Indonesia News Digest No 33 - September 1-8, 2006

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

NEWS & ISSUES

* Local NGOs give cold shoulder to forum

* Foreign, local NGOs firm on Batam protest

* Riau Police deny permit for activist gathering

ACEH

* NGOs demand probe into BRR allegations

WEST PAPUA

* So close to Australia, so far from hope

* Papua: Bows, arrows and a tense gold mine

* Riot police blamed for killings

* Security car of Freeport mine shot at

* Defendants boycott Abepura trial

* Indonesian police separate warring Papuan tribes

MUNIR ASSASSINATION

* Two years after Munir murder police asked to
question Muchdi

* Two years after Munir’s death SBY must reaffirm
commitment

* President asked to form new investigation team
in Munir case

* 500 NGO activists demand police complete Munir
investigation

* 500 demand chief of police resign if Munir’s
murder is not solved

* Call for independent commission to investigate
Munir murder

HUMAN RIGHTS/LAW

* NGO urges city to enact moratorium on evictions

* Court examines defamation ban

* Youths demand end to death penalty

* Constitutional Court’s verdicts ’questionable’

LABOUR ISSUES

* Government prepares bill to protect domestic
workers

* Housemaids still vulnerable to exploitation,
abuse

* Sanyo workers stage strike

* Study says no to labor law changes

POLITICS/POLITICAL PARTIES

* Hasyim shuns new NU-backed party

* Political party flags displayed at site of
Jakarta fire

LAPINDO MUD DISASTER

* Government to form national team on mudflow

* NGOs warn Lapindo, government

* Mudflow victims vent their anger

* TV station digs a hole for Lapindo

* Frustration boils over in East Java

* Sidoarjo turnpike awash in sludge

ENVIRONMENT

* Students call for logging probe

* Environmental degradation blamed for extreme
heat

* Government to sue firms over forest fires

* Firms light forest fires

GENDER ISSUES

* Women seek greater political clout to fight
fundamentalism

* ’Women’s movement needs to get its act together’

* Women activists urge end to abuse in name of
religion

HEALTH & EDUCATION

* Nutrition poor in Aceh, Nias

* Bird flu public awareness drive takes flight

* Elephantiasis found in new areas

* Major obstacles remain in bird flu fight: UNICEF

AID & DEVELOPMENT

* Number of poor rises to over 39 million: BPS
Jakarta

* Government unveils plan to empower the poor

ISLAM/RELIGION

* Interfaith peace ’requires action’

* NU preaches against radicalism

* Media asked to promote tolerance

* Changes needed to Islamic view on homosexuality

ARMED FORCES/DEFENSE

* Government says TNI trials need time

* Jakarta’s intelligence service hires Washington
lobbyists

* TNI won’t name arms suspects

ECONOMY & INVESTMENT

* World Bank: Indonesia losing appeal as invest
destination

* IMF urges government action on economy

OPINION & ANALYSIS

* Indonesia winning plaudits in post-9/11
terrorism battle

* Forgotten Munir

* Munir inspires us to continue his struggle

* Seeking Aceh’s new leaders

* Poverty increases 11 percent

* No going back on regional autonomy: Analysts

 NEWS & ISSUES

Local NGOs give cold shoulder to forum

Jakarta Post - September 7, 2006

Jakarta/Batam — Warned they were unwelcome in
Singapore, the site of an upcoming World
Bank/International Monetary Fund annual
conference, hundreds of NGO activists from 40
countries chose nearby Batam to host an opposition
forum.

But the 700 participants are receiving a similarly
frosty reception there as well, with the local
authorities rejecting their request to hold the
gathering. It was planned for the Haj Dormitory.

Opposition also is coming from an unexpected
quarter: their local counterparts and other
groups.

The latter, including the Independent Political
Watch (IPW), Cinta Anak Negeri, the Marginal
People Forum, DPD Formasda, GP 27 Juli, Mapan,
BP7KR and youth group Pemuda Pancasila, made their
opposition to the event public by jointly placing
a half-page, ad in Tribun Batam daily on Monday.

In the ad, they argued a big gathering of NGO
activists would undermine the investment climate
on the island, which was recently declared a
special economic zone, with support from
Singapore.

On Tuesday, Riau Islands Police chief Brig. Gen.
Sutarman, who has voiced opposition to the
gathering, hosted a lunch at the Sanur Batam
Center with representatives of about 20 NGOs also
opposed to the event.

"I don’t know for sure what they were talking
about, maybe they discussed their common stance
regarding the planned gathering of foreign NGOs in
Batam," Riau Islands Police spokesman Sr. Comr.
Anggaria Lopis told The Jakarta Post.

Speculation is rife about the reasons for the
NGOs’ opposition. Some observers claim the NGOs
have been paid off to take the authorities’ side.
They say they saw posters on side streets in
Batam, with the message: "We provide people for
demonstrations, price negotiable."

The deputy director of the International NGO Forum
on Indonesian Development, Dian Kartika Sari,
assured local authorities that the gathering would
be peaceful and there was no reason to ban it.

"Moreover, we will just have meetings, meetings
and more meetings, with some cultural shows at
night. Maybe, there will be some art events, but
nothing rowdy, let alone violent."

She warned that barring the holding of the event
would diminish Indonesia’s international
reputation.

(With additional reporting from The Jakarta Post
contributor Fadli in Batam)


Foreign, local NGOs firm on Batam protest

Jakarta Post - September 6, 2006

Fadli, Bintan — Foreign and local nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) insisted Tuesday they would
go ahead with plans to hold a protest meeting in
Batam called the International People’s Forum vs
the IMF and World Bank, despite opposition from
local police.

Ramches Merdeka, chairperson of the Child
Protection Forum, which will act as the meeting’s
organizing committee, said the 700 participants of
74 NGOs from 40 countries were determined to
gather.

"We’re still focused on our preparations to hold
the meeting in Batam. Sure, it will be in Batam,
there is no change. If the police dare to ban it,
it means we’re entering the Soeharto era again,"
Ramches said.

The NGO meeting is planned for Sept. 12-18, to
coincide with the annual meeting of the boards of
governors of the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank Group in Singapore.

Riau Islands Police chief Brig. Gen. Sutarman said
the police would not support the group’s plan. "We
have agreed not to recommend their meeting in
Batam. If they insist, we will disperse them by
force. We will arrest them if they continue,"
Sutarman said on the sidelines of President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono’s visit to Bintang.

Sutarman added that businesspeople investing
heavily in Batam had sent a letter to the police
to express their objections to the NGOs’ plan.

There are at least 60 foreign investment companies
operating at the 300-hectare Batamindo Industrial
Estate as a result of close cooperation between
the Indonesian government and its Singaporean
counterpart.

Sutarman argued the police’s determination to
break up the meeting did not contradict the 1998
law protecting freedom of expression in public.

"Just look for another locale. You can see how
Batam is aggressively promoting itself as a major
investment destination. If they want to protest a
meeting in Singapore, why are they doing it in
Batam?" Sutarman asked.

Wawan Irawan of the operations section of the Haj
Dormitory in Batam, where the NGOs plan to hold
their meeting, said the dormitory had been booked
by the International NGO Forum on Indonesian
Development (Infid) as a coordinator of the event
four months earlier.

"If they go ahead with their plan, it will
certainly help the dormitory’s coffers," Wawan
said, explaining that the dormitory would reap
about Rp 100 million (US$11,000) from the meeting.
"However, they do not have a recommendation from
the police, which is one of the requirements we
asked from them."

Due to the absence of the police recommendation,
he said, the dormitory had not given the NGOs
final approval. "We have delayed all other
bookings from Sept. 12 to Sept. 18. We are turning
away other proposals because they would coincide
with the NGOs’ meeting," he said, adding that his
office would wait until this weekend to resolve
whether the group could use the dormitory.


Riau Police deny permit for activist gathering

Jakarta Post - September 1, 2006

Fadli, Batam — Unhappy with the thought that
hundreds of activists from 40 countries might
flock Batam Island to attend an international
forum has made Riau Islands Police think twice
about issuing a permit for the event.

Ramches Merdeka from the NGO Children’s Protection
Forum said Wednesday that some 700 activists from
74 NGOs had confirmed their participation in the
forum, titled International People’s Forum against
the World Bank and International Monetary Fund
(IMF), in Batam’s haj dormitory from Sept. 12 to
18.

The forum is set to be held concurrently with the
international financial institutions’ conference
in Singapore, which has banned the activists’
planned protests.

Riau Islands Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr.
Anggaria Lopis told The Jakarta Post on Thursday
that the police would not issue a permit for the
event to be held on the island.

He said the decision was made following a meeting
Monday between his office’s directorate of
intelligence and security with representatives of
the Jakarta-based International NGO Forum on
Indonesian Development (Infid), Dian Kartika Sari
and Donatus.

"It’s not true they are permitted to hold the
forum in Batam. The forum is of no benefit to us
in Batam," Anggaria said. The police, he said,
feared the forum, which will include protests,
would disrupt law and order.

"If the foreign NGOs insist on coming to Batam,
we’ll close the forum," Anggaria said, denying the
decision was made based on pressure from the
government or Singapore.

The 1998 Law on Freedom of Expression allows
people to express themselves through protests,
parades, public meetings and speeches in public
spaces. Organizers are required to inform the
police in writing at least three days before the
event.

Ramches he said as one of the local organizers his
group would continue preparations, adding that the
police had not mentioned anything about
prohibiting the forum in the Monday meeting
between Infid and the police.

The provincial police, he said, only suggested
that Infid coordinate with the National Police
Headquarters in Jakarta.

"If they (the police) do it, Indonesia will revert
back to the time under former president Soeharto,“he said.”Based on information from our
colleagues, the National Police Headquarters has
given a verbal go-ahead for the forum. And the
Foreign Ministry has no objection as long as the
protests don’t target Singapore."

Singapore expects over 16,000 delegates and
officials for the Sept. 11-20 World Bank/IMF
meeting but has said outdoor protests are banned.

Antiglobalization activists usually gather at
similar international summits but Singapore will
make no exceptions to its ban on demonstrations
and has said it will arrest lawbreakers and cane
vandals.

 ACEH

NGOs demand probe into BRR allegations

Jakarta Post - September 2, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — Anticorruption
watchdogs are urging an exhaustive probe of
possible irregularities in rebuilding projects at
the Aceh and Nias Rehabilitation and
Reconstruction Agency (BRR).

The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) and the Aceh
Working Group (AWG) said Friday the agency’s
alleged graft was “systemic”, so the investigation
must be thorough.

After a meeting Thursday with Vice President Jusuf
Kalla in Jakarta, BRR chairman Kuntoro
Mangkusubroto said there may have been some
violations of official procedure in carrying out
Aceh’s reconstruction projects, saying they were
due to the emergency nature of the work.

Kuntoro thanked the ICW for revealing the
violations and vowed to reorganize the agency to
prevent the problem from recurring.

An ICW report cited the agency’s direct
appointment of partner companies in carrying out
five goods and services projects worth some Rp
23.8 billion (US$2.6 million).

The ICW and the AWG dismissed the argument that
emergency reasons prompted the direct appointment
of companies to handle such projects as public
relations, logistics, publishing books and
brochures, destroying unwanted drugs and designing
housing development plans.

The law permits the agency to make direct
appointments of firms to deal with certain
reconstruction projects, such as rebuilding houses
for survivors of the devastating tsunami that
struck the region in 2004.

ICW coordinator Teten Masduki said the allegations
are similar to those faced by General Elections
Commission (KPU) members charged with violating
regulations in the procurement of election
materials. She said the BRR’s alleged corruption
should be brought to court, as the KPU’s has.

KPU chief Nazaruddin Syamsuddin and several other
officials have been sent to jail for graft, and
some KPU members are still facing charges.

"The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has
no reason to pass over the BRR’s graft cases, and
none of the officials involved have legal
impunity," Teten said. The government, he added,
should also be held accountable.

The ICW and the AWG said the investigation is
crucial to upholding justice and maintaining
public trust for the BRR among the Acehnese people
and international donors.

Teten said he had received a report from reliable
sources in Aceh that the finance minister had
fired T. Tyas, head of the treasurer’s office in
Aceh, for “leaking” information to the public on
the disbursement of reconstruction funds.

AWG coordinator Rusdi Marpaung also questioned the
BRR’s decision to give a portion of the
reconstruction funds to the military for security
and defense. "The BRR was established not to
support the military but to rebuild Aceh, which
was ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami," he
said.

According to Rusdi, the BRR allocated 7.19 percent
of its Rp 3.9 trillion budget in 2005 for security
and defense, while the housing and women’s affairs
sectors received only 8.12 percent and 0.8 percent
respectively.

Rafendy Djamin, coordinator of the Human Rights
Working Group, said the “systemic” corruption in
the BRR allegedly involved cronies of agency
officials in Jakarta. Prosecutors have also
reportedly launched a graft probe into a BRR book
publishing project.

"The investigation should not stop at the book
project but must be extended to all other cases. A
thorough probe into the cases is a test for
Indonesia’s credibility in the eyes of
international donors," he said.

 WEST PAPUA

So close to Australia, so far from hope

Sydney Morning Herald - September 6, 2006

Hamish McDonald — Political leaders in Canberra
and Port Moresby want the voices of a
diplomatically awkward rebellion buried in East
Awin, Papua New Guinea, a settlement in a vast and
sparsely populated landscape of rivers, swamps and
forest.

To reach East Awin takes an expensive flight to
the little town of Kiunga, a two-hour trip up the
Fly River, followed by a three-hour truck ride
through axle-deep mud, and finally a 12-kilometre
walk when the road becomes impassable for normal
vehicles.

Paulus Samkakay’s quest for political asylum took
him to the fringes of Australia, took the life of
his youngest child and ended in bitter
disappointment here. Samkakay, 35, was the
political refugee from Indonesia’s restive West
Papua whom the Howard Government turned away
earlier this year.

He made it to Australian territory, the Torres
Strait island of Boigu, on May 11, only to be held
in detention at an out-of-the-way hotel and
blocked from journalists and human rights lawyers.

Two months later, he was turned over to Papua New
Guinea, under an agreement signed in 2003 that
asylum seekers spending more than seven days in
transit through PNG are deemed to be Port
Moresby’s responsibility.

While his application was being studied by
Australian authorities, his wife, Yokbet, and
three children waited in a tiny village just
inside PNG territory, and the youngest, a three-
month-old girl, died of an unknown illness.

Reunited in July, the couple and their two
remaining children were transferred to East Awin,
placed in a small guesthouse and told they had six
months before they had to build their own house
and find their own source of income. "I came to
the land of the kangaroo with big hopes," Samkakay
said, his eyes filling with angry tears.

The dockfront activist from Merauke, a port town
on the south coast of Papua, is a prime example of
the kind of refugee Canberra does not want, if it
wants any at all. He embodies the disillusionment
of most Papuans with Indonesian rule.

His late father, Boneffasius Samkakay, had been
one of 1000 local figures hand-picked by Indonesia
to carry out the 1969 act of self-determination
after a transition from Dutch rule.

They dutifully delivered a 100 per cent pro-
Jakarta vote, and Samkakay carries the
certificates of appreciation given to his father
from former president Soeharto and the Indonesian
army commander at the time, General Sarwo Edhie
Wibowo.

But he also carries a carefully folded Morning
Star flag, the flag of the Papuan independence
movement whose appearance at sneak flag-raisings
across the border is usually followed by tough
crackdowns and long jail terms.

After Soeharto’s fall from power in 1998, Samkakay
was prominent in the upsurge of open independence
activism, becoming a member of a Papuan youth
council. He was first arrested in 1988 and has had
to lie low on several occasions.

Finally in March, in the tense atmosphere
following the crossing of the Torres Strait by 43
Papuans, he says he was summoned to a meeting with
local police, and decided to clear out.

The family walked along the coast to the PNG
village of Bula, where they stayed for a month. At
the beginning of May, Samkakay set off for Boigu,
finally making the short canoe crossing, helped by
two other Papuans. On arrival, they handed over a
letter describing themselves as political asylum
seekers. Samkakay was immediately arrested, flown
by helicopter to Horn Island and kept in a hotel.

His immigration case officer was in contact with a
counterpart in Merauke, named as Ibu (Mrs) Ida,
while the Indonesian interpreter employed by
Immigration kept telling him not to raise
independence issues, saying: "There’s no need to
talk about things that are already over." In July,
just before being sent back to PNG, he was
formally notified: "Because of Australian law and
where you landed, you are not able to apply for
any visa in Australia."

But in East Awin, a string of settlements in
country inhabited by cannibals about 40 years ago,
the 2500 Papuan settlers are far from reconciled
to their fate and precarious subsistence
livelihood.

Deliberately chosen for its inaccessibility, East
Awin is a gruelling day’s journey to the nearest
marketplace in Kiunga for its peanuts and other
produce, with truck and boat fares chewing up much
of the earnings.

"From the beginning it was not logical to build a
settlement so far from the river and the road,"
said Father Jacques Gros, 66, a French-born
Catholic priest who lives in the settlement and
walks its muddy roads barefoot. "But nothing can
be done — we have to make the best of it."

The Papuans are from diverse backgrounds, the
majority villagers from directly across the
border, some educated people from the cities of
Jayapura and Biak on the north coast, some Dani
highlanders from the Baliem Valley. Most arrived
in the late 1980s after a flare-up of violence.

A further 8000 Papuans are squatting in camps
close to the border between the Star Mountains and
the Torres Strait, not regarded as refugees.

Many remain in close contact with the rebel Free
Papua Organisation, the OPM, which keeps up a
political and guerilla struggle against Jakarta
rule, and whose operatives such as John Wakom live
along the Fly and maintain contact with its armed
groups.

Fear of Indonesian spies and informers pervades
the community. The murder of a European journalist
in Kiunga some years ago, found with his throat
cut in his room at a Catholic school, is
attributed to an agent.

On an overnight visit to East Awin, this reporter
was advised by the PNG Government’s camp manager,
Jex Punai, to lock all doors and keep a parang, or
machete, by his bed: "It’s just a precaution. You
just never know, there are so many factions here."

After hopes raised by the Indonesian political
flux following Soeharto’s fall in 1998, the
Papuans realise they are facing more difficult
times as Jakarta regains some strategic importance
for the West.

"We were sold out in the Cold War and now it’s
happening again in the war against al-Qaeda," says
John Ondawame, who runs the Papuan independence
movement’s sole quasi-diplomatic office in the
region, located in Vanuatu.

Ondawame said the OPM’s armed resistance was weak,
but important, and the Papuan cause was getting
more notice internationally. "The situation is the
reverse of Aceh," he said, referring to the fierce
separatist war at the other end of Indonesia which
has ended in an autonomy agreement.

Afonsina Hambring, 49, who spent three years in
the jungle with her husband, an OPM commander,
before crossing to PNG in 1988, leads the Papuan
women’s association here. Their main activity is
prayer. "Every second we pray that God will start
a war to change us,“she said.”To make us one.
Let’s not get to the position of East Timor,
fighting against each other."

Paulus Samkakay, sent to East Awin by Australia,
is determined not to be silenced as a condition of
his “permissive residence”. "I am under orders
from the PNG Government not to engage in any
political activity,“he said.”But I will not
agree — it is within my human rights. I am a
supporter of independence and will keeping saying
so. If Australia will not take me, maybe Holland."


Papua: Bows, arrows and a tense gold mine

Asia Times - September 8, 2006

John McBeth, Timika — For centuries, Papua’s
warlike mountain tribesmen have used bows and
arrows, spears and knives to settle their
differences over women and pigs — and not
necessarily in that order of priority.

But a recent pitched battle on the outskirts of
the lowland boom town of Timika on the south coast
of the Indonesian province has underlined what can
happen when urban migration and traditional
practices collide. The resultant clashes — and an
influx of illegal highland miners — represent the
latest headache for US mining giant Freeport
McMoRan Copper & Gold, far and away Indonesia’s
largest foreign taxpayer.

The battle stemmed from the drowning of the
epileptic seven-year-old son of a Dani tribal
headman. Angry that better care had not been
taken, the boy’s hot-tempered uncle — a member of
the closely related Damal tribe — killed one the
headman’s brothers and wounded another with a bow
and arrow.

In the days that followed, tribesmen from both
sides engaged in a week-long series of running
skirmishes that left 12 of the combatants dead and
another 150 wounded from arrow and spear wounds.
Then, true to tradition, the two sides held pig
roasts and an arrow-breaking ceremony in a show of
reconciliation and agreed to let matters rest.

Three weeks later, fighting erupted again in
Kwamki Lama, a largely Dani settlement. Three more
tribesmen died and another 80 were hurt before
security forces managed to separate the two sides.
But with a third tribe, the Ekari, now joining in
the clashes, community workers are wondering how
to bring an end to the continuing spiral of
violence.

This, after all, isn’t Papua’s rugged mountains,
where deep valleys separate tribes and provide the
space needed to calm emotions and work out peace
deals. In the villages scattered around Timika, a
town of 60,000 people, seven different tribal
groups — some of them harboring age-old grudges
— live in uncommon and uncomfortable proximity.

