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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs