In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Indonesia: Aspiring for an Islamic state

Protest against "blasphemer" Ahok in Jakarta, November 2016
Protest against "blasphemer" Ahok in Jakarta, November 2016
Nothing is surprising about the recent survey conducted by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC), which found that 9.2 percent of respondents supported the formation of a theocratic Islamic state in Indonesia to replace the existing democratic republic, with nearly 80 percent rejecting the idea.

Such a composition seems to represent the reality today and perhaps the history of aspiration for an Islamic state in the country. In 1945, when the Indonesian nation state was still in the making, the majority of members of a committee designing the structure of the independent state preferred a republic in which people of various ethnicities and religions would live together, over a sharia-based state.

The choice of an Islamic state was — and is — understandable given the fact that Muslims make up the majority of Indonesia’s population. It’s no wonder that since independence such an aspiration has remained alive.

Since 1955, Islamic-based parties have contested general elections but won an insufficient percent of the vote to realize their long-standing dream of formalizing Islam through legislation, or creating an Islamic state to put it simply. Currently, only the minority Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and United Development Party (PPP) openly claim to be the vanguards of political Islam, although they refuse to explicitly express support for an Islamic state.

Since the fall of the New Order in 1998 the PPP has twice formally proposed the implementation of sharia in the General Session of the People’s Consultative Assembly, but, as expected, to no avail.

The fact that Islamic law is enforced in Aceh is an exception based on a political compromise. The adoption of sharia in Aceh, where rebels fought for independence and where state-sponsored human-rights abuses were rampant, is the price Jakarta has to pay to maintain territorial integrity between Sabang in Aceh and Merauke in Papua.

Sharia in Aceh is the result of political negotiations that have seemingly been accepted nationwide. Anyone or any group could therefore theoretically bring the nationwide implementation of sharia, or even the establishment of an Islamic state, to the negotiation table too, through democratic channels of course.

Nobody, including the government, has the right to curtail such an aspiration or brand it a threat to the Pancasila state ideology and national security. Such a restriction would drag Indonesia back to its former period of authoritarianism, when the authorities determined what was right or wrong.

As long as the demand for a caliphate, or Islamic state, is expressed on the streets or in the legislature, as the PPP has done in vain, there is nothing to be worried about. The aspiration instead serves as a reminder that something wrong may have happened to our democracy or that our democratic system is not working well enough to realize the noble objectives promulgated in the Constitution.

Our tolerance must end only when those aspiring for a caliphate justify acts of violence or armed resistance as the rebel group Darul Islam DI/TII (House of Islam/ Military of Islam Indonesian) and the Islamic State (IS) movement have done.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Editorial, June 6, 2017

International coalition targets Indonesia’s anti-LGBT abuses

Publicly shamed and caned for being gay in Indonesia's Aceh province
Publicly shamed and caned for being gay in Indonesia's Aceh province
Dozens of organizations worldwide have formed a coalition seeking to end persecution of LGBT people in Indonesia. In the following statement, the coalition asks for support from allies worldwide:

International Coalition Calls for Public Support to End Increasing Persecution of LGBT People in Indonesia

The undersigned organisations and individuals (27 in total) support the following statement:

We appeal to the people of Indonesia and our friends and supporters around the world to help protect the rights and health of all Indonesian citizens by supporting efforts to end the growing mistreatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Indonesia.

Our appeal follows several cases of human rights and privacy abuses over the last two months against over 150 men who have been unjustly detained, arrested and/or charged – and in two cases severely punished – simply because they allegedly had sex with other men or facilitated men to have sex with other men. The cases we refer to involve the caning of two young men in Aceh as well as two recent police raids, one at a hotel in Surabaya and another at a leisure establishment in Jakarta.

Our appeal also follows an anti-LGBT campaign over the last 12 months by government officials and conservative community groups in Indonesia which encourages this kind of violence, harassment and state-sponsored discrimination against LGBT people across Indonesia.

Firstly, the mistreatment of the men involves violations of natural justice, privacy and human rights not only in relation to the alleged sexual activity, but also in relation to forced HIV testing and the subsequent dissemination of test results to local media. These violations contravene not only many Indonesian laws but also Indonesia’s commitment to a range of international legal frameworks protecting the rights of individuals as well as members of cultural minorities.

Secondly, these violations threaten the privacy and human rights of all Indonesians. If local police are permitted to target one group of people in this way, then other individuals and groups in Indonesia are also potentially at risk of the same kind of treatment. If the law does not protect everyone, then ultimately it protects no one.

Thirdly, this campaign of persecution is also affecting the provision of HIV prevention, testing and treatment services to gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM). Fear of being targeted by police, other authorities and even neighbours is driving gay and MSM communities underground, making it much harder to deliver information and support to an already vulnerable group of people. This is a public health issue that should concern all Indonesians due to the growing impact that HIV is having on Indonesia’s health system.

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: 76crimes.com, Colin Stewart, June 6, 2017

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