A West Papua human rights advocate is calling for solidarity from the New Zealand Government on issues affecting indigenous West Papuans.
Wensislaus Fatubun says, "West Papuans have been killed, arrested and tortured by the Indonesian authorities especially military and police. Now we're facing difficulties with the population of indigenous Papuans. Now we are a minority."
He's advocated the mistreatment of his people to the United Nations and is reaching out to the global community for support.
"The UN has made many recommendations to the Indonesian Government to protect indigenous Papuans right in West Papua but the problem is the Indonesian Government doesn't implement the recommendations."
He says New Zealand is contributing to deforestation and displacement of indigenous West Papuans through the palm oil industry and is calling on the government to take action.
"When palm oil takes the land, west Papuans not only lose their land, they lose their identity, and they lose the place where their ancestors lived. For us as Papuans, we need solidarity from different communities like New Zealand."
Today's meeting with Ngati Whatua starts a nationwide tour bringing awareness to West Papuan human rights issues over the next two weeks.
Pacific Media Centre Vanuatu says New Zealand should get on the right side of history and support West Papuan self-determination. However, reports James Halpin of Asia Pacific Journalism, Indonesian diplomacy with its Pacific allies Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea are defiantly undermining Pacific "solidarity" on the issue.
Vanuatu's Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu has called on New Zealand to get on the right side of history when it comes to West Papua.
Reaffirming President Salwai's remarks at the UN General Assembly late last month, Regenvanu told Asia Pacific Report that the "people of West Papua have never had the opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination, which is an unalienable right under international law, and they must be given that opportunity".
Vanuatu was one of three countries four less than in 2016 whose leaders gave UN strong messages in support of West Papuan self-determination.
Independence for Vanuatu was achieved from the co-colonisers France and the United Kingdom in 1980.
West Papua had been a colony of the Dutch New Guinea but was annexed by Indonesia after a paratrooper "invasion" in 1962 followed by a UN-supervised vote in 1969 described by critics as fraudulent.
Asked why Vanuatu has taken the lead in advocating for West Papua, Regenvanu says:
"We take this position because of our historical solidarity with the people of West Papua we were once together and the struggles as colonies trying to become independent; we achieved ours and we will not forget our brothers-and-sisters-in-arms who have not got theirs."
For President Salwai and Regenvanu, the recent Pacific Islands Forum was a failure at gaining Pacific support for West Papuan self-determination.
"We are disappointed at the position of Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Australia to vocally oppose self-determination for West Papua. We are pleased that most other countries support self-determination, however."
Regenvanu also criticises New Zealand for not following the advice that it gives to Pacific Island countries. New Zealand should, "actively support with actions on this issue the 'international rules-based order' it is always promoting to PICs".
The Melanesian Spearhead Group, which shares an ethnicity with the people of West Papua, has also failed at achieving solidarity over the issue. "PNG and Fiji have strong ties to Indonesia and work actively to ensure the MSG does not address the issue."
President Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas introduced the issue of West Papua to the UN General Assembly this year.
"For half a century now, the international community has been witnessing a gamut of torture, murder, exploitation, sexual violence, arbitrary detention inflicted on the nationals of West Papua perpetrated by Indonesia."
"We also call on our counterparts throughout the world to support the legal right of West Papua to self-determination."
For President Salwai, it is an issue of justice and equality for the people of West Papua,
"I would like to get back to the principles in the charter of the United Nations to reaffirm that we believe in the fundamental rights of human beings in dignity and worth of the human person and in equality of rights between men and women and nations large and small."
President Salwai has been the flag bearer of West Papuan self-determination. His aim is for West Papua to be placed back onto the decolonisation list under the UN charter.
However, President Salwai was supported by two other Pacific leaders, Marshall Islands' President Hilda Heine of the Marshall Islands, and Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu.
Sopoaga said: "The United Nations must also engage with the people of West Papua to find lasting solutions to their struggles."
At the 2016 UN General Assembly, seven countries stated their supported for West Papuan self-determination. These were: Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Palau.
Decolonisation has become an important part of foreign relations in the Pacific with the New Caledonian independence vote on November 4.
After hundreds of years of European colonisation, the UN has provided a platform for and facilitated the self-determination of indigenous peoples across the world.
The Indonesian delegation denounced Vanuatu at the UN General Assembly just days ago. The Indonesia delegation used the entirety of their second right of reply in the general debate to deplore Vanuatu's support for West Papuan self-determination.
"Although being disguised with flowery human rights concern, Vanuatu's sole intention and action are directly challenging the internationally agreed principles of friendly relations between state, sovereignty and territorial integrity," UN General Assembly Vice-President Muhammad Kalla said on behalf of his country.
He said: "Like any other country, Indonesia will firmly defend its territorial integrity."
The Indonesian representative, Aloysius Taborat, said: "respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the cardinal rule in the relation among nations and in the United Nations".
However, critics say Indonesia's handling of West Papua's vote in the 1969 Act of Free Choice "was rigged" so that West Papua would vote to join Indonesia. Therefore, many see hypocrisy in Indonesia's words, including in their reputation over press freedom.
Human rights abuses are a common occurrence in West Papua, according to human rights organisations. Simply raising the West Papuan flag can result in 15-years imprisonment.
Godwin Ligo The issue of West Papua, was raised by Vanuatu at the United Nations 72nd General Assembly with exchanges of the Right of Reply between Vanuatu and Indonesia.
Vanuatu Ambassador to the United Nations, Odo Tevi, made the following statement as Vanuatu exercised its Right of Reply to Indonesia on its recent statement.
"Vanuatu agrees with Indonesia that allegations, of flagrant, systematic and widespread Human Rights violations, negligence of civil, social and political, economic and cultural Rights cannot be taken lightly," said Ambassador Tevi.
"When Papuan Civil Society organizations and International Human Rights Organizations such as Amnesty International, report with great diligence to the United Nations, cases on gross Human Rights violations, it is crucial that these allegations be examined and investigated thoroughly by Human Rights relevant mechanism."
He said this is the basic reason why Vanuatu welcomed the news of the visit to Papua last year of the UN Special Rapporteur of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
"The Special Rapporteur was able to see with its own eyes that Papua was lacking behind other parts of Indonesia in many aspects. However, the former High Commissioner for Human Rights said in his last statement at the Human Rights Council that he was concern that despite positive engagement by the authorities in many respects, the Indonesia Government invitation to the office to visit West Papua was still not honored.
"Vanuatu would encourage Indonesia to renew its Invitation, this time to the new Human Rights Commission, to organize a visit to Papua by the Human Rights Commission, and to take place in the near future.
"This is important to provide an objective assessment of Human Rights issues in West Papua. It is also important for this body to know that Vanuatu is not alone in raising these concerns at the United Nations but other members as well.
"Historically, Vanuatu's stand on Human Rights abuses, decolonization, and the wrong of apartheid has always been strong and for these reasons, Vanuatu will continue to do the same", Ambassador Tevi concluded.
Indonesia's response was published in the Daily Post yesterday.
Reports from Indonesia's Papua province say seven West Papuans have been killed in a military operation in remote Puncak Jaya regency.
The remote Highlands area has been the focus of efforts by the Indonesian military, or TNI, to hunt down members of the West Papua Liberation Army.
Five civilians, including two young children, were killed according to local human rights workers as the TNI mounted land and air attacks on the Liberation Army in Tingginambut District.
Two members of the Liberation Army were also reportedly killed in the incident which happened earlier this week.
A statement from the TNI said it was a standard operation in which military forces targeted an area where the banned Papuan nationalist Morning Star Flag was flying.
Colonel Muhammad Aidi said that at the outset, the Liberation Army was warned to surrender but instead fired at the TNI soldiers.
Colonel Aidi's statement only cited the discovery of one Liberation Army member's body, but he said a weapons cache was also found.
Following the violence and the emergence of the TNI in the regency many villagers have reportedly fled to the bush, according to human rights workers.
The TNI said it was followers of Goliat Tabuni's Liberation Army group who fled into the nearby forest.
There's been condemnation from civil society of another series of mass arrests of West Papuans by Indonesian police.
Two organisations concerned with human rights, the UK-based TAPOL and US-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, say the arrests contradict claims by Indonesia at the United Nations.
In late September West Papuans were arrested in Jayapura after demonstrating support for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua. They were also demonstrating support for Vanuatu's move to speak at the UN General Assembly about human rights abuses in Papua.
Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai also spoke about Papuans' right to a legitimate self-determination process. Additionally, at least two other Pacific Islands leaders told the UN of their concern about the rights situation in Papua.
This was met with condemnation by Indonesian officials in their right of reply who denied there were "frequent and systematic human rights violations" in West Papua.
But the NGOs said systematic violations, including mass arrests of peaceful protestors, continue unabated in West Papua.
Two years ago, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination warned Indonesia about a problematic trend of unlawful mass arrests of peaceful protesters. In that year alone, 5,361 arrests of West Papuan peaceful protesters were recorded.
Tapol and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network say "no other group has suffered such treatment at the hands of the Indonesian state" as West Papuans.
They say a total of 221 West Papuans were arrested last month in relation to demonstrations advocating for self-determination.
The NGOs say there were several cases of the detainees being tortured, including one man who the Association of Human Rights Lawyers for Papua was tortured by air force members.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has urged Indonesian authorities to conduct prompt and independent investigations into allegations of torture leading to the death of a Papuan in custody in Merauke District last month.
Indonesian police were unavailable for comment, but have said that citizens who demonstrate with[out] a permit face arrest. Additionally, Indonesia's military chiefs have often spoken of crushing anyone expressing so-called 'separatist' intent.
Meanwhile, in addition to the arrests in Papua last month, an additional 39 Papuans were detained in Malang, East Java at the weekend for demonstrating in support of self-determination.
The NGOs add that there have been racially motivated attacks against West Papuan student dormitories in Indonesian cities of Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Malang, as well as assaults by security forces in Manado and Tomohon.
The chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, is being considered for the Freedom of Oxford award.
Mr Wenda and his family are based in the United Kingdom city where he was granted asylum in 2002 after fleeing Indonesian rule in West Papua
The Oxford Student reports that the city's council was this week set to debate whether to grant the award to Mr Wenda in recognition of his long fight for indigenous rights.
He has been campaigning extensively on the international stage for West Papuan independence, and helped establish a Free West Papua office in Oxford.
Other notable recipients of the award include the former British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, as well as former South African president Nelson Mandela.
However, Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi was recently stripped of her Freedom of Oxford honour due to the Rohingya refugee crisis in her country.
Vanuatu has long been a supporter of the rights of West Papuans in their movement for independence from Indonesia.
On Monday Indonesia used its second right of reply at the 73rd UN general assembly to mount an excoriating attack on Vanuatu over its support for West Papuan self-determination, calling it "clueless".
"Although being disguised with flowery human rights concern, Vanuatu's sole intention and action are directly challenging the internationally agreed principles of friendly relations between states, sovereignty and territorial integrity," said the Indonesian representative, Aloysius Selwas Taborat.
Taborat said Vanuatu repeatedly supported separatist movements and he questioned its behaviour as "an internationally law abiding" nation.
"This inexcusable support to separatist individuals is clearly shown by the inclusion by Vanuatu of a number of persons with serious criminal records and a separatist agenda in their delegation to the UN."
Taborat said the people of Papua had "once and for all reaffirmed Papua is an irrevocable part of Indonesia" and that it was "final, irreversible and permanent", referring to the 1969 UN resolution that noted the so-called Act of Free Choice.
Many West Papuans consider the move an illegal annexation by Indonesia and a separatist insurgency has run for decades.
The controversial referendum, which saw 1,026 hand-picked individuals vote to remain with Indonesia, is repeatedly dismissed as not being either representative or a free vote.
Vanuatu's prime minister, Charlot Salwai, who has long supported West Papuan self-determination had last week called for the Human Rights Council to investigate human rights abuses in the region claims Indonesia denies.
West Papuan activists are routinely arrested and jailed, and there are frequent allegations against Indonesian forces of violence, extrajudicial killings, torture and mistreatment of protesters. Verified information is difficult to obtain as Indonesia does not allow the free movement of press in the region.
Last week the Tuvalu prime minister, Enele Sopoaga, also gave support to West Papuans at the 73rd general assembly, calling for recognition of West Papuans and engagement "to find lasting solutions to their struggles".
Hilda Heine, the president of the Marshall Islands, said the recent Pacific Islands Forum had given support for the "constructive engagement" by forum countries with Indonesia on elections and human rights in West Papua.
"Decolonisation and human rights are both important issues in the Pacific islands region," she said.
Indonesia's vice-president, Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, did not name Vanuatu in his first response but labelled it an "act of hostility" that had "no place in the UN system" and was a violation of UN principles.
"Indonesia will not let any country undermine its territorial integrity," he said. "Like any other sovereign country, Indonesia will firmly defend its territorial integrity."
Last September a banned petition calling for a free vote, signed by 1.8m West Papuans and smuggled out of the region, was delivered to the UN's decolonisation committee, which monitors progress towards decolonisation and independent rule.
West Papua was removed from the decolonisation committee's agenda in 1963.
Three Pacific leaders have called out Indonesia at the UN for their human rights abuses in West Papua.
Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai, a long time supporter of West Papuan self-determination, told the General Assembly in New York that decolonisation must remain on the UN agenda.
He said the Human Rights Council must investigate human rights abuses in the Indonesian provinces.
The Marshall Islands president, Hilda Heine, told the assembly's 73rd session that the Pacific Islands Forum supported "constructive engagement" with Indonesia on the issue.
While Tuvalu's prime minister Enele Sopoaga continued his call for recognition of the indigenous people. "The United Nations must also engage with the people of West Papua to find lasting solutions to their struggles."
Indonesia rejected what it called attacks on its sovereignty with vice president Muhammad Jusuf Kalla demanding respect for its territorial integrity. He added that he "deplores" countries supporting separatist movements.
Indonesia has lashed out at Vanuatu over its representations about West Papua at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. In what has become an annual fixture, Pacific leaders have voiced concern about human rights in Indonesia's Papua region, known widely as West Papua. But, as Johnny Blades reports, Vanuatu's persistent criticism of Indonesia over its Papuan provinces has touched a nerve with Jakarta.
Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai, a long time supporter of West Papuan self-determination, told the General Assembly in New York that decolonisation must remain on the UN agenda. He said the international community had witnessed violence and violations of human rights suffered by West Papuans, and called on the Human Rights Council to investigate.His words are translated:
"We also call on our fellow leaders of the world to pay greater attention to these inhuman acts, and together with Indonesia to put an end to all forms of violence and find common ground with the populations to establish a process that will allow them to freely express their choice."
Indonesia denies the claims of flagrant abuses against Papuans by the country's military forces. In its right of reply, Indonesia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dian Triansyah Djani targeted Vanuatu's links with the West Papuan independence movement.
"This country argues that based on these factors injected into their minds by criminal individuals that the two provinces (Papua and West Papua) have to be debated at the United Nations. We fail to understand the motive behind Vanuatu's intention in supporting a group of people who have striked terror and mayhem in so many occasions, creating fatalities and sadness to innocent families of their own communities."
He said Vanuatu's accusation of abuses in Papua was unacceptable. "No country in this world is free from human rights or development challenges. But accusing others of human rights violations when one has so many problems of its own is like the pot calling the kettle black."
Earlier, in reference to Vanuatu's statements, Indonesia's vice president Muhammad Jusuf Kalla condemned what he described as an act of hostility against its territorial integrity.
"This act of hostility has no place in the UN system. An act which is clearly in violation of UN principles. Indonesia will not let any country undermine its territorial integrity. Like any other sovereign country, Indonesia will firmly defend its territorial integrity."
In rejecting Vanuatu's push for West Papuan self-determination, Indonesia has referred to a United Nations resolution from 1969. Resolution 2504 took note of the so-called Act of Free Choice, a controversial referendum which was the culmination of the former Dutch New Guinea's incorporation into Indonesia. The West Papuan independence movement says that because the plebiscite was not formally approved by the UN, and was not based on universal adult suffrage, Papuans should be granted a legitimate self-determination process. Vanuatu was not alone in urging the UN to address Papuans' historic grievances, with Tuvalu's prime minister Enele Sopoaga among those calling for recognition of the indigenous people.
"The United Nations must also engage with the people of West Papua to find lasting solutions to their struggles."
The Marshall Islands president, Hilda Heine, also told the general assembly's 73rd session that Pacific Islands countries supported "constructive engagement" with Indonesia on the issue.
Ahmad Faiz Ibnu Sani, Jakarta President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, as the highest commander in the Indonesian Military (TNI), said he would eliminate communism.
Jokowi delivered the statement during his speech in the TNI's 73rd-anniversary ceremony at TNI headquarter in Cilangkap, Jakarta, Friday, October 5.
Jokowi explained the ideology of Indonesia is only Pancasila and other than so is prohibited. "As the highest commander of Navy, Air, and Army Force, my duty together with you is to preserve the Unitary State of Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), Pancasila, the 1945 Constitutional Law, and Bhineka Tunggal Ika (unity in diversity). Together, we fight against other ideologies and eradicate communism and legacy of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI)," he remarked.
The main duty of TNI personnel is holding on the warrior's oath for the sake of TNI professionality. Professional officers, he added, help to support national democracy and development as well as uphold the country's political principles as commanded by the first commander in chief General Sudirman.
During his speech, Jokowi also reminded that TNI's challenges would be more complex in the future, as it is in line with the technology development. The president also demanded TNI be alert towards all efforts undermined the country and Pancasila, either from domestic or foreign threats.
Furthermore, Jokowi ordered all to be aware of the real war in culture and economy sector in the era of open trade and technology development. "We have to be quickly strengthening the real national development," said President Jokowi in the TNI's 73rd-anniversary ceremony.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has reminded the personnel of the Indonesian Military (TNI) to guard the state ideology of Pancasila and fight against communism, including the remains of the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
During his address to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the TNI on Friday, Jokowi said that his role as Commander in Chief, was to join hands with the military personnel to protect Indonesia, the 1945 Constitution and the country's motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).
"Together with [military personnel] we are fighting against other ideologies outside Pancasila, eradicating communism and the legacy of the PKI," Jokowi said at the TNI headquarters in East Jakarta on Friday.
The PKI, which was blamed for being behind a failed coup attempt on Sept. 30 in 1965, was disbanded with the 1966 Temporary People's Consultative Assembly Decree.
Jokowi himself has been repeatedly accused by his opponents of being a member of the PKI since he began campaigning for the presidency in 2014. The President has denied the rumors on a number of occasions.
During his speech, Jokowi also called for the TNI to improve its professionalism and continue support for the country's democracy and development, while reminding all military personnel to refrain from practical politics since their loyalty was only for the interest of the state and nation.
