‘A Tragic, Forgotten Place.’ Poverty and Death in Indonesia’s Land of Gold



An illegal gold miner sifts through sand and rock as he pans for gold in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 4, 2017.
An illegal gold miner sifts through sand and rock as he pans for gold in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 4, 2017.
Ulet Ifansasti—Getty Images

When Bardina Degei cooks dinner, she doesn’t use a stove. She rarely even uses a pot. In her wooden home in Enarotali, the capital of Paniai regency in the restive Indonesian province of Papua, the housewife usually just places a sweet potato — known locally as “nota”— directly into the fireplace.

After half-an-hour, the charred tuber is retrieved and devoured with eager, unwashed hands. Degei sits on the mud floor — she has no furniture — which is where she also performs her daily chores, such as washing clothes with murky water from the nearby swamp. A bucket in a roofless room serves as a latrine. As the youngest of her husband’s four wives, she has been assigned no fields to tend. (Polygamy is common here.) Of course, working late can be dangerous: Most of the village men are unemployed and many drink heavily, plus there are the soldiers. “No one dares to walk around the village after 5 p.m.,” she says.

It’s a rare glimpse of daily life in the highlands of Papua, a former Dutch colony that was absorbed into Indonesia in 1969 following a controversial referendum, when just 1,026 elders were forced to vote though a public show of hands before occupying troops. An existing movement agitating for independence against Dutch rule swiftly turned its ire against the Jakarta government, which maintains tight control over the region, barring foreign journalists or rights monitors. In 2003, the province was officially split into Papua and West Papua, with independent Papua New Guinea occupying the eastern part of the island.

Enarotali is as remote as it is desolate; the journey here involves a 90-minute flight from the provincial capital Jayapura to Nabire, and then a stomach-churning five-hour drive by hire car. (There is no public transport.) The town of some 19,000 people consists of wooden houses ringed by bamboo fencing, corrugated iron roofs transformed by rust into varying tawny shades.

Locals work to catch crabs from the mining operations site in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 2, 2017
Locals work to catch crabs from the mining operations site in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 2, 2017
Ulet Ifansasti—Getty Images

Very few Indonesians have made the journey here, let alone journalists, and practically no foreigners. Before Christian missionaries arrived, Mee Pago Papuans worshiped a God named Uga Tamee. There were other changes, too. “We were not used to wearing these clothes,” says Degei, indicating her vividly colored, hand-woven turban, dark shirt and a bright skirt. “Before, we only wore leaves on our bodies.”

Papua is Indonesia’s poorest province, where 28% of people live below the poverty lineand with some of the worst infant mortality and literacy rates in Asia. But it is also Indonesia’s land of gold. The world’s largest and most profitable gold mine, Grasberg, owned by Phoenix-based Freeport McMoran, lies just 60 miles from Paniai, a highland province around the size of New Jersey and home to 153,000 people. In 2015 alone, Freeport mined some $3.1 billion worth of gold and copper here. In addition, Papua boasts timber resources worth an estimated $78 billion.

These riches are, however, a source of misery for Papuans, ensuring Indonesia’s powerful military maintains a suffocating presence. A 2005 investigation in The New York Times reported that Freeport paid local military personnel and units nearly $20 million between 1998 and 2004, including up to $150,000 to a single officer. Papuan calls for greater autonomy threaten this golden goose, and are dealt with mercilessly.

According to rights activists, more than 500,000 Papuan’s have been killed, and thousands more have been raped, tortured and imprisoned by the Indonesian military since 1969. Mass killings in Papua’s tribal highlands during the 1970’s amounted to genocide, according to the Asia Human Rights Commission.

Read More: Papua Remains a Killing Field Even Under New Indonesian President Jokowi

Indonesian police arrested more than 3,900 peaceful protesters in the region last year alone. We Will Lose Everything, a 2016 report by the Archdiocese of Brisbane, contains testimony of atrocities committed the previous year, such as extrajudicial executions, torture — rape and electrocution are especially popular, according to another report — and the brutal crushing of peaceful demonstrations. “It’s difficult to count the number of victims as incidents happen every week,” says Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

The screws have tightened as Papua’s resources bring an influx of settlers from elsewhere in Indonesia. The province’s 3.5 million population is 83% Christian, but the demographic is changing as Muslim economic migrants arrive from Indonesia’s populous islands of Java, Borneo, Sumatra and Sulawesi. Javanese warung canteens sell fried chicken and gado-gado mixed-vegetables served with peanut sauce. Local people struggle to compete.

