Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners
Widodo has pledged to bring reform to Indonesia

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pleaded to Indonesia to stop the execution of prisoners on death row for drug crimes. AFP PHOTO

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person
The pope wrote that the principle of legitimate personal defense isn’t adequate justification to execute someone. Photograph: Zuma/Rex

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison   (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)
US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)
Woman who spent 23 years on US death row cleared (Photo: dpa)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

National Paralympics Week Kicks Off in Bandung

Jakarta Globe, Amal Ganesha, October 17, 2016

The official opening ceremony of the 15th National Paralympics Week
 (Peparnas XV) took place in Bandung, West Java, on Saturday (15/10)
 (Photo courtesy of Sports Ministry)

Jakarta. The official opening ceremony of the 15th National Paralympics Week, or Peparnas XV, took place in Bandung, West Java, on Saturday (15/10).

The event is a complementary part of the 19th National Sports Week (PON XIX), which was hosted by the city last month.

"We treat athletes with disabilities equally — they also promoted Indonesia during the Rio 2016 Paralympics and brought home a bronze medal," Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi said during the opening ceremony at Bandung's Siliwangi Stadium.

"The government provides incentives and bonuses to both Paralympic and Olympic athletes," he added.

West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan, as chairman of Peparnas, wants to ensure the legacy of the national sporting event during his leadership.

"We expect this year's Peparnas to be the best event of its kind," he said, as quoted on the Sports Ministry's official website.

The event will see competitions in 13 sport disciplines, with 2,000 athletes from 32 provinces competing for 2,737 medals. The closing ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 24.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Jokowi Allows Legal Process on Missing Documents of Munir’s Case

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has allowed a legal process to be conducted
against the missing investigation documents related to the murder of prominent
human rights defender Munir Said Thalib. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

Jakarta. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has allowed a legal process to be conducted against the missing investigation documents related to the murder of prominent human rights defender Munir Said Thalib.

The missing documents had been submitted to former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the State Palace in 2005.

“If there is a new novum [existing evidence before a trial process], conduct the legal process,” Jokowi said at Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, Thursday (13/10).

The president also ordered a search for the missing documents submitted by the original fact-finding team on Munir’s case.

“I have ordered the Attorney General [HM Prasetyo] to find and locate the results of the fact-finding team, as it is not available at the State Secretary Ministry,” Jokowi added.

Previously, the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) Haris Azhar urged the government to investigate the whereabouts of the documents.

Related Articles:

Activists Don Animal Costumes to Protest Jatinegara Wildlife Market

Jakarta Globe, Ratri M. Siniwi, October 14, 2016

Activists from Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group wore animal costumes
 to protest at the Jakarta City Hall on Thursday (13/10), calling on Jakarta
Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama to shut down the Jatinegara wildlife
market in the eastern part of the capital. (Photo courtesy of Scorpion
Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group)

Jakarta. Activists from Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group, a local animal welfare organization, wore animal costumes to protest at the Jakarta City Hall on Thursday (13/10), calling on governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to shut down the Jatinegara wildlife market in the eastern part of the capital.

"Every day, we see acts of cruelty against animals, they are locked up in small cages without water. Some of them are protected species," the group's senior investigator, Marison Guciano, told

According to Scorpion's investigation from September, approximately 2,300 illegally trafficked animals were available for sale at the Jatinegara market, 2,000 of them birds. The rest were long-tailed macaques, civets, turtles and snakes.

The governor said he was unaware of the report.

"I have not received the report, but [illegal wildlife trade] is certainly prohibited," Ahok told

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pope opens private summer apartments to tourists

Yahoo – AFP, October 14, 2016

The papal rooms at Castel Gandolfo, a former summer favourite with popes
 hoping to escape the heat of the capital, have been turned into a museum which
will be officially inaugurated on October 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Vincenzo Pinto)

Vatican City (AFP) - Who needs a summer palace? Not Pope Francis, who has renounced the delights of Castel Gandolfo outside Rome and opened his private apartments to tourists, the Vatican said Friday.