His statement comes at a time when the country is bracing for the upcoming 2019 presidential and legislative elections, which will be held simultaneously on April 17 next year.
Vindry Florentin, Jakarta Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) deputy coordinator Feri Kusuma says that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's statement on the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) at the TNI's (Indonesian military) anniversary was inappropriate.
"It will instead create problems", said Feri at his office in Jakarta on Friday October 5.
Feri said that the PKI ceased to exist decades ago and it will not reemerge as a party. The Law and Human Rights Ministry would never allow the formation of the party on the grounds that its ideology is not in accordance with the state ideology of Pancasila.
When speaking about ideology, Feri noted that there is no evidence that the PKI still exists and the TAP MPR still prohibits Marxist, Communist and Leninist ideology.
In addition to this, Feri says there are misguided ideas about the PKI. The party is still deemed as being guilty of the September 30 Movement coup in 1965 and was annihilated down to its roots.
Meanwhile there is evidence which in fact shows that the army was the mastermind behind the 1985 affair.
According to Feri, Widodo must straighten out the assumptions about the PKI before stating that he wants to eradicate the PKI and communism. He suggests that the government reveal the truth behind the 1965 affair.
"In what way did the PKI commit crimes, who were the victims", he said. The debate about the PKI can be resolved by revealing the truth.
Feri said that Widodo has been influenced by the issue of the PKI and communism which always emerges in the lead up to political events. According to Feri, the issue has the potential to create disunity in the nation. Raising the issue also makes it even harder to achieve justice and fulfill the rights of the victims of 1965-66.
During his address to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the TNI in Cilangkap, East Jakarta on Friday October 5, Widodo called on the TNI to eliminate communist ideology and the legacy of the PKI.
"As the highest commander of the navy, air force and army, my duty together with you is to preserve the NKRI [Unitary State of Republic of Indonesia], Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution and Bhineka Tunggal Ika [Unity in Diversity]. Together, we fight against ideologies other than Pancasila and eradicate communism and legacy of PKI", he said.
Widodo also took the opportunity to remind those present that the principal duty of TNI personnel is to firmly uphold the officer's oath for the sake of making the TNI more professional.
A professional TNI that supports democracy and national development as well as firmly upholding the principals of a political state such as the order of Indonesia's first military commander General Sudirman. He also called on the TNI to be on guard against all efforts to undermine the NKRI and Pancasila by both domestic and foreign threats.
Tap MPRS XXV/1966 Provisional People's Consultative Assembly Decree Number XXV/1966 on the Dissolution of the Indonesian Communist Party and Prohibitions on Marxist, Leninist and Communist Teachings.
Jakarta Jakarta Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Muchsin Alatas has admitted that the group handed out copies of a book on the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) titled "The PKI: How and What" (PKI Apa dan Bagaimana) during a joint prayer at the National Monument (Monas) last week.
"Yes, they were indeed handed out. But only 100 to 200 copies right. [The book] contain around 31 pages", said Alatas when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Monday October 1.
Alatas said that the book, which was written by the FPI's "Great Leader" Rizieq Shihab, is about the past brutalities of the PKI. Shihab also writes about the latent threat of the PKI, he added.
Alatas said that the book was printed in 2015. At the time, he continued, Shihab wrote the book when President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was planning to make an official apology to the victims from the PKI.
"It was printed three years ago. Not now. It was right when Pak [Mr] Jokowi planned to apologise to PKI victims", said Alatas. As to the reasons why Shihab's book on the PKI was handed out at the Monas event, Alatas said that it was the right moment.
As has been reported, last week's event titled "Prayer for the Salvation of the Nation", was followed by a public screening (nobar) of the anti-communist propaganda film "The Betrayal of the September 30 Movement/PKI" (Pengkhianatan Gerakan 30 September/PKI) by director Arifin C. Noer.
"Because at the end [of the event] there was a nobar of the PKI film, so they were handed out, it was the right time. There was no other motive", said Alatas.
The Jakarta branch of the FPI organised the joint prayer at Monas in Central Jakarta on the evening of Saturday September 29. The participants prayed for the salvation of Rizieq Shihab who is still in hiding in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and has been banned from travel after overstaying his visa.
In addition to this, the participants also prayed for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Palu and Donggala, Central Sulawesi Tengah. Shihab also gave a sermon through in recorded message from Mecca.
Following the joint prayers, the organising committee held a public screening of the PKI film and handed out the books on the PKI. (bmw/sur)
In September 1998, the government dropped the requirement for all TV stations to broadcast the film "Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI" (The Betrayal of the September 30 Movement/Indonesian Communist Party), a dramatisation of the New Order's version of the events surrounding the alleged communist coup in 1965. The film, one of the most effective pieces of propaganda produced by the Suharto dictatorship, had been a compulsory program for all stations every September 30 since its release in 1984.
Jakarta, CNN Indonesia The banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) is like a ghost which every year is resurrected towards the end of September.
The dark tale surrounding the 1965 coup attempt, which is known as the September 30 Movement or G30S, has been is blown up regularly, particularly during election campaign periods since the 2014 presidential elections.
This social conflict became the subject of the 1984 film titled "The Betrayal of the G30S/PKI" (Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI) by director Arifin C Noer. Following reformasi the political reform process that began in 1998 the government dropped the requirement that all TV stations broadcast the film on September 30. Since last year however, a polemic over holding public screenings of the film has resurfaced.
Gadjah Mada University (UGM) political observer Arie Sudjito believes that the "ghost of communism" which is rolled out every year is no longer relevant in contemporary Indonesia. Because communism, particularly the PKI, is no longer developing and has been resigned to the history of the Indonesia nation.
"The fact is that it's impossible for the PKI to be revived, it was declared illegal long ago. And, in several countries around the world communism is no longer the ideological choice", said Sudjito when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Monday October 1.
The PKI was long ago declared a banned organisation in Indonesia through Tap MPRS [Provisional People's Consultative Assembly Decree] Number XXV/MPRS/1966. In addition to dissolving and banning the PKI, the TAP MPRS also prohibits activities which spread or promote communist, Marxist and Leninist ideas or teachings.
Sudjito said that the public should be more on guard against the political elite and Suharto era rulers who want to reestablish their hold on Indonesia following the collapse of the New Order (Orba) regime.
He said that the Suharto era elite are attempting to manipulate issues of identity such as the revival of communism for their own interests and political goals.
"So this is what should be watched, not the reproduction of the PKI ghost, this is a reproduction created by [ruminants] of the Orba", he said.
Sudjito also believes that the political elite and old political groups do not have any strategic or significant issues that they can use to garner public sympathy. Because of this, the strategy of "giving new life" to the ghost of communism is aimed at smoothing the way for their own political goals.
Even worse, these groups are becoming increasingly aggressive in using the PKI "revival" issue in the lead up to the election of regional heads (Pilkada) and presidential elections (Pilpres).
"These groups are reproducing identity politics in order to maintain hostilities, they have failed to find a basic national problem [which they can campaign on] so they are digging up past issues, this it think is a legacy of the Orba, yes", he said.
"On top of this, in the lead up to Pilkada, Pilpres or Pileg [legislative elections] it escalates again, I think that this is stopping the nation from becoming greater", he added.
Sudjito also suggests that the public could become smarter and clearer in looking at the country's current problems.
He says that the enemy of the Indonesian nation right now is not actually the PKI or communism, but rather it is social inequality and corruption which is being perpetrated on a massive scale by the political elite.
"Yes actually we don't need to be frightened by ghosts that we create ourselves, because our [real] enemy is injustice, inequality and corruption", he said.
1965 rights cases yet to be resolved
Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) deputy director Gufron Mabruri says that one of the reasons that the "PKI ghost" and the "Ghost of communism" continues to be reproduced each year is because the government has yet to seriously and fully deal with the 1965 tragedy.
He says that the current government has encountered a dead end in properly resolving the issues surrounding the 1965 tragedy.
"One of the main factors of course is the process of resolving the '65 affair which has yet to be fully resolved. Certainly there have been efforts to resolve it, for example by Jokowi [President Joko Widodo], but it is as if it always encounters a dead end", said Mabruri.
In 2012 the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) said that between 500,000 and 3 million people were killed on and around the 1965 affair. The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) meanwhile has recorded that 32,774 people were declared missing between 1965 and 2013, all of which remain unaccounted for.
Mabruri says that the position taken by various social groups as well as sections of the political elite are still making it difficult for the government to raise the curtain on the tragedy.
"What emerges is reactions and responses that are reactive in nature, not just from the public, but also from the elite and the security institutions in relation to the affair", he said.
Looking at this, Mabruri believes that the PKI issue will continue to be "taken advantage of" by certain groups every year if the government remains incapable of fully opening the dark veil shrouding the 1965 tragedy.
"Because the problem has not yet been resolved, it will always resurface, not just today but in the future", he said.
Because of this therefore, Mabruri is calling on the government to have the will to resolve and reveal the real and objective history of the 1965 affair so this does not continue.
This, he said, is so that Indonesia can free itself from the burden of the past and help the Indonesian nation step forward into the future.
"The historical truth must be revealed, A makes this accusation, B makes that accusation, a position of counter accusations, what is the truth in relation to the '65 affair? The public doesn't understand. Now, this has to be revealed objectively", said Mabruri.
Jakarta Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) executive director Djayadi Hanan says that the Prabowo Subianto camp was the worst hit by the negative impact of Ratna Sarumpaet's lie about being assaulted.
Prabowo will have difficulties garnering votes from undecided voters and voters who are not reliable supporters of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo or swing voters.
"His image has become negative. This will make it difficult for Prabowo to garner votes from those who have not yet made up their minds", said Hanan at the SMRC offices in the Menteng suburb of Central Jakarta on Sunday October 7.
According to Hanan, up until now Prabowo has been promoting an image of a leader who is firm and understands the country's problems, particularly related to intelligence and state security.
Prabowo, who swallowed Sarumpaet's lies, will make the public, particularly undecided and swing voters rethink voting for him.
"Up until now Prabowo was seen as a strong leader, who truly understands [the country's] problems, understands issues of intelligence and security, because he's from the military. But now, Ratna's case has created a negative image", he said.
According to Hanan, this will not influence votes from Prabowo's militant supporters. The Sarumpaet scandal will in fact further strengthen their support for Prabowo and their defense of him.
"The Ratna issue will not result in Prabowo voters walking away, they will instead defend him", he said.
In the next few months, according to Hanan, Prabowo must be able to play up issues that are President Widodo's weak points. For example the depreciation in the value of the rupiah which is currently in the public spotlight.
"His move [should be] to play up other issues, such as the economy and other issues that can distract from this case", he said.
On the other hand, the Sarumpaet case may not necessarily increase Widodo's electoral support because undecided and swing voters will continue to make an assessment in the time remaining before the presidential election.
"The issue of the Ratna hoax will not necessarily increase Jokowi's electoral vote, it's not yet certain. Because it's not certain they will switch from Prabowo to Jokowi", he said. (fhr/gil)
Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta President hopeful Prabowo Subianto planned to address his concern on state condition and recent economy agenda in a press conference today, October 5, said Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, the coordinator spokesperson of the National Campaign Agency Prabowo-Sandiaga.
"Insha Allah, [Prabowo] tomorrow will state his concern on economic condition and IMF meetings," said Dahnil in Prabowo's residence, South Jakarta, Thursday, October 4. The press conference would take place at 16:00 local times after an internal meeting.
The annual meeting of International Monetary Fund and World Bank (IMF-WB) was slated to be held in Bali, October 8-14, presenting finance officials from 189 countries and non-governmental parties. The event budget was expected to worth Rp1 trillion, Rp850 billion from State Budget and the rest from Bank Indonesia and other institutions.
The Prabowo coalition planned to deliver their sentiments thus the government review the establishment of the event amid the disaster that recently hit Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara Province and Palu City, Central Sulawesi.
Gerindra Party Advisory Board member Fuad Bawazier confirmed his coalition would release suggestion to halt the meeting and so the fund could be distributed to help the disaster victims.
According to Fuad, the disaster mitigation in Palu, Donggala, and the vicinity still required a huge budget. The former finance minister thought it is unethical if Indonesia held a luxury event amid disasters.
Fuad said the tradition of the IMF-WB annual meeting was truly simple, but Prabowo coalition considered the government over highlighted its promotion. He believed international people would understand should the meeting postponed and the budget diverted for disaster mitigation.
Jakarta Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) advisory board deputy chairperson and younger brother of Gerindra chairperson Prabowo Subianto, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, claims that he doesn't have any problems with the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
Djojohadikusumo says he is open to accepting support for his older brother in the 2019 presidential election from the group led by Rizieq Shihab.
"I'll accept anyone who wants to support Prabowo", Djojohadikusumo said during a discussion with CNN Indonesia at the Detik.com editorial office on Thursday October 4.
"It appears that the FPI also doesn't have a problem with me. Just ask the FPI leadership, is there a problem with Hasyim or not? There isn't. Clearly they support Prabowo right", he added.
The statement by the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno National Campaign Team Communications and Media Director was in response to a 2014 video in which he criticises the FPI and has recently gone viral on the internet.
In the 2014 video, he says that Prabowo and his party do not want the FPI to become part of the Red-and-White Coalition [the coalition of political parties that supported Prabowo's failed 2014 presidential bid].
In the video, which was taken during an event at the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club, he says that the FPI is an intolerant group and Prabowo is not an extremist.
"I support [Prabowo being supported by the FPI]. Yes that video can be replayed until doomsday but it's not a problem. That was in 2014, that's politics right. I just want to win, perhaps I want to win even more than Prabowo", he said.
Not just the FPI, Djojohadikusumo even said he would accept Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairperson Megawati Sukarnoputri if she would again support Prabowo.
"Before Ibu [Mrs] Mega supported Prabowo [when he was her vice presidential running mate in the 2004 presidential election], if today Ibu Mega wants to support Prabowo or tomorrow wants to support Prabowo I'll accept that too. Why not?", he said.
Aside from Megawati, Djojohadikusumo also cited the time when President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo abandoned Prabowo, who had supported and promoted him in the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election. According to Djojohadikusumo, despite Widodo's behaviour, they would still accept the former Solo Mayor if he wants to support Prabowo.
"If Pak [Mr] Jokowi wants to support Prabowo, we will also support him. Before we supported him right. Ibu [mother, presumably referring to Megawati] knows what happened? We were abandoned", continued the youngest of Prabowo's siblings.
Djojohadikusumo doesn't only support all of Gerindra's important positions, he is also one of Prabowo principle financial backers. In the 2019 presidential election, Djojohadikusumo claims he will again sponsor Prabowo.
Djojohadikusumo himself is a business tycoon who has interests in investment banking, pulp and paper, plantations, oil and gas. In 2010, he was cited by Forbes Asia as one of the richest men in Indonesia. (kst/DAL)
Jakarta The Jakarta Council (DPRD) has announced the resignation of five members planning to run for different political parties in the 2019 legislative elections. The resignations were announced at a plenary meeting on Friday.
The City Council's deputy speaker, Triwisaksana, said the resignations were in line with rules imposed by the General Elections Commission (KPU). "In accordance with the KPU regulation, they must resign and will soon be replaced by others," he said, as quoted by kompas.com.
Lulung Abraham Lunggana, who was a councilor in the United Development Party (PPP) faction serving his second term until 2019, resigned on July 30, since he has been nominated by the National Mandate Party (PAN) for a seat in the upcoming election to the House of Representatives.
Another former PPP council member, Riano P. Ahmad, is running for another term in the council with the support of his new party, PAN.
Two council members that used to represent the Hanura Party, Wahyu Dewanto and Jamaluddin Lamanda, resigned to run for City Council seats on behalf of the Gerindra Party and the National Awakening Party (PKB).
Meanwhile, Inggard Joshua has turned his back on the NasDem Party to run on a Gerindra ticket for another term in the city council.
Triwisaksana said the five members who have resigned would be replaced by the legislative candidates securing the second-most votes in the 2014 election.
He added that the City Council would send a letter to the KPU Jakarta to obtain the names of their replacements. (sau)
Jakarta As part of an effort to maintain media neutrality in anticipation of next year's presidential and legislative elections, the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) has organized a joint media supervisory team comprising several divisions.
KPI deputy chairman Sujarwanto Rahmat M. Arifin said the commission would cooperate with the General Elections Commission (KPU), the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the Press Council to watch over media neutrality during campaign season.
"We have inked an agreement to organize a joint supervisory team. The team will hold regular meetings to discuss decisions," Sujarwanto said on Monday, as quoted by tempo.co.
In accordance with the agreement between the KPI, the KPU, Bawaslu and the Press Council, the Joint Supervisory Board for News, Broadcast and 2019 Election Advertisements is tasked with monitoring news and other types of media products including political ads through coordination with media companies.
The supervisory team comprises several divisions, with each focusing on media companies, broadcasting companies, national press, broadcast or publication time, political TV spots and other forms of political ads.
Regarding political ads for the ongoing campaign season leading up to next year's elections, the agreement has stipulated that each candidate is only allowed a total of 10 TV spots, each with a maximum duration of 30 seconds for every TV station every day. Furthermore, candidates are advised against publishing advertorials.
Violations of the rule will result in a verbal warning and a ban on the ads, depending on the decision of the supervisory team.
Media moguls have entered the political scene during this campaign season. Among them are Metro TV owner Surya Paloh, MNC Group owner Hary Tanoesoedibjo and Mahaka Group owner Erick Thohir all whom support incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. (rfa)
Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, Jakarta The anti-government activist who lied about being assaulted to cover up a cosmetic operation was detained by Jakarta police on Friday night (Oct 5) and will be held for the next 20 days.
Ms Ratna Sarumpaet is at the centre of a bizarre saga that has swept up prominent members of the opposition camp, including presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto.
She was a member of the campaign team for Mr Prabowo, President Joko Widodo's rival in the April 2019 election, until she resigned on Wednesday over her lie.
Police spokesman Argo Yuwono told reporters Ms Ratna is being held "so she will not run away or get rid of evidence".
Ms Ratna is suspected of spreading fake news that could cause unrest, an offence under the Criminal Code. She is also suspected of spreading lies and hate speech in violation of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law. She could be jailed for 10 years if found guilty, added Mr Argo.
Ms Ratna was arrested on Thursday night as she tried to leave the country. The 69-year-old said she was not fleeing the country to avoid prosecution, but was headed to Chile to attend a conference.
Ms Ratna grabbed headlines when photos of her bruised face went viral on Tuesday. She said she had been attacked by three men in Bandung, West Java on Sept 24.
But just a day later, after police revealed they had evidence that she has been in an aesthetic hospital in Jakarta at the time of her supposed attack, she confessed she had lied.
The bruises on her face, she said in a tearful press conference, were the side effects of a cosmetic procedure, and she had in fact been in a Jakarta hospital from Sept 21 to Sept 24.
