Human rights allegations over torture at Poso, Central Sulawesi, portrayed in a YouTube video. Source: Al Jazeera English.
Report – By Yeremia Sukoyo of the Jakarta Globe
Indonesia’s National Police counterterrorism unit, Densus 88, should not use its success in fighting terrorism as justification to violate human rights, a rights activist says.
“Just because [they're] police, they can’t treat suspects as though they’re not citizens. That’s just like the colonial police,” Mardjono Reksodiputro, the secretary of the National Law Commission, said during a discussion on whether Densus 88 should be disbanded.
“Densus 88 should not use its success to justify violations of human rights.”
Densus 88 (Detachment 88) has been controversial in Australia because of questions over the partially Australian-funded training for the counterterrorism unit.
Mardjono said that Densus 88, as a special unit of the National Police, was not part of the military, and its members were given special authority to carry weapons and are entitled to use force only when necessary.
“However, they still have to conduct themselves in line with the law. Densus 88′s attitude [toward suspects] has created quite a stir. The violence [they have] committed in their anti-terror activities is excessive,” Mardjono.
Although he agreed that acts excessive violence had been committed, Mardjono said that the idea to disband Densus 88 was too radical, saying that
the torture occurred because members of Densus 88 failed to followprocedure.
“The idea to disband Densus 88 is too radical. We consider [the human rights violations] a mistake committed by Densus. The police should consider this as criticism that it should listen to,” Mardjono said.
He added that Densus 88 officers who were proven guilty of committing violations should be given heavier punishment that regular police officers accused of similar offences. He said this was necessary because Densus was a force that carried out a special task for the state.
The National Police have faced mounting pressure to disband Densus 88 following the emergence of a video recording that showed members of Densus 88
tying up, shooting, trampling on and verbally insulting a suspected terrorist.
However, police said they would not bow to the pressure until Indonesia was guaranteed free from terrorists.
“The National Police chief will definitely disband Densus if somebody can guarantee that the country will be free from terrorists,” said National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar, who also attended the discussion.
He said police had examined the video and confirmed that the incident did take place in Poso, Central Sulawesi, in 2007.
But Boy defended the National Police, who, he said, were at the time the video was taken enforcing the law after terrorists had decapitated three local schoolgirls.
“We already knew about the incident [in the video footage]. Poso has long become a hotbed of conflicts. Dozens of victims have died. The law had to be enforced to provide protection for other groups of the community,” Boy said.
Change approach call
Din Syamsuddin, the chairman of Muhammadiyah, the country’s second-largest Islamic organisation, called on the National Police to change their approach to fighting terrorism.
“The fight against terrorism has been stigmatised as [a fight against] Islam. That’s why a change is needed to prevent human rights violations from being committed,” Din said in Lamongan, East Java.
He also asked the National Police not to use terror in fighting terrorism and called on the force to be more professional and to involve the
people in the fight against terrorism.
Din said he did not want to get into a debate with the police about the taped incident.
“The best thing for the National Police to do right now is to admit they made a mistake and change their approach toward fighting terrorism by not using terror,” hesaid.
The Central Sulawesi Police have detained five of their personnel over the alleged torture of the suspected terrorists after the video was uploaded to YouTube.
Source: Jakarta Globe