Security forces continued operations against suspected separatists in Papua while Islamic militant group launched attacks in Central Sulawesi. In Papua province, security forces 16 Aug raided house in Mimika, killing senior WPLA commander Hengkin Wanmang; WPLA 17 Aug said group would retaliate; WPLA subsequently claimed killing several security force members. Papuan activists 15 Aug demonstrated in several provinces against 1962 New York agreement which led to transfer of rule over West Papua from Netherlands to Indonesia. In West Papua province, death in custody of brother-in-law of popular Papuan singer and Indonesian democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Edo Kondologit sparked hundreds 31 Aug to demonstrate at Sorong city police station demanding investigation. In Central Sulawesi province, suspected Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT) militants 8 Aug kidnapped two farmers in Poso, reportedly killing one; later that day opened fire on vehicle of medical workers and robbed them. Also in Poso, police 11 Aug found body of retired military officer allegedly killed by MIT. Counter-terror unit Densus 88 11-12 Aug arrested at least 20 suspected terrorists with alleged links to MIT and Islamic State-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah in West Java, Jakarta and Riau. Company of 150 soldiers 15 Aug arrived in Central Sulawesi to support Operation Tinombala in hunting down MIT militants. Govt continued to press ahead with controversial job creation bill; National Human Rights Commission 13 Aug called on President Joko Widodo and parliament to end discussions of bill, saying it could potentially violate environmental and labour protections; thousands 14 and 25 Aug demonstrated against bill in capital Jakarta.
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