Indonesia News Digest No 22 - June 9-15

, by INDOLEFT News Service



* Association condemns attack on journalists

* Soeharto heiress scores an own goal

* Soeharto clan riding the World Cup wave on

* Indonesian quake survivors complain of slow aid

* Local heads ’winning pluralities’

* Group targets foreign influence

* Officials say antipollution billboards not a
pretty sight


* Acehnese women to join politics

* BRA must improve performance and focus

* BRA’s poor performance threatening peace process

* Government must acknowledge existence of Aceh
militia groups

* GAM resigns from Aceh Reintegration Board

* House dismayed by slow Aceh reconstruction

* Winds of peace blow in former GAM stronghold


* Indonesian MPs brush off Papuan snub

* Treaty to recognise Jakarta control of Papua:


* Government waffles on demand to scrap sharia

* Legislators take stand against sharia laws

* Porn bill should be dropped: Alliance

* Government seeks legal clout to disband violent

* Second edition ’Playboy’ enrages Muslim


* Indonesia and involuntary disappearance


* House, Army end row over communist fray

* Megawati defends party against critics


* Replacement of antigraft court judges unfair:

* Court orders reopening of Soeharto graft case

* Money-laundering crackdown falters

* Indonesia a good place to learn dubious dealing

* Watchdog reveals dirty linen hidden in police

* Court rules that Suharto’s graft case should


* Bashir says extremists misguided, Australia
urges monitoring

* Does Bashir still wield influence among

* Gus Dur accused of desecrating Koran

* Indonesia releases militant Islamic cleric

* Freed Bashir mobbed by supporters

* Indonesia strikes back at Islamist hardliners

* A hardliner prepares for freedom

* Bashir release to spark threat

* Religious leaders rally for Pancasila

* Militants warned to abide by the law


* Policy reform is the key

* Regions still coming up short in drawing

* SOE performance in 2005 fails to impress

* Real sector to remain stagnant


* The export of refugees

* Answering to Jakarta

* War against dirty money

* Human rights should not take a back seat to

* Who protects the people?

* Time to talk straight


Association condemns attack on journalists

Jakarta Post - June 15, 2006

Jakarta — The Indonesian Journalists Association
has condemned a Tuesday attack on a group of
journalists by a gang of more than a dozen men in
Kutai Kartanegara on Tuesday.

Association chairman Ismed Hasan Putro and
secretary general Fikar W. Eda said the incident
was a serious threat to press freedom in
Indonesia. They demanded the police investigate
the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Three journalists in the group were injured when
they were attacked by a gang of men when they
stopped at the Kukar Bridge landmark on their way
from Samarinda to Tenggarong in Kutai Kartanegara.
The gang were believed to have followed the group
in cars.

The attack came after the journalists attended a
press briefing with East Kalimantan Governor
Suwarna. During the meeting, a journalist
questioned the usefulness of a visit by Kutai
Kartanegara regent Syaukani and 116 of his staff
to an International Labor Organization meeting in
Switzerland from May 23 through June 9.

Soeharto heiress scores an own goal

Sydney Morning Herald - June 14, 2006

Mark Forbes, Jakarta — Attempts to rehabilitate
the reputation of the former Indonesian dictator
Soeharto and his family have suffered a further
blow, with a botched effort by his ambitious
daughter to host nationwide World Cup coverage.

The broadcaster SCTV stood Titiek Soeharto down
after a storm of protest from soccer fans and
claims from Indonesia’s Broadcasting Commission
her appearance was “politically charged”. Debate
is still raging over whether Soeharto should be
prosecuted for corruption and there are rumours
his daughter wants to enter politics.

The row flared as a Jakarta judge ruled the
Government had illegally dropped graft charges
against Soeharto last month.

Demonstrators and human rights groups are calling
for action against several “foundations”
established by the former president, which have
siphoned off billions in public money.

Soeharto’s family developed a vast empire of
business interests on the back of favouritism
during his rule. Titiek is a director of the
company that has a controlling interest in SCTV.
Her surprise appearance last Friday as the key
host of the World Cup broadcasts, believed to be
Indonesia’s highest-rating telecasts, came despite
a lack of television experience and little
knowledge of soccer. Titiek’s wooden performance
was roundly criticised.

"Technically speaking, she is not someone who
knows a lot about soccer," said a member of the
Broadcasting Commission, Ade Armando.
"Politically, she is not known as a clean figure
and physically she is not very attractive to lure

Mr Armando told The Jakarta Post her appearance
could be seen as part of a PR campaign by the
Soeharto family. Last week, SCTV ran a lengthy
feature about Titiek handing out cash to refugees
fleeing Mount Merapi’s eruption and last month’s
quake, asking people to forgive her ailing father.
SCTV admitted it had received “hundreds” of

Soeharto clan riding the World Cup wave on ’SCTV’

Jakarta Post - June 12, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman and Tony Hotland, Jakarta —
Soccer fans glued to televisions, anxiously
awaiting the opening match between Germany and
Costa Rica received an unexpected shock Friday
night, when former president Soeharto’s daughter
Titiek appeared as the show’s host.

After the tiring television coverage of Soeharto’s
illness and a family feud that involved his son
Bambang Trihatmodjo, TV viewers now have to cope
with the presence of another member of Soeharto’s
family sunning themselves in the media spotlight.

The public could be forgiven for thinking the
appearance of Titiek was part of a public
relations campaign launched by the Soeharto family
to mend its tarnished image.

Ade Armando of the Indonesian Broadcasting
Commission (KPI) said the move was politically
charged and could be seen as part of a campaign to
win back the hearts of the public in the long run.
However, Titiek has done it in a very inelegant
way, he said.

"Technically speaking, she is not someone who
knows a lot about soccer. Politically, she is not
known as clean figure and physically she is not
very attractive to lure viewers," Ade told The
Jakarta Post.

He said the ill-advised decision would only
further damage the image of the Soeharto family.
"She has dug her own grave, as people are aware
that the supposed come-back of the Soeharto family
has not been done in an elegant way," he said.

Ade said his commission would seek clarification
from SCTV over its decision to use Titiek as a
presenter for the World Cup.

"As a private television station, SCTV makes use
of a frequency that belongs to the public. It
therefore should not allow it to be used as a
vehicle by which politicians can promote their own
interests," he told The Jakarta Post.

Titiek is the commissioner of PT Abhitama
Mediatama, a subsidiary of telecommunications and
IT company Elang Mahkota Teknologi. Abhitama later
took a controlling share in SCTV and she became
one of its station’s commissioners.

The World Cup is just the latest in a string of
shows that have been hijacked by powerful
businessmen and politicians to polish their

SCTV earlier ran a lengthy feature about Titiek
handing out Rp 100 million to refugees fleeing
Merapi eruption and asking the people to forgive
her ailing father.

Private TV stations RCTI also came under fire for
broadcasting a show that denied the alleged
involvement of its owner Hari Tanoesoedibjo in a
financial scandal.

SCTV, RCTI and some other private stations that
had commited similar transgressions would be given
a warning by the KPI, Ade said. Ade alleged that
hard-won press freedoms were being used by
powerful individuals to promote their own narrow

SCTV spokesman Uki Pratama defended Titiek’s
appearance, saying it was meant to be a surprise
and aimed to expose the World Cup to a wide range
of viewers.

"A wide range of people from political leaders,
public figures, government officials and
celebrities anxiously waited for this event," he
told the Post. "So, we surprised them by
presenting those figures as the host, including
Titiek Soeharto." Uki said that there would be
more surprise guests in future broadcasts. "As for
Titiek, she has to improve her skill as a
presenter," he said.

Indonesian quake survivors complain of slow aid

Agence France Presse - June 10, 2006

Sudimoro — Cramped in a single tent sheltering 41
people, survivors of last month’s Indonesian
earthquake at this hamlet complain they receive
only one meal a day with assistance still slow to
fully flow here two weeks after the disaster.

"We don’t know how much longer we have to endure
this situation," said a weary-looking Endang,
sitting with four other shabbily-dressed women in
the blue tarpaulin tent emblazoned with the logo
of British charity Oxfam.

Sudimoro is one of many hamlets in Bantul district
flattened by the May 27 earthquake on Indonesia’s
Java island, which left more than 5,800 dead and
thousands injured.

Men, women and children from 13 families,
including the elderly, are confined in this flimsy
tent, which gives little protection from the chill
of the night.

An elderly woman with a bandage around her arm and
chest sat in a corner in silence. She was in her
80s and suffered a broken arm and ribs when her
house collapsed in the 6.3-magnitude temblor that
rocked Indonesia’s densely-populated Central Java
and Yogyakarta provinces, a younger women

The group here receives two kilograms (nearly four
and a half pounds) of rice, 20 packs of instant
noodles, some sugar and cooking oil every day from
the local relief coordinating post.

"With this supply, we eat only one meal a day. If
we are hungry later in the day or at night we have
to fend for ourselves, but we don’t have any money
to buy anything," said Sarilah, whose husband died
in the earthquake.

"Even for two kilograms of rice, we have to fight.
People have become ill-tempered and we often have
quarrels because of this. Why? Because we all need
to eat," she said.

Surviving men in these families, who normally did
odd jobs such as brick-laying or tilling other
people’s land, have been idle since the quake.

Two of the men had been recruited by a neighboring
family to demolish their shaky house that day for
a meagre pay of less than one dollar.

Apart from the lack of food aid, the survivors
also say they are unhappy living in the crowded
tent. "It’s cold at night. There should be one
tent for one family because we married couples
have also biological needs," Sarilah said.

The women are aware that their shortages stem not
from a lack of aid but rather difficulties in
distribution. "I know that aid supplies are
abundant. We are not asking for more than we need,
we just want to have enough to eat,“Endang said.”If you know anyone who wants to help, just tell
them to give the assistance to us directly, not
through the Posko," she quipped, referring to the
local relief coordinating post.

Charlie Higgins, the United Nations humanitarian
coordinator in the quake zone, admitted that what
the group had been receiving was “very inadequate”
and that some areas had not been well covered by
humanitarian assistance.

But he said that the case did not represent an
overall picture of the relief operation. "I
believe that most people have received more
assistance than this. I’m not happy with this. But
I anticipate that the situation will improve. It
shouldn’t be allowed to continue at this level,"
he told AFP.

He said that a team from the UN’s World Food
Program would go to the village to look into the

Local heads ’winning pluralities’

Jakarta Post - June 10, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — Most governors,
mayors and regents who have come to power in
direct regional elections across the country
received less than 50 percent of the popular vote,
a recent study says.

The survey released by the People’s Voter
Education Network (JPPR) said out of a total of
226 local elections taking place from May 2005 to
May 2006, 67.70 percent, or 153 regional heads won

The JPPR comprises some 30 NGOs, most of which are
affiliated to the nation’s two largest Muslim
organizations, Nadhlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.

JPPR coordinator Adung A. Rochman said winning
less than 50 percent of the vote could create
political problems for new regional leaders. "This
has been evident in Banyuwangi and Tuban (both in
East Java)," he said Friday.

Banyuwangi Regent Ratna Ani Lestari, who won 39
percent of the vote for the Indonesian Democratic
Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in an election last
June, had faced a concerted campaign to oust her
by the local legislative council where she had
little support, Adung said.

Adung said there was something wrong with an
election system that made it possible for
candidates to win with less than 25 percent of the
vote. "There must be changes to the current
election system to increase this figure," he said.

Regional elections were also characterized by low
voter turnouts, vote buying, voter manipulation
and fear-mongering, he said. "Many candidates
chose to buy votes or threaten voters, rather than
formulate good policies," Adung said.

In Muna and Tasikmalaya, he said, candidates
persuaded clerics to issue edicts, promising
voters they would go to heaven if they voted the
right way. The defeated candidates in Banyuwangi,
meanwhile, mobilized their supporters in anti-
government rallies, and those in Tuban incited
groups to violence against the elected regent, he

Commenting on the study, political analyst Daniel
Sparingga said many local elections had negative
outcomes because of the kinds of people who were

"Local elections ideally elect legitimate leaders
to form democratic governments, which provide
services to the public and work to improve their
welfare. However, those here often become stages
for local elites in a cynical struggle for power,"
he said.

However, another elections expert, Jerome Cheung,
the program coordinator for the National
Democratic Institute (NDI), said the regional
elections were reasonably successful despite some
teething problems.

"The direct local elections in general are a good
start to promote democracy in the regions and
rural areas... and improve public services to
locals," he said.

He said voters should not expect candidates to win
simple majorities if there were more than two
candidates contesting the electoral races.

"Under the law, contestants who receive at least
25 percent of the vote are the legitimate winners
and consequently, all those who do not vote for
the winners must accept the result and support the

Cheung noted United States President George W.
Bush won two consecutive elections with less than
50 percent of the vote. Despite this, his
victories were declared valid and most people
considered him the legitimate leader of the
nation, even if they disagreed with his policies,
Cheung said.

Candidates and parties that wanted power for
power’s sake and had vague or badly defined
policies were the main cause of voter apathy and
discontent, not the election system, he said.

Group targets foreign influence

Jakarta Post - June 10, 2006

Jakarta — Citing the 1979 Iranian Revolution as a
model for change, a group of opposition
politicians has launched a national movement to
counter what it believes is increasing foreign
influence in national politics.

The newly created Indonesian Nationalist Alliance
said Friday that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s
administration had capitulated to the will of
foreign powers, creating policies that had caused
untold suffering to the nation’s poor.

"We have seen how disastrous the effects have been
of the policy to hike fuel prices. This is the
result of adhering to a school of thought that
allows market mechanisms to set fuel prices,"
former chairman of the National Development
Planning Board Kwiek Kian Gie said.

Kwiek was accompanied by former Indonesian
Military chief Gen. (ret.) Wiranto and Sugeng
Sarjadi Syndicate economics analyst Sukardi

Kwiek said the nation’s indebtedness to
international financial institutions such as the
World Bank put the country’s sovereignty at risk.
"However, the policy of always looking for foreign
loans and aid is maintained just to keep our state
budget sound," Kwiek said.

A senior politician from the Indonesian Democratic
Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Kwiek said the first
task of the new organization would be to expose
the many bad policy decisions made by the

"We will consistently present our views to counter
the conventional wisdom preached by the
government, and if that helps foment a movement
that ends in a revolution, then that is good,"
Kwiek said.

He said the 1979 Iranian Revolution could be "a
model" for the nation. However, the groups’
leaders were vague about what policies they would
put forward to counter the government’s.

"The movement was only declared today. Details
about our program will soon follow. Our team of
experts is still discussing it," Wiranto said.

Politicians Permadi and Aria Bima — both of the
PDI-P — economists Sri Eddy Swasono and Revrisond
Baswir and visual artist Hardi have joined the

Kwiek and Wiranto earlier joined forces with
former People’s Consultative Assembly chairman
Amien Rais and former House of Representatives
speaker Akbar Tandjung to oppose the government’s
decision to grant US energy giant ExxonMobil
management of the Cepu oil block.

Officials say antipollution billboards not a
pretty sight

Jakarta Post - June 9, 2006

Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta — Environmentalists
say the removal of six billboards, which welcomed
visitors to the “city of pollution”, comes as a
major setback for the Jakarta administration’s
clean air campaign.

Councillor Mukhayar, who is also deputy chairman
of Commission D for environmental affairs, said he
felt let down by the city administration.

"It’s a real shame... Even without them, everybody
knows how polluted Jakarta’s air is. So why try to
conceal the truth?" Mukhayar, who heads the
Jakarta Environment Caucus, told The Jakarta Post
on Thursday.

The billboards, designed by the Jakarta
Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) and clean
air campaigner Swisscontact, were erected as a
reminder to residents to get their vehicles’
exhaust emissions tested.

One billboard was set up in each of the city’s
five municipalities and the sixth in front of the
BPLHD office, for World Environment Day on Monday.

However, after just one day, Jakarta Governor
Sutiyoso said the billboards were coming down. He
provided no explanation, but some officials said
the billboards were bad for tourism.

Ari Muhammad of Swisscontact said there was no
logic to the notion. He said that residents,
including officials, needed to look at the text
for what it was. "It’s self-criticism for the
public... We have to take concrete action to
improve the quality of city air, together," he

Sutiyoso has himself conceded Jakarta is the
world’s third-most polluted city, after Mexico and
Bangkok, blaming it on unchecked exhaust emissions
from vehicles and factories.

