Wamena (Antara) Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) planned to take over the development project of Trans Papua in Yal and Yigi District, Nduga, following the shooting incident by armed groups against workers of PT Istaka Karya.
Military Resort Commander 172/PWY Infantry Col. Jonathan Binsar Parluhutan said that discussions to carry out the plan is still afoot with TNI headquarter.
According to him, the order to continue the road and bridge construction projects, that was stopped due to the shooting, had been previously issued.
TNI's combat engineers battalion will open the isolated access in Papua. "Perhaps, the personnel will enter the area in one to two months ahead, and the equipment will likely be delivered to the area next week. At least, in the next three months we'll have started the work," said Jonathan Thursday, December 13.
The TNI also planned to synergize with the road agency so that infrastructure project in Papua as in line with the President's instruction would be continued. "Whatever happens, we have to finish the infrastructure development because it is what we can do to develop remote areas in Papua," Jonathan underlined.
The commander could yet detail the number of personnel deployed to the area but it is estimated to be more than 500 personnel.
Head of National Road Agency XVIII of Jayapura Osman Marbun earlier said that TNI would continue the road construction of Trans Papua, yet the plan is still being prepared. Currently, Marbun added, a total of 14 bridges project for the four-year budget in the province has 72 percent completed.
Indonesia's military will take over construction of a massive infrastructure project in Papua after a massacre of workers earlier this month.
At least 16 employees from state-owned company Istaka Karya were killed by fighters from the West Papua Liberation Army, who accused them of being military spies.
The workers were building a bridge in Nduga regency when they were rounded up and later executed.
Antara News reported the military will resume work on the bridge, as well as on the 4,000-kilometre Trans-Papua Highway.
Combat engineers will carry out the construction, with hundreds of extra security personnel deployed to the area.
President Joko Widodo has pledged that infrastructure work in Papua will continue, despite the violence.
A spokesman with Indonesia's Kopassus special forces has denied troops have been deployed to Papua's Highlands.
A major joint operation between Indonesian military and police in pursuit of the West Papua Liberation Army is underway in Papua's rugged interior.
The Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the murders of at least 16 construction workers and a soldier this month.
With extra Indonesian troops deploying to the region, Tribun Medan reports that there's been "clarification" after local media suggested President Joko Widodo had ordered a Kopassus unit to Papua.
But Kopassus Chief of Information Lieutenant Colonel Denden Sumarlin said the special forces, who are ostensibly involved with counter-terrorism operations, were not involved in the Papua operation.
Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta Obed Gobay, a 50-year-old Papuan from the Mee ethnic group, couldn't stop tears falling as he spoke in his native language of his son who was killed four years ago.
In 2014, on Dec. 8, Apius Gobay died when Indonesian police and military personnel opened fire on several hundred protesters gathered in Enarotali, the capital of Paniai district in the interior of Indonesia's remote Papua province. He was among four Christian students killed in the incident, which also left at least 17 people injured.
The crowd had assembled in an open area in front of police and military posts to protest against military personnel the previous night beating teenagers from a village called Ipakije.
"I was at home at that time as my left arm got broken when I was gardening," Gobay told ucanews.com. "A neighbor came to my house and told me that my son was killed. "I was shocked, but I could do nothing because of my condition."
His son Apius, 18, was a second grader at a state-run senior high school in the town and on his way home from school when the incident took place at around 10 a.m. on that day.
"I could only pray to God that my son's body could be buried at the site where he died according to our tradition," Gobay said. "And God answered my prayers even though local authorities initially asked me to bury his body in a public cemetery uphill."
Gobay, who is a farmer and member of the Tabernacle Bible Church, or Kingmi Church, is now fighting for justice. He raised the case with various rights' activists and the then chairman of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid bin Ra'ad al-Hussein.
There were conflicting reports about what happened. Police said the students died when protesters attacked the police and military posts, and it was not clear who fired the shots.
Prior to the shootings, the local general election commission building in the mountainous district caught fire and a roadblock was set up by police, angering local residents.
It was believed that tensions started to build when teenagers confronted the driver of a vehicle about headlights. The driver, who was from a local military unit, returned later with others and allegedly beat the teenagers.
Investigations over the shootings were conducted by members of the National Police and the Indonesian military who said they had been unable to have the bodies identified.
According to Amnesty International-Indonesia, two policemen were detained for 21 days and given an administrative sanction for violating proper procedures when dealing with the crowd.
"This is nonsense to families of the dead victims," said Papang Hidayat, a researcher at the rights' group. "Some people were also injured in the shootings. Police could conduct ballistic tests on firearms if they wanted to," he said.
In January 2015, the National Commission on Human Rights formed a team to undertake an initial investigation into the shootings and reported four months later. It found evidence of gross human rights violations and called for a more detailed probe.
Yet, investigations stalled due to a lack of funds. Also, there was an unwillingness by families of the victims to allow the team to conduct exhumations because they doubted that the investigation would be conclusive.
"That's why we haven't made conclusions yet," Amiruddin al-Rahab from the commission said, adding that the institution had been looking into the case anew since January.
Gobay is not alone in his fight for justice. He has received support from his church and the local Catholic church as well.
According to Yones Douw, head of the Kingmi Church's Justice and Peace Department, letters had been sent every year to the government to urge that investigations be finalized.
Recently, he accompanied Gobay to a meeting with rights' activists at the Amnesty International-Indonesia office in Jakarta.
"We came here to seek justice," Douw said, recalling that the government had offered four billion rupiah (now about US$275.862) compensation to each family of those killed.
But for Gobay, his son's life cannot be replaced with money. A fair and transparent investigation is what he longs for. "If the government cannot resolve the case, let the United Nations deal with it," he said, believing that the truth will someday be revealed.
Jakarta House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo from the Golkar Party is asking the government to urge the United Nations to designate the Free Papua Movement (OPM) as a terrorist organisation.
"In line with the UN's own definition, they have murdered brutally and terrorised innocent civilians", said Soesatyo at a DPR plenary meeting at the parliamentary complex in Jakarta on Thursday December 13.
Soesatyo said that the recent shooting of scores of PT Istaka Karya employees in Nduga, Papua, was beyond the bounds and can be categorised as an act of terror.
The OPM said Soesatyo, also has a clear demand, namely Papuan independence. Because of this, the movement can be characterised as separatist. "So we can pressure the UN for the OPM organisation to be [designated] a terrorist organisation", said Soesatyo.
In addition to this, Soesatyo is urging the government to take firmer and harder action over this act of terror because this is not the first time that such acts of violence have taken place in Papua.
One such measure would be to send troops to conduct a military operation in addition to war (OMSP). Soesatyo said that this can be done based on Law Number 5/2018 on the Eradication of Terrorism.
A similar view was expressed by DPR Commission I member Sukamta from the Islamic based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) faction during an interruption in the plenary meeting.
According to Sukamta the government can't just stop at designating the group that shot the Trans Papua road project workers in Nduga as an Armed Criminal Group (KKB, the government's term for the OPM).
"We hope that the government will issue a government regulation related to OMSP so that it can be used to overcome the terrorist problem in Papua", he said.
He said that a government regulation on OMSP would represent a follow up to Law Number 34/2004 on the TNI (Indonesian military) and the anti-terrorist law. With such a regulation we can protect Papuan communities from the threat of armed groups.
Earlier TNI commander Air Martial Hadi Tjahjanto stated that they would arrest and charge the perpetrators of this humanitarian crime and that they would be taken to trial and held accountable for their actions.
National Police public relations division public information bureau chief Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo meanwhile has said that the weapons used in the Nduga shooting have been identified as weapons smuggled into Indonesia from Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. (swo/pmg)
Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta Education will become another focus of the government's development plans in Indonesia's easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua after it managed to open up part of the isolated areas with its Trans-Papua flagship infrastructure project.
A territorial and equality expert at the National Development Planning Ministry, Oktorialdi, said on Tuesday that the ministry had prepared an education program to develop human resources in the provinces.
To improve development across the country, including in Papua, the government increased its education budget 13 percent to Rp 492 trillion (US$33.66 billion) in 2019, from Rp 435 trillion the previous year.
Oktorialdi revealed eight education goals for Papua: distribute more Indonesia Smart Cards (KIP), improve the quality of education in high schools, prepare assistance for teachers, increase the number of teachers, provide e-learning for teachers, include local content in education, eradicate illiteracy and establish boarding schools.
Infrastructure development in the last three years has been crucial to mobility in the province, which is three and a half times bigger than Java, he said, adding that education would help the two provinces continue their development.
Meanwhile, National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) state apparatus director Velix Wanggai said infrastructure development would help improve the quality of life for people, but improving education in the province was no less important.
Velix suggested that boarding schools could offer a good education alternative in Papua, particularly because of its geographical condition.
"We know Papua is very large; people spend a lot of time traveling from one point to another," he added.
The government's programs to accelerate development in Papua, one of the country's less developed regions, is based on Presidential Instruction No 9/2017 on the acceleration of social welfare development in Papua, which emphasizes infrastructure and also human resources development. (bbn)
Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta Head of Papua Police's community guidance task force, Grand Commissioner Eko Sutardo, shared his heart-wrenching experience while blending in with children that live within areas prone to conflict.
He recalled to the moment children expressing eagerness upon growing up to be a soldier for the Free Papua Organization (OPM).
"We often meet children living in the area of conflicts and ask them what they dream to be once they grow up, we found answers of wanting to grow up becoming an OPM member," said Eko when Tempo met him in South Jakarta on Tuesday, December 11.
Eko theorized that children directly meet armed separatists in conflict-prone areas and perceive the men holding rifles as an example to look up to, which is made worse by the hateful doctrines taught by the separatist members.
"I want to be just like those brothers that hold weapons, travel, fire the weapons, and have lots of money," said Eko imitating the child's sentence.
He argues that the flux of these separatist groups is driven by the hateful doctrines and post-conflict trauma experienced by them which is made worse by the absence of any reasonable trauma healing efforts.
Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher Adriana Elisabeth said that the lack of any proper government-driven trauma healing program contributes to the reason why shootings and human rights violations by separatists often reoccur in Papua.
Friski Riana, Jakarta Vice President Jusuf Kalla firmly stated that the option upon engaging in a dialogue with Papuan separatist groups is off the table since the Indonesian government had always granted Papua with economic eminence.
"What more can be dialogued. Everything has been granted to the region except independence. The [government subsidies] for Papua far exceeds anything in the past," he said at the vice presidential palace yesterday.
According to Jusuf Kalla, the central government had always been accused of robbing Papua's resources despite the fact that the government gave subsidies up to an astonishing Rp100 trillion even though the Papua administration only contributed around Rp20 Rp25 trillion to the central government.
"So it is simply untrue to think that we are robbing their wealth. As a matter of fact, we provide Papua with astonishing subsidies just as we have been doing for Aceh," said Jusuf Kalla.
He further explained that the government support does not end in financial subsidies and that Papuans are granted major political authority.
"We gave them political rights and they have complete control of their economy. What more must be dialogued?" asked Jusuf Kalla in disbelief. He maintained that what needs to be done is to realize a clean bureaucracy among Papuan regional leaders that can contribute to the welfare of local residents.
Stefan Armbruster Indonesia has rejected renewed West Papuan separatists' demands for independence and the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers as the death toll mounts after almost two weeks of fighting in the Papuan province.
At least 17 workers on a major highway construction project were killed 10 days ago in an attack claimed by the West Papua National Liberation Army, known at TPNPB.
The separatists claimed the men were Indonesian military personnel while Indonesian officials say the gunmen are violent criminals who must be held to account.
Gun battles erupted when the Indonesian military responded. At least four civilians reportedly died in the cross fire, with an unspecified number of soldiers and combatants also killed or wounded.
A civil conflict has raged since Indonesia's annexation of the former Dutch colony and a disputed United Nations referendum in the 1960s, that has reportedly resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.
In a video, a spokesperson for the National Liberation Army read an open letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo rejecting a call to surrender, demanding an end to Indonesian rule and an independence referendum.
"TPNPB will continue armed resistance without surrender and will continue to fight until full independence is achieved from Indonesia brutal colonialism," Sebby Sambam said, while standing alongside Major Terianus Santos, head of staff for the National Liberation Army of West Papua, behind the Morning Star independence flag.
"Call on withdrawal of all Indonesian military forces out of Papua and bring in the UN peacekeeping troops. Call on Indonesian government to oblige in letting indigenous people of West Papua freely vote for self-determination."
Indonesia's top security minister, Wiranto, said on Tuesday the government will not open talks with those who have committed serious crimes.
"The enemy (TPNPB) have escaped and the authorities are still making an effort to run after them," said Wiranto, who goes by only one name. "They have spread propaganda to scare people. They have committed inhumane crimes and we must fight against them."
Thousands of people have reportedly fled into the mountains in Nduga where the attack occurred as Indonesian forces retook strategic positions in the remote part of Papua.
Since coming to power in 2014, Widodo has tried to address the Papua issue by freeing some political prisoners, promising improved human rights and particularly by stepping up infrastructure investment, including through a Trans Papua road.
Many traditional land owners say the 4600km highway through Indonesia's Papuan provinces is being built without their approval.
Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne discussed the latest violence with her Indonesian counterpart last week in Bali.
"This is a very tragic event and we hope that there will be an appropriate and serious comprehensive investigation of these events. They are of course a great concern," Ms Payne told her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi last Thursday.
Foreign media are restricted from entering the Papuan provinces to independently verify the situation.
Hundred of arrests have been made since the December 1 anniversary, which marks the raising of the banned Morning Star independence flag, sparking criticism from the UN in Geneva.
"While we acknowledge the complexities of the situation in Papua, we are troubled by the crackdown over peaceful demonstrations and increasing reports of excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua, including harassment and threats to lawyers working on these cases," UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Ravina Shamdasanin said.
We urge the Government to act to constructively address the grievances being voiced in Papua in line with Indonesia's international human rights obligations and the political commitments made in the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review."
More arrests were made after pro-Papuan rallies on UN Human Rights Day on Monday.
The West Papua National Liberation Army, the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), declared a renewed war against the Indonesian army (TNI) on January 23 this year.
Human Rights Watch is calling on Papuan militants to stop unlawful killings, after a massacre of Indonesians took place in the Highlands region.
The West Papua Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the murders of at least 16 construction workers and a soldier this month. The Liberation Army said the workers were Indonesian military in disguise.
Military and police have deployed a joint operation in Nduga regency, calling for the fighters to surrender.
Human Rights Watch's Australia director Elaine Pearson said the attack raised grave concerns and must be investigated.
But security forces should be transparent and not commit abuses in retaliation, Ms Pearson said. Journalists should also be allowed to operate independently in the area, she said.
"The situation in Nduga is muddled in large part because no journalists can independently go into the area to interview witnesses and verify what happened," Ms Pearson said.
"Having independent monitors on the ground will help deter abuses by both the militants and security forces, which would benefit all Papuans."
Reports from Indonesia indicated as many as 90 Papuans were taken in by police in Timika after holding a public event to support human rights. A lawyer representing Papuans, Veronica Koman, said another 41 were arrested in Merauke.
The pro-independence West Papua National Committee, or KNPB, has issued a statement saying its activists were among those taken in by police in Timika.
Offices of the KNPB's secretariat around Papua region were raided by police on 1 December, the anniversary of 1961's West Papuan declaration of independence. Police arrested around 500 people for marking the anniversary last week.
Indonesia's military (TNI) has given an ultimatum to the West Papua Liberation Army to surrender.
The Liberation Army claimed responsibility for killing up to 31 Indonesians, mainly road construction workers, this month in the Highlands of Papua province.
TNI and police have retrieved 16 bodies from Nduga regency, having deployed a major joint operation there in response to the massacre.
A TNI spokesperson Mohammed Aidi said that the Liberation Army should immediately surrender or be finished.
Colonel Aidi has denied media reports that the military is using aerial bombing against Papuan communities in the Liberation Army's stronghold area.
He said at present the joint forces have captured and occupied Nduga's Yigi and Mbua districts, and that villagers who fled from fighting to the bush are starting to return.
The TNI's response to the massacre has reportedly caused four fatalities among civilians, according to local media.
However, Colonel Aidi said that given the area where casualties were reported, it was unlikely they were pure civilians but rather those linked to the perpetrators of the massacre.
Colonel Aidi disputed claims by a Liberation Army spokesman that the TNI has breached an agreed combat zone in this escalating conflict.
Referring to the Liberation Army as an armed criminal group, he said its style is guerilla fighting which knows no limits, accusing it of cowardice.
The TNI has also urged Papua's provincial and district governments to not be silent about the conflict.
Colonel Aidi said it was the duty of such office holders to honour their commitment to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.
Jakarta Separatist rebels in Indonesia's Papua province who killed a group of workers building a bridge this month have rejected government calls to surrender and instead demanded a referendum to decide the future of the area.
Security forces have launched an operation to hunt down members of the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), which claimed responsibility for killing at least 16 workers and a soldier in the mountainous Nduga area.
The OPM has said it viewed the men as members of the military and casualties in a war against Indonesia's government. Indonesian officials said the workers were civilians.
Papua, the resource-rich western part New Guinea island, has been plagued by a violent separatist conflict since the former Dutch colony was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticised UN-backed referendum in 1969.
In a video posted on YouTube on Monday (Dec 10), OPM spokesman Sebby Sambom read an open letter to President Joko Widodo in which he dismissed calls on their military wing, known as the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), to surrender and start dialogue.
Standing behind the banned separatist Morning Star flag, Sambom demanded Mr Joko hold another referendum for native Papuans to decide whether they want to be integrated with Indonesia.
"TPNPB will not surrender under any circumstances before the independence of the nation of Papua is realised from Indonesian occupation," Sambom said.
"The war will not stop before the demands of the TPNPB are carried out by the government of Indonesia."
He called for unrestricted access to Papua for foreign journalists and for the UN refugee agency and the international Red Cross to help take care of civilians caught up in the conflict.
Sambom confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday the authenticity of the video. A spokesman for President Joko did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In 2017, a senior government official, in response to a petition to the United Nations for a new referendum, said Papua was a legal part of Indonesia and already incorporated through a referendum process.
The OPM had accused the military of killing civilians in its operations, which it said included bombings. Chief Security Minister Wiranto rejected that accusation, but said soldiers did use grenades in clashes.
Two soldiers were wounded on Tuesday and three separatists had been killed in clashes, the military said.
Since coming to power in 2014, Mr Joko has tried to ease tension in Papua by freeing prisoners, addressing rights concerns and stepping up investment, including through a Trans Papua road.
Jakarta West Papua National Committee (KNPB) spokesperson Ones Suhuniap says that security forces arrested 132 people during the commemoration of International Human Rights Day in West Papua on Tuesday December 10. Ninety people were arrested in Timika and another 42 in Merauke.
The KNPB commemorated Human Rights Day under the themes "Papua is a Human Rights Emergency Zone", "Democracy in the Land of Papua" and "The Solution is to Give the Right of Self-Determination to the Papuan People Through a Referendum".
The KNPB claims it coordinated activities commemorating Human Rights Day in all parts of Papua from Sorong to Merauke. "In Timika 90 people were arrested by police at 8am in the Timika Indah area", said Suhuniap in a press release.
Suhuniap explained that people began gathering at the KNPB offices in Timika at 7am local time. They then marched on foot to the Timika Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) to continue the protest there.
Half-way through the march, said Suhuniap, security forces blocked their way. It was then that the 90 people were arrested by police.
Suhuniap said that police also confiscated megaphones, pamphlets, banners, mobile phones and other materials used during the demonstration. "Some were assaulted by police when they were arrested", said Suhuniap.
Police also arrested 42 people in the middle of a commemoration of Human Rights Day in Merauke. Suhuniap said that this included two children. "The arrests took place at 9.29am", he said.
According to Suhuniap police allowed those arrested in Timika and Merauke to return home late on Tuesday afternoon.
Suhuniap said that commemorations at the different locations such as Jayapura, Manokwari and Fak Fak were closely watched over by security personnel. Suhuniap said he deplored the attitude of the security forces.
"[This year's] commemoration of International Human Rights Day in Papua shows that democratic space is still being stifled and the weakness of human rights protections in the land of Papua", said Suhuniap.
Papua regional police chief Inspector General Martuwani Sormin meanwhile said that based on data from the Timika municipal police, the protesters holding the long-march and demonstration did so without notifying police beforehand.
In addition to this, he said, a number of protesters brought small children, banners and wooden clubs. "They were asked to disband but they were not prepared to do so", said Sormin.
The protesters were then gathered together at the Timika Indah square and given directions. After this they were driven home in Timika municipal police vehicles. (bmw/pmg)
Jakarta Vice President Jusuf Kalla says that the government has done all kind of things to reconcile with Papua including providing facilities as well as special policies for Indonesia's Eastern-most region.
He made the statement following the recent fatal shooting of Trans Papua road project construction workers and TNI (Indonesian military) personnel in Nduga, Papua.
"Everything has been given to the region, except independence. We have provided extraordinary subsidies to Papua, political administration has also been handed over to them. The governor, the regents must be indigenous Papuans", said Kalla at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday December 11.
West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) commander Egianus Kogoya has claimed responsibility for the shooting in Nduga.
