Tag: Australia

Briton admits to bashing Bali policeman

A British man detained in connection with the death of a policeman on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali has admitted to hitting the officer with a beer bottle and binoculars.  Continue reading “Briton admits to bashing Bali policeman”

Indonesia executes four convicted drug traffickers

Indonesia executed four convicted drug traffickers on Friday, a top prosecutor said, in the third such group execution since President Joko Widodo took office in October 2014.  Continue reading “Indonesia executes four convicted drug traffickers”

An Indonesian miner survives 300 meter underground as rescue attempt underway

A rescue operation was under way Sunday to free a miner who has been trapped for seven days in an underground gold mine on Halmahera island in Indonesia’s North Maluku province.

Solo drill operator Mursalim Sahman, 36, is reportedly in good health despite being trapped in a mining chamber 300 metres underground and has maintained contact with his family using a newly installed phone line.

The Gosowong gold mine is operated by PT Nusa Halmahera Mineral (NHM), a joint venture between Australia’s Newcrest Mining, which controls 75 per cent of the shares, and state-owned miner PT Aneka Tambang.

“Earlier this morning we broke through into the chamber where Mursalim is located after completing the boring of a 70-centimetre diameter hole approximately 38 metres deep. This is a significant milestone in developing our primary rescue option,” Newcrest managing director and CEO Sandeep Biswan said in a statement released Sunday.

“Before we attempt the extraction, we will need to line the bore hole so that we can safely bring Mursalim up. It is expected that lining the hole will take several days,” Biswan said.

Local news web site Viva.co.id reported that there were 50 miners who were working in the Kencana underground mine tunnel when it collapsed on Monday, but 49 managed to get out, while Mursalim, who is a native of Halmahera, failed to do the same as he was manning heavy machinery.

The rescue operation has been under way since then. Operation of the company’s underground mines, which produce gold and silver dore, has been halted in the meantime.

A spokeswoman for NHM, Herastuti Haryogyo said the company was able to establish first contact with Mursalim Wednesday at around 10:00 Eastern Indonesia Time (WIT) since the collapse through a 54-meter bore hole with small diameter.

According to the company, Mursalim told the rescue team that he has some food and water supply to go by underground.

The company said a “geotechnical” event of unknown cause spurred the mine collapse, which occurred at 8:30 pm on Monday.

NHM workforce is about 1,700 employees and contractors. It produced 331,555 ounces of gold as of June 2015.

 

Rights groups reiterated calls for Indonesia to end death penalty

A year since the Indonesian government carried out the first round of executions on drug offenders, international and national right activists reiterated their calls on the government to impose a moratorium on executions.

In an open letter to Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, international rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) and nine rights advocacy group in Indonesia said the moratorium would be the first step towards abolishing death penalty in the country.

They also urged the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to establish an independent body or mandate an existing one to review cases where people have been sentenced to death.

“With a view of commuting the death sentences or in cases where the procedures were seriously flawed, offer a retrial that fully complies with international fair trial standards and which does not resort to death penalty,” the rights advocates wrote in their letter to Luhut dated 18 January, 2015 or a year after the first round of executions.

The Attorney General office said last year they have prepared a list of 14 death row inmates – not all of them are drug convicts – who will face the firing squad this year, but they have not set a date yet for the executions. In November, Luhut said that the government has put on hold any plans for executions as they were concentrating on fixing the sluggish economy.

The government carried out executions on six drug convicts, including five foreigners in January last year and another one in late April 2015, when eight drug offenders including seven foreigners were executed in Central Java’s prison island of Nusa Kambangan. The executions resulted in a diplomatic rifts with countries whose citizens were killed, including Australia.

The third round of executions would likely include two Europeans, French man Serge Atlaoui and British grandmother 59-year-old Lindsay Sandiford, as well as a Filipino woman Mary Jane Veloso.

The latter was granted a last-minute reprieve from the firing squad in April to allow her to testify against suspects in the Philippines who allegedly duped her into being a drug mule after promising her a job overseas. Sandiford was sentenced to death in 2012 after she was caught smuggling drugs into Bali. Atlaoui lost his last-ditch appeal to avoid execution after Jakarta’s State Administrative Court rejected his appeal challenging the president’s decision to deny his clemency request.

In the wake of last year’s executions, the European Union (EU) strongly criticised Indonesia’s use of death penalty to deal with drug offenders as regrettable, but Jokowi has pledged not to relent in his war on drugs, saying that Indonesia is facing a drug emergency and the problem required “serious and urgent measures.”

Director of Brussels-based think tank EU- Asia Centre, Dr. Fraser Cameron said the EU always has a strong position against death penalty because it is one of the fundamental principles of the EU.

“Death penalty doesn’t work. That’s why many countries abolished it,” Cameron told a group of visiting Asian journalists, including The Parrot, in Brussels recently.

“There is no evidence that death penalty is a deterrent and in terms of basic human rights, it is simply unacceptable,” he said, adding that there is always the possibility  an innocent person would be executed as it has happened before in many countries.

He also said that the EU don’t overlook this matter even when forging cooperation with big economies such the United States or China and would lobby against death penalty not just with Indonesia, but also other countries that still have it in their legal system.

AI said that 140 countries are abolitionist in law or practice.

“The resumption of of executions in Indonesia have not only set Indonesia against its international obligations but also against the global trend towards abolition of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” the rights advocates said in the letter.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane Veloso had some family time when her parents and two sons visited her in a Yogyakarta prison to celebrate her 31st birthday last week.

