Friday, August 30, 2013

Combating Disappearances in Asia; From Impunity to Accountability!

In January 1981 in San Jose, Costa Rica, the victims and families of victims of enforced disappearances from Latin American countries held the First and Founding Congress of FEDEFAM and created a slogan that later for decades became their encouragement; No Hay Dolor Inutil. They know very well and put this confidence in their struggle for justice; There Is No Useless Pain! The pain they have been feeling and experiencing during years of military dictatorship.

It was also during this occasion that they adopted 30 August as the International Day for the Disappeared (IDD). They wanted to dedicate a day in one year for their disappeared loved ones. On IDD, they raise their voice loud for the government to listen: Where are their loved ones?

Three decades later in Asia, after the United Nations officially adopted the IDD as an internationally acknowledged day for the disappeared in 2011, the same call heard again. This time very very much louder.

It is still a big challenge to make disappearances as a history of the past in Asia. The continent still contributes the biggest portion of cases to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances as compared to other regions. Only four countries ratified the International Convention against Enforced Disappearances; Japan, Kazakhstan, Iraq and Cambodia. Other countries in the region that are still practicing the crimes are not committed to to prevent, let alone combat this heinous crime. They still very much enjoy the dark era of impunity despite the fact that Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations frequently says that we have been moving from the Era of Impunity to Era of Accountability.

Ah, C'mon Mr. Presidents and Prime Ministers!

Monday, August 19, 2013

SUSPENDED COFFEE; The Beauty of Sharing Coffee with Those Can't Afford It

I opened internet this morning and read an amazing brief story which goes as follow:

"We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we're approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter -
'Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended'
They pay for their order, take the two and leave. I ask my friend:
'What are those 'suspended' coffees ?'
'Wait for it and you will see'

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers - three for them and four 'suspended'. While I still wonder what's the deal with those 'suspended' coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks
'Do you have a suspended coffee ?'

It's simple - people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal."


The story struck my conscience; Why no one do this in Indonesia (as far as I know)? I believe we all feel that sharing suspended coffee is beautiful especially in society where the gap between the rich and poor are so huge and that the rich don't care about the poor. We still remember very well how few days ago a public officer (Chair of SKK Migas) stole 700,000 and plus US$ from the state/public institution's fund and hide them in their homes and offices. Thanks to KPK it finally caught them and arrested them!

People in many cities in the world have done so, sharing Suspended Coffees to the less fortunate. So why don't we initiate this in our city, Jakarta, Bogor, or somewhere else. We can initiate and start talking with the coffee shop's or warung kopi's owners who are our friends. Suspended Coffee require the cooperation between the buyers and coffee shop managers or owners. This way, we will have beautiful community and society.

We will not get poor by buying one cup of Suspended Coffee for other. The coffee shop owners will have more customers, and those who are less fortunate will also be able to enjoy good coffee with dignity.

So let's do it. It is simple!