Demilitarization And Its Discontents

Demilitarization in Papua, Aceh, and Maluku, the
difficult process of removing military influence in politics.

Indonesia Matters - A new paper from three Indonesian researchers has been published by Oxford University's Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity (CRISE). It examines the changing role of the military in Indonesia, focusing on the dismantling of the territorial administration, and involvement by military and police in recent problems in Papua, Aceh and Maluku. The ethnicity of security personnel is a significant factor, it is claimed.

The authors, Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, Sri Yanuarti and Mochamad Nurhasim, are researchers in the Centre for Political Studies at the Indonesia Institute of Sceinces (LIPI).

They note: Given the historical dual roles of the military, it has been able to set agendas and perpetrate
violence without civilian oversight. In Papua, this has led to various acts of violence perpetrated by the military and the police, often tapping into local ethno-religious relations. However, this has been less overt than the violence occurring in Aceh.

The third case study is that of Maluku, where: …clashes between the military and police, as well as bias on the part of different sections of the armed forces towards each of the warring communal groups, increased the levels of violence and prolonged the conflict.

The authors suggest that the continuing demilitarization of the political sphere will be a difficult process: Today, the role of the military in politics has been significantly reduced by disbanding the political sections of the military in the regions and a number of other reforms. However, many of the original principles of the functions of the
military remain, whereby they can still be involved in politics and elections by resigning from their military posts.

A copy of the paper can be accessed at