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causes of problem in Indonesia

Sidney JonesExecutive Director, Asia DivisionHuman legal rights Watch

In terms of the communal violence and also ethnic violence the we currently see about Indonesia, ns think I will certainly just shot to provide you a survey of what several of the vital factors are associated in this conflicts and also briefly walk over what might be excellent to improve the situation. I will certainly leave everything else for the question period.

Let me begin with a basic survey of the sort of violence roughly the country now. The problem in the Malaccas where, in the past two years, about 4,000 people have been killed in Christian-Muslim fighting, and around 500,000 displaced, follow to Indonesian Red overcome figures. That’s plainly the worst of the conflicts we are encountering right now, however even there it is practically a misnomer to check out it as emerging from some long-seated religious dispute. There room actually a many historical, political and also economic components that are lying in ~ the source of it.

We have additionally got the conflict in West Kalimantan, i beg your pardon is currently somewhat quiescent, yet in 1999 it damaged out again v hundreds of world killed. And there to be a previous illustration in 1997 that created large-scale deaths, and was largely in between indigenous Dayaks and some native Malays against the immigrant Madurese group. This problem of migrants versus indigenous people is a significant theme the runs v communal conflict in Indonesia.

There is a problem going on in Poso in Sulawesi. Again the worst episode was this past spring as soon as there were about 300 people killed. Again there was Christian-Muslim fighting yet this problem was based an ext on neighborhood elites struggling over strength that ended up in communal conflict.

There are periodic eruptions of communal dispute in Lombok, eastern Bali, in Kupang in West Timor, in Couchon Pandang in West and East Java, and also at any kind of one time the factors are present for this kind of dispute to erupt. And the ethnic Chinese that course are a perennial target any type of time society unrest division out.

Two faulty presumptions I would choose to dismiss in ~ the outset. The an initial is that this communal problem is one outgrowth that the autumn of Suharto. There was a huge variety of outbreaks that communal violence no only during the Suharto duration but additionally during the Sukarno period. The 2nd false premise is that somehow this is the fault of the democratization procedure and the the communal violence is worse v democracy in multi-ethnic cultures than the is with strong authoritarian federal governments that save these kinds of problems under control. I would argue the what is going on right currently is in many instances the heritage of one abusive past much more than the is the an outcome of a permissive present.

Nevertheless, over there are factors in the political mix that space not do things any kind of easier. There space a number of factors affiliated in the current conflicts. One is the historic colonial roots the the conflict. This I will not say much around but just let you know that some plans of the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia collection the phase for countless of these conflicts. This is particularly true v regard to how the Dutch related to the ethnic Chinese yet it is additionally true of exactly how the Dutch concerned missionary work and also the way they parceled the end the nation to different missionary groups.

In terms of demographics and population transfers, one of the things we see is how an altering population balances amongst different ethnic and spiritual groups has led to particular kinds that tensions, often with one team feeling the it is under siege by another. In Ambon there to be a fairly balanced ratio of Ambonese-Christians and Ambonese-Muslims through traditional social methods of dispute resolution. In the ‘70s and also ‘80s, there was substantial migration come these areas of Muslims from Sulawesi and elsewhere. As a result, the populace balance shifted, but jobs that had traditionally to be the preserve of the Christian elite began going to several of the freshman who taken place to be Muslim and also it led to a case where christians felt us threatened. The was a factor in determining just how the Christians reacted the way they did come a number of episodes that occurred in 1998 and also 1999.

You likewise begin transparent Indonesia to acquire real resentment of local native populations come the transmigration policies of the Suharto government, which regularly meant relocating Muslim Javanese into locations where another ethnic group was dominant and this led to competition for land, resources, and eventually because that power.

The second significant factor is that of the advancement policies. Not only were over there transmigration policies however there were also areas wherein logging, mining and also extraction of herbal resources in certain took place. This caused resentment end the federal government coming in and also dispossessing the indigenous people of their land. This in turn took top top an ethnic component when the leading ethnic team represented by the federal government happened to be in conflict with the local indigenous population.

Rapid financial changes plainly produced changes as well including additional resentment against the country Chinese. The Chinese appeared to have actually benefited from economic policies an ext than others and also during the eastern economic dilemm it was the Chinese shopkeepers who were accused the hoarding goods. Currently there is an additional factor, particularly in Java, where some Muslims groups have struck prostitution and gambling centers, i m sorry in some situations are own by the Chinese. Without any type of information to the contrary, you obtain this Muslim-Chinese balance being set up with the Chinese responsible for all social vice and also the Muslims wanting to combat it.

