A severely wounded orangutan has been found with 74 airgun pellets in her body in Indonesia’s Aceh province, officials said Wednesday.
The orangutan, estimated to be 30 years old, was rescued on Saturday in Subulussalam district with broken bones, bruises and cuts to her legs, said Sapto Aji Prabowo, the head of the government-run Nature Conservancy Agency in Aceh on Sumatra island.
“An X-ray photo showed 74 airgun pellets spread all over its body,” he said.
A one-month old baby orangutan found with her died from malnutrition while being transported to a rehabilitation centre in North Sumartra province, the Forestry and Environment Ministry said.
The adult orangutan is in stable condition and has been given the name Hope, it said.
“We condemn the savage attack on orangutans carried out by irresponsible people,” the ministry said in a statement.
Classified as “critically endangered” species, orangutans number around 111,000 in the wild on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, according to the World Wildlife Fund conservation group.
Conservationists have said the species’ survival is threatened by poaching and the destruction of their habitat through the logging industry.
A woman believed to be the wife of an Islamic militant detonated an explosive device during a raid on her house in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province on Wednesday, killing herself and her child, police said.
Police had surrounded the house in the town of Sibolga on Tuesday after they arrested a man believed to be the woman’s husband, identified as Husain alias Abu Hamzah, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said.
An explosion believed to have been set off by the woman injured a policeman as officers tried to enter the house on Tuesday, he said.
A second blast went off in the early hours of Wednesday, Prasetyo said.
“The information we received is that both the woman and the child died,” Prasetyo said.
“We have not been able to enter the house because we suspect there are still explosives that could endanger our officers,” he added.
National police chief Tito Karnavian told reporters that Husain was believed to be a member of a militant network affiliated with the Islamic State extremist group.
Police in Indonesia’s Papua province have apologised after interrogators used a snake during an attempt to extract a confession from a suspected mobile phone thief, a spokesman said Monday.
A video circulating online showed police in Jayawijaya district wrapping a snake around the neck of the suspect as they questioned him.
A policeman could be heard asking the suspect: “How many times have you stolen a cellphone?”.
The man cowered and screamed in fear.
“Many people saw his action but he didn’t confess, and that made the officer angry,” Papuan police spokesman Suryadi Diaz said.
“The method is wrong and we have apologized,” he said, adding that one officer had been disciplined.
Suryadi said the snake was tame and had been kept as a pet at the Jayawijaya police station for some time to scare drunkards, who often caused trouble in the neighbourhood.
“They usually fled after they saw the snake,” he said.
A lawyer who advocates for human rights in Papua, Veronica Koman, said police often used snakes while interrogating Papuans, including those arrested for suspected separatist activities.
“Inhumane treatment against Papuans is regularly reported,” Koman said.
“When this snake video surfaced, many Papuans, particularly activists who have been in and out of jail for political reasons, said that they have long known that snakes are being used by police and military,” she said.
A low-level separatist conflict has been taking place in Papua, a predominantly-Melanesian region, since the 1960s.
Security forces have been accused of human rights abuses while conducting counter-insurgency operations.
Fien Harini, who hails from Solo in Central Java, still remembers when Ireng, her mongrel pet dog, disappeared and never returned home.
“I cried for days. In Solo, when a pet dog doesn’t return home, you can be sure the dog is stolen to be slaughtered for meat and will end up in one of those dog meat satay stalls,” she said.
“Dog meat dishes purported to boost virility and have healing qualities are popular delicacies in Solo. But there is not enough supply so pet dogs, especially mongrels, are highly targeted by poachers,” she added.
In Jakarta, meat derived from dogs is served in dishes offered by specialty eateries called lapo. Customers can identify such establishment if they see the number B1 – a code for dog meat – on the signage.
The trade of dog and cat meat remains rampant in some parts of Indonesia, where dog meat dishes are traditional delicacies for some ethnic and cultural groups. However, dog and cat meat are not included among consumable meat products regulated by the country’s food law.
Roughly 7% of Indonesia’s 260 million population consume dog meat, according to an estimate drawn by the Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition, which has investigated the illegal trade. It is campaigning to abolish dog meat trade, end animal cruelty, promote animal welfare and halt the spread of zoonotic diseases.
Its effort appears to be gaining ground, as the government has said it plans to issue a regulation that will ban dog meat and other meat derived from cats and exotic animals.
A national forum on animal welfare held in Jakarta earlier this month agreed that dog meat is not for human consumption and its commercial distribution should be banned.
Syamsul Ma’arif, director of veterinary public health at the agriculture ministry, said a ministerial regulation to that effect was in the pipeline
“The regulation will emphasise on banning practices that are violations of animal welfare. It will not regulate consumption so much for those whose culture that recognize it,” Ma’arif said.
He added that it would take some time to finalize the regulation since it will have to accommodate many interests, but he expects the ministry to issue it within this year.
DMFI representatives who attended the forum played a video made during their country-wide investigation into the cruelty behind the dog meat trade, which shows just how bad the dogs are treated.
