searched for a video of Ahok's speech on the internet and found that the governor had mentioned Surah Al Maidah 51.

Yuli said no Thousand Islands residents had protested when Ahok delivered the speech. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/24/eyewitness-refuses-to-conclude-ahok-committed-blasphemy.html

Prabowo doubts pollsters' impartiality in Jakarta gubernatorial campaign

Jakarta Post - January 23, 2017

Jakarta – Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto has expressed his doubts on results released recently by several pollsters on the Jakarta gubernatorial campaign, saying the pollsters were not impartial.

"It is not surprising to find that released data might vary. The results depend on the one that commissioned the polls," Prabowo said as quoted by Antara news agency in Bogor, West Java, on Sunday. According to Prabowo, the pollsters' results could potentially mislead the public.

"I lost my respect [for pollsters] as their bright minds have been misused to deceive people. They should be open and ensure their polls were truthful," he asserted.

Pollster Populi Center has released the results of its latest survey, stating that Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama beat fellow hopeful Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono in terms of popularity after the first official debate.

Other pollsters, such as the Indonesian Survey Circle and Poltracking, earlier consistently ranked Agus, Ahok and Anies Baswedan in the first, second and third positions, respectively, in their surveys. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/23/prabowo-doubts-pollsters-impartiality-in-jakarta-gubernatorial-campaign.html

Surveys & opinion polls

Conflicting results raise concerns over pollster bias

Jakarta Post - January 26, 2017

Indra Budiari, Jakarta – In the history of elections rarely does survey data conflict wildly when predicting the current frontrunner, but this year's Jakarta gubernatorial contest is an exception.

In only a short period of time various pollsters have announced varying results for the three-horse race that have put all of the candidates in first place, raising concerns that the people behind the surveys are letting their biases show in their work.

In January alone four different pollsters released surveys with different results and every candidate has had polls showing them as the frontrunner.

Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono was named the frontrunner by PT Group Riset Potensial (GRP) and the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI), Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama by Populi and Anies Baswedan by Polmark Indonesia.

Many have expressed worry that the poll results would sway voters toward a particular candidate by portraying him as the most likely winner.

Former presidential candidate and chief Gerindra patron Prabowo Subianto, whose party backs Anies and running mate Sandiaga Uno, recently expressed concern. Prabowo called surveys a "political weapon used by people with money".

Polmark Indonesia owner Eep Saefulloh Fatah told The Jakarta Post recently that a small survey with 400 respondents costs at least Rp 100 million (US$7,489), while one with 880 respondents costs between Rp 150 million and Rp 185 million. The cost could be higher depending on the number of respondents and survey's geographical area.

Besides conducting polls, Polmark Indonesia is a political consultancy firm currently being hired by the Anies' camp to help him win the election.

Polmark is the only pollster that has admitted to double as a consultant for a particular candidate. However, Eep claimed his survey results maintained the integrity of the method. As the only pollster that named Anies in the leading position, he argued that the very close margin between the three candidates and margin of error could explain the different results of his poll.

A series of accusations concerning possible polling bias has not only been faced by Anies and Polmark Indonesia. The Agus and Ahok camps have faced similar issues.

A recent survey released by LSI found Agus to be the most capable candidate to maintain diversity once he got elected and Ahok was the least. In December, LSI also revealed survey results that put Agus in first place with a strong lead over his competitors.

LSI researcher Ardian Sopa responded to questions from the press by saying his institution had no affiliations with the Democratic Party or Agus. "LSI can exist to date because we maintain a good track record and public faith," Ardian told reporters.

Populi Center's objectivity has also been questioned over its survey results that name Ahok the frontrunner, since Ahok's former aide and friend Sunny Tanuwidjaja sits on the institution's advisory council. Populi has also denied bias and claimed that Sunny has never influenced their surveys.

But even it was true, pollster bias is not a "new concept" in the country.

Back in 2014 four pollsters found themselves among a disgraced group of survey institutions following the victory of Joko "Jokowi" Widodo over Prabowo in the presidential election after their quick counts gave the contrary outcome, an incident that called their mathematical models, assumptions and survey method into question.

Pollster associations have been established to minimize such errors and the General Elections Commission (KPU) has prohibited pollsters from taking any sides or bringing advantages to particular candidates.

However, the head of the Jakarta branch of the KPU, Sumarno, said taking firm action against those violating the regulation was not a simple matter. He said the only thing the commission could do after confirming a violation was to report the perpetrators to their associations.

"However, things get complicated if the pollsters are not registered in the KPU and a survey association. We cannot do anything when such things happened," he continued.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/26/conflicting-results-raise-concerns-over-pollster-bias.html

Ahok gets post-debate bump in polls

Jakarta Post - January 26, 2017

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama appears to be recovering in the race for the top job at City Hall, with a pollster suggesting that this is due to his performance in the latest debate and a pragmatic stance by voters amid blasphemy allegations leveled at the incumbent.

A public opinion poll by Indikator Politik Indonesia released on Wednesday finds support for Ahok and his running mate, Djarot Saiful Hidayat, surging to 38.2 percent in January. The two other candidate pairs, Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno and Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono-Sylviana Murni, won support from 23.8 percent and 23.6 percent of likely voters, respectively.

Some 14.5 percent of the 697 survey respondents from Jakarta's five municipalities, excluding the Thousand Islands regency, were not willing to reveal their voting preference, the poll reveals. The survey has a 3.8 percent margin of error.

The latest poll indicates a 12-percentage point gain in support for Ahok since November, when the National Police named him a suspect of blasphemy following comments he had made on the Quranic verse Al-Maidah 51.

"Seeing the latest results, it appears Ahok could secure his position to enter the second round of the election, though he will not easily win the race in the normal time," Indikator executive director Burhanuddin Muhtadi told a press briefing Wednesday.

The 2007 Special Region of Jakarta Law stipulates that any gubernatorial candidate has to secure more than 50 percent of the votes to win the election in the first round.

The poll suggests that support for Ahok, who attended the seventh hearing in his blasphemy trial on Tuesday, has risen partly due to a change in public perception regarding his allegedly blasphemous comments, for which the candidate has previously apologized, and his performance in a televised debate organized by the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) on Jan. 13.

The poll finds that 61 percent of respondents feel that Ahok's apology was "sincere, so it has to be accepted", while it also reveals that only 47 percent of respondents still believe Ahok defamed Islam with his remarks, compared to 62 percent who thought so in November.

The survey, meanwhile, finds that 47 percent of respondents claim the Ahok-Djarot ticket, which is backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party Of Struggle (PDI-P), had a much better grasp on the issues touched on in the debate, which revolved around the economy and social welfare.

Responding to the survey results, Mardani Ali Sera, a spokesman for the Anies-Sandiaga ticket, said the most important aspect of the poll was that his camp's candidate team now came second.

Indikator's November survey had placed the Anies-Sandiaga ticket, which is backed by the Gerindra Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), in third position. However, the percentage of public support for the pair slightly decreased from 24.5 percent to 23.8 percent.

Mardani, a PKS politician, said: "We believe that the party machine, especially in the PKS, could gather support for Anies and Sandiaga. Also, we do not know what will happen in the next two weeks [before the election]."

The poll suggests that only 23.6 percent of respondents now favor the Agus-Sylviana ticket, which was the frontrunner of the race in November.

"Agus seems to have failed to explain his core campaign promises in the [first] debate, causing the public to become more skeptical about his ability to deliver on them," Burhanuddin said.

Burhanuddin was referring to Agus' cash assistance plan to inject Rp 1 billion into community units (RW) in Jakarta per year, with 64 percent of poll respondents unsure the scheme would fare well if Agus was elected governor.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/26/ahok-gets-post-debate-bump-in-polls.html

Ahok perceived least likely to benefit pluralism: Survey

Jakarta Post - January 25, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama is considered the least likely among the three Jakarta gubernatorial candidates to benefit pluralism in the capital after being implicated in a blasphemy case, a new survey revealed on Tuesday.

The Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) showed in its survey that, among the three pairs of candidates, Ahok ranked the lowest in terms of voter trust with regard to preserving pluralism in Jakarta, which is often perceived as the champion of the nation's diversity.

Of the 880 survey respondents, only 15.2 percent said Ahok could maintain pluralism in Jakarta. Meanwhile, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono ranked first and Anies Baswedan second with 30.5 and 24.5 percent, respectively.

"Whereas, 96.1 percent of respondents consider maintaining pluralism in Jakarta as important," LSI researcher Adrian Sopa said during the release of the survey, which was held from Jan. 5 to 11.

Adrian said the blasphemy case implicating Ahok had affected voters' trust in the governor to maintain pluralism in the city. "Ahok, who is now a defendant [in a blasphemy case] is seen as part of part of the problem rather than solution," Adrian said.

Ahok ranked the lowest because he was considered to have the least empathy toward the religions followed by the people, Adrian said. Meanwhile, Agus had the highest ranking because he was considered to represent the moderate and nationalist-religious camp of voters.

Anies, who ranked second in the survey, was considered as committed as Agus with regard to religion, but his ranking was affected by a smear campaign that claimed he was a Shiite and portrayed him as a liberal Muslim. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/25/ahok-perceived-least-likely-to-benefit-pluralism-survey.html

Ahok-Djarot back on top in latest approval rating survey

Jakarta Globe - January 23, 2017

Jakarta – Incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat are currently leading in approval ratings ahead of next month's Jakarta gubernatorial election, the latest survey by the Populi Center showed on Sunday (22/01).

The survey places Ahok and Djarot at the top with an approval rating of 36.7 percent, followed by Anies Baswedan and running mate Sandiaga Uno at 28.5 percent.

Candidate pair Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and Sylviana Murni ranked last with a rating of 25 percent, which is a significant decline from the 32.2 percent they achieved in a previous survey in December.

The survey of 600 respondents also saw an increase in the number of undecided voters to 9.8 percent currently, from 8.5 percent in December, following the first gubernatorial debate.

"The increase in undecided voters after the debate is a positive sign, as voters seem to become more realistic, adopting a wait-and-see approach to gauge the performance of all candidates in the upcoming debates [before making a decision]," the Populi Center said in a statement.

Respondents also ranked the top-five problems they believe candidates should address. These were traffic congestion (26.7 percent), the cost of staple foods (20.5 percent), the unemployment rate (15 percent), education (7.8 percent) and health (7.5 percent).

Public satisfaction with the Jakarta administration has also dropped significantly to 68.3 percent from 72.5 percent in December under the leadership of the acting governor, Sumarsono.

The survey used multistage random sampling with a margin of error of approximately 4 percent.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/ahok-djarot-back-on-top-in-latest-approval-rating-survey/

Lgbt & same-sex Marriage

Indonesian police, anti-LGBT Islamists restart sinister collaboration

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - January 23, 2017

Kyle Knight – Indonesian police are once again helping carry out the anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) agenda of militant Islamists.

