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Indonesia News Digest 30 – August 9-16, 2007

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 News & issues

PDI-P says government too soft on separatists

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2007

Jakarta – Politician and patron of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Taufiq Kiemas, said the central government's lack of authority had seen the Acehnese take down hundreds of Indonesian national flags.

"This proves the country is not yet stable," Taufiq said. "There should have been no taking down of national flags."

About 150 national flags hoisted ahead of the country's Independence Day went missing in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, Lhokseumawe, and other areas.

"The government has to be firm, even before it takes action," Taufiq said.

SBY greets Soeharto through grandson

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2007

Jakarta – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sent Wednesday his warm greetings to former president Soeharto through the latter's grandson Wiratama Hadi Ramanto Pratikto.

Wiratama was at the Merdeka Palace as part of a ceremony to make official the flag hoisting team (Paskibraka) for the August 17 Independence Day celebrations.

The President and First Lady Kristiani Herawati chatted with Wiratama, the only son of Soeharto's youngest daughter Siti Hutami "Mamiek" Endang Hadiningsih, Detik.com news portal reported.

While patting Wiratama's shoulders, Yudhoyono said: "Send my regards to your grandfather." Yudhoyono once served as Soeharto's adjutant.

Economy grows 6.3% in second quarter

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2007

Urip Hudiono, Jakarta – The economy grew 6.3 percent in the second quarter compared to a year ago, the fastest level in two years, on continued increases in exports, consumption and investment.

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), which were released Wednesday, showed that second-quarter growth was the fastest since the first quarter of 2005.

On a quarterly basis, Indonesia's economy during the three months to June expanded by 2.4 percent to produce a gross domestic product (GDP) of Rp 962.5 trillion (US$ 106.9 billion), as government spending paced up from the previous quarter.

The latest growth figure also means that the economy has expanded by 6.1 percent since June of last year.

Government spending during the second quarter saw a 24.2 percent jump from the first, providing a significant boost for the overall economy.

"More government spending, particularly through the payment of an extra month's salary to civil servants and increased spending on capital goods, helped increase people's purchasing power and private consumption," BPS deputy director Slamet Sutomo said. "Imports of capital goods further added to the growth."

Exports continued to gather steam on increasing global demand, with the prices for Indonesia's metals, crude palm oil, coal and rubber growing by 9.8 percent, the highest of all categories, and contributing 4.5 percent to the second quarter's on-year growth.

Private consumption, which accounts for some 65 percent of the economy, grew by 4.7 percent and accounted for 2.7 percent of second-quarter growth. Fixed investment saw a boost of 6.9 percent and contributed 1.5 percent to overall growth.

Meanwhile, from the supply side, Indonesia's transportation and telecommunications sector replaced agriculture in terms of growth in the second quarter, with the former growing 11.9 percent.

"Growth in the transportation sector mostly occurred in the air transportation segment, as can be seen from the increasing number of airline passengers. Indonesia's telecommunications market also contains huge potential for more growth ahead," Slamet said.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector grew by 5.5 percent, while trade and tourism was up 8.3 percent.

The BPS figures, however, revealed disparities in the growth of labor-intensive industries compared to capital-intensive services, as well as disparities between Java and other regions.

For next year, Anggito Abimanyu, the director of the Finance Ministry's Fiscal Policy Agency, said that continued growth of between 6.5 and 6.9 percent was possible.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will deliver the outlines of the 2008 draft budget in a State of the Nation address to a House of Representatives' plenary session today.

"Growth has remained at around 6 percent for the past three quarters," Anggito said, adding that the government was aware of possible fallout from the recent global market turmoil on the current growth momentum. With economists assuming that 1 percent economic growth translates into around 400,000 new jobs, Indonesia's economy will need to grow by at least 6 percent per annum to be able to provide work for the estimated 2.5 million new job seekers coming on the labor market every year.

Defense budget loses Rp 400 billion

Jakarta Post - August 15, 2007

Yuli Tri Suwarni, Bandung – The already cash-strapped defense ministry is set to lose another Rp 400 billion (US$43 million) from its budget because the government plans to use the money to help alleviate poverty in Indonesia.

"The government has never provided a sufficient budget for the defense sector, but I can accept the cut as it will be used to support... poverty alleviation," Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said Tuesday.

"The fund will be used in the health and education sectors, to increase export, create employment and help victims of the Sidoarjo mud flow."

There are some 34 million people living in poverty in Indonesia, with about 10 million unemployed.

During a defense seminar held by the Bandung Circle Community at the Padjadjaran University, Juwono said his ministry previously had a budget of some Rp 32 trillion – about 1 percent of Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP).

He said the defense budget was already the second smallest in Southeast Asia, after Laos which provides 0.4 percent of the Laotian GDP. The largest is Brunei Darussalam with $6 billion, or 6 percent of its GDP. Indonesia's defense budget should be Rp 76 trillion, Juwono said.

The Indonesian Military (TNI) was crippled by a Western arms embargo after human rights abuses during operations in East Timor and other conflict areas. The embargo has been almost completely lifted, but the TNI has yet to fully recover and still relies heavily on old weaponry.

Juwono said, "Currently we are studying which expenses could be scrapped or reduced, including reducing the purchase of transport vehicles, defense systems and building materials that are rarely used". "We have always had limited weaponry but we always balance between operational readiness with maintenance costs."

Between the three services, Juwono said he would study the needs of the air force, army and navy to create a balance of expenses between those spent on transport vehicles and strike weaponry. But he said at the same time he would try to improve soldiers' welfare.

With regard to the defense cooperation agreement (DCA) with Singapore, Juwono said both countries were negotiating the number of military exercises Singapore could undertake in Indonesian territory.

He said they were discussing the Bravo Area as well as limiting the number and type of vessels involved in Singaporean exercises.

Bravo Area is a slot of Indonesian territory in Natuna regency, Riau Islands province, facing the South China Sea. Singapore is seeking use of the area for air force training, naval maneuvers and missile firing exercises.

In addition to Bravo Area, the controversial DCA also allows the Singaporean Armed Forces to use the nearby Alpha Area and the Baturaja training ground in South Sumatra.

The DCA and its four associated agreements were signed by the Indonesian and Singaporean governments on April 27 in Bali in the presence of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. An extradition treaty was also signed.

"We have demanded (these) limitations to prevent the destruction of our marine environment," Juwono said. "We have to also consider our fishermen and the environment.

"This is a tough negotiation but we need it because we need the money to construct the training areas. "We have the space but we need the money."

Youth organizations set up cooperation body

Jakarta Post - August 15, 2007

Jakarta – Six mixed youth organizations declared Tuesday the establishment of a cooperation body for Indonesia in an attempt to encourage people to work toward the country's prosperity.

The six organizations include the Communication Forum for Children of Retired Military/Police Officers, Pancasila Youth, Pancamarga Youth, Ansor Youth, Catholic Youth and the Muhammadiyah Youth. Business tycoon Pontjo Sutowo would serve as the leader of the cooperation body.

Tuesday's ceremony to mark the conception of the cooperation body was attended by former Army Chief Gen. (ret) Ryamizard Ryacudu, former State Minister for the Development of Disadvantaged Regions Saifullah Yusuf, former chief of the Indonesian Military's Strategic Intelligence Agency Vice Marshall (ret.) Ian Santoso Perdanakusuma and former minister and head of the National Development Planning Board Kwik Kian Gie.

Transsexuals to take part in Independence Day

Jakarta Post - August 14, 2007

Slamet Susanto, Yogyakarta – This year's Independence Day celebrations will see some 265 transsexuals from the Yogyakarta Transvestites Organization (IWAYO) take part in a number of activities, such as sports and stage performances.

"Our sports and performing groups will be actively involved in Independence Day celebrations and interact with the general public," said transvestite Yetty, 48, who was playing volleyball alongside his colleagues in Soragan, Ngestiharjo, Bantul, on Monday.

They said they were willing to travel the eight kilometers from their homes in Kricak, Yogyakarta.

Yetty said most people felt negatively toward them because they were unfamiliar with transvestites and blamed them for things like the spread of HIV/AIDS even though injecting drug users were regarded as the main culprits.

"The negative view might be due to a number of transvestites who are uncommunicative and refuse to socialize with the community. It's normal then when people have a negative feeling about us," said Yetty.

Another transvestite, Tasya, 26, said her colleagues would also be involved in art performances.

"We will take part in stage performances to enliven the event. How can the public know us if we are not active?" Tasya asked. Tasya said there were 265 members registered with the IWAYO. They are required to take part in public activities and do community work. "We will use the moment to interact with the public in general," she said.

Wahyu, an organizing committee member in Soragan, Ngestiharjo, said the presence of transvestites in Independence Day celebrations would also make for a cheerful atmosphere.

"Especially, so far people only know them as spreading diseases and being violent. They are a community and also human beings. We hope that people will no longer discriminate against them after this event," he said.

Preparations for Independence Day are in full swing across Yogyakarta, with all parts of society encouraged to take part.

In Bantul, locals are organizing a mud soccer game for housewives. "We can gather and have fun, unlike normal days when everyone is busy with work," said Suparti, a housewife who will take part.

She said she enjoyed the games despite. "It's very enjoyable after we are kept occupied with household chores," she added.

Residents say they will also use the day to pray in remembrance of last year's devastating earthquake in the area. "We will reflect upon ourselves on the eve of August 17, and pray in order that disasters will never happen again," said Soge, 37, from Sanden, Bantul.

Motorists sick of paying bribes to crooked cops

Jakarta Post - August 9, 2007

Tony Hotland, Jakarta – A police officer pulls over a motorist and asks him to show his driver's license and his vehicle's documents. Upon receiving the documents, the police walks away from the scene.

The motorist then stops his vehicle and follows the officer. A brief conversation ensues, with the police insisting the motorist has violated the traffic regulation and has to be booked. Often he also tells the motorist that his license and vehicle documents will be seized.

Another conversation follows, with the motorist taking out his wallet. Shortly afterward, the two shake hands and the motorist gets back his license and vehicle documents.

This scenario is still very common in Jakarta. Virtually all motorists can say they have had to pay some kind of kickback after violating a traffic rule – they pay the money to avoid the promised red-tape at the nearest precinct. The bribe is sometimes as low as Rp 5,000 (55 US cents), but that's not the point.

It's been 61 years since the police force was formed in 1946 and it's been nine years since Soeharto's tyranny in 1998 – but still the nation's police are described as despotic. And this is despite the force having seen a series of internal reforms.

A nationwide survey carried out in May by two institutes suggested the police force's despotic attitude and the illegal fees they collect on the street remain a huge headache for motorists. But still the police are praised for sustaining national security.

The survey was carried out by Indo Barometer and ProPatria Institute and involved 1,200 adults across 33 provinces. It used a questionnaire with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

More than 45 percent of the respondents said the police needed to berate "ill-behaved" officers and 39 percent said the illegal fees the public often paid to officers must be stopped. But around one-third of the respondents said a functioning reward and punishment system would address these issues.

Coordinator of the National Police chief's staff, Insp. Gen. Winarto, said Tuesday the negative culture within the police force must be addressed, particularly because Indonesia was a young democracy. "Reforming such culture (goes hand in hand) with an improvement of welfare and comprehensive training for new officers," Winarto told a discussion on police reform.

Low-ranking officers in Indonesia get a monthly basic salary of Rp 793,500 (US$88), while those in the highest bracket get Rp 2,512,800 per month.

Fajrul Falaakh, a member of the National Law Commission, said the police force's failure to deliver their service to the public was a sign they did not apply democratic values to their role.

"But failure to treat the police fairly as citizens, which includes their salary and the conditions in which they must work, is also a show of poor democratic policing," said the Gadjah Mada University lecturer.

Some 20 percent of the surveyed respondents also said the police should have an internal supervision mechanism to hold them accountable. Such a mechanism was realized with the creation of the National Police Commission in 2005, but critics said it does not have the authority it needs. They said it needed the kind of power the Judicial Commission enjoys.

The Police Commission is chaired by the Coordinating Minister of Politics, Legal and Security Affairs and consists of the Home Affairs Minister, the Justice and Human Rights Minister and six other independent members. The commission is designed to help the President steer the policies of the force, to help select or dismiss the police chief and to receive public complaints.

The Commission's secretary, Insp. Gen. Ronny Lihawa, said the commission should restore public trust in the police's political neutrality and accountability. But he said only 47 out of 217 complaints filed by the public since December 2006 had been resolved by the police.

University lecturer Fajrul said an external overseeing body was a prerequisite to ensure full supervision of the police's vast authority.

The police force's Winarto said they were making efforts to change the mindset of new officers, with a curriculum highlighting respect for human rights. He also said a ratio of one policeman to every 500 civilians would help deliver a quicker service.

Perhaps when all of these measures have been put in place, motorists can rest assured they'll be able to leave their money in their wallets when they're next pulled over by a policeman.

Miss Universe cuts Bandung trip short

Jakarta Post - August 12, 2007

A protest prompted Miss Universe 2007, Riyo Mori, to cut her Bandung trip short Saturday.

Some 50 protesters from an anti-pornography alliance against Mori's arrival rallied outside the Savoy Homan hotel, prompting the Miss Universe team to instead take her back to Jakarta.

The sudden change of plans disappointed guests attending a painting auction, which she was scheduled to attend. Her absence forced the committee to return half of the Rp 500,000 ticket price to every guest.

"We apologize for this last minute disruption (resulting from the protest)," Wan Abas, the committee's deputy head, told journalists Saturday.

