Indonesia Deploys Fighter Jets, Warships To Disputed Waters In China Spat

 

 

Indonesia has deployed fighter jets and warships to patrol islands near the disputed South China Sea, the military said Wednesday, escalating tensions with Beijing after a diplomatic spat over “trespassing” Chinese vessels.

President Joko Widodo also headed Wednesday to the fishing-rich waters around the Natuna Islands, which border the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China despite competing claims from other Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

The Indonesian military said it had deployed eight warships and four jet fighters ahead of Widodo’s visit in an apparent bid to assert its sovereignty over the region.

“I have said many times Natuna is our sovereign territory,” Widodo told reporters.

“There is nothing to be debated…I hope this is clear.”

A Chinese coast guard vessel was spotted in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone Wednesday, the government said.

“We have deployed eight warships,” said Navy spokesman Fajar Tri Rohadi.

The air force said fighter jets had also been deployed.

“(But) our personnel have been told that we are not going to make provocations but rather protect our territory,” said Air Commodore Ronny Irianto Moningka.

China’s foreign ministry downplayed the incident and said there was “no dispute over territorial sovereignty” between Beijing and Jakarta — though the two have “overlapping claims for maritime rights” in the South China Sea.

Indonesia does not lay claim in the South China Sea but said it would not tolerate incursions by China — a key trading partner — into its nearby waters.

“We are willing to continue to properly handle differences with Indonesia,” said spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

“China and Indonesia have always maintained communication through diplomatic channels on this matter,” Geng said.

Indonesia’s move to send in warships follows the deployment on Friday of around 600 personnel from the navy, army and air force to Natuna as the military launched what it called a regular patrol to secure the area due to the presence of foreign vessels in Indonesian waters.

Jakarta said it would also send hundreds of fishermen to the area to keep an eye out for foreign vessels.

That followed Indonesia summoning the Chinese ambassador last week and lodging a “strong protest” over a Chinese coast guard vessel escorting Chinese fishing boats around the islands in mid-December.

Beijing responded that it has “historic rights” in the region and that fishing boats had been carrying out “legal and reasonable” activities.

Beijing lays claim to huge swathes of the South China Sea, where it is accused of building military installations and artificial islands — and ramming fishing vessels.

China claims the majority of the resource-rich waterway through the so-called nine-dash line, a vague delineation based on maps from the 1940s as the then Republic of China snapped up islands from Japanese control.

Nine Dead After Indonesian Capital Hit By New Year Flooding

 

 

Nine people died after Indonesia’s capital was hit by its deadliest flooding in years, authorities said Wednesday, as torrential rains on New Year’s Eve left vast swathes of the megalopolis submerged.

Electricity was switched off in hundreds of waterlogged neighbourhoods across greater Jakarta, home to about 30 million people, with some train lines and one of the city’s airports also shut.

A 16-year-old was electrocuted by a power line, while three more people died of hypothermia said Jakarta disaster management agency head Subejo.

“We’re hoping that the floodwaters will recede, but if the rain keeps up it’ll continue,” said the official, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

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Among the victims was an elderly couple trapped inside their home in a district where floodwaters reached as high as four metres (13 feet) after a river burst its banks.

Another victim drowned while four people were killed after the Tuesday evening downpour triggered landslides in the city’s outskirts.

“We have shut down power (in many areas) to avoid more electrical shocks,” Ikhsan Asaad, an official at state firm PLN, told AFP.

Asaad said he could not estimate how many residents had been affected by the power shutdown.

“We’re currently focusing on taking measures to ensure people’s safety,” he added

Authorities said about 13,000 people were evacuated, but that figure did not include residents in Jakarta’s satellite cities.

“We’re evacuating people right now,” Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan told reporters.

“Everyone living near rivers should anticipate (more) flooding,” he added.

Images from across the region showed waterlogged homes and cars submerged in muddy floodwaters, while some people took to paddling in small rubber lifeboats or tyre inner-tubes to get around.

The disaster marked Jakarta’s worst flooding since 2013 when several dozen people were killed when the city was inundated by monsoon rains.

Jakarta is regularly hit by floods during Indonesia’s rainy season, which started in late November.

On Wednesday, service at Halim Perdanakusuma airport, which handles commercial and military planes, was temporarily shut due to severe flooding on its runways, according to the transport ministry.

Many flights were transferred to Jakarta’s main Soekarno–Hatta International Airport.

Suspected IS Radical Stabs Indonesian Security Minister

 

A suspected IS radical stabbed Indonesia’s chief security minister Wiranto as he was stepping out of a vehicle Thursday, leaving two deep wounds in his stomach and injuring three others in the attack, officials said.

Television images showed security officers wrestling a man and a woman to the ground outside a university in Pandeglang on Java island after the attack on the 72-year-old, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

“Someone approached and attacked him,” National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo, adding that the couple had been arrested.

