An Indonesia-based human rights researcher says malnutrition is widespread throughout Papua as imported foods have shattered traditional diets.
West Papuans had long lived off traditional Melanesian staple foods such as sago, sweet potato and traditional pork, but these had been increasingly replaced by rice and instant noodles.
This comes as Indonesian health officials responded to a health crisis in Papua province's Asmat district where a deadly outbreak of measles had been exacerbated by malnutrition. Papuan police last week said there were more than 10,000 malnourished people in Asmat.
Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch said he has travelled throughout the region over the past two decades and seen the diets change for the worse.
"I see it all over Papua, not only in Asmat," he said. "Their staple diet changed dramatically. Nowadays I see them consuming rice. Why? Rice is coming from their national government as their main diet."
Mr Harsono said that in Asmat people were also consuming less of the traditional sago as land was being used up for palm oil and mining. He said he used to see a lot of sweet potato in Wamena in the Highlands, but rice was now more plentiful there too.
Meanwhile, government and military health teams vaccinating against a range of diseases had been dispatched to the district of Asmat after a measles outbreak which has killed at least 60 local children.
An Indonesian health official with one of the teams Jane Soepardi told RNZ Pacific many of the children she visited last week had zero immunity.
Mr Harsono said the government had been quite speedy in getting to affected areas but that the death toll underscored Jakarta's neglect of Papuans' basic health rights.
According to him, Indonesia's belated vaccination drive in Papua was not a long-term solution to health problems in Papua.
"The question is without a programme and routine vaccinations, continued vaccinations, what will happen next year, what will happen two years from now?" he said.
"I'm afraid that without a change of the government approach in the area in Papua, it is going to be repeated again."
Andreas Harsono said restrictions on access to Papua should be lifted so it could receive international assistance.
Indonesian health teams are scrambling to attend to the deadly measles outbreak in Asmat district of Papua province.
In the past few months, around 60 children have died from the disease in the remote district where malnutrition cases are also soaring.
Since reports of the extent of outbreak filtered out of Papua earlier this month, Indonesia's government has moved quickly to attend to the situation, but is copping criticism for neglecting the health of Papuans over many years.
Papua's police commander, Boy Rafli Amar last week said the number affected by malnutrition had surpassed 10,000, which was exacerbating the measles problem.
An integrated health team to respond to the crisis has been dispatched from the Papua Province Health Office, Indonesian National Army, and the Ministry of Health.
The team was armed to supply Asmat villagers with medicine, vaccines, medical equipment and nutritious food.
A spokesman for the team told the Antara news agency that they had successfully attended to 117 Asmat villages where he said the measles outbreak had now been suppressed.
The epidemic is being attributed by health officials to food shortage, a poor sanitary environment, and a lack of medical personnel and facilities in Asmat.
Based on information received on 25 January, a total of 12,398 children in Asmat have been offered medical check-ups and treatment. Of the total children, 646 are confirmed to be infected with measles. Jakarta responsible
The NGO Human Rights Watch has fingered blame for the measles outbreak in Papua on the Indonesian government.
It said while Jakarta blamed the deaths in remote Asmat regency on nomadic lifestyles, it is the government who has neglected basic health rights of Papuans.
Human Rights Watch said that Indonesia could have prevented the deaths by establishing an effective vaccination programme in Papua. The current programme is patchy and has not included Asmat children, according to the NGO.
Despite Papua region's abundant resources, which provide significant revenue for the Indonesian state, Papua continues to lag in human development outcomes.
Across the whole Indonesian republic, the highest poverty rates, in relative terms, are all in its far east provinces of Papua, West Papua and Maluku, according to Jakarta's Statistics Agency.
The health situation is of particular concern. Papua has the lowest life expectancy in Indonesia and the highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates. Diseases such as malaria, leprosy and malnutrition have strong footholds in in Papua, as does HIV/AIDS.
Although since coming to power in late 2014, President Joko Widodo promised to bring greater economic and social development to Papua, as well as improved health care, the welfare of Papuans appears to have deteriorated.
In the past couple of years, several reported outbreaks of endemic diseases in various parts of Papua have killed hundreds of people.
The government still significantly restricts access to Papua for international humanitarian and health NGOs who could help bolster public health services.
The United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius P?ras, reported after visiting last year that he was "concerned about the health status of ethnic Papuans" and called for greater health investment.
M. Ahsan Ridhoi A working committee meeting on January 29 between the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I, TNI (Indonesian military) chief Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto and Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has discussed the issue of Papuan independence.
Commission I deputy chairperson Hanafi Rais from the National Mandate Party (PAN) said that one of the things discussed was preventing the Free Papua Movement (OPM) from rallying support from the international community.
"Our position is that we want the government, specifically the defense minister and the TNI chief to pay serious and ongoing attention to this. Not just based on particular cases, but continuous and ongoing", said Rais at the DPR complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta on Monday.
During the meeting, according to Rais, Commission I expressed its appreciation to the TNI for providing immediate assistance to Papua during the recent measles epidemic. According to Rais, this is one of the ways to prevent separatism in Papua.
According to Rais, the measles epidemic represents a non-traditional threat to Indonesia's sovereignty which can be taken advantage of by the OPM and pro-independence groups to portray the Indonesian government in a bad light.
"So, of course in confronting non-traditional threats such as this we consider the steps taken by the TNI to have been quite effective. Because they poured in lots of direct humanitarian aid, healthcare, military resources and healthcare workers", said Rais.
In addition to this, according to Rais, the TNI chief, defense minister and Commission I also discussed how to counter overseas support for the free Papua movement, particularly from South-Pacific countries, New Zealand, Australia and the United Nations.
"We in the DPR urge the government to use smart power. We can't just use soft power or just defense, and we can't just rely on hard power because this involves the physical use of troops, we must use smart power", said Rais.
The smart power referred to by Rais is countering fake news (hoax) about Papua that is often spread by pro-free Papua groups to paint the Indonesian government in a negative light.
Related to this, Ryacudu stated his strong objection to the involvement of other countries in the Papua issue.
"In the past I've spoken in Australia, to Australia, to the Solomon Islands, I have never meddled in or interfered with the affairs of other countries. If other countries want to interfere in my country, I don't want that. That's what I say. I won't compromise on this", said Ryacudu at the DPR complex on Monday.
The working meeting also discussed other issues including revisions to the anti-terrorism law, particularly the involvement of the TNI in combating terrorism.
Indonesia's battle to stem a deadly measles outbreak striking malnourished children in Papua is doomed to be repeated unless the government helps lift the isolated region out of grinding poverty, observers said.
Some 800 children have fallen ill and as many as 100 others, mostly toddlers, are feared to have died in what Jakarta called an "extraordinary" outbreak that was first made public this month.
AFP reporters obtained rare access to an overwhelmed hospital in Agats, one of the worst-affected communities, witnessed rail-thin children with exposed rib cages lying on rickety beds or wandering foul-smelling hallways.
One malnourished girl, hooked up to an IV drip, was seen lying on the floor of an under equipped hospital.
The disease has proven especially deadly here as malnutrition makes children more susceptible, weakening their immune systems.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered military and medical teams to bring supplies to remote villages in the far-flung province.
Observers blame the crisis on a complex mix of government inaction, lack of jobs, logistical hurdles in reaching remote communities and resettlement efforts that pose a serious threat to traditional hunting-based lifestyles.
A low-level separatist insurgency is also simmering in the region, fueled by resentment over poor conditions and a fight for a bigger share of Papua's rich natural resources.
Many Papuans live a semi-nomadic life in hard-to-reach areas of the jungle with almost no proper medical care, schools or other services, including access to clean water.
In Ayam village, a ten-hour boat ride from the nearest major city, a tiny clinic lacked almost everything including doctors as its few nurses struggled to treat more than two dozen measles cases. Some locals worry what will happen when the medics leave.
"What we really need is medicine and food so our children here can be healthy again," said 28-year-old father Yunus Komenemar, whose one-year-old son has measles.
"The government is paying more attention, aid is coming in and there are (positive) changes, but we want it to last."
Some 12,000 children with no symptoms have been treated, including with vaccinations, according to the health ministry, but in the past many Papuans have refused the shots that are seen as key to preventing outbreaks.
Indonesia has opened new district governments across Papua and tried to settle locals into permanent villages, but many of the new offices are not equipped to handle the huge task ahead.
And resettlement forces locals to adapt to a new lifestyle including adjusting to imported foods that are often already expired by the time they arrive on the island shared with Papua New Guinea, observers said.
Complicating matters, many Papuans avoid the province's few medical clinics because they do not think they need treatment, while some avoid larger communities for fear of coming into contact with Indonesia's military, which has been blamed for human rights abuses.
Natalius Pigai, a former senior official at Indonesia's government-backed National Human Rights Commission, warned that the future of Papua and its people was at stake. "To stop (crises) from happening again in the future, we need to stop Papua's isolation," he said.
While some new plantations offer hope for the local economy, most workers are not native Papuans, experts said.
Jakarta took control of western Papua after hundreds of years of Dutch colonial rule and a UN-backed self-determination referendum in 1969 that was regarded by many historians as a sham, leading to long-simmering tensions.
When Widodo took office in 2014, he vowed to speed up infrastructure development and services, bolstering hopes for the region, observers said.
"What the government is saying is what we think is important to do (for Papua) is in fact not being done," said Richard Chauvel, a Papua expert at the University of Melbourne's Asia Institute.
"The question is whether these newly established (district) governments have the human resources, experience and skills to provide these sorts of services," he added.
Much of the blame lies with regional politicians and their "lack of leadership", according to Freddy Numberi, a former governor of Papua.
The poverty-stricken region gets ample central government funding but much of it does not get used for improving health and education, among other services, owing to corruption and wasteful spending, he added.
"You could say it's a paradox actually they have everything but they blame the central government," Numberi said.
Widodo lifted a travel ban on foreign journalists visiting Papua in 2015. But unofficial restrictions on access have allowed Indonesia to govern a region wracked by regular public health crises without accountability, said Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia-based campaigner for Human Rights Watch. "As measles is easily prevented with a safe and inexpensive vaccine, these deaths should never have happened," he said, adding that Papua has Indonesia's lowest life expectancy and highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates.
"I hope this crisis will help some people here at least those in power to change their minds, but if they choose business as usual another crisis will appear next year as well."
Taylor McDonald Measles in eastern Indonesia's Papua province has killed around 100 indigenous children this month although the disease is easily preventable with a safe and inexpensive vaccine.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said neglect of Papuan basic health rights is responsible while the Jakarta government blames the deaths in remote Asmat regency on nomadic lifestyles. Asmat children have been left out of national children's vaccination programmes, the group said.
About 129,000 people live in Asmat, a swampy region criss-crossed by rivers that can only be accessed by a flight from Papua's capital Jayapura followed by a helicopter and boat ride.
Asmat, like many areas in Papua, lacks proper health-care services for its residents and has a serious shortage of medics. Clinics often have no staff and medicines throughout the ethnically and culturally distinct provinces of Papua and West Papua, HRW said.
The resource-rich provinces, which constitute about 25 per cent of Indonesia's landmass but only contain around 5 per cent of its population, generates massive tax revenue for Indonesia, with the Freeport-McMoRan's Grasberg copper and gold mine delivering US$600 million in taxes per year.
But indigenous Papuans receive little benefit from Grasberg. The archipelago's poverty rates remain highest, in relative terms, in the provinces of Papua, West Papua and Maluku, all in the far east of Indonesia, according to Jakarta's Statistics Agency.
Papua has the lowest life expectancy in Indonesia and the highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates.
The government increases health problems by restricting NGO access, including medical groups, such as Cordaid from the Netherlands.
Those restrictions are related to the prolonged ban on the foreign media access while a low-level pro-independence insurgency continues.
The United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Puras, reported after visiting last year that he was "concerned about the health status of ethnic Papuans" and called for greater health investment.
President Joko Widodo has promised to improve health care in Papua and to allow international access to the troubled provinces. But his government has focused instead on physical infrastructural investment, including digging roads through Papuan rainforest.
HRW said: "To prevent the deaths of more children, Indonesia's health ministry should set up an effective vaccination programme in Papua. Additionally, the government should recognise that international organisations and allowing media to freely report in Papua will bolster official efforts to identify and address gaps in Papua's public health delivery systems."
Worried parents braved long queues and scorching heat in the remote Papuan jungle to get their sick babies treated Friday, as the impoverished region grapples with a deadly measles-and-malnutrition outbreak.
AFP has been able to access the isolated village of Ayam, where houses sit on stilts and the only bare-bones clinic has no modern medical equipment, a few rickety beds, and overwhelmed nurses struggling to cope.
There are no doctors in the community of several hundred which has seen over two dozen cases of measles. Crisscrossed by rivers and swamps, Ayam is a 10-hour boat trip to the nearest major city Timika.
The Indonesian military has sent medical teams to Ayam and other remote locations across the vast region to prevent the spread of what they are calling an "extraordinary" outbreak.
Villagers are also suffering from other health problems like diarrhea and respiratory infections.
"What we really need is medicine and food so our children here can be healthy again... that's what we need now," said 28-year-old father Yunus Komenemar, whose one-year-old son was diagnosed with measles.
Ayam is in the Asmat district where some 800 children have been sickened, while as many as 100 others, mostly toddlers, are feared to have died in the outbreak, which was first made public this month.
Harrowing images from affected communities showed rail-thin children lying on rickety beds with their rib cages exposed and a malnourished girl lying on the floor hooked up to an IV drip.
"I'm sad, I'm angry, and I feel pity," said Norce, a mother of a five-year-old being treated for measles in Agats, another hard-hit community.
In Ayam, nurse Abednego Bakay said his clinic was short of almost everything, including crucial vaccines. "The equipment here is basic and so we can only try to serve people by giving them medicine" he added.
The head of the military medical teams acknowledged that Jakarta's response was slow.
"Let's be honest, maybe the local and national governments became aware of this (outbreak) too late," Asep Setia Gunawan, the military's medical task force chief, told AFP. "The conditions here are serious and that's why we are calling this an 'extraordinary' outbreak."
The problems in Ayam and other villages across Papua are a combination of myriad problems including years of national and local government neglect, a lack of jobs, and logistical hurdles in boosting the quality of life for remote communities, experts said.
They warn that this crisis will be repeated without more action to pull the province out of grinding poverty and end a low-level separatist insurgency fueled by resentment over poor conditions.
"I hope this crisis will help some people here at least those in power to change their minds, but if they choose business as usual another crisis will appear next year as well," said Andreas Harsono, a Jakarta-based campaigner for Human Rights Watch.
Komenemar, whose young son was being treated for measles, worried about what will happen when the military leaves Ayam. "The government is paying more attention, aid is coming in and there are (positive) changes, but we want it to last," he said.
Many Papuans live a semi-nomadic existence and lack proper medical care, schools or other basic services, including access to clean water.
Angelina Sanpai, a mother of six who was waiting to get treatment for her six-month old baby's diarrhea, said putting food on the table is a daily struggle. "I'm used to crying because we've got so little food," she said.
Step Vaessen, Papua, Indonesia In their little bodies with bones nearly piercing through their skin, the eyes of these Papuan toddlers tell their story.
We travelled for nearly 24 hours to get to the story of these children who are dying from malnutrition and a measles outbreak.
It was my first visit back to Papua after foreign media had been restricted for years. We hoped authorities would allow us to tell this story.
Thousands of children suffering from hunger and disease was important enough for us to take the risk. We reported to police headquarters in Jakarta and obtained a travel permit.
Papua, in the country's far east, has been a sensitive region since it became part of Indonesia in the 1960s following what was seen as a flawed referendum.
After a selected group of Papuans chose to become part of the republic, many started fighting for independence. The movement is still active today despite the government's move to give Papua wide-ranging autonomy in 2001.
But this story wasn't about the independence movement. This story was about a neglected part of the country that many in government barely realise is part of Indonesia.
The estimated hundreds of children who have died from malnutrition and measles outbreak are painful evidence of this neglect. Ignored by health workers and government officials, many of the children were never immunised or given basic healthcare.
And this is happening near the world's largest gold mine operated by the American company Freeport, Indonesia's largest taxpayer.
The Asmat tribe was hardest hit. The tribe's settlements in the south of Papua are far away from the nearest town and many Asmat people were forced to bury their children without seeing a doctor.
Those who had canoes rowed to the nearest health post, but were sent away by health workers who seemed to lack commitment and the skills to help.
We travelled to Asatat, a settlement around three hours by speedboat from the nearest town Agats. Over the last four months, at least 29 children have died there.
