TIME indonesia

Foreign Drug Smugglers in Indonesia Look Set to Face a Firing Squad Early Wednesday

Activists Call For Stop To Bali Nine Duo Executions
Cole Bennetts—Getty Images A girl holds a candle as part of an Amnesty international vigil for the Bali 9 duo, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in a last ditch effort to sway the Indonesian Government to halt the planned executions of the two on April 27, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has rejected clemency appeals

It appears that nine drug convicts, eight of them foreigners, will face a firing squad in Indonesia on Wednesday. That’s according to an Australian news report that claims a local mortician has been instructed to write the dates of death as “29.04.2015” on the crosses that will be placed on the coffins of Christian prisoners.

Indonesian media also report that nine coffins, covered in white cloth, were taken in readiness on Sunday night to the police station in the Javanese town of Cilacap, near Nusakambangan island, where the convicts are being kept and where they will be shot. The death penalties come after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected pleas from foreign governments and thousands of his own citizens to halt the killings.

Indonesia gave a 72-hour execution notice to the four Nigerians, two Australians, one Filipina, one Brazilian and one Indonesian on Saturday. That time frame, and the dates being inscribed on the crosses, suggests that the executions will take place very early on Wednesday morning — perhaps just after the stroke of midnight.

A Frenchman, Serge Atlaoui, has been given a temporary reprieve pending a legal appeal, which was granted after French President François Hollande warned: “If he is executed, there will be consequences with France and Europe.”

However, no such reprieve has been granted to other inmates, who include Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Australians who were part of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group. Their former lawyer, Mohammad Irfan, has alleged to the Sydney Morning Herald that judges asked for more than $77,000 in bribes to give the pair a lighter sentence, and he also accuses Jakarta of political interference — once again putting a spotlight on Indonesia’s judicial system, which is largely seen as corrupt.

Legal appeals are still under way for Filipina domestic helper Mary Jane Veloso and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. His lawyers rushed to file a last-minute request for a second judicial review on Monday morning.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (and former East Timorese President) José Ramos-Horta, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, British tycoon and adventurer Richard Branson and iconic hard-rock guitarist Tony Iommi have joined the chorus of foreign leaders, fellow celebrities, local and overseas activists and ordinary people asking that the convicts’ lives be spared.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, the Indonesian maid whose severe abuse at the hands of her employer in Hong Kong threw a global spotlight on the plight of female migrant workers, has asked Jokowi to pardon her fellow domestic helper Veloso, who maintains that she was tricked into smuggling drugs.

Families of the condemned have arrived on Nusakambangan to spend the last hours with their loved ones, as police and military have stepped up security in Cilacap and Nusakambangan. Chan, who was ordained as minister in the decade he spent at a Bali prison, wants to go to church with his family during his last days, said his brother Michael. As his last wish, Sukumaran, who began painting while incarcerated in Bali, has asked “to paint as long and as much as possible,” his brother Chinthu said. One of his latest self-portraits shown to journalists depicts a harrowing image of the artist shot through the heart.

Veloso’s mother, brother and former husband held a banner that said, “Save the Life of Mary Jane!” at Cilacap’s port on Monday in a desperate attempt to halt her execution. Veloso, who supporters say is a victim of human trafficking and whose plight has sparked sympathy from Indonesian citizens, told her eldest son on Saturday, “Don’t think that I died because I did something wrong. Be proud of your mother because she died owning up to the sins of others.”

Read next: Inside Indonesia’s Islamic Boarding School for Transgender People

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TIME indonesia

The Internet Is Begging the Indonesian Government to Spare a Filipina Single Mother’s Life

A protester holds a placard urging the Philippine and Indonesian government to save Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina facing execution in Indonesia, during a protest in front of the Indonesian embassy in Makati city
Romeo Ranoco—Reuters A protester holds a placard urging the Philippine and Indonesian governments to save Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina facing execution in Indonesia, during a protest in front of the Indonesian embassy in Manila on April 24, 2015

"Is my President a murderer?”

As the executions of 10 drug convicts loom in Indonesia, a massive social-media campaign has kicked off in support of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina maid set to face the firing squad.

The hashtag #MaryJane was the No. 2 trending topic on Indonesia’s Twittersphere on Friday morning, hours after Veloso was transferred to the execution island of Nusakambangan. As her family flew to the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, where Veloso was held, Indonesians rallied to urge President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, to spare the life of the 30-year-old migrant worker.

Indonesian celebrity chef Rahung Nasution launched a tweet storm on Friday morning, detailing how Veloso ended up in an Indonesian prison and how the Indonesian government handled her case. “Jokowi is not battling drugs. He is executing poor women, like the migrant workers in Saudi Arabia!! #MaryJane,” Rahung tweeted, referring to the two Indonesian domestic workers executed in the Middle East country last week.

