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Indonesia News Digest 29 – August 1-7, 2017

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Boyolali turns to Dayak people to combat monkeys

Jakarta Post - August 6, 2017

Ganug Nugroho Adi, Boyolali, Central Java – Hundreds of shooters had been deployed, but it was not enough to quell the enemy.

Residents of Karanggede and Kemusu villages in Boyolali, Central Java, have asked people of Dayak ethnicity for help to combat wild macaques that have been a headache for the villagers in the past few months.

Monkeys have repeatedly raided farms and houses, wreaking havoc on crops, looting houses and injuring people.

Karanggede village head Sukimin said the Dayak people, who originated from Kalimantan, were believed to have special skills to deal with hungry primates. He said the idea was recommended by other villages that had experienced raids by monkeys.

"We leave the method to [the Dayak people]. We are now coordinating with the Boyolali regency administration to summon the Dayak," Sukimin said on Saturday.

Sharpshooters from the Army and the police, the Indonesian Target Shooting and Hunting Association (Perbakin) and the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), who were deployed to the area on Thursday, have failed to prevent the monkeys from entering the villages.

"It is very difficult to anticipate their arrival. Bands of monkeys can suddenly come and steal crops. These monkeys have become more brazen," Sukimin said.

Residents have also used monkeys from Taru Jurug Zoo in Surakarta to lure the animals. "The plan was to shoot the wild monkeys once they came to see the monkeys from the zoo. In the past three days, some of them did come but were very quick to flee once they saw humans," he added.

Slamet Sukeri from the Central Java BKSDA said the monkeys would continue their raids until the dry season ended. According to him, during the dry season, water and food sources in their natural habitat were scarce because of deforestation near the villages.

"For a long-term solution, the natural habitat must be restored, for example, by planting fruit trees," Slamet said. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/06/boyolali-turns-to-dayak-people-to-combat-monkeys.html

Indonesia military, police declare war on monkeys

Straits Times - August 4, 2017

Boyolali (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) – Over the next week, some areas in Boyolali regency, Central Java, may resemble war zones, as hundreds of police and military personnel armed with rifles are deployed with orders to shoot on sight.

The targets, however, will not be desperate drug dealers or merciless terrorists, but monkeys.

Residents and the authorities seem to have lost patience in the face of repeated raids by wild macaques on farms and houses in the past few months.

Havoc has been wreaked on corn and fruit and vegetable crops. Houses have been looted and people attacked.

More than 100 shooters from the army and the police, as well as members of the Association of Indonesian Shooters (Perbakin) have been sent to hunt down the primates.

"This operation is not intended to kill, let alone exterminate the monkeys, but we do aim to secure people's farms and residences," Karanggede Police chief Adjunct Commissioner Margono said, adding that they would use non-lethal rounds to shoot the animals.

The shooters were deployed on Thursday (Aug 3) and are to work there for a week. Their operation will cover at least five villages in Sendang subdistrict, Karanggede.

"Today we combed locations frequently visited by the monkeys. We really hope this operation will be successful, because the money attacks have terrorised the people," Mr Margono said.

Locals tried to get rid of the monkeys by using wooden and bamboo sticks, but the animals kept coming back. They also tried to fence their fields with nets, only to find out that the monkeys damaged the nets.

The monkeys have lost their fear of humans, said Mr Purwanto, from Karanggede. "The more we try to get rid of them, the more aggressive the monkeys become. They leave but come back minutes later in much bigger numbers," he said.

At least 13 people, mostly children and senior citizens, have fallen victim to monkey attacks. "The latest victim was Parmo, 82, who was attacked on Tuesday and sustained severe injuries," said Sendang subdistrict head Sukimin.

Mr Sukimin said Mr Parmo was using a stick to try to beat off a troop of monkeys that was approaching his chicken cage but the animals ran amok and fought back furiously. The grandfather received 42 stitches on his arms and chest.

Animal activist Ning Hening criticised the shooting operation and said it would not address the problem. "A similar approach has been adopted in other regions, but the monkeys keep coming back when they are hungry," Ms Hening said.

Ms Hening suggested the use of wet chicken manure, put along the monkeys' usual routes, as a better way to get rid of monkeys without injuring them.

"Monkeys do not like the smell of chicken manure. They will leave once they smell it. Farmers have applied this approach for ages," Ms Hening said.

Another way is by painting one of the monkeys entirely red and releasing it back to its habitat.

"Other monkeys will run terrified once they see the red-painted monkey, thinking that it does not belong to their troop." Ms Hening said. "Such traditional ways are more humane than shooting them."

Residents say monkey attacks recur every dry season but this time the monkeys seem to be more aggressive. They blame the situation on damage to the forests on the slopes of Mount Merapi that are the natural habitat of the primates.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesia-military-police-declare-war-on-monkeys

Police to probe death of man accused of stealing mosque amplifiers

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2017

Jakarta – The Bekasi Police said on Thursday it would investigate the mob attack and burning to death of a 30-year-old man accused of stealing mosque amplifiers.

Bekasi Police criminal unit chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Rizal Marito said that residents of Suka Tenang should not have attacked the man, identified only as MA, who died after he was burned alive on Wednesday.

"For the people involved in the attack, we will process the case. It is certain that those who burned him will be taken into custody," he said.

Residents of Suka Tenang allegedly burned MA alive after he was reportedly caught stealing three amplifier units in a mosque in the village.

"Results from the investigation indicate that the burned victim was indeed a thief who stole the mosque's amplifiers," Rizal said as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com.

According to the investigation report, a mosque attendant said he noticed that the mosque's amplifiers were gone after he finished praying. (agn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/03/police-address-burning-to-death-of-man-accused-of-mosque-theft.html

West Papua

Police chief dismissed following deadly shooting in Deiyai

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2017

Nethy Darma Somba, Jayapura – Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Pol Boy Rafli Amar has stripped First. Insp. HM. Raini of his position as Tigi Police chief following a fatal shooting incident implicating police personnel in Deiyai regency, Papua, on Aug. 1.

Yulianus Pigai, 28, was found dead with several gunshot wounds to his body while at least nine others sustained injuries when police personnel tried to disperse an angry crowd that had destroyed a construction camp of a contractor firm near the Oneibo River.

Boy has also retracted the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel from Tigi. "They will arrive in [provincial capital of] Jayapura today for further investigation at the Papua Police headquarters. A new Tigi Police chief will be installed in the next few days," the former National Police spokesman said in Jayapura on Monday.

An investigation team led by Papua Police's internal affairs division head has been scheduled to hold a case screening with the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to examine facts and evidence, Boy added.

On Sunday night, civil societies and activists held a candle light vigil at the Perumnas II Waena residential complex in Jayapura as an expression of concern over the incident. "The shooting has tarnished Indonesia's independence day that will be celebrated this month," rally coordinator Abner Waine said.

Timika Bishop John Saklil also condemned the shooting, calling it an abuse of state apparatus to attack civilians and a cruel crime against humanity. "All perpetrators must be held to account and tried in the human rights court," he said. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/07/police-chief-dismissed-following-deadly-shooting-in-deiyai.html

UN urged by Vanuatu to act on West Papua human rights

Radio New Zealand International - August 7, 2017

Vanuatu has urged the United Nations to take action on Indonesian human rights abuses in West Papua.

Speaking during a debate of the UN general assembly in New York, a Vanuatu representative said his government continued to receive reports of human rights violations in Papua.

Setareki Waqanitoga said hundreds of Papuans were recently arrested by Indonesian police for holding peaceful demonstrations.

Mr Waqanitoga welcomed acknowledgement of the Papua situation by UN Special Rapporteurs on basic rights. But he called on the UN Human Rights Council to do more.

"We call on the council to work with the Indonesian government to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to visit West Papua to get the objective and independent view of the situation on the ground in that region," he said.

"(We) also call on the government of Indonesia to grant free and full access of international journalists to West Papua, and allow a human rights fact-finding mission by the Pacific Islands Forum to visit West Papua."

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/336675/un-urged-by-vanuatu-to-act-on-west-papua-human-rights

Komnas HAM condemns police shooting unarmed civilians in Papua

Tempo - August 4, 2017

Egi Adyatama, Jakarta – The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has condemned police shooting of unarmed civilians in Deiyai, Papua, on Tuesday, August 1. President Joko Widodo is urged to address the conflict in Papua.

"Komnas HAM strongly condemned the shooting incident," Komnas HAM commissioner Maneger Nasution said in a written statement received by Tempo yesterday, August 3.

Papua Police spokesperson said that the incident started when locals attacked a construction camp in Tiga Selatan District, Papua. The police who guarded the area later fired warning shots that hit the residents.

The commissioner has called for a professional and independent police investigation. "Whoever did it, whatever the motive was, and whoever the intellectual actor was, must be held responsible," he said.

Maneger has also urged President Joko Widodo to take more serious actions to resolve conflicts in Papua, to take the initiative and lead the investigation into cases of human rights abuse in Papua.

Komnas Ham said that the cases ought to be resolved through dialogue in a peaceful, comprehensive and dignified manner.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2017/08/04/055897102/Komnas-HAM-Condemns-Police-Shooting-Unarmed-Civilians-in-Papua

Oneibo's victims shot by live ammunition

Tabloid JUBI - August 4, 2017

Deiyai, Jubi – As police quoted by various mass media saying the bullets that hit some victims in Oneibo village, Tigi district, Deiyai regency, Papua were rubber bullets, the witnesses and doctors in Deiyai hospital argued differently, since the reality proves otherwise.

"This is a 5.56 PIN caliber bullet, not a rubber bullet, don't slip the tongue, it's live ammunition, this is the proof," Elias Pakage, one of the victims' families showed the bullets to Jubi reporter in Deiyai Hospital emergency room, Wednesday (August 2).

He said, he has the evidence and will keep them properly for law enforcement purposes. "This is 5.56 PIN calibers. Who is this belongs to? The police or mobile brigade police?" he asked.

Elias claimed to know about bullets because he was a former soldier. He asked the Police leadership not to make things up by issuing unfounded statements.

He mentioned the name of Regional Papua Police's speaker which he thought was deceived by his own men. "Head of Public Relations of Papua Police, should see himself first before he talked to the mass media, I think he was cheated by his men in the field," he said.

Doctor Selvius Ukago, head of the Deiyai hospital admitted that he had seen evidence brought by the community when the victims were delivered.

"The bullet in my victim's body has not been seen because we could not conduct operation, but I see the bullet proof brought by the public that is a 5.56 PIN caliber," he said.

Previously, Head of Public Relations of Papua Police, Pol Kombes Ahmad Kamal said that only rubber bullets (rekoset) were used by police and Brimob in Deiyai shooting and the warning shot into the air was ignored by the masses. Kabid Humas also said no casualties were killed. But in fact, a victim died only 10 minutes after being brought to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the body of Yulianus Pigai, the victim killed by shootings, was placed in the core of Tigi Police Station in Wednesday (2/8/2017) morning by the family. The action was a symbol of protest against the sooting by the police and brimob.

The victim's family, Elias Pakage, said the body might not be buried if there was no serious response from the police and Brimob, and PT. Dewa Putera Paniai, the company who invited the apparatus to disperse the citizens.

"We will leave the body of Yulianus here alone, he will not be buried, let them (the police) 'eat the corps', they (the police) killed because they want to eat him," shouted Elias Pakage in front of Mapolsek Tigi, on Wednesday (2/8/2017).

Regional assistant of Deiyai government, Simon Mote said, in order to solve the problem he has invited the families of victims and officials to find a solution for the corpse to be buried.

"We mediate with the families of the victims first. It is not good to let the corpse decompose in front of the the station, we will talk about it," said Simon Mote.

"We public all to stay calm and find a solution whether to bury him at home or public graveyards, where it is important to save the soul and body of this deceased, let him rest in peace," he said.

Deiyai's chief tribe, Frans Mote, said the protest want to tell public and demand the police to have an understanding that man is a creation of God, who cannot be killed carelessly.

"We are both human, created by God, why there is a shooting to kill the victim again. That is why the people put the body in front of the polcie station. Weshould immediately find a solution. The obvious thing is the police and Brimob officers under the leadership of Tigi police chief, should be responsible," he said.

Until the news is written, reportedly the body of Yulianus Pigai is finally buried by the family in his home village, on Thursday (August 3).

Source: http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/oneibos-victims-shot-live-ammunition/

Indonesia rights body urges end to abuses in Papua after police shooting

Reuters - August 4, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesia's human rights commission on Thursday (03/08) urged President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to end rights violations in the country's easternmost province of Papua after police were alleged to have killed one person and wounded 16 others while trying to quell a protest.

The incident started on Tuesday when workers at a construction site in the province's Deiyai district refused to transport a man who had nearly drowned in a river to a hospital, local media Tabloid Jubi reported.

Residents were angry when the man eventually died and attacked the workers' camp and assaulted police officers who were summoned by the company, according to the news site.

Officers fired warning shots to disperse protesters, Papua police spokesman A.M. Kamal said. He disputed the number of victims in the subsequent altercation, saying police records showed nine residents, not 16, were wounded by the warning shots and one died from a wound in his leg.

"President Jokowi should take the initiative to solve human rights abuse cases in Papua through peaceful dialogues comprehensively... within the framework of a united Republic of Indonesia," Maneger Nasution, an official at Indonesia's Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), said in a statement, referring to the president by his nickname.

The commission – a state institution tasked with researching and mediating human rights abuse cases, independent from the government – has sent its members to Papua to investigate the incident, Maneger said.

The presidential spokesman has so far declined to comment on the incident. Natalius Pigai, another commissioner at the institution, called the incident "a serious human rights violation."

A heavy-handed approach by the police and military on behalf of companies "has happened for a long time, massively and systematically. More than 60 people have died because of cases like this," Natalius told Reuters.

Police spokesman Kamal said its internal investigation unit and commission members had begun questioning construction workers on Thursday. They would interview police officers involved in the incident on Friday.

Reports of human rights abuses often emerge from Papua, where a separatist movement has simmered for decades.

The International Coalition for Papua in its 2017 report said there was a significant aggravation of the human rights situation in Papua in 2015 and 2016 compared to previous years.

Indonesia took over the former Dutch colony after a widely criticized United Nations-backed referendum in 1969. Despite its rich resources, the province is among the poorest regions in Southeast Asia's largest economy.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-rights-body-urges-end-abuses-papua-police-shooting/

Protests against Papua's 'Act of Free Choice' held in several Indonesian cities

Tabloid JUBI - August 3, 2017

Jayapura – Papuan students from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the solidarity group the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) have held protests against the 1969 UN sponsored referendum on West Papua's integration with Indonesia (Pepera), which took place on July 14-August 2, 1969.

The protests, which took the form of public film showings and peaceful demonstrations, took place in several cities in Java as well as Ternate and North Maluku.

In the East Java capital of Surabaya, AMP Surabaya which had planned to hold a march from the Submarine Monument to the Grahadi Building was forced to cancel the action after being stopped by Surabaya district police. This was related to Tabloid JUBI by AMP action coordinator Nies Tabuni on Wednesday August 3.

"The police forcibly stopped our peaceful action that was to start at 9am. We tried to hold a dialogue with the police, intelligence officers and unidentified social organisations but they forced the protesters to disperse", said Nies.

A scuffle eventually broke out between the police, social organisations and the students who numbered around 20. The student then decided go back to the gathering point then return home to the Kamasan III Papuan student dormitory.

"Yet again there was a repressive response, this is a form of silencing space for expression and democracy for the Papuan people", he said.

Pepera not democratic

According to a joint statement by the FRI-WP and AMP received by Tabloid JUBI on August 3, the groups held peaceful protests in the cities of Jakarta, Bandung (West Java), Yogyakarta (Central Java) and Ternate (Maluku) to demand that the United Nations take responsibility straightening out the history of the Pepera and the integration of West Papua into Indonesia.

They also called on the UN to pass a resolution allowing for a new referendum on independence for the nation of West Papua in accordance with international law as a democratic solution for the nation and people of Papua.

According to the groups, when the Pepera was held on July 14-August 2, 1969, out of the 809,337 Papuans that had the right to vote, they were only represented by 1,025 people who had been quarantined beforehand and only 175 of them expressed an opinion.

"Meaning that the Pepera was not democratic, it will full of terror, intimidation and manipulation along with gross and systematic human rights violations", the groups said in the written statement.

Also according to the FRI-WP and AMP, the Pepera also violated the mandate of the 1962 New York Agreement for Indonesia to conduct an act of self-determination based on the international practice of "one man one vote".

The historical problem of the Pepera which continues to be challenged by some sections of Papuan society has become a stumbling block for the integration of Papua into Indonesia. The Indonesian government meanwhile continues to insist that Papua's integration is final.

According to Jennifer Robinson, an international lawyer who actively defended West Papua on the Al Jazeera news network on March 21, 2012, under the UN's supervision in the lead up to the 1969 Pepera, the Indonesian military has been accused of being responsible for the death of 30,000 Papuans.

"Frank Galbraith, the US Ambassador to Indonesia at the time warned that Indonesian military operations had 'triggered fear... and intentional genocide'. Australian journalist Hugh Lund, who was an eye witness to the Pepera, also reported that Papuan people carrying placards with 'one man one vote' to protest the Pepera were arrested and jailed, several others were murdered", she wrote.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "AMP dan FRI West Papua protes 48 tahun Pepera".]

Source: http://www.tabloidjubi.com/artikel-8367-amp-dan-fri-west-papua-protes-48-tahun-pepera.html

'A tragic, forgotten place.' Poverty and death in Indonesia's land of gold

Time - August 3, 2017

Febriana Firdaus/Enarotali and Jayapura, Papua – When Bardina Degei cooks dinner, she doesn't use a stove. She rarely even uses a pot. In her wooden home in Enarotali, the capital of Paniai regency in the restive Indonesian province of Papua, the housewife usually just places a sweet potato – known locally as "nota" – directly into the fireplace.

After half-an-hour, the charred tuber is retrieved and devoured with eager, unwashed hands. Degei sits on the mud floor – she has no furniture – which is where she also performs her daily chores, such as washing clothes with murky water from the nearby swamp. A bucket in a roofless room serves as a latrine. As the youngest of her husband's four wives, she has been assigned no fields to tend. (Polygamy is common here.) Of course, working late can be dangerous: Most of the village men are unemployed and many drink heavily, plus there are the soldiers. "No one dares to walk around the village after 5 p.m.," she says.

