Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners
Widodo has pledged to bring reform to Indonesia

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pleaded to Indonesia to stop the execution of prisoners on death row for drug crimes. AFP PHOTO

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person
The pope wrote that the principle of legitimate personal defense isn’t adequate justification to execute someone. Photograph: Zuma/Rex

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison   (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)
US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)
Woman who spent 23 years on US death row cleared (Photo: dpa)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Failed Suicide Bomber Attacks Catholic Church in Medan

Jakarta Globe, Farouk Arnaz & Donny Andhika Mononimbar, August 28, 2016

Police attend the scene in Medan on Sunday (28/08). (Antara Photo/Irsan Mulyadi)

Jakarta. A suicide bomb attempt at a Catholic church in Medan, North Sumatra, Sunday morning (28/08) has left the suspect with minor injuries after the bomb failed to detonate correctly.

Father Albert S. Pandingan was leading the Sunday service at Medan's St. Yoseph church when the suspect, identified as I.A.H., ran towards to pulpit and attempted to stab the priest. The bomb hidden in the suspect's vest failed to detonate, only creating sparks which injured the would-be attacker. The priest sustained only minor scratches to his arm.

I.A.H. is a 17-year-old student from Setia Budi in Medan Selayang, North Sumatra.

Members of the church congregation seized the suspect, who was carrying a knife, an axe and a pipe bomb in his backpack, before police arrived to clear and secure the venue.

“We have seized a back backpack from the perpetrator. The perpetrator is alive and injured and there are no casualties in this incident,” National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar told Beritasatu.

Boy also said police had found what a drawing that resembles the Islamic State flag. It remains unclear if the suspect is affiliated with a terror cell and police are investigating potential links.

In early July, a day before Idul Fitri celebrations, a suicide bomber targeted the Solo police headquarters but killed only himself.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

'Burkini' bans good for sales, says Australian designer

Yahoo – AFP, August 23, 2016

Australian-Lebanese designer Aheda Zanetti claims the trade mark on the name
burkini after creating her first swimwear for Muslim women more than a decade ago
(AFP Photo/Saeed Khan)

Burkini bans in France have boosted sales and interest in the full-bodied Islamic swimsuit, particularly from non-Muslim women, the Australian credited with creating the design said Tuesday.

The burkini has sparked huge controversy in France, with bans in 15 towns in the country's southeast amid high tensions following a string of deadly jihadist attacks.

But Australian-Lebanese Aheda Zanetti, who claims the trademark on the name burkini and burqini and created her first swimwear for Muslim women more than a decade ago, said the furore in France has attracted more publicity for her products.

"It's just been so hectic," she told AFP.

"I can tell you that online on Sunday, we received 60 orders -- all of them non-Muslim," the 48-year-old Sydneysider said, adding that she usually received 10 to 12 orders on Sundays.

Islamic clothing and the French position on their use in public (AFP 

Zanetti did not have sales figures for the rest of the past week but said she had also received numerous messages of support -- and only one disparaging email -- since the French bans.

They include messages from cancer survivors and other swimmers who use her light-weight, quick-drying two-piece garments as protection from the sun.

There are other Islamic swimsuits but Zanetti has said her designs are the first to be streamlined into two-piece swimwear with a head covering.

"A lot of the correspondence... was that they are survivors of skin cancer and they've always been looking for something like this, saying, 'Thank god we've found someone like this producing such a swimsuit'," she said.

"The support I'm getting is somehow about empowering women... I feel like I've been a counsellor. It's a cry of need that they want to have this enjoyment.

Muslim models display burkini swimsuits in Sydney where burkinis are generally
accepted as a means of covering up on the beach (AFP Photo/Saeed Khan)

"Women are standing together on this. It doesn't matter what race or religion."

She said the one critical email questioned why Zanetti wanted to cover up women in France, noting "we prefer our women to be naked".

Australia is grappling with a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment after a series of attacks by radicalised youth but the burkini has not attracted strong criticism in a country where people regularly cover up at beaches to protect their skin under the harsh sun.

While there are divisions over the burkini in France, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday dismissed the idea of a ban in his country, saying Canadians should rise above the controversy as he called for the respect of individual rights and choices.