The Argentine has refused the traditional trappings of the papacy from the start, declining to move into the sumptuous papal apartment in the Vatican and plumping instead to live in a hotel inside the tiny city state.

His rooms at Castel Gandolfo, a former summer favourite with popes hoping to escape the heat of the capital, have been turned into a museum which will be officially inaugurated on October 21.

Francis has visited the palace some 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Rome only a couple of times since his election in 2013, and has never spent the night there.

His predecessors John Paul II (1978-2005) and Benedict (2005-2013) often stayed at the site, which has been owned by the Holy See since 1596 and has expanded over the centuries to now sprawl over 55 hectares (135 acres).

Francis opened the estate's gardens to the public in 2014, with tours organised for groups and by reservation only.

Since last year, tourists have also been able to climb aboard a special white train for an express trip to the lavish estate and a tour of the papal villa, including past the pope's organic farm, which houses cows, free-range hens, cockerels and pontifical bees.

Related Article:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Seven Nobel Laureates to Visit Indonesia in 2017

Jakarta Globe, Edo Karensa, October 12, 2016

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, second from left, along with International Peace
 Foundation chairman Uwe Morawetz, third from left, in Jakarta on Wednesday
(12/10). (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

Jakarta. Seven Nobel laureates, who have been recognized for their contributions in the fields of chemistry, physics, literature, peace and medicine, are scheduled to visit Indonesia between January and March next year for a series of events.

The theme of the "Bridges – Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace" event series, initiated by the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation, will be "building a culture of peace and development in a globalized world."

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who is honorary chairman of the event in Indonesia, said it will set a good example for dialogue between East and West.

"The event is called 'dialogues,' so it is not like a lecture. We will hear the perspectives of the Nobel laureates," Kalla told reporters during a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday (12/10).

International Peace Foundation founding chairman Uwe Morawetz, said the aim of the events is to facilitate and strengthen dialogue and communication between societies in Southeast Asia with their multiple cultures and religions to promote mutual understanding and trust.

"The events will build bridges between Nobel laureates, local universities and other institutions in Southeast Asia to establish long-term relationships, which may result in common research in the future," Morawetz said.

The topics will cover a wide range of issues in politics, economics, science, culture and the media, which highlights the challenges and impact of both globalism and regionalism.

Among the speakers who will visit Indonesia are economics laureate professor Eric S. Maskin, European Commission president Jose Manuel Baroso, physics laureate professor Sheldon L. Glashow, medicine laureate Sir Richard J. Roberts, economics laureate Robert F. Engle III, physics laureate Jerome I. Friedman and chemistry laureate Peter Agre.

The series will be staged in cooperation with the University of Indonesia, the Jakarta State University, Atma Jaya Catholic University, Binus School Simprug, Binus University, Ipeka Integrated School and Prasetya Mulia University in the greater Jakarta area; the Bandung Institute of Technology and Airlangga University in Bandung, West Java; Ubaya University in Surabaya, East Java; and Udayana University in Bali.

Members of the general public will be able to attend the events free of charge.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

State Secretariat Denies It Was Ordered to Disclose Results of Munir Murder Probe

Jakarta Globe, Alin Almanar, October 11, 2016

The State Secretariat has denied that it has been ordered by public information
 commissioners to disclose results of an investigation conducted years ago into
the murder of human rights defender Munir Said Thalib. (Antara Photo/
Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Jakarta. The State Secretariat has denied that it has been ordered by public information commissioners to disclose results of an investigation conducted years ago into the murder of human rights defender Munir Said Thalib.

A verdict, issued on Tuesday (11/10) by the commissioners, orders the secretariat to reveal documents of the investigation to the public. It was conducted over half a year starting in December 2004, when a fact-finding team was established.

The secretariat issued an official statement on Tuesday saying that "media reports that the State Secretariat has been ordered to announce investigation results from the fact-finding team are not true."

The statement said the commissioners only ordered the secretariat to "announce information, which basically says that the State Secretariat does not have, posses, or know the whereabouts of the questioned documents."

