Jakarta, Feb 28, 2006 (ANTARA News) - Eddy, a security guard, still mourns the death of his only son. His son was only 23 year-old when he died two years ago due to a narcotic overdoze.
He could not believe that his son, a good boy from a modest family, was a drug addict given the fact that the family was not rich and certainly could not afford "the luxury" of consuming narcotics or other illicit drugs.
Thousands of young men have wasted their lives because of illicit drugs in Indonesia. They were mostly victims of a "cruel" environment, a broken home, poverty, ignorance, curiosity, or particularly of the illegal drug mafia.
Young men from poor families are among the main targets of illicit drug traffickers to be recruited as couriers. At the beginning, the traffickers give them narcotics or other drugs free of charge. And when finally they got addicted, they are willing to do anything such as stealing their parents money or working as illicit drug couriers.
According to data of the National Narcotic Body (BNN), around 3.2 million Indonesian people are illicit drug users. Some 15,000 people die every year due to consumption of narcotics and other illicit drugs.
Around 71 percent of the users consumed hashish, heroin/low-grade heroin (62 percent), shabu-shabu (crystal methamphetamine) (57 percent), ecstasy (34 percent) and sedative drugs (25 percent). In the capital city with its population of of around 10-million it is estimated that three out of 10 young people are drug users.
A study conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) office in Indonesia last year showed that two out of 10 users are involved in illicit drug or "narkoba" trafficking.
Some teenagers even started using and trafficking "narkoba" at the age of 13, Dede Shinta Sudono, National Program Officer of the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) ILO Jakarta said in June 2005.
"Narkoba" is the Indonesian term for narcotics, psychotropic and addictive substances. Psychotropic substances popularly called Ecstasy and Shabu-shabu (crystal methamphetamine) are preferred by the middle and upper-class users.
However, for an increasing number of young people, the drug of choice is low-grade heroin, known as putaw, which is cheap, plentiful but potentially deadly.
These drugs are readily available in all major urban areas, including schools, karaoke lounges, bars, cafes, discotheques, nightclubs, and they even foun their way into remote villages. Therefore, it is not surprising that drug users continue to increase from year to year.
According to BNN, the government`s policy against the drug problem is comprehensive and multidimensional, covering the aspects of prevention, eradication of drug abuse and drug-related crime. Schools are among the top targets the anti-narkoba campaigns.
Reports on increasing drug abuse indicate that Indonesia has shifted from previously being a transit area into a consumption and marketing area.
According to the 1999 Narcotics Report on the Asia-Pacific Region, Indonesia is becoming increasingly vulnerable to sophisticated trafficking groups.
Heroin is believed to be smuggled into Indonesia from the "Golden Triangle" countries (Thailand, Burma, and Laos). Drugs entering Indonesia frequently transit Thailand, either from Bangkok to Jakarta or from Bangkok to Singapore to Jakarta.
The Indonesian Police also report an increase in heroin and opium derivatives being smuggled into Jakarta and Bali from the "Golden Crescent" countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran).
Drug abuse has also contributed to the increase of HIV/AIDS patients in Indonesia, through the usage of not sterile injections.
New populations, especially young people, are becoming involved with illicit drugs and with their injection. According to BNN, there were around 575,000 drug injectors in Indonesia, and some 200,000 to 300,000 of them tested positive for HIV.
Drug use has become one of the major causes of the HIV epidemic in the Asia region. The threat of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia was worrying because it multiplies very fast due to the use of contaminated injections by drug users. Needle sharing will soon surpass unsafe sex as the most common method of contracting HIV.
According to the Indonesian law, illicit drug users could be put in jail. In the past years, most of the captures and finally went to jail were users, while arrests of big syndicates were rarely heard. Police and other law enforces were often criticized for failure in apprehending serious drug trafficking criminals.
Law enforcement in Indonesia is considered very weak due to bribery and corruption, which are quite common among security and legal officers.
"Every day there are reports of arrests of drug users, but those arrests are not significant. The government must arrest and punish big traffickers to death. The youths are merely victims," said Chairman of the National Movement of Anti-Narcotics and Other Illicit Drugs (Granat), Henry Yosodiningrat few years ago.
According to Granat, around 90 per cent of the total addicts are poor. It is the duty of the government to save the young people, the assets and the future of the nation. The addicted youths are victims and they have the right to receive medical services from the government.
"This is an extremely serious issue for us. It`s a threat that could kill an entire generation," Henry once said
However, in line with the national reforms, the situation has changed into better since the past couple years with the success of the Indonesian police in uncovering shabu-shabu factories and arresting members of transnational drug syndicates.
Early this year, Jakarta Police arrested a Chinese citizen believed to be a member of a Hong Kong-based drug syndicate that smuggled 200 kilograms of shabu-shabu (crystal methamphetamine) into Jakarta.
"The syndicate put the drugs inside Chinese ceramics imported from Hong Kong. By doing this, they managed to get past the port`s officials," Chief of the narcotics unit at the Jakarta Police, Sr. Com. Carlo Brix Tewu said.
Police began uncovering the syndicate`s operations in Indonesia after they arrested one of its members, identified as Leam Marita, alias Aling, on Jan. 27 along with 57,000 ecstasy pills in Artha Gading Apartment in North Jakarta.
The seizure is believed to be the second biggest in the country after police managed to raid an ecstasy factory in Cikande, Banten province, last year.
On 17 April 2005, the Indonesian police arrested nine Australians, now known as "the Bali Nine" at the Ngurah Rai Airport, on Bali Island, for attempting to smuggle 8.2 kg of heroin from Bali to Australia.
The Denpasar District Court sentenced two Australian citizens to death for being convicted as the ringleaders of a heroin smuggling gang, and life imprisonment for seven other members of the gang.
The then BNN chief, Commissioner General Sutanto, who is currently the Indonesian Police Chief, said in his last year's report that there was a sharp increase in the arrests of drug criminals during 2005.
Sutanto said that during 2005, the police had uncovered 12,256 drug cases, arrested 16,702 people, including 70 foreigners, and saized among other things around 20,904 kg of hemp plants, 93,156 kg of shabu-shabu, and 233,467 pills of ecstasy.
On April 8, 2005, the Police found an ecstasy factory having a production capacity of 504,00 pills daily in Bogor (West Java) ; on November 11, 2005, an ecstasy and shabu-shabu factory with capacity of producing 100 kg per week in Cemplang Cekande (Banten); on November 23, 2005, esctasy factories with production capacity of 8,000 pills per hour in Banyuwangi and Malang (East Java) on November 23, 2005, which were owned by Indonesian, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysian citizens.
The Indonesina police, and the people in general, should rejoice and be proud of last year's discovery of shabu-shabu and ecstasy factories which ranked as the world's third biggest.
The big busts are hopefully a sign of the beginning of the prevalence of clean governance in Indonesia and a sign of the government s strong commitment to save the country's younger generation. (*)
Tuesday, 28 February 2006