It's a rare glimpse of daily life in the highlands of Papua, a former Dutch colony that was absorbed into Indonesia in 1969 following a controversial referendum, when just 1,026 elders were forced to vote though a public show of hands before occupying troops. An existing movement agitating for independence against Dutch rule swiftly turned its ire against the Jakarta government, which maintains tight control over the region, barring foreign journalists or rights monitors. In 2003, the province was officially split into Papua and West Papua, with independent Papua New Guinea occupying the eastern part of the island.

Enarotali is as remote as it is desolate; the journey here involves a 90-minute flight from the provincial capital Jayapura to Nabire, and then a stomach-churning five-hour drive by hire car. (There is no public transport.) The town of some 19,000 people consists of wooden houses ringed by bamboo fencing, corrugated iron roofs transformed by rust into varying tawny shades.

Very few Indonesians have made the journey here, let alone journalists, and practically no foreigners. Before Christian missionaries arrived, Mee Pago Papuans worshiped a God named Uga Tamee. There were other changes, too. "We were not used to wearing these clothes," says Degei, indicating her vividly colored, hand-woven turban, dark shirt and a bright skirt. "Before, we only wore leaves on our bodies."

Papua is Indonesia's poorest province, where 28% of people live below the poverty line and with some of the worst infant mortality and literacy rates in Asia. But it is also Indonesia's land of gold. The world's largest and most profitable gold mine, Grasberg, owned by Phoenix-based Freeport McMoran, lies just 60 miles from Paniai, a highland province around the size of New Jersey and home to 153,000 people. In 2015 alone, Freeport mined some $3.1 billion worth of gold and copper here. In addition, Papua boasts timber resources worth an estimated $78 billion.

These riches are, however, a source of misery for Papuans, ensuring Indonesia's powerful military maintains a suffocating presence. A 2005 investigation in The New York Times reported that Freeport paid local military personnel and units nearly $20 million between 1998 and 2004, including up to $150,000 to a single officer. Papuan calls for greater autonomy threaten this golden goose, and are dealt with mercilessly.

According to rights activists, more than 500,000 Papuans have been killed, and thousands more have been raped, tortured and imprisoned by the Indonesian military since 1969. Mass killings in Papua's tribal highlands during the 1970s amounted to genocide, according to the Asia Human Rights Commission.

Indonesian police arrested more than 3,900 peaceful protesters in the region last year alone. We Will Lose Everything, a 2016 report by the Archdiocese of Brisbane, contains testimony of atrocities committed the previous year, such as extrajudicial executions, torture – rape and electrocution are especially popular, according to another report – and the brutal crushing of peaceful demonstrations. "It's difficult to count the number of victims as incidents happen every week," says Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

The screws have tightened as Papua's resources bring an influx of settlers from elsewhere in Indonesia. The province's 3.5 million population is 83% Christian, but the demographic is changing as Muslim economic migrants arrive from Indonesia's populous islands of Java, Borneo, Sumatra and Sulawesi. Javanese warung canteens sell fried chicken and gado-gado mixed-vegetables served with peanut sauce. Local people struggle to compete.

"The migrants started to sell chicken and vegetables in the traditional market cheaper than the local Papuans," explains Abeth You, a 24-year-old Paniai native who moved to the provincial capital Jayapura for work. "It made the native Papuans – the mama-mama [the women] of Papua – lose their market."

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, vowed to address the inequalities and rights abuses in Papua during his election campaign in 2014. The former carpenter secured 27 of Papua's total 29 districts – including Paniai – on the way to the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. But precious little has changed in Papua, and today local people feel betrayed.

"Our hearts have been broken because in 2014 we voted for Jokowi, with the expectation that he would fulfill our hopes for justice to be restored," You says.

'It was crowded, many shots were fired'

In fact, Paniai suffered a nadir just two months after Jokowi's October inauguration. On Dec. 7, 2014 a group of 11 children were outside singing Christmas carols in front of a bonfire in Enarotali when two Indonesian soldiers on a motorbike broke through the gloom. The startled children told them that they should turn on their headlights.

One of the soldiers took umbrage at their tone and later returned with four soldiers, according to local Pastor Yavedt Tebai. The soldiers, who had been drinking, chased and beat the group with their rifle butts, said victims and witnesses. Then one of the soldiers fired into the group of children. One child, 16-year-old Yulianus Yeimo, was beaten so badly he fell into a coma.

A couple of hours later, the nearby government Election Commission building was set ablaze, and things escalated the following day. About 1,000 young Papuan men, women and children gathered on a soccer field in front of the local police station and military command center to demand justice. They carried ceremonial hunting bows and performed the waita dance – running in circles and simulating birdsong – of Papua's Mee Pago tribe. Some protesters started hurling stones at police and military posts.

As tempers grew more heated, an order was sent to the soldiers through internal radio: "If the masses offer resistance more than three times, shoot them dead," it said, according to an official document seen by TIME that has not been released to the local media.

Yeremias Kayame, 56, the head of the Kego Koto neighborhood of Enarotali, saw the impending danger and appealed for calm, imploring the crowd to go back home. Nobody was in the mood to listen. "When I turned around I suddenly got shot in my left wrist," he told TIME on the porch of his brightly painted wooden house.

Kayame still doesn't know who fired but says the bullet came from the ranks of amassed soldiers. "It was crowded, many shots were fired," he adds.

Local man Alfius Youw was hit three times, according to his cousin who witnessed the shootings. "I ran to him and examined his body to make sure it was him," Yohanes, who like many Indonesians only goes by one name, told TIME somberly. "I saw he was dead... I kissed him."

The Papua Police Chief Inspector General Yotje Mende told reporters that his officers were only "securing" their station because it was under attack.

"We have to defend ourselves when people threaten to kill us," Papua Police spokesperson, Commissioner Pudjo Sulistiyo said in 2015. "It's a matter of life and death." According to Human Rights Watch, five young protesters were killed and many more injured.

'I'm afraid of being arrested by the military, afraid to be shot'

News of the killings only filtered through to Jakarta the following day. Three weeks later, Jokowi gave an impassioned speech in Jayapura, where he expressed sympathies with the victims' families and vowed to address the historic abuses in Papua. "I want this case to be solved immediately so it won't ever happen again in the future," he said.

Security Minister Wiranto said in October 2016 that he was setting up a non-judicial mechanism to settle historic human-rights violations. But the excuses started almost immediately. "Most of the violations occurred a long time ago. Some were in the '90s and in early 2000s. The point is we are committed to addressing these violations, but there are processes to go through," he said.

Then Wiranto backtracked when speaking to TIME in Jakarta on June 5, saying he has no plans to establish a grievance mechanism in Papua. Instead, "All will be [settled] by law," he said.

Wiranto, who the U.N. has indicted for "crimes against humanity" relating to more than 1,000 deaths during East Timor's bloody 1999 independence vote, said that 11 cases of human-rights violations in Papua have already been settled, including the Paniai incident.

Families of the Paniai victims greeted such claims with grim incredulity. "I've been interviewed four times for the past three years, but there has been no progress at all," Yohanes says. "I'm tired." He says that years later, he still lives in fear. "I'm afraid," he says. "I'm afraid of being arrested by the military, afraid to be shot."

His brother Yacobus echoed the view that people in Paniai are fearful of discussing the incident. He says he was beaten by the military after helping to bury four of the victims. "After burying the bodies, the military came looking for me," he says.

'A tragic, forgotten place'

The shootings haven't stopped. On Tuesday, Indonesian police shot at villagers in Paniai's neighboring Deiyai regency. One person died and 17 others were wounded, including children, during a confrontation between villagers and the manager of a construction company who refused to help transport an unconscious man to hospital.

The man, 24-year-old Ravianus Douw who drowned while he was fishing in a nearby river, died on the way to hospital. Incensed villagers protested in front of the company's site office. Police said the villagers threw rocks at officers, who responded by firing warning shots. But locals say the mobile brigade (Indonesian paramilitary police) began shooting at the crowd, killing one.

"We were so panicked, we are afraid there will be revenge," 29-year-old Dominggu Badii, who lives near the hospital and witnessed the injured being hurried in, tells TIME. "I have been hiding in my house for two days."

The Deiyai parliament has called for the officers involved to be held to account and the police mobile brigade to be withdrawn from the area.

Paniai has always been a trouble spot for the Indonesian government. The lack of meaningful development feeds the discontent of the tribal Mee, Moni, Dani, and Damal peoples, who live sprawled across Papua's verdant central highlands. Many joined the Free Papua Movement (OPM), the rebel army that claims to defend the rights of the Papuans by launching sporadic attacks and kidnapping raids on Indonesian soldiers. Some of the top OPM leaders hail from Paniai, including Tadius Yogi and Daniel Yudas Kogoya.

In response, thousands of people in Paniai have been arrested and arbitrarily detained by the military in recent years, under the guise of "safeguarding national sovereignty." Some never reappear. Among the people of Papua, Paniai is known as "a tragic, forgotten place."

Poverty feeds the discontent. The little rice on sale in Enarotali is too expensive for locals to buy. Bread is just as out of reach. People here grow everything they eat: mainly nota plus some fruit and leafy vegetables. Farming is the job of the women, who each can maintain four or five fields of the sweet potato. They usually keep most of the harvest for the family, with the rest sold in the local market. Ten pieces of nota cost only 10,000 Indonesian rupiah (75 cents).

Over time, economic inequalities have grown between the native Papuans and the new migrants, who have arrived in greater numbers since the opening of a new air routes to Nabire Airport. What few jobs exist typically go to the better-educated and wealthier migrants. Papuans rarely have the capital or the necessary skills to run their own businesses competitively.

"The young people are not interested to stay in the village... because there's no jobs or money here," says John Gobai, the chairman of the tribal council of Paniai.

'They don't need money, they just want justice'

Isolation keeps the world's eyes off Papua. In addition, reporting restrictions for international media remain tight. Earlier this year, French journalists Franck Escudie and Basille Longchamp were deported from Papua for a "lack of coordination with related institutions" despite having been granted rare permission to film.

According to Phelim Kine, Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, Jokowi's election campaign pledges to lift reporting restrictions to boost transparency and development have not been realized. "There are new hazards for foreign journalists attempting to report from Indonesia's restive easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua: visa denial and blacklisting," he said in a statement.

The lack of press scrutiny means international pressure on the Indonesian government has been largely limited to Papua's immediate neighbors. In March, six Pacific nations – Tonga, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, and the Solomon Islands – urged the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate the "various and widespread violations" in Papua, including the Paniai shooting. These same countries have historically backed the OPM.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir shrugged off the group's allegations, telling journalists in Jakarta, "In Indonesia, a democratic system still applies and there's free media so it's hard for the evidence of human rights cases to be covered up."

Local people want more foreign governments to take note. When an official delegation from the Netherlands, headed by the nation's human rights ambassador Kees Van Baar, visitedJayapura on May 4, local people broke their silence, beseeching, "We want freedom," according to a source who also attended the meeting but who asked to stay anonymous.

Indonesia has another presidential election in 2019, but Papuans say they are unlikely to vote again for Jokowi. "Jokowi is a person who has good intentions, but he is surrounded by the people who are involved in the Paniai shooting," says Gobai, the tribal council chairman.

He wants Jokowi to know that the Paniai people, aside from living under the looming threat of a rapacious military, wallow in destitution, with paltry education and health services.

Gobai says the Paniai people, like other Papuans, consider their vote to Jokowi as a "debt" he must repay. "They don't need money, they just want justice," he says.

Despite the threats and intimidation, families of the Paniai shooting victims carried out one last symbolic act of defiance: burying one victim's body on land just opposite the police and military station. Knowing that justice may never be served, at least they won't let those responsible forget their crimes. "A member of our family has been killed," says Yacobus, head bowed. "What else could we do?"

Source: http://time.com/4880190/papua-poverty-shootings-justice-paniai/

West Papua protest: Indonesian police kill one and wound others – reports

The Guardian (Australia) - August 3, 2017

Helen Davidson – Indonesian paramilitary police have shot and killed one person and wounded a number of others at a protest in a West Papuan village, according to human rights groups and local witnesses.

A 28-year-old man was reportedly killed during the incident in Deiya regency on Tuesday afternoon, and up to seven wounded, including at least two children.

The regency's parliament has reportedly called for the arrest of the officers involved, and for the withdrawal of the police mobile brigade, known as Brimob.

The incident began after workers at a nearby construction site refused to assist locals in taking a man to hospital, after he was pulled from the river.

After a five hour delay in sourcing another vehicle the man died on his way to hospital, according to local sources. Angry relatives and friends protested against the construction company, allegedly attacking a worker's camp – believed to be primarily from Sulawesi – and destroying some buildings.

Authorities were called to the protest, and Associated Press reported police alleged protesters kidnapped a worker, which protesters denied.

"The joint forces of police, mobile brigade police and army officers came. Did not ask questions but shot several youths," Father Santon Petege told West Papuan information site, Tabloid Jubi. "There were no warning shots at all," witness, Elias Pakage said. "Officers immediately fired on the unarmed villagers."

A human rights lawyer investigating the case, who requested to remain anonymous, also said there was no verbal warning from authorities, and she labeled the incident an extrajudicial killing. "When they arrive they just shoot. They used guns and violence and shoot directly," she said.

Unconfirmed reports said 17 people were shot by the police mobile brigade, including the deceased man and a number of children.

According to local media, police denied they shot directly at the protesters, but rather at the ground and hit four people after warning shots failed to calm the situation.

The head of public relations for Papua police, Kombes A.M. Kamal denied anyone died other than a person who was critically ill, and alleged protesters had attacked an employee. A separate report quoted the spokesman as saying the police only fired rubber bullets.

The lawyer said the police spokesman's claims were not true, that the hospital doctor had recognised the injuries as bullet wounds, and that one young man died of his injuries, not an illness. A police report cited by AP said a 28-year-old man died instantly after being shot multiple times.

Dr Eben Kirksey, a senior lecturer at UNSW, said there was often a "disinformation campaign" by authorities following incidents in West Papua.

Kirksey said history had shown investigations rarely translated into prosecutions, and prosecutions often saw light sentences. "If we look at the history, of when there is evidence of security force misconduct I don't have much hope."

The Asian Human Rights Commission called for a full transparent investigation by human rights groups, and for the officers to be held accountable.

There are frequent reports of violence and mass arrests by authorities against West Papuans, the indigenous people of an Indonesia-controlled region on the western half of an island shared with Papua New Guinea, and which has battled for independence for decades. But information is difficult to verify, largely because of the restrictions on foreign media.

In 2015 Indonesian president Joko Widodo announced the lifting of the media ban for the province, but in reality, government clearing houses vet media visits and maintain restrictions. Two French journalists were deported earlier this year for reporting without the required visa.

The Jakarta Post on Wednesday called for the government to open up the province to the world's media, noting the significant gains made by a "relentless" independence campaign. It argued Jokowi should stop hiding his government's purported improvements and developments in the region.

"At almost every turn, we are being outmaneuvered by campaigners who want to see Papua separate from Indonesia. And yet the Indonesian government has done very little to counter it," it said.

"By maintaining this restriction, the government is operating like a paranoid regime, afraid the outside world may find the skeletons it hides in its closet. If the government has done much to improve the lives of Papuans, why not show it to the world?"

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/03/west-papua-protest-indonesian-police-kill-one-and-wound-others-reports

NZ govt rejects West Papua human rights petition

Radio New Zealand International - August 3, 2017

A parliamentary committee in New Zealand has turned down a call to push for a UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression to visit West Papua.

A human rights petition, organised by West Papua Action Auckland and supported by other human rights groups and Catholic and Anglican church leaders, had sought for New Zealand to condemn the arrest and intimidation of peaceful protestors.

A spokesperson for the petitioners Maire Leadbetter said the Foreign Affairs Committee had instead opted for what she calls a 'business as usual approach that will mean little more than occasional inoffensive chats with Indonesian authorities and comments during the UN Universal Periodic Review process'.

Ms Leadbetter said she was pleased the committee doesn't deny human rights breaches in West Papua, but she was appalled Foreign Affairs officials told the committee that there was doubt about whether torture occurs in West Papua.

She said this flies in the face of extensive documentation from numerous human rights, church and academic reports all of which describes the use of torture in West Papua as endemic.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/336400/nz-govt-rejects-west-papua-human-rights-petition

Kompolnas monitors legal process of Deiyai shooting incident

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2017

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jakarta – A recent shooting incident in Bomou village, Tigi district, Deiyai, Papua, that claimed the life of civilian Yulius Pigai, 28, has attracted the attention of the National Police Commission (Kompolnas), which has promised to monitor the legal process of the case.

Kompolnas member Poengky Indarti said all police personnel who had been on duty and handled security operations when the incident occurred on Tuesday must be investigated to determine whether procedure in the use of firearms was in line with National Police Chief Regulation (Perkap) No.8/2009 on the implementation of human rights standards and principles in the organizing of police duties.

"There were dead and injured victims in the incident so both on-duty police personnel and security procedures should be investigated," Poengky told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

"If criminal acts are found to have happened, there must be criminal sanctions, in addition to disciplinary and code of ethics sanctions."

Poengky said Kompolnas would monitor the legal process of the Deiyai shooting, starting from investigation to the imposition of sanctions.

Peace for Papua Network coordinator Rev. Neles Tebay deplored the incident. "Shooting perpetrators in Deiyai could lead to punishment. We should be aware, however, that the incident has caused a new wound in the hearts of Papuan people. State-sponsored violence such as the shooting can have a fatal impact for Indonesia," said Neles.

With such violence, it will be difficult to hope that nationalism can grow in the hearts of Papuans, he said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/03/kompolnas-monitors-legal-process-of-deiyai-shooting-incident.html

Relatives of Papua shooting victims call on police to take responsibility

Radio New Zealand International - August 3, 2017

A relative of villagers in Indonesia's Papua region caught up in a fatal police shooting says they're calling for the police to take responsibility for the incident.

Amatus Douw's relatives were among victims shot in a confrontation with paramilitary police in the Deiyai district on Tuesday. According to reports up to 16 people were also injured, some of them critically, among them teenagers.

Mr Douw is a pro-independence activist for West Papua and lives in Australia after obtaining political asylum in 2006. He had been in contact with his family and he said the dead man's body was placed in front of the police office in Deiyai yesterday after the shooting.