Coordinator of the Miss Universe 2007 trip to Indonesia, Azfauri Azis, said the protest against Miss Universe was the first protest against the international pageant group since the management of Putri Indonesia, Mustika Ratu, invited them in 1992.

He said Mori, who has had a tight schedule since her arrival on Aug. 2, suffered from a gastric illness, which became worse after she arrived at the hotel to rest and saw the protesters from her hotel window. – JP/Yuli Tri Suwarni

No sight of Soeharto at polling station

Jakarta Post - August 9, 2007

Jakarta – Neighbors eager for a glimpse of reclusive former president Soeharto were disappointed when he failed to appear at a polling station near his residence in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday.

Soeharto's daughter, Siti "Titik" Herdianti Hariadi, said her father was unwell. "We're sorry, Pak Harto cannot cast his ballot because he is suffering from diarrhea. He's had it for two days now," Titik said.

Titik and her younger sister, Siti Hutami Endang Adiningsih, cast their ballots at the polling station in Gondangdia, Central Jakarta.

Having ruled for 32 years, Soeharto resigned in May 1998 following nationwide protests fueled by a multidimensional crisis.


Peace deal helps to rebuild Aceh, but pains remain

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2007

Mohamad Rayan, Banda Aceh – Two years have passed since the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Aug. 15, 2005. Several significant developments have taken place in Aceh since, including a successful and widely respected democratic election and the swearing in of a democratically elected government.

The Aceh government law, passed by the House of Representatives last year, has also helped the peace process in the province. It gave the government of Aceh significant powers. With the exception of banking, defense, security and foreign relations decisions, all other areas are the responsibility of the elected Aceh government, currently let by Governor Irwandi Yusuf. The central government will also allocate 5 percent of its total general allocation funds to the province.

This will increase the amount of funds Aceh receives from Rp 3 trillion to Rp 8 trillion and will enable the government to pour more money into the education, health and community empowerment sectors, benefiting especially the victims of conflict.

However, there is a chance governor Irwandi has forgotten he was elected to lead all Acehnese people, even if they supported other candidates in the election.

The KPA (Aceh transitional committee), a body formed by the Aceh government, is facing public criticism for its aggressive lobbing to win tenders for development projects. Now even for small projects, such as building a sewerage system in Banda Aceh for example, contractors have to have KPA or Free Aceh Movement (GAM) connections to win tenders. The committee is also allegedly involved in the illegal logging trade.

Irwandi has worked hard to combat illegal logging activities in the province. He employs 1,000 forestry rangers, most of whom are supporters of the KPA and GAM. Only time will tell whether or not the anti-illegal logging force will be able to combat the crime or will instead monopolize illegal logging activities itself.

But what is evident two years after the MOU was signed is that the economic cake is being contested by supporters of Governor Irwandi and Vice Governor Nazar.

Supporters assemble every day outside the governor's office, perhaps seeking rewards for their support. It is an amazingly different governor's office from that of a normal governor's office. It is becoming a governor's office for the people. However, the government needs to adjust its system of receiving guests because it could affect the performance of the office. Another significant development two years since the MOU was signed is that there have been no more military clashes between the TNI and GAM ex-combatants.

However, a significant rise in the number of crimes committed has become evident. As Aceh becomes more lucrative, criminals from Medan in North Sumatra and Palembang in South Sumatra have started to operate in the province.

Concerns also remain regarding the poor performance of the Aceh Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRA). Acehnese people are still also waiting for the establishment of a human rights court and a commission for truth and reconciliation to trace human rights abuses in the past.

According to the "Aceh Conflict Monitoring Update" published in March 2007 by the World Bank, the delivery of reintegration funds caused some tensions between the KPA and anti-separatist groups. The BRA needs to launch massive campaigns, especially targeting ex-combatants, so people know what benefits are they entitled to and how to obtain them.

The BRA has already allocated US$150 million to assist targeted groups. So far it has disbursed Rp 25 million to each of 3000 GAM combatants, Rp 10 million to each of 6200 GAM non-combatants, Rp 10 million to each of 2035 political prisoners, Rp 5 million to each of 3024 GAM members who surrendered before the MOU was signed and Rp 10 million to 6500 members of anti-separatist groups. It has also disbursed funds to 5726 conflict-affected villages, ranging from Rp 60 million – 170 million.

The parties to the conflict have shown their commitment to building mutual confidence and trust. This aim has been largely achieved during the last two years. However, a solution for lasting peace and prosperity is still far in the distance.

[The writer is a specialist on issues concerning Aceh and is the community relations manager for Yayasan Hutan Tropis Borneo. The opinions expressed in this article are his own.]

Aceh considering reconciliation committee

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2007

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta – Despite political obstacles, the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam provincial administration is considering establishing a truth and reconciliation committee (KKR) to settle unresolved human rights abuse cases.

"All human rights violations that occurred during bloody conflict in the past must be settled comprehensively. The establishment of a truth and reconciliation committee to achieve this mission will require a common commitment from all stake holders, including the central government," Aceh Vice Governor Muhammad Nazar told The Jakarta Post.

"We are still approaching former GAM (Free Aceh Movement) leaders and the central government, particularly the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police, to win their backing for this mission."

He said the settlement of rights abuse cases was not only a matter of money, but also of honesty and willingness.

"The core problem is not only how to compensate victims and their families, but also how to encourage the two once-fighting sides to be honest and tell the truth as well as be willing to accept the legal consequences of the human rights abuses they committed in the past without any social, political and psychological impact on ties between Jakarta and Aceh in the future," said Nazar.

"The current state of peace must be maintained to achieve progress for the sake of the Acehnese people. We do not want the planned KKR to spark strong resistance from either side."

Nazar said from a legal perspective, the provincial administration would face difficulties establishing the KKR. Despite being recommended in a 2005 law on Aceh's administration, it still requires approval from a national commission of truth and reconciliation, which failed to come into existence after a Constitutional Court decision last year annulled a law on its legal basis.

"We have officially asked the central government to allow us to establish our own KKR, but the President is yet to give his approval," he said.

When asked about the progress of a reintegration program outlined in a 2005 peace agreement signed by Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), Nazar said it was nearing completion.

"Currently the Aceh Reintegration Agency (BRA) is verifying claims from victims regarding some 40,000 houses that were damaged during the conflict," he said.

"Jakarta has disbursed Rp 250 billion (US$27.17 million) of the central government's commitment of Rp 700 billion this year to start reconstructing and rehabilitating damaged houses."

Meanwhile, the Aceh office of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has urged the government to establish an ad hoc court to hear at least seven major human rights cases which allegedly involve the military.

"The seven cases could be tried without the presence of a truth and reconciliation committee because the cases involve massive killings which were committed not only by soldiers in their own capacity, but were based on orders from the military," the coordinator of Kontras Aceh, Asiah Uzia, told the Post.

Aceh still struggling two years on

Jakarta Post - August 15, 2007

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta – Two years after the signing of the Helsinki peace agreement, justice is not being properly upheld in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province and prosperity remains an illusion for many Acehnese, activists said Tuesday.

A coalition of rights monitoring groups – the Aceh Judicial Monitoring Institute (AJMI), Imparsial, ICJT Indonesia, Kontras, the Human Rights Working Group, Elsam and the Demos Institute, said that despite the signing of the agreement on Aug. 15, 2005, human rights abuses during the prolonged conflict in Aceh have been left unresolved and the government has yet to rehabilitate a large part of the victims of the conflict and their families.

"This condition might cause the new Aceh government to lose the trust of the Acehnese and the international community. And as a consequence, it could create legal uncertainty in the province," coalition spokesman Usman Hamid told a forum evaluating the implementation of the two-year-old peace agreement here.

Usman, also executive director of Kontras, warned that the absence of justice and the people's lack of confidence in the government might cause disharmony among the Acehnese in the future.

He said the peace agreement had undoubtedly achieved significant things in the forms of recovering a peaceful situation, as indicated by the decreasing number of cases of violence against civilians and the enactment of the 2006 Aceh regional administration law with the establishment of a new administration and the first democratic election of an Acehnese governor ever.

"In a comprehensive settlement of the conflict, all stakeholders should not only build peace but also resolve the human rights violations occurring during the conflict and give fair compensation to victims and their families as a preliminary requirement to a rehabilitation and reconciliation process," he said.

Executive director of the Demos Institute Asmara Nababan said that despite the improving political situation, the Acehnese wanted to improve their livelihoods, which the new Aceh government was yet to address in its development policy.

"Ideally, the governor (Irwandi Yusuf) could make breakthroughs, particularly in settling the unresolved human rights abuses during the 1976-2005 bloody conflict that claimed hundreds of thousands of human lives and destroyed unknown numbers of assets belonging to the people," he said.

Both Usman and Asmara said it was unfortunate that the government had focused more on post-tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction work over the past two years than conflict-related issues.

They acknowledged that the devastating tsunami in December 2004, which claimed some 210,000 human lives and displaced more than 500,000 others, encouraged the government and the Free Aceh Movement to go to the negotiating table.

"But the provincial administration should establish a truth commission as an instrument to reveal all human rights abuses during the conflict, resolve them and pay fair compensation to the victims and their families," Asmara said.

AJMI coordinator Hendra Budian said that despite the improving situation, shootings by unidentified men are frequent occurrences, contributing to public anxiety. "Ironically, the police have made only statements to the media and carried out no investigation to uphold the law," he said.

Life, business slowly return to Aceh's war-torn coffee fields

Jakarta Post - August 15, 2007

Nani Afrida, Bener Meriah – The woman in the dirty clothes was once one of the wealthiest people in the village.

Now Nursinah Alamsyah returns to a mere hut after working in the fields planting coffee seeds. "I've just moved here in the last six months," she said, placing her sickle in a corner of the hut.

The 45-year old and her seven children are residents of Permata district in Bener Meriah regency, a main coffee producing region.

The Bakongan Baru hamlet once had 130 households, which prospered from generous coffee harvests. However its isolated location, some 12 kilometers off the main road, through hilly terrain and a river, made it a safe haven for rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Resumed military operations against the rebels in 2001 destroyed everything the coffee growers had, trapped as they were between GAM and the Indonesian Military.

Yield from the Arabica crops, according to one estimate, dropped from an annual 900 to 1,000 kilograms per hectare to 700 kg to 800 kg per hectare. Up to 21,000 hectares of fields were abandoned in the neighboring regencies of Bener Meriah and Aceh Tengah, which both produced Acehnese coffee for the world market.

A manager with the Aceh Partnerships for Economic Development, M. Madya Akbar, was earlier quoted in the Serambi Indonesia daily as saying that both regencies had yields reaching an annual income of Rp 1 trillion. He said losses reached Rp 367 billion after the armed conflict.

Nursinah's home was razed to the ground and her crops destroyed. Her husband was killed and she moved her children out of the village.

"I came back to start over. If it wasn't for the children I would have gone mad," she said. Her children helped her build the hut, which has inner partitions of grass, an earth floor and a piece of zinc for a roof.

The memorandum of understanding signed in Helsinki on Aug. 15 2005 between GAM and the Indonesian government was insurance that life could go on. So Nursinah decided to resume coffee planting while waiting for the promise of assistance to victims of the conflict.

"We heard it was already peaceful, that there was no more shooting. And that we would get help," she said.

One neighbor, Kasmayani, has yet to make the same decision to move on. She said she was waiting for the promises of Kontras, a non government organization working on state violence, to help her ascertain whether the corpse in the grave in her coffee field was indeed that of her husband.

The village head of Bakongan Baru, Muhammad Amin, said locals had moved out by 2003 and had only begun to return last year. "It was too terrifying to stay, people moved to Medan (North Sumatra) or out of the regency," he said. The village head himself moved out and the once rich coffee plantation owner became a casual laborer at a terminal in Medan.

Muhammad said villagers were yet to gain the promised aid from the Aceh Reintegration Body, which faces demands from entire communities on both sides of the conflict, as well as tsunami victims. Only the world body for refugees, the UNHCR, has provided them with shovels and sickles, he said.

The village could use more help for education, Muhammad added. "Children still walk three kilometers to reach school. And many drop out because there's no money," he said.

Rights activists in Aceh charged under public incitement articles

Detik.com - August 10, 2007

M. Rizal Maslan, Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says it is disappointed that eight Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) activists in Banda Aceh have been named as suspects by the police saying that the police are protecting the interests of a company that appropriated land belonging to the people in 1990.

"We are warning the police not to side with the company. It would be ironic if it is precisely those fighting for the interests of the people that are charged with inciting hatred against a public company", said YLBHI director for advocacy Taufik Basari during a press conference at the Kontras' offices on Jl Borobudur in the Menteng area of Central Jakarta on Friday August 10.

Furthermore continued Basari, the charges against the eight LBH activists are based on the ambiguous hate-sowing articles, which are no longer in use. "We are disappointed over the arrests of the eight LBH Banda Aceh activists at the Langsa Post by the East Aceh district police", he repeated.

The federal secretary of Kontras, Oslan Purba meanwhile said that he is concerned that the police's actions will serve to obscure a problem that is actually of concern to LBH, that is the actions of PT Bumi Flora in forcibly taking over land owned by the people in 1990.

The eight activists who were arrested on July 2 are Muksalmina, Yulisa Fitri, Sugiono, Muhammad Jully Fuadi, Mardiati, Mustiqal Syahputra and Juanda. They were named suspects on August 8 and are being charged under articles 160 and 161 of the Criminal Code(1).

Purba added that the two articles being used by police to indict the activists have actually been revoked by the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court recently decided that the two articles are no longer relevant in the development of a democratic environment.