Once a clapboard settlement serving only ethnic-
Javanese transmigrants, Timika owes its lifeblood
to the Freeport Indonesia copper and gold mine,
which has acted as a magnet for thousands of
highland tribesmen and migrants from other parts
of Indonesia looking for jobs and economic
opportunities unavailable on other more crowded
islands. With more than 18,000 workers, Freeport
is one of Indonesia’s biggest employers.

By the time Freeport’s Grasberg operation goes
underground, scheduled for 2012-14, Papuans will
have become the core of the company’s workforce,
rather than the minority that they are now. But
the recent outbreak in ethnic tensions adds a new
complication to the planned changeover.

The attraction Timika holds for the highlanders,
in particular, underlines the fact that for all
their isolation and ancient customs, they are just
as interested in money and an education for their
children as anyone else. But it may take more than
a generation for them to come to terms with an
urban environment where historic grievances have
no place.

Money also creates its own problems. "There’s a
lot of social jealousy," said anthropologist and
author Kal Muller, who has spent three decades in
Papua. "In many highlands societies the basic
ethic has been egalitarian, with respect gained
not by accumulating capital, but by distributing
capital. Here, a lot of money is spread around and
the distribution is very uneven."

Tribe on tribe

There has also been a dramatic change in the
demographic balance. Mimika, the district
surrounding Timika, was once home to only the
highland Amungme and the lowland Kamoro tribes,
who lived in relative harmony. But Freeport’s rich
Grasberg mine, into which the company has poured
more than US$12 billion in investment over the
decades, has drawn an increasing number of Dani,
the dominant Papuan tribe that now makes up 60% of
Timika’s highland population.

Dani migration is nothing new. Originally from the
Balien Valley, 200 kilometers northeast of Timika,
they have been pushing westward for centuries.
Indeed, those who have settled on the more fertile
northern slopes, well to the north and west of
Freeport’s high-altitude mine, are now known as
the Western Dani, or the Lani as they like to call
themselves. Even their language is different in a
region with 250 different dialects.

The only reason thousands of Amungme tribesmen
ended up where they are now is that the Dani
expelled them from their original home before the
turn of the 20th century. There was no mine then,
but since it opened in the early 1970s the Amungme
have found themselves under pressure again from
the same tribe that pushed them out of the more
fertile northern side of the highlands.

In 1997, with over-aggressive Dani settlers
intruding on their hillsides and sweet-potato
gardens and taking the virginity of young girls
whose bridal bounties had already been paid, the
Amungme hit back. Eleven people died in the
fighting, which ended with authorities relocating
most of the more than 3,000 Dani to a new lowland
area west of Timika.

Although they continue to populate 17 valleys, the
10,000 Amungme still feel increasingly like
strangers in their own land. Those who have
settled in the lowlands have been nudged out of
Kwamki Lama, and the tribe itself now faces the
prospect of losing the privileged position it once
enjoyed as the original benefactor of Freeport’s
largesse.

The Damal may have fared even worse. Enforced
inter-marriage with the dominant Western Dani has,
over the years, in essence reduced them to little
more than a sub-clan — even if the recent clashes
suggest that old enmities remain a lot closer to
the surface in an urban setting than they do in
the highlands.

Added to Timika’s melting pot have been settlers
from the Nduga, Ekari and Moni, three other
highland groups. There are also stragglers from
the Asmat and Senpan tribes who have drifted in
from further down the swampy southeast coast,
which borders the shallow waters of the Arafura
Sea separating Indonesia and Australia.

The town itself has a similar yet different mix.
Old-time Javanese migrants mix with tens of
thousands of native Buginese — traders from
distant South Sulawesi — and lowland Papuan
settlers from as far away as Maureke, on the Papua
New Guinea border in the east, to the island of
Biak and the provincial capital Jayapura on the
north coast and the former oil center of Sorong in
the west.

With the world gold price rocketing from $250 to
$650 an ounce in just two years, hundreds more
Dani have been trekking south to join an army of
illegal gold miners now working in the tailings,
or waste rock, flowing downstream from the
Freeport mill. The number of gold panners has
grown from several hundred to more than 3,000,
most of whom sell the gold to military middlemen
who then pass it on to dealers in Timika.

There are concerns that with the gold running out
in an alluvial deposit near Nabire, on Papua’s
north coast, more fortune hunters will head across
the highlands to Timika, potentially adding more
ethnic tension to a problem authorities seem
unable or unwilling to solve.

[John McBeth is a former correspondent with the
Far Eastern Economic Review. He is currently a
Jakarta-based freelance journalist.]


Riot police blamed for killings

Courier Mail (Australia) - September 6, 2006

Marianne Kearney, Jakarta — Papuans claim that
Indonesian riot police have used an ongoing tribal
warfare in eastern Papua to kill at least three
Papuan villagers.

Two tribes armed with spears, bows and arrows and
traditional machetes have been warring since last
Thursday in Kwambi Lama, a village close to the
giant Freeport copper mine.

However, a resident of Kwambi Lama claims that the
more than 600 riot police and military sent to end
the conflict have been shooting indiscriminately
into fighting tribesmen.

The villager claims that police shot Eric Murib on
Monday, and an evangelical priest, August Wetapo,
over the weekend. "They were killed in Kwambi Lama
by police," Albert Yikwa said.

He said the police killings were in revenge for a
weekend shooting incident at the Freeport mine
where anonymous gunmen damaged a Freeport vehicle.

Police deny the accusations, saying the two, plus
a third man, were victims of the tribal conflict.
"That’s a lie. They died because there is a tribal
war," a police spokesman said.

He said that about 50 people injured in the
fighting were being treated at the nearby Mitra
Masyarakat Hospital.


Security car of Freeport mine shot at

Melbourne Age - September 4, 2006

Timika — An unidentified group of people shot
Sunday a security car of PT Freeport Indonesia,
the giant gold and copper mine, in the country’s
easternmost province, a police officer said.

Director of the crime unit of the Papuan Police
Sr. Comr. Paulus Waterpauw said that the police
had opened an investigation into the incident in
which bullets hit the left side of the car and the
car’s rear window. The incident took place in the
wee hours of Sunday morning.

No one was injured in the incident, Waterpauw
said, adding that seven bullet casings were found
at the scene, along with several footprints. "The
motive for the shots remains unknown," Waterpauw
said.

The police had questioned a security guard who at
the time of the incident was on duty at Terowongan
Post, about 200 meters from the incident site.
Waterpauw believed the shooting was intended
mainly to destabilize security in the area.

He also denied speculation that the shooting was
linked to the attacks Saturday by angry protesters
at Mimika Legislative Council building. During
Saturday’s attacks, protesters demanded that the
police settle fresh fighting between two warring
tribes in Timika.


Defendants boycott Abepura trial

Jakarta Post - September 2, 2006

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura — Jayapura District
Court had to postpone the Abepura case trial yet
again Friday after the prosecution failed to
present the remaining seven defendants to be tried
for their involvement in the deadly March 16 clash
with police.

The seven defendants had refused to appear in the
same court Wednesday after one of them was beaten
up by a police officer Monday.

Friday’s trial, presided over by Moris Ginting,
was opened to hear testimonies from witnesses but
the prosecutors, Maskel Rambolangi and Dadang
Setiawan, requested the judge to postpone the
trial until Monday.

"The defendants are still refusing to attend trial
since they have not received an official letter
guaranteeing their safety from Papua Police chief
(Insp. Gen. Tommy Jacobus) and the head of the
Jayapura District Office (Djabaik Haro)," Dadang
said.

Moris granted the request but warned that the
defendants should appear Monday, since the
sentence of two of the defendants, Sedrik Jitmau
and Muhammad Khaitam, will end on Sept. 18.

When escorting defendants Monday after a trial
session at Jayapura District Court, Brig. Novrel
beat up Nelson Rumbiak in front of Abepura
Penitentiary. The hospital examination showed
Nelson suffered head and chest injuries,
indicating he had been hit with a blunt object.

Following the incident, the defendants’ lawyer,
Aloysius Renwarin, said the defendants would not
appear in court until their demands — a public
apology from the Papua Police chief and the head
of the Jayapura District Office, and an official
letter guaranteeing their safety — had been met.

Before Friday’s trial, the prosecution had tried
to negotiate with the defendants, but Selpius
Bobii, who has been convicted in the case, said on
behalf of the seven defendants that they insisted
on their demands.

The defendants were also requesting less security
during the trial. The court proceedings are always
heavily guarded by armed police personnel and
visitors must pass through tight security before
being allowed to follow the proceedings.

Meanwhile, the defendants’ relatives objected to a
plan to transfer the seven to the Papua Police
detention center to allow the prosecution to bring
them to stand trial.

"We reject the plan since there’s no guarantee
that our children will be kindly treated. Even
during the questioning at the Papua Police
Headquarters we couldn’t meet them for three days
and when we met, my son’s body was bruised after
being beaten," asserted C. Berotabui, chief of
Papua Injili Christian Church (AM GKI) Synod,
referring to his son, defendant Yahya Eko Merano
Berotabui.

Meanwhile, Papua Police deputy chief Brig. Gen.
Max Donald Aer, as quoted by Cendrawasih Pos
daily, said he found the demand for Papua Police
chief to apologize in public excessive since the
police officer responsible for beating up one of
the convicts is facing legal action.

The seven defendants are awaiting verdicts on
charges they were responsible for the murder of an
Air Force soldier during the clash. So far, 16
people have been convicted over the Abepura clash,
which took place in front of Cendrawasih
University during a protest against giant mining
company PT Freeport Indonesia. Each of them was
sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison.

Four police officers and an Air Force personnel
died when they were attacked by protesters, who
were demanding the government close the Freeport
mine because of environmental concerns and the
mine’s failure to improve the welfare of Papuans.


Indonesian police separate warring Papuan tribes

Agence France Presse - September 2, 2006

Jakarta — Hundreds of Indonesian police are
trying to prevent further fighting between two
warring Papuan tribes after three people were
killed, and more than a dozen injured in remote
Papua, police said.

Villagers from two different tribes began fighting
with spears, arrows and traditional machetes early
Friday after a woman from the Damal tribe was
killed by an arrow, allegedly fired by a
neighboring Dani tribesman, said police.

More than 100 riot police, or Brimob, as well as
another 120 ordinary police were attempting to
enforce a ceasefire between the two warring groups
in Kwamki Lama district, Timika, not far from the
giant Freeport gold and copper mine, a police
spokesman said.

"We have tried to separate them, using Brimob, now
we have one company of Brimob, and four (standard)
police units on standby there," Kartono
Wangsadisastra told AFP.

Police said they hoped to begin peace talks
between the two tribes on Saturday. "We are
calling in the traditional leaders in an effort to
prevent any further conflict," said
Wangsadisastra.

Friday’s fighting killed three men, including a
Papuan priest, and wounded 24 others, many
seriously, added Wangsadisastra. "Lots of them
(tribesmen) were seriously injured, because they
were pierced by arrows," he said, adding they had
been taken to Timika hospital.

Friday’s battle between Dani and Damal tribesman
was the second in as many months for villagers of
Kwamki Lama. The death of a Dani child prompted a
tribal war last month which killed nine people.

Papua is home to groups that traditionally engage
in elaborate war rituals to solve disputes between
clans or tribes. Conflicts can take days to be
resolved, with each side taking turns to shoot
arrows and throw spears.

According to tradition, a death should be avenged
by another death or the killer’s tribe must pay a
hefty fine of prized pigs and hold a feast to seal
the peace.

 MUNIR ASSASSINATION

Two years after Munir murder police asked to
question Muchdi

Detik.com - September 5, 2006

Veronika Kusuma Wijayanti, Jakarta — In the lead
up to the second anniversary since the murder of
human rights activist Munir on September 7, police
are being called on to question the former deputy
head of the State Intelligence Agency Muchdi
Purwoprajoyo. They are also being asked not to
depend only on information from former Garuda
Airlines pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto.

"We are disappointed by the statement by the
national police chief that they are relying on
Pollycarpus to follow up the Munir case", said the
head of the advocacy division of the Commission
for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence
(Kontras) Orry Rahman after meeting with public
relations officials at the national police
headquarters on Jl. Trunojoyo in South Jakarta on
Tuesday September 5.

In fact continued Rahman, the police cannot be
afraid of summoning any person who can provide
information on the case. "In district court’s
verdict [in Pollycarpus’ trial] mentioned several
names that should be followed up, including
Prandjono and [two] Garuda staff who were already
[named as] suspects. This must be followed up", he
asserted.

Prandjono he added has already given testimony at
Pollycarpus’ trial however there needs to be
another investigation. "The police have not yet
incorporated the material recommendations of the
[Munir] Fact Finding Team. We are asking the
police to go to work again", he added.

National police Chief General Sutanto had
previously asked Pollycarpus to reveal the Munir’s
killer saying that the key to the continuation of
the investigation into the Munir case lies with
Pollycarpus. (ndr)


Two years after Munir’s death SBY must reaffirm
commitment

Detik.com - September 6, 2006

Indra Subagja, Jakarta — After two years the
Munir case remains unsolved. Only former Garuda
Airlines pilot Pollycarpus Priyanto has been
convicted for the murder of the former human
rights activist. The family and friends of the
late Munir say there are strong political reason
why the case has not been solved yet.

"The problem is not a technical one, it depends on
the [political] will of the president and then the
police. But there is a tendency for President SBY
(Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) to vacillate over the
impact of the case being solved. SBY tends to try
to avoid the political implications", said
Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of
Violence coordinator Usman Hamid when speaking to
Detik.com in Jakarta on Wednesday September 6.

According to Hamid, the key to cracking the case
is in the hands of the president. The police only
go with the political flow, so the president must
restate his desire for the investigation into the
case to be completed. "It has been two years
already, we hope that the president will reaffirm
his commitment by forming a new team or by
ordering the police to reinvestigate the case
properly", he asserted.

Hamid said that if police insist that the
technical obstacle hindering the investigation is
Pollycarpus being unwilling to provide information
then there would be no significant progress in the
case. "Whereas the police have the authority to
question additional witnesses, also to conduct
raids and seizures, including asking Telkom for
the recording of the conversation [between
Pollycarpus and an official at the National
Intelligence Agency]", explained Hamid.

In addition to this, Hamid said that the police
citing the obstacle of not having investigated the
scene of the crime is just a manufactured excuse.
"The police’s argument has no basis, the Dutch
[police] have not conducted an investigation at
the scene of the crime, because that comes under
Indonesia’s authority. I suspect the police are
not being serious about completing the
investigation into this case", he said.

Hamid also said that the House of Representatives
team formed to follow up the case has not worked
optimally so it has been difficult to achieve any
progress in solving the case. "What has been
undertaken has been inadequate and only sought to
highlight the obstacles and problems, but it
should have been able to uncover everything", he
said.

In the lead up to the second anniversary of
Munir’s murder on September 7, a number of events
are planned including a book launch, a night of
commemoration and a discussion about human rights
defenders. (ndr)


President asked to form new investigation team in
Munir case

Detik.com - September 7, 2006

Muhammad Nur Hayid, Jakarta — Two years after
Munir’s murder the case remains a mystery but
demands for the case to be resolved are continuing
to be raised. Munir’s wife, Suciwati, is asking
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to form a new
investigation team.

"The results of the earlier [investigation by the
Munir] Fact Finding Team (TPF) were not optimal,
because only one suspect was tried. That is why if
the [investigation] is not supervised [the real
perpetrators] could get away", Suciwati told
Detik.com on Thursday September 7.

According to Suciwati, the new investigation team
must be given more powers than the previous one
because although there was an instruction from the
president to form the TPF, the reality was that it
was unable penetrate the National Intelligence
Agency that is believed to have significant
information about Munir’s death.

"The team must [be formed] on the direct orders of
the president, not the House of Representatives or
the national police, and be given more powers so
that it can question anyone", added the mother of
two children.

To commemorate the second anniversary of Munir’s
death, hundreds of people from Solidarity for
Munir will hold an action. They plan to go to the
Supreme Court, the Attorney Generals Office and
the national police headquarters.

Munir was a human rights activist who had been
active in the Commission for Missing Persons and
Victims of Violence. He died aboard a Garuda
Airlines flight to Amsterdam. Munir’s body is
buried at the Kota Baru public cemetery. At the
time of the autopsy high levels of arsenic were
found in his body.

Only former Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari
Priyanto was convicted of the murder and two
Garuda crew members were named as suspects. It is
believed that Munir’s death was the result of a
conspiracy. (nvt)


500 NGO activists demand police complete Munir
investigation

Detik.com - September 7, 2006

Veronika Kusuma Wijayanti, Jakarta — Around 500
activists from a number of non-government
organisations held a demonstration at the national
police headquarters on Thursday September 7. They
were demanding that police solve the Munir murder
that took place two years ago.

The protesters, most of which were wearing red T-
shirts gave speeches on Jl. Trunojoyo resulting in
a traffic jam. A number of protesters also wore
bamboo hats and brought effigies made of straw.

Also present at the demonstration was Munir’s wife
Suciwati. "Today we are calling in the
[President’s] promise. He said the police had
given a commitment they would resolve [the case].
We are tired of promises. We are only demanding
the fulfillment of one promise, a commitment that
must be demonstrated, that is [finding] Munir’s
killer", she said.

The coordinator of the Commission for Missing
Persons and Victims Violence, Usman Hamid
meanwhile questioned whether the police were being
serious in handling the Munir case. "If [they] are
waiting for [information from] Pollycarpus, that
is impossible. The President it seems is also not
serious about dealing with the case. The president
has no [political] will, it is as if there is a
fear", he said. (umi/nrl)


500 demand chief of police resign if Munir’s
murder is not solved

Tempo Interactive - September 7, 2006

Rudy Prasetyo, Jakarta — Around 500 people from
the Solidarity Alliance for Munir demonstrated at
the national police headquarters in South Jakarta
today. They were demanding that the police quickly
solve the Munir case and guarantee protection to
all human rights defenders.

"It would be better for Sutanto (the chief of
police) to resign if it is not possible to solve
the Munir case", said Mugianto from the Indonesian
Association of the Families of Missing Persons
(Ikohi), which was greeted by cheers from Munir’s
supporters.

A black colt pickup car complete with a
loudspeaker and sound system became the stage for
speeches. While listening to the speeches,
demonstrators put up dozens of red banners and
cartoons with brightly coloured messages such as
“Uncover the mastermind behind Munir’s killer”,
and “Who is Munir’s murderer”.

They also wore red shirts with the writing
"Commemorating two years since the murder of
Munir“on the front and”Munir was killed for
being right" on the back.

The protesters also shouted and sung songs
defending Munir’s struggle. "Enough, never again
let there be those who disappear and die", sang
the protesters like a choir. After the
demonstration at police headquarters they moved
off to protest at the Supreme Court.

[Translated by James Balowski.]


Call for independent commission to investigate
Munir murder

Detik.com - September 4, 2006

Arfi Bambani Amri, Jakarta — The investigation
into the assassination of human rights defender
Munir has reached a dead end even though former
Garuda Airlines pilot Pollycarpus Budihari
Priyanto has been convicted for the murder.

Non-government organisations (NGOs) are therefore
calling on the government to form an independent
commission to investigate the Munir case. The
commission must have broader powers than the Munir
Fact Finding Team (TPF) that has already been
disbanded.

The call was made by dozens of NGOs including the
Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of
Violence (Kontras), the Indonesian Environment
Forum (Walhi), the Independent Journalist
Association (AJI) and the Institute for Public
Research and Advocacy (Elsam). The groups said
that the investigation was never finished properly
and many irregularities need to be straightened
out.

"[What is needed is] An independent teams like the
Corruption Eradication Team (Timtas Tipikor)",
said Kontras coordinator Usman Hamid at the
Kontras offices on Jl. Borobudur, Jakarta, on
Monday September 4.

Hamid explained that the independent team that
they are proposing would follow up on the findings
of the TPF. With broader powers it is hoped that
the team will be able to force the police to
investigate the Munir assassination in accordance
with procedures.

"We want an audit of the police that were involved
in the investigation. We suspect that the
reassignment of the head of the team investigating
the Munir assassination at national police
headquarters [Brigadier General Marsudi Hanafi]
was an attempt to weaken the investigation of the
case", said Hamid.

Pollycarpus

Hamid also raised questions about changes to the
charges against Pollycarpus who was sentenced to
14 years for Munir’s murder. The changes referred
to by Hamid was the charge of premeditated murder
by use of falsified documents becoming a charge
falsifying documents to commit premeditated
murder.

According to Hamid, the change to the charges
significantly influenced the follow up
investigation into the Munir case. A charge of
premeditated murder using falsified documents
means there were other people that were
responsible for falsifying the documents. A charge
of falsifying documents to commit the murder
meanwhile means that it was as if the only
perpetrator of the crime was Pollycarpus.

