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, August 31, 2010

Indonesian Government Urges Crackdown on Violent Groups

Jakarta Globe, Markus Junianto Sihaloho | August 31, 2010

The government called for a crackdown on any organization that disturbs public order or promotes anarchy and violence on Monday, in response to a rising tide of violent mob crimes. (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)  

Jakarta. Government leaders agreed on Monday to push for law enforcement to act firmly against any organization that disturbs public order or promotes anarchy and violence.

“We are pushing the state apparatus to strictly execute the laws dealing with violations and anarchism by certain mass organizations,” Priyo Budi Santoso, the deputy house speaker and a Golkar Party member, said following a meeting with several ministers and top officials dealing with political, legal and security affairs.

Present at the meeting were Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi, State Intelligence Agency Chief Sutanto and National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri.

The attendants, who gathered in the wake of recent violent attacks on religious minorities by Islamic hard-liners, agreed that the state will never accept any violence carried out in the name of ethnicity, race or religion, Priyo said.

They also called for strong measures against organizations that could threaten the country’s sovereignty, such as separatist groups.

Golkar lawmaker Nudirman Munir said that the government needed to take tougher action against civil society groups in Papua which have been calling for a self-determination referendum there.

“If we let them do that, they will become bigger,” he cautioned.

The meeting also called on the House of Representatives to immediately launch a revision of a 1995 law on mass organizations, Priyo said.

“What we discussed during the meeting should become the basis of the revision,” Priyo said.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Said Abdullah said the police should arrest members of any organization using violence in the name of religion, stressing that such behavior amounted to terrorism.

He also criticized the police for appearing too passive in dealing with such groups. Bambang, though, said the police simply did not have enough personnel to deal with all violations.

“But we are still serious about law enforcement. We have even sent the leader of that certain group to prison,” he said, alluding to radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who was arrested in mid-August on terrorism charges relating to his connections with a paramilitary training camp in Aceh.

Djoko said he believed that most mass organizations were resistant to any government “guidance,” but vowed to enhance programs to strengthen dialog between the government and prominent organizations.

“We do need to tell them that all organizations must respect Indonesian laws,” Djoko said.

Meanwhile, the PDI-P urged the government to revoke a joint decree requiring approval from local residents before a house of worship is constructed.

“Why should we have a regulation that requires permission from local residents if any religion wants to build a new house of worship?” Said questioned, agreeing with charges that the regulation has produced only conflict.

However, Suryadharma said the decree was approved by senior representatives from the six major religions recognized by the government.

“If we freed any religion to build their houses of worship, would it prevent us from further conflict? I don’t think so. The decree is useful in preventing conflict among religion communities,” Suryadharma said.

The Thinker: Women on the Edge

Jakarta Globe, Dewi Tjakrawinata | August 30, 2010

When the plenary session of the House of Representatives failed to ratify the immigration bill on July 30, the women’s movement closely following the progress of this legislation was given new hope. It seems that both the government and the House were aware that the people’s aspirations, in particular those of women in mixed marriages, had not yet been accommodated.

Susan (not her real name), a foreigner, had to swallow a bitter pill when her beloved Indonesian husband had a stroke and was no longer able to work. The couple had met at a university in Yogyakarta, fell in love and got married.

They lived in the United States for two years during her husband’s studies, and then returned to Indonesia and raised a family.

Susan gave up a good career in the United States to follow her husband to Indonesia, where she had to be willing to become a housewife.

Indonesia’s immigration and labor system denies women like Susan a right to earn an income for their families, instead allowing them to live here but only “work” in social institutions as an unpaid volunteer.

Following her husband’s stroke, Susan eventually returned to her home country so that she could support her family and send her two teenage children to school.

The children, who for their whole lives had only known Indonesia as their home, had to adapt to a new way of life and Susan had to leave her husband.

Mireille (also not her real name), a French woman, has a no less tragic story. She met her husband, a singer in a club, married him and had two daughters.

