Securitisation of terrorism in Indonesia

Wibisono, Ali Abdullah (2015) Securitisation of terrorism in Indonesia. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This study explores the securitising move attempted by the government of President Megawati Sukarnoputri through the promulgation of Interim Laws 1/2002 and 2/2002 on Terrorism Crime Eradication and their stipulation as statutes in 2003 are examined in this study. This study also examines the discussion of the meaning of and appropriate responses to terrorism in Indonesia’s mainstream print media before (1998-2002) and after (2003-2010) with reference to the securitisation process. The goal of this thesis is to illustrate the continuing influence of the political meaning of terrorism on the articulated speech act of the government and the responses of the audiences.

This study shows that the political interpretation of terrorism continually influences its treatment as a public issue, politicised issue and securitised issue. Before its securitisation, terrorism was interpreted as politically motivated violence intended to create disorder and communal conflicts, destabilise the executive power and thwart attempts to put former President Suharto on trial. Terrorism was also seen as an attempt to discredit Indonesian Islam as the perpetrators were described as belonging to an Islamic group. In the aftermath of the 2002 Bali bombings, these political interpretations were overcome by the securitisation of terrorism as an extra-ordinary crime. The choice of language (repertoire) of the government’s securitising move indicated an absence of the presentation of an existential threat to state survival. Instead, it emphasised the lack of legal instruments available to respond to terrorism as an extra-ordinary crime. The securitising move also eliminated the political meaning of the concept of terrorism. Interim Law 1/2002 on Terrorism Eradication Law adopted the exclusion of terrorism crime from political violence.

The inherently political meaning of terrorism in Indonesia means that its securitisation rhetoric must choose a language of exceptionalism without invoking identities and political antagonisms. The presentation of terrorism as an extra-ordinary crime which needed immediate legal handling facilitated its approval in the parliament. On the other hand, the explicitly non-political interpretation of terrorism by-passed the differences between interpretations of terrorism and security concepts in the securitisation’s wider audiences.

The success of the securitisation process, indicated by the approval of the stipulation of the Interim Laws as statutes, changed the way terrorism is discussed publicly: as a continuing danger which manifested in acts of terrorism, as part of global (Islamic) terrorism problem, as a religious radicalism problem, and as a problem of professional capacity of the security apparatuses. Nevertheless, it did not put the public’s political interpretation of terrorism to an end. Two notable frames, the connection between acts of terrorism and local and national elections and their interpretation as a means to discredit Indonesian Islam continued to appear in the media coverage.

This study provides a compelling explanation of how the government adjusted its speech acts to frame terrorism as exceptional and one requiring different responses depending upon the prevailing narrative of the time. The adoption of an extraordinary measure in the aftermath of the Bali bombing was accomplished without the presentation of an existential threat as that would have been counter-productive. This study thus provides an excellent account of Indonesian policy and adds to our understanding of how issues can be securitised.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Eadie, P.
Rees, G.W.
Keywords: Securitisation, Identity, Discourse Analysis, Terrorism
Subjects: H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Politics and International Relations
Item ID: 29289
Depositing User: Wibisono, Ali
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2016 10:58
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 13:24

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