Indonesia: Resources And Conflict In Papua
Indonesia: Resources And Conflict In Papua
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Report 39 / Asia

Indonesia: Resources And Conflict In Papua

The struggle over land and natural resource rights is a key aspect of the conflict in Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, that pits the Indonesian state against an independence movement supported by most of the indigenous population.

Executive Summary

The struggle over land and natural resource rights is a key aspect of the conflict in Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, that pits the Indonesian state against an independence movement supported by most of the indigenous population. It is thought to have cost many thousands of lives since the 1960s, mostly Papuan civilians killed by the security forces. Among the most recent victims were three employees of the giant mining company, PT Freeport Indonesia, killed in a well-planned attack on 31 August 2002.

The conflict is characterised by sporadic violent clashes between security forces and scattered guerrillas of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and by the largely peaceful independence campaign of the Presidium of the Papuan Council, an umbrella group regarded, in a society of great ethnic and linguistic diversity, as the most influential voice of indigenous aspirations. Its starting point is the view that Indonesia’s 1969 annexation was not legitimate in the eyes of most Papuans.

The murder of Presidium chairman Theys Eluay by Indonesian soldiers in November 2001 has sparked fears within Papua of an impending crackdown on the independence movement, though another theory rests on alleged rivalry between retired generals over logging. There are fears that the presence of Laskar Jihad, a radical Islamic organisation with a history of communal violence, could exacerbate deep tensions between indigenous Papuans and the many Indonesian settlers. It seems likely that the conflict could escalate, especially if the military adopts the hardline approach it takes in Aceh.

Indonesia has attempted to end the conflict by offering special autonomy to Papua, as in Aceh. The original draft of the law, created by members of Papua’s educated elite, was watered down in Jakarta to produce a document short of the aspirations of even the most conciliatory Papuans. It does offer some potentially important concessions, notably returning more natural resource wealth to the province and giving a greater (but limited) role to Papuan adat (customary law). However, implementation has been left to an inefficient, sometimes corrupt bureaucracy, and most Papuans appear to reject it on principle. The success of special autonomy is, therefore, open to question.

Injustices in the management of natural resources under Indonesian rule have contributed significantly to the conflict. The state has often given concessions to resource companies in disregard of the customary rights of indigenous Papuan communities, while troops and police guarding these concessions have frequently committed murders and other human rights abuses against civilians. Provisions in the special autonomy law require resource companies to pay greater heed to adat claims to land ownership, but they do not apply retroactively to the many companies already in Papua.

Indonesian security forces have a financial interest in resource extraction in Papua, through direct involvement in logging and other activities and protection fees paid by resource companies. Numerous serving and retired officers, senior state officials and others close to government are thought to have logging concessions or other business interests. Alongside the substantial tax and royalties accrued by the state, these interests are a powerful reason for the Indonesian state and its agencies to keep control of Papua.

The resource industry with the widest geographical impact in Papua is the logging industry, whose concessions cover nearly a third of the province. ICG research in Papua, notably the western Sorong region, suggests widespread abuses by logging companies which exploit and deceive local people, pay little or no heed to environmental sustainability and rely on the military and police to intimidate villagers who protest.

It seems that many Papuans are not opposed to logging or other resource extraction in itself, but resent the way that they are often treated by companies. These tensions, fused with the independence struggle, have led to bloodshed in some places.

As in other parts of Indonesia, autonomy has led to a shift within the logging industry. Jakarta’s dominance over logging concessions has been challenged since 1998 by local timber elites who use new regulations to issue many small-scale licenses, ostensibly to benefit local people but usually to the profit of timber companies from Indonesia or other Asian countries. The members of these elites can include civil servants, military and police officers and Papuan community leaders. There has also been an upsurge in illegal logging in western Papua, apparently organised or facilitated by these same local elites.

The other resource industry covered by this report is mining. The Freeport copper and gold mine is the most controversial foreign mining operation in Indonesia, largely because of historical entanglement with Soeharto-era elites and military. The mine has long been accused of dispossessing locals and colluding in human rights abuses by its military guards. It has made increasing efforts since the 1990s to win legitimacy with a Papuan community swelled by immigrants drawn to the mine. These include much development spending but have themselves caused social disruption. Relations remain problematic between the company, its guards and an ethnically diverse community.

A new investment in natural gas, Tangguh LNG, is an attempt to extract natural resources without the conflicts associated with Freeport and the logging industry. The driving force, the multinational BP, has made significant efforts to win local support. This is highly complex because of the numerous, sometimes clashing interests involved, which include the company, the Indonesian state and its oil company, Pertamina, local and regional government, local communities, non-governmental organisations and security forces.

It is too early to say if BP will succeed, or even to define success. The project is seen as a test for a more humane approach to resource extraction. A significant risk is that security forces will try to involve themselves closely in Tangguh LNG, creating potential for human rights abuses and criminality that have afflicted other resource projects.

Should it succeed, BP’s approach will be a step forward. Nonetheless, the violent conflict seems likely to continue for some time. The onus should be on resource companies, Indonesian and foreign, to demonstrate that their presence will not make a bad situation worse. Promises of community development will not compensate if locals do not feel they have meaningful influence over companies, if inevitable social and environmental disruption is not well-managed and if the security forces role cannot be curtailed.

Special autonomy offers provincial government opportunity to create better oversight of resource companies, for example through independent commissions to vet investments and investigate complaints. The regulatory and licensing regime for logging should be overhauled to make it more just and sustainable, possibly including a commercial logging ban until reform has taken place. But the generally poor record of resource investment in Papua will not improve until two interlinked and very difficult issues are tackled: the needs to give meaningful autonomy and a greater sense of justice to indigenous Papuans, and to tackle the behaviour and finances of the Indonesian security forces.

Jakarta/Brussels, 13 September 2002

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.