Some lawmakers in Canada's Quebec province have called for outlawing "burkinis"
-- body-concealing Islamic swimsuits -- following bans in at least 15 towns in
France's southeast (AFP Photo/Fethi Belaid)

Related Articles:

France's top court suspends burkini ban - New
Canada's Justin Trudeau defends the burkini

German state lifts headscarf ban for public school teachers

Dutch cabinet backs partial Islamic burqa ban
Police Change Rules on Female Recruits Wearing Headscarves

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration LecturesGod / CreatorReligions/Spiritual systems  (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it),  Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse),  Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) (Text version)

“.   New Tolerance

Look for a softening of finger pointing and an awakening of new tolerance. There will remain many systems for different cultures, as traditions and history are important to sustaining the integrity of culture. So there are many in the Middle East who would follow the prophet and they will continue, but with an increase of awareness. It will be the increase of awareness of what the prophet really wanted all along - unity and tolerance. The angel in the cave instructed him to "unify the tribes and give them the God of Israel." You're going to start seeing a softening of intolerance and the beginning of a new way of being.

Eventually, this will create an acknowledgement that says, "You may not believe the way we believe, but we honor you and your God. We honor our prophet and we will love you according to his teachings. We don't have to agree in order to love." How would you like that? The earth is not going to turn into one belief system. It never will, for Humans don't do that. There must be variety, and there must be the beauty of cultural differences. But the systems will slowly update themselves with increased awareness of the truth of a new kind of balance. So that's the first thing. Watch for these changes, dear ones. ...."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rio 2016: Mixed Doubles Tontowi and Liliyana Present Gold on Independence Day

Jakarta Globe, Amal Ganesha, August 18, 2016

Indonesian gold medalists, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, pose as if
biting their medals. (Reuters Photo/Mike Blake)

Jakarta. Indonesia has finally secured its first gold at Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016 after badminton's mixed doubles pair Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir crushed Malaysia's Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon, in a victory dubbed as the best "gift" for the country's independence day on August 17.

Tontowi and Liliyana won in a straight game of 21-14 and 21-12, dominantly attacking with typical high speed tempo and powerful smashes, making the Malaysians seemed inferior to the world's number three before closing the game in less than one hour.

Supported by more than 100 Indonesian fans dressed in red and white and banging noisemaker sticks, the hyper-aggressive Tontowi repeatedly smashed through Goh and Chan's defenses, with Lilyana almost impregnable at the net.

Malaysia have waited 52 years for an Olympic champion in badminton, but their hopes of breaking the drought were extinguished by the rampant Indonesian pair.

Badminton - Mixed Doubles - Gold Medal Match

Good Teamwork

The Indonesian pair showed tactical advantages with good task specialization on the field. Liliyana covered at front with her unique intercept smashes and flat balls, as Tontowi covered the back with his powerful jump smashes and lobs.

The Malaysians were mostly overwhelmed by Tontowi's smashes from the back, as well as his clever drop-shots -- which were equally effective.

In the first set, Tontowi and Liliyana went very aggressive, leaving their opponents 10 points behind whilst the game just reached 15 minutes. They finished the first set with a confident 21-14.

The Malaysians had then surrendered the second set meekly with only 12 points, with Goh netting on the final point and triggered frenetic celebrations for the Indonesians around the arena.

Badminton - Mixed Doubles - Gold Medal Match

Speaking after the game, Liliyana expressed her relief after the high pressure she received during the Olympics.

"I still couldn't believe it [the gold], this is the gold for Indonesia's independence day," she said. "I want to take a break and enjoy this win first. Honestly, there has been high pressure on us during this [Olympic] event."

The pair will be granted Rp 5 billion ($380,000) bonus after the gold, as Tontowi said he will use it for his children.

"This is the most beautiful gift, thanks to all coaches!" Tontowi said after the game. "I never think of it [the bonus], but yes, I want to save it for my kids."

Badminton - Mixed Doubles - Gold Medal Match

Chan and Goh were philosophical about the loss, having enjoyed an excellent tournament in which they upset the reigning Chinese champions in the semi-finals.