“Her family still maintains hope that Mary Jane could return home and reunite with the family,” her lawyer Agus Salim said.

Indonesia believes Australia paid people smugglers

A letter from Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop did not address questions on whether Australian authorities paid people smugglers thousands of dollars to take asylum seekers back to Indonesia, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said. Continue reading “Indonesia believes Australia paid people smugglers”

How will a 40% cut in Australian aid affect Indonesia?

Don K. Marut

Lecturer in International Relations at Bina Nusantara University

The Australian government has announced it will cut aid to Indonesia by A$220 million, or 40%, compared to the allocation in last year’s budget. President Joko Widodo responded with a straightforward statement: Continue reading “How will a 40% cut in Australian aid affect Indonesia?”

Transnational campaign against death penalty in Indonesia began with political prisoners

Vannessa Hearman

Lecturer in Indonesian Studies at University of Sydney

World attention has focused on Indonesia’s recent executions. But this year also marks the 30th anniversary of the execution of three Indonesian political prisoners.

In 1985, the Suharto regime executed Joko Untung, Gatot Lestario and Rustomo. With little warning to their families, they were taken in the middle of the night to a field in Pamekasan on the island of Madura, off the north coast of East Java, and shot.

The men had been in prison since 1968 and 1969. Their crime was to try to resurrect the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in the southern parts of East Java.

Opposition to the death penalty during the Suharto era was primarily part of the campaign against the authoritarian regime in Indonesia. This campaign united Indonesian and international organisations and involved ordinary citizens in countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands.

The story of Gatot Lestario

Lestario was a high school teacher and an organiser of the PKI in East Java until 1965. The PKI was the third-largest communist party in the world at that time.

In September 1965, a group calling itself the 30th of September Movement kidnapped and killed seven high-ranking army officers. This was painted as a coup attempt against President Sukarno. The army leadership, led by Major General Suharto, blamed it on the PKI.

Half a million leftists were killed in the 1965-66 pogroms. Many were imprisoned, mostly without trial, for varying lengths of time. A small number of leftists categorised as those “most involved” in the 30th of September Movement, including communist leaders, were executed. Suharto became president in 1968 and led Indonesia for the next 30 years.

Lestario and a few dozen surviving PKI cadres managed to survive in hiding. In 1967, they retreated to construct a base in South Blitar to resist the Suharto regime.

The military destroyed the base by September 1968 and thousands were killed, arrested and displaced. The surviving militants were jailed, some in Jakarta and the rest, including Lestario, in East Java. He was tried and sentenced to death in 1976.

International campaign for Lestario

While on death row, Lestario, who was adept in Dutch and English in addition to Indonesian and Javanese languages, began writing to penfriends who were involved in the Quakers and Amnesty International. Lestario convinced his penfriends to take up his case in their respective countries and in Indonesia.

One of the founders of Amnesty International, Eric Baker was a Quaker and he urged the Quakers to support Amnesty’s anti-torture campaign launched in 1973. The Quakers set up the Campaign Against Torture and the Prisoner Befriending Scheme as a result. The scheme encouraged Quaker congregations to write to political prisoners around the world.

In 1983, Doreen Brown, who lived in London, sent Lestario a Christmas card to which he replied. Through his letters, Lestario was able to provide information to Amnesty International and Tapol, an Indonesian human rights organisation also based in London. Tapol was founded by former Indonesian political prisoner Carmel Budiardjo in 1973.

Lestario described prison conditions and the situation of the 22 political prisoners in Pamekasan. Despite being behind bars, Lestario worked with this transnational network to improve the conditions of political prisoners and to campaign for their release.

The Browns wrote and circulated two petitions, signed by hundreds of people, addressed to the Indonesian government for the release of Lestario and his wife Pudjiaswati. Lestario’s clemency appeal to President Suharto was denied in 1984.

In the same year, after a brief moratorium on executions, leftist prisoners began to be executed again, starting with Mohammad Munir. Munir was formerly a trade union leader with the World Federation of Trade Unions and member of the PKI Politburo.

Lestario expressed his concern to his penfriends about this worrying development. He hoped that Amnesty could pressure the foreign minister, Mochtar Kusumaatmadja, on his 1985 visit to London to commute the Indonesian death sentences.

Despite his optimism, Lestario was shot in July 1985. His mother was able to spend his last moments with him. But his wife, herself in prison in East Java, and his children were not aware of his execution until days later.

In Westminster, England, the Browns organised a memorial meeting on October 2 1985 for the executed men. At the end of the meeting, people were asked to take home a flower to press and dry to remember the men by.

One year on, they published a book of extracts from Lestario’s letters, a tribute to their friend, titled The Last Years of Gatot Lestario. Handwritten then photocopied, hand-bound and stitched, the couple made 220 books and from the proceeds they raised funds for political prisoners in Indonesia and their families.

Campaign for abolition

The subversion law, upon which Lestario’s execution was based, was repealed in 1998 when the Suharto regime ended. But the death penalty still stands for other crimes.

The campaign against the death penalty today has been more difficult to maintain and less visible, because in the past it was so intertwined with the fight for democracy in Indonesia.

But a transnational campaign against the death penalty can be built today in the footsteps of previous campaigns developed between Indonesians and the international community.

The article was originally published on http://www.theconversation.com

To read the article, go to https://theconversation.com/transnational-campaign-against-death-penalty-in-indonesia-began-with-political-prisoners-40962?