“The migrants started to sell chicken and vegetables in the traditional market cheaper than the local Papuans,” explains Abeth You, a 24-year-old Paniai native who moved to the provincial capital Jayapura for work. “It made the native Papuans — the mama-mama [the women] of Papua — lose their market.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, vowed to address the inequalities and rights abuses in Papua during his election campaign in 2014. The former carpenter secured 27 of Papua’s total 29 districts — including Paniai — on the way to the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. But precious little has changed in Papua, and today local people feel betrayed.

“Our hearts have been broken because in 2014 we voted for Jokowi, with the expectation that he would fulfill our hopes for justice to be restored,” You says.

A illegal gold miner walks as they pan for gold along the Aikwa river are located within Freeport's official mining operations in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 4, 2017.
A illegal gold miner walks as they pan for gold along the Aikwa river are located within Freeport’s official mining operations in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 4, 2017.
Ulet Ifansasti—Getty Images

‘It Was Crowded, Many Shots Were Fired’

In fact, Paniai suffered a nadir just two months after Jokowi’s October inauguration. On Dec. 7, 2014 a group of 11 children were outside singing Christmas carols in front of a bonfire in Enarotali when two Indonesian soldiers on a motorbike broke through the gloom. The startled children told them that they should turn on their headlights.

One of the soldiers took umbrage at their tone and later returned with four soldiers, according to local Pastor Yavedt Tebai. The soldiers, who had been drinking, chased and beat the group with their rifle butts, said victims and witnesses. Then one of the soldiers fired into the group of children.

One child, 16-year-old Yulianus Yeimo, was beaten so badly he fell into a coma.

A couple of hours later, the nearby government Election Commission building was set ablaze, and things escalated the following day. About 1,000 young Papuan men, women and children gathered on a soccer field in front of the local police station and military command center to demand justice. They carried ceremonial hunting bows and performed the waita dance — running in circles and simulating birdsong — of Papua’s Mee Pago tribe. Some protesters started hurling stones at police and military posts.

A Papuanese activist delivers speech during a protest against the fatal shooting of teenagers during clashes with security forces in Enarotali, at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Jakarta on Dec. 10, 2014.
A Papuanese activist delivers speech during a protest against the fatal shooting of teenagers during clashes with security forces in Enarotali, at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Jakarta on Dec. 10, 2014.
Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images

As tempers grew more heated, an order was sent to the soldiers through internal radio: “If the masses offer resistance more than three times, shoot them dead,” it said, according to an official document seen by TIME that has not been released to the local media.

Yeremias Kayame, 56, the head of the Kego Koto neighborhood of Enarotali, saw the impending danger and appealed for calm, imploring the crowd to go back home. Nobody was in the mood to listen. “When I turned around I suddenly got shot in my left wrist,” he told TIME on the porch of his brightly painted wooden house.

Kayame still doesn’t know who fired but says the bullet came from the ranks of amassed soldiers. “It was crowded, many shots were fired,” he adds.

Local man Alfius Youw was hit three times, according to his cousin who witnessed the shootings. “I ran to him and examined his body to make sure it was him,” Yohanes, who like many Indonesians only goes by one name, told TIME somberly. “I saw he was dead … I kissed him.”

The Papua Police Chief Inspector General Yotje Mende told reporters that his officers were only “securing” their station because it was under attack.

“We have to defend ourselves when people threaten to kill us,” Papua Police spokesperson, Commissioner Pudjo Sulistiyo said in 2015. “It’s a matter of life and death.”

According to Human Rights Watch, five young protesters were killed and many more injured.

‘I’m Afraid of Being Arrested by the Military, Afraid to be Shot’

News of the killings only filtered through to Jakarta the following day. Three weeks later, Jokowi gave an impassioned speech in Jayapura, where he expressed sympathies with the victims’ families and vowed to address the historic abuses in Papua. “I want this case to be solved immediately so it won’t ever happen again in the future,” he said.

Security Minister Wiranto said in October 2016 that he was setting up a non-judicial mechanism to settle historic human-rights violations. But the excuses started almost immediately. “Most of the violations occurred a long time ago. Some were in the ’90s and in early 2000s. The point is we are committed to addressing these violations, but there are processes to go through,” he said.

Then Wiranto backtracked when speaking to TIME in Jakarta on June 5, saying he has no plans to establish a grievance mechanism in Papua. Instead, “All will be [settled] by law,” he said.

Wiranto, who the U.N. has indicted for “crimes against humanity” relating to more than 1,000 deaths during East Timor’s bloody 1999 independence vote, said that 11 cases of human-rights violations in Papua have already been settled, including the Paniai incident.

Families of the Paniai victims greeted such claims with grim incredulity. “I’ve been interviewed four times for the past three years, but there has been no progress at all,” Yohanes says. “I’m tired.”

