TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko issued a warning to separatist groups in Papua who have committed human rights violations against civilians, women, and children, in the form of murder and rape.
“TNI and Polri [Indonesian Military and National Police] will take firmer steps, especially for the three regencies where we see progress is getting worse,” said the former military commander in an official statement, Thursday, April 27, 2023.
Moeldaoko made this statement in the midst of various worrying conditions occurring in the country’s easternmost province, one of which was the hostage-taking of New Zealander Philip Max Mehrtens. In an effort to release the Susi Air pilot, a soldier Miftahul Arifin died in the Mugi-Mam area, Nduga.
Mifathul was shot dead by the Papuan armed group or KKB on Saturday, April 13, at 16:30 local time. To date, five soldiers died during the operation. TNI Commander Admiral Yudo Margono thus raised the status of the rescue operation to combat ready.
Moeldoko explained that out of 6 provinces and 42 cities/regencies in Papua, only 3 districts are categorized as red zones because of rampant violence cases, namely Nduga Regency, Intan Jaya Regency, and Puncak Regency. The cases, he added, include rape and murder which were mostly directed at civilians and even children.
To create stability, Moeldoko said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issued Presidential Instruction No. 9 of 2020 concerning accelerating the development of Papua’s welfare. He underlined that the government will not stop continuing the development projects amid the violence cases. “The President asserts that regardless of the situation, development in Papua will proceed.”
By UCA News reporter Published: April 27, 2023 12:13 PM GMT
They want an end to military operations in the crisis-hit province following the move to implement a ‘combat alert operation’
In a rare gesture, Catholic and Protestant leaders in Papua have come together to appeal to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to stop military operations in the crisis-hit province following the latest move to implement a ‘combat alert operation.’
Bishop Yanuarius Theofilus Matopai You of Jayapura said, “We don’t want any civilian casualties.”
“Therefore, we respectfully ask the President of the Republic of Indonesia to withdraw troops and take steps for negotiations and a humanitarian approach,” Bishop You said at a press conference on April 26 along with other Christian leaders.
This is the first time the Catholic Church has joined hands with Protestant leaders against the military build-up in Papua which intensified in recent months.
You, 72, who was installed bishop in February, was accompanied by Reverend Dorman Wandikbo, president of the Evangelical Church in Indonesia, Reverend Socratez Sofyan Yoman, president of the Communion of Baptist Churches of West Papua, Reverend Tilas Mom, chairperson of the Kingmi Synod in the Land of Papua, Reverend Andrikus Mofu, chairperson of the Synod of the Indonesian Christian Church in the Land of Papua, and Reverend Benny Giay, moderator of the Papua Church Council.
Their call came in response to the military’s move last week to beef up combat operations in the region following the killings of five soldiers by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB), which the Indonesian government has labeled as an armed criminal group.
The soldiers were killed during the efforts to free New Zealand pilot Phillip Mehrtens, who has been held hostage since February this year.
The term ‘combat alert operation’ allows soldiers to move around in combat weapons and open fire at anyone they suspect of being associated with terrorist activities, rights activists say.
On April 24, the TPN-PB released a video statement by Mehrtens in which the pilot accused the military of using a bomb in the Nduga Regency area.
The pilot asked the government to stop it as it endangered his life and that of civilians.
“When bombs are dropped,” according to You, it will have tremendous consequences for humans and the environment.
Herman Taryaman, the military chief in Papua, however, has disputed the claim, and said, “The safety of the pilot and the public is paramount.”
A former Dutch colony, Papua declared itself independent in 1961, but neighboring Indonesia took control two years later, promising to have an independence referendum. The subsequent voting in favor of staying as part of Indonesia was widely considered a sham.
According to data from the advocacy group Imparsial, the number of soldiers in Papua is currently pegged at 16,900, most of them with combat qualifications.
At least 242 people were killed in the conflict in the past four years from 2018, including 177 civilians, says a report by the international rights group, Amnesty International.
The death toll includes 44 officers of the military and police and 21 rebels of pro-independence groups.
The standoff continues to trigger anxiety among local residents and Church leaders.
Florianus Geong, a resident in Nduga Regency, one of the worst affected areas in the region, said, “They [the army] patrol every day.”
At the press conference, Reverend Wandikbo said the latest operation by the military would exacerbate the situation as people are struggling for basic services.
“Children can’t go to school because the military uses schools and health centers (as their camps). They also use houses and churches,” Wandikbo said.
