Australian tourist 'thieves' do walk of shame in Indonesia

Ruth Doherty
Australian tourist 'thieves' do walk of shame in Indonesia
Australian tourist 'thieves' do walk of shame in Indonesia

A pair of Australian tourists accused of stealing a bike have been paraded through the streets of an Indonesian island with signs around their necks publicly shaming them.

The male and female wore signs that read: "I AM THIEVE. DON'T DO WHAT I DID...!!!" as they walked through the streets of Gili Trawangan with local security in Gili Trawangan island, off Lombok.

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It's reported that they were caught on CCTV stealing a bicycle at around 1pm on Saturday.

A local working at a dive shop told the Guardian that as the island was so small, there was no police presence and that residents had formed a local security force that was governed by police on the mainland, who enforce the shaming penalty to discourage others from stealing.

He added that it happened to anyone stealing, including locals as well as tourists.

After the walk of shame, the thieves are then banned from the island.

Images of the incident were shared on an official Facebook page for the Gili islands.

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There were a host of different reactions to the picture on Facebook.

Many questioned the couple's rights and whether it was deserved. One man wrote: "Did they steal a bike?? Is it necessary?? Isn't it that they have rights???

"They are being punished but is it deserved?? Or is it all because they were Caucasian??"

One commented: "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 local replied: "A lot of locals make a living out of bike rental. They are dependent from it and many people need that money to support their families.

"If you take it without paying, that is also a form of stealing. Same like staying somewhere and running away without paying for your accommodation.
That is out of order and you don't do that.

And one woman had no sympathy and 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. We are taught this as a small child. Their punishment may seem harsh but in other countries they'd have a hand cut off for stealing or face stoning. Would they have tried to steal a bike in Saudi? I doubt that. We still do public shaming but in our country it's called the media, so why all the fuss about this!"

Many see the practice of the walk of shame as a reason the island has a low crime rate and is generally peaceful and safe.

With regards to the accused rights, and whether they are indeed guilty, a local source told the BBC that "even the innocent might be tempted to opt for public humiliation rather than face formal charges under the Indonesian justice system, which is sometimes criticised for corruption and a lack of transparency".

Gili Trawangan is the largest and most developed of the three Gili Islands, off the coast of Lombok, situated about 25 miles east of Bali.