Tag: Aceh

Police release transgender women after re-education

Police in Indonesia’s sharia-ruled province of Aceh said Tuesday they had released 12 transgender women after they agreed to act and dress as men.  Continue reading “Police release transgender women after re-education”

Police round up transvestites in Aceh province

Police in Indonesia’s Aceh province, where Islamic law is enforced, rounded up 12 transvestites and made them wear male clothing, a news report said Monday.

The transvestites were arrested on Sunday in several beauty parlours where they were working in North Aceh district as part of a crackdown on what authorities call “social ills,” local police chief Untung Surianata told the state-run Antara news agency.

“These transvestites will be re-educated so they can be real men,” Surianata was quoted as saying.

The officer said they were shaved and told to wear male clothing.

“Officers also asked them to run briefly and scream from the top of their lungs so that their male voices came out,” he added.

Under a version of Islamic law in place in the semi-autonomous Aceh, men who dress as women are not allowed to serve female customers at beauty salons.

Aceh is the only Indonesian province allowed to impose sharia as part of the central government’s attempts to appease a drive for independence in the region.

But elsewhere in Indonesia, sexual minorities have also been subjected to discrimination.

Police in the country’s two largest cities have raided gay clubs and briefly detained dozens of people suspected of engaging in gay prostitution.

The government has also sought to block gay-friendly mobile apps that it says promote “sexual deviance.”

Two men caned in Indonesia’s Aceh for gay sex

Two men convicted of gay sex were caned Tuesday in front of a crowd of onlookers in Indonesia’s sharia-ruled province of Aceh in the first such case in the devoutly Muslim region.  Continue reading “Two men caned in Indonesia’s Aceh for gay sex”

Indonesia’s sexual minorities dealt new blow with conviction of gay couple

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.

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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.”

Haze returns to Sumatra

Forest fires have returned to Sumatera island as haze cloaked much of Pekanbaru and other areas in Riau province, said the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB). Continue reading “Haze returns to Sumatra”

Authorities trying to talk Aceh rebels out of joining Islamic State

Authorities are trying to dissuade former combatants of Free Aceh Movements (GAM) from their desire to join the Islamic State group, Indonesia’s counter-terrorism chief has said.

Local media reported this week that Fakhruddin Bin Kaseem also known as Din Robot, a former commander of the now-defunct separatist group and dozens of his comrades have expressed willingness to join Islamic State for economic reasons.

“It’s their rights, but we are trying to find a solution, through dialogue to give them understanding,” Saud Usman Nasution, chief of the National Counter-Terrorism Agency, said Wednesday.

He was speaking at the launch of books on de-radicalisation written by an Egyptian scholar, Abdul Mon’em Moneb, a reformed Muslim radical.

The former separatists have reportedly complained about economic hardships and a widening social and economic gap among GAM veterans.

“Our legal basis is quite weak [to deal with] who join ISIS. So we are strengthening prevention efforts through dialogue to make people understand [about ISIS],” Saud said.

According to the 2003 law on counter-terrorism, a person can only be charged if there is material evidence that he is planning to carry out a terrorist attack.

The government and GAM rebels signed a peace agreement in 2005, ending decades of conflict that claimed an estimated 15,000 people, mostly civilians.

Saud refused to blame the former combatants’ intention to join IS on the government’s failure to reintegrate them to society. But he acknowledged that some of the former guerrillas had complained that their lives had not improved since laying down their weapons.

“The problem is their welfare and nothing else. It is an individual matter and depends on the mindset. Some of them have succeeded to reintegrate,” Saud said.

Other former comrades have risen to become the province’s top bureaucrats and members of the local elite, including Governor Zaini Abdullah and his deputy Muzakkir Manaf. Authorities say about 300-500 Indonesians have joined Islamic State and at least three are known to have died in combat, including a police officer from Jambi province identified as Syahputra.

Kamaruddin, a deputy chairman of Aceh Party comprised of former GAM combatants, brushed aside the issue, saying that as an ex guerrilla, it would be very difficult for Fakhruddin go to Syria.

“On behalf [former] combatants, what is reported in newspapers in Aceh is a slander. There is no way Din Robot is going to join ISIS. It’s not as easy as he says,” Kamaruddin told CNN Indonesia Tuesday.

Indonesians rejoice as Aceh tsunami survivor joins Sporting Lisbon

Football fans in Indonesia rejoiced after news broke that Martunis, a 17-year-old tsunami survivor from Aceh province, signed with Portugal’s football giants Sporting Lisbon.  Continue reading “Indonesians rejoice as Aceh tsunami survivor joins Sporting Lisbon”