America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Editorial: In step with the Nazis?

'A grotesque display of medieval torture.'
On Tuesday, a gay couple in Aceh was punished with 85 strokes of the cane — despite protests from human rights advocates — for violating the province’s Islamic bylaw that bans homosexuality. (See YouTube video below.)

In North Jakarta on Monday, police arrested 141 men for allegedly violating the 2008 Pornography Law, which bans, among others, the provision of porn or making people “objects or models” of porn — clauses that respectively carry a maximum penalty of six and 10 years imprisonment.

For the people of Aceh, the sharia option was allowed in its 2005 international peace agreement with the government, though its bylaws remain controversial, even in the province. But the latter incident, a raid on a gym, clearly shows strong support for authorities barging in on the private realm, even without Aceh’s moral police.

The Jakarta Police were backed up by the Pornography Law, itself the product of a war between secular- and religious groups, the latter of which won the war with the tacit approval of the administration of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Critics’ fears materialized as the law, however vague, has been used by authorities and conservative parties to interfere in the private sphere, including sexuality. Sexual minorities are among the expected victims, with few sympathizers among our homophobic society — including those who recently joined shouts of, “Uphold the Pancasila,” referring to Indonesia’s state ideology, which promotes “a just and civilized humanity.”

Raids and arrests of allegedly gay people bring to mind past and present persecutions and criminalizations of sexual minorities. The most extreme example is perhaps the reportedly large portion of homosexuals among victims of the Nazi gas chambers.

Many of us think we are beyond such cruelty. Yet, the instant circulation of images of the mostly undressed men arrested in North Jakarta — being herded to police headquarters with some of their faces clearly visible — shows that Indonesians share similar homophobic sentiments with Nazi rulers. The leaked images were shared with exclamations of horror and support for the police, whom people praised for attempting to safeguard the youth and society from such “sinful” same-sex relations.

Continuous moral boosts for authorities to “protect” citizens’ morality will only endanger us as we virtually hand them a blank check to do so — just because police actions against gays are justified by the Pornography Law.

And like the Blasphemy Law, it further stigmatizes minorities, who, due to being “different,” find few effective channels to raise their voices. Religious groups claim that Indonesians, as God-fearing people, can in no way accept homosexuality. But, as Indonesia is not a religious state, authorities must keep out of the private realm, and limit religious issues to religious forums.

Following Monday’s raid, the police will need to, at least, clearly give proof of their allegations, including against the parties who allegedly made “objects of porn” out of the men. But by failing to protect the detainees’ privacy, the police are obviously riding on popularity based on widespread bigotry. Meaning, the National Police, under Gen. Tito Karnavian, have yet to safeguard the constitutional guarantee of our citizens’ basic human rights.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Editorial, May 24, 2017

Denunciations, arrests and convictions: The Nazi persecution of homosexuals

Before the storm: A gay couple photographed in Berlin in 1926. Source: Schwules Museum, Berlin.
Before the storm: A gay couple photographed in
Berlin in 1926. Source: Schwules Museum, Berlin.
The police work of tracking down suspected homosexuals depended largely on denunciations from ordinary citizens. Nazi propaganda that labeled homosexuals "antisocial parasites" and "enemies of the state" inflamed already existing prejudices. Citizens turned in men, often on the flimsiest evidence, for as many reasons as there were denunciations.

Reflecting on the dramatic rise of legal proceedings against homosexuals since 1933, Josef Meisinger of the Reich Central Office for Combating Homosexuality and Abortion proudly remarked in April 1937: "We must naturally also take into account the greater public readiness to report [homosexuality] as a result of National Socialist education."

Acting on the basis of these informants, the Gestapo and Criminal Police arbitrarily seized and questioned suspects as well as possible corroborating witnesses. Those denounced were often forced to give up names of friends and acquaintances, thereby becoming informants themselves. Where criminal proceedings once required a proved act, now a suggestive accusation sufficed.

During the Nazi era, some 100,000 men were arrested on violations of Paragraph 175 [criminalizing homosexuality]. Of these, nearly 78,000 were arrested during the three years between Heinrich Himmler's appointment as chief of German police in 1936 and the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The Gestapo and Criminal Police worked in tandem, occasionally in massive sweeps but more often as follow–up to individual denunciations.

Most victims were from the working class. Less able to afford private apartments or homes, they found partners in semi–public places that put them at greater risk of discovery, including by police entrapment.

As reports of the massive arrests spread, mostly by word of mouth, a pervasive atmosphere of fear enveloped Germany's homosexuals. Just as the state desired, the physical repression of a minority of homosexual men served to limit activities of the vast majority.

Of the estimated 100,000 men arrested under Paragraph 175 between 1933 and 1945, half were convicted of violating the law. Just as arrests rose precipitously after the 1935 revision of Paragraph 175, so, too, did conviction rates, reaching more than ten times those of the last years of the Weimar Republic and peaking at more than 8,500 in 1938. Prison sentences, the most common punishment in the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, varied with the sexual act involved and the individual's prior history.

For many, imprisonment meant hard labor, part of the Nazi "re–education" program. Conditions in German prisons, penitentiaries, and penal camps were notoriously wretched, and those incarcerated under Paragraph 175 faced both the brutality of the guards and the hatred of their fellow inmates.

In a small number of cases, medical experts testified that some homosexuality constituted a serious mental illness and danger to society. Under Paragraph 42b of the Reich Criminal Code, some men were institutionalized, a fate that could have disastrous consequences (including death) during the war.

