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, July 29, 2016

Indonesia executes foreign convicts despite protests

Yahoo – AFP, Muhammad Azka, July 28, 2016

Indonesian men light candles during an anti-execution rally in front of the
presidential palace in Jakarta on July 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)

Cilacap (Indonesia) (AFP) - Indonesia Friday executed four drug convicts, three of them foreigners, by firing squad, an official said, drawing swift condemnation as Jakarta pushes on with its tough campaign of capital punishment.

Ten others expected to have faced the firing squad, including nationals from Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe as well as Indonesians, were not put to death but officials said they would be executed at a later stage.

Authorities did not give a reason for the reprieve, but the prison island where they were expected to be executed in outdoor clearings was hit by a major storm as the other sentences were carried out.

The executions, which saw an Indonesian and three Nigerians face the firing squad, were the first in the country since April last year when authorities put to death eight drug convicts, including two Australians.

President Joko Widodo has defended dramatically ramping up the use of capital punishment, saying that Indonesia is fighting a war on drugs and traffickers must be heavily punished.

Noor Rachmad, deputy attorney general for general crimes, said the latest executions were "done not in order to take lives but to stop evil intentions, and the evil act of drug trafficking".

He added that "the rest (of the executions) will be carried out in stages", saying that the timings had not yet been decided.

Amnesty International condemned the executions, with the group's Rafendi Djamin labelling them "a deplorable act".

"Any executions that are still to take place must be halted immediately. The injustice already done cannot be reversed, but there is still hope that it won't be compounded," he said.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the European Union had also voiced opposition to the plan in recent days.

Friday's executions, which happened at 12:45 am (1745 GMT Thursday), came after a day of frenetic activity, with distraught relatives travelling to Nusakambangan island to say farewells to their loved ones and ambulances carrying coffins over to the heavily guarded penal colony.

Relatives carry photographs of Pakistani national Zulfiqar Ali, who was 
sentenced to death in 2005 for heroin possession in Indonesia, during a 
protest in Lahore on July 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/Arif Ali)

Execution drive

The executed Indonesian was named as Freddy Budiman, while the three Nigerians were: Seck Osmane, Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke and Michael Titus Igweh.

Eleweke's lawyer, Afif Abdul Qoyim, told AFP the execution should not have gone ahead as his client this week filed a legal appeal.

"When this process in not respected, that means that this is no longer a country that upholds the law, nor human rights," he said.

Two people whose cases had raised high-profile international concern among rights groups were not executed.

The first was Pakistani Zulfiqar Ali, whom rights groups say was beaten into confessing to the crime of heroin possession, leading to his 2005 death sentence.

Syed Zahid Raza, the deputy Pakistani ambassador in Indonesia, hailed his reprieve as a victory and said it was due to diplomatic efforts in Jakarta and Islamabad.

The other was Indonesian woman Merri Utami, who was caught with heroin in her bag as she came through Jakarta airport and claims she was duped into becoming a drug mule.

At Cilacap, the city closest to Nusakambangan, family members were initially shocked to learn on Thursday morning their relatives would be executed in a matter of hours, having initially thought it would take place a day later.

Some distressed relatives protested their loved ones' innocence, while 10 women's rights activists rallying in support of Utami were detained.

It was the third batch of executions under Widodo, and means 18 drug convicts -- mostly foreigners -- have been put to death since he became leader in 2014.

His execution drive has shocked the international community and disappointed activists, particularly as hopes were high that Widodo, seen as a fresh face in a political world dominated by figures from Indonesia's authoritarian past, would improve the country's rights record.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Australian couple to raffle tropical island resort

Yahoo – AFP, July 25, 2016

An Australian couple are raffling their tropical resort on a remote Micronesian island,
hoping whoever holds the winning US$49 ticket loves warm weather (AFP Photo/
Claudine Wery)

Sydney (AFP) - An Australian couple are raffling their tropical island resort and say they hope whoever holds the winning US$49 ticket loves warm weather.