The group said that the shooting was carried out in order to stop the road project. They believe that the infrastructure development being carried out in Papua is another form of colonialism.
Kalla also said that the government has given a great deal of thought to criticisms by various parties over the Trans Papua road project. The construction of this road will in fact facilitate the entry of foreign investment into Papua.
"We're building the Trans Papua highway because we believe that it is important for advancing Papua. But rebellious parties say, 'Wah it will bring even more people from outside into Papua'", said Kalla.
Because of this therefore, continued Kalla, an approach by regional governments in Papua is needed so that the development carried out by the government can be enjoyed by all parties.
"Political [administration] has already been given to them, they control the economy. What else is there to discuss. So all that's left is an understanding on the part of respective leaders so that everyone can enjoy it", said Kalla. (psp/osc)
Four civillians have reportedly been killed in Papua province as Indonesian security forces continue their pursuit of the West Papua Liberation Army.
The Liberation Army claimed responsibility for killing as many as 31 Indonesians, mainly road construction workers, earlier this month in the Highlands region.
Local media reported that Indonesian military and police had retrieved 16 bodies from Nduga regency, having deployed a major joint operation there. According to Tabloid Jubi, four Papuans were killed, including a priest of the Kingmi Church Synod, as troops sought to evacuate bodies of massacre victims.
There are humanitarian concerns for hundreds of Nduga residents from Mbua, Yall and Yigi who fled to the forest to avoid the joint operation. Antara reported that Nduga's regent, Yarius Gwijange, said he had received unconfirmed reports that some civillians had been victims of "mis-shootings" of the joint operation.
He appealed to police and military to ensure civilians were not caught in the crossfire of their battle with the Liberation Army.
While the number of victims of the massacre remains unclear, the chairperson of Papua's Kingmi Church Synod, Benny Giay, said there were 24 people killed, all workers of a major road construction project.
Local people suspected the construction workers were military personnel, Dr Giay said. This was because Indonesia's President Joko Widodo commissioned the military to build the major Trans Papua road network two years ago.
A spokesman for the Liberation Army last week said it attacked the workers after one of them was caught photographing a ceremony to mark the anniversary of 1961's West Papuan declaration of independence.
West Papuan rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly have been defended by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a response to the mass arrests of Papuan protesters during flag raising ceremonies earlier this month.
"These are indigenous people at the end of the day," says spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. "So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefitted from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had. The rates of malnutrition are quite high."
Shamdasani said in a radio interview with UN News that while President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had been initiating development projects, "the problem here is that the people haven't really been consulted. "There haven't been meaningful consultations [with] the people who are actually affected by this."
In the interview, Shamdasani put into context the recent arrests of nearly 600 citizens who were detained for participating in West Papua's national day, December 1, a global event for commemorating the first raising the Morning Star flag banned by Indonesian authorities. She also answered questions about development, armed conflict, and trying to gain access to the region.
The UN interview transcript:
[UN NEWS] The mass arrest of demonstrators in Indonesia who were attempting to mark a national day for indigenous people in the east of the archipelago, has been condemned by the UN human rights office, OHCHR.
More than 500 activists were detained at the start of the month though they've since been released. Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani explained to UN News' Daniel Johnson what's behind these latest developments.
Ravina Shamdasani (RS): Last weekend there were peaceful protesters in the Papuan region of Indonesia who were celebrating what they call the "West Papua National Day," and some 500 of them were arrested, detained. They were all subsequently released within 24 to 48 hours, but this does not take away from the fact that they should not have been arrested in the first place, and that this is not the first time this has happened. It happens year after year and on several occasions during the year as well.
Daniel Johnson, UN News Geneva (UN): What exactly are they protesting for apart from the fact that it's their national day?
RS: Quite often these protests are protests for independence from Indonesia and of course we understand that the situation is complex. The Indonesian government is certainly not happy with these protests, but these people have their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. So there was really no reason to arbitrarily detain them.
UN: As a minority what particular rights are they trying to defend and what are they trying to say is being threatened?
RS: Well, these are indigenous people at the end of the day. So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefited from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had. The rates of malnutrition are quite high. Now the current president of Indonesia has been initiating development projects. The problem here is that the people haven't really been consulted. There haven't been meaningful consultations of the people who are actually affected by this.
UN: Why is that? What structures are there in Papua, in Indonesia, to do this or not?
RS: The president has his analysis that the problem is one of economic development, um so he is trying to tackle that. But what we have emphasised, and what our previous High Commissioner during a visit to Jakarta in February of this year emphasised, was that development can of course bring with it access to many fundamental goods and services that can vastly improve people's well beings, but if they cannot voice their concerns, and if they can't participate in these decisions, the resulting development may not really increase their welfare, because it doesn't really address the problems that they have.
UN: Ok, and what is your presence on the ground in this part of Indonesia given that it's a huge country archipelago?
RS: We do not have a presence in Indonesia but we have a regional office in Bangkok that covers Southeast Asia So we are, you know, in close contact with human rights defenders, civil society, government officials as well.
We have actually been seeking access to this region for quite awhile now. In February the High Commissioner was promised access, and we are still in discussions with the government of Indonesia to make that happen.
UN: This issue is not one that I've seen very often having been here what four years now. What's your hope for the follow up and how many other similar cases are there that go really beneath the radar of international mainstream media?
RS: Too many international mainstream media tend to focus on the big conflicts. However there are many places like Papua, which are quite small, which have historic kind of long standing structural issues and unfortunately may not come up to the radar until there is an outbreak of conflict
What our office tries to do is try to ring the alarm bells early on, before the situation rises to the level of an armed conflict.
UN: You're not suggesting it's at that level now? Of course.
RS: No we're not suggesting it's at that level now, but there are many grievances, and we've seen this in many parts of the world where grievances are unaddressed, or there's a suppression of dissent. And then people take the law into their own hands because they feel they are not being heard.
This is actually happening at a very low level in Papua at the moment. There are armed groups that are operating. In fact, just this week I believe a number of people were killed. These were government contractors who were there doing a development project.
They were killed by armed groups which of course is unacceptable, but you have to understand the root causes and you have to address the root causes.
The bodies of 16 people were retrieved from the Highlands region last week, after a group of Indonesian construction workers were massacred. The West Papua Liberation Army, which has claimed responsibility for the killings, has claimed the workers were Indonesian military in disguise.
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said the violence was unacceptable But she said the root causes of the simmering conflict in Papua were not understood or addressed by Jakarta.
"There are many grievances, and we've seen this in many parts of the world, where grievances are unaddressed, or there is a suppression of descent, and then people take the law into their own hands because they feel they are not being heard," she said. "This is actually happening at a very low level in Papua at the moment."
Although massive construction projects in Papua funded by Indonesia were improving well being in the region, they were not necessarily involving Papuans in consultations, she said.
"If they cannot voice their concerns and if they can't participate in these decisions, the resulting development may not really increase their welfare because it doesn't really address the problems that they have."
Ms Shamdasani also said the OHCHR was concerned about the large number of arrests in Indonesia during peaceful demonstrations held to commemorate West Papuan National Day on December the 1st.
More than 500 arrests took place, including hundreds detained in searches of student dormitories, as security forces prevented demonstrators from conducting peaceful rallies. All of those detained have since been released without charge.
In the city of Surabaya in East Java, where the largest demonstrations took place, security forces were reported to have used excessive force during a demonstration.
Ms Shamdasani called on Indonesian authorities to ensure that security forces exercise restraint when policing demonstrations, and that the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are respected.
Jakarta A spokesperson for the Indonesian Military's (TNI) Cendrawasih Military Command, Lt. Col. Dax Sianturi, denied reports that a joint team of military and police personnel involved in a rescue mission to save victims of recent mass shootings in Nduga, Papua, had carried explosives or fired guns during the process.
"It's fake news," he said on Sunday as quoted by tempo.co. He said the helicopter utilized to carry dead bodies on Dec. 2 was a logistics carrier. "It was not an assault vehicle. So how could we use bombs?" he said.
Tabloidjubi.com reported that four civilians were shot dead when security personnel tried to retrieve the bodies of construction workers of state-owned company PT Istaka Karya that had been shot by an armed group linked to the Free Papua Movement (OPM).
Samuel Tabuni, a youth leader, said his relatives were shot by the security personnel. "Two in Mbua, Two in Yigi. They were shot during the rescue process," said Samuel as quoted by tabloidjubi.com.
After rescuing victims and civilians, the joint security team is still looking five construction workers who remain missing.
Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Ahmad Kamal said PT Istaka Karya recorded 28 workers in the camp in Yigi district, where the killings took place. At least 16 died during the attack by the armed group that was led by Egianus Kogoya. Among the casualties was an employee of the Papua road project.
Seven workers were found alive, three of whom are injured and receiving treatment at Caritas Timika Hospital. A member of the police's Mobile Brigade is also being treated at the hospital for injuries.
Philip Jacobson The Indonesian government must put an immediate halt to land clearing in the Tanah Merah project, a vast stretch of land in Papua earmarked to become the world's biggest oil palm plantation, environmental advocates and anti-graft watchdogs say.
Spanning 2,800 square kilometers, the land sits at the heart of one of the world's last great tracts of unbroken rainforest, on the giant island of New Guinea.
Only 2% of the land has been cleared, but if the entire project area is cleared as planned, it will release as much carbon as the US state of Virginia does annually by burning fossil fuels.
Well-placed observers argue the project is clearly intended to benefit the cabal of wealthy and connected individuals who have coalesced around it, and will fail to deliver development to the indigenous Papuans living in its shadow. They are calling on Indonesian authorities to cancel the licenses underpinning the project, or subject them to special scrutiny as part of an ongoing review of existing permits. Maze of secrecy
The Tanah Merah project was the subject of a joint investigation published last month by Mongabay, The Gecko Project, Tempo and Malaysiakini. The article revealed how ownership of the project has been concealed by a maze of shell companies, front shareholders, fake addresses and offshore secrecy jurisdictions, making it impossible to tell who will benefit from the destruction of the rainforest in Boven Digoel district, Papua province.
Even local government officials are in the dark about who is behind the project, which was approved during a chaotic period in the district. Some of the permits for the project were issued by a politician who was in jail at the time on unrelated charges of corruption, for which he was later convicted.
"The forests of Boven Digoel are immensely important to the indigenous people[s] of New Guinea, whose culture and livelihoods depend on the bushmeat, sago and fruits the forests provide and its clean flowing rivers," Gemma Tillack, forest policy director at the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), said in an e-mail. "The region is also a global biodiversity hotspot with species found nowhere else on Earth." She called the Tanah Merah project a "scandal" that "reveals how Indonesia's rainforests and communities are being sacrificed for the greed of overseas investors and corrupt politicians, pretending to be promoting development."
Indonesia is the world's top producer of palm oil, an edible oil found in countless consumer products as well as biofuels. At the same time, the country has lost more tropical forest since the turn of the century than any nation but Brazil, largely a result of unbridled plantation expansion. This deforestation has catapulted Indonesia up the ranks of the world's top greenhouse gas-emitting countries and put it on the front lines of the global extinction crisis.
"Far too often these problems are treated as though they are caused by a group of rogue individuals on the ground," said Eleanor Nichol, campaign leader at Global Witness, an international NGO that campaigns against corporate secrecy.
"The reality... includes a handful of incredibly powerful and well-resourced multinational companies and elite businesspeople, who hide their identities behind anonymous companies incorporated in secrecy jurisdictions like the Cayman Islands and Singapore. This anonymity allows these people to finance wide-scale destruction of climate-critical rainforests without scrutiny or consequence."
The identities of some of the investors behind the Tanah Merah project have come to light. Malaysian logging firms Shin Yang and Rimbunan Hijau have stakes in the project. Shin Yang is a major shareholder in the sawmill under construction, and Rimbunan Hijau is a minor shareholder in a company with land for a plantation.
Another shareholder is Chairul Anhar, secretary general of the Indonesia-Malaysia Business Council. And another is Desi Noferita, whose brother, Edi Yosfi, is known as a powerbroker in the National Mandate Party, or PAN, an influential Indonesian political party.
The billionaire Saeed Anam family of Yemen has also been linked to the project, although representatives of the family's conglomerate, the Hayel Saeed Anam Group, deny involvement.
Most of the companies with land for a plantation in the project are owned by holding companies registered to secrecy jurisdictions in the Middle East or Singapore, making it impossible for observers to identify the true shareholders.
"We need to call time on anonymous companies," Nichol said. "This year the UK demanded its Overseas Territories open up, and all EU member states are about to introduce public registers of the real owners of anonymous companies, so they won't be anonymous any more. The rest of the world needs to follow suit."
In March, Indonesian President Joko Widodo issued a regulation giving companies one year to disclose the identities of their "beneficial owners" to the government, although in a young democracy like Indonesia it is not certain that such a regulation will be enforced.
"This case is a clear example of why enforcement of the new regulations on beneficial ownership is so important, to ensure that whoever is behind a project like this is held to account," said Arie Rompas, a forest campaigner with Greenpeace Indonesia. "If the license review process promised by [Indonesian President Joko] Widodo's government through the palm-oil moratorium is to be credible, concessions such as these must be revoked."
In September this year, President Jokowi, as he is popularly known, declared a freeze on the issuance of new permits for palm plantations and ordered a review of all existing permits. Phil Aikman, campaign director for Southeast Asia at Mighty Earth, called the Tanah Merah project a "case in point" of why the moratorium on new permits "didn't go far enough."
"The moratorium should also have applied to rainforest and peatland areas in existing concessions, such as those held by shady shell companies in the Boven Digoel district in Papua," he said.
Permits issued for palm plantations across Papua, including in Boven Digoel, are marked by "many irregularities" and a "lack of transparency," said Mufti Ode, of Forest Watch Indonesia.
"The impact is that many companies have emerged who only want to seize natural resources without regard to environmental conditions and the rights of indigenous peoples," he said. "Companies proven to have violated the licensing process and who fail to recognize the existence and rights of the people must [have their licenses] revoked."
Eric Wakker, co-founder of sustainability consultancy Aidenvironment, called for the Indonesian government to issue a stop-work order on development within the project and to review the permits underpinning it.
"Given its history, to me it is clear that this Tanah Merah problem is the governments' of Malaysia and Indonesia to sort out, which minimally begins with a stop-work order and subsequent transparent review of the issued permits," he said. "The current governments are in power because people voted for clean development, so that means they must be seen to undo previous governments' mistakes as well."
He said he hoped Indonesia's anti-corruption commission, the KPK, would take a look at the Tanah Merah project, and even work with Malaysia's anti-graft agency, the MACC, which is "now much more free to operate than previously" after the ouster of former prime minister Najib Razak's government this year.
"Of course, this is not to deny Papuans the right to development but this project isn't the way to deliver that to them," Wakker said.
Tillack, of RAN, called on "any banks, investors or consumer good manufacturing companies connected to actors behind the Tanah Merah project" to "immediately cut ties" with them. She noted that Unilever and Nestle, two of the biggest palm oil users, had already stopped buying from the Hayel Saeed Anam Group.
"As the world's leaders unite in Poland to solve the climate crisis, we must call on political leaders to do what they can to ensure that the Tanah Merah project does not proceed," she said.
"If we lose this fight, if Shin Yang builds its giant sawmill, we will not only lose virgin rainforests that are the thriving heartbeat of Indonesia, we will lose the one chance we have to limit temperate increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius and stabilize our climate."
Jakarta Rebels in Indonesia's troubled Papua province demanded that the government hold negotiations on self-determination for the province and warned of more attacks.
Sebby Sambom, spokesman for the West Papua National Liberation Army, the military wing of the Free Papua Movement, said in a telephone interview that they attacked a government construction site last weekend because they believe the project is conducted by the military.
"Trans-Papua road projects are being carried out by Indonesian military and that is a risk they must bear," Sambom said. "We want them to know that we don't need development what we want is independence."
Jakarta, which for decades had a policy of sending Javanese and other Indonesians to settle in Papua to dilute the number of indigenous people, is now trying to spur economic development to dampen the separatist movement.
Local media have reported that army engineers are involved in several sections of a trans-Papua road network that will connect cities and districts in the province.
"Our leaders have declared a war zone since last year and warned that the trans-Papua road should be stopped, but Indonesia has ignored it," Sambom said.
He called for the government to agree to peace talks similar to ones that led to another province, Aceh, becoming semi-autonomous, or a "real referendum" on independence as occurred in the former Indonesian territory of East Timor.
"If Aceh and East Timor can get that opportunity, why don't we?" said Sambom, who said he was speaking near the border with neighbouring Papua New Guinea.
Papua is a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea. A declaration of independence from Dutch rule on Dec 1, 1961, was rejected by the Dutch and later by Indonesia.
An insurgency has simmered in Papua since the early 1960s, when Indonesia annexed the region. It was formally incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a UN-sponsored ballot that was seen as a sham by many.
Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta Former commissioner of National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), Natallius Pigai, opined the Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's administration did not have thoughtful planning to carry out the Trans Papua project in the conflict-prone area. Thus, he added, it became one of the conflict triggers that caused casualties.
"[The government] must have a well-planned strategy. Soeharto himself did not dare [to start the development project] because of potential conflict," said Natallius in a phone call on Saturday, December 8, referring to the second President of Republic of Indonesia.
He also criticized policies issued by Jokowi that involving military forces for the project. The involvement of Indonesian military Forces (TNI) personnel in conflict-prone regions is a high-risk order considering it is potentially disturbed public security and order in Papua.
According to Natallius, civil workers also felt serious threats when they stayed with TNI while on work. "People who are threatened are civil workers because they stay among military forces," he added.
During the planning of Papua toll road development project, Natallius along with Sipil Society had staged a protest to Jokowi in light of the involvement of TNI in the project in the conflict-prone region. However, the government maintained to deploy armed personnel. "Until what we've been worrying about happened; the shooting incident that took ones' life."
Earlier on December 2, a shooting carried out by an armed group killed 31 workers of Istaka Karya, while building bridges in Yigi River and Aurak River, Nduga, Papua.
East Aceh, Indonesia A group of men caught gambling were publicly whipped in Indonesia's conservative Muslim province of Aceh on Tuesday as a crowd of onlookers cheered.
The half dozen men were arrested this year at an internet cafe for online gambling an offence under Islamic law earning them between seven and 11 strokes each from a rattan cane.
At least one of the men winced in pain as a masked sharia officer lashed his back outside a mosque in East Aceh district. Dozens in the crowd jeered and called for the men to be whipped harder.
"They have violated the Qanun Jinayah (Islamic law) by being involved in gambling," Muliana, head of the general crime unit at the local prosecutors' office, told AFP.
Public flogging is a common punishment in Aceh for a range of offences including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.
Located at the northern tip of Sumatra island, it is the only province in the world's largest Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law. Aceh adopted sharia after it was granted special autonomy in 2001, an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.
Rights groups slam public caning as cruel, and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has called for it to end. But the practice has wide support among Aceh's mostly Muslim population around 98 percent of its five million residents practise Islam.
Earlier this year, Aceh said that flogging would be carried out behind prison walls in future, but some local governments have continued public whippings.
John McBeth, Jakarta He has fallen a long way since evolving from an independence fighter into Aceh's first democratically elected two-term governor, but Irwandi Yusuf's shock indictment on corruption charges throws light on the ugly political underbelly of a province that once earned sympathy around the world.
The latest in a growing line of Indonesian public officials accused of official malfeasance, Irwandi appeared before the Jakarta Corruption Court in late November on three offenses allegedly committed during his first term as governor in 2007-2012 and following his re-election in early 2017.
The 58-year-old politician is charged with two counts of unlawfully accepting unsolicited gratuities worth 40.7 billion rupiah (US$2.8 million) and also with taking 1.05 billion ($72,400) in bribes for allocating infrastructure projects to favored companies in the central regency of Bener Meriah.
There is no evidence to support claims that the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, Indonesia's most trusted institution, is taking sides in the struggle within a badly split Aceh leadership. In fact, sources close to the KPK say other Aceh figures are also under investigation for similar offenses.
"Judging from the current behavior of the GAM elites, they are shivering with fright at the prospect of similar corruption charges," says Otto Syamsuddin Ishak, a sociologist and chairman of the provincial human rights commission who believes Irwandi's fall was purely of his own making.
The now-suspended governor has been in a long-standing feud with old guard members of the Aceh Party (PA), the political vehicle of the disbanded Free Aceh Movement (GAM), whose 25-year armed struggle against the central government ended with the devastating 2004 tsunami, which claimed 167,000 lives.
"GAM's old guard will see this as a way of getting him out of politics," says another Acehnese analyst who requested anonymity, pointing to business interests and lucrative local government contracts as the underlying reason behind an ongoing conflict marked by assassinations and other violence in the only Indonesian province allowed to practice full Sharia law.
The indictments came only days after the graft-fighting commission surprisingly announced that Aceh had received the highest score in its 2017 Integrity Evaluation Index, an annual survey which put the country's other autonomous region, Papua, in last place.
Aceh was granted eight trillion rupiah (US$551 million) in special autonomy funds from the central government in 2018, bringing to 56 trillion rupiah (US$3.8 billion) the amount of money it has received since Aceh and Papua began receiving the funding in 2008.
The money is meant to be spent on education, health, infrastructure, economic empowerment, poverty reduction and social welfare, but Syiah Kuala University researcher Mirza Ardi claims "predatory elites" have been sucking up the funds through rigged government contracts.
