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, October 30, 2016

State Secretariat Receives Copy of Missing Munir Murder Files From Ex-Minister

Jakarta Globe, Novi Setuningsih, October 27, 2016

Presidential spokesman Johan Budi said on Thursday (27/10) that President
Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has received a copy of missing investigation files on the
murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib from former minister Sudi
Silalahi. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

Jakarta. Presidential spokesman Johan Budi said on Thursday (27/10) that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has received a copy of missing investigation files on the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib from former minister Sudi Silalahi.

Sudi, who was former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's cabinet secretary, handed over the copy at the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on Wednesday afternoon, Johan told the reporters.

"Now the documents are in the hands of the State Secretariat. They will be copied for the Attorney General's Office," he said.

The files — which were submitted to Yudhoyono by an independent fact-finding team in 2005 — were found to be missing earlier this month after the Central Information Commission ordered the State Secretariat to make the documents public in response to a lawsuit filed by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).

The State Secretariat claimed the files were not stored at its headquarters, prompting allegations that they were deliberately misplaced when Yudhoyono was still in office.

The former president denied the allegations, saying he is more than willing to help President Jokowi solve the murder case by providing copies of the documents.

Earlier, Chief Security Minister Wiranto said the government should study the documents before taking further steps on the case, including whether or not to continue the investigation.

Activists have long demanded that the government find Munir's real killer. The activist was poisoned with arsenic during a brief layover in Singapore in 2004, before boarding a flight to Amsterdam.

Former pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto was sentenced to 14 years in prison for premeditated murder. However, the masterminds behind Munir's murder remain unknown, while the investigation results have never been disclosed to the public.

Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressing the media at his
 house in Cikeas, Bogor district, West Java, on on Tuesday (25/10). (Antara Photo/
Yulius Satria Wijaya)

Related Articles:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Denmark's feminist mosque founder challenges norms

Yahoo – AFP, Sören Billing, October 26, 2016

Sherin Khankan is one of five female imams-in- training at the Mariam
Mosque in Copenhagen (AFP Photo/Betina Garcia)

Copenhagen (AFP) - The founder of Scandinavia's first female-led mosque is a soft-spoken "imama" who has riled conservatives with her views on marriage but others say her project is not progressive enough.

The Mariam Mosque opened in March and held its first Friday prayer in August, when Danish-born imam Saliha Marie Fetteh spoke to around 60 women -- just over half of them Muslim -- about female scholars in Islam and women's rights.

"It was fantastic and very moving," said Ozlem Cekic, a Turkey-born Danish commentator and former lawmaker, who attended the sermon.

"I believe it will strengthen Islam."

Christian and Jewish community leaders also attended the prayer.

"Talking about women's rights is not a Western phenomenon, it's an Islamic ideal," Sherin Khankan -- one of the five female imams-in-training -- told AFP in a sparsely furnished room where the weekly prayers are held.

Arabic calligraphy and Islamic literature adorn its white walls, but the sounds of a bustling Copenhagen street permeate into the apartment.

An "anonymous donor" is paying the lease of the mosque, located in a building in an area that is one of the most expensive in Copenhagen.

The 42-year-old mother of four was born in Denmark. She describes her father, a Syrian political refugee who married a Finnish woman, as "a feminist icon".

Her Christian mother would fast during Ramadan with the rest of the family, while Muslim family members would join her in church on special occasions.

Inter-faith dialogue has always been vital to Khankan who earlier this year publicly met with French female rabbi Delphine Horvilleur in Copenhagen.

In 2001 she founded "Critical Muslims", a group promoting "a democratic and pluralistic approach to Islam."

One month later, the 9/11 attacks in New York had a dramatic impact on how Muslims were viewed around the world, and she found herself spending more time defending Islam.

The role of Islam in Denmark came under renewed focus last year after a Danish-Palestinian gunman killed a filmmaker and a Jewish security guard in twin attacks in Copenhagen.

Changing power balance

Not everyone is a fan. Khankan said she had received threats from right-wing extremists on social media.

Public reaction from conservative Muslims has been muted, possibly because of the fear of wading into Denmark's high-pitched debate on Muslim immigration, which has often dominated political debate over the past 15 years.

"When you are changing structures in religious institutions, you are changing the power balance. You are challenging men's monopoly," Khankan said.

"Of course you will meet resistance, that's obvious and we were aware of that. But I think the opposition we have met has been quite moderate," she added.

Representatives from some of Copenhagen's major mosques did not respond to requests for comment.

After the opening of the Mariam Mosque, Waseem Hussein, an imam from one of the city's biggest mosques, suggested there was no need for it.

"Should we also make a mosque only for men? Then there would certainly be an outcry among the Danish population," he told the Politiken daily.

"According to the Koran, men and women are equal spiritual partners," said Khankan, wearing a long, white skirt and a long-sleeved top but no veil, which she said she only wears while praying.

"We are re-reading the Koran according to our times and our society," she added.

The mosque is inspired by Sufism, a mystic form of Islam, and mostly caters to Sunni Muslims, although "everyone is welcome".

Female imams have existed in China since the 19th century, and are currently active in a handful of countries including Germany, Belgium, Canada and the United States, where The Women's Mosque of America opened in Los Angeles last year.

Denmark is home to around 284,000 Muslims, according to an estimate by Brian Arly Jacobsen, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen specialising in religion.