"Given the irregularities in the uncovering of the
Munir case, there is an obligation to form an
independent team", asserted Hamid. (djo)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

 HUMAN RIGHTS/LAW

NGO urges city to enact moratorium on evictions

Jakarta Post - September 7, 2006

Jakarta — International non-governmental
organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday
urged the city administration to enact a short-
term moratorium on all evictions in Jakarta,
saying it believed many of them were human rights
violations.

The New York-based NGO recommended the
administration impose the moratorium until it
established a mechanism conforming the eviction
process to international standards, in which
evictions should never render individuals homeless
or vulnerable to human rights abuses.

"Frequently, the eviction is conducted with little
notice and inadequate compensation, leaving many
poor people to be homeless. Sometimes, it turns in
to violence, involving excessive power by the
authority," HRW researcher Bede Sheppard said,
quoting a one-month report about forced eviction
in Jakarta made public at the Jakarta Legal Aid
Institute (LBH Jakarta).

HRW’s report is based on five months of research,
including 30 days of field research, scrutinizing
14 eviction cases that occurred between 2001 and
2006 and interviewing more than 100 people,
including, victims, witnesses of forced evictions,
government officials, academics, lawyers and local
NGOs.

The report concludes that in all cases in four
municipalities, — East, West, North, and Central
Jakarta — evictions and human rights abuses took
place at the same time.

HRW also urged the city administration to hold an
independent investigation regarding the
allegations of human rights violations. "At times,
gangs of private thugs help the government to
execute the eviction, making it vulnerable to
turning into violence," Sheppard added.

The NGO also suggested that evictions should be
carried out in coordination with relevant parties,
not only the policy makers but also with the
affected community, to ensure that all appropriate
measures to ensure adequate alternatives for the
community were available.

The administration should also carry out evictions
without violence and with the provision of
adequate compensation, the report states. The
report says, "Taking land and property without
adequate compensation is like the city government
stealing from its poorest citizens".

The city administration has conducted many
evictions since 1999 to acquire land for
infrastructure development, such as monorail,
flood canals, low-cost apartments, and turnpikes.

Even though the city administration justified
evictions on the grounds that the land was
required for infrastructure projects, Sheppard
said, it still needed to guarantee that the
execution of evictions would not violate human
rights.

He said that Indonesia had an obligation under
international law to respect individuals’ rights
to adequate housing and to refrain from forced
evictions.

LBH Jakarta representative Taufik Basma said that
his institution would urge the authority to heed
the recommendations. "We can also use this report,
with its sample cases, as a guideline for us to
deal with any evictions violating human rights,"
he said.


Court examines defamation ban

Jakarta Post - September 5, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — The Constitutional Court
began reviewing Monday whether articles in the
Criminal Code concerning defamation of the
President and Vice President are unconstitutional.

The review of Articles 134 and 136 was requested
by lawyer and hardline Muslim activist Eggi
Sudjana, who is currently on trial for allegedly
defaming President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Eggi demanded the court nullify the articles,
arguing they contradicted Articles 27 and 28 of
the 1945 Constitution, which guarantee freedom of
speech and information.

"The articles on the defamation of the President
have violated my constitutional rights as a
citizen," Eggi told a panel of judges at the
Constitutional Court.

He said the two articles hindered him from
expressing his opinions freely as a political
activist: “I can’t be critical of the government.”

Eggi was charged with reporting entrepreneur Hary
Tanoesudibjo to the Corruption Eradication
Commission (KPK) in January without offering any
evidence. He told KPK chief Taufiqurrahman Ruki
that Hary had given four expensive cars to four of
the President’s closest allies, including his son.

Eggi alleged that the defamation articles
protected only the interests of the those in
power. "Nobody was arrested and tried for defaming
former presidents Abdurrahman Wahid and Habibie.
Why is it happening now during the era of the SBY
administration?" he asked.

Eggi suggested, however, that a special law be
passed against defaming the President. "It should
not be incorporated in the Criminal Code because
it could be used as a ’rubber article’," he
argued.

He added that the defamation articles were adopted
when Indonesia was a Dutch colony, to protect the
Dutch queens and governors-general. He argued they
were no longer relevant in the current democratic
era. “Even the Dutch have scrapped such articles,”
he said.

Eggi also asked the Constitutional Court to
temporarily halt his defamation trial at the
Central Jakarta District Court.

Eggi’s lawyer, Firman Wijaya, argued that the
articles on defamation were counterproductive to
the antigraft campaign by the KPK. The KPK law
encourages people to report graft allegations to
the commission.

Muladi, who heads the team assigned to draft the
Criminal Code revision, said the passages on
defaming the President will be retained. "Every
country has that kind of regulation," he said,
adding that the draft was finished and would be
submitted to the House soon.

Human rights activists and journalists have
expressed concerns over the articles’ inclusion,
saying they would pave the way for the government
to jail opponents and journalists.


Youths demand end to death penalty

Jakarta Post - September 5, 2006

M. Azis Tunny, Ambon — The government should
abolish capital punishment and accelerate
development in island provinces throughout the
country, the 13th Catholic Youth National Congress
in Ambon says. Delegates at the forum finished
their four-day meeting in Ambon on Monday.

They also called for police to question 16 people,
who lawyers for three men on death row say were
behind sectarian riots in Poso in 2000.

Youth movement chairman MT Natalis Situmorang said
in Ambon on Sunday the members "strongly object to
the use of the death penalty against any person in
this country".

Secretary general Cosmos Refra said the conference
was afraid the true perpetrators of the Poso riots
would be revealed only after the death-row
convicts had been executed.

"We renounce the death penalty because God has
given life to humans so that they can live freely,
and only God has the right to take (life) back,
not fellow humans," Refra said.

The congress’ rejection of the death penalty was
not motivated by political or sectarian concerns,
he said.

"In principle, we reject the use of the death
penalty against all people, be they (Fabianus)
Tibo and his friends or (the convicted Bali
bombers) Amrozi, (Ali Ghufron) and Imam Samudra as
well as others sentenced to death," he said.

The three Christian men are due to be executed
later this year, after being convicted of inciting
a riot in Poso in which 198? people, mostly
Muslims, died. They have protested their
innocence, saying 16 other people, including
members of the security forces, were behind the
riots.

Regarding the economy, the congress asked
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the House
of Representatives to immediately accelerate
development in seven outlying island provinces in
Indonesia, including the Riau Islands, Bangka
Islands and North and South Maluku provinces.

Recent development initiatives for the areas were
endorsed in the Ambon Declaration on Aug. 10
signed by governors and legislators from the
provinces.

The government should support other efforts made
by the Inter-Island Province Cooperation Forum led
by Ambon Governor Karel Albert Ralahalu, delegates
said.

They also urged the government to revise the 2004
National Resources Law, increase investment and
improve infrastructure in the nation’s outlying
islands.

Outlying areas needed sufficient funding from the
state budget, Situmorang said. "We only want
impartial treatment from the central government."


Constitutional Court’s verdicts ’questionable’

Jakarta Post - September 4, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — The Constitutional
Court is delivering controversial and questionable
verdicts that are only serving to sow further
confusion in the country’s legal system, two legal
experts say.

National Law Commission chairman J.E. Sahetapy and
a constitutional law expert from Bandung’s
Padjajaran University, Sri Soemantri, said judges
at the Constitutional Court were living in
“isolation” and did not take the public mood into
account when making verdicts.

"Those constitutional judges should have been
prudent when issuing their verdicts and should not
have made decisions that only give rise to further
legal ramifications," Sahetapy told The Jakarta
Post over the weekend.

A recent verdict issued by the court this year
stripped the Judicial Commission of its oversight
powers over Supreme Court and Constitutional Court
judges because of a legal technicality.

The court ruled that the 2004 Judicial Commission
Law setting up the body was flawed — and
therefore unconstitutional — because it did not
make a distinction between the “justices” of the
Supreme Court and the “judges” of other courts.

However, neither does the nation’s Constitution,
which simply states that all conditions for "the
appointment and dismissal of a judge shall be laid
down by the law".

That verdict is only the latest in a series of
controversial decisions handed down by the court,
which observers believe is dealing a blow to
government attempts to reform the notoriously
corrupt judiciary.

Last month, the court issued a ruling that made it
more difficult for the Corruption Eradication
Commission (KPK) to round up graft suspects. It
ruled that suspects in corruption cases could only
be brought to court if there was evidence they
were in violation of “formal regulations”.

Sahetapy warned the country was in danger of
“constitutional tyranny” from the court because as
the sole institution with the right to interpret
the Constitution, it could easily abuse such
authority.

"There is no institution in the country that can
successfully challenge their (judges’) authority
as any efforts to review Law No. 24/2003 on the
Constitutional Court will easily be rejected by
(the court)," Sahetapy said.

To create a better decision-making mechanism at
the court, Soemantri suggested that there should
an amendment to the law on the court to increase
the number of judges.

"With the current arrangement of nine members,
including a chairman, it is difficult to expect a
strong dissenting opinion, but with a membership
of 15, for instance, a more healthy debate could
take place and the verdict could be less
controversial," Soemantri told the Post.

Both Soemantri and Sahetapy were involved in the
deliberations of the constitutional court law.

The court, however, was not the only institution
to blame for some of the controversial rulings,
the two experts agreed.

"The House of Representatives should share the
blame for producing poor quality laws that can
easily become the subjects of judicial reviews
filed by those affected by the laws," Soemantri
said.

 LABOUR ISSUES

Government prepares bill to protect domestic
workers

Jakarta Post - September 7, 2006

The government is drafting a law on domestic
workers that is aimed at providing legal
protection from widespread exploitation.

The draft, now under discussion with all involved
parties before it is brought before national
legislators, guarantees the rights of housemaids
as informal workers, after many years when their
employers could do as they wished.

Their rights will be guaranteed from the moment
they are recruited by labor supplying agencies and
during their employment. But critics say the bill
is deficient in not mandating severe punishment
for anyone who exploits or abuses maids.

Housemaids can be recruited by labor suppliers or
by their prospective employers, with the main
requirement that they are trained in household
chores to ensure they meet job requirements before
they start. Also included in the category of
“housemaids” are babysitters and caregivers for
the elderly.

Like those working overseas, the bill mandates
that domestic workers would be entitled to a
monthly payment, annual bonus, days off and
knowledge enhancement to improve their
productivity. It also states they should be able
to maintain communication with their family, to
unionize, perform their religious obligations and
receive labor and health protection.

Working hours are set at eight hours a day, with
the right to take a rest period. They also can
have one day off a week, and take annual leave of
at least 12 days.

Because of different conditions among regions, the
minimum wage for domestic workers will be set by
local administrations through bylaws.

On their part, housemaids are required to have
professional skills, maintain good conduct,
protect the employer family’s privacy and
security, as well as notify their employer and/or
recruitment agency at least 15 days before they
resign.

The director general for labor inspection at the
Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, Maruddin
Simanihuruk, said housemaids were treated
separately from the formal workforce because their
employment was family-based and industrial
relations did not apply.

"The bill is a lex specialis (special law) because
household jobs have their unique characteristics
which do not need detailed regulations. They stay
with their employers. Living together with them
makes them dependent, allowing them to save their
monthly salary but simultaneously leaving them
prone to abuse."

Despite all the special characteristics, he said,
the sector could be regulated to ensure mutual
benefits to workers and their employers, and to
avoid unwanted incidents.

In cases of exploitation, harassment and disputes,
the bill allows domestic workers to report the
incidents to their employers’ neighborhood chief,
or go to court, for settlement.

The housemaids’ right to unionize will allow their
associations or unions to help provide advocacy
for their members, Maruddin said, referring to the
Domestic Workers Union in Yogyakarta.

He said the bill carried no physical sanctions
against any violation of the agreement between
housemaids and their recruiting agencies, or any
violation of the labor relationship between
workers and their employers because the job was
informal.

"To protect housemaids from human trade and abuse,
the government has enforced the domestic violence
law and will apply the human trafficking bill
which is being deliberated by the House of
Representatives."

The two laws could be used to prosecute abusive
employers for committing crimes in their
workplace, he said.

Maruddin hoped the long-awaited bill, which has
received support from the National Commission for
Protection of Women and Children and women’s
rights organizations, would soon be submitted to
the House, and enacted in 2007. (JP/Ridwan Max
Sijabat)


Housemaids still vulnerable to exploitation, abuse

Jakarta Post - September 7, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — Sutinah’s chores
start early and end late, day in and day out.

The 18-year-old from the Central Java town of
Purwodadi is a housemaid for a working couple with
three children aged five, three and one. She wakes
at 4 a.m. to prepare breakfast, do the laundry and
clean the house. When the children awake, she
helps bathe them.

"After preparing breakfast for the children, I
carry the youngest around, singing him Javanese
lullabies until he sleeps. Then, I help the
children’s grandmother bathe and prepare her
breakfast."

She does ironing while cooking lunch and dinner,
and helps out with other household work during the
evening.

Sutinah goes to bed at 11 p.m., stealing five
hours of sleep before the next workday. With no
holiday, it is the same routine for her every day
of the week.

Sutinah has worked for the family for five years,
receiving a monthly salary of Rp 300,000 (about
US$33) plus an annual bonus and a trip home for
the post-fasting month holiday of Idul Fitri.

Demand for domestic workers in big cities, both at
home and overseas, is increasing. Employing
household help, long a tradition in Indonesian
society, has remained important even with the
adoption of modern lifestyles. The number of
housemaids in Jakarta increased to several million
in 2006 from 860,000 in 2000, NGO Rumpun Gema
Perempuan reported.

Most of the workers are low-educated women,
including teenagers, from rural areas, who come to
Jakarta and other major cities to support their
families back home. Their employers, increasingly,
are dual career couples needing their help to
balance work and family responsibilities.

Despite the growing demand for their services,
housemaids have not been classified as a formal
sector regulated by the labor and social security
laws. There are no clear labor standards,
including on minimum wages, fringe benefits, set
working hours and social security programs.

Left out of the core labor standards and legal
protection, most housemaids work for more than 12
hours a day and are denied their basic human
rights.

Isolated from the public eye, they also are
acutely vulnerable to exploitation, physical and
sexual abuse. But few cases ever make it to court.
For one, it’s difficult to document the
exploitation and abuse, and the police are
reluctant to enter into the domestic sphere.
Housemaids also are prevented from reporting the
abuse to the authorities, or do not know who to
turn to.

There have been exceptions, however, when
widespread media exposure of horrific abuse cases,
including the killing of maids, promoted law
enforcers to act.

Women’s rights activist Taty Krisnawaty said the
2004 enactment of the domestic violence law helped
in preventing housemaids, mostly women, from
suffering physical and sexual abuse, but it was
not adequate to provide protection for all their
needs.

"The absence of labor contract has also allowed
employers to treat their maids arbitrarily, such
as making them work 12 hours a day or withholding
their pay."

Taty said despite its informal status, household
employment must be regulated and based on human
rights adopted by the Amended 1945 Constitution,
with housemaids deserving the legal protection and
equal treatment afforded formal workers.

"In line with the increasing demand in the
domestic market, household jobs must be regulated
under a law as a token of our commitment to human
rights."

ILO chief technical adviser Lotte Kejser said the
exclusion of housemaids from the labor law and
social security programs was actually the worst
form of discrimination, and contravened the
Constitution and an ILO convention ratified by
Indonesia.

A law is urgently needed to improve the status of
domestic workers and make household employment a
profession for uneducated workers, she said,
saying it was regulated as a profession with core
labor standards in developed nations.

- Housemaids are mostly women aged between 13 and
25, low-educated, poor and from rural areas
- 87 percent housemaids work 10 to 12 hours a day
- 54 percent of housemaids have annual leave
amounting to less than 12 days
- 28 percent are not allowed to take annual leave
and communicate with their family
- 68 percent of housemaids experience
psychological burdens (frequent reprimanding and
verbal abuse)
- 93 percent suffer physical abuse
- A further 42 percent are sexually abused

The Criminal Code has been bound inapplicable for
processing violations against housemaids.

Source: Rumpun Gema Perempuan, 2006


Sanyo workers stage strike

Jakarta Post - September 7, 2006

Bekasi — Thousands of workers at Japan-based
electronic goods producer PT Sanyo Indonesia went
on strike Tuesday following the suspension of the
management of their union.

From 7 a.m., the demonstrators staged a sit-in at
a factory in the East Jakarta Industrial Park,
Bekasi, demanding their three colleagues be
reinstated.

"They were suspended because they were involved in
the demonstration last April that was staged to
demand a raise. The company had agreed that no one
would be dismissed or punished over the
demonstration," said workers union deputy chairman
Zainuddin.

Company management refused to meet with the
workers, but a staffer, Fumitosi Izumi, read a
statement requesting that they end their strike.
"Since the strike is a violation of the Labor Law,
the workers can be subject to suspension or even
dismissal, while the case can be brought to
trial," she said.

The workers said they would continue to strike
until their demands were met.


Study says no to labor law changes

Jakarta Post - September 2, 2006

Jakarta — There is no need to make controversial
major changes to the labor law, as proposed by the
government, according to a study by a group of
state universities assigned to review the
regulation.

"Basically there should be a balance. There should
be only necessary changes, but not as drastic as
those planned before," Vice President Jusuf Kalla
said Friday, quoting the study.

The law was reviewed by five universities: the
University of Indonesia, the University of North
Sumatra, the Hasanuddin University, the Gadjah
Mada University and the Padjajaran University. The
government ordered the academic study after its
proposed revisions to the law drew fierce
opposition from labor unions in May.

"We just need to add details to the law, such as
in the articles on dismissal and the relationship
between workers and employers. We will first
communicate with employers and labor unions on the
matter," Kalla was quoted as saying by the
Detikcom news portal.

 POLITICS/POLITICAL PARTIES

Hasyim shuns new NU-backed party

Jakarta Post - September 4, 2006

Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) leader Hasyim Muzadi said
Sunday that the central board of the country’s
largest Muslim organization would not give its
blessings to a new political party that senior
clerics wanted to set up.

NU figures who wish to establish a new party to
challenge the Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid-backed
National Awakening Party (PKB) should channel
their energies into the party’s national congress
slated for 2009, Hasyim said.

"Just wait until the third congress takes place so
that efforts to avenge their defeat can be done in
a dignified way," Hasyim said in Malang, East
Java.

He called on the splinter group led by Chairul
Anam to reconsider their plan to set up a new
political party as it would require tremendous
manpower and resources.

Hasyim was commenting on a plan by NU clerics
opposed to Gus Dur’s leadership in the divided PKB
to establish a new political party to challenge
the government-sanctioned PKB.

After a protracted legal battle, the Supreme Court
recently issued a ruling that recognized the Gus
Dur-backed PKB, chaired by deputy speaker of House
of Representatives, Muhaimin Iskandar.

Responding to the verdict, senior NU clerics who
support Anam’s faction within the PKB intensified
efforts to set up a new political vehicle.

The group is expected to hold its first meeting
Wednesday to finalize preparations for the
establishment of a new party in Langitan, Tuban,
East Java.

The splinter group was confident that a two-year
period before the 2009 general elections would be
enough to build a mass base for the party.

Gus Dur’s opponents also vowed to challenge the
Supreme Court’s decision.

Hasyim said that as leader of the winning side in
the PKB conflict, Muhaimin should make efforts to
accommodate the interests of the opposition camp.

"It will create a more conducive situation. As for
the losing side I ask them to be patient and wait
for the next PKB congress," Hasyim said.
(JP/Wahyoe Boediwardhana)


Political party flags displayed at site of Jakarta
fire

Detik.com - September 1, 2006

Gagah Wijoseno, Jakarta — A variety of political
party flags adorn the site of the fire in the
Penjaringan area of North Jakarta. According to
Detik’s observations on Friday September 1, at
least five parties have put flags up including the
Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), the Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the National
Awakening Party (PKB), the Democrat Party (PD) and
the Patriot Party (PP).

Of the five parties only the PKS, PDI-P and PKB
have setup coordination posts while the other have
only put up party flags and symbols.

Local residents have reacted differently to the
issue. Halimah (30) whose food stall was burnt
down has no objections to the party flags and
coordination posts. "I’m like just going along
with it. It’s called being the little people," he
said. Despite having no objections, Halimah still
hopes to receive assistance in the form of food,
clothing and cooking utensils.

A different view was expressed by Hari (30). He
objects to the distribution of party symbols and
flags. "I strongly object, it is as if they are
campaigning at a time people are experiencing
difficulties. There is no benefit. The impression
is a campaign", he said. Hari added however that
he has no objections to the coordination posts as
long as their aim is humanitarian and not
political.

Suhendro (25) who staffs a PKB coordination post
denied that the coordination post was being used
as a means to promote the political party. "It is
humanitarian. We are helping. There is no
relationship to the gubernatorial elections [next
year], we are serving [people’s] needs. I’m not
concerned if it is from another party", he said.

The fire at Penjaringan occurred last Tuesday. At
least 310 homes housing some 1,500 people were
burnt down. The victims of the fire are still
cleaning out the remains of their houses while
others are tearing down remains of their homes.
Residents have been living in tents since the
fire. (nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

 LAPINDO MUD DISASTER

Government to form national team on mudflow

Jakarta Post - September 7, 2006

Jakarta/Sidoarjo — The government is organizing a
national team to address the hot toxic mud that is
flooding Sidoarjo, East Java. The move came as
victims continued protesting Wednesday against
Lapindo Brantas Inc., which has been blamed for
the disaster.

