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Indonesia News Digest 18 – May 8-15, 2018

International solidarity West Papua Women's rights & gender Freedom of speech & expression Freedom of assembly & association Political parties & elections Blasphemy & hate speech Tertiary education & campus life LGBT & same-sex marriage Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Freedom of religion & worship Cultural & religious events Land & agrarian conflicts Transport & communication Sport & recreation Criminal justice & legal system Foreign affairs & trade Mining & energy Economy & investment Banking & finance Taxation & state budget Analysis & opinion

International solidarity

Thousands in Jakarta protest US embassy's move to Jerusalem

Nikkei Asian Review - May 11, 2018

Erwida Maulia and Bobby Nugroho, Jakarta – Tens of thousands of Muslims gathered in Jakarta on Friday to protest against the United States' controversial plan to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is set to happen on Monday.

Protesters from Jakarta and surrounding cities condemned Washington's move, calling on Muslims to increase their support for Palestine and boycott products from companies that support Israel. One speaker called for jihad, or holy war, against Israelis.

"We, Muslim youths of Indonesia, are ready to fight the tyranny of Israel, America and their allies," the speaker said. "We... are ready to wage jihad with our treasures, knowledge, soul and our blood."

Local police estimated that more than 30,000 people attended the joint prayer and peaceful rally at the National Monument in central Jakarta. Participants had originally intended to march outside the nearby U.S. embassy, but altered their plan after police prohibited them from approaching the heavily-guarded complex.

The move of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country, and follows U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement in December of his unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Trump's decision defies decades of policy adopted by his predecessors that committed to a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine and refrained from opening an embassy in Jerusalem – due to its contested status between Israelis and Palestinians. Both claim the city – which contains holy sites for Jews, Muslims and Christians – as their ancient capital.

Trump's decision has triggered international condemnation, including in the Muslim world, as it is seen as harming the already fraught peace process between Israel and Palestine. Washington has proceeded with the embassy move in spite of an overwhelming vote at the United Nations' General Assembly in December against Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Violence has intensified in Gaza, the densely-populated strip of Palestinian territory that is mostly surrounded by Israel, in recent weeks – with a big rally in late March resulting in the death of 18 Palestinians, with dozens more injured by Israeli troops.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Friday reiterated Jakarta's support for Palestine, and urged the UN to take further measures to prevent tensions from further escalating.

Widodo has repeatedly mentioned on previous occasions that Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, will continue to campaign for the independence of Palestine under the two-state solution. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long been one of the most contentious issues in the Middle East and in the wider Muslim world.

"Indonesia rejects [the U.S.] decision because it may disrupt the peace process in Israel and Palestine. We call on other countries against following in the [footsteps of the] U.S.," Widodo said during a meeting on Friday between Muslim clerics from Indonesia, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the Bogor Palace, a presidential estate outside Jakarta.

"Palestine remains a priority in Indonesia's current international diplomacy. The people of Indonesia will fight together with the people of Palestine, which is in every diplomacy breath that we take," he added.

The president has asked other members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as other parties including China, to support Palestine.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-Relations/Thousands-in-Jakarta-protest-US-embassy-s-move-to-Jerusalem

Anies attends rally for Palestinian independence

Jakarta Post - May 11, 2018

Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has attended a rally in Jakarta in protest over the planned relocation of the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Aksi Indonesia Bebaskan Baitul Maqdis (Indonesian Action for the Liberation of Jerusalem) was held at the National Monument (Monas) Park in Central Jakarta on Friday.

The protesters, who were of all age groups and filled up to a quarter of Monas Square, were organized under the so-called 212 Alumni group, in reference to people who had rallied last December against then-Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, including the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islam Defenders Troops (LPI).

"This National Monument Park, which used to be called Ikada Park, was the meeting place of the Indonesian people and our founding fathers right after our independence. Today, Jakarta is proud that [the protesters] stressed that Palestine, too, wants to be independent," Anies told reporters after a mass Friday prayer at Monas, which he attended.

"It is clear that the crowds gathered at Monas today want to send a message to the world that Indonesia is consistent in supporting the Palestinian struggle of independence," Anies said.

He said the Indonesian people supported the diplomatic efforts by the Indonesian government to support the cause of the Palestinians.

Analysts have argued that Anies Baswedan won the governorship of Jakarta in May owed to Muslim voters, who – mobilized by identity politics – decided to throw their support behind Anies. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/11/anies-attends-rally-for-palestinian-independence.html

West Papua

West Papua visit lacked transparency says Solomons group

Radio New Zealand International - May 8, 2018

There should have been more transparency around a government-led delegation's visit to West Papua last month, a leader of Solomon Islands civil society says

The Solomon Star reports Development Service Exchange (DSE) spokesperson Jennifer Wate made the comment while rejecting any involvement in the trip.

This is despite its own chairsperson, Inia Barry, being among several from civil society organisations who went along on the visit, which was hosted by Indonesia.

Jennifer Wate said her organisation had found out about the trip the evening before the delegation's departure for West Papua. She said the DSE did not endorse Mr Barry or any of the other civil society representatives who took part in the West Papua visit.

She said her organisation was not aware of any details of the trip or its terms of reference and she called on the Solomon Islands government in the future to formally approach the DSE on matters that required civil sector representation.

Jennifer Wate also admonished the government for not informing civil society groups in West Papua ahead of their trip.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/356849/west-papua-visit-lacked-transparency-says-solomons-group

Women's rights & gender

Women earn more on average than men in only 3 out of 17 industries

Coconuts Jakarta - May 9, 2018

It looks like Indonesia still has ways to go to eliminate the gender pay gap as a recent study by the National Statistics Agency (BPS) showed that men, on average, earn more than women in nearly all of the industries they analyzed.

As reported by Detik yesterday, BPS found that women earn more on average than men in only 3 out of 17 industries. According to the study, which was carried out in February, women in Indonesia earn higher average monthly salaries in construction (IDR2.91 million to men's IDR2.62 million), transportation and warehousing (IDR3.8 million to IDR3.12 million), and real estate (IDR3.21 million to IDR 3.04 million).

Aside from these three, men swept the board in every other industry, such as mining (IDR4.17 million to women's IDR3.43 million), health (IDR3.25 million to IDR2.854 million), and water, waste and recycling management (IDR3.3 million to IDR1.54 million).

As such, women also lagged behind in the national average, with men earning on average IDR2.91 million and women earning IDR2.21 million.

BPS did not provide data as to the percentage of workers by gender in the respective industries, or the specific types of jobs men and women held within those sectors. But it's not hard to spot that in two of the industries in which women came out on top (construction; transportation and warehousing), men are traditionally more likely to hold menial labor-intensive jobs while women are more likely to hold management jobs.

In 2016, a study by Monash Business School in Melbourne similarly showed a considerable gender pay gap in Indonesia, with women earning 42% less than their male counterparts.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-women-earn-average-men-3-17-industries-according-govt-study/

Freedom of speech & expression

AGO arrests Obor Rakyat editor in chief and managing editor

Tempo - May 9, 2018

Caesar Akbar, Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office Intelligence Team in collaboration with the Central Jakarta District Attorney Team has arrested the Editor in Chief of Obor Rakyat (People's Torch) Tabloid Setyardi Budiono and the Managing Editor Darmawan Sepriyosa on Tuesday, May 8. Setyardi was arrested in Gambir, Central Jakarta while Darmawan in East Tebet, South Jakarta.

"We have arrested the related in order to enforce a court ruling that has a permanent legal force," said Head of Attorney General's Information Center Mohammad Rum in a written statement received by Tempo on Tuesday night.

According to him, Setyardi and Darmawan have previously exercised their rights in making legal efforts both through Appeal and Cassation. Furthermore, Rum said the two men convicted will be executed to Cipinang Penitentiary to serve the sentence.

Setyardi and Darmawan were sentenced to eight months imprisonment by the Supreme Court because it was proven to have defamed Joko Widodo or Jokowi in the 2014 Presidential Election.

Earlier, in mid-2014, they were reported on charges of defamation and slander against Jokowi through the Obor Rakyat tabloid.

The tabloid was distributed to mosques and Islamic boarding schools in a number of areas on Java Island, which mentioned Jokowi as a Chinese descendant and foreign accomplice.

Both deal with the court. They were facing the trial in the Central Jakarta District Court on charges of violating Article 310 (2) of the Criminal Code in conjunction with Article 55 (1) of the Criminal Code.

Rum mentioned Setyardi and Darmawan have increased the length of the fugitive series arrested by the Tabur (Fugitive Arrest) Team throughout 2018.

Meanwhile, through the Tabur program, he said, every High Prosecutor is given the target of arrest at least one fugitive crime each month.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/09/055918281/AGO-Arrests-Obor-Rakyat-Editor-in-Chief-and-Managing-Editor

Freedom of assembly & association

PAN supports HTI's appeal attempt

Jakarta Post - May 8, 2018

Jakarta – National Mandate Party (PAN) executive Yandri Susanto said his party was supporting Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia's (HTI) plan to file an appeal against the Jakarta Administrative Court's (PTUN) ruling to reject the group's lawsuit against its disbandment by the Law and Human Rights Ministry.

He said the appeal process was HTI's effort to seek justice over an arbitrary movement caused by the implementation of Law No.16/2017 on mass organizations.

"Any entity, not only HTI, that has been disbanded by the government without a proper legal procedure and that feels that the move has resulted in their losses can file a lawsuit against the disbandment via the court. I think such an arbitrary movement to disband an organization is not right and is unfair," said Yandri as quoted by kompas.com in Jakarta on Monday.

Yandri said PAN last year rejected the ratification of the government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on mass organization (Ormas). He said there was a potential for the law to be misused as a tool to arbitrarily disband mass organizations that were not in line with the government.

"We have rejected Perppu Ormas since the very beginning. This is because disbanding a mass organization must be conducted in a proper way, not like what has happened today. The state must first take legal measures against a mass organization before disbanding it," said Yandri.

As previously reported, PTUN Jakarta rejected HTI's lawsuit against the Law and Human Rights Ministry's decision to disband the group. The court's panel of judges said the ministry's decision was in line with existing procedures. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/08/pan-supports-htis-appeal-attempt.html

Political parties & elections

PAN leader courts Jokowi's challengers

Jakarta Post - May 8, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – National Mandate Party (PAN) leader Zulkifli Hasan met with former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gatot Nurmantyo on Tuesday, in another signal of the party's attempt to break away from the ruling coalition ahead of the 2019 general election.

While other political parties in the ruling coalition – the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Golkar Party, the NasDem Party, the Hanura Party and the United Development Party (PPP) – have declared their support for Jokowi, PAN has been busy courting the incumbent's potential challengers.

Zulkifli, who is also the People's Consultative Assembly speaker, initiated Tuesday's meeting with Gatot, which was held at his office at the House of Representatives.

He said he discussed the political situation in the country ahead of the elections. Gatot was an important figure whose opinions were worth consideration, he stressed. "He is fit to be a presidential candidate," he said.

Gatot has officially declared his presidential bid, though no political party has made a commitment to nominate him.

Last week, Zulkifli met with former coordinating maritime affairs minister Rizal Ramli, who was fired by Jokowi in a 2016 reshuffle. Rizal has since become the voice of opposition to the government and is now touted as a potential presidential candidate.

In April, Zulkifli also attended a Gerindra Party event during which the party officially nominated its leader, Prabowo Subianto, as its presidential candidate.

Even though PAN is a member of the ruling coalition and has one of its members in Jokowi's cabinet, the party has often broken ranks with the pro-government coalition and sided with the opposition. Its chief patron, Amien Rais, is one the most outspoken critics of Jokowi and has been pushing the party to unseat Jokowi in 2019.

Coalition leader PDI-P appears uncomfortable with PAN's political maneuvering. PAN, for instance, was the only member of the ruling coalition not invited by Cabinet Secretary and senior PDI-P politician Pramono Anung to his office on Monday.

"Maybe we just forgot [to invite PAN]," Pramono said when asked about the absence of PAN executives from Monday's meeting.

PAN, along with the Democratic Party and National Awakening Party (PKB), has yet to officially announce its presidential candidate. The party, which does not have enough votes to field its own candidate in the presidential election, may join the Jokowi camp, the Prabowo camp or set up a third alliance with the PD and the PKB. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/08/pan-leader-courts-jokowis-challengers.html

Antigraft activist Abraham Samad demands death sentence for corruption

Jakarta Post - May 8, 2018

Andi Hajramurni, Makassar, South Sulawesi – Former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Abraham Samad called for the implementation of the death penalty for corruption convicts during a speech in which he declared his intention to run as a presidential candidate, in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Monday.

"Corruptors must be given a severe punishment [...] and their assets must be confiscated by the state. Implement the death penalty for corruptors, if necessary. This can provide legal certainty," said Abraham.

He further said corruption had damaged the country and led to poverty, causing the state to lose its authority.

"How can we get out of this slump? The only answer is by combating corruption. Whatever the way is, no matter how scary the risk is, we must fight against corruption," he said.

The Eastern Indonesian People's Coalition declared its support for Abraham Samad to run as a presidential candidate at Losari Beach in Makassar on Monday afternoon.

The coalition said Indonesia needed a tough and brave leader with integrity and a strong commitment to combating corruption. Abraham was a figure with all of those leadership qualities, it stated.

During his speech, Abraham also said politics must bring the nation to prosperity. Politics that only cared about money must be banished since it would only fool and mislead the people, he said.

In 2015, Abraham and former KPK commissioner Bambang Widjajanto, along with KPK investigator Novel Baswedan, were arrested by the police over suspected law violations. Human rights organizations called the police's move an effort to criminalize the KPK leaders. (hol/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/08/antigraft-activist-abraham-samad-demands-death-sentence-for-corruption-convicts.html

Blasphemy & hate speech

Woman in Aceh arrested for allegedly writing FB comment in support of

Coconuts Jakarta - May 15, 2018

With tensions and fears running high in Indonesia following the terrorist attacks in East Java on Sunday and Monday, authorities have been urging the public to report hoaxes and hate speech online, especially those relating to the attacks.

A 37-year-old housewife in Banda Aceh, identified by police by her initials WF, was arrested last night for allegedly posting a comment on Facebook supporting the horrific church bombings that took place in Surabaya on Sunday morning.

"The perpetrators allegedly committed SARA (an acronym for hate speech about race, religion or ethnicity) through Facebook and was then secured by Aceh police officers on Monday, May 14, at around 11:45 pm," Aceh Police spokesperson Misbahul Munauwar told Detik today.

According to police, WF had posted something regarding last week's riot at the Mobile Brigade Command Center (Mako Brimob) detention center. Another Facebook user then commented on her post with news about the bomb blast at the Santa Maria Church in Surabaya.

Police say WF replied to that with a comment by writing, "It is halal to spill the blood of infidels".

Authorities said they received a report about WF's comment and then conducted an investigation leading to her arrest in the Banda Raya subdistrict of Banda Aceh on Monday night. They are currently still investigating the case.

WF was arrested for violating Indonesia's Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), which criminalizes any electronic media communication that could be considered defamatory, slanderous or hate speech. The law carries a maximum punishment of four years.

While what WF allegedly wrote was vile, many activists have criticized both UU ITE and Indonesia's blasphemy law for being a huge danger to free speech in Indonesia.

Many netizens have reacted to horror of the suicide bomb attacks, which were undertaken by three families including their young children, by starting to question the role of religion in terrorism.

It's an incredibly important discussion, but one that only seems possible now in the wake of the attacks, since there has always been a very real danger that bringing up such matters could lead to charges of blasphemy or hate speech. Now would also be a great time to question where the limits of free speech in Indonesia should truly lie.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/woman-aceh-arrested-allegedly-writing-fb-comment-support-surabaya-church-bombings/

Trans7 drops Maaher At-Thuwailibi following report on hate speech

Tempo - May 15, 2018

Jakarta (tabloidbintang.com) – Indonesian private-owned TV station Trans7 confirmed that they have cancelled the appearance of Maaher At-Thuwailibi from one of its scheduled Ramadan program.

Maheer was barred from performing following his controversial statement related to the Mako Brimob riot in Depok several days ago where he allegedly issued slanders against law enforcers.

Trans7 Production Director Andi Chairil said that the company will act assertive against talents that violate their contracts, considering that long before the prison riot broke out, Trans7 had already informed its talents with its work contract.

"Trans7 has its own standard operating procedure where we will not broadcast programs that feature talents that can unsettle its viewers," said Andi Chairil in a press conference in South Jakarta on Monday.

He further explained that the TV station will not tolerate programs or contents that are filled with provocative radicalization, violence, and hate speech.

Andi Chairil claims that he was surprised when asked about Maaher At-Thuwailibi and decided to drop him from one of Trans7's program after Maaher was reported for an alleged hate speech.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/15/055918452/Trans7-Drops-Maaher-At-Thuwailibi-Following-Report-on-Hate-Speech

Amnesty International urges govt to release blasphemy convict

Jakarta Post - May 8, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – Amnesty International has urged the government to release Alnoldy Bahari, a farmer from Pandeglang regency in Banten, who was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay Rp 100 million (US$7,150) by Pandeglang District Court on April 30 for blasphemy.

In November last year, Alnoldy was reported by his neighbors who accused him of insulting Islam and spreading hate speech on Facebook.

The offending statements included "I am a Muslim and I truly testify that there is no god but Allah. I have seen Allah, have you?" and "If a fake Muslim cleric has entered the political realm, then Quranic verses are not absolute truth anymore".

He was arrested in December 2017 and charged with blasphemy under Article 156(a) of the Criminal Code, and Article 28(2) of the Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) Law.

"Having only peacefully expressed his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, Alnoldy Bahari is a prisoner of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released," Amnesty International said in an official release on Tuesday.

Amnesty International called on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Alnoldy and all other individuals who have been detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights and also to repeal or amend all blasphemy provisions set out in laws and regulations, which violate the rights to freedom of expression and thought, conscience and religion.

"Also, ensure that judges and prosecutors are aware of Indonesia's international human rights obligations and the need for the application of national law to be consistent with them," it further said.

Amnesty International recorded that 11 people were convicted for blasphemy in 2017 either under the ITE Law or the Criminal Code. Alnoldy was the first to be convicted in 2018.