Investigators had said they also found that Ms Ratna paid for the treatment from a bank account used to collect funds for victims of the June 18 Lake Toba ferry tragedy, in which over 150 people were missing and presumed dead.
But they stressed they have not yet confirmed whether she had dipped into the donations to fund her procedure. Ms Ratna on Friday denied misusing donated funds, telling reporters repeatedly: "No."
Prominent political figures have been caught up in the saga. Members of the opposition camp taken in by her lies have denounced her actions, with Mr Prabowo who rallied behind her on Tuesday apologising two days later for "for amplifying something we were convinced was true".
Ms Ratna resigned from his campaign team on Wednesday as he requested. On Friday, Mr Prabowo's running mate, Mr Sandiaga Uno, said that two of them stood ready to provide statements to the police about the hoax if needed.
Jakarta Governer Anies Baswedan, meanwhile, defended the provincial government's sponsorship of Ms Ratna's trip to Chile.
The Jakarta Culture and Tourism Agency said on Friday that she had been slated to attend the 11th Women Playwrights International Conference, for which she is a senior adviser, adding that Ms Ratna, a former actress, had asked for sponsorship in January.
Mr Anies told reporters the request was processed in February and "everything has been done since a long time ago".
"We provided this support because she was once chairman of the (Jakarta) Arts Council. So this is a normal process which happens with many artists in Jakarta," he said on Friday.
Ms Ratna a staunch critic of President Joko has had a long history of courting controversy in both domestic politics and the local performing arts scene. She has taken to social media with sensational statements that were later proved wrong.
Last year, she posted on Twitter that the government had sold state air craft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia to China. She later apologised when the company denied her accusation.
Earlier this year, she claimed that the government had issued a 200,000 rupiah note posting on Twitter a fake picture that had been making the rounds on WhatsApp because of the weakening rupiah. Bank Indonesia, responding to Twitter users sharing her post, said it was a hoax.
Jakarta The Gerinda Party remains optimistic that the recent fake news scandal involving opposition activist Ratna Sarumpaet a former member of presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto's campaign team will not harm the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno ticket's electability.
Pictures purportedly featuring swollen eyes and bruising to Ratna's face spread on social media on Tuesday. Some of her colleagues made statements about an alleged assault and expressed concerns, only strengthening the narrative. Later that night, Prabowo issued a public statement, condemning what he thought was an assault against one of his campaigners
A day later, however, Ratna admitted to having lied, saying that her face was swollen as a result of liposuction. Prabowo later made a public apology for failing to cross-check Ratna's accounts before making the previous statement.
"I believe the Ratna Sarumpaet scandal will not affect [Prabowo-Sandiaga's] electability. The presidential and vice-presidential candidates' track records speak for their credibility," said head of the Gerindra executive board Ahmad Riza Patria on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com.
He went on to say that the fake news scandal would serve as an important lesson to the party and the nation about the nature of Prabowo.
"The fake news case taught us that Pak Probowo is a kind and forgiving man, unlike certain people out there who constantly lie to the public and never apologize for their actions," Ahmad Riza said.
He has reported the case involving Ratna to the police, saying he trusted the authorities to deal with Ratna fairly.
Ratna was arrested on Thursday evening at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, as she was about to depart for Santiago, Chile, to attend the 11th International Women Playwright's Conference on Oct. 7. (rfa/swd)
Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta Vice presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno said he was ready to provide a statement to the police regarding the case of spreading hoax that ensnared the activist Ratna Sarumpaet if necessary. He explained his readiness was part of his and presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's commitment as the citizen.
"I and Pak Prabowo, as citizens who obey the law, will surely follow any legal decision. So, if I am asked for clarification, I'll be ready," said Sandiaga Uno in Bulungan Sports Center, South Jakarta, Friday, October 5.
Sandiaga and Prabowo were reported in the case of spreading hoax on the assault against Ratna Sarumpaet.
The former Jakarta deputy governor explained his and Prabowo's legal team was currently drafting the argument should the police summoned them for testimony. "The legal team has discussed [the matter] and will deliver their legal statement to us," Sandiaga added.
Sandiaga asserted he and Prabowo along with other people who participated in spreading the issue were the victims. They believed on what Ratna told them because of her consistent story.
Other than Sandiaga and Prabowo, dozens of people had been reported, including Fadli Zon, Rizal Ramli, Rachel Maryam, Amien Rais, Hanum Rais, and Mardani Ali Sera.
Today, October 5, the police summoned Amien Rais and Hanum Rais. The father-daughter would be questioned for their involvement in spreading the news that Ratna Sarumpaet were beaten and assaulted.
When asked about the investigation on Amien and Hanum Rais, Sandiaga remained tight-lipped. "I give the police wide room to conduct examination and investigation, disclose, and complete this case," he concluded.
Vindry Florentin, Jakarta The Jakarta administration has admitted to sponsoring Ratna Sarumpaet's trip to the 2018 "The 11th Women Playwrights International Conference" event in Santiago, Chile. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said the funds had been prepared a long time ago.
"The proposal and the request were made and processed in February. Everything has been done since a long time ago," Anies said after attending the 73rd National Armed Forces (TNI) Anniversary at the TNI Headquarters in Cilangkap, Jakarta, Friday, October 5.
According to Anies, the Jakarta administration has always supported artists so they can seize the limelight at international events. Ratna Sarumpaet was once the chairman of the Jakarta Arts Council.
"So this is a normal process, which happens to many artists in Jakarta, because this time there is a ban, so it is being discussed, the rest is no difference," said Anies.
Anies said the Jakarta administration also paid for ethnomusicologist Frengky Raden's trip to South Korea. "We provide 100 percent of the funds," he said.
A few months ago, the Jakarta administration sent hundreds of children to Broadway, the United States,for theatrical training. The children were also sent to Kazakhstan.
Jakarta Following a scandal in which she lied to the public about undergoing cosmetic surgery, political activist Ratna Sarumpaet was arrested on Thursday evening at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten.
The former member of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's campaign team was arrested prior to departing for Chile, where she planned to attend a conference.
The Jakarta Police said Ratna, who earlier claimed she had been assaulted to explain a photo showing her with a swollen face, had been named a suspect for allegedly spreading fake news.
The police's violent crimes unit head, Adj. Sr. Comr. Jerry Siagian, said Ratna had initially been named a witness in the case but refused to come in for questioning. Her status was then upgraded to that of a suspect after police learned of her travel plans.
"We summoned her as a witness on Monday. She should have informed us if she planned on going somewhere. Not just leave," said Jerry as quoted by kompas.com.
She stands accused of violating Article 28 of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law. Earlier this week, a photo of Ratna in which she appeared to have a swollen under eye circulated on social media.
Ratna later claimed to have been assaulted by unknown people at Husein Sastranegara International Airport in Bandung, West Java, prompting a frenzy in the Prabowo camp, which referred to the matter as a human rights violation.
Police claimed that Ratna's facial condition was the result of liposuction, forcing her to retract her claims.
Kartika Anggraeni and Chitra Paramaesti, Jakarta The government stated it had a strong reason to conclude that the photo recently circulated in the public related to humanitarian acts committed by the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) was a hoax considering its caption did not represent the reality.
Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, the Director General of Applications and Informatics at the Communication and Informatics Ministry, said the photo caption noted "quick response of FPI volunteers in evacuating victims of Palu 7.7-magnitude earthquake". While in fact, the photo displayed FPI volunteers who helped in handling landslide victims in Tegal Panjang, Sukabumi in 2015.
"The people who write the caption is wrong. So here we clarify it," said Semuel in his office, Wednesday, October 3.
The ministry's public relations acting head Ferdinandus Setu seconded the statement. However, he explained the hoax did not pinpoint the FPI humanitarian acts in Central Sulawesi. "The hoax issue is the photo; not that the FPI does not conduct humanitarian act in Palu," he underlined.
Ferdinandus explained the ministry found the photo following public complaints and analyzed it using the crawling system. "The crawling system shows that the photo is spread in 2015 in Sukabumi," he remarked.
Earlier, FPI spokesperson Slamet Ma'arif refuted the accusation delivered by the ministry that FPI volunteers who helped the quake victims in Palu, Central Sulawesi was hoax news.
"The fact in the field and the evidence are real. FPI has presented in the disaster-hit region Palu since the beginning under the leadership of FPI Palu head Ustad Sugianto," he told Tempo Tuesday, October 2.
Slamet said FPI volunteers in Palu had helped the quake victims by coordinating with FPI regional Palu head Sugianto. The FPI from other regions, he added, had even prepared its volunteers to be mobilized to Palu and Donggala.
Ryan Dwiky Anggriawan, Jakarta Deputy of the National Campaign Team of Jokowi and Ma'ruf Amin, Johnny G. Plate, stated that the hoax made by Ratna Sarumpaet was an old-fashioned politics.
"Victimization (pretending to be victims) politics is an old-fashioned politics that is counter-productive and not worthy of being displayed in the public," Johnny said at a press conference at Cemara post, Jakarta, Wednesday, October 3.
Johnny said the hoax made by Ratna had a direct impact on the 2019 presidential election because Ratna complained to the presidential candidate number 02, Prabowo Subianto.
"The political ways through victimization and dissemination of hoax undermine the quality of our democracy and also lower the dignity of the nation and state," Johnny said.
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta Presidential contender Prabowo Subianto has apologized for amplifying a false claim made by his campaign team member, Ratna Sarumpaet, that she had been a victim of assault.
Ratna claimed on Tuesday that she had been assaulted by three men in Bandung, West Java, last month, after a photo showing her with a swollen face circulated on social media. A day later, Ratna admitted to having lied, saying that her face was swollen as a result of liposuction.
"Personally, and in my capacity as the leader of the [campaign] team, I apologize to the public for saying something that had not been confirmed yet," Prabowo told reporters after Ratna's confession.
"I apologize for being too hasty. We are a new team and are still learning. But there is no excuse. If we are wrong then we admit that we are, and we apologize for it," he said.
The former general said Ratna had resigned from the team and he would not interfere with any legal action taken against her.
"We won't tolerate hoaxes. If one of our team members spreads hoaxes or lies, we'll firmly take actions against them. And we'll even report it to law enforcers," Prabowo said.
Ratna's claims turned political after presidential contender Prabowo Subianto met her and denounced the "assault" against her, saying that he would speak to National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian about the "human rights abuse."
Ratna has apologized to Prabowo and the public for her deception, particularly to National Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais, "who had been patient listening to me lying yesterday."
The police had indicated that Ratna could be charged with spreading lies and hate speech as stipulated under the Electronic Information and Transactions Law, but it remained unclear if she would be prosecuted.
Friski Riana, Jakarta The Indonesian Communication and Informatics Ministry found several misleading contents that followed the Donggala earthquake and tsunami-stricken Palu in Central Sulawesi after the ministry strictly monitored the internet, social media, and online forums.
Based on their findings, six issues that have emerged were known to be falsified information or hoax.
1. A crack formed along the Bili-Bili Dam
The ministry said that facts state that the dam in question is currently under control and in safe conditions after the Mamuju Gowa Police Sector inspected the structure.
2. Photo of dead bodies lying around
The ministry concludes that the image is actually a photo from 2004 after Aceh was struck by a devastating tsunami. This image was redistributed through the internet following the tsunami that hit Palu.
3. Palu Mayor Hidayat dead
The Mayor was not exempt from being a victim of a hoax after information spread across the internet suggesting that the mayor had died. Which is contrast to the fact that the mayor is still well-alive and personally participating in the Central Sulawesi mitigation.
4. Announcement of aftershocks
False information that spread among the public suggests that an aftershock would strike the region again on October 2 despite the fact that no single country in the world posses the technology to certainly predict when an earthquake would strike.
5. Image of FPI member assisting victims
The image of an Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) member participating in the evacuation of Palu's mitigation is actually from another event, specifically the landslide that happened in Sukabumi.
6. Free flights from Makassar to Palu
False information claimed that military air support would provide free flights for families of the victims in Palu. Facts show that the Air Force's Hercules plane that is dispatched to Palu is mainly tasked to carry logistics, paramedics, medicines, readily edible food, and heavy evacuation equipment for areas in Palu and Donggala.
Ratna Sarumpaet, an outspoken critic of President Joko Widodo's government who is now a senior member of the presidential campaign team of Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto for next April's election, will likely lose face over what appears to be a lie meant to earn her sympathy.
On Monday, Ratna, who was once questioned by the police for treason over an alleged attempt by anti-government political figures to overthrow Jokowi in 2016, made headlines around the country recently after a photo showing her bruised face went viral online.
According to her account, as relayed by fellow Prabowo campaigners, she was assaulted by three unidentified assailants at Husein Sastranegara Airport in Bandung, where she was attending an international conference on September 21. She claimed that she did not report the assault to the police out of fear for the safety of her family.
On Tuesday, she met with Prabowo himself to tell him about the assault, after which Prabowo and senior opposition politicians publicly condemned the "cowardly" attack.
"This is a repressive act, a clear violation of human rights... to do this to a lady who is already 70, it's outrageous," Prabowo said during the press conference.
Unfortunately for Ratna and Prabowo's campaign, some quick detective work by the Jakarta Metro Police and West Java Police showed there was no assault at all.
In a police report that has circulated among Indonesian journalists and received by Coconuts, which has been confirmed by the Jakarta Metro Police this morning, investigators found that there was no international conference in Bandung on the day of her supposed assault.
There was also no record of Ratna's arrival at Husein Sastranegara Airport that day either, nor was there any record of her checking in at the hospital where she claimed she was treated.
In fact, the police found that Ratna's phone data records showed that she was in Jakarta from Sept. 20-24. Her financial transactions showed that she had three plastic surgery procedures done on the 20th, 21st, and the 24th in Jakarta. The police confirmed that Ratna did check in at the plastic surgery clinic on those days, as evidenced by CCTV footage of her entering and exiting the establishment.
In the report, the police say they may charge those suspected of spreading the lie with causing public disorder with misinformation, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or violating the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), which is punishable by up to six years in prison.
After the spread of the police report, Prabowo's campaign team seems to be distancing themselves from any culpability in the alleged victimization farce.
"The person who can explain this is Bu Ratna, which is why from the beginning we asked Bu Ratna to tell her story to the public, not to be scared," Prabowo campaigner Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak told Detik today.
Ratna herself has not released any statements regarding this latest update.
Prabowo, along with his running mate former Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno, are going head to head against President Jokowi and his running mate Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Chairman Ma'ruf Amin in next April's presidential election. The latest survey showed that Jokowi and Ma'ruf hold a huge lead over their rivals.
Yulia Savitri, Palembang Rain poured down on Palembang, South Sumatra, on Sunday afternoon, clearing the view in a city that had been blanketed by smoke from forest fires for the past few days.
"We are expecting medium to heavy rain," said Bambang Benny Setiaji, an official from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency's (BMKG) local office.
The haze had covered the city since last week, nearly obscuring Ampera Bridge on Friday morning as visibility narrowed to less than 2 kilometers.
BMKG Palembang spokesperson Nandang Pangariwibowo said visibility in the city that day was between 1 and 2 km, with air quality categorized as unhealthy.
"We call on the people to put on masks in such conditions, even though the haze appears from night to morning," Nandang said.
According to the head of the South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency's (BPBD South Sumatra) emergency mitigation division, Ansori, the number of hot spots has been increasing for the last three days as a result of drying water sources.
Authorities have discovered hot spots in four regencies outside Palembang, namely Ogan Ilir, Ogan Komering Ilir, Banyuasin and Musi Banyuasin.
In Ogan Ilir, haze reduced visibility on the Palembang-Inderalaya toll road, hampering intercity road transportation. "This is accumulated haze carried away by the wind to Palembang," Ansori said.
He added that fires in the three regencies could be found across 77,000 hectares of land, with the greatest number of hot spots found in Ogan Komering Ilir.
David Lipson, Palu For tens of thousands of Indonesia's earthquake and tsunami survivors, home for the next few months, if not years, will be one of the many camps springing up all over the region.
Those who lived through the disaster have made their way to camps like one at Palu's airport, and even those on other islands to which many survivors have been evacuated.
In the worst-affected areas, the destruction is so complete that the true death toll will likely never be known. So far, more than 1,500 people are confirmed dead and 65,000 homes have been damaged and destroyed.
Indonesian officials have not even tried to guess the number of missing people. But even after the official week of searching for survivors ended, some emergency workers have refused to give up.
A French search and rescue team is investigating reports of a knocking sound from a cavity under a collapsed home. The area measures about five metres by five metres by five metres.
It's a long shot, but their high-tech gear has detected a possible sign of life and they want to investigate. "It could be movement," says one of the workers, making a heartbeat motion.
At first there is resistance from officials, but eventually permission is granted to keep looking until six o'clock. The search goes well into the night but once again they find no-one alive.
The Australian Government has announced an additional $4.5 million in aid to assist Indonesia, bringing Australia's total assistance to more than $10 million.
Aid agencies are now operating at full capacity and a team of Red Cross workers searching Palu's suburbs for those in need of medical care has been at it non-stop for nine days. It does not take long to find the injured.
One woman has a fractured arm and has been waiting until now for help. Another, older woman under a tarpaulin is in worse shape and needs a stretcher. She is bundled up and carried to the ambulance.
They both end up at a makeshift clinic that was set up minutes earlier and already people are flocking in for medical attention. "I've taken my brother here to have a check. He has a cough and was hit by a brick during the quake," said Nurul Mazida, holding a baby.
One by one the sick and wounded are either taken for further medical care or patched up and sent on their way.
Hasbi was injured when the tsunami hit. "I was wounded by the rising ocean. I went into my house, when it suddenly filled with water. My cupboard fell and blocked the door, I couldn't get out," he said.
Medical worker Abdi Rahmadi, who went to work minutes after the quake hit, had no contact with his family for the first three days and did not know they had survived. But he worked on regardless, helping others in urgent need.
"The situation was pretty scary. People kept asking for help. Hundreds of people," he said. "This is a calling. I wanted to help other victims who got hit by the earthquake."
Even in the areas untouched by the disaster, there are problems, with most commerce in Palu remaining at a standstill and garbage piling up on the streets in some areas. The stench is unbearable and the threat of an outbreak of disease is ever present.
Still, there is a faint heartbeat returning to the city and some of the surrounding areas. At the market, the price of most goods has tripled.
But fishmonger Safruedin is offering fish at a quarter of the normal price. "Because if I don't sell it, I will feel sorry for the people who have nothing," he said.
Armed soldiers are now everywhere in a city that came very close to a complete collapse of social order. Looting and robberies are under control now that tension over the next meal or drink of water has eased.
Roads are improving, petrol queues are shorter, electricity is returning and telecommunications are better. It's a long way from normal, but it's a start.
James Massola & Amilia Rosa He was in a car in Balaroa, a suburb on the outskirts of Palu, driving his mum and aunt home from the family's shop, when the magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit a week ago.
