Posts made in December, 2014

Marsinah and Recurring Human Rights Problems

Posted by on Dec 14, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Marsinah and Recurring Human Rights Problems

The government had established the All-Indonesia Workers’ Association (SPSI) in 1985 subordinate to the Manpower Ministry and prohibited outside labor organizations. Under SPSI regulations, the Soeharto regime liberally employed army muscle to prevent strikes and enforce strict measures against labor unrest. By creating organizations like SPSI and the Indonesian Peasants Harmony Association (HKTI), a farmers’ group, the government sought to impose institutional controls over society and promote Soeharto’s goal for a Pancasila society, in which social harmony would allow development efforts to prosper. Golkar dominated both organizations. Former Kopkamtib Commander Admiral Sudomo was Manpower Minister from 1978 to 1983 with former Bakin Chief Lieutenant General Sutopo Juwono Prodjohandoko as his secretary general. The two intelligence men aggressively suppressed labor unrest.[1] Under their successors, Cosmas Batubara and Abdul Latief, the government and the security forces continued to deal harshly with efforts to organize workers. A particularly egregious incident took place in May 1993, when a twenty-five year old female labor activist, Marsinah, was brutally tortured, raped and murdered in conjunction with a strike at a Chinese-Indonesian-owned watch factory in Porong, East Java, near Sidoarjo. During the weeks before her murder, Marsinah had organized and led protests against her employer, PT Catur Putra Surya, demanding a pay increase for the workers. She disappeared after being interrogated at the factory security office. Her mutilated body was discovered four days later near a hut in Nganjuk, nearly 200 kilometers from the factory. An autopsy conducted at a Surabaya hospital indicated Marsinah’s death had resulted from injuries sustained during torture. Despite evidence incriminating local police and army personnel, along with factory management, military leaders steadfastly denied any involvement and refused to conduct an investigation. The police effectively swept the case under the carpet, closing the criminal investigation after three months without charging anyone. Marsinah’s murder became a cause célèbre for the media and human rights groups. It received widespread coverage at home and abroad, resulting in calls for Indonesia to improve labor conditions and workers rights. Persistent protests forced the government to reopen the case. Authorities later arrested, charged and convicted nine persons, mostly factory staff, based on confessions extracted under torture. Those convicted were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven months to seventeen years. Two years after Marsinah’s death, in May 1995, the High Court threw out the convictions based on testimony from National Human Right Commission (Komisi Nasional-Hak Asasi Manusia, Komnas-HAM) members. Responding to international pressure, Soeharto had chartered Komnas-HAM in late-1993, modeled on the National Commission of Inquiry (KPN) for the November 1991 Santa Cruz incident. Komnas-HAM was the first internal human rights accountability organization in the Republic’s history but its powers were limited to investigation and advocacy. Under former Attorney General Lieutenant General Ali Said, the human rights body established links to the United Nations and international human rights organizations, and provided a measure of protection for domestic watchdog organizations, like the Legal Aid Institute (Lembaga Bantuan Hukum, LBH),[2] looking into abuses by the security forces – the same groups military leaders had labeled as neo-communist organizations. Confronted with hard facts about abuses and brutality, military leaders grudgingly accepted...