"Blasphemy laws have been used by the authorities in attempts to stifle the rights to freedom of expression and religion in Indonesia," the group said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/08/amnesty-international-urges-govt-to-release-blasphemy-convict.html

Tertiary education & campus life

ITS questions lecturers in connection with pro-HTI social media post

Jakarta Post - May 9, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The 10 November Institute of Technology (ITS) in Surabaya, East Java, has questioned three of its lecturers for allegedly supporting the disbanded Islamist group, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).

The ITS administrators questioned the three lecturers, Daniel M. Rosyid, Andi Rahmadiansah and Lukman Noerochim, after they appeared in a photograph that circulated on social media along with posts expressing support for HTI while slamming the group's disbandment.

The ITS ensured that the lecturers' views were personal and did not represent the institution, because the university had an obligation to abide by all government policies and regulations.

"The ITS is currently questioning the three lecturers in accordance with regulations," ITS rector Joni Hermana said on Tuesday in a press statement. "The ITS is consistent in following the stance and all decisions of the government," it said. Daniel denied all allegations, kompas.com reported.

Some social media posts contained the #DukungHTIuntukIslam (Support HTI for Islam) and #HTILayakMenang (HTI should have won) hashtags, the latter referring to the Jakarta State Administrative Court's (PTUN) decision on Monday to uphold the government ban on the group.

The court rejected on Monday a petition HTI sympathizers filed to challenge the government's July 2017 decision to disband the group and revoke its legal entity status, as its activities went against the Pancasila state ideology.

The court's ruling sparked another wave of debate on social media, reflected in the trending Twitter hashtags.

The HTI's supporters have urged the group to file an appeal and have labeled those who did not support HTI as people "who are against God". Meanwhile, the anti-HTI camp called HTI a radical group and argued that the state did not need HTI. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/09/its-questions-lecturers-in-connection-with-pro-hti-social-media-post.html

LGBT & same-sex marriage

Islamic leader calls LGBTI people 'deviants', wants them criminalized

Gay Star News - May 10, 2018

Shannon Power – A very senior Islamic leader in Indonesia has spoken against LGBTI people saying they should be criminalized because of their 'deviant behavior'.

Professor KH Ma'ruf Amin is the head of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI). The Ulema Council is Indonesia's top Muslim clerical body and very influential in the Muslim-majority country.

Amin is also the current chairman of the advisory council of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world's largest Islamic organization.

Speaking at a the MUI's sixth Fatwa Committee, Amin said homosexuality should be criminalized. 'The view of the MUI is LGBT is deviant behaviour not approved in all religions,' he said.

He also said LGBT goes against 'Pancasila', the official, foundational philosophical theory of the Indonesian state.

The MUI issued a fatwa against LGBTI 'behaviors' saying they are considered criminal in Islam

A fatwa is an Islamic legal pronouncement, issued by an expert in religious law such as, a mufti. The fatwa is about a specific issue, usually at the request of an individual or judge to resolve an issue where Islamic law is unclear.

Criminalizing homosexuality

Although homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, a growing tide of intolerance has seen persecution against LGBTI people increase in the past two years.

The Indonesian parliament will soon debate amendments to the criminal code to criminalize homosexuality.

They are amendments that Amin endorses and he called for them to happen quickly. 'Especially the draft Criminal Code changes to same-sex sexual intercourse, adultery and rape as a crime,' he said.

Amin also said that LGBTI sex leads to diseases such as STIs and HIV, which is another reason he argues the community must be criminalized.

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/islamic-leader-calls-lgbti-people-deviants-wants-them-criminalized/

Corruption & abuse of power

Former IBRA head indicted in BLBI case

Jakarta Post - May 14, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors have indicted Syafruddin Arsyad Temenggung, former chairman of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA), for his alleged involvement in a case pertaining to irregularities surrounding the disbursement of Bank Indonesia liquidity support (BLBI).

"The defendant, as IBRA chairman, issued a letter freeing Bank Dagang Nasional Indonesia [BDNI] and its stakeholder Sjamsul Nursalim from their debts, although the latter had not yet fulfilled his obligation to the agency," KPK prosecutor Khairudin read out the indictment on Monday.

Syafruddin is accused of misusing his authority as former IBRA chairman. Prosecutors also said his alleged move caused Rp 4.5 trillion (US$322 million) in state losses, according to an audit conducted by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK).

The antigraft body named Syafruddin a suspect in April last year. He was the first official to be named a suspect in the case after three years of investigation.

The BLBI was liquidity support provided by the government through the central bank for 48 commercial banks totaling Rp 144.5 trillion to cope with massive runs during the monetary crisis. It was later found that 95 percent of the funds had been embezzled. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/14/former-ibra-head-indicted-in-blbi-case.html

Sri Mulyani promises to address 'brokerage' in her ministry

Jakarta Post - May 12, 2018

Jakarta – Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has promised to improve the ministry's budget arrangement system, following the arrest of an official accused of receiving bribes while conducting "brokerage activities" in the arrangement of the state budget.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has arrested several suspects, including the ministry's section head of housing and residential development financing Yaya Purnomo. Yaya had been suspended from his position in the ministry.

"Ten years ago, I heard it and I tried to clean up the Finance Ministry through sweeping reforms. We changed all the procedures with an IT based and online system. [Relevant officials] do not need to meet to arrange the budget allocations," said Sri Mulyani, as reported by kompas.com on Thursday.

She expressed her disappointment that bribery still occurred in the ministry.

Sri Mulyani said that Yaya had allegedly abused his power by conducting "brokerage activities" while arranging the 2018 State budget, by promising to facilitate certain allocations for regional governments.

The ministry's financial balance director general Budiarso said the task of the suspect was simply to prepare materials for policy making and to carry out coordination for the technical standardization of housing and residential areas.

"Yaya did not have the authority to decide projects. He also had no authority to allocate any funds in the state budget for certain projects," Buduarso added.

He said the ministry, in cooperation with the KPK, would track down any other possible irregular practices in the budget's arrangement. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/11/sri-mulyani-promises-to-address-brokerage-in-her-ministry.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Civil groups form Citizens Against Terrorism Movement

Jakarta Post - May 15, 2018

Karina Tehusijarana, Jakarta – Religious freedom watchdog Wahid Foundation has joined forces with 55 other organizations to form the Citizens Against Terrorism Movement in the wake of the terror attacks gripping Indonesia over the past week.

Multiple deadly bombings in East Java, following hot on the heels of a brutal prison riot at the National Police's Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Depok, West Java, have "exceeded the limits of humanity", the group said on Tuesday.

"The Citizens Against Terrorism Movement hereby proclaims a common determination to fight against terrorist acts that have destroyed the values of humanity and spread fear as well as divided the nation," the group said in a written statement.

The movement said it had four commitments. First, it aims to support law enforcers and the government to stop terrorism and crack down on the perpetrators and other parties involved. Second, it calls on the government to ensure effective restitution for victims and their families. Third, it urges the government and the House of Representatives to quickly pass the 2003 Terrorism Law draft revision.

As the fourth commitment, the group urges the government to be more proactive in restoring safety and protection from terrorism for all citizens by, among other things, optimizing deradicalization efforts, creating a more effective prevention and early warning system, as well as reforming the education system to address the rise of intolerant and radical views.

The group also asked the public to strengthen ties between tribes, religions, and races so as to be less vulnerable to divide-and-conquer tactics from terrorists or other parties. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/15/civil-groups-form-citizens-against-terrorism-movement.html

Law revisions necessary but not sufficient to clamp down on terrorism,

Jakarta Post - May 15, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – The Kolegium Jurist Institute (KJI) said on Tuesday that law revisions on their own would not be able to fully eradicate terrorism.

"The facts and experience show that terrorism laws are unable to guarantee the elimination of terrorism from this republic," KJI executive director Ahmad Redi said in a written statement.

"The government cannot just use criminal sanctions to address terrorism [...] but should prioritize preventative measures," he said.

He said the government should evaluate the deradicalization efforts that were already in place and see how they could be improved going forward. Read also: What is JAD? Terror group behind Mako Brimob riot, Surabaya bombings

He added that the general public also played an important part in terrorism prevention, as the family's role is to imbue children with morals and compassion that could be a "strong wall" against committing acts of violence against fellow human beings.

"Universities should also form more terrorism study centers, which will publish research about terrorism policies and can be used by the government as a basis in creating measures to address terrorism," he said. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/15/law-revisions-necessary-but-not-sufficient-to-clamp-down-on-terrorism-jurist-institute-says.html

Government assures law on terrorism will not become a political tool

Tempo - May 15, 2018

Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta – Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto said that the ratification of the Law on Terrorism, known more as RUU Terorisme, will not be abused as a political tool.

He maintained that it is purely to provide a legal protection for law enforcers upon handling cases related to terrorism.

"The anti-terrorism law will have many activities and cracks that can be entered, which it initially would not be able to be penetrated. But do believe that it will not harm the interest of the people, and will not be used as a political tool," said Wiranto after meeting with President Jokowi's supporting political parties on Monday, May 14.

Wiranto maintained that the law on terrorism is mainly to equip law enforcers with the authority and legal protection that are essentially needed, which can drive authorities to be persistent in handling terrorism.

Furthermore, Wiranto explained that this law will provide a space for law enforcers to oversight preventive actions quickly. "The law is phrased to be that way and it is basically the spirit of the law. We can observe [terrorism] since its early inception and we can deal with it," said Wiranto.

The Law on Terrorism is currently still being completed by the House of Representatives (DPR) which is hampered by the fact that the government and the DPR have yet agreed upon the definition of terrorism.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/15/055918444/Govt-Assures-Law-on-Terrorism-will-not-become-a-Political-Tool

ISKA criticizes politicization on bombings in Surabaya

Tempo - May 15, 2018

Dias Prasongko, Jakarta – The Regional Council of Catholic Scholars Association (ISKA) Jabodetabek strongly condemns the acts of terrorism in three churches in Surabaya on Sunday morning, May 13. ISKA DPD Chairman F. Heru Sukrisna said the bomb attack was beyond human rationality.

"It is a really deep concern, especially since there are children either victimized or as perpetrators," Heru said in a written statement received by Tempo on Monday, May 14.

On Sunday morning yesterday, there was a series of bombings at three different churches namely the Indonesian Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Indonesia) on Jl. Diponegoro, the Santa Maria Catholic Church on Jl. Ngagel Madya, and the Pentecostal Church on Jl. Arjuno.

Heru stated the terrorism act involving children was a culmination point of radicalism in Indonesia. He then appealed to the public not to politicize the issue of terrorism for political purposes. It will make such issue as a political commodity which hampers to find a solution from its root.

Heru further said that to fight terrorism, it should be put through an existing legal door in Indonesia. Thus, he and DPD ISKA urged the House of Representatives (DPR) to immediately ratify the Antiterrorism Law which has been delayed for several years.

"We encourage the DPR to immediately ratify the Antiterrorism Law by maintaining the principles of human rights and civil supremacy," he said regarding the bombings in Surabaya.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/15/055918431/ISKA-Criticizes-Politicization-on-Bombings-in-Surabaya

Jokowi urged to issue Perppu on terrorism

Jakarta Post - May 15, 2018

Karina Tehusijarana, Jakarta – Political analyst Maksimus Ramses Lalongkoe has called on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to quickly issue a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on terrorism, following the deadly bombings in Surabaya and Sidoarjo in East Java.

"I ask President Jokowi to issue a Perppu to save this nation from the threat of terrorism, especially since the progress of the revision of the 2003 Terrorism Law at the House of Representatives, which started in 2016, has been slow," he said in a written statement on Tuesday.

Legally, a Perppu may only be issued during an emergency situation in which no existing law or regulation is able to provide solutions to the issue.

Former president Megawati Soekarnoputri issued a Perppu on terrorism shortly after the 2002 Bali bombings conducted by Islamist group Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), which killed 202 people in the tourist district of Kuta. That Perppu was eventually ratified into the current law on terrorism.

"A Perppu is the right move so we don't have to wait for the deliberations on the bill in the House, which is held up by different political interests," Ramses said.

He added that police forces were unable to effectively prevent terror attacks because of the limitations of the current law on terrorism, adding to the urgency of issuing the Perppu. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/15/jokowi-urged-to-issue-perppu-on-terrorism.html

Police nab more suspected terrorists in East Java

Jakarta Post - May 15, 2018

Safrin La Batu, Surabaya – The National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism squad arrested another four suspected terrorists in different cities in East Java during Monday night operations in the wake of a series of suicide bombings in the province, the East Java Police said Tuesday.

Two suspected terrorists were arrested in Malang regency, one in Pandaan and one in Surabaya, East Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Frans Barung Mangera said in a press conference.

Police have not released the names of the newly arrested suspected terrorists but said they were connected to the perpetrators in the Surabaya attacks, including the family of Dita Oeprianto, who blew themselves up at three churches in the provincial capital on Sunday.

The police announced on Monday they arrested nine terrorists in different places following the Surabaya attacks.

"That means we have arrested a total of 13 people so far and [the number is likely] to increase. They are not including those who were shot dead," Frans said.

East Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Machfud Arifin said in the morning that among individuals being hunted down included radical preachers in the religious gatherings frequented by the suicide bombing families.

"We cannot update you further on this as it is the authority of those [Densus 88] on the ground," Machfud said.

At least five explosions occurred in Surabaya and Sidoarjo on Sunday and Monday, killing a total of 28 people, including 13 suicide bombers, who were members of three families.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian previously said the perpetrators of the attacks were connected to Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD), a local terrorist group affiliated with the Islamic State group. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/15/police-nab-more-suspected-terrorists-in-east-java.html

Indonesia attacks: Parents using their own children a worrying new

ABC Radio Australia - May 15, 2018

Mary Lloyd – If there is one thing that stands out about the attacks in Indonesia on Sunday and Monday it is that they were carried out by two families – two sets of parents, who together with their own children undertook suicide attacks on four targets.

The head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, Rohan Gunaratna, said parents co-opting their own children to carry out attacks is a worrying new trend. "This is not a one-off. We are likely to see more of these attacks," he said.

Just hours after news broke that the people who had bombed three churches were all from the same family, Indonesia's Surabaya province suffered a second attack, also carried out by a couple and their children.

In the first co-ordinated attacks, 28 people were killed and 57 injured. The family's father detonated a car bomb at a Pentecostal church, his two sons – aged 17 and 15 – rode explosive-laden motorcycles into a Catholic church, and their mother and two sisters – aged eight and 12 – blew themselves up at an Indonesian Presbyterian Church.

On the following day, a family of five rode two motorbikes into a checkpoint near a police station and detonated explosives, injuring four police officers and six civilians. An eight-year-old girl, who was wedged between her mother and father during the attack, survived the explosion.

"It's the first time we've seen a family and the first time we've seen young children involved," said Sidney Jones, terrorism expert at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta.

Indonesian authorities have said they suspect that an Islamic State-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) was involved in the attacks.

According to Ms Jones, security officials have said the father of the family that carried out the first attack was an active member of JAD.

It is not clear whether both attacks were carried out by the same group. "There's a lot more information we need before we can come to that conclusion," she said.

Professor Gunaratna agreed that attacks by families are a new phenomenon in the Asia Pacific region, but said that families and couples have tried to use children in bombings in other parts of the world before.

What he thinks is significant about this development is that it shows that terrorists are able to radicalise whole families. "This requires a family and community-oriented response to fight the threat," he said.

Why would attackers involve their children?

One reason suggested for why attackers chose to involve children is that adults with kids generally arouse less suspicion.

Radical groups initially only recruited men for suicide missions, but then involved women because they were less likely to get stopped. Now children are being used, because parents with kids are less likely to be checked by security officials.

That explains why extremist groups would be interested in drawing children into deadly attacks but doesn't explain why two parents would willingly involve their own children.

Damian Kingsbury, Professor of International Politics at Deakin University, said it is common for Islamist jihadists to sacrifice themselves, but they do not usually sacrifice their own family members.

What he thinks might have happened in these instances is that the family, or at least the parents, had a very firm belief that they were going to heaven and wanted to take their children with them. "This probably shows a degree of zealotry to a particular cause," he said.

Professor Gunaratna also thinks it was ideology that motivated the parents to include their children. He believes the father would have become radicalised first, and as the head of the family radicalised his wife and his children with extremist propaganda.

"Then everyone participates in the attack with the hope they will all enter heaven," he said. "This is a very dangerous trend."

Professor Kingsbury was also concerned that these are not the last attacks of this nature we will see. He thinks it is unlikely the families acted alone and were almost certainly associated with a larger group. "So it's quite possible that there will be further attacks," he said.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2018-05-15/indonesia-attacks-parents-using-their-own-children-a-worrying-new-trend-analysts-say/1756518

TNI could deploy anti-terror unit to help police fight terrorism

Tempo - May 14, 2018

Friski Riana, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has recently ordered the Indonesian National Police and Indonesian Military (TNI) to consolidate its efforts in combating terrorism following the Surabaya bomb attacks.

Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said the number of TNI soldiers that would collaborate with the police would depend on the police's request.

"It could be TNI's strategic intelligence agency (BAIS TNI) that will assist the police's intelligence. But it could also be the Gultor unit (Sat-81 of the Army's special forces), which has been on standby," said Moeldoko in South Jakarta today.

According to him, the consolidation seeks to strengthen the police's authority in taking repressive steps to eradicate terrorism, especially in the wake of sleeper cells. Moeldoko also said both institutions would not overlap each other's authorities.

A series of suicide bombings shook Surabaya on Sunday, May 13, at three different churches and claimed 13 lives, including a family comprising six persons who allegedly became the suicide bombers.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/14/055918420/TNI-Could-Deploy-Anti-terror-Unit-to-Help-Police-Fight-Terrorism

Yogyakarta residents stage show of solidarity following Surabaya church

Jakarta Post - May 14, 2018

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – Hundreds of Yogyakarta residents gathered at Tugu Monument on Sunday to pray and show their solidarity following suicide bombings that hit three churches in Surabaya, East Java. Thirteen people died and around 40 others were injured in the attacks.

Artists, religious leaders, activists and students attended the event on Sunday evening, which was closed by a joint prayer and candlelight vigil.

Representatives of 60 civil society organizations conveyed short statements during the event. They included the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH), the Yogyakarta Women's Network (JPY) and the Islam and Social Studies Institute (LKIS).