"The earth started shaking violently. I knew straight away this one wasn't normal. I'm used to earthquakes, all of us are used to earthquakes," he says.
"I knew for certain I needed to drive fast. All of a sudden, I saw a crack in the road in front of me. It was still very small, it was like 30 centimetres high. I went over it and the road split apart. And my car was stuck over it. I couldn't accelerate anymore.
"We got out, my mum was holding me and we started running towards the mosque. The whole ground was shaking like a wave; it wasn't like a normal earthquake."
As they entered the carpark of the local mosque, Ray says, part of the ground started to swell up and then sank. His mum's leg became trapped under a pile of soil as the earth moved around them.
"My mum was giving up, she said it was impossible. But I said 'come on mum' and grabbed her."
The pair, and Ray's aunt who was injured and couldn't walk properly climbed up onto the roof of the mosque and spent the night there.
The 28-year-old Palu native, who did his university degree in Melbourne and speaks with a hint of an Aussie accent, says a local man they didn't know climbed up and helped them down from the roof the next day.
He spoke to Fairfax Media on Thursday, at Palu's broken airport. Like hundreds of others, Ray and his extended family were trying to leave Palu in their case, to stay with family in Surabaya and had been waiting more than 24 hours for booked flights that kept being pushed back.
The moment the quake struck and the night on the mosque, and much of what has come afterwards for residents of Indonesia's central Sulawesi province was terrifying.
For the Pratama family, it was time to go. When the very ground beneath your feet isn't stable, and when the calm beachfront you've walked along all of your life turns on you in a rage and sweeps away hundreds of people and houses, what can you rely on?
This is the reality that has confronted the hundreds of thousands of residents of Palu, Donggala, Sigi and neighbouring villages since the earthquake and tsunami struck around 6pm on Friday, September 28.
The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami stood at 1424 people after the latest official update, late on Thursday.
But most of those victims were in Palu city. It's very likely that the bodies of hundreds perhaps thousands of victims will never be recovered as they have simply been buried under too much rubble and mud in suburbs such as Balaroa and Petobo, or swept away on the beach in places such as Talise.
In addition, the body count in places such as Donggala and Sigi has barely begun because these areas have been harder to get to for rescue workers. Broken roads, mudslides and the loss of communications networks have all contributed to delays.
It's likely more lives were lost because help simply couldn't reach these smaller towns and suburbs in a timely fashion, so the search for survivors was delayed.
Fairfax Media spent five days in the Palu disaster zone in the immediate aftermath of the quake and tsunami.
We joined rescue teams who were exhuming corpses from the few remaining houses not swept away at Talise beach, visited villages such as Petobo that had been part-swallowed, part-swept away by liquefaction a process that occurs when the ground turns to liquid in an earthquake met family after family in Balaroa who had had their houses shaken apart, and slept under the stars with thousands of refugees who had lost everything.
It will take years for this part of central Sulawesi, home to 2.4 million people who live on the Palu-Koro fault line, to recover from the earthquake, hundreds of aftershocks and tsunami that rose as high as six metres in some places.
In Balaroa, for example, somewhere between 500 and 1700 homes were lost because of the quake and liquefaction, while in Petobo the figure is said to be over 700 homes gone.
The Indonesian Red Cross said on Wednesday that just 14 bodies had been recovered in Petobo. It will be almost impossible to find the remains of all those who have died.
On Thursday, Fairfax Media travelled to Donggala, one of the towns closest to the epicentre of the quake and which was therefore hardest hit by it and the tsunami.
Much like Talise beach, ground zero when the tsunami struck Palu, the beachfront had been wiped out, with house after house swept away.
On the road to Donggala, at Mamboro beach, 10-year-old Suci Rahmadi spoke about the moment the tsunami struck, as she picked through the rubble of her home, searching for food.
"We were at home when the earthquake happened, me, my mum and dad and my siblings, all six of us. All our stuff fell to the ground, then we all ran outside. Then we heard a grumbling sound and we saw it, it was a black wave, it was so big, I have never seen a wave that big, we all ran to safety. To the higher ground, I don't know where, just up," she recalls.
"Our home used to be just there [she points to a spot metres from the beachfront], now it's all gone, the sea took it."
Her father, a few metres away, was helping search and rescue teams look for dead bodies.
She hadn't eaten that day, but smiled as she shows off a big cooking point she has found in the rubble, which had belonged to the family's neighbours.
"I found Tupperware, I found a pencil case, a small pot, a plastic container.
I am here with my dad, he is there [she points to a search rescue team with heavy machinery], he is with the police, looking for dead bodies.
"My friend Tita, my friend from school she lives not far from us, the waves took her, but she's fine, she is alive. I am glad."
Donggala itself, where authorities are still struggling to get a clear picture of the destruction, is a disaster zone.
Seventeen-year-old Adam was sitting by the side of the road, collecting donations from passing motorists, when he spoke to Fairfax Media.
He was in west Palu, where he goes to school, when the earthquake hit but his mother Nanik and young sisters Yuniar, 14, and Naira, 18 months, were at home.
"I met up with my dad [who works in Palu] that Friday night then we drove in a car to get to them. At first we weren't worried too much. Our family home in west Palu was ok. So we thought our home would be ok too," he says.
"Then we saw there was a tsunami, our home is just by the beach. We got scared, we were very scared about my mum and sisters. When we arrived, it was dark, we couldn't find anything, we couldn't see anything. Our home was gone.
"In the morning, when there was light, we continued searching. We found [the bodies of] my mum and Yuniar, but my baby sister, Naira, she's still missing. I buried them myself on Saturday, with the help of the people in the village."
While some locals like Adam have managed to find the bodies of their loved ones, many have not. There are too many corpses, too many missing, too many families broken apart for even this small dignity to be afforded to every family in the region.
Authorities began digging a mass grave early in the week to bury some of those who died. The local hospital which was damaged and dealing with hundreds of injuries simply didn't have the space to store all the corpses, nor did it have electricity for a couple of days.
But where to bury the dead is just one of many, many problems facing the locals and Indonesian authorities.
The earthquake and tsunami knocked out the supply of basic services such as power, water and mobile phone networks.
Panicked residents began looting shops for food and water, to gather vital supplies as the government struggled to get basic aid into the region a task slowed down by the badly damaged airport.
Indonesian authorities said that people should only take the food and water they needed, and that shops would be compensated later.
At makeshift refugee camps outside the Mayor's office and the Governor's residence, hundreds of people slept outside night after night. Makeshift food vans struggled to keep up with the demand for paltry meals of white rice and cabbage that were being handed out.
A minority of people went further than just taking food and water, breaking into stores and taking for electronics, farming equipment, tires, motor oil and all manner of other goods.
By the end of the week, police said 92 people had been arrested for looting.
Petrol, another vital commodity, was also in short supply as shipments stopped coming in for days.
Huge crowds of people queued to secure five-litre allocations, and Fairfax Media witnessed fights break out at unguarded petrol stations as crowds sucked fuel directly out of underground storage tanks.
All told, 4413 buildings were said to have collapsed in Palu, and 773 more in the neighbouring town of Donggala. Like the death, injured and missing tolls, that number is sure to rise.
By late in the week, aid had become to arrive in greater volume and, after dithering for days, the Indonesian government put its pride aside and agreed to international assistance being flown in unlike after the Lombok earthquake eight weeks ago.
Australia was one of 26 nations that offered assistance after the quake, but the first delivery of urgent supplies clothing, bedding, food-making equipment, tarpaulins and tools for building shelters arrived on Thursday due to wrangling over visas and the Indonesian government's reluctance to accept outside help.
Heavy-lift Hercules aircraft from Malaysia, Singapore, England and India also began to bring in aid, and more will hopefully follow from other countries such as the United States, China and Japan.
Australian Red Cross spokesperson in Palu Antony Balmain says the tragedy is one of "the worst ever tsunami disasters in the Asia Pacific region", with "more catastrophic damage [discovered] every hour, with whole villages completely wiped off the map".
The agency, like so many other aid agencies, was scrambling to provide urgent healthcare to the more than 2500 people injured by the quake, as well as distributing water containers, hygiene kits and face masks to ward off the spread of disease.
On the ground, locals told Fairfax Media time and again they wanted their stories of terror and tragedy told to the world, so that more help would arrive.
In the wake of the chaos and destruction, one of the things that stood out repeatedly in Palu was the manner in which Indonesians would go above and beyond to help their neighbours, their friends, and even people they had never met.
But with more than 70,000 people now refugees in their own hometowns and villages, the aid can't come in quickly enough.
with Reuters, AP
Jakarta The National Police have arrested over 90 suspected looters in disaster-hit areas in Central Sulawesi following a strong earthquake and a killer tsunami that swept the region last week.
National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said the arrested suspects allegedly stole cash from ATM machines, as well as cellphones.
"The first report I received said the police arrested 49 [suspected looters]. And then the second report added 42 more. So, in total, the police arrested over 90 suspects," Setyo said on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com, adding that the suspects had been detained by the Central Sulawesi Police.
He went on to say that everyone who broke the law would receive punishment. In addition to the arrests, the police have also been conducting regular patrols in certain parts of the region to restore order and security.
Previously, Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo advised against looting, not even in the wake of a natural disaster, calling it a criminal act.
"There's no justification whatsoever for looting. Everyone's equally affected by the disaster; their shops destroyed, shopping malls devastated," Tjahjo said.
Prior to last week's statement, news spread on social media that the government had approved of survivors taking from convenience stores and that the losses would be covered by the government.
However, Tjahjo denied this, saying that what the government had approved of was the transfer of aid funds to the Central Sulawesi administration, to be used for food supplies for survivors. (rfa)
Hannah Ellis-Petersen International aid has finally started to arrive in disaster-hit Sulawesi as emergency teams cleared roads and restored power to parts of the island devastated by last week's earthquake.
But the official death toll of 1,558 is likely to rise much higher as hopes fade of finding survivors among the thousands of people feared buried under the mud that inundated the Indonesian island after last week's earthquake and tsunami.
The total death toll for the Palu city districts of Petobo and Jonooge, where more than 2,400 buildings were destroyed, has still not been calculated.
"We're not yet able to identify affected residents but based on reports we have received from the village heads in Balaroa and Petobo alone, we estimate that there may be more than 1,000 [victims unaccounted for]," said Sutopo Nugroho, spokesperson for the national disaster agency (BNPB).
"It's still difficult, because [the victims] are buried in mud nearly three metres deep."
Almost a week after the disaster, strong aftershocks continued to hamper rescue efforts on Friday. There have now been 422 aftershocks in the past week, including one 6.3 magnitude tremor.
The bodies of two paragliders one Indonesian and one South Korean were found in the ruins of the Roa Roa hotel in Palu, where screams for help had been heard over the past few days.
French rescuers also said they had been unable to locate any survivors in the rubble of Palu's Mercure hotel despite detecting a possible sign of life on Thursday.
The rescuers, using sniffer dogs and scanners, had detected what they believed was a person under mounds of rubble but when they resumed the hunt early on Friday, any sign of life had disappeared.
"Yesterday we had a heart beat and sign of breathing, there were no other movements so it means it was someone who was motionless, confined," said Philippe Besson, president of the International Emergency Firefighters. "Today we have no signal."
Electricity was restored to some areas of Palu on Thursday and the millions pledged in international aid started to arrive into the region. Hospitals and field clinics still continued to struggle to cope with the demand for medical care, with more than 2,500 people injured people being treated.
Limited commercial flights began leaving from Palu airport but not enough to meet the demand of the thousands who gathered at the airport.
Military transport aircraft from India and Singapore arrived to help in relief efforts in central Sulawesi on Thursday, with Malaysia, South Korea and the UK also sending in aircraft to help transport supplies and evacuees.
According to government calculations, the cost of damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami would reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars. "If we are to compare with what happened in Lombok, we have an estimate of more than 10 trillion rupiah [$658m]," said Sutopo.
He added that the area's vulnerability to natural disasters would be taken into account in the rebuilding of Palu and the surrounding cities.
Sutopo said: "When we reach the rehabilitation and reconstruction process, we have to guarantee that it will be better and safer, including reorganising the city layout by taking into account the possible effects of earthquakes."
Hannah Ellis-Petersen and agencies The humanitarian crisis in Sulawesi has continued to worsen as organisations struggle to bring the millions of dollars in international aid that has been pledged to the island devastated by last week's earthquake.
At least 1,424 people are so far reported to have died from the 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the Indonesian island on Friday. At least a further 2,500 have been injured and more than 100 are still missing.
More than 70,000 houses are damaged, leaving tens of thousands homeless and resorting to living in tents and shelters, with no clear idea when they will be able to begin rebuilding their homes. Makeshift shelters built from earthquake debris have sprung up across the island, while clean drinking water and food supplies remain scarce and people have been forced to queue for fuel for over 12 hours in some cases.
As the situation worsens by the day, survivors expressed hope that more government and international aid would be able to reach the area imminently.
However, despite millions of dollars in aid pledged by the UN and countries such as the US, China, Australia, UK and New Zealand, there have been delays in aid reaching the affected areas, due to difficulties transporting it into the area. Most roads were destroyed and the tiny airport in Palu was pushed to maximum capacity after being damaged in the quake.
As UK charities prepared to launch a campaign for help on Thursday, Ida Dewa Agung Hadisaputra, a senior military official overseeing logistics in the area, insisted some more help was arriving.
"Aid is coming in from different sources, such as local governments from across Sulawesi as well as state-owned enterprises," he said. The Red Cross said that it was sending three ships loaded with supplies, including field kitchens, tents, body bags and mosquito nets.
One Palu resident Andi Rusding, huddled with numerous family members under a tarpaulin, said they had received some aid but its distribution was uneven and they felt shortchanged.
"Please tell the government and the NGOs if they're really willing to help us with some foods please do not give it away through the command posts," he said. "It is better to go directly to each and every tent. Because sometimes [the relief goods] didn't distribute evenly."
The UN estimated that some 200,000 people need assistance, announcing a $15m allocation to bolster relief efforts.
Australia said it will send 50 medical professionals as part of a $3.9m aid package. The UK government pledged #1m ($1.3m) to support immediate relief efforts on the ground and said they were sending thousands of shelter kits, solar lanterns and water purifiers. The flight loaded with UK aid is due to leave Doncaster Sheffield airport early on Thursday morning.
Britain's Disasters Emergency Committee will launch an appeal for donations on Thursday. New Zealand has deployed military aircraft carrying emergency supplies to earthquake and tsunami-struck Indonesia as part of a $3.2m aid offer.
"The scale of the relief effort required following last week's earthquake and tsunami is becoming increasingly apparent, and there are many people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance," New Zealand foreign minister Winston Peters said on Thursday.
Ben Webster, head of emergencies at the British Red Cross said described the situation on the ground as "a gruelling, very emotional experience" for those involved in the rescue efforts.
"Each day that passes our hope of finding more people alive fades," said Webster. "I've heard stories of volunteers having to step over dead bodies to reach those in need of medical care."
Raymond Samuel Despite being embroiled in an economic crisis and even being depicted as a "failed state" by the Western media, Venezuela is still able to show empathy and solidarity with the victims of the earthquake in Central Sulawesi.
On Wednesday October 3 Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriques announced through his Twitter account that the Venezuelan government plans to send US$10 million to assist victims of the earthquake in Indonesia.
"President Nicolas Maduro has approved a donation of 10 million dollars US for our sisters and brothers in Indonesia for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami which has caused thousands of deaths and injuries", he wrote.
Venezuela itself was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale in August this year. It was the strongest earthquake since 1900 and was felt as far away as Venezuela's capital city Caracas.
Venezuela has consistently demonstrated a spirit of solidarity since the beginning of the Bolivarian revolution under the leadership of the late president Hugo Chavez. Venezuela has shown tremendous solidarity with other nations.
In 2005, Venezuela sent millions of gallons of fuel to poor households in the US who needed to heat their homes to confront the cold of winter.
When the US city of New Orleans was hit by cyclone Katrina, Chavez sent food and water. Not only that, the Chavez administration sent thousands of troops, firefighting equipment and volunteers to help the ordinary people there.
In 2017 when cyclone Harvey hit the US mainland, Venezuela also sent US$5 million in assistance.
And it is not just the US, Venezuela has also shown solidarity with Africa and Asia. Palestine, a country which is strangled by military aggression, often receives solidarity from Venezuela.
By comparison, according to the Sydney Morning Herald Australia has said it will send AUS$3.9 million while the UK government has pledged 1 million pounds (US$1.3 million) to support immediate relief efforts and New Zealand has pledged $AUS3.2 million in aid.
James Massola & Amilia Rosa, Balaroa, Sulawesi On the outskirts of Palu, in the suburb of Balaroa, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, the streets have been ripped apart.
House after house has been smashed, with surviving structures seemingly dotted at random among the rubble. The cracks in the roads vary in width from 10 centimetres to 2 metres, and appear again and again with an unerring consistency.
Families and neighbours huddle on their front porches together, avoiding the baking sun and commiserating over all they have lost. Here it was the earthquake, not the tsunami, that has done most of the damage.
Balaroa was one of the hardest hit places when the magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck on Friday. It's here, and in nearby Sigi, that scores of bodies remain unaccounted for.
Authorities acknowledge that the death toll, which stood at 1407 on Wednesday afternoon, will rise once rescue workers get into the more remote areas and begin the process of recovering bodies.
Five days after the big quake, locals tell Fairfax Media that food and water aid from the Indonesian government is yet to reach them, even though they are just 10 kilometres from central Palu.
"We are eating noodles, rice, and salt," Sangati, tells Fairfax Media. "We are rationing our food so it lasts. Some days we have one meal, some days we have two, depending on the supplies we have.
Sangati is sitting underneath a brown tarpaulin with a group of six other women, three men and two kids, avoiding the baking afternoon sun.
At night, she says, their group drawn from four houses on the street increases to about 30 people sleeping on a ground sheet, thrown over cracked concrete.
She points at her house across the street. When the earthquake struck, she says, the doors got jammed shut and they had to smash their way out the front windows.
"The moment it struck, the house didn't shake. It went up and down, like a thumping, like something was hammering the earth."
The group is drinking and washing in water that has run into one of the larger cracks that has opened up in the road in front of them. That crack, she says gesturing with her hand, was 10cm wide after big the quake hit.
It's now at least 30cm. "If someone dropped us water, we would drink it," she says with a wry smile. "But there is no point in begging."
Sangati wants Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's government, already struggling with the destruction wrought by the earthquake that hit Lombok nearly 8 weeks ago, to do more. "We believe Jokowi will deliver but we have to patient, he has a lot on his plate."
About 50 metres down the road, Tamrin, 64, tells Fairfax Media that "not even a glass of water has reached us".
