Posts Tagged ‘Indonesia’

Philippine troops kill two militant leaders allied to IS group

October 16, 2017


© Ferdinandh Cabrera, AFP | Smoke billows from houses after aerial bombings by Philippine air force planes on Islamist militant positions in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on September 17.


Latest update : 2017-10-16

Philippine troops killed two leaders of a militant alliance in an operation in southern Marawi City on Monday, the defence minister said, a big boost to a military battling to contain the spread of Islamic State’s radical ideology.

Isnilon Hapilon, Islamic State’s anointed “emir” in Southeast Asia, and Omarkhayam Maute, one of two Middle East-educated brothers at the helm of the militant alliance, were killed in an operation based on information from a recently rescued hostage.

“Following their operational plan, they (troops) were able to go this morning… they were killed,” Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters.

“We were able to get a testimony from a hostage. She was able to confirm the presence of Isnilon and Maute in that particular building. That’s the building that we assaulted early this morning.”

Their deaths will be a major win for the military, which has been criticised for its slow progress in retaking Marawi, the country’s only Muslim majority city, and the ease at which rebels laid siege to it on May 23.

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have been displaced by the fighting, which the authorities say has killed 813 rebels, 47 civilians and 162 military. Child soldiers and teenagers are among the militant fighters.

The rebel occupation of the heart of Marawi has been the biggest internal security crisis in the Catholic-majority Philippines for years, compounding fears that Islamic State’s ideology and its advanced recruitment methods are more prevalent on the island of Mindanao than was previously imagined.

Another leader, Abdullah Maute, the group’s military commanders, was reported by the army to have been killed in August, though no body was found to prove his death. Lorenzana said the military was trying to locate another rebel commander, Malaysian operative Mahmud Ahmad.

The leaders have been central to the rebels regrouping,re-arming and recruiting after previous clashes over the past two years with the Maute group, a well-funded, family-led extremist group that emerged from relative obscurity.

The Dawla Islamiya rebel alliance is comprised of fighters from the Maute group from Hapilon’s radical faction of Abu Sayyaf, and aided by foreigners from countries that include Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and some Middle East states.

Experts say foreigners have been instrumental in recruiting for the movement, preying on disenfranchised youth.

End is near

Lorenzana said the battle for Marawi could be over imminently, adding that 17 hostages were rescued on Monday. He said it was premature to discuss lifting martial law in Mindanao, which is in place until the end of the year.

“The indication here is that the Marawi incident is close to the end. We may announce the termination of hostilities in the couple of days.”

Lorenzana said he and President Rodrigo Duterte postponed a trip to Marawi on Monday when troops informed them an operation to kill Maute and Hapilon was in place.

The insurgents have surprised the military by their organisation, combat capability and their endurance of more than 130 days of ground offensives and air strikes from fighter jets, bombers and attack helicopters.

Philippine troops have been supported by U.S. and Australian technical support, including use of surveillance planes.

Rommel Banlaoi, head of the Philippine Institute for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said Monday’s operation was a “tremendous setback” to the pro-Islamic state groups in the region, but warned the battle against extremism was far from over.

“The death of the two leaders shall not make our law enforcement complacent,” he told news channel ANC.

“We have seen many times in the past, the death of key leaders will not prevent the terrorist organisations from wreaking havoc.”

Banlaoi said retaliatory attacks can be expected from deputies of the militant leadership, who would assume control of the networks. He said intelligence should be strengthened, and efforts made to tackle recruitment.



Indonesia investigates Standard Chartered over $1.4 billion transfer

October 10, 2017


AKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia is investigating reports that $1.4 billion held by Standard Chartered Plc (STAN.L) in Guernsey, mainly on behalf of Indonesian clients, was transferred to Singapore just before the island moved to new tax transparency rules, tax and regulatory officials said.

Image result for Standard Chartered, photos

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Guernsey’s Financial Services Commission were looking into that movement of assets in late 2015 – months before the Channel Island adopted a global framework for the exchange of tax data.

Under those rules, countries automatically share annual reports on accounts belonging to people subject to taxes in each country. Britain, Guernsey and Singapore have all signed up, but Guernsey implemented the rules ahead of Singapore.