"We condemn the terror acts and convey our condolences to the victims," said event coordinator Mukhibullah.

Mukhibullah asserted that no religion promoted terrorism. He also called on the government to protect the constitutional rights of all Indonesians and to stay alert of any movements that aimed to weaken democracy in Indonesia.

In her statement, Sukiratnasari of JPY condemned violence in Surabaya that had involved women and children. Such acts would lead to the growth of hatred among children, she went on. "Children and women are symbols of civilization," said Sukiratnasari.

Meanwhile, M. Iqbal Ahnaf, a lecturer from the Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies at Gadjah Mada University, said he believed the terror acts in Surabaya would instead strengthen people's belief that Indonesia was built on diversity.

"Indonesia will not be defeated by terrorism, violence. Indonesia will remain a safe house for people of various religions and ethnicities." (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/14/yogyakarta-residents-stage-show-of-solidarity-following-surabaya-church-bombings.html

Surabaya residents come together in candlelit vigil against terrorism

Jakarta Post - May 14, 2018

Riza Roidila, Jakarta – Hundreds of Surabaya residents in East Java flocked to the city's Heroes Monument on Sunday night to hold a candlelit vigil against terrorism and mourn the victims of three church bombings earlier that day.

Dressed in green, the provincial capital's signature color, participants sang folk songs and called on all Indonesians to join hands and condemn acts of violence committed on behalf of religion.

One was seen raising a placard that read, "No religion teaches terrorist", while another held up a banner with the message: "We are not afraid to die to fight terrorism. We are not afraid."

The vigil was shared across social media platforms with the hashtag #SuroboyoWani (BraveSurabaya).

Three bombs exploded in three churches across the city shortly before Sunday Mass, killing 13 people and injuring 41 others. Two attempted attacks were reported at two other churches in the city.

Later the same day, another explosion was reported at a low-cost apartment in the nearby city of Sidoarjo. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/14/surabaya-residents-come-together-in-candlelit-vigil-against-terrorism.html

Police thwart alleged terror attack on Palu church

Jakarta Post - May 14, 2018

Ruslan Sangadji, Palu, Central Sulawesi – Security personnel reportedly thwarted on Sunday morning an attempted terror attack on Pniel Protestant Church in Palu, Central Sulawesi.

"Around 250 people were attending a religious service led by Rev. Wilson Lampie when the incident occurred," a congregant told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

The police said an unidentified person traveling on a motorcycle approached the church at around 9:25 a.m. The man had two boxes with him, arousing officers' suspicion.

The man, who was described as being tall and thin, had on a black helmet and was wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt, according to community security and public order supervisory officer Brig. Syaiful.

He had been driving a Vega ZR motorcycle. "The unidentified person tried to enter Pniel Church, but the entrance was locked. He later fled east," Syaiful said.

After the religious service ended at around 11 a.m., officers asked church officials to check CCTV recordings of the building.

CCTV footage confirmed that a man had attempted to enter the church, but upon finding the door locked and spotting police officers standing guard nearby, the man ran to his motorcycle and fled the scene. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/14/police-thwart-alleged-terror-attack-on-palu-church.html

Jakarta on high alert: Security beefed up at train, police stations

Jakarta Post - May 14, 2018

Jakarta – State-owned railway operator PT KAI has heightened security at several train stations in Jakarta following Sunday's suicide bombings in Surabaya, East Java.

In a press statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Monday, KAI operational region (DAOP) 1 executive vice president R. Dadan Rudiansyah said that Gambir Station and Pasar Senen Station in Central Jakarta, two of the busiest trains stations from which thousands of people travel to and from Jakarta daily, would receive tighter security measures.

Thirty security personnel have been deployed, from the usual 25. Mirrors and portable metal detectors will also be used to check vehicles entering the stations, he said.

"Everyone at the stations, both passengers and officers, are urged to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activities," he added.

Four separate suicide bombings across Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city after Jakarta, have killed at least 14 people and injured dozens of others in the past two days.

Separately, Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said the police force had declared a Siaga 1, its highest security alert status, for the capital.

"This means we'll increase our efforts in checking anyone seeking to enter police stations. We are also conducting patrols with the military," Argo told reporters.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/14/jakarta-on-high-alert-security-beefed-up-at-train-police-stations.html

Densus 88 arrests suspected terrorists in Surabaya, Sidoarjo

Jakarta Post - May 14, 2018

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, Surabaya, East Java – The National Police's Densus 88 antiterror squad arrested six suspected terrorists allegedly linked to the pro-Islamic State (IS) group Jamaah Anshar Daulah (JAD) in Surabaya and Sidoarjo, East Java, on Monday. Two suspects were reportedly killed during the arrests.

East Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Frans Barung Mangera said the suspects had allegedly plotted terror attacks in Surabaya, following a coordinated bombing in the provincial capital and a premature bomb explosion in Sidoarjo the day before. Seven civilians were killed in the terror attacks, which struck three churches across the city.

Police have identified one of the terror suspects killed as Budi Satriyo, the second-in-command at the JAD Surabaya chapter after Dita Oeprianto, a suicide bomber in Sunday's church attacks.

Police did not elaborate on the details of the planned attacks. "We won't disclose the locations [targeted by the suspects] to avoid spreading fear," he said Monday.

The East Java Police's forensics and laboratory team is examining chemicals seized from the suspects, identified as triacetone triperoxide, also known as the Mother of Satan. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/14/densus-88-arrests-suspected-terrorists-in-surabaya-sidoarjo.html

Indonesian church attack family had returned from Syria: police

Sydney Morning Herald - May 14, 2018

Amilia Rosa, Jakarta – The family suspected of the trio of church suicide bombings in Indonesia had recently returned from Syria before the attack, Indonesian authorities said.

Indonesia's police chief, Tito Karnavian, said the family of six suspected in the attacks on three Christian churches in Indonesia's Surabaya city on Sunday morning had recently returned from the war-torn Middle Eastern nation.

"Five hundred people were deported from Syria; among them is this family," Karnavian said, according to the New York Times.

The attack – claimed by Islamic State – involved the family's children ranging in ages from nine to 18-years-old. All family members died in the attacks, which killed another seven people and injured dozens more.

There were few outward signs of trouble from the family, locals said. Khorihan, a neighbour of the family, said the man identified as the father, Dita Oepriarto, was a "friendly and kind person" who "never missed a call for prayer".

Oepriarto's wife, identified by Indonesian authorities as Puji Kuswati, regularly attended a women's community gathering, said Khorihan, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name.

"She wasn't distant, she was quite friendly. She only wore a normal hijab, not fully covered like what you would expect if she was radicalised," he said.

Oepriarto, the father, produced and sold candlenut and had lived in the area since 2012, Khorihan said.

The church bombings were the first since the Bali bombing of 2005 in the Muslim-majority but religiously diverse nation. They were the bloodiest bombings of Christian churches since Christmas Eve, 2000, when 15 people were killed. Christians make up about 9 per cent of Indonesia's 260 million people.

Khorihan last saw Oepriarto on the morning of the attack at the mosque. He said they exchanged greetings and shook hands after the prayer.

"I didn't notice anything different... I saw him hugging his boys after prayer, but that's normal for a parent to hug and hold his kids, nothing out of ordinary." "I didnt speak to him [but] just exchanged greetings."

Days earlier Islamist militant prisoners killed five members of an elite Indonesian counter-terrorism force, Detachment 88, at a high-security jail in Jakarta and took another officer hostage.

The hostage was eventually released after a 36 hour stand-off. Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, too.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/indonesian-church-attack-family-had-returned-from-syria-police-20180514-p4zf56.html

Surabaya blast: family of five carried out bomb attack on Indonesia

The Guardian - May 14, 2018

Hannah Ellis-Petersen and Kate Lamb – A family of five, including an eight-year-old child, has carried out a bomb attack on a police headquarters in Surabaya, killing at least four people and injuring 10, an Indonesian police official has said.

The suicide bombing comes just one day after 13 people were killed in the city during coordinated suicide bombings targeting three churches.

The blast occurred at 8.50am, said East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera. Police confirmed the attack was carried out by a family of five, including an eight-year-old, who drove up to the gates of the police station on two motorcycles and then detonated the explosives at the security checkpoint. The four adult perpetrators died but the young child is now recovering in hospital.

Four policemen and six civilians were also injured when they were caught up in the blast. The full death toll has not been announced but initial reports said at least seven had been killed in the attack.

"Clearly it's a suicide bombing," Mangera told a briefing. "We can't open up all details yet because we are still identifying victims at the scene and the crime scene is being handled."

"This is the act of cowards, undignified and barbaric," President Joko Widodo said on Monday, addressing both the three-pronged attack on Sunday and those on the police station on Monday morning. He said he would make sure that a new anti-terrorism law was pass through parliament by next month to combat the networks of Islamic militants in Indonesia.

Monday's blast comes after a bomb explosion in an apartment building in East Java killed three people on Sunday evening, just kilometres away and hours after Sunday's Surabaya attack. Residents reported hearing multiple blasts from the fifth floor of the Wonocolo apartment building in Sidoarjo, at about 9pm on Sunday.

Frans Burung Mangera said the explosion killed three people: a father, mother and their child. Two other children, a son and daughter from the same family, were rushed to Siti Khodijah hospital for treatment.

However, according to East Java police, the parents and children were the ones who carried out the attack. "They are the perpetrators, not victims," East Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Mahfud Arifin said on Monday.

Police are investigating possible links between the Sidoarjo and Surabaya blasts but are yet to provide further details.

Local news portal Kumparan reported the father, identified as Anton Febrianto, 47, was holding the trigger to a bomb when police arrived. He was shot dead before he could detonate.

The news follows the horrific events of Sunday morning, when a family of six – a couple and their four children aged between nine and 18 – conducted consecutive suicide bombing attacks on three churches in Surabaya, one less than 14km from the Sidoarjo apartment.

The severity of the attack, the most deadly terrorist strike in Indonesia in more than a decade, and revelations that a family with young children were behind it, has shocked Indonesia. Widodo and Indonesian religious leaders have condemned the attacks as barbaric.

The death toll from the church bombings rose to 13 overnight, when an eight-year-old victim died from organ failure. Forty-three others were wounded.

Six of the dead were those who carried out the attack: Dita and his wife Puji and their four children – two sons, Yusuf, 18, Firman, 16, and two daughters, Fadhila 12, and Famela, nine.

The national police chief said he suspected they had recently returned from Syria, and that Dita was the Surabaya head of the Isis-affiliated Jamaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD) militant group.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/14/indonesia-car-bomb-surabaya-police-station-attacked

Indonesia under pressure to pass anti-terror law after attacks

Bloomberg - May 14, 2018

Karlis Salna, Viriya Singgih and Rieka Rahadiana – A wave of deadly bombings in Indonesia has put the spotlight on lawmakers and anti-terrorism laws that give police enhanced powers to take preemptive action but which have languished in the parliament since 2016.

President Joko Widodo said Monday the government may issue a rule in lieu of law, known as perpu, if parliament fails to pass revision to 2003 anti-terrorism laws by June. The comments from Widodo, known as Jokowi, come 12 months after he called for lawmakers to expedite the passage of the revised laws in the wake of twin suicide attacks in the capital that killed several police officers.

"This is a crucial legal umbrella for the police in taking firm actions, whether in terms of taking preventive or firm actions," Widodo told reporters. "If by June, or by the end of the next sitting session, this is yet to be completed, I will issue a perpu."

The latest attacks underscore concerns over rising sectarian tensions in the world's most populous Muslim majority nation. The new anti-terror laws, which were introduced into parliament in February 2016, would give police sweeping powers of arrest and the ability to detain suspects for up to six months. They would also make it an offence for Indonesians to travel abroad in a bid to join terrorist groups.

The legislation adds offenses such as taking part in military training at home or abroad, communicating about conducting terrorist acts and joining or recruiting for a declared terrorist organization. Authorities would also be given the power to strip convicted terrorists of their passports and citizenship.

Deadly attacks

An explosion rocked the main police office at Surabaya on Monday, while at least 14 people, including six suicide bombers were killed and dozens injured in three separate bombings at churches in Surabaya on Sunday, according to police. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack that was carried out by six members of a family, the Jakarta Post reported.

Barely a week ago, the group also claimed responsibility after six police officers and a prisoner were killed during a prison riot in the capital, Jakarta, local media reported

"The latest attack will increase pressures on Indonesia's lawmakers to expedite the anti-terror bill that is currently stalled in parliament," said Hugo Brennan, a Jakarta-based senior Asia analyst at Verisk Maplecroft.

The existing legislation does not include any preventative aspects, he said, noting it's not currently illegal under the 2003 law to go abroad and try to join a terrorist organization.

Brennan said the latest attacks could have ramifications for upcoming elections. Indonesia's 2019 presidential race is widely expected to be a re-run of the 2014 contest in which Widodo, known as Jokowi, defeated former general Prabowo Subianto, who has cultivated an image as no-nonsense tough guy.

"The laws are with parliament but obviously it's the executive's role to have a working relationship with the legislature to get laws passed. It could well be an issue that Jokowi's political opponents use in the run-up to the elections."

Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security, Wiranto, said Monday major political parties were willing to finalize the legislation in the near future, smoothing its passage without Widodo's intervention.

The Jakarta Composite Index fell as much as 1.7 percent and the rupiah retreated up to 0.3 percent to 13,993 to a dollar after Monday's explosion.

Serious threats

The last five days represent the worst period for terrorist threats in Indonesia in a decade, said Greg Barton, a counter-terrorism expert and professor of global Islamic politics at Deakin University in Australia.

"You have to go back into the last decade to find this level of coordinated attack and intensity," Barton said. "The fact that it's linked to Jemaah Ansharut Daulah and Islamic State is very significant."

He said the incidents raise "a nightmare scenario that Islamic State, particularly with a significant wave of returning foreign fighters, will present a challenge" security forces cannot control.

The British, U.S. and Australian embassies have all issued warnings in response to the attacks in Surabaya, warning he heightened risk of further attacks in the lead-up to and during holy fasting month of Ramadan which runs from Tuesday until mid-June.

– With assistance by Harry Suhartono

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-14/indonesia-under-pressure-to-pass-anti-terror-law-after-attacks

PGI urges political elites not to comment on Surabaya bombing

Tempo - May 13, 2018

Caesar Akbar, Jakarta – General Secretary of the Indonesian Churches Alliance (PGI) Golmar Gultom urged all political and community elites to stop commenting that further distorts the state of terror threats in the form of bombing in Surabaya churches and a few days ago at the Brigade Command Headquarters.

"We appeal to the political elite and public to stop any comments that further complicate the situation," said Golmar in a written statement received by Tempo on Sunday, May 13.

He asked the political elite not to use these violent and terrorist incidents to gain political and momentary interest because the price at stake is the future of the nation.

He also urged the public to stop spreading the photos and videos about acts of terror in Surabaya today. Because according to him, it actually paved the goal of terrorists that spread fear in the community. "I urge people to spread love and peace through the media," said Golmar.

Regarding the incident, Golmar said that for whatever reason, violence was never able to solve the problem and would only give birth to a cycle of violence that ended in destruction. He also believes there is no religion that teaches violence and murder. Any religion, according to him, teaches humanity, peace, and love.

"Misguided thinking that brings religious followers to act violence and terrorism," he said.

Therefore, Golmar said religious leaders need to be more aware of the emergence of supporters of violence and acts of terrorism that wrap evangelists or preachers. He argues that the deradicalization program of BNPT will be useless if the community actually gives the stage to religious leaders who spread radicalism and violence through its da'wah.

"So I appeal to religious and community leaders not to give support and sympathy to perpetrators of violence and terrorism, whatever their motives," said Golmar.

Furthermore, he asked the public not to fear the threat of terror that occurred, both today in Surabaya and a few days ago at Brigade Command Headquarters. "We do not need to fear the threat of terrorism but leave it entirely to the handling of the state."

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/13/055918389/PGI-Urges-Political-Elites-Not-to-Comment-on-Surabaya-Bombing

Civil groups condemn church bombings, support gov't to take stern action

Jakarta Globe - May 13, 2018

Sheany and Adinda Putri, Jakarta – Indonesian civil groups condemned the church bombings in Surabaya, East Java, on Sunday (13/05), and called for a unified rally behind the government to fight all form of terrorism.

"Islam condemns all forms of violence. There is not one religion in this world that justifies the use of violence," Indonesia's biggest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, said in a statement on Sunday.

"All forms of violence are a contradiction to Islamic teachings, and all other religious teachings," NU said.

Three suicide bombings rocked Surabaya churches earlier on Sunday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 40 other members of Christian congregations and security forces.

"Whoever did it, the bombings have inflicted damage to the people, nation and humanity," said M. Saad Ibrahim, chairman of East Java chapter of Muhammadiyah, the second largest Islamic organization in the country.

"We strongly disagree with the suicide bombing. Especially aimed at the symbols of religion," Saad said.

Usman Hamid, the executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, called for the government to take swift action and to bring whoever was responsible to justice.

"Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack against civilians, these attacks constitute a clear violation of international and national laws. The Indonesian authorities must immediately carry out an impartial and exhaustive investigation in order to bring those responsible to justice," Usman said.

Jakarta-based human rights group Setara Institute also condemned the deadly bombings but warned the public that they could inadvertently help the terrorists' cause by circulating violent images or videos from the bombing scene.

"Condolences do not need to be demonstrated by spreading images, videos and other materials that spread fear even more widely, as every violent action desires," Setara said in a statement.

Indonesia's biggest political party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), condemned Sunday's church bombings in Surabaya, seeing it as direct threat to national unity.

"Anyone who undermines the state's dignity must be dealt with using all legal, political, economic, social and cultural approaches, as well as mobilizing the power of people to be actively involved in resisting radicalism. The state is also entitled to use all state instruments, both law enforcement, Polri [National Police] and TNI [Indonesian Military], and state bureaucracies to counter terrorism," Hasto Kristiyanto, the party's secretary general, said in a press release.

Escalated conflict

The bombings marked an escalated clash between Islamist militants and local security forces in the past week.

Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a local umbrella terrorist organization that has stated allegiance to the Islamic State, is suspected to be behind the attacks, said Wawan Purwanto, communications director at Indonesia's State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

"This is connected to the attack at Mako Brimob earlier this week," Purwanto said, referring to the riot at a high security jail outside of Jakarta. "Their main target is the law and security enforcement, but they also have alternatives in case that does not pan out," he said.

Four days ago, 156 terrorist inmates, some of whom were JAD members, instigated a riot at Brimob headquarters, killing five anti-terror police officers and one inmate. The riot ended on Friday morning after the remaining inmates surrendered following a 36-hour standoff.

Shortly after, a policeman was stabbed to death outside the prison compound by a suspected militant, who was also put down by other officers. Later the police apprehended two females, who were allegedly carrying poisoned scissors and were planning on attacking the compound.

The police later shot two suspected terrorists and arrested two others in Bekasi, West Java. Hours before the bombings in Surabaya, the National Police's counter-terrorism unit, Densus 88, pursued and shot four suspected terrorists in Cianjur, West Java.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/civil-groups-condemn-church-bombings-support-govt-take-stern-action/

Islamic groups condemn Surabaya church bombings

Jakarta Post - May 13, 2018

Jakarta – Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, the nation's largest Islamic organizations, have condemned a series of alleged suicide bombing attacks at three churches in Surabaya, East Java, that killed at least nine people and injured dozens of others.

"NU condemns all acts of terrorism, whatever the motive and background. Islam condemns any form of violence. There is not a single religion in the world that justifies violence as a way of life," NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj said in a statement on Sunday.

NU called on the public not to be easily provoked by the terror attacks and invited all Indonesians to unite in the name of humanity.

"If you see even the smallest action that could lead to radicalism and terrorism, please report it immediately. All violent acts are contrary to Islamic values and contrary to all religious values," the group said.

Muhammadiyah also strongly condemned the bombings. "Muhammadiyah, which fights for the good of Muslim society, the nation and humanity, is strongly opposed to the suicide bombings that took place in Surabaya this morning," the head of the organization's East Java chapter, M. Saad Ibrahim, said as quoted by pwmu.co on Sunday.

East Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Frans Barung Mangera told The Jakarta Post the explosions took place at Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church (STMB) on Jl. Ngagel Madya in Gubeng, Surabaya Pentecostal Church (GPPS) on Jl. Raya Arjuna and Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) on Jl. Diponegoro.

The terror attacks in Surabaya took place only days after the deadly riot at a detention center located at the National Police's Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Depok, West Java, last week.

The riot led to the deaths of five police officers and a 36-hour standoff between terrorist detainees, who seized weapons from the police, and security forces.

The attacks also come as the country gears up for major events this year, including the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra, in August and September and the IMF-World Bank meeting in October in Bali. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/13/islamic-groups-condemn-surabaya-church-bombings.html

Cianjur terror suspects plotting Ramadhan attacks: Police

Jakarta Post - May 13, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – Four suspected terrorists shot dead by members of the nation's elite Densus 88 counterterrorism squad in Cianjur, West Java had reportedly been training to launch more attacks during Ramadhan, police say.

"They were reportedly involved in paramilitary training to prepare for other operations during Ramadhan and Idul Fitri in multiple cities, including Jakarta, West Java's Bandung, as well as at Mako Brimob," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said on Sunday, referring to the National Police's Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Kelapa Dua, Depok, West Java.

"As far as we know, the suspects were heading to Mako Brimob [to launch another attack] when the attempted arrests took place," Setyo went on to say.

He added that the suspects were members of the Jamaah Anshar Daulah (JAD) terrorist group and planned to target police stations and posts in those cities in hit-and-run operations.

The suspects have been identified as BBN, 21, DCN, 23, AR, 33, and HS, 23. Police seized several pieces of evidence, including revolver handguns and explosive-tipped arrows.

Separately, police personnel also arrested two others in Sukabumi and Cikarang, West Java on suspicion of having a connection to the dead suspect through a sleeper cell that had become active recently, Setyo said.

The incident in Cianjur took place days after a riot broke out at Mako Brimob, which was followed by a 36-hour standoff between detainees and police, resulting in the death of five police personnel and a detainee.

The attempted arrests in Cianjur also occurred hours before three suicide bombers attacked three churches in Surabaya, East Java, killing at least 10 people and injuring at least 38 others. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/13/cianjur-terror-suspects-plotting-ramadhan-attacks-police.html

Surabaya church bombings might be linked to Islamic State: Experts

Jakarta Post - May 13, 2018

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – No group has claimed responsibility so far for suicide bombings at three churches in Surabaya, East Java, on Sunday morning. However, some experts have linked the attacks to local cells affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) network.

"This attack may be ISIS-inspired, but that doesn't mean it is ISIS-directed," Sidney Jones, a terrorism expert with the Institute for Policy and Analysis of Conflict, told The Jakarta Post, referring to the IS by another acronym.

At least 11 people were reportedly killed while dozens of others were wounded when bombs went off at around 7 a.m. at Saint Mary Immaculate (STMB) Catholic Church of Surabaya on Jl. Ngegel Madya in Gubeng, Surabaya Pentecostal Church (GPPS) on Jl. Raya Arjuna and Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) on Jl. Diponegoro.

"This is likely to be the work of ISIS supporters," Jones said.

Jones argued that unlike what happened in the past bombings in Indonesia, the Surabaya bombings were not linked to Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), the regional network associated with the global terrorist network of Al Qaeda. "Many ISIS groups have discussed bomb attacks on churches, but most have failed," she added.

Several terrorist attacks on churches in the past were carried out by JI members, who are known for their high capability in making bombs. JI has been connected to a string of bomb attacks in Indonesia since 2000, including the Christmas Eve bombings in Jakarta in 2000, the Bali bombings of 2002, the JW Marriott hotel bombing of 2003 and the Australian Embassy bombing of 2004.

Meanwhile, University of Indonesia terrorism expert Ridwan Habib shared Jones's view, saying the attacks may have been launched by the wives of terrorists currently in police detention.

A group of terrorist inmates was behind the recent deadly riot at the detention center of the National Police's Mobile Brigade headquarters in Depok, West Java.

They executed five police officers after seizing police guns. Reports said they were affiliated with the IS, since IS news outlet Amaq News Agency broadcasted the incident soon after the riot broke out. The IS also claimed responsibility for the riot.

"The IS group in Indonesia also has the capability to make bombs," Ridwan said.

According to Ridwan, the IS has some affiliate groups in Indonesia. The most prominent group is Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), whose former leader, Bahrun Naim, is reportedly an IT expert and has the capability to rig bombs. Bahrun was monitored by terrorism experts giving lectures to his followers on how to build bombs. Bahrun reportedly flew to Syria to fight with the IS. Unconfirmed reports suggested he was killed in Syria.

Ridwan said that, even though the IS and JI shared many views, they disagreed over who should become the target of their attacks. JI would only launch attacks against non-Muslims and foreign officials, since assaults on fellow Muslims are strictly forbidden or haram. Meanwhile, the IS has included government officials, particularly police officers, as legitimate targets, since they consider as enemies Muslims that do not adhere to their beliefs. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/13/surabaya-church-bombings-might-be-linked-to-islamic-state-experts.html

Indonesia church attacks: death toll rises after bombs target Sunday

The Guardian - May 13, 2018

Kate Lamb, Jakarta – At least eleven people have been killed and dozens injured in multiple suicide bombings at three churches in Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, in the worst attack the country has seen in more than a decade.

The first explosion at the Santa Maria Catholic church, which killed four, was followed by attacks at the Surabaya Centre pentacostal church and GKI Diponegoro church minutes later.

The East Java police chief, Insp Gen Machfud Arifin, told reporters suicide bombers carried out the attacks using motorcycles and cars. Initial reports from witnesses suggested one of the attackers was a woman with two children.

"I heard two explosions, one was in the church's parking lot and the other was outside the church. The woman was with two little boys," Johanes, a member of the GKI congregation, told Kompas TV.

The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, and the national police chief, Tito Karnarvian, visited Surabaya on Sunday. At a news briefing, Widodo confirmed that two children had been used in the bombing, and condemned the "barbaric" attacks.

"I have instructed police to look into and break up networks of perpetrators," said Widodo.

The blasts occurred within 10 minutes of each other, police said, with the first explosion at 7.30am (0030 GMT).

Indonesian police cordoned off the sites for investigation, and have not yet confirmed the identity of the attackers.

East Java police spokesperson Frans Barung Mangera said 41 injured people were sent to hospital on Sunday, among them two officers who were guarding the churches.

The coordinated attacks in the predominantly Muslim country came days before the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Indonesian intelligence agency officials suspect the Isis-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), was behind the assaults. The militant group is headed by Indonesia's leading Isis proponent Aman Abdurrahman, who is said to have ordered the 2016 Sarinah attack in Jakarta, which killed eight people.

Sunday's attacks follow a deadly prison riot at a maximum-security detention facility in West Java last week, when Islamist inmates killed five officers after taking them hostage and controlled three prison blocks for 40 hours.

The church attacks were likely linked to the prison hostage standoff, said Wawan Purwanto, the communication director at Indonesia's intelligence agency.

"The main target is still security authorities, but we can say that there are alternative [targets] if the main targets are blocked," he said.

News of the riot at the Mako Brimob detention centre has reverberated through jihadist networks, said Todd Elliot, a Jakarta-based security analyst from Concord Consulting.

"Whatever happened in Mako Brimob has certainly reinvigorated domestic militants. Online jihadi social media has been abuzz in the last couple of days with celebratory messages and calls for more attacks," said Elliot.

However, the degree of coordination, multiple bombings at three different locations just minutes apart, suggest the Surabaya attack was well planned.

"As far as the capabilities of Indonesia jihadists this was definitely a well-organised and well coordinated attack," said Elliot.

Sidney Jones, a terrorism analyst, reinforced that view: "This is the deadliest attack that Isis supporters have been able to mount so far," she told the Guardian in a text message. "Most of their earlier bombing attempts failed."

Terrorism analyst Noor Huda Ismail, who has been monitoring the chatter of extremist networks on social media, said Indonesian women have been expressing increasing desire to get more involved in violent extremism.

On Sunday those same networks discussed the women allegedly involved in the Surabaya attacks. If confirmed, it would be the first time a woman has successfully detonated a suicide bomb in Indonesia.

"It will change the whole landscape of radicalisation in Indonesia because first when you are a women involved it sends a message... 'I open up jihad for you'."

Hours before Sunday's attacks, Indonesia's counterterrorism squad shot dead four suspected terrorists from the JAD network in Cianjur, West Java. Police seized two handguns and three bags containing explosives.

Police ordered the temporary closure of all churches in Surabaya on Sunday, and a large food festival in the city was cancelled.

Indonesia is home to significant numbers of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists but there are concerns over rising intolerance. Extremists have mounted a series of attacks against Christians and other minorities in recent years.

Indonesian police shot and wounded a man who attacked a church congregation in Sleman town with a sword during Sunday mass in February. The radical Islamist, who had wanted to fight with the Islamic State group in Syria, injured four people.

Sunday's attacks were the deadliest since 2005, when a series of car bombs killed 23 people on the resort island of Bali. The worst terror attack in Indonesia was the Bali bombing of 2002, when 202 people were killed.

[Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this report.]

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/13/deaths-bomb-attacks-churches-indonesia-surabaya

Freedom of religion & worship

Chicken Church: Indonesia's famed building was built by a man with a

ABC Radio Australia - May 12, 2018

Erwin Renaldi and Iffah Nur Arifah – The massive chicken-shaped building in Indonesia, is a place where people from different faith and religions come to find peace.

Visitors passing by often wonder what a massive, chicken-shaped, stone building is doing standing perched in the middle of a forest in Indonesia.

The strange building in the hills of Magelang in central Java province – known locally as Gereja Ayam, or "Chicken Church" – is actually neither a chicken nor a church.

The family who constructed and now manage the peculiar building say "church" is not the right word for the site.

"Our father's initial plan was to build a house of worship in the shape of a dove, representing peace, but it didn't end up being built by an architect or designer," William Wenas, the son of the brains behind the project, Daniel Alamsjah.

"We were helped by the local people around here, so the shape is a little bit daggy," the 37-year-old told the ABC.

Since then, Chicken Church has become an immensely popular spot for local tourists and is regularly featured on Instagram with the #chickenchurch hashtag.

But Mr Wenas maintains that not only has the shape of the building been misrepresented, but the purpose of the Bukit Rhema House of Prayer – as it is formally known – has also been widely misunderstood.

"Therefore, we always have a team who inform visitors that this is not a church but a house of prayer that is different to any other worship places, since we welcome everyone regardless of their faith and religion," he said.

Chicken Church started with a reoccurring dream

One night, Daniel Alamsjah, now 75, dreamt that he was asked to build a house of worship on a large hill, a house of worship like none other that had ever been seen before.

But Mr Alamsjah says that he kept having the same dream over and over until he met someone in 1988 at Candi Borobudur, a ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang.

They took Mr Alamsjah to a small village in the same city where he says he was stunned to see the same hill from his dreams.

He felt his dreams had been validated after visiting the location and apparently started building the house of prayer a couple of years later in 1992 following instructions set out from his dream.

He regularly travelled to Magelang from Jakarta some 400 kilometres away to oversee the progress of the development, before he ultimately decided to move to the area with his family.

"Every Friday evening after work he went to Magelang by a train," Mr Wenas told the ABC. Mr Wenas said his family didn't understand why his father would visit the project every weekend.

"Logically he could not afford to build it at all," Mr Wenas said. "If God didn't lend a helping hand, he wouldn't have been able to finish it."

'We all find peace and tolerance in this place'

Each floor in the seven-storey complex has a different theme – such as spiritual journeys, the meaning of prayer, God's perfections, and local wisdoms – and the themes are represented through various artworks.

The purpose of this building, the family says, is to promote religious diversity and tolerance in Indonesia.

There are 15 rooms prayer rooms for almost all official religions in Indonesia, including a spot for Christians and another room facing Mecca for Muslims.

"When I first came here, I thought this was a place of worship for Christians since it was called a 'church'," one of visitor named Mimiva told the ABC.

"But we also found there's a room for Muslims equipped with Islamic prayer mats, clothes, and sarong."

The message of peace and diversity of religions conveyed in the building is embraced by visitors – the building is also home to social events, including delivering a rehabilitation program for ex-drug users.

"All visitors and friends here hail from different backgrounds, but we all find peace and tolerance in the place," another visitor Herman Trianto said.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2018-05-12/chicken-church-indonesias-famed-building-was-built-by-a-man-with-a-dream-more-than-30yrs-ago/1755766

'Dark forces' of intolerance spreading in Indonesia, say

Asian Correspondent - May 11, 2018

Max Walden – Parliamentarians from across Southeast Asia have warned of "dark forces" of intolerance in Indonesia, calling upon the government to act to counter rights abuses against minorities and restrictions on freedom of religion.

Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) members from Thailand, Burma (Myanmar) and Indonesia concluded a four-day fact finding mission in Yogyakarta earlier this week, a city long reputed for being a tolerant melting pot of religions and cultures.

In recent years, however, incidents involving attacks against religious minorities, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and other minority groups have risen significantly.

In January, hardline Muslim groups harassed cafes and bars in a popular tourist street of Yogyakarta over the service of alcohol, later demanding that the city government shut down the cafes. The following month, a man wielding a sword attacked a church in Yogyakarta, injuring four people and slashing at the statue of Jesus.

"The authorities must ensure that all faith communities are afforded equal protection and the freedom to worship and practice their religions," said Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives who led the delegation in a statement.

"This includes ensuring accountability for vigilante attacks and instituting preventive measures to protect vulnerable communities from attacks before they happen," she said.

While Muslim-majority Indonesia's constitution protects pluralism and freedom of religion, rights groups have long criticised so-called "religious harmony" laws introduced under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which in practice has made it more difficult to establish minority houses of worship.

"We heard stories of how difficult it is for religious minorities to obtain necessary approval for their houses of worship," said Rachada Dhnadirek, an APHR member and former MP from Thailand. "The burdensome process and unclear requirements create unnecessary barriers to religious practice for too many, and it is clear that this decree should be amended."

Intolerance and violence against the LGBT community has also grown in Yogyakarta, as elsewhere in Indonesia. In 2015, a demonstration by the LGBT community in Yogyakarta to mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance was targeted by radical groups who violently attacked the protesters.

A local Islamic boarding school for transgender people founded in 2008 has in recent years been targeted by the vigilante groups such as the Front Jihad Islam (FJI), which has attempted to shutter the school.

"All sectors of society must work together to push back against the rising tide of intolerance in Yogyakarta and across all of Indonesia," added Sundari. "We need to put human rights at the centre of efforts to address religious hatred and vigilantism."

Intensified crackdowns against homosexuals and transgender Indonesians have accompanied rising Islamic conservatism, including bans on LGBT-friendly phone apps and raids against so-called "gay parties" by police and hardline religious vigilantes.

"As parliamentarians, we have a role to play not only to ensure that strong laws are in place, but also to provide proper oversight of the implementation of those laws," Sundari said.

Indonesia's parliament is currently considering revisions to the national criminal code which would make sexual relations defined as zina – the Islamic concept of adultery – jailable offences. This would criminalise pre-marital sex and homosexuality, putting millions of people at risk of prosecution.

Back in February, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein expressed concern over the spread of "extremist" views in Indonesia, leading to discrimination and violence against minority groups.

"If Muslim societies expect others to fight against Islamophobia, we should be prepared to end discrimination at home too," said Zeid. "Islamophobia is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs and colour is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or any other status is wrong."

"The spectre of growing intolerance and vigilantism threatens Indonesia's democratic success," Sundari added. "We cannot allow the spirit of democracy, human rights, and Pancasila to be undermined by these dark forces."

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2018/05/dark-forces-of-intolerance-spreading-in-indonesia-say-parliamentarians/

ASEAN lawmakers decry Indonesia's 'rising tide of intolerance'

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - May 9, 2018

Phelim Kine – The Indonesian government's failure to address growing intolerance for religious minorities and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has drawn renewed criticism from Southeast Asian lawmakers.

The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), a nongovernmental grouping of current and former elected representatives from Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries, warned this week that a "rising tide of intolerance" against those vulnerable minorities "threatens Indonesia's democratic success."