"We will survive another day or two on what we have but that will be it. We need the government to do more. We are relying on the central government to give us assistance because the local government is also facing this disaster."
Tamrin's house has been completely destroyed. His son Bobi, 38, lives across the street. Bobi's house is still standing, but he dare not sleep inside in case another major earthquake hits. So the pair, along with 11 other family members, are sleeping outside.
It's a story repeated over and over again in Balaroa, and throughout the region.
Four hundred metres up the street, turn left, and a team of workers from Basarnas the national search and rescue agency watches on as huge earthmoving equipment tries to cut a path into a housing estate that has been smashed.
Roofs have been flung metres. Walls have collapsed on each other. There is rubble everywhere. It's difficult to tell where one house ends and the next one starts as if someone picked up the entire housing estate and dropped it into a blender.
Warto, one of the Basarnas workers, tell us that about 4000 people lived in this area.
"There were about 500 houses here. We think about 60 per cent of the people have been buried here, and about 40 per cent lived," he says. "Not a single house survived. Some sank five metres [when the quake hit], some were shifted sideways as much as 15 metres."
Once a path has been dug through into the housing estate, those who have lived will be brought in by the rescue workers to identify the remains of their houses and point to rooms their dead relatives might be buried in.
Warto says that so far they have found just one person alive in the wreckage and it took an entire day to get that survivor out. "Now we believe it will just be bodies."
James Massola & Karuni Rompies, Jakarta The confirmed death toll from an earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia's Sulawesi island has risen to 1407, the disaster mitigation agency said on Wednesday.
National Disaster Management spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the death toll had risen from 1234 on Tuesday, while the number of people injured had also risen to 2455, with 133 people missing.
He said 70,821 people were temporary refugees in 141 locations across Palu, Donggala, Sigi and the region, while 6399 rescuers were on the ground.
The urgent needs of those on the ground in Palu have not changed in the last few days access to fuel, food, clean drinking water and hospital care is still paramount.
"The focus of our job today is still evacuation [from the ruins] and searching for missing people. Repairs to infrastructure are also ongoing," Sutopo said, though he conceded that the needs of all the refugees were simply not being met.
On the ground in Palu, that admission is glaringly apparent. Fairfax Media visited the Palu suburb of Belaroa on Wednesday and locals said they had not received any water or food aid from authorities, five days after the earthquake struck.
A Basarnas (the national search and rescue agency) team was, however, on the ground with heavy machinery and trying to clear a path through to some of the worst hit houses.
Some 4413 building have been destroyed in Palu, while 733 houses have been destroyed in Donggala, according to satellite imagery.
While the offers of international help from both governments and NGOs continue to pour in 29 governments have now offered aid the Indonesian government is being very selective about what it accepts.
"According to the Health Ministry, we don't need foreign assistance of medical personnel and field hospitals. So we reject the offers made to send medical personnel and search and rescue people," Sutopo said.
Four nations had offered Hercules C-130 heavy lift aircraft to bring in supplies two from Singapore, two from South Korea, one from the UK and two from Japan.
Australia announced earlier on Wednesday it would send an extra $5 million in aid as well as well as temporary shelters, water and hygiene kits.
The country's military chief said soldiers and other forces have been deployed to Palu to guard key infrastructure, fuel depots and the airport and stop any attempts at looting.
Chief Air Marshall Hadi Tjahyanto said on Wednesday outside a collapsed hotel in the city that his forces were taking steps to ensure that security would be enforced.
He spoke as many of the city and region's residents scrambled to get food, water and other supplies with many resorting to taking things from shops and markets. The government had previously said it would reimburse shopkeepers for goods that residents were taking, given aid had not yet reached them.
"Military personnel have been deployed to fuel depots, ATMs, markets and the airport to ensure that economic activities are running. It will give the sense of security to the people so hopefully there will be no more looting," he said, adding that all supply convoys into the city will be escorted by armed soldiers.
Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo arrived in a hard-hit city to survey the damage on Wednesday. He was expected to tour various areas and visit a hospital.
He said foreign aid was starting to reach the area. Widodo said there's still a lot of work to be done, but he added that conditions are improving.
"Logistics are in and continue to spread, there are places that we haven't reached," he said. "I've instructed the governor to recommend the markets to be re-opened, we want to start reviving the economy."
with Reuters, AP
The Venezuelan government announced Wednesday that it'd be donating US$10 million from its "solidarity fund," Vice President of the country Delcy Rodriquez confirmed on her Twitter account.
Rodriquez said, "President Nicolas Maduro has approved the donation of US$10 million to our sisters from Indonesia, which will be pulled from the country's solidarity fund and used to attend to the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that caused thousands of deaths and injuries."
The death toll amassed 1,407 as of 4:30 a.m. local time, with the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management Sutopo Purwo claiming, "there'd be more fatalities." Currently, there are over 2,500 injuries while 114 people are still missing.
Tasha Wibawa Residents in the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged city of Palu have turned to looting due to a shortage of necessities such as food, water and petrol, local authorities have reported as the death toll from the disaster rose to more than 1,200.
Many have risked their safety to enter a badly damaged shopping mall in the devastated city, amid ongoing aftershocks taking anything they can get their hands on.
Police have already arrested 45 people after they targeted ATMs, warehouses and supermarkets, reported Indonesian media outlet Kompas.
Desperation on the ground continues to mount as aid is slow to reach the community four days after the disaster, which has so far killed 1,234 people, hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Looters have taken advantage of the chaotic situation on the ground, scrambling past crumbling barricades, flooded roads and broken glass to get their hands on food, medicine and petrol.
The Indonesian Government has allocated 560 billion rupiah ($37.58 million) for disaster recovery, however access to the worst-affected areas is still limited by heavily damaged roads, and large machinery needed to clear away rubble is yet to arrive.
Earlier this week, local media reported Internal Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo had allowed Palu residents to take goods from local supermarkets, saying the Government would reimburse the bill.
However, he since released a statement on Twitter, saying he had been widely misunderstood and that he was referring to compensation for businesses which had been looted, and was not encouraging people to start looting.
Police in the area had been attending cases of looting from malls and minimarkets, however they said many people had no choice.
"It's not looting, they're hungry," Police General Tito Karnavian told Detik News. "But the main issue is that they're in a panic because of the lack of logistics, food and petrol."
Indonesia's state-owned oil and gas corporation in Jakarta announced it was sending tanks with thousand of litres of petrol and gasoline crucial in keeping generators in local hospitals running due to unstable electricity in the region.
However, until the delivery arrives, residents needing petrol are faced with a choice between looting or waiting in queues hundreds of metres long.
UN Resident Coordinator in Indonesia Anita Nirody said there was an urgent need for food, clean water, shelter, medical care, and psychosocial support.
"Following the disaster, roads and bridges have been destroyed, communication lines are down, and landslides have left many areas inaccessible," she said in a statement.
"As a result, it has been difficult to get information about the situation on the ground out, and to get aid and people in."
Indonesia said it would accept offers of international aid, having shunned outside help earlier this year when an earthquake struck the island of Lombok. Australia has already pledged $695,000 through the Indonesian Red Cross to help quake victims.
Most of the casualties have been in Palu, the main city in the disaster zone, where rescuers are hunting for victims in the ruins. The quake triggered tsunami waves as high as six metres that smashed into the city's beachfront.
Nearly 60,000 people have been displaced and are in need of emergency help, while thousands have been streaming out of the stricken areas.
James Massola, Karuni Rompies & Amilia Rosa, Palu Indonesian rescue workers are now focused on retrieving dead bodies and digging mass graves following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in central Sulawesi, Indonesia, while the death toll has soared to at least 1234 people.
The jump in the official death toll from 844 on Monday is line with earlier warnings and it could still reach into the thousands as rescuers to push out from Palu and into harder to reach places like Donggala and Sigi.
And while the Indonesian government has agreed to accept international assistance following the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and six metre tsunami unlike after the Lombok earthquake this aid has been delayed as negotiations continue in Jakarta over what will be accepted.
National Disaster Management spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the dead were from Palu, Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong.
As of Tuesday afternoon, disaster agency estimated 99 people were missing, 799 were badly injured, 152 victims remained trapped under debris, there were 61,687 refugees created by the earthquake and tsunami and 65,733 houses had collapsed.
"Again, not all refugees' needs are being met. Fuel, clean water, sanitation, food and tents are still in short supply even though supplies keep coming," he said in Jakarta.
"We have buried 153 bodies yesterday in several cemeteries. Today we have prepared 15 trucks and 1000 body bags for mass burial purposes. But we don't know how many bodies will be buried."
Sutopo said any assistance from other countries should be self-supporting and that "we need Hercules C130 [aircraft] in this case" an aircraft the Australian air force operates.
Twenty-six countries have offered assistance, including Australia, the US, South Korea, China and Singapore, and once negotiations are finalised in Jakarta more significant aid will begin to flow.
Co-ordinating minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs Wiranto later said that Singapore and Malaysia would send two or three C-130 Hercules planes. He declined to give details on the aid that would come from other countries, including Australia.
He added that "we have fixed two main power generators and five others are still being fixed. More power generators are coming in but if we still need more power we can send the mobile power ship we hired from Turkey, which is currently in Kupang."
On the outskirts of Palu, lorries brought bodies for burial in a mass grave dug in sandy soil. Some relatives turned up at the 50-metre trench where the smell of decomposition was overpowering.
There is particular concern about Donggala, which is home to about 270,000 people north of Palu and which was closer to the epicentre.
Initial reports from Red Cross rescuers who had reached the outskirts of Donggala district were chilling. "The situation in the affected areas is nightmarish," Jan Gelfand from the Red Cross/Red Crescent Jakarta office said.
Sutopo said 6399 evacuation workers, from the military, police and volunteers, were in the disaster zone, while helicopters which were fighting fires in Kalimantan had been redeployed.
Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was due to visit the disaster zone for the second time in five days on Tuesday.
At a meeting at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday morning, Widodo said the clean up of Palu needed to be finished more quickly. He also asked his police chief to arrest people who were creating unrest in the devastated community.
After food and water, which authorities have been distributing to refugees in Palu, petrol is the most precious commodity.
There are long lines outside petrol stations all day and into the evening, and Fairfax Media has witnessed fights break out between people over their five-litre ration.
Sutopo said 10 more tankers carrying fuel had arrived in the city on Tuesday, while more had been flown in by air. "All vehicles bringing logistics are guarded by TNI [the military] and police... there were several incidents in previous days," Sutopo said.
Power is mostly still out in this city of 330,000 people, except for emergency services who have generators, and tens of thousands of people are sleeping outside either their homes, or outside government buildings including the offices of the mayor and local governor.
Nearly four days after the devastation of Friday night, the chances of finding anymore survivors trapped in the rubble of are growing slim.
Despite this, Agus Haryono, the head of a local rescue team, told Reuters he was still hopeful of pulling more people out alive from the seven-storey Hotel Roa Roa, which had collapsed.
About 50 people were believed to have been trapped when the hotel was brought down by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake.
Fairfax Media spent the morning with a team of 12 volunteers from the Indonesian island of Java who were combing the Talise beachfront, near the centre of Palu, for bodies.
In three hours they found two more bodies on the beachfront, which was ground zero when the tsunami swept through on Friday evening.
In the next four hours, according to team leader Yoni [just the one name], his team found three more dead bodies. They were not expecting to find any survivors.
Australia has promised $500,000 to help the victims in Palu, Sigi, Donggala and the surrounding region. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the initial funds would go to the Indonesian Red Cross for crucial items like tarpaulins but there was more to come to help with the "significant crisis".
"Australia has expertise and resources in particular areas where it can deploy, and we're looking to see how we can best fit the need to ensure that we can do whatever we can to support our Indonesian friends and neighbours in this time of very genuine need.
"Our ambassador has been working closely with the Indonesian government had to look at a second round of support," he said at a doorstop in Guildford, Western Australia on Tuesday.
Oxfam and its partner organisations are getting ready to help 500,000 people after the Indonesian Government announced more than 2 million people could be affected by the earthquakes and tsunami.
To donate, visit Red Cross Indonesia Earthquakes and Tsunami Appeal, Oxfam Australia, care.org.au/tsunami or call 1800 020 046
with Reuters, AP, Dana McCauley
Hannah Ellis-Petersen Anger and desperation are growing in parts of Sulawesi as residents faced a fourth day without food and drinking water after the Indonesian island was devastated by an earthquake and a tsunami.
On Tuesday the official death toll from the disaster rose to 1,234, according to disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. It is still expected to climb steeply in the coming days.
Signs propped along roads in Sulawesi read "We Need Food" and "We Need Support", while children begged for cash in the streets. Queues for fuel, which has almost run out in the area, were miles long and the national police and troops were deployed to guard petrol stations and food shops.
Around 50,000 people have been displaced by the twin disaster, with many still trying to escape the devastated region. Over 3,000 people flocked to Palu's airport on Monday, trying to board military aircraft or one of the few commercial flights leaving the airport, which has suffered severe damage.
Video footage showed crowds screaming in anger because they were not able to get on a military plane. "We have not eaten for three days," one woman yelled. "We just want to be safe."
Desperation exploded into anger in Donggala, the town closest to the epicentre of the massive earthquake and tsunami, with residents begging Indonesia's president to help them as hungry survivors crawled into stores and grabbed boxes of food.
"Pay attention to Donggala, Mr Jokowi. Pay attention to Donggala," yelled one resident in footage broadcast on local television, referring to president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. "There are still a lot of unattended villages here."
Most of the attention so far has focused on the biggest affected city, Palu. Donggala and other outlying areas have received little assistance largely due to impassable roads and many have been forced to take food from stores.
"Everyone is hungry and they want to eat after several days of not eating," said Donggala's administration head Kasman Lassa. "We have anticipated it by providing food, rice, but it was not enough. There are many people here. So, on this issue, we cannot pressure them to hold much longer."
On Monday, in Ulujadi district in western Palu, residents deprived of food and water blocked roads to intercept trucks carrying food supplies, with police officers reportedly unable to restrain the crowds. In Tawaeli district in central Palu, crowds gathered at the port to intercept government aid arriving on boats.
The process began on Monday of burying the bodies, which had begun piling up in the local army hospital, in a mass grave measuring 100m long. Photos were taken of the corpses before they were buried so they could be identified by relatives.
Sutopo admitted that search teams were still struggling to reach and evacuate the worst hit areas in Sulawesi. Many in Palu complained bitterly at the failure of rescue teams, overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis, to make it to their neighborhood in time.
A major problem is that the earthquake fractured and destroyed many of the roads, leaving some areas isolated and inaccessible. Heavy equipment needed for the rescue operations only began arriving on Monday.
Many people are also believed to still be trapped under shattered houses in Palu's Balaroa neighborhood, where the earthquake caused the ground to heave up and down violently "I and about 50 other people in Balaroa were able to save ourselves by riding on a mound of soil which was getting higher and higher," resident Siti Hajat told MetroTV, adding her house was destroyed.
President Joko Widodo urged survivors to be patient as they wait for aid to be distributed upon arriving in Palu.
Kharishar Kahfi and Arya Dipa, Jakarta/Bandung Four days after a 7.4-magnitude quake hit Central Sulawesi, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has stood by its decision to lift a tsunami warning soon after it was issued.
When the powerful earthquake jolted the provincial capital of Palu and its surroundings on Friday, the agency announced a tsunami warning for the western and central parts of Sulawesi at 5:07 p.m. Jakarta time, five minutes after the quake hit the island.
The BMKG, however, decided to retract the warning around 30 minutes later, after receiving a flurry of information, including a field observation report from a staff member of its office in Palu.
"The staff member reported that he had seen indications of tsunami waves at the harbor [of Palu] at around 6:27 p.m. local time, including a stranded boat. At that time, the height of the water at the harbor was around 30 centimeters," BMKG chairwoman Dwikorita Karnawati told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Sunday.
Hamzah Latief, a tsunami expert from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), questioned the BMKG's decision to lift the tsunami warning only minutes after the waves hit the shore on Friday.
Hamzah said Palu was prone to experiencing a tsunami in the event of a powerful earthquake. Based on his research on the Palu-Koro tectonic fault line in 2012, which included a simulation of a tsunami in Palu Bay, the city of Palu could be hit by tsunami waves measuring 1 to 2 meters in height.
In Hamzah's simulation, the first waves would hit the city 20 to 25 minutes after the quake. "It was too early for the warning to be withdrawn, because the tsunami struck Mamuju [in West Sulawesi] around 50 minutes after the quake happened [on the Palu-Koro fault line]," Hamzah said.
Dwikorita further defended the BMKG's decision by saying that the agency had analyzed widely shared mobile phone footage showing a tsunami hitting the coast of Palu. The footage purportedly shows a number of restaurants near Palu Grand Mall being swept away by a wave.
"Based on our analysis, three waves hit Palu's beach around dusk, with the third one and the highest sweeping away houses and kiosks. The waves hit the beach within a duration of 2.5 minutes," Dwikorita said, adding that the tsunami alert ended at 6:37 p.m., minutes after the third wave hit land.
She also denied claims that more tsunami waves had occurred after the alert ended. "After the third wave, there were no more."
Many have blamed the absence of an early-warning system deployed by the government for the loss of life in Palu. Another tsunami expert, Abdul Muhari, said Indonesia lagged behind other countries in building and maintaining a tsunami detection system.
Abdul said countries like Japan, which frequently deals with earthquakes and tsunamis, had installed and were operating more equipment to detect earthquakes than Indonesia. For example, there would be one to five seismographs placed in a subdistrict as well as layers of tsunami detector buoys in its waters.
"Despite [Japan's] ample equipment, there was still a loophole that caused a high number of casualties during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami," Abdul said. "Indonesia, by contrast, only operates a limited amount of equipment."
National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said Indonesia had been having problems installing real-time tsunami detection equipment since 2012.
"No tsunami detection buoys are in operation in our country right now, which are necessary to detect such waves early. Most of them are broken because of, for example, vandalism," Sutopo said, adding that the procurement of such equipment could run up against budgeting constraints.
Amilia Rosa, Karuni Rompies, Jewel Topsfield & James Massola, Palu Indonesia has said it will accept international aid to cope with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Sulawesi on Friday as officials warn that hundreds of people could still be buried under rubble.
The official death toll has now risen to 844 according to National Disaster Management Board spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Sutopo said Indonesia had 4500 to 6000 earthquakes a year but due to limited budget had just 60 units of tsunami sirens. "We need thousands of them," he said.
More than 600 people have been badly injured and there are 48,025 refugees in Palu alone, a coastal city with a population of 374,000 that was flattened by the giant wave.
A mass grave for the victims is being prepared in Palu, with corpses to be buried after being identified to avoid the spread of disease. Sutopo said proper burial procedures would be followed, with men and women divided, as had been the case in the burial after the 2004 tsunami in Aceh.
