Australians in Indonesia forced to do walk of shame
IT'S known as the "walk of shame". People accused of crimes are paraded around villages with signs hanging from their necks that declare whatever it is they allegedly did wrong.
On Indonesia's Gili Islands, where there is no permanent police force, this has long been the villagers' preferred form of punishment for those who they claim disrupt their generally peaceful life.
And two Australians appear to have become the latest subjected to this unusual form of justice.
The young tourists were accused of stealing a bicycle on Gili Trawangan, off the coast of Lombok, and were photographed undertaking a walk of shame around the small island.
Surrounded mostly by private security officers, the tourists had signs hanging from their necks that read: "I am thieve [sic]. Don't do what I did...!!!"
It is unclear whether the unidentified pair were able to defend themselves or subject to a formal police investigation.
news.com.au understands they have since left the island.
Village chief Muhamad Taufik claimed CCTV recordings showed the two Australians taking the bike from a hotel about 11 days ago.
He told AFP the hotel manager reported the case to the island's authorities, who talked to the pair the next day. The pair were not charged with any offence.
"We interrogated them, made an agreement, paraded them around the island and forced them to leave Gili," Mr Taufik said.
They were believed to be the first foreigners forced on the walk of shame on the Gili Islands this year.
"The walk of shame parade is a regulation in our village. I don't know whether the police are charging them now, what matters to me is that they're now gone," Mr Taufik said.
WHAT IS THE 'WALK OF SHAME'?
Unlike Bali, the tiny Gili Islands - Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air - are considered generally quiet and peaceful.
Indonesian laws are in force but police don't have a permanent presence on the islands. Instead, they're guarded by private security officers with occasional support from mainland police.
This has allowed locals to develop their own form of justice.
"Since there is no police enforcement on our little tropical paradise island, we have our own rules for thieves," Karina, who runs the Gili Islands' official Facebook page, told the BBC.
"Later on, the person will get banned from the island and is not allowed to return for a few years.
"It is to make people aware that they cannot visit a foreign country and take what they want without consequences."
Lalu Muhamad Fauzal, from West Nusa Tenggara province tourism office, told the BBC the walk of shame came out of an agreement between locals and mainland police.
He said most of the people paraded were locals, but some were foreign tourists who were drunk or committed crimes after running out of money.
Another photo posted on the islands' Facebook page shows a man understood to be a French tourist on the walk of shame, wearing a sign that reads: "I am from France. I am a thief. Do not trust me!".
It is not clear whether there is any legal basis for the walk of shame. Some people on the islands told the BBC the mild embarrassment was seen as preferable to a costly legal battle or paying a fine, while others have raised concerns over the lack of privacy for the accused individuals, and questioned whether they have any local resource or opportunity to defend themselves.
'GILI IS NOT BALI'
When the Gili Islands' official Facebook page published the photo of the two Australians on the walk of shame it attracted a mixed response from commentators.
Some questioned whether this alleged crime actually happened.
"I wonder where they intended to take this bike. To Bali? To Australia? Hard to get an old bike off an island like that. Would be nice to get the whole story," one person wrote.
Another said: "Where is law enforcement then? ... So if they have stolen something they should go through the process of the justice system."
Many defended the punishment, pointing out foreign tourists were subject to local laws.
"That really sucks ... public shaming is no fun ... I'm sure they didn't intend to keep it just borrowed it probably, but this is a foreign country so they should [have] thought twice," one person said.
Another wrote: "If we go to other countries we should be prepared to respect their culture and their laws. Stealing is stealing no matter where you live ... Their punishment may seem harsh but in other countries they'd have a hand cut off for stealing or face stoning."
Another commentator described Australian tourists as "a menace", and that "it is time we should stop letting them into our countries".
"Most of the Aussies are backpackers so they don't bring much money into the economy either," they added.
The moderators of the page defended the walk of shame practice, saying that taking something "without any permission from the owner" is "the meaning of stealing".
"This procedure is also taken out on locals. It is not about shaming tourists/westerners," they wrote. "On Gili everybody is equal!!! And yes, we don't do anything because we are not the government or the islands security. We are just reporting about it.
"Gili is NOT Bali! It is a shame that stealing and other crimes are committed. But unfortunately that happens everywhere."