Wednesday, December 12, 2018

1) Indonesia: Papua rebels reject surrender after workers' killing

2) Indonesia has a stake in Australia’s Lombrum plans too
3) Hidden challenges for conservation and development along the Trans- Papuan economic corridor  
1) Indonesia: Papua rebels reject surrender after workers' killing 
Jakarta rules out talks with separatists who vow to continue their armed campaign and fight for an independent Papua.

14 hours ago

Relatives of the workers pictured last week as they gathered to hear news about their family members in Wamena, Papua [Antara Foto/Iwan Adisaputra/via Reuters]

Separatist rebels in Indonesia's far-east Papua province who killed a group of construction workers earlier this month have refused to surrender.
The jungle camp killings of at least 16 labourers last week were a marked escalation in decades of mostly sporadic skirmishes between poorly armed and disorganised fighters and an Indonesian military long accused of gross human rights abuses against civilians.
The rebels said they would continue their armed campaign and fight for an independent Papua, which shares a border with island nation Papua New Guinea, just north of Australia.
"Indonesia came to Papua as a thief - do you think it's right for a homeowner to surrender to thieves?" rebel spokesperson Sebby Sambom told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.
The resource-rich former Dutch colony declared itself independent in 1961, but neighbouring Indonesia took control of the region two years later on the condition it will hold an independence referendum.
Jakarta annexed Papua in 1969 with a United Nations-backed vote that was widely seen as a sham.
In a video posted on YouTube on Monday, Sambom read an open letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo demanding he holds another referendum for native Papuans to decide whether they want to be integrated with Indonesia.
"TPNPB will not surrender under any circumstances before the independence of the nation of Papua is realised from Indonesian occupation," Sambom said, referring to the West Papua National Liberation Army, the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) which claimed responsibility for the jungle camp killings.
"The war will not stop before the demands of the TPNPB are carried out by the government of Indonesia," he said, standing behind the banned separatist Morning Star flag.
Sambom also called for unrestricted access to Papua for foreign journalists, as well as for the UN refugee agency and the international Red Cross to help take care of civilians caught up in the conflict.
Foreign media need permission to report from Papua and obtaining reliable information is difficult.
The rebels' refusal to surrender comes after Wiranto, Indonesia's chief security ministerwho, like many in the country goes by one name, ruled out any discussions with the TPNPB group.
"I won't hold talks with criminals," Wiranto told reporters in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, on Tuesday.
"Whatever they say is a lie. They've committed inhumane crimes."

Calls for full investigation

The 16 victims, employees of a state-owned contractor, were building bridges and roads in a major infrastructure push for Indonesia's most impoverished region.
The rebels claimed the project was military controlled and the workers were legitimate targets.
Indonesia said most of the 16 victims' hands were tied together with some suffering gunshot or knife wounds and blunt-force wounds. One worker was almost decapitated.
At least four more workers remain missing, while a soldier was also killed by rebels, authorities said.
The OPM had accused the military of killing civilians in its operations which it said included bombings.
Wiranto rejected that accusation but said soldiers did use grenades in clashes. Two soldiers were wounded on Tuesday and three separatists had been killed in clashes, the military said.
Human Rights Watch called for a probe into the jungle camp killings and allegations of subsequent civilian deaths.
"A Papua militant group's attack on a work site raises grave concerns that require a full investigation," HRW's Elaine Pearson said in a statement.
"Militants and responding security forces should not inflict harm on ordinary Papuans," she added.
Since coming to power in 2014, Widodo has tried to ease tension in Papua by freeing prisoners, addressing rights concerns and stepping up investment, including through a Trans Papua road.
The Interpreter

2) Indonesia has a stake in Australia’s Lombrum plans too

BY Evan A Laksmana 7 December 2018 10:30 AEDT  

During the November APEC Summit, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the US will work with Australia and Papua New Guinea to develop the Lombrum naval base on Manus Island.
Analysts have debated whether the plan is part of a pushback against Chinese encroachment in the Pacific and how militarily useful the base would be in a future conflict.
But the debate has been focused on the US-China military dimension and almost entirely ignores Indonesia.
The Indonesian military (TNI) has been building its forces in and around eastern Indonesia in recent years. In May, President Jokowi approved the establishment of the Third Infantry Division of the Army’s Strategic Reserve Command in South Sulawesi, the Navy’s Third Armada Command and the Third Marine Force, both in West Papua, and the Air Force’s Third Operational Command in Papua.

