Salatiga Carnival Center

Salatiga Carnival Center
Sebuah event akbar tahunan WORLD CULTURE FASHION CARNIVAL..

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Salatiga, Jawa Tengah, Indonesia
I was born in Solo, December 25, 1987 from the father of Drs. Luke Suroso and Mrs. Sri Puji Lestari Hantokyudhaningsih. I grew up in a city full of culture that is the city of Solo. as the descendants of the solos even have blood from a stranger. I was born like a tiny man, weighing> 4 kg. the second child of three brothers that I tried to be a pioneer and a child who was always proud of my extended family. trained hard in terms of education and given the religious sciences until thick. I am standing upright in my life the 19th to voice the aspirations of the marginalized of LGBT in the city of Salatiga. as a new city that will be a starting point toward change and transformation that this country is a country truly democratic. soul, body and all of my life will always fight for rights of the marginalized is to get our citizen rights. Ladyboys no rights, no gay rights, no rights of lesbian, but there's only citizen rights regardless of sexual orientation and gender.

08 April 2010

LGBT Activism Under Attack in Surabaya, Indonesia

Part 1

By Grace Poore

Grace Poore and Ging Cristobal, staff members of the International Gay
and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) were in Surabaya,
Indonesia for the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Asia
conference scheduled to begin in the East Java capital on March 26 and
run through March 29, 2010.

One hundred and fifty activists representing one hundred organizations
from sixteen Asian countries were scheduled to attend. As participants
began to arrive for the weekend’s activities, Indonesian police ordered
the cancellation of the conference in response to pressure from
Islamist fundamentalist groups. The conference hotel refused to permit
the conference to proceed. ILGA Asia found alternate venue, but
fundamentalists tracked them there. One of the groups occupied the
hotel lobby for several days. After threats of violence and hours of
negotiation, Indonesian activists were forced to leave the hotel and
foreign attendees forced to disperse until they could leave Indonesia.

Grace Poore, Coordinator of IGLHRC’s Asia and Pacific Island Program,
documented her experience. This is the first part of her story.

3/23/10 – Tuesday

9:10 PM - I arrive at the Mercure Hotel to check-in and the front desk
tells me that I only have a room for one night because the conference
is not taking place at the hotel. They offer me complimentary lemon ice
tea. I call Ging Cristobal, IGLHRC’s Project Coordinator for Asia and
the Pacific Islands. She tells me that there has been a security threat
to the hotel so the conference venue is being moved. We have to wait
for more details.

10:30 PM – A member of the ILGA Asia Board tells me that press coverage
of the conference tipped off local fundamentalists who are now
threatening to attack the Mercure Hotel. Earlier today, the hotel
management told Gaya Nusantara, one of the oldest lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations in Indonesia, based in
Surabaya, about the threat and said the conference could not remain in
the venue—basically kicking us out.

Gaya Nusantara is negotiating with a different hotel.

3/24/10 – Wednesday

Morning – At breakfast, I learn from members of Gaya Nusantara that
there’s a problem with the conference permit. It turns out that the
Surabaya police issued a permit for the wrong dates. This is turning
into a comedy of errors. One hundred and fifty people are expected, now
for a conference without a permit, while fundamentalists are
threatening a showdown.

Members of Arus Pelangi, a Jakarta-based organization that assists
LGBT-survivors of torture and conducts national advocacy, are
negotiating with federal and local police. I am comforted by this –
they are seasoned in dealing with police. However, we hear that the
police have links to the fundamentalists.

Noon – I check out of the Mercure Hotel and relocate to the Oval Hotel,
the new conference venue. The lone figure of ILGA’s Co-Secretary
General Gloria Carreaga in an empty hotel lobby is surprisingly
comforting. What a welcome to Asia for her.

There’s no Internet in the rooms. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to have
Skype conferences in the lobby. What if the fundamentalists show up and
we can’t access Internet at all? Should I go back to the other hotel?
But they kicked out our conference. I don’t want to give them my
business. It’s important to be in solidarity with the local partners.