He says that years later, he still lives in fear. “I’m afraid,” he says. “I’m afraid of being arrested by the military, afraid to be shot.”

His brother Yacobus echoed the view that people in Paniai are fearful of discussing the incident. He says he was beaten by the military after helping to bury four of the victims. “After burying the bodies, the military came looking for me,” he says.

‘A Tragic, Forgotten Place’

The shootings haven’t stopped. On Tuesday, Indonesian police shot at villagers in Paniai’s neighboring Deiyai regency. One person died and 17 others were wounded, including children, during a confrontation between villagers and the manager of a construction company who refused to help transport an unconscious man to hospital.

The man, 24-year-old Ravianus Douw who drowned while he was fishing in a nearby river, died on the way to hospital. Incensed villagers protested in front of the company’s site office. Police said the villagers threw rocks at officers, who responded by firing warning shots. But locals say the mobile brigade (Indonesian paramilitary police) began shooting at the crowd, killing one.

“We were so panicked, we are afraid there will be revenge,” 29-year-old Dominggu Badii, who lives near the hospital and witnessed the injured being hurried in, tells TIME. “I have been hiding in my house for two days.”

The Deiyai parliament has called for the officers involved to be held to account and the police mobile brigade to be withdrawn from the area.

Paniai has always been a troublespot for the Indonesian government. The lack of meaningful development feeds the discontent of the tribal Mee, Moni, Dani, and Damal peoples, who live sprawled across Papua’s verdant central highlands. Many joined the Free Papua Movement (OPM), the rebel army that claims to defend the rights of the Papuans by launching sporadic attacks and kidnapping raids on Indonesian soldiers. Some of the top OPM leaders hail from Paniai, including Tadius Yogi and Daniel Yudas Kogoya.

In response, thousands of people in Paniai have been arrested and arbitrarily detained by the military in recent years, under the guise of “safeguarding national sovereignty.” Some never reappear. Among the people of Papua, Paniai is known as “a tragic, forgotten place.”

Poverty feeds the discontent. The little rice on sale in Enarotali is too expensive for locals to buy. Bread is just as out of reach. People here grow everything they eat: mainly nota plus some fruit and leafy vegetables. Farming is the job of the women, who each can maintain four or five fields of the sweet potato. They usually keep most of the harvest for the family, with the rest sold in the local market. Ten pieces of nota cost only 10,000 Indonesian rupiah (75 cents).

Over time, economic inequalities have grown between the native Papuans and the new migrants, who have arrived in greater numbers since the opening of a new air routes to Nabire Airport. What few jobs exist typically go to the better-educated and wealthier migrants. Papuans rarely have the capital or the necessary skills to run their own businesses competitively.

“The young people are not interested to stay in the village … because there’s no jobs or money here,” says John Gobai, the chairman of the tribal council of Paniai.

‘They Don’t Need Money, They Just Want Justice’

Isolation keeps the world’s eyes off Papua. In addition, reporting restrictions for international media remain tight. Earlier this year, French journalists Franck Escudie and Basille Longchamp were deported from Papua for a “lack of coordination with related institutions” despite having been granted rare permission to film.

According to Phelim Kine, Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, Jokowi’s election campaign pledges to lift reporting restrictions to boost transparency and development have not been realized. “There are new hazards for foreign journalists attempting to report from Indonesia’s restive easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua: visa denial and blacklisting,” he said in a statement.

The lack of press scrutiny means international pressure on the Indonesian government has been largely limited to Papua’s immediate neighbors. In March, six Pacific nations — Tonga, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, and the Solomon Islands — urged the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate the “various and widespread violations” in Papua, including the Paniai shooting. These same countries have historically backed the OPM.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo departs after a ceremony to release political prisoners at Abepura prison located in Jayapura, in the eastern province of Papua, on May 9, 2015.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo departs after a ceremony to release political prisoners at Abepura prison located in Jayapura, in the eastern province of Papua, on May 9, 2015.
Romeo Gacad—AFP/Getty Images

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir shrugged off the group’s allegations, telling journalists in Jakarta, “In Indonesia, a democratic system still applies and there’s free media so it’s hard for the evidence of human rights cases to be covered up.”

Local people want more foreign governments to take note. When an official delegation from the Netherlands, headed by the nation’s human rights ambassador Kees Van Baar, visited Jayapura on May 4, local people broke their silence, beseeching, “We want freedom,” according to a source who also attended the meeting but who asked to stay anonymous.

Indonesia has another presidential election in 2019, but Papuans say they are unlikely to vote again for Jokowi. “Jokowi is a person who has good intentions, but he is surrounded by the people who are involved in the Paniai shooting,” says Gobai, the tribal council chairman.

