Category Archives: Indonesia

Shocking Exposé Reveals Trump Associates and ISIS-Linked Vigilantes Are Attempting Coup in Indonesia

Amy Goodman speaks with investigative journalist Allan Nairn about his shocking new exposé that reveals backers of Donald Trump in Indonesia have joined army officers and a vigilante street movement linked to ISIS in an attempt to oust Indonesia’s president. Writing in The Intercept, Nairn reveals that Indonesians involved in the coup attempt include a corporate lawyer working for the mining company Freeport-McMoRan, which is controlled by Trump adviser Carl Icahn. Video has even emerged showing the lawyer at a ceremony where men are swearing allegiance to ISIS. According to Nairn, two of the other most prominent supporters of the coup are close associates of Donald Trump—Fadli Zon, vice speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives, and Hary Tanoe, Trump’s primary Indonesian business partner, who is building two Trump resorts, one in Bali and one outside Jakarta. Nairn’s article is making waves in Indonesia. (Democracy Now!)

The Toxic Toll of Indonesia’s Gold Mines

Richard C. Paddock reports for National Geographic:

[…] Millions of people in 70 countries across Asia, Africa, and South America have been exposed to high levels of mercury as small-scale mining has proliferated over the past decade. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that at least 10 million miners, including at least four million women and children, are working in small “artisanal” gold mines, which produce as much as 15 percent of the world’s gold.

More than a million miners scratch out an illegal living digging for gold in at least 850 hot spots, says Yuyun Ismawati, a 2009 winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize who has conducted extensive research on small-scale mining. Many of them fall prey to corrupt authorities who take a share of the gold rather than enforcing a law that bans mercury use.

Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,500 islands with the world’s fourth largest population, has one of the worst mercury problems, according to Stephan Bose-O’Reilly, a children’s health expert who volunteers at the Indonesian environmental group BaliFokus Foundation.

“Indonesia is a real global hot spot,” Bose-O’Reilly said during a recent trip to Indonesia examine miners in the gold fields. “I haven’t seen anything worse than here.”

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Punk Rock vs Sharia Law in Indonesia

Indonesia’s punk scene is one of the world’s biggest and most vibrant. It’s a place where the country’s silenced youth can revolt against endemic corruption, social conventions and their strict families. But in the world’s largest Islamic nation, political authorities and religious fundamentalists persecute this rebellious youth movement. Nowhere is the anti-punk sentiment stronger than in Aceh, Indonesia’s only Sharia province, where 65 punks were arrested and detained at an Islamic moral training camp in which they had their heads shaved and clothes burnt. We travelled to North Sumatra to track down the last punks in Aceh, who still live under constant threat from the sharia police. (Noisey)

Indonesia is burning: Why is the world looking away?

George Monbiot writes for The Guardian:

[…] Why is this happening? Indonesia’s forests have been fragmented for decades by timber and farming companies. Canals have been cut through the peat to drain and dry it. Plantation companies move in to destroy what remains of the forest to plant monocultures of pulpwood, timber and palm oil. The easiest way to clear the land is to torch it. Every year, this causes disasters. But in an extreme El Niño year like this one, we have a perfect formula for environmental catastrophe.

The president, Joko Widodo, is – or wants to be – a democrat. But he presides over a nation in which fascism and corruption flourish. As Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Act of Killing shows, leaders of the death squads that helped murder a million people during Suharto’s terror in the 1960s, with the approval of the west, have since prospered through other forms of organised crime, including illegal deforestation.

They are supported by a paramilitary organisation with three million members, called Pancasila Youth. With its orange camo-print uniforms, scarlet berets, sentimental gatherings and schmaltzy music, it looks like a fascist militia as imagined by JG Ballard. There has been no truth, no reconciliation; the mass killers are still treated as heroes and feted on television. In some places, especially West Papua, the political murders continue.

Those who commit crimes against humanity don’t hesitate to commit crimes against nature. Though Joko Widodo seems to want to stop the burning, his reach is limited. His government’s policies are contradictory: among them are new subsidies for palm oil production that make further burning almost inevitable. Some plantation companies, prompted by their customers, have promised to stop destroying the rainforest. Government officials have responded angrily, arguing that such restraint impedes the country’s development. That smoke blotting out the nation, which has already cost it some $30bn? That, apparently, is development.

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Despite Military Crackdown in Papua and Other Rights Abuses, Obama Recently Hosted Indonesian President: Interview with John Sifton and Allan Nairn

Last Monday, President Obama met Indonesia’s new president, Joko Widodo, at the White House to discuss climate change, trade and strengthening U.S.-Indonesian ties. President Obama described Indonesia as one of the world’s largest democracies, but human rights groups paint a different story, citing the military’s ongoing repression in West Papua as well as discriminatory laws restricting the rights of religious minorities and women. Indonesia has also been criticized for attempting to silence any discussion about the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Indonesian genocide that left more than 1 million people dead. (Democracy Now!)

