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Indonesia News Digest 5 – February 1-7, 2018

Actions, demos, protests... West Papua Aceh Military ties Human rights & justice Criminalisation & political violence Labour & migrant workers Freedom of information & the press Democracy & civil rights Environment & natural disasters LGBT & same-sex marriage Corruption & abuse of power Freedom of religion & worship Jakarta & urban life Retail & service industry Armed forces & defense Criminal justice & legal system Free trade & neoliberalism Mining & energy Economy & investment Analysis & opinion

Actions, demos, protests...

UI students 'issues' yellow card to President Jokowi during visit in

Coconuts Jakarta - February 2, 2018

President Joko Widodo was a guest of honor at a celebration of the 68th anniversary of Universitas Indonesia (UI) this morning, but the event will perhaps be best remembered for one student's daring act.

Today, a video has gone viral showing a UI student, who was in the attendance hall where Jokowi had just finished a speech, stand and hold up a yellow card for the president exactly like a soccer referee would to caution a player. Members of the president's security detail (Paspampres) then ushered the student out of the hall after he refused to back down.

The student was later identified as Zaadit Taqwa, chairman of the UI Student Executive Council (BEM). He has not responded to Coconuts' request for comment, but earlier this afternoon BEM posted a video explaining that Zaadit "issued" Jokowi a yellow card to symbolize some students' displeasure with the president's recent handling of several key recent issues, including the measles and malnutrition outbreak in the Asmat district of Papua, where around 100 children are feared to have died.

Zaadit did not report being physically harmed by Paspampres when he was ushered out. Johan Budi, the president's spokesperson, said Jokowi did not mind the symbolic criticism against him by Zaadit.

"In regards to this action, President Jokowi wasn't bothered, he didn't feel insulted," he said, as quoted by Kompas. However, the yellow card derailed plans for Jokowi's meeting with BEM, which was scheduled for after the speech.

Following the incident, the term "Kartu Kuning" (yellow card) became a trending topic on social media, with many praising Zaadit's non-violent protest method and hoping that his act will inspire others speak up if they want to give the government some constructive criticism.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/viral-universitas-indonesia-student-issues-yellow-card-president-jokowi-visit-peaceful-protest/

Protesters wear Jokowi masks to demand heritage protection

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2018

Jakarta – The Depok Heritage Community in West Java staged a rally on Friday, to demand President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo turn the 300-year-old Rumah Cimanggis building in the region into a museum, instead of demolishing it to make way for the construction of the Indonesia International Islamic University (UIII) campus.

The community members wore masks of Jokowi's likeness while holding signs that read "#SafeRumahCimanggis, turn it into Rumah Cimanggis Museum" during the protest at the University of Indonesia (UI) campus, where the President was attending the university's 68th anniversary commemoration on Friday.

Historian JJ Rizal said the President needed to be reminded that one of the country's priceless assets was under threat. The Rumah Cimanggis mansion was built between 1771 and 1775, and was the vacation home of governor general Petrus Albertus van der Parra of the Dutch East India Company (VOC).

Rizal urged the government to comply with Law No. 11/2010 on cultural property, which stipulates that every cultural heritage building must be preserved. The law also states that buildings older than 50 years can be classified as cultural heritage sites.

"The government is responsible for protecting cultural heritage buildings," Rizal said in a statement.

Expert on cultural heritage, Bambang Eryudhawan, said the planned demolition was not only a local Depok problem, but reflected the government's negligence concerning the protection of historical sites throughout the archipelago.

At present, the planned demolition of the dilapidated mansion has been halted amid mounting protests from several parties. (vny)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/02/protesters-wear-jokowi-masks-to-demand-heritage-protection.html

West Papua

UN human rights chief to examine rights abuses in Papua

Jakarta Globe - February 7, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – The United Nations high commissioner for human rights said on Wednesday (07/02) that he will send a mission to Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua, following reports of abuses against its indigenous population.

"I am also concerned about reports of excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua," Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein told reporters in Jakarta during his three-day visit to Indonesia.

He added that the Indonesian government has extended an invitation to the UN to visit Papua – the country's poorest region.

"I think it's important for us to go and see ourselves what is happening there... and I hope we can do this as soon as possible," Al-Hussein said.

Accounts of rights violations in Papua have prompted concerns from activists and the larger international community. The government was earlier accused of restricting access for foreign correspondents to the region.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration has prioritized development in Papua through massive infrastructure projects aimed at boosting the province's economic growth.

More recently, dozens of Papuans – mostly children – died from malnutrition-related diseases in the province's Asmat district. The health crisis has led to allegations that the government's focus on development in the region does not serve the welfare of its population.

"They [the UN] can visit Papua. I told them that if they find faults, we will take action [to address them]," Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said after his meeting with Al-Hussein on Tuesday.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/un-human-rights-chief-examine-rights-abuses-papua/

Papua health crisis prompts international scrutiny, internal review

Voice of America - February 7, 2018

Krithika Varagur, Jakarta – Twin crises of measles and malnutrition have recently afflicted Indonesia's easternmost province, Papua, inciting foreign and media scrutiny as well as internal review from the Indonesian government.

Papua is an impoverished but mineral-rich province with a history of separatist struggle, which has been quashed for decades by the Indonesian military. This week, the nation's health ministry declared both crises to be under control, but 72 people have already died in Asmat regency.

In wake of the outbreaks, finance minister Sri Mulyani said that special autonomy funding for the province would be reevaluated. Per a 2001 law, the sometimes-contested provinces of Aceh, Papua, and West Papua were authorized to receive twenty years of special funding from the national budget. But Mulyani said the public health issues showed that the money was not being used well.

"This is a lesson for us, because throughout this time the special autonomy funds have been disbursed as a block grant to the provincial government – even though special autonomy has specific purposes," she said last week.

Measles is preventable with a vaccine, and is actually covered by Indonesia's national vaccination program for children. So the afflicted children in Asmat constitute an oversight. About 650 children there still have measles and at least 223 suffer from malnutrition according to the health ministry website. Papua has long lagged behind Indonesia on nearly every public health valence, with the country's lowest life expectancy and highest infant, child, and maternal mortality rates.

Press freedom

Social issues in Papua are doubly hard to address because of constrained press freedom there. Last week, a BBC reporter, Rebecca Henschke, who went to report from Asmat, was detained by the military and local immigration after she tweeted photos of the food aid being delivered to malnourished children: biscuits, instant noodles. The military claimed the tweets were inaccurate and after being subjected to two days of questioning, Henschke and her team decided to return to Jakarta.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced when he came to office that journalists should feel free to travel to and report from Papua, but in practice, the likelihood of harassment and surveillance like the Henschke incident remain high.

"The current system pressures journalists to limit reporting on Papua, and signals to the military and police that journalists can be interfered with," wrote Andreas Harsono, of Human Rights Watch Indonesia.

"President Jokowi should insist on the implementation of his decision to end restrictions on access to Papua. He should also prohibit the security forces from arresting journalists for doing their jobs. After all, the government could simply have responded to Henschke with a clarifying tweet or statement, as opposed to detaining and questioning her."

Reevaluating Papua

The finance minister's statement indicates publicity from the widely declaimed crises may have potential to harness public opinion to effect changes in Papua.

"Of course" these events will bring the social problems in Papua to greater light, said Harsono. Public pressure can work to impact government policy, he said, "but it should be bigger and longer than what it currently is." He mentioned a 2005 malnutrition crisis in Yahukimo, Papua that received a degree of public attention. "Today, at least 14 regencies still have similar problems, malnutrition and low vaccination rates."

Ruth Ogetay, a sometime Papuan activist who works as a nurse in Jakarta, was less hopeful. "This is not going to bring any social changes to Papua."

There are many structural issues with public health in the province, like a critical shortage of doctors in Asmat since the regency was established 15 years ago. But addressing such issues has taken a backseat to controlling protests and riots, particularly around the mines run by the American corporation Freeport-Mcmoran. The company runs the world's largest gold mine, Grasberg, near Timika regency, and its work sites have attracted unrest since Indonesia announced plans to nationalize its resources last year.

Just last week, Indonesian police fatally shot a 61-year-old woman in Mimika near a Freeport-Mcmoran cargo dock. Thus if any improvements to social services are made going forward, they will have to accommodate such a highly charged political climate.

Source: https://www.voanews.com/a/papua-new-guinea-health-crisis/4242728.html

Indonesia issues new palm oil permits in Papua provinces

Radio New Zealand International - February 7, 2018

Authorities in Indonesia have issued four new palm oil permits in its Papua provinces despite a moratorium on palm oil expansion declared by president Joko Widodo in 2016.

Tabloid Jubi reported the permits cover a combined area larger than 400 square kilometres. It said major parts of these areas were still covered in pristine rainforests.

The permits were facilitated by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry which claimed they were agreed to in principle by the previous administration in 2013 and 2014.

The four permits were issued between July and November last year by the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) more than a year after President Jokowi announced the moratorium on palm oil expansion in mid-April 2016.

However, the environment ministry's new director of forestry Sigit Hardwinarto says although it was legally obligated to issue of the permits it has placed on hold more than 1.5 million hectares of land for further development.

Professor Hardwinarto said this was the most effective strategy available to the ministry while it searches for a legal basis to support the president's moratorium on any further palm oil expansion.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/349845/indonesia-issues-new-palm-oil-permits-in-papua-provinces

BBC correspondent detained in Indonesia now freed

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - February 6, 2018

Andreas Harsono – Last week, Indonesian authorities arrested a BBC correspondent for tweets she made while reporting from Papua. The journalist, Rebecca Henschke, was questioned for a total of 17 hours by immigration and military officials before being freed.

Henschke, based in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, went to Papua to report on both the measles outbreak, which has killed roughly 100 indigenous Papuan children, and on how logging and deforestation have destroyed forests where the staple food, sago palm, grows, leading Papuans to eat more instant noodles and cookies. She had a travel permit, a requirement for foreign journalists traveling to Papua.

She was arrested the day she arrived, February 1, after tweeting a photo of supplies on a river dock, writing, "aid coming in for severely malnourished children in Papua – instant noodles, super sweet soft drinks, and biscuits." Another tweet said, "Children in hospital eating chocolate biscuits and that's it."

The military detained Henschke because those tweets "hurt the feelings" of the soldiers, Indonesian military spokesman Col. Muhammad Aidi said, adding that, "[The food and drink] that she took the picture of at the speedboat pier are not donations or aid. It was merchandise from merchants that was incidentally there."

Police and immigration officials questioned Henschke in her hotel for five hours. The following day they transferred Henschke to the local mining town of Timika, where she was questioned for 12 hours at the immigration office. Immigration authorities found all her documents in order, and she and her team – journalist Heyder Affan and cameraman Dwiki Marta – were told they could continue their trip. Deciding they'd had enough, the team returned to Jakarta.

All this could have been avoided if Indonesia had implemented President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's 2015 policy that the government lift restrictions on foreign journalists reporting from Papua. The current system pressures journalists to limit reporting on Papua, and signals to the military and police that journalists can be interfered with.

President Jokowi should insist on the implementation of his decision to end restrictions on access to Papua. He should also prohibit the security forces from arresting journalists for doing their jobs. After all, the government could simply have responded to Henschke with a clarifying tweet or statement, as opposed to detaining and questioning her.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/02/06/bbc-correspondent-detained-indonesia-now-freed

Deadly measles outbreak in Papua under control, says govt

Radio New Zealand International - February 6, 2018

Indonesia's government representatives say the deadly measles outbreak in Papua province has been brought under control.

The outbreak killed scores of children in remote Asmat district of Papua province in parallel with soraing malnutrition.

The AFP reports that official figures show a total of 72 children died of measles and hundreds were sickened as a result of the outbreak since last September.

District authorities say no new measles cases had been identified following the deployment of military and medical teams to the region last month.

Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Health, the measles and malnutrition and measles crisis was under control.

In a statement it said around 650 children had contracted measles and at least 223 were suffering from malnutrition. More than 17,300 children have been immunized, the statement reported.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/349796/deadly-measles-outbreak-in-papua-under-control-says-govt

West Papua movement confident of PNG support for membership bid

Radio New Zealand International - February 5, 2018

The executive of the Vanuatu based United Liberation Movement of West Papua says it is confident the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea will vote for West Papua to become a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group at its meeting in Port Moresby next week.

The movement's spokesman Jacob Rumbiak says members of the executive expect Peter O'Neil's support because he assured them he would vote for them when they became united.

Mr Rumbiak says not only is the movement 100 per cent unified and united but has made headway by appointing legislative and judiciary committees and created job descriptions for committee posts.

Mr Rumbiak told the Vanuatu Daily Post that West Papuans are Melanesians and are also Mr O'Neil's fellow citizens because they come from the island of New Guinea.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/349728/west-papua-movement-confident-of-png-support-for-membership-bid

BBC journalist expulsion from Asmat threatens press freedom

Tempo - February 5, 2018

Jakarta – Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, Usman Hamid, said that the expulsion of BBC journalists and contributors who were doing coverage about health crisis in Asmat, Papua, was an attack on press freedom.

They are Rebecca Henschke, an Australian journalist, and two contributors, Dwiki and Affan, Indonesian citizens.

"The expulsion of these media workers is clearly a violation of rights to the freedom of expression," said Usman Hamid, on Sunday, February 4.

"So embarrassing, BBC staff members were asked to leave Papua just because of a tweet that expresses their opinions on how authorities are handling health crisis in Asmat," he said.

According to Usman, the international coverage of the measles and malnutrition epidemic in Asmat, which had killed at least 71 children so far, is very important for the world. "The world needs to know about it; the authorities should accept that as a criticism and input," he said.

According to the information compiled by the Advocacy Alliance of the Indonesia Independent Journalist (AJI), the three BBC journalists were initially questioned by police in Agats.

After being questioned on Friday, February 2, Dwiki flew to Jakarta. Affan and Rebecca were examined at Mimika Immigration until Saturday, February 3.

After the examination, Rebecca and Affan could not continue the coverage. Both were escorted by security forces to Timika Airport.

AJI regretted that the tweet was the basis for blocking journalist coverage activity. AJI Advocacy Chairman, Hesthi Murthi, said that the case also showed that the state apparatus did not understand the function of the press as a tool of social control, as mentioned in Law No. 40/1999 on Press.

"Criticisms submitted by the media based on facts on the ground should be addressed wisely as inputs, rather than being used as a pretext to restrict access to journalists," he said.

– Dewi Nurita

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/05/055915467/BBC-Journalist-Expulsion-from-Asmat-Threatens-Press-Freedom

Indonesia police kill Papua woman, clash claim disputed

Associated Press - February 5, 2018

Niniek Karmini, Jakarta – Indonesian paramilitary police fatally shot a woman in what they said was a clash with stone-throwing villagers in the troubled Papua region, but a relative of the victim disputed their account of events.

Police said in a statement Monday that the 61-year-old woman was among villagers who intervened to help an 18-year-old man who jumped out of a boat to escape custody after being detained on suspicion of theft.

The statement said police fired warning shots during the clash with villagers on Saturday. The woman died from a gunshot to the head, police said. A cousin of the dead woman said that there was no clash and that she was shot as an innocent bystander when police fired on the escaping suspect.

In a separate statement, Papua police spokesman Ahmad Kamal said seven officers were being questioned by the police internal affairs unit in connection with the incident.

Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the impoverished region, which Indonesia annexed more than half a century ago.

Police said the 18-year-old was one of three people suspected of stealing ore concentrate in Mimika district from the cargo dock of U.S. mining company Freeport-McMoRan, which operates the giant Grasberg gold and copper mine in Papua, and was captured after a hunt by police, security guards and navy officers.

The handcuffed man jumped out of the speedboat he was being transported in on Saturday evening and villagers from a nearby island came to his aid and prevented him from being apprehended again, according to police.

Cornelia Emakefaro, the cousin of the victim, said the woman and her husband were in a small boat on an errand to fetch fresh water when the woman was hit by police gunfire after the theft suspect jumped into the water.

"Based on information from my cousin's husband as the only witness and the village head, there was no attack from villagers to the officers," Emakefaro said. "We understand they are carrying out the task of catching suspects who may have been involved in the theft, but they are not entitled to shoot people like chasing game animals."

In September, Indonesian police demoted two officers who fired at a crowd of protesting Papuan villagers, killing one man, in a decision that rights groups said was too lenient and showed a chronic lack of accountability for abuses in Papua.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/indonesia-police-kill-papua-woman-clash-claim-disputed-52840885

AJI slams 'expulsion' of BBC journalists from Papua

Jakarta Post - February 3, 2018

Jakarta – The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has criticized the government for banning three BBC Indonesia journalists from reporting on a measles and malnutrition outbreak in Papua because of the tweets posted by one of them.

Australian journalist reporting for BBC Indonesia, Rebecca Henschke, was told to leave Papua after she posted several tweets criticizing the provision of aid. She posted a picture, showing boxes of food and drinks on a dock, captioned "This is the aid coming in for severely malnourished children in Papua- instant noodles, super sweet soft drinks and biscuits."

The Indonesian Military (TNI), which is taking part in the health mission in Asmat, claimed that "what she wrote did not reflect the truth. In the photo, [the food and drinks] were not humanitarian aid, but products sold by merchants and accidentally placed [on the dock]."

Immigration Directorate General spokesperson Agung Sampurno said in his written statement Henschke's tweets were offensive not only to the government but also to Indonesian people, as well as marring to journalism as a profession.

The AJI said that Henschke and her two co-reporters, Dwiki and Affan, were investigated by the police because of the tweets on Friday, and banned from reporting in Papua since then. The three of them were sent back to Jakarta.

"We condemn the expulsion of the BBC journalists. The incident shows that the government is afraid of foreign reporting of the conditions in Papua," AJI chairman Abdul Manan said on Saturday.

He said he regretted the fact that the Twitter posts were cited as the reason for expelling the journalists from Papua and not administrative violations.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, he said, had repeatedly stated his commitment to open Papua for foreign journalists. "[This] shows the government is not serious about its promise to open journalistic access to Papua." (gis/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/03/aji-slams-expulsion-of-bbc-journalists-from-papua.html

BBC journalist told to leave Papua over tweets about health crisis

Straits Times - February 3, 2018

Jakarta – A foreign journalist covering the health crisis in Asmat, Papua, was forced to leave the region after the Indonesian Military (TNI) objected to a series of tweets she had posted about the health emergency in the remote regency.

Rebecca Henschke, an editor at BBC Indonesia, the local arm of London-Based BBC News, was reportedly forced on Friday (Feb 2) to end her reporting about the recent measles outbreak and widespread malnutrition in Asmat.

The move came following a police report filed by TNI personnel who were part of the health mission and allegedly felt offended by Henschke's comments on Twitter.

Cendrawasih Military District Command spokesman Lt. Col. M. Aidi claimed that several posts made by Henschke on her Twitter account were misleading and did not reflect the current situation in Asmat.

Henschke posted on Wednesday a picture showing boxes of food and drinks on a dock. It was captioned: "This is the aid coming in for severely malnourished children in Papua – instant noodles, super sweet soft drinks and biscuits."

