Tuesday, January 29, 2019

1) Indonesian Government Considering further Military Involvement in Papua

2) Why nearly 2 million people are demanding an independence vote for West Papua province

1) Indonesian Government Considering further Military Involvement in Papua

30 JANUARY 2019 Jarryd de Haan, Research Analyst, Indian Ocean Research Programme

Armed rebels in the Indonesian province of Papua were involved in a gunfight on 28 January with the Indonesian Military (TNI) at an airstrip at Mapenduma in the Nduga Regency. A Chief Private of the TNI was killed and two soldiers were injured. In response to the incident, Chief of Presidential Staff and former Commander of the TNI, Moeldoko, told media that the government will reassess the current approach to Papua, possibly hinting at greater involvement of the TNI. The incident follows a recent flare-up in tensions with the arrest of hundreds of Papuans and reports of 19 to 31 victims, most believed to be construction workers, killed by a group of armed separatists, as covered in a previous Strategic Weekly Analysis. Indonesian police and military also recently took overWest Papua National Committee headquarters in Timika, Mimika Baru district, Papua, removing insignia and banning its use for all Papuans.
Following the recent gunfight, Moeldoko told media (in Bahasa Indonesia) that the government needs to re-assess how it categorises separatists in Papua. According to Moeldoko, the government categorises the recent assailants as armed criminal groups (kelompok kriminal bersenjata – KKB) putting them primarily under the jurisdiction of the Indonesian National Police (POLRI) and making it difficult for the TNI to get involved. Moeldoko instead suggests that the government categorise the perpetrators as separatists, arguing that the TNI would then need to be involved more strongly to ‘crush the groups’.

There is a strong history of violence that stems from independence movements within Papua and West Papua and the Indonesian government’s efforts to suppress those movements have often been associated with human rights abuses. Currently, both Papua and West Papua have been granted special autonomy status, which gives increased powers to local governments, but there are still elements that seeking complete independence. On 25 January 2019, a petition signed by 1.8 million West Papuans was delivered to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights seeking a referendum on independence.

Increasing the involvement of the TNI in the Papuan and West Papuan provinces will draw strong opposition from world leaders fearing escalating tensions and possible human rights abuses in the region. Currently, the TNI is allegedly limited to hunting down armed groups in Papua that have already carried out acts of hostility, while the police are freer to carry out security operations. Looking deeper, however, the TNI maintains a strong background role in security operations and, with twice as many personnel and vast intelligence networks, perhaps has more influence than POLRI through those operations.[1] Granting further jurisdiction to the TNI, therefore, may not bring any drastic changes to current security operations within Papua other than allowing the TNI to be the face of the operations. What it may change, however, is a more open military presence that could be used to intimidate and threaten separatist groups. That course of action, however, will likely only antagonise those groups and perhaps deepen discontent among the public.

That raises questions as to why Moeldoko argued that the TNI should play a stronger role, and whether or not the Indonesian government will genuinely look into it as a possible option. It is worthwhile noting that similar comments (in Bahasa Indonesia) were made by the Indonesian Minister of Defence, Ryamizard Ryacudu, on 4 December 2018. That suggests that there could be ongoing discussions on the TNI’s role within the military circles of the current government. The recent comments, therefore, likely have their roots in the TNI’s ongoing struggle to regain the influence it lost as Indonesia transitioned into the democratic era.
Granting further powers to the TNI is not out of character for the current government headed by Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who allegedly maintains a close relationship with TNI Commander Hadi Tjahjanto. On 13 May 2018, Jokowi revived Koopsusgab, an anti-terror unit led by the TNI while there was already a well-established anti-terror unit headed by POLRI. The pressure to raise the military presence in Papua will likely continue to grow, especially if the frequency of attacks on TNI and POLRI personnel increases.
[1] Antonius Made Tony Supriatma, ‘TNI/Polri in West Papua: How Security Reforms Work in the Conflict Regions’, Indonesia, no. 95 (April 2013), pp. 93-124.
Any opinions or views expressed in this paper are those of the individual author, unless stated to be those of Future Directions International.

 Published by Future Directions International Pty Ltd. 


2) Why nearly 2 million people are demanding an independence vote for West Papua province

By Tasha Wibawa Posted about 8 hours ago
Earlier this week, a petition signed by more than 1.8 million people calling for an independence referendum in Indonesia's West Papua province was delivered to United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet.

Benny Wenda, chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), said he hoped the UN would send a fact-finding mission to the province to substantiate allegations of human rights violations.
"Today is a historic day for me and for my people," Mr Wenda said after the meeting in Geneva.

