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168, September 2002

1. emergency continues to grip aceh
2. rights violations continue unabated [text unavailable]
3. maluku is now a closed territory
4. problems mount in west papua [text unavailable]
5. unexplained killings in merauke [text unavailable]
6. is a zone of peace possible in papua?
7. violence against women [text unavailable]
03 September 2002

Bulletin no. 168



1. Emergency continues to grip Aceh

2. Rights violations continue unabated [text unavailable]

3. Maluku is now a closed territory

4. Problems mount in West Papua [text unavailable]

5. Unexplained killings in Merauke [text unavailable]

6. Is a zone of peace possible in Papua?

7. Violence against women [text unavailable]

8. Indonesian justice in serious trouble [text unavailable]

9. Will these generals ever be brought to trial?

10. Appeal to support former tapols [text unavailable]

11. New revelations about 1999 mayhem in Timor [text unavailable]

12. Irene Cristalis - Bitter Dawn (Book Review) [text unavailable]


1. Emergency continues to grip Aceh

Since July a political issue constantly on the front pages in Jakarta has been the likelihood that a civil or military emergency/martial law will be declared in Aceh. The idea was first floated by retired Lt. General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs and soon became a major topic for the media.

However, all the talk about declaring a state of emergency in Aceh is beside the point because the Acehnese have been living in a state of emergency for decades. With the exception of a short interval of relative peace in 1999 and 2000, most parts of Aceh can be described as war zones. The death toll since the beginning of the year has risen to around fifteen people a day, most of them civilians. Clashes between the TNI (Indonesian armed forces) and/or POLRI (Indonesian Police) on the one hand and GAM (Free Aceh Movement) on the other are virtually daily occurrences.

The government's move to raise the issue of declaring an emergency in Aceh is more to do with the political situation in Jakarta where Cilangkap, the TNI headquarters, is increasingly calling the shots. The military leaders want to grab even more power than they already have. At the beginning of August, Major-General Djali Yusuf, the military commander of Iskandar Muda, the military command of Aceh, made a report to President Megawati, in which he spoke of the continuing violence in the region and accused GAM of great brutality. He also announced the creation of a special unit, Satgas Rajawali (Rajawali Special Unit), a combat unit trained and equipped for counter-insurgency and anti-guerrilla warfare. The Rajawali units include troops from the army (Kopassus), the navy (Marines), the air force (Paskhasau) and Kostrad, the army's strategic corps.

In response, President Megawati instructed Major-General Djali Yusuf to 'act decisively' against all those involved in acts of violence. From that moment on, all the focus of attention was about declaring an emergency situation in Aceh.

DOM and the emergency

Ever since the birth of the Indonesian Republic in 1945, the use of violence by Indonesian troops has been a regular feature.. The resurgence of rebel movements such as the Darul Islam and the RMS (South Maluku Republic) in the fifties was met by Jakarta with swift military action, always accompanied by great brutality.

After the resurgence of GAM in the late eighties, the dictator Suharto turned Aceh into a DOM (Daerah Operasi Militer or military operations zone), which gave the military free rein to do whatever they thought fit. In practice this meant special forces, notably Kopassus, the red berets combat unit, using their intelligence agents to extract information from villagers. According to official figures, the death toll during DOM, from 1989 till 1998, was at least one thousand; a similar number disappeared and thousands were left physically disabled, widowed or orphaned. After the fall of Suharto, DOM was lifted but in 2000 the military started to apply the same violent methods again. DOM had again become the reality though no one was calling it that.

During the Wahid presidency several new constructions were initiated. A special autonomy law which renamed Aceh as NAD (Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam) was enacted by parliament but it has made little difference on the ground. In 2001 two presidential instructions or Inpres (Instruksi Presiden) were issued to deal 'comprehensively' with the situation in Aceh but in practice only the security measures as prescribed by TNI/Polri were implemented. After becoming president in July last year, Megawati issued yet another Inpres this year which, like its predecessors, claims to be aimed at seeking a 'comprehensive' solution but all that has happened is that violence has increased significantly since the beginning of the year. The Inpres was due to expire on 31 July and this has been used as the justification by the TNI to press for a stronger military solution.

It is more than obvious that the military wants something more than just an Inpres. Firstly ,they want more troops in Aceh, and secondly, with their experiences in East Timor still fresh in their minds, they want to be given a legal umbrella that would protect them from facing charges of gross human rights abuses or crimes against humanity.

