Friday, November 10, 2017

1) Papua separatists dispute Indonesia's claim of holding villagers hostage


2) Indonesia warns of tough response after Papuan rebels threaten Freeport 
3) Indonesia police locked in standoff with armed Papua separatists
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1) Papua separatists dispute Indonesia's claim of holding villagers hostage
Updated about 6 hours ago


A member of an armed separatist group in Indonesia's Papua region has disputed police claims that it is holding villagers hostage during a standoff with security forces.

Key points:

  • Separatist commander Hendrik Wanmang says Indonesian military and police want to damage the TNP's image
  • Police are calling the group an armed criminal gang and accusing it of attacks on civilians
  • Indonesian security minister has asked security officials to peacefully persuade the separatists to leave


The remote region's long-simmering insurgency has flared in the past month, with one paramilitary police officer killed and six others wounded in attacks by the National Liberation Army of West Papua.
The two sides are also waging a PR war, with police calling the group an armed criminal gang and accusing it of attacks on civilians.
Hendrik Wanmang, who described himself as a commander of the armed group that goes by the Indonesian acronym TNP, said in an interview on Friday (local time) that Banti and Kimbeli villagers cannot go to an area the
 separatists defined as a battlefield with security forces because it is unsafe.
But otherwise villagers are free to go to their farms and move about as they please, he said.



On Thursday, police said a group of about 100, including 25 gunmen, were occupying the two villages and preventing 1,300 people from leaving.
Several hundred of the people are migrant workers from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
"It's not true, it's only the provocation of Indonesian military and police with the aim of damaging our image," Mr Wanmang said.
"People there are safe, both natives and non-natives are free to do activities as usual."

Area near US-owned mine declared a battlefield

Mr Wanmang was one of two commanders who signed an October 21 statement warning of unspecified retribution against security forces for alleged brutality against indigenous Papuans.
The letter declared an area near the US-owned Grasberg gold and copper mine as a battlefield.
The mine owned by Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc is a source of tension in the region due to environmental damage and indigenous Papuans' resentment at profits from local resources being sent abroad.


A low-level insurgency for independence has simmered in Papua since it was transferred from Dutch to Indonesian rule in 1963.
The region, which makes up the western half of the island of New Guinea, was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 following a UN-sponsored ballot of tribal leaders that has since been dismissed as a sham.
Indonesia maintains a heavy security presence in the region and restricts foreign journalists from freely reporting there.
Mr Wanmang said police descriptions of TNP as an armed criminal group and accusations of crimes against civilians were a tactic to discredit the Papuan independence movement.
"We are not a new group, we are not a criminal group," he said.
"We are a separatist group who fought for Papua from generation to generation demanding the sovereignty of the people of Papua, demanding Papuan independence, separate from Indonesia."
Security minister Wiranto, who goes by one name, has asked security officials to peacefully persuade the separatists to leave.
Military commander Gatot Nurmantyo said in a statement on Friday that the villagers are "hostages" and the military is conducting surveillance of their villages. With police, it hopes to negotiate a solution but is readying other measures.
"We are also preparing ways that are hard and must be done very thoroughly," he said.
"Currently we are working closely with police and setting up a joint team in handling the problem."
AP
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2) Indonesia warns of tough response after Papuan rebels threaten Freeport 

10 Nov 2017 09:10PM
Indonesia's military said on Friday it was prepared to take tough measures against rebels who have threatened to "destroy" the mining operations of Freeport-McMoRan Inc in the eastern province of Papua in their independence struggle.

JAKARTA: Indonesia's military said on Friday it was prepared to take tough measures against rebels who have threatened to "destroy" the mining operations of Freeport-McMoRan Inc in the eastern province of Papua in their independence struggle.
Police say an armed separatist group linked to the Free Papua Movement (OPM) is preventing about 1,000 people in five villages from leaving an area near the giant Grasberg copper mine, operated by a unit of the Arizona-based company.
A state of emergency has been declared and at least 300 additional security forces have been deployed to the area after a string of shootings since Aug. 17 killed one police officer and wounded six.
The group, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM), on Friday denied occupying villages near the mine.
Hendrik Wanmang, a representative of TPN-OPM, said none of its more than 2,000 fighters was stationed in the villages.
"We cannot mingle with the community," Wanmang said in a telephone interview. "That would endanger them.”

