State Intelligence Agency, or BIN, chief Sutiyoso on Tuesday (23/08) he is ready to leave the post amid widespread whispering he will be shortly replaced by National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan. (JG Photo)

Criticism of BIN Over Tolikara Arson Misguided: Intelligence Chief

JULY 22, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia's newly inaugurated intelligence chief, Sutiyoso, has dismissed criticism that his agency failed to prevent a small-scale sectarian incident in Tolikara district, Papua last week in which a mosque was torched.

Sutiyoso claimed that the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) had detected signs of religious tension between the mostly indigenous Christian majority and the predominantly migrant Muslim community since July 11, six days before a group of 200 men attacked shops and houses belonging to Muslims during the Idul Fitri celebration.

"BIN's job is to provide information. And we have provided [intelligence] on July 11," Sutiyoso said after attending a meeting between President Joko Widodo and senior security officials at the State Palace on Wednesday.

"The criticisms were misdirected," he said. "These critics don't understand BIN's roles and functions.

"Police were guarding [the local Muslim community] on July 17. It wouldn't happen without information from us.

"BIN is not an executive, it's job is to provide information."

Sutiyoso stressed, however, that his remarks did not mean that the local police were doing a bad job with the intelligence they were provided, saying that the local police have very limited resources.

"A small town like that, the officers are limited. There are only 42 officers there," he said.

Sutiyoso added that critics and opponents of the president were quick to heap blame on the government, possibly to deligitimize Joko's leadership.

"There are those who are using this incident to attack Jokowi, attack the government, me as BIN chief and attack the National Police chief [Badrodin Haiti]," he said referring to the president by his popular nickname.

Sutiyoso has also instructed BIN officials across the country to anticipate a possible backlash in the aftermath of the incident, "particularly in areas which have radical groups."

Joko on Wednesday met with Sutiyoso, Badrodin, military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, Coordinating Minister on Security Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin and Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo.

Teten Masduki, a member of the president's communication team, said Joko issued three instructions in light of the incident at the meeting.

"Firstly, [Joko said] the law must be upheld," Teten said.

The president also said officials in Jakarta and Tolikara must work together to rebuild the damaged facilities. The central government has earmarked Rp 1 billion for the reconstruction and military personnel will assist with the work.

"The president will stage dialogues with religious, tribal and community leaders in Papua to calm the situation there," Teten continued.

Regulation scrutinized

Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo said his office has formed a team to investigate the existence of a regional regulation that supposedly bars Muslims from performing mass prayers like the one on Idul Fitri.

The regulation was cited in flyers circulated to Muslims in Tolikara, purportedly from the Evangelical Church of Indonesia (GIDI), the largest religious group in the district. GIDI has denied issuing the flyer but confirmed that its members were there to stop Muslims from violating the said regulation.

Tolikara district chief Usman Wanimbo denied the existence of the regulation during a meeting with Tjahjo in Jakarta on Tuesday.

However, Usman acknowledged another discriminatory regulation, which bars Christian denominations aside from GIDI from establishing a church in Tolikara.

Tjahjo said his office will send a team to Tolikara and examine documents related to all regional regulations.

"We have asked this to the district chief and the leaders of the regional house of representatives.

"They said they will scour through their files but even they couldn't find [the regulation] because their filing system is a mess," he said.

"All regional regulations must be sent to the Home Affairs ministry so we can verify whether it is in line with the Constitution and other [national] laws and regulations," he said.

"I have repealed 139 regional regulations but none of it is from Tolikara. We have certainly never heard of such regulation let alone signed off on it."

Tjahjo said the district could face an administrative sanction for enforcing a law that has not secured ministerial approval — a step necessary to get a regional regulation to enter into force.