"The police's actions have in fact done irreparable damage to a state constitutional verdict in using articles that threaten democratisation and human rights", asserted Purba.

YLBHI and Kontras will therefore asking the police to act professionally by respecting the rights of the people and the activists assisting them. They also asking that the police investigate suspicions that the land at Bumi Flora(2) was forcibly seized and investigate the death of three local residents in 1999 who were defending their land. (zal/nvt)


1. On July 17 the Indonesia's Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional articles 154 and 155 of Indonesia's Criminal Code, commonly known as the "hate sowing" (Haatzai Artikelen) articles. It did not however revoke articles 160 or 161 on incitement which carry a maximum sentence of six and four years jail respectively.

2. On August 9, 2001, 31 people were massacred by the Indonesian Military at a plantation, Bumi Flora in East Aceh. The military later claimed that the Free Aceh Movement carried out the killings.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

 West Papua

Refugees rally around the flag

Sydney Morning Herald - August 16, 2007

Craig Skehan – The diplomatically sensitive Morning Star independence flag was flown outside the Australian Parliament yesterday by a group of West Papuans – some of whose successful asylum applications last year infuriated Indonesia. Flying the same flag in West Papua would probably mean jail.

It was the anniversary yesterday of the 1962 diplomatic agreement which led to West Papua's incorporation by Indonesia.

The independence campaigner Herman Wainggai yesterday called on the Government to use a visit to Australia next month of the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to press for round-table talks on the province's future.

Mr Wainggai told those gathered in freezing light rain, including 25 of the 43 who were granted asylum last year, that their plight had alerted ordinary Australians to repression by Indonesian security personnel. The refugees, some with their faces painted in traditional designs and one sporting a headdress of cassowary feathers, arrived at Cape York in January last year on board an outrigger canoe.

Mr Wainggai thanked the Australian Government for granting them asylum, but said it was not doing enough to speak out against abuses in West Papua, which borders Papua New Guinea. "We are not sure if those who need to hear our story are listening," he said. "People in our homeland need protection too."

Australia has signed a security agreement with Indonesia which provides that neither country should undermine the sovereign integrity of the other. But submissions to a federal parliamentary inquiry stated that the treaty should not be used to stifle rights of those granted asylum in Australia to peacefully express their views.

TNI on alert during celebration of Independence Day in Mimika

Jakarta Post - August 15, 2007

Markus Makur, Timika – Soldiers and police officers have been ordered to take strict action against any groups or parties that erect Papua's Bintang Kejora flags during the commemoration of Indonesia's 62nd Independence Day on Friday.

The order was made in response to reports circulating in Timika, the capital of Mimika regency. Bintang Kejora flags would be erected on Wednesday, Mimika military district commander Lt. Col. Trie Soeseno said Tuesday.

Soeseno said he was informed via a mobile text message that said certain groups would try to disturb the commemoration ceremony in Mimika. He said his subordinates were still investigating the reports.

"Anybody intending to hoist any flag aside from the Red and White ones will disturb the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia and the Indonesian Military (TNI) will take stern action against any disturbance in Papuan land," Soeseno said.

He said his command had deployed soldiers in a number of spots where disturbances frequently took place, including Mile 68 and Banti in Tembagapura district.

Soldiers assisted by the police would also intensify patrols ahead of and during the celebrations. "I urge the public not to be easily provoked by various groups to disrupt security in Mimika regency," he said.

Mimika Police chief Comr. Muhammad Yusuf said disturbances were predicted to occur ahead of the commemoration ceremony on Friday. The police had strengthened their patrol in both Timika and Mimika in general, he said.

Acting Mimika Regency Atanasius Allo Rafra said he was concerned about the unexpected bloody incidents in the regency, including the death of motorcyclist in Kwamki Lama, as well as brawls among supporters during a volleyball competition at Eme Neme Yauware field Sunday.

"I urge the public to take part in maintaining security to enable them to join celebrations happily," he said. A similar call was made by Mimika Legislative Council's speaker Yoseph Yopi Kilangin.

He asked the public to "not be easily attracted by dismal invitations". "All parties in Mimika regency have to work hand in hand to maintain security," he said.

Military will shoot anyone trying to pull down the flag

Cenderawasih Post - August 13, 2007

Here is a strong warning as the 17th August anniversary approaches to anyone who tries to pull down the red-and-white flag already unfurled on the mast. Army headquarters has issued a threat that they will "shoot on sight".

"There's no problem with shooting anyone because this represents an insult to the state, so everyone out in the field is given full authorisation," said Vice Admiral Sagoem Tamboen, head of Public Relations at army headquarters.

Cables have been sent to all Kodams and Korems throughout Indonesia to safeguard conditions in their area, especially as we approach the anniversary of the proclamation on 17th August this coming Friday.

The officer said that the position taken by the army is not a violation of human rights. On the contrary, it means upholding the law. "If there are elements who refuse to accept the red-and-white, and dont want to be citizens of Indonesia, then they can just go somewhere else," said Sagoem.

So who are they? The two-star general was not willing to mention names. "There's no need for me to mention anyone. You yourselves know from what happened last year, who these people were who caused disruptions."

There were incidents last year in Muara Dua, Lhokseumawe, Aceh and in Merauke, Papua. "We need the support of local people to come forward and report, if anyone is trying anything on."

Meanwhile, the governor of Lemhanas (National Defence Institute) Muladi said that the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia was indisputable (harga mati). It must be strongly defended. "Any action however small to provoke separatism must be firmly dealt with," he said. He said that the independence proclamation was not just something to be celebrated symbolically. But it must be followed through with concrete action, with hard work.

A member of Commission 3 of Parliament, Soeripto, said that any on-the-spot shooting should be preceded by giving a warning. "It would be far better if those involved were arrested and interrogated," he said. A local assembly member from Sidoardjo said that efforts to pull down the flag should be handled carefully. "Maybe such things are intended to discredit the good name of the army," he said.

Canberra urged to pressure Indonesia over Papua

Radio Australia - August 10, 2007

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard is being asked to speak up for the human rights of Papua when he meets Indonesia's President in Sydney next month.

The Chairman of the Papuan People's Assembly wants the issue raised when Australia hosts 20 national leaders during the APEC summit in September. Chairman Agus Alua claims Papua's special autonomy is being deliberately undermined by Indonesia's military.

Presenter: Karon Snowdon

Speaker: Agus Alua, Chairman of the Papuan People's Assembly

Although West Papua was granted special autonomy 6 years ago, and has its own people's assembly, the Assembly's Chairman, Agus Alua says the central government in Jakarta has failed to fully implement its own policy.

Economically Papua has seen little benefit from being part of south east asia's biggest economy. And worse the Indonesian military he says has its own agenda aimed at creating chaos.

Alua: During special autonomy the protection of West Papua is not working, a lot of military intervention there, therefore we need Australian Prime Minister to talk with SBY.

The charges Agus Alua makes against Indonesia's national military, the TNI are serious ones. They include the formation of pro-integration anti-autonomy groups and a new style of OPM – the outlawed Papuan Freedom Movement which under the direction of the military attacks villages and is used to justify military crackdowns.

He also accuses the TNI of backing illegal businesses including prostitution and illegal logging, of restricting freedom of movement and of heavy handed surveillance.

Alua: Before special autonomy we have 3 battalions but now during special autonomy law it became six.

Snowdon: And are they not respecting the special autonomy law?

Alua: Yes that's the real situation today now.

Snowdon: We've been hearing increasing reports of the Indonesian military abuse of human rights. Do you have direct evidence that you can tell us about of this problem?

Alua: Now it's the OPM it doesn't work anymore in the jungle...

Snowdon: The OPM?

Alua: Not now military created new OPM leaders there and they work closely with them.

Snowdon: You mean some sort of militia supported by the Indonesian military?

Alua: Yeah it's a kind of militia.

Snowdon: So that they have an excuse to increase military operations is that what you're saying?

Alua: Yes.

Snowdon: And what's happening to the people?

Alua: Papuan people they cannot move freely to look for fish or hunting because a lot of military control.

Snowdon: Why is there so much military control?

Alua: I think it's military position today in Papua and Aceh, they still see that Papua and... are still ??? so they need more and more military to pressure these people in order that they cannot talk about the political situation.

Indonesia allows almost no media or independent travel to Papua. Agus Alua has travelled extensively to inform the world and to gather support for a better deal for Papuans. He says proper autonomy would be a great benefit to both sides. He wants John Howard to pressure Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when they meet at the APEC summit in Sydney.

Last year when Australia granted 42 Papuans political asylum it seriously strained Australian Indonesian relations. An angry President Yudohyono recalled his Ambassador who stayed away for months. Agus Alua says the asylum seeker case illustrate his point.

Alua: The Papuan refugees who come here to Australia it's part of the military control and especially the special autonomy law.... in Papua no space more for political democratic process, no space for aspiration, everything is not..., we need Australian support, especially for changing Papuan right of life in their homeland, because you know that in Indonesia we talk and talk and never heard.

Papua's autonomy not even skin deep: MRP

Jakarta Post - August 9, 2007

Jakarta – Papua's five-year-old special autonomy status has done nothing to lift social conditions for the majority of Papuan people thanks to the poor allocation of autonomy funds, said the Papuan People's Assembly (MPR) in Australia on Tuesday.

Huge amounts of money have to be allocated for development programs in education, health and infrastructure, said MPR chairman Agus Alue Alua at the Australian National University in Canberra.

"A bigger part of the huge autonomy funds has been spent to finance the bureaucracy and I regret Papuan authorities (cannot cope with)... HIV/AIDS or (alcoholism) among locals," he said.

"Most Papuan people have yet to accept the special autonomy as something that could improve their social welfare," he told Antara. He said the main problem in Papua was not the 2001 special autonomy law, but its implementation.

 Human rights/law

AGO case against Pollycarpus strengthens

Jakarta Post - August 14, 2007

Jakarta – The AGO is confident the testimony of former Garuda Indonesia chairman Indra Setiawan will have a significant impact on its case involving the alleged murder of rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

The Attorney General's Office has initiated legal moves to reverse the Supreme Court ruling that exonerated the alleged murderer of the human rights activist. The office continues to charge that former Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto was responsible.

"It (Indra Setiawan's testimony) will have a strong effect (to the Pollycarpus ruling)," Attorney General Hendarman Supandji told reporters Monday. "The Supreme Court ruled that Pollycarpus only committed an administrative violation. But (the court) hasn't found the actual killer. There must definitely be a murderer."

He said his office believed Pollycarpus was the one who put the poison in Munir's drink. Munir died from arsenic poisoning on September 7, 2004, while flying Garuda from Jakarta to Amsterdam with a stop in Singapore.

Last week, the National Police said Indra stated he had received a letter from a senior official of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), which instructed him to assign Pollycarpus as an aviation security officer on Munir's flight. There have been widespread rumors that BIN officials were involved in the murder.

But Hendarman refused to comment on BIN's involvement in the murder case. "Let's just see (what happens) in court," he said. "I only want to talk about the facts. I don't want to make any conclusions. It's for the court to decide."

M. Assegaf, Pollycarpus' lawyer, said he wanted a confirmation from BIN regarding the letter to Indra. "It doesn't make sense if BIN issued a letter for a murder conspiracy," Assegaf said. "Intelligence usually operates silently."

Pollycarpus has always denied any relationship with BIN even though the police found proof of a series of calls between BIN and Pollycarpus.

At the beginning of this month, Munir's wife, Suciwati, and Usman Hamid of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence met with Hendarman at the AGO. Usman said the AGO would continue efforts to pursue the people involved in Munir's murder. He said new evidence submitted by the AGO for the case review mentioned names from Garuda and BIN.

The police last week submitted files to the Jakarta Provincial Prosecutor's office on Indra and Rohainil Aini, secretary to Garuda chief pilot, as two new suspects in the murder. Both of them were charged under article 340 of the Criminal Code on premeditated murder.

Dossier links Indonesian intelligence to activist murder

Agence France Presse - August 14, 2007

Samantha Brown, Jakarta – Indonesian state prosecutors have compiled an array of fresh evidence that implicates the powerful state intelligence agency in the murder of a rights activist, according to a document obtained by AFP.

Munir Said Thalib, Indonesia's most prominent rights activist, was poisoned as he travelled from Jakarta to Amsterdam in September 2004. He had made many enemies during the rule of dictator Suharto, and after his 1998 downfall.

In a plot worthy of a spy thriller, an off-duty pilot from the state-run airline Garuda Indonesia, who is accused of links to Indonesia's intelligence agency BIN, was convicted of slipping a lethal dose of arsenic into Munir's food or drink during his flight.

But in a move sparking international outrage, the Supreme Court last year overturned the verdict against Pollycarpus Priyanto, citing insufficient evidence. A charge that the pilot used a falsified document to board the same Garuda flight as Munir, however, was upheld and he was jailed for two years, although he walked free shortly afterwards.

Now, amid escalating international pressure to find the culprits, state prosecutors are requesting a so-called judicial case review. This would see the Supreme Court reconsider its own decision, based on an admission of fresh evidence or any errors or consistencies in its verdict.

A dossier detailing the evidence is expected to be submitted to a lower court on Thursday, which will determine whether the request is admissible.

If the review goes ahead, the Supreme Court will hear testimony from a series of new witnesses that again points the finger at the pilot, Priyanto, but also finally links him to BIN, according to the dossier seen by AFP.

Connections between Priyanto and BIN have long been alleged – the pilot made some 41 phone calls, for instance, to a senior BIN official around the time of the murder. But the new evidence is tighter, said an optimistic Usman Hamid, a human rights worker with Kontras, an organisation founded by Munir, who has also seen the dossier.

