Watch Out for More Surprises in Indonesia
Watch Out for More Surprises in Indonesia
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Watch Out for More Surprises in Indonesia

Every year Indonesia manages to defy conventional wisdom. Who foresaw the 1999 decision to allow a referendum on East Timor? The 2002 Bali bombings? The 2005 Aceh peace agreement? In this huge country with a flourishing democracy and a multitude of problems, the question is what surprises 2007 has in store.

Aceh may be the most interesting place to watch. We could see one of the most interesting experiments in local governance begin to unfold under Irwandi Yusuf, the former rebel and political prisoner elected governor last December. Or we could see security forces try to undermine GAM's political strength as all eyes move toward parliamentary elections in 2009. Or we could see the emergence of more splits in GAM as it struggles with moving from armed opposition to governing. Best bet: a little of all three, with Irwandi on balance doing better as governor than his predecessors but constrained by the institutions around him from dramatic innovations.

Don't expect major breakthroughs on Papua, at least in terms of relations with Jakarta. In many ways, the fates of Papua and Aceh have become intertwined, and an Indonesian president who expends political capital on Aceh has less to spend on Papua. GAM's electoral success in Aceh may strengthen the determination of Jakarta-based politicians to ensure that Papuan nationalists never get the chance to have their own political party. Likewise, the Yudhoyono government's willingness to allow international involvement in a peace settlement in Aceh almost guarantees that it will take a harder line on foreigners, including NGOs, in Papua.

Since none of the problems that led to violence in Papua in 2006 have been resolved, it is safe to predict more of the same: pro-independence demonstrations; heavy-handed police retaliation; dysfunctional court proceedings; ethnic clashes; and struggles over resources. But experiments in governance are taking place there, too, and the real shocker - not impossible - would be good news: visible benefits from a plan pushed by the popular new governor to get funds directly to every village in Papua.

In terms of terrorism, the biggest surprise for 2007 would be no attack at all. It is safer to assume that some form of violence will take place, even if no major bombing occurred in 2006. That attack is as likely to involve an unknown group as it is Noordin Mohammed Top, the fugitive mastermind of the last three major terrorist bombings.

Understanding that overall, terrorist groups and their support networks continue to weaken, we should look for more efforts along the lines of the would-be suicide bombing of an A&W restaurant, an American fast-food chain, in Jakarta last October 9. Poorly planned and executed, that attack caused no casualties except to the bomber himself, and only minimal damage to the restaurant. But it was an indication that the ideology of do-it-yourself jihadism had reached a wider audience. That ideology, taught in manuals found among the possessions of the men who planned the second Bali bombings, stresses the need to go it alone to wage war on the enemies of Islam if circumstances make it too difficult or dangerous to work within a larger organisation. Such exhortations are available on websites, CDs, and printed materials, all of which have a wide readership. The A&W bomber, not a member of any known jihadist organisation, was a rank amateur, but others exposed to the same material could produce more lethal results.

We should also anticipate methods other than bombing. Targeted assassinations have been common in Poso, Central Sulawesi, the site of intense communal conflict in 2000-2001 and of sporadic violence since. The shooting last October of a well-known Protestant minister, Pastor Kongkoli, probably by a JI-affiliated group, was only the most recent example. If the interpretation of the Poso conflict, in the eyes of local jihadists, changes from Muslims v local Christians to Muslims v the police, we could see an effort to export the methodology of targeted killings to Java.

A surprise devoutly to be wished for but unlikely to happen would be abolition of the death penalty. Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra could face execution - and instant martyrdom in the eyes of their followers - in 2007. Their deaths would only further the way in which capital punishment has become part of a horrible political calculus in Indonesia. Three Christians were executed in late 2006 for the killing of Muslims in Poso. To prove justice is blind, Indonesian officials could proceed with the executions of the Bali bombers. And if those take place, the executions of Australians convicted for drug trafficking could be next, just to show that the government can stand up to outside pressure. Rather than play with lives, or be perceived as so doing, the government should cease using the death penalty altogether. The best we can hope for may be that 2007 will see efforts by NGOs to bring a test case against capital punishment before the Constitutional Court.

We could see former president Soeharto die during 2007, with a toss-up as to whether the bigger reaction will be nostalgia for perceived prosperity of the past or greater determination to probe into his authoritarian excesses. We should look for more battles over the role of the state in legislating morality, and little meaningful progress in military or judicial reform. We might begin to see political fallout from the disastrous mudflow in East Java, and we should expect a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle in February or March.

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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