Abeth You, Jayapura, Jubi Papuan Voices will promote indigenous Papuans through Papua Film Festival II (FFP II) which is running in Jayapura City on 7-9 August 2018.
Papuan Voices established in 2011 and now has stations in six regions of Papua, namely Biak, Jayapura, Keerom, Wamena, Merauke, Sorong and Raja Ampat.
"The theme of FFP II is indigenous Papuans struggling facing modernization. We chose this theme to response the current situation occurred in Papua, said Chairman of the Committee of FFP II Harun Rumbarar in Jayapura on Thursday (7/5/2018).
In this festival, Papuan Voices wants to increase public awareness on the critical issues faced by indigenous Papuans.
"Also, it acts as a forum to strengthen filmmakers networking in Papua. Our works further explain the position of indigenous peoples in facing the waves of development and investment," he said.
Meanwhile, FFP II Secretary Bernard Koten said his organisation recently focus on producing a short documentary film about human and the land of Papua, which assign to all levels of community in Papua, Indonesia and abroad. "To see Papua through the eyes of Papuans, in the form of a documentary film," Koten said.
Almost every week Asih Widodo attends a vigil outside Indonesia's presidential palace, seeking justice for his son who died in an orgy of violence after the fall of dictator Suharto.
Monday marks the 20th anniversary of the former general's 1998 resignation at the height of the Asian economic crisis as Indonesia was paralysed by riots, food shortages, a plunging rupiah currency and mass unemployment.
More than 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed in riots and protests shortly before and in the months after Suharto's autocratic regime collapsed.
Widodo's son, engineering student Sigit Prasetyo, died in a hail of army gunfire aimed at protesters.
"I was at work when I got a phone call that my son was in a hospital I knew immediately in my heart he was gone," Widodo told AFP at a recent vigil alongside other bereaved parents demanding answers over the death of protesting students. "My son was murdered by the army."
In the past two decades the country of 260 million has undergone what many see as a remarkable transition to democracy but Southeast Asia's biggest economy still grapples with rampant corruption and inequality.
Suharto who grabbed power in 1967 following the massacre in 1965-6 of hundreds of thousands of alleged communist sympathisers and ethnic Chinese died in 2008.
He was never held to account for the suspected looting of billions of dollars from state coffers or rights abuses during his three-decade rule, which became a byword for corruption and cronyism.
And the violence linked to his government's collapse is another dark chapter which Indonesia has yet to address in any meaningful way.
Ethnic Chinese Indonesians bore the brunt of the bloodshed in the last days of Suharto, with women cowering in their homes for days as rape squads purportedly led by army thugs roamed Jakarta's streets.
Many died trapped in burning buildings as angry mobs resentful of their relative financial success ransacked Chinese-owned stores, smashed windows and set fire to cars as the government teetered on the verge of collapse.
Ayu Puspita was 30 when crowds stormed through the capital targeting Chinese-owned shops.
"It was so chaotic. Cars were being burned, motorcycles were toppled over it was just so scary," said Puspita at her restaurant in Glodok, known as Jakarta's Chinatown.
Subianto, a 67-year-old parking attendant who has worked in Chinatown for some five decades, said he watched in shock as parts of the city went up in flames.
"There were no police, no soldiers. People were looting everywhere. Trucks were coming to steal things," he said.
Hundreds of Chinese-owned homes and businesses were looted and razed during the unrest, which unfolded under the noses of the security forces. Their failure to intervene has fuelled suspicions of military involvement ever since.
Some buildings in Jakarta's Chinatown remain damaged even decades later. "The sound of sirens scare me. I'm terrified every time I see a large group of people approaching," Puspita said. "I didn't choose where I was born or what my ethnicity is."
Efforts to hold members of the then-government and military accountable for the death of ethnic Chinese and others have gone nowhere.
But Widodo, who rides a motorbike emblazoned with the words "My son was murdered by the army", will keep demanding answers.
"This country does not care, but I do," the 67-year-old said. "I'll keep fighting as long as I am still alive."
Jessica Damiana, Jakarta For the past decade, Indonesian housewife Maria Sanu has joined a small group of protesters at a silent weekly vigil outside the presidential palace in Jakarta, seeking justice for her son who died during the political turmoil of 1998.
Around 1,200 people were killed in the capital, mostly trapped in burning buildings, as mobs rampaged through the streets and attacked shops at the height of the Asian financial crisis in May 1998.
The riots preceded the resignation on May 21 of late strongman president Suharto, who had ruled the world's fourth-most populous country with an iron fist for 32 years.
Sanu's 16-year-old son Stevanus is believed to have perished when a Jakarta mall was set ablaze, though his remains have never been identified.
"He had been playing football in a mosque nearby. I went there, but it was deserted. His friend told me he had gone to Yogya Plaza Mall," said Sanu, 70, referring to the mall where several hundred people are believed to have been burnt alive.
"I feel empty and something is missing. I want his unnatural death resolved," said Sanu. Students leading the protests were also targeted, with some shot or kidnapped. Many of the victims were from the Chinese community, a minority in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country and sometimes resented for their perceived wealth.
But even with the ushering in of democracy, Sanu said she and some other riot victims had not received compensation or enough support.
An independent fact finding team set up to investigate the riots found that 85 mostly ethnic Chinese women were sexually assaulted, but authorities dropped the inquiry, citing a lack of evidence.
Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) says submitted human rights complaints have often been returned because they were incomplete.
"Our human rights abuse report files have been returned by the Attorney General's Office more than five times," said Beka Ulung Hapsara of Komnas HAM.
Jaleswari Pramodhawardani, an official at the presidential chief of staff's office, said post-1998 governments had sought to help victims but sometimes it was ad hoc, so the current government was trying to integrate responses from agencies.
She said some compensation had been paid, while the government was working with Komnas HAM to resolve past rights abuses.
The silent "Kamisan" (Thursday) gatherings started in 2007 and were partly inspired by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of woman demanding justice over the disappearance of their children during Argentina's military dictatorship.
Kamisan members wear black shirts and hold up black umbrellas in what they say symbolises persistence.
Retired civil servant Maria Catarina Sumarsih feels President Joko Widodo, who is expected to seek re-election next year, has failed to make progress.
"During his presidential campaign, he committed to erase impunity and resolve human rights violation cases," said Sumarsih, whose son? was shot dead in late 1998 while helping another student who had been wounded during clashes with security forces.
Vela Andapita, Jakarta Twelve years have passed since Maria Catarina Sumarsih, 66, initiated the first Kamisan rally following the death of her son, Benardinus Realino Norma Irawan, also known as Wawan.
Wawan was among four Trisakti University students who were gunned down in the 1998 Trisakti Shooting.
Every 4 p.m. on a Thursday, or Kamis in Indonesian, Sumarsih, along with dozens of human rights abuse victims, activists and civilians, gather in front of Merdeka Palace without fail to protest the government's slow response in handling human rights abuse cases.
On Thursday, during the 538th Kamisan rally to commemorate 20 years of Reformasi, Sumarsih said in a resigned tone that the so-called reform era had failed her.
"Seeing that the government failed to meet the six points of the reform agenda, it's safe to say that the [reform era] failed," she said.
The six points of the reform agenda, Sumarsih said, demanded that the government try former president Soeharto and his cronies for abuse of power and other violations committed during his regime; revise the 1945 Constitution; remove the Indonesian Military's (TNI) dual function; eradicate corrupt practices; uphold the supremacy of law and expand regional autonomy.
"None of these were realized."
Sumarsih is not only protesting in front of the palace, after every Kamisan rally she writes a letter to whoever is president. She has sent approximately 508 letters.
"All these years of organizing the Kamisan rallies and sending letters, never once did the government [representatives] come down [from their offices] to see us," she said.
Despite her disappointment at the government's lack of attention, Sumarsih still feels upbeat that her movement will be successful and believes that the role of younger people is important to maintain the Kamisan spirit.
"There has been a major change at Kamisan rallies. Previously, only the older generation participated. Nowadays, I see a lot of young people taking part in the movement," she said.
When asked what kept her going despite the government's lack of response, Sumarsih responded with a smile. "It is my duty to finish what Wawan started."
Amid the gloomy mood of the 538th Kamisan rally, private university students Mulyani Citra and Rini Oktaviani seemed lost among the hundreds of Kamisan protesters holding up black umbrellas.
With high-end cameras hanging around their necks and heavy backpacks, they asked the protesters what event it was.
"I was only two months old when the  riots in Jakarta took place," said Citra. I knew about the four students who were killed from history books."
"As I was growing up, my mother told me stories of people raiding malls and burning stuff. But I didn't know that the victims' parents are still fighting for justice, until today," she told The Jakarta Post.
"It's sad to realize that there were students who were the same age as me who died for such an important cause," Rini added.
Both Citra and Rini, who were born and raised in Tangerang, Banten, and West Jakarta, respectively, admitted that not only did they not know about Kamisan, but they also had very little idea about the human rights issues raised by the protesters at Kamisan rallies.
"It's an eye-opening experience for me. I have become more aware about tragedies that happened in the country along with the injustices that still prevail today," Rini added, emphasizing that she would join other Kamisan rallies in the future. (dpk)
Rofi Ali Majid The education system has failed to realise the ideals of reformasi the reform movement that began with the overthrow of former president Suharto in 1998.
This view was put forward by Max Lane, the author of the book "Unfinished Nation: Indonesia Before and After Soeharto".
"One of the great sins of [Suharto's] New Order [regime] was to abolish critical thinking among hundreds of millions of children for decades", said Lane. According to Lane, this is one of the reasons for the failure of reformasi.
Lane expressed this view during a television chat show titled, "Indonesia 20 Years after Reformasi", which was held by the University of Gajah Mada (UGM) Student Arena Student Activities Unit Communication Forum at the Koesnadi Hardjasoemantri Cultural Centre on Sunday May 20.
Lane believes that the current education system is not very different. "In school, we are rarely taught to ask the question 'why', we are more often instructed to memorize and learn by rote", said Lane. According to Lane, this flows on to how we comprehend the current situation in Indonesia.
Moving on to a more specific discussion, Lane gave an example. "Indonesia is one of the only countries which does not teach literature to its citizens", said Lane.
Lane said he regrets that there are no literary studies, such as analysing short stories, poetry or other literary works. "In Singapore and many other countries, the books of [Indonesia's foremost author] Pramoedya Ananta Toer are required reading, yet these are Indonesian literary works", said Lane.
Responding to Lane's remarks, University of Gadjah Mada senior history lecturer Agus Suwignyo said that to this day the education system only focuses on achieving basic levels such as class rankings. "The achievement of advanced levels such as critical thinking, a broader understanding, has yet to be a priority", said Suwignyo.
Aside from not being directed towards advanced levels, according to Suwignyo the failure of the ideals of reformasi was also caused by a deviation in the function of schools.
"It has long been the case that the world of education has become an arena to implant ideology," said Suwignyo. He also agreed with Lane's statement that during the era of the Suharto regime the world of education became an arena to instill a sole interpretation of the state ideology Pancasila.
"Currently schools have become an arena for a contestation of ideologies to implant a certain kind of thinking", said Suwignyo, who gave as an example the mushrooming of religious based schools.
Suwignyo said he does not agree with the world of education being turned into an arena for a contestation of ideology. "This diverts the aim of Indonesian's education system as outlined in the preamble to the 1954 Constitution", said Suwignyo.
Iffah Nur Arifah Twenty years ago today, the late Suharto resigned as president of Indonesia after 32 years in power.
University students and protesters, who took part in "reformasi" demonstrations and riots across the country, were beaten, jailed and kidnapped during the end of the authoritarian leader's rule.
The fall of the leader paved the way for swathes of political reforms and for Indonesia's 1999 election the first free vote since 1955.
Two decades on, activists who were a part of the original movement have warned against complacency, urging Indonesians not to forget the lessons of the past.
Agung Wicaksono was president of the Engineering Students Association at Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) when Suharto was re-elected in 1998.
He said the common shared feeling among students at the time was disappointment, particularly when Suharto selected his closest relatives and friends as his cabinet members.
"It was a moral movement. People struggled a lot due to the economic crisis, so we couldn't trust the government anymore," Mr Wicaksono said.
Mr Wicaksono is now the director of PT MRT Jakarta, and oversees a massive public transportation project that aims to combat the capital's infamous traffic jams.
He said he did not want to run the business like in Suharto's era, which according to him, only benefitted particular groups.
"We can't abuse power anymore," he said. "Instead we apply the principle of transparency and it is possible to do so, thanks to the reform movement."
Mr Wicaksono said although he feels the country's condition is better than 20 years ago, Indonesian people should not be satisfied with its achievements, but instead keep working for a better future.
One thing Lia Nathalia remembers about 1998 was the lack of freedom, and leading up to Suharto's resignation in May, she said the president would detain people even without strong evidence.
"That's why when we had meetings, we did it very secretly. No-one was allowed to take notes, nor exchange contact numbers," Ms Nathalia, who was a member of City Forum and involved in several street protests in Jakarta, said.
But after the reform movement, it seems Ms Nathalia is not happy either with the outcome. "We don't set a good national agenda, the emerging leaders are just busy maintaining their power," she said.
She said she hoped that the younger generation would remember the events of May 1998, so they will not lose their political direction and aim. Mixed feelings after two decades
Usman Hamid was in his fifth semester as a law student at Trisakti University in Jakarta in 1998.
He said it was a conversation with his mother about how basic necessities were getting expensive that led him and his friends to distribute food packages.
As president of a law students' association, he joined several student movements to protest the rising prices as the situation worsened.
"Then some friends had an idea to demand Suharto and his family to step down," he said. "It started on 12 May 1998 one student even burnt Suharto's image."
Mr Hamid said there has been some decline in Indonesia since he and his fellow students fought for change.
"There have been a number of controversial, racial, and discriminative events in these past years and quite a number of attempts by political parties and elites who campaign their conservative and extreme-nationalism values," he said.
"So it's a mixed feeling... We still need to work even harder, be more patient, and do a better job after more than three decades of authoritarianism."
Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, along with 14 other women, took to the main streets of Jakarta to demand cheaper milk prices for mothers after the price increased uncontrollably.
"We were there to make noise and raise awareness that even when it comes to fulfilling the needs of babies... our country wasn't able to do it," she said.
"As females, we didn't want to be remembered in Indonesia's history as only the ones who were distributing food to protesters. We also had political demands."
After the reform, Ms Chuzaifah is glad to see the women's movement is growing in the country, giving many women platforms to raise their concerns. "This is one of the reform's achievements that we should maintain," she said.
Oslan Purba was not quite sure why exactly he joined the reform movement when he was a university student at North Sumatra. He was fully aware that becoming an activist meant facing death and kidnap threats.
"In many regions, including North Sumatra, students went to the local parliament building; there was rioting and looting everywhere and soon after that Suharto declared his resignation," he said.
Now working as a national environmental campaigner, Mr Purba said corruption remained a big issue in the country.
"We did [the reform movement] because we didn't want this country run by corruptors, but now, although we have an anti-corruption commission, we still doubt they are brave enough [to combat corruption]," he said.
"Honestly, I'm a bit disappointed, but I remain optimistic." Mr Purba is also active in voicing human rights issue in Sumatra, particularly in Aceh province.
In 1998, Eko Maryadi was working as a journalist with the Washington Post in Jakarta.
He remembers sitting in a traditional food seller kiosk in Jakarta, when suddenly there was a big cheer from the people after Suharto announced his resignation on the television.
"All people were yelling and I also heard students on the parliament building celebrating their win [over the Suharto regime]," Mr Maryadi, who is now the president of Southeast Asian Press Alliance, said.
Under Suharto, he was jailed after being accused of publishing material that was considered critical of the Suharto government.
At that time he was also a member of Alliance of Independent Journalists in Indonesia (AJI). But he said the period of reform had perhaps seen the media industry become too liberal in some ways, leading to support for extremist views.
"The freedom of expression [in Indonesia] has now exceeded the limits of ethics, professionalism, and freedom in our democratic life," he said.
"The challenge of media in Indonesia is to stop spreading information which promotes radicalism and intolerance."
Resty Woro Yuniar On a sunny Friday in Denpasar, the capital of Indonesia's Bali, a group of burly men gather at a small, gated, two-house complex across from the city's main cathedral.
Some sit outside smoking and playing with their smartphones. Some chat inside the unfurnished main house. A white SUV, a dirt bike and a shiny Harley-Davidson with a number plate from East Java are parked at the unkempt courtyard. A woman brings them cold water and French fries back and forth from the adjacent house.
Judging from their look, language and skin tone, it is clear these men are not natives of Bali. Some wear formal suits or Balinese batik shirts. They have just attended a wedding ceremony held by the governor of their hometown of East Nusa Tenggara, the country's southernmost province some 1,500km from Denpasar.
About 50,000 East Nusa Tenggaranese live on the resort island, one of Bali's biggest demographics. Some arrived to pursue higher education in Bali's universities, most of the rest came to earn a living from tourism.
"Most people in East Nusa Tenggara work as civil servants. I wanted to be an entrepreneur so I went to Bali to study tourism and to be a chef," says Melkianus Mesakh Boleng, who moved to Bali in 1998 from Kupang, the capital city of East Nusa Tenggara. "If I returned to East Nusa Tenggara, I could not implement what I had learned in Bali because there is no tourism industry to begin with, so I stayed here."
Bali is the first choice for many people like Boleng who try to escape poverty and an educational lag in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia's second-poorest region after remote Papua. The country has enjoyed rapid economic growth in the past two decades, following the removal of Suharto's 32-year autocracy in 1998, a historic event widely known as Reformasi, but not all areas have shared in the success.
Among the catalysts of the 1998 student-led movement was the high price of necessities such as rice, flour and sugar. Indonesia was the hardest-hit country during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when a drastically devalued rupiah triggered a ripple effect in the economy. Many workers were laid off as companies couldn't pay mounting debts, hitting people's ability to afford necessities such as food and petrol. The crisis led to people demanding the nation's wealth be spread equally across the archipelago, rather than being concentrated in Java, as it was under Suharto.
Twenty years after Reformasi, Indonesia's economy has made notable progress. Southeast Asia's biggest economy hit the trillion-dollar milestone at the end of last year, and the jobless rate is at its lowest in more than 20 years. Indonesia is a member of the G20, alongside countries such as Germany, the United States, and China, underlining the country's increased contribution to the global economy.
To distribute the prosperity to all corners of the nation, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri put the ministry of development to work accelerating efforts in the East Indonesia region in 2001. The ministry's work was carried on by her successors, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and now President Joko Widodo. In 2015, Widodo took the initiative further by starting village funds, distributed equally each year to all 75,000 villages in the country. But critics say the funds are often wasted by inept or corrupt village officials, especially in disadvantaged areas such as East Nusa Tenggara.
"The government uses the same formulation to determine village fund allocation for all kinds of villages. This is not proportional as the problems faced by advanced and poor villages are different," says Enny Sri Hartati, executive director at Jakarta-based Institute for Development of Economics and Finance. In many villages, funds are managed by an existing, dominant economic force, exacerbating the unequal wealth distribution in poor areas, Hartati adds.
From this year's 60 trillion rupiah (HK$33.4 billion) in village funds, Jakarta allocates 2.5 trillion rupiah to East Nusa Tenggara, up from last year's 2.3 trillion. Inappropriate fund management and corruption, however, threatens its effectiveness.
Three heads of villages in Southwest Sumba regency were suspected of creating fake projects. East Nusa Tenggara is the electoral district of disgraced former House speaker Setya Novanto, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison after receiving more than US$7 million in an electronic ID card graft case.
Overall in Indonesia, 112 heads of villages misappropriated the funds last year, up nearly fourfold from 2016, according to Indonesian Corruption Watch, an NGO formed during the 1998 Reformasi movement.
Yet many East Nusa Tenggara diaspora have found success in Bali, such as Andre Wembatowak. The father of two first migrated to Bali in 2005 after graduating high school, following in the footsteps of his friends. He had saved what little money he earned from driving a public minivan in his hometown of East Sumba to afford a two-day journey to Bali by vessel, which costs 500,000 rupiah.
Three days after arriving in Bali, he found a job as a driver for a local money changer in Kuta, where he was paid the minimum wage. After saving enough money, he quit the driving job after seven years and opened up his own travel business and a car showroom back home. "I chose Bali because the flow of money is faster here," Wembatowak says. "To be where I am now takes hard work."
Wembatowak's life stands in stark contrast to many of his fellow countrymen in Sumba, an island in East Nusa Tenggara just a one-hour flight from Bali.
In Weepatando in Southwest Sumba, people live in wicker-walled, tin-roofed, bamboo-floored houses nestled among the hills, paired with damaged roads. Residents rely on firewood, gathered from a nearby forest, to cook. For water, villagers spent their own money to build a rain-fed well; the water is still dirty because the well is uncovered. During dry season, when the well recedes, those without motorcycles walk in the scorching heat to fill jerry cans with 20 litres of water from the nearest natural spring, 7km away. Public transport? Only pricey two-wheelers, or ojek. Service stations are non-existent.
"In 2012, the government installed solar panels here, but they stopped working three years ago... struck by lightning... now we are using oil lamps again," says Lukas Lelulende, head of the local Village People Empowerment Agency (LPMD), who adds the lamps are a fire hazard and not bright enough for schoolchildren to do their homework.
Weepatando is one of 238 villages in Sumba left without electricity. Water scarcity translates to limited livestock ownership. Damaged roads also delay health care access, which is already unaffordable for many.
"A woman from here endured three days of painful labour, her family does not have a motorcycle to take her to hospital, so she died on the way to a community health centre," Lelulende says.
Many from the village have left to work in Bali or Java, as well as abroad to Singapore, Malaysia, or Hong Kong. Few have returned, and rarely do any send money to the families they left behind. Wembatowak in Bali says he only sends money on-demand, mainly when his parents request it for Sumba's many traditional ceremonies.
"I have worked in Malaysia for two years, in Denpasar for nine months... I needed money to send my children to school," Ester Laliwunda, a mother of six, says. "I want to return to Bali but I don't have the money to pay for the vessel." Now, Laliwunda's family depends on their crops, which bring in only 200,000 rupiah per month.
Poor infrastructure is not just in the villages. The province's capital Kupang, about a two-hour flight from Denpasar, suffers similar problems. "In theory, there are no poor villages in Kupang because it is a capital city, but in reality there are so many poor people in Kupang," mayor Jefirstson Riwu Kore says. "Kupang is dark and it lacks proper drainage, pavements... water is only available for three hours a day. We are very left behind compared with our brothers in Bali."
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade this is the fighting mantra for Wilhelmina Mali Dappa. Just replace the lemons with corn and tubers. Surrounded by government neglect, the mother of six, 44, tries to make a difference in Sumba by advocating for women's empowerment.
Hailing from Weekokora village, Mama Mina, as she's widely known, first learned about her rights as a woman in 2013, when she joined Indonesia Women's Coalition (KPI). Through the organisation, she also learnt how to increase the value of Sumba's staples such as corn, tubers, coconut and coffee. "I did not know how to process commodities such as corn or tubers, which are abundant in Sumba. Here we typically just grind the corn and eat it as corn rice," she says.