3/25/10 – Thursday

Noon – Familiar faces from India, Bangladesh, Singapore, Philippines
and China pass through the lobby of the Oval Hotel. They’ve flown into
a void–nobody knows for sure whether the conference is happening.
Registration is delayed and then moved to a room in the hotel basement
next to the underground car park. Two people from Arus Pelangi walk in
from negotiating with police about the permit. Their eyes are puffy,
faces drawn, and shoulders slumped. I expect to be told we need to
leave, conference cancelled. The ILGA Asia Board huddles in a corner.
The rest of us wait.

2:00-7:00 PM – Ging and I attend a meeting unconnected to the
conference at a third hotel. Namita Chad of the Astraea Foundation says
that she’s glad that the hotel took the initiative to change the video
monitor in the lobby. The day before, it said, “Meeting: Astraea
Lesbian Action Foundation and International Gay and Lesbian Human
Rights Commission.” It now simply reads “Meeting: Astraea Foundation.”

After the meeting, a member of that hotel’s staff tells us that she saw
the news about the fundamentalist threats against the conference and
about the Mercure Hotel turning us away. “Our hotel supports you,” she
assures us. “Our manager called all of the staff and said that no one
should talk to the media or anyone who asks about your meeting.” She
sounds grave. I don’t realize the significance of her statements until
that night — when I find out that 20 to 30 fundamentalist protesters
had demonstrated against the conference in front of Hotel Mercure that
morning.

9:00 PM – There is a security briefing in the basement of the Oval
Hotel led by ILGA Asia, Gaya Nusantara, Arus Pelangi, and Institut
Pelangi Perempuan, a Jakarta-based lesbian organization. They take
turns outlining the situation to all conference participants. The
following is my summary of the meeting:

Permit Issue

Before they sought the permit for the conference, the organizers sought
letters of approval from the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs,
the National Police and the National Human Rights Commission. The
National Human Rights Commission was the only one to give their full
support. From the start, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the
National Police were uncooperative. Police ambivalence appeared to have
been reinforced when fundamentalists warned they would attempt to shut
down the gathering.

We hear that Surabaya police intended to grant Gaya Nusantara the
permit when the national police instructed them to deny it.

Threat of Police Shut Down

The situation is that now the organizers don’t have a permit to hold
the conference. This means that the police have the right to disband
the conference. How can we deal with this threat? The ILGA Board has
officially announced that the conference has been canceled, which the
media has publicized. Now, the international guests are here merely as
tourists, so we have all the freedom to meet and travel like other
tourists. However, we are advised to avoid wearing ILGA t-shirts,
carrying ILGA bags, or displaying the conference program. Basically,
avoid showing anything related to the conference.

Threats by Fundamentalists

We also face threats from radical Muslim groups led by Islamic
Defenders Front (FPI). I hear from an independent source that a total
of seven fundamentalist groups in Surabaya have joined forces against
us. Some of these groups have been gathering force and encouraging
others to take action against us. In addition to the demonstration in
front of the Mercure Hotel earlier today, there was also another
demonstration at a hotel where we were supposed to have dinner
tomorrow. We are not sure if the fundamentalists know that we are still
meeting, but there’s a good possibility of them finding out that we are
here. There are strong indications that in the coming days, especially
tomorrow, that the groups may show up at our hotel to protest – or
worse. Tomorrow is prayer day, and there’s a possibility of people
getting revved up, their actions getting heated.

The Position of the Hotel

So far, the management at the Oval Hotel has been fairly cooperative,
although they are worried. It’s not in their interest to tell anyone we
are here. However, they instruct that we are not to gather around the
lobby, especially not near the main entrance. Instead, we should stay
in the restaurant area, which is more discreet and will be perceived as
a normal place to gather.

Reassurances

The irony is that Surabaya is an open city. Surabaya’s residents are
used to seeing gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. It is
even common to have LGBT guests at hotels. (We are told that the
fundamentalists would not take such action against LGBT individuals but
are moved to protest because we are trying to organize for our rights.)

