Home > Queensland Synod News > Don’t demonise Indonesia

Don’t demonise Indonesia

John Barr, centre, with Indonesian church partners. Photo courtesy of UnitingWorld
“A BLOODY Business” is a rather emotive title for a television report – and such a title is guaranteed to create a lot of interest.

The ABC TV program, Four Corners, (6 June 2011) documented horrific scenes from a number of Indonesian abattoirs where cattle from Australia were brutally treated during the slaughter process.

Viewers were understandably horrified and it provoked strong reactions across the country concerning the humane treatment of livestock.

The Australian Government responded to these outcries by suspending the export of all live cattle to our near neighbour.

A lot is being said on this issue.

Animal welfare and the humane slaughter of livestock is a practice most Australians hold to without question.

Sadly, Indonesia is being singled out as being a rogue nation.

Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country.

Islamic practices require animals to be slaughtered according to the principle of “Halal” and this involves a swift, deep incision to the animal by cutting the jugular and carotid arteries while leaving the spinal chord intact.

During this action the name of Allah is recited.

Muslims claim this is a humane method of slaughter.

Indonesia’s Muslim leaders state that the scenario presented in the recent Four Corners program does not adhere to
Muslim practices concerning the slaughter of animals.

Indonesian law stipulates the humane treatment of animals.

Clearly, the horrific methods documented by the Four Corners program identify activities in abattoirs that do not meet Indonesian Government regulations and do not conform to Islamic law.

Australians are often quick to criticise Indonesia.

We fall into the trap of engaging in megaphone diplomacy where problems are highlighted and judgments are made, often without much thought or consideration.

Indonesians are very much aware of this situation and are keen to overcome the gaps, pull down the fences and to deal with the stereotypes.

A recent press release from the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra referring to the Four Corners program said, “Indonesians themselves are appalled at these findings, especially considering that the widely accepted convention in preparing Halal food stipulates the humane killing of livestock with proper Islamic prayers beforehand.”

It is wrong to demonise Indonesia.

The way forward is through respectful engagement.

Our relationship with our Asian neighbour has to be grounded on constructive collaboration and effective cooperation.

John Barr is UnitingWorld’s Associate Director, Church Solidarity – Asia

Photo : John Barr, centre, with Indonesian church partners. Photo courtesy of UnitingWorld