Like Susan, Mireille was denied the opportunity to work, so she instead “illegally” gave lessons in French and cooking. Her husband was often unemployed and depressed, a condition that eventually made him abusive.

What started as verbal abuse later became physical — not only toward Mireille, but also the children.

Every time Mireille said she would leave him, her husband threatened to withdraw his sponsorship and swore he would not let her take the children.

Fear of losing her daughters and that something even worse would happen to them if she left led her to stay.

Rusmiah, who comes from Brebes, Central Java, tried her luck by going to work in Malaysia and working as a maid. She was fortunate to have a good boss who paid her well and even gave her an opportunity to learn to cook.

She met a plantation laborer from Cambodia in an English-language class, whom she eventually married.

They were a hard-working young couple that saved as much as they could to build a better future.

When Rusmiah became pregnant, she decided to return to Indonesia, with her husband planning to buy land to farm while Rusmiah would open a food stall in her village.

But because her husband was a foreigner, neither he nor Rusmiah were allowed to buy a rice field in their name.

He only had a tourist visa and had to leave Indonesia every 30 days.

The burden gradually ate up the savings of the young couple with a new baby and undermined Rusmiah’s health, leaving her unable to work.

The problems faced by these women could be solved if our country recognized the common concept of permanent residency, whereby a person is allowed to reside indefinitely within a country of which he or she is not a citizen.

The latest draft of the immigration bill would fail to solve the problems of these three women above.

The reason given by those discussing the bill as to why this concept of permanent residency cannot be accepted is because the immigration bill only deals with the entry and exit of people (Indonesians and foreigners) to and from the country.

In other countries, permanent residency is granted to immigrants who fulfill certain conditions. Can Indonesia not learn from other countries?

The women mentioned here are part of Indonesian families. The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The UDHR holds that everyone has the right to work and to the free choice of employment. Is the declaration just meaningless rhetoric for us in Indonesia? 

Dewi Tjakrawinata is a member of the International Rainbow Alliance (Aliansi Pelangi Antar Bangsa), a Jakarta-based organization working to ensure legal protection for Indonesian and foreign nationals and their families.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Balinese gamelan shakes Russian music

Antara News, Monday, August 30, 2010 20:51 WIB | Entertainment

Jakarta  (ANTARA News) - The clink of Balinese traditional music, Gamelan, performed by a team from Indonesian Fine Arts Institute of Denpasar shook Russian music community, a release from the Secretary of the Indonesia Embassy in Moscow, Johannes O S Manginsela, said Monday.

The Indonesian team initiated their performance in the Philharmonic in Tula, 200 Km from Moscow.

With the theme "The color of Indonesia", the performance was part of the 60th anniversary of Indonesia-Russia diplomatic relations at the Indonesia Embassy, the Indonesian Fine Arts Institute of Denpasar, and supported by the Indonesia Education Ministry.

The Gamelan and Indonesian dance performances dazzled about 750 spectators at the theater in the hometown of the great Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy.

At the end of the performance, the spectators applauded and exclaimed `malajet...malajet,` which means great.

The Indonesia Fine Art Institute`s team also managed to mesmerize the Moscow art community in Rachmaninov Hall, Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory.

Some 200 spectators crammed the concert hall of the most prestigious school of classical music in Russia.

At the end of the show, the spectators kept applauding continuously that the Balinese artists had to drag themselves back to the main stage to perform an encore of additional Gamelan play for at least another 3 minutes as the final performance which was applauded by the spectators with a standing ovation.

The Gamelan play served as a background music of Indonesian dances such as Selat Segara from Bali, Padang Bulan from E Java, Oleg Tambulingan from Bali, Pakerana of Sulawesi, Mandau, Garuda, and Berburu from Papua.

Saman dance from Aceh, however, was accompanied by live traditional music relying the prime acoustic design of the concert hall without speakers or sound system.

