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Indonesia News Digest 17 – May 1-7, 2017

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West Papua

Rave hospitality, but Indonesia fails West Papua with media freedom

Asia Pacific Report - May 7, 2017

David Robie, Jakarta – Indonesian hospitality was given a rave notice last week for hosting World Press Freedom Day 2017, but it was also given a huge black mark for its "gagging" of free discussion over West Papua violations.

Four days before the WPFD event got under way, prominent Papuan journalist Victor Mambor had warned in the New Internationalist that Indonesian double standards had imposed a silence over West Papua.

Even a Papuan protest outside the Jakarta Conference Centre venue was kept at the margins, ensuring most of the 1300 journalists, media academics and communication policy makers from 90 countries were unaware of the shocking press and human rights violations that continue almost daily in the Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua (collectively known as West Papua).

Al Jazeera broadcast the most comprehensive television report from its Jakarta bureau on media freedom and West Papua with both Titro.id website and The Jakarta Post also carrying reports. But for the rest, mostly silence.

Brutal attack on Yance Wenda

This was in spite of the brutal attack by police on Yance Wenda, a photographer for the Papuan news website Jubi, on the eve of the WPFD2017.

Wenda was arrested and beaten by police while covering a peaceful demonstration in support of a proposed United Nations referendum on self-determination in Sentani, a suburb of Jayapura, West Papua's largest city and regional capital.

Global media freedom organisations such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) immediately carried reports but this astonishingly didn't spill over into repercussions at WPFD.

As director of the Pacific Media Centre taking part in the Southeast Asian Consultative Roundtable on a Special Mechanism for the Protection of Safety of Journalists, I raised a plenary question about the "silence" over West Papua violations and got an informative answer from Atnike Sigiro of Forum Asia. But then back to the silence.

Impressive 'side forum' on Papua

I was privileged to be one of the three main speakers at the public "side forum" on a "Free Press in West Papua" seminar that night along with Victor Mambor, chief editor of Jubi and a former chair of the Papuan chapter of the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI); human rights lawyer Usman Hamid of the newly formed Amnesty International Indonesia; and moderator human rights lawyer Veronica Koman.

The seminar had a packed audience, including the IFJ's media rights barrister Jim Nolan, and impressive Papuan theatre props and the bird of paradise pen logo.

During the evening, I spoke about President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's broken promises on West Papua and developments about independent media coverage and the success of solidarity networks, including the Pacific Media Watchfreedom project.

"Indonesia as host of WPFD wanted to convince the international community that media freedom is in fact a priority," says Mambor.

"Unfortunately, the Indonesian government's record does not match its rhetoric, particularly in Papua and West Papua. These two provinces [that make up the region of West Papua] have faced serious issues: restrictions are placed on foreign journalists, while violence and discrimination against Papuan journalists and bribery are common occurrences."

Indonesia ranks 124th out of 180 on the RSF 2017 Press Freedom Index – a slight improvement on last year. The Indonesian government has claimed that 39 foreign journalists have been given permission to report in the West Papua region since President Widodo declared in May 2015 that access restrictions for foreign journalists would be lifted.

Journalists face harassment

However, research by the independent journalists union AJI shows that only 15 foreign journalists – including two New Zealand radio television crews – had been allowed into the region since then. And many face serious obstacles or actual harassments and detentions.

Writing in the New Internationalist, France 24 journalist Cyril Payen, whose 2015 documentary Indonesie: la guerre oubliee des Papous (Papua's Forgotten War) was condemned by Indonesian authorities and led to the journalist's "banning", said the president's promise was "too good to be true".

The French Ambassador in Jakarta was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says Payen. "During the tense meeting, the diplomat was told I had 'betrayed' their trust and that my film was 'biased'. And as a result, I would be denied any Indonesian visa from that day onwards. The president's promises had not lasted long."

Asep Komarudin, research coordinator of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers Jakarta), says a recent clampdown on websites raising issues of human rights violations is because the government claims that they include "separatist" content.

"We need to ensure that any restrictions meet accepted human rights standards," he says. Komarudin adds that websites should not be restricted unless there is a "clear, transparent" process recognised by law and carried out by an independent body – "not by the government".

Authorities banned suarapapua.com late last year and other blocked websites include ampnews.org, infopapua.org, papuapost.com, freepapua.com, freewestpapua.org, bennywenda.org and ulmwp.org

Winner of this year's US$25,000 UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is Eritrean/Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak, jailed 16 years ago by Eritrean authorities without charge or trial in a crackdown against the media. His daughter, Bethlehem, gave a passionate speech accepting the award on behalf of her father.

The Jakarta Declaration

In spite of the absence of any mention of West Papua, the participants at WPFD2017 adopted the Jakarta Declaration "unanimously" during the closing session.

The declaration has set down 74 articles that call for the commitment of all stakeholders to support free, independent and pluralistic media through the promotion of freedom of the press and expression in the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"We see the importance of Agenda 2030 on SDGs, particularly goal 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development," Zabrina Holmstrom of the Finland National Commission to UNESCO told the conference.

"Let's use the adopted Jakarta Declaration preluded in the Finlandia Declaration [last year]," she said. "We need critical minds for critical times. Stand up for your rights. There can't be a compromise in freedom of expression."

But that also means no compromise over West Papuan freedoms and justice.

[Professor David Robie is director of the Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology and was present at WPFD2017 as part of the media academic stream at the conference. This is his personal view.]

Source: http://asiapacificreport.nz/2017/05/07/rave-hospitality-but-indonesia-fails-west-papua-with-media-freedom-hypocrisy/

Media in Papua 'are not allowed to be free' because of self-determination demand

Tabloid JUBI - May 7, 2017

Zely Ariane, Jakarta, Jubi – Space for freedom of expression, especially for those who want to campaign for the right to self-determination or separatist issues in Papua, is deliberately limited. As a result all expression related to it is prohibited, repressed, or to be criminalized by application of the articles of treason.

This has direct implications for the restrictions on access to the press in and to Papua by foreign and local journalists, both for those who want to cover the issue and verify what is happening on the ground.

Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia Representative, Usman Hamid made the statement in a public discussion of Papua Side Event related to press freedom in West Papua at Century Park Hotel, Jakarta, Tuesday May 2 2017.

"The separatist discourse is one of the warmest topics in Indonesia, and of course Papua is in the spotlight. Indonesia has never compromised the issue since Soekarno era to post Soeharto. All related expressions are prohibited and repressed, or criminalized under the article," said Usman Hamid.

He explained that Papua once had experienced a "spring" of freedom of expression in the era of Abdulrahman Wahid (Gusdur) government, but did not last long after Megawati served and followed by SBY.

In the era of Joko Widodo, there was a fresh breeze to open space for journalist's access, but the reality on the field showed differently.

"Under Jokowi today, the reality in the field is different from the promises and statements. What is happening now is that "anyone van speaks about Papua as long as they don't damage Indonesia reputation, " said Usman.

On May 10, 2015 in an interview with Al Jazeera, President Joko Widodo once stated that he has ordered all parties in Papua, including the military and police to open access for foreign journalists, including removing special procedures or 'clearing house' (a special procedure of coverage for foreign journalists).

Restriction by Military territorial command

Usman noted there are some restrictions that repel freedom of expression in Papua. It takes form of access restrictions (media), content restrictions, blocking and manipulation of information/news.

"The restriction of the content is used as a method to neutralize social media activities that are considered harmful to the country. Website blocking occurred since SBY, there were four (websites) in his era and added about ten (websites) recently. Even the past few years began to develop groups that are believed to be 'artificial military/intelligence' that do cyber bully against the pro-self determination online activities," he said.

After working hard, Usman claimed to have successfully discussed the matter with the Ministry of Communications and Information (Kominfo) until finally they acknowledge that the blocking was at the request of Indonesian military.

"In this case is the KODAM (Teritorial Military Command) in Papua. So it is not through court, or through other legal mechanisms to justify the blocking," Usman said.

Particularly with regard to restrictions on Papua news portal suarapapua.com, Usman sees it as politically charged, "the most frequent visit to the website is from the Ministry of Defense, meaning they are monitoring the website constantly," he said.

International pressure

Although restricted in such a way, the expression and news related to issues of self-determination and human rights violations in Papua are increasingly creative in foreign media.

David Robie, Director of Pacific Media Center (PMC) and university lecturer in Auckland, New Zealand at the Papua Side Event's discussion showed several creative artistic campaigns through online media and social media on West Papua issues.

"The West Papua creative campaign is conducted by diasporas (Papuans living abroad) and solidarity in the Pacific. These brought a lot of information to the public abroad," said the journalist who has been active across the globe for more than 40 years.

It makes international pressure increasing. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on May 2 condemned the Indonesian government's 'double game' attitude which on one hand hosted the WFPD 2017, but on the other hand continued violations of journalist's freedom of rights in Papua.

The RSF's criticism was related to the violence against Jubi journalist Yance Wenda by the Jayapura Resort Police on May 1.

"We strongly condemn police violence against Yance Wenda, and we call for investigations of the perpetrators and their superiors who have encouraged the brutality, and brought the case to justice," said Benjamin Ismaïl, head of the RSF Asia-Pacific.(*)

Source: http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/media-papua-not-allowed-free-self-determination-demand/

60% of Papuans reject separation from Indonesia

Jakarta Post - May 6, 2017

Jakarta – The majority of indigenous people in Papua reject separation from Indonesia, while less than one-fifth Papuans support the idea of separatism, according to a survey published on Friday.

The survey conducted by Indikator Politic research institute showed that 60 percent of Papuans wanted to stay under the control of Jakarta while 18 percent did not. The survey took place from March 23 to April 3 in 24 regions across the Papua. 22 respondents refused to answer the questioner.

"Most of them are loyal to the country, while 22 percent of them had no opinion," Indikator Politik research director Hendro Prasetyo said to the media on Friday, adding that the survey used multistage random sampling through serial interviews with seven hundred people.

77 percent of respondents are satisfied with President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's work in the easternmost province. Through the research it was also revealed that basic needs such as clean water, health, education and infrastructure remain the most important issues for Papuans. (hol)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/06/60-of-papuans-reject-separation-from-indonesia.html

Pacific nations back West Papuan self-determination

Radio New Zealand International - May 6, 2017

A coalition of Pacific Island nations has delivered an emphatic call to the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states to back West Papuan self-determination.

Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands delivered a joint statement at the ACP's Council of Ministers in Brussels.

It condemned Indonesian human rights violations in Papua, including alleged crimes against humanity and called for an eventual resolution that includes support of the right of West Papuan political self-determination.

Delivering the statement, a Vanuatu government envoy Johnny Koanapo told the Council that "apartheid-like colonial rule" was "slowly but surely" going to wipe out West Papuans as a people "while... the world stood by."

African and Caribbean countries in the the 79-member group of mainly former colonised territories have voiced strong support for West Papuan self-determination at subcommittee and ambassadorial level during the past two months

Mr Koanapo said that the day's discussion "now sets up the great likelihood of a resolution on the full range of West Papua issues at the next ACP ministerial council meeting", scheduled for November.

It's the latest in a string of high-level representations by the International Coalition for Papua since last year that have taken the issue of West Papua to a new level of diplomatic activity.

The seven Pacific nations, who are in coalition with Pacific regional church bodies and civil society networks, raised concern about West Papuan human rights at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva two months ago, and also at the UN General Assembly last September.

Indonesia's government has rejected criticism at the UN level, accusing the Pacific countries of interference and supporting Papuan separatism.

Jakarta says human rights abuses in Papua are largely historical, and that the incorporation of the western half of new Guinea into Indonesia is final. However, support from other governments for resolution of ongoing human rights infringements in Papua is gaining momentum.

Criticism of the flawed plebiscite by which the former Dutch New Guinea was incorporated into the young state of Indonesia in the 1960s has effected renewed calls for a genuine self-determination process.

At yesterday's Brussels meeting Papua New Guinea's ambassador, whose country shares a 760km-long border with Indonesia at West Papua, was the only delegate to speak against ACP moving forward on a resolution on the matter.

Joshua Kalinoe said that "no one is denying that the human rights violations are going on" but suggested that a fact-finding mission to West Papua might be necessary for the ACP to get an accurate picture of the situation.

Guinea-Bissau's Ambassador Alfredo Lopez Cabral spoke next, comparing the plight of West Papua to East Timor, which Indonesia occupied for 24 years before a mounting legacy of conflict gave way to an independence referendum in 1999.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/330203/pacific-nations-back-west-papuan-self-determination

Pacific nations condemn Indonesia's human rights violations at ACP

Pasifik - May 5, 2017

The Pacific Island nations of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands delivered a hard-hitting joint statement today condemning Indonesia's human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, at the Council of Ministers of the 79-member Africa Caribbean Pacific Group of States (ACP) and called for an eventual resolution that includes support of the right of West Papuan political self-determination.

The statement, made by Johnny Koanapo, a high-ranking member of the Republic of Vanuatu parliament and Parliamentary Secretary for the Office of the Vanuatu Prime Minister, transfixed the packed council room as he graphically described Indonesia's violations and West Papuans' 'slow-motion genocide'.

West Papua, the western half of New Guinea, the world's second largest island, has been under Indonesian rule since the 1960s.

Koanapo said that the seven Pacific nations were 'very concerned [that] the international community had neglected the voices of the Papuan people over the last 50 years'.

The ACP, he stated, was the right place to seek further support for the plight of West Papua because African and Caribbean countries are 'the oldest defenders of West Papua's right to self-determination' and consistently tried to defend the Melanesian West Papuans as they 'were passed from one colonizer to another' more than a half century ago. The ACP, which was founded in 1975, is comprised of almost all former colonies itself.

As some among the hundreds of country delegates and staff nodded in strong agreement, Koanapo called Indonesian governance and massive state-backed settlement an 'Apartheid-like colonial rule' that was 'slowly but surely' going to wipe out the West Papuans as a people 'while... the world stood by'.

Estimates of indigenous West Papuans killed during Indonesia's rule range from 10 to 25 per cent of the population, he said, or several hundred thousand people. He added that Indonesia's own National Commission on Human Rights has described its country's actions as crimes against humanity.

"According to numerous reports, those deaths and all the associated acts – the violent arrests of non-violent protestors, the beatings, the torture, rape, disappearances, extra-judicial executions, intimidation of the local Papuan media, the barring of foreign media from the territory – have continued through the 20 years of [Indonesian] democracy," Koanapo said. "However, this forgotten race [is] still fighting."

Under a policy of state-supported population movement, more than two million Indonesians have also settled in the territory. They now outnumber the indigenous Papuans and dominate the economy and almost every arena of life in the cities, towns, coastal areas and growing zones of mining, logging, gas and oil production and plantation agriculture.

After the meeting, Koanapo stated that the day's discussion sets up the great likelihood of a resolution on the full range of West Papua issues at the next ACP ministerial council meeting, which is scheduled for this coming November. A number of ministers and ambassadors later approached Koanapo to thank him for his 'extraordinarily powerful' speech.

During the past several years, the coalition of Pacific Island nations, echoing the West Papuans, has argued in regional and international venues that Indonesian violations will not be ended by focusing just on human rights. There needs to be a proper act of self-determination or the conflict, which damages Indonesia, as well as West Papua, will continue indefinitely. The ACP appears to be coming to the same conclusion.

This is the fourth round of ACP discussions and sharing of information on West Papua. ACP meetings at the subcommittee and ambassadorial level during the past two months have elicited almost universal affirmations of strong support for West Papuan self-determination among delegates from Africa and the Caribbean.

At today's Council of Ministers, the Papua New Guinea ambassador Joshua Kalinoe, whose country shares a 760km-long border with its powerful Indonesian neighbour, was the only delegate to speak against ACP moving forward on such a resolution in the months ahead.

The PNG ambassador conceded that no one is denying that the human rights violations are going on. He suggested that a fact-finding mission to West Papua might be necessary for the ACP to get a clearer picture of the situation.

Ambassador Alfredo Lopez Cabral from Guinea-Bissau spoke directly after the PNG ambassador, comparing the plight of West Papua to East Timor, which Indonesia violently invaded and occupied for 24 years. More than one quarter of East Timor's population reportedly died as a direct result of Indonesian rule.

Guinea-Bissau and other former Portuguese African colonies were leaders in the long campaign on behalf of East Timor, which had earlier been a colony of Portugal, and is now the independent country of Timor Leste.

Ambassador Cabral said that there was no reason why the ACP shouldn't take up the issue and help West Papua gain a similar referendum on independence to what East Timor finally received after the fall of Indonesia's Suharto dictatorship in 1998 and mounting international pressure.

West Papuans have long argued that they are geographically, racially and culturally part of the Melanesian Pacific, not Asian Indoneisa. During the 1940s and 1950s, even leaders of the Indonesian independence movement, such as Mohammed Hatta, his country's first vice-president, stated that Papua had not been part of the Indonesian struggle and needed to become a separate nation. At the time, observers expected West Papua to become the first independent Pacific Island nation. – ACP

Source: https://pasifik.news/pacific-nations-condemn-indonesias-human-rights-violations-acp-meeting/

Indonesian bishop criticizes mega Jesus statue project

UCA News - May 4, 2017

Benny Mawel, Jayapura – A Catholic bishop in Indonesia's Papua province has criticized a plan by local authorities in Jayapura to build "the world's tallest statue of Jesus," calling the move a waste of much-needed money.

Djuli Mambaya, head of Papua's public work agency, told reporters last week that construction would cost 300 billion rupiah (US$23 million) and begin sometime next year.

Planners say the statue at 73 meters high would dwarf the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which is 38 meters high. A museum will also be built that would highlight Papua's Christian and cultural heritage, they said.

The announcement brought swift condemnation by the local Catholic bishop. "It's unnecessary. The money should be allocated for more urgent things such as education, health and alleviating poverty," Franciscan Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar of Jayapura told ucanews.com.

Papua governor, Lukas Enembe said the project aims to dispel perceptions that Papau is a place of violence and attract visitors to the Christian-majority province. "It will be an icon and a symbol of Christianity in Papua," he said.

About 65 percent of Papua's 3.2 million people are Protestant, while about 18 percent are Catholic.

Bishop Laba Ladjar said the local government should sit down with church leaders "and address more important issues, such as poverty, killings, and other forms of crimes that are against Christian values."

Yuliana Woi, a vegetable seller in Jayapura, said although the statue was a good idea in principle, the government needed to get its priorities right by placing the interests of local people first.

Building a market so people do not have to sell their wares on the street would be a start, she said. "A statue will not change our lives, but being able to sell things will," she said.

Yan Kristian Warinusi from the Reformed Evangelical Church in Papua doubted whether the statue would prove a big tourist draw.

He said a 30-meter high statue of Christ -­ so far the largest in Indonesia ­- erected a few years ago in Mansinam Island in West Papua to commemorate the arrival of two German Protestant missionaries on Feb. 5, 1855, has failed to attract visitors.

"It has not had a positive impact for Christianity. Every Feb. 5, people come and take photos, and then leave and forget about it," he said.

The government would be better off channel the budget for this new statue to religious institutions or churches to support evangelization work, Warinusi said.

Source: http://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesian-bishop-criticizes-mega-jesus-statue-project/79127

Papua yet to see freedom of press: AJI

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has recorded two cases of violence against journalists in the past two weeks.

On May 1, Jayapura Police officers in Papua assaulted Yance Wenda, a local journalist working for Jubi daily and tabloidjubi.com while he was covering the arrest of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) activists.

The police hit Yance with a rattan stick, causing injuries on his eyes, head and back, then took his bag and forcibly detained him, the report states. Three days earlier, three television journalists from Metro TV, Jaya TV and TVRI experienced intimidation by unknown groups while covering a trial in Wamena District Court, forcing them to delete their video recordings of the trial without police protection, AJI said.

"Violence and intimidation against journalists remain facts of life in Papua. The aforementioned cases happened that happened within only one week has shown how press freedom in Papua is poorly protected." AJI chairman Suwarjono said during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC) on Wednesday.

According to Suwarjono, the government's promises to protect and open access for foreign press in Papua remains empty.

AJI found that only 15 foreign journalists were granted access to Papua in the last two years. Radio France journalist Marie Dumieres was closely monitored by the police when she was working on her story in the province. In March, Franck Jean Pierre Escudie and Basille Marie Longchamp, journalists for The Explorers Network were deported. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/papua-yet-to-see-freedom-of-press-aji.html

Alleged stabbing by soldiers in Papua investigated

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua – Lt. Col. Yusman Mandayun, the chief of staff of the Praja Wirabraja Military command in Biak, Papua, has been assigned to lead the team set up to investigate the alleged stabbing of two civilians by soldiers in Paniai, Papua, on May 1.

"The team has been deployed to Paniai. If military personnel are found to be responsible, they will certainly face punishment," Cendrawasih Military Command spokesman Col. Teguh Raharjo said on Wednesday.

The incident reportedly took place at a kiosk in Uwibutu village. The two men were suspected of stealing from the kiosk, whose owner then reported it to a nearby military post. Two soldiers went to the scene and were involved in a struggle with the men, Teguh said.

But Teguh brushed off reports that the victims had been stabbed. According to him, the soldiers in question did not carry bladed weapons. "The victims were injured because they ran off and were injured by sharp roof tiles," he said.