Responding to the post, Aidi claimed in a statement released on Friday that "what she wrote did not reflect the truth. In the photo, (the food and drinks) are not humanitarian aid, but products sold by merchants and were accidentally placed (on the dock)."

In another tweet, he added, Henschke said that malnourished children had only been given chocolate biscuits. The tweet he was referring to was also posted on Wednesday and read: "Children in hospital eating chocolate biscuits and that's it."

Henschke has since revised the caption to her earlier photo, posting on Thursday: "Adding important NOTE: Other sources say this is NOT aid but normal supplies. Huge relief effort underway here."

Still, after receiving the report from the TNI, Asmat Resort Police summoned Henschke for an interview and she was subsequently returned to Timika for questioning by immigration officials.

Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. AM Kamal said his officers told Henschke that her posts had created a "negative impression" of TNI personnel working to contain the measles outbreak.

Tembagapura Immigration head Jesaya Samuel Henock confirmed that his office had questioned Rebecca over claims she had caused a disturbance and violated prevailing regulations.

The recent measles outbreak and widespread malnutrition in Asmat, which has killed at least 71 children, has grabbed national and global media headlines.

Despite President Joko Widodo's decision on May 2015 to open foreign media access to Papua, authorities have reportedly continued to restrict foreign journalists from working in Indonesia's easternmost province on spurious "security" grounds, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) chairman Abdul Manan slammed the military's actions, arguing that its personnel should have provided corrections instead of obstructing journalist from carrying out their jobs.

"The government should provide wide access for both national and foreign media to produce more independent reports about the situation in Asmat," he said.

Responding to the incident, a BBC spokesman in London acknowledged the presence of a BBC correspondent and producer in Papua, adding that it was "currently working to establish their current situation with regard to the Indonesian authorities.

– Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/bbc-journalist-told-to-leave-papua-over-tweets-about-health-crisis

Australian journalist thrown out of Papua for 'hurting soldiers'

ABC Radio Australia - February 3, 2018

Adam Harvey – An Australian journalist has been expelled from the Indonesian province of Papua after her tweets angered the military.

Authorities said BBC Indonesia bureau chief Rebecca Henschke was escorted out of the province after her social media posts "hurt the feelings of soldiers".

Foreign reporters are not normally allowed into Papua because of Indonesia's sensitivity about the independence movement there, but restrictions have been loosened to allow coverage of a measles and malnutrition crisis that has killed scores of children near the town of Agats.

Henschke and a BBC TV news crew had permission to report on the crisis but she was detained and questioned after she posted several tweets from Papua.

One of the tweets shows a photo of supplies sitting on a dock and says, "This is the aid coming in for severely malnourished children in Papua – instant noodles, super sweet soft drinks and biscuits."

Another tweet says "children in hospital eating chocolate biscuits and that's it".

Henschke was questioned by military intelligence and police for five hours on Thursday afternoon. She was then held by immigration officers for 24 hours before being escorted out of Papua this morning. The BBC crew are now back in Jakarta.

"The tweet is not in line with the truth," said the spokesman of the military in Papua, Colonel Muhammad Aidi. "What was captured in the photo of the speedboat dock is the supplies from merchants who happened to be in that place," he said.

Those tweets remain up on Henschke's account. She deleted another tweet that showed a photo of soldiers with a caged young bird.

Colonel Aidi said the military objected to that tweet because it implied the soldiers were involved in an illegal wildlife purchase. "The soldiers were looking at the birds that were offered to them," he said.

"How come Rebecca wrote and uploaded the picture like that? This is defamation; someone's picture was taken secretly then distributed to media with information that is not in line with the truth."

Colonel Aidi said it was because of this tweet that Henschke was questioned by Asmat police department. "For further investigation Rebecca will be taken to Timika to be questioned by immigration," he said.

Henschke, 37, is originally from Armidale in NSW. She has been reporting from Indonesia for 12 years.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2018-02-03/australian-journalist-thrown-out-of-papua-for-hurting-soldiers-feelings-amid-malnutrition-crisis/1733554

Measles outbreak in Papua's Asmat stopped: TNI

Jakarta Globe - February 2, 2018

Telly Nathalia, Jakarta – Military chief Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto on Thursday (01/02) said a devastating measles outbreak that affected 600 children in Asmat, Papua, has ended, though health services will still be provided to anyone afflicted with the infection.

Hadi visited Asmat with other ranking Indonesian Military (TNI) officials. TNI will install satellite stations and provide satellite phones to bolster communication between medical workers in the area and military headquarters in Jakarta.

"I am thankful that the measles outbreak that affected 600 children has ended today [...] 13,336 children have been vaccinated by the military's medical task force," Hadi said in a statement.

TNI will continue providing medical aid to residents in 224 villages in Asmat. "We will continue to provide medical services to people in Asmat," he concluded.

The military first sent medical workers to Asmat on Jan. 17. Many children in that district also suffer from malnourishment. More than 70 children have died due to measles in Asmat since the outbreak first spread.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/measles-outbreak-papuas-asmat-stopped-tni/

Local Papuan political parties 'ran aground' in Jakarta

Tabloid JUBI - February 2, 2018

Jayapura, Jubi – Special Autonomy (Otsus) Papua will be ended in 2021, but one of the mandates of Special Autonomy Law, namely the formation of local parties, has not been implemented.

Several years ago, indigenous Papuans formed local political parties. Papua Legislative Assembly (DPR) then issued a special regional regulation (Perdasus) of local political parties. However, the effort was foundered in the hands of central government in Jakarta.

The Minister of Law and Human Rights annulled the decree of local political party, Partai Papua Bersatu. The Minister of Home Affairs also rejected the Perdasus of local political parties, for no apparent reason.

"If there is anything that needs to be fixed in the Perdasus, it should be submitted to us. Sitting with us to discuss that," said Papua legislator in charge on legislation body, Natan Pahabol to Jubi.

The Papuan House of Representatives will invite Papuan People's Assembly (MRP), as a cultural institution, to jointly promote the recognition of Perdasus and the presence of local political parties in Papua, before the end of Otsus.

"At that time we went alone because MRP members have not been inaugurated. In the future, we will invite them to coordinate with Domestic Affairs Ministry (Kemendagri), to discuss which articles or paragraphs in the Perdasus need to be revised," said Natan.

If necessary, the Papuan Legislative Assembly will present to the ministry the intention and purpose of forming a local political party in Papua, as it is permitted under the Special Autonomy Law.

"Local political parties need to be formed immediately to accommodate the rights of indigenous Papuans. There is no reason for the central government against it, because it is mandated by the Special Autonomy Law, we do not ask for anything else," he said.

Political 'dowries' to political parties

In the midst of the chaotic nomination of regional heads in Papua, when 'political dowries' favored wealthy candidates cannot be avoided, the existence of local political parties is considered necessary.

The so-called local political parties can be the solution to break political transaction links, which are carried out by members of national party at the central board level.

"If we only hope that national political party, whose decision is on the party's in Jakarta, it is difficult to bring out a figure that is really supported by public, since the recommendation of political party support will lead to 'political dowry'," he said.

"That is bad for democracy and deadly for its potential for the region. There are candidates who really supported by the community, but because of dowry, he did not pass it," he continued.

The existence of local political parties and its Perdasus, are not only rejected by the central government, but also still debated in Papua itself. There are parties who approve the formation of local political parties. However, some are judged to have no permanent legal force.

The mandate of Chapter VII article 28 paragraph 1 in the Special Autonomy Law of Papua said, indigenous Papuans are entitled to establish a political party, not a local political party, so it is not strong enough to be used as a legal reference for the establishment of local political parties.

It need further legal guidance or judicial review to the Constitutional Court (MK), to get a legal certainty of article 28 paragraph 1 in Papua Special Autonomy Law, to avoid multi-interpretation.

From the institutional side, the Papua Election Commission supports the existence of local political parties, even this institution will fight for special KPU Regulation (PKPU), if local political party in Papua have got legal recognition.

"We often discuss the issue of these local political parties at the national level. We have even visited Aceh to see how the local political parties in the province," said Chairman of KPU Papua, Adam Arisoi.

Adam agrees the need for further legal advice on the establishment of political parties in Special Autonomy Law, as it is not specified.

"This is a broad explanation, so it needs further legal guidance, because it could be a national political party but domiciled in Papua," he said.

Papua United Party

That is why the efforts of local political parties, Partai Papua Bersatu (Papua United Party) to register as one of the election participants to the Election Commission of Papua, in October 2017 ran aground. KPU does not want to take risks because there is no clear legal umbrella.

"In principle we accept that. But please respect the institution, because we have rules. If it is said that the local political party is legal, we will not refuse," he said.

The reason KPU Papua could not accommodate local political parties is understandable. In order to perform its duties and functions, KPU refers to the mechanisms in its law and PKPU. A political party is in the Law Number 7 Year 2017 on General Election.

The existence of local Papuan political parties is different from Aceh. Local political parties in 'Serambi Mecca' Aceh were recognized by the state because one part of the Helsinki agreement, 2005, said so. They even have three legal forces, which are accommodated by laws, government regulations, and provincial regulations.

Chairman of the Partai Papua Bersatu, Kris Fonataba said that his party established local political parties several years ago, to implement the amendment of the 1945 Constitution and Chapter VII article 28 paragraph 1 of the Special Autonomy Law of Papua, which calls indigenous Papuans entitled to establish a political party.

"We already have 29 regional chapters in 29 districts and cities in Papua. The existence of this local party is an implementation of the Special Autonomy Law," said Fonataba. (tabloidjubi.com/Zely)

Source: http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/local-papuan-political-parties-ran-aground-jakarta/


Police investigating authorities in Aceh who publicly shamed transgender

Agence France Presse - February 5, 2018

Indonesian police said Sunday they would press ahead with an investigation into officers accused of publicly shaming transgender people in conservative Aceh province despite an angry protest against the probe.

North Aceh police chief Ahmad Untung Surianata and several of his subordinates have been questioned by the police internal affairs unit following raids on beauticians' premises in which 12 transgender staff were detained.

Officers were said to have forcibly cut the hair of some of them and made them wear male clothing and speak in a masculine voice. Surianata said at the time that mothers had complained the transgender people were teasing their sons.

"The investigation is still ongoing," Aceh police spokesman Misbahul Munauwar told AFP. "If proven guilty of violating police conduct (rules), they may face disciplinary sanctions." Sanctions range from a written reprimand to suspension.

The investigation into the raids sparked an angry protest last Friday amid rising anti-LGBT sentiment in the province.

Prejudice against gay and transgender people has long been widespread in Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population. Parliament is set to pass a long-dormant bill to make sex outside marriage, including gay relations, illegal.

The discrimination is particularly acute in Aceh on Sumatra island, the only province to be ruled by Islamic law since it was granted special autonomy in 2001.

More than 100 people – including Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf and a lawmaker – took to the streets in the provincial capital Banda Aceh last Friday in a show of support for Surianata.

Some beauty shops who employed transgenders have closed down while many beauticians were considering fleeing the province.

"The current situation is very uncomfortable to us. We are now in fear," a 33-year-old long-haired transgender, who requested anonymity, told AFP Saturday at her beauty shop. "At the moment, I avoid leaving home at night, it's too scary."

Nasir Djamil, the lawmaker who joined the protest on Friday, said: "LGBT is forbidden by Islam. We shall continue efforts to educate them (transgenders) because they are also our brothers."

Pictures showing a Hello Kitty doll being burnt by the protesters went viral.

Last month a Christian was publicly flogged for selling alcohol, making him only the third non-Muslim to suffer a public whipping under Aceh's Islamic law. Human rights activists condemned the police roads on beauticians.

"The authorities were arbitrarily targeting transgender people simply for who they are, despite them having committed no crime," Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said in a statement.

"Such a public shaming is in contravention of Indonesia's international obligations. This must stop immediately."

Gay rights activist Hartoyo, said the rising sentiment against LGBT people in Aceh could trigger vigilantism against homosexuals across Indonesia.

"More than half a million transgender women in Indonesia work in the beauty industry and they now also feel threatened," he said.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-police-investigating-authorities-aceh-publicly-shamed-transgender-women/

Aceh rally defends persecution of trans women

Associated Press - February 2, 2018

Banda Aceh, Indonesia – Muslims in conservative Aceh province are protesting against an investigation into local police who rounded up and publicly humiliated transgender women.

Several hundred people rallied outside the Baiturrahman grand mosque in the provincial capital after Friday prayers, carrying banners the read "LGBT is not Aceh local wisdom" and "Free Aceh from transvestites".

National Police spokesman Mochammad Iqbal said an internal police unit was investigating officers including North Aceh police chief Untung Sangaji.

The rally, which was attended by Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf, was mostly peaceful. "We do not hate LGBT people, but what we hate is their behaviour," Yusuf told the crowd, which chanted Sangaji's name. "We cannot blame the actions of the North Aceh police."

Videos circulated online showed that police forced the 12 transgender women to dress as men, shaved their heads and berated them about not being masculine. They were rounded up last weekend in raids on hair salons in Lhoksukon district of North Aceh. Parents claimed they had harassed or seduced their teenage sons, according to police.

Social media in Muslim-majority Indonesia have exploded with criticism of the police's behaviour.

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia to practice Shariah law. Its enforcement by religious police and local authorities, allowed by an autonomy deal with the central government that ended a separatist war, has become increasingly harsh.

Calls to the mobile numbers of some of the transgender women were answered by activists or relatives. "They are still very traumatised by the bad treatment against them. They're afraid to talk to anyone in this situation, please understand," said rights activist Fais Ichall.

Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said the raids on beauty salons were just the latest example of the authorities arbitrarily targeting transgender people simply for who they are.

"Cutting the hair of those arrested to 'make them masculine' and forcing them to dress like men are forms of public shaming and amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment," he said in a statement.

Sangaji told reporters earlier this week that police officers discussed their plan beforehand with Islamic scholars and that the officers were acting according to Aceh's laws. "We helped them to return to their nature as men," he said.

Iqbal said the 12 were released late Monday. He said they can return to work and would be given training to improve their skills – as long as they dress as men.

Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1406470/

Police chief defends forcing masculinity on transwomen: 'Islamic

Coconuts Jakarta - February 2, 2018

Even in ultra-conservative Aceh – the only province in Indonesia allowed to implement Islamic sharia law – last Sunday's persecution of 12 transgender women still came as quite as a shock to many due to the extremely demeaning treatment the women received at the hands of both the police and civilians.

On Sunday, the sharia police and civilians (later understood to be members of Islamic organizations) in North Aceh arrested 12 transgender women (referred to locally as waria, a portmanteau of the Indonesian words for woman and man) during what they termed a "operasi penyakit masyarakat" (community sickness operation). The 12 warias were taken to a local police station to receive coaching in order to "become real men", which included having their heads shaved and making them chant loudly "until their male voices came out."

After the incident was exposed by the international media, with rights activists from around the world condemning the act, North Aceh Police Chief Untung Sangaji defended his and his officers' actions, saying the waria would be targeted for violence otherwise.

"Many NGOs and Islamic organizations wanted to crush them. I received that info and then I went to seek the blessing of ulemas (Islamic scholars) [to coach the warias]. If I didn't find them and give them guidance, I think they would have been crushed by the public," Untung said today, as quoted by Detik.

Untung added that he regrets if anybody thinks that he violated the warias' human rights. He said he truly believes that they have saved the transgender women by coaching them to be real men in accordance with "their nature."

"If I didn't do this then it's feared that more from future generations will emulate them. I fear that in the future [warias] will increase, that's why I had to act," he said.

Untung did not say which NGOs or Islamic organizations wanted to physically attack the warias or whether this trend would continue in the region. But considering how a select few civilians were easily able to persuade the police to attack others, being labeled a "moral deviant" in Aceh is probably more dangerous now than ever.

In May, two men in Aceh were each caned 82 times in public after being found guilty of homosexual acts. International and local human rights advocates have strongly denounced Aceh's official policy of discrimination towards the LGBT community.

In addition to the LGBT minority, authorities in the region often persecute individuals for simply breaking societal norms about appearance and behavior. Sharia police often target members of Aceh's punk community and, after detaining them, will usually shave their heads and give them "moral guidance" before releasing them.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/north-aceh-police-chief-defends-forcing-masculinity-transwomen-islamic-organizations-wanted-crush/

Stripped naked and beaten: transgender women flee Indonesian city in

The Guardian - February 2, 2018

Kate Lamb, Jakarta – Transgender people have been fleeing the sharia-ruled Indonesian province of Aceh amid fears of further violence, an exodus that comes in the same week the national parliament proposed criminalising gay and all extramarital sex.

In the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, scores of transgender people have fled following the arrest and public shaming of 12 trans women in neighbouring North Aceh.

The 12 women, known as waria, were arrested on Saturday night when police, accompanied by locals, raided beauty salons and forced them to strip off their shirts and have their hair cut in public.

In detention the waria were compelled to undergo an ad hoc form of "gender re-education", which included wearing men's clothing, physical exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups, and instruction on lowering their voices, until they were deemed suitably "macho".

Sources close to those detained say they were also stripped naked and beaten by police, and upon release are suffering psychological trauma.

"We felt so sad and angry when we heard about the arrest of the waria and their inhumane treatment," said Reza, a representative from an LGBT association in Aceh, who asked for his real name to be concealed. "After that we got really scared because we could imagine it happening here."

A message circulating on Whatsapp detailing a planned Friday demonstration in support of the "eradication of LGBT" has sparked fears that more raids are to come.

The message lists more than 50 groups, including the notorious FPI, or the Islamic Defenders Front, among those scheduled to join after Friday prayers at Banda Aceh's Baiturrahman Grand Mosque.

"A lot of the salons have closed because of rumours that fundamentalists will raid them after Friday prayers, so they have temporarily closed down and evacuated – about 40 so far have left," said Reza. "Waria are very easy to spot so I think they will stay away until things calm down."

Since the flogging of two gay men in Aceh last May – Indonesia's first public caning for homosexuality – LGBT people in the province have lived in increasing fear for their safety. Local rights group say hate speech is on the rise, with people using social media to spread messages about "cleansing" Aceh of gay, lesbian and trans people.

Hartoyo, a gay man who was tortured by Aceh police in 2007 and is now a Jakarta-based activist, said he received regular death threats. The majority of waria he knows in Banda Aceh have closed their salons in recent days in fear of being attacked, and have either fled or are lying low.

"The politics is very, very dangerous for the majority of LGBT in Indonesia right now but specifically in Aceh it is even more dangerous."

Based on its special autonomy provisions, Aceh is the only Indonesian province that can adopt sharia bylaws, including laws that make gay sex punishable by 100 lashes.

But across Indonesia, LGBT people have been targeted in police raids at private residences, hotels and clubs, with 300 arrests in 2017, according to Human Rights Watch.

In the lead-up to an election year, regional elections and the 2019 presidential vote, speaking out in defence of LGBT rights carries significant political risk.

A recent survey found that nearly 90% of Indonesians who understood the term LGBT felt "threatened" by the minority and said same-sex relations were not permitted in their religion

The national parliament this week drafted revisions to the criminal code that would outlaw not only same-sex relations but all extramarital sex. Committee members said the article on gay sex had widespread support.

Activists have expressed concern over the move, while an online petition against the revision has attracted more than 35,000 signatures.