A 14-day state of emergency has been declared in Central Sulawesi, where a lack of heavy equipment and chronic shortage of fuel was making it difficult to recover victims.
Sutopo said heavy equipment was being transported from Makassar to assist with evacuation works, which were focused on a collapsed eight-storey hotel in Palu and other residential areas.
He said it was still unknown how many lives had been lost in Petobo, in South Palu, and Balaroa residential area in Palu, which fell exactly on the earthquake fault-line. "We predict hundreds of people are still buried under the rubble of the Balaroa residential area in Palu."
Sutopo said 744 houses in Petobo, in South Palu, had been impacted by liquefaction, a process where the sheer amount of liquid in the soil turned it into a watery mud.
Petobo resident Amirudin U Labugis told Fairfax Media his house was swallowed by a "tsunami of mud". "It lifted my house, seven meters up, then it took it away, it moved in circles, like washing machine," he said. He has no idea how they survived.
"It was luck that we ran towards safety and were not gobbled up by the mud," he said. "We took refuge up a hill. I ran without anything, no food, no water."
Amirudin said his youngest son had been sick with vomiting, diarrhoea and fever. "We need food, water. We ran out, after this afternoon we won't have anything. No shops are open, so we can't buy anything."
About 1.6 million people are estimated to have been affected on top of those killed and injured. Seven districts were still isolated in Sigi, the south of Palu, due to landslides
Sutopo said President Joko Widodo had told the Foreign Minister that Indonesia would accept international assistance.
He said international assistance should be "selective" and would focus on the 10 countries that had offered to provide it, which included Australia, the US, South Korea, China and Singapore.
Priorities would be planes that can land on 2000 metre runways, tents, water and sanitation systems, power generators, field hospitals and medical assistance.
"Whilst the Australian government has not yet received a formal request, we are working closely with Indonesian counterparts to determine what assistance Australia could most effectively provide to meet the needs of those impacted by the disaster," a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne told Fairfax Media.
Associated Press reported that an early warning system that might have prevented deaths in the tsunami had been stalled in the testing phase for years.
It said a high-tech system of sea-floor sensors, data-laden sound waves and fibre-optic cable was meant to replace a system set up after the 2004 tsunami in Aceh but delays meant the system hadn't moved beyond a prototype.
Telecommunication services are being restored in Palu and surrounding areas, as Telkom Indonesia works to repair infrastructure damaged in the quake. Government buildings were being priotitised.
The tsunami that hit Palu, Donggala and Mamuju in Central Sulawesi on Friday evening was triggered by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake. Tsunami survivor Rosina Mursidin yelled for her children to get out of the house after the earthquake.
"That's when we all saw it, it wasn't your regular wave, it was the colour of cigarate ash," she said. "So me and my family and a few neighbours, about 20 people, climbed the mango tree in the yard. Just as the water hit us, the tree fell, it pinned my mother, but we hung onto it."
Rosina said she gripped the twig from which her two-year-old nephew was hanging and prayed: "Please God save him, he is innocent". Loading
"All the while I prayed, I was totally submerged, I drank a lot of water, barely able to breath, but I kept my grip up. I don't know for how long, but when the water slowed and lowered down I took a deep breath and check my family.
They survived but others have not been so lucky. Call outs for missing people are being posted on Twitter. Puji Lestari posted she was looking for her 20-year-old sister, Denny Ayu Lestari, whom she had been unable to contact for a day.
"A day after the quake, she called my mom twice because mom called her every second. She said she was alright, she was up in the mountain with her friends," Puji told Fairfax Media. "She told my mum that she needs food and clothing."
Puji said her sister's mobile was completely off and her friend's phone was also inactive because the network was still in trouble.
Oxfam is planning a response to reach 100,000 people in Palu city and Donggala district. This is likely to focus on the immediate needs such as ready-to-eat meals, water purification kits and emergency shelters," said Ancilla Bere, Oxfam's Humanitarian Manager in Indonesia.
Care Australia has also launched an appeal and is calling for urgent donations to help it deliver clean water and emergency food supplies.
Amilia Rosa, Palu, Indonesia When I arrive at Palu airport on Sunday, two days after the double tragedies of a powerful quake followed by a massive tsunami, it is incredibly hot.
Everything looks deserted, but at least the airport buildings have power, and locals are going there to charge their phones and other gadgets. There's a long queue at what appears to be the one ATM working in the city.
It's chaos as there are no taxis, no Go-Jek (ride share), no transport of any sort. Everybody arriving is struggling to find transport to reach their destinations. Some are begging, pleading that they need to see their families, that they haven't seen them since the disaster.
The response from the few locals at the airport is muted. "We all have families and it's not that we don't want to, there's no fuel. I have a scooter, but I got no fuel," one man offers.
The heat is oppressive locals will tell you that Palu has nine suns, a reference to Hou Yi, the mythological archer who shot down nine of the 10 suns that were scorching the earth.
Communication is a struggle for the first 20 minutes I find no signals, regardless of which SIM card I use. Then I manage to get just a phone signal but no internet. Almost an hour later, I'm getting 2G internet.
The next issue was transport. I check everyone at the airport to see if I can cadge a lift.
I don't know the area, there's barely a phone signal, and it seems, no way to reach the affected areas. Almost out of hope, I chat with a man waiting at the airport who finds himself in the same situation. He's pretty quiet, but I establish that he lives in Sigi, to the south of Palu, but he can't contact his family to arrange for them to pick him up.
After almost another 30 minutes, his nephew appears he'd taken the innitiative to pick up his uncle, knowing he was coming home that day.
I ask if I can hitch a ride. He says sure, but is still very sombre. In the car after learning I am a journalist, he tells me he can't take me into the city of Palu as that's not where he is going.
When I keep saying "Palu" and "Donggala" (to the north of Palu), the nephew becomes agitated, and asks "Why do you want to cover just Palu and Donggala, Sigi is hit hard too".
Already Palu is preparing mass burials for more than 300 bodies. The official toll of more than 800 dead is so far mostly from Palu but it is expected to grow as areas cut off by damage are reached. Areas such as Sigi where we are headed.
After taking his uncle to where their big family is camping for now, the nephew takes me on a scooter and shows me the devastation. It's a shock to him. He'd been told of the destruction, but only realised just how bad it is after looking at it with me.
"I haven't been to work [he is a civil servant], none of my colleagues too," he says. "I know we have our obligation to the people. But how can I do that when my own big family also need rescuing, need protection?"
Riding around Sigi, the devastation is extensive. Even rice fields have cracked and turned into chaos.
Schools have been flattened, home destroyed, buildings collapsed, electricity poles have been felled and block the street. A few people are riding scooters through the streets, navigating the cracks in the road driven by the desperation to find food, water and fuel for their families. They scour the empty, looted shops, looking for anything.
Temporary tents have been set up outside their destroyed homes. Other than a pile of clothes and linen, they don't seem to have much in term of supplies. I saw a few boxes of water, plastic bags with what could be noodles and maybe biscuits but not much of anything else.
Two men in a scooter carrying some supplies stop not far from where I was taking pictures and I ask where they bought the stuff. He said a big storage unit in Palu had been opened, with Police on guard, and the manager handing out the supplies for free.
"Thank God [for the supplies]," the scooter rider said. "I don't want to steal thank God now I don't have too."
They kindly let me get some rest in their big family tent. They have combined their resources and cooking for the whole family.
Although they have about 10 cars parked nearby and maybe 15 scooters, almost all have no fuel. One of the gentlemen finally takes me and drops me in Palu, using the only scooter with some gas still in it.
They say they are happy to take me using their precious scarce fuel, because then the world will know of Sigi's plight. And then, maybe, when the aid they need arrives, some will go to them. Maybe the sick and injured will finally get some medical attention that amounts to more than a mere a splash of iodine.
Makassar An early warning system that might have prevented deaths in the tsunami that hit an Indonesian island on Friday has been stalled in the testing phase for years.
The high-tech system of seafloor sensors, data-laden sound waves and fibre-optic cable was meant to replace a system set up after an earthquake and tsunami killed nearly 250,000 people in the region in 2004. However inter-agency wrangling and delays in getting just 1 billion rupiah ($95,500) to complete the project mean the system hasn't moved beyond a prototype developed with $4.1 million from the US National Science Foundation.
It is too late for central Sulawesi, where walls of water up to 6 metres and a magnitude 7.5 earthquake killed at least 832 people in the cities of Palu and Donggala, highlighting the weaknesses of the existing warning system and low public awareness about how to respond to warnings.
"To me this is a tragedy for science, even more so a tragedy for the Indonesian people as the residents of Sulawesi are discovering right now," said Louise Comfort, a University of Pittsburgh expert in disaster management who has led the US side of the project.
"It's a heartbreak to watch when there is a well-designed sensor network that could provide critical information."
After a 2004 tsunami killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, more than half of them in the Indonesian province of Aceh, a concerted international effort was launched to improve tsunami warning capabilities, particularly in the Indian Ocean and for Indonesia, one of world's most earthquake and tsunami-prone countries.
Part of that drive, using funding from Germany and elsewhere, included deploying a network of 22 buoys connected to seafloor sensors to transmit advance warnings.
A sizeable earthquake off Sumatra island in 2016 that caused panic in the coastal city of Padang revealed that none of the buoys costing hundreds of thousands of dollars each were working. They'd been disabled by vandalism or theft or just stopped working due to a lack of funds for maintenance.
The backbone of Indonesia's tsunami warning system today is a network of 134 tidal gauge stations augmented by land-based seismographs, sirens in about 55 locations and a system to disseminate warnings by text message.
When the 7.5 quake hit just after 6pm local time on Friday, the meteorology and geophysics agency issued a tsunami alert, warning of potential for waves of 0.5 to 3 metres. It ended the warning at 6.36pm. That drew harsh online criticism, but the agency's head said the warning was lifted after the tsunami hit. It's unclear exactly what time tsunami waves rushed into the narrow bay that Palu is built around.
"The tide gauges are operating, but they are limited in providing any advance warning. None of the 22 buoys are functioning," Comfort said.
"In the Sulawesi incident, BMKG (the meteorology and geophysics agency) cancelled the tsunami warning too soon, because it did not have data from Palu. This is the data the tsunami detection system could provide."
Adam Switzer, a tsunami expert at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, said it's a "little unfair" to say the agency got it wrong.
"What it shows is that the tsunami models we have now are too simplistic," he said. "They don't take into account multiple events, multiple quakes within a short period of time. They don't take into account submarine landslides."
Whatever system is in use, he said, the priority after an earthquake in a coastal area should be to get to higher ground and stay there for a couple of hours.
Power outages after the earthquake struck meant that sirens designed to warn residents to evacuate did not work, said Harkunti P. Rahayu, an expert at the Institute of Technology in Bandung. "Most people were shocked by the earthquake and did not pay any thought that a tsunami will come," she said.
Experts say the prototype system deployed offshore from Padang a city extremely vulnerable to tsunamis because it faces a major undersea fault overdue for a massive quake can provide authoritative information about a tsunami threat within 1 to 3 minutes. That compares with 5 to 45 minutes from the now defunct buoys and the limited information provided by tidal gauges.
The system's undersea seismometers and pressure sensors send data-laden sound waves to warm surface waters. From there they refract back into the depths, travelling 20 to 30 kilometres to the next node in the network and so on.
The Padang network's final undersea point needs just a few more kilometres of fiber optic cable to connect it to a station on an offshore island where the cascades of data would be transmitted by satellite to the geophysics agency, which issues tsunami warnings, and to disaster officials.
The system was first reported in January 2017, when it was waiting on Indonesian funding to lay the cables. Since then, agencies involved have suffered budget cuts and the project bounced back and forth between them.
A December 2017 quake off the coast of Java close to Jakarta reignited interest and the geophysics agency made getting funding a priority. In July, the Ministry of Finance in July approved funding to purchase and lay the cable.
But at an inter-agency meeting in September, the three major agencies involved failed to agree on their responsibilities and the project was "simply put on hold," Comfort said.
Indonesian officials who've been supportive of the new early warning system did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Since the 2004 tsunami, the mantra among disaster officials in Indonesia has been that the earthquake is the tsunami warning and signal for immediate evacuation. Not everyone is convinced a tsunami detection system is essential.
"What Indonesian colleagues have commented upon is that people were confused about what to do with the alert information," said Gavin Sullivan, a Coventry University psychologist who works with the Indonesian Resilience Initiative on a disaster preparation project for the Indonesian city of Bandung.
The fact that people were still milling around Palu's shoreline when waves were visibly approaching shows the lessons of earlier disasters haven't been absorbed.
"This points to the failing to do appropriate training and to develop trust so that people know exactly what to do when an alert is issued," he said. "In our project in Bandung, we're finding a similar unwillingness to prepare for something that seems unlikely."
Jakarta The Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo) has blamed the government for the looting that occurred at dozens of retail outlets in Palu and Donggala in Central Sulawesi, which were hit by an earthquake and tsunami last week.
"We are concerned about the government's arrogance in allowing people to loot goods from retail outlets in Palu and Donggala, without [first] coordinating with their owners or management, or with the association," said Aprindo chairman Roy Nicholas Mandey as quoted by kompas.com on Sunday.
Roy said 40 outlets and Alfamarts and one Hypermart outlet had been looted. Local residents had also stolen fuel from the trucks of state-owned oil and gas giant Pertamina.
Earlier, Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo reportedly said that he was permitting people to take goods from the retail outlets upon the government's guaranty that it would compensate for all goods that the earthquake victims had taken. Tjahjo later denied he had made the statement.
Roy said that widespread looting had occurred because the people assumed that the minister encouraged them to take goods from retail outlets, adding that Tjahjo's statement could be interpreted in multiple ways.
In addition, he said, the employees of the retail outlets were also survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi.
"Up to the present, the Home Ministry and local administrations have not communicated with us [on the looting]. Meanwhile, even with state-owned enterprises, the governed made communications," Roy said.
Arya Dipa, Bandung The Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation has said the deteriorating Palu-Koro fault had amplified the jolt of the 7.4-magnitude earthquake that hit Donggala regency in Central Sulawesi.
The fault is a fracture in the earth's crust that runs from the Makassar Strait to the northern part of the Boni Gulf in southern Sulawesi. It runs underneath Sulawesi Island. The fault's shift is believed to have triggered the major earthquake that struck on Friday.
"The geological map of Central Sulawesi is composed of rocks that are aged between 10,000 and 1 million years. But it fell into decay, causing the jolts to be stronger," said the institution's head of earthquake mitigation, Sri Hidayati, on Saturday.
Sri, who is involved in compiling the 2017 Indonesia Earthquake Map, said it was an active fault with a motion that ranged between 30 and 44 millimeters per year. She added that the agency had sent the map of vulnerable land motion to local governments nationwide.
Sri suggested that local governments should utilize the geological maps as a reference point to implement policies regarding land utilization and spatial development, as well as the construction of earthquake-resistant infrastructures.
"We are hoping that local governments utilize the [geological] maps as one of the considerations for spatial planning in their respective areas. For instance, if there is an active fault within an area, do not allow the construction of buildings," she emphasized.
Indonesia, which sits on the so-called Ring of Fire, is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. The 2017 national earthquake map revealed that the number of active faults across the nation has increased from 81 to 295 since 2010. (sau/dmr)
Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta A breast cancer patient has reached a peaceful settlement with the government after a three-month-long dispute over the Healthcare and Social Security Agency's (BPJS Kesehatan) coverage of chemotherapy drug trastuzumab.
Juniarti, a breast cancer patient who tested positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), and her husband Edy Haryadi filed a civil lawsuit against the government, BPJS Kesehatan president director Fachmi Idris and the Clinical Advisory Council (DPK) in July, demanding that the drug be put back on the BPJS coverage list.
Presiding judge Mery Taat Anggarasih issued a court order to put in force the settlement at the South Jakarta District Court on Wednesday, officially putting an end to the lawsuit.
In the settlement signed by all parties in the civil case on Sept. 27, BPJS Kesehatan agreed to cover trastuzumab for HER2 stage three and above patients, in accordance with the technical guidelines stipulated in a 2018 health ministerial regulation (Permenkes) issued in July.
"I hope all parties will follow the terms of this settlement," Mery said before ending the hearing.
Juniarti, Edy and their lawyers expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the lawsuit, which was described by the plaintiffs as a victory for all HER2-positive breast cancer patients.
"I think that today shows that justice was served even though it was a close outcome. This is what we were looking for as seekers of justice," Edy told The Jakarta Post after the hearing. "I hope that this can be a lesson for BPJS [Kesehatan], because this is about human lives."
Juniarti was diagnosed with stage three HER2-positive breast cancer in May and was prescribed with trastuzumab and three other chemotherapy drugs after her mastectomy one month later.
Upon trying to obtain the drug at a pharmacy, she discovered that BPJS Kesehatan had stopped covering trastuzumab for patients treated under its state-funded National Health Insurance-Healthy Indonesia Card (JKN-KIS) scheme since April 1.
The removal of the drug was based on an instruction letter from BPJS director of healthcare service assurance R. Maya Armiani Rusady, which stated that the drug was ineffective in treating HER2 breast cancer, a claim rejected by Juniarti and her legal team.
"I think the Permenkes regulation has set out in clear detail why trastuzumab is necessary for HER2 patients, so I think this settlement is fair and serves as strong legal backing for myself and other HER2 patients," Juniarti said.
Juniarti has already gone through four chemotherapy treatments without trastuzumab since her mastectomy and said that she hoped the drug would be available for her next treatment, scheduled for three weeks from Friday.
"I hope that this settlement will soon be implemented by BPJS [Kesehatan] and will not just be something on paper," she said.
BPJS Kesehatan previously insisted that the drug was costly and ineffective in treating breast cancer in its argument before the civil court and during two out-of-court mediation sessions before Juniarti brought the case to court.
BPJS Kesehatan spokesperson Iqbal Anas Ma'ruf said the agency was in the process of updating its regulations to reflect the guidelines set out in the Permenkes regulation.
"We are very thankful for the peaceful settlement," he said. "Of course, BPJS Kesehatan will follow [the ministerial regulation] and the suggestions of experts in creating regulations. The process is ongoing and will be applied to all JKN-KIS users."
He did not, however, specify a timeline for making the trastuzumab available to qualifying BPJS Kesehatan users, saying only that "the administrative process is ongoing".
Sheany, Jakarta Human Rights Watch says thousands of people with mental illness remain either shackled or locked up in confined spaces in various institutions across Indonesia, and called on the government to ramp up efforts to end these abusive practices.
There were about 12,800 people with psychosocial disabilities who shackled or locked up as of July this year, compared with about 18,800 two years ago, HRW said in a report released in Jakarta on Tuesday (02/10).
