The Future of Law Enforcement in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter

Author:  Quinta Allaya Emirsyah

“The problem is not police training, police diversity, or police methods.
The problem is policing itself.” – Alex S. Vitale

Carl Hiaasen, a prominent American writer, once said, “Public outrage is the best antidote because it often leads to change.” That seemed to be the case in May 2020 after the wrongful death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Afro-American man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd’s passing triggered a widespread anger under the #BlackLivesMatter movement. With over 23 million people participating in nationwide protests and even abroad, it became the largest movement in the United States’ history to date.[1] The long-running systematic mistreatment by law enforcers to black people caused a pent-up frustration that was not only expressed in peaceful demonstrations, but also through riots and lootings. During those times, videos and social media threads of police brutality circulated rampantly. Officers were seen shoving an elderly white man to the ground, attacking street medics, surging into a crowd of peaceful protesters, and many more. Previous police violence cases, such as the shooting of Breonna Taylor, also came to light. As a result, majority of the citizens now sees the police force as a threat to their safety which is evidently ironic since they are supposed to be the one that protects the public.[2] Thus, this raises a question – what does the future of law enforcement and public safety look like in a more progressive America?

There are three options of policing reform that were widely discussed. The first one, perhaps the most famous out of all choices, is to defund the police. Contrary to popular belief, defunding the police is not completely cutting their notoriously high budget until they are left with no money to operate. It simply means reallocating some of their funds to other social services that are more beneficial to the community such as healthcare facilities, schooling, or even mental health agencies. For example, rather than dialing 911 and have a police officer dispatched to a drug overdose situation, a medical professional would respond instead.[3] This option was done by the Los Angeles City Council in July 2020 that cut their police department’s budget by $150 million. New York City lawmakers also reallocated nearly $484 million of their police budget to community-building infrastructures.[4]

The second type of reform is to dismantle the police. By doing so, the current policing system will be disbanded and a new model will be built without erasing the police department itself. Alternatively, their approach to public safety should be made accountable to an organized community, emphasizing on policy innovation as well. This change was previously carried out by the Camden County Police Department in 2012 when they disbanded and rebuilt their force it into a non-unionized model of 400 officers to safeguard the city. However, Camden officials did it because their police department was going bankrupt, not because people were protesting like nowadays.[5] After Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis City Council approved a proposal to allow their
police department to be dismantled. Nonetheless, #BlackLivesMatter supporters stated that there is a lack of concrete plan to make this type of reform successful.

Lastly, and possibly the most controversial choice, is to abolish the police. By doing so, policing will be completely replaced with other mechanisms of public safety, preferably a community-based one. The #BlackLivesMatter movement itself has a dedicated page called the “8 to Abolition”, a campaign consisting of eight steps that needs to be undertaken in order to create a police-free society.[6] Police abolitionists believe that policing, as a system, is inherently flawed and cannot be fixed by just transforming it. According to them, the institution’s origin is deeply rooted in the ideas of white supremacy and settler colonialism.[7] For example, policing in the Southern States originated from what was then called the “slave patrols” – a group of armed white men in the 1700- 1800s whose job is to enforce discipline on enslaved black people. Therefore, the whole institution needs to be disempowered and disarmed altogether because of its racist historical records.

At the end of the day, the goal of every reform is to create an American society that doesn’t rely on policing as a means to enforce law and order. The #BlackLivesMatter movement aims to construct a community-based public safety system, supported with nonviolent emergency responders in order to protect the livelihood of every citizen of all races. However, it is important to note that any reform, regardless of the scenario that might be used, needs to be done in a strategic and gradual manner in order for it to succeed. Therefore, the debate over the future of law enforcement in the age of #BlackLivesMatter is all about a discourse over the likelihood of a police-free society, driven by marginalized communities who desperately want to feel safe in the so-called “land of the free.”


1 Larry Buchanan. “Black Lives Matter May Be The Largest Movement in U.S. History.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company (July 3, 2020). Accessed through:

2 Shaila Dewan and Mike Baker. “Facing Protests Over Use of Force, Police Respond With More Force.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company (June 2, 2020). Accessed through

3 Alicia Adamczyk. “What it actually means to defund the police.” Consumer News and Business Channel. CNBC Make It (Jun 15, 2020). Accessed through

4 David Brooks. “The Culture of Policing Is Broken.” The Atlantic (June 16, 2020). Accessed through

5 Kate Zernike. “To Fight Crime, a Poor City Will Trade In Its Police.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company
(September 28, 2012). Accessed through

6 8 To Abolition. “Abolitionist Policy Changes to Demand from Your City Officials.” PDF Campaign Document. Accessed through

7 Aaron Ross Coleman. “Police reform, defunding, and abolition, explained.” Vox (July 16, 2020). Accessed through

Was it Wise to Convert Hagia Sophia?

