Dividing Papua: How Not To Do It
Dividing Papua: How Not To Do It
Table of Contents
  1. Overview
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Briefing 24 / Asia

Dividing Papua: How Not To Do It

A presidential instruction (Inpres) issued in January 2003 to divide Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost province, into three parts has done more to create tension and turmoil there than any government action in years.

A presidential instruction (Inpres) issued in January 2003 to divide Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost province, into three parts has done more to create tension and turmoil there than any government action in years. The instruction undercuts a special autonomy law passed by the parliament in November 2001 that assumed the province to be a single territorial unit, and it has thrown Papua’s administrative status into legal limbo. It undermines moderate intellectuals who saw special autonomy as a way of strengthening Papuan institutions and encouraging independence supporters to work within the Indonesian state. It has infuriated many Papuans, pro-independence and pro-autonomy alike, who have a deep attachment to Papua as a single political unit with a distinct history and who see the decree as a divide-and-rule tactic by Jakarta. All major religious leaders in the province have come out against it.

At the same time, the decree has generated intense acrimony within the governing elite in Papua between those who stand to gain from the division – known as pemekaran in Indonesian – and those who benefit more from the status quo. In the first category are the individuals likely to be appointed to top jobs in the new provinces; those who believe that the province will be further divided and have their eyes on future governorships; and those who believe that loyalty to the central government in supporting pemekaran will be suitably rewarded. In the second category are some of the top officials in the current provincial government who will see their administrative authority, and perhaps their access to spoils, substantially weakened.

The division of Papua has major political ramifications as the 2004 national elections approach. The former ruling party, Golkar, still dominates the provincial government and parliament, and supporters of its main rival, President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s PDIP party, have accused the governor of using special autonomy revenues for Golkar’s 2004 war chest. Golkar members in turn suggest that the division into three provinces would benefit PDIP and enable the new governors to divert funds to the local PDIP campaigns.

The overriding motivation behind the decree appears to have been the weakening of the Papuan independence movement, but far from lessening the possibility of conflict, the decree may actually increase it. The possibilities include:

  • increased resentment and distrust of the central government by Papuans;
  • mobilisation of grassroots support (including through strategically distributed payments) by the leaders of pro- and anti-pemekaran positions respectively, leading to physical clashes; pre-election Golkar and PDIP rivalry could easily add to the tension; so could the interest of the National Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Negara, BIN) and the army in portraying any tensions in the province as an intra-Papuan conflict; and
  • unwillingness of pro-autonomy moderates to work with the central government.

Other consequences could include:

  • emergence of different and competing demands for new provinces from those who support pemekaran but do not agree with how Jakarta has drawn the dividing lines; and
  • increased competition over resources and business contracts.

Whatever the merits of the pro-pemekaran argument, the way in which the Inpres was issued and the lack of consultation with senior Papuan leaders and even some Cabinet ministers was ill-advised.

In the current political climate, with elections looming and an increasingly nationalist mood in Jakarta, it is going to be difficult to undo the damage. The government has three options: revoking the decree, implementing it over massive objections and dealing with the consequences; and deliberate bureaucratic inertia, so that for all practical purposes, special autonomy remains in effect.

Of these, revocation by President Megawati is highly unlikely. Given the outcry, the government would lose too much face. The Indonesian parliament might move to have the decree repealed or demand a judicial review from the Supreme Court, but as of this writing it looks as though the government is determined to move forward.

Speedy implementation, however, is also unlikely; at the very least, the pro-pemekaran forces need time to show that they have some popular support, and the government has made clear that it is not going to rush into inaugurating the new governors, even though one has installed himself.

It may be that the best one can hope for is inertia, with implementation postponed at least until after the 2004 elections and perhaps beyond. Unfortunately, the expectations created by the decree, particularly in the western part of the province, could make this position untenable, unless the government can offer some attractive consolation prizes to the would-be beneficiaries.

Jakarta/Brussels, 9 April 2003

Op-Ed / Asia

Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force

My four year-old daughter recently came home from her Jakarta kindergarten with a story about a visit to the school from the head of our local police station. 'If there is a robber and he's running away, the policeman will pull out his gun, fire in the air, and if he doesn't stop then he will shoot him in the leg', she recounted breathlessly.

I have spent 25 years working in and around conflict zones, including more than a decade in Indonesia. My reaction might not have been that of the average parent. 'That', I replied, 'is a violation of Perkap Number 8.' Needless to say, my reference to Police Regulation Number 8 of 2009 regarding Implementation of Human Rights Principles and Standards in the Discharge of Duties of the Indonesian National Police was lost on her. She thought the visit was great.

