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. …

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Catholics pray for Muslims on holiday travels

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Sun, 08/28/2011

The congregation of one Catholic church is offering prayers for the safe travels of Muslims on the road for the holiday.

“We pray for everyone's safety - especially for those who are right now struggling to reach their hometowns to celebrate Idul Fitri,” said a priest at St. Bartholomew church in Bekasi during mass on Sunday as quoted by

In an annual tradition, Pope Benedict XVI is expected to offer greetings to all Muslims on the first day of Idul Fitri.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Indonesian Sharia police separate Aceh lesbian couple

BBC News, By Alice Budisatrijo, Jakarta, 25 August 2011

Related Stories 

Islamic police in the Indonesian province of Aceh have forced two women to have their marriage annulled and sign an agreement to separate.

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia to
apply Sharia law
The women had been legally married for a few months after one of them passed as a man in front of an Islamic cleric who presided over their wedding.

But suspicious neighbours confronted the couple and reported them to police.

The two women are now back with their families, forcibly separated and under surveillance by the Islamic police.

The local Sharia police chief told them Islam said they must be beheaded and burned for what they had done.

But Aceh, the only province in Indonesia that is allowed to implement Sharia law, has yet to adopt any provisions dealing with gay and lesbian people.

The provincial parliament passed Islamic laws authorising the stoning to death of adulterers and the caning of homosexuals in 2009, but the governor has refused to sign it.

Homosexuality is frowned upon but legal in Indonesia.

Activists have blamed Aceh's Sharia laws for encouraging vigilantism and intolerance, and say they violate the Indonesian constitution.

About the Challenges of Being a Gay Man – Oct 23, 2010 (Saint Germain channelled by Alexandra Mahlimay and Dan Bennack) - “You see, your Soul and Creator are not concerned with any perspective you have that contradicts the reality of your Divinity – whether this be your gender, your sexual preference, your nationality – or your race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or anything else.”

"The Akashic System" – Jul 17, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Religion, God, Benevolent 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.)  New !

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Papuan souvenirs, songs feature in Independence Day ceremony at palace

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Wed, 08/17/2011

The presidential palace distributed Papua-themed souvenirs during the ceremony to commemorate Indonesia’s 66th Independence Day on the palace’s front lawn.

Each guest attending the ceremony received a goody bag containing a Papua-themed T-shirt, mug and book, as well as a collection of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s speeches and a few snacks, among other things.

Papuan songs by a choir, which included a number of Papuans, also greeted guests as they arrived at the palace.

Demands for Papua’s independence have escalated recently after thousands of Papuans across the province staged coordinated rallies to call for a referendum on Papuan independence.

The Independence Day ceremony at the palace was led by President Yudhoyono, reported

Indigenous Indonesians fear forest sell-off

Deutsche Welle, 15 Aug 2011  

Villagers protest against visitors
to their forest
The Indonesian government needs the support of its indigenous peoples to reforest its devastated woods. But they have become suspicious of visitors examining trees. They fear a sell-off to foreign investors.

Angry villagers shout, clench their fists and wave banners at a group of international visitors who have come to see the Mejet Forest on the northern part of the Indonesian island of Lombok.

This isn't the reception that the visitors were expecting. The international collection of forestry officials and NGO experts came with good intentions – to take part in a conference aimed at forest conservation. 

They want to visit a successful project, but the villagers are disgruntled and suspicious. They believe the tour is aimed at stirring interest among potential foreign investors, looking to buy land.

This has often been the case in the past.

After much to and fro, the forest tour is cancelled. Instead, visitors and villagers meet with the local regent.

A life-long affinity

This is where disputes are traditionally settled, and the villagers become calm.

They hear about the visitors' true motives - to learn. It's something the villagers are happy to address: They fear for their livelihood and many have invested a lot to make use of the forest.

The villagers want to protect the
forest for their children
Using the forest is something the villagers take for granted, but it is considered a big problem for the Indonesian government.