Aloysius Beorme lost his one-year-old son because he had no money to rent a boat. When he finally managed to row a canoe for hours to a clinic, his son died soon after arrival.
"We want doctors to come here and we want the government in Jakarta to send them because the provincial government has never visited us," Beorme told us.
Since Papua has been given wide-ranging autonomy, the area has been flooded with money, but much of it has allegedly disappeared into the pockets of local leaders and government officials.
Efforts to bring economic progress to the region mainly benefited newcomers from other parts of Indonesia who started their small businesses, selling instant food that is now killing Papuan children.
The Asmat traditionally live from sago palms. Before instant food had entered their villages the semi-nomadic tribe would spend months in the forest to make sago and find enough food to live.
But instant noodles and energy drinks have become a much less time consuming alternative for the Asmat who do not know much about nutrition. In Asatat, we saw children eating uncooked noodles and a baby drinking instant coffee.
The Asmat tribe is facing a serious identity crisis that it is so far left to solve on its own.
A proposal by Indonesia President Joko Widodo to relocate the 100,000 Asmat people living in the area to a town near medical services was immediately rejected.
Many believe this could be the end of the Asmat, who won't be able to survive living away from the forest and facing competition from newcomers.
What the Asmat do need is to be able to strengthen their traditions that have benefited them for centuries and get real government care to prevent this tragedy from happening again.
It is a good opportunity for Widodo's government to prove to the Papuans that they belong to Indonesia.
Andreas Harsono A measles outbreak in Indonesia's Papua province has killed an estimated 100 indigenous Papuan children this month. As measles is easily prevented with a safe and inexpensive vaccine, these deaths should never have happened.
The death toll underscores the Indonesian government's neglect of Papuans' basic health rights. The government blames these deaths, clustered in remote Asmat regency, on the nomadic lifestyle of Papuans there. But it has not explained why Asmat children were left out of national vaccination programs for measles and other deadly childhood illnesses.
Asmat, like many areas in Papua, lacks adequate healthcare services for its residents and has a serious doctor shortage. In my frequent travels throughout Papua and West Papua provinces over the past decade, I have routinely encountered clinics without doctors and doctors who had no medicines. That health service deficit is especially pernicious given that the resource-rich region generates massive tax revenue for Indonesia's government, with the Freeport-McMoRan's Grasberg copper mine alone delivering US$600 million in taxes annually.
But health indicators suggest little of that money trickles back to indigenous Papuans. Papua has the lowest life expectancy in Indonesia and the highest infant, child, and maternal mortality rates. The government compounds its health delivery inadequacies by severely restricting access of international nongovernmental organizations to Papua. They include groups that provide much-needed healthcare services, such as the Dutch aid organization Cordaid. Those restrictions are related to a decades-long ban on access of foreign journalists and other independent observers to the region, the site of a low-level pro-independence insurgency, on overblown security reasons.
After visiting Papua last April, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Puras, said he was "concerned about the health status of ethnic Papuans," and called for greater government attention and resources to improve their health services. Although President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in December 2015 vowed to improve health care in Papua, his government has focused almost exclusively on physical infrastructure investment in the region.
To prevent the deaths of more children, Indonesia's health ministry should set up an effective vaccination program in Papua. Additionally, the government should recognize that international organizations and allowing media to freely report in Papua will bolster official efforts to identify and address gaps in Papua's public health delivery systems. Asmat's indigenous children should be neglected no longer.
The number of malnutrition victims in Asmat district of Indonesia's Papua province has reportedly surpassed 10,000.
Papua's police commander, Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar has told the Antara news Agency that the number could be as high as 15,000.
While his figures have been disputed by Indonesian officials in Jakarta, there is growing concern over the health crisis in Asmat.
The district, or regency, has a parallel measles outbreak which has killed around 60 children in the past few months. In various reports over the past two weeks, including those by AFP, Indonesian officials have linked the measles situation to malnutrition.
Mr Amar cited various factors driving malnutrition in the district, including its remoteness, lack of access to health facilities, poor transportation, and a lack of nutritious food.
He has called on the Police Headquarters to send its physicians to fill vacant posts at health centres in Asmat.
Papua police and military commands were reportedly establishing a health task force to map areas that are prone to the diseases.
Indonesia's military last week said it had deployed medical teams and support staff to supply Asmat villagers with medicine, vaccines, medical equipment and nutritious food.
According to the police chief, 2000-3000 vials of measles vaccine are needed.
Bindi Bryce Indonesia's Government has come under fire for its slow response to a severe measles outbreak in the province of Papua that has claimed the lives of dozens of children.
The disease was first reported in September last year and since then at least 59 children living in the remote Asmat region have died, leading to suggestions the Papuan people are being neglected by the Government.
"It is neglected in terms of health care, that's why problems keep on coming up, and there's crisis after crisis," said Human Rights Watch in Indonesia's Andreas Harsano.
Malnutrition among Papuan children is common and combined with low rates of vaccination, containing the outbreak is proving challenging. Mr Harsano said Papua was not being afforded proper health services.
"I have seen this myself, there are no doctors or nurses, I have seen this for more than a decade," he said. "They should open up Papua to international assistance."
With health services crowded by families of sick children, local church leaders warned many more lives were on the line.
The alarming number of deaths in Asmat has also led to outrage in local Indonesian media.
A strong editorial in the Jakarta Post newspaper accused the Government of caring more about the province's rich natural resources than the Papuan people themselves. But Jakarta defended its response and said the remote area was difficult to access quickly.
"Yes we have very limited means and staff but this doesn't mean we aren't trying very hard," Agats health department spokesman Steven Langi told Al Jazeera.
"What we need is not just to be criticised, but real help. Those who criticise us I want to invite to work here."
Indonesia's Government announced it was setting up a taskforce in Papua to help contain the outbreak and the Indonesian military said it was also sending more medicine and doctors to the province.
Mr Harsano said authorities need to learn from the crisis in Asmat. "I wish the Indonesian Government could use this opportunity to listen, we've been talking about this for years, more than a decade in fact," he said.
Jakarta Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi has expressed his support for Aceh Besar Regent Mawardi Ali's decision to require female cabin crew members of airlines to wear hijab on routes destined for provinces that observe sharia.
Sultan Iskandar Muda Airport, the main airport of Aceh province, is located in Aceh Besar regency.
"I think it's a good idea because it's part of sharia and is only in Aceh. I support it," Budi said in Jakarta on Wednesday as reported by Antara.
Previously, Mawardi had sent letters to all general managers of airlines flying to Aceh asking them to require female cabin crew members to wear hijab.
The letters had been sent on Jan 18 and went viral on social media earlier this week. Budi Karya, however, stressed that the regulation would only be applied in Aceh, and not in other Indonesian regions.
Meanwhile, Lion Group, which controls Lion Air, Batik Air and Wings Air, had expressed its readiness to fulfill the requirement.
Lion Group corporate communication Ramditya Handoko said each airline under the group would prepare special attire for female cabin crew members at Sultan Iskandar Muda Airport and other airports where the airlines have routes to Aceh.
"We will prepare the attire at the airports. Our crew members can change their uniforms at the airports. We respect the regulation introduced by the regional administrations," Ramditya added, as reported by kompas.com. (bbn)
An Indonesian province said Tuesday it is ordering Muslim female flight attendants landing in the region to don a hijab upon arrival or face punishment by religious police.
Muslim women in Aceh, on the island of Sumatra, are required to wear the Islamic headscarf under religious law, while non-Muslim females can opt to wear modest clothing instead.
But some Muslim flight attendants who do not regularly wear the hijab were skipping the local practice during short layovers, forcing Aceh to issue the new regulations, said Mawardy Ali, head of Aceh Besar district which includes provincial capital Banda Aceh.
"I hope the airlines respect the uniqueness of Aceh where Sharia (Islamic law) is implemented," he told AFP, adding that he would aim to meet with some half dozen affected airlines this week.
"We are disseminating this regulation to the airlines through the end of this week. Later, we'll talk about punishment if we find there have been violations," Ali added.
"If a (Muslim) crew member fails to comply, we will reprimand her. If she does it repeatedly, I will order Sharia police to nab her."
He did not say what sort of punishment would apply to those who refused to comply, though hijab violations usually result in a stern reprimand.
Ali said any sanction would not include public flogging a common punishment in Aceh for a host of crimes including selling alcohol and having gay sex. It was unclear how many flight attendants could be affected.
Many women in Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation, do not wear the hair-covering scarf and Islamic law only applies in Aceh the region won special autonomy in 2001 as part of a deal to end a long-running separatist insurgency.
Concern has been growing among rights activists about rising religious conservatism in Aceh, where police at the weekend forcibly cut the hair of a group of transgender women and made them wear male clothing to make them more "manly".
Indonesia's national carrier Garuda and its low-cost arm Citilink service Banda Aceh, which hosts the province's main airport.
Garuda said it would comply with the new regulations and may add a special uniform worn by its female staff on Middle-East bound flights which includes the hijab to Aceh flights. "Garuda respects the local culture in Aceh," said company spokesman Ikhsan Rosan.
Citilink spokesman Benny Butarbutar, meanwhile, said the carrier has already been using an Islamic-compliant uniform for its attendants servicing Banda Aceh since 2015.
Other airlines affected include Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air and its full-service subsidiary Batik Air, which operate regular flights between Aceh and other parts of the Southeast Asian archipelago.
AirAsia and Firefly, both Malaysia-based, are the main foreign carriers that operate flights to Banda Aceh.
Shannon Power Trans women in Indonesia's Aceh province are trying to flee after police detained a group of women and forcibly cut their hair.
Locally known as Waria, 12 trans women were rounded up by local police and civilian vigilantes at the weekend. They were forced to wear men's clothes and their hair was cut against their will.
Police Untung said the women will remain in detention so they can be coached 'until they really become men'. The five salons have either been shut down, received police warnings or been the target of attacks from the public.
Aceh is the only province that is allowed to practice strict Islamic Sharia Law. LGBTI people have been increasing targets of police and vigilantes there in the past 12 months. But after the weekend's mass arrests, many trans women are now hoping to flee Aceh.
'As I am writing you this now, tens of Waria are being detained and had to face major harassment by police and mob in Northern Aceh,' an Aceh local said. The local's name has been kept confidential for security reasons.
'Their main livelihood, which is hair salon, is being shut down by force. Their hair was cut short, they were instructed to roll on the ground, verbal abuse and so on.
'Due to this situation, right now a group of Waria friends is evacuating to a neighboring province.'
The women are leaving Aceh with little preparation and no viable source of income.
We are raising money to help other trans women from the area who have had to flee to another province. If you can donate, please DM me. ??? Nic Holas (@nicheholas) January 29, 2018
Human rights groups condemned the actions of police in Aceh. 'The raids on beauty salons are just the latest example of the authorities arbitrarily targeting transgender people simply for who they are,' said Amnesty Indonesia's Executive Director Usman Hamid.
'Despite them having committed no crime, Aceh has become an increasingly hostile place for LGBTI people.
'Cutting the hair of those arrested to 'make them masculine' and forcing them to dress like men are forms of public shaming and amount to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, in contravention of Indonesia's international obligations.
'This is part of a long-standing pattern of harassing and discriminating against LGBTI people in the region that must stop immediately.
'The police's so-called 're-education' of transgender people is not only humiliating and inhumane, it is also unlawful and a clear breach of their human rights. Such incidents must be promptly and effectively investigated.'
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Aceh's anti-LGBT policies have generated harsh criticism from the international community.
In December last year 12 trans women were followed and detained by 'militant Islamist vigilantes'. Last year's arrest and lashings of two men in the early twenties was Indonesia's first public caning for homosexuality.
'This is just the latest incident in which Indonesian police have openly collaborated with Islamists to unlawfully target LGBT-related spaces and people,' HRW said.
'These raids have targeted everything from lesbian-owned houses to private gay clubs. Last year, more than 300 LGBT people were apprehended in police raids across Indonesia.'
'The situation in Aceh is foreboding. Indonesia's National Police Commission should start an investigation into the incident, including the role of Sangaji.'
Indonesia's Waria face many barriers because they violate cultural rules about gender.
Waria struggle to get work, stay in school, or open a bank account because the gender listed on their identification cards does not match their gender presentation.
Jakarta Rights group Amnesty International Indonesia has lambasted the arrest of 12 transgender women in Aceh and called for discrimination against members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community to end.
"The latest raids on beauty salons are just the latest example of the authorities arbitrarily targeting transgender people simply for who they are. Despite them having committed no crime, Aceh has become an increasingly hostile place for LGBTI people," Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid said in a statement on Monday.
North Aceh police, together with religious police officers, made the arrests during crackdowns on six salons in the towns of Lhoksukon and Pantonlabu over the weekend. The police shaved the arrested women's heads and forced them to wear men's clothing so they would look masculine. Police officers also made them shout to make their "male voice" come out.
"The police's so-called 're-education' of transgender people is not only humiliating and inhumane, it is also unlawful and a clear breach of their human rights. Such incidents must be promptly and effectively investigated," Usman said.
Usman called on the authorities to stop such attacks immediately and guarantee that all people in Aceh were treated equally before the law. He also reiterated that the police force had a duty to protect everyone, not to humiliate and violate people's rights.
Under its Islamic-based bylaw called qanun jinayat, Aceh is the only province in Indonesia where consensual same-sex relations are considered a crime. However, the House of Representatives is currently deliberating a Criminal Code bill that may expand sodomy laws, which currently only refer to pedophilia, to include consensual homosexual intercourse. (kmt)
Andreas Harsono Indonesian police and Sharia (Islamic law) police jointly raided five hair salons owned by transgender women in Aceh province on Saturday. They arrested 12 waria, or trans women, forced them to strip off their shirts, and cut their hair in public. The waria remain detained as of Tuesday morning in Aceh.
Immediately following the raids, North Aceh Police Chief Untung Sangaji addressed a crowd that had gathered. "Our ulama [Muslim scholars] disagree with this disease. [This disease] is spreading," he said, according to a phone recording posted to YouTube. "It's inhumane if Untung Sangaji is to tolerate these sissy garbage." He said he would take action not only against the trans women but also any visitors to their salons, adding that he decided to work with the wilayahtul hisbah (Sharia police) after he received complaints from area Muslim clerics. The Sharia police in Aceh have a well-documented history of targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
Aceh is the only one of Indonesia's 34 provinces that can legally adopt bylaws derived from Sharia. In 2014, Aceh's parliament passed the Islamic criminal code, which includes discriminatory offenses that are not crimes elsewhere in Indonesia. Consensual sex between two people of the same sex, for example, is punishable in Aceh by up to 100 lashes.
Aceh's anti-LGBT policies have generated international opprobrium. Last May's public flogging of two gay men in Aceh Indonesia's first public caning for homosexuality sparked outrage far beyond Indonesia's borders. In 2016, United Nations experts expressed concerns to Indonesia's government about the abusive enforcement of Sharia against Aceh's LGBT people.
This is just the latest incident in which Indonesian police have openly collaborated with Islamists to unlawfully target LGBT-related spaces and people. These raids have targeted everything from lesbian-owned houses to private gay clubs. Last year, more than 300 LGBT people were apprehended in police raids across Indonesia.
The situation in Aceh is foreboding. Indonesia's parliament is deliberating a new criminal code, the current draft of which would criminalize consensual sex between two unmarried persons, in effect making all same-sex conduct illegal.
The North Aceh police should immediately and unconditionally release the 12 trans women and Indonesia's National Police Commission should start an investigation into the incident, including the role of Sangaji.
Shannon Power A group trans women arrested in Indonesia fought and cried as police arrested them in the north western province of Aceh.
They were then paraded to a public area where they had their heads shaved and were forced wear men's clothes. This happened inn front of a large group of people who filmed the incident on their smartphones.
Aceh is the only province in Indonesia that is allowed to practice Islamic Sharia Law.
The 12 trans women were arrested at six local salons in the early hours of Sunday morning. Local police and civilian vigilantes arrested the women as part of a 'Operation of Community Disease'.
Police Chief Ahmad Untung Surianata said the women will be held at the police station to undergo training 'until they really become men'.
'In addition, the officers also nurtured them by way of having them run for some time and telling them to chant loudly until their male voices came out,' Untang said according to state news agency Antara.
North Aceh Police Head of Operations Kompol Edwin Aldro said the trans women would be returned to their families once they completed their 'training'.
'There are about six salons that we raided in Lhoksukon and Pantonlabuukon and Pantonlabu,' Aldro told Serambinews.com.
'Then the officers detained 12 trans women at the police station in Utara for us to do coaching. They will stay detained and after they finish the coaching they will be returned to their families.