"Vice President Jusuf Kalla is establishing a
national team to take care of this problem. It’s a
big issue involving many lives, therefore it
requires special treatment," the chairman of the
Indonesian Muslim Student Movement (PMII), Hery
Haryanto Azumi, said Wednesday after meeting with
Kalla.

No details were available about the leadership or
members of the team or its specific duties.
However, the Vice President said the government
would prioritize the safety of people and their
belongings, as well as the safety of public
facilities, Antara quoted Hery as saying.

Hery said the government has not yet directly
addressed the impact of the mudflow on local
people’s lives.

The PMII, which is affiliated with Nahdlatul
Ulama, the country’s largest Muslim organization,
plans to hold a seminar in Jakarta on Sept. 19 to
evaluate the government’s performance in handling
the mudflow case.

The chairman of the Indonesian Christian Student
Movement (GMKI), Kenly M. Poluan, who met with
Kalla separately Wednesday, said the national team
will consist of many parties, including the
government and Lapindo itself.

"The Vice President stressed that the government
will work hard to overcome this problem. If the
mud has to be flown to the sea, then it will be.
He also said the problem is an accident faced by
the nation and the government is taking it
seriously, working with both local and foreign
engineers," Kenly said.

The GMKI, he added, saw the case as a corporate
crime that should be dealt with firmly.

Earlier, Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto said
his office had established three teams focused on
shutting down the source of the mud, securing
infrastructure such as railways and roads, and
coping with related social problems, particularly
compensation for the victims.

In Sidoarjo, hundreds of mudflow victims from
Kedungbendo village continued their protest
Wednesday outside the Lapindo Brantas office. The
residents demanded a guarantee of compensation for
their land destroyed by the sludge. They also
demanded that the company pay their rent.

A resident named Suprapto said if the compensation
is not paid soon, thousands of people will
blockade the company’s heavy-duty vehicles and the
equipment it has been using to work in the mudflow
area.

Kedungbendo village chief Hasan said he had
repeatedly told the victims to be patient and
waiting for compensation. "I have told them not to
shut down the access, but now I’m angry too
because Lapindo hasn’t met its promise," said
Hasan, who was among the protesters.

Local residents are also worried the coming rainy
season will swell the lakes of mud currently held
back by embankments, breaking down the retaining
walls and causing floods. Surging mud has flooded
more than 400 hectares of land, including 1,810
houses, 20 factories, and 18 school buildings.

Lapindo Brantas vice president and public
relations head Yuniwati Teryana said her office
was still collecting data on the victims’ assets,
including their land and houses.

"We’re facing very complicated problems. We can’t
just settle everything in such a short time. We
have to measure every property carefully because
it’s related to data accuracy and land
certificates," she said.


NGOs warn Lapindo, government

Jakarta Post - September 6, 2006

Adisti Sukma Sawitri and Indra Harsaputra,
Jakarta/Sidoarjo —
Legal and environmental
activists are threatening to take the government
and Lapindo Brantas Inc. to court unless there is
quick settlement of compensation for thousands of
mudflow victims in Sidoarjo, East Java.

The Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid
Institute (YLBHI) and Indonesian Forum for the
Environment (Walhi) set a week’s deadline for them
to provide “concrete action”, or they would sue.

The NGOs charge the government and the companies
violated the environment law and the Criminal Code
in handling the disaster, which began on May 29
and has yet to be brought under control.

It has submerged about 160 hectares of residential
areas, factories and farmland in Porong district,
displacing about 8,300 people. A study by
Greenomics Indonesia estimated last month that the
mudflow at the time had caused Rp 33 trillion
(US$3.6 billion) in losses to local people and
their environment.

"The government has to make sure that Lapindo as
well as its parent companies compensate for the
environmental damage and local people’s losses,
and never get help with the money from state
coffers," said lawyer Taufik Basari of YLBHI.

In Padang, West Sumatra, Sonny Keraf, a former
environmental minister and now deputy chairman of
House Commission VII on mineral resources,
demanded Lapindo pay compensation three to four
times the nominal value of the damaged property.
He also said they should pay nonmaterial losses.
"And such losses may not be covered by the
government using state money," Keraf told Antara
newswire.

Lapindo is owned by PT Medco Indonesia (38
percent) and Santos Brantas Pty (12 percent), with
the rest under PT Energi Mega Persada, controlled
by the Bakrie Group. Nevertheless, Energi Mega
Persada, which claims it has spent US$20 million
to handle the calamity, is planning to sell its
shares in Lapindo to an unnamed Bakrie unit.

Taufik also demanded an apology from Lapindo for
its negligence in exploring the Banjarpanji-1 gas
well. Police last week sealed off the site due to
the risk of explosion from underground gases. They
have questioned nine suspects, consisting of three
Lapindo executives and six field operators, for
negligence.

The company’s management has been blamed for
allegedly failing to install protective casing at
the required depth during the drilling process.

Walhi’s national coordinator Chalid Muhammad said
that Lapindo and the government also had to
improve transparency in handling the mudflow and
providing compensation. "They have yet to do their
utmost to stop the mudflow," he said.

Chalid said Lapindo, with the government’s
permission, had chosen to divert the mud to other
areas, instead of attempting to permanently close
the leak.

Meanwhile, the Sidoarjo administration continued
Tuesday with its efforts to direct the mud to Kali
Mati, Pasuruan regency. Sidoarjo regent Win
Hendarso said it was an alternative strategy to
reduce the volume of mud flowing around the gas
well.

"We’re doing this to prevent floods in the coming
rainy season," he said, adding it would be
processed into building material. The decision
sparked more opposition from increasingly
frustrated locals and activists.


Mudflow victims vent their anger

Jakarta Post - September 5, 2006

Indra Harsaputra and Ridway M. Sijabat,
Sidoarjo/Jakarta —
Tempers flared again Monday at
a rally by hundreds of people from Porong,
Sidoarjo, East Java, frustrated by handling of the
mudflow disaster.

Two police officers were injured after protesters
pelted them with stones outside the local
administration office. They demanded that Lapindo
Brantas Inc. — the owner of the gas exploration
well which ruptured on May 29 and has caused
massive damage to its surroundings — provide an
assurance that their five villages would not be
affected by the mudflow.

Local representatives agreed with their demand,
even though sparing their villages of Keboguyang,
Permisan, Glagaharum, Plumbon and Sentul would
mean others in the area would have to be
sacrificed to accommodate the unstoppable mudflow.

"We understand they are stressed due to the
mudflow and are demanding certainty about their
fate," Sidoarjo Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Utomo
Heru Cahyono said.

Violence has marred protests by increasingly
restless residents in recent weeks, with thousands
demanding higher compensation after the torrent of
mud engulfed their homes and the shrimp ponds
dotting coastal Sidoarjo.

Residents vandalized Lapindo Brantas water pipes
last Friday. At a different rally, protesters
threw a soldier into one of the ponds allocated to
contain the mud. He was not injured. They also
have periodically closed the local turnpike, and
there have been clashes between neighboring
villages over possible inundation.

Residents also have expressed suspicions local
officials have been bought off by the company. "I
will force myself to defend you until I fall sick.
I just ask you to believe me and deputy regent,"
Sidoarjo Regent Win Hendraso told the protesters
Monday.

In a related development, another Lapindo employee
died Monday when he was crushed by a bulldozer
raising an embankment for mud containment. The
man, identified as Hariyanto, died at 8:30 a.m. He
was the second victim after Yuli Eko Artanto, the
operator of the excavator machine, died Friday
from massive injuries suffered in a mudflow site
explosion.

In Jakarta, a group of academics warned Monday of
the likelihood of greater social conflicts due to
the government’s slow handling of the problem.

They said the victims had exhausted their
patience, especially before the post-fasting month
Idul Fitri holiday in October. They said a greater
ecological disaster was inevitable because the
mudflow was getting worse ahead of the rainy
season, due to begin in November.

Hotman Siahaan, representing the Board of Surabaya
Academy, said in a meeting with the House
leadership that the situation was at a critical
point.

"Hot mud spewing out of the company’s mining site
will generate a major disaster on the eve of the
rainy season; mudflow will swamp all surrounding
densely populated areas, including the turnpike
network, while the Madurese people are prepared to
take up their machetes if the government goes
ahead with its decision to dispose the hot mud
into the Java Sea," he said.

The Airlangga University sociology professor
accompanied Nahdlatul Ulama clerics and
councillors from the East Java provincial
legislature, who asked the House of
Representatives to pressure the government to set
up a special body to handle the disaster.

"In this emergency condition, the government has
to be tough in taking necessary actions to avoid a
major disaster and also must be transparent in
giving locals accurate information on the mudflow.
It also must provide certainty about compensation
for the people in entering the fasting month," he
said.


TV station digs a hole for Lapindo

Jakarta Post - September 3, 2006

Indra Harsaputra, Sidoarjo — In a bizarre twist
to the continuing mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, a
local television station claims the company at the
center of the mess has agreed to make a TV soap
opera to tell its “heroic” side of the story — an
assertion the company denies.

East Java station Jawa Post Televisi (JTV)
executive producer Awi Setiawan said the company,
Lapindo Brantas Inc., had agreed to pay for a 13-
episode drama, or sinetron, titled Gali Lubang
Tutup Lubang (Digging a Hole, Filling a Hole).

"Production is likely to start in mid-September,
while for the screening schedule, we are still
waiting for further discussions with Lapindo," Awi
told The Jakarta Post. All production costs — Rp
520 million at Rp 40 million (US$4,347) an episode
— would be covered by Lapindo, he said.

Lapindo’s image has been in free fall since the
disaster, which began on May 29. The mudflows
issuing from Lapindo’s well site now cover more
than 180 hectares of land in the district and have
made about 10,000 residents in the area homeless.

Environmentalists say the hot mud has caused up to
US$3 billion in damages, compensation and clean-up
costs, and have urged the government to prosecute
Lapindo under the country’s environmental laws.

Lapindo is owned by the family of the Coordinating
Minister for the People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie.

Its management are already the subject of a
criminal investigation after allegations surfaced
that the company failed to put protective casing
on its drilling well, a vital safety procedure
that is being blamed for the catastrophe.

Responding to JTV’s claims, Yuniwati Teryana,
Lapindo’s vice president and head of public
relations, denied the company was producing a
television drama to improve its image. She told
the Post that Lapindo had no plans to make a TV
drama or film about the situation in Sidoarjo.

JTV program director Ali Murtadlo, meanwhile, said
the idea for the TV drama first came from JTV and
Parfi, who wanted to develop a sinetron idea in
Java. "The hot mudflow in Porong, Sidoarjo, is a
big tragedy and it is Lapindo’s responsibility to
take care of the problem. We will highlight
stories of Lapindo’s heroism in this sinetron,"
Ali told the Post.

Despite the confusion over Lapindo’s involvement
in the project, Ali said pre-production was in
full swing, with a number of locations decided on,
including residential areas inundated by the
mudflow. Awi said actors from the East Java branch
of the Indonesian Actors Guild (Parfi) would play
parts in the series.

Parfi talent manager Audy Utomo said that popular
sinetron actors like Rizal Gibran and noted
musician Sawung Jabo had expressed interest in
playing leading roles. "We’re still negotiating
contracts with them. But local (East Java) actors
are in the preparatory stage after going through a
long audition process," he said.

It is not clear who will direct the series but the
production’s executive producer, Sonny Bule,
suggested filmmaker Garin Nugroho was a
frontrunner and would be approached.

Contacted by the Post, Garin said he had not heard
of the project. "I’ve never been personally
contacted (by Sonny)," he said by phone from
Surakarta, Central Java. "But I’ve not been in the
office lately. I’ve been busy promoting my film
Opera Jawa (the Javanese Opera).

When asked whether he would be willing to make a
drama on the mudflows, he said he was not sure. "I
don’t know the theme or the storyline just yet, so
I can’t answer that."

Previously, JTV has produced the Jula-Juli and
Dollywood dramas based on the lives of commercial
sex workers in Dolly, Surabaya’s red light
district.

[With additional reporting by Stevie Emilia in
Jakarta.]


Frustration boils over in East Java

Jakarta Post - September 2, 2006

Indra Harsaputra, Sidoarjo — Residents of
Sidoarjo, East Java, vented their frustration at
the handling of the mudflow disaster in a violent
protest Friday, but Vice President Jusuf Kalla
said areas designated to contain the mud would
have to be expanded a further 300 hectares.

Residents of worst-affected Porong district pelted
stones and set fire to several facilities
belonging to Lapindo Brantas Inc., which owns the
gas exploration well that has spewed a torrent of
hot, foul-smelling mud since May 29.

Residents also vandalized four water pumps set up
to pump water from Porong River. They demanded the
company stop dumping mud into the river and that
embankments be strengthened to prevent their homes
from being inundated.

The protest reportedly started when a team working
to stop the mudflow prepared the pumps to siphon
out riverwater.

Keboguyang villager Rahmat said the residents were
worried the new work would create more ecological
problems. "We’ve never been told about the pumps.
We don’t want Porong river being used to dump the
mudflow," he told tempointeraktif.com. Dozens of
police personnel arrived to disperse the
residents.

A Lapindo external relations and security
official, Budi Susanto, said he regretted the
incident, which he blamed on poor public awareness
of the plan.

The protest brought a halt to the ongoing work to
stop the mudflow, but did not affect the partial
operation of the recently reopened Surabaya-Gempol
turnpike.

In Jakarta, Kalla said there was a plan to expand
the embankments to some 300 hectares to prevent
further spread of the mudflow. The mud now covers
180 hectares in what environmentalists call a
manmade ecological disaster that has caused an
estimated US$1 billion in damage to the area.

"Maybe the embankments will cover some 300
hectares more," he told journalists, saying that
work would continue to strengthen the existing
catchments. He said the government, through the
Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, had also
deployed top local and foreign experts to try to
end the mudflow problem, and strived to ensure the
safety of residents and their property.

Meanwhile, the East Java Police questioned former
Lapindo general manager Aswan Siregar for the
first time Friday. Questioning reportedly focused
on the drawing up of the drilling cooperation
program and contract with PT Medici Citra Nusa.

Aswan served as general manager until February
2006 while exploration at the mudflow’s source,
Banjar Panji-1, began in March 2006. He was
replaced by Imam Agustino, who has been named a
suspect in the case. Aswan was summoned because
Imam could not answer police questions on the
drilling plan.

The head of the East Java Police special crime
unit, Adj. Sr. Comr. I Nyoman Sukena, said there
were no new suspects in the case.

The police have named nine suspects, including
three Lapindo executives and six field operators,
for negligence. The company’s management has been
faulted for allegedly failing to install
protective casing at the required depth during the
drilling process.

East Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Herman Surjadi
Sumawiredja said earlier the police would
immediately bring the case to the court, and vowed
there would be no bowing to political interests or
outside pressure.

"Believe me, we’re professional. If the
investigation process takes some time, it’s
because the police is being careful and don’t want
to rush things up," he said.


Sidoarjo turnpike awash in sludge

Jakarta Post - September 1, 2006

Indra Harsaputra and ID Nugroho, Sidoarjo —
Disruption in service continued on the Surabaya-
Gempol turnpike Thursday from a fourth breached
embankment from the mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo,
East Java.

As the turnpike operator worked to make the road
passable, visiting State Minister for the
Environment Rachmat Witoelar said a controversial
plan to dispose of treated mud would go ahead.

After being closed for two straight days, the
turnpike was back in partial operation by 4:50
p.m. Thursday, allowing only the passage of
vehicles from Surabaya to Gempol.

The head of the Surabaya-Gempol service
subdivision of turnpike operator PT Jasa Marga in
Surabaya, Stephanus Prasetyo, said the road was
partially opened to ease the backup of vehicles in
the area.

He said the mudflow spill started to subside in
the morning after work to repair the damaged
embankment, which broke early Tuesday.
Embankments, reaching several meters high and
built to shield unaffected areas from the mudflow,
are made from earth and gravel.

"Although the turnpike is back in operation, we
can’t be sure whether tomorrow (Friday) it will
remain open or it will have to be closed again,
because the condition of the embankment is
dangerous and prone to damage," Stephanus said.

The massive mudflow from a May 29 leak at Lapindo
Brantas Inc.’s gas exploration site has displaced
an estimated 10,000 residents in nearby Porong,
forced the closure of factories and disrupted the
distribution of goods in East Java.

The foul-smelling hot mud now covers 180 hectares;
environmentalists, calling it a manmade ecological
catastrophe, estimate it has caused US$1 billion
in damage to the area. They say Lapindo should be
prosecuted under the country’s environmental laws.

The government’s proposal to dispose of the mud
before the onset of the rainy season has alarmed
residents and environmental activists, who deride
it as a desperate stopgap measure.

Under the original plan, the mud would be treated,
with the water dumped into the sea and the
sediment disposed at sand mines in nearby
Mojokerto. However, the Mojokerto regency
administration has not issued a permit for the
disposal.

But Rachmat Witoelar said in Sidoarjo on Thursday
that the plan to dump the water into the sea would
be realized despite the protests.

He assured that the liquid would be free of any
poisonous substances after treatment. "The plan to
dump the mudflow’s water into the sea will go on
after it has been treated and studied by the state
minister of environment’s office. If we decide to
dump the water into the sea, then it means the
water has no more poisonous substances.“He added:”People who reject the plan aren’t clear
about what they’re rejecting". The disposal might
begin in six months’ time, he said, after the
construction of water treatment facilities and
dams around the gas drilling site were completed.

A former chairman of the Indonesian Geologists
Association, Andang Bachtiar, said the continuing
uncertainty about solving the problem should
partially be blamed on the central government.

He believed it was indirectly responsible for
compensation to affected residents based on its
legal contract with Lapindo. "If Vice President
Jusuf Kalla says that Lapindo will cover
everything, it’s merely a political excuse," he
said, referring to Kalla’s earlier pledge while
visiting the mudflow victims.

Andang said the US$70 million spent by Lapindo
since May was paltry compared to its income from
running the gas wells. "So up to today, Lapindo
still can afford paying compensation to residents
and its other operational costs," he told The
Jakarta Post.

A Lapindo human resources official, Sebastian
Jafar, said the company could still afford to
cover all operational costs and compensate
affected residents. "... but we are conducting a
financial efficiency program".

Although he did not elaborate, reports said the
company’s cost-saving measures including limiting
phone use and accommodation expenses for its staff
of experts.

 ENVIRONMENT

Students call for logging probe

Jakarta Post - September 5, 2006

Hasrul, Kendari — A group of students protested
in front of the Southeast Sulawesi legislative
council Sunday, demanding an investigation into
illegal logging on Buton Island.

They alleged Buton Regent Sjafei Kahar was
involved, which was why no progress had been made
in the case. The students had earlier marched to
the local police station, but no one there was
prepared to meet with them.

"Because we were not received by police, we came
here to voice our demands directly," protest
coordinator Firmansyah said. "The central
government is determined to end illegal logging,
but the practice on Buton Island even involves its
regent," Firmansyah said.

The students had launched their own investigation
into the case, uncovering a decree signed by the
regent. The decree gave illegal loggers the green
light but it was cleverly worded, so it made it
sound like it was about protecting the
environment, he said.

The students informed police of the decree’s
contents and the head of the Buton forestry
office, Abidin Baso, was consequently named a
suspect. The students urged Southeast Sulawesi
Police to investigate illegal logging in Wahina
protected forest, Todanga, Kapontori.


Environmental degradation blamed for extreme heat

Jakarta Post - September 4, 2006

Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta — Less trees,
polluted, gluggy water and the heat from more
vehicles is making the city’s temperatures rise to
scorching levels in the dry season, not global
warming, the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency
(BMG) says.

The agency says temperatures for the area in this
year’s dry season have averaged between 33 and 34
degrees Celsius.

"These are the normal temperatures in the dry
season. What causes the city to feel hotter lately
is purely environmental degradation," agency
spokesman Ahmad Zakir told The Jakarta Post
Saturday. "It is all human activities causing the
city to become hotter," he said.

Driejana of the Environmental Department at
Bandung Institute of Technology said human
activities in urban areas had seriously increased
heat pollution. "This is a phenomenon, an urban
island of heat. It happens... when a city become
warmer than its surrounding areas," she told the
Post.

Driejana said heat islands were different from
global warming, which increased average
temperatures worldwide. Population increases in
areas generally cause them to heat up, she said.

"As populations grow, the demand for
infrastructure will increase; more open space will
be exploited and it will weaken the quality of the
environment,“she said.”The presence of high-rise
buildings in Jakarta blocks air circulation in the
area, while the surface of the buildings are heat
sources," she said.

The building absorb the sun’s heat in daytime and
give off heat as they slowly cool down after
sunset, preventing a dramatic temperature drop at
night. Driejana said that the increase of asphalt
and concrete roads also helped trap heat in the
city.

