Nov 2014

Former Indonesian first lady Sinta Nuriah Wahid reminded the new government of Presiden Joko Widodo (Jokowi) on Saturday about the importance of preserving inter-religious harmony in the country.

"While intolerance must be driven away, inter-religious harmony must be safeguarded well and religious freedom, preserved," she said at the True Inter-Faith Brotherhood congress organized by the Semarang archdiocese.

When asked if a special directorate should be set up for the purpose, the wife of former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) stated that it would not be necessary.

"The presence of the ministry of religious affairs is enough, as long as its officials carry out their duties well," she remarked.

Wahid also called for continued dialog among followers of different religions to maintain harmonious relations.

Furthermore, she praised the congress efforts to maintain inter-faith harmony.

"Activities like this (the assembly) are very important and should be engaged in by everyone, regardless of their religion or ethnic background," she reiterated, adding that everyone should promote a sense of religious unity in the country, which is being divided by greed.

During the Islamic fasting month, the former first lady pointed out that she had held gatherings where people could break their fast with many groups in the society, including non-Muslim ones, with the aim to promote a sense true religious brotherhood.

"I always said it during the month of Ramadhan, aiming to create (a sense of) true brotherhood between human beings," she stated.

Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla were inaugurated as the countrys new president and vice president, respectively, on Monday, replacing Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Boediono, who had led the country for a decade.

Source : http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/96239/jokowis-government-must-preserve-inter-religious-harmony-sinta-nuriyah

Nov 2014

A fresh sense of optimism washed over Indonesia with the inauguration of the President Joko Widodo on Oct. 20.

His new cabinet, which consists of a number of professionals with impressive track records, also give the people a new sense of hope that change has finally come to the country.

“This is indeed a new momentum,” said Danang Parikesit, chairman of Indonesia Transportation Society (MTI) and professor of Universitas Gajah Mada (UGM). “It’s the government that listens, the government that crowd sources for its decisions.”

“It’s now the time for the people to be heard,” added the 49-year-old transportation expert.

Among the most pressing problems Indonesia currently faces are the problems of infrastructures. Round-the-clock traffic jams that happen in many parts of Jakarta is a fine example.

Despite the continuous addition of new buses and the development of overpasses in the capital, the government has yet found the perfect solution to solve the long-existing problem once and for all.

The upcoming raining season also poses a not-so-new threat to the people of Jakarta, who can already easily predict that hundreds of houses and streets will once again be inundated after only a few hours of rain.

Meanwhile, the remote pockets of the archipelago continue to have limited access to electricity and clean water.

But what is the best way to convey our grievances to the government?

Alan Solowiejczyk, director of Infrastructure Asia, devised a plan to present the people of Indonesia with a social media survey, through they can voice their concerns and offers their solutions for the country’s infrastructure dilemma.

Infrastructure Asia, a unit of the international media conglomerate Tarsus Group, has been working closely together with the Indonesian government for over four years in organizing the annual trade show, “Indonesia Infrastructure Week,” which this year will be held at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC) this week from Wednesday through Friday.

“[With a social media survey], we’re opening up the dialogue on infrastructure to a wider audience,” said Solowiejczyk. “And that’s where we’re going to take the survey. We’re going to ask very simple questions to the people of Indonesia.”

Danang added that the online questionnaire was carefully developed by academics and experts in the field, but was still “simple and easy to understand.”

The survey is now available at Saatnyadidengar.org.

The site’s title, “Saatnya Didengar,” translates to “It’s Time to be Heard” and aptly describes the aim of the project.

Danang’s “simple” description of the survey was indeed an understatement; the website consists of only two questions, the first of which asking respondents which sector they would focus on if they were in an influential, government position. The choices provided include irrigation, clean water, communications and the Internet, transportation, infrastructure and sanitation.

“So, we’re trying to bring a grassroot approach to what’s typically been a high-level topic,” Solowiejczyk said.

“Because infrastructure is not a high-level topic. It’s [actually] very simple. It’s about better lives for all Indonesians.”

The survey then asks respondents to name the specific struggles they face in their own regions, as well as the solutions they can offer for these problems. Through this quick yet straightforward format, Infrastructure Asia is encouraging people to not merely complain about their current situations, but also be a part of the resolution.

Registration is required to make your opinions known, but participants may also sign up via Facebook or Twitter.