The Indonesian forest ministry estimates that there are about 33,000 villages located on or nearby forested areas owned by the state.

According to the law, they are using the forest illegally, even though they have been living there for many generations.

In order to solve the problem, the Indonesian government has offered to lease the forest to the indigenous population.

The local villagers get the right to use a particular woodland in return for committing to take care of it. 

But what happens if the forest used is also part of a wildlife sanctuary or a traditional site?

Protecting the forest from within

At the foot of Rinjai, the second highest vulcano in Indonesia, lies the village Santong and the Santong Forest.

A trail leads deeper into the forest. It is bordered by tall trees rising to the sky. They serve as a protective shield for coffee, banana and vanilla plants.

The locals grow coffee and vanilla
in the Santong Forest
To boost reforestation, the population here uses agroforestry, a combination of agricultural and forestry techniques, since 1996. The forest covers about 221 hectares, but the indigenous people are allowed to use just 140 hectares, as the remainder is protected landscape. About 260 families live on the forest's yield.

Everything appears to be in harmony. But there are areas of conflict, according to Masidep, a representative of the local Lombok tribe Sasak.

"Most of them think about profit only," Masidep says. But for the indigenous people, the forest's protection is of much higher value. "We need to conserve the forest and also water resources, because water is giving life. Everyone needs to respect that," he says.

Traditional custodians

The Sasak tribe is an ethnic group that makes up 85 percent of the inhabitants on the Indonesian island Lombok.

Masidep is proud to announce that he can track his line of ancestry back to the 17th Century. In this area, the Sasak clans have been guarding the forest for centuries. Traditionally, the Rangga family is responsible for protecting the forest, says Rangga Topan Yamanullah.

The Sasaks can prove that they have been living in Lombok for a very long time. "There are traditions about old rituals: If you enter the forest, you have to clean yourself first. There are certain days and times, when it is favorable to go. It was different from today," Rangga Topan Yamanullah says.

"Today, it is only considered important what individuals are earning. We on the other hand are here to conserve the balance of the world." 

This river is a sacred site
for the Sasak
The Sasaks feel that preserving the forest is part of their life-task. But of all the people using Santong Forest, only a third are Sasak. Most are migrants from elsewhere in Indonesia. The Sasaks hope that the Indonesian government will provide them with the same rights to use the forest as the rest of the population.

But they also expect the government to protect their sacred sites and prevent the forests from being turned into just another source of production for the economy.  

A race against time

The Santong Forest example shows that a lot of problems remain unresolved. Who owns the right to use the forest, where are the borders that separate one forest from another, and how can the local population help promote conservation without suffering economic loss?

The Indonesian government has yet to answer these questions.

And time is running out: Indonesia loses a million hectare of forest per year, despite introducing a two-year moratorium on cutting down trees.

International surveys show that the best stewards are those people who have been living within the forest for generations. So it makes sense for the Indonesian government to team up with the indigenous community.

Erna Rosdiana from the Directorate of Social Forestry Development says the forest ministry is working on solutions. The visit to Lombok has opened her eyes to many of the problems. She says she plans to return with something to show, and hopes for a warmer reception next time around. 

Author: Ziphora Robina /sst
Editor: Nathan Witkop

Sunday, August 14, 2011

First Lady to receive medal of honor

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 08/12/2011

First Lady Ani Yudhoyono is scheduled to receive medal of honor as part of Indonesia’s 66th anniversary celebrations, presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha says.

First Lady Ani Yudhoyono
Ani is to be awarded the Adipradana medal of honor, Julian said Friday as quoted by Antara.

The medal presentation ceremony will be held at the State Palace at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to present the award, along with other medals.

Aside from Ani, Julian said, the government will also present medals of honor to 30 figures, including People's Consultative Assembly chairman Taufiq Kiemas, former first lady Shinta Abdurrahman Wahid, and the wife of the former vice president, Mufidah Jusuf Kalla.

