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Police Chief Tito Karnavian has said that about AU$7.65 million was spent on security for the rallies to “defend Islam” on 4 November and 2 December. But as Ihsan Ali-Fauzi writes, these material costs are only part of the picture. Of far greater significance is that the protests have eroded the foundations of democracy and undermined the influence of “moderate” Muslim leaders.

What is the political and religious significance of the massive protest to “defend Islam” in Central Jakarta on 2 December? Does the huge turnout indicate a hardening of mainstream Muslim attitudes in Indonesia? Associate Professor Greg Fealy presents a comprehensive analysis of the events of 2 December and their consequences for Indonesian democracy.

Rising incomes and easy access to credit have resulted in huge growth in the number of motorcycles on Indonesian roads. But poor attention to and enforcement of road laws has also seen a spike in traffic fatalities. The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 100 people die on Indonesian roads every day. Dr Tim Brickell examines this growing and largely preventable problem.

Indonesia has taken a leading role in the promotion of human rights at the level of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To what extent does the development of regional mechanisms mean that human rights are accepted in the region? How does Indonesia’s support for a regional mechanism relate to its domestic human rights challenges? Dr Ken Setiawan discusses these issues and more with Associate Professor Dinna Wisnu in Talking Indonesia this week.

Dr Budi Hernawan has analysed 431 cases of torture that occurred in Papua between 1963 and 2010. He writes that although torture is generally considered a hidden crime, in Papua it is performed for an audience, sometimes spectacularly, and is designed to convey a message of terror from state authorities to the Papuan public. It is part of a larger strategy of domination by the Indonesian state, he says, in which the practice of torture is sanctioned and part of policy.

Professor Tim Lindsey examines the blasphemy allegations against Jakarta Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama. He writes that the case reveals two problems at the heart of Indonesian democracy: the rise of religious intolerance among Indonesia’s Muslim majority and the manipulation of that intolerance by the small group of elite politicians who dominate Indonesian politics.

Police declared Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, a suspect for blasphemy last week, following major protests from hard-line religious groups. How has the 1965 Blasphemy Law been used in democratic Indonesia? What type of behaviour is typically deemed blasphemous? Is Ahok likely to receive a fair trial? We spoke to Dr Melissa Crouch, who has published widely on the Blasphemy Law, about these questions and more.

On 16 November, police declared Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, a suspect for blasphemy over a speech he made in which he quoted a verse from the Qur’an. Why have Ahok’s comments provoked such an intense reaction in Indonesia, and what can we learn from this case about the position of non-Muslims and ethnic Chinese Indonesians in Indonesian democracy? Dr Dave McRae speaks to Dr Nadirsyah Hosen about the case.

Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration to the United States made him a deeply unpopular figure in Indonesia. In the days since his surprise election victory, Indonesians have been struggling to come to terms with what a Trump presidency might mean for their country and the region. We take a look at how the Indonesian media greeted Trump’s win.

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, faces accusations of blasphemy over a speech in which he quoted a verse from the Qur’an. The hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has said it will continue to protest until Ahok is taken to court. Lies Marcoes examines the verse in detail, and writes that views on whether Ahok was at fault are largely dependent on how the Qur’an is interpreted.

The Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) is in desperate need of reform. But recent attempts to revise the code have faltered, as lawmakers have become bogged down in debates over the wording of specific articles. Hal Tilemann writes that the significant progress made by the national legislature in its discussion of the new draft code is cause for cautious optimism.

Indonesia has been praised for its relatively smooth transition from authoritarianism to democracy, especially in light of the dashed hopes of the Arab Spring. But the journey has not been easy. Dr Dewi Fortuna Anwar reflects on what Indonesia has achieved in the two decades since the start of the reformasi movement that led to the fall of Soeharto.

While Indonesia has seen a decline in state violence since the collapse of the New Order, non-state violence, particularly toward minorities, appears to have increased. This has contributed to restriction of civil liberties, and poses challenges for democratic reform. In Talking Indonesia this week, Dr Ken Setiawan chats to Dr Budi Hernawan about the shrinking space for civil liberties.

Last week, Indonesia at Melbourne spoke to former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mahfud MD during a visit to Melbourne Law School. In this Q&A, Mahfud reflects on a number of the controversial cases that came before the court during his tenure, as well as prospects for anti-corruption and bureaucratic reform under President Joko Widodo.

Last week, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) released a report confirming what many in the human rights community had suspected for years – members of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) have been embezzling public funds. Dr Ken Setiawan looks at the factors within Komnas HAM that have allowed this to occur.

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