Muhammad Kemal Macharani, Jakarta – Scores of activists from the movement Indonesia Without Militarism (ITM) held a protest action in front of the State Place in Central Jakarta.
The action, which started at 2.07pm, was in the form of a statement and calls for reforms to the TNI (Indonesian military), particularly given that over the last few years indications of a rise in militarism and the politics of the New Order dictatorship of former President Suharto have become very apparent.
According to the group, this has been demonstrated by the many cases of violence involving the TNI.
“The military as an institution should be focusing on the problems of national defence only”, said one of the action coordinators, Surya Anta, in a speech on Jl. Merdeka in Central Jakarta on Monday October 5.
Surya said that the military should not get involved in or get into issues that are under the jurisdiction of the civilian sphere, whether it be the political, social, cultural or other areas.
All the more so because today President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called on the TNI not to offend the ordinary people during a speech commemorating the 70th anniversary of the TNI in Cilegon, Banten.
“The TNI has never been one with the people, the TNI must return to the barracks, reject militarism, is it appropriate for the TNI to sign memorandums of understanding [with civilian institutions]”, said Surya in conclusion.
The action was limited to participants taking turns to give speeches. (Zaenal Arifin)
In recent months the TNI has signed a number of memorandums of understanding (MoU) with non-military institutions which pro-democracy activists worry could open the door for the military to once again become involved in civilian affairs. Besides agreements that allow military deployment to guard public infrastructure such as railway stations, harbors and airports, the list includes a deal with the Ministry of Law and Human Rights to recruit former soldiers as prison guards and an agreement with the National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) to involve the military in family planning programs.
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was Aktifis Minta Militer Kembali ke Barak.]