Suspected Islamist militants attacked church in Sulawesi while govt considered terrorist designation for West Papua separatist armed groups. In South Sulawesi province, suspected Islamic State-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) newlywed suicide bombers 28 March attacked Catholic church in Makassar city, leaving at least 19 injured and two assailants dead. President Widodo same day “strongly condemned this act of terror” and urged people to stay calm, as govt would ensure “safety to worship”; in response, police 29 March arrested dozen across several locations, including in South Sulawesi, West Nusa Tenggara and Banten provinces. In Papua province, international NGO Coalition for Papua 7 March reported that security forces previous day killed Indigenous Papuan teenager in Puyagia village, Intan Jaya, marking fifth such case since Jan and causing unknown number of civilians to flee. National Counterterrorism Agency chief Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar 22 March told House of Representatives govt ministries and agencies were discussing possibility of labelling armed groups affiliated with separatist political umbrella, Free Papua Movement, as terrorist organisations; NGO Amnesty International next day denounced potential move as “further justification for the limitation of Papuan’s freedom of speech and assembly”.
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.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope discuss with cultural historian and author David van Reybrouck his new book on the legacy of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia and his parallel work on improving the functioning of democracy.
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