Friday, October 20, 2006

UN to be asked to resolve Central Sulawesi crisis?

Police said Thursday new, tougher security laws were needed to find the murderers of a Protestant minister in strife-torn Poso, Central Sulawesi.
National Police chief Gen. Sutanto said Indonesia needed an Internal Security Act (ISA) akin to those in neighboring Malaysia and Singapore if it wanted to apprehend those who were suspected of perpetrating terrorist acts in the restive Poso region.
"This regulation would enable police to arrest suspects in the terror acts with only a minimum of evidence in our hands," Sutanto told reporters.
He said such evidence could even come in the form of voice recordings of terror suspects. He added that current law requires police to have a broad range of evidence to bring suspects to court.
Indonesia already has an anti-terror law that gives security officials the authority to detain suspected terrorists for a week without a warrant.
The police chief was responding to questions on obstacles police faced in trying to capture the murderers of Rev. Irianto Kongkoli.
Kongkoli was shot dead in broad daylight early last week while visiting a marketplace in Poso. He was the latest victim in a series of violent attacks that have affected both Muslims and Christians in Poso.
Police in Poso said Thursday they had questioned 19 people but none had been arrested. "We hope we will be able to find clues in the coming days," said Central Sulawesi police chief Brig. Gen. Badrodin Haiti.
Adrianus Meliala, criminologist and senior police advisor from Kemitraan Partnership, said the 2005 anti-terror law granted police very limited rights when it came to arresting and examining suspects.
"Police can only arrest suspects under the condition that the person is highly suspicious. Then they can detain them for only up to seven days," he said Thursday.
Adrianus said the current anti-terror law only allowed the police to catch suspects near the time of attacks, rather than enabling them to anticipate and prevent violence. He echoed Sutanto's assessment that the law requires broad evidence to pursue a case against a suspect.
"This is a conventional law because to bring the criminal case to the court the police need five components, such as the perpetrator, victim, witness, expert testimony and evidence," he said.
There have been numerous cases of violence in the area over the last six years. Besides Kongkoli, two Christian ministers have been killed.
On Nov. 16, 2003, Protestant minister Orange Tadjojo was found dead with a gunshot wound. On July 18, 2004, Protestant minister Susianti Tanulele was shot while she delivered a sermon before a congregation in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province.
Sutanto's statement met with skepticism among Christian leaders in Jakarta.
Alma Shepard Supit, a Protestant minister who leads the Indonesian Forum for Interreligious Dialog, said the comments only served to reinforce suspicion that the government, and the National Police in particular, were reluctant to take drastic measures to bring security back to Poso.
"The reasoning does not make any sense and it only shows that the police chief does not have the courage to make a tough decision," Supit said in a press conference Thursday.
A number of Christian leaders also called on the government to uncover the truth behind the spate of violence in Poso and its neighboring regions.
"Should the government fail to resolve the case, we are ready to bring this case to an international forum. If need be, we will call on the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to Poso," Catholic priest Theophilus Bela said.
He added the peacekeeping force was necessary because security personnel deployed in the restive region were not entirely neutral in the conflict.
"We even suspect that some of them abet the crimes and that's why we also call on the government to start a purge of the mafia that holds sway in the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police," he added.

I wholeheartedly agreed that international intervention is needed here. You can read my previous comments on posts that the Indonesian government, military and police do not want to end the conflict. Their actions indicate that they support the Muslims only, allow the militants to continue to operate and only give lip service to the non-Muslims and international community. We need international intervention, hopefully by Australia, or some other neutral UN member.

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