Of course, the local organizers and ILGA Asia are not sitting idly by.
Organizers are coordinating with local human rights and civil society
groups which are actively taking measures to prevent anything bad from
happening to us. Significantly, a moderate Muslim group in Surabaya
says that it will give us moral and political support as needed. In an
incredible expression of solidarity, individual human rights activists
and non-LGBT friends communicate that they are prepared to personally
form the first barrier of defense if there’s an attack. They are
willing to endanger themselves to protect their international friends.
It’s amazing – an understatement – to have support like this from
non-LGBT Indonesian organizations.

Security Measures and Instructions

All participants must pay attention to and cooperate with the security
measures. There will be different security teams – a team on the main
roads near the hotel to look out for police or fundamentalist presence,
a team that will provide information if evacuation is necessary, and a
team to ensure evacuation is done properly.

If demonstrators come toward us while we are in the hotel, we should go
to our own rooms. There have been no cases where demonstrators have
gone into the hotel rooms (yet). In the event that fundamentalists
break into our rooms, we should attempt to escape through the emergency
exits located on each floor. If we are trapped during a meeting and
cannot get to our own rooms, we should rely on the evacuation team to
direct us to the safest exits to get to the public areas and roads.

The decision is to attempt to work things out through negotiation and
avoid violence.

Revised Program Schedule

The conference is no longer a conference but a meeting. The first day’s
plenary has been canceled so that people are not all gathered in one
room because this may not be safe. There will be one set of discussion
groups in the morning and another in the afternoon. We will not use
meeting rooms but our hotel rooms. At midnight, we will receive a phone
call in our rooms telling us where to meet in the morning.

Impressions

Some of the gay men and waria people use humor to lift the tension. The
lesbians and FtMs from Indonesia sit stone-faced. Across from me a
young South Asian lesbian who I met for the first time earlier in the
day catches my eye. Fear is written all over her face. This is her
first time out of the country and her first time at an international
conference. She is not out to her family. Her parents don’t even know
she’s in Indonesia.

This is not Aceh, where hardliners reign, it’s Surabaya! How could this
be happening? Surabaya has had events for the International Day Against
Homophobia (IDAHO). Gaya Nusantara has worked here for years. But the
police have refused to grant the permit and cannot be depended on for
protection. If something happens, will anyone protect us?

Part 2: Anti-LGBT protesters surround the hotel

Staff members Grace Poore and Ging Cristobal of IGLHRC’s Asia & Pacific
Program were in Surabaya, Indonesia for the ILGA Asia conference
scheduled to begin in the East Java capital on Friday March 26 and run
through the weekend to March 29 2010.

However, on March 24th as participants began arriving in preparation
for the weekend’s activities, Indonesian police ordered the
cancellation of the conference after anti-LGBT pressure from Islamist
fundamentalist groups. Although conference participants moved to a new
venue in Surabaya, they were tracked there and fundamentalist groups
continued to threaten their safety with one of the groups occupying the
hotel lobby for several days, starting on Muslim prayer day, Friday
March 26th After many tense hours of negotiation and threats of
violence, local activists were forced to leave the hotel and foreign
attendees forced to disperse throughout Surabaya until they could leave
Indonesia.

The 100 activists who made it to Surabaya, representing 100
organizations in 16 Asian countries are all currently safe.

Grace Poore documented her experience.

Go to Part 1: Police force activists to cancel the conference »

3/26/10 – Friday

Morning: The breakfast buffet is bustling. Ninety-nine percent of us
are Asian, and you see our diverse faces, skin tones, hair textures.
The atmosphere is light and even cheery. There is no hint of the doom
and terror from last night’s security briefing. It’s surreal.

Two members of the waria community that I met at the Indonesia launch
of the Yogyakarta Principles in 2008 smile when they seem me and kiss
me on both cheeks. “The situation is blown out of proportion. Don’t
worry,” says the waria from Yogyakarta. The other adds, “We face this
in Aceh every day!”

8:30 AM – We cluster in a circle in the fourth floor corridor for
abbreviated speeches in lowered voices, stifled clapping, and lots of
shushing. Someone says, “This is real activism. Not theory.”