Despite the successes of the recent military campaign in Aceh, GAM guerrilla units are still present in large numbers in the countryside. Members of the security forces openly admit that it is very difficult to distinguish GAM people from the local population, thereby giving credence to the popularity of GAM among the population. The call for an increase in the number of troops is the army's way of dealing with this situation.

The demand for an emergency situation in Aceh coincided with the start of the ad hoc trials on East Timor, where a few highly-placed TNI officers are facing trial. [See separate article.] Although no Indonesian human rights activist is convinced that the generals responsible for the mayhem in East Timor will be duly punished, the trials are nevertheless a humiliation for the armed forces. No one denies that the ad hoc trials would never have happened without strong international pressure.

On the opening day of the first trial, top generals demonstratively sat in the first row of the public gallery and embraced their colleagues when they arrived in court as defendants. TNI headquarters, represented by spokesperson Major General Syafrie Syamsuddin, whose own hands are stained with East Timorese blood, made it clear that the armed forces do not accept the present situation. TNI basically wants absolute impunity in Aceh and don't care whether it is called a military emergency, a civilian emergency or whatever. The DOM situation introduced in 1989 by President Suharto gave TNI the kind of security they are now seeking.

The political process

The idea of declaring an emergency in Aceh created quite a stir in Indonesia. Outspoken NGOs were strongly against it while most public figures and political commentators warned against it. Some members of parliament said that the government had basically failed to handle the situation in Aceh properly and concluded that TNI/POLRI had failed to create a conducive situation for security for the Acehnese.

The bottom line regarding an emergency situation is that it will only worsen the situation, that it will increase violence while at the same time jeopardising the negotiations between GAM and the Indonesian government. In an attempt to sort things out, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) paid a brief visit to Aceh to consult different sectors of society. Yet the trip was hardly necessary because it was obvious that everyone in Aceh, even including the governor, Abdullah Puteh, known as a prominent member of the Jakarta elite, rejected the suggestion that an emergency should be declared.

There is a difference of opinion between political generals like SBY and the military top brass on Aceh. SBY is trying to maintain a balance between the negotiation strategy and the military strategy. During his brief visit to Aceh, civil society there used the opportunity to express total rejection of an emergency. Every day demonstrations took place in Banda Aceh and in a closed meeting with NGO representatives, a Position Paper by Acehnese NGOs was handed over expressing the view that the conflict should be resolved by just and democratic means while avoiding the military approach.

What SBY succeeded in doing, whether intentionally or otherwise, was to turn the issue into a major political issue. The very idea of declaring a military emergency gave Acehnese civil society across the entire political spectrum an opportunity to speak out, saying that dialogue is the best way to proceed. Articles and comments in the media drew attention to the fact that at the latest round of negotiations in Geneva in May/June, mutual agreement was reached that a new approach, called All Inclusive Dialogue (AID, original in English), should be pursued. Although the modalities of AID have not yet been worked out, the general assumption is that Acehnese civil society as a whole will take part, which means plural representation of society on both sides of the negotiations. Agreement was also reached on the need to have a cease fire.

Major western powers including the US and the UK have given clear signals to the government that negotiations is the way ahead. Washington gave the clearest signal by enhancing the role of the Herni Dunant Centre, which is facilitating the talks. A senior American diplomat, retired General Anthony Zinni, known for his mediating role in the Middle East conflict, was chosen by Washington to assist the HDC and was sent to Aceh in August. His task was apparently to examine the feasibility of securing a cease fire and how such an agreement would be monitored.

Overall TNI Strategy

The TNI general staff have made it clear in a number of statements that they reject negotiations. The generals argue that the talks have produced nothing and make it clear that they resent the very idea of the Jakarta government sitting round a table with 'separatists'. The army chief of staff, General Ryamizard Ryacudu, has been the most forthright in presenting the army's logic: GAM is a separatist movement which wants to disrupt the unity of the state. Movements like this must be eradicated (ditumpas habis). [Kompas, 12 July 2002].

Some generals went even further and demanded an end to the HDC's role. These hard-liners include the chief of police in Aceh, Inspector General Yusuf Manggabarani and the military commander in Aceh, Major-General Djali Yusuf whose logic is that GAM is a 'terrorist' organisation. This means that the HDC is aiding an 'enemy of the state' and should be declared subversive.