She now earns 60 million rupiah per year from selling chips, tortilla, Sumba coffee, virgin coconut oil and crops such as swamp cabbage, aubergines, carrots, mustard greens and tomatoes. With this, she can send her three oldest kids to colleges in Kupang and Yogyakarta in Java.
Mama Mina's life trajectory illustrates how East Nusa Tenggaranese could rise from poverty without ever having to leave. The province is, after all, the home of the renowned Komodo Island and the popular diving spot of Labuan Bajo. It also breeds high quality cows, thanks to its vast savannah, and is blessed with extensive coastlines and ample maritime resources such as seaweed. One could argue that Sumba offers more scenic, pristine beaches than Bali.
Not all who work in Bali achieve success like Wembatowak. Plenty of newcomers go astray upon arriving, and due to a lack of identity documents, become hard to track. In one case, an East Nusa Tenggaranese woman went missing and was later found in a brothel in Bali. Many fall victim to human traffickers.
Back in Sumba, on a recent hot Sunday, Mama Mina assembles more than a dozen women in a church perched on a hill overlooking a 700-year-old tree in Weepatando village. Almost all of the attendees are her relatives who, unlike Mama Mina, still grapple with financial hardship. By sharing her entrepreneurial skills, Mama Mina hopes her relatives can prosper and understand their long-forgotten rights in society.
"I want women [in Sumba] to know that their place is not only in the kitchen, well, and in the bed," Mama Mina says. "We are equal to men."
Karuni Rompies, Jakarta I'll never forget what my boss told me on the morning of May 21, 1998. "He'll resign. Today!"
He was referring to Suharto, the former general officially installed as Indonesia's president in 1968 and still there 30 years later.
It was 6.30am and I was in a taxi on the way to work. Students had been protesting for months, demanding Suharto step down in the midst of a severe regional monetary crisis that led to allegations of corruption and nepotism, alongside accusations of human rights abuses.
The last big student protest against Suharto had been in 1974. After those riots, Suharto's government moved gradually into the universities and silenced the student movement.
By 1998, for most Indonesians, it was unthinkable that the country might be led by anyone but Suharto. He was too strong to be overthrown.
But what happened on May 12, 1998, changed all that. Four students from the private Trisakti University in West Jakarta fell to the ground dead after the anti-riot squad randomly shot at hundreds of protesting students who had dispersed peacefully and were walking back to campus.
To this day, nobody knows what actually triggered the squad to open fire at the end of a peaceful rally. But those killings prompted new and even greater horrors in the evening. Mobs came out of nowhere and attacked Chinatown in Jakarta. They burned down shops and houses belonging to the ethnic Chinese Indonesians who lived there.
I have never been so terrified, particularly after we heard unconfirmed reports that some Chinese women were being raped. I thought this was the beginning of the fall of Indonesia.
Three days of riots in Jakarta and other cities pushed the political situation to the brink. Not only were buildings being burned down and shops looted, but several hundred lives were taken and many ethnic Chinese women were raped.
The killing of the four students fuelled the anger of their fellows. They consolidated and went to parliament, forcing MPs to demand Suharto's resignation immediately. They told them they would stay overnight in the building to pressure leaders to issue the statement.
They went up to the roof of the parliament building and stood there for hours. Thousands more stayed on the ground, chanting songs against Suharto and his regime.
Still in my taxi, I didn't want to immediately believe what my boss had said. I phoned a friend. "I am at the palace right now," she said. "It's packed with journalists! Hurry up and get here!"
Now I believed it. I told the taxi driver to speed through the almost deserted streets. Only army tanks and vehicles with water cannon were to be seen where students had marched. The only civilian vehicles belonged to media companies and motorbikes carrying cameramen.
I soon arrived at my office, the Jakarta bureau of the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. My boss was on the phone again, perhaps digging for more details from our palace stringer.
At around 9am our attention suddenly shifted to the TV screen when the reporter announced that Suharto was going to speak. I watched with pounding heart as the strongman stood before a microphone. The familiar, calm voice I had known for decades read the words written on the papers he was holding. The first few sentences were not the news we were waiting for. I worried he had changed his mind.
Then finally the moment we had awaited for years arrived. Suharto said calmly: "I have decided to quit my position as the president of the Republic of Indonesia, starting from when I have finished reading this statement on Thursday, May 21, 1998..."
"It actually happened and it was so simple!" I thought to myself. The office fell silent. Digesting what we had heard, we didn't immediately type up Suharto's words. We simply looked at each other and smiled. My boss said quietly: "He's no longer president."
Twenty years later, Indonesia is still standing, but it looks very different and, hopefully, better. Press freedom and direct presidential elections are among the most obvious changes.
The elevation of Joko Widodo an ordinary furniture entrepreneur with no attachment to the political elite in Jakarta to the presidency is one of the sweet fruits of "Reformasi". The media are now able to openly criticise government policies, produce stories about the arrests of governors, former cabinet ministers, MPs, judges, prosecutors and police generals by the anti-corruption commission.
Corruption is rife, yes, but the arrests show there is now independent law enforcement. It's a stark contrast to Suharto's time, when the cronies and children of the president were untouchable and the executive was publicly known for its intervention in the judicial process.
Christine Tjhin, now a researcher at CSIS Indonesia, says Reformasi allowed ethnic Chinese Indonesians to participate in politics, a development no one could imagine 20 years ago.
In May 1998, a dozen teenagers hurled stones at Christine's parents' house in West Jakarta as she hid with her family and four other people at the back of her house. As night fell, they smelled a strong odour of petrol and heard people shouting "Burn! Burn!".
"We came out from hiding and rushed to the gate. I thought we would either be killed by the mob or killed by the fires... the mob saw us, then one of them grabbed my hair, they spat on me, cursing us, shouting 'Chinese dog!'. I simply tried to avoid eye contact."
It was the family's ethnically Indonesian neighbours who saved them.
Asked what Reformasi had brought to Indonesia, Christine replied: "Obviously there are more positive things, although there are still many things we haven't achieved. But as a nation, we may be proud of what we have achieved. "I believe pluralism will enrich and further develop Indonesia."
Resty Woro Yuniar and Jeffrey Hutton February 4, 1998, was a day that would change Desmond Junaidi Mahesa's life forever and he never saw it coming.
The social justice activist had left his office to attend a gathering after the Muslim festival of Eid in Jakarta, but he never made it to the celebration.
Instead, he was approached by two men who grabbed him, threw a bag over his head and forced him into a car.
About 40 minutes later, he found himself in a 2 x 2.5-metre room in an undisclosed location where he would be kept for the next two months.
His abductors grilled him about his activism, zeroing in on his support of then opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's founding father Sukarno.
Twenty years have passed since that Wednesday, but Mahesa still vividly recalls the torture he endured under the authoritarian rule of the dictator Suharto. To get Mahesa to speak, they beat him and gave him electric shocks.
"I was electrocuted by the kidnappers... I haven't been able to grow hair ever since," he told This Week in Asia at his office in parliament. "After I was released in April 1998, my friends told me not to go out in public because I was still being targeted by police."
Mahesa shared that cell with other prominent Indonesian activists such as Pius Lustrilanang, Andi Arief, Haryanto Taslam, Raharja Waluya Jati, and Faisol Riza.
According to testimony given to Jakarta Legal Aid Institute in 1998, the activists were burned, beaten and electrocuted while they were held captive. They were also stripped nude and forced to sit on blocks of ice.
Their captors were believed to be soldiers from "Team Rose", a notorious unit of the country's Kopassus special forces, led by Suharto's much-feared former son-in-law, Prabowo Subianto.
Mahesa and the others were part of a group of 23 students, activists, and critics who were kidnapped during the twilight of Suharto's 32-year rule, which the dictator dubbed the New Order, in late 1997 and early 1998.
Suharto stepped down on May 21, 1998, after months of student-led protests driven by economic and political crises that plunged Indonesia into chaos. These historic events are commonly known as the country's Reformasi (Reform) era.
Among the kidnapped group of 23, only nine were released. One was found dead and the rest are still missing.
"I feel like I escaped through a pinhole," says Raharja Waluya Jati, co-founder of The People's Democratic Party, which was among Suharto's top critics. "If there wasn't Reformasi, I'm sure I'd still be inside... not sure if I'd be alive or dead. I could only pray, we never knew whether we would make it out alive."
Sine Reformasi, the political careers of the abducted activists have shone brightly, much like the republic they helped save two decades ago. However, in a stunning twist, Mahesa, along with three fellow victims, has joined the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), founded by the very man that many suspect was behind the kidnapping: Prabowo.
"After my kidnapping, I learned that Kopassus wasn't the only perpetrator," Mahesa explained. "Andi Arief was taken by the police, not Kopassus. From this I conclude that the kidnapping was ordered by the former military chief at that time, Feisal Tanjung." Feisal was replaced by General Wiranto in February 1998.
It is quite possible the country will never know the truth behind the kidnappings because of a lack of evidence. Prabowo, who was sacked soon after Suharto resigned, and many of his supporters believe that former generals at ABRI the entity under which the police and military fell in Suharto's era masterminded the kidnappings and he was merely a scapegoat.
Nobody has been brought to trial for the kidnapping. Wiranto is now a minister in President Joko Widodo's administration.
Those who joined Gerindra, including Mahesa, have dismissed suggestions that they are suffering from Stockholm syndrome, a condition that causes hostages to show sympathy towards their captors.
"I really don't care about that, I don't think it's funny. [The suggestion] always surfaces during election years... I'm sure if Prabowo was no longer around these statements would eventually die down," Mahesa said. "Honestly I'm waiting for the military to come out and admit this... this is character assassination" against Prabowo.
Other victims' political paths have been less controversial. Jati, for example, played a significant part in Widodo's 2014 presidential election campaign. Arief is the deputy secretary general for the Democratic Party, which was founded by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, while Faisol Riza is currently a legislator backed by former president Abdurrahman Wahid's party.
While the victims might have chosen different political paths, they agree that the main goals of the Reformasi movement have yet to be achieved.
These include bringing Suharto and his cronies to trial, amending the 1945 constitution, widening regional autonomy, removing the armed forces' dual function, eradicating corruption and maintaining the rule of law.
"I think many people consider Reformasi was completed after the fall of Suharto. But the biggest question we face now, 20 years after Reformasi, is, 'What's next?'" said Hendri Satrio, political analyst and lecturer at Paramadina University in Jakarta, who was a student activist in 1998.
"We still have homework to do... in theory, a democratic country's biggest challenges are economic equity, legal equality and political maturity." Others argue that the very freedoms that were fought so hard for are now under threat from the democratically elected government. In a much criticised move, the Widodo administration and parliament passed a regulation last year that allows officials to disband groups deemed a threat to national unity without judicial proceedings.
In a blow to free speech last month, legislators passed a controversial amendment to the 2014 Legislative Institutions Law that effectively shields politicians from public criticism by opening up criminal charges against individuals or organisations that "disrespect the dignity of the House or its members".
These laws "are like giving the next administration a blank cheque [to oppress their political rivals]. There's not much of a chance of me supporting Jokowi again next year if there's no real change," said Jati, referring to Widodo by his nickname.
Others fear Indonesia's young democracy is under threat from rising religious conservatism that has permeated the nation in the past year. This week, at least 27 people were killed in suicide bombings in East Java. The attacks were carried out by 13 people who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group, including children as young as 8 years old.
"Twenty years ago it was difficult to find women wearing niqab. Now you can find them easily. Even in the mall," says former student activist Syafiq Alielha from the country's largest moderate Islamic group Nahdlatul Ulama.
"In the future this will undermine democracy [because] the conservative perspective doesn't accept diversity of faith."
To Widodo's credit, however, infrastructure, health care and education have improved since he was elected in 2014, analysts and former Reformasi activists said.
But income inequality remains and could trigger the country's next big upheaval as the country prepares for a presidential election next year, which is expected to be a repeat of 2014 when Widodo defeated Prabowo.
"I think this country's most urgent problem is the social and economic gap between the rich and the poor. In the remote areas of Indonesia many people still do not know what it means to live free... they are still imprisoned by limitations such as economy, education, health and access to the world," Jati said. "If we don't address this soon, then there's always a chance for the next revolution."
Jeffrey Hutton When Francis Xavier Harsono applied for his first passport in 1992 he was brimming with anticipation for his first trip overseas.
Back then, things were looking up for Harsono, one of Indonesia's first contemporary artists. He had been making a name for himself with work that subtly criticised the Suharto regime and an artist-in-residency programme in Adelaide, Australia, awaited him.
But then the bureaucrats struck. The passport office forced Harsono, an Indonesian of Chinese descent, to return to his local government office for paperwork proving his nationality.
Adding insult to injury, he also had to pay a bribe of US$200 a colossal sum at a time when a plate of fried rice from a street vendor cost a few cents. Harsono managed to satisfy the officials and went to Adelaide, but the incident stung.
"I was very angry. But I couldn't do anything, I had to pay," says Harsono, who goes by the name FX Harsono in his art work.
Fast-forward two decades and the blatant discrimination that marked the era of the dictator Suharto is a thing of the past. Bans on Chinese culture and language during that era were lifted in 2001. Lunar New Year is now an official holiday.
But resentment of the perceived wealth and influence of ethnic Chinese still bubbles under the surface, and many among the country's 3 million ethnic Chinese fear a new chapter of intolerance may be at hand. Incidents such as the imprisonment of Jakarta Governor Basuki Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent better known as Ahok, on blasphemy charges and recent attacks on Christians in Surabaya have them worried.
Last week three families allegedly linked to an extremist group that had pledged loyalty to Islamic State carried out suicide bomb attacks on churches and police in Indonesia's second largest city, killing more than dozen.
"After Ahok and the attacks in Surabaya, of course, I feel very nervous about the future of Indonesia," says Sylvie Tanaga, who handles media relations with the non-profit think tank Urban and Regional Development Institute in Jakarta.
She has reason to be nervous. Twenty years ago this month when Tanaga was 11 she heard the word "rape" for the first time as anti-Chinese riots fanned out across the country targeting Chinese women. The riots were sparked by rumours that ethnic Chinese were hoarding rice. At least 1,000 people were killed in the resulting violence.
Those horrors may be in the past, but suspicions over the economic success of ethnic Chinese many of whom are Christian in a country that is 90 per cent Muslim linger.
Of the top 10 richest Indonesians, nine are ethnic Chinese, according to Forbes. And rich and powerful ethnic Chinese hold sway in Indonesian politics, just not from elected office.
The government of President Joko Widodo looks to Harvard-educated Tom Lembong, chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board, to woo foreign capital.
Back in 2015 when the Jakarta Asian Games was years behind schedule, Widodo turned to Erick Thohir the brother of billionaire Garibaldi Thohir to deliver the event. And when Widodo needed to sell his US$300 billion tax amnesty he got help from Mochtar Riady, Indonesia's ninth richest man, who told the world that Indonesia was a safe place to park your money and that rich people needed to pay their taxes.
But this does not fully explain the tension after all, most ethnic Chinese are as far removed from the Forbes list as their fellow Indonesians.
Roy Thaniago, director of media advocacy group Remotivi, instead blames persistent discrimination on the Indonesia education system, which emphasis the Chinese were relatively recent arrivals.
Thaniago, who last year wrapped up a master's thesis on Chinese discrimination in Indonesia at Sweden's Lund University, says Chinese have been a frequent victim of abuse over the 500 years they have lived in Indonesia. In 1740 more than 10,000 were slaughtered in anti-Chinese pogroms in the Dutch colonial capital of Batavia, the precursor to modern Jakarta.
Today violent repression may be gone but race remains a potent force in Indonesian politics. At his swearing in ceremony last October, Ahok's successor, Anies Baswedan, called on the ethnic Malay majority known as pribumi to become "masters of their own house".
For Thaniago, and others, bullying, discrimination and humiliation are common. As a child he recalls hiding lunch money in his shoes so that when bullies caught him and searched his pockets they were less likely to find it.
Even now, aged 32, there are bitter encounters. Three weeks ago while eating at a street stall a busker berated him because Thaniago wouldn't give him money. None of the other customers did either. "He needed a target," Thaniago says of the busker. "And it was me."
The key is education. Civics is a mandatory class in Indonesian schools. The classes are an opportunity to emphasise tolerance and challenge the "us versus them" mentality that goes hand in hand with nationalism, he says.
"Nationalism here tends to be anti-communist, anti-Chinese, anti-LGBT," he says, using the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. We need to be more relaxed."
For Harsono, art is the way to bring Indonesians together. Earlier this year a video installation that simulated him painting his Chinese name in the rain was on display in Times Square in New York. That piece symbolised letting go of the past.
Work from his 2002 series "Point of Pain" is showing this month at the Frieze New York art show. The art features butterflies pinned as a taxidermist might onto a human face. It sounds gruesome but the end product emphasises life's fragility and pain when we aren't free, he says.
"Art is a strategy. We can use art to learn how to criticise," Harsono says. "We can see people and learn to love each other."
Jeffrey Hutton Usman Said surveys the stainless steel plaques bearing the names of his fallen classmates at Trisakti University in Jakarta. Twenty years ago this week soldiers gunned them down amid escalating protests that within days would topple the dictator Suharto.
Snipers that day held off ambulances, leaving the young men in their early 20s to bleed to death. Said, who now heads Amnesty International in Jakarta, takes some solace that their deaths weren't in vain. "We have freedom of assembly and speech and the press," Usman says. "These freedoms are what we fought for."
By any objective measure Indonesia's democratic transition, or Reformasi, has been a success. Power has transferred peacefully between five presidents two of them directly elected. Simmering conflicts in Aceh and elsewhere were eventually quelled with devolved powers and autonomy.
"Compared with where we started in 1998, it is significant that power is being alternated between administrations through electoral means," says Philips Vermonte, a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta.
Back then a financial crisis erased more than 80 per cent of the rupiah's value against the dollar. The government, which then subsidised fuel, was forced to hike prices more than 70 per cent owing to pressure from the IMF and international lenders. That drove up the price of everything from rice to instant noodles.
A series of reforms restored confidence. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), set up in 2003, went after crooked politicians, judges and public officials. It remains popular. Decentralisation of political power that granted local governments sway over education, health, environment and other areas made it tough for another strongman to take Suharto's place.
"It was a necessary down payment to bring peace and democracy at the time," says Vasuki Shastri, author of "Resurgent Indonesia: From Crisis to Confidence".
Devolved powers and the right of citizens to elect everyone from district chief to president have helped cultivate a crop of political reformers, including the incumbent, President Joko Widodo.
Widodo, known to everyone as Jokowi, made a name for himself first as mayor of the mid-sized town of Surakarta and then governor of the capital Jakarta with common sense initiatives both big and small.
In Surakarta, he moved street vendors away from busy thoroughfares to ease congestion and offered free health care to the poor. In Jakarta, he started long delayed infrastructure projects including the MRT, or Mass Rail Transit, system.
Buttressing this emerging crop of leaders was a free press and a ballooning middle class. Indonesia's experiment with democracy contrasts sharply with failed recent attempts from Libya to Cambodia.
But Indonesia's endemic graft, while less pronounced now, has proved a hard habit to break. Entrenched elites, some dating back to the Suharto era, and a surge of religious conservatism has stalled momentum for reform.
Take decentralisation. At a stroke in 1999, Suharto's successor, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, devolved authority. The move gave local governments the right to levy taxes. It also gave the localities a piece of the roughly US$50 billion Jakarta doles out in transfer payments every year. The aim was to make government more accountable to local sensitivities rather than the one-size-fits-all approach of Suharto and Sukarno, who lead Indonesia to independence.
In most cases, though, the effort amounted to a boondoggle for local elites. Setting up a local government was a sure way to tap into public funds. The number of provinces, regencies the next level of administration and municipalities ballooned to 536 from 325 before decentralisation. Corruption metastasised from Jakarta throughout the country. The KPK has jailed 90 governors, regents and mayors in the 15 years since it was established.
Corruption has also rendered the country's courts unreliable, undermining the country's hard won freedoms and its prospects for extending economic growth, says Professor Tim Lindsey, an Indonesian legal expert at the University of Melbourne.
The result is an unreliable and opaque judicial system that inconsistently enforces the law. That's a problem when each ministry can churn out dozens of regulations per month.
The criminal code comprises roughly 800 articles. The country's hard won freedoms and economic prospects are at risk, Lindsey says. "There is no shortage of laws but they are inconsistently enforced, if at all," Lindsey says. "If people and businesses feel courts are too risky they will find alternatives."
Last year the Supreme Court reprimanded or delayed promotions for 40 lower court officials for taking bribes. None were fired. In 2014 the KPK jailed for life the former chief justice of the constitutional court, Akil Mochtar, for taking bribes to influence elections. "The prevalence of corruption in the judiciary is a severe obstacle to systemic reform," Lindsey says.
And while Widodo's cabinet has largely avoided scandal, political reform has stalled. Widodo ran from a promise during the 2014 campaign to reserve cabinet posts for experts. Instead he resumed the practice of bartering plum positions to forge alliances in parliament. Widodo opposed reforms that would make it easier for parliamentary parties to nominate candidates for presidential election.
The result is a cabinet filled with three former Suharto-era generals. One, Wiranto, who uses one name, is wanted by the UN for crimes against humanity for atrocities committed by the Indonesian military in East Timor while he was their top general. Another, Luhut Pandjaitan, Widodo's coordinating minister for maritime affairs, has said publicly he doubts the existence of mass graves of victims from the country's 1965 anti-communist purges.
Widodo's administration has been conservative and cautious. It is considering revisions to the criminal code that would ban all sex outside marriage and make it a criminal offence to defame the president.
"What's surprising about Indonesian democracy after all this time is how much of it remains on a knife's edge," O'Rourke says. "Authoritarianism has been a recurring risk since the fall of Suharto."
Also crimping reform is the country's 2008 blasphemy law, which made illegal public expression deemed insulting to one of the country's six official religions. So far, 100 people have been charged under the act and 19 jailed including the reformist governor of Jakarta, Basuki Purnama, after a court ruled he had insulted the Koran while campaigning.
"This law is used to corner progressives and politicians like Ahok who try to bring reform," says Human Rights Watch analyst Andreas Harsono, referring to Purnama's nickname.
While religiosity blooms here, extremists push their agenda. This week, families of Islamist militants, including children as young as eight, carried out five attacks in Indonesia's second city of Surabaya. It was a reminder that the violence that helped oust Suharto two decades is not far away.
At Trisakti, Said recalls having gone home soon before the soldiers opened fire because late afternoon rain had mostly dispersed the protesters. No one in authority was made to account for his classmate's murders, including Wiranto.
Democracy can't be taken for granted, he warns. "Suharto's cronies are gone," he says. "But they can come back."
Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta Contrary to the general phenomenon of the gender-related gap pay, women in Indonesia are paid more than their male counterparts for the same job. However, women are less likely than men to work in top positions.