"To make special autonomy more effective, the central government must intervene to monitor the implementation of the funding and to establish the rule of law to combat corruption," he wrote in an opinion piece last May.
It is a view shared by Indonesian Corruption Watch, an independent nongovernmental organization, which complains there is a lack of internal control in budget planning and that the home affairs ministry needs to improve its overall supervision of the Special Autonomy Fund.
Born in Biruen, a GAM hotspot on Aceh's northeast coast, Irwandi was captured by government intelligence agents in Jakarta in 2003, five years after joining the armed struggle, and sentenced to nine years' imprisonment.
He escaped from the shattered Banda Aceh prison in the chaotic aftermath of the 2004 tsunami and fled to Finland, finally hooking up with the exiled GAM leadership in Sweden where he became coordinator of negotiations with the Indonesian government.
Following the landmark 2005 Helsinki peace agreement, the US-trained veterinarian entered politics, winning the 2007 gubernatorial race with 38.2% of the vote and topping the polls in 15 of the war-weary province's 21 regencies.
Facing off against five other candidates, he was recognized for his integrity and political astuteness. But over the years the split in GAM ranks widened, hastened by the death in 2010 of unifying leader Hasan di Tiro, who had lived for decades in exile in Sweden.
In the 2012 gubernatorial election, Irwandi ran as an independent and was soundly beaten 55.9% to 29.2% by the movement's former "foreign minister," Zaini Abdullah, and his running mate Muzakir Manaf, GAM's one-time military commander.
But as head of the renamed Nanggroe Aceh Party (PNA) one of four local parties permitted under the autonomy laws Irwandi made a comeback five years later, this time with the backing of ex-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democrat Party.
Campaigning on a platform of corruption-free government and easy access to education and health care, he was elected to a second term in February 2017. But he soon found his policies and programs being blocked by the Aceh Party-dominated provincial parliament.
During his first term, Irwandi had also faced an uphill battle trying to curb the application of full Sharia law, never part of GAM's independence struggle, but later a tool used by some of its leaders to win the support of influential conservative clerics.
Although Islamic courts have long handled cases of marriage, divorce and inheritance, Sharia has been practiced in the province to a limited degree since 1999, when pluralist president Abdurrahman Wahid offered it as part of an inducement to bring GAM to the negotiating table.
Two years later, special autonomy legislation passed by Indonesia's Parliament gave the Aceh courts a green light to extend their reach into criminal justice, with subsequent legislation empowering the local government to set policies on religious life, custom and education.
The process of actually transforming the devoutly Muslim province into a slice of the Middle East began shortly after the 2005 peace accord when public canings were introduced for gambling, the sale and consumption of alcohol, and illicit sexual relations.
Since then, the increasingly zealous religious police, which like the rest of the bureaucracy has a vested interest in perpetuating its own power, is also dictating what women wear and encouraging neighbors to report on one another on morality issues.
In 2014, then-governor Abdullah and the new Aceh Party leadership pushed through a provincial regulation that increased the number of offenses punishable by caning and provided penalties for certain transgressions that could be applied to non-Muslims.
He also signed into law another qanun, or statutory regulation, under which no less than 5% of the provincial and district budgets must be allocated to implementing Islamic law in a province where education and health spending is already among the lowest in the country.
Within weeks of assuming office for a second time, Irwandi took the bold step of calling for an end to public canings usually carried out in front of mosques after Friday prayers in an effort to improve Aceh's international image, tarnished further by the recent well-publicized flogging of two gay men.
In the end, the ban never went into force, testimony to the difficulty found elsewhere in Indonesia in rowing back scores of Islamic bylaws that have been passed in seeming defiance of the Constitution and which have contributed to growing religious intolerance across the archipelago.
Ishak paints a grim picture of the political landscape in a province that remains the poorest on the island of Sumatra with 16% of its 5.1 million-strong population still below the poverty line. "Today, all political groups tied to GAM are split," he says. "In fact, that was the case among the Aceh people themselves after the conflict ended."
"It has been proven that the GAM elite have all failed as leaders, whether as governor, House speaker or mayor," he says. "But while that means the former combatants have failed, it does not mean new leaders cannot emerge from the grooming of political cadres in the Aceh Party or from outside the elite."
In Aceh today, there is only one real question: Will those same leaders who made so many sacrifices in the struggle for independence now be willing to let go? Or will their greed ultimately lead to their own destruction?
Jakarta Environmental activist Eva Bande and a local group from Central Java, Sedulur Sikep, have won the prestigious human rights Yap Thiam Hien award for their roles in agrarian conflicts.
Imdadun Rahmat, board supervisor of the Yap Thiam Hien foundation, noted the growing trend of conflicts that involved big corporations and local communities.
"There are problems such as conflicts between people and big corporations, whether they are mining corporations or oil palm plantations," Imdadun said.
"People were denied rights to their land and deprived of their land. Therefore, the struggle of those who fight to preserve the environment needed to be highlighted."
For decades, Eva has been fighting alongside the farmers of Toili in Luwuk, Banggal regency, Central Sulawesi, who wanted to protect their customary land from environmental disaster.
She was jailed from 2010 until 2014 for advocating for the farmers against a company who was allegedly exploiting them. She was later freed because President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo granted her clemency.
"I would like to say thank God [for this award]," Eva said after the ceremony. "Honestly, I never thought I would receive this award. I don't know if I deserve this honor. This is the result of a collective fight of people who fought alongside me."
Eva further said that she hoped the agrarian reform promised by Jokowi would happen.
"I hope that the president is determined to resolve agrarian conflicts and free the farmers who are still in jail," Eva said. "When I was pardoned by the President, he said that there should be no more criminalization, no other Eva Bandes."
Sedulur Sikep is a local community from Mount Kendeng, Central Java, which has been fighting against cement factories in the area, the presence of which they argued was harmful for both the environment and the local community.
Imdadun added that, as devout followers of Kejawen, a native faith, they were stigmatization by society. "The members of Sedulur Sikep were chosen because they had inspired other groups [to fight for the same cause]," he said.
"For example, they got academics involved in public discussions, particularly on the impact of [factories] in rural areas. Furthermore, they shed light on rotten dealings behind the business, such as manipulation of licensing practices. More importantly, they managed to inspire changes without using violence."
Gunretno, a member of Sedulur Sikep, said he was grateful for the acknowledgement. He also pointed out that the people needed the protection of the law.
"We don't mean to vilify [the government], but the government must remember that without its people, they wouldn't exist, so please act as good public servants," Gunretno said.
Imdadun further noted that the upcoming government needs to find a middle ground between human rights and development. "They have to support human rights-based development."
Indonesia is slated to elect a new president and vice president in April next year. Recent data showed that environmentalists have been the most persecuted activists over the past four years.
According to Protection International Indonesia data, about 80 percent of cases of human rights violations against activists and rights defenders from 2014 to 2018 involved environmentalists, many of whom have been jailed for what are widely believed to be dubious or legally flawed charges.
The prestigious Yap Thiam Hien award, named after a renowned lawyer and human rights activist who died in 1989, has acknowledged human rights activists since 1992. (spl)
Friski Riana, Jakarta Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko announced that people within the Cabinet have been delegated to handle unresolved cases of severe Human Rights violations.
"The truth is, the President delegated his task to several of his assistants but it is not an easy task itself to handle cases that happened in the far past," said Moeldoko at the Human Rights National Commission (Komnas HAM) on Tuesday, December 11.
According to Moeldoko, President Jokowi appointed several known names such as Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto and Attorney General Agung M. Prasetyo.
"That is the condition we are at. The victims will certainly not accept it if we do not show our care. [Which is why] we accept them with open arms at the Presidential Palace," Moeldoko continued; "It's proven that President Jokowi's administration has shown signs of caring toward this issue."
On May this year, the families of human rights violation victims acceded to President Jokowi's invitation and were present at the palace to discuss unhandled human rights violation cases. It marked the first time both parties met after Jokowi took office four years prior.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo decided to skip an event commemorating International Human Rights Day on Tuesday amid criticism the incumbent is not doing enough to resolve past human rights abuse cases.
Jokowi was initially scheduled to give a speech at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) headquarters and accept the commission's recommendations, but the President delegated his vice president, Jusuf Kalla, to attend the event on his behalf instead.
"The President apologizes that he is unable to attend the event because of his busy schedule," Kalla said in his speech. "I was supposed to attend a Human Rights Day event at the Law and Human Rights Ministry, but the President told me to go to Komnas HAM instead."
If Jokowi had attended the event, he would be the first Indonesian president in the country's history to ever visit the office of the state rights body, which handles various cases of rights violations, including investigations into past human rights abuse cases.
"It would have been a historic visit because, for the first time since Komnas HAM was established 25 years ago, a president visited our headquarters," Komnas HAM commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara said after the opening of the event on Tuesday morning.
Komnas HAM's recommendation included several suggestions for the country to resolve, among others, issues related to intolerance, agrarian conflicts and cases of gross human rights violations in the past, Beka said.'
In their 2014 presidential election campaign, Jokowi and Kalla promised to protect human rights as well as resolve cases of human rights violations. The promises were translated into their administration's nine-point development plan called Nawacita.
The Jokowi-Kalla administration has promised to resolve at least seven cases of gross human rights violations in the past, including the 1965 communist purge and the 1998 riots, however, human rights activists and families of victims have criticized the government's sluggish efforts to settle the cases over the years.
With Jokowi seeking re-election next year, facing his old rival Prabowo Subianto, a former military general with a checkered human rights record, the incumbent candidate is facing renewed pressures to keep his promises on human rights.
A coalition of civil society groups, comprising the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute and the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), as well as victims and families of victims of past human rights abuses, criticized Jokowi's no-show at the event.
They described his decision to avoid meeting victims who had waited in front of Komnas HAM's office as "Jokowi and Kalla's political stance of showing no commitment to upholding human rights and resolving past human rights abuse cases and other violations".
"[Kalla's] initial plan to leave from the [Komnas HAM office's] back door is very disappointing. Nawacita, which lists Jokowi's and Kalla's promises, are just lies at the end," they said.
"We require assurance that [Kalla's] attendance at the event was not just a gimmick ahead of the 2019 presidential election, but an occasion to discuss strategic and concrete ways to solve [human rights abuse cases]."
The activists also criticized what they perceived as Jokowi's heavy-handed approach in dealing with criticism.
With its Twitter account @KontraS, the human rights group took a direct jab at the Jokowi-Kalla administration by posting pictures and videos showing police and military personnel forming a blockade in front of activists and victims of human rights abuses, who stood in line while carrying signs of protest in front of the Komnas HAM headquarters.
Many of them brought black umbrellas, the signature prop used by those who participate in the weekly Kamisan, a silent protest that has been held routinely every Thursday for more than 10 years to demand justice for victims of human rights abuse cases.
"We initially lined up in order. Then we were blocked by three layers of police and military personnel (military, though we were not at war and not at the country's border) the @jokowi @Pak_JK regime is a liar, loser [and] repressive," Kontras tweeted.
Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) Governor Agus Widjojo said Indonesia was not ready yet to reconcile with severe human rights violation in the past. He added that Indonesians had not achieved the required moral foundation to achieve that level yet.
"The Indonesian public is not prepared to enter reconciliation. Why? We have yet to obtain the moral high ground," said Agus today in his speech at the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day at Hotel Royal Kuningan, South Jakarta.
Agus said human rights violators shared the same amount of sin, yet both parties had shown signs that they could not fully accept the dark past, said Agus, who is a survivor of one of Indonesia's bleak historical past, the September 30, 1965 purge.
Agus took the 1965 purge as an example, saying that many had failed to mention that the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) had also been accountable for numerous violations prior to October 2, 1965.
"From the state's point of view, the government has a major sin. But they could not move on from 'the state can do no wrong' perception," said Agus.
Agus went on to say that reconciliation was still hampered by the misconception adopted by state agencies, which often protected its personnel that were guilty of criminal violations in hopes of defending their organization's reputation.
Furthermore, Agus deems that moral high ground measures a civilization's maturity and is deeply necessary. And without it, he continued, reconciliation would be impossible.
"This goes to show that our civilization is not that advanced. We are still locked in a culture based on vengeance, a culture of violence," said Agus. Agus then gave an example of the human rights court formed to handle the Serbian case, Yugoslavia, and Cambodia.
However, he said that Japan was able to cover its dark past during the second world war in the name of national interest. "That is an example of how difficult it is to resolve past human rights violations," said Agus.
Jakarta Vice President Jusuf Kalla says it is not just the general public which has fallen victim to human rights abuses but the government has also been a victim of rights violations.
He gave as an example the recent shooting of Trans Papua road project construction workers and TNI (Indonesian military) personnel in Nduga which he believes was a serious human rights violation against the government.
"Many government officials have had their rights violated. Who are the violators? Not the military but members of the public who are anti-government who frequently violate human rights", said Kalla when giving greetings at the commemoration of International Human Rights Day at the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) building in Jakarta on Tuesday December 11.
Kalla said that he deeply regrets that people murdered the construction workers and TNI personnel without reason and believes that it was a gross violation of the law.
Moreover, Kalla is asking that Komnas HAM as the institution with the authority to resolve such cases do so as justly and fairly as possible. "We must resolve this properly. I believe that Komnas HAM will be fair, so the government is not always in the position of the accused but also the victim", said Kalla.
Leaving aside this issue, Kalla said he believes that reconciliation is still the best way to resolve such problems. He reflected on the separatist conflict in Aceh when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in the province known as the Gateway to Mecca. Kalla also took part in resolving the conflict.
"Don't [just] accuse the government of violating human rights, there are also those who burn down schools, kill people, so it's just the same. So we need reconciliation", he said. (psp/arh)
As one of the people directly involved in brokering the August 2005 peace deal between the government and the Free Aceh Movement, Kalla should know that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (KKR) tasked to look into human rights violations during the three-decade long conflict in Aceh was in fact never established. Although a draft law on the KKR was adopted by the Aceh legislative council it was never able to be ratified after the Constitutional Court in 2006 annulled the 2000 Human Rights Trials Law which mandated the creation of the KKR.
Jakarta When Vice President Jusuf Kalla (JK) arrived at the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to commemorate International Human Rights Day on Tuesday December 11, he was greeted with a demonstration by families and relatives of victims of human violations.
The protesters were demanding that the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Kalla fulfill its pledge to resolve past human rights cases.
The protesters came from families of the victims of the mysterious shootings (Petrus) in the 1980s, the May 1998 Jakarta riots, the 1965-66 anti-communist purge, the 1989 Talangsari massacre, the 2007 assassination of renewed rights activists Munir Said Thalib and the 2017 acid attack against Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan.
They were demonstrating against Kalla who was there in place of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo who was initially scheduled to attend the event. The protesters shouted out calling on the government to immediately resolve the violations which have befallen them and their families.
As Kalla exited the Komnas HAM building the demonstrators held up banners and placards with messages urging that their cases be resolved.
When they pushed forward towards Kalla however, who was accompanied by Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko, the demonstrators were blocked by security personnel and the presidential security detail (paspampres).
"Human rights [day] is commemorated today, but cases of human rights cases are still zonk [have come to nothing], but [you] brazenly pledge, sell the sweet promises of Nawa Cita [Widodo's nine point priority program]. They've never been resolved", cried one of the speakers facing off against the Paspampres officers guarding Kalla.
The protesters said they were demonstrating at Komnas HAM in order to remind the government in person not to turn human rights into a political commodity but fulfill and realise human rights as part of social life. "Don't be a regime that lies and lies again, that tramples on the ordinary people's rights", the speaker said.
Several of the protesters even accused Widodo, Kalla and security personnel of acting repressively by preventing the demonstrators from approaching Kalla. "This politically symbolic, a political position", they said.
"To all members of Indonesian society, this must be remembered in the 2019 presidential and legislative elections, that in fact Jokowi-JK have no political commitment to resolve cases of past human rights violations", continued the speaker.
Putri Kanesia from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) meanwhile called on all parties to urge Widodo to immediately resolve gross human rights violations and other abuses in a manner which is concrete and accountable before the 2019 presidential election.
"There are still nine past cases of gross human rights violation which based on Komnas HAM's pro-judicial investigations are still stuck at the Attorney General's Offices for various reasons, such as there is insufficient evidence or that the government of Indonesia has not yet formed an ad hoc Human Rights Court", she said.
Kanesia said that she is deeply disappointed by the government's attitude to human rights.
"As we approach the end of the Jokowi-Kalla administration's term in office there has still not been a single case that has been successfully brought before an ad hoc human rights court and no perpetrators have been brought to justice. Yet the pledge to resolve these cases was included in the Jokowi-JK Nawa Cita when they were elected in 2014", she said. (tst/arh)
Reza Deni, Jakarta Protesters from an alliance of rights groups held a rally in front of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) offices during a commemoration of the 70th International Human Rights Day on Tuesday December 11.
The activists came from a number of groups including the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), Amnesty International Indonesia and the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), as well as families of victims of human rights violations.
Although President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was invited to the event he did not attend and was replaced by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who was accompanied by Presidential Chief of Staff retired General Moeldoko.
After the event was over the protesters continued to rally in front of the front gates. Kalla waved to the demonstrators as he left but did not give greetings or make any remarks whatsoever.
A scuffle broke out between protesters and security personnel when Kalla and his entourage tried to leave. Security personnel reinforced a security blockade and the shouts of protest by demonstrators could be heard.
"Really over the top yeah, the police are paid for by the ordinary people don't you know?", shouted one of the protesters.
A speaker representing LBH Jakarta, Pratiwi Febry, slammed the repressive actions by security personnel against those protesting that afternoon. "When security personnel act repressively, it means a provocation", said Febry.
Security personnel did not respond to the curses from the demonstrators and it was at this time that the security blockade was loosened to allow Kalla and his entourage to leave. "Protection there, you lot protect tuan [Kalla]", they said.
Febry asserted that security personnel committed a human rights violation right in front of the Komnas HAM office. "Repressive actions clearly took place right in front of our eyes", said Febry.
As has been reported, Komnas HAM held a series of events commemorating International Human Rights Day on December 11 at its offices in Jakarta. Aside from Kalla and Moeldoko, the event was attended by several religious and public figures. Neither Kalla nor Moeldoko made a statement in response to the protest.
And when the protesters found out that Widodo was not going to attend, there was much disappointment and many questions. There were outbursts of anger and jokes by the participants such as "Widodo is afraid of being protested" and the like.
The protesters had initially hoped that Widodo would attend the event and meet with protesters.
"And we also hoped the meeting would not just be turned into an image building exercise in the lead up to the 2019 pilpres [presidential election], but would be used as an opportunity to discuss strategic and concrete measures to resolve cases of past gross human rights violations and other human rights abuses in Indonesia", said Kontras deputy coordinator Putri Kanesia.
Shortly after Kalla left, at around 3pm the protesters in front of the Komnas HAM offices disbanded.
Jakarta The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says that the issue of past human rights violations are turned into a political commodity every time there is a presidential election. Yet, after one of the candidates is elected as president, human rights issues are simply ignored.
"Each time human rights start out as a political banquet then it's always turned into a bargaining chip by candidates. Then after they're elected issues related to human rights are no longer a priority", said Kontras Coordinator Putri Kanesia at the Kontras offices in Jakarta on International Human Rights Day Monday December 10.
Kanesia said that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as the incumbent presidential candidates is an example of someone who turns the issue of human rights into a political commodity. This was demonstrated by lack of any follow up after Widodo met with representatives of the families of victims of past violations at the State Palace on May 31.
At the time, Widodo who was accompanied by representatives of the presidential staff, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and the Attorney General's Offices, met with representatives of the victims of the 1965-66 anti-communist purge, the 1984 Tanjung Priok shootings, the 1989 Talangsari massacre and the families of victims of the May 1998 riots in Jakarta, the forced disappearances of political activists in 1997-98 and the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in 1997-98.
Widodo, she said, pledged to resolve past human rights violations but to this day, the promise has never been realised.
Because these pledges are never realised, said Kanesia, Kontras is convinced that in 2019 there will not be one human rights case which will be brought before an ad hoc Human Rights Court.
"So the chances of this are indeed closed. So we say that there is no space for human rights. Because the facts are that this is what has happened, not many candidates are looked at in terms of their track record related to whether or not they are involved with cases of human rights violations", she said.
Impunity monitoring division staff member Dimas Bagus Arya Saputra added that the meeting between Widodo and the families of victims in May should have been a catalyst to formulate concrete steps to resolve human rights violations which prioritise the principles of justice and truth for the victims.
"It turned out however that the meeting was little more than an exercise in political image building carried out by Joko Widodo in the lead up to the 2019 political contest", said Saputra.
Saputra also touched on the Presidential Chief of Staff at the time, Moeldoko, who never followed up Widodo's proposal to accommodate the wishes of the families and start a dialogue with the victims in order to formulate a way to resolve the cases.
"to this day Moeldoko has still not taken any steps or actions to interact with the victims and the families of victims of past gross human rights violations", he said. (jps/osc)
See: Families of rights victims leave empty handed after meeting with Jokowi comes to nothing KBR. May 31, 2018
Jakarta Human rights activist and former coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Haris Azhar, says that the protection and fulfillment of human rights will not receive any attention from either candidate in the 2019 presidential election.