The organization called on the Indonesian government "to put human rights at the center of efforts to address religious hatred and vigilantism."

The APHR's criticism comes at a time when religious minorities are at heightened risk from discriminatory regulations that hinder their right to religious freedom. Those laws include the 1965 blasphemy law, which punishes deviations from the central tenets of Indonesia's six officially recognized religions – Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism – with up to five years in prison.

Recent targets of the blasphemy law include three former leaders of the Gafatar religious community following the violent forced eviction of more than 7,000 members of the group from farms on Kalimantan island in 2016, as well as former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama, who a court sentenced to a two-year prison term for blasphemy in May 2017 because of a reference he made to a Quranic verse in September 2016.

The APHR's concerns about "vigilantism" point to increasing incidents over the past two years in which Indonesian police have openly collaborated with militant Islamists to unlawfully target LGBT people.

Last year, the police arrested more than 300 LGBT people in raids of private gay clubs, lesbian-owned houses, and other private venues across Indonesia. Meanwhile, Indonesia's parliament is deliberating a new criminal code, the current draft of which would criminalize consensual sex between two unmarried persons, effectively making all same-sex relations illegal.

The APHR joins a growing chorus of international concern, including that of United Nations member states, about the Indonesian government's failure to address increasing threats to vulnerable minorities. Until President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo recognizes Indonesia's obligation to protect the rights of all minorities, their safety will be at risk.

[Phelim Kine is deputy director, Asia Division.]

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/09/asean-lawmakers-decry-indonesias-rising-tide-intolerance

The politics of hijab in Indonesia

Jakarta Globe - May 8, 2018

Dhania Sarahtika, Jakarta – What comes to your mind when you hear the word hijab, or the headscarf? In the current political climate, more than a few would say oppression of women or religious fanaticism. But what about liberation or rebellion against the system? It may sound strange, but throughout history, the hijab has meant all of those things for Indonesian women.

During Suharto's repressive New Order dictatorship for example, many style choices deemed as symbols of rebellion, such as long hair for boys and yes, the hijab, were banned.

This was a sign, as Gadjah Mada University researcher Achmad Munjid had pointed out, that Islam in the New Order was reduced to the performance of rituals.

Activist Aquino Hayunta, during a recent discussion on hijab hosted by the Jakarta Feminist Discussion Group (JFDG) and Koalisi Seni Indonesia (Indonesian Art Coalition), said many Indonesian Muslim women started donning the hijab in the early 1980s inspired by the Iranian Revolution.

At the same time, Islamic groups were seen as a serious threat for the government since many of them refused to comply to the state ideology Pancasila – a subversive move if ever there was one.

During the 1980s, violent clashes between the state and Islamic groups rose in numbers, some of them leading to massacres of Muslims – in Tanjung Priok in 1984 and Talangsari in Lampung in 1989.

According to an article by Petrik Matanasi in online magazine Tirto, thousands of women in the Talangsari massacre were dragged by their hijabs and publicly accused of being the wives of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members.

Hijab's out of schools

Aquino said in high schools back then, students who donned the hijab often had to face the wrath of their teachers.

"If you wear hijab because of Allah, then I can't forbid you. But if you wear it for a political cause, then the school will come down hard on you," a teacher at Jakarta's SMAN 68 High School said once, Aquino recalled.

Indonesia's Education and Culture Ministry (Kemendikbud) rolled out a regulation in 1982 prohibiting hijab in schools, arguing it was not part of official state school uniforms.

Aquino said high school students in Jakarta, Bandung (West Java), Tangerang (Banten), Bekasi (West Java), Semarang (Central Java), Surabaya (East Java) and Kendari (Southeast Sulawesi) were expelled for wearing the headscarf.

The activist recalled a vicious rumor had even gone round the country that some hijabs were spiked with a secret toxin that would harm its wearers.

But in the early 1990s, when the dictator Suharto decided he needed to start courting the massive political power of Indonesian Muslims, the wind started to change for hijabers in Indonesia.

A new regulation was released in 1991 that finally allowed school students to wear religious accessories, including the hijab.

But, the government's stamp of approval on the hijab, as Muslim feminist activist Lies Marcoes said during the same discussion with Aquino, was a double-edged sword.

Instead of empowering hijabers, the New Order government had co-opted them. Hijab was turned into just another accessory, no longer a potent symbol of rebellion against the state.

New tool of oppression

After Suharto's New Order was gone, hijab became a tool for oppression against women.

According to Aquino's research, since Reformasi in 1998, 443 sharia-based regulations (Perda Syariah) have been issued by local governments, many of which prescribed the donning of hijab for Muslim women.

Michael Buehler, a professor from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) said in his book, "The Politics of Shari'a Law: Islamic Activists and the State in Democratizing Indonesia," that declining electoral support for Islamic political parties in the late 1990s and early 2000s had forced politicians to seek support from Islamic groups.

Indonesian politicians from all persuasions were more than willing to issue sharia laws to court support from those groups.

In an interview with BBC Indonesia, Buehler said many politicians who impose sharia laws are not necessarily Muslims or believe in Islamic laws, but are definitely opportunistic.

The sharia laws often make hijab mandatory for Muslim women, especially in schools and government offices.

According to an unpublished research by feminist group KAPAL Perempuan Institute, a sharia-influenced school regulation issued in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, forces female Muslim students to don modestwear – including the hijab – and non-Muslim female students to wear long-sleeve shirts.

The problem was, many students in Mataram, a poor part of the country, can't afford to buy an extra set of modestwear for their school uniforms.

A junior high school student interviewed for the study said her parents only make Rp 200,000 ($14) a month while a set of modestwear uniform costs a princely Rp 125,000.

Last year, a non-Muslim student was forced to drop out of another junior high school in Banyuwangi, East Java, because the school made hijab mandatory for all female students. And in January this year, Aceh Besar District Head Mawardi Ali signed an executive order making it mandatory for airline stewardesses to don the hijab while in Aceh.

If they refuse, they will be forced to wear hijab and sarong provided by local authorities.

There has been resistance against this trend of forcing women to wear the headscarf. As reported by Republika, some schools in Hindu-dominated Bali banned the hijab in 2014.

In March this year, Yogyakarta's Sunan Kalijaga Islamic State University (UIN) issued a ban on the niqab (face veil) supposedly to stop the spread of radical Islam on campus ground.

The ban was revoked after strident criticism from both Islamic groups – including the conservative Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) – and feminists.

Lies said the ban was unfair and might encourage Islamophobia. Radicalized people should be brought to court, and that only after they are suspected of committing crimes, she said.

South Kalimantan's Lambung Mangkurat University also issued a similar niqab ban in 2015.

The politics of hijab

Aquino said political trends always have a great sway on how the hijab is seen in Indonesia.

At the moment, the increasingly conservative political climate has meant that social media is awash with local accounts urging Muslim women to don the hijab.

Insulting memes comparing "hijabis" and "non-hijabis" abound, one likening the women to wrapped and unwrapped candies. Among hijabis themselves, there is often heated argument over which headscarf style is the most Islamic.

In recent years, "syar'i" hijab, a loose-wearing, longer hijab that covers almost the entire upper body, has been considered the most proper of all headscarves.

Lies said controversial laws forcing Muslim women to wear the hijab can be prevented by declaring the headscarf as a "mubah" accessory. Mubah in Islamic law means "permitted" or "neutral."

Lies said if hijab is categorized as mubah, Muslim women will be free to decide for themselves whether or not to wear it.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/features/politics-hijab-indonesia/

Cultural & religious events

Daily mass 'iftar' events at 223 Jakarta community units during Ramadhan

Jakarta Post - May 15, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta Administration plans to hold mass iftar (breaking of the fast) events starting in June, in 223 community units (RW), funded and organized by the administration and private citizens.

"Both the administration and citizens will work together for the iftar events, as well as for the funding," Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on Tuesday as reported by Warta Kota.

Anies said that NGO Dompet Dhuafa and the Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) foundation would receive any donations from citizens who wanted to participate in the iftar events.

"For citizens who want to participate in preparing the iftar events, ACT and Dompet Dhuafa will be the channel for them. Citizens can send donations to a bank account set up by ACT and Dompet Dhuafa, which will be distributed as iftar meals for residents. The administration will also provide some of the funding," Anies said.

ACT vice president Imam Akbari said that Ramadhan was a time to help those in need.

"We want citizens to help each other, so we will facilitate anyone who wants to collaborate with us during the Ramadhan fasting month. We will start with iftar events, which some may regard as trivial, but it is actually precious for some of our friends," he said.

Imam said that ACT also accepted food donations, whether raw or cooked, or volunteers who wanted to help preparing the iftar meals. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/15/daily-mass-iftar-events-at-223-jakarta-community-units-during-ramadhan.html

Jakarta's nightlife venues asked to shut down during Ramadhan

Jakarta Post - May 12, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta administration has instructed all nightlife venues to shut down operations for Ramadhan one day before the fasting month begins next week.

The instruction was given in a circular issued by the Jakarta Tourism and Culture Agency. The establishments asked to close include nightclubs, spas and massage parlors, gaming centers and bars.

However, businesses located inside hotels or shopping malls can operate within limited hours.

Karaoke parlors or pubs can operate from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., while family karaoke parlors are allowed to operate from 2 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Family karaoke parlors, however, are banned from selling alcoholic beverages.

The agency's official, Toni Bako, said he expected all tourist business owners to obey the instruction. "Should they disobey, we will issue sanctions," he said on Friday as quoted by wartakota.tribunnew.com.(iwa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/12/jakartas-nightlife-venues-asked-to-shut-down-during-ramadhan.html

Land & agrarian conflicts

Residents condemn arrests in Kodam Jaya housing eviction

Jakarta Post - May 11, 2018

Jakarta – Residents of Jakarta Military Command (Kodam) Jaya housing complex in Tanah Kusir, South Jakarta, condemned on Thursday the detention of four during a recent protest against evictions in the area.

Dozens of residents took to the street and burned tires on nearby Jl. Arteri Pondok Indah on Wednesday to resist evictions from several houses by military personnel. They refused to be evicted by force since a lawsuit on the case was still under court examination.

The South Jakarta Police detained four residents involved in the protest, but later released them.

"We are reporting the case to [the Army's internal affairs division] today and will send a letter to President [Joko "Jokowi" Widodo] to notify of human rights violations [in the detention]," said Dewi Rizki, a representative of the residents.

Kodam Jaya was planning to evict the occupants of 30 houses in the complex as, based on the military's claim, the houses belonged to them. Currently, neither military personnel nor former personnel live in the houses. Some of them were rented out or occupied by children of former personnel.

The Wednesday protest caused traffic jams on Jl. Arteri Pondok Indah and nearby areas.

The East Jakarta District Court has ruled in favor of the military in the property dispute. But on March 13, the residents filed an appeal to contest the court's ruling and continued to challenge the military's ownership of the Kodam Jaya housing area. (vny/cal/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/10/residents-condemn-arrests-in-kodam-jaya-housing-eviction.html

Military evicts residents from South Jakarta housing complex

Jakarta Post - May 9, 2018

Jakarta – Military personnel have evicted residents from houses in the Jakarta Military District Command (Kodam) Jaya housing complex in Tanah Kusir, South Jakarta, on Wednesday morning despite protests.

The eviction has been deemed unjust by the residents as the dispute over the land is still being examined by the court.

The military personnel began emptying the houses at 8 a.m. The residents could not approach the houses, with some 20 military personnel blocking the way. One resident argued with a military officer.

"[Tanah Kusir housing complex] is not a military housing complex... there's no signpost mentioning this as a Kodam or Kostrad housing complex. [The housing] belongs to the residents," on of the residents told kompas.com, referring to the Jakarta Military Command (Kodam) and the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad).

Another resident, Irfan, said the military personnel had conducted a forced eviction without prior notice. "The land dispute case is still being processed by the court. Why are the military officers emptying our houses?" he said.

On Wednesday morning, dozens of residents burned tires on Jl. Arteri Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, to protest the planned eviction.

The protest, which started at 5.50 a.m., caused traffic congestion around Pondok Indah Mall. Jl. Pondok Indah to Permata Hijau was also blocked by the residents. The traffic returned to normal around 9 a.m. (cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/09/military-evicts-residents-from-south-jakarta-housing-complex.html

AP I, authorities violate human rights in Yogya airport project: Komnas

Jakarta Post - May 8, 2018

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has accused the government, along with state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura (AP) I and the Yogyakarta Police, of violating human rights in the clearing of land for the New Yogyakarta International Airport in Kulon Progo.

In a letter expressing its rejection of the project, the commission says it suspects the land clearing, which was marred with the destruction of trees and art objects as well as electricity supply disruption, violated people's right to prosperity, especially the right to ownership, as stipulated in Article 37 (2) of Law No. 39/1999 on human rights.

Signed on May 2 by Amiruddin, a member of Komnas HAM's human rights enforcement subcommission, the letter is addressed to Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, the Yogyakarta Police and Kulon Progo Regent Hasto Wardoyo. "Yes, we have sent them the letter," Amiruddin told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Art of resistance: Residents of Kulon Progro, Yogyakarta, who have formed an association rejecting eviction in Kulon Progo, stage an art performance on Tuesday to express their opposition to the planned New Yogyakarta International Airport.

Komnas HAM called on AP I and the Kulon Progo Police to avoid repressive action and intimidation.

"The Yogyakarta government, in this regard the Kulon Progo administration, and AP I must open a dialogue with all residents organized in the PWPP-KP [pressure group] and accommodate their complaints and expectations by pushing forward social and cultural aspects," said Amiruddin.

On Dec. 5, 2017, security authorities had arrested 12 activists supporting residents opposed to the construction of the new airport.

PWPP-KP lawyer Teguh Purnomo said Komnas HAM had proven that AP I, the government and the police had violated human rights. "Those proven guilty of violating human rights must be punished," he said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/08/ap-i-authorities-violate-human-rights-in-yogya-airport-project-komnas-ham.html

Could violence against the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia happen again?

Indonesia at Melbourne - May 9, 2018

Property and businesses owned by Chinese Indonesians were targeted in the widespread rioting and violence that broke out in cities including Jakarta, Medan and Solo, from 12-15 May 1998.

This month marks 20 years since the fall of the authoritarian New Order government and its leader of more than three decades, Soeharto. After months of economic and political turmoil, mass rioting, looting, assaults and murder broke out in cities across the archipelago on 12-15 May, including in Jakarta, Solo and Medan.

In the midst of the widespread violence in these cities, rioters targeted property and businesses largely owned by ethnic Chinese Indonesians, a minority of less than 2 per cent of the Indonesian population but disproportionately represented in its trading and small business sector.

In the days before the violence, graffiti appeared on some shop fronts declaring them to be pribumi ("native Indonesian") owned. It was an eerie, though not entirely clear, signal to those deemed non-pribumi of what was about to erupt.

The ethnic Chinese had already been under attack for several months. With the deepening of the Asian Economic Crisis in late 1997 and early 1998, the Soeharto regime sought to fend off both IMF attempts to force its compliance and an increasingly hostile public at home. The government's response to the crisis was a familiar one, involving distraction, pointing at shadows and the usual suspects.

Since the purges of 1965-66, leftist organisations and ideology, together with indicators of ethnic Chinese identity, were outlawed and demonised. But rather than erasing ethnic Chinese identity, it only served to make ethnic Chinese Indonesians more conspicuous, rendering them convenient scapegoats for the regime.

In early 1998, after a bomb exploded in an apartment in Tanah Tinggi, Central Jakarta, the fledging leftist People's Democratic Party (PRD) and prominent ethnic Chinese tycoon and New Order crony Sofyan Wanandi (Liem Bian Koen) were alleged to have conspired to destabilise the government.

Commentators at the time recognised the absurdity of the proposition, given Wanandi was a prominent anti-communist and one-time Soeharto confidant. For weeks, Wanandi was nonetheless hounded by members of the government, military and Islamic organisations. His attackers included General Feisal Tanjung, General Prabowo Subianto, then-Indonesian Committee for Solidarity with the Islamic World (KISDI) leader Fadli Zon, and Golkar Chair Harmoko. They questioned his patriotism and spouted a broader conspiracy theory of an impending attempt to overthrow the president.

The attempt to associate Wanandi with the PRD, though preposterous to those in political circles, was deliberate and powerful in a society that had been conditioned to accept certain stereotypes linking the ethnic Chinese with the political left. Wanandi concluded that it was because of his ethnicity that he had been singled out for blame and accusations of disloyalty to the nation during a time of crisis.

On 22 January 1998, the rupiah hit a low of Rp 17,000 to the US dollar, about one sixth of its former value. The pressures of inflation, which had reached over 50 per cent by February, meant that increases in the price of basic goods were inevitable. The National Logistics Agency (Bulog) continued to keep prices artificially low, despite calls from the IMF not to do so. Rather than acting to calm the public, the Attorney General announced crackdowns on those found hoarding and hiking prices, and launched military-style searches called "market operations" (operasi pasar).

The anti-hoarding message, but now with racist overtones directed at the ethnic Chinese, was also delivered from pulpits and in statements by the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). With the authorities insisting on normality in the markets and failing to explain to the public what was really happening, traders were deemed responsible. Inevitably they became the focus for a frustrated public.

In this increasingly tense atmosphere, rumours about shop-owners hoarding food and imminent price rises were causing panic, which boiled over into food riots in January and February, largely against ethnic Chinese traders. Initially the attacks were spontaneous and occurred over several weeks coinciding with celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan. But attacks in Java soon took on an organised and systematic character and moved beyond food stores.

Investigation of the early 1998 food riots across Java revealed that local hired preman (thugs) had instigated the violence. There is also compelling evidence that local military and police were aware of the "riot systems" and pattern of attacks in West and Central Java, for example, but took no steps to protect Chinese Indonesians and their property.

The smears against Wanandi, Tutut Suharto's "I Love Rupiah" campaign – which branded people who sent their money offshore "disloyal" (and inferring ethnic Chinese were doing so) – and the failure of the state to handle pressure on supply of basic goods all meant that Chinese Indonesians were increasingly held directly responsible for the broader crisis.