Consulting firm Korn Ferry revealed that globally, men were paid more than women with a 16.1 percent gap. However, when comparing the pay for men and women at the same job level, the gap narrowed to 5.3, and it narrowed further to 1.5 percent when they work at the same company and the same level. When comparing men and women working at the same level at the same company and performing the same function, the pay gap narrows to merely 0.5 percent.
The same trend is seen in the Asian region. However, the data reveal that the pay gap is partly reversed in Indonesia.
The overall gender pay gap in Indonesia is 5.3 percent, but this does not simply mean that women are paid less than men in the general sense.
When comparing men and women at the same job level, women are paid 1.2 percent more than men. When they work at the same level at and at the same company, women are paid 1.7 percent more. And when they work at the same level at the same company and performing the same function, women are paid 4.1 percent more than their male counterparts.
Korn Ferry argues that the gender-related pay gap is not only about unequal pay, but also the lack of women in high-paying positions. There are more men at the top level of organizations than women, which increases the average pay for men. By contrast, there are more women in low positions, hence the lower average pay for women.
Indonesia's overall gap pay is narrower than that of other countries, including Vietnam at 17.6 percent, China at 12.7 percent, India at 16.1 percent, the United States at 17.6 percent and Brazil at 26.2 percent. Both Indonesia and Vietnam are classified under fast-growing countries, which on average have an 11.5 percent pay gap between men and women.
Diverging from the global trend, fast-growing countries, according to the survey, favor women when it comes to paying employees at the same company at the same level (1.3 percent) and for the same function (3.1 percent).
Dhritiman Chakrabarti, senior client partner at Korn Ferry Hay Group, argued that the pay gap could be addressed "if there is an ongoing effort to enable, encourage and select talented women to take on and thrive in challenging roles." (evi)
Ternate The group 20 Years of Reformasi, Win Freedom, Equality and Prosperity Committee (Komitmen) held a campaign action commemorating 20 years of reformasi in front of the Gamalama Market in the North Maluku city of Ternate on Monday May 21.
Despite being held in the middle of the Ramadan, it did not diminish their spirit with the group claiming that the holy fasting month does not mean not fighting but in fact should be the crown of struggle against the anti-people regime.
The month of May is a month of resistance when in Indonesia's history hundreds of thousands of millions of people spilled into the streets to bring down the New Order dictatorship of former president Suharto, a militaristic and repressive regime.
To this day, there has never been any justice for the gross human rights violations committed by the New Order regime.
"We have never forgotten the 1965-66 affair when millions of ordinary people were systematically slaughtered, thousands of people were put into forced labour camps, tortured, sexually abused and raped. And what has happened is that the current administration of President Joko Widodo has refused to address or let alone take responsibility for this historical stain", said action coordinator Ajo in front of the Gamalama Market on Monday.
The 1965 affair was the entry point for all manner of state violence and became the basis for the legitimisation of state violence against the people. And none of this has, to this day, been resolved. Justice is trampled on even after 20 years of reformasi, referring to the process of political reform which began with the resignation of Suharto in 1998.
Today, 20 years of reformasi has not created more prosperity or justice for the ordinary people but has instead thrown them into a chasm of suffering and misery.
This is shown by the widespread agrarian conflicts all over the country, the mass dismissal of workers, the enactment of Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on Wages, sexual harassment and violence against women, racism against the people of West Papua and the widespread criminalisation and abduction of activists.
On the other hand, while the New Order put civilian life under the rule of the military, the current regime is still reluctant to return the military to the barracks which is continuously intervening in civil rights as legitimised by Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) between the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (National Police) which result in muzzling democracy.
"We reject all legislation or Perppu [Regulations in lieu of Law] which provide space for the return of the military's dual social and political function [dwi fungsi], and strongly condemn efforts to strengthen militarism in civilian life, because this threatens democracy for the Indonesian people and all of the activists fighting for democracy and the people's welfare", asserted Isra Muhlis, one of the participants at the demonstration.
In addition to slaughtering the people and the militarisation of civilian life, there has been widespread criminalisation of minority groups such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people with the draft Criminal Code even proposing making consensual sex between adults a crime.
"[Alternative] sexual orientation is not something new, they exist because of the dynamics of culture, and because of this, aside from disagreeing with the attacks against them, we must also be wise by not accepting abuse, harassment and discrimination against them, particularly relinquishing their political rights continuing to be part of the discourse on our judicial system", Ajo told the demonstrators.
Indeed, violence against humanity in the name of state security has never died away in concert with the penetration of capitalism for the accumulation of wealth and the government that legitimises it.
The group also demanded and called on the government to immediately resolve the numerous agrarian conflicts in Indonesia, one of which is taking place in 10 villages in the North Maluku sub-district of Galela, North Halmahera regency. They are demanding the revocation of the plantation and business permit of the company PT Kso Capitol Casagro and the unconditional return of 2,000 hectares of land to the farmers of Galela.
"After three years in power the Joko Widodo administration has been proven to have failed to bring prosperity to the people and has become a puppet of imperialism. And Prabowo [Subianto], who was the actor behind the abduction of activists [in 1997-98] and deployed troops to slaughter the people during the May 1998 [riots], has never been tried, and instead has been free to establish a [political] party and nominate himself as a presidential [candidate]. So both of them are the real enemies of the people, and we cannot depend upon either of them. It is time to build a political alternative, a solution for the people", asserted Ajo.
"What is a political alternative? A political alternative is the way out for the people that does not depend on or submit to those in power and all of the other political parties which only offer illusions. A political alternative is a third road (alternative) which is independent and does not beg from those in power, is democratic and does not collaborate with the enemies of the people or with anti-democratic political forces", Ajo continued.
Within the arena of politics itself, electoral politics are still dominated by the parties that represent the bourgeois, the majority of which are old elite parties. Today's political constellation is largely directed towards the interests of capitalism and imperialism, so it is true that our pressing need and the solution to all of the Indonesian people's problems is building an alternative political party, which is truly supports the interests of the people, not the interests of the bourgeois and capitalism. (Ajun)
Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta Gerindra Party politician Sandiaga Uno admitted on Sunday that he had met with Democratic Party leader Agus Yudhoyono, in a move to establish a possible coalition for the 2019 presidential election.
Gerindra, which has named its chairman Prabowo Subianto as a candidate to challenge President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, has yet to secure support from other parties, pending a consensus to name a running mate.
"This is a coalition that we will try to build, and apparently we share the same views about the current state of the economy. [Agus] said purchasing power is weakened; I said prices are skyrocketing" Sandiaga said.
The Jakarta deputy governor, who is leading a Gerindra team to prepare Prabowo's run, added that he expected another meeting involving the candidate and Democratic Party chairman Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the country's former president and Agus' father.
Recent surveys have placed Agus, the leader of the party's Joint Command (Kogasma) for the 2018 and 2019 elections, among favorites as VP candidate for both Jokowi and Prabowo.
Political analyst Yunarto Wijaya said it was unlikely for Gerindra to join the Democratic Party since the former had allied with the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which also wanted to nominate its own member.
"The PKS has insisted on nominating its own members for vice president candidates, who, according to surveys, are not among those that can increase Prabowo's electability," he said.
The PKS has yet to announce support for Prabowo's presidential bid. In February, the PKS announced its own members as potential candidates in the 2019 elections, including West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan, senior member Hidayat Nur Wahid and party chief Sohibul Iman. (wit)
The Suharto political dynasty is being revived in Indonesia.
Twenty years after the fall of the country's notorious former President Muhammad Suharto, his youngest son is leading a new political party into next year's elections.
Hutomo Mandala Putra, or "Tommy Suharto", as he is commonly known, has been touring several Indonesian regions, even travelling to Solo to receive a royal title in an attempt to gain the support of would-be voters.
Suharto and his newly-formed Party Berkarya (Work Party) are focusing on the widening gap between rich and poor in Indonesia.
"We have gone through 20 years of reforms, but the situation has not improved," he says. "Our national debt has increased, and the living conditions of our people have not improved significant[ly]."
The Work Party's aim, according to Suharto, will be to "develop a people's economy that will be controlled by the people and benefit the people to improve people's welfare".
Suharto is not worried that his father's legacy of corruption and brutality will taint his campaign, he says that Indonesians are "longing" for the return.
The United Nations and Transparency International have alleged that Muhammad Suharto stole more state assets than any other world leader, amounting to billions of dollars, a claim his son denies.
"These figures are not true," he says. "They have said that my father owns billions of dollars in Europe in a Swiss bank... nobody has provided any evidence. It was never proven."
In 2015, Indonesia's Supreme Court ordered the Suharto family to repay more than $400m embezzled from a scholarship foundation, but the money is yet to be returned.
According to Suharto, the court's ruling is impractical and does not take into account the government closure of a bank, where much of the money was invested.
"How can foundations give money back to the government if these foundations are using donors' money, not only [money] from the government, and this money has already been given to those receiving scholarships?" he says.
"The money that they are looking for is the money which was invested in Bank Duta. The bank has been closed by the government... [and] has bigger obligations towards its customers, of course, the customers are being prioritised."
Tommy Suharto himself has been convicted of corruption but went into hiding to avoid jail. In 2002, he was again sentenced for ordering the murder of the Supreme Court judge who handed down his previous sentence. He was released after serving four years of his 15-year sentence.
"I have done my term and, according to the laws, I now have the same rights as anyone else. I have the right to vote and the right to be elected," he says.
More than one million Indonesian's died during Suharto's father's rule, while thousands of others were jailed without legal process. He stepped down in 1998, after 32 years in power, following a series of riots.
One thousand Indonesians are estimated to have died during the riots, which destroyed shopping malls and homes in the capital, Jakarta.
At least 150 ethnic Chinese women were raped in the violence, which began after the Asian financial crisis caused the stock market to crash, and escalated when soldiers shot four students at a university.
Military and political leaders said Suharto had lost his grip and abandoned him, forcing him to step down. Tommy Suharto suggests that the riots might have been orchestrated to remove his father from power.
"It's like a movie in which the director has ordered everything, but those in the field are just the actors. So we can't see who is behind it," he says.
"My father could have stayed in power; there were still military troops who were ready to defend him and to safeguard the situation".
Jakarta The Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) is facing criminal charges for allegedly breaking campaign regulations after placing an advertisement in a national newspaper.
The Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu) said in a statement on Thursday that the party's secretary general, Raja Juli Antoni, and his deputy, Chandra Wiguna, violated Article 491 of the 2017 Election Law on campaign violations. "Bawaslu's findings have been submitted to the National Police," it said.
The party, it said, had placed an advertisement in the Jawa Pos newspaper on April 23. The advertisement called on the public to help choose the running mate for its presidential candidate, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. It also shows the President's picture and the party's logo.
The party has denied Bawaslu's allegation, saying that the advertisement did not feature the party's platforms and did not ask the public to vote for PSI. "As a new party, we feel like we're being targeted," Raja Juli said in a statement.
The PSI, which is led by political novices, claims to be the party of millennials, a demographic that will make up a large voting bloc in 2019. (ahw)
It's sadly common for fake news stories and hoaxes to spread in times of crisis, spreading even more fear and uncertainty. Indonesia which saw a succession of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks this week is no different in this regard, with one particular insidious hoax spreading dangerous lies about motorcycle taxi hailing service Go-Jek.
Recently, a chain message has been spreading on messaging platforms like WhatsApp warning that ISIS has infiltrated Go-Jek's food delivery service, Go-Food. As shared by Go-Jek's Twitter account, the message says that ISIS members are posing as Go-Jek drivers and that they have been putting some unspecified poison into people's food delivery orders. The writer says that their friend's cousin died after consuming said poison and warns people not to order food through Go-Jek.
Go-Jek VP of Corporate Communications, Michael Say, said that the message is a complete hoax and the company has reported the false information to the authorities.
"What's clear is that it's a hoax. Today we have officially filed a report with the Jakarta Metro Police Special Crimes Directorate regarding the hoax that has been spreading on social media," Michael said, as quoted by Kompas yesterday.
Michael urged the police to identify and arrest the hoax spreader as soon as possible because Go-Jek's partner drivers stand to lose the most from the misinformation.
"This implicates the prosperity of our partner [drivers]. We have to protect our partners who work hard to serve their customers and provide for their families," he said.
The Jakarta Metro Police have not yet said if they were investigating the hoax. However, National Police Spokesperson Setyo Wasisto has confirmed that there was no truth to the message and warned that its spreader could face criminal charges.
Under Indonesia's Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), spreading misinformation and fake news online is punishable by up to six years' imprisonment and a fine of IDR1 billion (US$70,745).
Ahmad Faiz Ibnu Sani, Jakarta Amien Rais, the chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN)'s consultative board, has called on the Religious Affairs Ministry to revoke the list of 200 recommended Islamic preachers it released recently.
Amien said the list would only stir public uproar. "Revoke it," he said at the parliamentary complex in Senayan, Jakarta on Monday, May 21, 2018.
He said the revocation of the list was the only option on this matter, adding that he was also opposed to the government's possible addendum to the list. "If [more names] are added to the list, how many thousand [names would be there?]. This will only spark further uproar and tumult," he said.
Amien also called for the resignation of Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin following the release of the list. "I say that among the characters of a great leader is that he is willing to step down should he make a wrong decision," he said.
Earlier, the ministry announced the names of 200 Islamic preachers it perceived as competent on the recommendations of multiple Islamic organizations.
Lukman said the ministry released the list in response to public demand for recommended preachers. He explained the list was still the first batch and subject to change.
Imam Hamdi, Jakarta The Islamic organization Muhammadiyah Youth Center Chairman Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak demanded Ministry of Religious Affairs call off the determination of national Islamic preachers or mubaligh. According to Dahnil, the regulation would spark conflict within the ulema.
"This would create the public or preachers mistrusting the government. It's not good for our way of living in this nation," said Dahnil via a sound recording received by Tempo yesterday.
Earlier, Ministry of Religious Affairs issued a recommendation of 200 preachers in a list to the public. The government, Dahnil added, should not doubt to revoke the progress.
However, Dahnil understood that the government has a concern to issue the list particularly regarding the issue of a preacher who did not teach the value of Pancasila (state ideology) and nationality. He then suggested the government to summon those preachers for a dialogue.
Furthermore, he agreed that the social life in Indonesia has indeed been formed since long ago through preacher's speeches who continue to integrate the values of Pancasila and nationality in their lectures. Many preachers including from Muhammadiyah, he noted, have a strong commitment on the matter.
According to Dahnil, the regulation on listing the preacher is a counterproductive effort that would potentially spark discordance and dispute among the public. Thus, he urged the government to review the plan despite his name was listed among others 200 mubaligh. "I don't deserve it."
Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta A researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Social Conflict Studies in the University of Indonesia, Solahudin, said social media quickens the process of radicalization.
"I could take a conclusion that one of the elements that speed up radical acts is related to social media," he said in a discussion meeting at Communication and Informatics Ministry, Jakarta, Wednesday, May 16.
Solahudin assessed ISIS groups in Indonesia created many channels in messaging platform Telegram. In 2017, there were more than 60 Telegram channels with Indonesian language and more than 30 private channels of them made by ISIS groups.
Every day, Solahudin added, they spread 80-150 messages containing violence in one channel. Thus, if they had more than 60 channels, thousands of radicalism messages were broadcasted within 24 hours. "By such intensive messages, the public is potentially exposed to the concept of radical acts that make the process more intense," he underlined.
Solahudin revealed, based on his research in 2017, 85 percent of 75 terrorist convicts needed less than a year to conduct terrorist acts since the beginning.
During 2002 until 2012 when social media has yet become public limelight the terrorists needed five to ten years to establish an attack.
Meanwhile, the ministry expert of Literacy Digital and Internet Management Division Donny BU said the radicalism has indeed easy to be spread on social media. "Learning how to assemble a bomb via YouTube is the issue we have heard over the years," he said, adding that such contents could be quickly blocked while others are required a long time.
Audrey Tan, Singapore Singapore looks set to see a third straight year with no haze, due in part to Indonesia's sustained efforts at curbing fires and preventing their spread.
Indonesia's Minister of National Development Planning Bambang Brodjonegoro said on Friday (May 18) that the 2015 haze crisis would not repeat itself this year.
"In the last few years, including this year, we did not have the haze that happened in 2015," he said, adding that forestry and peatland management plans have already been implemented.
Dr Bambang was speaking at the fifth Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources held at the Grand Hyatt Singapore hotel. The event was organised by think-tank Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
Dr Bambang's statement echoes similar promises made by other Indonesian officials last year and in 2016.
Governor of South Sumatra Alex Noerdin said during last year's edition of the same event that there would be no haze from his province last year.
And in 2016, Mr Nazir Foead, head of Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency, said there was a "zero chance" that a haze of 2015's magnitude would blanket the region.
The haze in Singapore is largely caused by winds blowing smoke from forest fires in Indonesia towards the Republic.
Many of Indonesia's pulpwood and oil palm plantations are located on carbon-rich peatlands. When these areas are drained of water for planting, the risk of fire increases.
In 2015, Indonesia's dry season coincided with the El Nino weather phenomenon, which is linked to warmer and drier weather in this part of the world.
The bad weather exacerbated the forest fires typical of the country's agro-forestry landscape, and caused the region to suffer the worst haze crisis on record. It sent air pollution levels skyrocketing, caused deaths and grounded planes.
But since then, Indonesia has taken significant steps to reduce the occurrence of fires, said Dr Nirarta Samadhi, country director of research organisation World Resources Institute Indonesia.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of Friday's event, Dr Samadhi pointed to three ways that the Indonesian government has demonstrated its commitment to dealing with the haze issue.
The first was the formation in 2016 of the Peatland Restoration Agency, which was tasked with carrying out programmes to restore Indonesia's carbon-rich peatlands.
To this end, new regulations were rolled out, such as a land swap scheme that aims to get companies off deep peatlands and move to mineral soils instead, said Dr Samadhi.
The Indonesian government also conducted mapping exercises using Lidar technology to provide data on water levels. If water table levels are too low, peatlands could become more flammable.
Dr Samadhi said that these government initiatives have contributed to the clear skies in the region in the past three years.
But other factors not within direct control, such as weather, played a role too. "Recently, we have also had the advantage of having wetter weather," Dr Samadhi said.
Sub-national elections in Indonesia could also have contributed to the haze-free skies, as local politicians would have greater incentive to prevent fires, Dr Samadhi said.
Given the role that unpredictable factors play in contributing to the haze, he added, it is hard to predict if South-east Asia could achieve its target of being haze-free by 2020.
The target was set by Asean environment ministers following the 2015 crisis.
Dr Samadhi said: "The Indonesian government has an action plan and regulations to curb fires. If that is followed, there would not be haze. But there are other factors that cannot be controlled... So if you ask me if we will have haze in 2020, I would not have the answer."
Michael Taylor, Kuala Lumpur One of Indonesia's biggest businesses rejected criticism on Thursday (17/05) from Greenpeace, which pulled out of a landmark conservation pact this week after linking the conglomerate's subsidiaries to deforestation.
Activists had applauded a 2013 pledge by Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP), one of the world's largest paper and pulp makers, to stop cutting natural forests and only use trees from plantations, a commitment Greenpeace backed and helped develop.
But Greenpeace said satellite images showed two pulpwood firms linked to APP's parent company, Jakarta-based Sinar Mas Group and its employees, had cleared about 8,000 hectares of forests and peatlands in Kalimantan since 2013.
"APP asked us to go to their mills and check there is no wood from deforestation," Kiki Taufik, a senior forest campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia in Jakarta, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Wednesday.
"But if staff from Sinar Mas Group are involved in companies that destroy forests, this breaks the APP commitment," he said, referring to tree clearance by two companies it linked to Sinar Mas Group Muara Sungai Landak and Hutan Rindang Banua.
APP said it was "disappointed" that Greenpeace had expanded their 2013 agreement beyond the firm's own activities to include its parent Sinar Mas Group, forest concessions not owned by APP, and companies that do not supply wood to APP.
"Issues cited by Greenpeace in their statement focus on the actions of businesses not under the direct jurisdiction of APP," the company said in a statement. "The era of cooperation between Greenpeace and APP has achieved much, but the fight is far from over."
Joice Budisusanto, a director at Sinar Mas Group, one of Indonesia's largest conglomerates, said each business unit under its brand had "its own legal entity that is independently managed, but [they] share common history and core values."
Sinar Mas Group is committed to the highest technical, environmental and social standards, she said in emailed comments on Thursday.
Greenpeace said one pulpwood firm, Muara Sungai Landak, is owned by two employees of another Sinar Mas Group subsidiary, Sinar Mas Forestry, and a Sinar Mas Group mining subsidiary, Golden Energy and Resources Limited, owns the other.
Golden Energy and Resources said it could not provide an immediate comment, while Muara Sungai Landak could not be reached due to the lack of a publicly listed phone number.
Indonesia has been a focus of global efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions caused by the deforestation of swampy, carbon-rich peatlands to make way for plantations for industries such as palm oil, pulp and paper.
Forest cover has dropped by nearly a quarter since 1990, according to World Bank data.
Sinar Mas Group must fully disclose all of its employees' interests in companies with concessions even if they are not suppliers restore what was destroyed, and ensure it does not buy from firms involved in deforestation, Greenpeace said.
Suherdjoko, Semarang, Central Java Leaders and lecturers of Semarang State University (Unnes) signed on Tuesday an integrity pact in their effort to stop the spread of radical teachings on campus.
Unnes Rector Fathur Rokhman said the integrity pact was part of a commitment from all teachers and students to make the university free from corruption, drug abuse and radicalism.
"We will dismiss lecturers found guilty of breaching the pact and for civil servants, we will return them back to the state. For students who violate this commitment, we will send them back to their parents," said Fathur in Semarang on Tuesday.
He made the statement in response to the dismissal of a dean and three lecturers of a notable state university in East Java as they were found guilty of spreading radical teachings.
Fathur said Unnes would entrust the handling of academic members suspected to have spread radical teachings to the police.
"We are developing educational characteristics here based on Pancasila, nationalism and state-defense principles. For us, the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia [NKRI] is unquestionable. We have four pillars we adhere to. They comprise Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, the NKRI and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika [Unity in Diversity]," said Fathur.
To prevent the spread of radicalism, the university's school of law opened an antiterrorism clinic to strengthen dialogue between students and their colleagues and lecturers. (ebf)
Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta Netizens showed their support for Indonesia's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community in a "hugging" campaign to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which falls on Thursday, by sharing pictures with encouraging messages through social media.
Through the #HugsNotHate campaign, cross-border organization for LGBT rights ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC) encourages participants to upload pictures of themselves hugging LGBT friends and a caption with supportive comments to their social media accounts to spread positivity.
The organization urged, however, for participants to take the picture at an angle that would still respect their friends' privacy and safety should they wish to remain anonymous.
Increasingly frequent verbal attacks against Indonesia's LGBT people by both public figures and government officials have forced the community into hiding. But some have been brave enough to step out into the open and share their messages of love and acceptance.
Twitter user Neyna Rahmadani, through her personal account @neynarahma, asked her friend permission before posting a picture of them together as part of the #HugsNotHate movement. She was surprised and motivated to receive his enthusiastic reply.