In it, prosecutors ask why the Supreme Court, which ruled Priyanto was guilty of using the falsified document, did not insist on finding out why he needed to use it; why he offered to swap his business class seat with Munir, who was in economy; and why he had called Munir, whom he did not know, before the flight.

"This is what should have been looked into during the appeal process – the extent of the correlation between the use of the false document with the death of the victim, Munir," state prosecutors say in the document.

Testimony from five new witnesses is recounted, including that of a junior intelligence agent, Raden Mohammad Patma Anwar, who told investigators that he had been ordered by a superior to kill Munir before presidential elections in October 2004 – a month before his death.

Among a series of potential scenarios plotted for Munir's death was one involving a paranormal expert casting a bad spell on him. A colleague of the agent "managed to meet with the paranormal expert, but the hex did not work because Munir had a kris," the document cites the agent as saying. A kris is a traditional sword believed to ward off evil.

The agent also said he had seen Priyanto in the parking lot of the BIN headquarters.

Testimony is also recounted from a musician on board the flight who claims he saw Priyanto deliver a drink to Munir during transit at Singapore's Changi airport. "The witness saw Pollycarpus coming from the drinks counter carrying two drinks glasses... The witness saw Munir talking to Pollycarpus while drinking," it says.

A medical doctor says the arsenic that killed the 38-year-old father of two appears to have been administered during the transit period.

As well, former Garuda director Indra Setiawan, who is in custody and is expected to be charged with being an accessory to the murder, recounts that he signed a letter assigning Priyanto to assist the carrier's corporate security unit following a written demand from a senior BIN officer. The incriminating BIN letter disappeared along with Setiawan's bag from his car in December 2004, but his testimony alone would link Priyanto to BIN.

Matt Easton, a senior associate with Human Rights First, a US- based organisation that has followed the case closely, said that a credible review of Priyanto's case is a first step for Indonesia's judicial system. "But police and prosecutors can't stop there if the Indonesian government is serious about holding those who planned and ordered Munir's murder accountable," he said in an email.

The fresh evidence has left Kontras' Hamid optimistic. For him, nothing short of Indonesia's democracy is at stake. "I cannot imagine how the Indonesian government, Indonesian democracy, can continue if those individuals remain untouchable in the future," he told AFP.

"Law enforcement is just an illusion if we are not able to solve this case. The evidence is there, the witnesses are there. We have no excuse to get out of this situation."

Nababan: Recommendation letter proves Pollycarpus was BIN agent

Detik.com - August 13, 2007

Iqbal Fadil, Jakarta – Suspicions by the Munir Fact Finding Team (TPF) that the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) was involved in the Munir case have been proven correct following the leaking of a claim by the former Garuda executive director Indra Setiawan about the existence of a recommendation letter from BIN.

"The letter indicates that Polly[carpus] is a BIN agent", said the former deputy chairperson of the Munir TPF, Asmara Nababan, at the Four Seasons Hotel on Jl. HR Rasuna Said in Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Monday August 13.

Nababan explained that the TPF had found irregularities when Setiawan assigned Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto as an aviation security staff member who was given access to the flight without being a pilot.

Nababan said that the first suspicious thing was that Pollycarpus was directly assigned by Setiawan in his capacity as executive director, whereas Pollycarpus was usually given assignments by the director of personnel. "But the TPF was unable to find the written letter from BIN pertaining to the request because were not given access to see BIN documents", he said.

At the time he continued, the TPF was only able to conclude that there were "strong forces" that dictated Setiawan to assign Pollycarpus. "We suspected it was BIN, but we did not have written evidence", he said in an outburst of emotion.

Nababan said that Setiawan's claims confirm that there was a close relationship between Pollycarpus and BIN. "The letter confirms that Polly was a BIN agent. So Munir's murder was a conspiracy", said Nababan.

Nababan is optimistic that the judicial review being presented by the national police will be successful. "Providing that the judges don't look at the judicial review from a formal legalistic view, but consider the new evidence being presented", said the former secretary general of the National Human Rights Commission. (aan/umi)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Pollycarpus' lawyer seeks clarification over BIN involvement

Detik.com - August 13, 2007

Indra Subagja, Jakarta – The lawyer representing Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, M. Assegaf went to the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) to hand over a four page letter seeking clarification over four issues.

The contents of the letter were outlined by Assegaf at his office on Jl. Haji Samali in South Jakarta on Monday August 13.

First, is it true that Raden Muhammad Patma Anwar alias Ucok alias Empe alias Aa has been a member of BIN since 2000 with the rank of junior agent 3C.

Second, is it true that there was an order from BIN through Deputy Director II Manunggal Maladi to Sentot and Ucok to assassinate Munir before the 2004 presidential elections.

Third, is it true that a member of BIN named Wahyu Saronto (BIN IV Deputy Director) and Sentot were given an assignment together with Ucok, to visit the house of [controversial psychic] Ki Gendeng Pamungkas to use black magic on Munir.

Fourth, in the months of June and July 2004 or thereabouts did BIN, in this case represented by the Deputy Director of BIN (As'ad), issue an instruction that was given to Indra Setiawan (the former executive director of Garuda) to assign Pollycarpus to the corporate security section on a Garuda company flight.

"This is not just in the interests of our client but also for BIN, bearing in mind that there is "an impression" that the agency was involved in Munir's death", asserted Assegaf. (ndr/nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Munir murder file handed over to prosecutors

Jakarta Post - August 13, 2007

Jakarta – A new chapter opened in the Munir murder case Friday after the National Police submitted files on two new suspects to the Jakarta provincial prosecutor's office.

Former president director of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, Indra Setiawan, and the secretary to the Garuda chief pilot, Rohainil Aini, are both charged under Article 340 of the Criminal Code on premeditated murder.

Rohainil is also charged under Article 263 on forgery as she allegedly provided fake documents allowing acquitted suspect Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto to board Munir's flight under the pretense of being an aviation security officer.

Munir, founder of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, died from arsenic poisoning on Sept. 7, 2004, on board a Garuda flight to Amsterdam, which included a stopover in Singapore.

"The prosecutor announced on Aug. 7 that the files were acceptable, so we handed them over today to the provincial prosecutor's office," National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Bambang Kuncoko told reporters.

Indra's lawyer, Antawirya J. Dipodiputro, said that the charges against his client were baseless. "I don't think the police have strong grounds for these charges. He just issued a letter instructing Pollycarpus to serve as an aviation security officer, that was all," he said. He added that the letter had nothing to do with the murder.

Munir was known for his critical views on the Indonesian Military, accusing it of rights violations in the troubled provinces of Aceh and Papua, and for being involved in illegal logging and drug smuggling.

There have been widespread rumors that officials of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) were involved in the murder, with cell phone call records showing a series of call from the agency to Pollycarpus and vice versa.

Antawirya said Indra had admitted in his police statement that he had received a letter from a senior BIN official instructing him to assign Pollycarpus as the aviation security officer on Munir's flight. "But the letter was lost along with his bag at a hotel," he said.

Bambang said the police would summon anyone implicated in the case, including BIN officials. "When the time is right, we will summon them," he said, adding that the cases of the three Garuda employees would be handled simultaneously as they were related to each other.

He said Pollycarpus's presence on the same flight as Munir while off-duty was strongly connected to the powers vested in the two other suspects.

The Pollycarpus case is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court. In October 2006, the Supreme Court annulled the 14-year jail term handed to him by the Jakarta District Court in December 2005. Instead, the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years in jail for forgery. He was freed last December.

Pollycarpus was scheduled to attend the first session of the case review Thursday, but failed to appear due to ill health. The hearing has been rescheduled to Aug. 16.

Suspect claims gave letter from BIN directly to Pollycarpus

Detik.com - August 11, 2007

Indra Subagja, Jakarta – Former Garuda executive director Indra Setiawan's attorney has confirmed that his client issued an instruction to Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto to be on duty on the aircraft carrying human rights activist Munir after receiving a letter from the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).

According to an admission by Setiawan, he gave the "letter of recommendation" from BIN directly to Pollycarpus. "PC handed the letter over directly to Indra at the Sahid (Hotel), sometime in July. This is based on an admission by Indra in the police interrogation report", said Setiawan's lawyer Antawirya J Dipodiputra, when speaking in Jakarta on Friday August 10.

According to Antawirya a high-ranking BIN official signed the letter. "So Pak Indra was unable to refuse. The letter had a BIN letter head and (the initials of BIN official - Ed.) AS who signed it. In the letter it itemised the reasons for the assignment. At the bottom of the letter it also listed CCs to a number of parties such as the minister for state owned enterprises", said Antawirya.

One of the reasons for the assignment was to ensure flight security. Setiawan received the letter because it was sent officially by a government agency. "It was a sensitive time then because of the Bali bombing right. Moreover the letter did not have an order to commit murder. It only referred to general issues so there isn't a problem", he added.

Why however was Pollycarpus asked to carry out the assignment? "I don't know the reasons for that, but informally Polly[carpus] was often given duties as a corporate security officer at Garuda, although in formally terms only after the letter was issued", said Antawirya.

Antawirya went on to explain that Pollycarpus was indeed considered to be a capable individual because he was often given the task of a mediator when Garuda had problems, particularly with its employees. "He was once a mediator during a noisy pilot's strike", he said.

Why did the meeting between Pollycarpus and Setiawan to hand the letter over take place at the Sahid Hotel, whereas it was an official office assignment? "Pak Indra usually met his guests and colleagues at the Sahid. Just ask, all of the people at the Sahid know him. Moreover the letter was top secret from an official agency right", added Antawirya.

Meanwhile when Detik.com sought confirmation, Pollycarpus' attorney M Assegaf said that they would be writing to BIN to enquire about Setiawan's claims. According to Assegaf, it makes no sense for BIN to have issued a letter linked with an attempt to murder Munir.

"Pak Indra's information makes suspicions of the involvement of people from BIN even stronger. It makes no sense for BIN to openly issue a letter to carry out a conspiracy to murder. Because in its actions, intelligence is usually a 'silent operation'", explained Assegaf.

Assegaf said that it is extremely important to obtain information from BIN because the written request (to fly to Singapore as an assistant staff member in corporate security) from As'ad was also included in a judicial review statement on behalf of his client Pollycarpus.

"Indra Setiawan's information is that Polly's assignment was because of a written request from As'ad. This is in Indra's interrogation report that was also included in the judicial review statement on behalf of Polly", said Assegaf (ndr/nrl)


In a separate report by Detik.com on the start of the judicial review, Assegaf explained that the original letter from As'ad disappeared along with Setiawan's bag in late December 2004.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

BIN issued recommendation for Polycarpus to join Munir's flight

Detik.com - August 10, 2007

Indra Subagja, Jakarta – Little by little, the mystery surrounding the Munir case is being uncovered. Wira D. Dipodiputra, the lawyer of the former executive director of PT Garuda Indonesia Indra Setiawan, claims that a letter exists written by a high-ranking official from the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) requesting that Polycarpus Budihari Priyanto be allowed to depart for Singapore.

"Yes, the letter does indeed exist. But as legal advisors we have never seen it [ourselves]," said Dipodiputra when accompanying his client to the Jakarta Chief Public Prosecutor's offices on Jl. HR Rasuna Said in the Kuningan area of South Jakarta on Friday August 10.

Dipodiputra went on to say that this is based on an admission made by Setiawan to an investigator from the national police headquarters. "But the letter disappeared, from Pak Indra's car at the Sahid Hotel", he said.

Reportedly the letter was handed over in July 2004 at the Sahid Hotel and disappeared in December 2004 at the same location. In relation to this, the letter was referred to in the police interrogation report. "But the letter and a murder taking place are far removed right", he explained.

Meanwhile the head of the national police headquarters public relations department, Inspector General Sisno Adiwinoto said that the investigation into the Munir case to find the other perpetrators would be continued after Setiawan's court hearing has been completed.

"Later if there are (names that emerge in the trial), of course we will investigate further. But let the court hearing take place first", he said.

According to Adiwinoto, in following up the investigation police will also be coordinating with related institutions. All of this continued Adiwinoto would be able to be proven in court.

"All of this will be proven in the court. Moreover also who gave the order to commit [the murder] and who else was ordered to assist in its perpetration, will be able to be proven in court", he added.

When asked weather any BIN officials had been questioned, Adiwinoto said that if there is sufficient evidence, then of course anyone who is involved would be investigated. (nwk/sss)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Religious minority groups want more

Jakarta Post - August 10, 2007

Jakarta – The Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) is demanding that the government sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People to ensure they are given the same rights as all other Indonesians.

Followers of indigenous belief systems, such as animism and other faiths predating the arrival of the six official religions here, face frequent discrimination in Indonesia.

The draft of the UN declaration, formulated in 1985, stipulates that indigenous people must not be forced to leave their land and that they must be allowed to practice their traditions.

The government of Indonesia supported the adoption of the declaration in the first assembly of the Human Rights Council in July 2006. But in the UN general assembly in December of the same year, the Indonesian delegation agreed to postpone discussion and revise the declaration's draft.

Secretary general of AMAN Abdon Nababan said that the government and the Indonesian delegation should unite at this year's UN general assembly, which will take place in New York, the United States, in September, and focus on the welfare of the indigenous people.

Abdon added that by signing the UN declaration, the government would create a basis for formulating a national law acknowledging the rights of indigenous peoples.

"It is difficult for indigenous people to become Indonesian citizens. The government usually mistreats indigenous people, such as by evicting us from our land," Abdon said during a press conference on Thursday.

