Court in Sumatra 21 Aug sentenced Buddhist woman to eighteen months’ jail for complaining about level of noise from her neighbourhood mosque, in controversial verdict that added to concerns that country’s strict blasphemy laws are being used to violate religious freedoms and bully minorities; moderate Islamic organisation Nahdlatul Ulama among those criticising verdict. Indonesia and Philippines 10 Aug signed agreement to enhance defence cooperation including on fighting terrorism. Police chief 7 Aug said police had arrested almost 300 terror suspects since mid-May Surabaya terror attacks. Group proclaiming itself pro-Islamic State (ISIS) hackers threatened to attack govt to avenge jailing of “brothers” and crackdown on their social media activity. Military ordered soldiers to pursue Papua National Liberation Army, suspected of killing two soldiers in ambush in Puncak Jaya regency 20 Aug.
A dispute over a flag in Aceh is testing the limits of autonomy, irritating Indonesia’s central government, heightening ethnic tensions, reviving a campaign for the division of the province and raising fears of violence as the 2014 national elections approach.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono needs to act more firmly against institutions and officials that defy national court rulings or his inaction risks prolonging local conflicts.
The only measure likely to halt violence in Indonesia’s Papua province in the short term is a major overhaul of security policy.
Almost ten years after the 2002 Bali bombing, Indonesian extremists are weak and divided but still finding partners for new operations.
Election monitors should begin deployment to Aceh long before the 9 April election to deter intimidation.
Despite years of investment in community policing, the Indonesian police remain deeply distrusted by the people they are supposed to serve.
Lecture by Sidney Jones at International Policy Studies program of Stanford University, 5 December 2012.
Originally published in The Interpreter
Originally published in The Jakarta Globe
Originally published in Myanmar Times