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. …

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pence tours Indonesian mosque in outreach to Muslims

Yahoo – AFP, Andrew Beatty, April 20, 2017

US Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Indonesia represents the most high-profile
 outreach to Muslims by the Donald Trump administration since the brash
 billionaire came to office (AFP Photo/Adek BERRY)

US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday toured the biggest mosque in Muslim-majority Indonesia during a visit seen as a highly symbolic gesture from an administration that has been accused of stoking Islamophobia.

After kicking off his stop in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country by praising its moderate Islam as "an inspiration", he visited Istiqlal Mosque, whose vast white dome towers over downtown Jakarta.

He slipped off his shoes before being guided around the mosque, which is also the biggest in Southeast Asia, accompanied by his wife and two daughters in headscarves, as well as Istiqlal's grand imam.

His visit represents the most high-profile outreach to Muslims by the Donald Trump administration since the brash billionaire came to office and echoes a similar trip by Barack and Michelle Obama in 2010.

Since becoming president almost 100 days ago, Trump has hosted leaders from majority-Muslim Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

But his administration has also tried to ban travellers from several Muslim-majority nations, citing concerns about terrorism -- an effort currently being challenged in US courts.

As a presidential candidate, Trump often appeared to flirt with the far right as he railed against "radical Islamic terrorism".

But Pence struck a starkly different tone during his visit to Indonesia, which has often been praised as a successful Muslim democracy where most practise a moderate form of Islam and coexist peacefully with substantial religious minorities.

"Indonesia's tradition of moderate Islam is frankly an inspiration to the world and we commend you and your people," he said after talks with President Joko Widodo at the presidential palace in Jakarta.

"In your nation as in mine, religion unifies, it doesn’t divide."

US Vice President Mike Pence and his family were taken on a tour of Istiqlal, 
Indonesia's biggest mosque, in Jakarta (AFP Photo/Adek BERRY)

Tolerant Islam under threat

Pence is currently on a tour of South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia that is aimed at smoothing some of the rougher edges of Trump's rhetoric.

In South Korea and Japan, Pence played down protectionist declarations of "America first" and reaffirmed US treaty commitments to the security of the two countries as tensions rise over Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

After meeting with representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation's at the regional bloc's headquarters in Jakarta on Thursday, Pence announced Trump would attend three summits in Asia in November, a further sign that his administration is seeking to reassure regional allies.

He will attend the US-ASEAN and East Asia summits in the Philippines and a gathering of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group in Vietnam.

At the mosque in Jakarta, Pence and his family also toured the cavernous main prayer room -- which was empty during his visit but fills up with tens of thousands of worshippers during key dates in the Muslim calender -- and admired the towering dome.

A man showed the US leader how he beats a carved drum next to the courtyard, a local addition to the traditional call to prayer.

Pence then held an interfaith dialogue behind closed doors with representatives of the Christian, Buddhist, Confucian, Hindu and Muslim faiths.

The vice president's upbeat tone about Indonesian Islam contrasts with growing concerns inside the country that the traditionally inclusive brand of the religion is under threat from hardliners and a trend towards conservatism.

On Wednesday Jakarta's Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was defeated in a run-off election to lead the capital by a Muslim challenger who was accused of pandering to hardliners to win votes.

Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, lost after his once-unassailable lead in opinion polls was dented when he was put on trial for blasphemy in a case criticised as politically motivated.

After his talks with Widodo, Pence also said the US was committed to building a stronger defence partnership with Indonesia to combat terrorism, and guaranteeing freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where Indonesian and Chinese vessels have recently clashed.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Celebrations Should Inspire Unity in Indonesia: Religious Affairs Minister

Jakarta Globe, Eko Prasetyo, April 14, 2017

Indonesian Catholics pray at Gua Maria ("Mary's Cave") in Sendang
Sriningsih in Yogyakarta on Thursday (13/04). (Antara Photo/
Aloysius Jarot Nugroho)

Jakarta. Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said Easter celebrations in Indonesia are perfect manifestations of the country's motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, or "unity in diversity."

