Security forces responded harshly to peaceful protests in support of the right of self-determination in Papua prompting international criticism, while concerns over risks of new jihadist attacks remained. Govt accused Vanuatu of fuelling tensions late Sept after it voiced support for West Papuan self-determination movement at UN General Assembly and called for UN Human Rights Council to investigate rights abuses in region. UK-based TAPOL and U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network reported authorities late Sept arrested over 120 peaceful protestors – including 39 in West Java – who voiced their support for right to self-determination; also said that at least five Papuans were tortured in Sept and one died in police custody. Military early Oct reported one Papuan killed in operation seeking members of West Papua Liberation Army in Puncak Jaya regency, Papua province; local rights activists reported two members of Liberation Army and five civilians including two children killed in land and air operations. Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict released report 18 Oct warning that Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, blamed for May Surabaya bombings, is still a threat and could launch attacks in west and central Java. Organisers of movement promoting moderate Islam cancelled mass rally in Yogyakarta late Oct to avoid violence after some of its supporters burned flag of outlawed Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
A dispute over a flag in Aceh is testing the limits of autonomy, irritating Indonesia’s central government, heightening ethnic tensions, reviving a campaign for the division of the province and raising fears of violence as the 2014 national elections approach.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono needs to act more firmly against institutions and officials that defy national court rulings or his inaction risks prolonging local conflicts.
The only measure likely to halt violence in Indonesia’s Papua province in the short term is a major overhaul of security policy.
Almost ten years after the 2002 Bali bombing, Indonesian extremists are weak and divided but still finding partners for new operations.
Election monitors should begin deployment to Aceh long before the 9 April election to deter intimidation.
Despite years of investment in community policing, the Indonesian police remain deeply distrusted by the people they are supposed to serve.
Lecture by Sidney Jones at International Policy Studies program of Stanford University, 5 December 2012.
Originally published in The Interpreter
Originally published in The Jakarta Globe
Originally published in Myanmar Times