Indonesian Executed in Saudi Arabia


Indonesian migrant worker Siti Zainab was executed on Tuesday (April 17) in Saudi Arabia. The Indonesian government have launched a protest against the Saudi Arabia government for not notifying Indonesian government representative or the family of Siti Zainab regarding the date of the execution.

On the Paniai Shooting Incident


Five residents of Enarotali, Paniai District of the Papua Province, were shot dead by officials from the Indonesian National Police (Polri) and the Indonesian Army (TNI) in December 2014. The incident took a place at the Karel Gobay field of Paniai District. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo took his time to respond to the incident. The President finally told a crowd in Papua on Dec. 27, during a Christmas Celebration, that the Paniai shooting was unacceptable and deplorable. [Continue reading]

Jokowi’s Christmas in Papua


The government will hold a joint national Christmas celebration in Papua for the very first time. But some Papuans reject the idea altogether, referring to the December 8 incident in Enarotali of the district of Paniai, which caused the death of five Papuans. [continue reading]

Jokowi’s Commitment for Papua


President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo tried hard to show his commitment to the social welfare of Papuans. As a presidential candidate Jokowi kicked off his election campaign in Papua on Jun. 5, 2014. And later, on the day of his inauguration, the President gave the ceremonial cutting of tumpeng (tumeric infused rice cone), which symbolizes blessing for the future, to three Papuan women. And then, the President also appointed Yohana Susana Yembise as the first female Papuan Minister in Indonesian history. But now that societal conflict has once again appeared in the frontier province, what will Jokowi do beyond the symbolism?[continue reading]

Jokowi’s Human Rights Commitment Questioned


The December 10 international human rights day is just around the corner. But last week, Indonesian human right activists were surprised by the granting of parole for Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, the convicted murderer of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib. This raised many to doubt President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo commitment to bringing closure on human rights violations in the past. [continue reading]

Aceh women say they suffer discrimination

Khabar Southeast Asia

Aceh women say they suffer discrimination

Norma Manalu, an activist from Aceh, speaks at a June 4th gathering about women's rights in Aceh, at Hotel Acacia in Jakarta. [Elisabeth Oktofani /Khabar].

Norma Manalu, an activist from Aceh, speaks at a June 4th gathering about women’s rights in Aceh, at Hotel Acacia in Jakarta. [Elisabeth Oktofani /Khabar].

Activists say they are not against Sharia Law but question the way it is being implemented

Despite the 2005 peace pact that ended 30 years of bloody conflict in Aceh, life in the province has not improved for women and children since then.

That was the stark message conveyed by a panel of women activists from Indonesia’s westernmost province, who were in Jakarta June 4th to present findings on violence against women in Aceh from 2011-2012.

During that time, there were 1,060 cases of violence against women, according to the 231 Monitoring Network, a coalition of women’s rights groups based in Aceh.

The name refers to Article 231, on women empowerment and child protection, of Law No. 11 2006, which allowed Aceh to implement Sharia Law under its special autonomy status.

The coalition argues that women have been victimised, not protected, as a result of the imposition of Sharia law in Aceh. They face difficulty accessing justice, stigmatisation, intimidation and violence.

The activists stressed, however, that they are not against Sharia itself. It is the way it is being implemented that is raising questions.

“The implementation of Sharia Law should be able to restore proper justice and improve social welfare to its citizens, which we did not get during the conflict,” Samsidar, an activist from the Aceh Women’s Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Apik Aceh), told Khabar Southeast Asia.

“On top of that, it should protect women and children in Aceh,” she added.

Cruel and humiliating punishments

The National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan), which hosted the gathering, has identified 282 regional regulations (Perda) that discriminate against women in various parts of Indonesia.

In Aceh, Komnas Perempuan has identified 15 such regulations. Violating them can lead to cruel and humiliating punishments such as beatings, canings, being bathed in sewage water, and forced marriages, the group said.

“Many regulations are established to promote religious values and morality. But their implementation tends to violate human rights which are protected by the Indonesian Constitution,” Komnas Perempuan Commissioner Andy Yentriyani said.

Aziana Rambe, the secretary general of Women Volunteers for Humanity (RPuK), told reporters that some regulations merely serve to distract local people from more important issues.

A new bylaw forbidding tight outfits for women in Meulaboh, West Aceh, diverts attention from the government’s failure to provide housing for 2004 tsunami victims in Meulaboh, she charged.

