Indonesian Radical Leads Campaign on Anti-Terror Police

The 68-year-old firebrand Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, who was convicted of being behind the 2002 Bali bombings and then freed by Indonesia’s Supreme Court, is now trying to wipe out the elite anti-terror squad that linked him to the bombings because, he says, it is “unfair to Islamic activists.” Just days after his supporters…

Flying in Indonesia May Be Hazardous to Your Health

In more than just crash deaths, Indonesia is reaping the price of the 2000 deregulation of its skies without paying adequate attention to the safety of its airlines. An all-time low in confidence in the eyes of global aviation authorities is severely threatening the country’s tourism sector. European and US airspace was closed last week…

Singapore and Indonesia Squabble over Defense Pact

    The joint defense pact that Indonesia wrung out of Singapore earlier this year after a stare-down over sand barges destined for reclamation projects in the city state appears to be in trouble, with Indonesian lawmakers seeing a dark threat to national sovereignty in the hastily concluded pact.   Under the agreement, which is…

Indonesia’s Religious Frontline

At 8 am each Sunday morning for two years at the Indramayu State Prison in West Java prison, the jailhouse doors were opened to allow Christians in the surrounding community to attend religious services in a small, brightly painted chapel beside the prison's mosque. Three women – Rebekka Zakaria and her two friends, Ratna Bangun…

Indonesian Shootings Could Force Military Reform

The deaths in late May of four peasants at the hands of Indonesian marines in a tiny East Java hamlet have put Jakarta under strong pressure to rein in the Indonesian military. The incident has angered human rights groups, legislators and influential Muslim figures, who appear determined to force the military to reform. In a…

Indonesia’s Yudhoyono Gets a Black Eye

Indonesia’s voters who swept President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono into office in 2004 as what they hoped as a clean and transparent leader, are growing increasingly disenchanted with his ability to clean up the country’s endemic corruption. The latest blow to Yudhoyono’s credibility comes from revelations of illegal funding of the 2004 presidential campaign including the…

Dodging Sectarian Strife in Indonesia

East Java is walking a tightrope over the arrest and arraignment of 41 Christians for blasphemy in early May on allegations that they had made a 10-minute video that vilified Islam. The lid appears to be staying on at the moment, partly because this region of predominantly Muslim Indonesia is largely a stronghold for moderates.…

Yudhoyono Paints Himself into the West’s Corner

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ignited a storm of criticism in his predominantly Muslim country by backing last month’s UN Security Council resolution to escalate sanctions against Iran. At issue is whether a largely Muslim country can stand against the interests of another Muslim country in a rapidly polarizing world.  Despite the astonishing levels…

Politics and Free Expression in Indonesia

Once a week in Jakarta, the antics of a fictitious president named Si Butet dari Yogya – whose initials are “coincidentally” the same as those of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – have convulsed television viewers on a show called Republik Mimpi (Republic of Dreams) and driven ratings through the roof. But State Minister of…

Suharto Scion’s Channel Islands Treasure Hunt

The shadowy world of offshore British financial hideaways is the latest battleground for efforts by Indonesians to come to terms with the legacy of their former dictator, Suharto, and his children. The case demonstrates how closely intertwined the disgraced dictator and his family remain with tainted Indonesian officials still in office, and how difficult it…