But there are indications that all the fuss being made by TNI stalwarts about Aceh is part of a wider strategy to gain a greater role at the heart of Indonesian politics again. Some military analysts argue that the Aceh conflict is being used by the TNI as a stepping stone back to power.

The Maluku conflict erupted in January 1999 while the reputation of the TNI was at its lowest ebb. TNI's involvement in starting and fostering the conflict is well known. The longer the Maluku conflict has continued, the more public opinion has shifted, from seeing the security forces as part of the problem to seeing it as part of the solution. The emergence of a strong military command in Ambon, Kodam Pattimura, headed by Major General Djoko Santoso, at present one of the toughest combat generals, is a clear victory for TNI. The agenda of the reform movement was to gradually downsize the territorial structure but instead of eradication, growth has been the answer by the TNI high command. [See separate article on Maluku.]

The same trend can be seen in Aceh. In February this year, despite a wave of protests, a new military command, Kodam Iskandar Muda, was established in Aceh, another major victory for TNI. But their demands went much further, demanding foolproof impunity for their military operations. Instead of being seen as the culprit, TNI is emerging as the 'guardian' of law and order in Aceh, or as the generals define it, the only force capable of guaranteeing the preservation of NKRI (Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia, the Unitary State of the Indonesian Republic).

Business bonanza

In economic terms, the conflicts in Maluku and Aceh have produced a bumper harvest for the army and the police. With the swift approval of parliament, the government allocated a generous budget increase for the TNI and POLRI, each getting an additional 1 trillion rupiahs (about US$ 115 million). This was quite a feat, considering the economic problems still besetting the Indonesian economy, including a heavy domestic debt. The two territorial commands in Aceh and Maluku now have a tri-function: military, political and last but not least, an economic function.

The funding of the armed forces is usually described as 25 per cent against 75 per cent, the former being what they receive from the state budget while the latter is what they must find from other sources. In conflict areas like Maluku and Aceh, the figures are more extreme and are put at 10 to 90 per cent. The war economies in Maluku and Aceh involve security officers in practically every economic sector including a wide range of illegal activities such as illegal taxes, extortion, trafficking in women, prostitution, gambling and so on. In both places the military and police are also up to their necks in illegal logging, fishing and smuggling luxury goods into the country.

The TNI has a multiple agenda in Aceh. While the military top in Jakarta repeatedly promise to wipe out GAM, it is clear that many sections of the security forces are benefiting from the war economy and it is in their interest to keep the conflict going. The Aceh issue is also being used to blackmail the political elite in Jakarta, up to and including President Megawati, by insisting that they need all the manpower, equipment and money they can lay their hands on while enjoying impunity, allowing them to step up their brutality without fear of facing charges of human rights violations. *

3. Maluku is now a closed territory

It is conservatively estimated that at least 9,000 people have been killed and 400,000 have become refugees since January 1999 when the communal conflict between Muslims and Christians began in Maluku. In February 2002, a peace accord known as Malino II was signed. But it was a top-down accord and violence has since erupted in several places, notably the bloody attack on Soya in May, bomb attacks on the governor's office and most recently in the Ambon market place on 27 July.

The Malino II Accord was reached at a time of relative peace. People from the two communities had shown signs of war-fatigue and despite efforts to provoke conflicts, they remained localised and were more in the nature of elite conflicts, using extremist elements from both sides.

This relatively conducive situation was not the result of the Accord but had been present for many months. Efforts at a grassroots level to reconcile the two communities had started cautiously and at a higher level with an initiative known as Baku Bae. The Malino II Accord was defective because it made no attempt to involve the reconciliation efforts already underway. Important leaders from both communities took part in the Malino II conference but Jakarta sent several top ministers to control the discussions. Such high-flown peace conferences are well intentioned but fail to affect the reality on the ground. Agreement was reached on eleven points but there has been hardly any follow-up. Two of the commissions set up during Malino II have never got off the ground.


One result of the Accord was the establishment of an independent team to investigate human rights violations in Maluku and probe the role of the different protagonists. The team was installed by a presidential decree on 6 June and is headed by retired Major-General I Wayan Karya, deputy to the Co-ordinating Minister for Security and Political Affairs.

