News / Asia

    Indonesian Prison Program Teaches Nonviolence to Imprisoned Terrorists

    Inmates at Tangerang prison in Jakarta leave their cells to participate in conflict resolution training
    Inmates at Tangerang prison in Jakarta leave their cells to participate in conflict resolution training

    Multimedia

    After learning that a new terrorist group had sprung up in the Indonesian prison system earlier this year, officials put in place a new program aimed to blunt the influence of radical Islamists among the inmate population.  

    Conflict resolution training is now part of the routine for inmate at Tangerang prison in the capital, Jakarta.

    The program was developed by the international organization Search For Common Ground. The classes examine why these prisoners used violence in the past, the consequences of their actions and nonviolent solutions.

    "We teach them and we train them how to make the switch from destructive behavior to the constructive behavior," said Agus Nahrowi from Search For Common Ground.  Instructors also use games to emphasize how cooperation and collaboration can help people achieve their goals.

    Some inmates at the training facility have been convicted of participating in terrorist acts. None agreed to be interviewed.

    Inmate Edy Purnanan is incarcerated for what he describes as charges related to child protection.  He said the training is helping all of the prisoners deal with their anger and violent impulses.  After attending sessions, Purnanan said, participants were open to the idea of solving problems without violence.  

    The new emphasis on this type of training was put in place after Indonesian security forces discovered a new terrorist organization operating in the country in February.  Police say raids captured or killed most of its members.  Police later learned that the leaders had been using prisons to recruit members and even plan operations, said Tito Karnavian, who is in charge of Indonesia's anti-terrorist unit.

    "But what happened in the prison, they can convene and sit and discuss freely and safe and secure, by the government. That's happening," said Karnavian.

    Most of the prisoners here come from a background of poverty.  Security analyst Sidney Jones, with the International Crisis Group, said such people are vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist organizations.

    "We have a number of young prisoners who have joined up in a radical movement out of a kind of a sense of idealism that they were doing something active to defend fellow Muslims in other countries or, indeed, at home," Jones said.

    A key goal of the conflict management training is to counter this kind of influence of radical Islamist leaders in prisons.

    In the prison mosque, moderate Muslim clerics provide religious guidance, emphasizing what  they say is Islam's message of peace. The prison also offers inmates training for jobs in the garment industry, food service and a variety of vocations.

    The head of development at Tangerang prison Pujo Hartinto said these voluntary programs are having some success in helping inmates who want to change. But he added hardcore radicals in prison refuse to participate. And Hartinto said it is not easy to change people with strong beliefs  related to terrorism.

    "The easiest thing would be to insure that prisoners don't have access to cell phones," said International Crisis Group security analyst Sidney Jones. "Cell phones are the most critical element of communication and planning and so on."  And Jones believes would-be terrorist recruits need to be separated from the other inmates.

    While acknowledging that rehabilitation programs like the one in Tangerang prison are important, Jones warned that radical leaders among the population must be isolated or Indonesian prisons will continue to be provide space for terrorist recruitment and planning.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.