Indonesia Ambassador to Moscow, Hamid Awaludin said the Indonesian art and culture exhibition and performance, which was artistic and cultural diplomacy, can encourage the development of Indonesian tourism sector.

The Russians who had known Bali as one of the tourism objects were expected to know Indonesia entirely through Bali.

The 60th anniversary of Indonesia-Russia diplomatic relations was a great momentum to improve the relations between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Margaritha Karatygina of the Moscow International relations department Tchaikovsky Conservatory appreciated and welcomed the success of Indonesia Fine Art Institute of Denpasar, and believed that the success will encourage Russian students to study Eastern music, especially Gamelan.

Indonesia has a very rich cultures, assistant rector of the Indonesia Fine Art Institute of Denpasar, I Wayan Suweca said, adding that the Institute presented a `Nusantara Package`.

Russia was one of the countries rich in arts and cultures with high appreciations, he said.

Both countries had potentials to develop cooperation in art and culture and the Art Institute of Denpasar was willing and ready to establish cooperation with the Russian Art institute, he said.

Sleep-Deprived American Takes on Indonesian Mosque, Loses

Jakarta Globe, Fitri R | August 30, 2010

Mataram, Lombok. It was never going to end well when a middle-aged American residing on the resort island of Lombok allegedly barged into a small mosque wearing his shoes, unplugged a speaker system used to broadcast sermons that he complained were disturbing his sleep and assaulted a worshiper.

Enraged locals immediately began chasing the man, identified as Luke Gregory Lloyd, 64, who was saved from almost certain serious injury — or worse — by police in Kuta village, Pujut subdistrict.

Nasruddin, a local, said angry residents then turned their attention to Lloyd’s house, trashing it.

“He should consider himself lucky because at that time we decided not to beat him; we didn’t want to do anything stupid, but some people could not control their anger and decided to damage Lloyd’s house,” he said.

The incident occurred on the evening of Aug. 22.

Central Lombok deputy police chief Lalu Mahsun said Lloyd had been arrested on immigration charges because his residency permit had expired in April 2006, and taken into protective custody.

He is being held at a local hotel were he is guarded by two police officers.

Mahsun said that police in cooperation with local religious officials had also launched an investigation “to determine whether Lloyd’s actions can be classified as blasphemy.”

If that was the case, he said, then, “We will arrest him immediately.”

The charge carries a maximum jail term of five years.

Mushan said it was not the first time Lloyd had objected to the activities conducted within the mushollah, or small mosque or prayer room, but this was by far the most extreme incident.

Muslims worldwide are currently marking the holy month of Ramadan.

Nasruddin said locals had put up with Lloyd for 15 years, even though he often lost his temper.

He said he hoped police would ensure that justice was done for insulting Islam and not let him escape “just because he is a foreigner.”

The Immigration Department could not be reached for comment.

Related Article:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Daoed, a Voice of Conscience

Jakarta Globe, Dewi Kurniawati | August 25, 2010

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Age, as they say, is just a number. Just look at Daoed Joesoef. The former education minister, who turns 84 this month, is sharper, more articulate and more knowledgeable than most public figures half his age.

Daoed Joesof, a former education minister, was
once labeled ‘anti-Islam’ for abolishing the monthlong
Ramadan holiday for students. A devout Muslim, he has
fought to keep religion and government separate.
JG Photo/Dewi Kurniawati
Daoed made headlines when he turned down the 2010 Achmad Bakrie Award for his lifetime of work. Established in 2003, the awards are presented to “distinguished countrymen and women for their extraordinary achievements in the social sciences and literature.”

“I refused it because the hands that offered me the award were muddy,” Daoed said, referring to the Lapindo mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java, where hectares of land have been inundated with mud, leaving thousands homeless.

The mudflow is widely blamed on a 2006 gas-drilling venture by Lapindo Brantas, part of the Bakrie group owned by the family of Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie.