While promoting his idea of incorporating Bogor,
Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi, Puncak and Cianjur into
Jakarta, Sutiyoso claimed it would help to reduce
air pollution. He promised to improve commuter
linkages so that people were more willing to leave
their cars at home.

Administration data shows that more than 2.5
million private cars, 3.8 million motorcycles and
255,000 public transportation vehicles traverse
the city streets each day, and many of them come
from areas outside Jakarta.

Jakarta is the first city in the country to have
issued a local ordinance on air pollution control,
which requires private cars to undergo emissions
tests and public transportation vehicles and
official cars to use compressed natural gas.

BPLHD head Kosasih Wirahadikusumah said his office
was trying to get a permit from the governor, so
that the billboards could be put back. "They won’t
be gone long," he told the Post.


Acehnese women to join politics

Jakarta Post - June 15, 2006

Nani Afrida, Banda Aceh — In response to the lack
of involvement of women in the peace and
integration process in Aceh, several women’s
rights activists have formed the Aceh Women’s
League to accommodate the political aspirations of
women in the area.

Apart from activists, the league includes members
of Inong Balee, the former Free Aceh Movement
(GAM)’s women’s wing, and female victims of the
long-running conflict. Shadia Marhaban, an Inong
Balee representative, said one of the goals of the
league was to encourage women to get involved in

Although it is a politically motivated
organization, the league is not planning to become
a local political party in Aceh. "So far, none of
the former members of Inong Balee or women who
were victims of the conflict have thought about
their fate," said Shadia, the wife of US
journalist William Nessen.

She said the league was also intended to help
build Aceh women’s capacity to the utmost as well
as to restore their dignity to what it was before
the conflict.

More the 15,000 people, mostly civilians, were
killed in the low-level insurgency that lasted for
than three decades. Peace returned to the province
following the signing of a peace deal between the
government and GAM in Helsinki in August last

Under the plan, the league will provide training
on practical and political skills to gradually
develop the economic empowerment the women will
need to be politically active. The league will
also set up its network in every regency and city
in Aceh, up to the district level, and will
register the organization with the authorities to
gain legal recognition.

A staff member of the Aceh Monitoring Mission,
Leena Avonis, found the league very supportive of
the peace process and reintegration program in
Aceh. But "Aceh women are still less involved in
politics," said Avonis.

A number of female former GAM members hope the
league will be able to accommodate their
aspirations, which they say have thus far been
neglected. A former Inong Balee member from Aceh
Besar regency, Rauzah, said she hoped the league
could give them more room, especially to educate
them on politics.

"We wish to improve our political knowledge and
hope that we can learn more with the presence of
the league throughout the province, said Rauzah.

Another former Inong Balee member, Rahmi, hoped
the league would pay more attention to the fate of
women, especially former GAM members. "We are now
more aware of politics because of the league. We,
especially former Inong Balee members, totally
support the league because no one has paid any
attention to us so far," said Rahmi.

Women’s representation in politics in Asian
countries, including Indonesia, is still low. In
most Asian countries, the number of women in
government and parliament is still less than the
30 percent quota suggested 10 years ago at a UN
conference in Beijing.

Political leaders are mostly men, while female
candidates are only selected if they have a close
connection to the men in power and are usually
found in less strategic positions, such as the
treasury or as deputies on social welfare issues.

BRA must improve performance and focus

Kompas - June 13, 2006

Jakarta - A number of non-government organisations
from the Aceh Working Group (AWG) are urging the
Aceh Rehabilitation Agency (BRA) to give greater
focus to its task and initial role as mandated in
Section 3.2 of the Helsinki Memorandum of
Understanding on the stages of the reintegration

This statement was conveyed by Usman Hamid from
Indonesian Human Rights Watch during an AWG press
conference on Monday June 12. According to Hamid,
the BRA has deviated from its main obligations
related to the reintegration of former Free Aceh
Movement (GAM) members and has instead pursued
other issues that are not included in its tasks.
Also present at the press conference was Amiruddin
from Institute for Public Research and Advocacy
(Elsam), Choirul Anam from the AWG and Rafendi
Djamin from the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG).

In addition to this, BRA personal are also being
asked to be independent, impartial and work fully
within the framework of BRA. Not long ago, GAM
declared that it was withdrawing from the BRA as a
resulted of internal problems that have occurred
within it. "We are concerned that problems will
reemerge because of differences in internal
perceptions. There is no longer any transparency
in the management of reintegration funds of as
much as 800 billion rupiah, who has used it, how
much is left and what the responsibilities are",
said Hamid.

According to Hamid, the internal problems have
been complicated by the existence of a division of
the ministry for political, legal and human rights
affairs that may people believe has dragged the
BRA into the realm of politics so that it has had
the impact of hindering its performance.

Hamid added that one of the triggers for these
problems was when the BRA stopped focusing on the
reintegration process of former GAM members and
instead was forced to take an accommodative
position towards other elements. As a result, the
process became muddled up when other social groups
that feel they were victims of human rights
violations was asked to present proposals to
receive compensation. As a consequence, as of
April 40,000 proposals have been submitted to the
BRA and only 700 of these have been declared
suitable in administrative terms. (dwa)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

BRA’s poor performance threatening peace process - June 12, 2006

Chazizah Gusnita, Jakarta — The Aceh
Reintegration Agency (BRA) continues to be
criticised with its poor performance considered to
be threatening the peace process.

"I feel that it will disrupt the Aceh
reintegration process because there is a
difference in perceptions that is aggravating the
poor performance of the BRA", said Human Rights
Working Group (HRWG) coordinator Rafendi Djamin at
the BOR Building at the Megaria Cinema Complex on
Jl. Pegangsaan Timur No 21 in West Jakarta on
Monday June 12.

According to Djamin, the BRA’s performance has not
been optimal because it has been placed in the
situation of becoming part of the political
agenda. Whereas the BRA should have been
established to implement Point 3.2 of the Helsinki
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on

The unclear limits of the working systems and
authority of the BRA has also become a problem.
The allocation of compensation funds for former
Free Aceh Movement (GAM) members and the victims
of the conflict are considered to overlap with the
task of human rights courts.

"The HRWG is urging the government to improve the
BRA’s performance by making the BRA independent
and so it works in accordance with the MoU",
explained Djamin.

The HRWG is also asking that BRA’s structure and
authority be changed for the sake of efficiency
and the realisation of the reintegration program.
"Rehabilitation is the government’s obligation
that must be provided as quickly as possible
following disarmament, the withdrawal of troops
and amnesty [for GAM members]", he asserted.

Inefficiency within the BRA has created confusion.
GAM — which was involved within the BRA — has
even withdrawn all of its personnel in order that
the Acehnese governor can restructure it more
easily. (fay)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Government must acknowledge existence of Aceh
militia groups - June 13, 2006

Chazizah Gusnita, Jakarta — Non-government
organisations (NGOs) are urging the government to
immediately acknowledge the existence of militia
groups in Aceh. Without such an acknowledgement,
the reintegration process in Aceh will be

"Without there being an acknowledgement and a
thoroughgoing process [to deal with] the militia,
then the reintegration process in Aceh will be
further obstructed", said Aceh Working Group (AWG)
coordinator Rusdi Marpaung at the office of
Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) on Jl.
Diponegoro in the Central Jakarta district of
Menteng on Tuesday June 13.

Marpaung also said that the formation of the
militia could not be separated from the
involvement of the state. Conversely there has
been no acknowledgement from the government, even
though the fact is that militia members were
recruited from villages, given a license to carry
arms and trained by the military.

One such example is the Red-and-White Youth
Movement (GPMP) whose activities cover the
regencies of Banda Aceh, Greater Aceh and Eastern
Aceh. GPMP, which has a membership of 10,000, was
establish on August 19, 2003 and headed by then
Aceh governor Abdullah Puteh and Helfizar Ibrahim.

Similar concerns were also expressed by Human
Rights Working Group (HRWG) coordinator Rafendi
Djamin who said it was the government itself that
trained these militia groups.

The government has also carried out a re-
mobilisation and sown confusion within the Aceh
Reintegration Agency (BRA) in the name of the
Defenders of the Fatherland (Peta). "If indeed
this is a militia groups, it is improper for it to
become part of the structure of the BRA",
explained Djamin.

According to the NGO data, there are at least 21
militia groups in Aceh that were formed by the
government. These include the Front for the
Struggle Against GAM (FPSG), the Republic of
Indonesia Acehnese Resistance Front (FPRARI), the
Republic of Indonesia Acehnese Saviours Front
(FPARI), the Defence Militia for the Unitary State
of Indonesia (LPNKI) and the People’s Movement
Against Aceh Separatists (GRASA).

There are also other militia groups such as the
People’s Fortress Against Separatism (BRAS), the
People’s Resistance Front for the Defence of Teuku
Umar (FPPRTU), the Resistance Movement Against
Teuku Peukan GAM Separatists (GPSGTP), the Mass
Organisation for the Defence of NKRI, the Red-
White Defenders Front (FPMP), the Anti Free Aceh
Movement Red-and-White Militia (LMPAGAM) and the
Anti Free Aceh Movement Front (FAGAM). (zal)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

GAM resigns from Aceh Reintegration Board

Tempo Interactive - June 12, 2006

Adi Warsidi, Banda Aceh — Yesterday (11/6), the
Free Aceh Movement (GAM) resigned from the
committee of the Aceh Reintegration Board (BRA),
the organization for Aceh reintegration, which was
part of the peace agreement in Helsinki.

The reason for this, according to GAM, is that
BRA’s structure is not effective because it is too
large. "Members of Defenders of the Fatherland
(Peta) being in BRA is also a reason for GAM’s
resignation," said GAM’s deputy spokesperson,
Munawar Liza Zein, yesterday.

Munawar, who is also BRA’s legal and human rights
deputy, has acknowledged that GAM has wanted to
resign for a long time.

GAM’s representative on the Aceh Monitoring
Mission (AMM), Irwandi Yusuf, confirmed that GAM’s
resignation is in order to reduce the size of BRA.

Irwandi said he hoped that anyone in BRA would no
longer act on behalf of a certain group. "Whoever
sits in BRA should only act on behalf of the
government," he said.

House dismayed by slow Aceh reconstruction

Jakarta Post - June 10, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — House of
Representatives lawmakers are unhappy with the
performance of the Aceh-Nias Reconstruction and
Rehabilitation Agency (BRR).

In its single year of existence the BRR had done
little to build much-needed infrastructure in Aceh
and Nias, House Speaker Agung Laksono said. "We
are very disappointed (with the BRR) as we had
imagined that brand-new cities would rise from the
debris of regions hit by the tsunami. But this has
not materialized," Agung said.

Agung said that in the two hardest-hit areas in
Banda Aceh, Lampase and Uleuleu, conditions were
virtually the same as they were days after the
tidal wave struck on Dec 26, 2004. "There is no
city planning; everything is in chaos. The results
don’t match the excessive amounts of foreign aid
that has poured in," he said.

Earlier this week during a visit to Aceh, Agung
said he was concerned about the poor quality of
houses the BRR built for tsunami survivors. Many
did not even have toilets, he said.

Responding to Agung’s criticism, BRR chief Kuntoro
Mangkusubroto said his agency would improve the
quality of more than 41,000 houses scheduled to be
built later this year.

The House called on President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla to summon
BRR executives to account for their work. The
House, meanwhile, plans to summon 11 Cabinet
ministers to question them on the reconstruction’s

Muhaimin Iskandar, who chairs the House monitoring
team for the Aceh and Nias reconstruction, said a
meeting with the ministers was scheduled for next

He said BRR executives could not argue that the
need for consultation with locals had slowed the
rebuilding process down because construction
decisions had already been made and the Rp 1.52
trillion fund for the projects had been disbursed.

The BRR was established on April 16, 2005, for a
four-year period. The agency’s stated mission is
to restore and strengthen communities in Aceh and
Nias by designing and overseeing a coordinated,
community-driven reconstruction and development
program, implemented according to the highest
professional standards.

Winds of peace blow in former GAM stronghold

Jakarta Post - June 9, 2006

Nani Afrida, Takengon (Central Aceh) — "These are
the best times I’ve experienced in my whole life,"
said Aman Masnah, 70, a resident of Keunawat
village, Lut Tawar district in Central Aceh

Aman said since the signing of the peace treaty by
Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in
August last year, he and the other villagers have
experienced a life that is free from fear,
suspicion and being on the run.

Aman has lived in the village since he was born.
He is used to the sounds of firearms, and has
experienced military sweepings, arson attacks, and
even physical abuse, because Keunawat was a major
GAM stronghold in Central Aceh.

The village of 500 families is located on the
hillside facing the beautiful Laut Tawar Lake. The
village is typical of many other villages in
Central Aceh.

Two noted GAM figures purportedly come from the
village. One of them is Teungku Ilias Abed. The
majority of its people supported the separatist

Government security forces had blacklisted the
village during the conflict in Aceh, including the
Darul Islam Indonesian Islamic Military rebellion
in 1959. The village has twice been burned to the

In every raid, security forces would initially
secure the village, especially during the conflict
between GAM and the government. The Indonesian
security forces had set up two security posts
since they regarded the village as dangerous.

Aman and other residents acknowledged that they
were tired of the violence, especially because
many of their family members had either died or
been injured in the conflict. Most of the people
there had pledged allegiance to GAM. Villagers
were often subjected to rough treatment by
security personnel.

"We were not even allowed to tend our coffee
plantations. Villagers became poorer during the
conflict," said Aman.

Villagers have greeted the return of peace warmly.
Many of their relatives who had joined GAM have
come down from the mountains and returned home
after being granted amnesty by the government. The
TNI and police have abandoned the two security
posts, hence people have more freedom of movement.

People are aware that many things must be restored
in Keunawat; not only their coffee farms.

Remarkably, there is only a state Islamic
elementary school in the village, without any
other school for students continuing to junior
high or high school. It is common for children not
to attend school at all.

Although the whole village has been victimized by
the conflict, many have not been provided with aid
by the government.

"They say that we have been registered, but we
have not received any assistance so far," said
Yuniar, a villager who lost a younger brother in
the conflict.

The villagers also hope that they will be given
the opportunity to become civil servants with the
return of peace.

"Hopefully, residents will be accepted as civil
servants. Don’t discriminate against us anymore
just because we come from Keunawat," said Yuniar


Indonesian MPs brush off Papuan snub

Australian Associated Press - June 15, 2006

A group of visiting Indonesian MPs say they are
not concerned that Papuan refugees recently
granted asylum in Australia don’t want to meet

The 42 refugees had been frightened by a request
to meet the Indonesian parliamentary delegation
accompanying Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia,
Hamzah Thayeb, and had refused, their lawyer said
on Thursday.

Mr Thayeb returned to Australia last weekend after
being recalled to Indonesia in protest against the
Australian government’s decision to grant
protection visas to the refugees.

Delegation head Muhammad Hikam said the MPs were
not concerned by the refusal, as a meeting with
the refugees was not the focus of their visit.
However, he revealed members of the delegation met
on Thursday with representatives of the refugees.

"No (it’s not a concern) because we are not
actually (coming here with) the intention to meet
them," Dr Hikam told AAP after a seminar in
Melbourne on the state of relations between
Australia and Indonesia.

"We welcome (it) if they want to see us, if they
want to express their aspirations, something like
that. But our intention here is not limited to
that case, but to broader aspects. So it’s up to
them — we don’t really have a special agenda."

David Manne, from the Refugee and Immigration
Legal Centre, earlier on Thursday said an
intermediary had approached him requesting a
meeting between the Indonesian parliamentary
delegation and the refugees, who are now living in

Mr Manne said the refugees were frightened by the
request and had sent a statement to both Foreign
Minister Alexander Downer and Immigration Minister
Amanda Vanstone saying they did not want to meet
the MPs.

"They’re shocked and scared by the suggestion of
meeting with Indonesian officials,“Mr Manne said.”They’ve just been found recently by Australian
immigration officials to have a well-founded fear
of being persecuted by Indonesian authorities if
returned. They are really wanting to be left alone
to live a life in the Australian community in
safety and security without approaches from the
Indonesian officials."

Dr Hikam earlier on Thursday said it would be
impolite of the Papuans to refuse to meet him and
his fellow Indon politicians."Usually, in
Indonesia if you got an invitation like that, you
cannot explain why (you refuse it)... you reject a
good friendship," he told ABC radio.