Julian added that the government would also award two medals of honor of another kind to former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie.

“However, we haven't received any information on who will represent her,” Julian said, referring to Sri Mulyani, who currently serves as a managing director of the World Bank.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Crafting a new future for the Dayak and Bajau people

Jakarta Globe, Ade Mardiyati, August 13, 2011         

Related articles

As the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People was celebrated this week, the United Nations called on all countries to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples through this year’s theme, “Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our own future.”

Handbags and textiles made by Kalimantan
people. (JG Photo: Courtesy of Ng Swan Ti)  
Indigenous peoples are defined by the United Nations as nondominant ethnic groups with a claim to historical continuity in their ancestral lands, who often suffer discrimination and marginalization by groups who have occupied their lands through invasion, colonial rule or political dominance.

There are around 5,000 recognized indigenous groups around the world, whose members make up around 5 percent of the world’s population.

In Indonesia, the Dayak and Bajau peoples of Kalimantan are included under this definition.

“[Indigenous peoples] have their land but are often displaced. They end up at the very bottom of society without any skills,” Michele Zaccheo, director of the United Nations Information Center in Jakarta, said at a video screening and discussion at the Goethe-Institut on Tuesday.

Zaccheo shared a message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the event, saying that indigenous peoples “face many challenges in maintaining their identity, traditions and customs, and their cultural contributions are at times exploited and commercialized, with little or no recognition.”

“We must work harder to recognize and strengthen their right to control their intellectual property, and help them to protect, develop and be compensated fairly for the cultural heritage and traditional knowledge that is ultimately of benefit to us all,” the secretary general’s message read.

A 30-minute documentary called “Kalimantan’s Craft: Harmony of Culture and Nature,” by filmmaker Nanang Sujana, was screened at the UN headquarters in New York and in all member countries around the world to mark the international day of recognition.

The film shows the life of the indigenous Dayak people in Kalimantan, who depend on the natural resources around them for their livelihoods. With skills that have been passed down from generation to generation, the Dayak people produce artistic crafts including woven baskets, handbags and textiles, all using natural materials.

Agus Sardjono, an expert on intellectual property from the University of Indonesia, said a community’s rights to its own creative products should be recognized.

“When creating a product, indigenous people in villages don’t actually think about intellectual property. But when other people run a business selling similar products using their designs and make a profit, that’s when they begin to think about it,” Agus said.

Often, he added, people outside the community care more about this problem than the indigenous people.

“It’s people in general, like us, who are very concerned when we see certain people take advantage of a culture’s creativity, but without sharing the benefits,” Agus said.

Yayasan Dian Tama, a West Kalimantan-based foundation, has been working with the indigenous Dayak people since 1994 to help make sure they benefit financially from the products of their labor.

“Basically they have the skills. So what we do is provide them with training on how to make better products, set up standards to meet the demands of the market, and also help maintain quality control,” said Tri “Alty” Renya Altaria Siswanto, an adviser for the foundation. “At the same time, we also teach them how to preserve the natural sources from which they take the materials.”

Alty said the organization employed a “punishment and reward” system to encourage the Dayak people to create high-quality products. This, she said, is a way to appreciate the knowledge and skills of the indigenous people themselves.

“We told them that the better the quality, the better the prices, and vice versa,” she said. “And they are now able to produce high-quality products, sold under the brand Borneo Chic. We are also currently participating in an exhibition at Harrods [department store] in the UK.”

Alty said, however, that the production of better-quality products had not changed the people’s economic situation, because they still needed to improve their marketing.

“But we have achieved a very important thing, which is getting [the Dayak people’s] traditional knowledge and creative rights recognized by people outside their community,” she said.

Related Article:

Jambi Village Discovers Treasure Trove in Dutch-Era Safe

Jakarta Globe, August 13, 2011

Residents of Koto Baru Hiang village in Kerinci district, Jambi, said on Friday that they had unearthed a veritable treasure trove of World War II-era money from an old safe.

Ahmad Nasril, the village head, said the discovery was made when the safe, which had been sitting unused in the village hall as long as anyone could remember, was opened during recent renovation work.

“The safe had always just been hidden away in a room in the village hall that people believed was haunted by a ghost, because it was always so dark,” he said.

The safe’s rediscovery came after the village received funding to renovate the hall, itself a relic of the Dutch colonial era. Part of the work involved fixing up a section of the ceiling that had collapsed in the very room where the safe was located.

“When we finally brought the safe out into the light of day, we used the chance to prize it open,” Nasril said. “That’s when we found several bundles of old money from the Japanese colonial era.”

The Japanese occupation of Indonesia lasted from 1942 until the end of the war in 1945.

Nasril said that while the money did not bear any dates for when it was printed, it could be tracked to the Japanese occupation because it read: “ De Japansche Regeering Betaalt Toonder Half Gulden ,” or “The Japanese Government Will Pay the Bearer Half a Guilder.”

However, he said the total value of the money remained unknown because many of the notes had been damaged by mold, attributed to a half-century of humidity and rainwater leaking into the safe.

Nasril said the safe also contained documents with the old Indonesian spelling, including a notice decreeing the implementation of a livestock tax, dated July 1, 1947.

“This particular document shows just how compliant the Kerinci people were about paying taxes back then, even if it was to an occupying authority,” he said.

The village hall had been used as an administrative office by the Dutch, who reoccupied the archipelago shortly after the Japanese left in 1945. Later it was used as a center for the traditional rulers of the district.

Nasril said the money and documents would be stored at his house for safekeeping while the Kerinci administration was notified about the discovery.

“This is clearly a very significant find for us, especially coming so close to Independence Day, when we look back at our history,” he said.


Australian project hunts lost indigenous languages

BBC News, 12 August 2011

Indigenous communities number under half a million in today's Australia

Related Stories 

Librarians in Australia have launched a three-year project to rediscover lost indigenous languages.

The New South Wales State Library says fragments of many lost languages exist in papers left by early settlers.

Before British colonialisation began there in 1788, around 250 aboriginal languages were spoken in Australia by an estimated one million people.

Only a few dozen languages remain and the communities number around 470,000 people in a nation of 22 million.

'Unrivalled' accounts

"A nation's oral and written language is the backbone to its culture," said the Arts Minister of New South Wales, George Souris.

"The preservation of the languages and dialects of our indigenous citizens is a very important project in this regard."

Noelle Nelson, the acting chief executive of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, which is backing the project, said the settlers' first-hand accounts at the State Library are "unrivalled".

"These first-hand accounts are often the only surviving records of many indigenous languages," Nelson told the AFP news agency.

"The project will introduce and reconnect people with indigenous culture."

An Australian government survey in 2004 found that only 145 indigenous languages were still spoken in Australia and that 110 of these were severely or critically endangered.

Brazil's indigenous protection service says the area threatened by drug
 traffickers has 'the greatest concentration of isolated groups the world'.
Photograph: Gleison Miranda/AFP/Getty Images

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Academics call for end to military approach in Papua

Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 08/11/

A group of 18 professors from the country’s top universities released a statement Thursday calling on the government to use dialogue instead of military force to address problems in Papua.

The so-called Academic Forum for a Peaceful Papua said separatism was not a standalone problem in Papua and therefore deploying military troops would never bring to an end the conflicts ravaging the region.

“Using guns will never solve the problem because the issues are not only about separatism. The complexity of the problems in Papua involve many other factors including history, politics, economics, sociocultural issues and of course welfare. Papua’s issues cannot be simplified to only separatism,” the group said in a statement sent to The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

To address such a complex problems, the academics said, peaceful dialogue must be used. “Only by using dialogue we can root out the problems in Papua and find the best way to solve them,” they said.

