Indonesian officials say no bibles were burnt in an incident last week which preceded unrest in the Papua provincial capital Jayapura.
On Thursday members of a local Zionist congregation clashed with local security forces in Abepura district.
When people heard that bibles were being burnt at a local military barracks, an angry mob gathered near the premises to protest, blocking the main road. Five people were injured as the mob threw projectiles at security forces, and soldiers fired shots to disperse people.
The Minister Counsellor at Indonesia's Embassy in Wellington, Wanton Saragih, said no Bibles were burned.
Mr Saragih said the riot was triggered by video and photographs spread by irresponsible persons purporting to show that a policeman had burnt Bibles. He said the policeman was merely cleaning an area by burning paper rubbish in a rubbish bin at the barracks.
Antara, Timika Mimika Police in Papua have arrested a coordinator of a petition declaration and communal prayer held at the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) secretariat office after perceived threats to the unity of the Republic of Indonesia.
Mimika Police chief said that the KNPB activists had been warned against giving speeches and spreading propaganda that contravenes the national ideology but they ignored it.
"Since our warning has been ignored, we have taken harsh action by stopping their activity and confiscate various attributes and search the offices they had used to hold a wide range of actions," Victor explained.
Victor added that the police will not allow rallies that could undermine the national unity. Aside from arresting the coordinator, police also seized the Morning Star flag, banners and flyers, musical instruments and military outfits.
Shortly after the arrest, the KNPB and the Mimika People's Regional Parliament (PRD) officials visited the Mimika Police station in Timika.
The Timika PRD deputy chairman Sem Asso denied that the rally featured political speech. "There was no speech, only an announcement. Information was conveyed on a petition for international support," Sem Asso said.
Kendall Hutt, Auckland Political support in New Zealand for an independent West Papua is growing after a "historic declaration" was signed during free West Papua advocate Benny Wenda's visit to the country this month.
Several politicians from across four political parties signed the Westminster Declaration, which calls for West Papua's right to self-determination to be legally recognised through a vote.
Green MP Catherine Delahunty who has been a vocal supporter of West Papuan independence throughout her political career told Asia Pacific Report the meeting at Parliament by the IPWP was "amazing".
"We had a really amazing evening at Parliament with the Westminster Declaration. We had a number of MP's nine MP's on the night including others subsequently signing the declaration, which as you know calls for a referendum, supervised independently by the UN for West Papuans to talk about and identify their views on self-determination.
"That was a really powerful moment. Benny said it's very important for him travelling the world that he can actually meet the politicians and that the politicians actually from a number of parties in this case and sign up to the declaration."
West Papua was controversially incorporated into Indonesia through a so-called "Act of Free Choice" in 1969 only 1,026 selected West Papuans out of a population of 800,000 voted to become a part of the country under duress.
In 2016, politicians from across the globe signed the declaration, first launched in the United Kingdom by Labour leader and co-founder of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), Jeremy Corbyn.
Eleven members of Parliament from across four political parties Greens, Labour, National and the M?ori Party have signed the declaration.
Green MPs Catherine Delahunty, Barry Coates, Mojo Mathers, Jan Logie and Steffan Browning have signed, along with Labour MPs Louisa Wall, Carmel Sepuloni, Adrian Rurawhe and National MP Chester Burrows.
Co-leader of the M?ori Party Marama Fox and Labour MP Aupito S'ua William Sio have also signed.
Delahunty is certain this number will grow, as the declaration is now circulating through caucus, she said. "Not everyone could make the event, but there are people who are keen to sign up."
However, National MP Chester Burrows was the only member of National to sign the declaration, reaffirming Delahunty's belief a change of government is needed for the issues in West Papua to truly gain traction politically.
"It's frustrating because dreadful things are happening everyday and we're not getting the political leaders of this country to take it seriously in the government."
This is because support of West Papua would not come from National, Delahunty said, although she is hopeful.
"We have got a real core of support for that declaration from across the House. Of course we haven't got the government's political support, but that's what we're working on."
Delahunty said the rest of Benny Wenda's visit to New Zealand was also "very lively". "In dire weather conditions, about 30 people marched to the Indonesian embassy. For the first time the embassy the Indonesian officials actually came out.
"They came out to tell us we were wrong about our views and to hand out propaganda to the university students about how everything is great in West Papua and that West Papuans are leading their own country. "I challenged them back pretty hard... that was quite a lively experience."
Speaking with Asia Pacific Report earlier this month, Benny Wenda said the purpose of his visit to New Zealand was to hopefully gain the country's commitment to West Papua independence:
"West Papua's hope is Australia and New Zealand. This is a regional issue, this will never go away from your eyes and this is something you need to look at today. Review your foreign policy and look at West Papua."
During his visit, Wenda also met with Ngati Whatua, unions, aid agencies, and students while in Wellington, echoing the solidarity found at his talk in Auckland, organised by the Pacific Media Centre.
"There was a very powerful dialogue with some young Pasifika and M?ori students, and some young people expressing their support," Delahunty said.
"I think it was useful and consolidated a lot of relationships, Benny being here. I think it helped us ride a wave of growing awareness which is slow, but steady, and we do see more and more people taking stock of this issue."
Production has been hit at the massive Grasberg mine in Indonesia's Papua province as more than 9,000 workers stage an extended strike.
The mine's owner, Freeport McMoRan, also says a "large number" of the absentee workers are deemed to have resigned.
Meanwhile, the striking miners, angry at the American company's decision to lay off thousands of workers, have agreed to extend their industrial action for a second month.
Freeport deems the strike illegal, and had followed through on a threat to take disciplinary action against absenteeism, considering staff who are absent for more than five days to have resigned.
A Freeport spokesperson told Reuters it was trying to mitigate the strike's effect on mining and milling rates, which it did not quantify, by re-allocating resources and training additional workers.
The strike was a further disruption for Freeport, which had lost hundreds of millions of dollars in a protracted dispute with the Indonesian government over new mining laws.
Copper concentrate exports had only resumed late last month, when the strike began.
Susan Taylor, Toronto Freeport McMoRan Inc said on Thursday that mining and milling rates at its Grasberg copper mine in Papua, Indonesia have been affected as some 9,000 workers stage an extended strike, and a "large number" of approximately 4,000 absentee workers were deemed to have resigned.
Escalating tensions with workers is a further disruption for Freeport, entangled in an ongoing dispute with Indonesia over rights to the giant mine, which has cost both sides hundreds of millions of dollars.
An estimated 9,000 workers have extended their strike for a second month at Grasberg, the world's second-largest copper mine, in an ongoing dispute over employment terms and layoffs, the union said on May 20.
Freeport, the world's largest publicly traded copper miner, said that approximately 4,000 workers, including a limited number of contractors, have not reported to work, despite multiple summons to return.
"As a result, a large number of these workers were deemed to have resigned, consistent with agreed Industrial Relations guidelines and prevailing law," spokesman Eric Kinneberg told Reuters.
Officials for the union were not immediately available to comment.
In a May 15 memo obtained by Reuters, Freeport said the strike is illegal and "voluntary resignation is the consequence" for workers who ignored demands to return to work and were absent for five consecutive days.
Freeport is trying to mitigate the impact on mining and milling rates, which were not quantified, by re-allocating resources, training additional workers and supplementing its mill throughput with available stockpiles, Kinneberg said.
Freeport resumed copper concentrate export shipments from Grasberg late last month after a 15-week outage related to its dispute with the government and had planned to ramp up production, which was cut by around two-thirds during the outage.
Freeport had "demobilized" around 10 percent of its Indonesian workforce as of mid-April, among efforts to cut costs resulting from the dispute. The company has repeatedly warned workers that striking will result in disciplinary action.
The union has demanded an end to Freeport's furlough policy and began a 30-day strike on May 1 in an effort to get workers' jobs back.
The majority of Freeport's approximate 30,000-member workforce is working "productively and safely and operations continue to improve," Kinneberg added.
(Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Dan Grebler)
Krithika Varagur, Banda Aceh It was the young who came first to Indonesia's public caning of gay men. They arrived on motorbikes and on foot, from nearby boarding houses and two universities, some skipping class and the others using up their holidays. An announcement was made barring children under 18, but some stayed anyway, reluctant to break up a family outing.
By 10am on Tuesday, a 1,000-strong crowd had congealed at the Syuhada mosque plaza in Banda Aceh. As someone sang a stirring Qur'anic hymn to inaugurate the ceremony, a verse about how God created man and woman in couples, young men were perched in the trees, on trucks, and all the balconies across the street. Girls huddled between jasmine bushes.
"It's a lesson for us, and it's a lesson near us," said Ratna, 20, a student at Syiah Kuala University, who was one of the first to arrive. She, like more than a dozen young people interviewed by the Guardian, doesn't know a single gay person and believes homosexuality is a crime.
Ten people were flogged that day on a stage by a masked, gloved man in mud-brown robes with cartoonish eye-holes and a yellow-string halo. Four of them were women, lashed for adultery.
But the most severely punished were the two young gay men, aged 20 and 23, who were filmed, apparently naked, together in March by Islamic vigilantes. They were the ones who lured the unusually large and fierce crowd.
What transpired in Aceh this week is, on one level, the logical extension of sharia in an unruly region that has long been left to its own devices. But many believe that it is more sinister than that: that Aceh's visible conservatism is an emblem of rising Islamism across Indonesia, where a toxic mix of religion and political opportunism has been percolating for some time.
Earlier this month, the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaha Purnama, was jailed for blasphemy in a ruling that shocked many in the country and outside including near neighbour and regional ally Australia.
Ahok, who is of Chinese descent, had sought to extend his tenure as governor of the capital. During the campaign, he had questioned the legitimacy of a Qur'anic verse about electing non-Muslim leaders. It triggered a vicious, racially charged fight against him that led to his sound defeat by a Muslim rival and a court appearance. He was sentenced to two years for his remarks, effective immediately.
Some believe the same fate could await another Chinese Christian governor, Cornelis of West Kalimantan, who has stoked the ire of hardliners by publicly warning radicals to leave his province.
And only this week even as the stage was being prepared for Aceh's public flogging police in Jakarta arrested 141 gay men in a sauna, even though homosexuality is not against federal law.
"Sharia is contagious," said Andreas Harsono, a researcher with Human Rights Watch Indonesia, about the timing of these events.
Dede Oetomo, a prominent gay rights activist based in East Java, doesn't hesitate to connect the dots further. "In the grand scheme of things, yes, I think this combination of events constitutes a warm-up for the 2019 national elections," he told the Guardian.
If current events are a sneak preview of identity politicking, the next presidential election, when the president, Joko Widodo seen as a moderate, globalist leader runs for re-election, will be the uncut feature. Many wonder what a Jokowi loss would mean for Indonesia's fragile secular establishment.
"A major argument of conservative hardliners is that, 'we will guard you from these awful people' gay people, non-Muslims," said Oetomo. And frankly, he said, that's pretty attractive to many middle-class voters.
These culture wars are unfolding locally and nationally. Modern Indonesia has been one long lesson in the latent, populist appeal of religion, identity, and tradition against the secular, globalist designs of its postcolonial nation-builders such as Sukarno. When the media and press became free in 1998, after the fall of Suharto, conservative and religious voices were finally allowed to proliferate, and they often spoke louder than the state-controlled liberal rhetoric.
At the centre of this current maelstrom is the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, a fringe group that now seems to set the national agenda on everything from politics to minority rights. The group founded, not incidentally, in 1998 has been the surprising lightning rod for Indonesia's Islamist turn.
But its prominence didn't come from nowhere; the group has been cannily opportunistic in helping vulnerable people at inflection points such as the 2004 tsunami. Then FPI members fished Acehnese bodies from the ocean, says Faisal Riza, another Acehnese gay rights activist. It brought them a steady, continuing current of goodwill. In Jakarta last year, FPI became standby heroes for thousands of poor Jakartans evicted by Ahok, creating instant grassroots support for their later rallies against the "blaspheming" governor.
The FPI has long anointed itself as Indonesia's unofficial morality police. But it has not always been this powerful in Aceh. The province is dubbed "Mecca's veranda" and is thought to be the point of entry for Islam in medieval Indonesia. It has posted fierce, successive independence movements against Dutch, Japanese, and Indonesian rule, the last of which abruptly ended with the calamitous tsunami.
Aceh was granted autonomy to apply sharia in 2001, and allowed to keep it under the post-tsunami national peace agreement. The question many observers ask is whether this decision was a successful containment measure or a dangerous precedent for the values that can be accommodated within an Indonesian province.
Whichever the case, FPI and Acehnese jurisprudence are now intertwined. Although there has been sharia for more than a decade, it was FPI's thuggish antics that made homosexuality a hot-button issue, according to Riza. Those started in earnest during a widespread "gay panic" in Indonesia last year. Before that, said Riza, who was born and raised in Aceh, there was a "don't ask don't tell" climate that made gay life essentially tolerable.
In Banda Aceh, a 20-something transgender man told the Guardian of his fear of the current climate. Speaking at small shop he runs in town, he said: "I'm scared to be out in public now.
"I don't want them to know my face. It's not illegal, even under sharia, to be trans or anything like that," he said. "But FPI operates outside the law."
He speaks only a short motorcycle ride from the stage where the law of Aceh is being prosecuted.
Four women were the first up for their punishment. The convicted adulterers, dressed in mismatched skirts and tunics, shielding their faces with nylon hijabs as they entered the jeering crowd. FPI members had earlier unfurled a banner in front of the stage that proclaimed their willingness to be sacrificed to protect the Qu'ran.
When it was each one's turn to be flogged, she was given a spotless white cotton robe and veil, turning her briefly into an icon, or a vessel. The men who caned them observed a precise technique (a 90-degree angle to the upper back) under police scrutiny.
The last two offenders were the young gay couple. Their punishment was so great that not one but three masked floggers were on call to split their burdens.
The older one, a 23-year-old with a delicate curly beard, had a still forbearance for his 83 lashes. His partner though, just 20, visibly shook as his pain was delivered. He was small, so small that the white sleeves of his tunic fully covered his hands, and his eyelids fluttered before he was struck even once. He was offered a water break halfway through and drained a little plastic cup without once opening his eyes. Both of them were let off with two fewer lashes than they were initially prescribed, to account for their two long months in detention.
"It's not good to watch people be punished because someone will, in turn, watch us sin some day," said Nurleili, 65, a lifelong Banda Aceh resident. "And yet, I really wanted to know. What this punishment actually looks like. I'm afraid and sad: my heart is beating out of my chest. But this will be a good lesson for our kids."
