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Would Political Dialogue on Papua Be on Top of Jokowi’s Agenda?

October 19, 2019

Would Political Dialogue on Papua Be on Top of Jokowi’s Agenda?


OCTOBER 17, 2019

Jokowi should facilitate a political dialogue with Papuans while at the same time continuing to build and improve infrastructures on the island. (SP Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

In August this year, the entire nation was again shocked by the recurrence of racial abuse against Papuan students in Surabaya. As reported, the verbal abuse was committed by authorities and local mass organizations who called the Papuans "monkeys," "pigs" and "dogs." The abuse was a reaction to an allegation that the Papuan students in Surabaya damaged an Indonesian flag on Independence Day, Aug. 17. This allegation remains unconfirmed.

In revenge, as we know, violent protests took place across the island of Papua. Arguably the Papuan protesters did not particularly target people of certain races; there were rumors to the opposite. Clearly the Papuan protesters wanted to send a strong message to the whole nation that racial abuse and discrimination shouldn’t be tolerated. A nation proud of its diversity must take a strong stance against any form of racism.

Unfortunately, the protesters failed to also send a message that violence of any form must not be tolerated. As we’ve seen, the Papuan protesters across the island reacted violently to the violence against some Papuan students in Surabaya. Here the idea that violence shouldn’t be avenged with more violence remains a challenge.

Ideally, and it remains a hope, this "action-reaction chain" has to be broken. This may not be easy to do, particularly if the problem is deeply rooted in history and culture.

But what needs to be done is to ensure that reactions, particularly the violent ones, are prevented in order not to exacerbate tensions. Failure to do so means the country’s proud belief in the culture of harmony and religion of peace remains merely a belief with no meaning in real life.

East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa’s initiative to apologize to the Papuan victims of racial abuse is greatly appreciated. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo also expressed his discomfort about the case and disapproved of the violent reactions in Papua. He then urged all parties to restore calm and peace. He called a few Papuan elites and representatives to come to the Presidential Palace to talk about the case, aiming to cool down the heated reactions among the public.

But, are these enough to resolve the problems in Papua? The issue is much deeper than seen on the surface. The racial abuse experienced by the Papuan students in Surabaya in August, and particularly the subsequent violent reactions in Papua, reflect a much more complex problem.

Partly for that reason, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called upon the Indonesian authorities to initiate a dialogue with the Papuans. This dialogue is absolutely important because, as she implies, the Papua issue has historical roots, and therefore the issue needs to be confronted and resolved, hopefully once and for all.

The tensions in Papua in the wake of the racial abuse have been managed. But more tensions in and with Papua could recur any time in the future if the deep-seated problem remains unresolved.

Historically, the way West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in the early 1960s was controversial. Even more controversial was when through the Act of Free Choice in 1969, West Papua remained part of Indonesia.

Many West Papuans then and now feel that it wasn’t really their free choice at all to be integrated with Indonesia. Consequently, there has been a long struggle for independence led by the separatist movement OPM (Free Papua Organization).

Hypothetically, if the Papuans seriously request a referendum now, what would the UN do? Would the UN try to persuade Jakarta to allow the Papuans to have a referendum? Many Papuans I know would like another opportunity, but unlike the one in 1969, to freely determine their own future – whether to remain part of Indonesia or to be apart.

The question is: would Jakarta allow that opportunity?

The UN call for the Indonesian government to engage in dialogue with the people of Papua in response to the violent reactions in August is of course greatly appreciated, but at the same time, it may be seen as an act of washing their hands of their past mistakes.

Regardless of these past mistakes (and whose mistakes?), the Papua issue is too serious to be ignored. It needs to be tackled through comprehensive dialogue.

But, would a political dialogue on Papua be on top of Jokowi’s agenda in his second term in office?

I doubt it. Jokowi wouldn’t make a political dialogue with Papua his top priority. His priority is to try to fulfill all his key promises as outlined in his vision and mission statement. Among them to complete the Trans Papua Project as a way to make Papua more accessible and reachable, and to make Papua more competitive economically.