Who Were the Indonesian Leaders Donald Trump Met and Praised Last Week? Interview with Allan Nairn

‘On Thursday, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump held a press conference in Trump Tower in New York. While much was made of his announcement to refrain from considering a third-party run, little attention was given to Trump’s star guests at the event: members of Indonesia’s top political brass. Among the Indonesians who met with Donald Trump was Deputy Speaker of the House Fadli Zon. He is the right-hand man of the U.S.-trained Prabowo Subianto. Gen. Prabowo has been accused of extensive human rights abuses that took place in the 1990s when he was head of the country’s special forces. He was dismissed from the army in 1998 following accusations he was complicit in the abduction and torture of activists during political unrest in Jakarta that led to the ouster of longtime dictator Suharto, who killed as many as a million civilians. Prabowo was the son-in-law of Suharto. We speak to Allan Nairn about Trump’s meeting.’ (Democracy Now!)

Overpopulation in Indonesia puts pressure on resources

Who Should Be Blamed For Muslim Terrorism?

Andrew Vltchek writes for CounterPunch:

A hundred years ago, it would have been unimaginable to have a pair of Muslim men enter a cafe or a public transportation vehicle, and then blow themselves up, killing dozens. Or to massacre the staff of a satirical magazine in Paris! Things like that were simply not done.

When you read the memoirs of Edward Said, or talk to old men and women in East Jerusalem, it becomes clear that the great part of Palestinian society used to be absolutely secular and moderate. It cared about life, culture, and even fashion, more than about religious dogmas.

The same could be said about many other Muslim societies, including those of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. Old photos speak for themselves. That is why it is so important to study old images again and again, carefully.

Islam is not only a religion; it is also an enormous culture, one of the greatest on Earth, which has enriched our humanity with some of the paramount scientific and architectural achievements, and with countless discoveries in the field of medicine. Muslims have written stunning poetry, and composed beautiful music. But above all, they developed some of the earliest social structures in the world, including enormous public hospitals and the first universities on earth, like The University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco.

The idea of ‘social’ was natural to many Muslim politicians, and had the West not brutally interfered, by overthrowing left-wing governments and putting on the throne fascist allies of London, Washington and Paris; almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders.’

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Indonesia’s New President Takes Office, Cabinet Includes Officials Tied to Atrocities of Old

‘Indonesia’s new president, Joko Widodo, has held his first Cabinet meeting amidst criticism from human rights activists for picking a new defense minister who once defended military killings of civilians. In July, the former Jakarta governor known as “Jokowi” defeated the U.S.-trained former army general Prabowo Subianto, who had been accused of mass killings when he headed the Indonesian special forces in the 1990s. While human rights groups hailed the defeat of Prabowo in July’s election, the new president is facing opposition for picking former Army Chief of Staff Ryamizard Ryacudu to be Indonesia’s new defense minister. Over the past decade, Ryamizard has defended the military’s actions in West Papua and Aceh and publicly claimed that civilians become legitimate army targets if they “dislike” army policy or have “the same voice” as anti-government rebels. We are joined from Indonesia by veteran investigative journalist Allan Nairn, whose dispatches shook up the presidential race when he reported on human rights abuses committed by Prabowo and the U.S.-trained general’s statement that Indonesia needs “a benign authoritarian regime” because the country was “not ready for democracy.” Nairn also discusses his latest major report, revealing that a top adviser to Indonesia’s new president has admitted “command responsibility” in the 2004 assassination of the country’s leading human rights activist, Munir Thalib.’ (Democracy Now!)

French Journalists Jailed in Indonesia’s Papua

From The Associated Press:

Valentine Bourrat, Thomas Dandois‘Two French television journalists were sentenced to two and a half months in jail Friday for illegal reporting in Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua.

Thomas Dandois, 40, and Valentine Bourrat, 29, were detained for tourist visa violation in August in Jayapura, the capital of Papua, after filming a documentary about separatist movement in a mountainous area of Wamena along with three suspected rebels.’

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West Papua: A no-go zone for foreign journalists

Al Jazeera reports:

‘[…] Since Indonesia took over the territory in 1963, the central government has restricted the access of journalists, activists, researchers, diplomats and aid workers. Conditions there can thus be difficult to discern from afar, but the province is known for its active independence movement; political prisoners, who are often jailed for raising the banned separatist flag; abuses by security forces; and the extreme poverty in which most Papuans live despite their homeland’s vast natural wealth.

While the government says journalists can travel freely in some parts of West Papua, as tourists can, reporters inquiring about political and human rights issues are routinely denied the permit required to enter. The policy amounts to a de facto ban on real reporting and is condemned by the United Nations, Western governments and human-rights organizations. Indonesia ranks 132nd on Reporters Without Borders’ latest World Press Freedom Index; the study specifically mentions West Papua, calling it a “forbidden area” where “the work of journalists is handicapped by draconian news control policies.”’