Doug and Sally Beitz moved to the remote Micronesian island of Kosrae in the 1990s, but now want to return to Australia to enjoy being grandparents.

Instead of selling their 16-room Kosrae Nautilus Resort to a corporate bidder, they have made it the first prize in a raffle -- to be drawn on Tuesday with tickets at US$49 each.

"We've tried to market it in a way where we are attracting people like ourselves," Doug Beitz told AFP on Monday.

The former firefighter said he was hoping the winner would be "someone who likes warm weather, likes meeting new people from around the world, is adventurous".

"It's a big life change," he admits of living on the tropical island, which lies north of the Solomon Islands and southwest of Hawaii and is home to about 6,500 people.

The competition website says the resort, which is popular for diving and fishing, is debt-free and profitable, and has US$10,000 cash in the business bank account.

The prize includes the manager's four-bedroom residence, five rental cars, two 10-seater vans, a pick-up truck and the resort restaurant, it adds.

The Beitz family originally said a minimum of 50,000 tickets would need to be sold for the contest to go ahead but they removed this requirement after the raffle began attracting global interest.

Doug and Sally's son Adam said it was his idea to stage a raffle to allow someone else the chance to live in paradise and run their own business.

"Everyone has crazy ideas, this one just wouldn't leave me alone," he told Australia's Channel 7 earlier this month.

"The thought of selling it in a traditional way is really boring."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

International People's Tribunal Declares Indonesia Responsible for 1965-1966 Mass Killings

The military-backed purge against Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and their sympathizers paved the way for the rise of former President Suharto's New Order regime. (Antara/M Agung Rajasa)

Jakarta Globe, Edo Karensa, July 21, 2016

Jakarta. The International People’s Tribunal in the Hague declared on Wednesday (20/07) that Indonesia was responsible for committing crimes against humanity during the 1965-1966 mass killings which killed between 500,000 to one million suspected communists.

The military-backed purge against Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and their sympathizers paved the way for the rise of former President Suharto's New Order regime.

The final verdict of an international panel of judges stated Indonesia must be held accountable for ten gross human rights violations that happened in 1965-1966, including genocide against members, followers and sympathizers of the PKI and supporters of President Soekarno as well as members of the Indonesian National Party, or PNI.

“The State of Indonesia is responsible for and guilty of crimes against humanity consequent upon the commission and perpetration, particularly by the military of that state through its chain of command, of the inhumane acts,” presiding judge Zak Yacoob stated in the final report released on Wednesday.

Besides mass killings, the other gross human rights violations committed by the state according to the tribunal were destruction, imprisonment, slavery, torture, forced disappearance, sexual violence, banishment, false propaganda, international complicity and genocide.

“All these acts were an integral part of a broad widespread systematic attack against the Indonesian Communist Party, its affiliate organizations, its leaders, members and supporters and their families,” Yacoob said, adding that the attacks were started with false propaganda.

According to Yacoob, the state is ultimately responsible for the inhumane actions of the military and its henchmen. “The State of Indonesia also failed to prevent the perpetration of these inhumane acts or to punish those responsible for their commission. To the extent that some crimes were committed independently of the authorities, by so-called “spontaneous” local action, this did not absolve the State from the obligation to prevent their occurrence and to punish those responsible,” he said.

Indonesia must apologize

At the end of the statement, Yacoob read a series of recommendations which called on the Indonesian government to “apologize to all victims, survivors and their families for all the crimes against humanity and other crimes committed in Indonesia in relation to the 1965 events.”

The recommendations also included a call to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes and ensure appropriate compensation and reparation to victims and survivors.

The tribunal also urged all relevant authorities to push for the government to act swiftly to resolve the longstanding problem. Specifically, the Attorney General should follow up a report released by the National Commission of Human Rights in 2012 which recommended investigations into grave violations of human rights during the Communist pogrom.

