by SAM ABRAMS
Meet Mufti Makaarim al-Akhlaq. A good-humored 33-year-old, Mufti is the executive director of the Institute for Defense, Security and Peace Studies (IDSPS). IDSPS, advocates for security sector reform.
Mufti became politically active in the mid-1990s with PMII (Pergerakan Mahasiswa Islam Indonesia — the Indonesian Muslim Student Movement), a group that challenged President Suharto’s policies. Along with the Legal Aid Foundation, which had worked with PMII, PMII helped establish KontraS, also known as The Commission for “the Disappeared” and Victims of Violence) in March 1998. In 2007, he took charge of IDSPS.
The military’s idea of reform is incomplete, Mufti says. Though it has made some significant changes, the military resists robust inquiry into its past. “If we deny this, the past abuses,” Mufti says, “we create a precedent for the future.”
When people challenge his nationalist credentials and accuse him of being an instrument of foreign interests, Mufti has a ready answer:
We can check who is the most nationalist … I never took the money from the government or abused the power … I worked with no support from the government. I keep working for this. I have been doing this from 1994. Nobody cared about that but I still worked for it. I’ve been arrested by the military. I’ve been arrested by police, but I never stopped doing this. Who is the nationalist one?
“After that,” Mufti says, “they say ‘Okay, okay.’”