Tag: Muhammadiyah

Dr. Corona chairs campaign to contain coronavirus chaos

It seems he was born and named for the job. Emergency medicine expert Dr. Corona Rintawan is heading a task force set up by Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“The Muhammadiyah COVID-19 Command Center (MCCC) is set up to consolidate all Muhammadiyah assets in an integrated effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus,” Rintawan said.

Rintawan was appointed to lead the MCCC, an interdisciplinary task force with 13 experts educating the public on how to stop the spread of the virus.

His emergency experience includes being in medical teams responding to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 and the 2015 Nepal earthquake. He also took part in a humanitarian mission for the Rohingya in Myanmar in 2017.

“We are taking a proactive approach to assist the government in early diagnoses or early treatment for patients that show initial symptoms of infection,” Rintawan said.

He added: “We will ensure that such patients will receive treatment in accordance with the health protocol that the government has issued for the outbreak before we refer them to government hospitals should they need further treatment.”

The 45-year-old doctor, who is based at a Muhammadiyah-run hospital in Lamongan, East Java, said: “The public has to be well-informed that they could carry the risk of spreading the virus. We want to encourage the people to take the initiative to prevent it, by washing their hands often, getting themselves diagnosed should they feel they have symptoms, knowing when they have to wear face masks, donating masks to those who need them and eventually to self-isolate when necessary.

“It is about self-containment by one person who is aware of the situation and knows what to do to take care of oneself in the face of virus threats. It could create a positive domino effect in terms of reducing the potential to contract others with the virus.”

According to Rintawan, Muhammadiyah has designated 20 out of its 171 hospitals across the country to serve as referral facilities for persons suspected of having contracted the virus.

Asked about his name, the doctor said his parents would name their children in alphabetical order. Being the third, his name had to start with “c.”

“There was no such thing as baby name books at that time, so they decided to take my name from the Toyota Corona car, which was a popular model back in the 1970s, and as they also found that it means a crown, which symbolizes something good,” he said.

Government spokesperson for the outbreak Achmad Yurianto said Indonesia reports 17 new Covid-19 positive cases as per Monday, of which 14 are in Jakarta, raising the total confirmed cases to 134 including the first Indonesian senior official contracted by the virus, transport minister Budi Karya Sumadi.

Jakarta Governo Anies Baswedan on Monday urged city residents to exercise social distancing and companies to send staff to work from home, as government officials sent signals that hospitals are overburdened in treating coronavirus patients, with Yurianto saying that not all positive cases should be in hospital isolation and those with asymptomatic cases can self-isolate at home.

“The risk in this city is high. We have to be disciplined in exercising social distance,” Baswedan said.

The story has been updated from its original version in Arab News

Indonesia’s Densus 88 under spotlight after series of wrong arrests and casualties

Siyono’s wife Suratmi probably did the best thing she could when she asked for help from Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second largest Islamic organization, to figure out why her husband died in the custody of the Indonesian police’s counter-terrorism squad Densus 88 last month.

Along with her effort to seek for the truth through Muhammadiyah, she also handed over a bag which she said was given by Densus 88 after her husband’ death. Muhammadiyah in a press conference said the paper bag was loaded with Rp100 million (US$7,606) as a “token of sorry” to Siyono’s family.

The 34-year-old Siyono, was a resident of Dukuh village in Klaten, Central Java. He was arrested on allegations of involvement in terrorism on March 8, died in custody on March 10 and was buried three days later.

According to data from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), he is the 121st person to have died after being arrested by Densus 88 since the elite police unit for counterterrorism was established on Aug. 26, 2004.

The unit, comprising 400-500 personnel, was established on funds by the US State Department and for some times is given credit for turning the tide in Indonesia’s fight against the terrorist organizations.

The police first told a different story about Siyono, whom they said had stashed a handgun and attacked officers while being taken by Densus 88 to a location in Yogyakarta in early March. A scuffle broke out inside the car and Siyono bumped his head, which led to his death, they said.

But an autopsy by doctors affiliated with Muhammadiyah which was conducted at the request of Siyono’s wife revealed he died from blunt trauma to the chest, which broke bones near his heart. The autopsy also found no defensive wounds on his body.

After these revelations, the national Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan on April 5 told reporters the counterterrorism unit had committed several “procedural mistakes” and that this would be investigated.

The House of Representatives plans to summon the chiefs of the National Police and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) to explain a series of deaths involving Densus 88 and terror suspects in recent years.

“The questions are whether Siyono was indeed a terrorist who warranted arrest, and whether he died because he resisted,” said Desmond Mahesa, deputy chairman of House Commission III, which oversees human rights issues, as quoted by local media.

