1) Families of French journalists detained in West Papua beg Indonesia for mercy
French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois, imprisoned indefinitely for reporting in West Papua are waiting anxiously for news of their fate.
Jakarta: The families of two French journalists imprisoned indefinitely for reporting in West Papua without a visa have spoken out for the first time to beg the Indonesian government for mercy.
Valentine Bourrat's mother Martine, and Thomas Dandois's brother Marc, have told Fairfax Media that, 40 days after the journalists' capture, their families do not understand why their loved ones are facing criminal charges in an Indonesian prison for a mere visa violation. They also do not know how long the legal process might take, nor how long Valentine and Thomas will spend in prison if found guilty.
Martine Bourrat said her husband Patrick, Valentine's father, was a fabled French war correspondent who was shot and imprisoned during his career. He was eventually killed when he was hit by an American tank during manoeuvres before the second Gulf War in 2002. Valentine was 17 when he died.
"I'm used to this situation. You know it's journalists' life," Martine Bourrat said.
But her daughter's detention was longer and more stressful than those events.
"I was not afraid at the beginning, but now I am afraid; and Valentine, of course, she is fragile, and I am afraid for her ... it's hard. It's hard."
The pair were caught by police on August 5 working using a tourist visa. They were filming a documentary for Arte TV in France on the separatist movement — a notoriously touchy subject for the Indonesian state.
For West Papua, Indonesian authorities require both a journalist's visa and a special permission letter, which is difficult to get.
Even so, most reporters caught with tourist visas are simply deported, while immigration authorities say they want this pair jailed for the maximum five years. Dandois and Bourrat have both apologised to authorities and acknowledged their wrongdoing.
At first, Martine said, her daughter had been most worried about having her notes and videos erased, saying: "I lost my story."
"And then [she was saying], 'I am a prisoner'. Then, 'I will stay here for days and weeks, and perhaps now for months — and I hope not for years'."
"It's very hard for us to understand because … my husband … went many times in Afghanistan and Iraq, in some countries that were very, very dangerous, and he was exposed, just like this. But he was not kept in a jail for that … I thought Indonesia was a country not so severe with the rules of immigration."
Mrs Bourrat said her daughter had been doing what she loved, saying it was Valentine's dream to get a job with Arte TV. Mrs Bourrat said she wanted clemency for her daughter from the Indonesian government.
"We think the sentence, even now, it's disproportional, compared to what they did."
Marc Dandois said his brother had two young twin children in France, a boy and a girl aged 2½, who were missing their father.
"For the family it's quite difficult to live with on a daily basis," he said.
"It's a heavy burden [and] always the same thing; we don't know what's going to happen to them. We do know why they've been arrested but … we don't understand why they weren't [just] kicked out of the country."
He said the two reporters had used tourist visas because if they'd sought permission to travel there, they feared they may have been followed by Indonesian security forces, preventing them from interviewing the people they wanted to meet.
"It would have been much more difficult for them to reach out to people and have interesting interviews and discussions and be able to report impartially on both sides," Mr Dandois said.
The point was underlined by their lawyer, Aristo M.A. Pangaribuan, who said the procedure for a foreign reporter to get a journalist's visa was "very difficult, and the bureaucracy is time-wasting".
"So, personally, I understand that the journalists usually only obtain a tourist's visa to do research and reportage in West Papua … Also, if you follow the procedure you will be followed by the authorities, so your movement is limited, and you cannot gather as much information as you wish."
He said he was hoping the criminal charge would be dropped and they would simply face deportation or, if the case did go to court, that the pair would be sentenced to time served. However, it would take at least another two months for the trial to be held, Mr Aristo said.
At one point, West Papua police were considering charging the pair with sedition after making an attempt to link them with an ammunition-swap gone wrong in which two Indonesian police officers were shot dead.
Mr Aristo said that was still a possibility, but seemed increasingly unlikely, because there was nothing in the evidence dossier to link the journalists to the shooting, which happened well before they landed in West Papua.
Two yardsticks exist by which we can measure Indonesia’s democratic transition.
The first is the this year’s presidential election. Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, a successful small businessman who became the mayor of Solo and later Jakarta, won the presidency by roughly 8 million votes. The losing candidate, ex-Special Forces commander and Suharto-era insider Prabowo Subianto, disagreed with the majority of voters, as did his coalition of oligarchs and pseudo-religious charlatans. Their coalition’s bond was found in a simple-minded belief they could bend reality to fit their ambitions: they sowed confusion through dubious quick-count tallies, allegations of fraud, and an unsubstantiated case filed with the Constitutional Court, which rejected it. Many an Indonesian bemoans the state of their democracy, but something, indeed, is working.
The second yardstick applies to Indonesia’s macro-level democratic transitions in pursuance of a viable state-citizen compact. Measurements are found in the way that people and government interact with one another on a regular basis: in government offices, in hospitals, in schools and so on. This measurement is taken through the availability of services, and relative levels of transparency and accountability; it is also taken through the nature of civilian interactions with police and military.
