Jakarta West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Secretary General Ones Nesta Suhuniap has accused a joint task force of Mimika district police and Indonesian military (TNI) in Timika, Papua, of acting immorally and illegally.
The KNPB was protesting against the police and TNI after they forcibly took over and vandalised the KNPB office in Timika without a court order authorising the raid or an arrest warrant.
"The police and TNI forces in Papua are like street thugs operating at markets and bus terminals, the Timika KNPB office was vandalised", Suhuniap told CNN Indonesia on Monday December 31.
Suhuniap refuted police accusations that there were indications of activities at the KNPB office in Timika which opposed the existence of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).
According to Suhuniap, on that day the KNPB office was merely holding a simple thanksgiving ceremony for the establishment of the headquarters.
"Every December 30 and 31 we hold a pilgrimage and office thanksgiving. But today our [event] was broken up by force", said Suhuniap.
Furthermore asserted Suhuniap, these actions by security forces have in fact only aggravated feelings of hatred against the police, TNI and central government on the part of KNPB members and the Papuan people.
The security forces' actions, he said, again demonstrate that there is legal discrimination against the Papuan people.
Based on this, the KNPB is emphasising that incident has actually further inflamed their spirit to fight for the wishes of the Papuan people who want the right to self-determination and a referendum on the status of the Land of the Cendrawasih as Papua is known.
Suhuniap also said that this is not the first time this month that the security forces have acted aggressively against the KNPB. Earlier, on December 1, security forces seized property and vandalised the KNPB offices in Jayapura and Asmat.
"The police and TNI are a waste of space. The Papuan people hate them and the central government more and more", said Suhuniap.
Earlier, Papua regional police public relations head Senior Commissioner Ahmad Kamal asserted that as of today, the KNPB secretariat will no longer be allowed operate and its headquarters has been taken over and turned into a TNI and police post.
Five KNPB office bearers and sympathisers, including KNPB chairperson Yanto Awerkion, were also arrested and are being questioned intensively at the Mimika district police headquarters in Timika. Suhuniap said that his colleagues were still being held at the police headquarters.
Security personnel also put up the national red-and-white flag on the front window of the KNPB office and painted over a KNPB logo on the office wall with a red-and-white flag. (dal/DAL)
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta A human rights group has condemned the banning of a protest by Jayapura Police in Papua on Thursday. The so-called kamisan is a peaceful, silent protest held every Thursday to call on the government to resolve cases of past human rights abuses.
The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said the ban reflected the state's repression of the freedom of expression.
"We warn [the police] that every citizen's right to express their opinion is guaranteed by the Constitution," Kontras coordinator Yati Andriyani said, citing Article 28E of the Constitution and the 2005 law on the international covenant of civil rights.
She added that the police's decision to ban the kamisan also contradicted the government's promise to resolve cases of right abuses in Papua, such as the Wamena case of 2001 and the Wasior case of 2003 by the police and the military, as well as the December 2014 shooting by security forces in Paniai that killed four Papuan students.
The kamisan usually takes place in front of Merdeka Palace and is occasionally attended by noted figures, including Catholic priest and philosopher Franz Magnis Suseno.
Kontras pushed the government and all stakeholders to show more concern for the protest and protect the people's freedom of expression. "That includes to guarantee that people in Papua can hold the kamisan safely," Yati said.
The commission also called on the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Police Commission (Kompolnas) to immediately evaluate the Papua Police chief's actions and to refrain from issuing any policies that would restrict peaceful protests.
Yati also demanded that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo use his authority to ensure that all police forces, including those in Papua, upheld principals of human rights and democracy and instruct the National Police to protect people who participate in protests.
The police have yet to comment on the ban.
Jakarta National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has called on his personnel to tone down for the Christmas and New Year celebrations a security crackdown in Nduga regency, Papua, that was initially aimed at pursuing an armed group with ties to the Free Papua Movement (OPM)
"I've called for a ceasefire to respect Papuan residents who celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve," Tito said on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com. However, he added that security personnel would still continue covert operations.
At least 20 people were killed by the armed group in Nduga regency early this month, including 19 workers of state-owned construction company PT Istaka Karya. They were part of a construction crew assigned to build a 275-kilometer toll-road section connecting Wamena and Mamugu as part of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's flagship trans-Papua road project. One Indonesian Military (TNI) soldier was also killed.
Tito said the National Police would secure other infrastructure projects in Papua following the recent attack. (ivy/swd)
Jakarta Scores of Papuans from the group #SaveNduga Solidarity (Soladiritas #SaveNduga) held a candle lit vigil at the Aspiration Park in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Wednesday December 26 to mark the violence perpetrated by the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (national police) in Nduga regency, Papua.
One by one the participants lit candles and stood holding them in front of other candles placed on the ground. They wore black head-bands and put up banners with the messages such as "Let Them Celebrate Christmas in Peace" and "Save Nduga".
The action was both a celebration of Christmas and a form of solidarity with the people of Nduga who are unable to celebrate Christmas as they have done in previous years.
Java-Bali Nduga University and High-School Student Association (IPMNI) chairperson Darson Lokbere said that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has given the Papuan people a "Christmas gift" of violence by launching the TNI-Polri military operation in Nduga.
"We want to show that the Christmas present for 2018 which has been given to us by Jokowi is the TNI-Polri who are conducting [military] operations in Mbua district, Mapenduma, and surrounding areas, by shooting and bombing", said Lokbere at the action.
Lokbere claimed that that there had been many civilian casualties as a result of the TNI-Polri military operations which were launched following the December 2 shooting of PT Istaka Karya workers by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). Lokbere did not however say how many civilian causalities there were.
"There have been many casualties there. So we here want to show that it is not Christmas there, all there is is sorrow, all there is are casualties", he said.
The action began with the reading of a poem by one of the participants after which Lokbere read out a list of demands for the Widodo government.
Lokbere stated that they support calls by the Papuan provincial government, the Papuan Regional House of Representatives (DPRP), the Papuan People's Council (MRP), religious and social figures, non-government organisations and the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to form an independent team to investigate the violence committed by the TNI-Polri in Nduga.
"[we are] asking the United Nations to send an independent team to investigate the Nduga case", he said.
Lokbere demanded that the Widodo government prioritise dialogue rather than a military approach. He is asking Widodo to withdraw TNI-Polri security personnel from Nduga and immediately give national as well as international journalists access to the area.
"We are asking that personnel from the TNI-Polri restrain themselves and guarantee the right to life for Papuan civilians in Nduga", he said.
After reading out the group's demands, the participants continued the action by holding joint prayers. No police officers could be seen guarding the peaceful solidarity action which proceeded for around half-an-hour.
Earlier, XVII/Cendrawasih Regional Military Command (Kodam) public information head Infantry Colonel Muhammad Aidi said allegations that the TNI were using weapons of mass destruction such as phosphorus bombs in Nduga were ridiculous.
Aidi was responding to news that phosphorus bombs were used during the military operations in Papua following the killing of Trans Papua road construction workers.
"It's impossible they would be fired into an area where we (the TNI) have troops. Now, this is a bit silly, meaning that we would also be killed", he said when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Saturday December 22.
Aidi also denied that any civilians had been shot explaining that the TNI never attacks unless it is first attacked by an armed group.
Aidi said that the bodies which are claimed to be civilians are likely members of the armed group because they do not have identification and specific weapons like soldiers which would allow them to be properly identified.
"They can't be differentiated except for having weapons. They could look like ordinary people, they could also wear the clothing of regional government [officials], they could also wear the clothing of parliamentary members or human rights activist", he said. (fra/arh)
Corry Ap is the widow of assassinated West Papuan cultural leader, musician, and anthropologist Arnold Ap. She is also the mother of Ordek Ap, Chairperson of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua EU, and Raki Ap, Spokesperson for the Free West Papua Campaign. Now living in exile in the Netherlands, we recently sat down with Mrs. Ap to have a conversation about her very long and complicated journey.
Free West Papua Campaign (FWPC): It's interesting that you have lived during the transfer of power between the Dutch, the U.N.'s short administration, and witnessed all 57 years of Indonesia's occupation of West Papua. What was your family life like growing up before all of that happened?
Corry Ap (C.A.): I grew up on Biak island with my parents, my 2 brothers and 3 sisters. My father taught primary school, and Sunday school. Strong community. Happy times.
FWPC: Today is Christmas. What was Christmas time like for you as a child?
C.A: Oh Christmas was a very happy time. We would start preparations in September or October. We didn't have a (pine) tree. We would decorate the banana trees.
FWPC: How did you spend Christmas day?
C.A.: We would always start at church service. Then gather for lots of food and singing.
FWPC: You speak so many languages now, what was you first language at home?
C.A.: Biak and Malaya (what is now Bahasa/Indonesian)
FWPC: Is BIak what you call your indigenous language?
C.A.: Yes, it's just the "Biak" language.
FWPC: When your family would sing Christmas songs did you sing in your native language?
C.A.: Yes mostly in both Biak and Malaya.
FWPC: What kind of schools did you go to?
C.A.: First primary school then to a Dutch run school for women. At the school for women I was trained to be a midwife, and after graduation I started doing that work since 12 years old.
FWPC: When did you first leave Biak?
C.A.: As a teenager I went to work at the Dutch military hospital in Sentani (Sentani is in Jayapura, now the capital of Indonesia). Biak neighborhood in 1961
FWPC: At that time in West Papua there was a lot of political turmoil happening between the Dutch and Indonesia. Were you aware of what was going on?
C.A.: I was a teenager. We were just being young, living and preparing under the Dutch to be an independent country.
FWPC: How did you find out Indonesia had invaded West Papua?
C.A.: It was announced on the radio and newspapers.
FWPC: At what point did the invasion come into your life to affect you personally? What was your first sign up close when you realised it was happening?
C.A.: We saw the helicopters. Being at work at the hospital, wounded Indonesian soldiers started to be brought in. Our supervisor, a Dutch military doctor, told us we were to treat everyone, even them. So that's what we did.
FWPC: How did you find out that the United Nations had given Indonesia administration of West Papua and the Dutch would be leaving?
C.A.: At work. We were brought in and the Dutch explained it to us.
FWPC: Did you stay and work under the Indonesian administration when it changed over?
C.A.: Yes. We kept doing our jobs like we were trained to do.
FWPC: Did things stay the same when Indonesia started to run the hospital?
C.A.: No. Things declined quickly.
FWPC: How so? What was the first sign that things were changing?
C.A.: Well, under the Dutch, the hospital was very clean. Very structured. It started to be not taken care of and we had no medicines to give people.
FWPC: How did things change outside of the hospital?
C.A.: The stores quickly ran out of food and supplies. There was nothing to buy. There was no food.
FWPC: What did Indonesia do about it?
C.A.: They gave out government rations. We had to eat what they gave us.
FWPC: Being that you were only around 16 and 17 years old at the time, what did you think about your situation and what might happen to you?
C.A.: All we could think about was voting for our independence. We were holding out hope for the referendum.
FWPC: All you could do was just ride it out until you could vote in the Act of Free Choice?
C.A.: Yes. We were waiting for referendum.
FWPC: By the time of the Act of Free Choice in 1969 you were eligible to vote. Was there any instruction about how and where to vote? Did any representatives from the United Nations tell the people when the vote was going to happen?
C.A.: No. Nothing. We thought we might be able to vote at work, but no one gave us any information.
FWPC: Did you find out anything about how to vote in the newspaper or on the radio?
FWPC: Where were the Papuan leaders who had made up the New Guinea Council that was formed to take over and run an independent West Papua? Were any of those leaders out communicating information to the people about voting?
C.A.: The Dutch had taken all of the leaders to Nederland. There was no one left to organise the people.
FWPC: Instead of holding an open vote for hundreds of thousands of Papuan people eligible for voting, we know now that only 1,026 men were handpicked to vote for Indonesian rule. How did you find out the vote had happened and that you were staying under Indonesian occupation?
C.A.: On the radio.
FWPC: What was the reaction of Papuans to the news?
C.A.: Papuan resistance started right away. So did Indonesian intimidation, imprisonment, and killings.
FWPC: During this time of civil unrest and panic in West Papua you found love and met the man you would marry. How did your husband come into your life?
C.A.: As medical professionals we would go to tend to the prisoners. That's where we met, in the jail. At this time he was already involved in speaking up about independence in his music. He was being targeted by Indonesian police and in jail because of his songs. His songs would give the people hope, and their identity. He would tell them they were not Indonesian.
FWPC: How old were you both when you got married?
C.A.: I was 19 and he was a year older than me.
FWPC: You would get many more years of seeing your husband in prison. What was family life like when he wasn't in jail.
C.A.: Our house was full of our 3 boys, with people visiting and working on music. As an anthropologist he was very dedicated to preserving our cultural identity and the languages of West Papuan People. People would come from all over so he could transcribe their native words and put them in song. Our family would travel to their villages too.
FWPC: He had such an intellectually rich life. He curated the museum at Cenderwasih University, hosted a radio show, and traveled with his band Mambesak. What would happen when he would be arrested?
C.A.: Over the years he was jailed for different lengths of time. Sometimes 3 months. Sometimes 6 months. We didn't know how long he would be there, but me and our children would go to visit him every day.
FWPC: Do you remember what his charges were?
C.A.: No. There were no [formal] charges. They would just take you and lock you up.
FWPC: Did he have a lawyer, or did you go to his court dates or any trial?
C.A.: No. There was nothing like that. No lawyer.
FWPC: After a decade of going through this cycle of being arrested and held in jail, when did things change to becoming dangerous for him?
C.A.: It was always dangerous, but it became clear they were going to kill him and possibly our whole family. I wanted all of us to leave together, but it was too dangerous to stay. He told us we had to go. He had made arrangements for people to pick us up and take us out of West Papua. We went to see him in the jail at 4pm, then we were in a car being taken away by 6pm.
FWPC: You had 3 boys and were pregnant too?
FWPC: What was your goodbye at the jail like?
C.A.: We knew when or if he got out of jail he would come to us. He wanted us to take our family to a place where our sons could become educated and return to fight for West Papua. He told our boys "Right now you don't understand what is happening, but someday you will."
In 1983 Ap was arrested and imprisoned along with fellow musician Eddie Mofu for singing freedom songs and on suspicion of being sympathetic to the independence movement. While in custody he was shot in the back and died from the fatal wound on April 26th 1984. There was no investigation into his murder, and to this day the Indonesian government has not acknowledged any wrongdoing, nor prosecuted anyone for his death.
FWPC: You only had 2 hours until you were in a car to be taken out of West Papua. Did you have time to pack?
C.A.: No. just a small bag of clothes for the boys..
FWPC: Family photos? Valuables?
C.A.: No. Just the one bag, the little bit of money we had, and our lives.
FWPC: Where did the car take you?
C.A.: We were put into a boat with 3 other families to go to Papua New Guinea. They gave us 3 days worth of food and pushed us out into the dark.
FWPC: What happened when you arrived in PNG?
C.A.: We made camp with the other families we were with and spent the first night sleeping in the jungle. Then the next day I went to an administration building.
FWPC: Run by the PNG government?
C.A.: Yes. They sent us to Blackwater camp. They gave us a plot of land to build a house on. You could stay, but you had to build your own house.
FWPC: You were pregnant and had 3 boys under the age of 8. How did you build a house?
C.A.: With the other families in the camp. We all helped each other.
FWPC: Did you have your baby in that house?
C.A.: No. The baby (Raki) was born in hospital. As a midwife I would help deliver the babies when there was no time to make it an hour away to the hospital, but if there was time the police would take you.
FWPC: The PNG police would drive you an hour away to have your baby?
C.A.: Yes. There were police there to protect the camp. When someone needed care they would take you to the hospital and also give you a ride back.
FWPC: At the camp were you waiting for your husband?
FWPC: How did you find out he wasn't coming to join you?
C.A.: Another family arrived at the camp and brought the message that he had been killed by Indonesia.
FWPC: You weren't able to bury him, or have a funeral. What did you do?
C.A.: The people in our village all came to our house. We cried, and sang, and prayed together. I met my husband in a jail, and we had to say goodbye in a jail.
FWPC: How long did you stay in the camp after that?
C.A.: For one year then we went to Nederland.
FWPC: What made you decide to leave PNG?
C.A.: I wanted to honor my husband's wishes for the boys. He wanted them to go to a safe place and receive a good education.
FWPC: How did you get to Nederland?
C.A.: At the time the Red Cross was there. You could apply for asylum.
FWPC: Could you afford plane fare for a family of 5?
C.A.: No. The Red Cross provided our fare.
FWPC: Where did you live when you got to Nederland?
C.A.: A niece of my husband's was already here so we were able to stay with her.
FWPC: Was there family around to teach your sons their father's music?
C.A.: We have family here, but they mostly learned from listening to cassettes he made.
FWPC: All 4 of your sons are now very active in the independence movement with 2 working as organizers and the other 2 having stepped up front as public leaders. What did you tell them growing up that led to their activism?
C.A.: I always tell them to feel the spirit of their father is to carry on his work.
Tonight Corry Ap is spending Christmas in Nederland with her and Arnold's 4 sons and spouses, and their 6 grandchildren. The Ap brothers continue their work as leaders within the independence movement to Free West Papua, and as the caretakers of their father's musical legacy.
Before his assassination Arnold Ap asked a relative to bring him a cassette recorder and his guitar. He penned his final song 'Life is a mystery.' Sensing his impending death, his last known words to the world were captured in song as he sang...
What I am longing for What I am waiting for Nothing but freedom If only I were an eagle I'll fly high My eyes slip But dear what a sad fate of the bird Becoming prey Being killed eventually
What I am longing for What I am waiting for Nothing but freedom What am I longing for What I am waiting for Nothing but freedom
Arnold Ap's music remains popular and inspirational to West Papuans. His songs of freedom continue to be covered by artists all over the world.
Ganug Nugroho, Apriadi Gunawan, Fadli, Rizal Harahap and Aman Rochman, Jakarta, Surakarta, Pekanbaru, Malang, Batam, Medan Religious figures in the predominantly Christian Papua have joined the provincial government's calls for the central government to withdraw security troops from Nduga regency ahead of Christmas, arguing that the presence of security forces and potential armed conflict with the rebel group have prevented civilians from celebrating Christmas in peace.
The Kemah Injili (Kingmi) Church of Papua recently issued a statement demanding the withdrawal of the joint security force, which had been deployed to hunt separatist rebels with ties to the Free Papua Movement (OPM) after the latter killed construction workers in the regency recently.
Rev. Deserius Adii, one of the church leaders, expressed concern that the churches may not be able to hold Christmas services due to military operations that aim to hunt down the National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB).
Amid the security crackdown, many villagers who were members of 34 churches under Kingmi Church's authority had fled to the forests to seek shelter and some of them remained in the jungle to this day, he said.
"There is a high possibility that the 34 Kingmi churches will not celebrate Christmas in our church buildings because [of the armed conflict]," Adii said recently.
Adii said the troops' withdrawal was necessary to protect civilians. He cited unverified reports which claimed that at least two civilians, including a member of Kingmi Church, had been shot dead when security apparatus launched attacks from helicopters.
All troops must be withdrawn from Nduga and Papua, Adii said. "This is to ensure the safety of all the people of God from any slaughter."
Christian figure in Papua Rev. Hogenboor also called on all parties to refrain from violence and to follow the Christmas message of "Peace on Earth", including in the effort to build inclusive peace for the region.
Previously, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe also called on Jokowi to withdraw the security troops, arguing that residents want to enjoy Christmas services and festivities peacefully in their own villages.
"We grieve for both previous and recent deaths, but that is enough. There cannot be any more civilian casualties," Enembe said.
Just like all Christians across the country and the world, residents who celebrate Christmas in Papua have begun preparing for the joyful day.
Christian and Protestant churches in Timika, for instance, have been decorated with Christmas ornaments, including Christmas trees and rows of colorful lights outside, Antara reported.
Security forces across the country have stepped up measures to ensure the safety of everyone who will attend Christmas services, especially to anticipate terror attacks which targeted churches.
In Surakarta, Central Java, teams from the city and provincial police conducted sweeps of 16 churches on Monday. Authorities gave special security to the three largest churches, including Bethel Injil Sepenuh Church (GBIS) Kepunton, Santa Perawan Maria Regina Purbowardayan Church and Elsaday Church.
"Kepunton Church was a target of suicide bombing in 2011, while the other two churches have received terror threats over the phone," Surakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Ribut Hari Wibowo said.
The police prohibited anyone attending Christmas services from bringing their bags into the churches across the city, he said.
Antiterrorism measures are also now the focus of the Riau Police, which saw a bomb explode at the Batak Protestant Christian Church during a Christmas celebration in Pekanbaru in 2000.
Riau Police chief Insp. Gen. Widodo Eko said they had devoted 940 personnel to secure more than 300 churches in 12 regencies and cities in the province. "The personnel are in the field to monitor the movement of any suspected terrorists," he said.
The Riau Islands Police, similarly, have deployed its antiterror task force to secure Christmas celebrations, chief Insp. Gen Andap Budhi Revianto said.
The North Sumatra Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) have deployed a team of 12 bomb disposal personnel to several churches ahead of scheduled Christmas services on Monday evening.
"The team will sterilize all churches across Pematang Siantar to anticipate bomb attacks, so that Christmas services can go smoothly without disruptions," Brimob official Adj. Comr. Yudiana Syahputra said.
In East Java, 18,000 joint personnel of police, military and local administrations had been deployed to secure Christmas and year-end celebrations in the province, East Java Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Frans Barung Mangera said.
Police personnel would stand on guard to secure churches, especially in large churches with many members, Frans said. (swd)
New Zealand's government says it's seeking information on reports the Indonesian military dropped chemical weapons in Highlands villages.
Australia's Saturday Paper reported over the weekend on the suspected use of white phosphorus weapons, which are banned under international law, in Nduga regency.
Indonesia's Foreign Ministry said the story is "totally baseless" and that Indonesia possesses no chemical weapons. In a statement on Twitter, it said it will take "necessary measures" against the newspaper.
A spokesperson for New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they were aware of the report and are following up. "MFAT, through our Embassy in Jakarta, continues to seek information on the unverified reports of incendiary weapons use in Papua."
Azizah Fitriyanti, Jakarta The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said it will take steps against "irresponsible and misleading" report by Australia's The Saturday Paper about recent Papua's Nduga incident in which tens of Indonesian construction workers had been killed by "armed criminals" believed to be separatists.
The Foreign Ministry denied the report issued on Saturday accusing the Indonesian government of using chemical weapons in security operation in Nduga.
The accusation is entirely "baseless, not factual and totally misleading," the foreign office said in a statement, but it did not go into details about the steps to be taken.
The Foreign Ministry described the report "very regrettable and irresponsible" and strongly denied the allegation about the use of chemical weapons.
The Ministry said Indonesia as a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has not even one of the chemicals listed in the Convention of Chemical Weapons.
As for the use of the military involvement in security operation in Papua, the Ministry said it was not as described by The Saturday Paper. The role of the military is very limited to assisting in law enforcement not for military operation.
The Ministry said the Paper belittled the urgency of what had happened in Nduga where 19 innocence civilians were murdered by a group of armed separatists on Dec. 2, 2018.
The civilians were all construction workers building part of the Trans Papua highway, a national project to improve the welfare of all Indonesians in Papua, it said.
The Saturday Paper published in its edition No 236 an article titled "Exclusive: Chemical weapons dropped on Papua" with photograph.
Dian Septiari, Jakarta The government has denied a report in The Saturday Paper, an Australian weekly, about the alleged use of chemical weapons in a military operation in Nduga, Papua, calling it "totally baseless, nonfactual and gravely misleading".
The story was published in the middle of rising tensions between the local administration and central government in the aftermath of attacks by separatists that led to the death of 19 PT Istaka Karya construction workers and one soldier earlier this month.
It features a picture supposedly taken between Dec. 4 and Dec. 15 of a villager wounded from what some claim was white phosphorus used by the Indonesian Military (TNI) in retaliation for the attacks.
"The troops were going in, heavily armed and with full air support, to teach the West Papuans a lesson. They were going in to kill," wrote John Martinkus and Mark Davis in The Saturday Paper. They wrote at least seven civilians had died in the operation.
In its response, the Foreign Ministry said that, as a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Indonesia did not have any chemical agents listed in Schedule 1 of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Schedule 1 substances are chemicals that can be used as chemical weapons and which have "little or no use for purposes not prohibited" under the convention, such as mustard and nerve agents. These substances may be produced for research, but production of more than 100 grams per year must be declared to the OPCW.
Chemicals that can be used as weapons or in the manufacture of weapons but have legitimate applications as well are listed in Schedule 2 (small-scale applications) and Schedule 3 (large-scale applications).
"Indonesia also imports, uses and stores Schedules 2 and 3 chemical agents for strictly peaceful purposes in supporting national industry, confirmed by no less than 19 OPCW inspections since 2004," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday evening.
The involvement of a military component in the operation, particularly rotary-wing aircraft, the statement continues, was "strictly as an assistance to [the] law enforcement apparatus, and not a military deployment per se in an otherwise internal security [operation]".
The government said the report had "eclipsed the real issue at hand", which was the mass killing of 19 construction workers on Dec. 2 by the West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB).
The attacks and the military operation that followed have resulted in high tension in the region, where Papua Governor Lukas Enembe called on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to withdraw the troops from Nduga regency, so that the people could celebrate Christmas in peace.
"The presence of Indonesian Army and police personnel in Nduga caused trauma to the community, resulting in them fleeing to the forest," he said on Thursday, as reported by tribunnews.com.
In response, the Home Ministry said Lukas' statement violated the Constitution and the Regional Administration Law.
Home Ministry spokesperson Bahtiar Baharudin said Lukas had made a "far-fetched and provocative" argument, and reminded him that, as a governor, he was the representative of the central government in the region and should support the National Police and the TNI in carrying out law enforcement efforts "and guarding every inch of [the country] against armed separatists who committed crimes against humanity."
He added that, under the Regional Administration Law, Lukas could be dismissed if he was proven to have violated his oath as governor and disobeyed the Constitution and state law.
Earlier, the TNI denied reports that they had used explosives in their hunt for rebels in the area.
Rev. Benny Giay, chairman of the Kemah Injili Church Sinode of Papua, confirmed that five civilians two in Mbua and three in Yigi had been killed when security personnel were attempting to retrieve the bodies of the construction workers.
"I'm pretty sure that [explosives] were involved. There were seven [explosions] in Yigi and five on Mount Kabo," he told The Jakarta Post last week. The government also denied the allegation of the death of the civilians. (evi)
David Lipson Indonesia's Military has dismissed "ridiculous" claims it used a banned chemical weapon to subdue separatist forces in West Papua.
Photos published by The Saturday Paper yesterday show a man with a gaping wound to his leg and severe burns.
The report included claims the wounds may have been inflicted by white phosphorous, a chemical incendiary that cannot be extinguished and causes horrific injuries.
In a statement provided to the ABC by Papua Military Command spokesman Colonel Mumahammad Aidi, Indonesia dismissed the reports as "propaganda" and "fake news". "The people who write the propaganda are ridiculous people, and stupid," the statement said.
The statement said white phosphorous bombs "cannot be carried by a personnel-carrier sized helicopter" and must be fired from "tens or hundreds of kilometres away, or dropped from the air by a bomber".
It said the Indonesian Military (TNI) does not operate fighter aircraft, let alone bombers. "If the TNI was using phosphorous bombs, the Nduga District would have been wiped out. All human beings and animals there would have been wiped out," the statement said.
"This cheap propaganda has been deliberately produced by the KKSB [Armed Civilian Group] as a deliberate disguise, to occupy the public with hoaxes and propaganda, so people will forget about the fact that this group [has killed] 28 civilians."
White phosphorus is used in grenades, mortar shells, and artillery shells to mark targets, provide smokescreens, and as an incendiary, according to a fact sheet from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).
Incendiary weapons, including white phosphorus, are prohibited for use against civilian populations under Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. In recent weeks, Indonesian soldiers have been hunting separatist rebels accused of killing at least 17 construction workers, who were attacked while building a road through the remote region of Nduga.
The Indonesian military said the operation was merely aimed at recovering the bodies of the slain workers.
Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe has called for an end to the operation, saying "this is enough". "I, as the Governor of Papua, am asking President Jokowi [Joko Widodo] to withdraw all the troops in Nduga," he said.