He added that the law on forestry did not incorporate the rights of indigenous people, which resulted in land dispute cases and evictions. He said that most Indonesian indigenous people faced colonization of their regions by transmigrants, the exploitation of natural resources by others and were forced to embrace unfamiliar values. Abdon estimated that the number of Indonesian indigenous people ranged between 50 and 70 million.

"The state doesn't have any data on the population of Indonesian indigenous people because it only gives identity cards to people who have adhere to one of the big five religions, while we have our traditional religions. If this estimation is correct, it would be a large number. In other countries, the number of indigenous people is usually below a quarter of the population," he said.

Melania, a member of AMAN from the Tara Gahar Tajo Mosan indigenous community in Sikka, East Nusa Tenggara, said that her people were evicted from their land when the government decided to conserve forests in the region.

After being evicted, she said, her community was forced to plant cacao by the government. The monoculturing of cacao turned out to be a failure, which made her people suffer from food shortages.

"We have to eat the inner part of sugar palm logs because we don't have other food. As a result, the children are suffering digestive problems," she said.

Yorry Karisoh from the Tondanau indigenous community in North Sulawesi said that allowing indigenous people to maintain their traditional diets would solve food scarcity problems.

"Most indigenous people don't eat rice, they eat various kinds of tuber. So let them grow and eat edible tubers. That doesn't make us a poorer people. We become poor because we're evicted," Yorry said.

Yorry suggested that the government empower indigenous people with simple technology to process natural resources. He said that his area had several waterfalls, which could be used to produce electricity, but the local administration did not provide the indigenous people with the technology and preferred to wait for the state-owned electricity firm to build an electricity installation.

"The government wants to handle everything, but it is already proven that they can't. Why don't we share the burden?" Yorry said.

Government told to revise law on crimes against state

Jakarta Post - August 9, 2007

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta – Politicians, political analysts and activists have told the government to revise a 1999 law on crimes against the state, which they said had lost all relevancy in the reform era.

They were responding here Wednesday to the burning by the government of school textbooks that questioned the official narrative of the failed 1965 coup blamed on communists.

Yasonna Hasudungan Laoly, a legislator from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), and Effendy Choirie, who leads the National Awakening Party (PKB) at the House of Representatives, said law was repressive and needed to be brought into line with the new political realities of the reform era.

They said the law was the product of an authoritarian mind-set that was no longer relevant. "I will bring this issue up at an upcoming hearing with the Attorney General's Office, which is in charge of enforcing the law," said Yasonna, also a member of the House's law commission.

The law carries a maximum 20-year jail sentence for anyone convicted of the adoption or dissemination of communism.

In the last two months, the Attorney General's Office has destroyed thousands of Indonesian history textbooks for failing to clearly identify the now-banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) as being behind the failed Sept. 30, 1965, coup.

Yasonna said the destruction of the textbooks was a violation of free speech. He also said the books were simply addressing some of the controversies that continue to surround the coup attempt. "I don't believe the textbooks are aimed at disseminating communism. Anyway, all citizens have the intellectual right to express their opinions," he said.

Effendy hinted that competition among book publishers may have had something to do with the destruction of textbooks, with publishers using the Attorney General's Office to undercut their rivals. "Many banned books written by the late Pramoedya Ananta Toer are on sale in bookstores in Jakarta but none have been seized. Only certain textbooks have been confiscated," he said.

Rival G. Ahmad, advocacy coordinator at the Center for Indonesian Law and Policy Study, said the 1999 law and a relevant decree from the People's Consultative Assembly should be brought to the Constitutional Court for review because they were not in line with the 1945 Constitution.

"The government has made these laws tools to prevent citizens from seeking the truth behind the bloody movement and to prevent historians from rewriting Indonesian history," he said.

J Kristiadi, a political analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said the government should not prevent citizens from expressing opinions. He said laws and regulations could not defeat communism.

"Communism can't be banished by torching textbooks; it can be done by improving the people's social welfare," he said.

 Labour issues

Taxi drivers demand fairness

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2007

Purwokerto, Central Java – Hundreds of taxi drivers grouped in the Kobata Taksi cooperative in Purwokerto to stage a rally Wednesday demanding fairness from Banyumas Transportation Office.

The protest, commenced at the city's old terminal and continued to the local Transportation Office, before it ended at the Banyumas Legislative Council building.

The protesters asked the office to set their routes fairly, especially following the opening of a new taxi company.

"The office and the local Land Transportation Organization (Organda) have never involved us in setting new routes for the new taxi," said protest organizer Yogi.

"This disadvantages us because the new taxi's tariff is cheaper. Satria Taksi has used cars, so it can lower its tariff. Passengers would automatically prefer Satria if both companies use the same route."

Banyumas Organda head Tanto denied his office had not invited Kobata Taksi to discuss the issue. Speaker of Commission B of the Banyumas legislature Bambang Pujiyanto told the protesters his office had yet to decide what their demand was, but that he would facilitate it.

Unions not protecting grassroots

Jakarta Post - August 10, 2007

Jakarta – Most labor unions have failed to attract members due to skepticism among workers, a leading unionist has said.

"We think that the current confederations of laborers do not really carry the aspirations of the grassroots workers. They compromise too much with the government," a senior official at the Labor Demand Alliance, Sahat Antony Hutabarat, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Almost 200 national-level labor unions are registered with the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry.

Only three of these, the Confederation of All-Indonesian Workers Unions, the Indonesian Workers Unions Confederation and the Confederation of Indonesian Prosperous Labor Unions (KSBSI), have played large roles in the labor movement, Sahat said, with the 2003 Labor Law an example.

"Those confederations were involved in the discussion of the law from the beginning, but the results show that the law is not really labor-oriented because it includes articles on outsourcing and contract labor and one-sided dismissal," he said.

He added that outsourcing labor and one-sided dismissals were not matters of concern in Indonesia before the law was issued. "Therefore we intend to establish a new confederation that we hope will be a medium for the aspirations of grassroots laborers," he said, adding that the confederation was expected to be established in early 2008.

Separately, chairman of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Association Miftah Farid said that those confederations were only fighting for the interests of certain labor groups.

He said the fact that the welfare of many local laborers was still unprotected was proof that the big unions had not done their utmost to fight for their rights.

"Therefore, we have established a migrant workers association," he said, although he added that this did not mean they would not join one of the confederations.

"We are still investigating which one if really fighting for the sake of the laborers because we do not want the bigger labor unions to take advantage of us," he said.

He said they also wanted to be sure that any unions they were affiliated with were free from any other interests.

The number of national workers unions has increased rapidly since Indonesia ratified the ILO Convention in 1998 and issued the 2000 Law on Freedom of Association. There are currently 146 national labor unions.

Meanwhile, KSBSI head Rekson Silaban said that the mushrooming of labor unions was a temporary phenomenon.

"We are in a phase of euphoria after the government issued the freedom of association law," he said, adding that eventually the number of labor unions would decrease. "The unions that do not have a significant vote in fighting for their members' aspirations will be left behind," he said.

Besides, people had to realize that the more labor unions there were, the more their negotiating position was weakened, Rekson said. He added that labor unions should strengthen themselves so that they could be involved in tripartite organizations, which would make their position more significant.

 Environment/natural disasters

Drought worsening in Central, West Java

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2007

Agus Maryono and Yuli Tri Suwarni, Purwokerto/Bandung – Serious drought in the past month has forced residents in Banyumas regency, Central Java, to use unsanitary water for cooking, and pushed West Java farmers to the brink of harvest failure.

With wells starting to dry up, some residents near the Gunung Tugel dump in Karangklesem subdistrict in South Purwokerto district have been drinking water from the area's gutters.

Karangklesem resident Darsiti said residents were aware that the water was dirty but had no choice but to drink it. "What else can we do? We're forced to consume water from the gutter," the 47- year-old told journalists Wednesday.

The residents, she said, worked together to dig a well but no water came out even though it was 50 meters deep. "Everything is now beyond our power. We can only hope for a clean water supply from Banyumas regency administration."

Another resident, Wida, said people in her area had been consuming the water for several days and no one had been sick. "We're grateful none of the residents have got sick although the water must be full of dangerous germs and bad for the health," the 50-year-old said.

The drought also has West Java farmers like 54-year-old Damas worried.

The resident of Rancawilis in Majalaya district, Bandung regency in West Java, has been praying that clouds that have been hanging over Bandung for the past two weeks, will finally bring rain.

"I just planted a paddy two months ago and now the water is so hard to get and the rain is still not coming. We can only hope the drought will not last long because the rice price is good now," he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He said that the current price of unhusked rice, at between Rp 2,100 (about 22 US cents) and Rp 2,300 a kg, was better than the previous Rp 2,000 a kg.

Damas said he strongly believed that his young paddy would survive despite the cracked and parched land if water came. Rain is his only hope since his field is located far from normal water sources.

For Damas, harvest time is important because he is only a worker on 2,800-square-meter field that belongs to another person. At harvest time, he earns money by selling his rice and splitting the money with the owner of the land.

Another farmer, Ujang Dinar, was similarly hopeful. His home in Tegaluar village, also in Majalaya district, has been badly hit by the drought, although was regularly suffers floods during the rainy season. "I just hope the drought will not last long," the 45-year-old said.

West Java Governor Danny Setiawan said drought had affected more than 30,000 hectares of rice field in 14 of the province's cities and regencies, with at least 10,000 hectares suffering harvest failure.

As in previous years, the province's rice producers – Cirebon, Indramayu and Subang regencies – were the hardest hit by the drought.

West Java Agriculture data shown that in July this year, drought has affected 4,487 hectares, while in August last year, drought affected 10,000 hectares of rice field.

"I've instructed regents and mayors to activate water pumps to save the paddies," Danny told journalists on Wednesday.

Head of the West Java Agriculture Office, Asep Abdi, however, was confident the drought would not affect the production target of 10.4 million tons of unhusked rice as other rice producers, Bekasi and Karawang regencies, could still rely on the water supply from Jatiluhur dam.

Green group renews call for end to reclamation project

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2007

Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta – Environmentalists on Wednesday renewed calls for the city administration to stop an ongoing land reclamation project that allegedly threatens the livelihoods of thousands of people.

Dozens of members of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) staged a rally in front of City Hall to protest the project.

"We use the momentum of Independence Day celebrations to remind the administration to stop the reclamation project.

"The next phase of the project involves evicting thousands of fishermen living on the North Jakarta coast," Slamet Daroyni, the executive director of Walhi's Jakarta chapter, said. No city official met with the protesters.

Walhi, according to Slamet, had received complaints over the project from fishermen in Cilincing, Kamal Muara and Marunda areas. The fishermen said reclamation works had killed fish in the area and their way of life.

"We hope the new governor of Jakarta will side with poor people like fishermen and stop the reclamation project," he said. He said the project would also only worsen flooding in the capital and destroy fisheries, mangrove swamps and coral reefs.

Incumbent Deputy Governor Fauzi Bowo will be the city's first directly elected governor after his installment in October.

The reclamation project involving three provinces – Cilincing in Bekasi, West Java; Penjaringan in North Jakarta, and Dadap in Tangerang, Banten – aims to modify a 32-kilometer stretch of the city's northern coastline.

The project is expected to add about 2,700 hectares to the city. The land has already been designated for industrial parks, hotels, office building and upscale accommodation for up to 1.19 million residents.

Walhi has protested the reclamation project since 2003 after the State Ministry for the Environment issued a decree rejecting it.

The ministry argued the environmental impact analysis for the project needed to be issued by the central government because the project would damage the environment in neighboring provinces.

However, companies involved in the reclamation project appealed the case to the State Administrative Court in 2004 and won. Walhi and the ministry subsequently appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

Slamet said the administration should not continue with the reclamation work as the Supreme Court had yet to issue a verdict on the project.

Governor Sutiyoso, however, said reclamation was a common practice in coastal cities worldwide, adding that he would stop the project if it were proven to be harmful to the environment.

 Health & education

Street children in need of the most help with HIV/AIDS

Jakarta Post - August 10, 2007

Desy Nurhayati, Jakarta – The government should take effective measures to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS among street children as they are among the highest at-risk groups in Indonesia, groups said Wednesday.

National Commission for the Protection of Children secretary- general Ariest Merdeka Sirait said street children are very susceptible to HIV/AIDS because many of them are involved in promiscuous sexual behavior and are injecting drug users.

"The spread of HIV/AIDS among street children should be tackled immediately, otherwise it will lead to a worse situation," he told The Jakarta Post. "The problem is that most of them lack knowledge about reproductive health and about how to protect themselves from the infection."

He said street children have been excluded from the government- sponsored program to fight HIV/AIDS cases among high-risk communities, such as sex workers and drug users.

A 2006 study, conducted by the Indonesian Save the Children Foundation in several big cities across the country, revealed that street children were in particular danger of contracting HIV. It found most of the at-risk children were involved in drug use and prostitution but few knew about the dangers of injecting drugs and unprotected sex.

Husein Habsyi, vice chairman of Pelita Ilmu Foundation – a non- governmental organization dealing with HIV/AIDS-related problems, said more than 90 percent of street children in Jakarta who were also drug users, were HIV positive.

"Of the 1,000 children, 200 of them have undergone laboratory tests. And 193 of them are positive," he told the Post, adding that the ratio remained constant over the years. He urged the government to take action.

"More must be done, not only preventive measures, but also curative. Those already infected should also be referred to health centers to get proper treatment.

"The program can be conducted in the form of youth-friendly counseling through youth centers, where they can have fun and learn how to protect themselves from infection."

Habsyi also suggested a training program for health officials so that they would be better prepared for dealing with street children.