Reverend Yoman asked the president to appoint a special envoy to negotiate with the rebels.
“The president should appoint a special envoy so that they can communicate” with rebels, he said.
Jayapura, March 13, 2023 – Indigenous leader, Hendrikus ‘Franky’ Woro, today filed an environmental and land rights lawsuit challenging the plan by a Malaysian-owned palm oil company to clear tens of thousands of hectares of West Papuan forest. The lawsuit at the Jayapura State Administrative Court calls for the revocation of a permit issued by the Papua provincial government to PT Indo Asiana Lestari (PT IAL) covering traditional Indigenous land of which Franky Woro is joint owner.
“We are customary owners of this land, but were not properly informed about the company’s planned activities. We were also not consulted in any Environmental Impact Analysis,” said Franky Woro.
Franky is the leader of the Woro clan, part of the Awyu people (also written ‘Auyu’). The Woro clan lives in Yare Village, Fofi District, in the richly forested Boven Digoel district located in the remote southeastern-most corner of the Indonesian territory known internationally as West Papua. He filed the lawsuit because the provincial government withheld information about the permits it granted to PT IAL, whose concession includes the lands of the Woro clan.
As Greenpeace reported in Licence to Clear: The Dark Side of Permitting in West Papua, PT IAL obtained a preliminary location permit for an oil palm plantation in 2017 covering an area of 39,190 hectares. PT IAL is owned by a Malaysian shell company suspected to be under the ultimate control of All Asia Agro, which also owns oil palm operations in Malaysia’s Sabah state. The area of land that PT IAL intends to convert into a palm oil plantation was originally the northernmost part of the notorious and now abandoned Tanah Merah/Menara Group project.
In the lawsuit lodged today, Franky Woro asks for the court to revoke PT IAL’s environment permit. “The environment permit was issued based on an improper Environmental Impact Analysis, ignoring the existence of customary Indigenous owners, and flawed because it was not accompanied by a conservation analysis. The result will be environmental damage and infringement of Indigenous Peoples’ rights,” said lawyer Tigor Hutapea, part of the Advocacy Team to Save Papua’s Forests.
The environmental permit is also out of step with Indonesia’s promise to tackle climate change. According to Indonesia’s Enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, the government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 31 percent, or 43 percent with international financial support, by 2030. Indonesia’s largest source of emissions is from land use and deforestation, yet the issuance of PT IAL’s environment permit is expected to trigger deforestation of 26,326 hectares of primary forest.
“The potential deforestation emission due to this project is approximately 23 million tonnes of CO2. This would be five percent of the nation’s annual carbon emission level in 2030,” said Greenpeace Indonesia’s Sekar Banjaran Aji, a member of the legal team.
Many Awyu fear the imposition of a palm oil plantation will destroy their customary forest and livelihoods, as has happened elsewhere in West Papua. The landscape covered by PT IAL’s permit is not only the place where the Awyu People find food, medicine and earn financial income, but is also habitat for flora and fauna endemic to Papua. For the Awyu Indigenous People, their forests are also entwined with their cultural identity.
“We are not short of examples warning us of the disaster that follows the loss of customary forests in Papua after the government grants permits for oil palm plantations and timber extraction. This must stop, because it will only further marginalize Indigenous Papuans. Papua’s forests are also the largest rainforest remaining in Indonesia,” said Emanuel Gobay, lawyer from the Advocacy Team to Save Papua’s Indigenous Forests.
“West Papua is part of the Melanesian family, please know that you are at home.”
These were the sentiments expressed by residents of Muanikoso settlement in Nasinu during a community talanoa session with members of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) yesterday.
The residents are predominately descendants of people from Vanuatu who arrived in Fiji in the early 1930s and settled in the area.
The talanoa session, led by five members of ULMWP, was organised to help raise awareness about the indigenous West Papuan people’s struggle for autonomy and the ongoing atrocities faced by their people at the hands of Indonesian security forces.
ULMWP secretary Rex Rumakiek said it was their hope that Melanesian leaders and people would “stretch out their hands” to hug their Melanesian brothers and sisters in West Papua and for them to be accepted as full members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group in 2023.
“We wanted to embrace our Vanuatu/Fijian brothers here in Muanikoso,” he said.
“We are here to talk to them and share stories with them so they can tell their children about West Papua.
“It is a story that will continue to be told for generations as West Papua was cut from Melanesia for 60 years but finally the door has opened for us to come back in.