The investigation was first reported by Bloomberg, which cited anonymous sources saying that Standard Chartered reported the matter itself to the regulators. It said the sources said regulators were looking into Standard Chartered’s processes, but had not suggested the bank colluded with clients to evade tax.

Standard Chartered said last year that it was to close its trust operations in Guernsey and centralize that part of its business in Singapore.

A Standard Chartered bank in London. The lender told regulators about a transfer made before global transparency rules were adopted. CreditStefan Wermuth/Reuters

Standard Chartered declined to comment. A MAS spokesperson said in a statement: “As our supervisory probe is still ongoing, we are unable to provide more information at this juncture.”

Indonesian and other regulators have not identified the customers or given information about concerns about the funds.

“We are now checking their annual tax reports, as well as their report of assets, for those who participated in the (Indonesian) tax amnesty,” Hestu Yoga Saksama, a spokesman for Indonesia’s tax office, said.

“If those assets are reported in annual reports or declared during the tax amnesty, it surely means there are no problems. But if they were not, we are going to follow up under the prevailing regulations.”

Ken Dwijugiasteadi, the head of the tax office, later told a news conference on Monday that 81 clients were involved in the transfer, including 62 who were tax amnesty participants, and none were government officials, law enforcement officers or in the military.

”We will look for possible tax crimes, but any other criminal probe is not my business,” he said, adding that his office hoped to finish the investigation this month.

Heru Kristiyana, the deputy commissioner for banking at Indonesia’s financial regulator (OJK), told Reuters by text message on Monday that a supervisor was investigating the issue.

He said the regulator was co-ordinating with the director general of taxation and the anti-money laundering agency, the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPTAK).

A spokesman at PPTAK had no immediate comment, while the anti-corruption agency did not immediately respond.

Singapore and Indonesia said in July they were ready to share financial data automatically for tax purposes.

Both countries could start exchanging financial information from next year if they introduce the necessary legislation, Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has said.

The Indonesian government launched a tax amnesty scheme last year to improve compliance and to encourage tax payers to bring back billions of dollars stashed abroad. Most of the offshore assets declared by taxpayers during the amnesty program were kept in Singapore.

Additional reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Kanupriya Kapoor and Anshuman Daga; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Clara Ferreira-Marques, Neil Fullick and Jane Merriman

Urban inequality a growing risk in Asia: World Bank

October 3, 2017



© AFP | Slums in the Philippine capital Manila in front of the upscale Makati district where many of the sprawling city’s wealthiest inhabitants live

SINGAPORE (AFP) – Widening inequality in Asia’s teeming cities could lead to potentially risky social divisions, the World Bank warned Tuesday, urging governments to do more to help the urban poor.

Half of the region’s population live in cities and rapid urbanisation has helped lift 655 million people out of poverty, the bank said in a new report.

But East Asia and the Pacific are still home to the world’s biggest population of slum dwellers at 250 million, sizeable portions of them found in China, Indonesia and the Philippines, the bank said.

While studies on inequality often focus on the disparity between urban and rural areas, the expanding chasm among city dwellers was a major problem, it said.

Victoria Kwakwa, the bank’s vice president for the region, said a growing number of people who move to cities lack access to basic services, housing and jobs, which was creating growing resentment over the gulf between urban rich and poor.

“Widening inequalities can create social divisions in society and it’s much more stark in cities because you have the wealthy living right next door too often to the urban poor in small spaces,” said Judy Baker, the bank’s urban specialist and the report’s lead author.

“We’ve seen in other parts of the world that this can create some unrest,” she told AFP.

The bank urged governments to craft policies targeted at connecting the urban poor with job markets, ensuring quality and affordable housing and access to services such as public transport.

In the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, low-income commuters can spend as much as 36 percent of their monthly expenses on bus fare because of inefficient public transport, the bank said.

In Indonesia, 27 percent of the urban population do not have access to sanitation facilities, higher than 21 percent in the Philippines, it said.

Two Women Plead Not Guilty to Killing North Korean Leader’s Half-Brother

October 2, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — Two women accused of assassinating the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with a banned nerve agent pleaded not guilty at the start of a high-profile murder trial in a Malaysian court on Monday.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, a Vietnamese, are charged with killing Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with VX, a chemical poison banned by the United Nations, at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on Feb. 13.

Both women wore bullet-proof vests as they were led into the court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital. They face the death penalty if convicted.

