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Nearly 50 Killed in Explosions, Massive Blaze at Indonesia Fireworks Factory

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Police officers and first responders carry a body at the site of an explosion at a firework factory
Police officers and first responders carry a body at the site of an explosion at a fireworks factory in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia. VOA

Jakarta, October 26: At least 47 people have been killed in several explosions and a fire at a fireworks factory in Indonesia.

Witnesses say a huge explosion was heard at the factory near Jakarta about mid-morning Thursday, followed by smaller explosions and an inferno that engulfed the factory, causing its roof to collapse.

Firefighters took hours to bring the blaze under control.

Harry Kurniawan, city of Tangerang police chief, said bodies were found in the rubble. Another 46 people, who were injured, are being treated at local hospitals.

Industrial safety standards in Indonesia are often low and rules poorly enforced. Authorities say the factory had been in operation for about two months.(VOA)

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Indonesia’s War on Drugs Follows Philippines’ Infamous Crusade to Curb Drug Use

Indonesia's Drug War by President Joko Widodo follows Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte way

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An Indonesian policeman checks crystal methamphetamine from China after a raid at Anyer beach in Serang, Banten province, Indonesia
An Indonesian policeman checks crystal methamphetamine from China after a raid at Anyer beach in Serang, Banten province, Indonesia. VOA
  • Idham Azis said he would not think twice to discharge police officers who were indecisive against drug trafficking
  • Human Rights Watch official Phelim Kline criticized the move

Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is once again using the language of “emergency” to ramp up the country’s war on drugs, in a move that seems in step with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s infamous crusade in a neighboring island country.

Widodo recently ordered police to shoot foreign drug dealers who “resist arrest,” claiming the country was in a “narcotics emergency position.” Then, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights announced a plan to consolidate drug felons in four prisons. On Tuesday, Jakarta police chief Gen. Idham Azis said he would “not think twice” to discharge police officers who were indecisive against drug trafficking.

Widodo’s speech last week came on the heels of a drug-related police shooting in Jakarta, targeting a Taiwanese man who resisted arrest while trying to smuggle one ton of crystal methamphetamine into Indonesia.

Human Rights Watch official Phelim Kline criticized the move, writing in a statement that, “President Joko Widodo should send a clear and public message to the police that efforts to address the complex problems of drugs and criminality require the security forces to respect everyone’s basic rights, not demolish them.”

Meth panic

The target of President Duterte’s drug war is the cheap crystal methamphetamine known locally as shabu, and it is also the subject of Indonesian hand-wringing. The ton seized last month was the largest drug seizure in the nation’s history.

ALSO READ: What is the relation between Religion and Drug use?

The head of Indonesia’s narcotics agency, Gen. Budi Waseso, has been calling for a Philippines-style war on drugs as early as September 2016.

“The market that existed in the Philippines is moving to Indonesia, the impact of President Duterte’s actions is an exodus to Indonesia, including the substance,” Budi told Australia’s ABC News.

Indonesia enforces capital punishment for drug trafficking, which makes it an offense on par with murder and terrorism. It is estimated that about 70 percent of Indonesia’s prison population are low-level drug offenders.

“For me, there is a question mark over President Jokowi’s narcotics policy,” said Erasmus Napitupulu of Jakarta’s Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. “He always talks about the death penalty as a way to protect the nation’s children.” But in fact, he said, “the death penalty targets small drug couriers, which in many cases leads to unfair trials. Indonesian law has not been able to bear the burden of a fair trial,” he said.

Calls for leniency

“Of course we are concerned with the president’s rhetoric … to justify the war on drugs,” said Edo Nasution, national coordinator of the nonprofit Solidarity for Indonesian Drug Victims.

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“Evidence-based drug policy is what we need, not a policy that is only based on moral values or ideology,” said Edo, a one-time drug user who spent 13 years in Indonesian jails. “For example, there has been harm reduction programs in Indonesia for a long time and there is much scientific evidence as to the success of this approach.”

Harm-reduction refers to the practice of managing the risks of drug use, such as providing sterile needles, rather than trying to eradicate drug use.

Southeast Asia has long resisted trends toward leniency for drug users or traffickers, with countries like Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines resolutely maintaining harsh penalties that they say deters a major societal problem. As of last year, Thailand seemed like it might rethink the criminalization of methamphetamine because of overcrowded prisons, but there are no such signs in Indonesia.

Widodo’s last big anti-drug push was in 2015, two months after he was sworn into office when he executed 14 people for drug offenses.

