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Indonesia News Digest 21 – June 1-7, 2017

West Papua Military ties Women's rights & gender Freedom of speech & expression Religious intolerance & vigilantism Social organisations & NGOs Internet & social media Health & education LBGT & same-sex marriage Graft & corruption Terrorism & religious extremism Freedom of religion & worship Islam & religion Sex, pornography & morality Agriculture & food security Ethnic & sectarian conflict Jakarta & urban life National security & intelligence Free trade & neoliberalism Focus Analysis & opinion

West Papua

Papuans love being part of Indonesia, says ambassador

Radio New Zealand International - June 7, 2017

Indonesia's new ambassador to New Zealand says the indigenous population of Papua region is not pushing for independence.

Tantowi Yahya says the push for a referendum is coming from overseas-based elements who do not represent the local populace.

He says the provinces of Papua and West Papua are governed by ethnic Papuans, and that since 2014 Indonesia's government of Joko Widodo has made significant gains in development in this region.

Ambassador Tantowi told Johnny Blades that Indonesia acknowledges the mistakes of the past and has been working hard to take care of Papuans' human rights.


Tantowi Yahya: We understand the perceptions that hangs around in connection with Papua. For that reason our police and military have been doing their job very carefully. So they have been informed and very well trained not to do anything that can abuse human rights. They are very careful. But then the news that spreads to the world is the other way around.

Johnny Blades: Alright, well the thing is, the Indonesian human rights body KONTRAS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence) last year was saying that it had about 1,200 reports from Papua of people who suffered from harassment, killings, torture and other ill-treatment – suggesting maybe that's just the tip of the iceberg. Many of the abuses are by security forces against Papuans who are just trying to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. That seems to be the persistent area of abuses.

TY: Well, we have to see this issue very, very clearly. I mean, why it happens. For police and for military men working in Papua, it's not a safe place, it's not really a safe place...

JB: Why?

TY: Because the way, I can say that the police and the military men in the army, they have been perceived as the representatives of the government of Jakarta, and many times they become the target. That's why in some areas, they don't feel safe. But then – because I have been there many times too – they are still working under the ethic of not doing anything that can abuse human rights. So like I said earlier, they have been doing their jobs very carefully, very carefully. But then what can you do if they are attacked? They have to defend themselves. In the defence, sometimes there is something bad (that) happens. This is the kind of thing which is reported to the world as a kind of a torture; torture from the police or the army towards their fellow Papuans. So what happens in fact is the other way around. I can say this because I've been to Papua, to see in front of my very eyes what happens actually.

JB: It's interesting what you're saying, because wouldn't there be a reason why people attack security forces? It doesn't just happen for no reason does it?

TY: Well if you ask me frankly, who wants freedoms? I mean, the people of Papua majority, they love being with Indonesia. They are happy with what we have been doing so far. I mean, the development is clear, is now taking place. And after the reformation back in 1998 and in 2001 we introduced special autonomy to both of the Papua provinces (Papua and West Papua). And the meaning of special autonomy is that it's no longer the people outside Papua who govern the two provinces. Since the special autonomy applied, the two provinces of Papua are governed by ethnic Papuans, okay; 40 regencies and cities are all governed by ethnic Papuans, okay; and also the members of the parliament. It didn't happen in the past. I mean, if you talk about freedom, they get their freedom now, so to speak.

JB: Governor (Lukas) Enembe, the governor of Papua province, obviously he's an ethnic Papuan. One of the things he's really worried about is transmigration, and it's something that we hear concerns about from a lot of Papuans. You know, I understand the formal process of transmigration isn't necessarily in place but there is still a huge influx of people from other parts of the republic and it's changing the fabric of Papuan society, isn't it. And they worry that they're being marginalised, so I guess my question is why does the government allow that to happen?

TY: We cannot stop the Indonesians who live outside of Papua from moving into Papua, because Papua is an integral part of Indonesia. I mean, the Indonesians are free to live and work anywhere they want, and because Papua is part of Indonesia, they can go there. So there is no way government can stop people from moving in. But you know what happens today, it's the other way around. It's the people from outside Papua who are marginalised, they cannot become leaders of the regencies up to the province, there is no way they can do that. And also, some of the jobs are provided for the ethnic Papuans. One of the few occupations and jobs that the people outside Papua can do are purely on business level, so they become merchants, they become traders.

JB: But the migrants seem to dominate business in Papua, don't they?

TY: Well, business is something new for Papua people, so they need to learn. This is a kind of transfer of knowledge from the migrants to the ethnic Papuans. They need to learn that from the migrants. And I think sooner rather than later most of the ethnic Papuan people will become businessmen too. So this is the beauty of inviting migrants to live, to work, because at the same time they transfer their knowledge and skill to the local people.

JB: But it is an area of concern for them. So too is of course the self-determination issue. Would you agree that the process by which Papua was incorporated into Indonesia remains a sore point for Papuans? It's behind their calls for a referendum essentially, isn't it?

TY: Well, this is the kind of notion which was forced by those who want freedom for Papua. But the people themselves, the majority of people living in those two provinces, again I'm telling you, they're happy with Indonesia. So the issue does no longer exist, except by those who have an agenda for... Free Papua Movement as such. We don't see any issue any more in regards to the Pepera, or Act of Free Choice. Everything was done properly, everything was done and conducted under the supervisions. Nothing was unclear when the Act of Free Choice (1969) was exercised. And why it was done in such a way, not one man one vote, (is) because those days it was not possible to make each and every one to use his or her constitutional voice to get the vote. And the system, I think, due to the terrains and due to the geographical location is also taking place in other parts of the world. The result of the Pepera was then brought to the UN General Assembly and it was approved. During the General Assembly of the United Nations, none of the members of the United Nations said no to the process that was happening in the Pepera.

JB: If there was enough of a groundswell for a referendum, isn't that democracy, to give people a voice about how they want their political status to be?

TY: Johnny, why should we talk about referendum? If you know the result of the last presidential elections, over sixty percent of the Papuan people voted for Jokowi (Indonesian president Joko Widodo). It means that he wants Jokowi to become the president and preside for the people of Papua. If you talk about a referendum, you're talking about yourselves. If it comes from your people, then probably it can be accepted by the government. But here the voice of referendum is not coming from the Papuans. They are Papuans who live abroad and they are no longer Indonesians.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/201846654/papuans-love-being-part-of-indonesia-says-ambassador

Indonesia committed to Pacific, says ambassador

Radio New Zealand International - June 6, 2017

Indonesia's new ambassador to New Zealand says issues of importance to Pacific Island countries are his country's concerns too.

According to Tantowi Yahya, Indonesia, with its significant Melanesian population, considers itself part of the Pacific region.

He said that like Australia and New Zealand, Indonesia was interested in helping prosperity, democracy and human development in the Pacific. Pacific Islands states, Ambassador Tantowi explained, could expect ongoing help from Indonesia on the big issues confronting them.

"Climate change has been a great issue, right. We are trying to help. There will be some co-operations with Indonesia in those countries on that issue, and also capacity building," he said.

The ambassador emphasised the commonalities between Indonesia and countries across the Pacific Islands region.

"We eat more or less the same food with the people in Samoa, in Vanuatu, in Solomon Islands; we drink more or less the same thing; and we have more or less the same culture. So that shows the brotherhood."

While there is strong grassroots support in Pacific Island countries for West Papuans, Ambassador Tantowi said the indigenous population of Papua region was not pushing for independence.

The push for a self-determination referendum, he suggested, has been made from overseas-based elements who did not represent the local populace.

The ambassador said the provinces of Papua and West Papua, and their regencies, are governed by ethnic Papuans. He disputed claims that Papuans seek a new self-determination process, saying Papuans took up the opportunity to vote in Indonesia's elections with relish.

"If you talk about a referendum, you're asking about yourselves. If it comes from your people, then probably it can be accepted by the government," he said. "But here the voice of referendum is not coming from the Papuans. They are Papuans who live abroad and they are no longer Indonesians."

Tantowi Yahya said that in the last election Papuans strongly supported the government of Joko Widodo. He credited the Indonesian President with having made significant gains in economic development in Papua since 2014, especially with infrastructure.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/332415/indonesia-committed-to-pacific-says-ambassador

Vanuatu's Sope speaks out in support of West Papua

Radio New Zealand International - June 2, 2017

A former Vanuatu prime minister, Barak Sope, says he is confident West Papua will become independent from Indonesia.

Mr Sope, who had been a long time supporter for independence in East Timor, was speaking after being awarded the "Order of Timor Leste" in the capital Dili, for his contribution to that country's successful struggle for freedom. It is the highest honour East Timor can bestow.

Mr Sope has long been an advocate for West Papua and West Papuan self determination. At the end of last year he was pushing for Vanuatu to become a member of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation to counter Indonesia's influence.

Mr Sope said at the time Indonesia is only on the committee to ensure the subject of self determination in West Papua is not discussed.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/332163/vanuatu-s-sope-speaks-out-in-support-of-west-papua

Military ties

NZ and Indonesia move towards stronger defence ties

Radio New Zealand International - June 1, 2017

The New Zealand defence minister and his Indonesian counterpart have signalled stronger defence ties between the two countries.

The ministers signed a Joint Statement on Defence Relations on Wednesday at a meeting in Jakarta. The statement identifies a range of areas to further strengthen the defence partnership between New Zealand and Indonesia.

They include joint military exercises, intelligence sharing, emergency assistance and training visits. The New Zealand Defence Minister Mark Mitchell said Indonesia played a fundamental role in supporting security in the Asia-Pacific region.

The joint statement issued by both governments following the meeting made no mention of instability in Indonesia's region of Papua, known widely as West Papua.

New Zealand-based Papua advocacy groups, and around a dozen MPs, have been urging the government to push Jakarta to do more about holding security forces in the region to account for reported human rights abuses.

A separatist conflict has simmered in Papua since its controversial incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/332042/nz-and-indonesia-move-towards-stronger-defence-ties

Women's rights & gender

Indonesian Muslim women engage with feminism

The Conversation - June 1, 2017

Dina Afrianty – Can a Muslim be a feminist? Many Muslim women and men have fought for liberation, justice and freedom, but some still question if feminism and Islam are aligned.

The practice of Muslim women wearing headscarves is often taken as a sign that they are objectified through religious practices. Genital mutilation, child marriage, domestic violence and polygamy in Muslim majority societies are practices said to be based on Islamic teachings.

This leads to the argument that being a Muslim means one lacks "agency" as one must submit to certain teachings.

Western feminism understands agency as a self-realisation and freedom for everyone to exercise their free will. Therefore, they should not be subject to tradition, culture or social coercion.

Stories of Indonesia's early feminist, Kartini, and the recent world-first female Muslim clerics congress in Indonesia both offer insights in this discussion. They highlight the struggle of Muslim women for equality, justice and freedom.

A national hero, Kartini was a young woman fighting against feudalistic and patriarchal Javanese culture founded on diverse foreign values, including Hinduism, Islam and Western colonialism. In her time (she was born in 1879), education was not for girls. Society's expectation was only for girls to become a wife, give birth and look after children.

Her story, which has recently been made into a feature film in Indonesia, suggests her ideas about equality were influenced by her Dutch friends. But it was also Kartini's encounter with Islamic teachings that allowed her to learn that the Quran guaranteed equality for men and women.

Tragically, although she campaigned against polygamy, her ailing father's request forced Kartini to accept marriage to a man who already had three wives.

Female clerics taking over

As if in the steps of Kartini, the gathering of almost 500 female religious scholars in Cirebon, West Java, is a milestone in Muslim women's fight for equality.

The well-versed clerics are leaders of Islamic boarding schools and preachers. They believe gender equality is guaranteed in Islam and that the Quran, the source of Islamic teachings, is not misogynistic. The subjugation of women has instead been influenced by the male domination of Quranic interpretation.

Since the time of the Prophet, the authority to read and interpret the Quran has always been in the hands of men. In the congress, female religious scholars from the Middle East and the region passionately discussed strategies to take over this space and gain authority.

Malaysian Zainah Anwar, the founder of Sisters in Islam, delivered a passionate speech about fighting male domination in Quranic interpretation.

She told congress participants Islam gives women the right to define what Islam is. It is important for women to initiate reform and participate in public policy within the framework of Islam, the Indonesian constitution and universal human rights and women's rights, she said.

The clerics believed complex issues like child marriage, domestic violence, polygamy and women's role in combating the rise of radicalism could only be challenged if women took the lead in the interpretation of Islamic teachings.

Polygamy was one of the prominent themes in the congress. Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, a former human rights official at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, told the audience she always had to argue against her male colleagues in various meetings on women's rights, and on polygamy in particular.

She said: "I told them it [polygamy] is not the teaching of Islam and I use verses in the Quran to support my argument." The audience responded with a big round of applause.

Nur Rofiah, a professor in Quranic studies, explored how men have exploited particular verses to justify taking additional wives. According to Nur, Islam says every human being has to elevate the status of humankind, and polygamy does not.

At the congress, the female clerics released a fatwa to lift the minimum age for girls to marry to 18. The Indonesian Marriage Law stipulates 16 as the minimum marrying age for girls.

Although a fatwa does not have legal force in Indonesia, by issuing it the female clerics have taken a bold stand. Fatwa-making is traditionally a male-dominated field.

By taking this approach, the female clerics are attempting to open Muslim women's minds to the idea that they should not only listen to male clerics on questions affecting their identity as Muslim women.

Muslim women's agency

The idea that Muslim women lack agency is hard to reconcile with this vibrant new network of intellectual women. They no longer accept becoming victims of male domination and they use Islamic teachings to challenge patriarchal practices. They take advantage of any available public avenue to express their need for independence, to be seen and heard.

Does this make them feminists? If they look upon their faith as one source of inspiration that motivates and helps them to achieve strength and independence, then Indonesia has millions.

[Dina Afrianty is a post-doctoral Research Fellow, Australian Catholic University.]

Source: http://theconversation.com/indonesian-muslim-women-engage-with-feminism-78424

Freedom of speech & expression

'Professor' Tamim arrested for alleged hate speech against Jokowi on

Jakarta Post - June 7, 2017

Jakarta – The National Police cyber crime unit has arrested a 45-year-old man using the YouTube account, 'Professor' Tamim Pardede, in Tangerang, Banten for allegedly posting videos containing hate speech against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

National Police spokesperson Sr. Com. Martinus Sitompul confirmed the arrest, saying that the man, whose real name is Muhammad Tamim Pardede, had allegedly insulted the government. Tamim also shared videos containing provocative statements on ethnicity, religion and race issues (SARA).

"We arrested him in Adiloka Megasari in Tangerang [Banten]," Martinus said, as quoted by tempo.co. Police also confiscated a laptop and a cellular phone on which Tamim saved his Youtube account, as well as a copy of a video he shared, Martinus said.

According to Martinus, the professor title in his account name is fake as the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) has confirmed he is not a research professor from the institute, even though Tamim has claimed he belongs to LIPI. Tamim will be charged under law No.19/2016 on Information and Electronic Transactions.

The arrest of Tamim Pardede follows the arrest of a 35-year-old man identified as Muhammad Said, the owner of facebook account "Ahmad Fatihul Alif," who was arrested on Sunday in West Jakarta for insulting the president and National police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian on social media. (yon/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/07/professor-tamim-arrested-for-alleged-hate-speech-against-jokowi-on-youtube.html

Police question teenager for Facebook comment

Jakarta Post - June 6, 2017

Jakarta – Bekasi Police brought in a 15-year-old identified only as BBS from his home in Kaliabang, North Bekasi, on Monday, after receiving a formal complaint from a group who claimed the boy had posted a comment on his Facebook page that offended their religion.

The group reportedly surrounded BBS's house after discovering the social media post.

"This is not considered an act of persecution because there were no signs of intimidation from the group," said Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr. Hero Bahtiar. "We came directly to [BBS's home] and brought him to the police station."

Hero pointed out that BBS's case was different from that of PMA, a 15-year-old resident of Cipinang Muara, East Jakarta, who had been harassed and intimidated by alleged members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). The incident was filmed and the video went viral on social media.

