Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Law of The Sea According to Acehnese Fishermen

Acehnese fishermen's 'Law of the Sea' (Hukom Adat Laot) stated that seaman who sees any boat in distress should offer help. As a loval fisherman explained to Al Jazeera news, "At sea you are all brothers and sisters, foreigners or Indonesians. So if someone is asking for help, we as fishermen have an obligation to help without looking at race, religion or anything."

I sense a similarity in principle with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The strange thing is that these fishermen had never studied UN Conventions and might have never heard of the Declaration og Human Rights. On the other hand, countries who had ratified the UN Convention for Refugee and claimed to adhere to Human Rights principles are turning these human down! 

The worrying thing is that the so called law enforcements are questioning fishermen who helped the immigrants. Indonesian Armed Forces reminded Acehnese fishermen that that taking in illegal immigrant is against the law. 

I hope that the brave Acehnese fisherman will stand up for human rights and will not let authority in uniform stop them helping fellow human. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Petitioning President Jokowi to Accept Rohingya Refugee

Dear Mr President, 

please open your heart to our fellow human who are suffering. 

Remember your speech on the opening of Asian African Conference last month? You said Indonesia is ready to take the lead in social justice. You said we cannot continue to rely on the so called developed/first world/North (rich) countries... 

Well this is the time to put your words into action. Please open our shore for the suffering asylum seekers. 

Acehnese fishermen who were poor and once displaced themselves had started to show compassion, why can't we as a nation do the right thing too? Our land is enough for sharing, our people though poor would still feed the hungry. In sharing we will become richer, our resources is enough to be shared, as long as we are not too greedy. 

Please open your heart and open our border, Mr Jokowi... 

Acehnese are No Stranger to Refugees

Between May 2003 - 2004 Indonesian government declared martial law inAceh province. Thousands of Acehnese had to evacuate their homes. IDP (internally displaced people) camps formed all over Aceh. On Boxing Day 2004, nine Richter scale earthquake hit Aceh, followed by 30 metre high wave - tsunami - that claimed about 200,000 souls. There were toddlers who were born in IDP camps during the martial law (2003) and stayed in tents long after the tsunami. Acehnese people are no stranger to displacement, to queueing for food, to unclean water, they survived diseases predicted by WHO and other international emergency aid organisations.

Today Acehnese people witness others in their shoes. Immigrants from Burma/Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya ethnic and from Bangladesh are arriving after months living on over-crowded boats. Thai governments refused them, Malaysian people looked away. Australian government quickly said "No!" American government pleaded mercy from South East Asian governments. Indonesia has not ratified UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugee (the 1951 Refugee Convention).

But would Acehnese people turn their back on their fellow human in need? Did history mean anything to those who had lived in IDP camps? Thanks be to God that they don't! Alhamdulillah... Acehnese people open their heart and most took these asylum seekers in. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-32747616

It seems that Acehnese people show their heart of gold to these Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma/Myanmar ( http://m.irinnews.org/report/83120/indonesia-aceh-embraces-rohingya-refugees#.VVfXpFKkrCQ ). God bless the poor and the marginalised.God bless asylum seekers and those who help them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Renungan Indonesian in England

BBC Indonesia mengadakan survey: di manakah Anda pada Mei 1998?

Berikut kenangan dan renungan saya, 17 tahun setelah kerusuhan 1998 dan jatuhnya diktator Soeharto.

Sebagai wartawan muda dan jebolan UI, saya hadir di Salemba. Tak lama orasi2 mulai, saya dapat tiga pesan di pager: dari kantor, dari suami, dan dari orang tua. Semua isinya sama: segera pulang, rumah Lim Sui Liong di Gunung Sahari akan dibakar (kami tinggal di Kemayoran, tak jauh dari istana pemilik Indofood dan kroni Soeharto tsb). Namun bis dan mikrolet tak ada. Jalan Salemba seperti kota hantu walau halaman UI penuh demonstran. Berjalan kakilah saya dari Salemba. Untung seorang pengendara motor berbaik hati memberi tumpangan hingga perempatan Jl Angkasa. Sampai rumah putra saya Jack Bara yang masih bayi menangis di gendongan ayahnya, surat-surat penting dan pakaian seadanya sudah di travel bag. Kami siap cabut jika api menjalar... Untung tak terjadi. 

Demokrasi Indonesia kini telah 17 tahun, masih remaja namun terbukti makin dewasa. Bangga sekali dengan pidato Presiden Jokowi di pembukaan KAA bulan lalu. Sementara pada saat yang sama negara Inggris Raya tempat lahirnya demokrasi moderen, negara asal John Locke dan Magna Carta, sedang mengalami kemunduran demokrasi. Pemerintah Konservatif berencana menghapus UU HAM (Human Right Act 1988), mengurangi anggaran kesehatan (NHS) dan melegalkan kembali perburuan rubah. Rakyat miskin kian tergantung sumbangan sembako dari foodbank sementara sahabat kaya para politisi menikmati pengurangan pajak. Indonesia, ayo pimpin keadilan sosial di dunia!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Celebration of Democracy? UK Election 2015

Dear UK citizens, I hope that those who could vote today, would have used voted and use your voices wisely. General election is the big celebration of democracy. People might not see it that way here in the UK. People might be fed up with lies told by politicians just before elections. Fed up with promises they could not - or would not intended to - keep. 

Still, elsewhere on Earth people are threatened by guns on their way to polling stations. Blood spilled, bomb exploded, innocent children killed. For democracy? For the right to choose one's own future? For politicians who are going to betray their people? Still, people around the world are longing to have a peaceful general election like today.

Aceh, March 2004, first democratic election in Indonesia since Soeharto regime. Was it democratic for Acehnese people? With big guns everywhere? "Vote for your life", Aceh, 2004 (http://youtu.be/WSdClPsFovc)

I remember my first general election in Indonesia, 1992. (I am now middle age, so I am allowed to say, "I remember...") There were three parties. In theory. Though for over 30 years only one party could win. My father begged me to vote for one party, "Or your father would have no job tomorrow." He was a civil servant then. All civil servants were members of one party, the one that had to win for 33 years. It was only two decades ago.

For goodness sake, British people today, you are lucky to be alive. To stay alive after voting. You are lucky to have the free choice. This is democracy. Like it or not, the b*****d in Number 10 was your choice. If tomorrow you have a prime minister who looks like that cartoon Wallace and Gromitt, he would still be the result of years of freedom to choose. Embrace it! Somewhere out there, people are dying to have a choice!

In Indonesia we call general election 'pesta demokrasi', the big celebration of democracy. I hope people in the UK today are celebrating.