There is a great deal of scepticism regarding this team as the investigation teams on other issues in Indonesia have achieved so little. Nine cases have been investigated since the fall of dictator Suharto, starting with an inquiry into the May 1998 riots, the Semanggi incidents in 1999 and most recently the investigation into the murder of Theys Eluay in West Papua. In addition, since the beginning of the Maluku tragedy not a single perpetrator has been convicted. The existence of militia groups on both sides is well known and their leaders are high-profile figures. The region has become increasingly lawless with the military and militia groups playing the dominant role.

One of the aims of the Maluku investigation team is to conduct an inquiry into the role of RMS (the Republik Maluku Selatan, South Maluku Republic) and groups related to this movement. Human rights campaigners like Orry Rachman from Kontras question this focus and insist that the team should concentrate on discovering why a small incident back in January 1999 could have sparked such a relentless sectarian conflict. The hard core of RMS activists in Maluku played no role of any significance in the conflict. The RMS movement declared independence on 25 April 1950 and the government of the day took strong measures, sending many troops to Ambon. The military wing of RMS was defeated but it fought a guerrilla war till the mid-sixties. The military struggle ended with the capture of RMS leader Soumokil and the political wing continued to thrive in the Netherlands where many Malukans have been living since 1951. RMS presence on the ground in Maluku has been virtually non-existent until quite recently.

FKM and Laskar Jihad

Since June 2000 Maluku has been under a civilian emergency, the only region in Indonesia to fall under this category. Early in 2002 the authorities n Jakarta concluded that the security conditions has not improved and toyed with the idea of going one step further by declaring a military emergency. But things have been resolved somewhat differently; Maluku remains under a civilian emergency but Kodam Pattimura, the regional military command, has been upgraded and is under the command of Major General Djoko Santoso who was previously commander of the second division of Kostrad, the army's Strategic Command, Indonesia's best trained and most heavily equipped outfit.

With the creation of Opslihkam, (Operasi Pemulihan Keamanan, Operation to Restore Law and Order) as an umbrella, the military have assumed virtually unlimited powers. Under these powers, the police force (which, in theory, is in charge of law and order) have been placed in a subordinate position. The military have closed the territory to outsiders and frequently conduct door-to-door searches.

It is now clear that Jakarta, especially after the Malino II agreement, has concocted a scenario behind the scenes. Two organisations, FKM (Front Kedaulatan Maluku, Maluku Sovereignty Forum) and Laskar Jihad (Jihad Warriors) have been selected as the main culprits. Two FKM leaders, Alex Manuputty and Semmy Weileruny, and the chairman of Laskar, Jihad, Jafar Umar Thalib have been arrested and are expected to go on trial soon.

The FKM and Laskar Jihad have been chosen as scapegoats. They fit neatly into the Jakarta scenario as the main cause of the conflict. But Maluku watchers have recognised that this scenario as a sham. Neither of the organisations existed at the beginning of the conflict; it was only after a year that FKM came into existence while Laskar Jihad, primarily an organisation based in Java, started sending hundreds of so-called volunteers to Maluku in April 2000.

The FKM came into being as a small group of discontented intellectuals who became increasingly frustrated with the role of the security forces and militia groups in fanning the conflict while the central government watched on the sidelines. But FKM made a political switch and adopted the same position as RMS, based on what it claims is the legitimacy of the independence declaration in 1950. The FKM has become widely known in Indonesia, but mainly for negative reasons and has failed to win popular support. It is seen as a reincarnation of the RMS backed by Christians, giving radical Muslims a pretext to attack FKM/RMS as a Christian ploy to establish a separate republic.

Laskar Jihad arrived in Ambon in April 2000 for similar reasons, complaining of no action from the central government, no protection for the Muslim masses from Christian militias like Laskar Kristus. A few thousand volunteers are now active members of Laskar Jihad in Maluku. The majority are involved in social work while about 20 per cent are armed militias. Some well-known military hardliners like Djadja Suparman have supported Laskar Jihad and are responsible for its radical, nationalistic line. A nationalist Muslim movement is a new phenomenon in Indonesia and is an oxymoron.

FKM and Laskar Jihad are a highly combustible mix and reflect the extreme tendencies within the fractured Malukan civil society. It is no coincidence that the authorities are pinning the blame on both organisations as the main cause of the conflict.

