Millions of Indonesians this week began arduous journeys to return to their home towns to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr. Continue reading “Millions of Indonesians begin travelling home to mark Eid al-Fitr”
Social media users in Indonesia have raised more than 2,600 dollars for a 94-year-old street vendor who was robbed of his savings.
A video circulated on Twitter and Instagram last week showing the banana seller, Suratman, visibly shaking and later slumping to the ground after a group of three people in a car stole 1.1 million rupiah (82 dollars) in cash from him.
Suratman, who plies his trade in Kota Baru, Jambi province, said in the video that the robbers pretended to buy a bunch of bananas and when he approached the car, they emptied his pocket and sped off.
Suratman said he had saved the money to buy furniture to welcome the Eid al-Fitr festival, which falls on June 25.
After the video went viral, netizens offered to donate money, and a bank employee volunteered to set up a savings account for him.
“Donations began pouring in after the account was created, reaching about 32 million rupiah as of yesterday,” said Amedio Pradipta, a Twitter user who helped coordinate the fundraising campaign.
A volunteer took Suratman to a furniture store, where he bought a set of sofas using the donated money.
The governor of Jambi province, where Suratman lives, donated 5 million rupiah and bought all of his remaining stock, local media reported.
Those looking to have fun in the Indonesian capital during Ramadan should go elsewhere.
The Jakarta administration has banned nightspots from operating during Ramadan, which is set to begin Saturday, ostensibly to respect those who observe the Muslim fasting month.
Places such as discotheques, massage parlours and saunas have been ordered to shut from one day before Ramadan until one day after Eid al-Fitr, a festival marking the end of the holy month, said Catur Laswanto, head of the city’s tourism agency.
Eid al-Fitr is from June 25 to 26.
Exceptions are to be made for establishments located in hotels and specially-designated entertainment centres, he said.
“The rules are in place so that Muslims can observe the holy month solemnly,” he said.
Similar rules also are in place in other cities in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
In the past, the Muslim vigilante group Islamic Defenders’ Front sometimes raided nightspots that remained open during Ramadan, accusing those places of harbouring prostitutes and drug addicts.
But such raids have been rare in recent years after the government cracked down on violators of Ramadan hours and the sale of alcohol.
Mahdi Ba’bud, a local head of the Islamic Defenders’ Front in Jakarta, said his group would not conduct any raids this Ramadan.
“The police will take action,” he said. “We are just watching.”
Police in the Indonesian capital Jakarta raided a gay club and arrested 141 people on suspicion of involvement in “gay prostitution”, an officer said.
Ten people have been named suspects after the raid on Atlantis Gym and Sauna in north Jakarta on Sunday night, including the club’s owners and organizers of an event featuring a striptease, said local police detective chief Nasriadi, who goes by one name.
Four foreigners – two Malaysians, one Singaporean and one Briton – were among those arrested, Nasriadi said.
Rights activists condemned the arrests after photos of naked and shirtless club-goers being rounded up by police circulated on the internet.
“Such arbitrary action degrades the humanity of the victims,” said the Coalition Against Violence Against Sexual Minorities.
Homosexuals in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country have been on the defensive following last year’s barrage of anti-gay rhetoric and actions by officials.
Last week, a court in the sharia-ruled province of Aceh sentenced a male couple to 85 strokes of the cane for gay sex.
The two were scheduled to be publicly caned on Tuesday morning, said an official at the prosecutor’s office in Banda Aceh.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch urged President Joko Widodo to intervene and stop the caning.
“Jokowi needs to be clear to Aceh’s authorities that flogging is torture for which they will be held to account,” said Phelim Kine, the New York-based rights group’s deputy director for Asia, using the president’s nickname.
Last month, police in Indonesia’s second-largest city Surabaya raided hotel rooms and detained eight men for participating in a “gay sex party.”
The gay community in Indonesia was dealt another blow after a court in the sharia-ruled province of Aceh sentenced a gay couple to 85 strokes of the cane, in the first such case in the country.
Sexual minorities in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country are already on the defensive following last year’s barrage of anti-gay rhetoric and actions by officials.
“This is a sad day for the LGBT community,” said Yuli Rustinawati, spokeswoman for Arus Pelangi, a group that advocates for the country’s lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT).
“It is ironic because today we are celebrating International Day Against Homophobia,” she said.
Sexual minorities and rights activists feared the worst after Aceh’s parliament issued a new set of Islamic laws, known as qanun jinayat, regulating private morality in 2014. The laws took effect in October 2015.
