The West Papua National Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting of an Indonesian soldier in Papua province yesterday.
The shooting took place at a market in Sinak in Papua's Puncak Jaya regency.
A Highlands-based Defense Region Command of the rebel group, which says it is waging a war for West Papuan independence from Indonesia, made a statement about the attack.
A spokesperson confirmed a team of Liberation Army fighters shot the soldier dead. He said the shooting was a message to the government of Indonesia and the global public that the West Papua National Liberation Army would not cease to oppose the military and the Indonesian police.
Advocacy groups have urged Jakarta to end human rights violations and improve media access to the area, where militants linked to the Free Papua Movement have been targeting operations at the vast Grasberg copper mine run by American company Freeport McMoRan.
Rights activists have accused Indonesia's security forces of abducting and torturing indigineous Papuans and using deadly force to quell their protests.
Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta - Zely Ariane, an editor at the Tabloid Jubi newspaper in Indonesia's easternmost region of Papua, gets frustrated each time an acquaintance travels there and asks to meet up on short notice. None of them, it seems, realizes just how vast the region is.
"My friends always say, 'Hey, I'm in Papua, let's meet up!'" Zely said in Jakarta recently. "But where in Papua, though? If someone was to ask to meet you in Java, they'd surely say where [specifically], no?"
The name Papua typically refers to the western half of the island of New Guinea, which is split up into two administrative regions: the provinces of West Papua and Papua. Together, they cover more than 420,000 square kilometers (162,000 square miles) - an area the size of California. Crucially, the two provinces account for 35 percent of Indonesia's remaining rainforest, spanning 294,000 square kilometers (113,500 square miles).
"No one seems to have a good grasp of the geography of Papua, or at least almost no one," Zely said.
This lack of understanding is due in part to the remoteness of the region - Indonesia's least developed and most impoverished - and its harsh mountainous terrain, as well as to the security response to a low-level separatist insurgency simmering since the 1960s.
The military and police have for decades maintained a strong presence there, and to date it remains the least accessible part of Indonesia for journalists - in particular foreign reporters, who require a special permit just to visit the region. Earlier this month, a BBC reporter covering a health crisis in the district of Asmat was ordered to leave the region after posting tweets that the military deemed insulting.
With the authorities maintaining a chokehold on the information coming out of Papua, amid very little transparency, concerns abound over the state of human rights, healthcare, education and other development issues in Papua. Now rising up that list of concerns is the environment, as the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo eyes the country's easternmost provinces as a new frontier ripe for plantations, primarily oil palm, which have already nearly depleted the forests of Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo.
Now, local activists have stepped into the information vacuum with an initiative that seeks to bring greater transparency to the changes being wrought to Papua's environment in the name of economic development.
Through their recently launched website, Mata Papua [http://matapapua.org/}, or "Eye of Papua," activists from the rights advocacy group Yayasan Pusaka provide reports with an emphasis on the welfare of indigenous communities and the activities of natural resource-exploitation companies: plantations, miners and loggers.
"The idea behind this website came after seeing the difficulties in accessing information and data on permits and documents related to the extractives industries," Franky Samperante, the Yayasan Pusaka executive director, said at the launch of the website in Jakarta.
Mata Papua provides photos, videos and written reports on Papua, as well as a map built on the open-source geographical information system QGIS. The map features five overlays: social, concessions, forests, demographics and administrative. "So if you want to know about the people in Papua, you would click on the social map," Franky said.
He said he hoped Mata Papua would help empower Papua's indigenous people with knowledge about their own areas and the presence of extractives companies operating in their midst. The site also aims to help officials with policy-making and give the general public a better understanding of this little-understood region.
Franky said he believed access to information was crucial for Papua as developers ramp up their operations in the region. A recent study by Duke University and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis showed that deforestation driven by oil palm expansion in the region had escalated in the past decade, increasing fivefold.
"Right now, Sumatra and Kalimantan are already flooded with extractives permits, which is why investors are eyeing Papua next," Franky said.
Papua is also home to one of the world's biggest copper and gold mines, the Grasberg facility operated by a subsidiary of the U.S. mining giant Freeport McMoRan. Mining remains the dominant extractive industry in the region, accounting for a combined 90,000 square kilometers (about 35,000 square miles) of leases, according to Franky. This is followed by logging, with 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles) and plantations with 21,000 square kilometers (8,100 square miles).
The expansion of the extractives industries has fueled conflicts with indigenous people in Papua. Local media reports have mentioned only five such conflicts, according to the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA), an NGO - a figure it says would be much higher if greater access to data on land conflicts was available.
"That's why we need to be alert and watch every policy," Franky said, "because the failure to monitor Sumatra and Kalimantan has resulted in uncontrollable permit issuance there."
A measles and malnutrition crisis has killed at least 72 people, mostly children, in Indonesia's remote province of Papua, home to the world's biggest gold mine.
As Rebecca Henschke and Hedyer Affan report, the crisis has put the spotlight on a region closed off to journalists for decades and revealed serious government failings.
Just two months old, Yulita Atap's life has already been brutally hard. Her mother died in childbirth. Her father gave her up for dead. "In the cloud of grief he wanted to hit her, to bury her with her mother," says her uncle, Ruben Atap.
"I said, don't do that, God will be angry, he became calm and was grateful that we wanted to take care of her, but we are now struggling to keep her alive."
She lies limply on a bed in the only hospital in the Asmat regency, a jungle-covered area the size of Belgium. Her ribs exposed, nearly piercing through her skin, her stomach bloated, she floats in and out of sleep. Her uncle stares constantly at her tiny body.
Government health workers helped him make a two-day journey on a speedboat up a river to get here. The rivers are the highways, weaving like snakes through the thick jungle.
On the next hospital bed is Ofnea Yohanna's family. Three of her children, aged four, three and two, are severely malnourished. She married when she was just 12 years old. Still in her twenties, she has six children.
"We eat when there is food, when there isn't we don't. We don't have a boat at the moment to go fishing in," she says.
While we talk her daughter stares emptily off into the distance, her eyes hollow and lifeless. She picks at a packet of sweet biscuits, a pile of plain white rice on brown paper sits uneaten next to her.
Traditionally, the Asmat tribe has lived on sago starch extracted from palms, and fish from the rivers and sea.
"Asmat is, in its way, a perfect place. Everything you could possibly need is here," wrote Carl Hoffman in his 2014 book about the disappearance and presumed death of New York socialite, Michael Rockefeller, in Asmat in the 1960s.
"It's teeming with shrimp and crabs and fish and clams and sago palm, whose pith can be pounded into a white starch and which hosts the larvae of the Capricorn beetle, both key sources of nutrition," he wrote.
Michael Rockefeller, the child of a New York governor and from one of America's richest families, came across the world to Asmat to collect the tribe's elaborate and impressive art that includes stylised giant wood carvings.
The art of the Asmat people is found in top museums across the world and is prized by collectors. Rockefeller's black and white photos from his journey to visit the Asmat people, at the time cannibals and head-hunters, amazed the Western world.
The semi-nomadic Asmat tribes used to spend months in the forest to make sago and find enough food to live.
Cultural changes began happening in the 1950s with the arrival of Christian missionaries, and in recent years diets have dramatically changed with increasing number of migrants from other Indonesian islands coming here.
The nearest city of Timika, an hour's flight away, serves as a centre for the US-owned Freeport mine, the world's largest gold mine. Timika has one of the fastest population growths in Indonesia.
"People increasingly buy imported food and because in some places the forests have been logged they have to go further to get sago," says local health researcher, Willem Bobi. "So now the quickest thing is to buy instant processed food; government money has come in and made our people dependent."
A native Papuan, Willem Bobi travelled across the vast jungle-covered area and described the dire health situation in a book, "The Asmat Medicine Man", which was published last year.
"I knew a crisis like this would come. I saw there was a lack of clean water and a serious lack of health facilitates. I saw health clinics where the only doctors had been on leave for months but were still being paid wages.
"The crisis we are seeing now has happened many times before but it has never been as bad as now," he says. "It's happening because the health authorities have not dealt with this seriously enough."
As news spread about the measles outbreak, President Joko Widodo ordered military and medical teams to bring supplies to remote villages. Health workers and paramedics vaccinated more than 17,300 children, and authorities now say the measles outbreak is under control.
The military says it is now running a year-old monitoring operation in the area to find out where problems are. However, the head of the military medical teams acknowledged that Jakarta's response was slow.
"Let's be honest, maybe the local and national governments became aware of this [outbreak] late," Asep Setia Gunawan, the military's medical taskforce chief, told AFP.
The military has been accused by rights groups of gross human rights abuses in its attempts to suppress any dissent. Until recently foreign journalists were not allowed to report here. I had to get special permission from the police to travel here.
There was unrest while we visited; a women was shot dead. Police said she was among villagers who tried to help a man escape arrest.
He was accused of selling ore concentrate, which he had allegedly taken from the cargo dock of US mining company Freeport-McMoRan. The women's family say she was an innocent bystander. And now police are conducting an internal investigation.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, on a visit last week to Indonesia, said he was concerned "about increasing reports of the excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua".
He said the Indonesian government had invited the United Nations to send a mission to the province, something it would do soon.
In an attempt to ease tensions, Papua was granted greater autonomy in 2001, and there has been a significant increase in government funds for the region, with Jakarta vowing to bring prosperity to the people of Papua.
But Ruben Atap, like many Papuans I met, suggests the wave of cash has mainly benefited a select few. "Our local leaders take the money and use it for themselves. They don't think of their people and fill their own bellies," he said.
Papua has been a sensitive region since it became part of Indonesia in the 1960s following what some historians allege was a flawed UN-supervised vote.
Just 1,063 people were selected to vote. The province is incredibly resource rich, home to the world's biggest gold mine, which is one of Indonesia's largest taxpayers.
The government says Papua is an integral part of Indonesia and that this has been recognised by the United Nations. But a low-level separatist movement, fighting for independence, continues to this day.
In wake of the outbreaks, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said that special autonomy funding for the province would be re-evaluated to make sure it was being used for development.
"This is a lesson for us, because throughout this time the special autonomy funds have been disbursed as a block grant to the provincial government even though special autonomy has specific purposes," she said last week.
The Regent of Asmat, Elisa Kambu, said the problem had wider issues. He said people in Jakarta "just talk about money, that lots of money comes to Papua; money alone cannot solve this problem".
"Asmat is a wake-up call for us all," said presidential advisor, Yanuar Nugroho.
He said a number of other areas in Papua could face the same health crisis and Asmat was just the tip of the iceberg. "The problem lies with the local government," he said.
Willem Bobi, the health researcher, thinks the solution lies perhaps in less government.
"Maybe then it will not be easy to get money anymore and people will go back to the old natural ways of finding food," he says, laughing. "But of course that's going to be very hard, because now it's easier [to] buy instant food."
A proposal by President Widodo to relocate Asmat people scattered throughout the jungle into a town, so they could be close to medical services, was immediately rejected by local leaders. "Moving people is not as easy as that because we have culture, customs, land rights and connection to the land," says the regent, Elisa Kambu.
President Widodo has visited Papua more than six times since his election in 2014, working hard to demonstrate Jakarta's commitment to developing the province, prioritising infrastructure construction.
And in the wake of the crisis the government has vowed to invest more in health facilities across the remote area as well as schools.
Ruben Atap says he hopes one day his tiny niece will go to school. "What do you hope she will do after that?" I ask.
He laughs nervously. 'I don't know what her future will be like, we are just trying our best to help her survive."
Jakarta Armed separatists shot dead an Indonesian soldier on Monday during a gunfight at a market place in the remote easternmost province of Papua, a military spokesman said.
Papua has suffered a simmering separatist conflict since it was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticised U.N.-backed referendum in 1969 and remains one of the poorest regions in Indonesia.
"Five members of the separatist criminal group, armed with pistols and machetes, attacked members of the Indonesian military," Papua military spokesman Muhammad Aidi said in a statement received by text message.
One soldier was killed in the attack at a market in Sinak, Puncak Jaya regency, it said.
Rights groups have urged Jakarta to end rights violations and improve media access to the area, where a group linked to the Free Papua Movement recently targeted mining operations of Freeport McMoRan Inc.
Members of Indonesia's security forces have been accused by rights activists of abducting and torturing Papuans and using deadly force to quell protests.
Damien Kingsbury, Jakarta, Jubi/Crikey West Papua has shown once again that freedom of speech is only for those who follow the rules.
The arrest and expulsion of Australian journalist Rebecca Henschke from the Indonesian province of (West) Papua over the weekend again highlights the sensitivities of the Indonesian military, the TNI, and its desire for [control] over the territory.
It also shows, again, that while Papua is more open to journalists than in the past, that openness remains limited, reflecting the TNI's deep paranoia about separatist sentiments in the mineral-rich province.
Henschke, a BBC correspondent in Jakarta, was arrested after tweeting that malnourished children in Papua were to be given "instant noodles, super sweet soft drinks and biscuits" and that children in hospital have chocolate biscuits to eat "and that's it".
Henschke also tweeted a picture of Indonesian soldiers with a bird in a cage, which could have been interpreted as illegal wildlife smuggling.
Colonel Muhammad Aidi said that Henschke's tweets were defamatory because they implied wrongdoing or lack of care. Aidi said that goods being unloaded at a dock to which Henschke referred were ordinary merchant's supplies and not emergency aid for the severely malnourished people of Papua's Asmat province.
West Papua's two provinces of Papua and West Papua are the poorest in Indonesia, despite the massive wealth generated by natural resources, including the world's largest gold mine and the second largest copper mine at Grasberg near Timika. The standard of living of the territory's ethnic Melanesians is significantly lower than that of other Indonesians in the territory.
A low-level separatist conflict has been underway in Papua since the mid-1960s and last September about 70% of the territory's Melanesian population signed a secret petition calling for a free vote on independence. Last November and December, there was a spike in violence near Timika, with five villages being occupied by people claiming to be separatists.
Comments by Indonesian Lieutenant-General (ret.) Kiki Syahnakri which incorrectly attributed responsibility to your correspondent for organising that violence received extensive coverage in the Indonesian media. Syahnakri was previously the senior TNI commander responsible for East Timor during the TNI-controlled militia mayhem that destroyed more than 70% of the country and left over 2000 dead.
Despite a continuing military and paramilitary police "security" presence in Papua, the military continues to believe that the territory remains close to breaking away from Indonesia.
As well as suppressing independence sentiments in Papua, the TNI was involved in legal, "grey" and illegal business activities throughout the territory. The businesses included transportation, construction, logging and mining. The TNI also had a history of providing "protection" to the territory's rich mines, as well as running brothels, gambling and smuggling operations.
An Indonesian military spokesperson said that Henschke's tweets had "hurt the feelings" of soldiers delivering aid, hence her arrest. Such "sensitivities" are an unusually delicate blind for the limiting of media access, in turn limiting reporting about the plight of Melanesian Papuans. (Crikey international affairs commentator)
The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner says his office has been invited by Indonesia's government to visit Papua region, or West Papua.
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein yesterday concluded a three day-visit to Indonesia where he had discussions with President Joko Widodo and top officials, human rights institutions as well as religious leaders.
In a statement sumarising the findings of his visit, Zeid said that in recent years Indonesia had come a long way in a short time, following decades of restricted civil liberties
But the commissioner said gaps remain in the protection of economic and social rights of Indonesians, including in Papua where he said many still struggled with poverty and preventable diseases.
The commissioner said he was concerned about "reports of excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua".
Thanking Jakarta for inviting his office to Papua, he indicated he would send a mission there soon.
While in Indonesia, Zeid told reporters that he was concerned about "reports of excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua".
"I think it's important for us to go and see ourselves what is happening there," he said.
Zeid also noted civil society concerns that, mining and logging by large corporations have been a source of serious human rights violations against farmers, workers and indigenous communities in Papua.
"By and large, these projects are approved and implemented without meaningful consultation with the local communities," he explained.
Overall, while welcoming moves undertaken by President Widodo's administration towards social equity, the commissioner voiced concern about "extremist views playing out in the political arena".
He noted that they were accompanied by rising levels of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence in various parts of the country, including Aceh.
"There are some dark clouds on the horizon but I am encouraged by the positive momentum and hope the common sense and strong tradition of tolerance of the Indonesian people will prevail over populism and political opportunism."
The commissioner urged Indonesia's government to "take steps towards accountability for the gross human rights violations of the past".
Zeid also encouraged Indonesia's parliament to pass two pieces of legislation that recognise and protect the rights of indigenous people and provide essential protection for victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
Following Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein's visit to Indonesia, he headed to Papua New Guinea, before proceeding on to Fiji, for similar official visits.
Aceh, the only region in Indonesia granted special autonomy to enact explicitly sharia-based laws, has been in the news a lot of late due to their persecution of the LGBT community (including the recent vile shaming of a group of transgender women by the police) and other increasingly repressive edicts, such as Aceh Besar Regent Mawardy Ali's demand that Muslim female flight attendants flying into his region wear hijab (headscarves) or face the religious police.
At the same time, Aceh is still trying to attract international tourism through events such as the Aceh International Marathon, which is set to take place on July 29. They had planned on attracting around 4,000 participants to the 42 kilometer race, but, after one week, only about 200 runners have signed up.
Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf acknowledged that the recent controversy over LGBT rights had caused a "little trouble" in terms of attracting marathon participants. He said another issue was confusion over the dress code for runners.
"It's because of misunderstandings about the clothing, it's [taking place in] Sabang, we do not require all female runners to wear hijab or male runners to wear turbans," Irwandi said as quoted by Kompas, noting that Regenet Mawardy's headscarves-for-flight-attendants demand had caused the problem.
Sabang, the northernmost and westernmost city in Indonesia, consists of a city on Weh Island and several smaller islands. As much of its economy is based on tourism, it is somewhat more relaxed towards enforcing Aceh's sharia laws, especially on foreigners. Irwandi said there was no special dress code for marathon participants and that in Sabang you could even see people wearing bikinis. But regardless of what tourists can or can't get away with in Sabang, officials in Aceh must accept that if they are going to continue to push repressive laws and oppression towards minority groups, then they will have to suffer not only sharp criticism from rights activists but also the very real economic effects that will have on their tourism industry as well as international investments in the region. Intolerance is not an attractive look on anybody.
Shannon Power, Aceh the only province in Indonesia to rule with Islamic Sharia Law has furthered its clampdown on the LGBTI community, this time banning trans women from working in hair salons.
Working in hair salons is one of the few sources of income for trans women. In Indonesia, trans women are are also known as waria.
The district of Aceh Bersa, which includes the local capital Banda Aceh, issued the ordered on Friday 9 February. The order stated that any beauty business owned by a waria or employed warias would face a penalty.
'The circular is true, and soon we will meet with all district heads to pull together data on salons in Aceh Besar,' said Aceh Besar chief, Ali Mawardi. 'If we find that [a salon] employs waria, we will pull its permit.'
Mawardi also told Kumparan that his local government prohibited any actions or behaviors that contravened the province's Sharia Law. He included being LGBTI as an illegal activity in Aceh.
His order came a day before a public seminar was held in Aceh to warn people of the looming dangers coming from the LGBTI community.
Aceh Besar was in the news recently after Mawardi ordered all female Muslim flight attendants to wear hijabs when flying into the province.
The conservative Islamic province has been one of the worst perpetrators in Indonesia's increasing persecution of the LGBTI community. Last year it became the first place in Indonesia to cane men for being gay.
The two men aged in their early twenties were charged with homosexuality and sodomy. Their public caning in which they received 82 lashes drew international condemnation.
Trans women have also been the target of authorities in Aceh. In December last year, a group of waria were followed by vigilantes and then detained by police without explanation after attending a birthday party. They were released the following day.
Earlier this year in a incident that may have prompted the waria hair salon ban, 12 trans women were rounded up from five different hairs salons.
They had their hair forcibly shaved and were made to wear men's clothes. Police remanded them in custody to train them into behaving like men again, including shouting until they sounded like men. The women were released a few days later on the condition they lived like men.
Late last week, one of the province's federal politicians, Muslim Ayub, called for the death penalty or life in jail for LGBTI people.
The Muhammadiyah Youth Greater Aceh regional board (PDPM) in cooperation with the Indonesian National Youth Committee (KNPI) held a seminar on the theme "The Dangers of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) in Society" on Saturday February 10 at the Aceh Library Archives auditorium.
PDPM chairperson Teuku Raja Fadhlullah SE said that the LGBT phenomena is creating considerable anxiety in society. The LGBT movement is becoming more open and starting to influence many of the younger generation.
The main aim of the seminar, he said, is to provide the public with an understanding of the dangers of LGBT, that these deviant behaviours are prohibited under Islamic law and that they are a mental illness.
He hopes that parents, students and communities will fight against and rescue those who have carelessly deviated and fallen victim to LGBT.
Organising committee chairperson Jonni Satria meanwhile along with secretary Fakhrizan and seminar resource person and psychologist Dr Nurjannah Al Sharafi discussed the LGBT issue from a psychological perspective. Islamic law expert Dr Ali Abu Bakar took up the issue from the perspective of Islamic law.
The seminar was attended by hundreds of participants from Muhammadiyah autonomous organisations, social and youth organisations, non-government organisations and representatives from the Greater Aceh teachers and inter-campus student organisations (OSIS/OSIM).
Ali Abu Bakar said that LGBT is a deviant behaviour which is absolutely despicable and proscribed under Islamic law. There are many verses in the Quran he said which tell stories about of groups in the past who practiced deviant sexual behaviours and Allah exterminated them with a volcanic eruption and a rain of stones.
Nurjannah Al Sharafi meanwhile explained that LGBT is not a natural condition which emanates from human rights but a mental illness that can be cured. "Those who have become involved in LGBT circles use various means to attract sympathy from various groups", he said.
Nurjannah said there are a number of ways to deal with this deviant behaviour including private guidance for LGBT sufferers through psychotherapy, spiritual therapy (religious), re-programming and behaviour modification (environmental).
According to Nurjannah, a private approach towards sufferers is needed involving the family, community, school and state, which should enact legislation which sides with character building which is in accordance with the norms of society.
"The approach must be holistic and comprehensive in terms of religion, medicine, psychology, the community and other means", he said.
Greater Aceh regent Mawardi Ali has again issued a circular. This time the regional government has banned beauty salons from being run by or employing transgender women (waria).
The ban was issued in Regency Instruction Number 1/2018 on the control and licensing of barbers, salons and beauty parlors that are managed and inhabited by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups in the Greater Aceh regency.
"Yes the circular is true, and shortly we will hold a meeting with all sub-district heads to collect data on salons in the Greater Aceh area", said Mawardi when contacted by phone on Friday February 9.
Speaking to Kumparan (kumparan.com) Mawardi explained that the Greater Aceh regency government has totally banned all behaviors which violate Islamic regulations. One of these is LGBT.
Because of this he will not issue licenses to the owners of salons which are managed by or employ transgender women. "If waria employees are found, we will revoke the salon's business license", said Mawardi.
All regency officials in Greater Aceh, said Mawardi, will be monitoring the activities of beauty salon businesses and the results of this monitoring will be passed on to him.
"From the results of these reports we will then request that the relevant office through public order agency officials and the Islamic religious police close down the said salons if they are found to violate the regulation", he said.
Tim Mann United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein concluded a three-day visit to Indonesia last week with some blunt words about plans to revise the Criminal Code (KUHP), as well as concerns about the country's record in Papua, religious intolerance and past violations of human rights.
This is not the first time that Indonesia has hosted the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights -- Hussein's predecessors, including Navi Pillay, Louise Arbour, Mary Robinson and Jose Ayala-Lasso, have made similar visits. But what do these visits by senior UN officials mean? Do they ever lead to improvements in the implementation of human rights on the ground?
First, it is important to recognise that this was not a formal monitoring visit or assessment. Hussein visited on the invitation of the Indonesian government. The visit was framed as one to assist Indonesia to strengthen the implementation of its rights obligations.
The position of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was only created in late 1993 and it is still largely diplomatic -- its mandate involves engaging in dialogue with UN member states, encouraging them to ratify human rights agreements, and providing technical and financial assistance. It also has a bureaucratic function, strengthening coordination of human rights throughout the UN, and a public voice, speaking out against violations.
The UN human rights system has other mechanisms for assessing member states' compliance with their human rights obligations, such as the Universal Periodic Review process of the UN Human Rights Council, a process to which Indonesia was subjected in May 2017. The UN also has 10 treaty bodies that monitor implementation of the main human rights treaties, such as the Human Rights Committee, which reviews countries' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Commissioner is just one part of a much larger UN human rights bureaucracy.
Hussein won an audience with President Joko Widodo, an invitation that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did not extend to Hussein's predecessor, Navi Pillay, when she visited in 2012. Hussein also met with ministers including Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), victims of rights abuses, civil society representatives and religious leaders.
The fact that Indonesia made time for a raft of senior officials to meet with Hussein is an indication that the government takes its rights obligations seriously -- or at least wants to project the image that it does. Indonesia considers itself one of the last bastions of democratic values in the region -- although many international observers would probably dispute this assessment, following the jailing of former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on dubious blasphemy charges, the caning of two gay men in Aceh, and the recent public humiliation of transgender women in the same province.
Indonesia also invited the UN to conduct a formal visit to Papua, suggesting it is conscious of its poor rights record in the region. (Not detaining foreign journalists over a couple of tweets would go some way to improving its reputation in this area as well).
Indonesia may have been keen to win approval from Hussein, but he spoke firmly and was much more direct in his criticism than Pillay in 2012. His comments on the planned revisions to the KUHP were particularly scathing and are worth repeating in some detail:
"These discussions betray strains of intolerance seemingly alien to Indonesian culture that have made inroads here. The extremist views playing out in the political arena are deeply worrying, accompanied as they are by rising levels of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence in various parts of the country, including Aceh.
"At a time when it is consolidating its democratic gains, we urge Indonesians to move forward -- not backwards -- on human rights and resist attempts to introduce new forms of discrimination in law. Because these proposed amendments will in effect criminalise large sections of the poor and marginalised, they are inherently discriminatory. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Indonesians already face increasing stigma, threats and intimidation. The hateful rhetoric against this community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions.
"If we expect not to be discriminated against on the basis of our religious beliefs, colour, race or gender, if Muslim societies expect others to fight against Islamophobia, we should be prepared to end discrimination at home too. Islamophobia is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs and colour is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or any other status is wrong."
Are these comments likely to have any impact? The significance of this criticism is that it is coming from an independent voice of high moral standing. Hussein's message of the universality of human rights is also critical at a time when legislators drawing up revisions to the KUHP argue that rights should be culturally specific, referring to "Indonesian human rights" or "Pancasila human rights" in a way that evokes memories of Soeharto-era "Asian values".
Unfortunately, the likelihood of Hussein's criticism leading to changes on the ground is slim. Although the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights seeks to advance protection of human rights in member states, it must be acknowledged that its record on this front is poor. After all, even the intervention of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did not save Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran from execution.
Given the number of times UN bodies have criticised Indonesia's Blasphemy Law (Law No. 1/PNPS/1965) without any effect, you do have to question whether Indonesian engagement in the UN rights process (including visits by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights) is anything but window dressing -- particularly when it seems the government has little intention of taking meaningful action to strengthen protection of human rights.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights occupies a difficult position. While he or she must call out violations when they occur, countries are unlikely to respond constructively if they feel they are being judged. Success will involve motivating countries to change their behaviour -- naming and shaming may provoke change, but it could just as easily lead to a country digging in.
Hussein's firm words on the planned revisions were an important reminder that Indonesia may become an international pariah if the most offensive provisions in the revised criminal code are passed. But whether the legislators drawing up the revised criminal code will hear these concerns -- or care about them -- is another matter.
Amanda Hodge The UN Human Rights chief has urged Indonesia not to go "backwards on human rights" by introducing laws banning sex outside marriage and gay sex, and warned of "rising levels of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence" across the country.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said while Indonesia was "one of the most progressive states in the region on human rights", he was deeply concerned by proposed revisions to the country's criminal code that would criminalise large sections of the poor, who did not have marriage certificates, and the marginalised.
"These discussions betray strains of intolerance seemingly alien to Indonesian culture that have made inroads here," Prince Zeid said at the end of a three-day visit to Jakarta, where he met President Joko Widodo, senior ministers and activists.
"LGBTI Indonesians already face increasing stigma, threats and intimidation. The hateful rhetoric against this community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions," he said.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said he had discussed the issue with Mr Joko, who told him Indonesia would stand by its obligations to all its people but also that there was a "mood inside the country regarding LGBTI".
"If we expect not to be discriminated against on the basis of our religious beliefs, colour, race or gender, if Muslim societies expect others to fight against Islamophobia, we should be prepared to end discrimination at home too," Prince Zeid said, adding he did not accept the argument that "this is our culture".
"If it is the culture, it would have been there from the very beginning. If it's being introduced, now it has come from somewhere else," he said.
Representatives from Indonesia's 10 political parties will meet tomorrow to seek consensus on the legal revisions, which are among 800 amendments proposed by a parliamentary committee reviewing the country's 100-year-old criminal code.
If all are agreed, the bill could be sent to the House of Representatives for a vote as early as this month.
The proposed laws are part of a wider wave of hostility towards the LGBTI community that increasingly has been targeted by Indonesian politicians seeking political advantage by appealing to rising conservative Islamic sentiments.
Last week police in Aceh, the only Indonesian province that enforces sharia law, raided transgender beauty salons, cut the hair of 12 transgender women and forced them to act "like men".
Prince Zeid said other areas of concern were the country's "ill-defined blasphemy law" -- used to jail ethnicChinese, Christian former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama -- its drug laws, and human rights violations in West Papua province and against communities displaced by large-scale logging and mining interests.
Jakarta Unknown people have assaulted a homeless man in Bogor over his assumed membership of the long-defunct Indonesian Communists Party (PKI).
A recording of the incident, widely spread on Facebook and WhatsApp since Saturday, attracted the attention of the police. Bogor Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Andi M Dicky clarified that the homeless man was not a member of the PKI.
"After investigating, we found that the victim is homeless and may be suffering from mental illness. We will assess his mental state [Monday]," said Dicky on Sunday, as reported by tribunnews.com.
The video, which was taken in Cileungsi, Bogor, showed the victim at the receiving end of violence.
Six suspects alleged to be linked to the recording have been arrested for questioning. Police do not yet know why the homeless man was accused as being a PKI member. (jlm)
The South Jakarta Police have arrested a shaman who they said sexually abused at least four women after convincing them it was necessary to get rid of the evil spirits surrounding their bodies.
A victim, identified by her initials AZ (25), reported the shaman, identified as Kebayoran Lama resident DAP, to the police on Jan. 28, opening up an investigation and leading to his arrest on Monday.
"The perpetrator always told his victims women aged 20-30 that there are spirits surrounding their bodies that are blocking their auras," said Bismo Teguh Prakoso, head of the Crime Investigation Unit at the South Jakarta Police, as quoted by Warta Kota yesterday.
In AZ's case, the police said she consulted DAP for spiritual healing in November. DAP convinced AZ that in order to get rid of a genderuwo (a monstrous, hairy ape-like spirit creature) that has been hanging around her and blocking her aura, he had to carry out several rituals, including, at first, touching her private parts.
During a consultation in December, DAP told AZ that the genderuwo had been expelled, but that there was still a djinn (a supernatural creature from Islamic mythology) resembling an old lady that was blocking her aura.
"The perpetrator said that the djinn in the victim's body must mate with the djinn in the perpetrator's body through (the victim and the perpetrator) getting physically intimate," said South Jakarta Police Chief Mardiaz Kusin.
On Jan. 21, DAP asked AZ to come for one last session in order to get rid of the spirit of the old lady for good through lovemaking. It's not clear what made AZ finally realize DAP was a fraud, but she reported him to the police a week later.
After interrogating DAP, the police believe that the shaman has carried out the same scam on at least three other young women. DAP has been charged with rape and could be jailed for up to 12 years.
Shamans are still prevalent in Indonesia, even in urban areas. In September last year, police in Depok arrested a shaman who claimed that she could cure sexual impotence and recover the virginity of her victims.
Jakarta The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) has apologized for posting on its official website an article saying the rising number of sexual abuse cases in the country was the result of a secular political system embraced by Indonesia.
The article, "Maraknya kekerasan seksual adalah buah penerapan sistem sekular" (Rampant sexual abuse cases result of implementation of secular system), was written by Ummu Athaya, a housewife in Bandung, and was initially published on the website www.suara-islam.com.
"We convey our deepest apology to the public for the trouble caused by the article," KPAI chairman Susanto said in a statement on Sunday.
He said the news article was neither the view of the KPAI commissioner nor that of the institution. "The article was written by Ummu Athaya [in] Bandung and had not yet been reviewed by the commissioners," he added.
The government-sanctioned commission, he said, worked according to the mandate given to it under the 2014 law on child protection, which stipulates that the efforts to protect children should be in line with the state ideology of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.
The author of the article, which has been retracted by the KPAI, argued that many social problems occurred because Muslims separated Islam from their lives.
Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population long associated with moderate Islam, though some analysts say Islamic conservatism is gaining ground in the country due to the rise of a Muslim middle class empowered by social media.
Government officials and most scholars have never considered Indonesia to be a secular or a religious state, highlighting the fact that the country bears some features of both political ideologies. (ahw)
Audrey Dermawan, George Town Civil society group, Tenaganita, has expressed outrage over yet another death of a domestic worker.
"Why are we letting this happen again and again? The rules and regulations within the Employment Act for domestic workers seem not to be protect domestic workers. What we need is a separate legislation for them," Tenaganita director Glorene Das said.
Indonesian maid, Adelina, 21, from Medan, died yesterday, following suspected repeated abuse by her employers.
According to Glorene, as long as they are defined as domestic servants and maids in the Employment Act, it creates the mindset and mentality of a master-servant relationship. She added that one death of a girl, a domestic worker, was one too many.
"We seriously need to address the root cause of why employers feel it is perfectly normal to abuse a domestic worker. There needs to be effective policies and legislation to protect maids like Adelina from abusive employers," she stressed.