Dewi Candraningrum, the chief editor of feminist magazine Jurnal Perempuan (Women’s Journal), uploaded her charcoal-on-paper drawing Mary Jane and tweeted, “She is a victim of trafficking. Is my President a murderer?” The National Commission on Violence Against Women also posted a series of tweets on why the government should not execute Veloso.

One Twitter user wrote, “I agree with death penalty for drug cases, as long as it’s for big-time drug dealers, not couriers or duped victims like #MaryJane.”

Another tweeted, “Sorry for #MaryJane how is it possible for a victim of a drug dealer is sentenced to death. As if people’s life is a plaything.”

While local support for other foreign drug convicts has been muted, there is a wider sympathy toward Veloso, a single mother of two, who said she was not a drug dealer but a victim of trafficking and was duped into carrying narcotics into the country. She was initially promised a job in Malaysia, but upon arrival there, she was told her job was in Indonesia. While in Malaysia, the drugs were secretly sewn into a suitcase she was lent, her family said. She was arrested at Yogyakarta airport in April 2010 after authorities found 2.6 kg of heroin in her suitcase. She was found guilty and sentenced to death later that year.

Veloso launched her first appeal in March, questioning the competence of the translator provided to her during the trial, but it was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court. She was transferred from Yogyakarta’s prison to Nusakambangan execution island at 1 a.m. on Friday.

On Friday, the Philippine government filed a second appeal for judicial review on behalf of Veloso in another attempt to save her life.

TIME indonesia

A Student Got Prosecuted in Indonesia for Moaning About Her College Town

INDONESIA-ISLAM-MEDIA-CULTURE
ROMEO GACAD—AFP/Getty Images A picture taken on June 27, 2009, shows an lndonesian Facebook patron looking at her page at an internet shop in Jakarta

Anything from complaints about service to criticisms of a spouse's employer can, and is, being prosecuted under Indonesia's shockingly harsh Internet defamation law

Last year, a 26-year-old Indonesian law student, angry with her experience at a petrol station in her university town, Yogyakarta (or Yogya), wrote this on the social-media site Path: “Yogya is poor, stupid and uncultured. Friends in Jakarta and Bandung, please don’t stay in Yogya.”

A few years before that, in the Indonesian city of Bandung, a mother of three had a private chat with a friend on Facebook, confiding about her then husband’s alleged domestic violence.

Those two women were later taken to court.

The student, Florence Sihombing, was found guilty on April 1 by the Yogyakarta District Court of defaming the city of Yogyakarta and given a two-month jail sentence, a $770 fine, and six months’ probation — even though she had apologized profusely to the Sultan and citizens of Yogyakarta. The mother, Wisni Yetty, 47, was found guilty of defaming her ex-husband by the Bandung District Court on the same day and given five months in prison and ordered to pay a $7,700 fine. The judge overlooked the fact that her husband had hacked into her Facebook account.

What’s even more shocking is that there is nothing exceptional about these cases or the punishments given. Scores of Indonesian netizens are landing themselves in legal trouble because of what they say online. It belies the image of Indonesia as the world’s third biggest democracy, whose citizens are not only prolific users of social media but also enjoy greater Internet freedom, especially compared with their Southeast Asian neighbors.

Communicating across social networks is everything in Indonesia. The country is the world’s biggest market for Path, fourth largest for Facebook and fifth for Twitter. It is also a huge market for messaging apps, from WhatsApp to BlackBerry Messenger.

The appetite for online discussion and debate, meanwhile, is ferocious. Long before tech venture capitalist Marc Andreessen made popular a Twitter genre known as tweetstorm, Indonesia’s Twittersphere already had kultwit, or Twitter lectures, on everything from religious doctrine to political gossip. A tweet on then presidential candidate (now President) Joko Widodo became the world’s No. 2 most recirculated tweet last year, second only to the star-studded Oscar selfie.

The Indonesian constitution guarantees freedom of expression. However, as the cases of Sihombing and Wisni attest, anyone can be punished harshly under the draconian Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) Law for a throwaway remark online. Since the Indonesian parliament passed the legislation in 2008, more than 70 people have been reported to police, arrested, taken to court and even jailed. Last year alone, there were 44 cases prosecuted under the ITE Law, according to Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network.

Among the targets were ordinary citizens who wrote thoroughly mundane things. There was a housewife who criticized the management staff of the company where her husband once worked. A patient who complained about the service she got at a private hospital. A blogger who engaged in a Twitter war with a former lawmaker that ended in a suspended jail sentence for the blogger. An anticorruption activist accused of defaming a politician on BlackBerry Messenger, who spent 100 days in prison before he was freed by a court in South Sulawesi province. And a civil servant who faced trial because he criticized a local district head on the Line messaging app.