The tribunal also demanded the government rehabilitate surviving victims of the purge, prevent further persecution against them by the authorities and protect all their rights as guaranteed by international and Indonesian law.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Amnesty Considered for Members of Santoso's Group: Chief Security Minister

Jakarta Globe, Robertus Wardi, July 21, 2016

Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the government may offer amnesty to
 the remaining members of the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) after the death of
its leader Santoso in a shootout with soldiers and police in Poso, Central Sulawesi
earlier this week. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)

Jakarta. The government may offer amnesty to the remaining members of the East Indonesia Mujahidin, or MIT, after the death of its leader Santoso in a shootout with soldiers and police in Poso, Central Sulawesi earlier this week.

The National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) are currently hunting for another 19 group members of the group and the amnesty will be offered if they surrender and refrain from putting up any resistance.

"If they would come out from the mountains, we will consider [giving them amnesty]. They are also Indonesian citizens," Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said in Jakarta on Thursday (21/07).

Luhut said that while the 19 remaining members are known to still be in the Poso region, the amnesty could be a preferred option to get them to surrender.

This option is realistic, as it will not require additional state expenses to look for the remaining members of the group and that it will also save their lives.

"It does not mean that we cannot adopt a tough approach. Santoso was killed for not responding to the soft approach," Luhut said.

Police carry a body bag at a local hospital in Palu, Indonesia's Sulawesi province,
on July 19, 2016, after a firefight between suspected Muslim extremists and
security forces in the village of Tambarana (AFP Photo/Olagondronk)

Related Article:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Indonesia's most wanted Islamist militant killed

Yahoo – AFP, Olivia Rondonuwu, Dessy Sagita, July 19, 2016

Police carry a body bag at a local hospital in Palu, Indonesia's Sulawesi province,
on July 19, 2016, after a firefight between suspected Muslim extremists and
security forces in the village of Tambarana (AFP Photo/Olagondronk)

Indonesia's most wanted Muslim extremist has been killed in a firefight with troops, authorities said Tuesday, ending a years-long hunt for the Islamic State (IS) group supporter.

Santoso, the leader of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen, was shot dead on Monday on mountainous Sulawesi island, where he had been hiding out in the jungle with a small band of followers.

His death is a major victory for authorities in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country who had pursued the extremist for five years, sending thousands of security forces to hunt for him.

His group carried out a string of deadly attacks on domestic security forces and was known for training militants from around the archipelago. In 2014 he pledged allegiance to IS and earlier this year was placed by the United States on a list of global terrorists.

"The group is obviously weakened now that we have got the leader," national police chief Tito Karnavian told reporters, as he confirmed the militant's death.

He said the country's extremists had wanted to transform Sulawesi's Poso district, where Santoso and his followers were based, into a "safe haven" and a regional power base.

"With this group broken, their hope for a base there is gone," he added.

After Indonesia suffered a string of Islamic extremist attacks in the early 2000s, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed more than 200, authorities launched a crackdown that weakened the most dangerous networks.

But Santoso's group remained a thorn in the side of the government, with the long-haired, gun-toting militant regularly appearing in videos urging extremists to launch attacks on the security forces.

After Indonesia suffered a string of Islamic extremist attacks in the early 2000s, 
authorities launched a crackdown that was credited with weakening the most
dangerous networks (AFP Photo)

Significant blow

The picture has changed recently, with other cells now considered a greater threat -- Santoso was not believed to have played role in an IS-claimed attack in Jakarta in January that left four attackers and four civilians dead.

But his death will still be seen as a significant blow to Islamic militancy in Indonesia.

The extremist, known by several aliases including Abu Wardah, was killed alongside one other militant in Tambarana village in Poso.

Police said the pair were killed beside a river and a rifle was recovered. Two women, one of whom was suspected to be Santoso’s wife, and another man, escaped from the gunfight.