"Maybe this is the first step of the sexual revolution, the inspiration to fight back," said LGBT activist Hartoyo, trying to sound an optimistic note. "Maybe it will make us open our eyes."

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/02/gender-re-education-transwomen-flee-indonesia-aceh

147 organisations rally in Aceh to support persecution of trans gender

Kumparan News - February 2, 2018

Protesters from some 147 organisations (ormas) held a protest action at the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in the Acehnese provincial capital of Banda Aceh on Friday February 2.

They were expressing their appreciation and support for the actions of North Aceh district police chief Assistant Superintendent Untung Sangaji who arrested 12 transgender women (waria) in North Aceh then shaved their heads and forced them to behave like men.

Following Friday prayers, the crowd gathered in front of the mosque carrying banners and other paraphernalia with statements and other forms of support for Untung. "Pak Untung is upholding Islamic [law]", shouted the crowd.

In addition to expressing support for Untung's actions, the groups also signed a statement rejecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people which was printed on a length of white cloth.

Daya Aceh representative Tgk Bulqaini said that the Achenese community along with Islamic scholars strongly support the policies enacted by Ahmad Untung Surianata, who is affectionately known as Untung Sangaji.

"We reject the existence of LGBT groups in Aceh and what was done by Pak Untung was an absolutely correct. He is controlling the waria and restoring them to normal men", he said.

Shrugging off the issue of human rights violations, Bulqaini said that people outside of Aceh do not understand the conditions or regulations that are in force in the Gateway of Mecca as Aceh is known.

"Many people are claiming human rights [violations occured] but they forget that there is an obligation. If they [LGBT people] continue to have same-sex relations it will bring disease to this country. Because of this therefore these people who are ill must be treated and returned to the correct path", he said in conclusion.

A representative from the group Islamic Law Lovers Alliance (APSI) Tgk Mursyuddin Ishak said that Untung's efforts to retrain the 12 transgender women have been condemned by many parties such as pro-LGBT and human rights activists.

"Supporting the retraining of LGBT [people] that was carried out was an effort to act upon a report by a community that was anxious about the existence of waria, whose population continues to grow", he said.

The action attracted the attention of passers-by and road users with quite a few even stopping to watch the rally. Scores of police and public order agency officers meanwhile maintained security at the protest which proceeded in an orderly and peaceful manner.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "147 Ormas Demo di Depan Masjid Raya Banda Aceh Dukung AKBP Untung".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/@kumparannews/147-ormas-demo-di-depan-masjid-raya-banda-aceh-dukung-akbp-untung

Aceh governor Irwandi joins rally supporting persecution of transgender

Kumparan News - February 2, 2018

Aceh Governor Aceh Irwandi Yusuf has spoken at a rally by Islamic organizations (ormas) supporting the actions of North Aceh regency police chief Assistant Superintendent Untung Sangaji who 'retrained' 12 transgender women (waria) in North Aceh recently.

Irwandi, who arrived at the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh at around 3pm on Friday February 2, was immediately greeted by the crowd and invited to alight onto a vehicle to give a speech.

"We cannot find fault in the North Aceh district police chief, because I brought Untung (AKBP Untung Sangaji) to Aceh", he said to shouts of "God is Great" by the crowd.

Irwandi also addressed the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Aceh. According to Irwandi, no one hates LGBT people but it is their behaviour that perhaps is not liked in certain parts of Aceh.

"We don't care who a person is, but what we don't like is their behaviour, and if we find these people then they will be subject to the law", said Irwandi.

Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) speaker Muharuddin, who also took part in the action, said that the Acehnese government strongly condemns deviant behaviour which creates unease in society. "In general these LGBT people give rise to negative sentiment", he said.

Muharuddin also conveyed his support for Untung who he said acted correctly in curbing LGBT groups in North Aceh regency.

"It is fitting that we give our appreciation to this kind of courage, and Pak Untung was not wrong. If there are protests by outside parties then they don't know what Aceh is like", he asserted.

The twelve transgender women were arrested as part of a "Social Disease Operation" (Pekat) on January 27. They were then "retrained" by having their heads shaved, ordered to do pushups, shout Pancasila [the state ideology] out loud and made to wear men's clothing.

"They have now truly returned to normal again. They have become masculine and strong men [again]", said Untung when speaking with Kumparan (kumparan.com) on Wednesday January 31.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Gubernur Aceh Sebut Aksi AKBP Untung 'Bina' 12 Waria Tak Salah".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/@kumparannews/gubernur-aceh-sebut-aksi-akbp-untung-bina-12-waria-tak-salah

Aceh police claim abuse of transgender women being 'politicised'

Kumparan News - February 2, 2018

The North Aceh regional police recently arrested 12 transgender women (waria) and forced them to become normal men again.

Although appreciated by the Acehnese, quite a few people have condemned the incident and believe that the actions by North Aceh regency police chief Assistant Superintendent Ahmad Untung Surianata or Untung Sangaji were a human rights violation.

The incident has also reached the ears of National Police (Polri) Chief General Tito Karnavian who has requested that the Aceh provincial police form an investigation team to look into the alleged human rights violations against the transgender women.

"There are indications that this incident is being politicised, as if Polri doesn't support programs to curb social deceases, and actually this is wrong", said Aceh police public relations chief Senior Commissioner Misbahul Munauwar at press conference on Thursday February 1.

The police fully support the government in curbing things that are categorised as a social decease. Munauwar explained that a narrative is being constructed to suggest that there is an imbalance between the police's actions in assisting local governments in operations against waria.

"There are parties which are raising the issue as if the police's actions were way out of proportion and as a result the Kapolri [national police chief] has ordered the Acehnese provincial police to follow it up by forming and investigation team to look into what happened", he explained.

The operation, which resulted in the arrest of the 12 transgender women on Saturday January 27, was carried out by the North Aceh regency police together with the Islamic Religious Police (Polisi Syariah Islam Wilayatul Hisbah, WH) as part of a joint operation to combat social deceases in the North Aceh sub-districts of Lhoksukon and Tanah Jambo Aye.

The 12 transgender women, who were arrested at five beauty salons spread across the two sub-districts, were arrested because they allegedly created unease among residents.

"The operation had actually been completed and was over by the next day, but at around the same time there were photographs circulating [in the media] showing alleged physical abuse but were they actually photographs of what really happened that night and what the waria actually underwent, this is what we're looking into", said Munauwar.

In order to follow up on the matter, the Aceh provincial police has sent a team to investigate the truth about what was done by the North Aceh police during the operation against the transgender women.

"In accordance with the orders of the Kapolri who asked us to look into the North Aceh regency police, we have already sent an investigation team to look into the matter which allegedly involved violations", said Munauwar.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Polda Aceh: Ada yang Coba Politisasi Kasus 'Pembinaan' 12 Waria".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/@kumparannews/polda-aceh-ada-yang-coba-politisasi-kasus-pembinaan-12-waria

Indonesia's police chief investigates transgender raids

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - February 1, 2018

Kyle Knight – Indonesia's police chief General Tito Karnavian has ordered his provincial head in Aceh province to question a subordinate about raids his forces conducted over the weekend on beauty parlors where transgender women worked.

On January 27, police and Sharia (Islamic law) police jointly raided five hair salons that employed waria, or transgender women, arresting a dozen clients and employees, forcing them to strip off their shirts and cut their hair in public, and detaining them for 72 hours. The Sharia police in Aceh have a well-documented history of targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Immediately following these latest raids, North Aceh Police Chief Untung Sangaji said, as captured in a phone recording posted to YouTube: "Our ulama [Muslim scholars] disagree with this disease. [This disease] is spreading. It's inhumane if Untung Sangaji is to tolerate these sissy garbage." He initially threatened to take action not only against waria across the province, but also any visitors to their hair salons.

On Tuesday, General Karnavian, who reports directly to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, told reporters that he had ordered an investigation into Sangaji's behavior. And by Wednesday, after the chastisement from Jakarta, Sangaji had issued a lukewarm apology to, "parties who felt offended with what I did." In 2016, amid rising anti-LGBT intolerance, Jokowi declared that, "the police must act," against any attempts to harm LGBT people or deny them their rights.

Karnavian's action sends an important and timely message, but he should cast a much wider net and conduct meaningful investigations into similar incidents across the country. This is just the latest case in which Indonesian police have targeted LGBT-related spaces and people. Raids have targeted everything from lesbian-owned houses to private gay clubs. Last year, police nabbed more than 300 LGBT people in raids as the government-driven moral panic about sexuality intensified.

The raids form a disturbing pattern that strike fear into already-marginalized communities. Police invading private spaces – be it hotel rooms, homes, clubs, or beauty parlors – to harass an unpopular minority represents a threat to all Indonesians. Karnavian's rebuke of the Aceh raid is a good start, but police need to stop these raids altogether to restore public confidence.

[Kyle Knight is a researcher for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program.]

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/02/01/indonesias-police-chief-investigates-transgender-raids

Military ties

Indonesia-Australia agree to extend defense cooperation

Tempo - February 4, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesian and Australian governments agreed to extend defense cooperation in The Perth Meeting Sub-Regional Defence Ministers Meeting on Counter-Terrorism held in Perth, Australia from Thursday Kamis (1/2) to Friday (2/2).

Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu stated in Jakarta on Saturday (3/2) that Indonesia and Australia have signed an extended defense cooperation agreement.

The minister explained that Indonesia and Australia have agreed to arrange security cooperation and defense framework started in February 1,2018.

"We are committed to strengthen bilateral ties and expand defense cooperation based on equality, mutual benefit, respect and trust," Ryamizard said.

– Antara

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/04/055915434/Indonesia-Australia-Agree-to-Extend-Defense-Cooperation

Human rights & justice

Historic abuse cases left out in Jokowi-UN rights commissioner meeting

Jakarta Post - February 7, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein did not talk about unresolved serious human rights violation cases in Indonesia when they met at the Merdeka Palace on Tuesday, a deputy minister has said.

Jokowi and Zeid discussed several issues, including the draft of Indonesia's criminal code bill and the country's role in assisting the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh.

Deputy Foreign Minister AM Fachir revealed that Hussein and Jokowi did not discuss the unresolved cases of human rights abuses, let alone specific cases such as those related to 1965 or other tragedies that have taken the lives of thousands in the country.

"[Hussein] only said that every country had its own challenges, including [in addressing] past histories, and there are various possible models [to resolve the cases] that can be considered," Fachir said on Tuesday.

The UN commissioner also told the President that he was willing to provide assistance in what he deemed necessary for the country's efforts to resolve the violation cases, Fachir said. "That's all," he added.

He went on to say that there were also no talks about Indonesia's death penalty and issues surrounding Papua brought up during the one-hour discussion with Hussein, who was invited by the government to visit Indonesia from Feb. 5 to 7.

State rights body National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) as well as watchdog the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) previously expressed hope that Hussein would urge Indonesia's government to resolve human rights abuse cases.

Jokowi's administration has promised to settle at least seven cases of historic human rights violations, including the 1965 communist purge and the 1998 riots. However, many have criticized the government's sluggish efforts in addressing the cases. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/07/historic-abuse-cases-left-out-in-jokowi-un-rights-commissioner-meeting.html

UN human rights chief warns Indonesia to clamp down on rising

Agence France Presse - February 7, 2018

Indonesia must clamp down on rising intolerance against the LGBT community, the UN human rights chief warned Wednesday, as the persecuted minority face a wave of arrests and parliament moves to ban gay sex.

Government officials, religious hardliners and influential Islamic groups have lined up to make anti-LGBT statements in public recently, while police have used a tough anti-pornography law to criminalise members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

"The hateful rhetoric against this community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told a press conference in Jakarta, as he wrapped up a three-day visit.

Since the fall of dictator Suharto in the late 1990s, Indonesia has become one of the region's most progressive on human rights, he added.

"Indonesia has since 1998 managed to transition to democracy and couple it with strong economic growth," he said. "At a time when it is consolidating its democratic gains, we urge Indonesians to move forward – not backwards – on human rights."

His remarks come amid a crackdown on the small LGBT community in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. Parliament is set to pass a sweeping amendment to its penal code that could make same-sex relations and sex outside marriage illegal.

Rights groups have slammed the proposed amendments, saying they amount to an unprecedented invasion of privacy. "Any discriminatory provisions need to be removed," the rights chief said.

He said he raised the issue of LGBT discrimination with senior officials, including President Joko Widodo, after a spate of recent attacks against the community.

Last month, Google pulled one of the world's largest gay dating apps from the Indonesian version of its online store in response to government demands.

Homosexuality and gay sex are legal in Indonesia – except in conservative Aceh province, which is ruled by Islamic law – but same-sex relationships are widely frowned upon and public displays of affection between gay couples almost unheard of.

In Aceh, police forcibly cut the hair of a group of transgender women recently and made them wear male clothing, sparking protests from rights groups.

The rights chief also said he discussed allegations of abuses in Papua, indigenous rights and the protection of minority religious groups. (hp/pb/fa)

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/un-human-rights-chief-warns-indonesia-clamp-rising-intolerance-lgbt-community/

U.N. rights chief slams Indonesia proposal to outlaw gay, extramarital

Reuters - February 7, 2018

Kanupriya Kapoor, Jakarta – The United Nations human rights chief on Wednesday criticised proposals in Indonesia's parliament to criminalize gay sex and extramarital sex, saying such laws could hurt the country's beleaguered LGBT community and other minorities.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he had raised the issue with President Joko Widodo during a three-day visit to the world's largest Muslim-majority country, where hostility toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has risen sharply in recent years.

"Discussions of (revisions to the criminal code) betray strains of intolerance seemingly alien to Indonesian culture that have made inroads here," Zeid told a news briefing, adding that he believed the proposed rules were "discriminatory".

"The hateful rhetoric against the LGBT community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions," he said.

Indonesia's parliament is currently deliberating revisions to a Dutch colonial-era criminal code, including proposals to outlaw sex outside marriage, same-sex relations, and co-habitation, all of which were previously unregulated by law.

The revisions have broad support in parliament, where few politicians have stood up for LGBT rights for fear of alienating a largely conservative voter base ahead of legislative and presidential elections next year.

Many officials in President Widodo's government have said LGBT people, like other citizens, should be free from discrimination and violence. But top officials, including the president, have said that Indonesia's cultural and religious norms do not accept the LGBT movement.

Activists have raised concerns that, if approved, the new rules could violate basic rights and be misused to target minorities.

Currently, Indonesian law does not regulate homosexuality, except in the ultra-conservative Islamic province of Aceh.

Zeid, a member of the Jordanian royal family who has been in the U.N. post since 2014, said Indonesia was among the most progressive states in Southeast Asia on human rights.

But he also urged Jakarta to address past atrocities – like the 1965 massacre of nearly half a million suspected communists – and human rights abuses in the easternmost province of Papua, and the use of the death penalty.

"There are some dark clouds on the horizon but... I hope the common sense and strong tradition of tolerance of the Indonesian people will prevail over populism and political opportunism," he said.

[Reporting by Kanupriya KapoorEditing by Ed Davies and Christopher Cushing.]

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-indonesia-rights-un/u-n-rights-chief-slams-indonesia-proposal-to-outlaw-gay-extramarital-sex-idUKKBN1FR0Y2?rpc=401&

Criminal code draft revision 'inherently discriminatory': UN Human

Jakarta Globe - February 7, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – The United Nations human rights chief said on Wednesday (07/02) that the proposed revisions to the Indonesian criminal code are "inherently discriminatory" and chided the cultural argument on which the provisions were supposedly based.

The draft revision, which is being discussed by the House of Representatives, contains problematic articles on morality, such as the extension of adultery to include all extramarital sex under Article 484 of the draft, which states that a man and a woman not bound by a "legitimate marriage" could face up to five years in prison if found guilty of having had sexual intercourse.

Speaking at a press conference in Jakarta, UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said many indigenous communities in the country do not have marriage certificates and will therefore be disproportionately affected if such laws came into force.

"In many countries, when laws like these are passed, it always seems to fall disproportionately on the poor, those who are marginalized, those who do not have access to legal counsel," Zeid said.

In contrast, those who are well connected or have wealthy backgrounds are able to escape the impact of such laws, he added.

"Because these proposed amendments will in effect criminalize large sections of the poor and marginalized, they are inherently discriminatory," Zeid said.

Last week, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said the current draft should be re-evaluated with more input from the public.

Zeid began his three-day visit to Jakarta on Monday, at the invitation of the Indonesian government. He has met with top officials – including President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo – and representatives of civil society and the country's national human right institutions.

According to Zeid, the cultural argument being used to justify the discriminatory provisions are unacceptable. He said the revisions should not be necessary as it would have been part of the law from the beginning, if that was the case.

"It's being introduced now because it's coming from somewhere else. It's not part of the culture; it's being introduced and sold as part of the culture," said Zeid, a Jordanian prince and former diplomat.

Extremist views

Zeid also expressed deep concerns over extremist views playing out in the political arena in Indonesia, and touched on rising "strains of intolerance" across the archipelago.

"If Muslim societies expect others to fight against Islamophobia, we should be prepared to end discrimination at home too," he said.

The world's largest Muslim-majority country has been vocal and engaged in the fight against rising terrorism and extremism, often promoting a tolerant and moderate brand of Islam on various international platforms.

However, minority groups in the country are repeatedly subject to persecution by authorities and society.

"At a time when it is consolidating its democratic gains, we urge Indonesians to move forward – not backwards – on human rights and resist attempts to introduce new forms of discrimination in law," Zeid said.

He added that it is wrong to discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs, skin color, sexual orientation, or any other status.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/criminal-code-draft-revision-inherently-discriminatory-un-human-rights-chief/

Kontras appreciates UN Special Rapporteur remarks on LGBT discrimination

Kompas.com - February 6, 2018

Robertus Belarminus, Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has expressed its appreciation to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein for raising human rights issues during his visit to Indonesia, including the issue of LGBT rights.

Kontras international advocacy desk coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti said that what was done by Zeid was a positive achievement in preventing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

"When we get news like this, we can say, this is a good achievement", said Fatia at the Kontras offices in Jakarta on Tuesday February 6.

Fatia said that LGBT groups in Indonesia are vulnerable to discrimination and criminalisation, especially so if seen from the perspective the revisions to the Criminal Code (RKUHP) that are being deliberated by the government and House of Representatives (DPR).

Fatia gave as an example the persecution of transgender women (waria) in Aceh. "LGBT groups are very, very vulnerable to discrimination in Indonesia bearing in mind that the RKUHP will criminalise LGBT behaviour", said Fatia.

And it is not just the issue of LGBT. Fatia hopes that Zeid will also highlight and at the same time push the Indonesian government to resolve past human rights cases.

"One point can be made, like in the statement it is clear that the UN along with civil society and the Indonesian government will push for human rights improvements in their entirety, case by case", said Fatia.

Touching on LGBT discrimination

Earlier, Human Rights and Justice Minister Yasonna H Laoly said that Zeid touched on the issue of LGBT in his meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. "He (Zeid) said that we cannot discriminate (against LGBT people)", said Laoly after accompanying Widodo during the meeting.

Laoly said that the LGBT issue has was highlighted by the UN because of the articles being discussed between the government and the DPR in the RKUHP.