Critics dub the ITE legislation “rubber law” because its ambiguous wording makes it open to broad interpretation, and they warn it could be used to muzzle journalists and activists

Cases of supposed defamation — like Sihombing’s and Wisni’s — are prosecuted under Article 27 of the law. Abdullah Alamudi, senior lecturer at Dr. Soetomo Press Institute who was a member of Indonesia’s Press Council from 2007 to 2010, calls it the “ghost article” because its inclusion took many people by surprise. “That particular article was practically inserted at the eleventh hour,” he says. “Not a single member of the Press Council then, including myself, knew about it until the next day, after the bill was passed into law.”

In response to mounting criticism, Minister of Communication and Informatics Rudiantara promises that a revision of the law is on the parliament’s agenda this year. But Alamudi is skeptical.

“People in parliament like Article 27 because it makes journalists and members of the public cautious about criticizing them,” he tells TIME, calling for the the legislation to be reviewed instead by the Constitutional Court, and pointing out that many of the cases being prosecuted are over matters of opinion.

“If people can’t express their opinion,” Alamudi says, “one day they won’t be allowed to think.”

TIME World

This Indonesian House Is for Sale and Comes With a Pond, a Backyard and … a Wife

If you don't talk the price down, you can marry the owner

A homeowner in Indonesia has put her house on the market, and herself with it.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Sleman — a sleepy district near the Javanese city of Yogyakarta — comes with a fishpond, spacious backyard and a chance to ask 40-year-old owner Wina Lia for her hand in marriage.

The asking price is the rough equivalent of $76,500. “Buyers who don’t negotiate the price,” the sales literature says, “can ask the owner to marry (terms and conditions apply).”

Wina’s online ad went viral, prompting a local news outlet to track her down and confirm that the offer was genuine. “Indeed it’s true, Wina is ready to be married by a house buyer,” the headline says, as tweeted by Sleman’s unofficial Twitter account.

Dian Purna Dirgantara, the realtor who concocted the plan, tells TIME that his advertisement is working.

“Since yesterday morning there are continuous calls, I don’t count how many, there must be dozens or even hundreds.” He clarifies that marriage isn’t a must. “If someone just wants the house, they can have that,” he said.

Wina, a single mother, told news outlet Kompas.com that the idea was dreamed up when she mentioned her desire to once again find a partner.

“Dian suggested I put up the tagline ‘Buy the house and marry the owner at the same time.’ And I said O.K. to it. I’m looking for a husband anyway,” she said.

Read next: Watch This Guy Propose to His Girlfriend 365 Times Without Her Knowing

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TIME indonesia

Bali Nine Arrive at Indonesian Execution Island as Jokowi Spurns Clemency Pleas

Australian death row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are seen in a holding cell waiting to attend a review hearing in the District Court of Denpasar in Bali
Antara Photo Agency/Reuters Australian death-row prisoners Andrew Chan, center, and Myuran Sukumaran, left, are seen in a holding cell waiting to attend a review hearing in the District Court of Denpasar, on the Indonesian island of Bali, on Oct. 8, 2010

Despite taking a hard-line stance with foreigners on death row in Indonesia, President Joko Widodo has vowed to save the lives of his compatriots facing execution abroad

In the darkness of early morning hours Wednesday, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were woken by the Kerobokan prison guards in Bali. It took them 10 minutes to wash and dress for the transfer to Nusakambangan, the prison island in Central Java, where death-row prisoners are set to face the firing squads.

Chan and Sukumaran, sentenced to death in 2006 for drug trafficking, are among a group of 10 prisoners slated to be executed in Indonesia. Despite numerous and repeated pleas from across the globe to spare them — some of whom, like the two Australians, say they have reformed behind bars — Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, stands firm on his decision not to pardon drug convicts on death row.

On Thursday, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop offered to swap three Indonesian prisoners held in Australia in a last-ditch attempt to save her compatriots. Although no official response has so far been received, Jokowi told al-Jazeera that the foreigners’ executions would at least not take place this week.

Many, including local rights activists, have criticized Jokowi’s blanket rejection of clemency and called on the 53-year-old carpenter’s son to consider each case on its own merits. Foreign leaders from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as musicians from Black Sabbath and Napalm Death (Jokowi is a big heavy-metal fan), have asked him to show mercy.

Jokowi announced in December that he wouldn’t give clemency to 64 prisoners on death row for drug-related crimes because Indonesia is in a state of “drug emergency.” He said 4.5 million people need rehabilitation and 18,000 people die every year because of illegal-drug use — a claim that, research analyst Claudia Stoicescu of Harm Reduction International points out, is based on “questionable statistics.”

