Nationalism turns eyes from Jakarta's failures: Indonesia's fragile state
Nationalism turns eyes from Jakarta's failures: Indonesia's fragile state
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Nationalism turns eyes from Jakarta's failures: Indonesia's fragile state

As the first direct presidential election in Indonesia approaches in 2004, politicians are appealing to nationalism the one sentiment guaranteed to distract attention from economic woes, corruption and government mismanagement. No more being bossed around by the International Monetary Fund, the nationalists say, no more sales of Indonesian assets to foreigners and no more coddling of separatists. The nationalist rhetoric has particularly ominous implications for Aceh and Papua, restive provinces on the western and eastern extremities of Indonesia. In both places, experiments in peaceful conflict resolution are under way. In Aceh, a cessation of hostilities agreement between the Indonesian government and rebels of the Free Aceh Movement was brokered by the Geneva-based nongovernmental organization, the Henri Dunant Center. Signed on Dec. 9, it has dramatically reduced violence in a province wracked by a 27-year-old conflict in which 600 people were killed last year alone.

The political endgame in Aceh remains unresolved, however, the Indonesian side sees autonomy as the final product while the rebels see it as merely a starting point for discussions. Here in Papua Province, the level of violence has never been as high or the guerrilla movement as well organized as in Aceh. A peaceful political campaign in support of independence is, if anything, stronger. A law granting Papuans special autonomy, passed in November 2001, offered an opportunity for Papuans to use locally generated revenues to strengthen indigenous capacity and build more representative institutions. The centerpiece of the effort was to be the Papuan People's Council, composed of tribal elders, religious leaders and women. But establishment of the council has been delayed repeatedly by Jakarta. Nationalism manipulated for political ends could wreck the experiments in Papua and Aceh. In January, President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia issued a decree dividing Papua into three provinces, in what appears to have been an attempt to throw the independence movement into disarray and create conflict over who would get the spoils from the new provincial posts. The decree put the Papua autonomy law into legal limbo, but the protests against it have been so great that the government now appears to be looking for a face-saving way to put decree on hold. Senior military and civilian officials in Jakarta are convinced that the Papuan autonomy law gave away too much, and they are looking for ways to weaken it. If territorial division does not work they may start looking for other options. Meanwhile, they are raising the specter of an international conspiracy to wrest Papua from Indonesia. Indonesia's defense minister warned in February that the separatist movements in both Aceh and Papua were drawing inspiration from East Timor on how to break away from Indonesia and that both restless provinces were relying on foreigners. He noted that the conflict in Aceh had already been internationalized through the involvement of Henri Dunant Center. The Papuan movement, he said, was using international contacts to spread the idea that the 1969 Act of Free Choice which led to Papua's incorporation into Indonesia was invalid.

In Aceh the military has made no secret of its unhappiness with the government's decision to pursue negotiations with the rebels, who have used the reduction in violence to more openly rally villagers to their pro-independence platform. A recent incident in central Aceh, in which angry residents attacked the local office of a monitoring unit set up under the cease-fire agreement, allegedly because it had failed to stop rebel extortion, needs thorough investigation. Central Aceh is the only part of Aceh where an army-backed militia has long been active. Local activists say that the attack was a military attempt to undermine the agreement. For the last three decades, the Indonesian government has had a standard arsenal of responses to separatism: military operations, attempts to coopt opponents, divide and rule tactics, and deluging the affected area with development funds. The first three tactics have been demonstrable failures. There is no need for the last more funds as both Aceh and Papua now have the authority to retain large percentages of locally generated revenues. Nationalist rhetoric is blinding Indonesia's political elite to the root causes of rebellion. Neither foreign intervention nor rebel perfidy are driving the demand for independence in Aceh and Papua. The problem, in large part, is appallingly bad Indonesian governance. Politicians in Jakarta should be putting less thought into how to crush separatists and more into how to train local cadres, punish corruption, extend social services, end discrimination, ensure justice and respect local culture. Meanwhile, they should let the experiments in conflict resolution proceed.

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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