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Indonesia News Digest 9 – March 1-7, 2018

West Papua Aceh Criminalisation & political violence Pki & anti-communism Women's rights & gender Labour & migrant workers Freedom of speech & expression Freedom of information & the press Political parties & elections Fake news & black campaigns Surveys & opinion polls Internet & social media Environment & natural disasters LBGT & same-sex marriage Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Freedom of religion & worship Poverty & social inequity Jakarta & urban life Transport & communication Retail & service industry Armed forces & defense Criminal justice & legal system Mining & energy Infrastructure & development Analysis & opinion

West Papua

Candidates vow to improve welfare in Papua

Jakarta Post - March 6, 2018

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jakarta – Papua gubernatorial candidates have promised to prioritize programs to improve the livelihood of Papuan people.

With fewer than four months left before regional elections are held, two gubernatorial candidate pairs stated on Tuesday their vision and mission in an event held at the Papua Legislative Council. Acting Papua governor Soedarmo attended the declaration.

Lukas Enembe and Klemen Tinal said they would continue to build upon programs they had initiated, claiming to have achieved targets set during their term, in which they disbursed more special autonomy funds to regencies and municipalities across the province.

"This is because Papuans are concentrated in regencies and municipalities," the pair said on Tuesday.

The two candidates promised to focus on the health and education sector should they be elected. Meanwhile, candidate pair John Wempi Wetipo and Hebel Melkias Suwae promised they would also focus their works to boost people's confidence and sovereignty in all aspects of life, as well as to build a clean administration.

Appreciating both candidate pair's campaigns, Soedarmo said every Papuan must maintain order and security during the election. Several surveys show Papua is among vulnerable regions in the 2018 simultaneous regional elections. (kuk/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/06/candidates-vow-to-improve-welfare-in-papua.html

Melanesian Spearhead Group spat about Indonesia spills over

Radio New Zealand International - March 6, 2018

Fiji has hit back at the deputy prime minister of Solomon Islands over criticism about the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Speaking in the Solomons parliament yesterday, Manasseh Sogavare said Fiji should apologise for bringing Indonesia into the MSG.

He said Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama breached MSG procedure by forcing the other four full members to accept Indonesia as part of the sub-regional grouping, whose full members are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and FLNKS Kanaks movement of New Caledonia.

Indonesia was admitted to the MSG with observer status in 2011 after Mr Bainimara assumed the MSG's rotational chairmanship.

"There was no consensus in the admission of Indonesia by member countries," claimed Mr Sogavare who wants Indonesian control of West Papua reviewed by the United Nations.

In 2015 Indonesia had its status in the group elevated. This remains a complicating factor as the MSG wrestles with the sensitive issue of a West Papuan membership bid.

However, in response, Fiji's Defence Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, who often represents Fiji at MSG summits, denied Mr Sogavare's claim that the MSG didn't reach consensus on the issue.

"I think he is either suffering from memory loss or trying to play politics with his own constituents," said Ratu Inoke.

"He has forgotten that it was during his term as chair of the MSG when Indonesia was admitted to the MSG as an associate member. All members of the MSG had agreed."

Mr Sogavare had chaired the 2015 meeting in Honiara where, according to Ratu Inoke, MSG leaders reached consensus about Indonesia's status in the group.

"I cannot really understand why he is making this statement, trying to put the blame on our prime minister, because all the (MSG) members agreed to admit Indonesia as an associate member," said the Fiji minister.

Following the 2015 summit, Mr Sogavare spoke of how bringing Indonesia into the fold had been polarising for MSG leaders.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua was itself granted observer status in the MSG in 2015, but its application for full membership continues to divide the five full members.

At their latest summit in Port Moresby last month, MSG leaders approved new clarifications on guidelines around membership in the group.

The Liberation Movement's application has been referred to the MSG secretariat for processing, but Fiji and Papua New Guinea have signalled they remain opposed to the pro-independence West Papuans being given full membership.

Of the other full members of the group, Vanuatu and the FLNKS appear firmly in support of the Papuan bid.

Solomon Islands had until recently also been strongly in support of giving West Papuans full membership in the MSG. But when Mr Sogavare was ousted as prime minister late last year, and replaced by Rick Hou, that support appeared to dim.

The position of PNG and Fiji on the West Papua membership issue had been "really clear", according to Ratu Inoke.

"And the new prime minister of Solomon Islands, in the last meeting in Port Moresby, about three weeks ago, he took a similar position," he said.

Mr Sogavare however remains a strong influence in government, and his stand on the Papua issue appears unlikely to diminish.

"Close association of Fiji with Indonesia is sabotaging the work of MSG and their membership in MSG is not political but economic interest," said Mr Sogavare.

Echoing recent statements by Vanuatu's government, Mr Sogavare said the MSG's founding aim of working to decolonise all Melanesian peoples was at risk.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/pacific/351948/melanesian-spearhead-group-spat-about-indonesia-spills-over

Papua report omissions frustrate NZ activist

Radio New Zealand International - March 5, 2018

A human rights activist has expressed frustration at omissions from reports by New Zealand diplomats about their visits to Indonesia's Papua region.

Maire Leadbeater has made a series of Official Information Act requests for reports about trips to Papua by New Zealand's Ambassador to Indonesia, Trevor Matheson and colleagues.

In 2016 and 2017, New Zealand diplomats in Indonesia made a number of visits to the troubled Papua region, also known as West Papua.

Ms Leadbeater said the reports she had received mention who they had met and what they had looked at in the visits, but specific material had been redacted out.

"When it comes to the really nitty-gritty stuff, like human rights issues, like issues to do with impunity for security forces, or things like political prisoners, or freedom of assembly, any of those sort of really critical things, the passages seem to be redacted out."

Maire Leadbeater said complaints to the Ombudsman about such reports being heavily redacted had not been successful.

She said New Zealand's apparent deferral to the priorities of its bi-lateral relationship with Indonesia's government meant it was overlooking the well-being of West Papuans.

"The fact that their (the Indonesian government's) voice is listened to isn't necessarily a good thing for the people of West Papua if it simply means we're listening to the voices of the established order.

"We need to be listening to other voices in West Papua," she said. "We need to be listening to those young people who currently can't even unfurl a banner or stand on the street to say what they want."

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/351762/papua-report-omissions-frustrate-nz-activist

Aceh

Shitty vigilantes in Aceh catch couple alone, dump sewage on them

Coconuts Jakarta - March 7, 2018

As the only province in Indonesia that is allowed to enact explicitly sharia-based laws, Aceh criminalizes everything from selling alcohol to homosexuality to adultery and even the simple act of two unmarried people of the opposite sex being too close to each other.

The local government and religious police encourage citizens to snoop on each other to report these crimes, leading to frequent acts of moral vigilantism.

But sometimes Aceh's self-appointed moral police aren't content with simply handing their victims over to the actual police. Recently, a video was spread on social media showing the disgusting punishment meted out by a leering crowd on a young couple in the Ingin Jaya subdistrict of Aceh Besar, supposedly after the two teenagers were caught alone in a house.

According to the post's caption, the dark viscous liquid being poured on the young couple in the video is comberan (raw sewage).

Ingin Jaya Police Chief Nazarul Fitra confirmed that the incident took place in the village of Kayee Lee on Monday afternoon after a group of youths raided the home of a 19-year-old identified as Ar and found him inside alone with his 18-year-old girlfriend, identified as H.

"The house is indeed the home of Ar. But it is not so clear what they were doing in the house," Nazarul told local Aceh news portal Beritakini.

What is clear is what happened afterwards, when the youths forced the couple out of the home and publicly shamed them as seen in the videos.

Nazarul said police immediately drove to the scene when they heard a report about the incident in order to secure the area. By that time, the couple had already been allowed to go to a river and wash off some of the sewage, as seen in one of the videos.

In order to "avoid undesirable things," police then detained the young couple (and not, of course, the vigilantes who assaulted them with sewage in public).

The case was then handed over to the Aceh Besar Police, who said they were still investigating the couple for possibly violating sharia law based on the testimony of witnesses (who, again, were the vigilantes that broke into Ar's house and assaulted the couple).

Depending on the outcome of that investigation, the young couple could potentially face further punishment, most likely in the form of public caning, which is the sentence usually handed down to sharia violators in Aceh.

Although we could not find any other reports of sewage used to publicly shame people in Aceh, similarly vile displays have been done by actual law enforcement officers there. In late January, Sharia police detained and shamed 12 transgender women by cutting their hair and forcing them to wear men's clothes.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/shitty-vigilantes-aceh-catch-young-couple-house-alone-dump-sewage-public-shaming-video/

Criminalisation & political violence

Student activist criminalised for fighting against polluting

Tirto - March 6, 2018

Hendra Friana – "I was handcuffed and forced into a vehicle, and all before being shown an arrest warrant".

22-year-old Muhammad Hisbun Payu related this story to Tirto by phone from the Central Java police headquarters (Mapolda) on Monday March 5.

Is, as he is know by his friends, is a student activist from the leftist Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (Pembebasan) who has been protesting against the PT Rayon Utama Makmur (RUM) factory in Sukoharjo, Central Java.

Since October last year, Is, along with hundreds of local people, have been calling on the Sukoharjo regency government (Pamkab) to revoke PT RUM's environmental permit because it has been emitting a foul smelling waste which has inundated villages in the vicinity.

Is was arrested on Sunday evening, March 4, as he was about to buy cigarettes from an Alfamidi minimarket near his place of residence in the Lenteng Agung area of South Jakarta.

Is had arrived in Jakarta that day with the intention of reporting the problems faced by people around the factory to the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM).

He had already gathered together a pile of documents ranging from the results of an independent investigation to reports of intimidation by security personnel against local residents. He was taken into custody however before he could reach Komnas HAM.

Syahrul Yakub, a friend who accompanied Is when he was buying the cigarettes, tried to stop the eight police officers from arresting him but in vein. He then returned to his boarding house and related what had happened to his friends.

A short time later, five police officers brought Is to the boarding house to collect his things. When his friends asked to be allowed to accompany him the police refused.

From Jakarta he was taken to the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang in a black Suzuki car. "In the car [taking me] there were four police officers. In another car, a black Honda Civic if I'm not mistaken, there were four other police officers", he said.

When contacted at 9am, the police transporting Is told Tirto that they were approaching Semarang and he would soon be questioned at the Central Java police headquarters.

Ivan Wagner, a legal defender from the Semarang Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) said that as of Monday evening, police had still not questioned Is.

Criminalised for his activism

His arrest began with a chaotic protest by local residents in front of the PT RUM factory which ended in a security post being burnt down on February 23. Residents also blockaded the factory and set fire to tyres because they were angry with Sukoharjo Regent Wardoyo Wijaya.

Local people had already held protests in front of the factory on October 26 and November 30 last year. On January 19 they held a demonstration at the Sukoharjo Regional House of Representatives (DPRD).

About a month later on February 22, another action was held at the Sukoharjo regent's office. The protesters were angered because the regent had failed to issue a letter ordering the factory to halt operations and instead read out a joint statement by PT RUM and the Sukoharjo Regional Consultative Council (Muspida).

Despite this, said Is, residents urged Wardoyo Wijaya to issue an order halting the factory's operations totally or temporarily and revoke its environmental permit. The response to this was a pledge that the order would be issued on February 23 after constitution by the Sukoharjo regency government.

Residents then took a decision to sleep over in front of the factory while they waited for the order to be issued. On the promised day however, the order had still not been signed and Wijaya instead departed to attend a national working meeting of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in Bali.

"Now, it was this that in the end made residents in front of the factory so disappointed. They were angry, and spontaneously vandalised [the factory]", said Is.

The Muhammadiyah University student denies that he provoked residents into doing this. He says that he only arrived at the location at around 2pm, long after the chaos had erupted in front of the factory.

"When I arrived the factory was already damaged, all kinds of blockades had been setup. The factory's security post had been torched, I don't know who set fire to it", he said.

He was in fact intending to report the police officers who had acted violently during the resident's protest in front of the factory. "We recorded it, one of our friends was kicked by police", said Is.

In addition to Is, two other local residents who police allege were involved in the vandalism are als being detained at the Central Java Mapolda.

Sutarno Ari Suwarno, a lawyer from the Sukoharjo Social Forum for Environmental Concern (FMPL) said that one of the two is a resident of Jumapolo, Karanganyar sub-district, and the second a resident of the Plesan Village, Nguter sub-district. They have been charged under Article 170 Paragraph 1 and Article 187 Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Criminal Code (KUHP).

Suwarno also said that the resident's vandalism and torching of the security post on February 23 was spontaneous and un-coordinated.

"It was a spontaneous act by local residents. The way it was, was at the time me and several representatives were summoned by intelkam [intelligence and security]. We were discussing the issue of the order to halt factory operations", he said.

After the order to halt operations was finished, said Suwarno, "Me and several friends went back to the residents and told them that the order has been signed. The date was signed. Only after that did the resident's anger subside".

Foul smell, illness

Suwarno explained that the air pollution as a result of waste from the PT MUR factory had been a problem since the factory began operations in October last year.

Since then residents had protested continuously to the regional government and called for an audit of the waste being produced by the synthetic cotton processing plant.

"We had repeated audiences, we went to the Environmental Office, even to the Presidential Staff Office (KSP). In January the KSP sent a team there which declared that PT MUR had committed violations", he said.

Three days later, a 10-month-old baby named Arbani Shakeel Alfatih in Dukuh Jayan, Celep Village, Nguter, died as a result of the air pollution. "Ever since they were born they did indeed have lung problems, but because of the air pollution it become chronic and they eventually died", said Suwarno.

In mid-February, the Sukoharjo Muhammadiyah PKU Hospital conducted a health check on pollution in the Gedonginong village. "The results were that the waste was above the allowed limit and the most of the sick were suffering from acute respiratory infections (ISPA). There were 35 people with severe ISPA and more than one hundred with mild ISPA", he said.

The results of an analysis by a Muhammadiyah independent investigative team obtained by Tirto showed that two out of three parameters for liquid waste from PT RUM exceeded the allowed limit, namely Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD). One other parameter which was below the allowed limit was the liquid waste PH.

The head of the independent team, Wiwoho Aji Santoso, said that the research results were forwarded to the Sukoharjo DPRD on February 19. Since then however, there has been no concrete action taken by the government to halt the factory's operations. "We forwarded all of the research results to the DPRD, in detail", he said.

Government response

Sukoharjo regency Environmental Office chief Djoko Sutarto said that the government has issued administrative sanctions against the factory ordering a temporary halt to operations.

"Not closed down. If it was closed down there wouldn't be any activities. Yes, just production", he told Tirto.

PT RUM has been ordered to address three conditions if it wants to resume operations including conducting continuous emission monitoring, controlling the emissions causing the foul smell and resolving the liquid waste entering the Bengawan Solo river.

"We have given them a time frame of 18 months at the latest. But if it's resolved in two months, they can start operations again", he said.

Sutarto that on February 22 the PT RUM management genuinely tried to resolve the waste problem without an order from the regent but residents were dissatisfied and asked for the factory to be closed down.

"I can't be closed down. Later if they can't fulfill the requirements there will be more sanctions. It can't just be closed down immediately. There are legislative stipulations right", he said.

He also refuted the findings of the Muhammadiyah investigation team on waste levels saying that the foul smell from the factory waste was not why hundreds of local residents are suffering ISPA.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "Kisah Is, Dikriminalisasi karena Melawan Pabrik Kapas Sintetis".]

Source: https://tirto.id/kisah-is-dikriminalisasi-karena-melawan-pabrik-kapas-sintetis-cFHX

Central java police arrest activist involved in PT RUM vandalism

Tempo - March 5, 2018

Fitria Rahmawati, Jakarta – The Central Java Police released a statement confirming that they had apprehended three individuals involved in a protest launched against PT Rayon Utama Makmur (RUM) on February 22. Police alleged that they vandalized the company's property.

"Three were arrested. They vandalized PT RUM's facilities. We have the evidence to arrest them," Adj. Sr. Comm. Nanang Haryanto, the head of the Central Java Police's Crime and Violence Unit, said on Monday, March 5.

The three protestors with the initials of M, S, and K were apprehended in two separate locations. Both S and K were arrested in the District of Sukoharjo. Meanwhile, M, who is an environmental activist and Surakarta Muhammadiyah University student, was arrested in South Jakarta.

The three were arrested based on by photograph and video footages, as well as witness testimonies. The suspects allegedly violated Article 170 of the Criminal Code on vandalism.

"We are still questioning them. But there is a possibility that other actors were involved in this case," said Nanang.

Based on Tempo's observation, several activists from the Student Struggle Center for National Liberation of Semarang and Yogyakarta are still waiting outside of the Central Java Police's General Criminal Investigation Directorate.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/05/055916314/Central-Java-Police-Arrest-Activist-involved-in-PT-RUM-Vandalism

Environmental activist arrested after villagers burn down factory

Tirto - March 5, 2018

Hendra Friana – Muhammad Hisbun Payu (Is), an environmental activist from Sukoharjo in Central Java, was arrested by police in front of the Alfamidi minimarket in the Lenteng Agung area of South Jakarta on Sunday March 4.

A 11.15pm, eight police officers who claimed to be from the East Java regional police (Polda Jateng), escorted Hisbun into a white Avanza car then transferred him to a police vehicle with number plates AB 1747.

When contacted by Tirto, Bowo, one of the police officers who arrested Hisbun, confirmed the arrest. Bowo said that Hisbun had already been delivered to the Central Java police headquarters (Mapolda) and would soon undergo questioning.

"He's already been taken to Polda Jateng. For further information please enquire at the Mapolda Jateng", said Bowo when contacted by Tirto on Monday March 5.

Ivan Wagner, a Semarang Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) public defender is assisting Hisbun. He said that Hisbun and two others were arrested and declared suspects on charges of vandalising the PT Rayon Utama Makmur (RUM) factory in Sukoharjo, Central Java, on February 24.

The Sukoharjo police issued the arrest warrants for the three for allegedly violating Article 170 Paragraph 1 and Article 187 Paragraphs 1 and 2.

"Based on the arrest warrant, it cites clauses from Article 170 (1) on vandalism and Article 187 (1 and 2) on arson, the two articles carry a sentence of 12 and 15 years in jail respectively", said Wagner.

The PT Rayon Utama Makmur was burnt down by local people angered over processed rayon fiber waste causing air pollution in villages surrounding the factory. They had been demonstrating in front of the factory since January 19. (hen/rat)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Polisi Tangkap Aktivis Lingkungan Solo Atas Dugaan Perusakan Pabrik".]

Source: https://tirto.id/polisi-tangkap-aktivis-lingkungan-solo-atas-dugaan-perusakan-pabrik-cFFm

Pki & anti-communism

Being linked to PKI, Jokowi: I could not hold my anger

Tempo - March 7, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has said that there is no under-five year old child who is a communist. The President made the statement when complaining about social media reports linking him to the defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

"I could not hold my anger but I can hardly do anything about it," the president said here on Tuesday.

The president said libels and allegations have been repeatedly issued against him that linked him to PKI, which was already banned in 1965 following aborted coup attempt.

"Where is the logic. I was born in 1961 that means I was only 4 years at that time. Could a 4-year old child be involved in PKI rebellion?" Jokowi said when distributing farmland certificates in Sentul, Babakan Madang, Bogor, West Java.

The allegation is entirely baseless and no one with logic would believe that a child below five years old was a member of PKI, he added.

He asked the people to use logic and not easily provoked when hearing information especially from unknown sources. Unfortunately many people are easily convinced by hoaxes as they did not bother to think and use logic, he said.

Reports about hoaxes, libels and sensitive race, religious faiths and ethnic issues were rampant apparently to create instability ahead of the regional elections in June this year.

The country will hold 171 regional elections for new governors, regent and mayors in June 2018 to be followed with legslative and presidential elections in 2019.

"We should not be set against each other ahead of the party of democracy to elect new regent/city mayors, governors and president. We are all brothers in a nation and a country," Jokowi said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/07/055916367/Being-Linked-to-PKI-Jokowi-I-Could-Not-Hold-My-Anger

Communism discussion ends in chaos over declaration that PKI no

Coconuts Jakarta - March 7, 2018

The existence of the long banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) still remains a highly controversial political topic more than 50 years after the country's bloody anti-communist purge.

Hoax spreaders have been arrested in recent weeks for sharing fake news about PKI members killing Muslim clerics and just yesterday a fight broke out at a discussion on communism after the organizers read a declaration stating the PKI did not exist and the issue was being politicized.

The discussion, entitled "The Issue of the Reawakening of the PKI: Reality or Propaganda" took place yesterday at the Grand Sahid Jakarta and was organized by the Indonesian Youth Caucus (KMI). The discussion was supposed to be a rational examination of the evidence surrounding the PKI issue, the rumors of the banned party's resurgence and whether the issue was being used for political gain.

Speakers from both sides of the issue were invited to talk at the discussion. Experts from groups such as the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) spoke about the impossibility of a PKI reawakening in the modern age and how the current rumors were fueled by hoaxes, while far right figures such as writer Taufik Ismail and former general Kivlan Zein discussed in vague terms a "new style" of communism that had infiltrated the government.

But the discussion got derailed after an announcer said he was about to start reading a declaration titled 'Stop Exploiting the Issue of the PKI Reawakening', which stated that there was no evidence that the communist party still existed and that the rumors of its existence were based on fake news.

According to media reports, that's when many of the discussion's participants became upset as no such declaration had been included in the event's agenda. Some of the participants were from groups that flatly disagreed with the declaration, while others feared that simply being associated with it could be used to attack them as being pro-PKI. This led to many asking that their names be stricken from the list of participants at the discussion.

The secretary general of KMI, Andi Ulah, said that the declaration was meant to help dispel the fake news about the PKI that had been spread on social media.

"Actually, we did want a declaration with the goal of moving the issue forward on social media, we wanted to prevent (the issue of PKI) being used as a divisive issue," Andi said as quoted by Tempo.

