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Activists slam anti-anarchy unit plan

Proposed special group is repressive, say rights leaders

Police chief General Timur Pradopo denies the detachment will create violations (photo courtesy of Tribunews) Police chief General Timur Pradopo denies the detachment will create violations (photo courtesy of Tribunews)
  • Konradus Epa, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • March 7, 2011
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Plans by the Indonesian National Police (Polri) to establish an anti-anarchy detachment to deal with religious-based violence issues has sparked criticisms among activists, saying that the unit is not the right solution.

National police chief General Timur Pradopo said Polri will set up the unit at all provincial police offices. Its framework and duties are still being discussed by Polri’s training institutions.

“The unit’s establishment will not change the problem,” Adrianus Meilala, a criminologist from the state-run University of Indonesia (UI) in Jakarta, said.

According to the Catholic layman, the problem faced by police is not unity but willingness to work and act decisively. “We must find the right medicine if we want to heal the wound. Treating the wound with the wrong medicine will be fatal,” he said.

Nurcholis, deputy head of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), agreed. “We refuse the unit’s establishment, because it will create the human rights violation,” he said.

Noting that police already have a similar unit, he suggested they should revive this existing unit and improve their ability to enforce the law. “They do not have to establish the unit.”

Bhatara Ibnu Reza from the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial) also questioned the police’s plan.

“Attacks against Ahmadiyah sect members in Cikeusik, Banten, and churches in Temanggung, Central Java, should not be the basis of the unit’s establishment. Such incidents happened before and police could prevent it. The new unit should not necessarily be set up,” he said.

Three Ahmadiyah sect members were killed during an attack by moe than 1,000 orthodox Muslims on worshippers at a house in Banten on February 6. Two days later, in Temanggung, mobs ransacked three churches after a court jailed a Christian for five years for insulting Islam. The mobs had demanded the death penalty.

Hendardi of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace said he appreciated police’s efforts to prevent religious-based violence but lamented their repressive approach. “If the unit is the option, police must have firm standards and refer to the principles of human rights in dealing with such violence,” he said.

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