REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, By: Toni Ervianto *)
Indonesian Army chief of staff Gen. Mulyono has said the government may grant amnesty to East Indonesia Mujahiddin (MIT) members who are still at large. However, they should still need to face the legal process for committing attacks against security personnel, he said. The Indonesian Army says the joint police-military security operation in Poso, Central Sulawesi, named Operation Tinombala, should continue despite calls for the remaining members of the MIT militant group to surrender.
"Calling for [MIT members] to surrender does not mean we have to stop the operation. We also conduct territorial operations there, which serve as a soft approach to end guerilla warfare," Army chief of staff Gen. Mulyono. The territorial operations in Poso, which began following the death of MIT leader Santoso in July, aim to unify local residents hit by prolonged conflict in the Central Sulawesi region, including through fostering development in the area.
Furthermore, the government’s plan to grant amnesty to the 16 militants if they agree to surrender to security officials is considered a soft approach. It is hoped this approach might persuade the terrorists to end their guerrilla warfare in Poso, Central Sulawesi.
Shortly after the death of MIT leader Santoso, aka Abu Wardah, in the middle of July, Luhut Pandjaitan, then the coordinating political, legal and security affairs, said giving amnesty to Santoso's militants was a better way to prevent them from committing more attacks against security personnel in the future. The government advised Santoso’s followers to give themselves up to security personnel.
For those who surrender, the government will consider pardoning them. The National Intelligence Agency (BIN) has reportedly supported the government’s plan to provide amnesty for Santoso's followers, saying that providing amnesty was better than continuing with Operation Tinombala, which was too costly and led to fatalities.
The Army's position is contrary to that held by rights activists grouped together in a counterterrorism evaluation group called Team 13. The team earlier urged security officials to uphold a sense of humanity in persuading the militants to surrender without the exchange of gun fire.
Following a visit to evaluate the counterterrorism operation in Poso, Team 13 member Busyro Muqqodas said the group had decided to cooperate with the National Police and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), adding that Team 13 would persuade the remaining MIT members to surrender without using violence.
Previously, MIT guerillas are surrendering one by one after their leader, Santoso, was killed in a shoot-out in Poso, Central Sulawesi, on July 18. An MIT member, identified as Salman, aka Opik, from Bima, West Nusa Tenggara, reportedly surrendered to the Operation Tinombala task force on Sunday afternoon, following the surrender of another Santoso follower, identified as Jumri, alias Tamar.
Before Salman surrendered at 1 p.m. local time, the wife of Samil, aka Nunung, another MIT member who had previously surrendered, contacted a Polmas member, Chief Brig. Cakra, saying that her cousin Salman wanted to surrender. After receiving the information, the police officer coordinated with Densus 88 personnel in Tamanjeka village. They later approached Samil’s parents at their house to confirm the information. “They revealed that Salman was at the Mati-Mati River,” said Hari, quoting Furkon, one of Samil's family members.
Another member of MIT, Juhri, alias Tamar, gave himself up to BIN personnel taking part in Operation Tinombala. Meanwhile, three others were arrested one day before. They are Jono Priadi, alias Jono, an employee of the Palu Public Works Agency; Isa Abd. Rahman, alias Berni, alias Pak Is, alias Bahar; and Muhammad Asmaul, alias Muket. They acted as couriers and logistics suppliers and to facilitate those who wanted to join the MIT.
Juhri was picked up from a house belonging to his relative and was taken to the BIN post in Poso. Based on the questioning, Juhri said he surrendered because he no longer shared the beliefs of the MIT terror group and could no longer manage to live in the forest.
After the death of Santoso on July 18, the rampant of MIT’s member approximately on 17 person, they had been reported still hiding in a number of forest in Poso, Central Sulawesi, but some of a security observer was predicted that the rampant of Santoso’s personel would be surrendered to a security and an intelligence apparatus who was operated military and law enforcement in Poso.
Besides, after Santoso’s wife who is called Umi Delima surrendered and then she was questioned by a security and an intelligence apparatus, the security communities have a lot of information about current condition around the rampant of MIT’s member so we can calculate that MIT’s member surrender just only a matter of time.
I think the efforts of team 13 which had decided to cooperate with the National Police and the BNPT would persuade the remaining MIT members to surrender without using violence, its should immediately be done because its could be minimalized human rights violation to cope MIT’s member.
Mostly and basically, the roots of reason why is Santoso’s member was taken step to surrender because they weren’t unbelieve again to MIT’s tenet, could no longer manage to live in the forest and almost all of MIT’s member were believed that as soon as possible they should be defeated by Tinombala Operation which was surrounded them in Poso, Central Sulawesi.
I think the idea to giving the rampant of MIT’s member who are accept to surrender with grant amnesty is a brilliant ones, although the amnesties have to go through legal proceedings against members of the MIT. Furthermore, to eradicating a terror threats in the next time, the government should be taken welfare approach and humanitarian approach as a first one comparing than to take a security approach.
Basically, we can agree that a terror threats doesn’t only an extra ordinary crimes, but ones is a crimes to security of state, moreover the group of terror were used an army tools on their struggle, including a military tactic and strategies such as on guerilla, sabotage and ambush.
But, if any member of a terror group will surrender, we must help them to surrender on the safety way so that we can vanish a potential human rights violation on those efforts.
*) The author has earned his master at University of Indonesia focussing on a terror threats and radicals group.