Last week, police in South Sulawesi province canceled a public sports and cultural event involving transgender people after the Islamic Congregation Forum, a militant Islamist organization, complained the event violated "religious values." Police added insult to injury by temporarily detaining 600 transgender and bissu (a gender-neutral identity in South Sulawesi's Bugis tradition) people hours before the three-day event was scheduled to begin.

This is the latest incident in which Indonesian police have openly collaborated with militant Islamists to unlawfully disrupt LGBT-related events and harass and intimidate LGBT people who attend them.

In November, the Islamic Defenders Front (or FPI), a militant group with a well-earned reputation for harassment and violence against minorities, led police to raid a gathering of men for a so-called "sex party." In January 2016, the FPI brought police to a hotel in Jakarta and urged them to shut down a training session about access to justice for LGBT people.

Homosexuality has never been illegal in Indonesia, though petitioners to the Constitutional Court are trying to change that. Tolerance of diversity has long been a government catchphrase – but one repeatedly unmet. Militant Islamist groups have a history of physical assaults on vulnerable minorities with the explicit or implicit blessing of high-ranking officials – crimes that go unpunished.

Ultra-nationalistic fervor opens space for attacks on minorities as a way of gaining popular attention; weak political leadership in Indonesia has failed repeatedly to put a lid on it. Close ties between militant Islamist groups and law enforcement continue to create an environment of widespread social sanction and impunity from prosecution for attacks on minorities.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo should deliver on his stated commitment to defend the rights of LGBT people by making it clear to the Indonesian police they are obligated to protect the rights of all Indonesians, including the country's LGBT population, rather than conspire with their oppressors.

[Kyle Knight is a Researcher with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program.]

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/23/indonesian-police-anti-lgbt-islamists-restart-sinister-collaboration

Graft & corruption

Whistleblowers report corruption of village fund

Jakarta Globe - January 29, 2017

Jakarta – National antigraft agency KPK said on Sunday (29/01) it will investigate at least 79 reports of corruption and irregularity related to the use of the government's Village Fund.

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) spokesman Febri Diansyah said the agency has so far received 362 reports of corruption – filed using its own whistleblower system – related to the spending of the fund.

"We have reasons enough to follow up at least 87 of these reports," Febri said in Jakarta.

In 2016, the government spent Rp 47 trillion to build villages around the country in a move to boost infrastructure development and local economy, as ordered by the Village Fund Law which was passed by the House of Representatives in 2014.

This year the government allocated Rp 60 trillion ($4.5 billion) for the fund with each village slated to receive around Rp 800 million.

KPK has called on the public to help it monitor the use of the fund to avoid corruption and keep its effectiveness in boosting local economy. "We received many reports [of corruption and irregularities] after we asked the public to keep an eye on how their village funds are spent," Febri said.

However, the KPK did not mention which province has lodged the most number of corruption reports. Febri said the KPK may start official investigation into the reports if the evidence warrants it.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/whistleblowers-report-corruption-village-fund/

Court dismisses justice, establishes disciplinary council following bribery case

Jakarta Post - January 28, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – The Constitutional Court has decided to establish a disciplinary council to probe alleged ethics violations by justice Patrialis Akbar, who was recently named a bribery suspect.

Court chief justice Arief Hidayat said the decision was based on a recommendation by the court's ethics council.

"After a justices' meeting, we accept the council's recommendation to establish Constitutional Court disciplinary council," Arief announced at a press briefing at his office on Friday, adding that it had also been decided at the meeting to dismiss Patrialis as a judge at the court.

Arief added that the disciplinary council would comprise five individuals, namely court justice Anwar Usman, former court justice Achmad Sodiki, law expert Bagir Manan, former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy chief As'ad Said Ali and a Judicial Commission representative.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested Patrialis, who was law and human rights minister during the president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration, and 10 other people on Wednesday in several places in Jakarta in a sting operation.

On Thursday, the KPK named Patrialis, a former member of the House of Representatives from the National Mandate Party, and three other people suspects.

Patrialis has been accused of accepting USS$200,000 from businessman Basuki Hariman in connection with a judicial review of Law no. 41/2014 on cattle and animal health by the court. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/28/court-dismisses-justice-establishes-disciplinary-council-following-bribery-case.html

Beef importer Basuki reportedly confesses to bribing Constitutional Court aide

Jakarta Post - January 27, 2017

Jakarta – Beef importer Basuki Hariman has reportedly confessed to giving US$20,000 and S$200,000 to an aide of Constitutional Court justice Patrialis Akbar, identified as Kamaludin.

"[Kamaludin] is a friend of mine who is also close friend of Pak Patrialis. I gave him money, since he is close to Pak Patrialis," Basuki was quoted by Antara as saying after undergoing questioning at the Corruption Eradication Commission office in Jakarta on Thursday.

The KPK has named Patrialis a suspect in a bribery case linked to a judicial review of Law No. 41/2014 on farming and animal husbandry. Patrialis is suspected of accepting a bribe from Basuki, the president director of PT Impexindo Pratama and Sumber Laut Perkasa, through Kamaludin.

"He [Kamaludin] said the money would be used for umroh [minor haj], but I believe the money was for his own personal use," Hariman added.

Kamaludin reportedly promised to help Basuki win the judicial review filed by an association of local cattle farmers that demanded a review of the law, which it claims favors importers.

Basuki said he and Patrialis had played golf several times and had met twice for lunch, but Patrialis never mentioned money. "It was Kamaludin who asked for the money." (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/27/beef-importer-basuki-reportedly-confesses-to-bribing-constitutional-court-aide.html

KPK names MK justice Patrialis Akbar suspect in bribery case

Jakarta Post - January 27, 2017

Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) declared on Thursday Constitutional Court (MK) justice Patrialis Akbar and three others suspects in a bribery case.

KPK deputy chairperson Basaria Panjaitan said Patrialis had allegedly received bribes of US$20,000 and S$200,000 from the three suspects who are businessmen from a beef importing company.

"The company hoped Pak (Patrialis) could sway a judicial review of a law on husbandry that is being reviewed by the court in favor of the company," Basaria said in a press conference at the KPK building in South Jakarta.

She said the four suspects were arrested along with seven other people in several places in Jakarta on Wednesday.

She added that Patrialis, who served as law and human rights minister under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), was nabbed at Grand Indonesia shopping mall in Central Jakarta. "The status of the seven people is still that of witnesses so far," she added. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/27/KPK-names-mk-justice-patrialis-akbar-suspect-in-bribery-case.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

House asked to open up closed-door discussion on terrorism bill

Jakarta Post - January 24, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Civil society organizations are protesting the ongoing closed-door deliberation of a bill on terrorism, demanding for a transparent discussion in order to allow the public to be involved in monitoring the bill that aims to comprehensively regulate counter terrorism efforts in the country.

The legal think tank the Institute for Criminal Justice (ICJR) has questioned the reasons for the House of Representatives to close off the deliberation process from public, arguing that the "ongoing inaccessible discussion violates the right to information, especially when it is related to a policy that will impact on the life of many."

ICJR executive director Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono cited the problem of the fate of victims of terror attacks as one of the crucial issues that the group had been monitoring.

"But a closed-door discussion will lock out victims as well as rights campaigners from ensuring that the bill will accommodate the rights of those who suffer from terror attacks," he said on Tuesday.

A special working committee tasked with discussing the contours of the bill resumed discussion on Jan. 10 and Jan. 13 after a month of recess in December last year.

Both meetings were restricted from the public, a decision that also raised protest from other civil society groups that focus on security sector reform such as Imparsial, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy and the Setara Institute. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/24/house-asked-to-open-up-closed-door-discussion-on-terrorism-bill.html

Hard-line & vigilante groups

Woman in alleged steamy Whatsapp conversation with Rizieq arrested

Jakarta Post - January 31, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta Police have reportedly arrested Firza Husein, a treason suspect whose screen grabs of intimate WhatsApp conversations that allegedly took place between her and Islam Defenders Front leader Rizieq Shihab went viral on Monday.

Firza's sister, Fifi Husein, confirmed that Firza had been arrested at her residence in Lubang Buaya, East Jakarta.

"Police officers also searched the house," Fifi was quoted as saying by tribunnews.com on Tuesday, adding that police investigators possessed an arrest warrant for Firza over treason allegations.

Firza was also arrested for alleged treason along with 10 activists on Dec. 2, 2016, several hours before the start of a large-scale rally to demand the arrest of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in a blasphemy case. She was later released.

On Monday, a webpage sharing explicit photos of a woman who resembled Firza went viral on social media. On the same day, Rizieq was named a suspect for allegedly insulting state ideology Pancasila. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/31/woman-in-alleged-steamy-whatsapp-conversation-with-rizieq-arrested.html

Most Muslims think FPI is not defending Islam: Survey

Jakarta Globe - January 31, 2017

Jakarta – A survey published by an organization called Alvara Strategi Indonesia has claimed most Muslims in the country do not think that hardline groups FPI, or the Islamic Defenders Front, and HTI, or Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, are acting in their interests or in the best interest of Islam.

The agency's chief executive, Hasanuddin Ali, said Alvara conducted the survey between late November and early December last year on 1,626 respondents between the age of 17 and 65 years old.

Speaking at the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) office in Central Jakarta on Monday (30/01), Hasanuddin said the results show how Indonesian Muslims perceive diversity in the country.

22.4 percent of the respondents in the survey agreed that FPI could be considered as a "hardline" organization. 9.5 percent said the same thing about HTI. "17 percent of our respondents think FPI loves protest rallies, 4.8 percent think HTI also loves to protest," Hasanuddin said.

The survey also showed that only 17.8 percent of respondents think FPI is defending Islam.

"The respondents also think of FPI as an "agent provocateur" since it often conducts illegal raids. Meanwhile, only 4.8 percent of respondents think HTI reflects the Koran in its teachings," Hasanuddin added.

"Unlike [moderate] NU or Muhammadiyah, FPI and HTI are seen as supporters of the Islamic sharia law since their teachings are very rigid," he said.

The survey used a multistage random sampling method with a margin of error of approximately 2.47 percent.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/muslims-think-fpi-not-defending-islam-survey/

Indonesia police investigate cleric over alleged online sex chats

Straits Times - January 31, 2017

Arlina Arshad, Jakarta – A day after firebrand cleric Habib Rizieq Shihab was named a suspect for allegedly insulting the state ideology and founding president Sukarno, Indonesian police are now investigating fresh allegations over online sex chats involving him.

Police have received a report from a group of students about a series of photos and videos featuring intimate exchanges purportedly between the chairman of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and a woman named Firza Husein, Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told The Straits Times on Tuesday (Jan 31).

The screengrabs of the sexually explicit WhatsApp conversations allegedly between them and nude photographs of a woman resembling Firza, which first emerged on Sunday (Jan 29), have since gone viral on social media.

"Investigators are now examining the content and materials of the people featured and will question them later. But the experts will first have to prove whether the materials and exchanges are fake or real," Senior Commissioner Argo said by phone.

Those involved – whether as a participant in the production of the materials or the disseminator of the content – could be charged with violating the country's anti-pornography as well as Information and Electronic Transactions laws, he added.