Hero said BBS admitted that his Facebook post had been a spontaneous response to another comment made on the social media platform. The case has been reported to the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI).

Police decided to release BBS back to his family after the received counseling, Hero said. However, the case will proceed with mobile phone screenshots as preliminary evidence.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/06/police-question-teenager-for-facebook-comment.html

Religious intolerance & vigilantism

Police identify more suspects in Cipinang teenager harassment

Jakarta Post - June 7, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The Jakarta Police have identified two more people allegedly involved in the harassment of a 15-year-old boy in East Jakarta, whose comments on social media were considered insults to firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab.

Hendy F. Kurniawan, head of the Jakarta Police violent crimes unit identified the men by the aliases B and E, but refused to reveal their role in case.

"We can't reveal their role yet because we haven't arrested them. We're worried [revealing the information] could interfere with the ongoing investigation," Hendy said.

Based on witness testimony and obtained footage both men are suspected of being involved in the harassment of the victim, Hendy said.

On Saturday, police named Abdul Majid, 22, and Mat Husin alias Ucin, 57, as suspects in the harassment case. They allegedly violated the child protection law and the criminal code on collective assault.

Another teenager in Bekasi, West Java, also faced police questioning on Monday for a comment on his Facebook page that was considered offensive to religion. (cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/07/police-identify-more-suspects-in-cipinang-teenager-harassment.html

Komnas HAM to investigate vigilantism by hard-line groups

Jakarta Post - June 7, 2017

Jakarta – The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) is set to investigate the widespread vigilantism allegedly committed by hard-line groups in Indonesia to determine whether it leads to persecution of minorities.

Komnas HAM commissioner Roichatul Aswidah said to decide if the ongoing vigilantism could be categorized as persecution, the commission would use two basic instruments.

First, she said, Komnas would determine whether the acts perpetrated by the hard-line groups occurred "systematically" and, second, it would examine whether those acts were "escalating."

"Acts will be categorized as persecution and a violation of human rights if they are carried out systematically and are escalating. Yet, if they do not take place systematically and are not escalating, they can [only] be categorized as general crimes, which can lead to charges under the KUHP [Criminal Code]," she said.

Roichatul said perpetrators committing general crimes could be charged under KUHP Article 351 concerning assault and Article 170 concerning violence toward human beings and goods. "Komnas HAM will take a closer look to determine if the acts have been done systematically and are escalating."

Recently, a 15-year-old boy of Chinese descent in East Jakarta was verbally and physically abused by a mob of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) followers because they thought his humorous social media memes insulted their leader, Rizieq Shihab.

Similarly, a female Muslim physician in Solok, West Sumatra, was confronted by FPI members who demanded she delete criticisms concerning Rizieq's questionable morals from her social media account. (yon/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/06/komnas-ham-to-investigate-vigilantism-by-hard-line-groups.html

Komnas HAM supports firm police action in tackling vigilantism

Jakarta Post - June 6, 2017

Jakarta – The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) conveyed its support for the National Police to take tough legal measures against vigilantism allegedly committed by hard-line groups because such acts violated freedom of expression.

"We want to express our respect of the National Police who have tackled the [vigilantism] cases and support them in tackling several other [similar] cases," Komnas HAM chairman Nur Kholis said on Tuesday.

Police recently named two men in East Jakarta suspects for verbally and physically abusing a 15-year-old boy of Chinese descent whom they accused of having insulted Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab with humorous memes on his social media account.

Police have also dismissed the police chief of Solok, West Sumatra, Adj. Sr. Comr. Susmelawati Rosya for failing to protect Fiera Lovita, a female physician who was targeted by FPI members because she criticized Rizieq's immoral behavior.

"Freedom of expression is a [basic] human right, which must be respected, protected and fulfilled by the government. Therefore, we condemn individuals or organizations taking arbitrary measures [that harm freedom of expression]," Nur said.

Meanwhile, Komnas HAM commissioner M. Imdadun Rahmat said cases of vigilantism were processed under the Criminal Code (KUHP) and the commission would supervise and make sure that the police worked under proper procedures when tackling the cases. (yon/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/06/komnas-ham-supports-firm-police-action-in-tackling-vigilantism.html

Lawyers support police's fight against radicalism, intolerance

Jakarta Post - June 6, 2017

Jakarta – A group of lawyers attached to the Pancasila Defenders Forum of Advocates (FAPP) have declared their support for the National Police in their fight against radicalism and intolerance.

FAPP chairman Teguh Samudra said the support derived from their concerns over the increasing cases of intolerance and intimidation against minority groups, which could threaten Indonesia's unity.

"We support the police in their fight against radicalism and intolerance. Police should not be afraid of being accused of criminalizing ulemas. We believe what the police have done [so far] is in line with the law," Teguh told journalists after extending the forum's official support to the police on Monday.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian expressed his thanks for the support, saying it would make the police stronger in combating radicalism and intolerance.

"The police have always referred to two pillars for carrying out their actions. They are legal and societal legitimacy. Legal legitimacy means we must always follow the rule of law, while societal legitimacy requires support from the people," Tito said.

Vigilantism has recently occupied media headlines following a pornography case allegedly involving Islam Defenders Front (FPI) chairman Rizieq Shihab.

The police named Rizieq a pornography suspect on Monday last week. In the following days, the police issued an arrest warrant for Rizieq, who skipped a police summons and is reportedly seeking shelter in Saudi Arabia. FPI members accused the police of criminalizing ulemas for naming Rizieq a suspect and ordering his arrest. (yon/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/06/lawyers-support-polices-fight-against-radicalism-intolerance.html

Jakarta quick-response teams ready to defend victims of intimidation

Jakarta Post - June 2, 2017

Jakarta – An alliance of Jakarta youth organizations has formed quick-response teams in several districts across the city to help citizens facing intimidation and persecution from various parties.

"The teams are spread across 44 districts in Jakarta. They will respond to any requests or signs of persecution, intimidation or terror," Anwar Sjani, secretary of the NasDem Youth Guard's Jakarta chapter, said on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com.

In addition to the NasDem Party youth wing, other organizations to join the initiative include the Jakarta Youth Alliance, the Communication Forum of Indonesian Veterans' Children (FKPPI) Jakarta chapter, and Jakarta chapter of GP Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Islamic organization.

Previously, an anti-persecution coalition of NGOs had formed a crisis center to protect and provide legal assistance to victims of intimidation and persecution.

The latest case included a 15-year-old boy of Chinese descent from East Jakarta, who was filmed being harassed by men claiming to be members of the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI). The boy had allegedly posted comments on his Facebook page criticizing FPI leader Rizieq Shihab.

Rizieq has been named a suspect in a pornography case and is currently on the police's wanted list after failing to answer two summonses for questioning. (kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/02/jakarta-quick-response-teams-ready-to-defend-victims-of-intimidation.html

Apology not enough: FPI

Jakarta Post - June 2, 2017

Jakarta – Islam Defenders Front (FPI) spokesperson Slamet Maarif has said offering apologies is not enough for people who have insulted the group's leader, Rizieq Shihab.

Recently, a 15-year-old male teenager of Chinese descent was reportedly forced by FPI members to sign an apology letter for having allegedly insulted Rizieq on his Facebook account.

"[...] We will still report him to law enforcement authorities so that there will be a deterrent effect on those [wanting to] insult Islam and clerics," Slamet told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

According to reports, a group of FPI members and local residents mobbed and intimidated the 15-year-old boy after he insulted Rizieq Shihab on Facebook.

Video footage that went viral on social media indicate that the boy was forced to sign a stamped statement of apology. In the video, the boy also appears to be repeatedly hit by a man.

"You'd better tell your friends of your [Chinese] ethnicity not to do it anymore, so this will not happen again," said one FPI member.

"You have to know that Habib Rizieq belongs not only to the FPI but also to all Muslims. The FPI is just an organization but he [Rizieq] is loved by millions of people in Indonesia."

Slamet said the FPI would not allow Islam and clerics to be insulted by anyone and rejected the notion that the boy's online post was in line with freedom of expression.

Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network regional coordinator Damar Juniarto said the incident was clearly part of a growing trend of persecution in Indonesia. (dis/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/02/apology-not-enough-fpi.html

Persecuted teenager, family moved to safe house

Jakarta Post - June 2, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta Police have transferred to a safe house a 15-year-old boy who was intimidated and harassed by people claiming to be members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) for insulting their fugitive leader in a video that has gone viral.

Sr. Comr. Hearianto Adi Nugroho, general crimes director at the Jakarta Police, said Friday that police would make sure the 15-year-old boy and his family remained safe.

"They will be in a safe house until this case is over and there will be no more threats," he said as quoted by kompas.com.

A video went viral on Thursday showing the boy, who is of Chinese descent, being intimidated and harassed for allegedly insulting firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab.

In the video, the men can be seen coercing the boy to sign a statement of apology for slandering Rizieq, who was recently named a suspect in a pornography case. A man is seen slapping the boy's mouth two times.

Following public uproar, three men have been taken into custody by the Jakarta Police in connection to the incident. (idb)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/02/persecuted-teenager-family-moved-to-safe-house.html

Police get tougher, arrest 2 in persecution of 15-year-old boy in E.

Jakarta Post - June 2, 2017

Jakarta – National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has instructed his subordinates to take stern action against those involved in the persecution and harassment of a 15-year-old boy in East Jakarta. Two men have reportedly been arrested and detained for questioning.

"If something like this happens again, I have urged all police officers to not fear [taking stern action against the perpetrators]. I will back them [the officers] up in accordance with the prevailing laws," Tito said on Thursday evening.

He said the National Police were focused on efforts to crack down on online persecution by hard-line groups. "[The hard-line groups] should not take the law into their own hands," Tito asserted.

Regarding the men involved in the harassment of the 15-year-old boy in East Jakarta, Tito told East Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Andry Wibowo to arrest and detain the alleged culprits. Andry confirmed that two men, identified as M and U, had been detained in relation to the case. A video has gone viral showing the boy, who is of Chinese descent, being intimidated and harassed by a group of people claiming to be members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) for insulting their fugitive leader, Rizieq Shihab. In the video, the men can be seen coercing the boy, to sign a statement of apology for slandering Rizieq, who was recently named a suspect in a pornography case. A man is seen slapping the boy's mouth two times. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/02/police-get-tougher-arrest-2-in-persecution-of-15-year-old-boy-in-e-jakarta.html

Coalition forms anti-persecution crisis center

Jakarta Post - June 2, 2017

Jakarta – The Anti-Persecution Coalition has formed a crisis center to protect and provide legal assistance to victims of persecution and harassment.

"We felt that there should be an attempt to prevent persecution from happening. If we don't stop it now, it can spread to the whole country," said Damar Juniarto of the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co.

SAFEnet recorded 55 recent persecution victims as of Thursday, with the latest being a 15-year-old of Chinese descent from East Jakarta who was filmed while being harassed by some 100 people claiming to be members of the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI).

Rizieq, the FPI's leader, has been named suspect in a pornography case and been placed on the police's most-wanted list after failing to answer two police summonses.

Damar added that victims could call or send a text message to the crisis center hotline at 081286938292. They could also send an email to [email protected], he went on to say.

The coalition indicated that persecution was being carried out systematically. "There could be six cases in separate areas of the country in one day," he added. (kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/02/coalition-forms-anti-persecution-crisis-center.html

'They're looking for weak targets': Victim of mob justice speaks out

Jakarta Globe - June 2, 2017

Jakarta – Fiera Lovita, a medical doctor in Solok, West Sumatra, who suffered threats and intimidation after she criticized an Islamic cleric on Facebook, said the group who forced her to sign a letter of apology and flee Solok for Jakarta is looking for more weak targets to bully and persecute.

"They're looking for weak targets. They won't attack men. The intimidation against me was very well planned," Fiera said during a press conference at the office of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) in Central Jakarta on Thursday (01/06).

A group of people allegedly from the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) in Solok had forced Fiera to sign a letter of apology for her posts on Facebook – which reportedly criticized firebrand FPI cleric Rizieq Shihab for fleeing the country after being charged with a pornography case – and upload the letter on her Facebook account on May 22.

"If you're not guilty, why avoid [police summons]? Don't you have 300 lawyers and 7 million followers ready to defend you? Please don't run away," the mother of two apparently said about Rizieq in three separate Facebook posts on May 19-21, as she explained at the YLBHI press conference accompanied by Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) activist Damar Juniarto, head of YLBHI Asfinawati and Anti-Defamation Society of Indonesia (Mafindo) coordinator Astari Yanuarti.

The Facebook posts led first to online threats from members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Defenders of Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwas (GNPF-MUI) and the Front of Islamic Advocates (FMPI) in West Sumatra. The groups are known as loyal supporters of Rizieq.

"Fanaticism has blinded these people. You [Rizieq] have fled overseas after being charged with something that is [also] forbidden in Islam, [and yet] your supporters still admire and try to protect you," Fiera said.

"Your followers are in denial that your indecency has been exposed. And now you don't dare to face police investigation," she added.

Fiera said the groups who disagreed with her Facebook posts had shared them accompanied by hateful comments to turn the public against her, accusing her of insulting Islam and Muslim clerics. "They threatened to kill me, called me a slut, called me a communist," Fiera said.

Fiera said she received scant support from her colleagues at the Solok General Hospital or from her own community and left the city to seek protection in Jakarta earlier this week.

"I decided to get out of Solok. I have no other choice. No one will protect me there, and I don't feel comfortable working at the hospital anymore," she said, adding that the pressure on her comes almost non-stop and seems to be well-organized.

Prominent lawyer and rights advocate Todung Mulya Lubis said he will take on the mantle as Fiera's defense counsel. "I will defend Fiera from intimidation and persecution," Todung said on Monday (29/05), as quoted by Beritasatu.com.

Cases of mob justice have come to the surface in Indonesia in the past couple of weeks, the latest of which on May 28 involved FPI members storming the house of a 15-year-old student in East Jakarta who they also accused of insulting their leader Rizieq on Facebook.

The student, Putra Mario Alvian Alexander, like Fiera was threatened with physical violence and forced to sign a letter of apology. A video of the incident was uploaded to Facebook and quickly went viral.

This time, the police got involved and have since arrested two men who were part of the mob seen on the video.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/they-are-looking-for-weak-targets-victim-of-persecution/

Video shows 15-year-old boy harassed for allegedly insulting FPI leader

Jakarta Post - June 1, 2017

Jakarta – A viral video showing a 15-year-old boy being intimidated and harassed by a group of people claiming to be members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) for allegedly insulting their fugitive leader, Rizieq Shihab, has sparked concerns amid the ongoing online persecution of the cleric's critics.

In the video, a group of people can be seen coercing the boy, who is of Chinese descent, to sign a statement of apology for slandering Rizieq, who was recently named a suspect in a pornography case.

The boy's hands were shaking when he was holding the paper. "You better tell your friends of your ethnicity to never do it again, so this will not happen again," one of the men said in the video.

The man tells the teenager that Rizieq is respected not only by FPI members but also by the whole Muslim community. Another man is later seen slapping the boy's mouth two times.

Damar Juniarto, the regional coordinator for the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network, said the incident took place in East Jakarta and was clearly part of a growing trend of persecution of social media users by the hard-line Islamist group.

FPI spokesman Slamet Maarif said he was not aware of the incident, adding that the FPI leadership had ordered group members to report those who insulted Islam and Muslim clerics to the police.

The East Jakarta Police said they are now investigating the video. (rdi/dis/ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/01/video-shows-15-year-old-boy-harassed-for-allegedly-insulting-fpi-leader.html

Jokowi inaugurates chief, advisors of Pancasila working unit

Jakarta Post - June 7, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Wednesday inaugurated moderate Muslim scholar Yudi Latief as the chief of the newly established presidential working unit for the implementation of Pancasila as the state ideology.

Yudi will be supported by nine advisors, who also took their oath of office on the same day at the Presidential Palace.

The nine advisors include Jokowi's patron Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, retired Indonesian Military (TNI) general and former vice president Try Sutrisno and former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud M.D.