Treaty to recognise Jakarta control of Papua:

Melbourne Age - June 9, 2006

Brendan Nicholson — A new security treaty with
Jakarta will include an assurance that Australia
respects Indonesia’s integrity — including its
ownership of West Papua — says Prime Minister
John Howard.

Indonesia has insisted on the inclusion of an
assurance that Australia will not seek
independence for the troubled province as a
condition to be met, before it signs the security

Mr Howard said he expected to meet Indonesia’s
President Yudhoyono soon, though the exact date
was still to be worked out.

"Some time in the not too distant future we will
meet and talk about a lot of things," Mr Howard

"Our relationship with Indonesia is very
important. I am perfectly happy in any document
that we sign to say that we respect the
territorial integrity of Indonesia."

Mr Howard said Australia’s relationship with
Indonesia was always challenging because the two
countries were very different, but he said he had
a good personal relationship with President

"There’s a lot of trust at senior government
levels and there’s always been a lot of trust
maintained at other levels. I hope that we will
have a very productive meeting when we do get
together, which will probably be later this

Mr Howard said the security pact would be one of a
number of issues covered. "I noticed something in
the newspapers about that this morning based on
comments made by the President’s security adviser.
It is an issue that we need to kick around," Mr 
Howard said.

"There is no argument about our attitude towards
Indonesian sovereignty over Papua. We’ve never had
a view that Papua should separate from Indonesia.
The changes that have been made in Papua by the
Indonesian Government have provided a lot more
democracy, a lot more freedom,“he said.”People
should bear that in mind when they automatically
criticise Indonesia every time something goes


Government waffles on demand to scrap sharia

Jakarta Post - June 15, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — Calls for the
central government to scrap sharia-inspired
ordinances adopted in many of the nation’s
regencies and cities have received a cautious
response from top officials.

Home Minister Muhammad Ma’ruf said Wednesday he
would first let the country’s 33 governors decide
whether the bylaws contradicted the Constitution
or higher laws.

"We have decided governors should be given a
greater role in identifying unwieldy bylaws and
they should bring them to us for further
discussion," Ma’ruf said after a hearing with the
House of Representatives Commission II on home

Ma’ruf promised every bylaw judged
unconstitutional or in violation of the five basic
principles of the state Pancasila ideology would
be revoked.

The 2004 Regional Government Law gives the Home
Ministry the authority to scrap any local
regulations judged to be in violation of
provincial or state laws. The law also gives the
ministry the authority to prevent local
governments from passing laws it judges

People who wish to challenge the validity of local
ordinances, meanwhile, can take them to the
Supreme Court for a judicial review.

On Tuesday, 56 House legislators presented a
petition to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
calling on him to nullify the numerous sharia-
inspired bylaws passed in the country.

Twenty-two regencies and municipalities in the
country have implemented sharia-inspired bylaws
following the implementation of regional autonomy.

The bylaws have criminalized conduct prohibited in
Islamic teachings — punishing people for
adultery, alcohol consumption and gambling, and
women for staying out late at night without a male

The call to scrap sharia-inspired bylaws is being
supported by several Muslim intellectuals.

Muslim scholar Muhammad Syafii Ma’arif said the
government should not hesitate to revoke
religiously motivated ordinances. "The
implementation of such regulations will only
create divisions in society," Syafii said.

The former Muhammadiyah chairman believed drawing
up sharia-inspired laws was futile. "Local
governments will have problems putting them into
action. And past experiences have shown us that
the bureaucracy has no discipline enforcing them,"
he said.

Separately, Coordinating Minister for Political,
Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adisucipto said
Wednesday the government planned to review all the
nation’s problematic bylaws. Widodo was quoted by
Antara as saying that more than 85 percent of
local ordinances were rife with inconsistencies.

"Since the start of the reform era, the quality of
most bylaws has got worse," he said during a
meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesia.
Widodo said many local ordinances were stifling
investment in the country.

Legislators take stand against sharia laws

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — Concerned by the
creeping Islamization of the country’s secular
state, 56 national legislators are urging
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to abolish
sharia-based bylaws already in place or risk the
country’s disintegration.

In a petition, which included signatories from
Muslim-based political parties, the House members
said local administrations’ implementation of the
bylaws contravened the 1945 Constitution and the
five principles enshrined in the Pancasila state

"The deliberation and implementation of bylaws
should have been carried out according to the 1945
Constitution and Pancasila, and within the
framework of the Unitary State of Indonesia," one
of the signatories, Constant Ponggawa of the
Prosperous Peace Party (PDS), said Tuesday during
a meeting with the House leadership to express
their views.

Constant said that the President should move
quickly to nullify the bylaws or the state faced

Gayus Lumbuun of the Indonesian Democratic Party
of Struggle (PDI-P) said the petition was aimed at
creating a powerful legislative movement to
reverse the drive for Islamization of the country.
"We want to create a snowball effect, something
that we hope will end up with the establishment of
a House working committee to investigate the
matter," Gayus told The Jakarta Post.

Signatories met with House Deputy Speaker
Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno. Aside from nationalist
politicians from the Indonesian Democratic Party
of Struggle (PDI-P) and the PDS, a number of
Muslim politicians, including Nusron Wahid and
Helmy Faishal of the National Awakening Party
(PKB) and Anwar Sanusi of the United Development
Party (PPP), were present during the meeting.

Politicians from nationalist political parties
included Trimedya Panjaitan, Permadi and Wayan
Koster of the PDI-P, Carol D. Kadang and Jeffrey
Massie of the PDS and Joko Purwongemboro of the
Golkar Party and Muhammad A.S. Hikam of the PKB.

The petition is the first cross-factional campaign
to oppose the passing of Islamist-oriented
regulations. Currently, 22 regencies and
municipalities have implemented sharia-influenced

Some of the bylaws criminalize conduct prohibited
under Islamic law, such as adultery, alcoholism
and prostitution. Some of the regulations have
been criticized for restricting public freedom,
especially women’s dress.

In the West Sumatra city of Solok and the capital
Padang, as well as Banten province, local
governments have issued regulations obliging women
to wear headscarves in public.

Local administrations in Padang, Indramayu, West
Java, and Maros, South Sulawesi, have gone even
further in passing bylaws requiring Koran literacy
among schoolchildren.

Some local governments cited the granting of
special autonomy to Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, a
strongly Islamic area, as inspiration for the
drawing up of the bylaws.

Earlier Monday, Justice and Human Rights Minister
Hamid Awaluddin told House Commission III on legal
affairs that his ministry, in collaboration with
the Home Affairs Ministry, would take action
against religion-inspired bylaws.

Porn bill should be dropped: Alliance

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2006

Jakarta — The House of Representatives should
drop its deliberations of the controversial
pornography bill because it is dividing the
country, says a coalition of activists against the

Alliance for Unity and Diversity coordinator Ratna
Sarumpaet said the bill was unnecessary because
existing laws already regulated the sale of
pornographic materials to the public.

"We have spoken to legislators but they have
insisted on the importance of the bill," Ratna
said during a meeting with Constitutional Court
chief Jimly Asshiddiqie.

The bill, supported by the Indonesian Ulema
Council (MUI), has triggered nationwide protests
from moderate Muslim groups, religious minorities
and women’s activists, and demonstrations of
support from conservative Muslims.

The alliance was established in March to oppose
the bill. On Monday, it said it was dissatisfied
with the House’s decision to continue deliberating
the bill after making some changes to the

Jimly said the Constitutional Court had no
authority to force the House to drop the
legislation. However, he asked legislators to
carefully consider the critics of the bill and its
effect on the freedom to worship guaranteed by the

"Lawmakers should take heed of the views of
minority groups here, because a decision by the
majority is not always the right one," he said.
The court would move legally against the bill if
there was evidence it could infringe on people’s
constitutional rights, he said.

Ratna said the alliance was planning to meet
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to express its
concerns about the bill. She said she had received
many threatening text messages on her cellphone
after joining a major rally to oppose the

The alliance also criticized the government for
failing to take decisive action against hard-line
Muslim groups, which have attacked churches and
minority Islamic sects in the name of religion.

It said public resentment was growing against
groups like the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), whose
members had forced former president Abdurrahman
“Gus Dur” Wahid to leave the podium at an
interfaith forum in Purwakarta, West Java. Gus Dur
opposes the pornography bill.

The leader of Jakarta group the Betawi Brotherhood
Forum (FBR), Fadloli El Muhir, was reported to
police last month for allegedly defaming women
activists who took part in a street protest
against the bill.

Government seeks legal clout to disband violent

Jakarta Post - June 10, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat and Rendi Akhmad Witular,
Jakarta — The government and legislators have
agreed to revise the 1985 law on the freedom to
organize to allow the disbanding of hard-line
organizations deemed to have disrupted security
and public order, the home minister said Friday.

"We will insert a new article into the law to
empower the government to take supervisory
actions, including the dissolving of organizations
disturbing security and order," M. Ma’ruf said.

In its present form, the law does not allow the
government to disband mass groups or non-
governmental organizations involved in violence.

The move comes as the government is facing
mounting pressure from moderate Muslim leaders and
activists to take stern actions against hard-line
groups accused of using violence in furthering
their aims.

Ma’ruf said the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), the
Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) and Hizbut Tahrir
were among the groups under government scrutiny.

"However, we will first deploy a persuasive
approach. If it is ineffective, the government
will take repressive actions against them." Asked
if the move would contravene the Constitution that
guarantees the freedom of association, Ma’ruf said
people had the right to organize and express their
opinions but were prohibited from using their
organizations to attack others in the name of
religion or to disrupt security.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who led a
coordination meeting on security Thursday, said
the government would take firm action against
violent organizations. Vice President Jusuf Kalla
reiterated Friday the government’s pledge to get
tough on hard-line groups.

"Any radicalism that leads to an act of
destruction will be sternly punished and prevented
because they are trying, or will try, to break the
law. But we cannot act sternly against their
radical ideas,“he said.”These groups can think radically, which is their
right. We are not going to prevent that. We will
act when they are violating the law or trying to
hurt others."

Second edition ’Playboy’ enrages Muslim hardliners

Jakarta Post - June 9, 2006

Jakarta — The second edition of Indonesian
Playboy, which hit the streets Wednesday, is not
opposed by the nation’s Press Council but hard-
line Islamic groups are threatening street
demonstrations until the magazine is shut down for

The council said Playboy had broken no laws and
should not be banned. However, the militant and
often-lawless vigilante group, the Islam Defender
Front (FPI), said the adult magazine threatened
the moral fiber of the nation.

The second edition of the magazine bearing the
trademark bunny logo hit the nation’s streets
almost two months after the first infuriated
conservative Muslims, who attacked the magazine’s
offices in Jakarta and forced it to relocate to
the predominantly Hindu Bali.

The Press Council’s Sabam Leo Batubara told The
Jakarta Post that the second edition of Playboy
had met all requirements for a legal publication.
"The magazine had not violated the press law, and
no one should prohibit it," he said.

Sabam said the magazine featured only "soft
pornography" and it should be tolerated as adult
media the like other raunchy titles already on
sale in the country. "Soft porn is allowed as long
as it is not sold to children. Soft porn and sex
education is OK for adults," Sabam said.

After the publication of the first edition, the
Press Council criticized Playboy for selling
copies in the street.

FPI leader Habib Riziq Shihab said that by
continuing to publish, Playboy had “challenged”
the Muslim majority and said Muslim activists
would “take the challenge.” "We will take to the
streets soon to protest the publication," he told
the Antara news wire.

Riziq said he believed the news about Playboy
moving its offices to Bali was only a ploy to fool
its critics. He promised to visit the magazines
former headquarters in Fatmawati, South Jakarta,
to check whether it remained a distribution

Other hard-line groups, including the Indonesian
Mujahidin Council, the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia and
Betawi Brotherhood Forum also plan to take to the
streets in the coming days.

Several members of the House of Representatives
said they regretted the reappearance of Playboy
because it would provoke public violence.

A National Mandate Party legislator Djoko Susilo
told the publisher should have delayed
the second edition until the heat surrounding the
controversy had dissipated.

Ida Fauziah, of the Nation Awakening Party,
meanwhile, feared another round of attack on the
magazine and its sellers unless it changed its
distribution policy.

Erwin Arnada, the publisher and chief editor of
Playboy, said that starting from the third
edition, the magazine would be distributed only to
exclusive bookstores in the country’s big cities,
targeting 25- to 45-year-old readers.

"We will not allow it to be sold on the streets
and we will put a ’for adults only’ label on its
cover," he said.


Indonesia and involuntary disappearance

Jakarta Post - June 10, 2006

Veronica Kusuma, Jakarta — The United Nations
Human Rights Council in Geneva is scheduled to
begin its session on June 19. This session will
mark an important step in the human rights
struggle around the world.

Last March, many were dismayed when the UN
Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), which is now
part of the Council, suspended its session several
times. These delays led to the deferment of any
urgent action on human rights issues, including
the formal adoption of the draft International
Convention for the Protection of All Persons from
Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance.

The Convention fills a huge gap in international
law: the absence at the universal level of a
treaty addressing gross human rights violations
and the international crime that is enforced

The enforced disappearance of people is one of the
most heinous human rights violations. The victim,
deprived of all rights and thus placed outside the
protection of the law, is reduced to a situation
of total vulnerability at the hands of the
perpetrators. The Commission’s intersessional
Working Group spent several years drafting this
text. The Working Group adopted it by consensus on
Sept. 23, 2005, thanks to the constructive spirit
of all delegations. The Draft Convention is now
ready for adoption.

Since 1980, when the Working Group on Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearances was established as the
first ever independent inquiry mechanism of the
Commission on Human Rights, the Commission has
made tireless efforts to fight this terrible

In 1992, the Commission adopted the Declaration on
the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance. In 2006, as this work is nearing
its end, it would be senseless for the Council not
to confirm its commitment against enforced
disappearance by adopting the Draft International
Convention for the Protection of All Persons from
Enforced Disappearance.

Postponing the adoption of such an important text
would be an act of betrayal toward the families of
victims that have been working for its adoption
for many years. Procedural matters should not be
allowed to trump protection for the families of

The Human Rights Council is the replacement for
the 60-year old UNCHR. The UNCHR has long been
criticized for seating gross human rights
violators, enabling them to protect themselves and
their allies from scrutiny and punishment for
their own human right abuses.

Together with 46 countries from every continent,
Indonesia is one of the important members of this
council. Ironically, Indonesia has a bad record on
dealing with involuntary disappearance issues.

Besides the greatest tragedy, the crackdown on
alleged communists in 1965, Indonesia is still
coping with involuntary disappearance cases from
the 1984 Tanjung Priok incident, the 1989 Talang
Sari incident, the turbulent period of 1997-98,
and the unrest in Aceh and Papua. The 1997 and
1998 cases involving kidnappings of pro-democratic
activists are now in the hands of the National
Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), but the
commission appears powerless in the face of
rejection and resistance by the suspected
perpetrators of disappearances, especially TNI
(the Indonesian Military).

The United Nations Working Group on Enforced
Disappearances has noted that Asia holds the
largest number of involuntary disappearances on
record. Indonesia itself has at least 1,266 cases
between 1965 and 2002, mostly in areas like Aceh
and Papua where the military clashed with
rebellious factions. The greatest number of
disappearances allegedly happened between 1998 and

In Asia, only Japan and Sri Lanka supported the
drafting of the International Convention on the
Protection of All Persons from Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearance. Big countries like
China and India have refused to support it.
Indonesia has abstained.

Consequently, many organizations have lobbied to
push all member states of the Human Rights Council
to give the highest priority to approving the
International Convention for the Protection of All
Persons from Enforced Disappearance this month,
during the first session of the Human Rights
Council. Then it can be forwarded to the General
Assembly for adoption.

The Indonesian government should contribute to
this process. This will demonstrate not only its
determination to promote and protect human rights,
but also its transformation into a truly
democratic society.

[The writer is Indonesia Country Coordinator for
AFAD (Asia Federation Against Involuntary
Disappearance) and can be reached at


House, Army end row over communist fray

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — The Jakarta Military
Commander’s recent remark that the House of
Representatives has been infiltrated by
sympathizers of the outlawed Indonesian Communist
Party (PKI) was not politically motivated, Army
Chief Gen. Djoko Santoso says.

Djoko told the House Commission I on foreign
affairs and defense Tuesday that as servants of
the state, senior Army officers were forbidden
from commenting on political matters.