Indonesia's police chief in Papua, Inspector General Martuani Sormin, told the ABC: "The TNI and police does not use phosphorus bombs or any sort of [dropped] bombs. Australia has a motive to make a bad impression [of Indonesia] before the international community," he said.
When asked if the security operation would be suspended during Christmas, as requested by Papuan leaders, he responded: "No-one can stop the duty of the police and TNI to guard and secure the country, including in Mbua and Nduga."
In an emailed statement, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Government is aware of continuing reports of violence in Nduga, including "unverified allegations concerning the use of 'phosphorous projectiles'."
"The Australian Government condemns all violence in Papua, affecting civilians and authorities alike," the spokesman said. "We continue to monitor the situation, including through our diplomatic missions in Indonesia."
John Martinkus and Mark Davis There are burns around the wounds. The flesh appears to have been torn open or burrowed into, the victims' clothing melted or cut away. At least seven are dead. Thousands more have fled into the hills.
These are the first images of a major operation being conducted by the Indonesian military in the central highlands of West Papua. Other photographs show yellow-tipped bombs, collected by villagers. Some weapons appear to be white phosphorus, banned under international law for use of this kind.
White phosphorus is considered both an incendiary weapon and a chemical weapon. It burns through skin and flesh, down to the bone. It cannot be extinguished. The only way to save a person hit with it is to submerge them in water and attempt to remove the phosphorus. Many die from internal burns. Others from the phosphorous absorbed into their bodies, which can cause multiple organ failure.
A military source confirms the weapons "appear to be incendiary or white phosphorus". The source says "even the smallest specks burn through clothing, skin, down to the bone and keep on bubbling away. I have seen it up close and personal and it's a horrible weapon."
One Indonesian soldier said they were firing a type of gas on the villages. "It is an explosion, but a type of gas."
The photographs were taken between December 4 and 15. Three of the dead are from a village called Mbua, in the Nduga region. Their names are Mianut Lokbere, Nison Tabuni and Mendus Tabuni. Four others were killed in a village called Yigili.
"It was happened on December 15, 2018," an Mbua man told The Saturday Paper. "At 11.25 local time. They are dead because Indo army bombing them from the chopper. It's because of airfare."
One image shows a man swathed in wet bandages, strips of cloth really, in an attempt to alleviate his pain from the burning object still inside him. Another shows a woman beside the grave of someone killed in the bombing and some unexploded shells carefully collected by the villagers. Others show the bodies of the dead.
Sources say at least four villages have been attacked, from the air, from artillery and from ground troops. The Indonesian army has sealed off the area. Church and local government officials cannot get in to investigate or help those sheltering in the jungle, some of whom may be wounded.
A colleague looks at one picture and asks: "Is that a face?"
The troops were lined up at the airport in Abepura, which serves the West Papuan capital of Jayapura. There were large backpacks and weapons casually left all over the place. The scene was broadcast on Indonesian state television.
They were going to the jungles of the West Papuan highlands, ostensibly to retrieve the bodies of the 31 Indonesian road builders who had been killed by local villagers.
It was presented as a humanitarian act. But like everything in Papua, nothing was really as it seemed. In reality, the troops were going in, heavily armed and with full air support, to teach the West Papuans a lesson. They were going in to kill. They would fly to Wamena, the main town in the highlands. From there, helicopters would take them to the remote villages inhabited by the Nduga people.
The incident started on December 1, several days before the troops went in. December 1 is the day West Papuans mark as their declaration of independence from the Dutch in 1963. Indonesians began occupying West Papua the following year and in 1969 formally annexed the territory.
On December 1, the West Papuans raised their flag, the Morning Star. Such events are a source of great tension with the Indonesians. This year, Indonesian troops arrested more than 500 for attending flag-raising ceremonies in the capital Jayapura, as well as in regional centres and places such as Surabaya, where Papuan students held a protest before the arrests.
In this atmosphere, on that day, the Nduga people held their own flag-raising ceremony in an isolated central highlands Nduga village. A group of Indonesian road workers building the Trans-Papua Highway, designed to link remote communities, attended. One of them started taking photos and video of the crowd.
Fearful that those images would be used in later arrests of independence day celebrators, the Papuans chased the Indonesians back to their accommodation. There, 24 workers were killed eight others escaped, fleeing to the home of a local politician. The following day, seven of these workers were killed.
That started the aerial bombing from the Indonesian side. With their military presence in the area minimal, they called in airstrikes. That is when the helicopters with the bombs came. In addition to the suspected deployment of white phosphorus, they dropped a variety of high explosive and shrapnel. The villages were blanketed.
No international journalists are allowed into West Papua, let alone this remote area. No foreign non-government organisations are allowed. No outside observers are allowed. However, some of the Nduga have phones with cameras, and have sent The Saturday Paper images of bodies, smashed and wounded horribly.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs acknowledged the ongoing violence in the region. "The Australian government is aware of continuing reports of violence in Nduga, Papua, including unverified reports of the alleged use of 'phosphorous projectiles'," a spokesperson said. "The government condemns all violence in Papua, affecting civilians and authorities alike. We will continue to monitor the situation, including through our diplomatic missions in Indonesia."
In 2002 I was in the bush camp of Mathias Wenda, the commander of the arms-bearing division of the Free Papua Movement, near the border between West Papua and Papua New Guinea. He gave me a large sheaf of waterlogged paper.
Typewritten, with ink running from the dampness, were the names of thousands of Papuans who had died trying to get to the border from their villages. They were hard people, tough people, you could see it in their sinewy bodies, but even they struggled to complete that journey across tortuous mountain ranges pursued by Indonesian helicopters and troops.
Someone had carried that list through the mountains and added to it as men, women and children fell from exhaustion and disease and Indonesian military actions. I still have the papers. They are testament to so many dead in a conflict ignored and denied by its closest neighbours.
Until 1977, the Nduga lived in these valleys and hills, totally cut off from the outside world. They didn't know the Dutch had gone and the Indonesians were in charge. They lived in the forest, tending their gardens and raising their pigs.
In 1977, the Indonesians launched a military operation in the area. This was the first contact many had with the outside world: Indonesian troops jumping out of helicopters and shooting them down with M16s. Many ran to the surrounding hills. Many kept running. In the face of the latest attacks, many Nduga have again fled. Enormous hardship awaits them in the cold mountains, from lack of food and extreme conditions. Some may be wounded. No aid can get through.
The Indonesians declared that they have recovered some of their people's bodies. A spokesman for Papua police, Suryadi Diaz, said they were still trying to locate the other murdered road workers, and that one remained missing. "This is the worst attack launched by the armed criminal group recently amid intensified development by the government," he said.
The West Papuan leadership is pleading for international intervention. Their people are dying at the hands of Indonesia's military. The weapons apparently being used are condemned by international law. Our own government, aware of the campaign of violence, remains at arm's length. The only news coming out of Nduga is in the form of terrible pictures: documents of a massacre happening on Australia's doorstop.
Jakarta Officials and religious leaders in Aceh have called on Muslims in the province not to celebrate the New Year for religious reasons.
Aceh acting governor Nova Iriansyah explained in a circular that, "When marking the New Year, [it is recommended] that people not hold any festivities such as fireworks, trumpet-blowing, vehicle racing or any other celebration not in accordance with sharia, our customs and culture," Nova said as quoted by Antara on Sunday.
Cleric Mursalin Basyah echoed the message in a sermon on Sunday before thousands of Muslims at Al Faizin Mosque in Lampeuneurut, Aceh Besar, Aceh,
"Islam firmly prohibits people from individually or in a group celebrating the New Year [in the Gregorian calendar]. We have to inform all generations of Muslims of this," said Mursalin as quoted by Antara.
Other regions, meanwhile, have recommended that people not celebrate the New Year on the streets, to avoid accidents, traffic jams and to respect those in mourning due to disasters. They issued a circular advising people to ring in the New Year with religious activities with family.
North Maluku Governor Abdul Gani Kasuba asked residents to pass the last day of 2018 with religious activities. Abdul said the residents should not light fireworks but instead pray for other regions hit by disasters.
Ternate municipality administration in North Maluku, meanwhile, held an all-night praying event on Sunday to pray for the New Year. Sambas regency administration in West Kalimantan and Makassar municipality in South Sulawesi have also made a similar call.
The head of the Indonesian National Youth Committee (KNPI) in Sambas, Nugra Iranta Denashurya, said he supported the circular, especially because Indonesia was in mourning after earthquakes and a tsunami.
Kubu Raya regency in the same province issued a similar circular on Dec. 27. Kubu Raya administration spokesperson Elfiana Wardani urged residents not to light fireworks.
"We urge residents not to conduct street convoys or parades to avoid traffic jams, reduce traffic accidents and juvenile delinquency," she said as quoted by tribunnews.com.
She said the administration had ordered all local leaders, public figures and religious leaders to remind the public not to engage in "unproductive" activities. The regent suggested that Muslims pray in mosques, she said.
South Lampung regency, which was hit by the Dec. 22 tsunami, made the same call to residents, saying they should ring in the New Year with religious activities instead of partying.
The acting regent, Nanang Ermanto, issued a circular stating that there should be no street convoys, Antara reported.
Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo said residents could celebrate the New Year, but he asked them to do it modestly on account of recent natural disasters. "Those who want to celebrate, please do so modestly, don't party too much because our brothers and sisters are in a hardship. Let's empathize with them," said Ganjar as quoted by Antara (mai/evi)
Hotli Simanjuntak, Banda Aceh Hundreds of Aceh residents flocked to the Siron mass grave in Lambaro, Aceh Besar, to pay respect to victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that shattered the province and led to the death of over 150,000 people in the province alone.
"It's been 14 years already," a resident, Amiruddin said on Wednesday, pointing out that his family visited the mass grave every year.
Amiruddin lost his wife and other relatives in the tsunami. They were living in Ule Lhuee, which was hit the hardest. He and his child were safe because they were away in the morning.
Aside from Amiruddin, dozens of people from minority groups, including the ethnic Chinese and Buddhist communities, also joined the mass prayers.
"We pray for those who departed and for us who survived so we can move on and continue living," Dewina of the Darma Bakti Vihara said.
Simbolon, a Christian from Banda Aceh, shared the sentiment, saying that people died in the tsunami regardless of their religion.
"In the first few years, many found it rather odd that people of different religious background prayed together on the same occasion [...] but the occasion has transformed into one of the most tolerant events in Aceh," he said.
To commemorate the disaster, Aceh fishermen were not allowed to sail on the day and those who insist are subject to traditional sanction, including a ban from fishing for a few days. The rule was introduced given that many fishermen and their families died on Dec. 26, 2014.
"Panglima Laot across Aceh has agreed that Dec. 26 is a no-sea day," Aceh Panglima Laot deputy secretary-general Miftach Cut said. Panglima Laot is the leader of the local traditional sea community. (swd)
Thousands prayed at mass graves Wednesday to mark the 14th anniversary of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, one of the worst natural disasters in history, even as aid workers raced to help victims of the latest killer wave to hit Indonesia.
The annual memorial came after the long-buried remains of dozens of Boxing Day tsunami victims were found last week in Aceh province, which was devastated by the 9.1-magnitude "megathrust" earthquake.
Nearly 170,000 people died in disaster-prone Indonesia when the quake struck Aceh, a predominantly Muslim province in the northern tip of Sumatra island, sparking massive waves that also slammed into coastal areas as far away as Somalia.
The disaster killed about 50,000 people in other countries around the Indian Ocean, bringing total deaths to about 220,000.
The commemorations are this year particularly poignant after a volcano-triggered tsunami struck another part of the country without warning on Saturday, sweeping over popular beaches and inundating tourist hotels and coastal communities, killing over 400.
Thousands paid tribute to the 2004 tsunami victims at a mass grave in Aceh Besar regency where nearly 47,000 are buried under a grassy field dotted with black rocks meant to symbolise a tomb.
"None of my family members have been found, but I believe they're buried here," said mourner Dewina, who carried flowers and incense sticks to burn.
Kharuddin, who goes by one name like many Indonesians, said he also thinks his lost relatives are buried at the vast site.
"I lost my mother and three siblings. I survived after floating out to sea and was rescued by a fishing boat," he told AFP. "Fourteen years have gone by and life goes on. All we can do is pray."
Last week, the remains of more than 30 victims of the 2004 tsunami were found by villagers near a construction site of a newly built housing complex in Aceh. Another dozen bodies were later discovered at the same site.
The first victim identified was Taufik Alamsyah's wife, who still had her driver's licence in a wallet stuffed into her pants pocket.
"I could not believe that I found my wife after all these years of searching and praying," he told AFP in a recent interview. "I've been waiting and wanting to see (her body) with my own eyes."
The 50-year-old civil servant has now buried wife Yunida's remains in the backyard of his new house, where he lives with his current wife.
Alamsyah also lost his five-year-old daughter and in-laws in the 2004 disaster, and has suffered from depression ever since.
The distraught father, who comes back to his old house every year to pray, grabbed his daughter in the chaos, but the force of the water swept her away.
He had taught his daughter to memorise the family's address so she could return home if she ever got lost. "If she was alive, she'd probably be in college now," he said.
Jakarta The head of the Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno presidential election campaign team (BPN), Djoko Santoso, says that that it is better to violate human rights than allow the country to disintegrate.
Santoso said this in relation to a question on potential attacks against Prabowo over the issue of human rights by his opponents during the upcoming presidential debate on January 17. In the first round of the debate, one of the issues that will be covered is human rights.
"I don't (worry). For me, if I'm ordered to, I'll violate human rights, for five years I was asked this question, [would you] violate human rights or let the country be destroyed or disintegrate? Better to violate human rights. If (I violate human rights) then it's just me that gets punished, (but) the country's still intact. This is the thinking of a person who has served in conflict areas", said Santoso in Tebet, Jakarta, on Thursday December 27.
"So (attacks on the issue of human rights) will definitely come out, that's certain. It's just that now days the (punishment) for violating human rights is heavier. The accusations against Prabowo were during a period of transition. Now, at the moment it's a normal period, it's dangerous now if you're accused of violating human rights", he added.
Santoso also touched on the issue of attacks over human rights when Prabowo was paired up with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairperson Megawati Sukarnoputri in the 2009 presidential election. At the time, said Santoso, there was not one person who touched on the issue of human rights that Prabowo is said to have committed.
"Before when Pak [Mr] Prabowo was Bu [Mrs] Megawati's vice presidential running mate, he wasn't attacked (over human rights). It was just passed over", exclaimed the former TNI (Indonesian military) commander.
Santoso said that the issue of human rights is actually being recycled and has now come up again. Specifically that Prabowo stands accused of human rights violations during the transition from the New Order (Orba) regime of former president Suharto to the era of reformasi (the political reform process that began in 1998).
"The human rights (issue) is being recycled, now it's Pak Prabowo that's being accused of violating human rights during the transition period", said Santoso. "But for us now, we have democracy, before it was the transition from the Orba to reformasi, that's over", he said.
In relation to the presidential and vice presidential debate which will be held on January 17, the Prabowo camp has prepared for a number of contingencies both in terms of materials as well as the preparedness of the two candidates.
Santoso also said that he hopes that all the television stations will be able to broadcast the debate live. "We have proposed that all of the TV [stations] be allowed to broadcast it live, so they can each cover it. If he is strong in one TV [broadcast] in Jakarta but not strong in other regions then other TV [stations] can cover it", he asserted. (tst/arh)
Between 1997 and 1998 as many as 23 pro-democracy activists were abducted by members of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus). After extended periods of detention in many cases the victims were severely tortured most were released although 13 remain missing and are presumed dead. Former Kopassus commander Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto who was at the time President Suharto's son-in-law, has admitted to ordering the abductions but denies ordering their torture and claims they were all released alive and well. In April 1999, 11 low-ranking Kopassus officers were tried by a military court for the kidnappings and given sentences of between a year and 22 months in prison, although six of them were allowed to remain in the army. Prabowo himself was discharged from the military for ordering the abductions but has never been tried in court.
Jakarta The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) is questioning the legal grounds for the seizure of books about the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and communism in Kediri, East Java, on Wednesday December 26. The ICJR also criticised the involvement of the TNI (Indonesian military) in the raids.
The seizure of the PKI and communist books was carried out by a joint team from the Kediri district police (Polres), the TNI, and the Kediri regency National Unity and Political Agency (Kesbangpol). During the raid, the team confiscated around 160 books alleged to be about the PKI and communism.
The seizures were carried out after a public complaint and based on alleged violations of articles in the Provisional People's Consultative Assembly Decree (TAP MPRS) Number XXV/1966 on the Dissolution of the PKI and Prohibitions on Marxist, Leninist and Communist Teachings.
In an official release the ICJR also stated that the book seizures violate and are in conflict with existing legislation which stipulates that they can only be carried out after a court order has been issued.
The ICJR was referring to the Constitutional Court (MK) ruling which annulled Law Number 4/PNPS/1963 on the Securing of Printed Materials Whose Contents Could Disturb Public Order.
"Through decision number 20/PUU-VIII/2010, the MK annulled this law and declared that all seizures which had previously been under the authority of the Attorney General's Office (AGO) must be carried out in accordance with prevailing laws (the Criminal Procedural Code, KUHAP), namely through a court order and cannot be carried out arbitrarily", read the official statement on the ICJR's website.
"It needs to be investigated whether the seizures carried out were indeed based on an order from a local chief justice or not. If not, then of course the seizures that were carried out by investigators were illegal".
Furthermore, the ICJR stated that the TNI does not have the authority to be involved in book raids because in cases involving civil society, the TNI does not have any authority.
"The TNI is also not an investigative [institution] which has the authority to carry out law enforcement such as raids and seizures as was done in Pare. Because of this, the TNI must not be involved in law enforcement being carried out by police investigators", said the ICJR.
Based on reports by the Antara state news agency, the seizure of the books about the PKI and communism were carried out in the village of Tulungrejo in Pare sub-district, Kediri regency, in an area known as "English Village (Kampung Inggris).
Three book shops were raided, namely the Q Book Shop, the Ag 1 and 2 Book Shop and the Ab Book Shop.
The Kediri regency AGO stated that it will study the seized books as a preventative measure to anticipate the dissemination of books whose teachings are prohibited in the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).
"We will see if it was in according with existing regulations, in accordance with the law on publishing. We are tasked with monitoring printed materials, so we cooperate with the Dandim [District Military Command], our policy makers will first study if the books with these titles contain (communist teachings) or not", said Kediri AGO Subroto on Thursday.
Subroto also said that the books will be examined to see if they are recent or old prints. If it is proven that they contain prohibited material, then the AGO will take legal action.
The ICJR meanwhile has asked Indonesian police chief Tito Karnavian and TNI chief Air Martial Hadi Tjahjanto to evaluate whether the raids and seizures were in accordance with prevailing laws, particularly article 38 of the KUHAP.
"To people who feel they have suffered financial looses, particularly book shop owners whose goods were forcibly taken away by security personnel, [we ask that you] report it to the police so that these arbitrary acts can be investigated", read the official ICJR statement. (wis)
Ivany Atina Arbi and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta The West Bandung administration's plan to establish what it calls "wife schools" to prevent divorces has sparked outrage among the public, particularly from women activists, who have called the program unfair and sexist.
West Bandung Deputy Regent Hengky Kurniawan revealed the plan on his Instagram account on Thursday, citing the high number of divorce cases in the regency as the reason. The administration recorded 244 divorce cases from Nov. 5 to Nov. 30.
"This is a serious problem for us. Therefore, the West Bandung administration intends to establish 'wife schools' in 2019 to teach wives how to treat their husbands, to hold back their anger and to properly communicate with their kids," said the celebrity-turned-politician.
Hengky tagged the Instagram accounts of West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil and Vice Governor Uu Ruzhanul Ulum in his post.
Many Instagram users derided the idea as sexist, saying that both men and women could contribute to a divorce. Men, too, should pay attention to how they treat their partners.
An Instagram user with the handle @mamamolilo suggested that the administration instead offer "premarital courses", where future wives and husbands are taught about good communication, anger management, financial management and so on.
The Instagram account of the Aliansi Laki-laki Baru (New Men Alliance), a community that strives for women's rights on the assumption that the patriarchal mentality that supports men's dominance also harms men, also commented on Hengky's post, saying "Kang [elder brother] Hengky, let us meet so we can discuss what can cause divorces."
On Twitter, a user called Sekar Lintang Hapsari said it would be better to establish a school for abusive husbands. "Well, Hengky, why don't you [share your] 'Sekolah Ibu' idea with the husbands who beat the crap out of their wives and neglect their children." The comment received more than 800 likes in less than 24 hours.
As of Saturday morning, Hengky has closed the comment section for his controversial post. People can no longer comment or see comments in the post.
He also slightly edited the caption, adding the following note: "Nobody aims to blame wives for divorces, but such a program is working well in Bogor [West Java] to bring down the divorce rate. This is a good program that we can also implement. The trainers in the program will be professors, psychologists, lecturers, female police officers and career women. The governor has expressed appreciation for the plan. I apologize for any misunderstanding. Thank you."
Hengky's wife Sonya Fatmala, an actress and mother of three, supported her husband's idea, explaining the planned program in her Instagram Story posts. She claimed that Sekolah Ibu would be a great program to develop women's character and make them independent.
She said the schools would teach women how to use makeup, how to behave toward their husbands and how to handle their children. "[The school] will teach us [wives] to be mothers and wives who can control our emotions for our family. There are still many women who lack confidence and need a place to share [their feelings]," she wrote. (yan)
Jakarta Commemorating 90 years since the first Women's Congress in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on December 22, 1928, activists have highlighted the problems facing women workers.
These problems are related to the lack of legal protection and a work environment which is still patriarchal and makes things difficult for women workers.
Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women) National Secretary Mutiara Ika Pratiwi says that that in practical terms there is almost no protection for women workers in Indonesia.
Pratiwi gave the example of the Draft Law on Domestic Workers (RUU PRT) which has still not been approved by the House of Representatives (DPR). Another example is the difficulties women workers face obtaining pregnancy leave.
"The facts [on the ground] that we found were that protection is absolutely minimal and neglect is extremely high such as pregnant workers being barred from employment or being sacked. These are the facts that we found", she said at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) in Jakarta on December 22.
Related to this, Pratiwi said that there are a number of threats facing women workers who are pregnant. She said that around 50 percent of women workers are afraid that employers will discover they are pregnant.
"Meaning, there is indeed a real threat, this intimidation is real and felt by women workers in the workplace and the threat could grow", she said.
Based on Perempuan Mahardhika's research into garment workers in the Nusantara Bonded Zone (KBN) in Cakung, Jakarta, there were a number of cases of sexual harassment. The group found that 423 women workers out of a female work force of 747 working in the KBN Cakung had been victims of sexual violence.
The RUU PRT itself has yet to be enacted or agreed to by lawmakers since it was submitted to the DPR in 2004. This, according to Pratiwi has the potential to perpetuate sexual violence against domestic workers. (bin/pmg)
Ahmad Fikri (Contributor), Bandung West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil led a ceremony to commemorate Mother's Day at Gedung Sate in Bandung on Saturday, December 22, 2018. During his speech, Ridwan said that women development index in West Java is gradually increasing.
"We are really proud of it, but there are still problems. So, West Java administration supports women empowerment in various sectors," said Ridwan on Saturday, December 22, 2018.
The support was evident from the provincial program named "Sekoper Cinta" (A Suitcase of Love) or Sekolah Perempuan Capai Impian Dan Cita-Cita (Women School to Achieve Dreams), which was an informal school program for women. The former mayor of Bandung said people were enthusiastic to join the program.
Through the program, Ridwan hoped that women could be more exposed to education about family and economy. "Thus, the life quality in West Java will increase," Ridwan noted.
As West Java Governor, Ridwan aims to apply the program in all West Java districts and cities.
"There is no school for family matters. Now, we design a women's school in which 60 percent of the subjects are about family, and in Bogor, it is proved to reduce the rate of divorce and domestic violence," said Ridwan.
A board member at the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) Supervisory Board, Syafri Adnan Baharuddin, has denied sexually harassing his former secretary, a woman who goes by the pseudonym Dina, after an accusation was made against him last week.
At a press conference yesterday, Syafri stated that he has resigned from BPJS Ketenagakerjaan but said his resignation didn't serve as an admission of guilt to Dina's accusation. Instead, he says he will take legal action against his former secretary, who supposedly owes a lot to him with regards to her career.
"As her boss and as a [parental figure], I was helping her, so please do not get it twisted," Syafri said, as quoted by Tempo.
Syafri claimed that he always interacted with Dina in a professional manner, even if she had her faults as an employee. He recalls having to constantly remind Dina, whose apartment was located far from work, to get to work on time.
"I asked her why she has to live so far away, I always told her to be disciplined," Syafri said.
Syafri also said there was an incident in which Dina attempted suicide for no apparent reason after he arrived back to Jakarta from a work trip. He said he heard about the suicide attempt from Dina's parents, and went straight to her home, but he says he never acted inappropriately.
"It's understandable that, as a boss, I care. It's not the first time I had an assistant," he said.
According to Dina, she attempted suicide because of the alleged sexual harrasments she received from Syafri.
At a press conference held on Friday, Dina said she was sexually harassed by Syafri four times from April 2016 to November 2018 at the office or work trips to other cities.
In an interview with Tirto published also on Friday, in July 2016, Dina said her boss for whom she worked as a secretary came on to her and asked if he could kiss her. Things escalated from there, with Dina claiming that her boss forced her to have sex with him on numerous occasions.
"There was psychological abuse whenever I refused him and escaped his sexual advances, like him making the atmosphere at work uncomfortable, screaming at me over bad things I supposedly did," Dina told Tirto.
On November 28, Dina said she filed a complaint to the chairman of the Supervisory Board. However, two days later, she received a notice for the termination of her employment, which said that her last day on the job was going to be Dec 5.
"[The notice] completely disregarded the true crime, which is the sexual harassment committed by the board member," she said.
Since then, Dina has sought assistance from legal aid groups and feminist groups, some of whom have reported the case all the way up to President Joko Widodo. The president directly appointed the members of the BPJS Ketenagakerjaan Supervisory Board, including the alleged perpetrator. The police have also reportedly been notified.
James Massola & Amilia Rosa, Jakarta Imagine your boss had an affair with a colleague, regaled you with the salacious details and then, when you recorded him harassing you and shared it with a trusted colleague, you were the one who went to jail.
This was Baiq Nuril Maknun's nightmare under Indonesia's infamous Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) law. Nuril was sentenced to six months' jail and fined about 13 years' salary at the minimum wage for "shaming" her boss and his family.
Her story is a singular reminder of how little impact the #MeToo movement a worldwide campaign against sexual harassment and sexual assault, particularly in the workplace has had in Indonesia, partly because of the ITE law.
The law, which was passed in 2008, covers everything that happens online, including banking transactions, pornography, defamation on social media and hate speech, and it has been criticised by rights groups such as Freedom House and Amnesty.
Nuril is a mother of three who lives on the Indonesian island of Lombok, and she is at the centre of a case that traverses internet regulation, harassment and Indonesian attitudes to sex, power and the role of men and women.
While there is a growing expectation that women should not be subject to harassment in the workplace, the country's Supreme Court has judged that she broke the law, sentencing her to prison and a 500 million rupiah fine (about $48,000), or another three months in jail if she can't pay.
It started in 2013, when Nuril was working as an administrative assistant at a school in Lombok. The school's principal, Haji Muslim, had an affair with a married colleague, a woman named Landriati.
Somehow Nuril, an observant Muslim, got roped into being the couple's alibi. She would accompany them on "work trips" as cover, then they would ask her to leave so the couple could spend time together. Soon, Haji Muslim started to regale her with stories.
"He shared vulgar details of their sexual experiences," Nuril tells The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. "I told him to stop, he just continued. Whenever there was only the two of us, he would share graphic details of their sexual acts. He would even pose in their positions for me.
"I repeatedly asked him to stop, and after a while I just kept quiet and kept my head down. I don't know why he would tell me maybe to brag, maybe to get me to have an affair with him, or maybe because he knew I would never tell anyone at school."
Nuril told her husband, who was asking her why she was often late home. "He didn't like it. But I needed the job, so I did nothing. I didn't know what he did was sexual harassment. Not then, but I know now."