"It is in accordance with the facts and evidence in the consideration of the Public Information Commission members," secretariat spokesman Masrokhan said in the statement.

"It is impossible for the State Secretariat to announce reports it does not possess."

Monday's decision came in favor a complaint filed by several human rights groups. They have long urged a resolution of the case involving the murder of Munir, who was poisoned with arsenic during a layover in Singapore in September 2004 before boarding a flight to Amsterdam.

The alleged masterminds behind the incident have yet to be identified, with investigation results from the fact-finding team never having been disclosed. They were submitted to then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in June 2005 and the team was subsequently dissolved.

Related Article:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Transgender Indonesians bear brunt of rising intolerance

Yahoo – AFP, Olivia Rondonuwu, October 9, 2016

Participants take part in a study group at Indonesia's only Islamic transgender
boarding school -- Al Fatah (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)

Yogyakarta (Indonesia) (AFP) - A handful of Muslim transgender women wash their faces, put on white robes and begin to pray, an act of quiet defiance after their study centre in Indonesia was shut by hardliners.

Al Fatah, which claimed to be the world's only Islamic boarding school for transgender students, was long regarded as a symbol of the tolerant brand of Islam widely practised in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

But several months ago, amid a sudden backlash against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, a local hardline group called Islamic Jihad Front forced the school to close.

Despite the risk of retaliation, a small group of former students continue to quietly gather at the school building in the city of Yogyakarta every week to pray and study Islam.

"We want to prove that Islam accepts transgenders, that Islam is a blessing for all mankind," Shinta Ratri, the leader of the prayer group, told AFP.

The closing of the school, which was founded in 2008, is one of the most visible signs of an alarming wave of intolerance sweeping across Yogyakarta -- the country's cultural heartland which had long been regarded as an open-minded, accepting city.

In recent times Islamic hardliners have halted a festival focusing on women's issues and have targeted the Christian minority, seeking to close down churches and stop their community work.

Local police have sometimes been accused of standing back and letting hardliners carry out acts of intolerance, or even of working with them to do so.

Participants prepare to take part in a prayer session at Indonesia's only Islamic
transgender boarding school (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)

'Unity in diversity'

"Unfortunately in recent years, intolerant groups have been imposing their rigid beliefs on people," said Agnes Dwi Rusjiyati, the local coordinator of activist group Bhinneka Tunggal Ika National Alliance.

Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, Indonesia's national motto, means "Unity in Diversity", and is intended to show that the vast archipelago takes strength from the myriad different ethnic, cultural and religious groups living within its borders.

But there has been a growing pushback against this long-cherished belief.

Observers say the trend in Yogyakarta is an acute example of creeping conservatism across the country, that has targeted everything from the gay community, to drinking alcohol and pornography.

The Indonesian constitution officially recognises six different religions. Most of its 255 million inhabitants practise a moderate form of Islam, often infused with influences from local ethnic groups, and no one believes the country is likely to be transformed into a state ruled by sharia law.

But critics say the influence of fringe hardline groups, and the authorities' unwillingness to tackle them for fear of being labelled anti-Islamic, has fuelled a dangerous increase in intolerance.

The targeting of the transgender community around Yogyakarta, who were previously allowed, by and large, to quietly get on with their lives, stands out as an example of this disturbing trend.

The Al Fatah school, sitting in a labyrinth of alleyways in the historic Kotagede district of Yogyakarta, is a converted house with a main room that has been turned into a place for praying and reciting the Koran.

Three preachers continue to teach about a dozen out of the 42 former students who head there every week since its closure in February.

Shinta Ratri (C), the headmistress of Indonesia's only Islamic transgender 
boarding school, hosts a study group (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)

'Part of God's creation'

“It's so difficult for these transgenders to pray in the mosque because of the stigma," Arif Nuh Safri, a 32-year-old preacher, told AFP.

"So when I came to this school the first thing I told them is they have the right to pray, because they are part of God's creation."

Prior to the closure there had been little sign of resistance to the school in the surrounding area.