Intra-military conflict

From the onset of the Maluku conflict, the role of the military and militia groups has been more than obvious. Analysts argue that the eruption of the Maluku conflict into a full-blown communal conflict is the master-stroke of some top army generals in Jakarta. The conflict erupted in Maluku at a time when the army's political influence was at its lowest point. The collapse of the Suharto regime and the use of brutality by the security forces against students had eroded the influence of the military. The eruption of violence in Maluku was a godsend for the military to prove their indispensability. Instead of being seen as part of the problem, the security forces became part of the solution.

This is only part of the story and part of the truth. The longer the communal conflict has continued, the more complicated the contradictions have become. Military and police personnel increasingly took sides in the conflict. Christian soldiers joined the ranks of the Christian militia while Muslim soldiers joined the Muslim militia. A few hundred security officers from both the military and police, have gone AWOL and have deserted to one or other side.

Sometimes conflicts between units of the security forces erupt because of different strategies. On 14 May, there was a shoot-out between a platoon of Kopassus (army elite troops) and a team of Brimob, the police elite troops. Brimob forces were trying to arrest a notorious Christian militia leader, Berty Loupatty, who turned out to be a gang leader working as an informer for Kopassus. Two people from each side, were hospitalised with gunshot wounds. In the past three years, clashes between security forces have happened with such frequency that it has been impossible to hide the problem.

The longer the conflict in Maluku continues, the greater is the likelihood of armed conflicts occurring with the involvement of security officers on both sides. The economy of Maluku has basically become a war economy with members of the security forces playing the dominant role. Everywhere illegal tax and fees are levied. People who need to travel from one district to the other can only do so under the protection of the security forces. Illegal business like gambling, prostitution, illegal logging and drugs trafficking is thriving while the trade in small arms and ammunition has also become a source of income for the military.

A comprehensive solution?

It is not easy to find a quick solution to the conflict in Maluku. At the grassroots level there is a feeling of war-weariness and a genuine desire to end the hostilities between the two communities. Eruptions of violence are the work of extremist elements on both sides but have been contained, without retaliation from the other side. But at the same time the physical segregation of both communities has created alienation and a sense of distrust between the two communities.

The vicious attack on Soya came after the RMS anniversary on 25 April when the RMS flag was flown attached to balloons in several places in Ambon. Soya, a Christian bastion, is located on the slopes of a mountain and is not easily accessible for outsiders. Only professional soldiers like Kopassus combat soldiers would have been able to launch an attack, which is exactly what happened. Eyewitnesses say the attackers wore military fatigues and covered their faces. Twelve people were killed and dozens more were injured.

At an earlier stage in the conflict, the Christian community would have retaliated but a better understanding of the background of the attack calmed the community down.

The recent release of Jafar Umar Thalib from prison to house arrest resulted in a huge bomb explosion in the market place of Ambon, one of the locations where Muslim traders have started setting up their stalls again for both communities.

While there is a better understanding of the nature of the conflict and a desire not to be provoked by hardliners, it is also true that bitterness and anger still linger on in both communities, fuelled by the losses in each community, the death of loved ones, husbands, mothers and children. It will take time to heal the wounds helped by the present conducive situation of willingness to reconcile. Extreme elements from both sides will continue to conduct acts of terror and attempts to provoke the population. Economic interests have also become a major reason why the extreme groups on both sides want to maintain the conflict.

Maluku seen from Jakarta

The situation in Jakarta remains unclear. President Megawati seems to have no interest in Malukan affairs. While she was vice-president under Wahid she was in charge of resolving the Maluku tragedy but failed woefully. The man in charge of Malukan affairs is retired Lt. General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), the Co-ordinating Minister for Politics and Security, a very ambitious man and a likely running mate of Megawati in the 2004 presidential election.

While SBY projects the acceptable face of Jakarta, the military simply want to rule over Maluku in their own way. It is not clear whether the hardliner wings of the military are willing to drop their political and logistic support for the militia groups and whether SBY and/or the TNI headquarters are willing or able to create a conducive situation in which civil society in Maluku is able to continue with their reconciliation activities. Experience during the past three years gives no grounds for optimism but there are hopeful signs that civil society is re-emerging in many parts of Maluku.