By the time the political crisis reached its peak in early to mid-May 1998, the groundwork had been laid for heightened anti-Chinese sentiment and a normalising of violence against this group as a legitimate expression of dissatisfaction. This type of violence against ethnic Chinese has occurred repeatedly in modern Indonesian history. It typically involves a combination of local grievances, economic pressures, political conflict, religious antagonism and even hunger, but crucially, also an absence of security or political leadership.

Beginning with the killings by security forces of students at Trisakti University on 12 May, the May riots included the murder of more than 1,000 people trapped in shopping malls set alight, and an estimated 100-plus women raped and sexually assaulted. The violence was undeniably state-sponsored and orchestrated, but the scale and destruction it caused relied on the propensity of the crowd to follow and join in the violence. Acts of anti-Chinese violence took place in the midst of state-sponsored terrorism against urban poor, political violence against student dissidents, and gendered violence.

The extraordinary violence seen in mid-May 1998, particularly in Jakarta, did not fit the pattern of past episodes of anti-Chinese violence. Subsequent investigations by the Joint Fact Finding Team (Tim Gabungan Pencari Fakta) appointed by President BJ Habibie in 1998 and the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women in January 1999, among others, revealed the riots were carried out systematically, with military-style planning, extreme brutality and purpose.

In recent times, many Chinese Indonesians have perceived an uptick in anti-Chinese sentiment, associated with the protests against and prosecution of Jakarta's former governor, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in late 2016 and early 2017. This has led them and others to pose a difficult question: could violence like that of May 1998 happen again?

Over the past 20 years, violence that may be considered "anti-Chinese" has been minimal and has usually taken the form of localised grievance-based violence against property, often associated with conflicts over places of worship. As studies by Melissa Crouch have shown, these types of conflict are not specific to Chinese Indonesian non-Muslims.

Further, the raft of discriminatory laws repealed, first under President BJ Habibie and then his successors, Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Soekarnoputri, have allowed ethnic Chinese to participate as "normal" citizens under the law, if not in the eyes of all their fellow Indonesians. The fact that anti-Chinese sentiment persists in Indonesia is not in dispute but this is not of itself indicative that renewed violence is likely.

Indonesia's history of violence against its ethnic Chinese minority, and the conditions leading up to May 1998, show that a combination of extraordinary factors need to come together for anti-Chinese violence to occur on such a scale. These include national political and economic crises, plus tensions within local settings, but most importantly the absence of security.

As Indonesia heads towards national elections in 2019, it is possible, perhaps inevitable, that some of these factors may emerge. But, overwhelmingly, the prospects of them all coming together at the same time, and with the necessary intensity, are low. Indonesia's economic growth projection continues to be strong and it continues to enjoy international acclaim for its economic potential, meaning that an economic crisis on the same scale is unlikely. Importantly, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's popularity remains high, and that also allows him a level of control over the national security forces.

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/could-violence-against-the-ethnic-chinese-in-indonesia-happen-again/

Transport & communication

Ministry lifts cap on cellphone numbers

Jakarta Post - May 8, 2018

Jakarta – The Communications and Information Ministry has lifted the restriction on cellphone numbers from three per person to unlimited following protests from shop owners.

Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara issued a letter, which was distributed to telecommunication service providers, to lift the cap on cellphone numbers per citizenship identity number (NIK), kompas.com reported.

The government previously issued a regulation that required all cellphone owners to register their numbers along with their NIK. The ministry then proceeded to issue a regulation restricting the ownership of cellphone numbers to three per person

The previous regulation stated that while one NIK may have more than three cellphone numbers, the telecommunication providers should file a report once every three months on NIKs that were registered to multiple numbers.

Cellphone shop owners protested the regulation, which they said had killed off their livelihood. Previously, the Indonesia Cellular Trade Association (KNCI) said the regulation had decreased their income to 80 percent.

The ministry, in the past few months, has continued to change the regulations on cellphone number registration, which have caused confusion among cellphone owners and stores alike. (dwa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/08/ministry-lifts-cap-on-cellphone-numbers.html

Sport & recreation

Minister suggests Jakarta schools close during Asian Games, students get

Coconuts Jakarta - May 9, 2018

While preparations for the Asian Games, which will begin on August 18 and be hosted by both Jakarta and Palembang, seem to generally be on track, one major concern that still remains is how the Jakarta government will handle all of the additional traffic that the games will bring to the capital (which will of course only add to Jakarta's already notorious macet).

As the second biggest multi-sport event in the world after the Olympics, it is estimated that the games will bring up to 3 million tourists to the capital this year.

One suggestion that has been floated is actually giving all public schools in Jakarta a holiday during all or part of the Games, which will end on September 2. The effectiveness of such a measure in alleviating traffic is already hard to gauge, but on top of that there are concerns about the effect shutting down the schools for such a long time would have on Jakarta students' education.

Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Puan Maharani had an idea about how to handle that which she recently shared with Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno during a coordination meeting for the games.

"The proposal from Ibu Puan is that if (the students were given a holiday during the Asian Games) it would result in accreditation difficulties for some schools because they would have too many days off, so we would assign them to participate in the activities of the Asian Games as a school task," Sandiaga said today as quoted by Kompas.

As an example, Sandiaga said students could be given assignments such as writing papers about the Asian Games or interviewing athletes. They can also learn from interacting with athletes and tourists using their foreign language skills.

However, Sandiaga said any such decision would still require significant study and wouldn't be made for some time. He said a decision would likely be made in June.

When the Indonesian government accepted hosting duties for the Asian Games in 2014, it was hoped that some of the public transportation systems currently under construction, including the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) would be ready in time to help handle logistics for the Games, but it is extremely unlikely that either will be ready for public use by then.

Do you think shutting down schools during the Asian Games is a good idea? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/minister-suggests-jakarta-schools-close-asian-games-students-get-credit-studying-games-instead/

Criminal justice & legal system

Amnesty International: Mako Brimob riot needs investigation

Tempo - May 12, 2018

Alfan Hilmi, Jakarta – Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, Usman Hamid, urges an investigation to find out the roots of the riot involving terrorist convicts and officers in Police's Mobile Brigade detention center or Mako Brimob, Depok.

According to Usman, an investigation may help the public understand the exact reason behind the incident that killed five police officers. "The investigation result should be released to public," Said Usman when contacted by Tempo on Friday, May 11, 2018.

The riot in Mako Brimob broke out on Tuesday night, May 08, 2018. The police said the riot erupted because of a quarrel between convicts and police about the food brought by the inmate's family.

The commotion lasted for 36 hours which was ended at around 07:15 on Thursday, May 10, 2018. About 155 convicts surrender without resistance. From the number, as many as 145 inmates have been moved to Nusakambangan, Central Java.

Usman stated he appreciated the way police controlling the situation in Mako Brimob. The Amnesty chief said what they did was correct by using humanist approach to convicts without any raid. "Whatever the outcome of the negotiation, the human rights principle should be placed first," he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/12/055918363/Amnesty-International-Mako-Brimob-Riot-Needs-Investigation

The first terrorist act in Indonesian prison: the triggers and how to

The Conversation - May 12, 2018

Ika Krismantari – Indonesia witnessed another terrorist act last Tuesday.

But, this time, it occurred in a maximum-security detention centre located at the police's Mobile Brigade headquarters in Depok, West Java.

More than 150 terrorist detainees incited a riot following their protests against security treatments in the prison, guarded by the anti-terror police squad. During a 36-hour stand-off, the inmates seized dozens of weapons and killed five guards by brutally cutting their throats. One terrorist inmate was also killed during the incident.

Unconfirmed videos and photos on the horrific act circulated on social media. Amaq News Agency, linked to Islamic State (IS), has claimed that IS was behind the attack. From 156 terrorist inmates in the prison, at least ten are IS supporters.

Many believe that this terrorist act is new and unprecedented. We talked to two experts to understand the reasons behind this brutal act and how Indonesia can prevent similar attacks from happening.

Poor prison management

Leopold Sudaryono from Australian National University argued that Indonesia's poor prison management had triggered the incident.

"It is a tip of an iceberg of the government's failures in managing their prison facilities," said the doctoral candidate who is writing his dissertation on prison management in six provinces in Indonesia.

Indonesian prisons are plagued with problems ranging from poor facilities, corrupt practices to overcrowding. Leopold's research found that food served in the prison complex was far from decent.

"They call it "Nasi Cadong", comprises only of rice, wet vegetables and sometimes a side dish. This is worth around Rp 15,000 (US$1.07) while the original budget is set around Rp 40,000," he said.

The riot broke after an inmate became furious when a guard refused to deliver food sent out by his family according to media reports. "It may be trivial, but the food issue has been a classical problem in Indonesian prisons," Leo said.

Rampant corrupt practices in jail have become another source of problems. They not only lead to poor services for inmates but also allow inmate misconducts in prison.

It is common knowledge that inmates in Indonesian prisons can get whatever they want as long as they can pay. This explains the common use of illegal drugs in Indonesian prisons. Detainees can also get access to mobile phones that are actually prohibited inside cells.

Such corrupt practices had caused many prison uprisings, including a riot in the same penitentiary complex in 2017. The riot occurred after the confiscation of mobile phones belonged to terrorist inmates, who claimed they had obtained a security clearance for the phones.

Lax security in high security prisons

Overcrowding is another issue in Indonesian prisons. The recent data from Search for Common Ground showed that there were 254,000 prisoners in 477 detention complexes in Indonesia that could only house 115,000 inmates.

Overcrowding coupled with relative low number of security officers has made Indonesian prisons prone to conflicts. "High-security prisons in Indonesia have failed to meet the ideal one guard to four detainees ratio," Leopold said.

High-security prisons are for offenders of heavy crimes like terrorism and drug cases.

Indonesia aims to have five maximum-security prisons facilities for terrorists and drug convicts in the future, according to Leopold. So far, two such prisons are available in Nusa Kambangan, Central Java while the remaining three are still in progress.

"These prisons must follow specific requirements, including wall thickness and security arrangements," he said. From these requirements, it is hard to say that the Depok detention centre is a maximum-security prison, Leopold says.

Leopold believes that all security issues in the Depok detention centre is a ticking time bomb that has finally exploded on Tuesday.

The rise of new style terrorism

In addition to poor prison management, Noor Huda Ismail of Monash University views that the terrorist operation inside the prison was instigated by the rise of new generation of terrorists.

"They are more brutal and non-compromising, different from their predecessors," Noor Huda explained.

Previous terrorist organisations such as Jamaah Islamiyah responsible for the Bali Bombings were bound by collective spirit and values, he said. The perpetrators of the Depok incident were more individualistic.

"They are connected through social media. They build an understanding on jihad fights from what they see on Facebook," he said.

Noor Huda believed that these terrorists were more radical than their seniors as they were self recruited with social media. "They create their own imagination on how jihad should be done from social media," Noor Huda said.

This explains their act of cutting police guard's throats in the incident. "They may have been inspired by IS acts on social media," he said, adding such method had never been done by Indonesian terrorists.

Preventive measures

To deal with the new generation of terrorists, Noor Huda said that the government should come up with a multidimensional approach involving all aspects in the society as the spread of terrorism propaganda occurred across borders via the Internet.

"The religious leaders, educators and parents should play an important role to avoid young generation from being influenced by terrorism," he said.

Meanwhile, Leopold suggested the improvement in Indonesia's prison management to avoid similar incident in the future.

Due to the lack of resources, he suggested the government to change its prison arrangement for terrorist convicts by locking them in one prison.

Under the current system, the government jails terrorist convicts in different facilities. Currently, there are 271 terrorist inmates spread in 68 detention centres across country.

By putting the terrorist inmates in one prison, the government can also stop them from recruiting other convicts to become their members.

Leopold also called the government to overhaul its prison managements by improving the service and eradicating corrupt practices.

"Giving them bad services will give them justification for their terrorist acts. We must stop giving them reasons by giving them proper and humane services in prisons," he said.

Source: https://theconversation.com/the-first-terrorist-act-in-indonesian-prison-the-triggers-and-how-to-prevent-them-96505

Jokowi mulls restoring joint special ops command to fight terrors

Tempo - May 11, 2018

Friski Riana, Jakarta – Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) was weighing the reinstatement of the National Military (TNI) Joint Special Operations Command Unit (Koopssusgab) to combat terrorism in the wake of Tuesday's Mako Brimob rioting.

"I mentioned it to the president and he seemed interested in reactivating the unit," said Moeldoko today at the Bina Graha Building in Jakarta.

Moeldoko explained he pitched the idea to the president as the present global situation called for the existence of such unit. "It was formed when I was the TNI Commander and it was not just an idea," said Moeldoko.

The elite joint operations unit, according to Moeldoko, comprised the Army's special forces Kopassus, the Navy's counter-terrorism unit Jalamangkara Detachment, and the Air Force's Bravo 90 Detachment.

Moeldoko said the unit would map out certain regions and carry out rehearsals on a regular basis. He also underscored the issue of terrorism was no longer a potential threat but rather a factual one.

Moeldoko officially introduced the Koopssusgab during his tenure as the TNI Commander in 2015, which was formed to quickly mobilize personnel and anticipate threats.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/11/055918354/Jokowi-Mulls-Restoring-Joint-Special-Ops-Command-to-Fight-Terrors

Prison overcrowding serves in favor of IS militants

Jakarta Post - May 10, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – According to the National Police, the prison riot that killed five officers and led to a more than 30-hour standoff between terror inmates and security forces at a detention center located in the Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Depok, West Java, was triggered by a "trivial matter".

Around 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday, a terror convict identified as Wawan Kurniawan, also known as Abu Afif, asked for a food package that had been brought by a family member. However, he was denied by a police officer who kept the food.

The detainee became upset and provoked others to protest and start a riot in Block B and C of the detention center. They broke down the walls and prison bars and proceeded to the investigators' room, where they assaulted officers who were questioning new detainees.

While it is possible that the terror inmates, mostly linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, staged the incident in a plot to attack the police, riots are not uncommon in Indonesian prisons, which are plagued by many issues, mainly overcrowding. In April 2017, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said the country had around 202,000 prisoners in January that year, while in March, the number had increased to 214,675, most of whom were drug convicts. The country's prisons and detention centers have the capacity of holding 130,000 inmates.

The more inmates, Yasonna said, the more difficult for the government to handle problems in prisons, such as sanitation, food supply and illegal levies by prison guards on visitors.

The detention center at Mako Brimob is no exception. "To be frank, the detention center suffers from overcapacity," National Police spokesman Setyo Wasisto conceded on Wednesday. "We are going to carry out an evaluation."

He did not reveal the maximum capacity of Mako Brimob's detention center, but analysts believed that problems there went beyond overcrowding.

With dozens of terrorist convicts and suspects housed at the detention center, Tuesday's deadly riot was perhaps a disaster waiting to happen.

The detention center was not designed to serve as a high-security prison to permanently house terror inmates, Asia Foundation prison expert Leopold Sudaryono said on Wednesday.

"[It is] thick enough from outside threats, but thin to threats from inside," said Leopold, a criminologist who also trains wardens at Nusakambangan in Central Java, Indonesia's most secure prison.

Before the riot on Tuesday, the detention center had a brawl in November 2017, when terrorism detainees fought police officers searching their cells for contraband, including cellphones.

"Standards for the detention of convicts who pose a high risk to security require each convict to be held in separate cells, so that they cannot interact with other inmates or prison guards. This condition is not possible in Mako Brimob's detention center," said Leopold. "That is why there were two riots [at the detention center] in just five months."

In 2007, the administration of then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono designated Mako Brimob's detention center as a temporarily holding facility for police officers who face criminal charges, making it a branch of the notoriously overcrowded Salemba detention center in Central Jakarta.

Ten years on, the detention center has housed not only police officers facing criminal trials, but also civilians detained or convicted for cases ranging from terrorism and corruption, to blasphemy.

Former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who was convicted for blasphemy in 2017, is now serving his two-year sentence at the Mako Brimob detention center, located just 4 kilometers from the University of Indonesia (UI).

When the standoff came to an end Thursday morning, the police said they would send the 155 terror convicts who had surrendered to Nusakambangan. The prison has a special block for terror convicts that currently houses 30 inmates and runs a deradicalization program.

"We are ready to accept [the rioters] because it is our duty," the office of the Coordinating Political, Law and Security Affairs Minister's director general for penitentiaries, Sri Puguh Utami, said after a Wednesday meeting of Indonesia's top security brass in Central Jakarta as quoted by kompas.com.

A revision of the Criminal Code currently being deliberated by the government and the House of Representatives mandates community service as a penalty for petty criminals, with a high-level law ministry official saying it could address the problem of overcrowded prisons.

But the only way to manage terror convicts is to strengthen the prisons in which they are being held, analysts said.

"The [standoff] shows that the management of prisons housing terror convicts cannot follow general standards, because the inmates are categorized as high-risk convicts," the chairman Jakarta-based rights group Setara Institute, Hendardi, said in a statement.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/10/prison-overcrowding-serves-in-favor-of-is-militants.html

Indonesian prison riot leaves five officers and one prisoner dead

The Guardian - May 10, 2018

Kate Lamb – Inmates who started a deadly riot controlled three cellblocks inside a maximum-security Indonesian jail for more than 36 hours before the siege ended on Thursday morning with five officers and one prisoner dead.

The riot broke out at the Mako Brimob detention facility in Depok, on the outskirts of Jakarta, on Tuesday evening and resulted in five officers being taken hostage and brutally killed. A sixth victim was a prison detainee.

Most of the officers, members of Indonesia's elite counterterrorism squad Densus 88, had their throats cut, said a police spokesman, Brig Gen Muhammad Iqbal.

After hours of negotiation and the release of one final police hostage overnight, police confirmed the siege was over on Thursday morning.

"The operation ended at 7.15am, just now," said Gen Syafruddin, deputy commissioner of police, adding there were no further casualties and all of the inmates had surrendered.

Explosions and gunfire were heard outside the prison on Thursday morning before the police announcement.

More than 150 prisoners were involved in the fatal riot, in which inmates seized dozens of guns. The riot occurred in an area reserved for suspected and convicted terrorists.

Unconfirmed grisly footage of the incident – including what were said to be images of prisoners dressed in balaclavas and brandishing guns, as well as one showing them next to a black and white Isis flag – circulated on social media and jihadist sites.

At least one prisoner reportedly broadcast the events live on Facebook and Instagram before the accounts were disabled.

