‘Kristenisasi’ and intolerance: Another look
‘Kristenisasi’ and intolerance: Another look
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

‘Kristenisasi’ and intolerance: Another look

A recent International Crisis Group  (ICG) report entitled Christianization (Kristenisasi) and Intolerance has been misinterpreted by some commentators. The essence of the report was that the activities of some Pentecostal groups aimed at conversion of Muslims are exacerbating — not causing — interreligious tensions and are being used by hard-line Muslim organizations to stigmatize a much broader range of Christian activities, including church construction.

We wrote the report because we thought there had been insufficient attention to the Christian side of the intolerance problem, and that while there has concern expressed about “fundamentalist” Islamic groups that receive funding from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, there has been very little about “fundamentalist” Christian groups funded from abroad, mainly the US. The rise of religious intolerance in Indonesia has many aspects, and we listed evangelical proselytizing in Muslim strongholds as only one among six.

It is important to understand that not all Christian activity is proselytization (penginjilan), in terms of reaching out to congregations beyond one’s own, and not all proselytization is aimed at winning converts from Islam (pemurtadan). Just as some Muslim organizations like Jamaah Tabligh are aimed at making mainstream Muslims more devout, rather than seeking to convert Christians, much evangelical activity is aimed at mainstream Christians, not Muslims.

While it is true that some foreign-funded groups are looking for converts, it is important to note that there are also Muslim organizations like at-Turots undertaking dakwah in strongly Christian areas of Indonesia such as NTT and Papua.  Therefore, if there are moves to enforce the 1978 guidelines from the Religious Affairs Ministry that ban the followers of one religion from directing their activities at followers of another, then it is critical that the guidelines be enforced evenhandedly and through a formal process that is more than just a response to pressure from mass organizations.

The issue of church construction is a separate issue. Christians build churches for the same reason Muslims build mosque — to worship, not to convert. Whatever the resistance to HKBP activities, it is an ethnically-based congregation, and if it is targeted by anti-apostasy groups, they are knocking at the wrong door.  It is true that the Joint Ministerial Regulations of 2006 governing construction of houses of worship has discriminatory aspects, but it is important to note that the requirement of getting community support is one that was welcomed by non-Muslim communities in areas such as Bali and Flores.

So if Kristenisasi is not the main cause of rising religious intolerance — a phenomenon well documented by groups such as Lembaga Survei Indonesia — what is? There are several factors.

Since the end of the New Order there has been little effort on the part of the government to emphasize that six religions are equal under the constitution. Instead, what we see are large mosques built as part of government offices, as if separation between religion and state was narrowing; the intervention of the state in defining what is orthodox and what is deviant; and little effort to review local ordinances that discriminate against religious minorities.

Democratization has created more political space for organizations with all kinds of narrow political and religious agendas and neither the government nor civil society groups have paid sufficient attention to what constitutes “hate speech” or where the line should be drawn between freedom of expression and criminal incitement.

Particularly after the eruption of conflict in Ambon and Poso, anti-Christian sentiment has been growing among hard-line Islamic groups who see Christians as kafir and intrinsically a threat to Islam.

This attitude, fuelled by international developments such the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon and the burgeoning of hard-line websites and publications, is undermining religious relations.

Decentralization has brought with it the ability to influence local politicians, take part in campaigns, secure promises of aid. That’s all part of the democratic process, but hard-line organizations have proven to be far more strategic than their pro-pluralism counterparts in pushing their agendas at the local level. Local elections have also all too frequently produced weak leaders who all simply capitulate to the loudest voices.

The failure of the police to stand up to religious vigilantes encourages new confrontations. The most generous explanation for this failure is the lack of clear guidelines from their superiors on when to act or what constitutes a serious threat to public order. The FPI routinely warns the police and local officials three times that they are going to take action before they do so. There is no excuse for failing to prevent violence and intimidation.

There are several steps the government can take: The president should oversee the development of a national strategy for strengthening religious tolerance. He publicly condemns officials who fall asleep at meetings; he should publicly condemn — or replace — those who blame the victims instead of the perpetrators for violent attacks, or who welcome religious vigilantes as potential security partners. He should set a clear policy for his Cabinet that no one is to attend meetings or provide government funding to organizations that preach hatred, discrimination or intolerance or that have a record of attacks on religious gatherings.

He frequently refers in speeches to the need for tolerance and to pluralism as a cornerstone of democracy, but there is little effective follow-up. A presidential taskforce could be appointed to examine recent attacks on places of worship; review existing laws and regulations including the 1978 guidelines and the so-called Perda syariat and how they are applied; make recommendations for improving police performance; and make suggestions for how values of tolerance and pluralism can be inculcated from primary school levels on up.

Many of the solutions proposed by members of the House of Representatives and others involve new or amended laws: stronger provisions in the criminal code against attacks on religious gatherings or a new law on religious freedom and harmony. The problem is that laws are only as good as the people who enforce them, and until government decision-makers and law enforcers are more courageous about applying existing laws, then new ones are not going to solve the problem.

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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