Last night when I asked @hr_nrw to post our photos... he replied, 'Sikat!!' and to all of you guys out there he said, 'Don't be ashamed to celebrate who you truly are.' ??#HugNotHate #IDAHOTB2018 #IDAHOT2018ID #IDAHOBIT2018id pic.twitter.com/IhvFhMwhDn Neyna Rahmadani (@neynarahma) May 17, 2018
Instagram user @yurimuktia was moved by the campaign to hug an LGBT activist at an event in Jakarta, as shown in a picture uploaded by the ASC's Twitter account.
Much loves on #HugNotHate #IDAHOTB2018 #IDAHOT2018 pic.twitter.com/P9xvIdIdQu ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (@ASEANSOGIE) May 17, 2018
One Instagram user arranged a group hug to celebrate the day. You are what you define! Cintai yang kita cintai, ekspresikan yang kita ingin perlihatkan. Tak ada sekat, jadilah apapun yang kita mau.. #hugnothate #idahot2018 #idahot2018id ?????????????????? ?? @akupheo
The campaign was also used by some to ask for hugs from his or her followers or friends, as user Prabagas did through his Twitter account @Agastha4, to which some responded by giving him a virtual hug.
Hug me please ?? || #HugnotHate #HijrahMenujuCinta #IDAHOT2018ID Nur Arnos Dwi Prabagas (Prabagas) (@Agastha4) May 17, 2018
Some users from Malaysia, including @zhukl, said he was unhappy to see none of the campaign participants came from Malaysia.
Looking at #HugNotHate & #IDAHOBIT2018 none of them come from MY. Thank God for IN else we won't have a rep from this region. Remind me again why I am annoyed at people empathising w Najib but God forbid they ever spare a thought for queer ppl living in homophobic environments. soren (artwork by riharu harun). (@zhukl) May 17, 2018
Gisela Swaragita, Jakarta As the world is commemorating International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, Indonesian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have been laying low in response to actions and statements from government officials over the past two years that could be perceived as state homophobia.
Among the most recent such activity was a banner circulating on social media this month that drew criticism from netizens. The banner, signed by the West Java Social Affairs Agency, campaigned for "war against societal illnesses" including "LGBT". Besides LGBT, the office listed "beggars, ex-convicts, people with HIV/AIDS, and prostitutes" as illnesses.
The previous month, the Attorney General's Office seized hundreds of comic books reportedly depicting LGBT images from the Pasar Baru Post Office in Central Jakarta, Antara news agency reported.
In February, the Depok administration set up an anti-LGBT team. "By forming this special team, we can help limit the presence of the LGBT community in the city," Depok Mayor Muhammad Idris said.
The Indonesian government and society have never been warm to the LGBT community. However, rising government persecution has been palpable since January 2016, when several officials, lawmakers and the media made statements cornering the LGBT community.
The first statement was from Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir, stating that "LGBT people should be banned from entering universities for corrupting the nation's morals."
The minister made the statement in response to an uproar concerning a poster by the Support Group and Resource Center on Sexuality Studies (SGRC) at University Indonesia, which announced their LGBT counseling program earlier in the month.
In February the same year, the Indonesian Ulema Council announced their plan to issue an edict banning all Muslims from joining advocacy activities supporting LGBT rights.
Sociologist and gay-rights activist, Dede Oetomo, said LGBT people did not get equal protection from the government. "When it comes to protection for the LGBT community, the government are not progressive, and are even lagging behind the international world," Dede told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Dede said Indonesia, which declared itself a democratic country, was governed by conservative apparatuses and manned by conservative society.
Although the Constitutional Court rejected the request to criminalize LGBT sexual activities in December last year, the court did not touch on the substance of the request. The majority of justices, five out of nine, said the broadening definition of adultery and "criminal law norms" was not their decision to make, but that of the House of Representatives and the government.
At present, the House is deliberating revisions to the Criminal Code and several lawmakers have discussed the possibility of adding an article to criminalize gay sex.
Lini Zurlia, an Indonesian advocate of Southeast Asia gay rights NGO, SOGIE Causcus, cited another example of the homophobic state, which was a statement published on the website of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission in 2016 that banned programs promoting the LGBT community from television and radio.
"Soon afterward, even dance maestros such as Didik Ninik Thowok found it hard to perform on air," she said. Lini said Indonesia used to celebrate artists with androgynous expression such as Dorce Gamalama and Ozy Syahputra.
Lini said some local cultures embraced diverse sexual and gender orientation and were relaxed about them. But lately, such cultural expression had more limited space. "It is a shame that instead of reducing homophobia, the state is sponsoring hate," she said.
Ran, not his real name, a 24-year-old gay man from Bandung, West Java, said he had to keep his sexual identity hidden from his conservative family. "They would disown me if I came out," he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
He also said he felt being gay was wrong. "This is not normal, it is against God's law," he said.
Jay, also not his real name, a 24-year-old gay man living in North Jakarta, said being gay was just a phase in his life. "One day I will get married to a girl and have children," he said. "I am my parents' only child. I know they want me to continue the family line."
Responding to this, Lini said feeling guilty of being gay was a phase that LGBT people often went through as a consequence of the repressing society. "When society represses your sexuality in the name of religion, morality or family resilience, unnecessary guilt can internalize within yourself," she said.
She also said that repression could cause LGBT people in denial to become homophobic too. "It is called internalized homophobia. When people try too hard to deny they are actually gay, this can be expressed as aggressive hate toward the LGBT community because they do not want to be identified as one of them," she said.
Ran and Jay, however, said they were content with laying low and not making a stir by coming out, which could attract persecution. "Every time someone called me a 'fag' or I saw anti-LGBT banners in public places I'd just shoo the pain away," Ran said.
Sheany, Jakarta In many parts of rural Indonesia where child marriage is still considered a viable option, it remains a challenge to establish open communication between those involved, which is crucial to changing mindsets and ending the practice.
For Dwi Ayu Pratiwi, who saw many of her classmates getting married at a young age, changing parents' mindsets is key to stopping child marriage.
However, that in itself is no easy task, especially when strong cultural norms on adult-child relations favor the former. To avoid being labeled disobedient, many children refrain from voicing their doubts or disagreement, even when it comes to crucial decisions.
"Most of the time, parents tell us that we must not be disobedient or confrontational. But I think it's better to be engaged in a discussion, so the child can be more open and communicative with her parents," Dwi told the Jakarta Globe in a recent interview.
A study found that 32 percent of married women between the ages of 20 and 24 in her village in Sukabumi district, West Java, got married before they were 18 years old.
According to an article based on the study, published in January 2016 in Jurnal Perempuan, Indonesia's first feminist academic journal, "this is slightly higher than the provincial data, which stood at 26 percent in 2015. It is higher compared with the national data on marriage before 18, which is 23 percent."
The study formed part of ongoing doctoral research by the Van Vollenhoven Institute at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
The study looked at child marriage in Sukabumi and the role of girls' agency towards parents or elders in such situations and highlighted that gender and age are "crosscutting hierarchies with girls at the most powerless side of the equation."
"In the village, your silence is perceived as agreement... Sometimes young girls may be afraid of being labeled disobedient, or they lack good communication skills to discuss the matter with their parents," said Navita Hani, field coordinator at the Java Village Foundation, which was established in 2007 to focus on improving the lives of vulnerable communities, especially women and young people, in West Java.
According to Navita, a strong tradition of child marriage and a deeply entrenched patriarchal culture contribute to the high prevalence of child marriage in Dwi's village. "The women are not in a position to bargain when they get married," Navita said.
In addition, many villagers also consider marriage the best option to avoid extramarital sex, or zina.
Since many girls enter into religious marriages, or nikah siri, such unions are not registered with the government. A comparison between the 2016 research findings and official data shows that child marriages are often unreported.
Indonesia's 1974 Marriage Law sets the legal marriageable age at 21, but with parental consent girls as young as 16 are allowed to marry, whereas the minimum age for boys is 19. However, there is an exemption allowing girls as young as 13 to legally marry with parental consent and judicial approval.
According to the 2016 article, which featured six of 28 qualitative case studies, some girls were only 14 years old when they got married.
The case studies showed that various factors, including religion, poverty and pressure from parents and neighbors, contribute to the continuing practice.
"Besides parents, there's also pressure from the community. In some cases, the parents feel they have to marry off their girls or boys to avoid gossip by neighbors, or the fear of zina," Java Village Foundation chairwoman Mies Grijns told the Jakarta Globe. Grijns is also an external doctoral researcher at the Van Vollenhoven Institute.
Navita said the pursuit of education is not encouraged in the village and that most respondents in the case studies either did not complete primary school, or ended their education at that stage.
"Many parents don't consider education as important. They think that even without education, their kids can still go to work and their daughters can be married off," Navita said.
Dwi, who is now 19 years old, told the Jakarta Globe that there were fewer girls in her class when she entered middle school compared with when she was in primary school. She added that there were even fewer by the time she entered high school.
"[Our] parents think, why should we go to school for so long? Especially girls. At the end of the day, won't we just spend time in the kitchen anyway?" Dwi said.
As part of its work in the village, the Java Village Foundation recognizes that youth empowerment is crucial to resolving some of the ongoing issues and that this would also change people's mindsets, which is key to ending the practice of child marriage.
The Java Village Foundation plans to launch a learning center in Dwi's village later this year to empower and support the local youth those between the ages of 12 and 24 and encourage them to actively participate in the community.
In preparation for the program launch, the foundation has been holding monthly meetings and discussions, and it is currently creating training courses that will form part of the learning center's regular activities.
Navita said the meetings address youth-related issues, including reproductive health, drugs and bullying.
"By involving the youth, the learning center aims to foster a sense of ownership in the community and create a support system that respects children's rights," she said.
She added that the village youth has been enthusiastic about the program, a sentiment echoed by Dwi. "The learning center can guide us through training, which will be important to shape our skills and help us find work later," Dwi said.
However, there is not one single solution to ending child marriage, Grijns said. "It really needs to be contextualized. Listening to adolescents is a crucial step, but there are many more actors that deal with child marriage," she said.
As a small foundation, Java Village carries out its mission through cooperation with civil society, including teachers, youth leaders, the village administration and staff at the local community health center, or puskesmas.
The foundation is also planning to engage village officials and religious leaders in the community to raise collective awareness of the issue of child marriage.
"There's a strong religious tradition in the village, and religious figures have the power to legitimize child marriage, so that's one of the challenges we plan to tackle by engaging these figures," Navita said.
Farid M Ibrahim Indonesian President Joko Widodo is facing calls to speed up an end to child marriages as experts warn the situation has reached "emergency" point.
The push comes amid reports that Indonesian girls as young as 14 are still getting married in the country.
Although the legal age for marriage is 19 for men and 16 for girls, a loophole allows an exception for underage couples if they are given permission by a religious court.
Mr Widodo has the power to overrule an existing law by issuing a "Perppu", or presidential decree, which he said last month he would pursue "as soon as possible".
The University of Indonesia's Sulistyowati Irianto said the rate of child marriages had hit a state of "emergency", with more underage couples getting married in recent months.
"The President has to consider political landscapes at the moment, but I hope the Perppu will be issued soon," Dr Irianto told the ABC.
Altering the status quo risks upsetting sections of the community, especially religious groups. But calls for urgent change have been fuelled by an Indonesian Government/UNICEF report estimating 17 per cent of Indonesian girls were married before the age of 18.
The debate was thrown back into the spotlight when the marriage of a 14-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy in Sulawesi went viral, prompting the Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry to intervene.
According to CNN Indonesia, the intervention failed, and the couple were wed despite the high-profile calls to stop the ceremony.
Another case in Sulawesi saw a 16-year-old boy marry a 14-year-old girl after gaining a dispensation from a local religious court.
A similar situation also took place in Lombok when a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy were wed by their parents.
The exceptions granted by the Marriage Act are "misused by many underage couples to get married", local Lombok official Muhammad Idrus said. Belief adulthood 'begins at first period'
Dr Irianto was invited earlier this month, along with other experts, to the presidential office in Jakarta to discuss how the Government could end underage marriages.
"The President is under pressure because he wants to crack down on this practice, but he is well aware that politically, it is very sensitive to revise marriage law," Dr Irianto told the ABC.
Dr Irianto said some parents gave their approval based on a cultural perception of adulthood, believing it started when a girl had her period for the first time.
That was the case for the parents of a 12-year-old girl and her 21-year-old partner in Sinjai, a district in South Sulawesi province.
The families said the girl was ready to be a bride, but as news went viral on social media, local authorities quickly moved to prevent the wedding.
The would-be bride's father told local media that the marriage was cancelled because no civil or religious registry was willing to carry out the wedding.
Mr Idrus, the Lombok official, said some parents of underage couples gave their approval in order to prevent sexual relationships outside marriage.
"Usually judges in religious courts would agree to this argument based on moral grounds," he said. This exception, according to Dr Irianto, is a loophole in the law that can be revised by a presidential decree.
Jakarta Graft defendant and former House of Representatives speaker Setya Novanto and his nephew, Irvanto Pambudi Cahyo, named five top Golkar Party politicians whom they accused of having received bribes related to the e-ID procurement project.
Kompas.com reported that in a hearing at the Jakarta Corruption Court on Monday, Setya and Irvanto revealed that Golkar lawmaker Chairuman Harahap, the former head of House Commission II, had received funds from the project.
Irvanto, who claimed that he was assigned to hand over the money to Chairuman, said the lawmaker received US$1.5 million from businessman Made Oka Masagung, who was also named a suspect in the graft case.
Meanwhile, Setya stated that then-House speaker Ade Komarudin, also a Golkar politician, had received $700,000 for having helped smoothen the approval for the e-ID card budget.
Irvanto later mentioned that House member Agun Gunandjar Sudarsa had received SG$1.5 million from Made Oka and businessman Andi Narogong, who also had been named a graft suspect.
Melchias Marcus Mekeng and Markus Nari were also named in the hearing. The two Golkar politicians were said to have accepted $1 million from Irvanto on the 12th floor of the House building. It was said at that time, Melchias served as chairman of the House budget committee.
In the hearing on Monday, Setya and Irvanto testified as a witness for Anang Sugiana Sudihardjo, the president director of IT consulting firm PT Quadra Solution, which was part of the consortium that won the procurement of the e-ID system. (hol/ebf)
M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is currently investigating the alleged involvement of other parties in the Bank Century corruption case based on the obtained evidence.
"The investigators have detailed the actions of each party and have exposed it to the KPK leaders," said KPK spokesman, Febri Diansyah on Thursday, May 17.
KPK has just named the former Deputy Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Budi Mulya as a convict in the Century case. Budi has been named a suspect since 2013. The panel of judges at the Corruption Court sentenced Budi to 10 years in prison. At the cassation level, the Supreme Court escalated Budi's sentence to 15 years.
At that time, the judge of Supreme Court Artidjo Alkostar declared that Budi was guilty of misusing his authority in the provision of short-term funding facilities (FPJP) and the determination of Bank Century as a failed bank created the systemic impact. The Century case is said to cause a state loss of up to trillions of rupiah.
Febri did not specify the names of other parties being investigated by KPK. However, KPK Chairman Agus Rahardjo once said that his institution is investigating the role of 10 people suspected to be involved in the case, adding that he had assigned the investigators to map the role of those 10 people.
In Budi's indictment, KPK prosecutors mentioned 10 names of other BI officials who are assumed to be responsible in the Century case. They are the former BI Governor Boediono, former Senior Deputy Governor Miranda S. Gultom, as well as five former BI deputy governors, namely Muliaman Hadad, Siti Fadjriah, Budi Rochadi, Hartadi A. Sarwono, and Ardhayadi M.
The Secretary of the Financial System Stability Committee Raden Pardede, as well as the President Director of Bank Century Hermanus H. Muslim and Bank Century shareholder Robert Tantular were also mentioned in the indictment.
In the appeal verdict against Budi Mulya, the Supreme Court judge stated that Budi was found guilty of committing unlawful acts together with the officials named in the indictment.
Following the terrorists attacks in Indonesia last week including horrific suicide bombings at four different sites in Surabaya, several people have been arrested by police for sharing hoaxes about the attack, including a university lecturer in North Sumatra who was arrested on Saturday for allegedly writing a Facebook post calling the attacks "a distraction" and implying they were done for political purposes.
The deputy speaker of Indonesia's House of Representatives (DPR), Fadli Zon, recently told the media that he didn't think that the attacks were actually done by terrorists because in his opinion, Indonesians could not be terrorists.
"Because I'm sure Indonesians are not terrorists, in my opinion. There must be a mastermind behind it or somebody who is motivating, taking advantage of or manipulating them," the senior Gerindra party leader said at the Parliament building today as quoted by Tribun.
The Indonesian Police have told the public that the families behind the bombings in Surabaya were members of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Indonesian militant extremist network with loyalties to the Islamic State terror group.
In his comments this morning, Fadli said that terrorist events began to increase in Indonesia after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York (perhaps forgetting about incidents like the 2000 Christmas Eve bombings in Indonesia). He connected that increase to unscrupulous parties that were using terrorism to advance their interests in Indonesia.
"If we look before 2001, before there was 9/11, there is no such thing as suicide bombing, etc. So there are people who use this terrorism for their purposes," Fadli said without elaborating on who those people might be.
The deputy house speaker's comments were made in connection to the revision to the country's 2003 Terrorism Law which is currently being pushed through the DPR following last week's attacks. The law would give the government expanded powers to take preventative action against possible attacks, but one of the sticking points that has prevented its passage in the past is the definition of terrorism.
Fadli argued that he wanted "ideology and political objectives" to be included as part of the definition in the revision, in order to prevent the law from being misused against the government's political opponents (a concern that some human rights activists share).
The deputy house speaker, who has shown himself to be a fan of both US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past, received heavy criticism due to a politicized tweet he posted just hours after the church bombings in Surabaya in which he said, "Terrorism usually develops in countries with weak leadership, easily intervened, with great poverty, inequality and injustice."
Apriadi Gunawan and Vela Andapita, Medan/Jakarta North Sumatra Police have arrested a lecturer at North Sumatra University (USU), identified as HDL, and a security guard at a regional bank, identified as AAD, over the weekend for their social media comments that suggested the Surabaya church attacks were an attempt to "divert attention" from current issues.
The police have charged them with inciting hate speech under the Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law.
"What a perfect attention-diverting scenario. #2019GantiPresiden[2019ChangePresident]," HDL posted on May 13, the day of the attacks. Her post had since gone viral.
North Sumatra Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Tatan Dirsan Atmaja said that HDL, who was arrested at her house in the Johor Permai residential complex in Medan Johor, would be charged with Article 28 of the 2008 ITE Law.
"HDL told the police that she wrote the post while she was emotional from being disappointed in the government," Tatan said on Sunday. HDL told the police she was upset over the rising prices of goods.
"Our officers have questioned several witnesses and confiscated some items as evidence, namely a cell phone and a SIM card," he added.
Budi Agustono, the dean of USU's Humanities Department and HDL's direct superior, said the lecturer's actions did not reflect the institution's views. As a lecturer who had been teaching for 16 years, Budi said, she should have known better not to post the comment on social media.
Tatan said the other suspect, AAD, posted a Facebook comment on May 17 that said, "There are no terrorists in Indonesia, it is only a fiction, [an attempt] at diverting attention from important issues." AAD did not elaborate on what he meant by "important issues".
Tatan advised members of the public to be careful in sharing their thoughts on social media, as they might spark controversy that might drag them to court.
A similar incident occurred that involved a pilot of state-owned airline Garuda Indonesia, who was identified as OGT. OGT allegedly shared a third-party Facebook post on his Facebook account that said the suicide bombings in Surabaya were part of a conspiracy.
OGT commented on the post with "dudududu", a vague expression that was perceived among netizens as supporting terrorism, and who responded to his shared post with bullying and anger. Some netizens accused him of being a radical.
OGT's post also went viral, prompting the Garuda Indonesia management to take immediate measures against him. Garuda Indonesia corporate secretary to the vice president Hengki Hariandono said on Saturday that OGT had been suspended while the airline investigated the case.
"I am sorry for causing such inconvenience. We are attempting to uncover the reason behind OGT's post. Should we find that he had engaged in behavior that deviated from our ethics [policy], we will penalize him according to company policies," said Hengki, as quoted by kompas.com.
Shortly after the string of terror attacks hit West Java and East Java earlier this month, some social media users speculated that the attacks were part of a conspiracy. The conspiracy theories ranged from a smear campaign against Islam to a political motive related to the upcoming elections, as HDL had suggested.
Such conspiracy theory posts have been popular, but have also garnered attacks from other social media users that have accused the posters of supporting the terror attacks. (evi)
Moses Ompusunggu and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta Indonesia will soon have a new antiterrorism law to replace the current law, which is widely seen as weak, with deliberations on the antiterrorism bill expected to conclude this May or June.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post in an interview on Thursday, Enny Nurbaningsih, head of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo administration's team to deliberate the antiterrorism bill, ensured the new legislation could provide security for Indonesians against deadly terror attacks such as those that had occurred recently in numerous places across Indonesia's most populated island of Java.
Calls for the government and the House of Representatives to conclude the long-due deliberation on the bill have mounted after the attacks, which were allegedly conducted by an Islamic State (IS)-linked local jihadist organization known as Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD).
Enny, who is also head of the Law and Human Rights Ministry's National Law Development Agency (BPHN), said the government expected deliberations to be concluded at a hearing with the parliament scheduled for May 23, saying that nearly "99 percent" of the bill's content had been finalized, and only the debate over the definition of terrorism as a crime remained to be concluded.
Below are some crucial points in the antiterrorism bill, which was initiated after the Jan. 14, 2016 bombings on Jl. MH Thamrin, one of Jakarta's busiest thoroughfares.
One of the main reasons the deliberations have been dragging on for months is that the government and the House have failed to reach an agreement on what constitutes terrorism.
While the government insists that terrorism is "any deed that uses violence or threats of violence on a massive scale, and/or causes damage to strategic vital objects, the environment, public facilities or international facilities", the House demands that terrorism as a crime includes "any deed that is based on political and ideological motives and/or threats to state security."
Lawmakers have said a detailed and rigid definition of terrorism as a crime would ensure that investigators crack down on terrorist activities, while the government believes it would only hamper terrorism prevention and mitigation processes, as it would obligate investigators to determine whether suspects had either political or ideological motives before naming them as terrorists.
Enny said the government would accommodate the parliament's request by inserting the latter's version in the general explanation part of the bill, not in the verse section of it.
The government expects to convey that proposal to the parliament at the scheduled May 23 hearing, so that the bill can be further deliberated before being proposed for the next plenary meeting.
Law enforcers will have greater powers. The new terrorism law will include numerous provisions on terrorism prevention measures something that is not dealt with comprehensively in the prevailing terror law, Enny said.
"For instance, we can do nothing to people who plan terror attacks if we use the prevailing law," said Enny. Under the bill, plotting terror attacks is a crime.
The bill stipulates that a person accused of terrorism could be held in custody from seven to 14 days without charges. Law enforcers could hold them for up to 200 days after officially charging them with terrorism.