It was reported that Adelina was rescued by police on Saturday following suspected repeated abuse by her employers. She died at 4.45pm yesterday while being treated at the Bukit Mertajam Hospital.
When found at her employer's home at Taman Kota Permai, Bukit Mertajam, she had severe injuries on her head and face, and infected wounds on her hands and legs.
Her plight came to light after a police report was lodged by an aide to the Bukit Mertajam member of parliament.
Padang (Antara) Press Council chairman Yosep Adi Prasetyo claimed that Indonesia holds world's highest number of mass media with 47,000 mass media including print, radio, television and online media.
"From such figure, it breaks down into 2,000 print media, 674 radios, 523 television programs and the rest are online media," he said in Padang on Friday, Feb. 9.
Nevertheless, a lot of media are not qualified to be considered as mass media and they remain in operation as they are supported by regional budget (APBD).
Furthermore, not all the reporters are competent as they lack knowledge of journalism and they do not take part in journalism training. He specified that there are around 14,000 registered, competent journalists.
Yosep reminded that the freedom of press is not taken advantage to produce hoaxes. What is needed is, he went on, improving journalists' skills and mass media verification. Press Council is committed to gradually implement the two measures.
Yosep also reminded mass media to maintain objectivity and neutrality in the event of political year. He considered 2018 General Election and 2019 Presidential Election as a test to assess neutrality of mass media.
Krithika Varagur, Jakarta Hundreds of activists protested outside Indonesia's House of Representatives building on Monday against proposed revisions to the nation's criminal code, which could outlaw gay and extramarital sex.
The so-called Civil Society Alliance to Reject the Draft Criminal Code activists included feminists, LGBTQ people, sex workers, indigenous people, labor union members, and more.
Speaking at the protest, queer activist Lini Zurlia said it was the first in a series of protests against the revisions; the next one is planned for Wednesday. "We're calling on fellow Indonesians to join the next protest," Zurlia said.
Although the most sensational part of the revisions has been the criminalization of various forms of sex (grouped together under the Islamic concept of zina, or unlawful sexual intercourse), the sweeping nature of the proposals also affect less-obvious groups. It is possible that distributing means of, or even information on, contraception will become illegal for "unlicensed" individuals, which includes most nonprofits.
"Zina laws already criminalize sex workers. If we can't distribute things like condoms, it could create major public health issues." said Wawan of OPSI, a national sex workers' alliance.
Indigenous people could also be affected because they frequently engage in adat, or customary law marriages that are not recognized by the state. Many of them could be considered criminals under the new code for technically having "extramarital" sex. Several members of Indonesia's Alliance of Indigenous People of the Archipelago, or AMAN, attended the protest.
The most severe anti-LGBT language appears to have been expunged from the latest draft of the code, which explicitly criminalizes only same-sex relations with minors under 18. But there remained a sense that it's not over until it's over.
"It's plain to see that the revised criminal code purely stemmed out of political interest, as is the case with Indonesia's current sociopolitical going-ons," said Fajar Zakhri, a 26-year-old gay man who attended the protest today.
"Therefore, I felt the importance of being present in assisting the fight and making sure that, once and for all, justice for everyone is served. In a young democracy such as Indonesia, this is an incessant fight that will not quit until the obsolete generations are no longer hogging the Indonesian life."
"I think this is a slippery slope," said Amar, an activist with the Indonesian Drug Users Network (PKNI). "It's simply not humanist. It doesn't affect our agenda directly, but I think actions like this will happen more often if we don't take a stand now."
There were about 200 protesters outside Parliament, an impressive showing across sectors, especially since it was planned with just a few days notice. But it was notably smaller than recent civic actions by Islamists in Jakarta, who have attracted thousands of protesters in the past year for causes ranging from arraigning the previous governor for a blasphemy charge to "resisting the revival of the Indonesian Communist Party."
Activists originally expected the revisions to be announced Wednesday, Valentine's Day. But the decision has seemingly been postponed until March, according to several women who helped organize a Change.org petition to protest the revisions.
Every major political party has backed some form of the criminalizations under review, which is regarded as a coup for political Islam in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.
Ichsan Soelistio, a legislator from Indonesia's ruling PDIP told the Washington Post this week that while his party rejects "full criminalization," they have still agreed to allow prosecuting gay and extramarital sex "but only if one of the sexual partners or their family members report the crime to police."
Last week, the chairman of the team leading the revision process said that the moral policing aspect of the revisions had been mitigated, because whereas any third party could once report zina, it had been changed to immediate relatives husbands, wives, parents, and children.
Meanwhile, "contempt of the president" is still on track to be an imprisonable offense.
Jakarta (BM) Protesters calling themselves the Civil Society Alliance Against the Draft Criminal Code (RUU KUHP) held a rally on Monday February 12 in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) rejecting the draft law which they say is anti-democratic.
During the rally on Jl. Gatot Subroto in South Jakarta, which began at around 3pm, the demonstrators took turns at giving speeches and brought various banners to the action.
Security at the DPR building meanwhile was not very tight although razor wire had been erected and a Barracuda armoured vehicle was on standby at the front gate. Although the protest did not spill onto Jl. Gatot Subroto there was still traffic congestion in front of the DPR.
The demonstrators were protesting several articles in the RUU KUHP such as those on insulting the president which they said was the same thing as silencing anti-government critics.
"For example it undermines democracy, defamation against the president will be restored [as a crime]. And insulting the authority of the state. These are VIP articles, just saying something, not to insult but to criticise, and you get jailed", the group's public relations officer Riska Carolina told journalists.
In addition to this, one the issues the protesters object to is the articles on adultery which according to the group could result in many people being abruptly jailed.
"If [existing laws] are augmented with the enactment of this law, then criminalisation will increase, jails will be filled with jails", said Riska.
The group has three demands that they want the DPR to listen to in deliberating the RKUHP. First that they reject the current draft revisions to the criminal code.
Second, the protesters are calling on the DPR to re-discuss the RKUHP with a decolonialisation approach based on the constitutional rights of citizens and the involvement of other parties.
Third, the RKUHP must side with and protect the ordinary people and not become a political commodity for employers.
A number of transgender women (waria) also took part in the rally saying that they feel that they will be criminalised if the RKUHP is ratified. This demand was articulated by a speaker on the command vehicle.
"How can the gender rights of our waria friends be protected. They have [the right] to make [life] choices", said one women in a speech.
The DPR has approved an extension to the working mandate of the RUU KUHP special committee (pansus).
"Level 2 deliberations on Law Number 17/2014 on the MD3 [Legislative Institutions Law] along with the RUU Tipikor [anti-corruption law], the RUU KUHP, the RUU on justices' appointments, the RUU MK [Constitutional Court]", said DPR Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon when reading out the plenary committee's agenda at the DPR building in Senayan, South Jakarta, on Monday.
There were no objections to the extension of the RUU KUHP special committee's working mandate from those present. When asked if they agreed, all of the members present declared their agreement. "The extension to the pansus' working mandate is agreed", declared Zon.
DPR Speaker Bambang Soesatyo (Bamsoet) meanwhile said that they must be realistic about the working mandate of the special committee saying that the committee still needs more time to finalise the deliberations.
"We must be realistic because there are several articles that are still being discussed and debated so we decided earlier that the consultative body will continue [the deliberations] in the next session", he said. (det/tit)
Muhammad Genantan Saputra Protesters calling themselves the Civil Society Alliance Against the Draft Criminal Code held a rally at the front gate of the House of Representatives (DPR) building on Jl. Gatot Subroto in Central Jakarta on Monday February 12 saying that the RKUHP will trample on democratic principles.
In speeches, the protesters said they opposed the enactment of the draft of the revised the Criminal Code (RKUHP) because it fails to side with marginal groups, in particular women, children, people living with HIV/AIDS (ODHA) and minority groups such as those that adhere to a different religion, belief or gender identity.
"The draft KUHP will kill democracy and trample on freedom of expression and opinion", said Nining, a representative from the Indonesian Trade Union Alliance Congress (KASBI) which is part of the alliance.
According to Nining, the RKUHP threatens the government's program to bring prosperity to the people, particularly in terms of social issues, education and welfare. "Reject the enactment of the draft KUHP now", shouted the protesters.
A number of transgender women (waria) also joined the rally loudly shouting that they reject the RKUHP because they feel discriminated against and it fails to side with the ordinary people.
One of the sections of the RUU KUHP which deals with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) is currently being deliberated by the DPR. The RUU KUHP working committee (panja) is currently discussing broadening the criminal provisions on adultery and rape.
"Those who have come here obviously do not agree [with the draft], moreover what they want to enact, we will be very venerable to (discrimination) the broadening [the criminalisation of] adultery, because many of our friends are sex workers. What's important is that we reject it", said a representative of the waria who declined to give their name.
The action began at around 3pm. There was no police presence or special security evident as the protesters were giving speeches. The demonstrators disbanded in an orderly manner just before maghrib (evening prayers). [rzk]
Jakarta The Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS TK) reports that 6.4 million workers, out of 7.5 million, have yet to be protected by the insurance program.
"Only 1.1 million active workers, based on Jakarta identity card numbers, have been registered, of whom 900,000 are workers in the formal sector while the rest are in the informal sector. Hence, we will keep disseminating information and educate [the workers] to be aware of the importance of the insurance," said BPJS TK service director M. Krishan Syarif on Monday, as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com.
Collaborating with the Jakarta Manpower Agency and the city-owned market operator PD Pasar Jaya, the BPJS TK is encouraging both non-wage earning and wage-earning workers to register themselves.
"We encourage workers in traditional markets to join because they also have risks in their jobs. The premium is only Rp 16,800 [US$1.20] per month, far cheaper than buying cigarettes," Krishna said.
The BPJS TK has disseminated the information in five markets in North Jakarta and aims to net 6,000 new registrants. (wnd)
Kanupriya Kapoor, Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Jakarta Zulfikar Fahd, an openly gay man, says he flew from Indonesia to Canada late last month and claimed asylum on grounds that he faced discrimination and persecution in his home country, which is poised to criminalise same-sex relations and consensual sex outside marriage.
Fahd, 30, who had worked in public relations, said he had already given up hope that the police would provide him protection against Islamic fundamentalists who have fomented hostility towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in this Muslim-majority country, which is also the world's third-largest democracy.
Police have stood by while vigilantes have stormed "gay sex parties", and have themselves broken up gatherings at spas and hostels, charging some with violating strict pornography laws, and prompting many others to go underground. The authorities have also been clamping down online, blocking many LGBT sites or getting LGBT apps removed by host companies, including dating apps.
Until now, homosexuality has not been regulated by law in Indonesia, except in the ultra-conservative Aceh province where Islamic law bans same-sex relations.
But as lawmakers look to shore up conservative votes ahead of elections, parliament appears on the verge of revising the national criminal code to impose restrictions on same-sex relations and consensual sex between men and women outside marriage.
Various drafts of the criminal code have appeared. The latest, though not necessarily the final one, seeks the prosecution of same-sex relations if an act is carried out in public, if there is evidence of abuse, or if a minor is involved.
Unmarried co-habiting couples or those engaging in extramarital sex could be prosecuted only if there is a complaint from a close relative. Adultery is already a crime in Indonesia.
Rights activists say the proposed rules could breach basic rights like privacy and could be subject to interpretation by vigilantes, the police and courts so that a party in someone's home could be deemed a public event.
"The police are not doing anything to protect us. In fact, they stand by and let things happen, almost as if they have a deal with the conservatives and vigilantes," Fahd told Reuters by phone from Ottawa. "If they enact this new law, this kind of vigilantism will be out of control."
Fahd says he has been granted temporary residency in Canada and has a final immigration hearing in May.
Cases before Canada's Refugee Protection Division, where all refugee claims in the country are initially adjudicated, are private, said Immigration and Refugee Board spokeswoman Anna Pape.
Concord Consulting, a Jakarta-based risk consultancy, said in a recent report that Indonesia has much to lose from allowing homophobic attitudes to take hold of society, including potentially foreign investment, donor assistance, and vital tourism earnings.
Travel websites aimed at LGBT holidaymakers indicate the gay scene remains vibrant on the resort island of Bali, the cornerstone of Indonesia's tourism industry. But some in the industry fear the new rules could deter gay travellers.
"It will probably force them to go to places like Thailand instead of coming to Bali," said the owner of a Bali guesthouse that caters to LGBT tourists. The foreign owner, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, said he would try to relocate his business to Thailand.
Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist country, is home to a liberal LGBT scene and has launched marketing campaigns aimed at attracting gay tourists. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has a gothaibefree.com website aimed at LGBT travellers. It says the Thai people are tolerant and respectful of the LGBT community and also offers discounts for hotels and spas.
In Indonesia that is far from the approach. A parliamentary commission drawing up changes to the Dutch colonial-era criminal code has been consulting with the public and taking the opinions of religious scholars, legal experts, and rights groups.
Its deliberations come against a backdrop of rising anti-LGBT rhetoric, including from senior officials, and a string of vigilante and police raids on places where gay people have gathered.
A recent survey found that nearly 90 percent of Indonesians who understand the term 'LGBT' feel threatened by the community, while the Indonesian Psychiatric Association and the Health Ministry state in internal documents seen by Reuters that being LGBT is a mental illness.
Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has branded homosexuality a national security threat on the basis that it "is a kind of modern warfare that undermines the country's sovereignty".
Last month, 12 transgender women in Aceh were detained by police and forced to cut their hair and dress in 'masculine' clothes, sparking outrage from rights groups.
Most political parties support the changes being proposed, particularly those that outlaw gay sex.
"If someone dares to disagree, does that person want to risk not being elected again?" said Arsul Sani, a lawmaker from the United Development Party, an Islamic party, who has been involved in drafting revisions to the law.
Most Indonesians adhere to a moderate form of Islam under an officially secular system, but there has been a rise of hardline, politicized Islam in recent years, and it has moved from the fringe to the centre of politics.
Islamist groups led mass rallies last year to unseat the then governor of Jakarta, a Christian. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama had said political rivals were deceiving people by using a verse in the Koran to say Muslims should not be led by a non-Muslim. He apologised for the comments, but was later jailed for two years for blasphemy.
Critics say the creeping Islamisation of politics is fostering moral conservatism as Indonesia heads into crucial provincial polls in June and a presidential election in 2019.
"The hateful rhetoric against (the LGBT) community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions," U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said when visiting Indonesia this week. He said he raised the issue with President Joko Widodo.
There are some dissenting voices as the legislative revisions are nudged forward, among them parliament deputy speaker Fahri Hamzah, who has been lobbying lawmakers and the government to apply the brakes.
"I'm warning them on the dangers of criminalisation of our privacy too much. It endangers our future, our freedom and also our economy," he told Reuters. "You don't regulate the bedroom of the people."
He accused Widodo of being "weak on the issue" and, instead of speaking up, relying on the lobbying of liberal media and non-governmental organisations.
Top officials, including the president, have said that while LGBT people should not face discrimination, Indonesia's cultural and religious norms do not accept the LGBT movement.
A presidential spokesman declined to comment, but a government representative involved in the deliberations said efforts were underway to protect privacy.
"The state cannot enter the private realm. It can only get involved if what people do disturbs public order," said Enny Nurbaningsih of the law and human rights ministry.
Fahd, who is originally from East Java, says he has lost faith in the protection promised to the nation's people in the Indonesian constitution.
"I want the Indonesian government to see that we have our voice. It's like I'm saying to them, 'I don't need you: there are other countries that accept me for who I am.'"
Meka Beresford An Indonesian MP has said that he believes LGBTQ+ people should be sentenced to death or a life in prison for their acts.
Muslim Ayub made the comments as the Indonesian House of Representatives debated on amendments to the criminal code which would criminalise gay and pre-marital sex. ?
Representing his party, the Islamist National Mandate Party (PAN), Ayub said that the proposed law should punish same-sex relations with capital punishment. He added that he wanted those who "promote LGBTQ behaviour" to also face criminal penalties.
Speaking to Jurnalia Indonesia, Ayub said that he and his party would not stop at criminalising gay sex as they feel the whole LGBTQ+ community should face persecution.
"We were not satisfied. We want a death sentence or a lifetime jail sentence to have a deterrent effect on the LGBT (community)," he said.
Ayub is the representative of the Aceh province in Indonesia. It is the only province which follows Sharia law making it the only place currently in Indonesia where it is illegal to be gay.
Political figureheads projected that the proposed legislation which would criminalise gay sex would be in place by February 14. However, it is now facing a delay as MPs fight for amendments to be made.
The UN human rights commissioner warned the country that it must stop its crackdown on the LGBTQ community and protect the minority from rising intolerance in the country earlier this week.
Speaking in Jakarta, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that Indonesia had a progressive track record when it came to human rights, but that it's failures to the LGBTQ community could be damaging.
He said: "The hateful rhetoric against this community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions.
"Indonesia has since 1998 managed to transition to democracy and couple it with strong economic growth. At a time when it is consolidating its democratic gains, we urge Indonesians to move forward not backwards on human rights.
"There are some dark clouds on the horizon but... I hope the common sense and strong tradition of tolerance of the Indonesian people will prevail over populism and political opportunism," he added.