The two women nodded their heads when the charge was read out to them at the Shah Alam court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital.

Siti was dressed in a black floral suit, while Huong wore a white long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans.

The prosecution said in its charge sheet their actions showed “intent to kill the victim” by smearing his face and eyes with VX nerve agent, which a post-mortem confirmed had killed Kim.

Defense lawyers demanded that the prosecution immediately name four other suspects who have also been charged in the case but who are still at large. The prosecution said their identities would be revealed during the trial.

The women had told their lawyers they did not know they were participating in a deadly attack and believed they were carrying out a prank for a reality TV show.

They had carried out several practice runs at shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur ahead of the attack on Kim Jong Nam, the prosecution said.

“The prank practice carried out by the first and second accused with the supervision of the four who are still at large was preparation to see through their common intention to kill the victim,” the prosecution said in its charge sheet.

South Korean and U.S. officials have said that Kim Jong Un’s regime was behind the murder. North Korea denies the allegation.

The trial is expected to run until Nov. 30 and the prosecution is expected to call up to 40 witnesses.

The prosecution also said in its opening statement that expert testimony would be presented to prove that VX was the cause of death.

(The story fixes typographical error to “vests”, paragraph 3)

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Tavleen Tarrant; Writing by Joseph Sipalan; Edting by Praveen Menon and Paul Tait)

Thousands of Indonesians Hold Anti-Communist Protest in Capital — “President Joko Widodo is the son of communists and was not a Muslim”

September 29, 2017

JAKARTA — Several thousand protesters led by hardline Islamist groups held a rally on Friday outside Indonesia’s parliament to protest against what they called a growing threat from communism in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

Rows of police stood behind barbed wire with water cannons at the ready, but the rally was peaceful and the number of protesters far smaller than the estimated tens of thousands expected by organisers and police.

Some protesters prayed and unfurled banners rejecting communism and also a government decree targeting large organisations that was used to disband the Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia.

“The country is giving space to communists and their activities,” said one protester, Mohamad Khairudin, 42, who had travelled from Surabaya, the country’s second largest city.

“Members of parliament have communist sympathies. And at the same time they are limiting space for Islamic organisations and criminalising ulama (scholars).”

 Image result for Protest in Jakarta, anti-communist, September 29, 2017, photos

Khairudin said he tended to believe reports on social media that President Joko Widodo was the son of communists and was not a Muslim, but did not provide any evidence of this or of a rise in communism.

Widodo has denied having any communist ties.

Communism remains an emotive issue in Indonesia and the protest took place on the eve of the 52nd anniversary of the murder of six army generals and a young lieutenant by rebel armed forces personnel, which prompted the retaliatory slaughter of at least 500,000 alleged communists.

The massacres ushered in more than 30 years of authoritarian rule under Suharto, the former general who led the communist purge.

 20,000 security personnel guard anti-communist rally in Jakarta

Indonesia’s Communist Party (PKI), once one of the world’s largest, remains outlawed, however, and there appears to be little evidence of a Marxist ideology taking hold in Indonesia.

Just 12 percent of respondents to a September survey of 1,220 Indonesians believed the party was making a comeback now.

Analysts and government advisers said the fomenting of a “red scare” was aimed at Indonesia’s reformist president Widodo, who has previously been falsely accused of being the descendant of communists.

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“We support parliament in ridding itself of PKI,” Slamet Maarif, one of the rally organisers told the crowd, accusing the government of oppressive measures and of creating a gulf between the state and Islam with a decree banning some organisations.

Friday’s rally has been organised by hardline Islamist groups, such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

The FPI led huge rallies last year that successfully demanded the jailing for blasphemy of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian who was Jakarta’s governor at the time.

(Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)


Military personnel raid cafe in South Jakarta suspected of harboring communist sympathies

  • The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, September 29, 2017 | 01:14 pm

Military personnel raid cafe in South Jakarta suspected of harboring communist sympathies A South Jakarta 0504 Military District personnel is seen with the confiscated red flag at the Garasi 66 cafe in South Jakarta on Thursday. (Courtesy of Kodim 0504 Jakarta Selatan/File)

Military personnel have confiscated a flag marked with the hammer and sickle logo, the symbol of communism, from a cafe in South Jakarta.