6. Is a zone of peace possible in West Papua?

While civil society groups have placed their hopes in creating a zone of peace in West Papua, thousands of members of Laskar Jihad have flooded into the province in the past year, amid protests from West Papuans that this could lead to inter-religious conflict. Meanwhile, the local police force has announced a new operation aimed at clamping down on all 'separatist' groups in West Papua. There are fears of a crackdown and moves to instigate conflict.

In July, the West Papua chief of police, Drs Made Mangku Pastika, announced that his force would be launching a new operation code-named Operasi Adil Matoa 2002. Matoa is the generic name for police operations in West Papua while adil means 'justice'. He said that the operation would be directed against 'separatists', unarmed as well as armed.

It is feared that such an operation will lead to many arrests. But the main objective is likely to be to incapacitate the Papuan Presidium Council which enjoys widespread support, especially since the assassination last November of its chairperson, Theys Hiyo Eluay. This can only provoke greater unrest and anger among the people.

This operation is being seen as a move by the police to assert its primary role in West Papua as the force for 'law and order'. This does not mean that the operation will necessarily be any less brutal that what the army is capable of doing. Brimob, the elite force of the police, already has a reputation for great brutality in West Papua.

The police chief's announcement provoked a storm of protest with many fearing that the security forces were preparing for a crackdown on pro-independence activists and groups. The secretary general of the highly respect Traditional Council of Papua, Titus Hamadi, said such an operation could only result in new conflicts at a time when the general situation in Papua was relatively calm. Throwing his weight behind the idea of creating a zone of peace, he said the police operation would spread confusion over who might be targeted as 'separatists'. It could even include village heads or ordinary villagers.

He said the operation should be discussed at a meeting between the regional government, the regional assembly, the police chief and the regional military commander and the police should meanwhile suspend their operation.

Another high profile figure to oppose the plan was John Ibo, chair of the regional assembly, who said that if the police want to end separatism, they should hold public forums to promote the idea of loyalty to the state. [Cendrawasih Pos, 23 and 24 July 2002]

Pieter Eli, the Kontras (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence) co-ordinator for West Papua, warned that such an operation could result in casualties. He accused the Megawati government of adopting the same policies as the Suharto New Order and said that the authorities were more interested in preserving territorial integrity than protecting the population. This was because West Papua is so rich in natural resources. [Cendrawasih Pos, 18 July 2002]

Police chief explains

Stunned by the strength of opposition to his operation, the police chief warned people against making 'exaggerated' claims about the intentions of the police. He tried to assure people that they would not start arresting people. The aim, he said, is to make a proper, 'judicial' assessment of organisations like the Papuan Presidium Council: was it or was it not 'lawful', and if not, should it be allowed to exist or should it be banned? He said people were talking a lot about creating a 'zone of peace' but these very same people were holding illegal meetings, discussing plans to attack police command posts, and lobbying abroad for support for a referendum. Such things would be investigated and decisions would be taken on how to respond. This, he alleged, was the only way to create a 'zone of peace'. [Cendrawasih Pos, 25 July 2002]

A number of local police chiefs have said that they are ready to take part in the new operation and have already gathered data from previous operations.

Laskar Jihad poses a new threat

Since the beginning of 2000, Laskar Jihad warriors have helped to stoke up the bitter inter-religious conflict in Maluku. Their arrival in Maluku is widely known to have the support of elements within the Indonesian armed forces. [See article on Maluku in this issue.] Even now, following the conclusion of an accord to restore peace between the Christian and Muslim communities, nothing has been done to remove these disruptive forces from Maluku.

Hence, reports about the arrival of Laskar Jihad members in West Papua has caused alarm among West Papuan activists. Laskar Jihad members have been arriving since 2000, initially in Sorong and then in other parts of West Papua. Towards the end of 2001, its notorious leader, Jafar Umar Thalib, made a visit to Sorong, and since then, the influx has steadily increased. Church and human rights activists in Sorong say that military training has been taking place, initially in isolated bush areas but more recently on the premises of a local mosque. They say that six Pakistani citizens are involved in these training sessions.

In March, twenty church leaders in Sorong issued a statement together with eight clan leaders and youth leaders, rejecting the presence of Laskar Jihad and drawing attention to the dissemination of inflammatory publications and videos alleging that Christians are responsible for 'separatist' movements and constitute a threat to Indonesia's territorial integrity. A Laskar Jihad bulletin issued in Sorong in January said it was 'waging war against Christians because of their support for separatist movements in various parts of Indonesia'.

