The Indonesian government is preparing to expel the Jakarta representative of the International Crisis Group after she wrote a series of reports critical of the country's security policies, the Brussels-based organization said Friday.
Sidney Jones, a U.S citizen who has established herself as a leading analyst on terrorism and political conflict in Indonesia, said the government refused to renew her work permit and said it would not extend her residency permit when it expires in two weeks.
In a rare public comment on Thursday, Indonesia's intelligence chief, A.M. Hendropriyono, said he was tired of responding to reports by the ICG, a non-profit research group. Hendropriyono told reporters that ICG studies "were not all true" and that "actions should be taken against those . . . who damage the country's image."
Since her arrival in Jakarta two years ago, Jones has been widely quoted in local and foreign media as a security expert. Her report in 2002 about a network of Muslim militants linked to radical cleric Abubakar Baasyir focused attention on religious extremism when many Indonesian politicians were seeking to play down its danger. Two months later, extremists from the underground group allegedly led by Baasyir bombed two nightclubs on the island of Bali, killing 202 people.
Since then, ICG has released 14 studies about Indonesia, including several criticizing government policies in the troubled provinces of Aceh and Papua, where security forces are trying to put down separatist uprisings.
"In every case where an error has been pointed out, very few cases, we have published corrections," Jones said. "If the government knows of other errors in the reports, we'd be happy to learn of them. We stand by the accuracy and content of our reports."
Jones said she was told that her work permit, which expired earlier this month, would not be renewed by the Labor Ministry because of complaints against her. She said she learned these came from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and was told by a government official that the dispute over the permit could only be resolved if she obtained a favorable letter from that agency.
Jones said immigration officials told her this week that she could not remain in the country beyond June 10 unless she received a new work permit.
"I don't think the accuracy of our reports is the real issue here. I think there's another issue that has not been explained to us that might have offended BIN," she said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said he believed no final decision had been made about whether to allow Jones to remain in Indonesia. "It's a clear case of them trying to create a crisis out of nothing," he said. "It's a classic case of Miss Sidney Jones trying to create a martyr out of herself."
He said Indonesian officials were under no obligation to justify their actions if they decided not to extend her permits.
Jones, 51, worked for Human Rights Watch for 14 years before joining ICG as its Indonesia project director. She also lived in Indonesia from 1977 to 1982 while employed by the Ford Foundation and conducting research for a dissertation.
Special correspondent Natasha Tampubolon contributed to this report.