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Activists call for reform to Indonesia's military and police

Publication Date : 28-03-2013


Activists in Indonesia are renewing calls for the government and the House of Representatives to push for more reform of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police.

The calls have been sparked by the execution-style murders of four men in their cell by a well-armed 17-person team of unknown assailants in Cebongan Penitentiary in Yogyakarta. The men had allegedly murdered an Army commando.

Harris Azhar, the executive director of the National Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said that the Cebongan incident and the recent attack on a police station in Ogan Komering Ulu, South Sumatra, could be blamed on stagnant internal reforms within the nation’s security apparatus.

“Unless internal reform of the TNI and the National Police can be accomplished completely as mandated by the 1945 Constitution and the Reform movement, the current conflict between the institutions will continue and the number of violent incidents involving their personnel will increase in the future,” Harris told The Jakarta Post.

Kontras said that it has recorded 87 clashes between personnel of the TNI and the National Police since the institutions were separated in 1999.

Harris said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono could play a key role in security reform as commander-in-chief.

Meanwhile, Setara Institute executive director Hendardi said that security reform should begin with a review on all relevant regulations, especially those establishing civilian control over the military, the military’s economic role and the military justice system.

“The Army, Navy and Air Force and their elite forces must no longer have involvement in business, including the security business,” Hendardi said.

“The much-criticised territorial function of the defense system must be ended, because it is no longer relevant during current peacetime conditions, and all soldiers must return to barracks or be deployed to help the infrastructure development.”

Jaleswari Pramodharwardani, a military analyst at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said that change was needed since police/military relations had reached a nadir.

“The worsening conflict between members of the police and soldiers in the field has been triggered by the absence of a division of labor between the two institutions, although there have been multiple regulations that have set out their roles,” Jaleswari said.

Jaleswari attributed the conflict between the institutions to jealousy, saying that senior TNI officers had been irked by corrupt field-grade police officers openly flaunting their wealth.

Deputy House of Representatives speaker Priyo Budi Santoso, a Golkar Party lawmaker, said that the tensions between the TNI and the police had resulted from weak national leadership.

“President SBY in his capacity as supreme commander of the military could summon leaders of the TNI and National Police and draw the line as to what the two institutions could or could not do, but this has not happened so far,” Priyo said.

Priyo said that repeated calls for continuous reform within the TNI had also fallen on deaf ears.

He said that lawmakers had frequently called on the military to accomplish internal reforms, claiming that the TNI had refused to oblige.


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