VOA

Activists Oppose Opening Indonesia's Protected Forests to Development

The sound of bulldozers and chainsaws breaks the silence of what was once a vast swath of rainforest in Aceh Province, Indonesia. Now, the land is scalped and upended, awaiting the planting of palm oil saplings. Environmental activists are concerned about an Aceh government plan they say opens protected forest areas to logging, mining and palm oil plantations. Officials in the central government have tried to ease fears, saying the plan will affect only a small fraction of the protec
Public Radio International

Guatemalan women transform their town one brushstroke at a time

Lidia Florentino Cumes Cumez is one of several women helping helm a project to paint the 800 homes of Santa Catarina Palopó using colors and designs that imitate weavings made by indigenous women. The goal is to clean up the community and usher in jobs and development, and by taking leadership of the initiative the women here also gaining the ability to challenge traditional gender roles.
WSJ

Freeport Put $12 Billion Into a Giant Mine; Now Indonesia Is Squeezing It Out

JAKARTA—Freeport-McMoRan Inc.’s standoff with Indonesia over the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine is entering a new phase, as the company scales back operations while trying to force a resolution to the dispute. Last month, the U.S. miner threatened to take Indonesia to arbitration, saying new rules the country imposed on miners in January violated the terms of an operating agreement struck in 1991 that runs through 2021.
WSJ

Giant Muslim Group Joins Fight Against Fake News

JAKARTA—The world’s largest Muslim organization is helping step up a battle in Indonesia to scrub the internet of fake news. At first glance, a nearly century-old organization that normally focuses on things like maintaining Islamic boarding schools and funding hospitals wouldn’t seem like the tech-savvy champion of such a cause. But Nahdlatul Ulama, which claims 50 million members, has teamed up with information-technology experts and advocacy groups to debunk a flurry of sectarian hoaxes and false news reports that began circulating on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter last year.
WSJ

Muslim Hard-Liners Test Strength in Indonesia Governor’s Race

JAKARTA, Indonesia—The most prominent Christian politician in this Muslim-majority country looked set to survive an initial challenge driven by hard-line Islamic groups in a polarizing election seen as a test of religious and ethnic tolerance for this young democracy. Unofficial projections based on early counts Wednesday showed Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian from the ethnic- Chinese minority, finishing ahead of two Muslim challengers. But he failed to win a majority, meaning the top two vote-getters will face off in April.
WSJ

Indonesians Pray Ahead of Fraught Election

JAKARTA—Tens of thousands of Indonesians held mass prayers at a national mosque on Saturday, in a show of strength by Islamic hard-liners ahead of heated elections pitting the controversial minority Christian governor against two Muslim challengers. Police provided heavy security amid sporadic rain, with no reports of violence. Police had said they would confine the crowd to the mosque’s interior, but people overflowed onto the streets around the giant complex, the biggest of its kind in the world’s most- populous Muslim-majority country. Crowds dispersed peacefully around midday.
WSJ

Indonesia Calls Donald Trump’s Immigration Ban a Mistake

JAKARTA, Indonesia—An Indonesian official has called U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy to temporarily ban immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries “a mistake” that could hurt the global fight against terrorism and efforts to address a growing refugee crisis. “We are going down a slippery slope” when issues such as radicalism and terrorism start being based on a particular religion, Arrmanatha Nasir, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told a news briefing Thursday. “No single country can address the issue of terrorism by itself,” he said.
WSJ

Indonesia Fights Volcanic Risk to Air Travel

BALI—Indonesia is taking steps to curb disruptions to air travel after a series of volcanic eruptions near popular tourist destinations sparked havoc in this fast-growing air travel market. Volcanic eruptions in 2015 shut airports in parts of Indonesia’s vast archipelago, stranding tens of thousands of passengers, forcing the postponement of an international family-planning conference and costing local industry tens of millions of dollars. The events jolted a country that sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, with among the world’s highest number of active volcanoes, 139, and its most life-threatening ones due to their numbers, power and proximity to people. These factors make Indonesia highly prone to air-travel disturbances. But with limited monitoring resources, the country has long prioritized protecting people over planes.
WSJ

Indonesia Revises Mining Regulations

JAKARTA—Indonesia issued significant new mining rules Thursday that will relax a controversial ban on exports of nickel ore and bauxite and extend exports for mineral concentrates. The revisions to an earlier regulation will allow miners to export as long as they show progress toward building smelters in a five-year period. Investors and analysts had expected Indonesia to continue allowing exports of mineral concentrates, but the government surprised markets by allowing limited amounts of nickel ore and bauxite.
WSJ