"I feel this is tremendous for our country, because not one single Malaysian pair has won any medal in the mixed doubles, so we have already made history," said Goh.

First Gold For Mixed Doubles

Indonesia's badminton's mixed doubles had never achieved gold in previous Olympics, as the current victory marked its first, the federation chairman revealed.

"20 years in the making: 1st mixed doubles Olympic gold for Indonesia. Special for Indonesia's 71 anniversary," Indonesia badminton federation PBSI chairman Gita Wirjawan cheered via his Twitter account after the win.

The tradition of gold from badminton was often earned from men's doubles, with last achieved by Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, Tontowi and Liliyana's victory has indeed been all sorts of the first.

Beside the badminton's gold medal, Indonesia also earns two silvers from weightlifting after Sri Wahyuni Agustiani and Eko Yuli Irawan came in second in their respective classes.

Indonesia has sent 28 athletes from seven sports to compete in Rio Olympics, with most coming from badminton. The country's only chance to add more medals now lies in the hands of BMX rider Toni Syarifudin, who has just started his race.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Free Tours Offered at State Palace Art Exhibition to Attract Visitors

Jakarta Globe, Eko Prasetyo, August 04, 2016

Visitors admire a painting by famous Indonesian artist Raden Saleh titled 'The
Capture of Prince Diponegoro, 1857,' which is currently on display as part of the
State Palace Art Exhibition at the National Gallery in Jakarta. The exhibition
titled '17/71: Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan' ('Painting the Struggles of
Independence') is open to the public during August. (Antara Photo/Dodo Karundeng)

Jakarta. The State Palace Art Exhibition organizing committee will provide a series of guided tours for visitors in order to provide more detailed information on the artworks included in this year's exhibit, titled "17|71: Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan" ("Painting the Struggles of Independence").

According to a State Palace statement, tours are scheduled for every Sunday during August, free of charge, at the National Gallery in Jakarta, where the exhibition is currently taking place.

Visitors will be guided by a curator accompanied by experts, including historian Peter Carey, journalist Aryo Wisanggeni, National Gallery director Tubagus Andre Sukmana, Jakarta Art Institute lecturer Citra Smara Dewi and prominent art critic Agus Dermawan.

The official 90-minute tour will take place during two sessions at 10.00 a.m. and 13.30 p.m., respectively. Visitors are expected to arrive on time and follow all regulations.

The subjects to be presented each week are as follows:

Week 1 – Aug. 7: Why did Soekarno collect artworks?

Week 2 – Aug. 14: State Palace policies on artwork collections and exhibitions.

Week 3 – Aug. 21: Themes, styles and types of artworks collected by the State Palace.

Week 4 – Aug. 28: Inventory, catalogues, conservation and publicizing of exhibitions, book publishing, as well as legal aspects.

During each tour, visitors will also be shown rare books collected by former President Soekarno.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Indonesia executes foreign convicts despite protests

Yahoo – AFP, Muhammad Azka, July 28, 2016

Indonesian men light candles during an anti-execution rally in front of the
presidential palace in Jakarta on July 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)

Cilacap (Indonesia) (AFP) - Indonesia Friday executed four drug convicts, three of them foreigners, by firing squad, an official said, drawing swift condemnation as Jakarta pushes on with its tough campaign of capital punishment.

Ten others expected to have faced the firing squad, including nationals from Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe as well as Indonesians, were not put to death but officials said they would be executed at a later stage.

Authorities did not give a reason for the reprieve, but the prison island where they were expected to be executed in outdoor clearings was hit by a major storm as the other sentences were carried out.

The executions, which saw an Indonesian and three Nigerians face the firing squad, were the first in the country since April last year when authorities put to death eight drug convicts, including two Australians.

President Joko Widodo has defended dramatically ramping up the use of capital punishment, saying that Indonesia is fighting a war on drugs and traffickers must be heavily punished.

Noor Rachmad, deputy attorney general for general crimes, said the latest executions were "done not in order to take lives but to stop evil intentions, and the evil act of drug trafficking".

He added that "the rest (of the executions) will be carried out in stages", saying that the timings had not yet been decided.

Amnesty International condemned the executions, with the group's Rafendi Djamin labelling them "a deplorable act".