He wants Jokowi to know that the Paniai people, aside from living under the looming threat of a rapacious military, wallow in destitution, with paltry education and health services.

Gobai says the Paniai people, like other Papuans, consider their vote to Jokowi as a “debt” he must repay. “They don’t need money, they just want justice,” he says.

Despite the threats and intimidation, families of the Paniai shooting victims carried out one last symbolic act of defiance: burying one victim’s body on land just opposite the police and military station. Knowing that justice may never be served, at least they won’t let those responsible forget their crimes. “A member of our family has been killed,” says Yacobus, head bowed. “What else could we do?”

Attacker slashes churchgoers with sword, injuring 5 in Indonesia



Attacker slashes churchgoers with sword, injuring 5 in Indonesia

Indonesian police carry evidence after an attack at a church Sunday in Sleman, Yogyakarta province.

(CNN)A sword-wielding attacker slashed worshippers as they prayed at a church in Indonesia on Sunday, injuring five people, CNN Indonesia reported.

The victims included the pastor of the church, according to police officials. They said the congregation was praying when the attack happened at Santa Lidwina Church in the Yogyakarta province of Java.
Church security tried to prevent the attacker from entering the church, but he forced his way in, police officials told CNN Indonesia. Police opened fire on the attacker, who’s been hospitalized, it said.

Strong earthquake strikes Indonesia; 2 dead



Strong earthquake strikes Indonesia; 2 dead

Motorists in Cilacap, Indonesia, are stuck in traffic as they try to reach higher ground amid fears of a tsunami after an earthquake. A tsunami warning was canceled.

(CNN)Two people were killed and seven others were injured when a strong earthquake hit Indonesia late Friday, authorities said.

The 6.5-magnitude quake was centered in Cipatujah, in the western part of Java, the US Geological Survey said, at a depth of 91.9 kilometers (about 57 miles).
Residents felt the quake about 190 miles away (305 kilometers) in the capital of Jakarta, where people briefly evacuated to the ground floor of their high-rises.

Residents gather outside their apartment blocks in Jakarta after the earthquake.

Tremors were also felt in the cities of Bandung, more than 63.5 miles away (102.1 kilometers) and Yogyakarta, more than 211 miles away (339.9 kilometers), authorities said.
A tsunami alert was issued after the quake, which Indonesian authorities recorded at 11:47 p.m. as 6.9 magnitude, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency
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The two victims were buried in rubble, one in Ciamis, in West Java, and the other in Pekalongan, in Central Java, emergency officials said.
A few hundred homes and buildings were destroyed or damaged, the officials said. Several hospitals were damaged. Seventy patients from Banyumas Hospital were moved to tents and another temporary shelter.

Patients are evacuated outside a hospital in Banyumas overnight after an earthquake.

Fears of a tsunami prompted people to evacuate their homes for higher ground, but there were no reports of tsunamis occurring along the southern coasts of western, central and eastern Java and the city of Yogyakarta.
The alert was lifted at 2:30 a.m., the spokesman said.
Most residents returned to their homes on Saturday and they were advised to seek temporary shelter if their dwellings aren’t safe. Several aftershocks continue to be felt in the areas hit by the quake, emergency officials said.
An earthquake on December 7, 2016, struck Indonesia’s Aceh province in Sumatra and killed at least 100 people.




About 4:15 PM, EST today I reblogged a story from the ‘Times Of Israel’ about a large Pharmaceutical Company based in Jerusalem that it is said is getting ready to cut about 10,000 jobs within the next two years. The headline spoke a simple reality, basically it said that the Stock values jumped once the news got out. Folks I posted that article because it was no surprise to me, and in reality, this is the expected obvious result of 10,000 people and their families losing their jobs, their incomes.

A young lady who is one of my readers, and I one of hers, left me a comment, her opinion about this article and I would like to share her thoughts and mine with you now. This young lady has an excellent Website that I hope you will take a few moments of your time to check into. I did something that I don’t ever remember doing and that is that I did a copy paste of her comment to me and my somewhat long comment to her, Ms. Laina. Ms. Laina’s Blog Site can be found at (the silentwaveblog.wordpress.com).

Years ago, my gut instincts told me that either severely restricting, totally revamping, or even maybe completely abolishing the stock market might be a good thing. Glad to know that 1) I’m not alone and 2) we might be onto something! 👏🏼👏🏼👍🏼

And this is my reply to Ms. Laina.