Eventually, in early 2014, Nuril was fed up and recorded one of the regular phone calls Haji Muslim made to her, detailing his affair. She only played the audio to two people: her husband and a colleague who suspected Nuril herself was having an affair with the headmaster.
But a few months later another male colleague of Nuril's, a man named Haji Imam Mudawin, asked for a copy. Mudawin said he needed the audio to help him remove the principal from his position.
That's when things took a dramatic turn for the worse for Nuril. The audio was shared widely within school circles. The principal's secret affair was out.
When Haji Muslim next issued contracts for people to work at the school, Nuril's name was not on the list. "I wasn't exactly fired, but no longer employed, just like that, no explanations, no nothing," she says.
She told the headmaster how upset she was, adding that she had not shared the recording broadly. Haji Muslim said he would issue her a new contract, but before that could happen he was moved.
"He is currently quite a high-ranking official at the education department in Mataram [the capital of Lombok]. I lost my job, went to prison and he gets promoted," she said.
At the end of 2014, Haji Muslim filed a police report against Nuril, alleging she distributed audio with immoral content, then he demanded $48,000 "compensation" to withdraw it a staggering sum in a country where the minimum wage is about $300 per month.
Nuril was called in for questioning by the police, but years passed and there was no further progress. Choking back tears, she recalls the day in 2016 that she was arrested.
"I was called by the police to come to the station, I took my youngest son with me. They told me I have to get someone to care for my boy because I am going to prison," she says.
"I felt like the world ended, I was so crushed, my husband had to return from one of the Gili Islands [holiday islands where he worked] to fetch my son. I was in the police cell for 15 days, then more than 15 days at the Mataram prison. I couldn't sleep, I kept crying, I couldn't eat."
Nuril was acquitted by the local district court, but prosecutors appealed to Indonesia's Supreme Court. Last month, the court imposed a six-month sentence and a 500 million rupiah fine. Chief judge Sri Murwahyuni said the court had found her convincingly guilty of the criminal act of distributing, transmitting or allowing access to electronic information that had immoral content.
The end of Haji Muslim's career as a school principal and the shame Nuril had caused him and his family were aggravating factors, the judge said.
Amnesty International's Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid has said this was another example of how the ITE law is being used to repress people, and was a travesty of justice.
Tunggal Pawestri, a women's rights activist and movie producer, says there is little incentive for women in Indonesia to come forward and share their stories.
"There is no adequate law to protect them, they will be blamed for it instead of protected and supported," she says.
"The #MeToo movement, it's not that it doesn't exist in Indonesia, but yes, it's not as big as in other countries. The culture in Indonesia, victim blaming, it's happening in every level of the community. Baiq Nuril's case is a good example. Our laws failed to protect her."
At a rally in Jakarta over a week ago attended by about 2000 people, Pawestri helped lead protests arguing for stronger laws to eradicate sexual violence.
Rieke Diah Pitaloka, a member of Indonesia's parliament, supports the push for a new law. She has followed Nuril's case closely and believes she is not guilty.
Nuril's last chance in court is a case review being prepared by her legal team. Yan Mangandar Putra, a member of Nuril's legal team from Mataram University, says the Supreme Court made errors in its ruling.
Her legal team has also filed a police report against Haji Muslim. But the Indonesian wheels of justice tend to turn slowly. Komang Suartana, a spokesman for the local West Nusa Tenggara police, says their investigation is still at a preliminary stage.
Dr Asmuni, a lawyer acting for Haji Muslim, says his client does not wish to speak to the media nor argue the case in public, but insists his client had told police "the total opposite" of Nuril's account.
In the meantime, the Indonesian Attorney-General's office has said they will not execute the Supreme Court's judgement, keeping Nuril out of jail until her case review is completed.
The case has become so high profile in Indonesia that even President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has weighed in. "If after the judicial review she doesn't get justice, she can apply for a presidential pardon," Jokowi said last month. "When it's at the pardon stage, I'll take over."
Asked what advice she would give her daughters now, Nuril initially says that she has told them "to dress properly, to stay away from improper situations. Be modest, to not dress [in a way] that reveals their bodies."
When it is pointed out that Nuril herself dresses modestly, she grows defiant.
"I will tell them not to take it, not to allow something like this to happen to them. To fight, don't just stay quiet.
"I will continue to fight, I will continue the case against [Haji] Muslim. I regret staying silent. I regret not doing anything then... I never wanted any of this. But I will fight."
Agnes Anya, Jakarta The year 2018 was supposed to be the year of achievement for Indonesia's push for greater citizen protection abroad, a key policy priority under Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. However, the relevant sectors still harbor the same old flaws that prevent the country from helping its citizens escape abuse, kidnapping and capital punishment overseas.
This year, the government has handled 18,960 cases involving Indonesian nationals overseas and has settled 15,420 of them, according to data from the ministry. The rate, 84 percent, was higher than the 2017 figure of 62 percent.
The administration was also pit in a race against time to release seven Indonesians who were abducted by Philippine-based armed groups in its shared waters with Indonesia and Malaysia; three of whom were abducted in January 2017, two in September this year and the remaining in early December.
By December, Indonesia had freed four of them, while three others are still being held for ransom.
With the latest releases, the government under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's leadership has freed 37 hostages in the past four years, operating through various channels and away from the public's attention.
The ministry also booked other forms of achievements by kicking off several citizen protection programs, including the launch of the Safe Travel mobile app and the Peduli WNI (Care for Indonesians) web portal, which aims at providing assistance to Indonesians traveling overseas.
Safe Travel is a mobile phone application that compiles information including travel tips and emergency contacts in all countries, while Peduli WNI is a web-based administration service portal for use by Indonesians abroad, with wide-ranging services that includes applications for birth certificates and national identity cards. The latter is integrated with all national data centers, including those under the Home Ministry and the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers.
The Foreign Ministry's director for the protection of Indonesian citizens and legal entities abroad, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, explained that the citizen protection infrastructure was initiated in 2014 and was researched and developed within three years before being made ready for the public earlier this year.
"In our roadmap, 2018 is the year of public acceptance, in which we are to see the public's response to our programs, including the Safe Travel app and Peduli WNI portal," Iqbal told The Jakarta Post recently, adding that the Safe Travel app had been downloaded by 370,000 users.
Iqbal also revealed that next year the ministry would team up with an outsourcing company to provide more officers who are ready to serve citizens seeking assistance, as the current roster of positions was filled by a limited number of young diplomats and ministry officials serving in shifts.
The launch of the portals, as well as the release of the hostages, have been acknowledged as part of the government's achievements in ensuring protection for its citizens in 2018, said advocacy group Migrant CARE's executive director Wahyu Susilo.
The online portal is particularly helpful at least for Indonesian migrant workers in Asia-Pacific countries, who are usually allowed to have their personal mobile phones with them, he said.
However, this year's accomplishments were marred by the fact that the government had done little but witness the execution of two Indonesian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, Wahyu added.
In March, for the umpteenth time, Riyadh upset Jakarta for not notifying Indonesia prior to the beheading of M. Zaini Misrin, an Indonesian driver accused of killing his Saudi employer.
Zaini, who had worked since 1992 for his employer, Abdullah bin Umar Muhammad Al Sindy, had twice asked for his case to be reviewed, in January 2017 and once more a year later. While the first attempt was rejected, Jakarta claims his second appeal was in an ongoing legal process, even as he was executed.
As a result, the Foreign Ministry sent an official protest notice to Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Indonesia, Osama bin Mohammed al-Shuaib. The ministry's director general for Asia-Pacific and African affairs, Desra Percaya, had probed him about the issue. Some months later in October, Riyadh again triggered Indonesia's anger by executing Tuti Tursilawati without prior knowledge of her family or Indonesian officials. She was charged with premeditated murder of her employer's father, whom she had beaten to death with a stick. According to Saudi criminal law, the act is punishable by had ghillah (absolute death).
This time the incident prompted Retno herself to issue a summons to Ambassador al-Shuaib and force the hand of the Manpower Ministry, traditionally a vehicle for one of the country's Islamic political parties, to review a recently announced agreement with the Saudis on sending Indonesian migrant workers to the Middle Eastern kingdom.
Under the so-called One Channel System, which was agreed to by representatives from the two countries just days before Tuti's execution, the government initially planned to send a limited number of certified worker categories babysitters, family cooks and caretakers for the elderly and family drivers, childcare workers and housekeepers to Saudi Arabia despite a 2015 moratorium banning the sending of new domestic workers to 21 countries in the Middle East.
Migrant CARE called out Indonesia's "inconsistence in governance" over this issue.
Unlike in Zaini's case, the ministry had anticipated Tuti's probable execution after considering the timeline when the case was concluded and the court ruling entered into force in 2011. Iqbal told the Post that the Foreign Ministry had carried out extensive efforts to ensure that the rights of both Tuti and Zaini were guaranteed throughout the legal process.
In addition to the two executions in Saudi Arabia, the year 2018 also marked the shocking death of Adelina Lisao, a 21-year-old Indonesian domestic worker who died in Penang, Malaysia.
Adelina, who was sent with forged documents to work in Malaysia, died after sustaining injuries all over her body, allegedly the result of severe abuse by her employers.
Jakarta responded by threatening Kuala Lumpur with a moratorium on sending migrant workers. The latter then invited Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri to a meeting to renew an agreement on migrant workers, which had expired in 2016. However, the renewal has yet to be sealed.
Nonetheless, Jakarta made an essential move for migrant workers in early December by joining 163 other countries in ratifying the United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakesh, Morocco.
In that instance, Retno underscored the necessity of concerted efforts at the national, regional and global level to ensure the effective implementation of the pact, "especially in creating an enabling environment to achieve safe, orderly and regular migration at work".
While hailing the move, Migrant CARE questioned the government's attitude in shifting the paradigm of governance in the sphere of migrant worker protection.
"Efforts to end vulnerability and violence leading to death as experienced by Indonesian migrant workers are certainly not only based on legal instruments," Wahyu said in a statement recently.
Until now, he said, the government had yet to set up measures to transition from the pro-business Law No. 39/2004 to the protection-first Law No. 18/2017 on the placement of workers abroad.
"As a result, the [loophole] was abused [to serve] an inconsiderate recruitment process that has opened up space for human trafficking," he said.
This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Dec. 26, 2018, with the title "Another year passes with migrant worker issue still in dire straits".
With Indonesia's 2019 presidential election fast approaching, both candidate pairs have yet to go directly head-to-head against each other in a debate.
Yet, as one might expect considering the strong influence religion has had over politics in the majority Muslim country in the past few years, they may be made to prove their devotion to Islam first.
The Council of Preachers Association in Aceh recently invited all candidates to take part in a Quran reading test on Jan. 15 in order to "put an end to identity politics" by proving that they are all devout Muslims and therefore one pair would not hold sway over the nation's Muslim population compared to the other.
The campaign team of Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto and running mate Sandiaga Uno, whose coalition of opposition party backers are more closely associated with and hardline Islamic organizations, were surprisingly quick to shoot down the proposal, saying the public needs to hear candidates talk about more "substantial" issues.
"What the public needs is [to know] what are these candidates offering? To solve the country's economic problems. That is what I think the more substantial thing the Indonesian public wants discussed at this time," Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign spokesman Andre Rosiade told CNN Indonesia.
Andre added the timing of the proposed Quran competency test isn't ideal either, considering that Prabowo and Sandiaga are scheduled to prepare for the first presidential debate on Jan 17. That said, he said the campaign appreciates the proposal and is open to the idea of a Quran test in future elections.
Prabowo-Sandi's refusal to take part in the test may hurt their reputation in the eyes of their ultra-conservative Islamic allies. Prabowo in particular has had his Muslim cred come under intense scrutiny this month after he was accused of being a convert to Islam and therefore "less Muslim" than his rival President Jokowi, who was born a Muslim. Prabowo's campaign has since denied the accusation.
Conversely, the campaign of President Jokowi and running mate Ma'ruf Amin doesn't seem daunted by the proposal, especially since the latter is still chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the highest clerical body in the country. In fact, Ma'ruf said he was up to the challenge.
"If that (the Quran test) is something that what we must attend, then we will attend. I will discuss it with Pak Jokowi. But we are ready if they tell us to attend," he said.
"It's not about whether or not [the Quran test] is necessary, but it's about what the public wants. If there is no Quran test, we have no problem with that either."
But not everybody within Jokowi-Ma'ruf's campaign have warmed to the idea. The Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), which has recently made headlines for their fervent stance that religion should not mix with politics, says testing presidential candidates on their ability to read any religious scripture is "irrelevant".
Other than in Aceh (the only province in Indonesia granted special autonomy to enact sharia-based laws) and in religious offices, government officials are not required by law to prove their religious piety in order to take office.
Indonesia will go to the polls on April 17, 2019. There will be five debates before the election date, the first of which is scheduled for Jan 17, in which candidates will be grilled on issues related to law, human rights, corruption and terrorism.
Tsarina Maharani, Jakarta The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) says that there is a party which has a "stomach ache" over the invitation by the Aceh Proselytizing Association Council (Dewan Ikatan Dai Aceh) for presidential and vice presidential candidates to take part in a Koran reading test.
Prabowo Subianto's Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) has responded with a counter accusation against the PDI-P.
Gerindra Central Leadership Board (DPP) Communication Agency member Andre Rosiade said that the election campaign team (TKN) of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and vice presidential running mate Ma'ruf Amin are actually the one's with a stomach ache.
This is because several surveys show that the Widodo-Amin ticket's electability is continuing to decline.
"We don't have a stomach ache over it. Rather perhaps it's the Jokowi TKN that has a stomach ache looking at the current situation and seeing the public's response to Jokowi. Pak [Mr] Prabowo's agenda is always full right, [his electability] in surveys is also rising. Unlike the other side", Rosiade told journalists on Sunday December 30.
Rosiade insists that Gerindra chairperson Prabowo, along with his vice presidential running mate Sandiaga Uno, are basically ready to take part in the Koran reading test. Rosiade said however that the Prabowo-Sandiaga election campaign team does not want to get drawn into religious issues any more.
"Actually we're ready to take part in the Koran reading test, but we have decided not to. This is because right from the start we have been committed to not talking SARA [racial, religious, ethnic and inter-group] issues. Moreover we believe that the religious issue is resolved because both [of our candidates] are Muslim", said Rosiade who is also a spokesperson for the Prabowo-Sandiaga election campaign team.
"[But] we also acknowledge that on reading the Koran, Yes, Kiai [Islamic teacher] Ma'ruf is the greatest. Because he's an important ulama [Islamic leader]", he added.
Currently the Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign team is continuing to focus o economic issues which, according to Rosiade are more important to the public.
"Our country is a composite right, diverse, and the public needs this. Right now the public needs [us] to discuss economic problems, employment opportunities, and the cost of basic commodities", asserted Rosiade.
Earlier, PDI-P Secretary General Hasto Kristiyanto said that the invitation to take part in a Koran reading test has given certain parties a stomach ache, although he did not reveal which party he meant by this.
"If you follow the logic, this recent test has created problems for a certain party, who initially used religious issues, so the Acehnese public have responded in kind. As the proverb goes, 'If you hit water in a bucket, you'll splash your own face'. I could draw an analogy with boxing when a blow to the lower body causes a stomach ache", said Kristiyanto. (tsa/tor)
Despite the fact that Prabowo's election campaign has relied heavily on demagogy and identity politics to court the Islamic moral conservative vote and he has the backing of several hard-line and extremist Islamic groups, there have been a number of recent reports in the Indonesian media questioning his Muslim credentials accusing Prabowo of being unable to perform Islamic prayers properly or being a convert to Islam and therefore "less Muslim" than his rival Widodo who was born a Muslim.
Danu Damarjati, Jakarta The election campaign team of incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and running mate Ma'ruf Amin says that they support the proposed Koran reading test for presidential and vice presidential candidates.
The reason being that an Indonesian leader must be a person that understands the religion practiced by the majority of their people.
"We as a team support it, because Indonesia's Islamic community is big, like it or not an understanding of the majority religious community must be truly complete, lest they be mishandled", Widodo-Amin election campaign team deputy chairperson Abdul Kadir Karding told journalists on Monday December 31.
Karding, who is also the chairperson of the Islamic based National Awakening Party (PKB) central leadership board, said that Indonesia, which has an Islamic majority, obviously needs to be led by a person who understands Islam. If an Indonesian leader does not understand Islam then they would be a danger to their own people.
"How could Indonesia with an Islamic majority be led by a person who doesn't understand religion? It would be difficult, right, dangerous, right! Because such a leader must be immersed in the values and culture [of the majority religion], although they must understand all religious as well", said Karding.
Karding hopes that the Koran reading test will counter the identity politics which have been used to attack Widodo. According to Karding, Widodo is often attacked by accusations that he criminalises ulama [Islamic leaders], is a member of the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) which doesn't believe in God and isn't Islamic. Yet Widodo's is not a figure like that. A Koran reading test could put an end to these kinds of political identity attacks.
"Up until now the narrative that has emerged is a narrative prioritising the narrative of identity politics rather than programs. Because of this therefore, who knows with the Koran reading [test] it could be reduced", said Karding.
Karding is appealing to the non-Muslim public not to worry about the Koran reading test. The thing is, the Koran contains the principles of a blessing to all humankind and a blessing for the universe.
The more a person understands Islam the more a person will be tolerant towards all groups. This corresponds to the conditions of Indonesian society which is made up of many groups and is a composite society.
"It doesn't mean that the leadership [ability] of a leader of a composite society is any less. It will (through the Koran reading test) in fact strengthen, because the principals of Islam are a blessing to all humankind", he said.
It is certain that Widodo will be able to pass the Koran reading test. Moreover he won't need any special preparation to undergo the test. "Yes [he[ won't need any preparation, [he's] already familiar and can do it. Except those who can't, those who have to prepare themselves are the ones that can't", said Karding.
The Koran reading test proposal came from the Aceh Proselytizing Association Council (Dewan Ikatan Dai Aceh). They proposed the test in order to put an end to the polemic about the Islamic credentials of the presidential and vice presidential candidates.
"We have invited the two presidential tickets to take part in a test of their ability to read the Koran. The Koran reading test will be carried out at the Baiturrahman Great Mosque in Banda Aceh, on January 15, 2019", said Aceh Proselytizing Association Council leadership board chairperson Tgk Marsyuddin Ishak in Banda Aceh on Saturday December 29. (dnu/knv)
Jakarta Reports about the exploitation of voter data in elections overseas, coupled with uncertainty surrounding the deliberation of the data privacy bill at home, should be sufficient warning of potentially similar abuse of personal information here in Indonesia.
The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) has warned over potential data misuse ahead of next year's general elections through voter behavioral targeting (VBT) and voter micro-targeting (VMT) survey techniques commonly applied by political survey institutions.
"Political campaigning has effectively shifted to sophisticated data operations. The shift of voters' choices [in elections] is a result of such [data operations], and this [practice] is nothing new," ELSAM researcher Wahyudi Djafar told a media conference recently.
He cited alleged misuse during the 2017 elections in Kenya, where Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company, stoked ethnic sentiment through carefully tailored personal text messages sent to voters. The practice had prompted the Kenyan Supreme Court to declare null and void the results of the August 2017 presidential election and order a revote to take place a month later.
Wahyudi said the development of the internet also had an effect on the changing electoral landscape all over the world. He was of the opinion that voters' personal data were particularly at risk in Indonesia.
"Indonesia has 132 million internet users, 130 million of whom are active social media users. Thus, there is a massive space for personal data exploitation, especially since the majority of [internet users] are voters," he said.
He called on the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) to regulate political ads and recommended speeding up the process to pass the data privacy bill. The bill is yet to be submitted to the House of Representatives for further deliberation.
Sigit Pamungkas, executive director of the Network for Democracy and Electoral Integrity (Netgrit), said Law No. 7/2017 on General Elections allowed political campaigns to be conducted through social media on the condition that every candidate could only open 10 accounts on any platform and their ads could only be aired for 30 seconds a day on every platform.
"However, the law only refers to personal accounts, while it should regulate the platform providers instead. And this could give rise to an imbalanced political contest, since online ads are expensive," Sigit said.
Another cause for concern is the fact that profiling by survey institutions is based on people's personal data obtained from the national electronic ID (e-ID) database. Details stored in that database are prone to abuse.
Usep Sadikin, a researcher with the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), however, said such abuse could be prevented if voters' data were accurate. "If voters' data are accurate, any possible abuse of them can be anticipated," Used said.
Currently, Indonesia relies on Communications and Information Ministry Regulation No. 20/2016 on the protection of personal data in electronic systems. However, this regulation is been deemed inadequate by some to anticipate large-scale electronic data breaches.
Bawaslu commissioner Fritz Edward Sirait previously acknowledged that the agency had yet to take specific measures to anticipate the potential misuse of voters' data, saying that prevailing regulations suggested it was beyond its authority to monitor big data usage in political campaigns. (spl)
Muslims aren't allowed to wish Christians a Merry Christmas at least according to one contentious interpretation of Islamic law. Yet it's one many Muslims in Indonesia ascribe to, believing that wishing people of other faiths joy on their holy day equates to validating their beliefs, while casting into doubt your own faith in Allah as the only true God.
It's no wonder then, that Muslims in Indonesia are reminded not to say "Merry Christmas" to their Christian friends year after year. Some Islamic organizations even go so far as to ban Muslims from wearing Christmas-themed fashion accessories, while all-too-willing hardline groups take it upon themselves to enforce those bans.
This year, our annual Christmas paranoia is playing out on the political front, where the holiday has suddenly emerged as a potentially toxic topic for presidential hopefuls who would otherwise be incentivized to promote inclusivity ahead of April's polls.
We took a seemingly rosy step toward religious harmony this week when President Joko Widodo's running mate, Ma'ruf Amin, chairman of Indonesia's top clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), appeared in a video wishing happiness to Indonesia's Christians this Christmas and New Year.
But within hours, the video had been edited to superimpose a Santa Claus costume on Ma'ruf an apparent attempt at mocking the cleric.
After it went viral, police identified the maker of the video as a man in Aceh and arrested him on defamation charges under the controversial Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE) for insulting an ulema. Defamation under UU ITE is a crime punishable by up to four years in prison.
"Spreading a video like that means shaming a cleric. Just because of politics doesn't mean we can insult clerics," Jokowi-Ma'ruf campaign deputy chairman Abdul Kadir Karding explained to Detik.
But Jokowi and Ma'ruf's rivals, Prabowo Subianto and running mate Sandiaga Uno, soon had a Christmas controversy of their own. In a video recently uploaded by his niece, the Gerindra chairman can be seen dancing at a family Christmas party. His campaign now claims that the video is being used as a tool to attack Prabowo's Islamic credibility.
"[Prabowo's enemies] are panicking. The other day they said that Prabowo is a radical Islamist who wants to turn Indonesia into a caliphate. And then they said he couldn't lead a prayer. And now it's about a Christmas celebration. The issues are always personal and not substantial like about the economy," Prabowo-Sandi campaign spokesman Andre Rosiade told reporters today, as quoted by Detik.
"[Prabowo] did not take part in any [Christian] worship rituals. He came after the rituals. The majority of his family are Christians, they held a gathering and [Prabowo] came after the worship rituals and took part in the poco-poco dance or what have you."
Andre then attempted to shift the attention back to Ma'ruf's video, implying that the MUI chairman is being disingenuous, as he never publicly wished people a Merry Christmas in previous years until he became a candidate for vice president.
At any rate, Prabowo-Sandi still trails Jokowi-Ma'ruf by double digits in most polls leading up to April's election. Political observers have been saying that, unlike the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, the topic of religion wouldn't play as much a part during the 2019 presidential campaign, with candidates expected to focus on the economy instead.
While that has largely been true, this brouhaha over Christmas shows there's at least potential for religion to play a role in shaping how Indonesians view their presidential candidates.
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta National Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais, who is known as an outspoken critic of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, is being pressured to step down from his party post by its co-founders.
Amien, who is also one of PAN's founders, is serving as the party's advisory board chairman and is believed to have played a significant role in influencing PAN to support President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's challenger, Prabowo Subianto, in the election next year.
"It's time for you [Amien Rais] to stop his political activities and pass the leadership of PAN to next generation," the co-founders wrote in an open letter to Amien on Wednesday.
The co-founders who signed the letter were politician Abdillah Toha, lawyer Albert Hasibuan, women's activist Zumrotin K. Susilo and writers Goenawan Mohamad and Toeti Heraty.
They said Amien had often engaged in political machinations that had gone beyond the party's principles.
"As one of the key figures in the [post-1998] reform movement, you [Amien] have now supported and joined the politicians who aim to restore the New Order era," they said in the letter, referring to the fact that Prabowo was a son-in-law of former president Soeharto, who had established the New Order.
The former military general's presidential bid is also supported by the Berkarya Party, which was co-founded and is being run by Soeharto's children.
"As an expert in politics, you have failed to educate the nation, yet you participate in spreading the issue of the Indonesian Communist Party revival, which is far from the truth."
Amien had been an icon in the reform movement that pushed for change in the country after the fall of Soeharto.
PAN supports Prabowo, the Gerindra Party chairman, who is running with his fellow party member Sandiaga Uno. Prabowo and Sandiaga are also backed by the Gerindra Party, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
PAN's decision to support Prabowo came after an internal dispute erupted between Prabowo supporters and Jokowi loyalists within the party.
In the 2016 Jakarta election, Amien supported a bitter, racially charged attack against then Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, who was seeking reelection.
Albert said most of Amien's political moves made PAN unable to independently decide its political direction.
"Amien was a prominent figure in 1998, thus he deserved to be our leader at that time. We built PAN to be a modern party that embraced both the majority and the minority, but now Amien is no longer in line with that spirit," Albert said.
PAN secretary-general Eddy Soeparno claimed that the five party co-founders were no longer active in politics, had no loyalists and, hence, did not have a say in the party. "They are supporters of the rival camp," Eddy said. "We want them to respect our executive board. PAN fully supports Amien's position and his political views."
Ahmad Rafiq (contributor), Jakarta Presidential candidate of the upcoming 2019 Indonesian election, Prabowo Subianto, issued yet another controversial statement which has gone viral. He claimed that Indonesians are not earning enough money likening them to impoverished nations, such as Haiti.
Prabowo said that the government has made an economic blunder that has driven a portion of Indonesia's wealth offshore.
"If this continues to go on, Indonesia will continue to be impoverished," said the opposition party's candidate in his speech at the Majelis Tafsir Al Quran (MTA) headquarters in Solo on Sunday, December 23.
"We, Indonesians, are on par with African impoverished countries such as Rwanda, Haiti, and small islands like Kiribati, which we don't even know where it's located," said Prabowo Subianto. He said that it is regrettable since Indonesia is the fourth largest country in the world.
His statement which mentioned Haiti as a country in the African continent later went viral and became a topic of discussion and ridicule across social media platforms. It even went as far to drive the hashtag #Haiti into a trending topic on Twitter early this morning.
Many social media users pointed out the fact that Prabowo Subianto had failed to understand that Haiti is a country located in the Caribbean islands within the territory of the United States of America, unlike his speech which origins the country to an African state.
Muhammad Cohen Bali Indonesia will hold national legislative and presidential elections in April 2019, and although the official campaign has not yet begun, the political scene is already noisy.
On the surface, the platforms scarcely differ for the two presidential candidates, President Joko Widodo (known colloquially as Jokowi) and retired army general Prabowo Subianto. Jokowi's slogan is "Work hard, work hard, work hard."
Prabowo's followers chant "Change the president." A recent television debate was entitled Kerja keras vs Suara keras (Hard work vs Hard talk).
But hidden in plain sight within the presidential race is a contest over the role of Islam in Indonesian society. Widodo is considered a moderate Muslim while Prabowo is courting the religious right.
To make things more interesting, Jokowi has chosen leading conservative Muslim cleric, Ma'ruf Amin, as his vice-presidential running mate. In the midst of this debate, Yenny Wahid, daughter of the late president Abdurrahman Wahid, is a particularly important player, perhaps the most prominent female political proponent of moderate Islam, once Indonesia's religious calling card.
Yenny Wahid is a princess of the Indonesian Islamic establishment. Her father, nicknamed Gus Dur, was a much admired but controversially progressive Islamic cleric. Her grandfather Wahid Hasyim served as Indonesia's first minister of religion.
Wahid's great-grandfather Hasyim Asy'ari founded the world's largest Muslim membership organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) that still thrives today with Ma'ruf Amin as its leader.
