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).