Religious Tolerance Makes a Comeback in Indonesia

Religious Tolerance Makes a Comeback in IndonesiaIndonesia seems to be making welcome moves to rein in Islamic radicals, with President Joko Widodo calling on the country's largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, to promote “moderate Islamic values” to counter violent militants. A few days later, on August 7 and possibly at the president's urging, Haedir Nashir, the newly elected chairman of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s…

Indonesia Peatland Emissions Highly Understated

Indonesia Peatland Emissions Highly UnderstatedThe United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is drastically undercounting carbon emissions from the draining of peatlands in Southeast Asia to make way for oil palm plantations, according to a new report. Peatlands are crucial in sequestering carbon and slowing climate change.  Researchers from the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and from the Union of…

Indonesia Extends Forest Clearing Ban; ‘Not Enough,’ say Critics

Indonesia Extends Forest Clearing Ban; ‘Not Enough,’ say CriticsAlthough Indonesian President Joko Widodo extended Indonesia's partial forest-clearing moratorium on the day of its expiration, environmentalists and civil society groups are unsatisfied, saying the policy should have been strengthened and extended. Activists have mounted a national campaign under the banner "Strengthen the Forest Moratorium" (Perkuat Moratorium Hutan!) but their calls, street-corner rock concerts and…

School Case Further Hurts Indonesia’s Reputation

School Case Further Hurts Indonesia’s ReputationThe scathing international criticism over the April 29 firing squad killings of eight drug mules, is not the only case bringing harsh censure to Indonesia's legal system. Potentially even more damaging is the continuing fallout Indonesia faces from the conclusion of a bizarre trial in the South Jakarta District Court, considered one of the worst…

Jakarta School Rape Case Pair Guilty

Jakarta School Rape Case Pair GuiltyAn Indonesian court has found Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong, a teaching assistant, guilty of raping three children in a case regarded as rigged to help a plaintiff win a US$125 million lawsuit against the Jakarta Intercultural School. After the sentence was read, Bantleman said "we will continue to fight until the truth comes…

Holding The Tobacco Industry Liable

Holding The Tobacco Industry LiableDespite overwhelming credible and scientifically robust evidence that tobacco kills and is a common risk factor for major non-communicable diseases, public health program have been unable to make significant headway in cutting tobacco use, particularly in the third world. With more than 6 million tobacco-related deaths every year, the world is far from eliminating the…

Opinion: Western Arrogance in Indonesian Courts

Opinion: Western Arrogance in Indonesian CourtsThe death penalty has been shown to have little deterrent effect and will always be vulnerable to miscarriages of justice. Likewise, laws against drugs tend to generate more crime in the form of protection rackets, murder and money laundering than they prevent social ills. That said, the outcry from Australia (and others) about Indonesia’s probable…

Grave International Concern over Jakarta School Case

Grave International Concern over Jakarta School CaseIn April, the mother of a 5-year-old kindergartner at Jakarta Intercultural School, the city’s most prestigious school for expatriate children and one of the most highly regarded in Asia, charged that her son had been sodomized repeatedly in a school bathroom by janitors.  The case, which is universally regarded as specious, was later expanded to…

Can Jokowi Tame Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry?

Can Jokowi Tame Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry?Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry, arguably the country’s most powerful state institution – and often named one of its most corrupt – is facing unprecedented questioning over its broken land rights system.   The ministry, which oversees more than 70 percent of the country's land area, also represents a major test of how serious Joko Widodo, the…

Indonesian Women Police Recruits Face Degrading Virginity Check

Indonesian Women Police Recruits Face Degrading Virginity CheckThe Indonesian National Police force female applicants to go through degrading and painful tests to prove their virginity, the Indonesian branch of Human Rights Watch has said. The examination includes an embarrassing, discredited and uncomfortable “two finger test” to determine if a woman’s hymens are intact, according to interviews with recruits who went through the…
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