Indonesia & East Timor News Updates - June 24, 2017

* Media mogul declared intimidation suspect
* Indonesia's Ahmadiyah push back against discriminatory laws
* Academics side with anti-graft agency amid House inquiry
* Police suspect crime syndicate helped Shaun Davidson and other prisoners escape Bali jail


Media mogul declared intimidation suspect

Jakarta Post - June 23, 2017

Jakarta -- The National Police officially named businessman-cum-politician Hary Tanoesoedibjo a suspect on Friday for allegedly intimidating an Attorney General's Office (AGO) official last year.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Rikwanto said in Jakarta on Friday that the police had notified prosecutors about Hary's status through a letter dated June 15. "The police leadership has allowed its investigators to commence a criminal investigation with Hary as a suspect."

The announcement ended days of uncertainty about Hary's status after he underwent a series of police questionings. He was reported to the police for allegedly threatening the head of the AGO sub-directorate for special crimes, Yulianto, who handled an investigation into the businessman's reportedly suspicious Rp 10.75 billion (US$807,360) tax restitution claim in 2009.

Earlier this week, the police clarified Attorney General Prasetyo's statement to the media that Hary, the founder of the Indonesia Unity Party (Perindo) and media chain MNC Group, had been named a suspect. Subsequently, Hary's lawyers reported Prasetyo to police for making what they claimed was a false statement.

Yulianto filed a criminal complaint against Hary for allegedly texting him a threatening message in connection with the AGO's ongoing probe into the dubious tax restitution involving Hary's company, PT Mobile-8 Telecom.

The SMS said, "Mas Yulianto, we will prove who is right; who is a professional and who is a thug. Please remember that power doesn't last forever. I entered politics with the intention of eliminating law enforcers who are undemocratic, corrupt and abuse their power. Mark my words, I will surely become a leader of this country and when I do, Indonesia will be cleansed."

Rikwanto added that the police were scheduled to question Hary early next month, after the Idul Fitri holiday.

The police have charged Hary under the 2016 Electronic Information and Transactions Law, which carries a maximum prison term of four years. (kuk)



Indonesia's Ahmadiyah push back against discriminatory laws

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - June 23, 2017

Andreas Harsono -- Indonesia's besieged Ahmadiyah religious community is fighting back.

Earlier this week, representatives of the religious minority from Manislor district in West Java's Kuningan regency filed a formal complaint against a local government requirement that they renounce their faith to obtain national identification cards, critical to accessing a range of government services. They said lack of IDs meant Ahmadiyah community members were not able to register marriages or get treatment at a local hospital. An ombudsman office representative has criticized the ID requirement as "maladministration."

The Ahmadiyah community in Manislor are victims of routine bureaucratic discrimination. Indonesia's 1965 blasphemy law permits only six officially protected religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. All Indonesian citizens must obtain a national ID card at age 17 and they are essential to apply for official documents including birth, marriage, and death certificates. Indonesian law requires ID cards to state the holder's religion. That requirement bars Ahmadiyah and other officially unrecognized religious minorities from receiving national ID cards.

Indonesia's Ahmadiyah have been under threat since 2008 when the government of then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a decree ordering the Ahmadiyah community to "stop spreading interpretations and activities that deviate from the principal teachings of Islam." Following the decree, militant Islamists launched several violent attacks against Ahmadiyah including an attack in Cikeusik in February 2011 that killed three Ahmadiyah men.

During Yudhoyono's decade in power, militant Islamists with the complicity of local police and government officials forced the closure of more than 30 Ahmadiyah mosques, while other religious minorities, including the Shia and some Christian groups, were also targets of harassment, intimidation, and violence.

The frequency and severity of violent attacks on religious minorities have decreased since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo took office in 2014, and he has pledged to protect religious minorities and fight religious intolerance. But Kandali Lubis, an Ahmadiyah spokesman, told Human Rights Watch that at least seven Ahmadiyah mosques remained closed in Indonesia under the 2008 anti-Ahmadiyah decree. They include an Ahmadiyah mosque in Depok, West Java that the local government sealed on the basis of "protecting" the Ahmadis from attack by militant Islamists.

Until Jokowi abolishes regulations that discriminate against the country's religious minorities, the Ombudsman of the Republic of Indonesia can expect more demands from aggrieved communities such as the Ahmadiyah of Manislor village that the government respect, rather than deny their rights.

