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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs         24  June 2011

Indonesia urged to tackle hate speech

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The nation’s antiterrorism czar has called on the state to toughen laws against hate speech and paramilitary training in the wake of rising security fears.

“Promoting anarchy by encouraging people to burn, destroy and expel [certain groups] are initial actions that can trigger terrorism,” Ansyaad Mbai, the head of the National Anti-Terrorism Agency (BNPT), said on Thursday.

“This includes paramilitary training and sermons that spread hatred, which are not yet regulated.”

Speaking at a seminar in Jakarta, Ansyaad said the government needed to revise the Anti-Terrorism Law to restrict such activities.

“We have realized for some time now that terrorism is not something that cannot be fought by law enforcement alone,” he said, referring to the acts of violence and the rise of radicalism that have occurred since the law was passed in 2003.

But Thamrin Amal Tamagola, a sociologist with University of Indonesia, said the Constitutional Court had in 2007 revoked two parts of the penal code, Articles 154 and 155, which related to spreading hate and encouraging, influencing or motivating others to commit acts of terrorism.

At the time, then -ustice Jimly Asshiddiqie found that the two articles hindered freedom of opinion and thought, which are guaranteed by the Constitution.

Thamrin said he hoped that an article on the subject be inserted in a revision of the Anti-Terrorism Law, including a minimum three years imprisonment for violators.

Ansyaad believed that regulations should be revised to carry more severe sanctions to increase their value as a deterrent.

“We still have recidivists who came out of jail and then became recruiters and planners of terrorist attacks. Prolonging the sentence and isolation and denying remission for them would be policies that can be used,” he said.

BNPT Deputy Chief Brig. Gen. Petrus Golose said the revised law should also take aim at hate speech on the Internet.

“There are many reasons for people to choose the online medium to spread the message: it is secure, efficient, and effective. It is no surprise that terrorists are using it as well,” he said.

He pointed out how slain terrorist mastermind Noordin M. Top used to give orders and attack plans via Internet chat rooms on Anshar, a Web site that has since been shut down.

“[2002 Bali bomb mastermind] Imam Samudra was also known to recruit people via mIRC,” he said, referring to a popular Microsoft chat room. He added that there were several blogs that carried messages of jihad and war against the secular government of Indonesia.

Dhyah Madya Ruth, chairwoman of Lazuardi Birru, a group that aims to educate youths about the dangers of extremism, also supported a legal basis for programs to help temper radicalism.

“The law should legitimize deradicalization programs by government institutions and civil society organizations that use re-orientation, re-education, re-socialization and rehabilitation,” Dhyah said.

Azyumardi Azra, director of post-graduate studies at Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic University, said mosques needed closer scrutiny to prevent infiltration by radical elements.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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