Jakarta. Monday’s deadly shootings of unarmed protestors by security forces in Papua that killed as many as five teenagers, has sparked fears that a new era of violence in Indonesia’ easternmost region has begun.
Analysts speculate that the recent violence may have been fueled by an emboldened Indonesian Military (TNI) following the president’s announcement last month of his support for the military’s plan to open a new regional military command (Kodam) in Papua.
Adriana Elizabeth, a researcher with Indonesia Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said the military may use the deadly incident as a pretext to increase their presence in the troubled area where the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM) is said to have a presence.
“The latest clash also could trigger new misconceptions towards Papuans. The protest has already been attributed to the leadership of a separatist movement, [however] the cause that actually motivated the protest was merely a protest made by people whose children were abused by security officers,” Adriana said.
Activists united on Monday to reject the government’s plan to boost the military’s presence in the region, arguing the move would be unnecessary and against Joko’s initial commitment to resolve long-standing human rights issues in the country.
A large majority of Indonesia’s current human right abuses, activists say, take place in Papua, where some 16,000 people have been killed since 1969, when 1,025 Papuans selected by the military voted at gunpoint in an “Act of Free Choice” to join the Republic of Indonesia.
“The plan to expand the number of regional military commands in Papua is a wrong, desperate and baseless step taken by Joko’s government in an effort to end conflict in the area,” said Haris Azhar, coordinator for the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), on Tuesday.
“That plan should have never been initiated in the first place.”
According to the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), more than 16,000 soldiers are currently deployed in region. Add to that the ranks of local police, and the total number of security officers in Papua exceeds the number of indigenous people, according to activists.
The military’s presence in Papua, Hais says, is comparable to martial law applied in Aceh from 1990-1998, when TNI declared the province a military operation region.
“The [government’s] plan [to increase the military’s presence] is a form of injustice to indigenous Papuans. With the additional military power, they will feel less secure. The plan must be cancelled immediately,” he added.
Poengky Indarty, Imparsial’s executive director, echoed this sentiment, saying the plan was indicative of the state’s poor understanding of the underlying problems now plaguing Papua.
“In addition, the president’s plan to form Kodam in Manado and Papua could destroy the ongoing military reform,” Poengky said. “The reform was supposed refine our military’s structure, culture and policy so that it could become a professional national security force.
“This also could be a sign that TNI’s role will regress to what it was in [Soeharto’s] New Order era.
“Imparsial therefore rejects the plan, and we even urge President Joko to discard existing of regional military command structure in Indonesia,” she added.
Power breeds violence
Increased military presence in Papua will likely exacerbate violence there, Kontras’ Haris said.
“The additional number of security forces could trigger more violence in Papua,” Haris said, referring to the latest bloodbath in Paniai district, Enarotali, which took place earlier this week.
At least four teenagers were shot dead at the hands of security forces and 21 protesters severely injured, including women and children. Police said they dispatched a special team to the mountainous Paniai district on Tuesday to investigate the incident.
National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti suggested the violence may have been orchestrated by the Free Papua Movement (OPM), which has waged a low-level insurgency against Jakarta for decades on behalf of the mostly ethnic Melanesian population.
According to Imparsial’s Poengky, the planned military expansion indicates the seventh president is doubling down on the same security paradigm as his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in viewing the root of Papua’s problems as limited to separatism.
The rights activist also questioned commitments Joko made in his presidential campaign, during which the former Jakarta governor vowed to resolve Indonesia’s past and current human rights abuses, including in Papua.
The appointment as defense minister of Ryamizad Ryacudu met with widespread criticism by human rights activists, who say the former general’s leadership of several military campaigns in Aceh and Papua, led to widespread human rights abuses.
Activists point to Ryamizad’s involvement in operations against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Free Papua Organization (OPM) as their main objection for what they say is his unsuitability for the job of leading the defense ministry.
LIPI’s Adriana questioned the motive behind the state’s intentions to boost military power in Papua.
“What is the purpose of this military increment? What does government plan to achieve?” Adriana said on Tuesday.
“Whatever their reason, one thing must be underlined: the state security approach won’t end the violence in Papua,” Adriana said. “There’s a valid concern going on that the president himself doesn’t understand what the problem is.
“This would also indicate that people around Joko don’t provide him with adequate information about the province,” Adriana added.
The researcher emphasized that the government’s plan for additional military forces was not in line with dialogic approach previously proposed by LIPI, arguing that a peaceful dialogue would be the preferable way of ending Papua’s violence and poverty.
“For years, the security approach didn’t bear any significant results. Instead, it has fostered a sense of alienation among the indigenous Papuans. Tthey don’t feel like they are a part of Indonesia,” Adriana said.
“Military power has failed to provide safety. On the contrary, it has traumatized the people of Papua. The solution must be simultaneous, comprehensive and take into consideration human value,” Adriana said.
“Dialogue provides the best avenue for solving Papua’s problems.”
“In addition, we cannot separate the issues of security and social welfare in Papua,” Adriana said, emphasizing that social welfare in Papua is highly related to the political instability of the region.
“But how can the government provide security and welfare if every incidence of violence in the area is associated with a separatist movement?” Adriana said.
