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Why Is West Papua In Constant Turmoil?
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Why Is West Papua In Constant Turmoil?

Photo: Papua Separatist, source: Suara.com

 

 

By Bilveer Singh

Jayakartapos,  The Indonesian territory has struggled for independence for more than 50 years.

Papua has been in constant turmoil for more than 50 years, especially following the territory’s incorporation into Indonesia in 1969. This include incidences of violence where either Papuans, or Indonesian military and civilian personnel, have been killed. For instance, in December 2018, Papuan fighters killed 19 Indonesian construction workers in Nduga, in Papua province. In January 2019, one Indonesian soldier was killed in Nduga and two months later, in March, three more were killed.

August 2019 was particularly violent in Papua. On August 12, a police officer was shot dead. On August 16, a soldier died following an ambush by Papuan fighters. From August 19, right to the end of the month, Papua was embroiled in massive demonstrations in the key cities of Jayapura, Manokwari, Sorong, Fak-Fak as well as in Jakarta, allegedly triggered by Indonesians insulting Papuan students studying in Surabaya and Malang, cities in east Java. Many government buildings were burned in West Papua, including the local parliament in Manokwari, capital city of West Papua. The government sent in additional troops and police personnel and internet services were cut to prevent rumors from inflaming the volatile situation. Jakarta blamed the United Liberation Movement for West Papua and its leader, Benny Wenda, for being behind the demonstrations and violence. In Papua, seven people were killed, including a soldier.

Indonesian Papua.

The largely Melanesian Christian population of Indonesian Papua, formerly known as West New Guinea and Irian Jaya, reside in two territories: Papua and West Papua. Indonesia became the successor-state of the territory following the American-brokered 1962 New York Agreement and was made the transitional authority in May 1963. Since then, and particularly following its legal control of Papua — secured in the much-contested, very limited referendum of 1969 called the “Act of Free Choice” — the territory has continuously faced a low-level insurgency.

Key Papuan Grievances

The Papuans have consistently listed a litany of grievances against Indonesia and which, to a large extent, remain unaddressed. The first pertains to history. Papuans have claimed that they were never consulted when the 1962 New York Agreement was signed providing for the Dutch’s exit from the territory. Papuans have also dismissed the 1969 referendum, which endorsed the territory’s integration into Indonesia, as a sham. Just over 1,000 tribal leaders were picked by the Indonesian military to represent the vote — the region’s population was an estimated 800,000 — and they voted unanimously in favor of Indonesia with a show of hands.

Indonesia has also been accused of gross human rights violations since 1963. This has included the mass death of villagers that were accused of supporting the separatists as well as the killing of key Papuan leaders such as Ferry Awom, Arnold Ap and Theys Eluay, just to name a few.

Economic injustice also looms large. Papua, as one of the most resource-rich areas in the world, is also home to the Papuans, one of the the poorest groups in Indonesia. Papua’s resources are plundered by foreign companies such as PT Freeport Mc-Moran, which owns the world’s largest gold mine in the territory. Massive environmental degradation is also a sore point among the Papuans, who view their forests as sacred communal lands.

Papuans have also opposed Indonesia’s policy of transmigration under which Papuans are becoming an effective minority in their own land. Non-Papuans, mainly Javanese who tend to also be non-Christians, are flooding the territory and controlling the key administrative and political offices. Papuans view Indonesia’s policy as little more than colonization in which the natives are subjected to racial and religious discrimination, marginalization and subjugation.

Papuans’ Response

Among the first major response on the part of the Papuans was to undertake armed struggle against what was perceived as an Indonesian military occupation.  This was in part due to President Sukarno’s policy of threatening to invade the then Dutch-occupied territory through the Suharto-led Mandala Command. In 1962, Suharto had been promoted to lead the command, a joint army-navy-air force specifically aimed at carrying out incursions into Dutch-occupied territory as it edged toward possible independence. Following the New York Agreement, the Papuans continued to argue that Indonesia had militarily colonized the territory. The Papuans, in the hope of achieving independence, established a military force that has, at best, been a nuisance to the superior Indonesian military in Papua. While there are many motley, largely tribal-based military units, the most important is the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) or Papua Independence Organisation that has continuously launched a low-level military campaign against Indonesia. The OPM is deeply divided, under-armed and without international support, making it largely ineffective. Another military outfit, the Tentera Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat (TPNPB) (National Liberation Army of West Papua) also operates in parts of Papua.