The declaration also allegedly included allegations that the PKI issue was being used as a political tool by certain parties such as PKS, Gerindra, and PAN, which some participants objected to as well.

After the shouting and arguments died down the discussion dispersed. In the aftermath, the head of the Anti-Communism Youth Movement (GEPAK) said his group would report the event's organizers to the police for violating Indonesia's laws banning the propagation of communist ideologies.

"We will report this activity because it was blatantly (a communist) event, the law does not allow for communist activities to take place openly in Indonesia, and they have violated that," GEPAK chairperson Rahmat Himran told CNN Indonesia yesterday.

Over the last few weeks, the Indonesian Police have arrested several people accused of being members of the Muslim Cyber Army, a loosely-knit online organization that allegedly created and disseminated a wide variety of hoax news stories, including many pertaining to the PKI and their killing of Islamic scholars.

There is no credible evidence that the PKI exists in any shape or form in modern Indonesia. But decades of anti-communist propaganda under Suharto's New Order regime has allowed conspiracy theories about secret PKI plots to flourish even today. Hoax spreaders have often accused President Joko Widodo of secretly being a member of the PKI, despite the fact that he was only 4 years old when the party was banned in 1965.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/watch-discussion-communism-ends-chaos-declaration-pki-no-longer-exist/

PKI revival propaganda being intentionally 'blown up' in lead up to

CNN Indonesia - March 7, 2018

Priska Sari Pratiwi, Jakarta – The issue of the alleged revival of the Indonesian Communism Party (PKI) has again reared its head with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo yet again being hit by allegations.

During a break on the distribution of land certificates in Sentul, West Java, on Tuesday March 6, Widodo said he was confused by the slander being spread. The former Jakarta governor said that he is surprised that the issue of the PKI is still being used to this day.

Yet the PKI was dissolved in 1965, while Widodo was born in 1961. Meaning he experienced the PKI era when he was less than five years old, an infant.

On the same day a discussion in Jakarta under the theme "The Revival of the PKI: Reality or Propaganda", which was organised by the Indonesian Youth Caucus (KMI), ended in chaos.

The chaos began when one of the speakers announced that they would soon begin the reading out of a declaration titled "Stop Exploiting the Revival of the PKI Issue".

Several people attending the discussion also protested on the grounds that the declaration was not included in the agenda on the invitations they received.

Political observer Arie Sudjito from the Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta believes that the PKI revival issue is being completely fabricated. According to Sudjito, the issue has been intentionally revived in order to create unrest in society.

"This issue is indeed being intentionally blown up, yes of course because it's a political year, there are irresponsible parties throwing this issue around", Sudjito told CNN Indonesia on Wednesday March 7.

Sudjito said that the PKI revival issue is actually no longer relevant. Right now the more important issues that need to be addressed are poverty, corruption, social inequality and creating development.

Sudjito predicts that the issue will continue to be 'cooked over' until the presidential elections in 2019.

He is convinced however that the public is too intelligent to be caught up any more in the PKI revival issue. He also suggests that Jokowi does not need to respond any further to it.

"It would be better if Pak Jokowi doesn't respond. If he reacts excessively those provoking it will in fact be happy. Yet they (the PKI) don't exist anymore", said Sudjito. (DAL/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Isu Kebangkitan PKI Sengaja Ditiupkan di Tahun Politik".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20180307102916-20-281042/isu-kebangkitan-pki-sengaja-ditiupkan-di-tahun-politik

Former general tells PKI discussion that President's ruling party

Republika - March 7, 2018

Muhyiddin, Jakarta – Activist and writer Taufik Ismail says that although the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) no longer exists in Indonesia it is currently starting to be revived in order to take revenge for the defeat of the PKI in 1965.

"If we talk about the PKI, indeed the PKI does not exist. But the PKI is currently being revived and its name is New Style Communism (KGB)", said Ismail during a discussion on the theme "The Revival of the PKI: Reality or Propaganda", which was held in Jakarta on Tuesday March 6.

Also speaking at the discussion, which attracted tight security from the police and the TNI (Indonesian military), was retired army general Kivlan Zen.

Ismail underlined what had been explained by Zen earlier in the discussion when he referred to the KGB, saying this is the PKI that is being revived.

"I want to underline what was conveyed by Pak Kivlan Zen, namely about the problem of the KGB wanting to take revenge, the New Style Communists. The KGB is the PKI that is being revived", he said.

Meanwhile Zen himself revealed that the revival of the PKI is a fact, not propaganda. Moreover, he said, the PKI's ideology has infiltrated all spheres of life including the political parties.

"It's true, currently they are trying to infiltrate all spheres of life, inside the political parties, most of all the PDI-P [President Joko Widodo's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle]. I have the data, it's not a lie", said Zen during the discussion.

According to Zen, in 2015 the PDI-P even sent leading party members to the meet with the Chinese Communist Party in order to study political science and the recruitment of cadre. Because of this therefore, Zen hopes that the PDI-P will remove those people in the party who are alleged to have a communist ideology.

"But the PDI-P is doing just the opposite, attracting people like Eva Kusuma Sundari, Rieke Dyah Pitaloka and Budiman Sudjatmiko. She wrote that book right, don't allow them in as leaders any more. It is remarks like this which indicate that PDI-P people are close to communism. So we hope that as a party based on Pancasila [the state ideology] and nationalism [they will expel them]", said Zen.

And it is not just the PDI-P he added, other parties such as the National Democrats (Nasdem) and the Golkar Party have also sent their cadres to China to be recruited as communists.

"Those that have sent people to China for training were Golkar, Nasdem they also sent people there for training. So it is clear that it's not just the PDI-P, but Golkar and Nasdem have been giving their cadre to China", he explained.

Notes

Eva Kusuma Sundari has been a consistent campaigner for religious freedom, women's rights and against right-wing and fundamentalist vigilante groups. Rieke Dyah Pitaloka has likewise campaigned for the rights of women, migrant workers and trade unions. Budiman Sudjatmiko is the former chairperson of the leftist People's Democratic Party (PRD) who was jailed under the Suharto dictatorship. In 2002 PDI-P legislator Ribka Tjiptaning published a memoir titled "I'm proud to be the daughter of a PKI member" (Aku Bangga Jadi Anak PKI).

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Taufik Ismail: PKI Memang Sudah tidak Ada, tapi PKI Bangkit".]

Source: http://www.republika.co.id/berita/nasional/umum/18/03/07/p56kpr396-taufik-ismail-pki-memang-sudah-tidak-ada-tapi-pki-bangkit

Anti-communist group to report organisers of discussion on PKI

CNN Indonesia - March 6, 2018

Dias Saraswati, Jakarta – The Anti-Communist Youth Movement (GEPAK) plans to report the organising committee of a recent discussion titled "The Revival of the PKI: Reality or Propaganda" to police.

GEPAK chairperson Rahmat Himran said that they will report the Indonesian Youth Caucus (KMI), which organised the discussion on March 6, to police because they allegedly violated the law.

"We will report this activity [to the police] because they held the event openly, and the law states that openly communist activities are not allowed to be held in Indonesia, it was a violation", said Himran at the Grand Said Hotel in Jakarta on Tuesday March 6.

GEPAK's legal attorney Jujur Purwantoro said that the organising committee had made statements during the discussion that were one sided.

The statements referred to by Purwantoro included saying that reports on the revival of communism are hoaxes or fake news and that the communist issue is being used as a commodity by political parties.

"Gerindra [Prabowo Subianto's Greater Indonesia Movement Party], the PKS [the Islamic based Justice and Prosperity Party], PAN [the National Mandate Party, also Islamic based] were cited, now, this is very one sided, and greatly damages public trust [in them]", said Purwantoro.

"Actually communism in Indonesia is banned but in fact [they] were propagandising it and were in fact one sided, it was they who were propagandising", he added.

Conversely, KMI Jakarta secretary general Andi Ullah said that the aim of the discussion was to take up various issues or reports circulating in social media about the revival of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

They had hoped that the discussion could prevent the PKI revival issue from becoming a political commodity, particularly in the lead up to regional and presidential elections.

In relation to the declaration on "Stop Reviving the PKI Issue", Ullah claims he doesn't really know about it and stated that it was not part of the organising committee's agenda.

Ullah did however reveal that the declaration was indeed agreed to by the committee. "Yes (the declaration was agreed to)", said Ullah.

Ullah said that the focus of the declaration was to straighten out issues that are not necessarily true in society, particularly about the revival of the PKI. "Actually so it won't get too noisy, above all get used for political interests", he said.

So far no comment has been able to be obtained from the organising committee itself.

The discussion ended in chaos after the moderator announced that they would soon read out a declaration titled "Stop Exploiting the PKI Revival Issue".

A number of people attending the discussion immediacy lodged a protest on the grounds that the declaration was not included on the agenda in the invitations that they had received. (wis)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Penolak Deklarasi 'Stop Isu PKI' akan Polisikan Panitia Acara".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20180306202717-20-280946/penolak-deklarasi-stop-isu-pki-akan-polisikan-panitia-acara

Gatot Nurmantyo responds to PKI awakening issue

Tempo - March 3, 2018

Caesar Akbar, Jakarta – Former TNI Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo held dialogue with the congregation of Al-Azhar Grand Mosque, South Jakarta. One of the questions was the truth about the issue of the awakening of the Indonesia Communist Party (PKI).

Upon the question, Gatot also warned about the danger of the PKI. He said the party bearing a sickle and hammer is indicated by some statements and attitudes that appear in the community.

"The PKI is living like a demon, invisible," Gatot said in front of the congregation of Al-Azhar Grand Mosque, South Jakarta, on Saturday, March 3. That is why Gatot was intrigued and finally decided to hold the G30S PKI movie screening some time ago.

According to the former TNI commander, children who grew up in post-reformation era have not learned a lesson about the G30S PKI rebellion. In fact, he was told that the son of one of his staffs who went to college had once asked about PKI leader DN Aidit.

In contrast to the opinion of Gatot Nurmantyo, the results of the survey of Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) released on 28 September 2017, showed 86.8 percent of respondents did not believe on the issue of the PKI awakening.

The survey was conducted using multistage random sampling method with 1,057 respondents. The survey also used a margin of error of approximately 3.1 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/03/055916269/Gatot-Nurmantyo-Responds-to-PKI-Awakening-Issue

Women's rights & gender

Rights activists concerned with lack of safe public areas for women

Jakarta Post - March 5, 2018

Aman Rochman, Malang, East Java – A lack of safe public spaces for women was among issues highlighted by dozens of women's rights activists taking part in a march held to mark International Women's Day at the Malang Monument Square in East Java on Monday.

Rally coordinator Maryam Jameelah said that during the event, activists had called on local administrations to play greater roles to ensure the safety and security of women who used public facilities.

"Public areas must be supported by adequate street lighting for the sake of women's safety," she said. Maryam said marches were held in 12 cities across Indonesia to mark Women's Day.

They were Bandung in West Java, Denpasar in Bali, Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Lampung, Malang in East Java, Pontianak in West Kalimantan, Salatiga in East Java, Serang in Banteng, Sumba in NTT, Surabaya in East Java, Tondano in North Sulawesi and Yogyakarta.

"Policies on women's protection are different in each area," said Maryam.

Malang Women Crisis Center (WCC) coordinator Sri Wahyuni said the prevalence of sexual harassment and violence against women in Malang was high.

From January to March, the WCC Malang received 21 reports of sexual harassment and violence against women, which occurred both in domestic and public spheres.

"Public spaces are not safe for women. Local administrations must improve facilities so women can be more comfortable and safer in carrying out activities in public," said Sri. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/05/rights-activists-concerned-with-lack-of-safe-public-areas-for-women.html

Feminists to escalate the battle for equality at 2nd Jakarta

Coconuts Jakarta - March 4, 2018

In the one year since the first Jakarta Women's March on March 4, 2017, there has been both heartening progress and disturbing setbacks in the field of women's rights in Indonesia.

We talked to some of the country's leading feminist voices, including the organizers of last and this year's rally, as well as former First Lady Sinta Nuriyah Wahid, in the lead-up to the 2nd Jakarta's Women's March on March 3, to hear what they had to say about the state of women's rights in Indonesia today.

Openly declaring yourself a feminist in Indonesia is rarely easy. Although there have been many here fighting for women's rights since before the nation's founding, "feminism", as a term, is still framed as a suspicious cultural import from the West that is fundamentally incompatible with traditional Indonesian values (putting it in the same category as other ideas scorned by many Indonesians, like LGBT rights or even communism).

So while feminists in the West have been wearing 'pussyhat' beanies and proudly declaring 'this is what a feminist looks like' without much fear of reprisal, in Indonesia that kind of bold symbolic embrace of female autonomy could make you a target, in more ways than one.

But on March 3, ahead of International Women's Day, the second-ever Jakarta Women's March will embrace strength in numbers, with the hope of drawing out around 2,000 feminists to march through the heart of the capital.

Kerri na Basaria, the head of the 2018 organizing committee, knows that feminism faces many challenges here, but is determined to fight for the cause. She explains that last year's march drew a crowd of around 800 and they're estimating to at least double this time round.

"There are a lot of young women, and young men as well, who are up-and-coming [feminist activists]... a lot of [people] are very much aware of the situation," the 26-year-old said.

In its inaugural year, the march followed in the footsteps of the Womens March protests; a reaction to the election of US President Donald Trump, which then spread worldwide.

The committee has since regrouped and aims to expand on last year's success by bringing feminism to a broader audience.

"Last year was more of a realization that we've been too negligent about resistance," she said, describing the state of women's rights here as simply "abysmal. This year is us, actively fighting for it."

The movement isn't just restricted to the capital either. Marches are being organised in 12 other cities across the archipelago, from Salatiga to Serang.

There is no doubt that the global trend towards increasing awareness of women's issues, such as the #MeToo movement, has helped rally more and more Indonesian women to the cause.

Indeed, in recent months there seems to have been a marked increase in the number of young women reporting sexual harassment and assault, something they might not have done before due to shame, cultural taboos and the likelihood of victim-blaming.

But while progress is certainly being made on many fronts, women's rights activists here face some staggering statistics. In some areas of East Java, half of all girls are married before 18. More than 41% of Indonesian women have reported experiencing some form of physical, social, economic and/or emotional violence. An estimated 60 million women have undergone female genital mutilation.

Kate Walton, an Australian activist who has been working in the area of women's rights in Indonesia for several years and founded the Jakarta Feminist Discussion Group, believes key areas to address are in women's health and livelihood.

Her project Menghitung Pembunuhan Perempuan (Counting Dead Women) works to document violence against women nationwide. In 2017, it counted 173 women murdered. Almost half were killed by their current or former intimate partners, and 98% of the murders were perpetrated by men.

Initial data analysis for 2017 for Menghitung Pembunuhan Perempuan, my project which counts murdered women in Indonesia: 173 women were killed in 2017. 71 (41%) were killed by current/former intimate partners. 35 (20%) were 18 or under. Only 4 (2%) were killed by other women. – Kate Walton (@waltonkate) January 16, 2018

Beyond the disturbing data, feminism faces a hurdle more difficult to quantify but equally daunting: a general sense that conservatism, fundamentalism and nationalism are all on the rise and all aimed at preserving the patriarchal status quo.

Walton said the growing influence, both politically and culturally, of hardline religious fundamentalist groups is the main challenge towards achieving more for women's rights in Indonesia.

Indeed, the growing influence of Islamist hardliners like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the recently outlawed Hizbut Tahrir have reshaped much of the country's political landscape. Last year, a hardliner smear campaign against the Christian former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, ended with him losing the election and being jailed for blasphemy.

Former First Lady Sinta Nuriyah, the widow of former President Abdurrahman Wahid, has degrees in both Sharia law and women's studies and is considered one of the country's greatest champions of women's rights and plurality. Sinta Nuriyah in her Jakarta home.

Sinta says those who use the Quran to discredit feminism as a Western idea that is incompatible with Islam are just plain wrong.

"These [radical groups] misuse religious texts and teachings to say that women should only be at home; doing housework; chores; and taking care of their husbands and children," she said.

The former first lady said that the Quran promotes equality between men and women and that it is not the holy book's verses, but how they have been interpreted, that has held back women's rights. She said modern reinterpretations of Quranic verses are needed to once again emphasize Islam's inherently moderate and feminist ideals.

Feminists argue there are also many misconceptions about what feminism actually is, leading to the stigmatization of those who openly identify with it.

Olin Monteiro, organizer of last year's march and a veteran activist, said that religious fundamentalist and nationalist groups denounce feminism as a 'Western' and 'liberal' ideology in order to curb its influence.

But she argues feminism has roots in Indonesian that stretch back long before contact with the West. "In Indonesia, we have a lot of strong female heroes [many of whom] have not yet been mentioned by our history, or by any publication."

"That is feminism, feminism is the idea of making sure women's voices are heard in society, and that women's positions are equal to men in any sector of life," said Monteiro. "I think we actually have to return to that kind of 'archipelago feminism'."

It's unlikely that Indonesia's feminists will be able to clear all of the hurdles they face today, such as changing perceptions and challenging conservatism, anytime in the near future.

But this year's march will be a good indicator of the movement's potential to keep the fight going and grow stronger. A larger turnout of young participants, as the organizers hope for, will indicate a future generation of activists ready to battle for the cause.

Right now, the future remains unwritten for feminism in Indonesia. It will be today's youth that writes it.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/features/indonesias-feminists-ready-escalate-battle-equality-2nd-jakarta-womens-march/

Women's March in Bandung takes up gender based injustice

Tribune - March 4, 2018

Putri Puspita, Bandung – In welcoming International Women's Day (IWD) which falls on March 8, a number of different communities in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung have taken part in the Women's March action.

The theme taken up by the Bandung Women's march was "Gender Based Injustice". Bandung Women's March committee member Bunga said that the rally was not just held as a commemoration of the women's struggle.

"Our aim in organising the Women's March is to increase the public's level of awareness, understanding and empathy, about the importance of fighting against gender based injustice", said Bunga when speaking to Tribune West Java at Dago Car Free Day on Sunday March 4.

The Women's March 2018 took up five main demands related to what is happening in Indonesia, namely:

1. Underage marriage

Currently, Indonesia is in second place as the country with the highest level of underage marriage in South East Asia. Two out of three underage marriages end in divorce. Cases of underage marriage almost entirely close off women's access to education, healthcare, economic opportunities and the sense of security from marriage.

2. Violence in marriage

A 2016 National Women's Life Experience Survey (SPHPN) showed that one in three women aged 15-64 years experienced physical and sexual violence by their partner or others. As many as 259,150 cases of violence against women were reported and dealt with in 2016.

3. Discrimination against women

Many women experience discrimination including wage disparities, limited opportunities, stigma and problems obtaining menstrual and maternity leave.

4. Women workers and human trafficking

Based on data from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for 2015, Indonesia was first place in the world for cases of human trafficking with a total of 6,651 cases recorded. The province of West Java was the worst region for human trafficking with 2,151 cases.

5. Expanding the adultery articles in the RKUHP

The draft Criminal Code (RKUHP) has the potential to criminalise women, particularly victims of sexual violence. If enacted, the RKUHP could result in the jailing of rape victims, couples in marriages that are not officially registered with the state and those carrying out campaigns on reproductive health (*)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Women's March Bandung Angkat Isu Ketidakadilan Berbasis Gender".]

Source: http://jabar.tribunnews.com/2018/03/04/womens-march-bandung-angkat-isu-ketidakadilan-berbasis-gender

Women's March in Bali says 'keeping silent will not protect you'

Tribune Bali - March 4, 2018

Denpasar – "Women united can never be defeated, the women's movement cannot be stopped".

This was what was shouted by protesters in the Bali Women's March under the hash tag #lawanbersama (Fighting Together) during a rally on Car Free Day in the Balinese provincial capital of Denpasar on Sunday morning March 4.

Before starting the action, the protesters gathered at the Renon Square eastern parking area at around 7am. After all the participants had arrived, they began the action with a long-march around the Renon Puputan Square.

Carrying banners and posters they shouted demands related to women's rights and gender equality. They also highlighted the problems with the Draft Criminal Code (RKUHP) which they said would make the public venerable to criminalisation.

This issue was also reflected in posters which read, "The RKUHP is wreaking havoc", "Keeping silent will not protect you", "#akujuga (me too), "#meToo", "#STOPpelecehan (STOP sexual harassment)" and "#tolakRKHUPngawut (Reject the reckless RKUHP)".

In addition to this, they also brought posters demanding women's rights and gender equality reading: "Don't make your wife a domestic servant", "Women need to go to school, not get married", "It's not my clothing that's pornographic, but your brain" and "It's crazy right, my crutch has become a state affair".

After holding the long-march, they held speeches at the Say Anything Free Speech Podium (PB3AS). (*)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "'RKHUP' Ngae Benyah, Begini Aksi Women's March Tuntut Hak Perempuan di Car Free Day Renon".]

Source: http://bali.tribunnews.com/2018/03/04/rkhup-ngae-benyah-begini-aksi-womens-march-tuntuk-hak-perempuan-di-car-free-day-renon

Women's March in Surabaya highlights discrimination against women

Detik News - March 4, 2018

Hilda Meilisa Rinanda, Surabaya – Women's rights activists held a Women's March on Car Free Day at the Bungkul Park in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya on Sunday March 4.

The action, which was held for the first time in Surabaya, was an expression of concern and opposition to discrimination against women.

Although the action was not organised by any group or the government, those that took to the streets were genuinely concerned about articulating women's rights.

"This event was not held by an organisation, just volunteers from various groups in society. There were members of various communities, students and housewives", said Women's March action coordinator Poedjiati Tan (Poedji) when speaking with Detik.com at the Bungkul Park on Jl. Raya Darmo in Surabaya on Sunday March 4.

The 47-year-old woman added that there is a great deal of discrimination against women. Just take victims of rape for example, usually women feel afraid to report it to police because victims of rape are often stigmatised negatively by society.

"Usually, if they want to remarry, people will ask the bridegroom, 'Are you sure? She's been raped'. I deplore that such a thing can happen", said the Konde Community co-founder.

