9 October 2010

Indonesian radical groups 'can help security'

Jakarta Globe - October 7, 2010

Farouk Arnaz & Anita Rachman, Jakarta -- Despite public calls for the 
government to disband violent hard-line groups, the sole candidate to lead 
the National Police on Wednesday did not appear inclined to oblige.

"We should be close to all" societal groups, Comr. Gen. Timur Pradopo told 
journalists after meeting with the leadership of the House of 
Representatives. However, Timur, did not specifically name the radical 
Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which has often been involved in violence."All elements of society and all public figures that can help maintain 
security must be included and empowered to help preserve security," Timur 
told reporters later in the day.

Timur, who was the only candidate President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tapped 
to be the next National Police chief, added that he had no special 
relationship with hard-line groups, including the FPI.

"I reiterate that we should involve all sides in our society to overcome 
problems that could potentially occur in this country," Timur said.

He said that all groups, including FPI, were part of society and as such 
"could be used to maintain security."

However, he also warned that he would not tolerate any violations of the 
law, including by members of the FPI. "Upholding the law is our concern," 
he said.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for 
Democracy and Peace, said that Timur's statement was certainly a setback 
but was not surprising.

He said it was legally wrong to invite the FPI to help maintain security 
because the group was not a part of law enforcement. "It will only raise 
people's concerns, because his statement will provide the FPI room to act 
more arrogantly," he said.

Bonar also said that Timur was among the founding members of the FPI in 
1998. "And he came to the FPI anniversary this year with [Jakarta Governor] 
Fauzi Bowo, so what he said is not surprising at all," he said.

Bonar accused Yudhoyono of having lost his focus following political 
maneuvering within his political coalition, and therefore appointing the 
"wrong officials," including Timur.

Rights activists have accused Timur of being responsible for a number of 
fatal shootings, including of students during the months of unrest that 
surrounded the resignation of longtime dictator Suharto in May 1998.

He was chief of the West Jakarta Police at the time, whose jurisdiction 
included the site of the fatal shooting of four students from Trisakti 
University in May 1998.

He was Central Jakarta Police chief when 11 people were shot and killed 
during a protest near the Semanggi overpass in Central Jakarta in November 
that year.

But on Wednesday, Timur claimed that the judicial process related to the 
cases had cleared him of any wrongdoing.

"It was a long [legal] process that anybody at the time could watch and 
follow. However, I welcome anyone who wants to evaluate the case," Timur 

He argued that he had refused to cooperate when summoned over the shootings 
by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) because he deemed 
the shootings to be legal cases and was "only willing to follow the legal 

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