Mr Rizieq has led the FPI in three street rallies between October and December last year to protest against Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, for allegedly insulting Islam.

On Monday (Jan 31), the West Java police named Mr Rizieq a suspect for defaming both the Pancasila, the national ideology which promotes diversity and democracy, and Mr Sukarno. The case is centred around a two-minute long video showing the 51-year-old telling an audience that Mr Sukarno had written an earlier version of Pancasila that did not prioritise belief in God.

There had been other reports lodged to the police against him, including one filed by a local Catholic group, which has accused him of making blasphemous comments about Jesus Christ.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesia-police-investigate-cleric-over-alleged-online-sex-chats

Tables turn on Indonesian hardline leader

Australian Associated Press - January 31, 2017

When Australian academic Dr Ian Wilson first met hardline preacher Rizieq Shahib, the Indonesian was helping clear away bodies in the aftermath of the devastating 2004 Aceh tsunami.

"(Rizieq and his followers) were camped out in the cemetery in Banda, Aceh and spent a lot of times collecting bodies and giving people proper religious burials. A lot of people recognised that."

Fast forward more than a decade and Rizieq – the leader of the hardline group the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) – is dominating headlines as a symbol of the division within Indonesia.

For some who fear the direction pluralism, liberalism and consumerism is taking the country, he represents a force of good. For others he epitomes of an aspect of Indonesia that is backward and stifling.

Seen riding atop a truck, megaphone in hand, Rizieq led hundreds of thousands of people in two large-scale demonstrations in Indonesia's capital – on November 4 and December 2, last year – calling for the jailing of its Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama over comments he made referring to the Koran.

Mr Purnama, also known as Ahok, now stands trial for alleged blasphemy as the capital gets ready to go to the polls in February.

But Rizieq's has now become ensnared in a political storm of his own when on Monday he was named a suspect for defamation by West Java Police over comments he made referring to the country's founding principles – Pancasila and its first president Sukarno. He also faces a raft of other investigations.

Rizieq, also known as Habib Rizieq, created the FPI during the death throes of the second Indonesian President Suharto's time in power in 1998. Their stated mission: to see the introduction of Shariah law across Indonesia.

Initially harnessed by the establishment as a street-level militia, the FPI have since been wielded by political powerbrokers to increase pressure during election times. They are also infamous for attacking religious minorities, raiding LGBTI gatherings and banning a Lady Gaga concert.

Rizieq, meanwhile, has been jailed before – serving seven months in 2003 for inciting hatred and sentenced to one-and-a-half years in 2008 for an assault on a peaceful rally for religious freedom.

Despite a growing backlash from moderate Indonesians, he retains a band of loyal supporters.

Against a political backdrop where "everyone is seen as corrupt", Dr Wilson, lecturer in Politics and Security, Terrorism and Count-terrorism Studies at Murdoch University, says Rizieq is viewed by his supporters as a "figure of credibility".

"He has always maintained a fairly simple standard of living in relative terms and people think he is genuinely committed to defending the faith."

Just how sending his followers' hero to court and potentially jail, will play out is unclear.

It's a Catch-22, as police can't be seen to go after Ahok but not Rizieq, Dr Wilson adds. "(However) if they take him to court, that will give him a platform to voice his views."

Dr Ngatawi al-Zastrouw, from one of Indonesia's largest Islamic organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), however, is confident the legal process is the right way to go. "(It will) educate Muslim people in Indonesia to respect legal process, that law can be uphold for everyone."

He thinks FPI's importance in Indonesia is ending. "In certain political situation, when the political tension has eased, and the situation has cooled down, then the political issue like FPI will disappear."

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/01/31/tables-turn-indonesian-hardline-leader

Indonesia police vow to block 'political' rally led by Islamists

Reuters - January 31, 2017

Tom Allard and Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Jakarta – Indonesian police will block a rally in Jakarta next month led by the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) if the group intends to make it political just days before an election for city governor that has raised religious tension.

The FPI has led two rallies over the past year targeting the ethnic Chinese, Christian Jakarta governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, which drew hundreds of thousands of Muslims calling for his jailing over allegations he insulted the Koran.

The FPI leader, Habib Rizieq, was on Monday declared a suspect over allegations he insulted Indonesia's state ideology, Pancasila, which enshrines religious diversity in an officially secular system.

Jakarta police chief Mochamad Iriawan told Reuters in an interview on Monday the FPI's plan for another rally on Feb. 11, four days before the Jakarta elections, indicated it would be political in nature, and if so, it would not be allowed.

"The end of the campaign period should not be disrupted by the planned protest," Iriawan said. "If the context is as they said on social media – 'we should vote for a Muslim person as our leader' – it looks like a political campaign."

The rallies late last year raised concerns among investors that Islamist militancy and mob rule were taking hold in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, the majority of whom follow a moderate form of Islam. The naming of Rizieq as a suspect comes amid signs that authorities are taking a firmer stance to contain the rise of the FPI and other Islamist groups.

'Big mess'

Purnama, who is known as Ahok and is an ally of President Joko Widodo, is contesting the Feb. 15 election against two Muslim candidates. He was named a blasphemy suspect on Nov. 16, days after the first big FPI rally, and is on trial. He denies the charge.

Iriawan said the FPI had yet to apply for a permit for its rally, and the group would only be allowed to proceed if "they just hold a prayer".

Rizieq also faces investigations into alleged blasphemy and hate speech, including remarks by him that communist symbols had been hidden in new Indonesian bank notes and comments mocking the notion that Jesus was the son of God.

FPI spokesman Slamet Maarif said the group's supporters would defend Rizieq "until the last drop of our blood".

There has been a increase in blasphemy complaints filed to police since the accusation was levelled against Purnama in October.

Tobias Basuki, a political analyst at the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said Indonesia's laws criminalising slights against religion and the national ideology of Pancasila were being abused.

"These blasphemy laws are being used against pretty well anyone for anything," he said. "Frankly, they are just politically motivated plays but they are creating a big mess for Indonesia."

"These are just concepts and we are repressing the potential for healthy debate. Meanwhile, very little is done to stop actual hate speech which threatens lives." (Editing by Ed Davies)

Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/indonesia-politics-police-idINKBN15F0K0?rpc=401&

Police should be commended for professional handling of Habib Rizieq: Rights

Jakarta Globe - January 31, 2017

Jakarta – Hendardi, the chairman of Jakarta-based human rights group Setara Institute, said on Tuesday (31/01) the police have been thoroughly professional in their handling of firebrand cleric Habib Rizieq Shihab after charging him with insulting Indonesia's official state ideology Pancasila.

Rizieq, the leader of hardline Muslim group Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, reportedly made the insult during a speech in 2011 when he said "[former President] Sukarno's [version of] Pancasila puts God on his bottom."

"Everyone should be treated equally before the law," Hendardi said in a statement.

Being named a suspect is part of the regular procedure in a criminal investigation and Hendardi pleaded to Rizieq's supporters not to overreact to the news. Nevertheless, some of them have complained that the police have been treating the cleric like an animal.

"Police investigators have been very professional and provide clear and strong evidence. Let's just let the law do its job now," Hendardi said.

Rizieq was charged by the West Java Police following a report from Sukmawati Sukarnoputri, one of Sukarno's daughters, on Oct. 27 last year.

Rizieq was also accused of having defamed Sukarno and mocking a decision by the country's secular and religious leaders to drop the so-called Jakarta Charter, which before Indonesia's independence sought to include in Pancasila an obligation for Muslims to follow Islamic law.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-commended-professional-handling-habib-rizieq-rights-group/

Indonesia police accuse Muslim hardliner of defaming founding president Sukarno

Agence France Presse - January 31, 2017

Indonesian police have named a controversial Islamist leader who helped organise protests against Jakarta's Christian governor as a suspect in a defamation case, as authorities move to rein in the influence of hardliners.

Rizieq Shihab, the head of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), was accused on Monday of defamation over comments he made about Indonesia's founding president, Sukarno, and the state ideology.

Analysts said the move was aimed at silencing a hardline fringe which they warn has grown influential by leading opposition to Jakarta's governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, over allegations he insulted the Qur'an.

Purnama is standing trial for blasphemy over the comments, in a case that has raised concerns about religious intolerance in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

Announcing the move against the FPI leader, West Java provincial police spokesman Yusri Yunus said: "We have enough evidence, and we have named Rizieq Shihab a suspect."

Naming someone a suspect is a step in the Indonesian legal system which means authorities believe they have enough evidence to consider filing charges. Shihab, who is not being held in custody, could face a maximum jail term of four years and nine months if found guilty.

Sukarno led the struggle for independence and was Indonesia's first president from 1945, while the state ideology, Pancasila, are the five founding principles of the country, including belief in one God, and the unity of Indonesia.

The defamation allegedly took place during a speech by Shihab in West Java province. Police did not detail exactly what was said.

The FPI, which helped organise a series of mass protests against Purnama, was long regarded as marginal and not taken seriously but the recent demonstrations have catapulted it to national prominence.

Shihab has been subject to numerous attacks and investigations in recent weeks as forces opposed to the FPI move to silence them. Tobias Basuki, an analyst from Jakarta think-tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said the moves against the FPI were "to silence the radicals".

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/31/indonesia-police-accuse-muslim-hardliner-of-defaming-founding-president-sukarno

S. Jakarta police release bearer of desecrated Indonesian flag

Jakarta Globe - January 24, 2017

Jakarta – South Jakarta Police have decided to release Nurul Fahmi, the man believed to have carried a desecrated Indonesian flag during a rally by the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, last week.

National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono said Nurul, who was named a suspect in the case, was vouched for by a cleric.

"We have received Ustadz Arifin Ilham and Nurul's family to discuss the conditions of his release," Awi said on Tuesday (24/01). He added that Nurul's wife has just given birth and needed her husband's support.

Meanwhile, Arifin said he had agreed to become the man's voucher and believed that Nurul's act was unintentional.

"Our brother has committed the mistake unintentionally, due to lack of information; his wife has just given birth. I was moved, so I went to Mr. Tito [National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian] to plea for this man's release, and thank God it was granted," Arifin said.

According to Arifin, Nurul had no intention to provoke anyone. "I hope he [Nurul] will return to the Koran and family, continue his studies, take an important lesson from this incident, be closer to God and love Indonesia more," Arifin added.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/s-jakarta-police-release-bearer-desecrated-indonesian-flag/

Disbandment of mass organizations may undermine democracy: Expert

Jakarta Post - January 24, 2017

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – Political experts have claimed that growing public pressure for the government to disband violent mass organizations, in particular the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), could undermine Indonesia's democracy.

"If it commits violence, just bring the members involved in the crime to justice, not immediately disband it," Airlangga Pribadi Kusman, an Islam and political expert from Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java, told The Jakarta Post.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a discussion held by the Maarif Institute by the Muhammadiyah central executive board in Yogyakarta recently.

Airlangga said if the government disbanded the FPI simply because of civil society pressure, there would be no basic argument to use against demands for the disbandment of any civil society organization.