Daoed holds the distinction of being the first Indonesian to graduate with a degree in economics from the Sorbonne University in France. “When I arrived in Sorbonne, I was like a rat that fell in a barn,” he said.

“I could learn so many things, I did not know where to start.”

As minister of education and culture from 1978-83 under President Suharto, Daoed was known for two things: his so-called anti-Islam policy — even though he is a devout Muslim — and his decision to ban university students from engaging in political activities while on campus grounds.

He was also known for being bluntly critical of Suharto.

In an interview with the Jakarta Globe at his house in Kemang, Daoed discussed his beliefs and hopes for a better political environment.

Why did you turn down the Bakrie award?

I am thankful to the Freedom Institute [the nonprofit think-tank that administers the award] for their recognition, but I can’t accept it.

Why? Because my conscience just can’t accept the fact that Bakrie is related to a business that has caused disaster to thousands of people in Sidoarjo, East Java.

You can’t ignore your conscience because that is the place where God stays in each of us.

Although Ulil [Abshar-Abdallah, head of the Freedom Institute] tried to persuade me by saying “Just turn down the prize money, but please receive the award,” I still couldn’t do it. I respect Ulil, but still couldn’t do it because the award has the name Bakrie on it.

In life, it’s normal to sometimes give and take. I know the value of money. When you receive something, your hands are always below the giver, never above.

But how would you feel if the hands above you are muddy? So please clean those hands first. Does that make sense?

Bakrie should just give the money to the victims of their mud. Some children from Sidoarjo came here when they heard I was getting the award.

They told me how their dreams and future were shattered because of the disaster. Many of them can’t continue their studies because of the mud. It’s sad that the government is neglecting all of this.

Do you see leadership missing in the Lapindo case?

I see no leadership from Yudhoyono. When all this took place, Bakrie was his minister, so he could have given him a warning. But he didn’t. That forced us to have dirty thoughts: What is behind all this? Did he owe Bakrie a favor?

You worked with President Suharto. What do you think is the core difference between Suharto and Yudhoyono?

Suharto was more solid. He knew he was the head of state, although he made mistakes. But at least Suharto was a firm leader.

Unlike Yudhoyono, Suharto dared to make decisions for us. He knew he was there to decide for us, to govern.

We have four more years under Yudhoyono and now one of his party members has asked if he could run for another term.

You sound pessimistic. Why?

Honestly, yes I am. Because I don’t see our leaders [understanding] the concept of governance. The same goes with our politicians.

All of them are keen on establishing their own political dynasties.

This is not what I and our founding fathers imagined we would become when we gained our independence.

This shows that despite our big potential, we are metaphysically small. Why? Because we are led by leaders with tiny souls. That is why our neighbors look down on us.

The situation today is our collective mistakes as a nation. It is our own fault to have chosen these kinds of leaders.

How do you see our system of education today?

Our Constitution’s preamble states that our goal for independence is to educate the nation. That is the government’s first obligation, to educate Indonesians.

But what do we see today? We see many children committing suicide because they can’t even afford basic education. It is just really disappointing that the government is neglecting education.

It shows that our government has no concept of where exactly they are taking us. You don’t build a nation with prayers, you build it with concepts, preferably futuristic ones.

It’s annoying to see that instead of making education accessible to all, the government creates castes in education by introducing international-standard schools with expensive fees.

I see that as an act of low self-esteem. I thought we fought for independence to eradicate castes.

Because of that, our children today can have a good education not because they are smart, but because their parents can afford to pay.

When you were minister, why did you ban university students from getting politically involved on campus?

I wanted to see universities as a place to uphold science, because we are not inventors, only adopters.

Students should learn about science properly in their universities.

Students should learn politics as a concept so they can become good politicians when they graduate — politicians who have concepts, unlike what we see today.

I never opposed the idea of students getting involved in politics as long as they did so outside their campuses.

If they want to criticize government policies, they should channel that through their political organizations, such as the Muslim Student Association [HMI].