"Without asking, without advocat(ing) the issue, they just shoot and shoot. Uncompromised. They are really sad and very worried," Said Amatus Douw. Mr Douw said his people were worried because more police and military have been deployed to the district.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/336435/relatives-of-papua-shooting-victims-call-on-police-to-take-responsibility

Students rally for West Papuan independence in Bali

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2017

Ni Komang Erviani, Denpasar, Bali – Around 30 students of the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) Bali held a rally on Wednesday to demand West Papuan independence.

They staged the demonstration at a location near the US Consular Agency office in Denpasar, Bali, as the police did not allow them to hold the rally in front of the office as initially planned.

AMP spokesman Wolker said the rally was held to commemorate the 48th year of the Papuan People's Free Choice (Pepera) in 1969. "The Papuan People's Free Choice was not democratic; [it was] full of terror, intimidation and manipulation. Severe human rights violations also occurred at that time," Wolker said.

In a statement, AMP said that 175 out of 809,337 Papuans cast their vote in the Pepera in 1969 and that all of them had been "quarantined" before the voting day.

"Since then, [acts of] colonialism, imperialism and militarism have been committed by the Indonesian government," it said in the statement.

The group's activists held the rally at the US Consular Agency as they believe the US government interfered in the Pepera. "Papua should get freedom," they yelled during the rally.

They also demanded that the government shut down multinational companies' activities in Papua, such as those of Freeport, LNG Tangguh and Medco.

Furthermore, they called for the release of Obby Kogoya, a Papuan student in Yogyakarta who was sentenced to one-year probation with four years' imprisonment if he reoffends during probation for resisting police arrest during a protest in Yogyakarta last year. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/02/students-rally-for-west-papuan-independence-in-bali.html

One man dead, several injured in West Papua shooting

Radio New Zealand International - August 2, 2017

Reports from West Papua say one man is dead and up to 16 people have been injured in a police shooting.

The local newspaper Tabloid Jubi reported seven children are among those who were injured in the incident in Deiyai district on Tuesday. Four of the injured were airlifted to hospital in Nabire on Wednesday according to a human rights lawyer who deals with West Papua. Tabloid Jubi reported the security forces were called to deal with a group who were complaining a company hadn't assisted when a man needed help to get to hospital after drowning.

The lawyer Veronica Koman spoke to an eye witness to the shooting and has seen photos of the injured.

"The company called Brimob (Mobile Brigade Corps). Brimob is a special taskforce of police and Brimob taskforce came and just shooting at people. As a lawyer I think it's not proportional, even if they were angry but it's not necessary to shoot randomly at people. Like children got injured," Veronika Koman said.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/336361/one-man-dead-several-injured-in-west-papua-shooting

1965 anti-communist purge

Indonesia again silences 1965 massacre victims

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - August 7, 2017

Phelim Kine – Indonesian police and military personnel last week forced the cancellation of a public workshop on financial compensation for victims of the country's 1965-1966 mass killings. Security forces "interrogated and intimidated" workshop organizers, claiming they lacked a permit.

The strong-arm reaction reflects a tenacious, decades-long official taboo on public discussions of the massacre as part of efforts by successive governments to absolve those responsible. That's because in October 1965, the government gave free rein to soldiers and local militias to kill anyone they considered a "communist." Over the next few months, at least 500,000 people were killed (the total may be as high as one million). The victims included members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), ethnic Chinese, trade unionists, teachers, activists, and artists.

In the 52 years since, Indonesian officials have justified the mass killings as a necessary defense against the Communist Party. In October 2012, then-Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto responded to findings of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) that the events of 1965-66 constituted a "gross human rights violation" by insisting that those killings were justified.

However, public discussion about the killings has increased in recent years, substantially aided since 2012 by release of the documentary films The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence. In April 2016 the government sponsored a two-day symposium that allowed Indonesians to hear an alternate account from survivors and victims' family members. They described crimes by government security forces and paramilitary groups under their control, including mass executions and kidnappings, rampant rape and wrongful detention.

That month, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ordered an official effort to document the location of the victims' mass graves. In May 2016, the government announced that it would form a team to investigate a list of 122 alleged mass grave sites compiled by victims' advocacy groups.

But since then, there has been deafening silence from the government. The security forces' unwillingness to allow public discussion of compensation suggests that elements within the government and the security forces want to protect perpetrators even at the expense of redress for the victims. Jokowi will need to step in again or the victims and their suffering will go unrecognized and uncompensated.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/08/07/indonesia-again-silences-1965-massacre-victims

International People's Tribunal 1965 event forced to move after being closed

CNN Indonesia - August 2, 2017

Bimo Wiwoho, Jakarta, CNN Indonesia – A workshop held by activists and volunteers from the 1965 Indonesia People's Tribunal (IPT 65) at the Wisma Samadi in Klender, East Jakarta, was yesterday forcibly closed down by police, the TNI (Indonesian military) and local government officials. The event was later moved to the offices of the Jakarta Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (LBH).

IPT 65 activist Dianto Bahriadi said that security personnel and government officials arrived at the at the workshop, which was to discuss and evaluate plans to resolve human rights violations in 1965, several hours before it was due to start.

"[There was] security personnel from the East Jakarta district police intelligence unit represented by Assistant Superintendent Sianturi, the District Military Command (Koramil) along with local officials and several intelligence officers", said Dianto during a press conference at the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) offices in Jakarta on Wednesday August 2.

On the grounds that the event did not have a permit, the organising committee was asked to cancel the workshop. Dianto said that the committee did not have a permit because they did not consider it necessary. This he said was because the workshop was not being held at a public venue so it did not require one.

LBH Jakarta lawyer Pratiwi Febby expressed her objections to the reasons given by officials. According to Pratiwi, people only need to notify police if it is a public event, meanwhile the IPT 65 workshop was held at a closed venue. "Please go ahead and check, whether or not the IPT 65 meeting was held at a public venue", said Pratiwi.

According to Pratiwi, people only need to notify police if they want to hold an event that will include festivities or is attended by hundreds of people. If not, people are not obliged to notify the police. "I think there were only 20 to 30 people yesterday so it did not need to obtain a permit", said Pratiwi.

Another IPT 65 activist, Reza Muharam, said that prior to the request to cancel the event, the officials arrived claiming that they had received a report from residents that the IPT 65 was to hold an event at the venue.

However when asked who made the report, the officials were unable to provide a satisfactory answer. "They said there was a report from a resident. What report? What were they talking about, no one knew we wanted to hold an event there. It was a closed event", said Reza.

Based on these grounds, which were quite unsatisfactory, Reza concluded that by their actions the police did indeed intentionally seek to cancel the event.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Dibubarkan Polisi, Lokakarya 65 Pindah ke LBH".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20170802182709-20-232013/dibubarkan-polisi-lokakarya-65-pindah-ke-lbh

International People's Tribunal calls for Wiranto to be sacked after workshop on

Tirto.id - August 2, 2017

Satya Adhi – An event held to discuss human rights violations that occurred in 1965-1966 has again been closed down by government officials. This time it was an evaluation and planning workshop on human rights violations in 1965-1966 held by the International People's Tribunal (IPT '65) in Klender, East Jakarta, on Tuesday August 1.

Several hours before the workshop as to begin, the organising committing was visited by officials from the East Jakarta district police, the Duren Sawit sub-district military command (Koramil) and the East Jakarta administrative district. The officials told the committee and the venue management to cancel the workshop because it did not have a permit.

Workshop coordinator Dianto Bachriadi said that the official's intervention had no legal basis. "Because this [workshop] was an activity held in a closed venue, not in a public venue, it was not a demonstration that would disturb public order", asserted Dianto. Therefore, he continued, a permit and prior notification with police was not required.

Because of the intervention, the workshop was moved to the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) offices in the Menteng area of Central Jakarta. "In the end we moved the event because we didn't want to cause problems for the venue management", said Dianto.

Dianto said that interventions such as this represent a step back for democracy. "We feel as if we are experiencing deja vu [like back] in the New Order [regime of former President Suharto]. This shows that there has been a retreat in democratic life and the upholding of human rights", he added.

Dianto also said he deplores the communist stigma that is still attached to events discussing human rights violations. "Discussing the rights of victims of 1965 is always cited as an effort to revive communism. Yet we are only discussing the rights of victims. So why [the stigmatisation]? Why are there such widespread objections [by society]", he added.

A similar view was expressed by YLBHI lawyer Pratiwi Febry (Tiwi). "A [request] for a permit [from the police] is only required for large gatherings and fireworks displays. A gathering of at least 500 people. Meanwhile at yesterday's workshop there were only 20-30 people. Plus a notification [to police] is only required if it is held at a public venue", she explained.

Tiwi also questioned the involvement of Indonesian military (TNI) officers. "For what reason was Koramil involved? What authority does the military have to be involved in civil affairs?", she asked. Because of this therefore, asserted Tiwi, the intervention by government officials was a legal violation.

Duren Sawit Koramil Commander (Danramil) Sianturi meanwhile said that he did not want it said that they had closed down the workshop. "It wasn't closed down. We just asked about a permit for the activity", he said. "Because by chance the event was held in my area. We were just backing up the police".

Call to sack Wiranto

Amnesty International Indonesia member Usman Hamid said that interference and forced closures such as this go against the government's commitment to resolve human rights violations. "This shows degeneration in the government's position. It clearly goes against the commitment made by Jokowi to resolve cases of human rights violations", he said.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has said through his Twitter account that cases of human rights violations must be quickly resolved. "Dealing with cases of corruption, abuse, human rights violations and the like have to be completed, this must be accelerated for the sake of the public's sense of justice", said Jokowi.

Responding to this Usman said that he still sees a desire on the part of the government to resolved cases of human rights violations. "There is still a commitment that the government wishes to demonstrate. If officials are carrying out forced closures such as this it means that lower level officials are opposing the wishes of the president", he asserted.

Usman also questioned President Widodo's appointment of Widodo as Coordinating Minister for Politics, Security and Legal Affairs (Menko Polhukam) in mid-2016. "As long as the Menko Polhukam is not replaced, closures such as this could continue to happen", asserted Usman.

In the same vein as Usman, 1965 International People's Tribunal (IPT '65) member Reza Muharam said that ever since Wiranto replaced Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan as Coordinating Minister for Politics, Security and Legal Affairs (Polhukam), there has been no improvement in the resolution of the 1965 mass killings and other human rights crimes.

"Since Wiranto took office, there has not been one single initiative to follow up on the results of the Symposium on 1965. To this day the recommendations are being kept under wraps by Pak Wiranto", said Reza.

Reza also conceded that he does not believe that Wiranto will resolve cases of human rights violations in Indonesia. "I still have hope [in Jokowi], but I don't trust Wiranto", asserted Reza.

As has been reported, the government has made a commitment to resolved cases of human rights violations. In his Nawacita [nine point priority program], Widodo made a commitment to resolve through judicial means cases of pass human rights violations.

These include, among others, the May 1998 riots in Jakarta, the Trisakti and Semanggi I and II student shootings, the abduction of activists in 1997-98, the Talang Sari-Lampung case, the Tanjung Priok shootings and, of course, the mass killings in 1965.

This commitment was again demonstrated with the holding of the government-sponsored Symposium on 1965 in April last year. The symposium followed a verdict by the IPT '65 in the Den Haag, Netherlands, on November 10-13, 2015, which found that the state was guilty of 10 gross human rights crimes.

These crimes included mass murder, extermination, incarceration, slavery, torture, forced disappearances, sexual violence, deportation, false propaganda, the involvement of other countries and genocide. So far however, the results of the recommendations of the 1965 Symposium have not yet been released.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Lokakarya Dibubarkan, IPT '65 Desak Jokowi Copot Wiranto".]

Source: https://tirto.id/lokakarya-dibubarkan-ipt-03965-desak-jokowi-copot-wiranto-ctNM

Labour & migrant workers

JICT issues first warning letter to striking workers: Senior exec

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) management has issued a warning letter to demand the workers to end their strike, a senior JICT executive has said.

"We have issued the first warning letter (SP1) to call on workers to return to work, because the strike does not favor any party," JICT vice president director Riza Erivan said in Jakarta on Sunday as reported by kompas.com.

The SP1 is part of the human resources management system and if it is ignored or unheeded, a company can issue second and third warning letter that could end with the workers' dismissal.

The workers, who have been on strike since Aug. 3, plans to end their action on Thursday. Riza said the workers who wanted to resume working were required to complete and to sign a form prepared by JICT management that could be submitted by email or through the company's WhatsApp group.

Riza said the management also guaranteed the safety of those workers who returned to work. "We have sterilized the office. They can return to work on Monday (Aug. 7)," he added.

The workers had question the payment of US$80 million in rental fees to state-owned seaport operator PT Pelindo II, which they claimed had caused a drop in their annual bonuses.

Riza explained that payments started in 2015, when an agreement between the two companies went into effect. Meanwhile, JICT finance director Budi Cahyono said JICT management had paid Rp 47 billion ($3.53 million) of the 2016 bonuses in May 2017. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/07/jict-issues-first-warning-letter-to-striking-workers-senior-exec.html

JICT workers strike, demand 'full payment' of bonuses

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2017

Jakarta – More than 650 workers of the Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) at North Jakarta's Tanjung Priok port have gone on strike Thursday, demanding the balance of their bonuses, which they claim had been reduced by 42 percent.

The strike has crippled operations of the largest container terminal in the country, which handles 70 percent of Greater Jakarta's exports and imports.

The container terminal service company stands to lose hundreds of billions of rupiah if the workers go ahead with their plan to continue their strike through Aug. 10.

The strike started when the workers closed the terminal at 3 a.m., JICT workers union secretary general M. Firmansyah said in a written statement.

"We are on strike because the renewal of our contracts in 2015 had violated existing regulations and caused our bonuses to be cut by 42 percent," Firmansyah said.

The union said JICT's revenues had increased by 4.6 percent in 2016, while the bonuses for the company's directors and commissioners were raised by 18 percent.

According to Firmansyah, the union suspected that JICT, whose annual income was between Rp 3.5 trillion (US$262.55 million) and Rp 4 trillion, was targeted by foreign investors, while JICT management treated their workers unjustly by cutting their bonuses. (dis/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/03/jict-workers-strike-demand-full-payment-of-bonuses.html

McDermott lays off 1,200 workers in Batam

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2017

Fadli, Batam, Riau Islands – United States-based oil-industry support company PT McDermott Indonesia laid off 1,200 workers in Batam, Riau Islands, in the period between May and June, the largest number of layoffs since it began operations in 1973.

Batam Manpower Agency head Rudi Syakyakirty said on Wednesday that the company had reported that the move was made because of deteriorating business conditions in the island.

"The layoffs were implemented because there were no orders," Rudi told The Jakarta Post, adding that the layoffs had been conducted properly.

The company, whose factory occupies a 107-hectare site, still employs some 1,000 workers, the official said. Rudi said McDermott, which used to employ up to 10,000 workers in Batam, did not report any plan to close its factory on the island.

However, he admitted that since July 2016 some 46 businesses had closed because of the economic slowdown, causing some 3,000 people to lose their jobs. "Those small companies had to close because they had no work," he added.

Spokesman for Batam Free Trade Zone Andiantono Purnomo said the layoffs were caused mainly by the decline in oil prices. "If the oil price picks up, McDermott's business will recover again," he said.

Meanwhile, PT McDermott Indonesia general affairs manager Raja Muhammad Amin declined to comment on the issue, saying he had no authority to talk to reporters. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/02/mcdermott-lays-off-1200-workers-in-batam.html

Freedom of speech & expression

Police proceed with charges against comedian over apartment complaints

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – The Jakarta Police have completed a case dossier on a standup comedian who complained about Green Pramuka City apartments in Cempaka Putih and will submit the file to the Central Jakarta Prosecutor's Office on Monday.

The charges against Muhadkly, popularly known as Acho, 31, have sparked concern among right groups and apartment residents, who say his complaints represent their voices.

"The suspect is at the Jakarta Police headquarters and the case will be handed over to prosecutors," Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono told The Jakarta Post on Monday morning.

Acho has been named a defamation suspect for writing a complaint on his personal blog after he said he had been repeatedly disappointed by the response to his complaints to the management of Green Pramuka City, where he resides.

In the blog entry posted in March 2015, Acho complained about high parking fees at the apartment compound and the lack of deeds residents should have been given after purchasing apartments. He also advised people to be cautious when considering purchasing an apartment there. Should prosecutors declare the case dossier complete, Acho will stand trial.

Apartment management firm PT Duta Paramindo Sejahtera reported Acho to the police, accusing him of online defamation. Acho was named a criminal suspect in June and was charged under the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, which carries a maximum four years' imprisonment.

Members of the public have set up an online petition to urge the developer to drop the case.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/07/police-proceed-with-charges-against-comedian-over-apartment-complaints.html

Freedom of assembly & association

No set plan to ban other organizations: Minister

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2017

Jakarta – Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly has said the government has no plan at this point to disband other mass organizations after it banned Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) for being against Pancasila state ideology on July 19. Laoly said on Thursday that although the police had indicated that other organizations could share the same fate, it could not be done without sufficient evidence.

The HTI was disbanded following the issuance of Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) No.2/2017 on mass organizations.

Earlier, National Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul said two or three mass organizations had been reported for being anti-Pancasila.

"The National Police said they found some indications. We will first examine the reports. We hope with all of these, we will be really committed to protecting this nation together. Our state ideology is clear – Pancasila. The form of our country, namely the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, is clear as well. We must protect them," said Yasonna as quoted by Antara at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

He re-asserted that there was no definite plan to disband other mass organizations. "Just wait and see. We will do it one by one. We will first examine them," he said.

Perppu No.2/2017 was issued as the government considered Law No.17/2013 on mass organizations inadequate to prevent the spread of ideologies that were contrary to Pancasila and the Constitution. The Perppu gives the government the power to disband any organization without due process. (saf/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/03/no-set-plan-to-ban-other-organizations-minister.html

Political parties & elections

PKS joins Gerindra in legal action against Viktor's caliphate remarks

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) has reported NasDem Party lawmaker Viktor Laiskodat to the National Police over his controversial caliphate remarks, making the PKS the second opposition party to file a criminal lawsuit against the pro-government politician.

The Gerindra Party reported Viktor in response to widely spread footage of him accusing Gerindra and the PKS, along with two other opposition parties, the Democratic Party and the National Mandate Party (PAN), as being supporters of a caliphate.