Health Ministry data shows that as of June, there were 5,813 HIV cases and 9,689 AIDS cases in Indonesia.

Separately, director of services and social rehabilitation at the Social Services Ministry Susanti Herlambang said her office, in cooperation with United Nations Children's Fund and NGOs, is working on a project to give support to children with HIV/AIDS, particularly those from poor families.

"We also give working skills for their families and knowledge about how to treat their children," she said.

Teachers fired for reporting national exam cheating

Jakarta Post - August 9, 2007

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – Instead of being praised for uncovering cheating at a number of schools during the 2007 national exams, 13 North Sumatra teachers have been discharged and 14 others have had their teaching hours reduced.

Most of teachers said Monday they were surprised by the firings, saying the schools that employed them failed to give clear and compelling reasons for the move.

Jhon Hendra, 26, one of the fired teachers, said that before he was discharged on Aug. 6, he had his working hours be cut from 20 to only four hours per day.

Hendra, a former teacher at Pharmacy Senior High School (SMF) Yapen in Medan, said the sanctions were handed down to him after the start of the new school year.

"I have been treated unfairly by the school management. I suspect my dismissal has something to do with my reports on cheating at Pharmacy Senior High School Pharmaca during the exams," said Hendra.

The teacher, who had worked at the school for a year-and-a-half, said he was appointed to supervise the national exams at SMF Yapen. He said while doing the job he found the school was distributing a number of exam answers to students.

He said he was then summoned by representatives of the school management and told to keep his discoveries a secret.

"I could not conceal the cheating at the exams. Together with other teachers, gathered together in the Teachers' Tear Community, we revealed the cheating to the public through the media," he said.

Hendra said his disclosure of the cheating was aimed at maintaining the quality of Indonesian education.

Denni B. Saragih, coordinator of the Teachers' Tear Community, said that his organization would take legal action over the issue.

He said the first lawsuit would be aimed at Education Minister Bambang Sudibyo and representatives of the schools who had fired and reduced the teaching hours of the teachers.

Denni said the lawsuits would be filed against 30 schools, including Timbul Jaya senior high school (SMA), SMAN 17 Medan, SMPN 19 Medan, SMK TI Bina Satria, SMK Medan Putri, SMK Budi Agung, SMP Marisi Medan and SMA Amir Hamzah.

"We have signed a contract with the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PHBI) to arrange for the filing of the lawsuits. The documents will be registered with the court as soon as possible," Denni said.

Denni said that the education minister would be included in the lawsuit because unclear policy from his department lead to the teachers' dismissal.

"I'm curious as to why the minister didn't hand down any sanctions to the schools where the cheating was uncovered. The minister himself admitted during a hearing with members of the House of Representatives that 25 types of cheating were found during the exams," he said. "But not even a single school has been sanctioned," Denni said.


Islamist group blames democracy for Indonesia's woes

Jakarta Post - August 13, 2007

Jakarta – Despite a national consensus that a democratic system of government is the best solution for Indonesia, an Islamist group says democracy is one of the main reasons why the country is lagging behind others.

Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia spokesman Muhammad Ismail Yusanto said the situation had worsened since the economic crisis hit a number of Asian countries, including Indonesia, in the late 1990s.

"What has democracy brought us?" asked Ismail during a press conference at the International Caliphate Conference here Sunday. "Democracy only brings us secular policies, like what's happening nowadays," he told reporters, while referring to secularism as being against sharia.

About 100,000 Muslims gathered Sunday at the Bung Karno sports stadium in Senayan, Central Jakarta, for the conference. It was a much bigger crowd than attended the group's first conference, also in Jakarta, in 2000, which was only attended by 5,000 people.

Ismail said the establishment of an Islamic caliphate would help solve this country's problems and increase development.

Official statistics show that currently 39 million Indonesians live in poverty and 22 million people are unemployed. Millions of children also suffer from malnutrition and are unable to continue at school, Ismail added.

According to Ismail, the establishment of the caliphate would mark the application of sharia in all aspects of life and the reunification of Muslim countries all over the world.

The concept of implementing sharia in Indonesia is not new. During the constitutional debates of 1945, a clause on sharia was briefly incorporated into the constitution, but was then quickly dropped from the draft.

The clause – "dengan kewajiban menjalankan syariat Islam bagi pemeluk-pemeluknya" (with the obligation to live according to Islamic law for Muslims) – was an add-on to the first principle of Pancasila, which declares belief in "the one supreme God".

Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin, however, said the idea of caliphate (Khilafah in Arabic) concept in Indonesia would have to conform to the state ideology Pancasila. "Khilafah shouldn't undermine the inclusivism and pluralism of the nation," Din said.

He added that non-muslims did not have to be afraid of the discourse on Khilafah as it was part of the democratic process. "Khilafah is a good Islamic teaching. We shouldn't reject it," he said.

Both Ismail and Din also stated that Hizbut Tahrir was strongly against violence. They urged the international community to be fair in its treatment of Hizbut Tahrir as a Muslim group. "Hizbut Tahrir doesn't support any (form of) radicalism, especially not terrorism," Din stated.

Hizbut Tahrir was founded in Baitul Maqdis, Palestine, in 1953. It is banned in several Arab and Asian countries, but Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia has grown rapidly in recent years since its arrival here in the early 1980s. Ismail claimed that Hizbut Tahrir has about two million members in Indonesia

Hardline group rallies for world Islamic rule

Agence France Presse - August 12, 2007

Jakarta – More than 70,000 members of a hardline Muslim group held a rally in Indonesia that heard calls for a caliphate – or Islamic rule – to govern the world.

The supporters of the Hizbut Tahrir group filled up most of an 80,000-seat sports stadium in the capital Jakarta, waving flags as they heard fiery speeches saying it was "time for the caliphate to reign."

The meeting was held as part of "civic education" for Indonesian Muslims, said Muhammad Ismail Yusanto, a spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir.

The organisation advocates Islamic rule and is banned in several Middle Eastern countries.

Supporters travelled to the stadium in convoys of buses from other parts of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim- majority country. Local and foreign speakers were invited to give speeches.

But Yusanto said that two inivtees, Imran Waheed from England and Syeik Ismail Al Wahwah from Australia, had been denied entry and deported from Indonesia on Friday.

"The organising committee deplores the deportation because they came to Indonesia at the invitation of the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia to give their good advice for the progress of Islam, for the progress of this country," he said.

The hardline Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir declined to appear at the event, without giving a reason.

But Yusanto said that police had advised Bashir and another hardline cleric, Habieb Rizieq, not to attend the conference.

The senior Muslim figure Dien Syamsuddin was among the key speakers to address the crowd. He is the chairman of Indonesia's second largest Islamic movement, the Muhammadiyah.

"Islam's progress or regress depends entirely on Muslims themselves," he told the crowd.

He said that "the essence" of a caliphate was that Muslims be united and that therefore Indonesian Muslims should safeguard the unity of their country.

But popular Muslim preacher Abdullah Gymanstiar said Muslims in Indonesia were still divided over Sharia law.

"Why do some Muslims not agree with the Islamic Sharia, even though it is for the own good of Muslims?" he said, his voice quickly drowned out by loud applause.

Security did not appear tight for the conference, with police limiting their role to directing traffic.

The rally ended with a prayer and the participants left the venue peacefully, but caused massive traffic jams as they departed.

Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia regularly holds peaceful street protests in several main cities on Islam-related issues.

 Elections/political parties

Independent candidates ruling gains momentum

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2007

Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, Jakarta – The Constitutional Court's ruling to let independent candidates run in regional elections has gained momentum with prominent citizens expressing their support for the ruling.

But leaders cannot agree on whether the ruling should be immediately imposed or not.

Former speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly, Amien Rais, said he supported the independent candidate ruling because it would help re-balance large party domination.

Amien said the decision must be supported because allowing independent candidates to run in local elections would improve Indonesia's democratic system.

"Anyone who has knowledge can be trusted and is able to win the people's heart," he said. "They must be given the opportunity (to contest local elections)."

He said he expected the emergence of new leaders if the larger political parties were no longer dominant. "It (democracy) will be better if everyone's given the same opportunity," he said.

Amien also said the minimum electoral threshold for independent candidates to run in local elections should be set at 5 percent. The current minimum threshold is 15 percent for candidates endorsed by political parties.

Former speaker of the House of Representatives, Akbar Tandjung, said he agreed with Amien. "Everyone has the right to contest local elections whether the person is endorsed by a political party or not," Akbar said. He said it was a constitutional right for every citizen.

Akbar also said the Constitutional Court had made a courageous decision by annulling some points in article 32 of the 2004 law on regional administrations, which allowed independent candidates to run in local elections.

Chief patron of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Taufiq Kiemas said independent candidates be screened first before being allowed to run in local elections.

He said their loyalty to the unitary state of Indonesia should be proven and said they must support pluralism or they should be prohibited from running in the elections. "The technical prerequisites, such as the minimum electoral threshold, can come later," Taufiq said.

Political observer Tommi A. Legowo from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies said the Court's ruling was acceptable in principle. But he said political parties should still be able to produce viable leaders despite the public's want for independent candidates.

"Political parties must reform themselves through professional career development and by issuing policies that side with the interests of the public," Tomi said. "By doing so, they will get party candidates who are much better than any independent candidate."

Former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, who is also chairwoman of PDI-P, said the Constitutional Court ruling could not be implemented right away because the 2004 law needed to be amended first.

"Indonesians always want something in an instant," she said. "What do we want do with this country if (the people) keep behaving like this? "As a former president, I would like to say that we need to have a vision (for the future)."

Government told to allow independent candidates

Jakarta Post - August 15, 2007

Tony Hotland, Jakarta – Analysts have advised the government to issue a regulation in lieu of the law pending the revision of the 2004 law on regional administration to accommodate independent candidates in local elections.

A total of 14 new elections at the regency level and four at the provincial level are scheduled to take place this year.

The government has revised articles in the 2004 law rather than issue the required regulation, called a perpu, even though this avenue will see independent candidates wait even longer for approval.

The revision of the law is a consequence of the Constitutional Court's July 23 ruling allowing independent candidates in local elections as an alternative to those endorsed by political parties.

Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro) director Hadar N. Gumay said failure to include independent candidates in elections after the Court's ruling was a violation of law.

"The moment the ruling was issued, independent candidacy became legal," Hadar said. "It's unfortunate that such right is curtailed just because the government can't immediately legalize it."

Hadar said the other alternative would be to postpone local elections pending the completion of all required regulation revisions, which the government said would have been done by January next year.

The government would also need to amend the Government Regulation No. 6/2005 on the election, inauguration and dismissal of the head and deputy of local administrations.

Ray Rangkuti of the Civil Society Indonesia Network and formally the head of the Independent Committee for Election Monitoring said the government should instead issue a perpu because it was the most logical option to contain growing regional political aspirations. "Providing the legal basis months after the Court made the ruling is a violation," Ray said.

State administration expert Mahfud MD said the government's decision to revise the law was most likely due to a fear of the possible political consequences if it issued a perpu.

A perpu must be approved by the House within 60 days of its enactment to be recognized as valid. A rejection by the House would see the President draft a bill negating the perpu.

A perpu is normally issued in an emergency, including a war or disaster, although the interpretation of emergency is at the President's discretion.

"Perhaps the government doesn't see the situation as an emergency or the President feels it's more convenient to take the longer route of revising the law... and face the ensuing political consequences," Mahfud, also a National Awakening Party (PKB) lawmaker, said.

Forget parties, Fauzi did it himself: Analysts

Jakarta Post - August 14, 2007

Adisti Sukma Sawitri, Jakarta – Observers said political parties backing Fauzi Bowo and Prijanto could not demand much from the duo as they had not contributed to their victory in the Jakarta gubernatorial election last week.

Fauzi had won based on his identity and not the work of the 19- strong coalition behind him, said a political analyst with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Indra Jaya Piliang.

If there was one request the political parties wanted to make of Fauzi, it was that Jakarta not be impacted by different ideologies or dominated by certain political parties, Indra said. They wanted Fauzi to ensure a smooth 2009 presidential election.

Indra said, "...some 40 percent of voters sided with (Fauzi's) rival in the election, so it is best he works for the public (and not his) parties".

Electronic counting at the Jakarta Election Commission saw Fauzi win 57.79 percent of 3.6 million counted votes, despite the coalition winning 75 percent of the city's political threshold in the 2004 legislative election.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) saw a significant increase in support for Adang Daradjatun toward election day. The party managed to collect some 1.5 million voters in the election. In the 2004 election it earned some 1 million.

Furthermore, the PKS was the most successful party in Jakarta in the 2004 legislative election, winning 24 percent of the 4 million votes counted. The 2004 election saw a voter turnout of around 71 percent.

Indra said Fauzi could show some favor for his parties by performing well as governor, which could in turn project a favorable image of the 19-party coalition in the lead-up to the 2009 elections.

He cited as an example Sutiyoso's series of evictions in the lead-up to the 2004 elections, which saw the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, his supporting party, lose its domination of the city at that time.

Arbi Sanit of the University of Indonesia said the political platform for the gubernatorial election was "too pragmatic and made only to counter the domination of PKS in the city".

If there was anything offered by Fauzi in return for support from the parties, Arbi said it would have been an invisible cash transaction.

"It is not so easy to put all political parties with all ideologies in one pool behind a national figure... as there is greater political interest involved," Arbi said.

He said the national political framework was basically divided into two mainstreams – the nationalists and the non- nationalists, including Islamic parties.

Arbi said PKS' position in Jakarta might see it become a leader of the Islamic parties.

