Thursday, September 07, 2006

Indonesia assessed by the numbers

The number 2

It has been 2 years to the day since the unsolved murder of Indonesia's well-known human rights activist, Munir Said Thalib on Sept. 7, 2004, whom the Jakarta Post says: “was assassinated [poisoned by arsenic on a Garuda Airlines flight] because of his ceaseless struggle in defending the basic rights of his fellow countrymen…” The paper goes on: “Munir's assassination was driven by a deep-rooted revenge in the hearts of those who committed gross human rights violations but were afraid of being brought to justice.” The paper also states that “the trial over Munir's death has failed to identify and punish the real mastermind[s] behind the tragedy [which] is an indication of the fragility of the prospect of human rights protection in this country.”(1)

The number 24 (or 183,000)

East Timor occupied for 24 years - JAKARTA, Jan 22, 2006 (AFP) ‘Indonesia's armed forces chief on Sunday rejected the findings of a report that alleges his country's 24-year occupation of East Timor caused the deaths of up to 183,000 people. "I am not convinced that that many (victims) were the result of what the TNI (Indonesian armed forces) and Polri (the national police) did at that time," General Endriartono Sutarto told local radio. He also denied that the military or the police intentionally caused famine in East Timor, as alleged in the more than 2,000-page report compiled by the independent Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.’ (2)

The number 68 (or 136)

The phrase ‘Indonesia the world’s most populous Muslim country/nation’ is used in 68 of the Jakarta Post’s articles in the last year alone. I am not sure when this term became popular in the press (and even now on the BBC), however on average that would make it 136 times since Munir’s death. This is interesting as Indonesia claims it is based on the concept of “Pancasila Democracy” that professes, “a belief in the one and only God, a just and civilized humanity, the unity of Indonesia”, particularly the phrase – “unity in diversity”, a “democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives”, a democracy which calls for “decision-making through deliberations to reach a consensus”… and the one that must have Munir rolling in his grave, “social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia”. It is all supposed to lead to a situation where “the democratic rights must always be exercised with a deep sense of responsibility to God according to one’s own conviction and religious belief, with respect for humanitarian values of man’s dignity and integrity and with a view to preserving and strengthening national unity and the pursuit of social justice.” (3)

The number 77

Democratic ranking out of 149 countries (7)

The number 80

Approximately 80% of orang-utan habitat has disappeared over the last 20 years. Indonesia has the world’s longest list of species threatened with extinction, which includes the orang-utan. Industrial logging, timber plantations and mining activities in these threatened habitats mean that in the last ten years, orang-utan numbers have halved. Habitat destruction has been hard on Indonesia’s other primates – only 300 - 400 Javan gibbons are thought to be left as well as other mammals such as the remaining species of tigers with 400-500 remaining individuals are confined to poorly protected national parks in Sumatra. Both the Sumatran and Javan rhinoceros are critically endangered species. (4)

The number 84

Press freedom ranking out of 149 countries (7)

The number 115

A 115-page Human Rights Watch (Jan 2006) report, titled “Condemned Communities: Forced Evictions in Jakarta, describes the government’s excessive use of force to clear out urban slums. It draws on numerous evictees’ accounts of government security forces beating or mistreating them before destroying their homes and possessions. Many residents say they were given so little warning before their homes were razed that they did not have enough time to collect their belongings. Others describe how security forces opened fire on communities and set buildings alight while people were still inside.” (5)

The number 123

The corruption ranking out of 149 countries (7)

The number 135

With its reform drive lagging behind expectations, Indonesia remains one of the most difficult places in the world to do business, and it may be getting worse, the latest report from the World Bank shows. The continuing obstacles relegated Indonesia to 135th of 175 countries surveyed by the World Bank and its financial arm, the International Financial Corporation (IFC), in their Doing Business 2007 report. Last year, it ranked 131st among 155 nations. (6)

Never forget Manir an Indonesian hero


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