Aceh residents use #KoinUntukAustralia campaign to offer to repay Australian aid
Kate Lamb, in Jakarta
Enraged citizens from the tsunami-ravaged province of Aceh,
Indonesia, have started a movement to collect coins to “pay back
Australia” in a backlash against provocative statements by the
Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott.
Venting their anger on Twitter under the hashtag #KoinUntukAustralia,
or Coins for Australia, Acehnese have taken to the social network in
droves to lambast the Australian leader.
Posting a photo of a 1,000 rupiah coin (worth less than 10 cents in
Australia) stuck to a piece of paper with six zeros cheekily added next
to it, one Twitter user Nikita Paradisa asked: “Is it enough? Ur bank
account please, Mr Tony Abbott.”
As diplomatic efforts have ramped up to save Australians Andrew Chan,
31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, from imminently facing an Indonesian
firing squad, Abbott controversially suggested that Indonesia should “reciprocate” for the $1bn pledged in tsunami aid by sparing the lives of the two Australians.
A notoriously proud people, the Acehnese say the Australian prime
minister should be ashamed of his comments and they will gladly return
“We never asked for their aid, they offered it to us as courtesy,” Dina
Handayani, 27, a Banda Aceh resident and civil servant told the
Conceived initially between friends during a heated discussion at an
Aceh coffee shop, postgraduate student Burhanuddin Alkhairy, 26, told
the Guardian his friends started the Twitter hashtag as a way to get
their message across to the Australia PM.
“We regret the link the Australian prime minister made between
tsunami aid and the execution of the drug dealers, they are two very
different things,” Alkhairy said. “This is our moral protest to his
The Acehnese, he said, were angry that Abbott would suggest that aid
pledged after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami – a disaster that killed more
than 170,000 people in their province alone – would be offered conditionally and retroactively.
Alkhairy says his group never intended to take to streets and
actually collect coins but the movement has inspired others to do just
One Muslim Student Action Union group on Friday set up a post in a main street in the capital to collect donations.
“We are ready to return the funds, and we ask that the death penalty
continues to save the young generation of Aceh and Indonesia,” said
Aziz Darliz, a member of the student group.
Pictures on Twitter showed that collections continued in Banda Aceh
on Saturday with volunteers holding boxes with pictures of the
Australian flag stuck on the side asking motorists for donations.
“This movement needs to be serious,” said annoyed civil servant
Handayani, “It should not just be happening on social media but in real
life. We should collect the coins and send them to Abbott.”
Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has attempted to smooth
over any fallout from Abbott’s comments, but in Jakarta the remarks have
not been well received either. “Threats are not part of diplomatic
language,” was the spiky reply from the foreign ministry earlier this
“We do not respond to statements that are emotional, by nature
threatening. No,” the Indonesian foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, told
reporters at the presidential palace on Friday.
Indonesia has been forced to justify its use of the death penalty,
arguing that capital punishment is in line with international law and is
necessary to counter the country’s purported “drug emergency”.
Sentenced to death for their role in the Bali Nine
heroin trafficking ring, Chan and Sukumaran are next in line to be shot
dead by an Indonesian firing squad. The executions were postponed last
week, but officials have stressed the delay is only temporary.
Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, said on Friday the executions
were delayed for technical reasons only, while the attorney general has
emphasised that “nothing whatsoever” will prevent them from going ahead.