Following a sustained campaign by security forces, authorities believe just 19 members of Santoso's group now remain on Sulawesi waging a guerrilla campaign against the government.

Santoso also attracted militants from abroad, with several members of China's mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority travelling to Indonesia to join his group.

Several were killed fighting with the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen, and in July last year four Uighurs were jailed after being caught on Sulawesi attempting to join the group.

Santoso became involved in Islamic extremism during bloody fighting between Muslims and Christians around Poso from the late 1990s to the early 2000s which left hundreds dead.

He went on to form the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen and quickly jumped to the top of the most wanted list after his men began killing police officers.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Horseback library serves Indonesia's remote readers

Yahoo – AFP, Nick Perry, July 15, 2016

Children sort through books on a shelf hanging from Luna the horse in Serang,
Indonesia's main island of Java (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

Astride his white mare, a wide-brimmed hat shielding his eyes, Ridwan Sururi looks more cowboy than librarian as he winds towards the hilltop village, his horse Luna saddled with books.

Their arrival sends ripples of excitement through Serang, a quiet hamlet fringed by rice fields and a volcano on Indonesia's main island of Java.

"The horse library!" children shriek, sprinting towards the mosque where Luna is tethered. Slung over her saddle are two handmade wooden boxes filled with books.

Ridwan Sururi, who runs a mobile library
 on horseback, selects books for villagers
to read in Serang (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)
For many there, this unique mobile library is their only link to books. There is no traditional library nearby, and stores are miles away in big cities. It's a problem for villages across the sprawling Indonesian archipelago.

Sururi, a 43-year-old professional horse groomer, devised a unique way to encourage reading in his district.

Armed with Luna, one of several horses under his care, and about 100 books donated from a friend, Sururi began road-testing his novel mobile library in early 2015, unsure if it would succeed.

It was a huge hit. In no time, the father of four was fielding requests from schools and villages further afield, eager crowds greeting him on arrival.

"The kids are always waiting for my horse and I," Sururi told AFP.

"Sometimes they even form a queue, waiting a very long time just to borrow a book."

Broadening horizons

In Serang, enthusiastic youngsters flick through picture books, young adult titles and even some classics in English.

Some shyly pet Luna while waiting their turn to browse. Sururi believes the gentle nature of his six-year-old mare helps attract children, and pique an early interest in the books.

For many in Serang, this unique mobile library is their only link to books 
(AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

"The horse makes me happy," said 10-year-old Arif, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, before settling in to read a book titled "Wild Animals".

But it's not just children discovering a love for reading via this charitable community library.

Adults are almost just as enthusiastic, many pausing work and emerging from their homes as Sururi and Luna pass through the narrow lanes of one village.

Seventeen-year-old Warianti, perusing titles alongside her elderly mothers, said villagers of all ages benefited from Sururi's visits, as most did not have time to source books elsewhere.

"The horse library helps increase the knowledge of local women through reading," she told AFP.

Adult literacy rates in Indonesia have climbed steadily in recent years, reaching nearly 96 percent in 2013, according to data from the ministry of education.

But some provinces remain far behind others. Central Java, where Sururi makes his rounds, is lagging in the bottom third nationwide.

Nearly five percent -- or close to one million -- adults in this mainly rural province remain illiterate. Sururi is aware of this, growing up in Central Java without access to a great deal of books.

But the altruistic stable hand never underestimated the importance of reading, leading to his free-of-charge mobile book loaning service.

"That's the aim of the horse library, so that everyone can broaden their horizons, gain knowledge, become more intelligent," he said.

Sense of pride

Outside his simple home, Sururi has cleared an area where he dreams of building a permanent library, one stocked with many books and -- perhaps one day -- a computer.

Nearly 5% -- or close to one million -- adults in mainly rural Central Java
province remain illiterate (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

But for now, everything is done by hand. The spines of all books are clearly labelled with a code for identification, and he keeps meticulous records so books are returned on time.