Representing the party, Zainudin Paru, who heads the PKS' law and human rights division, went to the police's criminal investigation division on Monday to file a report against Viktor for allegedly defaming the PKS in a speech he delivered recently in his electoral district of Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara.

"Viktor explicitly said that four parties, including Gerindra, the Democratic Party, the PKS and the PAN, were supporters of a caliphate and extremists, because we opposed the Perppu [regulation in lieu of law] on mass organizations," Zainudin said.

Zainudin was referring to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's recently issued regulation to ban hardline groups promoting activities against the state ideology of Pancasila. "It is a false and cruel accusation to say that we support the extremists as well as the caliphate," Zainudin added. (ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/07/pks-joins-gerindra-in-legal-action-against-viktors-caliphate-remarks.html

PKB unperturbed by parties' support for Jokowi's reelection

Jakarta Post - August 5, 2017

Jakarta – The National Awakening Party (PKB) will not declare support for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's reelection in the near future, a party executive has said.

PKB deputy secretary-general Daniel Johan said the party had yet to discuss which presidential candidate the Islamic party would support in the 2019 presidential election because it did not want to affect Jokowi's performance.

"[We want] the government to focus on its work. We want the government to focus on serving the people so that it will be successful," he said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com.

Of the seven government coalition parties, only the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the PKB, and the National Mandate Party (PAN) have yet to decide whether to support Jokowi in 2019.

The Golkar Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the NasDem Party and the Hanura Party have all declared support for Jokowi's reelection.

Daniel gave assurances that the PKB would continue to support Jokowi's current administration until 2019. He said the PKB would rather prepare for the upcoming simultaneous 2018 regional elections.

Hanura declared support for Jokowi in the 2019 presidential election during its national leadership meeting in Bali on Aug. 4-5. The PPP declared its support in its national meeting last month. (ecn/bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/05/pkb-unperturbed-by-parties-support-for-jokowis-reelection.html

Nasdem lawmaker reported to police over caliphate remarks

Jakarta Post - August 5, 2017

Jakarta – The head of the Nasdem faction at the House of Representatives, Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat, has been reported to the National Police's criminal investigation department (Bareskrim) for allegedly defaming the Gerindra Party.

Viktor was reported by Gerindra executive Iwan Sumule on Friday for delivering a speech in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, that allegedly included sectarian content.

"I report this as an individual and as a member of Gerindra, without any instruction from my party" Iwan said, as quoted by Antara.

Iwan claimed to have video footage of Viktor telling his constituents that Gerindra, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the Democratic Party and the National Mandate Party supported Islamic extremism.

He even allegedly accused the four parties of supporting the creation of an Islamic caliphate. Iwan said that Viktor's statement in the video could potentially provoke anger among Muslims in various regions.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/05/nasdem-lawmaker-reported-to-police-over-caliphate-remarks.html

Gerindra deputy chair reported to police for calling PDI-P 'communist': PDI-P

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2017

Jakarta – Gerindra Party's deputy chairman, Arief Payuono, has been reported to the Jakarta Police for allegedly defaming the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) by equating the ruling party with the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), a PDI-P official said on Wednesday.

Arief was reported by PDI-P legal head Fajri Syafi'i on Wednesday, although he had sent a letter of apology to the party's chairwoman, Megawati Soekarno Putri, a former Indonesian president.

"He [Arief] considers PDI-P to be a deceiver like the Indonesian Communist Party. How we were likened to communists was the basis of our report," Fajri said on Wednesday as quoted by tribunnews.com.

Arief made the comparison when criticizing the PDI-P and President Joko Widodo for supporting the presidential threshold in the newly issued election law. In the comparison, Arief said: "It is understandable that the PDI-P has always been equated with the PKI. It always makes political jokes and deceives the people."

The presidential threshold is the minimum support required for political parties or a coalition of parties to be able to nominate a presidential candidate. Some political parties, including Gerindra, had wanted to scrap the presidential threshold.

Despite Arief's apology, in which he clarified that he did "not mean to equate the PDI-P with the PKI", Fajri said the Gerindra politician should be held accountable according to law. Fajri reported Arief to police by submitting as evidence copies of published news in which Arief was quoted making the statement. (Saf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/03/gerindra-deputy-chair-reported-to-police-for-calling-pdi-p-communist-pdi-p.html

Nationalism & state ideology

Minister warns new UI students about 'liberalism, communism, radicalism'

Jakarta Post - August 5, 2017

Bagus Saragih, Jakarta – Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has warned new university students about the "threat" of liberalism, communism and radicalism.

He made the statement while delivering a general lecture before thousands of new students at the University of Indonesia at the university's campus in Depok, West Java, on Friday. Also attending the lecture was rector Muhammad Anis.

"There are real threats faced by Indonesian youth today, such as drug abuse. However, the greater challenge is the non-physical threat against Pancasila, which could ultimately threaten the nation's unity and resilience," the minister said as quoted in a release made available to The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

"Ideological threats are attempting to damage our mindset through the influence of 'materialism'. Materialist ideology here is liberalism, communism, socialism and religious radicalism," the retired Army general added.

He said the government had launched the so-called "smart power" defense strategy to combine a soft power approach, or regional security diplomacy, with hard power, which centers on the strengthening of the military.

The ministry has stepped up efforts to promote the state defense program to a wider audience by teaming up with several government institutions and civil organizations.

The ministry, for example, has signed a cooperation agreement with the Law and Human Rights Ministry, the Culture and Education Ministry, the Social Affairs Ministry, the Communications and Information Ministry and dozens of community groups to encourage all civilians, particularly children, to love the Republic of Indonesia and to be willing to defend national unity.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/05/minister-warns-new-ui-students-about-liberalism-communism-radicalism.html

Internet & social media

Indonesia, Google to use Trusted Flagger program to filter out internet content

Jakarta Post - August 4, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – Indonesia and Google have agreed to implement the Trusted Flagger program, which reviews flagged content and removes content deemed inappropriate for the internet on websites such as YouTube.

Trusted Flagger is a program in which volunteers, who have been accepted through an application process, are given the authority to flag content that violates the terms of service or community guidelines of Google's websites. Google then reviews the flagged content and determines whether to remove it.

Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara said that, currently, the program was being tested and that he expected it to be launched within the next two to three months. Read also: Facebook forms team to tackle hoaxes in Indonesia

He said the government would involve several non-governmental organizations such as Wahid Institute, ICT Watch and Anti-Defamation Society of Indonesia (Mafindo) as content moderators.

"With such a transparent panel system that involves the public, there is no room for someone to abuse their authority," Rudiantara said during a press conference in Jakarta on Friday, adding that the program would increase the response time of removal requests.

"Based on our experience, only 50 percent of the take down requests were responded to quickly. We do not want the rest of the 50 percent to snowball."

Google policy and government affairs director for Greater China and Southeast Asia Ann Lavin said the Trusted Flagger program was implemented in June in the US and some European countries.

"We have seen this program in the US and a number of European countries but this might be the first time [it is implemented] in Southeast Asia," Lavin said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/04/indonesia-google-to-use-trusted-flagger-program-to-filter-out-internet-content.html

Environment & natural disasters

One million hectares of oil palm plantation illegal in Riau

Antara News - August 7, 2017

Padang, W Sumatra – Around one million hectares of oil palm plantations are illegal in Riau, Director General of Ecosystem and Natural Resources Conservation of the Environment and Forestry Ministry Wiratno has said.

The plantation are located in state forests, Wiratno told a seminar on the role of the private sector in conservation of Harimau tigers at the Andalas University here.

"Generally, they are located in state forest areas beyond effective coverage of control by government," he said here on last weekend.

The perpetrators, mostly people from other regions outside Riau cleared the forests to open plantations, he said. He said the government could not fully control the areas partly because of limited number of officers.

The impact is narrowing forest areas and the habitat of wildlife including Sumatra tigers, he said.

Wiratno did not say if any legal action had been taken against the illegal oil palm plantations. Oil palm plantations had been blamed environmentalists for extensive damage to the countrys tropical forests.

The European Parliament has even approved a resolution to boycott the countrys palm oil and derivatives for alleged damage to the countrys forests by oil palm plantation companies.

Wiratno only said that solution has to be found for the problem as it concerns not only conversion in the function of lands but also the habitat of the rare species such as Sumatra tigers.

"Shrinking population of wildlife in the world is partly caused by loss of habitats, he said.

Source: http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/112141/one-million-hectares-of-oil-palm-plantation-illegal-in-riau

Indonesian military officer orders that forest burners be shot

Reuters - August 7, 2017

Jakarta – A military official in the Indonesian province of Jambi said on Saturday (05/08) he has ordered that anyone who deliberately sets fire to forest areas be shot, as authorities struggle to contain fires that cause choking smoke in the region.

Five Indonesian provinces have declared emergencies because of forest fires, according to Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency (BNPB), with the number of hotspots steadily increasing in many areas over the past week.

The BNPB is working with many government branches, including the military, to contain the fires. Indonesian media have reported that authorities in the neighboring province of South Sumatra, also on the island of Sumatra, had issued the same order.

"This is to stress a point to the people, who have been warned many, many times," said Colonel Refrizal, commander of the forest fire task force in Jambi. "[This is] to show our firmness and seriousness." The order would be carried out "responsibly", said Refrizal, who goes by one name.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Twitter the Jambi task force was working to extinguish a fire covering an area of 10 hectares. Sutopo also said authorities had found one area in Jambi that had been "intentionally" burned by its owner.

The number of hotspots had increased to 239 by July 30, from 173 hotspots three days earlier, according to the BNPB. The hotspots were seen mostly on Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo island, with some also on Sumatra and Java island.

The agency had previously warned that the threat of forest fires would escalate, with the dry season expected to peak in September.

Indonesia is regularly hit by forest fires, which can result in choking smoke blowing across to neighboring countries like Singapore and Malaysia.

The sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago suffered some of its worst forest fires in 2015, hitting Sumatra and Kalimantan. The World Bank, citing government data, said 2.6 million hectares of land in Indonesia burned between June and October 2015, causing $16 billion of estimated economic damage.

Draining and conversion of peatland, often driven by palm oil plantations, contributed to the intensity of haze from the fires, the World Bank said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesian-military-officer-orders-forest-burners-shot/

282 hot spots detected across Indonesia

Straits Times - August 6, 2017

Francis Chan, Jakarta – Indonesian satellites on Sunday (Aug 6) morning picked up 282 hot spots – believed to be the highest number across the country this year – as the dry season continues.

The worst hit province was West Kalimantan, where more than half of the hot spots were detected, said National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesman, Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, as he released the figures yesterday (Aug 6) evening.

Five districts in the province – Kubu Raya, Ketapang, Sekadau, Melawi and Bengkayang – have declared a state of emergency to enable local authorities to access central government support, including military assistance, to put out the fires.

Dr Sutopo also expressed concern that although 150 hot spots were detected across West Kalimantan, the number of fires there may be higher.

"Land and forest fires in West Kalimantan continue despite our continued efforts to suppress them," he added.

He warned that the number of hot spots is probably higher as the satellites may not have passed over all the forest and land areas where fires could be burning.

Other areas in Indonesia were also hit by forest fires, albeit not as badly as in 2015 when the burning of forest and peatland in Kalimantan and Sumatra produced a transboundary haze, which blanketed the region and led to record air pollution levels for months.

Aside from those in West Kalimantan, the hot spots were spread across other provinces such as South Sumatra (23 hot spots), South Sulawesi (18), Riau (16) and East Nusa Tenggara (12).

Dr Sutopo said the hot spots were spotted on private plantation land, community-owned land and in national parks, in hard-to-reach locations.

"The areas burned are generally areas that are difficult to access and away from settlements, that is why (the fires) are difficult to extinguish," he added.

As of Saturday, 18 helicopters have been deployed for fire-fighting operations in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan. All five provinces are currently in a state of emergency.

Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said last Sunday that helicopters will deployed to put out fires over areas where there is limited road access.

"If land access is difficult or shut down for a long time, then we will use water-bombings," she said.

The dry season in Indonesia is forecast to end in September, at the earliest.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/282-hot-spots-detected-across-indonesia-on-sunday

Three more provinces at risk of forest fires this year: Minister

Jakarta Globe - August 4, 2017

Jakarta – A severe risk of forest fires has been identified in at least eight of Indonesia's provinces, as the country braces itself for a return of the annual scourge.

In addition to five previously identified areas, hot spots have now also been detected in Aceh, West Kalimantan and East Nusa Tenggara, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said on Thursday (04/07).

"The government is taking this very seriously. As the president has instructed, we must be able to tackle this," Wiranto told reporters after a coordination meeting with several other ministers and state officials in Jakarta.

Indonesia was hit by the worst forest fires on record two years ago, when Sumatra and Kalimantan were blanketed in choking haze that also affected neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.

The fires, partly started to clear land for palm oil plantations, destroyed vegetation on millions of hectares of land, afflicting more than half a million people with serious health problems. It also resulted in massive economic losses.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/three-more-provinces-at-risk-of-forest-fires-this-year-minister/

Floods hit Jayapura as city gets environmental award

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2017

Nethy Darma Somba, Jayapura – Heavy downpour since early in the morning caused flash floods in many areas of Jayapura on Thursday.

Residents of the Papua's provincial capital were shocked when they woke up in the morning only to find their homes inundated.

"I was lucky I woke up early today, otherwise my belongings would have been completely soaked," said Agustine, a resident of Kotaraja in Abepura.

At least three schools had been closed due to the natural disaster, said Jayapura Education Agency head I Wayan Mudiyasa.

Even many students of schools that remained open opted to stay at home. "I couldn't go to school; my home is flooded," said Gorion, a fourth-grader.

The overflowing Kali Acay River inundated residential areas and the Youtefa Market. Vendors were scrambling to secure their items at the market.

Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Tober Sirait said he had deployed personnel and rubber boats to help evacuate residents. "We are helping to get residents to houses of relatives or friends that are unaffected," he said.

Jayapura is one of the cities to receive the 2017 Adipura Award from the Forestry and Environment Ministry on Wednesday. The award is given to cities and regencies for achievements in cleanliness, healthiness and sustainable development.

The head of the Jayapura Environment Agency, Ketty Kailola, said the flooding could not be blamed only on extreme weather but also on the city's poor drainage system. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/03/floods-hit-jayapura-as-city-gets-environmental-award.html

Java's northern coastal area threatened by subsidence: Bappenas

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2017

Jakarta – National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) head Bambang S. Brodjonegoro has said Java's northern coastal area is facing a daunting threat, namely land subsidence.

"What I've seen is that the island's northern coastal area is threatened [by subsidence]. We cannot hope for a magic wand or a god to prevent Java's northern coastal area from sinking further," said Bambang as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday. He was speaking during a national work meeting held by the Environment and Forestry Ministry in Jakarta.

Bambang believed the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development's (NCICD) reclamation and giant seawall projects could be the answer to the problem. "The government must make efforts to protect the people. But they themselves must be ready to embrace the changes," said Bambang.

He said Java's northern coastal area was different from the Maldives, an archipelagic country also threatened by land subsidence. He further said that without belittling the geographical challenges the Maldives was facing, it had a much smaller population than Java Island.

Bambang said Java's northern coastal area had a huge population. Greater Jakarta, which is part of the area, has 20 million people, he added.

"Tangerang, Bekasi, Cikarang and Karawang are all located along the northern coast. If you've heard about the tidal flooding, it happens not only in Semarang but also in Pekalongan, Tegal and many more places," he said. (ecn/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/03/javas-northern-coastal-area-threatened-by-subsidence-bappenas.html

Indonesia calls on Australia to expedite legal process of Montara oil-spill

Jakarta Post - August 1, 2017

Jakarta – Maritime Coordinating Minister Luhut Pandjaitan has contacted high-ranking Australian officials to speed up the legal process for the class action lawsuit against Thailand-based oil producer PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) Australasia.

The lawsuit was filed by Care for West Timor Foundation (YPTB)'s advocacy team, which represents 13,000 East Nusa Tenggara seaweed farmers affected by the Montara oil spill, which occurred following the blowout of an oil rig operated by PTTEP Australasia.

"I have tried to reach George Brandis [Australian Attorney General] to ask for his support in order to speed up this process," Luhut said on Tuesday in Jakarta.

While the Australian government has received compensation for the environmental damage caused by the oil spill, the Indonesian government is still pursuing similar compensation.

However, Luhut said he was yet to receive any response from the Australian government. "At the same time, we also are also filing a case to the central court in Jakarta and we'll see what happens," he said.

In August 2009, an explosion rocked a rig operated by PTTEP Australasia, causing crude oil and gas to spill into the surrounding waters. The leak continued for 74 days before the company managed to pump mud into a relief well.

The Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism estimated that more than 2,000 barrels of oil had leaked each day into the surrounding water before the company succeeded in capping the well three months later.

The leak reportedly destroyed seaweed crops in West Timor and killed fish populations for local fishermen. (dis/ags)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/01/indonesia-calls-on-australia-to-expedite-legal-process-of-montara-oil-spill.html

Health & education

Thousands of NU members in Purwokerto rally against education minister

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2017

Agus Maryono, Purwokerto, Central Java – Thousands of members of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country's largest Islamic organization, flocked to Purwokerto town square in Banyumas regency, Central Java, on Monday, demanding that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo replace Culture and Education Minister Muhadjir Effendy.

They claimed the minister had neglected mounting calls for the annulment of his controversial five-day school policy.

Under the planned policy, which was temporarily halted pending a final say by Jokowi, all schools must shorten their students' weekly attendance to five days a week (from the previous six days) and extend their hours to eight hours a day.

"Our demand is clear: annul the policy or else Muhadjir must be dismissed," Maulana Ahmad Hasan of Nu's Banyumas chapter said during the rally.

He said that the policy could prevent thousands of high school students in Banyumas from studying at madrassa diniya, or traditional Islamic schools, after school hours.

"How could they study Islam at the madrassa, which normally starts at 3 p.m., while under the new policy, school hours would end at 6 p.m.," Hasan said.