Berkah Hospital spokesman Firmansyah said the former military general suffered “two deep wounds” in his stomach and may need surgery, but was conscious and in stable condition.

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Wiranto was later rushed by helicopter to the capital Jakarta.

The other three victims — a local police chief and two aides — had non-life threatening injuries, the hospital said.

The suspects were identified as 31-year-old Syahril Alamsyah and Fitri Andriana, 21. Police said Alamsyah had been “exposed to ISIL radicalism”, without elaborating.

It was not immediately clear if either were members of one of the dozens of radical groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation.

The attack comes just over a week before President Joko Widodo kicks off a second term after his April re-election.

In May, police said Wiranto and three other top officials were targeted in a failed assassination plot linked to deadly riots in Jakarta after Widodo’s victory.

A group of six people — arrested before they could carry out the killings — planned to murder the officials and an election pollster in a bid to plunge the country into chaos, police said at the time.

Wiranto, the former chief of the armed forces and a failed presidential candidate, is a major figure in Indonesian politics.

He has long been accused of human-rights violations and for crimes against humanity linked to violence following East Timor’s 1999 independence referendum.

Indonesia Shuts Internet Over Unrest Fears

Papuan students taking part in a rally push toward a line of police and military blocking them in front of the army’s headquarters in Jakarta on August 22, 2019, as riots and demonstrations have brought several cities in Indonesia’s eastern province of Papua to a standstill this week.
PHOTO: BAY ISMOYO / AFP

Indonesia has blocked internet access in unrest-hit Papua over fears that a stream of offensive and racists posts online will spark more violent protests in the region, the government said Thursday.

Riots and demonstrations brought several Papuan cities to a standstill this week, as buildings were torched and street battles broke out between police and protesters in Indonesia’s easternmost territory.

A rebel insurgency against Jakarta’s rule has simmered for decades in the island region, which shares a border with Papua New Guinea.

But the riots appear to have been triggered by the arrest of dozens of Papuan students — who were also pelted with racist abuse — in Java at the weekend.

Indonesia slowed internet service in recent days to clamp down on hoaxes, provocative comments and racist abuse targeting Papua’s ethnic Melanesian population. But it shut down service completely late Wednesday.

“As of this morning, there is still a full block on internet access,” communications ministry spokesman Ferdinandus Setu told AFP.

“The amount of racist and provocative content online was very high… and it went viral.”

The region’s three internet providers cooperated with the shutdown, but many users managed to get around the block, Setu said.

“The restrictions have not been that effective,” he added. “We’re still evaluating the situation… and will probably lift the block by this afternoon if possible.”

Calm appeared to have been mostly restored Thursday after Indonesia sent in 1,200 extra police and military to Papua, with some 45 protesters reportedly arrested.

Indonesia’s chief security minister Wiranto, who goes by one name, flew to the island late Wednesday with the head of the military and Indonesia’s national police chief.

They were expected to hold a press briefing Thursday in riot-hit Manokwari city.

In Jakarta, more than 100 demonstrators calling for Papuan independence scuffled with police near the presidential palace, while dozens of placard-holding demonstrators protested in Bali’s capital Denpasar.

The unrest was sparked by reports that authorities tear-gassed and briefly detained some 43 Papuan university students in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-biggest city, on Saturday — the country’s independence day.

Police in riot gear stormed a dormitory to force out students who allegedly destroyed an Indonesian flag, as a group of protesters shouted racial slurs at them, calling them “monkeys” and “dogs”.

Papua has been the scene of a decades-old rebel insurgency aimed at gaining independence from Indonesia, which took control of the former Dutch colony in the 1960s.

Security forces have long been accused of committing rights abuses against Papuans who say they have not shared in the region’s vast mineral wealth.

AFP

Indonesia Police Shoot Suspected Militant After Station Attack

 

Indonesian authorities said Sunday they shot and arrested a suspected militant who attacked police officers at a station in the country’s second-biggest city.

The incident in Surabaya on Saturday — Indonesia’s independence day — came as the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation is on high alert for attacks by local groups sympathetic to the Islamic State.

A 30-year-old man walked into the station and said that he wanted to make a report, according to police.

“Then he suddenly took out a sickle and started slashing the officer on duty,” East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera told AFP on Sunday.

The officer, who sustained wounds to his head, face and hand, was recovering in hospital while another who intervened was lightly injured, police said.

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The wounded suspect was an “IS sympathiser”, they added.

“We haven’t determined which group he may be affiliated with,” Mangera said.

“He just said he wanted to commit jihad.”

A surge in Islamist-inspired attacks in the past decade has dented Indonesia’s reputation for religious tolerance.