Paniai Customary Council head John Gobay had a different version of the incident. According to his statement sent to The Jakarta Post, the two civilians whom he identified as Yustinus Degei, 32, and Yosia Degei, 27, left the kiosk because they were not being served but the owner accused them of stealing soap.

Yustinus, said John, suffered stab wounds from the chin to his right ear while Yosia was stabbed in the back. "I hope the perpetrators are held to account," John said. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/alleged-stabbing-by-soldiers-in-papua-investigated.html

West Papuan pair stabbed by military in Paniai

Radio New Zealand International - May 3, 2017

Two West Papuans were stabbed by military personnel in Paniai regency of Indonesia's Papua province. Police in Papua confirmed that the incident arose from a melee at a general store, or kiosk, in Paniai's capital Madi.

According to witness statements, a fight broke out when a man tried to rob the store. Indonesian military personnel quickly arrived on the scene and brought the clash to a halt by stabbing two young men.

Police say the two men, aged 31 and 18, were taken to Paniai's main hospital where they are in a serious but stable condition.

Jayapura developments

Meanwhile, Indonesian police reportedly arrested at least 50 Papuans in the provincial capital Jayapura for participation in a public discussion and prayer event. Suara Papua reports that of the dozens taken into custody, 26 Papuans are understood to have been tortured.

Their public event had reportedly been organised by the West Papua National Committee to protest over a significant date in Papua's history. On 1 May 1963, the United Nations gave temporary administration of West Papua to Indonesia.

Additionally, reports from Jayapura indicate a Papuan journalist who was covering the 1 May public event was mistreated by police.

The journalist, Yance Wenda, has published photos of his injured body after he had been taken to the police station where he said officers beat him with a rattan cane.

Mr Wenda sustained injuries to his torso, mouth and eyes despite carrying a legitimate letter of authorisation from his employer to cover the event.

Indonesia is today hosting a major conference to mark World Press Freedom Day in Jakarta.

According to Indonesia's Antara news agency, Chief Police Brigadier Awaluddin Elwakhan was shot by an armed civilian in Tiom, Lanny Jaya District, Papua, on Monday.

The police officer was in a kiosk located in Tiom Market when an armed man shot him twice in the back of his head, according to a spokesman of the Papua Provincial Police.

The unidentified gunman fled towards Yiginoa after shooting the officer, the spokesman remarked. Elwakhan was injured and rushed to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/329958/west-papuan-pair-stabbed-by-military-in-paniai

No talk of Papua at Press Freedom Day

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – Indonesia is currently enjoying the privilege of hosting this year's World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) celebration, themed "Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media's Role in Advancing Peaceful Just and Inclusive Societies."

Held from May 1 to 4, the event focuses on strengthening the freedom and quality of journalism to advance peace, justice for all and the rule of law, as well as inclusiveness.

Concerns, however, have mounted as the event, which is coorganized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Indonesian government and the Press Council, does not include any events discussing press freedom in Papua and West Papua provinces. Indonesian and foreign journalists have for years complained about difficulties in getting access to cover the area.

Press Council chairman Yosep Adi Prasetyo confirmed that the event's organizers had never intended to include discussions about press freedom challenges in Papua. "[The issue of press freedom in Papua] is a domestic affair while this event is an international forum where we focus more on discussing issues that are relevant both locally and internationally," he said on Tuesday.

Reports by rights watchdogs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), have highlighted that journalists reporting in Papua have faced harassment, intimidation and at times violence from security forces and pro-independence forces when reporting on sensitive topics, including alleged human rights abuses.

Despite President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's announcement in May 2015 that Papua would be open to foreign media, authorities have reportedly continued to restrict foreign journalists' access to Papua on spurious "security" grounds, HRW stated.

"We cannot solve the matter [at the WPFD event], only Jokowi's administration can. Other countries can't meddle in this affair, because of non-interference principles," Yosep said, adding that the council had visited Papua to discuss the concerns with the police and military, urging them to grant access to and support Indonesian and foreign journalists to cover Papua.

The 2017 WPFD features workshops and training sessions as pre-events prior to the opening ceremony which falls on the celebration of WPFD on May 3.

More than 1,500 journalists, 500 of whom are foreign journalists from 90 countries, are expected to attend the annual event in the capital that will be officially opened by Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Wednesday.

Tuesday's highlight was a roundtable on Special Mechanism for Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists in Southeast Asia.

Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara said during the roundtable that, compared to neighboring countries, the Indonesian press had experienced more freedom since the beginning of the Reform Era. Since then, the press has been governed by the 1999 Press Law and the government has never intervened, he added.

"All stakeholders want democracy and freedom of expression to be maintained to guard Indonesia's unity while journalists should obey ethics codes," he said.

The annual event will be closed with the adoption of the Jakarta Declaration on Thursday. It will also present the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, an award named in honor of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogota in 1986.

This year's prize goes to an imprisoned Eritrean-Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak, who was arrested during a media crackdown that occurred in Sept. 2001. The last time he was heard from was in 2005 and his present location is unknown.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/no-talk-of-papua-at-press-freedom-day.html

Press freedom day event criticized for sidelining Papua issue

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – Human rights activists have invited journalists and participants of the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) conference in Jakarta to attend a side event highlighting the lack of press freedom in restive Papua, which is not discussed in the four-day conference.

The WPFD event, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Senayan from May 1 to May 4, is sponsored by the Indonesian government, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Indonesian Press Council (PWI).

"Human rights abuses in Papua are related to press restrictions [in Papua]. We are trying to raise awareness [about press freedom in Papua] by inviting journalists and participants of World Press Freedom Day to the side event," Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer and organizer of the side event, told the Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

The side event, which Veronica said was being held as a criticism against the conference, will be held on Tuesday night at Century Park Hotel, also in Senayan.

Senior Papuan journalist Victor Mambor, Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid and David Robie of New-Zealand based organization Pacific Media Watch are listed as speakers in the event held by human rights groups.

Press Council chairman Yosep "Stanley" Adi Prasetyo confirmed that the Papua issue was not included in the WPFD meeting, calling it "domestic affair." "This is an international forum. What we are discussing are the relations between Indonesian and international issues," he said. (mrc/ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/02/press-freedom-day-event-criticized-for-sidelining-papua-issue.html

Briefly arrested for commemorating May 1, Jayapura resort police

Tabloid JUBI - May 2, 2017

Arjuna Pedemme, Jayapura, Jubi – Jayapura Resort Police said that they had sent dozens of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) arrested in Sentani, Jayapura Regency, Monday (May 1), when they were about to hold the commemoration of Papua Annexation Day, May 1, 1963.

Jayapura Police Chief, AKBP. Gustav Urbinas confirmed that they had 'secured' as many as 53 people of KNPB supporters. However, after being identified, they were then discharged. "It has been released at 16:00 PM, we only identified their data, questioned, then sent them home."

They were 'secured' when they are going to hold activities. "But its activities without notice to the police," said AKBP. Gustav Urbinas to Jubi via phone, Monday (May 1).

According to him, since the action will be conducted in the community area and involves many people, the police took the masses to the local Polres to ask about the activities undertaken and its purpose. "They held an activity in Sekertariat KNPB in BTN Purwodadi," he said.

The police chief also denied the information obtained by Jubi mentioning that in the police has damaged the Sentani KNPB Secretariat and ransacked the property of KNPB and public around the secretariat.

"Oh, no, no, we only secure materials that are against the Unitary Republic of Indonesia, materials such as KNPB flags, cloths, documents and all that, and personal items have been returned," he said.

Agus Pahabol, secretary of KNPB Sentani confirmed to Jubi May 1 that their secretariat were being raid and damaged the facilities and repainted the walls of the house. They also seized KNPB's belongings.

He confirmed 53 people as the first arrest, but he said dozens to 200 other were also taken away and brought to the police station but they were kept at the front of the police station.

Bazoka Logo, spokesman of KNPB Central as quoted from suarapapua.com said that at 07.36 AM, the police came to the Secretariat KNPB Sentani region and forced the masses to disperse. (Editor: Zely Ariane)

Source: http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/briefly-arrested-commemorating-may-1-jayapura-resort-police-released-dozen-knpb-activists/

Three Papuan journalists were threatened with murder

Tabloid JUBI - May 2, 2017

David Sobolim, Jayapura, Jubi – Two days before World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2017 in Jakarta, violence and intimidation again experienced by journalists in Papua.

"Three TV journalists are being harassed, threatened, their cameras were deprived and the photographs to be removed in an election criminal violation trial by General Election Commission of Tolikara at Wamena District Court Office, Jayawijaya, Papua, last Friday (April 28)" said Riyanto Nay, Association of Indonesian Television Journalists (IJTI) Papua through their release aired on Saturday (April 29) morning.

Described by Riyanto, this threat began when three journalists respectively, Ricardo Hutahaen (Metro TV), Audi (Jaya TV) and Mesak (TVRI), done their coverage of the trial. Initially, when the three journalists entered the third courtroom, they were banned to take pictures by the presiding judge who led the trial.

The judge had asked the origin of the three television journalists. After all three gave their identity, they were allowed taking pictures freely without disturbing the trial.

"The mob sitting in the room had forbidden the three journalists to take pictures but the presiding judge defended them," said Riyanto.

When the trial resumed after being suspended, the three journalists sat down to interview the court. But suddenly 20 people came to them.

"They threatened to kill the three journalists if they did not remove the pictures they had taken, and even Ricardo cameras were taken away and (and the photographs) were forcibly removed, they also dismissed the three journalists from the courtroom that journalists had to secure themselves out of the Wamena District Court," Riyanto said.

The three journalists, officially reported the threat against journalistic work to Wamena Mapolres, Saturday morning.

Separately, IJTI Chairman Yadi Hendrayana, in a written statement sent Saturday, said the IJTI and the Anti-Violence Task Force of the Press Council will advocate and investigate the actions taken by a number of individuals to the TV journalist in Wamena, Papua, while covering the trial of election violation of Tolikara Regency Election Commission.

Yadi firmly asks for police to be more serious and to take firm action against anyone, civil or non-civilian, who has threatened and perpetrated violence against journalists.

Early 2017, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) of Jayapura City released a report of violence against journalists throughout 2016. At least 10 cases of violence against journalists in Papua during 2016. These cases include beatings, destruction of facilities for coverage, reporting to the authorities against coverage content, and expulsion of journalists who want to confirm a particular issue to the resource person.

"The removal of photos and videos is related to the coverage of sensitive issues such as the Papuan independence movement," said Coordinator of the AJI Advocacy Division of Jayapura, Fabio Maria Lopes Costa in his press release early in 2017.

The cases occurred in Timika, Wamena, Jayapura City, Nabire, Dogiyai, Manokwari, and Sorong. Three cases were in Jayapura City, two cases in Wamena, and the rest each in other five areas.

Among the 10 cases, seven cases are freedom of the press that related to the security apparatus, two cases with security forces, and one case with DPRD members.

"In conclusion, violation of press freedom in Papua is apparently conducted by parties who are members of the three pillars of democracy, namely the executive, judicial, and legislative," added Fabio. (Editor: Zely Ariane)

Source: http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/three-papuan-journalists-threatened-murder/

Aceh

Activists cry foul as Simpang KKA 'atrocity' remains unresolved after 18

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – It has been 18 years to the day, but the government is yet to resolve an alleged gross human rights violation in Aceh in which Indonesian military personnel reportedly shot hundreds of people protesting against a previous shooting incident.

The alleged shooting, known as Simpang KKA incident, also known as the Dewantara atrocity, occurred on May 3, 1999, and claimed 39 lives and injured 36 people. Ten people have remained unaccounted for.

The incident happened when the province was under martial law rule, which was lifted in 2005.

On Wednesday, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) reported that families of victims were conducting a ziarah (pilgrimage) to the burial sites of their loved ones. After that, they staged a silent protest to express disappointment that the case has remained unresolved.

"If the government has no will to find a solution, an international body should handle the matter," stated a joint release by Kontras and the Coalition of Truth Revelation for Aceh. They also questioned President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's promise to resolve all past human rights cases and end the impunity of alleged perpetrators.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) investigation in 2014 also revealed that the Simpang KKA incident constituted a gross human rights violation and recommended a legal process but the Attorney General's Office (AGO) refused it. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/activists-cry-foul-as-simpang-kka-atrocity-remains-unresolved-after-18-years.html

Human rights & justice

Top Indonesian rights activists upbeat about joining Komnas HAM

Jakarta Post - May 6, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Three globally acknowledged human rights activists are on the list of candidates selected to enter the next screening stage for new leaders of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) for the 2017-2022 period.

Along with 57 other candidates, the three activists passed a written examination held by a government-sanctioned selection team in charge of the recruitment.

They are former Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) executive director Rafendi Djamin, who also served at the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) from 2009-2015, HRWG's freedom of religion senior advisor Choirul Anam, who is also the Committee of Solidarity Action for Munir (Kasum) leader, and outspoken activist Haris Azhar, former coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).

As a Kasum leader, Choirul has taken a lead in efforts to push the government to solve the long-abandoned murder case of prominent human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

"To become a Komnas HAM commissioner is a big responsibility, especially amid a lack of public support given to the institution," Choirul told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

"I hope I can win the trust of the public to serve the institution and to do what must be done, especially to resolve the prolonged cases of past gross abuse," he added.

The three well-known activists and other selected candidates from various professional backgrounds will attend a public debate on May 17 and 18.

"We invite the public to participate in the process by providing us with information, including on the track records [of the candidates]," selection team member Makarim Wibisono said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/06/top-indonesian-rights-activists-upbeat-about-joining-komnas-ham.html

Komnas Perempuan urges gov't to guarantee human rights following UN

Jakarta Globe - May 4, 2017

Jakarta – The National Commission on Violence Against Women, or Komnas Perempuan, urged the government to adopt international recommendations on human rights issues voiced during the country's review at the 27th session of the UN Universal Periodic Review, or UPR, in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday (03/05).

In a press statement received by the Jakarta Globe, Komnas Perempuan emphasized the need to implement UPR's recommendations to ensure justice for victims of human rights abuses in the country.

Indonesia's review by the UPR was its third since the council was created in 2006 to record human rights abuses by member countries of the United Nations. The Southeast Asian country was previously reviewed in 2008, and again in 2012.

According to Komnas Perempuan, who sent two commissioners to the Geneva review, four human rights issues in the country were highlighted by fellow member states.

Those include Indonesia's continued application of the death penalty, religious intolerance and discrimination toward minorities, women's rights issues and the need to guarantee the rights of vulnerable groups.

"Human rights are part of our DNA as a democratic, pluralist and diverse nation," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said during her opening speech at the session.

Retno added that Indonesia has made a lot of progress since its most recent UPR in 2012 by enacting a series of human rights-based legislative measures and increasing cooperation with civil society institutions in the country.

At least 55 member states highlighted the need to guarantee women's rights in their recommendations, outlining a course of action for the government to take to prevent harmful practices against women and minority groups, including child marriage and female circumcision.

Many states emphasized the government's duty to end impunity enjoyed by certain sects of Indonesian society for past human rights abuses.

"Indonesia needs to adopt fellow member states' recommendations to the largest extent possible, as a form of commitment to the progress of human rights and a form of respect toward other nations," Komnas Perempuan said in its statement.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/komnas-perempuan-urges-govt-guarantee-human-rights-following-un-review/

Death penalty, religious intolerance focus at Indonesia's UN rights

Asia Correspondent - May 4, 2017

Max Walden – Executions for drug crimes, rising religious intolerance, and the repression of activists and journalists in Papua were some major criticisms lodged against Indonesia's human rights record at the nation's Universal Periodic Review in Geneva on Wednesday.

The delegations from around 100 countries lined up to comment on the condition of human rights in Indonesia, with a slew of states from Europe, Africa and the Americas recommending that Indonesia re-impose a moratorium on the death penalty and steps towards the elimination of capital punishment.

The United Nations Human Rights Council conducts the UPR for each member state every five years, providing an opportunity for other nations to analyse progress and highlight concerns.

While states parties applauded Indonesia's progress in pursuing the protection of rights for some vulnerable groups such as women, children and people with disabilities, Indonesia's high-level delegation was faced with widespread calls to better protect religious and LGBT minority groups.

Indonesia staunchly defends executions

Long a diplomatic sticking point with nations around the globe, Indonesia came under heavy criticism from dozens of countries for its continued use of capital punishment for people convicted of drug offences.

Indonesian Justice and Human Rights Minister Yassona Laoly pushed back against the criticism, stating that continuing to implement the death penalty was important for addressing the nation's drug problems.

"Each day 33 persons... die because of drug abuse," he said. "If you are a family member of the drugs victims, surely you will understand."

Yassona continued that "the rights of the offender must always be weighed against the rights of the victims," but that without strict punishments to contain drug use, "the future of the nation will become bleak."

"As a democratic country, public discourse on the implementation of the death penalty is ongoing in Indonesia," he said.

Fears of hardline Islam, persecution of minorities

Many delegations cited the recent gubernatorial elections in Jakarta as cause for concern over growing intolerance and religious extremism in Indonesia.

The Christian, ethnically Chinese incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was defeated last month after a religiously-charged campaign that saw hardline Muslim groups shut down the capital numerous times with mass demonstrations.

The focus of the United States' statement was protecting minority rights including religious freedom, while Sweden explicitly called for Indonesia to review its controversial 1965 blasphemy law under which Ahok was charged.

But an Indonesian delegation member from the religious affairs ministry asserted that "the rights of everyone to freedom of thought and religion... is a constitutional right", noting Indonesia's observance of religious holidays as proof of its pluralistic and tolerant approach.

Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi stated that two rounds of the election were conducted in a "free, transparent and peaceful manner" where both sides accepted the result and expressed their willingness to work together.

Quoting US Vice President Mike Pence's recent comments during a diplomatic visit in Jakarta, an Indonesian delegate added that Indonesian Islam remained an "inspiration to the world."

A raft of nations including Brazil, Norway and Switzerland urged Indonesia to implement greater protection for the rights of "sexual minorities" and the LGBTQI community.

Last year saw an upsurge in anti-homosexuality rhetoric, with the government actively banning LGBT-friendly social media applications.

More protection for some vulnerable groups

It was observed that since the last UPR session, Indonesia has ratified two optional protocols of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Migrant Workers convention, and many states lauded Indonesia's gains regarding the right to education and the rights of women and children.

The delegation from the Maldives praised Indonesia's progress in advancing education rights, noting a 95 percent literacy rate and a youth literacy rate of 99 percent.

Nevertheless, several delegations urged Indonesia to implement more principles from the UN Child Rights Convention into its domestic laws, in particular changing legislation that allows for marriage under the age of 18 and for minors to be imprisoned alongside adult offenders.

Pressed on child marriage, Indonesia claimed it had implemented initiatives to combat early marriage, including by improving family welfare programs and increasing awareness of the health risks of early pregnancy.

The representative pointed to religious edicts by a summit of female Islamic clerics last week, noting the country's religious affairs minister had supported recommendations to raise the legal marriage age from 16 to 18 and "will follow them up accordingly."

Challenged on the prevalence of female genital mutilation, an Indonesian delegate said that it was a "long held tradition and belief" but that the government was committed to raise awareness among medical and health workers on the issue.

Moreover, Marsudi said protection of migrant workers and their families was "one of the top priorities of Indonesian foreign policy."

The government had bolstered migrant worker rights through improving domestic policy, law enforcement and enhancing protecting efforts by Indonesian missions abroad, she said.

Papua and media freedom

New Zealand praised advances for indigenous people in Indonesia, including President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's return of 13,000 hectares to communities in North Sumatra and a pledge to return 2.7 million hectares by 2019.

But along with many other states parties, New Zealand also raised concerns about alleged human rights abuses, suppression of activists and a lack of media transparency in the Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia – a highly sensitive issue for Jakarta.

Marsudi asserted that Papua was an "integral part of the Republic of Indonesia," that the government "appreciate very much" the input of the international community "for the betterment of Papua."

Nevertheless, the minister pointed to "open, transparent, free and fair elections" and funding from Jakarta to Papua exceeded that given to most other parts of Indonesia due to their special autonomy status, she said.

Addressing criticism that foreign journalists were continuing to be restricted in their access to Papua, Marsudi said the issue "now has been addressed by the government... [which] has simplified the procedure of journalists applications."

Journalists visiting Papua and West Papua had "significantly increased," she said, with "more than 41 percent in 2015 compared to 2014."

Incidentally, Indonesia's capital Jakarta was chosen by Unesco to mark World Press Freedom Day 2017 on Wednesday.

Bangladesh, Belgium and Ecuador will author the final UPR report including recommendations, set for release on Friday May 5.

"Our progress is not without challenges and constraints," Marsudi told the Human Rights Council. "Our delegation will diligently look into and review each and every recommendation,"

Minister Marsudi was confident Indonesia's democratic system governance would allow Indonesia to address "remaining and emerging challenges." Indonesia would continue to promote human rights protection at the "national, regional and global level," she said.

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/05/death-penalty-religious-intolerance-focus-indonesias-un-rights-review/#LEi6cB6uMfSSloKf.99

May day 2017

Freeport workers go on strike for a month starting from May Day

Tempo.co - May 1, 2017

Antara, Timika – Thousands of Freeport Indonesia's workers in Mimika, Papua, are going on a strike that will last for a month from May 1 to 30, 2017, following a deadlocked negotiation with the company's management.