“Far from having a deterrent effect, the number of drug-related crimes in Indonesia increased in the months after the executions were carried out in January and April 2015,” according to Claudia Stoicescu, an Oxford University researcher.

The increased resources devoted to drug-related arrests have drawn money away from rehabilitation centers that some say would better serve Indonesia’s nearly 1 million (according to the National Narcotics Agency) drug addicts. In the absence of such treatment, many poor addicts are turning to dubious herbal and faith-based cures that do nothing at best.

Erasmus wishes Indonesia would learn from the experience of the United States, which has gradually softened its approach to marijuana.

“American narcotics policy that criminally prosecuted drug users failed even without the death penalty. The result? The U.S. gradually changed the direction of policy toward decriminalization [of marijuana],” he said. “If Indonesia retains capital punishment as the main solution for drug issues, then I believe it is a political decision to preserve [politicians’] image, not to protect actual narcotics victims.” (VOA)

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U-15 shuttlers Gayatri Gopichand, Samiya Farouqi emerge victorious in Jakarta

Gayatri eked out a hard-fought 21-11 18-21 21-16 win over her doubles partner Samiya Farooqui to win the girls U-15 singles title while finishing with bronze was Kavipriya Selvam.

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Gayatri Gopichand, TOI

New Delhi, April 17, 2017: Call it a super Sunday for Indian badminton, if you like. Not long before the first all-Indian final of the Singapore Open Super Series between Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth, approximately 900 kilometers southwards in Jakarta, three young Indian shuttlers did the country proud by claiming podium finishes at the 2017 International Junior Grand Prix, as reported by TOI.

Former star Indian badminton player Pulela Gopichand has been training ace Indian badminton players like P.V Sindhu and has once again hit the news headlines for his daughter as well as his student Gayatri Pulela.

National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand’s daughter Gayatri Pullela has bagged both the singles and doubles crown at the Pembangunan Jaya Raya Junior Grand Prix in Jakarta.

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Gayatri eked out a hard-fought 21-11 18-21 21-16 win over her doubles partner Samiya Farooqui to win the girls U-15 singles title while finishing with bronze was Kavipriya Selvam.

Gayatri later teamed up with Samiya to clinch the U-15 doubles title with a straight game 21-17 21-15 win over Indonesian pair of Kelly Larissa and Shelandry Vyola.
The doubles bronze was won by Kavipriya and Meghana Reddy.

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All four girls are products of the SAI Pullela Gopichand National Badminton Academy in Hyderabad, which for the first time was able to send a group of U-15 level badminton players overseas to compete in the age-group International Junior Grand Prix.

On Saturday, Gayatri had soundly defeated Indonesia’s Puspitanaya Effendi Nadelita 21-12, 21-11 to reach the final of the women’s U-15 singles event, while Samiya beat compatriot Kavipriya Selvam 15-21, 21-13, 21-16 to meet her in the summit clash. Gayatri and Samiya made the doubles final after beating Dea Riska Putri Hapsari and Anyza Velda Syafira 21-16, 21-12.

In the women’s U-15 doubles semi-finals, Meghana Reddy Mareddy and Kavipriya lost to Larissa and Vyola 21-16, 21-18 on Saturday. Vikas Yadav lost to Mawardi Putra Damas 21-17, 18-21, 21-17 in the men’s U-15 semi-finals.

-prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram Twitter @NikitaTayal6

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Hundreds of Women took to the streets of Jakarta to rally for Equal Rights ahead of International Women’s Day

Participants gathered in central Jakarta before marching towards the State Palace

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A Woman (representational image),, Pixabay

Jakarta, Mar 4, 2017: Hundreds of women took to the streets of this Indonesian capital on Saturday to rally for equal rights ahead of International Women’s Day.

Participants gathered in central Jakarta before marching towards the State Palace, Efe news reported.

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Many were dressed in the pink and purple theme colours of this year’s event, and carried protest signs endorsing equal gender rights with slogans such as, “Fight like a girl” and “Harassment is never a compliment”.

Organisers said they hoped the event would help to “remove the shackles of orthodoxy” placed on women in Indonesia.

Among their eight key demands, activists called for an end to violence against women, increased female representation in politics and for discrimination against the LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender — community to stop.

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While their demands were serious, there was an upbeat atmosphere at the rally, which culminated in poetry recitals, music and dance performances near the State Palace.

The event, initiated by 33 different women’s rights organisations, was held to commemorate International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8. (IANS)