JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ ANN): Indonesia’s two biggest Muslim mass organiSations have urged the government to provide details of a new policy that aims to tackle violent extremism and terrorism, which includes community policing, warning that it could become a new source of societal conflict in the country.
President Joko 'JokowI' Widodo signed on Jan 6 a presidential regulation on a five-year national action plan for the mitigation and prevention of violence-based extremism that could lead to terrorism.
The document outlines strategies for detecting and preventing violent extremism and allows government institutions to run the action plan with the general public, including a plan to train people under a community policing programme.
Muhammadiyah secretary-general Abdul Mu’ti said the government needed to be clear with its definition of extremism.
"[The government] needs to make sure that [the definition of extremism] is not linked to a certain religion, but [it is defined] in broad terms that could also include [aspects of] politics, culture and so on, ” Abdul said told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
He added that the document and community policing program could potentially encourage the rise of paramilitarism and social division if implemented without clear details.
In the regulation, violence-based extremism that could lead to terrorism was defined as “belief or action that utilizes acts of violence or threats of extreme violence with the aim to support or conduct acts of terrorism”.
Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) deputy secretary-general Masduki Baidlowi said the government must draw a line so as to avoid acts that could be interpreted as repressive as a result of implementing the action plan.
“The government can do anything to avoid [acts of] intolerance as long as it does not violate the principles of freedom, ” said Masduki. “This is a democratic country and [we] cannot easily pass judgment [and violate freedom of thought].”
Despite concerns over the policy, community policing is not a new concept in Indonesia and was allowed after the issuance of National Police Chief Regulation No. 3/2015, which serves as a legal basis for community policing.
Activists have said that the community policing program, which will enable people to watch and report individuals they believe are committing acts of violent extremism and terrorism in their neighborhoods, could potentially lead to wrongful arrests and social division.
Terrorism analyst Stanislaus Riyanta said that involving the public for the early detection and prevention of acts of terror was “the right concept”, but added that the government needed to make sure that initiatives such as community policing would not become a trigger for social conflict.
“[The government] should clearly communicate to the public the details of the presidential regulation and its intention. It's important to have clear a input-process-output mechanism, including what kind of people are allowed to sign up for training and its expected outcomes, ” Stanislaus said.
The new regulation mandates the establishment of a joint secretariat led by the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) to oversee and evaluate the implementation of this action plan in each government institution. BNPT head Comr.
Gen Boy Rafli Amar told the Post that the community policing program was designed to counter radicalism among vulnerable groups, saying that any activities would be in line with principles of human rights, among others values.
“The community policing-related activities are those intended to improve the professionality of the National Police, particularly their Bhabinkamtibmas [police officers assigned to villages as advisors on security and public order], so that they can establish partnerships between the public and the police in line with principles in the action plan, such as human rights [and] rule of law, ” he said in a written statement.
He also referred to the regulation as a “living document”, meaning that its implementation could be tailored to suit future needs and dynamics, as well as the focus of each government institution.
Boy said the regulation, which had been drafted by the BNPT since 2017, would significantly help the agency play a coordinating role, considering that it provided an “important legal basis” that binds relevant stakeholders and the public in the fight against terrorism. - The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network
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