Last year, Surabaya was rocked by a wave of suicide bombings carried out by families — including a nine and 12-year-old girl — who attacked several churches, killing a dozen congregants.

Indonesia, which has detained hundreds under tougher anti-terror laws, is also grappling with how to reintegrate returning IS jihadists and their relatives as the extremist group’s caliphate lies in ruins.

‘Indonesia Will Decide Site Of New capital This Year’

'Indonesia Will Decide Site Of New capital This Year'
A colourfully painted barrier (C) separates a waterway and a slum area, dwarfed by modern highrise buildings, in Jakarta on May 8, 2019. BAY ISMOYO / AFP

 

Indonesia will decide the site of its new capital this year with the aim of it being ready by 2024, a minister said Wednesday.

The decision to move the capital from megacity Jakarta came about two weeks ago after President Joko Widodo approved the long-mooted plan.

The government is finalising studies so they can decide this year and start the groundbreaking project in 2021, urban planning minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said.

“We’ve been coordinating to finalise the studies so we can decide this year where to move the capital to, so the process and construction can begin in a year or two,” he said.

“So we hope in 2024 the new capital is ready to be the new government centre.”

Jakarta — and its surrounding satellite cities — has a population of about 30 million people and is regularly rated as one of the most traffic-congested centres in the world.

Annual flooding due to excessive groundwater extraction has also made it one of the world’s fastest-sinking cities.

Earlier this month President Widodo visited East and Central Kalimantan on the island of Borneo to scout for a new capital location.

Brodjonegoro said the only sites being considered for the new capital were “the two places we’ve visited earlier”.

Jakarta, on the country’s most populous island, Java, would remain the nation’s financial hub, the government said.

AFP

Indonesia To Inaugurate Mass Rapid Transit System In Jakarta

Indonesia To Inaugurate Mass Rapid Transit System In Jakarta
Indonesian students perform a dance in front of motorists at a traffic intersection in Jakarta on March 20, 2019, during a road safety and discipline campaign. BAY ISMOYO / AFP

 

Indonesia’s capital will inaugurate its first mass rapid transit system on Sunday, a $1.1 billion project seen as crucial to tackling some of the world’s worst traffic congestion.

President Joko Widodo and other officials will attend a ceremony in Jakarta to give a green light for the 16-kilometre (10 mile) line, almost six years after construction began on the Japanese-backed project.

The train system runs above and below ground and stretches from the central Hotel Indonesia to the southern reaches of the Southeast Asian megalopolis of some 30 million people.

It aims to cut travel times between the two points to just 30 minutes from about two hours, offering some relief to frustrated commuters long used to spending much of their day stuck in traffic.

The new line is set to open to the public on Monday, with tickets slated to be free during the first week.

Construction on a second line linking downtown to Jakarta’s northern port is also kicking off Sunday, with completion set for around 2024. More lines are envisioned in the future.

A separate elevated rail network is also being built to link satellite cities with Jakarta, nicknamed the Big Durian after the pungent fruit that bitterly divides fans and its detractors.

The public transit projects are part of a sweeping infrastructure push that Widodo hopes will boost the fortunes of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy — and get him re-elected in national elections next month.

Over the past decade, rising incomes in the country of 260 million have created a ballooning middle class and sent vehicle ownership soaring.

But that’s also brought hazardous air pollution and annual economic losses that run into the billions as cars crawl along the capital’s roadways in the steamy tropical heat — alongside an underused bus system.

Environmentalists hope that the new line will cut traffic-linked carbon emissions by about half.

It could also make a dent in annual economic losses of some 65 trillion Rupiah ($4.6 billion) linked to road congestion, according to government figures.

Transport analysts, however, have cautioned that the new line and cheap prices won’t cure the traffic woes of a city infatuated with private vehicles and with few decent sidewalks.

“The MRT won’t immediately ease the traffic because changing the culture and attitudes isn’t easy,” Hendi Bowoputro, a public transit expert at the University of Brawijaya, told AFP before the inauguration.

And the line’s expected 130,000 daily passengers represent only about 10 per cent of those who already cram into a decades-old commuter rail network.

AFP

Indonesian Muslims Protest Against Trump’s Jerusalem Move

Indonesian demonstrators attend a protest against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, outside the US embassy in Jakarta. Photo: DONAL HUSNI / AFP

Thousands of Indonesian Muslims protested Sunday in Jakarta against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the latest global show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

 

Demonstrators — many in white Islamic robes and skullcaps — gathered outside the US embassy in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country to vent their anger against the unilateral decision.

Protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners saying “We are with the Palestinians” and “Pray for Palestine”.

The rally in Indonesia’s capital drew a crowd of at least 5,000 people, police said.

Trump’s move on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital upended decades of American diplomacy, causing an overwhelming global diplomatic backlash and sparking Palestinian protests and clashes with Israeli security forces.

