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In addition to the regular armed forces, there are a variety of militia-style paramilitary formations throughout the country. As of 1992, estimates of the national strength of these forces ranged between 70,000 and 100,000. These units come under the army territorial hierarchy, which provided them with officers and training. In times of emergency, they came under the command of the army area commander.

RATIH is an old idea which was a component of the People's Defense and Security System. In this system, ABRI (the Indonesian Armed Forces) functioned as the main component, and RATIH assisted. RATIH is intended to face both invasions and internal rebellions. KAMRA (People's Security Force) is closely linked to the handling of regional security, while People's Resistance [WANRA] -- which is also a part of RATIH -- relates to facing external enemies. They are different from the Civil Defence Force (HANSIP), and should not be equated with the voluntary militia (PAM SWAKARSA).

HANSIP (Pertahanan Sipil – Civilian Defence Organization) is under government control through the village, sub-districts, counties, while RATIH is under the POLRI [Indonesian National Police]. HANSIP are under the Department of Home Affairs rather than ABRI, but ABRI provides NAHSIP's training and supplies units with their weaponry. HANSIP platoons are established in each village, the members of which come from the village community such as farmers, laborers and others. The system of Indonesia's National Defense and Security is based on "total people's defense and security" which means that the Armed Forces and the entire people are equally responsible for maintaining national security and defense. The Civil Defense Organization is responsible for matters concerning security and order and has to assist the people in emergencies, for example, when in the middle of the night an expecting woman needs help, the village HAN-SIP is to call a doctor or midwife. Organically HANSIP is under the supervision of the district head and the governor of the province.

The PAM SWAKARSA voluntary militia does not have a clear position and does not exist within the state's defense and security structure, which has caused much conflict. In November 1998 ABRI recruited some 125,000 civilians to bolster the defense of the special legislative session preparing for the 1999 elections. Many of the volunteers were recruited from groups notorious for violence, and were eventually withdrawn after numerous brawls with demonstrators. Other officially sanctioned vigilante groups in Central Java have lynched and beheaded strangers suspected of criminal activity.

In late 1998 minister of defense and security General Wiranto proposed the formation of a civilian militia (RATIH) to help maintain order in the country. Indonesian Moslem leader Abdurrahman Wahid endorsed the controversial plan, under the condition that the new militia fall under the control of General Wiranto. However, it did not materialize because it did not receive much support from some segments of the national leadership. The former Chief of Kostrad (Army's Strategic Reserves Command), Lieutenant General (ret.) Kemal Idris, for instance, regarded the establishment of RATIH as an embarrassment to ABRI, particularly the Army. Moslem leader and possible presidential candidate Amien Rais warned that the new formation could lead to abuses from members of the group. R.William Liddle, an observer of the Indonesian political scene at Ohio State University, expressed concern that the establishment of RATIH will only lead to militias "which could easily lose control."

Legal authorization is required to organize Ratih, and at present there is no law that regulates RATIH. Therefore, KAMRA was formed instead. The basis for the establishment of RATIH is the Law No. 20 of 1982 regarding Particulars for Defence and Security, which remained on the books although never implemented. If the term "RATIH" is related to Law No. 20 of 1982, there must automatically be a new authorizing law. But using the term "KAMRA" Presidential Decision No. 55 of 1978 may be be used to provide authorization for the force.

Members of the Indonesian military-recruited civilian auxiliary force, the so-called KAMRA security forces, are civilian paramilitaries recruited and trained by the Indonesian army to serve in its, and the police's, auxiliary units. The KAMRA is organized to assist police personnel, which are rather small in number. At present Indonesia has only 200,000 police personnel. Starting in February 1999 the Indonesian Army began training 40,000 unemployed youths as members of a civilian security force (KAMRA). Recruitment began in January 1999, and each member of Kamra trained for at least trained for two weeks at an educational institution of the Indonesian Army in camps at military area base regiments, with a subsequent three to four months of training "on the job." The training was originally to involve 29,000 persons, but the the number was later increased to 40,000. The civilians selected to assist the security measures are initially to be armed only with shields, batons, and handcuffs, but are authorized to make arrests and to take information from suspects.

According to General Wiranto, the militia forces are "to be assigned in security disturbance-prone areas."

Militias in East Timor

The recruitment members of the community to serve the interests of the armed forces is an integral part of the Indonesian army's "people's defence" doctrine. The para-military forces in East Timor are under the direct command of ABRI, and are not an independent force of vigilantes outside the command structure as is usually claimed. Pro-autonomy militias had a history dating back to 1975 of supporting the Indonesian invaders against FRETILIN. Violence between pro-Indonesia and pro-independence factions mounted since Jakarta's announcement in January 1999 that it could consider independence for the former Portuguese colony if the people rejected an autonomy package.

In early 1999 Major-General Adam Damiri, the commander of the Udayana military command, publicly held a meeting with para-militaries, at which he gave the signal for Operasi Sapu Jagad to start, resulting in many casualties among the population in many parts of East Timor, including the capital Dili. With this act Damiri was in open defiance of Habibie’s decision to give the East Timorese the chance to determine their own political future.

Upwards of 1,200 official civilian militia (PAM SWAKARSA) members were installed at a ceremony in the courtyard of the East Timor governor's office on 20 April 1999. East Timor's police chief defended the recruitment of pro-Indonesia militias into a civil security system, although the recruited militias are widely regarded as being responsible for massacres in Liquisa and Dili. Militia commanders Eurica Guetteras and Manuel de Souza of Aitarak and Besi Merah Putih have been recruited along with their militias into Indonesia's civilian security force PAM SWARKASA.

The United Front for East Timor Autonomy is a coalition that includes the pro-Indonesia Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice (FPDK) and militias. Members of the FPDK [Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice], a pro-integration political organization, has used the militias as its armed wing, although the militias have a different chain of command and receive orders from "other people." FPDK members have participated in the militias' swearing of allegiance ceremonies throughout the territory. The FPDK president, Domingos Soares, is a Dili council administrator. Other pro-integration leaders include Basilio Dias Araujo, and Hermenio da Silva, the Pro-integration Forces (PPI) Chief of Staff.

East Timor Integration Fighters Force [PPI] members from Baucau-based Sector A have four areas of control, namely the Saka and Sera Force in Baucau, Alfa Force in Lospalos, Makikit Force in Viqueque, and Red and White Force in Manatuto. The Dili-based Sector B consists of Aitarak Force in Dili, Red and White Iron Force in Liquica, and the Integration Blood Force in Ermera.

Jose Ramos Horta [vice-president of the National Council of the Timorese Resistance and Nobel Peace laureate in 1996] believes that at least half of the [pro-integration] militias are from West Timor, the side of the island which has always been Indonesian.

Indonesian armed forces are reported to have supplied thousands of shotguns to the various civilian militia in all 13 regencies of East Timor. Armed forces commander Gen. Wiranto, however, denied the military supplied ammunition to the territory to help militia groups intimidate pro-independence East Timorese. Weapons surrender events over the summer of 1999 were based on the resolutions reached at the tripartite agreement on 5 May 1999. The weapons surrenders served as the implementation of several agreements reached by pro- and anti-autonomy groups from April to June 1999. The surrender of weapons by the East Timor Integration Fighters Force [PPI] ended on 19 August 1999 with a ceremony witnessed by Col. Neville Rilei, an UNAMET [United Nations Assessment Mission on East Timor] military liaison officer.

Sources and Resources

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Updated Monday, September 13, 1999 8:02:11 AM