"They want to learn to recite the Koran, they want to be good people, and that's better than drinking," said one neighbour, Aris Sutanto.

But Abdurahman, the leader of Islamic Jihad Front, was unapologetic.

Abdurrahman, from local hardline group
 Islamic Jihad Front, which is leading
 the crackdown on Indonesia's only Islamic 
transgender boarding school (AFP Photo/
Goh Chai Hin)
"We can't be tolerant towards something that is bad," he said, adding that the hardliners always coordinated with police before taking actions against activities they considered immoral.

Police insisted Yogyakarta was still a tolerant city and said they had only taken action against events when there were objections from people in local neighbourhoods.

Cases of intolerance have escalated in Yogyakarta since 2011, when hardliners began targeting churches. But there has been a sharp increase in recent times as Islamic groups have grown bolder.

In an alarming episode in April, Islamic hardliners and police together allegedly stopped a women's arts festival from going ahead, with organisers claiming they were verbally harassed and some attendees briefly detained by authorities.

The trend has sparked concern among the large community of local artists, who have expressed their frustration in graffiti that questions whether Yogyakarta is still an accepting place, such as: "City of tolerance?".

Ahmad Suaedy, a researcher on Islam appointed by the government as an ombudsman on religious and cultural issues, said the authorities' failure to stop acts of intolerance was causing minorities to suffer.

"This is a political strategy of politicians so they can be seen as taking the middle ground," he said. "But it is at the expense of minority groups."

Related Article:

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Rights Group Urges Govt to Include Death Penalty Moratorium in Law Reform Package

Jakarta Globe, Alin Almanar, October 08, 2016

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) has urged the Indonesian
government to include a moratorium on the death penalty in a law reform
package expected to be released this month. (Antara Photo/Widodo S. Jusuf)

Jakarta. A legal rights group has urged the Indonesian government to include a moratorium on the death penalty in a law reform package expected to be released this month.

The government is currently preparing the package, which officials have said would focus on improving legal instruments, law enforcement institutions and legal culture.

The government could begin reforming the country's legal system by imposing a moratorium on the death penalty, the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) said.

"As the most severe form of punishment, the imposition of the death penalty must comply with much highest standards," ICJR executive director Supriyadi Eddyono said on Friday (07/10).

In its call for the moratorium, the Jakarta-based group cited unfair trials, a problem it said has been rampant in cases that resulted in the imposition of the death penalty.

"Proper legal procedures, strong evidence and effective legal assistance must all be guaranteed," Supriyadi said. "Based on the rampant problems in our criminal justice system, it is already appropriate for the government to examine the matter of the death penalty before it releases the law reform package."

Having declared a state of emergency over the high rate of drug abuse in the country, the government has pressed ahead with the execution of death-row inmates, especially those convicted of drug offenses.

The government executed four inmates by firing squad in a third round of executions three months ago. Fourteen other drug convicts were executed last year, some of them foreign nationals.

Amid a national and international outcry, the Indonesian government has repeatedly called on other countries to respect its legal system.

L'Oréal Campaigns for Gender Equality in Science With #ChangeTheNumbers

Jakarta Globe, Devina Halim & Ratri M. Siniwi, October 08, 2016

In view of the fact that only 30 percent of researchers in the world are women,
 international beauty care company L'Oréal launched a global campaign titled
#ChangeTheNumbers in an effort to address the issue. (JG Photo/ Megan Herndon)

Jakarta. International beauty care company L'Oréal has launched a global campaign titled #ChangeTheNumbers in an effort to remedy the fact that only 30 percent of scientific researchers in the world are women.

The campaign manifesto lists several points considered essential in empowering younger women to develop careers in science and ensuring that there is equal opportunity and exposure for them in the field.

"L'Oréal believes the world needs science and science needs women. The purpose of this global campaign is to change the public perspective of women in science and to attract more women to choose becoming researchers," L'Oréal Indonesia head of communications Melanie Masriel said on Thursday (06/10).