But Wahid, 44, is more than NU royalty. She is an energetic activist for moderate Islam, the acknowledged heir of her father's mission to fight intolerance in Indonesian society.
Gus Dur, president from 1999 to 2001, was a voice of inclusiveness and moderation in the face of the sudden rise of the religious right when Suharto's three decades-plus of repression ended in 1998. That quest goes forward through the Wahid Institute, founded in 2004, with Yenny Wahid now its director.
Wahid has prepared for this mission to win hearts and minds through education and practical experience. She has a bachelor's degree in design and visual communication from Trisakti University in Jakarta and a master's from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Between earning these degrees, she worked as a correspondent for Australia's Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, reporting on separatist movements in Indonesia's Aceh and East Timor.
Her team won journalism's Walkley Award for covering the violence in East Timor following the 1999 independence referendum. Wahid left and moved across the table as a communications adviser in her father's administration and to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2005 2007.
At the recent Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2018 in Bali, Yenny Wahid arrived fresh from a United Nations engagement and got the rock star treatment, drawing packed houses of predominantly young Indonesians.
In response to a question about the most important thing Gus Dur taught his four daughters, Wahid said, "He taught us to read widely and critically. It enabled us to be able to question things and get many perspectives, to form our own thoughts about foreign ideas."
Gus Dur was remarkable for his own broad perspective, Wahid noted. "Despite being raised in a conservative Islamic background with very strict teachings and lifestyle, he was exposed to many thinkers, including a German priest who taught him to love classical music," she said.
"He looked at the world in a deeper way. He exposed us to people from different cultures and taught us to be open to ideas and brave in confronting the truth."
In contrast with that tradition of openness sits Indonesia's controversial blasphemy law actually a web of legislation, presidential decrees and ministerial directives a sharp dividing line between moderate and right-wing Muslims.
Islamic hardliners brought blasphemy charges against popular but outspoken Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent. The governor lost his bid for a new term while battling the legal case, then was convicted of blasphemy and is now serving a two-year prison sentence.
"We didn't create the law," Wahid said. "We inherited it from the Dutch." She explained that many European countries, such as Denmark, have similar statutes on their books.
In Indonesia, as in Europe, the blasphemy law is routinely ignored until it can be used for political purposes. Her solution is to work through legal processes to overturn the law, an effort now winding its way though Indonesia's courts that hasn't yet paid off.
Wahid offered a practical political perspective about Jokowi's running mate, Ma'ruf Amin. As head of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), an Islamic oversight board, Ma'ruf has taken extreme positions on social issues, including supporting the blasphemy law and banning of Ahmadiyah, a Muslim sect.
Many moderate Muslims were aghast that the moderate Jokowi appointed the hardline Ma'ruf, once a presidential adviser to her father.
"Political wisdom says that when a presidential candidate is a nationalist, the running mate should come from the Islamic camp," Wahid explained. She dismissed fears that the vice president would exert conservative influence on the government.
"President Jokowi is committed to more openness in society, and he has the final call on government policy. Knowing him, I don't think it would be easy for anyone to influence him.
"Besides, Ma'ruf Amin is a politician. And politicians have a wonderful ability to adapt when the situation dictates that you must be friends with people you once opposed. A good politician is always open to this."
Despite the unsettling cocktail of Islam and politics that Indonesia has experienced, Wahid contends there is a constructive role for religion in affairs of state.
"Eighty percent of the world's population belong to some religion. You need to work with that," she said. "We're seeing religious interest groups promoting social issues based on religious tenets, such as Christians for Fair Trade, Muslims for the Environment.
"The problem is when religion is used to attack people, even people of the same belief. We need religious people to bring more kindness and goodness into society." Amin (amen), her father would undoubtedly add.
The National Mandate Party (PAN), a major party in Indonesia's opposition coalition, is seemingly going through an extremely turbulent time with a public denouncement of its founding father Amien Rais by the party's most senior members.
In an open letter signed today, five of the Islam-based party's co-founders, namely Abdillah Toha, Albert Hasibuan, Goenawan Mohamad, Toety Heraty and Zumrotin, all asked for fellow co-founder and current PAN Advisory Board Chairman Amien Rais to step down over what they perceive as transgressions he committed against party ideals.
As picked up by Detik, the five co-founders stressed in the letter that PAN is a modern and inclusive party, therefore incompatible with Amien Rais's divisive politics and close association with hardline Islamic groups in recent years.
"[Amien Rais] has turned religion into a political tool in order to attain his goal of gaining power," one passage in the letter read.
Amien Rais, who was formerly the head of Muhammadiyah, one of Indonesia's largest and most influential Islamic organizations, is respected by many for his role in helping to topple the dictator Suharto and his 32-year New Order regime during the '98 reforms. He served as PAN's first chairman after founding the party with several other renowned reformists.
Since the hardliner-led protest movement against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama helped ensure the Christian politician's loss in the 2017 gubernatorial election, many political observers have been worried about the increasing polarization of the country's politics and the use of religion as a tool to sway voters.
Amien Rais has been one of the most influential figures in that movement he currently sits on the board of Persaudaraan 212 (PA 212), an umbrella organization consisting of hardline Islamic groups including the highly controversial Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) led by firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab. PA 212 has been closely associated with the coalition of opposition parties led by Gerindra chairman and 2019 presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.
In recent years, Amien Rais has been no stranger to making highly divisive statements, such as saying earlier this year that parties that don't make up the opposition were "the forces of Satan".
The turbulence within PAN could possibly spell disaster for Prabowo's candidacy as he trails incumbent President Joko Widodo by double-digits in most polls ahead of April's election. In addition to the open letter, several senior PAN members have in recent weeks gone against the party's instructions by openly declaring their support for President Jokowi in the election.
Amien Rais has not publicly responded to the open letter, but Tjatur Sapto Edy, another PAN co-founder, has denied rumors of a rift within the party and is urging Amien Rais to remain as its leader.
Fikri Arigi, Jakarta Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto denied the allegation related to bad relationship between the Prabowo-Sandiaga National Campaign Agency (BPN) and the Democrat Party.
After a closed meeting joined by leaders of the Great Indonesia Movement party (Gerindra) and Democrat party, Prabowo stated he never doubted the commitment of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).
Prabowo recognized the Democrat Party chairman as a country's leader and former general who have precise calculation and strategy. Prabowo explained that he considered the synergy between both parties is gradually improving.
"I never doubted SBY's commitment," said Prabowo in a press conference at SBY's residence, Jalan Mega Kuningan Timur VII, South Jakarta on Friday, December 21, 2018.
According to Prabowo, as a party leader, he and SBY rarely meet each other due to their tight schedules on campaigning the party in various regions. However, meetings on the level of secretary-general were always established.
Prabowo further expressed his respect to the sixth President of Indonesia. He stated that during ten years of SBY's administration, he felt convenient and never experienced any substantial conflict.
Prabowo also acknowledged SBY as his senior. "In our corps, once a senior is always a senior," said Prabowo to SBY in front of media reporters.
Prabowo then delivered his gratitude to SBY and Democrat Party whose support served as strong encouragement for his struggle. "Once more, thank you pak SBY and Democrat Party," he concluded.
Apriadi Gunawan, Medan The Langkat Police have apprehended a 19-year-old male for allegedly burning a Quran near a mosque in Besitang district, Langkat regency, North Sumatra, on Friday.
North Sumatra Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Tatan Dirsan Atmaja said the man, identified as Zulhamsyah, was caught red-handed burning the Quran. The police were questioning Zulhamsyah to find out his motive.
"We are still looking at what lies behind the perpetrator's actions. He has been detained at the Langkat Police station," Tatan said on Friday.
This was the second Quran burning case this week that the Langkat Police has handled, Tatan said. The police were also looking into a potential connection between the recent and previous case in which 20 copies of the Quran were burned by an unidentified man at the Nurul Huda mosque in Stabat district, Langkat, earlier this week.
The North Sumatra Police have been involved in the investigation. "The police have been very careful in investigating this case because it involves sensitive matters," Tatan said, expressing hope that Muslims would not be incited by the case. (spl/swd)
Jakarta The Lhokseumawe Police in Aceh have apprehended a 31-year-old man who allegedly edited footage of vice-presidential candidate and Muslim cleric Ma'ruf Amin to show him in a Santa Claus costume and posted it to the internet.
The Lhokseumawe Police on Dec. 26 arrested the man, a resident of Nisam district in North Aceh who has been identified only with the initial S, and took him to Aceh Police headquarters for further investigation, a police official said.
Criminal investigation head First Insp. Rizki Andrian at the Lhokseumawe Police confirmed the arrest on Thursday, saying that S was also named a suspect in the case.
"We have arrested the man suspected of spreading a video that could trigger hatred," Rizki said, as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday.
The video, which has circulated on social media, depicts the non-active chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in a Santa Claus costume, wishing all the nation's Christians "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year".
The footage appears to be the edited version of an official campaign video for the Joko "Jokowi" Widodo-Ma'ruf Amin pair, which shows Ma'ruf in a black suit, white scarf and black peci (cap) delivering his Christmas message.
The Jokowi-Ma'ruf national campaign team reported the suspected perpetrator of the doctored footage to the police after it had already spread across the internet.
The case was now under the jurisdiction of the Aceh Police, said Rizki. (afr/swd)
Life may conspire to throw obstacles at us, but, in general, we Indonesians are an optimistic bunch even if we're starting to lower our expectations about what the future might bring.
A new survey by Gallup International Association, released yesterday, shows that Indonesians are generally optimistic about 2019. When asked, "do you think that 2019 will be better, worse or the same as 2018?", 42% of Indonesians responded in the positive while only 8% were pessimistic, combining for a net score of +34.
While that score is relatively high and puts Indonesia somewhat within reach of the top spot (India, net score of +64), it's a pretty huge plunge from our net score of +67 last year, which made us the most optimistic in the world then (and among the happiest too).
What caused the drop? Well, it may be that 2018, a year in which we saw numerous deadly natural disasters and terrorist attacks in Indonesia, has kept our expectations in check. It may also be that Indonesians are expecting more rifts among ourselves considering 2019 is an election year.
But if we're a glass-half-full kind of people (as the survey suggests), we can at least be thankful that we're not among the most pessimistic in the world an unenviable list topped by Jordan (net score -48) and rounded out by Hong Kong (-25) in the top five.
For the survey, over 49,000 people from 51 countries and regions were quizzed between October and December for their views on the coming year. The results for Indonesia were based on a sample size of 1,040 people who responded to an online survey.
Depok The police have detained 13 members of a mass organization in Banten on Wednesday who allegedly assaulted a member of the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) in Depok, West Java. The police also questioned five eyewitnesses.
"We have detained 13 of them. There are a total of 18 people we have questioned," said Depok Police spokesman Adj. Comr. Firdaus on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co.
The alleged assault on Second Insp. Ishak happened on Jl. Juanda Raya on Tuesday at around 5 p.m.
Firdaus said the incident was triggered when members of a mass organization called Badan Pembinaan Potensi Keluarga Besar (BPPKB) Banten asked donations for the victims of the Banten tsunami on Jl. Juanda Raya, which caused traffic congestion.
"Because Ishak saw that the road was clogged, he requested them not to stop vehicles and ask for donations," Firdaus said. "The suspects then ganged up on the victim who told them that he is a Brimob member."
Ishak suffered bruises on his right cheek. (Sau)
Jakarta Petitions on environmental issues dominated Indonesia's digital movements in 2018 with the number of people signing them having increased by 17 times compared to last year, according to online petition platform change.org.
Indonesia's change.org director, Arief Aziz, said this year was different from the previous two years, which were dominated by human rights and tolerance issues.
"It was significant compared to last year. There were 118,000 people voicing environmental concerns in 2017. In 2018, the number rose 17 times to more than 2.1 million people," he said in a statement.
There were also some petitions that achieved "victory" in real life, such as a petition to punish forest-burning companies, a petition supporting two expert witnesses in a court trial, a petition to ban using birds-of-paradise as accessories or souvenirs and a petition against the transfer of whale sharks from Berau to Ancol.
"The most popular petition is the one demanding an Indonesian Forest Day. Although it hasn't won yet, it is supported by 413,000 signatures," he said.
Meanwhile, animal protection petitions are the second most popular this year with 1.9 million votes, following with 794,000 signatures on anticorruption petitions, 701,000 on violence against women, 598,000 on democracy and 580,000 on tolerance.
Change.org also recorded a rapid increase in the number of users in 2018. In 2018, the number increased to 6.5 million, compared to 2.5 million in 2017.
The number of users who succeeded in making or changing policies also increased to almost 2 million in 2018. This figure has quadrupled from 2017, which means that one in three users enjoyed victory in 2018.
Arief said Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya was one of the most responsive policy makers since she responded 12 times through change.org.
"The more people give their voices, the more policy makers listen and make policies in line with the public interest," Arief said. (ggq)
Theresia Sufa, Bogor, West Java Indramayu has become among the few regencies to adopt environmental education curriculum in schools.
The adoption of the curriculum, which is currently focused on mangrove conservation and natural disaster mitigation, is aimed at raising awareness about the importance of mangrove ecosystems in coastal areas.
Hendra Gunawan, principal researcher at the Innovation, Research and Development Center at the Environment and Forestry Ministry's office in Gunung Batu, Bogor, said the government had distributed school textbooks on mangrove conservation in September 2017. The books were specially designed for fourth, fifth and sixth graders, he added.
The government distributed student worksheets and teacher guidelines in September this year to complete the textbooks, Hendra said. Environmental education had become part of the curriculum in several areas, including Indramayu, he went on.
Hendra said books for fourth graders introduced biodiversity, while for fifth graders, the books talked mainly about how they could identify flora and fauna in the mangrove ecosystem.
Meanwhile in textbooks for sixth graders, students can learn about the causes of mangrove ecosystem damage and various measures that can be employed to conserve mangroves and mitigate natural disasters in coastal areas, said Hendra, who is also a Bogor Agricultural University lecturer.
Supported by teachers, researchers and staff members from the Indramayu Education Agency and the Plant Conservation Center at the Bogor Botanical Gardens, Hendra helped compose the textbooks for Indramayu students.
The books are also part of the Indramayu administration's efforts to develop the Karangsong Mangrove Center. (ebf)
Jakarta Banten Police have charged three people connected to Drajat Prawiranegara Hospital in Serang, Banten, for allegedly charging illegal levies for delivering the bodies of Sunda Strait tsunami victims to their families.
One of the suspects, identified as F, is a staff member of the hospital's forensic department. The other two identified as I and B are employees of CV Nauval Zaidan, a company that provided ambulance services for the hospital.
Banten Police special crimes directorate officer Sr. Comr. Dadang Herli Saputra said Drajat Prawiranegara Hospital had handled the bodies of 34 victims of the Sunda Strait tsunami since Dec. 23. At least 11 of them were delivered to their families using ambulances provided by CV Nauval Zaidan.
"The suspects [allegedly] charged six of the families when handing over the bodies, while five others were transported for free," Dadang said, as quoted by kompas.com.
The officer added each family received unofficial proof of the transaction of the illegal levy, although he did not specify the amount of money paid. Investigators seized the proofs of transaction and cash amounting to Rp 15 million (US$1,029).
The police charged the suspects with violating the 2001 Corruption Law, which carries a maximum punishment of 20 years' imprisonment and Rp 1 billion in fines. A 3-meter tsunami hit Banten and Lampung on the night of Dec. 22 as a result of an abnormal tidal surge caused by a full moon and an underwater landslide triggered by the eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano. As of Saturday, authorities reported that at least 431 people had been killed and 7,200 injured during the disaster. (kuk/ebf)
Rob McBride, Banten, Indonesia Ahmad Hidayat's smile seemed strangely incongruous given the mess that lay around him.
I have seen that smile before in Indonesia a natural response, no matter the situation, maybe out of innate shyness or deference when talking to a stranger. And here, standing beside the dripping pile of clothes, home appliances, children's books and toys, Ahmad grinned broadly.
Helped by his wife and his uncle, he was busy dragging out the waterlogged contents of his home to see what could be salvaged.
The building was swamped on the night of December 22, when tsunami waves believed to have been triggered by an erupting volcano surged over the thin strip of beach that separated Ahmad's home in the village of Sambolo from the sea.
At least Ahmad's roof was intact, giving him the chance to dry out some of his goods. His neighbours' homes were missing roofs altogether, so their possessions were likely to stay wet until the end of the rainy season, still many weeks away.
Behind Ahmad's smile was the pain of knowing just how vulnerable people were here, with the monster of Anak Krakatoa volcano rumbling just over the horizon.
"This is my home. I have no other place to go," he said with a shrug. "But if I had money I'd buy somewhere safer to live."
For many people living along the Sunda Strait, which separates the islands of Java and Sumatra, the sea is their only livelihood.
From the fishermen to the family-owned resorts and restaurants that dotted the shoreline, people have no choice but to resume their previous ways of life.
"There was no warning at all," said Babay Halimatusadiah, the owner of a small food stall. "It happened suddenly."
She was standing beside her husband in the little food stall they own, set back about 100 metres from the beach in Carita district. On the day the tsunami hit, they were serving evening diners at the same spot.
Two days after the disaster, they were already back in business. The couple, however, said they would be a lot happier with a better early warning system.
"I hope the government can use newer technology," Halimatusadiah's husband Hasbialoh Asnawi told Al Jazeera. "Because we're afraid there's going to be worse in future."
The lack of a tsunami warning has sparked a fierce debate in Indonesia about the country's preparedness for such disasters, given how prone the sprawling archipelago is to earthquakes and destructive waves.
Much of the current warning system was put in place after the so-called Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 a far more devastating event that struck more than a dozen countries along the shores of the Indian Ocean. It claimed an estimated 200,000 lives in Indonesia alone.
Coincidentally, the 14th anniversary of the 2004 tsunami fell on Wednesday, as the clean up from the latest disaster continued.
On both occasions, the full force a tsunami can unleash could be seen in the damage done to the bigger, more solidly built homes and blocks in holiday resorts.
This time too, whole walls were swept away, exposing the rooms, furniture and toilet fixtures inside. And then, as now, it is the poorer, more vulnerable communities who bore the brunt.
Stretches of coastline now stripped clean of any signs of life were once thriving communities of simple huts made from bamboo, thatch and metal sheeting.
The piles of debris swept back 100-200 metres inland were the only reminders of the people who have been killed, injured and displaced.
In the town of Labuan, a couple of kilometres inland, thousands of homeless people were waiting to see when and how they can return home. The area is only a few metres above the sea level, but it was enough to offer a level of security for people who have experienced what the sea is capable of.
In one of the temporary camps that have sprung up, Watinah the wife of a fisherman who now has no way to support herself and her three children was watching the monotonous rain outside.
"I don't know how long we are going to stay here," she said. "We haven't been back to see the condition of our home because we're still afraid."
Just at that moment, more bad news arrived. Al Jazeera producer Syarina's device began beeping. The alert level on Anak Krakatoa had just been raised to Level 3, one below the maximum 4.
The people have reason to fear. the Anak Krakatoa still rumbles ominously.
A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil, Jakarta Efforts to reduce plastic waste, a material blamed for polluting the country and global oceans, have never received zealous support from either the government or public.
Only a few environmentally conscious people have launched their own movements to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced.
However, the discovery of 5.9 kilograms of plastic waste inside the stomach of a sperm whale washed ashore in Wakatobi, Southeast Sulawesi, in November, seems to have served as a wake-up call to the government and regional administrations to start a move against plastic, starting with single-use plastic bags that are freely given away at modern and traditional retailers and even restaurants.
Cities such as Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan, Balikpapan in East Kalimantan and Badung in Bali have banned the use of plastic bags at retailers to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced.
With 2018 coming to an end, cities in Greater Jakarta are also joining the bandwagon. The Jakarta administration is drafting a gubernatorial decree to ban and limit single-use plastic bags in the city, starting with traditional markets and retailers across the capital.
According to Jakarta Environment Agency head Isnawa Adji, the decree will set up a six-month transition period for markets managed by Pasar Jaya and retail stores to inform their customers that they would no longer provide single-use plastics bags, with the total ban to be implemented by the middle of 2019.
Based on data from the agency, the city produced around 7,200 tons of waste daily, with 1 percent of the waste made up of single-use plastic bags.
Meanwhile, according to city-owned PD Pasar Jaya, 153 traditional markets in the city housing 100,000 vendors produced 600 tons of waste daily, 30 to 40 percent of which was plastic waste.
Indonesia Plastic Bags Diet movement records show that Jakarta used up to 300 million sheets of single-use plastics in a year, adding to the 357,000 tons of plastic waste generated by the city each year.
The city actually has Bylaw No. 3/2013 on waste management, Article 129 of which stipulates a hefty fine of between Rp 5 million (US$343) and Rp 25 million to vendors who provide plastic bags. However, enforcement is rare, if not unheard of.
Back in 2016, Jakarta charged customers Rp 200 per plastic bag when shopping at modern retailers as stipulated in a decree by the Environment and Forestry Ministry that required 27 cities to do so.
However, despite a 55 percent nationwide reduction of plastic bag use during the three month trial period, then-governor Basuki Tjahaja "Ahok" Purnama scrapped the policy following protests from retailers.
The satellite city of Bekasi also followed the path of cities banning single-use plastics, with the issuance of Bekasi Mayoral Regulation No. 61/2018 in October.
However, the regulation, expected to be implemented in January 2019, will likely serve as a cosmetic policy as it only encourages retailers to convert single-use plastic bags to biodegradable ones, without any sanction on those who violate the regulation.
Bekasi Environment Agency secretary Kustantinah said biodegradable bags were believed to be the solution to the piles of waste in landfills because of their shorter decomposition period compared to plastics.
While Jakarta and Bekasi are taking baby steps toward banning single-use plastics, the neighboring city of Bogor, West Java, has implemented the ban starting December this year.
The ban was enforced after a trial period following the issuance of Mayoral Decree No. 61/2018 in July to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags and encourage the use of reusable shopping bags.
Despite the urgency on banning plastic bags, the cities of Depok in West Java, as well as Tangerang, South Tangerang and Tangerang regency in Banten have yet to introduce a similar regulation on banning single use plastics.
The central government has also stepped in to reduce single-use plastics by drafting a government regulation on a single-use plastic bag excise before year-end, which is expected to be implemented in 2019.
The excise, which is expected to deter people from using single-use plastic bags nationwide, is expected to be imposed on single-use plastics with a thickness of less than 75 microns.
The government expects that Rp 500 billion out of the Rp 165.5 trillion overall excise revenue next year will come from plastics.
Meanwhile, businesses appear to be reluctant to join the war against plastic. Indonesian Olefin, Aromatic and Plastic Industry Association said the main problem of plastic waste was its management, not its use, and slapping excises on plastics would not tackle the problem.
Association of Indonesian Retailers (Aprindo), responding to Jakarta's plan to ban single-use plastics, said although retailers would have no choice but to follow the regulation, while citing reduced business costs, reducing the use of plastic bags would be better instead of banning them.
Aprindo head Roy Nicholas Mandey said 35,000 retailers were using biodegradable plastic bags, in accordance with Article 3 of Presidential Regulation No. 97/2017 on national policy and strategy to reduce domestic waste that stipulates reducing plastic use instead of banning it.
The plans to ban single-use plastic bags, although noble to reduce plastic waste, was largely aimed at customers instead of businesses producing and using large amounts of plastic in the first place, so its impact is still in question.
Time will tell how effective banning single-use plastic bags is before steps are made to reduce the use of plastic at its very source.
Devina Heriyanto and Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta At least 4,231 people died or were declared missing during natural disasters across the archipelago this year, making it the deadliest year in little over a decade, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).
The string of disasters that hit Indonesia in 2018 began in January when an earthquake shook Jakarta on Jan. 23, with the epicenter located in Lebak, Banten. The quake struck in the afternoon when the city dwellers were at work and school. Panic ensued. People fled from their buildings and severe traffic jams followed.
The BNPB has recorded 2,426 natural disasters since, including a 7.4-magnitude earthquake that rattled Central Sulawesi in September and a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that jolted Lombok and Bali islands in July.
The actual number of disasters this year was lower than the 2,862 in 2017, but the casualties were higher than the 378 in 2017 and the 578 in 2016, when there were 2,306 disasters.
"This year is a disastrous year for Indonesia. At 4,231, it is the largest death toll that we've seen since 2007," BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in Jakarta recently.
Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) chairwoman Dwikorita Karnawati said the nation lacked programs to raise disaster awareness, despite the country sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire, making it prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows that from Jan. 1 to Dec. 24, the country experienced 221 earthquakes measuring more than magnitude 5. The number of earthquakes measuring more than magnitude 2.5 was 1,807 in the same period.
BNPB head Willem Rampangilei said hydrometeorological hazards accounted for 97 percent of disasters, with tropical cyclones and floods the most common. However, geological hazards such as earthquakes, tsunami and soil liquefaction claimed the most casualties. These hazards accounted for only 3 percent of the total 2,426 disasters recorded until mid-December, but they claimed 3,969 lives.
The figures do not include casualties from the recent Sunda Strait tsunami, which was triggered by Anak Krakatau's volcanic eruption and underwater landslide, which hit Banten and Lampung on Dec. 22. The latest death toll was 430, with dozens still missing.
Earthquakes in Central Sulawesi and Lombok caused the most deaths. On Aug. 6, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB). A popular tourist destination, the disaster took a toll on the island's economy. Residential housing was worst hit. In North Lombok regency, which experienced the worst damage because of its proximity to the quake's epicenter, nearly 75 percent of homes were destroyed. Many houses collapsed because they were not quake-proof, burying people under the wreckage.
In Palu, a tremor-triggered tsunami killed the most people. On Sept. 28, hundreds of people had gathered near the sea for the Palu Nomoni Festival, an annual cultural event.
Tsunami expert Abdul Muhari said Indonesia lagged behind other countries in building and maintaining a tsunami early warning system. He added that in Japan, which also deals with frequent earthquakes and tsunamis, one to five seismographs were placed in each subdistrict, with the addition of tsunami detector buoys in its waters.
After the Palu tsunami, Sutopo revealed that real-time tsunami detection equipment in Indonesia was almost nonexistent.
"No tsunami detection buoys are in operation in our country right now, which are necessary to detect such waves early. Most of them are broken because of vandalism," he said.
The same concern resurfaced after the Sunda Strait tsunami. After the news of a tsunami broke, debate over whether it was a tsunami or a tidal wave dominated social media.
The BMKG initially announced there had been a tidal wave in the Sunda Strait, refuting claims of a tsunami. Only hours later did the agency confirm that a tsunami had taken place and that it was likely to have been caused by the combination of a high tidal wave from the full moon and an underwater landslide.
The BMKG also said in its statement that seismometers around the Anak Krakatau volcano had been damaged by an eruption. Anak Krakatau has been active since June.
Sutopo said there was no warning of the Sunda Strait tsunami because it was not caused by a tectonic earthquake, saying that Indonesia is not equipped with an early warning system for volcanic tremor-triggered tsunami.
The series of natural disasters is a sobering reality for Indonesia, which is keen to promote its tourist attractions to boost its economy. Previously, Lombok and Bali suffered from significant losses after multiple earthquakes and Mount Agung eruptions between 2017 and 2018.
The Sunda Strait tsunami also struck the coasts of Banten and Lampung, which are popular tourist destinations during the holiday season.
Previously, the Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center had cautioned tourism management groups and local administrations about the increasing activity of 20 volcanoes across the country. Anak Krakatau is under 24-hour observation, along with Mount Sinabung and Mount Siputan, both in North Sumatra.
Central authorities have forecast that hydrometeorological hazards would remain the most likely natural disasters to happen next year.
"The peak of the rainy season is to happen in January next year," Willem said. "There may be no strong El Nino and La Nina for next year, so the rainy and dry seasons would be pretty much normal."
With the legislative and presidential elections slated for April, Willem said the disaster mitigation agency was prepared to minimize the impact of any natural events, particularly during key dates.
"Next year will be a very busy year for us all while natural disasters would also continue to occur in many places across Indonesia. This might affect important events, but we are prepared to anticipate them," he said.
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta Just four days after the Sunda Strait tsunami devastated homes in Serang, Banten, floodwater engulfed two villages in the regency on Wednesday, inundating about 200 homes and displacing 1,818 people.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) attributed the 1-meter-deep floodwater to the Cikalumpang River, which overflowed as a result of heavy rain.