The second strand of response has been political and diplomatic. Papuan leaders have tried to mobilize the local population to oppose Indonesia through demonstrations and strikes, often bringing major cities such as Jayapura, Manokwari, Fak-Fak and Sorong to a standstill, as happened in August 2019. Papuan leaders have also tried to negotiate with Indonesia leaders. Especially in the post-Suharto era, they have gained some concessions from Jakarta. Added to this, the Papuan diaspora is very active in a number of Western countries and in the South Pacific. They have also succeeded in gaining some support internationally from human rights organizations and some governments which have attempted to pressure Indonesia.

Indonesia’s Response

Indonesia, while maintaining tight political, economic and military rule of the territory, has loosened up some controls in response to rising demands for independence from the territory, especially since the late 1990s. In addition to providing greater economic assistance to the province, Indonesia also provided for a special kind of autonomy for the territory, called Otonomi Khusus (otsus) where locals were partially permitted to organize themselves and express their demands. Despite initial optimism, this experiment has largely failed to assuage the Papuans and the problems have continued.

For most Papuans, the lack of trust and faith in Jakarta was evident from the manner in which Papua was split into three provinces in 2003 without much consultation with the local population. Eventually, only two provinces were established, Papua and West Papua, due to the public and court rejection of the third province, Central Irian Jaya.

Explaining the Continued Papuan Resistance and its Implications

Even though in post-Suharto Indonesia, Papuans have been given a greater sense of autonomy and the security apparatus has broadly been reigned in, instability and conflict have continued. While Papuan-based political and cultural structures have sprouted since the late 1990s — such as Dewan Presidium Papua (Papua Presidium Council), Dewan Adat Papua (Council of Customary Leaders), Majelis Rakyat Papua (Papuan People’s Council) and ELSHAM, (Institute for the Study and Advocacy of Human Rights) — these all failed to function as expected. This was due to internal divisions among the Papuans and the unwillingness of Jakarta to provide greater concessions that would enable these bodies to become champions of Papuan self-determination. The much-hyped otsus and the failure of various concessionary reforms, especially institutional ones, have been principally responsible for the rise of violent and non-violent resistance of Indonesian rule in Papua.

While there exists a relatively broad-based civilian movement, backed by a highly decentralized, somewhat disunited and poorly armed network of guerrilla groups organized under the network of OPM and TPNPB, the Papuans’ quest for independence has been the key point of conflict between the Papuans and the Indonesian authorities. The Papuan armed and civilian-based separatist groups have also pushed for external third parties to mediate the conflict, something which Indonesia has outrightly rejected.

For Indonesia, the 1969 Act of Free Choice was the final phase of decolonization. Papuans reject it and have demanded a new, more representative, referendum to be undertaken to ascertain the wishes of Papuans about their fate inside or outside Indonesia. However, after its experience in East Timor in 1999, in which the territory seceded, Indonesia has no stomach for such an exercise.

Even though Papuans have tried to signal a sense of rising unity, this has been more hopeful than real. In the past and present, a number of political coalitions have existed to champion Papua’s independence. This includes the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, Papua Consensus, the West Papua National Authority, the West Papua National Committee, the Federal Republic of West Papua and the National Parliament of West Papua, to name a few. In December 2014, the Federal Republic of West Papua, the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation and the National Parliament of West Papua formed a coalition called the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. Three Papuan Congresses have also been held to unify various Papuan political groups and to plan for the territory’s future by Papuan leaders, often with the dismay of the Indonesian security apparatus. Despite the rhetoric of unity, these groups have been unable to cooperate due to differences based on personalities, tribe, and approaches to gain independence—hence, the failure to pressure Indonesia even to negotiate about independence, let alone achieve it.

The Papuans’ sense of dismay and the futility to date of seeking independence has been underscored by the failure of some international support to materialize into greater action. In September 2016, seven leaders of Pacific states championed Papua’s independence at the UN General Assembly, but nothing has actualized beyond rhetoric and platitudes. The issue of Papuan independence has also been regularly raised at the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) but to no avail.

Papuan Independence Remains a Pipe Dream

The only way forward for Indonesian Papua is through dialogue and the aim should be to expand as much local autonomy as possible. This is to serve the intrinsic interests of Papuans who are historically, ethnically, culturally and religiously different from the majority of Indonesia. The peace model should be Aceh, Mindanao, and Bougainville — not Timor-Leste.

The Papuans’ project of Merdeka or independence has failed due to the internal weaknesses of the movement. The Papuans’ quest for independence is doomed as they are in no position to pressure Indonesia and are unlikely to do so in the near future. The power asymmetry is simply too lop-sided in favor of Indonesia.

