Indonesia will always stand with Palestine, says Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi wore the Palestinian scarf to express her country's solidarity with the Palestinians. (AN photo)
Updated 08 December 2017
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Indonesia will always stand with Palestine, says Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi

JAKARTA: Hundreds of protesters staged a rally in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta on Friday, demanding that US President Donald Trump reconsider his decision to declare America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told Arab News that there were roughly 500 protesters in the rally.
Agus Sudarmaji, the director of the Al-Aqsa Working Group, based in Bogor, West Java, told Arab News that his group helped to coordinate the rally to show their support for Palestine.
Youth groups affiliated with Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), also attended.
“If the US doesn’t respond to our demands to withdraw its move, we will hold bigger rallies not just in Jakarta but also in other cities,” Asep Irfan Mujahid, head of the Association of NU Students, told Arab News.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told journalists on Friday that she met with the US Ambassador to Indonesia, Josep Donovan, on Thursday, on the sidelines of the Bali Democracy Forum.
“I have conveyed our official position as President Widodo instructed regarding US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Marsudi said.
In her opening speech at the forum, Marsudi declared, “Indonesia will always stand with Palestine.”
“I stand here, wearing the Palestinian scarf to show the strong commitment of Indonesia, of the people of Indonesia, to always stand with the Palestinian people for their rights,” Marsudi told delegates from 99 countries.
President Joko Widodo said in a statement that Indonesia strongly condemned the US’ unilateral move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and demanded it reconsider its decision. He also called on members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to unite in sending a strong message to the US.
Reza Widyarsa, a lecturer at the University of Indonesia’s Middle East and Islamic Studies Department, told Arab News that Indonesia could play a more active role as a mediator, in cooperation with a country that has diplomatic ties with, and a less confrontational stance toward, Israel.
NU Secretary-General Helmy Faishal Zaini said the NU urged the government to play a more proactive role in the crisis and “strongly condemns the unilateral recognition.”
“We also urge the OIC to mobilize its members to support Palestine’s independence,” Zaini added.
Yenny Wahid, director of the Wahid Foundation and daughter of the late President Abdurrahman Wahid, said the decision could trigger global instability, especially in Muslim-majority countries.
The head of the Indonesian Ulema Council Advisory Board and chairman of the Indonesia-Palestine Friendship Initiative, Din Syamsuddin, said in a statement that the American move “clearly puts a dead end on the long-standing peace process.”
“It could also spur radicalism among Muslims who react to the global injustice that the US has created,” Syamsuddin added.
Indonesia’s ruling party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), said it “deeply regrets” the decision and has instructed its cadres who are members of the House of Representatives’ Commission I, which oversees foreign policy, to take active and progressive measures to support Palestinian independence.
“Efforts to support Palestine’s independence should be the main guideline for all Indonesia’s diplomacy,” the party’s secretary general Hasto Kristiyanto said.


Priyanka standoff ends with visit to victims’ families

In this handout photo taken and released by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Communication Department on July 19, 2019, Indian politician Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (2L) meets Sonbhadra massacre victims at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Trauma Centre in Varanasi. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2019
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Priyanka standoff ends with visit to victims’ families

  • Priyanka Gandhi’s protest continued throughout Friday night while she demanded the right to visit the victims’ families

NEW DELHI: A political standoff over detained Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi ended on Saturday after she was allowed to meet relatives of 10 people killed in a caste clash in the eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress general secretary and sister of outgoing party president Rahul Gandhi was detained in Mirzapur on Friday while traveling to Sonbhadra to visit family members of 10 people shot and killed in a land dispute a day earlier.
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh, led by Yogi Adityanath, detained Gandhi for violating the peace and stopped her from traveling further. The Congress leader then began a sit-in protest with her supporters at the Mirzapur guest house where she was held.
Her protest continued throughout Friday night while she demanded the right to visit the victims’ families. Television images showed Gandhi sitting in the dark after power and water supplies in the guest house were allegedly cut off by the local administration.
Her presence in the area, which also falls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency in Varanasi, galvanized Congress workers who staged protests across the state.
Early on Saturday, relatives of some of the victims visited the guest house to meet the 47-year-old leader of the Gandhi-Nehru family, India’s pre-eminent political dynasty.
“My objective has been served as I have met the victims of the shooting,” said Gandhi before calling off her protest.
“The responsibility for the Sonbhadra massacre lies with the Yogi government,” she said.
Gandhi told her supporters, “I will be back,” before flying to New Delhi.
The BJP has accused the Congress leader of playing politics over the shootings.
“Congress has a history of playing politics over dead bodies,” said Swatantra Dev Singh, BJP president in Uttar Pradesh.
“The drama should stop. That is what I will say to Priyanka. All the accused have been arrested, and the officials responsible have been suspended,” he said.
The fatal shootings in Sonbhadra, 800 km southeast of New Delhi, drew mainstream media attention only when the Congress leader arrived in the state.
Observers say that the killing of 10 socially marginalized and landless tribes people by members of the dominant caste has highlighted the fragile caste situation in India’s most populous state.
The people of Gond tribe have been working the disputed land for generations. According to reports, the village head wanted tribes people to vacate the farm land. This led to conflict, and on Friday more than 200 armed men attacked the helpless villagers, killing 10 and injuring several others.
Gandhi, who entered politics only a few months before the general elections in May this year, seized the opportunity to connect with the people.
For the BJP, Uttar Pradesh is the jewel in the crown. The state gave the party 62 of its 303 parliamentary seats, and it is determined to maintain its political grip.
Political analysts say that Gandhi is determined to revive the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh by 2022 when the state goes to the polls.
“Priyanka Gandhi handled the Sonbhadra incident in a mature way, exposing the ham-fisted attitude of the Yogi government,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi-based analyst and author.
“She also managed to expose the BJP’s class bias  and how the ruling party is protecting the interests of  dominant caste in the state,” said Mukhopadhyay.
“This incident gives the party a chance to go back to the people immediately after the huge loss in the elections,” Mukhopadhyay told Arab News.
Lucknow-based political analyst Ram Dutt Tripathi said that Gandhi has “shown her courage as a political leader willing to fight administrative injustice.”
“Her detention was illegal and the Congress has high hopes that she can lead the revival of the party,” said Tripathi.
“It is unfortunate that the state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has not visited relatives of the victims so far and is putting restrictions on political opponents who want to stand with them,” he said.