But of course, students refused this because they have been perceived by society as agents of change.

You were also known as a critical voice in Suharto’s cabinet.

Yes, I was, and that is why he didn’t like me. I told him that some of his policies were wrong and he thought I was trying to tell him what to do.

He kept telling me to just take care of education, not other things, but I said no.

I told him that indeed, I hold an oar and he was the captain, but if the boat sinks, I sink along with it. I wanted to be a good aide, a reminder, by not just saying things that pleased him like others did. I had a chance to remind him and I did.

One of my criticisms was about the policy requiring approval from the Home Affairs Ministry and Religious Affairs Ministry to build churches. Look what is happening now. Why is there no approval needed to build a mosque? It’s not fair.

Why do you think you were labeled as anti-Islam?

It’s because I terminated the [monthlong student] holiday during Ramadan.

Hamka [a popular Islamic cleric] and the Indonesian Council of Ulema [MUI] protested against me. I told them, “If you are under Dutch occupation, sure, the Dutch would give you a year’s holiday because that makes you lazy and dumb.”

I also told them that other Islamic countries such as Malaysia, Pakistan and other Arab nations didn’t give holidays during the fasting month.

I also refused to greet in the Islamic manner when I was a state minister. I didn’t say “assalamualaikum,” because I was not a minister from an Islamic state, although I am a Muslim.

If I greet in an Islamic fashion, I automatically eliminate those from other religions who are minorities. We should respect them.

I tried to separate religion from the state, that is why I am surprised that the Acehnese have adopted the Shariah bylaw.

The state should protect its citizens’ right to worship, but we don’t see that today either. It’s sad to see radical groups say “God is great” while crushing Ahmadiyah’s mosques. It is not for us to judge others’ faiths.

You wrote ‘Emak,’ a memoir about your mother. Tell us why she was special.

Emak was special because although she didn’t get the chance to pursue higher education, she convinced me of the importance of education.

She made all school tests fun because whenever I was about to have a test, I could ask for my favorite dishes. I loved those times, it felt like a party to me. I miss it.

How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered only as a human being, an Indonesian who tried to do something good for the country’s education.

That’s all.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Inter-religious marriages uphill battle for couples

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 08/21/2010 11:23 AM

Even though many say love knows no boundaries, couples in the city are bound by the fact that they will have to face challenges if their loves are of different faiths.

Gracia Febriane, 23, a mother of a 9-month-old baby who has been married since June last year, is still struggling for marriage blessings from her family.

“I am from a Christian family but I have converted to Islam since dating my husband,” Gracia told The Jakarta Post.

Her family now prohibits her from returning home to their house in Lampung. “They despise me because of my decision to marry someone with a different faith. They wish I would have married my ex-boyfriend, who has the same religion as theirs,” she said.

The challenges that she and her partner have been experiencing, are not only from Grace’s family.

Many of her husband’s family members, including his parents, who are of Betawi ethnicity and hold strictly to their Islamic traditions, also have refused to give their blessing.

“Gladees [her baby] hasn’t seen her grandmothers since she was born because they refuse to see us.”

Her husband often leaves her and their baby for days because of work. “Even though I know my husband loves me so much, such a condition make me sad, and sometimes I regret my decision to have a baby before marriage,” Grace said.

Grace was pregnant for several months before she was married to convince both families they were serious about the couple’s relationship. Unfortunately this did not produce a result.

The couple’s marriage was conducted at the Religious Affairs Office without the presence of their families as witnesses.

“I am not asking for a great banquet but I envy those couples who have the presence of their entire families during their marriage ceremonies.”

Another story regarding interfaith relationships comes from a veterinarian. I Nyoman Denny, from a Hindu family, has fallen in love twice with girls of different faiths to him.

“My first relationship crashed. Even though our families had no problems with our relationship, both of us were strong willed to hold firmly to our faiths and we realized that the condition would cause us trouble in the future since our nation prohibits interfaith marriage,” Denny, 28, said.