'Their hair was trimmed an officer, because it's long. While this happened they said their gender identity female, so we tidied (their hair).'
Police Chief Untang said the raids had the blessings of influential local Islamic scholars.
'In principle, the scholars support this effort,' he told Kompas.com. 'The expression of men dressed like women needs serious attention.'
Untang said the raids were carried out to prevent the increase of LGBTI people in Aceh, which he considered to be dangerous to the future generations.
It is understood police found pornography on the trans women's phones and plan to charge them under Indonesia's anti-pornography laws.
The salons where the women were arrested received police warnings. A number of the trans women's parents told police their children had been 'seduced' by the salons.
'These mothers came to crying to me,' Untang said. 'They said their sons (sic) were given free treatment at the salon, and were seduced by the transgender. This is not good and we must be disciplined. I hope we can curb the disease of this society.'
In December last year 12 trans women were followed and detained by 'militant Islamist vigilantes' as described by Human Rights Watch (HRW). Police detained the women detained for 24 hours and released them the next day.
The arrests of two men in the early 20s for homosexuality last year gained international attention after they were sentenced to 82 lashes.
While transgenderism and homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia there has been a recent crackdown on the LGBTI community. LGBTI people have been the targets of police raids and surveillance and vigilante action.
Indonesian police forcibly cut the hair of a group of transgender women and made them wear male clothing, authorities said Monday, amid a crackdown on the LGBT community in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation.
The incident happened after police on Sunday raided several beauty salons in conservative Aceh province and rounded up a dozen transgender employees over claims they had teased a group of boys. Police accused the employees of violating the province's religious laws.
Dozens of locals tried to attack the group of beauticians as they were hauled off to the police station, but they were pushed back by authorities, they said.
Police then lopped off some members' long hair with scissors as well as forcing the group to wear male clothing and speak in a masculine voice.
"We have reports from mothers that their sons were teased by the transgender women," local police chief Ahmad Untung Surianata told AFP Monday. "Their numbers are growing here I don't want that," he added. Aceh on Sumatra island has been ruled by Islamic law since it was granted special autonomy in 2001 an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.
This month a Christian was publicly flogged for selling alcohol in the conservative region, making him only the third non-Muslim in Indonesia to suffer a public whipping.
Flogging is a common punishment under Aceh's religious law and local police are also known to shave the heads of those accused of anti-social behaviour.
The transgender women would be detained for several days followed by a five-day "training" regimen including efforts to make them walk and speak in a more "manly" way, as well as "morals teaching" by local clerics, police said.
"We want to change their mentality so they can be better people," Surianata said.
Homosexuality and gay sex are legal everywhere in Indonesia except in Aceh. But police have often used the country's tough anti-pornography legislation to criminalise members of the LGBT community, and there have been a recent string of arrests.
Prejudice against transgender people has long been widespread in Indonesia but the discrimination is particularly acute in Aceh where Islamic law rules.
"It's very strange that officers (in Sunday's incident) would arrest innocent people and cut off their hair," said gay rights activist Hartoyo, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. "It's barbaric."
Mukhlis, Lhoksukon, Aceh Early on Sunday police and wilayatul hisbah (WH, sharia police) detained 12 transgender women (waria) from a number of beauty salons in North Aceh regency in a 'Community Disease Operation'.
When contacted on Sunday in Lhoksukon, North Aceh district police Chief Assistant Superintendent Ahmad Untung Surianata said that the detained transgender women had been taken from five salons spread across the Lhoksukon and Panton Labu sub-districts.
"They are salon workers and clients, currently we are holding them at the district police headquarters. The transgender women will undergo training until they become real men", said Surianata.
After arriving at the district police headquarters, said Surianata, they were placed in one group, both those detained from salons in Lhoksukon as well as those from Panton Labu. Their hair was shaved and they were given men's clothing.
"In addition to this, officers also trained them by ordering them to run for a period then making them to chant as loudly as they could until their male voices came out", said Surianata.
Surianata said that the operation was to combat the growth in the population of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Aceh who it is believed will have had a negative impact on the nation's next generation. The operation received the blessing from ulama (Islamic scholars).
Another source at the North Aceh district police said that the transgender women tried to fight back and cried as they were taken to the police headquarters. Police officers also found pornographic videos on their mobile phones and other material evidence.
While the transgender women were taken to the district police headquarters for further training, the five salons where they were arrested in Lhoksukon and Panton Labu have been sealed off by police.
Andreas Harsono U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was seen laughing and smiling this week as he watched a military exercise in Jakarta in which Indonesian troops drank snake blood, rolled in glass, broke bricks with their heads, and walked on fire. The spectacle would hardly be amusing, however, to anyone familiar with the Indonesian military's human rights violations, especially the record of its special forces unit, Kopassus.
Mattis's visit was part of U.S. efforts to improve military cooperation with Indonesia. During his stay he discussed with Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu plans to resume U.S. assistance to Kopassus. Assistance to the unit had been halted in large part because of the U.S. "Leahy Law," which bars US assistance and training to foreign military units known to have committed gross human rights abuses, unless the government has taken steps to remediate, address the abuses, and hold those responsible to account.
The U.S. military first announced plans to re-engage with Kopassus in 2010, hoping to train newer "untarnished" soldiers, but in subsequent years remained reluctant to proceed, in part because Indonesia had largely failed to address past abuses.
There are a whole series of abuses to address. The U.S. government first imposed restrictions on military assistance to the Indonesian military and Kopassus in 1999, after the military committed massive rights abuses during its scorched earth campaign in East Timor. Kopassus members were also implicated in abductions and enforced disappearances of student activists in 1997-98, and the murder of the Papuan activist and leader Theys Eluay in 2001.
But other incidents have also occurred since then as well. In 2003, Human Rights Watch documented how Kopassus soldiers used torture during military operations in Aceh. In a 2009 report, Human Rights Watch documented Kopassus soldiers engaging in arbitrary detention and mistreatment of civilians in Merauke, Papua, suspected of involvement in Papua's independence movement. More recently, Kopassus has been involved in unlawful spying activities against Papuan civilians.
In an interview with journalists in Jakarta, Mattis suggested that Kopassus had reformed and removed abusive personnel from its ranks. But that is not the appropriate legal test for whether U.S. assistance can be resumed. As Senator Patrick Leahy said on January 23, "The question Secretary Mattis needs to answer is whether the Indonesian government has punished the Kopassus officers who ordered and covered up those horrific crimes, and whether members of Kopassus today are accountable to the rule of law."
The answer to both those questions is no.
To be sure, there have been some prosecutions that the government has trumpeted. A military court found 11 Kopassus soldiers guilty in the case of the kidnapping of student activists in 1998. The men were never jailed, however, and after an appeal almost all of them were allowed to remain in the military. Their commanding officers were never even tried.
Likewise, in 2003, a military court in Surabaya found seven Kopassus soldiers guilty in the death of Theys Eluay. But the men were sentenced to only two to three-and-a-half years in prison, and human rights groups can't even confirm that the men served their time. (At the time of their trial, Ryacudu, then the army chief, hailed the convicted soldiers as "Indonesian heroes" for killing a "rebel.") Notably, the troops' commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Tri Hartomo, was later promoted, now to lieutenant general, and heads Indonesia's military intelligence agency.
Many other Kopassus officers involved in abuses in East Timor, Aceh, and Papua, have never faced trial. One commanding officer, Prabowo Subianto, alleged to have led the 1983 Kraras massacre in East Timor where more than 300 people were killed, ran for president in Indonesia's last election and is now the leader of main political opposition party. Another officer, Muchdi Purwopranjono, was tried on charges relating to the 2004 poisoning and murder of Munir bin Thalib, a prominent human rights lawyer, but was acquitted.
To be sure, there have been overall improvements in the unit's record, with few current allegations of abuse today although that is primarily because there are no significant counterinsurgency operations underway in Indonesia as in past years. And in 2013, the military prosecuted 11 Kopassus soldiers for breaking into a prison and killing four detained civilians allegedly involved in a lethal bar fight with another Kopassus member.
But impunity for past abuses remains, and there has been little remediation of the unit's record. The fact that abusive personnel have retired or transferred out of Kopassus cannot be seen as progress, and it certainly should not be mistaken for justice.
Only when the Indonesian government shows that it is serious about punishing past abuses and creating a culture of accountability should the U.S. government consider allowing U.S. military assistance to resume. For now, to restore assistance to Kopassus is to reward Indonesia for doing nothing.
Sheany, Jakarta Roichatul Aswidah, former member of the National Commission on Human Rights, or Komnas HAM, said last week that efforts to boost the economy and strengthen national security must be based on principles of human rights.
"There are some basic principles that we cannot abandon, which we must always supervise, and that is the importance of making sure that there are no trade-offs, which is when rights are sacrificed to achieve something else," Roichatul said during a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday (25/01).
Roichatul is a senior researcher at the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam). She added that tendencies for trade-offs are high in the pursuit of economic growth and in the name of security. In both cases, civil rights are often neglected.
Under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Indonesia has embarked on an ambitious plan to improve infrastructure across the archipelago.
However, a recent report published by Elsam revealed that efforts to develop the country's infrastructure have been problematic, and included issues concerning human rights and corruption.
Roichatul also said that tendencies to use the state apparatus for political purposes, especially to gain popularity, are becoming commonplace in Indonesia and around the world.
"Is the death penalty used for the sake of popularity?... [When these things happen] violations of human rights become commonplace, and that's not even a trade off but solely for the sake of popularity, and that's extremely dangerous," Roichatul said.
The death penalty has never been removed from Indonesia's legal code, and will likely remain in the revised criminal code currently being discussed at the House of Representatives.
Furthermore, Roichatul emphasized that the instrument of law, according to the 1945 Constitution, should be used by the government to implement human rights in the country.
"However, if we're not careful, it can then become an instrument for violations [instead of instruments for protection]," she said.
As the Institute of Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) pointed out, the current draft reflects issues that must be addressed, including excessive punishments and an unclear distribution and framing of punishments, which many believe will result in overcriminalization.
"In developing revisions to the criminal code, the formula must always be based on criminalization as a last resort. It cannot be chosen before exploring other options," Roichatul said.
Jakarta Human rights violations committed throughout 2017 would likely continue this year, largely due to the government's failure to consider the rights of the people in deliberating certain laws, according to the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM).
The group has also accused law enforcers, such as police, prosecutors and judges, of neglecting human rights aspects in charging alleged perpetrators in specific cases.
ELSAM researcher Wahyudi Jafar said human rights violations that frequently occurred were related to conflicts between local residents and large oil palm plantations.
"In the 115 conflicts involving oil palm plantations that we recorded, 44 percent of the victims were civilians. As many as 37 people have been criminalized, 17 of whom are local farmers," he said, adding that most of these cases took place in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan.
ELSAM senior researcher Roichatul Awidah echoed Wahyudi's statement, emphasizing that laws were intended to protect people's rights. "What is happening today is [the use of] populist laws," she added.
"Instead of producing laws that are aimed at ensuring citizens' well-being, they [the House of Representatives and the government] deliberate laws containing controversial phrases or words only to raise their popularity," Roichatul said.
She referred to articles on adultery and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) community in the Criminal Code draft law currently being deliberated.
Roichatul said there was a "tug of war" of many parties' interests in every law deliberation, some of which were related to politics and infrastructure plans.
Civilians have always been the victims of a "law trade-off" and rarely benefit from the law, she added. (vla/ebf)
Yovinus Guntur in Banyuwangi, Indonesia An Indonesian court has convicted and sentenced an environmentalist to 10 months in prison on a charge of spreading communism by carrying a hammer-and-sickle banner at a protest last year.
The prosecutor at the Banyuwangi District Court, in East Java province, had sought a seven-year sentence for defendant 37-year-old Hari Budiawan (alias Budi Pego).
Communism has been outlawed in the country since the mid-1960s, when a bloody purge against suspected members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) occurred.
A panel of judges ruled on Tuesday that Budi was guilty of a charge against "those who publicly commit crimes verbally, written, or through other media, spread or develop communism, Marxism, Leninism in any attempt".
"The prosecution proved convincingly that the defendant committed a criminal offence against the state," chief judge Putu Endru Sonata ruled. "Therefore he must serve 10 months in prison."
On September 4, 2017, Budi was taken into custody and charged with carrying a banner that displayed communist symbols during an anti-mining protest in East Java in April 2017, causing public unrest.
The court ruled on the lesser sentence because the defendant had never been involved in criminal acts.
The banner's hammer and sickle logo the symbol of the liquidated PKI was important evidence leading to the conviction, Putu told BenarNews.
Budi expressed disappointment. "I am innocent and cannot accept the verdict," he said.
Lawyer Ahmad Rifai said the picture showing what looks like the PKI symbol on the banner could not be called a symbol of communism, adding that "the verdict has threatened democracy in Banyuwangi".
Budi has seven days to decide if he will appeal.
Herlambang P. Wiratraman, the chief of the Centre for Human Rights Law Studies at Airlangga University in Surabaya, agreed with Rifai. "The stigma of communism became the easiest tool to stop activists who resisted mining in Banyuwangi," he said.
Amnesty International (AI) Indonesia also condemned the verdict, calling Budi a prisoner of conscience. "This is a form of judicial repression against the constitutional rights of citizens to have opinions.
"A higher judicial authority" should immediately release Budi because he had "fought for the preservation of the environment and the rights of the people around Tumpang Pitu Mountain Protected Forest," AI Indonesia director Usman Hamid said in a written statement.
"The judge should protect fundamental rights, namely the right of expression guaranteed by the constitution" by releasing Budi, Usman said.
In September, after Budi was arrested, fellow activist Agnes Dave questioned the authenticity of the banner.
"Local police and residents were also there. If the activists made such a banner displaying the hammer and sickle, they would have been aware. Police could have stopped the protest and arrested anyone joining in," she said at the time.
While Budi was inside the courtroom learning his fate, hundreds of his supporters and anti-communist protesters gathered outside as police officers armed with a water cannon watched over them.
Members of the Anti-Communist Revival Movement (GAKK) said they supported the guilty verdict and sentencing.
"This is a proof that in Banyuwangi there is indeed a new style of communist revival," said H. Abdillah Rafsanjani, an organiser of the GAKK protests.
Communism was declared illegal in Indonesia after PKI sympathizers allegedly killed 62 members of Ansor, the youth wing of the largest Indonesian Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, on October 18, 1965.
Human rights organisations estimate that between 500,000 and 1 million Indonesians died during nationwide killings that targeted suspected PKI members in 1965 and 1966.
Banyuwangi An Indonesian environmentalist has been sentenced to 10 months in prison under a tough anti-communism law, a legacy of one of the darkest chapters in its history.
A court in East Java handed down the sentence on Tuesday (Jan 23) after finding Heri Budiawan, 38, guilty of spreading communism during a demonstration last year against the opening of a local gold mine.
Some protesters were seen carrying banners with an image of a hammer and sickle a widely-recognised symbol of communism during the protest and Budiawan was fingered as the rally organiser.
Three other banner-carrying protesters were also charged under the rarely-used law and are awaiting trial.
A change to the criminal code in the late 1990s made it illegal to spread communism or other leftist ideologies, with possible sentences of up to 12 years in jail.
"We are thoroughly dissatisfied with this verdict this is a threat to democracy and freedom of speech," Budiawan's lawyer Ahmad Rifai told AFP on Wednesday (Jan 24).
Indonesia had one of the world's biggest communist parties before massacres in the mid-1960s left some 500,000 dead, including party members and suspected leftists. The mass killings happened as dictator Suharto seized power.
During his 32-year rule, the government's official narrative was that the killings had been necessary to rid Indonesia of communism. Last year Indonesia's defence minister said suspected communists killed in the military-backed massacres "deserved to die".
Budiawan's lawyer said on Wednesday that his client and the other protesters did not make the banners and did not understand the hammer and sickle's link to communism.
Prosecutors had sought a seven-year prison sentence for Budiawan. "The prosecution proved convincingly that the defendant committed a criminal offence against the state," presiding judge Putu Endru Sonata told Banyuwangi district court on Tuesday.
Hundreds of anti-communist group members protested against Budiawan outside the court as the verdict was read on Tuesday.
Last year prosecutors sought a two-year prison term for a 24-year-old goat herder who uploaded a selfie of himself holding a framed picture of the hammer and sickle. His trial is continuing.
Also in 2017, three university students were suspended from school for selling books about communism, Marxism and Leninism.
Nicola Smith A young Indonesian woman has recounted how she tracked down a man who groped her on the street in broad daylight, in what has become one of the Muslim nation's most high profile "Me Too" moments.