This has been exacerbated by the wide-spread corruption of Papuan leaders with most of the otsus funds squandered by local leaders. Papuans have also been deterred by past practices of repression and human rights violations, and a culture of impunity by the security forces. Indonesia has also been strategically adept in splitting Papua into two provinces, with additional splits likely, partly to foster divisions and competition among the Papuans.

Papuan independence also has little support, as the international community prefers to deal with Indonesia than an independent Papua. Jakarta has been adept in incentivizing international multinational corporations such as Freeport-McMoran and British Petroleum to exploit the resource-rich territory, and any loss of Indonesian authority over Papua would negatively affect the investments of these mega corporations from the West. In short, Papuan independence is largely a cry in the dark, all the more, following the UN’s recognition of the territory’s incorporation into Indonesia in 1969.

As long as the Papuans remains divided, with no clear leader or spokesperson, as existed in Aceh’s GAM and Timor-Leste’s FRETILIN, Indonesia will never concede an inch of the territory as it sees itself as the legitimate successor state of the Dutch East Indies. Unlike Timor-Leste, Papua also occupies a cornerstone in Indonesia’s imagination of its territorial integrity described as the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, something held in sacred by the armed forces and the populace at large.

In view of these factors, the quest for independence will be highly futile. The best way forward would be a dialogue to achieve comprehensive autonomy. This would ensure that political, economic and social-cultural aspects in Papua can be managed by Papuans, for Papuans, including law and order, with the Indonesian military largely deployed for border security. This would be the best of all possible scenarios for the near-term for Indonesia’s Papua.

Bilveer Singh is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore.(The Diplomat)

Civilian Casualities and The Struggle For Transparency
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Civilian Casualities and The Struggle For Transparency

Jayakartapos,  Since 2001, the U.S. has waged ground wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while also waging an ongoing and seemingly-without-end global ‘war on terror’ To wage those wars, thousands of airstrikes by both manned planes and unmanned drones have been conducted even beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, including in Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. These airstrikes have attempted to serve as a substitute for a more robust ground presence, which, among other benefits, protects U.S. military service members from greater harm. For years, the U.S. touted the numbers of ‘militants’ killed in these strikes while external agencies decried a mounting toll of civilian deaths. In the cases where the Pentagon did acknowledge responsibility for errant strikes that killed and maimed civilians, they often followed lengthy and cumbersome denials and heavily caveated official statements.

There are vast differences between civilian deaths the Pentagon has acknowledged, and numbers reported by other organizations. For example, in late January 2019, the Pentagon officially acknowledged 1,190 civilians killed by U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014. For the same time period, Airwars, a well-respected external organization that specializes in counting civilian casualties, report that at least 7,200 civilians were actually killed. How can these estimates be so far apart?

In a notable step toward establishing greater procedures for transparency and accountability in recording civilian deaths resulting from U.S. airstrikes, the Pentagon has been studying the issue for more than a year. On February 4, the Washington Post reported details about a recently completed study which was partially declassified. The report proves that the issue of civilian casualties (CIVCAS) has become a major priority for senior officials. This appears particularly true over the past two years, when the U.S. dramatically increased the scale and scope of its strikes in the mission to counter terrorists and insurgents after President Trump promised to loosen the rules of engagement—under the new rules, troops were no longer required to be in contact with enemy forces before opening fire. The redacted report looks at the strikes conducted in the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command, the two combatant commands where airstrikes are heavily concentrated. The study looked at the years 2015 to 2017, meaning the massive spike in 2018, and the resulting high toll of civilian casualties, is not covered in this report. There is a comprehensive effort in the Pentagon to articulate a new CIVCAS policy aimed to be formalized as early as this year.

The partially declassified report’s first and ‘overarching finding’ states that ‘data from January 2015 to December 2017 indicate there have been temporary increases in the confirmed number of civilians killed and wounded over time.’ The report also concludes that the delegation of targeting engagement authority was not a major factor leading to an increase in CIVCAS during Operation Inherent Resolve, the anti-ISIS campaign in Iraq and Syria. The report reiterates that the U.S. military considers it a high priority to minimize civilian casualties. The report notes that there is ‘clear written guidance and oversight regarding civilian casualty mitigation for deliberate and dynamic strikes.’ There is still confusion over what the military considers an ‘acceptable number’ of civilians put at risk from a strike, a number sometimes referred to as the ‘non-combatant value.’

