While COVID-19 dominated the news in 2021, hundreds of Indonesians were killed by landslides, floods, and accidents throughout the year.
Meanwhile, corruption and environmental problems flourished. In the good news ledger, Indonesia won an Olympic gold medal.
7 January – Abu Bakar Baasyir, 82, the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organisation, is released from jail after his 15-year sentence for funding a terrorist training camp was cut by more than four years.
8 January – The Indonesian Ulemas Association declares the Sinovac vaccine to be halal, following earlier claims that foreign vaccines are haram.
9 January – Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 crashes in the Java Sea after departing from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for Pontianak, West Kalimantan, killing all 62 passengers and crew. The airline blames bad weather, despite reports of poor maintenance.
A landslide kills 40 people in Sumedang, West Java. Officials blame geology, rather than erosion caused by deforestation and housing developments.
11 January – Four miners killed by a landslide at a gold mine in South Solok, West Sumatra.
12 January – Floods in South Kalimantan kill at least 15 people.
13 January – President Joko Widodo receives a shot of Sinovac, the first COVID-19 vaccination in Indonesia.
15 January – A 6.2 magnitude earthquake in Majene, West Sulawesi, kills 105 people.
21 January – American tourist Kristen Gray is deported from Indonesia after she promoted Bali as cheap and gay-friendly.
25 January – At least 10 people killed in a coal mine collapse in Tanah Bumbu, South Kalimantan.
6 February – A Sumatran tiger is shot dead after a landslide enabled its escape from a zoo in West Kalimantan.
8 February – Corrupt state attorney Pinangki Sirna Malasari sentenced to 10 years in jail for accepting bribes. Jakarta High Court later cuts her sentence to four years.
9 February – Five people killed by floods in Subang, West Java.
15 February – Nineteen people killed by a landslide in Nganjuk, East Java.
24 February – Five female students killed by a landslide at an Islamic boarding school in Pamekasan, East Java.
Six people killed by a landslide at an illegal gold mine in Parigi Moutong, Central Sulawesi.
25 February – A drunk policeman shoots dead three people, including an Army officer, when arguing over his bill at a sleazy bar in Cengkareng, West Jakarta. National Police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo then bans police from frequenting nightspots.
27 February – South Sulawesi Governor Nurdin Abdullah arrested for alleged corruption. Facing six years in jail, he later blames his subordinates.
5 March – Former military chief Moeldoko takes control of ex-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party to further strengthen the government’s dominant coalition. The Law Ministry later voids the takeover.
10 March – A bus crash in Subang, West Java, kills 27 people.
Two police generals are sentenced to jail for 4.5 and 3.5 years for accepting bribes from corrupt tycoon Djoko Tjandra.
15 March – Veteran politician Amien Rais warns the government is planning to increase the presidential term limit from two terms to three terms.
28 March – Suicide bombers kill themselves at a cathedral in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
31 March – A woman brandishing a gun is shot dead at National Police headquarters.
3 April – Seventeen sailors die when two vessels collide off Indramayu, West Java.
4 April – Cyclone Seroja hits East Nusa Tenggara, killing 181 people.
8 April – The United Nations accuses Indonesia of human rights violations in the development of a motorcycle racing circuit in Mandalika, Lombok.
10 April – Nine people killed by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake in Malang, East Java.
21 April – Navy submarine KRI Nanggala sinks off Bali, killing all 53 crew. The sub’s commander had earlier complained of poor maintenance.
29 April – Indonesia classifies Papuan separatists as terrorists.
7 May – The Supreme Court revokes a ministerial decree that had banned schools from forcing students to wear religious attire.
10 May – Eight people killed by a landslide at an illegal gold mine in South Solok, West Sumatra.
17 May – Indonesia temporarily suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine because of fears over side-effects.
22 May – Eight people drown when a ferry sinks off Sumatra’s Jambi province.
26 May – A truck crash in Malang, East Java, kills eight people.
27 May – Rizieq Shihab gets eight months in jail for violating COVID-19 health protocols.
9 June 2021 – Deputy regent of Sangihe Islands, Helmud Hontong, 58, dies on a flight from Denpasar to Makassar, after bleeding from his mouth. Environmentalists speculate he was poisoned because of his strident opposition to a planned gold mine in the area. Police insist he died from a disease.
17 June – Bank Indonesia prohibits the use of cryptocurrencies as a payment tool.
24 June – Rizieq Shihab sentenced to four years’ jail for lying about his positive COVID-19 test.
28 June – A passenger boat sinks off Bali, drowning 27 people.
1 July – President Joko Widodo orders a two-week lockdown in Java and Bali amid surging COVID-19 cases and oxygen shortages.
14 July – Indonesia tops the global list for the most new COVID-19 cases.
15 July – At least 21 fishermen drown during a storm off Pontianak, West Kalimantan.
Former maritime minister and Gerindra Party member Edhy Prabowo gets five years in jail for taking bribes.
2 August – Indonesia wins a gold medal in badminton at the Tokyo Olympics.
10 August – Indonesian Immigration officials assault a Nigerian diplomat, prompting a complaint from Nigeria.
21 August – Taliban takeover of Afghanistan prompts Indonesia to relocate its diplomatic mission from Kabul to Islamabad in Pakistan.
23 August – Former social affairs minister Juliari Batubara gets 12 years’ jail for embezzling COVID-19 aid.
24 August – YouTuber Muhammad Kace arrested for posting content considered insulting towards the Muslim prophet, Muhammad.
8 September – A fire at a grossly overcrowded jail in Tangerang kills 49 inmates.
17 September – Central Jakarta District Court convicts President Joko Widodo, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and other officials of failing to combat air pollution.
18 September – Terrorist leader Ali Kalora of the East Indonesia Mujahideen shot dead in Central Sulawesi.
24 September – Deputy speaker of parliament Azis Syamsuddin arrested for alleged corruption.
30 September – The KPK fires 57 of its staff, including top anti-corruption activists, because they failed a nationalism test, which critics claimed was part of an effort to weaken KPK.
4 October – Six people killed in an inter-tribal clash in Yahukimo regency, Papua.
8 October – World Anti-Doping Agency penalises Indonesia for non-compliance. The Indonesian flag cannot be raised at medal ceremonies, and Indonesia cannot host international sports competitions.
15 October – Eleven school students drown when cleaning a river in Ciamis, West Java.
17 October – Indonesia wins the 2020 Thomas Cup in men’s badminton but cannot raise the national flag.
21 October – Greenpeace reports that 20 percent of Indonesia’s oil palm is illegally grown in protected forests.
26 October – Jakarta’s long-delayed light rail line suffers a setback when two trains crash near Cibubur.
1 November – Tempo magazine reports two companies affiliated with senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan are involved in COVID-19 testing, prompting the minister to deny he personally profits from the tests.
4 November – Nine people killed by a flood in Batu, East Java.
25 November – The Constitutional Court rules the government’s omnibus law on Job Creation is unconstitutional.
28 November – Indonesia reports just one new death and 264 new cases of COVID-19, while the national death toll from the pandemic reaches 143,808. That’s about 215 deaths a day since the pandemic started – while the usual death rate is about 4,700 daily deaths, mostly from smoking, bad diet, and pollution. The government reimposes entry bans from certain countries in the hope of preventing the arrival of the omicron variant of COVID-19.