"Any executions that are still to take place must be halted immediately. The injustice already done cannot be reversed, but there is still hope that it won't be compounded," he said.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the European Union had also voiced opposition to the plan in recent days.

Friday's executions, which happened at 12:45 am (1745 GMT Thursday), came after a day of frenetic activity, with distraught relatives travelling to Nusakambangan island to say farewells to their loved ones and ambulances carrying coffins over to the heavily guarded penal colony.

Relatives carry photographs of Pakistani national Zulfiqar Ali, who was 
sentenced to death in 2005 for heroin possession in Indonesia, during a 
protest in Lahore on July 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/Arif Ali)

Execution drive

The executed Indonesian was named as Freddy Budiman, while the three Nigerians were: Seck Osmane, Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke and Michael Titus Igweh.

Eleweke's lawyer, Afif Abdul Qoyim, told AFP the execution should not have gone ahead as his client this week filed a legal appeal.

"When this process in not respected, that means that this is no longer a country that upholds the law, nor human rights," he said.

Two people whose cases had raised high-profile international concern among rights groups were not executed.

The first was Pakistani Zulfiqar Ali, whom rights groups say was beaten into confessing to the crime of heroin possession, leading to his 2005 death sentence.

Syed Zahid Raza, the deputy Pakistani ambassador in Indonesia, hailed his reprieve as a victory and said it was due to diplomatic efforts in Jakarta and Islamabad.

The other was Indonesian woman Merri Utami, who was caught with heroin in her bag as she came through Jakarta airport and claims she was duped into becoming a drug mule.

At Cilacap, the city closest to Nusakambangan, family members were initially shocked to learn on Thursday morning their relatives would be executed in a matter of hours, having initially thought it would take place a day later.

Some distressed relatives protested their loved ones' innocence, while 10 women's rights activists rallying in support of Utami were detained.

It was the third batch of executions under Widodo, and means 18 drug convicts -- mostly foreigners -- have been put to death since he became leader in 2014.

His execution drive has shocked the international community and disappointed activists, particularly as hopes were high that Widodo, seen as a fresh face in a political world dominated by figures from Indonesia's authoritarian past, would improve the country's rights record.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Australian couple to raffle tropical island resort

Yahoo – AFP, July 25, 2016

An Australian couple are raffling their tropical resort on a remote Micronesian island,
hoping whoever holds the winning US$49 ticket loves warm weather (AFP Photo/
Claudine Wery)

Sydney (AFP) - An Australian couple are raffling their tropical island resort and say they hope whoever holds the winning US$49 ticket loves warm weather.

Doug and Sally Beitz moved to the remote Micronesian island of Kosrae in the 1990s, but now want to return to Australia to enjoy being grandparents.

Instead of selling their 16-room Kosrae Nautilus Resort to a corporate bidder, they have made it the first prize in a raffle -- to be drawn on Tuesday with tickets at US$49 each.

"We've tried to market it in a way where we are attracting people like ourselves," Doug Beitz told AFP on Monday.

The former firefighter said he was hoping the winner would be "someone who likes warm weather, likes meeting new people from around the world, is adventurous".

"It's a big life change," he admits of living on the tropical island, which lies north of the Solomon Islands and southwest of Hawaii and is home to about 6,500 people.

The competition website says the resort, which is popular for diving and fishing, is debt-free and profitable, and has US$10,000 cash in the business bank account.

The prize includes the manager's four-bedroom residence, five rental cars, two 10-seater vans, a pick-up truck and the resort restaurant, it adds.

The Beitz family originally said a minimum of 50,000 tickets would need to be sold for the contest to go ahead but they removed this requirement after the raffle began attracting global interest.

Doug and Sally's son Adam said it was his idea to stage a raffle to allow someone else the chance to live in paradise and run their own business.

"Everyone has crazy ideas, this one just wouldn't leave me alone," he told Australia's Channel 7 earlier this month.