According to Azhar, presidential candidate number 1 President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and presidential candidate number 2 Prabowo Subianto both have poor records on human rights.
The situation is different from the 2014 presidential election where Widodo used human rights issues as material for his campaign.
"Human rights will not be merchandise for either of them. They (Prabowo and Widodo) won't use the big human rights narrative because neither of them are human rights friendly", said Azhar at a discussion in Central Jakarta on Monday December 10.
Azhar said that as presidential candidates, neither Widodo nor Prabowo have any capacity with regard to human rights protection or fulfillment.
He believes that during his term in office, Widodo has only presented a narrative about human rights but has never produced any policies. One of these relates to his pledge to solve past cases of gross human rights violations.
As is widely known, one of the points in Widodo's Nawa Cita nine point priority program was a pledge to priorities a just resolution to past cases of human rights violations. Widodo also made a commitment to resolve eight past human rights cases which he referred to as a social and political burden for the country.
The eight cases were the May 1998 riots in Jakarta, the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in 1997-98, the 1997-98 forced disappearance of political activists, the 1989 Talangsari massacre, the 1964 Tanjung Priok shooting of Muslim protesters and the 1965 anti-communist purge. Despite this, none of these cases have ever been resolved.
Prabowo meanwhile has a dark record on human rights. As the commander of the army's Special Forces (Kopassus), Prabowo stands accused of being involved in the forced disappearance of 13 activists in 1997-1998.
"Nether presidential ticket has much capacity with regard to protecting and fulfilling human rights", said Azhar.
Anne Barker Shortly before he died last year, a poor Indonesian farmer sat in a wheelchair in a room in eastern Java and addressed a panel of judges at the District Court in the Hague via Skype.
Frail and at times trembling, Yaseman told the judges how the Royal Dutch Indies army had held him captive for more than a year and tortured him in 1947, when he was still a teenager.
Dutch forces fighting to reoccupy Indonesia after World War II had arrested him on suspicion of being an Indonesian freedom fighter at the height of the 1945 1949 independence war.
Soldiers had smashed his skull with a lump of wood and stubbed a cigarette out on his head. As the judges watched online, he showed them two round scars in his scalp.
Yaseman, who has only one name, made multiple torture claims, alleging that he was forced to drink large volumes of water before being kicked in the stomach.
He said he was also subjected to electric shock, telling the court wires hooked to a small machine were attached to his finger and sent jolts down his body.
"Shocks are worse," Yaseman was quoted as saying in a translated court document. "You can feel a beating once, I can handle that. But power goes through your entire body and continues to hurt."
Yaseman was 89 when he gave evidence. But despite his age and frailty he recounted his story in convincing detail.
"He had such a sharp memory," says his grandson Iswanto, who sat beside him in the "virtual courtroom". "He often talked about his past. Every time someone came over, friends, neighbours, relatives, he would tell his story to anyone who'd listen."
But Yaseman didn't live to hear the judges' decision. He died a few months after giving evidence.
In July the court accepted his testimony as proof that Dutch forces had indeed subjected him to torture.
The court found enough evidence to prove Yaseman's claims about the beatings and the cigarette burns, however, the electric shock and water torture were unable to be verified.
In the ruling, the court did concede the use of such torture methods was "entirely possible". The Dutch Government was ordered to pay damages and costs worth around $12,000.
Now the Dutch Government is appealing against the court ruling, much to the anger of Yaseman's family and lawyers.
"It is a known fact that the Netherlands engaged in large-scale torture during the independence war," said his lawyer in Amsterdam, Liesbeth Zegveld.
"Of all the victims, only one has registered with the court, and that is Mr Yaseman. "It is a shame that the state will not take responsibility, even for this one case."
More than perhaps any other nation, the Netherlands is held up as the global capital of justice.
The International Criminal Court in the Hague routinely delivers rulings on human rights abuses around the world, including genocide, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity.
But the Yaseman case has reignited debate about the country's own colonial past and raised questions about whether the Netherlands has fully acknowledged its own history of abuse.
The Dutch Government is not necessarily challenging the facts of the case, even though it had argued there was no proof Yaseman's wounds were caused by Dutch forces, because Indonesian fighters had also committed atrocities during the independence war.
Ms Zegveld says it appears to be challenging the right of claimants like Yaseman to rely on evidence that is 70 years old. It wants an appeals court to uphold the statute of limitations that would normally block such claims.
It's a stance she rejects, given the International Criminal Court in the Hague applies no such time limits in cases elsewhere. "The Netherlands wants to be seen as the capital of international law," Ms Zegveld says.
"But when it comes to their own behaviour, their political will fails and prevents them from seeing what they have done themselves. When crimes are committed on such a wide scale, and the state leaves all these victims behind and then remains completely passive for the next 70 years, they have no right to invoke time bars."
The Dutch decision to challenge the Yaseman ruling is at odds with its response to an earlier court ruling. The same District Court in the Hague in 2011 ordered the Netherlands to compensate the widows or relatives of 150 men killed in a massacre at Rawagede in west Java in December 1947.
Those cases led to an ongoing compensation scheme that awards 20,000 euros to widows who can prove their case. Around 50 women have since received compensation. The Dutch government later made a formal public apology for the thousands of summary executions carried out by Dutch troops in Indonesia.
The court is still hearing the cases of another 20 or more widows in Java and Sulawesi, who have also given evidence in a "virtual court". A decision on their claims is expected early next year.
And countless more cases have been lodged by the children of executed men, who may also be eligible for compensation.
Ms Zegveld says while the Dutch Government agreed to acknowledge the widows' claims and pay compensation, she has no doubt its appeal against the Yaseman ruling is to prevent these other cases proceeding.
"They want an appeals court to decide that 70 years after the event it is simply too late to bring a case to court, and that time bars should be applied as strictly as they are in other cases," she says. "The state should not be allowed to invoke this defence."
One non-governmental organisation representing Indonesian claimants says the Dutch Government refuses to face up to the actions of its forces during the 1945-1949 independence war.
"The state appeal proves that the Netherlands still takes no responsibility for what happened there," wrote Foundation Committee of Dutch Debts of Honour chair Jeffry Pondaag. "Beyond a doubt this is a violation of human rights of the first order."
The Dutch Government maintains it is committed to international human rights and the rule of law. In 2016 it announced a long-running inquiry into atrocities committed in the last days of its colonial rule in Indonesia and warned the inquiry could prove "painful" for Dutch veterans from that period.
"The Netherlands places a high value on protecting and promoting human rights, international law and the rule of law," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at the time.
But Mr Pondaag questions the inquiry's independence, given that one of the three research institutions involved the Netherlands Institute of Military History comes under the direct control of the Dutch Defence Ministry.
The NMIH "supports the state in opposing and rejecting claims like Yaseman's", he wrote in a letter to the Government last year. The government inquiry is not due to report for several years.
Jakarta Indonesia is an increasingly dangerous place for people defending the environment and their land, activists have claimed, with recent data showing environmentalists being the most persecuted activists over the past four years.
According to Protection International Indonesia data, about 80 percent of cases of human rights violations against activists and rights defenders from 2014 to 2018 involved environmentalists, many of whom have been sent to jail on what activists believe are dubious or legally flawed charges.
During this period, the group recorded at least 104 cases of rights violations involving environmentalists and people defending their lands. By comparison, only 10 cases involving antigraft activists were recorded during the same period, and only 11 cases involving environmental defenders from 2010 to 2013.
Activists have pinned the blame for this spike on the ongoing development drive, including in infrastructure, of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, saying that the President's development policies lack environmental and human rights perspectives.
The Jokowi administration has allocated 410.4 trillion (US$28.2 billion) for infrastructure development by the end of this year. The figure is more than twice the budget allocation in the 2014 state budget (about Rp 177 trillion) under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration.
Jokowi, who is seeking reelection next year, has also been touting infrastructure development in his election campaigns.
Protection International Indonesia recorded that at least 89 environmentalists were imprisoned for their activism during the last four years, making alleged criminalization by state actors the most common form of human rights violation against activists.
This number includes four residents defending their lands in Kulonprogo, Yogyakarta, against the development of an international airport compound and six others in West Java also fighting for their land against another airport development.
Six people from Mount Kendeng in Central Java who have been fighting against cement factories are also in the list. The 14 people from the three different cases all faced criminal charges as a result of their protests, the list shows.
Another recent example was the sentencing of Heri Budiawan, also known as Budi Pego, to four years in prison for spreading communism.
The activist was arrested in September 2017 for allegedly displaying a banner with a hammer-and-sickle logo during a protest against gold mining activities in Tumpang Pitu, a mountainous area in Banyuwangi, East Java, that is believed to be prone to environmental degradation.
Tumpang Pitu had been designated a protected forest area, but on Nov. 19, 2013, then forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan, now the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker and National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman, issued a decree changing the status of 1,942 hectares of protected forest to production forest in Tumpang Pitu, paving the way for mining operations to begin.
Other than being criminalized, environmentalists have also been facing intimidation and violence.
In September 2015, a 52-year-old farmer named Salim, or Kancil, was beaten to death by a group of people in Selok Awar-Awar subdistrict, Pasirian district after co-arranging a protest against invasive sand-mining in his village. The protest halted the quarrying and blocked dozens of trucks transporting the sand.
Protection International Indonesia director Damairia Pakpahan said economic development that disregarded environmental aspects was the main reason behind violations of the human rights of environmentalists.
"They only pursue profits without caring about the environmental rights," Pakpahan told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
She argued that neither the government nor corporations followed universal human rights standards in development, as the nation had yet to draft a legal instrument to outline such standards.
"Our law enforcement officials have no clue about environmental rights, let alone have an awareness about human rights," she said.
Other than environmentalists, human rights defenders, labor activists and women's activists are also still facing the same risks. Protection International Indonesia has recorded a total of 145 violations against those activists since 2010.
"There are some names like Eva Bande, Mama Aletha Alomang, Mama Aletha Baun, who are women's human rights defenders and also environmentalists."
Pakpahan said that clear legal policies regarding activism were badly needed. At the very least, she said, the government should educate officials about the rights of activists as stipulated in the current legislation.
"For example, there is already legal protection for environmentalists as stipulated under Article 66 of the 2009 Environmental Law. However, criminal charges against environmentalists still occur in Indonesia."
National Commission on Human Rights commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara said that the policies should not only protect activists, but also citizens who fight for their rights.
"Citizens who fight against these [abuses] have also experienced various violations. Law enforcers also play a role in this because they often make accusations without looking at the context," he said.
With regard to the environmentalists, he said the government should formulate a national standard of business and human rights as a reference for law enforcers and developers, including state-owned enterprises.
The commission also suggested that the government establish a special agency to resolve agrarian conflicts which often lead to human rights violations to better protect both citizens and environmentalists.
"The law enforcers should be on the same page as us [...] so that violations against them will not happened again in the future," Hapsara said. (ggq)
Jakarta Hundreds of people from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) and other regional based groups held a protest action next to the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Tuesday December 11.
They were demanding that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo fulfill his commitment to deal with cases of alleged human rights violations, particularly those which have befallen community and environmental activists.
"The current situation is a human rights emergency. According to our records there have been 723 cases of criminalisation which have befallen communities fighting for their livelihoods", said Walhi campaign manager Wahyu Perdana when speaking with CNN Indonesia.
Aside from communities, a number of expert environmental witnesses are also facing the threat of indictment. Yet, said Perdana, according to the law parties fighting environmental problems cannot be prosecuted.
Perdana cited a number of human rights cases which have befallen communities and environmental activists including, among others, the case of Pari Island fisherpeople fighting the company PT Bumi Pari Asri, the Coal-fired Power Plant (PLTU) construction project in Indramayu and the case of Heri Budiawan alias Budi Pego who was fighting the company PT Merdeka Copper Gold.
Budi Pego is an environmental activist who was opposing gold mining activities in Banyuwangi, East Java, which ended with him being reported to police and subsequently jailed for spreading communist ideas.
Perdana regrets that these human rights problems have received no attention at all from Widodo. "What we deplore is that there has not been a single statement by the head of state in relation to this", he said.
Walhi is urging Widodo to immediately ensure a resolution to human rights cases linked to agrarian conflicts and is calling on the Supreme Court to act fairly in handing down verdicts related to the environment.
"We are also urging the government to stop the involvement of the security forces and repressive actions which are accompanied by the practice of criminalisation in agrarian conflicts", he said.
At 1.30pm today, Widodo is scheduled to attend a commemoration of International Human Rights Day 2918 at the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) building in Central Jakarta. As of this article being posted, there has been no confirmation on Widodo's attendance. (psp/wis)
Friski Riana, Jakarta Vice President Jusuf Kalla has said the increasingly rife corruption in the country is the direct effect of reformation.
Kalla expained corruption in the past was only rampant in the central government, but now it had spread to regional administrations, the House of Representatives (DPR), and the Legislative.
"That is the direct effect of reformation, the change in our government system," Kalla said in an event that awarded corruption-free work units at Hotel Sultan, Jakarta, today.
Kalla added decentralization and the balance of legislative, executive, and judiciary bodies were what happened post-reform.
According to the vice president, the New Order era had controlled every decision on the country's developments, and that now the authority had been handed to regional governments. "That is why corruption has spread to regions," Kalla said.
Kalla explained the legislative during then president Soeharto's tenure was only tasked to approve decisions, as opposed to the present situation where the legislative would argue with the government prior to giving its approval.
"This gives a certain power to the government and that has become a part of how people provide something to the House of Representatives (DPR)," he said. "People become corrupt because they want to be first in line to be served," said Jusuf Kalla.
As Indonesia's current Minister of Finance and a former managing director at the World Bank, Sri Mulyani is no doubt one of the most powerful women in Indonesia (she was even ranked the 37th most powerful women in the world by Forbes in 2016).
Despite that, she still works with men who have the balls to make sexist jokes right in front of her at official events though perhaps not anymore after the dressing down she gave to two officials recently.
While attending a launch event about the digitalization of Ultra Micro (UMi) financing at the Ministry of Finance office on Tuesday, Sri Mulyani called out two of the presenters for their male-centric mindsets.
First, she scolded Director General of Treasury Marwanto Harjowiryono for showing a video about microcredit featuring actors who were almost all men.
"Pak Marwanto, I regret that the first video about ultra micro financing was dominated by male actors it's totally wrong. In reality, micro business/enterprises have been dominated by women. Please correct your mindset, that video is very male-minded (androcentric)," Sri Mulyani said to Marwanto, as quoted by Kompas.com.
She later joked that, in addition to the video, she realized that's the event had also been dominated by male participants.
The other target of Sri Mulyani's criticism was the director of the Telecommunication Accessibility and Information Agency at the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology, Anang Latif, who made an unfortunate joke at the expense of women before her speech.
Anang had said that male staffers who frequently go on official visits out of town need to be careful because their wives might remarry, since they're always left alone.
"I would like to correct Anang Latif's joke, 'I always tell [male government officials] not to work too often because their partners could [remarry].' It's a very sexist joke, I ask all of you not to repeat that joke again. I am asking this on behalf of women, to maintain our dignity that we not to be treated merely as objects," Sri Mulyani said.
After getting the warning from the former World Bank managing director, Anang responded by holding his palms together, as if in apology, and promised not to repeat the joke again.
Some of the guests clapped their hands after the finance minister's speech, while others seemed to laugh due to the rather awkward turn of events. Sri Mulyani continued her speech by telling the audience about the power of women in local business.
She mentioned that 90 percent of Ultra Micro financing involved women, who use the program to increase their household income.
"I talked to Bukalapak, Go-Pay, and Tokopedia, merchants (micro business) that are 90% dominated by women. Thank you so much for helping a lot of women be able to work," Sri Mulyani said, a statement that was greeted by thunderous applause from the invitees.
Sri Mulyani is certainly not someone who shies away from calling out other officials. A day before the aforementioned event, she called out a district head who had spent too much of his budget by visiting her office 46 times in the past year.
Last year, she called out Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan for enacting too many regional programs his administration had initiated 207 programs consisting of 6,287 services. Sri Mulyani told Anies to focus on flagship programs instead, so her ministry could track them easier.
Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta Agni, a pseudonym used by a female Gadjah Mada University (UGM) student who was allegedly raped by a fellow student last year, has reportedly refused to report her alleged rapist to the police. She is worried that the law might not protect her.
"Agni wants the UGM to handle the case. This is the time for it to step up and make structural changes in dealing with sexual violence," Selma Theofany, the spokesperson for #kitaAgni (WeAreAgni), said at a recent rally held at the university.
Husna Yuni Wulansari, a #kitaAgni volunteer, said Agni was surprised to learn that the university had reported the case to the police in mid-November without consulting her first. Husna added that Agni was of the opinion that the legal proceedings would be counterproductive to what she sought justice and maximum protection.
On Nov. 5, the UGM's student magazine, Balairung, published an investigative report based on Agni's testimony. In it she alleged that a fellow student had sexually assaulted her during a community service assignment (KKN) in a Maluku village on June 30, 2017.
The alleged perpetrator, HS, has completed his undergraduate studies but his graduation was put on hold after the mainstream media picked up the story.
UGM criminal law expert Sri Wiyanti Eddyono said the structure and content of the law in Indonesia, especially when it comes to gender violence, remained biased in favour of perpetrators.
"Our criminal law still sees rape and sexual assault within the context of immorality, not as a form of crime against body and soul. This is a problem," added Wiyanti who also chairs an ethics team set up to examine the Agni case.
She said rape culture was entrenched in the law culture, which only further aggravated the victim's physical and mental suffering.
The UGM's deputy rector overseeing cooperation and alumni, Paripurna P. Sugarda, said it did not consult with Agni before filing the case with the police, considering that it had been widely covered and publicized, adding that the university believed that the police would have eventually taken the initiative to investigate the case.
In Indonesia, rape cases are only investigated after the victim files a report with the police.
Paripurna said by filing a report, the UGM could provide legal assistance, adding that the police would now be obligated to act after it filed the report. "We want to protect the students," said Paripurna who is also a law expert.
Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) director Yogi Zul Fadhli said a sexual abuse survivor might refuse a legal proceeding if she does not feel ready and comfortable with the process. "The whole process has to prioritize and take into consideration the survivor's interests," he added.
Ryan Dwiky Anggriawan, Jakarta Civil society organisations held a march and protest action in Jakarta on Saturday December 8 calling on the House of Representatives (DPR) to immediately enact the Draft Law (RUU) on the Eradication of Sexual Violence. The chairperson of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), Azriana Manalu, also took part in the action.
"This is a civil society movement made up of several civil society organisations, trade unions and victim support groups. They are holding this action to urge the government and the DPR RI [Republic of Indonesia] to immediately enact the RUU on the eradication of sexual violence", said Manalu shortly after giving her greetings to the rally.
According to Manalu, the RUU on the eradication of sexual violence has been included in the national legislation program (prolegnas) since 2016 and became a priority prolegnas in 2017 and 2018. Yet, she said, the RUU has still not been deliberated.
"The public has lost patience because every day people fall victim to sexual violence, meanwhile deliberations on legal protections have been extremely slow", said Manalu.
Manalu said that the large number of sexual violence cases occurring in society, particularly against women, is because sexual violence is not properly recognised in the Criminal Code (KUHP). As a consequence, she said, the legal process is never easy and prosecutions burden the victims.
"We need special legislation to protect society from sexual violence in a comprehensive way, an RUU which can regulate this from top to bottom. In order to ensure that sexual violence can be stopped", she said.
The action, which began at 8am at the Sarinah department store parking lot in Central Jakarta, was continued with a march to the Aspiration Monument located near the National Monument (Monas).
Upon arriving at the Aspiration Monument protesters gave speeches from a stage calling for the immediate ratification of the RUU on the eradication of sexual violence.
Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta Gadjah Mada University (UGM) rector Panut Mulyono on Friday apologized to the public for the slow handling of a recent case of alleged sexual assault involving two students, which put the top university under a national spotlight.
"UGM leadership admits that the handling of this case has been slow and UGM apologizes for that," Panut told a press conference in Yogyakarta.
Throughout the press conference, Panut avoided calling the case one of rape or attempted rape, pending consultations with legal counselors and ethics committee members.
"UGM acknowledges that the culture of victim-blaming is one of the reasons behind the slow progress in fulfilling the survivor's rights," he added.
On Nov. 5, UGM student magazine Balairung published an investigative report based on the testimony of a female student with the pseudonym Agni, who said a fellow student had assaulted her during a community service assignment at a Maluku village on June 30, 2017.
The alleged perpetrator, an engineering student, has completed his undergraduate degree pending a graduation ceremony.
Panut further lamented the impact of the slow handling of the case on the psychological, financial and academic progress of both the accuser and the accused. During the press conference, a group of students participated in a rally, holding posters bearing messages such as #kitaAGNI (WeAreAgni) and "I'm Agni. I'm watching you!"
The university's official apology was made after #kitaAGNI movement representatives met with UGM leaders in late November. (swd)
The stranger showed up at the girl's door one night with a tantalising job offer: Give up your world, and I will give you a future.