For Aceh's small LGBT community, there are still slivers of hope. There was, Riza pointed out, a brave transgender woman at the caning ceremony, who showed up as a form of protest and walked out, unruffled, when the sharia police pressured her to leave the premises.
After the ceremony, another gay rights activist Hartoyo worked non-stop to locate the gay victims on social media, and by Tuesday night, had arranged an emergency fund for the couple's recovery. This despite the fact that his own profile made him a moving target for local thugs, relocating interviews from a Catholic church, to a bakery, to an undistinguished hotel.
"Our activism may be underground now, but we're not leaving," he said. "Yet."
A Liberal MP says the "cruel and sickening" caning of two gay men in Aceh has cast a cloud over Australia's relationship with Indonesia.
Australia should not stand by and ignore the inhumane treatment of the men who were caned 85 times under sharia law for having consensual sex, the gay backbencher Trent Zimmerman told parliament on Tuesday.
He was grateful the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, had raised the matter with her Indonesian counterparts but called on others, including the Muslim community in Australia, to take a stand.
"Our friendship with Indonesia has been strengthened by our perception of a pluralistic, democratic and moderate Islamic nation," Zimmerman said. "Sadly, recent events have given us cause to question that understanding.
"Nothing should absolve the Indonesian government of its obligation to ensure all its citizens are afforded the basic human rights it has agreed to uphold through its international commitments."
The crossbench senator Derryn Hinch has called for Australia to suspend its foreign aid to Indonesia over the matter.
"I believe Australian aid should be suspended to show our disapproval and disgust," Hinch said. "I'm disappointed by our government's silence on this cruelty."
Two Indonesian men were caned on Tuesday in front of a jeering crowd as a punishment for gay sex, in a first for the Muslim-majority country where there is mounting hostility towards the LGBT community.
The pair received 83 strokes of the cane each after being found guilty of breaking sharia rules in conservative Aceh province, the only part of Indonesia that implements Islamic law.
The men, aged 20 and 23, were led onto a raised stage outside a mosque in front of a crowd of thousands, who jeered and booed loudly.
The pair, whose identities have not been revealed, were dressed in white robes and bowed their heads as they were whipped by officials wearing brown cloaks and masks with eye slits. One of the men grimaced occasionally and the other showed little emotion.
Before the caning, Abdul Gani Isa, a member of the Acehnese clerics' council, told the crowd the caning was "a lesson for the public". "Lessons carried out with our sharia law are conducted in a very thoughtful way, are educational and do not violate human rights," he said.
Their sentences, which were carried out in the provincial capital Banda Aceh, were reduced by two strokes of the cane due to time already served in detention.
The gay men were caught together in March by vigilantes who burst into the house where they were staying. Shaky phone footage of the raid that circulated online showed the vigilantes kicking, slapping and insulting the men, with one of them slumped naked on the ground during the attack.
Public caning has long been common for offences such as gambling and drinking in Aceh, which was given the right to implement sharia law in 2001 as part of a deal with the central government aimed at ending an insurgency.
The punishment is carried out with thin rattan canes, with people still clothed while the strokes are delivered. It causes pain but does not normally inflict permanent damage, and the canings are as much about public humiliation as hurting those guilty of breaking sharia law.
Tuesday's caning was the first time such a punishment has been meted out for gay sex since a sharia regulation came into force two years ago banning the practice. Eight other men and women were publicly caned on the same day after being found guilty of breaking sharia laws.
Gay sex is not illegal elsewhere in Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population. While rights groups have repeatedly expressed alarm over the strengthening of sharia law in Aceh, many of those living in the staunchly Islamic province support the rules.
Zubaidah, a 20-year-old female college student who watched the couple being punished, told AFP it was the first time she had witnessed a caning.
"I wanted to watch it so it could serve as a lesson for me not to commit any act that violates Islamic teaching," said the student, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. "Homosexuality is a curable disease, it is very forbidden in Islam."
Amnesty International was among groups that had urged authorities not to flog the men, decrying the use of caning as a "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment".
There has been a growing backlash against Indonesia's small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community over the past year, with ministers, hardliners and influential Islamic groups lining up to publicly denounce homosexuality.
The caning comes just two days after police in Jakarta detained 141 men including several foreigners for allegedly taking part in a gay sex party in a sauna.
Although homosexuality is not illegal outside Aceh, police said 10 of those arrested at the party could be charged under the country's tough anti-pornography laws.
The backlash against the homosexual community began in early 2016, and activists believe it was triggered by widespread media coverage of a decision in the United States to legalise same-sex marriage.
Karuni Rompies and Jewel Topsfield, Banda Aceh The crowd roared as two men in their early 20s one muttering through clenched teeth received 83 lashes each outside a mosque in the Indonesian province of Aceh for the crime of gay sex.
One of the men, who was just 20, was given a glass of water after the 40th lash. A doctor approached him after the 60th and asked him if he was still strong. He nodded.
Three hooded men took turns to flog the pair. The audience, estimated by police to be 2500 people, gathered before the red-carpeted platform in front of Syuhada mosque in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, baying in frustration when the caning paused. Related Content
This was the first time sharia courts had imposed public flogging for sodomy under new laws introduced in 2014 as part of Aceh's Islamic criminal code, known as Qanun Jinayat. The law criminalises liwath, or sodomy, with a maximum punishment of 100 lashes, 100 months in jail or a fine of 1000 grams of gold.
Four heterosexual couples also received up to 30 lashes of the cane for khalwat (being in close proximity, such as secluded in a room, when not married), which is effectively kissing and hugging.
One of the women couldn't continue after nine lashes and had a break before returning to the platform, where a white triangle marked where the convicted must stand and face the crowd while being caned.
"You are strong in bed, but you pretend to be in pain when caned," someone yelled. A medical team, including an ambulance, were on standby. Under regulations, those being punished must be caned from the waist up.
Men and women were separated to observe the caning, with an announcer warning the crowd that children should not be present. "But the mothers can then tell them at home as education on the enforcing of sharia law," he said.
Aceh is the only one of Muslim-majority Indonesia's 34 provinces that criminalises homosexuality and uses sharia as its legal code in addition to the national criminal code.
Endin Saprudin, a sharia police officer at the Aceh provincial administration, said the men would be free once they had been caned. "The worldly punishment is completed after the execution of the sentence," Mr Endin told Fairfax Media.
"However I don't know about the punishment of the afterlife whether or not they will be caned again. At least we have saved some Muslims by showing them such actions are clearly prohibited."
On March 28, vigilantes broke into an apartment in Banda Aceh, Aceh's capital, and took the two men to the police after catching them in bed together.
LGBT rights advocacy group Arus Pelangi said a video of the two men had gone viral, which put them at risk and should never have been circulated.
"Can you imagine the caning being carried out in front of so many people?" said chairwoman Yuli Rustinawati. "Obviously it is painful to be caned but then many people are watching. It creates another pain psychologically, not only for the offenders but also for their families."
The men represented themselves in court and accepted their punishment. Mr Endin, the sharia police officer, said they had been entitled to a lawyer but questioned why they would need one when they were caught red-handed. "The pictures obviously show they committed a homosexual act," he said.
Prosecutors requested 80 lashes but the judges imposed a harsher sentence of 85, of which 83 were delivered.
Human Rights Watch had called on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to intervene and stop the public flogging.
"The court's less-than-maximum sentence of 85 lashes is no act of compassion. It does not change the reality that flogging is a grotesque display of medieval torture," said Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phelim Kine.
Muhammad Iswanto, another sharia police officer, said data showed that no one punished under sharia law in Aceh had repeated their crime. "In the whole Aceh province, for all offences such as khamar (alcohol), zinah (adultery), until now we do not have a recidivist," he said.
Moammar, a 20-year-old chemistry student, came to watch the caning with nine of his friends from campus. "I am curious because this is the first caning on a liwath case," Moammar said. "I want this case to be the first and last case of homosexuality."
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop raised with the Indonesian government Australia's serious concerns about the caning of two gay men under Sharia Law in Indonesia's Aceh Province.
"Earlier this month, the Australian government recommended that Indonesia reject discrimination on any grounds including sexual orientation and gender identity during Indonesia's UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review," a spokesperson said.
Opposition Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said the caning was deeply disturbing news.
"Labor is fundamentally opposed to the oppression of anyone on the grounds of their gender, sexual orientation or their religious beliefs," she said. "We would support a clear and unambiguous statement by the government expressing Australia's firm position on these matters."
The central government in Jakarta granted Aceh's religious leaders the right to impose sharia-inspired law in 2001 as part of a deal struck to quell a decades-long separatist movement in the province.
But Ayi, a Banda Aceh resident who lives in the same neighbourhood as one of the gay men, said caning was another form of violence. "We had 30 years of conflict. But now we have this," she told Fairfax Media.
Jakarta The Jakarta Police have named Alfian Tanjung, lecturer at Jakarta's Prof. Dr. Hamka Muhammadiyah University (UHAMKA), a hate speech suspect in relation to a lecture he gave about the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and Chinese Communist Party (PKC).
"Yes, he has been named a suspect," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Tuesday as quoted by tribbunnews.com. "We will summons him on Wednesday."
According to the police, Alfian had spread hate speech when he claimed that members of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and several members of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's inner circle were PKI members.
The lecture, given at Mujahidin Mosque, Surabaya, earlier this month, was uploaded and went viral on social media. The lecture saw him accusing several people of being involved in the PKI and claiming that a number of PKI members had led meetings at the State Palace.
Presidential Chief of Staff Teten Masduki then sent him a reprimand letter, asking him to apologize and take back his statements. Owing to a lack of response from Alfian, Teten reported him to the police's criminal investigation division on Friday.
During another lecture at Jami' Saud Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, Alfian claimed that a number of PKI members had "control" over the palace. (foy)
Jakarta The Islam Defenders Front (FPI) has claimed the Internet sweeping conducted by several FPI members to hunt down social media users allegedly insulting its leader, Rizieq Shihab, was an initiative of members in several regions, not an official program of the organization.
However, as an organization, FPI fully supports the initiative because it is in line with the organization's vision, which aims to avoid conflict among religious followers that can create dissension in Indonesia.
"Police should thank us for educating irresponsible people who have insulted ulemas and defamed religions," FPI spokesperson Slamet Maarif told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
The most recent online prosecution allegedly committed by FPI was directed toward a female physician, Fiera Lovita, 40, from Solok Regional Hospital in Padang, West Sumatra. The FPI accused her of insulting Rizieq by posting comments on her Facebook account about his alleged involvement in a pornography case.
Several FPI members confronted Fiera at her workplace on May 23, pressuring her to delete her comments and write an official letter saying she regretted her actions. "For a deterrent effect we want the police to arrest and take a legal action against her," Slamet said.
Contacted separately, FPI secretary general Habib Novel condemned Fiera's posts on Facebook. "As an educated Muslim woman she should not insult [Riziq Shihab] especially in West Sumatera, a Muslim majority area," Novel said.
"We have rules and laws. FPI supporters should not act like vigilantes. They should not act as judges in the field," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said. (hol/ebf)
Jakarta The National Police has condemned parties who hunt down social media users accused of insulting Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab
In a media brief on Monday, Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said, "We have constitutions, [FPI supporters] cannot act like vigilantes, and they cannot act as judges on the field."
His statement was related to the most recent online prosecution of a female physician, Fiera Lovita, 40, from Solok Regional Hospital in Padang, West Sumatra. The FPI accused her of insulting Rizieq by posting comments on her Facebook account about the firebrand cleric, who is now a suspect in a pornography case and has failed to appear for police questioning on several occasions.
The FPI members confronted Fiera at her workplace on May 23, pressuring her to delete her comments and write an official letter saying she regretted her actions.
"They do not have the authority to force anyone," Setyo said, "If they felt offended [by comments], they could report the person to the police." "Vigilantism can turn people into suspects," Setyo added. (hol) Topics:
Suherdjoko, Blora, Central Java Blora District Court in Central Java sentenced on Monday the author of the book Jokowi Undercover, Bambang Tri Mulyono, 45, to three years in prison for insulting the President.
The panel of judges ruled that Bambang, who was arrested on Dec. 31, was "proven to have insulted and defamed President Joko ["Jokowi"] Widodo and also to have triggered disunity and feuds between ethnic, religious, racial or social groups," chief judge Makmurin Kusumastuti said.
Makmurin said that Bambang has violated Article 28 paragraph 2 and Article 45a paragraph 2 of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law of 2016 and Article 64 paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code. The verdict was lighter than the prosecutors' demand of a four-year prison term.
The court also seized 38 pieces of evidence, including a copy of Jokowi Undercover, which reportedly contained libelous statements, screen shots of Bambang's Facebook timeline containing insulting posts about Jokowi, communication tools and several bank accounts.
Bambang said he planned to file an appeal without his lawyers as he said they did not defend him enough.
Bambang's posts on Facebook were tracked by the Central Java Police's cybercrime team. From Nov. 13 to Nov. 28, 2016 Bambang wrote several posts on his account that contained insults of Jokowi, describing the President as the son an Indonesian Communist Party member, accusing him of fabricating his biography and uttering several other insults related to his position as President.
Jakarta The country's largest Islamic organization, Nahdatul Ulama (NU), has asked all mass organizations, including religion-based ones, to stop persecuting anyone accused of insulting religion or religious figures on the internet.
NU secretary-general Helmy Faishal Zanini encouraged people to instead hold dialogue to settle differences, saying that Islam also promoted such a peaceful way of problem solving.
"For us it is clear that preaching shall be carried out in a wise way. The Quran says 'Ask the people to come to God's way wisely and through good teachings'. It even suggests to settle differences with good manners," Helmy said as quoted by kompas.com.
He emphasized that using intimidation and terror in dealing with differences went against the teachings of the Quran. "The Quran clearly prohibits the use violence or terror in settling different opinions".
Helmy was addressing growing incidents of online persecution against people who posted statements deemed defamatory against Islam, a phenomenon that emerged following the blasphemy conviction of non-active Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.
The issue has raised the concerns of rights campaigners, particularly after one netizen, Fiera Lovita, a 40-year-old physician in West Sumatra, faced intimidation by the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), which accused her of insulting its leader, Rizieq Shihab. (msa/wit)
Jakarta The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has lambasted all forms of intimidation, violence and attempts to restrict freedom of speech by the Islam Defenders Front (FPI).
