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Army tries to portray Kopassus killers as heroes, defenders of the people

Kompas.com - April 9, 2013

Yogyakarta Ė The murder of four prisoners at the Cebongan prison in Sleman, Yogyakarta, could potentially be used for political image building. This can be seen from widespread efforts to garner public support and divert the issue away from one of human rights violations to the eradication of thuggery.

Yogyakarta Gadjah Mada University (UGM) political studies lecturer AAGN Ari Dwipayana said for example that one of the parties that is benefiting politically from the case is the army (TNI AD), particularly TNI AD Chief of Staff General Pramono Edhie Wibowo.

"Previously there were statements from the TNI AD investigation team in which the TNI was cited as one of the parties that was to blame in the case. But, after the investigation team announced its findings, the TNI's position was shifted to one of an institution that should be praised, even portraying Kopassus as heroes", he said on Monday April 8.

According to Dwipayana, this image building was very apparent when the head of the TNI AD's investigation team, Brigadier General Unggul K. Yudhoyono announced the results of the investigation. "Efforts at image building can be seen from the emphasis placed on the sentences conveyed by the head of the investigation team and the stress placed on certain words, such as knights of the people, esprit de corps, a spontaneous act, and so forth", he said.

Attempts to improve the TNI's images, particularly Kopassus, were even more obvious following the investigation team's announcement. This could be seen from postings supporting Kopassus and the eradication of thuggery through the social media, SMS messages, banners and street actions.

On Monday evening in Yogyakarta, a group of people calling themselves the Yogya Anti-Thuggery Youth held an action at the zero kilometer point in front of the central post office where held a "Mubeng [Beteng] Yogya [a traditional Javanese festival] anti-thuggery paste-up action".

The day before they also held a protest action at the Tugu Monument in which they passed around charity collection boxes to drivers and passersby with "A billion coins for First Sergeants Heru Santoso and Sriyono" written on them. They also brought banners criticising the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission III on legal affairs and praising Kopassus.

UGM sociologist Arie Sudjito added that such provocations and distractions will indeed heat up Yogyakarta's social atmosphere and because of this leading social figures and regional leaders must move immediately to maintain a sense of clam and understanding among people.

Joint team

In Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara meanwhile, Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana said that there is no need to form a new team or joint fact finding team to look into the legal process surrounding the Cebongan case. The TNI's investigation team has already done its work and proven itself able to uncover the perpetrators.

Indrayana expressed his full support for the legal process and said he expected it to proceed smoothly, fairly and accountably. Various social groups have been asked to continue monitoring the legal process. (ABK/ANS)

[Cebongan Berpotensi untuk Pencitraan - Kompas.com. Selasa, 9 April 2013. Translated by James Balowski.]

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