Nearby residents reported the flag to the authorities, South Jakarta 0504 Military District commander Let. Col. Inf. Ade Rony Wijaya said on Friday.

“We took the flag away on Thursday. The logo was small and placed in red fabric,” Ade said as quoted by

The military cooperated with Public Order Agency personnel, the head of the neighborhood unit (RT) and some members of local youth organization Karang Taruna in the raid on the Garasi 66 cafe on Jl. Pangeran Antasari.

The banner was found installed at the window in the room of the cafe’s owner, Burdani, who is being investigated by military officers.

“We see no specific intent. Burdani travels a lot to many countries. He thought it was the flag of China,” Ade said.

Burdani was released after his identity was recorded by officers.

The issue of a communist revival in the country is in the spotlight once more.

Hundreds of anti-communists besieged the office of the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) on Sept. 17, accusing the organization of putting on a gathering associated with the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party. (yon)

Indonesia ready to divert tourists as Bali volcano rumbles

September 27, 2017


© AFP | Mount Agung, about 75 kilometres (47 miles) from the Indonesian tourist hub of Kuta, has been shaking since August, threatening to erupt for the first time in more than 50 years

KARANGASEM (INDONESIA) (AFP) – Indonesian authorities are on standby to divert flights destined for the holiday island of Bali as increasingly frequent tremors from a rumbling volcano stoke fears an eruption could be imminent.Mount Agung, about 75 kilometres (47 miles) from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been shaking since August, threatening to erupt for the first time in more than 50 years and forcing more than 80,000 people to flee their homes.

Bali attracts millions of foreign visitors every year to its palm-fringed beaches and an eruption would be a major blow to its tourism-dependent economy.

The airport in Bali’s capital Denpasar has not been affected but several countries including Australia and Singapore have issued travel advisories warning travellers to exercise caution.

In anticipation of an eruption, Indonesia plans to divert flights headed for Bali to ten other airports, including on nearby Lombok and to the capital Jakarta.

“The planes will be diverted to their nearest location or where it originally took off from,” transport minister Budi Karya Sumadi said.

Airlines are watching the situation closely and 100 buses have been prepared to evacuate tourists.

Virgin Australia said it would be making an extra fuel stop in Darwin for some of its flights between Australia and Bali in case it is forced to turn back.

Singapore Airlines said customers travelling between September 23 and October 2 could rebook flights or ask for a refund.

Officials announced the highest possible alert level on Friday due to the increasing volcanic activity, and told people to stay at least nine kilometres away from the crater.

The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation recorded almost 300 tremors Wednesday morning. A thin column of smoke can be seen rising from the mountain’s summit.

Indonesia lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, killing nearly 1,600 people.


Holidaymakers warned of Bali volcano threat

September 26, 2017

By Brett Gibbons

Trinity Mirror

More than 57,000 people have fled the danger zone, which extends up to 7.5 miles from Mount Agung’s crater, after authorities raised its alert status to the highest level on Friday, the Press Association reported.

Ash clouds from Mount Agung could cause flight disruption

The volcano, 45 miles to the north-east of the tourist hotspot of Kuta, last erupted in 1963, killing 1,100 people.
About 330,000 British nationals visit Indonesia every year, according to the Foreign Office.

The latest Government advice to Britons planning to visit the region says the National Disaster Management Authority for Indonesia’s volcanic alert level indicates “an eruption is possible in the next 24 hours”.

“You should follow the advice of the local authorities and stay outside the exclusion zone,” it said.

Map of Indonesia

“If there is an eruption, volcanic ash clouds could cause flight disruptions.

“In the event of volcanic ash clouds you should confirm your travel arrangements directly with your airline or travel agent before travelling to the airport.”

RECAP: Hurricane season brings new records

Travel trade organisation Abta said the volcano is around 40 miles from Kuta.

A spokesman said: “The Indonesian authorities have kept the alert level at the highest classification, meaning an eruption could be imminent.

“There will only be a relatively small number of UK holidaymakers on the island at this time of year, although Bali is a major tourist destination for the Australian market.

Local people shelter in emergency accommodation away from the vicinity of Mount Agung

“Holidaymakers are advised to follow the advice of local authorities, to avoid the area around the volcano and to keep in contact with their airline or holiday company.”

Local press sources have reported that some tourists have already started to flee the area.