Yep, think about it, just like in this case, when a company announces lay off’s their stock value goes up. When a company breaks a union, their stock value goes up. When a company moves their production to a third world country, their stock values goes up. What is in common with all of these is that the total labor cost go down so the profits go up. When Wal-Mart and Target announced that they were going to give their employees a raise, their stock values took a dive. When a company moves from the U.S. to China or Indonesia they know that their costs are going to go down, labor cost, EPA costs go way down, there is no OSHA, all of these things increase profits so the stock value goes up. As I am sure that you have noticed, when a company cuts their costs by lets say 50%, there is no reduction in the cost of their products on the store shelves. It is all about the profit for the company executives and for the stock holders, all at the expense the workforce. The stock market is nothing but a Ponzi Scheme to rob from the poorest to give to the richest, it should be totally illegal, but that is never going to happen.

Rise of Hard-liners Alarms Moderates in Indonesia



Rise of Hard-liners Alarms Moderates in Indonesia

Protesters take to the streets in Jakarta on April 28 to demonstrate against outgoing Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP via Getty Images)

Jakarta, Indonesia- In¬mid-February, Muhammad al-Khaththath, leader of the hard-line Muslim Community Forum, held court on the top floor of a Jakarta fast-food joint. With key deputies gathered around, he explained the direction in which he hoped to push relatively secular, democratic Indonesia.

Sharia would become the law of the land, non-Muslims would lose their leadership posts and thieves, in accordance with Islamic law, would have their hands lopped off, he said. He also criticized Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s pluralist president.

Widodo “isn’t a liberal Muslim,” Khaththath said. “He’s a Muslim who doesn’t get it.”

Six weeks later, Khaththath was detained on treason charges, accused of plotting a coup. But in an April 19 runoff election for governor of Jakarta, his preferred candidate, fellow Muslim Anies Baswedan, defeated the Christian incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, after a campaign laden with religious overtones.

Since then, hard-line Islamist groups have gained stature; their ability to mobilize huge crowds was considered crucial to securing Baswedan’s lopsided victory. But a strong backlash also has emerged, led by moderate Muslims who worry that conservative Islamists are wrecking Indonesia’s tradition of religious tolerance.

Khaththath had taken over as the leader of a powerful protest movement against Purnama, a Widodo ally, in the months leading up to the gubernatorial election, after the previous leader was summoned by police on pornography charges.

But police came for Khaththath in late March, escorting him from his hotel room to the detention facility where he remains. A few weeks later, on the eve of the election, Khaththath managed to send a letter to his supporters.

“From my detention room, I tap on the sky door,” Khaththath wrote. He hoped the tap would be felt by “every Muslim heart” and would persuade the faithful to “choose a Muslim governor.”

Not every Muslim heart felt the tap, but enough did to secure a clean victory for Baswedan. The high-stakes election campaign was marked by the largest conservative rallies in generations, as well as by intensifying — and controversial — legal efforts by the Indonesian government to rein in the hard-line groups’ leadership.

Now that the election is over, many moderate Muslim leaders say they are treating it as a wake-up call about the growing power of Indonesian hard-line organizations and the need to take stern action to stop them.

“I am not worried about the candidates who won,” said Sidarto Danusobroto, a former speaker of the Senate and key adviser to the president. “I am worried about the groups that supported them — the Islamic Defenders Front and Hizbut Tahrir.”

“Islam is different from how the Islamic Defenders Front portrays it,” said Mohammad Nuruzzaman, head of strategic research for Ansor, a moderate Muslim youth movement that has been working with the police to break up hard-line Muslim gatherings.

In one of a number of efforts in the past few weeks to curb extremists, police officials and nationalist groups in the central Javanese town of Semarang prevented the Islamic Defenders Front from opening a branch.

“We have a tolerant city,” said Iwan Santoso, a representative from the Red and White, a group that takes its name from the colors of the Indonesian flag. “We don’t want students to be instigated.”

This past week, police in East Java, apparently acting at the urging of moderate Muslims or nationalists, shut down a planned university event featuring Felix Siauw, a Chinese Indonesian convert to Islam who has become a major hard-line preacher. In a Web video subsequently uploaded to his Facebook page, Siauw said, “We should have a nation of laws, and the laws should apply to all.”

But moderate Muslim and civil society groups increasingly are calling for bans on organizations that push for the creation of a caliphate. Nuruzzaman, of Ansor, compared such organizations to the Indonesian Communist Party, a boogeyman from Indonesia’s past.

“The goal of Communists and those who support the caliphate are similar — both want all countries in the world to be run under one system,” he said.

Last Tuesday, police announced that they were reviewing the legality of Hizbut Tahrir because of the international Islamist group’s embrace of a global caliphate. Muhammad Ismail ¬Yusanto, a spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir here, protested that its goal of establishing a caliphate does not violate the Indonesian constitution.

