Indonesia: Increase in violence since Suharto, says rights group

Jakarta, 15 Nov. (AKI) – Indonesia is a much more violent country now than it was during the dictatorship of President Suharto, which ended in 1998, according to a leading human rights group.

In an interview with AdnKronos International (AKI), Ifdhal Kasim, the director of Komnas Ham, the country’s sanctioned Human Rights Commission, said that violence was now perpetrated by organised groups of civilians as well as the military and the police.

"We have estimated that there has been a 60 percent increase in violence since the end of the Suharto regime,” he said.

“Before Reformasi (the student-led movement that toppled Suharto) the armed forces and paramilitary groups were known to carry out kidnappings and violent attacks against civilians. But now, both civilians and public officials contribute to the increase in violence."

He said religious violence had surfaced lately with Islamic vigilantes attacking so-called "heretic" sects or demolishing allegedly illegally built churches.

Kasim also spoke about frequent disputes between the police and the military, which had sometimes ended with armed exchanges.

He claimed that police beat street vendors, beggars and prostitutes – all deemed offenders.

“The Indonesian laws are still fragile and those who reinforce the law by using violence are not charged,” he said.

He said that there was more awareness and an increasing number of non-governmental organisations were cooperating closely with the government.

“They keep their eyes on the occurring violence and, at the same time, are drafting new laws and regulations so that violators and vigilantes can, one day, be tried accordingly,” he said.
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Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.