The group includes Padang State University’s Mestika Zed, Hasanuddin University’s Arfin Hamid, Gajah Mada University’s Purwo Santoso, and University of Indonesia’s Muridan S. Widjojo.

Last week, a string of deadly events took place across Papua while thousands of Papuans rallied to demand a referendum.

Clashes between supporters of candidates for regent of newly Puncak regency claimed at least 21 lives followed by the killing of four people by gunfire and machetes in the provincial capital of Jayapura.

The Indonesian Military has, as always, blamed the violence partly on the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

Bali bombing suspect extradited to Indonesia

The Jakarta Post, Niniek Karmini, Associated Press, Jakarta

Top dog: In this 2007 file photo obtained by the Associated
Press  from a Philippine security official, Indonesian militant
 Umar Patek addresses fellow militants in an Abu Sayyaf mountain
 encampment on Jolo island in southern Philippines. Patek had a
US$1 million bounty on his head when he was captured in the
Pakistani town of Abbottabad Jan. 25, four months before Osama bin
Laden was killed there in a US commando attack. (AP/File)

An Indonesian militant who allegedly made the explosives used in the 2002 Bali bombings was escorted home under tight security Thursday, more than six months after he was captured in northwest Pakistan.

Umar Patek had a $1 million bounty on his head when authorities caught up with him Jan. 25 in Abbottabad - the same town where Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. commando attack four months later.

Indonesia's anti-terrorism chief, Ansyaad Mbai, told The Associated Press it did not appear to be a coincidence that they were in the same place.

"It's further evidence of the link between the Southeast Asian terror network and al-Qaida," he added, hours before the 41-year-old boarded an Indonesian plane sent to a Pakistani air force base.

Patek touched down outside Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, on Thursday morning and was taken straight to a police detention center in the West Java town of Kelapa Dua where he will await trial, he said. No date has been announced.

Indonesian officials say Patek has confessed to playing a key role in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, many of them foreign tourists, including 88 Australians.

He also admitted to making the bombs used in a string of Christmas Eve attacks on churches in 2000 that claimed 19 lives, they say.

But because tough anti-terror laws passed after the Bali blasts cannot be applied retroactively, he will likely be charged with illegal possession of explosives, Mbai said.

Even though that charge also carries a maximum penalty of death, there are concerns he might get off easy.

Indonesia, the nation with the most Muslims in the world, has been hit by a string of terrorist attacks blamed on Patek's regional militant group, Jemaah Islamiyah, but none as deadly as the Bali blasts.

A highly praised anti-terrorism campaign in the country of 240 million has seen hundreds of suspects arrested and convicted in recent years, but Patek is one of the biggest to have been captured alive.

His arrest in Abbottabad raised questions over whether he was there to meet bin Laden, something that would challenge theories that the al-Qaida chief was cut off from his followers.

U.S officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the issue, have said it appeared to be a coincidence.

But Mbai countered that Wednesday.

Several other militants - from Asia and Europe to the Middle East - also were arrested in the same region of northwest Pakistan at the time of Patek's arrest, he said.

They had gathered there in hopes of meeting bin Laden, but it was not clear if they'd succeeded or were planning a new terror strike.

"Patek was very valuable for the U.S.," Mbai said. "He helped lead authorities to bin Laden."

Related Articles:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Are You There God? Kids Share Their Beliefs

Jakarta Globe, Ade Mardiyati, August 02, 2011

Putu Ambalita Pitaloka Arsana, 5, is a Hindu who says she prays
everyday in the hopes that God will give her a baby brother. (JG Photo)

Related articles

With the start of the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims across the country are fasting, praying and reflecting on their spiritual lives. The Jakarta Globe talked to five youngsters to learn more about the next generation’s religious views and what God means to them.

From praying for a little brother to praying in different places of worship, these children open up about their personal beliefs. Coming from different religious backgrounds, their views offer an interesting glimpse into our diverse multifaith society.