The FPI has committed terrorism by persecuting citizens accused of producing defamatory statements against the organization's leader, Rizieq Shihab, on social media, forcing them to apologize under threat, says AJI.
"Such terror acts must not be allowed," AJI leader Suwarjono said in a statement. "The arbitrary persecution by the FPI has violated the 1945 Constitution, which promotes and guarantees civilians' right to assemble as well as to freely state opinions".
The FPI has been targeting anyone who posts statements deemed insulting toward Islam and Islamic figures for the last two weeks. The actions began following the conviction of non-active Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in a blasphemy case.
Members of the organization, for example, intimidated 38-year-old female entrepreneur Indrie Soraya in Tangerang, Banten, and 40-year old physician Fiera Lovita in Solok, West Sumatra for insulting Rizieq.
The two could be charged under Article 28 on defamation of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, according to the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet).
To uphold the right to freedom of the speech, AJI has thus called on the National Police to take immediate action against the FPI's arbitrary online persecution. (msa/wit)
Ahmad Rafiq, Surakarta A People's Ceremonial Stage to remember the May riots in the Central Java city of Solo was unable to show the documentary film "The May 1998 Tragedy" after police requested that the organising committee cancel the event planned for the evening of May 26.
An art performance also had to be cut short because the situation had become quite heated after several unidentified men arrived at the event and demanded that it be closed down.
The event was being held at the Djoeang 45 Building by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and several other groups.
In addition to the film showing, the event was also to have a music performance, poetry readings and speeches. "The police arrived and asked that the event be canceled", Kontras activist Indah Nurmasari told Tempo at the location.
According to Indah, the police said that the event was at risk because a social organisation (ormas) was planning to descend on the location. After negotiations, the police finally allowed the event to continue on the condition that several items be canceled such as the film showing and speeches. The event finally took place with a music performance.
Around five minutes before this was to begin, several men entered and began shouting that the event had to be closed down. Police quickly removed the men from the venue.
This made the organisers decide to end the event particularly since a group of people had gathered outside the venue. "We were surprised, why would an event like this come under such pressure", said Indah. Yet Kontras had already provided police with notification of the event.
Surakarta (Solo) Islamic Community Militia (LUIS) spokesperson Endro Sudarsono, who was at the venue, claimed that he did not know the identity of the men who demanded the event be closed.
"I just came here along with three friends", he said. According to Sudarsono he did not know what the event agenda was. "So we came here to see", he said.
Sectoral police chief Deputy Commissioner Nur Prasetyantoro, declined to comment when Tempo spoke to him at the venue. "Sorry, I'm not authorised to make a statement", he said.
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan Amid growing rumors of another internal split, former Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie has called on all party members to maintain solidarity and not to deceive their own friends.
"Let's unite our power and perception to reach the party's goal. Don't speculate too much. Don't cut inside the fold," Aburizal said, citing a proverb that referred to someone who likes to deceive his or her own friends.
The senior Golkar politician made the statements during the party's national leadership meeting (rapimnas) in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Monday.
Aburizal responded to a rumor about renewed internal strife in the party, in which a group of senior politicians reportedly wanted to oust chairman Setya Novanto while another camp wanted to defend Setya, who now serves as the House of Representatives speaker.
The rumor has grown stronger since the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) revealed Setya's alleged involvement in the e-ID graft case, a huge scandal that had pinched the party's electability.
Aburizal is known to have taken different stances from Setya in several decisions. He objected when Setya was about to declare support for the then incumbent candidate Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Golkar politician Ahmad Doli Kurnia said Setya looked like a bus driver who drove recklessly. It was better to replace such a driver than letting the bus to crash, he said.
"This meeting is very strategic. We must draft a strategy so Golkar can achieve its victory [in the 2018 regional elections and 2019 legislative and presidential elections]," Aburizal said. (dis/ebf) Topics:
Jakarta Vice President Jusuf Kalla has asked the United Nations not to interfere with Indonesia's judiciary system in relation to the recent conviction of non-active Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy.
The statement was a response to criticism from UN experts, who had urged Indonesia to overturn Ahok's sentence on appeal or grant Ahok clemency to be released from prison.
"They cannot interfere with our home affairs, our law [...] Similarly, we can't interfere with the legal affairs of Malaysia or the United States," Kalla said on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com.
He expressed concerns that the experts' statement would only exacerbate already heightened tensions.
When asked about Ahok's decision to withdraw his appeal against the verdict, Kalla said that it was Ahok's right to do so, which must be respected.
Reuters reported on Monday that three UN experts had released a joint statement saying Ahok's sentence would serve as a setback for the Indonesian government.
Ahok was declared guilty on May 9 by a panel of judges at the North Jakarta District Court, who sentenced him to two years in prison. His conviction and detention grabbed both national and international attention, with support growing for the Christian non-active governor of Chinese descent. (hol/rin)
Kyodo News Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said in an interview published Wednesday that the government is considering the dissolution of more intolerant mass organizations, following its decision to disband the local branch of an international, pan-Islamic organization.
On May 8, the government decided to disband Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia for threatening Indonesia's state ideology "Pancasila". The legal process for the disbandment is still ongoing as HTI has been recognized as a legal mass organization in the country since 2005.
The state ideology is based on the principles of consultative democracy, social justice, humanitarianism, the unity of Indonesia, and devotion to a single God, while the Constitution guarantees freedom of worship, each according to his or her own religion or belief.
"I'll clobber them with the existing legislation. I don't talk about one or two organizations... it could be four, five or six," Mr Jokowi told local media network Tempo in an interview published Wednesday.
His use of the word "clobber" is notable as it was popularized by late President Suharto to crack down on his political opponents during his iron-fist rule. The president referred to mass organizations whose objectives are not in line with Pancasila, create public order and are intolerant.
While he did not name the organizations, saying they are still under deliberation, he stressed that the majority of Indonesian people shall not be disadvantaged by organizations whose members number only in the thousands.
"The existence of Pancasila, (the country's slogan) Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) and national integrity are fundamental. Don't ever dare and try to change them," Jokowi warned.
The government's move comes amid growing support for radical organizations which exploited ethnic and religious sentiments during a recent gubernatorial election in the capital.
Muslim intellectual Anies Baswedan won the election, dubbed by the English-language Jakarta Post as "the dirtiest, most polarizing and most divisive the nation has ever seen," with the support of radical and conservative Islamic organizations defeating incumbent Chinese-Christian Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.
The governor, who is popularly known by his Chinese name Ahok, is now serving a two-year jail term for blaspheming Islam after a trial that rights groups and his supporters viewed as politically motivated.
Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo says that the government is currently studying the banning of several social organisations which are not in line with the state ideology Pancasila, threaten public order and the unity of the state or cause intolerance.
"I'm not talking about one or two organisations, it could be four, five, or six", said Widodo during a special interview with Tempo at the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Tuesday May 30.
The president was also asked about plans to ban Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), which was announced by Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Wiranto on May 8.
The government considers the HTI to be a threat to public order and the unity of the state because the organisation has drafted laws and a constitution and is seeking to establish and Islamic caliphate in Indonesia.
Widodo declared, "I have no time for fundamentalist [groups] like this. I'll clobber (gebuk) them though legal mechanisms".
Aside from the HTI, Widodo did not cite the names of other social organisations that are included in the list of groups to be banned. According to Widodo, security minister Wiranto is currently studying these groups.
He insisted that the majority of the 250 million Indonesian population cannot be allowed to be harmed by groups whose membership is only in the thousand.
"Don't let there be [any group] brazen enough to play around with Pancasila, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika [Unity in Diversity], and the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia]", he added.
When asked separately for a statement, Widodo said that his office is currently studying which organisations are to be banned. "If I have a chance, I'll announce them later", he said.
Atma Jaya University Yogyakarta constitutional law expert Riawan Tjandra said that that although the government had the authority to regulate all activities of social organisations, he is warning the government not to act in an authoritarian manner.
According to Tjandra, the government must follow Law Number 17/2013 on Social Organisations which stipulates that the government must go through the courts to ban a social organisation. "The government must have evidence, strong argumentation, and be able to argue this in court", he said.
A researcher from the Constitutional Study Centre (PUSaKO) Faculty of Law at the Andalas University, Khairul Fahmi, said that Widodo must be careful about banning an organisation.
"If they are just banned outright, that's arbitrary, authoritarian", he said adding that the government must uphold freedom of association. Because of this therefore, he suggests that the government first issue a reprimand then a warning before banning an organisations.
House of Representatives (DPR) Administration Commission member Achmad Baidowi said that banning an organisation must be based on evidence that there is a challenge to Pancasila or a threat to security and public order.
If both conditions exist, he said, the DPR would not object. "The government must be careful, not act hastily", he said.
Hussein Abri Dongoran, Ahmad Faiz, Raymundus Rikang
The use of the term gebuk is reminiscent of remarks made by former President Suharto in 1997 when he said that he would resign if it was the will of the people but vowed to "clobber" anyone who tried to force him out of office unconstitutionally. "If the people want Pak [Su]Harto to step down, thank you, I shall receive it well. For the sake of the people and our Constitution, I will accept the decision", he was quoted as saying. But, he warned, if they tried to seize power unlawfully, he would, as he had vowed to previously, "clobber them because they are violating the Constitution".
The Tempo interview with Widodo can be read here: Gebuk Ormas Anti-Pancasila, Jokowi: Kajiannya Sudah Lama < https://nasional.tempo.co/read/news/2017/05/31/078880338/gebuk-ormas-anti-pancasila-jokowi-kajiannya-sudah-lama>
Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta A new study has found forest cover losses in Indonesia remained high during a six-year moratorium on forest conversion.
Using latest satellite data from the University of Maryland, the World Resources Institute (WRI) said in its study that deforestation increased significantly in 2014 and 2015 after declining in 2013, suggesting that the government's moratorium on the issuance of permits for primary forests and peatlands had "scant effect on forest protection."
"This could be because the moratorium is issued in the form of Presidential Instruction, which does not entail legal consequences for the perpetrators," the WRI said in its study.
The study recorded that forest cover loss in Indonesia decreased in 2013 before increasing to 796,500 hectares (ha) and 735,000 ha in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
The WRI said almost half of nationwide deforestation in 2015 took place in Kalimantan, where it reached 323,000 ha. The forest cover loss rate was also alarming in Papua although the government said it would prioritize the moratorium, which aimed at slowing unsustainable agriculture expansion into primary forests and peatlands in the easternmost region.
The study also found the highest level of deforestation within moratorium areas in 2015 was in Kalimantan, reaching 69,000 ha, followed by Sumatra with 39,000 ha and Papua with 25,000 ha. (ebf)
Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has approved a two-year extension to a moratorium on issuing new licences to use land designated as primary forest and peatland, the environment and forestry minister said on Wednesday.
This is the third extension of the moratorium, which was established in 2011 under the previous administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in an effort to reduce emissions from fires caused by deforestation.
The previous extension expired on May 20 and the latest rollover would give authorities more time to pin down regulations on forest use, environment and forestry minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in a text message.
"While we are gathering enough material to decide on licensing and primary forest and peatland governance, the presidential instruction is extended for now," Siti Nurbaya told Reuters.
By November 2016, the government's forest moratorium covered an area of more than 66 million hectares (163 million acres).
Indonesia is prone to outbreaks of forest fires during dry seasons, often blamed on the draining of peatland forests and land clearance for agriculture.
The resulting choking smoke often blows across to neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, slashing visibility and causing a health hazard.
There were massive forest fires in 2015, affecting mainly the island of Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo island. The World Bank estimated that 2.6 million hectares of land in Indonesia was destroyed at that time, causing US$16 billion of damage.
Indonesia is the world's biggest palm oil producer and environmentalists blame much of the forest destruction on land clearance for the crop.
An executive at the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) said he hoped the government would provide more certainty for plantation industries such as palm oil.
"After completing all these (policies), the government has to have a masterplan for national palm oil," Eddy Martono of GAPKI said. "The reality now is Indonesian palm oil has become an economic backbone." Reuters
Jakarta Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the National Commission on Tobacco Control (Komnas PT), a coalition of organizations that has been staunchly campaigning on tobacco issues in Indonesia, has asked the government to draft a comprehensive regulation on tobacco control to protect society.
Komnas PT chairman Prijo Sidipratomo said on Tuesday that the most important thing was for the government to immediately sign the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to protect society from the dangers of smoking.
"Second, the existed tobacco bill that is being discussed by the government and the House of Representatives must be dropped," Prijo asserted in a press statement.
Prijo said the demand was in line with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's statement in February during the 2017 National Health Meeting, saying that we should not let the money that was supposed to increase children's nutrition to be instead used to buy cigarettes.
The Komnas PT asked every party to join hands to protect the young generation from the dangers of nicotine addiction that could degrade the nation's productivity.
Without a comprehensive regulation, more than 250 million people are left unprotected when facing the dangers of the cigarette industry that always looks for profits while harming the environment, economy, society and human rights, he added.
The commission criticized the House for wanting to delete the existing article declaring a "total ban of cigarettes advertisement in broadcasting" in a revision of the Broadcasting Law. (hol/dan)
Ganug Nugroho Adi, Surakarta The Klaten administration issued a new regulation that could result in jail time of up to six months and a fine of Rp 50 million for people who discriminated HIV patients.
Klaten Health Agency disease control and prevention division head Herry Martanto said the regulation, Regional Bylaw (Perda) No. 6/2017, prohibited of any form of discrimination and prejudice toward people living with HIV.
"The regulation is part of our effort to protect people living with HIV. Of course, issuing sanctions is our last resort," he said Sunday. He added that the administration would start educating residents and relevant institutions on the regulation.
The Klaten AIDS Commission recorded 524 people living with HIV from 2007 to March 2017.
HIV activist Dewi told The Jakarta Post that people with HIV still experienced discrimination, including when seeking medical services. "There are medical practitioners who isolate people with HIV when they provide services," Dewi said. (rdi/wit)
Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, Indonesia's largest teachers group signed on Wednesday a declaration to underline the role of educators in supporting measures for tobacco control.
Created by the Indonesian Teachers Association (PGRI), the declaration consists of six points, which include teachers' commitment to "protect students from the dangers of smoking" and "oppose CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] campaigns from the tobacco industry."
Teachers also called on the government to create a comprehensive tobacco control regulations to curb cigarette consumption.
"Teachers have to be role models for their pupils by not smoking [...] Exemplary acts by teachers are very strategic in the [anti-tobacco] campaign," PGRI chairwoman Unifah Rosyidi said at the declaration's signing event in Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Wednesday.