The 1974 regulation on marriage only legalizes married couples from the same faith. As a result, one usually converts and follows their significant other’s faith.

Denny now has a long-distance relationship with another Muslim girl, now is living in Manado.

“She is willing to convert to Hindu so that we can further our relationship by getting married. However, we are still facing challenges from her family,” he said.

Catholic Priest Benny Susetyo, an advocate for human rights, who is also a founder of the Institute for Democracy and Peace, said that the marriage law had created a new type of fear among citizens.

“Before the law was issued, people still considered interfaith marriage or relationships as usual and was nothing that needed fussing over,” he said.

Effendy Bachtiar, an analyst of Syarif Hidyatullah Islamic University, agreed with Benny.

“Interfaith relationships are hard to avoid because Indonesia is a country with people from different backgrounds,” he said. (rch)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Outrage, Ridicule Leveled at West Aceh Politician After Rape Comment

Jakarta Globe, Ulma Haryanto | August 19, 2010

Scorn has been poured over comments from West Aceh district head Ramli Mansur that woman who fail to wear Islamic clothing are “asking to be raped.”(JG Photo/ Dewi Kurniawati)

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Jakarta. The Indonesian Council of Ulema have rejected comments from West Aceh district head Ramli Mansur that woman who fail to wear Islamic clothing are “asking to be raped.”

Amidhan, chairman of the council, also known as MUI, said there was “no such thing” in Islam.

“A scantily-clad women might trigger certain thoughts in a young man’s head but it doesn’t mean that she’s asking to get raped.”

Ninik Rahayu, deputy chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence Against Women, criticized the West Aceh bylaw that prohibits women from wearing tight clothing, including pants.

“Even if a woman wears a ragged sack as clothing, men with perverted thoughts will still want to rape her,” she said.

Ninik said the bylaw was an attempt to discriminate against women.

“Why does the state, or in this case regional government, have to regulate how a woman has to dress herself?” she asked.

The Jakarta Globe Facebook and Twitter communities, meanwhile, reacted with outrage and open hostility to Ramli’s comments.

“What a douchebag, wrote Pratomo Hartono on the Globe’s Facebook fan site. “Whoever said that should go kill himself with a fork.

Nino Candra, also on Facebook, described Ramli’s answers to a sit-down interview with Globe journalist Dewi Kurniawati as “idiotic.”

“I do pity Mr. Mansur for the narrow-mindedness.”

“A man who says such things has perverted fantasies in his mind,” noted Yoshua Budin on the social networking site.

Jodi Baskoro said she believed Ramli regarded women has little more than "chunks of meat without feeling,” adding that she dared the politician for the sake of women in the world to study different perspectives and "learn to respect."

Selena Tiedoll, also on Facebook wrote: “Yes, I agree women should dress properly, but asking to be raped? Women get raped because it’s their fault? You must tell men to control their lust, too! Even if all women wear burqa, but the man is very horny, rape will still occur anyway....”

The Globe’s Twitter community was also incredulous, with one member simply stating that Ramli’s comments were “crazy.”

Read the full interview HERE or sign up to the Jakarta Globe’s Facebook or Twitter feeds to participate in the debate.

Indonesia's Comfort Women Break the Silence

Jakarta Globe, Report Katrin Figge | August 18, 2010

The exhibition ‘Jugun Ianfu - Comfort Women’ features portraits of 18 women, most of whom are now in their late 70s or early 80s. Accompanying text tells the stories of the women and their experiences during World War II.  (JG Photos/Safir Makki and Amee Enriquez)

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“As a 13-year-old girl, Ronasih was picked up on her way home from school by a soldier nicknamed Sideburns and locked up in a nearby barracks. There, she was raped systematically for three months by Sideburns and his pal.”

