Thursday, February 7, 2019

1) Indonesia: Free Three Papuan Activists



2) Journey to the east? The rebalancing of Indonesia’s force structure
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human Rights Watch
1) Indonesia: Free Three Papuan Activists 
Arrests for Peaceful Protest Highlights Police Abuse of Treason Laws
February 8, 2019 7:00PM EST
(Jakarta) – Indonesian authorities should release and drop treason charges against three Papuan activists for peaceful advocacy in the Papua mining town of Timika, Human Rights Watch said today. The Indonesian government is currently imprisoning at least nine people from Papua and the Moluccan Islands for exercising their rights to freedom of expression.



Yanto Awerkion (far left) detained in the Timika police station in September 2017 for his role in organizing a petition calling on the UN to organize a referendum in Papua. 

Police in Timika arrested Yanto Awerkion, Sem Asso, and Edo Dogopia of the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB), a student association, on December 31, 2018 when they were organizing a prayer gathering to commemorate the group’s fifth anniversary. Papuan human rights groups reported that the police arrested and beat nine KNPB members. On January 7, charges were only brought against the three for treason (makar) under articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code. Article 106 carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. They are currently being held in Papua’s capital, Jayapura.
“New police arrests of peaceful activists make a mockery of Indonesian government claims that it’s releasing the country’s political prisoners,” said Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher. “The baseless charges against the three Papuan activists should be dropped and they should be released immediately.”

The KNPB, perhaps the largest indigenous youth organization in Papua and West Papua provinces, advocates for independence of their homeland through a United Nations-sponsored referendum. In 2017, Awerkion organized a petition calling on the UN to organize a referendum in Papua. Awerkion said that the petition was signed by over 1.8 million Papuans. The Indonesian authorities alleged the petition to be a hoax and charged Awerkion with a “treasonous petition.” In March 2018, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison, but was released late that month for time already served.
On January 3, 2019, more than 80 police without a warrant used batons to forcibly remove KNPB members from their office in Timika, dismantling their sign board, taking down a wall with a mural painted with pro-independence symbols, and repainting the entire building with the red-and-white color of the Indonesian flag. The police said that Papuans were not allowed to use any Free West Papua insignia or anything with the Morning Star flag, long a symbol of opposition to Indonesian rule.

Since the raid, the office has been used as a joint military-police post. The KNPB filed a lawsuit against the forced removal, contending that the police removed them without a court order to remove them. The police claim that the office was used for “shouting about freedom.”
The police crackdown occurred in the context of an attack by Papuan militants on December 2 that had killed at least 17 Indonesian construction workers in Nduga, in Papua’s Central Highlands. This has fostered a hostile atmosphere against pro-independence groups such as the KNPB.
There have been other acts of violence against KNPB offices. Unidentified assailants burned down the KNPB office in Asmat regency, near Timika, on December 1. The KNPB head office in Jayapura was vandalized on November 19 and December 2.
Over the last decade, the Indonesian government has released dozens of people imprisoned in Papua and the Moluccas Islands for peacefully expressing their political aspirations. In December, the Indonesian government released two Moluccan political prisoners, Johan Teterisa and Jonathan Riri, who had been imprisoned for treason for more than 11 years. They were among more than 60 activists arrested and imprisoned for treason since June 2007 after 28 of them staged a protest dance with the South Moluccan Republic flag in front of then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Ambon stadium. Now only six political prisoners, all Moluccan activists, are still imprisoned in Ambon, the Moluccas Islands, since their 2007 arrests with Teterisa and Riri.

In January 2018, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court rejected a judicial review to annul five treason articles, including articles 106 and 110, but found that those articles were often disproportionally applied against political activists raising the Morning Star flag in Papua. In its ruling, the court considered the 2011 ruling from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on the arbitrary detention of Papuan activist Filep Karma, who was then serving a 15-year prison term for his 2004 peaceful protest against Indonesian rule. The working group concluded that articles 106 and 110 were applied disproportionally in the Karma trial.
“The big drop in political prisoners in recent years, from more than 110 people in 2014, is noteworthy for Indonesia’s progress as a rights-respecting country,” Harsono said. “But the new arrests in Papua show that Indonesian police are still abusing their authority by using their old tactics of misusing treason laws.” 