“All we do is convey Islam’s teachings,” he said in an interview. Besides, he argued, the constitution can be amended.

Hizbut Tahrir is banned in many countries around the world, including Germany, China, Egypt and numerous other Arab states. But it has operated for nearly 20 years in democratic Indonesia.

Some rights activists oppose banning the group. Andreas Harsono, Indonesia representative of Human Rights Watch, said that although Hizbut Tahrir’s ideology is deeply discriminatory — toward women, LGBT people and minority faiths — that does not mean the organization should be shut down.

“It is not illegal to say, ‘I want to discriminate against women,’ ” he argued, acknowledging that the case is “complicated.”

More worrying to Harsono are the Indonesian government’s efforts to pursue radical religious leaders for alleged offenses unrelated to their Islamist activism, or on exaggerated charges. Habib Rizieq, perhaps the nation’s most powerful hard-line figure, was brought in for questioning by police over pornographic images he is alleged to have exchanged with a woman who is not his wife, while Khaththath was charged with trying to organize a coup.

“It’s very concerning,” said Harsono, who said he knows of no evidence that Khaththath was plotting the violent overthrow of the government.

Marcus Mietzner, an associate professor at Australian National University, expressed concern that heavy-handed charges would harm Indonesia’s democracy.

“What they should not do is arbitrarily throw criminal charges at individual leaders that are either excessive, like the treason accusation, or unrelated, as the pornography case,” he wrote in an email. “This, in turn, will only increase the sense of victimization among conservative Muslims.”

That already appears to be happening. Achmad Sofyan, a Khaththath deputy who was also investigated by police, said: “It isn’t fair. The case was engineered.”

Mietzner suggested that the government has legal ways to handle hard-line groups but has opted for different tactics in part to avoid a messy public debate. If the state prosecuted these groups, “it would have to argue in front of the courts why Islam should not be Indonesia’s primary legal-political foundation,” he wrote.

For Nuruzzaman, it is crucial to oppose the hard-liners, whatever the difficulties.

“We don’t want the government to take repressive measures,” he said. Nonetheless, “we have to confront them.”

The Washington Post

Jakarta Ex-Governor Ahok Standing Strong In His Christian Faith Through The Storm



April 26, 2017 by Open Doors in Prayer updates

Basuki Cahaya Purnama “Ahok,” a Christian and ethnic Chinese, and Jakarta’s first non-Muslim governor in 50 years, lost re-election on April 19. The next morning, his blasphemy trial continued with the prosecutor demanding a sentence of 1 year imprisonment and 2 years’ probation.

What is surprising in this development is that the prosecutor did not use the original charge of blasphemy, which had resulted in mass protests against Ahok for several weeks. Instead, he is now charged for “expressing hostile feelings or hatred towards a particular group.” In this case, the particular group refers to his political opponents.

“God gives the authority and so God alone can take it back,” said Ahok to his supporters after the quick count which confirmed his loss. “No one is allowed to rule without God’s permission. I once lost in the governor’s election in 2007, but then I still became Jakarta’s governor. So, don’t be sad. God knows best.”

As much as they could have anticipated the election results in the current political climate, the Christian community could not help but feel deeply sadden and disappointed. Pray for God to continue to work good for Ahok and his future. Pray also for peace to be restored and for God’s justice to prevail in Ahok’s trial.

Father, we pray Your protection over Ahok in the wake of this political defeat as he faces a trial because of his faith in Christ. As he proclaimed, You put him in office and even now, in the midst of defeat, You still know best. We pray now for the Christians in Jakarta, that You will protect and encourage them in this disappointment. We pray for peace to be restored following the bitter election season and we pray for Ahok’s protection and for justice to be accomplished as the trial progresses. In the name of Jesus, who “works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6). Amen.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Urges IMF To Enhance FX Surveillance


Mnuchin urges IMF to enhance FX surveillance

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday called on the International Monetary Fund to enhance surveillance of its members’ exchange rates and external imbalances, as large trade imbalances would hamper “free and fair” trade.

Mnuchin said the global economy continues to exhibit large and persistent external imbalances, “which contribute to the sentiment that the existing international monetary and trading system does not benefit all.”

“In our view, excessively large trade surpluses, like excessively large trade deficits, are not conducive to supporting a free and fair trading system,” he said in a statement to the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the IMF’s steering committee.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to impose measures to restrict imports, and attacked countries like China, Germany and Japan for running large trade surpluses with the United States and benefiting from weak currencies.

Mnuchin called on countries with large external surpluses and sound public finances – likely a reference to Germany – to expand fiscal stimulus to boost growth and help narrow trade imbalances.

