Armed separatists led series of attacks on military in Papua. In Papua province, armed separatist group West Papua Liberation Army (WPLA) 5 Sept claimed killing of eight soldiers in Nduga regency, while series of deadly attacks took place in Intan Jaya regency. Notably, in Intan Jaya’s Sugapa district, WPLA 14 Sept shot and injured two civilians claiming they were intelligence officers, and military reported armed group 17 Sept killed one soldier and one civilian; in Hitadipa district, WPLA 19 Sept killed one soldier, and shortly after military allegedly shot and killed pastor, local army commander denied involvement and blamed WPLA. In Nabire regency, thousands 24 Sept took to streets protesting against extension of Papua special autonomy status set to expire in 2021; police briefly arrested over 150 demonstrators citing COVID-19 restrictions. In provincial capital Jayapura, hundreds of students 28 Sept also protested against extension of special autonomy status; police fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse protesters. In speech to UN General Assembly, Vanuatu PM Loughman 26 Sept said “the indigenous people of West Papua continue to suffer from human rights abuses”, arguing there had been “little progress” in addressing violations; Indonesia rebuked speech saying it would defend itself from “any advocacy of separatism under the guise of artificial human rights concerns” and that Papua and West Papua’s status as part of Indonesia was “final”. In Aceh, police reported 297 Rohingya refugees believed to have been at sea for several months 7 Sept moored at Ujong Blang beach, near Lhokseumawe city.
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