Named only as Amanda, the 22-year-old told local media that she posted CCTV footage of a man on a motorcycle grabbing her breast while she was walking alone in the city of Depok, West Java, because she believed her complaint was not being taken seriously by the police, reports the Telegraph UK.
The clip went viral on social media and the suspect, 29, was subsequently arrested. "The police say my case is progressing quickly," said Amanda. "But I think it is only because I made it go viral. Sexual harassment happens all the time, but people including the police don't see it as a real problem."
Her bold decision to go public resonated in a country where grassroots women's movements are starting to spring up to fight back against widespread street harassment.
"It's an epidemic, and, unfortunately, at the moment, Indonesia has no legal protection for sexual harassment," Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, vice chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence Against Women told the New York Times in December.
"Women have to be brave to report it, and the police services here are not friendly towards victims," she said. "There's a lot of victim-blaming, like it is their own fault."
Amanda described how she had been en route to the train station on January 11 when a man drove up behind and violently groped her.
"He actually stopped next to me, grabbed me, and with his right hand accelerated his motorbike to get onto the main road. I screamed at him, but it was quiet there so no-one heard," she said.
The incident left her crying and shaking, but she still had the presence of mind to record his licence plate number and recover CCTV footage of the incident from a nearby property.
But despite her evidence, Amanda was passed from one police department to the next. "I felt disappointed," she said. "I thought my report would probably not get processed. So I went to an Instagram account with lots of followers, @InfoDepok, and asked them to help my case go viral," she said.
Her case was solved when a different police unit saw her video and found the culprit. She was given the chance to confront him at the station but "he just kept going around in circles," she said. "He said he had made a mistake because he was stressed."
She had decided to press charges but not out of revenge. "I want this to be a deterrent for other potential harassers... I want them to see that they can't just go around grabbing anyone they want," she said.
Jessi Carina, Jakarta Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) President Said Iqbal continues to heap praise on Jakarta Deputy Governor Jakarta Sandiaga Uno.
Uno was visiting the Kalisari RW03 administrative district in East Java on Sunday January 28 to meet with local residents. Iqbal also lives in the area.
In giving his greetings to Uno, Iqbal invited the residents to shout out a slogan that had already been prepared.
"If I say 'Pak Wagub' [Mr Deputy Governor], [you] say 'Advance the city, advance the city, advance the city'", said Iqbal, to which residents immediately responded.
Said praised Uno as a smart person and overseas graduate saying that Uno is a person who has an open heart.
He also referred to Uno as one of the richest people in the country. As he made jokes Iqbal said that Uno could sign [and endorse] proposals from residents.
"He's a really great person right, really great. He'll sign any and all proposals [from residents]", said Iqbal.
"We pray for Pak Sandi and Pak Anies [Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan] that they will not be corrupt. That they can bring prosperity to Jakarta's residents without having to get angry", he added.
His praise didn't stop there, with Iqbal also lauding a move by the Jakarta provincial government to defend pedicab drivers which, according to Iqbal, are not second-class citizens.
Iqbal said he hoped that the Jakarta provincial government's annual budget, which will be as high as 77.1 trillion rupiah, can be used for programs that will side with Jakarta's poor.
"Many smart people come to power with promises of being able to improve the future for ordinary residents. But not many people have a sense of concern and love for the little people", he said.
Only two months ago in November, Said Iqbal publicly berated Baswedan and Uno as "liars" saying that workers who backed them had been "used" and that they prioritised the interests of employers over workers after Baswedan reneged on an election promise to use the 2003 labour law to set the 2018 minimum wage rather than a 2015 government regulation which ties annual wage rises to inflation and productivity. See See http://www.asia-pacific-solidarity.net/southeastasia/indonesia/indoleft/2017/kompas_saidiqbalnowsaysahokwasab_021117.htm.
Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta Amid widespread reports of legal persecution under the draconian Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, a district court in Poso, Central Sulawesi, has set a precedent by ruling in favor of the defendant in a highly publicized defamation case.
The case concerned a libel suit that Tojo Una Una Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Bagus Setiyono had brought against anti-corruption activist Mohammad Aksa Patundu over a Facebook post.
The judicial panel of Ahmad Erya, Jusdi Formawan and Beni Lipu at the Poso District Court ruled in favor of defendant Aksa and ordered his immediate release from detention.
"The court finds the defendant not guilty," the judges read out the verdict on Monday, adding that it had been proven that Aksa had not committed a defamatory act.
Aksa, head of the Tojo Una-Una Corruption Watch, was accused of committing libel in his July 5, 2017 Facebook post titled "Investigation to project own by rogue officers at the Tojo Una Una Police", which garnered many comments. Commenting on his own post, Aksa wrote, "We need to focus. I heard that the police chief is allegedly involved."
Earlier, Aksa had filed a complaint against the Tojo Una-Una police chief with the Central Sulawesi Police's internal affairs division, alleging Bagus had abused his power in connection with local projects worth billions of rupiah.
The police chief struck back by accusing Aksa of violating the ITE Law of 2016 in his Facebook post. Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) expressed its appreciation for the verdict.
"SAFEnet thanks all parties involved, including the language expert witness, media and Tojo Una-Una and Central Sulawesi residents that have given their full attention to the case, so Mohammad Aksa could stand trial with his head held high," the group said in a press statement on Tuesday. (rin)
David Lipson As Indonesia prepares for provincial elections, a moderate Muslim mayor is refusing to bow to hard-line Islamist clerics who insist he has taken his town down a sinful path.
Dedi Mulyadi has built dozens of traditional Sundanese statues throughout Purwakarta, about 90 kilometres from Jakarta, in what his critics say is in "opposition to Islam".
It is a district that is 99 per cent Muslim, according to a 2013 poll, and many constituents see the statues as a form of iconography. But Mr Dedi, or Kang Dedi as he is known in the local dialect, is confident he can prevail in the upcoming gubernatorial elections.
"The biggest challenge I face in being elected [as Deputy Governor] is people who exploit religious issues," he said. "[My opponents] can't find any weakness to attack me, other than religion."
In the hunt for votes and good press, Mr Dedi drives a golf buggy around town, waving to constituents and pressing the flesh.
He meets a bamboo-seller, who complains about his sick wife and the lack of basic government health cover. Mr Dedi responds with cash, handing the man five times what the entire stash of bamboo is worth and then leaves it behind to be sold to another buyer.
"[Generosity] comes naturally to me," he laughs. "I often do things like that when I am travelling around the region. I find problems and I solve them."
There is a bigger problem brewing at a nearby mosque, where cleric Asep Jumaludin is giving his Friday sermon.
"If you wrongly choose a leader you have committed sin," he tells the congregation. "God has said that Muslims should not elect an infidel to be leader."
Outside, he makes it clear he was talking about Mr Dedi. "Purwakarta was an Islamic region before, but now it's become the city of statues, in opposition to Islam," he says. "[Dedi] once said the sound of a flute is more beautiful than recitals of the Quran. That's blasphemy."
Jakarta's former Governer Basuki "Ahok" Purnama was jailed last year for blasphemy after mass protests by Islamists brought the capital to a standstill. Some fear that tactic is now being replicated in provincial elections, as a test run for the presidential runoff next year.
"Many leaders use these primordial sentiments to make sure they've got support," Philips Vermonte from the Jakarta based Centre for International Studies said. "For them this is a very important election. They have to win."
Mr Vermonte said the big political parties are already thinking about 2019, where President Joko Widodo is again expected to face former military strongman Prabowo Subianto. Most observers are expecting a dirty campaign.
Jakarta Indonesian authorities are preparing measures to prevent vote-buying and corruption as the 2018 simultaneous regional elections draw near.
These measures will largely be in the hands of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), which is mandated by the 2011 Election Organisers Law to prevent violations and sanction those found guilty of illicit activities such as vote-buying.
Bawaslu commissioner Mochammad Afifuddin has vowed to strengthen the agency's cooperation with several agencies, such as the National Police and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK), in tackling violations.
"These institutions will work based on their authority in preventing money politics. For example, the PPATK will help us track suspicious bank accounts," Afifuddin told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday (Jan 24).
Bawaslu has also raised the possibility of working with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in a program that would launch before voting day.
"We have yet to sign any MoUs (memorandum of understanding) as we're still talking about how we can implement those (preventive) measures together. Hopefully, we can reach an agreement before the campaign period in mid-February," Afifuddin said.
The KPK has a limited role in preventing both vote-buying practices and graft during the elections, as it only has the authority to investigate alleged corruption committed by state officials which may include incumbents using regional budgets for vote-buying. As such, the anti-graft body has vowed to keep their eyes on this year's incumbents.
"With regard to the upcoming elections, we will be looking out for potential graft involving regional budgets, of which the incumbents are in charge," the KPK's deputy for prevention Pahala Nainggolan told the Post, adding that the commission would also examine each candidate's wealth report, as they could show indications of illicit practices.
Each candidate is required to submit his or her wealth report to the General Elections Commission upon registering for the election. As of Wednesday evening, more than 1,120 candidates had submitted their wealth reports to the anti-graft body.
Bawaslu has intensified its preventive measures by revising a regulation last year that would allow it to crack down on vote-buying practices up until voting day. The agency previously had until 60 days before election day to investigate alleged violations.
Concerns over vote-buying reappeared recently when businessman La Nyalla Mattalitti alleged that Gerindra Party chief patron Prabowo Subianto had asked him to pay 40 billion rupiah (S$3.9 million) in return for the party's endorsement for his gubernatorial bid in East Java.
The party has denied the accusation, saying it never asked candidates to pay what is widely known as mahar politik (political dowry). La Nyalla later retracted his claim, but not before Bawaslu launched its investigation into the matter.
"We have summoned him three times for questioning, but he failed to respond each time. We will pass the case on to the (regional elections) law enforcement unit, which has the authority to investigate," Afifuddin said.
The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) founder Megawati Soekarnoputri has expressed hope that a theatrical performance staged for her 71st birthday celebration would help guests, including President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, in refreshing their minds from the challenges of the 2018-2019 political years.
At the opening show on Tuesday, Megawati said, "I hope this performance will help us forget a little bit about this political year, which will perhaps be full of tension."
She also conveyed a special message to Jokowi and other politicians in the audience, saying that it was truly worth taking the time to watch the play, directed by renowned stage actor and comedian Butet Kertaradjasa.
"For Pak [Mister] President, tell your adjutants not to be in a hurry so you and the others [...] can relax [your] minds. So, when the time comes for us to take up the fight, we will fight well to win our democracy," said Megawati.
The PDI-P matriarch was referring to this year's simultaneous regional elections and next year's concurrent presidential and legislative elections, during which political parties would form alliances in pushing for their candidates.
The play takes its name, Satyam Eva Jayate, from Sanskrit, and means "only truth will triumph".
In addition to the President, Vice President Jusuf Kalla and other distinguished guests also attended the premiere show, including former vice president Try Sutrisno, State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Budi Gunawan and Golkar politician Agum Gumelar.
Several Cabinet ministers from the PDI-P also attended the show, including Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani, who is also Megawati's daughter, and Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly. (ebf)
Jakarta Saiful Mujani Research Consulting (SMRC) stated that the electability of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) for the 2019 presidential election has improved based on a poll as of December 2017.
"The electability exceeds the 2014 general election result," said SMRC Executive Director Djayadi Hanan on Thursday, January 25. PDIP's electability significantly improved from 18.95 percent in the 2014 elections to the current 27.6 percent.
The reason behind the high electability is driven by the public's positive perception towards President Joko Widodo (Jokowi). Djayadi reasons that the party's electability depends on President Jokowi's performance.
According to Djayadi, the poll held earlier this month that involved 1,220 respondents reflects the public's satisfaction towards President Jokowi's performance. However, political parties can still improve their electability during this year's simultaneous regional head elections.
Political parties with electabilities under 4 percent such as the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the National Mandate Party (PAN) still has the chance to improve their electability.
The poll done by SMRC corresponds with the poll done by Lingkaran Survey Indonesia (LSI). LSI's poll from April 2014 to January 2018 suggest that the electability of PDIP and Golkar tend to improve for the 2019 presidential election.
Safrin La Batu, Jakarta Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara said on Wednesday that the government would use an artificial intelligence tool to crack down on websites containing fake news.
The government hopes the sophisticated software will help it curb the spread of hoaxes and false information ahead of regional elections to be held simultaneously in 171 provinces, regencies and cities on June 27.
Rudiantara said the tool would "crawl" websites, and once it detected a site with targeted content, it would notify the Association of Indonesian Internet Providers (APJI) to demand a closure. "The AI tool works [by searching websites] based on keywords," Rudiantara said.
The government says the measure aims to prevent damage caused by unverified news and misleading information that may hamper the implementation of the regional elections.
Elections conducted in 101 regions, including Jakarta, in February last year were marred with fake news spread on the internet, prompting the government to take extra precautions for this year's elections, including by stepping up efforts to combat hoaxes.
Rudiantara said the tool would only track down websites, not social media and messaging app platforms. "With regard to [hoaxes found in] social media and messaging apps, we will ask the platforms to block [such content]."
Earlier this year, the Communications and Information Ministry launched a web crawler software also equipped with artificial intelligence. The ministry said the machine, reportedly purchased for Rp 194 billion (US$14.5 million), would be used to find and block porn websites only. (ebf)
Safrin La Batu, Jakarta Nine social media and messaging app companies signed an agreement on Wednesday initiated by the government to combat fake news and hate speech on their platforms.
Jointly initiated by the Communications and Information Ministry, the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the General Elections Commission (KPU), the agreement aims to protect the country's people from unverified and misleading content that may spring up during the upcoming 2018 simultaneous regional elections and the concurrent presidential and legislative elections in 2019.
"This is our commitment. We are ready to put forth our maximum effort and capabilities to combat hoaxes and misleading information, which can result in hostility based on religion and ethnicity during the local elections," said Blackberry Messenger (BBM) Indonesia general manager Anondo Wicaksono, who read out the declaration signed by the platforms.
The nine platforms signing the agreement include: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, BBM, LINE, BIGO LIVE, Live.me Indonesia and meTube.
Representatives of Google, Facebook and Twitter did not attend the declaration, but Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara said the three platforms had agreed to join the declaration.
The elections of regional heads will be held simultaneously in 171 provinces, regencies and cities across Indonesia in June.
Local elections in 101 regions, including Jakarta, were marred with the spread of fake news via the internet earlier in February last year, prompting the government to take extra security precautions for this year's elections, including stepping up efforts to combat hoaxes.
"If the Bawaslu orders them to take down an account, they must do it. No more excuses," Rudiantara said. (ebf)
Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said he appreciated the work of the West Java Police's Special Crime Investigation Directorate personnel who had closed three companies suspected of disposing liquid waste into the Citarum River in Bandung regency.
He hoped the law enforcers could also sanction large companies that polluted the river.
"These [closures] are a form of law enforcement measures. We should appreciate it. This must be pushed forward so that large companies that have polluted the river can be sanctioned. We should appreciate good steps, not criticize them," said Ahmad in Bandung on Tuesday.
The police closed down three companies providing laundry services, namely Xpress Laundry, Ciharuman Laundry and Elvito Washing. The three companies were accused of disposing its liquid waste into the Citarum River without first processing it at wastewater treatment plants. The companies operated in Kampung Ciharuman and Kampung Parung Peusing in Jelegong village, Kutawaringin district, Bandung regency.
West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Agung Budi Marwoto said the three companies had allegedly disposed of liquid waste as well as dangerous toxic waste substances from its business activity.
The companies were closed down after an investigation jointly conducted by the police and the Bandung Environment Agency on Jan.15. The police confiscated various chemical substances.
"The suspects, who are the owners of the companies, have not yet been detained because we are still waiting for the result of laboratory tests to identify the potential impact of the substances that are disposed of in waterways without being processed first," said Agung. (ebf)
Dessy Sagita, Jakarta Chain-smoking Indonesia is moving to stub out its booming e-cigarette sector, sparking criticism that the government is siding with giant tobacco firms at the expense of public health.
The Southeast Asian nation has one of the world's highest smoking rates some 65 percent of adult men smoke with a pack costing just $2.
Cigarette advertising is everywhere across the vast archipelago which once had the dubious distinction of being home to one of the world's youngest nicotine addicts a chain-smoking toddler who made global headlines in 2010.
Smoking cessation products are tough to find and Indonesia stands out as a key growth market for global tobacco firms increasingly shut out of countries with tough anti-smoking legislation.
Despite its tobacco-haven status, e-cigarette cafes have been popping up across Indonesia in recent years amid debate over their safety.
