BIN has not officially recommended Jones be expelled

Koran Tempo – May 28, 2004
International Crisis Group director Sydney Jones (Tempo)
International Crisis Group director Sydney Jones (Tempo)

Jakarta – An intelligence coordinating meeting which was held yesterday has yet to officially recommend that the director of the International Crisis Group (IGC) Sydney Jones be expelled from Indonesia.

This was related by the head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) A.M. Hendropriyono. “We have been gathering data on people or groups which [we] consider are hurting the country”, said Hendropriyono following a cabinet meeting in Jakarta yesterday. Nevertheless he continued, firm action must be taken against non-government organisations (NGOs) who creating social unrest and damaging the state.

In addition to this the former head of the Jakarta military command accused a number of NGOs of selling out their own country for the sake of money. “It’s an old pattern, [like] certain NGOs who betrayed their own nation to the point where East Timor broke away, [in the past] they would have got the death sentence”, he said.

Hendropriyono also took the opportunity to counter accusations that he had given a recommendation for Jones’ expulsion or the extension of her visa to stay in Indonesia. However he said that “if her actions hurt the Indonesia people, why would [we] want to extend [her] stay in our country. I think that is the basic logic of it”.

According to Hendropriyono not all of Jones’ reports which have been published and distributed overseas are entirely accurate. As a result he said, the government will continue to provide clarification on these issues to international institutions.

Meanwhile, interim coordinating minister for politics and security, Hari Sabarno, said that the government had yet to consider a recommendation not to extend Jones’ visa. According to Sabarno the problem is that the matter is still at the stage of an intelligence investigation and has yet to be reported to a coordinating meeting of the politics and security department. On the issue of Jones, “it is best if it is the DPR [People’s Representative Assembly] which provides the official recommendation”, he said yesterday.

When Jones was contacted yesterday she said that she had been encountering difficulties in obtaining a visa extension since February. She said she had submitted a request for a visa extension for the period May-April to the department of labour and transmigration but it was rejected because there were problems cited by a particular department. According to Jones, which department and the reasons for the problem were not mentioned. When asked if it was because of the reports issued by ICG she answered, “I don’t know, possibly”.

She said that she had already requested a meeting with a member of the DPR’s commission on defense and BIN however there has been no response.

The issue of a recommendation that Jones’ visa not be extended was raised in a BIN working meeting with the DPR’s commission on defense. According to the deputy chairperson of the commission, Efendy Choirie, they agreed with BIN’s recommendation to repatriate foreign NGO activists, one of which was Jones, because they were not just carrying out research. “Under the guise of empowering society there is obviously a special mission as was uncovered by BIN [in its investigations] on the ground”, he said.

Another DPR member, who did not want their name quoted, said that the contents of the BIN report did not provide any details at all on Jones’ activities.

The 46 page document only refers to the existence of a plan to disrupt security which is being developed by specific foreign organisations. In one part of the document which was seen by the Tempo News Room yesterday, it said that “These organisations are continually trying to meddle in Indonesia’s domestic affairs”. The two names which were mention were Jones as the project director of IGC Indonesia which is based in Australia and May Lane [Max Lane] from the Socialist Democratic Party [Democratic Socialist Party], Australia.

Based on BIN’s observations, in the same report is said that Jones’ activities in Indonesia were not in accordance with her position as a social worker. It said that she had put greater emphasis on activities related to political issues. This included a belief that Jones had criticised the government’s policies on the Papua and Aceh question.

Jones was also accused of giving political lectures which essentially slandered and seriously damaged Indonesia. The document did not however explain in detail the contents of these criticisms or when and where Jones had made them.

Cultural observer Goenawan Mohammad who was contacted separately by Tempo believes that Hendropriyono’s statement that there are NGOs which are creating social unrest is an indication of the reemergence of efforts to the resurrect repressive methods which were used in the past. “[We] are now beginning hear things which remind us of the insinuating ways of the period of the New Order [regime of former President Suharto] and even further back during the earlier period of guided democracy [under Indonesia’s founding president Sukarno between 1959 and 1965]”, he said yesterday.

[Translated by James Balowski.]