Local media reported Indonesia's Minister for Defence, Ryamizard Ryacudu, told Parliament: "[They're] not allowed independence. Full stop."
The embattled Indonesian province has had a decades-long independence struggle, with its identity torn between several conflicting stakeholders.
Here's a look at where West Papua is, the problems it faces, and how things might turn out in the future.

West Papua and Papua New Guinea … what's the difference?

West Papua and Papua, often referred to collectively as West Papua, are the easternmost provinces of Indonesia and their acquisition has been the cause of controversy for more than 60 years.
West Papua shares its borders and cultural ethnicity with Papua New Guinea, but while PNG was colonised by the British, prior to German and Australian administration, 
West Papua was colonised by the Dutch, setting it on a different course.
According to the Indonesian Centre of Statistics and the World Bank, West Papua's regional GDP per capita is significantly higher than the national average, mainly due to mining.
However, it is also the most impoverished region in the country with the highest mortality rates in children and expectant mothers, as well as the poorest literacy rates.

What is happening now and what is the history?

Control of West Papua was agreed to be transferred to Indonesia from the Dutch with the assistance of the United States government as a part of a US Cold War strategy to distance Indonesia from Soviet influence in 1962.
Prior to this, Australia had also supported the West Papuan bid for Independence, but backtracked due to a Cold War security logic to minimise 'the arc of instability'.

The Netherlands and Indonesia signed the New York Agreement, which would place Indonesia under UN Temporary Executive Authority until a referendum that would allow all adult West Papuans to decide on the fate of their independence, called the Act of Free Choice.
But in 1967, the Indonesian government signed a 30-year lease with US gold and copper mining company Freeport-McMoran to start mining in the resource-rich region, prior to the referendum.
Two years later, according to historians, a number of men were handpicked to vote under the monitor of the Indonesian military and voted unanimously to remain under Indonesian rule. It has since been dubbed the "Act of No Choice" by activists.

Indonesia and its representatives at the UN have since repeatedly rejected claims of human rights abuses in the region and demands for another referendum, saying the allegations have been spread by "Papuan separatist movements".
Clashes have occasionally broken out. In December, Indonesian police claimed independence supporters killed 19 people working at an Indonesian-owned construction company.
On Monday, the Indonesian military said separatists opened fire on an aircraft carrying military personal and local goverment officials, killing one soldier.
But verifying any information is difficult because of restrictions on press freedom and the remoteness of the location.
In 2015, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced he would open the region to foreign journalists following decades of media blockades and bureaucratic red tape, but a series of statements by foreign journalists suggests otherwise.

'Cultural genocide' or separatist exaggeration?

A 2004 report from Yale Law School said the Indonesian government had "acted with necessary intent to … perpetrate genocide against the people of West Papua", a claim the Indonesian government has strongly denied.
Activists have been imprisoned for displaying the West Papuan pro-independence Morning Star flag, and say they face discrimination and are subject to violent attacks for expressions of political views.
There have also been a number of military crackdowns that have been referred to by Human Rights Watch as "high priority" human rights abuse cases.
The number of insurgencies in the region has declined as the Papuan indigenous population halved due to government policies of transmigration.
The late West Papuan academic and activist John Otto Ondawame described the situation as "cultural genocide".
Transmigration refers to the government resettling Indonesians from high-population regions to low-population areas, which was formally ended by Mr Widodo in 2015.
The program was deemed controversial by analysts as it involved permanently moving people from densely populated areas of Java to sparsely population regions such as Papua.
It has been criticised as causing fears of the "Javanisation", or "Islamisation" of Papua, resulting in strengthened separatist movements and violence in the region.

How might things play out now?

It's hard to say.
In 2017, Mr Wenda said he had presented a similar petition with the signatures of 1.8 million peopledemanding a vote on independence to the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation, although it became unclear whether the decolonisation committee actually received the documents.
This time, Mr Wenda was accompanying a ni-Vanuatu delegation in Geneva and reportedly presented the document to the UN's human rights wing rather than the decolonisation committee.
Mr Wenda told the ABC he was hopeful the new petition delivered to a different branch of the UN would have an impact.
But the head of the Presidential Palace in Indonesia told local journalists this week, "The UN will respect Indonesia's sovereignty".
In the past, the ULMWP, along with other international activists, have called on the UN to review the 1969 referendum and investigate human rights abuses in the region.
These requests have been repeatedly rejected by the UN and Indonesia has continued its administrative powers over the region.

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