This is the story of Ronasih, from Serang, West Java, but it is shared by many other young Indonesian girls who became victims of sexual violence during World War II.

They were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military or repeatedly raped and sexually abused in factory warehouses, railroad cars and even their own homes.

It is a dark chapter in history that few people openly talk about. These women, known as comfort women or the Japanese term jugun ianfu — jugun means following the military and ianfu means comfort women — still carry the stigma and shame of what they had to endure.

“Her father visited the barracks several times and in vain offered himself as free labor in exchange for his daughter’s release. Not until the end of the war was Ronasih, very thin by then, released. ‘I had to crawl home, I couldn’t even walk anymore, it hurt all over.’

“Immediately after the war, she underwent surgery for internal injuries. ‘I only married late because I first wanted to think, my wounds hadn’t healed yet, I was afraid, I wanted to get better first.’

She’s been married five times, divorced several times after just a few months, and has never been able to bear children. ‘I did get injections from the doctor, but it’s God who determines whether you have children, not people.’ ”

Ronasih’s narrative is part of an ongoing photo exhibition, “Jugun Ianfu — Comfort Women,” by Dutch journalist Hilde Janssen and photographer Jan Banning at Erasmus Huis in South Jakarta.

Encouraging comfort women to break their silence, Janssen and Banning traveled the country to hear and record their stories.

The exhibition is a result of this undertaking — portraits of 18 women, most of whom are now in their late 70s or early 80s, accompanied by text that tells their stories.

It also features Japanese war propaganda posters found in archives in the Netherlands. These posters stand in stark contrast to the pictures of the women, which present a rarely talked about side of the story.

In addition, Janssen and Banning published al book, “Shame and Innocence: The Suppressed War Chronicles of Indonesia’s Comfort Women,” in both English and Dutch.

Banning also published book of his photographs, “Comfort Women.”

“I so much wanted to be ugly because the ugly girls they quickly sent away. But the beautiful ones had to stay.” These words accompany the portrait of Emah, from Kuningan, West Java.

The photo shows an old woman wearing a black blouse with purple flowers and a serious look on her wrinkled face. The two sentences sum up the horror and desperation she still feels to this day.

Even though she later got married, Emah was never able to have children of her own.

Even without the accompanying text, the women’s portraits, which exude pain and sadness, speak for themselves.

Janssen said the project was not easy to complete. Finding the women was difficult, and once they were located, some were unwilling to talk about their experiences. Many others had already passed away.

“We had to approach them discretely because feelings of shame remain severe,” Janssen said. “Often, they couldn’t bring themselves to say the word rape, were reduced to nervous giggling and called it ‘forced adultery’ or ‘doing it.’

“Even in their 80s, some women still face abusive sneers,” she added.

“As much as they would like to erase the traces of their wartime history, they drag it along all their lives: the humiliation and pain, their childless existence, the failed marriages.”

But despite the topic’s sensitive nature, Janssen felt that bringing it into the open was the right thing to do.

“While [these women] struggle with the physical and emotional impacts, the Japanese perpetrators have gone free,” she said. “The circle of silence needs to be broken, the voices of the women no longer suppressed.”

Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan), who opened the exhibition last week, agreed that it was time to shed light on this issue.

“The great characters that emerge before us through these portraits are women who had the courage to share personal experiences of sexual violence that have been undermining their lives for over six decades,” she said.

“They have raised their voices not only to demand a formal apology and compensation; they broke the silence to prevent future generations of women from falling victim to similar acts of sexual violence.”

According to Banning, it is estimated that there were at least 200,000 comfort women in Asia, with 20,000 in Indonesia. He previously worked on a similar project about men who suffered abuse as forced laborers on the Burma and Sumatra railways during the war.

“A lot of the men had trouble talking about this experience,” he recalled. “They felt humiliated and ashamed.”

He added that the comfort women would have felt the same way, even worse. “In fact, we also tried to include Dutch [comfort] women in this project,” he said. “Out of the estimated 200 to 400 [Dutch comfort] women, only a handful have ever come out in the open.”