“Recently, our ULMWP president Benny Wenda was in a meeting with Fiji Prime Minister.
“Our chief arrived shortly after Benny left and this time they came not to repeat what he and the group had came to do earlier, but are here to thank the leaders and community for what you have done.”
Mr Rumakiek urged Melanesian leaders to stand with the people of West Papua who have experienced human rights abuses for many years.
Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (PIANGO) executive director Emeline Ilolahia said the update from West Papua CSOs about the recent incident in Wamena should raise alarm bells with all human rights groups in the region.
“There are reports that nine died and 17 others were shot on February 23 after a conflict arose between community and Indonesian forces over an alleged child abduction case,” Ilolahia claimed.
“This and past cases of atrocities in West Papua should weigh heavily on the Pacific community, particularly as there are claims that more than 500,000 indigenous Papuans have lost their lives under Indonesia’s rule.”
Fiji Council of Social Services executive director Vani Catanasiga said Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka’s commitment to support the full membership of the ULMWP in the MSG should be celebrated and supported by all Fijians.
“Our Prime Minister’s commitment and the effective change in our government’s position to support ULMWP is essentially about saving Papuan lives, saving the lives of members of a Pacific family,” she said.
“We thank the Maunikoso community for hosting the event and welcoming guest speaker Mr Rumakiek who has been working to raise awareness and support for the cause in the region for decades.”
Questions sent to the Indonesian Embassy yesterday in relation to the claims made by the ULMWP remain unanswered.
The United Kingdom’s commitments to upholding human rights came under question on Monday over the West Papua issue, resulting in a heated exchange between a government representative and five members of the House of Lords in the Upper Chamber of the British Parliament.
The exchange occurred after Minister of State for the United Nations, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon responded to a question posed by Lord Harries of Pentregarth on what progress had been made in obtaining access to West Papua for the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Lord Ahmad said the UK government welcomed recent engagements between the UN and Indonesia to meet the recommendations of a Universal Periodic Review, calling for the UN to access and review the human rights situation in West Papua.
He said Indonesia was an important bilateral partner.
“We recognise that a significant amount of time has passed since the visit was first proposed, but we hope that both parties can come together to agree dates very soon,” Lord Ahmad said.
The statement was unsatisfactory for Lord Harries, who pointed out that the UK was not among the eight countries who had endorsed the universal periodic review, and demanded clarity on where the UK stood.
“He (Lord Ahmad) mentioned the universal periodic review of Indonesia. He will know that, at that review, a number of major countries, including the United States, Australia and Canada, called for an intervention from the UN in Indonesia and an immediate visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Lord Harries said.
“It is not at all clear that the United Kingdom was among those supporting that call. Perhaps the Minister will be able to enlighten us.”
Lord Ahmad acknowledged a visit by the UN human rights chief to West Papua had been “pending for a long time” but added that the conservative government supported an earlier visit.
The answer was not well received by Lord Lexden, who condemned Indonesia’s control over the region.
“Is it not clear that this small country is suffering grievously under a colonial oppressor,” Lord Lexden said.
“Indonesia, which is busily exploiting the country’s rich mineral resources and extensive forests in its own interests? Will the Government do all in their power, in conjunction with Commonwealth partners in the region, to get the UN to act and to act decisively?”
Lord Hanny of Chiswick, Lord Kennedy of Southwark and Lord Purvis of Tweed shared their frustrations, describing the details of human right reports on West Papua and pressing Lord Ahmad on why the UK was not among 8 countries that endorsed the Universal Periodic Review.
“It is over a year since the UN special rapporteur’s allegations of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and the forced displacement of thousands of indigenous Papuans,” Lord Kennedy said.
“What is the point of the Foreign Office highlighting human rights concerns if it does nothing about them in its negotiations with the country in question?,” Lord Purvis said.
“Why the UK does not seem to have been part of that group of eight countries that pressed for an early visit by the High Commissioner for Human Rights?” Lord Hannay of Chiswick said.
“It is surely reasonable to ask a democratic country such as Indonesia to admit the high commissioner to look into abuses of human rights. That is what it should do, and I hope that we will press that strongly,” Lord Hannay added.
Lord Ahmad said he had spoken to the High Commissioner of Rights about the situation, and acknowledged that a visit was overdue.
He said, the alleged human rights abuses, are regularly brought up in bilateral talks between Indonesia and the UK.
“My Lords, I assure the noble Lord that we engage with them quite regularly,” he said.
