Expelled From Indonesia
Expelled From Indonesia
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Expelled From Indonesia

On Sunday morning, my colleague from the International Crisis Group and I left Jakarta, expelled, apparently for being a threat to Indonesia's security and damaging its image abroad.

One Indonesian friend said that it was a testament to how far Indonesia has moved from its authoritarian past that we lasted as long as we did. She may be right. When I joined ICG's Jakarta office in 2002, after decades of working on human rights in Indonesia, I thought it was a miracle that I got a residence permit at all.

Over time, I got so used to the post-Suharto political space that I felt no inhibitions about writing and speaking on topics that would have been taboo six years ago, including the dynamics of the conflicts in Aceh and Papua, communal tensions, and radical Islamic movements. ICG reports were picked up by the local print and broadcast media and fed into a lively public debate, unthinkable a short while ago.

Our expulsion doesn't presage a return to dictatorial controls. The fact that a leading Jakarta daily could publish a cartoon on its front page of me with my mouth taped shut is only one indication that sardonic commentary on government actions is here to stay. If we didn't get a fair hearing from the National Intelligence Agency known as BIN, which set this whole train of events in motion, we certainly got one in the Indonesian press. Another newspaper even published a comic strip showing the head of that agency as the evil villain, going back into his cave after ordering us out.

But our expulsion does expose some troubling aspects of today's Indonesia. We clearly crossed an invisible limit in terms of what was acceptable to say or investigate. If we can be branded a security threat as a result, so can many other organizations, domestic and international, which challenge or inadvertently stumble against powerful political and economic interests.

Some officials in the Indonesian government obviously feel more comfortable with the old system than with the new; what they don't realize is that the old system is gone for good. BIN officials, for example, gave different explanations of our sins to different audiences behind closed doors. We were variously said to have spread slander about Aceh and Papua, sold information abroad, and pitted the army against Islam. They conveyed nothing to us directly.

But word leaked out, and when it did, we sought -- and got -- a hearing with a key parliamentary committee and were able to challenge the accusations through the press. It didn't stop our deportation, but it does suggest that there are beginning to be checks on the use of power.

Our expulsion is also symptomatic of what seems to be a growing suspicion of foreigners, linked to a strong sense of Indonesian nationalism. When BIN presented its case against ICG to an Indonesian parliamentary committee, the discussion reportedly turned to how deporting us was an appropriate response to the indignities suffered by Indonesian citizens at the hands of American and Australian immigration authorities.

Shortly after ICG's difficulties exploded in the local press, I was invited to a discussion by the international relations division of the Indonesian Muslim Students organization. Almost all the questions during the course of that lively session focused on the malicious intent of Westerners, either to do to Papua what they did to East Timor, to weaken Indonesia through support for separatist movements more generally, or to undermine Islam through the war on terror.

One young man asked why so many foreigners were doing research on Indonesia, as though they must have some evil purpose in doing so. I asked him in return how many Indonesians were studying in Australia, the U.S. and Europe, and drew applause as if I'd scored a point. No question that conspiracy theories in Indonesia run rampant, but they seem to be reflective less of some innate hostility than of a lack of information to challenge widespread rumor mongering.

A third source of concern is what our expulsion reveals about the sensitivity of the Aceh and Papua issues. Both areas have armed guerrilla movements and strong pro-independence sentiment. ICG has been studiously neutral in reporting on the conflicts there, not supporting independence. If anything, we have suggested that a properly conceived and implemented autonomy package could be the way forward. That stance alone has brought protests from the Acehnese rebel movement GAM, as has our repeated reference to GAM's own abuses.

But we have also said that failure to implement autonomy in any meaningful way has contributed to the ongoing conflict and that, in both places, Jakarta was losing the battle for hearts and minds. We have also suggested, based on detailed investigation, that there are people within the political elite who have strong economic interests in both places. Does this then make us a threat to Indonesian security? The larger threat comes from closing down a debate on the sources of these conflicts. A debate which, if allowed to continue, could throw up creative ideas for how to resolve them.

Finally, Indonesia is in election mode, with the first round of presidential elections scheduled for July 5. The moves against ICG began in late 2003, but everything has come to a head just as the presidential campaign gets underway. On the one hand, we are accused of being potentially disruptive of the democratic process. On the other hand, our expulsion has become so politicized that it's difficult to know whether it would have happened anyway, given the cumulative impact of our reports, or whether a decision was made somewhere that deporting us could be used politically to play into a nationalist agenda.

When the issue of ICG's imminent expulsion first broke, an official accused me of seeking martyrdom through publicity. The BIN director said I was the kind of person the Indonesian people don't like. But I was deluged with messages of support from across the country from people who wanted the issues we raised to be out in the open. We may now be in temporary exile. But ironically, it's the reaction to our expulsion that has made us optimistic about the prospects for Indonesian democracy.

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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