Indonesia's Papua: Of roads and road maps
Indonesia's Papua: Of roads and road maps
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Indonesia's Papua: Of roads and road maps

It seems to be unpleasant for some to digest that the Free Papua Movement (OPM) was most likely involved in the string of attacks near the Freeport mine road in Indonesia's easternmost province. But by their very nature, armed groups are committed to violence and killing people.

It causes further discomfort to learn that political activists from one militant group, the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), were active in getting out the message for OPM.

OPM acknowledged responsibility for some of the shootings and other attacks between July 2009 and January 2010 along the main road that links the mountain-top mine with its sea port, although it denied shooting dead an Australian mine worker. The evidence is not conclusive, although the case for the involvement of the late guerrilla leader Kelly Kwalik and his men is stronger than for any of the alternatives on offer.

As indicated by group of Jayapura-based students who spoke to ICG for our recent report on Papua, foreign NGOs might be sceptical but Papuan activists are open to the possibility that OPM staged these attacks: 'The OPM is the military wing, right? Their job is to shoot the enemy. Freeport and the security forces are the enemy. So it fits that OPM would attack them.' Military strategists would probably agree — the lone road that links the mine with the sea is also a good place for an ambush.

The mining road attacks have attracted the most international attention, because so many, inside and outside Papua, are convinced the Indonesian military is responsible, largely on the basis of the arms and the ammunition used and the alleged professionalism of the shooters. In fact, it is well known that from Sabang in the west to Merauke in the east, criminal activities in Indonesia often involve government-made weapons and munitions.

If it were true that the military is the culprit, the case on the Papuan side for rejecting dialogue with the Indonesian Government because of the abusive nature of one of its key institutions would be strengthened. But if the Papuan guerrillas are responsible, the attacks could be seen as a way of raising the stakes in any future negotiations.

Finding the truth is thus critical, but no one should lose sight of the larger issue, which is finding a just, practical and non-violent solution to the conflict. Those who want to help Papua need to focus on the political calculus at work in Indonesia. The so-called 'Papua Road Map' dialogue offers the best chance to address political and historical grievances (not just economic inequities) in a comprehensive way.

President Yudhoyono has reportedly expressed interest in opening a dialogue with Papuan representatives but he has to do more than passively back it – he has to get out front and preempt some of the paranoid nationalists in government ranks who equate dialogue with capitulation to separatists. No one is suggesting that following the Road Map will be easy, and it also carries risks: a poorly prepared dialogue that breaks down amid recriminations of bad faith could be worse than no dialogue at all.
In the end, though, there is a serious political bottom line for Jakarta to consider: if Indonesia wants to keep Papua a domestic issue, it needs to back this homegrown initiative. To ignore it or allow it to get lost along the way will see the real problems of Papua unresolved and give undesirable, and possibly violent, radicalism the right of way, with more international attention to follow.

In the meantime, it would be better for all if Papua were opened up for proper investigations and this province treated less like it contains something to hide.

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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