From War on Terror to Plain War
From War on Terror to Plain War
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

From War on Terror to Plain War

The Bali bombings on 12 October were not Indonesia's first encounter with international terrorism, but no attack on this scale had happened before, and no Indonesian believed that peaceful Bali would ever be a target. There were ever more urgent warnings from the United States throughout September that al-Qaida operatives were planning attacks in Indonesia, but mostly they fell on deaf ears. Indonesians were very sceptical about the reality of the terrorist threat. The government neither wanted to be seen as capitulating to US pressure, nor to be viewed as returning to the Suharto-era arbitrary arrests of political suspects. There was concern that any move against hardline Muslims, such as the cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, would be politically divisive, when President Megawati Sukarnoputri knew that she needed support from Muslim parties if she was to win another term in 2004.

The atmosphere changed dramatically with the bombings: the cabinet approved a new anti-terrorism decree on 18 October and next day Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, head of the Jemaah Islamiyyah, was arrested. But the impact on Indonesia goes far beyond this. President Megawati has been seriously affected by the events. Before them she was widely regarded as unbeatable in the elections. That has changed. There is a now a serious effort to look for a suitable contender, both from within her Indonesian Democratic Struggle Party (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan or PDIP), and from outside. Her lack of leadership had already made PDIP members unhappy, but her performance after the bombings appalled many. Indonesians saw no effort to direct policy, or to force her cabinet members to speak with one voice. A senior PDIP parliamentarian told us that she had let the country drift, and even after the bombings, there was no sign of focus. She had become a liability: "It used to be that Megawati's name attracted people; now it repels them."

The Indonesian armed forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia or TNI), whose influence had waned with the fall of General Suharto in 1998, could be the major beneficiary of her weakness, even though General Endriartono Sutarto, the TNI commander, has said repeatedly that the military has no interest in a more prominent role; it could, in fact, benefit in three ways.

Since the police were separated from the armed forces in 1999, they have had primary responsibility for internal security. The army, particularly at local level, chafed as the police usurped its role and took the opportunities for graft and corruption that came with it. The poor performance of the police in handling serious violence has intensified the army's resentment. Nowhere was the incompetence of the police more obvious than in Bali, where officers failed to seal off the bombsite and allowed anyone to tramp through it with no concern for forensic evidence.

The new anti-terrorism regulation, adopted on 18 October, gives the military only a small formal role as part of a task force to create strategy to combat terrorism. But under the new law's looser rules of evidence, suspects can be detained on the basis of intelligence reports - and a great fear of the political reform movement in Jakarta is that the role of military intelligence will increase, without effective checks by civilian authorities. Both Sutarto and the army chief of staff, General Ryamizard Ryacudu, are pressing for a new national intelligence co-ordinating body. The need for better co-ordination is not disputed; the concern is how the intelligence will be used.

Indonesians committed to military reform consider that a gradual elimination of the territorial command structure, through which the army has posts at provincial, district, and subdistrict levels, is critical in getting the army out of politics. The structure brings direct influence over local politics: the military commander is near-equal, and sometimes superior, to the civilian executive in local decision-making. When Suharto resigned in 1998, advocates of military reform, even within the army, agreed that the territorial structure had to go.

Over the last two years there has been steady retreat from that position, because of communal, ethnic and separatist violence, and the importance of local commands as a source of revenue for military operations. New regional commands were created in the Moluccas (Maluku in Indonesian) in 2000 and in Aceh in 2001. After Bali, more could follow, and the army has explicitly advocated this so it can be "closer to the people". Since there is insecurity among ordinary Indonesians after the bombings and a new nostalgia for the Suharto era, the army might find political support for the move. This would be a serious blow to political reform and civilian supremacy in a democratising government.

Western governments, whose citizens or installations could again be targeted by al-Qaida, desperately want an effective partner in the war on terror, which could lead to increased funding and training of the TNI. But there are great pitfalls to this: the army is still a highly politicised organisation, and it leaks both information and weapons. Rebel movements still get most of their arms from corrupt soldiers (and police), and the extent of the army's involvement with the criminal world is only slowly emerging. Enforcement of discipline is extremely weak: an attack by soldiers in September on a police post in North Sumatra, in which a ton and a half of marijuana disappeared, is just one of TNI's smaller problems. Trials of army officers for crimes against humanity in East Timor have been farcical, and have undermined, rather than strengthened, any prospect of accountability for soldiers responsible for serious crimes.