9:00 AM – Discussion groups are held on “Regional LGBT Advocacy,”
“Homophobia, Transphobia and Domestic Violence,” and “Reaching Out to
Queer Asia.”

Before we end, a member of the ILGA Asia Board tells us that the
afternoon meetings are cancelled to avoid trouble with the hotel and
police.

12:30 PM – Lunch. Half way through chicken and rice, a member of the
evacuation team comes around.

“Every one must go to their room now. The fundamentalists are coming.”
The urgency in her voice is not matched by our response. Curiosity
keeps me from going to my room on the third floor. I hang back to watch
what happens from over the first floor balcony.

A black SUV with darkened windows pulls up in front of the hotel tailed
by a police car. Three uniformed officers get out of the police car. I
later learn they are police intelligence. Two more SUVs quickly follow,
out of which tumble young men dressed in pants, t-shirts, and jackets;
some with beards, others with clean-shaven faces; most seemingly
working class or maybe poor. The leaders are older and well dressed,
some in clerics robes.

To my amazement, the fundamentalists walk directly into the hotel lobby.

Motorcycles and more vans arrive. About twenty more young men approach
the hotel entrance, but the police stop them from entering. They form a
mob just beyond the glass panels of the hotel lobby.

Some of the Indonesian conference organizers are negotiating with the
fundamentalists. From the balcony above, I can see a fundamentalist
leader talking and gesturing non-stop. I recognize a member of the
negotiating team and feel an overwhelming need to stand with my
Indonesian colleagues, but I hold myself back. I don’t look Indonesian,
and so my presence would be a liability — newspaper reports have made
clear that the mob believes the conference is driven by foreign
influence. Suddenly there is a shout, followed by more shouts; there is
some kind of altercation: one fundamentalist physically strikes one of
our organizers, who is negotiating.

The evacuation team orders those of us standing on the balcony to go to
our rooms immediately. The eyes of some of the mob members below are
hard, narrowed with the look of hate. I know it’s a tactic to instill
fear, and it works. I’ve seen the face of rabid condemnation and rage
at anti-choice and Pride marches, but I’ve never been so close. Still,
the thought of being locked in my room, unable to witness anything is
suffocating. One of the participants has a room facing the front of the
hotel, and it becomes an observation point for some of us for the next
several hours.

4:20 PM – More fundamentalists are showing up, many with cell phones.
Some of them stare up at the windows and draw fingers across their
throats signaling death. Seven to ten police vehicles are parked in
front of the hotel, one of which is a large olive green truck. Most of
the police that I can see mingle among themselves, relaxed, as if
waiting for a dignitary to emerge from a concert. I also see some
police casually chatting with the protesters.

4:30 PM – About twenty mobile patrol police officers arrive on
motorcycles. They immediately don vests and riot gear.

5:30 PM – Someone from the ILGA Asia Board says, “Go to your room and
pack your bags.” The South Surabaya Chief of Police has still not
agreed to give us police protection and is demanding that we leave the
hotel and go to the airport immediately. Most of the participants
cannot change their flights on such short notice. Most have nowhere
else to stay. We pack, hoping the outcome will change through
negotiations.

6:30 PM – The ILGA Asia Board informs us that the South Surabaya Chief
of Police has guaranteed protection for one night. He has also agreed
to permit international participants to stay until March 29, which is
when most of us are scheduled to fly home. However, fundamentalists are
permitted to continue to occupy the hotel lobby. Police officers
stationed in the hotel will monitor them, whatever that means. The
Chief of Police gives us his mobile phone number as a precaution.

I later discover that our side’s negotiations with the Chief of Police
were at least in part lead by Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, who is a
member of the Indonesian Parliament representing East Java, where
Surabaya is, and a prominent human rights lawyer, and by Monica
Tanuhandaru who works on police reform and assists the central
government with the development of a national plan of action on human
rights. These women have leverage with police, so their engagement is
invaluable. They also our allies, having worked on LGBT rights before.
They intervened in Aceh when two gay men were assaulted and later
physically and sexually re-victimized by several police officers while
they were in police custody.