Rally coordinator Taofik Hidayat said the demonstration was also joined by members of NU's women's wings Muslimat and Fatayat, NU's youth wing GP Ansor and Banser, the Indonesian Islamic Students Movement (PMII), as well as the NU Students Association (IPNU) and the NU Female Students Association (IPPNU). (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/07/thousands-of-nu-members-in-purwokerto-rally-against-education-minister.html

Jakarta has highest number of people living with AIDS: KPAP

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta office of the National AIDS Commission (KPAP) has revealed that the number of people living with AIDS in Jakarta has increased by 563, rising from 8,093 people in December 2015 to 8,656 in December 2016.

Most of the new cases were people who had previously been reluctant to be tested for HIV and went on to develop AIDS, said KPAP's head of prevention promotion for Jakarta, Kristina Suharto.

"They didn't know they had HIV and therefore were not on antiretroviral treatment. By the time they finally had themselves checked, they had AIDS symptoms," Kristina said.

Kristina said that despite the increase, the KPAP was optimistic that the spread of HIV/AIDS in Jakarta could be curbed by 2020. In 2016, the commission started a campaign through its program Fast Track City 2020-Ending the AIDS Epidemic.

The fast-track program aims for 90 percent of people with HIV to be aware of their condition, 90 percent of people diagnosed with HIV to be receiving antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of people receiving antiretroviral therapy experiencing viral suppression by 2020.

The Health Ministry estimates there are 92, 920 HIV cases in Jakarta. By 2015, it had identified 47,440 cases and expects to identify the remainder by 2020.

"Until then we will encourage people to have themselves checked so we can identify those with HIV who aren't unaware of their status," Kristina said. (hol/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/06/jakarta-has-highest-number-of-people-living-with-aids-kpap.html

LBGT & same-sex marriage

Indonesia cracks down on gays... and fuels its HIV epidemic

South China Morning Post - August 6, 2017

Jeffrey Hutton – Up until mid May, Fajar Prabowo supervised mobile HIV testing units that fanned out to Jakarta's gay saunas and bars in an effort to reach hundreds of closeted homosexuals who feared being spotted walking into clinics.

Often for 10-hour stretches, he would counsel, test, and, for the 17 per cent who were HIV positive, console upwards of 50 men. But after police raided and detained more than 140 men at a gay sauna in a red light district in the city's north, just days after one of those same mobile test units had wrapped up its work there, Prabowo shelved the programme, worried his NGO would be caught up in the dragnet.

"People are scared," says Prabowo, programme officer at Yayasan Suwitno, which operates and helps fund the mobile units and clinics with money from groups such as the Global Fund to Fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. "It's very hard to get people to come to the clinic. Now it's even harder to reach them," he said.

His nation's crackdown on its homosexual and transgendered citizens comes amid an explosion of HIV infections among gay men in Asia. In Indonesia, outreach and awareness campaigns have been shelved, limiting the ability of activists to reach gay men.

Unless official attitudes towards gay and transgendered citizens ease, activists say they will struggle to keep abreast of an epidemic that has already infected up to a third of young gay men in the region's biggest cities, including Jakarta and Bangkok.

"We could do more if it weren't for the sensitivities we're seeing now," says one HIV/Aids health activist, who, like many in Indonesia, spoke on condition of anonymity because of worries of unwanted government attention. "Young guys don't know that the guy they are having sex with has a 15 per cent to 30 per cent chance of being HIV positive."

Since early last year, government officials have made increasingly shrill and homophobic pronouncements, including one from Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu that likened the spread of tolerance toward homosexuals to a proxy war waged by the West. The hysteria culminated in a series of arrests of gay men, including a young couple in Aceh who were publicly caned for having sex.

The knock-on effect has been to drive HIV treatment and outreach underground. Bizarrely, in some cases this means keeping the location of life-saving treatments a secret – albeit an open one.

Jakarta's main clinic, which Prabowo's organisation supports, declined repeated requests for interviews. It has no website and is known only by word of mouth. Its organisers asked that its identity be withheld out of fear it would be attacked by conservatives. In text messages, its chief medical officer seemed eager to distance the clinic from suggestions it was primarily for gay men.

"We like to keep [the clinic] known for only those who need it, no matter their sexual orientation," says the clinic's chief doctor, who also asked not to be identified.

If fear-induced subterfuge defines HIV activism in Jakarta, Rena Janamnuaysook employs the opposite approach to combating the epidemic in Thailand.

Standing 180cm, with long black hair, a crisp white blouse and impeccable make-up, the impassioned, media-trained transgendered woman is plain about her goal: the complete detoxification of HIV/Aids.

"Sensitivity is the frontline of our campaign," says the programme coordinator of the Thai Red Cross Aids Research Centre. "We are normalising HIV/Aids."

Part activist, part den mother, Janamnuaysook pauses to speak with a young man, who is relaying news that his recent HIV test was negative. "Next time don't wait so long," she admonishes the youth.

At the heart of the research centre is the Anonymous Clinic where some 35,000 pass through for testing and treatment each year. Roughly a third are men who have sex with men. About 3,500 a year come for the generic versions of a medication that prevents HIV, which the Thai government makes available for the equivalent of less than US$1 a day. This year the clinic opened a unit specifically tailored to transgendered people, who are particularly at risk of HIV because of a tendency for many to put gender reassignment before their health, Janamnuaysook explains.

"There are multiple layers of stigma that can make people vulnerable to HIV," she says. "As a citizen I am entitled to these services."

Regional access to such programmes has never been more important. In 2011, just over 6 per cent of Indonesian men who had sex with men were HIV positive; now, it is closer to 26 per cent, according to data from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids). In Jakarta and Bali, the figures can be as high as 36 per cent. In Bangkok, for gay men the prevalence is just under 30 per cent – up from 21 per cent at the beginning of the decade. By the end of the decade, half of all new infections within Southeast Asia will be among men who have sex with men.

The specific reasons for the widespread outbreaks are hard to quantify. The spread of recreational drugs such as methamphetamine, which prompts some to make poor choices, and the proliferation of online hook-up apps may be contributing factors.

But activist organisations, such as Apcom – a group that specialises in raising awareness of HIV/Aids among gay men in the region – say heavy-handed authorities are also accelerating the epidemic. "Gay men are increasingly vilified and oppressed," says Ryan Figueiredo, Apcom's deputy director. "It's disturbing that the authorities are denigrating the very community they need to be working with to address this epidemic."

Such sexual squeamishness, especially in Indonesia, is nothing new. But even amid heightened police scrutiny, progress is being made. Prabowo's organisation has provided staff training for treating gay men and has paid for additional operating hours at 36 government clinics across the country. Some facilities even dispense HIV medication without referring patients to hospitals – a key to preventing many from falling through the cracks.

For many young gay men living with HIV in Indonesia, however, a trip to the doctor is still like running the gauntlet. Once every two months, Jeremy, 30, sets aside his usual fitted polo shirts and mint-condition trainers and slaps on a loose T-shirt, flip-flops and heads to the same clinic in the centre of town which asked to remain unidentified. He goes there to pick up life-saving medication that has kept in check the HIV infection he has had since he was at least 25. A surgical mask, ostensibly to fend off street pollution, tops off the disguise, says Jeremy – not his real name.

"Normally I dress dapper, but when I go to the clinic I dress unlike myself so that no one recognises me," he says. "I live here. People talk."

But after two years of this ritual and a number of close calls seeing people who could reveal his identity, Jeremy is tiring of the routine. He says he can imagine a time when he will be more open about his status. "I think in the future I won't have to wear a disguise and I'll be able just go there and say 'hi' to everyone."

Source: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2105151/indonesia-cracks-down-gays-and-fuels-its-hiv-epidemic

Refugees & asylum seekers

Indonesia: Asylum seekers, refugees protest over dwindling resettlement places

Asia Correspondent - August 4, 2017

Max Walden – Asylum Seekers and refugees residing in Indonesia have protested against the United Nations refugee body for lengthy processes and what some perceive as a discriminatory selection process based upon nationality and location in Indonesia.

Iranian asylum seekers and refugees staged demonstrations in Jakarta, Makassar and Surabaya on Monday to demand the UNHCR speed up the processes of Refugee Status Determination (RSD), appeals, and ultimately resettlement to third countries.

Some 14,500 asylum seekers and refugees are currently residing in Indonesia – a non-signatory to the Refugee Convention – awaiting resettlement elsewhere without rights to education or employment.

Iranian nationals frustrated

"We understand the Iranian refugees and asylum seekers conducted a protest in Makassar and Surabaya on Monday to ask for resettlement," UNHCR Indonesia public information officer Mitra Suryono said in a statement to Asian Correspondent.

A report from Jakarta police said 20 people attended a protest outside the UNHCR's office in the Indonesian capital on Monday, holding signs that read "No to racial discrimination" and "We can not be silent we need justice."

Another banner addressed to Western governments read: "Please consider the Iranian refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia [sic] whom need your help, we seek peace and justice. We believe we are also vulnerable. We have been forgotten."

A refugee in Surabaya named Arvin* told Asian Correspondent that 28 Iranians picketed the local International Organisation for Migration (IOM) office, because they had been denied permission to travel outside of the city.

"If you leave Surabaya, we will put you in the jail," Arvin claimed Indonesian immigration and the IOM had told him. "[But] there is no one to send our voice to Jakarta," he said.

According to the 31-year-old from Iran, many within his community believe the UNHCR unfairly favours refugees from Afghanistan and other countries such as Somalia or Sudan in terms of RSD, appeals processes and resettlement to third countries like Australia or the United States.

These sentiments were shared by an Iranian woman living in Makassar named Leila*. She told Asian Correspondent "the majority [of migrants in Indonesia] are Afghans, we see them, we interact with each other in our daily lives."

"They get quickly interviewed, given a refugee card. If they get rejected, their appeal takes at most a year. Most of the time Afghans know all about their process," she said.

Another problem is that Afghan translators are always used for Iranian asylum seekers, said Leila. While both peoples speak a variation of Farsi, she said there are often "misunderstandings [for Iranians]... it caused damage to their cases and the result of their interviews."

Resettlement becoming tougher

The UNHCR Indonesia rejected claims of discrimination, stating "regardless of where the person is from UNHCR registers and assesses asylum claims accordingly to our RSD procedures and based on the merit of each case."

Last week, hundreds of Rohingya asylum seekers and refugees also protested outside the offices of the IOM and UNHCR in Makassar, resulting in the arrests of 18 people. Some of the demonstrators claimed they had resided in Makassar for seven years without resettlement, reported local media.

But Arvin claimed he has received mixed messages from the UNHCR and the embassies of possible resettlement countries. He said UN official told him: "Your country is safe. If you have a problem you should wait here [in Indonesia], if no problem you should go back."

Having emailed Australian and US embassies, however, Arvin says they told him, "If you have a refugee card we will accept you."

Leila said her refugee application was rejected by the UNHCR and that she submitted an appeal in April 2015, but is yet to receive a verdict. "Nobody in the office of Jakarta or Makassar has sent any contact about my case," she said.

The UNHCR Indonesia emphasises long waits are outside of their control, as western countries reduce resettlement places – particularly for refugees residing in the Asia Pacific. "Globally less than one percent of the world's refugees are resettled," said Suryono.

"We continue to submit the most vulnerable refugees for consideration by resettlement countries but ultimately these countries make their own decisions on whether or not to accept UNHCR's referrals."

Australia, Canada and the US are the only countries who have accepted any refugees from Indonesia in 2017.

Australia has drastically decreased the numbers it accepts from Indonesia, implementing a policy in November 2014 that it would not resettle any refugee registered with the UNHCR Indonesia after July of that year.

Neither the Canadian nor American embassies in Jakarta responded to Asian Correspondent's requests for comment as to whether they will continue to resettle refugees residing in Indonesia.

"Resettlement is the prerogative of each resettlement country. In general, UNHCR does not discuss details of resettlement arrangements by country to avoid raising expectations unnecessarily," said Suryono.

Indonesia tolerant of refugees, for now

"Sometimes I feel really, really exhausted. All the time actually," said Leila, who has lived with uncertainty in Indonesia for years.

A presidential decree released by Indonesia in January reflects the government's commitment to improving coordination between local and national governments in handling migrants who are in prolonged transit in Indonesia.

Nevertheless, the immigration department asserted last week it would "not host them forever."

"UNHCR consistently explains that we continue to urge resettlement countries to increase their refugee intake globally," said Suryono. "However due to the magnitude of the global refugee crisis, resettling refugees to third countries has become more challenging."

The general feeling among people who work in this field in Indonesia is that the situation is getting much more difficult, an anonymous source told Asian Correspondent.

"Until longer term solutions are found, in Indonesia UNHCR continues to work in close coordination with the Government as they provide protection and assistance for refugees," added Suryono.

– Names have been changed

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/08/indonesia-asylum-seekers-express-frustration-dwindling-resettlement-places/

Corruption & abuse of power

Gerindra supports formation of fact-finding team in Novel's case

Jakarta Post - August 5, 2017

Jakarta – Gerindra Party deputy chairman Ferry Juliantono said on Saturday the party supported a proposal to establish an independent fact-finding team to help investigate an acid attack on Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan.

Ferry said the support was based on the fact that the police investigation had been sluggish as investigators could only come up with a sketch of one of the alleged perpetrators 116 days after the attack.

"There must be power to surpass the institution's. In Novel's case, there must be an independent fact-finding team directly endorsed by President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo," he told a discussion in Jakarta.

Ferry said an independent team could help accelerate the investigation, as well as help reveal the identities of the assailants, the mastermind and their motivation. "We want the mystery to be revealed."

Activists have called on the government to create a fact-finding team for the case on the basis of a suspicion that political interests were involved and Novel's statement suggesting the involvement of a high-ranking police officer.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has acknowledged there are mounting public concerns about the police's impartiality in the investigation. Yet, he rejected the proposal to establish an independent fact-finding team.

Instead, Tito proposed a joint investigation team with the KPK. The antigraft body has brushed off the idea, saying its investigators were not authorized to probe general crimes.

Novel Baswedan receives treatment at a hospital in Jakarta after suffering burns to his left eye, face and neck. Novel Baswedan receives treatment at a hospital in Jakarta after suffering burns to his left eye, face and neck. (Antara/Aprillio Akbar)

Novel's eyes were seriously damaged after he was attacked by two unidentified people who threw acid on his face on April 11. (yon/bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/05/gerindra-supports-formation-of-fact-finding-team-in-novels-case.html

All eyes on Indonesia's identity card scam

Asia Times - August 2, 2017

John McBeth, Jakarta – Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) leader Prabowo Subianto, who has his eye on another bid for the presidency in 2019, knows a losing cause when he sees one – even if many of Indonesia's tone-death political parties don't.

Heeding widespread public condemnation, Prabowo's opposition party has pulled out of Parliament's critical inquiry into the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK), saying it was the "wrong step" and would only weaken the fight against corruption.

That leaves President Joko Widodo's own Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) and five other ruling coalition partners -­ Golkar, the United Development (PPP), National Democrat (NasDem), People's Conscience (Hanura) and National Mandate (PAN) parties -­ still on what many see as a shameful crusade to defang the anti-graft agency.

The National Awakening Party (PKB) is the only government party that is not represented on the inquiry panel, while former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's centrist Democrat Party (PD) joined a walk out when the action was hastily approved at a plenary session last April.

Interestingly, Prabowo and Yudhoyono are reported to be actively considering a possible alliance in 2019, with speculation centering on the former president's eldest son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, as a possible Prabowo running mate.

The 38-year-old retired infantry officer failed in the first round of last February's Jakarta gubernatorial election, but critics blamed his father for a strategy that had his son playing the Islamic card instead of appealing to the youth vote.

Parliament launched the inquiry after the KPK understandably refused a request to hand over copies of testimony by Hanura lawmaker Miryam Haryani, a key witness in the 5.9 trillion rupiah (US$172 million) electronic identity card scandal that has implicated various political parties, including Widodo's PDI-P.

The ongoing investigation has already led to the indictment of House Speaker and Golkar party chairman Setya Novanto, who is accused of being the mastermind behind Parliament's largest single corruption case since the birth of Indonesia's post-Suharto democratic era.

PKP chairman Agus Rahardjo claims Novanto took a direct role in the front-loading of the 2009 budget process, which effectively doubled the cost of the project, and in subsequently rigging the tenders.

Haryani, 43, who is now facing perjury charges, has knowledge of the illegal flow of funds from the grossly inflated identity card procurement project to as many as 50 other legislators.

The KPK claims senior politicians pressured Haryani to recant the testimony she was to give at the trial of two senior Home Affairs Ministry officials, who were last week jailed for seven and five years respectively for their role in the scandal.

The scale of the case suggests the trials could drag on well into 2018 and cast a dark shadow over most of Indonesia's parties in the run up to the 2019 legislative and presidential elections.

"Setya's story is evidence that our political system has failed to produce political elites," Tempo magazine said in an editorial. "It is as if political parties do not possess any ideals and values to strive for. Instruments critical for democracy have been hijacked by often amoral individuals."

Widodo has not had anything to say publicly about the inquiry, but Novanto was pivotal to bringing Golkar into the coalition in the months following the 2014 presidential election when Widodo was struggling to find his feet.

Several senior PDI-P figures are also implicated in the scandal, including Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo. That puts Widodo in an embarrassing position ahead of what are expected to be hotly contested polls.

PDI-P has seen more of its politicians jailed for corruption over the past decade than any other party, while Gerindra – well organized and rhetorically committed in its policy platform to a corruption-free government -­ lies at the other end of the scale.

By withdrawing Gerindra from the KPK inquiry, Prabowo can now accuse the president of not only failing to support the war on corruption, but condoning efforts to undermine what is Indonesia's most popular institution.

Polls in recent years have found eight out of 10 Indonesians believe corruption is widespread throughout government, with Parliament consistently named as the least trusted institution.

But the problem inherent in Indonesia's democratic development has been that voters do not always consider the link between integrity and public service when they go to the polls.

Indeed, not only are they inured to the spectacle of corrupt legislators lining up before the courts, but many constituents tend to see their representatives as cash cows – just as they themselves often perceive the state coffers.

All this tends to explain why the Teflon-coated Novanto has managed to survive so long since the country's first democratic election in June 1999, when he was one of four parliamentarians to be elected from the then Indonesian territory of East Timor.

Although East Timor separated from Indonesia in a bloody referendum two months later, he and the other MPs stayed on, ostensibly representing the Timorese and Indonesian refugees who chose to move to neighboring West Timor.