In response, Jakarta said it will impose a whopping 57 percent tax on non-tobacco alternatives starting this summer.
Hasbullah Thabrany, health expert and advisor for the National Commission on Tobacco Control, warned that while customs and excise law required the government to set taxes for such products, it was possible that authorities were using the levy to take sides. He added: "I do believe that the policy sides with the [tobacco] industry."
Rhomedal Aquino, spokesman for the Association of Indonesian Personal Vaporizers, told AFP: "We agree with a tax plan to control consumption, but a 57 percent duty is too high it will kill a growing industry." "It will make us look like a killing machine when we're not," he added.
E-cigarettes, which have gained popularity in the last decade, are handheld devices that heat up a nicotine-containing liquid so users can inhale the vapors. The early scientific consensus is that they are likely safer than conventional cigarettes for adults.
Indonesia's trade minister Enggartiasto Lukita set off a backlash from anti-smoking groups in November when he suggested tobacco farmers would be hurt by the fledgling industry, and that those turning to e-cigarettes also known as vaping should smoke regular cigarettes instead.
"We should turn vapers into conventional cigarette smokers," he said at the time.
The government's plans are not welcome news for IT worker Roy Iskandar, a heavy smoker-turned-vaper who is worried about looming price hikes. Iskandar turned to non-tobacco alternatives after numerous failed quitting attempts.
"If they impose such high taxes, people who feel healthier after quitting conventional cigarettes like me could relapse," the 38-year-old said.
Indonesia's customs office said it hopes the big tax hike will make e-cigaretttes unaffordable for children, while the health ministry said it is not sold on the argument that vaping is safe.
"E-cigarettes are just as dangerous and can be even more carcinogenic" than regular cigarettes, said senior ministry official Muhammad Subuh.
"We reject both conventional and electronic cigarettes it's better to quit smoking altogether. There is no such thing as 'less dangerous' when it comes to smoking."
Jakarta disputes claims the new policy puts economics ahead of public health. But tobacco is big business, contributing some $10.5 billion in taxes annually, while the vaping industry kicks in just $7.5 million, mostly through sales taxes.
Local brand Gudang Garam, which makes ubiquitous clove-infused cigarettes, is one of the country's biggest employers and the two brothers who own rival Djarum top the list of wealthiest Indonesians.
"This is not about siding with one business," Deni Sirjantoro, spokesman for the Indonesian Customs and Exise office, told AFP. "State income from the vaping sector is not as big as tobacco duties."
Cigarette duties vary with a top rate of 54 percent. But activists says some of the most popular brands are taxed at rates around 35-40 percent far less than the proposed 57 percent vaping duty.
"The tax on conventional cigarettes is not even that high," said Eqy Riqly, a manager at a vaping cafe in Jakarta.
Public health experts say cigarettes should be slapped with higher taxes, but they don't necessarily endorse switching to non-tobacco products.
Some worry that their "safer" image will create a new generation of nicotine addicts and act as a gateway to traditional smoking. "It is still an addictive substance," said Hasbullah Thabrany, a public health analyst at the University of Indonesia.
"This is going out of the frying pan into the fire. Imposing higher duties is the most effective method to control consumption people care more about losing money than losing their health."
Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta To mark Primate Day, which falls on Jan. 30, Animal Friends Jogja (AFJ), together with around 20 animal lovers and Yogyakarta-based ska band Shaggydog, staged on Tuesday an art performance entitled "Air Mata Topeng Monyet (The Tears of Topeng Monyet) in front of the Yogyakarta administration complex.
They urged Yogyakarta to immediately issue a regulation to ban topeng monyet (masked monkey) shows.
"Since 2015, we have asked the Yogyakarta administration to ban topeng monyet but no action has been taken as of today," said AFJ program manager Angelina Pane on Tuesday.
Angelina said topeng monyet must be banned because long-tailed macaques used in the shows could spread zoonotic diseases to humans.
"The result of a health assessment conducted by the Jakarta Animal Aid Network [JAAN] shows that 11.3 percent of long-tailed macaques used in topeng monyet shows suffer from tuberculosis," she said.
Angelina said topeng monyet shows had led to the rampant illegal hunting of long-tailed macaques in their habitat. Topeng monyet owners are also known for their poor treatment of the animals.
"Our investigation reveals that the long-tailed macaques undergo three to six months of training in a process that is very cruel," she said.
After being prohibited in Jakarta and West Java in 2014 and 2016, respectively, topeng monyet owners have moved their businesses to Yogyakarta. (ebf)
The cities of Tomohon and Langowan in North Sulawesi are currently in the global spotlight after campaigners from the organization Dog Meat-Free Indonesia released disturbing video footage showing dogs being bludgeoned and torched for their meat in the cities' live animal markets in recently.
The video sparked outrage globally for the perceived cruelty and the horrific treatment of animals in the markets (which also include cats, monkeys, and bats) and calls for Indonesian authorities to shut them down.
However, it appears that the highest-ranking government official in the province isn't convinced that there is anything wrong with the markets.
"I don't feel there's [any cruelty]. The market is called 'Extreme Market' because they sell meat from extreme animals like snakes, dogs, bats, and rats, which are unconventional. But the way they are butchered is neither cruel nor careless," North Sulawesi Governor Olly Dondokambey told Detik yesterday.
Olly added that eating these "extreme" animals is a local tradition. "It doesn't need to be stopped. Those who eat the animals are fine and healthy. What's worse is how people suck out and eat the brains of monkeys who had been freshly butchered in Jakarta, but that is never exposed," he said.
"The video became viral because [the campaigners] didn't present the information correctly. Everywhere people eat dogs, there are many in Korea and China."
In relation to monkey meat in Jakarta, there have been media investigations into the trade. One investigation by Merdeka found that there are places where meat from "extreme" animals are sold discretely, including monkey brain soup, which is believed by locals to have medicinal properties and able to enhance sexual performance.
Steve Jacobs Sickening footage has been released of animal cruelty at Indonesian markets where dogs and cats are bludgeoned and blowtorched to death.
The footage was captured by Dog Meat Free Indonesia, a coalition of animal welfare groups Animal Friends Jogja, Change for Animals Foundation, Humane Society International and Jakarta Animal Aid Network.
Thousands of dogs and cats, mostly stolen pets, are killed at the markets in North Sulawesi each week, Humane Society International (HSI) says.
Campaigners from the coalition filmed at two of Indonesia's 200 live-animal markets in the province Tomohon Extreme Market and Langowan Market to expose the brutality.
"It was like walking through hell," Lola Webber, Dog Meat Free Indonesia campaign co-ordinator, said. "The dogs huddled together in cages, trembling with fear as they watched others being killed around them, waiting their turn.
"The sight of absolute terror in their eyes, the thumping of the club as they were bludgeoned, their screams of pain, and the smell of burning hair and flesh were appalling and unforgettable."
Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for Humane Society International in Australia, said: "More than 1 million Australian tourists visit Indonesia every year.
"This footage serves as a warning to any Australians currently planning a holiday to the country: make sure you avoid these extreme markets to steer clear from animal cruelty and the associated health risks of Indonesia's dog meat trade."
About 80 per cent of the slaughtered animals are imported from other provinces, which is illegal under Indonesia's anti-rabies law that prohibits the movement of dogs across provincial borders, HSI says.
Dog Meat-Free Indonesia has launched a global campaign calling on the Indonesian government to end the slaughter, trade and consumption of dog meat. Indonesia's economy relies heavily on international tourism.
Bobby Fernando of Animal Friends Jogja said: "Most Indonesians don't eat dogs and cats, and this extreme cruelty tarnishes our global reputation.
"The tourist board's slogan of a 'Wonderful Indonesia' rings hollow when you've gazed into the eyes of a dog spattered with blood and shaking with fear."
Dog Meat-Free Indonesia reported that it had discovered that TripAdvisor listed "Tomohon Extreme Market" as "#7 out of 12 things to do in Tomohon".
In a letter to TripAdvisor, the coalition said: "On behalf of the millions of supporters represented globally by our organisations, we would like to express our horror at such a listing which trivializes the very serious nature of the animal suffering and cruelty involved at these markets as though it were for entertainment."
The coalition reported the company's reply as: "We have investigated the TripAdvisor listing page for Tomohon Extreme Market and concluded that it does not meet the standards set by our listings policy. As a result, we have permanently removed the listing from both our site and our app."
These disclosures come after Animals Australia revealed last year that Australians were unwittingly eating dog meat in Bali and supporting a racket that steals and brutally kills the animals.
The animal rights organisation shot distressing footage, showing dogs being cruelly captured and killed before their meat is served on the Indonesian island's beaches.
The Indonesia embassy in Canberra said it had taken note of the claims by Dog Meat Free Indonesia and would pass this information on to the relevant authorities in Indonesia.
"Indonesia's Criminal Code prohibits intentional and unnecessary harming of animals," said Sade Bimantara, spokesperson, counsellor/political affairs.
"Law number 18 of 2009 addresses animal welfare, including the requirement that measures are taken in the interest of animal welfare in relation to capture, husbandry, slaughter and transport.
"Provincial and city governments in Indonesia have been taking necessary measures to enforce the laws to prevent, deter and punish those responsible for animal cruelty.
"On the cases of animal mistreatment in the city of Bandung last year, the mayor has taken measures to review and reform the local zoo to create a better housing environment for the animals.
"In 2013, the government of Jakarta initiated a buy-back program to buy all the monkeys used as street buskers for about $90 each. The animals were then put in a one hectare animal shelter in Jakarta's Ragunan Zoo.
"On January 19, 2018, the police and local authorities of the city of Bandung raided a house used to slaughter dogs.
The authorities confiscated tens of frozen dog meat and are now questioning the operators of the slaughter house and owner of the house. The remains of the dogs will be given a burial."
Indonesia Tourism has been approached for comment.
Ryan Dagur Most Indonesian lawmakers want to criminalize homosexuality, according to a leading member of the country's parliament.
There is widespread support among legislators to make all same-sex sexual acts illegal, Bambang Sesatyo, the speaker of Indonesia's Lower House recently told ucanews.com.
Currently, homosexuality is only outlawed in Aceh province, which follows Sharia law. "All same-sex sexual relationships must be punished," Sesatyo said.
"A majority of those in political parties in the House and the government agree with this. It's only a matter of time when a law will be passed," he said, adding that legislators would want to make homosexual relations punishable by up to nine years in prison.
His comments follow a Constitutional Court ruling in December rejecting a petition by hard-line groups seeking to outlaw homosexuality.
The court said outlawing gay sex was a matter for lawmakers to decide. LGBT groups and human rights activists condemned Sesatyo's comments.
"How [can you] prosecute gay adults who engage in intimate acts on the basis of loving each other?" said Hartoyo head of a LGBT advocacy group called Suara Kita.
"There is no reasonable basis for refusing such relationships," said Hartoyo, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name.
Franciscan Father Peter C Aman, a moral theology professor at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta said although same-sex intercourse is forbidden by religion, it cannot be a reason for the state to impose legal sanctions against it.
"Sexuality exists in the private sphere associated with morality and will. [Same-sex intercourse] is a sin, but it is not for the state to look after people's sins," he told ucanews.com.
"The state should only step in if there are adverse effects on others, such as coercion, rape and other crimes," he added.
According to Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said lawmakers are bending to the will of religious extremists. "Whenever Indonesian LGBTs need protection and public support, the government shows its fears in the face of militant Islamists," he said.
The government and political parties must dare to say that sexuality is a private matter, he said.
Shannon Power It has been an unusual week in politics in Indonesia as major political parties clamor to prove they're not pro-LGBTI.
It comes after a sensational claim from Zulkifli Hasan, chair of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). He said parliament was getting ready to legalize same-sex marriage or pro-LGBTI laws.
'Currently in the Parliament they are discussing an LGBT law or same-sex marriage. There are already five political parties that approve LGBT,' he told Merdeka.
There has been increasing persecution of the LGBTI community since January 2016. A recent study also revealed about 90% of Indonesians who know what LGBTI means are 'threatened' by that community.
Therefore, it is highly unlikely the Indonesian parliament is set to pass any legislation that would improve the lives of LGBTI people.
In fact, House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo confirmed there was no draft same-sex marriage or pro-LGBTI Bills currently tabled. But Soesatyo openly condemned the LGBTI community for 'destroying the nation's morale'.
'Our spirit is in the discussion of the Criminal Code Bill in addition to rejecting LGBT, and there is an extension of the punishment of LGBT behavior,' he told Tribun News.
'Therefore, it is not only the abuse of minors but also the same kind of relationship that can be categorized as immoral behavior.'
Even the Vice President, Jusuf Kalla shared his thoughts about whether there homosexuality should be legalized in Indonesia.
'I do not know what kind of process is carried out in the House, but I do not think anyone would dare to legalize it in Indonesia,' he told Antara News.
'Yes, it is a reality that they exist as part of the society. However, it is a private business that does not need to be campaigned out or formally legalized.'
The political focus on the LGBTI community in the past week came after the Constitutional Court rejected a petition to amend the criminal code (KUHP) to make gay and premarital sex punishable by up to five years in prison.
But a House Commission is currently reviewing the KUHP and drafting a new version. The draft will be presented to the parliament on 5 February and may include criminal codes to outlaw same-sex relations.
Observers in Indonesia said political parties who have not called for the criminalization of the LGBTI people are now falling over themselves to prove they are not at all pro-LGBTI. Especially ahead of elections in 2019.
In a scathing editorial titled 'the politics of gay-bashing', The Jakarta Post said Zulkifli's comments were a calculated political move.
'Without giving details as to which political factions in the deliberation to amend the Criminal Code showed leniency toward the gay community, Zulkifli effectively backed them into a corner, as no faction wishes to be seen by the electorate as being weak on gay issues,' the editorial read.
'The strategy paid off handsomely, with all factions now reiterating their opposition to any efforts to legitimize the gay community.'
The editorial said that 'gaybashing' would intensify ahead of next year's elections as political parties use the LGBTI community to create a climate of fear.
'We appear to be witnessing the emergence of "Trumpism", where spinning hate is becoming the new norm in Indonesian politics. What a sorry state of affairs,' the editorial read.
Jakarta Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) Media Director Ade Armando said that the majority of Indonesian public is against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
This was revealed in an SMRC poll that was held on March 2016, September and December of 2017, which involved 1,220 respondents. The margin of error is said to be more or less 3.1 percent.
The poll shows that the majority of Indonesians consider LGBT as a threat. As 87.6 percent agree to this notion, meanwhile 10.8 percent think otherwise, while the rest did not answer.
Another of their findings is when issues of LGBT are linked to religious teachings. 81.5 percent of Indonesians view that LGBT tendencies are prohibited by their religion, while 8.6 percent think otherwise.
"This applies to all religion," said Ade in a discussion regarding LGBT at the SMRC headquarters in Cikini, North Jakarta, on Thursday, January 25.
The majority of people also reject any LGBT activities in their neighborhood and if it involves being a leader. "Around 80 percent object if their neighbor is an LGBT, and 90 percent of them would not accept it if a person of LGBT becomes a regent, governor, or president," said Ade.
However, 45.9 percent of respondents would be willing to accept it if a family member turned out to be gay, while 53.3 percent would reject the person. Other findings show that 57.7 percent of respondents believe that people in the LGBT community have the right to live in Indonesia.
Ahmad Faiz, Ibnu Sani
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta The majority of Indonesian people still perceive the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community negatively, but many of them believe its members deserve to live in Indonesia, says a study released on Thursday.
The survey, commissioned by Jakarta-based pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC), reveals 87.6 percent of over 1,200 respondents surveyed consider the LGBT community a threat, while 81.5 percent of them believe it is prohibited by religions.
However, 57.7 percent of the respondents, which comprise men and women of various religious backgrounds and ages living in various areas across Indonesia, said members of the LGBT community had the right to live as citizens.
"This is good news for those who believe in democracy and human rights. Although the majority say LGBT is prohibited, they believe this group of people can live in Indonesia. This finding shows there is tolerance here," SMRC media director Ade Armando said on Thursday.
Nearly 50 percent of those who believe the LGBT group is a threat say they would still accept family members whose primary sexual orientation was toward people of the same gender.
The survey found 45.9 percent of respondents would still consider LGBT relatives as part of their family, while the remaining 53.3 percent said they would not.
However, Ade admitted, there was still discrimination in public positions because over 80 percent of respondents said they could not accept LGBT mayors, governors or presidents. (ebf)
Jakarta Deputy House Speaker Taufik Kurniawan said the pros and cons on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) should be stopped. He assessed that it is useless.