Rights activists have voiced concerns over the policy, but Enny ensured that the policy would be carried out in accordance with human rights principles.
If there is a law enforcement officer found guilty of violating human rights principles during the terrorism investigation process, they will be charged with a criminal offense, said Enny.
People who import explosives or components such as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or radioactive weapons for terrorism purposes into the country, or make, receive or possess them, can be charged under Article 10a of the bill, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment.
The bill also charges people who mastermind terror attacks, partake in paramilitary training with the purpose of launching terror attacks or join overseas wars related to terror attacks, with maximum terms ranging from 12 years, 15 years, 20 years to life sentence and the death penalty.
That means the police will later be able to charge Indonesians returning from war-torn countries where they are proven to have joined a terrorist group such as IS.
Terrorism prevention measures also include what the bill describes as "counter-radicalization" and "deradicalization" activities.
Counter-radicalization activities are intended for people or groups that have been exposed to radical teachings that could potentially lead them to committing terror attacks. Deradicalization activities are intended for terrorist suspects, defendants, convicts, inmates or former inmates and aim to reintegrate these people into society.
The bill says counter-radicalization and deradicalization activities will be detailed in other supporting regulations.
The decades-long rivalry between the two institutions to handle and manage state security has been apparent during the deliberation of the terrorism bill. Activists have also warned about possible abuse of power carried out by the two authorities in handling terrorism.
Enny ensured that, while the bill finally included a provision on the role of the TNI in countering terrorism, the military would not be involved in law enforcement.
"To prevent the military from entering the domain of law enforcement, we have decided that the President will regulate the TNI's involvement through a government regulation."
The regulation will refer to the 2004 TNI Law, which stipulates that the TNI's involvement in civilian affairs depends on the political decision of the state, which should be consulted with the House.
Victims of terror attacks have long sought comprehensive provisions about their rights as victims.
Yayasan Penyintas Indonesia, an organization that supports terror victims, detailed in 2016 that over 1,900 victims of terror attacks suffered from physical and mental trauma from a number of bomb attacks that had occurred since the start of the millennium.
House terrorism bill committee chairman Muhammad Syafi'i said last year that "the well-being of victims has been one of our biggest concerns since the beginning of the deliberation."
The terrorism bill has one special chapter dedicated to detailing protection for victims of terror attacks. The bill acknowledges two kinds of victims: direct victims, for example victims who are killed or injured in attacks, and indirect victims, for example wives who lose their husbands as a result of a terror attack.
The bill says terror victims are the "responsibility of the state", a responsibility which is fulfilled by providing medical assistance, psychosocial and psychological rehabilitation, as well as financial compensation for the families of the deceased. (ahw)
M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) considered the death sentence for terrorist convict was not a solution to counterterrorism since the perpetrator saw it as their ultimate goal.
"A life imprisonment is enough. Death for them is a hope," said Komnas Ham Commissioner Choirul Anam in Menteng, Jakarta, on Saturday, May 19.
On the trial last Friday, the prosecutor demanded defendant Aman Abdurrahman a death sentence because of the leader of ISIS in Indonesia's involvement in a series of terror attacks.
The prosecutor mentioned Aman Abdurrahman had instructed five terror attacks to his followers in Jemaah Anshorud Daulah (JAD) from January to June 2017; Kampung Melayu and Sarinah bombings in Jakarta, bombings in a Church in Samarinda, the attack in North Sumatera HQ, and the attacks against police in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara.
According to Choirul, counterterrorism efforts required thorough action such as dismantling the terrorist network and deradicalization program; not a death sentence.
Choirul considered the death sentence as detrimental to the handling of terrorism case since the police will likely lose a chance to dismantle its network.
Jakarta The National Police's counterterrorism squad Densus 88 has made a string of arrests and raided several places in Sumatra and Java on Friday, the police announced over the weekend.
News agency Antara reported three people had been arrested in three separate locations in Sumatra on Friday. One, YR, was arrested in Ogan Komering Hulu in South Sumatra; another, HS, in Pekanbaru, Riau; and the third, Sup, in Pesawaran in Lampung.
All three were accused of being linked to the attack on the Riau Police headquarters in Pekanbaru on Thursday, the day before the arrests.
The suspects were members of Jamaah Anshar Daulah (JAD), a local terror group affiliated with the Islamic State (IS), said South Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen Zulkarnain Adinegara.
Earlier, the police had arrested eight others in connection with the Riau Police headquarters attack in several places in Dumai, Riau. The eight were identified as HAR, NI, AS, SW, HD, YEP, DS and SY.
Also on Friday, the police raided four houses in one kampung in Mangun Jaya, South Tambun. Four suspects were thought to reside in the houses, but no tenants were found at the time of the raid.
The four tenants were identified as AG, IL, YH and IN, and they lived close to each other, Tambun Police chief Comr. Rahmat Sudjatmiko said as quoted by Warta Kota.
From the raid, the police confiscated several items such as books, a computer, CDs on religious teachings, a cell phone and a bag of nails. "We are still investigating the suspects' involvement in terrorist networks," Rahmat said.
The landlord of the four houses, Abu Sofyan, said AH, YH and IN had been renting the houses for more than eight months, while IL had been there for only two months. "All four individuals whose houses were raided have families," Abu Sofyan said.
He said the four tenants rarely interacted with other residents in the neighborhood. "None of them mingled with the residents; they were all introverted," he said. (roi/ami/evi)
Jewel Topsfield & Amilia Rosa On her mother's Facebook account, now deleted, a cherub-cheeked Famela Rizqita is leaning on a bench overlooking a lake.
She was nine when she died but here she is younger, adorable in a hot pink hijab with ruffles. The Facebook account is typical of besotted mothers the world over.
There are multiple photos of Ita, as she was nicknamed, posing with her siblings. She is snapped coquettishly holding a rose, in front of an Angry Birds stuffed toy, perched on a bicycle carriage, hoisted on her brother's shoulder and at the beach.
This window into an apparently happy family life makes what happened on Sunday, May 13, all the more incomprehensible. At 7.45am Ita, her mother and her 12-year-old sister tried to enter a church in Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, which has a large ethnic Chinese Christian population. Explosives were strapped to their waists. When a security guard stopped them, they blew themselves up.
A week later Indonesia is still reeling from a wave of terror attacks Wikipedia has already dubbed the 2018 Surabaya bombings.
Ita's mother, Puji Kuswati, had not been acting alone. Ita's father, Dita Oeprianto, and two older brothers targeted two other churches in a coordinated attack that day.
Within 24 hours there were two further bombings, in an apartment complex and outside a police station. These were detonated by two families who had met regularly with Ita's family to study the Koran and watch jihadist movies on Sunday evenings.
The Surabaya attacks 27 people including the bombers were killed and another 50 wounded are the deadliest in Indonesia since the 2002 Bali bombing.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in a message carried on its Amaq propaganda arm. It emerged Dita was the leader of the Surabaya cell of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (Congregation of Supporters of the [Islamic] State), an extreme Islamist network that has pledged allegiance to IS.
But what shocked Indonesia most was the unprecedented use of child suicide bombers in the country. Just days before Ita died, neighbours heard her pleading for a new dress for the Islamic holiday of Lebaran next month.
"If she knew she was going to die that Sunday, why would she cry for a new dress for Lebaran?" asks a horrified Indonesian police officer, who witnessed one of the bombings. "They [the parents] are not human. Especially the father."
Child suicide bombers have been used in other modern conflicts, including by Palestinian militant groups and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
A ghastly video to emerge from the Syrian conflict in December 2016 purported to show nine-year-old "Fatima" about to carry out a "martyrdom operation" in Damascus.
The film suggested "this duty fell to children" because the fighting men had fled "in the green buses", a reference to the evacuation of Aleppo at that time. It is unknown whether the attack was carried out.
And a 2017 UNICEF report said an "alarming" number of children in Africa most of them girls had been used as suicide bombers by Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
However counter-terrorism analyst Noor Huda Ismail says it is an "extremely disturbing new development" in Indonesia.
"The Indonesian government must take this seriously because now you see the level of brutality, the level of pragmatism. They do not mind even sacrificing a member of their family."
The chilling family bombings have implications that could ripple across the world.
"What it means is that the types of potential attackers has been further broadened," says Greg Fealy, an associate professor at the Australian National University.
"It's a bit like the decision that terrorists made some time ago, in the Middle East certainly, to use women as suicide bombers precisely because they held better prospects of getting through security than men did. Normally children would not have attracted close attention from security services. From now on that will have to change."
Even at the height of the influence of Jemaah Islamiyah, the terrorist group responsible for the Bali bombings, only an adult male would ever be considered a warrior, according to terrorism analyst Sidney Jones.
But IS had managed to turn the concept of jihad into a family affair, with a role for everyone.
"Women were 'lionesses', children were 'cubs'," Jones writes on The Lowy Institute's website. "Everyone was given a sense of mission... The problem was that many of the women were not satisfied with the very traditional role [IS] assigned them. Some, as we know from observing social media, wanted more action and admired women suicide bombers in Palestine, Iraq and Chechnya."
Jones and other analysts believe the involvement of whole families in terrorist attacks means deradicalisation programs need a rethink. "It means deradicalisation has to happen as a family it can't only be aimed at the men," she says.
This is something long argued by Noor Huda Ismail, best known in Indonesia for trying to re-integrate former terrorists into mainstream society by employing them at his deradicalisation cafe in Solo, Java.
Two years ago Huda made the documentary Jihad Selfie, which explores how Indonesian teenagers are recruited to IS.
The film's protagonist would-be jihadist Teuku Akbar Maulana cites his closeness to his parents and "the pain of giving birth" as the reason he ultimately decided not to join IS.
"I have been warning the Indonesian government to go beyond the traditional tool of deradicalisation focusing on the father," Huda says. "As I said in my films... [families] are a very important agent in countering violent extremism."
In Wonorejo Asri, a middle-class neighbourhood in Surabaya, an empty swing dangles opposite Ita's home, now boarded up with plywood and draped with police line tape.
Wery Tri Kusuma used to watch Ita and her sister "Lala" (Fadhila Sari) play on this swing. Ita played with his 11-year-old son too, right up until the day before the attack. "If Ita saw my wife she would sit on her lap. We have only one child, my son, so she was like our own daughter."
Wery's wife was close to Ita's mother Puji; they would talk about cooking and Wery's wife would ask for advice on how to get children to be obedient.
"Our son, if we want him to do anything, we have to repeat ourselves before he listens. Her four kids, she never once raised her voice to them. They would follow instantly."
At midday on Sunday police showed Wery photographs of the church bombings. "When I saw the photos, especially the one of Ita, my mind went blank. Her upper body was intact, but just that, the other half gone..."
His eyes well with tears. "The bombs must have been strapped to their bodies too. What went through their [the parents'] minds when doing that? Ita, she likes to cuddle, she knew nothing. She was just a child."
The Surabaya bombings came just days after a deadly riot also by members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD) was staged at a maximum-security detention centre outside Jakarta.
Prisoners seized weapons held at the centre as evidence in court cases and killed five police officers, some of whom were tortured and had their throats slit.
Indonesia has been plunged into a jittery mourning. On Wednesday the carnage continued, with police shooting dead four sword-wielding men who attacked a police station in Sumatra.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who condemned the Surabaya attacks as "barbaric" and "beyond humanity", urged the House of Representatives to amend laws that would give police greater powers to arrest and detain terror suspects.
Police initially claimed the church bombers had received training from IS in Syria, although this was later retracted. It is now believed Ita's father, Dita, was influenced by a family who had tried to join IS but was deported from Turkey.
Former Australian Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg warns of the risk of those frustrated in attempts to join IS in Syria or Iraq staging attacks on Indonesian soil.
"I raised the spectre of this when we saw large numbers of people attempting to leave Australia for Syria," he says. "What we are seeing for the first time is the manifestation of violence IS is franchising to foreign fighters and now to the world."
More than 500 Indonesian IS supporters are still believed to be in Syria. Hundreds more have been killed, deported back to Indonesia or returned voluntarily. "They are going to be gravitating towards JAD ideology and that is going to be a recipe for more violence," Quaedvlieg says.
He says Australia is more secure because it has a stronger border control system and a "fair idea" of who has gone to the Middle East. "We are much better off than Indonesia in terms of knowing where our threats have come from, but we can't be complacent."
Indonesia would brief Australia on the outcome of its investigation into the Surabaya attacks, Quaedvlieg says. However he doubts there will be radical changes to security in Australia as a result: "Australia doesn't want every child, every pram searched at a sporting event, that's not who we are."
The day after Ita was killed, two motorcyclists detonated suicide bombs at the Surabaya police headquarters. Police had just managed to drag officers to safety and secure the perimeter when they heard someone moan with pain.
"We shouted: 'Stand up, Stand Up!'. Everyone of us wanted to help, but the car was on fire and there might still be a bomb," says narcotics unit chief Roni Faisal. Then he realised the victim was a young girl. Roni didn't hesitate. He scooped her up and raced to safety. "All I could think of was that she needed to be saved," he says.
Eight-year-old Ais had been sitting at the front of one of the motorbikes. Her parents and two brothers were killed in the blasts. "I don't think she knows what happened, I think her parents lied to her and told her that they were going for a ride," Roni says. "She cried for help, she stood up. She wanted to live."
Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru, Riau The National Police arrested eight terror suspects in connection with the attack on the Riau Police headquarters in Pekanbaru.
On Thursday, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said the eight were connected to Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD).
Earlier on Wednesday, National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said the suspects in the Riau Police attack, which killed one officer, were part of the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII), not JAD.
"All [recent] terror attacks have a connection to the JAD group because we have monitored its development over the last four years," Tito said on the sidelines of his visit to Riau Police headquarters.
He added that the purpose of the planned amendment to the 2003 Terrorism Law, along with a request for the improvement of detention centers and penitentiaries, was to anticipate the growth of the terror group.
Tito visited Pekanbaru to promote police officers involved in stopping Wednesday's attack. Five masked men attacked the Riau Police headquarters on Wednesday morning with sharp weapons and a firearm, killing an officer and injuring four others including two journalists. Four of the suspects were shot dead, while the fifth was later captured.
A posthumous promotion was awarded to First Insp. Auzar who died after being hit by a car driven by the fleeing terror suspect. (kuk/ebf)
Kanupriya Kapoor, Surabaya The mother of an Indonesian family of six who launched suicide bomb attacks on three churches chatted to neighbors about schooling and swapped recipes, leading what appeared to be a regular middle-class life and eluding counter-terrorism forces.
The family killed at least 18 people, including themselves, by bombing the churches in Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya on Sunday in the worst militant attacks in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country in more than a decade.
Home was a quiet, relatively affluent neighborhood of Surabaya. Most houses in the area have hatchbacks and family cars parked outside and in front a small yard more often than not strewn with toys and children's bicycles.
"My wife talked to the mother all the time about the children's education, about recipes. They often met at the local market," said Wery Trikusuma, who lives next door.
"They were quite open and interactive. They contributed money to neighborhood repairs for example for roads. They often left their front gates open to receive guests, he said, adding it "seemed impossible that they could do this".
The day after the church bombings, six died, including four bombers, in another suicide attack. Another family of five blew themselves up, but the eight-year-old daughter survived.
In another blast in an apartment near Surabaya on Sunday night, three members of a family believed to have been making bombs were killed when one device went off by accident. Three children survived.
Police also later shot dead four people with suspected links to the attacks.
Police suspect the attacks were carried out by a cell of the Islamic State-inspired Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an umbrella organization on a U.S. State Department terrorist list that is reckoned to have drawn hundreds of Indonesian sympathizers of the extremist group.
The families all lived in ordinary middle-class districts where neighbors say they saw few things to mark them out.
"We had received very raw intelligence that there may be an attack in the week before Ramadan but not about when exactly or where," said a senior government official, referring to the Muslim fasting month that started on Thursday in Indonesia.
"But there was never any report about an entire family being used, or that that was even possible."
Police say the father in the family that attacked the churches, Dita Oepriarto, was head of the local JAD cell and likely radicalized decades earlier.
Indonesia set up a counter-terrorism unit, Detachment, or "Densus", 88, in 2003 which is credited with thwarting hundreds of plots, but the Surabaya attacks mark the squad's biggest challenge in decades.
In all, around 30 people have been killed since Sunday in the attacks, including 13 of the suspected suicide bombers.
According to the senior government official, President Joko Widodo decided not to fire top security personnel when he learnt of the shocking nature of the attacks and instead called for action to dismantle the networks and said he would use executive powers to force through a strengthened anti-terrorism law if parliament did not act. The presidential palace did not respond to requests for comment.
"This attack demonstrates that entire communities and families can be radicalized," Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore based terrorism expert, said.
"This means that a catch and kill response alone will not work. The government must engage more with community leaders, schools, religious leaders in addition to expanding counter-terrorism capabilities," he said.
Wawan Purwanto, a spokesman for the intelligence agency, said militants were being influenced by tactics in the Middle East, where children and women have been used in attacks.
He said there may also have been a belief that the whole family would enter heaven by carrying out an attack together.
Ansyad Mbai, a former head of Indonesia's anti-terrorism agency (BNPT), said using a family unit for an attack helped ensure planning was kept secret. The parents of the families had indoctrinated their children and every Sunday evening made them attend a prayer circle with adults, police said.
Oepriarto's house is now boarded up and cordoned off with police tape after being searched by bomb squad and forensics teams for two days.
"On the day of the attack, the father and the two male children attended morning prayers at the neighborhood mosque and then came back home briefly. They went out again at around 7 a.m. but I didn't know where they were going. It turned out to be to the churches," said the neighbor, Trikusuma.
Still, it appears there were some warning signs. In the attack on Surabaya's city police headquarters on Monday, the father who brought his family on motorbikes to blow themselves up had come up on police radar after visiting terror convicts in a nearby jail, according to the community head.
Kukuh Santoso, 47, said that six to eight months ago the father, Tri Murtiono, had visited the convicts in a jail in Porong and after that police had paid a visit to the family.
"Besides that, we had absolutely no idea they were even thinking like this", said Santoso. A counter-terrorism source confirmed this account, but declined to elaborate.
Christine T. Tjandraningsih A special Indonesian military unit has joined the police in cracking down on terrorist cells amid a recent wave of suicide bombings in the world's most populous Muslim nation, the head of the national police said Wednesday.
"I called Indonesian Defense Force Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto to request the involvement of the army's special force unit KOPASSUS in our operation to crack down on terrorism," National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said on the talk show program Indonesian Lawyers' Club.
"He approved and KOPASSUS has joined us since Tuesday," Tito said on the program broadcast by the Jakarta-based private television network tvOne.
On Sunday, a six-member family carried out suicide bomb attacks on three Christian churches in Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, killing 13 other people as well.
The following day, a five-member family carried out a suicide attack on the police headquarters in Surabaya. Four members of that family, including 14 and 17-year-old sons, died in the attack, while a 7-year-old daughter survived.
Those bombings were the first terrorist attacks in Indonesia to involve children among the suicide bombers, according to police. The bombings occurred after a series of attacks on police near the national capital Jakarta days earlier.
Those attacks, in which six policemen died, began with the rioting of detained Islamic militants at the detention center of an elite police unit.
After the rioting began last Tuesday, radical Muslim groups called via social media for their followers to go to the detention center to help the inmates battle the police.
Police have since conducted a series of raids targeting people associated with Dita Oepriarto, 46, the Surabaya regional leader of the Islamic State-linked radical group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah.
Dita died with his wife and four children, aged 8 to 17, in last Sunday's suicide attacks on the churches. Police have said the family involved in Monday's attack on the Surabaya police headquarters regularly attended Koran study sessions every Sunday at Dita's home.
In particular, Indonesian authorities are currently searching for Cholid Abubakar and another unidentified man, who indoctrinated through radical teachings the two families and suicide bomber to-be family of Anton Ferdiantono, according to police.
Police said Cholid's family had once tried to enter Syria but was stopped by the Turkish government, which ordered them to return to Indonesia. The family's current whereabouts is unknown.
A source at the National Counterterrorism Agency told Kyodo News that on January 18, 2016, the fathers of all three families involved in actual or planned suicide bombings in recent days around Surabaya, along with Cholid and six other people visited Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of al-Qaida's Southeast Asia splinter group Jemaah Islamiyah, in prison.
Abu Bakar Bashir is serving time for terrorism at the Nusakambangan island prison, known as Indonesia's Alcatraz.
The next day, they also visited a key Islamic State figure in Indonesia, Aman Abdurrahman, and Iwan Darmawan Muntho, a militant on death row also known as Rois.
As a result of extensive raids conducted over recent days in East Java province, police have arrested dozens of suspected terrorists, including a number of married couples. Others have died in shoot-outs with the counterterrorism police, according to Indonesian authorities.
"The total number of bombs found since Sunday in the houses and rented houses of the suspected terrorist suspects would almost fill one truck," East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said. "There are hundreds of bombs."
John McBeth, Jakarta For a long period during last week's 36-hour stand-off at Indonesia's paramilitary Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters, scores of rioting militants were in charge of a massive cache of automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
According to sources familiar with what transpired, the only reason the siege didn't turn into a pitched gun-battle with police was that the leaders of the uprising lost contact with three coordinators outside the prison, known only as Deden, Ronggo and Ilham.
Who they were and what was planned remains unclear, but they were almost certainly members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), the Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate which engineered the uprising and was responsible for a subsequent wave of bombings in the port city of Surabaya that left 13 bombers and 12 civilians dead.
National police chief Tito Karnavian said there was little doubt the events were connected, signaling the emergence of a cell-based organization that may be more dangerous than the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network that terrorized the country in the early 2000s.
In the days since, Indonesian police lost one of their own in killing four sword-wielding men who attacked the Riau, Sumatra, provincial police headquarters in Pekanbaru on May 16, adding to two others shot earlier in one of a mounting series of raids across the country.
If any doubts were left after the last year's five-month siege of the southern Philippine city of Marawi, the recent events in Indonesia have demonstrated that while the ISIS caliphate may have been effectively destroyed, its reach and influence in Southeast Asia has not.
Instigated by Wawan Kurniawan, 42, a prominent JAD militant from Sumatra, the May 9-10 prison riot led to the savage murder of five Detachment 88 counterterrorism officers and seizure of the arms cache in an unsecured room adjoining the temporary detention center.
According to a police accounting seen by Asia Times, the cache included 59 automatic rifles, 29 pistols, 11,000 rounds of 7.62 mm and 10,000 rounds of 5.52 mm ammunition, and boxes of bullets for everything from.22 to.45 caliber pistols.
The militants were initially able to connect to social media, with the first news of the riot appearing on ISIS's Amaaq news agency and video from inside the jail later being uploaded to Instagram.
It took time for police to activate a signal scrambler, which explains the militants' subsequent breakdown in communications with the outside.
Like Kurniawan, only 40-50 of the 156 prisoners were considered hard-core extremists; many of the inmates on trial or awaiting trial in the three cell blocks were possible candidates for de-radicalization, but little effort had been made to screen them all.