Lukman said the theme for this year's official national celebration of Easter — to be hosted in Manado, North Sulawesi — "Torang Samua Ciptaan Tuhan," or "Everyone is God’s Creation," was chosen to reflect the values of the often-quoted motto.

"The founding fathers of this country clearly understood we're a pluralistic, diverse nation, that's why unity is something to be fought for," Lukman was quoted as saying on the Ministry of Religious Affairs website.

Shephard Supit, the chairman of the 2017 National Easter Celebration committee, said a series of ceremonies and events celebrating Easter will be held in Manado and Tondano from April 21-25.

More than 25,000 Christians are expected to attend, including foreign visitors.

North Sulawesi Governor Olly Donkokambey said the province is more than ready to host the Easter celebrations.

"It will be another honor for us. Last year we also hosted the National Christmas Celebration and the Maulid Nabi [Prophet Muhammad's birthday] Celebration," Olly said.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Two men may get 100 lashes after gay sex in Indonesia

Two men may be in line for up to 100 lashes of the cane after being caught having sex in Indonesia's Shariah-ruled province of Aceh. The province is the only one allowed to impose Shariah after a change in the law.

Deutsche Welle, 8 April 2017

If found guilty, two men from the Indonesian province of Aceh who were discovered having sex together will be the first to be caned for gay sex under a new code implemented two years ago, Marzuki, the Shariah police's chief investigator, said on Saturday.

"Based on our investigation, testimony of witnesses and evidence, we can prove that they violated Islamic Shariah law and we can take them to court," said Marzuki, who goes by a single name.

The new code allows up to 100 lashes for morality offenses including gay sex, adultery, gambling, drinking alcohol, the wearing of tight clothes by women and skipping Friday prayers in the case of men.

Homo sexualityis not illegal in Indonesia, but a judicial review being considered by the Constitutional Court is seeking to criminalize sex outside marriage and sex between people of the same gender.

Civilian vigilantism

Residents caught the men having sex on March 28 in a rented room in the provincial capital Banda Aceh, an official at the provincial public order department told the German press agency DPA.

The men - aged 23 and 20 - were reported to the police on March 29, Marzuki said. He added that the men had "confessed" to "being a gay couple." This was supported, he said, by video footage taken by a resident showing one of the men naked and distressed as he calls for help on his cellphone. The second man is repeatedly pushed by another man who is preventing the couple from leaving the room.

Under the code, sex out of wedlock is punishable by up to 100 strokes of the cane. An earlier version of the code did not regulate punishment for gay sex.

Jakarta signed a peace agreement with Aceh separatist rebels in 2005, ending decades of conflict that killed more than 15,000 people.

jbh/tj (AP, dpa)
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D66 MPs Pechtold (l) and Koolmes take a stand. Photo: David van Dam/HH

Related Article:

"The Akashic Circle" – Jul 17, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Religion, The Humanization of GodBenevolent Design, DNA, Akashic Circle, (Old) Souls, Gaia, Indigenous People, Talents, Reincarnation, Genders, Gender Switches, In “between” Gender Change, Gender Confusion, Shift of Human Consciousness, Global Unity,..... etc.)  - (Text version)

“… Gender Switching

Old souls, let me tell you something. If you are old enough, and many of you are, you have been everything. Do you hear me? All of you. You have been both genders. All of you have been what I will call between genders, and that means that all of you have had gender switches. Do you know what happens when it's time for you to switch a gender? We have discussed it before. You'll have dozens of lifetimes as the same gender. You're used to it. It's comfortable. You cannot conceive of being anything else, yet now it's time to change. It takes approximately three lifetimes for you to get used to it, and in those three lifetimes, you will have what I call "gender confusion."

It isn't confusion at all. It's absolutely normal, yet society often will see it as abnormal. I'm sitting here telling you you've all been through it. All of you. That's what old souls do. It's part of the system. …”

“… With free choice, the percentage of DNA efficiently started to go down as humanity grew. As soon as the DNA started to lose percentage, the gender balance was dysfunctional. If you want to have a test of any society, anywhere on the planet, and you want to know the DNA percentage number [consciousness quota] as a society, there's an easy test: How do they perceive and treat their women? The higher the DNA functionality, the more the feminine divine is honored. This is the test! Different cultures create different DNA consciousness, even at the same time on the planet. So you can have a culture on Earth at 25 percent and one at 37 - and if you did, they would indeed clash. …”

“… You're at 35. There's an equality here, you're starting to see the dark and light, and it's changing everything. You take a look at history and you've come a long way, but it took a long time to get here. Dear ones, we've seen this process before and the snowball is rolling. There isn't anything in the way that's going to stop it. In the path of this snowball of higher consciousness are all kinds of things that will be run over and perish. Part of this is what you call "the establishment". Watch for some very big established things to fall over! The snowball will simply knock them down. …”

Garuda Indonesia Moves to New Terminal to Boost Tourist Arrivals

Jakarta Globe, Dames Alexander Sinaga, April 05, 2017

Garuda Indonesia will move all its international flights to the new Terminal 3
 at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport starting on May 1. (Photo
courtesy of

Jakarta. Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia will try to help increase international tourist arrivals by moving its international flight operations from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

The Tourism Ministry has asked for airport operator Angkasa Pura II's help to attract an additional 700,000 international visitors to Indonesia this year. Garuda plans to help achieve the target by streamlining its passengers' path through the airport.

Currently the airline operates flights from two terminals at Soekarno-Hatta — domestic flights from Terminal 3 and international flights from Terminal 2. But soon all Garuda flights will use Terminal 3 and passengers will no longer need to move between terminals to catch a connecting flight.

"The new Terminal 3 will be a bigger and better hub for us," Garuda Indonesia chief executive Arif Wibowo said in a statement.

Angkasa Pura II president director Muhammad Awaluddin confirmed the plan to move Garuda Indonesia's international flights to Terminal 3, saying it would help the airport to take in more passengers.

"We should have more than 100 million passengers going through Soekarno-Hatta this year. In January, the airport had more than 15 million passengers, 14 percent to 15 percent more than last year," Awaluddin said during a ministerial coordination meeting at Hotel Borobudur in Central Jakarta on March 30.

Awaluddin said Soekarno-Hatta Airport has two runways which can accommodate 72 flights per hour. Angkasa Pura wants to increase that rate to 80 flights per hour by October and to 86 flights per hour by January 2018.

Not the finished article: Terminal 3

All of Garuda Indonesia's flights are set to use Terminal 3 starting from May 1.

"We've told Garuda to start organizing their move to Terminal 3. Everything has to be ready by May 1," Minister of Transportation Budi Karya said.

Budi said Garuda Indonesia has to set up all the infrastructure at its new terminal before moving. The ministry can only issue an operating permit once the terminal is ready.

"They have their work cut out for them; they're yet to do all the operational simulations, from check-in to boarding to luggage-handling," Budi said.

According to the Ministry of Transportation, infrastructure for international flights at Terminal 3 is now 90 percent complete. Budi said Garuda Indonesia will operate 26 international flights from the terminal.

The new terminal was opened in August last year, but has been beset with problems from the start, including a collapsed roof and a flash flood at its arrival gate.

Garuda Indonesia operational director Novianto Herupratomo and Ida Fiqriyah,
the flag-carrier's first female captain, on Wednesday (05/04). (Photo courtesy
of Garuda Indonesia)

Related Article:

Garuda Indonesia Appoints First Female Captain

Jakarta Globe, Sarah Yuniarni, April 06, 2017

Garuda Indonesia operational director Novianto Herupratomo and Ida Fiqriyah,
the flag-carrier's first female captain, on Wednesday (05/04). (Photo courtesy
of Garuda Indonesia).

Jakarta. Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has appointed its first ever female captain, the first major Indonesian airline to do so.

Ida Fiqriyah was officially appointed as a captain on Wednesday (o5/04). She regularly flies the narrow-body Boeing B737-800 NG and single-aisle aircraft for Garuda. She has clocked in 10,585 flight hours in more than 18 years with the flag-carrier, beginning her career in 1999 as a co-pilot.

A 1996 graduate of the Indonesian State Aviation School in Tangerang, Banten, Ida has been flying all types of aircraft for Garuda Indonesia, including Boeing B737-300, B737-400 and B737-500 and the wide-body Airbus A330-300 and A330-200.

