Indonesian Migrant Workers are Vulnerable to Exposure to Extremism, Infest Design a Prevention Campaign Strategy

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The Institute for Education Development, Social, Religious, and Cultural Studies (Infest) Yogyakarta have designed a campaign to prevent extremism among Indonesian Migrant Workers (PMI). As an institution that have long been involved in working to protect PMI, Infest are concerned by the number of PMIs who are reportedly being exposed to extremism, as well as a number of studies that have revealed this phenomenon. One of the ways Infest are working to prevent extremism among PMI is by conducting a prevention campaign.

In the process of formulating campaign content, Infest Yogyakarta involved several experts from both government and civil society organizations through the “Program Kick Off Workshop: Preparing Strategies for Preventing Extremism among Indonesian Migrant Workers Abroad in the Pre-Placement and Placement Periods.” at the Jayakarta Hotel, on Friday-Sunday (7-9 / 9/2018), which was carried out as a collaboration between Infest Yogyakarta and UN Women. The speakers and active participants consisted of representatives of the Directorate of Indonesian Citizenship Protection (PWNI), Indonesian Legal Aid (BHI) Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Kemenlu), RI, National Counter Terrorism Agency (BNPT), National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Workers (BNP2TKI) , The Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) Indonesia, Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation (Rumah KitaB), Yogyakarta Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Inclusive Foundation, SatuDunia Foundation and the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (SBMI).

According to the Executive Director of Infest Yogyakarta, Irsyadul Ibad (Ibad), the media campaign is one of a series of activities from the program “Strengthening the Capacity of Migrant Workers and State Actors in Preventing the Spread of Radicalism and Violent Ideologies among Indonesian Migrant Workers”. Using various media multi-platforms, Infest will provide online content and knowledge resources for PMI as a counter-narrative to the flood of hate, hoaxes, and other negative content.

“This activity will produce media content in the form of articles, short videos and infographics that will be easier to read and share on social media. Additionally, Infest will prepare campaign media content and a draft of the final departure debriefing module (PAP) that will be used by BNP2TKI / BP3TKI,” said Ibad.

Joint Efforts to Prevent Extremism

The involvement of a number of experts in the kick off program workshop is also part of the program’s preparations to build capacity, understanding, and draft strategies for preventing extremism. In addition to building a shared commitment between different elements of civil society, the government will also make an effort to prevent extremism among Indonesian migrant workers.

Exploring the different experiences and knowledge of each instiution is essential to enriching content ideas for the campaign against radicalism among PMI. For example, the PWNI experience of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have conducted a series of activities to prevent extremism among PMI, according to Hernawan Baskoro Abdi (33), Head of the Section of Public Awareness Campaign of the PWNI of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Indonesia.

Group discussion about the role of each institution in preventing extremism among PMIs. (Photo: Documentation from Infest Yogyakarta)

Overseas, the Government of Indonesia has conducted a series of activities to prevent extremism among Indonesian Migrant Workers (PMI). According to Hernawan Bagaskoro Abid (Hernawan, ed.), The Head of the Section of the Public Awareness Campaign, PWNI, BHI, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has positive activities and direct meetings can be held to prevent PMI from becoming extremists. Some positive activities for PMI include sports, cooking, business, hobbies, and others. It is hoped that, for PMI who have been exposed to the content, the thoughts of radicalism can slowly be decreased.

“So the social basis must be strong, with frequent meetings, in order for the positive activities to be multiplied. The methods can be varied, for example holding events that will be widely liked, and able to embrace all people, whether they have not been exposed to radicalism or not” explained Hernawan.

Hernawan also emphasized that there are various activities being carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to strengthen strategies so that PMI would be able to meet and gather together. Although the stated activity theme did not clearly mention the prevention of extremism, the implementation of material related to the prevention of extremism continues to be carried out.

In addition to gaining experience and learning from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, BNPT also shared the prevention strategies that they carry out domestically, while AMAN Indonesia have experience and a network of “peace women” in a number of regions conducting their campaigns for peace. Studies on radicalism are also being carried out by Rumah KitaB Foundation, one of which is about the involvement of women in acts of terrorism.

At the village level, Infest Yogyakarta also strengthen the capacity of returned PMI and the families of PMI to collaborate with the Village Government (Pemdes), in handling and protecting PMI from the village level up until the placement countries. The PMI community includes the Indonesian Migrant Workers Community (KOPI) in Blitar and Ponorogo Districts, as well as the Communities of Indonesian Migrant Workers Organization (KOMI) Communities in Johor Bahru and Serantau in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. []

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