Extremism and Double Standards: "Terrorists," "Rebels," and the State in Indonesia


  • Sidney Jones

How do jihadists and militant Papuan pro-independence groups in Indonesia analyze each other's behavior? How do government policies toward the two groups differ? Why does the murder of a policeman warrant a murder charge when committed by a Papuan guerrilla but a terrorism charge when committed by a jihadist? Why is speech in favor of independence banned but speech exhorting the killing of deviants allowed? Why are "deradicalisation" programs, such as they are, aimed only at jihadists and not at Papuan militants? Why is the Papuan independence flag banned while flags that promise an Islamic caliphate are allowed? Some inconsistencies may be unavoidable, but when "terrorists" are not producing mass casualties and some "rebels" are beginning to target civilians, it may be time to rethink policies toward both. Sidney Jones will address these disparities using evidence drawn from interviews and from these groups’ own statements and actions.

Sidney Jones is a globally acclaimed expert on inter-group conflict in Southeast Asia. Topics she has covered for ICG include radical Islamism and communal violence in Indonesia and the Philippines. Previously she held positions with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Ford Foundation. Her writings in 2011–12 have appeared in Southeast Asian Affairs 2011, The Straits Times, and Strategic Review among other outlets. Her earlier work includes Making Money Off Migrants: The Indonesian Exodus to Malaysia (2000). A frequent media interviewee, she also lectures widely—most recently in Sydney on extremism and democracy in Indonesia at the Australian Institute of International Affairs. Based in Jakarta, she has spent Fall 2012 as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.


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