The event was organized by the National Commission on Tobacco Control (Komnas PT), a coalition of organizations that has been staunchly campaigning for tobacco related issues in Indonesia, one of the world's biggest tobacco consumers.
Komnas PT chairman Prijo Sidipratomo welcomed the declaration, saying that it was in line with one of PGRI's missions to support the country's development.
"Some 25 percent of students' daily time is spent at school, which highlights the role of teachers in shaping their way of life," Prijo said. (rin)
Nico Lang As two men were flogged in the Indonesian province of Aceh, the crowd chanted for more.
Around 1,000 people gathered at the Syuhada mosque in Banda Aceh, the regional capital located at the northern tip of the Sumatran peninsula. The event was a major one for the city. Families brought their daughters and sons, young children crowding close to the stage to get a front row seat.
The accused, dressed in white, were caned 83 times. The men were originally sentenced to 85 lashes, but seeing as they had already spent two months in prison, authorities were lenient. The "executioners," as they are known, removed a blow for each month served.
"Do it harder," an onlooker screamed, even though the lashings were so severe that aides had to bring water to ensure the men didn't pass out from the overwhelming pain. "Let this be a lesson to you," another yelled.
This brutal punishment is retribution for one of Aceh's most shameful crimes: being gay.
Aceh, a Muslim district of Indonesia governed under Sharia law, expanded its criminal code in 2015 to stipulate that men found guilty of homosexual activity be subject to 100 lashes. That law, as human rights advocates explain, has made vigilantes out of ordinary citizens. The two men publicly flogged on May 23 were discovered naked in bed together after neighbors who suspected them of being gay broke into their hotel room to videotape their encounter. The couple was subsequently beaten and dragged to a local police station.
Although Human Rights Watch estimates that authorities in Aceh caned 339 people convicted of morality crimes in 2016 which include gambling, drinking alcohol, adultery, and wearing revealing clothing gay men have been increasingly targeted by a country once known for a fairly moderate stance on human rights. After government leaders began demonizing and scapegoating the country's LGBT population last year, right-wing backlash forced queer and trans people underground. Some have fled to more accepting areas, but most live in hiding, in fear that they could be the next to face the vicious lash of extremism.
It's an ugly, miserable time to be LGBT in Indonesia, and it's only getting worse.
Although homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, Aceh is a special case. The conservative district, which counts more than five million residents, has long lobbied for its independence from the rest of the archipelago. In 2006, the federal government struck a deal with Aceh to keep it from seceding. The tiny province would be ruled by sharia law, although any local guidelines that conflicted with national policies would be overruled. But because the Indonesian government doesn't have laws on the books preventing discrimination LGBT people, anti-gay policies aren't technically illegal.
Aceh's new sharia ordinances, which went into effect in September 2015, had an immediate impact on the province's LGBT population or even anyone suspected of violating morality standards. Kyle Knight, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, said that two women were apprehended for hugging just hours after the laws went into effect.
"Police accused them of being a lesbian couple, detained them for four days, and shipped them off to religious education camps," Knight said.
Knight claimed that these events were the start of an "unprecedented crackdown" on LGBT lives in the Muslim-majority nation, even outside the Aceh province. Months after Sharia law was imposed, Indonesia's education minister, Muhammad Nasir, advocated that queer student groups be banned from college campuses. That January 2016 declaration triggered a wave of anti-gay attacks in just a matter of weeks. Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu claimed the following month that LGBT rights is akin to "modern warfare." The Indonesian Psychiatric Association responded to Ryacudu's remarks by claiming transgender people are mentally ill.
The situation further deteriorated from there. Musni Umar, a well-known sociologist, likened homosexuality to "terrorism" and "Armageddon." Zulkifli Hasan, who is currently the highest-ranking official in the national legislature, even called for same-sex activity to be banned. Most bizarrely, Tangerang mayor Arief Wismansyah claimed that instant noodles would turn the city's children gay.
"These comments immediately started trickling down into people's actual lives," Knight said. "I met people in their 60s who had lived their entire lives in relative peace, and all of a sudden their family members and neighbors started harassing them in the streets. This delicate social fabric they had come to take for granted started crumbling before them."
Prior to 2016, LGBT rights groups in Indonesia were able to operate openly, but many of these organizations could no longer publicize their events. Of the more than 120 advocacy groups, many shut down. Knight said that gay government officials often picked up and left, afraid that they would be discovered and outed. An Islamic school opened in 2008 to give transgender Muslims a safe space to worship closed last February following demonstrations by the Islamic Jihad Front, an extremist group that has also targeted Christian minorities.
President Joko Widodo has repeatedly failed to condemn the anti-LGBT vitriol, sending an extremely mixed message. Although Widodo declared last October that "there should be no discrimination against anyone," the president's spokesperson has also said that there's "no room" for queer and trans people in Indonesia.
Although a 2013 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 93 percent of Indonesians believe that homosexuality is immoral, advocates claim that the country has historically had a very different relationship with its LGBT population than neighboring countries like Malaysia and Singapore. In these nations, gay men are routinely targeted and jailed for engaging in consensual sexual activity, but some trans Indonesians have long lived openly in their communities without reprisal. Indonesia holds an annual "Miss Waria" pageant, the colloquial term for transgender women.
"There are LGBT civil society groups that had been gaining footholds in Asia and had been gaining increased visibility and normativity," said Tarah Demant, the Senior Director of the Identity and Discrimination Unit at Amnesty International. "This past year was a really sharp repudiation of that."
Maria Sjödin, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, said that the backlash largely resulted from the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. She claimed that the "social media attention... is part of what got people riled up."
But another factor is the growing influence of hard-line groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (IDF) and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the latter of which claims over 40 million members. Nahdlatul Ulama, an organization that believes that LGBT people are "deviant," "a form of perversion," and "a desecration of human dignity," called for an anti-gay propaganda law strikingly similar to Russia's in February 2016. The conservative Muslim organization has since built strong ties with the Jokowi government. The president, who meets frequently with NU members, once called the group the "vanguard" of Indonesia.
"The government has to take positive steps to make sure that LGBT people have their rights," Demant said. "That's certainly not happening across Indonesia."
Although many queer and transgender Acehnese have fled to more accepting areas of the country, finding a safe haven can be difficult when the rest of Indonesia is following Aceh's lead. Refugees have nowhere to go. Even though homosexuality is not a crime in Jakarta, police arrested 141 men in a sauna well-known to be a gay hotspot in the nation's capital. Detainees will be charged for allegedly violating "pornography laws." Meanwhile, police in West Java, the most populous province in Indonesia, have announced that they will be launching a task force to investigate gay activity.
For those who cannot leave, it can be difficult to get them the resources or support they need. Indonesia's 260 million population is spread out between more than 15,000 islands, many of which are difficult to access.
"There's not going to be enough organizing to reach all of them," Sjodin said. "It's a pretty challenging situation to say the least."
Demant, who said that caning is considered "torture" by the United Nations, believes that other world leaders should speak out against the anti-LGBT backlash in Indonesia, including the United States. President Trump failed to take a stand against the imprisonment and killing of gay men in Chechnya, where over 20 men have reportedly been murdered by government officials. (U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley did, however, speak out.) Demant said that Indonesia could be a chance for a president with a mixed record on LGBT rights to be a force for good.
"Our president must make it clear that this type of discrimination is not tolerated," Demant said. "There's no excuse for this type of legalized discrimination and violence, and these laws must be stripped."
Shannon Power Indonesia's LGBTI community has been in the headlines over the past month for all the wrong reasons.
First two young men were arrested and caned 83 in Aceh for being gay and committing sodomy. Police raided 'gay parties' in Surabaya and Jakarta. They published the photos and names of some of the men before they were even arrested. The men in Surabaya were even forced to take HIV tests.
Only last week in West Java the head of police revealed he had set up a special taskforce to investigate LGBTI people in his province. Conditions for LGBTI people in Indonesia have been deteriorating, but some of the community have shared what life is like for them.
While homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, Aceh has unique bylaws which follow Islamic Sharia Law. So being gay and engaging same-sex activities is outlawed.
Salman watched the caning of the two men in Aceh when it dawned on him that it could be him on that stage facing a brutal punishment. Even though he is gay and scared of being found out, he has to stay in Aceh to look after his sick mother.
'This is terrible, this can happen to me,' Salman told Kenh14. 'I think I should be more careful now. My boyfriend is not in Aceh now but I'm very worried about my future.
'There are a lot of people in the LGBT community who are really smart, and they have a lot to contribute to Aceh, but now the fear is spreading over Aceh province.'
In 2007, Hartoyo was living in Aceh when he was arrested alongside his boyfriend. The activist moved to Jakarta soon after, but came back last week to witness the caning.
'The two policemen hit me and my boyfriend in a barbaric manner. We were treated like animals,' he said. 'I am lucky that homosexuality has not yet been considered illegal [in Indonesia].'
Hartoyo visited the two gay men in jail before they were caned. He described one of the young men as extremely panicked and was so frightened he could not stop shivering.
But when it came time for the caning to start, he could not bring himself to watch. Hartoyo said it was still important for him to travel to Aceh to let the men they have support and he can help them move to Jakarta. 'I want them to know that they are not alone and have a safer place for them,' he said.
The situation is not as dangerous for trans people in Aceh so long as they don't flaunt themselves around the province. But that doesn't stop the trans community from being scared.
'I'm pretty scared after what happens to gay people, but I do not see any problem with transgendered families and villages accepting me,' trans woman Syreil told Kenh14.
Jakarta The North Jakarta Police have garnered protests and backlash from various public groups for their recent raid on an alleged gay sex party at a gym in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, where men were allegedly stripped naked and photographs taken of them during the raid went viral.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) on Wednesday called the raid, in which 141 men were arrested, "inhumane."
According to those arrested, the police had forced them to get into public vehicles naked and took pictures of them, Komnas HAM commissioner Muhammad Nurkhoiron said as quoted by kompas.com.
"The police action was an extensive abuse of power disrespecting human rights, as well as taking away the presumption of innocence," he said.
Separately, the Jakarta Police denied the allegations, saying that its officers had not taken pictures of the men. "We do not know who took the pictures and shared them," said Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono.
On Tuesday, the police released 126 of the arrested men. National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has instructed his officers to investigate the reports of shared pictures. (agn)
Tom Allard and Stefanno Reinard, Jakarta Police in Indonesia's most populous province plan to deploy a taskforce to investigate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activity, a move likely to fuel concerns of a widening crackdown on the community in the Muslim-majority country.
West Java police chief Anton Charliyan disclosed the plan on Tuesday as two gay men in the province of Aceh were publicly flogged, and days after police raided a gay club in Jakarta and distributed photos of suspects to the media.
With the exception of Aceh, homosexuality is legal in Indonesia. Activists say, however, that police targeting of consensual gay sex has shone a light on discrimination and harassment in the world's third-largest democracy.
Indonesia's reputation for tolerance is already under scrutiny after Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian, was sentenced this month to two years in prison for blasphemy.
Responding to Sunday's Jakarta raid, Charliyan told reporters in Bandung, the capital of West Java, a province with a population of about 47 million, that LGBT people suffered a "disease of the body and soul".
He called on the public to report their activities. "I hope there are no followers in West Java, no gay or LGBT lifestyle or tradition, Charliyan said. "If there's anyone following it, they will face the law and heavy social sanctions. They will not be accepted in society."
A leading LGBT activist slammed his remarks, which were confirmed in a recording provided to Reuters by journalists present when Charliyan spoke on Tuesday.
"Police have a mandate to follow the law. They are not the morals police," said Yuli Rustinawati, chairperson of Arus Pelangi, an Indonesian LGBT activist organization.
In remarks on Wednesday, Charliyan said the police "taskforce" would include intelligence specialists and was particularly concerned with disrupting "secret parties", the Detik news portal reported.
A national spokesman for the police, Setyo Wasisto, said the approach in West Java did not reflect a national strategy. "It is enough for us to handle it as we do regularly," he said.
Charliyan's comments follow a spate of high-profile police actions against gay clubs and parties just as the country's Constitutional Court is due to rule on a petition to outlaw homosexuality and adultery.
On Sunday, police detained 141 men and released photos of some of them in varying states of undress to the media, revealing many of their identities. Only 10 of the men have been declared suspects, five remain under investigation and 126 were released.
The police said the photos were released due to "procedural errors", the Jakarta Post reported. Rustinawati at Arus Pelangi said, however, the release of the images was part of a police pattern of publicly shaming of gay people.
The two Acehnese men, caned 82 times each on Tuesday, were punished in front of a crowd of more than 1,000. Semi-autonomous Aceh province is governed by sharia Islamic law.
Earlier, a video of the men, naked and distressed as they were apprehended by sharia police, was released and viewed widely on social media.
In Indonesia's second-largest city of Surabaya in East Java, 14 gay men were arrested, tested for HIV and the results made public, Indonesian media reported. "The police also release data names and addresses," said Rustinawati. "It's humiliating and it puts LGBT people in danger."
On Tuesday, North Jakarta police chief Dwiyono, who like many Indonesians has only one name, took journalists through the gay club raided on Sunday. As they climbed three floors, he pointed out a gym, a communal jacuzzi used for "striptease" and a cluster of cubicles for sex.
"This door can only be opened if you pay 185,000 rupiah ($14) to the receptionist," he said. "In here, there's no change room, you just tear off your clothes and use a towel."
Indonesian President Joko Widodo last year gave qualified support for the gay community, telling the BBC that "there should be no discrimination against anyone", before noting that homosexuality is not popular in his country.
However, his defense minister, Ryamizard Ryacudu, suggested that homosexuality was a national security threat and part of a "proxy war" waged against Indonesia by foreign states.
A Pew Research Center poll in 2013 found 93 percent of respondents in Indonesia disagreed that "society should accept homosexuality".
Indonesia's Islamist groups have long called for the criminalization of gay sex. The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the vigilante group that led huge rallies against the now-convicted Jakarta governor, has cooperated with police in curbing alleged vice for more than a decade.
(Additional reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Gayatri Suroyo and Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by John Chalmers and Bill Tarrant)
Nicholas Jones Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says gay rights in Indonesia are an "ongoing and real concern" after the public caning of two young men allegedly caught having sex.
His comments come as Australia raises "serious concerns" with Indonesia about the caning in Aceh province, and a cross-party group of New Zealand MPs seek a meeting with the Indonesian Ambassador.
