154-155, November 1999
Bulletin no. 154 - 155
2. East Timor wins its independence [text unavailable]
3. East Timor: How many people died? [text unavailable]
4. East Timor: Nationalist backlash and the Indonesian press [text unavailable]
5. East Timorese trapped in West Timor [text unavailable]
6. East Timor: Observing the fear and terror [text unavailable]
7. Xanana and Horta on Timor's future [text unavailable]
8. UN Commission of inquiry set up [text unavailable]
11. Legislation setbacks since Suharto ousted [text unavailable]
12. West Papua's fake referendum [text unavailable]
13. West Papua: Splitting the people into three [text unavailable]
14. Britain must share the blame [text unavailable]
15. Aceh: Killings and disappearances escalate [text unavailable]
TAPOL has written to newly elected President Wahid and Vice-President Megawati calling on them to put the observance of human rights at the heart of their Government’s policy. Our lengthy agenda is indicative of the parlous human rights situation inherited by the new Government and the drastic need for fundamental institutional and legislative changes. The letter reads as follows:
We congratulate you warmly on your election as Indonesia's President and Vice-President. We welcome this as the beginning of a new era bringing an end to the bleak years of the Suharto military dictatorship. In the spirit of reformasi which we believe should dominate the new Government's programme, we call on you to take the following measures in order to ensure that human rights observance is at the heart of your Government's policy:
Release all Political Prisoners
Scores of people are still in prison on political charges. They include dozens of people being held in Aceh and West Papua (Irian Jaya) as well as at least twenty people being held in prisons in Java.
We draw attention in particular to sixteen East Timorese prisoners held in Semarang prison of whom three have been in prison since 1991. They should be released forthwith and returned home to East Timor under the protection of the International Red Cross. We also demand the immediate release of the six prisoners arrested in 1996 as leaders or activists of the Partai Rakyat Demokratik (PRD) or related mass organisations.
Violators should not go unpunished
Ever since Suharto seized power in 1965, impunity has protected members of the security forces from due process and punishment for crimes against innocent and defenceless people.
Your Government will only be able make a true break with the New Order years if it ends impunity by:
Setting up independent commissions of inquiry to investigate grave incidents such as the Tanjung Priok Massacre in September 1984, the Lampung killings in 1987 and the killing of six Trisakti students in May 1998.
Revoking Presidential Decree in Lieu of Law enacted in September 1999 to establish a Human Rights Court (which allows exemptions for suspects from the security forces) and replacing it with a law to create a human rights court to try all those responsible for crimes against humanity during the New Order and since.
Conducting investigations into the serious human rights abuses in East Timor and bringing those responsible to justice in Indonesian or international courts
Co-operating fully with the UN's international commission of inquiry into human rights abuses in East Timor set up under UN Human Rights Commission Resolution adopted on 27 September 1999 and with any subsequent decision by the UN Security Council to set up an ad hoc international criminal tribunal.
Initiating comprehensive investigations into the massacres perpetrated in the months following Suharto's seizure of power in 1965 when at least half a million people were slain, with a view to bringing all those responsible, including former President Suharto, to justice.
Conducting a thorough investigation into the disappearance of thirteen pro-democracy activists who were abducted in the months prior to Suharto's downfall. The families of the 'disappeared' should be told without delay whether they are alive or dead, and all those responsible should be brought to justice.
Conducting investigations into the thousands of human rights abuses perpetrated in Aceh during the period of DOM (military operations region) and all those responsible brought to justice.
Conducting investigations into many thousands of human rights abuses perpetrated in West Papua since the territory became Indonesia's 26th province in 1969 following a fraudulent 'act of free choice', with special emphasis on the abuses during the 1990s, and all those responsible brought to justice.
Repeal anti-human rights legislation
The Indonesian Criminal Code contains a number of articles which provide for persons to be charged and convicted for political activities. These include the 'hate-sowing' articles and articles which make it an offence to 'insult' the head of state or government officials. They also include six articles which were incorporated into the Criminal Code in April this year when the anti-subversion law was repealed, making it an offence to try to replace the Pancasila or to promote Marxist/Leninist teachings, the effect being that the basis for charging people for their political beliefs under the anti-subversion law has now become part of the Criminal Code.
All these articles should be repealed so as to safeguard citizens' right to engage in peaceful political activity without fear of arrest and conviction.
The Law on States of Emergency adopted by the previous Parliament but not signed into law by the former President should be scrapped and the 1959 law on states of emergency should be revoked.
Reform of the Judiciary
During the Suharto era and the Habibie transitional administration, a number of organs having no basis in law or in the Constitution were created, such as Bakorstanas(da) (the National Stability Coordinating Council) and the Dewan Pemantapan Keamanan dan Sistem Hukum (Council to Consolidate Security and the System of Law), both of which are dominated by the military. Such bodies should be dissolved without delay.
