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This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Arrests of women’s rights activists put Saudi Arabia on the wrong side of history

From Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, Muslim women’s movements for equality are increasingly interconnected – and unstoppable.

In Indonesia, the peasant struggle of Kendeng

"We are ‘orang desa’ (country people), far from big cities. Maybe it’s hard for you to imagine that we work close to the earth, outside and sweating from morning until night."

A fatwa against sexual violence: the story of a historic congress of female Islamic scholars

Can women interpret Islamic law? Scholars who think so recently gathered in Indonesia, where fatwas were also issued against child marriage and environmental degradation.

Rescuing democracy from the harms of hate speech

The tale of two places of worship, in the United States and Indonesia, suggests that fighting actual discrimination is more important than silencing hate speech.

Peat fires travel underground - the Indonesian disaster

Walking around the town in the worst of the smoke, I estimated a good 50 percent were not covering their faces at all, including many travelling at speed on motorbikes.

Indonesia regresses with the use of the death penalty

The prospect of execution of two Australians in Indonesia has caught international media attention, amid Australian protest. But these are part of a wider official spasm, in a country dominated by a ‘tough on crime’ narrative.

Asia at the crossroads

Aside from China, nearly all the states in Asia make use of the trappings of democracy, such as elections, parliaments, and the separation of powers. A new report examines the future of democracy in Asia in the next 15 years.

Popular action against corruption

Some of the biggest corrupt operations are run by governments themselves, and watchdog bodies often lack sufficient power to challenge entrenched problems. There’s another powerful approach: popular action, as documented in Shaazka Beyerle’s new book Curtailing Corruption. Review.

‘Change’ in Indonesia: critical reflections on the Indonesian elections

Indonesia is under a spell of change. But does the election of Joko Widodo really represent a clean break for the dirty politics of the past?

The state of silence: Indonesia’s religious discrimination

Indonesia’s religious minorities have no recourse when the state becomes a passive audience to violent attacks carried out by militant groups. This failure is leading justice into a state of silence.

Indonesia: facing life with HIV

Strategies, no matter how well intentioned, are not enough without the knowledge, insights and experiences of people with HIV to translate them into effective and rights-based practice. Sindi Putri shares her own experience in Indonesia.

Dompak eco-city: a tale of corruption

The creation of new master-planned cities is an emerging transnational trend stretching across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Indonesia’s dream of a clean, modern eco-city in Dompak, however has been mired by the corruption of local and national elites.

Elections in Indonesia: long-term lessons for democratisation after regime change

Recent Indonesian electoral politics offer significant lessons for other Muslim nations which are grappling with the often contentious transition towards a "post-Islamic" democratic form of governance.

Military ambition in Indonesia's presidential politics

Indonesian society must decide whether democratic reforms will continue to strengthen civilian governance in the face of persistant interference from the nation's military in the upcoming presidential election. 

Papua’s response to the gift of Special Autonomy plus

Many Papuans are concerned about what the impact will be of the current president’s so-called “gift” to the province, ‘special autonomy plus’ or 'Otsus plus'.

Las nuevas potencias no jugarán con las viejas reglas

Esperar que las nuevas potencias globales promuevan los derechos humanos fuera de sus países a través de las Naciones Unidas supone que jugarán con las reglas viejas y, para que esa presión sea efectiva, que los factores de derechos humanos condicionarán sus relaciones bilaterales; ninguno de esos supuestos es probable.

Missed opportunities to rid the Middle East of WMD

Concerned by misrepresentation of Egypt’s withdrawal from the recent NPT meeting in Geneva, a retired Egyptian Ambassador puts the record straight and suggests ways to put the Conference on WMD in the Middle East back on track.

New powers won’t play by old rules

Expecting new global powers to promote human rights abroad via the United Nations assumes that they will play by the old rules and - if such pressure is to be effective - that human rights factors will condition their bilateral relationships; neither is likely. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on Emerging Powers and Human RightsEspañol.

Urban security and the 'tricks' of endurance

Urban security is often thought of as strategies to protect and disarm city populations, however security may also be understood as endurance. As the multiple ways in which urban residents use their everyday experiences to survive in the city.

Moving the MDG debate on

A failure to reconcile a concern for human development with genuine economic development will make the High Level Panel’s already difficult task much harder.