Islamic feminism

Islamic feminism is at the heart of the Copenhagen project, and a concrete example of that was the mosque's marriage contract, Khankan said.

The marriage agreement states that women have the right to divorce, polygamy is prohibited, men and women have equal rights to their children in case of a divorce, and that the marriage is annulled in the event of mental or physical violence.

Five couples have been married at the mosque, of which two were inter-faith unions. Another three ceremonies are in the pipeline.

Khankan admits that she had to compromise on some of her initial plans to avoid "burning bridges" with the rest of the Muslim community.

Both men and women are allowed to take part in the mosque's activities, but Friday prayers have been reserved for women, as having a mixed audience would have been more controversial.

"Burning bridges" would only "create chaos," she said.

Syria-born Danish lawmaker Naser Khader told Danish media that in a country like Denmark, with its high level of gender equality, barring women from preaching to a mixed crowd was simply not "good enough".

But Khankan said the mosque will appeal to "a new generation of young Muslims who feel homeless and who do not feel at home in the existing traditional mosque communities."

Related Article:

Yassmine el Ksaihi poses in the prayer hall of the Polder Mosque in Amsterdam, 
Netherlands, Tuesday, March 2, 2010. Uniquely in the Netherlands, men and women
 pray together in her mosque, albeit segregated, with the women praying in the back
 of the prayer hall. Devotions and sermons are conducted mostly in Dutch rather 
than Arabic. And non-Muslims are welcome. Across Europe Muslims are seeking a f
ormula that lets them be an inseparable part of their country while maintaining their 
loyalty to their faith and origin. (AP Photo/ Evert Elzinga)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Missing Munir Murder Case Files Have Become Political Issue: Yudhoyono

Jakarta Globe, Edo Karensa & Carlos KY Paath, October 25, 2016

Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressing the media at his
 house in Cikeas, Bogor district, West Java, on on Tuesday (25/10). (Antara Photo/
Yulius Satria Wijaya)

Jakarta. Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the missing files from the investigation into the murder of prominent human rights activist Munir Said Thalib has turned into political issue against him, but that he will take responsibility for the matter.

Yudhoyono, who served as president from 2004 to 2014, was pressured to take responsibility for the files, which are believed to have been lost during his last year in office.

Munir died on board a Garuda Indonesia flight to Amsterdam in September 2004, nearly a month before Yudhoyono was inaugurated as president.

"The legal issue has turned into politics. But I am no newbie to politics in this country; this is something normal," Yudhoyono said during a press conference at his residence in Cikeas, Bogor district, West Java, on Tuesday (25/10).

"My responsibility is to provide an explanation in a proper and relevant context to a matter that has captured the public attention, in particular human rights activists, who have certain interests in the Munir case," Yudhoyono said.

The former president, who is also leader of the Democratic Party, said he was responsible for follow-ups on the murder investigation, which was conducted by the National Police, with the assistance of an independent fact-finding team.

Sudi Silalahi, a former cabinet secretary during the Yudhoyono era, said in the press conference that the previous administration had done everything possible to support the investigation, including to allow the National Police's criminal investigative unit (Bareskrim) to probe any government officials in the country and abroad.

He added that Yudhoyono never, at any point, ordered the investigation or law enforcement efforts regarding the murder case to be halted.

"In response to the fact-finding team's recommendations that indicated possible involvement by [former intelligence chief] A.M. Hendropriyono, the questioning of witnesses and convicts revealed no links to him," Sudi said.

Although the investigation failed to provide satisfying results, Sudi said the probe had been conducted properly and in accordance with the law and that Yudhoyono had no authority at the time to intervene.

Also present at the press conference was former top spook Syamsir Siregar and former leader of the fact-finding team Marsudi Hanafi.

In response to Yudhoyono's statement, Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Haris Azhar deplored the fact that this explanation had not been given to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo during the transition in October 2014.

"Sudi Silalahi blamed legal issues as the reason for the Munir murder case not having been finalized yet. The statement is a strong signal that the current administration should not stand idle to let the case be forgotten and not to do something with it," Haris said in a statement.

There are strong indications of the possible involvement of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), which was headed by Hendropriyono at the time, Haris said.

"To open the fact-finding team's files on the Munir murder case will be a large and serious task. But this is important to prove that the state is making progress on law enforcement and human rights in Indonesia," Haris added.

He expressed appreciation for Yudhoyono clearly stating that the case files are not missing, as dossiers had also been submitted to national archives.

Related Article:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

National Paralympics Week Kicks Off in Bandung

Jakarta Globe, Amal Ganesha, October 17, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 17, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Articles:

Activists Don Animal Costumes to Protest Jatinegara Wildlife Market

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

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

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

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

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

The governor said he was unaware of the report.

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

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pope opens private summer apartments to tourists

Yahoo – AFP, October 14, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Article:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Seven Nobel Laureates to Visit Indonesia in 2017

Jakarta Globe, Edo Karensa, October 12, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

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

Jakarta Globe, Alin Almanar, October 11, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Article:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Transgender Indonesians bear brunt of rising intolerance

Yahoo – AFP, Olivia Rondonuwu, October 9, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Unity in diversity'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Part of God's creation'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Article:

Sunday, October 9, 2016

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

Jakarta Globe, Alin Almanar, October 08, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

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

Jakarta Globe, Alin Almanar, October 06, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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