JAD founder Aman Abdurrahman, who was being held in a more secure part of the same prison, is currently on trial for directing an attack in central Jakarta in early 2016 from the high-security Nusakambangan island prison off Java's south coast.
The stand-off finally ended after Abdurrahman was reportedly persuaded to record a surrender plea and police overwhelmed Kurniawan and nine other hold-outs in a hail of gunfire after cutting off power, food and water.
As violence and arrests continued in West and East Java and Sumatra, President Joko Widodo pledged to issue a presidential regulation if Parliament fails to pass an early revision to the 2003 Anti-Terrorism Law to give police greater powers of arrest and detention.
Police chief Karnavian has said he wants military intelligence to help in investigating JAD "down to its roots," as Widodo put it, but there is likely to be strong opposition to legislating an additional role for the armed forces in the counterterrorism effort.
Instead of Afghanistan war veterans who made up the core of Jemaah Islamiyah, JAD is a collection of home-grown jihadi groups, among them dependents who are clearly as dedicated to the ISIS cause as the militants themselves.
Proof of that is in the three families, including mothers and children, who carried out the suicide attacks on three Surabaya Christian churches and the city's police headquarters, and triggered the blasts that rocked a low-cost apartment block in the city's southern suburb of Sidoarjo.
Police reports that the six family members behind the church attacks were recent returnees from Syria turned out to be false. But there are still serious concerns whether enough is being done to monitor or rehabilitate the 500 Indonesians known to have come back so far.
Another 600 are still unaccounted for, but scores of fighters may have died in the final desperate days before the collapse of ISIS' caliphate and their dependents could still be in detention camps along the Turkish border.
JAD is expected to see the Surabaya attacks as a model for future operations against security forces, still their main target, and to continue its campaign of terror against Christian congregations and other ethnic and religious minorities.
Instead of the bulkier pressure cooker device favored so far, the Surabaya attackers assembled scores of pipe-bombs, easier to conceal but packed with high-explosive TATP, or acetone peroxide, made from readily available retail products.
The sustained level of violence has put police on edge with the Ramadan fasting period beginning today and ISIS well known for perversely convincing its followers that carrying out attacks during the Islamic holy month brings extra merit.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko claimed that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had expressed his consent to bringing back to life the suspended military Joint Special Operations Command (Koopsusgab) tasked with countering terrorism.
The team, which included and will again include personnel of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus), the Navy's Denjaka specialized squad and the Air Force's Bravo 90 special force, would be put on standby and be ready to be mobilized at any time when terror threats emerged, Moeldoko said.
"This joint force was well trained and prepared in terms of its capacity, and it could be deployed anywhere on the country's soil as fast as possible [...]. Its role would be to assist the National Police," Moeldoko said on Wednesday.
His statement followed a recent string of terrorist attacks that has thrust the country into a state of paranoia.
The joint force was first established under Moeldoko when he served as the Indonesian Military (TNI) commander in 2015. The special command's operations, however, were suspended under the leadership of Moeldoko's successor, Gen (ret.) Gatot Nurmantyo.
Further tasks of the special command would be discussed between TNI commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto and National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, with the latter to have the final say on whether it needed the assistance of the TNI's special team or not, Moeldoko said.
"This operation must be carried out for preventive purposes, so that the public can feel safe [...]. We [the security apparatus] are ready to face any kind of situation, so people should put their trust in us and not worry," he said.
The revitalization of the joint force did not require any new regulations, Moeldoko said, adding that the details about the command's tasks would be adjusted with the planned amendment to the 2003 Terrorism Law.
The announcement came as the House of Representatives and the government began to clear up contentious articles that had caused deadlock in the deliberation of the Terrorism Law revision, including the legal definition of terrorism and the military's level of involvement in counterterrorism operations.
A greater level of involvement has stirred debate among experts and human rights activists.
Seven ruling parties and the government had agreed on a definition of terrorism that included acts that had "political and ideological motives and threaten national security", United Development Party (PPP) lawmaker Arsul Sani said.
It is widely believed that such a definition would provide leeway for greater involvement of the TNI in counterterrorism efforts. As the government and the lawmakers appear to be on the same page now, observers expect the bill to be passed into law in the near future.
Jokowi has recently said he would issue a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on the Terrorism Law if the House failed to conclude deliberations on the bill by June.
Members of a committee tasked with deliberating the bill said it was the leading opposition Gerindra Party and the Democratic Party, both political parties with strong military influence, that had demanded the inclusion of the contentious provisions.
"We support [the terrorism bill]," Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto said during his visit to the House on Wednesday.
Deliberation of the bill is believed to have been stalled mainly because of a tug of war between the TNI and the police, which led to division among political parties factions into pro-TNI and pro-police camps.
Four men were shot and killed as they staged an attack on a police headquarters that left one officer dead and two wounded, Indonesian authorities said Wednesday, after a wave of deadly suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State group.
The latest assault in Pekanbaru on the island of Sumatra saw a group ram a minivan into a gate at the station and then attack officers with samurai swords, according to the country's national police.
It was not clear if Wednesday's incident was linked to the earlier attacks which saw two families who knew each other and belonged to the same religious study group stage suicide bombings at churches and a police station in Surabaya, Indonesia's second biggest city.
The attacks have put Indonesia on edge as the world's biggest Muslim majority country starts the holy fasting month of Ramadan from Thursday.
This week's bloody violence is putting pressure on lawmakers to pass a stalled security law that would give police more power to take pre-emptive action against people suspected of planning terror attacks.
Indonesia which is set to host the Asian Games in just three months and an IMF-World Bank meeting in Bali in October has long struggled with Islamist militancy, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed over 200 people mostly foreign tourists in the country's worst-ever terror attack.
On Wednesday, police said they shot dead four of the attackers at the Sumatra police station and later arrested another who had fled.
Indonesian media said one attacker may have had a bomb strapped to his body but police did not immediately confirm the reports. No group has yet taken responsibility for Wednesday's attack.
Indonesia's security forces have arrested hundreds of militants during a sustained crackdown that smashed some networks, and most recent attacks have been low-level and targeted domestic security forces.
Last year, a suicide bombing at a bus station in Jakarta killed three police officers.
But on Sunday, a family of six including girls aged nine and 12 staged suicide bombings of three churches during morning services in Surabaya, killing 13.
All six bombers were killed, including the mother who was Indonesia's first known female suicide bomber. The next day, members of another family blew themselves up at a police station in the city, wounding 10.
The coordinated church attack was a sign local extremist groups were becoming more proficient, and stirs concerns about an uptick in extremism as hundreds of Indonesians who flocked to fight alongside Islamic State in the Middle East return home.
"They were better organized... and suggest a higher level of capacity than what we have seen in recent years," said Sidney Jones, director of Jakarta-based Institute of Policy Analysis for Conflict.
The church bombing family were in the same religious study group as the two other families linked to the attacks, police said.
"They had the same teacher and they regularly met for Koran recital every week," said East Java police chief Machfud Arifin, adding that police were pursuing the teacher for questioning.
The families have been linked to the local chapter of Indonesian extremist network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which police said was behind the attacks.
The radical group supports Islamic State, whose ambitions have been reined in after losing most of the land it once occupied in Iraq and Syria.
Police have said the church and earlier police station attacks were motivated by the arrest of JAD leaders, including jailed radical Aman Abdurrahman.
They followed a deadly prison riot staged by Islamist prisoners at a high-security jail near Jakarta last week.
Jakarta Officers from the Tangerang Police and the National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism squad arrested three men suspected of being members of a terrorist group and detained a woman as a witness in raids in two separate locations in Tangerang, Banten, on Wednesday.
"We have arrested three men at two crime scenes and detained a woman as a witness," Tangerang Police chief Harry Kurniawan said on Wednesday as reported by kompas.com.
He said the two locations were located 1 kilometer apart. The first raid was made on Jl. Gempol in Pinang, Tangerang. "The second was in Kunciran Indah, some 1 kilometer away from the first scene," Harry said.
He said there was no exchange of gunfire or any explosions during the arrest of the suspected terrorists.
Harry declined to reveal the identity of the three suspects. "Their names will be revealed at the National Police headquarters," Harry said. (ami)
Surabaya Counterterrorism squad Densus 88 raided on Tuesday evening the residences of terror suspects believed to be linked to the recent bombings in Surabaya and Sidoarjo, East Java. One suspect was killed during the raid, while two families comprising nine people were detained for further questioning.
The police sought to apprehend Dedy Sulistiantono at his residence on Jl. Sikatan IV, Tandes, Surabaya. He is the younger brother of terror suspect Anton Ferdiantono whose wife and eldest son were killed after a bomb went off prematurely at his low-cost apartment in Wonocolo, Sidoarjo. Dedy, however, was shot dead after resisting arrest by attacking the officers with a knife.
"We have detained [Dedy's] wife and four children [for further investigation]," East Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Frans Barung Mangera said, referring to Dedy's wife Suyanti, 34, and their children, DNS, 14, AISP, 10, HA, 7, and NN, 5.
Later in the evening, Densus 88 also raided the house of terror suspect Ilham Fauzan on Jl. Abdul Waham in Pakis, Surabaya. Ilham had been arrested earlier in Sidoarjo. Police detained Fauzan's wife and two children.
Police discovered in their preliminary investigations that the suspects behind the string of bombings in Surabaya and Sidoarjo had involved family members in the suicide attacks.
Alleged suicide bomber Dita Oeprianto's family of six died in Sunday's church attacks. Of Anton's family of six, three died and three survived the explosion at the Wonocolo apartment. On Monday morning, a third family attacked the Surabaya Police headquarters in another suicide bombing. The family's 8-year-old daughter survived the attack and was taken to hospital. (dmr)
Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta The Communications and Information Ministry has intensified its effort to identify and block online content related to radicalism and terrorism in the wake of a series of terror attacks in Surabaya, East Java, and other regions.
"I have given the instruction to monitor the content of websites using a crawling method every two hours. Should we find suspicious content, we will block it right away," Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara said after a meeting with representatives of social media platforms on Tuesday.
He further said the crawling was expected to yield results, even if there were few websites with radical content. The government is searching for content that is deemed provocative, promotes terrorism or exacerbates the current state of terror.
The ministry said that, as of Tuesday, it had blocked social media accounts for spreading terror-related content most of which was posted on 450 Facebook and Instagram accounts.
"Some of them were previously identified but we had not yet blocked them because they were still subject to investigations conducted by the police or the BNPT [National Counterterrorism Agency]," Rudiantara said.
Rudiantara further said the ministry would ask social media platforms to deactivate the accounts after the investigations.
Such a commitment was echoed by representatives of Facebook Indonesia who stated that the platform would follow up on any complaints from users and the ministry regarding negative content.
"We have no room for violence," said Facebook Indonesia public policy head Ruben Hattari, who was present at the meeting. He, however, did not provide an exact time frame as to when the blocking would be conducted, saying the platform received many complaints every day.
The online measure will be supported by an artificial intelligence tool that will crawl websites based on keywords. Initially, the government used this tool to stop hoaxes and block pornographic content on the internet. (ebf)
M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin urged Ulemas to spread the words of peace during the Ramadan month. "Preachers should deliver their sermons by promoting Islamic teachings that is affectionate," said the Minister at his office on Tuesday, May 15.
According to Lukman, spreading the message of peace is essential especially following the series of terrorist suicide bombings during past several days. He maintains that such terror activities have nothing to do with any religion.
He further argued that acts of terror can be pinned down as a form of misinterpretation in practicing religion. He even said that it can be considered as a religious exploitation considering its nature in creating ruptures among society.
This is the reason why he said that terror acts such as the suicide bombings in three Surabaya Churches should be responded by messages of peace. He said that Ulemas must be able to elaborate Islam's essential teaching that teaches affection among humans.
However, Lukman did state that the recent terror acts has become a topic of evaluation for his ministry especially during the Ramadan month that will officially start on Thursday, May 17.
Panca Nugraha, Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara Twenty-three Ahmadiyah followers, mostly women and children, have continued to seek refuge at the East Lombok Police station, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), following their evacuation to the police office on the weekend.
The Ahmadiyah members had to leave after an angry mob destroyed their homes in Gereneng village, East Sakra district, East Lombok regency, on Saturday in an attempt to expel them from the area. Eight homes of the Ahmadiyah members were damaged in the attack.
"We will soon repair the damaged houses, and the mediation process has begun. The [legal] process against perpetrators of the destruction will be conducted by the police," said NTB police spokesperson I Komang Suartana on Monday.
The attack happened at noon on Saturday. The incident began from a small quarrel among elementary school children who were studying the Quran at the house of an Ahmadiyah member. The children mocked each other, prompting some of them to go home and report the incident to their parents.
In only a short period of time, around 30 people gathered in the area and started to pelt the houses of several Ahmadiyah members.
Komang said there had been clashes between Gereneng residents and Ahmadiyah followers since 1990. There was even a riot against the Ahmadiyah community in 2001.
East Lombok Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Eka Faturrahman said the attack was a culmination of the residents' anger toward the Ahmadiyah community, which had promised that they had repented but continued to return back to their Ahmadiyah belief.
He said the situation had stabilized, but the residents demanded that the Ahmadiyah community never return to their village.
"There is a demand from the residents that there must be no Ahmadiyah in their area. This is because the Ahmadiyah followers have repeatedly said they had repented. They have even signed a statement letter [to quit their belief], but they always return back to this belief again," Eka said.
Persecution of the Ahmadiyah community across Indonesia happens often, as they are labeled infidels by some Muslims. (hol/ebf)
Vela Andapita, Jakarta It was in the middle of the day on Saturday when an unidentified mob destroyed several houses and attempted to expel the Ahmadiyah community from Grepek Tanak Eat hamlet in Greneng village, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).
At least eight houses were severely damaged, forcing seven families comprising 24 people to seek shelter at the East Lombok Police headquarters.
"The police have yet to arrest the perpetrators. It's the Ahmadi community who was taken to the police station instead most of them are mothers and children," Ahmadi community spokesman Saleh told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
"Four motorcycles and a small shop had also been destroyed. People have left their farms. Some others [whose houses were not destroyed] fled and are staying with their relatives elsewhere," he added.
Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation (JAI) secretary Yendra Budiana said the incident followed a series of previous attacks on the Ahmadi community in another residential area that took place in March this year and on May 9.
"The attacks were based on similar reasons: hatred and intolerance. We have yet to count the estimated material losses [from the recent attack] because it's still too dangerous for us to visit the scene," he told the Post.
"The Ahmadi community had reported the threats and attacks to the police, to which the police responded by organizing talks [between Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis]," he added.
Yendra demanded that the police ensured the safety of the Ahmadi community and that they took significant measures to punish the attackers.
He also called on the government and the provincial administration to give the Ahmadi community the freedom to observe their religion based on their beliefs.
"It's not the first and definitely won't be the last attack. It's been years and the Ahmadi community continues to live under threats from their surroundings," he said. (evi)
Jakarta Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin has called on the public to respect Muslims who choose to wear niqab amid rising security concerns over the use of the face veil on the heels of a series of deadly bombings in East Java.
"We have to respect those who wear niqab, just as we respect those who wear other religious attributes," the minister said as quoted by Antara on Friday.
Lukman acknowledged that the bombings in Surabaya had triggered suspicions against women in niqab. It was reported that the female members of the family responsible for the bombings at three churches in Surabaya last Sunday wore face veils when they carried out the attack.
The female suicide bombers have been identified as Puji Kuswati and her two daughters. Puji did not usually wear niqab, her neighbors said.
The minister said it was unfair to generalize all niqab-wearing Muslims as terrorists, as those who wore them believed it was a religious obligation.
Most Indonesian Muslims practice a moderate form of Islam and believe that wearing niqab is not compulsory or even excessive. However the Muslim garment has become more popular in recent years, with women wearing the veil now more visible in public spaces, particularly universities.
Lukman encouraged niqab-wearing women to mingle with their community to avoid suspicion, saying that mutual respect was what was needed now. "Both sides have the obligation to create a sense of security." (ahw)
One of the details noted by witnesses of the suicide bombing on Sunday at the Gereja Kristian Indonesia (GKI) Church in Surabaya, committed by a woman named Puji Astuti who killed herself as well as her daughters (aged 9 and 12) during the attack, is that the perpetrator and the children were wearing cadar (face veils) that concealed their identities before the attack.
Given that, and the current climate of fear in Indonesia following the horrific bombing of GKI and three other targets in Surabaya, the country's minister of religious affairs, Lukman Hakim Saifudi, said that women wearing the cadar or niqab (another term for the face veil used in conjunction with head covering) must understand that there will be some people who are anxious or suspicious towards them. He urged them to act in a way that made people feel safe around them or at least not attracted attention.
But he also urged the rest of the general public to not feel worried or suspicious towards those who wear the face veil for religious reasons.
"Therefore, we should respect our sisters who use the veil, for it is their right to exercise the understanding of religion that they believe in," Lukman said yesterday as quoted by Detik.
It should be noted that the neighbors of the family behind the church bombings said that Puji Astuti did not actually wear a cadar in daily life, just a hijab (headscarf).
Although use of the hijab in Indonesia is widespread, the number of women using the cadar or niqab is relatively tiny, though there is evidence it is becoming more mainstream. A group calling themselves the "Niqab Squad" has formed chapters in cities across Indonesia to help support women who wear the veil and fight public perceptions that they "dress like terrorists".
In March, two Islamic universities in Indonesia banned the use of niqab among students and faculty due to fears of growing fundamentalism on campus, but both ended up reversing their stances after being widely criticized for impinging on religious freedoms.
In this tweet from the Twitter account of former Presidium Alumni 212 leader Faizal Assegaf, he is responding to Deputy House Speaker Fahri Hamzah by writing, "... if I say that PKS defends the evils of terrorism, that's fact!" Let us talk honestly to all the people of Indonesia. It's true I was active for three years in criticizing (President Joko WIdodo) so why did I turn around? Because I found out that behind the anti-Jokowi movement there is the vile mission of PKS supporting terrorism!"
The tweet also includes screenshots of articles in which PKS officials question Osama Bin Laden's death and praise the Al Qaeda leader through poetry.
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), like every other political party in Indonesia, officially condemned last week's horrific terrorist attacks in Indonesia.
But the Islam-based opposition party (which holds enough seats in the Parliament that one of its senior officials might well end up being Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subinato's running mate in the 2019 presidential election) has come under fire from some parties for their alleged support of terrorism and radicalism, the latest accusation coming from a former leader of one of Indonesia's most prominent Islamist political organizations.
Faizal Assegaf, who was one of the founders of the political action group Presidium Alumni 212 (so named for having attended the massive 2/12 2016 protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama), was kicked out of his own organization earlier this year, and has since been speaking out against some of his former group's political allies, most especially PKS.
Yesterday, Faizal reported three senior PKS officials to the police for defaming him through social media: PKS President Sohibul Iman, former PKS President Anis Matta, PKS executive board chairman Mardani Ali Sera, as well as Deputy House Speaker Fahri Hamzah (who is officially an independent).
Faizal's report was actually in response to a defamation report filed by the PKS board of East Java, which was done in response to social media comments Faizal had made about PKS officials in the wake of last week's suicide bombings in Surabaya, accusing them of having terrorist sympathies and telling the police they should monitor them.
"Initially I wrote a post asking that government and the police to do strict supervision on the PKS offices in East Java, because allegedly cadres and loyalists are exploiting the issue of terrorism, which created fertile grounds for radicalism," Faizal said yesterday as quoted by Kompas.
That tweet, and many others that followed alleging PKS' ties to terrorism, led to counter-allegations from PKS officials that Faizal was a liar and eventually an official defamation report against him.
Faizal's counter-report against the PKS officials says that their accusations that he was a slanderous liar were slanderous lies themselves (yes, the way the Indonesian legal system handles defamation charges is ridiculous) as he had proof of their terrorist sympathies
You can go to Faizal's Twitter for much more, but one piece of evidence he keeps bringing up is a poem, entitled "Letter For Osama", that was written by the party's former president Anis Matta. The poem, which Anis was widely reported to have read in public in November 2001 (i.e. shortly after 9/11) during a fundraiser for the "struggle" in Afghanistan, effusively praises the now-deceased Al Qaeda leader. Here's a rough translation of the opening stanza:
You never told me
That you wanted to blow up the WTC and Pentagon
Bush also has no proof until now
So I choose to believe
In the love that radiates
Behind the shade of your eyes
In the spirit of protection that is stored
Behind your beard.
And it keeps going from there....
In response to Faizal's report, PKS chairman Mardani Ali Sera denied any charges that his party supported terrorism or radicalism. When asked about Anis Matta's poem praising Osama Bin Laden, he said he didn't know about it but was sure there was nothing wrong with it.
"But I am sure that if we see the context, we would understand the meaning of Pak Anis Matta, Islam rahmatan lil alamin (Islam is a religion that brings blessings and welfare to the whole world)," he said today as quoted by Detik.
Faizal is far from the only person who has accused PKS of supporting and harboring radical groups in the wake of last week's terror attacks. Just a day after the church bombings in Surabaya, hundreds of activists marched to the party's headquarters in South Jakarta to protest its leaders for using religion and radicalism for political purposes and demand that police closely monitor PKS officials and supporters.
Jakarta The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has questioned the Jakarta administration's plan to hold a mass tarawih (evening Ramadan prayers) at the National Monument (Monas) compound and has suggested relocating it to mosques instead.
The administration has announced its intention to hold the mass prayer at Monas on May 26. Governor Anies Baswedan previously revised a law that prohibited religious activities from being held at the iconic location.
According to Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno, the reason behind the decision to hold the mass night prayer at Monas was because "Monas is a symbol of Jakarta and a symbol of unity". This reasoning was questioned by one of MUI's leaders Cholil Nafis.
"I doubt that the reason for holding the tarawih at Monas is for unity. Where's the logic in that?, which community needs to be united when only Muslims will attend the event?" he said Saturday, as quoted by kompas.com.
He added that it would be better to observe the prayer at the right place, in mosques. "Don't use religious services as a tool to show off," Cholil said.
MUI's deputy secretary general Amirsyah Tambunan agreed with Cholil, saying it would be more solemn to perform the prayer in mosques.
"There is nothing wrong [with holding the mass prayer at Monas] of course, but it's better [to perform prayers] at mosques," he said, adding that prayers were supposed to be performed at mosques, which were specifically designed for prayers.
Besides, according to Amirsyah, conducting the prayer at mosques would provide an opportunity for Jakarta's officials to extend silaturahmi (islamic brotherhood) to members of the mosques as well as better understand the condition of mosques in the city. (Fac)
Jon Afrizal, Jambi Jambi Police chief Brig. Gen. Muchlis AS has called on civil society groups to avoid initiating raids on nightclubs during Ramadhan, a practice commonly carried out by hard-line groups in the past.
Local authorities banned nightclubs and entertainment centers from operating during Ramadhan. Similar policies have been adopted by local administrations across the archipelago.
"Please don't act on your own if you find a nightclub operating during Ramadhan," he said on Friday.
Muchlis further encouraged residents to report to authorities should they find any violations of bylaws. "We have to abide by prevailing regulations," he said, adding that the police would follow up on all reports.