Poedji also said that the law still does not side with women. One example is in rape cases where men legally defend themselves with the justification that it was with "mutual consent", or judges who usually require witnesses to collaborate a rape. For Poedji this is wrong because rapes usually occur out of sight and there are no witnesses.

The effect of this is that women feel that they are victims for the rest of their lives and experience trauma and depression. In order to address this, during the action volunteers provided education to the public, particularly for women. This will be to furnish women with information and a little knowledge about how to defend themselves.

"First, we have to learn to shout as loudly as possible when faced with a threat", said Poedji who is also a Taekwondo martial arts teacher.

Poedji suggests women shout "thief" because this is more effective in attracting attention rather than calling for help. Poedji also recommends physically defending oneself by attacking the weak points on a man's body.

In addition to volunteers who took to the street carrying banners rejecting discrimination against women, the Women's March also held petition signings, speeches, declarations, self-defense classes and poetry readings. Merchandise was also on sale, the proceeds of which will go towards victims of sexual violence, particularly women. (iwd/iwd)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Women's March, Bentuk Kepedulian Terhadap Diskriminasi Perempuan".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita-jawa-timur/d-3897465/womens-march-bentuk-kepedulian-terhadap-diskriminasi-perempuan

Feminists march for equality, end to gender violence

Jakarta Post - March 3, 2018

Hundreds of feminists wielding colorful placards took part in the second Jakarta Women's March this Saturday, demanding an end to gender-based violence and discriminatory policies.

The organizers of the march voiced eight demands targeted at the government. In addition to the calls to end gender violence, they urged the government to block provisions in the Criminal Code (KUHP) bill that activists say violate private freedoms.

Most of the attendees brought out their own placards. Some called for an end to catcalling, while others pulled out placards with memes and references to popular TV shows and books to demand equal rights.

A number of attendees even brought out signs with humorous messages on them: One man was marching because his "girlfriend brought me here"; one attendee called on Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti to "sink the absurd KUHP"; another could not believe that they "still have to protest". (jlm/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/03/feminists-march-for-equality-end-to-gender-violence.html

2nd Women's March in Jakarta calls for people to fight together for

CNN Indonesia - March 3, 2018

Puput Tripeni Juniman, Jakarta – In the lead up to International Women's Day (IWD), around 1 thousand people gathered in Jakarta on the morning of Saturday March 3 to hold the 2nd Jakarta Women's March.

The action, which was titled #LawanBersama (#FightingTogether) articulated the demands and wishes of those who side with women. There were at least eight main demands made during this year's action.

The rally, which began at around 8am, began with a march from the Sari Pan Pacific hotel near the Sarinah shopping mall in Central Jakarta.

They then marched along the city's main thoroughfare Jl. MH Thamrin to Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat then on to the National Monument (Monas) Aspiration Garden in front of the State Palace.

"Those who want change, shout 'fight'", said a speaker leading the rally from atop a pickup truck.

During the march, women representatives from various women's organisations and foundations took turns in voicing their demands and aspirations.

These ranged from representatives of domestic labour groups, trade unions, sex workers, victims of sexual violence to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

The eight main demands taken up by the march this year included abolishing discriminative policies, the enactment of various laws and policies, guaranteeing and providing access to rehabilitation for victims of sexual violence and an end to the state's intervention in people's bodies.

In addition to this they demanding an end to gender based stigma, discrimination, practices and the culture of violence. They also called for the abolition of the roots of gender based violence.

At the Aspiration Garden, the rally continued with arts performances articulating these demands.

Although the rally was taking up women's related issues, it was not just supported by women. Men could be seen taking part in the action and several foreigners also participated.

The peaceful action was enlivened by unique paraphernalia with several protesters carrying chicken cages, wearing traditional clothing, Star Wars outfits and much more.

The Jakarta Women's March was marking IWD which falls on March 8 each year. In addition to the march in Jakarta, rallies were also held in several other major cities including Bandung in West Java, Surabaya in East Java and the tourist island of Bali.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Women's March di Jakarta Suarakan 8 Tuntutan".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/gaya-hidup/20180303100532-277-280137/womens-march-di-jakarta-suarakan-8-tuntutan

Women's March highlights sexual and workplace violence, underage

BBC Indonesia - March 3, 2018

The murder of women or 'femicide' was one of the issues taken up by the 2018 Women's March in Jakarta on Saturday March 3.

The rally in the MH Thamrin commercial district in Central Jakarta, which was joined by around 500 or so people, also took up violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, protection for domestic and migrant workers, under-age marriage, date rape and protection for sex workers.

At the policy level, the action called for the enactment of the Draft Law (RUU) on Sexual Violence, the RUU on Domestic Workers and criticised the planed revisions to the Criminal Code (KUHP) which they said was problematic because of the broadening of the articles on adultery (zina) and prohibitions on the distribution of contraceptives and reproductive education.

As reported by BBC Indonesia journalists Isyana Artharini, the protesters began gathering at around 7am then marched to the State Palace in Central Jakarta.

National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) commissioner Mariana Amiruddin said that in 2017 at least 173 women died as a result of sexual violence and murder by their husbands, partners, uncles and even their own fathers.

"And these deaths are quite gruesome, many experienced abuse, torture, mutilation, and usually the bodies are found in other locations. And the problem stems from just one issue, because the man loses his self-respect. Just because a wife asks to be bought a car, they have to be killed, cut into pieces, and [their bodies] discarded", said Mariana during a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday March 1.

Komnas Perempuan believes that the murder of women cannot be seen as a simple criminal act but as a form of gender based violence.

Meanwhile Yuli Rustinawati from the LGBT advocacy group Arus Pelangi (Rainbow Current) sees this year's Women's March as a medium to articulate the concerns of "those who cannot speak out anywhere", including LGBT groups or people expressing their gender, sexual identity and diverse sexual orientation, who are "currently experiencing systematic persecution".

For Siswati from the National Network for Domestic Workers Advocacy (Jala PRT), the Women's March should be used to highlight the fact that there is still no law to protect the 4 million or more domestic workers in Indonesia who she said are venerable to physical violence, exploitation, long hours, low wages and a lack of health security.

The recent death of Adelina, a migrant worker in Malaysia, is an example of another problem – the lack of protection for women or migrant workers overseas – which was also highlighted at this year's action.

Other issues such as underage marriage and date rape, including the use of social media as a means to disseminate videos of intimate relationships without prior consent, were also taken up by the 2nd Women's March.

Meanwhile according to Ira Askarina from the Indonesian Association for Women with Disabilities (HWDI), "Women with disabilities face a great deal of stigma, violence and problems such as difficulties obtaining an education, sexual harassment and other serious issues such as forced contraception. This very much violates a woman's rights over her own body".

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo also responded to the Women's March through his social media account:

"To develop Indonesia, we need women who are strong. A strong women in my life has been [First Lady] Ibu Iriana. Best wishes for those taking part in the Women's March, in the context of International Women's Day on March 8" – Joko Widodo (@jokowi) March 3, 2018

"The Women's March takes up problems collectively, not just celebrating women as individuals. Supporting this movement also means having a commitment to protecting citizens from discrimination & criminalisation based on gender & sexual orientation. cc: @jokowi #WomensmarchJKT https://t.co/0pvp3fkRql – Intan Paramaditha (@sihirperempuan) March 3, 2018

Gina Rahmafalah, a student from the Padjadjaran University in Bandung, West Java, said that the action was triggered by "concerns for and the issue of gender equality". "So if there is an arena to express it, why not", she said.

Meanwhile 16-year-old student Basma Alisha said that her involvement in the action was because of a desire to demand a sense of security for women in the public sphere.

"If for example we are walking, and there are men who call out and shout, I really don't like that kind of thing", she said.

The 1st Women's March, which was held in 2017, was joined by millions of women across the world.

The action began in the in Washington DC as a response by women who were angered at statements by US President Donald Trump which they felt were sexist and discriminated against women and other minority groups. But the demands of the action soon developed beyond just criticism of President Trump.

In Indonesia, these actions have also called on the government to produce public policies that are pro-women and pro-other marginal groups. In addition to Jakarta, the Women's March was held in 12 other cities across Indonesia on Saturday March 3.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Aksi Women's March 2018 Indonesia: soroti pembunuhan perempuan, kekerasan pada pekerja, pernikahan anak".]

Source: http://www.bbc.com/indonesia/trensosial-43237965

The women behind Women's March Jakarta

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2018

Dhania Sarahtika, Jakarta – This Saturday (03/03), women in Jakarta will march from a parking lot next to the Sari Pan Pacific Hotel on Jalan Thamrin to the State Palace, demanding the end to gender-based violence against women all over Indonesia. This will be the second time Jakarta hosts the "Women's March."

Many rights groups are also set to send their members to march tomorrow, including the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), Hollaback! Jakarta, Migrant Care, National Network for Domestic Workers Advocacy (Jala PRT), KAPAL Perempuan, Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat) and Women's Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Apik).

The initiative to hold the Women's March Jakarta (WMJ) came from Jakarta Feminist Discussion Group (JFDG), but who exactly are the people organizing the march? Let's find out.

Kerri Na Basaria

Meet the lead organizer of WMJ 2018, Kerri Na Basaria, a history graduate from University of Sydney and University of St. Andrews who now works as a marketing executive at a local property company.

Kerri started her activism in women's rights when she volunteered at WMJ 2017. She was also a member of the fundraising team for Feminist Fest (FemFest) 2017. She argues that the march is a perfect medium to speak up against the never-ending violence against women.

According to a Komnas Perempuan finding, nearly 270,000 cases of violence against women – both in the home and in public – were reported in 2017.

"Last year's WMJ was a reminder that rallies like this are necessary as long as injustice continues to exist, especially toward women, minorities and marginal groups. That is why we are taking up the issue of gender-based violence in 2018," Kerri said in a statement.

Kerri also told the Jakarta Globe why she will march again in WMJ 2018 tomorrow. "I march because I have the privilege to do so, I do it for those who aren't able to. Those who have the chance to act and speak up should be encouraged to fight for those whose voices have been silenced," she said.

Naila Rizqi Zakiah

Naila Rizqi Zakiah, the deputy organizer of WMJ 2018, is a public defender at LBH Masyarakat.

Naila has taken part and delivered lectures in various local and international conferences, including the Harm Reduction International in Montreal last year. In 2015, she won the JusticeMakers fellowship from the International Bridges to Justice.

Naila uses her legal expertise to fight for local women's rights. She has been kept busy in the last few months lobbying members of Indonesia's House of Representatives to reconsider the draft revisions of Indonesia's criminal code (RKUHP).

The draft revisions include articles that may be used to prosecute women and children who are victims of sexual abuse for adultery. This is one of the reasons why the focus of WMJ 2018 is combating gender-based violence from a legal perspective.

Apart from campaigning against the RKUHP draft revisions, the march will also encourage the government to ratify the Elimination of Sexual Violence bill that has been stuck in parliament since 2016.

"I march because there are still a lot of cases of gender-based violence and efforts to perpetuate violence and discrimination through the law. I joined Women's March because there is a great deal of oppression against women in the [RKUHP] draft revisions," Naila told the Jakarta Globe.

Naila, who was one of the speakers at the "HeForShe Talk" in Kemang, South Jakarta, a few weeks ago, said she often faces what she calls "double discouragement" from her family and friends because she is a feminist, but also a Muslim who dons the hijab.

Besides rebelling against stereotypical gender roles, Naila also challenges fundamentalist interpretation of religious values – hence the double discouragement. "We need more open dialogues between men and women, between religious believers, to talk about sensitive issues in Indonesia. We have to have a movement that will fight for women empowerment and human rights," Naila said.

Anindya "Vivi" Restuviani

"A lot of people associate feminism with women being angry. But think about it, how can I not be angry when I get harassed every single day? How can I not be angry when I get constantly discriminated just because I am a woman?" Anindya Restuviani, or Vivi, said during her presentation at the HeForShe Talk.

Vivi is now the partnership coordinator of WMJ 2018. Before that, she was the chief organizer of FemFest 2017. Vivi said she marches because she wants people to understand why she is angry.

Growing up in a small town in Central Java, in a conservative Javanese-Muslim family, she has experienced her fair share of gender-based discrimination, including being discouraged from going to university by her grandmother who thinks a woman's place is at home, so education is not important.

Now Vivi has a Law degree from Diponegoro University and a long list of prestigious achievements, such as being a former member of United Nations Populations and Fund (UNFPA) Indonesia's Youth Advisory Panel.

Vivi is also the co-director of Hollaback Jakarta! and a communication officer at a social enterprise called Seefar.

One person that keeps Vivi's fire going is her father, who is a former Suharto-era activist. Compared to his experience of going to prison, Vivi said she is "living in a comfort zone."

"So everyday when people try to stop me from whatever I am doing, I always think of my father. He went to jail, he was tortured, but he kept doing what he was doing. What I'm facing now is nothing compared to what he had to go through," Vivi told the Jakarta Globe.

Emily Lawsen

"A feminist who loves writing and singing," Emily Lawsen described herself. Emily is the events coordinator of WMJ 2018. Previously she was a member of the FemFest committee.

Constant sexual harassment women receive on the streets and violence committed against marginalized groups like the LGBT community, female factory workers and migrant workers are what give Emily motivation to march in WMJ and take part in other women empowerment events.

But what trigger her the most are "government policies that undermine women," especially the criminal code draft revisions.

"By marching with my friends, I hope the government will open their eyes to their discriminative policies. This year, WMJ 2018 has a list of 8 demands for the government which we have discussed with NGOs. I hope the government will be all ears," she told the Jakarta Globe.

Emily, who works for a Singaporean company, said she is very happy to be appointed as the events coordinator for the march and said it's a "concrete proof of the struggle against injustice that has existed here for a long time."

Kate Walton

Kate Walton, the media coordinator for the WMJs and FemFest, created JFDG in 2014. Now it has over 2,000 members on Facebook with around 50 volunteers.

The reason she created the Facebook group was because she was fed up with the sexual harassment she received on the street and in the workplace in Indonesia, which has been her home since 2011.

In a recent discussion held as part of Women's March Jakarta 2018's pre-events, Walton also revealed she was a victim of dating violence back then in 2011.

A freelance writer, Walton also works for a number of international development programs on women's health, gender and governance.

"I travel around Indonesia a lot for my work and I think that has given me a good understanding of the biggest issues facing Indonesian women and other marginalized groups in the twenty-first century; there is no way anyone can truly understand these problems just by sitting in an office in Jakarta," she told the Jakarta Globe.

As an Australian expat in Indonesia, she emphasizes that the local women's movement "must be led and directed by Indonesian women themselves, as only they can properly decide what they want to work on or fight against."

She positions herself as a supporter, providing references when necessary on what other countries have done to tackle development and rights issues.

"I also see my role as one of awareness raising, as I am able to highlight issues in Indonesia to the international media – sadly, they pay more attention when a white foreigner is involved, but this means I am able to play this off to help raise awareness and bring attention to challenges surrounding women's rights in Indonesia," Walton said.

[Additional reporting by Joy Muchtar.]

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/features/women-behind-womens-march-jakarta/

Labour & migrant workers

In lead up to IWD workers seek to build alternative trade union,

SEDAR - March 4, 2018

Bekasi – The Populist Democratic Trade Union (Serikat Buruh Demokratik Kerakyatan, SEDAR) held a mass meeting attended by more than 400 members on Sunday March 4. The meeting was held to prepare for International Women's Day (IWD) which falls on March 8.

Working conditions for women are still of great concern. Not just because they have yet to gain basic maternity rights such as unconditional menstrual leave, maternity leave and breastfeeding rooms at work, but because women workers, like their male compatriots, are victims of a flexible labour system.

Contract labour, outsourcing and apprenticeships make it difficult for women workers to obtain employment security. Yet these days, many women workers have become the family breadwinner.

The rampant use of apprenticeships, which is legitimised under Labour Ministry Regulation Number 36/2016 on the Organisation of Domestic Apprenticeships and locally through the Bekasi Regency Regulation Number 4/2016 on Labour, is evidence that national and governments alike tend to side with capital rather than workers.

Apprenticeships should be a mechanism to gain experience and training, but employers use them instead as a form of outsourced labour to reap huge profits.

In addition to this, the mass meeting also highlighted government plans to revise the 2003 Labour Law. The revisions being proposed will reduce and even abolish severance pay making it even easier for companies to arbitrarily sack workers.

The attacks against workers' rights have continued since the 2015 government regulation on setting the minimum wage – which ties annual wage rises to inflation and productivity – and has resulted in a decline in real wages and sectoral wage uncertainty.

Di Purwakarta regency, West Java, the Regency Sectoral Minimum Wage (UMSK) is no longer set by the wage council but is instead set through bipartite negotiations between workers and employers. The consequence of this is that workers have to negotiate directly with employers in their individual factories.

In order to address these problems, workers must fight for their rights.

First, though a struggle against employers in factories to win normative rights and Joint Labour Agreements (PKB) which accommodate workers' rights.

Second, fighting to demand that the state improve workers' welfare and reform regulations that harm workers.

What is needed is a trade union with the concept of alternative organisation which raises workers' consciousness so that they are informed, courageous, morally clean and politically honest.

The trade unions that will succeed in this are ones that are capable of actively involving their members in trade union activities: members that actively pay union dues, have a sense of solidarity and a commitment to fight.

Trade union activities should include consolidation, actions and supervision, education and training.

Building a sense of solidarity means building unity between trade unions with a commitment to fight. That is why SEDAR is working hard to towards unity with the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI), the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI), the National Trade Union Confederation (KSN), the National Labour Movement Centre (SGBN) and other people's movement organisations.

The test for this unity will be in joint actions on IWD and the People's Movement Conference in mid-April and on May Day.

Mobilisations on IWD should not just articulate the interests of women workers, but also test joint mobilisations to raise the atmosphere of struggle.

Victory can be achieved by working to fulfill the requirements to become an alternative trade union with a progressive consciousness.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Jelang IWD Rapat Akbar SEDAR Matangkan Konsep Serikat Buruh Alternatif".]

Source: http://fsedar.org/jelang-iwd-rapat-akbar-sedar-matangkan-konsep-serikat-buruh-alternatif/

Freedom of speech & expression

Ananda Sukarlan asks LBH's help after being reported by Fadli Zon

Tempo - March 3, 2018

Imam Hamdi, Jakarta – Pianist Ananda Sukarlan requested assistance from the Legal Aid Institute for Ansor Youth Movement (LBH GP) after he was reported by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Fadli Zon to the police.

Ananda was being reported for re-sending a tweet containing false or hoax information.

Through a written statement, activist LBH GP Ansor Dendy Zuhairil Finsa said on Friday, March 2, Ananda came to LBH Ansorto ask for legal assistance.

"In the social media post uploaded by Ananda Sukarlan, there was no element of law violation that can entangle the related person," Dendy said Friday, March 3.

Fadli Zon reported Ananda and other Twitter accounts to Police Headquarters last Friday. Ananda was reported on suspicion of defamation and spreading a hoax. In the report, Fadli inserted screenshots of the social media posts and the links as evidence.

According to Dendy, Ananda just retweeted from the account he followed @stla soso1. So, Dendy said, his client did not directly post the alleged picture of Fadli Zon and Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto with the hoax spreader group The Family Muslim Cyber Army (MCA).

Ananda's retweet reads "Well, it seems like it needs to be retweeted for 58 multiplied 100 times, so the 58 percent [of viewers] can see."

According to the LBH activist, what Ananda did is a confirmation of the Tweet he retweeted. The ones who know the truth of the picture is only the supporters.

Dendy viewed that there was no hate speech element in the content of the message retweeted by Ananda Sukarlan.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/03/055916259/Ananda-Sukarlan-Asks-LBHs-Help-after-being-Reported-by-Fadli-Zon

Freedom of information & the press

Tempo anniversary: Quick recap of government ban in 1982, 1994

Tempo - March 6, 2018

Jakarta – Today marks the 47th anniversary of Tempo Magazine or Majalah Tempo. Throughout its timeline, this media has faced countless challenges and obstacles to providing the public with its most independent journalistic contents.

There are two incidents throughout its history which highlight the magazine's struggle to stay independent and avoid government intervention. It was the government ban on Tempo Magazine's publication in 1982 and 1994.

The 1982 government ban

Soeharto's New Order administration at the time decided to revoke Tempo Magazine's permit after the magazine published a report on the massive riot took place during Golkar Party's campaign at Lapangan Banteng, Central Jakarta on March 18, 1982.

Tempo's publishing permit was revoked by Minister of Information Ali Moertopo, who was the second most powerful man in Indonesia after Soeharto. However, the magazine was allowed to publish again less than two months after on May 15, 1982.

The 1994 government ban

The Indonesian government banned Tempo Magazine in June 1994 together with two other news magazines; Editor and Detik. Indonesia's New Order government revoked Tempo's SIUPP (License for Press Publishing) even though SIUPP had actually greatly limited press freedom and changed the press into an instrument of the then government.

The reason behind the banning was the investigative report released by Tempo Magazine after the government purchased a number of used East German warships for a price that was considered to be way too high for what it's worth. The New Order saw this news piece as an attempt to spark conflict among ministers in Soeharto's administration.

Tempo Magazine officially reopened after the collapse of Soeharto's New Order regime in 1998.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/06/055916362/Tempo-Anniversary-Quick-Recap-of-Government-Ban-in-1982-1994

Indonesia: Just how free is the press in South-East Asia's largest

ABC Radio Australia - March 3, 2018

Nurina Savitri and Erwin Renaldi – Indonesia is entering election season – this June the country will hold local elections across 17 provinces, 39 cities and 115 regencies.

A general election is set to follow in April next year, which will determine the future of the ruling party and President Joko Widodo.

Press coverage is an inseparable part of election season, representing the progress of Indonesian democracy in the almost two decades since the fall of president Suharto.

However a recent report from US-based democracy watchdog Freedom House rated Indonesia as only "partly free", with the same organisation's analysis of press freedoms last year also handing down the same judgement.

