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New security regulation gives TNI greater role in regional politics

Kompas - February 13, 2013

Jakarta Ė Presidential Instruction Number 2/2013 on The Handling of Domestic Security Disturbances is easily subject to misuse by regional heads for their own political interests. This is because regional governments themselves are often the cause of horizontal conflicts.

This view was conveyed by Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace researcher Abdul Khoir in Jakarta on Tuesday February 12. Khoir said that protected behind the predicate that a region is experiencing a domestic disturbance, regional heads can mobilise the national police and the TNI (Indonesian military).

During the election of regional heads for example, candidates who are currently in power or incumbents could use the presidential instruction (inpres) as legal justification to mobilise the police and military for their political interests.

In addition to this, said Khoir, regional governments are often the cause and contribute to social conflicts. "Like the Indonesian Christian Church case [in Bogor] for example, the regional head has openly refused to follow a Supreme Court decision [allowing the congregation to build a church]", he said.

Setara Institute chairperson Hendardi said that the inpres gives the TNI a much greater role in handling regional conflicts. This is of concern because there are many rogue military officers who are part of conflicts, such as when they are employed as security personnel at plantations and mine sites. "Before it wasn't official, with this inpres it becomes legitimate", said Hendardi.

Both Hendardi and Setara Institute deputy chairperson Bonar Tigor Naipospos doubt the effectiveness of the inpres. The reason being, according to Hendardi, because it fails to address the substance of conflicts, namely the problem of legal process and the government's failure to support religious freedom and traditional land rights.

The Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs, Djoko Suyanto, has stated that there are no grounds for it to be said that the inpres provides an opportunity for the TNI to enter the domain of civil life, or provide the TNI with unlimited powers, let alone have the potential to cause massive human rights violations.

The inpres was issued in order to safeguard the creation of favourable social, legal and security conditions domestically in order to support the continuity of national development.

[Keamanan: Inpres No 2/2013 Rentan Disalahgunakan - Kompas. Rabu, 13 Februari 2013.Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service.]

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