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JP Editorial: Conflict and Distrust  Tapol
 Apr 19, 2012 09:19 PDT 

From Joyo


The Jakarta Post
Thursday, April 19, 2012

Editorial: Conflict and Distrust

A few years after communal conflicts subsided in Maluku, Central
Sulawesi and Central and West Kalimantan, activists pushed for a law
to prevent and overcome social conflict. One goal was to regulate all
security forces in the event of widespread violent conflict — and
ensure they remained engaged in keeping the peace, rather than
undermining security — as many incidents suggested.

But in the weeks ahead of the law’s passing last Wednesday (April 11),
activists claimed its deliberation increasingly ceased to involve the
public. The final draft led to protests, mainly over what was
considered to be a large space for the authorities to determine the
definition of a social conflict, the timing of when the troops would
be brought in, and the parties to be targeted for arrest.

It is this blank check that makes people nervous, mainly regarding the
prospect of having soldiers and police trampling everywhere, as in the
old days.

A number of NGOs said they would request a judicial review of the
Social Conflict Law. Their protests were earlier drowned by the other
new law, which all aspirants for 2014 were waiting for — the law on
general elections.

As a small survey by the leading daily Kompas shows, public trust
remains low in the security forces, mainly the Indonesian military
(TNI). An overhaul of the military’s “dual function” doctrine in 1999
meant they were no longer in charge of internal security, which was to
be the job of the police — but then it was evident that few were
willing to let go of the TNI’s pervasive role in society for over
three decades.

Regulation of all security forces in massive conflicts is needed,
experienced peacemakers say — but they said the law amounted to a
blank check that heightened the sense of insecurity.

The survey published on Monday also showed that while over 65 percent
of 659 respondents were worried that the TNI’s involvement in
overcoming conflicts would trigger human rights violations, 63 percent
also said they were dissatisfied with government efforts to maintain
harmony. Slow law enforcement against perpetrators of violence was a
trigger for conflict, according to almost 83 percent of respondents.

Though only covering barely 700 respondents in 10 cities, the survey
highlights the question on the causes of communal violence and the
authorities’ capacity in defining a social conflict. Another question
is the credibility of the security forces, which cannot be perceived,
for instance, as the bodyguards of large — and in some cases
multinational — companies.

This was thus a bill that needed a slow and steady process. Peace
workers knew that while a law on social conflict prevention and
management was ideal, its main instrument to keep the peace — the
security forces — were themselves still the subject of start and stop
reforms. As evidence, today the TNI retains its omnipresence through
military commands across the country.

Therefore, the fear that such a law would be an incentive for the
troops to emerge from their barracks is naďve. As military observers
have said, the fact that the TNI has never had any barracks to return
to is part of the nation’s unresolved issue of what we want to do with
our troops: They are mandated to use force against the enemy — yet
their most familiar target practices are the nation’s civilians, their
compatriots.

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