"We are an equal-opportunity employer. We always reward good performances," Garuda Indonesia operational director Novianto Herupratomo said in a statement on Wednesday.

Novianto said to become a captain is no easy task; pilots have to go through a lot of hardships and face many challenging situations before they can even be considered as a captain at Garuda Indonesia.

He also said Ida's appointment as captain should inspire other Indonesian women to pursue a career in aviation.

Garuda Indonesia currently employs 30 female pilots out of a total of 1,380 pilots at the company.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bangka Belitung Embarks on New Campaign to Attract Foreign Tourists

Jakarta Globe, April 03, 2017

A beach at Burung Belitung Island in Bangka Belitung province. Local tourism
agencies have been ramping up campaigns to attract foreign tourists to the
province in recent months. (Antara Photo/Teresia May)

Jakarta. Travel agencies from neighboring Singapore and Malaysia will send representatives to a series of events next month to promote tourism to the Bangka Belitung Islands.

The Pelangi Travel Mart 2017 will be held on May 9-12 and is being organized by Bangka Belitung regional representatives of the Association of Indonesian Tourism (ASPPI).

"Pelangi Travel Mart will host 50 sellers and 100 buyers and has booked 70 participants for the event so far. We are aiming to book local stakeholders, including hotels, souvenir shops and restaurants," ASPPI Bangka Belitung director, Agus Pahlevi, said on Saturday (01/04).

"If there are no hurdles, other neighboring countries will also participate in the event to offer travel packages to Bangka Belitung."

Aside from its hard selling strategy, the event's organizer plans to hold other activities to promote Bangka Belitung. The Travel Mart will be hosted on Lepar Island, in the central Bangka city of Namang and in the provincial capital of Pangkalpinang.

"We will emphasize promoting maritime tourism, but we are generally encouraging potential visitors to enrich themselves in Bangka Belitung's local cultural," Agus said.

"From Lepar Island, tourists are able to travel to surrounding islands, including to Kelapan and Mercusuar, and to Tukam village, a local town known for its industrious recycling program," Agus said.

Pelangi Travel Mart will also be supported by the Ministry of Tourism, the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurants Association (PHRI) and the Indonesian Tourist Guide Association (HPI).

Esthy Reko Astuti, the deputy minister for tourism marketing, said the upcoming events are an example of recent government efforts to attract more foreign visitors to the country.

"Tourists visiting Indonesia can contribute to the country's economic strength as their expenses determine our foreign exchange earnings," Esthy said. "Local tourism agencies, who are dominated by young people, have been shrewd enough to introduce the Bangka Belitung Islands to foreign tourists, a relatively unfamiliar destination."

"Agencies have been aggressively promoting tourism packages on social media," she said.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said the event is crucial to building up the country's tourism industry.

"I would suggest local tourism agents join the Indonesia Tourism Xchange [ITX] – a digital marketplace endorsed by Tourism Ministry – to enable agents to promote their business through a streamlined online platform," Arief said.

During a National Coordination Meeting (Rakornas), Arief also said that conventional travel agents are facing new challenges to adapt to an increasing online marketplace. According to ministry data, at least 70 percent of tourists book their trips on the web.

UN blasts 'disturbing' racism against Aborigines in Australia

Yahoo – AFP, April 3, 2017

UN blasts 'disturbing' racism against Aborigines in Australia

Sydney (AFP) - Racism against Aborigines in Australia is widespread and "deeply disturbing", a United Nations envoy said Monday, urging the government to work more closely with indigenous people.

UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz has been on a 15-day visit at Canberra's invitation to check on progress made since the last such trip in 2009.

She said she found racism against the indigenous population widespread.

"As I have travelled across the country, I have found the prevalence of racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples deeply disturbing," she said.

"This manifests itself in different ways, ranging from public stereotyped portrayals of them as violent criminals, welfare profiteers and poor parents and to discrimination in the administration of justice."

During her tour, Tauli-Corpuz examined measures aimed at reducing indigenous disadvantage, jail conditions, land rights issues and violence against women.