"The surface of black-colored asphalt absorbs the
sun’s heat just like people wearing black clothes.
It why some countries have changed the colors of
their roads," she said.

Australia, she said had adopted brighter colors on
its road surfaces to cool cities down. The Jakarta
administration, meanwhile, is building light
gray-hued roads on several corridor lanes of its
busway.

Driejana said that allocating more green zones in
urban areas could significantly reduce radiated
heat and help control air pollution. "Trees can
insulate us from the sun’s heat. They transpire
moisture during the daytime making areas fresh,"
she said.

Jakarta experiences large daily fluxes in
population — home to an estimated 10 million
people at night, its numbers swell to 12 million
in the daytime.

Most of its green zones have been converted to
commercial premises or been illegally settled by
poor migrants. Of it 60,000 hectares of land
Jakarta currently has only 5,911 ha of green areas
or 9 percent.

The administration has pledged increase green
spaces of 9,156 hectares, or 13.94 percent by
2010. Many trees were recently cut down to make
way for the city’s busway and monorail projects.


Government to sue firms over forest fires

Jakarta Post - September 2, 2006

Tb. Arie Rukmantara, Jakarta — The government
plans to sue three oil palm plantation firms and
one oil palm entrepreneur for allegedly starting
fires in their concessions that grew into massive
forest fires in Riau province.

The State Ministry for the Environment identified
the companies Friday as PT Subur Arum Makmur, PT
Riau Andalan Sentosa and PT Agro Sarimas
Indonesia. The individual is identified as Deden.
"We will file criminal and civil lawsuits. We’re
compiling their offenses now," said Hoetomo, the
state ministry’s deputy for environmental law
enforcement.

The country’s environment, forestry and plantation
laws, as well as its criminal code, ban burning
land to clear it. The offense carries a maximum
penalty of 15 years in prison and billions of
rupiah in fines.

The ministry is probing three other companies,
including State Plantation V, which manages oil
palm, rubber and cacao plantations in Sumatra. It
is also investigating two firms in Kalminantan, PT
Mitra Aneka Rezeki and PT Wilmar Sambas
Plantation, as well as a foreign investment firm
referred to only as PT BCP. "As for BCP, we’re
currently investigating the owner’s country of
origin," Hoetomo said.

Masnellyarti Hilman, deputy minister for
environmental management, said the government
decided to sue the companies because fire "hot
spots" had been occurring in their concessions
since last year and nothing had been done about
it.

She said she believed the legal actions would
deter other companies. "Satellite images show that
most of the fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan occur
in concessions belonging to logging and plantation
firms," she added.

Ministry data shows that from June to August this
year, more than 53 percent of the 6,734 hot spots
in Sumatra have occurred on the concessions of
logging, industrial timber estate and plantation
firms. Hot spots are places that produce enough
heat to trigger satellite sensors, but not all of
them are fires. More than 65 percent of the 5,705
hot spots in Indonesia’s part of Borneo also took
place on business properties.

Masnellyarti said the ministry would seek
compensation for environmental losses, such as the
loss of biodiversity and the degradation of the
forests’ ability to absorb carbon emissions, which
is vital to halting global warming.

Greenomics Indonesia has estimated that forest
fires and haze are costing the government, the
public and the private sector more than Rp 227
billion (almost US$25 million) a day in
deforestation, damage to health and other effects.

State Minister for the Environment Rachmat
Witoelar said the lawsuit would aim to prove that
the country’s rampant forest fires were
intentional rather than natural. "We also want to
show that we’re not only targeting small-scale
farmers or nomadic farmers, but also big players,"
he said.

The companies’ executives could not be reached for
comment and are not listed in the country’s trade
and industry directory, the Sumatra or Borneo
yellow pages, or with the province’s 108
information operator.

Derom Bangun, the executive chairman of the
Indonesian Association of Palm Oil Producers, said
these companies might affect the image of the
country’s oil palm industry, but his organization
fully supported the ministry’s move to enforce the
law.


Firms light forest fires

Jakarta Post - September 1, 2006

Palembang, South Sumatra — Data collected by an
environmental group here shows that 98 of the
2,047 hot spots on the island of Sumatra were
detected in concession areas of private plantation
companies in Ogan Komering Ilir, Banyuasin, Musi
Rawas and Musi Banyuasin regencies.

"A significant number of the hot spots have been
located in private plantations," Muhammad Saleh
from the South Sumatra Forest Fire Management
Project (SSFFMP) told The Jakarta Post on
Thursday.

However, he said law enforcers had not taken stern
actions against the oil palm plantations, while
several traditional farmers suspected of setting
fire to forested areas had been detained.

"Don’t slap stiff sanctions only on farmers, but
also on plantation companies which have evidently
set fire to farmland," said chairman of the South
Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the
Environment (WALHI), Sri Lestari.

The number of hot spots in the province has
declined in the past week, but Saleh is not sure
whether this is due to increased public awareness
or the rain. "The declining number of hot spots is
not a sure indication of a trend because the dry
season lasts until September," said Saleh.

An official from the South Sumatra Agricultural
Office, Dodi Supriadi, said that fires in peatland
usually died down on the surface but had the
potential of reigniting due to wind or lighted
cigarette butts.

GENDER ISSUES

Women seek greater political clout to fight
fundamentalism

Jakarta Post - September 5, 2006

Adisti Sukma Sawitri, Jakarta — After wrapping up
a national gathering last week, women’s rights
activists say they are planning to educate
themselves politically and seek a bigger role in
administrations and local legislative councils.

The activists argue women can no longer stay at
home and trust their husbands or male relatives to
fight for their rights and welfare, pointing to
the issuance of several sharia-inspired bylaws in
various parts of the country as proof.

"We need more women representatives because those
gender-biased sharia bylaws are actually the
products of male domination in local
administrations and councils," women’s activist
Zohra Andi Baso of Makassar, South Sulawesi, told
The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

She noted that in the South Sulawesi regencies of
Takalar and Enrekang, which had no women on their
legislative councils, the local administrations
easily enacted ordinances to regulate what women
wear.

Since regional autonomy was put into place in
2001, at least 23 sharia-inspired bylaws have been
adopted in five provinces in this predominantly
Muslim country. Supporters argue the measures
reduce social ills and bolster morality.

The trend has caused alarm among some Muslims and
members of other religions, who fear it could
increase Islamic fundamentalism.

Some of the bylaws are gender-neutral, such as
those requiring schoolchildren to become literate
in the Koran. Others focus on women, allowing
authorities to arrest them as prostitutes if they
are on the street alone after dark, or charge them
with indecency if they don’t follow a dress code.

"If we can’t change the conditions in our areas, I
would not be surprised if there were more bylaws
like this in the coming years," said activist
Surayya Kamaruzzaman of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

She said besides getting more women involved in
politics, it is important to educate them in
self-advocacy, since most women currently involved
in local administrations and councils have rarely
spoken out for their rights.

Nursjahbani Katjasungkana, a prominent women
activist who is also a House of Representatives
legislator with Commission III on law and
legislation, said what she called the growing
abuse of women in the name of religion shows the
failure of Indonesian women’s activism.

"The women’s movement, made up of legislators,
bureaucrats and activists, is not consistent and
is poorly coordinated in fighting for their
rights. That’s why we fail to counter this kind of
fundamentalism," she said.

Nursjahbani said women’s activists did not
actively participate when the House and the
government were deliberating some laws, including
the law on Aceh governance.

That measure affirmed Aceh’s right to adopt sharia
laws. Women there have been detained for failing
to wear headscarves and, along with men, have
faced caning for such offenses as adultery and
gambling.

"Where were they at that time? If they had learned
well from their past experiences, they would have
started to take more concrete actions, rather than
just talking or holding discussions at forums,"
Nursjahbani said.


’Women’s movement needs to get its act together’

Jakarta Post - September 2, 2006

Women gathered in a national meeting in East
Jakarta this week, focusing on how they could
better advocate for women’s issues. Among them
were lecturer of political studies at the
University of Indonesia Ani W. Soetjipto, also of
the Center for Electoral Reform and writer of
Politik perempuan bukan gerhana (Women’s politics
is not an eclipse). She talked to The Jakarta
Post’s Adisti Sukma Sawitri on her views on the
women’s movement here. The following are excerpts
of the interview:

Question: What is the current situation of the
women’s movement here?

Answer: The movements are exclusive and there are
no main issues uniting them. Women groups are
focusing on their respective activities instead of
working with other possible allies, like those
fighting for human rights, the environment and
against corruption.

Instead, these potential allies are using women’s
issues to support their campaigns.

Women groups are also less coordinated and each of
them thinks it represents the best issues. And
they all compete to grab public attention. In the
end, none of them sound significant.

Inconsistency is another problem for us. If we’re
professional, of course we have to stick with one
issue that we agree on. In fact, we have so many
interests. Often we deal with issues, which are
global trends and what’s catching international
donors’ attention to fund our activities.

How much chance to women have to make necessary
reforms here?

The chances are getting smaller because the
country is moving to a consolidated government
system after the fall of the New Order.

We lost the momentum a few years ago because we
put so much energy into amendments to the
Constitution, and setting up regional autonomy and
decentralization. These reforms, however, have yet
to improve women’s welfare. Women are still the
victims of every public policy process in our
country.

In other countries there were similar transitions,
like in Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa. But women
activists there were well organized enough that
they could bring women issues to the center stage
of their governments’ policies.

These countries allotted bigger budget allocation
for women after governmental transitions. Whenever
their people talk about democracy, women’s issues
are at the center.

Why have reforms so far not involved the women’s
movement?

Regional autonomy complicates things even further
because we have different cultural, local
political and social conditions in different
regions.

In fairly homogenous regions like Bengkulu, the
local movement could easily propose a larger
budget allocation for women because things are
less complicated.

But in regions like Banyuwangi regency (East Java)
where the political temperature is high, it is
harder for reforms. And Regent Ratna Ani Lestari
faces a hard time because most locals have adopted
fundamentalist beliefs that are against women
being community leaders.

So what are the main issues that could unite
women’s groups here?

Globalization and fundamentalism are among our
main concerns because they are related to the
setback of women’s access to education, health,
politics and economics.

Globalization, through opening of labor markets,
leads to many women becoming the slaves of
multinational companies with low salaries so they
cannot support their families. These companies
trap women in poverty with limiting access to
education and health facilities so that they can
keep their salaries cheap.

Meanwhile, fundamentalism takes us back to the
time of our grandmothers, when women were expected
to stay home and take care of their children. They
are taught to obey whatever their husband says,
even if it endangered their health and lives.

This issue is very difficult, it even divides the
women’s movement from the level of the state to
that of our daily lives. Many women, even
activists, still support fundamentalism.

Most women support the pornography bill because
they think it’s protecting them in terms that they
would be safe if they dress properly in public.
They don’t realize that the drafted bill makes
women “bad girls” that need to be controlled by
the government. Fundamentalism leads us not only
into conflict with government policy, but also
those who believe in conservatism, including women
themselves.

What should be the strategy to improve the women’s
movement here?

Go back to the basics. We have to organize better,
make good networks, and educate activists and
their communities better, as well as empowering
ourselves financially. We should not rely so much
on donors and we should stick to our concerns. We
could live without this financial support in the
past and we certainly should be able to do it now.

That’s why we’re having this national meeting, to
organize and to network. We also hope to talk to
the government since they have been neglecting us
ever since President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came
into power.

He probably did not realize that most of his
voters in 2004 were women. If he wants to win the
next election, he had better help us now.


Women activists urge end to abuse in name of
religion

Jakarta Post - September 1, 2006

Adisti Sukma Sawitri, Jakarta — A national
gathering of women activists ended Thursday with a
statement that included a demand for firm action
against the victimization of women in the name of
religion.

Women and fundamentalism was listed among 12
critical issues of the women’s movement in the
next five years, with activists from across the
country urging state and major religious-based
organizations to "correct hard-line
fundamentalism".

Bylaws based on the sharia have been introduced in
several regencies, with restrictions including a
public curfew for women and the requirement for
them to wear the headscarf in public. A pregnant
woman in Tangerang municipality in Banten regency
filed a lawsuit against local authorities for
wrongful arrest for soliciting.

Activists in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province
contend that women are targeted under sharia for
misdemeanors such as wearing improper attire,
while men continue to practice illegal gambling.

The three-day gathering in East Jakarta, attended
by women from 28 provinces, was the first for
women activists to chart a unified program since
the formal end of the New Order regime in 1998.
Organizers included the Indonesian Coalition of
Women (KPI), a loose organization of women’s
groups and organizations.

Issues on fundamentalism were among four major
themes of law, poverty and politics.

Activists said they would communicate with other
groups, including parties “against” the women’s
movement, in combating fundamentalism. They also
stated they would continue to promote "values of
pluralism, equality and justice", and reveal and
introduce religious interpretations honoring the
position of women.

A movement led by former first lady Sinta Nuriyah
Wahid previously sought to change teachings
considered misinterpretations of the Koran by
clerics of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s largest
Muslim organization which she is affiliated with.

KPI secretary-general Masruchach told the forum
that the state must ensure the upholding of human
rights, "especially because discrimination against
women remains high". Threats against women, she
added, "are no longer limited to state policies
which are not responsive to women".

The congress also demanded an end to regulations
and amendments to the Constitution which violate
human rights.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who briefly attended
the closing ceremony, expressed disagreement with
calls to end loan-based development. The women
argued the allocation of the budget to serve
foreign and domestic loans, which has been
projected to reach almost 19 percent of total
spending next year, eventually hurts poor women
the most, particularly those who are family
breadwinners.

"How we can we spend more for education and health
if we stop borrowing?" Kalla said, adding that the
United States shouldered the largest foreign debt
in the world.

Despite reports of widespread gender-based
discrimination, Kalla believed the issue was more
about individual contributions. "Basically, the
role of women and men in this country depends on
their competence as human resources," he said.

 HEALTH & EDUCATION

Nutrition poor in Aceh, Nias

Jakarta Post - September 6, 2006

Banda Aceh — A study by the World Food Programme
(WFP) has found that primary school children in
Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and Nias suffer from
insufficient nutrition, inadequate healthcare and
poor hygiene.

The situation could provoke widespread parasitic
infections and result in stunted physical growth
and retarded intellectual development in the
areas, which were severely hit by a 9.6-magnitude
earthquake and tsunami in late 2004.

"The findings will help us fine-tune our school
feeding program to ensure that children’s diets
are supplemented with the right nutrients," said
WFP area coordinator Charlie Higgins.

Researchers surveyed a total of 1,920 children in
80 schools in Aceh and Nias.


Bird flu public awareness drive takes flight

Jakarta Post - September 2, 2006

Hera Diani, Jakarta — Amid international
criticism that it is not doing enough to contain
bird flu, the government launched a public
awareness campaign Friday about the deadly virus
that has killed more people here than anywhere
else in the world.

Titled “Be Aware of Bird Flu”, it includes TV
public service announcements with prevention
messages, such as to never touch dead fowl, for
hand-washing after handling fowl or visiting
markets, and to report dead poultry to
authorities.

As with Jackie Chan’s participation in PSAs
broadcast in Hong Kong and the Asian region, the
national campaign features local celebrities like
talk-show host Farhan and doctor-turned-celebrity
Lula Kamal. Other campaign materials include comic
book and stickers in public places.

Bayu Krisnamurti, the head of the newly launched
Indonesia National Committee for Avian Influenza
Control and Pandemic Preparedness (Komnas FBPI),
said the campaign also would focus on poultry
surveillance and biosecurity, which he admitted
were still lacking.

He reiterated the appeal for more international
financial support to fight the disease, which has
killed 47 Indonesians since June 2005.

"It’s not that we’re begging for foreign help, but
it’s a global problem that we should handle
together. A campaign for 220 million people
requires massive funds. We are inviting all
parties who are concerned about the health and
safety of many people to be involved."

He refused to disclose details of the campaign’s
budget, but said the government would need up to
US$260 million annually for the next three years
to finance its programs against bird flu.

"We have come up with a detailed financial
strategy. It’s up to the World Bank to provide
whatever contribution they choose to give," he
said, referring to the financial institution’s
recommendation earlier this week that a
comprehensive plan and strategy was essential to
tackle the outbreak.

Meanwhile, a leading bird flu expert from the
University of Hong Kong urged the country to do
more in animal surveillance to curb H5N1 and
understand how the virus behaves.

"Since 2003, it (Indonesia) has had no new
introduction of the H5N1. It has only one strain,
but its problem is like China’s. It can’t clean it
up," said Guan Yi, microbiology professor who has
studied the virus since 1997.

While Guan thought Indonesia was in as bad a
situation as China when it came to controlling the
disease in birds, he said what set the two
countries apart was the strength of their
government.

"Even China is better than Indonesia in some ways.
China’s government is at least strong, it can just
lock people up. But Indonesia can’t do that, it is
so dispersed. It has no control," he told Reuters,
referring to cases where people suffering from
bird flu had simply refused to be treated and left
the hospital.

He said Thailand’s method in getting villagers to
do animal surveillance was effective and the
practice can be adopted by other nations.
Thailand, however, has seen a reemergence of bird
flu, with two fatalities in recent weeks. Guan
expressed concern over nations where access to
information has yet to readily available.

"There are countries that are black boxes; Laos,
Myanmar, Cambodia. They are forgotten by the
world. These are dangerous places," he said.

Meanwhile, Keiji Fukuda of the WHO told Reuters in
Geneva on Thursday that there was no evidence so
far that the two groups of suspect cases in
Indonesia might point to human-to-human
transmission of the virus.

"It looks like these are exposures to infected
birds," said the coordinator of WHO’s global
influenza program, on the sidelines of a health
forum in the Swiss city.


Elephantiasis found in new areas

Jakarta Post - September 2, 2006

Multa Fidrus and Theresia Sufa, Tangerang/Bogor —
The lymphatic disease elephantiasis is on the rise
in Java, with Tangerang and Bogor both recording
recent outbreaks.

Tangerang, 40 kilometers west of Jakarta, has
declared six new districts to be prone to the
disease, bringing the number of districts in the
regency where endemic elephantiasis has been
discovered in the last seven months to 12. In
Bogor, six villagers in the Sukadumi subdistrict
have been diagnosed with the disease.

Elephantiasis, which is carried by mosquitoes, has
been found in Cisauk, Curug, Pakuhaji, Pasar
Kemis, Cikupa, Teluknaga, Pondok Aren, Sepatan,
Balaraja, Tigaraksa, Rajeg and Mauk, the Tangerang
Health Agency said.

The agency’s communicable disease prevention head
Yuliah Iskandar said 13 people in the six new
districts had the disease. "We confirmed our
findings by testing their blood because they had
shown symptoms of the disease," she said.

Yuliah said the 13 infected individuals were
considered to be chronic cases. Their legs have
already become hugely swollen and they are likely
to be permanently disfigured.

She added that the agency planned to hold a door-
to-door check in the regency in an effort detect
new cases early. "This measure will also serve as
a public education (program) on how to avoid
contracting this disease, because they can avoid
it by living in a healthy environment," she said.

The agency will also hold a treatment clinic for
elephantiasis patients from August to September
and has started to collect data on residents who
have contracted the disease.

"Even though we can kill the parasite, returning
their legs to their original size will be very
difficult because cosmetic surgery can only mend
30 percent of a leg (damaged by) elephantiasis,"
Yuliah said.

In Bogor, six Setu Pete villagers, in Sukadamai
subdistrict, Tanah Sereal, were also diagnosed
with elephantiasis. The two men and four women are
aged between 40 and 70 years old.

Sukadami village chief Uay Sutiawan said the
disease had first been identified in his village
in July, when one of the six visited a public
health clinic complaining of a high fever and
swollen legs. The clinic reported the case to the
Bogor Health Agency, which sent a team to conduct
blood tests on 500 people living near the
patient’s home.

As a result, the other five patients were
diagnosed with elephantiasis. The first patient,
identified only as Unas, said her legs had felt
unusually hot for some time and she noticed she
had been getting sick more easily. Unas said she
had kept working, however, despite her
deteriorating health.

"We needed to eat and I have seven mouths to feed
at home so I had been trying to ignore the pain,"
Unas said, adding she was eventually forced to
stop working after her legs became so disfigured
she had difficulty walking.

Both her legs are now bloated, with the swollen
veins protruding underneath her skin. Unas’
daughter took over her job but she too has
recently started to become ill. "She has already
thrown up blood. I’m afraid that she’s caught my
disease," said Unas.

Elephantiasis, or lymphatic filariasis, is a
disease caused by microscopic worms. The adult
worms live in the human lymph system, which
controls the body’s fluid balance and fights
infections.

The disease is carried by mosquitoes. Multiple
bites from infected mosquitoes over several years
are required to catch the disease. People living
in tropical or sub-tropical areas are at the
greatest risk of catching it. Elephantiasis is not
life-threatening, but can permanently damage the
kidneys or lymph system.


Major obstacles remain in bird flu fight: UNICEF

Agence France Presse - September 1, 2006

Jakarta — Indonesia faces major obstacles in its
fight against bird flu, the UN Children’s Fund
said as officials reiterated calls for more
international financial aid.