He said that he would have further discussions on the LGBT issue in follow up meetings. "But Indonesia has a culture and beliefs that the promotion, promoting (LGBT) publically is unacceptable", said Laoly.

Laoly said that the government will not discriminate against those who have a different sexual orientation but, according to Laoly, there must still be proscriptions against LGBT behaviour.

"I also had discussions on how we must be really careful so that people do not do things that are counterproductive, such as persecution", said Laoly.

"On a related issue, we in Indonesia must also still respect the rights of all people whether they be a minority religion, a marginalised group and (Zeid) believes that Pak President Indonesia [Widodo] can do the right thing", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Kontras Apresiasi Komisioner Tinggi HAM PBB yang Singgung Diskriminasi LGBT".]

Source: http://nasional.kompas.com/read/2018/02/06/16272281/kontras-apresiasi-komisioner-tinggi-ham-pbb-yang-singgung-diskriminasi-lgbt

Human rights activists on UN visit to Indonesia: 'Hopeful but not

Rappler - February 4, 2018

Tiffanie Turnbull, Jakarta, Indonesia – Indonesian human rights advocacy groups are "hopeful, but not optimistic" that the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner's upcoming visit to the country will yield tangible results in the near future.

Advocacy groups want the High Commissioner to pressure Indonesian President Joko Widodo on a number of issues, including an end to impunity for past human rights violations, freedom of expression and religion, corporal and capital punishment, and security force violations and extrajudicial killings in Papua.

The symbolic importance of the visit is not lost on human rights organizations in Indonesia.

After what he calls "democratic backsliding" in the region, Amnesty International Indonesia Director Usman Hamid said Indonesia is "the last mohican" and the visit comes at a crucial time.

"The fact that the High Commissioner is here sends a positive signal that Indonesia is still struggling at least to maintain human rights," he said on Friday, February 2.

"Such communication or dialogue is an important safeguard to ensure Indonesia is still on track."

The visit also comes against a backdrop of disappointment in Widodo's failure to make good on his campaign promise to prioritize human rights.

Hamid said the President is "surrounded by a number of wolves" who limit his ability to address human rights issues.

"There are people with good faith who are trying to advance human rights in Indonesia, but there are also people who not only do not have a human rights priority, but have been responsible for crimes against humanity themselves," he said.

High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein is set to visit Jakarta from February 5-7, where he will meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and other government officials, human rights representatives, and religious leaders.


But Hamid and other activists were also realistic in their expectations. "I don't really have high expectations that there will be tangible resolutions for human rights issues," Hamid said.

Human Rights Watch research Andreas Harsono also said that expecting immediate results is unrealistic, but was relatively more optimistic.

He said some of the issues, such as repealing the blasphemy law, cannot be solved over the term of one administration, but is something that has to occur steadily over time. Groups remain hopeful however, for a moratorium on the death penalty.

Harsono said the High Commissioner's influence could at the very least be key in seeing these promises fulfilled and issues addressed.

"This is not an NGO speaking – it's an international government body. They've come to offer help, not judgement," he said,


The High Commissioner has expressed concerns about human rights transgressions in Indonesia in the past, specifically conditions in Papua, the blasphemy law and capital punishment – but to no avail.

The Indonesian government stressed that Hussein will not be assessing Indonesia's human rights performance, as this is not a monitoring visit.

Hussein will arrive in Jakarta ahead of his official visit to Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

The High Commissioner was persuaded to include Indonesia in his diplomatic mission, after the Indonesian government extended an invitation. – Rappler.com

Source: https://www.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/indonesia/bahasa/englishedition/195237-human-rights-un-commissioner-ngo

Criminalisation & political violence

Students criminalised for putting up 'campus feels like a factory'

Okezone - February 7, 2018

Prayudha, Makassar – Rezki Ameliyah, known by her friends as Melia, has had to swallow a bitter pill. Melia along with her friend and fellow student Mohammad Nur Fiqri have been suspended for two semesters after putting up posters reading "Campus feels like a factory" at the Hasanuddin University (Unhas) in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

Melia related how the affair began when she and several other students held a lengthy discussion on the theme "Post-Fordism or the Post-Industrial Economy".

Students from the international department of the Political and Social Science faculty then felt concerned about what had came up during the discussion.

In protest, they expressed their concerns by putting up several posters around the campus. As they were putting up a poster in one place Melia and her colleague were detained by a campus security officer and held at the 3rd Deputy Director's office.

Without any explanation, on the same day Melia and her colleague were suspended for two semesters by campus authorities for committing vandalism.

According to Melia this arbitrary action amounted to little more than a form of criminalisation by campus authorities. She believes that university campuses are simply producing modern capitalist products that are no longer able to come up with great ideas to improve the nation.

"We felt that putting up the posters was an act of protest against what is happening on campus right now. Where the campus only exists as a product of capitalism which just produces certain groups and only in the interests of industry", Melia told Okezone on Wednesday February 7.

She also believes that the attitude of the university management shows that there is a kind of excessive paranoia which continues to the conserved to the point that it gives rise to an attitude of anti-criticism. According to Melia, her campus has no ethics with regard to the democratic system in Indonesia which is regulated by the Constitution.

"We put up the posters in three places that were clearly public notice boards. We do not feel that we ever violated existing regulations", said Melisa.

Meanwhile the head of the Unhas public relations and protocol office, Ishaq Rahman, said that the pair were suspended because they violated campus regulations.

"So they were suspended because they were deemed to have violated campus regulations. It was all done through existing mechanism and there was a process that was followed before the suspensions were carried out", said Rahman.

In relation to the posters that were put up, continued Rahman, the campus management has never prohibited or restricted this. "There is no prohibition, provided that it is in the correct place. If it is not in the places provided, then there must be prior coordination with the household section on campus", he explained.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Pasang Poster "Kampus Rasa Pabrik", Dua Mahasiswa Unhas Kena Skorsing Setahun".]

Source: https://news.okezone.com/read/2018/02/07/340/1856115/pasang-poster-kampus-rasa-pabrik-dua-mahasiswa-unhas-kena-skorsing-setahun

Labour & migrant workers

New technologies will see loss of around 50 million jobs in near future

Kompas.com - February 6, 2018

Denpasar – It is estimated that economic disruption will result in the loss of between 45-50 million jobs in Indonesia in the near future.

This was revealed by National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) chief Bambang PS Brodjonegoro when quoting from the results of research by the international consulting group McKinsey.

According to Brodjonegoro, this situation will wipe out any gains from the momentum of economic growth arising out the demographic bonus.

"The demographic bonus will be lost by economic disruption because many jobs will be lost and replaced by robots and artificial intelligence", he said at a seminar organised by the Labour Social Security Management Agency (BPJS) on Tuesday February 6.

Brodjonegoro explained that economic disruption will give rise to new inequalities as a consequence of these job losses. People who work in sectors that are dependent on technology will be the group that is most vulnerable.

"Certainly this is disappointing. On the other hand however, economic disruption will also give rise to new opportunities. There will be new jobs created by this situation. This is what the government must pay attention to", he said.

In relation to this, Bappenas must endeavor to improve the quality of human resources so that this economic disruption can be used as a momentum to take advantage of these new opportunities.

Joachim Breuer, the president director of the International Social Security Association, took the opportunity to say that economic disruption will also impact upon pension fund institutions. Economic disruption will create uncertainty for employee relations and job providers.

The presence of individual employees will result in pension fund institutions such as BPJS Labour having to define a new status for these employees. "Because of this there needs to be a redefinition of how social security should be for these employees", he said.

The international seminar was attended by 125 people from the social security sector from 30 different countries. Also present were 360 social security practitioners from Indonesia.

During the event a strategic cooperation agreement was signed between BPJS Labour and the German Social Accident Insurance Institute (DGUV) on healthcare, workers' safety and social security.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Sekitar 50 Juta Pekerjaan di Indonesia Akan Hilang dalam Beberapa Waktu ke Depan".]

Source: http://ekonomi.kompas.com/read/2018/02/06/143831926/sekitar-50-juta-pekerjaan-di-indonesia-akan-hilang-dalam-beberapa-waktu-ke

Freedom of information & the press

Government revokes controversial research policy, set to gather 'input'

Jakarta Post - February 7, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo voided late on Tuesday a much-maligned regulation aimed at screening research projects that carried "negative impacts" on the country, in an about-face that came only hours after he had defended the policy.

Issued on Jan. 17, Home Ministry Regulation No. 3/2018 on the research information letter (SKP) allowed authorities to assess the "potential negative impacts" of a particular research project, a mechanism that resembled the Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal) requirement for businesses that could harm the environment.

The 2018 regulation obliged researchers – individuals or groups – to report their research results to the Home Ministry, replacing a 2014 regulation that only obliged researchers to report to local administration officials that would then issue a research recommendation.

In an official statement published on the Home Ministry's website, Tjahjo said the country would revert to the previous 2014 regulation, citing the need to absorb "the aspirations from various parties" like academics, research institutions and the legislature before issuing a new regulation on the matter.

The ministry will convene a focus group on Feb. 8 to gather advice it will use as a basis for the upcoming regulation, the statement read.

The government aims to remain vigilant with regard to "negative impacts that could possibly stem from research and are not the subject of research," as stipulated in the overturned 2018 regulation.

The Home Ministry's director general for Politics and General Governance, Soedarmo, admitted that no detailed explanations had been provided as to what the government deemed were "negative impacts".

Soedarmo said academics had not been involved in drafting the 2018 regulation, adding that the ministry had not disseminated the controversial regulation among academia.

Earlier, academics who had learned of the 2018 regulation censured the provision on "negative impact of research projects," saying the government had no right to determine the impact of scientific research.

Rustam Ibrahim, former director of the Institute of Economic and Social Studies and Development (LP3ES), called the regulation a "legacy of the New Order era" under the late Suharto that "should not be in place anymore during the era of reform and democracy".

On Tuesday, the Home Ministry's legal bureau chief, Widodo Sigit Pudjianto, defended the new regulation as a means to simplify the work of researchers in Indonesia, saying that the SKP would ensure that the country reaped the "benefits of research".

"Topics that could divide society, such as 'should the country change its basis from Pancasila to something like the HTI wanted', are clearly prohibited," Widodo said on Tuesday, referring to the banned radical Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/07/govt-revokes-controversial-research-policy-set-to-gather-input.html

Exclusive: Government aims to ban 'negative' research

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – The government has issued a regulation obliging Indonesian researchers to report on their research results to the home ministry as part of a new permit regime that could be seen as an effort to exert more control over academia.

Issued on Jan. 17, Home Ministry Regulation No. 3/2018 on the research information letter (SKP) replaces a 2014 decree that only obliged researchers – individuals or groups – to report to local administration officials that issued a research recommendation to the researchers.

The new regulation allows the authorities to assess the "potential negative impacts" of a particular research project, a mechanism resembling the issuance of the environmental impact analyses (Amdal) for businesses that could harm the environment.

The previous regulation, meanwhile, merely stipulated the verification of formal requirements to be met by researchers.

The government aims to remain vigilant with regard to "negative impacts that could possibly stem from research and are not the subject of research," the 2018 regulation reads.

The Home Ministry's Directorate General of Politics and General Governance is tasked with assessing the potential negative impacts at the national level of any proposed research project.

Some researchers have voiced concern that the new regulation could raise doubt over the progress of scientific activity in Indonesia.

Concern over the negative impacts of research would be "unnecessary," if the country had implemented a strong research ethics mechanism, said Dina Afrianty, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute for Religion, Politics and Society (IRPS) at the Australian Catholic University.

"Why should the Home Ministry and the bureaucracy under its control have the right to decide whether a research project can be carried out or not?" asked Dina.

Widodo Sigit Pudjianto, the Home Ministry's legal bureau chief, defended the new regulation as a means to simplify the work of researchers in Indonesia, saying the SKP issuance would ensure the country reaped the "benefits of the research."

"Topics that could divide society, such as 'should the country change its basis from Pancasila to something like the HTI wanted' are clearly prohibited," Widodo said Tuesday, referring to the banned radical Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia.

Widodo said the authorities would not hinder researchers in obtaining the SKP, which would be valid for one year. Yet, he added, the permit would be revoked if the government detected a "threat to security" in the research.

Widodo added that the issuance of the new regulation had nothing to do with the regional elections to be held this year and concurrent elections next year. "We have to protect the country in order for it to remain united," said Widodo. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/06/government-aims-to-ban-negative-research.html

Democracy & civil rights

Indonesia less democratic after Jakarta governor race: Report

Jakarta Globe - February 1, 2018

Anthony Furci, Jakarta – Indonesia's ranking in the 2017 Democracy Index, published on Wednesday (31/01) dropped 20 places to 68th, thanks to the highly divisive Jakarta gubernatorial election, the annual index's publisher, the Economist Intelligence Units, or EIU, said on Wednesday (31/01).

Last year, Anies Baswedan, who is now Jakarta governor, defeated former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama – now imprisoned for blasphemy against Islam – in an election marred by religious divisions.

Last year's gubernatorial race saw Anies's supporters play religion and race cards – Ahok is an ethnic Chinese and a Christian – to win the election.

"Democracy in Indonesia suffered a setback following the [gubernatorial] poll in Jakarta," the report said.

A key focus of this year's report was press freedom, and the global challenges surrounding freedom of speech.

Asia's biggest emerging democracy, India, also suffered a significant drop in the index – from 32nd to 42nd. The Philippines ranked 51st and Malaysia 59th.

Overall, Asia was the worst-performing region last year, with North Korea remaining bottom of the list.

"It was a year of democratic backsliding for Asia," the EIU's director for Asia Duncan Innes-Ker said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-less-democratic-jakarta-governor-race-report/

Environment & natural disasters

Counting plantations as forests, Indonesia claims decline in

Mongabay - February 5, 2018

Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta – The Indonesian government has reported a second straight annual decline in the country's deforestation rate, but continues to confound with its definition of what constitutes a forest.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry recorded 4,790 square kilometers (1,850 square miles) of deforestation in 2017. That's down 24 percent from the 2016 figure, which in turn represented a 42 percent reduction from 2015, when record-breaking fires contributed to a total of 10,900 square kilometers (4,210 square miles) of deforestation across the archipelago.

Of the total deforestation that occurred last year, 3,080 square kilometers (1,190 square miles) were recorded in forest areas, while the rest were in "other-use areas," known as APL and which include oil palm plantations and infrastructure development sites.

Intact forest cover was recorded at 936,000 square kilometers, or about 361,400 square miles – an area nearly the size of California's land mass.

Plantations as forests

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar credited the decline to "efforts from multiple policies" being put in place. In particular she pointed to so-called production forests, which are typically leased for pulpwood and timber plantations.

"There has been a decline in deforestation in production forests, from 63 percent [of total deforestation] in 2014 to 44 percent in 2017," she said.

However, the role of production forests, and the industrial plantations they cover, in deforestation assessments has always been a contentious issue in Indonesia.

Researchers and conservation think tanks, such as the World Resources Institute (WRI), define deforestation as the conversion of natural forest cover to other land-cover categories. That means the clearing of forest for the cultivation of industrial plantations – acacia and eucalyptus for pulpwood, for instance – automatically counts as deforestation.

The Indonesian government, on the other hand, doesn't take that view. It counts forest loss in primary forest, secondary forest and man-made plantations, including industrial plantations that are established to produce a high volume of timber in a short period of time.

"In the ministry's classification, there's only one class of plantations, and that includes all man-made forests," Belinda Margono, a researcher at the University of Maryland (UMD) and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said in an interview. "So trees in industrial plantations are included [in the calculation]."

That means industrial plantations are not perceived as non-forested areas once the areas are replanted with acacia and eucalyptus trees, according to the ministry's official in charge of gathering forest-cover data, Ruandha Agung Suhardiman. "Planting in industrial forest areas is considered reforestation," he said.

It's a distinction heavy on semantics: the government defines deforestation as the "permanent alteration from forested area into a non-forested area as a result of human activities," per a 2009 decree from the forestry minister. Industrial plantations, because of their cycles of planting and harvesting, are seen as not causing "permanent alteration" to the forest cover.

Disparities in reporting

That difference in definitions has led to stark disparities in how deforestation is reported in Indonesia. A 2014 study led by researchers at UMD found that Indonesia's deforestation rate had surpassed that of Brazil, giving the archipelago the dubious distinction of having the highest deforestation rate in the world.

According to the study, Indonesia lost 8,400 square kilometers (3,240 square miles) of natural, or primary, forest in 2012, while Brazil's deforestation rate at the time stood at 4,600 square kilometers (1,780 square miles).

However, the official deforestation figure from Indonesia's forestry ministry that year was significantly smaller, at 6,100 square kilometers (2,360 square miles).

The WRI, whose Global Forest Watch is the first tool of its kind to monitor global forests on a monthly basis, says it's important to address this difference.

"As far as I know, industrial forest plantations are included in the [ministry's] calculation," said WRI Indonesia country director Tjokorda Nirarta Samadhi. "Meanwhile, internationally, at least [in the system] used by Global Forest Watch, industrial forest plantations aren't counted. Instead, we see deforestation as loss of intact natural forests."

The WRI, a Washington-based think tank with an office in Indonesia, has cautioned that the disparity may hamper Indonesia's bid to seek foreign funding to support its initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation under a scheme called REDD+: without a universally agreed-on definition of deforestation, it might be difficult for Indonesia to cite its own data to claim funding.

"Using your own definition isn't wrong, and every country has the right to do that," Nirarta said. "But is the definition agreed on by other global actors?"

He cited the example of Norway, which has pledged $1 billion in REDD+ funding for Indonesia, and said that if Norway deemed industrial plantations as contributing to deforestation, "then it's no use having your own definition."

Minister Siti, though, dismissed the controversy over the definition as part of a conspiracy to paint Indonesia's forestry sector in a negative light.

"The word 'deforestation' implies international 'pressure' in judging Indonesia for its performances related to sustainability," she said. "And among other things, [the word can] be restrictive [for Indonesia]."

She said deforestation did not always have to have a negative connotation, for instance when it leads to economic development.

"Let's say there are 60 villages in a forest, and they can't be accessed because all they have are gravel roads," she said. "We just have to pave the roads. Should we call that deforestation? We still need to clear the land, but in a controlled manner."

Siti added that the concept of "zero deforestation" should not apply to a developing country such as Indonesia.

Palm oil expanding

Beyond the disagreement over the definition, the latest data highlight a sustained decline in the rate of deforestation, which averaged more than 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) a year throughout the 1990s and 2000s. (The highest rates were recorded in 1996 and 2000, topping out at more than 35,000 square kilometers, or 13,500 square miles.)

Siti acknowledged the decline in recent years, but cautioned that the trend "is not a given." Indeed, deforestation in APL areas – driven largely by oil palm plantations – rose to nearly 36 percent of total deforestation, up from 24 percent in 2014.

One of the consequences of this proliferation of oil palm plantations has been the destruction of forests that are home to critically endangered species such as orangutans. The problem came into gruesome focus earlier this year with the discovery in Central Kalimantan province of an orangutan that had been decapitated and shot multiple times, in an area bordered by five oil palm plantations.