Author: Audrey

It is safe to say that Hagia Sophia is one of Turkey’s most notable landmarks. With its breathtaking architecture, magnificent mosaics, and an intricate design that showcases the beauty of both the Eastern and Western world — its existence is a proud reminder on how mankind was already so developed in the past. It honestly came to no one’s surprise when Hagia Sophia secured a spot in UNESCO’s World Heritage List back in 1985.[1]

The building has a very interesting history. The current structure is basically remnants of a church built in 532 AD under the reign of Emperor Justinian I. It then served as a place of Christian worship for about 916 years. In 1453, it was rebranded as a mosque literally three days after Fatih Sultan Mehmed conquered Constantinople (now Istanbul). The structure went through a series of renovations throughout the Ottoman period until it became the Hagia Sophia that we see today. Hagia Sophia was finally repurposed as a museum under the orders of Turkey’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in 1935.[2]

Due to this rich history, Turkey’s decision on converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque created an uproar. There were numerous complaints from international society. Turkey has published justifications for their decision, but some parties are still unable to accept this newly established policy.[3] Even if we disregard the religious reasonings, there are still a handful of reasons why some people believe Hagia Sophia should have stayed as a museum. This article will only refer to two major reasons that are constantly highlighted by international observers.

The first reason stems from a geopolitical and international relations perspective. As stated earlier, there have been numerous backlash from the international scene regarding Turkey’s decision. One of the more aggressive protests originated from Greece. We must first understand that even before Hagia Sophia’s conversion, the bilateral relationship between Greece and Turkey has been very rocky.

This can be credited to issues regarding refugee movements and the case of Cyprus.[4] Salt was added to Greece’s wounds because of the conversion as Greece sees themselves as the heir to the Byzantine Empire.[5] Hagia Sophia is the face of Byzantine heritage; hence, Greece felt the need to protect anything related to Byzantium or Orthodox Christian remains. With that being said, Turkey’s decision might worsen relations with Greece, contracting possible economic sanctions and boycotts.[6]

Russia also has a say in the Hagia Sophia controversy. Currently, the largest Orthodox Christian community is housed under the Church of Russia and they are concerned with the conversion. As expressed by the Church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill, Christendom is deeply pained by Turkey’s decision of highlighting Hagia Sophia’s past as a mosque above its past as a church. The site’s neutrality bothered no party, and it would have been better if it stayed that way.[7] Despite it all, Russia officially declared that they will not interfere with Turkey’s decision as it is not Moscow’s place to plead.[8] This decision, however, does not discount any disappointment that Russia has over Turkey.

Turkey’s decision might also become a gateway to a future of difficult international cooperation. The lack of communication between Ankara and UNESCO regarding the conversion was seen by Western countries as Erdoğan’s disrespect towards international obligations and institutions.[9] Preceded by Erdoğan’s past decisions that are deemed controversial, one might say that Turkey’s relationship with Europe and the Western parts of the world will continue to deteriorate due to Hagia Sophia.[10]

The second reason revolves around how unfair Turkey’s decision was in converting the Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque. To understand the context of this argument, we must first understand the reason why Hagia Sophia turned into a museum in the first place. It is said that Atatürk wanted Hagia Sophia to belong to all nations and religions rather than just one specific group.[11] He wanted to respect Hagia Sophia’s past as a church and a mosque, and he wanted to make sure that no one felt entitled to claim the site.

Along with that, Atatürk’s decision was also based on Turkey’s secularization and modernization agenda. Atatürk’s Turkey wanted to shed its Ottoman identity and become a much more developed country; putting Western countries as Turkey’s example. Understanding the West’s fascination towards science and arts, Atatürk decided to make Hagia Sophia the hub for Byzantine culture and studies. This made sense as Hagia Sophia literally translates to ‘holy wisdom,’ meaning that Hagia Sophia also served as an intersection between science and religion. At the end of the day, the Hagia Sophia Museum eradicated superiority of Islam over Christianity and vice versa. Instead, it became a symbol of Turkey’s modern society and peace between different groups and/or nations; a true humanist site.[12]

The reconversion of Hagia Sophia was seen as Turkey’s insistence on putting Hagia Sophia’s Islamic history above everything else, acting as if the Christian and Byzantine timeline did not matter as much. Some believe that this act may create mistrust, division, and a difficult environment for future cooperation between countries and religions.[13] What started as the symbol of coexistence between religions and regions might become the reason why those two elements fall apart.