“Certain parts of the government are quick to politicize every single clash that erupts in the province. That’s a discriminatory way of viewing the region and the problems it faces. We will see no changes in the next five years if the state maintains this attitude,” Adriana said.
Despite having disbursed Rp 57 trillion ($4.9 billion) in welfare funds since Papua was granted special autonomy status, or Otsus, in 2001, the province continues to struggle with extreme poverty, poor infrastructure and a severe lack of educational and heath care facilities.
Lawmaker Dede Yusuf underlined the dire need for adequate health facilities in the region.
“On our visit to Jayawijaya, we discovered that the medical staff and equipment in existing facilities fall far below standard. The area has a very limited range and supply of medication,” Dede said on Tuesday.
“Furthermore, the residents are not yet registered with the national health care plan,” he added, referring to the program managed under the country’s Social Insurance Organizing Body, or BPJS.
“The conditions we saw were disconcerting to say the least and must be addressed immediately so that the people of Papua may finally receive sufficient and adequate health services,” Dede said.
Slow train coming
On Monday, President Joko announced government plans to start building a railroad network in Papua next year.
“We hope the provincial development agency will support our efforts so that construction can start as soon as possible,” the president said during a teleconference with district heads and governors from Papua and Maluku.
“We want the railways to reach Papua’s higher elevated areas,” he said, adding that preliminary studies are projected to last six months, after which construction would immediately start.
Railways on the island of Biak, located off the northern coast of Papua, will also be reactivated.
“We want the [country’s] railway development to start immediately,” Joko said.
“It is high time for the Eastern part of Indonesia to receive more attention from the central government.
“We want to start developing together, maintain the unity [of the nation], and manage our border areas,” he added.
3) Post-clashes security condition in Papua under control: Senior minister
Jakarta. President Joko Widodo reiterated on Tuesday that he is committed to resolving past human rights cases.
Observers and activists met the claim, which comes less than a week after the attorney general announced his office will not pursue further prosecutions for the 2004 assassination of rights activist Munir Said Thalib, with some skepticism.
“The government is committed to resolving past cases of human rights violations justly,” the president said during a visit to Yogyakarta in observance of International Human Rights Day, which is today.
Joko said the 1945 Constitution guaranteed fulfillment of all Indonesians’ human rights, making it important for the government to resolve violations.
To this end, the president announced the government’s plans to convene a truth and reconciliation commission, as well as ad hoc human rights tribunals.
That news should have been greeted as a positive step by rights campaigners who have long called for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission.
Hope for realization of Joko’s plan to convene such a body has been dampened both by recent rights disappointments and political prospects for its future support, which remains cloudy at best.
The last time a president tried to convene a truth and reconciliation commission was during the late Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid’s administration; the military put the kibosh on that plan.
According to Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, efforts to unravel past human rights cases have mostly been undermined by the legislature, which has blocked the formation of truth and reconciliation commissions or rights tribunals.
But activists point to what they say is weak commitment by the Attorney General’s Office as the real reason for failures to resolve past rights violations. They point to least seven cases of gross human rights violations for which law enforcement investigations are still pending.
Among rights campaigners’ recent disappointments was the parole of Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, convicted of activist Munir’s 2004 murder, from Bandung’s Sukamiskin Penitentiary after serving little more than half of his 14-year sentence.
Joko’s pledge also comes amid a bloody police and military crackdown on unarmed civilian protesters in Papua’s Paniai district that left at least four teenagers dead and many more seriously injured.
Hendardi, director of prominent human rights watchdog the Setara Institute, urged the president on Tuesday to get to the bottom of Munir’s murder.
The only person convicted of Munir’s murder was Pollycarpus, a former pilot for flag carrier Garuda Indonesia.
Hendardi cited claims Pollycarpus had acted on orders by National Intelligence Agency (BIN) officials, among them Budi Santoso, then-chief A.M. Hendropriyono and his deputy Muchdi Purwoprandjono, as grounds for reopening the case.
Muchdi was acquitted; Hendropriyono, recently named a senior adviser to Joko, was never charged.
The Setara Institute says Hendropriyono is not the only person in Joko’s inner circle with a checkered human rights record.
The president has also named as his defense minister retired general Ryamizard Ryacudu, who led several military campaigns in Aceh and Papua that resulted countless civilian casualties.
Setara deputy chairman Bonar Tigor Naipospos also questioned Joko’s pick for attorney general, H.M. Prasetyo, whom he said has not shown sufficient commitment to resolving past human rights cases.
Bonar seemed to reserve judgement on Yasonna’s top job at the justice ministry, however, saying only that his ministry “is key to forming various rules and regulations that could determine the face of human rights in Indonesia.”
According to a Setara survey, people’s trust towards Joko’s human rights commitment fell to 36.8 percent this year, compared to 39 percent last year.
Al Araf, program director of the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), said Joko’s administration plans to introduce two controversial bills as priority legislation next year: the State Secrecy Act, expected to curtail people’s right to information and security forces’ accountability, and the National Security Act, which would provide virtually unlimited powers to the Indonesian Military, the National Police and the State Intelligence Agency — all bodies with appalling human rights records.
5) Papua Police arrest weapon thief
Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura | Archipelago | Tue, December 09 2014, 6:50 PM