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Military commander's remarks condemned as return to New Order style repression

Gatra.com - February 3, 2012

Jakarta Ė The Civil Society Coalition for Workers' Rights (KMSHB) has condemned Jakarta Military Commander Major General TNI Waris for being arrogant, anti-democratic and provocative.

"We condemn the Jakarta military commander's remarks threatening to repress workers", said Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) activist Kusbiantoro during a KMSHB press conference at the Kontras office in Jakarta on Friday February 3.

According to Kusbiantoro, the remarks are concrete evidence that Waris clearly wants to again involve the military in quelling protest actions.

"This is a step back by the TNI [Indonesian military], bearing in mind the reform of the TNI is one of the pillars from the elements of reformasi [political reform] that remains homework [for the government]", he said.

Kusbiantoro added that the statement represents a warning and a threat against democracy and opens the way for the TNI's re-involvement in politics as was the case during the New Order regime of former President Suharto.

"This opens the way to and is a return to the past, and cases such as [labour activist] Marsinah who had to die at the hands of the military will occur [again]", he said.

Kusbiantoro said that KMSHB firmly and strongly rejects such a move on the part of the TNI. Aside from violating the law on the TNI it will also overlap with the police's function as mandated by the law on the national police, who are tasked with safeguarding domestic security and order.

As reported, Waris has threatened to repress labour actions. He was reported in the mass media as saying that he would drive back and put his life on the line if demonstrators carry out looting or blockade toll roads.

"[And] it was not just a verbal threat, the Jakarta military commander and the Greater Jakarta regional police have made a show of force by putting TNI and police personnel on alert in anticipation for a worker action in Tangerang", he explained.

KMSHB is made up of the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), Migrant Care, the Indonesian Center for Democracy and Human Rights (Demos), Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial), the Institute for Public Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), the ICHS, the Solon National Consortium for Legal Reform (KRHN Solon) , the Semarang Women's Legal Aid Foundation/Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK Semarang), the Bogor Sedane Labour Resource Centre (LIPS Bogor), Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), the Working People's Association (PRP), the Yogyakarta Institute for Development and Economic Analysis (IDEA Yogyakarta), the Children's Rights Monitoring Foundation (YPHA), the Women's Alternative Education Circle (KAPAL Perempuan), the Ma'arif Institute for Culture and Humanity, the Indonesian Bishops' Conference's Commission for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs (Komisi HAK KWI), the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), the People's Coalition for Water Rights (KRUHA), the Center for Welfare Studies (Perkumpulan Prakarsa), Transparency International Indonesia (TII), the Indonesian Green Institute (IHI), the Wahid Institute, the People's Democratic Community (KBRD), the Resource Management and Development Institute for Social Transformation (Praxis), Free Women (Perempuan Mahardika), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), the Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras). [IS]

[Koalisi Masyarakat Sipil Kecam Ucapan Pangdam Jaya - Gatra.com. Friday, 03 February 2012. Translated by James Balowski.]

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