With all that has been said and done, the reconversion of Hagia Sophia cannot be disturbed. The decision made on July 10, 2020, was purely a domestic decision that has no room for international meddling. Even if the international realm wanted to punish Turkey, it is difficult to do. Technically speaking, Turkey has not broken any international law, so there is no reason for the world to legally attack Turkey. The least that we can do now is mourn over the loss of such a magnetic site that showcased the beauty of humanity and the coexistence of many groups.


1 “Historic Areas of Istanbul,” UNESCO World Heritage Centre (UNESCO), accessed July 26, 2020,

2 “İstanbul – Hagia Sophia Museum,” Museums of the General Directorate of Monuments and Museums (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism), accessed July 26, 2020,—hagia-sophia-museum.html.

3 Ishaan Tharoor, “The Trouble with Making Hagia Sophia a Mosque Again,” Today’s WorldView (The Washington Post, July 13, 2020),

4 “Why Turkey and Greece Cannot Reconcile,” The Economist Explains (The Economist, December 14, 2017),

5 Carlotta Gall, “Erdogan Signs Decree Allowing Hagia Sophia to Be Used as a Mosque Again,” Europe (The New York Times, July 10, 2020),

6 Anthee Carassava, “Greek Businesses Move to Boycott Trade with Turkey over Hagia Sophia,” Europe (Voice of America, July 26, 2020),

7 AFP, “Russian Orthodox Leader Warns Turkey Over Hagia Sophia Move,” Turkey (The Moscow Times, July 6, 2020),

8 Australian Associated Press, “Putin Says Hagia Sophia ‘Symbol of Peace’,” World (The Canberra Times, July 23, 2020),

9 Stavros Papagianneas, “Turkey’s Decision to Remove Hagia Sophia’s Universal Status Is a New Provocation of Europe,” Europe (Euronews, July 23, 2020),

10 Jonathan Stearns, “EU Urges Turkey to ‘Reverse’ Hagia Sophia Reconversion Plan,” Politics (Bloomberg, July 13, 2020),

11 C. Katipoğlu and Ç. Caner-Yüksel, “Hagia Sophia ‘Museum’: A Humanist Project of the Turkish Republic,” in Constructing Cultural Identity: Representing Social Power (Pisa: Ed. PLUS – Pisa Univ. Press, 2010), 214.

12 Ibid., 214-217.

13 Jonathan Stearns, “EU Urges Turkey to ‘Reverse’ Hagia Sophia Reconversion Plan,” Politics (Bloomberg, July 13, 2020),

How Does a Disney Movie Become Political?

Author: Alifa

Remake of the classic 1998 film, Mulan, is one of the most highly anticipated film set to premiere in 2020. The film brought up many conversation topics on social media for having an all Asian cast, the new direction Disney is taking for this remake compared to the original, and most surprisingly, the Hong Kong protests[1]. The Hong Kong demonstrations itself began in March 2019 when Carrie Lam, Hong Kong Chief Executive, proposed a bill that would allow the extradition of criminals from Hong Kong to mainland China. Since the proposition of the bill, protests have erupted in Hong Kong. The protests started peacefully but continued to become increasingly violent due to clashes with police forces and usage of tear gas, batons, and pepper spray from the law enforcement’s side[2].

Controversy started surrounding the film when the lead actress casted as Mulan, Liu Yifei, reposted an image that reads the quote, “I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now.” The reposted image was followed by Liu’s own remarks expressing her support for the Hong Kong police. Her post received positive responses in Weibo, a popular social media platform in China but extremely negative responses in other social media platforms banned in China, especially Twitter[3]. The hashtag #BoycottMulan started trending shortly after her post became viral.

There are two reasons why her comment gained such severe reactions from the public. First, Liu Yifei is a Chinese born actress who then became a naturalized American citizen[4]. Many viewed her comment as coming from a place of privilege and tone deaf. As an American citizen, Liu does not face the oppression that the Hong Kong citizens are facing. While she enjoys freedom, she looks down upon those who are risking their life fighting for their own rights and democracy. Hong Kong protestors face excessive use of violence and abuse of power from the Hong Kong police during the demonstrations, violence which have been condemned by large institutions such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch[5]. People of Hong Kong rightfully took offense of what Liu said and started to call for the film’s boycott.

