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Indonesia's Final Solution to Crime

The American media was recently awash over the case of Michael Fay, an American youth sentenced to four months in jail and 6 lashes of a cane for vandalism by a court in Singapore. Singapore's laws and justice system received a fair amount of scrutiny resulting from the Fay case. However, compared to Indonesia, Singapore is pretty "soft on crime".

In 1965 the Indonesian military staged a coup against then President Sukarno. The CIA assisted both the coup and the bloody aftermath that left between 500,000 and 800,000 real or suspected members of the Indonesian Communist Party murdered, thousands more imprisoned and exiled. Since then the military dictatorship of General Suharto has ruled with an iron fist. His government is well supported by the United States and other West European countries. Labor costs are low which has resulted in mass impoverishment for the great majority of Indonesians. Any attempt at political or labor organizing is met with brutal repression. Not surprisingly, the poverty has resulted in a wave of petty crime by street criminals.

The Indonesian government's response has been for uniformed policemen to conduct public, summary executions of alleged criminal suspects. The killings take place in crowded urban areas with the bodies left on the streets to intimidate the public. This is considered "shock therapy against criminals." Police Major General Hindarto admits his men commit such murders. He says: "We want society to be peaceful and calm. There is nothing mysterious about it. Everything is clear. The police officer in charge takes responsibility. There is no petrus." [Note: Petrus is an anacronyrn of penembak mistrins which means "mysterious killer" in Indonesian. It was the term used to refer to death squads composed of Indonesian military and police personnel who murdered political opponents and criminals while the government denied responsibility.]

According to police statistics, in the first 2 months of 1994, 24 people were shot of whom 14 were killed on the spot with the rest treated in hospitals. Things have intensified, in the first week of March, 1994, ten were killed. According to police reports all the victims are people with a criminal record, they are under arrest during nighttime hours and the victim is shot trying to flee or resist arrest.

The US state department reports 60 to 70 people were shot in the capital city of Jakarta alone in 1993. This policy has full government support. The military commander in chief, General Feisal Fanjung states: "Bandits have to be exterminated. No way will we foster them." Human rights groups and the Indonesian Bar Association have protested the policy and practice. For more information on human rights in Indonesia write: Tapol, 111 Northwood Rd. Thornton Heath, Surrey, CR7 8HW, England.

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