[Andreas Harsono is Human Rights Watch's Indonesia Researcher.]



Academics side with anti-graft agency amid House inquiry

Jakarta Globe - June 24, 2017

Jakarta -- Hundreds of academics have declared their support for the antigraft agency amid a controversial move by the House of Representatives.

In a press release, Professor Muhadjir Darwin from Gadjah Mada University's faculty of social and political sciences said that the declaration was triggered by Amien Rais's endorsement of the House's application of a right of inquiry into the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), after lawmakers from the National Mandate Party (PAN) -- which he founded -- were named as suspects in the electronic identity cards (e-KTP) graft case.

Amien, who also helped in establishing KPK, has publicly called it a "rotten" institution. "These two statements have not decreased the public's support for KPK, but only solidified it further, including the support from Indonesian professors," Muhadjir said.

The declaration was signed by 153 professors from universities across the country on Monday (19/06).

Muhadjir said it was high time to eradicate corruption from Indonesia. In the declaration, the academics called on party leaders and members of the House to abandon the inquiry, deeming it legally unsound.



Police suspect crime syndicate helped Shaun Davidson and other prisoners escape Bali jail

Sydney Morning Herald - June 24, 2017

Jewel Topsfield Amilia Rosa -- Bali's police chief says he believes a crime syndicate helped four foreign prisoners, including Australian Shaun Davidson, stage a brazen escape from Bali's Kerobokan jail.

The police chief spoke after two of the escapees -- Bulgarian Dimitar Nikolov Iliev and Indian Sayed Mohammed Said -- arrived back in Bali under heavily armed guard. They had been arrested in Dili, the capital of East Timor, on Thursday.

"These people are organised crime and transnational crime. This is extraordinary," Bali's police chief, Inspector General Petrus Golose, said. "We will first dig deeper."

The captured escapees wore orange prison jumpsuits and were escorted by black armed and masked officers from BRIMOB, the special operations police force and paramilitary. The prisoners were both sporting beards, which Indonesian authorities had earlier suggested was part of their disguise.

Meanwhile Davidson, who is still at large, appears to be teasing police and the media by "checking in" to locations throughout Europe, including Copenhagen Marriott Hotel and Club Air Amsterdam, on what is believed to be his Facebook page.

However it is unclear if Davidson is actually in Europe as check-ins on Facebook do not necessitate the person be physically in that location, or even if it is him updating the page. Malaysian Tee Kok King is also still on the run.

Inspector General Petrus said the prisoners will be questioned about how they managed to escape to another country. "We will investigate what syndicate helped them," Inspector Petrus said.

The investigation to find the missing two prisoners was also continuing. Iliev and Said had been staying in the four-and-a-half star Novo Turismo Resort and Spa in Dili, where hotel staff said they went to the pool and restaurant like normal tourists.

Jose Gutterres, a lawyer for Iliev in East Timor, said his client had been arrested on June 22 at an immigration port in East Timor trying to get a visa. He had entered East Timor illegally by sea after flying to the Indonesian island of Alor from Bali and then chartering a boat to East Timor.

Mr Gutterres said that Iliev had admitted to escaping from the jail through a tunnel, which prison authorities had thought was a septic tank. They had been baffled as to how the foursome had tunnelled their way out without signs of digging. Mr Gutterres said Iliev had not said in court whether he had help escaping from the prison.

Timor Leste Police Chief Julio Hornai said on Saturday that after the court hearing the men were handed over to East Timor immigration and then Indonesian police so they could continue to serve their jail time in Bali.

The Bali police chief thanked East Timor for the arrests. "We are dealing with a sovereign country with their own legal system," he said. "We were assisted by them to speed the process."

Inspector General Petrus urged the media to be patient, saying all information would have to be cross-checked with Bulgaria and India. "In an investigation we can't just listen to what a suspect says," he said. "We can't just assume what they are saying is the truth."

Iliev had been serving seven years in Kerobokan jail for fleecing ATM users and Said was serving 14 years on drug charges. However Davidson had just 10 weeks left to serve of his 12-month jail sentence for using another man's passport. He faces drug charges back in Perth and prison sources have told Fairfax Media he did not want to return home and go to jail in Australia.



Asia Pacific Solidarity Network (APSN)