The Indonesians collecting coins for Tony Abbott

An Indonesian man pours coins from his hands as a 'donation' to Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Jakarta on 22 February. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is at the centre of the latest online spat with Indonesia

Why are people in Indonesia collecting coins for Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott?

Many Indonesians are seething with anger after Mr Abbott said they should remember the help his country gave after the 2004 tsunami, by sparing two Australian men on death row in Bali.

He said Australia would be "grievously let down" if the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, sentenced to death in 2006 for leading a drug trafficking group dubbed the Bali Nine, went ahead.

The prime minister has since clarified that he was not expecting a return of the favour and was merely emphasising good bilateral ties, but this is being seen as another disastrous turn to the tussle over the executions. Last week, BBC Trending reported about the backlash in Indonesia after a social media campaign urged Australians to boycott the holiday destination of Bali.

This time around, Indonesians have responded to the Australian leader's comments by organising street drives to collect coins to "return" the A$1bn ($0.78bn: £0.5bn) given as aid after a tsunami left around 200,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia.

The campaign first emerged as a hashtag, #KoinUntukAustralia, or Coins for Australia, in Aceh, close to the epicentre of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami. On Twitter and Facebook, people upset with the comments posted pictures of small change to show that Australia could keep its money. The hashtag has now received more than 65,000 mentions in the last five days.

"Really bad attitude @TonyAbbottMHR take back your aid! We'll throw your coins back!," tweeted an Indonesian, while another said, "Drugs broke our generation! And you still use human rights pretext for death penalty for those who broke our generation?"

Image copyright Twitter/satriaandy
Image copyright Twitter/rastajovi

"I think the remarks just show how the Australian government thinks it can dictate or tells other countries what to do after giving them aid. And if the aid is such a big deal for Abbott, he can have it back," says Mustaqim Adamrah, a Jakarta-based journalist who was among the first to tweet a picture of coins with the hashtag.

Now the message has gained pace offline as well. The Association of Indonesian Muslim University Students in Aceh and other local organisations are actually collecting coins for Abbott, according to reports. In the capital, a coalition of community groups called the Koalisi Pro Indonesia has staged a rally to protest against Abbott's remarks.

Several pages and groups have also been set up on Facebook - one of them is named 'Coin For Insincerity - Payback'.

In Australia, the reactions to the hashtag has been mixed. Some of them apologised for Abbott's comments, while others felt that the spotlight has moved away from the convicts on death row. "Dear Aceh, it is important that you understand that Abbott does not speak for all Australians. Aid money = no strings," read one tweet, while another said, "Immense sadness that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have become pawns in appalling international relations."

Blog by Samiha Nettikkara

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