Aborigines -- who make up about three percent of the population of 24 million -- are among the most disadvantaged Australians.

In February an annual government report entitled "Closing the Gap" found that Australia was failing in its efforts to improve Aboriginal lives, with targets -- including cutting child mortality and raising life expectancy -- not being met.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull admitted at the time not enough progress had been made and committed more money to improve research and evaluate policies to improve the situation.

The UN rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples said in a statement there was a lack of government consultation with indigenous bodies working to support their own communities in public health, housing, education, and child protection.

She said the national representative body for the indigenous population -- the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples -- was "dismally disregarded by the government".

"While Australia has adopted numerous policies aiming to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait socio-economic disadvantage, the failure to respect the right to self-determination and the right to full and effective participation in these is alarming," she said.

"The compounded effect of these policies has contributed to the failure to deliver on the targets in the areas of health, education and employment in the Closing the Gap strategy."

Tauli-Corpuz said indigenous organisations "remain unfunded or have had funding radically cut" and urged Canberra to do more.

She highlighted escalating rates of youth suicide, and denounced as "simply astounding" the high levels of indigenous incarceration.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up 27 percent of the prison population, despite accounting for just three percent of the total population.

"Imprisonment is the end result of years of dispossession, discrimination and trauma faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders populations over the generations," said the envoy.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Children of Indonesian men executed by Dutch demand damages

DutchNews, March 31, 2017

More than 500 children of men executed in Indonesia during the independence war of 1946 to 1949 are preparing damages claims against the Dutch state, the AD said on Friday. 

Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld has sent a list of 520 names to the defence and foreign affairs ministries, urging the state to settle their claims out of court, the paper said. 

She wants the government to agree to give the children damages the same rights as the widows of the men killed. They are able to make an uncontested claim for damages, outside the courts. 

The state, however, has said it wants to wait until the outcome of a test case brought by the children of men executed in southern Sulawesi. A lower court ruled in 2015 that they are entitled to compensation like their mothers. 

The Dutch military interventions in Indonesia, or Dutch Indies as it was known then, followed the proclamation of the independent Republic of Indonesia in 1945 and lasted until the country formally gained independence in 1949 after a bloody struggle. 

At the end of 2011, the Netherlands finally formally apologised for the massacre of hundreds of men and boys in the Javanese village of Rawagede in 1947. 

Last year, the Dutch government agreed to set up a major inquiry into the structural use of violence in Indonesia.

Related Article:

Friday, March 3, 2017

Indonesia, Saudi sign deals as King Salman starts landmark visit

Yahoo – AFP, Dessy Sagita, March 1, 2017

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (L) held talks with Indonesian
President Joko Widodo (R) in Bogor, West Java, on March 1, 2017

Indonesia and Saudi Arabia Wednesday signed agreements in areas ranging from trade to aviation as the kingdom's monarch visited the world's most populous Muslim-majority country for the first time in almost half a century.

King Salman was treated to an elaborate official welcome as he arrived in Jakarta, his latest stop on an Asian tour seeking investment opportunities, at the head of a 1,000-strong delegation including princes and ministers.

After disembarking from his plane, he was met by President Joko Widodo before travelling past cheering crowds in pouring rain to a presidential palace at Bogor south of Jakarta, where he was greeted by a marching band, a mounted honour guard and a 21-gun salute.

Almost 460 tons of equipment have been flown in for the visit, including limousines and escalators.

Preparations have been elaborate. Naked statues at the Bogor palace were covered up before Salman's arrival. Some 150 chefs have reportedly been hired to cook for the king's party and a VIP toilet has been constructed at a mosque he will visit.

Widodo hailed the "historic" visit, adding: "As the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia will always have a special bond with Saudi Arabia."

The leaders oversaw the signing of 11 cooperation memoranda following Wednesday's talks at the Bogor palace. Apart from trade and aviation, they included agreements on boosting cooperation in science, health and fighting crime.

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (centre L) welcomes Saudi Arabia's King 
Salman bin Abdul Aziz (centre R) at Halim airport in Jakarta on March 1, 2017

Jakarta and Riyadh also inked an agreement that builds on an existing $6 billion deal between state-owned energy firms Aramco and Pertamina to expand an Indonesian oil refinery.

