BANDA ACEH: A gay couple was flogged in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province on Thursday (Jan 28), justice officials said, in a public spectacle lambasted by human rights groups. The two men were whipped nearly 80 times each for having gay sex, which is outlawed in Aceh province under local Islamic law. The pair, who were not identified, winced in pain and pleaded for the whipping to stop, as a masked Syariah officer beat their backs with a rattan stick. The punishment was briefly halted and the men, both in their twenties, were allowed a drink of water before it continued. The mother of one man fainted at the sight of her son being whipped. "Islamic Syariah enforcement is final, no matter who it is, and even visitors must respect local norms," public order official Heru Triwijanarko told AFP. The men were arrested in November at a rental home where a landlord found them half-naked in their room. Gay sex is not illegal elsewhere in Indonesia and Aceh is the … [Read more...] about Indonesian couple whipped in Aceh for having gay sex
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JAKARTA: It was a picture of Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio standing in front of two elephants with a man and a woman in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem that got people talking in 2016. The actor posted the picture on his Instagram and said that Leuser is “a world-class biodiversity hotspot … but palm oil expansion is destroying this unique place”. Leuser Ecosystem is a forest area spanning Indonesia’s most western province Aceh and North Sumatra province, and a prized ecological hotspot. The photo, taken when DiCaprio was filming in Leuser for a documentary film about climate change, outraged the government. Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar responded by saying that the ministry was “working hard” to protect the environment. But some were curious to know who was the woman standing next to DiCaprio, one of Hollywood’s most famous actors. “In all honesty, I did feel a bit star-struck,” said Farwiza Farhan who was also featured in the documentary. … [Read more...] about ‘I’m as good as any man’: Aceh activist champions megafauna sanctuary preservation
JAKARTA: Foto aktor peraih Oscar Leonardo DiCaprio berdiri di depan dua ekor gajah bersama seorang pria dan seorang wanita di Kawasan Ekosistem Leuser, Indonesia pada tahun 2016 masih lekat dalam ingatan sebagian orang. Leonardo mengunggah foto tersebut di akun Instagram-nya dan mengatakan bahwa Leuser adalah "tempat keanekaragaman hayati kelas dunia ... tetapi pembukaan lahan untuk kelapa sawit menghancurkan tempat unik ini". Leuser yang membentangi dua provinsi paling barat di Indonesia, Aceh dan Sumatera Utara, adalah kawasan ekologi yang berharga. Foto yang diambil ketika Leonardo sedang syuting di Leuser untuk sebuah film dokumenter tentang perubahan iklim itu pun membuat pemerintah geram. Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Siti Nurbaya Bakar menanggapinya dengan mengatakan bahwa kementeriannya sedang “bekerja keras” untuk melindungi lingkungan. Terlepas dari kontroversi yang timbul, ada pihak yang penasaran dan cenderung ingin tahu siapa sebenarnya wanita yang … [Read more...] about ‘Saya sebaik para pria’: Aktivis lingkungan asal Aceh berjuang melindungi megafauna kawasan Leuser
ACEH BESAR, Indonesia: Mr Rahmat Saiful Bahri had never heard of the word “tsunami” in his life, until one hit his neighbourhood in Banda Aceh 15 years ago. On the morning of December 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake rocked Indonesia’s most western province Aceh. Mr Bahri heard people shouting that water had rushed into the city, rising fast and flooding most of the area. “I thought it was doomsday,” the 52-year-old recalled. With his wife and three children in tow, Mr Bahri immediately ran to the nearest mosque for shelter. Although the tsunami waves reached 15m to 30m in some parts of Aceh, the water did not reach the second floor of the mosque. “I saw everything being swept away by the water, from trash, house debris to human beings. “A neighbour was stuck between the rubble. He cried for help but I couldn’t reach out to him as I was trying to save myself. I saw with my own eyes how he died,” Mr Bahri said. The carnage is still fresh on the minds of many … [Read more...] about ‘I lost 100 family members’: Aceh tsunami survivors recount tragedy 15 years on
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia: Taking a stroll through Banda Aceh’s iconic Blang Padang Park, it’s hard to imagine that 15 years ago, this place was scattered with dead bodies and debris after a powerful tsunami killed thousands of people. Today, joggers in the shady park are accompanied by the sounds of singing birds in the morning, while at night the place glows from food stalls offering local dishes such as Acehnese noodle and steamed fish dumpling. This is in sharp contrast to Dec 26, 2004 when a massive 9.1 magnitude quake struck undersea 160km off Sumatra’s coast, unleashing a 30m wall of water and flattening buildings. It also killed 170,000 people in Aceh and thousands of others in more than 10 other Indian Ocean countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka and even Somalia in Africa. Today, a monument named "Aceh Thanks the World" stands in the park, expressing gratitude to the 53 countries that helped Aceh. Across the park, a museum was inaugurated in 2009 to create … [Read more...] about The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami has enhanced disaster awareness in Aceh, but is this enough?