Kamra (Indonesia)

Country: Indonesia
Details of Formation: A group called Kamra was already active under the reign of Suharto (no evidence during that time). After Suharto’s resignation in 1998, it was decided that the military recruits and trains troops for this new security force (no connection to a Kamra group during Suharto’s reign). This action was legitimized by Presidential Degree No. 55 of 1978. The recruitment, which focused on unemployed youths, started on January 11, 1999, while training started a month later.
Details of Termination: The government disbanded the group after two years as the government could not afford to extend its two-year contract.
Purpose: The militia was formed to ensure security during election periods and when riots or violence occurred, as well as to inform the government about potential hotspots of violence. More generally, it served as a civilian auxiliary force for the military and the police, which it assisted, and had the authority to carry out some of its duties. It was especially responsible for regional security and also guarded public events. In addition, the government used it as a means to get people out of unemployment and involved in public security.
Organisation: The group was supervised by the city police and received funding from the government. The city military command was in charge of recruitment. The PGM was an auxiliary force to the army and police and cooperated with both, it was also authorized to carry out police duties. Kamra was under the command of the army territorial hierarchy and in emergencies under that of the army area commander. Unlike other similar militias, it was formed outside the Home Affairs Ministry structure.
Weapons and Training: The group received training from the military, which consisted of a two weeks minimum training in an army camp and afterwards three to four months of operational training. Members learned how to assist the police and provide security. Weapons included batons and bamboo sticks, as well as shields.
Size: --
Reason for Membership: Joining the militia was an employment opportunity for the growing number of unemployed people at the time. The (false) prospect of later joining the army or police may also have been an incentive to become a member.
Treatment of Civilians: While the government intended task of the group was to provide public security, there is no information on its effectiveness at doing so. There were fears that the militia would be used against political opposition and it was sometimes criticized for attacking student protests and being thugs. It also caused disruption when members’ protest against the PGM’s dissolution turned violent.
Other Information: There was controversy surrounding the group. Kamra has been deemed to have diluted the army’s authority. After the group’s disbandment was announced, some members protested this decision in a demonstration that turned violent.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.