How Indonesians celebrate Independence Day

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Climbers raised the national flag at the edge of Mount Rinjani’s Segara Anak crater. (Mount Rinjani National Park Agency)
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Bandung Mountain Climbers Community raised the national flag at the peak of one of the mountains in West Java. (Komunitas Pendaki Gunung Bandung)
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Flag-raising at the peak of Mount Hawu, West Java. (Komunitas Pendaki Gunung Bandung)
Updated 17 August 2019

How Indonesians celebrate Independence Day

  • Thrill-seekers flock to the mountains to raise the flag on high
  • It’s a unique tradition a nation with 500 mountains, including active volcanoes

JAKARTA: Indonesians always find new ideas for celebrating the Aug. 17 Independence Day. While the most common celebration is a simple raising of the national flag, it has become a tradition for people to do it in extreme places, such as the top of a mountain.  In a vast archipelago that stretches 5,245 kilometers along the equator, Indonesian thrill-seekers who want to raise the flag on high are spoilt with options. With 500 mountains, of which 127 are active volcanoes and 22 are showing increased signs of activity.
Miena Muzdalifah, a mountain climber from Bandung, West Java, had her first high-altitude flag-raising moment in 2018 on Mount Hawu, a limestone mountain in Padalarang, west of Bandung. It was part of a simultaneous flag-hoisting ceremony in four compass directions that surround Bandung that her group, the Bandung Mountain Climbers Community, held last year.  
“There was a special sense of pride to be able to raise the red-and-white (flag) at a high altitude. We had to undergo a certain process to read the limestone cliff’s summit,” Miena told Arab News.  “It was a great feeling and it boosted my sense of nationalism and patriotism,” she added.  
Miena said the group plans to celebrate Indonesia’s 74th Independence Day by having a flag-hoisting ceremony at a 2,088-meter elevation on the Soleh Peak of Mount Jampang in Garut district, south of Bandung.

 

The high enthusiasm to celebrate Independence Day by climbing a mountain, especially the most popular ones and those located in national parks, has resulted in such an excess of climbers that park managements have to impose quotas. The limit fills up so quickly that climbers have to book online far ahead of their trip.
Mount Rinjani in Lombok Island, a 3,726-meter-high active volcano and the second-highest mountain in Indonesia, imposed a quota of 500 climbers per day. The restriction took effect after all four trails on the mountain were reopened for climbers on June 14. They had been closed following the 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck the island in July 2018.
“We’re not giving out more places for climbers, even though enthusiasm is high during the Independence Day holiday,” Sudiyono, head of Mount Rinjani National Park, told Arab News.
The mountain is also popular with foreign hikers, who have made up 80 percent of its climbers since the reopening, Sudiyono said.

NUMBERS

5,245km - The length of the Indonesian archipelago that straddles the equator.

500 - Mountains in Indonesia.

127 - Active volcanoes that dot the archipelago from Sumatra in the west to Papua in the east.

4,884m - The 7 highest summits in Indonesia that start from the 2,278-meter Mount Bukit Raya in Kalimantan to the 4,884-meter Mount Jayawijaya in Papua.

12 - The youngest age of an Indonesian climber to climb the seven summits.

2,088m - Height of one of this year’s Independence Day ceremonies.

Last year, rescuers had to evacuate 1,226 climbers, including 696 foreigners, who were stranded in various spots on the mountain, including its iconic crater lake, Segara Anak, due to landslides triggered by the powerful quake.
“It was always very crowded with climbers celebrating independence each year. After the earthquake, we have been improving our climbing procedures. We want to maintain manageable numbers for safety and for conservation purposes,” Sudiyono said.
Rahman Mukhlis, secretary-general of the Indonesia Mountain Guide Association, has had the chance to celebrate Independence Day on two of Indonesia’s seven highest summits, Mount Rinjani and Mount Latimojong, a 3,478-meter-high non-volcanic mountain in South Sulawesi.
“When we climb mountains, we get to know more about our country. We gain a better understanding of our sociocultural environment through interacting with the locals and seeing first-hand our country’s beautiful nature. We see a different view from above,” Rahman told Arab News.
Dody Permana, a long-time mountain climber, had his Independence Day moment years ago on Java’s highest mountain, Mount Semeru, which sits 3,676 meters above sea level in East Java province and is one of Indonesia’s seven highest summits.
“The Independence Day holiday is always a good opportunity to climb together with a group of friends. It feels heroic when have a flag-raising ceremony in an unusual place, such as the top of a mountain,” Dody said.
“Almost all the most popular ones would be overcrowded with climbers during the holiday, except some that have imposed a quota for climbers,” he added.
Mount Semeru used to host thousands of climbers for Independence Day celebrations. But since May, the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park has imposed a quota of 600 climbers per day after months of closure following intense rainfall at the height of the rainy season in January.
Lanjar Sayekti, who works at the national park office, told Arab News that quotas for climbers in Semeru on the Independence Day weekend are full up.
“Mount climbing is a good way to gain a deeper feeling of nationalism and boost patriotism, especially on Independence Day,” Rahman said.

Decoder

Karst mountains

The karst mountains, made of limestone, can be worn away from the top or dissolved from a weak point inside the rock, featuring caves, underground streams and sinkholes. Steep rocky cliffs are visible where erosion has worn away the land above ground.


Ethiopian PM says troops ordered to move on Tigray capital

Updated 26 November 2020

Ethiopian PM says troops ordered to move on Tigray capital

NAIROBI, Kenya: Ethiopia’s prime minister says the army has been ordered to move on the embattled Tigray capital after his 72-hour ultimatum for Tigray leaders to surrender ended, and he warns residents to “stay indoors.”
The statement Thursday by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office means tanks and other weaponry can now close in on the city of some half-million people. His government has warned of “no mercy” if residents don’t move away from the Tigray leaders in time.
The new statement asserts that thousands of Tigray militia and special forces surrendered during the 72-hour period. “We will take utmost care to protect civilians,” it says.
Communications remain severed to Tigray, making it difficult to verify claims.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below:
The United Nations says shortages have become “very critical” in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region as its population of 6 million remains sealed off and its capital is under threat of attack by Ethiopian forces seeking to arrest the regional leaders.
Fuel and cash are running out, more than 1 million people are now estimated to be displaced and food for nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea will be gone in a week, according to a new report released overnight. And more than 600,000 people who rely on monthly food rations haven’t received them this month.
Travel blockages are so dire that even within the Tigray capital, Mekele, the UN World Food Program cannot obtain access to transport food from its warehouses there.
Communications and travel links remain severed with the Tigray region since the deadly conflict broke out on Nov. 4, and now Human Rights Watch is warning that “actions that deliberately impede relief supplies” violate international humanitarian law.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s 72-hour ultimatum for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front leaders to surrender ended Wednesday night. His government has said Mekele is surrounded.
The UN has reported people fleeing the city. Abiy’s government had warned them of “no mercy” if residents didn’t move away from the TPLF leaders who are accused of hiding among the population.
But with communications cut, it’s not clear how many people in Mekele received the warnings. The alarmed international community is calling for immediate de-escalation, dialogue and humanitarian access.
Abiy on Wednesday, however, rejected international “interference.”