Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Security Rifts Threaten Indonesian Stabity

Security Apparatus Rifts Threaten Indonesian Stability

(From http://www.stratfor.com/)

October 7, 1999

Summary

The ongoing sectarian violence in Indonesia’s Ambon has claimed over 15 lives since Oct. 3. Reports suggest that the latest violence was triggered and sustained by factionalism among security forces. Ever widening splits between factions in the military and police are contributing to the tensions. Since Indonesia relies on the security apparatus to provide the unifying force necessary to maintain cohesion, especially in this time of political transition, a loss of that unity could seriously threaten Indonesian stability.

Analysis

At least 16 people have been killed and over 75 injured since Oct. 3, in the most recent outbreak of Muslim-Christian violence in Indonesia’s Ambon. Included among the dead was at least one combat engineer shot in the head, reportedly by either a long-range sniper rifle or an automatic weapon. Maj. Gen. Suaidy Marasabessy, head of the Indonesian Military (TNI) task force in the Ambon, suggested that military or police had been involved in the shootings. He said in the Jakarta Post, "All the victims died of gunshots to their heads. Only trained shooters could do that."

The suggestion that the soldiers were shot by other members of the security apparatus is not in itself surprising. Splits among factions in the military, as well as tensions between the military and the police have been apparent for some time. In September 1998, army cavalry troops attacked a police barracks in West Kalimantan, leaving at least nine injuries and three unconfirmed deaths. However, institutional differences haven’t only been revealed by violence.

Prior to April 1999, the TNI and the Police (Polri) were a single entity, the Armed Forces of Indonesia (ABRI). Following the downfall of former President Suharto, a plan was contrived for the gradual separation of the TNI and Polri, allowing both to focus on individual security roles. Despite the official distancing, there are signs that the tensions between the forces remain high.

In East Timor, following the independence referendum but prior to the arrival of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET), reports indicated that Polri units were being forced by the TNI to participate in – or at least ignore – assaults on pro-independence supporters in the province. While it is likely that some elements of Polri were involved willingly, it is apparent that institutional tensions remain.

In addition to the divisions between the TNI and the Polri, there are splits and factions within the TNI itself. In Ambon, Christian representatives are calling for all members of the security apparatus to leave, with the exception of marines, who are part of the TNI. This was in part triggered by allegations that military-backed militia or members of the Police Elite Mobile Brigade (Brimob) were siding with or even leading the Muslims in their attacks on Christian homes and buildings. The marines, on the other hand, were siding with the Christians.

The Indonesian marines have traditionally been seen as more sympathetic to the people than either the Polri or the rest of the TNI. This has also applied to the navy, such as when several retired officers joined together as early backers of the Indonesian Democratic Struggle Party (PDI-P). The TNI, then, aside from working to redefine its relation with Polri, is also faced with an ongoing split among its own ranks.

This poses a particular problem for Indonesia. With the government in a state of transition, and no obvious strong leader for the nation to rally around, the armed forces remain the one institution offering a cross-regional and cross-cultural stabilizing force. Now even this could be jeopardized, as the military and police have so far been unable to reconcile their differences and as military factions back different political agendas.

The Indonesian presidential election is two weeks away, and there is still no clear favorite, though Muslim candidate Abdurrahman Wahid seems the most likely choice. However, PDI-P candidate Megawati Sukarnoputri, who claims to have the people’s mandate, has suggested that she and her party will walk out of parliament if she isn’t given the presidency. Further, PDI-P has suggested it will take its case back to the street.

Coupled with the ongoing student demonstrations, the next few weeks promise to test the ability of the military to remain a cohesive force for the unity of Indonesia. The shootings in Ambon and the potential for split political allegiance among military factions do not bode well for Indonesia’s future.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news