Local power configurations and also struggles over power have been a key factor. Partner in West Kalimantan and also Ambon, whereby the dispute has broken out in a significant way, say that the adjust in Indonesian law from 1974 made the instance far worse. The law in question essentially turned neighborhood traditional village heads into the shortest rung that the Indonesian administrative administration. So once the conflict broke out, it can not it is in controlled since the classic authority the local numbers had progressively been sapped and also they then constituted the shortest rung the the bureaucracy. Traditional town heads then had much less affect over your followers.

There has also been a lot of co-optation of classic elites both in Papua and also West Kalimantan, where spiritual leaders or neighborhood customary leaders to be bought out by the judgment party, by the Golkar elite.

There space law and also order questions affiliated in some of these communal violence issues. In April 1999, in Indonesia, a long-awaited move began to different the police native the equipped forces. The police had actually traditionally been a component of the armed forces yet as clashes broke out and also the military stood by and also let the police take care of it, that gradually came to be clear that the police were not approximately the job. Indeed they to be the poorest trained and also poorest paid of any part of the defense forces, and were for this reason not efficient as regulation enforcers. It had actually traditionally been the instance that if violence broke out, the military would come and also suppress it in no uncertain terms. If it to be left come the police, it to be clear that they to be not up to the job. In some places, as in Ambon, the police were watched to it is in from one side of the conflict, so the there to be allegations that the police were supporting the Christians and the military was sustaining the Muslims. And obviously once you have the security forces acting in a non-neutral method in a communal conflict, things obtain much worse. Third, police-army relationships were extremely poor and also had gotten worse over the last two years, meaning that you have break out of police-army violence in a method that exacerbates the conflict.

Another element that has been an extremely important come Indonesia has actually been the communications revolution, specifically with e-mail and cellular phones. It way virtually no conflict is local any type of longer. The instantly becomes a national dispute or at the very least there is the opportunity of illustration in her co-religionists or the co-members of her ethnic team from other parts of the nation in methods that transform conflicts from being local to being national. This means, for example in the Malakkas, both the Christians and also the Muslims are mobilizing pendant from way outside Ambon and also the Malakkas itself in a method that only exacerbates the conflict.

Finally over there is the concern of provocation. In addition to all these factors there have been instances whereby the dispute has been deliberately provoked. Over there is numerous talk now around the Suharto household being affiliated in funding outbreaks however in fact the initiatives of provocation only job-related when friend have gained the kindling prepared to blow up; there have actually been locations where the provocation has actually been tried together in Monado in phibìc Sulawesi and it has not worked due to the fact that these other factors have not remained in place.

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So what can be done around this? There are a couple of things that can be excellent but in its entirety there space some issues for which ns hope girlfriend have an ext solutions than I do. Clearly the method these problems are shown in the media (newspapers and also the broadcast media in particular) is critical. In Indonesia among the things that is highlight is exactly how much the Muslim next of the dispute is shown in the media and how lot the worldwide press focuses practically exclusively ~ above the Christian victims. In truth there are an equal number of victims and perpetrators ~ above both sides. The is critically important that the media it is in attended to as a element in the conflict. I additionally think you need an instant solution from civil society groups to respond to some the the more extremist interpretations of the conflict. You require clear and also public prosecution of those connected in the violence. You have to work on structure civil culture so girlfriend don’t have actually - as you have actually in countless parts of Indonesia - all the NGOs top top one side of the conflict. In West Kalimantan the Dayaks had all the NGOs and also the Madurese had actually virtually no civil culture organizations to work at a ar level, in ~ the grassroots level. The same was greatly true in Ambon; many of the NGOs were Christian and not Muslim. This is something come think about as us look toward conflict resolution. You clearly need professional leadership at the national and local levels, which we don’t have actually in Indonesia in ~ the moment.

There is one issue around misguided peacekeeping efforts that needs to be looked at. In Indonesia among the points that has happened is the these peace pacts have actually been practically forced ~ above the populace by governments, i beg your pardon involve bringing together the leading Muslim and the leading Christian or the top Dayak and also the leading Madurese in a ceremony and also everybody think this is significant when in truth none that the underlying causes have to be addressed. It actually renders things worse because people think that something has been done. And also if the problem breaks out again there space accusations that among the two parties in the pact has actually been acting in bad faith and therefore it simply sets every little thing off again. For this reason we must look at how peace pacts and conflict resolution and also agreements room actually achieved.

Finally i think increase police cultivate -- no a very sexy proposal -- is actually something critically necessary in regards to resolving any type of of these problems in Indonesia.

One of the points that is much more difficult to fix is the antipathy toward migrants in a settler-migrant sort of dispute and there room no simple answers for redressing several of these plans of the past.