The threat of terrorism is real, yet only a few Muslims are radicals, and even fewer advocate violence. The best-known radical groups - Laskar Jihad, Front Pembela Islam (FPI, Islamic Defenders Front) and the Jemaah Islamiyyah networks - have problems, but not all as a result of the bombings. And the new heightened security may not have much of an impact on radical Islam. Most of these groups are convinced, as are many other people in Indonesia, that the US government planned the Bali attack to bully countries previously reluctant to join its anti-terrorist operations to support a war on Iraq. So reactions against the bombings are not likely to lead to a change in the extent or content of Islamic radicalism in Indonesia.

Who are the Muslim radicals?

The Jemaah Islamiyyah is the only network with significant ties to international terrorism, but it seems to be an elusive coalition of underground groups, rather than a single organisation that can be easily banned or broken up. The danger it poses is unlikely to be much affected by the arrest of Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, one of its alleged leaders, particularly when the man thought to be its operational commander, Riduan Isamuddin, alias Hambali, remains at large.

Laskar Jihad is a militia based in Yogyakarta, known for its violence in the Moluccas and Poso (Central Sulawesi). It was formally disbanded a week before the bombings, a decision announced over Laskar Jihad radio in Ambon on 15 October; departures began the next day. The leader of Laskar Jihad, Ja'far Umar Thalib, is currently on trial for incitement after a violent attack in Ambon in April. One source said Laskar Jihad was torn by internal dissent, short of funds and infiltrated by intelligence. The disbanding of Laskar Jihad is good news for Ambon and Poso, but what will happen to young men recruited locally, and where are the weapons it had?

The Front Pembela Islam (FPI) is known for smashing nightclubs and discotheques and any other places it judges to be dens of iniquity. But most of its members are young thugs with a few Islamic leaders, headed by a cleric named Habib Rizieq, who was detained on 16 October. He was charged with incitement connected with an FPI raid in Jakarta on 4 October; his arrest warrant seems to have been issued before the bombing.

All three organisations used violence, but had fundamental ideological differences. Laskar Jihad and FPI believed that it was forbidden under Islamic law to revolt against a Muslim government, no matter how repressive or wayward. Laskar Jihad was ultra-nationalist, committed to Indonesia's territorial integrity and convinced its mission was to fight Christian separatists because the security forces were incapable of doing it. But Abu Bakar Ba'asyir and the men of the Jemaah Islamiyyah believe that jihad against enemies of Islam is obligatory, even if those enemies are Muslim, and that the only acceptable government is a restoration of the caliphate.

It is too early to assess the economic impact of the bombings, but it will obviously be serious. In the two days after, the central bank had to buy up millions of dollarsworth of rupiahs to prevent the currency's value from plummeting. That staved off a crash, but the bigger issue is the loss of jobs, and the general sense of fear, particularly for foreign companies. As an executive noted, there was not much new investment coming in, and the real question was whether businesses already here would leave. Most were determined to stay, despite non-essential diplomatic staff and dependents being ordered home

Bali is likely to be deeply scarred anyway, economically and socially. Kuta, the centre of the tourist district, is already a ghost town. Within a week of the bombing, the occupancy of hotels dropped from 90% to 27%. The service sector will suffer, and so will exports, as many tourists were small-scale exporters buying handicrafts to retail abroad. These sales accounted for almost half of Balinese exports, according to the local press. Local officials expect the loss of 150,000 jobs and perhaps $20m in tax revenues. Most big foreign tourist agencies have put travel to Bali on hold, and it will take a long time for the industry to recover.

Bali may see worsening communal relations with migrants from other parts of Indonesia, although local leaders are doing their best to ensure this does not happen. Anti-migrant sentiment has been building for years, and because many of the migrants are Muslim, there was a fear that the local Balinese civilian security groups, pecalang, might take their anger out on non-Balinese.

The bombings have temporarily displaced Indonesia's other problems: rebellion in Aceh and Papua, and sectarian conflict in Maluku and Poso, with hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people. And there are also problems of decentralisation. But every response of the Megawati government to the bombings will affect its ability to handle other challenges. After initial arrests of Jemaah Islamiyyah suspects the government could make suspected Acehnese guerrillas the next target under the new laws.

The government will have to address the radical Muslim groups not merely by cracking down on them, but by providing alternatives to the way of life they offer. This is not just an economic question, since many of the recruits come from the educated middle class as well as from the poor. If the government does not address the demobilisation of groups like Laskar Jihad, which may be temporary, it may face worse problems in the future. The Indonesian government was already in serious trouble on 12 October: the events in Bali have deepened that.

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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