7:30 PM – The hotel sends up boxes of food so we can eat dinner in our
rooms. The restaurant and lobby are crowded with fundamentalists, who
have also been served dinner by the hotel – probably a necessary
strategy to appease the mob.

8:00 PM – We are warned, “Fundamentalists are going floor to floor to
do a sweep. Make sure your doors are locked and all lights turned off.”
The fundamentalists apparently want to check that we are not holding
meetings. I sit in my room, door locked, lights out. After what seems
like forever, the room phone rips the silence. Police have intercepted
the fundamentalists. The sweep is over.

9:00 PM – As participants and conference organizers strategize about
safety and evacuation, one participant receives intelligence from her
networks that an armed group of fundamentalists called the Defenders of
Islam plans to come to the hotel tomorrow morning with weapons.

We panic. Do we leave? Do we stay? Leaving does not guarantee our
safety since the minimal protection offered by police only covers this
hotel. And, leaving requires going into the lobby and past the mob.
Leaving means even greater uncertainty.

We are advised to leave in two and threes to avoid giving the
impression that we are transferring to another hotel. Some participants
are afraid their taxis will be followed. The Indonesian organizers try
to reassure us. One says, “The fundamentalists are not interested in
individuals. They are campaigning against the fact that we congregated
together to organize for our rights. The leader of the group that
showed up today said as much — ‘As long as you are mere individuals
committing this sin, we don’t really care. But as soon as you organize
we will fight you.’ They want to prevent us from using anything from
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to claim our rights. They see
our organizing as a provocation.”

10:00 PM – The participants are making different evacuation plans. Some
contact embassies and consulates for sanctuary. Some check out of this
hotel and into others. Some leave for the airport. Some choose to stay
because they feel safer in the hotel than in the unknown.

I learn that press reports indicate that fundamentalists went from
hotel to hotel to see where we had gone after the first hotel reneged.
This sweep helped them locate us at our current location. As bad as it
is here, going to another hotel is a real risk.

I decide to check-out and leave for another hotel with another
participant. I try to be nonchalant as the fundamentalists watch me
walk through the lobby. They will consider each of our departures a
victory.

At midnight, the fundamentalists threaten to bring a larger mob if the
hotel doesn’t kick people out. Organizers are intimidated into turning
over a list of conference participants. All the Surabaya residents and
organizers are forced to evacuate the hotel by 4 AM.

While this is all going on, fundamentalists sealed off the office of
Gaya Nusantara, the Surabaya LGBT organization that handled the local
organizing for the conference. No staff was in the office at the time,
thankfully. I can’t believe this is happening. Why do these radicals
have so much power in a country of moderate Muslims? Why are police not
enforcing rule of law?

3/27/10 – Saturday

In the morning, I watch on Indonesian TV – either Channel 1 or 3 – a
demonstration by the Unity Front of the Islam Community (FPU) not far
from the Oval Hotel. Among the demonstrators are members of the
Indonesian Muslim Students Action Front (KAMMI) carrying posters that
pronounce, “Say No to Homosexual Conference in Surabaya,” “Say No to
Lesbians” and “Surabaya is Not a Gay City.”

I return to the Oval Hotel with Ibu Hesti Armiwulan, a national human
rights commissioner and an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights. I see
that a handful of fundamentalists remain inside the lobby restaurant.
Things are quiet. Nine participants including three ILGA Asia board
members are still at the hotel until they can leave on Monday morning.

3/28/10 – Sunday

Fundamentalists conducted a room-to-room sweep of the Oval Hotel. The
remaining nine participants are told that another mob plans to enter
the hotel on Monday morning if everyone from the conference has not
left. All non-Surabaya participants will leave this city on Monday.

