BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Chinese Vietnamese Burmese Thai Indonesian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Asia-Pacific  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 15:42 GMT
Unease over anti-terror decrees
Indonesian military
Activists fear the military may regain lost powers
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has signed two emergency anti-terrorism decrees amid international pressure to move against suspected militants in the wake of the Bali bombing.

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri
Under pressure: President Megawati
An anti-terrorism bill had been languishing in parliament for months, held up because of concerns the measures undermined human rights.

But political leaders said the Bali attack - which left nearly 200 dead - had transformed the legislation into an act of necessity.

However such anti-terrorism laws are extremely controversial in Indonesia, where previous governments have seriously abused security laws.

The country is struggling to build a strong democracy following decades of authoritarian rule under presidents Sukarno and Suharto.

Dictatorial history

Before the Bali bombing, the government repeatedly stressed that it did not want to adopt the strong-arm tactics of neighbours like Malaysia and Singapore, where suspects can be held indefinitely without trial under controversial internal security laws.

Former President Suharto
Dictator Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron fist

Sidney Jones, project director at the conflict-resolution organisation International Crisis Group, has said there are serious concerns over the extent to which the military may be given a role in fighting terrorism.

The military had been losing some of its powers as the country stressed the need for democracy.

Any anti-terrorism legislation, Ms Jones said, had the potential for alarming people because "the word terrorism is so loaded, and most anti-terror laws are designed to be harsher" than ordinary laws.

Activists are wary of any laws that could stifle hard-won freedoms which have only been available since 1998 when former President Suharto fell from power following widespread rioting.

His dictatorship was accused by human rights activists of illegally detaining opponents of his three-decade long rule.

Indonesians are now proud of their free press and their new-found tradition of protest against the government since mobs succeeded in ousting Suharto.

Anti-terrorism legislation has been deeply unpopular with some Muslim groups who fear it could be directed against them.

President Megawati's coalition government relies on the same Muslim groups for support, and it is widely believed that this will force her into treading carefully.


Key stories

Eyewitness

Background

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes