Amid small-scale violence in Papua, tensions over political status of region continued, while protests erupted against govt’s controversial job creation bill. In Papua province, soldiers 18 July shot and killed two men in Nduga regency; military claimed victims were armed separatists of West Papua Liberation Army (WPLA), which WPLA denied; hundreds 19 and 27 July gathered in Nduga’s capital Keneyam calling for military to hand over bodies to family of those killed and demanding justice for past human rights abuses, including reported killing of over 200 civilians, amid military operations against armed separatists Dec 2018-July 2020. In late month, military accused of beating to death 18-year old Indigenous Papuan man arrested for theft in Boven Digoel regency, Papua province, near border with Papua New Guinea 24 July; military denied “beating”, said investigation under way. Earlier in month, Papuan civil society groups under banner Petisi Rakyat Papua (Petition by Papuans) 5 July voiced opposition to continuation of Papua special autonomy status, due to be debated this year by parliament, asked for referendum to allow Papuans to decide their own fate; series of small-scale protests opposing govt’s plan to continue special autonomy status took place, including 8, 11 and 14 July in Papua, Bali and Java. Demonstrators 1 July commemorated proclamation of West Papuan independence in South Sulawesi and East Java provinces, and Papuan students 6 July commemorated in Bali province 1998 “Biak massacre” during which security forces fired at peaceful protesters on Biak island, Papua. Thousands 16 July demonstrated against bill on job creation under parliament’s consideration in capital Jakarta; protesters reportedly began throwing rocks at police who responded with tear gas and arrested 20 (all eventually released next day). President Joko Widodo 3 July signed presidential regulation placing State Intelligence Agency directly under his control.
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