The Indonesian Judiciary is notorious for corruption and for its deep penetration by the military, as a result of which trials for political activities or corruption are heavily biased against the accused and the verdicts usually fixed in advance. An overhaul of the Judiciary is essential if Indonesia is to become a state based not on political power or bribery but on the rule of law. The Government should take steps to initiate a comprehensive reform of the Judiciary, in the meanwhile ensuring that all persons occupying key positions are beyond reproach and not susceptible to influence by special interests.
End TNI’s political control through territorial commands
During the 34 years of Suharto's authoritarian rule and the 17 months of the Habibie transitional administration, the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) have maintained a tight grip on the population by means of the army's territorial structure. The TNI now plans to reinforce this structure by increasing the number of regional military commands (kodam), the district military commands (kodim) and lower-echelon commands. The TNI's military intelligence agency BAIS spies on citizens, spreads disinformation, blacklists people from entering or leaving the country on political grounds and exerts a repressive influence on political life through its covert operations.
The TNI's territorial structure should be dismantled, BAIS dissolved, and the Indonesian army, navy and air force should confine their activities to defending the state against the threat of external aggression, operating strictly under civilian control.
All so-called 'non-organic' troops being deployed in Aceh, West Papua and elsewhere where opposition to central control is intensifying should be withdrawn immediately. The Government should instead embark on a policy of dialogue with representatives of these restive communities.
Although the Indonesian Police (POLRI) has been separated from the TNI, it is still under the control of the Defence and Security Minister/Commander-in-chief of the TNI. In order to ensure that Polri functions to protect citizens and not to restrict legitimate social or political protest, the Government should immediately place the force under a civilian authority. Police training should be overhauled, ending the militarist ideology that now dominates.
The arrest of ten Kopassus soldiers by INTERFET forces is proof of the overwhelming involvement of this elite force in the terror and violence in East Timor during the past two decades. The two weeks of violence that ravaged East Timor after the results of the referendum were announced was the responsibility of Kopassus and their proxies, the militia gangs.
Much has been written about the Kopassus/militia alliance and its role as a killing machine but nobody, perhaps not even the armed forces (TNI) leadership in Jakarta, imagined that it would descend to such a level of barbarity. In just two weeks, these murderous bandits had driven virtually the entire East Timorese population from their homes, killing hundreds or perhaps thousands of defenceless people. This can only be understood in the context of the structural relationship between the militia forces and their evil masters, the Kopassus elite troops.
Kopassus and East Timor
The involvement of Kopassus, the elite red-beret force, in East Timor started before the invasion. General Benny Murdani who planned the invasion was a senior officer of RPKAD as Kopassus was then known. Its role intensified as it became apparent that the resistance was far stronger than had been anticipated and it would take longer than expected to subjugate the East Timorese. Kopassus became the key player in the war against the East Timorese.
The average territorial soldier is not trained for the type of war needed to counter a guerrilla force like Falintil, the armed wing of the East Timorese resistance. Specially trained combat forces like Kostrad, the army’s strategic command, and Kopassus were needed. Since 1975, every Kopassus soldier and officer has served, often repeatedly, in East Timor. During the eighties and mid-nineties, a tour of combat duty in East Timor was the stepping-stone for an officer’s career prospects. Everyone who reached the top was an East Timor veteran, in most cases with a Kopassus background. By the early nineties the armed forces HQ was stuffed with high-ranking Kopassus officers.
East Timor as training ground
Kopassus soldiers are known to be tough. One initiation rite is to travel from the north coast to the south coast of Java armed only with a knife, survival training that is modelled on SAS in the UK and the Green Berets in the US.
After the invasion, East Timor became the training and battle ground for Kopassus which sustained many casualties in encounters with Falintil. A retired TNI general recently estimated that ten or eleven thousand Indonesian soldiers have fallen in battle which explains why Kopassus have behaved with such brutality in East Timor.
Even in calm periods, serving in East Timor has been comparable to doing service in a war-zone. Every East Timorese was regarded as a suspect; the culture of violence was more extreme than anywhere else though lately the situation in Aceh has moved in the same direction. After serving in East Timor, soldiers are psychologically de-briefed before returning to normal duties in Indonesia. Such brutal treatment, while used occasionally in Indonesia, is what the East Timorese have always had to endure.
Up to the early eighties the basic Kopassus credo was never to take prisoners: all captives were tortured, interrogated and killed. Until very recently, Kopassus had its own interrogation centres throughout East Timor. These SGI centres were regarded as chambers of horror by the East Timorese. It was only after the 1983 talks between the East Timorese resistance forces and the Indonesian military that Kopassus reluctantly agreed to hand their captives over for detention and trial.