The government faces a “huge challenge” to teach
the rural population about the danger of the H5N1
virus and to be more health-conscious, due to the
country’s massive size and diverse ethnicities,
said Gianfranco Rotigliano, Indonesia’s UNICEF
country officer.

"This is the ultimate goal... this is the key for
attacking the issue for getting this country out
of that threat," Rotigliano said at the launch of
the government’s new public awareness campaign.

"There are so many diversities. When you talk to
different people, you have to use different
languages in terms of the messages you convey,"
said Rotigliano, adding that officials should be
more flexible in spreading the message.

Indonesia, the fourth most populous nation and
largest archipelago, has confirmed 60 cases of
bird flu with 46 deaths so far, the highest number
in the world.

While the H5N1 virus that causes bird flu does not
spread easily among people, the chance of a
mutation occurring which will allow it to do so is
heightened as more humans catch it from infected
birds.

Scientists fear that if this occurs, a global flu
pandemic with a massive death toll could result.

The government said last month that approximately
30 million homes keep chickens in their backyards
and in some instances, many refused to turn in
their birds despite offers of compensation.

Bayu Krisnamurthi, head of the national commission
on bird flu prevention tasked to run the campaign,
refused to reveal costs of the campaign but
reiterated Jakarta’s calls for more international
financial support.

"A campaign for 220 million people requires a very
huge fund. We are inviting all parties who are
concerned about the health and safety of many
people to be involved," Krisnamurthi said without
giving further details.

The government, which planned to cut its 2007 bird
flu budget to 46.5 million dollars, will need up
to 260 million dollars annually for the next three
years to finance its anti-bird flu programs, said
Krisnamurthi.

"It’s up to the World Bank to provide which
contribution they choose to give... this is a call
to all our key partners," he told reporters in
Jakarta.

 AID & DEVELOPMENT

Number of poor rises to over 39 million: BPS
Jakarta

Post - September 2, 2006

Urip Hudiono, Jakarta — Recent heated debates
about misleading poverty statistics may finally be
settled, with the Central Statistics Agency (BPS)
reporting that the country’s poor population
increased to 39.05 million as of March.

The announcement counters the government’s
profession to have successfully reduced the
country’s poverty rate, including in President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s state-of-the-nation
address on Aug. 16.

BPS chief Rusman Heriawan said Friday the poor
population — equivalent to earning less than
US$17 a month — increased by 3.95 million people
to 39.05 million — or 17.75 percent — of the 222
million population as of March. It was up from
35.1 million (15.97 percent) of the 220 million
population in February last year.

The number of rural poor increased by 2.06 million
people during the 13-month period, which included
last year’s months of March and October when the
government hiked fuel prices, while urban poor
rose 1.89 million. "By percentage, the poor are
still mostly found in villages, at 63.41 percent,
with the rest being in the cities," Rusman told a
media briefing.

Other poverty data revealed 30.29 percent of those
categorized in the “near poor” people, 11.82
percent of “almost not poor” people and 2.29
percent of “not poor” people in February 2005, had
by March plunged into destitution. Only 6.45
percent of poor people emerged better off to the
not poor category over the same period.

The latest poverty figures were derived from the
BPS’ routine survey of households, combining an
annual survey sampling 265,000 households
throughout the country, a survey held once every
three years on the consumption, education and
health expenses trend of 68,000 households and
another annual but more detailed consumption
survey of 10,000 households.

Households are classified as “poor”, “near poor”,
“almost not poor”, and “not poor” according to an
expenditure-based “basic poverty line” deduced
from the surveys. The “poverty line” was set at Rp
152,847 (US$16.8) per capita per month for March’s
data, and Rp 129,108 for February 2005.

The BPS acknowledged that the rise in the poor
population was due to last year’s fuel price hike,
as well as the recent rise in the prices of staple
foods, particularly rice.

This verifies estimates from analysts and
economists that the fuel price hike policy —
which had pushed up inflation and interest rates,
weakened the public’s purchasing power, and slowed
economic growth — must have increased as well the
country’s number of poor.

The government has been criticized for not doing
enough to prevent the adverse social and economic
impacts, and even suffered a new barrage of
criticism when Yudhoyono claimed a reduction of
the poor and jobless. Critics called the data
outdated, but the government argued it was using
the most recent figures released by the BPS.
Rusman said Friday’s latest poverty figures had
been derived accountably and from the same survey
methods since 1998.

The government may still claim success from its
“direct cash subsidy” program, which it carried
out to reduce the impact the fuel price hike, and
will continue as a “conditional” one related to
education and health services. "Without the
(direct cash subsidy) scheme, the number of poor
would have been 50.8 million people," Rusman said.


Government unveils plan to empower the poor

Jakarta Post - September 1, 2006

Urip Hudiono, Jakarta — "Helping those who help
themselves" could describe the government’s latest
approach to tackling the problems of poverty and
unemployment, with community development programs
at its core.

Under the National Community Empowerment Program,
the government will encourage rural and urban
communities to determine by themselves the type of
welfare development projects they need. It will
then support the projects through funding and
guidance on their implementation.

Some Rp 14 trillion (US$1.5 billion) is allocated
in the 2007 budget for the ambitious program,
which is expected to improve conditions for the
needy in 69,929 villages and subdistricts. The
funds are considered sufficient to provide about 5
million jobs a year.

Each village has to submit a project proposal for
approval for funds, ranging from Rp 250 million to
Rp 1 billion. Infrastructure, health and
education-related projects will be encouraged,
while those causing environmental degradation and
the socially sensitive construction of religious
prayer-houses will be denied.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono
said the community-based program was a synergy and
enhancement of two similar programs — the
“District Development Program” and "Urban Poverty
Alleviation Program" — which have been carried
out since the financial crisis struck in 1998.

"What we want to do now is bring the program to a
wider scale, reaching every community in the
country," he said in a media briefing Thursday.

As of 2006, the two programs have reached 39,282
villages and subdistricts in 2,600 districts, or
roughly half of the country’s total communities.

The government also will continue its rural health
insurance, tuition-free basic education and
“conditional direct cash subsidy” programs for the
poor through related ministries.

The programs are in line with President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono’s recent state-of-the-nation
address. However, the speech caused controversy,
with the government accused of whitewashing the
reality of poverty and unemployment by providing
outdated data. The poverty rate was said to be 16
percent, while unemployment reportedly affected
10.4 percent of the 220 million population.

The government targets lowering the poverty rate
to 8.2 percent and its unemployment to 5.1 percent
by 2009.

Boediono said the projects could become a
development role model, citing an independent
audit from Moores Rowland showing that the
programs were able to cut costs by half compared
to government-run ones. Graft levels also were
less than 1 percent.

"The projects will be carried out transparently,
accountably, and with full participation of the
community, particularly women. Funding will be
directly disbursed to the communities, with no
project middlemen," Boediono said, mentioning
success stories of a community irrigation system
in North Sumatra and bridges in Central Sulawesi.

 ISLAM/RELIGION

Interfaith peace ’requires action’

Jakarta Post - September 5, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — Ending religious violence
and promoting peace will take concrete measures,
according to the Indonesian Conference on Religion
and Peace (ICRP).

“We require action for this, not just dialog,”
ICRP chairman Djohan Effendi said here Monday. He
was speaking at a news conference promoting the
Kyoto Declaration, which was issued during the 8th
World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP) in
Kyoto, Japan.

Djohan, a prominent moderate Muslim scholar, was
involved in drafting the document.

The declaration says religions must play a greater
role in identifying and opposing violence in any
form, and that religious communities must prevent
the exploitation of religion to justify violence.

It also calls for religions to create local,
regional and global networks to invigorate
interfaith cooperation among religious
institutions.

It urges governments and international bodies to
support religious leaders in resolving conflict in
order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals:
eradicating poverty, hunger and disease, and
establishing sustainable development.

"Young people and women should be a part of
carrying out this call," said Djohan.

The WCRP was founded 36 years ago. From its office
at United Nations headquarters in New York, it
unites religious leaders around the globe to work
for world peace using faith-based approaches.

Some 600 leaders of 20 religions from 100
countries attended the five-day conference that
ended last Wednesday.

During the conference, the leader of Indonesia’s
Nahdlatul Ulama, Hasyim Muzadi, was elected one of
nine WCRP presidents, while Muhammadiyah chairman
Din Syamsuddin was elected honorary chairman.

Hasyim’s top position in the WCRP was previously
held by former Muhammadiyah chairman Ahmad Syafii
Maarif, who took over the post from former
president Abdurrahman Wahid.

"The election of Pak Hasyim as one of the
presidents means that international communities
are putting their trust and hope in Indonesia to
foster global peace," Djohan said. Hasyim did not
attend Monday’s news conference.

NU deputy leader Rozy Munir said poverty is a
crucial factor in religious conflicts. "Poverty
can make people distressed and therefore they are
prone to violence," he said.

The NU, he said, has long embraced pluralist
traditions and is always opposed to any form of
violence.

"We may disapprove of the teachings of Ahmadiyah
and Lia Eden. But we also disapprove of violent
acts against them," he said, referring to
religious minority groups that are often the
targets of attacks by Muslims.

Catholic priest Johannes Hariyanto of the ICRP
criticized the media for publicizing acts of
religious violence rather than peace. "The media
always urges us to promote peace but when we speak
about it they don’t give us space," he said.

He urged news outlets to reconsider before
publishing stories that might provoke the anger of
a religious community. "The media should be more
pluralist," he said.


NU preaches against radicalism

Jakarta Post - September 4, 2006

Leaders of the country’s largest Muslim
organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and other
moderate clerics gathered in Jakarta over the
weekend to draw up a common strategy to counter
growing Islamic radicalism.

The two-day forum at the Haj Dormitory in Pondok
Gede, East Jakarta, brought together 150 NU
preachers from the Greater Jakarta area; a group
that the NU leadership hopes will disseminate a
moderate message.

Besides fundamentalism, the clerics were also
encouraged to counter Western-style “liberal”
ideas seen as incompatible with Islamic values.

Head organizer Samsul Ma’arif said Indonesian
Muslims were currently being bombarded by
fundamentalist ideas from one side and
secular/liberal ideas from the other.

NU is gravely concerned about the rising number of
Muslims who are embracing fundamentalism or
extreme liberalism and secularism, Samsul said.
"There many Islamic organizations which strive to
do good deeds but in the wrong way because of a
wrong understanding of basic Islamic teachings,"
he said.

Groups like the Islam Defenders Front have used
religious arguments to justify violent attacks on
bars and night clubs and religious minorities. The
division in Islam between the liberals, the
moderates and the radicals has also caused much
dissension in religious circles.

In January, a preacher, Josnary Nosra, caused a
large commotion in his audience when he attacked
former president and NU leader Abdurrahman "Gus
Dur" Wahid in a sermon at the Jakarta City
Council. Josnary reportedly said Muslims should
not make Gus Dur their role model because many of
his views and acts were not Islamic. Gus Dur is
known as an advocate of religious tolerance and
pluralism.

Preachers at the weekend meeting were provided
with standard NU preaching guidelines.
"Radicalism, liberalism and secularism ideas
confuse the lay people, which account for majority
of Muslims in Indonesia," Samsul said as quoted by
Antara.

"We in NU take the middle way, and uphold tawasuth
(moderation), i’tidal (consistency), tasamuh
(tolerance) and tawazun (balance)," he said. He
said the gathering had featured communication
experts to train the preachers on how to get their
message out through the media.

"We have a lot of preachers, but none have the
skill to preach through the media. None of them
can appear on TV to voice the moderation that NU
very much treasures," he said.


Media asked to promote tolerance

Jakarta Post - September 3, 2006

Tony Hotland, Nusa Dua, Bali — President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono called on the international
media Saturday to play a mediating role in
conflicts rather than fanning animosity.

"You are society’s conscience, you are the agents
of change and we count on you to help the human
race by promoting freedom of speech, spreading
tolerance and advancing peace and understanding,"
he said in his opening remarks at the Global
Inter-media Dialog here.

The forum is co-sponsored by the governments of
Indonesia and Norway and has brought in around 70
media people from 44 countries. It was organized
in response to the controversy over European
editorial cartoons satirizing the Prophet
Muhammad.

The row over the cartoons prompted media people
from around the world to talk about the need for
the media to promote peace and tolerance in view
of religious and cultural sensitivities.

Yudhoyono said the media had to walk a thin line
between supporting free speech and taking part in
discrimination.

"Addressing cultural sensitivities does not mean
you are compromising free speech," he said, citing
the American media in the 1960s, which employed
self-censorship in the portrayal of race riots and
later race relations. This did not reduce press
freedom but did help ease the violence.

Yudhoyono said many Muslims felt they were not
being portrayed fairly by the international media
and had complained of double standards.

"When non-Muslims are killed in the line of fire,
they say, Western news coverage is more
significant than when Muslims are killed routinely
in Palestine, Iraq and now Lebanon," he said.

As the leader of the world’s most populous Muslim
nation, Yudhoyono said the Muslim community
worldwide was not asking for special treatment but
for the respect given to other religious groups.

He said the media should encourage people to move
beyond their image of Islam through learning about
one another and discussing any differences or
similarities.

"In times of hostility, it is always critical to
narrow the perception gap, avoid misunderstandings
and maintain communication through accurate
information. No one can do this better than the
media."

Speaking on the same occasion, Norwegian Foreign
Minister Jonas Gahr Store said it was important to
discuss the extent to which the media should take
into account sensitivities that are not protected
by the law yet deeply held.

"Freedom of expression can never be exercised in
isolation from its context. Awareness of other
people’s sensitivities and of their right to be
treated with respect should be part of all normal,
civilized behavior," he said.

Any inter-media dialog, said Store, should provide
media practitioners with a broader range of
background information, ideas and interpretations
to manage fundamental differences.

The international forum, titled "Freedom of
Expression and Diversity: The Media in a
Multicultural World", is expected to be held on a
regular basis. Store said his government would be
pleased to host the next one.


Changes needed to Islamic view on homosexuality

Jakarta Post - September 2, 2006

Farid Muttaqin, Athens, Ohio — It is important to
begin any discussion on homosexuality in Islam
with a look at how some hegemonic cultures and
traditions before Islam influenced Islamic
teachings. Greek Hellenism and ancient Arabic
society were two important groups that supported a
type of Islamic law on homosexuality.

Same-sex relationships have deep roots in the
history of humankind. The story of Lot’s people in
the Koran proves that homosexuality has been a
part of human life for a long time. Some famous
Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato
also experienced same-sex relationships. In
ancient societies, homosexuality was considered
common behavior. Why do we now view homosexuality
as social deviancy? Why is it believed among
Muslims that homosexuality is such a terrible sin?

The characteristics of Islamic teaching and its
interpretations are possibly colored by the
traditions of previous societies. In ancient Greek
society homosexuality was a usual sexual behavior.
Meanwhile, Islam strongly discourages its
believers from mimicking traditions of previous
societies. This was significant for early Islamic
believers to clearly distinguish themselves from
non-Muslims. The Islamic restriction against
homosexuality has a correlation to this teaching.

Additionally, the stigma against homosexuality
refers to the academic tradition of interpretation
within Islamic society, including the subject of
homosexuality. Also, the stigma of homosexuality
is related to the political interests of the early
formation of Islamic society.

One of the most influential traditions in Islam is
the patriarchal view of ancient Arabic society.
This society encouraged people to show the power
of masculinity. It was a common view within
ancient Arabic society that only a man could be a
leader. Having a daughter embarrassed parents.
Fathers would even kill their daughters in order
to save the family from disgrace. Having several
wives or concubines was a measure of male power.
Ancient Arabic society eradicated feminine values
in order to keep their masculine images.

The Prophet Muhammad introduced Islamic teachings
in this patriarchal Arabic society. Thus, it is
possible that the patriarchal views of Arabic
society interfered with the tradition of Islamic
interpretation, including on homosexuality.
Ancient Arabic society resisted homosexual
behavior because homosexuality was considered a
feminine value. These stereotyped effeminate males
were contrary to tribal interests in conflicts
which required masculine values such as bravery,
courage, strength, roughness and dominance.
Homosexuality could reduce these masculine values
and lead to losing tribal wars.

It was also common among the first group of
Islamic believers to face socio-political and
religious wars with non-Muslim societies. Jihad as
a spirit of religious defense was a well-known
Islamic dogma to win these wars. As with other
dogmas of war, jihad at that time was overwhelmed
by “masculine values”, and under the patriarchal
influences of Arabic society the first group of
Muslims restricted homosexuality as an irrelevant
value of jihad (Wafer, 1997:92). In addition to
this fact, the verses of the Koran on
homosexuality describe more male homosexual
experiences than female homosexual ones. The
patriarchal interests influencing Islamic
teachings did not count females as significant
members of the society.

In times of peace that required “feminine values”
such as beauty, love and compassion, rather than
“the spirit of masculine values”, it is not
difficult to find homosexual experiences in
Islamic societies. Some great Islamic scholars
experienced same-sex relationships. Abu Nawas, the
greatest Arab poet, was homosexual. It was common
among male Sufis to experience homosexuality in
correlation with the belief that sexual lust or
nafs (desire) toward women would lead them to
spiritual decadence (Schimmel, 1979:124). These
realities are crucial evidence that in some
contexts homosexuality has not been a major
problem within Islamic society.

Homosexual experiences have been alive among
recent Islamic societies, including Iran, Turkey,
Morocco, Syria and Pakistan (Schmitt and Sofer,
1992). Among Muslims in Indonesia, homosexual
experiences are common in pesantren, or Islamic
boarding schools. However, patriarchal views still
dominate Islamic teaching and its interpretations,
including on homosexuality. Thus, Islamic
societies tend to maintain the construction of a
pseudo socio-religious belief that homosexuality
is a major sin.

Progressive Islamic groups have to be aware that
stereotypes against homosexuals in the name of
Islamic teachings encourage discrimination and
even violence. An example of this discrimination
can be found in the fact that some Muslim
countries criminalize homosexuality.

Based on the fact that various stereotypes and
discrimination against homosexuals have a
correlation with the misinterpretation of Islamic
teachings on homosexuality, it is important to
create an agenda toward the recognition of
homosexual rights by representing a new
interpretation of these teachings. In this regard,
therefore, the agenda to recognize homosexual
rights has a strong relevance to other progressive
Islamic agendas, including stopping violence
against women.

[The writer graduated from State Islamic
University, Jakarta, in Islamic Philosophy and
Theology and is a student at Ohio University
Athens, the US His research focus is liberal
aspects of Islamic feminism. He can be reached at
faridmoe yahoo.com.]

 ARMED FORCES/DEFENSE

Government says TNI trials need time

Jakarta Post - September 7, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — Although the
government has agreed that military personnel
should be tried for misdemeanors in civilian
court, it is not likely to happen anytime soon.

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said Wednesday
that due to the complexity of the issue, the
government would not be ready to have soldiers
stand trial in a civilian court in the next two or
three years, as demanded by legislators.

"We do respect the People’s Consultative Assembly
(MPR) decree and the military law (mandating that
soldiers also should be tried in civilian court),
but the reality is that the legal infrastructure
is not ready for its implementation," Juwono said
after a meeting with the House special committee
on the amendment of the military tribunal law.

Juwono said the government was studying whether a
transitional law would be needed to facilitate the
handover of a military tribunal to a civilian
court. "Another option is whether we will be given
a period of two or three years before the amended
law come into effect."

He said the transition period was necessary
because civilian courts were unprepared to try
military personnel. "The Criminal Code procedure
for the military, for instance, has no provisions
that would make it possible for prosecution in the
civilian court."

Juwono pledged that the government would not
continue past practices, with soldiers eluding
harsh punishment through sentencing in closed
military courts. It bolstered the image of the
military as an omnipotent institution beyond the
law.

In the past year, the House and the government
have discussed the amendment of a 1997 law on
military tribunals. The amendment is in line with
the 2000 MPR decree which separated the police and
the military. Under its terms, soldiers should
face trial in a military tribunal for violations
of military regulations, and the civilian court
for offenses under the Criminal Code.

Several legislators accused the government of
procrastinating on the issue. "Amendment of this
law has been proposed by legislators from the
previous term, but there still is no significant
progress. The government seems to be buying time
with its approach," special committee chairman
Andreas Parrera of the Indonesian Democratic Party
of Struggle told reporters.

But Juwono said that the government would be ready
to present its views on the transition issue in
the next two weeks. A new meeting is slated for
Sept. 20.

Parrera said the amendment must be completed
before the lawmakers’ terms expired in 2009. "The
discussion of the bill will go back to square one
if it’s given to future lawmakers."


Jakarta’s intelligence service hires Washington
lobbyists

ICIJ - September 7, 2006

Andreas Harsono in Jakarta and Nathaniel Heller
and Susannah Hamblin in Washington —
The
Indonesian national intelligence agency used a
former Indonesian president’s charitable
foundation to hire a Washington lobbying firm in
2005 to press the US Congress for a full
resumption of controversial military training
programs to the country, the Center for Public
Integrity’s International Consortium of
Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has learned.