Siti said she was aware of the case and was particularly concerned, noting that more than 200 oil palm plantations were currently operating in orangutan habitat, accounting for a fifth of the 20,000 square kilometers (7,720 square miles) of palm plantation area in Central Kalimantan.

Operators of oil palm plantations often consider orangutans a pest because they are known to eat the palm fruit. A 2005 study by the conservation NGO Friends of the Earth found that one such company in Central Kalimantan province would pay local people 150,000 rupiah (about $10) for every orangutan killed.

Fires down

Another trend highlighted in the 2017 data is the increase in deforestation in protected and conservation areas, amounting to 20 percent of the total, up from 12 percent in 2014.

For Siti, that's a move "in the right direction," because it means policies aimed at agrarian reform and empowerment are working. Those policies, under the government's "social forestry" program, entail moving people out of production forests and into protected and conservation areas, where deforestation can be more stringently controlled.

Another government program also yielded good results last year – namely, the packet of policies aimed at preventing forest and land fires, particularly in peat areas.

The devastating fires of 2015 scorched 26,100 square kilometers (10,080 square miles) of land; blanketed vast swaths of the country in a haze that sickened half a million Indonesians; sparked a diplomatic row with Singapore and Malaysia; and, at its peak, generated daily carbon dioxide emissions that exceeded those from all U.S. economic activity.

In 2016, a string of regulations to better protect peatlands was rolled out, and the incidence of fires decreased. In 2017, the area burned was down to 1,654 square kilometers (640 square miles).

"What's important is to keep mitigating fires and preventing fires on peatlands," Siti said.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/counting-plantations-forests-indonesia-claims-decline-deforestation/

Gov't enlists public support to save orangutans from extinction

Jakarta Globe - February 2, 2018

Dames Alexander Sinaga, Jakarta – The Ministry of Environment and Forestry on Thursday (01/02) urged local governments, companies and communities in Sumatra and Kalimantan to cooperate with the government in a bid to save orangutans, currently classified as critically endangered.

The ministry sent letters to companies, civil society organizations and local governments throughout both islands to participate in protecting orangutans.

Wiratno, the ministry's director general of natural resources and ecosystem conservation, said the letter was issued in a bid to stop the killing of orangutans, which is still on the rise.

"We call on the public to report to regional conservation agencies if they find orangutans and other wildlife animals somewhere in the wild," Wiratno said in Jakarta.

According to Wiratno, the letter comes after a male Bornean orangutan was found decapitated and militated near Central Kalimantan's Barito River. Two rubber plantation workers reportedly killed the animal.

"I really would like the workers in the plantation areas to understand the operational standards when dealing with animals in their area," Wiratno said, adding that orangutans often enter plantation areas due to habitat loss.

The ministry has established call centers in 74 national parks and has also set up the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA), which is aimed at preventing the loss of endangered animals, stopping illegal wildlife transactions and unauthorized wildlife ownership.

Indonesia is home to Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelli), Tapanuli orangutans (Pongo tapanuliensis) and Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). All three populations have been in steady decline as deforestation has ramped up in recent years.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the orangutans as critically endangered.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/govt-enlists-public-support-save-orangutans-extinction/

LGBT & same-sex marriage

Curbing the LGBT

Tempo - February 7, 2018

Jakarta – The notification about the cancellation of a meeting to approve the draft of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on Thursday last week came quite suddenly." I was only informed last night that the meeting had been canceled," said Arteria Dahlan, a member of the Criminal Code Bill Working Committee.

The meeting was to invite Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly, the administrations representative which had submitted the revision. It was canceled because many politicians were unable to attend. "We had agreed that if one faction could not attend, then the meeting would be postponed," said Arteria.

In that meeting, they were to discuss the approval of many important matters in the Criminal Code. This included provisions about the death penalty, age at which a person can be convicted of a crime, factors which can increase or decrease legal punishments, and the dissemination of the teachings of Communism, Marxism, and Leninism.

Other issues included crimes against the dignity of the office of the president and vice president, gambling, and private-sector corruption. There are also provisions on expanding the definition of adultery, criminal charges against unmarried couples living together, and the criminalization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) group.

The LGBT issue recently became a public discussion, mainly after National Mandate Party (PAN) General Chairman Zulkifli Hasan said that there are five House of Representatives (DPR) factions which approve of the existence of LGBTs. The members of the Working Committee loudly denied the statement made by the Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). "The one going on about it never came to the meetings," said Working Committee chairman Benny Kabur Harman.

It seems all the more inflammatory because Zulkifli did not specifically say which factions supported LGBT. According to Benny, many politicians stayed away when invited to attend the meeting for deliberating the Criminal Code. In addition to being sensitive issues, said the Democrat Party politician, many of their members do not understand the substance of these crucial subjects.

At one sitting, Zulkifli was the sole person deliberating with the administration's representative in a meeting on the Criminal Code. Only few Working Committee attended the event. In May 2017, for example, the only Working Committee members who showed up were T.B. Soenmandjaja from the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) Faction and Aditya Mufti Ariffin from the United Development Party (PPP) Faction.

Due to this lack of comprehension, Benny suspects that the Criminal Code Bill-which was initially submitted in 2013-will again fail to be passed by the current term of members of the DPR. Regarding the expansion of the definition of adultery and criminalizing same-sex activity, said Benny, many factions have avoided deliberating these regulations. "They are afraid," he said.

Before Zulkifli brought the matter up, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar, and the Democrat Party rejected the administration's proposal, according to a meeting held in December 2016. Later on, however, after Zulkifli made that statement, those factions actually supported the provisions. "There is not a single religion which justifies this," said Arteria, a PDI-P politician.

Regarding the LGBT issue, Benny reasoned, the state must regulate criminal provisions because the public rejects that the group be recognized. He said that the norms of the law attempt to positively reflect the values held in society. "Because it is at odds with it, it has to be outlawed," Benny added casually.

Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine: https://magz.tempo.co/konten/2018/02/05/LU/34123/Curbing-The-LGBT/77/17

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/07/055915549/Curbing-the-LGBT

Rally by right-wing nationalist group in Depok opposes LGBT and same-sex

Warta Kota - February 7, 2018

Depok – The Depok city Indonesian Underground Social Movement (GMBI) has held a rally in front of the Depok Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) opposing the legalisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relations.

The action, which was held in the Grand Depok City area of Kalimulya in Cilodong, on Wednesday February 7, also rejected same-sex marriage in Indonesia.

During the rally, hundreds of people wearing black uniforms and GMBI emblems brought a command vehicle from which they made speeches in front of the Depok DPRD.

The chairperson of the Depok city district GMBI, Deri Ahyadi, said that the action was held to protest against plans by groups and communities to legalise same-sex marriage and LGBT people's rights.

Because of this therefore, the GMBI are calling on the Depok DPRD to convey their wishes to the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR RI).

"LGBT is very clearly a deviant behaviour. We from the GMBI community, in particular the Depok district explicitly reject plans to legalise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [relations] in the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia]", said Ahyadi in speech on Wednesday.

According to Ahyadi, LGBT behaviour is not in accordance with the natural values of religion. Aside from this it is also not in accordance with the Constitution which is based on a religious state.

"Hopefully the Depok city DPRD will pass on our wishes, the rejection of LGBT, to the DPR RI", he said.

Several GMBI members were eventually received by Depok DPRD speaker Hendrik Tangle Allo. Responding to the demands conveyed by the group, Allo expressed his support and pledged to convey the GMBI's wishes on to the DPR.

"We will pass on the hopes of our friends in the GMBI to the DPR RI", he said. He also asserted that a written statement by the GMBI rejecting LGBT will immediately be passed on to the DPR.

"We will pass this statement on to the DPR RI. I won't subtract or add to its contents. I will draft a covering letter to be passed on to the national parliament or DPR RI", he said Allo. (bum)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Tolak LGBT dan Pernikahan Sejenis, Ormas GMBI Geruduk DPRD Kota Depok".]

Source: http://wartakota.tribunnews.com/2018/02/07/tolak-lgbt-dan-pernikahan-sejenis-ormas-gmbi-geruduk-dprd-kota-depok

LGBT's caught up in election pandering

Tempo - February 6, 2018

Jakarta – Senior Adjunct Commissioner Ahmad Untung Surianata alias Untung Sangaji, Chief of the North Aceh District Police Department, feels that the threat posed by transvestites is worse than that of terrorism.

Transvestitism is a contagious disease which must be eradicated, Untung said. "Excuse me if I smash anything having to do with transvestitism," the police officer said on Saturday night two weeks ago.

That Saturday night, Untung led his men and wilyatul hisbah (Islamic law police) officers to comb through five beauty salons in Lhoksukon and Pantonlabu, two subdistricts in North Aceh. At those facilities, the police rounded up 12 men who they named were transvestites. Those 12 were immediately taken to the North Aceh District Police Department.

The police then proceeded to lop off their hair, giving them crew-cuts. In photos taken by the police and disseminated on social media, two of the men whose heads were being shaved were not wearing shirts. In another photo, those who were arrested were lying on the grass. Untung said that this was all part of 'guidance' to make them more 'macho'.

Claiming to have succeeded in restoring their manliness, the police released the 12 on Monday last week. As it turned out, seven of them relocated to Medan and the rest to other places. "They were traumatized after being so mistreated," said Hartoyo, an activist of the Suara Kita Association, an organization which defends the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs), who worked with the group who had been arrested in North Aceh.

According to Hartoyo, of the 12 who were arrested, only one was actually a transgender. Three others were visiting the salons, and the rest worked in those places. They were all residents of North Aceh, except for the transgender individual, who was from a different regency in the east of Aceh. "Some of them indeed had dyed hair, but that does not make them transvestites. One of them is married and has a child," said Hartoyo.

The men arrested said that they felt humiliated. They had been arrested though they had committed no crime. Hartoyo said that this was the first time they were raided like this. "Some had operated their salons for years, and the public has never had any problems with them," he said.

A similar incident took place in Tasikmalaya, West Java, on Tuesday night two weeks ago. A group called the Alliance of Muslim Activists and Residents of Tasikmalaya (Almumtaz) dispersed a party at a restaurant, accusing the event of being an LGBT party. "We received a report from residents at 8 pm that there was an anniversary of the Tasikmalaya LGBT community. They said there were 150 people there," said Almumtaz coordinator, Abu Hazmi.

Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine: https://magz.tempo.co/konten/2018/02/05/LU/34122/LGBTs-Caught-Up-in-Election-Pandering/77/17

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/06/055915504/LGBTs-Caught-Up-in-Election-Pandering

Sex before marriage 'fudge' gives hope to Indonesia's persecuted gays

South China Morning Post - February 4, 2018

Jeffrey Hutton – Amid Indonesia's latest bout of moral panic, that has seen its transgendered citizens rounded up by police and politicians calling for outright bans on sex outside marriage, there are signs that cooler heads may prevail – if only slightly.

The ranking member of a parliamentary committee, charged with overhauling the country's voluminous criminal code, said most politicians were eager to avoid language that would make extramarital sex illegal. The provision is thought to disproportionately impact the country's gays and lesbians because they are unable to marry.

"We don't want to have the criminalisation of LGBT," Ichsan Soelistio, who hails from President Joko Widodo's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which has the most seats in parliament.

"This is the same with young people before marriage. We don't want to criminalise that. The government cannot push into the private matters of the nation."

The comments come as anti-gay prejudice and moral conservatism reach fever pitch ahead of regional elections this year in the country's most populous provinces, where issues of piety play well to voters. In Jakarta, legislators are debating changes in the criminal code that would hand down five-year prison sentences for sex between unmarried people.

But the committee charged with including the provision in the country's mammoth 750-article criminal code, which dates back to Dutch colonial times, may have found a way to fudge the issue.

Legislators may opt to make sex outside marriage a crime only if one of the two consenting parties makes a formal complaint to police. Similar requirements are made in the case of adultery.

Human rights activists, however, say the proposal still amounts to criminalisation and leaves the door open for police harassment.

Nearby in Malaysia, laws that criminalise same-sex relations are even more strident. Between 1985 and 2013, statutes were enacted making it illegal for men to "pose" as women, giving leeway to authorities to harass transgendered people, or anyone who does not conform to norms for the gender they were assigned at birth.

Former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was convicted of sodomy and has been in and out of prison since 1998, is perhaps the most prominent public figure to run afoul of the law.

In Jakarta and Surabaya, police have detained and humiliated hundreds of gay men in saunas, apartments and hotel rooms, even though gay sex is legal there. Technically, they are detained on suspicion of violating the country's pornography law.

"The provisions are a way to harass people," said Ricky Gunawan, director of the human rights public defender LBH Masyarakat. "Police raids on gays have already taken place without laws banning gay sex."

Other commenters agreed. But Bivintri Susanti, a constitutional law expert who helped establish the Indonesian Centre of Law and Policy Studies said that while no law criminalising sex is warranted, this may be the lesser of two evils.

"If they really can't scrap the provision, then, yes, this is preferable," Susanti said.

There is little chance the provision will be dropped completely. For two years, the country has seen a steady drumbeat of anti-gay hysteria.

Last weekend, police in the conservative province of Aceh, which observes some aspects of sharia law, detained a dozen transgendered women and humiliated them by cutting their hair and forcing them into men's clothing.

Unmarried straight couples have also not escaped scrutiny. In November, police in Tangerang, to Jakarta's west, arrested four people suspected of participating in a mob that stripped a young couple naked and paraded them through the neighbourhood because they were rumoured to be in a romantic relationship outside wedlock.

Soelistio said a compromise under consideration would limit complaints to partners or perhaps their parents. Nosy neighbours or religious vigilantes, for example, would have no standing to file a complaint. "It's like a computer," he said, referring to privacy. "We want a firewall to protect it."

In part, the changes under consideration are a direct consequence of a ruling handed down by the Constitutional Court in December that declined to decide on a similar petition made by the Family Love Alliance, a small band of conservative scholars. The group asked the justices to expand the prohibitions on sex with minors to include adults of the same gender. The court punted, saying the question was a matter for parliament.

With elections looming in West Java this year, and a presidential contest slated for mid-2019, politicians clambered on board. Parliament's new speaker Bambang Soesatyo, from Golkar, which has the second-largest number of seats in parliament, said same-sex relationships should be criminalised because they could "corrupt the morality of the nation".

Such has been the vitriol heaped on the country's gay men and women. A poll last month of more than 1,200 Indonesian adults showed nearly 90 per cent of respondents felt threatened by their LGBT brethren. Google this week said it removed 73 dating apps used by gay men and women from its Indonesian store following a request from the country's communication ministry.

Representatives from the other nationalist parties, including Golkar, and the Democratic Party, the political vehicle of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, were not immediately available for comment.

Indonesia's leader, widely seen as a moderate, is unenthusiastic about the country's growing preoccupation with other people's sexual habits. Following last year's public caning of two young gay men in Aceh, Widodo, weary of international opinion, leaned on the governor to limit the practice and move it indoors.

His representative on the committee steering the changes to the criminal code, Enny Nurbaningsih, has told local media that she thinks criminalising sex outside marriage is unworkable because it's difficult to prove.

"Widodo doesn't want this issue," says analyst Kevin O'Rourke, who writes the Reformasi newsletter of Indonesian current events. "There is a moderate mainstream that will worry about the government invading their privacy."

Still, the trend of conservatism appears to be moving in only one direction: to the right. Following the police round-up of transgendered women, many have taken cover, shuttering their salons and other businesses.

Some two decades after the fall of the dictator Suharto, their persecution makes a mockery of the country's laws and claims to have embraced democracy, says Acehnese LGBT activist Hartoyo.

Source: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2131814/sex-marriage-fudge-gives-hope-indonesias-persecuted-gays

Indonesia classifies homosexuality as 'mental disorder'

India today - February 3, 2018

Tolerance seems to be moving backwards in Indonesia as the Health Ministry on Friday said it is about to publish a medical guide where it has classified homosexuality as a mental disorder.

According to the guide of the pseudo-psychiatric body – lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals (LGBT) community are at risk of mental disorders owing to their sexual orientation, the Ministry's Director of Prevention and Control for Mental Problems told Efe news.

The guide is based on two reports – one drafted in 2016 by the Indonesian Psychiatrists Association (PDSKJI) and the other by the Health Ministry last year.

The association of 'leading psychiatrists' with the real mental disorder, also recommended certain rights for the LGBT group such as access to 'treatment' and medical awareness. The Ministry document stated that "homosexuality was against the ethos of the country".

Tourists might want to reconsider honeymooning in Indonesia after same-sex marriage. Gay sex there could mean a five-year jail time, as the Indonesian Parliament is currently discussing a ridiculous amendment to the penal code to criminalize homosexuality in the anti-gay country.

On the bright side, at least Indonesia is better than some homophobic countries where it can be a death sentence.

Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, except in the Aceh province, in Sumatra Island, where the Islamic Sharia law is in force. The Indonesian government even convinced Google to yank out gay dating apps from the country's online store.

Moreover, Indonesian parliament is also drafting proposed revisions to the national criminal code that could ban all consensual sex outside marriage. This has sparked panic among activists who believe it would breach basic rights and could be misused to target the LGBT community.

(With inputs from agencies)

Source: https://www.indiatoday.in/fyi/story/indonesia-classifies-homosexuality-as-mental-disorder-1160838-2018-02-03

Islamic peak body MUI holds seminar on 'dangers of LGBT'

Republika - February 2, 2018

Rusdy Nurdiansyah, Depok – The Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) is paying serious attention to efforts to combat the spread of deviant sexual behaviour such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

In order to support this, the MUI in the Jakarta satellite city of Depok in cooperation with the Sawangan sub-district Quran Study Congregations Friendship Forum (Fosima) is holding a seminar rejecting LGBT.

"It is hoped that the seminar can improve young people's knowledge about the dangers of LGBT and become a bulwark for society not to get involved in it", said MUI Sawangan sub-district chairperson Abdullah Syafii on Friday February 2.

According to Syafii, LGBT is a behaviour which deviates from Islamic teachings and social norms. What is needed therefore is resoluteness in opposing behaviour which is in conflict with the essence and dignity of humanity.

"Society, particularly teenagers must be furnished with [the knowledge] to oppose deviant sexual behaviour. These teenagers and youth are the nations' future generation", he concluded.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "MUI Depok Minta Masyarkat Tangkal LGBT".]

Source: http://nasional.republika.co.id/berita/nasional/jabodetabek-nasional/18/02/02/p3j57b354-mui-depok-minta-masyarkat-tangkal-lgbt

Google blocks gay dating app Blued after requests from Indonesian

Gay Star News - February 1, 2018

Shannon Power – Tech giant Google has followed requests from the Indonesian government and removed the gay dating app Blued.

About two weeks ago the Indonesian Ministry of Communications asked Google to block access to 73 LGBTI related smartphones applications.

The government wanted Blued shut down because it believed it contravened the country's anti-pornography laws. Google would not reveal whether it would comply with the government's request to block the remaining apps.

'We adhere to applicable local law in the countries in which we operate, but don't comment on individual apps,' a Google spokesperson told Gay Star News.

But on Wednesday (31 January) a spokesperson for the Communications ministry said Blued was no longer available in the Google Play Store.