Yafet Panggala, head of the organization unit at the Chemical, Energy and Mining Workers Union (SP-KEP) of Freeport Indonesia, said on Monday in Timika that the strike commencement coincided with the International Workers Day, which is also known as May Day.

"We waited until 12 a.m. last night for the company's good faith to listen to our demands. But it didn't happen and there's no deal. Therefore, our letter notifying about the strike, which was sent to the company and government earlier, is valid," Yafet said.

According to Yafet, employees of contractors and Freeport's privatization companies will participate under 14 Work Units in the strike on May 9, 2017 as stated in a strike letter sent to the Mimika Manpower, Transmigration and Public Housings Agency.

Yafet asserted that Freeport's Workers Union will continue to be in communications with the company's management. Yafet guaranteed that the strike will cease if there is a deal with the management.

"The strike is not our goal, but it's a mean of our struggle. So, there should not be an allegation saying that we want to go on strike all the time. It's not like that," Yafet explained.

Yafet revealed that the union and Freeport have not reached an agreement related to the disciplinary actions against workers who violate the Cooperation Agreement and the Industrial Relationship Guidelines (PKB-PHI) 2015-2017.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2017/05/01/055871197/Freeport-Workers-Go-on-Strike-for-a-Month-Starting-from-May-Day

Activists rally in Medan, others spend May Day donating blood, food

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2017

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – Labor unions in Medan, North Sumatra, have marked May Day with various activities. While some took to the streets to demand salary increases on Monday, other labor activists arranged blood and food donation events.

Workers organized under Geram-SU held a rally at Bundaran Majestik, Jl. Gatot Subroto, Medan to voice major concerns of workers across the country, namely what they see as low wages and poor living conditions.

Mukhlis, a representative from Geram-SU, said employers were neglecting the rights of workers. "We have to unite in fighting corporations and officials who want to violate workers' rights for their own interests," Mukhlis said on Monday.

In contrast to Geram-SU, the Association of Indonesian Workers Union (GAPBSI) celebrated May Day with social activities, such as groceries and blood donations. The event, which was conducted at the youth center on Jl. Sutomo Ujung Medan, was attended by Medan Mayor Dzulmi Edin.

A GAPBSI member and the coordinator of the event, Usaha Tarigan, said social activities did not diminish the workers' core struggle to voice their aspirations on May Day. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/01/activists-rally-in-medan-others-spend-may-day-donating-blood-food.html

Labor protesters burn Ahok-Djarot's floral tributes

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2017

Winda A. Charmila, Jakarta – Labor protesters who gathered in the capital to commemorate May Day on Monday have burned floral arrangements sent to Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his deputy, Djarot Saiful Hidayat, at City Hall after being blocked from protesting in front of the State Palace.

The floral arrangements, which Jakarta residents dedicated to Ahok and Djarot as an expression of gratitude for their work, were piled up and burned by the protesters on Jl. Merdeka Barat.

Of the 40,000 protesters, hundreds of them had flocked in front of City Hall on Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan.

Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) head Jupan Royter said the alleged perpetrators apologized, saying it was a spontaneous act. "I think they felt uncomfortable with the presence of the [floral arrangements]. Therefore, they wanted to get rid of them," Jupan said.

During the protest, the workers demanded a salary increase and the revocation of the outsourcing practice. They were unable to reach the State Palace as the police had fenced off the area with barbed wire.

After months of a divisive Jakarta gubernatorial election heavily marred with sectarian issues, Ahok lost the election to Anies Baswedan, a former education minister.

The fires have been extinguished by Satpol PP and firefighters. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/01/labor-protesters-burn-ahok-djarots-floral-tributes.html

Route to State Palace blocked off for May Day rally, workers getting

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2017

Winda A. Charmila, Jakarta – Tens of thousands of workers staging a rally in commemoration of International Labor Day, or May Day, on Monday, have so far only been able to voice their aspirations on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat as the route to the State Palace is fenced off and fitted with barbed wire.

The workers initially planned to express their demands related to the revocation of wage regulations and outsourcing practices in front of the palace, but they could not get close enough to it due to the blocked road.

They screamed and asked security guards to open the blockade and let them in. "Let us in, Let us in," they shouted.

Things heated up when labor union leaders threatened to break the fence. "Let us to go to the State Palace or we'll break the fence," said Confederation of Indonesian Worker Unions (KSPI) chairman Said Iqbal on Monday.

According to the Jakarta Police, around 40,000 workers are participating in the rally. So far, no violence has erupted. To entertain themselves, the workers play musical instruments and sing songs together.

They are still trying to reach the State Palace. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/01/route-to-state-palace-blocked-off-for-may-day-rally-workers-getting-agitated.html

Yogyakarta Police prepare 2,000 personnel to guard May Day

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2017

Jakarta – The Yogyakarta Police have prepared 2,000 personnel to secure rallies and events celebrating International Labor Day, or May Day, on Monday.

"We have prepared more than 2,000 personnel for May Day to prevent any disruptions during the celebration," police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Yulianto said on Sunday as quoted by antaranews.com. He added that the police in each precinct would focus on securing their own areas.

Yulianto said this year's celebration would include seminars and gymnastics. Workers in Yogyakarta will also march from Abu Bakar Ali Park until Tugu Nol Kilometer.

The police claim no restrictions will be imposed on the festivities so long as they are conducted peacefully. "We hope no individuals will provoke the workers," he said. (rdi/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/01/yogyakarta-police-prepare-2000-personnel-to-guard-may-day.html

May Day rally in Yogyakarta highlights low wages, poverty

Detik News - May 1, 2017

Edzan Raharjo, Yogyakarta – International Labour Day or May Day was commemorated by a number of different groups with rallies in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta. The main location for the protests was the Jl. Malioboro shopping district and the zero kilometre point in front of the central post office.

Hundreds of labour activist from the Yogyakarta Labour Alliance (ABY) held an action along the length of Jl. Malioboro on Monday May 1. Riding motorcycles and taking up one lane they were accompanied by a police escort. Along the route they stopped at the Yogyakarta Regional House of Representatives (DPRD DIY) on Jl. Malioboro to give speeches.

The ABY highlighted low wages in Yogyakarta which is one of the reasons for the high levels of poverty in the province, poverty that is made worse by high levels of economic disparity.

ABY secretary general Kirnadi said that workers in Yogyakarta are faced with the reality that they are unable to afford to own their own homes due to the low wages they receive.

"With such low wages, the right to own a home for workers is little more than a daydream. Workers are faced with the reality of being homeless", said Kirnadi.

The 2017 minimum regional wage (UMK) in the four regencies and one municipality that make up Yogyakarta Special Province (DIY) are varied. For Yogyakarta city the 2017 UMK is 1,572,200 rupiah a month, for Sleman regency it is 1,448,385, Bantul 1,404,760, Kulon Progo 1,373,600 and for Gunungkidul 1,337,650.

During the action, they also called for the abolition of outsourcing and apprenticeships, improvements to social security, rejected revisions to Law Number 13, 2013 on Labour which would abolish severance pay, demanded that the Yogyakarta governor use Government Regulation 78/2015 on wages a guideline for wage policy and called for the application of policies on sectoral wages.

After giving speeches in front of the DPRD DIY, the workers drove to the nearby northern square were they continued the rally with a pemotongan tumpeng [the cutting of traditional yellow rice cones] cultural action. (sip/sip)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Ribuan Buruh Yogya Peringati May Day dengan Bermotor di Malioboro".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita-jawa-tengah/d-3488402/ribuan-buruh-yogya-peringati-may-day-dengan-bermotor-di-malioboro

May Day rally in Aceh calls for wage increases, fasting month bonuses

Detik News - May 1, 2017

Agus Setyadi, Banda Aceh – Workers in Indonesia's northern-most province of Aceh commemorated May Day with a convoy around the main streets of the capital Banda Aceh on Monday May 1. They also gave speeches in front of the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque and the Aceh Regional House of Representatives (DPRA).

The action began at around 9am where demonstrators from various parts of Aceh gathered in front of the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque and took turns in giving speeches before beginning the convoy.

A number of two- and four-wheeled vehicles and a truck were used for the convoy around the city where they conveyed their discontent. Several participants also brought megaphones.

The protesters were given a police escort which rode in front of the convoy on trail bikes. Upon arrival at the DPRA, they were directed to enter the grounds.

Aceh Labour Alliance (ABA) chairperson Saifulmar said that at this May Day rally Acehnese workers are calling on the government to increase the provincial minimum wage (UMP) by 650,000 rupiah. With such a rise, by 2018 the Aceh UMP would be 3,150,000 rupiah a month.

"Willing or not, like it or not, this is the workers' demand", Saiful[mar] told journalists during a break in the action.

In addition to this, Acehnese workers are also demanding that the government immediately issue a gubernatorial regulation (Pergub) to regulate Meugang Day bonuses. The Acehnese traditionally hold Meugang two days before the Ramadan holy fasting month.

"It's already getting close to the fasting month. We really hope that the government will issues a Pergub on Meugang bonuses. This is the dream of all workers in Aceh", explained Saiful.

During the action the workers also conveyed several other demands, both specific to Aceh and nationally. They also expressed hope that the provincial government would implement a new regulation providing six months maternal leave to pregnant workers in all government offices and companies.

"We also hope that the trading permits of "illegal companies" are immediately revoked because they bring suffering to workers", said Saiful. (imk/imk)

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "May Day, Buruh di Aceh Sampaikan Tuntutan Sambil Konvoi".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-3488434/may-day-buruh-di-aceh-sampaikan-tuntutan-sambil-konvoi

Freeport workers demand end to criminalization, intimidation of trade

Metro TV - May 1, 2017

Timika – Thousands of workers in Mimika, West Papua, commemorated International Labour Day or May Day by demanding that the Indonesian government immediately resolve the problems at the PT Freeport Indonesia (PFI) gold and copper mine.

The chairperson of the Mimika regency branch of the Indonesian Workers Union-Mining, Energy and Chemicals Trade Union (SPKEP-SPSI), Aser Gobai said that the workers' six demands are calling on the government to act swiftly to overcome the problems with PFI and protect the interests of workers.

"Along with ending the criminalisation of Sudiro, the head of the SPKEP-SPSI Freeport Indonesia work unit leadership body", said Aser as quoted by the Antara news agency on Monday May 1.

Aser called on all employees to unite and not be divided by the intimidation of workers. He said that some 32,000 PT Freeport employees have been oppressed and their rights stolen. Therefore all parties must unite so that PT Freeport benefits the employees, residents of Mimika and Indonesia.

The SPKEP-SPSI employees at Freeport made six demands during the rally which was held at the Timika square. They called on the government to immediately revoke Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on Wages which they say impoverishes Indonesian workers, improvements to social security services and to abolish outsourcing and exploitative apprenticeships.

They also called on the government to give workers the right to join unions by ending the intimidation and criminalisation of Indonesian trade unions and rejected revisions to Law Number 13/2013 on Labour that would abolish severance pay.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "Hari Buruh, Pekerja Tuntut Persoalan Freeport Dituntaskan".]

Source: http://ekonomi.metrotvnews.com/mikro/5b2jMreb-hari-buruh-pekerja-tuntut-persoalan-freeport-dituntaskan

May Day 2017: Abolish outsourcing and exploitative apprenticeships

Tempo.co - May 1, 2017

Rezki Alvionitasari, Jakarta – Thousands of workers commemorated International Labour Day today, Monday May 1, by gathering in front of the National Monument (Monas) gates on Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan and Jl. M. H. Thamrin in Central Jakarta and at the nearby Hotel Indonesia (HI) traffic circle.

The protesters from the Indonesian Multi-Sector Trade Union Federation (FSPASI) led the march from Monas to the HI traffic circle. The demonstrators at the front of the march held up banners reading, "Jokowi [President Joko Widodo]-JK [Vice President Jusuf Kalla] have Failed to Bring Prosperity to the People".

Following them was a command vehicle and a vehicle from the Indonesian Trade Union Association (ASPEK).

A number of rally participants brought their organisational flags such as the red-and-white flags of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) and the Indonesian Cement Workers Trade Union Federation (FSPSI).

Participants from the National Workers Union (SPN) meanwhile only marched around two lanes on Jl. M. H. Thamrin then returned to the nearby Arjuna Wiwaha Horse Statue.

KSPI president Said Iqbal said that one of the KSPI's demands on International Labour Day was calling on the government to abolish outsourcing and apprenticeships. "Abolish outsourcing and apprenticeships which is rampant", he said on Jl. M. H. Thamrin.

According to Iqbal apprenticeships are simply another form of outsourcing. The KSPI also rejects low wages and is calling on the government to revoke Government Regulation 28/2015 and reject revisions to Law Number 13/2003 on Labour.

The demonstrators however were unable to enter the area near the State Palace because access from Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat and Thamrin had been blocked off.

"The KSPI has already submitted a notification to the national police headquarters stating that site for our protest would be the Palace", he said.

Iqbal said he regretted the different treatment afforded to the May Day rally and the 212 Action [by Islamic hard-liners against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama].

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Hari Buruh 2017, Demo Buruh: Hapus Outsourcing dan Pemagangan".]

Source: https://m.tempo.co/read/news/2017/05/01/173871110/hari-buruh-2017-demo-buruh-hapus-outsourcing-dan-pemagangan

May Day rallies in Bandung highlight low wages, lack of healthcare

Tempo.co - May 1, 2017

Ahmad Fikri, Bandung – Actions by a variety of groups celebrating Labour Day or May Day on May 1 in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung were centred on Jl. Diponegoro in front of the Sate Building, the West Java governor's office.

"There were some who briefly conveyed their aspirations at the City Hall then they all gathered at the Sate Building", said metropolitan district police acting operational division chief Senior Deputy Police Commissioner Mahmud on Monday May 1.

The different labour organisations chose several locations in Bandung city as gathering points before moving off to the Sate Building. Mahmud said that police were on guard at several entry points into the city in order to escort labour groups to the Sate Building". "It's estimated that 2,500 people will participate", he said.

A number of workers from the greater Bandung area were also reported to have gone to Jakarta in order to join rallies in the capital. Around 259 people had set off for Jakarta and the West Java provincial police recorded 3 thousand workers planned to go to Jakarta.

According to Tempo's observations, the labour groups took turns in visiting the Sate Building to give speeches. The Indonesian Labor Union Confederation (Gaspermindo) for example rejected low wages.

"We reject low wages, reject outsourcing, and we are calling on the government to arrange cheap housing for workers", said West Java Gaspermindo chairperson Azhar Hariman on May 1.

A group of Bandung journalists also enlivened National Labour Day at the Sate Building. Bandung city Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) chairperson Ari Syahril Ramadhan highlighted the small number of trade union organisations in the media.

"[We're] inviting all journalists and media employees to form trade unions in their work place or form cross-media trade unions", he said.

The Bandung journalists also demanded that media companies fulfill the normative rights of media workers by providing standard minimum wages, allowances and holidays. They also protested the arbitrary dismissal of [Pikiran Rakyat] journalist Zaky Yamani.

The majority of workers who are part of the All Indonesian Workers Union (SPSI) arrived later. The hundreds of workers from the SPSI had earlier gathered at the Struggle Monument then marched on foot to the Sate Building.

The chairperson of the West Java SPSI Textile Trade Union Federation (FSP TSK SPSI) Roy Jinto said that the transfer of industrial relations supervision to provincial governments had not been effective. "Will it be optimal? Many companies don't implement the UMK [regional minimum wage] but the government just remains silent", he said.

Roy said that a number of demands by local workers related to sectoral wages have also never been agreed to by the governor claiming that decisions on sectoral wages for Bandung, Purwakarta and Karawang have never been signed off by the governor.

Highlighting low wages, Roy said that following the government's decision to tie annual wage rises to regional inflation rates, the government is now planning to revise Law Number 13/2003 on Labour, which workers reject. "The labour minister said that law 13 is not investor friendly so [they] want to revise it", he said.

The trade unions also demanded improvements to and additional healthcare facilities through the Social Security Management Agency (BPJS).

"We want improvements to services and more hospitals so that workers are no longer turned away by hospitals on the grounds that the beds are all full, yet we pay our dues but we never get BPJS healthcare facilities", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Aksi Buruh Peringati May Day Tumplek di Depan Gedung Sate".]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/news/2017/05/01/078871103/aksi-buruh-peringati-may-day-tumplek-di-depan-gedung-sate

On May Day, West Java farmers 'bury themselves alive' to protest against

Java Post - May 1, 2017

Rallies commemorating International Labour Day in Indonesia were not just held in Jakarta. In Karawang, West Java, it was also the case except there the commemorations were joined by farmers.

Farmers in the Telukjambe district of Karawang commemorated May Day by holding an extreme action by burying themselves alive in protest against being evicted from their homes by the company PT Pertiwi Lestari.

"We don't want to be evicted, but they (PT Pertiwi Lestari) continue to put pressure on residents to accept compensation of 30 million rupiah", said action coordinator Aris Wiyono on Monday May 1.

Aris said that the farmers would continue holding burial actions until President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is willing to meet with them at the State Palace where they will call on the government not to side with PT Pertiwi Lestari.

According to Aris, because of the burial action at least eight people have been rushed to hospital suffering from exhaustion and dehydration. "The farmers will not end the action until the state takes firm action against PT Pertiwi Lestari", he asserted.

Based on observations at the protest, at least 19 teenagers were buried alive in coffins filled with earth. They appeared exhausted and their parents were busy fanning them so that they would not become overheated.

One of the parents of the teenagers said that while workers today are demanding decent wages, farmers are demanding that the government intervene in the problem they are facing.

"Please [we ask] the government and Commission II of the House of Representatives to pay attention to the plight of farmers", said the man who declined to give his name. (cr2/JPG)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Di Hari Buruh, Petani Telukjambe Lakukan Aksi Ekstrem, Nih Fotonya".]

Source: http://www.jawapos.com/read/2017/05/01/127016/di-hari-buruh-petani-telukjambe-lakukan-aksi-ekstrem-nih-fotonya

May Day in Bali enlivened by dance, demands for wage increase

Detik News - May 1, 2017

Prins David Saut, Denpasar – Workers in Bali enlivened May Day by demanding increases to the provincial minimum wage (UMP) and dancing as they read out their demands.

This was observed at the Niti Mandala Renon square in the Balinese provincial capital of Bali on Monday May 1 where protesters wearing various paraphernalia had been gathering since earlier in the afternoon.

The rally was concentrated in front of the gates to the Bali governor's office located alongside the Niti Mandala Renon square. The action was joined by workers from the United Balinese Labour Alliance (ABBB) and professional organisations such as the Denpasar Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI).

The paraphernalia brought by the demonstrators including flags, head bands and red-and-black T-shirts. A number of banners were also brought to the rally with messages such as "Your accumulated wealth is the sweat of your workers" and "Alas employers, a part of your wealth belongs to your workers".

In their demands, the demonstrators called on the Balinese provincial government to include the cost of traditional ceremonies as a component of the provincial minimum wages. Based on a survey carried out by the ABBB, the value of this component amounts to 300,000 rupiah a month.

"Bali is known for its traditions and culture. Tourists coming to Bali are also influenced by culture, because of this therefore a component of wages needs to be included to pay for this culture", said ABBB coordinator Dewa Rai Budi Sudarsana.

The workers said that Government Regulation Number 78/2015 fails to accommodate the cost of traditional ceremonies and culture so the workers are demanding that the Balinese provincial government abolish this regulation.

"At the very least the Bali minimum wage should be 3.5 to 4 million rupiah a month. Currently it stands at 1.9 million rupiah a month, so it is still not adequate", said Sudarsana.

Other demands included the abolition of contract labour, outsourcing and an end to arbitrary dismissals. After conveying their demands, some of the participants danced to traditional Balinese music until the protest ended.

The rally, which was watched over by more than 450 officers from the Denpasar municipal police, proceeded in an orderly manner until the demonstrators disbanded. (imk/imk)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "May Day di Bali Diisi dengan Joget dan Pembacaan Tuntutan".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-3488667/may-day-di-bali-diisi-dengan-joget-dan-pembacaan-tuntutan

'Sewer rats' enliven May Day rally in Jakarta

Liputan 6 - May 1, 2017

Jakarta – Scores of "sewer rats" enlivened a rally in Central Jakarta commemorating International Labour Day 2017 which fell today on Monday May 1.

The rodents were not real animals but ordainments brought by protesters from the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI) to commemorate this year's May Day.

"They're symbols of corrupt Indonesian officials. They have no concern for the plight of the ordinary people, particularly the lower class such as us (workers)", said one of the participants during a march to the House Statue in Central Jakarta.

The rats were attached to different countries on a miniature globe. The largest number of rats resided on the map of Indonesia.

A minor scuffle broke out between a line of workers and police after police asked workers not to give speeches in front of a police car that was non guard. The scuffle was able to be brought under control following mediations with police and the workers continued giving speeches.

Meanwhile a female worker named Ani fell over during the march. Seeing her fall, her colleagues immediately carried her to the side of the road after which she was evacuated by a KASBI vehicle used as a mobile medical unit. (Liputan6.com/Rahman Naufal & Arief Kamaluddin)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "'Tikus-Tikus' Ramaikan Peringatan Hari Buruh di Jakarta".]

