Following series of violent attacks, authorities signalled major crackdown on Papuan separatists with deployment of more military troops to country’s easternmost region. Following last month’s series of deadly attacks in Papua’s Puncak district, and designation of Papuan armed groups as “terrorists”, military 6 May announced deployment of 400 additional troops to Papua; United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) leader Benny Wenda 4 May claimed deployment was part of “biggest military operation in West Papua since the late 1970s” amid reports of internet shutdown and displacement of locals. Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD 19 May said armed assailants previous day killed two Indonesian soldiers in Dekai district in Yahukimo regency and injured four others in separate attack in Serambakon district in Bintang regency. Police 9 May arrested spokesperson for West Papua National Committee Victor Yeimo in Papua’s provincial capital Jayapura for his alleged role in August 2019 protests and prior statement calling for referendum on independence; NGO Human Rights Watch 12 May called on authorities to “drop politically motivated treason charges and unconditionally release” Yeimo; over 30 civil society groups, including Amnesty International, 19 May also demanded his immediate release.
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