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Home Worldwide Indonesia June, 2008 Government slammed …
Government slammed for inaction against FPI

Headlines Wed, 06/04/2008 10:14 AM 

Government slammed for inaction against FPI

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

NO TO THUGGERY: Peace activists stage a demonstration at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on Tuesday. (JP/R. Berto Wedhatama)The government came under fire Tuesday for the failure to arrest leaders and members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) over an attack on activists at the National Monument (Monas).

Lawmakers, legal experts and activists also demanded the government quickly disband the FPI, arguing that under the law, the group’s actions at Monas could be classified as disturbing the peace and causing insecurity in the community.

House of Representatives Speaker Agung Laksono slammed the government’s stance against the FPI, saying police should have promptly detained the perpetrators.

“It (the attack) is not the first time. If the government had taken strong action against them, then violence like this would not have been repeated,” he said.

Legal expert Frans H. Winarta said all FPI members involved in Sunday’s assault should be arrested for breaching the Criminal Code.

“It was a collective attack for which police must arrest all those involved, including their leaders,” he said.

Under the law, people convicted of assaulting others face between two and five years’ imprisonment.

At least 70 people were injured when FPI members used bamboo sticks to attack members of the National Alliance for the Freedom of Faith and Religion, who were rallying in support of Jamaah Ahmadiyah, an Islamic sect deemed “heretical” by a government panel.

The peaceful rally was also to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of Pancasila state ideology.

Police had made no arrests by Tuesday night, even though President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had condemned the violence and ordered police to take strong action against the relevant members of the FPI.

Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Adang Firman said Tuesday his office had named 10 suspects in the incident and gave them until Wednesday morning to turn themselves in or be arrested.

Late Monday night, several police officers visited the FPI headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta. The officers left after an hour-long discussion with FPI leader Habib Rizieq Shihab. They did not make any arrests.

Several lawmakers were quick to accuse the police of siding with the radical group over the attack and of being afraid to take action against it.

“We will summon National Police chief Gen. Sutanto to explain why the police allowed the attack to take place, and why they were very slow to take action,” said Soeripto, a lawmaker with the House’s Commission III on legal affairs.

Soeripto had been receiving representatives from various organizations, including from Nahdlatul Ulama and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), who had asked for support for the dissolution of the FPI.

Lawmaker Djoko Susilo of the National Mandate Party (PAN) urged the police to arrest Rizieq and other FPI leaders, alleging the attack had occurred under their orders.

“What kind of country do we live in if the police work together with a violent organization? We should uphold the rule of law at any cost to avoid an incident becoming a precedent to legitimize violence,” he said.

Frans said the government could dissolve or freeze the FPI for violating Law No. 8/1985 and government decree No. 18/1986 on mass organizations.

Under the law, an organization will be frozen if it disrupts public order and causes public insecurity.

“FPI members have clearly violated the law by attacking others, causing public fear and disturbing the peace,” Frans said.

Home Minister Mardiyanto, Justice and Human Rights Minister Andi Mattalata and Attorney General Hendarman Supandji said they would prefer to concentrate on dealing with individual perpetrators rather than with the organization.

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