"The Indonesian Military already has a procedure
that bars its members from making such statements,
especially those regarding politics," Djoko told
members of the commission.

During a TNI seminar last week, Lt. Gen. Agustadi
Sasongko alleged more than 100 of House members
were connected to the PKI. The TNI leadership
quickly responded to Agustadi’s statement, saying
he was not speaking for the military.

Commission I chairman Theo L. Sambuaga, of the
Golkar Party, said the latest statement from Djoko
should bring an end to the controversy.

"I have meet with (Agustadi) and he said he was
not accusing House members of being PKI members.
He said he was only making a ’scientific
proposition’ that the communist movement is still
alive," Theo said.

Theo said political analyst Alfian Tanjung of
Hamka University first made a link between current
House members and communism. Alfian also heads
Pancasila Youth, a nationalist movement closely
linked to the New Order regime and known for its
anti-communist stance.

Commission I deputy chairman Amris Hassan of the
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)
said legislators should not overreact to the
statement. "The (TNI-)communism issue is not
substantial. What is more important is how
political parties were infiltrated," he said.

However, not all House members agreed. Lawmaker
Effendi Choirie of the National Awakening Party
(PKB) said Agustadi should be censored for the
comment because the military had no place in
politics in the reform era. "The TNI Law clearly
describes the military as a mere instrument of the
state," Effendi said.

Agustadi is not the only senior official concerned
with communist infiltration. State Intelligence
Agency chief Syamsir Siregar recently said his
agents had uncovered mounting evidence of
increased communist activities in the country.

Megawati defends party against critics

Jakarta Post - June 12, 2006

Makassar — Former president Megawati
Soekarnoputri challenged critics Saturday to prove
accusations that the political party she leads,
the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-
P), had been infiltrated by communists.

"If it’s true the PDI-P has been infiltrated by
communists, then it is the security authorities
who should be blamed for negligence," she said
while addressing a meeting of party members.

Megawati said that until some solid evidence was
presented, she would ignore the allegations and
instead concentrate on winning the 2009 general

Political foes of the PDI-P, the second largest
party after Golkar, have made much of the presence
in its leadership of Ribka Tjiptaning, the
daughter of a banned Indonesian Communist Party
(PKI) activist, and Budiman Sujatmiko, a former
member of the People’s Democratic Party, which was
banned by the Soeharto regime in 1997 on suspicion
of being a “reincarnation” of the PKI.


Replacement of antigraft court judges unfair:

Jakarta Post - June 15, 2006

Jakarta — A decision to replace three
Anticorruption Court judges after they ruled
Supreme Court Chief Justice Bagir Manan should
testify in a graft trial is unfair and irregular,
a lawyer and antigraft activist says.

Three non-career judges, Akhmad Linoh, Dudu
Duswara and I Made Hendra Kusuma, have boycotted
the graft trial of lawyer Harini Wijoso since May

That day, presiding judge Kresna Menon overruled a
3-2 vote by the panel of judges that Bagir be made
to testify as a witness in a trial, which
implicates him and other court officials. The
three judges walked out after Kresna ignored
Anticorruption Court rules, which bound him to
accept the majority decision.

Harini’s trial has stalled since, with the three
judges refusing to attend five more scheduled

A spokeswoman for the Central Jakarta District
Court, where the Anticorruption Court is based,
said the three judges would be replaced by new
non-career judges, Slamet Subagyo, Sofialdi and
Ugo, who were appointed by President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono on June 10.

Transparency International Indonesia head and
lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis said the decision showed
the influence the Supreme Court wielded in the
justice system.

"I cannot understand the logic behind this. If
(the court) wants to be fair, all five judges who
failed to reach an agreement should be replaced,"
Lubis told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Court monitoring body the Judicial Commission
recently recommended the district court suspend
Kresna for a year because he ignored the majority
decision of the panel. However, that
recommendation has not been acted on.

Harini stands accused of attempting to bribe Bagir
in 2003 to favor her client, business tycoon
Probosutedjo. She had earlier filed an appeal to
the Supreme Court against Probosutedjo’s four-year
conviction for a Rp 100.9 billion (about
US$11,000) graft case. Probosutedjo made bribery
allegations against Bagir and other Supreme Court
officials after the court rejected his appeal.

Todung said whoever replaced the three judges
would face the same dilemma — they had to decide
whether requiring Bagir to testify was necessary.
"If the new judges also disagree with the
presiding judge (Kresna), will these judges have
to be replaced again?" he said. People would start
asking what was wrong with the justice system,
Todung said.

He said the trial documents stated clearly that
Bagir was on the lists of witnesses that could be
called to testify. Prosecutors in the trial have
accused Harini of asking Probosutedjo for Rp 5
billion to bribe Bagir in 2003.

District court spokesman Ridwan Mansyur said the
Criminal Code allowed the court to replace judges
if they failed to appear in court. "We were more
worried about the case being dropped," said
Ridwan. He said Kresna would decide on a new trial
schedule for Harini within a week.

Legal activist Hendardi said that the real problem
lay within the Supreme Court. "The Supreme Court
chief justice (Bagir) holds too much authority. He
recently re-elected himself as court chief and
(has power because he) can extend judges’
retirement ages," he said.

Court orders reopening of Soeharto graft case

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2006

Jakarta — The South Jakarta District Court ruled
Monday that a decision to drop graft charges
against former president Soeharto was invalid, and
ordered the case reopened.

"I hereby declare that the decision of the
Attorney General’s Office in stopping the
prosecution of the case against Haji Muhammad
Soeharto on May 11 is illegitimate," Judge Andi
Samsan Nganro decreed.

The decision was cheered by members of three NGOs
— the Association of Advocate and Indonesian
Human Rights (APHI), the Society Movement for
Soeharto Prosecution (GEMAS) and the 1998
Activists — who filed suit over the AGO’s

"The AGO’s decision did not comply with the
standard procedures in stopping the prosecution of
a case, as mentioned in Article 140, point 2 of
the Criminal Court Procedures. It means that the
prosecution of Soeharto’s case should be reopened
and carried out," Andi said in explaining the
court’s decision.

It also found that desisting from further
prosecution contravened a February 2002 Supreme
Court order that the AGO ensure Soeharto receive
all necessary medical treatment so he would be fit
to be brought to trial.

Andi also said that the Attorney General’s Office
had to be careful in interpreting all regulations
on ceasing prosecution.

According to the procedures, a case may be dropped
if the suspect dies or there is a demand for the
measure because it will be beneficial to the

On May 12, Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh
cited the former reason in announcing the dropping
of charges, a decision made the previous day, and
said Soeharto’s health condition was considered
not dissimilar to that of a grave state. At the
time, Soeharto had been hospitalized for a month
due to internal bleeding; he was released at the
end of the month.

The AGO’s counsel, Marwan Effendi, said the
defense team was considering its next course of
action, including lodging an appeal.

"The AGO and the court have different
interpretations on legality of ending Soeharto’s
case prosecution." Marwan argued the AGO had
considered several alternatives for resolving the
prolonged legal case, including requesting an in-
absentia trial, but it was rejected by the Supreme

Chief attorney for the NGOs’ legal team, Johnson
Pandjaitan, said the court decision increased the
possibility of the octogenarian being tried in
absentia. "Soeharto is only one of the dozens of
people that could be brought to trial in relation
to corruption cases in his foundations," Johnson

Soeharto allegedly misappropriated at least US$419
million plus another Rp 1.3 trillion of state
money through the foundations.

Johnson did not believe the decision would be
struck down if it went to appeal. "The new Supreme
Court Law states that the judge’s decree in this
trial is inkraach, or final," he said.

Money-laundering crackdown falters

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2006

Rendi Akhmad Witular, Jakarta — Despite the
declared wide-ranging crackdown on corruption,
Indonesia remains a haven for money launderers
lured by rampant opportunities.

Weak law enforcement, a notoriously slack
bureaucracy and the recent slowdown in the drive
against money laundering have contributed to a
rise in the number of suspicious financial

Although several key financial institutions are
required to report any suspicious transactions to
the money laundering watchdog, several of them are
afraid to do so in cases involving influential
figures. It may seem to some that the long arm of
the law only touches those without connections to
politicians or high-ranking military and police

The Jakarta Post’s Rendi Akhmad Witular delves
into the progress made curbing money laundering in
the special report on this page.

Now that Indonesia has gotten off the list of
countries deemed uncooperative in the global fight
against money laundering, the government’s efforts
to stamp out the crime seem to have run out of

Recent figures suggest the country is once again
becoming a haven for criminals who want to make
large sums of ill-gotten cash appear legitimate.

"As pressure from the international community
decreases, the government seems to lose that
encouragement to step up efforts to prevent money
laundering in our financial system," said Yunus
Husein, chairman of the Financial Transaction
Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), Indonesia’s
money laundering watchdog.

According to PPATK, there was a 95 percent jump in
the average number of dubious financial
transactions reported to the agency from January
through April, compared to last year.

During that period, the watchdog received an
average of 335 reports per month, compared to 171
reports last year. It has already received 1,006
reports in the first four months of the year,
compared to 2,055 received during all of last

Yunus said that the increase in the number of
suspicious financial transactions could be
attributed both to an increase in money laundering
activities and to an improved rate of reporting by
some financial institutions.

Although banks, insurance firms, pension funds,
financing firms, investment managers, and currency
traders are required to report any suspicious
transaction to the agency, some are afraid to do
so in cases involving influential figures.

"We actually want to cooperate with the PPATK. But
there is no guarantee that our operations will not
be disturbed by certain parties if we report cases
involving figures who have political connections,"
said a banker who requested anonymity.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the
Justice and Human Rights Ministry is dragging its
feet in amending the existing anti-money
laundering law. The changes were requested by the
international community when it dropped Indonesia
from the money laundering blacklist.

After four years of pleading by the government,
the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force
(FATF), the global money laundering watchdog,
removed Indonesia from its list of Non-Cooperative
Countries and Territories (NCCT) in February 2005.

The watchdog, which was established by the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development, will continue to monitor the country
on a yearly basis to see whether it is following
up on several recommendations, including the
revision of the money laundering law.

The ministry is supposed to initiate the revision
of the law before it is submitted to the House of
Representatives for deliberation this year and
implementation next year.

"There are so many laws that I have to manage. I
cannot recall the progress of the revision (of the
money laundering law)," Justice and Human Rights
Minister Hamid Awaluddin said.

"I don’t think it is necessary to speed up the
revision process since there are other laws which
are more urgent," Hamid added.

The focus of the planned revision will be on
enlarging the role of the PPATK, including giving
it the authority to freeze assets. Other
provisions would allow more institutions to
conduct money laundering investigations, and
expand the list of companies required to report to
the PPATK.

The National Police are currently the only body
authorized to investigate money laundering cases
based on evidence from the PPATK. However, their
performance has been disappointing, with some of
their officials being indicted by the PPATK for
alleged involvement in high profile money
laundering crimes.

"We are proposing that the government enable the
Attorney General’s Office and civil servant
investigators to pursue money laundering cases as
well, in order to limit the monopoly of the
police," said Yunus.

The PPATK would also add several kinds of
businesses to its list of institutions required to
report suspicious financial transactions linked to
money laundering and corruption.

Included in the new list would be property
companies, automotive dealers, jewelry sellers and
legal and accounting firms.

Yunus is concerned that if Indonesia fails to
improve its anti-money laundering efforts
immediately, it could find itself back on the list
of countries categorized as havens for money

Being put back on the blacklist could result in
serious economic consequences for Indonesia. It
could jeopardize the overseas acceptance of
Indonesian financial transactions, and lead to the
imposition of higher risk premiums.

Yunus suggested that foreign creditors and
agencies grouped in the Consultative Group on
Indonesia (CGI) could push the government to
seriously combat money laundering during their
upcoming meeting Wednesday.

"Improvement in Indonesia is often triggered by
pressure from the international community. If the
pressure slows down there is usually no initiative
coming from inside the government to keep the
effort alive or to make small improvements," he

Indonesia a good place to learn dubious dealing

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2006

Rendi Akhmad Witular, Jakarta — As a world
heavyweight in corruption, Indonesia may be a
haven for novice corruptors and white-collar
criminals around the world to learn how to launder
money derived from illicit sources.

From the most simple method, smuggling cash
overseas, to the most complicated manipulations
involving insurance firms, banks and securities
houses — there’s a supporting infrastructure for
all of them, such as easy ways to get a fake
identification card.

The most simple method of money laundering is to
deposit the dirty cash in several bank accounts,
under different fake IDs, by breaking the money
into portions of less than Rp 100 million

Under the existing money laundering law, financial
and non-financial institutions can only report a
suspicious transaction if it involves a sum
amounting more than Rp 500 million in a one-day
transaction. But it is safer for money launderer
if the transactions are made in much smaller
portions so as to escape the suspicion of the
institutions as the transactions seem to be made
by ordinary individuals.

If a money launderer does not want to go to
through this relatively laborious process, he or
she can simply go to tiny banks in villages and
deposit all the money there without having to
limit the amount.

With more than 2,100 micro-banks across the
country, it is difficult for the Financial
Transactions Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK),
the country’s money laundering watchdog, to
monitor suspicious transactions at them,
especially since the agency faces a lack of human

A rather complicated method is to cooperate with
big-fish gangsters in Jakarta or Surabaya to set
up a company which engages in the gambling,
prostitution, and hotel businesses. These
companies cover their tracks by having operating
licenses as automotive parts traders.

"This is the most popular method used by corrupt
tax and customs officials because these businesses
are the most liquid. Whenever they need cash they
can obtain it quickly," said an official with the
Finance Ministry.

"The companies that run the business also act as
banks where the corrupt officials can easily store
their illegal money. Since the inception of the
PPATK it is not very safe to store such money in
banks," said the official.

Aside from putting their money in property,
jewelry and cars, money launderers also like to
invest in restaurant and cafe businesses, most of
which will be closed after operating for less than
a year.

A more complicated money laundering method
involving insurance firms has recently become
popular. Based on a report from the PPATK, money
launderers usually apply for insurance products
and pay a large amount of premium.

Many insurance salesmen avoid the "know your
customer" policy in order to get as much as the
clients, although some evidences suggest some
irregularities in the form of huge gap between the
income receive by the policyholder with the paid

In the capital market, money laundering usually
occurs by indirectly selling and buying stocks,
mutual funds and bonds using small securities
houses, according to the PPATK.

After pooling enough funds, these small brokerages
then turn over the investment portfolios to larger
securities firms to avoid suspicion. In some
cases, investment managers and lawyers are hired
to work as executives in several companies on
behalf of corrupt officials, using the positions
as a cover while managing and laundering their

Watchdog reveals dirty linen hidden in police

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2006

Rendi Akhmad Witular, Jakarta — The uncovering
last year of suspicious financial transactions
involving the bank accounts of 15 police officers
is believed to be only the tip of a corruption
iceberg of monumental proportions that is slowly
sinking whatever credibility the national force

Apparently reluctant police investigators have so
far managed to wrap up their inquiries in respect
of accounts held by only two mid-ranking police
officers, who, by coincidence, just happen to have
no strong political connections. The findings of
these investigations have been submitted to the

News of the suspicious transactions, believed to
involve more than Rp 2 trillion (US$217 million)
in total, was leaked to the public in July last
year by the Financial Transaction Reports Analysis
Center (PPATK), which appeared to be taken aback
by the scale of police involvement in money
laundering and corruption.

It is worth noting that the highest take-home pay
of a four-star police general is about Rp 10
million ($950) a month.

After detecting the transactions in 2004, the
watchdog decided to submit its findings to the
police. They were only made public after police
chief Gen. Sutanto took office in the hope that
his reputation for integrity would serve to
instill some seriousness into the investigations.

Among the police generals believed to be involved
are former police chief Gen. Da’i Bachtiar,
serving chief of detectives Comr. Gen. Makbul
Padmanegara, and current Jakarta police chief
Insp. Gen. Firman Gani. However, these officers
have denied their involvement on a number of

Sources at the PPATK said the police were still
slow in investigating the cases, apparently due to
the influence the suspect generals still wield
within the force, as evident from the fact that
investigators had yet to request any further
information on the transactions from the money-
laundering watchdog.

"If they were serious, they would have at least
asked us for more information that could reveal
the involvement of high-ranking police officers.
What they requested instead was only information
on bank accounts held by officers with little or
no influence in high places," said a source.

