Friday, December 21, 2018

1) Papua leaders call for Indonesia to withdraw troops

2) Governor of Indonesia's Papua calls for army to end hunt for rebels
3) Indonesia attack shines a light on controversial road project

1) Papua leaders call for Indonesia to withdraw troops
Leaders of Indonesia's easternmost Papua region are calling on President Joko Widodo to order 
the withdrawal of troops from an area where separatists earlier this month carried out one of their deadliest attacks
JAYAPURA, Indonesia — 38m ago
Leaders of Indonesia's easternmost Papua region are calling on President Joko Widodo to order the withdrawal of troops and national police from an area where separatists earlier this month carried out one of their deadliest attacks.
Papua province Gov. Lukas Enembe said late Thursday that civilians who fled into the jungle are needlessly suffering. He said the pro-independence fighters are unlikely still in the Nduga area, where a Dec. 2 attack on a trans-Papua highway construction site killed at least 17 workers.
After meeting with members of the provincial parliament and church and tribal leaders, Enembe said Nduga should be free of troops and Indonesian police so residents can celebrate Christmas in peace. The provinces of Papua and West Papua are predominantly Christian regions in Muslim-majority Indonesia.
At the meeting, Papuan officials agreed to set up a task force to investigate the Nduga killings and other violence.
"This is the wish of Papuan people," said Yunus Wonda, head of the Papua parliament, according to local news site TabloidJubi.
"This team is not just for the incident in Nduga. But also for all violence and conflict incidents on the land of Papua which have caused Papuan civilians to be harmed, traumatized or killed," he said.
An insurgency has simmered in Papua since the early 1960s, when Indonesia annexed the region that was a former Dutch colony. It was formally incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a U.N.-sponsored ballot that many regarded as a sham.
The Indonesian government has rejected rebel demands to hold negotiations on the territory's right to self-determination.
Earlier this week, security minister Wiranto, who uses one name, said there would be no compromise with an organization the government has labeled a criminal group.
"They are not a country, but a group of people who are heretical," he said.


2) Governor of Indonesia's Papua calls for army to end hunt for rebels

JAKARTA (Reuters) - The governor of Indonesia’s Papua province has called for an end to a hunt for separatist rebels who killed at least 16 workers this month, saying villagers were being traumatized and should be allowed celebrate Christmas in peace.

The military rejected the plea to suspend the search in the remote, heavily forested province on the western half of New Guinea island, and said the governor could face prosecution if he came out in support of the rebels. 
“We ask President Jokowi to immediately withdraw troops,” Papua Governor Lukas Enembe told reporters on Thursday, referring to President Joko Widodo by his nickname. 
“The presence of Indonesian military and National Police personnel in Nduga has traumatized the community ... resulting in them seeking refuge in the forest,” Enembe said. 
Members of the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) claimed responsibility for killing at least 16 people working on a bridge on a high-profile road project, and a soldier, in the Nduga area. 
At least 300 villagers were reported last week to have fled into the forest to escape the military sweep. 
Papua has been plagued by a separatist conflict since the former Dutch colony was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969. 
Enembe said the community should be allowed to celebrate Christmas in peace.

“We pay our respects to the past and present victims, but this is enough. There must be no further civilian casualties,” he said. 
A spokesman for Widodo was not immediately able to comment on the matter, but the military rejected Enembe’s call. 
Provincial military spokesman Muhammad Aidi said forces were searching for the remains of four of the victims of the attack on the bridge and they would not leave. 
“If the governor, Lukas Enembe, poses in support of the Free Papua Movement struggle and rejects the national strategic program policy, he has violated state law and should be prosecuted,” Aidi said. 
Enembe did not say what action he thought should be taken against those responsible for the killings, but said in past attacks separatists had fled the area immediately.

The provincial parliament would look in to the incident with the National Human Rights Commission, he said. 
The rebels have rejected a call to surrender and have demanded a referendum on the future of the area. 
Widodo wants to develop impoverished Papua and tap its resources and has tried to ease tensions and address rights concerns while stepping up investment with projects like the Trans Papua highway. 
The OPM has said it views the project workers as members of the military and casualties in their war against the government. 
Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe and Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Robert Birsel


3) Indonesia attack shines a light on controversial road project

by Loren Bell on 20 December 2018

  • Construction on a section of Indonesia’s Trans-Papua highway was suspended after at least 17 people were killed; conflicting reports state the victims were either contract laborers or Indonesian soldiers.
  • In a recent paper, researchers warned the highway threatens to increase social conflict in Indonesia’s restive Papua region, while also degrading New Guinea Island’s ecosystems and the health of its residents.
  • The Indonesian government bills the project as a lifeline of economic development for an impoverished region, but many indigenous Papuans see the project as a means to facilitate troop movements and resource exploitation.
Violence in Indonesia’s easternmost region of Papua has stalled a massive infrastructure project that researchers have separately warned may threaten the island’s ecological health and the livelihood of its residents.
At least 17 construction people were killed on a stretch of the Trans-Papua highway in Nduga district on Dec. 2, with conflicting reports stating the victims were either civilian works or members of the Indonesian military. The attack, claimed by the National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNBP), followed the anniversary of West Papua’s declaration of independence, which was submitted — and rejected — on Dec. 1, 1961.
The Trans-Papua highway is the latest major development project by the Indonesian government to come under scrutiny in the country’s half of the island of New Guinea. While the government bills the ambitious road as a lifeline of economic development for a long impoverished region, many native Papuans see it as a means to more quickly move troops around to quash uprisings while opening the island for resource exploitation……………….

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