Independent candidate rules 'likely to be rigged'

Jakarta Post - August 14, 2007

Tony Hotland and Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta – New rules governing independent candidates in regional elections would most likely be engineered in favor of established parties, analysts and lawmakers warned Monday.

Speakers at a Monday forum organized by the Indonesian Community for Democracy in Jakarta said statements by party executives that independent candidates should, like parties, have 15 percent of the vote from the previous election behind them in order to qualify was an indication that parties were trying to secure their dominance of the political system.

Experts also said the definition of who was an independent candidate would likely be watered down, since the guidelines would be up to the House of Representatives, itself dominated by parties.

"There's no such thing as being independent in terms of political affiliation. Parties will also invest in these so-called independent hopefuls," said law expert Mahfud MD, who is also on the executive of the National Awakening Party (PKB).

He said it was almost certain independent candidates would embrace party allegiance and even join party executives after being elected. Vice President Jusuf Kalla defied his own Golkar Party in 2004 to run for office with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono under the ticket of Yudhoyono's Democratic Party. Kalla was elected Golkar chairman three months after entering office.

A member of the National Law Commission, Fajrul Falaakh, said studies in many countries had shown independent candidates were affiliated with parties one way or another. He said the Constitutional Court's July 23 ruling allowing independent candidates in regional elections lacked specifics.

"Does it include party people running by themselves or non-party people? Can they be nominated by civil servants, the police or the military? How long after their party membership is over can they claim independence? This is where the House will come in," Fajrul said.

Ichlasul Amal, a political scientist and member of the Press Council, said the fact the government needed the support of the legislature to pass the rules meant it was inevitable independent candidates would end up being affiliated with parties.

Last month's Constitutional Court ruling allowing independent candidates will require the revision of the 2004 law on Local Administration.

The deputy chairman of the House legislative committee, Bomer Pasaribu, said separately Monday that the committee planned to pass amendments to allow independent candidates to start running from January 2008.

State Secretary Hatta Radjasa said the government would meet with the House next Wednesday to discuss the revision.

Independent candidates can run in 2008: Jimly

Jakarta Post - August 13, 2007

Jakarta – Independent candidates are likely to contest regional elections in 14 provinces, regencies and municipalities next year, giving a significant boost to the democracy movement.

Among the provinces that will experience fully fledged democratic regional elections next year are North Sumatra, Yogyakarta and South Sulawesi.

Chairman of the Constitutional Court Jimly Asshiddiqie confirmed Sunday that the government would soon issue a ruling that will regulate regional elections and the participation of independent candidates. Jimly said such a commitment was made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself.

"The President told me yesterday that the (recent) ruling of the Constitutional Court on independent candidates has been made in accordance with the court's authority. The government and the House of Representatives will take the necessary action to issue a regulation on (independent candidates') participation in regional elections," Jimly said, as quoted by detik.com news portal during his visit to the new office of the Constitutional Court, which will be opened by President Yudhoyono on Monday.

The court issued a ruling on July 23 allowing independent candidates to contest local elections, annulling some points in the 2004 Regional Autonomy Law, which stipulates that only candidates endorsed by political parties can run for local elections. The ruling came too late for Jakarta, which held its first direct gubernatorial election last Wednesday.

Jimly said that the ruling on independent candidates could be implemented as soon as January 2008. "Hopefully, everything can be implemented in January 2008 in accordance with the people's expectations and the Constitutional Court's ruling," said the constitutional law professor at the University of Indonesia.

He said he considered independent candidates' participation in regional elections such an important matter that he had decided to directly discuss the ruling's implementation with the President himself.

"I consider it important to directly question him on the matter. I have received many letters from regional General Elections Commissions (KPUDs) nationwide asking for the government's implementation of the court's ruling. "It shows how serious is the matter," Jimly said.

He asked the public to remain patient in waiting for the government's regulation on the independent candidates' nomination mechanism, while praising the President and the House, which have immediately responded to the court's ruling.

Jakarta voters put policy first, survey says

Jakarta Post - August 10, 2007

Adisti Sukma Sawitri, Jakarta – Despite widespread perceptions that Wednesday's gubernatorial election was tainted by money politics and voter apathy, some observers say most Jakartans made their choices for the right reasons.

An exit poll carried out by the Institute of Research, Education and Information on Social and Economic Affairs (LP3ES) found 67 percent of 588 interviewees who voted for the winner Fauzi Bowo did so based on one or more of two main reasons: his policies and his perceived experience as a candidate.

The exit poll was sponsored by the US-based National Democratic Institute, whose Indonesia director Paul Rowland attended a joint conference with LP3ES on Thursday.

According to the groups' quick count, Fauzi led the tally with 58 percent, trouncing rival Adang Daradjatun. The exit poll also revealed 43 percent of the voters who backed Adang cited his policy platform as their main reason for supporting him.

LP3ES researcher Agung Prihatna said the fact Fauzi was backed by a coalition of 19 political was not a major factor in his victory. The exit poll found only 4 percent of Fauzi voters backed him because of the direct recommendation of parties grouped in his Jakarta Coalition.

"This proves that, in the eyes of voters, Fauzi's position as an experienced bureaucrat was seen as a better selling point than Adang's promise to 'fix' Jakarta," Agung said.

However, party recommendation was a significant factor for Adang, with 13 percent of voters surveyed in the exit poll saying they supported him because of his party backing.

Of the 1,013 voters interviewed on polling day, LP3ES found that Adang, who was backed by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), managed to gain 31 percent of his votes as leakage from coalition party supporters who were "instructed" to vote Fauzi. These "converts" accounted for 59 percent of the 425 respondents who voted for Adang.

Agung said the Indonesian Democratic of Struggle (PDI-P) and Golkar were the most solid parties when it came to delivering votes, with 56 and 60 percent of their supporters respectively voting for Fauzi.

The National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Star Reform Party (PBR) did the worst in translating their support into votes, with only 34 and 43 percent of their respondents respectively.

The survey defined respondents as supporters of certain parties based on their choice in the 2004 legislative election. Even the PKS, the most solid party of all in retaining support, saw 13 percent of its voters from the 2004 election switch their support to Fauzi.

Rowland said the exit poll results showed Jakartans were rational voters, since platforms featured so highly among the candidates' attraction. He said this would lead to stronger democracy in the city in the future.

"This is the first direct gubernatorial election and whoever is elected will have to deliver some of the voters' expectations, otherwise he will not be elected for a second term," he said.

Both institutions praised the two-thirds voter turnout as a record among the 300-odd regional elections held over the past few years. "The high turnout is very straightforward for the city's democracy... a total of 46 percent of the voters interviewed said it's both a right and an obligation of citizens to vote," Agung said.

Next governor has his work cut out for him

Jakarta Post - August 10, 2007

Adianto P. Simamora and Adisti Sukma Sawitri, Jakarta – The next governor must reconsider government policies from the point of view of ordinary people, tackling poverty, garbage and transportation problems first, urban observers say.

Bambang Susantono, the chairman of the Jakarta-based Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI), said the capital had no blueprint for improving the transportation system.

"It is important for the governor to avoid making unpopular policies during his first 100 days in office," he said Thursday. "We suggest the governor make policies that promote public transportation."

The current administration, of which Fauzi Bowo who looks certain to win the election is deputy governor, developed the Jakarta Macro Transportation Scheme incorporating a busway, monorail, subway and waterway. Both the subway and monorail projects, however, have run up against funding problems.

The administration currently operates seven busway corridors out of the planned 15 routes across the capital. But problems such as poor facilities and the unreliability of the feeder services that are supposed to complement the system have discouraged many people from regularly taking the busway.

The administration had estimated the construction of the 15 corridors would reduce the use of private cars in the capital by 30 percent, avoiding what it termed the worst case scenario: gridlock by 2014.

Ahmad Safrudin, the chairman of the Joint Committee for Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out (KPBB), said the elected governor must be consistent in policy implementation.

"The administration's inconsistency is responsible for the lukewarm response to the busway. The governor must get straight to the tasks of improving busway facilities and making the system's management more efficient," he said.

Nining I. Soesilo, the director of the University of Indonesia's Small and Middle Enterprises Study Center, said the new administration should sponsor micro-credit programs to alleviate poverty and stimulate economic growth.

"There are 18 people who work independently among every 1,000 residents. About 90 percent of the 18 people work at an SME and they are mostly poor."

She said the government's existing micro-credit scheme was in need of revision. "The micro-credit scheme has been too supply- oriented. The community thinks only about disbursing the money quickly and spending it. Empowering people is not as simple as dropping money in their laps. It must be accompanied by capacity-building in each community," she said.

Ahmad, who is also a prominent environmentalist, suggested the new governor first explore water issues as they affected low- and-middle-income families. "The administration must find ways to formulate and implement solutions to water problems and resources management, including flooding in the city."

Ahmad also urged the governor to prioritize resolving the city's longstanding waste problem in his first 100 days in office. "The policy must be aimed at educating the public to treat household garbage before disposing of it at the dump in (neighboring) Bekasi," he said.

Much of the 6,000 tons of garbage the city produces daily is currently transported to Bantar Gebang dump in Bekasi. Governor Sutiyoso has asked his successor to continue with the programs he initiated during his 10-year tenure.

"The new governor must go ahead with the programs to handle the floods, education and waste and continue with transportation projects such as the busway, monorail and subway," he said.

Sutiyoso, who ends his second term in October, also urged the elected governor to soon realize the megapolitan concept, which would integrate Jakarta and its supporting areas of Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi, Puncak and Cianjur into one area called Jabodetabekpunjur. Sutiyoso floated the megapolitan concept last year.

The House of Representatives endorsed last month the revised Jakarta Administrative Law stipulating the integrated spatial planning of Jabodetabekpunjur.

More support for independent candidates

Jakarta Post - August 9, 2007

Jakarta – Former House speaker Akbar Tandjung said independent candidates should obtain political support from at least three percent of voters before running in a local election.

"I think the legal requirements for independent candidates should be similar with the ones imposed during the local election in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam," Akbar told Antara on Wednesday.

Akbar said it was unfair to impose the same requirements on independent candidates as those imposed on candidates nominated by political parties.

The 2004 regional administration requires candidates nominated by political parties obtain at least 15 percent from provincial or regency electorates.

He said the government and the House of Representatives should revise the law to accommodate the recent decision of the Constitutional Court, which allowed independent candidates to contend local elections.

 Arts & culture

'Nyai Ontosoroh' to be staged in Jakarta

Jakarta Post - August 12, 2007

Kurniawan Hari, Jakarta – After being performed in eight cities in Java, Kalimantan and Sumatra, a play titled Nyai Ontosoroh will be staged for Jakartans at the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts center in Central Jakarta on Aug. 12-14.

Written by scriptwriter/producer Faiza Mardzoeki, Nyai Ontosoroh is an adaptation of Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind), a novel by renowned author Pramoedya Ananta Toer.

"Nyai Ontosoroh is a figure in the novel who has a strong personality. She provides inspiration. Overall, the novel has some dramatic elements that drove me to bring them to the stage," Faiza told a media conference Friday.

Bumi Manusia, Faiza said, is a very interesting novel as it provides historical information about Indonesia. It also presents the struggle of a woman against subordination in colonial times, she explained.

Considered by Soeharto as promoting leftist ideology, many of Pramoedya's works were banned. Although the restrictions still exist today, people can easily find Pramoedya's works in bookstores.

An fan of Pramoedya's works, Faiza spent almost two years on the script. After finishing it, she then offered it to theater troupes in several cities.

To her surprise, most of the theater troupes she met gave positive responses and staged the play between December 2006 and March 2007. "The show in Jakarta will be the climax," Faiza said.

For this project, Faiza has worked together with director Wawan Sofwan and co-producer Andi K. Yuwono. The main character, Nyai Ontosoroh, will be played by artist Happy Salma, who is also an admirer of Pramoedya.

Wawan said he immediately accepted the job when he was asked to direct Nyai Ontosoroh in March. "I accepted the offer as I liked the script. We had four months for rehearsal. I appreciate the good cooperation among team members. We will do our best for the audience," he said.

Meanwhile, Andi hailed the hard work of all 125 crew members, and expressed the hope that the audience would enjoy the performance.

According to Faiza, the Jakarta audience has been enthusiastic about the play. About 80 percent of the tickets for the three-day performance have been sold out.

Nyai Ontosoroh is a joint production by several non-governmental organizations, and has been sponsored by a number of private firms and foreign embassies.

 Book/film reviews

Book Review: Pretext for Mass Murder

Tapol - August 14, 2007

[John Roosa, Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement and Suharto's Coup d'Etat in Indonesia. 2007, University of Wisconsin Press, 329 pages. Reviewed by Carmel Budiardjo.]

Nearly forty-two years after an event that plunged Indonesia into a bloody inferno and led to a massacre in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed and many more were thrown into jail and held without trial for more than a decade, historians are still not agreed on who was ultimately responsible for the kidnap and murder of six army generals and a junior officer on the morning of 1st October 1965 that triggered the massacres.

However, there is no dispute about the consequences of the takeover of power by General Suharto in the wake of that event who presided over the killings that continued without interruption from late October until March the following year. Suharto went on to rule Indonesia for more than thirty-three years until he was forced to resign in May 1989 after student demonstrations swept the country. Since then, moves to bring Suharto to justice on corruption charges have been thwarted on the grounds of ill-health. Now aged 86, he may well live out the remainder of his life free from charges of crimes against humanity or politicide, the term used by the author for the annihilation of the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) which stood at the helm of a movement of many millions of people.

