Tensions continued in Papua region following Sept unrest in which dozens of people were reported killed in clashes. Military 7 Oct reported more than 16,000 people had fled Wamena, where most deaths occurred, including some 11,4000 evacuated by military. National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas) 18 Oct called for investigation into deaths, and said number of killed higher than previously reported, including 43 in Wamena; Human Rights Watch early Oct called for govt to allow UN human rights officials access to region, and called for inquiry led by Komnas. Media 1 Oct reported that President Widodo said he was ready to meet with Papuan activists demanding independence referendum; one Papuan leader told Reuters talks would need international mediation. Police 11 Oct said they would investigate discovery of bodies of five villagers – three women and a teenage boy and girl – with bullet wounds in Nduga area, site of clashes between military and separatists since late 2018. Military reported three civilians killed by separatists in Hitadipa 18 Oct; West Papua National Liberation Army claimed victims were military personnel. Widodo visited Papua late Oct, opening new bridge in provincial capital Jayapura. At national level, Widodo’s appointment as defence minister of former general Prabowo Subianto, his rival during April presidential election, prompted concern over past accusations of human rights abuses against Subianto. Suspected ISIS supporter stabbed chief security minister Wiranto in Banten province, west of capital Jakarta 10 Oct; Wiranto operated on for his wounds; husband and wife arrested in connection with attack.
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