It was a chance for 16-year-old Marselina Neonbota to leave her isolated village in one of the poorest parts of Indonesia for neighboring Malaysia, where some migrant workers can earn more in a few years than in a lifetime at home. A way out for a girl so hungry for a life beyond subsistence farming that she walked 22km every day to the schoolhouse and back.
She grabbed the opportunity and disappeared.
The cheerful child known as Lina joined the army of Indonesians who migrate every year to wealthier countries in Asia and the Middle East for work. Thousands come home in coffins, or vanish. Among them, possibly hundreds of trafficked girls have quietly disappeared from the impoverished western half of Timor island and elsewhere in Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province.
The National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Workers has counted more than 2600 cases of dead or missing Indonesian migrants since 2014. And even those numbers mostly leave out people like Lina who are recruited illegally an estimated 30 per cent of Indonesia's 6.2 million migrant workers.
On that night in 2010, Lina didn't seem to sense the danger posed by the stranger named Sarah.
Lina's great-aunt and great-uncle, who had raised her, were initially hesitant. But Lina's aunt, Teresia Tasoin, knew a Malaysian salary could support the whole family.
Sarah promised she would only take Lina to the provincial capital of Kupang for one night to organise her paperwork, then bring her back the next day for a prayer service.
Less than one hour after Sarah walked into their home, she walked back out with Lina. Looking back on it now, Tasoin crumbles. "I regret it," she says through tears. "I regret letting her go."
When it comes to tracking the fate of migrants, Asia is the blackest of black holes.
Though it has more migrants than any region on earth, it has the least data on those who vanish. In an exclusive tally, The Associated Press found more than 8000 cases of dead and missing migrants in Asia and the Mideast since 2014, in addition to the 2700 listed by the UN's International Organisation for Migration. Countless other cases are never reported.
These workers reflect part of the hidden toll of global migration. An AP investigation documented at least 61,135 migrants dead or missing worldwide in the same period, a tally that keeps rising. That's more than double the number found by the IOM, the only group that has tried to count them.
In deeply Christian East Nusa Tenggara, the church has become one of the few advocates for the dead and disappeared. With the impoverished province home to the highest number of trafficking cases in the country, nuns and priests have transformed themselves into counter-trafficking crusaders.
Sister Laurentina who like many Indonesians goes by only one name waits at West Timor's airport for the arrival of nearly every migrant worker's corpse that is flown back to Kupang, a ritual that has earned her the nickname "Sister Cargo." Some of the migrants die from accidents or illness, she says. Others from neglect and abuse.
The nun is one of the few people in West Timor even trying to track the missing. Since 2012, she has traveled across the island to educate villagers on the dangers of traffickers.
She has held at least 20 meetings this year alone. Laurentina asks each audience if anyone has lost contact with a relative who migrated for work. And at every meeting, for six years, at least one or two people have told her: Yes, my child is missing. Most are girls.
The remoteness of West Timor and a lack of education mean many people just don't understand the danger.
With no real industry in the drought-punished region, generations of villagers have migrated to Malaysia to work as maids or on plantations. But in the past few years, migrant trafficking has picked up, as traffickers move to remote areas in search of fresh, unsuspecting prey.
Finding the missing girls is virtually impossible, says Among Resi, head of the IOM's counter-trafficking and labor migration unit in Indonesia. The families have almost no details on where their child has gone.
The assumption, Resi says, is that many of the girls are trapped in their employers' homes. Domestic workers are highly vulnerable to abuse, because they toil behind closed doors for families who often take their passports to stop them from fleeing. Other girls, Resi says, may have run away and encountered trouble elsewhere.
Priest Maximus Amfotis says he regularly hears of teens from his village migrating to Malaysia for work, never to return. There was a new case just two weeks ago, he says. "If we cannot stop this problem," he says, "I fear that the current generation will be lost."
Five years after Lina disappeared, the military paid a chance visit to her village. Lina's uncle, Laurencius Kollo, told them about the night his niece walked out the door. The soldiers alerted the police.
Kollo and his wife waited for news. It never came. The years dragged on. Kollo prayed every night for his niece's return.
And then, one day in March this year, word arrived that a neighbour's daughter was returning home from Malaysia. Maybe, Kollo thought, Lina was coming with her.
Fueled by excitement, the frail 69-year-old scaled a tree to pick some betel leaves. As he clung to the branches, he watched the sun set and daydreamed about Lina. He longed to hug her. Lost in his memories, Kollo slipped. He crashed to the earth and blacked out. When he awoke, his arm was broken. And so was his heart.
Because Lina never came home that day.
Jakarta Hundreds of workers from the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI) held a protest march on Saturday December 8 from the Farmers Monument in Central Jakarta to the nearby State Palace. During the action, the workers highlighted the problems of corruption and the government's failure to resolve human rights violations.
"This action is a reflection of the regime that is in power, Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] has failed, particularly in cases of corruption and human rights violations in Indonesia", said KPBI Secretary General Damar Panca.
Panca said that during Widodo's administration corruption has become more widespread as have human rights violations. According to Panca, trade unions have also suffered human rights violations when holding protests.
Panca said that not long ago during a peaceful demonstration, works were assaulted and had tear gas fired at them by security personnel.
"Not just that, 26 labour activists have been indicted. So we are articulating this now because it is the right moment, namely in the lead up to Anti-Corruption Day (December 9) and Human Rights Day (December 10)", he said.
In addition to highlighting human rights violations, they also demanded that the government take responsibility for providing social welfare for all Indonesians and rejected low wages, particularly in labour intensive industries, low rural incomes and contract labour and outsourcing.
Panca said that today's action is also articulating several other problems such as inequality in employment, the criminalisation of activists and the need for free education.
The KPBI is an alliance of cross-sector labour federations. Saturday's action was joined by the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Trade Union Federation (FSP2KI), the Cross-Factory Labour Federation (FBLP), the Populist Trade Union Federation (SERBUK), the Indonesian Harbour Transportation Labour Federation (FBTPI), the Indonesian Workers Federation of Struggle (FPBI), the Industrial Employees Trade Union Federation (FSPI), the Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (GSPB) and the Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union (SPKAJ)
"This action is not just in Jakarta, similar actions with the same demands are also being organised by KPBI members in North Sumatra. In Jakarta they have come from across Jabodetabek [Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, Greater Jakarta]", he said.
According to CNN Indonesia's observations, the hundreds of workers wearing red and carrying protest paraphernalia continued to articulate their demands from two command vehicles near the State Palace, directly in front of the West Monas intersection.
Now and then they also sang songs of struggle and followed the directions of speakers shouting labour demands. The protest was closely watched over by scores of police officers.
Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Jakarta chapter has strongly condemned alleged violence and intimidation against two journalists covering a mob attack on a police station in Ciracas, East Jakarta on Tuesday.
AJI Jakarta has urged the two journalists from kumparan.com and Transmedia to file police reports, citing Law No. 40/1999 on the press, which protects the rights of journalists.
"Violence against journalists is against the law and threatens the freedom of the press," AJI Jakarta chairman Asril Bambani said in a statement on Thursday. "Such an act violates the rights of the public to obtain accurate and correct information. Journalists work to serve the public," he added.
The victims, identified only as ER and RF, were covering an attack on Ciracas Police Station on Tuesday at 11 p.m. However, their path was blocked by several people, reportedly Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel.
When the two journalists began to record the event from behind a parked vehicle, the mob rampaged the vehicle and the police station's windows, screaming "let the detainee out."
"We were asked 'where do you come from'?" ER told AJI Jakarta. "RF and I said we were civilians. If we were honest about our profession, we would have been doomed. They [prohibited] us from using our camera and mobile phone," ER added. "They attacked police officers. RF also got hit on his forehead and he bled," ER said.
According to a police report, the mob of some 100 men attacked the station as they were not satisfied with the way the police had handled an assault case that occurred the previous day, in which a naval officer was attacked by a number of parking attendants.
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Suherdjoko, Jakarta/Semarang Presidential candidates incumbent Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and contender Prabowo Subianto are stepping up their efforts to claim support in their opponent's heartlands, believing that winning on their rival's home turf would guarantee victory.
The 2019 presidential election is to be a rematch between the two, making it relatively easier to make calculations based on the results of the 2014 election.
The national campaign team of Jokowi and running mate Ma'ruf Amin has expressed its determination to claim support in West Java, Banten and West Sumatra, where Jokowi and Jusuf Kalla lost by landslides to Prabowo and then running mate Hatta Rajasa.
Meanwhile, the campaign team of Prabowo and Sandiaga Uno has made it public that it has set its sights on Central Java, known as a long-time stronghold of Jokowi's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Prabowo's team has just revealed its key strategy of moving its campaign headquarters to Surakarta, Central Java, the city where Jokowi grew up and rose to prominence as a politician. Jokowi began his political career as the city's mayor.
The campaign team of Prabowo-Sandiaga said that it had gained confidence particularly after the Central Java gubernatorial election in June, in which Sudirman Said, who was endorsed by the Prabowo camp, managed to win 41 percent of the vote against 58.7 percent won by Jokowi's fellow PDI-P member and incumbent Ganjar Pranowo, in a much closer race than preliminary polls suggested.
PDI-P Central Java chapter chairman Bambang Wuryanto welcomed the opponent's plan to move its main campaign base to the province, saying the plan had only further boosted their fighting spirit.
"We established a team called Pandu Juang five years ago, which managed to help Ganjar win. They are stronger than ever to fight now. We are on fire," he said.
Over 27.5 million eligible voters are slated to cast ballots across Central Java, the third-largest constituency after West Java and East Java.
"Both Jokowi and Prabowo must first make sure they are safe in their respective strongholds before moving on to the [less safe] yellow and red zones," political observer Ari Nurcahyo of think-tank Para Syndicate told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
In the 2014 election, Jokowi only won four out of 26 cities and regencies in West Java, securing 40 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, Prabowo won nearly 60 percent of the vote in 22 cities and regencies. Jokowi won 66.7 percent in East Java compared to 33 percent won by Prabowo.
Ari said that in 2019, the two tickets would have an equal chance to win votes in the rival's stronghold as long as they knew the key issues to address.
Political analyst from pollster KedaiKopi Hendri Satrio emphasized that each ticket should know "what to sell" in the rival's home turf.
"Prabowo-Sandiaga can start with economic issues, such as high prices, unemployment and so on, while Jokowi can promote his achievements during his first term," Hendri said.
To date, there were 23 leaders of cities and regencies in West Java who had declared support for Jokowi, according to Dedi Mulyadi, the head of the Jokowi-Ma'ruf campaign team in the province.
"We set a 60 percent target in West Java. The political map is changing now. Jokowi is getting even more support now, including from Bandung and Tasikmalaya," he said.
Jokowi-Maruf campaign team secretary Abdy Yuhana claimed that Prabowo won West Java in 2014 as the province was led by Ahmad Heryawan, a member of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Prabowo's Gerindra Party's closest ally.
The province is currently led by Ridwan Kamil, the former Bandung mayor who was endorsed by Jokowi's coalition. West Java is home to 32.6 million out of 185 million eligible voters.
Meanwhile, Prabowo's campaign team spokesman Suhud Aliyudin said that Sandiaga would focus his campaign on attracting millenial voters in East Java. To date, Sandiaga has visited 818 cities and regencies in East Java, including Surakarta.
Ahmad Faiz Ibnu Sani, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has thrown his weight behind the movement initiated by the Indonesian Public Relations Association (Perhumas) that urges people to express words more positively under the tagline #IndonesiaBicaraBaik.
"This is a social movement and it invites people to Hijrah (migrate) from being a pessimist to an optimist to step up Indonesia's optimism," said Jokowi while opening the 4.0 Public Relations National Convention today at the State Palace.
According to Jokowi, the public needs to migrate to a more positive spirit that is far from anger, hoax, and other negative elements. "Migrate from being left behind to development," said the president.
President Jokowi underlined that people should be open to criticism that was delivered on factual data. He also maintained that narratives focusing on lies, spreading pessimism and fear should be left behind.
Jakarta (Antara) President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) expected students from universities in Indonesia conduct rally to support government programs. His statement came when welcomed the participants of National Student Conference at Bogor Palace on Friday (Dec. 7).
"I never have any rally to support me. Please, do so. Demonstration which support. I was left on my own, but then considered as foreign stooge," Jokowi said.
National Student Conference took place at the National Islamic University (UIN) Jakarta on Dec 3 to 6. From the event, there are 11 recommendations in human resources development, education, teacher welfare, social justice, and human rights enforcement.
After accepting the recommendation, Jokowi hoped the students would also support a number of government tasks, including to take a number of economic resources which had been controlled by foreign. He also mentioned about Mahakam block, which has been taken 100 percent by state-owned oil company PT Pertamina in 2015.
"There was also Rokan block that managed by Chevron, more than 30 years under America management and now 100 percent has been won by PT Pertamina," Jokowi explained.
Jokowi also mentioned about the achievements of negotiating the 51 percent divestment of Freeport shares that in the middle of this year. He stressed that negotiation has been done for 3.5 years.
"Insya Allah (By God's willing), in December we will complete 100 percent and majority 51 percent will be owned by PT Inalum consortium, our State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN)," Jokowi added.
Jokowi said that a pressure was felt in taking over these economic resources. However, strong commitment from both the government and people in making those efforts a success.
"Is it easy to do? Is there any pressure? Of course it is not easy, but I'm not hesitating," Jokowi said.
Sheany, Nusa Dua With less than six months to go until the 2019 presidential and legislative elections, will Indonesia offer a ray of hope to a world experiencing democratic backsliding?
The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index showed that more than half of the 167 countries assessed in 2017 received lower scores that the previous year due to among others, declining popular participation in elections and politics, declining trust in public institutions, dwindling appeal of mainstream parties, a widening gap between political elites and electorates, a decline in media freedoms, and erosion of civil liberties, including curbs on free speech.
The latter was particularly evident in Indonesia, which suffered a setback in democracy with the jailing of former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on blasphemy charges.
What happens in elections in Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy with a population of around 260 million, will therefore also impact the state of global democracy.
This year coincidentally also marks the 20th anniversary of the downfall of the authoritarian Suharto regime and the beginning of an era of democratic reform, known as Reformasi.
Speaking during the 11th Bali Democracy Forum in Nusa Dua on Thursday, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi pointed out that Indonesians had chosen democracy in 1998, despite strong economic growth, which on its own, she said, does not guarantee equality or prosperity for all.
"That is why Indonesia chose democracy as a new path of development. We wholeheartedly believe that a democratic system will allow every individual to participate and thrive in the process of development and nationbuilding," Retno said in her opening address during the two-day event.
Indeed, during Suharto's 32-year rule, known as the New Order, the Indonesian economy experienced rapid growth, reaching an average rate of 9 percent during the late 1980s.
However, Indonesians realized that they wanted more inclusivity and the best way to accomplish this, was through a democratic system based on transparency, good governance and checks and balances, which eventually led to the Reformasi.
Retno said democracies stagnate and regress due to a lack of inclusivity. "Many members of society remain marginalized. Democratic institutions have been failing to provide a sense of security for all, equitable prosperity for all, and the protection of pluralism and diversity," she said.
Though Indonesia has a relatively young democracy, there has been a peaceful transfer of power between the country's five presidents since the end of the New Order regime. The last two presidents, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (for two terms) and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, were directly elected.
Indonesia's democratic track record and vibrant political system have made the country an example for the world to emulate a sentiment shared by many participants at the Bali Democracy Forum.
"What happens here in Indonesia is of fundamental importance to the state of democracy worldwide, and as such, Indonesia can be a good example for the rest of the world," Danish Ambassador Rasmus A. Kristensen told the Jakarta Globe on the sidelines of the event.
Yldiz Pollack-Beighle, the foreign minister of Suriname, aired a similar opinion. "To me, Indonesia has been a leader [in democracy] and that we being here [in Bali] can learn a lot," she said.
Ruben Dario Molina, Venezuela's deputy foreign minister for Asia, the Middle East and Oceania, said the Bali Democracy Forum highlights Indonesia's "solid democracy." "And the form in which Indonesia conducts their democracy has a great influence in the world," Molina said.
Indonesia will hold simultaneous presidential and legislative elections for the first time in April next year, with about 189 million voters expected to participate, according to the latest update from the General Elections Commission (KPU).
"I think the past few elections have been done in a democratic way, and I have no doubt that the next round will be one more addition to the very good history of Indonesia's development of democracy," Japanese Ambassador Masafumi Ishii said.
Manlio Di Stefano, Italian undersecretary of state for foreign affairs, said elections offer perfect opportunities for countries' citizens to demand change.
"I think every election is an opportunity for people to ask for better results, and then after the election [it] needs to [be followed up] with what the politicians promised during their campaign," he said.
Indian Ambassador Pradeep Kumar Rawat said the strength and success of democratic institutions in Indonesia send a strong message to the global community. "[It says] that democracy can succeed anywhere in the world," Rawat said.
Indonesia is not immune to the challenges democracy faces around the world, and it must be mindful of ways to nurture the system to best deliver for the people.
Danish Ambassador Kristensen said one of the key challenges for Indonesia and many other countries was ensuring that young people are aware of the importance and privilege of voting. "Having the opportunity to vote actually means that you can change things," he said.
Palembang The secretary general of Tommy Suharto's Working Party (Partai Berkarya), Priyo Budi Santoso, says that the Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno presidential ticket will restore the country to exactly the same as it was under Tommy's father, Indonesia's second president Suharto.
Santoso made the statement when he was accompanying Sandiaga at an event titled "Smart Talk (Ngopi) Together with Bang [Brother] Sandi" at the Gunz Cafe in Palembang, South Sumatra, on Friday December 7.
Santoso explain that during Suharto's era all sectors of the economy from clothing, food and housing were cheap. Now however, the cost of basic commodities, electricity and even fuel have all gone up.
"Now, Pak [Mr] Prabowo and Pak Sandi want to be present, God willing, to take up the mandate of all you ladies and gentlemen. The two will restore the nation and the country's economy. The cost of clothing, food and housing will be cheap as it was before during Pak [Su]Harto's era. Leuwih penak zaman pun mbiyen toh [It was better in that time wasn't it", said Santoso.
In addition to this, said Santoso, he himself understands how professional people [sic] such as farmers are still far from what can be called prosperous. Prabowo and Sandiaga, he said, promise to improve food self-sufficiency so that the economy will be better top to bottom.
Sandiaga meanwhile added that he understands the complaints of millennials who are finding it hard get work. He himself, he said, cannot guarantee to increase job opportunities but instead suggests that they don't work at all.
"It's difficult find to work? Millennials are finding working difficult? So don't work, become an entrepreneur [instead]. Become an employer, don't be an employee", he said.
Sandiaga related how before he became a business person he was a company employee. But after being sacked, it actually made him more open to the idea of becoming an employer.
"Create your own future, young people must be able to look for new opportunities, become entrepreneurs. You can do it", he said. (idz/agr)
Fikri Arigi, Jakarta A researcher at the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) Denny JA, Ardian Sopa, has invited the campaign team of Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno to respond to the pollster's study and conduct a direct comparison after the team cast doubt on LSI's poll results.
"This is interesting, contesting poll results, data against data," said Ardian today, who maintained that the comparison must be published to let the public determine which poll was more credible. "Let the public be the final judge," he said.
However, Ardian reminded the Prabowo camp also needed to conduct an electability survey adhering to the same principles to avoid disparities in results.
Previous reports said a spokesman of the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno campaign team, Ferry Juliantono, said the team would rather conduct an evaluation into the pollster rather than evaluate its campaign strategies.
The Prabowo Subianto camp has voiced its doubt against LSI Denny JA's poll results, which found the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno pair was lagging behind rival Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin ticket, saying they often contradicted other pollsters'.
Jakarta, CNN Indonesia The Working Party (Partai Berkarya) which is led by Hutomo Mandala Putra alias Tommy Suharto claims that the 2nd president of Indonesia, Suharto, was a pioneer in the eradication of corruption. It was Suharto who enacted Law Number 3/1971 on the Eradication of Corruption at the start of his administration.
"This signifies that his administration was serious about dealing with corruption in the fatherland", said Working Party Supreme Assembly member Badaruddin Andi Picunang in a press release received by CNN Indonesia on Friday December 7.
Picunang dismissed accusations by political figures and historians who equate Suharto and his New Order regime which was in power for 32 years with corruption. According to Picunang corruption existed even before Indonesia became independent.
Moreover, said Picunang, corrupt practices are still rampant under the current administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. This can be seen from the frequent sting operations (OTT) carried out by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) against politicians and political parties.
"It has long been part of the culture, since the Dutch East Indies era. Not during the era of the H.M. Suharto administration he said.
Picunang claims that efforts to discredit Suharto are related to the TAP MPRS Number 25/1996 on the dissolution of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). They are coming from parties who want to revoke the TAP MPRS on the banning of the PKI.
According to Picunang, those in power during the New Order were the principle figures in the elimination of the PKI, before and after the TAP MPRS was enacted.
"There's many people who haven't moved on yet and still hold past grudges. We're just focusing on the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia], everyone [should] think more positively from today and before this. Save the NKRI", he said. (fra/wis)
Tap MPRS XXV/1966 Provisional People's Consultative Assembly Decree Number XXV/1966 on the Dissolution of the Indonesian Communist Party and Prohibitions on Marxist, Leninist and Communist Teachings.