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‘Marlboro Boys’: Indonesia’s child smokers

From Dangerous Minds:

‘Canadian documentary photographer Michelle Siu records “vulnerable people and disenfranchised cultures.” In the past that has meant the First Nations people of Lake St. Martin in Manitoba, who have been displaced from their land by flooding, or the destruction wrought upon the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan. In her series, “Marlboro Boys,” the disaster is man-made.’

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Bill Clinton advised against visiting Indonesia and “interfering in its democratic affairs”

From news.com.au:

Former US president Bill Clinton‘Former US president Bill Clinton has been advised against visiting Indonesia and “interfering in its democratic affairs” by one of the parties contesting the nation’s election result. Mr Clinton is also scheduled to visit Australia as part of a tour for his charitable foundation this month, according to reports.

Hashim Djojohadikusumo, brother and spokesman for presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, says Mr Clinton should re-think his plans to stop in Indonesia. “We’d like president Clinton not to interfere in our democratic affairs,” he told reporters on Saturday.’

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Inside Indonesia’s Elections: The Burden of Brutal Global Neoliberalism

Ruben Rosenberg Colorni writes for CounterPunch:

‘Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation and archipelago on the planet, has climbed the ranks of global neo-liberalism to become the world’s 10th largest economy, as many newspapers announced on May 4, 2014. Within a few decades, the nation managed to increase its gross domestic product (GDP) at a fast and steady rate, primarily by exploiting and extracting its natural resources: timber, oil, coal, gold, and a myriad of other riches. The owners and managers of the country, however, have not succeeded in making substantive improvements in the standards of living of the population.

As the gap in wealth inequality continues to increase across Indonesia, the government lauds itself for allowing the destruction of the forests of Borneo, the mass palm monoculture in Sumatra, the strip-mining of the occupied territories of Papua, and the overfishing of the waters around Sulawesi. They pat themselves on the back while wrapped in the flag to justify their exploitation of people and resources for the sake of the progress of the Nation. On July 9, 2014, the country will choose a new president, but despite this change, the situation does not bode significant improvement.’

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Journalist Allan Nairn Threatened For Exposing Indonesian Presidential Candidate’s Role in Mass Killings

‘A former military strongman is running for president in Indonesia. The U.S.-trained Prabowo Subianto has been accused of extensive human rights abuses that took place in the 1990s when he was head of the country’s special forces. He was dismissed from the army in 1998 following accusations he was complicit in the abduction and torture of activists during political unrest in Jakarta that led to the ouster of long-time dictator Suharto. We go to Indonesia to speak with journalist and activist Allan Nairn, who is there to reveal the former general’s role in mass killings of civilians. In a new article that has caused an uproar in the county and prompted death threats, Nairn quotes from a 2001 interview he conducted with Prabowo, who said then, “You don’t massacre civilians in front of the world press … Indonesia is not ready for democracy.” He argued Indonesia needed “a benign authoritarian regime,” and added, “Do I have the guts, am I ready to be called a fascist dictator?” This coincides with outrage over the release of a music video made by Prabowo supporters showing them in Nazi-like uniforms.’ (Democracy Now!)

Nationalism takes centre stage in Indonesia’s election campaign

Rieka Rahadiana reports for Reuters:

CREDIT: REUTERS/BEAWIHARTADressed in the style of Indonesia’s first leader, even using replica 1950s microphones, presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto roared to thousands of supporters at a recent rally in the capital: “Indonesia cannot be bought”. It is a nationalistic tone that has been on the rise in campaigns by the major political parties ahead of elections to choose a parliament on April 9 and a new president on July 9.

The question of whether Indonesia is souring on the foreign money that helped bankroll much of its growth was thrust into the spotlight this year with a new law that aims to boost the country’s profits by banning the export of minerals unless they have been processed first. That threatens the fortunes of some of Indonesia’s biggest investors, notably two major U.S. mining companies with large operations in the country – Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold and Newmont Mining Corp.

To continue exporting, mining firms must now either pay 20-25 percent tax from this year, rising to up to 60 percent by the second half of 2016, or invest hundreds of millions of dollars on new smelters. The more prickly language, and its occasional echo of the jingoistic rhetoric of founding president Sukarno who famously told the United States in 1964 to “Go to hell with your aid!”, comes as record foreign direct investment looks to be peaking.