Todung Mulya Lubis, lawyer for Chan and Sukumaran, questions the government’s decision to proceed with transferring the pair, known as the Bali Nine duo, to Nusakambangan while they are still waiting for the legal appeal process. “We still have hope, but we realize it’s only a miracle that can fulfill it,” Todung tells TIME. “They are now in Nusakambangan, and that means it’s just a matter of time [before the executions], likely to be days.”

Other drug convicts awaiting judicial reviews include a Filipina mother of two and a French citizen. Lawyers said Brazilian citizen Rodrigo Gularte should be exempted from the death penalty because he suffers from severe mental illness, but Indonesia’s Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo rejected this plea.

There are few public figures who openly criticize the death penalty in Indonesia, including Jakarta Governor Basuki T. Purnama, who was Jokowi’s deputy. Overall, however, Jokowi enjoys considerable public support for being “tough” on drug traffickers. On Dec. 24, weeks before six drug convicts were executed in January, he visited the headquarters of Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, the two biggest mass Islamic organizations in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, and received official blessing for his death-penalty policy.

Between 1999 and 2014, democratic Indonesia executed a total of 27 people, of whom seven were foreigners. In contrast, five of the six people executed on Jan. 18 were foreign citizens, and nine of the 10 set to be put to death this month are non-Indonesians. All of those executed or slated to be executed so far this year are drug convicts, while only seven of the 27 people executed in 1999 to 2014 were drug convicts. “With the focus on narcotics crimes, foreigners are likely to be executed,” says Dave McRae, senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute.

Under the presidency of Jokowi’s predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia didn’t carry out any executions from 2009 to 2012, or in 2014. As Yudhoyono pushed a policy to save Indonesian citizens on death row abroad, he gave clemency to drug convicts, including Schapelle Corby of Australia, a decision that stirred a firestorm of public hostility against foreign drug traffickers.

The Jokowi administration has announced 20 executions scheduled for this year — that doubles the existing record number in the post-Suharto-dictatorship Indonesia: in 2008, 10 prisoners were put to death, including the Bali bombers. “It is ironic,” Todung says, “that so many executions happen in democratic Indonesia.”

Notably, Jokowi’s hard-line stance jars with his repeated pledges to save the lives of Indonesians on death row abroad. On Feb. 27, Ajeng Yulia, a 21-year-old Indonesian, was sentenced to death in Malaysia for drug trafficking. Her case adds to the long list of Indonesian citizens facing execution outside their homeland — according to the Foreign Ministry’s count on Feb. 24, a total of 229 Indonesians have been sentenced to death overseas, including 131 for drugs cases. Jokowi, however, doesn’t appear to register the contradiction between vowing to save the lives of Indonesian citizens abroad while dismissing pleas from foreign governments on behalf of their citizens.

“We don’t have moral strength when we try to defend our migrant workers who are sentenced to death,” Todung says.

Instead, Indonesia has stepped up its nationalistic rhetoric. Jokowi shrugged off diplomatic repercussions from countries like Brazil, whose President refused to receive the Indonesian envoy’s credentials. “Don’t try to interfere,” Jokowi said Monday. “This is our legal sovereignty.” Armed-forces chief General Moeldoko dispatched four fighter jets to escort Chan and Sukumaran’s chartered plane en route to Nusakambangan. Says McRae: “This has become a political theater that Indonesian can stare down political pressure.”

TIME portfolio

Meet the Sulfur Miners of Eastern Java

Photos reveal the hazardous work of sulfur miners at Kawah Ijen, a crater in eastern Java, Indonesia

Looming 2,799 m (9,183 ft.) above sea level, Gunung Ijen in Indonesia’s eastern Java is a volcanic wonder that attract hundreds of foreign and domestic tourists daily. During daytime, they climb the mountaintop to reach Kawah Ijen, the volcano’s crater lake famous for its mesmerizing turquoise hue. When darkness descends, hikers clamor to witness the glowing blue liquid fire that streams from the crater down the mountainsides. It isn’t lava, but the sulfur for which Kawah Ijen is renowned.

It is also sulfur that brings hundreds of miners to Kawah Ijen every day. They make the perilous journey climbing 9,000 ft. to the summit and then 3,000 ft. down into the crater. The miners descend to the womb of the volcano, defying scorching heat and rarefied air, in search of the precious material that is used to manufacture countless products — from matches, rubber, insecticides and fertilizer to cosmetics, batteries, sugar and film.

Rome-based photographer Luca Catalano Gonzaga traveled to Indonesia in late last year and spent 10 days at Gunung Ijen to capture the miners’ daily toil. Many of the photos were taken after dark, as many men prefer to work when the heat is more tolerable.