Read More

The Santa Cruz Massacre

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

By the late-1980s, the Timorese Falintil insurgents had become more a nuisance than a threat. Armed Forces Commander Benny Moerdani declared East Timor pacified during 1987 with less than 500 remaining guerillas.[1] In January 1989, at East Timor Governor Mario Viegas Carrascalao’s request the government opened the province to Indonesian travelers, the media and selected foreigners. Soeharto was sensitive to outside criticism. A bipartisan group in the United States Congress had criticized military excesses in East Timor while, in September 1988, the European Parliament called on Indonesia to withdraw troops from the territory and to hold a referendum to determine the former Portuguese colony’s future. Defense Minister Benny Moerdani, Armed Forces Commander Try Sutrisno and fellow military leaders opposed opening East Timor, but Foreign Minister Ali Alatas convinced Soeharto it was important to demonstrate the territory’s integration to the international community. East Timor’s opening coincided with Jakarta’s new openness (keterbukaan) policy. As part of a public relations effort, it was dubbed Operation Senyum (Smile). Political prisoners were released and use of torture reduced. Restriction on Timorese travel within the province was also relaxed. Brigadier General Dading Kalbuadi had commanded the East Timor Joint Operations Command (Komando Tugas Gabungan, Kogasgab) from 1975 to 1978, while another hard-liner, the Batak Protestant Colonel Adolf Sahala Rajagukguk, was the first East Timor Resort (Korem 164/Wira Dharma) Commander. Throughout the 1980s, the Indonesian Armed Forces maintained a dual command structure, separating combat and territorial functions. Korem 164 was under an army colonel, while a brigadier general commanded the Security Operations Command (Komando Operasi Keamanan, Koopskam), changed in May 1990 to the Operations Implementation Command (Komando Pelaksana Operasi, Kolakops). Kolakops divided East Timor into three sectors – A (West), B (East) and C (Dili) – each commanded by a colonel. The Kopassus Satgas Intel Joint Intelligence Unit with its subordinate Nanggala teams, commanded by a red beret lieutenant colonel, was also subordinate to Kolakops. East Timor was Indonesia’s smallest province. Yet, it was divided into thirteen military districts (kodim) and sixty-one subdistrict commands (koramil), while village noncommissioned officers (babinsa) were placed in 464 hamlets – a far greater density than in any other region. Korem 164 was the Army’s only resort command that controlled two territorial battalions – Battalion 744 in Dili and Battalion 745 in Los Palos. The Resort supported the Kolakops. Timorese territorial troops were employed in counterinsurgency missions although the Korem 164 Commander in Dili was often kept in the dark regarding operations and the excesses that accompanied them. Non-organic Kolakops troops rotated through East Timor every nine to twelve months, while officers in territorial posts typically remained several years, often longer, allowing them to develop local business interests. Popular Manadonese Protestant Colonel Rudolf Samuel Warouw was assigned as the Korem 164 Commander in April 1989, just a few months after the opening. He was promoted to Kolakops Commander a year later. Colonel I Ketut Wardhana was the new Korem 164 Commander, replaced by Colonel J.P. Sepang in May 1991. Colonel Binsar Aruan was Dili Sector C Commander. Lieutenant Colonel Wahyu Hidayat was Dili District (kodim) Commander. Colonel Gatot Purwanto (a former Korem 164...

Read More

The Lampung Massacre

Posted by on Dec 2, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Lampung Massacre

Lampung Province in South Sumatra had been an important base for Muslim militants since the 1970s when Darul Islam planned to use the area to launch a renewed uprising for an Islamic State. As a conservative Muslim area just across the Sunda Strait, it provided a convenient safe haven when things got too hot on Java. Musa Warman of Komando Jihad had started his Darul Islam career in Lampung. By the mid-1980s, Darul Islam-associated radicals set out to establish an “Islamic village” in Lampung. A self-styled militant Javanese preacher and Darul Islam disciple named Anwar Warsidi set up his Lampung pesantren and a paramilitary training camp in Cihideung village, Talangsari, a remote site in the swampy eastern part of the province about 150 kilometers from Bandar Lampung. The land had been donated for religious use by Abdullah Sungkar, head of the radical Pondok Ngruki pesantren near Surakarta, Central Java. Sungkar and partner Abu Bakar Ba’asyir later founded the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organization. Both men sought sanctuary at Warsidi’s Islamic village before fleeing to Malaysia during 1985.[1] Akin to nineteenth-century messianic peasant rebellions, Warsidi named his militant Islamic sect the Mujahidin Fisabili’llah (Allah’s Holy Warriors) and declared jihad against the government. Hundreds attended his firebrand sermons. His community attracted Javanese migrants, mostly young men from the various Darul Islam splinter groups and Sungkar’s Pondok Ngruki followers, many lacking official travel permits. Warsidi’s male followers wore white and black robes and practiced martial arts and archery, while women in the community donned the jilbab Islamic head covering. Local officials became suspicious of the Cihideung pesantren’s hard-line teachings, its rejection of government authority and refusal to fly the Indonesian flag. They summoned Warsidi for questioning in January 1989. When he ignored the summons, the local army subdistrict command detained nine of his followers. The situation was complicated by a land dispute. The region had been used as a government transmigration site for Javanese and Balinese farmers since the early-1970s. The migrant families moving into the area fueled anti-immigrant sentiments and growing tensions with the indigenous population. Less than three months earlier, Cihideung villagers had refused a local government order to relocate to accommodate a new transmigration project. At the time, officials had threatened to burn the village.[2] Warsidi and his men expected an assault, arming themselves with bows and arrows and sharp weapons. Local Way Jepara Army Subdistrict Commander Captain Soetiman went to see Warsidi on February 6, accompanied by chief of staff from the Lampung District Command Major Sinaga and an escort of soldiers and police officers, allegedly to seek musyawarah (consensus). Warsidi and his men attacked with bows and arrows, machetes and swords, killing the captain. Major Sinaga and the others withdrew, leaving the captain’s body with the attackers. The next day, Lampung Garuda Hitam (Black Eagle) Army Resort Commander Colonel Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, an ambitious Kopassus officer, dispatched a company of heavily armed troops from the Bandar Lampung-based Sriwijaya Battalion 143 to recover the captain’s body, and to arrest Warsidi and his followers. When the villagers resisted, the soldiers attacked in force. During a two-day operation against the fortified...

Read More