Terror's Aftermath in Indonesia
Terror's Aftermath in Indonesia
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Terror's Aftermath in Indonesia

Indonesia After Sept. 11, there was a sense among Americans that the country had to come together for comfort, for protection and for rebuilding. The reaction in Indonesia to the Bali bombings has been very different, and it speaks to the lack of faith that Indonesians have in their own government. It also suggests that the United States and other nations with a significant presence in Indonesia should redouble efforts to strengthen political institutions here and demand accountability from government. Without more popular support, the war on terror here is not going to be won.

In Bali itself, the overwhelming response has been anger at the army and police. ''They tricked us into thinking Bali was safe, and look what happened,'' one caller said on a local talk show. If distrust of security forces is generally high around the country, it took a quantum leap in Bali after Saturday night. Policemen in Indonesia stand no chance of being turned into heroes the way New York's Finest were; the zero credibility of the two institutions on the front lines of combating terrorism does not make the government's task any easier.

In Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, where a separatist rebellion has resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, a different kind of distrust was voiced. ''It's appalling that a civilian site was targeted,'' a local lawyer told me. ''But it's important not to jump to conclusions about who was involved.''

He remarked that the army tends to blame Acehnese whenever a bomb goes off. He also cited the example of a local army commander who suggested Acehnese rebels were behind a recent attack in North Sumatra when it was clear from the beginning that the commander's own soldiers were responsible.

It used to be that if you wanted to bring down a business rival, a political opponent or an obstreperous neighbor, you could just spread the rumor that he was a Communist, and he would become an instant pariah. Indonesians are so jaded by political labeling that they are not apt to believe official statements about who may have been involved in the Bali attack.

In a town near Poso, Sulawesi, where a communal conflict between Muslims and Christians has raged for the last two years, a university lecturer said his colleagues were saying that the Bali blast showed the incompetence of civilian government. ''It's very worrisome: they want Suharto back,'' he told me, referring to the former president. I got the same reaction Monday in a crowded minivan going from Pare-pare to Makassar in Sulawesi, a stronghold of the former ruling party, Golkar. ''Whatever you say about Suharto, at least we felt safe,'' one passenger said.

With the assumption widespread that a Muslim organization is behind the bombing, there is now real alarm about escalating ethnic and religious violence and the government's ability to handle it. In Indonesia, there has been very little rallying around the president, as there was in the United States last year. On the contrary, if radio talk shows, politicians' statements and informal conversations are any guide, President Megawati Sukarnoputri's standing seems to have plummeted.

A Jakarta newspaper magnate had another reaction. In a televised discussion, he warned that the government would be making a serious mistake if it made fighting terrorism its main objective, at the expense of legal reform and ending corruption. Neither he nor the passengers in the minivan had any confidence in their government, but for very different reasons.

Extraordinary as this seems in the West, many Indonesians are convinced that the United States sponsored the Bali bombing in order to convince reluctant governments to join its war on terror and support an attack on Iraq. Hard-line Muslims like Abu Bakar Bashir -- said to be the head of Jemaah Islamiyah -- are not the only ones making this claim. The Bush administration's pressure on Indonesia to take action against Muslim terrorists, its policies in the Middle East and the presence of American troops in the Philippines' Muslim South have all fueled suspicions in conservative circles that Washington has an anti-Muslim agenda. Some Indonesians seem to believe that the only organization with the capacity to carry out such a devastating attack is the American government.

''American troops want to establish a presence in Indonesia,'' one commentator said on a television panel Monday night. ''They'll establish a foothold by offering to help out with the investigation in Bali, and then we'll see the influx.'' If some in Washington think that the Bali blast will convert all skeptics to the need for more stringent antiterrorism measures, they'll need to reconsider.

In Jakarta, there has been an outpouring of sympathy for the foreigners killed, particularly for the many Australians who died. At the same time, if foreigners are worried about coming to Indonesia now, some Indonesians are also worried about having them in their midst.

Indonesia needs better governance at least as much as it needs improved security. The risk is high that Jakarta's reaction to the Bali bombing will be not only ineffective but counterproductive. Many advocates of political reform in Jakarta have expressed fear over the last two days that new antiterrorism legislation -- now being drafted by the Megawati government -- will be an Indonesian version of the draconian internal security laws used in Singapore and Malaysia.

This government has never lacked the laws to go after people reasonably suspected of planning criminal acts. But it has lacked the will to use them. To give the army and police more powers in a country widely castigated for its corrupt legal system and weak political institutions is to invite abuse.

On Oct. 27, the Consultative Group on Indonesia -- the main consortium of donor countries, led by the World Bank -- will hold its annual meeting to discuss how much aid to give to Indonesia. The group's meeting could send a powerful message about international confidence in Indonesia. Donors will be sympathetic to the need to bolster an already weak economy further devastated by the bombing. Given what ordinary Indonesians are saying about their own lack of confidence, however, the donors would do well to put governance at the top of their agenda.

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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