Other members of the unit's advisory board comprise leaders of interfaith organizations. They are Muslim intellectual, pluralism activist and former Muhammadiyah chairman Syafi'i Ma'arif, Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Ma'ruf Amin, Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) chairman Andreas Anangguru Yewangoe, Indonesia Hindu Religious Councils (PHDI) chairman Wisnu Bawa Tenaya and Buddhayana Indonesia Assembly (MBI) chairman Sudhamek.

Former Muhammadiyah chairman Sirajuddin "Din" Syamsuddin was initially on the list of figures to be inaugurated as advisors on Wednesday, but he was later replaced by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) chairman Said Aqil Siroj.

The reasons behind Din's replacement remain unclear. The Presidential Palace has not yet issued an official statement on the matter. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/07/jokowi-inaugurates-chief-advisors-of-pancasila-working-unit.html

Pancasila should become subject at school: Association

Jakarta Post - June 3, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesian Teachers Association (PGRI) head Unifah Rasyidi has suggested that Indonesia's state ideology of Pancasila become its own subject at school. Currently, the teaching of Pancasila is fused with civic education in a subject called Pancasila and Civic Education (PPKN).

"Nowadays, we've seen the understanding of values of Pancasila as our state ideology begin to fade at schools. Instead, ideologies containing radicalism and intolerance have begun to spread in our educational institutions," said Unifah as quoted by Antara in Jakarta on Thursday.

She further said taking out Pancasila from PPKN was crucial because the latter taught students only about state affairs, with Pancasila no longer used as a reference for shaping behavior.

Unifah said the nation needed to reevaluate how it approached spreading the values of Pancasila and that student activities, including the Indonesian Scout Movement (Pramuka) and official student organization OSIS, should adopt wawasan kebangsaan [archipelagic outlook].

"More importantly, Pancasila must be practiced in daily life," said Unifah, pointing out that flag-hoisting ceremonies were no longer mandatory at schools. "As of today, I have not yet seen proper teaching methods of Pancasila values."

She called on the Education and Culture Ministry and the Religious Affairs Ministry to conduct a study to asses how Pancasila is taught. (rdi/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/03/pancasila-should-become-subject-at-school-association.html

Pledges for Pancasila renewed as bigotry haunts nation

Jakarta Post - June 1, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The government's decision to make Pancasila Day, which falls every June 1, a national holiday could not be more appropriate.

With intolerance rising and the call for the creation of a global Islamic caliphate gaining traction even at the nation's state universities, those who believe the state ideology – formulated by the nation's founding fathers in 1945 – can no longer stay silent and have begun to stand up for it.

Pancasila, proposed by first president Sukarno as the national consensus that could unify millions of Indonesians regardless of their beliefs and ideologies, is essentially the belief in one God, humanity, unity, consensus and social justice. It is then simply understood as an ideology of tolerance.

For many, Pancasila is the final consensus and further debate over its compatibility is unnecessary.

Seasoned lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, for instance, said he and his fellow advocates would take part in the effort to protect the nation's unity by promoting Pancasila. "Pancasila is our ultimate solution. There should be no compromise when it comes to Pancasila," he said recently.

On Monday, hundreds of lawyers grouped under the Indonesian Advocates Association (Peradi) pledged their support for Pancasila, which literally means five principles. As professionals, the lawyers said they bore the responsibility to protect the national ideology.

"There are some groups who try to disturb the national ideology of Pancasila. They want to mess around with our diversity," Peradi chairman Juniver Girsang.

Lawyers are not the only profession feeling the need to renew their pledge of support for Pancasila.

A group of Anthropologists calling themselves Anthropologist Movement for Indonesia has expressed to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo that Indonesia's diversity is at risk, as people who do not share Pancasila values are now becoming more assertive and dominant.

"Our unity in diversity is under threat. We are concerned about this situation and we want the President to know. We, anthropologists, believe that Indonesia should be a pluralist nation that respects all people no matter their religion, ethnicity and political views," the group's spokesman, Yando Zakaria, said in a meeting with Jokowi at the State Palace on the same day.

Among the anthropologists attending the meeting were Meutia F. Sarwono, P.M Laksono, Amri Marzali, Iwan Meulia Pirous and Kartini Sjahrir.

"We have discussed the current situation in Indonesia in the past few months and we have come to the conclusion that Indonesia is under the threat of rising intolerance," Yando added.

The leader of Muhammadiyah's youth wing, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, concurred with the professionals. "This is not the time to challenge and contradict Pancasila. Indonesia has agreed to make Pancasila a symbol of the country's diversity. No group should feel more superior to others," he said. The anthropologists have called on Jokowi to act fast and tough on intolerant groups.

The President has said he will gebuk (clobber) intolerant groups who seek to replace or act against Pancasila values and the Constitution. The term gebuk, analysts said, showed that Jokowi had taken the threat against Pancasila seriously. However, critics said Jokowi's choice of word could bring the specter of authoritarianism back to the country.

During the Pancasila Day ceremony on Thursday, Jokowi emphasized that the country had no option but to realize that Pancasila was a gift God had given and all people must maintain unity and tolerance.

The internet – savvy President previously released a video blog titled I am Indonesia, I am Pancasila in his attempt to reach to millennials and remind them of the importance of safeguarding the national ideology. (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/01/pledges-for-pancasila-renewed-as-bigotry-haunts-nation.html

Social organisations & NGOs

Most Indonesians are opposed to Islamic State, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia:

Jakarta Globe - June 5, 2017

Jakarta – The majority of Indonesians oppose the Islamic State movement and Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, or HTI – the local chapter of an international Muslim organization seeking to establish a theocratic state comprising all Muslim countries – a national survey conducted by the Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting, or SMRC, revealed.

"Our survey has shown that nine out of 10 [or 89.3 percent of] Indonesians believe that IS a threat to Indonesia, and 92.9 percent said that IS should be expelled from the country," SMRC chairman Saiful Mujani said on Sunday (04/06), as quoted by BeritaSatu.com.

According to Saiful, the survey also revealed that many Indonesians are opposed to HTI's presence in the country.

From the 28.2 percent of respondents who had heard of HTI, 68.6 percent of them opposed the organization's missions. From the 75.4 percent of respondents aware of the government's move to ban the organization, 78.4 percent supported the decision.

The survey also attempted to understand what influenced the public's attitude towards IS and HTI. According to the survey, the respondent's said that their resistance to IS was mostly due to their sense of nationalism.

Respondent's said that political, legal and economic instability and tension were reasons that likely led people to having a more favorable attitude towards HTI.

"So if the public's [attitude is reflective of] the attitude of the majority, then IS, HTI and the likes are Indonesia's public enemy," Saiful said.

Asked about how proud they were to be an Indonesian citizen, 62.5 percent respondents said that they were very proud to be an Indonesian citizen and 36.5 percent said that they were somewhat proud. Those who said they were less than proud, or not proud to be an Indonesian, was 0.5 percent.

The survey also revealed that 9.2 percent of Indonesians think that the current system should be replaced by an Islamic caliphate. But 79.3 percent of respondents said that the current democratic system of government is what is best for Indonesia and the remaining 11.5 percent of respondents claimed not to know or chose not to answer.

The poll surveyed 1,500 respondents, who were randomly selected from across the country. SMRC said the results have a 2.7 percent margin of error and a trust level of 95 percent.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/most-indonesians-are-opposed-to-islamic-state-and-hizbut-tahrir-indonesia-survey/

Can Hizbut Tahrir really be dissolved?

Indonesia at Melbourne - June 2, 2017

Eryanto Nugroho – Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto set off a storm of both praise and condemnation when he announced on 8 May that the government would dissolve Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), a societal organisation (or ormas) that aims to establish a pan-Islamic caliphate.

Wiranto listed three reasons for the ban. First, HTI does not play a positive role in national development. Second, HTI's activities violate the aims, principles and characteristics of the Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution. And third, HTI's activities have caused community unrest that could threaten the safety and security in society, as well as endanger the unity of the country.

Some advocates of religious freedom and minority rights, including Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Chairman Said Aqil Siradj, have backed government efforts to disband the organisation, while many other rights activists and officials have condemned the move for restricting freedom of association and assembly. Others have said they face a dilemma between wanting to support firm enforcement of the law against an undemocratic and disruptive organisation, and fearing a return of political repression.

HTI's global affiliate, Hizb ut-Tahrir, was established in 1953 in Palestine. The Indonesian organisation was founded in the early 1980s in Bogor. For many years, HTI operated by supporting campus-based religious study. Although it is anti-democratic, it is non-violent. It maintains a strong presence on Indonesian campuses and has become increasingly visible in the democratic era. In 2007 and 2013, it attracted tens of thousands of people to massive rallies at the Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta to support the establishment of a caliphate.

It is unclear why the government has targeted HTI and not other organisations like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) or the Islamic Community Forum (FUI). HTI has been present in Indonesia for many years, and no previous government has issued such a clear objection or strong warning. Some have suggested the government's move to ban the organisation is motivated more by political objectives, especially approaching the 2019 elections, than law enforcement.

It is also important to note that there has recently been significant tension between GP Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and HTI. The leadership of GP Ansor has openly urged the government to dissolve HTI. In April in Makassar, there were even physical clashes between GP Ansor and HTI members. If this continues, then the government will have further justification for using its third reason to move forward with a ban.

It is not hard to understand the perspectives of both those who support and those who reject plans to disband the organisation. For supporters, it is a sign that the government is finally taking a decisive response, after years of vacillation. For opponents, it is just another reason to be apprehensive about the shrinking space for freedom of expression in contemporary Indonesia.

Many have also questioned the effectiveness of disbanding the organisation. A banned organisation can just as easily set up a new entity with a different name. Many supporters of the ban recognise this, too, but consider it a necessary political gesture, to demonstrate that the government is willing to take action.

A new legal avenue

One thing that is clear is that the process for disbanding organisations is not as easy as it was in the past. Law No. 17 of 2013 on Societal Organisations (the Ormas Law) regulates the steps that must be taken before an organisation can be banned, including issuing warning letters and suspending activities. For formal legal entities, the dissolution of the organisation is decided in the courtroom. This legal phase is important to prevent arbitrary decisions by authorities and to protect freedom of association and expression.

A few days before the press conference, Wiranto complained that the legal process was "too difficult, complicated and long" compared to the process under the New Order. He complained that it could take at least four years to ban an organisation if the government followed the procedures in the Ormas Law. The government is apparently now considering issuing a government regulation in lieu of law (perppu) to override the law. Issuing a perppu is a problematic action in itself. As the power to issue perppu is a presidential prerogative, they are vulnerable to being issued in an undemocratic and arbitrary manner. They should only be issued in the event of a pressing emergency.

Despite Wiranto's grievances, taking HTI to trial is a much better option than the one-sided decision making of the past. The government seems to have jumped straight in and announced a ban without undertaking the required pre-conditions to get there. Courts are not likely to accept an application to ban an organisation if administrative sanctions have not been first applied. This is clearly stated in Article 70(4) of the Ormas Law.

Whatever happens, HTI is likely to fare better than organisations like the Indonesian Muslim Students Association (PII) or Marhaen Youth Movement (GPM) under the New Order. On 10 December 1987, the government banned the activities of both organisations. They were accused of violating the 1985 Societal Organisations Law for not adopting the Pancasila as their founding principle. This decision was made unilaterally by the minister of home affairs at the time, Soepardjo Rustam, and PII and GPM were given no opportunity to defend themselves.

The process is vastly different in the democratic era. If the government goes ahead with its plans to ban HTI, prosecutors will submit a request to the courts and HTI will then be provided with the right to defend itself in court (this is outlined under Article 70(7)).

Prosecuting acts, not thoughts

Freedom of association and assembly is guaranteed in the Constitution, under Articles 28 and 28E. It is, however, a derogable right – a right that can be limited under certain circumstances. A court hearing on disbanding HTI will no doubt devolve into a tug of war between those arguing for more or less restrictions on freedom of association.

Hizb ut-Tahrir has been banned in many Muslim-majority countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, as well as in China, Germany and Russia. It remains legal in Australia and the United Kingdom. The government (and the Prosecutor's Office in particular) must carefully study the arguments these countries have made for and against bans, before it submits its application to the courts. The government must also remember that it has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which defines acceptable limitations on freedom of association.

Article 22 of the ICCPR states that freedom of association may only be restricted if these restrictions are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

If HTI is to be banned, the government must be able to prove that HTI has violated provisions in the Ormas Law. Article 59 of the Ormas Law prohibits: using the name, symbol or flag with similarities to a separatist or banned organisation; hostile acts toward an ethnic, religious, racial or societal group; separatist activities that could threaten the unity of the country; violence and disturbing public order; damaging public facilities; and embracing or promoting teachings or understandings that are contrary to the Pancasila (further described in the elucidation to the law as atheism, communism, and Marxism-Leninism). It is therefore debatable whether the government has grounds to ban the organisation. Victory in the courtroom is by no means guaranteed.

If the government does submit an application to ban HTI, hopefully this will prompt thorough and careful debate. The courts must also work independently and impartially. The role of the courts is not to judge the extent to which HTI complies with Pancasila. Their role is simply to decide whether HTI has engaged in activities that mean it should be banned.

Whatever the outcome, it is only acts, not thoughts and concepts that should be prosecuted.

[A version of this article was originally published in Bahasa Indonesia on Hukumonline.com. It has been translated into English, revised, and updated. Eryanto Nugroho is a researcher at the Indonesian Centre for Law and Policy Studies (PSHK), and a lecturer at the Indonesia Jentera School of Law (STH Indonesia Jentera).]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/can-hizbut-tahrir-really-be-dissolved/

Internet & social media

We will consider blocking Facebook if they don't regulate content:

Jakarta Globe - June 6, 2017

Jakarta – Minister of Communications and Information Technology Rudiantara said that his ministry would consider blocking popular social media providers such as Facebook if they do not work with the ministry to regulate certain content that the ministry deems negative.

The minister said that the rise of negative content on social media has perpetuated hostility and caused a divide among Indonesians. He added that Facebook would not be the only social media provider that he would consider blocking, but the sanction could also to applied on other social media providers that do not comply with the ministry's wishes to regulate their content.

"I would not only limit the access of the accounts, but I also could block the social media service providers. We would like to ask popular social media service providers to partner with us to provide better services. In fact, Facebook recently blocked Afi's account, which was supposed to be blocked," Rudiantara said in Jakarta on Monday (05/06).

Rudiantara was referring to Afi Nihaya Faradisa, whose essays have continued to attract many readers on various social media platforms. Afi wrote about the role of national and religious identity in her latest post, "Warisan," ("Legacy") on her Facebook account.

However, this was the only specific example Rudiantara had given as to what he meant by "negative content."

Rudiantara said that he will ask the director general of applied information technology at the ministry, Samuel Pangerapan, to visit Facebook's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore on Wednesday to discuss ways to address the issue.

"Actually, it is not our goal to block social media service providers. We are aware that social media has many positive [attributes and can have a positive impact]. We would just like cooperation [from social media operators] in addressing negative content – for the sake of preserving the nation's unity," the minister said.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) recently issued a fatwa regarding the law and guidance of behaviour on social media.

Chairman of the MUI, Ma'ruf Amin said that the fatwa was issued to address their concerns regarding the content on social media that include hate speech, fake news, pornography and content that spread hostility.

"This fatwa was established due to address our concerns on the rise of negative social media content. With this fatwa, we hope that people would be wiser in using social media," Ma'ruf said in Jakarta on Monday.

He added that the issuance of the fatwa is not meant to prohibit people from using social media, but only to serve as a guideline on how to use social media.

"Freedom on social media is now overrun, so it should be controlled, [people need to be] re-educated and [social media should be] reorganized, we want the public to straighten out their way of thinking, speaking and acting," Ma'ruf said.

"The fatwa said that every Muslim who interacts on social media should seek to increase their faith and piety, not to encourage kafir [disbelievers] and disobedience, strengthen brotherhood and strengthen harmony," Ma'ruf explained.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/we-will-consider-blocking-facebook-if-they-dont-regulate-content-minister/

Health & education

Indonesia tobacco bill would open tap for ads aimed at kids, health

Reuters - June 1, 2017

Eveline Danubrata and Stefanno Reinard, Jakarta – A proposed Indonesian tobacco law will roll back regulations to discourage smoking in a country that already has one of the highest smoking rates in the world and open the floodgates to advertising aimed at teenagers, a health ministry official said.