The dual command structure
The TNI leadership created a special command structure for the military occupation of East Timor. Combat operations were handled by Kostrad and Kopassus under orders from Jakarta while the territorial structure, as elsewhere in Indonesia, came under the regional command.
The special combat structure came into being soon after the invasion. In 1976 a special command called Kohankam was set up; its name changed in 1984 to Koopskam and in 1989 to Kolakops. In 1993 Kolakops was dissolved but its functions were secretly transferred to Kopassus Group 3.
The combat structure has always been dominant though operational strategies have changed. In the first fifteen years of the occupation TNI launched many large-scale military operations to obliterate the guerrillas but Falintil has survived, thanks to its deep roots in society and its strategy of mobile guerrilla warfare, maintaining no permanent base. For many years East Timor was the only place where Indonesian troops and Kopassus soldiers could practise their combat training.
By the early nineties the resistance had developed a strong urban base known as the clandestine front, consisting mainly of young people. They took many actions against the forces of occupation, frequently attracting world attention. Gradually, the command structure switched, combating not only the guerrillas but also the urban resistance. The clandestine network also spread to several Indonesian university cities.
The main thrust of Kopassus operations is counter-insurgency. Everyone is seen as a potential target, the people in the bush as well as civilians in the towns. Creating militia forces was a logical consequence of this strategy, to get Timorese to fight Timorese.
Kopassus Groups 3, 4 and 5
Initially Kopassus consisted of three groups. Groups 1 and 2 were predominantly combat troops similar to combat troops anywhere in the world. Group 3 came into being in 1963, with additional training in counter insurgency, including interrogation techniques and torture methods. The SGI centres in East Timor were attached to Group 3. Increasingly the two lines of command in East Timor were headed by commanders from Kopassus’ Group 3, with many lower-level territorial commanders also coming from the same force. In other words, Kopassus represented the core of the army of occupation.
After Prabowo, Suharto’s son-in-law, became Kopassus commander in 1995, he increased the strength of Kopassus to 7,000 troops by 1998, almost double its earlier size. Prabowo’s prowess as an elite force officer reached his peak in the closing years of the Suharto era, a period of huge labour strikes and demonstrations as pressure gre for Suharto to stand down. To deal with the growing unrest, Prabowo established Groups 4 and 5, most of whose members were recruited from Group 3. Group 4 and 5 members were trained in German anti-terrorist methods, Prabowo being one of the few Indonesian officers to train with the prestigious GSG anti-terrorist squad in Germany. One distinctive feature of Groups 4 and 5 are that the members do not wear uniforms.
Group 4 focuses on infiltrating opposition groups and act as provocateurs. They grow their hair long, dress shabbily, set up secret cells and sometimes carry out assassinations. Terror and violence are their stock in trade and they frequently recruit criminals as auxiliaries.
Group 5 is not unlike Group 4 but was set up to kidnap or kill influential opposition figures in the closing years of Suharto’s rule. In August 1998 Prabowo admitted to a military investigation team that he was responsible for a number of kidnappings and disappearances. He and two other senior Kopassus officers were removed from their posts, Prabowo was dismissed from the army and 11 Kopassus Group 5 members were tried and given minor sentences. They were known as Tim Mawar (Rose Team).
The activities of Groups 4 and 5 are shrouded in mystery. After Prabowo’s dismissal, several Group 4 and 5 platoons were reported as having defected. Since then, there has been talk of ‘phantom’ troops operating in Aceh and Maluku, which suggests that the ‘disappeared’ Kopassus platoons may still be operating though no one knows who is in command.
Rotten to the core
Kopassus, formerly called the RPKAD and then Kopassandha, is elite in every sense. One Kopassus soldier is said to equal four average soldiers. In the early sixties RPKAD was seen as the army’s best unit, modelled along the lines of KST, a Dutch elite unit. But later on, the US green berets became the model as Kopassus troops relied on the US for all its training.
Throughout its history its men have enjoyed superior treatment, better uniforms and barracks, more high tech equipment and higher pay with extra bonuses. It was Prabowo’s dream to provide every Kopassus soldier with high tech training, with a Heckler and Koch semi-automatic rifle and a hand-held computer for communications.
At the start of the Suharto era in October 1965, Brigadier-General Sarwo Edhy, the RPKAD commander, was ordered by General Suharto to unleash a wave of killings in Central Java; Muslim gangs quickly joined, spreading the killings to East Java. Between half a million and one million people died in the slaughter.