It says the lower number was partly due to community outreach programs initiated by the Ministry of Health. The program already reached 16.2 million households by September.
"Over the past two-and-a-half years, the Indonesian government has undertaken serious efforts to tackle shackling and lack of community-based [mental health] services," HRW researcher Andreas Harsono said during the release of the report.
"But with little oversight, thousands of people with disabilities remain in chains or locked up in institutions across Indonesia," he added.
In faith-based healing centers, the organization found people are abused and receiving alternative treatments, such as being forced to listen to Koranic recitations. In private institutions, people with psychosocial disabilities often face sexual violence, restraints and solitary confinement.
Jeffrey, a University of Indonesia law graduate who was involuntarily confined to a social care institution for two years, said he witnessed patients spending years without receiving proper care, and that some even died while living in dire conditions.
In 2009, after complaining about hearing voices, Jeffrey was taken to a social care institution where he was chained and kept in solitary confinement.
"This is real, I experienced it myself my freedom was taken from me... I felt like I was taken there not for the sake of healing, but to be discarded," he said.
Jeffrey's experience illustrates a bigger problem in Indonesian society when it comes to mental health, which should push the government to increase its efforts to create greater awareness.
Indonesia banned shackling in 1977, and the government has ratified the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. But current regulations in Indonesia, according to HRW, still make it relatively easy to confine people with psychosocial disabilities to institutions against their will.
"... The government must educate the public about mental health and provide people who have psychosocial disabilities with services that extend beyond medication, including access to education, housing and employment," said Kriti Sharma, senior disability rights researcher at HRW.
The Ministry of Social Affairs must adopt a deinstitutionalization policy that moves away from putting people in institutions and instead support them to live independently in the community, she said.
Yeni Rosa Damayanti, co-founder of the Indonesian Mental Health Association, said the lack of legal capacity for patients to discharge themselves from these institutions, along with cases where they do not have anywhere to go, are problems the government must consider.
"It's the state's responsibility to provide housing that is not a prison and [these] institutions are essentially prisons. [It is] a practice that must be stopped," Yeni said.
She suggested that these institutions be transformed into open-door facilities where patients can admit or discharge themselves. She said the government should also consider developing a public housing scheme to ensure people with mental health disorders have a place to live.
The Social Affairs Ministry seeks to completely eradicate shackling in the country by 2018, while the Health Ministry aims to do it by 2019.
While reports about Indonesian authorities openly targeting the activities of gay citizens seem to have died down recently (with the exception of Aceh, where two men were caned in July for allegedly engaging in same-sex relations in violation of the region's sharia-based laws), police in the capital city of Jakarta announced yesterday that they raided a private home due to suspicion that a "gay party" was taking place inside, leading to the arrest of four people on drug charges.
Central Jakarta Police say they raided the private home in Sunter early on Sunday morning at about 1:30am after they received reports from people in the neighborhood. Twenty-three people were detained by the police but only four were arrested after allegedly being caught with ecstasy.
"Yes, the fact is that it was an all male party. We are still looking into whether there was any element of prostitution and investigating the flow of money," said Central Jakarta Deputy Chief of Police Arie Ardian Rishadi during a press conference on Sunday as quoted by Detik.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia (except in Aceh), but in recent years police have targeted members of the gay community by conducting raids on gay clubs, spas and get togethers in private venues. In past cases, police have charged some of the people involved with violating Indonesia's ambiguously worded pornography laws.
But in this case, police only charged the four men they say were caught with illegal narcotics. Also unlike in some past cases, police seem to have taken care not to disseminate the photos and identities of all of those caught in the raid, as they did after their much criticized raid on the Atlantis Spa in Jakarta last year.
Arie said that the four had been charged under Indonesia's draconian drug laws, meaning they could face up to 6 years for possession and up to 20 years if they were found to be involved in drug dealing.
The Central Jakarta police chief said they were still investigating where the four got their ecstasy although he suspected they came from Kuala Lumpur.
Jon Afrizal, Jambi After days of public outrage and uncertainty over the sudden closure of three churches in the provincial capital of Jambi due to permit issues, members of the churches' management met with city administration officials to discuss potential relocation.
"We have met with the city administration of Jambi to try to solve the problem. It offered us two options either we relocate the churches or we merge them into a single church," said Ojahan Tampubolon, a pastor at the Methodist Church, on Tuesday.
He added that he would reconvene in a week with the pastors of the other two churches God's Congregation Church and the Indonesian Huria Christian Church to settle on one of the options on offer. However, each of the administration's options comes with its own caveat.
Ojahan said, on one hand, the churches' management had yet to find a suitable relocation spot. Furthermore, building a church from scratch would require a huge budget and loads of time, he added.
On the other hand, merging multiple churches into one would cause unwanted conflict because churches have their own specific organizational structures, according to Ojahan.
The administration suggested that the churches should be relocated to an area called Simpang Rimbo, which is situated several kilometers from their original location.
The closure of the churches due to permit issues has raised the ire of the public.
The head of the Jambi-based division of the National and Political Unity Office (Kesbangpol), Liphan Pasaribu, said the closure was temporary until the administration and other related parties came up with a solution.
"The churches would be closed down temporarily as we try to solve issues related to building permits," Liphan said on Friday as quoted by tribunnews.com. According to him, 70 churches in Jambi have yet to receive building permits. (rfa)
Jakarta Jakarta saw a 40 percent drop in traffic violations on the fifth day of the Electronic Traffic Law Enforcement (E-TLE) system trial run, according to police.
"The number declined from 93 violations to 53," Jakarta Police traffic unit chief Sr. Comr. Yusuf said as quoted by kompas.com on Saturday.
Among the 53 violations, Yusuf added, 20 were committed by private vehicles (with black license plates), three by public vehicles, or yellow license plate, four by red license plates or official-owned vehicles, seven by military and police vehicles and two from non-Jakarta private vehicles.
The police failed to identify the vehicles of two other violators because their license plate numbers had been covered by other vehicles behind them. The other 15 were declared violations by the traffic police in charge.
The E-TLE trial run started on Oct. 1 and covers Jl. Sudirman and Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta. (vla)
Jakarta The Jakarta administration has said it welcomes applications from anyone or any group seeking sponsorship for attending overseas events amid the recent brouhaha surrounding the arrest of activist Ratna Sarumpaet, who was about to embark on an overseas trip at the city's expense.
Jakarta Regional Head and Foreign Cooperation Bureau chief Mawardi said the city can approve funding proposals from individuals or groups. But there are several conditions, such as whether the trips represent Jakarta, bring honor to Jakarta or Indonesia as well as promote the country's cultures.
"[Proposals] are welcome, we will see what they represent," he said as reported by kompas.com on Friday.
The individuals or groups must first coordinate with the agency related to their field and then send an official proposal to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan. The governor will then discuss the proposal with related agencies, Mawardi said.
The funding for overseas trips is stipulated in the 2018 gubernatorial decree on overseas trips.
Ratna was arrested by the Jakarta Police onboard an aircraft in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Thursday evening. She was about to depart for Santiago, Chile to attend the 11th Women Playwrights International Conference.
Anies, through the Jakarta Tourism Agency, had approved her proposal to pay for her travel and accommodation. She received Rp 70 million (US$4,614) for her trip, which Mawardi said must be returned to the city after it was cancelled.
Ratna, he added, must also write an accountability report for the administration on the funding she had received.
Jakarta Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Idham Azis has issued circulars urging Jakartans to keep law and order in mind during the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games.
"In the circulars, we advise residents not to stage any demonstrations during the 2018 Para Games. We want Jakarta to be a good host," Idham said on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com. The event will be held in the capital from Oct. 6 to 13.
He said the announcement was approved and signed by Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, the Jakarta military commander, Jakarta's courts and Jakarta Prosecutor's Office. Idham added that the Jakarta Police would deploy 3,000 personnel to secure the event.
"For a month, we have conducted the Cipta Kondisi public safety operation and the National Police deputy chief has said terrorist threats, narcotics and street crime [would be curbed by the police during 2018 Para Games]. The Jakarta Police, regional military command (Kodam) and the city administration are ready to secure the event," he said. (ami)
Scores of students from the People's Movement Against the IMF-World Bank have held a protest action in front of the Bali regional police headquarters to protest policies that restrict public activities for the duration of an upcoming IMF-World Bank meeting in Bali.
The action, which was held on Friday October 5 and started at 9.30am, began with a long-march from the Bali Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices to the police headquarters. Action coordinator Dimas said the action was to protest polices that restrict public activities.
Tensions rose between demonstrators and police after protesters were asked to shift the demonstration to a different location. The students however held firm at the original location.
The group made three demands. First they called for an end to policies and regulations that muzzle and curb the ordinary people's rights to freedom of association, expression and organisation, particularly in the context of opposing the annual IMF-World Bank meeting in Bali.
Second, they called for the repeal of Bali regional police notification Number B/8012/IX/YAN.2.12/2018/Dit Intelkam.
Third, that as part of upholding democracy, they called on the authorities provide guarantees of protection for civil society activities responding to the IMF-World Bank meeting.
During the action they also brought various kinds of paraphernalia and shouted slogans such as "Jokowi-JK Are American Lackeys" [referring to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla], "The Jokowi-JK Regime is Anti-People, Anti-Democracy And Anti-the Poor" and "Jokowi is a Fascist".
As of posting this report, police have held an audience with several representatives of the protesters while the remainder continued with the action in front of the police headquarters. (ban)
Busrah Hisyam Ardans, Denpasar The People's Global Conference Alliance (Aliansi Konferensi Rakyat Global) held a peaceful action in front of the Bali regional police office on September 5 opposing the upcoming International Monetary Fund-World Bank annual meeting.
The protesters also rejected a written notification from the Bali regional police prohibiting social activities for the duration of the IMF-World Bank meeting.
Action coordinator Dewa Putu Adnyana said that the People's Global Conference was making a number of demands.
First, the group called for an end to policies and regulations which muzzle and curb the ordinary people's rights of association, expression, and organisation, particularly in the context of criticising the IMF-World Bank meeting in Bali.
Second, they called for the repeal of Bali Regional Police State of the Republic of Indonesia (Notification) Number B/8012/IX/YAN. 2.12/2018/Dit Intelkam.
Third, that as part of upholding democracy, they called on the authorities provide guarantees of protection for civil society activities responding to the IMF-World Bank meeting.
Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta National coal production up to August has already reached 311 million tons, or 64 percent of this year's total target of 485 million tons, according to the government's data.
Coal exports have already reached 200 million tons, or 54 percent of the yearly target of 364 million tons, excluding the additional target of 100 million tons revealed by the government recently.
The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry's coal business supervision director Sri Raharjo told the press on Thursday that domestic sales could miss the target of 121 million tons as a result of the slowdown policy of state-owned electricity company PLN in the operation of its coal-fired power plants.
"If [PLN] as an end user is consistent with its plan, the target will be reached. But it said several CODs [commercial operation date] will be delayed, which of course will affect the realization [of domestic coal sales]," he said.
When asked if the 2019 target of 500 million tons will be maintained, he said it depends on the coal price.
However, he said the government would tightened the criteria, not only based on feasibility studies and environmental assessments, but also based on the financial aspects.
According to 2016 data from the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, Indonesia's coal reserves stood at 28 billion tons. The reserves could run out in 2086 if the annual production rate after 2019 is set constantly at 400 million tons. (bbn)
Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta The government has issued another temporary permit extension for gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) as the divestment process of shares from Freeport-McMoran (FCX) to state-owned mining holding company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) is still incomplete.
The temporary special mining permit (IUPK) is being issued by the government as the previous temporary permit expired on Sept. 30. PTFI has already had a monthly temporary IUPK since February 2017. The issuance of the permanent IUPK is pending the completion of the divestment process.
Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry mineral and coal director general Bambang Gatot Ariyono said in Jakarta on Monday that the temporary IUPK would take effect on Oct 1 and would end in late October.
Inalum signed last week agreements with United States-based mining giant FCX, a parent company of PTFI, on the purchase of a majority stake in PTFI, which operates the gold and copper mine in Papua.
To conclude the deal, however, Inalum, which represents the government in the talks, needs to settle the payment of US$3.85 billion to FCX and the Rio Tinto Group within six months.
When the deal is completed, Inalum, which represent the Indonesian government, will increase its ownership of PTFI shares from 9.36 to 51.23 percent.
Freeport is also seeking a contract extension to operate the mine for 2 x 10 years after its current contract of work (CoW) expires in 2021.
"Each [period] is conditional and has different requirements. So if they demand an extension up to 2031, we could give it directly, but if they demand up to 2041, it is OK as long as the company can meet the requirements," he added.
David G Rose The Asian financial crisis may have occurred two decades ago, but it continues to cast a long shadow over Indonesia. The country's modern image was defined in the summer of 1998 as a currency crash sparked social and political chaos, culminating in the downfall of President Suharto and the birth of a reformed democracy.
This week, the rupiah fell to its lowest level since that fateful summer; it is now trading at more than 15,000 rupiah to the US dollar, having weakened by 10 per cent overall this year.
Southeast Asia's largest economy has proved to be as vulnerable as other emerging markets to the uncertainty and turbulence triggered by the United States-China trade war and rising oil prices. Countries as diverse as Turkey, India, Argentina and South Africa have all seen their currencies weaken as investors retreat to more traditional safe havens and stores of value.
But the rupiah's continued depreciation is a blow to Bank Indonesia (BI), the central bank, which has been determined to avoid another rout, increasing interest rates five times since May in an attempt to stabilise the currency.
But while Indonesian holidaymakers may be disappointed in the exchange rate for the rupiah while travelling abroad, back home there is no sense of an imminent crisis.
Consumer prices are actually falling rather than rising, largely due to a decrease in prices on staple foods such as chicken, eggs, onions and chillies. Wages are also slightly rising and, for the moment, inflation is under control.
As Perry Warjiyo, the governor of Indonesia's central bank, puts it, "the fundamentals of the economy are sound". Warjiyo dismissed comparisons to 1998 when asked this week about the currency's current slump, which made headlines across the region.
"Why do you keep saying it's 'the lowest since the Asian crisis', this kind of thing?" he tells This Week In Asia. "You make it sound like Indonesia is falling apart."
He adds: "How much has the rupiah fallen this year? 9.8 per cent. But how much has the [Indian] rupee fallen? Twelve per cent. How much is the decline in Turkey, how much in South Africa, how much in Argentina?
"Come on! Compare [the rupiah] with the rupee and other countries' currencies. Our depreciation sends many jitters, but it is still manageable. And of course our rupiah is undervalued, compared to its fundamentals."
The BI governor is aiming to restore confidence not just in the aftermath of a terrible earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi, but in advance of the annual World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings that will take place in Bali next week.
The biggest players in world finance and development economics will be arriving and Indonesia as well as the economy of the wider region will be the focus of attention.
"Asia has emerged as one of the engines of the global economy," Warjiyo says. "We want to promote [the message] that Indonesia is reformed, resilient and a progressive economy."
Also on the agenda in Bali will be "harmonising of international economic policy to create a sustained recovery", the digital economy, new infrastructure projects with funding from public-private partnerships and Islamic sharia-compliant finance, he adds.
Yet amid the reassuring noises from the BI governor, there are signs of strain in some parts of the economy. Indonesia is one of the few countries in the region running a current account deficit, which in July climbed to US$8.03 billion, the highest level in five years.
Warjiyo admits this may require a "diet" to reduce it from a predicted 3 per cent of Indonesia's gross domestic product this year to 2.5 per cent in 2019.
Rising global oil prices are also expected to take a toll on the country's finances, yet at present, most of the cost is being absorbed by the state-owned petrochemical company Pertamina, which is billions of dollars in debt.
Meanwhile, businesses that rely on importing foreign products and materials, such as many in the food and beverage industry, are being asked to bear increased cost pressures without increasing prices.
"The profitability of hotels and other businesses will be suffering but they won't feel like they can pass on increased costs to consumers," says Matt Gebbie of Jakarta-based tourism consultancy Horwath HTL. "The domestic market is extremely price sensitive, and Indonesians will simply go elsewhere if they feel they are being charged too much."
Adhi Lukman, from the Indonesian Food and Beverage Producers' Association, says: "We will hold back from raising the prices of our products [despite rising ingredient costs], however it will be a challenge for us, because our profit margins will definitely be in decline."
Airlines are also bearing the double effects of a weaker rupiah as well as rising fuel costs, and Indonesia's national carrier Garuda has ruled out making a profit this year, simply aiming to keep its losses under US$100 million.
Prices and jobs are likely to be key issues during the campaign for the presidential election next April, as opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto is expected to sow doubts in voters' minds about President Joko Widodo, despite a lack of alternative policies.
Although Widodo may wish that any impact on the cost of living is delayed at least until after the election, his government cannot be accused of ignoring the rupiah's weakness.
In recent weeks, ministers have proposed a series of high-profile measures designed to shore up the currency, from imposing higher taxes on 1,100 non-essential imported products such as caviar and luxury foreign cars to postponing infrastructure projects whose budgets have come under pressure from the strong US dollar.
How effective such measures will be in halting the rupiah's slide remains to be seen.
Warjiyo, meanwhile, defends his bank's hawkish attitude in raising benchmark interest rates to the current 5.75 per cent. "I'm learning from the past," the veteran central banker says.
"When you face this chilly weather global uncertainty, trade war and so on the lesson is: do not wait until the uncertainty hits you, you have to pre-empt the uncertainty and in anticipation of a very difficult time you have to get ahead of it, prepare for it."
Jakarta The rupiah weakened to Rp 15,025 per United States dollar at 11:37 a.m. on Tuesday, 0.58 percent weaker than its position the day before, according to the foreign exchange spot market.
Meanwhile, according to the Jakarta interbank spot dollar rate (Jisdor), the currency was quoted at Rp 14,988 per US dollar on Tuesday, 0.56 percent weaker compared to its position on Monday of Rp 14,905 per US dollar.
The rupiah exchange rate has hovered above Rp 14,900 since Bank Indonesia increased its seven-day reserve repo rate (7DRRR) last Thursday.
The rupiah's depreciation was in line with the weakening of other Asian currencies. Bloomberg reported that only China's renminbi strengthened against the US dollar.
Meanwhile, the US dollar index strengthened to 96.32 against other major world currencies, following the signing of a new North American trade pact involving the US, Canada and Mexico.
Securities firm Samuel Sekuritas Indonesia economist Ahmad Mikail said the US dollar index would be in the range between 95.30 95.50. He said the US dollar exchange rate would also potentially strengthen against other currencies.
"Fear of a possible budget deficit escalation in Italy has also pushed the euro down against the US dollar," said Ahmad, in research released on Tuesday as quoted by kontan.co.id.
Meanwhile, domestically, the deflation rate of 0.18 percent in September, as announced by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) on Tuesday, would potentially defend the rupiah from weakening further, he added.