Gonzaga titles his project “Devil’s Gold,” a biblical allusion to hell as the fiery lake that burns with brimstone — the ancient name for sulfur. Sulfur mining at Kawah Ijen is certainly a hellish job. Not much has changed since mining officially began here in 1968. Every day, around 300 men leave the base camp carrying traditional equipment like torches and metal poles to break the sulfur slabs, though with little protective gear. Only a few men are given gas masks, while the rest rely on wet scarves or rags to cover their mouths, in a largely futile attempt to protect themselves from the caustic gas that singes the eyes, throats and lungs, and can even dissolve teeth.

Once the miners collect their sulfur, they haul the fully loaded baskets, weighing between 70 kg (150 lb.) and 90 kg (200 lb.), out from the crater, climbing 60-degree slopes, and then down to the base camp. They get 10,000 rupiah (78¢) for 10 kg (22 lb.) of sulfur. Suwono, 33, works four days a week, from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., to support his wife and son. Carrying 70 kg of sulfur twice a day earns him 140,000 rupiah ($11) — but it also comes with a price: Suwono has a disfigured back. Deformed spines and bent legs are disturbingly common among miners.

Such physically demanding and hazardous work means miners’ average life expectancy barely reaches 50 years. More than 70 people have died in work-related accidents at Kawah Ijen in the past four decades, many due to the toxic fumes that billow suddenly from the rock’s fissures.

Aware of the risks they face daily, the miners don’t want their children to follow in their footsteps. “They want to throw off the shackles of a destiny,” Gonzaga says, “for this reason, they push their kids to go to school and have an education.”

“Devil’s Gold” is part of a wider project called Invisible People, which is funded by Nando Peretti Foundation.

Luca Catalano Gonzaga is a photographer born in Rome. He co-founded Witness Image and focuses on covering human rights issues.

Michelle Molloy, who edited this photo essay, is a senior international photo editor at TIME.

TIME indonesia

Indonesia’s Jokowi Marks 100 Days of Presidency With Scandal, Falling Support

Indonesian President Joko Widodo speaks to the media about AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in Sorong, West Papua,
Antara Photo Agency/Reuters Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, speaks to the media about AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 in Sorong, West Papua, on Dec. 28, 2014

Following a slew of public scandals and broken campaign promises, Indonesia's "new hope" is hemorrhaging support

On Sunday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo wrote on his Facebook page: “Suro Diro Joyonirat Lebur Dening Pangastuti.” The Javanese words of wisdom teach that stubbornness, narrow-mindedness and anger can only be overcome by wisdom, kindness and patience.

Jokowi, as the President is popularly known, could use lots of wisdom and patience these days. His first 100 days in office — usually a peak of a leader’s approval ratings — have been marked with rising public disappointment and slipping popularity — not to mention a major political crisis he has largely created himself.

On Jan. 9, Jokowi shocked the nation when he nominated Budi Gunawan as police chief. Budi, a onetime adjutant to Megawati Sukarnoputri, former President and chairwoman of Jokowi’s party, PDI-P, and reportedly also close to Vice President Jusuf Kalla, had been investigated for months by the Corruption Eradication Agency. Days later, on Jan. 13, the agency, known in Bahasa Indonesia as KPK, named the three-star police general as a graft suspect in the so-called fat-bank-account case. Despite this, the divided parliament — seen as the most corrupt public institution in Indonesia, along with the police — was united to endorse Budi.

On Friday, the police made a stunning move, arresting the highly respected KPK deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto. He was accused of inciting perjury when he was a lawyer representing regional politicians in a Constitutional Court case in 2010 — a trumped-up charge, say both KPK and civil-society figures. The news of the arrest, and images of an anticorruption official in handcuffs, sparked widespread anger, with citizens seeing it as another attempt by the police to weaken and intimidate the KPK. (In 2009, the police charged two KPK deputies with bribery; the Constitutional Court later ruled the charges were fabricated.) In the days that followed, the agency’s chief and its two other deputies were reported to police as well.

So far, Jokowi looks reluctant to take concrete steps to resolve the “gecko vs. crocodile” conflict, as the fight between the graft and crime busters has been dubbed. He gave in a little to public pressure by delaying Budi’s appointment and naming the deputy police chief as acting top cop. As the crisis mounted, he said on Sunday he would form an independent team — consisting of ex-KPK officials, a police general, a former Constitutional Court Justice and scholars — to advise him on the controversy. Otherwise, though, he has maintained a neutral stance, saying: “There shouldn’t be any crimininalization” and that both law-enforcement agencies should help each other.