Freedom House said while Indonesia had a vibrant media landscape, a recent law regulating online publications appeared to impede the work of journalists, and the interests of media owners were driving partisan reporting.

New anti-criticism laws a worry

Senior Indonesian journalist Yulia Supadmo, who heads the Jakarta-based Rajawali TV (RTV) network, said another law passed last month also had the journalism industry concerned.

The MD3 law, as it is known in Indonesia, could see critics of the Government face legal action and may give politicians powers to compel police to haul citizens into Parliament for questioning.

Any comments that "tarnish the dignity" of the Parliament or its members could fall foul of the law. "[The MD3 law] would make it possible for journalists to be penalised if they report any negative things," Supadmo said.

Another example is the Information and Electronic Transaction Law, introduced in 2008 and commonly referred to as the ITE law, which allows individuals to apply to have information about them published online deleted.

Articles can be deleted if the story becomes "irrelevant" – which is referred to as "the right to be forgotten" – but critics said the law allowed powerful people to retrospectively censor news stories.

"Initially, ITE law aims to limit the space of irresponsible media, but in practice, it also affects mainstream media," said Arif Zulkifli, editor-in-chief of Tempo Magazine.

Zulkifli said there was a class of politicians in Indonesia that preferred the way things were under Suharto. "Those who still use the old ways [do so] because they still perceive the press as an obstacle for their work," he said.

Papua access remains an issue

Zulkifli said he thought press freedom in Indonesia was coming along well overall, despite the challenges faced by reporters in farther flung parts of the archipelago.

"In the past 20 years, following the 1998 revolution, our achievement has been very significant," he said. "[But] those in Papua or local journalists in remote areas... they don't get adequate solidarity as their fellows in big cities."

Freedom House last year criticised Indonesia for continued access restrictions in the provinces of Papua and West Papua, due to sensitivities over the long-simmering independence movement there.

Australian journalist Rebecca Henschke was kicked out of Papua last month after making social media posts that "hurt the feelings of soldiers".

Henschke, the BBC's Indonesia bureau chief, wrote tweets questioning the quality of food aid given to children affected by a measles and malnutrition outbreak in the province.

However, Zulkifli said Indonesian media had made great progress in the post-Suharto era, and outlets were no longer threatened with closure, something that used to happen frequently.

"The work of the press has since then been protected... we have the freedom to cover or broadcast anything as long as it's in line with the public interest," he said.

Partisan media bosses turn off audiences

Dr Ross Tapsell, an Indonesian media researcher at the Australian National University, said the political interests of media owners and subsequent partisan coverage had caused Indonesians to lose trust in mainstream news outlets.

This has boosted media diversity in the online space, but with mixed results. "This in turn allows more alternative sites online and on social media, sometimes referred to as fake news, to flourish," he said.

"People are spending more and more time on their phones on social media sites, rather than sitting passively in front of the television consuming the nightly news."

There is concern the boom of online news sites could undermine the industry's reputation. "They're after a clicking rate, something that traps people to read their news... the massive numbers of media who seek profit can affect people's trust," said Abdul Manan, the head of the Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists.

However, Zulkifli said this proliferation of media platforms was helping to address the issue of political bias. "I don't worry about the massive numbers of current media. Yes it sometimes leads to ethical negligence, but at the end of the day it will help people to get the accurate information," he said.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2018-03-03/indonesia-just-how-free-is-the-press-in-southeast-asias-largest-democracy/1740022

Political parties & elections

Munir's convicted murderer joins Tommy Suharto's new political

Detik News - March 7, 2018

Tsarina Maharani, Jakarta – Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, convicted of the murder of renowned human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, has joined Tommy Suharto's new Working Party.

Working Party Secretary General Andi Picunang has confirmed that Pollycarpus is a member of the party established by the youngest son of former president Suharto. He said that the party does not discriminate against members based on their past.

"We don't look at a person's background. What's important is that if they want to become a member, please go ahead", said Picunang when contacted on Tuesday March 6.

Picunang said that perhaps Pollycarpus has the same vision and mission as the Working Party adding that he has the same political rights as other Indonesian citizens.

"Everyone has the political right to articulate their whishes. Perhaps he saw that the Working Party is the right one to articulated his political interests. We don't have any restrictions, what's important is that they fulfill the requirements, right. He has the same voting rights [as everybody else], Pollycarpus as a person has one vote yes, the same as someone who is president", he explained.

Pollycarpus is a former Garuda Indonesia pilot sentenced to 14 years jail after being found guilty of murdering Munir on September 7, 2004. He was released on parole on November 28, 2014 after serving eight years of his sentence.

There has been little news about Pollycarpus since he was released from the Sukamiskin penitentiary, until now, when it was reported that he joined the Working Party.

Picunang explained that initially he knew nothing about Pollycarpus' application to become a member. He then went on to explain that Pollycarpus is just an ordinary member and does not hold any leading positions in the party.

"I also just found out from journalist friends that yes one of our members is called Pollycarpus. But for us, yes well it's not a problem, he's just an ordinary member", he said.

"But as far as holding any leading positions we will have to think about that first. Anyone can become a member if they want to", added Picunang.

Notes

1. Tommy, like Pollycarpus, is also a convicted murderer. In 2002, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison – although he served only four years – for ordering the murder of Supreme Court judge Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, who had convicted Tommy on corruption charges.

2. On September 7, 2004 renowned human rights defender Munir Said Thalib died of arsenic poisoning onboard a Garuda Indonesia flight. Although Pollycarpus was convicted of the murder the alleged mastermind behind the assassination, former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy Muchdi Purwopranjono, was acquitted of all charges. Also implicated in the murder but never investigated was former BIN chief Hendropriyono. A close ally of Megawati Soekarnoputri – the chairperson of President Joko Widodo's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) – according to US diplomatic cables leaked in 2011 Hendropriyono was involved in the planning of Munir's murder.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Pollycarpus Bergabung ke Partai Tommy Soeharto".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-3902374/pollycarpus-bergabung-ke-partai-tommy-soeharto

LIPI researcher: Alternative presidential candidate needed

Tempo - March 6, 2018

M Julnis Firmansyah, Jakarta – A researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Syamsudin Haris argues that a third alternative presidential candidate other than Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Prabowo Subianto is needed in the 2019 Presidential Election.

Syamsudin worries that it will spark greater political and social discordance if the public's choices are limited to the two men.

"Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) has a chance based on his presidential candidacy threshold," he said at the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) on Tuesday, March 6.

The presidential threshold set by the Presidential Election Law is 20 percent of the House of Representative slots or 25 percent of the national legislative election's legitimate votes. Haris reasoned that the law has limited the availability of alternative candidates for the presidency.

Other potential names from political party chairman include Muhaimin Iskandar, Airlangga Hartarto, and Zulkifli Hasan. Meanwhile, Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, Sri Mulyani, and Susi Pudjiastuti could also be alternative candidates from the current administration.

Other names now considered as public figures or organization leaders are Mahfud MD, Yenny Wahid, and Haedar Nashir. Other potential names that caught the attention of pollsters are Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, Anies Baswedan, and Gatot Nurmantyo.

The coalition of the names, Haris said, can be the third alternative group to avoid social discordance due to the 2019 Presidential Election.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/06/055916363/LIPI-Researcher-Alternative-Presidential-Candidate-Needed

2018 election candidates in KPK's crosshairs

Jakarta Post - March 6, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Agus Rahardjo says his side is paying close attention to a number of candidates participating in the 2018 simultaneous regional elections on account of graft accusations.

"There is strong indication that several candidates participating in the upcoming regional elections have been involved in corruption," he said in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Agus said among candidates the KPK was focusing on were seeking reelection or higher positions. He, however, refused to disclose further information about the candidates. "We are silently monitoring lots of places, not only in Java," he said.

As of Tuesday, the KPK had arrested five regional election candidates for their alleged involvement in graft. Southeast Sulawesi gubernatorial candidate Asrun was the latest candidate arrested by the antigraft body on March 1.

The KPK arrested the former Kendari mayor along with his son Adriatma Dwi Putra, who serves as the current Kendari mayor, for allegedly accepting Rp 2.8 billion (US$203,280) in bribes. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/06/2018-election-candidates-in-KPKs-crosshairs.html

Dems open possibility to endorse Jokowi in 2019: Agus Yudhoyono

Jakarta Post - March 6, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – Democratic Party executive Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono has said there is a possibility for the party to endorse President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as a presidential candidate in the 2019 election.

He made the statement following his meeting with the President in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Jokowi welcomed the visit of the eldest son of Democratic Party patron and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Merdeka Palace. During the meeting, Agus invited Jokowi to attend the party's national meeting this weekend.

Agus said there was no specific talk with Jokowi concerning the 2019 elections, let alone a discussion about Jokowi's running mate, with recent speculation suggesting that Agus was one of the potential candidates.

When he was asked about the possibility for the Democratic Party to join several other political parties to back Jokowi's reelection next year, Agus said, "Everything is possible in politics."

"Although today the Democratic Party has not yet determined its stance on who it will endorse [in the 2019 presidential election], the party will soon set its stance together with other political parties."

Agus said he did not know yet whether the Democratic Party would declare its presidential or vice-presidential candidate during the party's national meeting scheduled to be held on March 10 to 11 in Sentul, West Java.

He said the national meeting would focus on consolidating the party's members for next year's elections. The party hoped it could gain more votes in the 2019 legislative election, exceeding the 10.91 percent of votes it obtained in 2014. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/06/dems-open-possibility-to-endorse-jokowi-in-2019-agus-yudhoyono.html

Election Advisory Board reverses KPU decision, allows PBB to

Jakarta Globe - March 5, 2018

Jakarta – The Election Advisory Board, or Bawaslu, on Sunday (04/03) annulled a decision by the General Elections Commission, or KPU, to bar the Crescent Star Party from participating in the upcoming legislative elections in 2019.

On Feb. 17, KPU announced that 14 political parties would be allowed to participate in next year's elections, while two others were banned, including the Crescent Star, known by the acronym PBB.

PBB immediately filed an appeal to Bawaslu, which found the party met "adequate" standards after a number of investigatory sessions and reversed KPU's decision, allowing Crescent Star back into the political process.

"We are revoking KPU's decision..." said Abhan, chairman of Bawaslu, as reported by BeritaSatu TV.

The elections commission will have three days to revise its list of eligible participants in the 2019 elections, or it can choose to appeal Bawaslu's decision at a state administrative court.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/election-advisory-board-reverses-kpu-decision-allows-pbb-participate-legislative-elections/

Ombudsman to investigate violations in Jokowi – PSI Meeting

Tempo - March 4, 2018

M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta – The Indonesian Ombudsman will investigate the alleged violations committed by President Joko Widodo or Jokowi who accepted the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) visit at the State Palace. The allegation arose as PSI stated the meeting was discussing Jokowi's winning strategy in the 2019 Presidential Election.

However, the Ombudsman will first confirm both to Jokowi and PSI regarding the meeting discussion. "Because we just got information from media only," said Ombudsman deputy chairperson Lely Pelitasari Sunday, March 4.

Lely stated if the information that Jokowi's winning strategy for the election had been discussed, Ombudsman will take further investigation. Ombudsman will hold a plenary meeting on Monday, March 5. "Our official statement will be released after the plenary meeting," Lely said.

PSI Chairman Grace Natalie and PSI DPP Chairman Tsamara Amany visited the State Palace to meet President Joko Widodo on Thursday, March 1. During the meeting, Grace claimed to have a discussion of the winning strategy for 2019 election with Jokowi.

Grace also admitted to had talked about the vice presidential candidate who will accompany Jokowi in the 2019 presidential election. She said that PSI will continue to support Jokowi whoever the vice presidential candidate.

The meeting discussion sparked criticism by several parties. Gerindra and PKS Party considered Jokowi to have abused his power by using the State Palace to discuss the 2019 presidential election. "Mr. Jokowi ignores the principle that should not be done by a President," said Gerindra Vice Chairman Ferry Juliantono, Saturday, March 3.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/04/055916278/Ombudsman-to-investigate-violations-in-Jokowi–-PSI-Meeting

Gerindra: VP to be with Prabowo must be from millennial generation

Tempo - March 4, 2018

Imam Hamdi, Jakarta – Vice Chairman Gerindra Arief Puyuono said Gerindra proposed the general chairman Prabowo Subianto run as presidential candidate in 2019 election. Prabowo, said Arief, is willing to be a candidate and asking for the younger generation (milennial) to accompany him. "Pak Prabowo should indeed choose a young candidate to keep up with him," he said, Saturday, March 3.

Arief stated the millennial generation has a big contribution in determining the next president. Indonesia has entered a golden era in its economic growth because of the demographic bonus. "So (the next president) must understand the millennial generation and run the economy," he said.

However, the decision to elect a vice president candidate will be determined by party coalition. Arief encouraged women of the millenial generation, such as Surabaya Mayor Tri Risma, Coordinating Human Development and Cultural Affairs Minister Puan Maharani, and member of the House of Representatives from Indonesian DemocraticParty of Struggle (PDI-P) Puti Guntur Soekarno.

Anticorruption activists, such as Abraham Samad, Arief said, is also able to enter the presidential election next year since he has a good track record.

Party cadres also have a chance to enter the election including Zulkifli Hasan from the National Mandate Party (PAN) and Muhaimin Iskandar from the National Awakening Party (PKB). However, Arief assessed, to gain massive supporters, smart and excellent millennial generation must be involved.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/04/055916280/Gerindra-VP-to-be-with-Prabowo-Must-Be-from-Millenial-Generation

ICW: Regional election faces emergency of integrity

Tempo - March 3, 2018

Imam Hamdi, Jakarta – Coordinator of Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) Donal Fariz says the 2018 regional head election will not be as expected because many candidates were caught in a corruption act.

"I can say that the regional election is in the emergency of integrity because many parties, including the candidates, are caught in corruption acts," he said in Jakarta, Friday, March 2.

Donal said in the last two months, there were eight election candidates who were arrested because of corruption.

Based on ICW's records, during 2010-2018, there were 242 regional heads who became the corruption suspects. Meanwhile, in 2010-2017, there were 72 cases of election organizers who were arrested for taking bribes.

According to Donal, corrupt behavior occurred due to the contestation at the election which requires an expensive cost. In addition, some parties ask money for candidates who want to be nominated.

On the other hand, Donal said the highest spending on regional election simultaneously existed on illegal spendings, such as political dowries, vote trading, and bribe organizers.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/03/055916256/ICW-Regional-Election-Faces-Emergency-of-Integrity

Female Islamic clerics call for unity ahead of elections

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2018

Ati Nurbaiti, Jakarta – Women ulema from across Indonesia are calling on all parties to uphold unity ahead of the elections.

In a five-point statement, female Islamic clerics urged the country to maintain plurality by avoiding poor practices in this year's political contests, such as politicizing identity differences and using hate speech, which could damage social cohesion of the nation.

Two female Islamic leaders, Yulianti Muthmainnah of Aisyiyah, the women's wing of Indonesia's second-largest Muslim organization Muhammadiyah, and Hindun Annisah of the Hasyim Asy'ari pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in Jepara, Central Java, read out the statement, which was signed by 137 women ulema, after their meeting at Istiqlal Grand Mosque on Thursday.

Badriyah Fayumi, leader of Pesantren Mahasina in Bekasi, West Java, said the moral calls represented concerns of female clerics who worked actively in pesantren, majelis taklim (Quran study congregations) and other religious education forums.

"The Women Ulema Network shares a similar concern; hence, this moral call will be followed up on simultaneously by all female cleric networks, which have been solidifying since the first Indonesian Women Ulema Congress in Cirebon, West Java, in April 2017," said Fayumi.

Participants of the meeting said women ulema had characteristics useful for spreading the religion, as they could convey their messages in calm words while uniting followers and upholding Islamic principles. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/01/female-islamic-clerics-call-for-unity-ahead-of-elections.html

Fake news & black campaigns

'Muslim Cyber Army' more harmful than Saracen, human rights group

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – A human rights group said the so-called Muslim Cyber Army, which has allegedly been responsible for spreading fake news and hate speech on social media, is more harmful than other similar organizations in the country and called on the National Police to track down intellectuals behind the group.

Police have arrested six suspected members of the group in different parts of Indonesia over the past week. The suspects include a female part-time lecturer at a university in Yogyakarta.

Hendardi, chairman of the Jakarta-based Setara Institute, said in a statement on Thursday (01/03) that the arrests have confirmed that the recent spread of fake news and hate speech had been "by design," and that it was produced and distributed by a specific group with a specific purpose.

"The [National Police's] cybercrime directorate must be able to track down the intellectuals behind the MCA to protect the public from fake news and hatred," Hendardi said.

He added that the police must also conduct a thorough investigation to identify the group's networks, advocates and the consumers of the fake news.

Hendardi also touched on how the MCA differs from Saracen, an online syndicate, which he said had more of a clear structure and a strong economic motive.

In contrast, the MCA is more ideological, comprised of subgroups with members across Indonesia and more fluid organizational ties. "As a result, this group is more harmful compared with Saracen," Hendardi said.

Last year, police arrested several suspected members and financiers of Saracen, which is believed to have been propagating hate speech based on ethnicity and religion.

People must act

"Ordinary citizens must also play a role in quelling such groups by actively reporting those who regularly share fake news content and hate speech," Hendardi said in a statement.

He warned that this type of content is not only present on the internet, but often wrapped as a moral message disseminated from religious platforms.

Hendardi said in view of the upcoming regional and general elections, it is necessary to have a united public and political space free from disruption. "Therefore, we need public synergy and participation," he said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/muslim-cyber-army-more-harmful-than-saracen-human-rights-group-says/

Crisis centers ready to combat hoaxes during elections

Jakarta Post - March 2, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Anti-Slander Society (Mafindo) has set up a national anti-hoax force, which aims to tackle the spread of hoaxes in the lead up to the simultaneous regional head elections on June 27 and the 2019 presidential and legislative elections.

"We have gathered a database on hoaxes that are written in the Indonesian language nationwide. Now, we are working on a global [hoax] database," Mafindo chairman Septiaji said, as quoted by kompas.com in Jakarta on Thursday.

Working together with the Communications and Information Ministry, the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the General Elections Commission (KPU), Mafindo has built hoax crisis centers in Central Java, West Kalimantan and West Java to make it easier for the public to report hoaxes and clarify issues.

The centers also aim to educate younger generations on how to create positive content.

"We have also integrated with Google Fact Check to flag negative content," said Septiaji. The society has affiliated with 17 online media companies to support its work on clarifying news reports and revealing the identities of hoax creators.

Septiaji said the police were ready to take legal action against hoax creators. (sha/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/02/crisis-centers-ready-to-combat-hoaxes-during-elections.html

Garut mosque caretaker scripts attack to get attention

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2018

Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java – West Java Police have investigated a caretaker at Al Istiqomah Mosque in Pamengpeuk district in Garut regency, West Java, who pretended to be the victim of abuse, with fake news of the supposed attack going viral on social media.

Amid a spate of recent reports of attacks toward religious figures, West Java Police investigated the news spread on Wednesday morning, which depicted the caretaker, Uyu Ruhyana, lying down with a message that indicated he had been assaulted by five unknown people.

"After we questioned the victim and investigated the scene, the victim admitted the incident was engineered by himself," West Java Police's general crimes investigation director Sr. Comr. Umar Surya Fana said in Bandung on Wednesday.

Uyu allegedly made up the abuse so he could get a raise from mosque's management. "He wanted more financial support as his salary is Rp 125,000 [US$9.1] per month. We are still investigating to see if there were other motives or if there was another actor behind it," Umar said.

The hoax detailed that Uyu had been attacked by five unknown assailants causing him to suffer bruises on his head, hands and legs. According to the hoax, the attackers also reportedly covered his mouth and tied his hands to the back of his head and attacked him with a cleaver. The report also mentioned that he was beaten with a chair and stomped on by the attackers in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Witnesses Agus and Dedeh, who conducted the Morning Prayer at the mosque, found Uyu in a tied position inside the mosque and took him to a local community health center.

"After a thorough examination, no wounds were found on his body. At the time of the incident, Pameungpeuk Police personnel were also on patrol in the area and did not hear any noise or see anyone at the mosque," Umar said.

There have been many cases of fake news claiming similar attacks. There have, however, been two real attacks where religious figures fell victims to perpetrators who were suspected to suffer from mental illnesses. (rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/01/garut-mosque-caretaker-scripts-attack-to-get-attention.html

Surveys & opinion polls

President Jokowi maintains solid lead in poll while Prabowo's

Coconuts Jakarta - March 1, 2018

We're still a long way off from Indonesia's 2019 presidential election, but since incumbent Joko Widodo was (unsurprisingly) officially named the presidential candidate for the ruling PDI-P party last Friday, speculation is once again getting rife regarding both his possible picks for VP and the chances that anybody could beat him at the polls.

Numerous surveys over the last several months show the president with a commanding lead over any potential challengers, including Prabowo Subianto, the head of the Gerindra party who Jokowi defeated in 2014's hotly contested election and who is widely expected to run again next year. Jokowi has a clear lead over Prabowo at the moment, and Prabowo has a clear lead over any other likely candidates, although the latest poll from the Populi Center political survey group showed a small downturn in both of their numbers.

According to the results of Populi's latest poll, Jokowi's electability is at 52.8%, a slight drop from December 2017 when their poll had him at 54.9%, whereas Prabowo's got 15.4% in the new poll, down from 18.9% in their previous survey.

Those numbers still put them far above other national political figures, none of whom were even able to break the 1% mark when respondents were asked to freely name their preferred presidential candidate. That includes such as former Indonesian Military Commander Gatot Nurmantyo who got 0.7% percent' Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who also got 0.7%; jailed former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who was picked by 0.4% percent; and former president and PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri, who got just 0.3%.

The Populi Center report noted that that despite Jokowi's slight downturn in this latest poll, his popularity has remained quite steady since August, whereas Prabowo's numbers have steadily declined over the same period. Here are the results of their last six polls.

