Declaration says intelligence bill will revive New Order
Jakarta Post - July 11, 2011
Jakarta -- More than 70 noted experts and activists issued a declarationon Sunday condemning a House bill regulating the nation's intelligence agencies, saying it would return authoritarian rule to Indonesia.
The bill was premature and would lead to abuses of power similar to thosethat occurred under former president Soeharto's, according to thedeclaration.
"Lawmakers on the House of Representatives' Commission I overseeingdefense must cancel deliberations of the bill, or possibly drop it," thestatement said. "Lawmakers should first start collecting public opinionabout an ideal bill before starting deliberations."
Critics said article 17 of the draft bill, which would give the Presidentas the head of the National Security Council (DKN), the authority todetermine "potential threats", evoked the practices of Soeharto's NewOrder.
"Does the House aim at bringing us back to the Soeharto era? We'veexperienced such a dictatorial government. This bill, I assume, will takeus there again," high-profile attorney and human rights activist AdnanBuyung Nasution said.
Adnan highlighted article 54 of the draft, which stipulates that "nationalsecurity agencies have the authority to tap a conversation, toinvestigate, to arrest and to take other authorized necessary measures".
Todung Mulya Lubis, another prominent lawyer, said that if the bill wasenacted the House would effectively give a "blank check" to the nation'sintelligence community "to do whatever it desired".
Article 24 of the bill defines intelligence information as informationpertaining to national intelligence activities and operations, criminalsand crime prevention and documents related to national security andintelligence personnel.
Unfortunately, Todung said, the bill did not demarcate the limits of theintelligence community's power.
"Big powers are in its hands -- without clear definitions of itsresponsibility," he said. "Even a super-powerful intelligence body shouldbe held responsible if it makes mistakes."
The nation's intelligence agencies were ruthlessly used to stifle dissentin the 1990s. Soeharto, the "smiling" general authorized the nation'sspies to maintain his grip on power by any means necessary. HendrikSirait, a victim of an intelligence operation in 1996, said the draft bill
ignored his experiences. "I was kidnapped for six days. I was beaten. Mycase has never been clearly resolved."
"Years ago, they abused us in the absence of regulations. In the future,they will probably torture people using regulations," Hendrik said.
After Soeharto was ousted, the reputation of the National IntelligenceAgency (BIN) worsened following the alleged assassination of human rightsactivist Munir by a BIN agent on board a Garuda Indonesia flight to Amsterdam in 2004.
Former top BIN official Muchdi P.R. allegedly played a role in the murder.(lfr)