"So if there is a conflict (on LGBT), we are just consuming energy (debating about it). It is clear and the boundary is obvious that it is not in accordance with the norms of religion and Pancasila," said Taufik in Parliament Complex, Jakarta, Wednesday.
Taufik considered any religion does not support the existence of LGBT deviant behavior, so that if there are people who encourage it then the people concerned are not religious. According to him the problem is not only on which fraction agree or not, but has become a universal problem that must be overcome.
"The time we want to repeat this stupidity again, it is not a matter of which fraction agrees and disagrees, but more than that, it is a universal matter," he said.
Vice Chairman of the central executive board of the National Mandate Pary (DPP PAN) asked the community to stop the pros and cons about LGBT and invite to solve the problem of rising rice prices, rice and salt imports that are still taken by the government as a policy.
House of Representatives Vice Chairman Fadli Zon said the religious Indonesian community must reject all forms of religiously banned deviations including the LGBT.
According to him, if there is one action related to decency and LGBT, then there must be punishment. "Especially if it is considered as something campaigned, contagious and multiply followers," he said.
Fadli Zon considered the situation is very dangerous, especially for parents who have small children.
Jakarta Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) Bambang Soesatyo supports the prosecution of Lesbian, Gay, bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) deviant behavior and is optimistic that it would be regulated in the Bill on Penal Code.
One of the examples is same-sex marriages that are made public and publicized. "This must be categorized as a criminal act and should be punishable. Hence, an article must be put in place that stipulates the prosecution of LGBT deviant behavioral violations," Soesatyo had noted in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Soesatyo revealed that he had met with interfaith leaders, and they had all voiced their opposition to the spread of LGBT behavior in society. The DPR speaker opined that the state should stop such deviant sexual behavior by formulating stringent rules. "I met with some interfaith leaders. They voiced the same concerns. The state should intervene in private spheres," he remarked.
Soesatyo, who is a Golkar Party politician, stated that Commission III of the DPR is still holding discussions on broadening the meaning of adultery and punishment for LGBT behavior.
According to the DPR speaker, various practitioners, religious leaders, and the government had been invited to discuss this matter, and it is expected that the draft of the Criminal Code will be completed before the DPR's term ends in 2019.
"We also invite practitioners of academics and experts, including those from the government, to participate in the discussion," he noted.
Members of the Working Committee on the Draft Law on the Revision of the Criminal Code from the PPP Faction Arsul Sani believes that the prosecution for LGBT should not be for their status as perpetrators but for the deviant behavior they exhibit in public.
Sani explained that the extension of the criminal section for LGBT is not only for same-sex relations but also for sexual relations involving the opposite sex.
"Deviant behavior exhibited in public is punishable not only for LGBT people but also for men and women. Men and women found kissing in public are punishable, as it amounts to pornography," Sani elaborated.
Sani stated that by expanding the same-sex offense article of the law, acts that are punishable are not only committed against minors but also adults, and all factions of the House support this move.
Jakarta Indonesia will not legally recognize the identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), Vice President Jusuf Kalla commented while speaking on the issue of the parliament's plan on regulating the LGBT.
"I do not know what kind of process is carried out in the House, but I do not think anyone would dare to legalize it in Indonesia," Kalla stated on Tuesday.
Although he does not deny the existence and behavior of LGBT in the country, Kalla thinks it is unnecessary for LGBT to be legalized in order to support the recognition of their identity.
"Yes, it is a reality that they exist as part of the society. However, it is a private business that does not need to be campaigned out or formally legalized," he added.
People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker Zulkifli Hasan has reportedly made a statement about five factions in the House that agreed to make a bill on LGBT.
Hasan's remarks triggered reactions from the public and legislators themselves. House of Representatives speaker Bambang Soesatyo denied any efforts to form a bill on LGBT.
However, the House of Representatives Commission III is discussing the Draft Law on Penal Code (Criminal Code), in which one of the articles discusses the extension of criminal prosecution against LGBT behavior.
"Our spirit is in the discussion of the Criminal Code Bill in addition to rejecting LGBT, and there is an extension of the punishment of LGBT behavior. Therefore, it is not only the abuse of minors but also the same kind of relationship that can be categorized as immoral behavior," Soesatyo explained.
Two Indonesian men have been arrested for allegedly uploading a video of themselves having sex to social media, police said Tuesday, amid a crackdown on the LGBT community in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation.
Police in Depok, a city in West Java province, arrested the men Saturday after a member of the public reported the "gay porn" video to authorities, police said.
"They have been arrested and detained," Depok police spokesman Putu Kholis Aryana told AFP. "We will apply the law on pornography and the electronic information and transactions (ITE) law."
Homosexuality and gay sex are legal everywhere in Indonesia except in conservative Aceh province, which is ruled by Islamic law. But police have often used the country's tough anti-pornography legislation to criminalize members of the LGBT community.
The electronic information law is also frequently used by public officials to bring criminal charges against people accused of making internet-based insults and defamation.
Saturday's arrests come against a backdrop of growing hostility towards Indonesia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Government officials, religious hardliners and influential Islamic groups have lined up to make anti-LGBT statements in public recently.
Last week, Indonesia's communications ministry requested that Google remove 73 LGBT applications, including dating services, from its Play Store and urged people to steer clear of apps that did not fit with social and cultural norms.
The community has also been targeted in a number of raids on "gay sex" parties in the country's two largest cities Jakarta and Surabaya.
Ten men were sentenced in December to two years in prison for taking part in what authorities called a "gay sex party" at a sauna.
Jakarta Andi Firmansyah, the man officially registered as the owner of a Ferrari California car with outstanding tax owing of Rp 364 million (US$27,227), has denied that the car belongs to him, claiming that someone may have misused his lost ID card.
"I really have no idea about the car. I've never even seen the car and was shocked to learn the news about it had gone viral," Andi told kompas.com on Monday.
He claimed that he had lost his ID card twice within the past five years, during which time someone may have used it when officially registering the car with the authorities.
"I lost it twice, the first was around five years ago and the [second time] was three years ago in Europe, when I went there with a friend," claimed Andi.
The news about the car broke recently when officials from the West Jakarta Vehicle Document Registration Center (Samsat), which has intensified its efforts to hunt recalcitrant tax payers, discovered after carrying out an inspection of Andi's address that it would be almost impossible for him to own the luxury car, because the house was located in a narrow alley in a densely populated area in Palmerah, West Jakarta and locals said that they had never seen Andi with the car nor believed he could own one.
Andi, who now lives in Kalimantan, said he was upset by the news and wanted to clarify. "That's why I came to Jakarta and visited the Samsat office to explain everything," he said.
Social media exploded when the red car, with plate number B 1 RED, was pictured with newly installed House of Representative Speaker, and Golkar Party politician, Bambang Soesatyo. However, Bambang denied that he had not paid the tax due on the car and said it had been sold around two years ago. The tax on the car has not been paid since March 2015. (fac)
Given fears about increased tensions between the Islamic majority and minority groups in Indonesia, many people want to know who can help turn back the tide of intolerance and return the country to the pluralistic roots of its state ideology of Pancasila. Once again, it may fall upon women to show the way.
According to a new survey conducted by UN Women and the Wahid Foundation, 80.7% of Indonesian Muslim female respondents said they support the right to freedom of religion (specifically, the freedom to practice religions or belief systems outside of the six officially recognized in Indonesia). That's compared to 77.4% of Muslim male respondents.
The survey also showed that women were less likely to become radicalized than men, with 80.8% of women saying they would not engage in radical behavior (defined by the survey as actions such as doing vigilante raids on businesses not complying with sharia law or protesting against the opening of another religion's house of worship) compared to 76.7% of males respondents. Only 2.3% of women and 5.2% of men said they were willing to engage in radical behavior.
Wahid Foundation director Yenny Wahid (daughter of former president and defender of pluralism KH Abdurrahman Wahid) said the survey's results showed that women might be the key to deescalating tensions in Indonesia.
"Women are strategic actors in the effort to strengthen tolerance and peace," Yenny said at a press conference in Jakarta yesterday as quoted by Detik.
A large part of the survey asked about attitudes towards groups that are often viewed negatively in Indonesia, including communists, the LGBT community and racial and religious minorities. Respondents were asked if they were willing to accept individuals from these groups as their neighbors, teachers in their school or political leaders. If not, then the survey categorized them as intolerant.
Overall, the survey showed that 57.1% of Indonesian Muslims were intolerant of one or more groups, a significant increase over the last time the poll was conducted in 2016 when that number was 51%. This year's survey also found that 55% of women showed intolerant attitudes towards certain groups, as compared to 59.2% of men.
Interestingly, in the 2016 survey the LGBT community received the largest percentage of intolerant attitudes from respondents (26.1%), followed by communists (16.7%). Despite the current resurgence in anti-LGBT rhetoric in Indonesia, communists have actually risen to the #1 spot with 21.9% and LGBT was second with 17.8%.
Yenny noted that the increasing intolerance towards communists, which have been banned and inactive in Indonesia since the country's bloody 1965 communist purge, was clearly a sign of political actors manipulating people's fears. She also noted that despite the major protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, intolerant attitudes towards the Chinese community remained small with just.7% of respondents saying they should not be given their basic constitutional rights.
The survey was conducted in October 2017 and involved 1,500 respondents in all 34 of Indonesia's provinces chosen through multistage random sampling. The margin of error is approximately 2.6% with a 95% confidence level.
Presidium Alumni 212, a union of Islamic hardline groups which formed after the December 2, 2016 mass protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama (yes, apparently people attending a one-day protest can be considered "alumni"), seems to have gradually gained political power ever since it played a major role in Ahok's blasphemy conviction and defeat in the Jakarta gubernatorial election.
In fact, the group recently showed its political muscle, showing no qualms about calling out Governor Anies Baswedan who, arguably, stood to gain the most from the alumni's anti-Ahok movement for not giving Presidium Alumni 212 the respect they think they deserve since they say they were instrumental in getting Anies into office.
However, cracks have grown inside the group, pretty much splitting it into two. The cause? Petty internal bickering over a name change.
During Presidium Alumni 212's national meeting in Bogor on January 25-27, the group's leader and Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) spokesman Slamet Ma'arif officially changed their name to the less communist-sounding Persaudaraan Alumni 212 ("Persaudaraan" meaning brotherhood/sisterhood).
Although officials mentioned changing the name to make it sound more "egalitarian", we think it might actually be because they finally figured out that the term Presidium is used almost exclusively by communist governments (and we know how Indonesia's Islamic hardliners feel about communists...).
But it turned out that not everybody was down with the new name, as a faction consisting of members who want to keep the name Presidium have broken off and even elected their own leader, Habib Umar Al Hamid.
"Presidium Alumni 212 never decided to change its name," said the Presidium faction's spokesman, Aminudin, as quoted by Tempo yesterday.
Eggi Sudjana, who sits on Persaudaraan's executive council and is perhaps best known as a lawyer for FPI douner Rizieq Shihab, the man both Presidium and Persaudaraan revere and have appointed the "Grand Imam" for all of Indonesia on our behalf (and who is currently a fugitive in Saudi Arabia due to a pornography investigation), said that Persaudaraan has Rizieq's blessing and is the only legally recognized group.
In response, Presidium said they want to hold a mediation session in Saudi Arabia involving the most respected Islamic scholars (including Rizieq) to figure out the name issue, the outcome of which will be named the "Mecca Declaration".
Whatever the outcome of this dispute is, Presidium and Persaudaraan best get their act together since it's very likely that they will be used as a powerful political tool in the 2018 nationwide regional elections and the 2019 presidential election.
Jakarta Semarang Police questioned two vocational school students who allegedly spread a porn video that featured students.
The police's Criminal Investigation Unit chief Adj. Comr. Yusi Andi Sukmana said they identified the two suspects after interviewing witnesses, including the person who filed the report, school officials, students who allegedly appeared in the video and their parents.
"We questioned the two female students who allegedly spread the video," Yusi said, as quoted by kompas.com on Friday. The two students were friends with the suspected students who appeared in the video.
The students in the video, aged 13 and 16 have admitted making the video that went viral on WhatsApp, Yusi claimed. "They admitted making it in 2017."
The two students in the video were accompanied by several agencies during the questioning, including Semarang Women Empowerment, Child Protection and Family Planning Agency officers, Correctional Center social workers and their parents. "Those are the procedures because both of them are minors," Yusi added.
Semarang Regent Mundjirin expressed concern and said the case had tarnished Semarang's education in the public's eyes, especially because one of the alleged actors was only 13. (nmn)
Jakarta The Agriculture Ministry has said it expects rice production to exceed projected consumption in January, February and March, as the harvest season had commenced across the country.
The head of the ministry's food security agency, Agung Hendriadi, said in a statement released on Thursday that rice stocks would reach 2.8 million tons in January, followed by 5.4 million tons in February and 7.4 million tons in March.
"At a total consumption of 2.5 million tons per month, I can assure that in the next three months, we will record surplus rice stock," he said as reported by kompas.com.
Agung said that surplus production was estimated at 329,000 tons in January, 2.9 million tons in February and 4.97 million tons in March, adding that the figures were calculated according to the crop area of rice fields.
Farmers had already harvested 854,000 hectares of rice fields to date and were expected to harvest 1.6 million hectares in February and 2.25 million hectares in March. To ensure food security, Agung added, the farmers were to plant at least 1 million hectares of rice.
"Insya Allah (God willing), with the support of tractors and improvements in irrigation networks, we will be maintain our rice production yield," he said.
The Agriculture Ministry is among those that have criticized the government's recent decision to import 500,000 tons of rice ahead of the harvest season in order to ease the commodity's price. The imported rice is expected to arrive in late January or early March. (bbn)
When Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan announced that he would allow becak (bicycle taxis) to once again ply their trade recently, many criticized the idea of letting the long-banned vehicles back onto the capital's streets.
Anies assured the public that the becak would only be allowed to operate on certain special roads and that it would not add to the capital's traffic chaos. But now there are reports that numerous becak drivers from outside Jakarta are coming to work here, leading Anies' vice governor, Sandiaga Uno, to claim that the drivers are being brought to the capital as part of a "mobilization" effort to destabilize the capital.
"We will deliver a message to this mobilization (effort), Jakarta will not be silent and unaware of the destabilization activities in the capital region," Sandiaga said on Sunday as quoted by Kompas.
Sandiaga said he had received reports that many rickshaw drivers from Indramayu were being brought to Jakarta by truck as part of an organized effort. He did not specify which actors might be behind the conspiracy to bring outside becak drivers to Jakarta but implied it was politically motivated.
The vice governor was adamant that any pedicab drivers from outside of the capital would be repatriated by authorities as only current Jakarta citizens were allowed to take advantage of the government's becak un-banning.
Sandiaga also reiterated Anies' points about why they decided to reauthorize bicycle taxis, saying it was about economically empowering individuals and that the government would provide them with training as well. He also said that a new environmentally-friendly electric becak model would be used in Jakarta.
Jakarta Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan is seeing a pushback against some of his populist policies three months into his tenure amid claims from his critics that they are harming the capital.
After the police and other parties expressed their objections over a new traffic arrangement in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, members of opposition parties at the Jakarta City Council have rallied support to interpellate the administration for the road closure, which has reportedly worsened congestion in the area.
Councillors of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Nasdem Party, who initiated the move, said Anies had violated a set of regulations in closing the Jalan Jati Baru Raya road near Tanah Abang for street vendors.
They said the regulations include a bylaw that prohibit vendors from selling their goods on streets and sidewalks and another law on traffic and road transportation.
They also confronted the former education minister for re-opening the National Monument Square, or Monas, to religious gatherings, arguing that the decision contradicted a higher regulation issued by the central government which stipulates that the area should remain a "neutral" zone.
Anies responded by insisting that his policies had strong legal ground and were intended to benefit Jakarta residents.
"What we have done is for Jakartans. We want the city to belong to all its residents, not only some of them," he said at City Hall on Wednesday (Jan 24).
After being dismissed from his post in President Joko Widodo's Cabinet in 2016, Anies was nominated to run in the Jakarta gubernatorial election by the Gerindra Party and the Prosperous Justice Party.
Riding on the wave of Islamic conservatism sweeping across the country, he won the election from incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, a close ally of the president and who was supported by the PDI-P and Nasdem.
While he has struggled to realise his flagship programs, Anies has spent the first 100 days of his tenure by revoking policies issued by Ahok, especially those that had been criticised for being elitist.
Aside from the Tanah Abang road closure and the re-opening of Monas, Anies has also revoked a motorcycle ban on one of the city's main thoroughfares, a move which had been previously criticised as discriminatory toward motorcyclists.
