Sobbing relatives bury Indonesian plane crash victim

Sobbing relatives bury Indonesian plane crash victim
Aldha Refa, the wife of Okky Bisma, a flight attendant and one of the 62 people aboard the ill-fated Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182, holds his photo while surrounded by family and friends during his funeral in Jakarta on Jan. 14, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 14 January 2021

Sobbing relatives bury Indonesian plane crash victim

Sobbing relatives bury Indonesian plane crash victim
  • Funeral traditions in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, call for a quick burial of the dead
  • Bad weather, pilot error, poor maintenance and mechanical failure were among possible factors

JAKARTA: Sobbing friends and relatives filed into a Jakarta cemetery Thursday to bury the remains of a flight attendant from the crashed Indonesian passenger jet, as divers restarted their hunt for its second black box.
Okky Bisma, 29, was the first confirmed victim of Saturday’s disaster after fingerprints from his retrieved hand were matched to those on a government identity database.
There were 62 crew and passengers, including 10 children, on the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 when it plunged about 3,000 meters in less than a minute before slamming into the Java Sea just after take-off from Jakarta.
At least five other victims have since been identified, as forensic examiners sort through mangled human remains retrieved from the wreckage-littered seabed in the hope of matching DNA with relatives.
At the cemetery, Bisma’s wife Aldha Refa clutched a portrait of her husband and sprinkled flower petals on a mound of dirt where his coffin was buried.
“Rest in peace up there darling and wait for me... in heaven,” Refa, also a flight attendant, wrote in a tribute posted on social media this week.
“Thank you for being the perfect husband when you were on earth.”
Funeral traditions in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, call for a quick burial of the dead.
But the identification process could take weeks or more, prolonging the agony for some distraught families.
Bisma’s family gave up hope of recovering more remains and decided instead to bury what divers had retrieved, said his father Supeno Hendy Kiswanto.
“Today we’re still mourning, but we surrender to Allah for what has happened,” Kiswanto told the ceremony.
“Death is in the hands of God... Let’s pray Allah grants him a place in heaven.”
Nearly 270 divers were on hand Thursday as authorities restarted the underwater hunt, which was called off a day earlier due to bad weather and rough seas.
“The main focus (today) will be the diving,” Rasman MS, the search-and-rescue agency’s operations director, said earlier Thursday.
“We’re not just looking for one thing – victims, the cockpit voice recorder and debris are all priorities.”
Investigators said they had extracted and cleaned a memory module from a retrieved flight data recorder and hope to be able to read critical details on the device soon, with the focus now on finding the plane’s cockpit voice recorder.
Black box data includes the speed, altitude and direction of the plane as well as flight crew conversations, and helps explain nearly 90 percent of all crashes, according to aviation experts.
So far authorities have been unable to explain why the 26-year-old plane crashed just four minutes after take-off, bound for Pontianak city on Borneo island, a 90-minute flight away.
It had experienced pilots at the controls, and preliminary evidence showed that the crew did not declare an emergency or report technical problems as it sharply deviated from its planned course just before the crash, authorities said.
Bad weather, pilot error, poor maintenance and mechanical failure were among possible factors, aviation analysts said.
As the global pandemic hammered demand for air travel, the jet – previously flown by US-based Continental Airlines and United Airlines – had been parked in a hangar for about nine months before it was put back into service in December after being declared airworthy, according to the transport ministry.
Since then, it had flown more than 130 times before the accident, flight tracking data showed.
The crash probe was likely to take months, but a preliminary report was expected in 30 days.


UN adopts resolution to combat sectarian hate and protect holy sites

UN adopts resolution to combat sectarian hate and protect holy sites
Updated 25 sec ago

UN adopts resolution to combat sectarian hate and protect holy sites

UN adopts resolution to combat sectarian hate and protect holy sites
  • Freedom of speech and religious freedom are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, says Saudi envoy
  • It comes at a time when terrorist attacks on cultural locations, including religious sites and shrines, are increasing

NEW YORK: The UN General Assembly on Thursday unanimously adopted a new resolution that aims to combat sectarian hate and protect holy sites by encouraging greater tolerance for all religious beliefs.
The resolution, titled Promoting a Culture of Peace and Tolerance to Safeguard Religious Sites, was presented during the assembly’s 50th plenary meeting by Saudi Arabia, on behalf of a number of other cosponsors, including Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, Yemen, Sudan and Pakistan.
Draft resolution L.54 draws on the founding principles enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human rights, in particular the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination toward ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.
It urges member states to take steps to counter hate speech, incitement to violence, negative stereotyping based on religion or belief, intolerance and other acts of violence, including the desecration of religious sites.
The adoption of the resolution comes at a time when terrorist attacks on cultural locations, including religious sites and shrines, are increasing.
The sponsors said they deplore the deliberate destruction of relics and monuments, and denounce such acts as violations of human-rights laws and international humanitarian law. They urged members of the General Assembly to combat religious hatred through interfaith dialogue on local, regional and international levels.
They also condemned advocacy of hatred in any form, whether in print, audiovisual or on social media, and said that terrorism “cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.”
Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, told the assembly that the aim of the resolution is to encourage and develop a culture of peace that can be a shield against all forms of extremism, and to use this to protect religious sites and symbols from acts of violence, provocation or ridicule.
Freedom of religion and freedom of expression are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, he said, as he called for heightened awareness of the responsibilities that accompany freedom of speech, and the boundaries beyond which it can become incitement to violence.
Al-Mouallimi said the primary role of states is to promote and protect human rights, and chief among them is the right for minorities to practice their faiths freely. He described religious sites as “oases of peace, centers of enlightenment” that reflect the history, social fabric and traditions of peoples around the globe.
“It is painful to see places of worship face threats and destruction, whether it’s a mosque, a church, a synagogue, or a Sikh or Hindu temple,” he added.
The Saudi envoy said he deplores slanderous campaigns directed against religious figures and symbols. Freedoms should not be used to provoke and incite, he said, but to further understanding, dialogue and the acceptance of others. Al-Mouallimi also reiterated the Kingdom’s core values of respect for differences and condemnation of terrorism and all those who condone or support it.
The new resolution invites Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to convene an international conference involving UN representatives, political and religious leaders, and civil society groups to foster political support and advance efforts to safeguard religious sites and counter the escalation of racial and religious violence around the world.
Highlighting growing concern about “derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief,” the resolution also calls on all UN member states to counter any incitement to violence by “fostering the messages of unity, solidarity and interreligious and intercultural dialogue, raising awareness and mutual respect toward promoting the culture of peace, non-violence and non-discrimination.”