Economic Crunch Ups Security Risks
Economic Crunch Ups Security Risks
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Economic Crunch Ups Security Risks

Security problems in Indonesia in 2009 are likely to stem from the confluence of a sharp economic downturn with election year politics. Aceh in particular is a place to watch in the lead-up to the April polls, as the potential for localized outbreaks of violence is high. Economic hardship could also lead to a rise in anti-migrant sentiment, including in former conflict areas. 

In Papua, while the new year will certainly see the occasional pro-independence demonstration and its suppression by security forces, the bigger issues are likely to be tension over development projects that bring in more non-Papuan Indonesians, and the apparently unstoppable carving up of Papua into smaller and smaller districts, sub-districts and villages, many of them drawn along ethnic lines.

Communal tensions remain an issue in many parts of the country; the passage of the anti-pornography law did not help. The likelihood of a terrorist attack seems low but cannot be ruled out as long as important fugitives remain at large, contacts with jihadis elsewhere continue, and Indonesians in Mindanao show an interest in returning home.

The international financial crisis is expected to hit home in the first quarter of 2009, with layoffs, already on the rise, increasing sharply in everything from the manufacturing to the plantation sector. Large demonstrations of laid-off workers can be manipulated by political parties anxious to discredit the current government.

We saw last June how easily a protest at the Indonesian parliament against fuel price hikes turned violent; the stakes will be higher as the elections get closer and the money for rent-a-mobs starts flowing freely in urban centers like Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya and Makassar.

The elections could be particularly fraught in Aceh. Distrust between GAM and the military is higher than it has been at any time since the Helsinki agreement; the appointment last July of a new regional military commander from Kopassus has exacerbated it. Influential groups within the military and intelligence agencies believe that GAM is continuing to press a pro-independence agenda through political participation rather than armed struggle.

They may be concerned enough about the likely victory of Partai Aceh, the GAM party, in many of the local legislative races to take counter-measures: throw political support to groups considered pro-Jakarta; support GAM splinters, in the interest of sowing division; or look for ways to discredit individual GAM leaders.

At the same time, rifts within GAM are taking place anyway, without external help. Just as many violent incidents in 2008 have been the result of intra-GAM disputes, some of them business-related, 2009 is likely to see more of the same. High unemployment among ex-combatants will also keep crime levels up.

Anti-migrant sentiment could intensify with economic hardship, with locals turning migrants from elsewhere in Indonesia into scapegoats. In Maluku, the Butonese could be targets, for example. A worrying report from Banten in early December noted that laid-off workers would be offered an opportunity to participate in the government transmigration program.

Given the social problems this program has generated in the past, governments at both the local and national level should think twice before seeing it as the answer to economic problems.

Papua poses a particular dilemma in this regard. The urgent need is for expansion of social services, particularly education and health, and development of human resources, including in public administration. The pemekaran process has already spread qualified Papuan public servants too thinly and opened up more positions for migrants. But it is the planned expansion of agro-industry that could really tip the balance.

In August it was announced that the bin Laden family firm would invest US$4.3 billion in turning 500,000 hectares of land into rice paddied in the Merauke area -- and Merauke city is one where migrants already outnumber indigenous Papuans.

Similarly grandiose plans for palm oil expansion were also on the books, but these may be put on hold with the fall of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) prices worldwide. Virtually any major industrial investment, however, will bring more migrants in its wake.

The security issue arises when anti-migrant sentiment takes on a communal dimension, with most of the migrants Muslim and the indigenous population overwhelmingly Christian. Many Papuans already feel like second-class citizens; many also fear a process of "Islamisation". If they become further marginalized by these mega-investments, anger toward the migrants, the government in Jakarta, or both could rise.

Communal relations more generally continue to be a problem in Indonesia. In 2008 the issues were the Ahmadiyah decree; the pornography bill; the Minister of Health's fulminations about the West, supported by groups like Hizbut Tahrir; the influence of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI); and ongoing threats against churches, particularly in West Java -- where aggressive Christian proselytizing has contributed to the problem. Clashes like the one at Monas on 1 June are not just possible in 2009 but likely.

The government needs to do better in ensuring that acts of violence are punished, and better still, prevented. But just as importantly, it needs to firmly and publicly assert the importance of religious tolerance, and not just by hosting expensive interfaith talkfests.

Sri Mulyani has shown how one committed reformer can bring about sweeping changes in a ministry. If the government is serious about religious tolerance, it will need to similarly overhaul the ministries of education and religious affairs and start thinking about how to instill this principle from kindergarten on up.

Finally, there is the issue of terrorism. Events in Mumbai in late November were a sobering reminder that some groups remain committed to a global war involving indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Despite emotions raised by the executions of the Bali bombers, the threat of a major attack in Indonesia seems low, but it has not vanished.

Noordin Mohamed Top remains at large; so does Reno, the man who escaped at the time Azhari was shot in Malang. Several of the Javanese JI members responsible for masterminding attacks in Poso fled during police operations in January 2007 and have not been seen since.

The Singaporean JI leader, Mas Selamat Kastari, has not been caught, and a whole contingent of combat-hardened JI, KOMPAK and Darul Islam members continues to fight in Mindanao. Indonesian extremists seem content for the moment to wage "jihad by the pen" rather than by attacks, but their commitment to the principle of military preparedness remains, as does the contact of some with counterparts outside Indonesia.