Like a conventional library, books can be borrowed free of charge but cannot be loaned forever.

In Serang, Sururi checks his notebook and tells one boy he needs to first return an outstanding title before loaning another. The young student sprints off home, returning a short while later clutching the forgotten item, relieved to see his pick of choice remains untouched on the shelf.

Once the flurry of borrowing is over, the children settle down in small circles, bearing their new books with pride as Sururi packs up for another week.

Soon the air is filled with the sound of dozens of children reading aloud, older pupils helping their younger friends with difficult words or phrases.

"When I see kids chasing my horse I feel so proud," Sururi said.

"I feel like I'm needed, and that's hugely satisfying."

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Kate Bush fans re-enact Wuthering Heights in Australia

Yahoo – AFP, July 16, 2016

Kate Bush fans gather to rehearse a dance before performing during a
celebration to mark 'The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever', in Melbourne, on
July 16, 2016 (AFP Photo/Paul Crock)

Melbourne (AFP) - Thousands of Kate Bush fans put on their best billowy red dresses and danced en masse in Melbourne Saturday to one of the singer's most iconic songs Wuthering Heights.

They donned matching red stockings and black wigs to mark The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever -- a re-enactment of the British star's classic 1978 debut music video in which she pirouettes and cartwheels in a misty field.

Bush's distinctive voice and performance-art–style videos gained a global cult following and in 2013 theatre group Shambush gathered nearly 300 Kate Bushes to recreate her iconic frolic in the English city of Brighton.

This inspired the Melbourne event, which has taken on a life of its own with similar dances also planned Saturday in 21 cities around the world, coordinator Douglas Leitch said, including Berlin, Oslo, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

"The whole idea really is just to get toregether and have fun and do our unique interpretation of the dance," the 44-year-old, who had an overwhelming response after advertising the day on Facebook, told AFP.

Kate Bush fans rehearse a dance before performing during a celebration to 
mark 'The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever', in Melbourne, on July 16, 2016
(AFP Photo/Paul Crock)

He said at least 800 dresses had been bought for the occasion, with dance classes booked out across Melbourne as people prepared. Organisers on Saturday estimated around 2,000 people, young and old, took part.

"It is such a unique song from a unique artist. It resonates with people and that's why it's lasted," added Leitch.

"I don't know if Kate knows it's happening, because she's a bit of a recluse, but I'm sure she might."

Related Article:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Tourism Ministry Steps Up Efforts to Draw More Foreign Visitors Beyond Bali

Jakarta Globe, Sarah Yuniarni, July 06, 2016

Mandalika resort on the island of Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, offers breathtaking
scenery consisting of beaches and lush rolling hills. (Antara Photo/Ahmad Subaidi)

Jakarta. The Ministry of Tourism has made it its top priority to attract at least 12 million foreign tourists to Indonesia, generating $12 billion in revenue, on the back of various marketing campaigns and the development of new destinations in the archipelago.

Last year, Indonesia missed its target of attracting at least 10 million foreign visitors, indicating that stronger efforts may be needed to achieve this year's target.

In order to achieve this, the tourism ministry has made several efforts to boost tourist arrivals by removing visa requirements for visitors from 47 countries, while also developing numerous destinations beyond Bali, the country's most popular island.

The ministry seeks to promote other destinations, which include Borobudur, a ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java; Mandalika resort on the island of Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, which offers breathtaking scenery, including beaches and lush rolling hills; and Labuhan Bajo, a fishing village in East Nusa Tenggara that serves as the launching point for trips to the islands of Komodo and Rinca, home to the highly endangered Komodo dragons.

There are also the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in East Java, which offers visitors a moonlike landscape consisting of an epic mountainous area and the Mount Bromo volcano; the Thousand Islands, a tourist destination situated just off the Jakarta coast, offering a beautiful chain of islands; and Toba Lake in North Sumatra, which offers breathtaking views of the archipelago's largest volcanic lake.