The application of this yardstick in Indonesia’s regional cores — in Medan, Padang, Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, and Makassar, for example — leads to relatively positive results. A raucous civil society has taken root in these cores since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship. Education and health services are available, bribery occurs at an acceptable level, and justice is a relatively recognizable concept.
Applying this yardstick in Indonesia’s margins is more troubling. Post-Suharto governance and security reforms seem to have completely bypassed much of eastern Indonesia. Despite (or perhaps because of) decentralization, these areas have proven resistant to change. And it is in such borderlands that the overall health of Indonesia’s transition can be gauged.
Indonesia’s fringes are often as rich in natural resources as they are poor in equality and participation, and a skewed relationship exists between local elite politicians empowered under decentralization and many a leftover New Order oligarch.
In Kalimantan, Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, and other, even less-known, provinces, the members of local political dynasties take bribes to award contracts to Jakarta-based conglomerates in order for them to earn windfall profits from coal, palm, timber, metals and minerals. These contracts don’t account for the people who live on the land in question: they often find out about it when they are ordered by police to move. Elections in such areas are bought, or fixed, and grassroots participants see democracy as a shell game or a way to earn Rp 50,000 ($4.20).
Nowhere is the trinity of resource exploitation, resistance to reform, and lack of development as stark as in Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost province. The application of both yardsticks there produces troubling measurements:
Papua’s colossal natural resource wealth — its coal, gold, copper, oil, gas, and fisheries — is regarded by the state as a national security issue. But how the state regards Papua’s people is less apparent. If government policy toward Papuans is to turn them into healthy, educated citizens that participate in civil and economic life, then that policy has utterly failed. Papuans have the lowest life expectancies in Indonesia, the highest maternal and child mortality rates, the lowest educational levels, and the lowest incomes.
Government policies implicitly place Papuans into three categories of engagement: the co-opted, the traitors and the rest. Co-opted Papuan elites benefited from post-Suharto administrative reforms, when they were recruited heavily into the civil service, and even more so when state responsibilities and accompanying budgets were passed to districts. No matter that most districts lacked the capacity to provide the services they assumed responsibility for. Decentralization led to pemekaran, administrative osmosis that creates new districts at a viral rate.
These entities are created by the House of Representatives, with some lawmakers approving new districts at the behest of their political parties, in order to award a supportive local leader, often at the expense of another. New districts are theoretically supposed to be more responsive to citizens, but in Papua they are nothing but a way to access national subsidies directly and award no-show jobs to clan members. Amid the chaos of contemporary Papua, the province now has double the national average of civil servants. Papua’s special autonomy law is another boon for elites and a failure for everyone else. It returns the majority of Papua’s extracted wealth, in order to improve health, education and other services. It devolved into a slush fund, with much of the wealth absorbed by administrative costs or simply unaccounted for.
The next category is traitors. The Dutch handed over Papua to the UN in 1961 before an Indonesian administrative takeover and an engineered referendum. The area hosts the last active insurgency in Indonesia, even though it is so small that it is a law and order issue. Any imagined manifestation of treason is punished regardless: the government’s aversion to separatist symbols has led to heavy sentences for those who wave them. In an example of Orwell’s 2 + 2 = 5, the government simultaneously denies that such prisoners are political. Select security actors pursue any whiff of treason, but their rabbit hunts occur in an anarchy that is acceptable so long as indigenous leaders agitate against one another and not the state.
And then there’s the rest. In the hinterlands where most indigenous Papuans live, the presence of the state is found in shuttered schools and empty clinics. Papuans are left to their own devices, to die from easily remedied complications in pregnancy or preventable diarrheal diseases, for example. The majority of Papuans support independence because the state has no relevance in their lives.
The tools that were supposed to serve these people — decentralization, pemekaran — were flawed before they were ever put in Papuan hands, and it is no wonder that they have been completely misapplied. Indonesia’s policies toward Papua over time look less like a devolving of powers and more like an abdication of the state’s responsibility toward its poorest citizens. At the grassroots, Papuan civil servants with no-show health and education jobs are complicit in the denial of services to people who desperately need them, but the primary responsibility lies with Jakarta’s decades of neglect. Special autonomy is showcased as an example of governmental munificence, but it has been the vehicle by which Papuan elites have driven their people into a wall.
Applying the yardstick of elections to measure Indonesia’s democratic transition in Papua is even more troubling.
While many Papuan leaders are co-opted by Indonesia, they in turn have co-opted the electoral process, especially in the highlands, where up to half of the eligible voters on district-level rolls do not exist, and the ones that do exist often have their votes cast for them by unelected indigenous leaders through noken , a subversion of the democratic process dressed up as a supposedly ‘cultural’ practice. Highland district election commissions are complicit in this systematic and recurrent fraud. Noken is ironically a re-branding of the system that allowed 1,020 co-opted indigenous leaders to vote for Papua to remain in Indonesia in 1969.
This rigged system will allow a small clique of highlanders to dominate Papuan provincial and legislative politics into the foreseeable future. They will work in cooperative partnership with national-level political figures who are also leaders, or at least investors, in those same corporations that seek contracts to extract Papua’s natural wealth.