Economic crisis by itself is not likely to lead to more recruits for these groups; poverty has not been the cause of radicalization in the past, and one group largely absent from JI's ranks is the urban poor. But by-products of an economic downturn, such as attacks on Muslim migrants, could change the picture very quickly.

Overall, then, 2009 is likely to be a tough year. More than ever, political leaders can make a difference -- and so can Indonesian voters.

Op-Ed / Asia

Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force

My four year-old daughter recently came home from her Jakarta kindergarten with a story about a visit to the school from the head of our local police station. 'If there is a robber and he's running away, the policeman will pull out his gun, fire in the air, and if he doesn't stop then he will shoot him in the leg', she recounted breathlessly.

I have spent 25 years working in and around conflict zones, including more than a decade in Indonesia. My reaction might not have been that of the average parent. 'That', I replied, 'is a violation of Perkap Number 8.' Needless to say, my reference to Police Regulation Number 8 of 2009 regarding Implementation of Human Rights Principles and Standards in the Discharge of Duties of the Indonesian National Police was lost on her. She thought the visit was great.

I had recalled Perkap 8 when re-reading the Hansard of the recent sparring between Australian Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr and Victoria Greens Senator Richard Di Natale over the police shooting of protesters in Papua. But it is not just in Papua where questionable use of deadly force by the Indonesian National Police (INP) takes place. It happens across the country. And this was what Perkap 8 was put in place to prevent.

Article 47 of Perkap 8 says that 'the use of firearms shall be allowed only if strictly necessary to preserve human life' and 'firearms may only be used by officers: a. when facing extraordinary circumstances; b. for self defense against threat of death and/or serious injury; c. for the defense of others against threat of death and/or serious injury.' This is Indonesian law, taken from the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and this is what should be used to assess police actions, wherever in the country they occur.

The fatal shooting on 14 June 2012 of Mako Tabuni, deputy head of the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB), in Jayapura, capital of Papua province, made Senate Estimates in 2012. The shooting of three protesters in Sorong on 30 April 2013, West Papua province, was mentioned in the testy 5 June 2013 exchanges between Senators Carr and Di Natale. You can watch it above.

In the first incident, detectives shot a suspect in the leg as he was running away and then left him to die in a hospital allegedly without making any effort to treat his wounds. In the second, police claim they were threatened by armed KNPB activists. Without more information it is difficult to judge if their response was disproportionate. Police always say they are shooting in self-defense, but it has become such a common excuse that it has started to lose its plausibility.

Cases outside Papua do not garner much attention in Australia, but lethal shootings happen all the time. On 1 September 2011 seven villagers were killed during a rowdy protest against police brutality in the Central Sulawesi district of Buol, a place so obscure even most Indonesians cannot find it on a map.

On 7 March 2013, soldiers burned down a police station in Baturaja, South Sumatra, after their off-duty comrade, First Private Heru Oktavianus, was shot dead by a police officer while speeding away from a traffic violation.

On 8 May 2013 police in Java killed six suspected terrorists in a series of raids. The police usually claim the suspects were armed and resisted arrest. But it is not always true, and many could have almost certainly been captured alive.

Ordinary criminals are shot with distressing frequency, as my daughter's visitor suggests, without any outcry at home or abroad.

Perkap 8 was signed by the then police chief Sutanto, a real reformer. It has not gotten very far. One foreign police officer working on a bilateral community policing program in a large metropolitan command told me he had once seen a copy of the Perkap on the chief's desk but suspected it had been disseminated no further.

Even when progressive regulations or orders are issued and disseminated, they are not always followed. In October 2012, the police chief of Papua, Tito Karnavian, former head of the anti-terrorism unit Detachment 88 (Densus 88), announced that he had banned police from using live ammunition when handling demonstrations in the region. This was progress and it was implemented for some demos, but the deaths in the Sorong case suggest live ammunition was used.

As Article 46 of Perkap 8 says, 'all officers must be trained in the use of power, equipment and firearms that can be used in applying force' and 'must be trained in non-violent techniques and methods.' Training almost 400,000 officers across 33 provinces is a logistical challenge, though it might be a good idea to start with elite units such as Densus 88 or personnel in the Papua provinces.

The new national head of the INP, about to be appointed, might breathe new life into two reforms already in place: implementation of Perkap 8 and Chief Sutanto's other landmark regulation on community policing, Perkap 7. The INP is a very hierarchical organisation that does follow firm orders from above. While its size makes complex reform difficult, its hierarchical nature makes implementing existing regulations with firm orders easier.

The first duty of the incoming INP chief, who reports directly to the president, will be to secure the 2014 elections. Making sure those deployed to safeguard this 'festival of democracy' are properly trained and equipped to use non-lethal force will be an important first step. After a new head of state is elected, he or she should consider issuing a directive that would see Perkap 8 properly implemented. The use of less deadly force could even be politically popular in some parts.

Outside help may also be needed, and this is where Australia comes in. A few decades back, the Victorian state police had a problem of using too much deadly force and created Project Beacon to try to rectify it. They changed the way they thought about the problem, overhauled training, and gave officers on the beat new tools, like pepper spray. Foreign assistance along these lines could help the INP improve performance and increase accountability. Crisis Group has long argued that the INP needs better orders, training, and equipment for the use of non-deadly force.

If the INP is to be more the service it aspires to be rather than the force it is, it needs to shed its military mindset, hold serious post-operation reviews after each fatal incident, and decrease reliance on shooting first and asking questions later, regardless of whether officers are following locally accepted standard procedure. When the time comes and the INP is ready to carry forward the reform of Perkap 8, Australia should be there to help.

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