The leaking of the information on the dodgy
accounts was the first piece of strong evidence to
emerge about the amount of dirty money changing
hands within the police, which is considered to be
among the most corrupt institutions in the

Over the past two years, the PPATK has submitted
hundreds of reports of money laundering involving
the proceeds of high-profile graft cases to the
police for investigation, but very few of them
have reached the prosecution service.

The PPATK has also uncovered a host of suspicious
transactions involving the bank accounts of a
number of mid-ranking police officers holding key
positions in the Papua regional police. The money
involved is believed to be the proceeds of illegal

However, little headway has been made to date in
the investigations.

The only high-profile case that appears to be
under serious investigation at the present time is
that involving well-known banker Eduard Cornelis
William Neloe, who allegedly tried to launder some
$5.2 million through a Swiss bank.

Even in this case, however, after two months of
investigation, there are no indications of when
the police will submit a file to the prosecution
service, leading to fears that the case may
eventually be buried.

Neloe, a former president director of the
country’s largest lender, Bank Mandiri, managed to
escape conviction earlier this year on charges of
involvement in a banking scam worth billions of

Court rules that Suharto’s graft case should

Agence France Presse - June 12, 2006

Jakarta — An Indonesian judge has ruled that the
dropping of a long-running corruption case against
former dictator Suharto was illegal and ordered
the case reopened.

It was not immediately clear whether an appeal
could be launched against the decision. The
attorney-general’s office announced last month
that it had dropped a case against the ailing ex-
president, who is accused of embezzling billions
of dollars of state assets during his 32-year
rule, due to his poor health.

Judge Andi Samsang Nganro, the judge reviewing
so-called “pre-trial” suits against the office
launched by three activist groups, backed their
claim that the procedure the office followed had
been illegal. "The case in the name of Suharto
should be reopened and continued," Nganro said in
his verdict.

Under the Indonesian legal system, a pre-trial
suit challenges the legality of the pre-trial
process, including decisions to drop cases.

Nganro said the penal code only permitted a case
to be dropped if it was outdated, had already been
heard in court or its defendant had died. "It
cannot be halted based on a mere interpretation,"
Nganro said.

The attorney-general’s office based its decision
to drop the case on an interpretation of a Supreme
Court decree which had recommended that Suharto
only face trial if and when his physical condition
improved. The office argued it could not implement
the decree as Suharto’s health had deteriorated
too much.

Marwan Effendi, representing the attorney-
general’s office, said his team wanted time to
decide whether to appeal. But Johnson Panjaitan,
one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, told the court
that such a decision in a pre-trial ruling could
not be appealed.

Due to ill health Suharto has never taken the
stand for corruption charges levelled against him
in 2000. These accuse him of misusing more than
500 million dollars from charitable foundations he
set up during his rule.

The suits were filed by the Indonesian Association
of Legal Attorneys and Human Rights Counselors,
the so-called Advocacy Team for the Trial of
Suharto, and an unnamed group of former student
activists who opposed Suharto’s rule.

Suharto, 85, stepped down amid mounting unrest in
1998 after ruling Indonesia with an iron grip.


Bashir says extremists misguided, Australia urges

Agence France Presse - June 15, 2006

Solo — A firebrand Indonesian cleric who served
time for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings has
reportedly called Islamic extremists “misguided”
holy warriors, as Australia’s prime minister
called for him to be monitored.

Abu Bakar Bashir returned to the Muslim boarding
school he founded in Central Java’s Solo late
Wednesday after he was released from his maximum-
security prison in Jakarta at the end of a nearly
26-month term.

Speaking to reporters amid a throng of ardent
supporters who greeted him at the Al-Mukmin
school, Bashir said alleged terror chief Noordin
Mohammad Top and his followers should revise their
violent methods.

"I would say that they are misguided mujahideen
(holy warriors). Fighting using bombs or weapons
in a peaceful zone is forbidden," Bashir said
according to the Detikcom online news agency.

"So I hope they will review their methods.
Hopefully there will not be any more violence in
the future. All this time they have chosen the
wrong way," the alleged leader of the Jemaah
Islamiyah (JI) regional extremist group said.

JI has been blamed for a string of deadly blasts
in Indonesia. Nevertheless, the cleric reportedly
said the militants deserved to be called holy
warriors because their intention was to defend
Islam. Bashir also urged Muslims to fight for
Islam using peaceful means.

"Every time there’s a bomb attack in this country,
America cheers. They are more afraid of our
peaceful struggle. It must be kept in mind that
America’s plot today is to create havoc within
Islam," he was quoted as saying.

Bashir was to spend Thursday resting and
overseeing teaching at his school, his students
told reporters. No media were permitted inside the

Bashir’s release provoked strong criticism from
both Australia, which lost 88 of its nationals in
the Bali attacks which killed 202 people, and the
United States.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said
Thursday he had written to Indonesia’s president
urging him to monitor Bashir’s activities and
noted there was "deep anger in the Australian
community" at his release.

Howard told parliament his response to the release
was “a reaction verging on hostility and disgust.”
He noted the UN Security Council had listed Bashir
as a terrorist and that he was subject to an
assets freeze, restricted international travel and
a ban on accessing arms.

"We would hope that the Indonesian government
would fully adhere to and support the
implementation of its obligations under that part
of the Security Council’s resolution," Howard told

In Jakarta national deputy police spokesman Anton
Bahrul Alam said Bashir’s sermons at his boarding
school would be monitored but police would not be
doing the job.

"Mr. Bashir’s sermons will be observed in a form
of monitoring. It can be done by anyone, it can be
done by the public there, it can be done by
neighbourhood chiefs,“Alam told reporters.”If
his sermons are aligned with God’s path, then go
ahead," he said, adding that police would not be
sent to the school.

Bashir, 68, was originally sentenced to 30 months
for his role in a “sinister conspiracy” that led
to the Bali bombings. He was cleared of terrorism
charges and his sentence cut in August 2005 as
part of regular remissions handed to prisoners.

Analysts here have said they did not believe
Bashir holds the influence he once did over
militants in Indonesia, with others — such as
fugitive Malaysian national Noordin — emerging as
major security threats.

Separately, the UN’s food agency said Thursday it
had cancelled a contract to deliver earthquake aid
with an organisation because it was chaired by

Does Bashir still wield influence among radicals?

Radio Australia - June 14, 2006

Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has been
released from a Jakarta prison, where he served
two years for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali
bombings. Bashir is viewed by the West as the
spiritual leader of the regional militant network,
Jemaah Islamiah. He has now been taken back to his
home town of Solo in West Java. Yet already
questions are being asked about the impact of Abu
Bakar Bashir’s release on counter-terrorism
operations in southeast Asia.

Professor Zachary Abuzer, specialist on terror
links in southeast Asia, who’s on leave from
Simmons College in Boston

Presenter/Interviewer: Sen Lam

Abuza: In terms of the impact on terrorism, I
don’t think it will be tremendous. I don’t believe
that Abu Bakar Bashir will be in a position where
he will be able to authorise or command terrorist
attacks. But it’s a very important topic and a
victory. He will be a media superstar in the
country for the coming weeks. There will be a lot
of news about his release and he has made it very
clear that he’s going on a road show to promote a
book about his internment and so I think this will
give a lot of a voice and really empower the
Islamists in the country.

Lam: You think that prison has lent him greater
credibility amongst the Jihadist groups?

Abuza: Oh, absolutely and it certainly didn’t stop
him from doing what he was doing. His sermons were
being recorded. He was holding audiences. He had a
secretary while in prison. So he believes and many
Islamists would agree with this that he was in
prison because of diplomatic interference by the
Australian and American governments and so that
probably gives him even greater credibility.

Lam: Abu Bakar Bashir I understand is still head
of the Mujahadeen Council of Indonesia?

Abuza: Yes.

Lam: Is there any significance in that, given that
the MMI is an umbrella body for groups that are
longing for a theocratic state in Indonesia?

Abuza: Oh I think it’s very important. The MMI was
growing in strength considerably in 2000, 2001,
2002. For their National Congress in 2003, they
had actually invited and the vice president of the
country had accepted an invitation to speak. He
cancelled at the last minute, right after the
Marriot bombing in August 2003. And a lot of
analysts wrote the MMI off and said that it was
really no longer an important organisation. I
disagree and I think that it’s continued to be a
very important umbrella organisation. It now is
going to have its very charismatic head back in
control and they’re slowly getting their agenda
pushed through.

Lam: So given the sensitive situation, what
options are open to the Indonesian Government and
indeed the neighbouring Australian Government,
which of course has been following Bashir’s
impending release with some concern?

Abuza: Certainly. The Indonesian Government seems
fairly non plussed about it. They said that
they’re not going to restrict any of his travel or
movement. They said that they will keep an eye on
him to a degree, but he is a free man. Legally,
there’s very little that they’re going to do to
him. JI is not an illegal organisation in
Indonesia, and unless he can be linked to a
terrorist attack, they will do nothing, and I
don’t believe that the Indonesian Government is
going to criminalise JI as an organisation any
time soon.

The US Government in April this year, had
designated Abu Bakar Bashir as a terrorist
financier and put him on the foreign terrorist
organisation designation list and he’s also been
designated by the United Nations as a terrorist
financier. To that end, Indonesia has a legal
obligation to make sure noone can donate money to
him or his organisations.

Lam: It might be worthwhile to remind our
listeners that Abu Bakar Bashir was convicted not
of any criminal activity or terrorist activity,
but for being part of a conspiracy and in fact for
his influence if you like. Would that be a fair

Abuza: No, that’s a very accurate assessment. The
Indonesian Government has shown a very strong
determination to go after members of JI that they
can clearly link to terrorist attacks, but they’ve
been unwilling to go after people within the
organisation who are simply politically very
protected like Abu Bakar Bashir. And so really
since mid 2003, JI has not had a spiritual leader
and I think that the fact that Bashir has been
released will be a very important for the

Lam: What is your view of his role? Do you think
that Abu Bakar Bashir really has it in him or has
this belief in him that he wants to destroy
America, that he wants to destroy Western

Abuza: Oh there’s no doubt in my mind. He’s made
it very clear in his speeches that Australia, the
United States, Britain, Singapore, the
Philippines, Thailand, these governments should be
attacked and brought down and he is just not even
hidden his contempt for Western society and
secularly institutions.

Gus Dur accused of desecrating Koran

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2006

Jakarta — Former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur”
Wahid has been reported by conservative clerics to
the police for allegedly desecrating the holy

"Gus Dur has upset many Muslims with his comments
when he described the Koran as a pornographic
scripture," said Ahmad Chamid Baidhowi, the head
of Al-Wadah Muslim boarding school in Central
Java. He said he represented 500 Muslim religious
leaders in Java and Madura.

"I showed the police 500 signatures of clerics
from across Java and Madura who have demanded Gus
Dur retract his comments," Ahmad said.

Gus Dur made the comments while talking about the
pornography bill last month during a talk show on
Jakarta’s FM Radio 68H. Arguing that describing
something as pornographic was a subjective act,
Gus Dur said even certain passages in the Koran
could be interpreted as pornography.

Ahmad also reported the host of the Radio 68H M.
Guntur Romli, and the show producer, Nurlambang,
to police. Ahmad’s lawyer, Mugiyono, said Gus Dur
had violated Article 156 A of the Criminal Code.
If found guilty he could be sentenced to five
years jail, Mugiyono said.

Indonesia releases militant Islamic cleric

Associated Press - June 14, 2006

Robin McDowell, Jakarta — A reputed top leader of
an al-Qaida-linked terror group that has been
blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings and other deadly
attacks walked free from prison Wednesday to cries
of “God is great” from cheering supporters.

Abu Bakar Bashir, 68, had served 26 months for
conspiracy in the Bali bombings, which killed 202
people and thrust Indonesia, the world’s most
populous Muslim nation, onto the front lines of
the war on terror.

“I thank Allah that I am free today,” a smiling
Bashir said after emerging from a scrum of
supporters and journalists waiting outside the
gates of Jakarta’s Cipinang prison. "I call on all
Muslims to unite behind one goal, that is the
implementation of Sharia law."

Australia and the United States, which have
accused Bashir of being a key member of Southeast
Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, said they
were disappointed at his release, as did
Australian victims of the Bali blasts.

"It’s hard to imagine how a leader of a gang...
can get only two years for orchestrating to kill
200 people and injuring many more," said Peter
Hughes, 46, who suffered burns to 56 percent of
his body in the attack. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Eight-eighty of the Bali bombing fatalities were
from Australia. Brian Deegan, whose 21-year-old
son Josh died in the bombings, called Bashir’s
26-month sentence “insulting.”

Jemaah Islamiyah is accused of carrying out church
bombings across Indonesia in 2000, the 2002 Bali
bombings, attacks in the Indonesian capital in
2003 and 2004, and a triple suicide bombing on
Bali last October. The attacks together killed
more than 260 people. Indonesian police say the
group has received funds from al-Qaida.

After being released, the preacher immediately set
off for the boarding school he founded in central
Java province, which is notorious for spawning
many of the world’s most populous Muslim nation’s
deadliest terrorists.

"The United States is a state terrorist because it
is waging war against Muslims in Iraq and
Afghanistan," Bashir told reporters when asked
about US accusations that he was a key member of
Jemaah Islamiyah.

Bashir’s freedom has raised concerns that he will
energize Indonesia’s small, Islamic radical fringe
by making impassioned speeches at rallies and
mosques, but few believe the stick-thin, softly
spoken cleric will play any direct role in
terrorism in the future.

Before the Bali blasts, Bashir was chiefly known
for his vocal support of moves to make the secular
country an Islamic state and his criticism of US
policy toward Muslim countries. He has always
maintained his innocence.

Indonesia’s State Intelligence Agency chief,
Syamsir Siregar, said he hoped Bashir would
"regain his self-awareness and be willing to
cooperate with us."

The leading expert on Jemaah Islamiyah said she
didn’t think his release would lead to more terror
attacks, but added that Bashir was unlikely to
help anti-terrorist investigators.

"I don’t think it makes much difference whether
he’s released or stays in prison," said Sidney
Jones, Jakarta-based director of the International
Crisis Group. "I think he will reinforce anti-
Western feelings... but I don’t think he’ll
necessary push people over the line from radical
rhetoric to violence."

The US State Department expressed deep
disappointment about what it called Bashir’s light
sentence. Spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday
the court which convicted him concluded that he
was a participant in "a sinister conspiracy to
cause a fire or explosion resulting in deaths."
But, he said, it is up to Indonesians and the
Indonesian courts to interpret their own laws.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he,
too, felt disillusioned at the news of Bashir’s
release. "Many Australians will see that
particular outcome... as an extremely
disappointing result," Howard told Parliament,
adding that he shared that sentiment.

Bashir was found guilty of blessing the 2002 Bali
attacks, but cleared of more serious terrorist
charges, including heading Jemaah Islamiyah.

However, Indonesian and foreign intelligence
officers say he played a key role in setting up
the terror group, and led it from 1999 to 2002.
His al-Mukmin boarding school was attended by many
people convicted in terror attacks in Indonesia,
and remains notorious for its hardline syllabus.

No evidence has ever been presented linking him to
the execution, preparation or commission of terror
attacks, and most analysts agree he had little
operational role within Jemaah Islamiyah after
2002, often describing him as a spiritual leader.

The turnout at the prison on Wednesday was small
despite efforts by his supporters to rally a large
crowd, and no mainstream Islamic figures or
politicians were present, underscoring his small
and isolated following.

Freed Bashir mobbed by supporters

Australian Associated Press - June 14, 2006

Abu Bakar Bashir, the firebrand Islamic cleric
accused of inspiring the first Bali bombings, has
walked free from Jakarta’s main prison and into
the arms of hundreds of jubilant militant

Lifting his hands in the air an otherwise subdued
Bashir muttered “I thank Allah” as he was mobbed
by adoring fans, many in black “mujahidin”

Wearing a white skull cap, grey suit and red
checked headscarf, the bespectacled 68-year-old
made no mention of the 2002 Bali bombings, in
which 88 Australians were killed, or a subsequent
string of deadly terrorist attacks in Indonesia.

Instead he vowed to continue his struggle to bring
strict Islamic sharia law to mainly-Muslim
Indonesia. "To the lawyers who have
enthusiastically defended me during the trial we
will keep on fighting to uphold sharia," he said
in a brief speech targeting moderate opponents.

