Smugglers and fake certificates: Indonesian willing to travel for the Eid

Passeurs et faux certificats: des Indonésiens prêts à tout pour voyager pour l'Aïd

Jakarta | many Indonesians have turned to smugglers and manufacturers of fake certificates to travel despite the ban on this year of the traditional migration, which marks the end of ramadan.

These moves are raising concerns about an acceleration of the epidemic of coronavirus in the largest muslim country in the world, despite two months of confinement, partial.

Thousands of Indonesians are ready to join their relatives to celebrate the Eid el-Fitr, the major muslim festival marks the end of the fasting month of ramadan.

“This is a critical moment, ( … ), I am afraid that the people who travel in other regions does not come into being infected and that all our efforts are wasted”, points out Doni Monardo, who is leading the fight against the Covid-19 in Indonesia.

Each year tens of millions of Indonesians, including migrant workers in major cities, travelling through the archipelago of almost 5000 kilometres long, in a great migration that is comparable, albeit on a smaller scale, the chinese New year.

Fearing a public health disaster, the government announced last month a suspension of air and sea links and of road checks strict to limit travel between the regions, and banned the great annual migration.

But before the risk of a collapse of the economy, it has softened these measures by allowing some to travel with a medical certificate, and provided that they can demonstrate that they have an imperative need to travel.

Flaws quickly exploited

These weaknesses were quickly exploited. So Kamal and his wife purchased a fake certificate for their daughter, a student in Jakarta, the epicentre of the epidemic.

The fake document certifies that their daughter must distribute equipment for the fight against the coronavirus in Makassar, his hometown on the island of Celebes.

“We are very concerned for his health if he stays in Jakarta,” said Kamal, who doesn’t want that you reveal his real name. “But the most important thing is that we missed so much. We wanted to celebrate the Eid together as in previous years.”

The police tried to combat a wave of fake certificates available for sale online and arrested the last week of seven people in Bali for sale of false documents.

The markets are also suddenly filled with buyers eager to stock up before the holiday season and to afford new clothes. And the authorities fear that the mosques do, in spite of the injunctions in many areas to pray at home.

This little respect for the rules of distancing physics has triggered a movement of anger on the social networks. Internet users have started to publish the worst violations with the hashtag #IndonesiaTerserah (Indonesia anything) to protest.

Hide-and-seek with the police

The game of hide-and-seek with the police has intensified with the approach of Eid. The travelers were concealed in trucks, the hold luggage by bus and even in a cement mixer.

Hundreds of smugglers have been arrested for trying to smuggle passengers.

“People are trying to deceive us in all kinds of ways,” noted the spokesman of the police of Jakarta, Yusri Yunus.

Far to have reversed the curve of the number of infections, Indonesia has recorded this week a new daily record of new cases. The official number of deaths due to the Covid-19 exceeds 1,300, the highest figure in Asia after China.

The official statistics are, however, considered largely under-estimated in this country of over 260 million inhabitants, where the rate of testing is one of the lowest in the world.

Maulana Arif Budi Satrio, a bus driver, claims to have market 500 kilometers from Jakarta up to his hometown of Solo after his vehicle was blocked at a checkpoint.

“The company I worked for has laid off drivers like me (…) So I had to option to stay in Jakarta without money or to go home,” says the 38-year-old.

Like him, many Indonesians in recent weeks have not had another choice than go home, because they can survive in large cities after losing their jobs.

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