Al Hussein's comments after the government carried out a number of raids and arrests on LGBTQ people.
The Indonesian Supreme Court narrowly blocked a similar measure from passing last month, but it seems that was only a temporary reprieve.
Indonesian authorities faced global criticism last month after they arrested 12 transgender women in Aceh and shaved their heads in an effort "to turn them into men". Authorities also dressed the trans women in stereotypically male clothing, in the raid which was called "operasi penyakit masyarakat," which translates as "community sickness operation".
North Aceh Regency Police Chief Ahmad Untung Surianata said the 12 trans detainees were part of a "social disease" and had been taken to police headquarters, where they would be coached "until they really become men."
Untung said that "the officers also nurtured them by way of having them run for some time and telling them to chant loudly until their male voices came out."
The police chief added that the operation was carried out to stop an increase in LGBT people in Aceh, which he said would be dangerous for the next generation of Indonesians.
"There were mothers who came crying to me, worried about their children," he told Indonesian publication Kompas. "This is not right, and we hope this social disease can be resolved."
Konradus Epa Indonesia has persuaded Google to pull 73 applications and shut down 169 websites related to the country's LBGT community.
The crackdown comes on the heels of proposals in parliament in January to outlaw gay and premarital sex. It also follows a year in which more than 300 men were arrested in raids on gay venues across the country.
The apps removed from Google's Play Store included the gay dating app Blued, which boasts 27 million users worldwide.
"We blocked the sites and applications because the contents disturb our society, and people have complained about them," communications ministry spokesman, Noor Iza, told ucanews.com.
He said that the ministry was also working with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms in Indonesia to crack down on negative content, including LBGT-related items.
Mami Yuli, a Catholic transgender woman, likened the crackdown to an all out war against the LGBT community.
"The government should not arbitrarily block sites because we have the law. If the LGBT people violate the law they should be sanctioned according to the law," she told ucanews.com.
Hartoyo, chairman of Suara Kita (Our Voice), an LGBT advocacy group, said shutting down the applications shows that the government does not know how to educate its citizens any more.
"It shows more about panic on the side of the government, particularly the Ministry of Communication and Information," said Hartoyo who like many Indonesian uses only one name.
"Blocking sites is ineffective. It's just like when the government blocked porn sites. It was unsuccessful," he said. He suggested the government focus more on sex education, just like many developed countries, to prevent sexual violence.
Azas Tigor Nainggolan, coordinator of the human rights desk of the Indonesian bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People, said the crackdown was the result of the government refusing to recognize an LGBT community exists.
He said the moral "goal of the government was good but it should not violate the privacy and rights of people or discriminate against them."
The moves against Indonesia's LGBT community, including the proposals to outlaw gay and premarital sex, have drawn swift rebuke from rights groups, including ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).
In a Feb. 7 statement, APHR board member Teddy Baguilat from the Philippines, said the draft amendments, if approved, severely violate the rights to privacy.
"It is extremely worrying that private affairs between two consenting, law-abiding adults could very soon be opened to government interference and scrutiny," Baquilat said.
"If passed, these changes to the criminal code will reinforce existing prejudices and discrimination faced by an already vulnerable community in Indonesia, and legitimize ongoing bullying, homophobic violence, and police abuse," Baguilat said.
Kyle Knight United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein is urging Indonesia's government to scrap clauses in a new draft criminal code that would discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. "[If] Muslim societies expect others to fight against Islamophobia, we should be prepared to end discrimination at home too," he said at the conclusion of a three-day visit to the world's largest Muslim country. "Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or any other status is wrong."
Since 2016, Indonesia's sexual and gender minorities have been under siege, including hateful rhetoric from government officials, attacks on LGBT human rights defenders, raids on lesbian-owned houses and private gay clubs, and arrests under a vague and discriminatory anti-pornography law. In 2017, police and public order officials arbitrarily arrested more than 300 LGBT people in raids. Zeid observed that the anti-LGBT moral panic was, "being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes."
In December 2016, Indonesia's Constitutional Court dismissed a petition seeking to criminalize all consensual sex outside of marriage, as well as adult consensual same-sex conduct something the country has never done, except in Aceh province where Sharia (Islamic law) applies. In May, two men were publicly flogged in Aceh after neighbors caught them naked together.
The court's decision protected the basic privacy rights of all Indonesians, not only LGBT people. With some estimates that as many as half of Indonesian couples do not get legally married because of difficulties registering, criminalizing their sex lives could embolden vigilantes and overwhelm police and prison systems. After the court's ruling, the petitioners pledged to redouble efforts to amend the Criminal Code in parliament, where it is currently under debate.
Zeid urged Indonesia to, "resist attempts to introduce new forms of discrimination in law." And in its December ruling, the Constitutional Court issued a similar warning: "If one builds an argument that to maintain societal order is to force members of the society who acts in a manner considered deviant to change their behaviors through threats of criminal punishment, he or she basically believes that societal order can be created under repressive measures only."
Fana Suparman and Telly Nathalia, Jakarta Indonesia's antigraft agency, the Corruption Eradication Commission or KPK, charged Marianus Sae, the district head of Ngada in East Nusa Tenggara, with bribery on Monday (12/02).
But on the very same day, the province's regional elections commission went ahead announcing Marinus as a governor nominee in June's local election.
Marianus was arrested by KPK investigators on Sunday in Surabaya, East Java, and was quickly transported to the commission's headquarters in Jakarta to be interrogated.
He is now being detained at Jakarta's Cipinang prison, KPK spokeswoman Yuyuk Andriati said as reported by Suara Pembaruan.
Yuyuk said Marianus received around Rp 4.1 billion ($300,000) in bribes in cash or bank transfers from 2017 until early this year.
He was given a debit card by a businessman called Wilhelmus Iwan Ulumbu, who was also arrested in Bajawa, East Nusa Tenggara, on Sunday.
Marianus, who was made a district head in 2015, refused to answer reporters' questions when he walked out of KPK headquarters on Monday.
Wilhelmus is the director of Sinar 99 Permai, a contractor hired to manage seven infrastructure projects worth Rp 54 billion in Ngada this year, the KPK said. Marianus faces up to 20 years in jail and fines of up to Rp 1 billion if convicted.
The East Nusa Tenggara elections commission announced Marianus as one of the province's governor nominees with Emiliana Nomleni as his running mate for the June election on Monday, BeritaSatu TV reported.
According to Indonesia's election regulations, political parties cannot withdraw their nominations once they have been announced but they can be canceled if a court finds the nominees guilty of a crime.
Marianus' governor nomination is backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the National Awakening Party (PKB)
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta The Constitutional Court rejected on Thursday a petition to invalidate the House of Representatives' right to launch an inquiry into the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), saying that the inquiry is constitutional by law.
"The court rejects the petition," Chief Justice Arief Hidayat said while reading out the ruling.
The bench argued in its ruling that although the KPK was an independent body as referred to by the 2002 KPK law, it shared similar tasks with the National Police and the Attorney General's Office, which are part of the executive body, in eradicating corruption as mandated by the law.
The justices also ruled that the House, as the representatives of the public, had the right to probe the KPK's performance, except in the scope of law enforcement. However, they asserted that the KPK should not perform its tasks under pressure from the House.
"The paradigm of checks and balances in the governance system should not let any authority escape supervision. Therefore, there are no issues with the constitutionality on the norms [regarding inquiry rights]," justice Manahan Sitompul said.
The decision was handed down by a 5-to-4 majority. The four justices who offered a dissenting opinion in the case were Saldi Isra, Maria Farida Indrawati, I Gede Palguna and Suhartoyo.
The judicial review request was filed last year by three groups of petitioners, including law students and professors grouped in the Forum of Legal and Constitution and KPK employees.
They argued that the inquiry, which was launched amid the antigraft body's investigation into the high profile electronic e-ID graft case implicating dozens of politicians, aimed at undermining the KPK's task in eradicating corruption. (ahw)
Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors have indicted Fredrich Yunadi, a former attorney of graft defendant Setya Novanto, for obstructing the antigraft body's investigation against his former client in a graft case related to the e-ID card procurement project.
"[The defendant] has been accused of manipulation to enable Setya Novanto to be admitted to Medika Permata Hijau Hospital in order to evade KPK questioning," prosecutor Fitroh Rohcahyanto read out the indictment.
On Nov. 16, the defendant allegedly asked for help from his acquaintance Bimanesh Sutarjo, a doctor working in the hospital, to have Setya admitted to the hospital for hypertension. Fredrich presented a picture of Setya's medical record from Premier Jatinegara Hospital, where Setya had previously been treated.
"However, there was no reference letter from Premier Jatinegara Hospital to any other hospital," Fitroh went on to say.
Later that day, Fredrich reportedly asked doctors to change the diagnosis to road accident, although such an accident had yet to occur. The lawyer also managed to reserve all VIP rooms at the hospital under Setya's name.
KPK investigators raided Setya's house on Nov. 15 to arrest him after he had failed to respond to the agency's summonses. However, Setya was absent, as he had reportedly gone to Bogor, West Java, with his adjutant Reza Pahlevi and Golkar politician Aziz Samual.
A day later, he was involved in an accident, when the car he was in hit an electricity pole. He was admitted to Medika Permata Hijau Hospital before eventually being detained by the KPK on Nov. 19.
The antigraft body has also named Bimanesh a suspect in the case. (ahw)
Jakarta Indonesia's overcrowded prisons are ill-equipped to deal with militant inmates, hampering efforts to prevent the spread of violent radicalism in institutions that have become known as extremist breeding grounds, a study has found.
The study by University of Indonesia psychologists, which adds to years of warnings by experts, found that prison staff lacked the ability to identify "high-risk" prisoners who could recruit other inmates as they were given limited information and specialist training.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, has arrested and imprisoned hundreds of militants in a crackdown that followed a terror attack on the island of Bali in 2002.
But many remained committed to violent extremism, both during and after their incarceration, and used their time in prison to radicalise others.
The eight-month study at the four largest Indonesian prisons found that prison staff who had close contact with inmates did not know how to limit the influence of hardline ideologues or identify the less ideologically committed who could be disentangled with simple interventions, said Faisal Magrie, coordinator of the research released on Thursday.
"The problems in the prison system are often defeating efforts to turn convicted militants away from radicalism," he said.
The challenges are exacerbated by poor coordination among government agencies and non-governmental organisations, which leads to duplicated efforts and unclear deradicalisation programmes, Magrie said.
Irfan Idris, director of deradicalisation at the National Counter-Terrorism Agency, said at least 18 former prisoners were involved in extremist cases in Indonesia since 2010 and most were radicalised in prison.
Overpopulated prisons are the main reason deradicalisation efforts struggle, said Bahrul Wijaksana of Search for Common Ground, a US-based NGO that works with Indonesia's directorate-general of corrections.
He said the 477 prisons in Indonesia, which were built to accommodate 115,000 inmates, hold 254,000 prisoners. In big cities, prisons are four to five times overcapacity. AP
Agnes Anya, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has stressed the importance of upholding religious freedom as guaranteed under the Constitution, saying that the government would not allow for acts of intolerance.
"Our Constitution guarantees religious freedom. Therefore, we will not give even the slightest amount of room to those who promote and spread intolerance in our country. Especially those who act with violence," he said at the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta on Monday.
The President's statement came as a response to an incident at St. Lidwina, a Catholic church in Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, in which a man reportedly attacked churchgoers with a sword during a Mass on Sunday morning, injuring a Catholic priest and several others.
Jokowi said that as a country with a wide range of cultures and religions, Indonesians had coexisted peacefully for many years. Still, he added, such incidents might take place, especially at a time in which the flow of information allows for the spread of intolerance.
He said he had instructed the authorities to investigate the case thoroughly. "I have ordered the authorities to take firm actions. The state will consequently uphold the Constitution," he added. (rin)
Yogyakarta An unidentified man has reportedly attacked churchgoers using a one-meter sword at St. Lidwina church in Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, on Sunday at around 7:30 a.m., injuring four people.
A video from tribunnews.com shows the young man, who is believed to be a university student, attack churchgoers in front of the west door before entering the church.
The man allegedly ran toward the choir and attacked pastor Karl Edmund Prier, who was leading the choir. He then slashed the statues of Jesus and Mary near the altar.
Pastor Prier reportedly suffered injuries to the back of his head, while two other churchgoers, Budijono and Martinus Parmadi Subiantara, and a police officer identified as First Insp. Adj. Munir, were also wounded.
Munir is said to have tried to negotiate with the young man and asked him to surrender, but instead Munir was attacked. The police then reportedly fired a warning shot, which was ignored, before shooting the assailant in the stomach.
The perpetrator was rushed to Gadjah Mada University Hospital before being transferred to Bhayangkara Police Hospital.
"We rushed him to Bhayangkara Hospital for safety reasons," said Sr. Comr. Iman Prijantoro, Yogyakarta Police operational bureau head, as quoted by tribunnews.com. "He was shot by our officers."
St. Lidwina parish chairman, Sukatno, said churchgoers have calmed down and were not provoked by the incident. "They are not affected. They know that the man only wanted to disrupt the peace," he said.
Sukatno said the church has invited the Sleman Police chief to speak to the people on the situation. He added that the church would be used for mass next weekend.
MAARIF Institute supervisory board member, Fajar Riza Ul Haq, called on the public to unite and not be provoked by any attempts to disrupt the peace.
"New cases of intolerance and religious violence should unite the people. We must be aware that there may be other reasons [for the violence]. Don't let the people become the victims of political interests by using religious violence," he said, as quoted by Kompas.com. (yan)
Jakarta Valentine's Day has no value and therefore celebrating it should be forbidden, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has said.
"We should prohibit Valentine's Day because it is worth nothing. It will only cause a fuss and destroy norms and morality," MUI chairman Ma'ruf Amin said as quoted by tribunnews.com on Tuesday.
He encouraged every governor and mayor to examine the positive and negative impacts of Valentine's Day celebrations.
"Every ban has its own cause, and each region has a different level of vulnerability. Hence, not every region must ban Valentine's Day celebrations," Ma'ruf said.
Aceh is one of the provinces that has banned Valentine's Day celebrations. Aceh Besar Regent Mawardi Ali has issued a circular banning all Valentine's Day festivities.
"We have informed heads of districts, villages, schools and public institutions to help spread awareness on the importance of banning Valentine's Day celebrations in Aceh Besar. We must respect the people of Aceh and Aceh Besar, who abide by sharia," Mawardi said. (sha/ebf)
Valentine's Day was banned in some Indonesian cities Wednesday as police rounded up amorous couples, giving the official kiss-off to a tradition which critics say doesn't deserve any love in the Muslim-majority nation.
On Wednesday authorities in the country's second-biggest city Surabaya briefly detained about two dozen couples during a raid to sniff out any sign of Valentine's Day celebrations. They were expected to be released with a reprimand.
Mataram city on the tourist island of Lombok issued its own Valentine's Day ban and ordered police to raid schools in the hunt for passionate students unable to keep their hands off each other. Romantic parties at hotels and cafes were left alone, according to authorities.
Syamsu Rizal, the deputy mayor of Makassar on the island of Sulawesi, said his city prohibited Valentine's celebrations, while Depok on the outskirts of Jakarta followed suit. "It has never been declared by the government to be a celebration in the country" and the ban would prevent hanky-panky among students, Rizal said.
Makassar has imposed bans on Valentine's Day for the past several years. In 2017 city authorities raided convenience stores to seize condoms in a bid to stop teenagers from having sex on February 14. At least 10 cities across the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation issued full or partial bans on Valentine's Day celebrations.
Aceh province, the only place in Indonesia that imposes Islamic law, issued a fresh Valentine's prohibition Wednesday, citing religious norms. It has ordered bans in previous years.
"Valentine's Day reflects a culture which is not in line with Aceh's and Islamic law," provincial governor Irwandi Yusuf said in a statement. Islamic clerics and some pious Muslims use the occasion to criticise
Mataram (Antara) The Mayor of Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara Barat, has banned the celebration of Valentine's Day in the city. He said that it is not an Indonesian culture that needs to be preserved.
"Valentine's celebration is not our culture,. That's why we strictly forbid its celebration especially among students and in school environments," Mataram Mayor Ahyar Abduh said on Monday, Feb. 12.
"The city government will issue a circular like in previous years to be distributed to all parts of the society," the mayor added. The Mayor had even asked the Education Board to urge students to focus more on school studies.
Mataram's Education Board's chief Sudenom said the ban has been disseminated since the start of February not just to students but also to parents.
Students who "violate" the ban, he said will be given sanctions. He didn't elaborate on what they are, but said that can take the form of social punishments by announcing the names of the violators during schools' morning assembly.
As for students who celebrate Valentine's Day outside of school hours, he said that it is fully their parents' responsibility. We hope that parents can be on the same page with us and forbid their children from celebrating Valentine's Day," Sudenom said.
Jakarta Authorities in Depok, West Java, have prohibited all students from celebrating Valentine's Day on Feb. 14.
Depok Education Agency head M Thamrin said on Tuesday that the ban had been communicated through a circular sent to school principals in the city. "The schools then forwarded the letter to their students," said Thamrin, as quoted by kompas.com.