Isis's Amaq media also spread the images shortly after the incident and claimed responsibility for the attack. But Indonesian police have denied any Isis link, saying the riot was sparked by a dispute over food. "The trigger is trivial, the trigger is the problem of food," Iqbal said.

Analysts have regularly highlighted how extremist ideologies can flourish inside Indonesia's notoriously overcrowded prisons. Detainees at Mako Brimob rioted last November, taking photographs of themselves next to an Isis flag.

Among its high-profile detainees is the convicted terrorist Aman Abdurrahman, Indonesia's leading Isis proponent and alleged mastermind of the 2016 Sarinah bombing.

His lawyer told Kompas.com that Abdurrahman was in another cell block and not involved in the riot, although there were reports that inmates had requested to meet him.

The prison also houses the former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, who is serving a sentence for blasphemy.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/10/indonesian-prison-riot-leaves-five-officers-and-one-prisoner-dead

'Militant' inmates kill five police in prison where Jakarta's ex

South China Morning Post - May 9, 2018

Five Indonesian police officers and a prisoner were killed in clashes at a high security jail that saw Islamist inmates take an officer hostage, authorities said Wednesday, with negotiations underway to secure his release.

The deadly riot broke out late Tuesday at the facility inside the Mobile Police Brigade headquarters in Depok on the outskirts of Jakarta.

It comes several days after the arrest of three terror suspects accused of plotting to attack the police headquarters and other facilities in the same area.

"There have been six fatalities – five of our comrades are dead and one of them also (died)," said national police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal.

"One of our officers is still being held hostage. To prevent things from getting worse, we're going to keep negotiating so we don't have to go to the last resort," he added, without elaborating.

A dispute broke out after several prisoners demanded that they be given food sent to them by their families and managed to grab some of their jailers' firearms, authorities said, adding that the secure facility was on lockdown.

Some of the prisoners involved in the clashes are Islamist militants jailed on terror-related charges, according to police. However, authorities rejected a claim from Islamic State (IS) group made through its Amaq News Agency that it was responsible for the riot.

"Those (IS) claims are not true at all," Iqbal told reporters on the scene. "The trigger (for the riot) was food, which must be checked to make sure there is not other stuff hidden inside it."

Police said they would hold a press conference later Wednesday.

Among the facility's prisoners is Aman Abdurrahman, an Islamic radical jailed for orchestrating an attack in Jakarta in 2016 that left eight people dead.

Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who was sentenced two years in prison for blasphemy after losing a re-election bid, is also held in the jail.

Abdurrahman and Purnama, better known as Ahok, are not housed in the part of the prison where the riot broke out.

Indonesia's overcrowded prisons are notorious for their poor conditions and outbreaks of violence. Two years ago, nearly 500 inmates broke out from a prison after complaining about overcrowding and extortion.

– Agence France-Presse, Reuters

Source: http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2145399/militant-inmates-kill-five-police-prison-where-jakartas-ex

Mako Brimob riot: Islamic State claims standoff with anti-terror squad

Jakarta Post - May 9, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – The Islamic State (IS) has claimed its fighters are engaged in a standoff with the nation's anti-terror squad at the National Police's Mobile Brigade headquarters' (Mako Brimob) detention center in Depok, West Java, according to an intelligence group monitoring extremists on social media.

"The East Asia Division of the Islamic State reported on the ongoing clashes inside the Depok city prison [...] and provided photos of fighters and seized weapons," SITE Intelligence Group said on its website.

A video of alleged terror convicts pledging their allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) movement and photos of seized weapons and what appeared to be the body of a dead police officer had been circulating online. The Jakarta Post was unable to verify the authenticity of the video or the photos.

Police have confirmed there was a clash between detainees and security officials at Brimob headquarters' detention center, which houses imprisoned IS militants, but denied reports of fatalities during the incident.

A top terrorism analyst has given credibility to IS' claim. "I think you can safely say that pro-ISIS Indonesians are behind [the incident]," said Sidney Jones, director of Jakarta-based Institute of Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), on Wednesday. "But they've been causing trouble for some time at [Mako Brimob]."

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto did not respond to numerous calls from the Post on Wednesday morning.

The clash at Mako Brimob detention center took place just one day after the National Police apprehended three individuals in Bogor, also in West Java, for allegedly plotting a string of attacks on police stations in three different locations across the conservative province. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/09/mako-brimob-riot-islamic-state-claims-standoff-with-anti-terror-squad.html

Foreign affairs & trade

Indonesia records US$1.63 billion trade deficit in April

Jakarta Post - May 15, 2018

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – Indonesia recorded a US$1.63 billion trade deficit in April due to an "unusual" increase in imports, particularly on capital goods, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced on Tuesday.

Exports were booked at $14.47 billion, an increase of 9.01 percent year-on-year (yoy), primarily driven by the increase in vehicles and spare parts, rubber as well as manufactured goods from iron and steel, among others. Imports, meanwhile, jumped by 34.68 percent yoy in April to $16.09 billion.

Capital goods, which accounted for 16.29 percent of imports in April, increased 40.81 percent yoy to $2.62 billion. Intermediary goods also increased 33 percent yoy to $11.96 billion over the same period.

BPS head Suhariyanto said the large increase in capital goods and raw materials imports were "unusual" as it occurred near the Ramadhan period, slated to commence in mid-May, which traditionally saw declined imports due to fewer working days in the period.

"Capital goods and raw material imports in the period near Ramadhan were unusual as usually [the producers] imported the goods at least two months earlier thanks to the holiday season [at the end of Ramadhan]," said Suhariyanto in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Indonesia booked $8.16 billion in non-oil and gas exports to China in April, while exports to the United States and Japan were recorded at $5.85 billion and $5.47 billion, respectively, over the same period.

As for the import side, Indonesia imported non-oil and gas goods worth $13.92 billion from China as of April, while imports from Japan and Thailand were recorded at $5.98 billion and $3.45 billion, respectively. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/15/indonesia-records-us1-63-billion-trade-deficit-in-april.html

Mining & energy

Indonesia pollution charge piles pressure on Freeport

Asia Times - May 9, 2018

John Mcbeth, Jakarta – Protracted contract negotiations between the Indonesian government and US-owned mining giant Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold over the fate of one of the world's most profitable mines just got a lot more difficult.

With the State Audit Agency (BPK) hitting Freeport last year with a US$13.5 billion bill for environmental damage, the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry has now told the company it must change the previously agreed way it disposes of its tailings, or rock waste from the milling process.

President Joko Widodo wants the talks, now entering a second tense year, completed by the end of June. But it is doubtful the two sides will come to an early resolution of their differences on the terms that would give Indonesia a 51% controlling interest in the Grasberg mine located in Papua's Central Highlands.

Mining analysts see the government's latest moves as an effort to pile further pressure on Freeport. The company's chief executive officer (CEO), Richard Adkerson, has called the BPK audit "outrageous" and claimed that "political motivations" lie behind the ministry's new environmental demands.

But in a sign that government agencies appear to be pulling in opposite directions, Mines and Energy Minister Jonan Ignasius, who heads the contract negotiations, is reportedly upset at how the latest developments have put new obstacles in the way of a settlement.

First issued last May without attracting much response, the BPK audit assessed damages of US$13.4 billion for Freeport dumping tailings in the forest, rivers and sea and for surface subsidence from underground mining, US$19.6 million in taxes for using protected forest and US$22.3 million in post-mining liabilities.

The Environment Ministry, for its part, has accused Freeport of numerous violations of its 1997 environmental permit, saying in an April 27 letter that the company's current production system and environmental management procedures were no longer viable.

Among the violations, it claimed, was a 174-hectare expansion of the Grasberg's open pit, an additional 600 million tons of overburden (the rock and soil overlying an ore body) and an increase in the mining capacity of the so-called Deep Ore Zone and other sub-surface preparatory work.

Without the US$7 billion Freeport has spent so far to ramp up underground production, the government would only be inheriting a yawning pit that runs out of ore this year and a tunneling network that will still take three years to come into full production.

Adkerson didn't hold back in an April 24 earnings call, insisting the ministry's demand that 95% of Freeport's tailings be retained on land – instead of the current 50% – wasn't possible. "There's no 'may' about it," he said, "it can't be done in six months, 24 months or five years."

"These (claims) were really shocking and disappointing to us," he told investors. "After 20 years, you can't simply say 'we're going to change the whole structure of what we're doing.' You can't put the genie back in the bottle. It's addressing a problem that doesn't exist."

It is not the first time Freeport has been blindsided by an issue that appeared to come out of left field. Only last month, Indonesia's Supreme Court rejected a Papuan regional government lawsuit demanding the Arizona-based company pay US$469 million in water taxes and penalties dating back to 2011.

Significantly for any future legal action, the court set a precedent by ruling that Freeport's 1991 Contract of Work (CoW), which was approved by Parliament and the president, was binding on the central and regional governments and cannot be overridden by any general law.

The BPK audit, meanwhile, was done without an on-site inspection and only in consultation with the Bogor Agriculture University, the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space and the Environment Ministry, which normally would have been expected to lead such an investigation.

But in addressing the possibility of the accrued damage assessment being used as a negotiation bargaining chip, Adkerson said Freeport did not see it as having any impact on the value of the Grasberg, the world's third largest copper mine and single largest gold reserve.

Following a framework agreement reached in August 2017, under which Freeport agreed to divest 51% of its local subsidiary, the two sides have been working on a special mining license (IUK) to conform with the 2009 Mining Law and to replace the firm's CoW, which doesn't expire until 2021.

Indonesia's first major foreign investor in the late 1960s, Freeport is seeking legal and fiscal assurances as part of securing guaranteed long-term mining rights at the Grasberg through 2041 and to maintain its ability to go to international arbitration as a last resort.

Valuation is a key issue in Jakarta's separate talks with Freeport and Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian firm which has had a participating interest in the Grasberg mine dating back to the mid-1990s when it came on board to help finance the existing underground operations.

There appears to have been little personal contact between the two negotiating teams in more than a month, though Adkerson did meet in Washington two weeks ago with visiting Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Maritime Coordinating Minister Luhut Panjaitan, whose portfolio covers mining.

Last December, in tacit acknowledgment that everyone stands to lose if mining comes to a halt due to protracted negotiations, the government extended Freeport's temporary IUPK until the end of June. Two months later, it also extended the company's export license for a further year.

But the environmental issue has added a big new wrinkle. Two decades ago, the then-government agreed that PT Freeport Indonesia could use the unnavigable Ajkwa River as a deposition area for the millions of tons of tailings swept 3,000 meters downstream from the high-altitude mine.

Hemmed in by levees protecting the lowland city of Timika to the west and the Lorenz National Park to the east, the lowland tailings area now covers 230-square kilometers and is being added to at a rate of about 60 million tons a year.

When Freeport signed its contract extension in 1991, it was agreed that an in-river deposition system was the best option to deal with the rock waste, given the danger of an earthquake triggering a catastrophic release from a purpose-built tailings dam, particularly in the highlands.

What would have been a 90-kilometer pipeline to an offshore disposal site was also ruled out because of the high cost and the shallowness of the Arafura Sea, along with the possible threat of the tailings eventually drifting in the prevailing current on to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Freeport is currently mining the final high-grade ore at the bottom of its kilometer-wide pit, before transiting to a wholly underground operation targeting five different ore bodies in the first half of 2019.

Adkerson acknowledges there is a "potential risk" the two sides will fail to meet the late June deadline and that the talks will be delayed until after next year's presidential and parliamentary elections, with Widodo favored to win a second term that would put him under less pressure than he is now.

Coinciding with a recovery in global commodity prices, Grasberg's copper output has recently increased substantially, with 311 million pounds mined in the first three months of this year, compared with 155 million pounds in same period last year, at a market rate 70 cents higher than in early 2017.

Similarly, Freeport's gold production between January and March hit 595,000 ounces, more than double the amount it mined last year over the same period, to benefit from a similar rise in gold prices from US$1,229 to US$1,312 an ounce over the past year.

Substantial progress has already been made to convert the Grasberg into what will become one of the world's largest underground mines, with a comprehensive ore flow system and the backbone of an extensive electric network expected to be completed this year.

But all that could come to a halt if the negotiations drag on. "If Freeport is unable to reach a definitive agreement on its long-term mining rights," Adkerson warned last month "it intends to reduce or defer investments significantly in its underground development and will pursue dispute resolution procedures under its contract of work."

Source: http://www.atimes.com/article/indonesia-pollution-charge-piles-pressure-on-freeport/

Economy & investment

If rupiah weakening persists, it will affect economy: Moody's

Jakarta Post - May 14, 2018

Jakarta – Moody's Investors Service has said that if the

negative exchange rate pressure persists for the rupiah, the economy will be affected.

"Current rupiah depreciation is much less than the 31.6 percent decline between May and December 2013, but if the negative exchange rate pressure is to persist, there will be implications throughout Indonesia's economy," Moody's says in a statement received on Monday.

The country had a high ratio of foreign currency debt to total general government debt of 40.1 percent at the end of 2017, it said, adding that further rupiah depreciation and rising yields would diminish debt affordability.

Indonesia's ratio of interest payments to revenue of 11.7 percent is already weaker than the 8.2 percent median for Baa-rated sovereigns, according to Moody's.

Last Tuesday, Indonesia's government bond spiked by nearly 30 basis points to 7.3 percent, but retreated to 7.2 percent at the end of the week, while the rupiah extended its decline for the third consecutive month in May, depreciating 4.1 percent since January.

It says that these market developments will have a credit-negative effect on the government's fiscal metrics and weigh on debt affordability.

"Currency depreciation raises the risk of higher imported inflation, and because the currency declines reflect outflows of portfolio capital, they may signal underlying balance-of-payment challenges through a drop in foreign-reserve buffers, it adds.

Indonesia's net debt inflows year-to-date through April have slowed to less than $1 billion from $6 billion a year earlier, the result of rising US bond yields and a stronger dollar. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/14/if-rupiah-weakening-persists-it-will-affect-economy-moodys.html

Why an emerging market rout has hit Indonesia so hard

Bloomberg - May 9, 2018

Karlis Salna – As investors flee emerging markets, Indonesia is taking a bigger knock than its peers in Asia.

The rupiah has slumped to a 28-month low against the dollar and international investors have dumped $2.2 billion of stocks and bonds since the start of April. The central bank is selling billions of dollars from its reserves to halt the rout and may be forced to raise interest rates for the first time since 2014.

1. What triggered the selloff?

The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates gradually since late 2015, but as evidence of a stronger U.S. economy and job market mounts, financial markets are starting to price in a faster pick-up in inflation and borrowing costs. U.S. 10-year Treasury yields breached the 3 percent mark for the first time in four years last month, reducing investors' appetite for assets in so-called emerging markets such as Indonesia. Part of their appeal is their relatively higher yields compared with developed markets. When that differential falls, emerging markets become less attractive.

2. Why is Indonesia being targeted?

It's one of a few Asian emerging markets that run current-account deficits (so do India and the Philippines). These economies rely on foreign inflows to finance their import needs. Foreign investors own almost 40 percent of Indonesia's government bonds, among the highest of Asian emerging markets. That makes the economy especially vulnerable to a slump in sentiment and sharp outflows. Add to that the government runs a budget deficit, meaning it needs to borrow to finance spending. Rising debt costs curb its ability to fund development projects, curtailing growth. Already the economy is somewhat lackluster, growing about 5 percent in the first quarter, well shy of the 7 percent that President Joko Widodo targeted when he came to office in 2014.

3. How badly are the currency and stocks faring?

The rupiah just broke through what for traders is a psychologically important level of 14,000 per dollar for the first time since December 2015. The Jakarta Stock Exchange Composite Index, or JCI, is down about 7 percent this year through May 9, compared with a less than 2 percent drop in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. The JCI has slumped about 12 percent from its Feb. 19 high. That was, however, a record closing price.

4. What has the central bank done to stem the rout?

Bank Indonesia has intervened in both the currency and the bond market to curb losses, draining what was a record stockpile of foreign reserves in January by about $7 billion to $125 billion in April. Officials have called for calm and talked up the economy's growth prospects as well as reminding investors about the existence of currency buffers, including at least $60 billion in bilateral swap facilities – agreements with Japan, South Korea and others – that provide a second line of defense for the rupiah. Governor Agus Martowardojo also raised the prospect of an interest-rate increase to stem the outflow and bolster the currency.

5. Will it succeed?

The central bank says the market turmoil is short term and that calm will soon be restored. But with the Fed set to continue raising interest rates and the spread between U.S. and emerging market yields narrowing, expect more currency weakness. Some investors, like Schroders Plc, see value in Indonesian assets. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is betting the central bank will bring forward rate hikes to restore confidence if the volatility continues.

6. Hasn't this happened before?

In the so-called "taper tantrum" of 2013, when the Fed first raised the idea of withdrawing stimulus, the rupiah was one of the hardest-hit currencies in Asia, dropping more than 20 percent against the dollar that year. Back then, Martowardojo was just a month into his job as central bank governor and surprised markets with an interest rate hike. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has been at pains to point out the economy is in a stronger position than it was in 2013. Indeed, Moody's Investors Service upgraded Indonesia in April citing steps taken to improve the economy's resilience to global shocks.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-09/why-an-emerging-market-rout-has-hit-indonesia-so-hard-quicktake

Weak consumption poses threat

Jakarta Post - May 8, 2018

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – The government would be wise to boost household consumption, the country's biggest economic engine, as the component has continued to show signs of a weak recovery in the first three months of the year, experts have said.

Household spending, which accounted for more than half of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Southeast Asia's largest economy, grew by 4.95 percent year-on-year (yoy) during the first quarter of 2018, a slight increase from the 4.94 percent recorded in the same period last year.

The slight increase in consumption contributed to the country's overall GDP growth, which expanded by 5.06 percent yoy in the first quarter of this year, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) stated on Monday.

The overall GDP growth was slightly higher than the 5.01 percent and 4.94 percent booked in the corresponding periods of 2017 and 2016, respectively.

The weak growth in household spending, which has remained under the psychological level of 5 percent for many months now, could be a sign of a challenging second quarter for the economy, said Gadjah Mada University (UGM) economist Tony Prasetiantono.

Aside from stagnant consumption, Tony said there was fear of ongoing rupiah depreciation, which could exert pressure on inflation and the government's fuel subsidy budget.