Two inspiring Indonesian female researchers were invited to speak during a discussion about the lack of women in science, hosted by the company.

Ines Atmosukarto, chief executive and managing director of Australian vaccine research and development firm Lipotek Canberra, and Fenny M. Dwivany, associate professor in molecular biology at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), both mothers and recipients of the L'Oréal-Unesco for Women in Science International Fellowship in 2004 and 2007, respectively.

The two women said being a researcher is not for the weak, but that the hard work pays off with great rewards.

"We want to open the eyes of the younger generation to show that there are lots of rewards for being a researcher, so it's not only about the challenges," Ines said.

One of the rewards, she added, was the opportunity to see the world and being exposed to different cultures while studying or attending forums, and the ability of also providing that to her children.

"We can open the minds of our next generation to see the world and question everything and become more curious and creative," Ines said.

By doing so, she believes future generations would be able to help Indonesia move towards its goal of becoming a developed manufacturing country.

In terms of challenges, Fenny said researchers in Indonesia mostly face problems in infrastructure and funding.

"Indonesia is such a biodiverse country and as a biologist, it's sad to see these problems. But if we're not the ones researching this, then who will?" the associate professor said.

According to Fenny, being a researcher helps women to become more perseverant, detail-oriented and tough, especially with the ability to multitask as mothers and researchers.

"We have an advantage of having a different point of view from a male perspective, which could help fill the gap," she added.

While society still judges them against the norm of women having to be stay-at-home mothers, they accredit their support systems for being understanding and helping them break through that barrier while accomplishing their goals.

"I think we were both fortunate enough to have support systems that encouraged us to further our research and education. And I believe that having a support system is essential for researchers," Ines said.

Other than having great support systems, both women said the key to being successful in this field is to be constantly curios, while satisfaction is something dangerous in research.

"To be a scientist you must have fire in your belly, because research is all about working with failures and that should be the fuel to keep you going," Ines said.

The women believe that despite the difficulties, Indonesian girls should not be afraid of pursuing their dreams of becoming scientists.

"There is a culture in our society that makes us afraid of challenges. The potential in Indonesia is high, but there are not enough opportunities," Fenny said.

According to her, there are many Indonesian researchers studying abroad, but coming home is the challenge.

"When we as researchers return to Indonesia, we don't have fields to work in. We can't go home because there are not enough job opportunities," she added.

Ines, on the other hand, suggested that the government must provide incentives for businesses to develop research and development units to support innovation in the country, and in turn, create more job opportunities.

All parties involved must work together in order to increase the number of female researchers and promote gender equality in science across the globe.

"What we have now, our lifestyle, is the result of research done before. The regeneration [of science] is important to create innovations for the sake of posterity," Ines said.

She also believes that Indonesia needs to move away from a male-focused perspective, which should be taught to children from a young age.

"We need to empower young girls to make them believe that they are just as capable as boys – we have to break through the glass ceiling," she said.

Another way this could be changed, Fenny added, is through celebrating the accomplishments of what female scientists have achieved, rather than the constant focus on celebrities.

Related Article:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Calls Reemerge for Govt to Take Cultural Approach to Human Rights Issues in Papua

Jakarta Globe, Alin Almanar, October 06, 2016

Villagers of Mamit, a remote village located in mountainous area in Tolikara
district, Papua. (JG Photo/Donny Andhika Mononimbar)

Jakarta. Calls are reemerging for the Indonesian government to take a cultural approach in settling human rights issues in Papua following a concerted voice on the matter during a recent United Nations meeting.

Seven Pacific countries pushed for a resolution of alleged human rights abuses in Indonesia's eastern province during the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York two weeks ago. The allegations were rejected by the Indonesian government representative at the meeting.

The Indonesian government promised earlier this year to settle dozens of human rights abuse cases in Papua, but progress in the long-awaited resolution remains unclear. Indonesian Civil Society Circle director Ray Rangkuti said the move could be going nowhere with authorities having constantly taken a repressive approach in dealing with the issues.

