Since the first case of COVID19 appeared on March 3rd, Indonesia has been very slow in responding to the situation. Even the coalition of civil society urged the President to dismiss Terawan, the Minister of Health, as he repetitively denied the scientific evidence of the exponential spread of the virus. In the following two weeks, the government said that they don’t want to make people panic. However, the government spokesperson for COVID-19 made a public statement that tended to segregate how to respond – “The rich should protect the poor so that the poor can have adequate life, and the poor should protect the rich so that the poor don’t spread the disease”.
Although Indonesia has Law No. 24 Year 2007 on Disaster Management, the national government decided to take the policy on the large-scale of social distancing to avoid the consequence of lockdown or district quarantine related to the logistic support that the government should comply. The critique from civil society came because this policy was issued along with the statement of the “civil emergency”. This term vividly shows the militaristic approach that the government took, rather than an approach prioritizing health, in relation to handling the pandemic. Moreover, the government’s target to conduct 10,000 COVID-19 swab test per day is impossible due to the limitation of reagen (chemical liquid) to detect the virus and trained laboratory staff to examine the result. Dr Teguh Haryo Sasongko, Associate Professor of Perdana University RSCI School of Medicine, predicts that Indonesia can only conduct 3,000 swab test per day. It means that the number of the current COVID-19 cases don’t show the real situation. With the modelling simulation, on 28 April 2020, there has already 32,000 undetected positive cases in Jakarta, the district with the highest number of positive cases. This number is so far from the reported cases, which was 4,002 cases.
The critique from civil society came because this policy was issued along with the statement of the “civil emergency”. This term vividly shows the militaristic approach that the government took, rather than an approach prioritizing health, in relation to handling the pandemic.
The physical distancing measure which encourages people to stay at home has led to increasing violence in the domestic sphere. Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women’s Association (LBH APIK) figured out that from 16-30 March, there were 59 cases or a threefold increase of violence, rape, sexual assault and online pornography than usual. Similar situation also affects lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women and transmen. From 17-30 April, I and Green, one founder of a collective namely SoreSobat, developed and shared a survey through our personal network to check-in the condition of our communities during the pandemic. We call this small movement as SalingSapaSalingJaga (Let’s Greet and Take Care Each Other). We received 42 responses. 88% expressed that the pandemic has impacted their mental health. The three most mentioned impacts were feeling anxious because of feeling lonely and confusion with changes in the daily life pattern, stress due to inability to work and losing income, and facing pressure, intimidation or psychological and verbal violence from people at home. There are also traumatic feelings triggered during the pandemic, such as panic attacks and feeling suicidal or attempted suicides. The survey also informed that most of LBTQ people experience more than one form of psychological impact.
A similar situation also happens to LBTQ friends in Aceh Province, the only province in Indonesia where the Sharia’ based-law is implemented. The #stayathome instruction is misused to restrict LBTQ mobility. Their parents don’t allow them to go out from home. This situation put LBTQ at risk in many ways because staying with their parents makes it difficult to be themselves. However, they don’t have another option because college or workplaces were shut down. It also became more complicated for LBTQ persons who have become the head of the household, and also bear the responsibility to ensure daily support for the family.
As the #stayathome measure has increased the vulnerability of LBTQ people to domestic violence, transwomen – who mostly work as sex workers and street-singers – cannot work from home and they face violence in public spaces. The murder of Mira, a transwoman from Cilincing (North Jakarta) was a brutal hate crime orchestrated by the perpetrators who claimed that they “didn’t intend to burn Mira” after they poured Mira’s body with gasoline. Mira became a strong portrait of the rising hate-crime towards gender diversity during the pandemic. The ongoing stigma towards transwomen also is due to notions around “hygiene during the pandemic”. Mami Tata, the vice-chairperson of Ikatan Waria Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta Transwoman Association), stated that: “people don’t believe about the hygiene of waria because of our high-mobility in public space. They compare this with the situation of people working in an office with the hand sanitizer provided for them. Therefore, people keep saying to us whether we have washed and clean our hands. Only us, but they didn’t do it to others.”
As the #stayathome measure has increased the vulnerability of LBTQ people to domestic violence, transwomen – who mostly work as sex workers and street-singers – cannot work from home and they face violence in public spaces.
As one of the groups who face the structural impoverishment, during the pandemic, transgender people also unable to access the social assistance from the government. Forum Komunikasi Waria (Transwoman Communication Forum) in Jakarta described that there are 3,000 waria who face daily food crisis but can’t receive the government support because they don’t have an identity card. The problem of legal identity also affected a transman from Aceh Province who can’t accept the food support, although he has an identity card. In Aceh Province, hijab is a requirement for woman attire. Therefore, women also wear hijab for her identity card. In this case, a transman was accused of lying about his identity because his identity card photo – which shows him wearing a hijab – is completely different from his gender expression when he came to the government officials to ask for food support.
The hetero-patriarchal values are still deeply embedded during the pandemic, and this also goes along with the government being pro-big investors. The government through Badan Usaha Milik Negara (state-owned enterprise) decided to create 900 hectares of new rice fields on the peatland in Central Kalimantan to address the food crisis. It aims to decrease the scale of imported rice as one of Indonesia’s staple foods, and this has started long before the pandemic. To open a new rice field on the peatland is a huge misstep, and Indonesia also did the similar things in 1995 during the dictatorship regime but then failed. On the other hand, the government let the farmers, who are the food producers and preservers, suffer and be criminalised as they have to fight for their own land from the palm oil companies’ sabotage.
The government let the farmers, who are the food producers and preservers, suffer and be criminalised as they have to fight for their own land from the palm oil companies’ sabotage.