“As I said earlier, Indonesia is an important bilateral and regional partner with which we engage widely on a range of issues of peace, conflict and stability in and across the region; it is a key partner.
“In all our meetings, we raise human rights in the broad range of issues, and we are seeing some progress in Indonesia, including on freedom of religion or belief,” he added.
Kompas.com – April 19, 2023 Achmad Nasrudin Yahya, Jakarta — The Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform is urging the TNI (Indonesian military) to cancel a decision to raise the operational status in conflict-prone Papua to combat ready (siaga tempur). The combat ready operational status was applied following an attack by an armed criminal group (KKB) that left one TNI army soldier dead and five soldiers missing in Nduga regency, Papua Highlands. Coalition representative and Centra Initiative Chairperson Al Araf said that the decision to apply a combat ready status is a policy that will continue to reproduce the spiral of violence. “If that policy choice is the one that will be pursued, then the Coalition calls for the plan to be cancelled”, said Araf in a press release on Tuesday April 18. Araf related how the militaristic security approach pursued to date in Papua has directly and indirectly impacted on violence and human rights abuses in Papua. Several cases have come to the public’s attention such as the killing of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani in 2020 and the killing and mutilation of four civilians in Papua in 2022. Then there was the torture of three children accused of theft in 2022. According to Araf, the practice of impunity has always been a problem that continues to occur in violence involving security forces in Papua. Because of this, enforcement of the law to break the chain of impunity is seen as important to prevent the recurrence of violence by security forces against civilians in Papua. Araf emphasised that an evaluation of the militaristic security approach in Papua must begin immediately. This evaluation could be carried out by means of rearranging the TNI troop level presence in Papua. “To date, there are indications that there has been an increasingly disproportionate increase in the number of TNI troops present in line with the continued expansion of organic structures and the deployment of non-organic TNI troops from outside Papua”, he explained. Araf also believes that in terms of legality and accountability, the involvement of the TNI in Papua has created many problems that are not in line with Law Number 34/2004 on the TNI. Araf explained that Article 7 Paragraph (3) of the TNI Law emphasises that the implementation of Military Operations other than War (OMSP) by the TNI, including in this case dealing with separatism and providing assistance to the police, must be based on political decisions by the state or a decision in consultation with the House of Representatives (DPR). Based on research by one of the organisations that part of the Coalition, Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial), they noted that the government has never issued a written policy related to the deployment of TNI troops to Papua. “Thus, from a legal standpoint, the involvement of the military can be said to be illegal”, Araf stressed. As has been reported, TNI Commander Admiral Yudo Margono raised the status of TNI operations in Nduga regency to combat ready. This followed the attack by an armed criminal group on 36 TNI personnel in Mugi district, Nduga, in the Papua Highlands, which resulted in the death of Private First-Class Miftahul Arifin on Saturday April 15. “We are still carrying out law enforcement operations using a soft approach, from the beginning I have said this, but of course with conditions like this, in certain areas we will change it to a combat ready operation,” said Margono in Mimika, Central Papua, through a voice recording distributed to the media on Tuesday April 18. [Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Koalisi Masyarakat Sipil Desak TNI Batalkan Operasi Siaga Tempur di Papua”.] Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2023/04/19/05300061/koalisi-masyarakat-sipil-desak-tni-batalkan-operasi-siaga-tempur-di-papua
3) KPK Seizes Lukas Enembe’s Land, Hotel Worth Rp40bn
Translator Dewi Elvia Muthiariny
Editor Mahinda Arkyasa
14 April 2023 23:27 WIB
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) confiscated a plot of land along with a hotel building owned by the inactive governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, who has been named a suspect in the bribery and money laundering cases. Ali Fikri, KPK’s spokesman, explained that the assets seized are a plot of land covering an area of 1,525 square meters on which a hotel is built in Jayapura, Papua. “The estimated value of these assets is around Rp40 billion,” Ali said in a written statement on Friday, April 14, 2023.
The confiscation was carried out following the case that ensnared the Democratic Party politician. On April 12, the anti-graft commission named Enembe a suspect in the crime of money laundering. KPK investigators previously declared Enembe as a suspect in the case of alleged bribery and gratuities for an infrastructure project in the country’s easternmost province. Apart from Enembe, the KPK also named PT Tabi Bangun Papua (TBP) Director Rijantono Lakka (RL) as a suspect for handing out bribes. Rijantono Lakka allegedly handed out a bribe of Rp1 billion to Lukas Enembe after his company was selected to work on three infrastructure projects in the province. The Papua Governor and a number of officials at the Provincial Government were also promised to get 14 percent of the profits from the projects after tax deductions.