"They would never be settled unless there is an assurance that Papuans would not be suppressed in exercising their freedom of expression," he said in Jakarta on Wednesday (05/10).

Rallies in support of the province's independence, which were held in various parts of Indonesia in recent months, have been repressed by authorities. The Free Papua Organization (OPM) has been mounting an insurgency for decades.

"That approach is unnecessary. Even though the issues raised are high-level, the threats are low-level in the context of security," Ray said. "The cycle of violence must be broken."

The OPM has complained that the central government has given resource-rich Papua an unfair share of state wealth after the province became part of Indonesia in 1969.

The administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has been developing several infrastructure projects to boost the economy in Papua, a move Indonesia suggested during the recent UN meeting.

Catholic priest and human rights advocate Benny Susetyo said the efforts would mean nothing to ease the situation in Papua if the government does not approach Papuans culturally.

"The approach needs dialogue and the government should have the willingness to do so, instead of seeing them as a threat," he said. "Physical development without a cultural approach would be useless."

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Grab Celebrates National Batik Day With Giveaways to Drivers, Loyal Customers

Jakarta Globe, Dhania Putri Sarahtika, October 03, 2016

Grab's partner drivers wear batik shirts given to them by the company in
celebration of National Batik Day on Sunday (02/10). (Photo courtesy of
Grab Indonesia)

Jakarta. App-based ride-hailing service Grab celebrated National Batik Day on Sunday (02/10) with the launch of "GrabBatik," which involved the company handing out 600 batik shirts to its drivers and loyal customers.

Grab Indonesia marketing director Mediko Azwar said the program is not only to promote batik, but also to thank the people who have helped make the company a success.

"Batik, Indonesia's cultural icon, is an inseparable part of our society. In celebration of National Batik Day, Grab wants to use this opportunity to thank our partner drivers and passengers," Mediko said.

Since starting in 2012 as an online taxi-booking platform, Grab has expanded its services into car and motorcycle rentals. GrabCar has grown by more than 250 times since mid-2015, while GrabBike recorded 300 percent growth in 2016. It has also reduced subsidies paid to drivers for every completed ride by 50 percent.

"Grab believes that it wouldn't have been Indonesia's leading transportation-booking platform if it hadn't been for the support and effort from various parties, especially the Grab drivers," Mediko said.

Along with the batik giveaways, Grab also held a selfie contest for GrabCar users to win premium Batik clothes.

"They only need to wear batik and take a selfie with a batik-clad GrabCar driver. Tag our Instagram account @GrabID. Don't forget to mention and follow us. Also mention your booking ID and #GrabBatik hashtag," Mediko said.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Govt to Form Joint Task Force on Human Rights Abuses During 1965 Purge: Minister

JakartaGlobe, Eko Prasetyo, October 01, 2016

Chief Security Minister Wiranto, right, said the government will form a joint task force
 to address the gross human rights violations that followed the failed coup of
1965 by the 30 September Movement, or G30S. (Antara Photo/Umarul Faruq)

Jakarta. The government will form a joint task force to address the gross human rights violations that followed the failed coup of 1965 by the 30 September Movement, or G30S.

The task force will be comprised of the Attorney General's Office, National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), Indonesian Military, National Police, legal experts and public representatives.

The government has held extensive discussions to address various approaches, including to hear public aspirations related to the 1965 anticommunist purge, Chief Security Minister Wiranto said after attending the Pancasila Sanctity Day commemoration in Lubang Buaya, East Jakarta, on Saturday (01/10).

"From the judicial approach, there has been an in-depth investigation on the incident, as it is categorized as part of the principles of clear and present danger by legal standings, which allowed the state to conduct 'salvage' actions related to the danger against national security," Wiranto said.

He added that the adage of abnormaal recht voor abnormale tijden, or emergency action taken during an emergency situation, was legally justified and cannot be judged under current laws.

Komnas HAM and the AGO conducted a case study where they found judicial boundaries, especially those related to evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

"[Investigators] have found difficulties to fulfill the manifestation standards of Law No. 26/2000 on Human Rights Courts," Wiranto said.