"The thought of selling it in a traditional way is really boring."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

International People's Tribunal Declares Indonesia Responsible for 1965-1966 Mass Killings

The military-backed purge against Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and their sympathizers paved the way for the rise of former President Suharto's New Order regime. (Antara/M Agung Rajasa)

Jakarta Globe, Edo Karensa, July 21, 2016

Jakarta. The International People’s Tribunal in the Hague declared on Wednesday (20/07) that Indonesia was responsible for committing crimes against humanity during the 1965-1966 mass killings which killed between 500,000 to one million suspected communists.

The military-backed purge against Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and their sympathizers paved the way for the rise of former President Suharto's New Order regime.

The final verdict of an international panel of judges stated Indonesia must be held accountable for ten gross human rights violations that happened in 1965-1966, including genocide against members, followers and sympathizers of the PKI and supporters of President Soekarno as well as members of the Indonesian National Party, or PNI.

“The State of Indonesia is responsible for and guilty of crimes against humanity consequent upon the commission and perpetration, particularly by the military of that state through its chain of command, of the inhumane acts,” presiding judge Zak Yacoob stated in the final report released on Wednesday.

Besides mass killings, the other gross human rights violations committed by the state according to the tribunal were destruction, imprisonment, slavery, torture, forced disappearance, sexual violence, banishment, false propaganda, international complicity and genocide.

“All these acts were an integral part of a broad widespread systematic attack against the Indonesian Communist Party, its affiliate organizations, its leaders, members and supporters and their families,” Yacoob said, adding that the attacks were started with false propaganda.

According to Yacoob, the state is ultimately responsible for the inhumane actions of the military and its henchmen. “The State of Indonesia also failed to prevent the perpetration of these inhumane acts or to punish those responsible for their commission. To the extent that some crimes were committed independently of the authorities, by so-called “spontaneous” local action, this did not absolve the State from the obligation to prevent their occurrence and to punish those responsible,” he said.

Indonesia must apologize

At the end of the statement, Yacoob read a series of recommendations which called on the Indonesian government to “apologize to all victims, survivors and their families for all the crimes against humanity and other crimes committed in Indonesia in relation to the 1965 events.”

The recommendations also included a call to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes and ensure appropriate compensation and reparation to victims and survivors.

The tribunal also urged all relevant authorities to push for the government to act swiftly to resolve the longstanding problem. Specifically, the Attorney General should follow up a report released by the National Commission of Human Rights in 2012 which recommended investigations into grave violations of human rights during the Communist pogrom.

The tribunal also demanded the government rehabilitate surviving victims of the purge, prevent further persecution against them by the authorities and protect all their rights as guaranteed by international and Indonesian law.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Amnesty Considered for Members of Santoso's Group: Chief Security Minister

Jakarta Globe, Robertus Wardi, July 21, 2016

Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the government may offer amnesty to
 the remaining members of the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) after the death of
its leader Santoso in a shootout with soldiers and police in Poso, Central Sulawesi
earlier this week. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)

Jakarta. The government may offer amnesty to the remaining members of the East Indonesia Mujahidin, or MIT, after the death of its leader Santoso in a shootout with soldiers and police in Poso, Central Sulawesi earlier this week.

The National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) are currently hunting for another 19 group members of the group and the amnesty will be offered if they surrender and refrain from putting up any resistance.

"If they would come out from the mountains, we will consider [giving them amnesty]. They are also Indonesian citizens," Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said in Jakarta on Thursday (21/07).

Luhut said that while the 19 remaining members are known to still be in the Poso region, the amnesty could be a preferred option to get them to surrender.

This option is realistic, as it will not require additional state expenses to look for the remaining members of the group and that it will also save their lives.

"It does not mean that we cannot adopt a tough approach. Santoso was killed for not responding to the soft approach," Luhut said.

Police carry a body bag at a local hospital in Palu, Indonesia's Sulawesi province,
on July 19, 2016, after a firefight between suspected Muslim extremists and
security forces in the village of Tambarana (AFP Photo/Olagondronk)

Related Article:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Indonesia's most wanted Islamist militant killed

Yahoo – AFP, Olivia Rondonuwu, Dessy Sagita, July 19, 2016

Police carry a body bag at a local hospital in Palu, Indonesia's Sulawesi province,
on July 19, 2016, after a firefight between suspected Muslim extremists and
security forces in the village of Tambarana (AFP Photo/Olagondronk)

Indonesia's most wanted Muslim extremist has been killed in a firefight with troops, authorities said Tuesday, ending a years-long hunt for the Islamic State (IS) group supporter.

