Japan’s rivalry with China reinforces Tokyo’s inclination to avert its eyes from human rights abuses, electoral fraud, corruption and suppression of fundamental freedoms. Tokyo is not opposed to liberal democracy but also not prepared to risk anything to support it.
The struggle for racial, political and economic justice in Southeast Asia is a fight for a genuinely postcolonial condition, and its establishment is implied in each protest against authoritarian ambitions. If colonialism made the modern world, then decolonisation will not be complete until the world – including Southeast Asia – is reimagined.
People from the whole country who are taking part in peaceful demonstrations are facing violations of their basic human rights. This includes arbitrary arrests and charges, threats, the use of indiscriminate violence such as intentionally shooting into the crowd, beatings, the use of weapons, rubber bullets and water cannons, and restrictions on their freedom of expression.
Same-sex practices in Aceh traditionally were not seen in contradiction with local customs (adat) and religion. It is ironic that in Aceh today, homophobic political and religious officials voice opinions that would be more intelligible to the condescending Dutch colonizers than to Aceh’s elite circles a century ago.