The drama of Indonesia’s presidential election has come to an end. Indonesians voted for an administrator at the expense of a king. Great strides have been made in Indonesia’s democratic transition. The benefits of such strides remain to be seen in Papua. The ballots cast freely there went overwhelmingly to Jokowi. Papuans responded to his talk of the commonweal: this was a brief flowering of democracy in a field left barren from experience, and it is perhaps the last opportunity Indonesia has to engage Papuans in a system they rightly feel excluded from.
Dostoyevsky wrote that the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. Papua is no prison, but it can serve as the same Bellwether: for the health of Indonesia’s democratic transition, the integrity of the electoral process, and for the responsibility of the state toward its poorest and least-represented citizens.
3) Time to move on from ‘military reform’ (Part 2 of 2)
Evan A. Laksmana, New York | Opinion | Tue, September 16 2014, 1:13 PM
The lack of an institutionalized integrated tri-service culture within the Indonesian Military (TNI) means that the procurement process is reduced to a shopping list for the individual services.
According to MEF documents, arms spending until 2024 divides the pie almost evenly between the army, navy and air force.
This policy however does not take into account the different operational readiness and capability requirements of each service, Indonesia’s predominantly maritime geostrategic position, and the imbalance between force sizes (the army is approximately five and ten times the size of the navy and air force respectively).
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s defense modernization has eventually been directed to better equip the services (the hardware) without overhauling the personnel system and quality (the software) and the organizational infrastructure (the operating system).
For one thing, aside from the personnel issues mentioned above, the process of doctrinal revisions — from political to tactical level — has been uneven. With the “dual function” gone and the New Paradigm in place, along with the newly revamped Total People’s Defense, combat and operational doctrines have only recently received attention.
Indeed, the TNI’s regular tri-service exercises in recent years were designed to try out different variations of its joint operations doctrine.
This process is ongoing and should be supported. But tailoring long-term arms purchases in the absence of a coherent operational doctrine undermines the notion of capability-based defense procurement.
For another, if the TNI is serious about joining the ranks of advanced militaries, the process to create the Regional Defense Joint Command — allowing the three services to be integrated under one command — to replace the existing separate territorial command structure should be accelerated.
A leaner organization oriented less toward domestic security and more toward the changing external strategic environment, staffed with better-educated and qualified officers, and guided by a coherent doctrine, can better capitalize on advanced technology.
But focusing on technological modernization alone is akin to spending generously for a new engine to be fitted onto an old car.
Bottom line, modernization does not guarantee the creation a more effective and efficient combat organization. By itself, modernization is a necessary process, but not sufficient. Equal, if not more, attention should be given to personnel development, network-centric integration of existing weapons systems and organizational overhaul.
One way to start thinking about how to design and implement these different, and arguably complex, policies is to make a gestalt switch in our conceptual basis from “military reform” to “defense transformation”.
As mandated by the 1998 democratic transition, “military reform” implies fixing certain aspects of the military’s “distorted” roles.
As we’ve seen above, this meant erasing the legacies of Soeharto’s authoritarian rule.
“Defense transformation”, on the other hand, suggests a complete overhaul of the military’s worldview, institutions and even missions and future development.
It implies an institutional and paradigm shift on how the military views and structures itself, educates and trains its members, how it equips itself, and how it plans to fight.
Also, the focus on “defense” rather than “military” implies that the actors we need to focus on bringing into the process are not just the TNI.
Civilian officials at the defense ministry, civil society groups, academics and scientists, as well as corporate officials working within the defense industrial establishment, all play a key role in shaping the transformation process.
More importantly however, defense transformation is something for the long haul — it would take around 10 to 20 years to formulate and implement.
This means that the process should not be too dependent on who the current president is. Long-term planning also helps the TNI in dealing with the sometimes unruly political process of negotiating its strategic and operational plans with the powers that be.
With this in mind, the president-elect should consider different policies to overhaul the TNI’s entire education and training system, accelerate and synchronize its organizational reform plans and doctrinal revisions, and revamp the Defense Ministry’s defense budgeting and management process, along with its acquisition and research and development practices.
These policies would lay the foundation during Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s first term for a more thorough defense transformation process. Of course, they would be better coordinated if Jokowi could make the breakthrough that Yudhoyono couldn’t — establish a professionally-led National Security Council in the absence of a long-drawn out national security bill.
That being said, critics will point out that I am omitting key “unfinished businesses” from the military reform agenda set in 1998, including the resolution of past human rights abuses, the overhaul of the military justice system and the elimination of any sense of impunity for officers acting beyond the bounds of our legal system.
The defense transformation vision offered here may not directly address these concerns head on. But overhauling the personnel and education system is a pivotal policy to prevent future human rights abuses — rather than remedy past ones — or other illegal actions taken by our officers.
More concretely, fixing promotion policies could minimize future internal dissent among the rank and file, while better education and training systems could instill a new sense of professional identity.
Replacing the territorial command structure and putting in place coherent operational doctrines could provide a new sense of mission and improve readiness amid a rapidly changing strategic environment.
In conclusion, fixating on military reform alone will hold us back in the past at a time when Jokowi’s election should give us more push to look ahead. A defense transformation agenda gives us the roadmap to do so.
The writer is a researcher with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta and a non-resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.