To the government, endeavors to break down the isolation of and in Papua are as important as (if not more important than) efforts to engage in a political dialogue with the Papuans concerning their past and future.

Jokowi is capable of doing both. He can facilitate a political dialogue about the Papua issue while at the same time continuing to build and improve infrastructures in the country’s easternmost island.

And if he chooses to begin a political dialogue on the Papua issue, then it is crucial that all stages and processes are carefully planned and followed through.

Thorough discussions about the history of Papua chaired by historians are key in understanding the complexity of the Papua issue. All Papuans must also be open and honest about their hopes for the future of Papua.

It should be understood that political dialogue is a complex process, politically and psychologically. It takes place in many forms and at all levels of society, facilitated by a variety of actors. It is a "multi-level dialogue" that ideally fully engages everyone to reach a consensus on critical challenges, such as the future of Papua.

No doubt, Jokowi has a lot on his plate at the moment. It seems he is getting overwhelmed by protests and expectations. But with the right people in his new cabinet, I believe he will complete his second term in office with pride in his achievements. He would then be remembered truly as an “Infrastructure and Dialogue President”.

The title could be his legacy.

Justin L. Wejak is a lecturer in Indonesian Studies at Asia Institute, Faculty of Arts, The University of Melbourne.


Urgent international intervention in the Regency of Nduga, Papua Province, Indonesia : Open Letter

October 14, 2019

Urgent international intervention in the Regency of Nduga, Papua Province, Indonesia : Open Letter
Published 22 hours ago on 12 October 2019
By pr9c6tr3_juben

Five bodies found by residents of Nduga near Iniye Village, Mbua, Nduga on Thursday (10/10/2019) – IST


António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea

Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation

Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden

Antti Rinne, Prime Minister of Finland



Indonesian security forces are killing civilians in Nduga, a remote regency (kabupaten) in the province of Papua.

The bodies of four women and a boy who disappeared on September 20, 2019, were found yesterday, the most recent victims of army violence in Nduga. They had been buried secretly to hide the crime committed by the army.

In early 2019, large numbers of additional Indonesian troops were sent to Nduga after an altercation involving the OPM, a Papuan group opposed to Indonesian sovereignty of Papua. By including the civilian population in this conflict, killing them indiscriminately with modern weapons, Indonesian security forces (army and police) not only are breaking international law but are making the conflict worse.

Papuan inhabitants of Nduga (2,168 sq klm) are a distinct ethnic group numbering about 100,000 people. The violence by the Indonesian army which escalated in 2019 has resulted in more than 40% of the population now being internally displaced persons. This means twelve administrative districts of Nduga have been emptied of their population, many schools left deserted, buildings and agricultural land vacant. This year, with 190 people in Nduga killed, Indonesian army policy is nothing less than ethnic cleansing and must be stopped immediately.

The Indonesian government in Jakarta is responsible for the actions of the Indonesian army but clearly the army is operating beyond all law, killing for no reason other than killing innocent people because they are the inhabitants of Nduga. Why the army wants to occupy this region, empty of its original inhabitants, has not been revealed.

Many thousands of people in Nduga have already fled because of the threat of being killed – but these four women and a young boy were ones who did not flee – and they were killed by the army. This is their home, this is where they live – it is the army which needs to leave, not the people who live here.

Indonesian President Jokowi is aware of problems caused by continuing army violence in Nduga. Together with the heads of many governmental departments, the governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, publicly requested the excess army troops be withdrawn, but the request has had no effect. I myself met with his top minister, ex-army general Wiranto, in charge of co-ordinating political, legal and security affairs, and with ACM Hadi Tjahjanto, commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces. Despite repeated requests, nothing has changed.

Only one day after Jokowi himself announced that all foreign journalists would be given access to Papua, not just a few carefully-selected media representatives, the regional army commander himself in Papua contradicted the president. Beyond the control of Jakarta, the violent methods used by the army, whether described as crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing or worse, must be stopped immediately.