Expectations were high when the former Solo mayor turned Jakarta governor was inaugurated as President on Oct. 20. The down-to-earth politician not only had pledged to push the badly needed economic and political reforms in the world’s fourth most populous nation — from removing red tape to fighting corruption — but also showed concerns on human rights. Jokowi, the first Indonesian President with no ties to the country’s political and military elite, is seen as “A New Hope,” as TIME’s cover said. The new elected leader, aware of Indonesia’s significance as the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, told U.S. President Barack Obama in November in Beijing: “The elections have shown that Islam and democracy can work hand in hand.”

But optimism has turned into skepticism. “One hundred days in and Jokowi is already embroiled in a complex political conflict that threatens his presidency and is entirely of his own making,” says Jacqui Baker, lecturer in Southeast Asian politics at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

Joko Widodo means “courageous man” in Javanese, and there were times when the former furniture businessman won kudos for showing decisive leadership. He was hands-on, swift and empathetic in handling the search-and-rescue efforts of the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea late December. Economists heaped praise when he slashed fuel subsidies — a hot political issue that had led to riots in the past — and pledged to allocate the subsidy fund to finance infrastructure and welfare programs.

The 30% fuel-prices hike in November accelerated the inflation rate, however, and hurt his popularity. In a survey conducted in January, before the police-chief debacle, his approval rating stood at around 62%, down from nearly 75% in mid-October.

“The trend [of Jokowi’s popularity] is going down. He loses his shine,” says Burhanuddin Muhtadi, director of public affairs at pollster Lembaga Survei Indonesia, which conducted the surveys and will release the January results early next month.

It didn’t help that Jokowi had backed down from his campaign promise that he wouldn’t do any horse-trading, a fanciful notion to anyone familiar with Indonesia’s schismatic realpolitik. Being a political outsider, he needs support from the so-called party oligarchs — the political establishment who supports him, as reflected in his Cabinet lineup and other high-ranking appointments. Nearly half of his ministers are members of the political parties supporting him — Megawati’s daughter holds a senior Cabinet position — and his choices for Attorney General and police chief are linked with political patrons or their parties.

As it turns out, the President’s powerful backers are his major political liabilities. “Jokowi has revealed himself to be woefully hamstrung by his political allies, [Nasdem party chairman] Surya Paloh and Megawati — and their more experienced party machines,” adds Baker. “He is clearly outclassed and outmaneuvered.”

Despite the controversies, Jokowi has scored populist points through policies that draw out strong nationalist sentiments, such as destroying illegal foreign fishing boats that flout Indonesia’s maritime borders, and refusing to give clemency to drug traffickers on death row. On Jan. 18, Indonesia’s firing squads executed six convicted smugglers, five of whom were foreigners, sparking condemnation from human-rights activists and foreign leaders. Brazil and the Netherlands, whose citizens were among the dead, recalled their ambassadors in protest, while Nigeria summoned Jakarta’s envoy. The media in neighboring countries have similarly expressed dismay at Jokowi’s boat-burning policies.

“Jokowi has very few ways of asserting leadership,” Baker says. “Burning boats and executing drug traffickers are some of the few avenues left open to him.”

Even if Jokowi could get himself out of the “gecko vs. crocodile” controversy, his biggest political test yet to date, it may not be the last time that he is torn between the wish of his electorate and that of his political patrons. So far it’s the people who feel he is letting them down. Some of his biggest supporters have become his fiercest critics, and a few are already half-jesting about who else they should back in the next presidential election — and that does not bode well just three months in.

TIME Aviation

Row Over Budget Airlines Erupts in Indonesia After AirAsia Disaster

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 29 : AirAsia aircrafts on the strip at Soekarno Hatta International Airport near Jakarta, on December 29, 2014. Malaysia, Singapore and Australia  have deployed planes and ships to assist in the Indonesian search for the missing AirAsia flight near Borneo while flying from Surabaya to Singapore with 162 passengers on board.   (Photo by Agoes Rudianto/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Anadolu Agency—2014 Anadolu Agency AirAsia aircraft on the strip at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport near Jakarta on Dec. 29, 2014

Proposed restrictions on ultra-low fares have enraged Indonesian travelers

A political row between Indonesia’s Transport Ministry, low-cost air carriers and the flying public is threatening to overshadow the ongoing salvage operation for AirAsia Flight QZ 8501, which crashed on Dec. 28 soon after leaving the Indonesian city of Surabaya for Singapore.

Indonesian news portal Detik reported Wednesday that bargain tickets offered by low-cost carriers — some of which go for as little as $4 — were to be banned.

“This is so that the airline has enough financial room to raise the safety standard,” said Transport Ministry official Hadi M. Djuraid. “We have no problem if they lower the service standard … but lowering the safety standard isn’t allowed.”