The connection between the intelligence agency,
Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN), and the charity
group, the Gus Dur Foundation, is documented in
papers filed by the lobbying firm, Richard L.
Collins & Co., in compliance with the Foreign
Agents Registration Act (FARA).

BIN has a long history of involvement in human
rights abuses and was recently linked to the
assassination of a prominent Indonesian human
rights activist. The Gus Dur Foundation was
established by former Indonesian President
Abdurrahman Wahid, who goes by the nickname of Gus
Dur and is known for his moderate politics and
support for human rights. Gus Dur and another
foundation official denied knowing about the
contract between their Jakarta-based charity group
and the lobbying firm.

In late 2005 Congress and the State Department
fully reinstated military cooperation and aid to
Indonesia.

The documents were uncovered as part of a year-
long ICIJ investigation into changes in America’s
post-Sept. 11 foreign military aid and assistance
programs and the impact of those changes on human
rights. The investigation is focusing on 10 key
countries, including Indonesia, and is scheduled
for release in early 2007.

In May 2005, the Gus Dur Foundation retained
Collins & Co. for $30,000 a month to lobby
Congress and the Bush administration to "remove
legislative and policy restrictions on security
cooperation with Indonesia," according to a copy
of a signed contract.

In Collins & Co.’s statements that accompany the
contract, the firm notes that, "For the purposes
of this contract, the Gus Dur Foundation’s
activities are directed and funded by the [BIN].
The nature of the activities carried out under
this contract were defined in consultation with
representatives from the [BIN] and the [BIN]
provides the funding for this contract for the Gus
Dur Foundation."

On July 31, 2005, the contract between Collins &
Co. and the Gus Dur Foundation was terminated and,
effective Sept. 1, a new contract for the same
monthly amount was executed directly between
Collins & Co. and BIN, the FARA documents show.
Records indicate that the second contract ended in
November 2005.

Collins & Co. lobbyists did not return repeated
calls requesting comment.

Overcoming ’obstacles’

The original contract defines Collins & Co.’s
mission in the context of Indonesia’s "obstacles
to a more cooperative relationship with the United
States, particularly in the area of military
cooperation ... the image of Indonesia, especially
in the United States Congress, remains highly
negative and colored by events in East Timor and
other disturbed areas like Papua and Aceh." Those
obstacles were indeed substantial.

In response to Indonesian troops opening fire and
killing more than 100 demonstrators in East Timor
on Nov. 12, 1991, Congress banned Indonesia from
receiving funding and training under the
International Military Education and Training
(IMET) program, which is overseen by the State
Department and implemented by the Defense
Department to provide military education training
to foreign military and civilian officials.

Even under the IMET ban, US Special Operations
forces continued to carry out training with their
Indonesian counterparts through the Department of
Defense’s Joint Combined Exchanged Training
Program. But after a violent crackdown on anti-
government demonstrators in May 1998, the joint
training program was severed. President Bill
Clinton finally banned the exports of all defense
materials and services to Indonesia after
Indonesian troops and related militia groups
launched attacks in East Timor following the
United Nations-administered independence
referendum in 1999.

In the US Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill
for fiscal 2000, Congress stipulated that neither
IMET nor the Foreign Military Financing (FMF)
program — which provides US taxpayer financing
for foreign militaries’ purchases of US military
goods, services and training — would be permitted
for Indonesia unless there was a legitimate reform
of the Indonesian army as well as prosecution of
the major human rights offenders.

The FARA filings also reflect the fact that part
of Collins & Co.’s charge was to assuage
congressional concerns over the assassination of
Indonesian human rights campaigner Munir Thalib,
whose killing has been linked in Indonesian court
proceedings to BIN.

According to Central Jakarta district court
documents, Munir was poisoned with arsenic that
was sprayed on his fried noodles during a Garuda
Indonesia flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on
Sept. 7, 2004. The court sentenced a Garuda pilot,
Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, to 14 years
imprisonment for poisoning Munir and for carrying
forged travel documents.

The court documents describe a sophisticated
killing that suggested the involvement of a
larger, well-organized group of perpetrators. It
also noted that Pollycarpus had no personal motive
to kill Munir. The court recommended that the
Indonesian police investigate Garuda Indonesia’s
security officials.

The court proceedings also brought to light 41
telephone conversations that took place between
Pollycarpus and a mobile phone number, 0811-
900978, before and after Munir’s assassination.
The mobile phone’s owner was Maj. Gen. Muchdi
Purwopranjono, a deputy director at BIN. Muchdi
was formerly the commander of the Indonesian
army’s Special Forces Koppasus unit, which was
involved in kidnapping student activists during
the Suharto era. He was removed from his position
just days after Suharto’s resignation in 1998 and
retired from the military the next year. An
investigative commission found that a Koppasus
unit was involved in assassinating Papua leader
Theys Eluai in November 2001.

In his court testimony, Purwopranjono confirmed
that 0811-900978 was his mobile phone number, but
he said it was frequently used by his driver and
aides. He denied having ever met Pollycarpus. He
also denied ordering Munir’s assassination.

In Washington, Collins & Co. did its best to
convince Congress that the Indonesian military and
security apparatus had overcome its checkered
history and was ready once again for normal
treatment under the IMET and FMF programs. BIN’s
choice of Collins & Co. was no coincidence:
Collins & Co.’s vice president for international
business, Eric Newsom, was a former assistant
secretary of state for political-military affairs
in charge of running the IMET and FMF programs.

He was also a former top aide to Democratic Sen.
Patrick Leahy (Vt.), a key figure in the Senate on
human rights issues and US-Indonesia policy.

The FARA records show that between June and
October of 2005, Collins & Co. lobbyists,
sometimes accompanied by BIN officials, met with
several key members of Congress and their staffs.
Among them were Leahy and Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-
Neb., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, as well Rep.
Jesse Jackson Jr. and an aide to Sen. Barack
Obama, both Democrats of Illinois. Newsom
accompanied BIN deputy head As’ad Said Ali and BIN
deputy director Burhan Mohammed to a meeting with
Leahy and a key aide just off the Senate floor on
July 21, 2005.

According to Tim Reiser, Leahy’s top aide on the
Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee for
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
(whose annual funding bill finances the IMET and
FMF programs), Leahy agreed to take the 15-minute
meeting to express his opposition to the
resumption of full military assistance to
Indonesia. Leahy told As’ad that he didn’t think
sufficient reform had yet taken place within the
Indonesian military.

The Collins & Co. lobbying was certainly not the
only reason that military cooperation was
eventually reinstated; in fact, some of the key
policy changes took place before Collins & Co.
signed the initial contract with the Gus Dur
Foundation. The push for reinstating IMET and FMF
for Indonesia began shortly after the Bush
administration took office in 2001. The
administration and Republican allies in Congress
say the previous policy of punishing Indonesia for
human rights violations had not paid dividends and
the much-hoped-for reform of the Indonesian
military and security apparatus had not taken
place.

In a post-Sept. 11 environment when Indonesia
suddenly took on greater strategic importance for
the US, both the State and Defense departments
sought to reinstate IMET and FMF as a
demonstration of Washington’s gratitude for
Indonesian assistance in the global war on
terrorism. In February 2005, Secretary of State
Condoleeza Rice determined that the Indonesian
military had reformed itself sufficiently to merit
the resumption of IMET; later in November, the
restrictions on FMF and defense exports were
lifted.

In an interview with the Inter Press Service news
agency, Leahy called the IMET decision "premature
and unfortunate," saying that the resumption of a
military training program for Jakarta "will be
seen by the Indonesian military authorities who
have tried to obstruct justice as a friendly pat
on the back."

Leahy recently inserted a provision in the Senate
version of the fiscal 2007 Foreign Operations
Appropriations Bill (not yet passed by Congress)
requiring the State Secretary to submit a report
to the Committees on Appropriations detailing "the
status of the investigation of the murder of Munir
Said Thalib, including efforts by the Government
of Indonesia to arrest any individuals who ordered
or carried out that crime and any other actions
taken by the Government of Indonesia (including
the Indonesian judiciary, police and the State
Intelligence Agency [BIN]), to bring the
individuals responsible to justice."

The Gus Dur connection

Gus Dur is an internationally known Muslim cleric.
He formerly headed the Nahdatul Ulama, Indonesia’s
largest Muslim organization and is widely
recognized as an advocate of moderate Islam. He
helped lead the opposition against Suharto in the
1990s, and in 1999, he became the first elected
Indonesian president of the post-Suharto
dictatorship.

Gus Dur was forced out of office by the Indonesian
parliament in July 2000 over his erratic governing
style and ceded power to Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Megawati was succeeded by the current president,
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was elected in 2004.

When contacted in Jakarta, Gus Dur, who is legally
blind, denied any involvement in the contract. "I
don’t understand. I don’t know,“he said.”Could
you please give me a copy of those documents, just
for my own use, so that I could check these people
who used my name?" But he added that he has close
relations with Syamsir Siregar, the head of BIN,
and As’ad Said Ali, BIN’s second-in-command.

The Gus Dur Foundation’s secretary, Ihksan
Abdullah, also denied any knowledge of the
foundation’s involvement with BIN. "Frankly
speaking, I don’t know. How could we have this
much money? How could we pay $30,000 per month?"
According to Abdullah, the foundation was
established in January 2005, two weeks after the
Asian tsunami hit the Indonesia island of Aceh. He
described the foundation’s objectives as
establishing orphanages, public libraries and
schools and holding scientific seminars. The
foundation "has nothing to do with the military or
international lobbying. We never had a meeting in
which we talked about BIN,“Abdullah told ICIJ.”Companies worldwide conduct due diligence when
signing contracts, especially with foreign firms,“said Abdullah, a lawyer with his own firm.”I think this [contract] was signed without Gus
Dur’s knowledge." The foundation’s governing
documents show that Gus Dur is its founder. He
appointed Abdullah and three other men to sit on
its board: Aris Junaidi, the treasurer, and
members Salim Muhamad and Sulaiman.

"They’re all close associates to Gus Dur. They’re
mostly political adventurers," said Ahmad Suaedy,
executive director of the Wahid Institute, whose
office is located at Jl. Taman Amir Hamzah 8 in
Jakarta — the same address noted in the Collins &
Co. contract as that of the Gus Dur Foundation.

The Wahid Institute is a newly formed research
institution whose stated purpose is to promote a
“moderate and tolerant view of Islam.” Gus Dur,
for whom the new organization is named, is the
patron of the new institute as well. Suaedy added
that the Gus Dur Foundation moved out of the
compound in January 2006 following a request from
Gus Dur’s daughter, Yenny, the director of the
Wahid Institute, who dislikes "those political
adventurers."

Muhyiddin Arubusman, a close associate of Gus Dur,
signed the original Collins & Co. contract on
behalf of the Gus Dur Foundation. Arubusman is a
member of the Indonesian parliament from the
National Awakening Party, whose patron is also Gus
Dur. Ikhsan Abdullah, the Gus Dur Foundation
secretary, told ICIJ that Arubusman legally had no
official position at the foundation, although
Arubusman — as well as BIN deputy head As’ad Said
Ali — frequently attended foundation meetings
between January and May 2005 to talk about
fundraising. As’ad is a member of the Nahdatul
Ulama.

Arubusman comes from Ende, a small town on Flores
Island, which is a predominantly Catholic area.
The Ende airport is named for his father’s uncle
Hasan Aroeboesman. Earlier this year, Muhyiddin
Arubusman edited and published a book on
terrorism, "Terorisme di Tengah Arus Global
Demokrasi“(”Terrorism in the Global Democratic
Current"), in which both BIN’s As’ad Said Ali and
Gus Dur wrote chapters.

In telling ICIJ that he had signed the contract
with Collins & Co., Arubusman said, "Our concern
was then Aceh and Papua’s separatism. BIN asked
assistance from the Gus Dur Foundation to
influence the US Congress. The Collins & Co. came
to Jakarta. BIN organized everything. I just
signed the contract. I share similar concerns over
Aceh and Papua separating from Indonesia."

The Free Acheh Movement declared independence in
December 1976, arguing that the Acehnese were
being colonized by Indonesia. The movement claims
that “Indonesia” is a name foisted on minority
ethnic groups by the Javanese, the main ethnic
group in Indonesia, indigenous to its most
populous island.

The Free Papua Movement began in 1965 when the
Dutch, who formerly ruled the Indonesian islands
as colonies, were still supporting Papua’s push to
be an independent state. Indonesia invaded Papua
and manipulated a UN independence referendum there
in 1969. Proponents of a unified Indonesia argued
that the country should comprise all of the former
Dutch colonies, including Papua. Both islands have
a troubled history of violence with the Indonesian
central government.

Arubusman gave a mixed answer when asked whether
he was authorized to sign the contract on behalf
of the Gus Dur Foundation or whether Gus Dur
himself knew about the contract. "I can’t discuss
more. I have to bear in mind Gus Dur’s good name.
He didn’t know," Arubusman said.

Legislator Muhammad A.S. Hikam, whose office is
next to Arubusman’s, was dubious that Arubusman
has the savvy to understand Washington’s political
corridors or to hire a firm such as Collins & Co.
“He even doesn’t speak English very well,” Hikam
said.

When Arubusman signed that first contract with
Collins & Co. in May 2005, President Yudhoyono’s
fact-finding team on the Munir killing was about
to recommend that the police investigate BIN’s
involvement in the assassination.

Yudhoyono also ordered Lt. Gen. Syamsir Siregar,
who had taken over the job of heading BIN from Lt.
Gen. A.M. Hendroprijono, to open up his
institution to public scrutiny. But BIN dragged
its feet and continues to refuse to cooperate with
the police investigation, citing its need to
protect state secrets. BIN did not respond when
contacted several times to comment on this story.

A group of 68 members of the US Congress sent a
letter to President Yudhoyono on Oct. 27, 2005,
urging his government to implement the
investigative team’s suggestions on the Munir
killing. "We understand the [reports] suggests
that the government should create a new commission
with a strong mandate to explore the evidence
wherever it may lead, including enforcement of
full cooperation of all state agencies, including
[BIN]."

The bipartisan letter, co-sponsored by Reps. Mark
Kirk, R-Ill., and Jim McDermott, D-Wash., closes
by noting: "Munir devoted his life to finding the
truth, and in the end he gave his life for that
cause. Now his own death is the subject of an
unprecedented fact-finding report. We strongly
urge your government to fulfill Indonesia’s
promise as an open and democratic society by
publicly releasing the report and acting on its
recommendations."

Gus Dur himself called on the Indonesian
government to hold BIN accountable. He held a
press conference with Suciwati, Munir’s widow, one
day after Pollycarpus’ verdict was read, declaring
that Munir was a hero and that Muchdi should be
questioned. The former president told the media
that he was committed to finding Munir’s murderer;
he privately told Suciwati that As’ad was “clear.”

Ikhsan Abdullah, the Gus Dur Foundation’s
secretary, wondered aloud how Munir’s friends and
widow would respond if they knew that the Gus Dur
Foundation was involved in lobbying the US
Congress to resume full military cooperation with
Indonesia.

"Gus Dur is known as a human rights campaigner. He
has big influence and a global reputation. What
will the people of Papua think of Gus Dur if these
documents are published?"


TNI won’t name arms suspects

Jakarta Post - September 2, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — Military Police chief
Maj. Gen. Hendardji Soepandji said Friday he would
not give lawmakers the names of people probed in
connection with an illegal arms stash.

"We will not reveal their names. I will protect
the witnesses," he told reporters after a ceremony
honoring the transfer of the position of Army
Special Forces commander from Maj. Gen. Syaiful
Rizal to Maj. Gen. Rashid Qurnuen Aquary, in
Cijantung, East Jakarta.

The House of Representatives’ Commission I on
defense and foreign affairs is scheduled to meet
with Hendardji, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono
and Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Air Chief
Marshall Djoko Suyanto on Sept. 8.

Hendardji said he would provide all the
information gathered in the investigation,
however, and try to answer all the questions posed
by legislators.

A number of legislators have called for an
official report from the military about the probe
into the case of the arms stash found at the house
of the late Brig. Gen. Koesmayadi. They have
threatened to launch a House inquiry into the
scandal, should the report fail to reflect a
thorough and transparent investigation.

The military announced its findings on Aug. 9,
saying 11 people, including Koesmayadi and his
son-in-law, were possible suspects.

Army chief Gen. Djoko Santoso similarly refused to
divulge the names of the remaining nine possible
suspects. The total of eleven possible suspects
consists of eight servicemen and three civilians.
They were among 129 people questioned about the
stash.

TNI commander Air Chief Marshall Djoko Suyanto
reported the results of the investigation to
Commission I in an informal meeting in Cilangkap
on Aug. 14. Some legislators criticized the
informal meeting, saying it did not involve all
commission members.

Commission members I Dedy Djamaludin Malik and Ade
Daud Nasution said the military must clearly
inform the public about those involved in the case
and the motives behind the illegal stash. Dedy and
Ade accused the military’s investigation of being
merely superficial, saying it was biased toward
blaming only Koemayadi and his subordinates.

The investigation found the arms illegally
stockpiled by Koesmayadi were for his personal
collection and did not have any political
significance. The deceased Army officer had an
obsession with establishing an arms museum,
investigators said.

The added that 43 of the 185 arms stashed at
Koesmayadi’s home were found and purchased at his
own initiative and that the procurements did not
follow standard procedures.

 ECONOMY & INVESTMENT

World Bank: Indonesia losing appeal as invest
destination

Dow Jones News - September 6, 2006

Jakarta — Indonesia’s attractiveness as an
investment destination is slipping compared with
its more competitive regional rivals, according to
a report released Wednesday by the World Bank’s
investment arm, International Finance Corp.

The report, titled Doing Business 2007, ranked
Indonesia 135 out of 175 economies surveyed for
their business environments. That marks a decline
from 131 in 2006.

The survey, conducted from January 2005 to January
2006, rates Indonesia one of Asia’s least
business-friendly economies, ahead of only
Cambodia, Laos and East Timor.

"(The lower ranking) isn’t because of any negative
reforms, in fact we’ve documented improvements,"
Caralee McLiesh, program manager and cofounder of
the Doing Business Project, told reporters in a
video conference. "The lesson is that (the rest
of) the world is doing better... and it’s not
enough to just reform a bit."

The report noted that Indonesia had made
significant progress in reducing the number of
days required to start a new business to 97 from a
previous 151. But while that is an improvement,
"compare that with 33 days in Thailand and two
days in Australia,“McLiesh said.”Areas that need improvement are contract
enforcement, trading across borders and
registering property, which all remain at the same
level and continue to lag compared to its regional
competitors," said Chris Richards, IFC general
manager for technical assistance work in
Indonesia.

The report’s findings are bad news for the
government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
which won a landslide election victory in October
2004 on a platform of improving the investment
environment to boost economic growth.

The government has set a target of 6.6% annual
economic growth from 2005 to 2009 in order to
halve poverty and unemployment rates. But the
economy expanded only 4.97% on year in the first
half of 2006, suggesting that the official
forecast of 6.2% for 2006 will be hard to meet.

Also Wednesday, the Asian Development Bank warned
that its projection of 6.0% gross domestic product
growth for Indonesia in 2007 hinges on the
government’s ability to attract investors to its
infrastructure upgrade program.


IMF urges government action on economy

Jakarta Post - September 1, 2006

Andi Haswidi, Jakarta — The estimated drop in
global economic growth within the next two years
could pose serious setbacks to developing
countries like Indonesia if governments failed to
act properly, the International Monetary Fund
warned Thursday.

Speaking at a seminar held by Standard Chartered
Bank in Jakarta, IMF’s senior resident
representative Stephen Schwartz said the global
economy was likely to slow down in the coming
years, with an estimated decline in the GDP growth
of the world’s major players — China, the United
States and Japan.

It was vital for developing countries to pursue
sound and stable policies to ensure the
unfavorable global situation would not seriously
impact their economies, he said.

Schwartz noted Indonesia was trying to make its
investment climate more inviting by reforming its
tax, investment and labor laws. However, important
legislation in these areas was still being
created, and investors were not sure whether it
would be implemented next year as promised, he
said.

One example was the employment bill’s deliberation
in the House of Representatives, which had stalled
after vigorous protests from workers, he said.
"Economic growth and investment in Indonesia has
been lower than its potential. Indonesia has to
improve its investment climate," Schwartz said.

Standard Chartered Bank chief regional economist
Nicholas Kwan said Indonesia and other Asian
countries had to improve its rate of investment if
it was to survive the fiercer competition that
would come from the decline in the global demand
within the next two years.

"One key point in the region as a whole is that we
invested too little, especially after the crisis.
We would like to see the region invest more,"
Nicholas said.

The bank forecasts that in the next two years, US
economic growth is projected to fall from 3.3
percent in 2006 to 2.8 percent in 2007 and down to
2.5 percent in 2008, while Japan’s and China’s
growth rates will also decrease slowly.

For Indonesia, the SCB forecasts the economy will
grow at an average of 6 percent in 2007 — 0.3
percent lower than the government’s estimate —
and increase at the same rate in 2008.