With Indonesian sovereignty of Papua, there is a ‘responsibility to protect’ the Nduga population from the extreme human rights violations occurring there. According to the R2P global political commitment adopted by the United Nations and endorsed by Indonesia, action is urgently needed to address Jakarta’s inaction, reluctance or incapability of providing a safe place for civilians, including Papuan women and children in Nduga. Because Jakarta cannot stop the killing, I am asking for international assistance to protect the lives of people in Nduga. These four woman and the boy killed by the army were part of my family, and I am asking for international protection for all Papuan people who still live in Nduga – those who have not already fled in fear.

If we cannot live in Nduga without fear of being killed by the army, where can we go? In the past, refugees have fled from Papua Province across the border to Papua New Guinea but starting a new life in PNG is not the answer to the problem. It is the Indonesian army which is the problem.

What is needed is International intervention to stop the killing in Papua, to remove those sections of the army currently involved in the killing of innocent people in Nduga. Of course, Jakarta will disagree, as shown by repeated requests for President Jokowi to intervene. The tragedy here is well past the stage where mere promises or blatant denial by Jakarta will stop the killing. It must stop now. International intervention is required to stop the killing.

Yours faithfully,

Samuel Tabuni

Director at Papua Language Institute (PLI)

Phone: +6281285519592


Papuan pro-referendum leader Benny Wenda awaits talks with Jokowi

October 14, 2019

Papuan pro-referendum leader Benny Wenda awaits talks with Jokowi

News Desk The Jakarta Post
Jakarta / Mon, October 14, 2019 / 11:44 am

Defiance: A member of the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) holds a Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag as he stands in front of dozens of police officers during a recent rally at the State Palace, Central Jakarta. In the rally, AMP members protested against racism, urged the government to unblock internet access in Papua and West Papua and demanded a referendum on Papuan independence. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) chairman Benny Wenda has called on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to make good on his claim that he is willing to meet with pro-referendum Papuan leaders.

Benny Wenda

I hope that #Indonesia‘s President @jokowi is willing to sit down with me to discuss the future of #WestPapua.

Please see below statement, including conditions that must be met before the ULMWP can agree to a meeting. …

“I hope that Indonesia’s President Jokowi is willing to sit down with me to discuss the future of West Papua,” Benny tweeted on Sunday night.

Earlier this month, Jokowi said he was willing to meet with pro-referendum groups in the wake of a deadly riot in Wamena, Papua, which itself was a continuation of ongoing protests and rioting that have gripped the region since mid-August.

“There’s no problem [in meeting pro-referendum Papuan leaders]. I will meet anyone who wants to meet me," Jokowi told reporters at the time.

In a statement on the ULMWP website linked in his tweet, Benny said that he had yet to receive any official letter about a meeting and listed several conditions for “a sincere meeting to take place”.

The conditions include putting a referendum on Papuan self-determination on the agenda, third-party mediation, the withdrawal of additional police and military personnel from the region and the release of Papuan activists who were arrested in the wake of the protests.

“In order for us to believe that this has changed, Indonesia must show good faith and agree to our preconditions,” he said in the statement. “Our will to achieve a democratic referendum, to uphold our right to self-determination, has never been stronger.”

Benny, a Papuan independence activist, has lived in the United Kingdom since being granted asylum there in 2003, after he was accused of masterminding an attack on an Abepura Police station, a charge that he denies.

On a number of occasions since protests first broke out in August, Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian and Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto have accused Benny of being a “provocateur” and “conspiring” to create unrest in the country’s easternmost provinces.