This was when violence and impunity became the hallmark of the New Order. The RPKAD had become a killing machine that could do what it liked without taking the con-sequences. Assured of impunity, Kopassus soldiers got into the habit of behaving like animals in war zones like East Timor and Aceh.
The years of rapid economic growth opened up new vistas for Kopassus soldiers. Businesses in the big cities needed protection and hired the services of Kopassus soldiers; partnerships were formed in the country’s industrial and business centres between these troops and organised crime. They also recruited local thugs, including members of the notorious youth group Pemuda Pancasila, for the more distasteful political jobs. Kopassus involvement with organised crime and the mafia became structural. Leading businessmen, the cronies of Suharto, hired Kopassus soldiers as bodyguards or chauffeurs. The private bodyguard of forestry tycoon Bob Hasan was from Kopassus.
Little is known about how Prabowo financed the rapid expansion of Kopassus or the expanded training and education programme for Kopassus officers who were sent to universities in Europe and the US. One likely source for this and later for secret Kopassus operations, including the recent operations in East Timor, is the Suharto clique, includ-ing Prabowo’s business-woman wife, Titiek Suharto and his older brother Hashim Djojohadikusumo. Kopassus also had its own businesses, including a shopping mall in Jakarta, but the economic meltdown after 1997 may have had a damaging effect on these sources of funding.
The birth of the new militia
The relationship between militia groups and Kopassus is structural [see ‘The army’s dirty war in East Timor’, TAPOL Bulletin No. 153, July 1999]. Habibie’s decision in January to hold a referendum in East Timor led to the creation of militia units in all the thirteen districts (kabupaten). Most of the 11,000 militiamen were trained in West Timor by Group 4 and 5 Kopassus members. Most members of the militias were non-Timorese from other parts of Indonesia, the dregs of society, including criminals especially released from prison.
These new militia gangs or death squads included Besi Merah Putih (red-and-white steel) in Liquisa, Aitarak (thorn) in Dili, Dadurus in Maliana and Mahidi (dead or alive with integration) in Ainaro. These are the thugs who, with their Kopassus masters, were responsible for the killings and devastation that grew in intensity during 1999 and came to a terrifying climax in September 1999.
Operasi Sapu Jagad-I fails
There were two military operations called Sapu Jagad (universal sweep). The first was launched in January 1999; the second took over after the result of the referendum was announced on 4 September.
Operasi Sapu Jagad I targeted the CNRT, the pro-independence umbrella organisation, and influential mem-bers of society, the aim being to intimidate the population into supporting autonomy. It was hoped that months of vio-lence would discourage people from registering and voting, to show to the world that the East Timorese rejected the ref-erendum. Most TNI officers actually believed that Sapu Jagad would work.
Since Habibie’s announcement in January, opinions have been divided as to why leading TNI generals accepted the move. The majority, including almost all Kopassus officers, could not accept the prospect of ‘losing’ East Timor and they would go to any lengths to prevent this from happening.
But what about commander-in-chief General Wiranto? What was his role in organising, training and supplying the militia? The training of around 11,000 militia in West Timor could never have gone ahead without his knowledge and consent. General Wiranto, an astute political strategist, wanted a win-win situation. As defence minister, he supported the referendum, believing, like Habibie, that the East Timor issue had cost Indonesia far too much internationally, politically and economically. But as TNI commander-in-chief, Wiranto supported the military intelligence/Kopassus strategy of ensuring a vote for autonomy. The key men in charge, Major-General Zacky Anwar Makarim and Major-General Sjafrie Sjamsuddin, were both appointed by him.
Operasi Sapu Jagad-II
After the referendum results were announced on 4 September, the militias and their Kopassus bosses unleashed a scorched-earth policy of gigantic proportions. Para-military forces joined the fray, along with six TNI battalions, including two notorious local battalions, 744 and 745. Altogether about 15,000 men were involved. Without such a large contingent of men, it could never have taken hold so rapidly.
Although Sapu Jagad-II sought to create the impression that this was a spontaneous outpouring of anger by pro-Indonesia forces, there is overwhelming evidence that the destruction was a well-prepared military operation. In many places, villagers were forced to destroy and burn their own neighbourhoods, even their own houses. The aim was to destroy as much as possible and punish the pillars of the pro-independence movement. The Catholic Church, which had given sanctuary to fleeing East Timorese throughout the occupation, was one of the main targets.
General Wiranto may not have been aware of the scale of Sapu Jagad II, but within days, things had gone too far for him to rein in the monster he had helped to create. He was visibly shocked when he visited Dili with five Security Council ambassadors on 11 September. This was when he decided that he could no long withstand world pressure for international intervention.