Jokowi

January 2015: 45.5%
October 2015: 36.6%
August 2017: 52.8%
October 2017: 49.4%
December 2017: 54.9%
February 2018: 52.8%

Prabowo

January 2015: 19.2%
October 2015: 24.3%
August 2017: 28.0%
October 2017: 21.7%
December 2017: 18, 9%
February 2018: 15.4%

The latest Populi Center survey was conducted from February 7-16, and involved 1,200 respondents from across Indonesia using a multistage random sampling method.

If Prabowo's numbers continue to slip while Jokowi's remain steady, perhaps the seemingly ludicrous scenario of Prabowo choosing to run as Jokowi's VP won't seem so implausible.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/jokowi-maintains-solid-lead-polls-prabowos-numbers-slipping/

Internet & social media

Indonesia says it blocks services on blogging site Tumblr over

Reuters - March 7, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia has blocked microblogging site Tumblr after complaints about pornographic content on hundreds of accounts, the communications ministry said on Tuesday.

The world's most populous Muslim-majority country has stepped up efforts to police online content after a rise in hoax stories and hate speech, and because of anti-pornography laws pushed by Islamic parties.

The ministry sent an email to Tumblr on Feb. 28 asking it to "clean its platform" of pornographic content within two days, Noor Iza, a spokesman for the ministry, said in a text message.

It then blocked eight Tumblr domain names on Monday after he said it had not received a response.

Indonesia has tough anti-pornography laws and the ministry said it had received complaints about pornographic contents on more than 360 accounts.

Tumblr, which is part of Verizon's Oath business, which also includes Yahoo and AOL, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

According to the site's community guidelines, any sexual or adult-oriented content should be flagged as "Not Suitable for Work" to warn users of the material.

Indonesia blocked more than 70,000 sites displaying "negative" content such as pornography or militant ideology in January with a system using 44 computer servers to help purge the internet of material deemed harmful, the communications minister said in an interview last month.

Authorities also threatened last year to block Facebook Inc's WhatsApp Messenger, which is widely used in the country, unless graphics interchange format (GIF) images provided by third parties were removed.

Authorities had blocked access to some channels on encrypted messaging service Telegram last year, saying it had several forums that were "full of radical and terrorist propaganda."

Source: https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/indonesia-says-blocks-services-blogging-site-tumblr-pornography.html

Public urged to be aware of increasing radicalism on social media

Tempo - March 2, 2018

Padang (Antara) – Head of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) Suhardi Alius warned the public about the outspread of radicalism on the social media.

"Members of the public need to seriously filter the information that they receive because social media has been used as a tool to spread racial ideas," he said Thursday, March 1.

Suhardi said that one the problems is people's unsettling habit and culture to share information without fact-checking.

He argues that the contents circulating on social media have proven to provoke society, either through hoax contents, disinformation, and other similar contents. He categorized hoaxes as a sub-category of radicalism since the backlash it provokes has serious consequences.

"Especially if the person who is provoked is a person equipped with minimal knowledge. They can consider the provocation as a truth," Suhardi worried.

This is the reason why BNPT highly appreciates police efforts in arresting the suspects responsible for spreading hoaxes throughout social media who have been also known to spread the seeds of radicalism. The National Police arrested and named five people as suspects for that are allegedly involved in spreading hoax on a massive scale through social media. The group is widely known as The Family Muslim Cyber Army (MCA).

The five suspects were arrested in different regions, such as North Jakarta, Pangkal Pinang, Bali, Sumedang, and Palu. Based on gathered police evidence, the MCA group has notoriously spread hoaxes linked to ethnic, religious, racial and societal group (SARA) issues through Whatsapp messenger.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/02/055916232/Public-Urged-to-be-Aware-of-Increasing-Radicalism-on-Social-Media

Environment & natural disasters

'Plastic, plastic, plastic': British diver films sea of rubbish off

The Guardian - March 6, 2018

Kate Lamb, Jakarta – A British diver has captured shocking images of himself swimming through a sea of plastic rubbish off the coast of the Indonesian tourist resort of Bali.

A short video posted by diver Rich Horner on his social media account and on YouTube shows the water densely strewn with plastic waste and yellowing food wrappers, the occasional tropical fish darting through the deluge.

The footage was shot at a dive site called Manta Point, a cleaning station for the large rays on the island of Nusa Penida, about 20km from the popular Indonesian holiday island of Bali.

In a Facebook post on 3 March Horner writes how the ocean currents had carried in a "lovely gift" of jellyfish and plankton, and also mounds and mounds of plastic.

"Plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic cups, plastic sheets, plastic buckets, plastic sachets, plastic straws, plastic baskets, plastic bags, more plastic bags, plastic, plastic," he says, "So much plastic!"

The video shows Horner swimming through the mess for several minutes and also how the waste coagulated on the surface, mixing in with some organic matter to form a slick of floating rubbish.

Manta Point is regularly frequented by numerous manta rays that visit the site to get cleaned of parasites by smaller fish, but the video shows just one lone manta in the background.

"Surprise, surprise, there weren't many mantas there at the cleaning station today..." notes Horner, "They mostly decided not to bother."

Rubbish has been inundating Bali for several months now, washing over mainly from the neighbouring island of Java during the annual rainy, or "trash" season.

The plastic deluge also ends up in unsightly mounds on Bali's beaches, horrifying tourists and environmentalists alike.

Indonesia produces about 130,000 tons of plastic and solid waste every day, with about half of that reaching landfill sites, according to the Bali-based, Rivers, Oceans, Lakes and Ecology (ROLE) Foundation. The rest is either illegally burned or dumped in Indonesia's rivers and oceans.

With poor government planning and low levels of awareness about waste and recycling, Indonesia is now the second-largest plastic polluter in the world after China.

Several weeks ago thousands across Bali took part in a mass clean up, in attempt to rid the island's beaches, rivers and jungles of waste, and raise awareness about the harmful impacts of trash.

Rich Horner said that while divers regularly see "a few clouds of plastic" in the rainy season, the slick he identified is the worst yet.

Divers returned to the site the next day, he reports, by which time the slick had already moved on, "continuing on its journey, off into the Indian Ocean".

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/06/plastic-british-diver-films-sea-rubbish-bali-indonesia

Activists stage protest against incinerators during Bandung

Jakarta Post - March 5, 2018

Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java – A rally against the construction of incinerators took place on the sidelines of the 2018 International Zero Cities Conference in Bandung, West Java, on Monday.

Eight members of the West Java chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) displayed posters conveying their concerns on the impact of incinerators on human health and the environment.

Walhi West Java director Dadan Ramdan said the Supreme Court had granted a judicial review request filed by the National Coalition against Burning of Waste against Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No.18/2016 on the acceleration of infrastructure development of incinerator-based waste-powered electricity plants.

"With the revocation of the Perpres, the development of incinerator technology in Indonesia has been prohibited. The plan for central and local administrations to tackle waste using incinerator technology is wrong and has no legal basis," said Dadan.

The rally got the attention of hundreds of conference participants, including from India, the United States and the Philippines.

Dadan called on the West Java administration to cancel its plan to operate Legok Nangka, an incinerator-based trash disposal site, and to construct disposal sites using similar incinerator technology in Bogor, Cirebon, Indramayu and other places in West Java.

"Incinerator technology is not technology that is in line with the zero waste concept. Composting technologies and waste recycling remain technology that is mostly suitable to manage urban waste environmentally friendly and in line with the concept of zero waste cities," said Dadan. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/05/activists-stage-protest-against-incinerators-during-bandung-conference.html

Save tigers to save forests, activists say

Jakarta Post - March 3, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – Protecting Indonesian tigers can help to preserve the country's forest ecosystems, environmentalists have said.

Healthy forests are important for critically endangered Sumatran tigers as they require expansive territories in the wild. When hunting, they typically require 300 square kilometers of forest.

Sumatran tigers can be saved from extinction by ensuring their habitat is protected from land conversion, said Sunarto, a tiger specialist with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia.

"Therefore, saving tigers also means saving their large habitat. It's important because forests also serve as water catchment areas for humans," Sunarto said on Friday.

Munawar Kholis, chairman of Sumatran tiger conservation NGO HarimauKita Forum, said protecting the tigers was also important to ensure "the health of ecological systems", as the animals were apex predators in their food chain.

But a declining habitat due to extensive deforestation to make way for oil palm and pulp and paper plantations has played a big part in the decreasing population of tigers in Sumatra.

A study published in the journal Nature Communications last year estimated that the population of Sumatran tigers dropped from 742 adults in the wild in 2000 to 618 in 2012, while an official estimate from the Environment and Forestry Ministry puts the figure at 600.

The population decrease is also caused by illegal poaching, which experts blame on a high demand for tiger body parts used for jewelry or as collection pieces.

"Illegal wildlife trade should be treated as an important case and collaboration among all parties is essential," said Wiratno, the ministry's director general for natural resources and ecosystem conservation, in a statement obtained by The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

In a message for 2018 World Wildlife Day, which this year falls on March 3 and focuses on big cats, IUCN director general Inger Andersen said around 80 percent of the global tiger population had vanished from the wild over the past 21 years. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/03/save-tigers-to-save-forests-activists-say.html

Indonesia to lift ban on military facilities in primary forests

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – The Indonesian government is planning to revise a presidential instruction (Inpres) that prohibits the construction of buildings and other infrastructure, including military-related facilities, on primary forest land and peatland.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in Jakarta on Wednesday that proposed revision of Inpress No. 6/2017 on the permit issuance for primary forest land and peatland came in response to a request by Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu.

Ryamizard called for an exemption in the regulation for the construction of military-related facilities.

Siti said under the Inpres, the government was prohibited from issuing licenses for any development in primary forests and peatland except for the government's strategic projects.

"I think the [Ryamizard's] request is reasonable because defense-related facilities such as military airports are not included on the list of strategic projects," she said at the Presidential Palace.

The Inpres was originally issued in 2011 and has been revised every two years. The latest update was in the form of Inpres No. 6/2017 that was signed in June, last year. "I will study it with my team," Siti said. (bbn) Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/01/indonesia-to-lift-ban-on-military-facilities-in-primary-forests.html

LBGT & same-sex marriage

Mother's request to release arrested transgender daughter ignored

Jakarta Post - March 7, 2018

Jakarta – A West Jakarta official has admitted to ignoring the requests of a mother who sought the release of her arrested transgender daughter from a social house.

Duri Kosambi subdistrict head Irwansyah Alam admitted to wartakota.tribunnews.com that he refused to sign and tore up an official document after one of his residents, Tarnisem, last week requested to take her transgender daughter Ahmad Sehu, also known as Neneng, out of city-owned social house Bina Insan Bangun Daya 1 in Kedoya after Neneng had been arrested by city officials.

"I tore the document so that [Tarnisem] and others wouldn't misuse it," Irwansyah said on Monday, "Just let [Neneng] spend some more time in the social house to create a deterrent effect [to being transgender]."

Neneng was arrested while drinking coffee at a small stall in Cengkareng on her way home from a beauty salon in Glodok where she worked.

"Neneng is the only one who earns money in my family," Tarnisem said, while noting that it took her three days to complete all the administrative requirements to finally be able to take Neneng out of the social house.

"I visited him [Irwansyah] twice to ask him to sign the letter. On Thursday [March 1], he tore the letter while saying, 'I don't want to handle this kind of problem'," Tarnisem said.

The following day, Tarnisem received help from an officer from Cengkareng district and eventually got the desired letter signed by an official. She completed all the administrative requirements and was reunited with Neneng by the afternoon of March 5.

An officer of the social house, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that Neneng had just left the social house with her mother. (vla)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/07/mothers-request-to-release-arrested-transgender-daughter-ignored.html

Vigilantes raid home of 'gay' men who were sent to Islamic school

Gay Star News - March 7, 2018

Shannon Power – A group of vigilantes raided the home of two men who they alleged were gay. They then turned them over to police in Indonesia.

The group stormed the men's room at a boarding house in West Jakarta on Saturday evening. Gay Star News has chosen not to name the men aged 40 and 28 who work in business and as a labourer respectively.

The vigilantes accused them of being a couple and having sex when they raided their home. Neighbors said they became suspicious of them men because they had allegedly seen them hugging.

Police confirmed the mob delivered the men to them by and they were processed at the Palmerah Station.

'Residents raided the rented rented house and found (the men), were living in a relationship like a married couple. By local residents, LGBT couples were brought directly to Palmerah Police. Residents are already suspicious signs LGBT couple,' Chief of Palmerah Police, Kompol Aryono, told Warta Kota.

The men were not charged, but it is understood they were sent to 'prayer rehab' and social conformity classes at Jakarta's Social Services.

A source told Gay Star News the men have been subjected to a 'trial by social media' and condemnation by their own neighbours. Not illegal to be gay, yet

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but the House of Representatives will soon debate a bill that criminalizes homosexual and pre-marital sex.

The latest raid comes amid a two-year crackdown on the LGBTI community that has seen hundreds of men detained on suspicion of being gay.

In Aceh vigilante groups have targeted gay men and trans women which led to the arrest and caning of two men in 2017.

When raiding suspected parties and homes of LGBTI people, police use the country's strict anti-pornography laws to arrest them. Afraid to be gay in Indonesia

A gay man* who lives near the men's home told Gay Star News LGBTI people were becoming more afraid.

'I've heard of police harassment happening around my friends' apartments, but the fact that this is happening so close to where I'm staying is making me feel terribly unsafe,' he said.

'What's worse is that this is caused by fellow neighbours in a private living space.'

[His name has been kept private for his own safety.]

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/vigilantes-raid-home-gay-men-sent-islamic-school-cure/

Corruption & abuse of power

Traffic cop calls motorcyclist 'dog' for not having enough bribe

Coconuts Jakarta - March 7, 2018

Yesterday, a video showing a traffic cop soliciting a bribe from a motorcyclist who was about to get ticketed for carrying excessive baggage went viral on social media in Indonesia.

Not only did the cop ask for a bribe, he called the motorcyclist "anjing" (which literally translates to dog, but is considered more of a grave insult in Indonesian than it is in English) for not being able to pay him IDR150K (US$10.89) to look the other way.

Sure, the motorcyclist did seem to commit at least a couple of traffic violations in the video, but did he deserve to be called a dog – and by a crooked cop, no less?

The motorcyclist certainly didn't think so, as he repeatedly protested the officer's insult, to which the cop eventually gives a half-assed apology.

Then, the cop decided that he would confiscate the motorcycle because the taxes on it were three days late, which led to more protests from the motorcyclist, who said the cop should confiscate his license and registration instead.

Under Indonesia's traffic law, a police officer may use his/her discretion to confiscate a motor vehicle if the motorist cannot not show a valid license or registration, which doesn't seem to be the case in the video.

Based on the conversation and the license plates that were visible in the video, it appears that the incident occurred in Jakarta, and has thus come to the attention of the Jakarta Metro Police's Traffic Directorate.

"We will check and if he is one of our officers, we will take action," said Jakarta Metro Police Traffic Director Halim Pagarra, as quoted by Kumparan today.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/traffic-cop-calls-motorcyclist-dog-not-enough-bribe-money-police-investigate-viral-video/

KPK: Graft refund will not stop investigation

Tempo - March 2, 2018

Aji Nugroho, Jakarta – Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Deputy Chief Basaria Panjaitan confirmed that the refund of corrupted money will not stop the investigation if her office has taken over the case.

"If the KPK takes over the case, could it possibly be stopped? Definitely no," she said Thursday, March 1. "The money can be refunded, but not dismissing the crime."

Basaria responded to the statement by the Jakarta Police's Criminal Investigation Unit Ari Dono Sukmanto, who will consider the suspension of corruption allegation case of the Government Internal Supervisory Apparatus (APIP) if the corrupted money is returned to the state treasury.

Meanwhile, Police Head of Public Relations Setyo Wasisto said that Ari Dono's statement about the termination of corruption investigation made sense.

"Because it takes hundreds of millions of money to investigate the corruption case, if the money which has been returned (by corruptor) is Rp200 million while the investigation costs Rp300 million, it's a loss," he said at Jakarta Police Headquarters on Thursday, March 1.

KPK was not present in the signing of a memorandum between APIP and Law Enforcement Officer (APH) last Wednesday at Grand Sahid Jaya Hotel. Several other law enforcement officers attended the event, namely Ministry of Home Affairs, the Attorney General's Office (AGO), and the National Police.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/02/055916225/KPK-Graft-Refund-will-Not-Stop-Investigation

ICW slams out-of-court settlement policy for corruption cases

Jakarta Post - March 2, 2018

Jakarta – A new policy to terminate a corruption case investigation if the alleged perpetrator is willing to return the embezzled money to the authority has drawn criticism from several corruption watchdogs.

The Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) on Thursday lambasted the policy, which was agreed upon by the Home Ministry, the Attorney General's Office (AGO), the National Police and the Government Internal Supervisory Agency (APIP), calling it an erroneous move.

ICW researcher Almas Sjafrina said the out-of-court settlement policy violated Article 4 of the 2001 Corruption Eradication Law, which had stipulated that returning money taken from corrupt practices would not write off the crime.

"So it's clear that the investigation must go on no matter what," she said as quoted by kompas.com.

The policy aims to build a strong collaboration among related parties to handle corruption in the country.

National Police Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) head Comr. Gen. Ari Dono Sukmanto said the policy would prevent excessive spending in a corruption investigation. He claimed it took Rp 208 million (US$15,121) for authorities to carry out a single investigation.

"We [the state] will be at loss if an alleged perpetrator only embezzled Rp 100 million," he said on Wednesday.

However, he explained, authorities would first take a series of steps before they decided to settle a corruption case out of the court.

"If it involves only maladministration, then it won't go to authorities [the AGO or the police]. But if we found a criminal offense, we will continue to investigate the case," he said. (srs/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/02/icw-slams-out-of-court-settlement-policy-for-corruption-cases.html

Haris Azhar says Syafii Maarif can lead TGPF for Novel Baswedan

Tempo - March 1, 2018

Juli Hantoro, Jakarta – Haris Azhar, the former coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said the only way to uncover the assault on Novel Baswedan is to form a joint fact-finding team or TGPF.

"The case cannot be handled solely addressed by the police. A TGPF will be composed of people who are competent and have the capacity to be trusted by the public to collect and search for powerful information, which shows the depravity behind this heinous crime against the Novel," Haris told Tempo on Thursday, March 1.

Novel Baswedan was attacked on April 11 last year. He had hydrochloric acid (HCl) thrown at him by two unidentified men when he had just finished a morning prayer at a mosque near his home in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta. The attack left injuries on his face and left eye, which forced him to undergo treatment in Singapore.

It has been 10 months since the attack, but so far there has not been any significant progress on its investigation.

According to Haris, a fact-finding team will help solve the investigation. He said the team can consist of four community members, one from the police force, one from the KPK, and another from the State Secretariat. "The can be helmed by Buya Syafii Maarif," he said.

The team, he added, will have four major tasks: reviewing the case's investigation, listening to witnesses' testimonies, make progress reports to be submitted to the President and the public, and make recommendations to the President related legal proceedings.

The call to establish a TGPF to help solve the attack on Novel Baswedan continues to be voiced by civil society coalitions, including through an online petition that already has some 77,000 signatories.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/01/055916202/Haris-Azhar-Says-Syafii-Maarif-Can-Lead-TGPF-for-Novel-Baswedan

Jokowi shows signal to establish TGPF for Novel Baswedan case

Tempo - March 1, 2018

Jakarta – President Joko Widodo or Jokowi started showing signal to establish a joint fact-finding team (TGPF) concerning the attack against KPK senior investigator Novel Baswedan.

Presidential spokesman Johan Budi stated the President will once again summon Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian and question the progress of the investigation. "Before deciding to form TGPF, the President wants to hear the progress report of the investigation by the Police Chief," said Johan at the State Palace, as published by Koran Tempo on Thursday, March 1.

Johan said Jokowi asked Tito to not only find the suspect, but also the main actor or the planner behind the crime. "Because every law enforcement, not only Novel, while carrying out the task, especially in eradicating corruption, should not experience terror, intimidation," he asserted.

Two unidentified men splashed Novel with acid water after he had morning prayers near his residence on April 11, last year. Several people had allegedly stalked and supervised Novel and family about two months before the incident. However, the joint team of Jakarta Police has yet gained any progress in handling the case until its 323rd day.

Police always argued to have difficulty in uncovering the assault despite many witnesses present at the crime scene. Some peculiarity surrounded the investigation process conducted by the police, including the alleged attempt to eliminate the evidence, a suspect's fingerprint in the cup containing acid water.

Jakarta police spokesman Comm. Argo Yuwono claimed his institution was able to solve Novel case. He said the investigators were still working hard to collect some information and guidance about the suspect. "We don't need to (form TGPF). We are still working, even cooperating with KPK investigators. We had meetings from the very beginning," Argo said.

Novel Baswedan declared he was ready to undergo additional examination after his second major operation at March-end. However, he was skeptical the police will solve the case. He criticized the accusation to him that he was uncooperative during the investigation was truly inappropriate. "We (Novel and Police investigators) had discussions for a long time (in Novel's house), not a chitchat, but in-depth conversation related to the attack against me," Novel said.

However, Novel Baswedan assumed President Jokowi had the responsibility to settle the case through the establishment of TGPF. The thought was also conveyed by Novel's legal counsel Haris Azhar since no more important clue could be dug up by the police from Novel. Haris stated all the information and evidence possessed by the police was enough to figure out the suspect. "The question now is the police willing to reveal (the case)," said Haris.

– Fransisco Rosarians Enga Geken, Imam Hamdi, Dewi Nurita, Friski Riana

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/01/055916211/Jokowi-Shows-Signal-to-Establish-TGPF-for-Novel-Baswedan-Case

If left unsolved, Novel's attack could be Jokowi's 'political

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2018

Jakarta – The authorities have been called on to step up efforts to complete their investigation into the acid attack against Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) senior investigator Novel Baswedan, which has remained unsolved after 10 months.

Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, the chairman of the youth wing of Indonesia's second biggest Islamic organization Muhammadiyah, said the attack on Novel could potentially reduce President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's popularity ahead of the 2019 presidential election if he did not move quickly to solve the case.

"This is because Pak Jokowi's main political promises were on human rights abuse settlements and the fight against corruption. If neither are achieved, it could become Jokowi's 'political grave'," said Dahnil, as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.

He said the attack on Novel was not simply an attack on an individual, but an attack on Indonesia's efforts to eradicate corruption.

"Novel was attacked because of his position as part of the state apparatus committed to combating corruption. This attack was an attack on our dreams as a nation as well," said Dahnil.

Acid was thrown on Novel's face as he walked home after performing a predawn (subuh) prayer at Al-Ikhsan Mosque in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, on April 11, 2017.

After the attack, Novel was rushed to Mitra Hospital in Kelapa Gading before being taken to the Jakarta Eye Center. His severely injured eyes could not be treated in Indonesia and doctors advised that Novel seek treatment in Singapore. Novel underwent his first round of eye surgery on Aug.17, 2017. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/01/if-left-unsolved-novels-attack-could-be-jokowis-political-grave.html

KPK names Setya's nephew suspect in e-ID case

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – The nephew of former House of Representatives speaker and graft defendant Setya Novanto, Irvanto Hendra Pambudi, has become the latest suspect in the multimillion dollar graft case pertaining to the mega e-ID procurement project.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) moved to name Irvanto along with businessman Made Oka Masagung as suspects on Wednesday following recent developments in the case, as Setya sat as a defendant under trial at the Jakarta Corruption Court.

The KPK accused Irvanto and Made of collecting sums of money that were eventually channeled to Setya, who is also a former Golkar party chairman.

"IHP allegedly accepted money gradually totalling US$3.5 million. [Meanwhile], MOM allegedly received US$3.8 million through his two companies," KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo said on Wednesday, using Irvanto and Made's initials.

The KPK also suspected that Made played a role as a middleman and transferred a 5-percent commitment fee for several House lawmakers, which was allegedly acknowledged by Irvanto.

Irvanto is the director of PT Murakabi Sejahtera, a security printing company and part of the Murakabi consortium that bid against PNRI and the Astra Graphia consortium to win the project in 2011. Meanwhile, Made is allegedly the owner of PT Delta Energi, a Singapore-based investment company.

Irvanto and Made became the seventh and eighth individuals to be named as suspects in the graft case, after Setya, former Home Ministry officials Irman and Sugiharto, businessmen Andi Agustinus, aka Andi Narogong, and Anang Sugiana Sudihardjo and Golkar politician Markus Nari.

Irman, Sugiharto and Andi have been found guilty by the court, while Setya's trial, as well as the investigation into Anang and Markus, are still ongoing. (rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/01/KPK-names-setyas-nephew-suspect-in-e-id-case.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Radical cleric Bashir not qualified to request house arrest, says

Straits Times - March 5, 2018

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Jakarta – The Indonesian government cannot entertain the request by the country's most influential militant cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, to be placed under home detention as such a request can be filed only by a defendant who is either appealing against or awaiting a court verdict.

Since Bashir has already been convicted and is serving his 15 years' jail sentence, the 79-year-old Jemaah Islamiah (JI) spiritual leader is not qualified to even file for the request, Mr Adek Kusmanto, a spokesman for the Law and Human Rights Ministry, told The Straits Times on Monday (March 5).

Mr Adek has earlier told state news agency Antara that Bashir, however, is eligible to file a request for clemency, a presidential pardon, and could potentially be allowed to go home, as he meets all the requirements.

"He is old. His age is above 70 and he suffers chronic illness," Mr Adek said. He added that if Bashir does not wish to go with a clemency request, he would then have to stay in jail and the government would ensure he gets proper medical treatment.

"Anytime he needs medical treatment, we will try our best to work with the National Counter Terrorism Agency (BNPT) and the hospital," Mr Adek was quoted by Antara as saying.

Last week, Bashir's lawyer Fachmi Bachmid told The Straits Times that Bashir would not apply for clemency as that would mean admitting guilt. "It's certain that we won't do that. But we are asking for home detention. He is old and sickly. It is human rights," he said.

Bashir was rushed to hospital last Thursday, guarded by elite police. Mr Adek also told The Straits Times that Bashir was not hospitalised last week and has been scheduled to go back to the hospital on Thursday for a follow-up observation of his chronic venous insufficiency, where his leg veins do not allow blood to travel back to the heart.

Bashir was sentenced to 15 years' jail in 2011 for inciting others to commit terror acts and helping to fund a paramilitary training camp in Aceh that the police raided the year before.

In April 2016, the authorities moved him from the maximum security Nusakambangan island prison in Central Java, where he was locked in an isolation cell, to Gunung Sindur prison outside Jakarta.

The transfer of the founder of the South-east Asian terror network to the smaller state penitentiary near a major city was to ensure that he could receive proper medical treatment, the government said.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/radical-cleric-abu-bakar-bashir-not-qualified-to-request-house-arrest-says-government

Australia opposes clemency for Indonesia's radical cleric Abu Bakar

Associated Press - March 3, 2018

The Indonesian government is considering house arrest or other forms of clemency for the ailing radical cleric who was the ideological leader of the Bali bombers and is now in prison for helping to fund a jihadist training camp.

Wiranto, the government's top security minister, said on Friday that a meeting of security ministers and police will make a recommendation on Abu Bakar Bashir's treatment to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

"Clemency, pardon, house arrest or just hospital treatment. It will be discussed in the near future and will be reported to the president," said Wiranto, who uses a single name.

Bashir, who turns 80 in August, was treated in a Jakarta hospital on Thursday for pooling of blood in the legs, a common condition in the elderly known as chronic venous insufficiency, and later returned to prison.

Defence minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said on Thursday that the government plans to place Bashir under house arrest so he can be cared for by his family or transfer him to a prison near his hometown, Solo in Central Java, according to local media.

His numerous sympathizers hope Jokowi will grant him a permanent release due to his poor health, a move that would help mend fences between hard-line Muslims and Jokowi ahead of a presidential election in 2019 but alarm allies such as the United States and Australia. Jokowi's approval ratings remain high with the broader Indonesian public.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's office on Saturday described Bashir as the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreigners including 88 Australians.

Bishop's office said in a statement that Australians expected justice to continue to be served to "the full extent that Indonesian law allows."

"Abu Bakar Bashir should never be allowed to incite others to carry other future attacks against innocent civilians," the statement added.

Bashir was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011 for supporting a military-style training camp for Islamic militants.

The firebrand cleric was arrested almost immediately after the Bali bombing. But prosecutors were unable to prove a string of terrorism-related allegations. He was instead sentenced to 18 months in prison for immigration violations.

Jokowi's spokesman, Johan Budi, said the president will review the case, and house arrest is "possible under the law."

He said a suggestion to pardon Bashir came from Indonesian Ulema Council chairman Ma'ruf Amin and would require Bashir to apply for clemency.

That appears unlikely as it would involve Bashir recognising secular authority. After being sentenced in 2011, he said he rejected the conviction because it was based on "infidel" law.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/03/abu-bakar-bashir-indonesia-to-consider-clemency-radical-cleric-bali

Freedom of religion & worship

Allow students to wear niqab, university urged

Jakarta Post - March 7, 2018

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – Members of several Muslim organizations descended on Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University (UIN) in Yogyakarta to seek clarification over the campus' decision to ban female students from wearing the niqab.

"We object if the university really imposed the ban," said Fadlun Amin, a spokesman for the Yogyakarta branch of the Ukhuwah Islamiyah Forum (FUI), on Wednesday.

The FUI, along with the Yogyakarta Mosque Activists Forum and several other organizations, asked for a meeting with the campus' management. They were welcomed by Waryono, the university's deputy rector.

At the meeting, the organizations asked the university not to put restrictions on students wearing the niqab on campus.

"The UIN is an institution that can accept differences, so accept it. Let students wear the niqab in accordance with their faith," said Fadlun who is a lecturer at Ahmad Dahlan University in Yogyakarta.

He added that the university said there were no specific restrictions. The organizations also asked for a direct meeting with the rector to clarify the matter. "If there are restrictions, we will take further steps," Fadlun said.

Waryono welcomed the visit and dialogue with the organizations, especially the discussions about a tolerant Islam. He added that the university would still enact regulations on students, including campus attire.

Rector Yudian Wahyudi said the university decided to prohibit the niqab and offer a counseling program to students in order to promote a moderate Islamic dress code as well as to prevent religious extremism on campus.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/07/allow-students-to-wear-niqab-university-urged.html

Indonesian Islamic university bans burqas on campus

Reuters - March 7, 2018

Jakarta – An Indonesian state Islamic university faced criticism from Muslim groups and activists on Wednesday after it banned female students from wearing full-face veils citing fears over the spread of radical ideology on the campus.

Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population, the majority of whom practice a moderate form of Islam.

But the country has seen a recent rise in more conservative interpretations of the religion, which many see as a threat to its long-standing reputation for religious tolerance and diversity.

The State Islamic University (UIN) in Yogyakarta city, on Java island, said it had 41 students using the full veil, or burqa, who would be offered counseling sessions and ultimately be asked to take off the veil if they wanted to graduate.

The Islamic Defenders Front, a conservative group that campaigns against activities it deems un-Islamic, said in a statement the policy "did not make sense" and was in conflict with the country's efforts to preserve diversity.

A women's rights activist decried what she described as a limitation on the freedom of women to wear what they want.

"Using full-face veils is a choice and we cannot interfere in their choice and their freedom," said the activist, Lathiefah Widuri Retyaningtyas.

University rector Yudian Wahyudi said radicalization, as exemplified by the burqas, undermined learning.

"Female students wearing the burqa, and radical groups, they are disturbing the teaching process," Wahyudhi said. "We are putting moderate Islam forward," he said, adding that the policy was a "preventive action to save the students".

Students would be allowed to continue using regular headscarves that do not cover the face, he said.

A recent survey showed that nearly a fifth of high school and university students support the establishment of a caliphate over the current secular government.

The data has alarmed authorities already struggling to contain the growing influence of both peaceful and militant Islamist groups in the world's third-largest democracy.

[Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Jessica Damiana; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Robert Birsel.]

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-religion-burqa/indonesian-islamic-university-bans-burqas-on-campus-idUKKCN1GJ19M

Muhammadiyah against burka ban in UIN Yogyakarta

Tempo - March 6, 2018

Pribadi Wicaksono, Jakarta – The burka ban that was introduced by Yogyakarta State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga (UIN Yogyakarta) was met with criticism from a representative of Islamic organization Muhammadiyah.

"The ban on the use of burka at this campus is truly shallow. Burka is just a symbol," said Azman Latif, Deputy Chairman of Muhammadiyah in Yogyakarta on Tuesday, March 6.

According to Azman, the use of burka is merely someone's actualization of faith towards their religion. "The burka ban introduced by the university does not guarantee that it will erase the seeds of radicalism or intolerance," he said.

Furthermore, Azman argued that technical policies that regulate someone's clothing cannot help eradicate radicalism.

Meanwhile, head of Nahdalatul Ulama Yogyakarta chapter Nizar Ali countered Azman's argument and said that he has no problem with the burka ban since campus management has the autonomy to do so.

The Rector of State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga prohibited its students to wear burkas during campus activities. He warned that he would expel 41 burka-wearing students (based on the campus' data) if they refuse to not wear the burka.

The Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Education Muhammad Nasir asked UIN Yogyakarta management to avoid limiting the rights of female students to wear a burka.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/06/055916359/Muhammadiyah-Against-Burka-Ban-in-UIN-Yogyakarta

Islamic university banning face veil in crackdown of radicalism on

Coconuts Jakarta - March 6, 2018

An Islamic university in the city of Yogyakarta is at the center of a religious controversy over its decision to ban the niqab (face-covering veil worn by Muslim women) on campus.

The dean of Sunan Kalijaga Islamic State University (UIN), Yudian Wahyudi, announced the school would enforce a niqab ban on the university's premises, threatening violators of the policy with expulsion.

"There are 41 that we noted were wearing the niqab from all faculties on campus," Yudian said as quoted by Viva yesterday. "If they dare [to wear the niqab], then please leave the campus. If the policy is wrong, I'm ready to be fired."

Yudian said the no niqab policy has actually existed for a long time and that all students were made aware of the regulation when they joined the university.

However, Yudian's justification for enforcing the policy is not due to practical reasons, such as preventing identity fraud. Instead it seems be driven (rather ironically for an Islamic university) by the idea, held by many Islamophobes, that the niqab is inherently associated with Islamic radicalism.

"We also know that students who wear the niqab tend to forget about their parents. The university is going to communicate with the parents of the niqab wearing students," Yudian said.

Yudian also indicated that UIN will fire niqab-wearing professors, as well as educators who have proven to have links to radical groups like Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), which was banned by the government last year.

Research and Higher Education Minister Mohamad Nasir said women had the right to wear whatever they want, but recognized that UIN might have its own reasons for enacting the ban. "I leave it to the dean for issues like that," Mohamad said yesterday, as quoted by Viva.

Umi Kalsum, a student at UIN who wears a niqab, said there have never been any prohibitions against the face veil until recently, which she believes is a knee-jerk reaction to rumors that radical groups have infiltrated the university.

"If they tell me to take it off, I will ask why because I wear the veil for me. There are many reasons [why I wear it], they're private," she told Viva.

Although Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country in which a large percentage of Muslim women wear hijab (headscarves), the number of women who wear the niqab is relatively quite small, though there is evidence to suggest it is slowly becoming more mainstream. However, many who wear the face veil here say they are still looked upon with suspicion and get "weird looks" while out in public spaces.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/islamic-university-indonesia-banning-niqab-face-veil-crackdown-radicalism-campus/

State Islamic University in Yogyakarta bars burkas on campus

Tempo - March 5, 2018

Muh Syaifullah, Jakarta – The Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University (UIN Suka) in Yogyakarta has barred its female students from wearing burkas during any campus activity.

University Rector Yudian Wahyudi said there would be seven warnings and counseling sessions before the university expelled its female students who insisted on wearing burkas. A burka is an Islamic veil covering the entire body only leaving the area around the eyes exposed.

"According to our records, there are 41 students that wear burkas from various faculties at the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University," he said on Monday, March 5.

Yudian explained the UIN had formed a counseling team to nurture the 41 burka-wearing female students. He explained these students would be dismissed should they refuse to cooperate with campus policies after participating in seven counseling sessions.

Yudian added the UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta is a state-university that is based on moderate Islamic views, most notably known as 'Nusantara Islam'. These viewpoints on Islam acknowledge Indonesia's 1945 Constitution, the Pancasila state ideology, and the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

"We also know that students who wear burkas sometimes forget about their own parents. The campus management will also communicate this issue with the student's parents," said Yudian.

The UIN Suka is thus far still the only campus in Yogyakarta to place a ban on burkas, while another state-university in the province, Gadjah Mada University, has yet to issue a similar policy. Gadjah Mada opts to adopt a more persuasive strategy by fostering the value of nationalism as opposed to banning burkas.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/05/055916304/State-Islamic-University-in-Yogyakarta-Bars-Burkas-on-Campus

Protesting university ban on Islamic veil, students say 'we have

Viva - March 5, 2018

The new policy by the Yogyakarta Islamic State University (UIN) banning students from wearing a niqab while studying on campus has attracted support and opposition from the public.

The policy has also been rejected by students who wear the niqab [a full Islamic veil which conceals the face but leaves the eyes exposed, called a cadar in Indonesian – JB].

One of the students at the UIN Sunan Kalijaga in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta who took part in a protest against the ban is Umi Kalsum.

"Please go ahead and record how many students wear a niqab, but banning it, well I don't agree. We have rights don't we", said Umi in Yogyakarta on Monday March 5.

Umi believes that the UIN policy of recording students who wear a niqab may be because of the recent emergence of Islamic radicalism on the campus located on Jl. Laksda Adisutjipto.

"It was just recorded on account of the issue of radicalism on campus. But if there's discrimination on campus (because of wearing a niqab) then no, I'm just not comfortable with this policy", she said.

Umi Kalsum says that before the data collection by campus authorities, there was never any ban on wearing a niqab for students carrying out academic activities on campus.

Although they felt surprised by the data collection, Umi said she would still attend if summoned by campus authorities.

"If I'm summoned then yes I'll go. But supposing I'm ordered to remove it (the niqab) then yes I will ask on what grounds because I wear a niqab for my own reasons. Yes there are many reasons, personal reasons", she said.

Umi said that for as long as she has warn a niqab and taken part in studies on campus there has never been any discrimination between students who wear the niqab and those that do not. (ren)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "UIN Yogyakarta Larang Cadar, Mahasiswi: Kami kan Punya Hak".]

Source: https://www.viva.co.id/berita/nasional/1013309-uin-yogyakarta-larang-cadar-mahasiswi-kami-kan-punya-hak

Poverty & social inequity

Cigarette maker tops Forbes Indonesia billionaires list

Jakarta Post - March 7, 2018

Jakarta – Five Indonesians made the list of 2,208 billionaires from 72 countries and territories worldwide released by Forbes on Tuesday.

The five Indonesians are R. Budi Hartono, Michael Hartono, Sri Prakash Lohia, Tahir and Chairul Tanjung.

Americans lead the way with a record 585 billionaires, followed by China with 373, according to www.forbes.com. Billionaire Jeff Bezos secured the list's top spot for the first time. The elite group is worth a combined US$9.1 trillion, up 18 percent since last year.

R. Budi Hartono is not new to the list. He is ranked in 69th position with a fortune of $17.4 billion, a sharp increase in wealth from his $9 billion recorded last year. Budi was the owner of Djarum cigarette firm and a shareholder in various businesses, properties, technologies and banks.

Michael Hartono, Budi's brother, is listed in 75th position with his fortune rising to $16.7 million from $8.9 billion last year.

Sri Prakash Lohia, a polyester businessman, is listed in 228th position with a total fortune of $7 billion, up from $5.4 billion last year.

Tahir is listed in 652nd position with a fortune of $3.5 billion, up from $2.8 billion last year. He is the founder of Mayapada Group, a company with interests in banking, a hospital chain and most prominently, real estate. Tahir owns the recently completed Strait Trading Building in Singapore.

An active philanthropist, Tahir, the son in law of Lippo Group founder Mochtar Riady, has donated millions to address the worldwide refugee crisis and to promote education in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Chairul Tanjung, the founder of CT Corp, is also listed in 652nd position with a fortune of $3.5 billion, down from $4.6 billion last year. His business interests include television, retail, hotels and banks. In July 2017, Forbes reported that Chairul had sold 49 percent of CT Group. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/07/five-indonesians-make-forbes-2018-billionaires-list.html

Jakarta & urban life

Jakarta's gridlock will be biggest hurdle at 18th Asian Games

Bloomberg - March 6, 2018

Fathiya Dahrul – With barely six months to go for Asia's biggest sporting event, the main challenge is not the readiness of venues or athlete villages – but Jakarta's notorious traffic.

The Asian Games managers are now seeking to shut down schools and stagger office hours to ease traffic snarls and ensure the 18th edition of the event runs smoothly, said Erick Thohir, chairman of the Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee.

The organizers also want a dedicated road lane for the thousands of participating athletes and officials, he said.

Jakarta and port city of Palembang in South Sumatra will jointly host the quadrennial event from Aug. 18, the first time the Southeast Asian country will organize the sporting extravaganza since 1962. More than 15,000 athletes and officials from 45 countries will vie for honors in 47 sporting disciplines – more than the 30 sports at the Tokyo summer Olympics in 2020.

"The Asian Games is as big as Olympics in terms of participation of athletes and officials," said Thohir, who is also the president of FC Internazionale Milano SpA, or Inter Milan, and D.C. United. "If you consider the number of sports, Asian Games will be bigger with 47 disciplines. The only concern about the success of this edition remains traffic in Jakarta."

The streets of Jakarta, a city of about 10 million people and the epicenter of business for Southeast Asia's biggest economy, are often congested, with traffic jams creating a major obstacle to logistics and economic activity.

To overcome the problem, the provincial government is planning an electronic toll system to be rolled out in March 2019, when the first stage of a metro train service is completed.

With more than 10 million motorcycles and as many as 4 million cars already on Jakarta's streets, the city administration is already toying with the idea of a congestion tax to discourage use of private vehicles. The city already has an odd-even rule linked to vehicle registration numbers for some of its busiest streets.

President Joko Widodo held a special meeting of his cabinet on Tuesday and directed officials to complete the construction of stadiums and sporting venues for the games at the earliest.

A successful conclusion of the Asian Games will also stimulate the nation's economy and tourism, Thohir said. Participants of the Asian Games will be issued one-month visas that the organizers hope will draw athletes and spectators to famous tourist destinations like Bali and Borobodur, he said.

The Asian Games will cost about 6.6 trillion rupiah ($480 million), according to the organizing committee. About 54 hotels in three cities are expected to be fully occupied during the event, boosting the hospitality and transportation industries, Thohir said.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-06/biggest-challenge-to-asia-s-top-sporting-event-jakarta-traffic

Criminalizing act of listening to music while driving exaggerated:

Jakarta Post - March 2, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta Police traffic division's statement that listening to music while driving is a criminal act is an exaggerated interpretation of the law, experts say.

A criminal law expert from Trisakti University, Abdul Fickar Hadjar, said criminalizing the act would be an extreme measure as listening to music did not affect motorists' concentration.

"Reciprocal acts like communicating via phone while driving can indeed disrupt someone's concentration, but listening to music or the radio is another thing," Abdul said as quoted by kompas.com.

Abdul further argued that listening to the radio was useful as it provided information to motorists.

Traffic division chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Budiyanto said recently that acts such as listening to music, watching television and smoking while driving could disrupt motorists' concentration.

Meanwhile, Article 106 of Law No. 22/2009 on traffic and land transportation stipulates that motorist must drive with full concentration.