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2) Journey to the east? The rebalancing of Indonesia’s force structure

8 Feb 2019|


In early January, Indonesian finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati inaugurated the new Tawiri Ambon naval base near Ambon Bay with direct access to the Banda Sea.
The base will support the navy’s major warships and be the home port of the new Third Armada’s naval combat task force.
The Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) launched the Third Armada last year along with the Third Infantry Division of the army’s Strategic Reserve Command (KOSTRAD) in South Sulawesi, the Third Marine Force in West Papua, and the air force’s Third Operational Command in Papua.
The TNI also plans to establish tri-service ‘integrated TNI units’ across Indonesia’s key strategic outer islands. The first of these units was launched in Natuna late last year, with others in Biak, Merauke, Morotai and Saumlaki—all in eastern Indonesia—soon to follow.
These new commands are part of the TNI’s organisational and force restructuring towards eastern Indonesia. As the map below shows, the army, navy and air force have been upgrading and creating new territorial and combat units across eastern Indonesia in recent years.



While the map covers only the more recent high-profile upgrades or additions, all three armed services have been gradually expanding their structures since the mid-2000s.
By my count, the army has upgraded and created  60 new territorial and combat units since 2002, including territorial and KOSTRAD units and infantry battalions in Kalimantan, Papua and Sulawesi. Since 2003, the TNI has formed new and upgraded existing infantry battalions into 42 raider battalions, almost half of which are located in eastern Indonesia.
The navy and air force have each upgraded and created around three dozen new units and bases since 2004, including upgrading existing bases or facilities as well as creating new units to accommodate recent arms procurements. Again, most of these activities have taken place in eastern Indonesia.
The TNI plans to establish and upgrade dozens more units and bases over at least another decade. By one estimate, the TNI’s overall organisational restructuring could involve the redeployment of 25,000 to 30,000 personnel.
The organisational expansion and rebalance to the east are a function of overlapping security concerns as well as  internal pressures.
First, some defence policymakers see eastern Indonesia—from the tri-border area with Malaysia and the Philippines to the eastern corner of Papua—as the nexus of transnational security threats, border disputes and internal security challenges, including socio-religious conflicts to secessionist threats.
Kalimantan and the Moluccas were the centre of violent religious and ethnic conflictsbetween late 1990s and mid-2000s. The Ambalat dispute with Malaysia, one of the most intense territorial disputes in the post–New Order era, is off the coast of Kalimantan. Many of the key strategic outer islands are also in eastern Indonesia.
Central Sulawesi was a site of intense religious–ethnic conflicts until the late 2000s. Since then, terrorism has become a prominent problem in the area. Militants and organised crime groups also engage in piracy, kidnapping and smuggling of weapons and drugs in the tri-border area. Papua is also the only area in Indonesia that continues to be plagued by separatist threats.
Second, the eastern rebalance is also part of the TNI’s effort to better control and manage Indonesia’s third ‘archipelagic sea lanes’ (known as ALKI III) that facilitate navigation from the Timor Sea and Arafura Sea to the Pacific Ocean through the seas of Sawu, Banda, Seram and Maluku.
How foreign naval and air forces pass through this north–south axis has been a perennial strategic concern for Indonesia’s defence policymakers. Boosting the naval and air force presence in key points along the sea lanes in eastern Indonesia is an effort to address those concerns.
Third, the need to ameliorate promotional logjams—when there are too many officers but too few positions—has accelerated the organisational expansion plans to eastern Indonesia in recent years.
The extraordinarily high rate of promotions—around 30 general-rank and 330 mid-rank officers (lieutenant colonels and colonels) annually between 2011 and 2017—has jumpstarted the expansion plans. Until recently, budgetary concerns, civil–military politics and arms procurement priorities have prevented the military from fulfilling the 2004 TNI law’s mandate to reorient the military’s posture towards the border area, including in eastern Indonesia.
President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo announced recently that the TNI will create 60 new high-ranking positions for TNI officers in the coming years. Most will be located in the new and upgraded commands and units in eastern Indonesia.
Finally, for the army leadership at least, the expansion plans partly reflect the competitive relationship between the police and the military at the local level.
Following the separation of the police from the military in 1999, the two security institutions have struggled to coexist given the overlap in authority in local jurisdictions.
According to the National Violence Monitoring System, there were 817 incidents of military–police clashes between 1997 and 2015. Around half occurred in Sulawesi, Papua, West Papua, the Moluccas and East Nusa Tenggara.
For the TNI leadership, these security concerns, organisational pressures and interagency dynamics all shape the eastern organisational rebalance of the force structure. We can debate whether these concerns are valid—or whether the rebalance is the best way to address them. For now, most of the TNI’s forces remains in western Indonesia covering the major straits and the bulk of the population and economic infrastructure.
But if the expansion plans are fully realised, Indonesia is likely to be more confident in managing its regional environment. The Jokowi administration and TNI Commander Air Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto appear determined to lay as much as the foundation for the rebalance as possible.
Editors’ note: Minor amendments have been made to the end of this post since it was originally published.

Evan Laksmana is a senior researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta. Image courtesy of the Republic of Indonesian.

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