James Massola, Amilia Rosa & Karuni Rompies Born on September 9, a month after a magnitude 7 earthquake smashed the resort island of Lombok, she has only ever known tents and temporary housing.
Like thousands of people here, Akila and her family are still waiting for the 50 million rupiah ($4600) per household in aid that was promised by Indonesian President Joko Widodo four months ago to help rebuild their home.
Akila's father, Hanan, said he was now back working full time at the nearby resort island of Gili Trawangan, but business was still slow as tourists have not returned in their former numbers.
"We are waiting [for government aid]. I am grateful that my baby girl or anyone in my family hasn't been sick [from] living in a tent or the temporary house," Hanan says.
"But it leaks when it rains, it's hot during the day and it's very cold at night. It is not ideal. We live near the ocean, [so there are] strong winds. I am afraid that it will blow away our current home."
After months living in ramshackle temporary accommodation, Hanan has a message for the president, universally known as Jokowi: "Please keep your promise, it's been months now".
From Hanan's village of Pemenang on the island's north-west, through north Lombok to the east of the island and the village of Sembalun Bumbung, which lies in the shadow of the Mount Rinjani volcano, Lombok residents said time and again they were still waiting for financial assistance to reach them so they could rebuild.
Ismail, another resident of Pemenang, is now living in a temporary house built by NGO Aksi Cepat Tanggap one of 14 temporary houses in his village.
It has one bedroom and a living room, aluminum sheets for roofing and no electricity. Sometimes when it rains the water enters his shelter because there is a gap between the wall and the roof for ventilation.
"We are grateful for it, but this is only temporary. We are still waiting for the government aid. All I know is that our house has been listed as badly damaged."
He doesn't blame the President, or the central government, for the reconstruction delays. "I don't think it is Jokowi, I think it's the local government. I don't know what they are doing, I don't understand why it is taking so long. What is the hold up?"
In Nipah, a north Lombok village, Amrulah said he and his neighbours had not received any money to rebuild yet, "not even 1000 rupiah [10 cents], nothing".
"No one in our village has received anything that I know of. Maybe the President has become poor? Almost everybody in the village lost their homes. But until now, nothing," he said.
"What little logistics we used to receive stopped a while back. It used to be some noodles and rice, but for the last month, nothing."
Perhaps 60 per cent of small local shops have now reopened, and work is under way on rebuilding some of the bridges and roads that were damaged in the quake.
But tens of thousands of people are still live in temporary housing, or in shacks they have cobbled together amid the ruins of their homes, and evidence of the damage and destruction is still widespread. A woman stands in front of the ruins of her village destroyed by the deadly earthquake.
All told, the August 5 earthquake damaged or destroyed an estimated 229,229 houses, 45 schools, 78 houses of worship, four health facilities and 3818 public facilities including roads, bridges, traffic lights, cemeteries and sports grounds. The most recent death toll estimate was 623 people.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency responsible for disbursing aid money, blamed Lombok's local government for the delays.
"Not all people whose houses were destroyed have received aid. BNPB has disbursed 1.5 trillion Rupiah so far as stimulus [to rebuild] the houses. But local government has not given all of the money to people. The slow pace of collecting data [on destroyed houses] has caused the slow handling." Loading
He said the construction of RISHA (Rumah Instan Sederhana Sehat, or Instant Simple Healthy Homes) a concrete panel home that is supposed to be able to be built quickly was proceeding too slowly.
"The target [for house reconstruction] is 400 units per day, as the Vice-President [Jusuf Kalla] has directed. Today it's only 26.5 units per day day," Sutopo said.
Data from the reconstruction taskforce in Lombok showed that 4151 families had so far requested RISHA homes be built for them, but just 49 had been built and construction of another 1447 units was under way.
Another 4605 families had asked for a conventional home, but just 25 had so far been built and 791 are under construction. And 4605 families had registered for a wooden house to built for them, but just 11 had been completed so far, with another 288 under construction.
Jakarta The practice of open defecation in rivers and other open spaces is still rampant in West Jakarta, an official has said.
"If you look at [the rivers] closely, there are some yellow stuffs [feces] in the river's currents. So, there are a still a lot of residents defecating in the open, including in rivers in West Jakarta," West Jakarta Health Agency head Weningtyas Purnomo Rini said on Wednesday as reported by wartakota.tribunnews.com.
She went on to say that to combat open defecation and in commemorating the 54th National Health Day in November, the agency had declared an open defecation free (ODF) movement in three subdistricts in West Jakarta. "[The ODF] is one of the pillars of community-based total sanitation [STBM]," Weningtyas said.
The three subdistricts are Joglo, Meruya Selatan and Tanjung Duren Selatan. The previous ODF subdistricts in 2017 and 2018 were Pekojan, Duri Utara and Sukabumi Utara, then in February this year Tamansari and Kalideres were added to the list.
"Until today in Jakarta, West Jakarta is the second in which its subdistricts have been open defecation free. On this National Health Day we focus on teens, because behavioral changes must start soon. Because teens are also agents of change that can change the residents' behavior," she said. (ami)
Jakarta When Ms. Dinny asks her class who wants to be a teacher when they grow up, only one student raises a hand.
In Jakarta, its seems the brightest children aspire to become doctors, lawyers and engineers, favoring a career of financial stability over a passion to share knowledge.
Earning less than Rp3 million a month, Ms. Dinny can understand why the horizon looks bleak for those considering future careers as school teachers in Indonesia.
"Teachers in Indonesia have a very low salary, so when university students decide what major they have to take, they do not want to be a teacher. The good students don't want to choose that path," she says.
Underfunded, under-resourced and overworked, despite their passion, teachers in Indonesia are not always equipped with the necessary skills or funding to provide good quality outcomes for students.
According to UNICEF, 55 percent of 15-year-old students are "low achievers" in reading and more than two-thirds (69 percent) are low achievers in mathematics.
The UNICEF figures also show that in primary schools many children are struggling to acquire the basic skills in mathematics and science with only 50 percent of Fourth Grade students meeting low international benchmarks in mathematics and science.
In such a context, the system's best and brightest should be encouraged to pursue a career in teaching to help address this problem.
Najeela explains the current education system is a burden for teachers and does not promote high-quality outcomes for students.
"A lot of teachers don't actually have the minimal competency in terms of content knowledge, basic positive discipline approaches and the ability to differentiate instruction to different students," Najeela says.
A lack of effective approaches to teaching, coupled with rigid policies from the Ministry of Education and Culture does not allow teachers to exercise autonomy in the classroom.
"Policies aim to standardize and unify approaches to learning. But actually what you define as good schooling and teaching can be different in one context to another. It's not fair to compare everyone against only one standard," Najeela explains.
Experts in school education identify a number of ways to decrease the burden for teachers and increase the quality of learning that students achieve.
While national policies are put in place to promote a more equal and uniformed standard of teaching across Indonesia, the Ministry's funding is not being used to its best capacity.
Doni Koesoema A., an Education Consultant from the Ministry of Education and Culture, says local governments are not complying with the Ministry's prescribed allocation of funding.
"When we give the money to the local government, they may just put it all into one school, rather than equally dispersing it among the zone," Doni says. Local governments are creating only one "really good model school" in each areas.
Working at a "model school" herself, Ms. Dinny says teaching at a public school is easier than a private, non-government funded school. "It would be challenging to work at perhaps a different school. I have taught at a private school and it is not very easy."
These model schools also don't comply with the ministry's zoning policy. Students should be enrolled in the public school closest to their home. Instead, these model schools accept the best academic performers in their region based on their rank, forcing local students to seek schooling elsewhere or not at all.
"The idea with these model schools is for them to lead training in their zone and assist other local schools in improving," Doni says.
But it is believed this is not a feasible solution to such a large issue of low-quality teaching outcomes. "We need to distribute equal opportunity for all schools so then we can distribute good teachers fairly," Doni says.
Other industry experts agree. "Model schools leading the training won't have that big of an effect," Daniel Suryadama of RISE (Research on Improving Systems of Education) says, "but maybe something like a mentor program will help."
From her experience teaching in the classroom herself, Najeela encourages teachers to be self-regulated learners. "They should be empowered to design their own professional development and don't just go to training to get a certificate or to get money out of it, but do it for the sake of learning," she says.
Another issue contributing to poor academic results in the nation is a primary focus on building the "good character" of the students instead of academic achievement.
Private schools such as Harapan Lestari School prioritize being a good person before academic outcomes. It is no surprise that the school does not have a strong focus on providing students with the capacity to enter or succeed at university.
"Only one student among seven generations of graduates in our school actually went on to study at their preferred university," says Principal Dipian Susanto of Harapan Lestari School.
He says that grades and good report cards are not the main focus in their approach to teaching "but how the students make changes character-wise."
Even for those of his students who are interested in pursuing higher studies after they graduate from school, he promotes the view that teaching is not a strong career option for an educated person.
"We told the children if you want to be rich, don't be a teacher, but one student who wants to be a teacher says he will do it purely because it is his passion," he says.
Most students recognize that a teacher's income is not as big as other professionals' salaries.
Cheetah Dillak, who studies teaching at University Pelita Harapan, says she is aware she will not make much money in her career as a teacher. "I come from a rural town that desperately needs good teachers and I want to help," she says.
In addition to the poor pay, teachers are also challenged by long days, and the expectation they must be generalists, rather than specialists teaching numerous subjects.
Ms. Dinny finds managing a class of 36 students very challenging some days. "Sometimes in one day I have to teach around 5 different classes from 6:30 am to 2:45 pm. If I have to explain the same thing over and over all day I will be very tired," Ms. Dinny says.
'If I have to explain the same thing over and over all day I will be very tired," Ms. Dinny says.
In order to harness Indonesia's potential as an economically competitive nation, world-class education which starts with quality teaching must be encouraged.
There is no lack of passion among teachers. However, their needs must be met halfway with improved teacher training, a strong focus on raising standards, and greater equality with access to model learning environments which can positively affect outcomes.
Those students who do become teachers know they will not live a lavish life but will make a significant difference to young people. "Now that I have seen the reality of education in Indonesia, I realize that we need to be teachers," Cheetah says.
She recognizes that only the few passionate students who go on to study teaching are doing so to make a difference in communities that need it most. "We need people who want to go out there and teach because there are so many children who deserve a good education."
Gracie Richter, Georgie Hewson, Anastasia Kathleen, Billy Stevanus
Jakarta (Reuters) Indonesian groups pushing for an increase in the minimum age for girls to marry, from 16, said it was encouraged by a Constitutional Court order on Thursday (Dec 13) that legislators should work on a change.
Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, is among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest number of child brides, according to campaign group Girls Not Brides.
"We now have the legitimacy, that the decision of the Constitutional Court today strengthens and agrees with our reasoning," said Ms Lia Anggie, a legal representative for the coalition of campaigners against child marriage.
The coalition had petitioned the court on the grounds that the law discriminated against girls, who can marry at 16, while the legal age for men is 19.
Indonesia's top court ruled that the government must change the minimum age at which a girl can get married. It did not specify an increase, and gave legislators three years to decide what the new minimum age should be.
Ms Anggie told Reuters the court decision was "a clear step" in its push for ending child marriage.
While girls are legally allowed to get married at 16, it is common, particularly in rural areas for girls, to become brides at much younger ages.
One in four girls marry before they turn 18 in Indonesia, according to the UN Children's Fund. On average, more than 3,500 Indonesian girls are married every day.
In its verdict, the court agreed that the marriage law discriminated against girls, a court spokesman said, adding that the law was also seen as out of line with rules on child protection. The court had therefore found the law "unconstitutional", spokesman Fajar Laksono said.
The court gave legislators three years to come up with a change, and in their deliberations, they should "take into consideration and see changing times", said Mr Laksono.
Mr Erasmus Napitupulu, another legal representative of the group that filed the petition, which includes women who were child brides, said he welcomed the ruling but was disappointed the court "was not brave enough" to take a clear stand.
"Now the ball is in the hands of President Jokowi," he said, referring to President Joko Widodo by his nickname. "We will continue to push until women in Indonesia get protection and guaranteed rights from the state."
While many Indonesians supported Grace Natalie, the chairperson and founder of the young and progressive Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), when she said in a speech last month that her party would "never support regulations based on the Gospel or sharia," the politician also faced fierce backlash from conservative Muslims, some of whom accused her of Islamophobia and even reported her to the police for alleged blasphemy.
Even after being questioned by the police over that report, Natalie seems unafraid to continue publicly pushing PSI's progressive policies, even those that are sure to rankle religious conservatives. A new example of that came on Tuesday night, when Natalie said in a speech at a PSI event in Surabaya that her party would not tolerate polygamy and would try to get the law that gave the practice legal recognition in Indonesia revised.
"PSI will never support polygamy. There will be no cadres, administrators or legislators from this party who can practice polygamy," Natalie said during her speech at the party's Festival 11 event on Tuesday.
In the speech, Natalie cited research by the Association of Indonesian Women for Justice (LBH Apik) that concluded that, in general, the practice of polygamy in Indonesia was unjust and led to various forms of violence against women and children (including economic and emotional violence).
Natalie said that PSI believes that fighting for justice and eliminating discrimination must begin with family and home, which is why they are focusing on polygamy as an issue. In addition to banning PSI members from engaging in the practice, she said PSI would fight for the imposition of a ban on polygamy for public officials in all branches of government as well as civil servants since they serve as an example to the public.
The PSI founder said that her party would also work to revise the 1974 Marriage Law that legally protects the practice of polygamy as well as sets the legal age of marriage for women in Indonesia at 16.
Natalie said in a statement released yesterday that PSI wants the age of marriage for women to be raised to 18 (it currently set at 19 for men), one reason being that women who get married younger are likely to be lacking in education and thus likelier to remain in poverty (many studies of child marriage in Indonesia, which still remains rife in many areas, have demonstrated the detrimental economic, social and health effects on women who marry too young).
Opposing polygamy and increasing the legal age of marriage are just a few of the women's empowerment initiatives included in PSI's platform. Yesterday's release also noted that the party is pushing for the passage of the Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence (which has been languishing in parliament for several years), budget allocations for the establishment of more child care centers, flexible working hours for women, and greater access to prenatal healthcare and nutrition services for expecting mothers.
As expected, PSI's anti-polygamy stance has already been criticized by some religious leaders and politicians (no one's reported Natalie to police over it, yet).
It also resulted in one of the party's members, Nadir Amir, who had been running as PSI's candidate for the Regional Representatives Council of Bone Regency in South Sulawesi, leaving the party in protest.
"The statement made by the chairperson at the 11th Festival yesterday in Surabaya was very controversial to me and, frankly, I reject it. The first reason is that polygamy has existed since the Prophet's era. The second reason is that my own father had four wives, which is obviously polygamy. I mean, if you don't want it or don't like it, you don't have to forbid your cadres to reject polygamy as well," Nadir said yesterday as quoted by Tribun.
Although polygamy is legal in Indonesia, the practice does not have widespread public support, although there is a growing movement to have it mainstreamed (for an excellent look into the subject check out this documentary about a prominent polygamy activist from Vice Indonesia).
But, similarly to religion-based regulations, PSI seems to be the only party in Indonesia willing to take a strong stand on the issue since larger, more established parties fear losing the support of conservatives or being subjected to attacks by increasingly influential Islamic hardliners.
There have been some concerns that Grace Natalie could become "the next Ahok", meaning she could be accused of blasphemy by hardliners, as happened to former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, and become the focus of politically motivated protests that could not only endanger her and PSI's political future but also that of President Joko Widodo, as PSI is a supporting member of his coalition.
Clearly, Natalie is not overly concerned with that possibility. Much respect to her and PSI for providing Indonesians with a politically progressive alternative to the country's rising conservatism. Let's hope it's a viable alternative.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta In a decision that may pave the way for the elimination of rampant child marriage in Indonesia, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that the 16 years old minimum age requirement for women to marry, as stipulated in the 1974 Marriage Law, was unconstitutional.
The court granted a judicial review petition filed by three child bride survivors and their lawyer from the Indonesian Coalition to End Child Marriage (Koalisi 18+), challenging Article 7 of the law, which sets the minimum age requirement for women to marry at 16.
In a hearing presided over by Chief Justice Anwar Usman, the court argued that the rule was a form of gender-based discrimination since the minimum age for requirement for men to marry was 19, and therefore contradicted the 1945 Constitution.
The court, however, refused to grant the plaintiffs' demand to raise the minimum age for women to marry to that of the age for men, arguing that it was the authority of lawmakers and the court did not want to make a decision that could prevent any future law revisions.
"[The court] orders lawmakers to revise the 1974 Marriage Law, particularly in regard to the minimum age for women to marry, within a maximum three years," Anwar read out the ruling on Thursday.
Justice Saldi Isra said the provision in article would remain valid until the deadline of three years. Should there be no revision prior to the deadline, the minimum age requirement would be harmonized with the 2002 Child Protection Law, which defines a child as someone below 18 years old.
Justice I Dewa Gede Palguna said that those at the age of 16 were still categorized children under the Child Protection Law, meaning that those who married at 16 were considered as being involved in child marriage, which had negative impact and threatening children's welfare.
"Not only in terms of negative impact on health, there are possibilities of child exploitation and the increase of threats of violence against children in underage marriage," Palguna said, adding that child marriage also threatened children's rights to education.
Jakarta Setara Institute for Democracy chairperson Hendardi believes that the statement by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Deputy Secretary General Ahmad Basarah, who referred to former president Suharto as the "teacher of corruption in Indonesia", should be used as momentum for the government to expose the corruption and humanitarian crimes which took place under the New Order regime.
"We should take advantage of the defamation report against Ahmad Basarah to remind the public about what Suharto did", said Hendardi during a discussion titled "Defamation vs Refusing to Forget" at the Indonesian Christian University (UKI) in East Jakarta on Friday December 14.
Last week, a polemic erupted over a statement by Basarah in which he said that the rampant corruption in Indonesia began during the era of its 2nd president Suharto. Based on this, Basarah referred to Suharto as the "teacher of corruption in Indonesia".
Basarah's statement read: "So, the teacher of corruption in Indonesia in accordance with TAP MPR [People's Consultative Assembly Decree] Number 11/1998 was former president Suharto and he is Pak [Mr] Prabowo [Subianto's] father-in-law".
On the other hand, said Hendardi, Basarah's statement is not without basis. Rather, it is a fact, the truth of which should be revealed.
"Suharto was not released in the name of the law, nor because he was innocent, because at the end his status was as a defendant in a corruption case. Then, his case was halted because he became ill and died", he explained.
So, as revealed by Hendardi, the momentum of the police report against Basarah should be used to reawaken the public's memory that an unresolved problem still exists. "It is Suharto's family and his corrupt cronies that must be exposed right now", he asserted.
Hendardi then warned the national police not to prioritise the defamation report against Basarah but instead work on uncovering corruption during the Suharto era.
Fikri Arigi, Jakarta The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) suspected Cianjur Regent Irvan Rivano Muchtar and several parties cut off some Special Allocation Funds (DAK) for the education sector in the region for personal interest.
The politician from Nasdem party supported the incumbent candidate Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin in the 2019 election.
Irvan is not the first regional head named suspects by the anti-graft body. Here is the list of Jokowi supporters from regional administration that involved in corruption cases.
Rendra was named suspect on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, after KPK raided his office a day before the arrest. The regent was suspected receive gratification or gift from project contractor. KPK handled the case since the past year.
Nasdem Party sec-gen Johny G Plate said Rendra resigned from his position as the head of the Nasdem regional executive board of East Java an hour after the raid occurred.
KPK arrested Neneng as the suspect related to the permit of Meikarta project. Neneng and four officials of the Bekasi agency were suspected to receive commitment fee worth Rp13 billion for the permit issuance.
Neneng became nonactive cadre from Golkar party and fired from the campaign team of Jokowi-Ma'ruf.
Remigo Yolanda Berutu was a graft suspect for receiving Rp550 million related to infrastructure projects since November 18. KPK presumed the fund was used for Remigo's personal interest.
According to a spokesman of National Campaign Agency of Prabowo-Sandiaga, Andre Rosiade, Remigo was a cadre of Democrat Party before changing his political support to Jokowi. Democrat Central Board reportedly had dismissed Remigo from the party.
On October 5, KPK named Pasuruan Mayor Setiyono as a suspect of graft case in the development project of the Integrated Business Center of Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises Cooperation (PLUT-KUMKM) of Pasuruan City, East Java. The Golkar politician was suspected to receive Rp135 million from the project developer.
KPK named suspect Irvan Rivano Muchtar and several parties in the corruption case of Special Allocation Funds (DAK). The suspects allegedly demanded, received, and reduced the DAK payment for education in Cianjur in 2018.
Chairperson of Nasdem central executive board Irma Suryani Chaniago said regional heads who caught redhanded by KPK would directly submit a resignation letter to the party, "because it is the policy of Garda Pemuda Nasdem."
Andita Rahma, Jakarta The Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) and the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) have released a report on its latest study on the public's perception of corruption.
The poll, which was conducted from October 8-October 24, 2018, showed that 52 percent of respondents in 2018 agreed that corruption levels have increased in some way.
However, the overall public perception of corruption is a decline compared to the past two years. "From 70 percent in 2016, 55 percent in 2017, and 52 percent in 2018," said LSI senior researcher Burhanuddin Muhtadi today at Akmani Hotel, Central Jakarta.