New Police Taskforce to Target Indonesian Gays

Police in Indonesia’s most populous province plan to deploy a taskforce to investigate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activity, a move likely to fuel concerns of a widening crackdown on the community in the Muslim-majority country.

West Java police chief Anton Charliyan disclosed the plan on Tuesday as two gay men in the province of Aceh were publicly flogged, and days after police raided a gay club in Jakarta and distributed photos of suspects to the media.

With the exception of Aceh, homosexuality is legal in Indonesia. Activists say, however, that police targeting of consensual gay sex has shone a light on discrimination and harassment in the world’s third-largest democracy.

Indonesia’s reputation for tolerance is already under scrutiny after Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian, was sentenced this month to two years in prison for blasphemy.

Responding to Sunday’s Jakarta raid, Charliyan told reporters in Bandung, the capital of West Java, a province with a population of about 47 million, that LGBT people suffered a “disease of the body and soul”.

He called on the public to report their activities.

“I hope there are no followers in West Java, no gay or LGBT lifestyle or tradition, Charliyan said. “If there’s anyone following it, they will face the law and heavy social sanctions. They will not be accepted in society.”


A leading LGBT activist slammed his remarks, which were confirmed in a recording provided to Reuters by journalists present when Charliyan spoke on Tuesday.

“Police have a mandate to follow the law. They are not the morals police,” said Yuli Rustinawati, chairperson of Arus Pelangi, an Indonesian LGBT activist organization.

In remarks on Wednesday, Charliyan said the police “taskforce” would include intelligence specialists and was particularly concerned with disrupting “secret parties”, the Detik news portal reported.

A national spokesman for the police, Setyo Wasisto, said the approach in West Java did not reflect a national strategy.

“It is enough for us to handle it as we do regularly,” he said.

Charliyan’s comments follow a spate of high-profile police actions against gay clubs and parties just as the country’s Constitutional Court is due to rule on a petition to outlaw homosexuality and adultery.

On Sunday, police detained 141 men and released photos of some of them in varying states of undress to the media, revealing many of their identities. Only 10 of the men have been declared suspects, five remain under investigation and 126 were released.

The police said the photos were released due to “procedural errors”, the Jakarta Post reported.

Rustinawati at Arus Pelangi said, however, the release of the images was part of a police pattern of publicly shaming of gay people.


The two Acehnese men, caned 82 times each on Tuesday, were punished in front of a crowd of more than 1,000. Semi-autonomous Aceh province is governed by sharia Islamic law.

Earlier, a video of the men, naked and distressed as they were apprehended by sharia police, was released and viewed widely on social media.

In Indonesia’s second-largest city of Surabaya in East Java, 14 gay men were arrested, tested for HIV and the results made public, Indonesian media reported.

“The police also release data – names and addresses,” said Rustinawati. “It’s humiliating and it puts LGBT people in danger.”

On Tuesday, North Jakarta police chief Dwiyono, who like many Indonesians has only one name, took journalists through the gay club raided on Sunday. As they climbed three floors, he pointed out a gym, a communal jacuzzi used for “striptease” and a cluster of cubicles for sex.

“This door can only be opened if you pay 185,000 rupiah ($14) to the receptionist,” he said. “In here, there’s no change room, you just tear off your clothes and use a towel.”


Indonesian President Joko Widodo last year gave qualified support for the gay community, telling the BBC that “there should be no discrimination against anyone”, before noting that homosexuality is not popular in his country.

However, his defense minister, Ryamizard Ryacudu, suggested that homosexuality was a national security threat and part of a “proxy war” waged against Indonesia by foreign states.

A Pew Research Center poll in 2013 found 93 percent of respondents in Indonesia disagreed that “society should accept homosexuality”.

Indonesia’s Islamist groups have long called for the criminalisation of gay sex. The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the vigilante group that led huge rallies against the now-convicted Jakarta governor, has cooperated with police in curbing alleged vice for more than a decade.

Source: coconuts.co, Tom Allard and Stefanno Reinard, May 24, 2017

Aceh promotes tourism at 2017 Bali Arts Festival and Buleleng Expo

After a successful tourism event in Yogyakarta last month, residents of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province traveled to Bali to take part in the 2017 Bali Arts Festival and Buleleng Expo that was held from May 17 to 21 in Singaraja, Bali.

“We are promoting Aceh as a halal tourist destination, or what is now called family-friendly,” said Aceh Tourism Agency head Reza Pahlevi.

Members of the Cut Nyak Dhien Meuligo studio under the mentorship of Niazah A. Hamid traveled to Bali to showcase some of Aceh’s most famous traditional dances, such as the Prang Sabil and Saman dances.

The Saman Dance was recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It was also briefly featured in British band Coldplay’s Amazing Day Global Film Project video.

The Aceh Tourism Agency also set up a booth at the Buleleng Expo involving two travel agencies: Aceh Great Wall Tour and Asoe Nanggroe Wisata. The two of them sold tourist packages and local products such as coffee, traditional costumes and souvenirs.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said that the halal tourism market has experienced growth since 2014. Of the estimated global population of 7.5 billion people, around 1.6 billion are Muslim and 60 percent of them are below 30 years old.

“The total spending of Muslim tourists in the world is US$143 billion, almost equal to the spending of Chinese tourists of $160 billion,” said Arief Yahya.

Source: Jakarta Post, May 22, 2017

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