Thamrin explained that the ban was meant to "instill character" in students, so as to prevent activities that deviated from religious, cultural and social norms.
"The warning is to anticipate a high number of indecent activities among students celebrating Valentine's Day," said Thamrin, adding that the ruling had been decided in an internal meeting with several figures. (jlm)
Jakarta Hundreds of residents of Kapuk Poglar in Cengkareng, West Jakarta, staged a rally on Thursday to protest a plan to evict them from their homes to make way for a police boarding house.
The residents also assembled in front of City Hall two days ago and demanded that Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan cancel the police's plan.
Wartakota.tribunnews.com reported some residents were crying during the protest because they have lived in the area for years.
Cengkareng Police chief Comr. Agung B Leksono said the protest was peaceful. "I guarantee that it will remain safe. None of the residents resorted to violence," Agung added.
Previously, the residents demanded that Anies should give them legal protection after their effort to meet him on April 26 last year and Feb. 5 proved futile. Anies refused to meet with them on both days because he did not have authority on the matter.
The Jakarta Police plans to evict residents of Kapuk Poglar, claiming that the process is allowed under a land rights certificate they held. However, residents have occupied the land since the 1970s, before the certificate was issued.
The eviction will leave 166 families homeless. The police have summoned 125 residents who allegedly occupied the land without permission. (cal)
While rights activists in Indonesia have been seriously concerned about, and building opposition to, a highly repressive revision to the country's criminal code that is currently working its way through the House of Representatives (DPR), lawmakers managed to push through another piece of legislation that critics say represents a serious threat to the country's democracy.
Yesterday, the DPR ratified Bill No 17 of 2014 concerning the MPR (People's Legislative Council), DPR, DPD (Regional Representatives Council) and DPRD (Regional House of Representatives), which has been shortened in the Indonesian media as UU MD3. The bill contains a plethora of new laws which covers every level of legislative body in the Indonesian government but there are several articles that critics say are especially dangerous.
One of those, article 122, gives the DPR's Ethics Council (MKD) the power to take legal action against individuals, groups or legal entities that "degrade the honor of the DPR or DPR members". As is typical in Indonesian legislation, what constitutes a "degradation" of honor is left undefined, leaving the door wide open for the law to be used to criminalize legitimate criticism of legislators.
House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo defended the article, saying that DPR members had the right to "defend their honor" just like members of any other profession. Also agreeing to the bill was Deputy House Speaker Fadli Zon, who just days earlier had criticized an article in the revised criminal code that would make insulting the president illegal for being undemocratic.
Criticism after the bill's passage was harsh, with one of the strongest rebukes coming from Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, chairman of the Muhammadiyah Youth Leadership Center.
"For me UU MD3 will drag Indonesia into a dark era of democracy," Dahnil said in a written statement on Tuesday as picked up by Kompas. "It turns out that our politicians want to rule without restrictions, by complicating the legal process and obtaining impunity from criticism."
In addition to article 122, Dahnil and other critics have taken aim at article 73, which allows the DPR to order the police to forcibly summon individuals for questioning as well as article 245 which requires investigators to get permission from either the president or the MKD in order to question DPR members about criminal cases (although this does not apply to corruption investigations).
The bill did not go through without internal opposition. The government and eight out of the 10 political parties agreed on UU MD3 while the United Development Party (PAN) and the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) abstained from discussion, with Nasdem members staging a walkout.
Hifdzil Alim, a researcher at Universitas Gajah Madah's Center for Anti-Corruption Research, said that he was ready to file a Constitutional Court challenge to the bill, stating that the inability to criticize the DPR would lead to the "suffocation of civil society".
Gibran Maulana Ibrahim, Jakarta This afternoon the House of Representatives (DPR) enacted revisions to the Legislative Institutions Law (UU MD3) which contains several controversial articles, one of which is that anyone who criticise the DPR can be prosecuted under law.
The revisions to the UU MD3 were enacted at a plenary meeting chaired by DPR Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon on Monday February 12. The law was enacted even though two political party factions, the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Democrat Part (NasDem), walked out.
One of the controversial articles is Article 122 which regulates the duties of the DPR's ethics council (Mahkamah Kehormatan Dewan, MKD). Paragraph (k) of the article gives the MKD the authority to pursue legal action against parties who degrade the DPR.
"[The MKD is authorised] to take legal and/or other measures against individuals, groups or legal entities that degrade the honor or the DPR and DPR members", reads the article.
The revisions to the UU MD3 have been criticised as being anti-democratic and it is very likely that the law will be challenged in the Constitutional Court. (imk/imk)
The drama over Jakarta's infamous Alexis Hotel, long rumored to be a hotbed of high-class prostitution, is getting heated once again with Governor Anies Baswedan saying that Alexis' management admitted to charges that they were still facilitating prostitution (despite having part of their business license shut down due to sex work suspicions) while an Alexis rep has flat out denied it and essentially accused the governor of making it up.
Soon after taking office in October, Anies seemingly fulfilled his campaign promise to shut down Alexis as part of a larger moral crusade against the widespread practice of prostitution in Jakarta. But all Anies' administration really did was to refuse to renew the business license for Alexis' infamous 7th floor spa. The hotel also contains a nightclub (called 4Play) with karaoke rooms which remain legally active.
Rumors eventually emerged that sexual services were still on the menu at 4Play and a recent exposee investigation by Tempo accused the venue of essentially being a strip club, complete with karaoke rooms and female attendants who gave lap dances behind closed doors. One patron told the magazine that Alexis is "the same as before. Awesome."
Anies said his administration would carry out an investigation into Alexis in light of the report and, last Saturday, he claimed that the hotel's management had confessed to their wrong doing.
"Two days ago we just finished the examination with Alexis and we already have the police investigation report (BAP), now we are just completing the follow-up procedure and the examination results of the report as they have confessed their guilt," Anies said on Saturday as quoted by Detik.
However, Lina Novita, a legal consultant for Alexis, denied that such an admission of guilt had ever been made.
"We never entered a guilty plea related to the practice of prostitution in our venue," Lina said in an official statement received by Kompas yesterday. She also told the media that authorities hadn't even questioned or called on the hotel's management for questioning in line with BAP procedure.
Regarding the video allegedly showing "adult activities" still taking place at Alexis that's been circulating on social media, Lina denied that it had actually been filmed there. She said the hotel's management was investigating the other media reports and would crack down on any employees practicing or facilitating prostitution since that was against the company's SOP.
Pressed on Alexis' denial, Anies said yesterday that he would soon give reporters evidence of the hotel' admission of guilt in the form of the BAP report and said that 4Play would be shut down in line with government regulations against prostitution. However, as of the time of writing, the BAP has not yet been shown to the media.
Jakarta Some 60 protesters from the Nation Unity Community packed the front yard of City Hall on Monday demanding Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan do a better job sorting out the many problems in the city.
Instead of providing solutions to the city's severe issues, such as traffic congestion and floods, Anies has made several problems worse, the protesters claimed.
"Why did he [Governor Anies] ask vendors to sell their goods on the streets instead of using the Block G building in Tanah Abang [market]?" community leader Silvia D. Soembarto asked wartakota.tribunnews.com, referring to Anies' controversial policy of dedicating Jl. Jatibaru Raya to street vendors instead of for motorists.
The protestors also criticized the governor's plan to revive the long-banned use of becak (pedicab) in residential areas. "Numbers of becak have begun to operate on main streets of West and North Jakarta [since the policy was announced]," she said. (vla)
Jakarta Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno has called on the flood-affected residents of Bidara Cina in East Jakarta to hand over their lands to the city administration to help move forward with a flood mitigation project.
"The residents should not be selfish, because the project could bring a positive impact to the city," Sandiaga said at City Hall on Friday, adding that he would approach the residents and try to persuade them.
The project involves drilling a tunnel that would connect the Ciliwung River to the East Flood Canal, which would ease the severe flooding that occasionally occurred in Bidara Cina.
The severe inundation that hit the capital in the past week has caused thousands of Jakarta residents, particularly those in East and South Jakarta, to move temporarily to evacuation shelters. Over 500 Bidara Cina residents have moved to the camps.
In 2015, the Bidara Cina residents whose lands were affected by the flood mitigation project filed a lawsuit against Gubernatorial Decree No. 2779/2015 that expanded the project.
The residents won their legal battle the following year, when the Jakarta State Administrative Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, citing a lack of good administrative principles as one of the reasons for the ruling. (vny)
Jakarta The Jakarta administration is set to continue the river restoration program this year by relocating residents living along the banks of the Ciliwung, Sunter and Pesanggrahan rivers to low cost apartments in a bid to mitigate annual flooding in the capital.
"The process of river restoration [or] naturalization, [does not mean] evicting the people, but relocating the residents to a proper place," Water Management Agency head Teguh Hendrawan said on Friday according to kompas.com.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan brought up the river naturalization plan when asked recently about the city's flood mitigation plan.
Teguh said the relocation would be conducted shortly after the city administration had finished gathering data on the land that needed to be acquired for the program.
He added that residents who owned land certificates would receive compensation, however, the ongoing survey had shown that most of the residents did not own the certificates.
The data collection process would take time to be done thoroughly to prevent legal disputes in the future, he said.
"We need to take care when checking the administrative documents because we need to be accountable for the money spent for compensation," Teguh said. (cal)
Jon Afrizal, Jakarta The government and the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) are now preparing a mechanism for providing unemployed citizens with benefits, said Manpower Ministry training and productivity supervision director general Bambang Satrio Lelono in Jakarta on Monday.
"We encourage BPJS Ketenagakerjaan to prepare the draft because more than 70 countries already have a mechanism for granting unemployment benefits," said Bambang as reported by kontan.co.
Bambang said one of the items that was being discussed was about the source of funds dues collection for the unemployment benefits.
Currently, there are four kinds of dues currently being managed by BPJS Ketenegakerjaan dues for elderly funds, work accident funds, death funds and pension funds.
"We are still discussing the issues, whether we need another due or to split the existing four into five," he said, adding that it was a complex issue because any changes needed be followed up with a revision to prevailing regulations.
Bambang added that collecting additional dues for unemployment benefits might face strong opposition from related parties. Unemployment benefits in the form of funds and vocational training would be granted to employees who lost their jobs, he said.
"Those who lost their jobs need to relearn skills and develop skills [...] so that they can get new jobs as well as funds for their family members," he said, adding that the government would also allocate skill development funds (SDF) for unemployed people. (bbn)
Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta The city of Palembang in South of Sumatra will co-host the Asian Games from August to September and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has ordered his aides and regional officials to focus on preventing the worst thing that could happen in the province at that time: major forest and land fires.
The haze resulting from raging fires would seriously disrupt the prestigious sporting event and put Indonesia's reputation as the host on the line.
While the number of land and forest fires has significantly decreased in the past two years, with Jakarta issuing a number of fire prevention policies following the deadly 2015 fires, scientists say we may still need to worry that major fires could occur at around the time of the Games.
One of the reasons is that the country will be holding regional elections in June, only two months before the Games kick off.
Riau and South Sumatra were the most affected by recent forest and land fires on Sumatra. This year, the two provinces and some municipalities and regencies within them are set to elect new leaders.
The problem is that law enforcement against the people responsible for forest fires will be compromised during regional elections, said Herry Purnomo, a Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) scientist. This was the conclusion he made based on a study he conducted with fellow CIFOR researchers in 2015.
"Regional leaders tend to ease law enforcement against perpetrators who happen to be their constituents in order to secure votes in the election," said Herry, who is also a professor at the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB).
The study found that the occurrence of major forest and land fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, two islands rich with peat swamp forests prone to fire, during the 2000-2015 period, had coincided with regional elections in the two areas. "This is my foremost worry," Herry said, referring to the potential for lax control over those who start fires during ahead of and during the regional elections.
In general, people have become more knowledgeable about fire prevention, especially by not clearing land for agricultural purposes by setting fire to it. Smallholders have begun complying with regulations, while big companies have started to meet their sustainability obligations as they fear having their business permits revoked.
However, Herry said the stern approach had less of an influence on another group of culprits: middle-scale farmers, who can be found across Sumatra, including in South Sumatra.
"This group is not daunted by the threat that faces big companies. They don't fear a legal case if they clear land with fire because basically they are not registered as legal entities," Herry said.
In the aftermath of the 2015 fires, which ravaged 640,000 hectares of forest and land in South Sumatra alone, attention was centered on the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), established by Jokowi to restore 2 million ha of peatland by 2020 in seven provinces, including the province.
However, experts have said there has been no significant progress in peatland restoration efforts, blaming BRG's lack of authority on the ground, especially in dealing with companies that some experts claim have allies in line ministries.
"Restoring peatland to its wet condition is a significant aspect in fire prevention," said Teguh Surya, a researcher with the Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan, an NGO that focuses on forest and land management.
Teguh said fires were still looming large in South Sumatra where peatlands are concentrated in Ogan Komering Ilir and Musi Banyuasin regencies partly because there had been no signs of significant peatland restoration by the BRG in the province. He added that the agency had never publicly revealed how much peatland it had restored there.
South Sumatra and Riau, meanwhile, have begun preparing for potential forest and land fires this year, mostly related to fire mitigation efforts.
The South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has requested additional helicopters from Jakarta to be used to extinguish fires, while the Riau administration has considered declaring a state of emergency in the province to anticipate possible fires this year.
"South Sumatra has only five helicopters, which is insufficient. Moreover, the province will host the Asian Games in August, which could the one of the hottest periods [in 2018]," South Sumatra BPBD head Iriansyah said in December last year as quoted by Antara.
Palembang will host 10 sporting events, including women's soccer, men's soccer, basketball, a triathlon, shooting and sepak takraw competitions. (ahw)
Ramadani Saputra, Jakarta The Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) has called attention to the biggest problem observed during the ongoing Asian Games Invitational Tournament the city's terrible traffic congestion.
INASGOC chief Erick Thohir acknowledged that several issues needed to be addressed, in particular decreasing traffic jams so the athletes' time would not be wasted.
"One of the things we want to do is decrease traffic congestion by 20 to 30 percent. To achieve this, schools should be dismissed and office working hours adjusted. But we realize this is not within our authority," Erick told a press conference on Friday.
He added that INASGOC felt it was important to use the Asian Games lanes, referring to the existing Transjakarta lanes, and toll roads in order to avoid traffic. All vehicles with Asian Games stickers are granted access to these two lanes.
According to INASGOC, it took 41 minutes to travel from the athletes' village in Kemayoran to the venues at Gelora Bung Karno sports complex in Central Jakarta using the Asian Games lanes. While the same journey took around 27 minutes for vehicles using the toll road.
"Because of bad weather, on Thursday it took more than an hour, even using the toll road," he added.
To decrease the traffic, Erick emphasized the importance of implementing the solutions proposed by INASGOC [dismissing schools and adjusting office hours], as these strategies had been used for multisport events in other countries.
The Jakarta administration has earlier been urged to manage traffic from the athletes' village in Kemayoran to the Asian Games venue at the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex in Central Jakarta, to comply with standards set by the Organizing Committee of Asia (OCA) regarding the athletes' traveling time.
The OCA has stated travel time between the two points should not exceed 34 minutes.
Besides transportation issues, the committee also reviewed other matters such as the ticketing system and the condition of the venues. Erick said all the venues were ready to be used without any irregularities.
The athlete's village is also considered ready to accommodate athletes and officials.
Erick also said notes had been made regarding the communication and information system during the first day, as it was observed that the capabilities of some individuals assigned to the department were not sufficient.
"We will continue training the staff [to improve their capabilities]. Several facilities, such as the wifi connections, were also down for a little while," he said.
Fabian Januarius Kuwado, Jakarta Presidential chief-of-staff Moeldoko has mooted an increasing in the number of non-commissioned officers (Babinsa) and police (Babinkamtibmas) assigned to villages in Indonesia.
According to the former TNI (Indonesian military) chief, the current number of Babinsa and Babinkamtibmas is still inadequate.
"In fact [only] one (Babinsa/Babinkamtibmas) can be (responsible) for five villages. I don't think that all villages have a Babinkamtibmas. That's the problem, yes", said Moeldoko at his office in the Bina Graha Building at the Palace complex in Jakarta on Wednesday February 14.
This is not to mention the geographic condition of villages, particularly isolated villages, which are extremely difficult to access where transportation is limited.
If the numbers are increased, Moeldoko is convinced that it will strengthen the role of Babinsa and Babinkamtibmas that are already deployed.
Moeldoko noted that the Babinsa and Babinkamtibmas are the state's advance guard in maintaining stability, security and public order. It is the Babinsa and Babinkamtibmas who are the first on the scene field when there are problems in the community.
"They are the state's representatives on the front line, so the Babinkamtibmas and Babinsa can follow everything that happens at the community level, proper surveillance minute by minute, day by day", said Moeldoko.
"If something happens, it is the Babinkamtibmas and Babinsa who respond [first]. This role is actually very important in context of the state [security] structure", he continued.