The respondents were 2,000 Indonesian nationals aged 19 and above spread across Indonesian regions. The study was carried out in a multistage random sampling with a 2.2 percent margin of error via face-to-face interviews.
The drop in people's perception of corruption, according to Burhanuddin, is because the public believes the country's anti-corruption agencies have been effective in undertaking their duties.
"Our survey saw that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) received 85 percent of votes as the most publicly-trusted agency," said Burhanuddin. He added the police institution only gained 54 percent while the Attorney General's Office (AGO) got 36 percent.
Andita Rahma, Jakarta The anti-terrorism squad Densus 88 on Tuesday, December 11, arrested a suspected terrorist in a rental house in Sleman Regency, Yogyakarta.
"One suspected terrorist is arrested by Densus 88," said Head of Police's Public Information Bureau Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo in National Police Headquarter in South Jakarta, Wednesday, December 12.
The alleged terrorist with an initial IA is from Indramayu, West Java. Based on the information, three other people were arrested but were yet detained.
The arrest was conducted based on the Law No. 5 of 2018 concerning the Eradication of Criminal Acts of Terrorism. Dedi explained the arrest was carried out to develop alleged terrorism case which involving the suspected terrorist. "We still investigate and search the network," he said.
The police suspected that IA involved in a terrorist network that previously revealed by Densus 88. According to Dedi, the arrest aimed as a preventive measure of terrorism act.
"This is a progress of several cases that we have handled before, so we further investigate the network. If there is a strong indication that a person will perform a terror act, Densus 88 will take a preventive step which is detention," Dedi concluded.
Every year, the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace an Indonesia-based NGO that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights issues releases their Tolerant Cities Index ranking 94 of Indonesia's major cities based on a number of factors measuring their tolerance towards protected groups.
Last year, Setara ranked Jakarta the least tolerant in the archipelago and while the capital did marginally better this year, the index's data still shows a disturbing lack of protections for persecuted groups here and in many other cities.
So let's start at the bottom with Setara's ranking of the least tolerant cities.
Sabang, 3.757 Medan, 3.710 Makassar, 3.637 Bogor, 3.533 Depok, 2.490 Padang, 3.450 Cilegon, 3.420 Jakarta, 2.880 Banda Aceh, 2.830 Tanjung Balai, 2.817
The index's scores are based on a 1-7 scale with seven being most tolerant, and take into account a variety of metrics including the city's development plan, government regulations, government actions, government statements and actions related to intolerance, violations of religious freedom and religious demographics. It is based on data collected from November 2017 to October 2018.
In last place this year is Tanjung Balai, a relatively small city in North Sumatra that was much in the national news this year due to the case of Meiliana, a Chinese-Indonesian resident who was controversially sentenced to 18-months in prison for blasphemy after allegedly complaining about the volume of the call to prayer from her neighborhood mosque's loudspeaker.
In second-to-last is Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, which is the only region of Indonesia that has special autonomy status to enact a sharia-based legal system. Aceh saw a number of well-publicized instances of intolerance this year, including police persecuting and publicly humiliating transgender women.
And then there's Jakarta. The chairperson of the Setara Institute, Hendardi, said during the press conference that Jakarta faced unique challenges to its tolerance score. Specifically, because it is the seat of government it is also the focus of a great deal of political actions and messages that have become increasingly divisive and based on identity politics, especially in the wake of last year's gubernatorial election which saw Islamist hardliners organize massive protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on heavily politicized blasphemy charges (which was the main cause of Jakarta being at the bottom of last year's ranking).
"The 2017 elections were very influential on the tolerance index for Jakarta, not to mention the various reunions that have also had an impact on the tolerance index," Hendardi said as quoted by Detik.
On the brighter side, here are the 10 most tolerant cities in Indonesia based on Setara's ranking:
Singkawang, 6.513 Kota Salatiga, 6.447 Pematang Siantar, 6.280 Kota Manado, 6.030 Ambon, 5.960 Kota Bekasi, 5.890 Kota Kupang, 5.857 Kota Tomohon, 5.833 Binjai North Sumatra, 5.830 10 Kota Surabaya, 5.823
Singkawang topped the list this year and also ranked in the top 10 last year. Asked how his city maintained such high levels of tolerance, Singkawang Deputy Mayor Irwan told Detik that part of his government's mission was to maintain the city's harmony and one way they did that was to not allow any one group to feel dominant over the others.
"Well, our thinking is that we must always cultivate (pluralism) so as not to let any individual feel like they are dominant. So we can respect each other," Irwan said.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, who benefited greatly from the intolerance recorded by Setara during the 2017 Jakarta governor's race, seemed quite unhappy with the results of the survey and, while he was careful not to say they were wrong, called into question the index's methodology.
"In my opinion, if they want to be fair they should open up all of their (data and methodology)," Anies said on Saturday as quoted by Tempo.
Rather than question Setara's rankings, Anies should instead ask what he could do to make Jakarta a more tolerant place. The mayor of Jakarta's satellite city of Bekasi, Rahmat Effendi, offered to give him some advice after his city was ranked the 6th most tolerant this year.
"Of course there are many steps (to creating a sense of tolerance), the regional head must have consistency in terms of diversity. That means giving the same rights to all citizens, such as the right to freedom of expression as well as the right to houses of worship," Rahmat told CNN Indonesia.
Jakarta (Antara) Human rights advocacy group Setara Institute has revealed its study that ranked cities based on its tolerance level through its third tolerant city index (IKT) that involved 94 Indonesian cities.
"The city with the highest IKT is Singkawang in West Kalimantan, which scores a final result of 6,513 points," said Setara Institute chairman Hendardi today.
According to Hendardi, Singkawang has successfully promoted tolerance by adopting its regional mid-term development plans (RPJMD) and other legal products. Meanwhile, the city with the lowest tolerance level is Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra.
The 10 most tolerant cities in order are Singkawang (6,513), Salatiga (5,447), Pematang Siantar (6,280), Manado (6,030), Ambon (5,960), Bekasi (5,890), Kupang (5,857), Tomohon (5,833), Binjai (5,830) and Surabaya (5,823).
Meanwhile, the least tolerant cities besides Tanjung Balai are Banda Aceh, Jakarta, Cilegon, Padang, Depok, Bogor, Makassar, Medan and Sabang.
Hendardi said the IKT scoring system aimed at promoting cities that uphold tolerance with the hopes that it would prompt other cities to better their tolerance level.
The determining elements of the tolerance index are practices involving religious freedom, gender equality and social inclusion that are guaranteed and protected by the Law (UU). In addition, elements regarding city administrations' actions toward tolerance are also taken into account.
Those who keep abreast of happenings around the region may be aware that Malaysia had their own "212" moment over the weekend, specifically the huge "Malay-First" rally protesting against the ratification of an anti-discriminatory convention that has been dubbed "812" in some quarters to denote the date of the rally (December 8).
The main message of 812 was that the far-right among the country's Muslim Malay majority are in total opposition to a plan by the government, which took power in May after defeating the scandal-mired old regime, to ratify the UN's International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) even after the government had already abandoned its plan due to pressure from conservative politicians and Malays.
Regardless, that message resonated well among Indonesia's own conservative Muslim majority, many of whom took part in the 212 protest on December 2, 2016, in which hardline groups protested against then-Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama due to the highly politicized allegations that he had committed blasphemy against Islam.
One of those whose opinion has gathered steam online was comedian/actor/former MTV VJ Arie Untung, who tweeted that the "power of togetherness" brought Malaysians together for 812, possibly unaware that the rally's idea of "togetherness" did not include people who are of different races and faiths.
Comedian Ernest Prakasa, always one to voice his disapproval of any sort of discrimination, posted a reply to Arie's tweet, which has now gone viral.
"The 812 demo is against ICERD. The Malaysian government wanted to eliminate discrimination, but was opposed by these people. So, are you personally for ethnic discrimination? You are often hired by [media giant] MNC, and Hari Tanoe [its founder] is [ethnically] Chinese, FYI.:
While supporters of both Arie and Ernest inevitably used the viral tweets as a platform for even more racial and religious debates, it's nice to see that some truly understand the meaning of togetherness and the dangers of protests like 212 and 812.
Riza Roidila Mufti, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo launched the One Map Policy Geoportal (KSP Geoportal) on Tuesday as a national information portal to serve as a point of reference for land use planning by all government institutions and the general public.
Jokowi said he expected the one-map policy to address the issue of overlapping land claims in the country. "In our country, there is too much overlap in land use planning. The problem occurs anywhere," the President said when introducing the policy.
To underline his point, he explained that in Kalimantan alone, 19.3 percent or 10.4 million hectares of the island's 53.98 million ha of land were subject to overlapping land utilization plans.
Under the one-map policy, the government could identify plots of land with overlapping utilization plans, Jokowi said, adding that with the data in the One Map Policy Geoportal, the government could immediately resolve the problem.
Jokowi instructed the ministries and other government institutions to immediately take action to resolve any overlap in land utilization planning by using data from the geoportal.
With the one-map policy, the government has integrated 83 thematic maps. Two thematic maps have not yet been integrated, namely the National Sea Spatial Plan Map (RTRLN), which is being produced, and the subdistrict and village border map. The two were in the process of integration.
The President stressed that the geoportal is the reference for all institutions and the public to learn about land use planning.
There are three main activities under the one-map policy compilation and collection of thematic maps; integration and correction of thematic maps based on basic map; and synchronization and solving overlapping thematic maps.
The integrated thematic maps have been entered into the KSP Geoportal at http://portalksp.ina-sdi.or.id.
"With this policy, development can be more accurately planned, not only based on data, but also based on the map," said, the President, adding that the ministries, government institutions and regional administrations had to start using the integrated thematic maps as the main point of reference for implementing development policies. (bbn)
Jakarta (Bloomberg) Indonesian President Joko Widodo will double cash handouts to the poor next year ahead of general elections in April.
The conditional aid, known as PKH and aimed at 10 million families, will cost at least 38 trillion rupiah (S$3.55 billion) in 2019 from about 19 trillion rupiah this year, Social Affairs Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita told reporters in Jakarta on Tuesday (Dec 11).
The funds will be given in four phases, with the first two in January and April, a month earlier compared to this year's timeline.
"We want the poor families to get bigger benefits and faster assistance," Mr Kartasasmita said, adding that the programme has nothing to do with the upcoming elections. "Whether in a political year or not, the PKH indeed has a big role in poverty alleviation."
Mr Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, is running against former special forces general Prabowo Subianto, whom he defeated in 2014. He has ordered builders to complete several infrastructure projects in the main islands of Java and Sumatra before the voting day and has pledged to maintain prices of electricity and subsidise fuel until the end of next year.
It is natural for Mr Joko to advocate policies to maintain his popularity while also meeting development targets in his last year in office, said Mr Juniman, chief economist at PT Bank Maybank Indonesia in Jakarta, who goes by one name.
"So, is it only for election purposes or also about boosting equitable development across the country? I guess both," he said.
Anne Barker In a rare move, Lion Air has agreed to foot the bill for a new, more advanced search to find the cockpit voice recorder from its 737 Max-8 plane that crashed in Indonesia in October, killing 189 people.
The airline will reportedly pay nearly $US3 million ($4.2 million) to deploy a specialised ship for 10 days, beginning next week, to search a section of the sea floor under huge oil pipes, where the main fuselage is believed to be buried in mud.
It was revealed this week that Indonesian authorities lacked the funds to carry out a more sophisticated search.
Less than half of the Lion Air wreckage has been recovered. But families of the dead are angry that the search for remaining bodies of victims has been abandoned. Some want Boeing, the plane's manufacturer, to take over the search instead.
It is understood only 125 bodies have been recovered and identified. Another 64 bodies are still unaccounted for, more than six weeks after the crash.
A US lawyer representing two relatives who are already suing Boeing has sent a strongly worded letter demanding the company take over the search for the remaining victims and missing fuselage.
Californian lawyer Brian Kabateck said the aircraft manufacturer "owes it to the families of passengers" to retrieve the bodies "without further delay".
"The dignity of the passengers and their families including their religious beliefs require immediate recovery of the bodies," he wrote. "This is a matter of moral and ethical duty Boeing has, if not legal and judicial [duty]."
Mr Kabateck also accused Boeing of being more interested in "exculpating" itself from potential liability than helping the families of those still missing.
"You are apparently willing to expend great sums of money to obtain certain parts of the aircraft at issue (or parts of the aircraft which you wish to obtain for purpose [sic] of attempted exculpation), but not to spend money attempting to obtain the bodies of passengers on Flight 610," he wrote. "We beseech you to direct your attention to obtaining the bodies of those passengers immediately and to keep the families of those passengers in your minds as you proceed."
One of the two women represented by Mr Kabateck, Dayinta Dyah Anggana, said her own mother who died in the crash had been recovered and buried. But she feels for the relatives of other victims.
"Our family is still grieving especially as we had to let go without a funeral procession, which is the culture in Indonesia," she said. "I'm also sad when I think about the feelings of other victims' families who still haven't found their remains.
"I'm also convinced that Boeing has the resources and funds to continue with the search, so why don't they want to help?"
One man, Anton Sahadi, lost two cousins in the doomed flight. Muhammad Ravi Andrian and Riyan Aryandi, both 24, were returning home to Pangkal Pinang after a weekend in Jakarta when the plane crashed. Only Mr Ravi Andrian's body has been recovered and identified.
Mr Sahadi was among more than 20 relatives who staged a protest yesterday outside Indonesia's Presidential Palace, demanding a new search to find the remaining victims' bodies.
"We believe that our relatives 64 of them are still underwater, buried in the mud," he said. "We believe that they are all still there. So if they conduct another search they will find them."
Indonesian authorities ended the search for victims' remains weeks ago, but continued searching for the plane's cockpit voice recorder, without success. It was revealed this week that funding problems and bureaucratic wrangling had since hampered that search.
Investigators in Jakarta said that budgetary constraints had limited efforts to raise the main fuselage and find the cockpit voice recorder, which would shed new light on what caused the crash.
Now Lion Air has agreed to pick up the bill for a more advanced search, beginning on Monday, raising questions about the ongoing investigation's independence.
United Nations rules stipulate such a search and investigation should be done independently of parties such as an airline.
Mr Kabateck said given such questions, it was imperative that Boeing rather than Lion Air step in to find and preserve not only the victims' remains, but the aircraft itself.
"It is not appropriate merely to obtain parts of that aircraft which you hope to use to exculpate you from any potential liability," Mr Kabateck said.
"Accordingly, we request that you immediately take steps to retrieve the entirety of the subject aircraft. Plaintiffs are owed, and require, the entirety of such aircraft in order to conduct a full and fair investigation in support of their claims as well as to determine, to the fullest extent possible, the exact cause of their loved ones' deaths."
Boeing has rejected suggestions it has any responsibility to take over the search for the plane or the bodies of victims.
"The Indonesian authorities are solely responsible for the investigation, including control over the aircraft wreckage and any examination of that wreckage, as well as the search for the aircraft and for those on board," Mack H Shultz said in a letter sent to Mr Kabateck this week.
"Boeing is cooperating fully with those efforts, but any requests concerning the investigation, the airplane wreckage, or search efforts should be directed to the Indonesian authorities." Law firms jostle to represent families against Boeing
The latest demands on Boeing come as up to eight US law firms jostle to represent the relatives of victims in separate lawsuits against the company, alleging the aircraft maker is to blame for defects in the plane that caused the crash.
Lawyers from two separate firms in Chicago, Ribbeck and Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona, have been in Jakarta this week meeting families interested in joining litigation against Boeing.
Lawyer Manuel von Ribbeck claims that relatives of at least 25 Lion Air victims have signed on to a potential $US100 million ($138 million) class action against the company. Claims have already been lodged in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Meanwhile Thomas Gardiner, a partner at Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona, was negotiating with the brother and sister of the co-pilot Harvino, about a separate lawsuit.
Mr von Ribbeck said Lion Air via its insurance company had offered relatives a flat compensation payout equivalent to $119,000, which he said was vastly less than similar payouts made after similar plane crashes in the US or Europe.
He said a handful of people had accepted the offer, but in doing so had lost their right to sue Boeing for a much higher payout should a court rule in their favour.
"Obviously the insurance company tries to pay as little as possible, and we try to ask the juries for the highest amount possible for them," Mr von Ribbeck said.
Another two US law firms, Colson Hicks Eidson and BartlettChen, have lodged a joint lawsuit on behalf of another victim's family. Yet another Chicago-based firm, Wisner Law, claims to represent several more families in a separate suit against Boeing.
Its website warns relatives to be wary of "unethical attorneys" actively soliciting families. It says such actions violate "a US federal statute which prohibits all contact with the families within 45 days of the crash".
Jakarta Bank Indonesia's survey on the retail sector has shown that sales growth in October declined to less than half the figure in September.
The BI survey records a 2.9 percent year-on-year (yoy) retail sales index (RSI) for October, lower than the 4.8 percent yoy RSI for September.
The highest growth was recorded in clothing and public transportation fuel, which respectively contributed 24.6 percent and 17.9 percent, says BI, adding that the RSI was expected to increase in November and December due to the Christmas and New Year holiday season.
The central bank added that retail sales growth in November and December would still be driven by sales in clothing and public transport fuel, as well as recreational goods.
BI projects that high prices would continue to pressure retail sales in the first months of 2019, as indicated by an increase in the price expectation index (IEH) to 163.9, compared to an IEH of 159.3 in its previous survey.
The increase in prices was in line with producers' planned adjustments in early 2019, it said.
The bank added that inflationary pressures would start to calm in April 2019 as indicated by a decline in the IEH from 173.3 to 172.4 in March.
Bank Indonesia also projected that retail sales growth would again slow in January 2019 following the yearend holiday season, as indicated by a decline in RSI from 165.9 to Rp 156.0 in December. (bbn)
Jakarta One upset fan said the fashion choice was not vulgar and that anyone could see women dressed in mini-skirts at any shopping mall in Indonesia.
The backlash erupted after 11 TV stations were ordered late on Tuesday (Dec 11) to yank out a TV advertisement featuring members of K-pop group Blackpink in mini-skirts.
The order came from the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission in response to a petition signed by more than 100,000 people. The advertisement features the Korean quartet singing and dancing to promote Shopee, an online retailer.
"Companies need to be careful when they're making a commercial that they don't associate their product with something Indonesians see as negative," commission head Hardly Stefano said.
Shopee called the commission's remarks "valuable input" but noted that the commercial had been greenlit by another government agency prior to its airing, Agence France-Presse reported.
The commission's warning came in the wake of a Change.org online petition initiated by Ms Maimon Herawati, a mother who deemed that the skirts, tops and dresses worn by the Korean group were too skimpy.
But her call has also sparked others to launch counter petitions. One, filed by a Blackpink fan, called for the advertisement to continue airing. "Open your mind. Be smart, people," she said.
Blackpink, which have collaborated with British singer Dua Lipa, were appointed Shopee's first regional ambassador last month. They starred in a Shopee 12.12 Birthday Sale commercial that featured a customised version of their hit single Ddu-Du Ddu-du.
The advertisement has drawn more than 28 million views on YouTube since its launch.
Patrick Brzeski Mouly Surya's revenge saga, which is Indonesia's submission for the foreign-language Oscar, won a record 10 trophies at the country's national Citra Awards.
Mouly Surya's feminist western, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, was the overwhelming favorite at Indonesia's Citra Awards in Jakarta over the weekend, earning a record 10 trophies, including for best picture and best director.
The annual awards show, now in its 38th edition, is Indonesia's highest honor for filmmakers, often referred to locally as the "Indonesian Oscars."
With its 10 wins, Marlina broke the previous record held by the classic Indonesian film Ibunda, directed by Teguh Karya, which won 9 Citra Awards in 1986. The other categories in which Marlin triumphed were best original screenplay, best lead actress, best supporting actress, best cinematography, best production design, best editing, best music, and best sound editing.
Other winners in Jakarta over the weekend were Gading Marten in the best actor category for Love for Sale, Nicholas Saputra for best supporting actor in Edwin's Aruna & Lidahnya, Si Juki the Movie for best animated feature and Yuda Kurniawan's The Grassroots Song as best documentary.
Marlina the Murderer premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2017 and is Indonesia's official submission in the best foreign-language film category for the 91st Academy Awards. To date, no Indonesian film has ever been shortlisted for the Oscars.
The film stars Marsha Timothy as the titular heroine, a widow whose rural home is set upon by bandits, with the leader of the gang perfunctorily announcing their plans to rape and rob her.
Exhibiting enough grit and steely survival instinct to rival any hero male or female of a classic Hollywood Western, Marlina snatches the lives of her aggressors instead. But this successful self-defense only complicates her predicament in Indonesia's deeply patriarchal society.
In addition to Cannes, where Marlina was the first Indonesian feature to be shown at the festival in 12 years, the film also played at Toronto, Tokyo Filmex and the Sitges Film Festival. It won a best lead actress award in Sitges and the Grand Prize at Tokyo.
International sales company Asian Shadows has sold the film to more than 40 territories, including theatrical releases in U.S., U.K., Italy, Benelux and Canada. The film was recently picked up by Pandora for theatrical distribution in Japan in 2019.