A West Papuan leader has accused Indonesia of imposing a “martial law” on the Melanesian region in response to the kidnapping of a New Zealand pilot by rebels fighting Jakarta’s contested rule.
“It is clear that Indonesia is using the kidnap of New Zealand pilot Philip Mehrtens as a pretext to strengthen their colonial hold on West Papua,” said United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) interim president Benny Wenda.
Mehrtens was taken hostage on February 7 in the Papuan Highlands and has featured in video demands for independence.
“[Indonesian security forces] are creating and exploiting violence to further depopulate our villages and create easier access to our resources through corporate developments like the Trans Papua Highway.
He said that in Intan Jaya, Puncak Jaya, and Nduga, Indonesian soldiers were “roaming the countryside, conducting arbitrary house searches, beating Papuan civilians, and even murdering women and children”.
“Indonesia killed us with guns and bombs dropped from helicopters, but also with malnutrition and crop destruction.
“Even as a child I knew that my life was worthless to the colonial forces. The genocide and ethnic cleansing of West Papua is still neglected, as the massacre of 10 Papuans in Wamena in February proves.”
Up to 100,000 displaced According to UN figures, between 60,000 and 100,000 West Papuans have been displaced over the past four years.
Wenda said his movement’s peaceful demands to Indonesia were:
Allow aid agencies to treat victims of forced displacement;
Allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights into West Papua, as had been demanded by more than 84 countries;
Allow international journalists to report on the situation in West Papua;
Draw back Indonesian troops to allow civilians to return to their lives; and
Release all political prisoners — including 80 activists who had been arrested for handing out leaflets demanding political activist Victor Yeimo be freed, Victor Yeimo himself, and three students detained without charge last year.
Manokwari, Jubi–Since the West Trans Papua Road was established in 2014, residents of Kebar Valley in Tambrauw Regency have been conflicted as Bintuni Agro Prima Perkasa Ltd. (BAPP) planned to open a corn plantation.
BAPP entered the Kebar area initially through an oil palm plantation permit in 2014. The people of Kebar refused but the company returned to Kebar in 2015 with officials from the Tambrauw Agriculture Office.
Jubi and Project Multatuli met residents in several villages in Kebar Valley on October 19, 2022. The team collected stories from residents about the West Trans Papua Road that crossed the area and became the entry point of investment in Kebar.
We heard a lot from mama-mama Kebar, or the women of Kebar. Sarlota Auri is one of the residents who has customary rights in the area. She tells the story of the beginning of BAPP, which offered her Rp 2 million (USD 135) in place of releasing her off her customary right.
She turned down the offer as she was worried the company would turn the area into an oil palm plantation in the future despite claiming themselves to be a corn plantation today.
“The first time they came, they promised to use only two hectares. But the heavy equipment continued to operate. We learned from the oil palm case in Manokwari so we refused the BAPP plan because we were afraid that they would turn our land into oil palm plantation under the pretext of planting corn,” she said.
The corn plantation in the Kebar valley surrounds the settlement in Jandurau II Village. This village was established as a result of the expansion of Jandurau I Village in the East Kebar District. According to residents, the corn plantation covers more than 19,368 hectares.
Jandurau II Village is a portrait of a village surrounded by corn plants owned by BAPP. Residents seem helpless living in the middle of the company’s cornfields. The distance between the cornfield and the village is no more than 1 meter, separated only by a road and a wooden fence.
Elvira Anari recounts how her family first lived in Jandurau I Village. When Tambrauw Regency was expanded, her father took them to a new location and built a new village. “This village existed before the company entered,” she said.
In the village there were only 14 houses inhabited by one descendant. Twelve of them are old buildings. The two villages, Jandurau I and II, are not far apart, separated only by a cornfield owned by the company.
“We built 12 old houses, while the otther two semi-permanent houses were built with village funds. This is all for the community,” said Oni Sailonari, secretary of Jandurau II Village.
According to Oni, since the corn company started operating, no villagers have worked at the company. The employees are from other villages and people outside of Kebar.
“Since the beginning of BAPP, the residents have not been interested in working at the company,” he said.
