On 77th anniversary TNI accused of fostering militarism, culture of violence

Suara – October 4, 2022
Red-beret troops at TNI anniversary event – Undated (Antara)

Bangun Santoso – In the lead up to the 77thy anniversary of the Indonesian military (TNI) which falls on October 5, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has released a report on the role and function of the institution.

According to its observations over the last year, namely between October 2021 and September 2022, Kontras believes that there has been a phenomena of a widespread militaristic agenda.

First, this has been in relation to active and retired military officers holding strategic government positions which should be occupied by civilians.

"Various steps have also been taken, such as efforts to place the TNI in ministerial posts and through to the appointment of TNI [officers] as acting regional heads", said Kontras Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti on Tuesday October 4.

The next finding relates to moves to foster militarism among civil society. This is reflected in the activation of the reserve component (komcad) based on the National Resource Management (PSDN) Law and incorporating student regiments (Menwa) as a defense component.

According to Maulidiyanti, this situation actually worsens horizontal conflicts in society as in the case of demonstrations or the tone of agrarian conflicts in different parts of the country.

The other problem which is still coming to the surface is the culture of violence within the military as an institution. Kontras found 61 cases of violence involving TNI personnel over the last year.

"It needs to be noted that this level of violence does not portray all of the incidents, which we believe is much greater", explained Maulidiyanti.

Not only that, Kontras also found a number of cases of violence which involved TNI personnel which were settled through peaceful channels, but were not covered by the national or local media.

"The figure we recorded this year is also an increase on the previous year's report which found 54 incidents", she said.

This militaristic pattern of violence also happens frequently in Papua. The situation there has been worsened because the Indonesian government still believes that it can resolve the structural problems in Papua through a military approach.

Maulidiyanti said that troops are endlessly deployed to staff military posts. In the end, this militaristic approach results in continuing loss of life and the property for civilians in Papua.

Of course, continue Maulidiyanti, this sparks the prolonged trauma experienced by indigenous Papuans (OAP) over the parade of violence which is occurring. Although the names of the operations change, the underlying militaristic character never experiences any significant improvement.

Kontras is of the view that the approach being built by the deployment of joint TNI and Polri (Indonesian police) personnel only sparks continuous armed conflicts. And in the end sacrifices innocent civilians.

"Unfortunately, this chosen approach is without an appropriate corrective mechanism", she said.

Based on this, Kontras is of the view that the discourse over the last year indicates that Indonesia has returned to the abyss of militarism. Strengthening the role of the military to occupy civil space is one of the signs of this.

"This must be regarded as a serious institutional problem, particularly in terms of the professionalism of the TNI within the framework of a democratic country. Likewise in the context of the militarisation of civilians, these various methods which are irrelevant must be stopped because they are in fact counterproductive for the agenda of strengthening [the country's] defense".

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Catatan KontraS Jelang HUT TNI Ke-77 Besok: Agenda Militerisme Merebak, Warga Sipil Jadi Berwatak Militer".]

Source: https://www.suara.com/news/2022/10/04/122836/catatan-kontras-jelang-hut-tni-ke-77-besok-agenda-militerisme-merebak-warga-sipil-jadi-berwatak-militer