If the bill initiated by the parliament is passed, companies will no longer have to put grim pictures on cigarette packs of lung cancer or other diseases linked to smoking, said Mohammad Subuh, director-general of disease prevention and control at the health ministry.

Under existing regulations, 40 percent of the front and back of a cigarette pack must contain a "health warning" in the form of pictures and text.

Under the tobacco bill, reviewed by Reuters, cigarette packs would not be required to have a specific portion dedicated to health-related pictures. Cigarette businesses that put up advertisements, either in electronic, printed or outdoor media, do have to include a health warning that is "written with clear alphabets, easily read and proportionate."

School and playground areas would be designated as "no- cigarette-smoke zones" instead of "no-cigarette zones", which would allow cigarettes to be sold or displayed there, Subuh said.

"Indonesia is the most liberal country for the tobacco industry," said Subuh, who oversees the health ministry's tobacco control efforts.

"Let's not open again the opportunities for the industry to lure teenagers to party with cigarettes. It's like jumping from a helicopter without a parachute," he said in an interview.

Output increase

Last year, 54.8 percent of males between 15 and 19 years old were smokers in Indonesia, more than double the percentage of smokers in 2001, according to the health ministry. The price of a pack of cigarettes in Indonesia can be less than $2.

A shocking video of a toddler reportedly puffing up to 40 cigarettes a day on the island of Sumatra went viral around seven years ago, firing up anti-tobacco activists who said it underscored the problem of underage smoking in Indonesia.

"Indonesia is terrifying because it has among the most baby smokers in the world. From elementary school until high school, the smoking rate is also one of the highest," the health ministry's Subuh said.

Indonesia is the only country in the Asia-Pacific region that has yet to ratify or be a party to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which seeks to protect against the harmful consequences of smoking.

The tobacco bill mainly aims to sharply increase cigarette output in Indonesia, already the world's fourth-biggest producer, at a time when other Asian countries are taking measures to curb smoking.

Proponents of the bill say it would safeguard a vital economic sector that employs millions of people and contributes nearly 10 percent of state revenues.

"We don't mind some regulations, as long as they are not excessive," said Abdus Setiawan, a board member at the Indonesia Tobacco Growers' Association. Setiawan said he already considers emblazoning cigarette packs with the message that "smoking kills" to be "excessive."

To become law in Indonesia, the tobacco bill has to be agreed between the government and the parliament. President Joko Widodo agreed in March to start discussions on the bill with the parliament, but it is unclear when the president will make a decision.

$17 billion industry

Indonesia, a country of 250 million and the biggest economy in Southeast Asia, is attractive for major cigarette companies at a time when growth is slowing in more developed markets.

Indonesia produced 269.2 billion cigarettes in 2015, while the total market was valued at 231.3 trillion rupiah ($17.3 billion), according to research firm Euromonitor International.

Philip Morris International Inc and British American Tobacco PLC have controlling stakes in local cigarette makers PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna Tbk and PT Bentoel Internasional Investama Tbk, respectively.

Other major domestic players include PT Gudang Garam Tbk and privately held Djarum Group.

Regulations for the industry have been poorly enforced and some companies target young Indonesians with new products such as fruit-flavored cigarettes or clever advertising, activists say.

"A lot of advertisements here send the message that if you don't smoke, you're not macho, you're not cool," Muhammad Khanavi, a 14-year-old student, said on the sidelines of an anti-smoking event to mark World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday.

(Editing by Ed Davies and Bill Tarrant)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-tobacco-idUSKBN18S47O

LBGT & same-sex marriage

HRC joins coalition denouncing Indonesia's LGBTQ persecution

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Blog - June 6, 2017

HRC recently joined a coalition of international organizations and individuals to denounce the growing persecution of LGBTQ people in Indonesia.

More than two dozen groups and individuals joined the coalition to appeal to the people of Indonesia and supporters around the world to speak out against the increasing attacks on LGBTQ people in Indonesia and to stand up to protect their rights, safety and health.

The coalition statement follows last month's arrests of almost 150 men during a raid in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta and caning of two gay men in the Indonesian province of Aceh as well as last year's verbal attacks from top government officials, state institutions and extremists.

Read the full coalition statement below and at APCOM.org, a coalition of governments, United Nations partners, non-profits and community based organisations from Asia and the Pacific.

We appeal to the people of Indonesia and our friends and supporters around the world to help protect the rights and health of all Indonesian citizens by supporting efforts to end the growing mistreatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Indonesia.

Our appeal follows several cases of human rights and privacy abuses over the last two months against over 150 men who have been unjustly detained, arrested and/or charged – and in two cases severely punished – simply because they allegedly had sex with other men or facilitated men to have sex with other men. The cases we refer to involve the caning of two young men in Aceh as well as two recent police raids, one at a hotel in Surabaya and another at a leisure establishment in Jakarta.

Our appeal also follows an anti-LGBT campaign over the last 12 months by government officials and conservative community groups in Indonesia which encourages this kind of violence, harassment and state-sponsored discrimination against LGBT people across Indonesia.

Firstly, the mistreatment of the men involves violations of natural justice, privacy and human rights not only in relation to the alleged sexual activity, but also in relation to forced HIV testing and the subsequent dissemination of test results to local media. These violations contravene not only many Indonesian laws but also Indonesia's commitment to a range of international legal frameworks protecting the rights of individuals as well as members of cultural minorities.

Secondly, these violations threaten the privacy and human rights of all Indonesians. If local police are permitted to target one group of people in this way, then other individuals and groups in Indonesia are also potentially at risk of the same kind of treatment. If the law does not protect everyone, then ultimately it protects no one.

Thirdly, this campaign of persecution is also affecting the provision of HIV prevention, testing and treatment services to gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM). Fear of being targeted by police, other authorities and even neighbours is driving gay and MSM communities underground, making it much harder to deliver information and support to an already vulnerable group of people. This is a public health issue that should concern all Indonesians due to the growing impact that HIV is having on Indonesia's health system.

Further to this, we note that the Indonesia Health Law (UU No 39 Year 2009) guarantees that implementation of health services shall be carried out with responsibility, safety and quality, and distributed evenly and non-discriminatively to all Indonesian people. In addition, the Indonesian government has a stated plan to cover the whole population with Universal Health Coverage (Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional) by 2019 with the following objectives as stated by Indonesia's Minister of Health on 28/08/14:

Finally, responding to the plight of others with empathy and benevolence is an essential part of our common humanity. Imagine being subjected to the trauma and humiliation these men have endured, or the discrimination and exclusion that Indonesia's LGBT community is experiencing, simply for expressing love or a gender identity.

The unwarranted treatment of these men, and the increasingly virulent campaign against Indonesia's LGBT community, seeks to position LGBT people as 'outsiders' and a 'threat to society'. However, LGBT people are just like everyone else – everyday people and fellow citizens who work hard to create a better life for themselves, their families and their community. As such we appeal to the people of Indonesia and our supporters across the world to join our efforts to ensure these men and all LGBT Indonesians are afforded the legal rights and health services to which they are entitled as citizens, and the compassion and dignity to which they are entitled as human beings.

Read the full coalition statement: https://apcom.org/2017/06/06/international-coalition-calls-public-support-end-increasing-persecution-lgbt-people-indonesia/

Source: http://www.hrc.org/blog/hrc-joins-coalition-denouncing-indonesias-lgbtq-persecution

Indonesia's LGBT police raids promoting 'anti-gay hysteria' –

Asian Correspondent - June 2, 2017

Human Rights Watch has issued a letter to the chief of Indonesia's national police General Tito Karnavian urging him to end the targeting of sexual minorities, which it says is creating "anti-gay hysteria."

A number of high-profile raids have occurred in recent months, including a "gay party" in Surabaya and a men-only spa in Jakarta leading to the arrest of 141 people. HRW called upon Tito to immediately investigate the raids, which were conducted but local police departments.

"Indonesia's police raids against LGBT people are part of a disturbing pattern of rights abuses that strike fear into already-marginalised communities," said HRW's Asia director Brad Adams.

Men arrested in Surabaya on April 30 were allegedly forced to take HIV tests without their consent. Those arrested during the Atlantis Spa raid in Jakarta were paraded half-naked in front of the media, and HRW alleges police interrogated them whilst unclothed.

"The police's use of a discriminatory so-called anti-pornography law as a pretext to raid private gatherings exposes the crude bigotry of their actions," said Adams.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Indonesia, however LGBT communities have been increasingly targeted by public officials since early 2016. People arrested during raids have been charged under Indonesia's controversial anti-pornography law.

"The national police need to stop these raids to restore public confidence that the police will do their duty to protect all Indonesians."

Last October, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo declared that "there should be no discrimination against anyone," urging the police to act against anti-LGBT groups or individuals seeking to violate their rights.

Adams added that "President Jokowi put the police on notice about protecting LGBT people. Now he needs to make sure they act on it."

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/06/indonesias-lgbt-police-raids-promoting-anti-gay-hysteria-watchdog/

Why are LGBT Indonesians under siege?

Asian Correspondent - June 2, 2017

Max Walden – Three policemen were killed last week in Jakarta by suicide bombers linked to the Islamic State terrorist group.

The very next day, West Java police announced the establishment of an anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) taskforce. It was not until two days later did West Java police arrest three suspects linked to the bombings.

Many questioned the admittedly bizarre priorities at a time when one watchdog declared Indonesian jihadis were declaring war on the nation's security forces.

Indonesia's LGBT community has long been marginalised albeit tolerated, however since early last year has come increasingly under pressure from authorities – beginning with hateful comments by public officials and quickly evolving into concrete criminalisation of homosexual acts.

Aceh implemented corporal punishment against two young men for being gay for the first time last month, as stipulated in the conservative, semi-autonomous province's 2015 anti-homosexuality law.

Elsewhere in the country, raids against gay events by police are becoming increasingly commonplace. So why is this happening now, and can it be stopped?

The raid on Atlantis

Jakarta police raided a gay spa named Atlantis in an upmarket part of North Jakarta two weekends back, arresting and publicly parading more than one hundred half-naked men in an act of public humiliation.

It had operated for four years and was undoubtedly known about by authorities. One source that used to live in the area told Asian Correspondent that Atlantis was "close with the other 'massage' XXX places."

A simple Google search for Atlantis Spa shows it was openly advertised as a gay-friendly venue, including a post on the website Travel Gay Asia, which describes the place as a "relatively new men-only Atlantis Sauna... located in one of the trendiest areas in Jakarta."

While raids on "gay parties" have happened before, the raid on Atlantis was unprecedented in its scale.

The men arrested will have been charged under the nation's strict anti-pornography laws, which have also embroiled the leader of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) Rizieq Shihab in a scandal involving the exchange of explicit photos with a woman who is not his wife.

Some therefore speculate that the timing of the raid was calculated to show even-handedness on the part of the authorities.

Ricky Gunawan, the Director of the Jakarta-based Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat) who are defending some of those detained after the raid, told Asian Correspondent that the problem is not with the actions of the accused but with Indonesia's anti-pornography law itself.

"It is problematic because it contains loose definitions and is prone to subjective interpretations on the part of law enforcement agencies," he said. "This could be harmful to some people, especially vulnerable LGBT communities."

The state replaces vigilantes

A Pew poll from 2013 showed that a staggering 93 percent of Indonesians think that homosexuality should be rejected. Nevertheless, it has never been illegal.

Waria – the Indonesian term for transgender as a blend of wanita (woman) and pria (man) – have long been tolerated and even venerated in some Indonesian communities.

As Ayunda Nurvitasari pointed out in The Magdalene last week, several ethnic groups in Sulawesi had for centuries recognised a third gender. The Toraja people historically revered and placed religious significance on transgender people who often led ceremonies and rituals.

The spread of Islamic orthodoxy has undoubtedly played a role in shifting cultural attitudes against LGBT people. In recent years, the FPI and similar hardline Islamic groups have conducted vigilante activities against Indonesia's minorities, including those with alternative sexualities.

The FPI's Rizieq has regularly attacked waria, during one sermon pronouncing to his audience: "If you see your son or grandson play with dolls, burn the dolls and give them fake machetes to play with, so they can grow up to be men and not trannies."

Yet since early 2016, public officials and the police have begun leading the crackdown themselves. The Indonesian defence minister Ryamizard Ryacudu last year claimed the LGBT was "a kind of modern warfare" by proxy more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

Ultranationalists and ultraconservative Muslims alike perpetuate this notion that LGBT is a foreign, liberal agenda promoted to undermine the Indonesian nation and its interests.

Dr Intan Paramaditha, a renowned novelist and Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, told Asian Correspondent in an interview that "political solidarity is strengthened by targeting LGBT."

Now, at a time when Jakarta's Christian, ethnic-Chinese governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was battered at the ballot box and subsequently jailed for comments he made regarding the Quran, causing ethnoreligious tension and seen as a challenge to Indonesia's pluralistic democracy – clamping down on a marginal minority may be a politically safe way of asserting unity and order.

"Perhaps the government is trying to send a message that they are invested in the same things as conservative groups," said Intan.

Criminalising homosexuality

Legal crackdowns against the LGBT community have ranged from the somewhat petty – banning same-sex emojis on social media apps, to the violent – Aceh's whipping of homosexuals.

Most importantly, people detained after a series of recent "gay party" raids in Indonesia have been charged under the nation's 2008 anti-pornography law.

But Gunawan says, "In our view what they have done within the club is not a violation of the law," and that the laws are being used to attack privacy rights.

"If it involves human trafficking, coercion, violence, underage persons [then criminal prosecution is necessary], but these are all consenting adults."

Nevertheless, a Bill introduced to Indonesia's notoriously conservative Constitutional Court by a group calling itself the Love and Family Alliance (AILA) aims to explicitly make-extra marital sex and homosexuality criminal by redefining adultery and sodomy in the penal code.

Unlike the thuggish FPI, AILA aims to impose its will through politics and the courts. Intan says even through Indonesia's highest court is yet to make judgement on the case, authorities are already acting as if it is law.

"The consequences are really bad because it really sends a message to ordinary people that this is normalised – that injustice is normalised, that its normal to see LGBT people as criminals."

Is there hope for the LGBT community?

Post-Suharto Indonesia is an unfinished project. According to Intan, pushes by conservative groups reflect that there are contested views on how the nation should be defined.

There are also "interesting new voices", including gay and women's activists who are very vocal in these debates. She says: "people that refuse the idea that Indonesia is intolerant will keep fighting."

An activist who didn't want to be named told Asian Correspondent that rights advocates need to focus on working behind the scenes with the government to push for desperately-needed services, rather than merely protesting and issuing public statements.

There are "lot of incongruities between what [the government] officially stated, and what they are doing behind the backdoor," providing an opportunity for change. "Don't always marah-marah (be angry)," they said.

But treatment of homosexuals as de facto criminals in cases like Atlantis suggests that AILA and conservative Muslims have "already won" on this issue despite not having their Bill passed into law, said Intan.

Several iconic gay clubs and spas in Jakarta continue to operate freely, but Gunawan is not optimistic about their future security. "I don't think this will be the last one. There will be more raids."

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/06/lgbt-indonesians-siege/

'Never seen anything like this': Inside Indonesia's LGBT crackdown

CNN - June 1, 2017

Ben Westcott, CNN – In less than 18 months, being gay in Indonesia has gone from widely tolerated to just plain dangerous.

An unprecedented wave of police raids, vigilante attacks, and calls for the criminalization of homosexual sex have left many in the country's LGBT community fearing for their safety.

"(Gay Indonesians) are exhausted and they're horrified," Kyle Knight, a Human Rights Watch researcher with the LGBT rights program, told CNN. "Even the activists I know who started the very first organizations in the 1980s say they've never seen anything like this."

It's a dark turn for a country that for decades prided itself on its diverse, heterogeneous society. The world's largest Muslim democracy, Indonesia is often considered something of a bulwark of tolerance amid growing conservatism elsewhere in the Islamic world.