"No fatalities have been recorded. Personnel from the agency's Serang office along with the TNI [Indonesian Military] and National Police are relocating residents and providing necessities," BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a release.
Sutopo said Serang was among regencies in the province prone to natural disasters, including floods, drought and earthquake. "Any development [in Serang] should take into account the disaster hazard map during the spatial planning," he said.
Authorities and volunteers continued their search for missing people on Wednesday, with at least 154 people thought to have been swept away by the tsunami, which was triggered by the eruption of Mount Anak Krakatau. The tsunami struck coastal areas of Lampung and Banten on Saturday evening, killing at least 430 and injuring more than 1,400 people.
"We have also started cleaning the area of tsunami debris," Sutopo said. (dmr)
Ian Pannell, Banten, Indonesia "God gave to us, he took away, but he will give to us again."
It's hard not to admire the optimism of Susi, a woman I spoke to as she sifted through what was left of her belongings, weaving her way between the punctured remains of her family home in Tanjung Lesung, Indonesia. Her home sits on the beachfront one of many areas subsumed by the tsunami that swept over this coastline on the night of Dec. 22.
Yet Susi did not lament her losses. Instead she was grateful that her house is, miraculously, still standing. Like the cautionary tale of "The Three Little Pigs," her house of brick is the only structure remaining in a neighborhood where straw and wood were the default building blocks of houses largely constructed by the poor.
In front of her relatively grand, two-story house is a wasteland of debris: rocks, coral, dead fish, rotting animals, coconuts, wood and straw. None of the houses of her 10 or so neighbors survived.
The backing soundtrack for this devastation is the ever rumbling, grumbling and erupting volcano of Anak Krakatau. The so-called "Child of Krakatoa" is all that was left of the immense Krakatoa volcano after it exploded in the late 19th century, killing more than 30,000 people.
Its illegitimate offspring emerged from the water between Java and Sumatra in the early 20th century and has been growing ever since. It has been erupting since June and scientists believe a chunk of the volcano sheered off and triggered this latest tsunami.
Most tsunamis are started by an earthquake, which often gives people living in lowland coastal areas some warning. But an underwater landslide like this gives no indication of what is to come. A little over 20 minutes after it happened the tsunami swept over an entirely unsuspecting and ill-prepared coastline.
Mobile phone footage at a concert by Indonesian pop band Seventeen captured the moment the wave crashed onto stage. Two members of the band, its manager and a member of the crew were killed. The lead singer's wife is still missing.
All along the shoreline, people were forced to run for their lives with no warning. Today, it is littered with debris and the carcasses of lives and homes destroyed. Hundreds of rescue workers have poured into the area in a massive rescue operation. But as more days pass, this becomes more of a recovery mission.
More than 400 people are confirmed dead, 1,400 injured and over 150 have been reported missing more than two days after the wave came crashing ashore.
The threat still remains, as officials have warned residents and tourists to stay as far away from coastal areas as possible because of continued volcanic eruptions from Anak Krakatau, which could potentially trigger a second devastating tsunami.
Indonesian officials have said that the tsunami early warning system did not work and has been out of action since 2012. They also revealed that only 70 of 170 such systems installed in the waters around Indonesia's many islands are operable because of a lack of money for maintenance and vandalism.
That means Susi and thousands of the country's residents still have little or no protection against another tsunami sweeping to shore in the future.
Jamie Fullerton, Banten The Indonesia authorities have warned that the tsunami-ravaged coast of western Java could be hit by further dangerous waves as volcanic activity continued in the area.
Indonesia's meteorology, climatology, and geophysical agency said that a new tsunami could arrive soon in the area around the Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait. A 2km exclusion zone has been set up around the volcano.
Saturday's tsunami was caused by land shifting on Anak Krakatau, which was still spewing ash on Tuesday as heavy rain fell in the area.
Dwikorita Karnawati, head of the agency, said: "All these conditions could potentially cause landslides at the cliffs of the crater into the sea, and we fear that that could trigger a tsunami."
She added that the authorities hoped to be able to inform the public about unusual activity related to the volcano, unlike ahead of Saturday night's tsunami.
"We have developed a monitoring system focused specifically on the volcanic tremors at Anak Krakatau so that we can issue early warnings," she said.
Beaches were largely empty in the hard-hit area of Carita on Wednesday, and police patrolled the area on motorbikes warning people to stay away from the coast. Some people defied the order, returning to what was left of their homes to begin cleaning up as heavy rain fell and waves pounded the shore.
The number of dead has now reached 430. The figure may rise significantly with 159 people still reported as missing on Wednesday. Almost 1,500 people were reported injured, with 21,991 displaced from their home.
Saturday's tsunami struck at around 9.30pm with almost no warning. Nearby buoy detection systems have not been operational since 2012.
On Tuesday the public was told to stay at least 500m from the Sunda Strait coastline, which runs along the west coast of the island of Java and the south coast of Sumatra.
Authorities announced that a tsunami detection system for undersea landslides was being developed for the longer term. The government technology agency told the BBC that it would detect the sizes of waves. Existing tsunami detection systems in Indonesia can detect earthquakes but not landslides beneath sea level, such as the one that occurred on Anak Krakatau.
Rescue efforts continued on Wednesday in the affected areas, with many refugee camps set up to house the thousands of people whose homes were destroyed.
Amilia Rosa & Niniek Karmini, Sumur, Indonesia Panicked residents, police and soldiers in this remote fishing village hit by a devastating weekend tsunami ran to higher ground late on Tuesday, shouting "Water is coming! Water is coming!" and reciting verses from the Koran as emergency messages were broadcast over mosque speakers.
It was a false alarm.
Authorities confirmed late on Wednesday that the tsunami's death toll had risen by one to 430 people, with 1495 injured.
Their "number one" fear was a follow-up landslide and wave coming from the unstable slopes of offshore volcano Anak Krakatoa.
There are 159 people still missing after the "silent tsunami" that hit the west coast of Java on Saturday night, and 21,000 people remain in evacuation camps.
Rahmat Triyono, the chief of earthquake and tsunami from Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency, said that they believed a crater collapse from Anak Krakatoa, a volcano island in the Sunda Strait, had displaced about 64 hectares of the mountain and caused the equivalent of an earthquake of a magnitude of between 3.4 and 5.
But unlike a wave caused by an earthquake, the land slip gave people on the nearby mainland no warning of what might be coming.
The agency would start monitoring even small earth movements from now on, Rahmat said, and issue warnings if something similar happened again. "It's better for us to issue a warning and no tsunami... than no warning at all."
The head of his agency, Dwikorita Karnawati, warned people to stay 500 metres to one kilometre from the coast.
"On Wednesday morning until late in the afternoon, medium to heavy rainfall is predicted," she said. "The crater and slopes are already shaken with the tremors, and if you add heavy rain, the slopes and crater that may already be vulnerable (brittle) might cause a landslide."
Ten years ago today the Boxing Day tsunami hit Aceh, in the far north-west of Sumatra, killing 167,799 people. That was caused by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off the northern.
The disaster also caused deaths in a dozen other nations around the Indian Ocean, killing around 230,000 people in total.
Christmas celebrations in Java this year were replaced by sombre prayers, as church leaders called on Christians across Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, to pray for tsunami victims.
People in Sumur village, which has been slow to receive aid due to roads being cut off, remained stunned by how quickly the tsunami hit. The beach, located just a few kilometres from the tourist island of Umang near Java's western tip, is popular for snorkelling and other water activities. The tsunami decimated the area, ripping houses from their foundations and bulldozing concrete buildings.
Scientists have said the tsunami's waves were recorded in several places at about a metre high, but residents of Sumur insisted they towered more than three metres. They said a soaring white wall of water roared toward them at high speeds, ripping trees out of the ground by their roots.
"There was no sign of a tsunami when we were at the beach. The sea didn't recede," said Tati Hayati, a housewife, who was enjoying a pleasant evening with 10 other people when the disaster hit. "It was calm and bright with the full moon."
When she spotted high, fast-moving waves launching toward the shore, she ran to her car and managed to get inside. But she could not outrun it. She said the car was struck by three waves, breaking out the back window and filling the vehicle with gushing water.
"We were locked inside. The car was swaying in the waves and we thought we would all die," Hayati said. "We almost could not breathe and I almost gave up when I groped the key in the water and managed to open the door, and the water began to recede. We got out of the car and ran to safety."
The disaster was compounded because it occurred over a busy holiday weekend before Christmas when many people had fled crowded cities such as Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, to relax at popular beach areas.
Pastor Markus Taekz said on Tuesday that his Rahmat Pentecostal Church in the hard-hit area of Carita did not celebrate Christmas with joyous songs this year. Instead, only about 100 people showed up for the service, which usually brings in double that number. Many congregation members had already left the area for locations away from the disaster zone.
"This is an unusual situation because we have a very bad disaster that killed hundreds of our sisters and brothers in Banten," Taekz said, referring to the province on Java island. "So our celebration is full of grief."
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency, said there was an urgent need for heavy equipment in the Sumur subdistrict near Ujung Kulon National Park to help get aid flowing and reach people who may be injured or trapped.
Military troops, government personnel and volunteers continued searching along debris-strewn beaches. Yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out where victims were found, and weeping relatives identified the dead. Many searched for missing loved ones at hospital morgues.
The lead singer of the Indonesian pop band Seventeen located the body of his dead wife after posting emotional posts on social media, vowing that he would not leave her. The group was performing at a beach hotel when the tsunami was captured on video smashing into their stage, killing several band members and crew.
Anak Krakatau is a volcanic island that formed in the early part of the 20th century near the site of the cataclysmic 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, which killed more than 30,000 people and hurled so much ash that it turned day to night in the area and reduced global temperatures.
Jamie Fullerton, Banten Solihat and her three friends had everything sorted for their perfect selfie, ready to be taken by the beach in Indonesia's Banten province.
Their hijabs were striking: one pink, one green. One of the gang was ready with a 'V' finger peace sign. And most importantly, in the background was a scene of utter carnage: a flooded field scattered with cars and farm equipment smashed up by the tsunami that devastated the province's coast on Saturday night, killing almost 500 people.
The field, full of floating detritus and overlooking the choppy waves of the Sunda Strait, is now a graveyard for farm vehicles previously stored in a huge barn, that were swept away by the deadly waves.
Since then it has been visited by a stream of Indonesian selfie-seekers, many travelling for hours to share online photos of themselves at the site of the tsunami, which was caused by land shifting on the nearby volcano Anak Krakatoa.
Solihat, 40, said she had travelled two hours to the site from the city of Cilegon. She and her friends from a Cilegon women's Islamic group took clothing donations for people displaced by the tsunami. "The photo is on Facebook as proof that we are really here and gave the aid," she said.
She added that despite many people viewing selfies as shallow, her unusual choice of photo background showed depth. "When people see photos of destruction they realise that they're in a better place. Pictures of destruction will get more likes. Maybe it's because it reminds people to be grateful."
Since Saturday's disaster, many dead bodies have been washed up on the same short stretch of beach and road that the selfie spot field is located on. With 154 people in the wider tsunami zone still unaccounted for, many search and rescue vehicles tasked with grim duties drove past the selfie takers yesterday. When asked if it was appropriate to be taking selfies in front of a body of water that could be hiding undiscovered corpses, Solihat said: "It depends on your intention. If you take selfies for showing off, then don't do it. But if you do it to share grief with other people, it's OK."
Not many of the selfie-takers crowding the field yesterday struck poses suggesting that they were attempting to share grief. One woman in army-style camouflage clothes spent half an hour wading around the middle of the field in knee-length water, seemingly to get closer to the crumpled SUV at the centre of the field, to better take a selfie with it.
The owner of the car, Bahrudin, 40, head of the local farmers' union, was not impressed with the photo tourists. Standing in the water in a pair of yellow wellington boots, he repeatedly said the word "Disappointed" when asked what he thought of the field's new social media fame.
Valentina Anastasia, 18, from central Java, was not disappointed with her decision to leave Jakarta where she was on holiday and make the three-hour car journey to Banten. "I want to see the destruction and the people affected," she said.
When asked how many selfies she had taken in the area she laughed heartily. "A lot! For social media, WhatsApp groups...". She scrolled through a cascade of selfies on her phone, revealing many with a mutilated, partly-submerged yellow digger vehicle in the background.
Jakarta Bali has taken a big step to curb pollution in its seas, enacting a ban on troublesome single-use plastics like shopping bags, styrofoam and straws.
Bali Governor Wayan Koster announced the ban on Monday, as stipulated in Gubernatorial Regulation (Pergub) No. 97/2018, expressing hope that the policy would lead to a 70 percent decline in Bali's marine plastics within a year.
The new policy carries a six-month grace period dating from Dec. 21, when it was signed and took effect.
"This policy is aimed at producers, distributors, suppliers and business actors, including individuals, to suppress the use of single-use plastics. They must substitute plastics with other materials," Koster said as quoted by tribunnews.
He added that administrative sanctions would be imposed on those who did not comply with the ban. "If they disobey, we will take action, like not extending their business permit," Koster said.
It has been difficult to trace the origins of the trash on Bali's beaches, but experts estimate that up to 80 percent comes from the island.
The trash that informal workers collect from hotels and villages is often dumped in rivers, which then carry the waste out to sea. The trash eventually finds its way back to the resort island's beaches on coastal tides and currents.
Jakarta plans to follow Bali's example by drafting a similar gubernatorial regulation that bans single-use plastic bags.
Jakarta Environmental Agency head Isnawa Adji said that Jakartans had already agreed to reduce plastic waste. According to a survey by the Indonesia Plastic Bags Diet Movement, more than 90 percent of Jakarta's residents agreed to reduce their use of plastics.
Isnawa said that one effort to reduce single-use plastics was to limit drinking straws at restaurants, with other establishments to follow suit.
He said the agency would ask for input from stakeholders and residents in the months prior to enacting the ban.
The Finance Ministry's customs and excise directorate general is also mulling over a plan to excise plastic bags next year to reduce their use. (ggq)
Basten Gokkon, Jakarta Four months after activists in Bali celebrated what they believed was the end of a controversial plan to develop part of the island's mangrove-rich Benoa Bay, the scheme has been revived by the Indonesian government.
In August, PT Tirta Wahana Bali Internasional (TWBI), a property development unit of Indonesian tycoon Tomy Winata's Artha Graha conglomerate, lost its permit for an ambitious commercial and tourism development in Benoa Bay, an area that serves as a key source of livelihood for thousands of local fishermen. The permit granted the company control of an area spanning 700 hectares (1,730 acres), where it planned to build artificial islands for a multibillion-dollar complex featuring hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and a convention center.
That particular type of permit is automatically annulled if it isn't renewed after four years. And that's what happened to PT TWBI, which failed to receive government approval for a renewal. That stemmed from the environment ministry not approving the developer's environmental impact assessment, known locally as an AMDAL, for its project plans.
An AMDAL is required for any project with the potential to cause disruption, from environmental degradation to posing a national security risk. The lengthy permitting process for development projects in Indonesia is also meant to give the general public a chance to weigh in.
Opponents of the development plan in Benoa Bay celebrated the expiration of the permit as they believed it meant the project would not continue. However, the developer, previously stonewalled by the government, has now received a reprieve from the authorities.
On Nov. 29, however, the maritime ministry issued PT TWBI a new concession permit, valid for two years, for development in the bay. The permit, known in Indonesian as izin lokasi, or "location permit," crucially doesn't allow the developer to carry out any land reclamation activities, according to the ministry.
"For them to do reclamation activities, the company will have to obtain an environmental impact assessment and a permit for the implementation of reclamation," Brahmantya Satyamurti Poerwadi, the ministry's director general for marine spatial planning, told Mongabay by phone on Dec. 20.
Brahmantya said the developer had met all the requirements to obtain the location permit, including paying 13 billion rupiah (nearly $900,000) in non-tax revenue.
Brahmantya also said the project was still in the administrative process, meaning no development activities are allowed yet, including sand mining or digging.
"As long as the permit for reclamation has not been issued, then reclamation [activities] can never happen," he said. "That's why we all need to monitor this closely."
The next step for PT TWBI is to try once again to obtain approval for its AMDAL from the environment ministry before getting a permit for reclamation from the maritime ministry, Brahmantya said.
This new development has prompted criticism from environmental activists, who say the Benoa Bay reclamation project, valued at 30 trillion rupiah ($2 billion), would clear much of the bay's rich mangrove ecosystem that feeds the local fishing community.
"It's unfortunate that a [new] izin lokasi for the reclamation of Benoa Bay has been issued by the maritime ministry when it's clear that the people of Bali have consistently rejected the plan for five years," Nur Hidayati, executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said in a statement.
Thousands of Indonesians, from local fishermen and environmental activists to artists and rock musicians, have staged a series of protests and demonstrations in an attempt to shut down the reclamation project.
Opposition to the project has also come from Bali's government and provincial legislature. The island's then-governor-elect, I Wayan Koster, and the legislative speaker, I Nyoman Adi Wiryatama, joined a protest on Aug. 24 against the plan and any development threatening the bay's ecosystem.
The development plan has also received little support from other provincial governments. In April 2015, the governor of East Java, the closest province to Bali, rejected a proposal to dredge sea sand off the coast for use in the project. Before that, the governor of another neighboring province, West Nusa Tenggara, shot down a similar proposal, citing ecological concerns.
In response to criticism of her decision to issue the permit, Susi Pudjiastuti, the maritime minister, said her office had no legal basis to decline the developer's request because Benoa Bay was classified as a public zone, where a range of activities is permitted, including development of fisheries, tourism and residential projects.
If she had rejected the proposal, Susi said, the developer could have pressed its case in court. "I'm only doing what is stipulated in the regulations," she said at a press conference on Dec. 21. "The issuance of this permit does not mean that reclamation will necessarily happen."
Susi was referring to a 2014 presidential decree, signed by then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on zoning for the wider area covering Benoa Bay. The decree changes the bay's status from a conservation area to a public zone, and was seen at the time as clearing a path for future reclamation.
"We wouldn't have issued the permit if the area was a conservation zone, but in the decree, this is classified as a National Strategic Zone, where development can happen," Susi said.
Susi called on opponents of the reclamation plan to present their case to the environment ministry once it starts considering the company's new AMDAL proposal.
"Even if later the company obtains AMDAL [approval], I will make additional pre-requirements before issuing a permit for reclamation," Susi said.
The minister also called on advocacy groups to scrutinize the current drafting by provincial authorities of zoning plans for Bali's coastal areas and small islands, known as RZWP3K. According to Walhi's Bali chapter, the latest draft of the plan puts the bay back under conservation zone classification. But it still needs to pass the provincial legislature.
"We must continue guarding this RZWP3K document [through to passage] so that no stakeholder can shut down our initiative to classify Benoa Bay as a conservation zone," Made Juli Untung Pratama, director of Walhi Bali, said in a statement.
The Bali Forum Against Reclamation (ForBALI) says it expects Governor Koster to make good on his promise to shut down the reclamation project for good, regardless of what's stipulated in the 2014 presidential decree.
"We will demand Koster be held accountable, otherwise he truly was only piggybacking on the people's fight during his campaign for the gubernatorial election," said I Wayan Gendo Suardana, the ForBALI coordinator.
Michael Bachelard & Amilia Rosa Australia has offered to give assistance to Indonesia after a tsunami killed 429 people and counting, but the Indonesian authorities have said they would not be accepting any offers of assistance.
The confirmed death toll from the wave jumped again on Christmas day as more remote areas to the south were opened up for the first time since it hit on Saturday night.
Rescuers were using drones and sniffer dogs in the search for survivors along the devastated west coast of Java on Tuesday, and pushed into the Sumur area in the far south for the first time.
Even so, some smaller villages remain inaccessible, and more victims are expected to be uncovered as the search expands into areas cut off by damaged roads.
Australia yesterday offered to send aid, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirming on Christmas Day that Australia would help its neighbour if requested.
But asked if Indonesia would accept it, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency replied: "No".
The tsunami which hit both sides of the Sunda strait between Jakarta and Sumatra on Saturday night was most likely caused by an eruption and land-slip from island-volcano, Anak Krakatoa, or the "child of Krakatoa". This is a relatively young volcano that is growing out of the ruins of its "parent" which exploded with devastating consequences in 1883.
The meteorology agency said that an area of about 64 hectares, or 90 soccer pitches, of the volcanic island had collapsed into the sea.
Thick ash clouds continued to spew from the mountain, and authorities and experts have warned of further high waves and advised residents to stay away from the shoreline.
"Since Anak Krakatoa has been actively erupting for the past several months, additional tsunamis cannot be excluded," said Prof Hermann Fritz from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States.
In a statement late yesterday Australian time, Sutopo said at least 154 people remain missing and about 1000 were injured. More than 16,000 had been evacuated from their homes, thousands of them moving to higher ground, with a high-tide warning extended to Wednesday.
Rescuers used heavy machinery, sniffer dogs, and special cameras to detect and dig bodies out of mud and wreckage along a 100km stretch of Java's west coast and officials said the search area would be expanded further south.
"There are several locations that we previously thought were not affected," said Yusuf Latif, spokesman for the national search and rescue agency, "but now we are reaching more remote areas... and in fact there are many victims there". Indonesia's vast archipelago, which sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", has suffered its worst annual death toll from disasters in more than a decade.
Earthquakes flattened parts of the island of Lombok in July and August, and a double quake and tsunami killed more than 2000 people in Palu, on Sulawesi in September. The government also rejected international offers of help in Lombok, saying they had the resources to deal with the crisis themselves. However, authorities accepted assistance for the rescue effort in remote Palu.
In the latest disaster, it took just 24 minutes after the landslide for waves to hit land, and there was no early warning for those living on the coast.
The hardest hit areas include Carita and Tanjung Lesung, both popular tourist destinations, on the island of Java, and Lampung on the island of Sumatra.
Sutopo said on Monday night that officers were able to access remote areas with vehicles and heavy equipment. However, he added on Tuesday that not all areas are yet accessible, due to damaged roads. Navy ship Torani 680 was helping deliver personnel and logistics to the region via land and sea.
Sutopo called on the Indonesian government to spend the money on an early warning system that could detect volcano-triggered tsunamis. "There was no early warning system for the tsunami which caused a lot of victims because people didn't have a chance to evacuate." Loading
President Joko Widodo has now ordered that an early warning system that can detect volcanic eruptions and undersea landslides should be purchased.
With Reuters, AAP
Jamie Fullerton in Banten province, Indonesia Search efforts for the 154 people still missing in the disaster zone of the deadly tsunami that has killed at least 429 people continued on Tuesday, with some officials admitting privately that the chance of finding more survivors alive was slim.
At the Tanjung Lesung beach resort, where the pop band Seventeen was performing when the tsunami struck, resort director Kunto Wijoyo told the Guardian he spent Sunday morning helping to carry some of the 106 bodies of people who died at the holiday retreat.
"There were men, women and babies," he said, adding that he hoped authorities would consider building a dam in the area to prevent further similar disasters.
A grass lawn nearby was strewn with crumpled metal that had formed the band's stage, with half-destroyed musical instrument cases lying among the wreckage.
A policeman at the resort, large parts of which were obliterated by the waves, said rescue teams were legally obliged to keep searching for the missing people for seven days, beginning last Sunday morning.
Soldiers combed the coast, flying drones overhead as torrential rain contributed to tricky driving conditions for ambulances ferrying injured people to local hospitals.
Rescuers have also been searching Sumur, an area at the very southern part of where the tsunami hit.
Officials confirmed there were 1,485 people injured by the tsunami as well as 882 houses and 73 hotels and villas damaged. More than 430 boats were also damaged.
On Monday, Indonesian officials confirmed that the deadly tsunami was triggered by a chunk of the Anak Krakatau volcano slipping into the ocean.
The volcano had been spewing ash and lava for months before a 64-hectare (158-acre) section of its south-west side collapsed, an official said. "This caused an underwater landslide and eventually caused the tsunami," said Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of the meteorological agency.
The fact that the tsunami was triggered by a volcano rather than an earthquake meant no tsunami warning was triggered, scientists said. Coastal residents reported not seeing or feeling any warning signs before waves of up to three metres high surged in.
Indonesia's disaster agency initially said there was no tsunami threat at all, even as the killer wave crashed ashore. It was later forced to issue a correction and an apology as it pointed to a lack of early warning systems in explaining the high death toll.
Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Monday: "The lack of a tsunami early warning system caused a lot of victims because people did not have the time to evacuate."
With nearly 16,082 people displaced by the disaster, volunteer groups have been cooking meals for newly homeless locals taking refuge in shelters dotted along theaffected coast.
Humanitarian workers warned that clean water and medicine supplies were dwindling as thousands crammed makeshift evacuation centres.
"A lot of the children are sick with fevers, headaches and they haven't had enough water," said Rizal Alimin, a doctor working for NGO Aksi Cepat Tanggap, at a local school that was turned into a temporary shelter.
"We have less medicine than usual... It's not healthy here for evacuees. There isn't enough clean water. They need food and people are sleeping on the floor."
"I've been here three days," said Neng Sumarni, 40, who was sleeping with her three children and husband on the school's floor with some three dozen others. "I'm scared because my home is right near the beach."
Abu Salim, who works for the volunteer group Tagana, said aid workers were scrambling to stabilise the situation.
"Today we're focusing on helping the evacuees in shelters by setting up public kitchens and distributing logistics and more tents in suitable places," he said.
"[People] still don't have access to running water... There are many evacuees who fled to higher ground and we still can't reach them."
Jakarta The deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck Central Sulawesi at the end of September this year should have been ample reason for the government to take immediate action to improve the country's early warning system, but the devastating Sunda Strait tsunami over the weekend shows Indonesia still has a long way to go in this regard.
Thousands of people in Banten and Lampung were affected by Saturday night's tsunami, believed to have been caused by undersea landslides that followed an eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said on Monday morning that the death toll stood at 281, with more than a 1,000 people injured and 57 still missing. The huge waves also swept away cars and destroyed hundreds of homes, displacing nearly 12,000 people.
BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said Indonesia is in dire need of a new early warning system that would detect disasters more effectively.
"The BNPB is coordinating with related institutions to prepare a presidential regulation for a multi-hazard early warning system," Sutopo said, as quoted by Suara Pembaruan.
He added that the Sunda Strait tsunami should serve as momentum to incorporate new technology into the country's tsunami early warning system so it could also detect those triggered by undersea landslides or volcanic eruptions.
Saturday night's tsunami, which officials described as rare because it was not caused by an earthquake, was first thought to be an unusually high spring tide.
"There was no tsunami early warning on the evening of Dec. 22, 2018. The lack of equipment for an early warning system made the tsunami undetectable before it occurred. There were no signs of an impending tsunami, and the public was unable to evacuate in time," Sutopo said.
Indonesia's current system consists of tidal gauges, buoys and seismographic sensors. Despite Sutopo's assertion that the system had so far been successful at detecting quake-triggered tsunamis, none of the country's 22 open-water tsunami buoys have been operational since 2012 due to vandalism and poor maintenance.
In the wake of the Central Sulawesi quake and tsunami, Sutopo raised the importance of developing a network of seafloor sensors as part of the country's early warning system, and said the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) was capable of this task.
Not all disaster-prone areas in the archipelago are equipped with such systems, or even early warning sensors. This also applies to other types of disasters, such as landslides and floods.
Indonesia's geographic location on the so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines and volcanoes around the rim of the Pacific Ocean, makes it prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.
Several major earthquakes have rocked the archipelago so far this year, including a magnitude-7 that killed more than 550 people on Lombok Island in West Nusa Tenggara in August, and a magnitude-7.4 followed by a tsunami, which killed more than 2,000 people in Central Sulawesi in September.
Since 2004, the country has experienced several major earthquakes and tsunamis, some of which resulted in significant loss of life.
Insufficient funding is one of the biggest shortcomings when it comes to an early warning system and disaster mitigation efforts. Further evidence of this is the BNPB's disaster management budget, which, according to Sutopo, has been declining over the years.
Data provided by the Ministry of Finance shows that less than Rp 800 billion ($49 million) was allocated to the agency this year, compared with Rp 1.8 trillion in 2017.
But Indonesia's problems also extend to the fact that many of the sirens used to warn of incoming tsunamis are not functioning properly, having either been damaged or stolen.