“Upholding sharia is full of struggle,” he added,
before being whisked away with his son Rachim in a
black van to begin a road trip to Solo, an ancient
royal city in central Java where he teaches his
radical brand of Islam at the Ngruki boarding
school, dubbed the “Ivy League” of militant

During his road trip he planned to visit
earthquake survivors around nearby Yogyakarta.

Security was tight outside the prison with scores
of police keeping watch. Scores of supporters were
bused in to cheer Bashir. But three were killed in
a car accident on their way from Solo.

Many in the crowd wore headbands and carried
copies of Bashir’s new book, I Was Falsely
Accused, The Days of Abu Bakar Bashir in Prison.
On its pages, the cleric denounces Prime Minister
John Howard as “an infidel” and “enemy of Allah”.

He also accuses Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
of pressuring Indonesia to keep him in prison
following an earlier 18-month jail sentence for
minor immigration offences.

The Malaysian-born Bashir denied allegations by
western nations that he is the “emir”, or
spiritual head, of the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist

He has called on all Indonesian Muslims to defend
the nation “against violence”. "We must believe
that this country will be safe from all darkness
under Islamic sharia," he said.

Bashir was released 15 minutes ahead of schedule
and his chaotic departure from Jakarta’s Cipinang
Prison took his legal team by surprise.

One of Bashir’s lawyers, Adnan Wirawan, said plans
for the journey to Solo had been thrown into
disarray by a small band of supporters who bundled
him into a van.

"This is not the plan and right now we don’t know
where he is,“Adnan told AAP.”All the plans that
we have set up for him, it has been deviated. We
have to find him so we can take him to Solo."

Australia’s government has called on Indonesia to
place Bashir under close surveillance amid
warnings by some terrorist analysts that his
release could inspire more terror attacks.

The United States said it was deeply disappointed
with Bashir’s release from what Washington
believed had been a light 25-month sentence for
giving blessings to the first Bali attacks.

Asked about possible police surveillance of his
father, Rachim said he was unafraid. "I don’t care
about it. If they want to watch, go ahead," he

Lawyer Adnan said any move to place Bashir under
surveillance would be a violation of his rights.
"I expect that there will be a discrimination
surveillance of him and that would be
unconstitutional, because he is as free as
everyone else in the country," he said.

Accusations Bashir had been the leader of JI would
be proven wrong, Adnan said. "That is a paranoid
version of the western media. He has never been a
man of violence,“he said.”What is to be afraid
of? He has never been proven to kill a fly, an
animal, he has never been proven to kill anyone."

The massive show of support for Bashir outside the
prison proved he was innocent, Adnan said. "People
will not worship someone who is evil, who is a
criminal, and if a lot of people still worship him
it proves that he is an innocent man," he said.

Before Bashir’s release, Indonesia’s State
Intelligence Agency chief, Syamsir Siregar, said
he hoped Bashir would not cause any trouble. "We
hope Bashir, after he has been jailed, will regain
his self-awareness and be willing to cooperate
with us," Siregar told politicians earlier this

Jemaah Islamiah is accused of carrying out church
bombings across Indonesia in 2000, the Bali
bombings in 2002, attacks in the Indonesian
capital in 2003 and 2004, and a triple suicide
bombing on Bali last October. The attacks together
killed more than 260 people.

Bashir has little active support in Indonesia,
where most Muslims follow a moderate form of the

On his road trip Bashir criticised the United
States. "The United States is a state terrorist
because it is waging war against Muslims in Iraq
and Afghanistan," he told reporters when asked
about US accusations he was a terror leader.
Bashir made the remark after he stopped for midday
prayers in the town of Tegal, 300km east of

Indonesia strikes back at Islamist hardliners

Asia Times - June 13, 2006

Gary LaMoshi, Denpasar — Last week was a rough
one for jihadis in Indonesia. President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration launched a
long-overdue comprehensive campaign against
violent Islamic extremists. In the country with
the world’s most Muslims, the outcome of
Yudhoyono’s initiative could prove far more
significant in the global war for the hearts and
minds of Muslims than the assassination of Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi.

Since the fall of General Suharto’s New Order
regime in 1998, Islamic extremists have asserted
their right to enjoy the fruits of democracy and
impose the will of Indonesia’s Muslim majority as
they presume to interpret it. They’re unperturbed
that most Indonesians, Muslim and non-Muslim
alike, oppose their agenda. These radicals are no
democrats. Politically educated under Suharto’s
reign of physical intimidation and intolerance of
dissent, they merely wish to substitute their own
version of autocracy and repression.

A handful of radical Islamic groups use violence
as a first resort against their opponents, often
with a wink from authorities. Violent extremism’s
renaissance began with police using vigilantes to
extract protection money from reluctant bar owners
and blossomed with the military’s logistical
support to send thousands of jihadis to the
Malukus and central Sulawesi to undermine
Abdurrahman Wahid’s presidential election victory
in 1999. Armed mobs draped in the white robes of
Islam routinely attack churches, homes and
businesses they accuse of various heretical views
while police take no action and perpetrators
escape prosecution. Government reluctance to stand
up to thugs gives the impression of implicit
approval, or that the extremists serve a higher

Disrupting public order

Last July, thousands of vigilantes stormed a
community of 700 members of Amadiyah, a Muslim
splinter group in Bogor, a hill town outside
Jakarta where President Yudhoyono makes his family
home. The national Attorney General’s Office
promised to investigate Ahmadiyah, not the
attackers, as “disruptive to the public order”.
Strikes on other Ahmadiyah facilities as well as a
wave of attacks on Christian churches followed.

This April, a violent Islamic extremist campaign
spearheaded by Islam Defenders Front (known by its
Indonesian abbreviation FPI) stopped publication
of a nudity-free local edition of Playboy
magazine. Mobs threatened and attacked news
vendors and distributors, seized magazines and
stoned the publisher’s office while police
passively stood by. Mainstream groups joined the
campaign against Playboy, offering mild regrets
over any violence in pursuit of the righteous

Proposed anti-pornography legislation, laden with
Islamist principles better suited for
fundamentalist regimes such as Saudi Arabia, has
become a focal point in the struggle over the
creeping Islamization in Indonesia, which has more
non-Muslims than Australia and Canada combined.
The bill has also become a convenient excuse for
violent displays of piety. After a rally in
Jakarta last month supporting the legislation,
extremist thugs attacked clubs in Jakarta and
descended on the homes of prominent opponents of
the bill. One target asked police for help as mobs
harassed her, chanting slogans outside her house
and telling her to leave town. Jakarta police
chief Firman Gani demurred, saying he’d need a
language expert to determine whether the chants
violated the law.

Last straw

The last straw stirring Yudhoyono’s ponderous
government appears to have been an attack on
former president Wahid on May 23. At an interfaith
forum in the West Java town of Purwakarta, members
of FPI and other radical groups forced Wahid,
virtually blind and limited physically because of
a series of strokes, off the stage. The radicals
cited Wahid’s opposition to the anti-pornography
bill as an insult to Islam.

Mainstream Muslim groups Nahdlatul Ulama —
formerly headed by Wahid — and Muhammidyah, with
a combined membership of 70 million, denounced
FPI’s action against Wahid. Hundreds of his young
supporters from the National Awakening Party’s
paramilitary wing poured into the streets,
clashing with FPI members.

It may not have been just the political cover from
mass organizations and the prospect of further
street violence that moved the government. If the
extremists went after Wahid, a Muslim cleric and
scholar as well as a former president, no
politician could feel safe. While Wahid’s
iconoclasm and failed presidency — he was removed
in favor of Megawati Sukarnoputri after two stormy
years in office — have left him virtually
powerless, he’s still widely respected as a symbol
of Indonesia’s unique brand of Islam. Radicals
might have miscalculated Wahid’s political
impotence as a signal they’d win applause rather
than condemnation for attacking him.

’Invisible hands’

The Yudhoyono administration’s campaign against
violent Islamists began innocently in the
president’s Pancasila Day speech on June 1.
Pancasila (Sanskrit for “five principles”) is the
national philosophy enshrined by the nation’s
founders and subsequently corrupted under Suharto.
In his speech, Yudhoyono called for a revival of
Pancasila and accused “invisible hands” of trying
to spread ideas against the nation’s core
principles of tolerance and pluralism. Although
the “invisible hands” metaphor is hardly apt for
white-robed mobs with stones and clubs, the
message came through.

The speech was a nice bit of political shadow-
boxing, indirectly confronting the extremists and
recasting the debate in the government’s chosen
terms. But Yudhoyono is becoming famous for saying
the right things, when he does finally speak out,
and then failing to follow through with effective

This week, the action began. On Wednesday, Widodo
Adi Suptjipto, coordinating minister for
political, legal and security affairs, announced
that the government will no longer tolerate groups
that take the law into their own hands. While that
may have been said before, Widodo added this
important coda: the government will provide
political cover for police and support their
effort to enforce the law against these groups, no
matter who their patrons may be.

When the Indonesian police receive political
support, as in the Bali bombings of 2002, they’ve
proved they can act professionally and decisively.
The Bali investigation featured star officer
Mangku Pastika in charge, and the spotlight now
falls on Jakarta police chief Gani to show his
stuff. Even though vigilantism isn’t restricted to
Jakarta, the capital has seen the highest-profile
incidents and Gani stands out as a symbol of
police indifference.

On Friday, Home Minister M Ma’ruf announced an
agreement with legislative leaders to enact a law
enabling the government to dissolve organizations
“disturbing security and order”. Though the vague
wording smacks of Suharto-era repression, human-
rights activists didn’t promptly unleash their
usual complaints. Perhaps they realize that
thuggery is a greater threat to rights than a
potentially restrictive new law. They may also
recognize that the real purpose of the proposal is
to get political parties — Yudhoyono represents a
tiny party and gets spotty support from the larger
ones — and legislators to denounce vigilantism
and withdraw their support from such groups.

These are all good, solid moves, breaking the
government’s deafening silence on extremist
violence. Expect more this week: Yudhoyono (or
Vice President Jusuf Kalla) will meet with the
leaders of major Muslim organizations, and each
group’s head will denounce extremist violence as
contrary to Islam. A similar meeting and
announcement after the second Bali bombings last
October reversed the groups’ lukewarm criticism of
terrorist violence — it’s wrong but we understand
why — and prompted a sea change in public opinion
from indifference to condemnation of such acts of

Condemning the radical thugs may prove a greater
challenge for so-called mainstream leaders who
have found common ground with extremists.
Muhammidyah chairman Din Syamsuddin also chairs
the Indonesia Ulemas Council, the would-be supreme
authority for Islam in Indonesia whose fatwa
against heretics and pluralism have provided
religious cover for violence. The usual weasel is
that the leaders condemn the violence but blame
police for failing to prevent it, rather than the
perpetrators. Onstage with the president, the
leaders will lose their wiggle room.

Hypocrisy isn’t all being laid bare as violent
extremism comes under counterattack. Playboy
surprised the public and especially extremists
with its second issue. After being run out of
Jakarta by hardliners and suspending publication,
the magazine didn’t fold but quietly relocated to
predominantly Hindu Bali. The second Playboy
includes blank pages dedicated to advertisers
who’ve been threatened for placing ads in the
first issue. While still free of nudity, June’s
Bali-based French model Amar Doriane in a sheer
negligee makes April’s Playmate "look like a naive
schoolgirl" according to one local newspaper. The
Yudhoyono team wasn’t alone in showing a bit of
cheek toward violent radicals last week.

[Gary LaMoshi has worked as a broadcast producer
and print writer and editor in the US and Asia.
Longtime editor of investor rights advocate, he is also a contributor to Slate and, and a counselor for Writing Camp.]

A hardliner prepares for freedom

Melbourne Age - June 10, 2006

A hero’s welcome awaits Australia’s nemesis, Abu
Bakar Bashir, the cleric convicted for blessing
the Bali bombing, when he is freed on Wednesday
after 251/2 months in an Indonesian jail.

Canberra is bristling at the early release of the
founder and leader of the terrorist network Jemaah
Islamiah — whose most deadly attacks were the
2002 Bali bombings, which took 202 lives, 88 of
them Australian.

Meanwhile, Bashir’s followers are planning
celebrations and launching a book denouncing his
time behind bars.

Jail has not mellowed Bashir. US President George
Bush, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
and an “infidel” John Howard forced a weak-willed
Indonesia to “fabricate” the case against him and
extend his jail term, he writes.

Proofs of The Days of Abu Bakar Bashir in Prison,
written with an acolyte who paid regular visits to
his cell in Jakarta’s Cipinang Jail, have been
obtained by The Age. To be released next week, the
book demonstrate’s that Bashir is determined to
continue his crusade against the West, targeting

It was Downer who visited Jakarta in 2004 to
insist he be arrested for assisting terrorism and
the Bali attacks, claims the 68-year-old
firebrand. Evidence from Bali bomber Amrozi that
he blessed the “event” planned for Bali was
fictitious, he says.

"I was sure that the detention and the sentence by
the district, provincial and the supreme courts
was purely an order of Allah’s enemies, especially
the US and Australia. Repeatedly these two infidel
countries intervened into my case.“That Indonesia had capitulated to”Allah’s enemy,
Aussie Prime Minister John Howard", was proof of
the weakness of a state that was "easily
humiliated by infidel human beings who tried to
separate Papua from Indonesia in a cowardly way".

Bashir plans to travel across Indonesia with his
message of defiance, a lightning rod for radical
followers of Islam. JI, the organisation he co-
founded, is fragmented and damaged but still an
active threat, according to the International
Crisis Group’s Sidney Jones — who has interviewed
many of its leading members. It retains an
ultimate aim of creating an Islamic state
stretching from Indonesia to the Philippines and

Rather than planning more terrorist attacks,
Bashir’s role will be to augment the moral
battering ram being wielded by fundamentalists
trying to impose Islamic sharia law. Expect Bashir
to be “cheerleading” attempts to introduce a
draconian anti-pornography law that would
criminalise kissing and exposed navels, Jones

Bashir release to spark threat

The Australian - June 12, 2006

Natalie O’Brien — The scheduled release this week
of Abu Bakar Bashir, alleged spiritual leader of
the extremist group Jemaah Islamiah, could spark a
fresh round of terror strikes.

Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre
for Terrorism and Political Violence Research,
said the early release of Bashir on Wednesday
would send a dangerous message to terror groups.

"Bashir is also the leader of the Majelis
Mujahedin Indonesia... umbrella organisation of
jihad groups in Indonesia,“Dr Gunaratna said.”He will mobilise them, he will politicise them.
He has the credentials because he went to prison
and he suffered. So people will join him, people
will work with him. That’s why he must stay in
prison forever."

Bashir was sentenced to 30 months in jail for his
part in the conspiracy surrounding the 2002 Bali
bombing, which killed 202 people, including 88
Australians. He insists he is innocent and denies
the existence of JI.

The al-Qa’ida-linked group has also been blamed
for a string of bombings, including those at the
Australian embassy and Marriott hotel in Jakarta.

JI was spawned by the militant group Darul Islam,
which was the first organisation to seek the
creation of an Islamic state in Indonesia in the

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said last week
there was nothing the Australian Government could
do about Bashir’s release. "He will no doubt go
back to whatever private activities he wants to
undertake,“he said.”But the Indonesian
Government no doubt will be as keen as we are in
making sure he doesn’t go back into activities
that aid and abet terrorism."

While JI expert Sidney Jones agreed Bashir’s
imprisonment had probably increased his support
base because he could be seen as a symbol of
defiance against the West, she was not convinced
his release would be a major security threat. "In
some ways, the organisation has moved on and there
are factions that don’t look to Abu Bakar Bashir
for leadership, such as the group around Noordin
Mohammad Top (the JI mastermind of the Bali
bombings)," Ms Jones told ABC radio.

JI has been quiet in recent months, largely
because of a string of raids by the Indonesian
police counter-terrorism force, Special Detachment

Religious leaders rally for Pancasila

Jakarta Post - June 12, 2006

Jakarta — In a rally attended by thousands of
people, religious leaders reaffirmed their
allegiance to the state ideology Pancasila in a
show of solidarity to counter a growing Islamic

The rally took place at Proklamasi Monument in
Central Jakarta on Saturday night, in conjunction
with the 56th anniversary of Fatayat, the women’s
organization of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s
largest Muslim group.