Wiranto has also repeatedly said that a self-determination referendum for Papua is not an option. (kmt)


2) Questions raised over bodies found in West Papua

1:26 pm today

Five bodies have been found in the highlands of Indonesia’s West Papua, with residents alleging them to be victims of a military attack.
Papuan news outlet Tabloid Jubi reports the bodies were found on Thursday in a village in Nduga regency, where violence has flared since last year.
A youth leader from the regency, Samuel Tabuni, is quoted as saying the victims, two of whom were teenagers, were shot by Indonesia’s military.
Military spokesperson, Eko Daryanto, told Tabloid Jubi he had not received a report of the shooting.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said the government would review Papua’s special autonomy laws to improve conditions for Papuans, the state-news agency Antara reported.
That comes after a request from Papuan leaders who met with the president in Jakarta last month.

Papua unrest: Social media bots ‘skewing the narrative’

October 12, 2019

Papua unrest: Social media bots ‘skewing the narrative’

2:56 pm on 11 October 2019

By Benjamin Strick & Famega Syavira for the BBC

Indonesia has blocked internet access in unrest-hit Papua over fears that a stream of offensive and racists posts online will spark more violent protests in the region, the government said on August 22. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO / AFP)
Photo: AFP

Indonesia’s Papua province has become the focus of a well-funded social media campaign using bots to promote a pro-government agenda, the BBC has found.

A long-running Papuan separatist movement has flared in recent months, sparking fresh calls for self-rule.

But with access to the region heavily restricted, social media has become a key source for the foreign press.

One expert told the BBC the apparently co-ordinated campaigns were seeking to skew international views of Papua.

Papua – which takes up half of the island also known as Papua – was controversially annexed by Indonesia in 1969.
Many Papuans still want independence and are calling for a new referendum.
The military has been accused of gross human rights abuses in the past in its attempts to quell dissent, while the separatist movement has also killed civilians.
Tensions rose recently, amid accusations of racism at a university. To control deadly unrest, the government has deployed thousands of extra security personnel to Papua.
It has also at times cut off the internet, and foreign journalists are now banned from reporting in the region, meaning it’s very hard to know what is going on.
Narrative ‘doesn’t reflect reality’

The investigation, by the BBC and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), identified a network of easily recognisable "bots" – or automated accounts – which were sharing the same pro-government content about Papua at the same time.

The Twitter accounts were all using fake or stolen profile photos, including images of K-pop stars or random people, and were clearly not functioning as "real" people do on social media.

This led to the discovery of a network of automated fake accounts spread across at least four social media platforms and numerous websites which could be traced to a Jakarta-based media company, InsightID.

The bots would jump on to hashtags being used by groups supporting independence, such as #freewestpapua, so they swamped negative reporting with positive stories about investment in the region, a process known as "hashtag hijacking".

This technique was also used on Facebook. One such message, in English, said Indonesia had invited the UN to Papua to assess the situation. But the UN has complained that, despite an agreement more than a year ago, an official visit has still to take place.

The company pushed out content on Facebook with paid ads targeting users in the US, UK and Europe.

"The risk of a campaign like this, in a place with so little access to truly independent media, is it skews the perceptions and understanding of the international community in a way that doesn’t reflect reality," says ASPI cyber researcher Elise Thomas.

"That appears to be the goal, one which someone is willing to spend hundreds of dollars and many months to achieve."

Many of the Twitter bots identified in the joint investigation have been removed. But more have been created to replace them.

‘Manipulating facts is very dangerous’

In line with the findings of this investigation, Facebook recently shut down more than 100 of these accounts, saying they didn’t want their services "used to manipulate people".

Facebook also said it had found links to InsightID. About $300,000 (£245,000) had been spent by the removed accounts on advertising on the site, although not all of them were attributed to InsightID.

InsightID could not be contacted. But a statement posted on social media credited to the firm said: "Our content defends Indonesia against the hoax narrative of the Free Papua separatist groups."

Indonesia has seen a significant rise in fake news and hoaxes in recent years. With both side of politics accused of using bots.

Although the manipulative social media campaign was supporting the Jakarta narrative on Papua, the government told the BBC it supported the move to shut the fake accounts down.

