Fri, 18 Aug 2000

Negotiators behind peaceful rallies

JAKARTA (JP): Smarting from the past, when demonstrations were prone to clashes between protesters and security personnel, police have found a recipe for dealing with street rallies, regardless of their size, during the Annual Session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) now underway.

Unlike the old security arrangements which put the rank and file in front, the National Police now lets middle- and high- ranking officers spearhead the security personnel handling demonstrations.

Called the negotiators, these officers have the main task of preventing unnecessary clashes during a rally.

"We have replaced privates with higher-ranking officers in the front line. Although they are normally able to remain cooler than privates, they also received a special briefing before serving during the MPR Annual Session," Sr. Supt. Guliansyah, who is in charge of security affairs during the MPR session, told Antara.

There are 200 police officers with special qualifications as negotiators. Specialized in anticipating possible deadlock in negotiations with demonstrators, the work of the negotiators looks to have been successful.

"Usually, we persuade the protesters to arrange their own schedule and the location of their rallies, which is usually in front of the MPR compound. So if the protesters come from various groups they will not fight against each other," First Insp. Listen Pasaribu said. (dja)