Santoso, the leader of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen, was shot dead on Monday on mountainous Sulawesi island, where he had been hiding out in the jungle with a small band of followers.

His death is a major victory for authorities in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country who had pursued the extremist for five years, sending thousands of security forces to hunt for him.

His group carried out a string of deadly attacks on domestic security forces and was known for training militants from around the archipelago. In 2014 he pledged allegiance to IS and earlier this year was placed by the United States on a list of global terrorists.

"The group is obviously weakened now that we have got the leader," national police chief Tito Karnavian told reporters, as he confirmed the militant's death.

He said the country's extremists had wanted to transform Sulawesi's Poso district, where Santoso and his followers were based, into a "safe haven" and a regional power base.

"With this group broken, their hope for a base there is gone," he added.

After Indonesia suffered a string of Islamic extremist attacks in the early 2000s, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed more than 200, authorities launched a crackdown that weakened the most dangerous networks.

But Santoso's group remained a thorn in the side of the government, with the long-haired, gun-toting militant regularly appearing in videos urging extremists to launch attacks on the security forces.

After Indonesia suffered a string of Islamic extremist attacks in the early 2000s, 
authorities launched a crackdown that was credited with weakening the most
dangerous networks (AFP Photo)

Significant blow

The picture has changed recently, with other cells now considered a greater threat -- Santoso was not believed to have played role in an IS-claimed attack in Jakarta in January that left four attackers and four civilians dead.

But his death will still be seen as a significant blow to Islamic militancy in Indonesia.

The extremist, known by several aliases including Abu Wardah, was killed alongside one other militant in Tambarana village in Poso.

Police said the pair were killed beside a river and a rifle was recovered. Two women, one of whom was suspected to be Santoso’s wife, and another man, escaped from the gunfight.

Following a sustained campaign by security forces, authorities believe just 19 members of Santoso's group now remain on Sulawesi waging a guerrilla campaign against the government.

Santoso also attracted militants from abroad, with several members of China's mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority travelling to Indonesia to join his group.

Several were killed fighting with the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen, and in July last year four Uighurs were jailed after being caught on Sulawesi attempting to join the group.

Santoso became involved in Islamic extremism during bloody fighting between Muslims and Christians around Poso from the late 1990s to the early 2000s which left hundreds dead.

He went on to form the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen and quickly jumped to the top of the most wanted list after his men began killing police officers.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Horseback library serves Indonesia's remote readers

Yahoo – AFP, Nick Perry, July 15, 2016

Children sort through books on a shelf hanging from Luna the horse in Serang,
Indonesia's main island of Java (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

Astride his white mare, a wide-brimmed hat shielding his eyes, Ridwan Sururi looks more cowboy than librarian as he winds towards the hilltop village, his horse Luna saddled with books.

Their arrival sends ripples of excitement through Serang, a quiet hamlet fringed by rice fields and a volcano on Indonesia's main island of Java.

"The horse library!" children shriek, sprinting towards the mosque where Luna is tethered. Slung over her saddle are two handmade wooden boxes filled with books.

Ridwan Sururi, who runs a mobile library
 on horseback, selects books for villagers
to read in Serang (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)
For many there, this unique mobile library is their only link to books. There is no traditional library nearby, and stores are miles away in big cities. It's a problem for villages across the sprawling Indonesian archipelago.

Sururi, a 43-year-old professional horse groomer, devised a unique way to encourage reading in his district.

Armed with Luna, one of several horses under his care, and about 100 books donated from a friend, Sururi began road-testing his novel mobile library in early 2015, unsure if it would succeed.

It was a huge hit. In no time, the father of four was fielding requests from schools and villages further afield, eager crowds greeting him on arrival.

"The kids are always waiting for my horse and I," Sururi told AFP.

"Sometimes they even form a queue, waiting a very long time just to borrow a book."

Broadening horizons

In Serang, enthusiastic youngsters flick through picture books, young adult titles and even some classics in English.