Fatayat chairwoman Maria Ulfah Anshar, Reverend
Emi Sahertian and Buddhist and Confucian leaders
attended the rally, which was opened by NU
chairman Hasyim Muzadi. In a speech, Ulfah
expressed concern over political and religious
practices that prevented women from exercising
their basic rights.

"Discrimination takes its toll not only on NU
women but Indonesian women in general," she said.

Militants warned to abide by the law

Jakarta Post - June 9, 2006

Tiarma Siboro, Jakarta — The government has
issued a warning to members of hard-line groups in
the country: You will face the full weight of the
law if you promote unruly radicalism or are
involved in acts of terror.

"Acts promoting anarchy, threats of terror, or
moves to take the law into one’s own hands are
classified as crimes, which will be processed
under the country’s existing laws," Coordinating
Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs
Widodo Adi Sutjipto said Thursday.

"We have never tolerated any wrongdoing,
regardless of who or what groups are implicated in
it. Our (the government’s) stance is clear, that
we must enforce the supremacy of the law and
equality before the law," he said.

Widodo chaired Thursday a meeting on political,
legal, and security affairs to discuss the
presence of groups promoting violence and
radicalism in the country.

"I know that law enforcers at all levels have
faced a certain amount of pressure from various
parties when they deal with these groups, and I am
assuring them now that the government will provide
protection to them when they carry our their
duties," the retired four-star Navy admiral said.

Present during the meeting were Indonesian
Military (TNI) chief Air Chief Marshal Djoko
Suyanto, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto, Home
Minister M. Ma’ruf, and expert advisor to the
Justice and Human Rights Ministry Ramli Hutabarat.

"We put respect for people’s freedom foremost in
establishing mass organizations as stipulated in
Law. No. 8/85 (on the freedom to organize). But if
these (organizations’) activities disturb public
order, we do have a right to disband them," Ramli

Despite the tough talk, none of the officials
would name the groups accused of promoting
radicalism and violence.

Since the downfall of former president Soeharto,
vigilante religious groups and gangs have
mushroomed in the new era of political freedom.

The Islam Defenders Front (FPI) has frequently
used religion to justify members’ attacks against
bars and nightclubs, minority religious faiths and
political targets. It is also accused of using the
threat of violence to leverage protection money
from business premises.

Despite FPI members’ frequent acts of vandalism,
the police often do little to stop these attacks
and only a few of the group’s members have been
arrested. This has led to accusations the police
and the FPI are cooperating in some areas.

Political observers believe powerful politicians
have helped establish and back many militant
groups — like the Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR)
— to put pressure on their political opponents,
and not to promote religious ideas or morality.

These groups have attempted to legitimize
themselves by allying with the growing number of
conservative but non-violent Islamic parties.

After a series of conservative fatwa were issued
by the Indonesian Council of Ulema outlawing forms
of secularism, pluralism and Islamic liberalism,
these groups have also begun to target mainstream
Muslim clerics.

Earlier this month, former president and Nahdlatul
Ulama leader Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid was
shouted down by FPI members during a speech in
Purwakarta, West Java, while he was promoting
interfaith dialog and religious tolerance.

Gus Dur has been open about his opposition to the
pornography bill, which he says is an attempt to
enforce a narrow interpretation of Islam on a
multiethnic and multireligious society. An avowed
secularist, he believes religion should be the
private affair of the individual.

The public attack on the respected leader, which
forced him to leave the podium, drew a strong
reaction from NU followers, and was criticized by
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.


Policy reform is the key

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2006

The World Bank, the coordinator of the
Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI), has again
reminded the government of the vital importance of
reform for the generating of sustainably high
economic growth.

This is the central theme that may be drawn from
the brief the World Bank prepared for the CGI
creditor consortium, which will convene its annual
meeting here Wednesday to assess Indonesia’s
economic problems and prospects, and its external
financing needs for this fiscal year.

The challenges in the reform area lie on two
fronts. While the pace of reform announcements has
been much slower than expected, the implementation
of policy reform has been even more disappointing.
The cumulative impact of these problems is a
disappointingly slow recovery in public and
private investment, both of which are sorely
needed to provide work for the almost 12 million
fully unemployed people, and the some 40 million
underemployed people working in the informal

Reforms in the areas of taxation, customs and
excise, investment, labor regulations and public
administration, including local government
administration, are running far behind schedule.
Consequently, we may conclude that President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s government, now in its
second year in office, has been unable to take
advantage of the momentum provided by its strong
political mandate to fully restore investor

The government should be commended for the
comprehensive packages of reforms in the
infrastructure and investment sectors that were
launched in the first quarter. However, their
implementation has remained quite slow. Just look
at how the second infrastructure summit has been
postponed twice. It was originally scheduled for
February, then was rescheduled to June but has now
been again postponed until November because the
implementation of many reforms in this sector has
fallen behind schedule.

The adverse effects of the slow pace of reform are
already reflected in less-than-expected employment

The investment rate, although it has rising to 22
percent of gross domestic product, remains far
below the 30 percent level achieved during the
immediate pre-1997 crisis period. Yet more
worrisome is the discouraging development in the
relationship between overall growth and job
creation. Put another way, the number of jobs
created by one unit of economic growth is now much
smaller than before 2000, apparently because
rising unit labor costs are exceeding productivity
gains, while relatively rigid labor rules have
prompted new investors to eschew labor-intensive

Consequently, if this trend continues, annual
economic growth of 7 percent will be required to
provide work for the unemployed and new job
seekers entering the labor market annually. This
is rather a bleak outlook because even with good
progress with the reform agenda, it has been
forecast that the country will only regain a high
growth scenario of 7 percent a year beginning in

It is strongly recommended, therefore, that the
government show stronger leadership in speeding up
the reforms, not only in the economy but also in
basic infrastructure and public administration
(governance), including local administration.

Inadequate budget-management capabilities on the
part of regional (provincial, regency and
municipal) administrations has now become the
single most important fiscal concern as these
administrations now account for around 55 percent
of public sector capital spending. The
government’s failure to conduct economic pump
priming in the first semester through budgetary
front-loading should be blamed mainly on the
utterly abysmal capacity of local administrations
to properly spend their resources.

As in its previous report, the World Bank, though
referring to significant progress in the
anticorruption drive, cited inefficiency and
rampant corruption within the public sector,
notably in the taxation, customs and excise, and
business licensing arenas, as some of the most
serious obstacles to new investment.

Neither the government nor the House of
Representatives should take the World Bank’s
advice as an attempt to interfere in Indonesia’s
internal affairs. Neither, however, does it mean
that the government should push through reforms
simply to obtain foreign aid.

The creditors do not expect immediate completion
of all the reforms needed to restore sustainably
high economic growth, given the complex challenges
involved. Nonetheless, they do want to see the
government lay out a clear road map for reform,
maintain policy coherence and remain on the right

The basic reality is that the creditors will
simply be wasting their money if, for example,
corruption continues to undermine the
effectiveness of government investment
expenditure, and reforms in the economic, public-
sector governance and judicial sectors are not
carried through.

Regions still coming up short in drawing

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2006

Benget Simbolon Tnb., Jakarta — Most regencies
and municipalities are still lagging in creating
attractive investment conditions five years after
the regional autonomy law gave them greater power
to manage their economic affairs.

The poor investment climate was shown in the
latest annual survey conducted by the Regional
Autonomy Watch (KPPOD), in cooperation with the
Asia Foundation and USAID.

The survey, made to assess the performance of
regions last year in improving the investment
climate, found the average investment
competitiveness score of the regencies and
municipalities was only 6.04, far below the
maximum score of 9.

"Overall, this survey found that the investment
competitiveness of regencies/cities in Indonesia
is still unsatisfactory," said KPPOD, a non-
governmental organization specializing in research
on regional autonomy implementation.

Its findings will be a sharp wake-up call to the
central government, which is trying to secure
US$426 billion in investment by 2009 to forge
higher economic growth and create more employment.

Investment competitiveness was assessed based on
five factors accorded varying degrees of
importance: Security, politics and sociocultural
interests accounted for 27 percent; local economic
potential (23 percent); labor (18 percent);
physical infrastructure (17 percent) and
institutional considerations (15 percent).

According to the survey, the major weaknesses of
the regions are found in institutional and labor
factors. Their average competitiveness ratings
were low in these two areas, at only 5.43 and 5.38

Last year, the KPPOD surveyed 228 regencies and
municipalities as compared to 214
regencies/municipalities in 2004. There are 440
regencies/municipalities in Indonesia. Based on
the latest survey, Batam municipality in Riau
Island province and Gianyar regency in Bali were
recognized as the best investment destinations
after receiving the highest average scores in all
five categories.

There are five other regencies and five other
municipalities which received the KPPOD investment
award as winners in each of the categories.

For security, politics and sociocultural factors,
the honors went to Maros regency in South Sulawesi
and Denpasar municipality in Bali.

For the economic factor, the winners are East
Kutai regency and Samarinda municipality, both in
East Kalimantan.

Pangkajene Island regency in South Sulawesi and
Kediri municipality in East Java came out on top
for labor.

Maros regency in South Sulawesi and Balikpapan in
East Kalimantan were selected for institutional

For institutional factors, Barru regency in South
Sulawesi and Sawahlunto municipality in West
Sumatra won.

SOE performance in 2005 fails to impress

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2006

Urip Hudiono, Jakarta — The country’s
state-owned-enterprise (SOE) sector is still in
poor shape, with its overall financial performance
in 2005 only showing a slight improvement over the
previous year.

A total of 108 out of 139 SOEs — or 77 percent —
booked combined profits of Rp 40.6 trillion
(US$4.3 billion) last year, State Minister for
State Enterprises Sugiharto told a House of
Representatives hearing Monday, while 31 (22
percent) suffered combined losses of Rp 6.11

Although the number of profitable SOEs in 2005 in
percentage and profit terms increased from the
previous year, the number in the red also

In 2004, 114 out of 158 SOEs (71 percent) enjoyed
total profits of Rp 37.7 trillion, while 27 (17
percent) suffered losses of Rp 4.8 trillion.

"Last year was a bit better for our SOEs, with 82
having improved their performance — 68 that
booked profits in 2004 further increased them,
while 14 that experienced losses managed to reduce
those losses," Sugiharto said.

Last year’s SOE financial performance snapshot
included 45 unaudited and preliminary financial
results. The State Ministry for State Enterprises
expects all the SOEs to have submitted their
audited accounts by June 30.

Sugiharto explained that last year’s unfavorable
economic conditions — with major fuel price
hikes, high inflation, soaring interest rates and
a volatile rupiah — were the main reasons for the
only slight improvement in the performance of the
country’s SOEs, which the government is actually
relying on to beef up budget revenues.

"Fuel-sensitive SOEs were burdened with higher
operating costs last year, with state power firm
PLN being the worst affected,“he said.”Several state lenders were also affected by Bank
Indonesia’s stricter lending rules and legislation
forbidding them from adopting more flexible debt
restructuring schemes," he said.

The government’s failure to address rampant
corruption and inefficiency in many of the
country’s SOEs over the years may also be a
contributing factor in their poor performances.

Debt-ridden state airlines Garuda Indonesia and
Merpati Nusantara could even be grounded by the
end of this year without a bailouts. The State
Ministry’s efforts to raise money for this from
more profitable SOEs is hampered by their own
unconvincing performances, Sugiharto said.

SOEs contributed Rp 12.7 trillion in dividend
payments to last year’s budget, only slightly
higher than the Rp 12 trillion target set for
them. They are expected to contribute Rp 23.2
trillion this year.

The government is also hoping to make Rp 1
trillion from SOE privatizations this year. The
State Ministry canceled last year’s Rp 3.5
trillion privatization target, citing the
unfavorable market situation and a reluctance to
press ahead due to nationalistic sentiment, and
decided to try to boost SOE profits instead.

Real sector to remain stagnant

Tempo Interactive - June 9, 2006

RR Ariyani, Jakarta — It is estimated that the
growth of the real sector will remain stagnant
this year. In addition to the continuing high
interest rate, there is not yet internal
restructuring from the real sector itself.

"As long as there is not yet industry
restructuring, because the credit is at a
standstill, the real sector is stuck," said Imam
Sugema, Head of the Institute for Development of
Economics and Finance, yesterday.

According to Sugema, the stagnation will not only
be affected by the high interest rate. For when
the rate still stood at 7.5 percent last year, the
real sector was still not capable of achieving

Gunadi Sindhuwinata, Chairperson of the Indonesian
Motorcycle Industry Association, has predicted
that the growth of the motorcycle industry will
decrease by 30 percent. "While the motorcycle’s
growth in 2005 has increased 30 percent compared
with 2004, we have a 30 percent decrease this year
or going back to the position of two years ago,"
he said.

According to Sindhuwinata, the high interest rate
shows high inflation. Therefore, the market will
not react and shift the goods that will be up for
sale. "It means that the demand for motorcycles
will increase. As a result, manufacturers must
produce efficiently and adapt their production to
market demand," he explained.

Meanwhile, Eddy Widjanarko, the Chairperson of
Indonesian Footwear Association, has denied Bank
of Indonesia’s statement which has estimated that
the real sector is not prepared to receive a loan

Widjanarko said, the manufacturing and exporting
performances are undergoing an increase. "It’s now
advantageous for footwear industries to produce. A
five percent sales increase from exporting in
2005, or of evaluating US$ 1.5 billion, has shown
that this industry remains thoroughly tested and
prepared to receive loan disbursements," he said.


The export of refugees

Sydney Morning Editorial - June 15, 2006

It is a place where the usual rules do not apply.
Inmates can be held indefinitely, their fate
decided without recourse to the accepted legal and
administrative processes. No, not the American
prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, but Nauru under
Australia’s revised detention regime for asylum
seekers. Even a Government-dominated Senate
committee has had no option but to condemn it.

In recent years, the stream of boat people which
prompted the Government’s hard line against asylum
seekers has shrunk to less than a trickle, and the
Government felt safe in smoothing the sharp edges
of the detention regime.

It was following not only its better instincts —
as articulated by the likes of the Victorian
Liberal MP Petro Georgiou — but the
recommendations of recent inquiries. But that
softer approach changed when immigration officials
granted temporary protection visas to 42 Papuan
asylum seekers who had arrived by boat in northern
Australia. Indonesia was enraged and, ever since,
Australia has been trying to placate it.

Australia decided that asylum seekers arriving by
sea — no matter where in Australia they landed —
would be processed offshore, in Nauru, and
resettled in third countries. The Senate’s Legal
and Constitutional Committee has now found serious
shortcomings in the proposed legislation. There is
no time limit on detention. Asylum seekers have no
right to settle in Australia, even if they can’t
go anywhere else. Detainees do not have access to
independent legal advice or a right to an
independent review of their case. The committee is
also very concerned at the detention of women and
children on a remote Pacific island nation, and at
the lack of an independent authority — such as
the Commonwealth Ombudsman — to oversee the whole
exercise. Unsurprisingly, the committee’s first
choice is to scrap the legislation rather than try
to fix it.

The Government’s hard line reflects what it takes
to be the realpolitik of relations with Indonesia.
It believes that accepting Papuan asylum seekers
will inevitably be read as support for Papua’s
independence movement and as criticism of
Indonesia’s administration in the province.

However, in its concern for the sensitivities of
Indonesia, the Australian Government has been too
ready to disregard the rights of asylum seekers.
The Government should be ready to accept those
seeking refugee status, and to assess their claims
in Australia. Asylum seekers should be treated
with proper regard for their self-respect — and
Australia’s. There is no credit in a supine return
to the Pacific Solution.

Answering to Jakarta

Melbourne Age - June 15, 2006

Scott Burchill — The Howard Government’s decision
to subcontract the processing of asylum seekers to
Australia’s poorest neighbours is more than simply
a dereliction of its sovereign responsibilities.

The resumption of offshore processing confirms
that Canberra intends to solve its diplomatic
problems by altering the nation’s immigration and
refugee policies. This strategy is unwise,
unpopular and guaranteed to fail.

Its primary flaw is that it only addresses the
symptoms rather than the cause of the problem. By
granting temporary protection visas to 42 Papuan
asylum seekers in March, the Immigration
Department determined that if they were to be
forcibly returned home they would face a "well-
founded fear of persecution".

Terminate the human rights abuses and the problem
goes away. This is the message Prime Minister John
Howard should have delivered to visiting
Indonesian MPs this week. Instead, Jakarta
continues to insist that the problem is of
Australia’s making, asking for the visas to be
revoked while demanding Australia “prove” its
commitment to Indonesia’s territorial integrity
with “action”.