"It could happen at any time that a civil society organization is disbanded because its members are branded communists," he said.

Airlangga further explained the emergence of extreme mass organizations in Indonesian politics was because they were used by political elites who had an opposing stance to that of the ruling power.

The elites used issues that could ignite ethnic, religious, racial and societal group (SARA) sentiments because they were easy to use to mobilize people who were disappointed with social injustices to fight against the ruling groups.

"The opposing elites do not use social injustice issues because they themselves do not have solutions to tackle the problems," said Airlangga. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/24/disbandment-of-mass-organizations-may-undermine-democracy-expert.html

North Sulawesi students press government to dissolve radical groups

Jakarta Post - January 23, 2017

Eva Aruperes, Manado – Hundreds of Muslim students in North Sulawesi staged a rally on Monday following a wave of demonstrations nationwide pressing the government to dissolve violent radical mass organizations.

The North Sulawesi Muslim Students Front marched to the North Sulawesi Religious Ministry Office and the governor's office in Manado.

"We demand the Religious Affairs Ministry to not tolerate radical organizations, including the Islam Defenders Front [FPI]," stated Vanni Datukramat, one of the students, saying that the FPI did not reflect Islamic values. "They only use Islam for their own interests," he added.

"The North Sulawesi administration should be able to refuse the FPI [if they come to the province]," said Vanni, who is also a member of the Indonesian Muslim Students Movement.

Another student, Rahmat Makalalag, read out the student's petition on supporting the police thoroughly investigating FPI leader Rizieq Shihab, who is facing more than a dozen police investigations over his alleged insults against the state's symbols and ideology, as well as against other religion.

"The police should not be afraid when facing threats from radical groups. We support the investigations against Rizieq Shihab," he said.

The head of the North Sulawesi Public Order Agency, Edyson Humiang, said the student's petition was in line with the administration's stance to clear the province of radical organizations. "Together we will prevent the presence of radical organizations," he said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/23/north-sulawesi-students-press-government-to-dissolve-radical-groups.html

FPI leader calls for withdrawal of banknotes with 'communist symbol'

Jakarta Post - January 23, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab has called on the government to pull from circulation the newly-issued Indonesian rupiah banknotes, which he claims have an image that resembles the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party's (PKI) hammer and sickle logo.

Rizieq attended on Monday the Jakarta Police's summons for questioning on his statement, during which he brought several new rupiah banknotes, from Rp 1,000 to Rp 100,000 bills, and showed them to investigators to prove his claims.

Rizieq said the banknotes' rectoverso image, which according to Bank Indonesia (BI) functions as an anti-counterfeit feature, resembled the PKI logo.

"We ask the government to explain to us why, from thousands of rectoverso images they could have used, they chose the one that looks like a hammer and sickle logo. This is dangerous," Rizieq told reporters after the questioning.

"We ask the government to retract all new banknotes, from the Rp 1,000 to Rp 100,000 bills, because they can all give the perception that there is a hammer and sickle logo on our banknotes," said the firebrand preacher, who had to answer 23 questions from the police regarding his statement.

In an earlier statement, BI brushed off Rizieq's claim, saying that the rectoverso image on the bills was actually the central bank's logo printed in such a way to protect the money from counterfeiting.

Mass organization Jaringan Intelektual Muda Anti-Fitnah (Young Intellectuals Anti-Slander Network, or Jimaf) reported Rizieq to the police, in which they said the FPI leader's statement constituted hate speech because his claim was baseless and could provoke public unrest.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono said Rizieq's status was still that of a witness. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/23/fpi-leader-calls-for-withdrawal-of-banknotes-with-communist-symbol.html

Mass organizations in Bali say no to FPI

Jakarta Globe - January 23, 2017

Denpasar – A number mass organizations in Bali gathered for the "Diversity of Republic of Indonesia" rally at the Niti Praja Lumintang square in Denpasar, Bali, on Sunday morning (22/01) to demand the disbandment of hardline Muslim group Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI.

Amron, the coordinator of the Bali Ansor Youth Movement – one of Indonesia's biggest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama's youth groups – said the rally was held to promote harmony and tolerance between followers of different religious in Bali, known as the Island of the Gods.

The rally also called for the disbandment of the FPI, which Amron said had spread fake news about illegal raids allegedly conducted by Bali's traditional civic guard, known locally as pecalang.

FPI spokesman Munarman had claimed last year that pecalang had been used in Bali to attack the homes of Muslims and prevent them from conducting Friday prayers.

Amron denied Munarman's accusation and said that on the contrary pecalang are always on hand to help out Muslims and Christians celebrate Idul Fitri and Christmas.

"We strongly reject FPI's baseless accusations. Please, don't use religion to divide our people. Let's unite for a peaceful Indonesia," another rally coordinator Komang Mertayasa said, as reported by state news agency Antara.

Komang said FPI is a serious threat to the country's spirit of unity in diversity, or Bhinneka Tunggal Ika.

The Bali Police's cybercrime unit is currently handling a defamation charge filed by several mass organizations in Bali. Munarman's questioning is set to be completed by Jan. 25.

FPI has failed to gain a stronghold in Bali in over a decade, with residents in the Hindu-majority island often complaining about their disruptive activities.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/mass-organizations-bali-say-no-fpi/

FPI blocks Jakarta's Sudirman street to protest against Rizieq's questioning

Jakarta Globe - January 23, 2017

Jakarta – Hundreds of members of the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, marched on Central Jakarta's Jalan Jenderal Sudirman to protest against the questioning of their leader, Rizieq Shihab, by the Jakarta Police on Monday morning (23/01).

The protesters marched from Al Azhar Mosque on Jalan Sisimangaraja in South Jakarta to the Jakarta Police headquarters on Jalan Jenderal Sudirman at 9 a.m.

The traffic from Semanggi Interchange heading to the Pemuda Membangun monument in Senayan area was partly diverted during the protest. The connecting roads from SCBD to Jalan Jenderal Sudirman were closed.

Rizieq was scheduled to attend the questioning at 10 a.m., as a witness in an investigation regarding his claim that newly released Indonesian banknotes feature the hammer-and-sickle symbol that resembles the logo of the long-disbanded and prohibited Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

"We want to examine him with regard to his speech that appeared on YouTube, to see what his intent was," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono said.

He added that police investigators have already questioned several witnesses in the case, including representatives of the central bank and information and technology experts.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/fpi-members-march-on-jakartas-sudirman-street-to-protest-rizieqs-questioning/

Female police officers in hijab guard FPI protest

Jakarta Globe - January 23, 2017

Jakarta – Police deployed female officers clad in hijab, the Muslim head covering, to guard a protest by hardline group Islamic Defenders Front on Monday (23/01) in front of the Jakarta Police headquarters on Jalan Trunojoyo, South Jakarta.

FPI leader Rizieq Shihab was today interrogated by the police as a witness in an investigation into his claim that the newly released Indonesian banknotes feature a hammer-and-sickle symbol that resembles the logo of the long-disbanded and still-banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

"We've got 108 of our female officers, all in hijab, here at the protest today," Second Inspector Widya Arieyanti said during the demonstration.

During one of the speeches at the protest, a speaker made catcalls at the female police officers. "The young [female] officers can be our wives, the older ones can be our mothers in law," the man said.

The officers, who heard his words loud and clear, stood immobile at their post and smiled a wry smile. By mid-afternoon, the protest had passed by without an incident.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/female-police-officers-hijab-guard-fpi-protest/

Government should punish violent groups while also preserving democracy: Expert

Jakarta Post - January 23, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The government has been urged to strictly enforce the law when dealing with members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and other violent mass organizations instead of merely suspending them, an act that could be considered anti-democratic.

Sociologist Vedi R. Hadiz from the University of Melbourne told a discussion in Jakarta on Monday that the growing intolerance pushed by groups such as the FPI was the result of years of omission by the state.

"Intolerant groups can continue to engage in their violent actions because there are part of a State that preserves them. Do we see any of these groups that attack minority groups such as the Ahmadiyah, for example, take accountability for their actions?" Vedi asked.

Vedi encouraged law enforcers to punish any organization that disrupted peace and the public. However, Vedi also argued that "dissolving intolerant groups is anti-democracy."

Discussions on how to best discipline violent mass organizations have arisen once again after the FPI attracted public attention for mobilizing mass demonstrations calling for the imprisonment of incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian and a Chinese-Indonesian, for alleged blasphemy.

To crack down on the amplifying violence that is spreading across Indonesia, the government is planning to revise the prevailing Law No. 17/2013 on mass organizations to expand the definition of anti-Pancasila in order to include more categories of groups that can be banned from operating in the country.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/23/government-should-punish-violent-groups-while-also-preserving-democracy-expert.html

Freedom of religion & worship

Bandung issues 300 permits for non-Muslim houses of worship in past five years:

Jakarta Globe - January 30, 2017

Jakarta – Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil said his administration has issued more than 300 permits for non-Muslim houses of worship in the past five years to promote unity in diversity, one of the country's mottos known by its Sanskrit-derived formulation "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika."

Speaking after being named as one of a number of "pro-pluralism figures" in Indonesia by the Greater Bandung Christian Youth, Ridwan said the city has done its best to allow minority groups to build their houses of worships.

He claimed the Bandung administration had issued around 60 permits for this type of establishment every year in the past five years. "I believe the majority of people in Bandung are tolerant," Ridwan said on Sunday (29/01). Ridwan has served as mayor in the West Java capital since 2013.

Building non-Muslim houses of worship had become a convoluted process since 2006 when former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pushed for the issuance of a joint decree between the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Home Affairs Ministry regulating the opening of such establishment.

The decree includes a number of complicated requirements to build non-Muslim houses of worship, including approvals from at least 90 neighborhoods in the area. The joint decree also discriminated against minority Ahmadi worshipers, who had since been driven out of many cities.

Despite having issued the permits, Bandung is still considered as one of the most intolerant cities in Indonesia. In November 2015, human rights think-thank group Setara Institute had named Bandung in its top five list of the most intolerant cities in Indonesia along with Bogor, Bekasi, Tangerang and Depok.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/bandung-issues-300-permits-non-muslim-houses-worship-past-five-years-mayor/

Muslims take part in organizing Catholic mass in East Nusa Tenggara

Jakarta Post - January 30, 2017

Jakarta – Some Muslim residents are taking part in organizing the first mass service for newly ordained Catholic priest Gregorius Primus Ama Maia CS at St. Yoseph Pekerja Penfui parish, which is scheduled for Thursday.

"This program involves all community members in the area of Air Baru in Penfui subdistrict," organizing chairman Yuven Beribe said as quoted by Antara on Monday.

Yuven said some Muslims would be playing key roles in the program, including filling roles such as the organizer's advisor, deputy chairman and section members.

"We want to show the public that religion is not a barrier for us," he said, adding that some Muslims would also take part in the mass offering procession. He added that there have been similar programs involving Muslims in the past five years.