Source: http://news.liputan6.com/read/2937448/tikus-tikus-ramaikan-peringatan-hari-buruh-di-jakarta

Workers in Jakarta use May Day to call for end to forced evictions in

Liputan 6 - May 1, 2017

Jakarta – Workers from the Association of Indonesian Trade Unions (GSBI) rallying at the Jakarta town hall on May 1 have demanded wage increases and an end to outsourcing end exploitative apprenticeships.

Worker representatives also demanded that the Jakarta provincial government (Pemprov DKI) end forced evictions in the capital.

"Since Ahok [Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama] has been leading DKI, forced evictions in the capital have been massive. The little people, the poor in the outskirts of the city have been the principal victims of evictions", shouted one of the speakers from GSBI, Siti.

The workers demanded that the Pemprov DKI pay more attention to the city's poor that have not just lost their homes as a consequence of the evictions but also their livelihoods.

"The justification used for the evictions is to put the city and the drainage systems in order. But we know that this is just a pretence and excuse to evict the poor who are marginalised. They haven't just lost their homes but also their livelihoods. Pay attention to their [plight]", said another speaker.

After giving speeches, the workers sung songs had shouted slogans together, following which they moved off to continue the rally at the House Statue in Central Jakarta.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Demo di Depan Balai Kota, Buruh Tolak Penggusuran".]

Source: http://news.liputan6.com/read/2937451/demo-di-depan-balai-kota-buruh-tolak-penggusuran

Labour & migrant workers

A lot of homework for Indonesia to improve welfare of workers

Jakarta Globe - May 2, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian government has a lot of homework left to do to improve the welfare of its workers, and it could do well by starting to increase wages, train workers to learn new skills and give them a better education, the chairman of an Indonesian workers' union said on International Workers' Day on Monday (01/05).

Said Iqbal, chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers' Union (KSPI), criticized the current regulation on minimum wage for Indonesian workers, best known as the PP 78, for keeping wage increases at a minimum.

According to him, the minimum wage for workers in Indonesia had only increased by Rp 130,000 ($10) to Rp 260,000 in 2017.

He pointed out that at $176, the minimum monthly wage for Indonesian workers is still lower than in many Asean countries, including in Vietnam, where the minimum wage is $182, and Thailand, where it is more than double at $357.

In a discussion last Friday, KSPI deputy president M. Rusdi said it is high time for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to scrap low wages for workers and do them justice.

The gap between the rich and the poor in Indonesia is already very wide, the president should not let it grow even bigger, Rusdi said.

"Our workers earn far less than their colleagues in Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand. We even earn less than workers in Vietnam. Increasing the minimum wage is the biggest homework for the government," Rusdi said.

Competitive labor force

A lecturer in labor politics from the University of Indonesia, Irwansyah, said the common perception that Indonesia has to keep the wages of its workers low to remain competitive in the labor market is misguided and should be rejected.

The Ph.D. candidate at the Asia Research Center in Murdoch University, Australia, explained that competitiveness in the labor market is not necessarily the result of being able to offer cheap labor.

Irwansyah said competitiveness should be more critically assessed in terms of productivity. A recent study shows that better wages is actually the number one factor to ensure productivity, he added.

But Indonesian companies, according to Irwansyah, are loath to raise wages for their workers for fear that the extra expense will cut back their profits.

Irwansyah said that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration has been content to keep wages low. The PP 78 that it issued last year was aimed at preventing local labor unions from putting pressure on local administrations to raise the minimum wage.

"The national law used to say [minimum wage] should be decided at the local level by three powers: the local administration, employers association and trade union. But PP78 replaced that system with a formulation of wage increases which prevents the union from having any say," Irwansyah said.

"We also have the unique problem of having fewer than 10 percent of our workers joining the union, which means that to get decent wages they still depend on their employers' goodwill," he added.

Workers need new skills and education

Meanwhile, Muhaimin Iskandar, the chairman the National Awakening Party's (PKB) central leadership board, said limited skills and low level of education are still hampering the workers' effort to improve their livelihood.

Muhaimin said the government and labor unions should take the responsibility to improve the workers' skills and education, with the government taking the lead.

"We're optimistic Jokowi can do it. And we at PKB are ready to help, including by creating job opportunities," Muhaimin said in Jakarta on Sunday.

According to Muhaimin, the government should implement pro-poor and pro-growth policies to assure investors that Indonesia's labor force are of high quality.

Out of a workforce of nearly 120 million people in Indonesia – according to Central Statistics Agency's November 2016 data – 40.65 percent have only passed elementary school, 18.14 percent have passed junior high school and only 17.45 percent have passed senior high school.

"We're 72nd in the global human capital ranking, and number six in Asean. If we're not careful, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar will soon overtake us," he said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/lot-homework-indonesia-improve-welfare-workers/

Rights group calls on gov't to seek greater protection for migrant

Jakarta Globe - May 2, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta-based rights group Migrant Care has called on the government to provide better social and economic protection for Indonesian migrant workers abroad.

Speaking over the weekend at the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Manila, Philippines, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said member countries must work together to implement comprehensive protective measures for migrant workers throughout the region.

"At the policy level, a commitment to provide better protection can be realized by fully implementing Law No. 6 of 2012, which ratifies the United Nation's International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families," Migrant Care executive director Wahyu Susilo told reporters in Jakarta on Monday (01/05).

Jokowi later met with Indonesian nationals on his working visit to Hong Kong on Sunday, where he learned of pressing issues facing the Indonesian migrant community there.

However, Wahyu still believes Jokowi must do more to ensure the legal rights of migrant workers and their families. "Until now, the Indonesian government has been reluctant to implement the [2012 law] as it is considered by some an additional burden," he said.

Wahyu said representatives of the Industry Ministry recently proposed a revision to the Migrant Workers Protection Law that contains no significant improvements with its predecessor and does little to meet guidelines laid out in the UN convention.

"The situation hasn't improved because of the reluctance of the Indonesian government and the [House of Representatives] to discuss the rights of maids and household helpers abroad," Wahyu said.

Many Indonesian migrant workers have been convicted of crimes in foreign countries in recent years and have received harsh penalties for their transgressions, including death. In other well-documented incidents, Indonesian nationals have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their employers, though have received little, if any, compensation.

In March, a raid on a bird's nest factory outside Klang, Malaysia, revealed more than one hundred Indonesian nationals working as modern slaves. Further investigations into that case are still ongoing.

"Coinciding with International Labor Day [on May 1], Migrant Care demands that the government resolve the continuing discussions on the Indonesian migrant workers protection bill," Wahyu said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/migrant-workers-association-calls-govt-to-fully-implement-law-on-workers-protection/

Freeport Indonesia mine workers hold rally at start of planned strike

Reuters - May 1, 2017

Thousands of workers from the Indonesian unit of Freeport McMoRan Inc staged a rally near its Papua mine on Monday, a union leader said, protesting against layoffs by the miner due to a contract dispute with the government.

The union representing a third of the 32,000 workforce sent a notice to Freeport on Monday threatening to strike from May 1 to the end of the month at the Grasberg mine, the world's second-biggest copper mine.

Freeport is trying to ramp up output and exports at Grasberg after reaching a temporary deal with the government following a 15-week stoppage linked to new mining rules, but customers are concerned that labor unrest could now hit supply.

Freeport had laid off about 10 percent of its workforce and warned it could cut another 5,000 to stem losses, sparking protests from workers.

"We are still waiting. We have good intention by opening up in a transparent and fair manner so the problem can be solved. We actually don't want a strike to happen," said union leader Aser Gobai, adding that about 8,000 workers had participated in the rally in Timika, the nearest town to the mine.

Freeport said in an emailed statement that its Indonesia unit "continues to work with union leaders, with the support of government officials, to encourage a safe and efficient return to normal operations for the benefit of all stakeholders."

Freeport Chief Executive Richard Adkerson said last month the company could punish workers for absenteeism. Any delays in resuming exports could support copper prices. London Metal Exchange prices were last at $5,735 a tonne, up 4 percent this year.

Adding to tensions around Grasberg, several Freeport workers and police were injured in a clash in Papua last month, when officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators in Timika who authorities said had been attempting to free a union leader at a court hearing.

New rules in Indonesia require Freeport to obtain a new mining permit, divest a 51 percent stake, build a second copper smelter, relinquish arbitration rights and pay new taxes and royalties.

Freeport insists any new permit must have the same fiscal and legal guarantees as under its 30-year mining contract, and in February it served notice to Jakarta, saying it has the right to commence arbitration if no agreement is reached by June 17.

[Reporting by Samuel Wanda in Timika,; Additional reporting by Nulifar Rizki, Wilda Asmarini and Fergus Jensen in Jakarta and Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Matthew Lewis.]

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-freeport-strike-idUSKBN17X1E9

Workers in Kupang still receive below standard wages

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2017

Djemi Amnifu, Kupang – The head of East Nusa Tenggara Workers Union, Stanis Tefa, said on Monday that there were still many workers who received poor salaries, far below the minimum wage in the province.

The East Nusa Tenggara administration has set the minimum salary at Rp 1.5 million. However, he said many employers do not follow the rule and there are workers who only receive Rp 300,000 to Rp 500,000 per month.

Stanis said that local administration has been absent from supervising the implementation of the rule by not allocating any funds to monitor the implementation.

"This has been happening for years, and we have not seen any progress on it. There are thousands of workers who experience this in the province. If the government and the Regional House of Representatives strictly implemented the rule, workers could get their rights back, especially regarding the minimum salary," he said. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/01/workers-in-kupang-still-receive-below-standard-wages.html

Indonesian President Widodo ignores exploitation of his citizens in Hong

Deutsche Welle - May 1, 2017

Indonesia's president appeared unsympathetic to the plight of his country's women subjected to abuse and exploitation while working abroad. On a visit to Hong Kong, he told them not to rock the boat over "small things."

Indonesian President Joko Widodo was met with a combination of celebration and protest in Hong Kong on Sunday as thousands of the city's foreign maids called on him for help.

There are some 170,000 Indonesians living in Hong Kong, many of whom are employed as domestic workers – an industry that has come under increased scrutiny amid a growing raft of abuse allegations.

More than 5,000 people, mostly women, turned up at the city's Asia World Expo to cheer their president but also to ask him for help. Some protesters gathered outside the exhibition while others marched to the Indonesian Consulate, calling for better migrant rights.

"I hope the president can make our workplace safe," one domestic helper named Miasih said, explaining that her employer breaches her contract by making her work in two apartments. "It's the attitude – she doesn't have a lot of respect for me," she added.

Widodo is on a two-day visit to Hong Kong, where he will meet local business leaders. The president dismissed the pleas of his citizens, instead focusing his speech on the positive aspects of Indonesia's economy, infrastructure and diversity.

Widodo ignores his own people

In a veiled reference to their plight, Widodo told the women to just live with it. "Don't let small things cause friction, clashes, division," he said.

Protesters criticized him for failing to address working conditions. "We are already isolated because of the way we work and where we are, but the government, even when they're in front of us, does not think our voices are important," said former domestic worker Eni Lestari, now chairwoman of the International Migrants Alliance.

She said activists had tried without success to submit petitions or meet with Widodo.

All told, there are more than 300,000 domestic workers in Hong Kong, mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines.

Their plight made international headlines in 2014 with the case of Indonesian helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, who was beaten and starved by her employer Law Wan-tung.

Law was convicted and sentenced in February 2015 to six years in prison. Despite that, worker-rights advocates say the case has not led to any systemic changes.

The Network of Indonesian Migrant Workers (JBMI) wants the government to set up a formal system for filing complaints and receiving compensation. It also wants employment agencies and employers who withhold passports or overcharge to be penalized, as well as the establishment of a standardized contract to prevent exploitation of workers.

A report by the Justice Center in 2016 concluded that one out of six foreign maids in Hong Kong fell into the category of "forced labor."

Last September hundreds of maids marched through Hong Kong after several workers fell to their deaths as they tried to clean tower block windows. – bik/sms (AFP, dpa)

Source: http://www.dw.com/en/indonesian-president-widodo-ignores-exploitation-of-his-citizens-in-hong-kong/a-38647131

Freedom of speech & expression

Like being pursued by the ghost of communism

Nurcholis ART - May 5, 2017

SAFEnet Voice has recorded that since 2015, 73 percent of violations against freedom of expression have been committed on the grounds of spreading communism.

On May 1, an art exhibition with the theme "Seeing More in Wiji Thukul" which was displaying the works of Andreas Iswinarto in the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang became the target of protests by a number of social groups.

The exhibition was accused of being an arena for the spread of communism, an accusation denied by the organising committee who said the it was of course lies.

But as a result of the accusations, the exhibition that was to open on May 1 at the Semarang Islamic Union building had to be postponed because the managers of the building objected to the event.

What occurred at the Wiji Thukul art exhibition is not an isolated case. Many other events such as discussions, film showings and even the publication of journalistic works have been deemed as being "PKI gaya baru" or the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in a new guise.

Yet restrictions on or the banning of such events is a violation against freedom of expression and opinion. SAFEnet Voice has recorded that over the last two years there have been 59 cases where freedom of expression and association have been violated.

Out of the 59 cases, 43 cases or around 73 percent of the violations were committed based on allegations of spreading communist ideas. Other violations included accusations related to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues which accounted for 7 percent or four cases. And the issue of "self-determination" for West Papua accounted for 5 percent or three cases. Meaning that accusations related to spreading communist ideas accounted for the largest number of violations.

The majority of repressive incidents against events accused of spreading communism were film showings accounting for 16 cases. Discussions, workshops and seminars accounted for 14 cases. Exhibitions accounted for three cases and gatherings three cases. Violations against freedom of expression and association based on accusations of spreading communism took the form of forced closures or the disbanding of events and other incidents.

In all these cases the police, as it turns out, were the most frequent agent committing the violations. The police committed violations in as many as 27 cases. This was followed by mass organisations such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Islamic Community Forum (FUI) and the Kabah Youth Movement (affiliated with the United Development Party).

Meanwhile the [majority] of organising parties that fell victim to this repression were from tertiary education institutions. What is meant by this are student activity units, student executive councils, events held on campus and the like.

Violations against events held by tertiary educational institutions accounted for 18 cases followed events carried out by non-government organisations which accounted for 9 cases.

The largest number of violations involving accusations of spreading communism occurred in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta with 10 cases or around 23 percent. This was followed by Jakarta with as many as five cases or around 12 percent.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Seperti Diburu Hantu Komunisme...".]

Source: https://medium.com/@nurcholisart/kebebasan-berekspresi-1348e33e3686

Freedom of information & the press

Jakarta Declaration calls for greater press' role for peaceful,

Jakarta Post - May 5, 2017

Elly Burhaini Faizal, Jakarta – Participants of the 2017 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) meeting have unanimously adopted the Jakarta Declaration, which calls for a greater role of the media in advancing peaceful and inclusive societies.

"We see the importance of Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs], particularly Goal 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. Let's use the adopted Jakarta Declaration, preluded in the Finlandia Declaration," said Zabrina Holmström of the Finland National Commission to Unesco on Thursday.

"We need critical minds for critical times. Stand up for your rights. There can't be a compromise in freedom of expression," she said.

Adopted in last year's WPFD in Helsinki, Finland, Holmström said the Finlandia Declaration, which became a bridge to the Jakarta Declaration, had three building blocks, namely access to information, diversity of cultural expressions and freedom of expression. "These are building blocks of functioning democracies and diverse independent media," she said.

Around 1,300 participants attended the 2017 WPFD hosted by the Indonesian government, the Communications and Information Ministry, the Press Council and Unesco.

"In 2017 WPFD, we have focused on addressing SDGs, particularly achieving Goal 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, and how we can counter social media bubbles, where solutions to addressing both are reflected in our adopted Jakarta Declaration," said Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara.

"We are also aware of the need to bring back healthy public communication and to support quality journalism to save life and the need for a shift from the current information turbulence," he went on.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/05/jakarta-declaration-calls-for-greater-press-role-for-peaceful-inclusive-societies.html

Violence against journalists remains worrying: AJI

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) announced on Wednesday that a total of 72 cases of violence against journalists occurred from May 2016 to April 2017 despite the Constitution guaranteeing press freedom.

"The growing trend of assaults involving civilians is the result of an absence of law enforcement," AJI chairman Suwarjono said during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC).

The data show that around 38 of the total number of cases were in the form of physical abuse and 14 were expulsions or prohibition from covering news. The AJI also revealed that nine of the cases involved the forcing of journalists in deleting reports, photos or video recordings they had previously gathered.

Besides this, the AJI recorded seven terror or intimidation cases against journalists and two cases of criminalization and two instances of verbal intimidation by public figures. The perpetrators included state officials including police and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers, politicians, lawmakers, policymakers, lawyers and judges.

"Police officers, whose duty is to protect all citizens, not only turn a blind eye to violence against journalists but, in many cases, are the perpetrators themselves," Suwarjono said.

Therefore, Suwarjono said, the AJI Indonesia had declared the police as an "enemy of the press" in 2017, with many of their personnel involved with impunity in cases of violence against journalists. "The AJI urges the enforcement of protections for journalists under the 1999 Press Law," he asserted. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/violence-against-indonesian-journalists-remains-worrying-aji.html

Indonesia is 'double-dealing' on media freedom, says RSF

Pacific Media Watch - May 3, 2017

Reporters Without Borders has condemned what it calls Indonesia's "double-dealing" as the nation hosts World Press Freedom Day while it continues to harass independent journalists in West Papua with impunity.

The Paris-based global watchdog's call comes after Yance Wenda, a photographer for the local news website Jubi, was arrested and beaten by police yesterday, while he covered a peaceful demonstration in Sentani, a suburb of Jayapura, West Papua's largest city.

After being held for four hours, Wenda told the BenarNews website that the police began hitting him with "hands, guns and cane" without giving him a chance to show them his media assignment letter.

Jayapura police chief Gustav Urbinas acknowledged that Wenda was arrested, but denied that the police hit him. Wenda nontheless took photos of his injuries and posted them online as evidence of the police brutality.

"We firmly condemn the police violence against Yance Wenda and we call for an investigation so that both the perpetrators and their superiors, who endorse their brutality, can be brought to justice," said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of Reporters San Frontieres (RSF) Asia-Pacific desk.

"Indonesia is in the bottom third of the 2017 World Press Index and this beating, the latest in a long series of attacks on media freedom in West Papua in recent months, constitutes yet further evidence that it did not deserve to host the World Press Freedom Day celebration.

"UNESCO and all the political figures gathered in Jakarta must condemn the violence and ask President Joko Widodo to stop playing a double game that consists of promoting media freedom with the international community while continuing to crack down in West Papua."

Media freedom lacking

Indonesia is ranked 124th out of 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index that RSF published on April 26. It is not unusual for both local and foreign journalists to be threatened anonymously or by the authorities and to be forced to censor themselves, RSF said.

Last week, police in West Papua seized TV reporter Richardo Hutahaen's camera and deleted its contents. Hutahaen, who heads an association of Papuan TV journalists, and two colleagues also received death threats after covering a court hearing on a dispute between local politicians.

Due to the alarming media freedom situation in West Papua, the harassment of journalists and the frequent refusal to give press visas to foreign journalists, human rights organisations plan to protest during the events organised by UNESCO and the Indonesian government.

The aim of the protest is to press the international community to react. RSF has expressed its support for the Legal Aid Centre for the Press (LBH Pers), which organised a public discussion on media freedom in West Papua yesterday.

Foreign media are usually prevented from working in West Papua and are kept under close surveillance on the rare occasions when they are allowed to operate in the Indonesian-ruled region.

In March, French journalists Franck Escudie and Basile Longchamp were deported after arriving in West Papua to film for a documentary. Another French journalist, Cyril Payen, was refused permission to return Indonesia in 2016 after France 24 broadcast a documentary he made about West Papua, entitled 'Forgotten War of the Papuans.' Payen had obtained all the necessary authorisations before visiting West Papua to film for the documentary in 2015.

'Open the door'

Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie called on the Indonesian authorities to "honour" the president's promise and "open the door to genuine press freedom and an end to human rights violations against journalists and the indigenous Papuan people."

Meanwhile, the Australian Press Council has issued a call to all media organisations, editors and journalists in the country to stand firm against what it said is "the alarming erosion of access to information, privacy and protection of sources".

"In light of the litany of threats to free speech, press freedom and to journalists themselves, it is now, more than ever, time for media outlets to work energetically and cooperatively together with the Australian Press Council to safeguard these pillars of our democracy," said Council Chair David Weisbrot in a statement.

Indian journalist attacked

Similar causes for alarm were issued in India, following a police assault on The Quint reporter Meghnad Bose on Monday, May 1 the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has subsequently called for Indian authorities to identify and discipline the New Delhi police officers who assaulted Bose.

"Authorities should swiftly discipline the police officers responsible for assaulting Meghnad Bose simply for doing his job," CPJ Asia Program Director Steven Butler said from Washington, D.C. "The police should train officers to protect the legal activities of journalists, and not to harass them."

Pacific Media Watch sources on the ground in Indonesia said police are expected to try and stop the West Papua protest at World Press Freedom Day today.