Gay sex is not illegal in most of Indonesia but is in the Aceh province, which exercises Islamic law.
A group of vigilantes entered private accommodation in March and allegedly found the two men, aged 20 and 23, together. The men have now been caned 83 times each in front of a mosque, as a large crowd cheered and filmed on mobile phones.
Brownlee said the situation facing gay and lesbian people in Indonesia was an ongoing and real concern, particularly in provinces such as Aceh.
"The New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta is in regular contact with Indonesian human rights advocacy groups, which seek to raise the profile of human rights abuses and to support gay and lesbian communities affected by abuse," Brownlee said.
"This includes a recent visit to Aceh where diplomatic staff spoke to several civil society groups on the ground. The New Zealand Embassy will endeavour to undertake regular visits to Aceh in the future to monitor the situation as well as having discussions with leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Intersex groups based in Jakarta.
"I assure you that the New Zealand Government will continue to advocate universal access to human rights, in New Zealand and overseas, and we will continue to emphasise that message in our interactions with the Indonesian national and provincial governments."
Green MP Jan Logie, a member of the Rainbow NZ Parliamentary Network, a cross-party group of MPs, said the case in Aceh province was disturbing and a direct condemnation was needed. The network will seek a meeting with the Indonesian Ambassador.
"It feels particularly frightening at the moment on the back of the death camps being set up in Chechnya. And I think there really needs to be a strong response in the international community to protect the lives and rights of our LGBTI people in every country in the world," Logie said.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has raised "serious concerns" with Indonesia about the Aceh caning, her office told media yesterday.
Amnesty International has condemned the caning, saying it may amount to torture and was a "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment". Aceh has become increasingly conservative and passed strict laws against homosexuality in 2014.
In April the Rainbow NZ Parliamentary Network wrote to then Foreign Minister Murray McCully urging him to condemn violence against gay men in Chechnya, and to ask Russia to investigate the detention and alleged murders of men perceived to be gay.
The group includes National MP Paul Foster-Bell, Act Party leader David Seymour, Labour MP Louisa Wall and Logie.
Jakarta The National Police have said a raid conducted by the North Jakarta Police on an alleged gay sex party at a gym in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, on Sunday, during which they arrested 141 men, has nothing to do with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) related issues. The raid was conducted primarily on concerns about indecency, they said.
"Anyone exhibiting 'pornography actions' will be arrested," National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Rikwanto told journalists on Tuesday. "The fact that those arrested are gay males is a coincidence," he went on.
The arrests came in the spotlight after photographs of the arrested men, who were all naked, were leaked and went viral on social media on Monday.
Rikwanto further said the police were the investigating organizers of the event to see whether they had organized similar events in the past.
"Four organizers arranged the party. People came and paid money to participate in the event, during which the 'pornographic actions' happened," Rikwanto said.
The police earlier stated that the 141 men were arrested and charged under the 2008 Pornography Law, articles 4 (2) and 30, which stipulate punishment for parties guilty of providing "pornographic" services. (hol/ebf)
Jakarta More than a month has passed since Corruption Eradication Commission investigator Novel Baswedan fell victim to an acid attack on April 11 and the police have not found the perpetrators.
National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said they had gathered evidence from the site where the attack occurred and also questioned five people who were previously suspected to be involved in the attack.
All were released because the police did not have enough evidence to detain them. "No matter how sophisticated [our investigation] is, we cannot just [solve the case] immediately, there's a luck factor in uncovering a case," Setyo said on Monday.
Setyo said not all cases could be solve quickly He cited the bomb attack at the Philippine Embassy in 2000 that took three years to solve.
Novel, who underwent eye surgery at a hospital in Singapore on Thursday, was brutally attacked with acid by unidentified assailants near his house in North Jakarta last month after returning to his house following dawn prayer.
It is believed that two perpetrators attacked him while riding a motorcycle. At the time of the attack, Novel was investigating major corruption cases, including the e-ID case, which implicates dozens of high-ranking politicians. (hol/wit)
Jakarta National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) chairman Nur Kholis has said the Indonesian Military (TNI) can be involved in the fight against terrorism, but only as a last resort.
Possible military involvement in counterterrorism operations was regulated in Article 7 of Law No. 34/2004 on the TNI, he said.
"It is part of the TNI's main task to carry out military operations other than war and it can be conducted only based on political decisions of the state," said Nur Kholis as quoted by kompas.com in a written statement in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Despite such a legal basis, he said, it would be better if law enforcement against terrorism used legal approaches as what had been taken by the police all this time.
"The police should still handle the legal process of terrorism perpetrators by continuing to guarantee the protection of rights for terror victims and their families as well as terrorist suspects and defendants and their families," said Nur Kholis.
"The state must protect the rights of its people to live and to feel safe, including to get protection from criminal punishment," he added.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo wanted the involvement of TNI in counterterrorism to be included in the revision of Law No.15/2003 on Terrorism.
"Give authority to TNI to take part in counterterrorism operations in this draft law. Of course, it should be based on reasons that, I think, the coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister [Wiranto] has prepared," said Jokowi during a plenary Cabinet meeting at the Bogor Presidential Palace on Monday. (ebf)
Jakarta The Army chief of staff Gen. Mulyono welcomed President Joko "Widodo" Widodo's call to involve the Indonesian Military (TNI) in the country's war against terrorism, saying that the military would be ready to hunt down terrorists.
"Most importantly, the TNI is ready to be involved in any situation," he said at the Army headquarters in Central Jakarta on Tuesday as reported by kompas.com.
Jokowi said on Monday that the TNI could be granted a role in the revision of 2003 Terrorism Law to help the National Police prevent any terrorism following the bomb attacks in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta, last week.
Mulyono did not give details on the roles that the TNI wanted mentioned in the law. However, he stressed that the TNI's involvement was needed in counterterrorism efforts. Once involved, the TNI was ready to hunt down terrorists in forests or in any remote areas.
"[We will hunt them] wherever they are, like in the forests. It's refreshing for military personnel to have duties in the forest just like Idul Fitri," he said.
TNI personnel had been involved as back-ups in the police's large Operation Tinombala, organized to hunt down the notorious East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) terrorist group lead by Santoso in Poso, Central Sulawesi. The operation managed to kill Santoso last year and narrowed the number and movement of the terrorist group members who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State movement.
The authority for detention and investigation in counterterrorism efforts currently lies with the National Police. (rin)
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta Human rights watchdog Imparsial has lambasted the proposal to grant the Indonesian Military (TNI) an official counterterrorism role, saying it will not only lead to an overlap of duty with the National Police, but also put the country's democracy and human rights protection at risk.
"Direct involvement from the military will violate the principle of civil supremacy and cause problems with our criminal justice system. It will be a setback to our program of reform. The military should only have responsibilities in the area of state defense," Imparsial director Al Araf said on Tuesday.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Monday that the country needed a stronger antiterrorism law and the TNI should be given a greater role in the country's war against terrorism. He made the statement following the twin bomb attack in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta, on May 24 that claimed the lives of three police officers and injured more than a dozen people.
The House of Representatives is currently deliberating the amendment of the 2003 Terrorism Law. There has not been yet agreements on a number of crucial articles including the TNI's role in counterterrorism. Currently, counterterrorism arrests and investigations must be under the coordination of the National Police.
Al Araf argued that there was an insufficient legal basis to ensure the military would not commit human rights violations when arresting terrorism suspects if it was granted such powers. Moreover, he added, there was no guarantee the TNI would obey the rulings of civilian courts given that it has its own military court, the transparency of which is still in question. (rin)
Jakarta National Police arrested Ahmad Rifai, 37, for allegedly spreading fake news through a Facebook post in which he said the suicide bomb attack that killed three police officers and injured 16 others in East Jakarta last week, was a police plot.
"ARP [Ahmad Rifai] is a resident of Rao Pasaman. He was apprehended by the National Police's cybercrime squad on Sunday afternoon," National Police deputy spokesman Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul was quoted by tribunnews.com.
According to Martinus, ARP is an employee at an all-female Islamic boarding school in Padang Pajang Barat, West Sumatra. Police investigators said they were delving into Rifai's motive behind his fake news spreading. (dmr)
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta Responding to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's suggestion to involve the Indonesian Military (TNI) in fighting against terrorism, rights group Imparsial has warned that Indonesia must uphold the criminal justice system in taking counterterrorism measures to avoid abuse of power.
Imparsial director Al Araf said on Tuesday that Article 7 of the 2004 Indonesian Military Law clearly regulated the military's roles in the fight against terrorism. Under the law, TNI personnel could join in counterterrorism operations but their involvement was just to assist the National Police and was conducted only under the instructions and political decisions of the President.
"We have had a legal basis for the military's involvement in counterterrorism. Hence, we don't need to regulate it again through an amendment to the 2003 Terrorism Law," Al Araf said in a written statement.
Citing examples, he said the TNI had been active in helping the police hunt terrorists in Poso, Central Sulawesi.
On Monday, Jokowi said the Indonesian military's role in combating terrorism should be stipulated in the amendment of the 2003 Terrorism Law, which was being deliberated at the House of Representatives. "Give the TNI authority to play its roles [in combating terrorism] in this regulation," Jokowi said.
Al Araf said Jokowi needed to elaborate more specifically on what military involvement he wanted to see. If the President insisted on involving TNI personnel in counterterrorism measures, it should not be conducted without a political decision of the President. "Military involvement must be the last resort as well," Al- Araf said. (ebf)
Jakarta Human rights watchdog Setara Institute has reiterated its call to give the nation's leading counterterrorism role to the police instead of the military, an option also supported by the majority of political factions at the House of Representatives.
Setara executive director Hendardi asserted that the Indonesian Military (TNI) was not a law enforcement agency with its own regulations, arguing that granting the military a leading counterterrorism role risked legal uncertainty.
"Thus, a statement by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto that aimed to brush aside concerns over the involvement of the TNI in counterterrorism, as well as a claim by Gerindra politician Muhammad Syafii saying that all House factions had agreed on granting such a role to the TNI should be seen as an effort to weaken counterterrorism," Hendardi said in a statement.
In a move to win public support, Wiranto previously said the TNI would not misuse the power should a bill on counterterrorism, which is currently under deliberation, grant the military institution a leading role.
His statement came days after last week's twin suicide bombings in East Jakarta that left three policemen dead. The incident has also brought the deliberation of the bill, which aims to amend the 2003 Terrorism Law, back into the spotlight, with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo asking lawmakers to speed up the deliberation. (msa/wit)
Rendi A. Witular, Jakarta State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chairman Budi Gunawan said on Sunday that Indonesia would need to put in place extraordinary measures to clamp down on radicalism and terrorism in light of recent suicide bombings that killed three police officers in East Jakarta.
Aside from forging closer cooperation with the global community, Budi said, the government has strengthened the capacity of the BIN, the police, the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and related government agencies to thwart the spread of the Islamic State (IS) movement in Southeast Asia.
In terms of regulations, BIN will push for the immediate passing of Terrorism Law revisions that will strengthen preventive measures.
"There should also be a legal basis for materials collected by intelligence authorities to be used as evidence in the court of law during prosecutions of a terror suspect," Budi said, adding that his proposal was not intended for abuse to target certain groups.
"Let us not allow this destructive virus to turn Indonesia into a breeding ground [for terrorism] as what has been happening in Iraq and Syria."
The two suicide bombers, identified by the police as Akhmad Sukri and Ichwan Nurul Salam on Wednesday, were members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a group that supports the IS movement. Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/28/extraordinary-measures-needed-to-root-out-terrorists-bin-chief.html
Jakarta (Bloomberg) Indonesian lawmakers should expedite the passage of revised anti-terrorism laws that give the police more power, President Joko Widodo said after twin suicide attacks in the capital this week killed three policemen.
The authorities in the country have linked the explosions on Wednesday (May 24) at a busy east Jakarta bus terminal to militants connected to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Mr Joko, known as Jokowi, said in a statement late on Thursday that he ordered one of his Cabinet members to "soon finish" the revision of the anti-terrorism law.
"I emphasise once again that there's no place in our country, our home land, for terrorism," Mr Joko said. "Other countries have laws, regulations, that allow law enforcers to anticipate."
The deadliest terrorist attack on Indonesian soil since January last year has reignited concerns over rising sectarian tensions in the world's most populous Muslim majority nation.
The new anti-terror laws, which have been held up in Parliament for more than a year, would give police sweeping powers of arrest and the ability to detain suspects for up to six months.
The legislation adds offences, such as taking part in military training at home or abroad, communicating about conducting terrorist acts and joining or recruiting for a declared terrorist organisation. The authorities would also be given the power to strip convicted terrorists of their passports and citizenship.
This week's attacks would "put pressure on the president" to act, Mr Tim Lindsey, a professor of Asian law at the University of Melbourne, said after the blasts.
"Civil society is increasingly anxious about the President's position on hardliner Islamists." Mr Jokowi suffered a political defeat last month when his close ally Basuki Tjahaja Purnama lost a bid to become the first ethnic Chinese Christian elected as governor of Jakarta after he was accused of insulting the Quran.
Ahok was convicted of blasphemy after the vote, and was sentenced to two years in jail.
Jakarta Police arrested three people on Friday (26/05) suspected of being linked to suicide bombings in Jakarta, as the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed three police officers at East Jakarta's Kampung Melayu bus station and wounded 12 others.
The attack was the deadliest in the country since January 2016, when eight people were killed four of them attackers after bombers and gunmen attacked the capital.
After visiting the site of Wednesday's attacks, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said Indonesia needed to accelerate plans to strengthen anti-terrorism laws to prevent new attacks.
"If we make a comparison with other countries, they already have regulations to allow authorities to prevent [attacks] before they happen," Jokowi told a news conference. The president said he had ordered Chief Security Minister Wiranto to get the revisions done as soon as possible.
Long-standing plans to reform the country's 2003 anti-terrorism laws have been held up by opposition from some parties in the House of Representatives and concerns about individual rights.
The revisions would broaden the definition of terrorism and give police the power to detain suspects without trial for longer. The changes would allow police to arrest people for hate speech or for spreading radical content, as well as those taking part in paramilitary training or joining proscribed groups.
Muhammad Syafi'i of the opposition Gerindra party, who chairs a committee deliberating the bill, said discussions should be completed this year but there were still outstanding issues such as ensuring checks and balances on the counter-terrorism agency.