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Human Rights group calls on World Bank to acknowledge role in the mass killing of one million Indonesians

From the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN):

The Oscar-nominated documentary THE ACT OF KILLING was projected on the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. Thursday in an action by the East Timor and Indonesian Action Network.  The group is calling on the World Bank to acknowledge its role in the 1965 military coup in Indonesia that lead to the massacre of an estimated one million civilians. The World Bank helped prop up the corrupt government of Suharto, the general who lead the coup and ordered the mass killings. The Bank sent the Suharto regime $30 billion in development aid over the course of three decades despite knowing $10 billion had been looted by the government.

“THE ACT OF KILLING powerfully highlights the ongoing impunity within Indonesia for the 1965 mass murders,” said John M. Miller of the East Timor and Indonesian Action Network. “Tonight we highlight the World Bank’s support for the Suharto regime, which knowingly backed his corrupt government while his post-coup body count climbed. We urge the World Bank to acknowledge its role in Suharto’s many crimes and to apologize and provide reparations to the survivors. Institutions like the World Bank must also be held accountable for their financial assistance to the murderers and decades of support as they continued to violate human rights.”

“The World Bank gave $30 billion dollars to a dictator who killed an estimated one million of his own citizens,” said THE ACT OF KILLING filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer. “The murderers spent years profiting off of their heinous crimes with the World Bank and other global financial institutions footing the bill.”

THE ACT OF KILLING, currently Oscar-nominated for Best Documentary feature, has been recognized as one of the best films of 2014. The film has received over 60 awards including Best Documentary from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). While the mass killings of 1965 are an open secret in Indonesia, the government has never acknowledged or apologized for sponsoring the murders. THE ACT OF KILLING, which has been shown in thousands of private screenings and is available free online throughout Indonesia, is empowering victims’ families to demand reparations from the government for the first time.

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William Blum: Getting your history from Hollywood

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William Blum writes:

Imagine a documentary film about the Holocaust which makes no mention of Nazi Germany.

Imagine a documentary film about the 1965-66 slaughter of as many as a million “communists” in Indonesia which makes no mention of the key role in the killing played by the United States.

But there’s no need to imagine it. It’s been made, and was released this past summer. It’s called “The Act of Killing”and makes no mention of the American role. Two articles in the Washington Post about the film made no such mention either. The Indonesian massacre, along with the jailing without trial of about a million others and the widespread use of torture and rape, ranks as one of the great crimes of the twentieth century and is certainly well known amongst those with at least a modest interest in modern history.

Here’s an email I sent to the Washington Post writer who reviewed the film:

“The fact that you can write about this historical event and not mention a word about the US government role is a sad commentary on your intellect and social conscience. If the film itself omits any serious mention of the US role, that is a condemnation of the filmmaker, and of you for not pointing this out. So the ignorance and brainwashing of the American people about their country’s foreign policy (i.e., holocaust) continues decade after decade, thanks to media people like Mr. Oppenheimer [one of the filmmakers] and yourself.”

The Post reviewer, rather than being offended by my intemperate language, was actually taken with what I said and she asked me to send her an article outlining the US role in Indonesia, which she would try to get published in thePost as an op-ed. I did so and she wrote me that she very much appreciated what I had sent her. But – as I was pretty sure would happen – the Post did not print what I wrote. So this incident may have had the sole saving grace of enlightening a Washington Post writer about the journalistic standards and politics of her own newspaper.

And now, just out, we have the film “Long Walk to Freedom” based on Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography of the same name. The heroic Mandela spent close to 28 years in prison at the hands of the apartheid South African government. His arrest and imprisonment were the direct result of a CIA operation. But the film makes no mention of the role played by the CIA or any other agency of the United States.

In fairness to the makers of the film, Mandela himself, in his book, declined to accuse the CIA for his imprisonment, writing: “The story has never been confirmed and I have never seen any reliable evidence as to the truth of it.”

Well, Mr. Mandela and the filmmaker should read what I wrote and documented on the subject some years after Mandela’s book came out, in my own book: Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (2000). It’s not quite a “smoking gun”, but I think it convinces almost all readers that what happened in South Africa in 1962 was another of the CIA operations we’ve all come to know and love. And almost all my sources were available to Mandela at the time he wrote his autobiography. There has been speculation about what finally led to Mandela’s release from prison; perhaps a deal was made concerning his post-prison behavior.

From a purely educational point of view, seeing films such as the two discussed here may well be worse than not exposing your mind at all to any pop culture treatment of American history or foreign policy.

Documentary: The nightmare mining conditions behind our electronic goods

Indonesia Halts Military Cooperation over Australian Spying

From The IB Times:

Indonesia has suspended military and intelligence cooperation with Australia in an escalating diplomatic row sparked by reports that Canberra spied on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Yudhoyono ordered Indonesian security forces to halt joint military exercises, intelligence exchange and anti-people-smuggling operations with Australia until Canberra provided an official response to allegations that his phone, that of his wife and those of other senior government officials were tapped.

“It is not possibleto can continue our cooperation when we are still uncertain that there is no spying towards us,” Yudhoyono said.

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