"Clearly the government has been doing a good job
on the macro economic management side... but the
real challenge we believe is to improve the
investment climate," Schwartz said.

Schwartz said the government was aware of the need
to improve legal certainty and tax administration
through better enforcement. "We know what the
problems are, and they have been there for a long
time. What we need to question is the
implementation," he said.

SCB senior vice president Fauzi Ichsan criticized
the government’s inability to meet its targets. He
said the government had failed to efficiently use
its 2006 budget, worth US$150 billion, with almost
80 percent of it still unspent.

"The government is currently sitting on huge
amount of cash that should have been used for
building infrastructure that could have supported
the investment climate in Indonesia in terms of
the distribution of goods and other supporting
services," Ichsan said.

Trade Minister Mari Pangestu, who arrived at the
end of the seminar, said she was aware of the
issues discussed by the analysts.

"We were late in a comeback from the crisis.
Perhaps we were one of the laggards, but I think
it was sort of a worthwhile wait because the
reason we were late was because we were the only
country in the region that went through a total
transformation, economically, politically and so
on," she said.

About the economic reform packages, Mari said that
talks between the government and legislators about
the tax and investment bills would soon be
finalized and hopefully they would be approved by
the end of the year.

Mari said the government was working to improving
the macroeconomy by reforming institutions like
the customs and tax offices. "Between the finance
and the trade ministries, we are going to create a
single national (office) for processing exports
and imports," she said.

Other short-term measures to boost growth would be
the establishment of special economic areas, she
said.

 OPINION & ANALYSIS

Indonesia winning plaudits in post-9/11 terrorism
battle

Agence France Presse - September 7, 2006

Samantha Brown, Jakarta — The Bali bombings
brought the horror of September 11 to Asia, but
Indonesia took a different approach to the United
States in tackling the Al-Qaeda threat which has
met with considerable success.

The 2002 blasts on Indonesia’s palm-fringed island
of Bali claimed the lives of 202 people, mostly
western holidaymakers, in the bloodiest attack to
follow the September 11, 2001 atrocities in the
United States.

It opened a Southeast Asian front in the so-called
“war on terror” by the United States and its
allies, and put the spotlight on the world’s most
populous Muslim nation, where politicians had
denied a terror threat existed.

Indonesia surprised many observers by swiftly
tracking down the main militants and putting them
on trial.

In contrast, the United States has secured only
one conviction over the September 11 bombings and
has instead chosen to hold hundreds of terrorism
suspects indefinitely without trial in
Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and other unknown
locations.

In total, Indonesia has arrested and tried more
than 30 militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah
Islamiyah regional network. Three key bombers are
on death row awaiting execution.

It was largely pressure from a sceptical public
that forced Indonesia — then just emerging as a
democracy in the wake of former dictator Suharto’s
long rule — to use its justice system to pursue
those responsible, analysts said.

"There was an awful lot of pressure from
politicians. I don’t think they could have taken a
harder line upfront," Jakarta-based security
analyst Ken Conboy said.

The police had to convince a public — inclined to
believe the attacks were the plot of anti-Islamic
foreign governments, or that Indonesians were
incapable of launching such a well-planned
operation on their own — that the threat was
real.

To do so, they allowed Amrozi, one of the key
bombers, to speak to the media while in custody.
His laughter and carefree demeanour outraged many
relatives of the victims.

"They had a purpose: to show they hadn’t coerced a
confession out of him. He willingly spoke and that
changed a lot of minds in the country," Conboy
told AFP. "The way police handled the original
arrests helped people realise that there was a
terrorist network. They overcame their collective
denial."

Working with counterparts from around the world,
the government campaign erased the top layers of
the organisation, leaving only lower level, ad hoc
cells operational, Conboy said.

"You could basically count on one hand the real
dangerous aggressor JI figures," he said, adding
that these would include Malaysian fugitive
Noordin Mohammad Top and Zulkaernan, both among
Asia’s most wanted men.

Indonesian police also took a unique approach in
dealing with terrorists after their arrests, said
Sarlito Wirawan, a senior psychologist from the
Universitas Indonesia who has worked with police
on cases.

"After they are in detention, they are treated
very humanely. Police chat with them, pray with
them... They are not pressured under a barrage of
questioning,“he said.”This approach has helped
several of the suspects, if not change their views
radically, at least make them more cooperative."

And due to tight family and friendship ties, just
a few helpful suspects have been significant, he
said. "This has made it easy for the police. Once
a suspect is caught it is relatively easy to
follow the thread and catch the others," he added.

The Southeast Asia director for the International
Crisis Group Sidney Jones outlined the distinct
approach Indonesia employed to deal with the
overall terror threat compared to the United
States.

"I think the difference is that the Indonesians
have been scrupulous about abiding by the rule of
law,“she said.”That is, not engaging in wider spread arbitrary
arrests, not holding people for long periods
without charge, abiding by existing criminal
procedural standards, bringing people to trial in
trials fully open to the public and letting them
go when they have served their sentences."

Indonesia largely did so unexpectedly, she said,
after it was accused of not taking terrorism
seriously.

"I think the way that Indonesia has handled
terrorism after the first Bali bombing has pretty
much silenced that criticism," she said, noting
that the country was also only a young democracy.

"I don’t think anybody would have expected a
country that had as bad a human rights record
under Suharto and a problematic legal system would
have done as well with handling terrorism cases."
But despite the successes, the threat of small-
scale attacks persists in Indonesia, analysts
warn.

"I think there probably will be another terrorist
bombing, probably in the next couple of months,
simply because some of these guys like Noordin
Top, that’s all they do,“Conboy predicted.”Unless you catch them, that’s what they’re
working towards. He’s not going to hang up his
explosives vest and say he quits."


Forgotten Munir

jakarta Post Editorial - September 7, 2006

For Suciwati, Soultan Alif Allende and Diva Suukyi
Larasati, the widow and children of the late Munir
Said Thalib, today (Thursday) is a time of sorrow
and remembrance. As it should be for all
Indonesians, who owe Munir so much for his
tireless struggle in the name of human rights.

On Sept. 7, 2004, people who could no longer
tolerate Munir’s courageous efforts to secure
justice for the victims of rights abuses poisoned
him aboard a Garuda flight from Jakarta to
Amsterdam, where he was traveling to continue his
studies at Utrecht University.

An autopsy performed at the Dutch Forensic
Institute found that Munir died from arsenic
poisoning.

There has been a lot of speculation that Munir was
murdered by people in positions of power, or
formerly in power, angry at his work to find those
responsible for the abductions, killings and
torture of Indonesian citizens.

These people who think they are above the law
(sadly it seems they are, having remained
untouched by the authorities) assassinated Munir
just 13 days before voters directly elected their
new president.

About two months later, President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, in an emotional meeting with Suciwati,
promised her it was only a matter of time before
those responsible for her husband’s death were
brought to justice. He was firm in his promise and
an investigative team was set up.

The result? The goddess of justice apparently was
only able to ensnare Garuda pilot Pollycarpus
Budihari Priyanto. In December last year, the
Central Jakarta District Court sentenced him to 14
years in jail for his role in the murder. Very few
people believe that Pollycarpus acted alone. This
was also the conclusion of a government-sanctioned
fact-finding in its report.

For the President, the Munir case apparently is
just one of thousands of problems and state duties
with which he must cope. Which may explain the
seeming lack of urgency of bringing to justice
those involved in the murder. There has also been
speculation that Yudhoyono’s government could be
destabilized by those who insisted Munir had to
die, and that he has been pressured to drop the
matter.

However, on the second anniversary of Munir’s
death it is important to remember that his killing
hurt not only his family and friends, but the
entire nation. This was a premeditated murder
perpetrated by criminals who want to keep the
nation ignorant of their past brutalities. It is
our hope the President will keep his promise and
do everything necessary to find those responsible
for Munir’s death.

Today we remember Munir and call on our leaders to
look into their consciences and uphold justice.
How long must we wait?


Munir inspires us to continue his struggle

Jakarta Post - September 7, 2006

Aleksius Jemadu, Bandung — How many innocent
people have been killed during Indonesia’s
delicate transition to democracy? There have been
many. Some people suggest Indonesia has been hit
by various kinds of natural disasters because some
of its leaders still have the blood of the
innocent people on their hands.

The unsolved murder of Indonesia’s well-known
human rights activist, Munir, on Sept. 7, 2004
stands out as an extraordinary case for a number
of reasons.

First, Munir was assassinated because of his
ceaseless struggle in defending the basic rights
of his fellow countrymen from the time of the
Soeharto era. Munir’s assassination was driven by
a deep-rooted revenge in the hearts of those who
committed gross human rights violations but were
afraid of being brought to justice.

Second, the fact that the trial over Munir’s death
has failed to identify and punish the real
mastermind behind the tragedy is an indication of
the fragility of the prospect of human rights
protection in this country. Indonesian democracy
seems to be characterized by contradictions.

On the one hand, the rhetoric of human rights is
always on the lips of its leaders but on the other
hand they remain indifferent about so many
unresolved human rights violations inherited by
the previous regime.

Third, the Indonesia judicial system has lost its
independence and credibility due to the fact that
it is still subject to manipulation and tacit
conspiracy by the ruling elite who are still under
pressure to protect the violators of human rights
no matter how substantive the evidence is of their
crimes against humanity.

Unfortunately, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
does not have the courage to take an initiative to
resolve human rights cases once and for all for
the sake of the rule of law in this country.
Sometimes it is too easy for the executive to
argue that the president cannot interfere in the
affairs of the judiciary bodies. However,
Indonesia really needs a commitment at the top of
the government that all kinds of human rights
violations will be brought to justice.

Lack of commitment at the top is not the only
problem Indonesia has to face regarding the
promotion of human rights. During the Munir murder
trial people’s attention was focused on the role
of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN). Human
rights groups believe that Munir’s death was the
result of a very sophisticated conspiracy led by
some intelligence officials who were professional
in conducting various kinds of aggressive
intelligence while at the same time capable of
orchestrating some sort of disclaimer or alibi.

We should note that one of the institutions in the
security sector that has not been touched by
reform is the intelligence service. Thus, it is
still characterized by an old mind-set and
tradition which do not fit into the basic
requirements of a democratic state. In March 2006
the government proposed a draft of an intelligence
law in which we can find controversial articles
with tremendous consequences for the protection of
human rights and civil liberties.

We are particularly concerned over article 12 of
the draft which stipulates that BIN is authorized
to detain and interrogate people in order to gain
information. On top of that, BIN also has the
authority to intercept and monitor communications
among people whose activities are deemed a threat
to national security and the safety of the people.

The government is probably inspired by the
experience of other countries especially the
United States where the war on terrorism has been
used as a justification for sacrificing civil
liberties.

The draft is suspiciously silent about the right
of the detainees to demand responsibility from the
intelligence officials if they violate human
rights during the period of detention. In article
14, reference to the principles of human rights
and democracy is made but only in very general
terms and it is flexible enough to create room for
loose interpretations. Human rights activists who
still believe that a balance between national
security and human rights is still possible in a
democratic state have expressed their concern over
this draft and asked the government to abandon any
article that may lead to the violation of human
rights.

Apparently two years after Munir’s tragic death
Indonesia has not made any significant progress in
the field of human rights. The culture of impunity
in Indonesia has taken root in the minds of its
military and civilian leaders. As long as they are
still in power, Munir’s innocent blood will
continue to cry out to our conscience from his
grave that we should never give up in our struggle
to promote human rights in this country.

[The writer is head of the department of
international relations and head of the MA study
program in international relations at Parahyangan
University, Bandung. He is currently a member of
the Indonesian Working Group for Intelligence
Reform. He can be reached at
aljemadu yahoo.co.uk.]


Seeking Aceh’s new leaders

Jakarta Post Editorial - September 6, 2006

Putting decades of armed conflict and the
devastating tsunami behind them, the people of
Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam are now preparing to hold
landmark elections on Dec. 11.

For the first time ever in the province’s history,
voters will be able to vote for governor and other
local positions.

It is certainly a privilege for the Acehnese to
hold such a an election, in which independent
candidates are permitted to run. For the sake of
peace, democracy and prosperity in the westernmost
province, the nation’s full support for just,
transparent and fair elections is essential.

People across Indonesia and the globe are
anxiously awaiting the elections, which could
indicate whether democracy and peace in Aceh will
stand the test of time. The westernmost province
has suffered nightmarish human tragedies resulting
from rights abuses when it fell under a military
operation between 1989 and 1998 and the colossal
disaster when tsunami waves routed its coast in
2004 claiming over 150,000 lives.

If successful, the Aceh elections will set a good
precedent for the rest of the country in
recognizing the right of aspirants who do not have
access to, let alone support from, political
parties. Disappointment with the failure of
political parties to deliver pre-election promises
in the country’s numerous other provinces had
sparked public demand for a decent opportunity for
alternative candidates to vie for legislative and
executive posts, but to no avail, particularly due
to stiff opposition from elite political groups.

The nation will learn from Aceh as to how true
democracy, which means equal opportunities for
everybody to run for office and choose their
leaders, works.

It is encouraging to see former rebel group Free
Aceh Movement (GAM) being represented in the race,
although the GAM figures will run in their
capacity as individuals. The participation of the
ex-rebels simply marks their acceptance of a
legitimate way of political struggle. But more
importantly, elections will further boost
reconciliation in the province, a prerequisite for
recovery and the building of a brand new Aceh.

Direct elections are an integral part of the peace
agreement signed by the Indonesian government and
GAM on Aug. 15, thus the 2.5 million eligible
voters in Aceh should be encouraged to exercise
their political rights and choose leaders they can
trust.

It is always difficult to select the best
candidates, even in advanced democracies,
therefore the role of the Independent Elections
Commission (KIP), which was given the mandate to
administer the polls, and non-governmental
organizations is crucial to provide political
education to the voters.

Pressed for time, the KIP has been busying itself
with administrative work, ranging from voter
registration to the screening of eligible
candidates. NGOs could play a bigger part in
guiding voters to use their wisdom, common sense
and independence. Past experience has shown some
candidates make empty promise and even buy votes.
Voters were sold on a candidate’s physical
appearance or primordial ties, without perusing
their track records. With sharia already in place
in Aceh, it would not be surprising if candidates
exploited Islamic symbols to secure votes. The
practice is commonplace even outside Aceh, at the
expense of the people’s growth to political
maturity.

Security will raise another cause for concern,
particularly because under the peace agreement the
number of police cannot exceed 9,100 personnel in
Aceh, which seems too few, considering 10,000
polling stations are to be built across the
province. A quick solution to the matter is
imperative, knowing that an adequate number of
police will be crucial when it comes to vote
counting.

Time constraints should not be an excuse for
chaotic or fraud-ridden elections in Aceh, thanks
to assistance and monitoring from domestic and
foreign institutions. The role of foreign parties,
both governmental and non-governmental, has been
pivotal in rebuilding Aceh and restoring peace.

It will be a major loss — and an unforgiven
historical sin — if we cannot maintain the golden
momentum for the Acehnese to build their futures
anew.


Poverty increases 11 percent

Jakarta Post Editorial - September 4, 2006

A higher level of poverty in the country was
expected after the 126 percent hikes in fuel
prices last October and the inflationary pressures
they generated in other sectors.

However, the 11.25 percent or 3.95 million
increase in the poverty head count between
February 2005 and March 2006 to 39.05 million
people, or 17.75 percent of the total population,
still came as a surprise. This poverty incidence,
although lower than that between 1998 and 2002,
was the highest since 2003.

The nearly $1.5 billion the government has given
in unconditional cash transfers to more than 19
million poor and low-income households (76 million
people) during the past 10 months seemed
inadequate to cushion the impact of the tremendous
inflationary pressures on these people.

Through the transfers — Rp 100,000 a household a
month — the government estimated that those who
received the grants would end up with enough
additional income to cope with the short-term
negative impact of the price hikes. Several
analysts, including those of the World Bank,
projected early this year that without the
transfers, real poverty would increase to 22
percent of the total population or almost 50
million.

This further validates the estimates made by
national and international studies last year that
more than 50 percent of the total population or
115 million hovered on the brink of the national
poverty line, defined as the monthly per capita
spending (for food and non-food needs) of Rp
152,847 ($16.50). This, meanwhile, is only half as
high as the $1/day ($30/month) per capita spending
used by international aid agencies to indicate
absolute poverty.

This means more than 110 million people are highly
vulnerable to changes in the economic climate.
Even the slightest worsening of the economy will
push many of them into poverty.

The latest poverty figures, based on the annual
socio-economic survey conducted by the Central
Statistics Agency in March 2006, did confirm that
19.8 million or 50 percent of the 39.05 million
poor people as of March, were chronically poor or
those who had been below the poverty line even
before the fuel price hike.

The other 19.2 million poor people consist of what
is defined as the transient poor (those who are on
the brink of poverty) who fell into absolute
poverty after the fuel price hikes.

Most important now is how the government
incorporates the findings of the survey into its
poverty-reduction programs. Without sound data,
advice sounds rhetorical, and policy prescriptions
ideological. What counts most is to know how to
treat the numbers, and to develop the knowledge we
need to act on them.

It is encouraging to note that the Cabinet seemed
to have advanced copies of the survey reports a
few days before the latest poverty profile was
disclosed to the public because the salient
findings of the survey had been included in the
new poverty-alleviation strategy.

The coordinating ministers for the economy and
people’s welfare announced last Thursday a new
strategy, which integrates the Kecamatan (sub-
district) development project (KDP) and the Urban
Poverty Alleviation Project (UPAP) into a national
Community Empowerment Program.

The two projects, which are designed to empower
the chronic poor and transient poor to lift
themselves out of poverty, are quite different
from the unconditional cash transfers and other
social-safety net programs, which are meant only
for consumption (to meet people’s daily needs) and
not for investments.

Both the KDP and UPAP projects, which were
launched in 1998/1999 with a budget of over $1.5
billion in foreign loans and grants and government
funds for 10 years, have so far been the most
democratic, bottom-up development programs applied
here to specifically reduce poverty. Yet more
impressive is that independent auditors Moores
Rowland found a low rate of corruption in these
projects.

Both projects promote the empowerment and
involvement of poor people through a participatory
process in conceiving programs, teaches
transparent budgeting and procedures, good
governance and increased accountability. These
community-based poverty reduction projects provide
block grants of Rp 500 million to Rp 1.5 billion
to sub-districts, which then channel the funds
through sound competition to villages.

Villagers are encouraged to take an active part in
the participatory planning and decision-making
process to allocate the funds for their self-
defined development needs and priorities in any
activities such as infrastructures, health, water,
education and farm businesses, except those that
may damage the environments.

The experiences with the two projects so far show
that the participatory process ensures that the
programs selected for poverty reduction address
the most pressing needs of large numbers of
people, thereby making them effective and
efficient as well as politically sustainable. The
rationale is that when people have more access to
information about government activities, they are
empowered to play a more informed role in the
development process.


No going back on regional autonomy: Analysts

Jakarta Post - September 1, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — Despite its adverse
impact in stoking tribalism, regional autonomy is
an irreversible process and the central government
must not attempt to abrogate it, analysts say.

Gadjah Mada University senior lecturer on regional
autonomy Pratikno and executive director of the
Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro) Hadar Nafiz
Gumay said Thursday that regional autonomy
promised better governance for regions in the
sprawling archipelago.

"Indonesia is too big a country to be ruled by a
centralistic method, and regional autonomy is one
among many methods that can produce effective
governance," Pratikno told The Jakarta Post. Hadar
said efforts to reverse decentralization would
spur opposition from those who reaped its
benefits.

The analysts commented on the findings of a survey
by the Civil Society Alliance for Democracy
(Yapikka), which found implementation of regional
autonomy had given rise to heightened
ethnocentrism and tribalism.

The survey recommended the revival of the
oversight role once performed by the provincial
government to mitigate the negative ramifications
of ceding more power to regencies.

But such recommendations inevitably lead to fears
of a return to the centralized government of the
New Order from 1966-98, when provincial
governments acted as political surrogates to
control the people.

However, the analysts believed that returning the
oversight role to the provincial government would
not imperil decentralization.

"Who said that the central government had no
control over local governments in the regional
autonomy era? The power is still there for the
central government to ensure that public services
are being delivered," Pratikno said, adding that
regional autonomy was not synonymous with
federalism, which was tantamount to giving free
reign to local governments.

He added that because the central government would
likely have problems supervising all regencies, it
could seek help from provincial administrations.

"A regency should not be left by itself in
implementing the regional autonomy because then it
would only strive for its individual interests,"
Pratikno said.

Commenting on resurgent tribalism, Hadar termed it
a “bitter pill” experienced on the path to a
mature democracy. "We are still in that stage now,
and we have to face the reality that ethnicity,
religions and territorial attachment are the
common denominator that easily bonds our people,"
Hadar told the Post.

He said that despite the objectionable nature of
ethnocentrism, the government should not make
stringent regulations that would curb expressions
of ethnicity. "It will be harmful for the
democracy in the long run," he said.

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