"This bill needs to be discussed in a cautious and comprehensive way because the purpose of all regulations in this country is to ensure they do not result in the slaughter of Indonesian people [...] but protect them," Syafi'i told Reuters.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for this week's attacks. "The executor of the attack on the Indonesian police gathering in Jakarta was an Islamic State fighter," the group's news agency Amaq said.
Indonesia has suffered a series of mostly low-level attacks by Islamic State sympathizers in the past 17 months, but there are concerns that the sophistication is improving.
Police said Wednesday's attack had targeted officers, using pressure cookers packed with explosives.
"The explosions were described by police on May 24 as 'pretty big', and the number of wounded and dead would suggest a still crude but developing bomb-making capability for militants in Indonesia," said Otso Iho, an analyst at Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC).
Police have identified the suspected suicide bombers as two 30-year-old men from Bandung, West Java.
Indonesian police made three arrests on Friday in Bandung related to the attacks and said they had seized Islamic teachings, phones and other items during the raids, Yusri Yunus, head of public relations at West Java Police, said.
Indonesia's president urged people to remain calm on Thursday, a day after suspected suicide bombers killed three police officers on duty at a Jakarta bus terminal in an attack authorities said bore the hallmarks of globally inspired Islamist militants.
Ten people, including five police officers and five civilians, were also wounded in the twin blasts that were detonated five minutes apart by the two suspected attackers in the Indonesia capital late on Wednesday evening, police said.
The attack was the deadliest in Indonesia since January 2016, when eight people were killed, four of them attackers, after suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the capital.
"We must continue to keep calm (and) keep cool. Because... we Muslims are preparing to enter the month of Ramadan for fasting," President Joko Widodo said in a statement.
Authorities in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation are increasingly worried about a surge in radicalism, driven in part by a new generation of militants inspired by the Islamic State group.
National police spokesman Awi Setyono described the Jakarta blasts as a "global terrorist attack", but said police were still investigating whether the attackers had direct orders from Syria or elsewhere.
Police have not yet named the two dead suspects but a law enforcement source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they may have been linked to Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, an umbrella organisation on a U.S. State Department "terrorist" list that is estimated to have drawn hundreds of Islamic State sympathisers in Indonesia.
Indonesia has suffered a series of mostly low-level attacks by Islamic State sympathisers in the past 17 months.
Residents helped clean up debris at the bus terminal in East Jakarta on Thursday, where splattered blood stains and broken glass remained after the attacks.
"After what happened in Manchester, in Marawi in the Philippines, maybe the cells here were triggered by the bombs and that lifted their passion to start bombing again," Setyono told television station TVOne.
He was referring to the suicide bombing that killed 22 people in a crowded concert hall in the British city of Manchester this week.
In the southern Philippines, thousands of civilians in Marawi City fled their homes this week after Islamist militants took over large parts of the city, leading to a declaration of martial law.
While most recent attacks in Indonesia have been poorly organised, authorities believe about 400 Indonesians have joined Islamic State in Syria and could pose a more lethal threat if they come home.
Police said Wednesday's attackers had used pressure cookers packed with explosives. A similar type of bomb was used by a lone attacker in the Indonesian city of Bandung in February. Authorities suspect the attacker, killed by police, had links to a radical network sympathetic to Islamic State.
Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, Jakarta Indonesian police say a suicide bombing that killed three police officers at a busy bus terminal in East Jakarta on Wednesday night was linked to the Islamic State group.
The officers and two suicide bombers died in twin explosions near the Kampung Melayu bus terminal at about 9pm on May 24. Another 11 people including six police officers were wounded in the blasts caused by pressure-cooker bombs.
Asked if the attack was IS related, police spokesman Awi Setiyono said: "Yes, it is related".
The Department of Foreign Affairs issued an updated travel warning on Thursday warning Australians to be vigilant in Indonesia, including in Bali. The overall level of travel advice exercise a high degree of caution remained unchanged.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo extended his deep condolences to the victims and their families and called for calm and unity while police were doing their job.
"We have to safeguard calm because within days we Muslims are preparing to enter the month of Ramadan to carry out fasting," he said.
Jakarta-based terrorism analyst Sidney Jones said it was about "90 per cent certain" the perpetrators were from a pro-IS group.
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Police officers carry the coffin of their colleague Sergeant Gilang Imam Adinata who was killed in Wednesday's bombings... Police officers carry the coffin of their colleague Sergeant Gilang Imam Adinata who was killed in Wednesday's bombings in Jakarta. Photo: AP
Ms Jones said the perpetrators were likely to be linked to Bahrun Naim an IS leader in Syria who uses social media to instigate attacks on police or to the IS-affiliated Jamaah Ansharut Daulah?, which was this year named as a terrorist group by the United States, or another group.
Gruesome images of a decapitated head near the bus terminal and scattered body parts were widely circulated on social media in the wake of the attack.
The explosions came within five minutes of each other at the bus stop and a nearby toilet.
The blasts came after 22 people were killed in a blast at the Manchester Arena in the UK on Monday night after a concert by US singer Ariana Grande and at least 21 people were killed when IS-linked militants swept through the Philippine city of Marawi.
However Ms Jones said it was very unlikely an attack could be mounted in the space of two days in solidarity with two separate incidents in other parts of the world.
"The likelihood is that attacks were in the works in the lead up to Ramadan because we have seen in the past attacks are seen to take on a greater significance," she said.
"Last year, there was an exhortation about a month before Ramadan from the spokesperson for ISIS in Syria to people to wage war at home if they couldn't emigrate to Syria. And that call was heeded by a number of different pro-ISIS groups around the world."
Witness Wilson Mangala told Metro TV he was buying phone credit about 500 metres away from the bus terminal when the attack happened.
"The first explosion I thought was just the normal sound of a bus tire exploding, because we are close to a terminal. About a minute after there was another explosion. Then a man ran by, carrying a victim with a bloodied leg. I asked: 'What is it, pak [Mr]? He said 'bomb, bomb'."
"I didn't believe it at first, there was quite a big crowd, there were scared people who ran and hid in the alleys around here. Some were crying, they were afraid of another explosion. "I saw body parts, I got so scared, I don't want to look anymore."
Indonesia's largest Islamic civil organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), said terror groups had a strategy of attacking police in order to break down social order.
"So they try to scare off the police and if police become afraid of them, it is very dangerous," said Supreme Council General Secretary Yahya Cholil Staquf. "This strategy has been shown in the last few attacks in Tangerang, Jakarta and last night in Kampung Melayu. Their focus was the police."
National Police spokesman Setyo Wasisto said police officers had been providing security for a torch parade to celebrate the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan which starts on Friday.
Evidence found at the crime scene included nails, metal parts and a receipt for a pressure-cooker. A similar bomb was used when a suspected militant linked to IS blew himself up in Bandung in February.
Mr Setyo said police were still investigating whether the blasts were linked to recent attacks around the world.
He said police would provide security ahead of and during Ramadan. "I call on people not to be afraid," he said. "We must fight terrorism by watching our own neighbourhoods carefully especially if there are unusual things happening."
Mr Setyo praised netizens who posted on social media using the hashtag #KamiTakTakut (we are not afraid). Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tweeted that Australia stands with Indonesia and condemns the "murderous attack" on civilians and police
Jakarta The double suicide bombing on Wednesday night near a Transjakarta bus station in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta, that killed three police officers was an act of retaliation against the police, an analyst has said.
The director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), Sidney Jones, said on Thursday that the police had been seen as protectors of a thogut state that rejects application of Islamic law. In Islamic theology, thogut refers to those who worship anything other than Allah.
"The police are the ones who arrest mujahidin [one who engages in jihad] and sometimes kill them in operations [...]," she said on Thursday.
She said the purpose of the attack was also to show their presence following numerous police actions in past years that had weakened terrorist groups in the country.
Three police officers fell victim to the Kampung Melayu bomb blast while escorting a pawai obor (torch parade) to welcome the fasting month of Ramadhan, which begins on Saturday.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto previously said that the police had detected possible attacks in Jakarta, but were not able to identify when or where they might happen.
"No country in the world can prevent terrorist attacks. Look at the United Kingdom, which has one of the most sophisticated intelligence operations in the world," Sidney said, referring to a suicide bombing at a pop concert in the British city of Manchester, late on Monday. (fac)
Jakarta The head of the Jaguar team of the Depok Police in West Java, First Insp. Winam Agus, said that he never expected his team's effort to disperse members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) hard-line group, who were about to conduct a "sweep" in the satellite city, would go viral.
In the video, dozens of members of the FPI's South Jakarta chapter were seen carrying weapons, including sharpened bamboo sticks, to use, they initially claimed on camera to police, to stop violent motorcycle gangsters from roaming in the city.
The video has been shared on some social media platforms and has gained considerable public attention.
Winam said that the special team formed to deal with gangs had frequently carried out similar measures to disperse groups or organizations that could potentially create unease among citizens through their vigilantism.
"That's indeed part of our duty, but maybe the public was unaware of it until the FPI video went viral. We previously carried out the same measures against the PP [Pancasila Youth]," Winam said on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.
He explained that mass organizations did not have any authority to conduct raids in the name of upholding justice because the job belonged to the police. "They don't have any right [to conduct raids]," he said. (fac)
Yuddy Cahya With their heads covered with Islamic headscarves, the three members of the Indonesian band VoB ("Voice of Baceprot" or "Noisy Voice") do not look like your typical heavy metal group.
Formed in 2014, the band of teenagers met at school in Indonesia's most populous province of West Java, and use their music to combat the stereotype of Muslim women as submissive or voiceless.
Wearing a hijab, or Islamic head scarf, should not be a barrier to the group's pursuit of its dream of being heavy metal stars, said Firdda Kurnia, 16, who plays guitar and sings.
"I think gender equality should be supported, because I feel I am still exploring my creativity, while at the same time, not diminishing my obligations as a Muslim woman," she added.
Invited to perform at a recent graduation ceremony at another school, the trio quickly had fans dancing and head-banging at the front of the stage.
"I don't see anything wrong with it," said one fan who attended, Teti Putriwulandari Sari. "There's no law that bars hijab-wearing women from playing hardcore music.
"This also relates to human rights. If a Muslim girl has a talent to play the drums or a guitar, should she not be allowed?"
Besides covering classics by groups such as Metallica and Slipknot, the band perform their own songs on issues such as the state of education in Indonesia.
Muslims make up nearly 90 percent of a population of 250 million, the vast majority practising a moderate form of Islam, although there are some conservative strongholds.
Not everyone in the town of Garut, where the band was formed, and which is home to several Islamic schools, feels the community is ready for them, or that their music is appropriate for performance by young Muslim women.
"It is unusual to see a group of hijab-wearing girls playing metal music or even women shouting," said Muhammad Sholeh, a teacher at the town's Cipari Islamic boarding school, adding that religious pop music was popular with many young Muslims. "But we're talking about metal here, which is loud."
Maudya Mulyawati, a student at the school, felt the band should focus on singing "Salawat", an invocation to the religion's founder, Prophet Mohammad.
An official of a top clerical body said although the group might trigger a culture clash in a conservative area, he did not feel it broke with Islamic values.
"I see this as part of the creativity of teenagers," added Nur Khamim Djuremi, secretary general of the Islamic Art and Culture Division of Indonesia's Ulema Council.
Jakarta Banks and other financial institutions have started rolling out initiatives in anticipation of a surge in consumer spending during the fasting month of Ramadhan by offering more credit cards to their customers, an analyst has said.
Google Indonesia e-commerce head Henky Prihatna said people were increasingly searching for information on how to apply for credit cards two weeks before Ramadhan, while banks started boosting promotion for their credit cards ahead of the fasting month.
"During Ramadhan spending usually surpasses cash payment ability. People start to think about using credit card services. Our survey showed a 60 percent increase in credit card payments during the season and a 20 percent increase in credit card promotion," said Henky recently.
The newest data from Google on consumer behavior during Ramadhan shows that data searches on topics related to the biggest celebration in the country increased up to 28 percent and spending increased up to 30 percent.
Henky further explained that in terms of sales fashion was the largest product category with a sales increase of 180 percent, followed by home appliances with 100 percent and cellular phones with 80 percent.
He explained that what surprised him more was that spending usually decreased in the latest week of Ramadhan but then increased again in the first and second week after Idul Fitri, a trend he assumes is caused by youngsters spending money they received from their relatives during Idul Fitri on fashion or gadgets. (dra/bbn)
Krithika Varagur, Jakarta, Indonesia Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting that starts Friday, has typically been a relaxed affair in the world's most populous Muslim country, Indonesia. But in the last few years there has been rising intolerance against activities like selling food during daylight hours. This year, after a divisive election cycle that marked the first true emergence of Islamist politics in modern Indonesia, many are preparing for the most austere Ramadan in recent memory.
There has also been a spate of disturbing crackdowns on gay Indonesians and a suicide bombing attack Wednesday in an East Jakarta train station. Experts have speculated that at least one factor behind the former is a desire for high-profile value signaling before the holy month.
For at least the last five years, hard-line groups like the Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI) have staged unofficial sweeps of restaurants, bars and clubs they claim disrespect Ramadan, during which Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, alcohol and sex from dawn to dusk.
Last year, a 53-year-old food stall proprietor in West Java was attacked by local officials for preparing food in daytime during Ramadan and forced to go into hiding. Jakarta's Chinese-Christian governor Ahok tried to stem these groups, which operate outside official legal channels. But Ahok was unseated last month after an election during which his opponent actively allied with Islamist groups like FPI and heavily promoted his Muslim identity. As such, the country's secular facade is dropping.
The emergence of Islamic majoritarianism means this year's Ramadan will be more strict on a societal level, said Alissa Wahid, national coordinator of the GUSDURian Network for social activism.
"Even though the police has repeatedly stated that sweeping won't be allowed... in the past they generally actually took a soft stand [with them], either helping or escorting the sweepings," Wahid said.
Although Indonesia is an officially secular country that recognizes and protects six religions, Sharia-inspired bylaws have been on the rise in recent years numbering about 440 in 2015, according to one researcher's estimate.
Both the police and the FPI habitually raid red-light districts and other sites of the sex trade before and during Ramadan. In 2011, FPI illicitly raided bars in Surabaya, East Java.
That can be seen as a precedent for the last Sunday's bust of a popular gay sauna in Jakarta, where 141 men were arrested at a "sex party." Earlier in May, 14 gay men in Surabaya were arrested at a similar party and forced to have HIV tests. This week, West Java police announced a task force to target gay Indonesians.