The fasting month began on Thursday. (swd)
Jakarta The Jakarta administration has ordered 251 nightclubs, bars and other venues in West Jakarta to stop operating during Ramadhan.
West Jakarta Culture and Tourism Agency head Linda Enriany said those venues should stop operating to honor Muslims who were fasting.
"They should have been closed a day before Ramadhan. We will monitor them," Linda said on Thursday, as quoted by kompas.com.
She added that the Jakarta administration had explained Gubernatorial Regulation No. 18/2018 on tourism business to the business owners.
However, karaoke and poolrooms are excluded from the regulation. Executive karaoke pubs can operate from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., while family karaokes, which are prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages, can operate from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Poolrooms can operate from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m., while poolrooms inside a karaoke lounge or pub can operate from 8:30 p.m. to 1.30 a.m.
Nightclubs which are located in a commercial area or minimum four-star hotel and far from residential areas, schools, hospitals and houses of worship will operate normally.
Linda said the agency would issue warning letters to entertainment establishments that violated the regulation. Should those places repeat the violations three times, the city administration would shut them down, she added. (cal)
During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to perform the taraweh prayer an optional yet highly virtuous prayer every evening, ideally at mosques.
But the Jakarta Provincial Government recently had another idea: holding a one-off mass taraweh prayer on the grounds of Monas (National Monument), just like the mass Friday prayers that have been done during numerous Islamic protests and rallies in the past, such as the 212 anti-Ahok protest and the more recent pro-Palestine rally.
On Friday, Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno said city hall was finalizing the details for a taraweh prayer at Monas on May 26, which would have been attended by himself and Governor Anies Baswedan.
"Because [Monas] is a symbol of Jakarta and it's a place that has unified the congregation," Sandiaga said, as quoted by Detik on Friday.
If the Jakarta Provincial Government was hoping for a big turnout for the prayer, those hopes were dashed after the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the highest clerical body in the country, criticized the plan.
"I hope the Jakarta Provincial Government reconsiders their wish to hold the taraweh prayer in Monas... Praying outdoors is inappropriate when there's a mosque next door that can hold the congregation. The Jakarta Provincial Government would be wise to concentrate on central issues of its governance such as preventing floods and traffic jams that clearly affect the people," wrote MUI leader Cholil Nafis in a statement, as picked up by Detik on Saturday.
Indonesia's largest Islamic organizations, including Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, also criticized the plan, with a representative of the former going as far as implying that it was politically motivated.
"The timing is not appropriate, especially as the country is in the midst of huge democratic events: the regional elections next month and the presidential election next year," said Heri Sucipto of Muhammadiyah's International Relations and Cooperation Department, as quoted by Detik today.
Amid all the criticism, Sandiaga said today that the Jakarta Provincial Government has cancelled the plan to hold the taraweh prayer in Monas. Upon Anies' return from his trip to India today, Sandiaga said they will discuss an alternative location for the prayer.
"So we will take people's input into account, because before [when we originally made the plan] many ulemas asked for a taraweh prayer at Monas," Sandiaga said, as quoted by Detik.
A likely alternative for Jakarta Provincial Government's taraweh prayer event is the Istiqlal Grand Mosque, which is located not far from Monas and is the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia with the capacity to hold over 120,000 people.
Religious activities (as well as commercial and political activities) were banned in Monas since 1994. However, soon after his inauguration last year, Anies overturned the policy, which many observers saw as his way to show gratitude to the 200,000 or so Muslims who showed up at the symbolic site for a massive protest against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who Anies defeated in the 2017 gubernatorial election.
The move prompted Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman Said Aqil Siradj to warn Anies not to use religion as a political tool, and remind the provincial government that they must give all faiths equal treatment.
Caesar Akbar, Jakarta The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) will monitor all media broadcasts, especially on television during Ramadan this year.
MUI's Information and Communication Division Head Masduki Baidlowi said the monitoring will be conducted during prime time schedule. "At before and after suhoor and fast-breaking," he said in MUI building, Jakarta, Tuesday, May 15.
Masduki stated MUI teams along with the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) will record the television programs and assess the contents. "KPI has the more developed equipment and human resources to monitor the broadcasting content," said Masduki.
MUI will release the monitoring result during the first ten days of Ramadan at a press conference, while the rest 20 days will be publicized after Eid al-Fitr.
Masduki further said that the public can join the monitoring by sending their opinion and comments related to the broadcasting contents via e-mail email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The monitoring towards media broadcasts is a part of ulema's duty in protecting the public's moral," he added.
Furthermore, MUI appealed the mass media not to presenting publications containing pornography, prophecy, physical or psychological violence, and excessive jokes as well as the way of dressing which do not comply with akhlakul karimah or good characters.
Aside from the monitoring, Masduki stated, MUI will appreciate television and radio stations that have prepared various Ramadan shows which in line with positive values thus creating a solemn Ramadan.
Diella Yasmine, Jakarta For a long time, before the mini-boom in Indonesian literature in translation started by the buzz over Eka Kurniawan's "Beauty Is a Wound," the only Indonesian novels in English translation you would see on the shelf when you go into a bookstore overseas were more than likely to be Pramoedya Ananta Toer's "Buru Quartet" novels "This Earth of Mankind," "Child of All Nations," "Footsteps" and "House of Glass."
All four books were translated by one man, Indonesianist, political activist and former renegade Australian diplomat Max Lane.
Lane is not the only man to have translated Pram's the Indonesian nickname for the Nobel Prize in Literature-nominated author books, there was also the Australian academic translator Harry Aveling ("The Fugitive," "The Girl From the Coast") and the American reportedly a pseudonym Willem Samuels ("All That Is Gone," "The Mute's Soliloquy"), but Lane's translations, first published by Penguin Australia and then picked up by Penguin Books worldwide, are the most well-known and have never been out of print since it was first released in 1983.
Before translating Pramoedya, Lane had been a frequent visitor to Indonesia since the late 1960s, when he traveled through the country and on to Singapore on the original "Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" trail. Some of the stories from his early journey in Indonesia are collected in a book of short stories, essays and poems that Lane released in 2016, titled, "Indonesia and Not: Poems and Otherwise."
In 1974, Lane based himself in Yogyakarta, where he spent a year studying the Javanese language and tutoring politics and sociology at Bengkel Teater, the famous theater company founded by Indonesian beat poet and playwright W.S. Rendra.
Lane's first translation of a serious work by an Indonesian author was his version of Rendra's play, "The Struggle of the Naga Tribe," a sharp satire of Suharto's New Order regime.
Lane then worked for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was posted at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 1980 as a second secretary. It was then that he was introduced to Pram, who had just returned from 12 years of political exile on Buru Island.
He was given an early manuscript of This Earth of Mankind ("Bumi Manusia" in Indonesian) and the rest is history. As Lane recalled, "Pram had just been released from Buru then. Given my interests, I was of course very interested to translate his work."
This Earth of Mankind is the first novel in what would eventually be known as Pram's "Buru Quartet." The book disguises its ambitious project to trace the birth of nationalism in Indonesia in a page-turner featuring a tragic love story between the protagonist Minke a fictionalized version of Tirto Adhi Soerjo, the "father of Indonesian journalism" and his half-Dutch, half-Javanese wife Annelies.
Although the book did not directly criticize Suharto's New Order, it was banned by the regime's censors less than a year after its publication in 1980, on the vague grounds that it promoted "Marxist and Leninist thinking." Lane also got into trouble for translating the book and was recalled home.
"I was a mid-level staffer at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta when I started translating This Earth of Mankind. Once I finished, the original book had already been banned by the Suharto regime. So I was in effect publishing a banned book," Lane said.
Despite the snag to his diplomatic career, Lane persisted to finish the translations for the rest of the Buru Quarter novels. The last installment, House of Glass, was published in 1988.
During a talk show on Pram at the Jakarta Globe Reading Club's inaugural event in South Jakarta last Saturday (12/05), Lane said one thing that enthralled him most about the Buru Quartet was Pram's ability to tell the story of how Indonesia as a nation was formed down to its minutest details, despite the author's lack of access to the outside world when he wrote the books on Buru Island.
Lane said that in his first few years on the island Pram was not allowed any pens or paper, so he used to recite the story to his fellow prisoners every night.
"These are great works of historical fiction, great epics that tell the origin story of Indonesia, set during the time before the word Indonesia was even in use," Lane said.
Lane said one of the biggest challenges in literary translation is maintaining a balance between staying true to the original work and trying to create a "new" work in the target language that will evoke the same emotional responses as the original piece.
In translating Rendra's and Pram's works, Lane said the key thing for him was to understand their thinking, learn from their texts and witness first hand how these authors engage with society.
Lane said his experience with Bengkel Teater also gave him the confidence to translate Indonesian literature.
"I led discussions on politics for almost a year [at Bengkel Teater], and Rendra would always be there. I talked to him a lot, especially between 1974 and 1981," Lane said.
His friendship with Pramoedya also helped him to understand his works beyond the text.
"I had many discussions with Pramoedya and his friends, his publishers Joesoef Isak and Hasjim Rahman, who were all trying to achieve similar social goals," Lane said.
"In this sense, I see myself as translating their [Pram's and Rendra's] ideologies and perspectives, not just the text in their books," he said.
Though Pram's books have now been translated into 42 languages, they still remain largely unread at home. According to Lane, this is because Indonesia is the only country in the world that does not teach its own literature in the classrooms.
"The government removed the study of literature from elementary and high school curriculums back in the 1970s. Since then students have been learning basically language lessons," Lane said.
"This is such a shame, since Pram is a hero to everyone I've seen who has had the chance to read his novels. Pram's books help them to become more sensitive to deep social injustices in Indonesia," Lane, who now runs Open Page, a library and writers' residency center in Yogyakarta, said.
Fadli, Batam, Riau Islands Presidential Chief of Staff Gen. (ret.) Moeldoko has said the government is pushing forward its plan to set up the Indonesian Military's Joint Special Operations Command (Koopssusgab) to tackle terrorism despite criticism from several parties, including the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).
"There is no time [for debate] anymore. It has been carried out. The problem is no longer about whether we 'agree or disagree' with the plan," the former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander told journalists on Monday in Batam, Riau Islands.
Moeldoko declined to comment on Komnas HAM's objections to the plan to form the Koopssusgab. "Let Komnas HAM bear the burden. Other parties have found that everything is fine [...]. The point is how to respect human rights. We are not afraid of human rights because we want to protect the people. Human rights is not something we should be afraid of, but something we should respect," said Moeldoko.
He said Koopssusgab personnel were taught to always respect and uphold human rights so they could work optimally in the field. "If the soldiers were afraid of human rights, they would not be able to [do their jobs]," he added.
Moeldoko initiated the Koopssusgab in 2015, when he was the TNI commander, but the unit was suspended by his successor, Gatot Nurmantyo.
Involving the military in counterterrorism operations has raised concerns among human right activists, particularly regarding the possibility of human rights abuses committed in counterterrorism measures.
Moeldoko said the Koopssusgab was the government's response to terrorism issues that were becoming more complex. "We are preparing the Koopssusgab in anticipation of the state challenges we may face in the future."
On Friday, President Joko Widodo agreed to reinstate the Koopsusgab to assist the National Police in antiterrorism operations under certain conditions.
The joint command is composed of special forces from the TNI's three branches: the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus), the Navy's Denjaka special squad and the Air Force's Bravo 90 unit. (hol/ebf)
Marguerite Afra Sapiie and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta Indonesia's Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko has claimed that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had expressed his consent to bringing back to life the suspended military Joint Special Operations Command (Koopsusgab) tasked with countering terrorism.
The team, which included and will again include personnel of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus), the Navy's Denjaka squad and the Air Force's Bravo 90 special force, would be put on standby and be ready to be mobilised at any time when terror threats emerged, Moeldoko said.
"This joint force was well trained and prepared in terms of its capacity, and it could be deployed anywhere on the country's soil as fast as possible [...]. Its role would be to assist the National Police," Moeldoko said.
His statement has followed a recent string of terrorist attacks that has thrust Indonesia into a state of paranoia.
The joint force was first established under Moeldoko when he served as the Indonesian Military (TNI) commander in 2015. The special command's operations, however, were suspended under the leadership of Moeldoko's successor, retired General Gatot Nurmantyo.
Further tasks of the special command would be discussed between TNI commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto and National Police chief General Tito Karnavian, with the latter to have the final say on whether it needed the assistance of the TNI's special team or not, Moeldoko said.
"This operation must be carried out for preventive purposes, so that the public can feel safe [...]. We [the security apparatus] are ready to face any kind of situation, so people should put their trust in us and not worry," he said.
The revitalisation of the joint force did not require any new regulations, Moeldoko said, adding that the details about the command's tasks would be adjusted with the planned amendment to the 2003 Terrorism Law.
The announcement came as the House of Representatives and the government began to clear up contentious articles that had caused deadlock in the deliberation of the Terrorism Law revision, including the legal definition of terrorism and the military's level of involvement in counterterrorism operations.
A greater level of involvement has stirred debate among experts and human rights activists.
Seven ruling parties and the government had agreed on a definition of terrorism that included acts that had "political and ideological motives and threaten national security", United Development Party (PPP) lawmaker Arsul Sani said.
It is widely believed that such a definition would provide leeway for greater involvement of the TNI in counterterrorism efforts. As the government and the lawmakers appear to be on the same page now, observers expect the bill to be passed into law in the near future.
Jokowi has recently said he would issue a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on the Terrorism Law if the House failed to conclude deliberations on the bill by June.
Members of a committee tasked with deliberating the bill said it was the leading opposition Gerindra Party and the Democratic Party, both political parties with strong military influence, that had demanded the inclusion of the contentious provisions.
"We support [the terrorism bill]," Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto said during his visit to the House.
Deliberation of the bill is believed to have been stalled mainly because of a tug-of-war between the TNI and the police, which led to division among political parties factions into pro-TNI and pro-police camps.
Suherdjoko, Semarang The Army received on Wednesday eight new AH-64E Apache attack helicopters purchased from the United States.
Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu symbolically handed over the eight helicopters to Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, represented by his logistics assistant Rear Admiral Bambang Nariyono.
Army chief of staff Gen. Mulyono, US Deputy Ambassador Erin McKee and several TNI and National Police officials attended the event.
The purchase of the eight Apache helicopters was announced by then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in 2012, at a meeting with then foreign minister Marty Natalegawa in Washington DC. The helicopter-purchase contract was signed following the announcement.
"Each helicopter is worth US$41 million. This helicopter is a technologically advanced primary defense weapon system. We hope these helicopters can strengthen the work of the Indonesian Army, which has a huge responsibility in safeguarding the sovereignty of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, especially on land," said Ryamizard.
The minister said the eight helicopters were procured through the government's partnership with the US government under the office management program to ensure the delivery of the helicopters ran smoothly.
"In principle, it was conducted under a government-to-government partnership. There was no broker, no mark up. The price of the helicopters was clearly stated," said Ryamizard, adding that the helicopters could be used for all purposes and under all conditions. (ebf)
Jakarta The Indonesian government will protect the public from any "big shock" from soaring global oil prices by raising subsidies, its finance minister said on Tuesday.
Net oil importer Indonesia has allotted 94.5 trillion rupiah ($6.7 billion) for energy subsidies this year, based on an average Indonesia crude price of $48 a barrel and an exchange rate of 13,400 rupiah to the dollar.
But that doesn't take into account Brent crude futures gaining nearly 20 percent this year to around $80 a barrel and the rupiah weakening to more than 14,000 to the dollar.
The rising crude prices mean Jakarta will get extra oil and gas revenues this year and some of that additional income will be allocated to energy subsidies, Sri Mulyani Indrawati told a news conference.
"We will try to maintain people's purchasing power so that they are protected from a big shock," Indrawati said. The government is still calculating how much it needs to set aside to keep energy prices unchanged for consumers, she said.
The government said in March it would keep power tariffs for poor households and some fuel prices flat until 2019, a move critics said was aimed at increasing the popularity of President Joko Widodo ahead of an election next year.
The finance ministry estimated such measures would cost Jakarta 8.1 trillion rupiah in additional subsidies in 2018, but it was then assuming average crude prices at $50-$60 a barrel.
Indrawati said she is also monitoring the impact of rising oil prices on the finances of state oil and gas company Pertamina and state electricity company Perusahaan Listrik Negara, to make sure both are able to maintain healthy balance sheets.
Indrawati said earlier this month the 2018 fiscal deficit may end the year at 2.14 percent of gross domestic product, below an initial forecast of 2.19 percent, in part due to rising oil and gas revenues.
For next year, the government expects Indonesian crude prices to average $60-$70 a barrel, with the rupiah exchange rate at 13,700-14,000 a dollar, according to a preliminary budget document submitted to parliament last week.
Jakarta With only a year left to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's term in office, the government has only completed building 870 kilometers of 1,852 kilometers of toll roads that aimed to improve transportation access across the country.
Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said on Sunday in Cirebon, West Java, that the government would continue with the infrastructure development projects in its effort to improve the country's competitiveness.
The new, smoother roads would significantly cut export logistics costs, Basuki said, which were higher than those in neighboring countries like Malaysia and Thailand, thus making Indonesian exports less competitive than the exports of these two countries.
"So infrastructure development is to improve competitiveness. [...] Infrastructure will cut logistics costs," said Basuki as quoted by tempo.co.
Apart from developing toll roads, the government was also building 2,650 kilometers of non-toll roads and 30 kilometers of bridges, he said, adding that exports and investment were expected to contribute significantly to economic growth.
Therefore, he added, exports and import activities needed to be supported by smoother roads to reduce logistics costs.
Basuki also said the infrastructure development project, particularly in eastern Indonesia, would reduce interregional economic disparities, as the majority of current economic activities were focused on western Indonesia and those in the eastern part of the country had been long ignored. (bbn)
Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) In an apparent gesture to ensure business confidence, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has reiterated his commitment to fight terrorism as he voiced support for reviving a special military unit.
Speaking alongside his Cabinet ministers during a breaking-the-fast event with businessmen on Friday (May 18) evening, Mr Joko expressed resentment towards a "vile terrorist ideology" that had forced families and children to become perpetrators, referring to recent terror attacks in Surabaya and Sidoarjo, East Java.
"The government and the House of Representatives are bending over backwards to ensure that the terrorism bill is completed," he said in his speech.
"And the government is also in the process of establishing a Koopsusgab (Joint Special Operations Command) to provide security."
His remarks seemed to confirm Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko's claim that Mr Joko had expressed his consent to bringing back to life the joint command tasked with countering terrorism.
The team, which included and will again include personnel of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus), the Navy's Denjaka specialised squad and the Air Force's Bravo 90 special force, would be on standby and ready to be mobilised whenever terror threats emerged, Mr Moeldoko said.
The joint force was first established under Mr Moeldoko when he served as the Indonesian Military (TNI) commander in 2015. The special command's operations, however, were suspended under the leadership of Mr Moeldoko's successor, Gen (ret.) Gatot Nurmantyo.
On Friday, President Joko stressed that special military operations would only be conducted in situations exceeding the capacity of the National Police as a "preventive measure", which he claimed was "more important than repressive action".
"The best preventive (measure) is to clean up education institutions from kindergarten level to college and public spaces and forums from misguided ideology, which terrorism is," he said.
Terror attacks on Sunday and Monday in Surabaya and Sidoarjo have claimed the lives of 25 people, including the suicide bombers and some of their children, and injured at least 41.
Attempted bombings were also reported at two other churches on Sunday morning, where bombs failed to detonate.
Hours after the church attacks, a bomb went off prematurely at a low-cost apartment building in Wonocolo, Sidoarjo, killing three members of a suspected terrorist's family: the father, the mother and their eldest son.
At a seemingly coincidental moment, Indonesia is facing a lot of external pressure as the rupiah continues to weaken amid a stronger US dollar, forcing Bank Indonesia (BI) to increase its policy rate the seven-day reverse repo rate by 25 basis points to 4.5 per cent on Thursday evening.
Foreign funds are pulling out from the emerging market as United States' Treasury bill yields continue to increase amid investors' bullish sentiment over the prospects of the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates more than expected this year.
At least Rp 37.18 trillion (US$2.64 billion) in portfolio investment has been withdrawn from the domestic financial market from Jan. 2 to May 11, according to data from Bloomberg.
As BI had ended its easing stance, there may be no other way to push Indonesia's economy, which grew by 5.06 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, other than boosting fiscal stimulus to help drive consumption, said Rosan P. Roeslani, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), after attending Friday's event with President Joko.
"We heard that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad seeks to scrap the 6 per cent goods and services tax (GST). We don't ask for that (from Jokowi's administration), but we hope for a temporary (tax) incentive to lift purchasing power," he said.
Bhima Yudhistira Adhinegara, an economist at the Institute for the Development of Economics and Finance (Indef), said the government should use fiscal incentives to boost industrialisation, which would help reduce Indonesia's high reliance on exports of natural resource commodities.
Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta Indonesia booked double-digit tax revenue growth in April boosted by growth in import taxes as well as corporation tax.
Tax revenue, which includes income tax from oil and gas, value added tax (PPn), property tax (PBB) and luxury goods tax (PPnBM), was Rp 383.3 trillion (US$27.23 billion) from January to April.
The tax revenue grew by 14.08 percent year-on-year (yoy) compared to the same period last year if the revenue from the tax amnesty is excluded. The government collected Rp 12 trillion in penalties as part of the tax amnesty, which ended in March 2017.
"We monitor the tax revenue on a monthly basis and this still shows robust growth," said Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati in Jakarta on Thursday.
Double-digit growth was recorded in almost all tax types, with the income tax from imports (pph 22 impor) recording 28.98 percent yoy growth during the first four months of this year to Rp 18.06 trillion. PPn on imports brought in Rp 56.14 trillion over the same period, up by 25.07 percent yoy.
The high growth in import taxes was in line with the surging imports recorded in the recent trade balance statistics released by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Sri Mulyani Indrawati said.
Imports grew by 34.68 percent yoy on April to $16.09 billion, above $14.47 billion exports that was recorded over the same period, according to BPS data. Corporation tax, meanwhile, grew by 23.55 percent yoy to Rp 90.47 trillion. (bbn)
Sidney Jones, Jakarta, Indonesia A sudden spate of terrorist attacks in Indonesia during the past few weeks offers insights into how supporters of the Islamic State around the world are reacting to the group's defeats in the Middle East.
The damage caused by ISIS was expected to last longer than its caliphate proper, and in Indonesia the group's impact already seems to have been to expand and transform local extremist movements. Local Islamist extremists still go after the same targets: religious minorities and law enforcement. But their tactics have shifted: Now women and children are participating in suicide attacks.
Since the beginning of May, at least 49 Indonesians 12 civilians, seven police officers and 30 terrorists have died in back-to-back attacks by ISIS supporters or government antiterrorism operations.
The series began on May 8 when pro-ISIS inmates staged a riot at a detention facility at the paramilitary police's headquarters south of Jakarta. By the time the uprising ended, five police officers (and one detainee) had been killed.