Therefore, Budiyanto said, the acts, could be deemed as violations of the law, and violators could face three months in jail. Abdul said the police should not haphazardly interpret the law.

Separately, a School of Law professor at the University of Indonesia, Topo Santoso, said the interpretation of a law should be followed by research and valid data. "Broad interpretations can limit public freedom," he said. (vny)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/02/criminalizing-act-of-listening-to-music-while-driving-exaggerated-experts.html

Activist criticizes Jakarta's move to allow hawkers on sidewalks

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2018

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The Pedestrian Coalition has criticized the Jakarta administration's move to allow street vendors to occupy sidewalks in Melawai, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, saying such policies may sacrifice the interests of pedestrians.

Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno previously said street vendors were needed by pedestrians and employees working in nearby offices looking for affordable meals.

Offices in Melawai, including state-owned electricity firm PLN, did not provide such facilities, he said. Sandiaga said the administration would provide space for pedestrians on the sidewalks.

The coalition's chairman, Alfred Sitorus, said the need for affordable meals was not a good enough reason to allow street vendors to operate on sidewalks.

"It's true that pedestrians and residents need affordable meals, but that doesn't mean the city administration should open sidewalks to hawkers," Alfred said on Thursday.

The city administration should provide other spaces for the vendors and comply with a prevailing regulation on public order and the Traffic Law, he added.

"If pedestrians asked the administration to let hawkers do business on sidewalks in front of State Palace or embassy buildings, would the administration also grant such requests?" Alfred said.

Alfred said an increasing number of hawkers had occupied city sidewalks since the city administration closed Jl. Jatibaru Raya in December last year to accommodate street vendors.

The vendors could easily be found, among others, on sidewalks on Gatot Subroto and Pasar Minggu in South Jakarta, he added.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/01/activist-criticizes-jakartas-move-to-allow-hawkers-on-sidewalks.html

Transport & communication

Groups to challenge phone registration policy over security

Jakarta Post - March 5, 2018

Jakarta – Three civil society organizations (CSO) have announced plans to legally challenge the government's mandatory phone registration policy, arguing that it compromised the safety of private data.

The Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers), the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) and the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) said they have compiled reports from mobile phone users who claimed their personal information had been stolen because of the program.

One user, for example, reported that despite having only one phone number, his family card (KK) and citizenship identity (NIK) numbers had been registered under 50 different SIM cards.

"Forcing or requiring [mobile phone users] to submit their personal data to their mobile provider, which is a third and a private party, without any [security] guarantee is terrible," PBHI program coordinator Julius Ibrani told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

He added that a lawsuit against the program would seek to protect the personal data of mobile phone users.

"Giving our personal data to the government is all right because it has the responsibility to guarantee its security [...] But the government can't force us to give our personal data to a third private party," he said.

He also highlighted the fact that the parties authorized to block unregistered prepaid mobile numbers were telecommunication providers, instead of the government.

The Communications and Information Ministry kicked off its registration program in October 2017, requiring all mobile phone users to register their phone numbers along with their KK and NIK by Feb. 28.

Users could either submit their data via text or at their respective mobile providers.

The Ministry announced on Wednesday that starting on March 1, providers will block unregistered mobile numbers.

Users will still be able to receive calls and text messages during a grace period until March 31, after which incoming calls and texts will also be blocked. Should they fail to comply by May 1, all services on their phone will be blocked.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/05/groups-to-challenge-phone-registration-policy-over-security-concerns.html

Retail & service industry

Commercial vehicle sales rebound in Indonesia

Nikkei Asian Review - March 3, 2018

Jun Suzuki, Jakarta – Indonesia saw a jump in commercial vehicle sales last year as the government's push for infrastructure and tourism development lifted demand, as did a recovery in resource prices.

The Indonesia International Commercial Vehicle Expo, the country's first trade fair for the category, opened here Thursday, drawing about 30 exhibitors, including such Japanese companies as Toyota Motor and Hino Motors and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus, and its German parent, Daimler.

Transportation industry insiders flocked to the displays of trucks and other vehicles. Yohannes Nangoi, chairman of the expo organizer, the Association of Indonesian Automotive Industries, said commercial vehicles sales probably will continue to push overall auto sales in 2018 and beyond.

Combined sales of commercial vehicles and construction machinery increased 18% on the year in 2017 to around 240,000 units, with truck sales soaring more than 40%.

Mitsubishi Fuso's sales climbed 32% to 41,600 units, and Hino, a Toyota group company, enjoyed a 35% rise to 29,000 units.

Production of construction machinery such as dump trucks and excavators probably exceeded forecasts by nearly 30% last year, reaching 5,900 units, according to an industry group. Demand may hit a record 10,000 this year, some project.

One of three major factors driving the market is the massive infrastructure development initiative of President Joko Widodo's government.

The program, estimated to cost around 5 quadrillion rupiah ($363 billion), aims to build roads, bridges, railways, ports, airports and power plants across the country. Highways totaling about 1,000km are to be built by 2019, with around 560km completed so far.

There are no signs of momentum slowing as more projects take shape, such as a highway to connect the northern and southern parts of the Sumatra island, said an executive of a major construction company.

The second big impetus is tourism promotion. Foreign visitors increased 21% on the year last year to around 14 million, and the government hopes to bring the count to 20 million yearly by 2019. Widodo's vision of 10 tourism hubs outside of Bali, his "New Balis" strategy, calls for construction of airports and ports.

The third driver is a recovery in resource prices after a few years of decline from 2012-2013 peaks. Indonesia's coal output grew 7% last year.

Currently, the Indonesian market for commercial vehicles ranks between Nos. 10 and 20 in the world. But the population of over 260 million is the fourth-largest, and the biggest in Southeast Asia. The economy is expected to maintain robust growth of 5.3% this year, according to the World Bank projection. So the market could grow to 500,000 or 1 million units in the coming years.

Auto manufacturers around the world are scrambling to jump on this opportunity. In January, Daimler created Daimler Commercial Vehicles Indonesia to produce and sell large trucks and other vehicles. Markus Villinger, CEO of the local unit, expressed hopes for further market expansion, highlighting the remarkable growth of the logistics network and infrastructure in the country.

At the expo, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus showcased its new Fighter medium-duty truck, an example of its expanded lineup. Volvo will supply buses to the transit system in the capital, and Tata Motors of India released a compact bus last year.

Japanese automakers dominate Indonesia's passenger vehicle market with a collective market share exceeding 90%. Their competitors are therefore focusing on the commercial segment to ride its expansion.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Commercial-vehicle-sales-rebound-in-Indonesia

Armed forces & defense

TNI chief appoints new Kopassus, Navy Western Fleet commanders

Jakarta Globe - March 5, 2018

Telly Nathalia, Jakarta – Indonesian Military chief Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto has appointed new commanders to the Army Special Forces Command, or Kopassus, and the Navy's Western Fleet Command, in a fresh rotation of high-ranking officers on Friday (02/03).

A total of 35 officers between the ranks of colonel and three-star general – 16 from the Army, 14 from the Navy and five from the Air Force – have been moved to new posts, some in preparation for their retirement.

"The rotations are made to meet the organization needs of the TNI [Indonesian Military]... and to optimize military duties, which are [now] more complex and dynamic," the military said in a statement on Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Eko Margiyono, who previously served as governor of the military academy, has been appointed as commander of Kopassus to replace Maj. Gen. Madsuni, who now heads Military District Command XIII Merdeka, which is responsible for North Sulawesi, Gorontalo and Central Sulawesi.

First Adm. Yudo Margono meanwhile, who previously served as head of the Military Sealift Command, now commands the Western Fleet, which consists of five Navy bases situated in Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan.

He replaces Rear Adm. Aan Kurnia, who has been promoted as operational assistant to the chief of the Navy.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/tni-chief-appoints-new-kopassus-navy-western-fleet-commanders/

Criminal justice & legal system

Jokowi needs multidimensional dialogue on Criminal Code bill:

Jakarta Post - March 5, 2018

Jakarta – The National Alliance for Criminal Code Reforms has called on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to open talks with experts from various fields to discuss the Criminal Code bill currently being deliberated at the House of Representatives.

The Alliance said Jokowi's recent meeting with four legal experts, namely Mahfud MD, Luhut Pangaribuan, Maruarar Siahaan and Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, sent a signal that the bill was discussed with only a few legal experts despite the fact that it would have wide-ranging impacts once it was passed into law.

"The bill may have a broad range of impacts on all aspects of human life, such as health, women's empowerment and child protection issues," said Erasmus Napitupulu, the managing director of the Alliance, in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Erasmus said the Alliance was of the opinion that it was unnecessary for the House and the government to pass the bill on April 19 as expected, because there had not yet been enough preparations for its immediate ratification.

The Alliance perceived the current pressure for the immediate ratification of the Criminal Code bill to be only aimed at appeasing the romantic sentiment of certain parties, who wanted to get rid of Dutch colonialist elements in the current law.

"There is no country in this world that has claimed originality of their laws. Our current Criminal Code draft revision has been composed mainly with that kind of romanticism as its basis," Erasmus said.

"The President should hold a multidimensional dialogue and consultation to protect, respect and improve political and civil freedoms in society." (gis/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/05/jokowi-needs-multidimensional-dialogue-on-criminal-code-bill-alliance.html

New narcotics chief says he'll keep policy of shooting resisting

Coconuts Jakarta - March 5, 2018

Last Wednesday, the former head of Indonesia's National Narcotics Agency (BNN), Budi Waseso, retired and handed over the reigns of the drug enforcement agency to his successor, Heru Winarko, who had previously been the law enforcement deputy of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Budi's tenure as the head of BNN will probably be remembered for two things: one silly (his plans to build a remote island prison for drug dealers, guarded by crocodiles, which made for mocking international headlines but never materialized) and one deadly serious – the sharp increase in the number of drug dealers shot and killed by police, allegedly while resisting arrest.

While some are optimistic that Heru's experience with the KPK will help improve the integrity of BNN, the new drug czar indicated that he would continue Budi's policy of asking officers to shoot drug dealers immediately should they show any signs of resistance.

"I also have experience with drug dealers, if they are resisting and they have a weapon, yes there is no choice (other than shooting them)," Heru said when asked about the policy during a press conference at BNN's Jakarta office today as quoted by Kompas.

Indonesia is known for having incredibly harsh drug laws, including the death penalty for high-level drug dealers. However, the government has essentially put a moratorium on the death penalty following international condemnation surrounding previous rounds of executions, the last of which took place in July 2016.

But since then, both Budi and President Joko Widodo spoke often about the need for police officers arresting drug dealers to "not hesitate" to shoot if they met any resistance.

Many thought their words echoed those of Philippine's President Rodrigo Duterte, who commanded his police force to aggressively go after drug dealers and shoot any who resisted. With a death toll now in the thousands (as many as 12,000 by the estimation of some activists), there is extensive evidence to show that many of those killed in Duterte's drug war did not resist but were executed by police officers.

While the drug war's casualties are not nearly as bad numerically in Indonesia, the president and the former BNN chief's harsh language clearly had a disturbing impact on drug enforcement tactics. In 2017, police reported shooting and killing 79 suspected drug dealers who supposedly resisted arrest. That's a huge increase from the 14 killed under the same circumstances in 2016 and the 10 killed in 2015.

There is, of course, the possibility that Heru simply said he would maintain Budi's shoot-if-resisting policy since saying otherwise might be very problematic (surveys show that Indonesians overwhelmingly approve of the death penalty for drug dealers). We'll just have to wait and see if the drug war's body count keeps increasing under his watch.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/new-narcotics-agency-chief-says-hell-keep-predecessors-policy-shooting-resisting-drug-dealers/

Jokowi conveys support for harsh sentences for convicted corruptors

Jakarta Globe - March 3, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Thursday (01/03) expressed approval toward recent steps taken by the Supreme Court to uphold justice in the archipelago and conveyed support of "heavy punishment" for corruptors and drug dealers.

In a statement issued by the Cabinet Secretariat, Jokowi said during an annual plenary meeting in Jakarta that the government will continue to support the Supreme Court to realize a clean, fair and dignified justice system.

"[A Supreme Court] that gives heavy punishments and serves as a deterrent effect towards corruptors, drug dealers, terrorists, and anyone who harms Indonesia's unity and obstructs our justice," Jokowi said during his keynote speech.

The president on Thursday appointed Insp. Gen. Heru Winarko as the new chief of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), replacing now retired Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso.

According to a statement, Heru said he will continue Budi's policies, which on various occasions, the former BNN chief instructed law enforcement officers "not to hesitate to shoot to kill [drug dealers] if they have to."

Praises for the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court issued several regulations to guide its operations recently, a move deemed "progressive" by Jokowi. This includes an improved case management system – now comprise of a quality control mechanism – and digitalization of the case files.

Last July, Supreme Court Chief Justice Hatta Ali issued guidelines for trials of women's cases. The new regulation prohibits judges from asking questions that discredit women – such as those related with their clothing – in sexual assault trials, among other things.

The new and progressive approaches are strengthening public trust and foreign investment trust in the country, Jokowi said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/jokowi-conveys-support-harsh-sentences-convicted-corruptors-drug-dealers/

AGO called on to stop execution

Jakarta Post - March 2, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) has called on the government to halt its plan to execute several more death row inmates this year, following statements issued by Attorney General HM Prasetyo, who confirmed the imminent executions.

LBH Jakarta director Ricky Gunawan criticized the plan, saying the AGO's decision was merely aimed at gaining popularity.

"The executions are a shortcut for him [HM Prasetyo] to show to the public that his office has worked well," he said in a press statement on Friday

"In terms of achievements, the AGO is falling behind other authorities, such as the Corruption Eradication Commission [KPK], the Supreme Court and the National Police."

Ricky added that the AGO needed to pay attention to the results of research conducted by Indonesia's Ombudsman last year, which found maladministration in the implementation of the latest executions in 2016.

The findings found that the clemency request of Humphrey Jefferson, which could have halted his execution, was denied by the Central Jakarta court without a proper explanation.

In addition, LBH Jakarta stated that the executions would be a set back for the nation in the eyes of the world and could hamper Indonesia's efforts to secure a non-permanent member seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) next year.

"The executions also threaten our efforts to save hundreds of Indonesian migrant workers who are still on death row," he said.

On Thursday, HM Prasetyo said executions would not be stopped as long as it was still stipulated in the law. (srs/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/02/ago-called-on-to-stop-execution.html

Mining & energy

Agency probes alleged abuses in single-fuel-price program

Jakarta Post - March 7, 2018

Rachmadea Aisyah, Jakarta – The Downstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency (BPH Migas) has said it is investigating alleged abuses in the implementation of the single-fuel-price policy, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's program to control high fuel prices in the country's remote and outer regions.

Some official fuel distributors have allegedly held back their stock from the public and instead resold it in bulk to stockpilers, who later sell it at a higher price, BPH Migas committee member on fuel supervision Henry Achmad said.

"In Sumenep regency, Madura, we found that even though the assigned single-fuel-price stations were not yet operating, their [one-price] fuel distribution had been going on for a while," Henry told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. The cases took place in Sumenep's Sapudi and Raas islands, he added.

"The Premium category fuel was allegedly received by license holders of the fuel station, but they hoarded and resold it in oil drums to middlemen, who later offered it to residents at Rp 9,000 [65 US cents] to Rp 10,000 per liter," said Henry, noting that the designated price for Premium was only Rp 6,450. Diesel supplies were similarly bought up.

The practice was also discovered in Sangiang Island in Banten. "We have followed up these issues with state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina as well as the relevant local governments [...] We will revoke the license of these distributors if they are found to be abusing their authority," said Henry. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/07/agency-probes-alleged-abuses-in-single-fuel-price-program.html

Energy ministry scraps hundreds of troubling regulations to boost

Jakarta Globe - March 6, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – Indonesia has revoked 186 regulations in the energy and mineral resources sectors that were considered troubling, as the country seeks to improve the investment climate, while improving the ease of doing business, a minister said.

"This is important, as was instructed by the president; we have to be business- and investment-friendly to increase employment and boost economic growth," Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Ignasius Jonan said at a press conference in Jakarta on Monday (05/03).

He explained that 90 general regulations and another 96 related to permits, certification requirements and government recommendation prerequisites for certain projects in the energy and mineral resources sectors have been revoked.

Indonesia seeks to lure $50 billion in investment in the energy and mineral sectors this year alone.

The regulation regulations were applied by different directorate generals in the ministry, including oil and gas, minerals and coal, and new and renewable energy.

The Directorate General of Minerals and Coal saw the revocation of 32 general and 64 permit-related regulations.

Ministry officials will start to inform the relevant stakeholders about the newly scrapped regulations in the coming weeks, Ignasius said.

"We hope the cuts will have a quick impact, so that the business world will experience a better, less bureaucratic service," he added.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/energy-ministry-scraps-hundreds-of-troubling-regulations-to-boost-investment/

Foreign investors allowed to bid for big mining concessions

Jakarta Post - March 5, 2018

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – The government has allowed foreign investors to bid for mining concessions with a total area of more than 500 hectares, while smaller areas will be prioritized for regional administration-owned enterprises (BUMD) operating in their regions.

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry recently issued Regulation No. 11/2018 through which it introduced detailed stipulations regarding the auction of expired mining areas previously operated by various mining permit holders in the country.

Under the regulation, mining concessions with areas less than 500 ha will be offered through a tender process to BUMD first, before being offered to national private companies, cooperatives and individuals as the least priority option.

"The auction of metal mineral and coal mining concessions with areas of more than 500 ha can be attended by business entities, namely state-owned enterprises [BUMN], BUMD, national private companies or foreign companies," the regulation states.

Indonesian Mining Institute chairman Irwandy Arif said the new stipulations were quite fair, although he questioned the ministry's basis of determining the 500-ha figure.

"The figure is debatable, especially considering the limited mining areas in Indonesia," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/05/foreign-investors-allowed-to-bid-for-big-mining-concessions.html

Jokowi's 35,000 MW program only reaches 3.8 percent progress

Jakarta Post - March 4, 2018

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – The government revealed that the progress of its flagship 35,000-megawatt (MW) electricity procurement program had only reached 3.8 percent as of Feb. 1 since its launch in May 2015.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration initially planned to develop power plants with a combined capacity of 35,847 MW by 2019, more than 75 percent of which would be constructed by independent power producers (IPPs), while the rest would be the responsibility of state electricity firm PLN.

However, as of Feb. 1, only 1,362 MW worth of plants had commenced operations, 17,116 MW had begun construction, while 12,693 MW had been contracted and the remainder had only reached the procurement and planning stages.

Nevertheless, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry's spokesperson, Agung Pribadi, said the figures signified forward movement in the country's electricity sector, especially considering that only 1,061 MW worth of plants had commenced operations in November last year.

"Such an increase was able to happen because of the support from the PLN and IPPs," Agung said over the weekend. The PLN previously stated that only 22,000 MW worth of plants under the flagship program would be operational in 2019.

This is triggered by, among other things, PLN's sluggish electricity sales growth of only around 4 percent throughout last year, far below the initial estimate of 8.3 percent. Subsequently, the utility firm has been forced to postpone the commercial operation date of a considerable amount of power plant projects in the 35,000 MW program. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/04/jokowis-35000-mw-program-only-reaches-3-8-percent-progress.html

Coal prices projected to remain healthy in 2018

Jakarta Post - March 4, 2018

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – Global coal prices are expected to remain healthy throughout 2018 owing to stable demand from China and increasing consumption in India, says the World Coal Association (WCA).

WCA chief executive Benjamin Sporton projected that demand from China would continue to be reasonably strong this year, despite the country's plan to implement a huge gasification program for households and industries to reduce its dependence on coal.

Furthermore, he said India would also increase its coal imports amid soaring demand from its power generation sector and lower-than-expected domestic production.

"India is not in a shortage situation, but it is running very closely behind it, and that's really what has driven coal exports into India, and a good chunk of that is coming from Indonesia," Benjamin told The Jakarta Post recently.

The price of Asian benchmark Newcastle thermal coal had climbed to US$106.78 per ton in January after falling to as low as $74.52 per ton in May last year.

"It's really the supply constraint that sent the price to above $100 per ton over the last year, [...] and I would still expect it to be somewhere in that ballpark for most of this year," Benjamin said.

The Indonesian government has limited the country's coal production in 2018 at a maximum level of 485 million tons, 25 percent of which will be allocated for the domestic market.

Within the first two months of 2017, Indonesia's coal production reached 28.07 million tons, 15.6 million tons of which were absorbed by the domestic market. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/04/coal-prices-projected-to-remain-healthy-in-2018.html

Infrastructure & development

Indonesia's rapid infrastructure drive takes deadly toll

Agence France Presse - March 7, 2018

Bagus Saragih, Jakarta – A string of fatal accidents is threatening to derail Indonesia's relentless infrastructure drive ahead of the Asian Games, a push seen as a key to revving up growth in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo – who is counting on the construction advance for his 2019 re-election bid – temporarily halted all elevated transportation projects, after a dozen major accidents killed five and injured dozens more in recent months.

The stoppages include construction of Indonesia's first light rapid transit (LRT) and parts of a mass rapid transit system.

The LRT in Palembang – which is co-hosting the Games with Jakarta – is supposed to be operating by August when millions of visitors are expected to arrive for Asia's premier multi-sport event, amid concerns that not all venues will be completed in time.

Jokowi halted work shortly after a high-profile accident on an elevated toll road project in Jakarta left seven workers severely injured last month.

The stoppage also comes after a balcony collapse at the Jakarta Stock Exchange building this year resurrected concerns about lax construction standards.

"Public trust has significantly dropped – this is a crisis, a work safety emergency," said Alvin Lie, a member of Indonesia's National Ombudsman.

'Looking for compromises'

Endemic corruption, red tape, and mismanagement have left many projects mothballed or neglected for years. But the president has made infrastructure development the centre-piece of his economic growth strategy for the vast archipelago nation.

Jokowi sees the building drive as essential to improving logistics and modernising infrastructure – and reaching his goal of seven percent annual growth, up from around five percent now.