The fact that all of these occurred in close succession is typical of the "virtue" based crackdowns before Ramadan, said Dede Oetomo, a prominent gay rights activist. "There's very little social cost to it because few people vocally defend LGBT rights in Indonesia," he said.
Although it had been on the books for two months, Indonesia's first caning of a gay couple for homosexuality, in the conservative, Sharia-ruled province of Aceh, happened Tuesday, adding grim context to the other raids.
Another twist to this turbulent month came in the form of a suicide bombing in an East Jakarta bus station Wednesday that killed three policemen and one of the bombers. Details are still emerging on the motivation behind the attack, but it adds to the chaotic feel of Indonesian current events.
Terrorist attacks frequently spike during Ramadan as extremist groups interpret the holy month's imperative for heightened good conduct as a call to jihad.
How the next month unfolds in Indonesia will be of interest. Bad news tends to monopolize headlines, and distort the reality of most Indonesians' Muslim life. Islam has been in the archipelago for at least eight centuries and been absorbed into hundreds of local cultures. Indonesians have historically debated even the starting date for Ramadan it hinges on a point about sighting the full moon which points to the plurality of traditions that can be good-naturedly accommodated in the region.
"My stall will be open for business all day every day, Ramadan or not," said Ahmad, an observant Muslim who runs a fried-noodle food stall in South Jakarta. "I'm not worried about any sweeping. I don't even care if Muslims come to eat here during Ramadan. It's just not important. For me, or," he gestured to the row of vendors sharing the sidewalk with him "really any of us."
Jakarta A movement to address the contextualization of Islamic teaching, dubbed Humanitarian Islam, has been inaugurated in Jombang, East Java.
GP Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, inaugurated the movement during an event attended by over 300 worldwide religious scholars.
"Muslims should be able to identify problems within Islamic orthodox teaching," GP Ansor chairman Yaqut Qoumas said in a press release made available on Monday.
Included in a road map of the movement was a call for "a serious, long-term socio-cultural, political, religious and educational campaign to transform Muslims' understanding of their religious obligations, and the very nature of Islamic orthodox."
The Humanitarian Islam movement was declared as having officially begun during an international gathering of ulemas held from May 21 to 22 attended by scholars from South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.
The event focused on discussing problematic elements in Islamic orthodox teachings that often prevents Muslims from adapting to modern civilization. The scholars addressed crises Muslims were facing and the role of Islamic orthodox teachings.
"It is false and counterproductive to claim that the actions of al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and other such groups have nothing to do with Islam, or merely represent a perversion of Islamic teachings. They are, in fact, outgrowths of Wahhabism and other fundamentalist streams of Sunni Islam," Yaqut said. (rdi)
Jakarta (AFP) Wearing a red hijab and all-encompassing gown, Sakdiyah Maruf cuts an unusual figure in a dark, smokey Jakarta bar as she reels off taboo-breaking jokes to laughter from a rapt audience.
She is a rare character in Indonesia a female Muslim stand-up using humour to challenge prejudice against women and rising religious intolerance.
Despite resistance from those who believe a woman's place is not on stage cracking jokes, even within her own family, the 34-year-old has forged ahead and is winning fans at home and abroad.
In the country with the world's biggest Muslim population, she does not shy away from sensitive subjects. Her jokes touch on topics ranging from Jakarta's recent religiously-charged election which saw the Christian incumbent ousted by a Muslim to sex and alcohol.
"Hijab, niqab, burqa it saves you from a bad hair day," she said to laughter from the crowd in the Indonesian capital, a typical gag that gently pokes fun at her own religious customs.
Maruf jokes about how women were not allowed to attend public events in the small, conservative community on Java island where she grew up, and that she is seeking to be more progressive by trying "to have sex even though I am married".
For the slight, unassuming lady, comedy is a playful form of resistance to a creeping conservatism she believes is eroding the rights of women in her homeland.
Indonesia has long been praised for its inclusive brand of Islam but this reputation has been tarnished by a rise in attacks on minorities and the growing influence of a vocal hardline fringe.
The comedian sees an alarming trend of "more rigid and conservative practices of religion" which she believes tend to marginalise women, and is particularly concerned about issues including early marriage and domestic violence.
For Maruf, humour is the perfect weapon to tackle such trends. "The message can be very aggressive but it can be delivered in a very subtle way," she told AFP. "You speak to people's hearts instead of only their minds.".
Maruf comes from a traditional family in the provincial Javanese town of Pekalongan, an unlikely background for a witty, worldy-wise stand-up.
She became interested in comedy at an early age by watching US sitcoms such as Roseanne and Full House, a love that she carried with her to university, where she started performing stand-up in 2009.
Depending on the audience she will either perform in English which she studied at university or the main Indonesian language of Bahasa.
Sakdiyah Maruf still has a day job working as an interpreter at conferences, but regularly performs in comedy clubs and nights in Jakarta, where she lives.
In the early days, the comic would lie to her parents when she performed at university or headed into Jakarta for shows, believing they would disapprove, but as she became successful it was far harder to conceal the truth.
She says she has managed to reach a kind of uneasy truce with her family. "We have disagreements sometimes, but they are cool with it," she explained.
But the greatest resistance has come from conservatives who don't think Muslim women should be comedians at all. "One woman came up to me after a show and said 'are you for real, are you wearing this hijab for real?'," she recalled.
Still, Maruf has not been put off and her irreverent brand of humour has won her fans outside Indonesia. In 2015 she was awarded the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent established by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and last year took part in a BBC-run global stand-up jam.
Her humour seems more relevant than ever as concerns escalate about declining religious freedoms in Indonesia after the jailing this month of Jakarta's Christian governor for blasphemy, a verdict that sparked criticism inside the country and abroad.
But Maruf remains confident that Indonesia will remain a tolerant country not least because a devout Muslim woman like herself can still get up on stage and crack jokes.
She said: "If you can write 'Indonesian conservative Muslim female stand-up' in one sentence, why be so pessimistic?"
Jakarta The grand imam of Jakarta's Istiqlal Mosque, a progressive Muslim thinker named Nasaruddin Umar, is urging the leader of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), Rizieq Shihab, to set a good example as an ulema and return home to Indonesia to face his legal case.
"He is an ulema. As an ulema, he should set a good example," he said at the State Palace on Tuesday as reported by kompas.com. "It will be elegant to face something with resignation. I believe he will not lose his followers."
Especially, he said, by returning home to undergo his legal process, Rizieq would also show that he was a good citizen. Nasaruddin also called for Rizieq's followers to remain calm in responding to the case implicating the firebrand cleric in scandal.
The Jakarta Police had named Rizieq a suspect on Monday in a pornography case related to an allegedly steamy chat with Firza Husein, who had earlier been named a suspect in the same case.
Rizieq had not yet undergone police questioning in his previous capacity as a witness as he had twice failed to answer police summonses in April and May.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono argued that investigators had gathered evidence to name Rizieq a suspect. He would be charged under the 2008 Pornography Law.
Rizieq is currently staying in Saudi Arabia to perform his second umrah (minor haj) in as many weeks. It is not publicly known when he will return to Indonesia.
Besides the pornography case, Rizieq had also been named a suspect by the West Java Police for allegedly insulting the state ideology Pancasila. (rin)
Jakarta The Jakarta Police have officially put the name of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader and firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab on their wanted list.
Rizieq is currently being hunted by the police after he was named a suspect in a pornography case after a steamy WhatsApp chat, allegedly with Firza Husein, who has also been named a suspect.
"The development of Rizieq's case is that the police have issued a wanted list with his name," said the police's spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.
He further explained that the measure was taken after the police delivered a letter of arrest to Rizieq's house and coordinated with the Immigration Office regarding the suspect's current whereabouts, he is reportedly in Saudi Arabia.
"Apparently, on May 26, he was still abroad and has yet to return to Indonesia," said Argo. "Based on that, the investigators have added him to the wanted list."
Rizieq was named a suspect without having undergone police questioning under his previous capacity as a witness as he failed to answer police summonses twice in April and May. (agn)
Jakarta A day after the Jakarta Police declared Islam Defenders Front (FPI) firebrand leader Rizieq Shihab a suspect in a pornography case, they issued on Tuesday a warrant for his arrest.
The case surfaced early this year after screenshots of sexually explicit WhatsApp chats that allegedly took place between Rizieq and a treason suspect, Firza Husein, went viral. Firza has also been named suspect in the case.
Prior to being named a suspect, Rizieq had evaded police questioning twice, on April 25 and May 10, as he left the country with his family to go on umrah (minor haj). He has not returned to Indonesia since.
Meanwhile, Firza was arrested on May 16 over the same case after she underwent 12 hours of questioning at the Jakarta Police headquarters.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono told reporters that the police would immediately visit Rizieq's house to seek his whereabouts. "From the suspect's house we will go to the immigration office to find out more information regarding his exact location," said Argo.
The warrant, he said, would also be used to begin the procedure to put Rizieq on the police's most-wanted list. "As a last resort, we will request that Interpol issue a red notice against Rizieq if there are no signs that he will be returning to Indonesia," he said. (dea)
Jakarta The Jakarta Police named Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader and firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab a suspect in a pornography case on Monday.
Rizieq was named a suspect without having undergone police questioning under his previous capacity as a witness as he had failed to answer police summons twice in April and May.
"At 12 a.m. today [Monday], investigators of Jakarta Police's special crimes unit increased Rizieq's status from witness to suspect," said Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono.
Argo said investigators had gathered adequate evidence to name Rizieq a suspect. "He will be charged under articles 4, 6 and 8 of the 2008 Pornography Law," he said.
Meanwhile, Rizieq's lawyer, Sugito Atmo Pawiro said he had received the update on his client from the police. "It is true. We will fight back against the police," Sugito, who was in Saudi Arabia along with Rizieq, said in reply to a text message from The Jakarta Post.
Sugito lamented that the police did not make an effort to pursue the uploader of the steamy chats that allegedly took place between Rizieq and Firza Husein, who was named a suspect in the same case on May 16, which led to the pornography charges against Rizieq and Firza.
"The investigators are being unfair and forcing their will [upon Rizieq]. Habib [Rizieq] has not even been questioned yet. They have gone too far," he said.
Sugito did not give information regarding whether Rizieq, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, will return to Indonesia soon. (dea/dan)
Jakarta The Jakarta Police have asked the family of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) firebrand leader Rizieq Shihab to persuade him to return to Indonesia from Saudi Arabia to help in the investigation of a pornography case.
The police want to question Rizieq as a witness in a pornography case in which he and treason suspect Firza Husein allegedly engaged in a steamy WhatsApp conversation.
"We really hope [his family] will talk him into returning home," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Tuesday as reported by kompas.com.
Rizieq has ignored two police summonses for questioning in the case. The police claim he is in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His lawyer said Rizieq and his family flew to Saudi Arabia on April 27 on the umrah (minor haj).
Rizieq previously claimed he had been framed in the case and that he would follow legal procedure once the police caught the perpetrator behind the alleged WhatsApp chat.
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta The Religious Affairs and Home Ministries have received an unqualified opinion meaning the ministries fully comply with auditing standards for their 2016 financial report from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) on Monday.
Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said it was the first time his office had received the unqualified opinion after 12 years. Last year, the ministry received a qualified opinion for the 2015 financial report.
"In 2011 to 2014, we got unqualified opinions with an explanatory paragraph, but in 2015 we were down-graded to qualified opinion," he said in Jakarta on Monday.
"With no less than 4,557 task forces, the Religious Affairs Ministry is very large, so the implementation of accrual based accounting by the central government made us work hard."
For Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, the unqualified opinion was the third in a row. "This, third in a row, unqualified opinion was the result of tight supervision and hard work. In the past three years, we have fired 97 staff due to fraudulent behaviours," Tjahjo said.
Other than the two ministries, BPK also gave an unqualified opinion to five other institutions, namely Batam Industrial Development Authority (BP Batam), Suramadu Area Development Authority (BPWS), National Agency on Border Management (BNPP), Sabang Area Management Body (BPKS), and Hajj Management Body (BPIH).
The auditing process by BPK of ministries and other government institutions was tainted by the arrests of two of its auditors by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators for allegedly receiving bribes. (bbn)
Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta The central government and the House of Representatives agreed during a deliberation of the Election Bill on Tuesday to add 15 more seats to the legislative body after the 2019 election.
The decision will bring the total number of lawmakers sitting at the House to 575, representing the country's 34 provinces.
Three of the additional seats will go to North Kalimantan as a new province. The rest will likely go to Riau, West Kalimantan, Papua and Lampung. No province will have its existing number of seats reduced, according to National Awakening Party (PKB) lawmaker Lukman Edy, who chairs the Election Bill Special Committee.
Previously, the House insisted on adding 19 more seats for the sake of "equity and proportionality," because many regions have reported an increasing population, thus requiring more representative seats.
However, the Home Ministry rejected the figure, agreeing to settle for an additional 10 to 15 seats. "We know that this all is for equity and proportionality, but adding 15 more seats is still possible and effective," said Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo.
The ministry previously said that too many seats at the House would burden the State Budget. (foy)
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta The House of Representatives will add 19 seats in the 2019 legislative election, bringing a total of 579 lawmakers in the legislative body.
House members made the decision during the deliberation of the election bill on late Monday evening, following heavy debate and closed-door lobbying among factions.
"We finally agreed to add 19 seats [...]," said National Awakening Party (PKB) lawmaker Lukman Edy, who chairs the House's special committee for the deliberation of the election bill.
Committee deputy chairman Ahmad Riza Patria of the Gerindra Party said it was likely the 19 additional seats would go to 13 provinces, including three seats for North Kalimantan as a new province. Riau, West Kalimantan, Papua and Lampung would get two more seats each.
Eight provinces North Sumatra, Riau Islands, Jakarta, West Java, Southeast Sulawesi, Jambi, South Sumatra and West Nusa Tenggara would get one more seat each.
"We considered principles of proportionality and equity based on the growth of the population in each region," Riza said. The House currently has 560 lawmakers representing 33 provinces.
Separately, the government insisted on increasing the number of House seats to 570. Home Ministry secretary-general Yuswandi Tumenggung said five out of the 10 seats might be given to North Kalimantan, while Riau and Lampung would get an additional seat each.