“Social media is now booming in Indonesia, which makes it an efficient way to reach a wider audience,” said Danang.

To further appeal to Internet-driven millennials of the country, the company added an interactive element to the questionnaire.

“When you first register and fill out the survey, you will get 10 points,” said Danang. “And when one of your friends also fills out the survey [whose link is shared by you on your social media], you will get another 10 points.”

Respondents who accumulate the most points will win tickets to attend the “Saatnya Didengar” concert, which will take place on the final day of “Indonesia Infrastructure Week” on Friday at Hall B of JCC.

The two-hour show, which will feature a slew of Indonesian’s top musical artists, is especially staged for winners of the survey — no tickets will be available for sale.

The social media survey will select 2,000 winners, each of whom will receive two tickets.

“It’s definitely more than a concert,” said Boogie Tedjowinoto, producer and program director of “Saatnya Didengar.”

The list of talents to perform at the show includes French-based Indonesian singer-songwriter Anggun, pop singer Rossa, winner of X Factor Indonesia Fatin Shidqia Lubis and Indonesian Idol season seven winner Regina Ivanova.

“I’m indeed very lucky to be included in this concert,” said pop singer Rossa. “It feels like being at the starting point of making Indonesia better for everyone.”

President Joko, Vice President Jusuf Kalla and several ministers are also scheduled to attend the performance.

“Hopefully, the government officials attending the concert will also get the message and improve the country’s infrastructure for all of us,” Rossa added.

The musical showcase will be divided into five specially themed chapters, representing the five principles of Indonesia’s core tenets, the Pancasila.

Besides the above-mentioned top celebrities, the concert will also feature prominent local and international NGOs that have made their mark on the country, including The Wahid Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes a peaceful Islam and pluralism; Simavi, an international development group focusing on basic health services; and Indonesia Bangun Desa, a non-profit program aimed at improving the basic infrastructure of the country’s remote villages.

“Representatives of each NGO will discuss their work in Indonesia,” Boogie said. “With these talks, we hope that the audience will also be moved to do something for their surroundings too.”

To complete the impressive line up of guest speakers, a number of Indonesian actors and actresses will also be sharing their ideas and concerns over the nation’s lackluster infrastructure.

“Indonesian people actually have a high level of nationalism,” actress Shireen Sungkar said. “We care a lot about what’s happening to our country. But we often don’t know how to voice our concerns in the right way. Now we can do so through Saatnyadidengar.org.”

The concert will also air on Berita Satu TV and RTV on Friday, while winners of the project will be announced on Wednesday.

With a few quick clicks of the mouse and taps of the keyboard, Indonesia’s Internet user can stand the chance to be a part of a greater change. Your voice can help transform our nation’s infrastructure for the better.

Source : http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/features/new-survey-aims-shake-nation/

Jun 2014

Rights activists have slammed National Police chief Gen. Sutarman for focusing attention not on the violent attack on a Pentecostal church in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on Sunday, but rather on the issue of the church’s operating permit.

Sutarman, while condemning the actions of the local residents and Muslim groups who barraged the church with stones shattering its windows, has emphasized the church was in violation of the law as it had not obtained a permit from the local government to operate as a place of worship.

“Private residences cannot routinely be used for Friday prayers [for Muslims] or prayer meetings [for Christians],” he said at his office in Jakarta on Wednesday.

He did say Muslims could hold monthly Koran recitals and other religious-related meetings in private homes, but that such meetings “should be reported to the police, so that we can provide protection”.

The Pentecostal church has reportedly been run by Rev. Nico Lomboan since the 1990s. According to Sleman Deputy Regent Yuni Satia Rahayu, the regency had denied it a building permit to operate as a church because its board had faked the signatures of local residents to fulfill the permit requirements.

Although the Sleman administration sealed the building in 2012, the church was recently used. This prompted local residents and some Muslim groups to hurl stones at the church on Sunday.

Responding to Sutarman’s remarks, Setara Institute chairman Hendardi said the police chief should prioritize the investigation into the attack on the church over its legal status.

“Operating a place of worship without a permit is an administrative violation. But the most problematic thing in the case is that some people took the law into their own hands by attacking the church. The police have a responsibility to prevent that and to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said over the phone on Wednesday.

The police have so far named one suspect in the case.