"Fiscal conditions will be under pressure; I think the targeted 5.4 percent [in GDP growth this year] will be difficult to achieve and 5.3 percent is more realistic," he said on Monday, adding that maintaining a positive trend was of the utmost importance for the government.

The government set a GDP growth target at 5.4 percent this year as outlined in the 2018 state budget, higher than the 5.2 percent targeted in 2017.

The weak growth in household consumption, which traditionally expands by more than 5 percent, was primarily caused by a shift in the country's harvest season from the first quarter to the second, said Bank Permata economist Josua Pardede.

"[The Islamic festivity of] Idul Fitri will come [in June] so we hope consumption will increase in the second quarter from the first one," Josua said.

Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution previously said that because the harvest period might not be seen until the second quarter of this year, economic growth in the first three months might be slower than in the same period last year, when harvesting began in March.

The projection of a shift in the harvest period was partly caused by an upgrade in the digital data gathered by the BPS through a satellite imaging system, which was launched to help increase accuracy and reduce margins of error.

The change in harvest time could impact the overall economic growth calculation as the agriculture sector was the second-highest contributor to the GDP in the first quarter of 2018 with a 13.26 percent share, BPS data shows.

Darmin said on Monday that the era of high consumption was over and called for the country to instead focus on boosting investment and exports.

Growth in investment might have indeed saved the day as the component, the second-largest contributor to the GDP after consumption, grew by 7.95 percent yoy during the first quarter this year, almost double the 4.77 percent yoy seen in the same period of 2017.

The investment figure was also better than the 7.27 percent yoy growth booked during the fourth quarter of 2017.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati stressed Monday that the government would continue developing programs to boost investment and exports.

The increase in investment is projected to continue triggering imports, which grew by 12.75 percent yoy in the first quarter this year, far exceeding the 4.81 percent booked during the same period in 2017.

"In the medium term, an increase in investment will absorb workforce, increase purchasing power and, eventually, jack up economic growth," said Tony of UGM.

Yose Rizal Damuri, the head of the economic department at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said a bigger investment amount would encourage higher household consumption and, eventually, overall economic growth in the long run.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/08/weak-consumption-poses-threat.html

Banking & finance

Selloff in Indonesia currency, bonds deepen before rate decision

Bloomberg - May 15, 2018

Harry Suhartono – Indonesian currency tumbled to a 31-month low and bonds fell for a second day as foreign investors dumped the nation's assets after a spike in benchmark U.S. yields. Stocks snapped a two-day decline.

The rupiah slumped to as low as 14,114 to a dollar, the weakest level since October 2015, before closing at 14,093, while the yield on benchmark 10-year government bonds rose 12 basis points to 7.217 percent. The benchmark Jakarta Composite Index ended 0.1 percent higher, reversing a 1.7 percent intraday decline.

A fresh wave of risk aversion is spreading across Asia as investors grapple with rising Treasury yields and a strong dollar amid lingering trade, growth and geopolitical worries. That's adding pressure on Bank Indonesia to increase interest rates on Thursday as it seeks to stem the sell-off that's made the nation's currency and stocks among the worst performers in Asia. A series of terror attacks this week have further soared investor sentiment.

"Investor sentiment has been weak to begin with, and now we've got this series of bomb attacks and various reports of other terror scare. All of these have raised the uncertainties on Indonesian market further," said John Teja, a director at PT Ciptadana Sekuritas Asia. "The rupiah is also weakening. At this point I don't see any positive catalyst that can reverse the trend."

A series of terror attacks rocked Indonesia this week, killing at least 26 people, including a total of 13 militants and their children, according to the Associated Press. The police shot dead four sword-wielding men who attacked a police headquarters in Sumatra province on Wednesday, which also killed a police officer, the agency reported. Foreign Outflows

Foreign investors are net sellers of about $2.9 billion of Indonesian stocks this year, turning the nation's equities into the worst performer in Asia. Net outflows from rupiah bonds have totaled $2.3 billion since the end of March, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The benchmark Indonesian stock index has dropped 8.1 percent this year, hitting its lowest level since June last week. The decline may be spurring some investors to return to the market, said Jahanzeb Naseer, head of research for Credit Suisse Group in Jakarta.

"Some local institutional funds and long-term investors started buying Indonesian stocks from yesterday," Naseer said. "The expectation for a rate increase tomorrow helps the sentiment and markets responded positively to that."

The selloff also spread to dollar bonds from Indonesian issuers after the nation posted the biggest trade deficit in four years on Tuesday, fueling speculation the local currency will weaken further and push up servicing costs on international debt.

"Indonesia's trade deficit number yesterday was much weaker than expected and the rupiah reacted to that," said Bharat Shettigar, head of Asia ex-China corporate credit research at Standard Chartered Bank. "That places pressure on the central bank to hike rates in tomorrow's policy meeting."

– With assistance by Denise Wee

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-16/rout-in-indonesian-markets-worsens-before-central-bank-decision

Foreign exchange reserves slid to US$124.9 billion in April

Jakarta Post - May 8, 2018

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – Indonesia's foreign exchange reserves stood at US$124.9 billion in April, lower than the $126 billion recorded a month earlier, Bank Indonesia (BI) announced on Tuesday as it continued to intervene in the market to stabilize the rupiah against a stronger United States dollar.

"The decline in foreign exchange reserves in April 2018 was mainly due to the use of foreign currencies to pay the government's foreign debt and the stabilization of the rupiah exchange rate amid global financial market uncertainty, which remains high," BI said in a statement on its website.

According to BI, the current level of reserves remains adequate to finance 7.7 months of imports or 7.4 months of imports and the government's foreign debt payments. The level was well above the international adequacy standards of around three months of imports.

"The foreign exchange reserves are able to support the strength of [the country's] external sector as well as maintain macroeconomic and financial system stability," BI spokesperson Agusman said in the statement.

Going forward, the central bank believes the foreign exchange reserves will still be able to withstand external shocks as the country's economic outlook and export performance remain positive. (gda)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/08/foreign-exchange-reserves-slid-to-us124-9-billion-in-april.html

Taxation & state budget

Government wins petition on access to financial information

Jakarta Post - May 9, 2018

Jakarta – The Constitutional Court rejected on Wednesday a petition against Law No. 9/2017 on access to financial information for taxation purposes. The court maintained the Taxation Directorate General's right to access to information on bank accounts.

The petition was submitted by Fernando Manulang, a lecturer at the University of Indonesia.

"The court rules that the plaintiff's arguments are all baseless, according to the law. Therefore, the court rejects the plaintiff's demand," said the presiding judge, Anwar Usman, when reading out the verdict in Jakarta on Wednesday as reported by kontan.co.id.

One member of the panel of judges, Maria Farida Indrati, said the plaintiff's argument that Law No. 9/2017 contravened Article 1, Paragraph 29 of Law No 28/2007 on the general taxation system could not be accepted because the two laws had different scopes.

Maria said Law No. 9/2017 was aimed at fulfilling a requirement for access to financial information in international taxation treaties that the government had signed with other countries.

Meanwhile, Saldi Isra, another judge, said the plaintiff's argument that the Taxation Directorate General did not have the right to access information on bank customers' accounts also did not have a legal basis.

Saldi said the right was stipulated in Financial Ministry Regulation No. 212/PMK.01/2017 on the organization and working procedures of the Financial Ministry.

"Article 2 of Law No. 9/2017 is in line with the duties of the Taxation Directorate General to implement its function in the taxation sector," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/09/government-wins-petition-on-access-to-financial-information.html

Analysis & opinion

Is Indonesia's Widodo soft on security?

Asia Times - May 15, 2018

Erin Cook, Jakarta – As answers slowly come to light about the families behind the terror attacks in Indonesia's second city of Surabaya and nearby Sidoarjo, questions are already being raised about President Joko Widodo's government's ability to prevent and protect against a new burst of Islamic terrorism to a degree not seen since the 2000s.

Long-running negotiations to revise existing anti-terrorism laws and perceptions that the government is "soft" on matters of national security threaten to derail the widespread support Widodo has so far enjoyed ahead of next April's presidential elections.

Women and children's involvement in the weekend suicide bombings has set a startling new precedent in Indonesia, where the families of jihadists are typically confined to more traditional gender roles and are rarely involved in terror attacks.

Security analysts had previously warned the nature of Southeast Asia's terror cells was changing through a rise in the involvement of women. The use of whole family units, meanwhile, guarantees a propaganda coup for terror outfits like Islamic State through wider, more sensational media coverage.

But the trend will also make it more difficult for intelligence agencies to identify potential sources of extremist violence, with reports emerging of the recently involved families being insular and unengaged in their local community.

Typically, Islamic State-aligned cells in Indonesia target police sites, as seen in last week's Depok prison riot and earlier suicide bombings. But the targeting of churches on the weekend marks a throwback to the 2000s when terror groups were far more interested in targeting Western soft and hard targets, and stoking religious sectarianism.

The surprise departure in modus operandi and ambition brought the country to a stand-still on Sunday as the death toll climbed. As the smoke cleared the attacks were the most deadly in a decade, with at least 25 killed.

Widodo arrived in Surabaya on Sunday afternoon, heading immediately to the blast sites and then on to visit survivors at the Dr Soetomo Hospital. From there he called for all Indonesians to remain calm but vigilant and promised authorities would investigate extensively.

"This is a crime against humanity, irrelevant to any religion. The perpetrators even used a 10-year-old as a suicide bomber," he said, underlining the country's shock at the brutality of the family-oriented attack.

He pledged government support for medical costs, an issue survivor groups have long accused successive governments of ignoring.

Opposition forces are already circling, sensing an opportunity to capitalize on the incident. Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives – and perpetual thorn in Widodo's side – Fadli Zon – blamed 'weak leadership' in a series of tweets offering support to victims and criticisms following the attacks.

The comments prompted heavy condemnation online, where netizens accused the Gerindra Party co-founder of exploiting tragedy for personal and political gain. In the lead-up to the 2019 elections, Fadli's comments show few issues will be off-limits on the campaign trail.

"It is right to expect that there will certainly be some rough politics during the campaign, and partisans like Fadi Zon will be willing to go as low as it takes, including such attempts to politicize a tragedy like this," Matthew Busch, an Indonesia-focused research fellow at the Lowy Institute think tank, told Asia Times.

But, Busch notes, linking governance to terrorism is a departure from what most expect from Fadli's tactics, which focus largely on identity politics and dividing electorates along religious and ethnic lines. Whether the departure will work, however, is another question.

"Ultimately this oblique critique of leadership through a terrorist attack seems unlikely to resonate, as many Indonesians are likely to be shocked by the attacks and turned off by attempts to politicize them," Busch said.

There are other avenues, however, to challenge Widodo on his security bona fides while not alienating the electorate – namely, revisions to the 2003 Anti-Terrorism law. In the immediate aftermath of the first attacks on Sunday, pro-government lawmakers revived discussions about the law, saying it should and would become a priority.

Revisions were tabled following the so-called Thamrin terror attack in Central Jakarta in January 2016, where Islamic State-linked militants, including two suicide bombers, set off multiple explosions and shot guns near the Sarinah shopping mall in central Jakarta.

Amendments aimed at stiffening the law's security provisions, however, quickly bogged down at the committee stage over rights concerns, as lawmakers jousted over proposals to extend detention without charge periods from seven to 30 days and lengthen allowable prison terms for terror-related convictions.

Recommendations to establish a supervisory body to monitor counterterrorism agencies, including the elite police unit Detachment 88, drew the ire of police who argued the move would be costly and ineffective – an argument which threatened to put the police offside of the government.

Now, with investigators and intelligence agencies scrambling to resolve and understand the weekend's terror attacks, some are questioning whether the proposed but not enacted revisions to the terror law would have helped to prevent the attacks.

The debate will inevitably be more political than academic, however. Judith Jacob, a security and terrorism analyst, for one, says it is always if not impossible difficult to measure the impact of counterterrorism laws in forestalling attacks.

"The academic consensus says there is no evidence to support that increasing severity of punishments decreases acts of terrorism, which is not to say these laws don't serve other functions, such as signaling the government is doing something," she says.

Widodo seems aware of the importance of such signaling, particularly in the aftermath of an attack. On Monday, he said that if the House of Representatives cannot agree on revisions to the law during this month's session, then he will unilaterally issue a Perppu, a regulation in lieu of law issued in times of emergency.

While Widodo is seen as comparatively weak on issues of security vis-a-vis his more military-aligned opponents, including presidential challenger and former soldier Prabowo Subianto, it's not clear yet the attacks and his response will significantly dent his re-election chances.

"[Widodo] is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't," says academic Jacob, noting that balancing the demands of the electorate and limitations of counterterrorism laws is a tough task all over the world.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/article/is-indonesias-widodo-soft-on-security/

Behind the rise of blasphemy cases in Indonesia

The Conversation - May 14, 2018

Rafiqa Qurrata A'yun – Since becoming a democracy that supports freedom of speech, Indonesia, ironically, has seen an increase in people being jailed for blasphemy. This article aims to explain the reasons for this since the end of the Soeharto era.

The recent situation

Under Soeharto's 32-year authoritarian rule, Indonesia processed only ten blasphemy cases. The number jumped to 130 cases between 1998 and 2012 after Soeharto's dictatorship ended in 1998.

This trend continues. In 2017, the nation witnessed a high-profile blasphemy case involving Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Chinese Christian who was a strong contender to be elected Jakarta governor that year. Ahok was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison for defaming Islam with his remarks.

The man who helped send Ahok to prison by sharing on social media the edited version of Ahok's controversial comments, Buni Yani, faced hate speech charges. He was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison.

After Ahok and Buni Yani, similar cases emerged. The recent ones involved Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's first president Soekarno, academics Ade Armando and Rocky Gerung, as well as senior politician Amien Rais.

The number of blasphemy cases is expected to rise ahead of the 2019 presidential election. Some argue that the increase is due to rising intolerance and Islamic radicalism.

Others claim that the cases represent an incomplete secularisation in Indonesia, where religion is still regarded as an important aspect in public space. While such views cannot be ignored, it is important to put this issue in a much broader political setting.

I looked at the patterns of the use of blasphemy law since its issuance in 1965 until now. I argue that the rise of blasphemy cases is happening due to a political situation within Indonesia that is predatory in nature.

The historical patterns

Soekarno's era

The blasphemy law has always been political. President Soekarno issued a presidential decree in 1965 to complement the blasphemy article in Indonesia's Criminal Code. The decree was issued to secure support from Islamic parties following a "unilateral action" by Soekarno's main ally to that point, the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Under the action, the Communist Party seized lands belonging to Muslim landlords.

Soekarno issued the regulation to appease Islamic groups. The law prohibited "deviant interpretations" of religious teachings that were strongly affiliated with Communist Party.

Soeharto's era

In 1968, during the early years of Soeharto's administration, the first blasphemy trial was held. Prominent writer H.B. Jassin was found guilty for the publication of a short story that not only contained an inappropriate portrayal of God but also criticised Soekarno. Soeharto, however, didn't raise the case to support Soekarno. He was responding to pressure from Muslim groups and hoping to gain their support.

After that the law went into hiatus for more than 20 years.

Then in the early 1990s, Soeharto began using the blasphemy law as a tool to maintain his political power. This was at a time when Soeharto's political-economic alliance faced frictions, particularly with the military. This internal conflict encouraged Soeharto to seek support from Muslim groups that had previously been the target of constant state repression.

Soeharto's political strategy explains the jump in the number of blasphemy cases to ten cases during his presidency. Soeharto used these cases to gain support from conservative Muslims and to suppress his political opponents.

This was evident in a blasphemy case in Situbondo, East Java, before the 1997 general election. A 28-year-old man was found guilty of defaming Islam and sent to prison for five years. Some reports recorded that the public's dissatisfaction with the verdict triggered riots that killed five people.

Some speculate that it was Soeharto's strategy to undermine the power of the country's largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), at one of its supporters' bases in Situbondo. NU was the main supporter of the United Development Party (PPP), a leading competitor with Suharto's party, Golkar.

What are predatory politics

Indonesian democracy has been tainted by predatory practices, where politicians will use whatever means they can to defeat their rivals. Their strategies include using money, violence, religion and ethnicity to secure public support.

These practices are a legacy of the New Order political regime. The New Order's depoliticising policy and banishment of the Left, as seen in the massacre of communists, disorganised society. This contributed to the absence of organised political movements that prioritise public interests.

Given the nature of politics that encourages political actors to use the law to secure votes, it will be no surprise if the number of blasphemy cases continues to increase.

Rising piety

Australian scholar Melissa Crouch has claimed that the small number of blasphemy cases before the reform era was due to Soeharto's effective control of public expression. But it's simplistic to say that the jump in the number of blasphemy cases is because Soeharto no longer ruled.

The number of blasphemy cases has occurred against a background of rising piety in Indonesian society. At the same time, Muslim conservative groups can't organise themselves as a coherent political force.

Politicians see this as an opportunity to mobilise Muslims to support their political interests. Using the blasphemy law is one of the strategies politicians use to mobilise conservative Muslims' support by raising religious sentiments or prosecuting their political opponents.

For example, many local political leaders promote the issuance of sharia bylaws to repress minority groups, such as Ahmadiyya, as part of their strategies to secure votes from conservative Muslims in regional elections.

The recent blasphemy and religious hate speech cases also show how politics play an important role in shaping them. Many of the people who have reported such offences are affiliated with political parties competing in the upcoming 2019 election.

The charges and counter-charges between political rivals have become rampant, as seen before in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

Impossible to revoke

Hence, the increase in blasphemy cases is neither a result of rising intolerance and Islamic radicalism in society nor a phenomenon typical of a non-secular state.

Predatory politics that force politicians to seek power by using religious issues for their own interests play a part in the rise of blasphemy cases.

The blasphemy law opens the door for politicians to gain power by capitalising on religious sentiments and the public's rage that polarise society. As long as Indonesia's blasphemy law serves the interest of political elites, it is impossible to revoke this law.

[Rafiqa Qurrata A'yun is a lecturer at the Department of Criminal Law, Faculty of Law, Universitas Indonesia.]

Source: http://theconversation.com/behind-the-rise-of-blasphemy-cases-in-indonesia-95214

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