Ma’arif acknowledged the way dogs are handled in the trade amounts to “torture.” He also said the government clearly forbids consumption of dog meat.
He told officials of veterinary and livestock agencies attending the forum that animal cruelty and the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks from the illegal meat trade could drive animal rights-conscious foreign tourists away from their regions if they continue to allow this practice.
This could be detrimental to the government’s efforts to lure more foreign tourists to improve state revenue.
The prospect of a government crackdown was hailed by DMFI, which comprises local and international animal rights groups including Animal Friends Jogja (AFJ), Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), Four Paws, Change for Animals Foundation and Humane Society International.
“This is a huge leap for animal welfare in Indonesia. We really appreciate that government has finally acknowledged our concerns,” AFJ director Bobby Fernando said.
JAAN co-founder Karin Franken said it was high time that the trade was abolished since its existence undermines the government’s pledge to eliminate fatal zoonotic diseases such as rabies by 2020.
While Jakarta has been declared rabies-free, the disease is endemic in 25 out of Indonesia’s 34 provinces.
She said however, there is a steady supply of dog meat to lapos in the capital city. They source the meat from a supplier who goes twice a week to catch stray dogs and kidnap pets in neighboring towns in West Java.
As the meat trade is illegal, the whole process of preparing dog meat dishes in those restaurants goes unchecked without proper health screening, slaughter process and carcass disposal.
“The supplier can bring 30 to 40 dogs per trip into Jakarta. This could put the city on the risk of rabies outbreak,” she said.
A dog meat supplier in East Jakarta who goes only by one name, Yuri, said he priced dog meat by the kilogramme. He declined to say what he charged but said that it was competitive prices quoted by another supplier in Central Jakarta.
Wiwiek Bagja, a senior veterinarian and former chairwoman of the Indonesian Veterinary Association, said the government should stress to regional governments that they have an obligation to enforce national legislation on animal welfare.
Despite the absence of specific regulation banning inter-regional dog meat distribution, she said local administrations should strictly supervise such movement to curb the spread of zoonotic diseases.
“Unstipulated and unspecified movement of dogs is proven to have contaminated rabies-free regions,” she said.
“There is a much bigger risk of zoonosis epidemic compared to the mythical benefits of eating dog meat. We can’t let the interest of a small fraction of people to spoil the country,” she added.
Dog meat consumer Kristian Purnomo opposes the pending regulation, saying dog meat dishes are a long-standing tradition and part of Indonesia’s diverse cultures that should not be abolished.
He eats dog meat dishes, which he says warms his body and have softer texture. He also consumes other exotic foods such as snake meat from time to time, especially when he travels to regions where they are part of the local diet.
“We just have to be discreet about it. I understand that people object to it because dogs are cute and cuddly pets and are not livestock. I love dogs and have a pet dog, too,” he said.
“But what about chicken, cows, and other livestock? Will people campaign against eating them when someday they are not categorised as livestock and considered as cute pets?” Purnomo said, adding that to him a dog meat dish when served is just like any other dish from chicken or cattle.
The campaign against dog meat consumption, he said, could undermine deeply rooted local traditions, citing efforts by one NGO to abolish centuries-old traditional whaling in Lamalera, a coastal village in Lembata Island in East Nusa Tenggara province.
The island’s land is mainly vast savanna and not suitable for farming, so villagers have turned to the sea for subsistence. Whaling there is steeped in a set of customary rules, such as a restriction on hunting pregnant whales.
“Let’s just appreciate it with discretion accordingly as a local tradition,” he added.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs has revamped its supervision of Umrah tour operators and imposed a moratorium on issuing licenses to new ones as of April.
The moratorium was imposed as a major Umrah scam case, which cost 58,682 aspiring Umrah pilgrims a combined loss of 848.70 billion rupiah ($60 million), was being heard at a court near Jakarta.
On May 30, the Depok district court on the outskirts of Jakarta handed down respectively 20- and 18-year prison terms to the husband and wife team Andika Surachman and Anniesa Hasibuan, a fashion designer who made a name for herself after her modest fashion collection was debuted internationally in London and showcased at New York Fashion Week in Sep 2016, during which “her works received eminent applause,” according to the fashion week’s website.
“We are reviewing the 906 Umrah tour operators currently listed in the ministry. We have also revoked licenses of four operators so far this year,” ministry spokesman Mastuki said.
“The minister of religious affairs has also issued a ministerial regulation which details new rules for Umrah tour operators to abide by, such as the price reference should be at least 20 million rupiah ($1,428) and customers should be able to go to Makkah no longer than six months since they made their first payments,” Mastuki added.
Sobandi, the presiding judge, also gave Anniesa and her husband Andika a 10-billion-rupiah fine each on fraud, embezzlement and money laundering charges.
Mastuki said the verdicts are proper punishments that everyone has to accept.
“Justice has been served, despite the consequences and losses that their customers suffered,” he said.
