Subject: Abuses feared as military called to fight terrorists
Also: JP - War on terror no excuse for rights abuse: Observer
Received from Joyo Indonesia News
Inter Press Service October 19, 2005
Indonesia: Abuses feared as military called to fight terrorists
By Fabio Scarpello
JAKARTA -- Indonesia's renewed "war on terror," in the wake of the latest round of bombings in the tourist destination of Bali, could pave the way for renewed politicization of the country's military, say
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has already called on the Indonesian Military (TNI) to be more active, and there are fears this could lead to abuse and halt the process of reform begun after the end of the Suharto era, in 1998.
"In this country, we are still struggling to depoliticize the TNI, and this decision will bring it back onto the political arena," said Salim Said, a political scientist from the Indonesia Institute of Science (LIPI), in an IPS interview.
Yudhoyono's announcement came during the TNI's 60th anniversary celebrations, on Oct. 4, and only three days after the latest Bali bombings which left 23 people dead, 140 injured and 22 still missing.
The attack was the latest in a series in Indonesia, bloodied at an almost yearly rhythm since 2000 by the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which is fighting to bring most of Southeast Asia under a single Islamic state and is linked to Osama bin Laden's international Al Qaeda network.
In Indonesia, the burden of fighting terrorism has fallen on the shoulders of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the National Police, which lack funds, expertise and coordination.
Although dozens of JI's operatives have been arrested, the police and BIN have been found "guilty" of failing to prevent the attacks or capturing those believed to be behind the bombings.
This failure prompted Yudhoyono to call on the feared and only partly accountable TNI, which is still accused of widespread human rights abuse throughout the archipelago, to take on the JI.
The call for help was enthusiastically received by TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, who said he would take the necessary measures to crack down on terrorists by reactivating the military's "territorial function."
"The government has given us a clear order to participate in the war against terrorism. First, we will raise public awareness about the condition of local neighborhoods. Second, we will activate the territorial command down to the village level, and third, of course, we will share intelligence information with other institutions, especially the police," he said to the press after Yudhoyono's announcement.
The territorial function means a deployment of force akin to that of an occupying army. Soldiers are placed in every corner of the country, from the main cities down to the smallest villages. This system was used by former dictator Suharto as an effective tool to monitor people's movements and crush dissent.
Throughout the New Order regime, as Suharto's 33 years in power was dubbed, the territorial function gave rise to widespread excess of power and human rights abuse. It also brought generals into close contact with local politicians and businessmen, paving the way for collusion and interference in every facet of the country's life.
The territorial function was largely dismantled following the fall of Suharto, when the student-led "Reformasi" movement forced the introduction of reforms, aimed at limiting the power and influence of the TNI in Indonesian political life.
Although Sutanto claimed that this time the territorial function will not be abused, its revival has sent shivers down the spines of many
"People have not forgotten the abuse suffered at the hands of the TNI during the New Order Regime. They are still traumatized and the government has to be very careful about involving generals in the fight against terror," Hilman Latief, lecturer at Yogyakarta Muhammadiyah University's Department of Islamic Studies, told IPS.
Agus Widjojo, a commentator on military issues known for his pro-reform stance, said that any involvement of the TNI should be based on the constitution and the principle of democracy.
"The constitution gives the TNI a role in the national defense, but it can also be called upon by the president to help with domestic problems. However, it must respect the principle of democracy," he said.
According to Yudhoyono, the law allowing for the drafting of the TNI is Defense Law No. 34/2004, passed in September 2004. This has been hotly contested by some analysts who read the law differently.
J. Kristiadi, an expert on security at the Jakarta Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the move violated the law, which stipulates that TNI's territorial function must be eliminated by 2009.
"Reviving the territorial command is against the law," he told the Jakarta Post newspaper, adding that the military should only be involved in security matters if the police ask for its help.
Andi Widjayanto, a military analyst from the University of Indonesia, acknowledges that Article 11 of the law did not, in so many words, prohibit the reinstatement of the territorial function. But he said Yudhoyono's move was against the "spirit" of the law, which was written to push for TNI internal reforms.
In any case, according to Widjojo, if brought back, the territorial function has to be limited with safeguards and clear limits in time and duties.
"It has to be clear that it is a temporary measure and what the TNI can and cannot do. Both have to be stipulated by the political authority," he said.
The Jakarta Post Wednesday, October 19, 2005
War on terror no excuse for rights abuse: Observer
Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
A noted human rights activist lashed out on Tuesday at the government's move to compromise on individual basic rights in its fight against terrorism.
Former secretary-general of the National Commission on Human Rights Asmara Nababan said the problems facing the government in its war on terror lay in the poor coordination among security authorities and non-performing law enforcement personnel, rather than the relatively moderate legislation.
"I don't believe a soft legal umbrella is responsible for our failure to stamp out terrorism. It is long overdue for lawmakers to give an honest appraisal of all the government's efforts to deal with terrorist threats," said Asmara, the executive director of human rights watch Demos.
He was commenting on the proposed amendments to the antiterrorism law, which according to antiterror desk chief Ansja'ad Mbai might sacrifice the rights of individuals, but ensure the safety of the public, at large.
"Even the United Nations will not allow certain countries to enforce such a repressive law despite the campaign against terrorism," Asmara said.
He added that the international community had recognized the non-derogatable rights of individuals, including the right to life; and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment.
Asmara urged the House of Representatives legislators to evaluate the government's efforts to hunt down terrorists and to find the root causes of its failure to protect the people from terror attacks.
He said the House appraisal would open the public's eyes as to whether related state institutions had made for a good team and whether the police had given their all to prevent terrorism.
The current antiterrorism law was passed after the Bali bombings in October 2002, which left 202 people dead. Ineffective intelligence work has been blamed for recurring acts of terror in the ensuing years, the latest being the second Bali blasts on Oct. 1.
Ansja'ad said the amendments to the law would allow the police to detain a person without charge for more than seven days -- the maximum period under the prevailing legislation. Intelligence units, including that of the Indonesian Military (TNI), would also be given greater roles in preventing acts of terrorism.
Earlier, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the military to actively participate in the fight against terrorism. In response, TNI plans to revive its much-criticized territorial operations.
Asmara said that to combat terrorism, the police could move based on the existing Criminal Code instead.
"Why don't they explore the articles in the Criminal Code?" he asked. "I see the government has come under pressure from certain foreign countries to introduce draconian legislation. It must be emphasized that even foreign interests cannot sacrifice our own national interests."
Asmara admitted that several Scandinavian countries had adopted a repressive law to address certain crimes. "But as far as I know, they have never enforced the law," he claimed.