Despite a checkered past, Novanto has stormed home by between 47% and 69% of the vote in his safe Sumba electorate in the far-off East Nusa Tenggara island chain, even though he is a native of Bandung, the West Java provincial capital.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/article/eyes-indonesias-identity-card-scam/

KPK declines police proposal for joint team

Jakarta Post - August 1, 2017

Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has declined a proposal from National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to set up a joint investigation team into the acid attack on KPK investigator Novel Baswedan, its spokesman has said.

KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said that the responsibility for investigating the case lay fully with the police. "This is a purely criminal case that falls under the purview of the National Police," Febri said as quoted by tempo.co on Tuesday.

He said that the KPK had jurisdiction only in handling corruption cases. The anti-graft body, however, lauded the meeting between President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Tito on Monday, saying that it was a move in the right direction for the Novel case.

Following his meeting with President Jokowi on Monday, Tito proposed the establishment of a joint police-KPK investigative team.

"If our credibility is under doubt, then I think a KPK team would be more trusted by the public and hence [more] credible. So why not establish a joint team," Tito told reporters.

Tito, however, brushed off the idea of setting up a special and independent fact-finding team to investigate the acid attack on Novel, which took place in April this year.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/01/KPK-declines-police-proposal-for-joint-team.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Islamic State: Indonesian maids in Hong Kong backing terrorists, investigation

ABC Radio Australia - August 4, 2017

Anne Barker – A small but alarming number of Indonesian maids working in Asia are becoming radicalised and supporting the Islamic State (IS) group. Some have volunteered as suicide bombers.

Like thousands of poor Indonesian women, Ayu, whose name has been changed, left home to work overseas as a domestic maid. In 2003 she moved to Hong Kong after abandoning her husband and daughter.

But after losing two jobs she found herself on the street where she sought refuge in alcohol and drugs. By 2011, Ayu had hit rock bottom and turned to Facebook for guidance.

She joined Islamist forums and before long met her second husband, Abu, an Indonesian jihadi. They married in 2013 but Ayu stayed in Hong Kong.

As she became increasingly radicalised she befriended other Indonesian extremists online and in Hong Kong. By 2014 she was raising funds for the IS group and providing money and assistance to Indonesian jihadists wanting to fight with IS in Syria.

Ayu is today one of more than 150,000 Indonesians living in Hong Kong. The vast majority are women who work as maids, domestic workers, nannies and elderly carers.

Why do women join Islamic State?

Despite misconceptions that they're being tricked or coerced, the growing number of women joining Islamic State are doing so for the same political ends as men, writes Sara Mahmood.

But an investigation by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict has uncovered a tiny cell of about 50 radicalised Indonesian maids in Asia with 43 living in Hong Kong, three in Taiwan and four in Singapore.

"Some of these women were drawn in by jihadi boyfriends they met online," said Nava Nuraniyah, an IPAC researcher based in Jakarta. "But some joined IS as a path to empowerment."

The IPAC investigation has found the number of Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong has risen exponentially from just 1,000 in 1990 to more than 153,000 today. Indonesian women are often seen as cheaper and more pliant employees than the better-trained Philippine maids.

Although the IPAC report says their exploitation and underpayment is not a direct factor in their radicalisation. "The search for a sense of community in an unfamiliar environment may have been more important," the report said.

"The growth of the Muslim community was accompanied by a rise in religious outreach [dakwah] activities by Indonesian clerics, starting with moderates but gradually coming to include the full ideological spectrum including Salafi and jihadi.

"Indonesian women found friends in these dakwah groups that often acted as surrogate families. When one was drawn into a radical circle, others followed."

For example, on Sundays when most Indonesian maids have the day off, numerous Islamic study circles have popped up in public places like Hong Kong's famous Victoria Park.

The demand for Islamic teachers has become so high that many Indonesians turn to the internet and social media for religious guidance, leading many to come into contact with extremist preachers.

In some cases, personal troubles led to a search for rebirth and renewal through "pure" Islam. But IPAC says it was the war in Syria that has brought support for violent extremism to Hong Kong.

"Muslims were interested in the conflict, and jihadi social media had some of the most detailed news," the report said. "They saw fighters as heroes and were eager to offer logistical and financial support."

Many women have developed personal relationships online with would-be IS fighters and then helped them travel to Syria or even travelled with them. Other women were exploited by online boyfriends who saw the Indonesian maids as a ready source of funds.

"Often though Indonesian women extremists working abroad are not simply the victims of unscrupulous men," the report stated. "Some have reached out to men only after they have become interested in the jihadi cause themselves."

The report also highlights the important role social media has played in the women's radicalisation. "Smartphones ensure that products, preachers and trends that become popular in Indonesia immediately find their way to Hong Kong," it said.

Ms Nuraniyah says Indonesian women in Asia appear to undergo radicalisation at a higher rate than Indonesians in the Middle East, perhaps because they face both a geographic and religious isolation in say Hong Kong.

"Only about a dozen radical maids in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are active on social media, for example," she wrote in the New York Times. "None is reported to have joined jihadis in Syria."

In June this year, IPAC said four Indonesian women had joined IS in Syria while about 16 had returned home and mostly married jihadis. Another eight were deported from their host countries, or from Turkey as they tried to cross into Syria. Last December, Indonesian police arrested two women – both former overseas workers turned would-be suicide bombers.

One woman, Ika Puspitasari, had also undergone a radicalisation while living in Hong Kong. Like Ayu, she too had met her jihadist husband online and had allegedly volunteered to carry out a suicide bombing in Bali.

Her husband was connected to another Indonesian jihadist who joined the Islamist Maute group fighting in Marawi in the Philippines. As of last month he was on the Philippine police's most wanted list.

IPAC says the arrest of the two women underlines the vulnerability of Indonesian migrants to extremist recruitment. The organisation has urged Indonesian authorities to work more closely with overseas agencies to offer training and more awareness to women leaving to work overseas.

Specifically it recommends training modules that alert Indonesian women to the risk of exploitation by extremist men, and the support of Muslim leaders in Hong Kong, as well as Hong Kong authorities, to ban extremist clerics from the country.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-08-04/islamic-state-indonesian-maids-in-hong-kong-backing-terrorists-investigation-finds/1691110

Indonesia ready to unblock Telegram

Jakarta Post - August 1, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The government will soon unblock the web version of messaging application Telegram following a meeting between Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara and Telegram CEO Pavel Durov in Jakarta on Tuesday.

"We hope this week we will unblock the application," the Communications and Information Ministry's director general for information applications, Samuel Abrijani Pangarepan, said.

Durov met Rudiantara at the latter's office in Jakarta on Tuesday to discuss ways to prevent Telegram from being used by terrorists to spread their violent ideology and plot attacks.

Telegram, Durov told reporters after the meeting, had agreed to open a special communication line for the Indonesian government, which would enable Telegram and the government to act on terror-related activities on the messaging application.

Durov claimed that he had expedited the process of blocking accounts used for spreading terrorism, which previously took around 24 to 36 hours to complete.

Telegram can now block the accounts within hours as it had hired people with Indonesian backgrounds, Durov said. "We have some Indonesian speaking members in the team now."

Indonesia blocked the browser version of the app on July 14. Indonesia had accused Telegram of posing a threat to its national security, as the application enables users to apply end-to-end encryption that cannot be monitored or wiretapped.

Telegram is said to be the most popular messaging application among jihadists linked to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, including several residing in Indonesia. (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/01/indonesia-ready-to-unblock-telegram.html

Freedom of religion & worship

'We really feel afraid': Indonesia's religious pluralism under threat –

Asian Correspondent - August 2, 2017

Max Walden – Ahmadi and Shia Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities are being increasingly targeted by radical Muslims in Indonesia, according to an investigative report by a Christian NGO.

Published on Tuesday, the report documents a trip in May by human rights non-profit Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) to Indonesia – the world's largest Muslim-majority nation – to investigate the situation of minority faith communities.

CSW arrived in Jakarta in May, the day after the city's Christian-Chinese former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was jailed for two years under Indonesia's strict blasphemy laws.

Ahok was found to have insulted Islam due to comments he made about a Quranic verse regarding whether or not Muslims can elect a non-Muslim.

The dramatic toppling of the governor came after a campaign that saw hardline Muslim groups shut down the capital numerous times with mass demonstrations, sparking widespread fears of rising extremism in the traditionally tolerant, religiously diverse nation.

The report cites Ahok's imprisonment – the culmination of the most high-profile blasphemy case in Indonesian history – as a case study to demonstrate the rising influence of hardline Islam at the expense of religious minority communities.

Almost 100 cases of blasphemy have been brought before Indonesian courts since the laws were introduced in 1965 – however, a vast majority (89) of these cases have occurred in the democratic era since the fall of former dictator Suharto in 1998. Conviction rates are extremely high.

"In recent years, Indonesia's strong and proud pluralistic tradition, rooted in the heart of the constitution, has come under threat," reads the report. One member from the Ahmadiyya community told CSW "Ahok's case has become a barometer."

The report also documents the plight of Indonesia's Ahmadiyyas – a Muslim minority sect in predominantly Sunni Indonesia – whose 500,000-strong community has been increasingly targeted since 2005 by violence and state-sanctioned persecution via the outlawing of their religious teachings.

"Our hope is that you remind the government that Indonesia is not an Islamic country. We are based on Pancasila. Remind our government it is not a religious government," one Ahmadi told CSW.

The report claims while the situation of religious minorities continues to deteriorate, "incidents of severe violence" have declined since 2014. Moreover, CSW claimed they observed growing grassroots support for interfaith initiatives promoting harmony and tolerance.

It cites the Islamic-based Wahid Foundation – established in 2004 to "advance the humanitarian vision" of former president Gus Dur – as an example of such civil society action.

Nevertheless, moderate Muslim voices are being drowned out, claims the report. One source told CSW even members of the mainstream Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), an organisation which claims to be the largest Muslim group in the world, are increasingly threatened with violence by radicals.

"Christians face pressure from radical groups and in some cases, they have lost the courage to worship. They feel afraid," said one pastor in Bandung – a city where last Christmas hardline groups targeted festive decorations in malls and forcibly shut down public Christian events.

This sentiment was echoed by a group of pastors in North Sumatra, who told CSW: "We really feel afraid."

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/08/really-feel-afraid-indonesias-religious-pluralism-threat-report/

Draft law to ensure rights for religious minorities met with skepticism

Jakarta Globe - August 1, 2017

Jakarta – The head of the Ministry of Religion's Interfaith Harmony Forum said on Monday (31/07) that the government is currently drafting a law that will guarantee the rights of religious minorities across the country.

"The government [currently] only recognizes six religions, while more than four million people who follow religions outside of those six are not served by the government [...] We want to solve this problem," Ferimeldi said during an open forum on interfaith relations in Jakarta.

The government will seek to change the status quo through the new Religious Rights Protection Bill, which is expected to be presented to the House of Representatives before the end of the year, largely because existing regulations are insufficient to allow the government to assist religious minorities.

Muslims make up 87 percent of Indonesia's population of roughly 250 million people, whereas Christians and Catholics – the government classifies both separately – make up 7 and 3 percent of the population, respectively. Other prominent religions found across the archipelago include Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

Indeed, Confucianism, practiced by many of the country's ethnic Chinese, was originally identified as an official state religion under Indonesia's first president, Soekarno, but was later removed from the Constitution under Soeharto's New Order Regime, which recognized only five religions.

After Soeharto's downfall in 1998, however, President Abdurahman Wahid, known commonly as Gus Dur, threw out a 1978 Home Affairs Ministry decision that previously wiped Confucianism off the list of official state religions.

While Java and Sumatra, two of Indonesia's most populated islands, are largely Muslim, some smaller islands are comprised mostly of religious minorities. Bali, for instance, is over 80 percent Hindu, while North Sulawesi comprises a population that is more than 60 percent Christian.

Dark side of democracy

Throughout Indonesia's relatively short history, religious minorities have faced an array of discrimination and prejudice, including being the victims of pogroms and unwarranted imprisonment, most notably during the 1965 anti-Communist killings and the 1998 riots.

Febi Yonesta, chairman of refugee rights advocacy group Suaka, said discrimination against religious minorities contradicts the country's 1945 Constitution, which on paper suggests equality for all citizens regardless of religious background.

"I have observed that such continuous violations [have been] caused by a lack of political will of the government [...] to find durable solutions in upholding the rights of religious minorities," Febi said, labeling this dilemma the "dark side" of Indonesian democracy.

The Suaka chairman noted that religious minorities face difficulties in everyday life, even in basic things such as obtaining government-issued identity cards or birth and death certificates.

For instance, the Ahmadiyya sect, or a branch of Islam found in West Nusa Tenggara, were forced from their ancestral land in Ketapang village, West Lombok regent, in February 2006 due to their unpopular teachings, which many Sunni Muslims view as blasphemous. Many Ahmadiyya followers still do not have access to ID cards or birth certificates.

'Highly toxic regulation' repackaged

Yenny Wahid, executive director of the Jakarta-based Wahid Foundation, said present and future administrations are unlikely to rise up to the challenge of officially recognizing a religion due to "political costs."

She cited the backlash that her father Gus Dur faced after re-declaring Confucianism as the sixth officially recognized religion in Indonesia.

New York-based Human Rights Watch's (HRW) senior Indonesia researcher, Andreas Harsono, referred to the bill as "nothing less than a repackaging of highly toxic regulations against religious minorities in Indonesia."

Furthermore, HRW also highlighted that the draft law expands the scope of Indonesia's 1965 blasphemy law and reinforces discriminatory administrative requirements, the latter unfairly restricting construction of places of worship by religious minorities.

"The government should toss out this draft law and the discriminatory regulations that it seeks to enshrine," Andreas said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/draft-law-ensure-rights-religious-minorities-met-skepticism/

Village & rural life

KPK, ministry 'flooded with complaints' on allegedly embezzled village funds

Jakarta Post - August 4, 2017

Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) says it has received hundreds of reports from the public on the alleged embezzlement of village funds since 2016, prompting the anti-graft body to investigate potential cases of corruption in the delivery of the funds.

KPK deputy chairman for prevention Pahala Nainggolan said the number of reports on alleged embezzled funds increased after it issued a circular that encouraged the public to report of any irregularities in the channeling of the funds.

"Copies of the circular were distributed to villages, encouraging all residents to file reports if they suspected there were irregularities relating to village funds. We were eventually flooded with public complaints. The Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Ministry received 600 reports while we [KPK] got 300 reports. We're confused on what we're supposed to do with all of these reports because it is not the commission's responsibility to handle the matter," said Pahala as quoted by tribunnews.com in Jakarta on Friday.

As the KPK is not tasked with dealing with such reports, it entrusted them to the ministry.

"We left it to the ministry, but it claimed it could not audit the alleged fund irregularities because it was the regency administrations that had the authority to handle such problems," said Pahala.

He said reports on only 30 percent of the village funds were filed via the Village Finance Management System, an application established by the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP). Meanwhile, 70 percent of the reports were filed manually. (yon/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/04/KPK-ministry-flooded-with-complaints-on-allegedly-embezzled-village-funds.html

Jakarta & urban life

Ministry resumes Jakarta's sea wall project

Jakarta Post - August 5, 2017

Jakarta – Despite protests from fishermen and environmentalists, the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry and the Jakarta administration have resumed the construction of a sea wall along the northern part of Jakarta Bay.

The ministry's head of the Ciliwung-Cisadane Flood Control Office (BBWSCC), T. Iskandar, said the project, part of the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD), is currently in the second phase and more than half of the construction target has been met.

"The total progress in the construction is 56.14 percent, with total completed construction of 2,689 meters from a total of 4,500 meters," said Iskandar on Friday as quoted by tribunnews.com.

He elaborated that the progress included the 1,317 meter wall in Muara Baru subdistrict, North Jakarta, and the construction of a 1,372 meter wall in Kali Baru subdistrict, also in North Jakarta.

Initiated by the central government, the NCICD is a project to build a beach wall to prevent worsening floods in Jakarta.

Critics of the project say the project, also known as the giant sea wall, will close off access for fishermen and take away their livelihoods. In 2014, the government completed construction of an embankment in Pluit.

Iskandar said the government was still working with the Jakarta administration to clear more land along the capital's northern beaches to make way for the project.

He also said the central government is being supported by the Netherlands' Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment and South Korea's Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) with technical assistance and funding. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/05/ministry-resumes-jakartas-sea-wall-project.html

No assistants for Jakarta councilors: Ministry

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta City Councilors' hopes to each have a personal assistant must come to an end, due to the lack of a related provision in the relevant government regulation, a Home Ministry official has said.

On Wednesday, the Jakarta administration invited representatives from the Law and Human Rights Ministry and the Home Ministry to explain the matter to the councilors.

Acting director general for regional finance at the Home Ministry, Moch. Ardian, said that Government Regulation (PP) No. 18/2017 on financial authority and administration of regional council leaders and members did not include a provision for expert staff or personal assistants.

"There is no such thing in the government regulation," Ardian said on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com.

City Council Deputy Speaker Abraham "Lulung" Lunggana also said that he was against the idea of assigning a private assistant to each council member. "If the rule says no, then we can't do it. We cannot violate the law," he said.

Last month, every faction of the City Council issued a request for a personal assistant for each council leader and member, basing their request on Government Regulation No. 18/2017. (hol)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/03/no-assistants-for-jakarta-councilors-ministry.html

Jakarta gets awards for being clean, green city

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2017

Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – The governor and two municipalities of the capital, namely Central Jakarta and South Jakarta, have won awards from the Environment and Forestry Ministry for being among the cleanest and greenest cities nationwide.

Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat was bestowed with the prestigious Nirwasita Tantra award, which is only given to three regional leaders across the country every year.

"The Jakarta governor through his orders such as establishing Child-Friendly Integrated Public Spaces [RPTRA] and organizing riverbanks has improved the city's environment. This has earned him the Nirwasita Tantra award," Jakarta Environment Agency head Isnawa Adji told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Isnawa added that his agency would work harder to build on the city's achievements next year. He said he was intensifying the work of the agency's so-called orange troops to clean the city of garbage.

The 2017 Nirwasita Tantra award also went to the regional heads of East Java and West Sumatra, who received the award for efforts to improve the environment in their respective regions.