He also urged the IMF to scrutinizes its member nation’s exchange rates and identify “specific policy adjustments” for each country to counter global imbalances.

“We look to the IMF to highlight where surplus countries can more forcefully contribute to support symmetric adjustment in pursuit of a fairer global system,” he said.

Mnuchin also urged countries to abide by their exchange-rate commitments, such as to refrain from competitive devaluation, not use monetary policies to target exchanges rates for competitive purposes, and to consult closely on exchange rates.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Jakarta Indonesia’s Muslim’s Make Tomorrows Election About Religion And Race, Not Issues


(CNN) Indonesia’s capital is on edge one day before a vote that has become a test of tolerance in the world’s most populous majority-Muslim nation.

The incumbent governor of Jakarta, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, is facing a challenge by a Muslim former government minister backed by hard-line religious groups.
“There’s been quite a lot at stake, mostly because of how the election has been framed, (not) issues about how Jakarta will be run itself but rather questions of identity politics,” Ian Wilson, research fellow at Australia’s Murdoch University Asia Research Center, told CNN.
Tensions have risen since the first round of voting on February 15, when Ahok came in first with almost 43% of the vote, just ahead of former Education and Culture Minister Anies Baswedan.
Religious groups determined to see Baswedan take the governorship have been accused of stoking religious discord in the city ahead of the second round, analysts say, a startling turn in a country with a secular constitution and a long tradition of pluralism.
“I think a lot of Chinese Jakartans are feeling anxious about what will happen regardless of the outcome,” Wilson said.

Anies Baswedan (2L) and his running mate pray during an event in Jakarta on March 4.

Mass protests against Ahok

Tensions began to build in November 2016 after Ahok made comments during a campaign speech, which were interpreted by some as an insult to the Quran and Islam.
Now Ahok is on trial for blasphemy and Islamic conservative groups are pushing hard against him. In March, during the campaign, large crowds of thousands of protestors massed in Jakarta’s streets to call for his imprisonment.
“(The vote) is being framed in these semi-apocalyptic terms — that if Baswedan loses it means this infidel, conspiratorial Chinese group will be in power and it will be a disaster,” Wilson said.
While Baswedan himself has taken a step back from the aggressive rhetoric of the first half of the campaign, analysts say, conservative Islamic groups have picked up the slack.

Jakarta's Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, inside the courtroom during his blasphemy trial on April 11.

“There was this grandma who died and she voted for Ahok and she was (reportedly) denied Muslim funeral rights,” Tobias Basuki, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an Indonesian think tank, told CNN.
“(Islamist groups) are using a lot of very blatant religious messages. Very blatant. There are various messages showing people … making oaths in communities saying you cannot vote for a non-Muslim and so on.”
With polls showing a tight race between the two candidates and religious tensions running high, both camps have reasons to be anxious.
Wilson said there is a possibility things may descend into violence.

Thousands of Indonesian Muslims protest against Ahok on March 31 in Jakarta.

Anies for president?

It isn’t just religious tolerance that’s at stake though.
The eyes of Indonesia’s national leaders are fixed on the vote as well, and who will be in the powerful position of Jakarta governor during the next national election in 2019.
Ahok is an ally of Indonesian President Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi — in fact, he was his running mate during Widodo’s own successful run for the governorship in 2012.
After Widodo’s 2012 win quickly led to a successful run for the presidency in 2014, Indonesian political insiders now see the Jakarta governorship as a step to the highest office in the land.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (R) with Anies Baswedan (L) at the presidential palace in Jakarta on October 24, 2014.

A Baswedan win will be seen as a major blow to Jokowi.
“It would be a major political win for (former 2014 presidential candidate) Prabowo Subianto, who has been very transparent in his support for Anies,” Wilson said.
Whether Baswedan runs for the presidency in 2019, or supports a second run by Prabowo, Basuki said a win by the former minister in Jakarta would embolden Islamic groups.
“If Anies (is elected), the peddling of influence by these Islamic groups will be greater, and use of religion will be much more in vogue in local elections heading towards the 2019 vote,” he said.

Jakarta’s poor turn on Ahok

But despite the high religious and racial tensions in the Jakarta governor race, they aren’t the only reason Ahok is in trouble.
Greg Fealy, an associate professor in Australian National University’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, told CNN in February Ahok’s blunt, combative style of governing put a lot of Jakartans off.
“He’s a very combative, outspoken, reckless kind of character who has achieved a lot for Jakarta, but he’s a character who has created a lot of antipathy toward him,” he said.

Ahok flanked by his wife Veronica (R) and son Nicholas (L) show off their first-round ballot papers in Jakarta on February 15.