The year-on-year (yoy) inflation rate in September declined to 2.88 percent, compared to 3.2 percent yoy in September, last year. (bbn)
Thomas Paterson The announcement that prominent Indonesia Ulema Council chairman and cleric Ma'ruf Amin will be President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's vice-presidential running mate for the 2019 election has stimulated fresh debate about the 'Islamisation' of Indonesian politics.
Amin is the head of Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation, the 45-million-member Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). Jokowi's preferred pick had been former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mahfud MD, but he and his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle bowed to political pressure to choose a running mate with high-level Islamic credentials. The NU-linked National Awakening Party and United Development Party had threatened to leave Jokowi's governing coalition if Amin were not chosen.
Islamic conservatism has been ascendant in Indonesia ever since Saudi-sponsored theological influence began in the 1980s. Growing Islamic conservatism became even more pronounced after the fall of Indonesia's second president, Suharto, and his authoritarian 'New Order' regime.
Indonesia's post-Suharto reformasi saw the opening up of public discourse, and subsequent rise of previously suppressed conservative Islamic rhetoric and its 'hardliner' proponents. These hardliner Islamists emerged from decades of marginalisation and repression, under the regimes of both Suharto and his predecessor Sukarno, with little appetite for pluralism and tolerance.
The proliferation of social media in Indonesia has allowed greater unrestrained expression of strong religious views. This has allowed groups such as the Muslim Cyber Army, an organisation described as being without structure and similar to the 'hacktivist' group Anonymous, to reach and access a larger audience.
One way the Muslim Cyber Army targets liberal opponents is through 'doxing'. 'Doxing' refers to the theft and publishing of personal details online, which are then used by groups such as the far-right Sunni fundamentalist group the Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders Front) to hunt down and physically attack their liberal opponents.
This 'weaponisation' of conservative Islamic sentiment and religious intolerance has involved doctored online content and disinformation, deliberately spread through social media. As more Indonesians have gained access to the internet, mainly through low-cost smartphone technology, Indonesia has developed a disinformation problem.
The most prominent example of this phenomenon was the 2017 jailing of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) for two years for alleged blasphemy. In a September 2016 speech, Ahok asserted that politicians shouldn't mislead voters by misinterpreting the Koran in advising Muslims against voting for non-Muslim political candidates. 'Ladies and gentlemen... you've been lied to by those using [the Koran's] Surah al-Maidah verse 51', he said. The speech was then edited to seem as though Ahok was saying that it was the Koran itself that was misleading voters. The resulting video was used by anti-Ahok forces, including Ma'ruf Amin, to mobilise mass demonstrations that forced the government to charge Ahok with blasphemy.
The Indonesian government needs to reduce the effect of disinformation, especially ahead of the 2019 general election. Indonesia's outdated legislation allows cybercriminals and botnets to thrive. The government also needs to do more to stop Indonesia from being used as a haven for these activities, which enables the spread of the doctored content that is in turn used to 'weaponise' Islamic sentiment.
While it's important that Indonesia create appropriate legislative reform that helps reduce cybercrime and botnets, it should not endanger free speech. The recent draft revision to Article 309 of the Criminal Code proposes six years' imprisonment for 'any person who broadcasts fake news or hoaxes resulting in a riot or disturbance'.
While the code needs to be updated, the proposed revision is worrying because it doesn't define or explain what constitutes a 'disturbance' or what is considered to be 'fake'. That's a problem because it opens the system up to abuse: anything not approved could be labelled as 'disturbing'. As it stands, the clause could potentially be used to prosecute journalists, threatening press freedom.
The long-awaited creation of the Badan Siber dan Sandi Negara (BSSN), Indonesia's new national cyber agency after years of setbacks and delays shows that Indonesia is becoming more serious about cybersecurity. In its role as manager of Indonesia's cyberspace as well as content moderator, the BSSN will play a pivotal role in the run-up to the 2019 general election.
The BSSN will have the difficult task of trying to protect Indonesian voters from disinformation without censoring political expression. One way it could do that is to allow individuals and groups open channels for expressing legitimate political opinion, without the threat of being criminalised as blasphemers. It's vital that the threat represented by doctored content and disinformation doesn't supersede the importance of BSSN remaining politically impartial.
There are plenty of opportunities for Australia and Indonesia to increase their engagement on cyber issues, which is consistent with the Australian government's international cyber engagement strategy. Dialogues and bilateral forums should certainly continue and be increased where appropriate, not just with Indonesia but also with other more open societies in the region like Japan and South Korea.
The recently announced comprehensive strategic partnership between Australia and the Republic of Indonesia and subsequent memorandum of understanding on cyber cooperation are promising engagement strategies. The MoU is a two-year non-legally-binding agreement to share information on cyber strategies and policies, build cyber capacity through training and education programs, promote business links to enable growth in the digital economy, and tackle cybercrime by sharing training opportunities to strengthen forensic and investigation capabilities.
Australia should use both the comprehensive strategic partnership and the MoU as platforms to encourage the Indonesian government to either develop clear definitions in the proposed Criminal Code revision or scrap it altogether.
This would help promote ongoing journalistic freedom in Indonesia as well as freedom of expression more generally. The MoU also stipulates closer cooperation with the BSSN, and Australia should use that opportunity to encourage the BSSN not to fall into the trap of state censorship, damaging Indonesia's youthful democracy.
John McBeth, Jakarta Battered by two earthquake-triggered disasters in quick succession, another volcanic eruption and a currency that keeps heading south, luck seems to have deserted Indonesian President Joko Widodo just when he needed it the most.
Still recovering from a series of deadly quakes on the Nusa Tenggara island of Lombok, his government is struggling to respond to a devastating September 28 tsunami in Central Sulawesi, which has claimed more than 1,550 lives and left 200,000 survivors in dire need of assistance.
The October 3 eruption of North Sulawesi's Soputan volcano has only added to the seismic scare, while the day before the Indonesian currency breached the 15,000 rupiah to the dollar mark, easily the lowest it has been since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.
None of this is what Widodo needs seven months out from the April 27, 2019 presidential election, where his chances of winning a second term are increasingly being linked to economic issues and now perhaps to his government's handling of natural disasters as well.
His predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's luck with natural disasters was much worse. His administration was hit by the 2004 Aceh tsunami disaster within months of him taking office, only to be followed by the 2005-2006 Nias, Jogjakarta and Pangandaran quakes and tsunamis which together killed 174,000 people.
It has been 14 years since the Aceh tragedy, but with the country's early-warning system shockingly inoperable and the military still short of a heavy-lift capability, Indonesia appears to be in no better position to deal with a natural disaster-caused tragedy on an outlying island than it was then.
Strange then that it took the government four days to decide whether it needed international assistance when Yudhoyono, far more experienced in foreign affairs and in operating on a global stage, made that same decision literally within hours of learning the full gravity of the Aceh disaster.
Widodo authorized the acceptance of outside aid on October 2, a day after he toured the stricken city of Palu which took the full brunt of a five-meter-high wave that had earlier swept through the district center of Donggala and coastal villages further north that were closer to the epicenter of the 7.5 quake.
It is a rule of thumb that any major tremor should be a warning to head for higher ground in coastal areas. Yet in a startling sign that past lessons have not been learned, scores of strollers along Palu's foreshore ignored shouts from people in nearby buildings as the killer wave bore down on them.
According to official accounts, the post-quake tsunami alert was only lifted at 6.36 pm after the last of three tsunami waves had struck Palu all within eight to 11 minutes of the quake. But that counts for little when survivors reported hearing no sirens and receiving no text messages.
Worse, officials were forced to acknowledge that Indonesia's early-warning system of seismological sensors, buoys and tidal gauges has been out of commission since 2012 only four years after it was installed because of vandalism and a lack of maintenance.
Without the necessary resources, infrastructure or emergency equipment, the Yudhoyono government was also initially overwhelmed by the scale of the calamity, which killed 167,500 people in Aceh alone. But the politics were different then, too.
With a massive global outpouring of assistance, money and sympathy, Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla saw the death and destruction as a chance to win back the goodwill of the people of Aceh, who had suffered through a bitter 25-year armed struggle for independence.
Only 11 days later, Yudhoyono had not only cleared the way for foreign military assistance, notably from the United States, Australia, Singapore and Japan, but had called an emergency regional conference to coordinate aid and relief efforts.
In comparison, aid has been generally slow to reach Palu because supply convoys carrying much-needed fuel, food and water take up to 17 hours to drive from the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar, the nearest major transportation hub.
If anyone understands what needs to be done it is Sulawesi-born Kalla, now serving a second vice presidential term with Widodo.
Yet despite local hospitals being overwhelmed, with patients lying out in the open in the blazing sun, he rejected the offer of a naval hospital ship from US President Donald Trump, perhaps offended by the American leader's seeming off-hand humanitarian gesture.
News agency reports have noted Widodo's government refused foreign assistance in the wake of the earthquake that devastated parts of the eastern island of Lombok in July.
Widodo's denials harked to Kalla's politicized claim during the Aceh disaster that the San Diego-based hospital ship Mercy had only tended to five patients after replacing the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, which treated 2,200 patients during the early days of that relief effort.
The US 7th Fleet said the Mercy handled 17,500 patients in Aceh and also on a later humanitarian tour of the eastern island of Alor and neighboring East Timor before returning in early April 2005 to help victims of another major quake on Nias island, southeast of Aceh.
Indonesia's national pride clearly influences disaster decision-making to some degree, but Aceh's experience and a string of other natural disasters has shown that it also pays to be selective in deciding how the international community can and should help.
The current disaster has underscored the need for more transport aircraft and heavy-lift helicopters to bring in fuel, mobile desalination plants, water purifiers and heavy equipment, in additional to food and medicine, to help in relief operations.
The Indonesian military's 20 C-130s Hercules, an equal number of locally-built Casa-295 and 235 cargo planes and 40 transport helicopters are not enough to deal with a disaster of Palu's magnitude, even if only half were serviceable and available.
As the focus gradually shifts to longer-term recovery efforts, the government and international agencies are already having to confront the cost of rebuilding in both Central Sulawesi and Lombok when money from the state budget is in short supply amid rising financial problems accentuated by a plummeting currency.
The World Bank is offering US$100 million in existing loans for immediate use in Central Sulawesi and another US$500 million in emergency lending, which would be available in the next three months to finance community-driven housing, neighborhood reconstruction and basic infrastructure repairs.
With a clear and growing need for major improvements in disaster risk management and emergency response capabilities, officials are also exploring the possibility of issuing so-called "catastrophic bonds," risk-linked securities where the issuer pays the interest but only gets the capital in the event of a disaster.
Aboeprijadi Santoso "My wife was burnt alive in Kutaradja (now Banda Aceh) in the mid-1960s along with 11 members of Gerwani (woman association affiliated with the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party PKI)," Tjut Husin Fatly told me.
The late Fatly Pak Tjut as he was known among Indonesian exiles in the Netherlands was one of the three founding members of PKI Aceh branch (1956). He left for China in 1964 so never knew exactly what happened.
That's all he could tell when I met him at the residence of the Indonesian Ambassador in Wassenaar, the Netherlands amid, ironically, the celebration of Indonesia's 60th independence day in 2005.
The truth is Mrs Fatly's house was ransacked and burnt. She was later killed leaving her preschool-aged daughter in a camp. It was one of at least 1,941 cases of massacre, which Jess Melvin's study has found in Aceh as part of the planned annihilation (Operasi Penumpasan) of communists.
The tragedy was among the earliest killings that occurred in the aftermath of the September 30 Movement (G30S) bloody actions at the early hours of October 1, 1965, in Jakarta. At least a half million were killed and hundreds of thousands incarcerated throughout the archipelago in what is now known as the Genocide of 1965. Studies have found that the killings were organized and carried out by the Army and its local allies.
Academic research have in the last decade made considerable progress on this subject. Chief among them: John Roosa's Pretext for Mass Murder (2006) has unravelled what happened in October 1965 and concluded no single party was responsible for the G30S actions; and Geoffrey Robinson's The Killing Season (2018) provides the most comprehensive account of the killings when, where, how, why and what impact throughout Indonesia.
Now Jess Melvin's The Army and the Indonesian Genocide, Mechanic of Mass Murder (2018), focussing on Aceh, has been marked as "a game-changer". She uses newly found archival sources to demonstrate that the Indonesian military was deeply engaged in planning and carrying out the mass murder of communist suspects.
The idea of the Army's planning may not be a bombshell. It must have been assumed by many, but Melvin has for the first time been able to exactly pinpoint in details the killings as part of the centralised, nation-wide campaign; and explain how the authorities used the regional and local security structures to mobilize civil and military units down to the village level; and who along the chain of command in Jakarta and Aceh Soeharto-J. Mokoginta-Ishak Djuarsa were responsible for the killings.
This game-changing role is significant both for further study and in terms of its future implications. Most research generally assumed that the Army had cooperated with local Muslim leaders or manipulated them whereas the Army suggested that it responded to their "spontaneous uprising" to contain anger and help them crush the communists.
Melvin, however, argues on the basis of evidence that it's truly a genocide since "the military leadership both possessed and acted upon an intent to destroy Indonesia's communist group". The latter should be defined as "an ideologically constituted (sub)national group" because the target was not only PKI members, but much larger groups that include religious ("Red Muslims") and ethnic (Chinese) group.(p.289-290)
Why pursue a genocide? "The military, after all, had been preparing to launch its own bid for state power on the back of just such a pretext event" i.e. the G30S murder of the generals.
Now, rather than just blaming whoever was to be blamed, Indonesia's present generations need to see the narrative as a challenge to face and prepare to solve the nation's political and moral burden by seeking the truth and fighting for justice.
Buru Island in Maluku and other camps and their documents are still there, many women and other victims still alive, forgotten exiles ready to testify, and foreign intelligence documents have been published. Yet, 53 years on, the powers-that-be remain unwilling to seek the truth.
None of the 2019 presidential hopefuls spoke at length about the great tragedy although it's a golden chance, indeed, to settle the issue once and for all, which President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has promised.
For, Jess Melvin's book, as also Geoffrey Robinson's, ensures us that the victims of the massacres and incarceration are not statistics.
They represent citizens i.e. our compatriots, fellow Indonesians, whose civil rights were destroyed for simple suspicion, the great majority of whom were innocent, legally OK, but happened to be politically on the 'wrong' side - something that seriously disturbs so many of today millennials.
For those born in 1990's and after, it's a serious matter to be resolved for the sake of the moral standing and future of the nation, therefore, no reconciliation would be worth it without revealing and acknowledging the full truth.
Memory is power. In Spain, seventy years after the bloody civil war (1936-1939), children and grandchildren of the kidnapped babies and exiled families were among the pioneers in search of mass graves, truth and reconciliation.
One intriguing question: Why is it that the Army, being a state apparatus who likes to portray itself as "the saviour of the nation", was ready to formally and explicitly acknowledge its responsibility for the atrocities in East Timor (Indonesia-Timor Leste Truth and Friendship treaty 2008), but not for the mid-sixties killings?
Both Melvin's and Robinson's works thus deserve to be closely studied by everyone interested in the political history of the nation indeed by both supporters of the Army false thesis, albeit with an open mind, and those who wish to advance the study of genocide.
Jane Cunneen The death toll from the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck near Palu, Indonesia, on Friday evening continues to rise, with several regions yet to be reached by rescue teams.
But the size and location of the earthquake should not have come as a surprise. Palu is situated at the end of a long, narrow bay which is the surface expression of a very active fault, the Palu-Koro fault.
The area is at high risk of tsunami, with several large earthquakes and tsunamis occurring along the fault within the past 100 years.
Details of Friday's incident are limited, but already there are questions being asked about the effectiveness of Indonesia's tsunami warning system.
It was developed after the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that occurred after an earthquake near Sumatra, but in this recent event the warning did not reach many of the people who were affected.
The tsunami occurred in an area where there are no tide gauges that could give information about the height of the wave. There are reports that a more high-tech system could have saved lives if it had been fully implemented.
Most of Indonesia's deep ocean tsunameter buoys, specially designed to detect tsunamis in the open ocean, have not been working since 2012.
The Indonesian Tsunami Warning System issued a warning only minutes after the earthquake, but officials were unable to contact officers in the Palu area. The warning was cancelled 34 minutes later, just after the third tsunami wave hit Palu.
Large earthquakes are not uncommon in Palu, with 15 events over magnitude 6.5 occurring in the past 100 years. The largest was a magnitude-7.9 event in January 1996, about 100km north of Friday's earthquake.
Several these large earthquakes have also generated tsunamis. In 1927, an earthquake and tsunami caused about 50 deaths and damaged buildings in Palu. In 1968 an earthquake with magnitude 7.8 near Donggala generated a tsunami wave that killed more than 200 people.
Despite this history, many people in Palu were not aware of the risk of a tsunami following the earthquake. Ten years on from the 2004 Boxing Day tragedy that killed at least 226,000 people, there were concerns about tsunami warning systems across the region.
An advanced warning system currently only in the prototype stage may not have helped the people of Palu, as the tsunami struck the shore within 20 minutes of the earthquake.
Such early warning systems are most useful for areas several hundred kilometres from the tsunami source. In regions like Palu where the earthquake and tsunami source are very close, education is the most effective warning system.
It is not yet clear whether Friday's tsunami was caused by movement on the fault rupture from the earthquake, or from submarine landslides within Palu bay caused by the shaking from the earthquake.
The sides of the bay are steep and unstable, and maps of the sea floor suggest that submarine landslides have occurred there in the past.
If the tsunami was generated by a submarine landslide within the bay, tsunami sensors or tide gauges at the mouth of the bay would not have sensed the tsunami wave before it struck the shore in Palu.
High tech tsunami warning systems are able to send out warnings through phone networks and other communications channels, and reach the community through text messages and tsunami sirens on the beaches.
But in areas where a devastating earthquake has occurred, this infrastructure is often too damaged to operate and the warning messages simply can't get through. In Palu, the earthquake destroyed the local mobile phone network and no information was able to get in or out of the area.
Timing is also crucial. Official tsunami warnings require analysis of data and take time even if it is only minutes to prepare and disseminate.
This time is crucial for people near the earthquake epicentre, where the tsunami may strike within minutes of the earthquake. Those living in such areas need to be aware of the need to evacuate without waiting for official warnings, relying on the earthquake itself as a natural warning of a potential tsunami.
The need to raise awareness of the risk becomes even more challenging when large tsunamis occur infrequently, as in Palu. Many residents would not have been born when the last tsunami impacted the town in 1968.
So high tech warning systems may not be effective in areas close to the earthquake epicentre. Ongoing awareness and education programmes are the most important part of a tsunami warning system in coastal areas at risk of tsunami, no matter how infrequently they occur.count