Second, Mulan is also one of the most popular legend originating from China. Its values represent the nation and the people, not only those in mainland, but also in Hong Kong. The legend tells the story of fighting back against oppression and doing what is right. Having the lead actress publicly showing support towards the Hong Kong police in the demonstrations unsurprisingly felt like a slap on the face to the citizens of Hong Kong. To the Hong Kong citizens and many others supporting the protest, her support for the Hong Kong police meant she supported the brutality and excessive use of violence committed by the law enforcements.

Her portrayal of Mulan could have been the voice of justice for the people experiencing cruelty in Hong Kong. Instead, Liu’s remark was seen as a betrayal towards the character she depicts in the film which resulted in the hashtag calling to boycott the film to trend on Twitter. Portraying a character as influential and popular as Mulan comes with certain responsibilities. Her comments aren’t just comments. She has a platform and a large following who listens to what she has to say, especially when it comes to delicate political issues like the Hong Kong demonstrations. Her words have impact. And yet, she chose to use that platform to support an institution displaying brute use of force.


[1] “Liu Yifei: Mulan Boycott Urged after Star Backs HK Police,” BBC News (BBC, August 16, 2019),

[2] Daniel Victor, “Why Are People Protesting in Hong Kong?,” The New York Times (The New York Times, November 13, 2019),

[3] Jessie Yeung, “Hong Kong Protesters Call for ‘Mulan’ Boycott,” CNN (Cable News Network, August 16, 2019),

[4] “Liu Yifei: Mulan Boycott Urged after Star Backs HK Police,” BBC News (BBC, August 16, 2019),

[5] Daniel Victor, “Calls to Boycott ‘Mulan’ Erupt After Star Voices Support for Hong Kong Police,” The New York Times (The New York Times, August 16, 2019),

Politics and Profit in the Cure for Pandemics

Author: Emily Zaza

There’s a common concern surrounding the global citizens of how a sickness can be cured. It is not enough, however, to explain how a sickness finds its vaccines by only using a bio-chemical approach. In the means to find a cure, hurdles including the political priorities and market strategy are present.

In retrospect, the world has suffered from the deathly pandemics, sickness that spreads globally,[1] such as Ebola, SARS, and MERS prior to the emergence of COVID-19. But status quo has not yet seen a major victory in one true vaccine that could perfectly cure each pandemic. The question is, why is it so hard to find a vaccination for a pandemic

The leading figure in a research to develop vaccines often lies in the hands of pharmaceutical companies. The problem is they tend to have their main priorities in the end goal of profit and financial recompensates.[2] This can be shown, for example, in 1976 during the outbreak of swine flu in the United States, when four drug firms; Merck’s Sharp & Dohme, Merrell, Wyeth, and Parke-Davis refused to sell the government their manufactured doses of vaccination until they were reassured they would get full liability and profit.[3]

Gerald Posner in his book Pharma : Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America, argues that one of the reasons pharmaceutical industries show little interest for the development of such outbreaks, is because the recipients were more likely be in Africa and Asia, that they think the financial returns were too small to justify any huge investment that would cost much money for the research.[4] The next barriers that we find in the discovery of pandemics’ vaccines is due to the nature of an outbreak itself. Jason Schwartz, an assistant professor at Yale School of Public Health, argues that pharmaceutical companies are prone to suspend the research for such pandemics once the phase of an outbreak ends.[5] COVID-19 should have been the test case for this because the virus has similarities with the previous pandemics, such as 2003-SARS and 2012-MERS, three of them have similar respiratory illnesses including fever and cough.[6] In fact, should pharmaceutical companies continue with their researches, they would have their basic research completed and that could be implemented in COVID-19 thus lessening the time needed to produce such vaccines for future inevitable viruses.

It would be unfair to say the only concern to find a vaccine is a mere economic thought because political agenda also plays a role. On February 2020, President Trump in his new 2021 fiscal budgeting plan appears to have reduced the overall funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP)  and National Institutes of Health (NIH) which translates into difficulties to fund a research for pandemics preparedness.[7] Political circumstances change per time being and per leaders andot every politician is fond of health issue. The next thing we usually see is big pharmaceutical companies will spend more money on the political lobbying, for approval on clinical tests for example, such difficulties is also one of the obstacles if the financial recompensate is not secured.[8]