As the author explains at the outset: "Even in this post-Suharto era, most Indonesians do not understand the process by which he came to power. He is reviled today for his stupendous corruption and greed but not for misrepresenting the movement and organising a pogrom.... The Suharto regime constructed a distinct fantasy world, elements of which, especially those pertaining to the events of 1965, are proving remarkably persistent as seemingly eternal truths of the Indonesian nation."

Nor should it be forgotten that laws are still in force requiring state officials to clamp down on anything deemed to be in support of the (still-banned) Indonesian Communist Party. Law 27 of 1999 amending the state constitution, empowers the Attorney-General to confiscate books which are perceived as supporting the PKI or Marxism. These powers were recently exercised by the Attorney General to ban a school history book for failing to link the PKI with the G30S, the initials by which the kidnapping event in 1965 is known. Personnel from his office burned thousands of copies of the book, an action that was widely condemned by NGOs, academics and historians.

Describing his work as being in the nature of a detective novel and delving deep into a mass of evidence, some old and some new, Roosa does not lay claim to reaching a final solution to the puzzle of who was ultimately responsible for the kidnap plot. He rejects the interpretations of the Indonesianist scholars Benedict Anderson and Harold Crouch, who suggested that military officers played the dominant role, as well as the hypothesis of the late Professor W.F. Wertheim that Sjam Kamaruzaman who headed the PKI's clandestine Special Bureau and was for years a close associate of D.N. Aidit, chairman of the PKI, was an army intelligence operative working within the frame of the PKI – in other words, a double agent.

The author dissects the evidence of many people, the foremost of whom are Sudisman, the only member of the PKI's Politbureau to survive the blood-letting, who delivered his own verdict in a speech at his trial titled "Analysis of Responsibility", Iskandar Subekti who regularly attended Central Committee and Politbureau meetings as note-taker, "Hasan" a senior-ranking PKI member interviewed by the author who insisted on using a pseudonym, as well as the words of many PKI members recorded in the voluminous records of the post-1965 trials before the Mahmilub (Extra- ordinary Military Tribunal) created by Suharto early in October 1965.

But it was the discovery of a document written by Brigadier- General Supardjo which prompted the author to realise that, despite the many books already written about 1965, something new could be said about the movement.

Supardjo, a latecomer to the group which carried out the kidnaps, wrote his analysis of the failure of the movement some time in 1966 before his own arrest on 12th January 1967. The document is reproduced in full as an Appendix and is described by the author as "the primary source of the movement" which contains "information of unique reliability and frankness". It was not written under pressure from interrogators or prepared as a statement in court but was intended for the benefit of his colleagues to learn from their mistakes.

After setting out the events as they occurred on 1st October (one day late as it turns out) in a chapter called The Incoherence of the Facts, and presenting the various interpretations of the movement, the author devotes the remaining chapters to analysing the roles of Supardjo, Sjam, Aidit and Suharto, and a chapter in which the author assembles a New Narrative.

Although Supardjo was a brigadier-general, he was one of four deputies of the five soldiers involved in the movement, subordinate to Untung who was a lieutenant-colonel, a striking anomaly in any military operation. Among the many mistakes identified by Supardjo was the lack of a Plan B in the event of failure. He regarded the preparations as being amateurish and short-sighted, with no thought about what to do once the generals had been kidnapped. (They were all murdered and their bodies thrown down a deep well although the original intention had apparently been to bring the men, alive, to the President to account for their activities.) Nothing was done about logistics, especially the crucial matter of stocking up food for the troops. He apportioned much of the blame for these shortcomings to Sjam who served as the link between the movement and the chairman of the PKI, D.N. Aidit. For Supardjo, the movement largely collapsed under the weight of its own incompetence.

Sjam Kamaruzzaman was more instrumental than anyone in dragging the Party's chairman Aidit into involvement in the disastrous events of 1st October. In November 1964, he took over as the head of Biro Khusus, the Special Bureau, a clandestine body in the PKI whose task it was to build links with progressive officers in the armed forces. He took over after the death of Karto, the previous head, a man widely respected within the PKI who had advised Aidit not to appoint Sjam as his successor. But there appears to have been a long-standing bond of friendship between Aidit and Sjam.

When I was in Bukit Duri Prison in the early 1970s, I remember being told by Aidit's widow Dr Tanti Aidit that Sjam was a regular visitor to their home and a good friend. Focussing on Sjam's character, Roosa quotes others in the PKI as describing him as "bombastic, arrogant and not particularly bright".

Benedict Anderson watched Sjam giving evidence at a trial in 1967 and later said it was difficult to believe he was a high-ranking PKI member.

"Sjam spoke in a manner completely unlike other witnesses – boastful, a tad megalomaniac, but above all in a 'frozen' version of the kind of talk that was used in 1945-49. It felt like entering a kind of aural antique shop." Hasan who knew a lot about the Biro Khusus told Roosa that Sjam "never read books and barely read the party literature. He was too busy meeting people and arranging subterfuges to be bothered with theory." According to Hasan, his job was to take orders from Aidit, keep secrets and cosy up to left-wing officers. It is worth noting that the shallowness of Sjam's political beliefs was certainly not unique in the PKI at the time.

The Party had chosen to build a mass party with millions of members rather than a small cadre party of well-educated members; many people joined for the benefits membership would bring, with little if any knowledge of Marxism.

Sjam was also unprincipled and very opportunistic. After being sentenced to death, he devoted himself to saving his own skin by betraying many of his former comrades. According to Hasan, Sjam believed that if he could postpone his own execution long enough by implicating other members of the army, he might outlast the Suharto regime.

Together with four others, Njoto, Sakirman, Lukman and Sudisman, D.N. Aidit led the PKI from the early 1950s and saw it grow into a mass party with around three million members. Although it won strong support in the general election in 1955, becoming one of the four main parties, its allegiance with President Sukarno and its acceptance of Guided Democracy in 1959 meant that it could not win power through the ballot box as elections had now been dispensed with.

In the mid-1960s, rumours were circulating that army generals were planning to organise a coup d'etat against Sukarno. This was discussed by Sudisman in his Analysis of Responsibility statement. He said that Aidit had told the Politbureau that a group of progressive officers were planning to take action against a Council of Generals, an action which he always said was "internal to the military".

Confronted by such a dangerous situation, according to Hasan, the PKI had to take a position and resist the coup against Sukarno, a task which Aidit assigned to the Biro Khusus. Moreover, reports were circulating that Sukarno might soon die following a kidney operation. (He lived for another six years.) Again according to Hasan, as conditions became even more critical, it was decided that the Biro Khusus would not wait for the coup to happen but would act pre-emptively. Living in Jakarta in those days, I recall the atmosphere of tension and expectancy, with information being fed to persons like myself, through links with the Party, of a momentous political development that was about to happen. Basically we were told to "to do nothing and listen to the radio".

Sudisman said that Aidit alone was in touch with the officers and he alone would determine what action PKI personnel would take in support of the officers. Even a person as senior in the Party as Sudisman was apparently in the dark about what was going to happen. Party members were instructed to "listen to the radio and support the Revolutionary Council".

Explaining later why he felt responsible for what had happened, Sudisman said that as a party leader, he had allowed Aidit far too much leeway to act on his own.

One can only admire Sudisman for the dignified way in which he criticised himself and others before a court which he knew was about to sentence him to death and which he regarded as unlawful. He must have seen this as his only chance to use a public platform to get his message across to the nation as a whole. It was an attempt to shield the mass of party members from the retribution that was being visited upon them. By that time, however, hundreds of thousands had already been killed.

By 1965, Aidit enjoyed enormous prestige and power within the PKI; many members of its leading councils were only too willing to defer to him and saw him as being intellectually head and shoulders above everyone else.

As the linchpin between the Special Bureau and the above-ground party leadership, Aidit was in a uniquely powerful position. As Roosa explains, "Whatever the precise reasons for Aidit's dominance, the surviving PKI leaders identified it as the cause of the party's downfall."

Whose responsibility?

Aidit was also deeply impressed by a successful military coup that occurred in Algeria in June 1965. This took place while Aidit was on an overseas trip with Sukarno. They were to have visited Algeria but the visit was cancelled because of the coup. A friend of mine who accompanied Aidit on this trip as his interpreter visited me after returning home and told me that Aidit saw the Algerian coup as a possible precedent for Indonesia, a coup by the military that would create a better environment for the PKI in its progress towards a greater grip on power. Roosa makes the same connection with events in Algeria.

Roosa disputes the Suharto regime's version which accused the PKI as being the mastermind of the 1965 movement. "The party as an institution was not responsible. Only two individuals in the party, Aidit and Sjam, were responsible for organising it," writes Roosa.

In November, six weeks after the murder of the generals, Aidit was captured while hiding in Central Java and was summarily executed by Colonel Yasir Hadibroto, commander of the fourth infantry brigade of Kostrad. It was Suharto, commander of Kostrad, who instructed Yasir to kill Aidit. This was not only a crime; it also meant that Aidit would never face justice or give his own account of the 1965 events. [For one of several accounts by Colonel Yasir in which he brags about his role in Aidit's capture and murder, see Kompas Minggu, 5th October 1980.]

United States complicity

While allegations of the CIA's involvement in the events of 1st October 1965 have never been substantiated, there is no doubt that Washington had for many years been watching political developments in Indonesia with increasing alarm. The US ambassador to Indonesia, Howard Jones, showed incredible prescience when he said, on 10th March 1965: "From our point of view, of course, an unsuccessful coup attempts by the PKI might be the most effective development to start a reversal of political trends in Indonesia."

With this comment as the benchmark for his chapter on Suharto, the Indonesian Army and the United States, Roosa gives a comprehensive account of Washington's dealings with Indonesia from the mid 1950s until 1965.

As declassified US government documents reveal, the generals realised that an old-fashioned coup d'etat against Sukarno was out of the question as he was far too popular. They needed a pretext, namely an unsuccessful coup attempt that could be blamed on the PKI.

During the 1950s, the US had supported several regional rebellions in Indonesia led by local army commanders, which could have resulted in the dismemberment of the country. However, US policy was reassessed in 1959 following an analysis by the National Security Council which saw the national army, then under General Nasution, as "the principle obstacle to the continued growth of Communist strength."

In 1958, the US commenced a military assistance programme which, by 1965, had brought two thousand eight hundred army officers for training in Fort Bragg or Fort Leavenworth. In 1964, Secretary of State Dean Rusk said that although the military assistance to Indonesia was of little significance in military terms, it was "permitting us to maintain some contact with key elements in Indonesia which are interested in and capable of resisting Communist takeover".

US assistance was also directed towards civic action programmes which involved the military in economic and social welfare projects such as education, training and public works. Generally speaking, civic action programmes were supported in other countries as a counter to guerrilla movements, but in Indonesia, their purpose was to counteract the PKI's growing influence in the countryside. This helped improve the standing of the military forces with the population as well as promoting the army's dwifungsi or dual function.

During the course of 1965, there were mounting protests in Indonesia against the US embassy and local US offices. In January, after Malaysia was given a seat on the UN Security Council, Sukarno who had launched a policy of confrontation with Malaysia, announced Indonesia's withdrawal from the UN. This "emboldened the PKI to call for thousands, if not millions, of people to be armed into a so-called fifth force alongside the military" which made the top generals realise that confrontation was spinning out of control.

A group of army generals under the army chief, General Yani began to hold meetings to discuss the deteriorating situation. To Sukarno this was reported as the creation of a Council of Generals and one man in the group, General Parman was known to have reported that the army was developing plans for a takeover the moment Sukarno stepped off the stage, while some at the top were pushing for a coup before the president's death, if the PKI succeeded in forming an armed militia. But the US ambassador, Howard Jones advised that a coup that was seen as a move against Sukarno would not succeed as he was so beloved by the people and also enjoyed the support of some senior officers. The advice was further refined to stress that any such action would have to appear to be an effort to save Sukarno instead of being his gravedigger. But such an action needed a pretext.

As Roosa writes: "The movement (by which he means the 30th September 1965 movement), elevated to the status of the nation's greatest betrayal, a manifestation of absolute evil, was a convenient pretext for him [Suharto] to begin the army's long- considered strategy for destroying the Communist Party, displacing President Sukarno, and founding an army dictatorship."

As mass killings spread across the country, US officials made no secret of their delight at this turn of events. In a memo written in November 1965, the US ambassador, Marshall Green observed that "even the small fry in the PKI were being systematically arrested, jailed on executed". Green went on to note that the embassy had "made clear" to a contact in the army "that Embassy and USG (the US Government) generally sympathetic and admiring of what army doing". Although there was a lingering fear that the army might make a compromise with Sukarno and allow the PKI to retain some vestiges of its former power, Green assured Washington that the army was "working hard at destroying PKI and I for one have increasing respect for its determination and organisation in carrying out this crucial assignment."

Thanks to the delivery to Kostrad earlier in 1965 of state-of-the-art mobile radios, "The United States thus had a blow-by-blow account of the army's assault on the PKI, overhearing for instance commands from Suharto's intelligence unit to kill particular persons in given locations". A member of the embassy staff, Robert Martens wrote in a letter to The Washington Post that he had handed over the names of "a few thousand" members whom he termed "leaders and senior cadre".

This book by John Roosa provides the most detailed and best- researched account of the events of 1965 ever written. He draws certain clear conclusions on many aspects of the events and the complicity of certain individuals, while making no secret of the fact that certain aspects of what happened still remain a mystery. Anyone wishing to understand these events that still cast a cloud over Indonesia and are barely understood by the vast majority of Indonesia would benefit hugely from reading this first-rate book.

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