The company’s presence makes residents uncomfortable due to air pollution and residents’ livestocks often die a sudden death. The sudden death of pigs, chickens, and cows cultivated under the West Papua Government’s assistance program was allegedly due to the company’s use of rat poison on the plantation land.
“We have reported this matter to the company several times, Mama Sarlota’s livestocks included, but they did not respond,” said Oni.
Kebar residents took to the street
In August 2018, a majority of residents in Kebar protested against the Bintuni Agro Prima Perkasa Ltd. The people rejected the corn plantation in the Kebar Valley area, which had been operating for five years.
Residents from the villages of Arumi, Wasabeti, Wanimeri, and Kebar walked across the main Trans Papua Road to the company office located between Jandurau I and Jandurau II villages.
“Almost all residents from East Kebar to West Kebar, even the GKI Church was involved at that time in the protest to reject the company’s presence at our land,” said Elvina Anari.
The community’s reason for rejecting the company, apart from defending their customary land, is because the company entered the land through untruthful manners.
“The company gathered the landowners and gave Rp 50 million to each clan but the Manimeri Clan and the Ariks Clan, who were given Rp 100 million,” said Elvina.
“The company claimed they wanted to improve the welfare of the community. But it was a lie, we are still poor,” said Elvina.
The company at that time also promised to provide education and build a hospital. However, even though the company has been running for several years, none of these promises have been realized.
“The only one benefiting from the company’s presence are the employees. We customary land owners only get Rp 1 million every month,” she said.
However, residents admitted the corn business prospect was quite good as every harvest transported out of the area needed at least seven trucks.
Sago and red fruit no more
The corn plantation was once a sago and red fruit plantation owned by residents. Since the company took over, the sago and red fruit have been displaced. Only in a few locations can sago trees still be seen. Even then, they belong to several clans that insist on defending their land, such as the Ariks Clan.
“Indeed, during the preparation stage, the Ariks Clan was given Rp 100 million. But I kept the money in the bank and never used it. When I saw that the people rejected the company, I returned the money to the company,” said Samuel Ariks from the Ariks Clan, one of the customary landowners.
Not only sago and red fruit but ironwood, matoa wood, and other plants also disappeared. Samuel told us, when the company cleared the land, operators were already told to bury the wood in the ground. “But when we looked away, they dug it up. This was carried out around 2018 and 2019,” he said.
Samuel Ariks admitted that the existence of the West Papua Trans Road made the community happy because access to other areas was easier like never before. However, on the other hand, the presence of the road has robbed the people of their natural resources through the presence of plantations from outside. (*)
This report is a collaboration between Jubi.id and Project Multatuli to record stories from Trans Papua Road.
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The deployment of 1,200 Indonesian Military soldiers to the XVIII/Kasuari Regional Military Command in West Papua and Southwest Papua drew public protest, including residents of Maybrat Regency joined in Aliansi Masyarakat Maybrat Peduli Kenyamanan. They voiced protests against the soldiers’ deployment and the establishment of military posts in their villages, namely in Kampung Konja and Kampung Bori.
The spokesperson for the Kodam XVIII/Kasuari Regional Military Command, Colonel Inf. Batara Alex Bulo, explained that the assignment was aimed at providing a sense of security and convenience for the community. According to him, this was also related to the attack in Kisor Koramil in Maybrat on September 2, 2021, when 4 soldiers died.
Consequently, residents from 5 villages went for a mass exodus. Batara said that his side was striving to lure people to return to their villages. He claimed that the job is not easy. Residents were willing to return when there is a guarantee of security.
“The community has officially asked us, TNI, Polri (National Police), and the regional government to guarantee security,” Batara said on Monday, April 18.
Batara claimed he was not concerned about parties who have opinions opposite the TNI and asked them to bring data and facts if the TNI intimidates the people, or even enrich themselves.
In addition to providing security, Batara said it was also aimed at overseeing regional development which is considered a weapon to fight against groups that keep sparking conflict, even demanding the independence of its own territory from Indonesia.
Residents Demonstrate in Front of the Regional Parliament Building
A number of residents protested against the establishment of the military posts by holding a peaceful demonstration in front of the Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) of Maybrat Regency on Monday afternoon, April 17.
“They (the TNI) suddenly came and did not explain their aims and objectives properly,” said action coordinator, Alberto Harin Turot, on Monday.
In its statement, the alliance said that a security approach such as presenting TNI soldiers actually creates new problems for the Papuan people. The presence of the TNI in villages is considered a threat to the convenience of people’s lives.