AirAsia didn’t immediately respond for TIME’s request for comment on the policy shift. However, Indonesian social-media users were scornful because the nation’s 250 million people increasingly rely on air travel to hop around the world’s largest archipelago, as well as travel abroad for leisure and work.

Some 700,000 Indonesian migrant workers are dispersed around Asia, chiefly in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, with remittances sent to family back home reaching $6.6 billion in 2009.

Any restrictions would also not be good for airlines such as AirAsia, already reeling from allegations by Indonesian officials that Flight QZ 8501 was only cleared to operate a few days each week, but crucially not on the Sunday when it crashed. AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes vehemently denied this was the case in a statement on Wednesday, describing the mix-up as “purely an administrative error.”

“We have the right to fly Surabaya-Singapore. We had flown that schedule and had rights for seven days a week,” he stated, according to the Straits Times. “We have secured both slots as well as approval from both Indonesia and Singapore.”

Nevertheless, Indonesian authorities have suspended five more key AirAsia domestic flight routes from Surabaya pending an investigation. The Surabaya-Singapore route had already been halted.

Indonesian authorities also criticized AirAsia Captain Iriyanto, who piloted QZ 8501, for apparently not picking up the air-traffic control’s weather-briefing document before his flight, as they claimed regulations require.

However, Fernandes defended his staff in a statement issued to CNN Wednesday, saying that the same meteorological data is disseminated electronically to all flight crew by AirAsia, whose practices mirror those of many other airlines.

Commercial airline pilots also rallied to Iriyanto’s defense. “Don’t make things up and say pilots are at fault if they don’t undergo briefing. It is not part of the required procedures [before taking off],” senior pilot Sardjono Jhony Tjitrokusumo said in a written statement, the Jakarta Globe reported. “Don’t suddenly become an aviation expert, as if you know everything about the industry. Please be wise.”

TIME Aviation

More Bodies Are Being Recovered From the AirAsia Disaster

Government official tries to calm a family member of passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 at a waiting area in Juanda International Airport
Beawiharta—Reuters A government official, left, tries to calm a family member of passengers on board AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 at a waiting area in Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia, on Dec. 30, 2014

But bad weather is stirring up sediment and hampering the search

Seven bodies from AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 have now been recovered from the waters off Indonesian Borneo, including one in a trademark red flight-attendant uniform, as friends and relatives of those who were on the ill-fated Airbus A320-200 struggle to come to terms with the fact that all 162 passengers and crew are presumed dead.

It has emerged that many of the passengers who boarded the flight that left Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport for Singapore early Sunday morning — only to vanish from radar 42 minutes after takeoff — were ethnic Chinese families going on year-end holidays to a destination highly popular with Indonesian Chinese.

The victims included one student and seven graduates of St. Albertus, a Roman Catholic high school in Malang, a town near Surabaya, according to Anne-Marie, a member of the school’s alumni association. The group was traveling with family members. One of them traveled with her fiancé — the two planned to marry next year — his mother and father, who was also an alumnus.

“Many are shocked,” Anne-Marie tells TIME. “Especially because all of them died with their families too.”

The Jawa Pos, a regional newspaper, reported Wednesday that in total 35 residents of Malang had been lost in the disaster.

Officials have meanwhile pinpointed the location of the wreckage on the bottom of the Java Sea, their search greatly aided by two fishermen who brought recovery teams to waters where they said they saw and heard an explosion on Sunday.

Bodies were first spotted about 100 miles (160 km) from Central Kalimantan province, in southern Borneo. A sonar scan later uncovered what is now understood to be the fuselage of the plane on the seabed.

Poor weather is hampering efforts to recover more victims. Lashing rain has stirred up sediment in what is already murky water, and salvagers must sift through a large volume of assorted flotsam — such as discarded fishing nets, shipping refuse and plastic waste — from this busy maritime thoroughfare in order to recover parts of the aircraft.

Working in their favor, however, is the shallowness of this part of the Java Sea — around 100 ft. (30 m). The search for the sunken flight data recorder can be simply conducted by divers using hand-held locators instead of submarines. There is also the likelihood that debris will not have spread far.

“When a plane hits the sea it’s quite normal to get a minimal amount of floating wreckage and for it to be quite concentrated,” David Newbery, a Hong Kong flight captain and accredited aircraft-accident investigator, tells TIME.

Indonesian President Joko Widowo said Tuesday that the priority would be the recovery of bodies from the stricken aircraft. After that, crash investigators will have to piece together what exactly caused the plane to come down, with bad weather still presumed to be a contributing factor.

“To the family members, I feel your loss in this tragedy,” he told those gathered at the Surabaya airport late Tuesday. “I pray you find the strength and will to face this challenging time.” On Wednesday, he issued a national call for restrained New Year celebrations in the wake of the disaster.