'There was some negative content related to pornography inside the application,' Noor Iza told AFP. 'Probably one or some members of the application put the pornographic content inside.'

Chinese owned Blued is the world's most used gay dating app with 27 million users worldwide. Blued is still available in the Apple store in Indonesia.

Blued's website is blocked in Indonesia after the government banned LGBTI content online.

Google's transparency report

Every few months Google updates its Transparency Report, which reveals 'data that sheds light on how the policies and actions of governments and corporations affect privacy, security, and access to information online'.

The report also includes a section dedicated to government requests to remove content.

Consumers will have to wait a few months before being able to read more about Google's decision to comply with the Indonesian government's request to block Blued.

Indonesian persecution of LGBTI people

During its two year crackdown on the LGBTI community, the government and law enforcement have used the country's anti-pornography law to persecute LGBTI people.

Multiple raids across the country have been carried out under the guise of preventing pornography in the country.

The government blocked the use of GIFs on the popular instant messaging service WhatsApp last year. The Communications Ministry said it could not monitor GIFs because of WhatsApp's encryption. It argued GIFs could be used to spread 'obscene content'.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia but the House of Representatives is reviewing amendments to the Criminal Code which could see homosexuality as soon as Valentine's Day this year.

Gay Star News has reached out to Blued for comment.

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/google-blocks-gay-dating-app-blued-after-requests-from-indonesian-government/

Corruption & abuse of power

Special committee drops formation of KPK supervisory council

Tempo - February 6, 2018

Jakarta – The special committee of inquiry on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has dropped its recommendation on the formation of a supervisory council for the anti-graft body.

The authority to supervise the commission would lie in the hands of the institution and public, Taufiqqulhadi, deputy chief of the House of Representatives' special committee, remarked.

"There is no clause on the supervisory body in our recommendation," Taufiqqulhadi noted on Monday.

The special committee's recommendation will focus on three issues in KPK's internal management, and the formation of the supervisory council was viewed as being a less important issue to be included in the draft recommendation, he explained.

A supervisory council will not be necessary if public supervision has been put into effective practice.

"On this supervisory issue, we let the KPK and public handle it. If public supervision has run well, we will not include the formation of the supervisory council in the recommendation," he noted.

Taufiqqulhadi claimed that the decision was not taken under the threat of any parties, but after taking into account the opinion of legal experts and a series of discussion.

"The draft recommendation to raise the budget for the KPK has been delayed, as some factions have yet to reach an agreement on the draft," he revealed.

Taufiqqulhadi asserted that the special committee's recommendation did not mention the draft law on tapping.

– Antara

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/06/055915483/Special-Committee-Drops-Formation-of-KPK-Supervisory-Council

Zumi Zola not stepping down after being named graft suspect

Jakarta Post - February 3, 2018

Jon Afrizal, Jambi – A day after being named a graft suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Jambi Governor Zumi Zola said on Saturday he would not step down and would continue to work.

In a press conference held in his official residence on Saturday, the former actor said Home Minister Tjahyo Kumolo had not issued an instruction for him to leave his post.

He sent a plea for the public to maintain the presumption of innocence while the case was under investigation.

On Friday, the antigraft body named Zumi Zola a suspect in a graft case related to the 2018 Jambi provincial budget. He has also been barred from traveling overseas since Jan. 25.

KPK investigators searched his official residence in Jambi and a villa in East Tanjung Jabung from Wednesday to early morning on Thursday. They seized several documents and three vaults containing cash in both rupiah and US dollars.

Zumi Zola faces charges under the 2001 Corruption Law, which carries a maximum punishment of 20 years' imprisonment as well as a Rp 1 billion (US$74,600) fine.

Zumi Zola started his political career as National Mandate Party (PAN) Tanjung Jabung chairman in 2010. He served as Tanjung Jabung regent in 2011 and won the 2015 election to serve as Jambi governor for the 2016 – 2021 term.

Besides Zumi Zola, three other Jambi officials and a PAN member of the legislative council have also been named suspects in the case. (gis/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/03/zumi-zola-not-stepping-down-after-being-named-graft-suspect.html

Setya Novanto conceals list of names involved in e-KTP graft

Tempo - February 2, 2018

Jakarta – The electronic ID card (e-KTP) graft case defendant Setya Novanto does not plan to publically expose the names of individuals who received the e-KTP graft money flow.

The list of receivers has been handed over to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators as a requirement to become a justice collaborator.

"It's a secret," said Setya Novanto at the corruption court in Central Jakarta, Thursday, February 1. A justice collaborator must be willing to reveal new information about the involvement of other people.

Based on a report published in this week's edition of Tempo Magazine, Setya Novanto personally wrote his request letter to become a justice collaborator. The four-page letter is filled with lists of names that Setya claims are involved in the e-KTP graft case.

Setya wrote the receivers' name he obtained from businessman Andi Narogong in a black notebook.

KPK Deputy Chief Laode Muhammad Syarif has also read the letter and said that Setya did not reveal any new names that the KPK already know about.

Setya Novanto's lawyer Maqdir Ismail said that his client has shown a considerable amount of commitment to be a justice collaborator by revealing the names of other suspects.

Previously, Maqdir asked for Setya and his family to be provided with protection for fear of threats and retaliation from the individuals mentioned by Setya Novanto.

– Lani Diana Wijaya

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/02/055915387/Setya-Novanto-Conceals-List-of-Names-Involved-in-E-KTP-Graft

ICW suggests wiretapping law for KPK is unnecessary

Tempo - February 1, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) argues that the draft law (RUU) on wiretapping is not necessarily needed. It was recommended by the House's special committee (Pansus) on the inquiry of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

ICW reasons that the wiretapping law is the special committee's strategy to weaken KPK. "It isn't needed since KPK's wiretapping is already regulated," said ICW researcher Donald Fariz on Thursday, February 1.

Donald argues that the recommendation is just a move to hamper KPK since the Pansus doesn't dare to fiddle with the KPK Law (UU KPK). "They know that members of the public would be against it, so they are trying something else," said Donald.

He suggested that the House of Representatives (DPR) is better off supervising how wiretaps are implemented by law enforcers such as the KPK, Attorney General's Office, Indonesian National Police, and other similar institutions.

"The DPR should have sought out whether the practice of wiretapping has already complied with existing rules or not," said Donald.

Member of the House of Representatives special committee (Pansus) on the KPK inquiry Junimart Girsang previously said that one of the committee's recommendations is to form a Law on Wiretapping as a way to strengthen the KPK.

– Zara Amelia

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/01/055915361/ICW-Suggests-Wiretapping-Law-for-KPK-is-Unnecessary

Freedom of religion & worship

Charity offers free electricity to Baduy community members that

Coconuts Jakarta - February 2, 2018

So, you may remember a story from earlier this week about a church charity event in Yogyakarta that was shut down on Sunday by Islamic hardliner groups accusing the church of "Christianization" (a local term for conspiratorial attempts by Christians to convert Muslims) since the event involved selling low priced packages of food staples to low-income families.

Wonder what those groups would call this? This viral picture shows men holding a banner that says "Giving free electricity aid to Mualaf Baduy" and below that it says PT PLN (Persero) South Banten.

The Baduy are a traditional Bantenese community that have long been largely isolated from the rest of Indonesian society and followed their own indigenous spiritual beliefs known as Agama Sunda Wiwitan.

Mualaf is a term used to describe those who wish to convert or have recently converted to Islam. PLN is Indonesia's state-run electricity utility operator.

Put that together, and it kinda looks like a state-run company is offering citizens free electricity to change their religion. But, according to PLN, that is not the case and the banner in the above viral photo is simply mistaken.

"It's just that banner is mistaken, so it's become a commodity on social media and been misinterpreted," said PT PLN corporate communication head I Made Suprateka to CNN Indonesia today.

According to Suprateka, the electricity aid money was indeed given to members of the Baduy that had converted to Islam, but that money did not come from PLN. Rather, the money was dispersed by Yayasan Baitul Mal (YBM), a charity established by employees of PT PLN in South Banten.

Suprateka said that PLN as an institution would never favor any ethnic or religious group over another but defended the donation by the PLN employee charity as a pure form of ibadah (worship) to empower Baduy who had converted to Islam.

According to media reports, the charity gave a total of IDR351 million (US$24.500) to Baduy converts to cover electricity payments in addition to assistance in installing electricity into their homes and businesses and agricultural seeds.

"The distribution of aid was given to Baduy citizens who have converted to Islam so they can live independently and are able to manage their businesses," said Feyza Ulufiyah, the head of Wantisari Village in the subdistrict of Lebak, as quoted by Tempo.

Even if it wasn't PLN that gave the money to the Baduy converts, are Indonesians really okay with charities giving people financial incentives to convert to Islam? (The difference between this and the Yogyakarta church charity event that got shut down by Islamic hardliners are hopefully obvious to all.)

Followers of Indonesia's indigenous religions only recently won the right to declare their faith on their official state ID cards' mandatory religion category (as opposed to declaring themselves a member of one of Indonesia's six officially recognized religions or leaving it blank). While many considered it a victory for religious freedoms, others have been concerned that it could ultimately lead to greater persecution of religious minority groups.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/viral-charity-offers-free-electricity-members-baduy-community-converted-islam/

Hardliners shut down church charity event in Yogya citing fears of

Coconuts Jakarta - February 1, 2018

News reports and surveys seem to show a steady rise in religious intolerance in Indonesia over the last few years. The latest high-profile instance of intolerance took place in Yogyakarta on Sunday morning when a social event at a local church was cancelled due to intimidation by hardline Islamic organizations,

The Santo Paulus Catholic Church in Bantul was set to hold an outdoor event that morning, one in a series to celebrate the church's 32nd anniversary, that involved selling cheap packages of staple food items (like rice and sugar) to people the neighborhood. The event was to be held at the home of the local village head.

However, before the event could start, a group of about 50 people from various Islamic organizations including the Islamic Jihad Front (FJI), Muslim Peoples Forum (FUI) and the Indonesian Mujaheddin Council, arrived to demand they cancel the event.

Explaining why they would ask the church to cancel an event aimed at helping the less fortunate, FJI leader Abdurrahman accused the church of "Christianization" (a term used locally to describe conspiratorial attempts by Christians to convert Muslims) as they were targeting low-income Muslims.

"Church activities should be done in the church. They should not involve Muslims," Abdurrahman told Tempo.

The church committee decided to cancel the event in light of the intimidation by the various groups. Police said that no crime was committed as the Islamic groups did not use force and attributed the conflict to a lack of communication.

Rights groups, including the interfaith Brotherhood of the Faithful Forum, have called upon the Yogyakarta police and government to condemn the incident and take steps to prevent similar acts of intolerance from taking place again.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/hardline-islamic-groups-shut-church-charity-event-yogyakarta-citing-fears-christianization/

Jakarta & urban life

Floods affect 11,000 Jakarta residents

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2018

Winda A. Charmila, Jakarta – The Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency reported that more than 11,000 residents in three regions have been affected by floods, with half of them having to be evacuated.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 7,288 families – totaling 11,450 residents – spread over 12 districts in East, South and West Jakarta have been affected by the floods, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) data showed. Thousands of homes are reportedly inundated with waters.

"As many as 6,532 residents have been evacuated to 31 shelters in South and East Jakarta. Many others, however, refused to be evacuated and stayed at home," BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement on Tuesday.

The water level in Katulampa dam in Bogor, West Java, reached 240 centimeters prompting a level I alert on Monday. It caused inundation in some areas of the city.

In East Jakarta, 1,575 Kramatjati district residents were evacuated, followed by Jatinegara district with 1,057. Meanwhile, in South Jakarta most of the affected residents, numbering 3,200, live in Pancoran district, followed by Tebet district with 700 people.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the water level in Katulampa dam was considered normal, while the Manggarai sluice gate in South Jakarta reached level III.

The Jakarta administration has prepared 450 water pumps in anticipation of more floods.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/06/floods-affect-11000-jakarta-residents.html

West Jakarta residents demand that Anies cancel eviction

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2018

Winda A. Charmila, Jakarta – Residents of Kapuk Poglar in Cengkareng, West Jakarta, staged a rally in front of City Hall on Tuesday to demand that Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan give them legal protection as they are set to be evicted from their homes so that the construction of a police housing complex can take place.

They visited City Hall on April 26 and Feb. 5, but on both days Anies refused to meet with them on the grounds that he did not have authority on the matter.

"The administration is obliged to guarantee the right to adequate housing for its residents and assure no forced evictions are carried out, as mentioned by Anies and his deputy Sandiaga Uno in their political promises," said Jakarta Legal Aid Institute lawyer Nelson Simamora on Tuesday.

The Jakarta Police plans to evict residents of Kapuk Poglar on Thursday to build a police housing complex. They claimed the process was allowed under a land rights certificate they held. However, residents have occupied the land since the 1970s, before the certificate was issued.

The eviction would result in 166 families leaving their homes. The police have summoned 125 residents who have allegedly been occupying the land without permission.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/06/west-jakarta-residents-demand-that-anies-cancel-eviction.html

Jakarta's river water severely polluted: Bappenas

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2018

Jakarta – River water in Jakarta may put people's health at risk if consumed, as 96 percent of the water is severely polluted, the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) has said.

Bappenas' observations showed that the 13 rivers in the city were contaminated with a high level of biochemical oxygen demand, phosphor and nitrogen.

"The quality of the 13 rivers is bad. [Observations] using drones showed that most of the water was not clear," Bappenas' irrigation division director, Abdul Malik Sadat Idris, told kompas.com.

A lack of sanitation systems in residential areas, Abdul added, had contributed to the condition. While city-owned water operator (PDAM) can only meet 55 percent of the city's water needs, the capital reportedly loses 4 cubic meters of water stock a second.

Abdul called on the city administration to immediately take measures to improve the quality of water, adding that the Public Works and Housing Ministry would help build 72 sanitation units across the city.

The city will also reportedly build other 200 sanitation units along with water distribution pipe networks, which would cost an estimated Rp 18.7 trillion (US$1.4 billion).

The administration was also urged to evaluate its water pricing system, as most residents – who refused to use PDAM's service owing to lack of affordability – were using river water to fulfill their daily needs. (vla)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/02/jakartas-river-water-severely-polluted-bappenas.html

Retail & service industry

Retailers suffer as Indonesians choose travel over shopping

Nikkei Asian Review - February 7, 2018

Wataru Suzuki, Jakarta – Clarks and Gap are among the fashion retailers counting their last days in Southeast Asia's largest economy.

The U.K. and U.S. brands are both expected to close all of their stores in Indonesia within the coming weeks, following in the footsteps of Debenhams, the British department store chain which shut down at the beginning of this year.

"Sales were falling 50%, 60% from a year ago," said Rubby Destrison, a spokesman for Anglo Distrindo Antara, the local distributor for U.K. footwear brand Clarks. "Meanwhile our operational costs were rising. So the company's financials became very unhealthy."

The company began closing its 25 Indonesian stores during the middle of 2017, and is now conducting a fire sale at its remaining 10 outlets before shutting completely. Its 170 employees will be laid off.

The string of closures has sparked concerns locally about Indonesia's dwindling purchasing power.

The data suggest that household consumption has been growing at a slower pace compared to previous years. On Monday, the Central Statistics Agency said gross domestic product grew 5.07% in 2017, a slight pickup from the previous year. Household consumption, which accounts for more than half of the economy, grew 4.97% and weighed on overall growth.

But some economists point to a more fundamental reason driving the brands out of business – a change in consumer behavior. Indonesians are no longer spending on clothes; expenditure on clothes and shoes grew only 3.62% last year – making up the lowest segment of household consumption. Instead, they have been saving up and spending more on experiences such as traveling.

Meanwhile, the tourism sector is booming. Domestic airline passengers in 2017 grew 11.07% from a year ago to 89.4 million people. Outbond air passengers grew 12.43%. Household spending on restaurants and hotels grew 5.38%. The government has slashed foreign ownership restrictions on budget hotels and restaurants, and is rushing to build infrastructure like Kertajati airport in West Java, which is expected to start operations later this year.

"This is a typical characteristic change from the middle class," said former finance minister Chatib Basri. "They no longer talk about 'needs' but 'wants'. Fifteen years ago affordability was the most important [factor], but now there is a shift to leisure."

That shift is putting pressure on brick-and-mortar shops. Mitra Adiperkasa, Indonesia's largest retailer of foreign brands, tripled its store count between 2008 and 2015 to 2,059 outlets, but as of September 2017 had cut back to 1,916 stores. Following a "strategic review" of its department store division, the company announced in October that it would discontinue two of its five department store brands, including Debenhams. The company recently told analysts that it would book a one-time charge of around 100 billion rupiah ($7 million) in restructuring charges for the year ended December.

As some fashion brands lose their appeal, mall operators are shifting to food and entertainment. In September, Japanese retailer Aeon opened a mall on the outskirts of Jakarta in which 52% of its tenants were food-court stalls or restaurants, a composition that is 10 percentage points higher than at its first mall. Others are focusing on integrating the digital experience into their physical stores. Lippo Group, a local conglomerate that runs a large retail business, has been offering discounts for users who use its Ovo electronic wallet app in restaurants and parking lots.

"Since 1998, with a few corrections it has been strong growth," Lippo's Executive Director John Riady told the Nikkei Asian Review in a recent interview. "But we are entering a new normal, where growth will be a bit lower. So businesses will have to work harder."

Indonesia is a sprawling archipelago where traditional, independent "mom-and-pop" shops still dominate the retail industry. So far, there have been few signs that employment in the retail industry, which accounts for about a fifth of the working population, is being squeezed. But the closure of foreign branded stores is fueling concerns over the labor market.

"There is little doubt that a structural shift in the retail and the services industries is ongoing, which could potentially result in more layoffs and labor-market tumult over the medium-term," economists at Bank Central Asia said in a recent research report.

Such concerns will be on policymakers' minds as the nation heads towards key elections – simultaneous regional elections will take place this June and a presidential election follows in April 2019.

Rising prices of crude oil and other commodities such as coal are starting to put pressure on government-controlled fuel and electricity prices. Some observers believe that price hikes are unlikely in the near term, which is likely to burden the state budget or the finances of state-owned companies.

"We are committed to supporting consumption growth of around 5%," Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told an investment forum in Jakarta on Wednesday.

[Nikkei Staff Writer Erwida Maulia in Jakarta contributed to this story.]

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Consumers/Retailers-suffer-as-Indonesians-choose-travel-over-shopping

Armed forces & defense

Activists slam MoU legitimising TNI's involvement in handling protests,

BBC Indonesia - February 2, 2018

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Indonesian military (TNI) and police on the involvement of the TNI in police duties such as confronting protests and strikes has been criticised as a step back for reformasi.

"This represents a step back for freedom and democracy", Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid told BBC Indonesia on Friday February 2.

According to Usman, the involvement of the TNI in handling internal security is not in accordance with the mandate of reformasi – the reform process that began in 1998. "There are signs of a reverse in the direction of Indonesian democracy ", said Usman.

TNI spokesperson Major General Sabrar Fadhilah acknowledged the existence of the MoU on the TNI's role in assisting the police in civilian affairs. "Essentially it is for cooperation to provide assistance to the police", Fadhilah told BBC Indonesia on Friday February 2.