Some shyly pet Luna while waiting their turn to browse. Sururi believes the gentle nature of his six-year-old mare helps attract children, and pique an early interest in the books.

For many in Serang, this unique mobile library is their only link to books 
(AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

"The horse makes me happy," said 10-year-old Arif, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, before settling in to read a book titled "Wild Animals".

But it's not just children discovering a love for reading via this charitable community library.

Adults are almost just as enthusiastic, many pausing work and emerging from their homes as Sururi and Luna pass through the narrow lanes of one village.

Seventeen-year-old Warianti, perusing titles alongside her elderly mothers, said villagers of all ages benefited from Sururi's visits, as most did not have time to source books elsewhere.

"The horse library helps increase the knowledge of local women through reading," she told AFP.

Adult literacy rates in Indonesia have climbed steadily in recent years, reaching nearly 96 percent in 2013, according to data from the ministry of education.

But some provinces remain far behind others. Central Java, where Sururi makes his rounds, is lagging in the bottom third nationwide.

Nearly five percent -- or close to one million -- adults in this mainly rural province remain illiterate. Sururi is aware of this, growing up in Central Java without access to a great deal of books.

But the altruistic stable hand never underestimated the importance of reading, leading to his free-of-charge mobile book loaning service.

"That's the aim of the horse library, so that everyone can broaden their horizons, gain knowledge, become more intelligent," he said.

Sense of pride

Outside his simple home, Sururi has cleared an area where he dreams of building a permanent library, one stocked with many books and -- perhaps one day -- a computer.

Nearly 5% -- or close to one million -- adults in mainly rural Central Java
province remain illiterate (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

But for now, everything is done by hand. The spines of all books are clearly labelled with a code for identification, and he keeps meticulous records so books are returned on time.

Like a conventional library, books can be borrowed free of charge but cannot be loaned forever.

In Serang, Sururi checks his notebook and tells one boy he needs to first return an outstanding title before loaning another. The young student sprints off home, returning a short while later clutching the forgotten item, relieved to see his pick of choice remains untouched on the shelf.

Once the flurry of borrowing is over, the children settle down in small circles, bearing their new books with pride as Sururi packs up for another week.

Soon the air is filled with the sound of dozens of children reading aloud, older pupils helping their younger friends with difficult words or phrases.

"When I see kids chasing my horse I feel so proud," Sururi said.

"I feel like I'm needed, and that's hugely satisfying."

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Kate Bush fans re-enact Wuthering Heights in Australia

Yahoo – AFP, July 16, 2016

Kate Bush fans gather to rehearse a dance before performing during a
celebration to mark 'The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever', in Melbourne, on
July 16, 2016 (AFP Photo/Paul Crock)

Melbourne (AFP) - Thousands of Kate Bush fans put on their best billowy red dresses and danced en masse in Melbourne Saturday to one of the singer's most iconic songs Wuthering Heights.

They donned matching red stockings and black wigs to mark The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever -- a re-enactment of the British star's classic 1978 debut music video in which she pirouettes and cartwheels in a misty field.

Bush's distinctive voice and performance-art–style videos gained a global cult following and in 2013 theatre group Shambush gathered nearly 300 Kate Bushes to recreate her iconic frolic in the English city of Brighton.

This inspired the Melbourne event, which has taken on a life of its own with similar dances also planned Saturday in 21 cities around the world, coordinator Douglas Leitch said, including Berlin, Oslo, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

"The whole idea really is just to get toregether and have fun and do our unique interpretation of the dance," the 44-year-old, who had an overwhelming response after advertising the day on Facebook, told AFP.

Kate Bush fans rehearse a dance before performing during a celebration to 
mark 'The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever', in Melbourne, on July 16, 2016
(AFP Photo/Paul Crock)

He said at least 800 dresses had been bought for the occasion, with dance classes booked out across Melbourne as people prepared. Organisers on Saturday estimated around 2,000 people, young and old, took part.

"It is such a unique song from a unique artist. It resonates with people and that's why it's lasted," added Leitch.

"I don't know if Kate knows it's happening, because she's a bit of a recluse, but I'm sure she might."

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