If the local government were properly implementing Sharia Law, “they would focus on how to improve Islamic public service and social welfare for Aceh citizens,” Aziana argued.

She said they would neither focus on the women’s outfits nor women’s dancing.

Pro-democracy and pro-Islam

In Aceh, those who criticise authorities are quickly labeled anti-Sharia or anti-Islam. The activists, however, say that is not true.

“As Acehnese, why would we speak something bad about Aceh and still want to return to Aceh at the end of the day?” Norma Manalu, an activist from the Women’s Shura Hall of Aceh (BSUIA), told the forum.

“We want Aceh to be safe. We want to go home without violence or discrimination anymore. We just want to live peacefully with our families in Aceh,” she explained in tears.

“We are not against the government. But if something is wrong, we should tell the government and provide them with some inputs,” said Suraiya Khamauzaman, founder of the Flower Aceh Foundation. “It is very important for the government and civil society to work together to meet our goal in eradicating discrimination against women and also improving social welfare.”

The women made it clear they embrace both democracy and Islam. “Indonesia is a democratic country, and Aceh is part of Indonesia. Therefore, we believe that there is a democratic space in Aceh as well,” Samsidar said.

“Even though there are many risks ahead of us, we want to use our right as Indonesian citizens to make our voices heard. It needs to be understood that Islam is a religion of justice, a religion of love, and cares about other people. Islam is a religion of equality and peace,” she added.

Proposed ban on straddling motorcycles criticised

Khabar Southeast Asia

Proposed ban on straddling motorcycles criticised

A Muslim scholar is among those expressing doubt that the prohibition will make women safer.

A planned regulation banning female passengers from straddling motorcycles in Lhokseumawe, Aceh has sparked criticism from Indonesians, including a leading Muslim scholar who says it does not reflect the spirit of Sharia law.

Suaidi Yahya, the mayor of Aceh’s second largest city, said earlier this month he would issue the regulation because “it’s improper for women to sit astride. We implement Islamic law here.”

“Women sitting on motorbikes must not sit astride because it will provoke the male driver. It’s also to protect women from an undesirable condition,” Suaidi told AFP on January 2nd.

He said women could face forward in an emergency situation, or if they are driving, as long as they are dressed “in a Muslim way”.

His administration has started distributing handouts throughout the municipality to inform residents of the new policy before the plan is legally implemented in a few months, he said.

Unsafe for riders?

The plan has sparked widespread criticism from Indonesians who say it is unsafe.

Cut Fitriani, 34, an Acehnese woman who moved from Aceh to Jakarta in the last two years, told Khabar that the Lhoksumawe administration has demonstrated ignorance of safe driving principals.

“I don’t see that the regulation is very Islamic. Instead, it puts women in a dangerous situation. I believe that drivers will have difficulty keeping their balance,” she said.

Jusri Pulubuhu, a founder of Jakarta Defensive Driving Consulting (JDDC), told Khabar his group strongly suggests that motorcycle passengers sit facing forward.

“When you are driving a motorcycle, you have to know how to keep it stable and balanced,” Jusri said.

“When a motorcycle passenger is sidesaddle, it would be difficult for the passenger to find a safe position because her two legs would not be within the handlebar area,” he added.

“One of the safety requirements of driving a motorcycle is that any object or passenger must stay within the handlebar area.”

Protecting citizens

Siti Musdah Mulia, chairwoman of the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP), argued that the regulation has nothing to do with Sharia Islam and it puts female passenger in danger.

Further, she argued that the bylaw is incompatible with the spirit of Sharia.

“A regulation must give a protection to the citizen, instead of putting the citizen in danger. Even during the prophet period, the prophet’s wife was sitting forward-facing while they were riding a camel,” she said.

“Therefore, I do not think that there is a theological reason for this regulation,” she added,

By implementing Sharia Islam, the local government must improve the welfare of its citizens. That is what being an Islamic society means, Siti told Khabar.

Central government review

Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said the central government will review the planned bylaw, and could annul it.

“[It will be reviewed] whether the bylaw is too much or [whether] it is to maintain the tradition,” he told reporters January 7th in Bogor, outside Jakarta.

“If it is to maintain the tradition, it is alright. [But] it should be studied first [to find out] what is the purpose of the regulation,” he said, adding, it would take up to one month to evaluate the bylaw, and that his office had not yet received a copy of it.