As he gains both praise and ire for the policy reversals, his popularity among voters continues to climb. He has even been touted as a strong contender to run against the president in the 2019 election.
A survey released by Indo Barometer in December revealed that Anies was the third most popular presidential candidate, after Joko and Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Soebianto.
Observers say Anies' controversial policies have only contributed to his rising popularity, regardless of the policies' impact on the city and its residents.
Defending Anies, City Council Deputy Speaker Muhammad Taufik from the Gerindra Party said the governor had clearly shown his support for the poor, who make up the majority of the capital's population.
"You can see how relieved the street vendors in Tanah Abang are after (the) new policy," Taufik said. The previous administration had regularly conducted raids and seized the goods of vendors who violated the bylaw.
Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) political analyst Siti Zuhro said the interpellation plan demonstrated Anies' failure to maintain a good relationship with his legislative partners.
"If (he had) discussed the policies with the council before introducing them to the public, there would be no interpellation," she said.
The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network
Anies Baswedan can thank relentless media scrutiny for his cardiovascular fitness since it looks like the governor will still need to take the stairs to go between the two floors of the official governor's residence in Menteng, Central Jakarta.
Recently, a budget proposal from the Jakarta Provincial Government's Cipta Karya Agency (which oversees public buildings and land planning) to renovate the governor's residence was revealed to the public. In the proposal, which amounted to IDR2.4 billion (US$180,695), was an allocation for the installation of a IDR750 million (US$56,467) elevator in the two-story house.
The Jakarta City Council quickly criticized the proposal, with speaker Prasetyo Edi Marsudi asking the question pretty much everybody has on their minds.
"If I'm not mistaken the [governor's residence] has only the first and second floors, not 10 floors. What is it for? I don't know," he said, as quoted by Detik yesterday.
To his credit, Anies said he pulled the plug on the proposal after finding out about it.
"Yes, [I just found out] from the news," he said, before adding that he is going to scrap the whole renovation budget of the governor's residence as he doesn't feel any of it is necessary.
Pandita, head of the Regional Government Buildings Department at Cipta Karya, said that his agency put forward the elevator proposal in order to help disabled visitors of the residence.
"The residence can then be used for public visits, and among the visitors there will be disabled people," he told Detik yesterday.
Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan's policies mostly contravened existing regulations, the City Council stated, marking the first 100 days of the administration. Anies and his deputy Sandiaga Uno were sworn in on Oct. 16, 2017.
City Council speaker Prasetio Edi Marsudi said on Wednesday that Anies had changed the previous administration's good efforts to improve the city's development, without considering existing regulations.
"The changes have made Jakarta even worse," Prasetio said at the council in Central Jakarta on Wednesday.
The council's top leader cited Anies and Sandiaga's decision to close Jl. Jatibaru Raya near Tanah Abang textile market in Central Jakarta to accommodate street vendors as an example.
The road closure is part of the administration's plan to arrange Tanah Abang as a giant market, modeled after the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
The move was considered to violate Bylaw No. 8/2007 on public order, which stipulates that vendors are not allowed to occupy streets or sidewalks to sell their goods. It also violates Law No. 22/2009 on traffic and road transportation.
Prasetio urged Anies to develop a better Jakarta in accordance with existing regulations during his five-year tenure.
Jakarta Indonesia's government is cracking down on poor-quality flying schools as part of efforts to address the lack of competency among newly graduated pilots a crucial factor in boosting the country's air safety record, The Jakarta Post reported.
The Transportation Ministry said it has found eight schools out of 18 currently in business that cannot meet the basic requirements of operation as outlined in a newly passed ministerial decree. These requirements included the ownership of at least five aircraft, including one multi-engine aircraft for student training.
Of these, it has closed down two schools, while giving time for the rest to comply with the new rules until Feb 8. Failure to do so will result in similar closures.
"I urge the schools to merge so that their aircraft fleets can be combined and they can also provide better education and yield better output," Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said on Wednesday (Jan 24).
Poor skills, coupled with lower demand for pilots in recent years, has left about 600 pilots unemployed, according to an estimate.
To cope with the current problem, the ministry has held courses for 330 unemployed pilots who lack basic aviation knowledge, such as aviation law, flight performance and navigation.
Budi also requested airlines to offer a number of these pilots internship programs to increase their chances of employment. He also warned that because of concerns over the quality of the graduates, it would be harder to establish new pilot schools.
Indonesia, one of the world's fastest-expanding commercial aviation markets, has been struggling to improve its safety record despite achieving a better position in the latest International Civil Aviation Organisation assessment on the implementation of safety regulations.
The European Union banned all Indonesia-based carriers from flying in the bloc's airspace in 2007 following a series of accidents. So far, it has only lifted the prohibition on specific airlines.
Airlines in Indonesia say they, too, have encountered problems finding qualified pilots.
Daniel Putut, the managing director of Indonesia's largest low-cost carrier Lion Air, recalled that when his firm sought 150 pilots in December, only two candidates were qualified and passed all the tests. "We encourage future pilots to be well-prepared," he said.
Fellow low-cost airline Citilink said it also struggled to find competent pilots to match its requirements. Currently, most candidates cannot pass written tests, its president director Juliandra Nurtjahjo said.
"A number of them have also failed (flight) simulator tests as they require a lot of practice," he said, adding that despite such high a failure rate, the airline would not lower standards as it prioritised aviation safety.
The CEO of privately run Perkasa Flying School, Septo Sudiro, said he understood the government's concerns, and has tried to address them by applying higher prerequisites for pilot schools to cope with airlines' demands.
He said the fall in demand for pilots from 600 in 2015 to only 300 in 2017 was a result of the lower number of aircraft coming in to the country. "I think demand will pick up again in 2018 and 2019," Septo said.
But aviation expert Gerry Soejatman said there was no easy answer to the pilot-education issue. "Why are all the problems blamed on the schools? The standards are set by the government. If there is a gap between the standards and what airlines demand, it's hardly their fault," he said.
The Indonesian military should deter abuses by its personnel and hold human rights violators accountable, Human Rights Watch said in a letter made public today to the new Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) commander, Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo named Tjahjanto, the former air force chief, to the position on January 18.
Tjahjanto should immediately ban so-called virginity tests, which are obligatory for female applicants to the Indonesian armed forces. Virginity testing is a form of gender-based violence and has been widely discredited, including by the World Health Organization.
"Indonesian women who seek to serve their country by joining the military shouldn't have to subject themselves to an abusive and discriminatory 'virginity test,'" said Brad Adams, Asia director. "The Indonesian military cannot effectively protect all Indonesians, women and men, so long as a mindset of discrimination permeates their ranks."
As armed forces commander, Tjahjanto should also publicly support President Jokowi's lifting of access and reporting restrictions on foreign media in Papua and ensure that all military personnel in Papua fully respect media freedom.
Tjahjanto should also ensure prompt, transparent, and impartial investigations of abuses including torture and unlawful killings in which military personnel are implicated, and take appropriate action against personnel responsible.
Tjahjanto should also fully cooperate with government efforts toward investigating the mass killings of 1965-66, in which 500,000 to one million suspected communists and others were killed. He should make a commitment to release any relevant TNI documents about the killings and halt any intimidation efforts by military personnel of those seeking accountability. Military cooperation is crucial to determining responsibility for these atrocities and to provide justice and redress for the victims and their families.
Tjahjanto should also pledge to reform the military tribunal system to allow civilian courts to prosecute military personnel implicated in rights abuses against civilians. The 2004 Armed Forces Law placed the military courts under the supervision of Indonesia's Supreme Court but the military controls the composition, organization, procedure, and administration of the military courts.
During the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Indonesia's human rights record in 2007, 2012, and 2017, the Indonesian government made a commitment to reform the military tribunal system. The promised reforms included adding to the military criminal code the crimes of torture, and other acts of violence. However, the government has yet to add those offenses to the military criminal code.
"Marshal Tjahjanto should publicly support legal reforms to empower civilian courts to try soldiers implicated in rights abuses," Adams said. "It's a crucial step for holding Indonesia's military accountable."
Stephen Wright, Jakarta, Indonesia Riding a tsunami of moral conservatism and anti-gay prejudice, Indonesia's Islamic political parties appear on the cusp of a major victory: outlawing all sex outside marriage.
Revisions to Indonesia's criminal code being considered by Parliament would allow prison sentences of up to five years for sex between unmarried people. Those changes would also criminalize gay sex, the bugbear of Indonesia's Islamic and secular political parties.
Rights groups and legal experts fear a profound setback to human rights and privacy in Indonesia, one of the world's largest democracies, and the spread of vigilantism, already common in parts of the sprawling Muslim-majority nation of more than 250 million people. They are racing to organize opposition. An online petition launched this week has gathered more than 20,000 signatures.
"Indonesia, whose constitution guarantees human rights and has ratified many human rights covenants, will be ridiculed by the world for creating a law that is potentially violating many of those rights," said Said Muhammad Isnur, head of advocacy at the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation.
While the possible criminalization of sex between unmarried consenting adults has grabbed attention, the revised criminal code, which has nearly 800 articles, also contains changes that could weaken checks and balances in Indonesia's young democracy. One article potentially makes criticism of the president defamation and other articles could be used to weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission, one of Indonesia's most effective public institutions.
Asrul Sani, a lawmaker from the Islamic-based United Development Party, has told reporters that a 25-member parliamentary working committee has agreed on nearly all the articles in the revised code. It and another Islamic party are seeking longer prison sentences for gay sex in circumstances that involve force, public acts or pornography and that is still being argued, he said.
Statements from different committee members indicate there isn't total agreement but a majority of parties appear to have swung behind at least criminalization of gay sex. Bambang Soesatyo, the speaker of Parliament and a lawmaker from the major secular party Golkar, said same-sex relationships should be criminalized because they could "corrupt the morality of the nation." A few politicians outside the committee have raised concerns about the fundamental threat to privacy.
One of the obstacles in the way of the Islamic parties is President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's power of veto. But with provincial elections due this year and a presidential race in 2019, it's unclear whether Jokowi is willing to risk political capital on protecting a hated and misunderstood minority or being seen as soft on morality issues.
"The Islamic parties are really using this issue as their marketing going into the political years, this year and next year," said Bivitri Susantri, a constitutional law expert who helped establish the Indonesian Center of Law and Policy Studies.
"The only thing we can do is to push the government, the president, to stop this," she said. "Because if we see how the political parties, both the secular ones and the Islamic ones discuss this, I think this draft law will be passed as it is now."
Islamic parties make up four of the 10 factions in Indonesia's Parliament and due to the popular vote threshold being raised to 4 percent, are at risk of losing their seats in Parliament next year if they can't rouse their bases.
They have typically commanded far less votes than secular parties, but their concerns resonate with a broad cross-section of Indonesians. Hard-line Muslim groups considered fringe a decade ago, such as the Islamic Defenders Front, have moved into the mainstream and shook Jokowi's government last year with a mass movement against the minority Christian governor of Jakarta, who was subsequently imprisoned for two years for blasphemy.
Conservative groups such as the Family Love Alliance believe Indonesia is being overwhelmed by immoral behavior such as sex between unmarried young couples, and in December nearly succeeding in convincing Indonesia's Constitutional Court to outlaw gay sex and sex outside marriage.
Moderate groups, meanwhile, have struggled to muster their forces. While many speak out online, that has little impact compared with the ability of Islamic groups to summon tens of thousands for mass protests.
The Islamic parties' message is perhaps at its most politically potent when aimed at Indonesia's besieged LGBT minority, which for the past two years has been the target of an escalating campaign of raids, arrests, hateful rhetoric from government officials and vigilante attacks.
Police in the conservative province of Aceh, which practices Shariah law, over the weekend rounded up 12 transgender people who worked in hair salons and publicly humiliated them by forcing them into men's clothing and cutting their hair.
Susantri and other legal experts said enforcement would be a huge and impossible burden on police and encourage vigilante acts from self-appointed "guardians of morality," undermining an already fragile rule of law in Indonesia.
She said people who practice religions not recognized by the state could also be criminalized because their marriages aren't recognized.
"The president should say no to this law," Susantri said. "But looking at how Jokowi is handling issues related to Islam I think he wouldn't do that."
Sheany, Jakarta The Institute of Criminal Justice Reform, or ICJR, warned on Thursday (25/01) that current draft revisions of the criminal code reflect tendencies for over-criminalization that could lead to violations of human rights and stressed that lawmakers should carefully deliberate any proposed changes.
Speaking at a press conference in Jakarta, ICJR managing director Erasmus Napitupulu said there are still issues with the current draft revisions, such as the lack of clarity on the "living law" article, which will likely affect marginalized groups with less access to justice the most.
"When the state utilizes the criminal code to control its people and scatter the threat of penalties profusely to scare off citizens, then we must be ready to call out the violations of human rights," Erasmus said.
Although the government sought to revise the criminal code to replace regulations from the Dutch colonial era, Erasmus noted that the draft revisions are "actually the same and did not show improvement" from the old law.
Furthermore, the government has yet to adequately explain the ambiguity of some of the content. This is evident with an article that is considered the most crucial, which emphasizes that the draft revisions should not rule out the existence of living law in Indonesian society.
"The government was unable to explain what they mean with 'living law in society,' [or] what it looks like. It's unclear, but because it's considered 'Indonesian,' the article has made it to the draft revisions of the criminal code," Erasmus said.
He added that what is more worrying is how ongoing discussions at the House of Representatives are leaning toward letting district governments decide on their own how violations of "living law" will be criminalized.
"This means that we will have a fragmented criminal code at the district level... What's even more dangerous is that this will diminish Indonesia's vision to become more united, as different districts will have their own perspectives on how the law should be in the country," Erasmus said.
The House of Representatives is currently aiming to have the draft revisions finalized by February.
In a statement issued on Jan. 14, the National Alliance for Criminal Code Reform renounced a hurried adoption of the draft revisions.
Still, there are other issues that must be addressed, including excessive punishments as well as unclear distribution and framing of punishments, which will consequently result in over-criminalization. According to the Alliance, the House still needs to assess the rationale behind each punishment.
"The Alliance is urging the government to strengthen their way of framing the punishment, which the government has yet to formulate until this point," Erasmus said.
Jakarta Experts and activists from various institutions lambasted the Criminal Code bill on Thursday, saying articles regulating immoral behavior in the draft law went too far into the private lives of citizens.
The House of Representatives is currently deliberating the bill, which, among other things, would expand the definition of adultery and criminalize consensual sex between two unmarried persons.
The bill could also potentially criminalize same-sex relationships as it will include consensual homosexual acts between adults. Currently, only pedophilia is prohibited.
Jentera School of Law lecturer Anugerah Rizki Akbari said neither the government nor the House seemed to have a clear vision of what changes they wanted to make in the Criminal Code bill.
Anugerah said the current Criminal Code, which is based on Dutch colonial law, penalized extramarital sex as a way to protect the institution of marriage.
"Who or what is protected by criminalizing consensual sex between unmarried people? Who is the victim here?" he said.
Imam Nahe'i, an Islamic teacher and a National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) commissioner, agreed, adding that from a Muslim perspective, criminalization of adultery should be narrowed, not widened.
"The level of evidence needed to prove adultery is very high in Islam," he said. "To prove murder, you only need two witnesses. To prove adultery, you need four witnesses."
Ratna Batara Munti from the Women's Legal Aid foundation echoed their sentiments, saying the bill increased the number of "victimless crimes."
"The government should not arbitrarily take away personal freedoms in the name of morality," she said. (kmt/ebf)
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta Speaking during the opening of a Trade Ministry meeting, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo expressed his disappointment over export figures, which fell behind other Southeast Asian Countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
"If we keep going on like this, we will be beaten by Cambodia and Laos," he said during the meeting.
According to Trade Ministry data, the country's export value stood at US$168.7 billion in 2017, compared to Thailand's $236.69 billion, Vietnam's $213.77 billion and Malaysia's $219.45 billion, from January to November in 2017.
Jokowi said Indonesian Trade Promotion Centers (ITPC) had failed to open new markets for Indonesian products.
"We have had ITPCs for years, what they have done? If I see no improvement, I will disband them. The country has spent a lot of money, but we can't compete with our neighboring countries" he said.
Jokowi also criticized officials' lack of attention to markets in India and Bangladesh after they missed December's Asian International Trade Expo in Dhaka.
"Bangladesh has a population of 160 million, this is a big market but we missed the recent expo. We keep repeating our mistakes," he said, adding that Indonesia needed to be more aggressive in participating in any potential trade expos that had the potential to boost trade. (bbn)
Jakarta Indonesia has won a biodiesel dispute against the European Union (EU) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that will pave the way for the Southeast Asian country to revive its biodiesel exports to the EU.
