There are prominent Papuans in Indonesia


Doris K. Gamino

To person

M.A., born 1958; Publicist and journalist; lives in Jakarta / Indonesia.

Indonesia is a country of great contrasts: over 300 ethnic groups are distributed over 17,000 islands. The democratic developments are offset by problems such as poverty, corruption and growing religious tensions.


Jakarta after work on any day: The lights of the seemingly endless sheet metal avalanche slide over the Thamrin and Sudirman boulevards in the Central Business District, lined with frangipani trees, past pillar-lined confectionery buildings and multi-storey glass facades of banks, insurance companies and administrative buildings of large companies . The current pushes itself, bumper to bumper, not a few of luxury cars of German origin, at a snail's pace around Plaza Indonesia, past what was once the country's first star hotel, the legendary Hotel Indonesia, now Kempinsky, framed by brightly lit shopping temples. The energy that the air conditioning systems around the square use every day could probably supply a small town for a month.

Anyone approaching the Indonesian capital in this way might be tempted to mistake it for an ordinary, modern metropolis. However, the visitor gets the first doubts when trying to break out of the stream. There are no parking lots or sidewalks; Hardly guarded property entrances that are secured with barriers make stopping impossible. Since the bomb attacks in 2003 and 2009, public buildings, banks and hotels can no longer be entered without controls. So you drive from the hotel to the mall, to the bank, to the office. Island hopping in the city, synonymous with the rest of the country, which is spread over more than 17,000 islands. And anyone who dares to get out of the air-conditioned car without taking refuge in an air-conditioned building quickly realizes that beyond the pomp there is no man's land. The misery is seamlessly around the corner. The holes in former or unfinished sidewalks, which open over tar-black, smelly sewers, are so large that a moped could disappear into them. Small people quarters quickly turn into poor quarters, characterized by houses that have fallen apart and can only be held together by goodwill, hope and a lot of clotheslines. Baby rentals are booming during Ramadan: poor families lease their babies for a few rupiah to beggar women who, with the babies in their arms, beg in droves at intersections and in traffic jams with the babies in their arms.

Capital city dwellers, especially the young Blackberry and Mac owners, like to refer to their city as buzzling, as an Asian answer to New York or Paris. It is preferred to ignore the fact that there is more to this than a temple of consumption and clouds of exhaust gas. For many, the traffic jam is an expression of prosperity: where there is nothing, nothing can be jammed. One does not like to talk about the fatal city planning and the foreseeable shortage of street space and a public transport system 20 years ago. Not even on the catastrophic garbage and sewage system or the floods that recur every year during the rainy season, in which every time thousands lose their homes and not a few lose their lives. Like monuments of failure, the rotten pillars of an elevated railway over many kilometers of the road, full-bodied announced ten years ago, which should finally bring the rescue from the collapse of traffic. The project was discontinued without a sound. Bureaucratic hurdles, disputes in the award of contracts and the "disappearance" of public funds are likely to have been the reasons, as is the case with the failure of most public projects. Social injustice, poverty and corruption are not limited to the capital, on the contrary. But the threads come together in Jakarta, this is where decisions are made, this is where the money flows, and this is where it seeps away. Here the country's problems can be viewed as though through a magnifying glass; Only very few are resolved.