More shocking still are three instances last week of suicide bombings carried out by families, including children.
On May 13, six members of the same family attacked three churches in Surabaya, East Java. The father went after one; his teenage sons went after another; and his wife and two daughters, age 12 and 9, blew themselves up at the third. Twelve congregants died.
That evening, a mother and her 17-year-old son were killed in Sidoarjo, East Java, apparently when a bomb the father was making prematurely exploded. (The father was injured in the blast and killed by police officers when they arrived at the scene.)
On May 14, a couple, two teenage sons and a daughter tried to bomb police headquarters in Surabaya. Only the daughter, 8, survived.
These three families knew one another and regularly attended lectures given by an Indonesian Muslim preacher who was arrested in Turkey in 2017 and deported back home after trying, along with more than a dozen relatives and friends, to join ISIS in Syria for almost a year.
Nearly every day this month there has been a new attack, an attempted attack or an operation to prevent an attack. On May 15, a counterterrorism squad in Medan, in the northern part of Sumatra, shot two suspected terrorists, killing one. The next day, four men rammed a car into the gate of the police's headquarters in Pekanbaru, also on Sumatra, and then assaulted officers with long swords. One officer died, and the four attackers were shot and killed.
Why this surge of activity now? It's Ramadan, typically a time of renewed militancy among extremists. (Local pro-ISIS groups took over the city of Marawi in the Philippines last year two days before the month of fasting began.)
Other attacks may have been responses to exhortations sent via the app Telegram after the prison attack. One message in an aggressively pro-ISIS chat group read: "Support in your own cities the mujahedeen who caused the riot! Burn the assets of nonbelievers, idolaters, apostates and hypocrites! Burn their malls! Destroy the economy of the nonbelievers by withdrawing your money from their banks! The momentum only comes once; don't fail to use it." Rivalry between different groups and one-upmanship may also have encouraged the violence; they have in the past.
The recent attacks confirm the fact, already well established, that ISIS followers in Indonesia are hardly united. Many different local groups swore allegiance to the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after June 2014, when he declared the caliphate in Mosul, Iraq. And although the largest of these groups is a loose network known as Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, not all of the violence this month was committed by J.A.D. members and not all the J.A.D. action was coordinated. This lack of an overarching organizational structure makes ISIS ideology harder to eradicate, because some groups may cling to it even after others move on.
One precedent is Jemaah Islamiyah, the regional terrorist organization responsible for the 2002 bombings in a tourist district of Bali. It was once partly funded by Al Qaeda, but after the Bali bombings some of its leaders decided that Qaeda-style attacks against Western tourists or iconic Western landmarks were counterproductive, because they had little public support and led to mass arrests. Still, a splinter group led by Noordin Mohammad Top continued to plan and carry out major bombings until he was killed in 2009.
Even more important about the recent eruption of violence, however, is the fact that it confounds many assumptions experts held about what would happen to Islamist terrorism in Indonesia after the Islamic State was routed in the Middle East.
One major concern had been over what ISIS fighters would do when they came home. Yet none of the terrorists involved in the past weeks' attacks appears to have ever set foot in Syria or Iraq. The greater danger may come instead from the ISIS faithful whose illusions about the promise of the caliphate haven't been dashed by the direct experience of hardship, discrimination, hypocrisy and corruption that fighters who went to the Middle East described when they returned. That includes deportees like the Surabaya preacher and the families who followed his teachings.
A second assumption was that as the caliphate lost territory in the Middle East, the ISIS brand would gradually lose credibility. But the recent violence in Indonesia suggests that what happened there may be largely irrelevant here.
This month's attacks have not been directed at foreigners representing the countries that fought ISIS in the Middle East; Indonesian extremists are targeting the same local enemies Christians and the police they were targeting before ISIS even existed. In 2000, for example, two years before it bombed Bali, Jemaah Islamiyah mounted coordinated attacks on churches in 11 cities in retaliation for Christian attacks on Muslims in local communal conflicts. The police have been a target of Islamist extremists since they broke up a terrorist training camp in Aceh Province in 2010.
Between 2013 and 2016, when the Islamic State was at its strongest, the appeal of the caliphate dramatically increased the recruitment of extremists throughout the world. But after its global aspirations were translated back into local contexts, what happened in Mosul or Raqqa no longer much mattered to supporters back home.
Finally, this month's attacks in Indonesia underscore the fact that Islamist terrorism is not just about men. Women were among the bombers in Surabaya. And two women were arrested on May 12 as they were setting out to (belatedly) answer a call for reinforcement from the rioters at the detention center outside Jakarta.
ISIS encouraged women to join the caliphate with their families, as mothers, teachers and propagandists, rather than as combatants. It forbade them to fight except in self-defense. But in reaching out to the "lionesses of Allah" and their "cubs" in a way that Al Qaeda never did the Islamic State opened the door for women to go beyond what it approved.
Indonesian law enforcement officials are only just beginning to recognize the importance of understanding women's networks in extremist movements and the ideological fervor women pass on to their extended families, in the businesses they run or via the communications and courier roles they play. Deradicalization programs targeted only at men are bound to fail; their female relatives must also be included.
For all the horror of these recent family bombings, however, they may not indicate that extremism is growing in Indonesia: Violence can be as much a sign of weakness as of strength, an effort to keep motivation high precisely because recruitment is declining. Now that their energies are no longer focused on getting to Syria, ISIS's supporters in Indonesia may be turning their attention back to waging war at home. But now they are having to operate in an environment that is more hostile to their views than it was when the caliphate was proclaimed.
The recent bombings have sparked a torrent of outrage from other Indonesian Muslims, especially over the use of children as bombers. Although the rise in religious intolerance is often associated with terrorism in Indonesia, by and large the two phenomena are separate. Supporters of Saudi-style Salafism may have played a major role in, for example, bringing down the Christian governor of Jakarta on blasphemy charges, but they are quick to criticize terrorism, and terrorists rarely recruit from their ranks.
Yet they may have an indirect influence: The more that conservative hard-liners reject Christians as equal citizens under the law, the more, perhaps, terrorists will see churches as appropriate targets. Terrorism cannot be disassociated from its political environment.
The attacks this month are the work of a tiny fringe desperate for attention, but they undermine Indonesia's self-image as a nation of largely tolerant, moderate Muslims. It is now up to the government to translate citizen outrage over the bombings into programs to monitor jihadist returnees, curb extremist teachings and protect religious minorities.
Rizky Alif Alvian Moving away from their past ambiguous stance on violent Islamic extremism, Indonesian conservative Muslim organisations are taking a more assertive position against terrorism under the current government.
For many years, organisations such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), National Movement to Safeguard Indonesian Ulema Council's Edicts (GNPF-MUI) and Muslim Peoples Forum (FUI) have been associated with religious intolerance and violence. Now they are openly rejecting terrorism.
I argue that the change is part of conservative groups' strategy to ensure their survival amid increasing pressure against extremist discourse and activities. The history
FPI, founded a couple of months after the fall of the Soeharto regime in 1998, is notorious for its violent vigilante acts.
Allegedly supported by Indonesian security forces, in its early years it organised raids against bars and nightclubs and overtly campaigned to prosecute religious minority groups.
FUI is a coalition of Islamic organisations, including FPI. In 2008, they were involved in an attack on a rally in Jakarta for the rights of religious minority group Ahmadiyah.
HTI, the Indonesian branch of an international organisation that aims to revive a global Islamic caliphate, is opposed to violent tactics. But they spread hate-mongering rhetoric against religious minorities.
Following the fall of Soeharto, conservative Muslim organisations could operate under the breeze of a new democracy that promoted freedom of speech. Under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration, conservative Muslims were given more clout.
In 2005, he told the national congress of the Ulema Council that the state wanted "to place [the council] in a central role in matters regarding the Islamic faith". He also legitimised religious violence by releasing measures against "deviant beliefs".
However, things have changed under the current administration. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has identified intoleransi as one of Indonesia's main problems. He has adopted an authoritarian approach in response.
Last year, the government issued a law that allows the government to disband organisations it deems not aligned to the state ideology Pancasila, which supports pluralism. HTI was the first victim of the law.
The political shift has forced conservative Muslim groups to adjust their image and actions not only to gain public support but also to avoid being banned.
The political change has in particular forced the conservative groups to alter their stance towards terrorism. I monitor these changes from Muslim conservative publications like www.eramuslim.com, www.muslimdaily.net, www.belaquran.com and www.hidayatullah.com. The changes are evident before and after Jokowi's presidency.
After the first Bali bombing in 2002, FPI founder Habib Rizieq Shihab resorted to a conspiracy theory. He claimed that the United States engineered the attack to create an image of Indonesia as a "terrorist haven".
HTI claimed the attacks were engineered to stigmatise Muslims. They came to that conclusion knowing that not a single terrorist attack managed to take down US government establishments.
Similar to HTI, FUI believed that the discourse of the "war on terrorism" was no more than a declaration of war against Muslims.
These groups also glorified the perpetrators of terrorist attacks.
When the terrorists behind the first Bali bombing, Amrozi, Muklas and Imam Samudra, were executed in 2008, FPI and FUI declared that they were warriors or mujahid who had died defending Islam (syahid).
FUI secretary-general Muhammad Al-Khaththath described the terrorists as jihadists and said the spirit of their actions needed to be taught to Muslims in Indonesia.
FPI and FUI also took a vague stance on Islamic State (IS). In their official statement, both organisations underlined their support for the establishment of an Islamic state (khilafah Islamiyah) even though they were reluctant to show explicit support for IS.
FUI refused to condemn IS, arguing that growing support for IS in Indonesia was just "a form of regular admiration".
In the years since Jokowi came to office, the conservative Muslim organisations seem to be distancing themselves from groups with extreme ideology to create a more peaceful image.
Their recent statements emphasise that the terrorists have deviated from Islamic teachings. Their statements also argue for the importance of maintaining national unity.
After a bomb attack in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta, in 2017, GNPF-MUI chairman Bachtiar Nasir called it "an act that violates Islamic laws (sharia) and Indonesian Muslims' consensus".
The previous year, FPI condemned the terrorist attacks in Jakarta as "serious crimes". Responding to the terrorist attacks in Surabaya, East Java, in the past week, FPI stressed that "no religion teaches its followers to kill others".
GNPF chairman Bachtiar Nasir issued a similar statement, saying the attacks "smeared our peaceful Islam that promoted unity and brotherhood". He said Muslims and people of other faiths should work to preserve national unity. Image-building strategy
The change in attitude on terrorism is understandable. Being perceived by the public to be supporting violent extremism will make these groups' position politically fragile.
Additionally, being associated with extremism can provide justification for the government to disband these organisations, as happened to HTI. This will leave their goals to establish a nation ruled by Islamic values in shambles.
Under the current political system, being ambiguous towards terrorist attacks will not help conservative groups create an image that Muslim conservatives stand for peace and national unity.
Therefore, the change in the attitude of Muslim conservative groups towards terrorism is not ideological. It's a strategic move to survive in Indonesia's current political landscape.
Joshua Roose It was no coincidence that Sunday's suicide attacks on three Catholic churches in Indonesia came as Muslims began the holy month of Ramadan.
For the observant, this is a time of charity, introspection, renewal and closeness to God. For Islamic State, however, Ramadan has become a strategic time in which to strike, inspired by the Battle of Badr in the year 624, when the Prophet Muhammad and his army defeated a vastly superior force and laid the foundation for the growth of Islam.
Around the time of Ramadan last year, the Islamic State claimed over 300 separate attacks worldwide.
The gruesome church attack on Sunday, which involved using children as suicide bombers and left 13 people dead and more than 40 injured, also follows another pattern an uptick of violence linked to the terrorist group in Southeast Asia.
As Islamic State has lost vast swathes of territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, it has actively sought to mobilise support with Jihadist groups in other countries such as Libya, Yemen, Nigeria and Bangladesh.
Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines and Indonesia, was also identified as a core target of the group in an article in the Islamic State magazine Rumiyah in 2017. And in a worrying sign for the region, the number of attacks has been on the rise, driven in part by the return of fighters from the front lines of Islamic State's battles in the Middle East.
Conservative estimates suggest more than 1,000 fighters have travelled to the Middle East from Southeast Asia to join Islamic State over the past five years. Of these, 700 are estimated to have come from Indonesia, about half of whom were male fighters, the other half women and children joining their husbands. Another 75 Indonesian fighters were deported from Turkey before they could travel to Syria.
Considering Indonesia is home to 225 million Muslims, the number of Indonesians who fought in Iraq and Syria is remarkably low. (Australia, with just over 604,000 Muslims, has seen more than 100 of its citizens join the fight, with up to 87 deaths at last count).
Journalists and scholars have argued that Indonesia's pluralism has played a significant role in limiting the outflow of fighters to the Middle East.
However, as has been made painfully clear in attacks like the one on the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015, the actions of just a handful of trained Islamic State fighters can have a devastating impact both in terms of casualties and the wider political fallout.
Though Indonesian intelligence forces are well-trained and have been working with countries like Australia to improve the sharing of information across borders, there are no laws prohibiting Indonesians from travelling overseas to join the Islamic State. Nor is it illegal to express support for the group.
Adding to the problem is the fact that Indonesia's borders are exceptionally porous, making it almost impossible to prevent returning fighters from slipping back into the country unnoticed.
It was initially reported by media outlets that the family responsible for the church bombings on Sunday had also fought in Syria, a claim that has now been retracted.
But they were linked with Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an umbrella organisation consisting of up to two dozen affiliated militant groups. The leader of JAD, Aman Abdurrahman, is being held at the prison that was the scene of deadly riots by Islamic State followers a week ago and led to the deaths of several prison guards.
The militant groups operating within the JAD umbrella are relatively autonomous and don't have a great deal of interaction with one another. However, it is almost certain, though difficult to substantiate, that fighters returning from Iraq and Syria have joined up with a number of them, bringing their battlefield experience and militant skill sets with them.
JAD has also pledged its support to the Islamic State. This pledge of allegiance, or bayat, to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi requires followers to follow Al-Baghdadi's orders but gives them autonomy to conduct terrorist operations against the state, rejectionists and apostates.
The Islamic state continues to enjoy a sizeable level of support among everyday Indonesians, as well. A Pew Research study found that 4% of Indonesians have a favourable opinion of the group, which may seem small, but in numerical terms, constitutes over 9 million people. As Indonesian society has slowly become more conservative in recent years, this support is sure to grow.
The Indonesian government faces a significant challenge overcoming the simultaneous problems of returning foreign fighters and home-grown violent extremism.
But no nation can battle terrorism alone. Though Australia and Indonesia have been working well together on counter-terrorism initiatives, a senior Australian government official told The Australian on Monday that Canberra would "double down" on its cooperation with Jakarta to tackle the issue of returning foreign fighters.
Agus Mutohar A series of terrorist acts has rocked Indonesia in the past week. Starting from a clash in a detention centre at the Police Mobile Brigade headquarters in Depok, West Java, last week, attackers then bombed three churches in Surabaya, East Java, last Sunday, followed by another terrorist bombing at Surabaya Police Headquarters. Dozens were killed and wounded.
In response, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has reiterated the government's commitment to exterminate terrorism down to its roots.
We must appreciate Jokowi's statement. However, terrorism is a complex issue because there is no single factor that can explain why a person becomes a terrorist.
One of the strategies that the government can use to stop terrorism in Indonesia is to take preventive steps using educational institutions to promote tolerance, which can eventually stop the spread of radical thoughts.
But what is happening in Indonesia is the opposite. Many schools in Indonesia have become fertile ground for radicalism.
The latest surveys from the Wahid Institute, Pusat Pengkajian Islam Masyarakat and the Centre for Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) and Setara Institute have indicated the spread of intolerance and radical values in educational institutions in Indonesia.
A student tolerance survey from Setara Institute in 2016 revealed that 35.7% of the students showed a tendency to intolerance in their minds, 2.4% were involved in acts of intolerance, and 0.3% had the potential to become terrorists. The survey was based on 760 respondents who enrolled in public high schools in Jakarta and Bandung, West Java.
Surveys from the Wahid Institute and PPIM have shown the same worrying trend.
In 2017, I was involved in research on efforts to respond to radicalism at 20 private Islamic schools in Central Java. The research involved academics from Monash University in Australia, Walisongo State Islamic University in Semarang, Central Java, and Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta with funding support from the Australia-Indonesia Centre.
We managed to identify three types of schools that are prone to radicalism. In accordance with confidentiality principles, we will not publish the schools' names in this article.
These three types of schools are:
Instead of embracing changes, this type of school offers students a narrow perspective and tends to shut them off from foreign ideas. We interviewed one of the headmasters from these schools. He explained the importance of Islamic civilisation to protect students against Western values.
Aside from seeing Islam and the West as being in conflict, closed schools also stress the importance of practising their version of Islamic teachings and reject the moderate Islam that most Muslims adhere to in Indonesia.
These schools can be identified from their teacher recruitment system and their limited participation in social activities.
The teacher recruitment process in these schools is very strict, especially the recruitment of religion teachers. In addition, these schools do not want to participate in social activities that they deem to be against their values.
This type of school is very different from other Islamic schools that are affiliated with the country's more traditional Muslim organisations such as Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) or Muhammadiyah.
Whereas separated schools recruit religion teachers from their own groups only and will use their networks to recruit alumni who share the same Islamic values, NU and Muhammadiyah schools will not consider differences in their teachings as an issue. For example, one of the headmasters from a NU-affiliated school stated that his school also recruited teachers from Muhammadiyah.
NU and Muhammadiyah schools are also active in social activities, including interfaith activities. Separated schools are not.
Schools with pure Islamic identity
The third type can be identified by the way they create students' Islamic identity. The schools that are prone to radicalism tend to build in a student a single Islamic identity, refusing other identities.
This understanding is different from other Islamic schools, which tend to consider that a person's identity as a Muslim is not against his/her other identity. Moderate Islamic schools do not see a conflict between their students' identity as Muslims and as Indonesian citizens.
When a school builds this single Muslim identity, that school will also foster radical attitudes among students as they only believe in a single Islamic interpretation that is in line with their values.
Headmasters from this type of school usually order their students to follow all religious rituals at schools, despite the students' different religious background.
A headmaster told us that his students with a NU background must abandon their prayer ritual in the morning called qunut when they are enrolled in his schools.
This policy is different from other schools that allow flexibility for their students in their religious practices.
In addition, the rejection of other identities creates a "we versus them" attitude not only between different religions but also within the larger Islamic community itself.
These three types of schools contribute to the growth of intolerance as well as radicalism at schools, which can lead to terrorist acts.
Therefore, we believe that the recent terrorist attacks should give momentum to the government to plan preventive measures to promote diversity, social integrity and diverse identities in various schools across the country.
The government's campaign on tolerance should reach different educational institutions via the Culture and Education Ministry as well as Religious Affairs Ministry.
The government must also provide platforms and programs to promote tolerance. Apart from that, related government institutions in the regions must develop the capacity to identify schools that are prone to radicalism and apply persuasive approaches to prevent the spread of radicalism in those schools.
Sidney Jones Indonesia has again exploded in a paroxysm of terrorist violence, but with a new twist: family suicide bombers. This may be the first time in the world that parents took their children on a family outing to blow themselves up.
One family of six including children aged nine to 16 were responsible for the attacks on three churches in Surabaya on Sunday.
Members of a second family also died on Sunday when the bomb they were making exploded prematurely in Sidoarjo, just outside Surabaya. Two children, aged 17 and 15, died; two others, aged 11 and 10, survived.
A third family of five was involved in a suicide attack on a police station in Surabaya on Monday. They used two motorcycles, and four family members were killed in the attack. An eight-year-old child survived.
These kinds of attacks are unprecedented. At the height of Jemaah Islamiyah's influence, just before the Bali bombings, families were committed to the cause, but only an adult male would ever be considered a warrior.
Jemaah Islamiyah men married the sisters or daughters of other Jemaah Islamiyah members, or chose wives from Jemaah Islamiyah schools where the girls had been carefully inculcated with the organisation's values.
The women served as mothers, teachers, couriers, and sometimes business managers, but almost never as combatants even in the communal conflicts of Ambon and Poso.
When children were involved as combatants, it was usually because they had been orphaned or abandoned. One Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah member married a Filipina in Mindanao who was willing to plant a bomb, although there is no evidence that she ever did. But it wasn't a suicide bomb, and it is hard to think of any self-respecting Jemaah Islamiyah member deliberately sending his wife and children to destruction.
But from the beginning, ISIS has been a family affair. The caliphate deliberately encouraged whole families to migrate berhijrah to Syria so fathers could fight, women could reproduce, teach or treat the wounded, and children could grow up in a pure Islamic state.
Indonesians, along with many others around the world, responded enthusiastically. Sometimes the men went first and their wives followed with infants and toddlers. Sometimes they brought their teenaged daughters and married them off to non-Indonesian nationals.
One prisoner, nicknamed Brekele, allowed his 12-year-old son Hatf to go to Syria with relatives in August 2016. Hatf died in combat with a French ISIS unit two months short of his 13th birthday.
In August 2015, an extended family of 27 people, ranging from an infant only a few months old to a 78-year-old wheelchair-bound matriarch, left for Syria. Twenty made it through, three died in Syria (including the elderly woman), and 17 came home in July 2017. This was not a case of the men dragging reluctant women along. If anything, it was the daughters and wives in that group who were more determined than the men.
ISIS managed to turn the concept of jihad into a family affair, with a role for everyone. Women were "lionesses", children were "cubs". Everyone was given a sense of mission. Only by having normal families living normal lives could ISIS hope to make a claim to functioning like a normal state.
The problem was that many of the women were not satisfied with the very traditional role ISIS assigned them. Some, as we know from observing social media, wanted more action and admired women suicide bombers in Palestine, Iraq, and Chechnya.
The involvement of families leaving or returning from ISIS has several implications. It means deradicalisation has to happen as a family it can't only be aimed at the men. And deradicalisation programs cannot just be aimed at inculcating nationalism or exposing extremists to other interpretations of Koranic texts. They have to address how families as a whole, often indoctrinated into believing that anyone outside ISIS is the enemy, can be persuaded to change their objectives as individuals and as a family unit.
In other kinds of extremist organisations neo-Nazi groups in Eastern Europe, gangs in the United States, child soldiers in Ambon individual mentors who take a long-term interest in the fate of their proteges have been key. But in Indonesia thus far, mentoring has been an ad hoc process, and when it does happen it is usually aimed at male prisoners exclusively. Loading
In Poso, in Central Sulawesi, after the communal conflict there subsided, some psychologists tried to assess the degree of trauma children exposed to the fighting had suffered, and to design appropriate classroom-based interventions to ease it. It would be useful to know if there are any lessons from Poso that could be applied to ISIS-influenced children in Indonesia, including children of prisoners and deportees.
The first task, though, is to map known pro-ISIS networks and document the family networks. The government needs to know more about these families and their backgrounds before they can begin to develop more strategic programs. The need for this knowledge is urgent. If three families can be involved in two days' worth of terrorist attacks in Surabaya, surely there are more ready to act.