"Manipulating facts in order to discredit certain groups is very dangerous and can create social unrest," said Ferdinandus Setu, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Communication.

The investigations also uncovered a separate but overlapping campaign that Ms Thomas said was "a network of accounts and websites that has been built to promote ‘news’ stories which are either slanted to reflect a pro-Jakarta narrative or are simply false".

For example the bots shared a photo of UN human rights’ chief Michelle Bachelet, with a comment saying the UN had responded "positively" to the way Indonesia has dealt with the uprising in Papua.

Ms Bachelet in fact said she was "disturbed" by the violence and called for the government to "restore internet services and refrain from any excessive use of force".

The stories the accounts were sharing came from English language site Wawawa Journal. It looks like a legitimate news site, but its articles rely on unnamed sources, and vilify the international media’s coverage of the unrest in Papua.

The domain holder for this and a similar site, is Muhamad Rosyid Jazuli, the CEO of the Jenggala Institute, a research centre founded by Indonesia’s former Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

Mr Jazuli told the BBC the campaign was a personal project that he was independently funding, in response to what he claimed was biased reporting of events in Papua.

"The international media are only getting information from a few people, that’s not fair, there must be a counterweight. This is an effort to enrich the discourse," he said.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication told the BBC it would investigate the sites identified by this investigation and if found to be spreading "fake news" or provocative content they would be taken down.

Targeted abuse from bots

The Twitter bot networks revealed by the BBC investigation have actively targeted Indonesia human rights lawyer Veronica Koman.

She told the BBC: "Rape and death threats are now part of my daily life."

Now based in Australia, she has been a major source on social media of photos and footage of protests and unrest, sharing information passed to her by contacts in Papua.

Ms Koman now stands accused by the government of spreading "false news" and "provoking unrest" by publishing reports about the racist attacks on Papua students in Java.

She faces charges under the controversial Electronic Information and Transactions law (ITE) that makes it illegal to spread "fake news". If found guilty she could be jailed for six years.

Press and rights groups say this law suppresses free speech and is open to misuse.

"It’s an information war that has been raging for decades," Ms Koman said.

"We are fighting machines, the only thing individuals like me can do is remain hopeful that the truth will be stronger than any kind of propaganda."


2) Police in Indonesia’s Papua to investigate alleged killings

11 Oct 2019 09:28PM
JAKARTA: Police in Indonesia’s restive Papua region pledged on Friday (Oct 11) to hold an investigation after a local leader said the bodies of five villagers had been found with bullet wounds in an area where there has been a military crackdown.
The village is in the mountainous Nduga area, where the military has been hunting separatist rebels since December, following the killings of 16 construction workers building a highway.

Samuel Tabuni, an Nduga youth leader, said by telephone that villagers suspected the five – three women, a teenage boy and a teenage girl – had been shot by the military.

He said the five, whose bodies were found buried under mud and leaves, had been missing since they were out collecting food on Sep 20.

Papua police spokesman Ahmad Kamal said no reports of missing persons or deaths had been filed, but officers would begin to collect information about the alleged killings.

"We will still begin a process to find out whether there were murders or whether the incident really happened. We hope family members will report to police in Nduga so we can follow up," Kamal said by telephone.

Papua military spokesman Eko Daryanto also said the families of the victims should report the deaths to authorities so that an investigation could be carried out, adding he regretted that the accusation had been made before there was proof.

The Free Papua Movement’s military arm, which claimed responsibility for killing the construction workers, also blamed the Indonesian military in a posting on the group’s Facebook page.

Some 40 per cent of the estimated 100,000 Nduga population had been internally displaced since violence flared in December, Nduga said. He called on Jakarta to withdraw troops from Nduga, while also asking for support from the international community.

"Many thousands of people in Nduga have already fled because of the threat of being killed," he said.

"This is their home, this is where they live – it is the army that needs to leave, not the people who live here."