The organizer's deputy chairman, Ramli Muda, who is Muslim, said he had taken part in all five previous programs. "I once chaired the organizing committee. The program was quite festive. This is evidence of our togetherness and spirit of tolerance among all community members," Ramli said. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/30/muslims-take-part-in-organizing-catholic-mass-in-east-nusa-tenggara.html

Poverty & social inequity

Jokowi tells ministers to address socioeconomic disparity

Jakarta Post - January 31, 2017

Fedina S. Sundaryani, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called on his Cabinet ministers to create a policy to address socioeconomic disparity in the country.

"All citizens should have the same opportunities without exception," he said during the opening of a closed-door Cabinet meeting at the Bogor Palace in West Java on Tuesday.

"In December 2016, I ordered the coordinating economic minister to compile a policy that eradicates the long-standing socioeconomic disparity," the President added.

Although Jokowi acknowledged that the country's Gini ratio – the most commonly used measure of inequality in which zero reflects perfect equality and 1 reflects perfect inequality – has decreased significantly since 2015, the government still had a lot of work to do.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the country's Gini ratio dropped to 0.387 in March 2016 from 0.402 in September 2015. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/31/jokowi-tells-ministers-to-address-socioeconomic-disparity.html

Indonesia prepares measures to reduce inequality

Jakarta Post - January 25, 2017

Grace D. Amianti, Jakarta – The government is preparing new measures to help narrow the gap between the country's rich and poor in a bid to improve consumer demand, which is essential to stoke private investment.

The government is in the process of finalizing the upcoming policies, which are expected to be issued in the next one or two months, said Sofjan Wanandi, chief economic advisor to Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

"The government will soon issue some policies to resolve the issue of the gap between the rich and the poor and we hope this will help stabilize the economy in the long term," he said during a panel discussion held by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (Kadin) advisory board on Tuesday.

The government expects that businesspeople will fully support the policies, one of which will include a plan to tax idle plot of lands that would help generate extra revenue, he added.

Meanwhile, Creco economist Chatib Basri said private sector investment was needed to trigger the economy to grow above 5 percent.

He said Indonesia remained attractive among other emerging markets as shown by the recent high demand for government bond issuance, but the implementation of new regulations to facilitate private companies was yet to be effective so far.

"We need to convince more foreign direct investments to come to the country, but the deregulation efforts introduced by the central government to cut bureaucracy have not touched its regional counterparts," he said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/25/govt-prepares-measures-to-reduce-inequality.html

Jakarta & urban life

Jakarta unmoved by worsening air quality

Jakarta Post - January 25, 2017

Corry Elyda, Jakarta – More and more Jakartans are using face masks on public transportation and motorcycles and while walking on the streets.

Just like in many other cities of developing countries, people in Jakarta are being exposed to worsening air quality.

But the city administration appears to be slow to respond to the alarming rate of air pollution, with no clear plan on the table on how to address the problem.

Instead, the administration has said it will simply rely on old programs, like boosting the usage of natural gas for vehicles and better enforcement of emission tests for vehicles.

Environment Agency deputy head Ali Maulana conceded that the air quality in Jakarta was far below the safe level.

"Areas like North Jakarta and West Jakarta have the worst air pollution level," he said on Tuesday on the sidelines of a workshop on air pollution by the Breath Easy Jakarta project, which was supported by the United States Environment Protection Agency.

The main reasons for the pollution are densely populated residential areas and a lack of adequate open green space.

"Because of the dense population, mobility of the people is also high. In addition, many areas in North Jakarta are dedicated to industry," he said.

Ali said his agency would continue enforcing the obligation for public vehicles to use natural compressed gas (CNG). The regulation has been in force since 2007. "However, implementation is poor due to the low number of available CNG stations and poor law enforcement," he said.

The administration also plans to convert all of its official service vehicles to be CNG-powered. "I believe the impact will be quite significant given the high number of service vehicles [owned by the administration]," he said.

The agency alone currently has 1,200 vehicles, including garbage and pickup trucks.

"After we modify all of our vehicles, we will ask other agencies to follow our lead," he said. Ali said his agency would cooperate with city-owned company PT Jakarta Propertindo (Jakpro) to establish CNG stations and mobile refueling units (MRU).

Currently, only bajaj (three-wheeled motorized public vehicles), Transjakarta buses and some taxis use CNG as fuel. In the future, all vehicles in the capital will be obliged to pass emission tests.

Sarath Guttikunda, a scientist from Desert Research Institute (DRI), which participated in the project, revealed that the level of fine particles (PM10) in Greater Jakarta's air was mostly categorized as unsafe.

"The safe level is between 10 to 25 microgram per cubic meter," he said, adding that almost all areas in Jakarta were found to have higher levels of PM10.

"Areas with heavy traffic like toll roads, airports and ports are at the PM10 level of more than 125 microgram per cubic meter," said Guttikunda, who conducted the study from 2012 to 2015.

His study also showed that there were an average of 3,700 premature deaths, 260,000 asthma attacks and 85,000 emergency room visits per year.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/25/jakarta-unmoved-by-worsening-air-quality.html

Magic & the supernatural

Sex, murder, fraud: sham Indonesian cults in the spotlight after scandals

South China Morning Post - January 31, 2017

Desperate and despondent after losing an Indonesian local election, Abdul Junaidi was the perfect prey for a charismatic cult leader promising great wealth and political success.

Lured in with assurances that he would see his money multiply, the sugar cane farmer handed over 200 million rupiah ($15,000) to the sect.

But his cash disappeared, his political career stalled, and the leader of the group was arrested, accused of murdering one of Junaidi's friends for threatening to unmask him.

"His promise was very tempting – that if I ran at elections, then I would win," the 50-year-old sugar cane farmer said.

The case is the latest example of a shadowy sect playing on the widespread belief of the supernatural in Indonesia to allegedly swindle people.

Cult-like groups have long existed across the vast Indonesian archipelago, which is home to hundreds of different ethnic groups and where belief in local spirits and black magic are often fused with the dominant religion of Islam.

Belief in the supernatural is common across Asia. From China to Thailand, politicians often turn to soothsayers for advice. 'Witch' killings haunt India's remote villages where crop damage, loss of animal life or a personal setback can trigger occult mania

But in recent times in Indonesia, the deep-rooted belief in the occult has taken a dark turn with several cases of sham cult leaders facing allegations ranging from murder to fraud and sexual assault.

The most high-profile has been the one that embroiled Junaidi, who was among thousands persuaded to join a cult led by Taat Pribadi, who gave himself the Indonesian royal title "Dimas Kanjeng".

From former lawmakers to army generals and police officers, Pribadi managed to attract a huge and influential following to his cult in Probolinggo on Indonesia's main island of Java, with members living in his palatial residence and nearby buildings.

He persuaded people to join the group with claims that he could bring them success – in Junaidi's case by helping him win an election to head a small district on Java – and multiply money they gave him in an elaborate, supernatural ritual.

The case attracted huge attention when videos went viral of Pribadi dressed in flowing white robes sitting on a chair and performing the ritual that ended with him producing fistfuls of money and throwing it onto the floor.

Source: http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2066798/sex-murder-fraud-sham-indonesian-cults-spotlight-after

Armed forces & defense

The dangerous ideology behind Bela Negara

New Mandala - January 25, 2017

By calling upon citizens' supposed rights and obligations to defend the nation, Indonesia's military is marching down a perilous path, writes Bhatara Ibnu Reza.

In early January, the Indonesian public was shocked to discover that the military had been training the notorious Islamic Defenders' Front (Fron Pembela Islam or FPI) in Lebak, Banten.

According to news reports, the military trained the vigilante group, who played a major role in Jakarta's recent anti-Ahok protests, as part of its Bela Negara (State Defence) Program, codified by Indonesia's 2015 Defence White Paper.

The news was first broadcast via FPI's Instagram account with pictures of the training going viral across cyberspace, including exercises with the army (TNI) in Madura.

Faced with such controversy and a wave of criticism from civil society, the Siliwangi Military Command removed the Lebak district regional commander for violating procedure.

But the incident is yet another controversy in a long list of troubles that has plagued Bela Negara since its inception. More significantly, this latest misstep is based on a flawed ideology that brings the Indonesian military and citizens too close together for comfort.

Bela Negara aims to recruit civilians to defend the state by providing basic military training, including weapon use, and the reinforcement of state ideology among ordinary citizens. The program also has a militaristic style, and no particular law has been made to legitimise the program.

According to Indonesia's 2015 Defence White Paper, in 10 years the program will recruit 100 million militant cadres across the archipelago. But these 'militant cadres' are not recognised under any defence law, and it is not clear whether they are combatants or civilians.

The only legal basis for the program is Article 27(3) and Article 30(1) of the Constitution; these highlights both the right and duty of citizens to defend the state under the Total People's Defence and Security System.

Originally, Total People's Defence was Indonesia's experience of guerilla warfare during the war of independence. Two key elements characterise it. First, the potential for all citizens to fight the 'enemy', and second, the blurred distinction between the military and the people during an armed resistance.

Legally, the ideology breaches the laws of war since the implementation of Total People's Defence does not clearly distinguish between civilians and combatants, which is the basic international rule protecting civilians in armed conflicts. The distinction principle imposes obligations on conflicting parties to differentiate between combatants and civilians. In addition, combatants only have the right to attack legitimate military targets, and civilians are immune from targeting unless they take a direct part in hostilities.

The intention to obscure the distinction was not without purpose – this being to ensure the military remains influential in the social and political life of Indonesia. The ideology also mirrors the Army's self-declared sense of unity with the people (kemanunggalan TNI dan rakyat).

The Army adopts this position by defining themselves as being one with the people and identifying their interests as the people's interests. The stance also allows the military to undermine the civilian government if the government is seen not to act in the people's interests, and defend their interest in politics.

The Army also uses the ideology of Total People's Defence to act independently and empower their territorial commands to form so-called civilian people's resistance, also known as militias. These are created as a pretext under citizens' right to defend the state.

These militia groups have been recruited, trained and supported by the state armed forces to do 'the dirty work' of the military against separatist elements and society's undesirables, mostly in conflict areas like East Timor and Aceh. Its most recent incarnation is seen in the district military command 'tacitly' providing training to FPI under Bela Negara.

As such, Bela Negara is simply another way for the military to engage in national politics through the militarisation of the civilian population under their supposed rights and obligations when it comes to defending the nation.

This activity is reinforced by the use of terms like proxy war against foreign intervention, and extreme ideologies like communism and homosexuality. By choosing to engage with and confront such issues, it is easy for the military to find allies with vigilante groups like FPI. Furthermore, these groups can easily transform themselves into Bela Negara groups and become the military's proxy.

Most worryingly, though, with its illegal use of a dangerous ideology, Bela Negara is cultivating a culture of violence and breaching the law of armed conflict.

[Bhatara Ibnu Reza is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales, where he is researching civilian involvement in state defence. He is also as a senior researcher for Imparsial, the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor.]

Source: http://www.newmandala.org/dangerous-ideology-behind-bela-negara/

Criminal justice & legal system

Mum's the word as public speculates on Jokowi's meeting with Antasari Azhar

Jakarta Globe - January 28, 2017

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has refused to make any comment on his surprise meeting with former national antigraft agency chairman Antasari Azhar at the Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday (26/01).