Central Jakarta and South Jakarta won this year's Adipura award for green and clean cities. Last year, only Central Jakarta received the environmental award.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/03/jakarta-gets-awards-for-being-clean-green-city.html

Transport & communication

Minister wants Soekarno-Hatta flights to increase to 120 per hour

Jakarta Post - August 1, 2017

Jakarta – Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi has said he wants to increase flight frequency at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to 120 takeoffs and landings per hour from the 81 currently.

"I want to increase the frequency to 120 aircraft per hour in three to four years. This is reasonable, with the improvements in rapid-exit taxiways, overlay and the construction of a third runway," he said in Jakarta on Monday.

Budi said his ministry had consulted UK-based air traffic services consultant NATS, which advised Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom.

"Heathrow operates with two runways and manages to handle up to 100 flights per hour. So it is possible to increase our traffic," he said, adding that the ministry was currently improving the standard operation procedures and necessary infrastructure to achieve the goal.

He questioned the complaints by the Indonesia Air Traffic Controllers Association (IATCA), which expressed concerns about safety linked to the frequency increase. He stressed that Indonesia had adequate human resources to achieve the target.

IATCA complained on Wednesday about the decision by state-run air navigation company AirNav to increase the flight frequency to 84 aircraft per hour from 72 per hour. "The excessive flight frequency will increase the chance of accidents," said the deputy chairman of IACTA's Jakarta branch, Andre Budi.

Soekarno-Hatta serves more than 1,200 flights every day. (dis/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/31/minister-wants-soekarno-hatta-flights-to-increase-to-120-per-hour.html

Film & television

TV still the main advertising media in Indonesia: PwC

Jakarta Post - August 4, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) television will remain the main advertising media until 2021 with a 53.8 percent market share compared to 53.6 percent in 2016.

PwC, in its "Perspectives from the Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2017-2021" report, stated that the revenue of Indonesian media and entertainment would see a 10.3 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in the period between 2016 and 2021. The total revenue of the industry in 2021 is expected to reach US$8.17 billion.

Moreover, PwC estimated that the CAGR of Internet advertising would reach 21.8 percent in the same period, the highest of all segments, while TV advertising was predicted to have a 10.4 percent CAGR. Read also: Only online media with loyal readers can charge customers: PwC

"The Indonesian Internet advertising market is showing stronger growth than other segments," PwC Indonesia telecom, media and technology leader Mohammad Chowdhury said in a statement on Thursday.

Internet based advertising is predicted to hold 21.5 percent of the market share by 2021 compared to 13.1 percent in 2016, he added.

Meanwhile, paper based publishing – magazines and newspapers – are predicted to hold 20.4 percent of the advertising market share by 2021 compared to 28.4 percent in 2016. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/04/tv-still-the-main-advertising-media-in-indonesia-pwc.html

Armed forces & defense

Air Force marshall named suspect in chopper graft

Jakarta Post - August 5, 2017

Jakarta – The military police have named an ex-Air Force officer as a suspect in a graft case related to the procurement of a VIP helicopter from Italian-British manufacturing company Agusta Westland.

"We have named former Air Force chief of staff planning assistant, identified only as SB, a new suspect on the case," military police commander Maj. Gen. Dodik Wijanarko said on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com.

He claimed SB was responsible for ordering his subordinates to continue the project despite President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's instruction to cancel the purchase of the VIP helicopter. The suspect could be charged with insubordination, misuse of authority and embezzlement.

SB is the fourth suspect to be named by the military police. Three Air Force personnel were named suspects in May, including the deputy governor of the Air Force Academy and the Air Force commander of operations I. The embezzlement reportedly caused Rp 224 billion (US$16 million) in state losses.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/05/air-force-marshall-named-suspect-in-chopper-graft-.html

Indonesia to barter coffee, CPO for Russian jet fighters

Jakarta Post - August 4, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesian state-owned trading company PT Perusahaan Perdagangan and Russian state-owned company Rostec have signed a memorandum of understanding to barter Indonesian agricultural commodities for Russian jet fighters.

"The barter deal, which is under the supervision of the two governments, will involve 11 Sukhoi SU-35 jet fighters and several commodities like coffee, palm oil, tea and others," Trade Minister Enggartiasto "Enggar" Lukita said in a statement on Friday.

Enggar, who is on an official visit to Russia from Aug. 3 to 5, expressed his hope that the agreement would be followed by other agreements in other sectors.

Russia currently faces economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union. In response, Russia has limited imports from the US and EU and is looking to other countries for commodity imports.

"It is an opportunity we have to seize. The great potential for economic cooperation during the embargo and counter embargo goes beyond trade and investment issues. We also have the opportunity to enhance cooperation in tourism, student exchange, energy, technology, aviation, etc.," Enggar added.

Trade between Indonesia and Russia in 2016 amounted to US$2.11 billion – with Indonesia posting a surplus of $411 million – compared to $1.9 billion in 2015. Indonesian non-oil exports to Russia grew by 8.50 percent in the last five years to a value of $1.3 billion in 2016, while Indonesian exports from January to May this year grew by 54.43 percent to $1.12 billion. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/04/indonesia-to-barter-coffee-cpo-for-russian-jet-fighters.html

Criminal justice & legal system

Facing 'narcotics emergency', Indonesia ramps up war on drugs

Sydney Morning Herald - August 6, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – Within days of Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordering police to shoot drug dealers who resist arrest, the government last week announced a radical shake-up of the nation's narcotics-riddled prisons.

Amid revelations that prisoners continue to operate drug syndicates behind bars, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights has come up with an ambitious plan to consolidate drug felons in four jails across the nation.

According to Corrections data the level of drug activity behind bars in Indonesia is extraordinary: of the nation's 225,000 prisoners there are 54,000 dealers and 32,000 users.

The head of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) Budi Waseso – who advocates imprisoning drug offenders on a remote island guarded by crocodiles – goes so far as to say 50 per cent of drug circulation is controlled from prisons.

Jokowi, as he is popularly known, is once again claiming Indonesia is facing a narcotics "emergency", with the BNN pointing to five million drug users, 27 per cent of whom are "active users".

The last time Jokowi invoked this war rhetoric was in 2015, when he used a national drugs emergency to justify the executions of drug felons including Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

The latest crackdown has alarmed human rights activists who point to "sinister echoes" of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs", which has seen more than 7000 drug dealers and users killed. Breaking News Alert

"From practice in the field, we see that when we shoot at drug dealers they go away," the National Police Chief, General Tito Karnavian was quoted saying in The Jakarta Post, in an apparent reference to the Philippines.

General Tito vowed police would be particularly firm on foreign drug traffickers, whom Indonesians largely blame for the scourge of drugs.

Shortly after Jokowi's edict, police showered an alleged crystal methamphetamine dealer, who they said resisted arrest, with seven bullets in Pekanbaru on the island of Sumatra on July 29.

However some question whether the tough stance on drugs is more about political populism than a spiralling drug emergency.

"According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, general population prevalence rates of most illegal and illicit drugs in Indonesia largely remained stable since the early 2000s," Claudia Stoicescu, a doctoral researcher at University of Oxford's Centre for Evidence Based Intervention, writes in Al Jazeera.

"Far from constituting an outlier, Indonesia's annual rates of drug consumption are similar to rates in other South-East Asian countries such as Vietnam and Myanmar and much lower than rates in the United States and much of Europe."

The Indonesian Drug Users Network (PKNI), an NGO established to fight the stigma and discrimination faced by drug users, believes Jokowi's order to shoot drug dealers who resisted arrest was made in haste.

His comments – in a speech to a political party meeting – came after four Taiwanese men were arrested and another shot dead for allegedly distributing one tonne of crystal meth in Jakarta.

"Shooting at drug dealers is a violation of human rights," PKNI project manager Arif Iryawan told Fairfax Media. "Besides, by shooting them to death the police cannot uncover their network properly. So I think killing them should be the last resort."

But GERAM – the People's Movement Against Drugs – said when the police shot dead drug dealers in the 90s the business was drastically reduced. "Whenever the government wants to uphold the law human rights stand in the way," GERAM founder Sofyan Ali told Fairfax Media.

He said Jokowi was a good president, who unlike previous presidents, "knows what he does because he goes down to the field".

"Other countries like the Philippines or the US take action whenever they see a situation that threatens their people. They forget human rights because the situation is causing a real problem," Sofyan said. "But it doesn't happen here. We fight against our own people on human rights so we may achieve nothing."

Meanwhile the plan to contain drug offenders in four prisons in West Java, North Sumatra, Central Java and Central Kalimantan was hatched after a prisoner named Aseng on Nusakambangan – Indonesia's equivalent of Alcatraz – was linked to 1.2 million ecstasy pills seized by police.

The four jails would have heightened security, including weapons and x-ray machines. Prison officers, who are often involved in jail-run drug syndicates, would be strictly vetted.

"The biggest problem right now is drug dealers [inside jails] and our officers are overwhelmed," the Security Director from Corrections, Sutrisman, told reporters.

He said the ratio of officers to prisoners was one to 62, when the recommended ratio was one to 20. "So we must take extraordinary steps by strengthening the officers, by collaborating with BNN [the national narcotics agency] and the police."

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/facing-narcotics-emergency-indonesia-ramps-up-war-on-drugs-20170806-gxqahn.html

Indonesia might be copying the vigilante violence of Duterte's drug war

Washington Post - August 4, 2017

Vincent Bevins, Jakarta, Indonesia – On July 22, normally mild-manned Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo instructed his police to shoot drug traffickers.

"Be firm, especially to foreign drug dealers who enter the country and resist arrest." he said, "Shoot them because we indeed are in a narcotics emergency position now." On July 24, police did just that, killing an alleged methamphetamine smuggler from China in Jakarta – the fourth such death in the capital that month.

The killings and hardening government rhetoric have raised fears that Indonesia, the world's fourth-most populous nation, is now taking some cues from the Philippines as it steps up its own deadly war on drugs.

And why not? More than 7,000 people have died in Duterte's drug war since he took office last year, sparking widespread accusations of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses. Yet the Philippine president has been rewarded with sky-high approval ratings, unquestioned regional influence and glowing praise from President Trump.

Commissioner General Budi Waseso, the head of Indonesia's anti-narcotics agency, offered praise last month for Duterte's drug war and said that he hoped to ramp up drug seizures in the near future. "I never say that we have to follow the Philippines. We have our own laws," said Waseso to Reuters. "I have to say, though, that Duterte's policy shows he is taking care of his citizens."

"[President Widodo] has always had an aggressive stance on drugs, but this is an intensification of rhetoric that is worrying because it can be seen as an endorsement of extrajudicial killings," said Usman Hamid, the director of Amnesty International Indonesia.

Indonesia, unlike the Philippines, already employs the death penalty legally, including against nonviolent drug traffickers. Widodo has overseen 18 executions since taking office in 2014. But experts agree that Indonesia's drug war has been much less violent than in the Philippines.

Police in Jakarta did not respond to requests for data, but Dr. Jacqui Baker at Murdoch University in Australia estimates that Indonesian police kill hundreds of people each year, numbers roughly in line with those in the U.S. In a significant number of cases, evidence suggests alleged drug traffickers were the victims of extrajudicial executions – and research indicates this number is increasing.

Hamid agreed that the situation in Indonesia is not nearly as severe as in the Philippines, and said that Widodo would face political constraints even if he chose to copy Duterte. But he argued that small steps in that direction are significant, and that the Indonesian president has surely noticed the success Duterte now enjoys at home and abroad.

"It's likely that governments all around this region see the way Trump praised Duterte as a signal that they may take the same approach towards illicit drugs," Hamid said.

In an April phone call, Trump praised Duterte for doing an "unbelievable job on the drug problem... Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that," said Trump, according to a transcript of the call.

Indonesia has its own recent history of extrajudicial killings. In the 1980s, thousands of suspected criminals and gang members were killed under President Suharto, an authoritarian allied with Washington. The country's human rights commission later blamed police and military for the majority of the deaths.

Widodo is considered more liberal than most of his powerful rivals in Indonesia's young democracy – Suharto left power after more than 30 years in 1998 – and has spent much of 2017 responding to insurgent conservative forces. In April, former ally and Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was sentenced to jail for blasphemy after Islamist groups organized large-scale protests against the Christian politician.

Both Hamid and Baker say that focusing more on a popular drug war may be one way for Widodo to appeal to a broad base of voters, including those to his right.

"I don't think [Widodo] would want to see blood on the streets in the same way that Duterte has stomach for... but the government has been blindsided by Islam and is scrambling for a narrative that will grab people emotionally," Baker said.

And, like Hamid, she says even small shifts in Widodo's language have consequences. "[His] statements legitimize shootings against a certain type of crime," she said, "and legitimizing them makes it likely we will see more of them."

[Callistasia Anggun Wijaya contributed to this report.]

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/08/04/indonesia-might-be-copying-the-vigilante-violence-of-dutertes-drug-war/

Indonesia executed Nigerian despite case being unresolved, watchdog says

The Guardian (Australia) - August 1, 2017

Vincent Bevins, Jakarta – An official watchdog has found that Indonesia executed a Nigerian man last year while his case was unresolved, leading to renewed calls for a halt to a system holding hundreds of prisoners on death row.

Indonesia's ombudsman found that Humphrey Jefferson was seeking clemency when he faced a firing squad along with three others in July 2016, meaning that he still had a chance to be pardoned. The four were all convicted of drug trafficking.

It is believed authorities are preparing for more executions and a group of prisoners, including Frank Amado, an American citizen, were transferred to "execution island" earlier this year.

Two UK citizens – Gareth Cashmore and Lindsay Sandiford, both convicted of trafficking – also await their fate on Indonesia's death row.

"This shows that the attorney general did violate the law last year," said Ricky Gunawan, the director of the Community Legal Aid Institute, which represented Jefferson and petitioned for the ombudsman investigation.

"They have been eager to organise a new round of executions, but this shows that last year's proceedings were a mess. Because of the ruling they will have to be extremely careful if they choose to go forward."

The Community Legal Aid Institute, along with Human Rights Watch, has called for an end to the death penalty in Indonesia. Human Rights Watch published a statement on Monday saying: "Indonesia should restore the unofficial moratorium on the death penalty and ensure the rights of criminal suspects, including those implicated in drug crimes, are respected rather than steamrolled."

The Indonesian president, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, has stepped up his rhetoric in the country's war on drugs, saying recently that police should shoot drug dealers on the spot if they resist arrest.

Indonesia ended an unofficial four-year moratorium on executions in 2013. Eighteen prisoners have been executed since Jokowi took office in 2014. Most of the sentences are carried out against foreigners and Indonesia has repeatedly resisted appeals even from friendly governments – such as Australia – for mercy.

The Indonesian attorney general's office has denied it violated protocol but is legally required to respond to the ombudsman's findings, Gunawan said.

Jefferson was executed alongside two other Nigerians and an Indonesian. In addition to finding that Jefferson's clemency request was not respected, Indonesia's ombudsman found authorities did not comply with rules requiring them to issue notification 72 hours before carrying out his execution.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/01/indonesia-executed-nigerian-humphrey-jefferson-despite-case-being-unresolved-watchdog-says

Mining & energy

Union to press for Freeport mine worker rights on Indonesia visit

Reuters - August 3, 2017

Toronto/Jakarta – A trade union said on Wednesday (03/08) that it will press Indonesia's government to reinstate thousands of striking workers at Freeport-McMoRan's Grasberg mine when union officials visit the Southeast Asian country next week.

IndustriALL Global Union said in an emailed statement that it would formally announce plans on Thursday for its mission to support striking workers at Grasberg, the world's second-largest copper mine, and a smelter jointly owned and operated by Freeport and Mitsubishi Materials.

"We will demand that the government uphold fundamental labor standards," said IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary, Kemal Özkan. IndustriALL says it represents 50 million workers in 140 countries worldwide and has previously worked to highlight safety and pay issues in Southeast Asia's garment industry.

A Jakarta-based spokesman for Freeport Indonesia did not answer calls or immediately respond to questions on the matter, but said last month that laid off workers may be reinstated.

"We are giving an opportunity to striking employees to join recruitment via our contractor," Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama told Reuters last month.

Arizona-based Freeport, the world's biggest publicly-traded copper miner, has repeatedly said it has acted on labor issues in accordance with Indonesian law and its labor contract.

Following export restrictions related to a permit dispute, Freeport furloughed some 3,000 workers in Indonesia earlier this year, which prompted a strike and high levels of absenteeism.

Freeport later deemed that approximately 3,000 full-time and 1,000 contract employees who were absent had "voluntarily resigned".

"We are using this as an opportunity to really deal with some workforce issues that have been with us for some time now," Freeport chief executive Richard Adkerson said on a call with analysts on July 25. "We've got support from the authorities," he said.

An estimated 5,000 workers at Grasberg have extended their strike for a fourth month, to the end of August.

As a result of "reduced manpower levels" at Grasberg, Freeport said it had missed its second-quarter sales target and revised down an earlier 2017 sales outlook by approximately 150 million pounds (68,039 tonnes) of copper and 320 thousand ounces (9,071.85 kg) of gold.

Freeport is now "taking steps to increase its workforce in order to restore normal operating rates," it said.

The union said it would meet with senior management from Freeport's Indonesian unit and heads of the affected Indonesian unions in Jakarta on Aug. 10. Union representatives would also meet with officials from Indonesia's Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Ministry of Manpower during the Aug. 8-11 visit. A local union official in Jakarta confirmed the planned visit.

IndustriALL said it wants the government to declare Freeport's furlough illegal, while recognizing that workers went on a legal and legitimate strike and did not "voluntarily resign."

The union has previously said 309 workers at Smelting were also deemed to have "voluntarily resigned" after taking part in a strike.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/union-press-freeport-mine-worker-rights-indonesia-visit/

Minister to revise regulation after President's criticism

Jakarta Post - August 1, 2017

Jakarta – Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan plans to revise Ministerial Decree No. 42/2017 on business activity supervision in the energy and mineral resources sector after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo criticized him for issuing regulations that made doing business more complicated.

Representatives of the ministry have attended meetings with several stakeholders, including investors in the energy and mineral resource business to seek input for the revision of the regulation, said ministry secretary-general Teguh Pamudji on Monday.

He added that Minister Jonan had met with the President soon after he arrived in Jakarta on Friday after his trip to the United States. Teguh said Jokowi had conveyed his direction to Jonan about the regulation revision.

"Right now, we have finished revising the regulation and will report the revision to the minister. The revision will be announced in a day or two," he said.