Other destinations also on the list this year include Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi, which offers marine biodiversity; the Tanjung Lesung resort in Banten, which is famous for beautiful views of clean white sand; Morotai on Maluku Island, which has beaches and forests; and Tanjung Kelayang in Bangka Belitung, which offers a unique panoramic view of its beaches.

"As the main priority, the tourism sector must be supported by infrastructure and transportation development in a bid to expedite the tourism target by 2019," Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said, as quoted by the ministry's official website.

He added that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is determined to see a greater contribution by the tourism sector to the country's gross domestic product in the next five years.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia increased significantly to 4.43 million between January and May this year, compared to the same time last year.

The top seven countries with the most tourists to visit Indonesia during this 2016 period are as follows:

1. Singapore

The BPS recorded more than 692,680 visitors from the city-state entering Indonesia through 19 major airports and ports between January and May this year, up 16.8 percent compared to the same period last year.

Singapore is also Indonesia's largest investor at $2.9 billion in the first quarter of this year.

2. China

The government seeks to attract 2.1 million Chinese tourists to Indonesia by the end of this year as the east Asian country has seen huge growth in the number of its citizens traveling abroad.

However, only 615,288 Chinese tourists visited Indonesia from January to May this year, representing an increase of 9.2 percent compared to the same period last year.

3. Malaysia

The number of Malaysian tourists to Indonesia amounted to 563,042 in this year's January-May period, up 3.46 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The two countries are seeking to renew a long-delayed border trade agreement in a bid to boost trade value between them, while also increasing economic activity in these areas.

4. Australia

A total of 471,967 Australians visited Indonesia during the January-May period, up 10.8 percent from the same period in a year ago.

Australia has also become one of Indonesia's main trading partners as the investment realization from Down Under amounted to $2,1 billion between 2010 and 2015. This is comprised of investment in the mining, chemical and infrastructure sectors, according to Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) data.

5. Japan

More than 136,666 Japanese citizens visited Indonesia between January and May, down 11 percent from the correspondent period last year.

Last year, Japanese investment in Indonesia amounted to $2.87 billion with a total of 2,030 projects, which provided employment to 115,400 people. It makes the country Indonesia's second-largest investor.

In the first quarter of this year, Japan invested $1.6 billion in Indonesia Japanese investment in Indonesia is spread out across several sectors, such as electronics, machinery, chemicals and pharmaceutical products.

6. India

The BPS recorded the arrival of only 36,882 Indian visitors between January and May, compared to 271,252 in the same period last year.

7. South Korea

The number of South Korean tourists arriving in Indonesia remained small at 33,845 in the January-May period, down 12 percent from the corresponding period last year.

However, the two countries signed an agreement to strengthen economic cooperation. South Korean investment in Indonesia was recorded at $1.2 billion in 2015, up 7.6 percent from a year earlier, which makes it Indonesia's sixth-largest foreign investor.

Honorable Mention

Countries that received honorable mention in the January-April period are Egypt, Bahrain, India, Britain and Germany, the tourism ministry said in a statement on its website.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

'Mosque-mobile' makes praying easier in gridlocked Jakarta

Yahoo – AFP, Kiki Siregar, 5 Jul 2016

Men offering prayers at a "mobile mosque" outside a sports complex in 
Jakarta (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

As the call to prayer rang out across the Indonesian capital, Sutikno faced a dilemma -- the devout Muslim needed to set off through Jakarta's notorious traffic to pick up his wife but did not want to miss out on worshipping.

However for him and others juggling the demands of hectic, 21st century life and piety in the crowded capital of the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, a solution has just pulled up.

The "mosque-mobile" started cruising through Jakarta in June as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan drew to a close, aiming to ensure Muslims did not miss out on prayers by setting up in busy places, such as near festivals and sports events.

