The Jakarta Post
Residents in the border area between Indonesia and Timor Leste have voluntarily handed authorities two long guns left over from past civil war. The UK-made rifles were handed over to the chief of Silawan village in East Tasifeto district, Belu regency, East Nusa Tenggara, on Monday.
“The weapons were voluntarily handed over to a local village chief, who later gave them to officers at an Indonesian Military post. They are UK-made Springfield rifles,” Lt. Col. Mochammad Nazmudin, commander of the Belu Military Command (Kodim) 1605, told thejakartapost.com on Monday.
As of May this year, Nazmudin said, 16 firearms of various types had been handed over to the military, either Kodim 1605/Belu officials or personnel from the Indonesia-Timor Leste Border Security (Pamtas RI-RDTL) Task Force.
Five weapons were handed over to Kodim 1605/Belu, while 11 rifles were given to the Pamtas RI-RDTL Task Force, he added.
Nazmudin said his military command had not yet carried out an operation to free the border area of all forms of firearms. However, it has routinely approached local leaders and religious figures to continuously encourage their residents to voluntarily hand over weapons to security authorities.
“Sweeping [for rifles] does not sound good. Thus, we would rather approach community leaders and customary figures with a familial atmosphere. So far, there has been no weapon owner who has been faced with a legal process, because they have in fact handed over their weapons to the security authorities voluntarily,” said Nazmudin.
Citing Emergency Law No.12/1951 on firearm ownership, Nazmudin said any citizen illegally possessing a firearm could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. With such a heavy sanction, Nazmudin called on local residents living near the border to hand over their weapons to avoid legal sanctions.
“I cannot confirm how many firearms are still held by local residents in the border areas. But one thing I can assure you is that many Indonesia-Timor Lester border area residents still possess firearms,” he said.
Silawan village head Ferdy Mones said residents of Beilaka, Silawan, had voluntarily handed over the two rifles. “They were afraid to hand over them to Indonesian Military personnel by themselves so they called and gave me the rifles, which I later handed over to Kodim 1605/Belu. We’re afraid our people could misuse the weapons,” said Ferdy.
The village chief called on his residents not to keep firearms illegally because they could face legal sanctions. “I’m calling on people in the Indonesia-Timor Leste border area, where many still possess firearms, to voluntarily hand over the weapons to Indonesian Military posts across the area,” said Ferdy. (ebf)
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