Yuniyanti said: “The fate of comfort women forms an integral part of our national history. Not only does it concern a period that is a crucial part of the Indonesian independence story, the issues related to comfort women are also still relevant today. This is evident in the way in which this sensitive issue was suppressed and shelved by the New Order regime [of former President Suharto].”

She said the stories of comfort women were kept secret because they were seen as tarnishing the nation’s honor. She added that the same thing has been happening for the last four decades regarding cases of sexual violence against women.

The issue of the May 1998 riots, when women of Chinese descent became victims of mass rape and sexual attacks, has been largely ignored until now, Yuniyanti said.

“While praising the 1998 events as a starting point for the democratization process in Indonesia, the May 1998 tragedy itself is only mentioned as a mere riot, ignoring the faces of the grieving mothers who lost their children and the women who are not able to talk about their personal experiences without risking being criticized for undermining Indonesia’s reputation,” she said.

“Female victims of sexual violence are also being silenced by their own families and communities, as they prioritize safety and want to avoid the disgrace and cultural shame attached to the ‘sins’ of these women.”

The physical and psychological harm that these women have experienced can never be undone. Nevertheless, their stories need to be told.

“I think we do not only live for ourselves,” Banning said. “I think we should try to play a role in society with whatever means we have. We wanted to bring this story to the surface.”

"Build the mosque a bit further away"

RNW, 2 August 2010 - 3:48pm | By Reinout van Wagtendonk

(photo: flickr/mirandas)

Plans for a new mosque near Ground Zero have raised a storm of protest in the United States. The mosque is controversial because the site is very close to the place where Islamic terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001. An increasing number of prominent Republicans are using the mosque as a weapon against President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

"On September 11th they declared war against us and to celebrate that murder of three thousand Americans they want to build a monstrous, thirteen story mosque on Ground Zero".

There have been sharp attacks against plans for a 100-million dollar Islamic community centre and mosque just a stone's throw from Ground Zero. Republicans are using the issue to score points against their rivals and it has given them a lift in the latest opinion polls.

"The political class says nothing, the politicians are doing nothing to stop it. But we Americans will be heard," says the voiceover in a television advert for a Republican pressure group; in between images of Osama bin Laden, the burning World Trade Center and terrorists spraying bullets from a machine gun, a photograph of President Barack Obama slides by.

The major US TV networks have refused to air the advert; the portrayal of all Muslims as the enemy has been deemed offensive. However, prominent Republicans such as Sarah Palin continued to hammer away at the controversy in similar terms.


Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, called it "a calculated provocation. They know exactly what they're doing".

"This is a political act for the purpose of saying worldwide: 'we're winning, the Americans are losing and they are too dumb to even know they're in a war".

Opinion polls say that a significant majority of the US public is opposed to the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero. There are very few Democrats that support the community centre and mosque. Republicans are exploiting the issue in the election battle for the governorship of New York. Republicans have demanded that the Democratic candidate - currently the favourite to win in November - make his standpoint on the issue known. But Andrew Cuomo, along with Democrats fighting marginal seats, has refused to say a word.

Mayor Bloomberg

One of the very few prominent politicians brave enough to come out in favour of the mosque is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Last year, New Yorkers celebrated tolerance and freedom of religion in the city founded by the Dutch 400 years ago.

"Everything the United States stands for and New York stands for is tolerance and openness".

Why build it here, at Ground Zero, asked a leading Jewish organisation, which specialises in religious tolerance. The Anti-Defamation League finally announced its opposition to the mosque at Ground Zero: Director Abraham Foxman said, "Build it five blocks up the road".


New York City already has about 100 mosques; it is more than likely that the protests stem from the location, not the mosque itself. However, the hue and cry is music to Republican ears; they hope to profit from the controversy and win a majority in Congress in November's mid-term elections.

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