Wednesday, December 19, 2007








Bali climate negotiations on the edge

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Dua, Bali 15/12/07

Despite the removal of several sticking points that hindered talks in creating a road map toward future climate commitments, participants in the UN climate conference here failed Friday to decide on emissions-cutting targets for developed countries. Another stumbling block was the question of the responsibilities of developed countries, and what efforts developing countries should undertake regarding mitigation, with the U.S. pushing for national level efforts instead of international commitments.

Most participants, particularly those from the European Union and developing countries, insisted that the inclusion of carbon emissions cut targets were crucial to guide the next two negotiations in Poland in 2008 and Denmark in 2009, in which the future commitment is to be concluded. The new agreement is to replace the earlier pact on climate change, the Kyoto Protocol. Meanwhile, the U.S., fearing economic disadvantages from a rising China and India should they commit to certain targets, continue to oppose any figures in the road map. Developing countries also opposed any targets, citing fears of economic slowdown and further constraints to wiping out poverty. The negotiations, which were supposed to end by Friday, continued until after midnight with no sign of a conclusion.

Speculation even arose on whether the U.S. delegation was waiting for directions from the White House which could change the course of the negotiations. The executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climates Change, Yvo de Boer, said the negotiations were taking "longer than I expected." "But this is a very important journey ... they need to craft the language very carefully because that language is going to guide them over the next two years. I think it's better to leave here with a very clear decision rather than spend next session trying to understand what's been agreed here in Bali," he told reporters. Many officials, however, have speculated that the negotiations will not be concluded until Saturday. De Boer said the progress had been made in the two weeks in which the participants had been able to reach agreements on points that had previously posed a problem, such as technology transfers, adaptation efforts and a financial scheme for the road map. He said that the parties had also decided what mitigation efforts the developed countries should bear, with discussion on the responsibilities for developing countries still going on.

But the trickiest problem, de Boer said, was how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientific report's discussion on the need for the cutting of emissions by 25-40 percent for developed countries is reflected in the roadmap, without inviting rejection from the U.S., the EU and the developing countries. The determining moment of the negotiation occurred Thursday night after the U.S. unexpectedly came up with a proposal on mitigation efforts that did not differentiate responsibility between developing and developed countries but underlined the need for domestic efforts for each country, threatening to undo the progress made in the negotiations so far. After negotiating until past 3 a.m., Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda postponed the meeting to 10 a.m. , and came up with a new proposal with accommodation being given to the U.S. on softening the target by changing it to reducing 50 percent of emissions by 2050 by 1990 levels. But officials said that the numbers have been reduced further after participants agreed to mention only targets of deeper emission cuts before 2012 as mandated by the Kyoto Protocol.---

Govt bans, confiscates book on Papuan political struggle Angela Maria Flassy, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura, Papua

State prosecutors seized Friday 60 copies of a book they say could divide Papua politically, while critics have accused them of robbing local people of their freedom of expression. The 244-page book, titled Tenggelamnya Rumpun Melanesia, Pertarungan Politik di Papua Barat (The Sinking of the Melanesian Race: The Political Struggle in West Papua) was written by a local academic, Sendius Wonda. "The book is misleading, it could spark unrest and divide the Papuan community," said Rudi Hartono, the intelligence chief at the provincial prosecutors' office.

The 60 copies of the book printed by local publishing house Deiyai were confiscated from a Gramedia bookstore in Jayapura. "We will continue raiding bookstores in other places for the book," Rudi added. Rudi said the management of Deiyai would be summoned to the prosecutors' office for questioning on Saturday. The prosecutors said their legal basis for banning the book was a 2007 attorney general's circular about banning printed materials that could "mislead the public" and "disturb public order". They said they would start looking for other copies of the book in towns throughout Papua next week, but stopped short of demanding people surrender their copies to the authorities. Muridan S. Widodo, researcher with the Center for the Indonesian Political Institute of Sciences, described the sweep as a "threat to the freedom of expression". "The book reflects the typical thoughts of Papuan activists about the 'culture of terror' in the territory," Muridan said. He added that the author bemoaned the Papuan's loss of their long-standing struggle for economic and political leverage.

Papua, formerly called Irian Barat, or West Irian, has been in the international spotlight due to a simmering secession movement triggered by widely perceived injustices. The military has been waging a low-level armed uprising. Muridan said that instead of banning the book, the government should have countered the intellectual work with a book of its own. "Then invite those who support Sendius Wonda's ideas to an open debate. This would have been better," he said. He said the government should nurture the budding intellectual tradition in Papua rather than try to suppress it.