He regularly visits regions with projects underway, sometimes unannounced, in a not-so-subtle hint that building must stay on track for Indonesia to be a global player. "If we want to win the competition with other countries, infrastructure is what we need to do first," Widodo said.

A furniture seller-turned-politician, Jokowi has ordered the completion of 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) of new toll roads, 3,200 kilometres of railway track, 15 new airports, two dozen seaports, 33 new dams and power plants capable of producing some 35,000 megawatts of power – enough to supply electricity to about five million people – by 2019.

His plans have won applause. But there are now serious concerns that the speed and scope of some projects is leading builders to cut corners on safety, experts said.

Some contractors feel under pressure to hire partner firms with little or no experience in major construction and building design to meet tight deadlines.

"We have never seen Indonesia building on this kind of massive scale," said Mushanif Mukti, a senior official at the Association of Construction Safety and Health Experts. "They seem to rush without adequate capacity... looking for compromises to get around tight time limits."

'Very uncomfortable'

There are few reliable statistics to compare the current death-and-injury rate to previous years, and deadly workplace accidents are not uncommon in Indonesia. But the government has now ordered that scores of major projects be re-evaluated in the wake of the accidents – a daunting task.

Last year alone, some 245 projects worth 4.2 trillion rupiah ($305 billion) were on the government's priority list, including work on a Jakarta highway that resumed several years ago after 20-year hiatus.

"Some of (these projects) might need to be dropped," warned Wahyu Utomo, head of the Committee for Acceleration of Priority Infrastructure Delivery.

Most recent accidents were due to ill-advised shortcuts and employee fatigue, said Syarif Burhanuddin, chairman of the government-backed Construction Safety Committee. "You might want to cut building times but you should never cut procedures," he added.

National newspaper Kompas has quoted workers on the elevated road disaster as saying they worked 10 or more hours a day, and were often called upon to do overtime.

Still, Public Works Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said fast building schedules should not take the blame. "Indonesia's acceleration is nothing compared to Malaysia and China," he said.

The fate of Widodo's infrastructure push – and the Games' success – is crucial to the 2019 presidential race. "Jokowi will surely use infrastructure success stories and compare his performance to that of his predecessor in the re-election campaign," said Arya Fernandes, a Jakarta-based analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

But Jokowi's political ambitions are not top priority for commuters like Mardongan Harahap, who makes the daily drive from Jakarta's suburbs to his downtown office.

"I feel very uncomfortable every time I'm stuck in traffic near building projects and worry that an accident could happen," he said. "I agree with the infrastructure boost policy, but people's safety is no less important."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/07/indonesias-rapid-infrastructure-drive-takes-deadly-toll-.html

38 elevated construction projects to resume as moratorium lifted

Tempo - March 2, 2018

Jakarta (Bisnis) – The construction of 38 elevated infrastructure projects will resume after its moratorium has been lifted following the final evaluation towards contractors and toll-road agencies on Thursday, March 1.

"As far as I know, the construction projects that have been continued is in Jayapura, the Bogor ring road, Pantura toll road, and the Pemalang-Batang toll road," said Basuki Hadimuljono, Minister of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR), on Thursday, March 1.

The PUPR Ministry has also called contractors for cross-checking on each other to detect the weaknesses of each contractor.

Other than human error, the PUPR Ministry said, there are other elements that require monitoring in the country's construction projects, among them problems related to its human resources, work methods, the tools and materials used, and quality.

The temporary halt or moratorium on elevated infrastructure projects announced in the wake of an agreement involving three ministries on Tuesday, February 20. The ministries were the PUPR Ministry, State-Owned Enterprises Ministry, and the Transportation Ministry.

The halt was aimed at facilitating the Toll Road Business Agency in implementing a safety-based construction method following 14 construction accidents in the past six months.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/02/055916236/38-Elevated-Construction-Projects-to-Resume-as-Moratorium-Lifted

Analysis & opinion

Indonesia urgently needs personal data protection law

The Conversation - March 2, 2018

Fiona Suwana – Google – a company with several data protection issues – recently invested more than US$1 billion in Indonesia's popular ride-hailing app Go-Jek.

While transport apps such as Go-Jek and Grab have quickly grown in cities like Jakarta, they also have some problems with customer data.

Companies such as Google, Go-Jek and Grab not only provide services for their users. They also collect personal data of their users. Companies, individuals and government can all collect personal data.

The collection of huge data sets that can be searched, collected and cross-referenced is known as Big Data. Law scholar Yvonne McDermott argues that in the era of Big Data four key values must be upheld: privacy, autonomy, transparency and nondiscrimination.

In Indonesia, none of these values in regard to Big Data are enshrined under law. Indonesia does not have any comprehensive personal data protection law or regulation that protects Indonesians from misuse of data.

Increased foreign investment in the digital economy means a national conversation is needed to ensure citizens don't get exploited.

Examples of personal data protection

Indonesians urgently need a comprehensive data protection framework. Around the world there are several instructive examples.

International human rights regulations already cover digital privacy, building on concepts in multiple declarations on human rights and freedom.

The United Nations General Assembly in 2013 agreed on the right to privacy, asking its members to be transparent and accountable when collecting personal data.

Indonesia's neighbours, Singapore and Australia, have enacted privacy laws. Australia enacted its Privacy Act in 1988, while Singapore enacted its Personal Data Protection Act in 2012.

The European Union (EU) has the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and will apply new data protection requirements in May 2018.

The principles in the EU GDPR were also evident in a presentation by technology and data protection law expert Berend van der Eijk, at a discussion of Personal Data Protection in the Digital Era in Jakarta. He explained the transparency principle that citizens have a right to access, amend and occasionally remove their personal data from companies' registers. Companies must also be upfront about why they collect personal data and how they'll use it.

Existing personal data protection under the GDPR on matters of race, ethnicity, politics, health, gender and sexuality continues to stand.

Daily breaches of privacy

This significantly contrasts with Indonesian practices. In Indonesia, health records data can and have been used to discriminate against individuals with HIV. Some Indonesian companies have chosen not to hire people with the illness. This is despite HIV being an illness that people can now live and work with for a nearly "normal" lifespan.

Another example of privacy breaches can be seen by checking the inbox of phone users in Indonesia. In Indonesia, businesses can easily send short message advertisements to millions of phone users based on their location. There are 371.4 million registered phone users in Indonesia, more than the total population of the country. The targeted ads through mobile phones violate privacy as providers never asked Indonesian phone users for their consent to give their data to third parties.

The government, too, can take advantage of data recording and use the information at its fingertips. Indonesia has recently taken steps to centralise citizens' data online by creating an electronic identification system, e-KTP. But there is no regulation to govern Indonesians' personal data on e-KTP.

Good news?

The good news is there are signs the Indonesian government is aware of this problem.

Donny Budi Utoyo, of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, said that civil society organisations and the government have tried to together to promote and push personal data protection law. Initiatives were established with the Institute for Community Studies & Advocacy, the Indonesian E-Commerce Association and ICT Watch.

Budi Utoyo was also concerned about patient autonomy with the rise of digitised public health records. In a public discussion, he asked: "Is there any right for Indonesians to ask Indonesian hospitals to remove or delete their medical records if they aren't a patient?"

However, he said that Indonesian data protection regulation is still an ongoing process as it requires harmonisation of other regulations by related government ministries in Indonesia.

What next?

Experts in all sectors must collaborate with the Indonesian government to push and create personal data protection law. This should protect citizens from having their data used without their consent or used to discriminate against them.

It is also worth noting that the law will have potential flow-on effects for the country's economy. It would enable a safer business environment, in turn creating opportunities and investment for more Indonesian companies.

At the same time citizens also need to be educated about digital privacy in order to understand the potential risks and their right to protect it.

[Fiona Suwana is a PhD Candidate at Digital Media Research Centre and Research Assistant at Queensland University of Technology, Queensland University of Technology.]

Source: http://theconversation.com/indonesia-urgently-needs-personal-data-protection-law-91929

The trouble with Indonesia's controversial MD3 law

The Diplomat - March 2, 2018

Erin Cook – Long-running and increasingly controversial reforms of Indonesia's criminal code are threatening to set the tone for elections this year and next, with the country's progressives and now the president pushing back on what analysts have suggested is an unprecedented overreach of the political elite in contemporary Indonesia.

Overshadowed by the high profile efforts to criminalize same sex and out of wedlock sexual relations, the revised Law on Representative Assemblies slipped quietly through the House of Representatives this week on February 21.

The law, referred to as MD3, has alarmed activists and analysts alike who say it is a transparent attempt to snuff out criticism of lawmakers and defang agencies seen as combative, particularly the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Articles within the law would empower lawmakers to haul critical citizens in front of parliament for questioning and require corruption investigators and other law enforcement to consult the House ethics committee before pursuing a member.

While it's not certain these reforms would have saved former Speaker of the House and former stalwart of the Golkar party Setya Novanto, the reforms would have made an already difficult task far harder. It also would have assisted the controversial politician in raising legal cases against online detractors, as he has done recently.

Novanto's ability to have dodged questioning in almost ten cases over the years has reflected poorly on the legal system, as well as the political system which had appeared to be disinterested in the mounting allegations and continued to support the politician. If the KPK were required to obtain advice from the House, of which he was until only recently Speaker, it's likely the long slog for justice would still be continuing today.

Ian Wilson from Murdoch University in Western Australia told Voice of America late last week the goal of the legislation is to protect the House from slander, although that would be misguided. "(It) makes little sense in the current political climate, and will undoubtedly increase the public perception of it as a self-serving institution," he said. In the same piece, Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch was even less forgiving, accusing Indonesia's lawmakers of being thin-skinned compared to counterparts overseas.

Civil society hit back quickly, with the swift organization of online petitions and social media campaigns demanding the reversal of the law. But with a Constitutional Court challenge necessary, activists may have to get creative.

Indonesia's protest culture is one of the strongest in the region, with protests and demonstrations shutting down parts of Jakarta on any given day. If the law was to be applied wholly and indiscriminately, it would be possible for the entire function of the House's Ethics Committee be reduced to solely questioning detractors. But of course, indiscriminate application is unlikely to be the aim of all eight House parties which backed the reforms. Watchers have pointed to corruption investigators as the most likely of targets and as one of very few groups which can elicit fear across the entire political spectrum it is the most sensible assumption.

The KPK regularly ranks within the top two of the country's most trusted institutions, while the House flounders at the bottom. A war waged against the popular KPK alongside the lead up to regional elections in June followed by a presidential and more regional elections next year in surely undesirable. President Joko Widodo appears to agree. Jokowi, whose Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) is one of the most vocally supportive factions backing the reform, has read the room and is treading carefully.

While the Indonesian political system requires the president to sign off on bills as only a matter of formality, Jokowi has been hesitant to do so. Tweeting after the law passed last week, he said: "The draft of the MD3 Law is on my desk, but I have not signed it yet. I understand the unrest in society about this. We all want the quality of our democracy to increase, not decrease."

The hesitation, and more importantly the showing of support for it on Twitter, could see the president shift to a 'democracy defender' campaign style as the country moves quickly towards the next poll. While there will be a fair amount of valid criticism for it – after all, much of the 'slide towards illiberalism' has happened under his watch, even if he has pushed back against it – with former challenger Prabowo Subianto all but guaranteed to be recontesting, it will be a revisiting of election tropes increasingly familiar across the world: the new versus the old, progressive versus conservative, centrism versus fringe-politics.

Source: https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/the-trouble-with-indonesias-controversial-md3-law/

Indonesia's politicians pose as holier than thou

Asia Times - March 2, 2018

John McBeth, Jakarta – Indonesian society would undergo a dramatic and regressive transformation if Parliament goes ahead with proposed amendments to the country's colonial-era Criminal Code which, among other things, will ban same-sex relations, pre-marital sex, cohabitation among unmarried couples, sex education and even condom distribution.

With consideration of the revised code delayed until the next session of Parliament in April, senior government officials seem confident the legislation will eventually be kicked down the road – as it has been since the first draft amendment was introduced in 1984.

Still, by design or not, the latest version has risen to the top of the legislative agenda at the start of the 2018-2019 election season when political parties are already jostling to attract votes in a country with an 88% Muslim majority and a now seriously tarnished reputation for tolerance.

Most of the 10 political parties have been unwilling to take a public position on the bill, leaving confusion to reign over whether lawmakers making up the parliamentary drafting committee truly reflect the sentiments of their party leaders.

"There has been a fundamental shift to conservatism," says former attorney-general Marzuki Darusman, who headed the first Indonesian Commission on Human Rights. "There are machinations behind this to appease people allying themselves with conservative elements."

Erasmus Napitupulu, head of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, is critical of the way the revision to the century-old code perpetuates colonialism, fails to incorporate human rights and protection for vulnerable groups, and continues to embrace a punitive approach to law enforcement.

On a recent visit to Jakarta, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra-ad al Hussein, a Jordanian Muslim, urged Indonesians to "move forwards not backwards" on human rights and resist attempts to introduce new forms of discrimination in law.

"The hateful rhetoric against this (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender – LGBT) community that is being cultivated for seemingly cynical political reasons will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions," he said, calling the proposed legal changes a setback in the struggle against spreading hard-line Islamization.

But what surprises many observers is the fact that there has been virtually no public discussion on what impact the proposed changes would have on tourism, one of the country's biggest foreign exchange earners, as well as the broad economy.

Hussein, a former diplomat, pointed to how it would "seriously impede" the government's efforts to achieve sustainable development goals, in addition to running counter to the country's international human rights obligations.

Fully 1,195 of the code's 1,251 articles still prescribe imprisonment as the primary punishment; in what is seen as an attack on freedom of speech, for example, jail awaits those deemed to have insulted the president, vice-president, government institutions and members of Parliament.

But it is on morality issues that the revisions are the most draconian – and the most controversial – with a maximum five years' imprisonment for consensual pre-marital sex, nine years for homosexual acts and one year for cohabitation outside of wedlock.

The latter carries special significance for Indonesian society, with a 2012 Empowerment of Female Heads of Households Program (Pekka) survey finding that fully 25 percent of couples across the country are in unregistered marriages.

The majority of those are from low-income families or tribal groups, whose religion and belief systems were not collectively recognized until a recent Constitutional Court ruling, which the government has yet to turn into law.

There are also tens of thousands of Muslim couples in the upper reaches of society, some in illicit relationships, some separated from their legal spouses, who were only married according to Islamic law as a protection against charges of adultery.

Most disturbing for public defender Naila Zakiah is the way the law leaves women open to charges of pre-marital sex if they can't prove they are a victim of rape, similar to the practice in Saudi Arabia that has aroused worldwide condemnation.

Zakiah, a devout Muslim and juvenile justice activist, believes it will increase pressure on women to either remain silent and avoid the social stigma or take the repugnant step of marrying their rapists. It will also lead, she says, to more child marriages.

President Joko Widodo is reportedly shocked at the way the revisions have turned out. But he has little room to maneuver because of the singular focus on the LGBT community, which hard-line conservative groups use to encapsulate the entire debate.

Mobilizing mainstream support for that particular issue is not difficult when a recent survey showed that more than 90% of Indonesians believe gays are a threat to society's moral values.

The same clever strategy was employed during the controversy over the 2008 Pornography Law, which had a far greater social impact than simply a crackdown on pornography, and during the blasphemy campaign against deposed former Jakarta governor Basuki Purnama, an ethnic Chinese now languishing in prison for reputedly misconstruing the Koran.

The LGBT community was once tolerated. But public sentiment, spurred on by hardliners, has undergone such a dramatic shift in the past year that one Indonesian gay was last month granted asylum in Canada on the strength of his sexual orientation.

Same sex relations are already banned in Aceh, the only province where full Islamic law is allowed. Elsewhere, authorities have been using the Pornography Law to break up so-called "sex parties" and shut down LGBT websites and dating apps.

Researchers say many of the 422 religious by-laws implemented across the country since the early 2000s were passed during the lead up to local government elections when candidates felt compelled to curry favor with Muslim leaders.

In 2016, Widodo publicly defended the LGBT community against bigotry and violence. But since then he has remained largely silent, apart from making another call for tolerance after a sword-wielding assailant's attack on a church congregation earlier this month.

Parliament's apparent fixation with curbing personal freedoms in the name of religious piety can't simply be placed solely at the door of the two Sharia-based Islamic parties when they hold only 79 seats in the 560-strong legislature.

Indeed, in accounting for only 13.3% of the total vote in the 2014 legislative elections, or 16.5 million supporters, the Justice and Prosperity (PKS) and United Development (PPP) parties are hardly able to swing anything on their own.

That means the main support for the controversial amendments originates from conservatives and opportunists in other mainstream parties, all of which profess loyalty to Pancasila, the state ideology that guarantees pluralism and social justice.

It is still not clear what was in the original draft, drawn up by a team working under Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly, a Christian member of Widodo's own nationalist-based Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P), though activists say Laoly himself did not play a significant role.

PDI-P sources claim most of the changes were made after the bill was sent to the 27-strong parliamentary working committee – a body containing only three women – where lawmakers from PKS, PPP and the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the National Democrat Party (Nasdem) are reportedly the main protagonists.

PDI-P and Golkar, the country's two largest parties and pillars of the ruling coalition, are fearful of defending the LGBT community and even the opposition Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) did not respond to queries about its position on the bill.

One coalition party leader told Asia Times off the record that the game plan was to keep delaying the legislation until after the 2019 legislative and presidential elections when the political climate will have changed.

"They're trying to do it almost with stealth," says Darusman, a member of Golkar's board of patrons who senses what he calls a "massive political trade-off" that ignores the profound consequences the new laws will bring to the world's largest Muslim population.

"If they ride the election cycle, it could only be a matter of time," he says. "We're down-sliding on a low-key trajectory and before anyone realises it, we will be caught in a bind we can't get out of."

Not that this is new. Secular party backing was required to pass the hundreds of discriminatory by-laws, about 75% of them based on Islamic law which restrict a women's control over her own body and lifestyle, and regulate morality across the board.

In mid-2016, Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, a Golkar Party appointee, back-tracked on a commitment to abolish those by-laws, instead focusing on more than 3,100 other regulations that were deemed to be harmful for investment.

But even that was stymied when the Constitutional Court issued a ruling that curtails Jakarta's authority to revoke any regional by-laws, saying it could only be done by the Supreme Court, which is responsible for the judicial review of local regulations.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/article/indonesias-politicians-pose-holier-thou/

Why Indonesia's Christian diaspora fears going home

East Asia Forum - March 1, 2018

Phelim Kine – Three undocumented Indonesian immigrants have taken sanctuary in a New Jersey church to avoid deportation from the United States. The men say they're afraid to go back to Indonesia because being members of the country's Christian minority makes them vulnerable to persecution.

The three men's immigration claims have shone a light on the worsening religious intolerance endured by religious minorities in Muslim-majority Indonesia. Indonesia has long been seen as a religiously moderate country and has an official national motto of 'unity in diversity'. But over the past two decades a combination of discriminatory laws and growing intolerance from some Sunni Muslims has resulted in harassment, intimidation and violence against religious minorities. Successive Indonesian governments have failed to confront this intolerance, which has only emboldened those who victimise religious minorities.

The escalation in violence can be traced back to 2005, when then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono effectively legitimised religious intolerance by vowing strict measures against 'deviant beliefs'. During his decade in office, Yudhoyono turned a blind eye to worsening acts of religious intolerance by militant Islamists. His successor, President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, claims that religious tolerance in Indonesia is 'better than in other countries' and is a model 'for other countries to learn tolerance'. But he has not backed his rhetoric with action to protect religious minorities.

Setara Institute, an Indonesian NGO, documented 201 violations of religious freedom targeting religious minorities in Indonesia in 2017 and 208 in 2016. Those violations – committed variously by government officials, police and militant Islamist groups – included 'intimidation, discrimination, assault, hate speech, bans on worship and sealing houses of worship'. Setara attributed these numbers to 'the strengthening and spread of intolerant organisations as well as weak governmental agencies and policies'.

The Indonesian government has long coddled militant Islamists implicated in violence against religious minorities. Officials and security forces frequently facilitate harassment of religious minorities and sometimes even blame the victims. One of Indonesia's most notorious militant organisations, the Islamic Defenders Front, has a long record of bigotry. It has been implicated in multiple serious acts of harassment, intimidation and mob violence against religious minorities. That didn't stop Indonesia's then minister of religious affairs, Suryadharma Ali, from giving the keynote speech at the Islamic Defenders Front's annual congress in Jakarta in 2013.

The Indonesian government needs to abolish laws that perpetuate discrimination against religious minorities. Those laws include a regulation that requires minorities to get official approval to construct or renovate houses of worship, and the blasphemy law that punishes deviation from the six officially protected religions with up to five years in prison. High-profile targets of the blasphemy law include former Jakarta governor Basuki 'Ahok' Purnama and three former leaders of the Gafatar religious community.

State institutions have also directly violated the rights and freedoms of minorities. The Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (under the Attorney General's Office) and the Indonesian Ulama Council have issued decrees and fatwas against members of religious minorities and pressed for the prosecution of 'blasphemers'.

There is no sign that the Jokowi government is prepared to follow its lofty rhetoric of religious tolerance with action that would actually protect religious minorities. The government has dug in its heels and made clear that it will instead support the discriminatory and abusive status quo.

During the United Nations' periodic review of Indonesia's rights record in September 2017, Jakarta rejected recommendations by UN member states that the government 'introduce legislation to repeal the blasphemy law'. It also rejected a recommendation to amend or revoke laws that limit the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

The Indonesian government does not appear satisfied with just ignoring UN calls to scrap the blasphemy law. The Religious Affairs Ministry wants to reinforce and expand the law's scope through the so-called Religious Rights Protection bill, which parliament will likely debate in 2018. Until the Indonesian government meaningfully tackles the country's intolerance problem, its religious minority population has good reason to be fearful.

[Phelim Kine is Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch.]

Source: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2018/03/01/why-indonesias-christian-diaspora-fears-going-home/


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