The East Java provincial government has canceled a planned New Year’s Eve concert in Surabaya. Instead, Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini will hold an interfaith-prayer meeting.

Ujang Iskandar, the district chief overseeing Pangkalan Bun, the Central Kalimantan town nearest to where bodies and wreckage were seen, has issued an order banning “noisy parties, music and fireworks” out of respect for the AirAsia victims, and will also lead an interfaith-prayer gathering.

TIME indonesia

Papua Remains a Killing Field Even Under New Indonesian President Jokowi

INDONESIA-RIGHT-MILITARY-UNREST
Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images A Papuan activist delivers speech at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Jakarta on Dec. 10, 2014, during a protest against the killings of teenagers in the Papuan town of Enarotali two days earlier

The death of five high school students in skirmishes with Indonesian soldiers demonstrate the huge task ahead for Jokowi

The vivid images that emerged from Indonesia’s Papua province this week are pretty gruesome: teenage boys in school uniforms lie in a pool of blood, surrounded by shell-shocked residents. They are a grim reminder of the ongoing human-rights abuses in the country’s easternmost corner, wracked by a low-level armed separatist movement and heavy-handed military crackdown for about half-century.

On Monday, five high school students, aged 17 to 18, died in the town of Enarotali after security forces allegedly shot at a crowd of about 800 Papuans — many of whom were pupils — protesting on a soccer field, not far from the military and police offices. At least 17 civilians were wounded, including women and children. A sixth victim died on Tuesday, Papuan media reported.

The ill-fated protest was sparked by a brawl between troops and local residents, including children setting up Christmas decorations, shortly after midnight — it ended with a 12-year-old boy being beaten by rifle butts and stones thrown at the military personnel. The U.N. Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have since called for an independent investigation into the deadly shooting.

The killings raise doubt on the commitment of new Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, whose election victory has buoyed hopes that the world’s largest Muslim majority nation may finally address rights abuses, self-determination grievances and economic inequality — issues that have long plagued the resource-rich provinces of Papua and West Papua.

However, the most recent shooting is “one of hundreds” of rights-abuse cases documented by HRW over the past 15 years in the Papua region, says Andreas Harsono, the group’s Indonesia researcher. “None of these have been resolved. If anyone is ever put on trial, he would be sent to jail for a few months, but no military men nor policemen have ever been fired because of human-rights violations in Papua.” Indonesian police and military have denied involvement in the Monday shooting — the army chief of staff even suggested the Papuan rebels were behind the incident.

Jokowi, who traveled to Papua and West Papua during parliamentary and presidential campaign seasons, has shown plenty of goodwill gestures to the troubled region. In a June visit, the then presidential candidate told an adoring crowd of his family’s close affinity to the Papuans’ homeland. “My wife was named Iriana because her grandfather was a teacher who was deployed to the then named Irian Jaya for quite some time,” he said, referring to the old provincial name of Papua.

Just weeks after his election victory, Jokowi met with Papuan politicians and leaders and promised to boost dialogue between Jakarta and the two provinces. In October, the President made Yohana Yembise his Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, the first Papuan woman appointed to the Cabinet.

The Papua region, which has some of the world’s largest copper and gold mines, is the only remaining area plagued by armed separatist conflicts in Indonesia. (East Timor voted for independence in 1999 and Aceh rebels reached a peace deal with Jakarta in 2005.) While the two Papuan provinces are currently a virtually no-go zone for foreign reporters — two French journalists making a documentary on Papua’s insurgency were arrested last August, jailed for more than two months and later deported — Jokowi has spoken about lifting media restrictions.

Conversely, though, Jokowi has been heavily criticized not only for naming a hard-line retired general, Ryamizard Ryacudu, as Defense Minister, but also for supporting an increased military presence in the region, including a plan to establish a new military command. Indonesian rights activists say the higher number of security forces could trigger even more violence in Papua.

And like the Tibetans, Uighurs and Mongolians in China’s periphery regions, Papuans are also worried of the influx of new migrants into their homeland — a number that is likely to increase if the new Transmigration Minister could push a migration program to Papua from other islands, especially the densely populated Java. “It is seen as an attempt to Indonesianize Papua,” Harsono tells TIME.

One day after the shooting, in an International Human Rights Day event in the southern Javanese city of Yogyakarta, Jokowi reiterated his human-rights commitment. “The government is paying attention and committed not only to resolve past human-rights abuses but also to prevent rights violations from being repeated in the future,” he said

That may be reassuring to some, but Papuans and human-rights activists are demanding more concrete actions, not just promises, from their new leader. “After nearly two months in power, nothing has been realized yet,” Harsono says about Jokowi. “There have been no significant changes.”

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