Tensions persisted in Papua, while authorities banned hardline group Islamic Defenders Front. UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights 1 Dec called for full investigation into escalating violence against civilians and human rights defenders in Papua. Police same day reportedly arrested 15 demonstrators from Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua during protest in Sinjai, South Sulawesi province. United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s leader Benny Wenda 1 Dec announced establishment of provisional govt in exile in UK, with party declaring him interim president; govt called Wenda’s announcement “small-scale treason”, while West Papua Liberation Army and civilian faction West Papua National Committee early Dec both rejected declaration. In Papua province’s Merauke regency, security forces early to mid-Dec reportedly raided West Papua National Committee offices, and arrested 14 members on unknown charges, leaving several injured. Military police 25 Dec named nine soldiers in case pertaining to alleged torture to death of two civilians in Intan Jaya regency in April. Meanwhile, police 7 Dec killed six bodyguards of cleric Rizieq Shihab, leader of hardline group Islamic Defenders Front, after they allegedly attacked officers on outskirts of capital Jakarta; authorities 12 Dec arrested Rizieq for allegedly inciting people to breach COVID-19 regulations; govt 30 Dec banned Islamic Defenders Front referring to terrorism links and disturbance to public order.
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