Under the law, sex out of wedlock and same-sex sexual acts are punishable by 100 lashes of the cane, or 100 months in prison.
The previous laws banned gambling, alcohol and being alone with someone of the opposite sex while unmarried, but did not specifically regulate sexual acts.
“Qanun jinayat that is used to convict [the gay couple] is discriminatory and the punishment meted out is especially harsh,” said Adreas Harsono, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.
“Their rigths were also violated because they were mistreated during their arrest,” he said.
Local vigilantes barged into the couple’s rented room in the city of Banda Aceh and handed them over to sharia police.
A video posted on YouTube showed a visibly distressed naked man surrounded by angry locals.
Many homosexuals have left Aceh since the introduction of the laws, Harsono said.
Transgender people in Aceh had very few job opportunities, forcing many of them to resort to working as hairdressers at salons.
But even as hairdressers, they are banned from serving female customers.
The once-rebellious Aceh has long been known as a staunchly Muslim
region and is nicknamed “The Veranda of Mecca.”
The central government granted Aceh special autonomy in 2002 to
mollify desires for independence, allowing the province to impose its version of sharia laws.
Jakarta and separatist rebels signed a peace pact in 2005, ending
decades of conflict that killed 15,000 people, mostly civilians. The deal was spurred by the Indian Ocean tsunami a year earlier that killed more than 170,000 people in Aceh.
The mayor of provincial capital Banda Aceh, Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, has referred to the growing visibility of gays and lesbians as a “moral tsunami.”
She said her government has formed a special team to provide counselling for homosexual people.
In the rest of Indonesia, consensual sex between people of the same sex is not a crime, but hostility toward homosexuals has been growing.
Early last year, Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir warned of pro-LGBT activities on university campuses and banned such groups.
Last month, police in Indonesia’s second largest city Surabaya raided hotel rooms and detained eight men for participating in a “gay sex party.”
The government has sought to block gay-friendly mobile apps that it says promote “sexual deviance” and has also asked social networking services to remove emoticons from the Indonesian market which depict same-sex couples.
Arus Pelangi, the LGBT group, said it recorded more than 150 incidents of discrimination, harassment and attacks against LGBT people last year.
The government has also blocked international funding for organizations working to help sexual minorities, said Harsono of Human Rights Watch.
The Constitutional Court is considering a case filed by a group of conservative academics that seeks to criminalize consensual gay sex among adults, with proposed penalties of up to five years in prison. No verdict on the petition had been passed.
“Things are getting worse and worse for LGBT people,” said Harsono.
“I’m at loss for words about the inhumanity.”
In the dingy and steamy kitchen of a restaurant in Jakarta, chef Michael Kenzo slowly stirs a big pan of dark coloured meat mixed with chilli and spices, sweat streaming down his face. Continue reading “It’s a man-eat-dog world: Appetite for dog meat persists in Indonesia”
Tanjung Gusta – Indigenous communities in Indonesia on Friday urged President Joko Widodo to grant them greater rights to forest management, saying they are the best protectors of forests.
The call was made at the Archipelago Indigenous Peoples Congress attended by hundreds of representatives from dozens of Indonesia’s indigenous communities at Tanjung Gusta in North Sumatra province.
“We’ll fight for our rights to the last drop of our blood,” said the secretary general of the Archipelago Indigenous Peoples Alliance (AMAN), Abdon Nababan, to the cheers of those attending.
“We’ve been engaging in dialogue with little result, but we still believe Mr Jokowi will make good on his promises, at least for now,” he said, using the president’s popular nickname.
Joko cancelled his scheduled attendance at the congress and instead sent Minister of the Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar.
AMAN says more than 8.2 million hectares of forest belongs to the nation’s myriad indigenous groups, but Joko’s government has so far only granted a total of 13,122 hectares to nine customary communities.
Bakar said the government was in the process of verifying other claims.
“There should be no doubt that the government is taking real action with respect to this important subject,” she said.
“This government is a government that is providing solutions and can be trusted to support the struggle of indigenous peoples.”
Studies to be presented at the World Bank’s 18th Annual Land and Poverty Conference in Washington next week confirm indigenous leaders’ claims that local communities are best-equipped to protect forests around the globe, the indigenous congress’ organizers said.
One study suggests that carbon-rich peatlands that have been ravaged by annual forest fires in Indonesia could be saved if the government gives greater forest rights to local communities.
“The findings suggest that granting communal land rights to indigenous inhabitants of tropical forests is among the most underused and effective solutions to combating violence, poverty and the illegal deforestation that fuels climate change,” they said in a statement.