Jokowi was confronted by the press on his meeting with Antasari after he gave a speech for students at the semi-military Taruna Nusantara High School in Magelang, Central Java, on Friday. "Don't be too nosy," Jokowi said jokingly, echoing Antasari's statement to the press on Thursday.

The president placed his index finger on his lips, hinting that he did not want to discuss the issue. Antasari had done the same thing when surrounded by the media at the palace on Thursday.

"Antasari's meeting with the president was based on a request he submitted quite awhile ago," presidential spokesman Johan Budi said on Friday.

Antasari's meeting with the president has sparked speculation that he may be plotting political revenge against those responsible for his downfall.

Many people believe Antasari was framed for the murder of Nasruddin Zulkarnaen, a director at state-owned Putra Rajawali Banjaran, as the evidence in the case was deemed insufficient to secure a conviction. Even Nasruddin's brother Andi Zulkarnaen has said on many occasions that he believed Antasari was innocent.

Antasari, who served as Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman from 2007 to 2009, was released on parole in November last year after seven and a half years in prison and remission – or two-thirds of his 18-year jail term for the murder of the businessman.

Jokowi granted clemency to Antasari on Jan. 16, which was confirmed with an official letter delivered to the South Jakarta Court on Monday.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/mums-word-public-speculates-jokowis-meeting-antasari-azhar/

Support from victim's family assisted Antasari's clemency bid: Supreme Court

Jakarta Post - January 26, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – One of the considerations behind the clemency granted to former chief of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Antasari Azhar, who had been convicted of murder, was based on support from the victim's family, a Supreme Court (MA) official revealed on Wednesday evening.

"From what I heard, the victim's family supported the clemency request [filed by Antasari]. There was an official statement from the family regarding it," court spokesperson Suhadi told The Jakarta Post.

Besides the court, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly also supported the clemency because of "irregularities" in Antasari's murder case. "I smell something fishy in the murder case [implicating Antasari]," Yasona previously said.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo granted six years' clemency for Antasari, who was previously sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment in 2010 for masterminding the drive-by shooting of Nasrudin Zulkarnaen, a director of state-owned pharmaceutical company Rajawali Putra Banjaran.

However, speculation is rife that Antasari was set up because of his efforts as KPK chief to bring former high-ranking officials suspected of graft to trial.

Antasari is scheduled to meet with President Jokowi at the State Palace on Thursday to talk about the "irregularities" of his case. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/26/support-from-victims-family-assisted-antasaris-clemency-bid-supreme-court.html

Jokowi grants clemency to former KPK chief

Jakarta Post - January 25, 2017

Jakarta – Former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chair Antasari Azhar has reportedly received clemency from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo following the former's release on parole from Tangerang prison, Banten, a lawyer has said.

"We have received information from the State Secretary this morning that [President Jokowi] has granted clemency to Antasari Azhar," Antasari's lawyer Boyamin Saiman was quoted as saying by Antara news agency on Wednesday.

Boyamin said he would check with the South Jakarta District Court to confirm the report. Antasari had said earlier that he needed clemency to rehabilitate his reputation.

The court sentenced Antasari to 18 years in prison in 2010 for masterminding the drive-by shooting of Nasrudin Zulkarnaen, a director of state-owned pharmaceutical company Rajawali Putra Banjaran. He will have fully served his sentence in 2022. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/25/jokowi-grants-clemency-to-former-KPK-chief.html

Police & law enforcement

Indonesian police deny smuggling weapons from Sudan

Jakarta Globe - January 24, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian National Police have denied that their peacekeeping force was involved in smuggling weapons from Sudan.

Local media reported that an Indonesian police unit, identified as the Indonesian Formed Police Unit (FPU VIII), had been detained at the Al Fashir Airport for allegedly attempting to smuggle a large number of weapons and ammunition when they were about to return to Indonesia last weekend.

National Police spokesman Chief Comr. Martinus Sitompul, however, denied the accusation.

The unit was scheduled to depart from Sudan on Saturday, with new unit FPU IX to replace it in the peacekeeping mission, Martinus said. The luggage that contained the weapons and ammunition was not part of the Indonesian police unit's belongings, Martinus explained.

The luggage – which contained 29 Kalashnikov rifles, 4 shotguns, 6 GM3 rifles and 61 different types of guns, as well as a large number of ammunition – had tags in different color to the Indonesian unit's belongings and did not belong to any of the Indonesian police officers.

"Sudanese [police officers] asked whether the luggage belonged to the Indonesian unit three times. Our officers denied the charge each time, pointing out that the luggage wasn't attached with the Indonesian unit's tag," Martinus said on Monday (23/01).

"After the incident at the airport, accusations that the unit had tried to smuggle weapons started to appear. That was the sequence of the incident, as told to us by the FPU VIII unit chief Supt. John Huntalhutajulu Sitanggang," he added.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said there were a number of inconsistencies in the details of early reports about the incident. He also said that the United Nations had started its own investigation into the incident. "The Indonesian ambassador in Khartoum will assist our police unit," Arrmanatha told reporters.

A team from the National Police is set to leave for Sudan soon to provide legal assistance to the officers and get a complete picture of the matter.

TNI's denial

The Indonesian Military, or TNI, has also denied that its own peacekeeping force, which served under the flag of the United Nations Missions in Darfur (Unamid), was also involved in the attempt to smuggle weapons out of Sudan.

TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. Wuryanto said the TNI unit still has until March in Sudan before the end of its mission and that high-ranking officers responsible for the force, including the unit's chief Brig. Gen. Nur Alamsyah, have also denied the reports.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesian-police-deny-smuggling-weapons-sudan/

National security & intelligence

Police to question FPI leaders on Wednesday over alleged plot to topple gov't

Jakarta Globe - January 30, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta Police said on Sunday (29/01) they will question two leaders of the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, in an investigation over an alleged plot against the government.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono said Rizieq Shihab and Munarman, along with chairman of the Guardians of the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwas (GNPF-MUI) Bachtiar Nasir, will be questioned as witnesses on Wednesday.

The investigation will be focused on the men's participation in a number of meetings at Bung Karno University in Central Jakarta, during which a scheme had reportedly been hatched to overthrow the government, Argo said.

"We will dig deeper into the meetings to see whether they were invited, who invited them, which topics were discussed, who was in attendance, where are the minutes, and so on," Argo told reporters in Jakarta.

In the same case, police have already questioned political observer Ichsanuddin Noorsy, Confederation of Indonesian Worker's Unions (KSPI) chairman Said Iqbal and KSPI secretary general M. Rusdi.

A group of 11 high-profile activists have been named suspects for allegedly plotting against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his administration and planning to hijack the peaceful prayer rally in Jakarta on Dec. 2.

Among them were also rock star Ahmad Dhani, former military generals Kivlan Zein and Adityawarman, theater director and activist Ratna Sarumpaet, former President Suharto loyalist Virza Husein, politician Eko Suryo and activists Alvinindra Al Fariz and Rachmawati Sukarnoputri – the youngest daughter of former President Sukarno.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-question-fpi-leaders-wednesday-alleged-plot-topple-govt/

Police to question FPI leaders, GNPF-MUI chairman on treason case

Jakarta Post - January 28, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta Police have scheduled a questioning for Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab and general secretary Munarman, as well as the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) chairman Bachtiar Nasir, on Wednesday.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said the three men would be questioned in relation to a meeting attended by treason suspect Sri Bintang Pamungkas and several others.

"Their [Rizieq, Munarman, and Nasir] statements are needed since they attended the meeting along with other people," Argo said on Friday as reported by tribunnews.com. He said police investigators would question them on who had been invited and what had been discussed during the meeting.

Sri Bintang and several political activists were arrested on Dec. 2 last year in several locations in Jakarta, hours before a massive rally, organized by the FPI and GNPF-MUI was held at the Presidential Palace.

Hundreds of thousands people took part in the rally, demanding that the government legally process Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for alleged blasphemy related to his statement on a Quranic verse during a visit to Thousand Islands regency in September.

Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, is now being tried at the North Jakarta District Court for the alleged blasphemy.(jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/28/police-to-question-fpi-leaders-gnpf-mui-chairman-on-treason-case.html

Foreign affairs & trade

Muslim-majority Indonesia deeply regrets US immigrant vetting plans

Reuters - January 29, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Sunday (29/01) the Muslim-majority nation deeply regrets President Donald Trump's plans for "extreme vetting" of people from some Muslim countries entering the United States under new immigration orders.

In a far-reaching order that caused chaos and confusion after it was signed late on Friday, Trump put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries.

Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, is not among the seven nations whose citizens face restrictions. However, when asked about Trump's plans for "extreme vetting," Marsudi said in social media message sent to Reuters: "We have deep regrets about the policy."

In December 2015, Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. The idea drew fire for suggesting a religious test for immigrants that critics said would violate the US Constitution and later evolved into a proposal for "extreme vetting."

Most of Indonesia's 220 million Muslims practice a moderate form of Islam, although the country has some vocal Islamist groups and has suffered in the past from attacks by militants.

Indonesia has close relations with the United States and many of its citizens think highly of former US President Barack Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Jakarta.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said after Trump's inauguration he was optimistic that relations between the countries would strengthen, to the benefit of both.

Foreign Minister Marsudi said Indonesians seeking visas to go the United States had not faced any problems so far. She said there were "hundreds of thousands" of Indonesians in the United States.

A statement on the website of the Indonesian embassy in Washington urged its citizens in the United States to stay calm, but keep vigilant.

It said Indonesian citizens should respect US laws and help ensure public order in their neighborhoods, but also that they should understand their rights in case of any issues and directed them to the website of the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU.

The ACLU sought and won a temporary stay on Trump's order to restrict travelers with passports from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Trump told reporters in the White House's Oval Office on Saturday that his order was "not a Muslim ban" and said the measures were long overdue.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/muslim-majority-indonesia-deeply-regrets-us-immigrant-vetting-plans/

Palestine embassy regrets use of flag, symbol in Jakarta street rallies

Jakarta Post - January 25, 2017

Jakarta – The Embassy of Palestine in Indonesia has regretted the use of the Palestinian flag and other symbols associated with the Middle-Eastern country in recent rallies in Jakarta.

"The embassy regrets to observe that [the] Palestinian flag had been raised during non-peaceful rallies connected with pure[ly] Indonesian domestic affairs," the embassy said in a statement available on Wednesday.

"It's crystal clear that such [an] attitude, which is not acceptable, cannot be considered by any means as a sign of support or solidarity with Palestine," it added.

The embassy said true and genuine friends of Palestine should be seeking to preserve stability and peace in their own country if they were sincere to keeping the peace in Palestine.

Therefore, the embassy expressed its confidence that the Indonesian people cannot be deceived by any misguided individuals or groups who might use its flag to cover up possible ill-intended, hidden agendas.

The embassy did not mention names of individuals or specific groups in its statement.

