Police, TNI told to end violence
In the wake of the recent spate of brutal assaults allegedly involving members of the Indonesian military (TNI) on the streets of Jakarta, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday ordered the police and the TNI to work together to end the violence.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha told reporters that the President had asked Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto to coordinate with the two institutions in solving the case.
“If the involvement of military officers is indicated, the TNI’s military police division must investigate it as soon as possible,” the spokesman said. “No one is immune from legal charges.”
The President’s statement came amid allegations that members of the military were responsible for a string of vigilante acts in the capital that left two civilians dead and 15 others injured. The attacks are believed to be a form of retaliation for the killing of a member of the Navy, Arifin Sirih, by a group of people on Jl. Benyamin Sueb in Pademangan, North Jakarta, on March 31.
Arifin Sirih and his friend, Albert, were passing through the street when they saw a truck driver surrounded and apparently intimidated by a group of people. Arifin tried to intervene but ended up being assaulted by the group.
Albert managed to flee the scene. Arifin was rushed to Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital before succumbing to his wounds.
Following the incident, an attack occurred on April 7 at a gas station in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, claiming the life of Soleh, 17. On April 8, four teenagers were assaulted by a group of 30 bikers in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. Then, in the early hours of April 13, a series of widespread attacks occurred in seven spots throughout North and Central Jakarta, leaving at least eight people injured and one dead.
The final attack took place on Jl. Pramuka at around 3 a.m., with Anggi Darmawan and Nendy Haryanto as the last victims. Two motorcycles were burned and three others were destroyed in the attack. Anggi died from severe head wounds some eight hours later at nearby Cempaka Putih Islamic Hospital.
It was widely reported that the assailants during the attacks on April 7, April 8, and April 13, were similar in appearance, with athletic builds and crew cut hairstyles. According to witnesses, the assailants used military lingo when addressing each other and that some of them had attached yellow ribbons to their shirts.
The police have confirmed that the three attacks were acts of retaliation for the killing of Arifin.
They dismissed earlier allegations that the attacks were perpetrated by biker gangs. “The bikers in Jakarta, the ones who usually take part in street races, are only a group of people who hang out together who conduct races spontaneously,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said.
The fact that only one of Arifin’s assailants has been declared a suspect — identified as university student JRR, 22 — fueled rumors that one of JRR’s accomplices in the attack was related to a high-ranking police officer. This led to further speculation that the brutal attacks were the result of a rift between the military and the police.
Both institutions however, have dismissed these rumors. “They were all a hoax. Don’t believe any of them,” Rikwanto said.
Separately, Deputy House Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso urged the military and the police to act swiftly against those behind the recent acts of violence.
“It must not matter where they come from. No matter if they’re a soldier or a police officer, the state must act firmly against the forms of terror that are taking place right in front of us. Such acts are not justified for any reason,” the Golkar Party politician said.