As a result, the government directed the resolution of the issue through non-judicial measures based on national interests and unity.

These non-judicial measures will consider certain phrases, including not to blame any parties, not inciting hate or vengeance, as well as justifying the government's decisions by law without causing any long-term negative excess.

Wiranto claimed that the government has been serious in resolving the tragedy by inviting all parties to turn it into a lesson for Indonesia to avoid similar events from occurring in the future.

The government has adopted three main approaches, Wiranto said.

Firstly, there had been differences in political ideology that peaked with the attempted coup and that it led to a massive setback for Indonesia as a country.

"Secondly, the government feels extremely concerned about the victims of the 1965 tragedy, as it has tried to resolve all allegations of gross human rights violations through a fair non-judicial process to avoid long-term excess," the minister said.

Lastly, the government has called on and encouraged all Indonesians to accept the state ideology of Pancasila as the foundation for national reconciliation.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

EU launches debit cards for refugees in Turkey

Yahoo – AFP, September 26, 2016

European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos
 Stylianides (L) delivers a speech next to Turkey’s EU Minister Omer Celik (R)
during a joint press conference following their meeting on September 26, 2016
(AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

Ankara (AFP) - The European Union on Monday launched a scheme worth almost 350 million euros providing mainly Syrian refugees in Turkey with pre-paid debit cards, the biggest project yet under a landmark deal between the bloc and Ankara.

EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides, in Ankara for the start of the programme, said the debit cards will help give vulnerable refugees a "sense of normality" in their lives.

The refugees will be able to use the cards in shops or institutions to pay for food, education, housing and clothing or also to withdraw cash from ATMs.

Each card will be automatically topped up with 100 Turkish lira ($33.50) a month, giving people the chance to choose their own purchases.

Stylianides said the programme was an "unprecedented response" to an "unprecedented crisis".

"This (scheme) is, in our humanitarian field, a game-changer in the delivery of humanitarian aid. Refugees can choose what they spend money on."

Turkey is home to some three million refugees, most of them Syrian. The vast majority live in cities without direct support from non-governmental organisations and aid groups.

Supported with 348 million euros ($392 million) from Brussels and its member states, the scheme will be rolled out by Turkish Red Crescent and the UN World Food Programme supported by the Turkish authorities.

Applications will start in October for the scheme. Families who have children going to school will receive more cash. All refugees registered in Turkey, including Iraqis, are eligible to apply.

Stylianides suggested that the programme would also benefit Turks.

"The money will be spent in local shops, boosting local businesses and encouraging social cohesion between citizens and refugees."

The project is part of a six billion euro ($6.75 billion) deal struck in March between Brussels and Ankara to curb the migrant influx into Europe, which saw more than a million arrive in the EU last year.

There have been fears the deal could collapse with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan complaining that the promised money was not handed directly to Turkey.

In exchange for cutting the flow, Brussels also offered Turkey visa liberalisation for its citizens to visit EU countries in the Schengen area as well as accelerated membership talks.

But Ankara has threatened to withdraw from the agreement if Europe does not allow visa-free travel for Turks by next month, though the numbers coming to Europe have dropped significantly since March.

Monday, September 26, 2016

In Tibet, religious freedom with Chinese characteristics

Yahoo – AFP, Ludovic Ehret, September 22, 2016

Pilgrims spin their prayer wheels outside the Jokhang Temple in the regional capital
Lhasa, in China's Tibet Autonomous Region (AFP Photo/Johannes Eisele)

The sun has yet to rise over Lhasa, but dozens of colourfully dressed pilgrims are already gathered and reciting prayers at the entrance to Jokhang, the most sacred temple in Tibetan Buddhism.

Many of those gathered -- Tibetans and Han Chinese visitors -- say religion is flourishing under Beijing's rule, with adherents enjoying the freedoms they need to follow their faith.

But this sense of freedom does not extend to the men who live inside the monasteries, analysts and monks say.