While the process of infrastructure building and force restructuring might take several years, the TNI is set to “rebalance” its forces from the western to the eastern part of Indonesia. As the US and Australia build the Lombrum base in the coming years, and perhaps build their capability in and around the Pacific more broadly, engaging Indonesia should be part of the process.
Indonesia-Australia defence cooperation has increased markedly in recent years. But Australian strategic planning should not assume passive neutrality on the part of Indonesia in thinking about a future regional conflict.
Indonesia has a direct stake in ensuring stability in the archipelagic sea lanes that facilitate navigation from the Timor Sea and Arafura Sea to the Pacific Ocean through the Seas of Sawu, Banda, Seram, and Maluku. Any military conflict involving the US, Australia, and China would also have to “go through” Indonesia’s strategic geography one way or another.
The underlying asymmetry of security concerns between Australia and Indonesia further highlights the need for Canberra to engage Jakarta over the Lombrum plan. While the US and Australia might see the Lombrum plan as one of several pieces of strategic pushback against China, Indonesia might see it as potentially increasing its strategic exposure, vulnerability, and risk.
Thus far, however, Indonesia’s official response has been mild and in some quarters incoherent.
The Defence Ministry said Australia did communicate its plans and that “No one can forbid them from doing what they are doing, as long as [the naval base] is not built in our territory.” The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, hasn’t offered a response. It seems preoccupied with managing the bilateral downturn over Australia’s Jerusalem embassy proposal.  
Members of the national legislature (DPR) warned that the Lombrum plan could increase regional tension and “militarisation”. They also call on the Foreign Ministry to boost its diplomatic engagement in the area to minimise the potential for conflict.
Some Indonesian analysts went a step further and called on Jakarta to publicly reject the plan and speed up military development plans. Others even wildly concocted the idea that the Lombrum plan was related to US and Australian support for Papuan separatists.
These divergent reactions suggest that, on the one hand, military-to-military communication between Indonesia and Australia has improved. When the US announced in 2011 that it was planning to build a base in Darwin for 2500 marines, Indonesia’s response was largely negative, with TNI  leaders claiming to have been kept largely in the dark.
That the Lombrum plan was conveyed early to the Indonesian Defence Minister and discussed further at the Indonesia-Australia Defence Strategic Dialogue a few weeks ago signals that both defence establishments increasingly value transparency and consultations. It also shows the gradual maturity of defence engagement between the two countries.
But on the other hand, bilateral defence relations have been developed in a protective bubble in which policymakers communicate with each other without broader discussions with the public, civil society groups, and other political stakeholders like the DPR.
This is understandable given the sensitive nature of defence engagements. But without buy-in from the broader defence, public, and political establishments, military-to-military ties are open to politicisation when bilateral ties turn sour.
Therefore, while military-to-military communication is important, at some point, defence engagement – including plans to develop Lobrum – should involve the wider public as well.
Understandably, Canberra needs to balance its alliance commitments to the US, its concerns over Chinese military power, and its strategic partnership with Indonesia. But given the “sawtooth” trajectory of Indonesia-Australia defence relations – short periods of rapid development followed by sharp and painful reversals – boosting mutual transparency in defence posture development is critical.
At the end of the day, debating the operational utility of a naval base without accounting for the broader regional environment is to miss the forest for the trees.


3) Hidden challenges for conservation and development along the Trans- Papuan economic corridor  
The island of New Guinea harbours one of the world’s largest tracts of intact tropical forest, with 41% of its land area in Indonesian Papua (Papua and Papua Barat Provinces). Within Papua, the advent of a 4000-km ‘devel- opment corridor’ reflects a national agenda promoting primary-resource extraction and economic integration. Papua, a resource frontier containing vast forest and mineral resources, increasingly exhibits new conservation and development dynamics suggestive of the earlier frontier development phases of other Indonesian regions. Local environmental and social considerations have been discounted in the headlong rush to establish the corridor and secure access to natural resources. Peatland and forest conversion are increasingly extensive within the epicentres of economic development. Deforestation frontiers are emerging along parts of the expanding development corridor, including within the Lorentz World Heritage Site. Customary land rights for Papua’s indigenous people remain an afterthought to resource development, fomenting conditions contrary to con- servation and sustainable development. A centralised development agenda within Indonesia underlies virtually all of these changes. We recommend specific actions to address the environmental, economic, and socio-political challenges of frontier development along the Papuan corridor. 


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