The BMKG currently has only 56 sirens across the country, while an adequate number is 1,000. There are also limited evacuation areas and evacuation signs.
Simone Fox Koob More than 135 years since the island of Krakatoa was destroyed by an explosion which shrouded the world in ash, the Indonesian coastline has been devastated by a tsunami from the same source.
Authorities believe Saturday night's tsunami was caused by volcanic activity on Anak Krakatoa, the "child of Krakatoa", an island which has been growing for more than a century in the crater of the original volcano.
And as the death toll from the tsunami along the western coast of Java rises into the hundreds, experts believe the small island will continue to cause tsunami activity as it grows in size each year.
Associate Professor David Kennedy, a coastal geomorphologist from the University of Melbourne, says Saturday night's event was triggered by the volcano, not an earthquake.
"What actually happens for a tsunami to occur, you need to distribute or displace water. The best example is throwing a pebble into a pond. It's exactly the same with a tsunami," he says.
"What happened in this case is there was a volcanic eruption, an explosion underwater which caused the water to be displaced and created the wave. It may have also caused a landslide, they are not 100 per cent sure of the trigger. Either way it has shaken up the water."
Rahmat Riyono, Indonesia's head of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), said on Sunday another tsunami was possible.
"An earthquake is by far the most common trigger, there are a lot more fault lines than volcanoes," says Professor Kennedy. "However, a much rarer trigger for a tsunami is volcanic activity."
Anak Krakatoa is part of a group of small volcanic islands which were formed on the periphery of what was once the much larger island, Krakatoa.
On August 27 in 1883, successive eruptions on Krakatoa saw the island essentially "vapourised", leaving behind a deep crater and a layer of ash which spread across the world.
In a piece published by The Sydney Morning Herald in September, 1883, the correspondent described how "complete darkness" enveloped the surrounding areas as the island was "rent into pieces by the strength of the volcanic action, and has sunk into the sea".
"Where Mount Krakatoa stood the sea now plays," the journalist wrote.
It also caused tsunamis which swept through the region. The estimated death toll was 36,000.
"Krakatoa itself ranks as the biggest explosion humanity has witnessed in the recent past," says Professor Kennedy. "It caused major global wet weather changes for many years after, and they estimated temperatures dropped by a degree from the ash."
Anak Krakatoa is said to grow by 13cm each year and popped above the surface of the water in the 1920s. It is building into a new volcano, which has been recording more and more activity.
The growing island will "definitely" set off more tsunamis in the future, says Professor Kennedy.
"The last six months, the little island has been a bit more active, it's been rumbling away, unfortunately enough for it to cause a small eruption," says Professor Kennedy.
Indonesian officials said at the weekend the challenge would be to develop a warning system that recognises underwater landslides and volcanic eruptions. "The probability isn't high but it's definitely a possibility, another tsunami", Professor Kennedy says.
Harry Pearl, Carita, Banten Asep Sunaria heard a loud "whoosh" just seconds before a wall of water threw him off his motorbike, swallowing his house and the village he called home until Saturday night.
As rescuers hunted for survivors of the volcano-triggered tsunami that killed at least 281 people along Indonesia's coast, 42-year-old Sunaria was trying to come to grips with a disaster that struck without warning.
"The water came from over there with a sound like the wind 'whoosh'," he recounted to AFP. "I was shocked. I didn't expect it at all there was no warning... At first I thought it was just a tidal wave but the water rose so high."
He and his family sprinted from Sukarame village to higher ground, leaving them with only the clothes on their back. But they were among the lucky ones.
Some villagers perished when the powerful tsunami struck on Saturday night, sweeping over popular beaches of southern Sumatra and the western tip of Java and inundating tourist hotels and coastal settlements.
Experts say it was likely triggered by a massive underwater landslide following an eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait.
"My family are safe but my house has been destroyed everything's gone," said Sunaria. "Now I'm looking for bodies that have not been found. We only found one yesterday and we're looking for spots where more bodies could still be buried."
Another villager, Sunarti, waded through knee-deep water as she searched for belongings outside her destroyed house. "We found two dead bodies over there yesterday," the 61-year-old indicated.
Sunarti said her 100-year-old mother survived and was staying at higher ground until they could be sure there would be no more killer waves something experts have warned remains a serious risk.
"My life was already tough," Sunarti, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP. "We're very poor and now this happens"
Down the road in Cilurah village, survivor Ade Junaedi said he witnessed nature's fury firsthand. "It happened very quickly," he said.
"I was chatting with a guest at our place when my wife opened the door and she suddenly let out a panicked scream. I thought there was a fire, but when I walked to the door I saw the water coming."
Back in Sukarame village, Sunarti and her hungry neighbours waited for outside aid to arrive in their stricken community.
James Massola, Tanjung Lesung Tanjung Lesung is a famous Indonesian beach resort that bills itself as the "gateway to Krakatoa", the volcano that triggered Saturday's tsunami.
It's a place that President Joko Widodo has designated as one of his much-hyped "ten new Balis", part of a big tourism push to get people to travel to other parts of the archipelago.
But on Monday morning at 9am, the only visitors to this resort were the military, rescue workers and a platoon of ambulances.
Thirty-six hours earlier, hundreds of guests, including 300 workers from Indonesia's state-owned electricity company, were watching the band Seventeen play and enjoying the resort's facilities when the tsunami struck. On another stage, a comedian named Brother Jimmy who dresses like an Islamic preacher was performing his routine.
Footage taken by a member of the band's audience of the moment the tsunami struck has gone viral globally. The awful wave, rushing up to meet the camera, swept everything before it as it ended the lives of dozens of people in an instant.
The only member of Seventeen known to have survived is the singer, Ifan. His wife Dylan Sahara and the rest of the band are either dead or missing, along with their fans. The comedian Brother Jimmy is dead too, as are many of those resort guests who were watching the show.
Now, at Tanjung Lesung, a twisted metal sign that advertises the name of the resort is all that remains in the spot where the stage once stood.
The wreckage is everywhere. Speaker cables twisted and broken; speakers thrown dozens of metres, piled up next to a swimming pool that is mostly empty.
Single shoes one so small that it could only belong to a child of three or four years age litter the grass. Nearby, a chest of drawers, an empty crate of Bintang beer, a chair, a giant tree uprooted.
Eric Khifari is sitting quietly, sobbing. He doesn't want to speak, but his friend Yusuf explains what has happened.
"Eric is looking for his brother, Roy Khifari, who was the event organiser for Seventeen. We've been looking for him since yesterday but still haven't found him. Not even the KTP (ID card)," he says.
"Other members of the event organising team were found alive yesterday but not Roy. We have visited Pandeglang [a hospital nearby] yesterday, there was no information, we went there this morning and still no information."
The rescue teams go about their work quietly, for the most part, though the sound of a chainsaw occasionally rips through the air. And every so often a shout goes up, followed by many more.
Another corpse has been found, and is rushed to a waiting ambulance, flesh already starting to fall off twisted arms and legs.
A gruesome discovery was made while the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age were on site on Monday morning. A small cellar, underneath the resort's large swimming pool, where chemicals were stored, contained the bodies of five people, three men and two women.
Fariz Apriyoko Hidayatullah, a commander of Artillery Field 5 Battalion from Cipanas, West Java, says, matter-of-factly, "They were running from the wave and they got stuck in the storage area".
"Three of them came out easily, the other two were mixed up with cables and rubble. Basranas [the rescue agency] had to cut the cables first."
"Rescuers only found 56 dead bodies yesterday (Sunday). I'm sure there were more than 50 people who were here when the band was playing. It must be more than 100 people."
Fariz doesn't know how long he and his men will be in Tanjung Lesung, helping find bodies in the grounds of the resort and the nearby marshy fields.
One of the strangest things about the tsunami that hit this corner part of West Java is how random the damage has been.
On the coast road that runs through here, a hard-hit village like Sambolo will be followed by three or more villages which thanks to nothing more than their position on the coast, and the vicissitudes of fate appear mostly unharmed.
The trail of destruction laid down by a tsunami is, in a way, like a bushfire one house or one village can escape unharmed while the next village or even the next house can be smashed.
The pattern is nothing like the recent earthquakes in Palu and Lombok, which shook, damaged or destroyed just about everything in proximity to the epicentre.
So it is that the Tanjung Lesung Beach Resort lies in ruins, its guests dead, injured or missing while others have escaped with their lives and homes intact.
James Massola & Matt Wade Indonesia is reeling from its second deadly tsunami in three months after a "high-wave event" inundated beaches and towns on the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra on Saturday night.
The death toll from the tsunami, apparently caused by volcanic activity on the island of Anak Krakatau, reached 168 late on Sunday with 745 injured. But many more people are missing and Indonesian officials warned the toll is "likely to grow".
The disaster struck without warning around 9.30pm local time leaving scenes of devastation along both the western coast of Java and the southern coast of Sumatra. Hundreds of homes, hotels and other buildings have been destroyed or are badly damaged, officials said.
Among those to have perished in the natural disaster were the band manager and bassist for the Jakarta pop band "Seventeen", who were performing at resort in Tanjung Lesung when a wave collapsed the stage from behind. Others were missing.
Chilling television footage shows the band performing on stage when the wave strikes and sweeps them into the audience.
At the coastal district of Pandeglang at least 33 people died, 500 were injured and nine hotels were "severely damaged."
The spokesman for Indonesia's disaster management agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said there were "many tourists visiting the beaches along Pandeglang" when the disaster hit.
He said Indonesian officials are now "conducting studies to ascertain the cause of the tsunami and the probability of additional ones."
Along the beach front in the Anyer district, on the west coast of the island of Java, cars were overturned, buildings severely damaged and trees ripped from the ground.
Some villages were like ghost towns, with locals who fled the wave yet to return, while others not lucky enough to escape being swept away by the deadly tide.
At a small government-run medical clinic by the beach, one of many along the road in the affected areas, survivors gathered to get medical care. They wore shocked looks on their faces as they received medical attention and tried to account for missing loved ones.
At one small site, 12 people, including three children, were killed. Another 33 people were injured and 36 were listed as missing. The dead were a combination of locals and tourists in what is a popular holiday area for Indonesians, a local official said.
The pre-Christmas tsunami is the latest in a series of natural disasters in Indonesia during 2018, including earthquake and tsunami which struck the Palu region on the island of Indonesian island of Sulewesi in late September, killing more than 2000. An earthquake also rocked the resort island of Lombok in August.
Saturday night's inundation also comes 14 years, almost to the day, since the Boxing Day tsunami, which was triggered by an earthquake off the north coast of Sumatra and killed more than 150,000 people in Indonesia, mostly in Aceh province.
The Indonesian archipelago is located on what is called the "ring of fire" around the Pacific, where most of the world's active volcanoes are located and which is prone to earthquakes.
Krakatoa is about 156km west of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. Its eruption in 1883 was one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in the world, killing more than 36,000 people.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Australian Embassy in Jakarta was "making urgent enquiries to determine whether any Australians have been affected by the tidal wave that hit beaches in the Sunda Strait area."
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said the "high-wave event" was a "terrible blow" for Indonesia.
"We understand that at present there are no foreigners, let alone Australians, who have been impacted by this...This comes on top of what happened in Sulawesi and so, as always, we're available to support the Indonesian government with these things, as requested."
Mr Morrison said there had been no requests for assistance, and he was not anticipating any on this stage.
Oystein Lund Andersen, an employee of the Norwegian embassy in Jakarta, was on holidays in Anyer, on the Javanese coast with his family when the wave hit.
"I was by myself at the beach photographing the well known volcano Anak Krakatau, when I suddenly saw a big wave," he wrote in a Facebook post.
"I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m inland. [The] next wave entered the hotel area where I was staying and downed cars on the road behind it."
It is possible the tsunami was caused by undersea landslides triggered by volcanic activity on Anak Krakatau.
Rahmat Riyono, the head of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said another tsunami was possible because Saturday night's wave had been caused by an eruption of the Anak-Krakatau volcano, rather than an earthquake.
"We are waiting for a status update from Anak-Krakatau. The chance of a tsunami returning a second time is very small if it caused by an earthquake. But since this is caused by an eruption, it is a different case. We have to continue monitor."
"There was no early warning, because it's a tsunami caused by a volcano. We urge people to stay away from Anak-Krakatau and the beach."
with Lucy Cormack, Amilia Rosa and Cassandra Morgan
Jakarta The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is marching on in its investigation in a bribery case pertaining to the Jambi budget deliberation by naming 13 new suspects in the case, comprising Jambi Legislative Council (Jambi DPRD) members and businesspeople.
Those who were arrested include council speaker Cornelis Buston, deputy speakers AR Syahbandar and Chumaidi Zaidi as well as five political party faction leaders in the council from the Golkar Party, National Awakening Party (PKB), United Development Party (PPP) and Gerindra Party.
"The DPRD leaders allegedly asked for money, collected money, held a meeting to discuss the matter, asked to be allocated a project and each received Rp 100 million to Rp 600 million," KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo said at a press conference on Friday.
On Dec. 6, the Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced suspended Jambi governor Zumi Zola Zulkifli to six years behind bars after finding him guilty of accepting gratuity and channeling bribes to provincial legislative council members in transactions related to the deliberation of provincial budgets.
Judges also ordered the defendant to pay a fine of Rp 500 million (US$34,362) or serve an additional three months in prison. The sentence is lighter than the eight years' imprisonment and Rp 1 billion fine demanded by KPK prosecutors. (ggq)
Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta This was a busy year for the country's antigraft campaign spearheaded by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
The KPK has investigated at least 178 corruption cases across the country involving 229 individuals this year, a sharp increase from 121 last year and 99 in 2016.
Lawmakers and regional councillors represented the largest number of individuals named suspects by the KPK this year, with 91, followed by businesspeople (50) and regional leaders (28).
In one of 2018's biggest cases, the KPK charged 40 of the city's 45 councillors with bribery related to the deliberation of the city budget making it one of the widest-ranging corruption investigations in KPK history. It all started last year when the KPK investigated M. Arief Wicaksono, who at the time was Malang City Council speaker, for allegedly accepting bribes from a Malang administration official.
The KPK has also broken its own record by conducting 28 operations this year, mostly centering on bribery allegations, by catching suspected corruptors red-handed.
"While we only seized a small amount of money, each operation served as a starting point for us to uncover more cases or prosecute more suspects," KPK deputy chairman Saut Situmorang said.
A case in point was the arrest of South Kalimantan's Hulu Sungai Tengah regent, Abdul Latif, who was nabbed while allegedly accepting Rp 65 million (US$4,465) in bribes related to the construction of a state-owned hospital in January the first operation that set off a series of arrests this year.
Months later, investigators found evidence that Abdul had allegedly laundered Rp 23 billion of his illicit money.
Bribery is one of the most prevalent cases handled by the KPK, with 151 cases being investigated this year, an increase from 93 last year.
It also managed to send high-profile suspects to prison, with the most notorious being former House of Representatives speaker Setya Novanto of the Golkar Party.
A court sentenced him in April to 15 years behind bars for playing a major role in the e-ID graft case and stripped him of his political rights, banning him from running for public office for five years after he has completed his sentence. Setya's conviction ended his nearly year-long game of cat and mouse with the KPK.
But its probe into corrupt politicians did not stop at Setya. Three months after Setya's conviction, the KPK caught Golkar lawmaker Eni Saragih red-handed allegedly accepting bribes from a businessman in relation to a coal-powered power plant project in Riau known as PLTU Riau-1 which is part of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's flagship 35,000 megawatt electricity procurement program.
In August, former social affairs minister and Golkar politician Idrus Marham resigned from the Cabinet after being named a suspect in the same case, which turned out to be the first graft case to have rocked Jokowi's inner circle.
The KPK also found evidence that Eni, who at the time was the treasurer of Golkar's extraordinary national congress (Munaslub) in December 2017, had allegedly asked businessman Johannes Budisutrisno Kotjo for money to fund the Munaslub. Golkar was quick to deny the allegations.
But Eni's case was just one example this year in which the KPK suspected politicians of asking businesspeople to illegally fund their political activities.
It has been pushing political parties to initiate reform by adopting an integrity system to prevent their members from embarking on corrupt practices and improve party financial transparency particularly after the 2018 simultaneous regional elections took place and as the 2019 general election draws near.
While many political parties have expressed their support for the system that was developed by the KPK, experts continued to cast doubts given that lawmakers were reluctant to carry out the radical measure by revising the 2011 law on political parties.
Even the General Elections Commission's (KPU) attempts to ban former corruption convicts from contesting the 2019 legislative election have been met with opposition from political parties and lawmakers, as well as the Supreme Court which annulled a KPU regulation to ban former graft convicts from taking part in the race.
Following the ruling, 12 former graft convicts are now aiming for a spot in provincial councils, while 26 others are running for city and regional council seats in April.
"It needs the President to push for total reform with regards to political and law enforcement, including pushing political parties to implement the integrity system," said Dadang Trisasongko of Transparency International Indonesia.
But 2018 was not necessarily a tough year for the antigraft campaign. The KPK reached a new milestone in taking on corporate crime when prosecutors took the first corporation publicly listed construction company PT Duta Graha Indah which had changed its name to PT Nusa Konstruksi Enjiniring to court for alleged bid-rigging in relation to the construction of a hospital in Bali.
This year also marked the return of KPK senior investigator Novel Baswedan who was hospitalized after acid was thrown in his face by unidentified assailants. And although the mastermind behind the attack remains a mystery, his return his given colleagues at the KPK a significant morale boost.
Efforts to curb corruption also came from Jokowi who signed a regulation in October to pay informants up to Rp 200 million to blow the whistle on people suspected of graft. "We want people's participation in the prevention and eradication of corruption," the President said at the time.
Kharishar Kahfi and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta The year 2018 was the year when dozens of new regional leaders entered office with fanfare after being elected in the 2018 simultaneous regional elections. But, it was also the year when some others gave up the job with shame after being accused of corruption.
As of Dec. 19, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) had handled dozens of graft cases implicating 30 regional leaders this year a significant increase from 14 in 2017. Regional heads were the third-most individuals arrested by the antigraft body this year, after legislative members and businesspeople.
Despite cases found in regions far from the busy capital of Jakarta and areas considerably less familiar to the general population, some made national headlines, including those involving two governors Zumi Zola Zulkifli of Jambi and Irwandi Yusuf of Aceh.
Some local leaders who at that time were either seeking reelection or contesting a higher office in the regional elections in June were also in the spotlight for corruption, for example, Marianus Sae, Ngada regent in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) who placed his hat in the NTT gubernatorial election.
The KPK named Marianus a suspect for bribery pertaining to several construction projects across Ngada in February, just hours before the NTT election committee announced his candidacy in the gubernatorial election.
There were indications that Marianus used the illicit money to fund his campaign.
Following Marianus' arrest, KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo warned other candidates that it might not be the last arrest as the KPK would continue its crackdown on incumbents if it found sufficient evidence of corruption.
It turned out the KPK fulfilled its promise. The KPK weeded out nine candidates contesting elections who were suspected of graft three of whom were gubernatorial candidates with the latest incumbent regent of East Java's Tulungagung, Syahri Mulyo, in June.
Syahri was named a suspect for allegedly accepting bribes paid by a businessman to secure a bid for a local procurement project only three weeks before voting day. He turned himself in to the KPK a day later.
A permissive culture has long been blamed for corruption, which was evident in Tulungagung and North Maluku where the tainted track record of candidates did not prevent voters from casting ballots for graft suspects.
From behind bars in KPK custody, Syahri garnered almost 60 percent of the vote and won the election by an almost 20 percent margin. He reportedly was the regional head with the shortest stint of three minutes before he was stripped of his position and replaced by his running mate as acting regent in September.
In North Maluku, the election results showed that a plurality of voters had cast their ballots for graft suspect Ahmad Hidayat Mus in the province's gubernatorial race.
Ahmad, a former regent of Sula Islands in North Maluku, secured 31 percent of the vote from Wednesday's regional election, leading a field of four candidates. North Maluku's election result is currently being disputed at court. Both Syahri and Ahmad are currently standing trial.
A case in Southeast Sulawesi illustrated how a political dynasty employed corrupt practices to prolong the family's authority over the region.
It was very much a case of like father like son when Kendari Mayor Adriatma Dwi Putra was arrested by the KPK in Kendari, the capital of Southeast Sulawesi. His father, Asrun, a former Kendari mayor who had placed his bid in the Southeast Sulawesi gubernatorial race at that time, was nabbed three hours later that day, also in Kendari.
Investigators found indications that Adriatama allegedly assisted his father in a bribery case related to a road construction project in Kendari to help fund his father's campaign.
The father and son were sentenced to jail in October and stripped of their right to run for public office for a couple of years after they have completed their sentences just like many other convicted regional leaders, including Marianus.
But the KPK crackdown and the court revocation of political rights appears to have failed to deter fellow local leaders from accepting bribes, with the latest arrests involving the Pakpak Bharat regent in North Sumatra in November and Cianjur regent in West Java this month.
Regional Autonomy Watch's Agung Pambudi said the country's system had yet to support the emergence of clean figures as regional leaders.
"To be elected, candidates must either have an extraordinary track record to be acknowledged by the people, or be really corrupt to have access to unlimited resources to bribe people to vote for them," he said.
This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Dec. 26, 2018, with the title "Regional leaders, candidates in spotlight for corruption".
Jakarta The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has urged the National Police to take over the case of the attack against Novel Baswedan, a senior investigator at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), from the Jakarta Police.
Komnas HAM said the latter was incompetent in handling the case as it had remained unsolved for more than a year.
"[We recommend the National Police to form] a joint task force to find the perpetrator behind the acid attack, which took place on April 11, 2017," said commissioner Choirul Anam on Friday as quoted by kompas.com.
The task force, Choirul said, should involve KPK officials, the National Police's investigators and public figures. The commission also urged President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to ensure the establishment of the joint task force and monitor its work.
Komnas HAM has monitored the handling of Novel's case since February this year, and issued a report on its review on the case. The report was handed to the National Police also on Friday. (vny/wit)
Jakarta National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said there were 17 cases of terrorism this year, compared to 12 cases last year.
He said the amendment of the Terrorism Law issued after the terrorist bombings in Surabaya in May made it easier for police to intercept and prevent terrorist attacks.
"Prosecuting early action is better so that police can prevent or launch preemptive strikes. [It is better] than waiting until we have evidence," he said at a press conference on Thursday, as quoted by Antara news agency.
Tito said with the new authority mandated to the police in the law, the force succeeded in preventing terrorist attacks before the Asian Games 2018, the Asian Para Games 2018 and the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
As many as 270 suspects were arrested on charges of issuing terrorism threats and police already knew how to minimize terrorist attacks when the Asian Games took place.
In the whole year, cases of terrorism involving 396 suspects were discovered and legal action was taken against 141 suspects. Twenty-five suspects were killed during law enforcement actions, 13 died in suicide attacks and 12 had been convicted.
Meanwhile, eight police officers were killed by terrorists, double the number in 2017. However, Tito said in general the number of criminal cases, both conventional and transnational, declined in 2018.
Karina Tehusijarana, Jakarta A number of religious, cultural and interfaith figures have formulated a document called the Jakarta Treatise in response to the rising tide of religious conservatism sweeping the country.
The treatise, which consists of five points, was produced at the end of a two-day discussion on Friday and Saturday in North Jakarta. Among those attending the event were former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD, Catholic priests Benny Susetyo and Franz Magnis Suseno, Nahdlatul Ulama communications researcher Savic Ali, Liberal Islam Network (JIL) coordinator Ulil Abshar Abdalla and activist Alissa Wahid.
The first point of the treatise stated that while conservatism on its own was not necessarily a problem, it could become a "serious threat" if it morphed into "religious exclusivism and extremism" and became a "tool for political interests".
The treatise further stated that exclusivism and extremism could lead to more groups advocating for religious ideologies to become part of the state's ideology.
The treatise also suggested five strategies to address these challenges, calling on the government to take a more active role in bolstering religious moderation.
"Religion needs to be returned to its role as a spiritual and moral guide and not just be focused on the ritual and formal aspects, especially those that are exclusive in nature, in both public and governmental spheres," the treatise stated.
The treatise also urged the government to revise the controversial Blasphemy Law that resulted in the conviction of former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and has been used as justification for suppressing minority religions such as Ahmadiyah and Shiite Islam.
The treatise was submitted to Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, who released an official response on Saturday, largely agreeing with the points in the document.
"In the context of national and communal life in Indonesia, religion is believed to be a source of important values that cannot be separated from daily life," Lukman said in the statement.
"However, contemporary religious life shows a tendency to reduce the noble values of religion and limit them to external aspects such legal and political formalism, while ignoring the moral and spiritual aspects of religion."
Lukman said he also agreed that "ultra-conservatism" in the form of religious exclusivism and extremism contradicted religious values. (ebf)
Jakarta Christians demanded on Thursday that the local administration and Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB) be more active in putting an end to discriminatory actions related to the construction of churches in several parts of the country.
On Dec. 23 and 24, residents of Sepatan subdistrict in Tangerang, Banten, protested Christmas services at two churches in the area, namely the Congregation of Batak Protestant Churches (HKBP) Rogate and the Pentecostal church, forcing congregations to leave their church buildings.
The Rogate church has been sealed off since Christmas Eve as it has not been granted a building permit despite applying for one two years ago. The Pentecostal church, meanwhile, is still operating, having obtained permission nine years ago.
Church member Aritonang Golden said the protests were coming from outsiders, as local residents had agreed to the construction of a church.
"Only residents in the Golden City housing compound had given their signatures," he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday, adding that the church members were currently waiting for the forum and local administration to resolve the case.
Suwandri, head of a neighborhood unit in the housing compound, said the residents were basically fine with the church since the compound, established in 2012, was still new.
"We only have around 40 family cards. We don't completely understand this matter. When the protest occurred, most of us were working," he said.
In 2008, the Bogor city administration, in West Java, issued a decree freezing the GKI Yasmin church's building permit in response to resistance from residents. Higher authorities had nullified the decision, but the ban remains in place.
HKBP Filadelfia in Bekasi, also in West Java, faced a similar problem when the local administration sealed off the location where the church was to be built in 2010. Both the Bandung and Jakarta state administrative courts, as well as the Supreme Court, ruled in favor of HKBP Filadelfia in 2011. However, its church members are still unable to congregate at the church.
Indonesian Communion of Churches spokesperson Jeirry Sumampow said the recent incident in Sepatan showed the government had made no significant progress in upholding religious rights.
He noted that conflicts had repeatedly occurred in different regions, even in places where a church obtained the minimum 60-signature requirement needed to secure a permit.
The requirements are detailed in a joint regulation from the Religious Affairs Ministry and Home Ministry on the establishment of houses of worship.
"We have no problem with the law, but the local administrations often refuse to issue permits because of protests from outsiders. Residents [...] were incited by them. This happened in several places," he said.
"If there is resistance, the locals would also be hesitant to give approval, or could withdraw their agreement like in the GKI Yasmin case."
Setara Institute recorded 378 cases of vandalism related to worship houses in the last 11 years. Church cases or cases in which worshipers faced difficulties in establishing churches comprise 195 of the cases.
It also stated that Tangerang faced similar problems to those experienced in the Jakarta suburbs of Bekasi, Depok and Bogor, where minority groups have struggled to establish worship houses.
FKUB head Saefuddi said that, as the joint regulation clearly outlined the permit process, a team would be assigned to resolve the situation.
Home Ministry secretary general Hadi Prabowo said the minority group could not depend solely on the forum in dealing with the issue. "They should talk to the mayor. Even though there were many protesters, at least as a mayor, he or she must be able to resolve this," Prabowo said. (ggq)
Jon Afrizal, Jambi The eyes of the children in the Assemblies of God Church (GSJA) in Kenali Barat sub-district of Jambi sparked with merriment as they sang "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" during a service to welcome the holy day in the church's front yard on Saturday.
Amid the excitement, however, the children looked puzzled when they saw the door of their house of worship being sealed. Rumors have it that the church caretaker was going to sell the building.
"God, don't sell our church. We want Christmas," so the children said during the prayer, which was met by a bitter smile by Jonathan Klasier, a pastor at the GSJA.
The GSJA is among three churches recently forced to close by the Jambi city administration following rejection from residents who argued that the churches did not have building permits. The other two are Kanaan Methodist Church and the Huria Kristen Indonesia (HKI) Church.
