Friday, November 13, 2015

1) Indonesia Won’t Slide Back Into Military Rule, Security Minister Says


2) Maritime security key focus of Indonesia-Australia joint exercise

3) West Papua: Indonesia President Fails to Lift Restrictions on Foreign Media Access 

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1) Indonesia Won’t Slide Back Into Military Rule, Security Minister Says
By JOE COCHRANENOV. 11, 2015
JAKARTA, Indonesia —  Indonesia will not allow the country’s armed forces to make a political comeback and undermine civilian rule, the country’s security minister said on Wednesday, amid growing fears that Indonesia’s nascent democracy was backsliding toward its authoritarian past.
The assertion by Luhut B. Pandjaitan, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, came as Human Rights Watch released a report on Wednesday saying that elements of the military, national police and government continued to undermine orders from Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, by restricting access to the restive eastern region of Papua to foreign journalists.

Despite his pledges of continued civilian supremacy as part of the country’s democratic transition, which began in 1999, Mr. Joko’s security forces, particularly the army and the national police, have been actively expanding their power bases, according to analysts, and unilaterally carrying out operations and crackdowns that Indonesian legal and human rights activists have derided as violating the law.
Mr. Luhut, a retired four-star general, said at a luncheon with foreign journalists that the armed forces had been stripped of dual political and security powers more than a decade ago and that there would be no going back.
“We have no plan to do so,” Mr. Luhut said. “We said: ‘You cannot play this role anymore. You have to only do military operations.’ ”
He added, “I don’t see any military involvement in civilian activities.”

Others are not so sure. Mr. Joko, who took office in October 2014, is the first Indonesian president not to have come from his country’s political elite or to have been an army general.
Analysts say that is part of the problem.
A recent report by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, based in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, said that both the armed forces and the national police “seem to be testing the political waters to see how far they can push their authority in the face of a weak president with little experience in security affairs,” especially the military.
Last month, military and police personnel on the resort island of Bali demanded that the organizers of a popular regional literary festival cancel scheduled programs, book unveilings and a documentary screening related to the killings of an estimated 500,000 or more people during state-sponsored purges of suspected Communists and their sympathizers in 1965-66.

The purges were overseen by General Suharto, who went on to become Indonesia’s president and to preside over an authoritarian, military-backed government for 32 years.
In the years after Mr. Suharto’s forced resignation in 1998, the country’s democratically elected Parliament began stripping the military of its vast powers, including eliminating its reserved legislative seats, and compelling it to sell off its business interests and to focus solely on national defense and external threats.
Yet before and since Mr. Joko took office last year, the military has managed to become increasingly involved in civilian affairs and internal security issues, including demanding a role in police counterterrorism operations against Muslim terrorist groups operating in Indonesia, taking part in government development projects in rural parts of the country and increasing its military command.

During Mr. Suharto’s rule, the armed forces, known as the T.N.I., adopted a territorial command structure in which soldiers were based in every region, all the way down to the village level, usurping the powers of local governments.
Recent public statements by senior Indonesian security officials have also caused unease.
In March, Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, the army chief of staff at the time, told a group of students that the country was facing a “proxy war” in which certain groups in the country could be used to attack the state — which analysts interpreted as meaning that the military might need to regain its internal security role.
General Gatot is now commander in chief of Indonesia’s armed forces.
In August, the defense minister, Ryamizard Ryacudu, a retired army general, announced plans to enlist and train 100 million civilian military reservists who could be deployed to defend the country — another reference to internal security threats that needed to be addressed by the armed forces, according to analysts.

“The T.N.I. is trying to play a bigger role” that was greatly diminished after Mr. Suharto’s resignation in 1998, said Sidney Jones, the director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.
In recent months, senior military and police officials have publicly questioned and in some cases ignored Mr. Joko’s instructions regarding security. In May, he announced the lifting of decades-old restrictions on foreign journalists wanting to report in Papua and West Papua Provinces, which make up the country’s poorest region despite having among Indonesia’s richest mineral resources.
Indonesian security forces have continually cracked down on a small-scale separatist movement in the Papua region for decades, on civilian groups calling for a referendum on independence, and on general public dissent against Jakarta. In December 2014, security forces shot dead five people protesting the beating of a young boy by soldiers.
In its report released on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch stated that elements of the Indonesian government and security apparatus continued to hinder access to the Papua region by foreign journalists despite Mr. Joko’s instructions.

The organization said that the national police had continued to require foreign journalists to obtain a permission letter from its security and intelligence agency, under the guise of following a law related to the monitoring of foreigners traveling in Indonesia.
Foreign journalists are also required to send a notification letter to the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating the purpose of their visit to Papua, the dates of travel and the locations they would visit, according to Human Rights Watch.
“There are elements of the government and T.N.I. that are hostile to foreign access to Papua,” said Phelim Kine, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, during a news briefing.
Mr. Luhut, the security minister, said he would take action if he were given evidence that government or security officials were obstructing foreign journalists from going to the Papua region.