Senior Chinese Leader Says Has ‘Shared Destiny’ With Vietnam

September 19, 2017

BEIJING — China and Vietnam’s Communist Parties have a “shared destiny” and the two nations have huge potential for economic cooperation, a senior official said on Tuesday during a visit to Vietnam, which has clashed with China over the South China Sea.

Though the two countries are run by Communist parties, they are deeply suspicious of each other and relations have been strained over the past few years because of the dispute in the strategic South China Sea.

China has appeared uneasy at Vietnam’s efforts to rally Southeast Asian countries over the busy waterway as well as at its neighbor’s growing defense ties with the United States, Japan and India.

In July, under pressure from Beijing, Vietnam suspended oil drilling in offshore waters that are also claimed by China.

However, Hanoi and Beijing have also tried to prevent tensions from getting too out of control, and senior officials from two countries make fairly regular visits to each other.

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Liu Yunshan, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s elite Standing Committee which runs the country, told Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi that the two parties “constitute a community of shared destiny with strategic significance”, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The two economies are highly complementary, with huge potential for practical cooperation, he added.

While the report made no direction mention of the South China Sea, it quoted Liu as suggesting the two countries “properly manage and control their divergences, so as to create favorable environment for bilateral cooperation”.

China claims nearly all the South China Sea, through which an estimated $3 trillion in international trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also have claims.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)

See the report from Xinhua:



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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

President Trump Speaks About United Nations Reform at Day One of the General Assembly

September 18, 2017

United States President Donald Trump speaks at an event on UN reform, along with representatives from Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

President Trump, Ambassador Haley take part in United Nations reform meeting

Donald Trump

Donald Trump


President Donald Trump is making his debut at the United Nations


WASHINGTON — President Trump heads to the United Nations this week to meet with world leaders, and many of them are anxious — not just about global national security challenges, but about Trump himself.

While the still-new president hopes to use his first appearance before the U.N. General Assembly to rally other countries against North Korea’s nuclear threats, some world leaders are still reeling from their last interactions with the somewhat testy Trump at global summits earlier this year.

Administration officials said Trump will arrive in New York with multiple missions, including trying to convince other countries to help the U.S. pressure North Korea into giving up nuclear weapons. He plans to criticize the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran and address the economic meltdown in Venezuela and the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Read more:

Trump mocks Kim Jong Un and Hillary Clinton in Sunday tweetstorm

Ahead of U.N. meetings, Trump aides call for more pressure on North Korea

Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, puts it simply: The president “slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with the U.S. being very strong in the end.”

Trump will also pursue what his aides call “U.N, reform,” another way of calling on members to pay for United Nations projects.

U.N. members, meanwhile, will be be watching the president’s tone, some foreign policy analysts said, given Trump’s aggressive performances at this year’s NATO meeting, Group of Seven and Group of 20 summits.

There, Trump “came off as boorish and money-grubbing, and often unresponsive to the concerns of partner nations,” said Stewart Patrick, senior fellow with the Council of Foreign Relations.

“At the U.N,” Patrick said, “Trump can win by surpassing expectations about what he is going to say.”

Richard Gowan, a United Nations expert with with the European Council on Foreign Relations, said Trump “performed poorly” at previous international meetings, and diplomats are concerned about a rerun.

“The swirl of minor leaders and frazzled diplomats around U.N. headquarters can be quite disconcerting, even for relatively calm leaders,” Gowan said. “Trump may become irritable.”

The U.N. activity comes in the shadow of Trump’s previous international meetings, and the flaps that ensued, including:

• The Article 5 affair: At his first global summit, a May meeting of NATO members in Brussels, Trump annoyed some allies by declining to specifically endorse the organization’s mutual defense commitment, known as Article 5. The tepid remarks on the treaty prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to suggest that Europe could no longer count on the United States for defense — even as Trump called for them to spend more money on their own defense. Only after returning to Washington did Trump reaffirm the alliance’s commitment to treat an attack on one ally as an attack on all.

• The shove seen ’round the world: Also at NATO, Trump set the social media world ablaze when he appeared to shove Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of the way in a team photo op. Markovic said that incident was “inoffensive” and no big deal, noting that Trump was assigned to be at the front of the picture anyway.