The WTO ruled in favor of several challenges made by Indonesia against anti-dumping duties imposed on its biodiesel exports to the European Union, the Trade Ministry announced on Friday.
"The decision will subsequently reopen Indonesia's market and revive our biodiesel exports to the EU, which have declined sharply due to the anti-dumping duties imposed by the EU," Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said in a statement.
The ruling is the latest in a series of legal challenges against import duties imposed by the EU on biodiesel imports from Indonesia and Argentina in 2013.
A WTO panel on the case, brought by Indonesia in 2014, said in a ruling made public on Thursday that the EU needed to bring its measures into conformity with WTO agreements. The WTO accepted six of Indonesia's protests regarding the biodiesel dispute with the EU.
Since 2013, the EU has imposed import duties on Indonesia's biodiesel products with a dumping margin of between 8.8 and 23.3 percent. The move caused a 42.84 percent decline in Indonesia's biodiesel exports to US$150 million in 2016 from $649 million in 2013.
"We are currently waiting for the EU to revoke their biodiesel import duties that have been in place since 2013," said the Trade Ministry's foreign trade director general, Oke Nurwan. (srs/bbn)
Jakarta A soldier tore apart a snake with his teeth and his comrades headbutted flaming stacks of bricks as Indonesia's special forces treated visiting US defence secretary Jim Mattis to an unusual display on Tuesday.
Mattis whose own nickname is "Mad Dog" seemed impressed by the show, which also saw police dogs leaping from helicopters to attack "terrorists".
To the sound of beating drums and with their faces daubed with camouflage, the elite soldiers launched a wild martial arts display as they demolished wood and brick obstacles with kicks, punches and headbutts.
The dumbfounded US delegation looked on as the men then killed live snakes, including cobras, and served their blood to each other in a sign of brotherhood. One fighter even tore apart a snake with his teeth.
Nearby, a commando rolled around on broken glass while another shot apparently live bullets at a balloon held by his blindfolded comrade with one round missing the target, although no one was injured.
An aerial display accompanied to the "Mission Impossible" theme tune saw soldiers launch themselves from helicopters together with dogs to stage a mock manhunt for a pair of "terrorists".
Back on land, a dog then jumped through an open car window to grab one of the pretend radicals.
"As you see, the dogs beat the terrorist," a satisfied military official said following the show at Indonesia's army headquarters to round of the US defence secretary's visit.
Mattis, whose next stop on his Asian tour was Vietnam, said: "Even the dogs coming out of those helicopters knew what to do when confronting the terrorist."
Jakarta Of the government's 35,000 megawatts (MW) program, power plants with a combined capacity of 1,358 megawatts were in operation as of Jan. 15, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry spokesman Agung Pribadi said in a statement on Sunday.
He said power plants with a combined capacity of 466 MW had been constructed by state-owned electricity firm PLN, with power plants contributing a further 892 MW constructed by private companies known as independent power producers (IPP).
He explained that power plants with a capacity of 538 MW were constructed in Sulawesi, with 455 MW constructed in Sumatra, 135 MW in Maluku and Papua, 126 MW in Kalimantan, and the remaining 104 MW constructed in Java, Bali and Nusa Tenggara.
He added that power plants with a combined capacity of 17,096 MW were now under the construction 5,657 MW by PLN and 11,439 MW by private firms.
He added the government had signed contracts for the construction of power plants with a combined capacity of 12,724 MW and that therefore the government only needed a further 4,682 MW to complete all the programs that were intended to be completed by 2019.
"Power plants generating roughly 20,000 MW are set to be in operation by 2019," he added, as reported by tempo.co.
In addition to the 35,000 MW program, the government had also fast tracked programs I and II and the regular 7,800 MW program, said Agung. From the three programs, power plants generating 6,395 MW were in operation, he said.
Currently, the national electrification ratio sits at 95.35 percent, exceeding the target of 92.75 percent. (bbn)
Jakarta State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister Rini Soemarno has invited investors from a number of countries to invest in various infrastructure projects at an investor gathering in Zurich, Switzerland, on Thursday.
Among the projects offered to investors include airports, seaports, roads, telecommunications and electricity.
"We have strong commitments to improve connectivity by developing air, sea and land transportation," said Rini at the event, which was attended by investors from Switzerland, Qatar, China, Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Norway.
Rini explained to investors that the government programs included the construction of 35,000-megawatt power plants, 2,650 kilometers of new roads, 1,800 km of toll roads as well as fiber optic networks.
"In late 2014, Indonesia had a total of 780 km of toll roads. We are developing 1,800 km of new toll roads, which are expected to be complete in 2019," she added.
She also revealed the program on the digital infrastructure project, particularly the extension of the fiber optic networks from 112,494 km in 2014 to 158,850 km in 2018.
Rini explained that under the government's plan, Indonesia needed US$500 billion of funds to develop infrastructure projects from 2015 to 2019.
The projects that she offered to the investors included those in eastern Indonesia, which she said had gotten less attention in the past.
"Our expansion looks ambitious, but it is also realistic," said the minister, adding that the Indonesian middle class was growing rapidly, which was supported by strong macroeconomic conditions and a stable political situation.
During her visit to Switzerland, Rini was accompanied by dozens of SOE CEOs. (bbn)
Karlis Salna, Jakarta Indonesian President Joko Widodo is still chasing some $150 billion to fund his ambitious nation-building agenda, almost half-way into a five-year infrastructure plan.
The government has so far received pledges for just over half the funds needed to help develop the road, airport and railway projects planned in a $327 billion pipeline, latest government figures show. Just $15 billion has come from the state budget, with the bulk committed by private investors, including from China.
Widodo, known as Jokowi, needs outside money for his nation-building program after government revenues were battered by the end of the commodities boom and as tax compliance remains poor.
With China making a massive push to build infrastructure and new trade routes across Asia through its Belt and Road Initiative, the world's second-largest economy looms large as an obvious backer for Jokowi's plans.
"In reality, there is only handful of countries with a surplus of money," Rainier Haryanto, the program director of the Indonesian government's Committee to Accelerate Priority Infrastructure, said in an interview in Jakarta.
"The U.S., they are in debt. The Japanese, they are also in debt," he said, but the Chinese have the money to lend. "At the end of the day, cash is king."
As Southeast Asia's biggest economy continues to struggle for revenue, the Jokowi government is leaning even more on the private sector.
It's estimated the state budget will only be able to fund about $25 billion of the projects that are yet to start, while Indonesia's legions of state-owned companies numbering in the hundreds will account for some $48 billion. About $83.5 billion will have to be stumped up by the private sector.
Some urgency may be required. The World Bank says Indonesia has a $1.5 trillion infrastructure gap compared to other emerging economies. A lack of good roads and transport corridors across the archipelago a string of more than 17,000 islands that would stretch from New York to London are adding to logistical barriers and driving up costs for business.
Of Jokowi's pipeline of 245 projects, just six have been completed since the program started in 2016 at a cost of $976 million, according to Haryanto. There are a further 145 under construction, documents show.
"They are making good progress and momentum is building, considering that they had a relatively slow start," said Euben Paracuelles, senior economist for Southeast Asia at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Singapore.
"The fact that there is a lower contribution from the government budget reflects the criteria that they used to identify these projects, including the viability for the private sector to participate."
Even with the financing secured, projects have to overcome red tape and regulatory burdens. The $6 billion Jakarta to Bandung high-speed rail, billed as a showpiece of Jokowi's plans, starkly illustrates the challenge.
The project has all but ground to a halt after becoming tangled in Indonesia's infamous red tape. While construction was meant to begin in August 2016, only around half of the land needed for the 142-kilometer railway had been cleared as of September last year.
Indonesia's regulatory framework, including a tricky permit process and day-to-day issues for investors that are "more to do with local governments" can often be a roadblock in the country's development and growth, World Bank chief economist for Indonesia Frederico Gil Sander said in an interview.
"Improving the business environment has to be something that operates at all levels in order to ensure that there is more investment and there are more jobs created," he said.
Naila Rizqi Zakiah Over the last two weeks, the bitter debate over whether lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Indonesians should be criminalised has reached new heights of acrimony. The never-ending argument about LGBT rights was revived following the decision of the Constitutional Court to reject the Family Love Alliance (AILA) petition that sought to extend the scope of articles in the Criminal Code (KUHP) on same sex relations and sex outside marriage.
The speaker of the Constitutional People's Assembly (MPR), Zulkifli Hasan, added fuel to the fire when he made unsubstantiated claims that the People's Representative Council (DPR) was discussing a bill on LGBT and same-sex marriage and five political parties were attempting to legalise LGBT behaviour. In reaction, politicians are now expediting efforts to pass long discussed reforms to the KUHP, including provisions that would criminalise same sex relations.
But while the media and the public have focused on the criminalisation of homosexuality, the proposed revisions to the KUHP are much broader, and seek to criminalise all extramarital sex, regardless of gender. The anti-LGBT propaganda has obscured the threat the revisions pose to the privacy and human rights of all Indonesians. There is a real danger that society will support increasing criminalisation based on moral and religious arguments without knowing or thinking about the consequences.
As is stands, the KUHP already criminalises adultery (zina). But the provision on adultery applies to sex between a married person and a person who is not their spouse, and is a complaint offence (delik aduan). This means it is only considered a crime if a party who feels they have suffered from the act reports it to the police. Article 484 of the revised criminal code, however, converts zina where one of the parties is married into a 'normal offence' (not based on a complaint or report), meaning that anyone can report cases to police.
Most concerning is that Article 484 extends the definition of zina to all extramarital sex. If a man and woman who are not bound by a "legitimate marriage" have sexual intercourse, they could face up to five years in prison. Article 484(2) explains that this type of adultery between two unmarried people based on complaints of spouses, or any concerned third party. The article doesn't contain a clear definition of third party, which could be interpreted loosely. Can society claim to be a third party? A neighbour? Or the police? The revised code could pave the way for anyone in society to interfere in their fellow citizens' affairs, essentially providing the legal basis for the persecution of people who engage in extramarital sex.
The risks of this reform are plain to see. Even in the absence of laws providing for this kind of persecution, some residents have already acted as moral police, arresting or exposing other citizens in the name of morality. In November 2016, for example, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) raided Kalibata City apartment complex and pressured police into arresting 13 men they accused of having a sex party in a private room. And in November last year, a group of local residents forced their way into a private home in Cikupa in Tangerang, Banten, and accused a young couple of having premarital sex. They forced the couple to strip naked and paraded them down the street, where other residents filmed and photographed them and then shared the videos online.
if the proposed revision of criminal code actually becomes law, these vigilante attacks will only increase. People will likely feel they have the right to conduct raids on LGBT Indonesians, teenagers, unmarried couples, or even married couples. Not only that, politicians and other advocates for reform better be careful they may be just as likely to get caught as the LGBT people they demonise! It is not hard to imagine politicians using the law as a tool to bring their opponents down by having them arrested with extramarital sex.
The proposed changes will also disproportionally effect the most vulnerable groups in society, such as women, children, poor and indigenous people. Although many members of the public believe that the revisions to the KUHP are about enforcing moral standards against homosexual and so-called "free sex", the draft code targets all sex outside legitimate marriage. According to the 1974 Marriage Law, a marriage is legal when it is registered with the government unregistered marriages are not legally recognised. Most Indonesians with unregistered marriages are poor. A 2012 Empowerment of Women Head-Household (Pekka) survey of almost 90,000 households across Indonesia found that 55 per cent of couples in the poorest 30 per cent of households did not have marriage certificates.
If the new criminal code is enforced, unregistered marriages, such as informal religious marriages (nikah siri) often associated with polygamy will be criminalised, as will marriages made under customary law. But it seems the majority of people are in denial about this, because they think nikah siri is legal although it is unregistered. In fact, the police will need evidence, such as marriage certificate, to halt a prosecution. How many of the moral crusaders agitating for reform realise that they could be jailed for their informal religious marriages?
The zina provision in the criminal code revision could also affect women victims of rape and sexual violence. Rape and sexual violence are very difficult to prove. Women victims bear the burden of proving their accusation. If they fail, and the perpetrator claims that the sex was consensual, police could accuse the couple of having extramarital sex (zina). The victim of rape could then be considered a perpetrator of adultery. Women already face considerable barriers to reporting sexual violence this will only discourage victims even further from reporting their cases.
The revised provision on zina could also lead to criminalisation of children. Proponents of reform do not appear to have paid any attention to the rights of children, especially in relation to sexual violence and exploitation. Under the Child Protection Law, if an adult engages in sexual relations with a minor, the minor will be considered a victim and be protected by the state. But the revised article on zina makes no reference to age, and as such overlaps and conflicts with the protection built into other provisions. According to National Commission for Child Protection (KPAI) data, 60 per cent of violations of children's rights are related to sexual violence. If the new criminal code is implemented, millions of people including women and children could be imprisoned, worsening the already acute prison overcrowding problem that Indonesia is facing.
Indonesia is a morally conservative society so it is little surprise that many people are concerned about widespread extramarital sex. But to push for criminal policy to address activities considered sinful or in violation of religious or moral values is wrong and highly dangerous. Not all immoral acts need to be criminalised.
If the revised criminal code is passed in its current form, it would represent a major setback for human rights and democracy in Indonesia.
Erin Cook Last week's cabinet reshuffle in Indonesia follows months of speculation and is President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's third, and likely final, of this term. With the president set to officially hit the campaign trail later this year ahead of the April 2019 election, this reshuffle has widely been viewed as essentially minor yet very telling.
The reshuffle back in July 2016 was aimed at clearing the cabinet of dead weight, specifically former Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli, who was dumped after a string of controversies, and former Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro. Brodjonegoro was replaced by Sri Mulyani Indrawati, whose enormous popularity saw the reshuffle immediately deemed a success and sprouted rumors that the new finance minister was a potential option for vice president for Jokowi's second term.
This time around, the replacement of presidential chief of staff Teten Masduki, who took up the post in 2015 after Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan became coordinating minister for maritime affairs, with retired military (TNI) commander Moeldoko seems a savvy move. Moeldoko retired from his TNI post in 2015 with the intention of launching his own presidential run in 2019, but has settled for the high-profile and powerful role.
Moeldoko joins a small but growing group of former high-ranking military and police personnel within Jokowi's inner sanctum. Eyebrows raised across Jakarta when retired TNI general Wiranto was named coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs in the 2016 shuffle. Wiranto oversaw the TNI during 1998 and 1999 and student and human rights activists across the country argued that scrutiny over his role should come alongside broader reconciliation with deaths during the violent post-Suharto period, which allegedly involved military forces. But the move paid off quickly for Jokowi, who was able to deploy Wiranto and broker a somewhat peaceful resolution to the tense Jakarta election demonstrations in 2016 and 2017.
Jokowi may well be hoping lightning will strike twice with the appointment of Moeldoko. As the president's right hand man, Moeldoko brings with him a long and successful career as a military leader and representative of Indonesia's security apparatus abroad. Importantly, some have suggested that Moeldoko's position could offset the influence of Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. Pandjaitan, a former commander in TNI special forces unit Kopassus, has faced heavy criticism for his apparent desire to hold more power within the cabinet than he actually either should have or has.
Shoring up the support of the military is one part of Jokowi's transparently two-pronged plan for a pre-election cabinet. Joining former military leaders in the cabinet is Idrus Marham, a former Golkar secretary general and now social affairs minister, who replaces Kofifah Parawansa after he announced his intention to run for East Java Governor in the June regional elections.
The addition of Marham gives the Golkar party its fourth spot in the cabinet. Once the most antagonistic of the major House of Representative factions against the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) led government coalition, Golkar has thrown its weight behind the re-election of Jokowi in 2019. Burned by a mammoth corruption case against former chairman Setya Novanto and decreasing support at the polls, the move too is no surprise.
Interestingly, Setya's replacement as Golkar head, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto, was not forced to give up his post in the cabinet after being named party boss last month. Hartarto is the exception to a rule Jokowi announced at the start of his presidency that no cabinet member can lead a political party (Jokowi himself is not the boss of the PDI-P), which saw National Awakening Party (PKB) Chairman Muhaimin Iskander turn down an offer and Wiranto give up his leadership of the Hanura party to join the working cabinet.
With election regulations meaning Jokowi must step back from most major aspects of the presidency in August, this reshuffle is all but guaranteed to be the final iteration. With the polls over a year away and fears over everything from illiberalism to the problematic rolling out of major infrastructure projects, a cabinet reshuffle is among Jokowi's easier tasks as he heads for re-election next year.