What is the MoU exactly?

The MoU, among other things, regulates how the TNI can assist the police in, for example, confronting protests, labour strikes, mass riots, social conflicts and securing social activities and the government.

The MoU, which was signed by Indonesian Police Chief General Tito Karnavian and TNI Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, states that all costs related to this assistance will be borne by the police.

The MoU, which was signed on January 23 and is valid for five years, can be renewed with the agreement of both parties. "[This MoU] will end if there is a law/government regulation or presidential decree that regulates TNI assistance to the police", the MoU states.

Fadhilah said that the issues regulated by the MoU are in accordance with existing legislation. This includes, among others, Law Number 2/2002 on the National Police, Law Number 34/2004 on the TNI, Law Number 7/2012 on Handling Social Conflicts and Law Number 39/1999 on Human Rights.

Article 7 of Law Number 34/2004 on the TNI states that in carrying out its duties, the TNI can assist the police in maintaining security and public order. Law Number 7/2012 meanwhile regulates the TNI's role in handling social conflicts. Article 33 states that a request for TNI assistance must still be submitted to the government.

The new MoU, continued Fadhilah, is an extension of a previous MoU that was signed in 2013. "Cooperation and assistance has continued to this day", he said.

According to Fadhilah, the TNI will stand behind the police in carrying out security functions. "We will continue (the approach of) prioritising the police's role", he said.

Workers reject TNI involvement

One of the points that has been highlighted in the MoU is the TNI's involvement in dealing with strikes, given that going on strike is a workers' right and problems related to industrial relations "do not need to involve the security forces".

"Clearly we oppose this", said Simon, a labour activist from the Indonesian Trade Union Alliance Congress (KASBI), because, "Their presence is quite intimidating".

The MoU, continued Simon, can be used as grounds for the TNI to become involved in labour conflicts. "It will legitimise repressive actions against workers", he said.

According to Simon, even without the MoU, every time workers strike the TNI is always present. The military's justification for this is because it is within their area of operations.

A similar view was expressed by University of Indonesia labour and politics observer Irwansyah. "Demonstrations and strikes are regulated under law. There's no need for the involvement of the military which should not be made available for such needs", he said.

According to Irwansyah, the involvement of the military, particularly in dealing with strikes, has the potential to trigger violence and intimidation as occurred during the New Order era of former president Suharto. "This will do irreparable damage to the spirit of reformasi", said the former 1998 activist.

Irwansyah highlighted the many cases of violence involving the military that have still not been fully resolved. "For example the Semanggi I and 2 [shooting of student demonstrators in 1998 and 1999] and the murder of labour activist Marsinah [in 1993]", he said.

Usman Hamid also cited similar examples of violence such the case of La Gode in North Maluku Utara in October last year who was found dead after being detained and tortured at a military post in Banau.

"Every time there is institutional or professional misconduct in the military there is never any real accountability", said Usman.

He added that the clearest example is in West Papua where "unprofessional" security personnel handle peaceful protests. "Which result in shootings or killings", said Usman.

Amnesty International believes that the MoU will have a negative impact on the quality of democracy, freedom and human rights.

According to Usman, the involvement of the military in security is a consequence of security institutions' low level of accountability. "And this is a logical consequence of the civilian authorities who sideline security institutions' accountability", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "MoU TNI dan Polri: Keterlibatan TNI untuk tangani unjuk rasa dan mogok diprotes".]

Source: http://www.bbc.com/indonesia/indonesia-42916181

Criminal justice & legal system

Outgoing narcotics chief says drug users should get community service

Coconuts Jakarta - February 7, 2018

Back in September 2015, when he was inaugurated as the head of Indonesia's National Narcotics Agency (BNN), Budi Waseso said that rehabilitation was the wrong solution to the country's drug problems and a drain on resources.

Later in his tenure as BNN chief, Budi made international headlines for his plans (which never materialized) to build a remote island prison for drug dealers that would be guarded by crocodiles. What a difference a few years on the job, and imminent retirement, can make.

The nation's top drug cop recently announced that he would be retiring from his post in March and he had his final meeting with the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission III yesterday for a performance review of his time as the head of BNN.

While at the DPR, Budi made a surprisingly common sense recommendation about the country's drug policy that most would find at odd with his otherwise hardline stance. Beginning with an acknowledgement that the country's prison system is massively overcrowded, he went on to say that the nation's narcotics laws need to be changed so that regular drug users are no longer sent to prison.

"The punishment for users only should be just 3 months community service. They would have to report to the police and do social work like cleaning up public markets or terminals," Budi said yesterday as quoted by Detik.

But if you were concerned that Budi was going soft before retirement you need not fret. He reiterated his support for the death penalty for drug dealers, saying the government shouldn't take so long to execute them after sentencing.

While the use of the death penalty in Indonesia has been under an unofficial moratorium for some time, the country did see a sharp increase in the number of drug dealers shot by police last year, allegedly for resisting arrest, following speeches from both Budi and President Joko Widodo saying they should not hesitate to do so.

Despite all that, Budi's the suggestion that the government replace mandatory drug sentencing with community service is one that makes sense of many levels.

As Budi mentioned the Indonesian prison system is notoriously overcrowded, with ratios of a single security guard being responsible for overseeing hundreds or even thousands of inmates at some facilities. This is not only inhumane, it also allows for corruption within the penal system to go almost unchecked, with numerous reports of drug dealers operating from inside jails (often with the assistance of prison officials).

But it is likely that the outgoing BNN chief was able to make that suggestion with the knowledge that he is soon going to be retired and it won't be his problem to deal with. Indonesians overwhelmingly support harsh penalties for drug crimes and no matter how much sense it makes to give users community service instead of prison sentences, politically it may be a no go.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/outgoing-narcotics-agency-chief-says-drug-users-get-community-service-instead-jail-time/

Lawmakers agree to criminalize sex outside of marriage, but with a major

Coconuts Jakarta - February 6, 2018

Many in Indonesia have been concerned about a conservative new revision to the country's criminal code (RKUHP) that's currently under discussion by the House of Representatives (DPR).

Yesterday evening, lawmakers from the (DPR) and the government agreed to some controversial changes to the law that will make all sex outside of marriage, as well as cohabitation of non-married couples, potentially illegal.

"Potentially" is the key word here, however, as lawmakers have moderated the new revisions by including clauses that only allow for spouses, parents, or children of the suspects to report those crimes to the police.

"So, not everyone can file criminal reports. Paragraph 2 affirms that the only complainants can be a husband, wife, parents or children, it has been agreed," said RKUHP committee chairperson Benny K. Harman yesterday during a meeting of the drafting and synchronization teams between the government and the DPR as quoted by Kompas.

Lawmakers said this provision was to prevent members of the general public from persecuting individuals using the new laws, something human rights activists had been especially worried about given Indonesia's already endemic problems with moral vigilantism.

Adultery, in the sense of a married person cheating on their spouse, has actually long been illegal in Indonesia but only spouses were legally allowed to report it to the police.

Discussion about RKUHP first entered the spotlight last month amid another moral panic over LGBT rights, with the majority of political parties saying they would support amending the criminal code to make homosexual acts illegal (rather than risk looking weak on moral issues ahead of this year's regional elections).

Not long after, human rights activists and the media who had seen a copy of the draft text alerted the public to the fact that the revised code targeted not only homosexuality but all sex outside of marriage. It also contains provisions that would make insulting the president a crime punishable by up to 5 years in jail as well as articles that could undermine corruption investigations.

Opposition to these controversial revisions formed quickly online, with a Change.org petition asking the DPR to reject RKUHP having already garnered 50,000 signatures.

While the agreed upon paragraphs regarding adultery and cohabitation still represent a serious step backwards for individual rights and freedoms in Indonesia, the stipulation that only spouses, parents or children can report the crimes does mitigate the damage they can do. If we were being optimistic, we'd say it represents the DPR's desire to take a more moderate approach than the one demanded by religious fundamentalists.

As for the revision regarding the criminalization of homosexuality, that is still pending discussion by the RKUHP committee. There are two alternative versions of the proposed revision, including a more moderate version that would only criminalize homosexual acts with minors or in public.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-lawmakers-agree-criminalize-sex-outside-marriage-major-provision/

Extraordinary crimes must be addressed in separate regulation: Komnas

Jakarta Globe - February 3, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – The national human rights body said it would be better to address extraordinary crimes, such as crimes against humanity and war crimes, in a separate regulation instead of including it in the revised criminal code.

"Specifically on serious human rights violations, it is better to address it in a separate regulation because there are basic principles that are different from ordinary crimes," Choirul Anam, a commissioner at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said at a press conference in Jakarta on Friday (02/02).

He added that these principle differences include aspects such as the construction of cases and evidence, as well as the logic of legal reasoning.

Komnas HAM also raised concerns that the current draft revisions of the criminal code may lead to impunity for perpetrators of past human rights abuses in Indonesia.

According to the human rights body, it would be more strategic to revise the 2000 Law on Human Rights Courts rather than incorporating it into the revised criminal code, which is currently being discussed at the House of Representatives.

"We would appreciate a revision of the 2000 Law on Human Rights, to make it more complete – strengthen weak articles and incorporate what may be missing. It will be a better achievement as opposed to simply including it in the criminal code," Anam said.

Sandrayati Moniaga, Komnas HAM vice chairwoman for external affairs, said the commission had been proposing revisions to the law since 2011. "However, they did not include it in the last list of national legislative priorities," she said.

Criminal Code revisions

Komnas HAM said at the press conference that the finalization of criminal code revisions should be postponed, highlighting the need to further evaluate the current draft and that it should include more perspectives from members of Indonesian society.

The draft revisions were reportedly slated to be passed in February, prompting concern among various nongovernmental institutions and private individuals.

Concerned citizens started an online petition on Monday demanding that the House reconsider problematic morality articles in the draft, including the extension of criminalizing zina, or adultery, to all forms of extramarital sex. Nearly 40,000 people had already signed the petition as of Friday evening.

The Indonesian Center of Law and Policy Studies (PSHK) issued a press statement saying that the government should postpone plans to vote on the revisions, citing concerns that the threat of imprisonment is still high and prioritized in the draft.

Tunggal Pawestri, a human rights activist and one of the people behind the petition, told the Jakarta Globe in an email that it would be better to postpone the revisions until after the upcoming elections.

"Since this discussion will require well-considered decisions, it's better to postpone all the discussions regarding norms and morality in society," Tunggal said.

Furthermore, she encouraged citizens to continue monitoring the progress by being more proactive, including checking updates from various civil society organizations on the criminal code revisions, such as those by the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR).

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/human-rights-news/extraordinary-crimes-must-addressed-separate-regulation-komnas-ham/

Criminal code revisions should be put back in drawer: Rights commission

Jakarta Globe - February 3, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights, or Komnas HAM, said on Friday (02/02) the current criminal code revisions being deliberated in the parliament should be re-evaluated with more input from the public.

"The best option is not to [adopt the revisions] in haste. We should evaluate them further, test what possible impact they might have and try to get more input," Komnas HAM commissioner Choirul Anam said during a press conference in Jakarta.

Anam said all the revisions should be consistent with previous Constitutional Court rulings, especially the ones on the limitations of government power and freedom of opinion.

But the draft of revisions being negotiated at the House of Representatives now still contains articles that had already been rejected by the Constitutional Court, including one on insulting the president and vice president, a draft of which was rejected in 2006.

Komnas HAM said the impact from the revised articles has to be tested to ensure the new laws are relevant to current realities.

There are still also articles in the current revision draft that advocate for punishment that are much harsher than the crimes, according to Anam.

One element of the revisions that has caught the public imagination is the articles on morality, in particular about zina, or adultery.

The concern is that if these articles are passed, they will constitute an invasion of privacy and give legitimacy to persecution and vigilante culture. Until Friday night, an online petition protesting the revisions had been signed by 39,300 people.

"There's often a disconnect between the law and how it is practiced... this is why testing the revisions' impact will be paramount," Anam said.

He said the parliament should invite more people to give their perspectives on the revised criminal code and simulate its impact on people.

"For example, the House can invite the National Development Planning Agency to see how the revisions will affect the economy, or how the national budget can be misused to punish people who do not toe the government line instead of being given to poor families and their children," Anam said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/human-rights-news/criminal-code-revisions-put-back-drawer-rights-commission/

Indonesian lawmakers push to outlaw unmarried and gay sex

Nikkei Asian Review - February 2, 2018

Erwida Maulia, Jakarta – Indonesia's parliament looks set to pass a new criminal code that will outlaw gay sex and sex outside marriage. The move comes as political parties – Islamic or not – scramble to play the morality card and appeal to increasingly conservative Muslim voters ahead of regional elections in June.

Lawmakers from all 10 political parties in the House have reportedly agreed that gay sex, as well as premarital and extramarital sex, should be included in the legal clause on adultery, under which perpetrators will be subject to punishment of up to five years in prison.

"It's almost final now, regarding the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] issue. We're working on extending the definition of LGBT," Hanafi Rais, a lawmaker from the Islamic-leaning National Mandate Party, told local reporters on Thursday.

Lawmakers are also seeking imprisonment for those who "campaign for LGBT, justify LGBT and mobilize" support for LGBT, he added.

Another clause in the draft revision of the criminal code seeks a one-year sentence for cohabiting couples. This will be the first revision of the criminal code issued in 1946.

The four Islamic-leaning parties in the House control only a minority of seats, but some of their shariah-inspired campaigns seem to resonate with what observers see as an increasingly conservative population in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.

The influence of hardline Muslim groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front and Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia is expanding. While their hardline views are hardly shared by the majority of Indonesian Muslims, who adopt moderate Islamic teachings, their ability to provoke mass demonstrations – with clear support from parties opposed to President Jokowi Widodo – has given then some sway over moderates.

The two groups successfully organized two big Muslim rallies in late 2016 that led to the fall of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, previously a popular incumbent despite his Chinese Christian background, and subsequently his imprisonment for blasphemy.

The six secular parties, which control the majority of the House, do not seem willing to risk losing Muslim votes ahead of crucial elections in June, when 171 regions will vote for new governors, mayors and district heads. The parties, including Widodo's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, have sometimes complied with their Islamic counterparts' push.

"I'm sure the National Human Rights Commission shares our view to reject the existence of LGBT, and I'm sure it will even support expansion [of punishment for] LGBT perpetrators," House speaker Bambang Soesatyo of the Golkar Party, the second-largest secular party in the House, said last week.

An official with the state-funded rights commission declined to comment and said it is still "studying" the matter, despite an outcry from rights groups.

"[The adultery clause] means that everyone can report others for adultery. That will surely increase persecution and vigilantism," activist Tunggal Pawestri said in a petition to reject the bill on the Change.org website, which was signed by nearly 40,000 people as of Friday afternoon.

"People will race to become moral cops and intervene in others' privacy. There will be more raids of houses, boarding houses, apartments and other private areas if the clause is endorsed."

Widodo himself has been silent, as he has been on increasing police raids and vigilante activity against gay people over the past year – actions which rights groups describe as "inhumane treatment." These include last week's police round-up of transgender people working in hair salons in Aceh, the only Indonesian province adopting shariah law.

With the House controlled by the pro-government coalition, the president in theory has the power to overturn aspects of the controversial bill. But with his standing already fragile among conservatives – he almost lost the election in 2014 amid allegations he was anti-Islam – the president is unlikely to risk any moves that could easily be portrayed by his opponents as being pro-LGBT and alienate Muslim voters.

Any such moves would run contrary to his recent efforts to cement his Muslim credentials with vocal support for Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority and Palestinians, and with his recent tour to predominantly Muslim nations in South Asia. The tour included Afghanistan, where he insisted on arriving in Kabul on Monday, just two days after the most deadly attack in recent months in the Afghan capital.

It is not clear when the new criminal code will be passed. Lawmakers originally aimed for January, but a number of contentious clauses are dragging out deliberations. They include an article on defamation that will make criticizing the president punishable by imprisonment.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Indonesian-lawmakers-push-to-outlaw-unmarried-and-gay-sex

Free trade & neoliberalism

Jokowi wants to privatize airports, says Luhut

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2018

Jakarta – Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Thursday that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo intended to privatize several airports.

According to the Antara report, Luhut said the airports that could be privatized included the newly inaugurated Silangit International Airport in North Sumatra, the HAS Hanandjoeddin International Airport in Bangka Belitung and the one in Jakarta.

"'Those airports, Pak Luhut, just give [to the private sector]. Airports like Silangit, the ones in Jakarta and Bangka Belitung, just privatize [them] as long as the calculation is clear,'" Luhut quoted from his discussion with President Jokowi on Wednesday at the Presidential Palace.

Jokowi also informed him that Pakistan had just received a US$60 billion investment from China through the One Belt and One Road initiative, Luhut added.

Luhut said that the President also spoke of an airport in Islamabad, Pakistan, that was developed by China and would be named after Chinese President Xi Jinping.

While the concepts in Pakistan could not all be applied in Indonesia, he said the country could learn from Pakistan's "wisdom" in building a world-class airport.

"We will work on it, that is our spirit. We will make it so that the private sector will be vibrant," said Luhut. He stressed that the public should not misunderstand the move, and that the airports' privatization did not mean the government was selling state assets.

"So let's say [private companies] managed the airports for 30 years and make a profit [...] After 30 years, the airports would become [the government's] again," he said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/02/jokowi-wants-to-privatize-airports-says-luhut.html

Mining & energy

Energy ministry revokes 32 regulations

Jakarta Post - February 5, 2018

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry revoked on Monday 32 regulations, whether in the form of ministerial regulations or ministerial decrees, in a move that is expected to streamline bureaucracy and improve the country's investment climate.

Of the 32 revoked regulations, 11 come from the ministry's Directorate General of Oil and Gas, seven come from the Directorate General of Mineral and Coal, seven come from the Directorate General of Renewable Energy and four come from the Directorate General of Electricity.

In January, the ministry's electricity office revoked 11 regulations or merged them into the newly launched Decree No. 2/2018 on Indonesian National Standards in the power generation sector.

"The President has instructed us to decrease [the amount of] regulations to boost business and investment activities in the country," Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Monday.

"This will not stop here. Within the next one to two weeks, we will revoke more regulations."

The 11 revoked regulations from the oil and gas sector include ones related to work safety, the development of marginal oil fields, the use of foreign workers and the management of state facilities in upstream oil and gas operations.

Meanwhile, the seven revoked regulations from the renewable energy sector include ones related to the purchase of electricity generated from hydropower plants with a capacity lower than 10 megawatts and solar photovoltaic power plants.

The ministry's secretary-general, Ego Syahrial, said most provisions in the revoked regulations were covered in other regulations. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/05/energy-ministry-revokes-32-regulations.html

Economy & investment

Indonesia growth stunted by delays to Widodo infrastructure push

Nikkei Asian Review - February 6, 2018

Jun Suzuki, Jakarta – Indonesia's gross domestic product grew 5.07% in 2017, falling short of the government's 5.2% target, as President Joko Widodo's industrial reforms failed to pick up enough steam to tap into the brisk global economy.