Babinsa or Bintara Pembina Desa, are non-commissioned military officers posted in villages and wards and affiliated with the civilian administration. Babinkamtibmas or Badan Pembinaan Keamanan Dan Ketertiban Masyarakat, are village-assigned police officers who act as advisers on security and public order. The Babinsa in particular provide a community level presence for the TNI's territorial command structure which mandates the deployment of military command posts and detachments at all levels of the civil administration: provincial, district, sub-district and village. This structure provides the organisational framework for the TNI to act as a political security force at all levels of society.
Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta Foreign researchers can no longer freely enter museums run by the Indonesian Military (TNI) without permission from the TNI headquarters, in a new policy that one local historian says shows Indonesia to be "allergic to foreigners."
In August last year, the TNI reportedly issued a policy temporarily banning foreign nationals from entering Indonesia's main military museum, the Satriamandala Museum, located on one of the busiest thoroughfares in Jakarta, Jl. Gatot Subroto in Kuningan, without permission from the military's headquarters.
The Jakarta Post recently obtained an undated photograph showing two flyers announcing the temporary ban on foreigners visiting the museum.
"For the moment, visitors from abroad are not allowed to enter/visit Satriamandala Museum before receiving a permit from the TNI headquarter[s]," the announcement displayed in the photograph read.
The Post visited Satriamandala Museum on Thursday, and found that the announcement had been taken down.
A museum official said that since January the restriction had been relaxed by allowing foreigners to enter the museum for recreational purposes only. Foreigners who wanted to visit the museum for research purposes were still obliged to obtain a permit from the intelligence assistant to the TNI commander, the official said.
The regulation is said to have been implemented at two other museums managed by the TNI's History Center namely the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) Betrayal Museum in Lubang Buaya, East Jakarta, and the Indonesian Soldier Museum within the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) complex, also in East Jakarta.
Renowned historian Asvi Warman Adam told the Post that two of his foreign colleagues had been affected by the restriction.
One tried to enter Satriamandala, Asvi said, while the other researcher attempted to enter the PKI Museum in Lubang Buaya. "[This policy] creates a negative image of Indonesia as a state that is undemocratic, isolated and being allergic to foreigners," Asvi said, recalling there had been no such obligation previously.
The University of Indonesia historian called the regulation "discriminatory" given that it did not apply to Indonesian researchers. "Museums are not archives. In museums, the dioramas are for the public," Asvi said.
TNI spokesman Brig. Gen. Sabrar Fadhilah insisted the policy regarding foreign researchers was a "procedure" that had to be implemented for "foreigners who want to enter military institutions" and that it aimed to ensure impartiality in research.
"It's like somebody, a foreigner, who wanted to come to your house to research whether or not your house was formerly owned by the Dutch. That person must secure your permission," Sabrar said in a phone interview on Friday.
"I think there has to be a process to ensure research is not conducted haphazardly," Sabrar said.
Established in October 1972, Satriamandala Museum is Indonesia's foremost military museum and houses a trove of artifacts, weapons and vehicles. The name of the museum is derived from the Sanskrit words meaning "a sacred place of knights."
Prior to its establishment, the museum's main building was formerly the home of Indonesia's founding father Sukarno, who stepped down from power following the attempted coup in 1965, which has been blamed on the now-defunct PKI.
It has four rooms dedicated to artefacts that once belonged to four of the country's most prominent military figures: Soeharto, who rose to power as president in 1967 and governed the country for more than three decades until his downfall in 1998; Abdul Harris Nasution, a military strategist and a close ally of Soeharto, best known for escaping an assassination attempt during the attempted 1965 coup; national hero Sudirman, Indonesia's first military commander; and Oerip Soemohardjo, Indonesia's first armed forces chief of staff.
Notable exhibits include a litter used to carry Sudirman during his seven months of guerilla fighting in Java against Dutch imperialists, and Indonesia's first presidential aircraft named the RI Seulawah 1.
The museum also contains dioramas showcasing the history of Indonesia's military, including the country's volatile formative years, between 1945 and 1949, which are now being scrutinized by a large-scale Dutch-funded research project involving local historians from Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta. (ahw)
Vincent Bevins, Jakarta Prodded by religious conservatives, Indonesia is moving toward outlawing gay sex and even sex outside marriage in a jarring change for a country long seen as a bastion of tolerance in the Islamic world.
The proposed sexual crackdown in the Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 260 million people the world's largest Muslim-majority nation and third-largest democracy is drawing criticism at home and abroad from human rights organizations and LGBT activists. They warn that penal-code revisions now under consideration in parliament would discriminate against large numbers of people, promote extremist views and reverse democratic gains.
Ichsan Soelistio, a member of a special commission in the Indonesian House of Representatives working to update the country's criminal code, said the body has reached consensus to include laws outlawing extramarital sex as well as gay sex, and is likely to do so soon but with some limitations.
"More-conservative elements want full criminalization, which we reject," Soelistio, a member of Indonesia's largest political party, said in an interview this week. "But we have agreed to accept a law which allows prosecution of sex outside marriage and homosexual sex, but only if one of the sexual partners or their family members report the crime to police."
President Joko Widodo, a fellow member of Soelistio's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, is considered more secular and liberal than most major Indonesian politicians, and he almost certainly will face off against a more conservative Muslim figure in his bid for reelection in April next year. The legislators also face reelection, and opposition parties recently have used religion as a wedge issue to great effect.
In the interview in his parliamentary office, Soelistio, 63, repeatedly emphasized that his party would prefer to stay out of regulating citizens' private lives. But he asserted that given political realities, the proposed new rules were the best way to protect LGBT and other at-risk communities.
"Without this kind of firewall, there is the risk that the public can try to take the law into their own hands," he said. "We are not banning gay people. We are trying to give them freedom within certain limits."
Not everyone finds this argument convincing. "That is not protection," said Lini, an Indonesian LGBT activist. "LGBT Indonesians are often rejected by their families or the victims of violence within the family. Allowing their parents to throw them in jail legally is the opposite of helping."
Lini, who works with the LGBT organization Arus Pelangi (Rainbow Flow), did not want to be identified by her full name out of fear for her safety.
She said she has been shocked by how quickly political sentiment has shifted on the issue: "Six months ago, I would have thought it very unlikely a law like this would actually be passed. Now we have little reason to feel optimistic."
On a visit to Jakarta this week, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein came to a similar conclusion.
"I am greatly concerned about the discussions around revisions to the penal code," the former Jordanian diplomat said at a news conference.
"These discussions betray strains of intolerance seemingly alien to Indonesian culture... The extremist views playing out in the political arena are deeply worrying, accompanied as they are by rising levels of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence in various parts of the country."
Hussein urged Indonesians to consolidate their democracy by moving "forward not backward on human rights." He added: "Because these proposed amendments will in effect criminalize large sections of the poor and marginalized, they are inherently discriminatory. LGBTI Indonesians already face increasing stigma, threats and intimidation. The hateful rhetoric against this community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions." (LGBTI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.)
In cases of gay sex, the proposed changes call for prison sentences for acts committed in public, with a minor or when used for commercial or pornographic purposes. In such cases, a complaint by one partner or family member is not required.
Police began using existing pornography laws last year to crack down on gay parties, as the country's politics took an apparent turn toward increased religious conservatism.
Widodo ally Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent commonly known as "Ahok," lost his bid for reelection as Jakarta governor last April, then was jailed for comments he made during his campaign that were deemed blasphemous to Islam.
The episode, which included mass protests organized by Islamist groups, put Widodo's party on the defensive and convinced many politicians that a moral crusade could be a cheap and easy way to appeal to voters, analysts said.
"For several decades, the perceived importance of religious identity and piety among Indonesian Muslims has been growing," said David Henley, professor of contemporary Indonesia studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. This is partly because of globalization and contact with more-conservative Islamic societies elsewhere and partly a reaction to increasing urbanization and modernization, he added.
On Thursday, a group of female Indonesian activists presented an online petition to lawmakers and asked them to abandon the penal-code revisions, but they reported on social media that the meeting was frustrating.
Indonesians who do not want to see the state add tools to regulate private sexuality hope that international pressure prompts the government to change tack, or that proponents of the changes simply fail to get them through the legislature. Indonesia's criminal code has not been updated since the archipelago was ruled as a Dutch colony before World War II.
"This time, however, they are really determined to get this done and may do so as soon as next month," said Maidina Rahmawati, a researcher at Indonesia's Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. "They want to present it as a major achievement."
The reason for expanding sexual crimes is simple, she said: "In contemporary Indonesian politics, religion and morality have proven to be effective weapons."
Phelim Kine The Indonesian government debased the rule of law today by awarding Philippine National Police Director-General Ronald dela Rosa its highest honor, the Medal of Honor.
Indonesia's National Police Chief, Gen. Tito Karnavian, praised dela Rosa for his "rock star-like inspiration to the Indonesian national police and the Indonesian people on how to fight the war on drugs." That's a perverse assessment of a Philippine government official implicated in possible crimes against humanity for inciting and instigating killings linked to the government's "war on drugs."
Since June 2016, that campaign has killed more than 12,000 people, according to estimates from reliable nongovernmental organizations and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. Most victims, including a number of children, have been urban slum dwellers. Human Rights Watch and investigative journalists have documented that many of those deaths amount to extrajudicial killings by Philippine police personnel and their agents. Dela Rosa has obstructed calls for accountability for those deaths by dismissing requests for independent investigations as "legal harassment" and declaring that such demands "dampens the morale" of police officers.
The handful of prosecutions of police personnel implicated in the killings have not resulted in convictions. In July, dela Rosa reinforced the anti-drug campaign's culture of impunity by reinstating 18 police officers facing homicide charges in the 2016 killing of Rolando Espinosa Sr., mayor of Albuera, on Leyte island. This, despite compelling evidence that the officers committed "premeditated murder" when they shot Espinosa to death in a Manila jail cell on November 5, 2016.
Indonesia's police chief Karnavian has expressed fondness for violent extrajudicial approaches to illegal drug use previously. In July he publicly touted the shooting of drug dealers as the ideal approach. That's possible instigation of deadly violence given that a University of Melbourne analysis indicates that Indonesian police killed an estimated 49 suspected drug dealers in the first six months of 2017. That is a sharp rise from 14 such killings in all of 2016 and 10 in 2015. Ominously, more than one third of the total police killings in Indonesia from January to June 2017 occurred after the suspects had surrendered to police.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo should join calls for a United Nations-led international investigation into the Philippine "drug war" rather than honoring one of its chief architects.
Rachmadea Aisyah, Jakarta The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has cut 22 regulations on the energy sector in an effort to simplify the business permit issuance process.
The cuts are in addition to the 32 regulations scrapped by the ministry on the oil and gas and mining sectors, recently.
"We decided to cut the regulations we considered to have hampered investment in accordance with directives from the President [Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo]," Minister Ignasius Jonan told reporters at a press conference at the ministry office in Jakarta on Monday.
This year, the government aims to attract US$50 billion in investment in the energy sector, well above last year's realized figure of $26 billion.
The 22 regulations that were revoked or merged consisted of 11 decrees under the ministry's Directorate General of Oil and Gas, seven under the Directorate General of Mineral and Coal, seven under the Directorate General of New and Renewable Energy and three under the the Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas).
Jonan said the ministry was anticipating further regulation cuts in the upcoming weeks. "With all these cuts, we hope the flexibility [of the energy sector] will improve," he said. (bbn)
The deputy house speaker of Indonesia's House of Representatives (DPR), Fadli Zon, has been an adamant critic of President Joko Widodo's administration, especially recently while stumping for his boss, Gerindra chief Prabowo Subianto, who is widely expected to challenge Jokowi once again in the 2019 elections.
But he might have made a big mistake going after the president's highly popular minister of fisheries and maritime affairs, Susi Pudjiastuti.
Yesterday, Fadli let loose with a Twitter thread expounding on Gerindra's history and virtues on the occasion of the party's 10th anniversary, starting with a tweet featuring a photo of himself alongside a photo of Prabowo saying they were ready to win the 2019 election.
1) Partai Gerakan Indonesia Raya (Gerindra) genap berusia sepuluh tahun pada 6 Februari kemarin. Menginjak usia satu dekade, kini Partai Gerindra semakin percaya diri dan siap memenangkan Pemilu 2019. @Partai_Gerindra pic.twitter.com/6bm0nQnyqp Fadli Zon (@fadlizon) February 7, 2018
But later in the thread his attention turned away from Gerindra's greatness to throwing shade on the accomplishments of Jokowi's administration, specifically the fisheries ministry,
13) Di tempat lain, kita membangga-banggakan jumlah kapal nelayan asing yang berhasil ditenggelamkan, serta klaim populasi ikan yang meningkat, seolah itu adalah ukuran keberhasilan Kementerian Kelautan dan Perikanan. @Gerindra Fadli Zon (@fadlizon) February 7, 2018
Elsewhere, we are proud of the number of foreign fishing boats that the government has successfully sunk, as well as claims of fish populations increasing, as if that is a measure of the success of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs.
14) Padahal, pada saat bersamaan, nelayan kita masih menjadi kelompok termiskin, bahkan sempat menjadi kelompok yang rentan terkena kriminalisasi gara-gara persoalan alat tangkap. @Gerindra Fadli Zon (@fadlizon) February 7, 2018
Whereas, at the same time, our fishermen are still among the poorest groups, they've even become a vulnerable group affected by criminalization because of their choice of fishing tools.
To put these tweets in context, Fadli is referring to Susi's popular policy of sinking foreign fishing boats caught poaching in Indonesian waters and the data showing that Indonesia's fish stocks have increased significantly as a result of the government's hardline approach.
The second tweet refers to protests by fishermen who had protested the ministry's banning of seine net fishing (due to its negative environmental impact). In fact, Susi met with protesting fishermen personally last month and promised to mostly overturn the ban (with some stipulations), an announcement that was met by protesters' cheers.
At any rate, Susi was not going to let that attack on the accomplishments of her ministry stand, so she clapped back at the deputy house speaker with this tweet:
Ukuran keberhasilan yg telah anda lakukan apa Pak Fadli yth??? Mohon pencerahan
Susi Pudjiastuti (@susipudjiastuti) February 7, 2018
And what is the size of your accomplishments, Pak Fadli??? Please enlighten us.
Eventually Fadli answered with this limp reply.
Sy tuangkan dlm 3 buku "Berpihak Pada Rakyat" apa yg sy lakukan (bukan klaim keberhasilan) kurun 2014-2015, 2015-2016, 2016-2017 sb @DPR_RI. https://t.co/RznoParP4M
Fadli Zon (@fadlizon) February 7, 2018
I reveal it inside three books, "Siding With the People" that shows what I have done (not claimed to have accomplished) from 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 in the DPR.
The war of words between two of the country's senior government leaders quickly went viral and was picked up by the Indonesian media. When asked in person, Fadli walked back his tweets back a bit, saying that he did appreciate Susi safeguarding Indonesia's waters but saying that it was not enough if it did not improve the livelihoods of Indonesia's poor fishermen. He also invited Susi to the launch of his book today and said she was free to criticize him there.
While we haven't seen a copy of Fadli's books we can tell you about a few of his accomplishments we've written about. He was able to get into a scandal after appearing at a press conference for then-US presidential candidate Donald Trump, who he later congratulated on the win and tried to emulate (before finally denouncing him after Trump named Jerusalem the capital of Israel). He has written a lot of cringey poetry (including one particularly odious one aimed at Ahok). Most recently, he spoke out against a new revision of the criminal code, not because of its potential criminalization of adultery and homosexulity but because of a paragraph that would make insulting the president a criminal offense, which he said was undemocratic (this was, of course, after he supported his former boss Seya Novanto's attempts to jail people who shared mean memes about him).
As for Susi Pudjiastuti, in addition to being one of the most popular politicians in the country, she has also received high praise from environmental groups across the globe, was personally thanked by Leonardo DiCaprio for her work on sustainability and helped smash fishing slavery rings operating out of remote parts of Indonesia. She's also undoubtedly the coolest minister in all of ASEAN.
Yeah, looks like Fadli might have been bitten off more than he could chew by challenging Ibu Susi to a throwdown.
Jun Suzuki, Jakarta Amid major delays in his trademark infrastructure program, Indonesian President Joko Widodo is working to strengthen ties with Japan in hopes of building a legacy ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
Widodo called for the swift development of Indonesian infrastructure in a meeting Jan. 19 with Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The Indonesian leader named five projects Japanese players are involved in, such as the development of the Patimban port and the construction of a mass rapid transit system in Jakarta. He seemed satisfied when told that construction at Patimban would begin in May and that a portion of the port would open in March 2019.
Key gubernatorial elections are coming up this June, to be followed by the presidential vote in April 2019. The proposed timeline fits perfectly with Widodo's hopes to make tangible progress on infrastructure development before he likely seeks re-election next year.
Bilateral ties seem to be warming as the countries celebrate their 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. But Widodo, who took office in October 2014, has not always been on such great terms with Japan. Though his administration denies it, he is said to be relying more on China to help develop infrastructure.
Widodo has played Japan and China against each other for a piece of his 5,000 trillion rupiah ($366 billion) infrastructure initiative. A key example was with Indonesia's first high-speed railway. The Southeast Asian nation was initially leaning toward adopting Japanese shinkansen bullet trains using yen-denominated loans. But Widodo, eager to avoid debt, decided in September 2015 to go with the Chinese bid, which came at no cost to the Indonesian government.
