Friday, October 27, 2006

Vice president: Grant more power to Poso police

Jusuf Kalla said new anti-terrorism laws were needed to restore peace to the area. The response of civil society: first the government should discover those truly responsible for sectarian clashes that took place between 1999 and 2001.
Makassar (AsiaNews) – Violence in Poso in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi will not stop unless new anti-terror legislation is drawn up and applied in the region, said Indonesia’s Vice President, Jusuf Kalla. He is also the man behind the Malino Peace Accord that was meant to put an end to bloody conflict between Muslims and Christians in Poso in 2001. However, residents feel a more urgent step would be in-depth, transparent investigations to discover those truly responsible for igniting that violence, as no names have come out as yet.
Speaking in Makassar, South Sulawesi, after celebrations marking the end of Ramadan, Kalla described the security forces as “impotent” to tackle terrorist acts in the area, the most recent being the killing of a Protestant pastor on 16 October. The vice-president said he believed it was necessary to apply anti-terrorism laws similar to the Malaysian International Security Act (ISA). He said: “In this way, the police will be able to capture terrorist suspects more easily on the basis of far less legal evidence and thus guarantee peace and order.” He added: “What has happened recently in Poso is terrorism and adequate measures are needed to face it.”
Kalla’s statements came after the police chief, General Sutanto, said his men were having problems to manage Poso because of the inadequacy of laws at their disposal.
After violent clashes last week between police and residents of the Muslim village of Gebang Rejo, many called for the withdrawal of security forces from Poso but Kalla persisted in stressing the need for their presence.
But exponents of civil society in Poso believe that what is really needed to bring peace back to the province is to discover those truly responsible for inter-faith clashes between 1999 and 2001, but it appears as if the authorities have no intention of doing so. Among those calling for the truth are Adnan Arsal, chairman of the Poso Muslim Brotherhood Forum, the governor of central Sulawesi and the Christian community.

Adnan Arsal of the Poso Islamic Struggle Brotherhood Forum and Sugiyanto Kaimudin of the Islamic Defenders Front are leading the terrorism in Poso at the moment. I don't see how Adnan would want the truth to come out. He is linked with the slaughter of Christians in Central Sulawesi and associated with Jemaah Islamiyah, Laskar Jihad and Islamic Defenders Front. Many of his former students at his boarding school (pesantren) are militants/terrorists. He calls for the removal of security forces and biased police. Why? What is he hiding? The fact that they are trying to build a militia to put all political power in the hands of Muslims and eradicate all Christians out of Central Sulawesi? The police are not biased. It's only Muslims causing the terror. Why should Christians be investigated if they are the victims and remaining calm, waiting for the police to catch the perpetrators? The police should be able to do their jobs now that there isn't a militant backer as the vice-president anymore. Laskar Jihad supporter ex-VP Hamzah Haz is gone now.

These men and their groups need to be eradicated out of Central Sulawesi. The names of those who are responsible for the conflict are available but the government doesn't want to prosecute them. People like Arief Patanga and his brother Agfar, Aliansa Tompo and others come to mind. This resulted in three Christians being executed instead as scapegoats for those responsible. The government wants this problem to just go away because they are covering up their involvement. The local people know this and don't want to let the government get away with this. Military and politicians should be standing trial for their parts in the conflict. Until the militants are gone and the people of Central Sulawesi can see some justice and get some closure, the conflict is going to continue.

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