The five remaining seats would be given to three provinces that lost seats in the 2014 election, such as Gorontalo, Maluku and West Papua. "The House has made a decision but we have not agreed to it yet. Adding 19 more seats goes beyond our calculations," Yuswandi said. (ebf)
Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta Former first lady and women's rights activist Shinta Nuriyah Abdurrahman Wahid has said that protecting Indonesia from a growing feeling of insecurity caused by conflicts relating to ethnic, religious, racial and intergroup (SARA) issues was mandatory for all Indonesian people.
"We need to close ranks to fight against this cruelty," she said on Friday.
Shinta Nuriyah is one of 12 religious leaders attending a gathering to affirm a commitment to fight against intolerance at the University of Gadjah Mada's (UGM) University Club (UC) in Yogyakarta.
Among leaders attending the event are Ahmad Syafi'i Maarif, Engkus Ruswana, Bhikku Nyana Suryanadi, Cardinal Julius R. Darmaatmaja, Mohamad Sobary, and Rev. Gomar Gultom.
Gomar said that for years, the government had let intolerant movements expand in Indonesia. Even in certain cases, the state had facilitated such movements. "The government must act firmly [against intolerance]," he said.
Meanwhile, Confucian priest Budi Suniarto said intolerance in Indonesia had been getting stronger because it was cultivated in children from the time they began school. Parents should not remain idle in such a situation, he added.
"Actually, many of us support pluralism and diversity but we often fail to act when we encounter intolerance," Budi said. (ebf)
Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta Indonesian leaders from different religious communities have called on all people in Indonesia, but especially the government, to raise awareness on the importance of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika and Pancasila to strengthen the character of the nation.
"The government must be tough and wise in responding to the current situation, which has led to dissension. They must take immediate action for the sake of the nation's safety and unity," said Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University (UIN) lecturer Abdul Munir Mulkan.
He read out the joint statement of 12 Indonesian religious leaders, who gathered at the University of Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta, on Friday.
They discussed the current situation in Indonesia, which they say has worsened following the rapid emergence of intolerant movements that encourage their adherents to commit violent acts. The movements have made people feel unsafe and triggered conflicts between different groups of people, such as what happened during the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Among leaders attending the event included Ahmad Syafi'i Maarif, Sinta Nuriyah Abdurrahman Wahid, Engkus Ruswana, Bhikku Nyana Suryanadi, Cardinal Julius R. Darmaatmaja, Rev. Gomar Gultom and Mohamad Sobary.
"The government should have a united stance and rhetoric in addressing the various challenges that people must deal with in their life as one nation," said Munir.
Meanwhile, Syafi'i said the current situation was triggered by the government's slow response to intolerant groups whose values went against those of Pancasila and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika.
"We should contribute our ideas to the government, pushing it to not let such groups threaten [our unity and diversity]," he said. (ebf)
Jakarta Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi on Tuesday inaugurated the operation of bus services named the "Jabodetabek Airport Connexion (JA Connexion)," connecting Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten and a number of hotels and shopping malls in Greater Jakarta.
He expressed hope that many people would ride the buses to ease traffic congestions on the roads heading to the airport. About 150,000 passengers pass through Soekarno-Hatta airport each day.
"We provide people with mass transportation services as alternatives [of taxis]," said the minister at the airport on Tuesday as reported by tribunnews.com, adding that the buses were of high quality.
He expressed hope that the Jakarta Transportation Management Body (BPTJ) and its operators would increase the number of buses to 400 by the end of this year, from 91 buses at present.
The buses stop at upmarket hotels in the city, including Hotel Indonesia, Hotel Borobudur, Hotel Alila, Hotel Luminor, Hotel Sari Pan Pacific, Hotel Aryaduta, Hotel Grand Cemara, Hotel Ibis Tamarin, Hotel Milenium, Hotel Grand Sahid Jaya, Hotel Ascot, Hotel Amaris Thamrin City, Hotel Aston Sentul City, Hotel Sahid Jaya Lippo Cikarang and Hotel Mall BTM Bogor.
They also stop at several shopping centers, including Mall Taman Anggrek, Mall Plaza Senayan, Mall ITC Cempaka Mas, Mall Kelapa Gading, Mall Thamrin City, Tanah Abang Market, Mall BTM Bogor and Mall Grand Indonesia.
The bus fare is Rp 25,000 (US$1.88) from shopping centers to the airport and Rp 50,000 from the airport to shopping centers during the promotion period. (bbn)
Jakarta Maritime Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has warned Jakarta Governor-elect Anies Rasyid Baswedan over the latter's plan to stop the Jakarta Bay reclamation project, saying the Jakarta administration may face a legal challenge from developers.
The administration may have to pay compensation to the developers, he added. "This is a state that is based on law. They will surely file a lawsuit," said Luhut, commenting on the termination of the project as promised by Anies during the election campaign.
Reclamation in Jakarta Bay has been planned since the 1990s and is based on a 1995 presidential decree issued by the late president Soeharto, which formed the legal basis for the project.
According to kompas.com, from the total 17 isles planned to be constructed, developers had finished constructing Isles C, D, K and N, while isle G remained under construction.
Isle C and D were constructed by PT Kapuk Naga Indah, a subsidiary of property developer PT Agung Sedayu Group. Isle K was developed by PT Pembangunan Jaya and Isle N was developed by state-owned port operator PT Pelindo II.
Meanwhile, Isle G was constructed by PT Muara Wisesa Samudera, a subsidiary of another privately owned property giant PT Agung Podomoro Land.
Anies' camp, however, said the Jakarta city administration would not give compensation to the developers because the isles were not constructed on the basis of the original plans, while properties on the isles were constructed without permits.
"If you do something without a legal basis, you have no right to ask compensation," said Marco Kusumawijaya, a team member of Anies and his running mate Sandiaga Uno. (bbn)
Jakarta Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said on Friday the purchase of a VVIP helicopter from Italian-British manufacturing company Agusta Westland may have involved several high-ranking Air Force personnel.
He further said the TNI had named three Air Force personnel suspects in a graft case related to the procurement of the AW 101 helicopter, including deputy governor of the Air Force Academy and the Air Force commander of operations I.
Gatot said the three suspects could be charged with insubordination, misuse of authority, embezzlement and forgery. The case allegedly inflicted Rp 220 billion (US$16.52 million) in state losses caused by mark ups in the Rp 738 billion project, he said.
"This is only an initial investigation, and there may be a possibility of other suspects. The investigators are probing the flow of funds regarding the procurement of the AW 101," Gatot said at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) building on Friday.
In 2015, then Air Force chief Marshal Agus Supriatna reportedly said the purchase was part of a strategic plan of the Indonesian Air Force and was not made based on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's request.
"Don't let this be politicized [by saying] that this is for the President. This was my plan so that VVIP officials wouldn't have to bow too low [when entering a helicopter]. If the President doesn't want to use it, I will use it," Agus said in November 2015. He added that the purchase was in line with the allocated budget. (dis/mrc/ebf)
Jakarta A group of people broke into and damaged parts of the Monas Barat police post in Gambir, Central Jakarta, on Thursday night. The post is in the vicinity of City Hall and a handful of government buildings, including the State Palace.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono told reporters on Friday that one of the post's guards, Adj. First Insp. Aiptu Yusuf Indra, was approached by a visitor carrying a large knife at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
The man was angry and looking for some police officers who he said had stopped him on the street. "The man quarrelled with the officers at the post but they managed to calm the man down," Argo said as quoted by kompas.com.
The man left the post, but at 9:30 p.m. he returned with three other people who claimed to be the man's superintendents. At 11:30 p.m., 10 more men came to the post. They asked the same thing as the first man but were angrier and even pushed Yusuf around, Argo said.
"They entered the police post, broke into the cabinets then just left. Indra later sought help from another nearby police post but when he came back with help, the windows of his post had been broken and so had the computers inside," he said.
Argo said the police were still looking into the case to find out who was responsible for the assault. (dea)
Jewel Topsfield, Jakarta The Australian government says it will not be represented before a Jakarta court hearing a $103 million class action on behalf of 115 youths incarcerated in Australia for alleged people smuggling.
Indonesian children were jailed alongside hardened adult criminals in Australian jails after the Australian Federal Police used a now completely discredited method of taking wrist X-rays to determine their age.
"Australia has requested the court dismiss the proceedings," a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told Fairfax Media.
He said the Australian government had conveyed its position in writing to the Central Jakarta District Court that as a sovereign state, its agencies were not subject to the jurisdiction of the court.
The lawyer representing the Indonesian juveniles, Lisa Hiariej, said the case on behalf of 31 alleged people smugglers who were jailed while juveniles and 84 who were put in immigration detention was being brought to an Indonesian court because it was a human rights case.
"The Australian government has put Indonesian minors into Australian adult jail. And in such case[s] state immunity and jurisdiction do not apply," Ms Hiariej said. "Besides, they are poor children there is no way they can go to Australia to bring up their case."
The plaintiffs are suing the Immigration Department, the Australian Federal Police, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney-General's Department.
Ms Hiariej said she would be given a copy of the letter from the Australian government in court on May 30 and would ask for a month to respond.
The action comes as Ali Jasmin, who was arrested in 2009 while working as a cook on a people-smuggling boat when he was just 13, is appealing to have his conviction overturned by the Western Australian Criminal Court of Appeal.
A decision in that case is expected within weeks, which could pave the way for others who were incarcerated while still minors to take legal action in the Australian judicial system.
Mr Jasmin, also known as Ali Yasmin, was jailed for 689 days 386 of them in adult detention on the basis of a wrist X-ray that put his age at about 19.
This was despite the fact that the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions had a legalised copy of his birth certificate that stated he was still a child. The Immigration Department had also interviewed Mr Jasmin and formed the view he was about 14.
The policy at the time was to not to charge anyone with people smuggling who wasn't established to be 19 and to instead return them home.
A 2012 Australian Human Rights Commission Inquiry found the Australian Federal Police were aware of material that called into question reliance on wrist X-ray analysis but continued to use the procedure as a means of age assessment. It is a method that has now been discontinued.
"From the outside appearance I was a kid," Mr Jasmin told Fairfax Media. "They said I was an adult based on an X-ray test. Just from that. I rejected the result many times. I said, those machines of yours, they are not my mother. She gave birth to me, so it's her who knows my real age, not the machine.
"My family submitted a birth certificate via the consulate and an affidavit from my school principal, from the village head. None was accepted."
Mr Jasmin said he was sexually assaulted while in a maximum security WA jail. He said the man invited him to his room and then asked Mr Jasmin to massage him. "He pushed me to the bed. His hands were all over me, after I reached my limit, I got angry, stood up, broke down the door and ran outside. I was scared, I was traumatised after that."
Mr Jasmin, who was released in 2012, said he had never received an apology from the Australian government. "Nothing. Not an apology for jailing me for two years, not directly, not via anyone else. I was upset, angry, not with anyone in particular but with the system. I am glad the X-rays are no longer used. No one else has to suffer the way I did."
Mr Jasmin is not one of the plaintiffs in the class action before the Central Jakarta District Court.
In 2011 at least 70 Indonesian juveniles were estimated to be in Australian adult jails.
Colin Singer, the chairman of NGO Indonesia International Initiatives, campaigned tirelessly to secure the convicted juveniles' release from Australian jails. He said he still cannot understand why one 13-year-old ended up in an adult prison, let alone more than 70.
"I used to believe we had a justice system that was transparent and fair and you could sleep at night because there were people looking after people's interests. Not any more," he said.
"There was no fair go. It was an embarrassment to Australia. Indonesia has never put an Australian kid in an adult prison but we think the Indonesian judicial [system] is garbage."
Mr Singer said he wanted four things: "I want the kids to have a future. I want them to be assisted to get over the psychological and physical trauma they suffered. I want them to get an education they were deprived of and I want them to get compensation to allow them to get a start in life." With Karuni Rompies
Ben Collins In a Darwin court last week, six Indonesian fisherman pleaded guilty to attempting to steal trochus shell near Browse Island, off the Kimberley coast.
The crew received fines ranging from $2,000 to $6,000, and two repeat offenders were sentenced to immediate jail time.
Even with last week's charges, the situation is a dramatic improvement on illegal fishing from its peak in 2005, according to Australian Fisheries Management Authority general manager of operations Peter Venslovas.
"There have only been 15 apprehensions in Australian waters since July 1, 2016, significantly down from the hundreds caught in the mid-2000s," Mr Venslovas said.
But industrial scale illegal fishing in Indonesian and East Timorese waters is forcing poor and exploited fisherman from those areas to return to the illegal fishing practices in northern Australia that were once common, researchers are warning. Illegal fishing cascade
Illegal foreign fishing in northern Australian waters peaked in 2005 with around 7,000 illegal fishing vessels sighted in Australia's exclusive economic zone. But a series of border security operations reduced illegal incursions to less than a tenth of that number by 2007.
Since then, illegal fishing has steadily risen again, according to Professor Karen Edyvane from the North Australia Research Unit for the Australian National University in Darwin. "Since about 2010 we've seen a major and sharp increase in what we call illegal fishing vessel activity," Dr Edyvane said.
Australia's policing of our maritime borders is not at fault, according to Dr Edyvane, who puts the increasing illegal fishing pressure down to the destruction of fish stocks in Indonesian and East Timorese waters by foreign-owned, long-range industrial fishing trawlers.
"We need to be aware of the enormous amount of illegal fishing activity taking place in Indonesian waters which is forcing many of these [Indonesian fishermen] to fish illegally in Australia's waters," Dr Edyvane said.
Better cooperation between Australian, Indonesian and East Timorese governments in fighting industrial-scale illegal fishing is the best way to prevent small-scale Indonesian fishing in Australian waters, she said. "We've really got to be working together, all of us together, in terms of tackling the issues of illegal fishing."
Indonesian fisherman are also pressured to risk arrest in Australian waters by traders who finance their meagre operations and then demand increasing returns, according to Emeritus Professor James Fox from ANU.
"Most people don't know that the traders who buy the products from the fisherman are usually exploiting them," he said. Dr Fox has studied small scale fishing on the Indonesian archipelago for over 30 years and has lived on the island of Roti on-and-off since 1965.
Despite befriending Indonesian fisherman who travelled to Australian waters to fish, he welcomed the crackdown on illegal fishing in the mid-2000s as it ended the exploitation that he said was driving the fisherman to act illegally. "When the boats were stopped it ended decades of exploitation that the fisherman were under," he said.
Poor, small-scale Indonesian fisherman would become indebted to traders who would pressure them to take greater risks. "They come down within the legal area, and then they sneak across further down towards the Australian coastline where the fishing is better," Dr Fox said.