Farouk Arnaz& Ulma Haryanto
The National Police have denied allegations that they were lame ducks when it came to dealing with hard-line Muslim organizations, including the Islamic Defenders Front, as questions arise over the feasibility of disbanding such groups.
“We will definitely take firm action against whoever breaks the law, no matter who they are, including those from the Islamic Defenders Front [FPI],” spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said on Tuesday.
Edward said action would also be taken against police officers found guilty of professional neglect.
He was referring to Banyuwangi Police Chief Adj. Comr. Slamet Hadi Supraptoyo, who failed to prevent thugs from the Islamic Ummah Forum, a group said to be incited by the FPI, from allegedly breaking up a meeting sponsored by lawmakers to discuss free health care.
The FPI believed the meeting was to revive support for the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
Asked why police could not disband organizations believed to be behind several recent violent incidents, Edward said police did not have the “authority and domain to disband any organization.”
“Police only have the right to uphold the law whenever people break it,” he said.
The National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said on Monday that it would establish a team to investigate the attack on lawmakers from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in Banyuwangi.
The lawmakers have filed charges against the mob and the local police.
Komnas HAM is expected to question the local police chief and the leader of the FPI branch.
The FPI is also expected to be questioned over other alleged attacks and raids on lawful gatherings, including an incident on April 30 in which it disrupted a human-rights training session for transvestites organized by Komnas HAM in Depok.
Home Affairs Ministry spokesman Saut Situmorang said dissolving a mass organization was a protracted legal process regulated under a 1985 law and 1986 government decree.
“Organizations that submit their statutes to the ministry are protected by the law, and the FPI has been registered with us for the past six years,” he said.
He added the issue becomes even more complicated when considering the reach of the organization in question.
“National-scale organizations fall under the auspices of the ministry while, at the provincial-level, they are overseen by the governor,” Saut said.
Pan Mohamad Faiz, from the Indonesian Society of Legal Scholars, suggested the law itself might be outdated.
“It was flawed from the start, which was when the state still had ultimate say in disbanding an organization,” he said.
“But the times have changed and repressive laws can no longer be justified.”
“In the meantime, all that can be done is to bring to bring the Criminal Code to bear against those who commit crimes,” Pan said.
The 1986 decree forbids such organizations from inciting ethnic or religious hatred.
Laws relating to mass organizations:
The government may freeze a mass organization’s administration if it is found to have disrupted safety and/or public order.
The government also may freeze an organization’s administration if it violates Articles 2, 3, 4 and/or 7:
A mass organization must have Pancasila as its sole principle.
An organization’s goal must be relevant to or parallel with the 1945 Constitution.
An organization is obliged to mention Articles 2 and 3 in its statute.
organization must have an organizational statute; live by, practice and
protect Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution; and maintain national