Source: http://asiapacificreport.nz/2017/05/03/indonesia-is-double-dealing-on-media-freedom-says-rsf/

Jakarta urged to ensure against journo attacks

Radio New Zealand International - May 2, 2017

Indonesian's government has been urged to ensure that state security forces who attack journalists in regions like Papua are held to account.

The call from the NGO Human Rights Watch comes as Indonesia prepares to host a series of events for World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday.

It points to new research data from Indonesia's Alliance for Independent Journalists showing an increase in assaults on journalists in the past two years in Indonesia. At least a dozen cases in this time refer to journalists being attacked, intimidated or detained in Papua region, otherwise known as West Papua

The Alliance says foreign journalists and local fixers are liable to be arrested and prosecuted if they try to document the Indonesian military's abuses there. However, since the election of President Joko Widodo in 2014, Indonesia's government has been making steps towards opening up Papua region to foreign journalists.

After Mr Widodo "lifted" the effective ban on foreign journalists visiting Papua, several foreign journalists went to Papua in 2015, including two from RNZ International. But, numerous restrictions remain on foreign media access to Papua.

The international media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, this month called on Mr Widodo to keep his promise to allow foreign journalists to operate in Papua without obstruction or surveillance.

The organisation said Jakarta's repeated refusals to issue press visas and the growing number of journalists on its blacklist, showed it fell far short of qualifying as a country that supports freedom of expression and media freedom.

But as Jakarta hosts World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday, abuses against local journalists remain the most pressing media issue in Papua.

Numerous journalists working with the independent Papua-based newspaper Tabloid Jubi have been subject to threats and attacks by security forces in recent years.

Indonesian law also requires journalists who are targets of physical assault to report such incidents to the National Police Profession and Security Division if the perpetrator is a police officer, or to the Military Police if the perpetrator is a soldier.

However, the government human rights commission, Komnas-HAM, has found that police investigations of incidents of violence against journalists often stall "because of technicalities or as a result of social or political pressure."

After interviewing numerous journalists and human rights advocates across Indonesia, Human Rights Watch said they described "an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship in many newsrooms".

It said this was "due to abuses and threats by security forces and local authorities that go unpunished and that, most of the time, are not even rigorously investigated".

According to the NGO, Jakarta must show it is serious about press freedom by ensuring accountability for these abuses.

This echoed a call by Irina Bokova, the director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, which chose Jakarta as global host for its annual World Press Freedom Day commemoration.

She said Jakarta should use the occasion to publicly address the increase in assaults on journalists and urge President Widodo to take more decisive action in response.

Meanwhile, difficulties around press freedom in West Papua are the subject of a discussion event in Jakarta tomorrow, ahead of World Press Freedom Day.

This event will feature discourse by Tabloid Jubi's founder, Victor Mambor, the head of Indonesia Amnesty International, Usman Hamid, and David Robie, lecturer at Auckland University of Technology and founder of Pacific Media Watch.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/329850/jakarta-urged-to-ensure-against-journo-attacks

Political parties & elections

Government wants presidential threshold maintained in election bill

Jakarta Post - May 6, 2017

Jakarta – The government is backing a proposal to maintain a provision on the presidential threshold in the election bill being deliberated at the House of Representatives.

The provision will provide evidence of legitimate support for anyone looking to run for the presidency it says.

Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said a presidential threshold was important to ensure an "effective" election, during which all candidates must have adequate support to get elected.

"Any candidates running in a presidential election will have to be supported by political parties that have been proven to be capable of garnering support from voters, not merely supported by a party and wealth," Tjahjo said as quoted by kompas.com in Jakarta on Friday.

It was previously reported that there was growing support in the House of Representatives for a lowering of the current presidential threshold, particularly from parties in the opposition coalition who say they want an "equal opportunity" for a presidential nomination.

Only three of 10 factions at the House are still in favor of the minimum 20 percent voter support requirement for a presidential nomination. They are the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Nasdem Party and the Golkar Party. (mos/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/06/govt-wants-presidential-threshold-maintained-in-election-bill.html

Prabowo would break promise if he runs with Anies in 2019 presidential

Jakarta Post - May 5, 2017

Jakarta – Former National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Amien Rais said he expects Jakarta's presumptive governor-elect, Anies Baswedan, to stay in office for his full five-year tenure.

The former chairman of the country's second largest Muslim organization, Muhamadiyah, said on Thursday that he would oppose any decision aimed at hindering the governor-elect from serving for five years, including if Prabowo Subianto, the chairman of the Gerindra Party, the main party backer of Anies, wants him to be his running mate in the 2019 presidential election.

Amien said if Prabowo made such a decision, it would break his promise to keep Anies in office for the full five-year tenure.

"If Prabowo does so and shows he is inconsistent, I will oppose it," Amien said as quoted by Kompas.com. "I think this duo [Anies and presumptive deputy governor-elect Sandiaga Uno] lasting for five years will be a good decision."

Anies and Sandiaga emerged as the unofficial winners of last month's election after beating Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his running mate, Deputy Governor Djarot Sjaiful Hidayat, in a runoff race. In a speech, Prabowo encouraged the winning pair to complete their five-year tenure in office.

Many observers have predicted that Prabowo, who lost the 2014 presidential election to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, would run again in the 2019 election. (saf/dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/05/prabowo-would-break-promise-if-he-runs-with-anies-in-2019-presidential-election-amien-rais.html

Indonesia may see more presidential contenders in 2019

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Indonesia will likely see more contenders in the 2019 presidential election after members of the House of Representatives scrapped the presidential nomination threshold that bars small parties from fielding a presidential candidate.

Seven out of 10 political factions on the House's special committee deliberating the election bill have agreed to eliminate a provision within the bill that requires a political party to garner at least 20 percent of the popular vote to take part in the presidential election, committee chairman Lukman Edy said on Tuesday.

In past elections, the provision forced smaller parties to form an alliance with bigger parties to pass the threshold, thus limiting the number of presidential contenders.

Lukman, a politician from the National Awakening Party (PKB), told The Jakarta Post that the decision was made after a three-day closed door meeting in Bandung, West Java, over the weekend last week.

The PKB, along with other parties such as the Gerindra Party, the Democratic Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), United Development Party (PPP), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Hanura Party have long called for the elimination of the legislative threshold.

The Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the two largest parties, have rejected the proposal.

"The decision is final," Lukman said. "We will present the decision during a plenary meeting. No more voting will take place in the plenary," he said. (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/02/indonesia-may-see-more-presidential-contenders-in-2019.html

Low voter turnout haunts Bekasi

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2017

Jakarta – Low voter turnout remains a problem in Bekasi, West Java, with only 49.46 percent of eligible voters having gone to the polling stations in the last regional election in 2012.

"The numbers were even lower during the [West Java] gubernatorial election, with voter turnout of only 48 percent," said Bekasi General Elections Commission (KPU Bekasi) chairman Ucu Asmaransandi as quoted by tempo.co on Monday.

Bekasi trails behind Riau Islands with the second-lowest voter turnout, he said. "It's a challenge for us to increase voter turnout." Ucu hopes voter turnout increases to 70 percent in the next election set to be held next year.

Meanwhile, the commission's human resources division officer, Nurul Sumarheni, said KPU Bekasi projected approximately 1.8 million voters in next year's election.

She said KPU Bekasi was using social media in its effort to increase voter turnout. "For the first time voters in Bekasi comprise 10 percent of the final voter list." (dea/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/02/low-voter-turnout-haunts-bekasi.html

Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections

Indonesia governor's loss shows increasing power of Islamists

New York Times - May 6, 2017

Richard C. Paddockmay, Jakarta, Indonesia – The popular governor was the clear front-runner. Despite his religion, a Christian in Muslim-majority Indonesia, Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama of Jakarta held a commanding lead in the polls.

Then, in a campaign speech in September, he made a fatal reference to a verse of the Quran. A video, edited to make it seem that he had said the Muslim holy book was misleading people, went viral on Facebook.

Mr. Basuki was charged with blasphemy, mass rallies were mobilized against him and despite a tearful apology, he was trounced in a runoff election last month.

"A half-minute destroyed his career," said Komaruddin Hidayat, a former rector of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta.

The governor's loss was the most prominent sign yet of Indonesia's tilt toward political Islam. A moderate, secular democracy with the world's largest Muslim population, Indonesia in many ways provides a counterweight to the sectarian clashes and autocratic rule that have plagued Muslim countries in the Middle East, some 5,000 miles away.

But in recent years, the radical Muslims who have been trying to turn Indonesia into a strict Islamic state have gradually gained influence, accruing an array of significant victories.

As the Jakarta election was underway, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling that was less noticed but could have a broader effect. The court struck down a law allowing the government to annul discriminatory local laws, such as religious-based laws regulating morality or women's behavior.

Local laws are where the Islamists have made the biggest gains. Since 1998, with the introduction of democracy and the decentralization of power to the local authorities, more than 440 local ordinances have been adopted imposing elements of Islamic law, or Shariah, like requiring women to wear head scarves or restricting alcohol sales, according to Michael Buehler, a senior lecturer at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, in his book "The Politics of Shari'a Law."

"Religion has become politicized in local elections, and we saw that emerge in a big way in the election for governor in Jakarta," said Melissa Crouch, a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney who researches Asian legal systems. "Democracy gives a greater space to everyone, including greater space for radical Islam."

While the ultimate goal of those promoting such laws is an Islamic state, that prospect seems distant. Indonesia remains mostly tolerant and moderate. In Jakarta, the capital, many Muslim women socialize freely with men, ride motorbikes and decline to wear head scarves. Islamist parties have not fared well in national elections.

But the Islamists have kept up the pressure on a variety of fronts. There have been efforts to change national laws: A bill before Parliament would ban alcohol nationwide, while the Constitutional Court is hearing a petition by an Islamist group demanding that gay sex be outlawed and that the adultery law be broadened to criminalize sex between any unmarried people.

The blasphemy law, rarely used before 2004, has been deployed in more than 120 cases, helping build support for the Islamists and silence dissent, said Andreas Harsono, the Indonesia representative for Human Rights Watch.

A self-appointed morality brigade called the Islamic Defenders Front, best known for smashing up bars, has recently attacked people for selling food on Ramadan or wearing Santa outfits at Christmas.

While such efforts by hard-core activist groups are not new, what stood out in the governor's election was their tacit acceptance by moderate Muslims, many of whom took offense at a perceived insult to their religion.

The radical groups organized the protests, demanding that the governor be jailed or killed and warning Muslims of dire consequences if they voted for a Christian. The sight of an estimated half million people at a rally in December was shocking in relatively cosmopolitan Jakarta even if, as has been reported, many protesters had been bused in from the more conservative hinterlands.

Neither of Mr. Basuki's rivals publicly questioned the blasphemy accusation, instead forging alliances of convenience with the radicals.

Anies Baswedan, the moderate former education minister who won the race, visited the headquarters of the Islamic Defenders Front during the campaign, addressing the group as its leader, Habib Rizieq, sat by his side.

Even President Joko Widodo, an ally of Mr. Basuki's, appeared unexpectedly at the December rally alongside Mr. Habib, thanking the crowd for holding a peaceful rally. Both appearances demonstrated how much influence the militants had gained during the election campaign.

One of the groups behind the rallies was Hizbut Tahrir, an organization dedicated to creating a state governed by a harsh form of Shariah, including stoning adulterers and amputating the hands of thieves, said Ismail Yusanto, a spokesman for the group in Indonesia.

"From the Islamic perspective, the state should exist for only one purpose," he said, "how to implement Shariah."

The group is banned in many Muslim-majority countries. "This is an ideology that has the potential to threaten democracy," said Yenny Wahid, director of the Wahid Institute, an Islamic research center founded by her father, the former president Abdurrahman Wahid.

She likened the appeal of these laws to the populist proposals offered by President Trump. "Build a wall. Chop off people's hands. These are very simplistic solutions to people's problems," she said.

Another faction behind the protests is the Salafists, a Saudi-led movement that seeks a return to the pure form of Islam said to have been practiced by Mohammed and the first generations of Muslims. Since the 1980s, Saudi Arabia has funded dozens of schools, scholarships, the distribution of religious material and the construction of mosques in Indonesia. The commitment has been relatively small given Indonesia's vast size, but influential in spreading a puritanical, Salafist way of thinking and an atmosphere of intolerance.

What the Islamists have in mind already exists in Aceh Province, on the northern tip of Sumatra. The province began instituting Shariah law in 2001 after gaining autonomy in an attempt to end a long-running separatist war.

Over the years, the law has become increasingly strict: Women are required to dress modestly, alcohol is mostly banned, and adultery and homosexuality are punishable by public caning. The morality police roam the province, scouring hotel rooms and beaches for immoral behavior and ordering people to go to mosques and pray.

"When Aceh was granted autonomy, it opened a Pandora's box for Indonesia," Mr. Harsono said. Some locals point out with pride that they have become a model for the rest of the country.

Indonesia also faces the threat of Islamic terrorism, as a suicide attack in Jakarta last year reminded the country.

Four civilians and four attackers were killed in the midday attack on a police post in a busy commercial district. The police said the attack had been organized by an Indonesian member of the Islamic State in Syria.

About 450 Indonesians who tried to join the Islamic State have returned home, most caught in Turkey or other countries before reaching Syria. Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, said most of the returnees were noncombatants who did not pose a significant threat.

More worrisome, she said, are some two dozen Islamic State recruits who returned from Syria with training and combat experience.

Just as alarming, the institute has found that Jemaah Islamiyah, the regional terrorist group that carried out the 2002 Bali bombing, which killed more than 200 people, is regrouping. Some of its members have trained in Syria with non-Islamic State militias, the institute said in a report released last month.

In recent years, the police have kept the militants under tight control, apprehending or killing dozens and foiling planned terrorist attacks.

For the radical political groups, which profess nonviolence, the question is whether they can capitalize on their success to play a role in the 2019 presidential election.

In opposing Mr. Basuki, the Islamists were part of a broad coalition led by Prabowo Subianto, a former general who ran for president in 2014 and may run again. It also included Christians, among them Hary Tanoesoedibjo, a billionaire businessman who is Mr. Trump's business partner in Indonesia and has his own ambitions for national office.

For them, taking out Mr. Basuki was a way of weakening Mr. Joko heading into the presidential election, even if it meant allying themselves with hard-line Islamists. The winner, Mr. Anies, was the candidate of Mr. Prabowo's party. During a victory celebration the day after the election at Indonesia's national mosque, Mr. Prabowo publicly thanked leaders of the campaign, including Mr. Rizieq of the Islamic Defenders Front and Bachtiar Nasir, a Salafist leader.

Later, Mr. Prabowo dismissed concerns that he may have entered into an unholy alliance with the extremists. They were part of a "grand coalition," he said.

"If we demonize and we consider certain groups to be not qualified to join the political discourse," he said, "that is not a healthy attitude."

[A version of this article appears in print on May 7, 2017, on Page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Governor's Defeat In Jakarta Shows Rise of Islamists.]

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/world/asia/indonesia-islam-jakarta.html

Supreme Court to ensure verdict in Ahok trial free from interference

Jakarta Post - May 5, 2017

Jakarta – The Supreme Court has made assurances that the verdict in the trial of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on blasphemy charges, set to be handed down on May 9, will be free from any outside interference.

"We will watch the trial without affecting the judges' independence," said Supreme Court spokesman Ridwan Mansyur during a press conference on Friday after a meeting with participants of an anti-Ahok rally.

The protest delegation consisted of 11 members of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-Mui), including its deputy chairman and spokesperson. The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) chairman, Shobri Lubis, was also in the meeting.

Ridwan added that the rally would not affect the judges' independence during the determination of the verdict as "the judges have been trained to be independent."

The GNPF-MUI protestors demanded the Supreme Court ensure the judges sentence Ahok to the maximum five-year sentence, even though the prosecutors themselves admitted they could not prove he was guilty of blasphemy.

GNPF-MUI spokesman Kapitra Ampera said the organization would decide whether the forthcoming verdict could be considered fair after the hearing on Tuesday. "We have some normative and legal indicators. We will discuss the verdict based on those indicators."

Hours earlier, GNPF-MUI chairman Bahtiar Nasir asked protesters to respect whatever verdict the court brings down on May 9. (kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/05/supreme-court-to-ensure-verdict-in-ahok-trial-free-from-interference.html

Indonesia hard-liners call for jailing of Christian governor

Associated Press - May 5, 2017

Niniek Karmini, Jakarta, Indonesia – Thousands of conservative Muslims took to the streets of the Indonesian capital on Friday to call for the jailing of its minority Christian governor who is on trial on charges of blaspheming the Quran.

At least several thousand white-robed protesters marched after Friday prayers at Istiqlal Mosque in central Jakarta until reaching the nearby Supreme Court building.

The protest comes just days before a district court announces its verdict in Gov. Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's blasphemy trial.

Some of the protesters held flags, banners and placards that said "Justice must be upheld" and "Ahok, the blasphemer of Islam, must be jailed."

Prosecutors last month recommended a two-year suspended prison sentence for Ahok. The relatively light sentencing demand was made a day after Ahok was defeated by a landslide election victory for a Muslim rival backed by conservative clerics. Ahok's term as governor ends in October.

The maximum penalty for blasphemy in Muslim-majority Indonesia is five years in prison. Prosecutors recommended one-year prison if Ahok violates his probation.

"We are here because we are disappointed with prosecutors who were blind and deaf to the aspirations of Muslims," said Bahruddin Rabbani, an Islamic boarding school teacher from Banten, a neighboring province of Jakarta.

Ahok was accused of blasphemy last year when a video surfaced of him telling voters they were being deceived if they believed a specific verse in the Quran prohibited Muslims from electing a non-Muslim as leader. Hard-line Islamic groups have attracted hundreds of thousands to anti-Ahok protests in Jakarta, shaking the government of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and undermining Indonesia's reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam.

"We believe that Ahok's use of our holy Quran for political campaigning constituted blasphemy," said another protester, Ahmad Salman. "We want to see the blasphemer of Islam in jail."

Source: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_INDONESIA_BLASPHEMY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-05-05-04-01-36

Rally leader asks protesters to accept Ahok's verdict

Jakarta Post - May 5, 2017

Jakarta – An organizer of a rally on Friday against Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has asked protesters to respect whatever verdict the court brings down in the Jakarta governor's trial on blasphemy charges.

Bachtiar Nasir, chairman of an organization called Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Councils Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) formed specifically to stage protests against the governor and see him sent to prison because of comments he made about how some people had used a verse of the Quran to dissuade Jakartans from voting for him, said everyone at the May 5 rally should accept the ruling scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday.

"You are ready to accept the decision right?" Bachtiar told people gathered at the Grand Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta on Friday, as quoted by tempo.co.

He added that the protesters must believe there would be justice from God if the court failed to deliver the verdict they wanted. The protesters, he said, must maintain the peace and refrain from any violence, such as brawling with security officers.

The GNPF-MUI organized a rally on Friday to demand the maximum five-year sentence for Ahok, even though the prosecutors themselves admitted they could not prove he was guilty of blasphemy. The North Jakarta District Court will hand down a ruling on May 9. (idb)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/05/rally-leader-asks-protesters-to-accept-ahoks-verdict.html

Anies, Sandiaga officially declared winners of election

Jakarta Post - May 5, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) has officially announced that Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno will lead the city as governor and deputy governor, respectively, for the period of 2017-2022, replacing Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat.

"The gubernatorial and deputy gubernatorial candidates who obtained most of the votes in the 2017 Jakarta election are Anies Rasyid Baswedan and Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno," KPU Jakarta commissioner Betty Epsilon Idroos said.

KPU Jakarta head Sumarno said that Anies and Sandiaga secured 57.96 percent of the votes cast during the gubernatorial runoff election, while Ahok and Djarot got 42.04 percent.

By law, they deserved to be declared as the governor and deputy governor-elect, Sumarno said. He added that the commission would submit the decree that stated the winners of the election to the City Council as a legal basis to inaugurate Anies and Sandiaga.

Neither Ahok nor Djarot attended the declaration. The Jakarta administration was represented by Saefullah, the administration's secretary.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/05/anies-sandiaga-officially-declared-winners-of-election.html

Flowers sent for Ahok break MURI record

Jakarta Post - May 5, 2017

Jakarta – The high number of flower arrangements received by Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat has broken a record at the Indonesian Museum of Records (MURI).

MURI founder Jaya Suprana handed over the award of "the longest flower arrangement parade" on Thursday to the pair.

"Because we are busy with our own schedules, we have been unable to meet. However, we have agreed to deliver the award on Thursday morning," Jaya said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com.

The MURI initially attempted to give the award to the initiator of the idea to send the flowers. However, Jaya said that he had difficulty finding the person.

"[Therefore], the MURI decided to give the award to Pak Ahok and Pak Djarot as the recipients of the longest flower arrangements parade," he said.

The latest report on Tuesday suggested that 5,016 flower arrangements were sent to City Hall, prompting the city administration to relocate some of them to the National Monument in Central Jakarta. (fac)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/05/flowers-sent-for-ahok-break-muri-record.html

Jakartans call for help against radicalism

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2017

Jakarta – As Jakartans are still reeling from the most divisive gubernatorial election the city has ever seen, which exacerbated sectarianism and fanned anti-Chinese sentiments, some citizens have called on the government to protect the capital from any threat from radicals.

