Posts made in December, 2017

The Maluku Civil War: Kopassus and the Coker Gang

Posted by on Dec 19, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Maluku Civil War: Kopassus and the Coker Gang

Laskar Jihad wasn’t the only group trying to scuttle the Malino agreement. A May 25, 2002 attack on a Christian ferry near Haruku Island left five dead and eleven wounded. The masked attackers in military uniforms on two speedboats tossed petrol bombs and fired rifles at the crowded ferry. The assault was later attributed to the Coker (Cowok Keren, slang for “handsome boys,” sometimes referred to Cowok Kristen, or “Christian Boys”) gang. The Army and police had pre-existing ties to Ambonese gangs in Jakarta and Maluku. Circumstantial evidence suggests the Army, Army Special Forces (Kopassus) in particular, employed the Ambonese gangsters to perpetuate the conflict. Undercover red berets were said to have been among the jihad volunteers who arrived in Maluku in mid-2000. Whether it was institutional policy, or outside players co-opted “rogue” troops to keep the pot boiling, it is clear military members worked with criminal elements to provoke the conflict. They provided lethal weaponry and ammunition to the combatants, supported Laskar Jihad and other outside Muslim militant groups, and sometimes joined in the fighting. Hundreds of Ambonese gang members were “deported” to Ambon after the November 1998 Ketapang riots in Central Jakarta. Among them, Milton Matuankotta and his Christian gangsters linked up with local groups, including Berty Loupatty’s Coker gang and a rival group, Laskar Kristus, led by Agus Wattimena. The Coker gang, based in Ambon’s Protestant Kudamati neighborhood, was the largest of more than a dozen city gangs. It appears all three Christian gang leaders (Matuankotta, Loupatty and Wattimena) were involved in the conflict from the start. “This is a real religious war and we have to protect ourselves. Sometimes protection means attacking first. We have a plan, and when the time comes, we will wipe them [the Muslims] out,” Agus Wattimena boasted on August 30, 2000. [1] When Laskar Kristus become the de facto military wing for Alex Manuputty’s Maluku Sovereignty Front (FKM), Berty Loupatty (photo inset) is alleged to have murdered Agus Wattimena in March 2001 on orders from Kopassus officers. [2] Milton Matuankotta returned to Jakarta to lead an ethnic gang in the Tanah Abang market district, leaving Loupatty and his Coker gang as the primary Kopassus proxy in Ambon. On May 13, 2002, three months after the Malino II agreement, there was a shootout between Kopassus soldiers and the police in Kudamati, followed by revelations the red berets were working with Ambonese gangsters, evidently to provoke the conflict. The police were seeking Berty Loupatty, a recognized provocateur, even among the Christian community. On a tip, they discovered him with two Kopassus soldiers at a Kudamati residence. The soldiers shot two policemen when they tried to arrest Loupatty. The police severely beat the two Kopassus men; one suffered a broken leg. Loupatty escaped but was apprehended two days later, only to be released on May 20 to Kopassus Combined Intelligence Task Force (SGI) Commander Major Imam Santosa Rahmadany. The Kudamati incident once more exposed the serious rift within the security forces, triggering a barrage of accusations between the Maluku governor, military commander, police chief, and senior officials in Jakarta. Outgoing Maluku Commander Brigadier...

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The Maluku Civil War: Malino II

Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Maluku Civil War: Malino II

In early-August 2001, Laskar Jihad militants staged a noisy protest in Yogyakarta against newly installed President Megawati Sukarnoputri and vowed to continue their jihad in Maluku. Laskar Jihad Commander Ja’far Umar Thalib and his lieutenants later met Vice President Hamzah Haz, the United Development Party (PPP) Chairman who had previously backed Laskar Jihad’s mission to Maluku. This time he advised the militants it was time to end their involvement in Maluku. [1] Religious conflict had erupted in Poso, Central Sulawesi in late-May. Ja’far again called for a jihad to defend Muslims and dispatched some 700 volunteers to the region. The Laskar Jihad mission in Poso was ineffective and most militants were withdrawn after a few months. Smaller, more radical groups, the Makassar-based Laskar Jundullah under Agus Dwikarna and the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, continued the jihad in Central Sulawesi. During December 2001 talks at the South Sulawesi Malino hill station – the same place where, fifty-five years earlier, the Dutch had mustered support for an Indonesian federation – Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Jusuf Kalla (photo inset) brokered a truce between Christian and Muslim community leaders that temporarily reduced levels of violence in Central Sulawesi. Several half-hearted efforts to promote peace in Maluku – seemingly intended to mollify critics – had gone nowhere and stopped completely after jihad fighters arrived in mid-2000. [2] Cabinet ministers and security officials returned to Ambon in late-January 2002 to lay the groundwork for a Malino II meeting aimed at reconciling the conflicted parties. The timing was right since the warring factions had reached stalemate; locals were tired of the fighting. Jusuf Kalla and Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened the Malino II conference on February 10 with thirty-five leaders each from Maluku Christian and Muslim communities. After two days of emotional negotiations, the delegates agreed to end the three-year religious war and work together to maintain peace. Ambon residents welcomed the peace pact with joint parades and celebrations. Yusuf Kalla was hailed as a peacemaker after his central role in the two Malino agreements. Kalla was elected Vice President on a ticket with Bambang Yudhoyono in September 2004 and competed unsuccessfully for the presidency in the 2009 elections. The Malino II Agreement called to disarm and expel outside combatants, and to examine the conflict’s causes and culprits. An independent team was formed in June 2002 with a six-month charter to look into the January 1999 Ambon riots – on the Christian side the Republic of South Maluku (RMS), Maluku Sovereignty Front (FKM) and Laskar Kristus gang, on the Muslim side Laskar Jihad – along with cases of gross human rights violations and serious crimes. Much of the team’s efforts were directed at Christian separatists who were not deeply involved in the conflict. As with so many other post-Soeharto investigations (including probes into the May 1998 riots, the two Semanggi incidents, abuses in Papua, the 1984 Tanjung Priok incident and the November 2001 murder of Papuan leader Theys Eluay), the Maluku investigation team was inadequately resourced, lacked authority and did not result in significant prosecutions. By the time of Malino...

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