The status of Jerusalem is deeply sensitive for Muslims, and protesters have taken to the streets in cities across the world following the policy shift.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo said Thursday he “condemned” Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, and ordered the US ambassador in Jakarta to be summoned over the move.

The Islamist Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS — which organised the Jakarta rally and several others around the country — slammed Trump’s decision as a declaration of “hostility to Muslims throughout the world.”

AFP

Outgoing Jakarta Governor Jailed For Blasphemy

Source: Goverment of the Province of Jakarta/wikimedia

The outgoing Governor of Jakarta has been sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy and inciting violence.

Basuki Purnama, also known as Ahok, is an ethnic Chinese and Christian.

He is accused of insulting Islam by referring to a verse in the Koran during a campaign speech.

Mr Purnama has denied blasphemy and he plans to appeal. He was taken into custody after the verdict was read out.

The case is seen as a test of Indonesia’s religious tolerance.

Indonesia Blast: Suspect Shot And Seriously Wounded – Police

indonesian-policeThe Indonesian Police say a pressure cooker bomb has exploded in the courtyard of a government building in the city Bandung but the attacker has been shot and seriously wounded.

There are no reports of injuries from the explosion which occurred around 9.00am In the west Java city.

Describing the attack, the Police said a man arrived at the government building on a motorbike and placed a pressure cooker on a table in a corner of the courtyard.

After the explosion, the man ran into the government office and was later shot by officers.

They said they believed the motive of the attack was to force the release of prisoners held by the Police Anti-terror Unit.

In January 2016, Islamic State militant attacked the Indonesia capital, Jakarta for the first time.

23 Dead In Indonesia Ferry Blast

indonesia-flagAt least 23 people have been killed and 17 more missing after a ferry caught fire off the coast of Indonesia on January 1, 2017.

The Zahro Express ferry was said to have been carrying more than 230 people who were off to celebrate the New Year holiday at Tidung Island, a resort about 50km (30 miles) from the capital, Jakarta,

Officials explained that it burst into flames about 1.5 km from Muara Angke port in Jakarta, shortly after setting sail.

According to the BBC, an official said 194 people were rescued and nine remain in the hospital, after many had jumped into the sea.

“15 minutes after the boat set sail, people at the back of the boat started making noise,” one passenger told local media.

“Then I saw smoke, there was more and more, the boat was crowded and people were fighting for life jackets.”

Another passenger said thick smoke suddenly filled the cabin.

“All passengers panicked and ran up to the deck to throw floats into the water. In a split second, the fire becomes bigger coming from where fuel is stored,” Reuters quoted the passenger as saying.

The charred remains of the boat were however towed back to Jakarta.

Indonesia Executes Three Nigerians, One Local, Despite Protests

Indonesia, drug traffickersIndonesia executed four convicted drug traffickers, three of them Nigerians, in the early hours of Friday, leaving the fate of 10 others uncertain.

The Africans and an Indonesian man were shot by firing squad during a thunderstorm shortly after midnight on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java, as the government ignored international calls for clemency and pushed ahead with what it considers a war on drugs.

The attorney general said on Wednesday that 14 prisoners, including citizens of India, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, would be executed this weekend.

An official said on Friday the planned executions would go ahead “in stages” but declined to give a timeframe.

Security was stepped up at the Indonesian embassy in Nigerian capital Abuja on Thursday as protesters gathered to urge Indonesia to halt the executions. Indian and Pakistani officials said they were making last-minute efforts to save their citizens.

“We considered several factors and decided that for now four death row inmates would be executed,” Noor Rachmad, an official at the attorney general’s office, told reporters shortly after Friday’s executions.

Just over a year ago, Indonesia executed 14 prisoners, mostly foreign drugs offenders, causing diplomatic outrage.

Rights activists and governments have again called on Indonesia to abolish the death penalty.

But that has gone unheeded by the government of President Joko Widodo, who has said drugs pose as serious a threat as terrorism in what is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest markets for narcotics.

The death penalty is widely accepted by the Indonesian public, but police on Thursday had to break up a protest outside the prison by members of a migrant workers group who called for mercy for an Indonesian woman who was scheduled to be executed.

The United Nations and European Union had urged the executions be halted.

“Such death sentences are unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution as they are undertaken in contravention of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations,” the U.N. said in a statement on Thursday.

Amnesty International called the executions “a deplorable act that violates international and Indonesian law” and pleaded that the other death sentences not be carried out.

“The injustice already done cannot be reversed, but there is still hope that it won’t be compounded,” the rights group’s regional director, Rafendi Djamin, said.

Around 152 people remain on death row in the country, including convicted drug traffickers from the Philippines, France and Britain. Authorities plan to execute 16 prisoners this year and more than double that number in 2017.