His administration also jumped on Chinese proposals for new power plants and other projects, which promised a quick turnaround and no cost to the government. Chinese direct investment in Indonesia rose to $2.7 billion in 2016, nine times the 2013 figure.
But many of these projects may end up pipe dreams. Two years after the groundbreaking on the high-speed railway in January 2016 to much fanfare, all that has happened is site preparation along a portion of the planned route. The Chinese side refuses to cough up promised funds until Indonesia secures all necessary land, bringing the project to a standstill.
The railway stands little chance of opening as planned in 2019. This was a major miscalculation for Widodo, who hoped to have it completed before the election. The government began quietly reviewing its plans in January on the president's orders.
Only such relatively low-profile projects as highways and regional ports have made much headway, while Widodo's most prominent initiatives face delays. The only major projects that could still be completed before the April 2019 election are the Patimban port and the MRT both joint projects with Japan.
Indonesia has hit snags in plans to bolster its infrastructure through participating in China's Belt and Road Initiative. Issues including maritime disputes in the South China Sea have also soured public opinion on the Asian giant, making it hard for Widodo to push for greater cooperation.
"China promises to invest but just doesn't seem to deliver," an Indonesian official said. "Japan is slow at planning but always makes things happen." A growing number of voices in the government say it has no choice but to rely on Tokyo.
In a December interview with The Nikkei, Widodo said he was closest with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe out of all of the world's leaders. Ministers involved in the infrastructure initiative also visited Japan 16 times last year. Widodo has even appointed former Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel, whose family runs a joint venture with Panasonic, as a special envoy to Japan. The two countries are ironing out plans for more major infrastructure projects, such as building a railroad across the island of Java.
"The 'akai ito' or the red string of fate that connects the two countries, may be stretched or tangled in times, but it will never break," Widodo said in a message for the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
Japan had issued a total of 4.8 trillion yen ($44.6 billion at current rates) in yen-denominated loans to Indonesia as of the end of fiscal 2015 to aid the development of an important economic and security partner. The countries need to focus on untangling and strengthening their "string of fate" with an eye on their relationship even after the presidential election.
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono has revealed that nationwide sanitation and drinking water projects progressed at a slower rate than other infrastructure projects handled by the ministry.
Progress in sanitation and drinking water projects stood at 62 and 72 percent, respectively, as of December 2017. Meanwhile, progress in other projects, such as toll roads and public housing, reached more than 90 percent, he added.
"Drinking water and sanitation projects need public participation and all-out support in the state budget," he said after a Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Monday.
He said President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla insisted that the government complete sanitation infrastructure projects in 94,454 areas and provide 27.7 million households across the country with access to drinking water. (bbn)
Sarah Yuniarni, Jakarta A recent string of accidents in major construction projects in Indonesia has raised concerns of lax safety standards as President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo pushes on with his ambitious infrastructure drive.
Last week, a retaining wall at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport near Jakarta collapsed and crushed a passing car, killing one man and injured another.
The wall was part of an airport train project completed only a few months ago by state-owned construction company Waskita Karya.
Prior to that, a total of 11 accidents were recorded at construction projects around the country managed by Waskita, Hutama Karya and Adhi Karya since August 2017, killing eight and injuring dozens of others.
Davy Sukamta, a structural engineering consultant, said managing too many projects could have strained the companies' capabilities and exposed questionable work practices.
"Personally, I think [the accidents may have been caused by] bad work habits that have been going on [for years]. This makes it difficult for these companies to handle so many infrastructure projects," Davy said.
Davy stopped short of saying contractors cut corners on construction materials, but did point out that many of them especially smaller operators lack skilled engineers and workers.
"The way the government conducts tenders for their projects [is also worrying]. They almost always pick a contractor that makes the lowest bid," Davy said.
According to him, the Indonesian government should put contractors through a strict pre-qualification or pre-screening test. This will allow them to weed out low-skilled contractors from major construction projects.
The government should also conduct a thorough performance evaluation after each project is finished, which should allow them to earmark or ban underperforming contractors from future projects.
The incident at Soekarno-Hatta Airport forced the government to launch an investigation and raise safety standards in all its other infrastructure projects.
Transportation Ministry's secretary-general Sugihardjo said on Feb. 4 that Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi has made an agreement with the Public Works and Housing Ministry to investigate the accident.
As part of the agreement, the airport train project will now be supervised by the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT).
The contractor for the project has already been told to replace facilities at the construction site that do not meet safety standards. KNKT will also send a team to perform quality control at the site.
Waskita Karya's corporate secretary Shastia Hadiarti said last Friday the accident at Soekarno-Hatta Airport has not significantly impacted the company's business since Waskita still has numerous other projects going on.
Shastia said investigation into the tragedy is continuing and the result will be announced in March or April.
Reconstruction of the collapsed wall is expected to be completed in the next few days. Waskita is waiting for a team of investigators to decide if the area is safe for cars or pedestrians to cross.
Jakarta The Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) has estimated that e-commerce contributes just 0.75 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Indef researcher Bhima Yudhistira Adhinegara said based on data owned by Bank Indonesia, the amount of e-commerce transactions was Rp 75 trillion (US$5.25 billion) in 2016, including transactions in non-marketplaces.
With the assumption that e-commerce grows 17 percent annually, as it has done in the last 10 years, e-commerce transactions would reach Rp 102 trillion in 2018.
"The amount is small compared to GDP, which is at Rp 13.59 quadrillion", said Bhima as reported by kontan.co.id. "It is only about 0.75 percent of GDP or 1.34 percent of total household consumption."
However, he said e-commerce was important because it posed significant growth. Therefore, he added, the government needed to have accurate data about the digital economy not only e-commerce, but also financial technology (fintech).
"Now its contribution is still small, but it will potentially make a large contribution in the future," he said, adding that he supported the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), which was collecting data on e-commerce to provide decision makers with more accurate data. (bbn)
Adinda Normala, Jakarta Japan Credit Rating Agency, or JCR, has upgraded Indonesia's sovereign debt to "BBB with a stable outlook," a notch above investment grade, from BBB- on Thursday (08/02), citing that the government's structural reforms have improved the country's economic growth.
The Tokyo-based rating agency praised President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's structural reforms since he took office in 2014 to reduce the country's dependency on natural resources to drive its economy.
"The effects of the reform initiatives have emerged in various aspects three years since the inauguration of the administration," a statement released by JCR said.
The agency pointed to the significant improvement in investment climate, thanks to a series of economic policy packages released by the government since 2015.
The policy packages have also lifted Indonesia's ranking to 72nd out of 190 countries in the World Bank's ease of doing business list.
JCR said the fast infrastructure development 60 percent of Jokowi's projects are already under construction has helped to boost Indonesia's economy.
Under Jokowi's administration, Southeast Asia's largest economy has embarked on an ambitious plan to improve infrastructures across the archipelago.
It has 245 national strategic projects under way with an estimated total investment of $327.2 billion, or around 30 percent of the country's nominal gross domestic product.
"The government intends to actively mobilize funds, including external sources for infrastructure, while continuing to contain overall external borrowing," the report said.
"JCR will closely monitor whether fund procurement from the private sector for infrastructure will proceed as planned going forward," JCR said. The rating agency will also monitor the country's tax revenues.
As the JCR report noted, Indonesia's current account deficit has been narrowing in recent years expected to stay around 2 percent of gross domestic product according to the International Monetary Fund due to improving exports, reducing the country's dependency on offshore financing.
Indonesia's central bank, Bank Indonesia, has been tightening rules on borrowing from foreign sources since 2014, an effort which managed to shrink foreign debt made by the private sector by 5.6 percent annually to $158.7 million at the end of 2016 and kept it almost flat last year.
Bank Indonesia governor Agus Martowardojo welcomed JCR's outlook in a separate statement. "The upgraded rating reflects the growing confidence of international institutions on Indonesia's fundamental economic strength and the government's commitment to improve its economic structure in the future," he said.
Agus said JCR's outlook demonstrates a synergy between the central bank and the government to maintain macroeconomic stability and financial system to provide a conducive atmosphere for sustainable economic growth.
The central bank will continue to implement a consistent policy mix and maintain its coordination with the government, Agus also said.
Indonesia has secured investment grade ratings from the world's "Big Three" credit rating agencies Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor's and Moody's for the first time since 1997 after Standard & Poor's granted a long-awaited investment grade status to Indonesia in May.
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta Bank Indonesia (BI) has said Indonesia needs to boost its exports as the country's foreign debt continues to increase as the government seeks to accelerate its infrastructure projects.
BI senior deputy governor Mirza Adityaswara said in Jakarta on Thursday that while Indonesia's foreign debt was still under control, the country's deficient export value had caused the current deficit to reach historic proportions.
Indonesia has an external debt to gross domestic products (GDP) ratio of 34.5 percent, similar to Thailand's 33.9 percent, he said, adding, however, that Indonesia's external debt to current account receipt was 169.9 percent while Thailand and Malaysia's were 46.4 and 9.0 percent respectively.
"Thailand's foreign debt situation is similar to ours, however, they generated far greater foreign currency income from their exports to pay their debt," he said in Jakarta. Therefore, he stressed that the focus of investment in Indonesia should be on export-oriented industries and tourism.
The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) recorded that Indonesia collected US$168.73 billion from exports in 2017, a 16.22 percent increase compared with $144.43 billion in 2016.
Meanwhile, Thailand's exports totaled $236.69 billion in 2017, while Vietnam's exports were recorded at $213.77 billion.
BI recorded that as of November, 2017, Indonesia's foreign debt was recorded at $343 billion, a 9.1 percent increase compared with the same period last year. (bbn)
Kyle Knight It may seem preposterous, but some Indonesian politicians are attempting to portray the criminalization of adult consensual same-sex conduct as somehow protecting against vigilantism. Make same-sex behavior a crime, they say, and conservative elements will be placated, avoiding violent outbursts. If there is an official route to report and prosecute lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the logic goes, members of the public won't resort to attacks.
The argument has a certain appeal amid Indonesia's intensifying moral panic about sexuality, but the substance makes no sense whatsoever especially considering Indonesia's unrelenting government-driven campaign of vitriolic rhetoric against LGBT activism and people. But while politicians spin their current decision-making as horse trading and political compromise, their policy proposals echo the deeply problematic historical relationship between Indonesia's laws and vigilante attacks on minorities and portend a violent future.
In late January, Zulkifli Hasan, speaker of Indonesia's parliament, who had been one of the first public figures to launch an anti-LGBT diatribe in 2016, told reporters that there were parliamentarians discussing same-sex marriage a triggering issue in Indonesian political discourse. In 2017 social media erupted with calls to boycott Starbucks, for example, because the coffee company's CEO had four years earlier declared his support for marriage equality. Hasan's statement that legislators were discussing same-sex marriage was not true, but in Jakarta's political chess match, it effectively cornered all players into publicly affirming their support for some degree of opposition to gay equality.
One member of parliament, a representative from Aceh province, suggested the death penalty. Aceh's position is extreme; it is the only province in Indonesia allowed to implement Sharia (Islamic law) and the 2014 local criminal code includes punishments for adult consensual same-sex conduct, as well as clauses that encourage community enforcement and "snooping," which has led to widespread vigilante actions and, in 2017, Indonesia's first public flogging for homosexuality.
Other lawmakers proposed complete criminalization of sex outside of marriage, with extra penalties if it is between two people of the same gender an anti-adultery law, with an anti-gay provision. A group called the Family Love Alliance brought a similar proposal to the Constitutional Court in July 2016, where justices rejected it 5-4.
Some other legislators involved in the criminal code revisions proposed what they see as a compromise. As Ichsan Soelistio, a parliamentarian from Indonesia's largest political party, Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDIP), and one of the members working to update the country's criminal code told the Washington Post last week: "[We] have agreed to accept a law which allows prosecution of sex outside marriage and homosexual sex, but only if one of the sexual partners or their family members report the crime to police."
Soelistio, who is a member of President Joko Widodo's party, calls this version of the law "a firewall." Without it, he insists, "the public can try to take the law into their own hands" and attack LGBT people.
The proposal is eerily similar to how Indonesian politicians have attempted to spin the country's notorious blasphemy law as a stabilizing force and a preventative measure against vigilante violence. In 2008, the government also issued an anti-Ahmadiyah regulation, reasoning that it would prevent vigilantes attacking the Muslim minority community, often accused of committing blasphemy against Islam.
The blasphemy law, article 156a of the Indonesian criminal code, was passed in 1965 and punishes deviations from the central tenets of Indonesia's six officially recognized religions with up to five years in prison.
In 2009, when Muslim intellectuals challenged the blasphemy law in the Constitutional Court, government witnesses defended the law, saying Muslim mobs would probably attack religious minorities if the blasphemy law were overturned because ordinary Indonesian Muslims believed it was their duty to defend Islam. Ultimately, in 2010 the court ruled 8 to 1 that the blasphemy law lawfully restricted minority religious expression because it allows for the maintenance of "public order." The court agreed that without it, religious minorities could become targets of violence by intolerant members of the public.
In fact, the exact opposite has happened repeatedly. Militant Islamist groups and community vigilantes have violently targeted Ahmadiyah, Gafatar, Christian, Buddhist, Confucian and other religious minorities. For more than a decade, police, military, and other authorities have failed repeatedly to defend these religious communities, investigate the attacks, and bring perpetrators to justice. Meanwhile, dozens have been prosecuted under the law for expressing minority religious views. The law has been an abject failure in theory and practice, and a source of violence, not protection.
In rejecting last year's petition to criminalize homosexuality, Indonesia's Constitutional Court said it was for parliament to decide whether to criminalize private sexual behavior, but warned against over-criminalization. "If one builds an argument that to maintain societal order is to force members of the society who acts in a manner considered deviant to change their behaviors through threats of criminal punishment," the justices warned, "he or she basically believes that societal order can be created under repressive measures only."
So, when legislators such as Soelistio suggest that "we are not banning gay people. We are trying to give them freedom within certain limits," it rings not only hollow, but mendacious. The anti-LGBT campaign that began in 2016 has metastasized into outright violence including police raids on night clubs that were HIV education and testing hubs, as well as private homes. At least 300 LGBT people were arrested last year.
Basic human rights aren't a matter of political horse-trading, and protection is never achieved through criminal sanctions against minorities' fundamental rights. It's not freedom of expression versus security, or privacy versus dignity. Indonesia's experience with the blasphemy law should be evidence enough to tip the balance back towards protecting human rights. Indonesia has never in its history criminalized adult consensual same-sex conduct: 2018 is not the year to do it.
Stanley Widianto History seems to be repeating itself in Indonesia. Same beats, same choruses, same incendiary statements, same rebuttals. The Indonesian government is about to deliver a fresh blow to its LGBTI communities. Yesterday's "a threat worse than a nuclear bomb" is today's "sacrilege" or "disease."
Following the raids at gay bars and saunas last year and the arrest and humiliation of 12 trans women in Aceh last month, Indonesia's House of Representatives will decide on a set of revisions to the country's criminal code on 14 February, which has not been updated since its days as a Dutch colony. With the draft containing these revisions already circulated, the criminalisation of the LGBT communities takes on a decidedly more potent tenor. Two sections, if passed, may outlaw extramarital and homosexual sex, respectively carrying the maximum prison sentence of five years and 12 years. LGBT crackdown feared in Indonesia after 12 women evicted from home Read more
Reading this draft, I realised that crass subjectivity can be weaponised. For example, the planned law against extramarital sex will make it harder for rape victims to claim their innocence when their assailants say that the rape is consensual. This will also hurt impoverished Indonesians who can't afford to file for legal certification of their marriage (estimates put this at 55% of couples) their fornication could be fair game in the eyes of the court.
Ricky Gunawan, lawyer for the Community Legal Aid Institute in Jakarta, tells me that the draft will bring a harsher punishment for those caught engaging in homosexual acts, regardless of their consensual nature. He says that the "catchall" criminal code could serve as grounds to punish, in addition to the 2008 anti-pornography laws that are often wielded to punish people attending gay parties, for example. "They're trying to shove morality down our throats, using criminal laws to preside over someone's morality," he adds.
Presiding over someone's morality isn't something that surprises me about our government, but there's something suspect about the move's political gains or losses. It smacks of expediency. In the lead-up to the 2019 presidential election, according to the magazine Tempo, almost all factions of the nine political parties in the parliament have agreed to the inclusion of gay relationships in existing laws against harassment. Party lines have become nothing short of a currency.
"What we want is for the laws to be delayed [until after the 2019 election]," says Tunggal Pawestri, a feminist activist and one of the people who launched a petition against the revisions (which has garnered over 60,000 signatures). "[The revisions] are just a way to get votes. A lot of what's being discussed on the floor is just a selling item."
In theory, there is a way for the revisions to be pulled or delayed. President Joko Widodo, on behalf of the government, could write a letter of objection to the parliament. It is, however, a move believed to be costly to his political capital something he may not want to risk losing if he is to run for a second term next year.