Rights body - (KOMNASHAM) - to investigate forced church closures

Alfian, The Jakarta Post, JakartaThe National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas-HAM) has said it will investigate reports on the increasing incidence of forced closings of churches. The commission will act on a complaint filed Friday by leaders of the Communion of Indonesian Churches (PGI) and the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI). The Protestant and Catholic leaders submitted a list of 108 houses of worship, notably in West Java, which they said have been forcibly closed, ransacked, threatened or burned down since 2004.

Perpetrators range from local officials to such radical organizations as the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and the Anti-Apostasy Alliance (AGAP), they said. "I am afraid the violence will destroy Indonesia's image internationally because we are unable to protect human rights," commissioner Yoseph Adi Prasetyo said. Filing the complaint were PGI chief Rev. Andreas A. Yewangoe, and KWI chairman Bishop Mgr. Martinus D. Situmorang. They said that in many areas, Christians have difficulty performing religious duties due to intimidation. "From 2004 to now, some 108 houses of worship have been requested and even forced to close," said Andreas. He added people in some areas have been prohibited from performing their religious duties. "It (church closure and intimidation) is a violation of both the right to freedom of religion and the right to express one's religion or beliefs." Bishop Martinus said many churches had experienced frequent threats. "It is time for us to solve this problem because it is related to the respect of human rights and civil society's commitment to safeguarding security," he said. Christians account for some 10 percent of the 230 million population of predominantly (88 percent) Muslim Indonesia, according to official statistics. As a minority group, Christians have often complained of discrimination, saying building churches in some areas is practically impossible due to local Muslims' objections.

The report filed with commissioners said the strongest resistance to the presence of churches was in West Java province, where congregations using shops and homes as churches had been forced to close. Similar intimidation also forced long-existing churches to shut down, the report said. Different actors, the report said, have been involved in the effort to close the churches. In some area, the district executive assembly was deemed responsible, while in other areas, mass organizations such as FPI and AGAP. At the center of the controversy is a 2006 joint decree from the Home Ministry and the Religious Affairs Ministry, which requires a minimum of 90 observers for building a house of worship. Antonius Benny Susetyo, a KWI executive, said at the grassroots level the joint decree had not been properly understood. "Even if the requirements have been fulfilled, sometimes the subdistrict heads do not want to grant the permit," said Benny. Andreas said the decree was meant for the sake of making religious activities convenient. "It cannot be used to criminalize people performing religious duties." Commissioner Yoseph Adi Prasetyo promised to review the disputed decree.

Slow year for human rights, say activists ,

The Jakarta Pos, Jakarta - 11 Dec 07

Human rights activists say there has been no significant improvement in human rights protection in the country this year."Many people have been said to have disappeared without a trace, but /ipso iure/ (by operation of the law) we can not find the kidnappers. (Human rights activist) Munir died, but /ipso iure/ we can not find his murderers. "Many lives were taken in East Timor, but the courts can not find any proof that human rights abuses happened there," human rights activist Soetandyo Wignjosoebroto said here Monday.

Soetandyo, who chaired the selection team for the recruitment of the current membership of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham) attributed the problems to the elites' "lack of guts" to face the politics risks that could result from law enforcement efforts.

"We can still see a lot of impunities; there's no significant improvement in human rights protection in the country," Soetandyo told the audience at an event to commemorate International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10 at the office of Komnas Ham in Central Jakarta.

However, commission chairman Ifdhal Kasim said the year 2007 was a milestone in the progress of human rights protection in Indonesia, with the government starting to implement the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights, which were ratified in 2005. But he also said that the government had yet to seriously implement the principles and provisions of the two covenants by not reforming existing regulations and annulling those against the covenants.

"This can be seen as the government's unwillingness or disregard for doing something (to improve human rights protection)," said Ifdhal. He said Indonesia still was not conducive to a good human rights situation, with a number of atrocities left unsolved.

These cases include the May 1998 riots, the Trisakti shootings, the Semanggi I shooting incidents in 1998, the Semanggi II shooting incidents in 1999, and the Wasior (2001-2002) and Wamena (2003) rights cases in Papua, whose initial investigations had long been completed but were never followed up.

Ifdhal added that many officials refused to cooperate with human rights investigators. He said some of the prominent human rights violations that occurred this year included the suffering of the Lapindo mudflow victims, domestic violence and human trafficking. "Domestic violence contributed 20 percent of the cases reported to us, while human trafficking is getting more common. The government's efforts to curb both cases are still very poor," Ifdhal told reporters after the event.

He said the commission also recorded "disturbances" to freedom of religion in 2007, while observing what had happened to followers of the Ahmadiyah and Al Qiyadah sects.

Regarding past human rights abuses, he said the government needed to reestablish the truth and reconciliation commission, which was dismissed by the Constitutional Court in December last year. "We recommend the immediate re-establishment of the commission because there were too many human rights atrocities cases in the past that we can't settle through just the human rights courts.

"We need to settle the past cases so we can move forward with the new ones," said Ifdhal. (wda)

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