“Come back to me, and if it’s necessary, we will fire them,” he said.

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2) Maritime security key focus of Indonesia-Australia joint exercise

Jumat, 13 November 2015 02:50 WIB | 526 Views
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Two Australian Navy ships from Perth have arrived in Surabaya to join the TNI-AL in a major four-day maritime security exercise to be conducted in the Java Sea.

The Royal Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Arunta and the RAN tanker HMAS Sirius are in Indonesia for Exercise New Horizon, the most important annual naval exercise of its kind between the two nations, the Australian Embassy said on its official website.

HMAS Aruntas Commanding officer Cameron Steil said he and his crew are very much looking forward to working with the TNI-AL. Our relationship with the TNI-AL and Indonesia in general remains one of the most important that we have in this region, CMDR Steil said.

"The activities we will undertake together will allow us to operate more closely with each other and to better protect our maritime interests. We share a common determination to keep our waterways secure."

Both HMAS Arunta and HMAS Sirius are based in Perth, Western Australia, which has a sister city relationship with Eastern Java.

The Commanding Officer of HMAS Sirius, Commander Darren Grogan agreed that Exercise New Horizon provides a perfect opportunity to improve regional relationships. "New Horizon is an annual exercise, but we very much appreciate the chance to work with our close neighbors," CMDR Grogan said. "This sort of interaction could indeed lead to new opportunities for both our Navies."

Exercise New Horizon will take place from November 9 to 12, both at sea and ashore. Ships will conduct refueling, communication and live fire activities together. Sailors will also participate in sporting contests and other shore based activities.

HMAS Arunta and HMAS Sirius will then head home after concluding a two-and-a-half- month long tour of the Asian region.(*)


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November 12, 2015

3) West Papua: Indonesia President Fails to Lift Restrictions on Foreign Media Access 

Despite the announcement made by Indonesia’s President Joko Widolo on 10 May 2015 affirming that the government would no longer impose restrictions on foreign media access to West Papua, the decades-long entry controls for foreign reporters, as well as UN officials and academics remain in force. Consequently, the province of West Papua continues to suffer from isolation, which gives the Indonesian security forces free reign, especially when it comes to restricting the movement of individuals suspected of being “pro-independence” by arbitrarily adding them to a visa blacklist.
 
The below article was published by UCANEWS.com:
Indonesian authorities continue to restrict foreign media access to the restive Christian-majority provinces of Papua and West Papua, despite assurances from President Joko Widodo that reporters would have unimpeded access to the region, a rights group says.
Phelim Kine, Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch, said "elements of the Indonesian government" have failed to deliver on Widodo's promise to open Papua to foreign reporters.
The New York-based rights group released on Nov. 11 a report interviewing 107 journalists, editors, publishers and representatives of domestic and international nongovernmental organizations.
Kine suggested a conspiracy was in place between the Indonesian government and security forces to keep foreign journalists out of resource-rich West Papua, where a low-level insurgency has clashed with military forces for several decades.
"There are elements within the Indonesian government and security forces that are intrinsically hostile to the concept of free media access to Papua," he said, adding that a number of senior government and military officials intensely opposed opening the region to foreign media.
"This is an ongoing problem. There is no clear process," he added.
He said that President Widodo has prioritized development in Papua as a way to provide stability and to appease local citizens' dissatisfaction with the government.
Kine said that government officials have acknowledged that open access to information is key to Papua's development. "But what's clear is that they are unwilling or hesitate or suspicious about what opening [the region] to the media might bring in terms of having some influence on the separatist movement in Papua," he said.
In addition, Indonesian journalists were "extremely vulnerable to intimidation, harassment and violence" by the government, security forces, and pro-independence groups, he said.
Father Neles Tebay, coordinator of the Papua Peace Network, told ucanews.com that harassment of journalists in Papua is common.
"Indeed, Indonesian journalists in Papua — both the Papuans and those coming from other regions — often face cruel treatment if they write something that annoys the government," he said.
Still, the people in Papua have other avenues to distribute information with or without the help of a foreign media presence in the region, he said.
"In terms of the distribution of information, the presence of foreign journalists in Papua doesn't have real influences. Whatever happens in Papua, they can be distributed through social media. So there's nothing that can be hidden in Papua. The Internet is already here. It can't be blocked," he said.
Andreas Harsono, an Indonesian researcher for Human Rights Watch, said foreign journalists are routinely hassled when applying for visas. A British journalist applied five months ago for access to the region and still hasn't heard back from Indonesian authorities, he said.
Harsono called on Widodo to formally lift restrictions on foreign media access to Papua and direct all government and security officials to immediately comply with the order.
Photo courtesy of UCANEWS.com

Click here to read the Human Rights Watch’s report ‘Something to Hide? Indonesia’s Restrictions on Media Freedom and Rights Monitoring in Papua’ published on 10 November 2015. 

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