But new reports revealed that during massive rallies late last year, which were organized by the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), the Palestinian flag was often seen raised along with other symbols.

The rallies took place to demand the prosecution of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for alleged blasphemy. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/25/palestine-embassy-regrets-use-of-flag-symbol-in-jakarta-street-rallies.html

Jokowi congratulates new US President Donald Trump

Jakarta Post - January 23, 2017

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has congratulated Donald Trump for his presidential election victory and has said that relations between Indonesia and the United States will be fine under the new leader.

"I'm optimistic that Indonesia-US relations will be better, but they should benefit both countries," Jokowi said in Bogor, West Java, on Sunday.

The President admitted having phoned Trump, who replied that he had many friends in Indonesia. "Donald Trump said 'my friends are many in Indonesia and I have businesses in Indonesia.' He said this," Jokowi said.

Trump has been reportedly cooperating with media mogul Harry Tanoesudibjo to set up resorts in Bogor, West Java, and Bali.

Harry reportedly attended the inauguration of the 45th US president in Washington D.C. Several media outlets showed photographs of Harry and his wife posing in front of the Capitol Building after the inauguration. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/23/jokowi-congratulates-trump.html

Mining & energy

Incentive cut discourages investment in renewable energy: Expert

Jakarta Post - January 30, 2017

Jakarta – A plan by Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan to cut incentives for the development of new and renewable energy sources is being criticized because it will discourage investors from putting their money into this sector.

"The objective of the subsidy is to encourage the growth of new and renewable energy. Even with the current subsidy, the progress of new and renewable energy is sluggish," said ReforMiner Institute executive director Komaidi Notonegoro on Sunday.

The government would not significantly curb its overall spending by cutting the renewable energy subsidy because renewable sources only satisfy some 14 percent of the total energy demand in the country, he added.

If the government wants to cut subsidies to make itself more efficient, it should cut the diesel fuel subsidy instead, he said, adding that the price of electricity from a geothermal plant is Rp 1,200 (1 US cent) per kWh, while the price of electricity from a diesel-fired plant is between Rp 3,400 and Rp 4,000 per kWh.

"If the government cuts the diesel fuel subsidy and shifts it to new and renewable energy, it will significantly encourage the development of new and renewable energy," Komaidi said as reported by tribunnews.com.

He said hydroelectric dams supplied 8 percent of renewable energy, making them the largest contributors because hydroelectricity has been developed for a long time, followed by geothermal plants that contribute 4 percent, while the remainder comes from other new and renewable sources.

Jonan previously said that the industry does not need incentives to develop the new and renewable energy sources that are expected to meet 23 percent of the country's energy needs within a few years. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/30/incentive-cut-discourages-investment-in-renewable-energy-expert.html

Three-hour license service for energy sector launched

Jakarta Post - January 30, 2017

Fedina S. Sundaryani, Jakarta – The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) has launched a three-hour service for obtaining nine licenses connected to energy and mineral resources.

The government is encouraging large investments in the energy and mineral resources sectors this year, said BKPM head Thomas Lembong.

"Exports are still sluggish. Our consumption is strong, but we cannot encourage more or we would become an over-consumptive country. Investment [in the energy and mineral resources sectors] is the one thing we can boost," he said during the launch on Monday.

The new service would be applied to nine licenses related to infrastructure. When done through the BKPM's regular service, the process can take between 20 and 40 days.

Company directors seeking the three-hour service merely need to submit the required documents at a one-stop integrated service (PTSP) agency.

The licenses will be issued if the firm has met all administrative and technical requirements stipulated in Energy and Mineral Resources Ministerial Decree No. 15/2016 on the three-hour licensing service for infrastructure in the energy and mineral resources sectors.

Meanwhile, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said that his ministry was also trying to reduce the total number of permits needed in the energy and mineral sectors to only 20 by March in order to encourage more investments.

"We want to make it simpler, but also to ensure that it complies with existing regulations," he said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/30/three-hour-license-service-for-energy-sector-launched.html

Indonesian provincial government says Freeport loses $188 million tax appeal

Reuters - January 25, 2017

Indonesia's Papua province, home of the giant Grasberg copper mine operated by the local unit of Freeport McMoRan Inc, said it has won a court battle in a claim against the company for 2.51 trillion rupiah ($188 million) in outstanding surface water taxes.

According to Papua's local government Indonesia's Tax Court has rejected a lawsuit lodged by PT Freeport Indonesia over the claim for taxes on water the company used from the Aghawagon and Otomona rivers between 2011 and mid-2015.

Freeport, which used the water to suspend its tailings in the Ajkwa River, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) away, had argued that a substantially lower tax rate should be applied, as set out in its contract of work signed in 1991, the administration said.

"The Papua governor's decree on the refusal of Freeport Indonesia's objections and a letter on tax assessment for surface water tax were declared valid and enforceable," it said, referring to a verdict from Indonesia's Tax Court on January 18.

"This ruling was welcomed by the Papuan government's team of attorneys after a long struggle," it said. A spokesman for Freeport Indonesia declined to comment on the matter.

Freeport Indonesia is currently in talks with the Indonesian government about changing the terms of its mining rights, under which Indonesia expects it to pay more taxes than under its existing contract.

Freeport is one of Indonesia's biggest taxpayers, with direct contributions of more than $16 billion to Southeast Asia's biggest economy in taxes, royalties, dividends and other payments between 1992 and 2015 according to company data. Indonesia's Tax Court could not be reached for comment.

[Reporting by Fergus Jensen and Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Greg Mahlich.]

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-freeport-tax-idUSKBN1591SI

Trump's shadow over Freeport won't bend Indonesia

Jakarta Post - January 23, 2017

Arif Gunawan S., Jakarta – Activists are furious, vowing to bring the case to the Constitutional Court, while PT Freeport Indonesia has sent a letter listing some "circumstances" around the implementation of the latest mineral-ore export rules amid the inauguration of the new US protectionist president.

However, these things have yet to change the government's stance on its rules on mineral exports and share divestment. No door is going to be opened for negotiation, not until time proves the opposite, an executive at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has said.

Within a month, complaints and challenges have surfaced against the new four rules that allow miners to export semiprocessed minerals while requiring them to convert their contract of work (CoW) permits into special mining licenses (IUPKs) and divest their shares within five years.

The latest challenge comes from gold and copper miner Freeport Indonesia, which has sent a letter informing the government of its "commitment" to obey the rules while specifying several "circumstances" that should be taken into consideration.

"It's not a commitment letter but just a letter informing us of its intention to obey the rules while specifying 'these' and 'those' circumstances," Energy and Mineral Resources deputy minister Arcandra Tahar told editors during a gathering on Saturday, adding that there was no obligation for the government to reply to the letter. "The President and the minister have signed the regulations. Freeport should just follow them," he said.

Freeport has operated in Indonesia for the past 50 years. The company sent the letter just a week before the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, who is known for his protectionist views and his "America First" rhetoric.

"Freeport Indonesia has presented to the government its willingness to convert [its CoW] into an IUPK, that will happen if there is an agreement over investment stability and also fiscal and legal certainty," Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama told The Jakarta Post recently, explaining about the company's letter.

US media reported earlier that Trump, the real estate tycoon, had enlisted Carl Icahn, a top shareholder in Freeport-McMoRan, to be his special adviser on business regulations in December last year. Freeport's shipments of copper concentrate from Indonesia have been halted since Jan. 12 in accordance with rules on domestic mineral processing.

Trump is also a close friend of Setya Novanto, the House of Representatives speaker who sparked public uproar when he showed up at a Trump campaign rally in September 2015. Trump introduced him as a special guest during the event.

However, the ministry insisted that the government merely stipulated rules that could be adopted by companies while preventing any flagrant violation of the 2009 Mining Law.

"The miners should have built the smelters as the law required them to do. But in reality, they failed to do so due to many factors. The latest rules are actually pushing them to finish the smelters, with tighter and more measurable supervision. So it's not a relaxation," the ministry's minerals and coal director general Bambang Gatot Ariyono said.

Indonesia, he further underlined, would not negotiate with any miner, including Freeport, on new rules requiring its local subsidiary to convert its permit in order to resume its copper concentrate exports. The government will also refuse to negotiate the stipulation requiring Freeport to divest 51 percent of its shares, he added.

Meanwhile, a group of experts and environmentalists calling themselves the Civil Society Coalition has announced a plan to submit its request to the Constitutional Court this week. The coalition consists of at least 20 institutions, including the Legal Aid Institute (LBH), Energy World Indonesia, the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) and the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).

Amid these new challenges, Arcandra acknowledged that the current administration would try to defend its firm stance on the impossibility of further negotiations.

"How successful will the government be in guarding the implementation of these rules? Well, I can only say this: time will tell," he said, declining to elaborate on the potential judicial review lawsuit and other challenges that the ministry is now facing.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/23/trumps-shadow-over-freeport-wont-bend-indonesia.html

Fishing & maritime affairs

Modern-day slavery: Indonesia cracks down on brutal conditions on foreign

Sydney Morning Herald - January 24, 2017

Jewel Topsfield, Jakarta – It's hard to comprehend it happened in this century: human slaves trapped on fishing boats being whipped with poisonous stingray tails, having ice blocks thrown at them and being shot. "If Americans and Europeans are eating this fish, they should remember us," says Hlaing Min, 30, a runaway slave from Benjina, a remote fisheries weight station in eastern Indonesia's Aru Islands. "There must be a mountain of bones under the sea.... The bones of the people could be an island, it's that many."

In 2015 more than 1300 foreign fisherman from Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos were rescued from Benjina and Ambon, after an Associated Press investigation revealed the brutal conditions aboard many foreign vessels reflagged to operate in Indonesian waters.

Extraordinary images of men being kept in a cage exposed the chilling reality of 21st century slavery.

"They were trafficked from their home country, mostly by means of deception, forced to work over 20 hours per day on a boat in the middle of the sea, with little to no chance of escape," says a report on human trafficking in the Indonesian fishing industry released on Tuesday. Some were kept at sea for years at a time.

After the rescue, the International Organisation for Migration interviewed the fishers. They were told of excessive work hours – 78 per cent of 285 victims interviewed in depth claimed they worked between 16 and 24 hours a day, cramped conditions, meals of watery fish gruel, physical and psychological abuse and even murder.

"While on board, I often heard the news from the boat radio that several boat crews had died, either falling to the ocean, fighting or killed by the other crews," a Cambodian fisher says in the report. "While I was working on the boat, I saw with my own eyes more than seven dead bodies floating in the sea."

Witnesses testified that requesting to leave the boat could be a death sentence for some victims. Those who did might find themselves chained on the deck in the middle of the day or locked in the freezer.

"The heartrending stories of these fishers could not be left untold," says IOM Indonesia's chief of mission Mark Getchell.

The report says the Benjina and Ambon cases highlight the lack of adequate policing of the fishing industry and a lack of scrutiny of working conditions on ships and in fish processing plants.

Seafood caught by modern day slaves entered the global supply chain, with legitimate suppliers of fish "unaware of its provenance and the human toll behind the catch."