But that perception is now shifting, amid increasing verbal attacks on minority groups and the growing implementation of Islamic bylaws by regional governments.

In less than two weeks, two young men were seized by vigilantes who burst into their home in Aceh province, then taken to authorities who caned them for having homosexual sex.

In a separate incident, later in the month, attendees at an alleged gay party in a Jakarta sauna were arrested and images of their faces were disseminated online by Indonesian police.

Homosexual sex is not illegal in the majority of Indonesia, except in the extremely conservative province of Aceh. Jakarta is not part of any province; it is controlled by the central government.

One week ago, West Java Police Chief Anton Charliyan announced that he would create a special taskforce to crack down on LGBT people. "They will face the law and heavy social sanctions. They will not be accepted by society," he said.

Homosexuality tolerated, not accepted

It wasn't always this way. Despite being a Muslim-majority country, only small parts of Indonesia – such as Aceh province – follow strict Islamic law. Same-sex relations have never been illegal either, even if a 2013 Pew survey found that 93% of the country refused to accept homosexuality.

Jonta Saragih a former LGBT activist from Sumatra, now studying in the UK, said while his family weren't quick to accept him when he came out, Indonesians used to have a live and let live attitude to their country's LGBT population.

"[Even] a few years ago, when I was in Jakarta, though homosexuality was not recognized by the law, there was no one talking about it," he told CNN.

Indonesian human rights activist Tunggal Pawestri corroborates this notion that homosexuality was previously frowned upon but tolerated. "Since my childhood I was told that LGBT people are sinful, being a homosexual is sinful but of course... it doesn't mean you have to criminalize them," she said.

So what changed?

Gay rights worse than 'nuclear war'

The problems began in early 2016, when a number of high-profile Indonesian politicians, including several government ministers, suddenly started to make unprompted attacks on Indonesia's LGBT community.

Among them was the Defense Minister, Ryamizard Ryacudu, who said Indonesia's LGBT movement was more dangerous than "a nuclear war."

"In a nuclear war, if a bomb is dropped over Jakarta, Semarang will not be affected – but (with LGBT rights) everything we know could disappear in an instant – it's dangerous," he said, according to the state Antara news agency.

Soon, the country's medical professionals joined in. The Indonesian Psychiatrists Association issued a statement in February saying people who were gay or bisexual had "psychiatric problems."

By August, a group of conservative activists had taken a case to the Constitutional Court to call for homosexual sex to be made illegal in Indonesia.

Knight said it's hard to tell why the sudden wave of anti-LGBT feeling swelled up across the country, but where it was heading appeared much clearer.

"This is fueled not just by bigotry and misunderstanding but by public officials... I think that's the really scary thing as we go forward. It's fair game to go after LGBT people in Indonesia," he said.

More than a dozen gay dating apps, including Grindr, were banned in Indonesia in late 2016, Jonta said, making it harder for gay men and women to communicate with each other.

"(I have) some good friends... we started discussing these issues on social media, eventually some of them deleted me on Facebook. They said we are not friends anymore," Jonta said.

Conservative Islam is a growing political force in Indonesia. The arrest and later conviction of former Jakarta governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama in April this year, on charges of blasphemy, followed huge protests instigated by conservative groups.

Pawestri blamed vocally conservative politicians and an "irresponsible" media for the rise in anti-LGBT rhetoric. "Before LGBT Indonesians had quite a lot of confidence, now they're very careful and cry to me, calling me at night. We've been trying to do whatever we can to avoid (criminalization)," Pawestri said.

Criminalization might be closer than most would expect. Since August, a team of lawyers has been arguing in Indonesia's Constitutional Court, on behalf of 12 individuals, to change the criminal code.

Prosecution legal team spokesman, Feizal Syahmenan, told CNN they would like three articles changed in the criminal code – one to outlaw sex outside of marriage, one to outlaw homosexual rape and one to outlaw homosexual sex entirely.

Two of those 12 individuals are members of the AILA, the Family Love Alliance, a prominent conservative Islamic group. Syahmenan told CNN homosexuality is just not Indonesian.

"All of these three (laws) are totally wrong and against Indonesian norms and values," he said. "We're not trying to push for implementation of Sharia (Islamic) law."

If the Constitutional Court finds in favor of criminalization, it would still need to be passed by Indonesia's Parliament before it would take effect, but Knight said it would put huge public pressure on the country's politicians to follow through.

"There are some dark storm clouds on the horizon. If you read the transcripts on the hearings that have taken place since last August, you don't see (judges) pushback from the bench (on witnesses)... they ask more questions, 'tell us more about the evils of homosexuality'," he said. "It's ominous, it's very, very threatening."

Hearings concluded in February, with a verdict expected after June, according to Syahmenan.

Where is Joko Widodo?

One politician who has been mostly silent amid the ongoing discrimination against LGBT citizens in Indonesia has been Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

When he was elected in 2014, there was a huge sense of optimism around Widodo who was considered a "progressive force" for the nation. But amid the nationwide crackdown on LGBT people, the president has only spoken out once in their defense.

"There should be no discrimination against anyone," Widodo told the BBC in October 2016, adding "the police must act" against any attempts to harm LGBT people. But he then added that in Indonesia, "beliefs (generally) do not allow (LGBT), Islam does not allow it."

Human rights activist Pawestri said many gay Indonesians have been disappointed by Widodo's lackluster defense of their rights. "LGBT people realize that his silence means no protection from the government, and this is totally unjust," she said.

Even if Widodo wanted to help, Knight said it could cost him huge political capital, something he might be reluctant to spend ahead of his 2019 reelection campaign.

"(They) could really do a lot of good by coming out and issuing a statement of support... They're taking a very cowardly and silent stance, letting it go forward... Until someone puts a lid on this, it's going to keep unraveling," he said.

Battle for Indonesia's soul

Knight said nothing will change until those in authority stand up for the rights of gay citizens across Indonesia.

"We need some leadership here... Is there any chance [the crackdown] is going to stop? Of course, but it's going to take a constitutional court actually upholding the constitution, it's going to take members of the cabinet stepping out and saying, 'no this is not how we behave,' it's going to take the President," he said.

Syahmenan said the battle over the gay Indonesians' rights was about reaffirming "Indonesian norms and values," adding legal same-sex relations were a relic of colonial rule.

He said gay and lesbian people are a danger to the future of Indonesia. "Look at the children, they like to imitate or copy what the adults do. If they see free sex practices or LGBT, they may think that the practices are something fun and cool," he said.

Despite the current situation, Jonta still believes the future could be bright for Indonesia's LGBT citizens.

"I have this willingness to continue to fight for a better Indonesia. To fight for inclusiveness. Of course it will be more difficult for us to continue the work of human rights," he said.

"We are getting oppressed, even our social media and our websites... but I would say I'm still optimistic."

[CNN's Kathy Quiano and Rudy Madanir contributed to this story.]

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/31/asia/indonesia-lgbt-rights/index.html

Queer Indonesians are being arrested under a vague anti-porn law

Vice.com - June 1, 2017

Authorities are using the country's wide-reaching anti-pornography laws to prosecute gay men detained in a series of raids.

When United States Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart tried to rein in the courts' inconsistent definitions of obscenity and pornography, he famously skirted an attempt to provide a concrete definition of what's obscene and instead declared "I know it when I see it."

Today, 53 years later and some 10,000 miles away, the same battle is playing out in Indonesia in a very different way. The country decided to implement laws banning the possession, distribution, and production of pornography in 2008 after much heated debate. But Indonesian lawmakers also included provisions outlawing pornoaksi ("porn action," in English) in the bill, deciding to clamp down any "actions deemed indecent."

But how, critics asked, do you define indecency? The bill's pornoaksi clause opened the door to the prosecution of anything deemed indecent by officials, including, but not limited to, strip clubs, miniskirts, and traditional dances. Indonesian authorities seem to "know it when they see it," and "see it everywhere," too.

Especially when it comes to the country's increasingly persecuted LGBTQ community. In late May, Jakarta police raided a gay sauna in the neighborhood of Kelapa Gading, arresting 141 men and charging at least ten under the anti-pornography law. The reason? "There were gay people who were caught strip-teasing and masturbating on the scene," Jakarta police spokesman Raden Argo Yuwono told BBC Indonesia.

It was a similar story earlier in the month when police in Surabaya raided a so-called gay party being held in two hotel rooms. They arrested 14 men, charging eight with violation of the pornography law after officers caught the men engaging in "deviant sexual acts" and watching gay porn.

Local police told reporters that the raids were the first of their kind in the city, which has a population of 6.4 million people. "This is the first time we've enforced the law and arrested gay people in the city," Shinto Silitonga, Surabaya police's head of detectives, told Agence France-Presse.

The increasingly wide reach of the pornography law – especially in raids targeting the LGBTQ community – is raising concerns among legal experts and human rights groups about the state's creeping reach into private matters and closed-door activities between consenting adults.

"Indonesian police are again violating the basic rights of LGBT people by invading their privacy," Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said after one raid. "The Surabaya raid subjected these gay men to traumatic humiliation, puts two at risk of long prison terms, and threatens the privacy rights of all Indonesians."

Homosexuality is only illegal in Indonesia's conservative Aceh Province, where authorities are allowed to enforce their own version of Sharia law. Nationally, there are no laws criminalizing homosexuality, sodomy, or lesbian sex. Instead, authorities are using the pornography law to prosecute those detained in these raids – charging gay men with a penalty that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

"There's an effort to marginalize people, those with certain sexual orientations seen as deviant," Muhammad Isnur, the chairman of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation (YLBHI), said. "That's exactly what we're criticizing. Regarding the arrest of the homosexuals in Kelapa Gading, there's something odd about the arrest and the laws being used."

Amnesty International has urged the central government to re-address the long-standing concerns with the pornography law and put a stop to the raids of hotels, underground gay clubs, saunas, and private residences.

"The Indonesian government must revise its pornography laws so that they cannot be misused in this way," said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International's deputy director of campaigns. "Rather than peddling blatantly homophobic rhetoric, the authorities should focus [their] efforts on creating a safer, inclusive environment for the LGBT community in the long term."

The Constitutional Court ruled against efforts to overturn the bill in 2010, deciding that the definition of "pornography" as basically anything that was disseminated "through various mass media or public displays that can arouse sexual desires and/or violate public moral values" was clear enough.

The court's lone female judge, Maria Farida Indrati, offered the dissenting opinion, stating that "the law could lead to public judgments among the people because of different definitions of the term 'pornography.'"

A legal expert likened the pornography bill's unparalleled reach to that of a totalitarian state at the time of the Constitutional Court challenge. Airlangga University lecturer Jeoni Arianto argued that the law was "a clear attempt to standardize the moral values of our society. But one's morality depends on their values and culture, and therefore it's impossible to set a sweeping generalization when it comes to it."

It's a debate that continues today. The pornography bill is still vaguely worded and open to interpretation, making it ripe for misuse or overreach by authorities reacting to a rise in public pressure to crack down on certain individuals deemed a threat to the nation's morality.

Without a redrafting of the law or its outright repeal, these questions about the role of the state in private lives will, in all likelihood, continue to haunt the country, explained Asep Komarudin, head of the research division at the Jakarta Legal Aid Network (LBH).

"The pornography law still doesn't have a strict definition," Komarudin said. "Its implementation is also very subjective and susceptible of being misused. It's still up for debate today whether private lives should be subject to criminalization."

[This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.]

Source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/queer-indonesians-are-being-arrested-under-a-vague-anti-porn-law

Graft & corruption

More factions to send representatives to KPK inquiry team

Jakarta Post - June 7, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Two political factions at the House of Representatives are set to send representatives to sit on a special committee assigned to launch an inquiry against the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

The Gerindra Party and National Mandate Party (PAN) factions, which formerly opposed the inquiry plan, are reportedly preparing a list of lawmakers to appoint to the committee.

Gerindra has prepared four members, three of whom are members of the House's Commission III, which oversees human rights, security and legal affairs. They are Desmond Junaidi Mahesa, Muhammad Syafii and Wenny Warouw. Another lawmaker is Supratman Andi Agtas.

Meanwhile, PAN is finalizing a list of representatives it has taken from various House commissions. They include Daeng Muhammad of Commission III, Totok Daryanto of the House's Legislation Body (Baleg) and Yandri Susanto, secretary of the party's faction.

"We are still finalizing the list. But of course, we will join the committee," Yandri said on Tuesday.

He explained the latest change in PAN's stance toward the KPK inquiry plan. "We won't be able to say anything about the [inquiry] unless we participate in the process."

Five factions have supported the KPK inquiry initiative since the very beginning. They are the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Golkar Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the NasDem Party and the Hanura Party. The inquiry team is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Wednesday to select team leaders. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/07/more-factions-to-send-representatives-to-KPK-inquiry-team.html

'Graft-tainted factions' should not lead KPK inquiry team: PPP

Jakarta Post - June 6, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The United Development Party (PPP) has suggested that the inquiry team the House of Representatives (DPR) will set up to look into the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) should not be led by factions whose members are implicated in the e-ID graft case.

The PPP made the statement in response to the House's insistence on pushing ahead with its inquiry into the anti-graft body. An inquiry team usually consists of one chairman and three deputy chairmen.

The Hanura Party and the Golkar Party, two of five factions that have appointed representatives to the inquiry team, are reportedly ready to propose that their lawmakers lead the team. Members from both factions, however, have been alleged of playing major roles in the e-ID graft case.

The House's plan to exercise its right of inquiry into the KPK was launched following court testimony by Hanura Party politician Miryam S. Haryani, a suspect in the e-ID case now charged with perjury, that she had been intimidated by several lawmakers not to reveal her knowledge about the case.

Meanwhile, Golkar chairman and House Speaker Setya Novanto has been alleged by KPK prosecutors of receiving the largest cut of embezzled funds in the mega corruption scandal.

"No faction has yet proposed a candidate to lead the team. Maybe it would be better that the Gerindra Party faction leads it, because its lawmakers are unconnected to the case so far," said PPP secretary-general Arsul Sani, an inquiry team member.

"If a faction allegedly involved in the case is allowed to lead the team, this may, indeed, raise public uncertainty." (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/06/graft-tainted-factions-should-not-lead-KPK-inquiry-team-ppp.html

Amien Rais reneges on promise to explain alleged graft involvement

Jakarta Globe - June 6, 2017

Jakarta – Senior politician Amien Rais, one of the founders of the National Mandate Party, or PAN, failed to fulfill his promise to come to the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, headquarters on Monday (05/06) to explain his alleged involvement in a graft case related to the procurement of medical equipment by the Health Ministry in 2005.

On Friday, Amien, who led the last days of popular uprising against President Soeharto in 1998 and helped usher in the "Reformasi" era in Indonesia, held a press conference to announce he will come to the KPK headquarters in Jakarta on Monday to make statements regarding an alleged transfer of Rp 600 million ($45,200) into his bank account in 2007.

The case

KPK prosecutors said in a court hearing that the money was allegedly transferred by former health minister Siti Fadilah Supari – a suspect in the medical equipment graft case that allegedly caused Rp 6.1 billion in state losses.

Amien admitted receiving a Rp 600 million money transfer in 2007, but not from Siti Fadilah. He claimed the money was from former PAN chairman Soetrisno Bachir, a prominent businessman.

KPK prosecutors alleged state pharmaceutical company Indofarma won the bid for the procurement project as a result of the then minister's close relationship with PAN. Soetrisno's brother-in-law Nuki Syahrun was at that time a director of Indofarma Global Medika, a subsidiary of Indofarma.

Amien denied the money from Soetrisno was related to the graft case. He also told reporters on Friday he will use his audience with the KPK to report two other corruption cases involving high-profile figures in the country. He did not provide details about the cases or the individuals allegedly involved.

No show

But Amien reneged on his promise to turn up at KPK headquarters on Monday. In his place, Ansufri Sambo, the chairman of the "212" group – a campaign to encourage Muslims to rally against Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama during his blasphemy trial – showed up at the KPK's doorstep.

