Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New posts this week: shift in attitudes needed re AIDS, less kids in our jails, a common future, Elisabeth Pisani's new book

Terrorism has been a major topic in the Indonesian and Australian news as more and more horrifying acts of violence take place due to the Islamic State (now dubbed IS). Indonesia, unlike Australia, is not debating the discursive moral conundrum of intervention, the choice whether or not to get involved militarily, but it is nonetheless presenting a unified and vocal condemnation of the extremists' actions. People are out on social media, Muslim leaders are voicing their opinion and even President SBY had strong words. Indonesia condemns with authority, an authority legitimised by its status as a predominantly moderate Muslim democracy, a role model and success story in Asia and shining example to the Islamic states.

Yet it is also its status as a Muslim majority country grappling with radical elements that renders it vulnerable to inadvertantly providing support for the war from its aspiring jihadists. Where Australia is discussing just how far we are willing to go to limit freedoms in order to prevent terrorism on Aussie soil and how often we are willing to impose ourselves to try to prevent genocide in far off places, Indonesia is faced with homegrown support for IS that is ultimately a product of undealt with sectarian conflict among its different groups that allows extremism to fester. By allowing the persecution of minorities to continue unchallenged, Indonesia will cultivate a presence in wars like those in Syria and Iraq and be closer to far off conflict than it would like to be. We can only hope that the incoming president will also start a national conversation about intervention in Indonesia's own religiously motivated incidents of violence and intolerance and in this way send an unequivocal message to extremists attracted to IS that it won't be involved militarily, one way or the other.

Please enjoy these latest articles:

"Indonesia must do more to fight HIV/AIDS scourge," by Andrew Manners, August 2014.

"Abbott's accidental gift to Indonesian village kids," by Ross Taylor, August 2014.

"Australia and Indonesia are equal stakeholders in a common future," by Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, August 2014.

"The wisdom of a wanderer," by Duncan Graham, August 2014.

In other news:

A Code of Conduct was finally signed. Australia has promised not to 'harm Indonesia's interests'. Whatever that means it is far from a direct promise to curb spying.

For Indonesia Institute members, our annual memberships fees are now due. You can go here to renew your membership or for those interested, join up to be part of a community of people making a difference to Indonesia Australia relations.

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