Thursday, November 26, 2009
  Sacrificial Lambs

Tomorrow is the Islamic festival of Idul Adha, what some call a red letter day because it's a public holiday and its appearance on our desk calendars.

This brief explanation comes from What's New Jakarta.

The increasing appearance of goats and cattle along the roadsides, and even the regular sightings of goats being transported precariously slung over the seats of motorbikes! This is a yearly sight in the lead up to the Muslim celebration of Idul Adha, also known as the ‘day of sacrifice’.

Practiced throughout the Muslim world, it commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice everything for God, including the life of his son Ishmael. God apparently intervened though, and substituted Ishmael with a sheep instead. Muslims therefore commemorate this by sacrificing an animal and distributing its meat amongst family, friends and as an act of charity, to those underprivileged. This allows many poor Indonesians the opportunity, once a year, to eat meat, a commodity they can rarely afford.

Many expatriates in Jakarta also participate by buying a goat or a cow and donating it to their local mosque to be sacrificed and distributed in the local community. Goats typically are sold for between Rp 800,000 to Rp.3 million (c.$350) and cows Rp.6-16 million.

'Er Indoors has prepared loads of food for our expected visitors, many of whom have suffered bereavements in the past year. As a vegetarian, I won't be partaking of the meat but will be giving some thought to others who have made sacrifices of their own.

I'm not thinking of the disgraced National Police Chief of Detectives Susno Duadji who was identified in the recorded wiretaps framing two deputy commissioners of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and has now been removed from his position yet remains a member of the police force. Nor am I thinking of the assistant Attorney General Abdul Hakim Ritonga who was similarly identified so has taken early retirement. They have justifiably been sacrificed on the altar of public opinion for their roles in perverting justice on behalf of major corruptors.

I am thinking of the two suspended commissioners, Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M. Hamzah who may yet lose their jobs even though SBY has said that their cases should not go to court. They are subject to a rule, annulled this week by the Constitutional Court, which says that commissioners must be dismissed after being inactive for longer than three months. For them it falls on December 21st nd the Attorney General's Office is is no hurry to follow SBY's advice.

Junior attorney general for special crimes Marwan Effendi said, “It’s our business to slow down or speed up the order,” meaning, no one else’s.

So, ya boo sucks to us all. Still, I assume that Bibit and Chandra can afford meat.

There are many more sacrifices on the altar of impaired justice, too many to enumerate here.

However, do spare a few thoughts for the following who have lacked the largesse, let alone justice, that one may expect on humanitarian grounds.

There are still 'refugees' from the Sidoarjo mudflow taking shelter at the Pasar Baru market in Porong, East Java. As of last weekend weekend the Norway-sponsored humanitarian organization Dina Foundation, in cooperation with the Yayasan Obor Berkat Indonesia foundation, is providing free medication and medical treatment.

The government has supposedly taken charge of dealing with the mudflow through the Sidoarjo Mudflow Handling Agency (BPLS).

BPLS spokesperson, Achmad Zulkarnain, said that the government would not stop foreign humanitarian organizations from helping the mudflow victims.

"But BPLS will not manage any foreign aid," he said. "Previously, Lapindo Brantas was fully in charge of dealing with the mudflow spew while BPLS was just assisting. Now it's all in BPLS' hands. This makes it easier for us to deal with the problem more quickly and efficiently."

He added his agency had been urging the company to finish the payment of the 20 percent promised compensation to the people affected by the mudflow.

And there are lots more instances of justice being dispensed which smack of victimisation rather than a commonsense approach.

For example, two farmers have been detained since Idul Fitri for stealing one watermelon.

"Because they have no lawyers, no one could file a request for the suspension of their detention," state prosecutor Agus Eko said on Thursday.

It is the responsibility of the prosecutors' office to provide free lawyers.

Someone else who has faced the full might of the law without a lawyer is 55 year old grandmother Minah from Banyumas, Central Java.

The Purwokerto District Court handed down a suspended sentence of 45 days in prison. The mother of seven and grandmother of more was ordered to serve her jail term should she commit a similar crime within three months of her conviction.

Her crime? Stealing three cacao pods worth Rp.1,500 (c.15c) from the plantation next to her smallholding.

She got off comparatively lightly. The case of Manise, 39, her two young sons, Jowono, 16, and Rustono, 14, and her 25 year old cousin, Sri Suratmi - all residents of Kenconorejo village in Tulis, Central Java, almost beggars belief. I say 'almost', but this is Indonesia after all.

The family have been in police detention since November 2nd for stealing kapok (cotton pods) worth around Rp 4,000. The family say that they were gleaning harvest leftovers. They have been charged with 'aggravated theft' under Article 363 of the Criminal Code on theft, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.

As the Jakarta Post puts it, Indonesians are good at observing religious rites, but not in living up to the teachings and the values these rites impart.

Selamat Iduh Adha everyone and especially those who are deserving of our sacrifices!


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