According to the leading human rights organisation ELS-HAM, there are now around three thousand Laskar Jihad members in West Papua and they have set up a number of branches of an organisation called Communication Forum of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah in several cities, including Sorong, Fak-Fak, Jayapura, Timika, Nabire and Manokwari.

According to reports from Fak-Fak, small boats have been seen arriving since April, each bringing about ten Jihad members, apparently from Maluku. They have also set up communities in Arso, near Jayapura, which has been the location of large transmigration re-settlement areas for newcomers from Java. The Rev. John Barr of Australia's Uniting Church, said after a visit to West Papua in May, that he heard many accounts of Jihad training camps in Arso.

In addition to the spread of Laskar Jihad groups, the army has been actively promoting the establishment of pro-Jakarta militias known as Satgas Merah Putih (Red-and-White Task Force), whose members are recruited from newcomer Indonesian communities. This is a sinister reminder of what happened in East Timor during the months prior to the independence ballot in August 1999. ELS-HAM recently announced that it had obtained a copy of a military document, dated 8 April 2002 and signed by the commander of the Jayawijaya military command, which lists the names of eighty local farmers who are members of Satgas Merah Putih in the district, providing confirmation of the army's direct involvement with the militias.

All in all, these developments point to efforts by the security forces, the military as well as the police, to instigate trouble in West Papua, which casts a dark shadow over civil society's hopes of turning West Papua into a zone of peace. *

9. Will these generals ever be brought to trial?

In the closing years of Suharto's New Order, two atrocities stand out not only for their magnitude but for their political impact in hastening the downfall of the dictator. The attack on the headquarters of the PDI in July 1996 took place on Suharto's orders to destroy Megawati Sukarnoputri's position as leader of the party, while the shooting dead of four Trisakti University students in May 1998 was followed by riots which led to Suharto's decision to step down. Both cases have been under investigation for years: the question is, will those responsible ever come to trial?

On 27 July 1996, hundreds of men dressed in PDI shirts and backed by troops and police surrounded and attacked the headquarters of the Partai Demokrat Indonesia (PDI) in central Jakarta. The building was occupied by supporters of Megawati Sukarnoputri, the leader of the PDI, and had become the focus for free-speech forums. They were acting in defiance of a decision taken by a bogus PDI congress that had been held at the behest of Suharto to replace Megawati as leader by a Suharto puppet. [The PDI was subsequently renamed Partai Demokrat Indonesia - Perjuangan, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle which is headed by President Megawati Sukarnoputri.]

Rocks, petrol bombs and tear gas canisters were thrown into the building, overpowering the scores of people inside. The mob forced their way into the building and in the fighting that followed, scores of people were injured. According to reports at the time, five people inside the building were killed, twenty-three went missing, and nearly 150 people were injured. Most of those who escaped unharmed from the building were arrested and held for several weeks; many were seriously maltreated. Human rights observers said at the time that it was difficult to determine the real death toll because the military prevented access to the hospital where the wounded had been taken.

A national police team and then a joint team of the national police and the military police have been conducting investigations into the bloody incident for more than two years, but the process has dragged on because of the repeated refusal of the attorney-general's office to accept dossiers submitted by the team.

In July this year, it was announced that the investigation team had identified retired Lieutenant-General Sutiyoso as one of several military suspects. Sutiyoso was commander of the Jakarta military command at the time. Relatives of those who died or who were injured have been frustrated by the length of time taken to bring the case to court.

Instead of being brought to justice, Sutiyoso was appointed governor of Jakarta three years ago and has provoked many demonstrations because of his handling of the capital's affairs when severe floods hit the city earlier this year and the municipal government was accused of failing to take the necessary precautions to protect the capital against flooding or to take care of the victims.

Megawati backs Sutiyoso

His involvement in the July 27 1996 attack on the PDI headquarters has made him a special target of protest. Yet, despite this man's record as governor and his role in the July 1996 bloody incident, he now enjoys the unstinting support of President Megawati in his bid to win a second term as governor of Jakarta. Sutiyoso is known to have close business ties with Megawati's husband, Taufik Kiemas. Her decision to back his nomination for the post has provoked anger within her own party.

Hundreds of people, most of them PDI-P members, gathered in Jakarta to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the attack on 27 July 2002 and used the occasion to condemn Megawati's support for Sutiyoso. She herself let the occasion pass without any mention of what had happened on that fateful day, nor did she express support for the victims of the atrocity who had been acting in her name.

