Wednesday, May 22, 2013

View from Jakarta: No World Statesman Award for Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Sign the petition here:

Multi-faith demonstrators marching on the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta.
View from Jakarta
Rev. Elice Higginbotham, 
Member, Executive Committee, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network

JAKARTA, May 22, 2013 --  The announcement, just a couple months ago, that Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY)  would receive a not terribly prestigious award from a not particularly well-known U.S  foundation has generated unprecedented flap in this city.  

The “World Statesman Award,” and the New York-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation that proposes to make the presentation on May 30 at a (what else?) gala fundraising dinner, evoke scarcely a sign of recognition among the general public almost anywhere – quite unlike, for example, SBY’s recent achievement of knighthood at the hand of the Queen of England, an honor with considerable international cultural resonance. The recognition by the Queen generated, in conversation among Indonesians, either enthusiastic approval or uproarious derision, but little else.

On the other hand, “Appeal of Conscience” and “World Statesman” have touched a nerve. 

Easter Sunday in front of the Presidential Palace. Worshipers decorate
 a giant Easter Egg with messages for SBY, hoping for a "resurrection" 
of their right to Freedom of Religion!  (SBY refused the present.)

No day has gone by in recent weeks without a public statement or news release, a newspaper, TV, blog or other internet reference, and public demonstrations have included faces and voices, particularly religious ones, that seldom appear in public, still more rarely together.   Human rights activists, NGOs, Christians and Muslims are united in their effort to make the Appeal of  Conscience Foundation aware that it has made a grave mistake.

ETAN has joined the protest. 
I recently attended  a service by the under-threat GKI Yasmin church.  One of the church leaders spoke about their ongoing effort to bring before the Appeal of Conscience the folly of its decision to promote SBY as a "statesman" of world renown, which gave me the opportunity to talk about ETAN's petition and other organizing endeavors, which received claps and cheers. 

ETAN is circulating a petition opposing the award and plan a demonstration - should the award go ahead - for May 30 in New York City at the hotel where the gala will take place.

The GKI Yasmin congregation following worship on Pentecost Sunday. 
Front row are the multilingual 'prayers' including yours truly.


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