READ: More than 16,000 flee unrest in Indonesia’s Papua

There has been a spike in violence since August in Papua, which encompasses Indonesia’s two easternmost provinces on the island of New Guinea. Papua was a Dutch colony before it was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a widely criticised UN-backed referendum.

President Joko Widodo recently said he was open to holding talks with Papuan separatists to end the unrest, a departure from the stance of previous governments and some of his cabinet ministers.
Source: Reuters/jt

3) Jokowi confirms total evaluation of Papua’s special autonomy status
10 hours ago
Jakarta (ANTARA) – Indonesia’s central government, along with the Papua provincial government, will conduct an evaluation of the policy and implementation of Papua’s special autonomy status, according to President Joko Widodo (Jokowi).

"The central and provincial government will discuss in detail about this later on," Jokowi remarked at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, on Friday.

President Jokowi reiterated that matters concerning the status and funding of Papua’s special autonomy pertain to how it will be beneficial to Papuans. Related news: Jokowi ensures Papuan representation in subsequent cabinet line-up

"So as to proffer wealth and prosperity and improve the quality of human resources in the land of Papua," he stated.

Comprehensive evaluation and corrections will be made on how it has been applied over these years.

Researcher of Alpha Research Database Indonesia Ferdy Hasiman pointed to the fact that despite the central government being provided large grants through the general allocation fund (DAU), special allocation fund (DAK), as well as special autonomy fund, it had yet to reflect on Papua’s development.

Furthermore, the Audit Board (BPK) data in 2017 indicated that funding for Papua totaled Rp11.9 trillion (or some US$840 million).

"However, the high grant could not boost the Papuans’ wealth and prosperity comprehensively," Hasiman noted.

Related news: Minister Nasution inaugurates 523.7-ha Special Economic Zone in Sorong

It was counterproductive taking into account the fact that the grant was provided since 2002 following Law Bill Number 21 of 2001 on Special Autonomy Status of Papua.

In a written statement, Hasiman conjectured that this situation was caused by the funding not reaching Papuans but more likely remained with government elites.

He remarked that it was apparent from the poor population in Papua that has the highest percentage than other provinces.

The Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) data indicated that Papua’s poor population had reached 28.54 percent as per September 2016, while touching 27.62 percent in 2017, and 27.74 percent in 2018.

The numbers were in accordance with the Human Development Index (HDI) in Papua, which from 2013 to 2019 remained stagnant at 34.

Related news: Police name 94 suspects in Papua violence cases

Related news: Ministry, military join hands to rebuild Wamena’s damaged facilities


Reporter: Agus Salim, Suwanti
Editor: Fardah Assegaf


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PCC: Renewed Call For Pacific Peacekeepers

October 10, 2019

Pacific Conference of Churches


3 October 20190

A PACIFIC peacekeeping force should be mobilised under the auspices of the United Nations to enable a peaceful solution to the current violence in Papua.

Pacific Conference of Churches’ General Secretary, Reverend James Bhagwan, called for a peacekeeping force after shots were fired in an area near the Papua New Guinea border on Tuesday.

‘’We are extremely concerned by the most recent deaths in Wamena in the Central Highlands and the extra-judicial killings of Papuans by Indonesian security forces,” Rev Bhagwan said.

“Retaliatory attacks will continue along ethnic and religious lines if immediate steps are not taken to bring about stability and an end to violence by state-sponsored armed civilian militia.

“The Indonesian security forces have shown their blatant support for one side of this tragic conflict and cannot be trusted to remain neutral and protect all people.’’

Rev Bhagwan said a credible option would be for a United Nations peacekeeping force made up of experienced Pacific peacekeepers to be mobilised and sent to observe the situation.

“We must help create a situation in which parties to this conflict can sit and discuss the future of Papua in a cordial manner,” Rev Bhagwan said.

“Peacekeepers from Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu have been deployed successfully in times of crisis in Bougainville and Timor Leste, helping to bring about peace.

“Of course, we would look to Australia and New Zealand for logistical support for such an operation.’’