"We were sent here. We want to make sure first that if he [Amien Rais] comes, the KPK will see him. If not, then why? If [the KPK] isn't ready to see him, then when will they be [ready]?" Ansufri told reporters at the KPK headquarters in South Jakarta.

Ansufri was also the coordinator of the "Al-Maidah Picnic," which sent supporters of now governor-elect Anies Baswedan and his deputy Sandiaga Uno to polling stations when Jakartans cast their vote to elect a new governor in April.

KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah on Friday indicated that KPK leaders were unlikely to meet Amien since they rarely meet anyone who could be involved in a graft case still under investigation. Ansufri was accompanied by PAN politicians Drajad Wibowo and Hanafi Rais – Amien's son.

Ansufri said KPK leaders' reluctance to meet Amien is a slight on the "Founding Father of Reformasi." Ansufri also alleged that KPK prosecutors might have mentioned Amien's name in the graft case in retaliation against the PAN leader, who was actively supporting Anies and Sandiaga in the Jakarta election.

Amien and PAN sided with Anies, who was also backed by Prabowo Subianto's Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party, against Ahok, who was backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) – the ruling party backing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration. "This is a politics of retaliation, they're playing scorched-earth tactics," Ansufri said.

Hundreds of university students were also seen rallying outside the KPK headquarters on Monday demanding that KPK leaders agree to meet Amien to discuss his alleged involvement in the graft case.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/amien-rais-reneges-promise-come-KPK-explain-alleged-graft-involvement/

KPK refuses to meet Amien Rais

Jakarta Post - June 5, 2017

Jakarta – Leaders of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) are refusing to meet with National Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais in the latter's efforts to clarify allegations he had accepted Rp 600 million (US$45,157) in a graft case involving former health minister Siti Fadilah Supari.

Amien sent on Monday a delegation comprising PAN politician Dradjad Wibowo, lawmaker Saleh Partaonan Daulay and his son Hanafi Rais to KPK headquarters, where they only met with KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah.

Dradjad said that Amien was somewhere near the KPK building at the time, "he will come only if KPK leaders are ready [to meet him]." He added that Amien wanted to speak with the antigraft leaders before he embarked for umrah (minor haj) sometime in the near future.

Febri insisted that the commission was currently focused on Siti's trial, in which the former minister stands accused of embezzling funds from a budget meant for the procurement of medical equipment.

"We will wait for the verdict," Febri told reporters. "I have told the delegation that we have received a testimony and bank statement as evidence [against Amien], but we still focus on the defendant," he added.

Amien announced last Friday that he planned to approach the KPK to provide confirmation about funds he reportedly received from the Soetrisno Bachir Foundation, as revealed by KPK prosecutor Ali Fikri during the graft trial of Siti at the Jakarta Corruption Court last Wednesday. (ecn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/05/KPK-refuses-to-meet-amien-rais.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

TNI mobilizes warships, intelligence forces to prevent IS movement

Jakarta Post - June 5, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian Military (TNI) has begun mobilizing its forces, including warships and intelligence operations, in northern parts of Indonesia to anticipate the entrance of terrorist group Islamic State (IS) into the country, amid a continuing siege in the neighboring Philippines by IS-linked militants.

"We are the first to mobilize our warships on patrol from North Maluku to Central Sulawesi. We have also mobilized some warships in Tarakan, North Kalimantan and are cooperating with the Philippine and Malaysian militaries," said TNI chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo on Sunday, as quoted by tempo.co.

A deadly battle between the Philippines army and the Maute terrorist group has been ongoing for weeks in the southern Philippine town of Marawi, on Mindanao Island, raising concerns among Philippines neighbors, including Indonesia and Malaysia.

Apart from warships, Gatot added, the TNI had also been conducting intelligence operations in several territories near Mindanao, including Morotai Island in North Maluku, as well as other outer islands of Indonesia.

"Soldiers from Tarakan [in North Kalimantan] will monitor beaches and illegal ports," he said. "Of course, we are also cooperating with the police and the locals."

Recently, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia revealed a plan to launch joint air, naval and ground patrols in the Sulu Sea and areas nearby Mindanao this month. (kuk/ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/05/tni-mobilizes-warships-intelligence-forces-to-prevent-is-movement.html

TNI involvement in counterterrorism could be unconstitutional: Kompolnas

Jakarta Post - June 2, 2017

Jakarta – National Police Commission (Kompolnas) member Bekto Suprapto said the involvement of the Indonesian Military (TNI) in efforts to combat terrorism, that would be included in the 2003 Terrorism Law under a draft revision currently under deliberation by the House of Representatives, could be unconstitutional.

Bekto said the TNI and the National Police had their own roles as stipulated in the 1945 Constitution. It was stated there the role of armed forces was to defend the nation's sovereignty while the police were responsible for enforcing the law and maintaining peace in society.

The commissioner said further that terrorism was a criminal act committed by a citizen and the police had the authority to enforce the law against him or her. If the TNI were to be involved in such counterterrorism efforts, there should be a regulation that could ensure it would not violate the law.

"Two problems that may affect TNI involvement in counterterrorism operations are firstly, the fact there is no law regulating military support for civilian authority and secondly, that armed forces hold no responsibilities for tackling crimes committed by civilians," Bekto said at his office in South Jakarta, on Friday.

Bekto further expressed his concerns about possible abuses of power as armed forces adopted a principle of "killed or to be killed," a principle which is not compatible with civilian crimes. Meanwhile, the police worked to serve the public, during which they must adhere to civilian laws.

"The police should lead efforts to combat terrorism because it is their constitutional duty," Bekto said. (dis/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/02/tni-involvement-in-counterterrorism-could-be-unconstitutional-kompolnas.html

Freedom of religion & worship

Ahmadis expect dialogue with Jokowi

Jakarta Post - June 7, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – Followers of the Ahmadiyah religious sect are hoping to meet with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to tell the country's leader to revoke the 2008 joint ministerial decree on Ahmadiyah, which prohibits members of the faith from propagating their teachings.

Ahmadiyah spokesman Yendra Budiana said perpetrators of almost all cases of persecution against the Ahmadis used the ministerial decree as the basis for their violent acts although the decree itself did not stipulate any ban against the sect's members exercising their faith.

Yendra said the joint decree banned the Ahmadis from disseminating their beliefs. However, he said, local administrations tended to interpret the decree as a legal basis for banning Ahmadiyah followers from praying, which eventually led to rampant closures of mosques belonging to Ahmadiyah congregations.

"Meeting President Jokowi is our priority. We want to have a chance to tell him directly about our experiences [...] The President can hold a dialogue with other people, so why can't he engage in a dialogue with Ahmadiyah followers who have endured persecution for decades?" Yendra told The Jakarta Post in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The Ahmadis also expected to meet with Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin to encourage him to become a mediator for explaining that the problematic joint decree could not be used to ban Ahmadis from practising their beliefs.

Yendra said the government also should provide a solution for hundreds of displaced Ahmadis who have taken refuge in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, for more than 10 years. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/07/ahmadis-expect-dialogue-with-jokowi.html

Siblings found guilty of online hate speech

Jakarta Post - June 5, 2017

Jakarta – The South Jakarta District Court has found a man guilty of spreading hate speech on social media against non-active Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his brother guilty of the same crime against religious figures.

The siblings, Jamran and Rizal, were each sentenced to six months and fifteen days in prison. Both Jamran and Rizal were also ordered to pay Rp 10 million (US$752.6) in fines.

The judges handling Jamran's case said that Jamran was guilty of repeatedly attacking Ahok for his Chinese ethnicity on social media – a violation of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.

"His repeated posts against Ahok were conducted systematically and referred to Ahok and his Chinese ethnicity," judge Ratmoho said as quoted by kompas.com on Monday. His provocative posts were not supported by facts and could lead to conflict, the judge said.

Meanwhile, judges presiding over Rizal's case said that Rizal was guilty of posting provocative writings that discredited certain religious figures on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He had violated the ITE Law, the judges said.

The sentences and fines against the siblings were lower than what was demanded by prosecutors. Prosecutors demanded a one year prison sentence and Rp 75 million fine for Jamran and ten month prison sentence and Rp 50 million fine for Rizal.

They were arrested along with treason suspects on Dec. 2 last year, hours before a mass rally against Ahok. On that day, the police arrested, among others, activists Ratna Sarumpaet, Rachmawati Soekarnoputri, Sri Bintang Pamungkas and Firza Husein on allegations of treason. (cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/05/siblings-found-guilty-of-online-hate-speech.html

Ahmadis question Depok administration's decision to seal mosque

Jakarta Post - June 5, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) questioned on Monday the decision of the Depok city administration in West Java forbidding Ahmadis from using a mosque that belongs to one of the congregation members for worship.

Depok Mayor Mohammad Idris and many police and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers reportedly sealed the Al-Hidayah Mosque in Sawangan on Sunday to prevent the space from being used.

Ahmadiyah spokesman Yendra Budiana said on Monday that they were not violating any laws by using the mosque and the house to practice their rituals in Depok.

"The mosque has an IMB [building permit]. So it's legal to use the space for worship," Yendra said, as quoted by kompas.com. He also said that JAI had decided to fight the decision through a legal process.

Depok Deputy Mayor Idris Abdul Somad said the IMB only applied for the mosque and the house buildings. He considered it a violation for the JAI to use the mosque for their activities.

Sunday's operation was reportedly the seventh time the Depok authorities have sealed the mosque between 2011 and 2017.

JAI is one the nation's minority groups that have long been persecuted for their beliefs. (hol)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/05/ahmadis-question-depok-administrations-decision-to-seal-mosque.html

Authorities allegedly seal Ahmadiyah mosque in Depok

Jakarta Post - June 4, 2017

Depok – A week into Ramadhan, authorities of Depok city in West Java reportedly sealed on late Saturday a mosque belonging to an Ahmadiyah congregation, a minority Muslim group that has long been persecuted for its beliefs.

Ahmadiyah spokesman Yendra Budiana said in a press release that Depok Mayor Mohammad Idris and a number of police and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers went to the Al-Hidayah Mosque in Sawangan, Depok to ensure the mosque had not been used for worship activities.

"The mayor had the police confiscate the mosque's CCTV recordings to prove that there had been activity in the mosque recently," said Yendra. "The mayor also reported Depok's Ahmadiyah congregation to the police for using the mosque as a place of worship."

He said while the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) had urged the mayor to not restrict religious freedom, the latter insisted on fulfilling the demands of "certain groups that pressured him into forbidding Ahmadiyah followers from carrying out their worship activities in Depok".

He also called on the mayor, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, relevant ministries and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to give more attention to the issue. (dea)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/04/authorities-allegedly-seal-ahmadiyah-mosque-in-depok.html

Islam & religion

Hundreds of pesantren to form alliance to promote moderate Islam

Jakarta Post - June 7, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – In a move to curb the intolerance triggered by growing sectarian sentiment, hundreds of pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) from across Java Island are set to gather in a workshop slated from June 7 to 8 where they will declare an alliance of pesantren promoting moderate Islam.

The workshop will conclude the "Pesantren for Peace" (PfP) program initiated by the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture (CSRC) of the Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic State University (UIN) Jakarta, which kicked off in 2015 and involved 750 pesantren across the island.

The program is aimed at strengthening the role of Indonesian Islamic schools in promoting human rights and peaceful conflict resolution.

CSRC director Irfan Abubakar told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that the workshop and alliance were expected to help eliminate the contradiction between human rights values and Islamic teaching. Most pesantren, he said, tended to defy human rights concepts.

"We want to encourage them to understand that supporting human rights means you are being a better Muslim. We also aim to strengthen the role of Muslims in promoting tolerance," Irfan said.

The two-day workshop will have three discussion sessions where UIN professor Azyumardi Azra, the secretary of the country's second-largest Islamic organization Muhammadiyah, Abdul Mu'ti, and executive of the largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulaman (NU), Masdar F Mas'udi, are scheduled to speak.

"We have seen that intolerance is growing and moderate power is crumbling. We hope [teaching staff] at 'pesantren' can bring the human rights concept to their preaching and teaching," he said. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/06/hundreds-of-pesantren-to-form-alliance-to-promote-moderate-islam.html

Sex, pornography & morality

Minister warns criminal charges await anyone posting video of naked

Jakarta Post - June 6, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara has warned people not to repost a viral video showing a near-naked woman walking along the street on social media, saying they would face criminal charges.

The minister said that those spreading videos containing pornography can be charged under the 2016 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.

"The public are not allowed to spread and distribute the video, unless they want to be charged under the law," Rudiantara said at the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister in Jakarta on Tuesday, adding that the government will more strictly monitor all contents of videos distributed on social media.

Rudiantara also cited the latest fatwa (edict) by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) that forbids Muslims from spreading hate speech, slanderous statements, hoaxes, pornographic material and racial slurs, deeming them haram (forbidden under Islamic law). "So, don't try to distribute any negative contents, because even the MUI has issued a fatwa saying so," he said.

On Monday, the video of a near-naked 26-year-old woman making a purchase at a drug store in Taman Sari, West Jakarta, went viral.

That evening, the police arrested the woman at a residence in the Rasuna Said Apartments in Kuningan, South Jakarta. The head of the West Jakarta Social Affairs Agency's rehabilitation department, Sutawijaya, said he suspected she suffered from a mental illness. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/06/minister-warns-criminal-charges-await-anyone-posting-video-of-naked-woman.html

Morality versus the law: Rizieq Shihab on the defensive

Indonesia at Melbourne - June 1, 2017

Helen Pausacker – In an ironic twist of fate, Rizieq Shihab, the leader of Indonesia's self-appointed moral police, the vigilante Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), was named a suspect in a high-profile pornography case on Monday.

The case began in January, when a group called the Alliance of Anti-Pornography Students reported to police a website that published photos and screen shots of salacious WhatsApp conversations between two people, alleged to be Rizieq and Firza Husein. It all quickly went viral.

Firza was a known supporter of Rizieq, who led the protests against Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in late 2016 and early 2017. Police named Firza a suspect on 17 May and she is likely to be charged under one or all of Articles 4(1), 6 and 8 of Law No. 44 of 2008 on Pornography. She is now in police custody.

Rizieq was initially only called for questioning as a witness but police said on Monday that they had enough evidence to upgrade his status to suspect, loosely equivalent to being charged in common law countries. Rizieq has twice ignored police summonses, in April and May, and has fled to Saudi Arabia. One of his lawyers had said that he might stay there until President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo was no longer in power, although on Wednesday said he would come home "in the near future". According to another of his lawyers, Rizieq has also met with a UN representative, seeking protection, but it is hard to imagine on what basis.

It is not yet known who uploaded the material to the internet but the conversations first appeared after Firza's phone was confiscated by police, when she was arrested for her alleged involvement in a plot to overthrow the government at the time of the 2 December anti-Ahok demonstration. This raises the question whether the contents were leaked by a member of the police.

If the allegations prove to be true, they could be embarrassing – not just for Rizieq, but also for the FPI, which very actively campaigned for the introduction of the Pornography Law. FPI also demonstrated outside the court during the trials of Playboy editor Erwin Arnada, Nazril Irham (Ariel Peterpan) and his editor, Reza Rizaldi (Rejoy), all of whom were imprisoned on pornography charges, the first under the Criminal Code and the second two under the Pornography Law.

Morality and embarrassment are one question but, if proven true, is there a case for Rizieq to answer legally? There was little proper legal justification for the imprisonment of Erwin, Ariel and Rejoy. The Indonesian Playboy displayed no nudes; and neither Ariel nor Rejoy personally uploaded Arial's sex tapes onto the internet.

While many of FPI's opponents would take immense pleasure in seeing Rizieq behind bars, it would not assist justice to apply the same faulty logic to Rizieq.

The charges

It is hard to know what legitimate case could be brought against Rizieq. Article 4 of the Pornography Law, for example, prohibits production of pornographic material but only for distribution (commercially or non-commercially), personal use is not an offence. Article 10 of the law also prohibits public (but not private) nudity. It is, however, clearly an offence to upload pornographic material onto the internet. Thus, whoever uploaded the chat onto the internet violated the law. The participants didn't.