And though most factions in the special working group for the revisions have voiced their assent for the revisions, they don't necessarily all agree in principle. Tempo reported that the deliberations have seen, for instance, party members not showing up to meetings. Due to limited knowledge about LGBT issues, "they're afraid," as Benny Kabur Harman, the head of the working group on the revisions of the criminal code in the House of Representatives, said of such members in the magazine.
The more liberal factions, such as one from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), have also told reporters that they'd rather not barge in on people's private lives. They argue that the revisions will function as a firewall with which to protect the LGBT communities from "the risk that the public can try to take the law into their own hands," said PDIP member Ichsan Soelistio in an interview with the Washington Post. The "firewall" will limit the complaints solely to family members or the partners or when there's violence involved.
Still, that the political manoeuvring has not let up on private spaces makes me doubt whether there's a way out of this. What can be done, says Pawestri, is "more pressure on the parliament or the government to do the right thing." After we spoke, there was a demonstration at the gates of the House of Representatives from an alliance of civil society groups strongly demanding for the revisions to be scaled back.
I've written this article before. I've asked the same questions What statements have politicians made about the LGBT community? What new petitions have popped up on the web? Aren't there cultures in Indonesia that deviate from traditional gender norms? Do most Indonesians know of them? but when the private life of an Indonesian is still a question to be debated by his/her government, I know that I'll keep asking them.
Tess Newton Cain The last time the leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) got together was in 2016, for a special leaders summit held in Honiara. A number of key issues were left unresolved after that meeting, most notably whether to endorse the next iteration of the MSG Trade Agreement, and who should qualify as group members.
We should expect the membership issue to take up most of the group's political and diplomatic energy again this week when its leaders convene on Wednesday for a summit in Port Moresby. The discussion centres on how the group will deal with the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), and whether it should be made a full member of the MSG.
The ULMWP currently holds observer status in the group. Of the five full members of the MSG (Fiji, PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste, or FLNKS), the ULMWP has the unwavering support of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and the FLNKS. The inability to reach consensus on membership arises from the ambivalence and prevarication exhibited by PNG and Fiji, reflecting influence from Indonesia. Indonesia's ability to influence the MSG and frustrate the ambitions of the West Papuans has been enhanced since it was made an associate member of the group in 2015.
The ULMWP is optimistic that its bid for membership will be accepted by the MSG leaders when they meet. The movement claims to have addressed all the issues that PNG's Peter O'Neill raised in 2015, which included a stipulation that the ULMWP at the time known as the the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) strive to unify all pro-independence groups, and that the movement should consult with Indonesia on MSG membership.
Since then the organisation has undergone a significant period of consolidation, restructuring and overall professionalisation. This includes a recent change in leadership, with Benny Wenda taking on the role of chairman in 2017.
The government in Vanuatu has also donated the ULMWP an office building. This gives it a physical base in the heart of Melanesia, and essentially places the ULMWP cheek by jowl with the MSG, whose secretariat is also in Port Vila. Wenda is expected to attend the leaders summit in Port Moresby, at the invitation of O'Neill. The government of Vanuatu has indicated that it wishes to include Octovianus Mote, another senior figure from the ULMWP, as part of its official delegation.
Much more prosaically, the 2018 MSG Leaders Summit will need to address ongoing challenges associated with the group's finances. This summit will mark the transfer of its chair from Solomon Islands to Papua New Guinea, a move due to have taken place in the middle of last year but delayed because of the PNG elections. There was no MSG leaders meeting during 2017.
A lot of strategic planning for the MSG and its secretariat has been undertaken. There are papers tabled that address restructuring of the secretariat and a remuneration review.
However, this all turns on the question of political will. There is a long-standing issue around the inability or unwillingness of the sovereign state members to pay their share of funding on time, or even at all. Fiji, PNG, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu are all facing fiscal constraints.
Yet the real issue is politics. If the organisation is hamstrung because of impasses such as the membership issue, it is difficult for leaders to demonstrate, both to their governments and electorates, that supporting the MSG is a good use of precious resources.
Of course, Indonesia could offer to pick up the bill for MSG running costs, which would be of little consequence to them financially. But the political sensitivities around that option make it unlikely.
The past few years have seen the MSG move from a renaissance period to one of frustrated inertia. The situation is such that a couple of years ago I suggested the Gordian knot as a suitable logo for the organisation. There are a number of strands to the tangle in which the MSG finds itself, and there have been several attempts to unravel them. The test for this summit will be whether the knot tightens or finally starts to give way.
Aisyah Llewellyn Indonesia is currently gripped by news about plans to revise the country's criminal code (RKUHP). This could see draconian new laws passed in the country that include making cohabitation between unmarried couples illegal, criminalising homosexual acts, and the introduction of prison terms for adultery.
Many are worried by the proposals, including Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman:
"This must be stopped. The current draft revision of the law is unconstitutional in many ways and should be taken for judicial review to the Constitutional Court immediately if it is successful."
The original code dates back to the Dutch colonial period, and the path taken to arrive at these proposals has been long and confusing. Potential revisions have been in the works for a long time, and in recent years revisions have been discussed periodically, only to be quietly shelved or postponed indefinitely.
A media firestorm errupted at the end of January, however, when outlets including Reuters, who claimed to have seen a copy of the new text, highlighted some of the issues the draft looks to revise. In February, the House of Representatives (DPR) met with the government and agreed to some of the proposed revisions, such as making sex outside marriage illegal. Koman highlights how revisions to overturn the code were once considered at in a positive light:
"In the beginning, the spirit to revise the centuries-old Dutch colonial law was very welcomed by civil society. It started to go downhill last year when conservatism began to creep in and started being used as a political tool by some politicians."
Indonesia often sees this kind of political chest-thumping in the lead-up to flashpoint elections. The country is currently in election season, ahead of polls in June to elect regional governors. During election periods, political parties often take a more devout moral tone in an effort to demonstrate their religious piety. Yohanes Sulaiman, politics and security analyst and lecturer at Universitas Jenderal Achmad Yani, said the posturing around the criminal code was aimed at attracting the so-called religious voters.
This is reflected in one draft of the document dating from last year which has annotations by the different political parties. One example is the now infamous Article 484e, which would make sex between a man and a woman who aren't married illegal. On the annotated version of the proposed code, three of Indonesia's main political parties Golkar, PDIP, and Hanura call for the law to be deleted, labelling it "overcriminalisation" and saying that it "goes too far in controlling the private lives of Indonesian citizens".
Members of the House of Representatives also seem to be hedging their bets. While they have agreed to the new law that would make sex before marriage illegal, they have added a clause that would mean only parents, children, or a husband or wife could actually file a complaint, meaning that members of the general public would not be allowed to report unmarried couples to the authorities.
Although this concession waters down Article 484e, it also makes it nebulous. Under the revisions, an unmarried couple living together without their parents' blessing could be reported to the authorities and charged, while another couple could continue living together as long as no one reports them. What, then, is the point of having the law at all?
The new proposals are causing widespread concern. All the political parties have now stated publicly that they stand behind the new draft, in a strange reversal of their private viewpoints. Social media savvy Indonesians have rallied behind a hashtag #Saya juga bisa jadi korban, or "I, too, could become a victim". But it is hard to see how many of these laws can logically be enacted, given the size of the country; its mixed population and minority groups who are not Muslim; and its large numbers of expatriates and tourists.
To confuse matters even further, several high-profile figures, including the deputy head of the DPR, Fahri Hamzah, and DPR member Junimart Girsang, have spoken out against some articles in the new draft criminal code, citing worries that they could be used to persecute individuals. International pressure is also starting to mount, as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, on a visit to Indonesia last week, criticised sections of the draft law which relate to criminalising homosexuality. Indonesia's National Commission for Human Rights (HAM) has also called for revisions of the code to be postponed.
Perhaps this can offer some comfort to those who oppose the draft code. If this is simply an ill-conceived push to secure the religious vote ahead of the elections, then it could falter as the public backlash grows and members of Indonesia's political system begin to speak out.
While there is still reason to be circumspect, in Indonesia's political world of shifting sands, the specifics of the draft code and a firm deadline for its completion are not yet a foregone conclusion.
Ary Hermawan, Jakarta It is easy to go to jail in Indonesia. If you say anything wrong about someone's religion, you could go to jail. If you offend anyone on Twitter, you could go to jail.
Indonesia is no longer ruled by European overlords and the New Order regime was overthrown 20 years ago, so why do we still have to fear the state while doing harmless things?
In the past two decades, lawmakers have given the police too much power to control the people. A University Indonesia study has found that 156 laws containing 716 new crimes were passed between 1998 and 2014. That is around 40 new crimes per year.
The study, conducted by Indonesia Law Reform Institute cofounder Anugrah Rizki Akbari, concludes that Indonesia has an "overcriminalisation" problem, with hundreds of harmless activities having been classified as crimes.
Certainly there is nothing wrong with regulation. But it is a no-brainer that overregulation is a problem, not a solution, as it defeats the purpose of having a regulation in the first place, which is to create order, not chaos.
So, it is puzzling that the lawmakers are confident that the latest draft of the Criminal Code (KUHP) bill will not do more harm than good to Indonesians.
The bill introduces some new crimes by expanding the three most problematic provisions in the current penal code: defamation, blasphemy and morality.
The current defamation law is extremely harsh and ridiculously prone to abuse, with the police often used by powerful people to crush the weak using the law. Dozens of people have been sent to prison under the 2008 cyberlaw for simply expressing their opinions online.
Now lawmakers want to expand the defamation provision in the bill by reinstating the article on insulting the President, which was declared void by the Constitutional Court 12 years ago. The article, if approved, would carry a maximum punishment of five years' imprisonment.
A president, given the nature of the job, is naturally among the most maligned people on social media, not only in Indonesia but in most parts of the world.
As a national leader, it is natural for people to blame the president for the nation's ailments. But who can decide whether one's rant on social media is insulting to the President or not?
Indonesia's blasphemy law is even worse. It basically gives the majority the right to suppress the beliefs or opinions of the few.
As if one article was not enough of a problem, the lawmakers have added five new articles on blasphemy to the bill, stipulating new crimes against religion, religious leaders and houses of worship.
Thus one can go to jail for five years if found guilty of insulting religion on the web, preventing people from holding religious gatherings or for tainting, destroying or burning houses of worship.
Though some of these articles potentially protect minorities, they could still be used by some groups to pressure others and may serve as a double-edged sword for minorities. Lawmakers may also add an article criminalising people for insulting a leader of an ongoing religious ceremony.
The morality articles have been the most contentious during the bill's deliberation. The lawmakers have agreed to criminalise pre-marital sex and homosexuality, though some parties are still looking for ways to water down these clauses.
Other controversial provisions include criminalising a person for showing or demonstrating the use of contraceptives.
Lawmakers often argue that they aim to create order in society by regulating activities deemed as immoral or dangerous.
The bill, for instance, criminalises a person for claiming to possess black magic to harm others so that, the lawmakers argue, people will not take the law into their own hands and punish the alleged sorcerers through "mob justice".
It may seem logical but isn't the state supposed to protect everyone, regardless of whether they have superpowers or not, from violent mobs?
Instead of creating order, the new KUHP bill will produce the opposite for at least two reasons. First, the police are still widely seen as corrupt and incompetent.
While National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has made strides in improving the integrity and performance of the force, activists say the police still lack the capacity to judge if one defamation or blasphemy report is serious enough or worthy of a follow up.
The police do not want to admit that one reason some defamation cases make national or even global headlines is that the charges are so absurd (and therefore unfair and excessive) that people question the police's judgment.
Second, the articles in the bill, while intended to prevent mob justice, would instead give hardline groups a legal weapon to exert their power. They will not make hard-line and extremist groups irrelevant; they will only empower them.
It is only natural for religious people to want a sin-free neighborhood and be utterly upset if anyone insults their beliefs, and it is understandable for anyone, the President included, to want to be free from slander on social media.
But not all problems can be resolved by the state apparatus particularly with its limited resources and capacity. Morality and religious issues are personal and cannot easily be policed by the state.
The authorities will inevitably cherry-pick cases, and when they do they will usually spare the powerful and single out the weak. (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network)
Devandy Ario Putro LGBTI people have always existed in Indonesian culture and society long before the genesis of the nation itself.
The Bugis people in Sulawesi recognise five genders that maintain the balance of Mother Nature in accordance with their codex, Sureq Galigo. In Central Java, the tradition of the Lengger Lanang cross-gender dance still flourishes to this day. In Papua, some indigenous tribes have performed male-to-male sexual initiation as a coming-of-age tradition for thousands of years.
In recent years, however, as conservative religious groups gain prominence in the political arena, LGBTI rights are increasingly being violated by the Indonesian government, which enforces gender and sexual orientation norms on individuals through customs, laws and violence.
The recent wave of crackdowns began in 2016, when some conservative politicians began espousing inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric.
This is a new and frightening wave of intolerance against LGBTI people in what was once considered a fairly tolerant nation amidst rising Islamic extremism in the region.
In the Indonesian context, the human rights concept including the guarantee of LGBTI rights emerged from Pancasila, the Indonesian state philosophy developed by then President Sukarno in 1945.
In fact, the national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, translated as 'unity in diversity', declares the essential unity of all citizens regardless of ethnic, regional, social or religious differences.
In addition, the Yogyakarta Principles launched in 2007 by a group of 29 human rights experts to establish the application of international human rights law to sexual orientation and gender identity equality (SOGIE) declare that human beings of all sexual orientations and gender identities are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights.
In his speeches, current President Joko Widodo mentions Pancasila and human rights repeatedly, and often at the same time.
Jokowi stated that the government guarantees the right of everyone to express opinions or expression and to practice union or assembly, as long as it synchronous with Pancasila values.
Thus, while being homosexual is not illegal in Indonesia, the increased policing of sexuality, and the lack of sufficient protective laws in Indonesia, are both major forces behind increasing gender-based violence and gender inequality in the country.
In 2017, for example, two men in Indonesia's Aceh province were publicly flogged 83 times for having sex in their private room.
A few days later, Indonesian police raided two gay saunas in Jakarta and arrested 141 and 58 people, respectively, for attending what was described as a 'gay sex party'.
The people arrested were charged with pornography offences; while same-sex sexual relations are legal outside of Aceh and South Sumatra provinces, the government regularly twists extremely strict anti-pornography laws to persecute LGBTI people.
In October, the proposed broadcasting bill that will potentially ban LGBTI characters from national television was passed through the House of Representatives.
Nonetheless, in December of last year, the Indonesian Constitutional Court rejected a judicial review attempt to criminalise consensual extramarital and same-sex relationships in Indonesia.
The LGBTI community in Indonesia is thus technically protected by the law, but their reality is much different.
Other persistent forms of discrimination include harassment by health-care providers, difficulties in obtaining ID cards, and even rejection in the educational system.
Such systematic discrimination makes LGBTI individuals highly vulnerable to HIV infection and mental trauma, both of which can lead to high rates of suicide.
According to a survey conducted by the Wahid Foundation in mid-2016, the LGBTI community in Indonesia is a minority group entitled to protection, especially as this community is the most disliked minority group in the country (the survey reported that 26.1% of respondents said that they disliked LGBTI people).
Additionally, according to the Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law, exclusion acts that hinder LGBTI people from exploring and developing their true potential were estimated to cost the Indonesian economy up to $12 billion in 2016 alone.
To survive the onslaught of discrimination, the LGBTI movement in Indonesia needs to be able to help itself.
At the same time, the struggle for equality is not the sole responsibility of LGBTI people, but also of other persecuted local minority groups, feminists, and most importantly, allies in the straight community.
Intersectionality is key for the advancement of the LGBTI rights and the human rights movement in general, and these communities must initiate a dialogue.
The key is to educate people that the LGBTI concept is not a Western product nor construct, but has long been an integral part of Indonesian culture and society.
By opening a dialogue space, the LGBTI community can exercise their fundamental rights of freedom of expression and also educate people about the principle that it is not privilege nor special rights they seek to achieve, but equality before the law and to be regarded fully as human beings.
Through dialogue, we could also build an understanding that sexual orientation and gender identity and expression are not a disease that has to be cured.
Indonesia struggles to uphold LGBTI rights and many have suffered prejudice, persecution, and human rights offenses as a result.
In recent years, communities, artists and musicians, cultural centres, religious institutions and even the National Commission on Violence against Women in the country have collaborated to promote equality.
They have conducted book discussions, public lectures, and film festivals as a gesture of resilience and outreach to educate people on LGBTI issues.
Given the challenges that overshadow the movement, the LGBTI community should be prepared with protection and security measures.
As a community vulnerable to persecution from the authorities and the extreme far-right organisations, understanding the legal means to defend themselves, as well as security training whether offline or digital-based is necessary for the LGBTI community.
The expulsion of lesbian couples in Bogor by the authorities and the mob shows the importance of keeping hotline numbers of support organisations such as YLBHI (an Indonesian legal aid foundation) and Arus Pelangi (the Indonesian Federation of LGBTI communities).
After 72 years of independence, Indonesia still has a lot of work to do to liberate LGBTI people from structural discrimination and prejudice and to fulfil its dream of ideal nationhood.
It is now within the hands of young Indonesian LGBTI people and their allies to abolish homo-, bi-, and transphobia and to create a better future where the next generations will not have to go through the same struggles for equality as this generation is going through today.