Abdul Rafi Ramadhan, 10, 4th grader

I am Muslim and I believe in God. I don’t know what or who God is but I believe. From what I learned in pengajian (Koranic studies), God created the earth and the sky, the whole universe.

My teacher said that God is invisible and does not come in a form or shape.

I went to pengajian from 2007 to 2010. It was my mother who told me to learn how to read and study the Koran outside of school so that I would do well in the subject [at school].

My father doesn’t work. My mother earns money by working at people’s homes washing their clothes to pay for my school and the pengajian. I work in the evening selling celengan [piggy banks] here in Menteng with other kids. I have a little brother.

I enjoyed my activities at the pengajian because I made a lot of friends there. Another reason is because I want to go to heaven. My teacher taught us about heaven and hell, and he said that you have to pray five times a day and read the Koran, otherwise you will go to hell. But I haven’t prayed lately because I don’t have a sarong to wear.

I also have non-Muslim friends. You can tell which of my friends are not Muslims from their nails. They usually paint their nails black.

Putu Ambalita Pitaloka Arsana, 5, 1st grader

I am Hindu. I believe in God because God is nice. God is nice because I know he can give me a baby brother.

Every day I pray to God at the prayer place upstairs in our home. I have to take the stairs to go there. I don’t know what I say in my prayers but I just say what I want.

I have friends who are not Hindu. They are Muslim and Catholic. I think people have to pray to let God know that we are talking to God.

I also make a wish before I go to sleep. I usually make a wish for my father, my mother and for the baby brother that I really want to have. I don’t have any other wish when I pray. I just want to have a baby brother.

Arif Yunando, 14, 2nd year junior high

If you ask me what my religion is, I don’t know. My father is Buddhist, my mother is Catholic and I go to a Christian school where I only learn about Christianity.

My parents never taught me about religion because they think it is enough that I study about one religion at school. But maybe if I had to choose one, I would choose to become a Christian because that is what I have learned about so far.

I may not have a religion but I believe that God exists. It is all said in the Bible. I go to church by myself, but I also go to temple a lot. I pray when I am in both places and what I say in my prayers is pretty much the same. But when I pray at the temple, I speak in Mandarin a little bit.

In my prayers, I ask God to give me the ability to do well at school, I ask for a lot of good friends and I also ask God to protect me so I don’t get yelled at too much by my mother and older brother [laughs].

I think it is important for people to have a religion because it is part of them being human. A person is not complete without religion. When you don’t have a religion, you only have the bod, but you have no soul. The body decays while the soul is immortal.

Lucy Vicendese, 10, 4th grader

I don’t have a religion and I don’t believe in God. I don’t know what God is. Maybe a spirit or something like that. I don’t know. I just don’t believe in that kind of stuff.

I have friends at school who are religious. They are Muslims and Christians.

I have been to a Catholic church. I went there with my friend about a month ago.

Muhammad Hilmy, 12, 1st year junior high

Religion is our belief toward God. I am a Muslim. If you ask me why I am a Muslim, it is because Islam is the religion that I have known since I was a kid. I also learned about Islam at school. I go to an Islamic school and so does my little sister.

I believe in God because God is the one that created all the living things and the universe. Yet I have never imagined what God is like. God does exist but doesn’t have a shape. There is proof for that. We have the moon, the sun, human beings and the earth.

My parents taught me and my sister about Islam. They taught us how to pray by showing us the movements, and they taught us how to read the Koran. My parents also expect me to finish reading whole chapters [in the Koran] and I’ve done that already.

My parents told us that prayer is compulsory. It is a must and it is not right if you don’t do it. It is a sin. They also said that we go to hell if we don’t pray.

My father always emphasizes the importance of religion. There are also people with different religions from what we believe and that is OK. People who fight because other people have a different religion don’t respect the rights of others. We should all live in peace no matter what others believe.