The main villains
For most of 1999, the man in charge was Major-General Zacky Anwar Makarim, until January 1999 head of BIA (renamed BAIS in April 1999), the military intelligence agency, who was the most senior officer on the ground in East Timor. After initially operating undercover, he was given official status when Wiranto appointed him as the TNI liaison officer with UNAMET. Zacky has had a long involvement with East Timor and served as an intelligence officer from 1983 to 1989; he is the proto-type of an officer who combines a Kopassus background with years of intelligence experience.
The other key officers were Major-General Syafrie Syamsuddin, Brig.-General Mahidin Simbolon and Major-General Adam Damiri.
Major-General Syafrie Syamsuddin also combines Kopassus combat and intelligence experience. He graduated from the military academy in 1974 and first saw duty in East Timor in 1976. He was a member of what became known as the ‘nanggala’ teams, the Kopassus counter-insurgency units which became infamous throughout East Timor for their unremitting acts of terror and brutality. Syafrie attended a special intelligence course in the US in 1977 and later received anti-terrorist training there in 1986. During the Santa Cruz massacre in 1991, he was head of Kopassus intelligence in East Timor and is widely believed to have been the key man behind the massacre.
Brig-General Mahidin Simbolon, also from the class of 1974, has spent at least eight years in East Timor, including six tours of duty and between 1975 and 1997, eventually becoming military commander (Danrem Wirad-harme 164). He took part in the invasion of East Timor in December 1975. Mahidin Simbolon took the credit for arresting Xanana Gusmao in 1992 for which he was promoted to colonel. From 1993-1995 he headed intelligence at Kopassus. After his tour of duty as Dili commander, he retained his close connection with East Timor by being appointed chief-of-staff of Kodam IX Udayana, the military command in Bali, a post he still occupies.
These three officers are all very close to Prabowo whose connections with East Timor extend much farther and deeper than any other Kopassus officer. Sjafrie and Mahidin graduated from the military academy in 1974 together with Prabowo while Zacky Anwar from the class of ‘71 is a close personal friend of Prabowo’s family.
Major-General Adam Damiri has also a Kopassus background but served most of his military life in Kostrad uniform. He is currently commander of Kodam IX Udayana and together with chief-of-staff Simbolon, facilitated the training of militias in West Timor. The logistics, financial support and weaponry for the militia mostly went through this territorial command. Throughout the two Sapu Jagad operations, intelligence, combat and territorial activities were closely co-ordinated.
Now that these operations have ended, Adam Damiri is encouraging TNI soldiers of East Timorese origin to shed their uniforms and fight a guerrilla war against independent East Timor. These openly subversive plans are based in West Timor which is under Damiri’s command.
The second echelon operators
Two lower-ranking officers involved were: Lt.-Colonel Nugroho and Lt.-Colonel Yayak Sudradjat, both Kopassus intelligence officers. Yayak Sudradjat was involved in the Liquisa bloodbath in April. They worked closely with territorial officers, including Colonel Tono Suratman, the military commander of Korem 164 Wiradharma of East Timor and the thirteen district commanders. Many interna-tional observers who were in East Timor for the ballot have testified to the involvement of TNI territorial units in supporting the militia.
Another key operator was Colonel Gerhan Lantara, commander of the notorious Airborne Brigade Brigif Linud 17. This Kostrad brigade was one of the first units parachuted into Dili in 1975. He has a long history of service in East Timor with Prabowo. During the peaceful demonstration that preceded the Santa Cruz massacre on 12 November 1991, Lantara infiltrated the crowd. When he was spotted behaving provocatively, someone slashed him with a knife. He was flown out of East Timor within hours and ‘disappeared’ for several years. Mystery surrounded his absence from the official inquiry into the massacre in 1992. [See TAPOL Bulletin No 108, December 1991.] In 1996 he re-emerged as commander of Kopassus intelligence, after having been protected all those years by Prabowo. He later re-appeared in East Timor as the officer in charge of sector A (Dili and surroundings). Although sectors A, B, and C had been formally disbanded many years earlier when the operational command called Koopskam was disbanded, the structure remained in place.
The International Commission of Inquiry should look closely at the role of all these officers and build up cases against them with the help of personal testimonies from East Timorese.
TNI in a crisis of its own making
Operasi Sapu Jagad was clearly a disaster for the TNI, and in political terms, its worst ever blunder. Although seasoned Indonesia watchers have known the capacity of the Indonesian army for unrelenting brutality, it was this campaign that finally exposed it to worldwide opprobrium. Now at last, governments around the world which have shamelessly fostered ties with this killer force are themselves realising that it will have to be called to account for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Domestically, the TNI is being widely condemned for its numerous acts of barbarism, dating back to the 1965/1966 massacre.