Linda Yulisman, Jakarta The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission has clamped down on a television advertisement featuring a Korean female pop group "singing and dancing while wearing little clothing".
It has demanded that 11 local television stations stop broadcasting the ad for e-commerce platform Shopee and a "Shopee Road to 12.12 Birthday Sale" programme featuring K-pop group Blackpink.
The commission took issue with both the commercial and the programme of the online shopping site Shopee, pointing out they violated "decency norms" under the Broadcasting Code of Conduct and Programme Standards.
They depicted "a number of women singing and dancing while wearing little clothing" and hence failed to "adhere to decency and morality norms upheld by the public", KPI said in a statement.
"If we still find the similar broadcasts as mentioned in our warning letters, the KPI will impose punishment in line with prevailing regulations," KPI commissioner Hardly Stefano said in the statement.
The warning sent out by the commission was a response to a Change.org online petition initiated by viewer and mother Maimon Herawati, who deemed that the skirts, tops and dresses worn by the girls were too skimpy.
She also questioned the values that the ad, exposing "vulgar and flaunting intimate parts" and "provocative movements and expressions", conveyed to children as it has been aired during several children's programmes.
"We demand the KPI to ban the broadcasting of Shopee and other vulgar ads in Indonesian televisions, both paid and non-paid. We demand Shopee to halt their vulgar ad in social media," Ms Maimon wrote in the petition, which had garnered more than 112,000 supporters out of a targeted 150,000 as of Wednesday (Dec 12).
Ms Maimon's petition attracted strong reactions from netizens on both sides of the argument, especially K-pop fans in Indonesia, leading to rival online petitions.
One was filed by Uci Fauzia, an avid fan of Blackpink, who called for the ads to continue. "Open your mind. Be smart, people," she said.
The four-member South Korean group was appointed Shopee's first regional ambassador last month. They starred in a dedicated Shopee 12.12 Birthday Sale television commercial that performed a customised version of the group's hit single Ddu-Du Ddu-du. The ad has drawn more than 28 million views on YouTube since its launch.
Shopee Indonesia said it appreciated the public feedback on the ad ahead of its anniversary sale campaign but said the commission had already granted permission to the commercial.
"In response to the feedback that we received, we have worked closely with all parties responsible in managing the airing time to be more appropriate for the audience," Shopee Indonesia's country brand manager Rezki Yanuar said in a statement.
In line with the upcoming National Online Shopping Day campaign, the advertisement has been replaced with a new Shopee 12.12 ad starting from Tuesday (Dec 11), Mr Rezki added.
Jakarta A crowd of angry people, allegedly military personnel, ravaged and set fire to the Ciracas Police Station in East Jakarta, on Tuesday night. The riot began on Tuesday at around 11 p.m. and lasted into the early morning of Wednesday.
No casualties were recorded from the incident, but four police officers were reportedly injured. It is alleged that members of the crowd were related to the victims and perpetrators of a battery case that occurred on Monday.
"Around 200 people forcibly entered the police station to check whether the people who had beaten their friends were really being detained," Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Idham Azis said as quoted by kompas.com.
"The officers in the station tried to explain [that the police were still working on the case], but they did not want to listen. Then they ravaged and burned the police station as well as several vehicles," he said.
In a chronology of the events received by The Jakarta Post, it was stated that the crowd trespassed into the police station and demanded to see inside the detention facility.
The Ciracas Police Station chief tried to prevent the crowd from entering the complex, but was beaten down by the crowd. The mob also beat the East Jakarta Police chief and three other police officers who were inside the station.
Around midnight, the mob started to beat every police officer in the station, and also battered two civilians, Tumpal Manota, 23, and Kevin 23, who happened to be driving passed the riot. (gis)
Denpasar Mifta'im An'am Maulana Habiburrohman is not your typical Muslim preacher. Instead of a skull cap, he wears a Javanese headdress over his 1980s-style mullet. His sermons are delivered in nightclubs instead of mosques.
With an eye on rising intolerance of "vice" in the world's largest Muslim-majority country, Habiburrohman said he upholds the right of worship for people who feel unwelcome in their community mosque because they work in clubs and bars.
"I rarely talk about heaven or hell because I believe they already know about that," said the 37-year-old preacher who also goes by the name Gus Miftah.
"There are job demands and life demands that push them to do these jobs to survive," he told Reuters before delivering a sermon to a group of mostly female employees at the Boshe VVIP karaoke bar and dance club in Kuta, Bali. "I have no right to judge them... so I'm here to help them never forget their God," he said.
Gus Miftah also operates an Islamic boarding school in Yogyakarta, his hometown. Conservative groups there say his preaching in clubs and red-light districts is an insult to the Muslim religion.
Hardline Islamic groups have stepped up raids on bars and clubs in recent years, and have targeted sex workers and members of the LGBT community who work in entertainment zones.
Indonesia has the world's largest population of Muslims, and sizable Buddhist, Christian and other religious minorities, but conservative and hardline interpretations of Islam have fanned fears that the officially secular nation is becoming less tolerant.
Former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, was tried and jailed for blasphemy last year after Muslim groups accused him of insulting Islam when he mentioned the Koran in a speech.
Meliana, an ethnic Chinese Buddhist woman of Tanjung Balai in North Sumatra, was jailed for 18 months in August after hardline groups accused her of blasphemy for complaining about the volume of a nearby mosque's calls to prayer.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country's top Muslim clerical body, was not available for comment. Local media have quoted MUI members as saying that Gus Miftah should follow established "rules and methods to conduct sermons."
Yudith Stevanni, a manager at Boshe VVIP Club, said she disagreed with those who say the club is not an appropriate site for religious teaching. "In my opinion, it is just a venue. The lessons can be conducted anywhere," she said.
Club workers who listened to Gus Miftah's 90-minute sermon said they appreciated his humor and informal style. "Even though we work like this, we still have religion and we still want to do good," a 27-year-old female employee said.
In another part of the room, a 25-year-old waitress wore a headscarf as she prayed. She said the session made her feel better about her work. "My friends say my job is bad... but the sermon has helped me through the criticism," she said, declining to give her name.
John McBeth The Indonesian government's long and difficult task of developing Papua just got a lot harder after Free Papua Movement (OPM) rebels slaughtered at least 16 construction workers who were building a 4,320-kilometre highway that will bring migrants into the once-remote Central Highlands in greater numbers than ever before.
It is thought to be the bloodiest single incident in Papua since the controversial UN-administered 1969 Act of Free Choice made the former Dutch-controlled territory a formal part of Indonesia, sparking an independence struggle that continues today.
The OPM's armed wing, the West Papua National Liberation Army, claimed responsibility for the massacre, which suggests that the decades-long conflict may have entered a dangerous new stage despite the rebels having very few modern firearms.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo made it clear that the attack wouldn't discourage the government from finishing the long-delayed Trans-Papua Highway by the end of next year. 'This only makes us more determined to continue our great duty to develop Papua', he said.
With the highway and Jakarta's new mass rapid transit system as centrepieces, Widodo has presided over arguably the biggest infrastructure construction boom in the nation's history, using it to press his claims for a second term when Indonesians go to the polls next April.
The OPM wants to stop the road, which cuts a meandering path through challenging terrain from the coastal city of Sorong in the western Bird's Head region across the Central Highlands to Merauke on the southeast coast bordering Papua New Guinea.
In March last year, separatist gunmen upped the ante by ambushing and killing four construction workers on a section of the highway in the rugged district of Puncak Jaya, 120 kilometres northwest of Wamena, the quasi-highland capital in the Balian Valley.
While the highway will sharply reduce the costs of fuel and other basic needs in Papua's interior, local leaders worry about the social impact, saying the tribes aren't prepared for the influx of migrants, who now outnumber native Papuans by as much as 60:40 across the once-roadless region.
The combined population of Papua and West Papua provinces is estimated at 3.6 million, 1.7 million of whom are listed as indigenous. Many of them are highland tribespeople living in the 10 districts that straddle the road as it winds along the region's mountainous spine.
Still fresh in many minds is the violence which erupted in 2015 in Tolikara, north of Wamena, after local church leaders forbade Muslims from celebrating the end of the Ramadan fasting month. Although only one person died, it was a taste of what a toxic mix of community tensions and poor governance can do.
That discord hasn't been helped by better-educated migrants getting most of the senior positions in the creation of new administrative regions, a process known as pemakaran which is more common in Papua than anywhere else in Indonesia.
Since 2000, the number of kabupaten, or districts, alone has grown from nine to 29 in Papua province and from three to 13 in West Papua, all aimed at satisfying local political demands and getting access to funding rather than improving the quality of administration.
The 1 December massacre in the central mountain district of Nguda follows a series of pin-prick attacks dating back to local government elections last June and has led to fears of the military and the police overreacting, as they have done in the past.
Ironically, the death toll is the worst since a deranged Indonesian special forces lieutenant, armed with an assault rifle, killed 11 soldiers and five civilians in an airport hangar in Timika, the largest town on Papua's south coast in 1996. He died in prison years later.
Employed by a state-owned construction company, the workers were building a bridge in Nduga, a long-time OPM hotspot lying northeast of Freeport, Indonesia's heavily guarded Grasberg mining operation which has been a favoured rebel target in the past.
The killings were reportedly triggered by one of the workers filming a pro-independence flag-raising ceremony, an activity banned by the government that has often led to mass arrests and a violent security crackdown.
The OPM claims the video-cameraman was in fact a government intelligence agent, one of a network of paid informers across Papua. There are conflicting reports about what exactly transpired in the lead-up to the massacre, with even the initial casualty estimates varying between 24 and 31.
According to one unverified social media account, the gun-toting rebels rounded up the workers at their construction camp, tied their hands and then marched them to the Karunggame River, where they were shot or hacked to death.
In a separate incident on 3 December, one soldier died when the same assailants struck a nearby territorial battalion security post, forcing the small unit there to withdraw until the arrival of helicopter-borne reinforcements from Wamena.
Nduga and neighbouring Puncak Jaya were both the scene of election-related violence, including two separate incidents when rebel snipers opened fire on passenger aircraft readying for take-off at Kenyam, the Nduga district capital. Two pilots were wounded.
Changing demographics and efforts to improve the welfare of native Papuans have always been controversial, given the legacy of former president Suharto's now-defunct transmigration program, under which 750,000 migrants settled mostly in western Papua.
Since then, unassisted migrants from Java, Sulawesi and neighbouring islands have followed in growing numbers, settling in West Papua's coastal towns, the Papua province capital of Jayapura, and around the boom town of Timika, which also serves as Freeport's logistics base.
Widodo has visited Papua six times since taking office in 2014, more than any other president, and was pictured earlier in the year touring part of the Trans-Papua road on a motorcycle. But he has so far failed to follow through on his commitment to a sustained peace dialogue.
With former military commander General Moeldoko taking over as the president's chief of staff last January, even efforts at a limited dialogue focused on health, education and the environment have gone nowhere.
There has always been a high level of mistrust felt among defence and home affairs officials, who believe that any talks with indigenous Papuan leaders will inevitably lead to demands for independence. If any pretext was needed, the massacre will only harden that stance. Author
Azis Anwar Fachrudin There were several reasons to anticipate a modest turnout at the second reunion of the 2 December 2016 anti-Ahok mobilisation. First, that the "212" movement, as it's since become known, has lost its original raison d'etre of having Ahok prosecuted for blasphemy.
Second, that some of main 212 leadership figures withdrew their support for further rallies ahead of 2018's reunion, on the grounds that the movement had mainly become a vessel for presidential campaigning. These included Kapitra Ampera (the former lawyer of FPI leader Habib Rizieq Syihab, and now a PDI-P candidate) and Usamah Hisyam (chairman of the Partai Muslimin Indonesia/Parmusi).
Third, Kyai Ma'ruf Amin who signed MUI's 2016 "religious stance" stating that Ahok had blasphemed, and is now President Jokowi's running mate voiced his disapproval of the reunion rally.
While the organisers, the police, and Jokowi supporters will naturally disagree about its exact scale, it was clear that 2018's reunion attracted far more attendees than last year. I arrived inside the National Monument (Monas) compound at 4am and already found it difficult to get within 500 metres of the main stage. Many latecomers were unable to enter the Monas compound, with the crowd spilling out onto surrounding public roads, just as it did in 2016.
Yet while 2018's anniversary saw the biggest mobilisation since the 2 December 2016 rally, there were at least two significant differences between the character of the original 212 event and the most recent reunion, based on my in-person observations.
First, contrary to what was promised by the 212 committee, the tone of last weekend's reunion was strongly linked to presidential politics and hostile to President Jokowi. Second, its organisation was dominated by the Front Pembela Islam (FPI), in contrast to the more diverse involvement of Islamic organisations witnessed in 2016. Indeed, I would primarily interpret 2018's 212 reunion as a show of force on the part of FPI one aimed clearly at demonstrating to the Prabowo Subianto camp the mobilisational potential that FPI can provide if its interests are accommodated.
So, what might have been the driving factors behind the surprisingly large turnout? At the most obvious level, we could say that the 212 movement has seized the emotional momentum created by the burning of a "tauhid flag" by members of Nahdlatul Ulama's youth paramilitary wing, Banser. "Bela tauhid" (defending tauhid) became a new theme for this year's reunion. Habib Rizieq Syihab composed a bela tauhid marching song, and tauhid flags and hats in various colours appeared in the rally.
But the upcoming election played a larger role in generating enthusiasm. While a recent survey by CSIS shows that a significant percentage of supporters of the 212 movement are likely Jokowi voters implying that many of them were only against Ahok, not the president this diversity in the political preferences of 212-sympathetic voters wasn't reflected in what I saw at the reunion. There, the pro-Prabowo atmosphere was palpable.
Of the dozen or so attendees I spoke to about their political opinions, none appeared to support Jokowi. Shouts of "ganti presiden!" (replace the president!) and mocking of "kecebong" (a derogatory nickname for Jokowi supporters) were frequently heard from participants. A lot of people took selfies with their thumb and forefinger, signalling their support for Prabowo. (An amusing aside: tauhid used to be symbolised by the forefinger alone, but now that Jokowi is candidate number 1 on the 2019 ballot, Prabowo's conservative fans are compelled to change their go-to gesture.)
The presence of politicians from the Prabowo camp amplified the reunion's political tone. Politicians on stage included Gerindra's Fadli Zon, PKS' Hidayat Nur Wahid, and PAN's Zulkifli Hasan, while there were none from parties of Jokowi's coalition. In its official statement, the 212 committee cancelled its invitation to Jokowi and his representatives because of their "criminalisation of ulama".
While most of the religious leaders present avoided overt electoral appeals, some of the most prominent among them did not shy away from political themes. At the climactic session of the event, Habib Rizieq Syihab, speaking from Saudi Arabia via a prerecorded address, elaborated several points about what he perceived as grave current conditions of Indonesia due to the current government's wrongdoings, before telling attendees:
"O, my fellow brothers of the faith and the nation, let's make a change... in the coming presidential and legislative elections: it is haram (forbidden); once again, it is haram to vote for parties that support blasphemers of religion... let's vote for the presidential candidate recommended by the ijtima' ulama [the "consensus of ulama", referring to the congress of ulama held by GNPF-Ulama in September 2018] and vote for parties of the Keumatan coalition [consisting of Gerindra, PAN, PKS, PBB, and Partai Berkarya]... Are you ready for voting for the presidential candidate from the ijtima' ulama? Are you ready for sinking the parties supporting blasphemers of religion?"
Rizieq's remarks are at odds with the organisers' previous promises not to talk about electoral politics in the rally. In its official statements, the 212 committee said that participants were forbidden to carry any political party flags. Even Prabowo Subianto, in his address to the crowd, avoided recommending himself. Indeed, whether this rally would be simply a reunion or rather a political campaign has been the subject of debate before and after the event. Rizieq Syihab and other speakers' remarks, and the presence of pro-Prabowo politicians at the event, have prompted authorities to investigate whether there was a violation of the 2017 law on elections, and of a rule from Jakarta's Election Commission that Monas must be free from electoral campaign activities.
The political tone of the rally, of course, doesn't mean most attendees came for political purposes. Just as in 2016, many seemed to be sincerely coming for reasons of piety, and to feel the spirit of Islamic brotherhood, treating their journey to Jakarta as some kind of pilgrimage. Indeed, one of the remarkable features of the original 212 demonstration was its ability to unite diverse sections of the Islamic community that are usually rivals for political patronage and for the hearts and minds of Indonesian Muslims.
What about in 2018? Several speakers made unilateral claims about the success of the 212 movement in uniting Muslims across organisations. In his speech, Governor Anies Baswedan put emphasis on the need for unity over Indonesia's diversity. "God willing," Anies said, "we will be part of those who safeguard unity in this republic." Habib Rizieq Syihab suggested a change in the official logo of the reunion event, to refer to "mujahid" (holy warriors of) 212 instead of "alumni" of 212 to attract into the 212 movement those who didn't join in 2016.
Amid these messages of Islamic unity, however, the 2018 reunion highlighted the dominant role that FPI is playing in mobilising Muslims from across some important ideological and organisational divides through the 212 rallies. The 212 organising committee, known as Persaudaraan Alumni 212 (212 Alumni Brotherhood) is now dominated by leading FPI members. The chairman of PA 212, Slamet Maarif, is FPI's spokesperson. The laskar (foot soldiers) deployed to handle matters such as security and crowd control were from FPI.
Despite my best efforts to look for them in the crowd, I couldn't see logos of other major politically active Islamic organisations inside the Monas compound. There were indeed many logos of majelis taklim (organisations focused on religious gatherings for reciting the Qur'an and listening to sermons), and Islamic humanitarian organisations. But they cannot be compared in significance with organisations such as NU, Muhammadiyah, or even FPI. There were prominent NU and Muhammadiyah figures on stage, but they were notably not supporters of Jokowi. Leading NU and Muhammadiyah figures have said that they didn't approve of this reunion, regarding it as unnecessary.
Shortly before Habib Rizieq's climactic address, the General Secretary of Forum Umat Islam (FUI) and Muhammad al-Khatthath led the reciting of an oath of allegiance (sumpah setia), repeated by participants, to the "Great Imam of the Islamic Ummah of Indonesia", Habib Rizieq Syihab. This title was given to Habib Rizieq by a meeting of the 212 Alumni congress the day before the first 212 reunion in 2017. In the sumpah setia, attendees of the 2018 reunion were invited to swear that, in the name of God, they will be faithful to the habib, obey his commands, and carry out his mission to uphold the sovereignty of syariah by the means of a constitutional struggle within the framework of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI). A huge flag displaying a photo of Habib Rizieq appeared prominently in front of the stage.
So, I would interpret 2018's 212 reunion as more of a show of force on FPI's part rather than a display of Indonesian Muslim unity. Additionally, it was a consolidation of those willing to join the FPI bandwagon in carrying out its trademark agenda of upholding NKRI Bersyariah the doctrine that emphasises the first principle of Pancasila (Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa belief in god), implying that Indonesia is a religious country, and as such, that its constitution and laws ought not to contradict religious (specifically Islamic) values. This idea was echoed by Tengku Zulkarnain, one of the speakers. "We are responsible for upholding NKRI," he shouted, "but we don't want an evil NKRI. We don't want an NKRI that allows homosexuality." In Habib Rizieq's words, "Ayat Suci di atas Ayat Konstitusi" the "holy verses lie above constitutional articles".
Finally, while FPI was dominant among the organisers, the character of the crowd itself was noteworthy, too. Contrary to some of the prejudices of the 212 movement's critics, I would argue that it is simplistic to dismiss the 212 attendees as "intolerant". The committee, arguably pre-empting such criticism, invited figures from various religious backgrounds to attend. Unlike in 2016, no banners displaying racist hatred were seen. There was talk about the Chinese economic grip over the country among some people in the crowd, but these people were few. People were largely friendly to speak to, and the event proceeded peacefully.
Most attendees did not appear to be Salafis (i.e. puritanical in religious practices) either. After arriving at Monas I joined the congregational dawn prayer and, shortly afterwards, the maulidan (celebrating the birthday of Prophet Muhammad). From the qunut (a type of prayer made while standing in the subuh prayer) and the salawat (salutation of the prophet) they recited and sang, I can tell that a lot of participants came from NU backgrounds.
This highlights one important fact that is lost on many foreign observers, who often associate Islamic conservatism in Indonesia with Salafism: namely, that FPI shares with NU many ritual practices that are disapproved of by Salafis (such practices being a longstanding source of tension between traditionalist and Salafi communities). Indeed, a lot of women wore face veils (cadar). But the fact that they joined in chanting the salawat usually deemed heretical by Salafis made me withdraw my judgment that they were Salafis. The fact that a lot of men smoked, even in the middle of the crowd, strengthened this impression.
But do these people share FPI's political agenda? The CSIS poll I mentioned above shows that, while the current 212 leadership is clearly aligning itself with Prabowo, many in the broader community who describe themselves as 212 sympathisers are themselves Jokowi voters. FPI has proven that its mobilisational power is significant, but we don't yet know whether it can it use this power to steer votes towards its preferred candidate in 2019. Whatever happens, it is certain that the 212 rallies are giving FPI and its campaign of NKRI Bersyariah a prominence they have never enjoyed before in the political and religious discourse of Indonesian Muslims.