Presumably these are the same individuals who
object to Canberra’s insistence that Indonesia
comply with international law after the release of
Abu Bakar Bashir, on the grounds that it is
interference in Indonesia’s domestic affairs. The
United Nations obliges Indonesia to freeze the
radical cleric’s assets and prevent him from
travelling overseas and obtaining weapons.

The Howard Government’s desire to pass even
tougher laws on asylum seekers suggests it is
fully aware of Jakarta’s crimes in Papua, that it
expects them to continue, and that as a
consequence more Papuans are likely to risk their
lives by trying to escape the territory.

Its response is to ignore the cause of the problem
— which would be called state terrorism if it
were occurring elsewhere — and make it more
difficult for future asylum seekers to establish
their claims. The Government refuses even to talk
about what it discovered is going on in the
province or explain why the persecution continues
under what Liberal senator George Brandis
described as "the most liberal ruler that
Indonesia has had and is likely to have".
Canberra’s expectations of the newly democratic
society seem extraordinarily low.

There is no place for torture, political
persecution, grand larceny or cultural genocide in
an authentic democracy. By trying to assuage
Jakarta’s irrational fears, Canberra only avoids
the issue and ensures that both the abuses and the
paranoia will continue. Has it learnt nothing from
Indonesia’s 24-year occupation of East Timor? A
stable and productive bilateral relationship is
important but it will never be built as long as
both governments conspire to play down the crimes
of one side.

Contriving a moral panic about border protection
might have worked once for the Howard Government.
However, it may not work again, despite the
absence of principled opposition from the ALP. A
recently commissioned poll showed that 74 per cent
of those who were asked did not want the
Government to alter its immigration policies to
improve ties with Jakarta. This view is shared by
an all-party Senate committee that regards the new
laws as unworkable and an “inappropriate response”
to pressure from Jakarta. Even the few remaining
liberals in the Liberal Party are prepared to
break ranks with their conservative colleagues
unless they are granted concessions by Amanda
Vanstone and Howard.

John Howard and Alexander Downer are as committed
to Papua’s retention inside the republic as their
counterparts in Jakarta. Their preference,
however, is not shared by the indigenous people of
the province, who want to leave the republic
politically and, now, physically. The Government’s
problem is it cannot resolve the contradiction
within its own policy.

One arm of its bureaucracy (Immigration) has
publicly highlighted a running sore that another
arm (Foreign Affairs) has been doing its best to
conceal and ignore, rather than treat.

The Government is stuck in a dilemma of its own
making, but its response in effect is to tell the
Immigration Department "you got us into this mess
so you can get us out of it". The department won’t
succeed because the problem is not its to solve.
Canberra’s clumsy efforts to make the lives of
desperate asylum seekers even worse by
incarcerating them in legal black holes such as
Nauru only panders to those responsible for their

These efforts may well be “appreciated” in Jakarta
because it diverts public attention from what has
been going on in Papua since a sham plebiscite on
integration there four decades ago. They may not
be seen in the same light, however, by a domestic
population that is increasingly concerned by a
government that so easily trades its legal
processes for diplomatic expediency.

[Scott Burchill is senior lecturer in
international relations at Deakin University.]

War against dirty money

Jakarta Post Editorial - June 15, 2006

With its efforts to combat money laundering
becoming increasingly feeble, Indonesia faces the
risk of being internationally blacklisted again as
a haven for dirty money and a high-risk country
for international financial institutions.

Indeed, the fact that not a single person has been
brought to court on charges of money laundering is
a truly dismal record for Indonesia, whose
government is perceived as one of the most corrupt
in the world and where large cash transactions are
still the rule rather than the exception.

It is high time to remind the government of the
urgency of the issue. Indonesia cannot sit back
and relax because it was removed by the Financial
Action Task Force — the global money laundering
watchdog — from its list of non-cooperative
countries and territories in February 2005. The
country could be put back on the blacklist, which
would sharply increase transaction costs for
Indonesian companies overseas.

It has indeed been four frustrating years for the
Financial Transaction and Report Analysis Center
(PPATK) — the Indonesian financial intelligence
unit — which was set up to implement the 2002 law
on money laundering. The center has virtually been
fighting single-handedly against money launderers,
without adequate support from law enforcement
bodies such as the National Police and Attorney
General’s Office.

The problem is that the PPATK is authorized only
to analyze reports of suspicious transactions from
financial institutions, and to submit money
laundering cases to the police for further
investigation and prosecution.

So far, the center has received almost 5,000
reports of suspicious financial transactions.
Strong evidence was gathered in 450 of these cases
and forwarded to law enforcement bodies for
further investigation and prosecution. But not a
single case has reached the courts.

The financial intelligence unit is so frustrated
with the lack of cooperation from the National
Police that the center’s chairman, Junus Husen,
dropped a “bomb” last August, disclosing that
there were strong indications of money laundering
involving hundreds of billions of rupiah related
to the personal accounts of 15 noncommissioned
officers and generals in the National Police.

We believe in the credibility of the PPATK report
because its legal and financial experts only
forward to the National Police those cases with
strong indications of money laundering.

The fact that not a single case has reached the
courts almost one year since Husen forwarded the
report to the police is just further evidence of
the non-cooperative attitude — or even resistance
— on the part of law enforcement bodies, and the
acute lack of political leadership on the part of
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to intervene in
such an important area of law enforcement.

The mentality of corruption within law enforcement
agencies such as the National Police, rather than
inadequate technical competence to investigate
complex financial transactions, is mainly
responsible for the miserably weak enforcement of
the law on money laundering. Cooperation between
law enforcement agencies and financial service
companies and other government institutions, such
as the customs and tax services and the stock
market watchdog, is vital for the effective
enforcement of the money laundering law.
Information sharing is the brain of the drive
against money laundering.

True, money laundering was a completely new
concept within Indonesian financial systems when
the anti-money laundering campaign was launched in
early 2002. But over the past four years, we
believe, the National Police and Attorney
General’s Office should have trained an adequate
number of personnel to build up strong money
laundering cases using the evidence forwarded by
the PPATK.

We also get the impression that there is a lack of
national ownership of the law against money
laundering because the legislation was hastily
enacted under strong pressure from the United
States, which wanted the world to crack down on
the flow of money to international terrorists
after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

However, despite the initial focus on stopping the
flow of money to terrorists, fighting money
laundering is an important component of
Indonesia’s battle against corruption, tax evasion
and numerous other crimes. Because the crimes
covered by the money laundering legislation are so
diverse, the fight will hit almost all major
sources of dirty money, including corruption, drug
trafficking, smuggling, bribery, banking crimes,
drug crimes, terrorism and human trafficking.

An effective anti-money laundering campaign will
make it extremely difficult for those involved in
corruption, tax evaders and other big criminals to
bring their ill-gotten money into the legal
financial system.

Certainly, amending the law on money laundering to
give the PPATK more teeth could go a long way
toward strengthening this campaign. But a strong
order from President Yudhoyono to the National
Police and the Attorney General’s Office to fully
cooperate with the PPATK would be adequate for now
to bolster the anti-money laundering efforts
without having to wait for the long process of
amending the law.

Human rights should not take a back seat to

Melbourne Age Editorial - June 14, 2006

Decisions about immigration policy must be made
independently from concerns about our relationship
with Indonesia.

Should any doubt remain about the Howard
Government’s mastery of the art of realpolitik,
the valuing of the practical over the moral, it
will be erased by events this week in Canberra. It
is surely no coincidence that, as the Senate
considered its response to tough new immigration
legislation, Indonesia not only reinstated its
ambassador — recalled in March in protest at
Australia’s decision to grant protection visas to
42 Papuans — but dispatched a five-person
Government delegation to ensure that this country
would not provide support for separatists in

The trip appears to have served its purpose. A day
after Coalition senators expressed concern about
the morality of the proposed legislation,
Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone met the
delegation led by former Wahid government minister
Dr Muhammad Hikam and assured them that Australia
did not support Papua’s separatist movement,
although stopped short of acceding to their wishes
that the visa decision be reviewed.

Senator Vanstone’s defiant defence of the new
laws, saying they “balanced” the priorities of
meeting Australia’s international obligations,
protecting borders and keeping “good and stable”
relations with Indonesia, is a clear demonstration
of that realpolitik.

In January she pledged that her department would
not be swayed by foreign policy considerations in
deciding refugee claims. "Australia has always
made decisions in relation to protection claims on
the basis of the merit of the claim,“she said.”And that has to be the case, rather than taking
into account whether we’ll upset one or other of
Australia’s friends and allies." What a difference
a few months and a great deal of political
leverage makes.

It is difficult to credit that the legislation
under consideration can be drawn up in a country
whose leader regularly expresses pride in its
democratic traditions. Australia is a signatory to
international human rights agreements; it long ago
overturned the infamous White Australia Policy
and, in the 1970s, led the world in welcoming
Vietnamese “boat people”, the first major influx
of refugees to reach our shores.

The new law is an abomination of this tradition.
It will force future asylum seekers arriving by
boat to be processed offshore in places such as
Nauru, in effect excising the entire Australian
coastline from our migration zone.

Children will once again be detained, genuine
refugees (and most who have reached our shores
have been found to be genuine) will be denied the
protection of the Australian legal system and
successful applicants may be detained indefinitely
until they are accepted by a third country.

The changes are an indication that much-vaunted
moves to improve immigration practices, notably
the decision last year to revoke the mandatory
detention of children and to allow the release of
long-term detainees into the community, were an

The criticism has been loud and clear. Opposition
Leader Kim Beazley called the move to offshore
processing unnecessary appeasement; Liberal
senator Judith Troeth said the bill appeared to be
intended to stop even genuine asylum seekers
coming to Australia; and Queensland Nationals
senator Barnaby Joyce said decisions about asylum
should not be based on political expediency.

Despite the internal rumblings, the Prime Minister
is confident the legislation will pass. John
Howard seems to have paid greater attention to the
Indonesian Government than to Australia’s human
rights obligations or the views of his own
backbench. But he should not be too complacent.

Coalition politicians have previously shown an
admirable commitment to human rights. They are
well aware that the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights accords people the right "to seek and to
enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution"
and does not make exceptions for political

As The Age has previously acknowledged, this is a
sensitive issue with no easy answers. But if
Australia’s relationship with Indonesia has indeed
matured, our northern neighbour should be able to
accept this country’s honouring of its
international obligations on human rights.

Who protects the people?

Jakarta Post Editorial - June 10, 2006

It is no secret that public trust toward police
has been falling, and the recent threats and the
version of terrorism carried out by groups
claiming to represent certain ethnicities and
religions have apparently made things worse.
Police, who institutionally have the legal right
to protect the citizens from violence, have failed
to do what they should to address complaints
lodged by anxious citizens.

Arbitrary actions against nightspots, including
crimes and violence, by certain groups of people
carrying religious banners or claiming to be from
certain ethnicities have become rampant. The
police have been unwilling to take prompt and
proper actions to stop them. If police officers
happen to be at the scene, they usually take no
action and just watch.

Not long ago a group of people vandalized
buildings they believed were being used for
religious activities. Both the buildings’ owners
and local police were helpless, leaving the
impression that the illegal actions were
legitimate. The police made no effort to prevent
the group from acting further.

Such incidents have happened several times in many
parts of the archipelago. Jakarta is not an

The most blatant example of arbitrary acts by
certain groups in the capital city was when
members of an organization carrying religious
symbols destroyed nightspots which, according to
the organization’s members, had become dens of
prostitution and drug trafficking. Surprisingly,
the police took no action.

The most recent controversies occurred when
several artists joined a rally opposing the anti-
pornography bill. Several artists reported to the
police later that they had been harassed by
radical groups claiming to be of a certain

One rally participant was shocked when a large
number of strangers flocked to her house, chanting
slogans in support of the anti-pornography bill
and urging the artist to leave the capital city or
apologize to the organization for marching in the

Cornered, the artist tried to seek legal help,
while the group continued its activities. It
visited another artist, demanding that person’s
apology for joining the demonstration. Worse, the
group members condemned participants of the rally,
calling them immoral and vowing to “give lessons”
to those opposing the anti-pornography bill.

When legal procedures were followed, the response
from the police was another shock. City Police
Chief Insp. Gen. Firman Gani said he wanted to
summon a language expert (to correctly interpret
the condemnation against the rally participants)
before responding to the reports.

It was a little strange that, according to Gani,
the police could do nothing without written
reports from someone about the intimidation,
terrorizing and other improper behavior. He said
police would act only after destructive actions
took place. Contrary to statements, not one arrest
was made when a group of people claiming to be
from a religious-affiliated organization attacked
and damaged the building housing the office of the
controversial Playboy magazine in South Jakarta.

The police’s position on protecting the citizens
from such groups’ indiscriminate actions has been
ambiguous, despite National Police Chief Gen.
Sutanto’s pledge to take tough actions against any
form of thuggery or radicalism.

The unresolved and improperly handled thuggery and
radicalism obviously became a special agenda item
for the coordinating meeting among Coordinating
Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs
Widodo Adi Sucipto, Home Affairs Minister M.
Ma’ruf, TNI Chief Air Chief Marshal Djoko Suyanto
and Gen. Sutanto. The meeting, which took place on
Thursday, clarified that no individuals or
organizations have the legal right to carry out
violence against others. This means the law must
be respected and properly enforced, and everybody
deserves the same legal protection.

The ball is now clearly in the police’s court.
According to the coordinating meeting, Firman Gani
has no more excuses not to fight radical groups.

The public impression that the police lack the
will to face radical organizations will then fade
away in line with the growth of civil society. In
this way, the police can regain their lost public

Time to talk straight

Sydney Morning Herald Editorial - June 9, 2006

When the former prime minister Paul Keating
produced a bilateral security treaty with
Indonesia in 1995, his conservative opponents
thought he had gone troppo.

They didn’t criticise the idea of a treaty with
Indonesia, focusing instead on the "secret
negotiations" with then president Soeharto which
had led up to it. It also became part of their
story that Keating was tilting Australia away from
its traditional Western alliances.

The treaty — between an Australian leader only
months from election defeat and an Indonesian
president two years from regime collapse — was
repudiated by Jakarta in the 1999 East Timor
crisis, possibly out of a misapprehension that
Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard, was about
to repudiate it first. More than a symbol of
closeness, it had come to represent leaders out of

Now symbolism is back in. Mr Howard will announce
a “historic” security pact this month when he
meets the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang

The idea was floated by the Foreign Affairs
Minister, Alexander Downer, soon after Dr
Yudhoyono took office in October 2004, and has
been discussed since.

After the sudden chill caused by Australia
granting asylum to a group of 42 Papuans, it has
been pushed to the fore as a sign of

Strangely for a Coalition that complained about
secrecy in the Keating case, we are learning more
about the treaty from Jakarta than from Canberra.

From what we are told, few Australians will
disagree with the treaty, since it largely
encompasses what the two countries are doing
already, such as co-operating against terrorism.
Nor will Australians object to professing support
for Indonesia’s territorial integrity, especially
as the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Hassan
Wirayuda, has made it clear Jakarta doesn’t expect
any gag on advocates of Papuan independence
speaking out in Australia.

What will stick in the throats of fair-minded
Australians is the political price of the treaty:
shipping off future Papuan asylum seekers to
dreary camps in Nauru or Manus Island, thus
stripping away their rights to legal and
administrative appeal under Australian refugee
law. Whether more asylum seekers come our way will
depend partly on the behaviour of Indonesian
security forces and authorities in Papua, and
partly on whether Papuans believe they need
international publicity to get their grievances

The treaty’s idea of deepening co-operation
between the armed forces will also advance or
falter with Dr Yudhoyono’s reforms in the
Indonesian military, the TNI. He has sidelined
some of the more sinister generals, and the army
has been surprisingly well behaved during the Aceh
peace process.

However, the President has shelved proposals to
remove the TNI’s “territorial” role which allows
it to parallel and supervise civil government. The
plan of his Defence Minister, Juwono Sudarsono, a
civilian, to wean the forces off their business
activities — and the corruption that goes with
them — may also be optimistic.

Still, most Australians will say “why not?” rather
than “why?” to this treaty. The diplomatic
roundabout still brings us back to the need for
Australians and Indonesians to work on the
relationship, and the treaty will help.

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