"The situation in Benjina and Ambon is symptomatic of a much broader and insidious trade in people, not only in the Indonesian and Thai fishing industries, but indeed globally," the report says.

In 2015 the Australian Government provided $2.17 million to IOM to support the daily care, repatriation and reintegration of formerly trafficked and enslaved fishermen from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, who had been stranded on islands in Indonesia's Maluku province.

"This funding support has since been extended to enable IOM to provide assistance to foreign fishermen stranded in any area of Indonesia," an immigration department spokesman said.

"This assistance plays a crucial role to support and protect victims of trafficking and slavery in the fishing industry by reuniting victims with their families and providing them with limited financial assistance which can help them establish an alternative livelihood."

IOM spokesman Paul Dillon said Australia provided the lion share of the funding for its emergency response to the human trafficking crisis, which included returning more than 1000 victims to their home countries. "This would not have been possible without the Australian government," he said.

At the launch of the report in Jakarta, Indonesian Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti unveiled a new government decree requiring all fisheries companies to submit a detailed human rights audit. This was one of the report's key recommendations to protect fishermen and port workers from abuse.

"That being said, Indonesia still has homework towards the approximately 250,000 Indonesian crews on foreign vessels operating across continents that remain unprotected," Ms Pudjiastuti says in a foreword to the report.

The report also called for greater diligence in recording the movement of vessels in Indonesian waters, more training on human trafficking, independent inspections of ports and vessels at sea and centres in ports where fishers could seek protection.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/modernday-slavery-indonesia-cracks-down-on-brutal-conditions-on-foreign-fishing-boats-20170124-gtxseo.html

Indonesia issues human rights decree for fisheries

Jakarta Post - January 24, 2017

Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta – The government has issued a ministerial decree in a bid to eradicate human rights violations in the country's fisheries industry.

The decree is Maritime and Fisheries Ministerial Decree No. 2/2017 on a human rights certification mechanism in the fisheries industry.

Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said that the decree would serve as the basis for a certification mechanism to ensure that companies did not violate their workers' human rights.

The mechanism is being established following a report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on human trafficking in Indonesia's fisheries industry.

"This research report is the only publication that gives a complete and critical picture on human trafficking and forced labor in Indonesia's fisheries industry," Susi said during an event to present the report and the ministerial decree on Tuesday.

With this decree, the government will start to require all companies in the fisheries industry to submit detailed reports on their workers' conditions. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/24/indonesia-issues-human-rights-decree-for-fisheries.html

Economy & investment

Radicalism has dangerous effect on economy

Jakarta Post - January 23, 2017

Grace D. Amianti, Jakarta – The government is expected to protect the country's economy from the negative effects of global and domestic risks, including the recent rise of intolerance and religious radicalism.

The fear is that the recent increasing incidents of intolerance and terrorism would start affecting the perceptions of investors and businesspeople, which could affect the economy if the government fails to implement strong measures to curb such disruptions.

"Radical and intolerant voices are growing right now, even in sermons during Friday prayers. It seems that these intolerant sermons are the popular ones in our society," said National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar during a discussion on Monday.

He stressed that the party, along with the largest Islamic organization, Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), would help the government to counter radicalism and intolerant groups. "However, the government should show its seriousness in handling those issues," he added.

At the same event, Sofjan Wanandi, chief economic advisor to Vice President Jusuf Kalla, said businesspeople were actually very confident about the country's economy, as shown through their enthusiasm in participating in the government's tax amnesty.

However, the rising intolerant and fundamentalist voices, which was demonstrated by the large protests against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama last November and December, had somehow affected businesspeople's perception and thwarted their willingness to repatriate their assets.

"With the recent racial and religious conflicts, Chinese investors also choose to wait and see. Some of them have even canceled their investments. I worry that there will be a snowball effect," he said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/23/radicalism-has-dangerous-effect-on-economy.html

Analysis & opinion

Military spat a sign of things to come for bilateral relationship?

Indonesia at Melbourne - January 30, 2017

Tim Lindsey – It began with a statement by the spokesman for the commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), General Gatot Nurmantyo, that defence cooperation with Australia had been suspended for "technical reasons".

These were later revealed to be complaints made late last year by an Indonesia Special Forces (Kopassus) member working as a language trainer in military courses in Perth. He had complained that certain materials dealing with Indonesia used by the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) were offensive.

It is still not entirely clear what the material was. Different accounts say it related to the status of West Papua or the role of the late General Sarwo Edhie Wibowo in the 1965 killings; or that it denigrated the national ideology, Pancasila, by calling it 'pancagila' (gila means 'crazy'). Or perhaps it included all of these.

In any case, Nurmantyo raised the matter with a letter to his Australian counterpart in early December and the ADF initiated an inquiry, which is yet to produce a report. Nurmantyo seems to have been unhappy with progress and decided to make the matter public, sparking much excitement in the Australian media.

Things then became more confusing. Nurmantyo's announcement was followed by comments from the spokesman for Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) that he had not been consulted but thought it was all "exaggerated". Soon after, however, Jokowi told reporters that he endorsed Nurmantyo's decision as a "matter of principle" – presumably a reference to defending Pancasila. He added that no specific timetable existed to restore military ties but, oddly, relations with Australia were somehow "just fine".

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne, scrambling to get a grip on the situation, issued a statement that the inquiry was underway, efforts were being made at military and political levels to resolve the matter and that only some training activities were affected. This was quickly countered by Nurmantyo, who said it was, in fact, a much wider suspension of cooperation.

If this had been true, it would have meant that the head of Indonesia's armed forces, a serving general, had been able to make a decision affecting relations with a foreign power that should be exclusively the right of his superiors in Indonesia's civilian government – a very worrying development.

Payne's position was, however, finally supported by former General Wiranto, Indonesia's powerful Coordinating Minister of Politics, Law and Security. Apparently slapping down Nurmatyo, he said that the suspension was, after all, limited to just language training courses.

At the time of writing it was still not completely clear exactly how serious the consequences of all this are for military cooperation between Australia and Indonesia, with some suggesting that it may still affect joint naval exercises scheduled for February.

Whatever the outcome – and it may not be clear for weeks or months – the whole perplexing episode does make some things clear, underscoring some hard truths about the Australia-Indonesia relationship.

First is a reminder of the messy nature of policy making in Jokowi's Indonesia. Jokowi is a weak president. A provincial outsider, he is the first president of Indonesia not to lead his own party and has struggled since his election to build support among the elites. He has only recently consolidated a workable political coalition and still struggles to get his agenda through the national legislature, let alone implemented on the ground.

His administration has been dogged by lack of discipline and poor internal coordination, so policy on the run – emerging chaotically from conflicting and often attention-seeking statements by high state officials – is unfortunately not unusual. This episode shows that we need to be patient when controversies arise and allow time for Jakarta to sort out its real position.

Second, it reminds us that the relationship is inherently volatile. We are close neighbours, and Indonesia has long had brittle relationships with all its neighbours. In fact, Malaysia and Singapore's relations with Indonesia are just as difficult as ours. Tensions are inevitable and we should not panic at the first sign of trouble.

Third, the relationship is becoming harder to manage under Jokowi. There are many reasons for this, but they include rising nationalism in Indonesia. A sort of prickly, defensive nationalism – particularly towards the West – is to be expected in countries that fought to win independence from European colonialism. It has never been entirely absent in Indonesia.

This was moderated somewhat by former president Yudhoyono's internationalist orientation and his efforts to present Indonesia as a good 'world citizen'. Intense competition between Jokowi and former general Prabowo Subianto in the 2014 election campaign quickly ratcheted up public nationalist rhetoric, however.

Ultra-nationalists like Nurmantyo, who does have some history of promoting conspiracy theories about foreign intervention and covert proxy wars in Indonesia, do not seem as out of place as they might have a few years ago. We need to be aware that its leaders are now more likely to take offence over trivial matters, such as training materials in a language course, if they are perceived as a slight to national pride.

Fourth, Australia no longer has a special friend in the palace. This is not to say that Jokowi is hostile to Australia, rather he is indifferent. For whatever reason, Yudhoyono was generally much more enthusiastic about Australia. Yes, he suspended defence, intelligence and people smuggling cooperation when he felt Australia had breached his trust by tapping his phone, but he clearly valued the bilateral relationship and often responded positively to Australian requests – even when it cost him political capital.

Jokowi, by contrast, was unmoved by the huge effort the Australian government undertook to save Australian drug offenders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, which he dismissed as 'foreign interference'. Jokowi is an embattled leader, dealing with challenges from within the elite and the rising power of Islamist hardliner groups like the Islamic Defenders Front. The bilateral relationship with Australia is well down his list of priorities.

Fifth, there are number of flashpoint issues that can always be relied on to disrupt the bilateral relationship. They include, among others: the status of West Papua with, as most Indonesians suspect, many Australians favouring the independence of Papua, which is predominantly Melanesian and Christian, unlike most of Indonesia; the loss of East Timor, still painful for many Indonesians, particularly in the armed forces; human rights concerns including, for example, capital punishment and the 1965-6 massacre of leftists in which General Sarwo Edhie Wibowo was involved; people smuggling; and military and intelligence activity in the region.

These are contentious issues because of different values in some cases (for example on capital punishment) and in others because of different understandings of history (for example, about West Papua). All, however, are aggravated by rising nationalism in Indonesia and rising anxiety about the Muslim world in Australia.

Sixth, our relationship with Indonesia – and our capacity to resolve inevitable tensions in the bilateral relationship – is not likely get much better in the years ahead. Even as our expertise on Indonesia declines, with Indonesian studies fast evaporating in schools and universities, Indonesia sees itself as 'rising': an emerging world player, economically and strategically.

It is the giant of Southeast Asia, with a population of 270 million, 10 times bigger than we are. All the rating agencies claim that Indonesia – despite its best efforts – will be in the top 10 economies by 2030 and in the top 5 by 2050, transforming the region.

Whether this is true or not, Indonesia's leaders believe it. They are also well aware that their sprawling archipelagic nation will be of vital strategic importance if war erupts in the South China Sea.

This means that, like it or not, things have shifted between Australia and Indonesia and Jakarta now sees us as the junior partner in the bilateral relationship. Even friendly opinion-makers there often ask why their country should care what Australia thinks – why do we matter?

Rightly or wrongly (and often it is not our fault), it will be up to us to take the initiative to repair relations when things go wrong. Many Australians will, understandably, greatly resent this, but it is not a matter of fairness or reasonableness, just realpolitik.

The hard truth is that in the years ahead, keeping the bilateral relationship with Indonesia stable – for our own benefit – will, unfortunately, require Australia to work much harder to keep things nice, and perhaps more than it should.

[Tim Lindsey is Malcolm Smith Professor of Asian Law and Director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne. This article was originally published on the Australian Outlook blog of the Australian Institute of International Affairs as "Indonesia's Inconvenient Truth".]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/military-spat-a-sign-of-things-to-come-for-bilateral-relationship/

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