• The Sicilian golf cart: Tensions followed Trump from Brussels to the Italian island of Sicily, where Trump clashed with leaders of the Group of Seven nations over trade and climate change policy. The body language between Trump and other leaders also drew stares; at one point other G-7 members took a walking tour of the ancient mountain village of Taormina; Trump followed behind in a golf cart.

• The Putin parlay: Delegates to the Group of 20 nations summit in Hamburg, Germany, looked on wide-eyed as Trump spent hours talking with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A formal meeting set for 30 minutes ran for more than two hours and the pair also spoke at length at a G-20 dinner. All this came as a U.S. special counsel is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with Trump associates.

But Trump’s aides say the president was pleased with his earlier summit meetings. Trump is proud of commitments by NATO members to spend more on their national defense, as one example. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump has developed good relations with world leaders “so they can focus on big problems like North Korea.”

Yet Trump’s behavior at the U.N. will be highly scrutinized, especially given how he has also criticized the body over the past year.

During the presidential transition in December, the recently elected Trump criticized a U.N. vote condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In a tweet, Trump said the world body has become “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”

In another post, he said, “as to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” but did not elaborate.

Some potential flash points may be avoided, at least this time.

At least two key world leaders won’t be at the U.N. this year: China’s President Xi Jinping, whom Trump is lobbying especially hard to pressure North Korea, and Putin, who is also involved in disputes over North Korea and Syria, whose relationship with Trump is especially controversial.

Merkel, who has clashed with Trump over trade and refugee policy, is also not expected to attend, as she is locked in a re-election campaign.

Trump’s trip to New York City opens Monday when he and more than 120 world leaders attend a meeting on United Nations reform.

After that, Trump meets separately with French President Emmanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One of their topics: Iran and the nuclear agreement reached by President Obama and U.S. allies in 2015.

The Trump administration has re-certified the Iran agreement, but Trump himself continues to claim that Tehran is violating “the spirit” of the agreement in which the Iranians give up the means to make nuclear weapons in exchange for reduction of sanctions by the U.S. and its allies.

On Monday evening, Trump will host a working dinner with Latin American leaders, with Venezuela’s problems as the main topic. As the chaos in Venezuela, including a government crackdown on civil liberties, threatens to spill over into neighboring countries, Trump has even spoken of “a military option.”

The president’s major speech to the general assembly comes Tuesday morning.

Over the course of U.N. week, Trump will also host a diplomatic reception have lunches with African leaders and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. He also has roster of bilateral meetings with leaders of Slovakia, Qatar, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan and Ukraine. He is also expected to meet with the president of South Korea.

Trump and aides said he represents an “America First” foreign policy, claiming that other countries have taken advantage of the United States with bad trade deals and agreements that force Americans a disproportionate share of the costs.

Other countries have accused Trump of abandoning U.S. leadership. The president’s trip to the U.S. could present what Patrick, from the Council on Foreign Relations, called “a juxtaposition of America First with folks who are dedicated to international cooperation.”

Richard Fontaine, president of the Washington-based Center For a New American Security think tank, said the United Nations is a “world forum,” and other members are asking “what kind of picture is the president going to paint on what he wants to see the United States do in that world forum?”

One big thing other countries want to know, Fontaine said, is: “How much does he value allies?”

Gowan, who teaches at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, also noted that the president is notoriously difficult to predict.

“To be honest,” he said, “nobody is really sure what Trump is going to do at the U.N.”

Anti-Communist Mob Attacks Indonesia Meeting, 22 Arrested

September 18, 2017

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A mob opposed to public discussion of Indonesia’s 1965 massacre of communists tried to force its way into a Jakarta building where they believed communists were meeting, injuring five policemen.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said 22 people were arrested early Monday for rioting and five officers were injured in the confrontation.

The melee came a day after police blockaded the building on Saturday to stop a public forum on the massacre, in which historians say half a million people were killed, from going ahead.

Bonnie Setiawan, an organizer of the forum, said about 200 people were trapped in the building, which is home to a legal aid institute, for hours on Sunday night while more than 1,000 people protested outside.

The protesters shouted that the people inside were members of the long-outlawed Indonesian Communist Party and threw rocks, breaking windows, he said.

Indonesia held a ground-breaking symposium on the massacre last year, breaking a half century of near silence on the issue, but the military, Islamic groups and senior figures in the government are opposed to unearthing the truth, saying it could revive communism.