Jonathan said he had explained to the children about the problem faced by the congregation, which forced them to hold their Christmas service in the church's front yard. "I keep trying to spread the spirit of love and joy of Christmas to [the children]," Jonathan said.
The pastor said he had visited residents in the neighborhood to discuss the issue, but many of them claimed they had not opposed the church's existence in the first place.
Now the church must obtain at least three permits, one each from the local neighborhood unit leader, local customary agency and local mass organization Laskar Melayu, to continue its activities, he said.
"We Christians and Muslims have lived together in the community for decades and we don't fully understand why the church was closed," Jonathan said, "We hope to resolve this problem soon."
The Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) has deplored the churches' closure in September, saying that it violated citizens' constitutional rights to practice their religions. The three churches, PGI said, had also made efforts for years to obtain permits in accordance with the prevailing regulations.
Jambi National Unity and Politics Agency head Liphan Pasaribu said the office was currently looking for solutions, including to reopen the Methodist Church, the oldest church, so that congregations could take turn to hold services.
The three embattled churches, however, had different structures and therefore the church leaders refused to do so, he said.
The option to relocate the HKI to nearby Pinang Merah housing complex was also met by resistance because another HKI already existed and the congregations refused to have a new church building in the area, Liphan said. "Please give us a month, we will resolve this problem," he said.
Jambi Interfaith Community Forum (FKUB) secretary Fuad Rahman said the churches must complete both the administrative and the special requirements to obtain permits, citing the 2006 Joint Religious Affairs Ministry and Home Ministry Regulation (SKB) on maintaining religious peace.
According to the SKB, the establishment of a house of worship requires support from at least 60 residents and a written recommendation from the local interfaith community forum. (afr/swd)
Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta An alliance of civil society groups has recorded that there were at least 10 unresolved cases of intolerance in the province, six of which occurred this year.
The Bhinneka Tunggal Ika National Alliance said the six cases this year included the recent wooden cross incident in Purbayan village in Yogyakarta City.
In February, a man attacked churchgoers with a sword on a Sunday morning at St. Lidwina, a Catholic church in Sleman regency, injuring the priest and several congregation members.
"[Acts of] intolerance are being repeated in Yogyakarta because there is no serious effort to resolve the root of the problems," said alliance coordinator Agnes Dwi Rusjiati.
The group also recorded this year that there was a rejection of a social program held by St. Paulus church in Pringgolayan, resistance to the construction of a Seventh-day Adventist church in Bantul, intimidation toward a traditional Javanese ritual and sedekah laut (ocean's offering) in Bantul, as well as vandalism at the Bantul District Court building after the court punished a Pemuda Pancasila leader that had disrupted a painting exhibition at the Islamic University of Indonesia.
Setara Institute director Halili said intolerance was prevalent in the province, which was once dubbed "Little Indonesia" for its pluralism and tolerance, because values of diversity are absent in the education system.
Other factors were "inequality before the law" as authorities have applied impunity to certain groups. "The Yogyakarta administration is very weak in creating inclusive policies," he said.
Yogyakarta City ranked 41st out of 94 cities observed in the institute's 2018 Tolerant Cities Index.
In a report titled the 2018 Elections Vulnerability Index, the Elections Supervisory Agency named the province the second most conflict-prone electorate, only slightly better than West Papua, which is struggling with a separatist movement.
Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute director Yogi Zul Fadhli said the state "remains absent" in the province.
In the wooden cross incident, he said the grave of Albertus Slamet Sugihardi should have been allowed to have a cross on it because it is protected under the country's law.
"Government Regulation No. 9/1987 on land use for public cemeteries stipulates that anyone, including those without identity, can be buried in a public cemetery," he said. (wit)
Indonesia is becoming less and less safe for journalists despite the fact that they are protected under Law Number 40/1999 on the Press.
This was conveyed by the chairperson of the Online Journalists Association (IWO), Jhodi Yudono, when asked to comment on intimidation against Akurat.co and Krikom.id journalists at the 2112 "Defend Ulghur" action at the Chinese Embassy in Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Friday December 21.
"This country is increasingly unsafe for its citizens including journalists, who are protected under UU Pers Number 40/1999", he explained. According to Yudono the 2112 protesters were not afraid of intimidating the journalists because law enforcement is becoming weaker.
If this continues to happen, then the flow on effect will be that it will undermine the growth of democracy in Indonesia because such groups will feel that because they have the numbers they can continue to intimidate the press.
"With regard to citizens who intimidate [the press], I think this is the fruit of weak law enforcement. Over time those who have the power (numbers) are increasingly prepared to intimidate anyone, including the press", he asserted.
"The state, in this case the police, often neglect to provide protection to citizens even though they are protected by the constitution", he continued.
In addition to this, he also called on journalists to continue working professionally and continue to report on what happens when they are working.
"Journalists cannot remain silent, report on what is happening, because only through this can we uphold justice and humanity", he said in conclusion.
Earlier, participants of the 2112 action in front of the Chinese Embassy intimidated a reporter from Akurat.co and an online media journalist from Krikom.Id.
The incident started when the two journalists began recording and taking photos of a student representative giving a speech from atop of the command vehicle which began to lean in a political direction.
In the speech the student touched on the recent arrest of celebrity Islamic preacher Bahar bin Simith for insulting President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and then began shouting "replace the president in 2019", in reference to the 2019 presidential elections.
The journalists were then intercepted by a group of heavily built youths who demanded that they delete the photos and recordings. The journalists however refused. There was even one who videoed the intimidation.
"Where's your ID card!", asked one of the youths in a high pitched voice. The youth then took a photo of the two journalists press and ID cards. "Scum cebong media", said one of the youths after questioning the two journalists.
Although they had already examined their documents, the group of youths continued to follow the two journalists until they reached a police post not far from the location of the demonstration.
Cebong a derogatory term meaning "tadpole", which is used against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo supporters to mock the fact that the president kept frogs as pets while he was the mayor of Solo and the governor of Jakarta.
Apriadi Gunawan, Jakarta/Medan Hundreds of people from several Islamic organizations held a #SaveMuslimUighur rally in front of the Chinese Consulate in Medan, North Sumatra, on Friday, condemning the alleged mistreatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
"Our brothers [Uighur Muslims] are a minority," Acong, a protester who is of Chinese descent, said in his speech during the rally. The protesters carried several critical banners calling on the Chinese government to immediately stop violence against Uighur Muslims.
"We urge the [Chinese] government take action against the violence on Uighur Muslims," the leader of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Councils Fatwa in North Sumatra, Heriansyah, said.
The protestors also tried to blockade the consulate because there was no Chinese Consulate representative willing to meet them. However, the police stopped them from blockading the office.
"We also demand the Chinese consulate general be expelled from Indonesia," he said.
In South Jakarta, a group calling themselves the 212 Rally Alumni also held a rally in front of the Chinese Embassy in Mega Kuningan.
"We need to stop the Chinese government from abusing our brothers, the Uighur Muslims," a protestor, Dedi Suwardadi, said as quoted by tribunnews.com.
Protests have emerged in Indonesia following reports on the detention of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and allegations that they had been put to forced labor.
Previously, the Indonesian Ulema Council had condemned China over reports of the crackdown, saying it was not in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that guarantees religious freedom for every human around the world. China signed the covenant in 1998 but has yet to ratify it.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla reiterated that Indonesia would not interfere in China's handling of Uighur Muslims amid pressure for the government to step in.
"Of course we reject or [want to] prevent any human rights violations. However, we don't want to intervene in the domestic affairs of another country," Kalla said.
However, the Foreign Ministry had summoned Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao Qian on Monday to convey the concerns of Indonesian Muslims about Uighur Muslims.
A Chinese Embassy spokesman said in a statement on Thursday that the Chinese government was facing the threat of religious extremism in Xinjiang, which is home to about 14 million Muslims.
Some Xinjiang residents, it said, had struggled to find jobs because of their poor command of the nation's official language and lack of skills. "This has made them vulnerable to the instigation and coercion of terrorism and extremism," it said.
"In light of the situation, Xinjiang has established professional vocational training institutions as the platform, providing courses on China's common language, legal knowledge, vocational skills, along with deradicalization education for citizens influenced by extremist ideas." (ggq)
Suherdjoko, Jakarta, Semarang As the country has encountered instances of intolerance throughout the year, carol services in cathedrals and churches across the country have called for interreligious unity.
The Jakarta Cathedral in Central Jakarta promoted the theme Kita Bhinneka, Kita Indonesia (We are diverse, We are Indonesia) with decorations inspired by the beauty of Indonesia's islands.
"This year, we are implementing the third principle of Pancasila, the principle of the unity of Indonesia," the church's spokesperson Susyana Suwadie said as quoted by tribunnews.com.
In Pontianak, West Kalimantan, archbishop of the St. Joseph Cathedral Mgr. Agustinus Agus called for maintaining diversity in Indonesia, as well as increasing security, comfort and peace.
"Indonesia, unity, Pancasila and diversity must be something that we constantly fight for," Agus said on Tuesday, adding that the large, growing and diverse nature of the population had been preserved since the time of the country's founding fathers.
West Kalimantan Governor Sutarmidji, who visited the church with West Kalimantan Police chief Insp. Gen. Didi Haryono, Tanjungpura military commander Maj. Gen. Achmad Supriadi and Pontianak Mayor Edi Rusdi Kamtono, also said diversity does not mean division but unity.
Agus said the government's visit to the church was evidence that the government was implementing its mission on unity.
The priest at the Maria Catholic Church Ratu Para Rasul in Pamekasan, East Java, Rama Deddy Sulistya, also called for maintaining harmony and peace to bring love to others.
"We are united in diversity and this is God's gift," he said in a carol service attended by 400 people.
In Semarang, Central Java, 400,000 Catholics spread across 100 parishes in the Semarang archdiocese celebrated Christmas by reflecting on the themes related to the peace of living together as Indonesians.
Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, accompanied by Diponegoro military commander Maj. Gen. Mochamad Effendi and Central Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Condro Kirono, visited the Semarang Cathedral. Ganjar said Christmas in Surabaya was tinged with joy.
"I met a number of people in a happy atmosphere. They expressed happiness about the trans-Java toll road that had just been inaugurated by the President. They were also praying for the tsunami victims in Banten," he said. (ggq)
Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta In a rare event, the non-active chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which is seen as the guardian of Islamic orthodoxy, has sent a Christmas greeting to Christians throughout the country.
Ma'ruf Amin, who is running alongside incumbent Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the 2019 presidential election, is seen wishing all the nation's Christians a "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" in a 22-second clip of what appears to be a official campaign video. The video immediately sparked religious and political controversy.
Indonesian Muslims have long been divided over whether saying "Selamat Natal" (Merry Christmas) is religiously permissible.
Some believe that doing so would compromise their strict monotheistic belief, arguing that Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ as God Incarnate. Others argue that Jesus is Islam's Prophet Isa so there is nothing wrong with celebrating the birth of an Islamic prophet.
During his active stint as chairman of the MUI, the Islamic body in charge of issuing fatwas, Ma'ruf previously exercised caution in his response when asked if he would wish Christians "Merry Christmas", given the ongoing and prolonged debate.
"The issue is debated, [so] it's better not to say it," he said in December 2012 as reported by tempo.co. He reiterated his stance in 2016 as reported by tribunnews.com, that "I would rather not say ['Merry Christmas']" if disagreements existed on the issue.
The MUI has never declared Christmas greetings as haram, although it clearly stated that Muslims were forbidden from taking part in Christmas Mass and donning Christmas attire in the fatwas it issued in 1981 and 2016.
Responding to questions about Ma'ruf's Christmas well-wishes, MUI general secretary Anwar Abbas said the council had yet to take a stance on the issue. "The MUI has never issued a fatwa on it," Anwar said.
President Jokowi, who is facing negative campaigns attacking his Muslim credentials, picked Ma'ruf as his running mate in August, shortly before officially registering his 2019 candidacy.
Jakarta Personnel of the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) in Makassar, South Sulawesi, have for the umpteenth time raided several mini markets for openly selling condoms. The sweeping raids were conducted ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations, which will take place on Monday evening.
"We have confiscated hundreds [of condoms] from a number of mini markets in Makassar. They distributed the contraceptives openly. These sweeping raids aimed to prevent sexual promiscuity among underaged people and teenagers," Satpol PP acting head Muflih said on Sunday.
He said selling condoms openly without applying a minimum age requirement for the buyers was a violation of the law. During New Year's Eve celebrations, condoms are in high demand, sought especially by teenagers and adolescents, Muflih claimed.
Muflih said Satpol PP had anticipated the open sale of condoms in mini markets by releasing a circular, which urged the stores to sell the products only to adults. Anyone who wants to buy a condom must show their ID.
"We introduced this policy in February, since which time we have issued copies of the circular to more than 400 mini markets in Makassar so they will not sell the contraceptives openly, especially to underage people," Muflih said after the raid.
The Satpol PP head said he was certain that many mini markets still sold condoms because the sweeping raids could not reach all of them.
Muflih admitted there were no exact rules that prohibited the sale of condoms. However, a bylaw on public order has included sexual promiscuity and sexual intercourse outside marriage as a violation to social and religious norms. (mai/ebf)
Jakarta The Indonesian Settlement and Housing Developers Association (Apersi) has set a conservative commitment target for subsidized houses next year, after taking into account the economic situation and existing government policy.
"We only aim to develop 130,000 houses next year. This situation makes it difficult to think optimistically, even more for next year," said Apersi chairman Junaidi Abdullah over the weekend as reported by tempo.co on Monday.
He said this year members of the association could only develop about 100,000 subsidized houses out of the year's total target of 130,000. He said one of the problems was that the government often changed or introduced additional policies in the early period of every year.
He recalled that in early 2018, the government issued a functional certification policy (SLF) for subsidized houses that had discouraged developers from fulfilling their commitments.
Junaidi said the government had issued a new regulation on developer accreditation through the Public Works and Housing Ministry that would start to take effect in January 2019. The accreditation policy would be a new regulation expected to affect housing development, he added.
"It is not easy for thousands of developers to fulfill the requirements stipulated in a regulation that was suddenly issued by the government in the early period of the year," Junaidi added.
He expressed the hope that next year the government would maintain the existing regulation as otherwise it would only cause problems for the developers. (bbn)
Muhamad Al Azhari, Jakarta Chatib Basri, a former minister during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's era, to former South Sulawesi governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo were appointed to become members of the Office of Presidential Staff, also known as KSP.
According to Eko Sulistyo, a deputy for communication and information dissemination at KSP, there are 11 names appointed as new members of KSP.
"[Their jobs] will be to provide input for the Chief of the Office of the Presidential Staff," Eko told Detik.com.
KSP, which was established in 2015, is a non-structural government agency directly under and reports to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
Established under the Presidential Decree No. 26/2015 dated Feb, 23, 2015, the office supports the President and Vice President and advises on national priority programs, political affairs as well as strategic issues.
The first Chief of Presidential Staff was Teten Masduki, it is now led by retired gen. Moeldoko.
"Yesterday, they were all summoned by the Chief of Staff [...] the agenda was to meet and get statements of interest [over the appointment]," Eko said, as quoted by the news portal.
He denied that those 11 new KSP members were appointed with political considerations. Eko said they were chosen for their skills and expertise.
"[The] senior advisers were appointed for their ability and expertise in their respective fields and experience in service to the government," Eko said.
"For example, Chatib will advise on macroeconomic issues, [meanwhile] Yasin Limpo has experience in the bureaucracy, from being a village chief, to district head, to governor, et cetera. Their experiences are much needed," Eko added.
1. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto 2. Andi Wijayanto 3. Muhammad Chatib Basri 4. Imam Prasodjo 5. Makmur Keliat 6. Rakhmawati Husein 7. Yando Zakaria 8. Drs Haryadi 9. Edy Priyono 10. Syahrul Yasin Limpo 11. Jonathan Tahir
Jakarta The city administration announced on Monday that the expanded odd-even traffic control policy is to remain in place.
"The odd-even traffic policy that was implemented before the 2018 Asian Games has changed the public's mobility patterns in Jakarta in a positive way," the acting head of Jakarta's Transportation Agency, Sigit Widjatmoko, said in a press statement on Monday.
Speaking on a different occasion, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said there would be evaluations every three months regarding the policy. "The policy would not apply for only three months, but a review will be conducted every three months," he said.
The implementation of extended odd-even policy starts on Jan. 2, 2019. The roads with the odd-even policy remain the same. They include Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat, Jl. MH Thamrin, Jl. Jend. Sudirman, some parts of Jl. Jend. S. Parman, Jl. Gatot Subroto, Jl. HR. Rasuna Said, Jl. Jend. MT Haryono, Jl. Jend. DI Panjaitan and Jl. Jend. Ahmad Yani. The policy does not apply to between intersections nearest to toll gates.
Jakarta initially enforced the odd-even traffic control in July prior to the 2018 Asian Games in August and it was to have ended after the Asian Para Games in October. However, the control was extended to Dec. 31 with several adjustments.
In its first implementation, it had been applied for 15 hours per day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the Asian Games and Para Games. The policy now applies from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., except on weekends and national holidays. (sau)
Jakarta The Jakarta administration claimed that throughout 2018 it had distributed 3,070 worker cards to its residents, specifically those whose salaries are no more than 10 percent above the provincial minimum wage, which is Rp 3.6 million (US$236.76) per month.
The cards have been distributed since November, with the latest simultaneous distribution event on Monday. As many as 1,564 workers in five cities across the province received cards that day.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan symbolically handed the cards to city residents during the event, which was held at wholesale food market JakGrosir, which is managed by city-owned market operator PD Pasar Jaya in Kramat Jati, East Jakarta.
"The total number of beneficiaries in Jakarta is 3,070 [residents]. We handed over 1,564 cards today. With these cards, workers' expenses can be reduced," Anies told journalists after the event.
With the Worker Card, the city's workers are able to use Transjakarta buses for free and shop in JakGrosir, which sells affordable staple foods.
Their children would also receive cash assistance distributed through the Jakarta Smart Card program that they could use to buy subsidized food such as fish, chicken and milk.
Jakarta Manpower and Transmigration Agency head Andri Yansyah said the administration was currently verifying 2,245 applicants.
"The number [of Worker Card applicants] would continue to increase along with the completion of data submitted by worker unions and labor associations or collected by our agency team," he said. (sau/ebf)
Sheany, Jakarta The family of an Indonesian man who was killed in the crash of Lion Air flight JT-610 sued Boeing this week, alleging that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet was "unreasonably dangerous" due to its inaccurate sensors and that the US manufacturer failed to give proper instructions to pilots.
40-year-old Sudibyo Wardoyo from Jakarta was among the 189 people killed on board when the plane dove into the Java Sea after shortly taking off from Jakarta on Oct. 29.
On Monday, Corboy & Demetrio law firm filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Sudibyo's family in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
"Not only did Boeing place sensors that provided inaccurate data, it also failed to provide the plane's pilots adequate instructions," said firm co-founder Thomas Demetrio in a statement. "It was like Boeing first blindfolded and then tied the hands of the pilots," he added.
The lawsuit is the most recent, among several that have been filed against Boeing by relatives of the crash victims, alleging that faults with the new 737 MAX model have led to the deaths.
In the statement, allegations include how "the two-month-old 737 MAX 8 aircraft was unreasonably dangerous because its sensors provided inaccurate data to its flight control system resulting in its anti-stall system to improperly engage."
A preliminary crash report from the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) suggested that pilots of the JT-610 flight struggled to control the plane's anti-stalling system before the crash.
The same report also said that since Oct. 26, several problems related to airspeed and altitude appeared on the sensors a number of times.
The plane's cockpit voice recorder is yet to be found, but KNKT said the search for the second so-called black box is ongoing. The first black box, which recorded flight data, was retrieved three days after the accident by a team of Indonesian Navy divers.
Ramadani Saputra, Jakarta Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi might have been considered the happiest person in the country following Indonesia's success in hosting the Asian Games and the Asian Para Games a few months ago.
That is, at least until a corruption case surrounding the Youth and Sports Ministry emerged last week.
Strong performances at the Games and Para Games restored the country's pride in sports, as only a year ago it finished fifth at the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, tallying 38 gold medals the worst in the country's history in the biennial event.
The disappointing result had a major impact on sporting systems, with the ministry dissolving Satlak Prima (Gold Program), a national sporting program for elite athletes founded in 2010.
Under the ministry, Satlak Prima's main task was to groom athletes with medal-winning potential for international events.
With the program scrapped, the ministry's training budget now goes directly to sports federations, meaning that each federation is fully responsible for constructing its own training programs and sending athletes to train and compete abroad.
The road to the Asian Games in August and September and the Asian Para Games in October was not smooth.
In January, troubles began to surface when sports federations made complaints after receiving fewer funds than expected. The protesting parties argued that what they received was not enough to effectively prepare programs for the quadrennial events.
The Youth and Sports Ministry allocated a total of Rp 805 billion (US$55.3 million) an increase from Rp 735 billion initially to fund training programs for the two events.
The protests resulted in setbacks to overall preparations, but the parties eventually agreed to put the issue behind them, even though some federations did not get what they hoped for.
Sadly, poor planning seems to be in Indonesia's DNA, especially when it comes to big and important sporting events, with the most common complaint by sports stakeholders being a lack of funds for proper training equipment and overseas training.
Despite the problems that occurred before the Games, the event's organizer, the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC), was in general optimistic about pulling off a successful event.
From road traffic to pollution, there were several challenges facing the Asian Games, yet INASGOC managed to convince the continent that it would stage a successful event, just like it did when it hosted the event for the first time in 1962.
"Insya Allah [God willing], we can achieve our targets of completing the infrastructure, being a great host and making big achievements," Vice President Jusuf Kalla said 50 days before the Games.
The Games began with a grandiose stage and performance. Many saluted Indonesia for presenting such an entertaining opening ceremony.
Lucky for the host, the ceremony was followed by an equally successful showing in the medal count, with Team Indonesia finishing in the top four, exceeding its initial target of a top-10 finish. In 1962, when the competition was less competitive, Indonesia finished in second.
Indonesia performed strongest in its martial art of pencak silat 14 of its 31 gold medals came from the sport.
However, the large number of medals evoked a mixed response, with some participating countries suggesting that they were a "bonus" handed to Indonesia.
"First of all, we should appreciate the hard work done by the athletes," sports observer Joko Pekik Irianto told The Jakarta Post in a recent interview.
"However, of all gold medals that we won, they mostly came from non-Olympic sports. We need to think further on the matter because we're heading to two important multisport events in the future," said Joko, referring to the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines and the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
In tennis, mixed doubles pair Aldila Sutjiadi and Christopher Rungkat won a gold medal, the country's first since the women's team won gold in 2002.
The gymnastics team, which had never earned any medals, made history through Rifda Irfanaluthfi and Agus Prayogo, who won silver in floor routine and bronze in vault respectively. Rifda is now training for next year's Tokyo Olympic qualifiers.
In sport climbing, which had its Asian Games debut this year, Indonesia won three gold medals. Climber Aries Susanti Rahayu in particular has impressed in wall climbing, winning at both the Games and at in the sport's World Cup series.
Sport climbing will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games. Indonesia is hopeful for a strong Olympic showing in the sport, in addition to its usual strengths in badminton and weightlifting.
However, as Indonesia is only strong in speed climbing, its athletes will have to rise to the occasion to have a shot at standing on the podium.
The Tokyo Games will feature three disciplines: speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing. Speed climbing pits two climbers against each other, with each climbing a fixed route on a 15-meter wall. In bouldering, climbers scale a number of fixed routes on a 4 m wall in a specified time. In lead climbing, athletes attempt to climb as high as possible on a wall measuring over 15 m in height within a fixed time.
At the Games, each climber will compete in all three disciplines, with the final rankings being determined by the combined results.
At the 2018 Para Games, host Indonesia saw success, finishing fifth after winning 37 gold medals. At the 2017 ASEAN Para Games in Malaysia, Indonesia finished atop the medal table as the overall champion.
Despite all the praise and fanfare, the subject in the spotlight as the year comes to an end is a corruption case surrounding the sports ministry.
Mulyana, a ministry officer in charge of sporting achievements, was among several officials apprehended by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) during a nighttime operation in Jakarta on Dec. 18, as they reportedly received kickbacks related to a grant from the ministry to the National Sports Council.
The KPK announced it seized Rp 300 million in cash and a debit card for current accounts amounting to millions of rupiah in the operation.
Jakarta The police shot and arrested the alleged shooter of military officer Lt. Col. Dono Kuspriyanto at a house on Jl. Wijaya Kusuma, Makasar, Kramatjati, East Jakarta, on Wednesday.
"A joint team of military and National Police personnel arrested the suspect this morning at 4:24 a.m.," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Wednesday as reported by tempo.co. He declined to reveal further details of the arrest or the alleged motive.
Dono was found dead with bullet wounds in front of the Santa Maria Fatima school on Jl. Jatinegara, Bidara Cina, East Jakarta, late Tuesday night.
Jakarta Military Command spokesman Col. Inf. Kristomei Sianturi said that a few minutes prior to the incident, several eyewitnesses saw people on a motorcycle in front of Hermina Hospital in Jatinegara, East Jakarta.
"According to initial reports, a man on a motorcycle aimed his firearm at the victim's car," Kristomei said on Wednesday.
A Hermina Hospital security guard who witnessed the incident, M. Ismail, said he heard two shots being fired. Soon after, Ismail heard up to seven shots being fired in front of a nearby Danamon bank branch.
The official military car driven by Dobo, a Toyota Kijang, was found 100 meters from the location of the shooting. Dono was found dead inside the car with bullet wounds to the left cheek, neck and chest. (ami)
Jakarta Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly revealed on Thursday that the food budget for prisoners would rise to Rp 1.79 trillion in 2019, an increase from Rp 1.3 trillion this year.
The increase of the budget was a result of the increase of the number of prisoners, which has led to prison overcrowding.
"It is a significant increase caused by the rising number of prisoners. We spend on average Rp 20,000 to feed each prisoner each day," Yasonna said at his office in Jakarta on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com.
"We get more and more prisoners every year. That's why the food budget often goes beyond what we have set in the state budget," he said.
As of the end of 2018, the total number of prisoners was 256,273, or 24,197 more than the previous year, while in fact the capacity of all prisons is for a maximum of 126,164 prisoners.
Meanwhile, the total number of drug inmates, consisting of drug smugglers and users, was 74,037 and 41,252, respectively. (foy)
Jakarta Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has assured that no backdoor deal was made in the negotiation to close the divestment agreement with Freeport-McMoRan, the US mining giant and parent company of gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI).
Sri Mulyani said the entire negotiation process was managed transparently. "All relevant ministers involved in the negotiation supported to each other," the minister said on Thursday as reported by kompas.com.
All ministers involved in the negotiation had followed President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's guidance that the sole objective of the deal was to gain as much as possible from PTFI's Grasberg mine in Papua to benefit the people. No personal interests were involved in the negotiation, she stressed.
Sri Mulyani added that each minister had their own roles in the negotiation, with Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan focusing on the change in the type of contract from the Contract of Work (CoW) to the Special Mining Permit (IUPK). Jonan also ensured Freeport's commitment to develop smelter.
She and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno focused on the divestment, starting with the establishment of state mining holding company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum), evaluating the agreement between Freeport and Rio Tinto, and to managing the global bond issuance to finance the deal.
Meanwhile, Forestry and Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya negotiated on environmental issues, particularly with regard to environmentally unfriendly mining practices to ensure the observance of better future practices.
Jakarta Following the divestment deal and the 20-year contract extension, gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) plans to focus on develop a smelter and the underground mine at its Grasberg facility in Papua.
Freeport McMoRan CEO Richard Adkerson said the government had underlined the importance of constructing the smelter as stated in the definitive special mining permit (IUPK), which allows PTFI to extend its operational contract to 2041.
"We are committed to complete the [smelter] construction within five years," Adkerson said as quoted by kontan.co.id, adding that Freeport would invest US$20 billion toward its mining operations and development until 2041.
PTFI corporate communications vice president Riza Pratama said that a major part of the fund would go toward developing Grasberg's underground mine.
PTFI president director Tony Wenas stressed the importance of developing the underground mine, because the open-pit mine was expected to be depleted in 2019. "As much as $14 billion has been added to the underground mine's development until 2041," said Tony.