I had recalled Perkap 8 when re-reading the Hansard of the recent sparring between Australian Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr and Victoria Greens Senator Richard Di Natale over the police shooting of protesters in Papua. But it is not just in Papua where questionable use of deadly force by the Indonesian National Police (INP) takes place. It happens across the country. And this was what Perkap 8 was put in place to prevent.

Article 47 of Perkap 8 says that 'the use of firearms shall be allowed only if strictly necessary to preserve human life' and 'firearms may only be used by officers: a. when facing extraordinary circumstances; b. for self defense against threat of death and/or serious injury; c. for the defense of others against threat of death and/or serious injury.' This is Indonesian law, taken from the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and this is what should be used to assess police actions, wherever in the country they occur.

The fatal shooting on 14 June 2012 of Mako Tabuni, deputy head of the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB), in Jayapura, capital of Papua province, made Senate Estimates in 2012. The shooting of three protesters in Sorong on 30 April 2013, West Papua province, was mentioned in the testy 5 June 2013 exchanges between Senators Carr and Di Natale. You can watch it above.

In the first incident, detectives shot a suspect in the leg as he was running away and then left him to die in a hospital allegedly without making any effort to treat his wounds. In the second, police claim they were threatened by armed KNPB activists. Without more information it is difficult to judge if their response was disproportionate. Police always say they are shooting in self-defense, but it has become such a common excuse that it has started to lose its plausibility.

Cases outside Papua do not garner much attention in Australia, but lethal shootings happen all the time. On 1 September 2011 seven villagers were killed during a rowdy protest against police brutality in the Central Sulawesi district of Buol, a place so obscure even most Indonesians cannot find it on a map.

On 7 March 2013, soldiers burned down a police station in Baturaja, South Sumatra, after their off-duty comrade, First Private Heru Oktavianus, was shot dead by a police officer while speeding away from a traffic violation.

On 8 May 2013 police in Java killed six suspected terrorists in a series of raids. The police usually claim the suspects were armed and resisted arrest. But it is not always true, and many could have almost certainly been captured alive.

Ordinary criminals are shot with distressing frequency, as my daughter's visitor suggests, without any outcry at home or abroad.

Perkap 8 was signed by the then police chief Sutanto, a real reformer. It has not gotten very far. One foreign police officer working on a bilateral community policing program in a large metropolitan command told me he had once seen a copy of the Perkap on the chief's desk but suspected it had been disseminated no further.

Even when progressive regulations or orders are issued and disseminated, they are not always followed. In October 2012, the police chief of Papua, Tito Karnavian, former head of the anti-terrorism unit Detachment 88 (Densus 88), announced that he had banned police from using live ammunition when handling demonstrations in the region. This was progress and it was implemented for some demos, but the deaths in the Sorong case suggest live ammunition was used.

As Article 46 of Perkap 8 says, 'all officers must be trained in the use of power, equipment and firearms that can be used in applying force' and 'must be trained in non-violent techniques and methods.' Training almost 400,000 officers across 33 provinces is a logistical challenge, though it might be a good idea to start with elite units such as Densus 88 or personnel in the Papua provinces.

The new national head of the INP, about to be appointed, might breathe new life into two reforms already in place: implementation of Perkap 8 and Chief Sutanto's other landmark regulation on community policing, Perkap 7. The INP is a very hierarchical organisation that does follow firm orders from above. While its size makes complex reform difficult, its hierarchical nature makes implementing existing regulations with firm orders easier.

The first duty of the incoming INP chief, who reports directly to the president, will be to secure the 2014 elections. Making sure those deployed to safeguard this 'festival of democracy' are properly trained and equipped to use non-lethal force will be an important first step. After a new head of state is elected, he or she should consider issuing a directive that would see Perkap 8 properly implemented. The use of less deadly force could even be politically popular in some parts.

Outside help may also be needed, and this is where Australia comes in. A few decades back, the Victorian state police had a problem of using too much deadly force and created Project Beacon to try to rectify it. They changed the way they thought about the problem, overhauled training, and gave officers on the beat new tools, like pepper spray. Foreign assistance along these lines could help the INP improve performance and increase accountability. Crisis Group has long argued that the INP needs better orders, training, and equipment for the use of non-deadly force.

If the INP is to be more the service it aspires to be rather than the force it is, it needs to shed its military mindset, hold serious post-operation reviews after each fatal incident, and decrease reliance on shooting first and asking questions later, regardless of whether officers are following locally accepted standard procedure. When the time comes and the INP is ready to carry forward the reform of Perkap 8, Australia should be there to help.

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