The Indonesian Communist Party was the third largest in the world with an estimated 3 million members when an unsuccessful coup by pro-communist military officers in 1965 triggered a monthslong bloodletting by the army and Islamic groups that engulfed the country and ushered in the Suharto dictatorship.

Yuwono said police blockaded the forum on Saturday because organizers hadn’t requested permission for it.

Setiawan said police had violated the constitutional rights to freedom of association and assembly. The meeting on Sunday was intended as a discussion of challenges to democracy in Indonesia, he said.


Fake news about communism in Indonesia blamed for triggering riot in Jakarta

By Jewel Topsfield

Fake news about Indonesia’s omnipresent bogeyman – communism – has been blamed for riots in Central Jakarta that injured five police officers and damaged vehicles in the early hours of Monday morning.

Police were forced to fire tear gas and water cannons to disperse anti-communist protesters who began to pelt police with water bottles and stones and attempted to force their way into the offices of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute.

A weekend seminar on the 1965 anti-communist purge – a dark chapter in Indonesia’s history that remains extremely sensitive today – had already been banned by police on the grounds the organisers had not applied for a permit.

But this did not stop crowds chanting “Crush the PKI” (the now defunct Indonesian communist party) and surrounding the institute building.

The Indonesian Legal Aid Institute claimed “clearly hoaxes or false news have been broadcast … with instructions for attacking (the institute) done systematically and extensively”.

It asserted false claims included that the planned historical seminar was a re-emergence of the PKI and participants intended to sing genjer-genjer, one of the most controversial songs in Indonesia.

Genjer-genjer, which was adopted as a protest song by the PKI, was banned under the Suharto regime, amid military claims that female communists had tortured six generals while singing the song.

“People said we are PKI – that’s the hoax,” Muhammad Isnur from the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute told Fairfax Media.

“They said PKI was holding an event. It’s not true. We wanted to hold an academic discussion about what happened in 1965.”

Police have arrested five people suspected of provoking the riots.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told Fairfax Media that police had informed the institute that the planned seminar could not go ahead because the organisers did not have a permit.

But Mr Isnur said the police were “just making it up”. “Why would we need a permit for an internal, closed door discussion in our own office? We hold discussions every day.”

The 1965 tragedy was triggered by the kidnapping and murder of several high-ranking army officers, which was blamed on the PKI.

Last month Indonesian authorities disbanded a workshop in East Java on the findings of an international tribunal into the 1965 massacre – also on the grounds organisers didn’t have a permit.

In 2015 the Ubud Writers Festival cancelled sessions discussing 1965 – the first act of censorship in the history of the popular international event.

Amnesty International issued a statement last month saying there had been at least 39 cases since 2015 where authorities disbanded events related to 1965.

“These actions are a clear violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Amnesty said.

Asked if hoax news had inflamed tensions at the weekend, Mr Argo said: “Listen, if people get together to make speeches, discussion, dialogue, they must notify the police, this should be understood by people who work in the legal business.”

Fake news was a huge problem in Indonesia in the lead-up to the gubernatorial election in February, with much of it targeting the ethnicity of former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

Hoax news included that Indonesia was being flooded by 10 million Chinese workers, that its new currency bore an image of the banned communist hammer and sickle, that Ahok’s free Human Papillomavirus vaccine program could make girls infertile and that China was waging biological warfare against Indonesia with contaminated chilli seeds.

Smear campaigns during the last presidential election also asserted President Joko Widodo was a Christian and communist.

“Don’t forget, negative (news), slander, reproaching each other, hoax and fake news are spreading in social media today. They also become our challenge in the future,” President Jokowi told a group of boys scouts in Central Java on Monday.

Last month police arrested three people accused of spreading hoaxes against President Jokowi and Ahok, among others, on a “news” website known as saracen, which allegedly charges clients to publish and spread fake news.

“There is clearly a growing industry around the production of disinformation (false information spread to deliberately deceive) in Indonesia and elsewhere around the world,” says Australian National University academic Ross Tapsell, an expert on social media in Indonesia.

“Of course, Indonesia has a long history of government and non-government anti-PKI propaganda designed to incite and enrage,” he said.

“So the material may not have changed, but the technology used to disseminate it is changing rapidly.”