Their lives and their movements are heavily regulated by a government eager to avoid any hint of disobedience in the restive region which, although technically autonomous, is tightly controlled by Beijing.

"We are not free," said a 33-year-old monk from the neighbouring province of Sichuan. AFP is not naming the man.

"To get into Tibet from another province, you need a certificate with your name, address and identity card number.

"Everything has to be stamped by the monastery, the Bureau of Religious Affairs and the police," he said outside the Jokhang monastery.

Nearby, groups of policemen -- some from Tibet itself -- are discreetly patrolling, some holding walkie-talkies and others guns.

A monk is seen outside the Jokhang Temple in the regional capital Lhasa, in 
China's Tibet Autonomous Region (AFP Photo/Johannes Eisele)

This area of the capital is calm for now, but authorities are not taking any chances. In 2008 it was the site of deadly riots which erupted following protests by monks against Beijing's rule in the region.

The government clamped down after a period of violence against non-Tibetans, in particular the Han Chinese -- who remain a minority in Tibet.

Faith is an integral element of Tibetan identity and nationalism and is therefore perceived as a potential threat to the authority of the Chinese state, explained Kate Saunders of the US-based NGO International Campaign for Tibet.

'Keep your mouth shut'

Some ordinary Tibetans dismiss the idea their religious freedom is being curtailed.

"I come here morning and night. I have never had any problem," the 31-year-old Tibetan taxi driver Zangmai says at the temple.

"I've been praying here since I was about five or six, and one day I'll bring my son here too," he adds as he throws dried grass into a large incense burner, which belches out grey smoke.

For Zhaxi Nima, a 37-year-old Tibetan pilgrim whose left leg is amputated below the knee, faith remains an integral part of his routine.

A pilgrim (L) is seen walking past a paramilitary police patrol outside the Jokhang
 Temple, in the regional capital Lhasa, in China's Tibet Autonomous Region (AFP 
Photo/Johannes Eisele)

"Why do I come to pray, despite my handicap? Tibetans are just like that, it's our way of life," he explains.

It is not so simple for religious figures and institutions, experts say.

"Temples, monasteries... Of course, they are controlled," said Jens-Uwe Hartmann, a specialist in Buddhism at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and an expert on Tibet.

"What they are doing is very closely observed."

If religious leaders emerge who are not approved by the Chinese Communist Party, they simply disappear, Hartmann said, adding: "So you'd better keep your mouth shut."

Cultural dilution

Beijing says it "peacefully liberated" Tibet in 1951 and insists it has brought development to a previously backward region.

But many Tibetans accuse the Chinese government of exploiting natural resources, as well as promoting Han activities and business at the expense of locals and the environment.

They also accuse authorities of diluting their culture and faith as a way of exerting further influence.

China recently unveiled an initiative to get tens of millions more tourists to visit the region, and many of them wander through Jokhang along with the faithful.

Barkhor, the road around the temple that pilgrims walk in a clockwise direction as a sign of respect, displays little Chinese flags on the first floor of buildings. The street is dotted with shops and restaurants to cater to visitors from other regions.

Faith is an integral element of Tibetan identity and nationalism (AFP Photo/
Johannes Eisele)

"People's faith here is very impressive. It's not something you see anywhere else in China," says 22-year-old Peng Meng.

"In the rest of China, because of the Party, countless temples were destroyed," says a young Han, miming a fist coming down on a building.

"In Tibet, Buddhism is preserved," he adds, although many religious structures were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.

Wang Xiaobin of the China Tibetology Research Center, an official body based in Beijing, said monks were required to use travel certificates after a wave of self-immolation which began in 2009.

A total of 145 Tibetans, the majority of them monks, have set fire to themselves in the past seven years in protest against Beijing's rule and 117 of them have died, according to International Campaign for Tibet.

"Most of them came from Tibet's neighbouring provinces. And the regional government is worried that some of them are coming to self-immolate in Lhasa," Wang said.

"China recognises 'freedom of religious belief', not 'religious freedom'. Those are different things," he added.

"Clearly one has the right to believe, but there are limits to religious activity."