Salman, 81, said he hoped the visit would "contribute to the improvement of the bilateral relationship between our two countries".

The visit -- the first by a Saudi Arabian king to Indonesia for 47 years -- is one of the highlights of a rare Saudi royal tour of Asia, a region seeking investment as the world's biggest oil exporter tries to diversify its economy.

After the three-day visit to Jakarta, Salman and his entourage will head to the Hindu-majority resort island of Bali for a holiday, where they will reportedly stay in five luxury hotels.

On Thursday the king is due to give a speech to parliament and visit a major Jakarta mosque. He is also due to meet leaders of some of Indonesia's major Muslim organisations during the trip.

Salman began his three-week Asian tour in Malaysia earlier this week and is also set to visit Japan, China and the Maldives.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Indonesian foreign minister: 'Trying to create a culture of tolerance'

Concerns abound in recent times about the threats posed by radicalization and terrorism to Indonesian society. The country's foreign minister spoke to DW about how the government is tackling these issues.

Deutsche Welle, 20 February 2017

DW: There are growing concerns about increasing radicalization in Indonesia. How vulnerable is the country to this threat?

Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi: Let me start by saying that radicalization is not a problem limited to any particular country. The threats of radicalism and terrorism are faced by almost every nation worldwide. We discussed them during the G20 meeting and also ways to improve and coordinate counter-terrorism measures.

Terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to world peace. In 2015, for example, outfits affiliated to IS [the so-called Islamic State terror group] were responsible for carrying out attacks in 28 countries. That figure was twice the number of attacks in 2014. Over the past 16 years, 93 nations have experienced terror attacks, resulting in some 32,000 deaths. I, therefore, would like to stress that no country is immune to terrorism.

What measures are being put in place by Indonesia to deal with these threats?

I think Indonesia is a good example for how to cope with such threats. We have the biggest Muslim population of any other country in the world, and at the same time our community is very heterogeneous. We are therefore trying to create a culture of tolerance.

Since the birth of Indonesia as a country, we Indonesians know we have different ethnicities and multiple religions, but we all want to have one country - Indonesia. So a culture of tolerance is always there. However, as evidenced by almost all countries, Indonesia has also faced radicalization and the threat of terrorism. But Indonesia has so far been able to cope with the situation.

Whereas most countries focus on hard power to counter radicalism and terrorism, Indonesia has laid emphasis on a soft power approach, and it's working very well.

How do you think the fears surrounding radicalism would impact Indonesia's economic development prospects?

I don't think international investors are worried at all about the threat of radicalization in Indonesia, as everybody is aware that this kind of danger exists everywhere. Regarding foreign investment, the president of Indonesia has always stressed his commitment to make the nation's economy more open and competitive. This is reflected in the government's initiatives over the past year, when we introduced 14 economic reform packages. With these measures, we do hope to draw in more foreign investment into our fast-expanding economy.

Again, we are striving to make our economy more open and competitive and this should attract greater foreign investment into the country.

Many are calling on Indonesia to step up its efforts to help tackle the Rohingya crisis. How do you envisage the Indonesian government's response to the problem?

To start with, Myanmar is an ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] country, like Indonesia. If something happens in Myanmar, it will surely affect the rest of the region. So there are only two options here: either help Myanmar resolve the problem or don't help.

Indonesia, for its part, has decided to actively and constructively engage with Myanmar. We understand the problem there, which created a humanitarian crisis and a security concern in Rakhine state. We continue to convey our concerns to the Myanmar government and stress on the need to create an environment that is conducive for peace in Rakhine.   

Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi:
 'Indonesia has decided to actively and
 constructively engage with Myanmar' 
on the Rohingya issue
We have also communicated with Myanmar on the importance of protecting and respecting the human rights of all communities, including the Muslim communities. We also underline the significance of inclusive economic development, particularly in Rakhine state.

This way, we convey our views, concerns and criticisms to our counterparts in the Myanmar government, while offering our assistance at the same time.