At the same time, tensions within the TNI are manifold and Wiranto’s efforts to hold the factions together are proving increasing difficult. He tried to project a good image in May 1998 when he ditched Suharto and opted for reformasi. Foreign governments were impressed by what they saw as his leanings towards democracy. But the two weeks of terror in East Timor changed everything. He claims that the referendum was lost because of vote-rigging by East Timorese local staff working for UNAMET and argues that his troops were unable to stop the militia violence because of a ‘psychological barrier’ which prevented them from firing at their ‘comrade-in-arms’. Such explanations impress few people in the world at large and not many people at home either. But they may be able to hold the TNI together, until the next disaster occurs.
There have been two dramatic eventsin Indonesia in the past seventeen months, the fall of Suharto and the loss of East Timor. In both cases, TNI, the armed forces, played a disastrous role. Never in the history of the Republic has the TNI been so discredited. A closer look at the TNI and its chang-ing policies will help reach a better understanding of what is happening.
In the TNI’s own jargon, they are busy ‘repositioning, redefining and revitalising’ themselves. Earlier this year they came up with ‘four new paradigms’ which were described as its ‘new conceptual framework’ (see also TAPOL Bulletin No. 152, May 1999). They were designed to confront the post-Suharto era, an era which for the military has been dogged with uncertainties. The economic meltdown starting in 1997 and the political crisis ending with the ousting of Suharto in May 1998 created a situation of great confusion for the average TNI soldier.
By and large, Indonesian academics are not very impressed with the TNI’s new concept. LIPI, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, has called the reforms ‘half-hearted’, accusing the TNI of being unwilling to go all the way for reformasi, the main slogan of the post Suharto era. As LIPI sees it, using terms like ‘power sharing’ and ‘role sharing’, means that the TNI still insists on playing a role in politics. Mahrus Irsyam, a senior researcher at the University of Indonesia, goes further and sees the new paradigms as being the same as the New Order, a continuum of the Java-centrist outlook that has dominated Indonesia for the last three decades.
Critics see the new paradigms as just a rephrasing of the Suharto doctrines which were defined in Javanese as: Ing ngarso sung tulodo, ing madya mangun karso, tut wuri handayani (set an example from the front, work hard in the middle, and steer from the behind). These concepts are rooted in feudal Javanese tradition and reflect a very militaristic way of thinking.
Many analysts have come to the conclusion that the TNI is in limbo. Suharto’s removal created huge problems. Most officers as the top were chosen not because of skills and experience but because of loyalty towards the old man. After two generations, the TNI brass are yes-men, only able to think in doctrines and act on orders from above.
New name, a break with the past?
In April, Wiranto announced that ABRI would change its name back to TNI (Tentara Nasional Indonesia), which was its name in the early years of the Republic. In his Address to the MPR on 15 October, President Habibie, speaking also as the armed forces supreme commander, said that the change in name was intended ‘ to draw a clear line between the ABRI of the past and the TNI of the present and future’, adding: ‘(W)e have all seen how ABRI has been the target of many criticisms for its role in the past.’ But to demonstrators on the streets of Jakarta or Acehnese villagers watching terrified as troops ‘sweep through’ their vil-lages, there has been no break with the past.
On the surface other things have changed as well but a closer look shows how skin deep these changes are. Polri, the Police Force has been separated from the armed forces (see TAPOL Bulletin No. 153, July 1999) but it still falls under the authority of the Defence Ministry. The TNI commander-in-chief Wiranto is concurrently Defence Minister which makes Polri’s independence even more dubious.
The infamous term sospol, (sosial-politik), a euphemism for military meddling in daily life, has been expunged and replaced by the term territorial. The powerful position of Assospol, assistant for social-political affairs, has been replaced by Aster, assistant for territorial affairs. Most of the discussion within TNI centres around redefining and revi-talising its sospol and territorial tasks.
Suharto-isation of the TNI
In the early eighties, the TNI underwent a major overhaul; the territorial structure was drastically slimmed down. This was the work of the then armed forces commander-in- chief, General Benny Murdani. The three regional upper commands (Kowilhan) were dissolved and the seventeen regional commands (Kodam) were reduced to ten. The strike force component consisting of Kopassus and Kostrad were enlarged and modernised. The philosophy behind the reorganisation was simple: security-wise Indonesia is simply too big a country to be handled through a territorial structure and when unrest erupts anywhere, the centre needs to deploy special forces to quell the unrest. For many years, this Genghis Khan approach worked; the bottom line was to strike the right level of fear among the population.
Things changed after Suharto fell. Scenes of students in the big cities fighting with sticks against the military or the police have become quite common. People in Aceh have, over and over again, shown their defiance of military brutality and are fighting back. The referendum in East Timor boosted the morale of many people in regions demanding more autonomy.