Another officer named as a suspect in this case is Major-General Zacky Anwar Makarim who was head of BIA, the army's intelligence agency, in 1996. Makarim was also named as a likely suspect by the Indonesian investigation team into the horrendous events that wreaked havoc in East Timor before and after the ballot in August 1999. But he is not among the 18 persons now on trial in Jakarta. [See separate article.]

Trisakti and Semanggi cases unresolved

Students at Trisakti University, on the outskirts of Jakarta, and the parents of four students who were shot dead in the back when returning to the campus after a peaceful demonstration on 12 May 1998 have campaigned vigorously for years for the culprits to be brought to justice.

The Trisakti demonstration was part of a wave of student protest that had gathered momentum since the beginning of 1998. The killings sent shock waves across the country and students came out in even greater numbers, flying flags half-mast on their campuses. The day after the killings, anti-Chinese riots devastated several commercial centres in Jakarta; the army stood by as thousands of homes and shops were looted and destroyed. At least a thousand people died in the riots and scores of Chinese women were systematically gang-raped. An investigation into the causes of the riots and those responsible has come to nothing. With the country descending into chaos, Suharto cut short an overseas trip and a week later, announced his decision to resign.

Relentless demands for an investigation into the shooting by the parents of the four victims persuaded former President Abdurrahman Wahid's administration to bring the men who shot the students before a military court. But the court's decision was not seen as satisfactory as only low-ranking personnel, who were merely carrying out their superior's orders, were sent to jail.

Lasmiyati, the mother of one of the students, said that sentencing the troops did not solve the case because 'their superiors should be held responsible for the shootings and brought before the court first.

In August 2001, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) set up a special commission of inquiry known by its Indonesian initials as a KPP-HAM, to investigate the Trisakti incident, along with two other atrocities in which a number of students were killed, the Semanggi I and Semanggi II incidents (named after the Semanggi flyover where the incidents took place). Semanggi I occurred in November 1998 when hundreds of students gathered in protest against moves to impose emergency laws that would have given the military greater powers to 'quell unrest'. Security forces opened fire on the peaceful demonstration, killing thirteen students. Semanggi II occurred in September 1999 when students gathered in Jakarta to oppose moves to nominate President B.J. Habibie for a second term. One student was killed when troops opened fire.

In setting up the special commission, Komnas HAM was exercising its powers under Human Rights Courts Law 26/2000 for the investigation of possible crimes against humanity. It was clear from the start that these investigations would lead to charges of top-ranking army and police personnel who were responsible for the way in which the security forces behaved. The result has been that both the army and the police hierarchy have refused to allow retired or serving officers to be questioned by the commission.

The work of the KPP-HAM was seriously undermined because the DPR, the Indonesian parliament, had conducted its own investigation into the incidents. The special parliamentary commission set up for this purpose came to the conclusion that the incidents were not serious human rights violations and any court cases should therefore be heard before a military tribunal. This has been used by a number of officers, including retired General Wiranto, who was armed forces commander at the time of the incidents, to refuse to respond to summonses from the KPP-HAM. The KPP-HAM then announced that they would use their powers of subpeona to force the officers to appear but the Supreme Court turned down a request to issue a finding to this effect.

Given the insuperable difficulties the commission faced in completing its investigations, the KPP-HAM wound up its work when its mandate expired. The head of the commission, Albert Hasibuan, said that they had reached the conclusion that one high-ranking army officer and two high-ranking police officers were thought to be involved at the strategic level, that eleven high- and middle-ranking officers were involved at the operation command level and thirty-six middle-ranking officers were involved at the field command level. [Jakarta Post, 22 March 2002]

'We conclude that the killings took place with the full involvement of the security officers who used their power as well as their weapons in an excessive way, for the sake of certain political interests,' Hasibuan said, when submitting the final report to the Komnas HAM.

After further deliberations by Komnas HAM, the documents were forwarded to the Attorney General's office for judicial investigations that should lead to formal indictments of the suspects.

There have been many student demonstrations calling for the case to be brought to court and for the men responsible to be made to account for the crimes. But the documents appeared to have been shelved by the Attorney-General's office and few people expect any significant move in this case in the foreseeable future. *