“We plan to meet on Wednesday with the BNPT and next week with the National Police,” the Gerindra Party lawmaker said during a hearing with representatives from Komnas HAM and Muhammadiyah.

The January 14 bombings and shootings in downtown Jakarta shows that terrorism remains a threat to Indonesia’s security despite ongoing counterterrorism measures.

It has now come into the spotlight because of intensifying fears that Indonesians who have slipped out of the country to the Middle East to join the Islamic State, known as ISIS, would be coming home to wreak domestic mayhem.

January attacks in central Jakarta, which took eight lives including four of the attackers, were said to have been organized and funded by Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian computer expert believed to be in Syria. 

The police estimate, some 500 Indonesians are in the Middle East. Some 200 – mostly women and children – have been caught in Turkey and sent back to be kept under surveillance.

However, unnecessary abuses during current counterterrorism operations have highlighted the need for clearer operating procedures for the police. Alleged violations in the arrest and detention of Siyono have heightened concerns that human rights will be compromised from these counterterrorism measures is something real and must be prevented.

The government’s plan to revise the 2003 Terrorism Law has drawn concern and criticism, primarily on its potential for rights abuses. In the law’s draft revision, security institutions have wider authority to take measures against suspected terrorist.

There is also a growing concern on the rise of military involvement in the counter-terrorism effort which has been “politically given” to the police to handle.

The decision to give full authority to the police to handle terrorism instead of the military was originally to avoid civilian casualties during its process. However, too many wrong arrests and erased terror suspects has raised concerns over how the police have been handling the issue.

At the moment, around 2,000 military and police personnel are searching for the militant leader Santoso, who has publicly pledged loyalty to ISIS. He is considered the most wanted terrorist in the country, and his fighters have been on the run for more than three years in the jungles of Central Sulawesi.

The recent involvement of the Indonesian military (TNI) on the chase was after the police realized that they lacked the capability in jungle warfare to be able to do the task. Police chief Badrodin Haiti originally requested that the army raiders and Special Forces train the mobile brigade in jungle warfare.

According to a recent report from Institute for Policy analysis of Conflict (IPAC) the request was passed to the TNI chief, General Gatot, who apparently agreed but then had second thoughts – perhaps not wanting to be accused of militarizing the police and probably not wanting to weaken the case for military engagement in internal security.

The TNI then responded by sending a 60-person special forces (Kopassus) team and a 40-person combat intelligence platoon from the army strategic reserve of command (Kostrad).

Mixed views on whether Indonesia should join Saudi-led alliance to fight terrorism

Indonesia says it has yet to decide whether to join a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism, as observers weigh in on the merit of taking part in the initiative.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said Indonesia would have to learn the terms of reference and modalities before agreeing to such an international alliance.

“Saudi Arabia can’t show us the terms of reference yet,” Arrmanatha said at a press briefing on Wednesday

“We need to learn the modalities to determine whether they are in line with our foreign policy,” he added.

Hamdan Basyar, a Middle East expert from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said there should be no harm for Indonesia to join the initiative because of its purpose to combat militant armed groups.

“We should join for the sake of tackling violent groups like ISIS. It would create a sense of togetherness in this cause,” he said.

The head ofthe Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI)’s international relations and cooperation department, Muhyiddin Junaidi, said Indonesia should not join the alliance,  which gathers 34 Muslim and Muslim-majority countries.

He said there were indications that the initiative was meant to target a certain group and given that there are ongoing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is not a member.

Muhyiddin, who also heads the same department in Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organization Muhammadiyah, said Indonesia should stick to its free and active foreign policy.

“We should refrain from taking sides in a dispute,” Muhyiddin said, adding that the Indonesian people should also understand that the conflict in the Middle East has nothing to do with Shia and Sunni rivalry.

Hamdan said that the perception that the Middle East conflict stemmed from the Shia and Sunni conflict may have caused Indonesia’s reluctance to join the cooperation.

He added that it would be irrelevant to tie it with the geopolitical rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabis, and this was not the cause why Iran is not included on the list.

“It’s more about jostling for dominance in the Middle East,” Hamdan said.

The Saudi Arabia Foreign Ministry said in a press release on 15 December that the 34 Middle Eastern and African countries listed in the statement have decided to form a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism and they would establish an operational center based in Riyadh to coordinate and to fight terrorism.

“More than ten other Islamic countries have expressed their support for this alliance and will take the necessary measures in this regard, including Indonesia,” the statement said.

“We were surprised because the invitation was not to form a military alliance,” Arrmanatha said.

He acknowledged that Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi was contacted by her Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir and talked about joint cooperation, but Retno stressed the need for further discussions before Indonesia could  agree on any cooperation.

“I think all countries support efforts to fight extremism though they may have their own ways to do it,” Arrmanatha said.