Sutikno, a middle-aged office worker who like many Indonesians goes by one name, came across the van parked between a sports stadium and shopping malls, and it proved a godsend.

"I was supposed to go to a mosque that is quite far away but then I saw this one," he told AFP.

"I just parked my car and performed my prayers here. I can save time and go and pick up my wife faster."

The green and white van has been specially adapted to become a mobile place of worship. At prayer time, the sides of the vehicle open up and a small stage is extended, from which the imam preaches.

The "mosque-mobile" started cruising through Jakarta in June as the Islamic
holy month of Ramadan drew to a close (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

Prayer rugs are rolled out in front of the van, with space for up to 100 people, and a handful can worship inside the vehicle. It also provides special robes for women and a tank of water for the faithful to ritually cleanse themselves before praying.

The mosque started operating in Jakarta with a team of four in the final week of Ramadan, a month of fasting and piety, but plans to continue afterwards.

The van offers its services between 3:00 pm (0800 GMT) and 7:00 pm (1100 GMT) for two prayer sessions, at a time traffic is bad as millions flood out of downtown areas and head back to satellite cities. Muslims are supposed to pray five times a day.

During Ramadan, the crew running the Jakarta "mosque-mobile" also serve snacks to people stuck in gridlock when it is time to break their fast.

Overcrowded, traffic-choked cities

The van is run by the Archipelago Mosque Foundation, an organisation that sets up and maintains mosques, with funding provided by Adira Sharia, a group that provides Islamic-compliant financing for motor vehicles.

"We were concerned that there was a lack of places of worship at crowded spots such as music concerts, festivals and football games. Sometimes people intend to pray, but because there are no facilities, they skip it," said Hamzah Fatdri, director of the mosque foundation.

The Jakarta mosque-on-wheels has hit the streets after the foundation launched a mobile place of worship in the city of Bandung, southeast of the capital on the main island of Java.

The Bandung mosque proved a success, offering prayer sessions at 50 different locations in its first year of operation, and the foundation hopes the van in the capital -- which is slightly larger than the Bandung model -- can do even better.

The mobile mosque started operating in Jakarta with a team of four in the final 
week of Ramadan, but plans to continue afterwards (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

Indonesia is already home to some 800,000 mosques, including a large number in Jakarta and other major cities.

But with many people stuck in gridlock at prayer time -- particularly during Ramadan -- and ad hoc festivals and sports events typically failing to provide facilities for praying, the foundation believes the "mobile-mosque" will be a great help.

It is the latest innovation to offer relief to residents of Indonesia's booming but overcrowded, traffic-choked cities, where hundreds of new vehicles are hitting the roads every day as the middle class rapidly expands due to strong economic growth.

Motorbike taxi-hailing apps that whisk passengers quickly through the gridlock have been a chief beneficiary, and have expanded their businesses into other areas such as food delivery and courier services.

Still, some worshippers were not immediately taken by the mosque-on-wheels.

"Maybe because this was a new experience, I felt a bit awkward and embarrassed to pray in an open, public space," student Mahtashal Harbi said after worshipping for the first time at the Jakarta van.

Run on the baklava as Dutch Muslims celebrate Eid

DutchNews, July 5, 2016

Deposit photos: Turkish dessert
of baklava
School’s out, and it’s time for a sugarfest: Dutch Muslims began celebrating the end of Ramadan on Tuesday. 

Some school children had a day off for the Suikerfeest (literally, sugar feast in Dutch). But Dutch Muslims of Moroccan origin will be waiting until Wednesday, when moon is in the right phase over Morocco. 

According to public broadcaster NOS, a third of primary schools in Rotterdam were closed so that pupils could celebrate, while at other schools children could take time off on request. 

In some other countries the streets are full of Eid celebrations after a month of religious fasting, eating and drinking nothing when the sun is up. But in the Netherlands, it is more normal for practising Muslims to visit the mosque in the morning, and end the day with family, feast and presents.