The Pit As we cross the 'bridge of swords' into the new world, the old energy of chaos and violence becomes forceful. Email the news link for inclusion in THE PIT.

4. Labor [returning maids ] extortion rampant at Soekarno Hatta Airport - The Jakarka Post, 24 May 2001

Labor extortion rampant at Soekarno Hatta Airport JAKARTA (JP): The existence of a special gate for migrant workers at Soekarno Hatta Airport is under fire due to rampant extortion of passengers, though no firm action has been taken.

The terminal, opened late in 1999, was intended to protect home-coming migrant workers from poor treatment, robbery and extortion. But, the terminal is not really immune to such crimes. On the contrary, the situation is getting worse. They are often robbed and extorted as criminals believe the workers bring home a lot of money in foreign currency.

Nina, not her real name, said that for each of her four pieces of luggage, airport porters asked for Rp 2,000. She gave Rp 10,000 but she didn't receive any change. She was then ushered outside to a minivan to take her home, and was asked to pay Rp 200,000.

Endang from Solidaritas Perempuan, a non-governmental organization for the empowerment of female migrant workers, revealed, in a seminar on Tuesday, that more of them experienced worse treatment than Nina. "The lucky ones were forced to exchange their riyal or dollar by the driver for a very low foreign exchange. Some were robbed on their way home and left with nothing but the clothes they were in," she said. Endang, who joins an independent team monitoring the returning of migrant workers, said the terminal caters for some 3,000 migrant workers each day, and they arrive mainly at night. She said that migrant workers are mostly women who are afraid to say no to the "tattooed" men operating the transport. The men are hired by a controlling team at the airport, which consists of the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, the Indonesian Labor Service Companies, the Ministry of Transportation, the police, the airport's management and the transportation service companies.

Endang also said that on one occasion a pregnant worker was bleeding but none of the custom officials helped her. She said that there have been cases when workers had to flee or were sent home by their employers. Such workers required legal advice, but nobody at the terminal cares. "They don't provide any useful information for the workers. They just extort the workers' hard-earned money instead," she said.

Wahyu Susilo from the Indonesian Consortium of Advocacy for Migrant Workers believes that the real problem lies in the lack of control and understanding in providing comfort and good service for those he dubbed foreign-exchange heroes. He also questioned the use of US$20 taken from each worker at departure which he suggested could be spent to provide better services and free transportation for migrant workers. "Actually, the philosophy to create a one-stop-service at the terminal is applauded, but its implementation is still far from ideal.

They are not protected while abroad and they are not protected here. Is this how we treat our heroes?," he told the seminar. He compared the current situation with the time when workers arrived at Terminal Two. Although there were touts and extortions, their practices were witnessed by the public. "But now the terminal is closed off to the public."

The operational team at the terminal refuses to be held responsible for all the irregularities at the terminal, blaming each other for the current condition. A staffer at Jakarta's office of the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, Larmaya Adji, said the ministry had done their best. He blamed workers who take "bad" transportation. "We're open to cooperation with non-governmental organizations that are concerned with this matter," he said. The director of operations at the airport's management Angkasa Pura II, Mulyono DS, complained that they were often made the scapegoat in the matter. They said their function was nothing more than providing facilities at the terminal. "Actually the people who should be managing transportation at the airport are the airport management, which is us. But the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration took over operations at Terminal Three," he said.

He admitted that the effectiveness of the special gate is questionable, saying that migrant workers should be treated as common passengers. M. Nurdin from the National Secretariat of All Indonesia Migrant Workers Union said the police should pay attention to the safety of migrant workers until they reach home. "If the extortion continues, Terminal Three should be closed down," he said. (bby).

Your say on this article -- post in Indonesia-ku Forum


3. Timorese women raped by Indonesian militias - Inside Indonesia Quaterly, Apr-Jun 2001

After the attack on the [Suai] church, we were taken to Manumutin, Betun, in West Timor. We slept on the verandah of the cooperative because there was no other place. On 11 September [1999], about two in the morning, six Laksaur militias came in a car.... They asked about my daughter.

My son-in-law called me and I came. His name is OB, a Laksaur militiaman. He took out a sword and said: 'Look. This sword is covered in the blood of four people I just killed.' They told me to get in the car.... They asked where my husband was; I said I didn't know.... They said: 'Do you like me?'... I had no choice, because they had a weapon... OB pushed me. I was raped in front of my son-in-law. I cried and cried, and felt so powerless, as if I was dead.

...including 46 rapes, five attempted rapes, and sixteen other cases of sexual abuse. We know of at least four pregnancies caused by rape, and two where contraceptives were forced on the victim to prevent pregnancy. Eight of the rape cases involved sexual slavery - rape on a daily basis. Some of these involved children. In others, children were forced to watch their mothers raped. Nine of the rapes were done by TNI soldiers, nine by soldiers and militias together, and all the rest by militias themselves. Goto the source to read the full article Source

Your say on this article -- post in Indonesia-ku Forum


2. The Straits Times Indonesian Bureau May 7, 2001
Dayaks Mark End Of War With Madurese - Refer to article 1.
After slaughtering about 500 Madurese migrants, one Dayak tribe held a two-day celebration of appeasement to both the Dayaks' spirits and with the Madurese!?

"We are making peace with ourselves first of all. We returned the ancestors' spirits and so we are no longer controlled by anger" said a Dayak leader. "The ceremony sent the spirits that have possessed the Dayaks, back to their homes. If the spirits are still around, the Earth is still hot - meaning that Dayaks are still angered - and their spirits are still looking for ways to kill."

This forum owner finds it difficult to accept the Dayaks' wanton killing as the work of ancestral spirits. How do we reconcile with the Dayak view that because it is their belief system, what they have done is not morally wrong. Can different societies who commit various atrocities argue that different societies have different ethical beliefs and that if that society does not believe such action to be wrong, it is morally acceptable? Surely, some moral standards must be binding on people everwhere?

Your say on this article -- post in Indonesia-ku Forum

1. The Jakarta Post -Online Special April 21, 2001
Human Tragedy in Sampit
The river town of Sampit, the capital of East Kotawaringin district in Central Kalimantan, was once a peaceful, bustling provincial business center. But on Feb. 18, 2001, the peaceful atmosphere was shattered and in its place carnage reigned. Indigenous Dayaks began attacking Madurese migrants, slaughtering hundreds, including women, children and the elderly, and chasing away thousands of others. The violence spread to other parts of Central Kalimantan, including the provincial capital of Palangkaraya. Source
Your say on this article -- post in Indonesia-ku Forum