Law No. 11 of 2008 on Electronic Information and Transactions is, however, more ambiguous. Article 27 states that it is forbidden to "knowingly and without authority distribute and/or transmit and/or cause electronic information to be accessible and/or electronic records that violate morality (melanggar kesusilaan)".

Unlike the Pornography Law, the Electronic Information and Transactions Law does not make a clear distinction between public and private. Technically, it might be possible to state that the discussion was "transmitted" through WhatsApp, despite the fact that such chats are private conversations.

The legal definition of "violating morality" is also unclear. Whose morality should judges use as the standard in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country like Indonesia?

According to Article 284 of the Criminal Code it is an offense to have extra-marital affairs in Indonesia but a person can only be prosecuted at the request of the spouse and it must be accompanied by a request for divorce. The conversation through WhatsApp, even if true, is insufficient evidence of sexual contact. Further, Rizieq's wife has stood by him and Firza is a divorcee.

Both Rizieq and Firza deny that they are the people pictured. Even if it is proven that they engaged in online "sex talk", it is difficult to see how this private, consensual activity between two adults could be against the Pornography Law. If anyone should be charged, it is whoever uploaded the images and conversation. But the cases of Ariel and Rejoy do not inspire any confidence that the law will be applied accurately or consistently.

Ariel and Rejoy were imprisoned more because of a feeling of moral outrage and because the courts seemed afraid to go against the hardliners. In Rizieq's case, the Electronic Information and Transactions Law, with its woolly "morality" article, could prove useful if the judges wish to convict the pair. Nevertheless, as Mudzakir, a criminal law expert from the Islamic University of Indonesia (UII) put it, you can't become a suspect because you make private pornographic content. "If that were the case, then almost everyone who owns a mobile phone would be a suspect."

Regardless of what happens in the pornography case, Rizieq and Firza face other unrelated charges that could also land them in prison. Rizieq may be charged for insulting Christianity; insulting the national ideology, Pancasila and alleging that the new Indonesian banknote contains communist symbols. Firza is also facing charges of treason.

[Helen Pausacker is the deputy director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society and an editor of the Australian Journal of Asian Law. She received her PhD from the Melbourne Law School in 2013.]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/morality-versus-the-law-rizieq-shihab-on-the-defensive/

Agriculture & food security

Government breaks up exploitative prices

Jakarta Post - June 3, 2017

Grace D. Amianti and Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – There's a recurring phenomenon each year when the Ramadhan fasting month comes around: staple food prices pick up.

As people are familiar with the situation, they seem to take it for granted, assuming that a peak in demand will naturally increase prices.

However, this seemingly "general truth" does not apply to Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita, who believes the pattern is neither correct nor normal and speculators play a big role in pushing up prices.

Determined to change this, in early April the minister called on big producers and distributors of staple foods such as sugar, cooking oil and meat, to set reasonable price level for themselves as well as their consumers.

"I locked them in the auditorium [of the Trade Ministry] for three days and nights. We did this until we agreed on the set prices," Enggartiasto recently told reporters.

Since then, the price of sugar and cooking oil has settled at Rp 12,500 (94 US cents) per kilogram and Rp 11,000 per kg, respectively, while frozen beef and Indian buffalo are sold for up to Rp 85,000 per kg and Rp 80,000 per kg, respectively.

The mutually agreed to price ceilings came into effect on April 10. The move is designed to anticipate the fasting month in late May and the Idul Fitri festivities in late June as people in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslimmajority country, eat much more than usual to break their fast or cook special dishes during family gatherings.

The Trade Ministry has also joined forces with a food stability task force set up by the National Police along with related stakeholders, including the Agriculture Ministry, the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) and state-owned logistics firm Bulog, to closely monitor food prices and avert food hoarding practices nationwide.

The effort seems to be generating the desired goal. At the beginning of Ramadhan, prices of staple foods climbed modestly, reversing trends seen in previous years.

Data from hargapangan.id shows that on Friday, the price of bulk cooking oil rose by only 2.5 percent to Rp 12,300 per kilogram, while the price of fresh meat was up 2.86 percent to Rp 32,350 per kg and the price of eggs was up by 4.23 percent to Rp 22,200 per kg. Garlic prices, meanwhile, slipped by 0.86 percent to Rp 51,600 per kg.

The price of frozen beef, for example, is now lower than last year when the price rose beyond Rp 120,000 per kg. Up to Wednesday, Bulog claimed it had secured 33,000 tons of buffalo meat and 360,000 tons of sugar to distribute across the country.

Enggartiasto admitted that the still high price of garlic remained a concern and that this had been addressed through recent imports. "I don't say that relatively stable prices means that we're 100 percent successful, but at least we're seeing low inflation," he said Wednesday.

Alleged hoarding practices by importers are said to be a cause of persistent high prices. The police are investigating these alleged practices in Jakarta, Medan and Surabaya.

In a separate development, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) reported on Friday that monthly inflation stood at 0.39 percent month-on-month (mom), bringing the annual inflation rate to 4.33 percent year-on-year (yoy).

The inflation was primarily triggered by hikes in the prices of food commodities such as garlic, chicken eggs, chicken meat, rice and beef alongside other costs such as electricity, fuel, airline fares and cigarettes.

Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution acknowledged that May's inflation was quite high and attributed this situation to volatile food components. He added that the government had found irregularities in the distribution of some food commodities, including garlic, with importers contributing to market distortions. "Let the trade minister deal with them," he said Friday.

Despite May's inflation, Darmin said this year's maximum inflation target, set at 5 percent, was still achievable by the end of 2017.

Bank Central Asia's (BCA) chief economist David Sumual said imports of food commodities could help maintain a good supply and tame prices in the short- and medium term. However, in the long term, improved production will be the ultimate solution, he said.

"We should improve longterm food productivity because in terms of quantity, our domestic production of commodities such as garlic, is still low," David said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/03/govt-breaks-up-exploitative-prices.html

Ethnic & sectarian conflict

Indonesia records region's largest drop on global peace index

Jakarta Globe - June 7, 2017

Jakarta – Increased tension between hardline Muslims and minority groups such as Christians is one of the reasons why Indonesia's score on the 2017 Global Peace Index deteriorated, according to a report released by the Institute for Economics and Peace last Thursday (01/06).

"Although majority of countries in Asia Pacific have made improvements in their overall scores, Indonesia recorded the largest drop in the region," the report said.

In 2016, Indonesia ranked 42 out of 163 countries listed in the index. This year, however, the country experienced the largest drop among Asia Pacific countries, dropping to 52 on the index.

The Global Peace Index is compiled by The Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think tank headquartered in Sydney, Australia. The index was initially launched in 2007, and has been updated annually since.

The index measures the state of peace according to 23 indicators, which includes incidents of violent crime, levels of militarization, weapons imports and the number killed in both internal and external conflicts.

The index suggested that Indonesia's overall score deterioration was "driven by a deterioration in the indicators measuring political terror and the number and duration of internal conflicts," and cited "increased tensions between hardline Muslims and minority sectarian groups, chiefly Christian" as the main cause.

The growth of intolerance and increased tensions in the archipelago nation is best illustrated by the highly-publicized Jakarta election, which prompted mass rallies against then Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of ethnic Chinese minority, as well as the blasphemy case against him, which led to his conviction and 2 year sentence.

Iceland, New Zealand and Portugal are listed on top as the world's most peaceful countries, whereas Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are listed as the least peaceful countries.

The index also highlighted that violence costs 12.6 percent of global gross domestic product, which is equivalent to $14.3 trillion in terms of purchasing power parity.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-records-regions-largest-drop-on-global-peace-index/

Jakarta & urban life

Jakartans soon to enjoy choppers as public transportation

Jakarta Post - June 7, 2017

Jakarta – Next year, some people will be able to enjoy using helicopters as a mode of public transportation to travel around Greater Jakarta and to Bandung in West Java.

State-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura (AP) II signed on Wednesday an agreement to team up with air charter operator PT Whitesky Aviation to provide the helicopter service to the public beginning in 2018.

"Passengers who want to take this mode of transportation can buy tickets through our call center, which will be integrated with AP II," Whitesky Aviation director Denon Prawiraatmadja said as quoted by tribunnews.com after the agreement signing, which was attended by Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumardi and AP II director Muhammad Awaludin.

Denon said that the passengers would be required to pay Rp 1.2 million (US$90) to ride the helicopter from the airport to Pantai Indah Kapuk in North Jakarta, as well as to the Greater Jakarta areas of Bintaro and Cikampek, and Rp 3 million to Bandung. Each helicopter can accommodate six passengers. The company now has four helicopters and will buy another four by the end of 2017, Denon said.

Whitesky Aviation and AP II would also develop a heliport on 2.8 hectares of land on Jl. Parimeter Selatan, Neglasari, Tangerang. The heliport would include a helipad, hangar, waiting room, office and medical facilities. (cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/07/jakartans-soon-to-enjoy-choppers-as-public-transportation.html

Sandiaga tells city administration to keep Kalijodo 'clean'

Jakarta Post - June 5, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta deputy governor-elect Sandiaga Uno has reminded the current city administration to maintain order in Kalijodo, a former red-light district in North Jakarta that is now a public park, as more than a hundred families have started to build illegal settlements under a nearby toll road.

"The administration needs to ensure that prostitution does not come back to Kalijodo," Sandiaga said recently as quoted by tempo.co. "The administration has spent so much money to keep the place in order," he added.

The city administration previously confirmed that it would tear down semi-permanent dwellings that had started to reappear near what is now the Kalijodo child-friendly integrated public space (RPTRA).

Acting Jakarta Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat said the Public Order Agency would coordinate with the police in carrying out the demolition next week.

The demolition of buildings in the former red-light district has been ongoing since February last year when the administration, under the leadership of then-governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, decided to transform the area into an RPTRA, equipped with a skate park.

Over the past few weeks, dozens of people have started building semi-permanent dwellings under the toll road across from Kalijodo Park. The semi-permanent dwellings have allegedly been used for prostitution. (vny)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/05/sandiaga-tells-city-administration-to-keep-kalijodo-clean.html

City to demolish illegal Kalijodo settlement

Jakarta Post - June 5, 2017

Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – The Jakarta administration has confirmed it will tear down semi-permanent dwellings that started to reappear near the newly transformed Kalijodo area in Penjaringan, North Jakarta, which was formerly a red-light district.

Acting Jakarta Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat said the Public Order Agency would coordinate with the police in executing the demolition. "We will conduct the demolition next week. The area will be cleared out before Idul Fitri," Djarot told reporters Monday at City Hall.

The demolition of buildings in the former red-light district have been ongoing since February last year when the administration, under the leadership of then-governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, decided to transform the area into a Child-Friendly Integrated Public Space (RPTRA) equipped with a skate park.

Over the past few weeks, dozens of people started building semi-permanent dwellings under the toll road across from Kalijodo Park, and were allegedly used for prostitution.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/05/city-to-demolish-illegal-kalijodo-settlement.html

Street children encouraged to memorize God's names

Jakarta Post - June 2, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta Islamic Center (JIC) in North Jakarta is encouraging street children in the neighborhood to read and memorize Asmaul Husna (99 beautiful names of God) by offering them money depending on how many they can memorize.

M. Arif, Social and Culture sub division head at the JIC, said Friday that the program, called "Santri Asmaul-Husna" (Asmaul Husna Islamic student), was only designated for street children to stimulate their interest as well as teach them more about Islam.

Within one week after beginning to learn about Asmaul Husna, they would be tested by JIC committees. The more names they could memorize, the more money they would earn from the program,

"For example if they memorize 30 names, they would get Rp 30,000 [US$2.25]," Arif said as quoted by kompas.com.

In addition to that, the JIC also holds three other programs to enliven the Ramadhan fasting period including Star Kids Ramadhan to teach the importance of respecting their parents, Jambore Ramadhan and Spirit Ramadhan. Meanwhile, teenagers are able to participate in a short Islamic boarding school program. (idb)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/02/street-children-encouraged-to-memorize-gods-names.html

Jakarta deputy governor elect elaborates on plan to recruit thugs as

Kompas.com - June 2, 2017

Sherly Puspita, Jakarta – Jakarta Deputy Governor elect Sandiaga Uno has elaborated on his idea about how to solve the problem of thuggery (premanisme) in Jakarta. According to Uno, Jakarta can solve the problem by providing job opportunities to thugs.

"Actually if these thugs (preman) were recruited by finance companies as debt collectors (penagih utang) they would be very suitable", said Uno in Tamansari, West Java, on Thursday June 1.

Uno believes that it is appropriate to employ thugs as debt collectors because they are brave and daring. He hopes that the idea can be used as a solution to the problem of thuggery in Jakarta.

The government, said Uno, must become a bridge to forge partnerships between the community and the business world. "They (thugs) are brave, consistent, and hopefully the banks won't have any problems in managing them", said Uno.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Sandiaga: Preman Sangat Layak Direkrut sebagai 'Debt Collector'".]

Source: http://megapolitan.kompas.com/read/2017/06/02/04020021/sandiaga.preman.sangat.layak.direkrut.sebagai.debt.collector.

National security & intelligence

Gov't issues decree to kick-start operations at national cyber agency

Jakarta Globe - June 2, 2017

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo issued a presidential regulation on May 23 officially recognizing the National Cyber Agency, which will be tasked with consolidating cybersecurity measures across state institutions in the country.

The regulation, signed by Jokowi on May 19, comes more than a year after the government first initiated the agency.

However, the state body remained stagnant over the past year due to a lack of a presidential decree granting the agency operational status, even amid growing cyber-vulnerability concerns across the archipelago and beyond.

In addition, the agency's director, who will serve immediately under Chief Security Minister Wiranto, has yet to be appointed.

The new agency will be tasked with coordinating cybersecurity initiatives between the Ministry of Communications and Information, the Ministry of Defense, the National Police, the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), among other state bodies.

"The National Cyber Agency will utilize, develop and consolidate all matters related to this country's cybersecurity," the presidential regulation stated.

Calls for the immediate commencement of operations at the National Cyber Agency reemerged last month after a ransomware cyber-attack affected government and private sector networks in countries across the globe.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/govt-issues-decree-kick-start-operations-national-cyber-agency/

Free trade & neoliberalism

Indonesia has 'lost interest' in TPP without US, vice president says

Nikkei Asia Review - June 5, 2017

Shotaro Tani, Tokyo – Indonesia has lost its motivation to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, due to the U.S. withdrawal from the trade pact, the Southeast Asian country's vice president told the Nikkei Asian Review in an interview on Monday.

"The allure of the TPP for Indonesia was the fact that the U.S. was part of the deal," Jusuf Kalla said on the sidelines of the Future of Asia conference in Tokyo. "Without the U.S., we feel that the benefits on the trade front for Indonesia aren't that big, and we have lost interest."

Indonesia was not among the initial TPP group, but President Joko Widodo in 2015 told then-U.S. President Barack Obama that his government intended to join once the members ratified and implemented the deal.

Now that Washington has pulled out, some of the remaining 11 members are seeking to renegotiate the terms.

"Putting the TPP into effect is also proving to be difficult," Kalla said. "That is why we are leaning toward not joining the deal altogether." He added that his country already has bilateral and multilateral ties with TPP member nations, which also decreases the attractiveness of the deal.

As opposed to the TPP, the vice president said Indonesia remains supportive of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP – a multilateral trade framework involving China, India, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"RCEP is an ASEAN-led initiative, that's the difference [with the TPP]," Kalla said. "We haven't changed our stance on joining the pact."

Despite signaling Indonesia's disinterest in the so-called TPP 11, Kalla told the conference in a speech and Q&A session that the country recognizes the importance of the deal in making "Asia more investment grade." He added that Asia has gained a great deal from open trade. "Over the last two decades, hundreds of millions of Asians have been alleviated from poverty.... Our decision to promote economic openness has enabled us to harvest the fruit of globalization."

Kalla added that globalization is "irreversible" by nature, but if countries do not address the inequality that accompanies it, pressure to turn back the tide will grow. This would be "bad news for Asia," he said, calling for greater inclusiveness and better education to ensure citizens have the skills they need for the future.