Therefore, the resilience is coming from the bottom, the grassroots. The physical distancing has resulted in social solidarity between people. People help people because the State only helps big investors and corporations. One day after Jakarta Province received approval from the national government to take the social distancing measures on 11 April, Gerakan Solidaritas Lumbung Agraria (GeSLA or Agrarian Food Barn Solidarity Movement) was initiated. It is solidarity from farmers who still have adequate food stocks in their barns for the next 3-6 months to urban poor communities to buy food for their daily life and survival. This movement provides several schemes to handle the food crisis during the pandemic, such as food donation from farmers and economical and healthy food distribution from small scale food producers (farmers and local farmers unions) to priority consumers (labourers, urban poor, fishermen, and informal workers). Yani Andriyani from Serikat Petani Pasundan (Pasundan Farmers Union) who gave food donation expressed her intention to join this movement: “We want to share what we have during this pandemic with people in urban areas who face difficulties due to the economic and food crisis. We also remember that this union was started from people who faced the 1998 crisis and then went back to kampong to consolidate the work to protect the land and produce foods to fulfil the needs of the farmers and their families, and also the union”.
We want to share what we have during this pandemic with people in urban areas who face difficulties due to the economic and food crisis.
The energy of people helping people also echoes in the effort of transgender people to mobilise resources to overcome the situation. Sanggar Swara, a young transwoman organization, collected IDR 100,000,000 (USD 7.128) within ten days (from 28 March to 9 April) and distributed the support for food and also housing rent. Kanzha Vinaa, the chairperson of Sanggar Swara described this as an important achievement: “A solidarity amongst different issues are highly crucial. People support this through reposting and share the e-flyer or the call of support through their social media. We also use international money transfers application to allow the international supporter to transfer the fund.” This effort also came from Transmen Indonesia (TI), a collective of Indonesian transmen. Raiz Rizqy, TI National Coordinator, passionately explained what TI did, “Our collective has contributed to this fundraising effort by collecting funds from the transman community to highlight the specific need of transman and inviting transmen individuals, including those who are still hidden, to join the solidarity to support transmen needs during the pandemic. This was the spirit behind the webinar that TI organized. The webinar discussed how transmen arrange their financial plan before deciding the medical transition. We call for a minimum donation of IDR 25,000 (around USD 1.8) for every transman who wants to join the webinar. We were glad we can fundraise IDR 1,200,000 (USD 85) with contribution from transmen whom we’ve never met and known before.”
In early May, SalingSapaSalingJaga collected support from the survey respondents who want to share their resource, either money or skills to manage their mental health, and from wider circle to support LBQ women and transmen, such as food supply, housing rents, hormones, and business space rent. We received support from LBQ women and transmen circles, including allies. The energy keeps flowing to myself because I figure out the priceless meaning of taking care of each other. There was one survey respondent that I and Green decided that she deserves support because she had lost her job because of the pandemic. However, when I texted her that SalingSapaSalingJaga managed to collect two-weeks food supply support for her, she said that she slowly started to make and sell bakso tahu (steamed wonton) so that she can afford to take care of her daily food need. “Thank you for your help so far, but I am sure that there are people who need this support than me. I am slowly getting better now,” she replied to my text.
The energy keeps flowing to myself because I figure out the priceless meaning of taking care of each other.
I also asked Green, who also works as an online driver daily apart from organizing SoreSobat , about her feeling after co-leading the process of collecting and distributing resources for the past two months. She said, “I always believe that solidarity is all that we have. Therefore, during this pandemic, I, even more, realise that I still have time, energy and focus to ask other folks and discuss things that we can do together. I am also excited about what we have done. Even I haven’t met all folks who contributed in the survey before, I felt excited because each of us dares to share in various forms: time, experience, knowledge, money and trust. This energy resonates with what SoreSobat believes: that we can keep fighting with happy feelings! I want to continue this effort, to keep up this solidarity!”
In mid-May, when I felt energised with the solidarity that appears through the small movement SalingSapaSalingJaga for LBQ women and transmen, I also took a deep breath: the House of Representatives approved the revised 2009 Coal and Mineral Mining Law on 15 May 2020. While people in the ground are putting forward their best efforts to walk together to face this crisis, the people’s elites are busy allowing an extension of the permit for miners through unbureaucratic procedures. Also, on that date, the total number of positive COVID19 cases reached 16,496; added 490 cases from one day ago.
While people in the ground are putting forward their best efforts to walk together to face this crisis, the people’s elites are busy allowing an extension of the permit for miners through unbureaucratic procedures.
 Green is a not the real name. She is happy to share her view but doesn’t want to share her name publicly.
 The law was started to reinforced in 2014 with one of the article that punish musahaqa and liwath in which the law refers to sexual practices between same sex person. However, when the law is put in practice, it promote the punishment to LGBT persons. The first case of public lashes to gay person was firstly occurred in 2017. This situation has made LGBT persons are become more invisibilized due to this inhuman law.
 Excerpt was taken from youtube channel of Anna Marsiana, a feminist activist who live in Yogyakarta. On 30 April 2020, she published her conversation with Yogyakarta Waria Community related to the communities’ effort to handle Covid-19
 Excerpt was taken from Tirto, an online media, published on 19 April 2020, https://tirto.id/derita-transgender-di-tengah-covid-19-tak-ada-ktp-tak-a...
 1998 was economic crisis faced by Indonesia. The crisis was followed by May riot where there were incidents of demonstrations, civil unrest and mass violence in several provinces in Indonesia. It occurred due to food crisis and mass unemployment which led to resignation of Soeharto. It was the momentum of the fall of 32-years New Order.
 Excerpt was taken from youtube channel Pembaruan Agraria, a consortium who focus on agrarian reform in Indonesia. On 17 April 2020, the consortium organized an online discussion about Solidarity Movement between Village and Town
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