The reorganisation of the eighties was meant to professionalise the armed forces. But by the end of the eighties, the work of General Benny Murdani had been overtaken by events. The Suharto family started to emerge as the dominant force in the economy as well as in politics. The TNI was transformed into a ‘palace army’. Top generals were no longer selected on quality and professionalism but on loyalty towards the Suharto family. The present TNI leadership still reflects that kind of cronyism. The three top generals: Wiranto (armed forces c-in-c), Sugiono (armed forces chief of the general staff) and Subagyo (army chief of staff) were all former commanders of Suharto’s Palace Guard or presidential aides.
General Benny Murdani, loyal to Suharto for many years, was unceremoniously ditched in 1988 when he criticised the business activities of Tutut Suharto, the eldest daughter.
Privatising the TNI
Things grew worse when it was decided in 1988 that strategic companies needed special protection. TNI units developed special relations with ‘strategic’ companies like the high-tech military industrial complex and private companies like Freeport/Rio Tinto in West Papua. TNI soldiers became security guards for these companies, on their payroll.
Until the early eighties the several military components, the territorial commands, Kostrad, and Kopassus had their own string of private companies to raise money. But globalisation brought many of these companies to their knees because of mismanagement, corruption and inability to compete in the free market. Many generals became increasingly reliant on one or more companies or conglomerates. While low-ranking officers supplemented their meagre wages by moonlighting as security guards or store detectives, top gen-erals became the errand boys of big business.
There is a stark difference between the seventies and nineties. In the earlier years of the Orde Baru, the sky was the limit for TNI officers. Super-rich generals were part of the Jakarta jet set. But in the nineties, most of the super-rich were Suharto cronies, while military business ventures were in decline. The TNI had to supplement their earnings from schemes mentioned above as well as getting involved in organised crime. Illegal gambling dens, prostitution, drugs, protection-rackets in shopping malls became money-spinners for the TNI. Many TNI members earn more from their ‘casual’ jobs than from being soldiers. Against the background of such widespread breakdown of discipline, it has become increasingly difficult for HQ to assert its authority.
The faltering line of command
The recent events in East Timor have earned the TNI widespread condemnation. The two weeks in September when the Kopassus/militia went on the rampage in East Timor have proved conclusively that TNI HQ at Cilangkap is no longer able to control the troops. Some experienced foreign correspondents in Jakarta described these acts as open rebellion against Cilangkap (see also ‘The Kopassus/militia alliance’ in this issue). General Wiranto proved incapable of containing Kopassus but nor was he willing or able have a showdown with the elite force.
During the hectic days of May 1998 prior to the fall of Suharto, the signs were that the combat troops including Kopassus, the strike force within Kostrad and the strike force of the Jakarta military command sided with Prabowo against Wiranto. Prabowo strongly opposed the dismissal of his father-in-law and planned to assert his will on Suharto’s successor by forcing his way into Habibie’s residence. On the streets, troops loyal to Wiranto, including Brimob, the crack police unit, and the marines, ‘rescued’ demonstrating students who otherwise would have been butchered by Prabowo’s forces. Prabowo was prevented from entering the palace by a senior officer, General Sintong Panjaitan, a military advisor to Habibie. He was overpowered and was later removed from his position, along with other senior Kopassus officers. It is far from clear whether this is the entire story; Prabowo fled overseas and the TNI closed ranks by sealing their lips.
Wiranto versus Kopassus
The failure of Prabowo’s feeble coup attempt forced Wiranto’s conflict with Kopassus out into the open. Wiranto came to rely on the combat forces of the navy, air force and police, the marines, Paskhasau, the airforce paratroopers, and Brimob and chose marines to guard his private residence.
In a reshuffle earlier this year, Wiranto removed a few key Kopassus officers including Major-General Zacky Anwar Makarim who was head of military intelligence but this was a half-hearted reshuffle. Kopassus was simply too big and too strong to be confronted head on and he failed to remove Prabowo’s close associate, the four-star General Subagyo who was army chief-of-staff. For months, rumours have been circulating that Subagyo would be sacked but nothing has happened. The events in East Timor show that Wiranto backed what Kopassus was doing there but he and other Cilangkap generals were not able to keep control of the operation. [See article on East Timor].
When martial law was declared in East Timor on 6 September in an attempt to rein in the militia, Cilangkap dispatched Major-General Kiki Syahnakri to Dili to take control. An old East Timor hand and Kopassus officer, Kiki became a staunch Wiranto loyalist. In 1995, when he was military commander in East Timor, he had a serious clash with Prabowo and was removed. As martial law executor, he was given three extra battalions but was hardly able to protect the besieged UN compound or the airport. Later he had the unrewarding job of co-operating with Interfet and finally handing over to them.
