Posts made in November, 2014

The Tanjung Priok Massacre

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Government policies aimed at marginalizing political Islam brought a strong reaction from fundamentalist Muslims during the late-1970s and early-1980s. Home Affairs Minister General Amirmachmud submitted a new election bill in October 1979 prohibiting parties from using any emblem that might generate conflict. The draft law was intended to prevent the United Development Party (PPP) from using the Ka’abah (the cubical black stone edifice at al-Haram Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, considered the holiest place in Islam) as the party’s symbol. The government earlier refused to allow the PPP to use Islam in its title; now it tried to prevent the party from displaying Islamic symbols. Transparent government efforts to link the Islamic party to the March 1981 Woyla hijacking further antagonized the Islamic community. After months of bitter debate, Parliament passed the election law in February 1980; PPP members boycotted the vote. Only at the last minute before the May 1982 general elections did the Home Affairs Minister (after consulting Soeharto) permit the PPP to use the Ka’abah symbol.[1] Following another huge Golkar victory, President Soeharto generated a fresh furor in August 1982 by declaring that “all social-political forces, particularly the political parties, should accept the state ideology as their “sole foundation” (azas tunggal).”[2] By putting the state ideology above Allah, the government bill was seen to affront Islam. While the Petrus death squads were not specifically aimed at Muslims, the seemingly indiscriminate nature of the attacks generated anxiety within the Islamic community and compelled fundamentalist groups to further militarize themselves. The North Jakarta Tanjung Priok district was one of the capital’s poorest neighborhoods, a rough and tumble area known for gambling, drugs and gangs, in addition to its residents’ Islamic fervor. The community atmosphere had been increasingly volatile for more than a year as local Muslim clerics denounced government actions to replace Islam with Pancasila, their invective often targeting the Chinese, Javanese and Christians. The situation was exacerbated after Transportation Minister Air Marshal Rusmin Nurjadin, the former Air Force Chief, forced consolidation of stevedore services at the Tanjung Priok port, favoring a few mostly Chinese-owned companies. The consolidation pushed smaller firms into bankruptcy and increased unemployment among the port workers.[3] On September 7, 1984 the community noncommissioned officer (babinsa) Sergeant Hermanu, a Christian, asked leaders at the As-Sa’adah prayer house to remove posters protesting the government’s azas tunggal policy. When he returned the next day and found the posters still in place, the sergeant took matters into his own hands. He wet a newspaper in the gutter and smeared the foul black water on the posters. Rumors spread like wildfire the Christian sergeant had defiled the musholla with sewer water and had entered the prayer house while wearing his boots and carrying a weapon. By the time Hermanu returned to the prayer house on September 10 to discuss the matter with community leaders, the situation had escalated to the crisis point. Someone set fire to Hermanu’s motorcycle while he met with the elders. A scuffle ensued; army troops arrested four persons, including two leaders from the prayer house.[4] From a platform in front of the local Rawa Badak...

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The Petrus Murder Squads

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Indonesian Army and its precursor, the Dutch Colonial Army, had a long history of cooperation with shadowy criminal underworld gangs. The New Order regime, its intelligence organizations, the Army, political parties, and business owners all patronized petty criminals who functioned as their informants, protectors and enforcers, when needed. Soeharto’s master political strategist, Ali Moertopo, and his autonomous Opsus intelligence unit maintained an extensive network of informers and thugs. Moertopo’s bully boys provoked the January 1974 Malari riots to discredit rival Kopkamtib Commander Soemitro and engaged in arm twisting tactics to ensure Golkar victories in the 1971, 1977 and 1982 general elections. They intimidated opposition parties and frightened the public with threats of anarchy – a repeat of the 1965-1966 terror – if voters failed to fall in line behind Golkar. Indonesia suffered an economic downturn during the early-1980s, to a large extent reflecting the global recession and low oil prices. Its domestic manifestations included uncontrolled migration into the cities, growth of squatter settlements, high unemployment, labor unrest, anti-Chinese violence and rising crime rates. Following cuts to fuel and food subsidies, and a 27.6 percent devaluation of the rupiah in 1982, petty crime proliferated. Thieves brazenly plundered gold shops and robbed bank customers. The crime wave attracted adverse media and public attention. Government officials attributed the sharp increase in crime to the gali–gali (gabungan anak-anak liar, literally “gangs of wild or savage children”), tattooed gang members led by traditional jago strongmen, and more broadly anyone involved in organized crime. Since the early-1960s, Jakarta had been populated by an abundance of colorfully-named ethnic and community-based youth gangs – the Bearland Boys, the Siliwangi Boys Club, the Radio Dalam Club, the Nudge Rocker Boys, the Ams (Ambonese), the Pamors (Padang-Manado Organization), and Sartana (a predominantly Manadonese gang based in the Sarinah-Tanah Abang business district). The children of officers and soldiers often led or belonged to those groups. The gali gangs had enthusiastically joined in the 1966-1967 anti-Sukarno protests with the Kami and Kappi action fronts. The government had difficulty demobilizing the delinquents after establishing the New Order, even though Kopkamtib, Bakin and the regional commands organized vocational training and youth clubs to set gang members back on the right track.[1] Many gang members refused to be rehabilitated, preferring life as professional thugs and hardened criminals. By the early-1980s, the gali gangs had branched out into quasi-legitimate “security services” as body guards, hired security men and debt collectors. Some entered into partnerships with military and police officials, who provided an umbrella of protection in exchange for a share of the loot from their robbery, burglary and extortion activities. Government officials worried the loosely-structured gangs were evolving into organized mafia groups similar to the Japanese Yakuza.[2] In conjunction with the government crackdown on Komando Jihad and other militant Muslim groups, Kopkamtib Chief of Staff Admiral Sudomo had launched Operation Tertib (Order) in mid-1977 targeting petty corruption, primarily against low-level thievery and illegal transportation levies. The campaign was mostly for appearances and did nothing to stem systemic corruption at higher government levels. Perfunctory efforts to crack down on petty crime continued throughout the late-1970s....

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