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“Nothing about us without us” – that was the call from the indigenous rights advocate Ghazali Ohorella from the Alifuru people in the Maluku Islands, Indonesia during a panel at the climate summit in Glasgow.  This plea was echoed by many…
Georgina Wabano and her mother cooking traditional food for school children in Peawanuck, ON, December 18, 2019. : © 2019 Daron Donahue
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On February 10, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi) will address Australia’s parliament. Indonesia is often referred to as the democratic success story of Southeast Asia and a model of Muslim democracy, yet it has been responsible…
LGBT activists protest the planned revision to Indonesia’s criminal code outside parliament in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 12, 2018.
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An ongoing legal case in London could provide the impetus for significant reforms to improve human rights protections for workers in the garment industry. The UK legal action doesn’t relate directly to clothing companies, but it sounds a warning that…
Women Garment Industry
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The Indonesian film Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku (Memories of My Body) is winning awards and accolades around the world. But at home in Indonesia, few may get to see this evocative masterpiece because of an overblown call to censor it. Its creator, Garin Nugroho…
Still from the Indonesian film Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku (Memories of My Body).
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Over the weekend, 10 women accused of being lesbians were arrested in West Sumatra, after a police trawl of Facebook threw up pictures of two of them kissing and hugging. And last month, police in Bandung, the capital of…
Muslim protesters hold an anti-LGBT rally outside a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia February 2, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Irwansyah Putra/
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It has been almost a year since 20-year-old “Muhammad” and 23-year-old “Hanif” were marched in front of a jeering crowd in Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province, and flogged more than 80 times. Their alleged crime? Same-…
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Panic over sexuality puts reputation for tolerance on the line

Indonesia’s growing moral and political panic about sexuality has now produced draft laws that could criminalize sex outside marriage, and same-sex conduct. Things may get even worse: One legislator has called for the death…
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It may seem preposterous, but some Indonesian politicians are attempting to portray the criminalization of adult consensual same-sex conduct as somehow protecting against vigilantism. Make same-sex behavior a crime, they say, and…
Motorcyclists ride past a banner calling for LGBT people to leave the Cigondewah Kaler area in Bandung, Indonesia, January 27, 2016.
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Gay Men Sentenced to Public Flogging a Test of Core Values

His neighbors had been watching him for weeks. Twenty-year-old Muhammad (a pseudonym) rented a room in Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province. On March 28, 23-year-old Hanif (also a pseudonym) arrived at his flat.…
‘Sparing the Rod: Gay men sentenced to public flogging a test of Indonesia’s core values’ PHOTO
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I met Eka (not her real name) in 2014. After traveling for hours on pothole-filled road, I finally reached her village in Cianjur, in West Java. I went to her home, and her father pointed toward a shabby outhouse with a locked door and boarded windows. As…
This man lived shackled in stocks, a traditional form of pasung, for nine years in a back room in his family’s home in Cianjur in West Java. When he was released, his legs had atrophied from disuse.
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Indonesia is in the midst of a government-incited meltdown about LGBT rights. In January, the country’s high education minister said he wanted to ban LGBT student groups from university campuses. Not long after, the defense minister said the LGBT movement…
A picture of an anti-LGBT demonstration.
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More than 57,000 people in Indonesia with mental health conditions have been chained and locked up in overcrowded rooms or filthy sheds at least once in their lives. About 18,000 are still believed to be shackled, despite a 1977 government ban on pasung, …
A man with a psychosocial disability lies chained at the wrist on a platform bed at the Bina Lestari healing center in Brebes, Central Java. All residents of the healing center are chained. © 2015 Andrea Star Reese for Human Rights Watch
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There are lots of reasons why President Barack Obama is meeting with Indonesian president Joko Widodo today in Washington. Indonesia doesn’t often get the attention it deserves, but it is a key country with major links to the United States. It’s in the G7…
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The shocked mother was almost in tears. Not because her son is gay, but because he had been hiding his sexual orientation for years. “Were you afraid of us? Why didn’t you trust us? We love you, no matter what!” In my home country, the Netherlands, coming…
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“My parents thought I was possessed — they used to put garlic and salt on my body to rid me of evil spirits,” Erifah, 49, who lives in Jakarta, told me. Erifah started having symptoms of schizophrenia affective disorder when she was in the sixth grade,…
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