Source: http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Indonesia-has-lost-interest-in-TPP-without-US-vice-president-says


Indonesian Borneo is finished: They also sell orangutans into sex

Counter Punch - June 2, 2017

Andre Vltchek – How destructive can man get, how ruthless, in his quest to secure maximum profit, even as he endangers the very survival of our planet?

The tropical forests of Kalimantan (known as Borneo in Malaysia), the third largest island in the world, have almost totally disappeared. Coalmines are savagely scarring the hills; the rivers are polluted, and countless species are endangered or already extinct.

It is all a terrible sight, whether you see it from the air or when driving (or walking) through the devastation that is taking place on the ground. The soil is black; it is often saturated with chemicals. Dead stubs of trees are accusatively pointing towards the sky. Many wonderful creatures, big and small, who used to proudly inhabit this tropical paradise, are now hiding in the depth of what remains of one of the largest tropical jungles on earth.

Engines are instantly roaring everywhere; huge equipment is continually cutting through something pure, or digging and finally transporting what has already been extracted, killed, or taken down mercilessly.

Ms. Mira Lubis, Senior Lecturer at Tanjungpura University, Pontianak in Western Kalimantan, summarizes the situation honestly but brutally:

"I think we, the people of Borneo, have lost our sovereignty over our own space and resources, under the pressure of global capitalism... Apparently, we just became poor despite all the wealth that we have."

One morning I looked from my hotel window in the city of Samarinda (East Kalimantan), spotting an enormous coal barge. It was sitting right in front of me, stubbornly, under the bridge (one of only two bridges connecting two shores of this steamy city of 850,000). The barge was too big to move, as the current appeared to be too strong. One push boat and one tugboat were trying to move it against the torrent, in vain.

I went downstairs and encountered a frustrated Mr. Jailani, a shipping manager employed by a coal company.

"They were supposed to use a pilot boat, but there is none in sight," he lamented. "This happens so often. Coal barges already hit this bridge on at least three occasions."

Coalmines were exactly what I was looking for, but he dismissed my questions with a polite but firm answer:

"You can never make it to the mines. They are off-limits. Guards are everywhere, and you'd have to have special permit to enter the area. And there is not much to see, anyway. Our company was recently awarded a prize for environmental consciousness."

I decided to ignore his words and polite warning. I went to Sambutan, a mining town a 40-minute drive from Samarinda. At some point, continuous and depressing urban sprawl gave way to a fully devastated landscape. Some images were striking: a man, alone, with a metal bar, singlehandedly crumbling the entire side of a mountain, supposedly in order to sell stone for a local construction site.

Nearby, in a makeshift stall, a couple and a child were selling fruits. I asked them about the mountain and the man, and they replied with a certain amount of admiration:

"We are selling coconuts here for almost two years. For as long as we are here, he has been here as well. He is a real daredevil. What he is doing is so dangerous, but he never stumbles, never falls."

Before Makroman town, we turn left, soon leaving the main road behind. Wherever one looks, the entire landscape is ruined: mountains mutilated beyond recognition, forests gone, and huge tracts of land "cleared."

Despite what I already witnessed in all corners of Indonesia for years, I'm still not prepared for what soon opens in front of my eyes: the endless and horrifying sprawl of natural calamity: dozens of square kilometers of dust, noise, and mud.

I try to avoid 100-ton trucks, which almost run my car off the path. They are transporting coal. I see filthy processing plants. I see old, rusty equipment scattered all around the area.

Suddenly I realize that I'm "there," in the middle of the notorious 'PT CEM' (Cahaya Energi Mandiri), a giant Indonesian-South Korean coalmining joint venture.

I'm not supposed to be here, and to see all this with my own eyes. But I'm entering the mining area with a car equipped with local license plates. It is right before 1pm – the end of lunch hour. Checkpoints are unattended. I step on the gas, and dash in. Guards will soon return, but it will be too late to stop me. My rented car is already cutting through dirt and dust, progressing towards its goal.

PT CEM has operated in this area since 2008, and it counts on mining concessions covering approximately 1,600 hectares, in the area of Sungai Siring, Samarinda.

In Indonesia, the images of natural disasters like this one are hardly ever publicized. Mining in Papua, Kalimantan, Sumatra, and elsewhere brings in billions of dollars annually, into both government coffers and into the deep pockets of corrupt individuals.

This country, with the fourth-largest population on earth, is producing very little, but is extracting in an unbridled manner all that is still available above and below the ground. National mass media is fully subservient to both local and foreign business interests.

The native population is stuck with low-paying jobs and almost no benefits. The environment is "changing," pollution is reaching epic proportions, but there is very little awareness, even among the poorest of the poor, of the dreadfulness of the situation.

On the way out from the mining site, three men (sub-contractors of PT CEM) are trying to fix their broken truck. They speak, first reluctantly, then more and more openly:

"The pay here is very low. Our basic salary consists of US$115 per month, which is bellow official minimum wage. We have no health insurance, and no housing allowances."

In nearby Makroman, Ms. Suwarti, a housewife married to a farmer, explains:

"We have two lots, each with 200 square meters, producing bananas and other crops, but the mining company wanted to use it. They offered compensation of only US$110. If we'd refuse, the company would still grab and use the land, but would give us no compensation. After all, coal that was extracted from our plot, they filled the pit but now nothing can grow there, anymore. The land is ruined. We were very angry, but what could small people like us do?"

It is like this all over the area, all over Kalimantan, all over the entire Indonesian archipelago.

People are often confused; only few of them are fully aware of the situation. Ms. Ruswidah owns a store near Muara Badak. She appears to be content with the increasing number of palm oil plantations:

"I think it is good that there are palm oil plantations here because there are many people out of jobs after an oil company VICO closed down its operation here. Business is very bad for me now. Now, at least there is something replacing VICO."

Then she continues: "Palm oil plantation is good for the environment around here. Why? Because after they set up this plantation here, there are no more forest fires here. I have already seen three big forest fires in my life, and I'm only 36 years old. Before, bad people would just burn the forest down, but now at palm oil plantations, they have guards."

What Ms. Ruswidah doesn't know or doesn't want to know, is that most of the forest fires in the area were triggered in order to "clear" the land for either palm oil plantations or for mining operations.

Few kilometers further down the road, I speak to Ms. Nurliah, who used to work for PT. Kelapa Taruk, a palm oil plantation owned by Korea. Now she is considered an "outsource worker":

"They used to pay me Rp. 76,300/day (US$5.7). But now, they pay us according to our performance. They pay us Rp. 200,000 per hectare, and Rp. 100,000 for chemical spraying per hectare."

"The Korean company is using the customary lands that belongs to the village. Usually they negotiate a 25-year contract. And there is always some profit sharing scheme with the village, but I don't know the details. They don't share this information with us, laborers."

"Recently, the Korean company hired a Javanese manager. Since he is in charge, the conditions of our jobs here are becoming worse and worse. Now for the whole month we probably get paid only about Rp. 1.5 million (US$112). They don't construct school and don't provide health insurance. I don't think we get any benefits from having palm oil plantations here."

Mr. Yhenda Permana, director of LNG-producing company PT Badak NGL, which is based in Kalimantan, says:

"I'm very sad to see destruction of Kalimantan. If we look from above, the island is already 'bald,' dotted with black toxic lakes. They burn the forest with, even with orangutans still living there. Local people do it, but who is behind them? Protected forests are also logged out and burned. Afterwards, in most of cases, palm oil is planted."

One of the national forests I visited, symbolically named 'Bukit Soeharto' (Suharto's Hill) is almost gone. I ask an old local lady, Ms. Halbi, who is selling basic goods at the side of the road, whether there is any respect for native protected forests on this island:

"We are allowed to grow some plants here. Even I do. Pepper and dragon fruit. It is not our land, but nobody does anything to stop us."

Stubs and stubs, everywhere, 'replacing' magnificent trees, in what used to be one of the greatest areas, often described as "the lungs of the planet Earth."

Ms. Windrati Kaliman, former lecturer at INSTIPER (Plantation Technology Institute) Yogyakarta, has her theory on the matter:

"Massive deforestation accelerated after 'de-centralization.' Now local governments are free to give permits for logging. Rainforest is being converted into palm oil plantations and mines. In theory, protected forests and parks cannot be used for logging, but in reality they are: In Kalimantan, but also in Aceh, Riau, and many other parts of the country."

It is not only trees that are disappearing, and not only people who are living in increasing misery. The legendary Borneo orangutan is almost extinct. And so are bears, countless species of birds, and insects.

In Samboja Orangutan Sanctuary & Rehabilitation Center, Mr. Andreas (a caretaker), can barely hide his outrage:

"You cannot imagine what is being done to these intelligent and fascinating apes. This one – we rescued him from a timber plant. Just for fun they had him chained under the generator, for years. As a result, he lost his hearing and suffers from brain damage. It is very common in Kalimantan to hunt for female orangutans, shave them and sell them for sex to desperate forestry workers. It is like rape, like horrible slavery. Remember, these apes have 97% same DNA as humans, and as humans, they have 4 types of blood."

I walk around the Center, observing from the distant these fascinating, melancholic creatures. So many awful stories and fates! This used to be a paradise on Earth: for apes, for other mammals, for butterflies, plants and hundreds of different trees. This used to be "the end of the world" and the beginning. Oh Borneo, what is left of you now?

I traveled through several parts of Indonesian Kalimantan, around Samarinda and Balikpapan, as well as Pontianak. I testify that I saw those "black lakes and rivers," as well as countless open pits, and palm oil plantations, almost everywhere. I flew over hundreds of kilometers of hellish wastelands. I listened to people suffering from cancer, from respiratory diseases, but above all, from hopelessness.

Ms. Mira Lubis confirmed what I discovered: "Now the Kapuas River and its tributaries are increasingly polluted by all types of waste, ranging from household waste, pesticides, fertilizers to mercury, which is mainly dispersed because of mining activities and large scale palm oil plantations. This creates a serious threat to the survival of communities along the river network..."

As Mr. Yhenda Permana concluded: "Can you imagine, this once stunningly beautiful island with deep native forests and thousands of living creatures, is now converted and 'dedicated' to only one crop: palm oil?"

The tragedy is not only devastating Kalimantan, but almost the whole of Indonesia. This is what has been happening to this country with a deep and ancient culture, and enormous natural beauty, ever since the 1965 US-sponsored coup, and re-introduction of savage capitalism, feudalism, and unrestrained corruption.

Not much is left. Who knows whether anything at all will remain here in one or two decades from now? If not, then what will happen? But the savage capitalism does not bother to ask such questions. It consumes, it plunders everything, while it can. In Indonesia, it seems that there is absolutely nothing that can stop it!

[Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel "Aurora" and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: "Exposing Lies Of The Empire" and "Fighting Against Western Imperialism". View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.]

Source: https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/06/02/indonesian-borneo-is-finished-they-also-sell-orangutans-into-sex-slavery/

Analysis & opinion

Indonesian politics has been rocked by two big developments. Now what's

Washington Post - June 1, 2017

Tom Pepinsky – Indonesian politics has been rocked by two major developments in recent months, both involving the governor of Indonesia's capital and most important city, Jakarta.

The first came on April 19, when the sitting governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – better known by his nickname "Ahok" – was decisively defeated in a gubernatorial election. Ahok's defeat is surprising given his general popularity among Jakarta voters, with an astonishing 76 percent of voters approving of his record of office.

The second came several weeks later, when courts sentenced Ahok to two years in prison for blasphemy – for comments he made in a speech referencing a verse in the Koran that some Muslims believe forbids them from voting for a non-Muslim politician. Indonesian law protects freedom of religion and religious expression, but makes blasphemy illegal as a threat to public order and religious values. Ahok's opponents used doctored recordings of these comments to make the case that he had insulted Islam.

Ahok's personal and political background

Ahok is a "double minority" in the Indonesian context: He is a Christian in a country that is 87 percent Muslim. And he is of ethnic Chinese decent in a country where ethnic Chinese minorities have long faced persecution and discrimination but are viewed as being generally wealthier than Indonesians of other backgrounds.

Indonesia's Christian politicians tend to find electoral success in regions with local Christian majorities. Indonesia's Chinese politicians are comparatively few – and Ahok occupied one of the most powerful political offices in Indonesia. Jakarta is a city of 20 million people, but it is still roughly 85 percent Muslim – and only about 5 percent of its population claims Chinese heritage.

Also critical for understanding Ahok is the fact that he was never elected governor of Jakarta. Instead, he was elected vice-governor of Jakarta in 2012, on a ticket headed by Joko Widodo. An ethnic Javanese Muslim, Widodo resigned his position to run successfully for Indonesia's presidency in 2014, and that is how Ahok became governor.

As a result, the 2017 gubernatorial election campaign was the first time Ahok was tested at the top of the ticket in Jakarta. Despite approval ratings that far exceed those of most other politicians in Indonesia and elsewhere, Ahok faced stiff opposition. He faced withering criticism for his housing policy, which sought to control informal urban settlements (sometimes termed slums or squatter settlements) by evicting their residents with promises of resettlement elsewhere.

Ahok also has a personal reputation that matches some of the more negative stereotypes of ethnic Chinese Indonesians: He is seen as direct, abrupt and coarse in his manner of speech, inconsistent with the refined demeanor usually cultivated by Indonesia's ethnic Javanese politicians.

Indonesia, a contemporary Muslim democracy?

But far more attention has been paid to religious discourse. Ahok's opponent, the new governor-elect Anies Baswedan, courted the Muslim vote, exploiting and nurturing the sentiment among Jakarta's Muslim voters that, indeed, Muslims could not vote for a Christian. He also appeared before the Islamic Defenders Front, a hard-line Islamist group, in a move seen as allying himself with more radical streams in Indonesian Islam. For a politician such as Anies with a reputation as a moderate Muslim, this was a meaningful shift.

The Jakarta election and Ahok's blasphemy case are therefore interpreted by many as two "tests" of Indonesia's democracy. Can Indonesia's plural society resist the exploitation of identity for political gain? And can Indonesia's legal system look past headline-grabbing allegations of blasphemy to see factually baseless charges for what they are? For many who look to Indonesia as a standard-bearer for contemporary Muslim democracy, the results have been disappointing.

Islam as a political identity

Scholars of Indonesian politics have interpreted these events through two frameworks: one based on class and another on identity. Was Ahok undone primarily because of his religion or ethnicity, or because of his perceived indifference to the plight of Jakarta's urban poor? Some early survey-based research suggested that Ahok would suffer because of his Chinese heritage, but more recent research targeting the large segment of voters who supported Ahok's performance in office but voted against him anyway finds that religious motivations drove their decisions.

The Ahok case thus contributes to the view that Islam as a political identity rather than as a spiritual platform appears to be increasingly mobilizing for political gain. Many of Indonesia's emerging middle class are indeed rather pious, but not particularly radical. And Indonesian voters don't generally prefer Islamist parties over multi-religious parties, they tend to prefer competent parties over incompetent ones. Yet exclusionary ideas can shape the political debate, even if Indonesian's population remains generally accepting of a multi-religious Indonesian population. One such idea is that Ahok as governor upsets the natural order of Indonesian politics because he is not a Muslim.

In an important recent contribution to the study of religion and politics, political scientist Jeremy Menchik calls this tolerance without liberalism. This phrase denotes a situation in which diversity exists and is sincerely valued, but without the concomitant acceptance of the rights of individuals to criticize other faiths, or to follow "deviationist" religious traditions (such as Shiite Islam in Indonesia). Diversity, in other words, must not threaten social order.

Not surprisingly, many Indonesian progressives, liberals and religious and ethnic minorities find such a system to be worrisome. So, too, do some Muslim religious leaders themselves, who understand how invoking public order to regulate religious practice may ultimately lead to a narrow view of what forms of Islam are accepted as legitimate. In this way, the Ahok case may prove to have long-lasting implications not just for non-Muslim minority communities in Indonesia, but also for Indonesia's Muslim majority.

[Thomas Pepinsky is associate professor of government and associate director of the Modern Indonesia Project at Cornell University. Follow him on Twitter at @tompepinsky.]

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/06/01/indonesian-voters-disrupted-their-political-scene-whats-next-for-the-country/

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