Further muddling the issue of CIVCAS is the targeted assassination of terrorists using pattern of life analysis, a term which refers to the specific behaviors and movements associated with a particular entity over a given period of time. Also known as ‘signature strikes,’ these attacks involve targeting an individual or individuals based on patterns of routine or daily activity by a person or group of persons, typically military age males, that are engaging in behaviors often associated with militant or terrorist activity. Different forms of intelligence can be used to corroborate or triangulate pattern of life analysis, but the concept itself remains highly controversial given its lack of transparency. The families of civilians that might be killed in this manner often have few means and resources to seek justice or an explanation of why a loved one was killed by a missile launched from an unmanned aerial system, or drone. In a reversal of transparency and accountability, in late 2018 the Pentagon stopped releasing information on the locations and timing of strikes in Syria; this makes it far more difficult, if not impossible, for outside agencies to accurately document civilian casualties. Better sharing of information and policy transparency is not just morally correct, but would help the Pentagon limit civilian casualties, an aim it purports to support (TSC).

Praka Zulkifli Al Karim Gugur Dalam Rusuh di Wamena
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Praka Zulkifli Al Karim Gugur Dalam Rusuh di Wamena

Foto: Praka Zulkifli Al Karim NRP 31080241531086, yang gugur dalam peristiwa rusuh di Wamena, Senin siang (23/09), sumber foto: istimewa

 

 

 

JP-Jayapura, Seorang prajurit TNI dari Yonif 751 Raider/ Vira Jaya Sakti gugur saat terjadi kerusuhan di Wamena, Senin siang (23/09). Sekira pukul 11.00 WIT di Expo Waena distrik Heram aksi massa berlangsung anarkis yang diduga dilakukan oleh massa AMP ( Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua ) yang mengakibatkan  Praka Zulkifli Al Karim gugur karena luka sabetan parang dibagian kepala belakang.

Adapun kronologi kejadian tersebut bermula pada pukul 06.00 sampai dengan 10.15 WIT telah berlangsung aksi unjuk rasa di depan auditorium Universitas Cendrawasih. Pada pukul 11.00 WIT massa  AMP dievakuasi dari auditorium Universitas Cendrawasih menuju ke arah Expo Waena dan setelah masa  diturunkan  terjadi bentrokan antara masa AMP dengan  aparat keamanan.

Pada saat terjadi bentrokan, Praka Zulkifli Al Karim yang merupakan anggota Yonif RK 751/ Vira Jaya Sakti yang di BKO  sebagai supir truk di Polda Papua, tiba tiba dibacok oleh massa dari arah belakang. Pada pukul 11.45 WIT korban dievakuasi ke RS Bhayangkara untuk mendapatkan perawatan. Dan pada pukul 12.30 WIT korban dinyatakan meninggal dunia. Jenazah Praka Zulkifli Al Karim di semayamkan di Mako Yonif RK 751/VJS.(Rieke Maharani)

Wamena Rusuh Kantor Bupati Dibakar
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Wamena Rusuh Kantor Bupati Dibakar

Foto: Kerusuhan yang terjadi di Kota Wamena Jayapura, tampak asap mengepul dari bangunan yang dibakar massa, Jhoni Setiawan.

JP-Jayapura, Kerusuhan terjadi di Wamena Senin pagi (23/09). Kerusuhan yang melibatkan siswa sekolah dan masyarakat terjadi di jalan Yos Sudarso, Kabupaten Jayawijaya. Berdasarkan informasi yang berhasil dihimpun, bahwa siswa tersebut berasal dari jalan Bhayangkara, Kota Wamena bergabung dengan masyarakat dan terus bergerak dalam bentuk kelompok dan meluas ke dalam Kota Wamena.

Massa yang terbagi dalam beberapa kelompok menuju ke beberapa tempat berbeda, seperti di kantor bupati, sekitar Bank Papua, dan sekitar Super Market Yudha di jalan Sapi Darwi.  Sekira pikul 10.15 WIT, massa yang berkumpul di Kantor Bupati di jalan Yos Sudarso sudah mulai anarkis dan melempari Kantor Bupati dengan batu.

Dari pemantauan di lapangan seluruh aktifitas pertokoan dan sekolah termasuk kantor pemerintah dan swasta lumpuh dan sekira pukul 10.27 WIT, terjadi pembakaran Kantor Bupati, di jalan Yos Sudarso. Penyebab kerusuhan diduga berawal dari HOAX isu rasisme.( Jhoni Setiawan)

Solving Papua’s Problem Must Be Used Civilize And Democratic Way
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Solving Papua’s Problem Must Be Used Civilize And Democratic Way

Jayakartapos, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) conducted a limited meeting at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta Friday to discuss the latest situation in Papua following a series of violent rallies in the easternmost Indonesian province.