Through a Jakarta-based travel agency, which they had established in 2009, First Travel, Anniesa and Andika used to offer a cheap Umrah package, which cost about 14.3 million rupiah ($1,000) and was $300 cheaper than a normal package would cost.
“The defendants had known from the start that the 14.3-million-rupiah package per person would not be enough to send a customer to perform Umrah,” Yulinda Trimurti, a member of the panel of judges, said during the hearing.
The pair, whose lavish lifestyle was on full display on their social media accounts, had promised customers who paid in full that they could go to Makkah for Umrah in a year.
But customers’ complaints began to arise and were made public after a group of would-be pilgrims failed to depart to Makkah in March 2017 and the travel agent could not give an estimated schedule of when they could eventually go.
From December 2016 to May 2017, there were 72,682 Umrah hopefuls signed up for the cheap package that First Travel offered, but the company was only able to send 14,000 customers to Saudi Arabia.
The pair also owed 24 billion rupiah ($1.7 million) to three hotels in Makkah and Madinah.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs revoked First Travel’s license as an Umrah operator in early August last year and later in the month, the police named the pair and Anniesa’s younger sister Siti Nuraidah Hasibuan as suspects and charged them with fraud and money laundering. Siti Nuraidah, also known as Kiki, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the same court.
Anniesa had been listed among Forbes Indonesia’s 2017 Inspiring Women earlier last year before the fraud case became public. But later in August, the magazine announced on its official Facebook page that it has removed her from the list.
“Forbes Indonesia endorses ethical business practices and wish to inspire others to achieve their success through ethical means of doing business,” the magazine said.
The police are now investigating a similar case involving a Makassar-based Umrah tour operator Abu Tour. Mastuki said Abu Tour’s case was similar to First Travel, which gained customers through Ponzi-scheme promotions and cheap packages.
“Initially there were about 80,000 prospective pilgrims who couldn’t go, but some have been remedied and sent on Umrah trips through other operators,” he added.
The long waiting list for Indonesians to go on Hajj, which could extend for more than two decades, has created a lucrative market for Umrah tour operators in the world’s largest Muslim population country to send pilgrim hopefuls to Makkah.
A Saudi couple from Tabuk have met the Indonesian domestic helper they pardoned after she was sentenced to death for murdering their 11-month-old child in 2009.
Ghalib Nasir Al-Hamri Al-Balawi and his wife arrived in Indonesia on May 3 for a week-long stay, which included a visit to Cirebon in West Java to meet Masamah bint Raswa Sanusi and her family.
“I didn’t seek for anything else by giving her pardon but God’s mercy,” Al-Balawi said through a translator during a press conference at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Jakarta on Monday.
He said that he was very impressed with the hospitality showed by Indonesia during their first visit to the country.
Arief Hidayat, an official from the Foreign Ministry’s Directorate for Protection of Indonesian Citizens Abroad, said that the couple’s visit was facilitated by the Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah in appreciation of the couple’s compassion and willingness to forgive Masamah.
“We took them to Cirebon by train and they were greeted by the acting Cirebon district head upon arrival,” Hidayat said, adding that they also took the couple to the safari park in Cisarua in the mountainous Puncak area, a popular destination for tourists from Middle Eastern countries.
Masamah’s lengthy trial began in 2009 after local authorities accused her of murdering Al-Balawi’s child after they found her fingerprints on the baby’s face.
Masamah has always maintained her innocence and said that she only rubbed the baby’s face after she found it unconscious. She was sentenced to five years in prison in 2014 but the district attorney appealed and she was sentenced to death in 2016.
During her appeal trial in March 2017, Al-Balawi pardoned her and decided not to demand blood money, but Masamah still had to serve the remaining two and a half years of her prison sentence.
She was released from prison in January and stayed at the consulate general’s shelter until she was cleared to leave and return to Indonesia in March.
Al-Balawi and his wife’s visit came after the execution of an Indonesian national who had been working as a driver, Muhammad Zaini Misrin on March 18 after a court has found him guilty of murdering his employer in 2005. The news of Misrin’s execution caused a national outrage.
The Indonesian government said they didn’t received notification prior to his execution and said that the execution was untimely as Misrin was undergoing another legal avenue to have his case reviewed.
Saudi ambassador to Indonesia, Osamah bin Mohammad Al-Shuaibi said the Saudi authorities had done their part to inform the Indonesian embassy about Misrin’s execution including a notification on the day of the execution before it was carried out.
“What we need to do now is inform those who want to visit Saudi Arabia about the law and that they have to follow the rules in Saudi Arabia. It is our duty to explain to them,” Al Shuaibi said.
“We have to respect the laws in our respective countries,” he added.
Hidayat said there are 20 Indonesians on death row in Saudi prisons and Indonesian officials in Saudi Arabia were making sure that their legal rights were met.
“But it would not annul the crimes that they committed,” he added.
This article has been expanded from its original version in Arab News