Wiranto’s strategy has been to avoid confrontation with Kopassus, knowing that this would be disastrous for the armed forces. He may well calculate that he would come out the loser in such a clash. But this is not only a power struggle, it is also a conflict between two lines, one of which is rather reform-minded while the other, the hard-liners reject any change.
The reform-minded officers in Cilangkap, who are in the minority, want to curb the far-reaching autonomy which Kopassus still enjoys by lumping together the strike forces of the four forces into one rapid-deployment force. In addition they are proceeding to reverse the overhaul of the army by Murdani in the 1980s and to strengthen the territorial structure of the army.
The Cilangkap reformers have now acknowledged that they must take a few steps back with regard to some key elements of the army’s ‘dual function’, relinquishing their political role in society and allowing civilians to take greater control. One area is their hold on seats in Parliament. Prior to the June elections, there was a heated discussion in the old parliament about the number of TNI seats in the new parliament. Army representatives did not press the case for retention but the other parties reached a compromise, giving 38 seats to TNI, half of what they had previously. Some sources say the TNI top would not have minded losing all their seats but the civilian politicians, still thinking like Suharto-era pawns, opted to continue the army’s role in politics.
The reform group, with the blessing of Wiranto, has also slashed the TNI karyawan doctrine much to the annoyance of the hard-liners. This is the doctrine that gives officers the assurance of decent jobs after retirement, as village heads, district heads, governors or ministerial posts. More than 3,000 active military were forced to choose between keeping their jobs in the bureaucracy or returning to the TNI.
But while taking these steps back, the Cilangkap reformers have made gains elsewhere, by strengthening the territorial structure, the structure through which the military maintain control over the population at large. This is a development that has major repercussions for democracy.
There is one issue on which everyone in the TNI agrees, that Indonesia should not fall apart. The ‘loss’ of East Timor has raised the spectre of other regions wanting to break away. The TNI reform group has devised a plan to strengthen the territorial structure, as the way to prevent ‘balkanisation’. Preserving the unitary state is seen as sacred by everybody in the TNI, the top priority. In this context, ‘separatism’ will become the main enemy.
The point was stressed recently by Lt-General Agus Widjojo, one of the TNI’s leading thinkers and director of the armed forces think-tank, Sesko-TNI, and in May, they held a seminar on how to deal with this danger. The re-structuring introduced fifteen years ago by Benny Murdani is now being completely reversed.
The ten military commands (kodam) will be increased to seventeen. Each of the ‘trouble spots’ like Maluku, Aceh, East Kalimantan and Irian Jaya will have their own Kodam. The first new military command, Kodam Pattimura has already been inaugurated while Sumatra and Sulawesi will be divided into 4 and 3 kodams respectively.
It so happens that these trouble spots are all located in geo-politically sensitive areas. Aceh is lies at the northern tip of the strategic Malacca Straits, and Maluku is situated between the Pacific and the Asian continents so the TNI can argue that territorial enlargement is needed for military defence purposes. All the kodams with their subordinate commands down to village level shadow the civilian administrative structure and it is this shadow structure that represents the real power structure. The pro-democracy movement has done little as yet to call for this territorial structure to be disbanded. Opposition to the creation of new kodams has so far come only from people in Aceh and West Papua for whom the right to independence has become the key issue.
Another reason for enlarging the territorial structure is to provide new jobs for lower-ranking officers who have lost jobs in the kekaryaan structure. In the fifties, territorial commanders grew very powerful and waged rebellions against the centre, prompted by arguments over the control of local financial resources. The TNI hopes to prevent this from happening by demanding a 100 per cent increase in the military budget.
Two types of kodams
In the new structure, there will be two types of kodam, A and B. Type A kodams will be those located in more security-sensitive places which will get an extra combat brigade including infantry and intelligence officers as well as a cavalry unit (tanks, armoured personal carriers) and anti-aircraft missiles. For places of strategic importance like oil refineries and so-called ‘vital’ industries, a special anti-aircraft unit will be on permanent standby.
Above the kodams, the country will be divided into three army Kowilhans (regional defence commands) a structure that was abolished in 1984 in the Murdani overhaul. A rapid deployment force has been set up known as PPRM, to deal with ‘mass unrest’. It has already been in action in Aceh and was deployed on the streets of Jakarta this month when thousands demanded the revocation of the state security law, leading to a confrontation that cost seven lives. [See separate article.] The PPRM consists of combat troops from the three TNI forces and the police and if recent developments are anything to go by, this strike force will use all the means at its disposal to prevent civil society from taking their demands and grievances onto the streets.