“At this limited meeting, we discussed efforts to handle (the situation) in Papua. I hope that the security and public order there can be maintained,” the President said.

Also present at the meeting were Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Minister/State Secretary Pratikno, Chief of the State Intelligence Body Budi Gunawan, Chief of the National Defense Forces (TNI) Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, Chief of the National Police General Tito Karnavian, and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung. The President asked security apparatuses to take firm measures against lawbreakers.

“We have security rules. Anybody violating the law must be dealt with sternly. We do not tolerate rioting and anarchy. We order security apparatuses to take stern measures against anybody engaging in a racist slur in any form,” he said. He had been informed of the legal measures imposed on the civilian and military personnel involved in the racist slurs, Jokowi said.

“The measures have been imposed without exception. I have also ordered the immediate restoration of security and public order in Papua. The dignity and self-respect of all citizens without exception must be protected,” he said.

The President has also ordered the immediate reconstruction of public utilities damaged in the rallies.
Indonesian Police Chief, General Tito Karnavian, defended the Communication and Informatics Ministry’s policy to restrict internet access in the Papua and West Papua Provinces to halt the massive proliferation of fake news and provocative content over the past week.

“Several parties have used the Internet to disseminate hoaxes and provocative news,” he said in Timika, the capital city of Mimika District, Papua Province, on Wednesday (August 28), regarding the government’s endeavor to handle the condition in the two provinces.

Karnavian supported his argument by referring to the proliferation of fake pictures of a Papuan student who was reportedly slain during the Surabaya and Malang incidents.

Those circulating the fake pictures were keen to influence and provoke community members, he said, adding that in response to this, the police attempted to clarify the issue. But, this endeavor was rendered ineffective, as the clarifications did not reach the people who had been exposed to the fake news.

To address this challenge, the publication of audio-visual materials on the internet has been slowed down by the authorities. Normal internet access would resume once the proliferation of hoaxes and provocative content reduced.

The National Police have their media intelligence squad whose personnel would examine the published news, photos, footages, and audio-visual materials, General Tito Karnavian said. The Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua have been disrupted by a series of protests against alleged racist actions against Papuan students in Surabaya and Malang, East Java Province.

Previously, the residents of Jayapura, the Papua provincial capital, staged another protest against the alleged racist slurs targeting Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, on August 16, but the rally turned violent. The brutal demonstrators went on a rampage, setting ablaze several government buildings. The demonstrators also damaged the office of the ANTARA national news agency in the city.

On Wednesday, violence had erupted in Deiyai District, some 500 kilometers away from Jayapura, Papua Province’s capital city, resulting in the deaths of an army soldier and two civilians.
On August 28, a circle of violence broke out in Deiyai District, which is located about 500 Km away from Jayapura, the capital city of Papua Province, amid a rally staged by more than a thousand native Papuan residents to protest the Surabaya incident. As a result of this violence, an army soldier and two civilians were killed, and five security personnel sustained injuries.

Meanwhile Papuan figure Freddy Numberi has appealed to Indonesian people to not seeing the raising of Bintang Kejora or Morning Star flags as a problem. He said the flag was not a state flag.

“It is not a country’s flag, but rather a cultural one. We have to understand the history,” said Freddy at the Coordinating Ministry For Political, Legal, and Security Affairs office, Jakarta, Friday, August 30.

To date, the Bintang Kejora flag was considered as a symbol of separatism. In the governmental era of the fourth President Abdurahman Wahid alias Gus Dur, the flag was allowed to be raised as a cultural symbol, as long as it is under the red-and-white flag.

Two days ago, Papuan students hoisted the flags before the State Palace during a demonstration to protest racism against their fellow Papuans in Surabaya and Malang, East Java. Several protesters also painted their faces in the colors of the Bintang Kejora flag.

Security personnel let the flag rise and did not take any action against the mass. Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said the personnel deliberately restrained themselves from being reactive to the situation considering the ongoing riots in Papua. Moeldoko said that many parties were waiting for the personnel to be provoked and thus commit violence against the protesters.

Meantime, national political observer, Toni Soemintardjo said solving Papua’s problem must be used civilize and democratic way. “The government must be re-mapped about the grounded problems of Papua such as poverty, unemployment and disguised unemployment, human rights violence allegation and other problems. So, for now, to solve Papua’s problem must use an economic, antrophology and sociology way,” Toni further explained (Red).