Not only that, but a lot of the poor Jakartans who voted for the joint Widodo/Ahok ticket in 2012 in hopes of a new style of government have been the target of large-scale evictions under the governor’s administration.
“They have very specific material grievances against the governor, they feel there was a betrayal of a political contract … I think that magnified feelings of injustice against those neighborhoods,” Wilson said.

Jakarta Indonesia: Hardline Muslims Protest There Being A Chinese Christian Governor


Jakarta vote: Indonesia hardliners call for Muslim governor

  • 8 hours ago
  • From the section Asia
Islamic hardliners demonstrate against Basuki Tjahaja PurnamaImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Hardline Muslims have been marching against Jakarta’s ethnic Chinese Christian governor for months

Tens of thousands of Indonesians have gathered in Jakarta to urge people to vote for a Muslim candidate to be the capital city’s next governor.

The incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, is an ethnic Chinese Christian currently on trial after being accused of insulting Islam.

Despite the court case, Mr Purnama is still expected to win Wednesday’s vote.

The campaign against him has been led by Muslim hardliners, stoking fears of growing religious intolerance.

Crowds gathered for mass prayers around the city’s Istiqlal Mosque on Saturday, urging people to cast their ballots for Muslim leaders.

Supporters of several Islamic groups held posters with messages such as “I’d prefer if my leader is a Muslim” and “It is forbidden to pick an infidel leader”.

Hardline protesterImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Hardliners insist that the city should be governed by a Muslim
mass prayer at Istiqlal mosqueImage copyright EPA
Image caption The event centred on the Istiqlal Mosque drew tens of thousands of people

The action follows big protests against Mr Purnama in December and a rally that turned violent in November, leaving one man dead and dozens of police and demonstrators injured.

Mr Purnama became Jakarta’s first non-Muslim governor for 50 years and the first ethnic Chinese to hold the position when he took over from Joko Widodo – now the president – in 2014.

He won popularity for his no-nonsense style, as well as his stances against corruption and in favour of public transport and greater access to healthcare and education.

But some Islamists rejected him from the outset because of both his religion and ethnicity.

His position has been undermined by the court case against him, with prosecutors arguing that he insulted Islam by misusing a Koranic verse.

Mr Purnama had said that Islamic groups using a passage of the Koran to urge people not to support him were deceiving voters.

The verse is interpreted by some as prohibiting Muslims from living under the leadership of a non-Muslim.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Purnama wept as his trial opened in December

Mr Purnama insisted his comments were aimed at politicians “incorrectly” using the verse against him, not at the verse itself.

Rights groups say the authorities have set a dangerous precedent in which a noisy hardline Islamic minority can influence the legal process.

Mr Purnama is facing two prominent Muslim challengers for the Jakarta governorship.

If none of the contenders gets more than 50%, a run-off election between the two top candidates will take place in April.

Christians represent less than 10% of the country’s 250 million people, and ethnic Chinese about 1%.

In 1998, a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment led to mobs looting and burning Chinese-owned shops and houses, leaving more than 1,000 people dead.

However, Muslims in Indonesia are largely moderate and the country’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, had advised its members not to take part in the recent anti-Ahok protests.

Jihad In Jakarta?


Leader of anti-Ahok rally summoned over Dec. 2 protest

  • The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, February 8, 2017 | 05:16 pm

Leader of anti-Ahok rally summoned over Dec. 2 protestThousands of people led by the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) stage a rally against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in Jakarta on Nov. 4 over alleged blasphemy. (Antara/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

The leader of a conservative Muslim group that has organized two rallies demanding the prosecution of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has ignored a police summons scheduled for Wednesday to probe the rally’s funding.

Police had summoned Bachtiar Nasir, who leads the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), as a witness in their investigation of fund-raising activities ahead of a rally on Dec. 2, suspected to be connected to money-laundering.

Bachtiar’s lawyer, Kapitra Ampera, said his client was ready for the questioning but added that he had found irregularities in the summons, as it was received less than three days before the scheduled questioning.

The lawyer said that according to Article 227 of the Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP), a summons has to be sent no later than three days before the questioning.

“We received the letter on Monday, Feb. 6, at 11:34 p.m. and were asked to come today,” Kapitra said at police headquarters after asking for clarification on the letter.

(Read also: Rally ends on cautious note)

The GNPF-MUI, which includes the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI), organized two large rallies late last year to demand the prosecution of Ahok in a blasphemy case. The first rally, held on Nov. 4, turned violent in the evening after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo refused to meet protesters.

Police detained 11 people in the early morning of Dec. 2, ostensibly to prevent new violence, immediately charging them with treason. Protests that day in Jakarta and other regions remained peaceful. (wit)