On Wednesday the State Palace, as well as the headquarters of the National Police, the Jakarta Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI), were adorned with dozens of flower boards bearing messages calling on the government to curb radicalism.

"We are ready to support the military and the police to eradicate radicalism and maintain the unity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia [NKRI]," read one flower board that had been put on the front yard of the Jakarta Police headquarters in Senayan, South Jakarta. "Save the NKRI, curb radicalism," read another flower board.

The two flower boards were among more than 20 flower arrangements set up at the police's headquarters. "To be honest, we have no idea who put all these flowers here," said Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono on Wednesday. He appreciated the act and deemed it to be part of the nation's democracy. "Certainly, this is a form of citizens showing their aspirations. They address their appreciation and motivations toward the police. They will encourage us to continue safeguarding Jakarta," Argo said.

Flower boards were also sent to the State Palace as a token of gratitude to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo for his role in maintaining Pancasila as the state ideology.

The senders, however, also pointed out that the police and the military were still an important part of guarding Jakarta from the threat of disunity and radicalism.

The gesture came a few weeks after the Jakarta runoff election, described by experts as the country's most polarizing election with racial and religious issues overshadowing the city's most critical problems, including education and infrastructure.

Riding a growing wave of religious conservatism, former culture and education minister Anies Baswedan won the election, beating incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who was dogged by allegations he had committed blasphemy while seeking election.

Some political experts said Anies owed his success in the runoff election to Muslim voters who decided to throw their support behind him, mobilized by Muslim groups, including the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI).

Following Ahok's loss in the election, thousands of people showed their support for the governor by turning City Hall into a jungle of colorful flower boards last week.

Admirers sent flower boards to express their sympathy, sadness, or support for Ahok and Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat, who conceded defeat in the April 19 election ahead of the official announcement of the results.

A political analyst from Indo Barometer, M. Qodari, said that the flowers sent to the military and the police headquarters were a clear sign that there were some Jakarta residents who were worried about the impact of the election.

Qodari described the flowers as a "cry for help" from Jakarta residents, besides being a token of gratitude to law enforcement officers.

"Some people are worried that recently conservative groups have gotten a bigger stage and have taken control of the public sphere," he told The Jakarta Post. "Therefore, they ask for help from the police and the military."

Messages on other flower arrangements called for the police to arrest FPI leader Rizieq Shihab and to disband his organization.

Responding to the messages, Argo said, "There is nothing wrong with sending messages through flowers. Deciding whether to say something has broken the law is up to the police."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/04/jakartans-call-for-help-against-radicalism.html

Ahok did not defame Islam: Harvard alumni petition

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Jakarta – A group of Indonesian alumni of Harvard University and its fellowship programs has started an online petition, urging the judges of North Jakarta District Court to free Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama from all blasphemy charges.

The petition from the graduates of the United States university has attracted more than 60,000 votes as of Wednesday, a week before the court plans to hand down its verdict against Ahok on May 9.

At the April 20 hearing, the prosecutors demanded the judges sentence Ahok to two years' probation if found guilty of violating Article 156 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on showing animosity toward others. They admitted they could not prove Ahok had insulted Islam as a whole, but only individual Muslims.

The Harvard alumni are of the opinion that Ahok's act did not qualify as a violation of any part of Article 156, namely hostility, hatred or contempt against an ethnicity, religion and race. The act in question is a speech he gave in Thousand Islands regency in September that quoted Surah Al Maidah 51, a Quranic verse of­ten used by cer­tain con­ser­va­tive Mus­lim groups to urge Mus­lims to vote only for po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates who share the same faith.

"... supremacy of law should be upheld. The courtroom should be a place where truth and justice are upheld, not a place for justification and legitimation of mobocracy," the petition stated.

The trial against Ahok started on Dec. 13 after a so-called anti-blasphemy movement drew more than a million Muslims to rallies to push the government to indict the governor based on an edited video of his September speech. (kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/ahok-did-not-defame-islam-harvard-alumni-petition.html

Treason, sedition & pancasila ideology

TNI and Police chiefs to be summoned over treason spat

Jakarta Post - May 7, 2017

Jakarta – The Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said on Saturday that he would soon summon Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian for different views on treason charges against the government.

"I will gather them to answer your questions," Wiranto told journalists on Saturday as reported by kompas.com.

In a local TV show on Thursday, Gatot insisted Islamic groups staging protests against lame duck Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama would not use the platform to overthrow the President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo administration.

He said that he was offended by reports that linked the large-scale protests with a planned coup and went on to say that such information was false and made up to scare citizens.

His statements came as a blow to the National Police, which charged several people accused of treason attempts against Jokowi in December 2016 and in March.

The National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto refused to comment regarding Gatot's statements. However, he said the police continued investigations into the treason allegations. (rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/07/tni-and-police-chiefs-to-be-summoned-over-treason-spat.html

Universities must prevent spread of anti-Pancasila ideologies: Wiranto

Jakarta Post - May 5, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto has called on universities to tackle the spread of ideologies that are opposed to the nation's founding principles of Pancasila.

"Universities are expected to take part in countering ideologies that are not in line with Pancasila," Wiranto told deputy rectors on student affairs from the Greater Jakarta area on Thursday.

It was important that academics use the freedom they had in academia to build the nation in accordance with the principles of Pancasila, he argued. "If there is another ideology existing besides Pancasila, that would create chaos and instability," Wiranto said.

Meanwhile, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University deputy rector Yusron Razak, who attended the meeting, acknowledged that many types of discourses that are anti-Pancasila had emerged in his university. However, he said, the university could not just ban such discourse because it was essentially a place where anyone was free to express his or her thoughts.

Yusron said the thing that should be avoided and anticipated was potential conflict arising as a result of the ideological differences. "It is the police that should step in to prevent any possible conflicts among students or members of society," he added. (saf/rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/04/universities-must-prevent-spread-of-anti-pancasila-ideologies-wiranto.html

Environment & natural disasters

Indonesia launches $2.6 billion lawsuit over WA oil spill

Sydney Morning Herald - May 4, 2017

Jewel Topsfield, Jakarta – The Indonesian government has launched a $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) lawsuit against the company responsible for the worst oil spill in the history of Australia's offshore petroleum industry.

An estimated 300,000 litres of oil a day belched into the Timor Sea for more than 10 weeks after the Montara wellhead operated by Perth-based PTTEP Australasia sprung a leak and then exploded on August 21, 2009.

Seaweed farmers and fishermen in East Nusa Tenggara, one of the poorest regions of Indonesia, claim their livelihoods were devastated by the Montara oil spill which they say destroyed their crops and killed fish. PTTEP Australasia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PTTEP, the Thai state-owned oil company.

The Indonesian Government has also slapped a moratorium on issuing exploration and exploitation permits in Indonesia to PTTEP until the company "resolves the problem concretely".

The civil lawsuit, which was registered in the Central Jakarta District Court on Wednesday afternoon, is the second court case PTTEP Australasia will have to fight.

More than 13,000 seaweed farmers also launched a $200 million class action over the Montara oil spill in the Federal Court in Sydney last August.

The Montara oil spill was the third worst by volume in Australia's history and the worst from offshore oil production.

In 2002, 61-year-old Albert Ngguse was one of the villagers from Tablolong in East Nusa Tenggara who began farming seaweed, which is exported and used in agar, a cooking ingredient, and carrageenan, a seaweed-derived thickening agent used in many products.

"Because of seaweed you could say our village was rich – before that we were simple fishermen," Mr Ngguse told Fairfax Media.

With each harvest, Mr Ngguse said he could produce four to six tonnes of seaweed, which he sold for 22500 IDR (about $2.25 a kilogram.) "I could earn hundreds of millions of rupiah each year," he said.

Tablolong Village secretary Mester E. Bessie said 537 tonnes of seaweed was harvested in 2008. The year after the oil spill – 2010 – it dropped to 13 tonnes.

Mr Ngguse went back to fishing. "But the fishes are gone too. Nothing like before. For three years after the spill I suffered a skin condition. At first it itched, then it turned red like a burn scar, when the skin breached, the liquid inside it spread and the itchiness spread. I got it all over my body, excuse me, other than my private parts it was all over my body."

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan, told Fairfax Media last month: "The money will go to the ground, to the people, to fix the area, especially the seaweed area. It is very important."

"The people of the area are victims of this oil spill, they have to get compensation because it has been seven years with so far no support or help from this company,"

In a letter seen by Fairfax Media, the Deputy for Coordination on Maritime Sovereignty, Arif Havas Oegroseno said the President of Indonesia was giving special attention to the case.

"Numerous attempts made by the Indonesian government, ie conducting various meetings to request compensation and by setting up an independent commission bear no fruit whatsoever because PTTEP shows no goodwill to resolve the problem," Mr Havas wrote in the February 3 letter.

"The company has a poor track record in handling oil spill cases in the sea, with those affected by a similar case in Rayong in 2013 getting no compensation at all."

(In July 2013, a pipeline owned by PTT subsidiary PTT Global Chemical, burst while oil was being transferred from an undersea well to a tanker in the Gulf of Thailand.)

PTTEP Australasia would not comment before independently verifying the lawsuit had been filed. However it has stated previously that based on extensive independent scientific research overseen by the Australian government, no oil from Montara reached the shores of Indonesia and that no long-term damage was done to the environment in the Timor Sea.

The studies, the largest body of research ever undertaken into the Timor Sea environment, according to a spokesman, are publicly available through both Australia's Department of the Environment and PTTEP Australasia websites.

The 2010 Montara Commission of Inquiry, which had nearly all the powers of a Royal Commission, found "the way that PTTEPAA operated the Montara Oilfield did not come within a 'bulls roar' of sensible oilfield practice".

Commissioner David Borthwick said it was unlikely the full environmental consequences of the blowout would ever be known. "The evidence before the Inquiry indicated that hydrocarbons did enter Indonesian and Timor Leste waters to a significant degree," the report said.

– With Amilia Rosa

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/indonesia-launches-26-billion-lawsuit-over-wa-oil-spill-20170504-gvyqp3.html

Students & campus life

New regulation to prevent spread of radicalism on campus

Jakarta Post - May 6, 2017

Suherdjoko, Semarang, Central Java – The Research and Technology and Higher Education Ministry is preparing a regulation to control the spread of radical views on campuses.

All academic elements from students to lecturers at universities across Indonesia have been influenced by radicalism, which creates a high risk of national disintegration, the ministry says.

"We are preparing the antiradicalism regulation as an anticipatory measure. We have included the state defense [bela negara] and the archipelagic outlook [wawasan kebangsaan] into our school curriculum since 2016," said Research and Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohammad Nasir on Saturday.

"The four state pillars, namely the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia [NKRI], the state ideology of Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution and national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika [Unity in Diversity] must be guarded," he went on.

The minister was speaking in front of thousands of students from Central Java and Yogyakarta during a lecture at Semarang State University on Saturday.

Nasir said rectors of universities had to be held accountable if students or lecturers became entrapped in radical movements. "This is because radical teachings should have been detected before they spread. Each institution has regulations, which carry sanctions, to prevent the spread of such teachings," he said.

National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) head Comr. Gen. Suhardi Alius said students, as the next generation of the nation, had to be kept away from radicalism, drug abuse and other negative influences.

"Therefore, lecturers, deans and rectors must be able to detect any of their students acting suspiciously," he said. (ebf)

Preserving unity: Representatives of universities from across Central Java and Yogyakarta sign a declaration on their allegiance to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia and on their commitment to fighting against radicalism, in Semarang on Saturday.(JP/Suherdjoko)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/06/new-regulation-to-prevent-spread-of-radicalism-on-campus.html

LBGT & same-sex marriage

Indonesia faces the United Nations on LGBTI issues

Gay Star News - May 5, 2017

Shannon Power – Indonesia faced up to intense scrutiny from its fellow United Nations member states.

This week Indonesia underwent its 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.

Indonesia was given more than 10 recommendations related to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Austria, Spain, Sweden and Czech Republic reviewed Indonesia's human rights efforts.

Indonesia had claimed to make progress on human rights but made no mention of LGBTI issues.

The UPR representative from Sweden said that, 'although same-sex sexual relations are not criminalized in Indonesia, there are no national laws specifically protecting LGBTI persons against discrimination.'

'Discriminatory provisions exists in, for example, the Anti-Pornography Law containing specific discriminatory language against homosexuality, as well as in local laws,' they said.

The Australian representative said their country, 'further recommends Indonesia intensify efforts to respect and uphold freedom of expression, assembly, and religion and belief, and to prevent discriminatory on any grounds including sexual orientation and gender identity'.

The ASEAN SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression) Caucus highlighted the ongoing violations of human rights for LGBTI people in Indonesia that still occur.

It said there were still various discriminatory laws and regulations in at least 13 provinces used to persecute LGBTI people in the country.

'Conditions deteriorated further in early 2016 after high-ranking officials issued discriminatory statements condemning LGBTIQ people, fuelling greater hostilities,' the Caucus said in a statement.

'Activists in Indonesia have documented at least 142 cases against LGBTIQ people since 2015, ranging from the disbandment of LGBTIQ-related events to threats of violence directed to LGBTIQ individuals or activists.

'There are also on-going efforts to criminalize homosexuality within the draft of the new criminal code being discussed in the House of Representatives.

'In addition, the Constitutional Court recently concluded its judicial review of a petition submitted by 'Aliansi Cinta Keluarga', which seeks to make same-sex sexual conduct a criminal act. The decision will be released in the 3rd quarter of 2017.'

Recommendations received during the UPR focused on ensuring non-discrimination on the basis of SOGIE. These included recommendations to repeal established discriminatory laws and to halt attempts to criminalize same-sex relations.

Moving forward

'We at ASEAN SOGIE Caucus appreciate the work of states that highlighted the plight of LGBTIQ people in their recommendations,' the caucus said in a statement.

'We hope that the Government of Indonesia will integrate these recommendations into their policies and programs and ensure that the human rights of all people are promoted and protected.

'Together with other civil society organizations, we reaffirm our commitment to work hand-in-hand on these issues.'

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/indonesia-faces-united-nations-lgbti-issues/

Indonesian gay porn arrests breach privacy

Gay Star News - May 5, 2017

Shannon Power – A police raid of a party in Indonesia last week that resulted in the detention of 14 allegedly gay men, eight of which were arrested on anti-pornography laws threatens LGBTI rights in the country.

The men were targeted in gay men in Surabaya with police ordering all 14 men to take HIV tests.

Acting on tip-offs from neighbors the police raided two hotel rooms at midnight on Sunday.

According to local media reports and activists, police detained the group while confiscating condoms, mobile phones, and a flash drive that allegedly contained pornographic videos.

The eight men who were detained on Law on Pornography charges could face up to 15 years in jail.

'Indonesian police are again violating the basic rights of LGBT people by invading their privacy,' said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

'The Surabaya raid subjected these gay men to traumatic humiliation, puts two at risk of long prison terms, and threatens the privacy rights of all Indonesians.'

Privacy breached

The HRW argued mandatory HIV testing was contrary to the ethical and human rights principles of privacy, autonomy, and informed consent.

Under the World Health Organization's 2015 Guidelines on HIV Testing and Counseling, 'Mandatory, compulsory or coercive HIV testing is never appropriate'.

HRW said privacy rights were a fundamental protection that underlie everyone's physical autonomy and identity. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the independent body of experts that interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is party, has stated: 'it is undisputed that adult consensual sexual activity in private is covered by the concept of 'privacy'.'

'So long as the government permits police raids on private gatherings under a discriminatory law, it will fail to curb anti-LGBT harassment and intimidation,' Kine said.

'[Indonesian] President Jokowi should make good on his commitments to protect privacy rights and put an end to state-sanctioned discrimination.'

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/indonesian-gay-porn-arrests-breach-privacy/

Eight men face jail over 'gay party' in Indonesia

SBS News - May 1, 2017

Indonesian police have arrested eight men for allegedly holding a "gay party" in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, police said Monday.

Officers busted 14 men holding the party in two hotel rooms in Surabaya, the second biggest city in Indonesia, around midnight on Sunday. Some of the men were watching gay porn and performing "deviant sexual acts", said Shinto Silitonga, Surabaya police's head of detectives.

Police named eight men as suspects and filed preliminary charges against them under Indonesia's tough anti-pornography law. Two of the eight could face up to 15 years in jail for initiating and facilitating the event. Six others were released.

"This is the first time we enforce the law and arrest gay people in the city," Silitonga told AFP.

Except for Aceh province, which upholds sharia law, gay sex is not illegal in Indonesia, which mainly follows a criminal code inherited from former colonial ruler the Netherlands.

However, there was a backlash against the country's LGBT community last year with government ministers publicly making anti-gay statements.

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/05/01/eight-men-face-jail-over-gay-party-indonesia

Eight men arrested for having a 'gay party'

Pink News - May 1, 2017

Josh Jackman – Eight men have been arrested for holding a "gay party" in Indonesia. The two alleged organisers of last night's event in Surabaya, the second biggest city in Indonesia, could face up to 15 years in prison.

Six other attendees have had charges filed against them under the country's strict anti-pornography law, according to Agence France-Presse.

Shinto Silitonga, the local police's head of detectives, said there were 14 men in two hotel rooms watching gay porn and performing "deviant sexual acts"."This is the first time we enforce the law and arrest gay people in the city," he told AFP.

Silitonga, who regularly posts on his Facebook page about arrests he's made, wrote that police had confiscated motorcycles and cars from the arrested men at what he called a "GAY PARTY".

He claimed the men had been stroking each other's chests, adding: "May the law enforcement approach be one instrument to minimise similar actions."

It is not clear what damage the men were causing – or, indeed, what law they were breaking – by allegedly stroking each other.

Being gay is not illegal in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, except in Aceh, a province which won this concession from the government in 2005 as part of a peace deal.

Just last month, two men were arrested under this law, and face being hit up to 100 times each with a cane. The 20 and 23-year-old men were informed on by their neighbour, who took video footage of them allegedly having gay sex.

The country is secular, but its anti-pornography law, passed in 2008, is seen as trying to target liberals and the LGBT community. The law was heavily backed by Islamic parties who helped to draft it, and opposed by minority groups.

Last year, the government announced it would ban access to Tumblr because the site featured LGBT content and porn, before eventually reconsidering.

And anti-LGBT discrimination is generally widespread in Indonesia, to the extent that a study last month found it could be costing the country $12 billion per year.

This is because attitudes towards LGBT people have become steadily more extreme in recent years, despite a growing gay population. The Indonesian Psychiatrists Association classifies homosexuality, bisexuality and being transgender as illnesses.

And in January, petitioners argued in the country's Constitutional Court that sex outside of marriage – such as LGBT sex – could turn Indonesia into an "uncivilised nation" and should be criminalised.

A gay couple from the country's North Sulawesi province were arrested last year after they posted photos on Facebook showing them kissing in bed.

Also last year, it was announced that the country's government would clamp down on gay culture – instituting a ban on online "gay propaganda" after a request from the police.

Communications ministry spokesman Noor Iza confirmed that apps including Grindr, Blued and BoyAhoy would be blocked, claiming they were "promoting gay lifestyles".

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/05/01/eight-men-arrested-for-having-a-gay-party/

Graft & corruption

Thousands sign petition to protest House's inquiry into KPK

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Jakarta – Rejection of the House of Representatives' move to initiate an inquiry into the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has continued to get support.

A petition posted by a person identified as Virgo Sulianto Gohardi on an online petition website, Change.org, is inviting citizens to protest against the inquiry.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition, five days after it was posted on April 28, had garnered almost 30,000 signatures.

Virgo stated in the preamble to the petition that the House's approval to initiate an inquiry as proposed by 25 lawmakers from eight House factions could weaken the KPK, especially in its investigation into a high profile e-ID graft case.

"This political decision by House members is an abuse of their authority, done to interfere in and hamper the legal proceedings of the KPK's investigation into the e-ID graft case," Virgo wrote.

Virgo has invited the nation to join hands and fight the House's move and give full support to the KPK in its fight against corruption.

An internet user identified as Slamet Tedi Siswoyo, who signed the petition, said he did so because the government and the House are supposed to work together to combat corrupt officials.

"Looking at their position on supporting the inquiry into the KPK, it is now clear that House is indeed the corrupt officials' den," Slamet wrote on the page. (hol/bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/thousands-sign-petition-to-protest-houses-inquiry-into-KPK.html

Police still struggling to solve Novel assault case

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Jakarta – More than three weeks after the acid attack on Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan, the Jakarta Police have yet to name a suspect, insisting that they still need to question more witnesses.

Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Wednesday that the police were still looking into whether the attack was related to Novel's job as a KPK investigator or driven by personal motives.

"We have yet to find a person responsible for the attack," he said as quoted by kompas.com, adding that they would only take action based on information gathered from the field.

On April 11 Novel was left with severe burns to his face after he was attacked with a "noxious substance" while on his way home after performing morning prayers in a mosque near his house in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, on Tuesday. He was rushed to Mitra Keluarga Hospital in Kelapa Gading to receive medical treatment.

As one of the KPK's top investigators, Novel has led the investigations into several high-profile cases, such as those related to the procurement of driving simulators by the National Police and the construction of the Hambalang sports complex.