Wanmang also denied police allegations his group had carried out rape and torture of civilians, saying villagers were "continuing to carry out activities as usual”. But he warned that Freeport employees and security personnel remained in the area at their own risk.
"We are at war against the National Police, Indonesian military and Freeport," he said. "(TPN-OPM) will continue to fight until the root of this problem - Freeport - is removed," Wanmang said.
A Freeport Indonesia spokesman declined to comment.
Papua Police spokesman Suryadi Diaz said the situation in the villages near the town of Tembagapura was "conducive" and the community was functioning "as usual".
"They aren't hostage, but if you want to get to these villages you have to get past this armed criminal group," Diaz said, referring to the OPM.
Police were taking "persuasive steps" to resolve the conflict through negotiations and dialogue with community, religious and tribal leaders, he said.
Authorities made conflicting statements about the situation.
Indonesian military chief Gatot Nurmayanto said the group had taken hostages in the villages and the army would take a "hard" approach if necessary.
Tough measures, including armed conflict, would be a last resort if negotiations with the group failed to resolve the issue, Papua military commander George Enaldus Supit said later, clarifying the statement.
Wanmang said his group was not interested in negotiating.
"If the government wants to send millions of national police and Indonesian military troops to protect the Freeport area, go ahead - they are just trying to protect the deception."
The Grasberg mine has been dogged by security concerns for decades, as pro-independence rebels have waged a low-level conflict in Papua. Between 2009 and 2015, shootings in the mine project area killed 20 people and wounded 59.
More recently, Freeport, the world's largest publicly listed copper producer, has been grappling with labour problems at Grasberg and a mine rights dispute with Indonesia.
The Freeport dispute is likely to overshadow efforts by President Joko Widodo's government to resolve conflict in Papua, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said.
"Any violence in the Freeport area can involve multiple actors with multiple interests," it said in a recent report. "Even if the OPM is blamed, Papuans will be asking who else was involved."
(Reporting by Fergus Jensen and Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by John Chalmers and Nick Macfie)
Source: Reuters
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3) Indonesia police locked in standoff with armed Papua separatists
News Desk AFP

Jayapura | Fri, November 10, 2017 | 07:35 pm

Indonesian authorities and armed separatists were locked in a tense standoff near a huge US-owned  mine in restive eastern Papua province Friday, with both sides blaming each other for what police claimed was a hostage crisis.
Some 700 heavily armed Indonesian military personnel encircled two villages near US firm Freeport-McMoRan's gold and copper mine, where they claimed an armed separatist group was keeping 1,300 residents against their will.
Villagers have been prevented from entering or leaving their small communities for two days, but have so far not been harmed, authorities said earlier Friday.
"These people are from a criminal group that commit violence and intimidation -- what they want is war," local police chief Victor Dean Macbon told AFP.
"For now we are prioritising pre-emptive and preventive measures. We still have not forced our way in because we don't want the villagers victimised," he added.
The separatists, part of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), have been fighting a long-running insurgency marked by periodic bouts of violence.
Backers of the group and an official at Indonesia's human rights body said the gunmen were not holding locals hostage but rather, protecting residents from the police and military.
The villages are in an area where there have been a string of recent shootings, including one last month that left a policeman dead. 
Natalius Pigai, an official with the National Human Rights Commission, said the villagers feared the military and suggested it was waging a public relations campaign to portray the separatists as criminals.
"People are terrified, that's why (the Free Papua group) are standing guard...so the military cannot enter," he said, adding that many of the gunmen had family members in the villages.
"I assure you there is no hostage situation. It is impossible (they) would hold their own relatives hostage."
A Papua police force spokesman said the group was trying to disrupt activities at the nearby mine, but Freeport said it had not received any demands from the group and its operations were unaffected.
The region is off limits to foreign journalists without special permission, making the accounts difficult to verify.
Read also: Second shooting in two days reported in Freeport mining area, Papua
Papua has faced a low-level insurgency since it was annexed by Indonesia in the late sixties, with Freeport's mine frequently a flashpoint in the struggle for independence and a bigger share of the region's rich resources.
Authorities said Friday they have been communicating with local religious and community leaders in a bid to end the standoff. 
However, Indonesia's top military chief Gatot Nurmantyo warned that the military was ready to end the crisis in a "hard" way if negotiations fail.

 Indonesia police locked in standoff with armed Papua separatists
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