Ratih - rakyat terlatih (Indonesia)

Country: Indonesia
Details of Formation: Ratih is a general term that refers to military trained militia groups. Apparently such groups already existed under the reign of Suharto (no evidence or activities for that time). At the end of 1998 there was a plan to form a new Ratih that was supposed to help maintain national security. Due to resistance, this group was never created but instead a similar group called Wanra. But, there are activities reported about a group called Ratih being active in East Timor in 1999 during the independence fight. Therefore, the coding of the group solely refers to the group being active in East Timor. Its existence is based on Law No. 20 of 1982 which concerns Particulars for Defence and Security. The formation date is the date when the recruitment of the militia started.
Details of Termination: On 25 October 1999 the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was established by resolution 1272 passed by the UN Security Council. The UNTAET was responsible for administration, security and maintaining law in the transition period for an independent state of East Timor, which was officially created in May 2002.There is no information about Ratih after 1999.
Purpose: The overarching goal was to employ the group for assistance in maintaining national security and public order. While formally under the law, the militia’s existence was based on tasks including internal as well as external security, it was only used for internal matters such as putting down rebellions and assisting the police or army in its duties. One event Ratih was meant to control, for instance, was the general election in 1999.
Organisation: The group was under the control of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) and the Ministry of Defence and Security. Formally, it was subordinated to the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was part of the People's Defense and Security System in which it was to act as assistance to ABRI. Kamra and Wanra were formally headed by Ratih during Suharto’s period.
Weapons and Training: There were plans to train the group and accordingly most members apparently received basic military training. The group was armed, not just with sticks and batons as it was promised by the government, but also had deadly weapons such as machetes and bamboo spears.
Size: --
Reason for Membership: While there were plans to pay members of the militia, there is no information whether this payment was actually provided after Ratih’s establishment.
Treatment of Civilians: The group was responsible for the killing of civilians and intimidated them with its violent behavior. It also limited the rights of civilians to express their opinions by putting down government criticism.
Other Information: Ratih seems to be a rather general term as it refers to civilian groups assisting the military. During the reign of Suharto it was apparently part of the overall security system. Wanra and Kamra were supposedly sub-groups of Ratih but the distinction did not seem to be clear. No activities from these groups are reported during Suharto’s reign. After Suharto’s resignation in 1998, plans for a new Ratih were not approved. There is only evidence for a rather small group called Ratih in East Timor. Its name literally means “Trained People”.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.