Novel is currently leading the investigation into the e-ID embezzlement case, which has implicated several House of Representatives members and high-ranking government officials. (idb)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/police-still-struggling-to-solve-novel-assault-case.html

Defying Fahri, PKS opposes inquiry into KPK

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) has sent a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto rejecting the House's decision to initiate an inquiry into a Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) graft investigation.

The letter, signed by PKS faction chairman Jazuli Juwaini and faction secretary Sukamta on May 2, stated that the process leading to the decision to initiate the inquiry during a plenary session on April 28 did not follow procedure.

"The decision made on the plenary session did not consider voices and opinions from all factions and members, as regulated in the House's 2014 code of conduct," the letter states.

Lawmakers walk out of a plenary session in protest against a decision to launch an inquiry on April 28.(Antara/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

During the plenary session, House Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah, who chaired the meeting, unilaterally banged the gavel to pass the inquiry. Members of the Gerindra Party, the Democratic Party and the National Awakening Party (PKB) factions walked out the room in protest.

Despite Fahri's status as a PKS member at the House, PKS chairman Sohibul Iman said last week that the outspoken politician no longer represented the party.

Fahri and PKS have a complicated relationship after the lawmaker filed a lawsuit challenging the party's decision to strip him of his party membership.

The controversy surrounding the inquiry began when members of House Commission III on security, human rights and legal affairs opposed the KPK's investigation into the high-profile e-ID case.

During a court hearing in the case, a witness claimed that Hanura Party politician Miryam S. Haryani, now a perjury suspect, had been intimidated by lawmakers after being questioned by KPK investigators and before testifying in court. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/defying-fahri-pks-opposes-inquiry-into-KPK.html

Police arrest Hanura politician at center of e-ID case

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2017

Jakarta – The National Police have arrested Miryam S Haryani, a former Hanura Party lawmaker, at a hotel in South Jakarta.

Miryam has been named a suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for alleged perjury after she withdrew her affidavit during a hearing in a corruption trial related to the e-ID case.

The KPK confronted Miryam during the trial since her earlier testimony, made in front of antigraft body investigators, was a crucial component of the case. Her testimony contained the names of lawmakers who allegedly received bribes in the project.

Miryam stands accused for giving false statements when she denied her affidavit during the trial hearing on March 23. She claims she was threatened by KPK investigators during the investigation process.

Before the arrest, Miryam had failed to meet KPK summons, arguing that she was in poor health. KPK later sent a letter to the police, informing them that Miryam had been included in the antigraft body's most-wanted list.

National Police spokesperson Ins. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said the police arrested Miryam at 2 a.m. early on Monday morning. He added that Miryam was cooperative when the police arrested her and she was found with another person when the arrest occurred.

"We will give details later. Now, Miryam has been taken to the headquarters of the Jakarta Police," he said as quoted by kompas.com. (rdi/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/01/police-arrest-hanura-politician-at-center-of-e-id-case.html

Hard-line & vigilante groups

Rise of hard-line Islamist groups alarms moderate Indonesian Muslims

Washington Post - May 7, 2017

Jakarta, Indonesia – In mid-February, Muhammad al-Khaththath, leader of the hard-line Muslim Community Forum, held court on the top floor of a Jakarta fast-food joint. With key deputies gathered around, he explained the direction he hoped to push relatively secular, democratic Indonesia.

Sharia would become the law of the land, non-Muslims would lose their leadership posts, and thieves, in accordance with Islamic law, would have their hands lopped off, he said. He also criticized Joko Widodo, Indonesia's pluralist president. Widodo "isn't a liberal Muslim," Khaththath said. "He's a Muslim who doesn't get it."

Six weeks later, Khaththath was detained on treason charges, accused of plotting a coup. But in an April 19 runoff election for governor of Jakarta, his preferred candidate, fellow Muslim Anies Baswedan, defeated the Christian incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, after a campaign laden with religious overtones.

Since then, hard-line Islamist groups have gained stature; their ability to mobilize huge crowds was considered crucial to securing Baswedan's lopsided victory. But a strong backlash also has emerged, led by moderate Muslims who worry that conservative Islamists are wrecking Indonesia's tradition of religious tolerance.

Khaththath had taken over as the leader of a powerful protest movement against Purnama, a Widodo ally, in the months leading up to the gubernatorial election, after the previous leader was summoned by police on pornography charges.

But police came for Khaththath in late March, escorting him from his hotel room to the detention facility where he remains. A few weeks later, on the eve of the election, Khaththath managed to send out a letter to his supporters. "From my detention room, I tap on the sky door," Khaththath wrote. He hoped the tap would be felt by "every Muslim heart" and would persuade the faithful to "choose a Muslim governor."

Not every Muslim heart felt the tap, but enough did to secure a clean victory for Baswedan. The high-stakes election campaign was marked by the largest conservative Islamist rallies in generations, as well as by intensifying – and controversial – legal efforts by the Indonesian government to rein in the hard-line groups' leadership.

Now that the election is over, many moderate Muslim leaders say they are treating it as a wake-up call about the growing power of Indonesian hard-line organizations and the need to take stern action to stop them.

"I am not worried about the candidates who won," said Sidarto Danusobroto, a former speaker of the Senate and key adviser to the president. "I am worried about the groups that supported them – the Islamic Defenders Front and Hizbut Tahrir."

"Islam is different from how the Islamic Defenders Front portrays it," said Mohammad Nuruzzaman, head of strategic research for Ansor, a moderate Muslim youth movement that has been working with the police to break up hard-line Muslim gatherings.

In one of a number of efforts in the past few weeks to curb extremists, police officials and nationalist groups in the central Javanese town of Semarang prevented the Islamic Defenders Front from opening a branch.

"We have a tolerant city," explained Iwan Santoso, a representative from the Red and White, a group that takes its name from the colors of the Indonesian flag. "We don't want students to be instigated."

This week, police in East Java, apparently acting at the urging of moderate Muslims or nationalists, shut down a planned university event featuring Felix Siauw, a Chinese Indonesian convert to Islam who has become a major hard-line preacher. In a Web video subsequently uploaded to his Facebook page, Siauw complained, "We should have a nation of laws, and the laws should apply to all."

But moderate Muslim and civil society groups increasingly are calling for bans on Muslim organizations that push for the creation of a caliphate. Nuruzzaman compared such organizations to the Indonesian Communist Party, a boogeyman from Indonesia's past.

"The goal of Communists and those who support the caliphate are similar – both want all countries in the world to be run under one system," he said.

On Tuesday, police announced that they were reviewing the legality of Hizbut Tahrir because of the international Islamist group's embrace of a global caliphate. Muhammad Ismael Yusanto, a spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir here, protested that its goal of establishing a caliphate does not violate the Indonesian constitution.

"All we do is convey Islam's teachings," he said in an interview. Besides, he argued, the constitution can be amended.

Hizbut Tahrir is banned in many countries around the world, including Germany, China, Egypt and numerous other Arab states. But it has operated for nearly 20 years in democratic Indonesia.

Some rights activists oppose banning the group. Andreas Harsono, Indonesia representative of Human Rights Watch, said that although Hizbut Tahrir's ideology is deeply discriminatory – toward women, LGBT people and minority faiths – that does not mean the organization should be shut down.

"It is not illegal to say 'I want to discriminate against women,'?" he argued, acknowledging that the case is "complicated."

More worrying to Harsono are the Indonesian government's efforts to pursue radical religious leaders for alleged offenses unrelated to their Islamist activism, or on exaggerated charges.

Habib Rizieq, perhaps the nation's most powerful hard-line figure, was brought in for questioning by police over pornographic images he allegedly exchanged with a woman not his wife, while Khaththath, the detained Islamic leader, was charged with trying to organize a coup.

"It's very concerning," said Harsono, who said he knows of no evidence that Khaththath was plotting the violent overthrow of the government.

Marcus Mietzner, an associate professor at Australian National University, expressed worry that heavy-handed charges would harm Indonesia's democracy.

"What they should not do is arbitrarily throw criminal charges at individual leaders that are either excessive, like the treason accusation, or unrelated, as the pornography case," he wrote in an email. "This, in turn, will only increase the sense of victimization among conservative Muslims."

That already appears to be happening. Achmad Sofyan, a Khaththath deputy who was also investigated by police, said: "It isn't fair. The case was engineered."

Mietzner suggested that the government has legal ways to handle hard-line groups but has opted for different tactics in part to avoid a messy public debate. If the state prosecuted these groups, "it would have to argue in front of the courts why Islam should not be Indonesia's primary legal-political foundation," he wrote.

For Nuruzzaman, the moderate Muslim leader, it is crucial to oppose the hard-liners, whatever the difficulties. "We don't want the government to take repressive measures," he said. Nonetheless, "we have to confront them."

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/rise-of-hard-line-islamist-groups-alarms-moderate-indonesian-muslims/2017/05/05/0175c7e6-2f77-11e7-a335-fa0ae1940305_story.html

Riau Islands police to monitor hard-line groups operating in mosques

Jakarta Post - May 7, 2017

Fadli, Batam, Riau Islands – The Riau Islands Police are increasing security measures to monitor hard-line Islamic groups whose members tend to give religious sermons to local communities across Riau Islands province.

Such measures were taken to prevent the spread of religious teachings that could lead to radical behavior, a police officer has said.

Riau Islands Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Saptono Erlangga said the police had obtained a list of names of people who were registered as members of hard-line Islamic groups that often led religious sermons in Muslim communities in the province, especially Batam.

"We have the records and we are monitoring them routinely. As long as their activities do not harm the people, we will only monitor their activities," said Saptono.

He refused to mention the names and number of radical preachers included in the list. "As long as the content of their sermons is fine, we will let it happen," said Saptono.

He was speaking in response to a circular issued by the Bangka Belitung Islands Police in Pangkal Pinang on April 28. Signed by Pangkalpinang Police security intelligence director Adj. Comr. M. Adi Putra, the circular regulates the activities of mass organizations or community groups that carry out their activities in mosques.

In the letter, the police asked all mosque administrators to report individuals or groups that had used their mosques to hold religious activities or deliver sermons to Muslim communities in the areas. The letter spread among Muslim communities in Batam via WhatsApp. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/07/riau-islands-police-to-monitor-hard-line-groups-operating-in-mosques.html

Freedom of religion & worship

High school students show escalating support for IS, ending secularist

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2017

Jakarta – Many may find the results of a recent research study conducted by the Culture and Education Ministry about intolerance among students concerning.

Some 8.5 percent of student respondents said they wanted to see changes to the country's founding principles as a secular nation to make Indonesia an Islamic-based country, while 7.2 percent said of respondents said they supported the Islamic State (IS) group.

Nur Berlian Venus Ali, a researcher at the ministry's Education and Culture Policy Research Center, said the research was conducted to follow up on a previous study conducted in 2015, which showed that many state senior high school students contained perceptions and notions that deviated from the country's traditional nationalistic values.

On Wednesday, Culture and Education Minister Muhadjir Effendy said the ministry would force schools to conduct activities centered on developing solidarity and tolerance in an effort to curb intolerance at schools.

According to the minister, the intolerant behavior of students was due to the influence of outside schools. "I have also asked education agency heads [in regions] to scrutinize all activities involving third parties," Muhadjir said as quoted by kompas.com. (hol/bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/04/high-school-students-show-escalating-support-for-is-ending-secularist-foundation-study.html

Islamic scholars told to take leading role in countering intolerance

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Ciputat, Banten – Lecturers at state Islamic universities, known for their moderate and progressive interpretations of religious tenets, should be at the forefront in tackling the rise of intolerant groups that try to dominate public discourse by exploiting religious sentiment, a scholar has argued.

Unlike lecturers at state universities, academics at state Islamic universities have more authority to talk about religion, especially Islam, and to counter the rhetoric used by hard-line groups such as the Islam Defenders Front (FPI).

"I can debate [with them] in politics or economics, but when they start using religious verses [to counter my argument], I am done," Freedom Institute executive director Rizal Mallarangeng said at a book discussion at the Syarief Hidayatullah State Islamic Universities in Ciputat, Banten, on Tuesday.

Rizal said Islamic scholars countering the rhetoric of intolerant groups was nothing new. He mentioned respected figure Nurcholish Madjid, aka Cak Nur, as an Islamic scholar who spread the message of moderate Islam and therefore significantly contained violent religious ideas.

"We need more people like Cak Nur or Gus Dur," Rizal said, referring to the late former president and pluralism hero Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid. Gus Dur was also a former chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama, the nation's largest Islamic organization.

"We need to reinforce the role of the UIN in countering radical ideas [...] this is work for the UIN," said Iding Rosyidin, head of the political sciences department at the university.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/02/islamic-scholars-told-to-take-leading-role-in-countering-intolerance.html

Islam & religion

Religion should incorporate local cultures, not foreign: NU chairman

Jakarta Post - May 6, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – The country's biggest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has said religion in the archipelago should incorporate local cultures.

Religion in the country should not incorporate the culture of another country, the NU further said.

NU chairman Said Aqil Siroj said the NU developed in Indonesia by accommodating local cultures. Many traditional practices had been preserved and incorporated with Islamic values.

Citing an example, Said stated that NU followers commonly held tahlilan (prayer gathering) to mark the seventh, 40th, 100th and 1,000th day of the passing of relatives. Such a practice could not be found in other Muslim communities around the world.

"The practice had long existed in local culture when the NU was formed," he said during a work meeting of the Nahdliyin Employers Association (HPN) in Jagakarsa, South Jakarta on Friday.

Said further explained that by incorporating local cultures, the NU could help promote peaceful Islam in Indonesia. He asserted that the best way to spread Islam in Indonesia was by conveying Islamic messages through strong culture. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/06/religion-should-incorporate-local-cultures-not-foreign-nu-chairman.html

Sex, pornography & morality

Police confiscate FPI leader's phone

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta Police have confiscated a cell phone belonging to firebrand Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab.

The confiscation of the phone took place in relation to the police's investigation into pornographic conversations that allegedly occurred between Rizieq and Firza Husein, a treason suspect. The steamy chats leaked onto the internet earlier this year.

The leaked material was uploaded onto the now-blocked website baladacintarizieq.com. Screenshots of the chats display saucy, sinful, sensational messages and nude pictures. A voice message allegedly containing Firza's voice was also uploaded.

The phone was not taken from Rizieq himself but from Muchsin Alatas, head of the FPI Jakarta branch, said Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono.

"[The police got the phone] from someone else. From Muchsin," Argo said as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com on Tuesday, adding that the phone was not given to them voluntarily.

The investigators, he said, found messages containing "intense things" between Rizieq and Firza on the phone. However, he refused to disclose the content. "We will reveal it all during [their] trial," he said.

The police detained Firza last February and searched her house in Lubang Buaya, East Jakarta, to obtain evidence regarding the case. Firza was later released. Firza, Rizieq, Rizieq's wife and a friend of Firza's were summoned again last Tuesday for questioning. However, none of them showed up. (dea)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/police-confiscate-fpi-leaders-phone.html

Jakarta police to summon FPI's Rizieq following Mecca pilgrimage

Jakarta Globe - May 2, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta Police will issue a summons to firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab regarding his alleged involvement in a pornographic texting scandal following his return from a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Rizieq, leader of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), skipped a similar summons from police late last month.

"We will check with our investigators, but [Rizieq] is still on his pilgrimage. We will wait [until his return], and then coordinate our next summons," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono said on Tuesday (02/05).

Argo said only police investigators are privy to the content of the questions planned for Rizieq.

"The investigators [...] have the complete materials. The most important issue for us is to summon witnesses. It is our investigators who know whether [the witnesses] will be summoned as a group or individually. We will just have to wait for their decision," he said.

Meanwhile, Rizieq's lawyer, Sugito Atmo Prawiro, confirmed that his client will finally submit to police questioning upon his return from Mecca.

"Because he is a good citizen, Rizieq will comply with the summons. However, he wants to see the actual questions beforehand, as is [Rizieq's] right within our legal system," Sugito said.

"If the questions are exaggerated, we will protest. His attendance, hopefully, will not be a problem. We will adhere to the process accordingly," he said.

Sugito also said he has yet to receive Rizieq's summons request from Jakarta Police. "We do not know when the summons will take place [...] the request should be sent three days prior to the day of questioning. We have not received it yet, nor do we know when [Rizieq] will be questioned."

Rizieq was previously reported to police for allegedly violating the 2008 Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) law by exchanging pornographic material with his supposed girlfriend, Firza Husein, over the popular messaging service WhatsApp.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/jakarta-police-summon-fpis-rizieq-following-mecca-pilgrimage/

Civil service & bureaucracy

KPK, ombudsman call for action against dual function of civil servants

Jakarta Globe - May 5, 2017

Jakarta – The national antigraft agency organized a forum on the perils of the double role assumed by civil servants employed by state-owned enterprises, inviting the Ombudsman of the Republic of Indonesia and the Indonesian Civil Service Commission, or ICSC, to its office in South Jakarta on Thursday (04/05).

Ombudsman Alamsyah Saragih, ICSC member Waluyo Martowiyoto and Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Agus Rahardjo spoke about the conflicts of interest and vulnerability to corruption in state-owned enterprises that employ civil servants as their commissioners.

"Conflicts of interest are the roots of corruption, this should be fixed by the government," said Waluyo, a former director of state-owned energy company Pertamina.

Double dipping – when officials are billing both the state agencies and enterprises that employ them – was a common practice in the Suharto era.

"It started when civil servants in the Suharto era were obtaining insufficient salaries, so they searched for other jobs, the easiest way was through state-owned enterprises," Agus said, adding that the double role is most commonly assumed by top-level officials. This form of governance, however, is not only unethical, but also against the law.

"It is actually against the Law on Public Service, Article 17," Alamsyah said. "If a director at the Ministry of Agriculture serves as commissioner at a fertilizer company, will he be on the farmers' side? I don't think so," Agus added.

The double dipping practice has been observed especially at the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Public Works, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health. According to the Ombudsman, it currently involves 222 commissioners at various state companies.

"People from these ministries account for majority of double dipping cases, however, the Ombudsman can't take an action, we can only send a recommendation to the president," Alamsyah said.

"For example, one person at the same time is a supervisor at the financial authority [OJK] and a commissioner at a financial company, I can't mention his name though," he added.

"There are only two institutions that can fix this problem, the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform and the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises," he said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/KPK-ombudsman-call-action-dual-function-civil-servants-commissioners/

Criminal justice & legal system

Calls for Indonesia to abolish death penalty, uphold human rights in

Jakarta Globe - May 7, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesia expressed its commitment to address challenges that hamper its efforts to improve and protect human rights at home, during the 27th session of the United Nations Universal Period Review in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday (05/05).

While the country was praised for the improvements it has made on human rights, such as the ratification of various international conventions, the delegations of several countries raised their concerns and recommended that Indonesia should do more.

Indonesia accepted 150 of the 225 recommendations it received from 101 delegations during the review, while undertaking to examine the remainder.

The country is expected to state its position on the pending recommendations by no later than September, during the 36th session of the Human Rights Council.

The recommendations touched on several issues, including the abolition of the death penalty, preventing discrimination against religious minorities, ensuring the right to freedom of expression, repealing existing laws on blasphemy and promoting women's rights and the rights of vulnerable groups.

Capital punishment

Dozens of countries, including Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom, criticized Indonesia for its continued use of capital punishment for drug offenders and the perpetrators of major crimes, such as murder and terrorism.

During Indonesia's review on Wednesday, Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly, who led the Indonesian delegation along with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, said the "death penalty is still part of Indonesia's positive law."

"[...] It is our conviction that the rights of the offender must always be weighed against the rights of the victims, their families and the broader rights of their community to live in peace and security, as stipulated in our constitution," Yasonna said.

He added that the firm action by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration against drug offenders is based on the fact that narcotics remain among the top-three on the list of major causes of death for the Indonesian youth.

Death penalty has never been removed from Indonesian law, and that Jokowi is just fast-forwarding the process of executing those already convicted for drugs-related crimes.

Furthermore, the minister said Indonesia has always applied necessary safeguards based on international standards, which are in accordance with a strict due process of law. He added that Indonesia's current practice of capital punishment does not contravene any international conventions.

Human rights in Papua

Several countries also brought up the issue of human rights in Papua, voicing concern about alleged abuses and a lack of access by journalists to the area, despite the country recently having allowed foreign journalist to visit Papua for the first time in 70 years.

This New Zealand delegation recommended that Indonesia must "ensure human rights obligations in Papua are upheld, respected and promoted, including freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and the rights of women and minorities."

Australia, meanwhile, recommended that Indonesia should "finalize the investigation of all human rights cases in Papua."

In her response, Foreign Minister Retno said Papua is an integral part of Indonesia.

Radio New Zealand reported on Saturday that several Pacific island nations, including Vanuatu, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, issued a joint statement condemning Indonesia's human rights violations in West Papua, including crimes against humanity, at a council of ministers meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).

The coalition called for a resolution, which includes support of the right of West Papuan political self-determination.

In March, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in response to a question by a member of parliament that the country's regular engagements with Indonesia "have not revealed any information to support assertions of genocide in Papua."