3/29/10 – Monday

Bribery

I find out that at one point the Surabaya police offered to issue a new
permit in exchange for 5 million rupiah (552 U.S. dollars). They
subsequently asked ILGA for 25 million rupiah (2,758 U.S. dollars),
presumably for “protection” money. The mob also wanted 1 million rupiah
(100 U.S. dollars) from ILGA – presumably as a pay off not to inflict
harm. It is likely the hotel paid the mob at least something.

National Human Rights Commission

Ibu Hesti Armiwulan, the Indonesian Human Rights Commissioner, says the
Indonesian Human Rights Commission has begun gathering information
about the events around the conference, will continue their
investigations, and will release a report on their findings. The chair
of the Commission, Ifdal Kassim, was a consistent and outspoken critic
of efforts to cancel the conference. He said we had broken no laws. The
Commission has strongly advocated respect for LGBT people and
implementation of the Yogyakarta Principles not only in Indonesia but
also throughout the region.

International Solidarity

Indonesian activists have recommended various courses of action. This
includes requesting that the international community write letters
protesting the failure of the Surabaya police to carry out their duty
and arguing that Indonesian activists should not be charged with
wrongdoing.

Personal Reflections

It is incredible to me that the police allowed the fundamentalists to
enter the hotel at all. Even if a permit for the conference was denied,
the police have an obligation to enforce the rule of law—prevent
harassment and threats to safety, arrest protesters if necessary for
inciting or planning violence, evacuate the mob for trespassing on
private property, demand a permit from the fundamentalists if they
insist on holding a demonstration, and cordon them off so they can
exercise their freedom of expression without preventing ours. Most
importantly, the police must protect vulnerable people from violence.

I have spoken with many Indonesian activists, and they have different
theories for the police behavior. I heard that: the police do nothing
because they have links to the fundamentalists, they extort money in
exchange for “protection,” both sides benefit from the security racket,
they let confrontational situations get out of hand and then arrest
everyone in sight. I have also heard that the police can control mobs
effectively, but as one person theorized that it can be different with
religious groups. The person said to me, “It’s different with Muslim
groups because they use the name of Islam, which makes it difficult for
police to question the legality of the group. To question their
legality is to question Islam.” I also heard that fundamentalists
accuse Muslim police officers with damnation for being “bad” Muslims if
they defend the rights of LGBT people.

We have to hold the Indonesian government and the provincial government
accountable for caving in to the bullying of a handful of
fundamentalist thugs to carry out the ideologies of hard-line
ultra-conservative Islamists. This tactic is used in many countries
where fundamentalisms thrive, including the United States.

There must be a national and international outcry over what happened in
Surabaya. The State and religious moderates in particular must loudly
condemn the misuse of Sharia law to justify lawlessness and human
rights violations. Raiding hotels, imposing dress codes on women,
legalizing death by stoning law for adultery, and/or deploying
violence, intimidation and extortion to suppress freedom of expression
and association are all contrary to the human rights to which we are
all entitled.

This is a wake up call. The fundamentalists posed a much greater threat
than was expected–even in a city like Surabaya, often known for being
moderate and tolerant. For the Indonesian LGBT movement, questions of
organizing capacity and security at grassroots and community-based
levels will most likely be addressed with greater attention. Future
LGBT activities like the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO)
and Pride in Surabaya will likely demand alternative and inventive
strategies. The emotional and psychological impact of the last few days
will be felt for a long time.

Questions remain about the safety of Indonesian activists who conducted
most of the face-to-face negotiations with the fundamentalists,
including activists from Jakarta. Staff at Gaya Nusantara in Surabaya
are still at risk of being attacked, stalked, disrupted. Their office
remains sealed and locked up by fundamentalists. The fact that police
allowed vigilantes to shut down an NGO that is legally recognized by
the State is a clear indication, in my opinion, that non-state actors
have gained power over the State. As one activist points out, “It is a
turning point for Indonesia.”

Meanwhile, those of us who were there will not forget the heartening
rallying of Indonesian human rights activists and non-LGBT allies to
support LGBT conference attendees. Their solidarity speaks volumes
about the need for inter-movement alliances and the need to ensure that
our struggles for human rights are interconnected all of the time, not
only in a crisis.

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