The growth rate last year was slightly higher than 2016's 5.03%, the government's Statistics Indonesia agency reported Monday. GDP expanded 5.19% for the October-December quarter.

Domestic and foreign analysts believe Indonesia is capable of achieving roughly 6% growth as the largest economy in Southeast Asia and a Group of 20 member. But progress has been stunted at around 5% since Widodo took office in October 2014.

The disappointing results stem from delays in the country's ambitious $450 billion infrastructure plan and industrial development as well as its inability to escape from economic dependence on natural resource exports. Since taking office, Widodo has made some strides in infrastructure, such as high-speed rail lines and regional airports, but major projects like a large-scale power plant are behind schedule.

Widodo plans to use infrastructure development to make Indonesian industries like manufacturing more internationally competitive by lowering logistics costs, which are seen rising to 30% of GDP. His administration hopes that developing local industry, including investment from foreign companies, will translate into growth by boosting employment and consumption.

The government has also taken drastic measures to encourage a shift away from natural resource exports. It essentially banned outbound shipments of unprocessed ore of nickel and other metal, requiring that a certain amount be processed domestically.

In the 2000s, Indonesia showed some of the highest growth among emerging nations, thanks to soaring natural resource prices. But growth has slowed of late as natural resources prices come back down.

Auto manufacturing is seen as a promising alternative to resources for export. Car exports are climbing, topping 200,000 units in 2017. But there is still room for improvement, said one industry group executive, who noted that Thailand is opening up a big lead in the field.

Consumer spending is also weak. Indonesian central bank statistics show that monthly retail sales saw single-digit year-on-year growth nearly every month last year – compared to mostly double-digit figures until 2016 – as soaring demand from the middle-class begins to level off.

Representative of the drastic spike and plateau in consumption are motorcycles and smartphones. Over 8 million motorbikes were sold in 2011, but sales fell to under 6 million last year, given their prevalence in the country now. Smartphone sales have also dulled, now that more than half of Indonesians own one.

Lackluster wage increases are also impacting consumer sentiment. The minimum wage increase for this year, as mandated by the government, is the lowest in the last few years at just over 8%.

The Indonesian government forecasts 5.4% GDP growth for 2018, when the country will hold gubernatorial elections in major states considered the opening rounds of next year's presidential election. Consumption is likely to grow as political parties raise their expenditures and other temporary spending with the election in mind.

Widodo has vowed to continue his policies, but he will need to show that he can quickly implement measures as the 2019 election approaches.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Indonesia-growth-stunted-by-delays-to-Widodo-infrastructure-push

Inflation eases in January, aided by subdued rise in transport,

Jakarta Globe - February 1, 2018

Adinda Normala, Jakarta – Indonesia's annual inflation rate eased in January as a rise in raw food prices – the biggest inflation contributor – was offset by more subdued increases in transportation and communication costs, the Central Statistics Agency, or BPS, announced on Tuesday (01/02).

The agency said the headline consumer price index increased 3.25 percent in January compared with the same period a year ago. This was the slowest since December 2016. The CPI showed a 3.61 percent year-on-year increase in December.

The CPI rose 0.62 percent in January on a monthly basis, compared with 0.71 percent in December. Core inflation, which strips out administered and volatile food prices, increased to 2.69 percent from 2.95 in the previous month. This is the second month core inflation was below 3 percent.

Raw food prices made the biggest contribution to January inflation, with rice being the biggest single contributor, followed by chicken meat, fresh fish and chili peppers, BPS head Suhariyanto said in a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday.

However, he added that the upcoming harvest season in March and April is expected to tame the rice price.

Consumer spending on transportation and communication has meanwhile declined, influenced by lower airfares.

The government has set an inflation target of 3.5 percent for this year, as outlined in the 2018 state budget, while Bank Indonesia's target is between 2.5 percent and 4.5 percent.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/inflation-eases-in-january-aided-by-subdued-rise-in-transport-communication-costs/

Analysis & opinion

Indonesia's TNI reshuffle: Jokowi's strategic move – analysis

Eurasia Review - February 5, 2018

Chaula Anindya and Satrio Dwicahyo – Shortly after his inauguration as the new commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI), Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto took the unprecedented step of annulling a reshuffle of senior officers initiated by his predecessor, General Gatot Nurmantyo. The reshuffle was carried out just four days before Gen Gatot was to formally hand over the commandership of the military to his successor on 8 December 2017.

In the last three months of 2017, Gen Gatot did two reshuffles: one on 27 October and the other on 4 December. Unlike the reshuffle of 27 October, the 4 December leadership changes were puzzling. The second reshuffle involved 85 officers consisting 46 from the army, 28 from the Navy and 11 from the Air Force. It was baffling why Gen Gatot shifted some officers who previously held strategic appointments to lesser positions. For example, Maj Gen Imam Edy Mulyono, formerly Chief of Staff of the Army's Strategic and Reserve Command (Kostrad), was reassigned as "Special Staff to the Army Chief of Staff". Another rotation which attracted public attention was the replacement of Lt Gen Edy Rachmayadi as Kostrad commander by Maj Gen Sudirman who was the Security Assistant to the Army's Chief of Staff.

Why the puzzlement

The 4 December reshuffle raised questions for at least two reasons: the timing and ACM Hadi's decision to reverse it. The timing was considered sensitive because Gen Gatot issued it shortly before he stepped down as commander-in-chief. A defence expert from the University of Indonesia, Connie Rahakundini Bakrie, even called it a "time bomb" from Gen Gatot to ACM Hadi.

Watchdogs and NGOs, for instance Imparsial, considered Gen Gatot's decision to carry on with the reshuffle as an unethical step. Both comments were based on an interpretation that Gen Gatot's move could create internal conflict and obstruct ACM Hadi's path by placing the outgoing chief's men in key positions.

In what was seen as a tit-for-tat move on 19 December 2017, ACM Hadi removed 16 high-ranking army officers from the reshuffle list. This unexpected step evoked more questions. Since ACM Hadi revoked only 16 out of 46 army officers, including Lt Gen Edy's resignation, the spotlight was mostly directed on ACM Hadi's attitude towards the replacement for the most strategic positions such as the Kostrad commander from Lt Gen Edy to Maj Gen Sudirman.

Speculation was rife about whether ACM Hadi saw Maj Gen Sudirman as Gen Gatot's man and therefore decided not to give him a strategic position within the army. It is worth remembering that the Kostrad commander functions as the most strategic three-star officer tasked with leading joint annual exercises and other combined services activities.

ACM Hadi's official statements following the reversal of the 4 December reshuffle by Gen Gatot merely underlined career development as justification for his move. His subsequent reshuffle on 4 January 2018, however, may have the effect of confirming some of the speculation.

4 January Reshuffle: Positioning for Army Chief?

On 4 January 2018, ACM Hadi issued the Commander's Decree (Keputusan Panglima TNI) which rotated 20 high-ranking officers. The main highlight was the appointment of Lt Gen Agus Kriswanto, formerly head of the Army's training school (Kodiklat AD) as the commander of Kostrad. Another highlight was that of Maj Gen Andika Perkasa, an area commander, to replace him as head of Kodiklat AD. These positions are said to be stepping stones for an officer to become a strong candidate for Army Chief of Staff (KSAD).

Aside from these positions, there is also the Deputy KSAD (Wakasad), currently held by Lt Gen Tatang Sulaiman. There are other three-star positions from outside the army structure which could also be stepping stones to KSAD, such as the Secretary General of the Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs (Menkopolhukam) and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence (Kemhan).

Gen Mulyono will retire in January 2019, the year of the presidential election; thus his successor might be appointed sometime this year to prepare for the upcoming election. Nevertheless, Lt Gen Agus is unlikely to succeed Gen Mulyono as KSAD because he too will be retiring, in August 2018. The appointment of Lt Gen Agus as Kostrad commander might therefore be a strategic move by ACM Hadi and President Joko ("Jokowi") to buy time before finding the right person or probably, groom a trusted officer.

New chief of army on the horizon?

Maj Gen Andika Perkasa is believed to be groomed for the position of KSAD in the near future. His career has soared under the Jokowi presidency due to his personal relationship with the Megawati confidant AM Hendropriyono. Aside from being a retired general himself, Mr Hendropriyono is also a trusted adviser of President Jokowi.

Maj Gen Andika is, interestingly, the son-in-law of retired general Hendropriyono. He came into prominence after his promotion as commander of the Presidential Security Detail (Paspampres) from 2014 to 2016. His credentials for this position were, however, questioned as he spent most of his military career studying overseas, thus lacking operational experience. His recent rotation as the head of Kodiklat AD also means that he has been promoted as lieutenant general, becoming the most senior officer among his cohort.

Maj Gen Andika's accelerated promotion to KSAD could draw criticism within TNI AD circles and raise public concerns. The path from Kodiklat head to KSAD is not straightforward. But Gen Gatot and Gen Mulyono both served in Kodiklat AD as head and deputy respectively before rising to Kostrad commander and finally KSAD.

Andika Perkasa's road to KSAD

If the paths taken by Gen Gatot and Gen Mulyono to becoming KSAD are followed, Maj Gen Andika may likely replace Lt Gen Agus Kriswanto as Kostrad chief when he retires. Shifting Maj Gen Andika closer to the centre of the command structure is a strategic move to prepare him to become KSAD.

We might expect more names to move up, such as the young colonel Maruli Simanjuntak, who is the son-in-law of another retired general, Luhut Pandjaitan, a cabinet ally of President Jokowi. As the president is eyeing a second term, having "his man" as KSAD will help strengthen his grip over the military while he focuses on other presidential agendas.

[Chaula Anindya is a Research Analyst and Satrio Dwicahyo a Research Associate with the Indonesia Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.]

Source: http://www.eurasiareview.com/05022018-indonesias-tnis-reshuffle-jokowis-strategic-move-analysis/

Indonesian democracy in retreat

Jakarta Post Editorial - February 5, 2018

Jakarta – Democracy moves in a mysterious way. As a form of government it is always in flux, with some countries making a transition from dictatorship in one moment, while others jettisoning the system in another.

There's no assurance that once a country achieves democracy, it will stay in the game for eternity.

Political scientist Adam Przeworksi has attempted to find links between democracy and economic development and came up with a tentative conclusion that the expected life of democracy in countries with per capita income between US$3,001 and US$6,005 (S$3,950 to S$7,900) is approximately 60 years.

Democracy is never a foregone conclusion and in recent years, it feels more and more like a tentative conclusion.

In its latest report, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) found the global trend of what it calls "a democratic recession" has persisted and that democracy continues to experience setbacks in places where it has long been considered safe.

In the so-called democracy index, comprising 60 indicators across five broad categories – electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties – the survey concluded that less than 5 per cent of the world's population currently lives in a "full democracy."

The bad news is that even in places like the United States, democracy shows a visible decline in quality with the rise of Donald Trump. The survey relegated the US to 21st place, on par with Italy, while France, already a "flawed democracy," fell further in 2017.

This leads many to ponder the question of whether democracy has stalled in the West.

But even with that low standard, Indonesia has the worst record in the year of Trump.

With a score of 6.39, Indonesia fell 20 places in the index from 48th to 68th, making it the worst performer among the 165 independent countries and two territories surveyed in 2017, sliding from "flawed democracy" toward the "authoritarian" end of the scale.

The EIU only quantifies what happened in 2017, with the prosecution of former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama being the chief example of how the quality of our democracy deteriorated.

The irony of it all is that post-New Order political liberalisation, which allowed street protests and regular elections to take place, has been hijacked by the majority to violate the rights of minority groups.

Also, political parties in the House of Representatives, which owes its existence to today's open political system, have no qualms about curbing political liberty by joining forces with the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to pass the mass organisations law, which takes away much of the freedom of assembly from civil society groups without a proper judicial process.

Now, work is under way to increase the severity of punishments in the Criminal Code.

People in government, including directly-elected president, do not appear to believe in democracy, with many expressing grievances that democracy has "gone too far."

With all these assaults, our democracy does not stand a chance.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesian-democracy-in-retreat-the-jakarta-post

Disturbing trend in Indonesia of persecuting sexual minorities

The Nation - February 4, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia is campaigning for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2019-20, boasting its track record that includes ranking as the ninth-largest contributor of security personnel to world peacekeeping operations.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo repeated his offer to assist Afghanistan during his visit there on Monday, right after a devastating attack that killed over 100 civilians. Indonesia has also continued to do what it can to relieve the plight of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

But in North Aceh, law enforcers rounded up 12 transgender women last weekend, dragged them to the local police headquarters, shaved their heads, made them wear men's clothing and had them run around while shouting as part of their "training" to become real men.

So while we raise solidarity for the Rohingya and fight for the coveted UN seat, our minorities may join Myanmar's Muslims in fleeing for asylum from the largest Muslim-populated country. These include minorities with gender identities and expressions outside the common male or female categories – the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Not all UN Security Council members are angels when it comes to their sexual minorities. Yet Indonesia holds itself to lofty standards as a candidate for the position. So, are we going to bawl about "particular" human rights while we have ratified UN conventions on human rights?

As stated by Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi in her press statement at the beginning of the year: "In the midst of growing scepticism toward values, and in the face of democracy and human rights setbacks all over the world, democracy and human rights will continue to be an asset for Indonesia's diplomacy."

In the region, Minister Retno said: "Indonesia continues to encourage human rights mainstreaming efforts across all pillars of the Asean Community."

Asean's views on human rights may still be "anti-Western", but through decades of authoritarian rule we found how "Asian values" only entrenched dictators and powerful groups. Now power-seekers pounce on fears of "freedom gone too far" to restrict anything deemed to disrupt "traditional values" and religion, including "the threat of LGBT".

Indeed, the genuine desire to adhere to Islam and avoid sin contributed to the bylaw on the Criminal Code that bans homosexuality in Aceh, the only province allowed to apply Sharia, though on questionable interpretation. Such aspirations have reached the House of Representatives, where lawmakers are reportedly finalising the draft to the revised Criminal Code which would include criminalising all extra-marital relations and consensual same-sex relations – never mind how law enforcers would stalk bedrooms.

Therefore, sexual minorities are increasingly under threat from persecution by those claiming to uphold morality and religion. Restricting stigmatised groups is an easy vote-winner ahead of local and national elections. But aspiring for significant UN responsibilities while persecuting LGBT people is an affront to the international community.

The ugly facts on the ground severely challenge our diplomats striving to campaign for Indonesia to be recognised as the world's "partner for peace, security and prosperity". (The Jakarta Post/ANN)

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30337907

Manoeuvring begins ahead of Indonesia's 2019 elections

The Strategist - February 1, 2018

John McBeth – With opposition parties threatening to play the Islamic card on a broader scale, the appointment of National Intelligence Agency (BIN) director Budi Gunawan to a leading position on the Indonesian Mosque Council raises interesting questions ahead of President Joko Widodo's bid for re-election next year.

The president has also named former armed forces commander General Moeldoko as his new chief of staff. That strengthens his circle of police and military loyalists as he prepares for what is likely to be a testing campaign season.

Vice-president Jusuf Kalla remains chairman of the Mosque Council, which oversees the country's 800,000 mosques, many of them potential gathering points to rally support against Widodo when campaigning begins in earnest in August.

Legislative and presidential elections will be held together for the first time in April 2019, but the presidential race will get the most attention, with Widodo again expected to be in a two-way fight with opposition leader Prabowo Subianto.

Simultaneous elections mean that most of the horse-trading that normally drags on after a presidential election will have to be finalised beforehand, which is seen as advantageous to the president's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P).

Gunawan's first loyalty is to Megawati Sukarnoputri, PDI-P's chairperson and a former president with whom Gunawan has had a close personal relationship going back to when he served as her adjutant. But he also spends much of his time at the palace briefing Widodo on domestic political developments.

Megawati has been prodding Widodo to choose either the ambitious Gunawan or her daughter, the human development coordinating minister Puan Maharani, as his running mate in 2019. However, most analysts say they would add little value to the ticket.

Widodo has never held a leading position in PDI-P. Just how hard Megawati pushes to get her way could determine whether he makes the difficult decision to jump to the second-placed Golkar Party, which has already declared its support for his candidacy.

The president recently used his considerable influence to engineer the election of industry minister Airlangga Hartarto, son of a Suharto-era technocrat, to the chairmanship of Golkar – the first new face to assume the party's leadership since the democratic era began in 1998.

Widodo has a healthy lead over Prabowo in almost every poll so far. But, recalling how his rival made up ground in 2014, analysts note a troubling gap between Widodo's popularity as a common-man leader and his electability.

The president is reportedly looking for a prominent Muslim figure as a running mate to counter Prabowo, who's expected to use the same religion-based tactics that helped bring down ethnic-Chinese Jakarta governor Purnama Busaki last year.

Prabowo, a retired general, is particularly critical of Widodo for cosying up to China and its cashed-up companies to secure funding for his potentially election-winning infrastructure program, telling friends he fears China will 'swallow Indonesia and spit it out as a client state'.

Even with the help of the Sharia-based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), Prabowo may find it difficult to mount the sort of campaign used against Basuki at a national level now that the conservative coalition has split over his choice of candidates for June's provincial and district elections.

Analysts believe that by joining the Mosque Council, Gunawan is seeking to burnish his Muslim credentials. But fellow panel member Azyumardi Azra, a leading Muslim intellectual, says it'll take more than that to get Gunawan noticed as a political figure.

'Budi Gunawan is trying to be greener, but fundamentally speaking that doesn't mean he has Islamic credentials or will be regarded by Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah (Indonesia's two mass Muslim organisations) as a santri (devout) Muslim', he says.

Azra questions how useful being on the loosely structured council will be when BIN already has 'layers' of intelligence agents and informants monitoring mosques that are considered problematic for hate-speech or other extremist activity.

Meanwhile, naming Moeldoko as his chief of staff leaves Widodo with a trusted inner circle that includes new military commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, police chief General Tito Karnavian, defence minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and political adviser Luhut Panjaitan, an ex-special forces general who's serving as maritime coordinating minister.

Agung Gumelar, a retired special forces general and former transportation minister, has just joined Suharto-era army chief General Subagyo Hadi Siswoyo on the president's nine-man advisory council.

Moeldoko replaces mild-mannered anti-corruption activist Teten Masduki, who is a personal friend of Jokowi but doesn't have the hard edge the president needs from his day-to-day manager and gatekeeper as the election season approaches. A member of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), Moeldoko was an adjutant to intelligence guru Abdullah Hendropriyono, another long-time Megawati ally.

Hendropriyono's son, Diaz, is part of Widodo's special staff. His son-in-law, former presidential security chief Lieutenant General Andika Perkasa, was recently promoted to head the military's training command, which puts him in line for the top army post in early 2019.

Wiranto, a retired armed forces chief himself and now leader of the People's Conscience Party, has been allied with the president since the outset, initially to put a dent in the ambitions of Prabowo, with whom he'd engaged in a bitter power struggle in the aftermath of Suharto's downfall in mid-1998.

Surrounding himself with uniformed loyalists does mean Widodo is returning to a different era, but it will give the opposition pause over just how far it can go in trying to deny the president a second term.

[John McBeth is a Jakarta-based correspondent.]

Source: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/manoeuvring-begins-ahead-indonesias-2019-elections/

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