The contradictory reports reveal that Indonesia has reason to consider Mexico's recommendation, which said the archipelago nation should "extend an invitation to the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples to visit Indonesia, including Papua."

Addressing issues related to access for foreign journalists, Retno said procedures have been simplified for journalists applying to visit Papua, and access has "significantly increased" to 41 percent in 2015 from the year before.

"Until the end of April 2017, we have received eight applications from journalists to visit Papua and all applications have been granted," Retno said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/calls-for-indonesia-to-abolish-death-penalty-uphold-human-rights-in-papua/

Foreign affairs & trade

Indonesia, Australia join hands to strengthen cybersecurity

Jakarta Globe - May 5, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesian and Australian officials met in Canberra on Thursday (04/05) at the joint Inaugural Cyber Policy Dialogue to increase cooperation in strengthening digital economy growth and ensuring an open and free cyberspace.

Thursday's meeting follows an agreement by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in February to increase joint cybersecurity measures and promote an open, safe and free Internet to spur economic growth and innovation.

"It is a priority of the Indonesian government to ensure a safe and open cyberspace, one that is directed for the purpose of peace," Desra Percaya, the Foreign Ministry's director general for Asia-Pacific and African affairs, said recently.

"These are key factors to push economic growth and prosperity for Indonesians and to realize our vision to become the largest digital economy in the region by 2020."

The Indonesian delegation, led by Desra, and their Australian counterparts discussed cyber-related strategies and security policies on the regional and global level, as well as the potential for future bilateral cooperative measures in cybersecurity capacity building.

Indonesia-Australia cooperation in cybersecurity is expected to strengthen institutions and workshops and ultimately increase bilateral dialogues to exchange policy initiatives.

In November, Australia appointed Tobias Feakin as the country's first ambassador for cyber-affairs as part of an effort to encourage collaboration between the Australian government, private companies and academic institutions to promote good governance in cybersecurity issues.

Thursday's meeting also focused on strengthening cooperation with countries around the world to combat global cybercrime. Feakin, who led the Australian delegation in Canberra, has been appointed to pioneer efforts to bolster cybersecurity measures Down Under.

"Robust cybersecurity mechanisms are essential for Indonesia's national security. Because of that, we need strong partnerships between governments, the private sector and the online community at large," Desra said.

In 2014, the National Police and the Australian Federal Police signed an agreement to establish a Cyber Crime Investigations Satellite Office in the Riau Islands to combat transnational cybercrime. That office is equipped with high-tech devices to support joint efforts.

A second cyberpolicy dialogue has been scheduled for 2018 in Indonesia.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-australia-join-hands-to-strengthen-cybersecurity/

Tourism & hospitality

Indonesia eyes top position on 2019 Muslim travel index

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2017

Jakarta – Tourism Minister Arief Yahya aims to put Indonesia in the leading position on the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) by 2019 from the current third position.

Indonesia has increased its score on the 2017 GMTI by two points to 72.6 from 70.6 in 2016, raising its position to third place.

Indonesia displaced Turkey, while Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have maintained their positions in first and second place, respectively, according to an annual survey by a leading authority on halal tourism, CrescentRating.

Even though Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, Arief suggested that all business players in the food and culinary sector certify their halal products and urged relevant government institutions to simplify halal certification.

"Many business players in the food sector think they don't need to obtain halal certification. They think Muslim travelers will feel secure," he added.

Indonesia has 10 halal destinations, such as those in West Nusa Tenggara, West Sumatra and Aceh, but they are not-well promoted, said the minister.

"This year we'll launch two digital applications to attract Muslim travelers," he said, adding that Indonesia hoped to attract 3.2 million Muslim travelers this year, 20 percent more than last year. (yon/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/04/indonesia-eyes-top-position-on-2019-muslim-travel-index.html

Economy & investment

Indonesia Q1 GDP growth edges up on higher exports

Reuters - May 5, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesia's economic growth edged up in the first quarter as improving momentum in its major trading partners and rising prices for some commodities underpinned exports, but some analysts say slow credit growth is hampering prospects for a strong GDP rebound.

Southeast Asia's largest economy grew 5.01 percent between January and March on an annual basis, the statistics bureau said on Friday (05/05), matching a Reuters poll and up slightly from the 4.94 percent pace in the previous quarter.

The resource-rich country struggled through years of slowing growth as a plunge in commodity prices hurt everything from exports to investment and households' purchasing power.

The recovery in prices of some of its main exports, such as palm oil and coal, helped economic growth pick up to 5.02 percent last year, from 4.79 percent in 2015.

In the first quarter, exports of goods and services rose more than 8 percent, which the head of the statistics bureau Suhariyanto attributed to rising prices of commodities like tea and shrimp. Demand was also supported by slightly better economic growth in China, the United States and Singapore – Indonesia's major trading partners.

"This is promising and in line with growth in our export partners," Suhariyanto told a press briefing accompanying the data.

Still, even as growth edged above the fourth quarter, London-based Capital Economics described first quarter performance as "another disappointing" outcome for the country.

"Looking ahead, with commodity prices likely to stay relatively depressed and credit growth set to remain weak, we expect growth to remain stuck at around 5 percent over the next couple of years," senior Asia economist Gareth Leather said in a note.

During the first three months of 2017, growth of private consumption, which accounts for more than half of Indonesia's gross domestic product, slowed slightly, while investment remained sluggish.

But the government, which helped drag growth when it cut spending in the second half of 2016, pulled more of its weight behind GDP growth in the first quarter.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told Reuters last month there will be no more spending cuts this year as revenue collection was on track to reach the government's target.

She said part of the spending will be redirected to more productive parts of the economy, including infrastructure, to help further boost growth.

Meanwhile, the mining sector swung back to contraction after starting to grow for a few quarters. Suhariyanto partly attributed the slump to a decline in production in major mining companies like Freeport Indonesia and Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara, as well as lower oil and gas output.

Improving growth in other major sectors like agriculture and manufacturing complemented the mining contraction.

Capital Economics' Leather believes the central bank is unlikely to support the economy with more rate cuts this year, having cut six times already last year. Therefore, "the slowdown in credit growth is unlikely to reverse anytime soon," he said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesia-q1-gdp-growth-edges-higher-exports/

Indonesian textile industry facing competition from Ethiopia

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – The government's effort to lure textile manufacturers away from China to the archipelago is facing a rising threat from East African country Ethiopia, which is offering companies a competitive cost structure.

Under an agreement with the United States, namely the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Ethiopian exports are not limited by duties and quotas, said Indonesian Textile Association (API) chairman Ade Sudrajat in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The country also has cheap labor and cheap electricity, as low as 4 US cents per kilowatt hour, he added.

"China's textile manufacturers are shifting their production overseas due to increased labor costs and air pollution. We want to attract them here. But some are already moving to Ethiopia," Ade said during a discussion on the textile industry.

According to data from the Ethiopian Investment Commission, 124 foreign investors have expressed an interest in the Ethiopian textile sector, 71 of which are from China.

Meanwhile, according to data from the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), investment realization in the Indonesian textile industry in 2016 decreased by 7.3 percent to Rp 7.55 trillion compared to 8.14 trillion in 2015.

Foreign investors only contributed 42.5 percent in 2016, the lowest in six years. "Some of our members are actually already invested in Ethiopia," Ade said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/04/indonesian-textile-industry-facing-competition-from-ethiopia.html

Complicated procedures hinder disappointed consumers from filing

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2017

Suherdjoko, Semarang, Central Java – A recent consumer survey carried out by the Trade Ministry showed that 37 percent of respondents had experienced a loss but opted not to file a complaint.

These people were part of the 42 percent of respondents who said they had been disappointed by their provider recently. The study also showed that 20 percent of consumers said the complaints process was too long and complicated.

"Consumers are not yet able to fight for their rights as consumers. The survey also showed that 24 percent said they were not aware of channels to file a complaint," Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said during the commemoration of National Consumers Day at the Central Java provincial administration office in Semarang on Wednesday.

He reiterated that the government was committed to improving consumer protection in accordance with the 1999 law on consumer protection. "If consumers fight for their rights, businesspeople will be spurred to improve the quality of products and services," he said.

At the same event, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo boasted of the uniqueness of batik originating from different areas in Central Java.

"Civil servants in Central Java only wear uniforms on Mondays. They wear batik for the rest of the week. There are different batik cloths from Surakarta, Pekalongan, Temanggung, Blora, Semarang and Klaten," said Ganjar. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/03/complicated-procedures-hinder-disappointed-consumers-from-filing-complaints-trade-minister.html

Analysis & opinion

Anti-Ahok protests: why were Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah sidelined?

Indonesia at Melbourne - May 4, 2017

Syarif Syechbubakr – In late 2016 and early 2017, Indonesians were shocked by series of mass demonstrations against Jakarta's Chinese and Christian Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama over alleged blasphemy against Islam. The protests prompted many critical analyses about an apparent backslide in Indonesian pluralism, religious tolerance and democracy.

But one important aspect of the protests that has been only sparsely covered is how the two largest Islamic organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, which together claim to represent 75 million Indonesians, were seemingly sidelined by smaller organisations, such as the Islamic Community Forum (FUI), Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), Persis (Islamic Union), and, first and foremost, notorious vigilante group the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

While NU and Muhammadiyah leaders refused to endorse the protests, their members attended the rallies and proudly joined these other organisations. How could this have happened? Have the leaders of both organisations become detached from the interests of their members or have they just lost their support?

There were two main problems: the leaders of in NU and Muhammadiyah failed to connect their agenda and language to the grassroots level. Second, positioning themselves as "apolitical" organisations, and avoiding mobilisation and street politics, has limited their strategic influence.

When NU and Muhammadiyah describe themselves as "apolitical" organisations, this does not mean that they avoid any political agenda or activity, rather, they try to avoid any engagement with political parties or candidates. This strategy began under New Order, for example with NU's "Return to the Guidelines of 1926", which saw it withdraw from politics and focus on its role as a social and religious organisation. In the reform era, NU and Muhammadiyah have been linked with the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the National Mandate Party (PAN), respectively, but after the 2004 election both organisations severed any direct links with these parties. In secular democracies, this strategy has been fruitful – religious groups have often gained more influence by keeping their distance from a specific political party. Hindus in India, like Christians in the United States, have had some success with this tactic.

Other organisations, like FPI, FUI, Persis, and HTI, have an explicit political agenda, ranging from campaigning for shari'a-based regulations, promoting restrictions on the consumption of alcohol, and repressing minority groups, including minorities within Islam, such as Shiites and Ahmadis, as well as Chinese or Christian Indonesians. Nevertheless, only FPI has used violence to achieve its goals. FPI does occasionally lobby the government, but this is not its main skill.

NU and Muhammadiyah, meanwhile, steer clear of street politics, or what the organisations term "practical politics". But even though NU and Muhammadiyah leaders often remind the public that they are apolitical organisations, both have ready access to political and economic elites. NU and Muhammadiyah figures often gain senior positions in ministries, the organisations receive generous financial support from the government and private sector, and some individuals go on to join the boards of private companies. Benefits are often redistributed for the sake of their organisations. This political economy chain is a crucial reason why both organisations are institutionally and economically stable.

Gap between elites and grassroots

At the same time as engaging with economic and political sources of power, NU and Muhammadiyah leaders also play an active role in promoting inter-religious tolerance and healthy relations between the state and religion. They often represent the state in international seminars and conferences to promote Indonesia's global image as a plural and tolerant country.

Consequently, the leaders of NU and Muhammadiyah are becoming detached from their domestic Muslim constituents. Elites in both organisations continue to use terms such as pluralisme (pluralism) and toleransi (tolerance) but for many conservative Muslims "pluralism" is understood to mean that all religions have an equal claim to the truth, and "tolerance" entails tolerating free sex, free access to alcohol, and sometimes even pornography.

After more than a decade of confrontation between liberal and conservative Muslims, and influenced by the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) fatwa against sipilis (secularism, pluralism and liberalism), these words have lost their meaning for conservative, and to some extent even mainstream, audiences.

This does not mean that most Indonesian Muslims are intolerant or anti-pluralist. In many areas of Indonesia, Muslims, Christians and other minorities live side by side. Rather, the issue is one of language. While using words like pluralisme and toleransi might remain acceptable for social groups that value individual rights, Indonesian terms like musyawarah (communal negotiation) and tenggang rasa (respect each other) will have greater resonance at a grassroots level.

A couple of days after the 4 November protest, Muhammadiyah chair and respected Muslim figure Haedar Nashir lamented that it was easier to attract people to a protest than to get them to the library. The statement was applauded by liberal Muslims as genuine criticism of the conservative Muslims who supported the protest, but the condescending tone of his statement painted the protesters as uneducated and left little room for negotiation. It mirrored Hillary Clinton's mocking of Donald Trump voters as "a basket of deplorables", demonstrating a similar gap in perspective with constituents. Despite Haedar's direct call to avoid the anti-Ahok protests, Muhammadiyah Youth was actively engaged in several protests and one of its senior members, Pedri Kasman, testified in court against Ahok.

This gap in language and narrative between elites and their members exists within NU too. The organisation's chairman, Said Aqil Siradj, warmly welcomed Ahok to the NU headquarters. Meanwhile, NU's Jakarta branch said that based on a decision made at NU's 30th national congress, known as Muktamar Lirboyo, which was held in 1999, Muslims were required to vote for a Muslim leader.

Aversion to street politics

NU and Muhammadiyah leaders refused to endorse the protests in Jakarta because they saw them as intolerant but also because they refuse to engage in street-level politics. This is partly because their leaders have access to political elites, so street politics is unnecessary. Both NU and Muhammadiyah are among the most active civil society organisations in lobbying the government. Muhammadiyah, for example, successfully challenged the law regulating national oil and gas regulator BP Migas at the Constitutional Court. Muhammadiyah has called this approach "Constitutional jihad", referring to activism within bureaucratic framework. NU follows a similar approach.

The second reason that NU and Muhammadiyah eschew mass mobilisation and street politics is that they view such tactics as "low politics". Their leaders, Said Aqil and Haedar, therefore lack the skill to manage public agitation and this put them in an awkward situation when they tried to interfere with the recent protests in Jakarta. In contrast, FPI leader Rizieq Shihab embodies this skill.

In Indonesia, and in many other parts of the world, people on the street have led to regime change. Street mobilisation should be viewed as simply another political tactic, just as valid as lobbying or bureaucratic approaches. While NU and Muhammadiyah dismiss street politics, FPI has proven to be highly effective and efficient in managing street politics. It was a savvy choice to connect the anti-Ahok protests to Friday prayer, as Muslims from all sects agree that it is an obligation.

To gain support from a wider Muslim audience, FPI also moderated its language as the protests progressed. For example, it tried to limit anti-Chinese language that might have been deemed too crude for moderate and white collar Muslims. FPI publicly stated that it was not anti-Chinese or Christian, even inviting Chinese figures, such as Lieus Sungkharisma, to give speeches at the protests. Painting the 2 December protest as a religious gathering, FPI was able to attract hundreds of thousands of people. NU and Muhhamadiyah simply do not have these skills.

What next for NU and Muhammadiyah?

The Jakarta governor's election has shown that NU and Muhammadiyah need to retune their language to better connect with grassroots Muslims. They need to use a more diverse set of political tactics. It is time for NU and Muhammadiyah to bring discussions on tolerance and pluralism out from air-conditioned seminar rooms and libraries and on to the streets.

[Ahmad Syarif is an analyst with Bowergroup Asia. He holds a master's degree from the University of Birmingham, where he wrote his thesis on the rise of hadrami religious authority in Palembang, South Sumatra.]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/nu-and-muhammadiyah-sidelined-anti-ahok-protests/

New hope for abolition of the death penalty?

Indonesia at Melbourne - May 2, 2017

Raynov Tumorang Pamintori and Ricky Gunawan – Amnesty International recently released its 2016 report on the global state of the death penalty.

It revealed that while the number of global executions dropped in 2016, there was an increase in the number of new death sentences. This also occurred in Indonesia, a country that was once labelled the "most prolific executioner" in Southeast Asia by United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

Indonesia carried out four executions in 2016, while in 2015, it executed 14 prisoners. In fact, 14 people were listed for execution in 2016 but a last minute temporary reprieve was given to 10 of them. Amnesty reported that in 2015 there were at least 46 new death sentences in Indonesia, and in 2016 the figure increased to at least 60.

In Indonesia, capital punishment is mostly imposed for premeditated murder, terrorism, and drug offences. The latter has become the primary justification for the escalation in executions since President Joko Widodo ("Jokowi") took office in late 2014. Given his campaign commitment to strengthening human rights protections and the fact that he had no connection to past human rights abuses, there were high hopes for Jokowi in terms of human rights. Many were therefore shocked to see him initiate a new wave of executions. It is worth looking back to his early days as president to understand his blind belief in the death penalty.

Jokowi's first 100 days were rough. His choice of ministers was heavily criticised. At the same time, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) had another fierce row with the National Police. The president looked for something to maintain his popularity and prove his toughness. He needed a scapegoat to swing the momentum back in his favour. Drug crime was the answer.

In December 2014, the president declared that Indonesia was facing a "drug emergency", and quoted faulty data from the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) suggesting that 40-50 people die every day because of drugs. This became a favourite mantra of his administration. Jokowi also said he would reject all petitions for clemency from the 64 drug offenders on death row. The first round of executions quickly followed in January 2015, when six drug offenders were put to death. This was one of the few initiatives that attracted praise during Jokowi's first 100 days.

From then on, the war on drugs picked up pace. Eight drug offenders were executed in April 2015, and four more in July 2016. That set a record of 18 executions in 18 months – something that had not occurred since the fall of Soeharto in 1998.

As Jokowi approaches three years on the job, the narrative that execution is an effective deterrence against drug crime – which it is not – has broad acceptance. This has seemingly influenced the spike in death sentences delivered by the courts in 2016, as reported by Amnesty. When public discourse is so in favour of punitive drug policies, it is no surprise that law enforcement officials would seek to capitalise on the situation to gain social reward.

Given these circumstances, the idea that Indonesia would one day abolish the death penalty might seem unthinkable. But despite Jokowi's stubbornness to retain the death penalty for drug offenders, there have been developments in Indonesia's legal and political landscape over the past few months indicating that a moratorium in the use of the death penalty is possible, even if it remains on the books.

The reprieve granted to the 10 convicts on death row in July 2016 followed massive public campaigns that exposed the unfair trials many of them had received. This suggested that the government was at least willing to listen to civil society demands. But to cancel all the executions would have embarrassed the government. It appeared that the government was prepared to sacrifice four death row prisoners to appease supporters of the policy.

Second, Jokowi hinted that he was open to alternatives when interviewed by foreign journalists from Australia and France. His statements may have been purely political, because they were made ahead of diplomatic meetings with the leaders of these two countries. But Jokowi and the BNN recently admitted publicly that the death penalty had failed to lower drug offences (at the same time maintaining that it would continue to be used). These statements from Jokowi and the BNN are promising, given their hard-line stance in the past. They may reflect Jokowi's tendency to correct his mistakes.

Third, Attorney General Prasetyo has said that Indonesia will postpone executions because it is bidding for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. This is a sign that Indonesia appears to be paying attention to its profile and how its human rights record is being scrutinised by the international community. Yet it is important to remain cautious in responding to such statements, as Prasetyo has continued to suggest that it is just a matter of time before executions are resumed.

Fourth, the draft revised Criminal Code submitted to the House of Representatives (DPR) by the government (via the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights) includes the death penalty as an alternative sentence, rather than a primary punishment. This draft has not been approved by the DPR but it sends a signal that the Jokowi administration is prepared to limit the use of the death penalty. In the long run, this provision offers a pathway to abolition, or a moratorium, at least.

There are encouraging signs. But this situation is fragile and expectations must be managed. Most importantly, civil society must consolidate and continue to pressure the government to maintain this momentum.

First, civil society must urge the government to establish an independent team to review death penalty cases. This will prove that in almost all capital punishment cases, there are elements of unfairness. Indonesia cannot afford to take innocent lives.

Second, civil society needs to undertake studies on the deterrence effect – or lack of it – of applying the death penalty in drugs cases. This will demonstrate that Jokowi can be tough on drugs without resorting to the death penalty and that the drug policy should be more evidence-based.

Third, the government must develop stricter safeguards in the criminal justice system to prevent miscarriages of justice. Indonesia's criminal justice system is broken and must be fixed. This can be done in cooperation with other countries that have more experience in strengthening their justice systems.

Fourth, civil society must oversee the process of revising the Criminal Code to ensure that limitations on the use of the death penalty are protected in the legislative process.

Government oscillation on the death penalty can be viewed with cynicism. But the abolition movement should treat the government's indecisiveness as an opportunity to show that drug crime can and must be resolved without the use of the death penalty – and that an Indonesia free of the death penalty is achievable.

[Raynov Tumorang Pamintori is a research fellow at Reprieve. Reprieve is a London-based international legal charity that provides free legal support to some of the world's most vulnerable people, including those who are facing the death penalty and execution. Ricky Gunawan is a human rights lawyer and Director of LBH Masyarakat (Community Legal Aid Institute). LBH Masyarakat is a frontline human rights organisation that provide free legal services for people facing the death penalty or execution.]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/new-hope-for-abolition-of-the-death-penalty/


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