The regulation was issued on July 14 and received wide criticism, particularly on the obligation for companies to seek approval from the ministry and related institutions if there is a change in their top management and if there is partial or full transfer of their shares.

Teguh declined to explain about the revision, but stressed that there was a significant change in the revised regulation.

"Principally, we support investors. If the public wants to have a role in the revision, we will accommodate it as long as it is under our proper supervision and based on the existing regulation," he added. (dea/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/31/minister-to-revise-regulation-after-presidents-criticism.html

Economy & investment

RI economy expands by 5.01% yoy in Q2

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2017

Prima Wirayani, Jakarta – Indonesia's economic growth stagnated at 5.01 percent year on year (yoy) in the second quarter compared to the first quarter, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced on Monday in Jakarta.

Private consumption, which accounts for more than half of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), grew by 4.95 percent yoy, slightly higher than the 4.94 percent recorded in the first three months of the year.

"This is evidence that our consumption continues to grow strongly," BPS head Suhariyanto told Monday's press conference.

The people's purchasing power has become a topic of current public debate, following reports from businesspeople that their sales increased insignificantly during the Idul Fitri holiday season when consumption usually peaked, sparking concerns about overall economic growth.

Government spending growth, meanwhile, contracted to -1.93 percent yoy compared to 2.68 percent in the first quarter due to Idul Fitri bonus disbursements in July, moving back a month from June last year, Suhariyanto added.

Exports and imports grew slowly in the second quarter at 3.36 percent yoy and 0.55 percent yoy, respectively.

Export was the savior of economic growth in the previous quarter, as it grew the highest at 8.04 percent. During the April-June period, it was the investment component that jacked up the country's economic growth, as it expanded by 5.35 percent yoy versus 4.78 percent in the first quarter. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/07/ri-economy-expands-by-5-01-yoy-in-q2.html

Indonesia Q2 GDP misses expectations on consumption, commodities

Reuters - August 7, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesia's annual economic growth grew more slowly than expected in the second quarter, with growth in some key sectors slowing and pivotal private consumption remaining sluggish.

Southeast Asia's largest economy grew 5.01 percent in April-June from a year earlier, slower than expected and unchanged from the first quarter's pace.

"The recovery is ongoing, just at a slower pace than we have previously expected," said Gundy Cahyadi, an economist at DBS Bank.

"Overall, we now see more downside risks to our 2018 GDP growth forecast of 5.4 percent, even if we maintain our 2017 GDP growth forecast at 5.1 percent for now," Gundy said.

Indonesia has been struggling to accelerate growth meaningfully to create jobs and improve the livelihood of its 250 million population. Many analysts say a 5 percent growth rate is not enough.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo promised to revive growth to 7 percent during his five-year term, which will end in 2019. This year, he had to settle for a 5.2 percent growth target.

Private consumption, which accounts for more than half of Indonesia's gross domestic product, expanded slightly faster in the second quarter compared to the first quarter, but grew more slowly against a year ago.

Suhariyanto, the head of the statistics bureau, told a news conference on there was a slowdown in growth of debit transactions, which could indicate "people psychologically holding back spending to see what's going on in the global economy".

By sector, growth in trade also slowed, which Suhariyanto attributed to "a slowdown in domestic goods production and supply of imported goods". Growth in manufacturing and agriculture sector also cooled.

The benchmark stock index showed little reaction to the data and maintained a 0.5 percent gain, and the rupiah was also little moved.

Ahead of the data announcement, Bank Indonesia Governor Agus Martowardojo flagged a possibility of monetary policy easing to add to a host of measures the central bank has taken to try to stimulate demand. BI last year cut its benchmark rate six times, to 4.75 percent, and eased lending rules.

The government has obtained parliamentary approval to increase spending this year, including on infrastructure, which should aid growth in coming quarters. But it remains to be seen if the economy would respond to more fiscal and monetary stimulus.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesias-q2-economic-growth-5-01-expectation/

Government crafts a response to businesspeople's complaints

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2017

Jakarta – The government held a meeting on Tuesday, attended by several ministers and related officials, for the strict purpose of listening to businesspeople's complaints about the problems they frequently faced when dealing with bureaucratic institutions.

Dozens of participating businesspeople used the opportunity to express their frustrations, including the lengthy processes they experienced in obtaining permits, complicated regulations and limited information provided at government offices.

The meeting was also attended by Chief of Staff Teten Masduki, Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto, Customs and Excise director Heru Pambudi, and Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) commissioner Saut Situmorang.

Bobby Nurwanto, an importer of medical equipment, for example, said officials at the front desks could not provide him with a satisfactory explanation when obtaining business permits.

"We only received limited information from the front desks when we filed an application for my import permit," he said at the meeting. The meeting showed that similar occurrences were a common experience among many businesspeople.

In her response, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government would establish a small team, whose members would consist of representatives of the Industry Ministry, the Trade Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Customs and Excise office and the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency to follow up on the complaints.

"People who want to comply with the regulations have asked us to have a simpler and more transparent [system]. I think that is a fair request. The government will try to improve the work of the bureaucracy to that they can provide better services," said Sri Mulyani. (mrc/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/02/govt-opens-ears-to-businesspeoples-complaints.html

Indonesian, American business councils to work toward improving Indonesia's

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2017

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) and the US-ASEAN Business Council signed on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a collaboration that aims to improve Indonesia's investment climate

The agreement will be followed up by the placement of a US-ASEAN Business council representative in Indonesia, who will work with Kadin to identify problems faced by United States companies in Indonesia.

"We will have our senior country director here and also a representative of Kadin to get together on [a] regular basis just to talk about what kind of issues [US companies are facing and] to advocate on these points," council senior vice president Michael W. Michalak told reporters after the signing ceremony.

US direct investment in Indonesia increased by 23.1 percent annually to reach US$1.1 billion in 2016, and this year's figure is expected to exceed that, with the US already investing $968.8 million in the archipelago so far, data from the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) shows.

Amongst US firms attending the signing ceremonies are food trader Cargill, beverage maker Coca Cola, finance services giant VISA, Citibank, oil and gas firms ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, mobile chip maker Qualcomm, computer networking company Cisco and cloud provider Amazon Web Services, all of which are present in Indonesia and or ASEAN. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/02/indonesian-american-business-councils-to-work-toward-improving-indonesias-investment-climate.html

Foreign investors retreat from Indonesian stocks thanks to a spending slump

Bloomberg - August 1, 2017

Harry Suhartono – As Indonesians keep their wallets in their pockets, foreigners are pulling money from a stock market dominated by consumer companies.

Consumer goods companies' second-quarter net income has dropped 30 percent year-on-year, while motorcycle sales, a key barometer in a nation where there's almost one scooter for every three people, fell 29 percent in June from May. Foreign funds responded by selling a net $798 million of local shares last month, even as they kept buying into most other Asian markets.

No one is quite sure why spending has slowed so much, although a rise in religious tension and a decline in private investment have been cited as possible reasons. Whether or not the downturn persists will be crucial for a market where many of the biggest companies – such as auto retailer PT Astra International and noodle maker PT Indofood CBP Sukses Makmur – are reliant on domestic demand.

"Weaker-than-expected consumer spending was a key reason for the foreign selloff," said Bharat Joshi, who helps manage $3.5 billion as the head of Indonesian investments at Aberdeen Asset Management Plc in Jakarta. "A rise in valuations hasn't been supported by earnings growth."

The selloff took place after the Jakarta Composite Index rose 18 percent from late December to a record high on July 3. Even though the gauge has declined 1.8 percent since then, its 12-month price-to-earnings ratio is still around 6 percent above the five-year average.

Indofood CBP had its first ever year-on-year drop in sales last quarter, with Chief Executive Officer Anthoni Salim saying last week he remained cautious about the outlook for the rest of the year. A central bank consumer confidence gauge dropped the most in June since mid-2015.

The slowdown has fed through to the share prices of some of the big consumer-focused companies:

PT Bank OCBC NISP President Director Parwati Surjaudaja said she thought politics had played a part in the spending slowdown. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims took to the streets of Jakarta to protest against the incumbent ethnic Chinese, Christian governor, prior to the city's election in April. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ally of President Joko Widodo, lost the vote and was subsequently jailed on blasphemy charges.

Further correction

"I think politics is one of the key issues," Surjaudaja said. "People start getting reminded of the nightmare of 1998, that things can happen," she said, referring to ethnic riots before the downfall of the dictator Suharto.

Not everyone thinks the spending slowdown has driven the outflows. Indonesia's capital markets have taken a bit longer to stabilize following the conclusion of the tax amnesty earlier this year, said Alan Richardson, investment manager at Samsung Asset Management in Hong Kong. "It's more deferred transmission than a long-term problem, so the future still looks promising."

Jeffrosenberg Tan, head of strategy at PT Sinarmas Sekuritas in Jakarta, said the spending downturn had been caused by a decline in private investment over the past four years and the failure of a commodity-price rebound to trickle down to the rest of the economy.

"There will be a further correction in the market until investors can see consumer spending has started to bottom out," he said. This would create a buying opportunity as demand will rebound eventually, he said.

– With assistance by Yudith Ho

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-01/mysterious-spending-slump-spurs-retreat-from-indonesian-stocks

US investors call on Indonesia to resolve regulatory issues

Jakarta Post - August 1, 2017

Jakarta – Senior vice president and regional managing director of the US-ASEAN Business Council Michael W. Michalak has said that the United States was concerned about relations between the Indonesian government and the private sector.

He said US investors called on the Indonesian government to resolve several issues, including those related to investment barriers in the oil and gas sector, the payment sector and the digital economy.

"We mainly talked about investment that, we think, really has good potential as long as we can resolve some regulatory issues," said Michalak after meeting with Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan in Jakarta on Tuesday.

He praised Luhut, saying that the "senior minister was very forthcoming" when Luhut said he would welcome any discussions with the private sector on investment issues. Michalak said the US considered ASEAN as one of the growth engines of the economy.

In April, US Vice President Mike Pence and his Indonesian counterpart Jusuf Kalla celebrated more than US$10 billion worth of trade and investment agreements, which they said demonstrated the strength of the US-Indonesia economic ties.

Indonesia pocketed Rp 165.8 trillion (US$12.5 billion) in investments in the first quarter of the year, or 24.4 percent of the 2017 investment target of Rp 678.8 trillion, the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) announced in April.

The figure is a 13.2 percent increase from the Rp 146.5 trillion in investments recorded in the same quarter last year. (dis/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/01/us-investors-call-on-indonesia-to-resolve-regulatory-issues.html

Taxation & state budget

Don't worry about government debt, deficit: Sri Mulyani

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2017

Jakarta – Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has told the public not to worry about the government debt and state budget deficit because they are in secured condition.

"People only see the nominal," said Sri Mulyani in Jakarta on Tuesday as quoted by tempo.co, adding that many factors should be considered when assessing the government debt and state budget deficit.

As reported previously the government debt was recorded at Rp 3.67 quadrillion (US$275.09 billion) in the first half of 2017 and the state budget deficit was assumed to be at Rp 397.20 trillion or 2.93 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of this year.

She believed the state budget deficit would reach only about 2.67 percent by the end of 2017 after considering spending in government institutions, which were usually at between 95 and 97 percent of their respective allocations.

Speaking about the government debt, Sri Mulyani stressed that it could not be compared with the situation in 2010 when she was also the finance minister under then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

She stressed that at that time the state budget was recorded at Rp 900 trillion, while this year, the state budget reached Rp 2 quadrillion. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/08/02/government-debt-deficit-nothing-to-worry-about-minister.html

Analysis & opinion

After tax amnesty, repression

Jakarta Post Editorial - August 7, 2017

Jakarta – The filing of criminal charges with the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office against a suspected tax evader by the tax office on Wednesday is only the first step in a massive crackdown on tax evaders that Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati promised before the end of the six-month tax amnesty in March.

Even though the tax amnesty was billed one of the most successful in the world, resulting in almost US$10 billion in additional tax revenues and $365 billion worth of new assets being put into the tax net (declared), the government has concluded that there are still many high net-worth individuals who refused to participate in the tax amnesty.

The assets of Indonesian citizens within the country and overseas declared are also way below the official estimate. Indonesia's tax ratio (against gross domestic product), around 11 percent at present, is indeed the lowest in the ASEAN region and is way below the minimum 15 percent threshold necessary to stimulate growth.

In the first half alone, the Directorate General of taxation had 52 recalcitrant taxpayers detained for failing to settle their tax debts, as against 58 throughout last year and only 28 in 2015.

The South Jakarta Tax Office, the 10th-biggest contributor to national tax collection, has promised to lay tax criminal charges against at least four more taxpayers this year.

Unlike the detention of tax debtors who will be immediately released after they settle their tax debts, taxpayers with criminal charges filed with the prosecutor's office will go on trial at the district court and be charged with both tax crimes and money laundering.

Many studies have indeed shown that a strong deterrent, resulting from strong law enforcement such as audits, effective oversight and prosecution, is an important aspect in convincing taxpayers to be voluntarily compliant as they know that the cost of tax evasion (detection) is quite high. It would be more effective if the aspect of deterrence is supported by strong personal and social norms against noncompliance, which are the foundations for a tax culture.

But given the inadequate technical knowledge of public prosecutors on tax matters, the Directorate General of Taxation needs to cooperate closely with the Attorney General's Office in preparing dossiers on suspected tax evaders.

Of no less importance is that the Finance Ministry should see to it that the data bases and benchmarks of all tax offices across the country are properly interconnected so that can make an accurate mapping of tax potential, and consequently set realistic tax revenue targets.

In addition, Sri Mulyani needs to step up training to upgrade the technical competence of tax officials, given the increasing complexity of business and financial transactions, and develop stronger internal control to maintain their integrity in order to minimize the mutual distrust that still lingers between taxpayers and tax officials.

Only with higher competence and stronger integrity will the tax office be able to conduct stronger enforcement of tax laws, which in turn is a prerequisite for building up a stronger deterrence to tax evasion and for increasing voluntary tax compliance.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2017/08/07/editorial-after-tax-amnesty-repression.html

Indonesia's unresolved police killings in Papua

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - August 3, 2017

Andreas Harsono – Twenty-eight-year-old Yulius Pigai of West Papua's remote Deiyai regency is the latest native Papuan shot dead by Indonesian police.

The police account of the incident is that police opened fire using rubber bullets on rock-throwing protesters who "ran amok" and ignored repeated demands to disperse. Police say that three other protesters were wounded in the incident allegedly sparked by the refusal of PT Putra Dewa Paniai construction company workers to transport a local villager to a hospital.

Papuan villagers have a different story. They say that the police opened fire on the protesters without warning and that, in addition to killing Pigai, wounded seven people, including two children. Papuan social media is rife with photographs of shell casings allegedly found at the site, implying that police fired live rounds rather than rubber bullets. Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM) has announced an investigation.

We will probably never know what really happened in Deiyai. That's because the government obstructs the watchdog function of a free press by severely restricting access for foreign media to Papua despite a May 2015 pledge by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to lift those restrictions. Indonesian journalists in Papua, particularly native Papuans, who dare to report on "sensitive" topics, including security forces' abuses are highly vulnerable to official harassment, intimidation and violence. The result: competing allegations of official wrongdoing about security force violence that are immune to media scrutiny.

Papuans have learned that official promises of independent investigations by agencies including KOMNAS HAM go nowhere. Exhibit A is the official response to the December 8, 2014 security force killing of five Papuan youths in Enarotali in Papua's Paniai regency. Despite three separate official investigations into the shootings, bolstered by Jokowi's December 2014 pledge to thoroughly investigate and punish security forces implicated in those deaths, there has been zero accountability.

On Wednesday, the English-language Jakarta Post newspaper published an editorial, "Open Papua to the World." The editorial argued for lifting media restrictions in Papua stating, "By maintaining this restriction, the government is operating like a paranoid regime, afraid the outside world may find the skeletons it hides in its closet." Until the government follows that advice, killings of Papuans such as Yulius Pigai will continue without accountability.

[Andreas Harsono is and Indonesia Researcher.]

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/08/03/indonesias-unresolved-police-killings-papua

Open Papua to the world

Jakarta Post Editorial - August 2, 2017

Jakarta – The campaign for an independent Papua has been relentless and has made significant gains in past years. In January this year, the Free West Papua Campaign launched with great fanfare a global petition demanding an internationally supervised referendum for the region.

The petition will remain open until August this year and once it closes will be carried by a team of swimmers across Lake Geneva to be personally handed to the secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres. The campaign itself appears to have been designed by a techsavvy public relations team who also posted a YouTube video featuring pro-independence activist Benny Wenda calling for viewers to join the campaign.

The publicity stunt is a follow-up to the progress the movement has made in recent months. Last year, Free Papua activists managed to enlist an impressive cast of characters to support their cause, ranging from figures like Tongan Prime Minister Akilisi Pahiva, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson.

The PR campaign followed what could be deemed as a coup for the independent Papua movement. In September last year, seven Pacific island nations raised the issue of human rights abuses in Papua to the UN General Assembly. Anecdotal observations have also shown evidence that the campaign to promote an independent Papua has gained steam in Australia and New Zealand. A senior Indonesian diplomat told of his experience of being confronted by a Pacific island student who was campaigning for a free Papua during a graduation event.

So, at almost every turn, we are being outmaneuvered by campaigners who want to see Papua separate from Indonesia. And yet the Indonesian government has done very little to counter it.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has made efforts to hasten development in Papua including rolling out the one-fuel price policy, which was aimed at boosting economic growth in Papua. Jokowi also signed off on a series of massive infrastructure projects in the region. Early in his administration, Jokowi made a gesture of reconciliation by releasing five political prisoners, a decision the President said was to aid conflict resolution in the restive region.

But none of these efforts have been viewed positively by the outside world because the government continues to cordon off Papua. Despite Jokowi's pledge early in his administration to give foreign journalists greater access to Papua, his government has maintained a policy that makes it difficult for members of the international media to operate in the region. Today, an interagency "clearing house" continues to operate to vet requests from foreign journalists and researchers before they are permitted to travel to the country's easternmost province. Earlier this year, two French journalists were deported from Timika, Papua, after failing to obtain a reporting permit.

By maintaining this restriction, the government is operating like a paranoid regime, afraid the outside world may find the skeletons it hides in its closet. If the government has done much to improve the lives of Papuans, why not show it to the world?

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2017/08/02/editorial-open-papua-to-the-world.html


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