However, everything always comes with a counterbalance. The world seems to move in a faster lane than it did during previous outbreaks. Firste see China’s fast response in identifying a particular genome of coronavirus that might help finding the vaccine.[9] Next we witness the birth of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) in 2017, which takes donations from public and private entities, including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation whose focus is funding the development of World Health Organization’s (WHO) agenda to find cure for pathogens, including MERS and Ebola. It is known for funding Inovio Pharmaceuticals to begin testing for COVID-19 a few days ago.[10] Third, when the whole Wall Street market stock has purging due to this outbreak, pharmaceutical company Gillead has its sales rating move higher after it publishes a statement that Gilead is working on a COVID-19 treatment and would publish the report in next month, this might incentivize them for more research.[11] And last but not least, Trump’s $1 billion emergency fund as a response to coronavirus might also help such progress. [12]

The aforementioned initial hurdles are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, but this does not mean any beneficial progress would not appear in he midst of an epidemic crisis.


[1] “What Is a Pandemic?” LiveScience. Purch. Accessed March 19, 2020.

[2] Rottingen JA, Gouglas D, Feinberg M, Plotkin S, Raghavan KV, Witty A, Draghia-Akli R, Stoffels P, Piot P. New vaccines against epidemic infectious diseases. N Engl J Med 2017; 376:610-13; PMID:28099066;

[3] Posner, Gerald. “Big Pharma May Pose an Obstacle to Vaccine Development.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 2, 2020.

[4] Posner, Gerald L. Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America. New York: Avid Reader Press, 2020.

[5] Hamblin, James. “You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, March 10, 2020.

[6] “COVID-19, MERS & SARS.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed March 19, 2020.

[7] “What’s in President Trump’s Fiscal 2021 Budget?” The New York Times. The New York Times, February 10, 2020.

[8] Schubert, Louis, Thomas R. Dye, and L. Harmon Zeigler. The Irony of Democracy: an Uncommon Introduction to American Politics. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2016. Pg 172-173

[9] Asian Scientist Newsroom, and Wildtype Media Group. “Chinese Scientists Sequence Genome Of COVID-19.” Asian Scientist Magazine | Science, technology and medical news updates from Asia, February 28, 2020.

[10] Tirumalaraju, Divya. “Covid-19 Vaccine: Inovio Secures Funds for Delivery Device.” Pharmaceutical Technology, March 13, 2020.

[11] Daily, Investor’s Business. “Gilead Sciences Rating Rises Amid Coronavirus Study.” Investor’s Business Daily, March 12, 2020.

[12] Hamblin, James. “You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, March 10, 2020.

Understanding Asian and Indonesia Economic with Asian Development Bank

ISAFIS members with economic speaker from ADB take a photo group together


On Friday, November 22, we got such a golden opportunity to visit representative office of Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Jakarta.
Our second SISBAC (Strategic International Studies Basic Course) were full of sharing knowledges and experiences from many experts from ADB, there are: Mr. Winfried F. Wicklein as Country Director, Mr. Said Zaidansyah as Deputy Country Director, Ms. Emma R. Allen as Country Economist, and Mr. Priasto Aji as Senior Economics Officer in ADB.

Opening Remarks from Mr. Winfried as Country Director of ADB

We discussed a lot about the role of ADB operations in Indonesia also the economic outlook and supporting technology transformation in Indonesia.
They had deliver us great presentation with full of chart and data about how exactly economic circumstances in the region of Asia, particularly in Indonesia.

They explain every detail of action plans of ADB country partnership strategies for Indonesia during today up till 2024. There are developing human capital which is come along with our president prioritize, Jokowi, on this period, then accelerating investments which is very important to make sure that country has a financial source from external relations, and addressing climate risk that can affect many side such as business system, education, health assurance, and many more of economic system, particularly in Indonesia.

One of participant who curious about economic circumstances in Indonesia

When it came to Question and Answer session, a lot of participant raised their hands and start to ask many things. There was one who asked about how education quality in Indonesia related to government financial state, also another one who asked about how economic circumstances in Indonesia would be better in future with ADB roles.

Presentation about ADB role from Mr. Said as Country Deputy Director of ADB

We had so much fun along with learn many things! Many ISAFIS members who came from various major such as Chinese Studies, French Studies, Law Studies, International Relations, and so on claimed that they got such a valuable new insight that they never had before. Now they understand how Asian economics works and how Indonesia play their game to always enhancing its quality and become one of the most develop country in the future. Hopefully ISAFIS members can contribute well for a better Indonesia.

Don’t worry! We have a lot of events ahead that would be more great if you join us! So, make sure you do not miss your opportunity at the next SISBAC! Keep updated with us to join the next events byfollow our instagram account @isafis_official !