Furthermore, I have discussed the issue of Rohingyas with many stakeholders, including Kofi Annan. I have visited Myanmar three times, traveled to Dhaka and paid a visit to the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

I want to underscore that we would like to not only help Myanmar in addressing the immediate issues in Rakhine state, but also provide more medium- and long-term assistance for the country's development.

Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi is currently serving as Indonesia's foreign minister.

The interview was conducted by Vidi Legowo-Zipperer during the recent G20 foreign ministers summit in Bonn, Germany.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Philippine Church in 'show of force' against drug killings

Yahoo – AFP, Ayee Macaraig, February 18, 2017

More than 6,000 people have died in the seven months since President
Rodrigo Duterte ordered an unprecedented war on drugs, which has drawn
global criticism for alleged human rights abuses (AFP Photo/NOEL CELIS)

Manila (AFP) - Thousands of Catholic faithful gathered in the Philippine capital on Saturday for a "show of force" in the biggest rally yet to stop extrajudicial killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war.

More than 6,000 people have died since Duterte took office seven months ago and ordered an unprecedented crime war that has drawn global criticism for alleged human rights abuses, but is popular with many in the mainly Catholic country.

Members of one of the nation's oldest and most powerful institutions chanted prayers and sang hymns as they marched to condemn a "spreading culture of violence".

"We have to stand up. Somehow this is already a show of force by the faithful that they don't like these extrajudicial killings," Manila bishop Broderick Pabillo told AFP before addressing the crowd.

"I am alarmed and angry at what's happening because this is something that is regressive. It does not show our humanity."

Duterte, 71, has attacked the Church as "the most hypocritical institution" for speaking out against a campaign that he says would save generations of Filipinos from the drug menace.

About eight in 10 Filipinos are Catholic, making the former Spanish colony of more than 100 million people Asia's bastion of Christianity.

The Church helped lead the revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and a 2001 uprising against then-president Joseph Estrada that saw him ousted over corruption charges.

Thousands of Catholics gather at a dawn rally in a "show of force" against alleged
 extrajudicial killings in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war in Manila on 
February 18, 2017 (AFP Photo/NOEL CELIS)

It had initially declined to voice opposition publicly to Duterte's drug war but, as the death toll of mostly poor people mounted, it began late last year to call for the killings to end.

Saturday's event, called the "Walk for Life", gathered 20,000 people, according to the organisers. Manila police estimated the crowd at 10,000.

The rally also opposed Duterte's push to restore the death penalty, his top legislative priority as part of his crime war.

'Tears and fears'

"It is obvious that there is a spreading culture of violence. It is saddening to see, sometimes it drives me to tears how violent words seem so natural and ordinary," said Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle, the country's highest-ranking Church official.

"In your surroundings, in your neighbourhood, there are so many lives that must be saved. They will not be saved by mere discussion."

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines had called on the faithful to gather at the Quirino Grandstand, where Duterte held a huge pre-election rally, from 4:30am.

"Why dawn? It's because it is during these hours that we find bodies on the streets or near trash cans. Dawn, which is supposed to be the hour of a new start, is becoming an hour of tears and fears," Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the bishops' conference, told the crowd.

Villegas this month issued the Church's strongest statement against the drug war, warning against a "reign of terror" in poor communities.

Officers investigate the killing of two alleged robbers in a gun fight with police
in Manila (AFP Photo/NOEL CELIS)

Among those who attended Saturday's event was Senator Leila de Lima, a former human rights commissioner and one of Duterte's most vocal opponents.

The government on Friday filed charges against her for allegedly running a drug trafficking ring using criminals in the country's largest prison when she was justice secretary in the previous administration.

De Lima, who has repeatedly insisted the charges against her are trumped up to silence her and intimidate other Duterte critics, said she attended Saturday's event as a show of solidarity.

"For as long as I can, I will continue to fight. They cannot silence me," De Lima, who is expecting to be arrested in the coming days, told AFP.

Bone cancer survivor Lucy Castillo, 56, turned up in a wheelchair along with dozens of other people with disabilities.

"When I was in so much pain, I could have taken my life but I did not. Only God can take it," she told AFP.

"I was diagnosed 40 years ago but I was given a chance to live. I want to give these drug addicts another chance."