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Homepage > Regions / Countries > Asia > South East Asia > Indonesia > Indonesia: Dynamics of Violence in Papua

Indonesia: Dynamics of Violence in Papua

Asia Report N°232 9 Aug 2012

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

A spate of violence in Papua in May and June 2012 exposed the lack of a coherent government strategy to address this multidimensional conflict. Shootings of non-Papuans in the provincial capital Jayapura in June, likely involving pro-independence militants, were followed by the death of one of those militants at police hands, highlighting the political dimension of the problem. In Wamena, a rampage by soldiers after the death of a comrade shows the depth of distrust between local communities and the army, and the absence of mechanisms to deal with crises. The shooting of five Papuans by newly arrived members of a paramilitary police unit (Brigade Mobile, Brimob) in a remote gold-mining area of Paniai highlights the violence linked to Papua’s vast resource wealth and rent-seeking by the security apparatus with little oversight from Jakarta. While these events are still under investigation, they signal that unless the Yudhoyono government can address these very different aspects of the conflict, things may get worse. An overhaul of security policy would help.

Two factors are driving much of the violence: a wide range of Papuan grievances toward the Indonesian state and a security policy that seems to run directly counter to the government’s professed desire to build trust, accelerate development and ensure that a 2001 special autonomy law for Papua yields concrete benefits. To date the law has failed to produce either improvement in the lives of most Papuans or better relations with the central government. Its substance has been frequently undercut by Jakarta, although provincial lawmakers also bear responsibility for failing to enact key implementing regulations. One of the last measures to prompt accusations in Papua of Jakarta’s bad faith was the 2011 division into two of the Papuan People’s Council (Majelis Rakyat Papua, MRP), an institution set up under the law to safeguard Papuan values and culture that was supposed to be a single body, covering all of Papua. In many ways the MRP was the keystone of special autonomy but it has been plagued by problems since its much-delayed establishment; the division, with Jakarta’s active endorsement, has further reduced its effectiveness.

These problems would be hard enough to manage if Papua had functioning political institutions, but it does not. An ineffectual caretaker governor appointed in July 2011 has left the Papuan provincial government in limbo. Meanwhile, the organisation of a new election has been stymied by a provincial legislature that has focused most of its energy on blocking the former governor from running and vying in national courts with the local election commission for control over parts of the electoral process. The picture is just as grim at district level. This leaves the central government without an engaged partner in Papua, and Papuans without a formal channel for conveying concerns to Jakarta.

The role of a new policy unit – the Unit for Accelerated Development in Papua and West Papua, known by its Indonesian abbreviation of UP4B – established in September 2011, increasingly appears limited to economic affairs, where it will struggle to show visible progress in the short term. Hopes that it might play a behind-the-scenes political role in fostering dialogue on Papuan grievances are fading, as it becomes increasingly clear that dialogue means different things to different people. Efforts to hammer out some consensus on terms and objectives have been set back by the violence, as the government is reluctant to take any steps that might be perceived as making concessions under pressure.

The challenge for the government is to find a short-term strategy that can reduce violence while continuing to work out a policy that will bring long-term social, economic and political benefits and address longstanding grievances. That strategy must involve clear and visible changes in the administration, control and accountability of both the police and military. The security apparatus is not the only problem, nor are police and soldiers always the perpetrators of violence; many have been victims as well. But they have come to symbolise everything that has gone wrong with Jakarta’s handling of the Papuan conflict. It therefore follows that a change in security policy is the best hope for a “quick win” that can transform the political dynamics and halt the slide toward further violence.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To the Government of Indonesia:

1.  Develop a more integrated policymaking mechanism on Papua at the national and provincial levels to ensure that:

a) programs designed to deliver concrete benefits to Papuans and build trust are not inadvertently undercut by decisions or actions taken in home affairs or by intelligence and security agencies;

b) a more unified security reporting mechanism is created under the Papuan regional police commander to ensure that elements of the military and intelligence apparatus do not undertake operations that report only to Jakarta and are not coordinated with other relevant authorities in Papua.

c) strict oversight of programs is not restricted to the development sphere but encompasses security policy, including examination of income-generating programs of the security forces; and

d) Papuan perspectives are included, either by participation of elected governors or the head of the MRP.

To the Indonesian National Police:

2.  Improve dissemination of and training in Police Regulation N°8/2009 on Implementation of Human Rights Standards and Principles in Carrying Out Police Tasks, with particular attention to:

a) Article 10(e) prohibiting any form of torture and inhumane or humiliating treatment, even in the face of an order from a superior or extraordinary circumstances;

b) Article 10(f) guaranteeing the health of those in custody and providing medical care as needed;

c) Article 10(g) prohibiting corruption and abuse of authority;

d) Article 17 on procedures for arrest;

e) Article 40 prohibiting police from acting in a way that generates antipathy in the community, including by asking for unauthorised fees and covering up mistakes;

f) Articles 42-44 on protecting human rights in a situation of mass unrest; and

g) Articles 45-49 on use of firearms, particularly the provision that non-violent methods should always be used first and firearms should only be used in a way that is proportional to the threat faced.

3.  Review policy on use of live ammunition with a view to restricting its use to specific situations and ensuring an adequate supply of non-lethal equipment for handling civil unrest.

4.  Ensure that police are fully equipped with protective body equipment when assigned to insecure areas or when facing civil unrest so as to reduce the incentive to shoot first.

5.  Reassess training needs, to ensure that anyone posted to a particular kabupaten (district) in Papua receives a thorough and detailed briefing from those who have served in the area about local conditions, conflict dynamics and relations with local government and community leaders, and that anyone finishing a tour of duty undergoes an equally thorough debriefing so that knowl­edge and lessons learned can be institutionalised.

6.  Redesign allowances and incentive structures so that police are rewarded rather than penalised for taking posts in isolated and difficult areas and encouraged to build stronger links with local communities.

To the Indonesian National Army and the Indonesian National Police:

7.  Make a clear commitment to ending impunity for inappropriate use of force and torture and to enforcing more credible sanctions against individuals responsible for such behaviour in a visible and public manner so that Papuans can see that justice is being done.

8.  Ensure in particular that there is a policy – rigorously implemented – of zero tolerance that begins in police and military academies for kicking, beating with any instrument including rifle butts or other forms of physical violence in the course of detention, interrogation or on-the-spot punishment for alleged offences.

9.  Make clear that “emotion” can never be used to justify excessive use of force, especially in reacting to attacks by Papuan groups.

10.  Provide more systematic oversight and scrutiny of income and expenditures in district and sub-district-level commands, particularly in those close to mining sites, with a view to ending illegal levies on the trans­port of goods and services.

To the Unit for Accelerated Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B):

11.  Work with the provincial and district-level governments in Papua as well as ministries at national level to identify gaps in implementation of special autonomy legislation and develop strategies for addressing them.

To the National Elections Commission (KPU):

12.  In light of the Constitutional Court’s upholding of the practice of voting by acclamation (using the noken system), work with the provincial-level elections commission (KPUD Papua) to develop clear guidelines that will ensure tabulating these votes includes at least minimum standards against electoral fraud and conduct increased voter education efforts accordingly.

To Papuan Provincial Legislators and the Elected Governor (when one is in place):

13.  Give top priority to enacting the some two dozen regulations necessary to ensure that special autonomy is fully implemented.

Jakarta/Brussels, 9 August 2012