State-owned mining holding company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum), the new majority shareholder of PTFI, confirmed Riza's statement.
Inalum head of corporate communications Rendi A. Witoelar expressed hope that the three-year transition would proceed smoothly. "As Grasberg is the most complicated mine in the world, it is important for Inalum to ensure that there will be no disruption to its operations during the transition period," he added.
As for the smelter, Riza declined to provide detailed information on its investment, location and construction, any maintenance partners or its production capacity.
Riza also declined to comment on a report that PTFI would be cooperating with gold and copper miner PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara, which was said to be building a new 2.6 million-ton smelter on Sumbawa.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced on Friday that Indonesia was now the majority owner of PTFI after its shares were increased from 9.36 percent to 51.23 percent through a US$3.85 billion, prolonged divestment process. (das/bbn)
Jakarta Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto has claimed that the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), which is 20.5 percent, is higher than the global average GDP contribution from the sector.
He mentioned five countries whose manufacturing sectors contribute more than 20 percent to GDP, namely China (28.8 percent), South Korea (27 percent), Japan (21 percent), Germany (20.6 percent) and Indonesia.
The contribution of the manufacturing sector to the economy of countries such as Mexico, India, Italy, Spain, the United States, Russia, Brazil, France, Canada and the United Kingdom was estimated to be less than 17 percent this year.
He said Indonesia currently could not compare the manufacturing sector contribution to the economy in 2001, when it was close to 30 percent. "There is a new reality. We cannot compare the current context to the old economic paradigm," he argued as quoted by Antara news agency.
While in 2001, the contribution of the manufacturing sector was close to 30 percent, it could not be maintained because of the financial crisis that had a long-term impact on the economy, he said, adding that Indonesia started to revitalize the manufacturing sector in 2014.
"Currently, global economic growth never reaches double digits. China's economic growth is also in single digits," he said, adding that Indonesia, whose economy was two-thirds of the ASEAN economy, had managed to grow its GDP between 5.1 and 5.2 percent.
"Indonesia benefited from the trade war between China and the United States, particularly because both countries had found other countries for their investment," he added. (bbn)
Jakarta It has not been all doom and gloom in the economy this year. Some sectors reported positive growth, particularly in the administration's infrastructure drive, tax revenue and the booming digital economy.
Natural and man-made disasters, however, overshadowed growth in tourism and the transportation sector.
The Jakarta Post looks at the ups and downs of 2018, and following is part two of the review, compiled by Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Norman Harsono, Rachmadea Aisyah, Riska Rahman, Riza Roidila Mufti, Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman and Winny Tang.
Despite the lower-than-expected realization as of November, the Finance Ministry's Directorate General of Taxation maintains its optimism over this year's target, thanks to better tax revenue growth.
Finance Ministry data show that as of November, tax revenue realization reached Rp 1.14 quadrillion, 16.77 percent more than last year and the highest growth recorded since 2012. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)
Although this year's tax revenue so far has reached only 94.87 percent of the estimate in the 2018 state budget, or Rp 1.35 quadrillion (US$93.09 billion), Taxation Director General Robert Pakpahan said this year's revenue would grow more than in previous years.
Finance Ministry data show that as of November, tax revenue realization reached Rp 1.14 quadrillion, 16.77 percent more than last year and the highest growth recorded since 2012.
Danny Darussalam Tax Center (DDTC) tax research partner Bawono Kristiaji said in a statement that this year's tax revenue double-digit growth was all thanks to the recovering economic situation in some sectors, particularly mining, coupled with a softer approach toward taxpayers and ongoing tax reform efforts made without drastic regulatory changes.
Despite the high growth, the lower tax collection in November means another Rp 110 trillion needs to be collected in the last month of the year, which could be hard to achieve given the relaxations introduced recently by the government
Taxation Directorate General tax revenue and compliance director Yon Arsal said the government decided in June to decrease small and medium enterprises' income tax from 1 percent to 0.5 percent in order to boost their growth and help their cash flow. Banks
Lenders recorded double-digit loan growth of 12.5 percent as of November, the same as the target set by the Financial Services Authority (OJK), although third-party funds grew only 7.19 percent year-on-year (yoy) in November, prompting concerns that banks' liquidity could be negatively affected.
Major lenders such as private lender Bank Central Asia (BCA) and state-owned banks Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), Bank Mandiri and Bank Tabungan Negara (BTN) all remain optimistic about booking double-digit credit growth by year-end.
In 2018, Indonesian banks faced the pressure of a gradual increase in Bank Indonesia's (BI) seven-day reverse repo rate. BI maintained its policy rate at 6 percent in December, despite the US Federal Reserve increasing its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to a range of 2.25 to 2.5 percent.
The increase in the BI rate prompted banks to raise their deposit rates. However, some banks have chosen to increase their lending rates slowly, considering clients' repayment capability. As a result of these conditions, banks' net interest margins (NIMs) slumped as a result of the rising cost of funds.
With declining NIM, banks focused on jacking up their fee-based income by expanding their digital banking, as well as boosting efficiency, to ensure that they could record satisfactory revenue in 2018.
Throughout 2018, the government finished several national strategic projects. As of November, 36 national strategic projects had been completed out of the total 223 listed, ranging from toll roads, airports and seaports to reservoirs.
As of October, the government had completed the development of 3,432 kilometers of national roads, 941 km of toll roads and bridges totaling 39.8 km in length.
The Public Works and Housing Ministry has also been is busy in post-disaster reconstruction efforts in West Nusa Tenggara and in Palu and Donggala in Central Sulawesi, with the construction of public facilities and temporary housing.
Earlier this month, President Jokowi inaugurated the trans-Java toll road, which connects the capital city of Jakarta to Surabaya, East Java, along a 741 km route.
The year 2018 has been tough for the Transportation Ministry, with several transportation accidents, including bus, airplane and boat accidents, such as the Lake Toba passenger vessel tragedy and the Lion Air JT160 plane crash.
Escalating friction between ride-hailing companies that have been meeting demands by their drivers led to a new regulation on online transportation services, which Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said he had signed and was awaiting review by the Law and Human Rights Ministry.
In air transportation infrastructure development, the construction of airports, including Tjilik Riwut Airport in Central Kalimantan and New Yogyakarta International Airport, recorded physical development of 65.36 percent as of October.
In sea transportation, ongoing construction, such as that of Makassar New Port, Kuala Tanjung Port, Kijing Terminal Port and Bitung International Port, recorded physical development of 81.09 percent.
The government also recorded 64.65 percent development in several ongoing railway projects, including routes Makassar-Pare Pare in Sulawesi, Bandar Tinggi-Kuala Tanjung in Sumatra, Rantau Prapat-Duri-Pekanbaru also in Sumatra and the southern Java double-track railway projects.
The government is likely to miss this year's target of attracting 17 million foreign tourists as only 13.24 million foreign arrivals were recorded as of October.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has predicted that the number of foreign arrivals might reach only 16.2 million by the end of the year. However, he was optimistic about reaching the target of 270 million domestic tourists this year.
Natural and man-made disasters have also slowed down tourism, especially since tragedy struck in some destinations dubbed the new Balis: Lake Toba, which saw a major boat accident, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara, which was rocked by earthquakes, and the latest, Tanjung Lesung in Banten, which was hit by a tsunami.
The surge in low-spending tourists, dubbed "zero dollar tourists", who travel to popular destinations like Bali on cheap packages, has also had a negative impact on the government reaching its tourism revenue target.
It's been a record year for Indonesia's digital economy as it grew to US$27 billion the highest in Southeast Asia from just $600 million three years ago, according to a Google report released last month.
The growth was spearheaded by the e-commerce sector, which accounted for 45 percent ($12.2 billion) of this year's digital economy, indicating an ever-increasing shift toward online spending.
Similarly, British consultancy P-PRO says that Indonesia's e-commerce market grew the most (78 percent) worldwide with a current value of $7.2 billion.
In line with the rise in online spending, a consortium of online retailers (such as Bukalapak, Lazada, JD.id and Shopee) secured a record high of Rp 6.8 trillion in transactions during the National Online Shopping Day (Harbolnas) festival earlier this month.
Trailing behind e-commerce, Indonesia's three other largest digital economy sectors this year were online travel ($8.6 billion), ride-hailing ($3.7 billion) and online media ($2.7 billion).
This year also saw many large technology companies expand their services to become "super-platforms" such as Go-Jek, which has expanded into its 15th submarket this year with the launch of its coupon market Go-Deals.
The growth of e-commerce and super platforms, in turn, spurred the growth of the financial technology (Fintech) sector, particularly e-payment platforms such as OVO, which currently supports two Southeast Asian unicorns: Grab and Tokopedia.
Afifan Ghalib Haryawan, Jakarta Indonesia is one out of three countries that has seen an increase in HIV/AIDS along with the Philippines and Russia. While the world trend is decreasing, Indonesia failed to reduce the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus and mitigate the harm.
Thus far, it has only managed to diagnose 47 percent of people living with HIV from an estimated 640,443 HIV positive cases; only 32 percent of people living with HIV received antiretroviral drugs from 301,959 diagnosed HIV positive cases and less than 1 percent of people living with HIV has been successfully treated and exhibited undetectable HIV in their blood.
This gap is immense compared with 90 percent of the target for each indicator as urged by the United Nations Agency on AIDS (UNAIDS), which aims to eliminate HIV as a public health threat by 2030.
Stigma and discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS remain strong in Indonesia. Such stigma elicits an irrational or fear-driven negative attitude, behavior, and judgment toward people living with HIV and those perceived to be living with HIV. Recently, students living with HIV in Samosir, North Sumatra, and Tulungagung, East Java, feared being expelled from their respective schools.
Such stigma and discrimination or fear of being stigmatized and discriminated against cause anxiety, depression, guilt, isolation, low self-esteem, disruption of family dynamics, physical and emotional violence, intensification of grief, and loss of social support.
Self-stigma bundled with discrimination prevent people from accessing education and information on preventive behavior, refute risk, refuse to test, not seeking health assistance, delay treatment, and not adhering to therapy. This health-avoiding behavior results in the increasing HIV rate of transmission, declining of patient's quality of life and a higher risk of AIDS-related death.
This year's World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, which was its 30th anniversary, addressed this issue with the theme "Know your Status". Those afraid of being stigmatized may avoid even testing, let alone seek treatment.
According to the Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) 2018, 65.2 percent of Indonesians have a poor understanding of HIV/AIDS. Misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS has contributed to public fear, stigma, and discrimination. People must understand that HIV/AIDS can be prevented and managed so that people living with HIV can live as healthily as normal people.
Health workers have the credibility to inform society and convince them to destigmatize HIV/AIDS. Thus, health facilities are pivotal to help put an end to stigmatization and discrimination. They must be strengthened to empower people living with HIV. There are three important messages for health workers to circulate in society.
First, with the advent of antiretroviral therapy, HIV is now a manageable disease. We can prevent HIV from becoming AIDS, a very dangerous late stage of the disease. AIDS-related deaths dropped dramatically from 11 per 100 persons per year in 1992 to 0.144 in 2006. HIV infection is no longer a death sentence as newer and safer drugs are available as the government provides free drugs to people living with HIV.
Second, HIV transmission can be prevented by abstinence from sex with a high-risk partner, using condoms, and avoiding communal syringes. Transmission from mother to child can also be prevented during pregnancy as long as the mother takes her daily pills.
Moreover, not all people who are HIV positive transmit the virus. Recent research shows that people living with HIV who take medication regularly and have undetected HIV in the blood (the virus is suppressed by the drug) do not transmit the disease.
Third, this disease is not dependent on morality. Most patients (28 percent) are housewife and her vertically infected children, medical staff accidentally punctured by needles from patient and blood transfusion recipients. Our stigma-producing society makes such people suffer more.
UNAIDS has identified that reducing stigma and discrimination is a critical part of the national HIV/AIDS program. Countries with low stigma and discrimination towards HIV/AIDS program have been more successful in their prevention and treatment program. As HIV infection rates are rising, Indonesia must destigmatize HIV/AIDS to reduce its transmission and HIV-related mortality in Indonesia.
Maire Leadbeater Vanuatu is leading the way in promoting a peaceful diplomatic solution for West Papua and plans to take a resolution to the UN General Assembly next year calling for the West Papua to be restored to the UN list of nations still to be decolonised. New Zealand could be a game changer by ending military ties and instead opting to support Vanuatu's principled diplomacy. There isn't much time to waste.
This December has seen a dangerous escalation of violence in West Papua, culminating in a major military operation in the remote Nduga region in the highlands. There are reports vehemently denied by the Indonesian military- that some kind of explosive has been used against the civilian population. Most disturbingly, Australia's 'The Saturday Paper' carried a story from Mark Davis and John Martinkus who had received photographs of unexploded shells and of victims with burns eating deep into their flesh. Experts who have seen the images believe it is possible that these wounds resulted from the use of some kind of chemical agent, possibly white phosphorous. Independent verification is impossible in the absence of independent observers or journalists.
On 2 December in the Nduga regency in the remote highlands, at least 16 Indonesian construction engineers were killed. The West Papua National Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the deaths, describing the workers as military personnel who were carrying out surveillance of the community while they built bridges on a controversial project the 4,300 km Trans Papua highway. The Indonesian Government's response was swift President Joko Widodo vowed that the road building project would continue, and crack police and military units were dispatched to track down the perpetrators. As soon as the military began its sweeping operation hundreds of local people fled to the surrounding forest where they risk illness and starvation.
In the last couple of decades the freedom movement has largely prioritised peaceful resistance and favoured diplomacy over armed struggle. But now a new cycle of violence seems set to overwhelm the voices proposing negotiation and peaceful resistance. Papuan Governor, Lucas Enembe, clearly regards the situation as critical. After meeting with Provincial Parliamentarians, tribal and Church leaders he took the unusual step of calling for the military to leave the Nduga area and for an independent local team to investigate the killings. Local military chief of information, Colonel Muhammad Aidi firmly rejected the call saying Enembe was ignoring his legal responsibility to uphold the integrity of the unitary state of Indonesia.
Two contextual factors stand out. First, the day before the attack over 500 peaceful demonstrators were arrested as they and their Indonesian supporters attempted to mark the 57th anniversary of the first and last date when their national Morning Star flag was raised in an officially sanctioned ceremony. Back in 1961 the Dutch colonial authority was preparing to hand over power to their indigenous subjects, but not long after Indonesia took control aided and abetted by western powers. When armed guerrilla resistance to Indonesian rule began in 1965 its leaders could see no alternative, their appeals to the UN having fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps some of today's youthful demonstrators are also starting to despair that peaceful resistance and diplomacy will ever bring change?
Second, the Trans Papua Highway represents environmental devastation on steroids. Set this alongside the growing evidence that the indigenous Papuan population is experiencing 'slow genocide' thanks in part to the corporate land grab that has disrupted traditional food harvesting. Researchers from James Cook University in Cairns have made a study of the Highway's likely impact on the remaining tracts of pristine tropical forest in West Papua. They point out that the route threatens peatlands and it opens the way for the spread of a forest pathogen, Phytophthora cinnamomi, Papua's kauri die back equivalent. It will also secure access to oil and gas extraction, mining and conversion of forests to food and biofuel/palm oil plantations. Development projects inevitably bring in migrants threatening the last bastions of traditional Papuan way of life with the impact of entrepreneurial newcomers.
New Zealand's role towards West Papua amounts to nothing less than betrayal. We went along with the crowd back in the 1960s when Indonesia annexed West Papua under the fig leaf of an Act of Free Choice a phoney act of self-determination since conclusively exposed as a coercive process. Our political leaders know that the Indonesian security forces have a free hand in West Papua and are almost never brought to account for their crimes. For example in December 2014, 4 schoolboys were killed by security forces in Paniai a fifth died of his injuries earlier this year. Despite official undertakings to take the case to the office of the General Attorney, none of the perpetrators have faced charges. Their grieving parents and leading Church and human rights figures have just released a new plea for justice in a film, in which Yones Douw, a peace and justice advocate with the Kingmi Church says that the nations who 'encourage and assist the Indonesian police and military are also implicated in their human rights violations.'
It is alarming that New Zealand's aid to Indonesia includes highly questionable support such as the supply of equipment to the para-military counter-terrorism unit: Detachment 88, a unit notorious in West Papua for its use in violent repression against Papuan civilians engaged in peaceful acts of free expression. For at least 10 years the New Zealand Government has given approval for the export to Indonesia of military aircraft parts including engines propellers and components for P 3 Orion, C 130 Hercules and CASA military aircraft. This is on top of bilateral officer exchanges and the regular participation of senior Indonesian military personnel at the six month NZ Defence Force Advanced Command and Staff Course.
Vanuatu is leading the way in promoting a peaceful diplomatic solution for West Papua and plans to take a resolution to the UN General Assembly next year calling for the West Papua to be restored to the UN list of nations still to be decolonised. New Zealand could be a game changer by ending military ties and instead opting to support Vanuatu's principled diplomacy. There isn't much time to waste.
Rob Attwell The recent killings highlight how Indonesia's attempts to use economic inducements to secure peace in Papua are failing.
In early December 2018, separatist militants killed about 20 people in the Nduga Regency of Indonesia's easternmost Papua Province. Those killed included at least 19 construction workers employed by a state-owned firm, PT Istaka Karya, which was engaged in various infrastructure development projects in the region, and one Indonesian soldier.
According to an eyewitness, who is reportedly a survivor of the massacre, the militants abducted 25 workers from their camp. The workers were marched for a short distance, and then shot. Four of the workers managed to escape by pretending to be dead. The others remain unaccounted for.
In the days following the massacre, the Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat (West Papua National Liberation Army, TPNPB), claimed responsibility for the incident. The TPNPB is an armed wing of the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (Free Papua Movement, OPM), an umbrella term referring to the disparate groups which comprise Papua's pro-independence movement.
The TPNPB alleged that the victims were Indonesian military personnel dressed in plainclothes rather than civilian construction workers, and demanded that the government pave the way for an independence referendum.
Support for independence from Indonesia is reportedly widespread among Papuans. For example, in a September 2017 independence referendum petition, which was rebuffed by the United Nations, around 70 percent of Papuans polled said they favored independence.
Papuan separatist groups have waged a low-intensity insurgency since at least 1969, when the region, which had previously been a Dutch colony, was formally incorporated into Indonesia. This was controversially accomplished through the Act of Free Choice, sarcastically dubbed the Act of No Choice by Papuan independence activists, in which the Indonesian military forced 1,026 tribal leaders to vote in favor of incorporation on behalf of the entire Papuan population.
Given this history, many Papuans see Indonesia as a foreign occupier. They also accuse the Indonesian authorities of committing widespread human rights abuses against the local population. According to activist groups at least 500,000 Papuans have been killed by security forces.
Prior to the massacre in Nduga, Indonesian authorities arrested some 537 Papuan protesters participating in countrywide December 1 rallies marking the 1961 West Papua congress, in which the pro-independence "morning star" flag was first raised.
Since coming to power in 2014, Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has arguably paid greater attention to improving relations between the Papuan community and central authorities than any of the country's previous leaders. His approach has primarily focused on economic inducements, including increasing funding for poverty alleviation to the extent that Papua receives a greater proportion of Indonesia's development budget than any of the country's other regions.
It has also included increased spending on infrastructure development projects. One of the most notable of these is the Trans Papua Highway, an ongoing road construction drive spanning some 4,325 kilometers across West Papua and Papua provinces. The 19 construction workers allegedly killed were building a bridge connected to the highway in Nduga.
Economic inducements are, however, unlikely to improve the security situation in Papua. Local opposition to Indonesian rule is fundamentally driven by the aforementioned historical and political factors. While undoubtedly welcome in Indonesia's poorest province, economic development will not make these long-standing grievances disappear. In fact, infrastructure development drives have been met with suspicion by separatist activists and militants alike.
The Trans Papua Highway, in particular, is seen by the OPM as an attempt to expand Indonesia's reach into remote regions in Papua's interior, which had previously been inaccessible due to the mountainous jungle terrain. In the wake of the massacre, the Indonesian military announced it would take control of construction projects due to security concerns in the region.
However, this seemingly validates the separatist opposition to these projects. It will be easier to characterize infrastructure development as part of a plot to expand Indonesian influence into remote areas if the security forces, which are already negatively perceived in Papua, are directly involved. As a result, despite Jokowi's economic inducements, instability will likely remain prevalent throughout the region.
John McBeth, Jakarta It's done. After two years of often fraught negotiations and a last-minute environmental hiccup the government and US mineral giant Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) have finally concluded an agreement effectively nationalizing Indonesia's most prized mining asset in the mountains of easternmost Papua.
Issuing subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) with a special mining permit (IUPK) to replace the firm's current contract of work was the last step towards state-owned PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) taking a 51.2% controlling interest in the Grasberg, one of the world's most profitable gold and copper mines.
Following a well-beaten path, FCX chairman Richard Adkerson flew in from his Phoenix, Arizona, headquarters to sign off on the country's most-watched business deal, an "historic moment" as President Joko Widodo called it, which at one point seemed destined for the arbitration court.
"Control" has always been the operative word because that's what it means for Indonesians who believe, rightly or wrongly, Freeport always had its way with president Suharto's New Order regime and was trying to do the same in the new post-1998 democratic era.
Haunted by its close association with Indonesia's authoritarian past, the firm earned the title of Corporate Enemy No 1 to a point where it could do nothing right, even when its combative chairman, Jim-Bob Moffett, stepped aside three years ago.
Constantly under the critical scrutiny of human rights and environmental activists and an irrationally hostile media, some of Freeport's Indonesian employees were even ostracized by their closest friends. It also became a target for vested interests and corrupt officials.
As much as it became an annoying distraction, Widodo was determined to deliver the Grasberg before next April's presidential elections with rival candidate Prabowo Subianto reviving his bombastic message that Indonesia has become a slave to foreign interests.
In Indonesia's efforts over the past decade to take ownership of all of its major mining and oil and gas assets, the goal has always been about sovereignty and national pride. Little has been said about the cost and the loss of revenues over the short and medium term.
It has now been 82 years since Dutch geologist Jean Jacques Dozy stumbled on the original Ertsberg deposit, a black promontory with tell-tale greenish coloring, while climbing Mt Carstensz, the country's highest peak in Papua's Central Highlands.
But it wasn't until 1960 that Freeport geologist Forbes Wilson found Dozy's report in a dusty Dutch archive and convinced his employers to mount an expedition into Papua's jungled interior to confirm the rocky outcrop was in fact a huge copper deposit, lying in the shadow of a rare equatorial glacier.
Seven years later, much to Suharto's gratitude, the then New Orleans-based company became Indonesia's first big foreign investor, eventually exhausting the Ertsberg and then discovering the nearby Grasberg as it was preparing to pull out in 1988.
With Suharto's downfall in 1998 came calls for the government to take a harder line with Freeport, something the firm failed to recognize until it initiated talks for a contract renewal and discovered it had few friends left and a lot less influence in high places.
In the end, Inalum paid a bargain-basement US$3.8 billion to raise the government's stake from 9.36% to 51.23% stake in a deal concluded last July, securing the money through a global bond issue after a consortium of 11 foreign banks backed out, reportedly because of an issue over guarantees.
Bankers believe Inalum had begun looking at a bond issue months beforehand, but president-director Budi Gunadi Sadikin explained the turn-around by noting that the syndicated loan was costlier and would have involved the payment of a principal installment.
While it may have a majority stake, just how much actual control Inalum will enjoy is still in question. The American parent will continue to run the mining operation itself, now in the throes of conversion from an open pit to a vast underground venture that will still be producing late into the century.
But little has been said about publicly about who will wield managerial control, once described by Adkerson as a deal-breaker because of concerns over potential breaches of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which applies to all US firms abroad.
In what appears to be a favored outcome for Freeport's parent, former PTFI executive director Tony Wenas becomes president-director at the head of a board which also comprises current members Achmad Ardianto and Robert Schroeder and PTFI's chief operating officer Mark Johnson.
Two other Indonesians on the board are Orias Petrus Moedak, Inalum's chief financial officer, and Jenpino Ngabdi, the well-regarded president director of state-owned Danareksa Securities, who is wired into the market network of investment and corporate bankers.
The new board of commissioners includes Adkerson, FCX chief financial officer Kathleen Quirk, ex-PTFI boss Adrianto Machribie, former Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK) vice-chairman Amien Sunaryadi, now also chairman of oil and gas regulator SKK Migas, and Hinsa Siburian, a retired general and former head of the Papua regional command.
Siburian, 59, is an interesting choice given his close relations with chief maritime minister and presidential adviser Luhut Panjaitan, who took a hard line towards Freeport and at one point told this correspondent: "Why don't we just wait till 2021 and the mine will be ours."
Both are Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) officers and both are native bataks from North Sumatra. Siburian started his military career as a sergeant, before being accepted for the armed forces academy and emerging top of his class in 1986.
Now that PTFI is under effective Indonesian control, it will likely come in for close scrutiny from the tough-minded State Audit Agency (BPK), which may look askance at the annual $23 million payment made last year to the police and military guarding the mine.
Security Exchange Commission (SEC) filings show the "supplemental income" covers infrastructure costs, food, fuel, travel, vehicle repairs, community programs and other incidentals like phone cards, but the BPK will point out it is not an expense incurred by other state enterprises. Freeport has had an Indonesian president-director since 1973, but the position had been vacant since the eighth incumbent, retired air force chief Chappy Hakim, resigned in early 2017 after only three months in the job, unable to deal with conflicted loyalties.
Others have run into problems too. The sixth president-director, respected former public works minister Rozik Soetjipto, who held the position between 2012 and 2015, became increasingly irritated at having to report to Phoenix on even minor issues.
Moffett, for his part, was annoyed at Soetjipto for failing to defend Freeport against the government in the Indonesian media, although it would have been a losing battle given the uncompromising attitude of most Indonesian journalists.
As it was, Soetjipto's successor, former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy director Maroef Sjamsoeddin, lasted barely a year after he was hand-picked by Moffett in the belief he could make things happen in getting Freeport's contract extended beyond 2021. He resigned in January 2017 after clandestinely taping a conversation with parliament speaker Setya Novanto and oil kingpin Riza Chalid in which the pair used the President Widodo's name to seek a payoff for the contract renewal.
The so-called "Papa Wants Shares" scandal died away, but while Chalid emerged unscathed, Novanto was subsequently sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment last April for taking millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes in the roll out of the Government's electronic identity card program.
Marouf is the younger brother of ex-deputy defense minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, a partner in long-time Suharto confidante Bob Hasan's PT Harmoni Sinergi, a company which provides catering and security services at the Grasberg mine.
Inalum's new management will likely want to review the contracts held by Harmoni Sinergi and other firms, some also owned by political heavy-hitters, who handle about 75% of the annual US$1.35 billion in supplies that come from domestic sources.
It will also have to accept ultimate responsibility for safe-guarding the Grasberg, where armored buses still transport Freeport workers to the high-altitude Tembagapura mining camp because of frequent sniper attacks by suspected Free Papua Movement rebels.
Then there are contentious environmental issues, including the Environment Ministry's demands that Freeport change the way it has been managing its tailings, or rock waste something the US owners have been heavily criticized for in the past and which will now become an Inalum problem.
Raised during the final phase of the talks, it proved to be a difficult sticking point, drawing the environment and energy and mineral resources ministries into a row that caught the attention of nationalist politicians and severely tested Widodo's patience.
Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar is a member of the ninth-ranked National Democratic Party (Nasdem) of media tycoon Surya Paloh, whose rocky relationship with Widodo threatens to sow discord into his six-party ruling coalition ahead of the elections.
In the end, the US firm agreed to pay US$31.8 million for environmental damage incurred between 2008 and 2013, a long way from the extraordinary US$13 billion the BPK initially claimed the company owed in so-called "losses to the state."
Under its new owners, Freeport Indonesia will have to come up with an extended roadmap to improve or change the management of an eventual three billion tonnes of riverine tailings across a lowland deposition area covering 230 square kilometers.
Keeping Freeport's house in order will remain a challenge. Only recently, the president warned Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, another Paloh ally, about allowing private interests to secure back-door control of the 10% stake the province will have in the newly-restructured venture.
It was a telling reminder of the unhappy bees who missed out on getting a share in the deal of the century and continue to circle the honey pot. It may well be that the final chapters in the rich history of the Grasberg have yet to be written.