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Activists in Jakarta rally against revival of TNI's socio-political role

CNN Indonesia - February 28, 2019

Jakarta – Activists from the Solidarity Network for the Families of Victims (JSKK) held their 576th Kamisan (Thursday) action in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday February 28.

At today's action, they took up the discourse about the restructuring and reorganisation of the TNI (Indonesian military) which would involve placing active military officers in ministries and government institutions. The protesters said that this discourse conflicts with efforts to reform the TNI.

"The violence which resulted in human rights violations was a consequence of the reinforcing of military politics in the New [Order] era [of former president Suharto] and the basis of reinforcing these politics in the New [Order] era was dwi-fungsi [the dual socio-political role of the military] itself", said Amnesty International Indonesia Director Al Araf on Thursday February 28.

Araf also said that the action today is extremely relevant because they do not want a return to the dark days of the past. He added that the activists at Kamisan have already pursued a number of efforts to cancel the policy of dwi-fungsi.

This includes sending a letter to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, attempting to meet with the House of Representatives' (DPR) Commission I and giving space to the government as well as other steps to convey their wishes.

"On this day, every Kamisan we have sent letters to the president in the names of Suciwati [the widow of assassinated rights defender Munir] and Sumarsih [the mother of a victim of the 1998 Semanggi student shootings], we have tried to find opportunities to lobby the DPR's Commission I and also give space to the government as well as other measures to convey our wishes", said Araf.

Around 450 people took part in the action rejecting a return to the military holding civilian posts. Even though the action was orderly, the protest created traffic congestion in and around the State Palace.

The Kamisan actions are peaceful protests which have been held every week since January 18, 2007 by the victims and the families of victims of human rights violations in Indonesia. The Kamisan held today was the 576th.

The protests are still faithfully wearing all black clothing, carrying black umbrellas and standing in front of the State Palace holding up banners demanding that the government resolve cases of human rights violations and rejecting TNI officers holding civilian posts.

The discourse about the military holding civilian posts began when TNI chief Air Martial Hadi Tjahjanto announced a policy to place high- and middle-ranking and TNI officers in ministries and government institutions.

He said that the policy was intended as a solution to the problem of many officers not having posts within the TNI structure.

Tjahjanto proposed revising Article 47 of Law Number 34/2004 on the TNI to allow for the TNI to hold posts in the bureaucracy in order to absorb officers without jobs.

The discourse has continued to make the rounds and has attracted considerable criticism. May of the critics of the plan say that it will be the same as reviving ABRI's [the Indonesian Armed Forces, now TNI] dual socio-political role which had its heyday during the New Order era of former president Suharto.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aksi Kamisan Protes Unsur TNI Isi Jabatan Sipil".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20190228203310-20-373604/aksi-kamisan-protes-unsur-tni-isi-jabatan-sipil