Hard-Line Islamists Capture Spotlight in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia—Mainstream Muslims here used to dismiss the Islamic Defenders Front as a fringe group—moralist thugs who attacked bars serving alcohol during Ramadan or threatened “sinful” events such as a Lady Gaga concert. But in recent weeks, the organization has captured center stage, sidelining moderate religious groups as it whips up public fury in mass demonstrations against Jakarta’s Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, for allegedly insulting the Quran. “We are in the forefront because we are used to holding rallies,” said Novel Bamukmin, a leader of the Front, known as FPI. “We are trusted.”
WSJ

Honk It Up, Uncle: Indonesia’s Bus Horns Capture Global Attention

JAKARTA—A meme in Indonesia about honking bus horns has gone viral, sparking a craze that has swept the dance-music world and sent social media into a tizzy trying to figure out what it means. The phrase is “Om Telolet Om”—or “Uncle, Honk Your Horn, Uncle" —something kids shout out, hold up signs saying or simply gesticulate to get bus drivers to honk their horns. Videos of the resulting cacophony are posted online.
WSJ

What Sparked Indonesia’s Blasphemy Trial? – The Short Answer

A man posted a video of the speech on Facebook with captions that made it appear Mr. Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was criticizing the Quran itself, not the way it was being used against him. Conservative Islamists demanded he face blasphemy charges, and used social media to help mobilize supporters for a series of mass protests. Mr. Purnama has apologized for the remarks, but said in court Tuesday that he intended no insult or offense. He faces up to five years in jail if convicted.
WSJ

Blasphemy Trial Tests Pluralism in Mostly Muslim Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia—The Christian chief of one of the world’s largest mostly Muslim cities delivered an emotional defense at the start of his blasphemy trial Tuesday, a politically charged case that has become a test of pluralism in this young democracy. Hundreds of people had gathered outside the courthouse in central Jakarta to demand that Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama be jailed even before the verdict, carrying on from a series of massive street protests. They were countered by dozens of supporters of the governor—also the most prominent politician in Indonesia from the ethnic Chinese minority. The small courtroom was filled to its capacity, about 80 people. In an unusual public display for Mr. Purnama, a blunt-talker often described as brash, he shed tears while telling the panel of five judges how his Muslim godparents had taught him Islamic values while he was growing up, and how insulting Islam would be tantamount to showing them disrespect.
WSJ

Indonesia Muslims Push to Jail Christian Politician Accused of Blasphemy

JAKARTA, Indonesia—Conservative Muslim groups on Friday held the second mass rally in a month against the capital’s Christian governor for allegedly insulting the Quran, stoking tensions in a city already on alert following recent arrests linked to Islamic State. The protests have been seen as a test of the Muslim-majority country’s respect for tolerance in the face of the growing influence and organization of Islamist...
WSJ

In Indonesia, Fears Rise Among Ethnic Chinese Amid Blasphemy Probe

JAKARTA, Indonesia—Mounting street protests against the governor here are reviving painful memories for many of Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese minority, a group that has long faced discrimination and persecution across much of Southeast Asia. Less than two decades after hundreds of people died in racially charged rioting, the resurgent tension has left some ethnic Chinese—most of whom are Christian or Buddhist—wondering about their...
WSJ

Indonesia Tries New Tactics to Douse Annual Firestorms

DUMAI, Indonesia—Late last month, a fire patrol here was hard at work battling small blazes on the dried-out bogs that make eastern Sumatra island infamous as a major source of Southeast Asia’s perennial, choking haze. Members of the local fire brigade and a soldier together with young volunteers sucked water from a nearby canal with a hose. For about an hour, they moved across the scrubland, tackling flames that popped up even before the ones they were fighting were extinguished. They had been at it for weeks.
WSJ

Illegal Forest Fires Threaten Another Indonesian Province, Report Finds

JAKARTA, Indonesia—An investigation by several environmental groups says the practice of setting forest fires to clear land for palm oil and timber plantations in Indonesia is spreading to the largely untouched province of Papua, worsening the annual haze that afflicts broad swaths of Southeast Asia. Using satellite images, as well as photos and videos taken on the ground, the groups in a report published Thursday singled out Jakarta-based Korindo Group, a conglomerate focused on resources and energy, for allegedly clearing land through illegal burning.
WSJ

Foreign Miners Pull Up Stakes in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia—When Newmont Mining Corp. began exploring for gold in Indonesia in the 1980s, the country’s wealth of untapped resources was seen as the Colorado-based miner’s ticket to the big leagues. The Batu Hijau copper and gold mine in eastern Indonesia was one of the largest undeveloped deposits in the world, and Newmont’s billion-dollar investment put it on the path to becoming the world’s No. 2 gold miner by output.
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