Indonesian lawmakers at odds over destroying poaching vessels

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Updated 13 January 2018
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Indonesian lawmakers at odds over destroying poaching vessels

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s fishing community has urged the government to stick to its policy of destroying confiscated fishing vessels used to plunder the country’s rich fishing grounds.
President Joko Widodo’s administration has clamped down on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by publicly blowing up and sinking vessels used by crew members who are found guilty of poaching fish in Indonesian waters.
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry has destroyed more than 380 vessels from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and other countries since 2015, including the Nigerian-flagged Viking, which had been on Interpol’s wanted list for poaching protected species in Antarctic waters.
But the Cabinet is now divided on whether to continue the policy. Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan have urged Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, whose ministry is tasked with executing the policy, to put an end to it.
“The ship-sinking measure was necessary at the start as a shock therapy to let people know that we can be tough,” Pandjaitan said on Tuesday. “But we don’t need to do that anymore. We can’t have shock therapy forever.”
The policy has irked the vessels’ countries of origin, mainly China and those in Southeast Asia.
“The government has to remain consistent in enforcing the law,” Agusdin Pulungan, head of the Indonesian Agriculture and Fishing Societies, told Arab News on Friday.
“Fishing communities across the country have felt the positive impact of the policy and saw an increase in their catches.”
Pandjaitan said boats confiscated from crew members awaiting conviction could be given to fishermen who do not have vessels.
“Now that we have confiscated the vessels… why don’t we let our fishermen use them?” asked Pandjaitan.
Abdul Halim, executive director of the Jakarta-based Center of Maritime Studies for Humanities, said it is legally possible to turn confiscated vessels into state assets and auction them to fishing communities.
“The government has to ensure that whoever buys the vessels has never been implicated in crimes related to the fisheries industry,” he told Arab News.
Widodo on Wednesday said he supports the destruction of vessels used in poaching, and has instructed Pudjiastuti to focus on revitalizing the fisheries processing industry and exports.
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry on Thursday said exports of fisheries products had increased from $3.78 billion in 2016 to $4.09 billion in 2017.
Pudjiastuti said the policy of sinking vessels used in poaching over the past three years was a mandate of the fisheries law.
“The president instructed me to carry out the law, and more than 90 percent of the ships sunk were implicated in poaching convictions, so they had to be destroyed since they were not merely evidence but they were also part of the crime,” she said.
Indonesia suffers up to $20 billion in losses annually from illegal fishing in its waters, according to World Bank data.


Indonesian university wages war on Daesh — with animations

Updated 57 min 53 sec ago
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Indonesian university wages war on Daesh — with animations

  • Films tapped to counter radical propaganda after earlier efforts to publish two short comics largely failed because of the poor reading habits of Indonesian teenagers
  • 20-year-old Syrian war veteran says she regrets falling victim to Daesh online propaganda

JAKARTA: Ahmad met his friends Udin and Ari at a mosque, and Ari asked him why he had not been around for some time. 

When Ahmad said he had just returned from Syria, Ari replied in awe that he, too, wanted to go there to wage "jihad".

When a teacher approached them and asked Ahmad the same question, Ari replied, saying: “He (Ahmad) just returned from Syria to wage jihad. Isn’t that cool?” But Ahmad told both men the caliphate propaganda was false and many innocent people had been killed in the name of the caliphate.

“They were Muslims just like us,” he said. The teacher closed the conversation by saying that Ari had learned his lesson and should understand he did not have to go far to wage jihad. The teacher then asked Ari to join him assisting elderly people.

“This is also jihad,” he said.

Ahmad, Udin and Ari are characters in an animated film entitled “Kembali dari Syria,” or “Returning from Syria,” produced by the Center for the Study of Islam and Social Transformation (Cisform) at Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta. The short film — one of 20 animated clips produced to counter extremism among teenagers — was launched in Jakarta on Wednesday, following the February release of the other productions in Yogyakarta.

Mohammed Wildan, Cisform’s director, told Arab News the films had been made to counter radical propaganda after earlier efforts to publish two short comics largely failed because of the poor reading habits of Indonesian teenagers.

“We decided to develop these animated short clips to expand our reach. They will be more accessible through social media,” Wildan said.

Most of the clips are between 90 seconds and three minutes long, depending on the content.

Wildan said the real challenge was to condense the message with the correct reference to Qur’an and package it in a maximum three-minute clip.

“We are careful when choosing our arguments that cite the Qur’an and the Hadith,” Wildan said.

Lecturers from the university had offered their expertise on specific subjects, he said.

Also present at the film launch was 20-year-old Nur Shadrina Khairadhania, who went to Syria as a teenager with her extended family. She shared her own account of emigrating to the so-called caliphate and explained why going to Syria to wage jihad was wrong.

Speaking to an audience of high school students, Khairadhania said that after her interest in Islam began to grow, she fell victim to Daesh online propaganda introduced to her by an uncle.

“I watched their videos, which showed that life would be really good in the caliphate. I was enticed to join,” Khairadhania said.

She convinced her father, Dwi Djoko Wiwoho, a high-ranking civil servant in Batam, Riau province, as well as her mother and two siblings, to migrate to Syria.

A group of 26 extended members of her family, including two uncles and a grandmother, left for Syria in 2015. After 19 managed to cross the border with Turkey, they quickly discovered that life in the caliphate was very different to the propaganda.

“Everything is contrary to Islamic teaching. A male family member was forced to fight and was put in detention for months when he refused,” she said. 

The family tried for a year to leave and finally returned to Indonesia in August 2017. 

Family members completed a rehabilitation program run by the national counterterrorism agency, but now her father and uncle are facing terrorism charges. 

Rebuilding her life had been difficult because of the stigma of her past, she said.

“But God gave me a second chance to live. This is probably my jihad, to tell the truth to people so no one will be deceived like us,” she said.