Global mechanism, regional solution: ending forced sterilisation

For the first time in south-east Asia, an HIV-positive women's group in Indonesia is using the CEDAW Shadow Report to challenge the forced sterilisation and violence against positive women

Dealing in death: the battle against the UK arms trade

The UK is a centre of the international arms trade. Despite moral and legal outcry, Cameron’s recent visit to Indonesia demonstrates the continuing political commitment to the industry. Barnaby Pace explores the case for and means of resisting the Government’s close ties with the international companies who profit from war. 

Democracy for all? Minority rights and democratisation

The challenge of accommodating and promoting the rights of ethnic, religious and other minorities tends to emerge whenever a formerly authoritarian country begins to move towards democracy. It is faced today as the middle east and north Africa embarks on its own democratic transition. The region could be aided in the endeavour by learning lessons from earlier experience in countries such as Indonesia, says Mark Salter.

December 1, 1961: Fly the flag of independence - West Papua and the Indonesian Empire

Life in the furthest recesses of New Guinea has not only been transformed but devastated by forces that originate at the core of global and industrial politics. The realities – and morality – of our world are to be seen starkly at work in one of the most spectacular, rich and yet remote corners of the world.

Nairobi hit by grenade attacks as Somalis turn against Kenyan incursion

Nairobi hit by grenade attacks as Somalis turn against Kenyan incursion. At least 279 killed in Turkey quake. Bloody weekend in Colombia just 10 days before elections. Indonesian police officer shot dead in Papua. All this in today’s briefing...

Indonesian church bombing sparks fears of escalation in religious violence

Indonesian church bombing sparks fears of increasing religious violence. Guangdong riots over ‘landgrabs’. US drone crashes in Kismayo, Somalia. Fresh clashes hit southern Philippines . Shooting at ‘CIA station’ in Kabul. All this and more in today’s security briefing...

Monsoon flooding causes chaos in Pakistan, India

Monsoon flooding causes chaos in Pakistan, India. Seven killed as police open fire on protestors in Tamil Nadu. Blast at French nuclear plant sparks fears of leak. At least 75 killed in Nairobi pipeline explosion. Troops sent to quell Indonesia clashes. All necessary measures authorised to stop Jos violence. All this and more in today’s security briefing...

Indonesia: pluralism vs vigilantism

A pattern of violence against the Ahmadiyah religious community, in which the perpetrators enjoy near-impunity and official indulgence, is disfiguring Indonesia. It also presents a wider challenge to the country’s vital search for a model of religious tolerance in public life, says Charles Reading.

Strike pressures PT Freeport Indonesia into serious negotiations

Indigenous Papuans are waging a four-decade long nonviolent struggle for independence from Indonesia. At the heart of Papuan grievances lies Freeport, the world’s largest gold and copper mine, owned and operated by US based company Freeport McMoRan and their Indonesian subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia.

Syrian government marks start of Ramadan with bloody crackdown

Syrian government marks start of Ramadan with bloody crackdown. Eritrean government backed planned to bomb AU summit, according to UN report. Fresh violence in Papua leaves 21 dead. Chinese government announces crackdown on Uighur “terrorists” after a weekend of violence. Arrested kingpin admits to ordering 1500 murders. Geelani slams Indian government intransigence in Kashmir as Indo-Pak peace talks resume. All this and more in today's briefing...

West Papua: Indonesian army general tightens the screws on the Kingmi Papua Church

A leaked letter discloses the Indonesian government’s attempts to repress movements for cultural pride and autonomy in the country's restive Pacific periphery.

Glaring emissions: the threat to Indonesia's rainforest

Thanks to the Orwellian double-speak of Indonesian emissions abatement strategy, the proposed solution may in fact be the disaster itself.

The Indonesian Government: closing window for peace in West Papua

Just as Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono was being feted globally for being a democrat, the Indonesian government was entrenching Papua’s reputation as Indonesia’s last bastion of authoritarian military rule. Now Peace Brigades International has finally been forced out.

Indonesia’s far east: security and politics

A tide of protest in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua is a challenge to Jakarta, says Charles Reading: find a new security paradigm, or face increasing radicalism in the country’s poorest region.

Papuan struggle enters new phase

The Papuan movement is acting with a new strategic maturity in its quest for autonomy, argues Jason MacLeod.
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