The attack on the church was the second case of sectarian violence in Yogyakarta in the last week. On May 30, at least 15 local residents attacked a group of Catholics praying at a house in Ngaglik, Sleman.

Hendardi also said that minority groups often faced obstacles in obtaining permits to operate a place of worship.

“To get the permit, they must get approval from local residents living around the place of worship. In some many cases, this creates problems,” he said.

Ahmad Suaedy from the Wahid Institute concurred with Hendardi. “[Sutarman’s statement] seems to justify the violent attack [...] If Rev. Nico is violating the law, he may be brought to justice. By the same token, the perpetrators of the attack must also be brought to trial,” Suaedy said.

In responding to increasing sectarian violence in Yogyakarta, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has sent a letter urging Sutarman to solve the two cases and to evaluate the performance of the Yogyakarta Police.

Sutarman, commenting on the letter, said that the police had acted firmly to prevent and handle sectarian conflicts.

Komnas HAM commissioner Siti Noor Laila rebuffed Sutarman’s claim, saying that the police had failed to close many sectarian violence cases, including the attack at the Kemah Injil Indonesia (GKII) church in Gunungkidul regency on March 30.

“If the police have acted firmly, they should have submitted the dossiers of those cases to the prosecutor’s office,” she said.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, June 05 2014, 9:28 AM

May 2014

The Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) West Java is standing strong after the local Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a letter asking them to cease worshipping in order to maintain security and order.

The MUI in Ciamis, West Java, asked the local Ahmadiyah community to stop all forms of activity at the Khilafat Nur Mosque.

The letter was issued after police warned about the possibility of attacks following the legislative election.

An Ahmadi from Ciamis, Syaeful Uyun, said the community rejected the plea.

“With all due respect, we reject the MUI’s appeal. We have already stated our objections in a return letter,” Syaiful told The Jakarta Post over the phone, on Thursday.

The letter was forwarded to the region’s MUI chapter, the governor and the West Java Police.

“Our letter states that Indonesia guarantees religious freedom for its citizens. The 1945 Constitution also guarantees it. When we pray at the mosque, it doesn’t violate the joint decree,” he said, referring to the 2008 Joint Decree between the religious affairs minister, the attorney general and the home minister regarding the Ahmadiyah.

One of the points of the joint decree stipulates that the JAI stop activities deemed inconsistent with the “general” interpretation of Islam.

According to Syaeful, the plea is an effort to obstruct citizens from practicing their faith.

He claimed they were asked by the Ciamis Police on April 8 to stop activities in fear of a public uprising after the April 9 election.

Contacted separately, West Java Police spokesperson Martinus Sitompul denied Syaeful’s claim, stating that personnel appointed to the Ahmadi settlements in the area were tasked with ensuring public order and protection during the election period.

West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. M. Iriawan said his men would coordinate with the Ciamis Police to protect the region.

The mosque, which is located in the city center and welcomes about 100 Ahmadi faithful, was built in 1965. There has never been any requests to stop activities at the mosque until now.

“It would be overstepping the law if the mosque is closed. If there are protests, please act within the scope of the central government’s procedures,” Syaeful said.

Meanwhile, advocacy coordinator of the Wahid Institute, Subhi Azhari, said the government was inconsistent when dealing with the Ahmadi.

“The Constitution has guaranteed that all citizens are entitled to their own faith. If the government takes the wrong action, it risks being labeled as biased.”

Subhi said that setting up an inclusive dialogue would be the best way to settle the disputes.

“We all have to abide by the rules. But outside of that, dialogue is the way to go,” he added.

The Ahmadis’ complaint is the latest case of religious minorities attempting to pursue the practice of their faith.

From February to April last year, Bekasi officials sealed the Al-Misbah Mosque in Pondok Gede, Jakarta, three times.

That same year in West Java alone, there were 40 cases of religious intolerance by authorities, compared to Jakarta’s eight cases, according to a study by the Wahid Institute

Source: The Jakarta Post, Bandung |Fri, April 25 2014, 8:53 AM

Apr 2014

Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), led by The Wahid Institute, have supported the efforts of the congregation of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin in Bogor, West Java, to urge the incoming mayor of the city, Bima Arya Sugiarto, to obey the Supreme Court ruling to reopen the church.

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 Next > End >>