Tensions in Papua escalated in August after Papuans refused to raise the Indonesian flag during independence celebrations. When non-Papuans made racial slurs against the indigenous population, protests broke out and security forces reacted brutally, shooting and killing civilians.

Papua’s churches have called for a UN intervention through a visit to the territory by its human rights commissioner.

They also want the removal of troops and dialogue between the Indonesian government and representatives of the Papuan people.

This call has been supported by the 32 members of the Pacific Conference of Churches. .

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More than 16,000 flee unrest in Papua

October 8, 2019

More than 16,000 flee unrest in Papua

8 October 2019

Protesters take to the street to face off with Indonesian police in Manokwari, Papua, on 19 August 2019. Riots broke out in Indonesia’s Papua with a local parliament building torched as thousands protested allegations that police tear-gassed and arrested students who supported the restive region’s independence. (AFP photo)

More than 16,000 scared residents have fled an unrest-hit city in Indonesia’s Papua region, the military said Monday, as one of the deadliest eruptions of violence in years sparked calls for an independent probe.

Several dozen people were killed when violence broke out in Wamena city last month, with some victims burned alive when buildings were ablaze, and others stabbed in the chaos, according to authorities.

Since mid-August, Papua has been hit by waves of mass protests and violence fuelled by racism against indigenous Papuans by Indonesians from other parts of the archipelago, as well as calls for self-rule in the impoverished region.

The majority of Papuans are Christian and ethnic Melanesian with few cultural ties to the rest of Muslim-majority Indonesia.

On Monday, the air force said about 11,400 people – mostly migrants – had been evacuated aboard military aircraft.

Several thousand more have left aboard commercial aircraft since late September, it added.

Also Monday, Human Rights Watch called for a probe into 33 deaths during the Wamena riots to be led by the Southeast Asian country’s National Commission on Human Rights.

Sparked by racist comments

"The Indonesian government should also immediately allow the United Nations human rights office unfettered access to (Papua) to investigate the situation," the rights group said in a statement.

The violence in Wamena was reportedly sparked by racist comments made by a local teacher towards students, but police have disputed that account.

Since then, thousands of residents – both Papuans and non-Papuans – have been evacuated, as news of looming violence circulates on social media.

However, there were signs that Wamena was returning to normal with many shops and schools reopened – although most students have stayed home – while government offices have also been operating since last week, according to the media.

In August, protests broke out across Papua and in other parts of the country after the arrest, racial abuse and tear-gassing of dozens of Papuan students, in the city of Surabaya.

Migrants have become an influential minority in Papua, moving there from other parts of the country in pursuit of opportunities in the mineral-rich region – home to the world’s biggest gold mine.

A low-level separatist insurgency has simmered for decades in the former Dutch colony – which shares New Guinea island with the independent nation of Papua New Guinea – after Jakarta took over in the 1960s.

A UN-sponsored vote to stay within the archipelago in 1969 was widely viewed as rigged, and Jakarta has long refused to consider another referendum. – AFP

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Call for Jihadis to go to West Papua following unrest

October 7, 2019

Call for Jihadis to go to West Papua following unrest

9:43 pm on 7 October 2019

Johnny Blades, RNZ Pacific Journalist johnny.blades
Jihadis are being encouraged to go and fight in West Papua by Indonesian Muslim hardliners.

Front Jihad Islam, or FJI, issued a call to arms in the Indonesia-ruled Papuan provinces after non-Papuan settlers were among the victims of recent violence there.

Unrest has surged in Papua region since August, including a day of rioting and violence in the Highlands city of Wamena two weeks ago when about 30 people were killed.

The unrest came off the back of widespread public demonstrations by West Papuans protesting against racism and calling for a referendum on independence from Indonesia.

According to Indonesia’s government, more than 11,500 people have been evacuated from Wamena since then due to safety fears. That many of these people are settlers from other parts of Indonesia has caused concern and prompted action back in Java.

FJI has been busy spreading its message online, replete with videoed torching of the Papuan Morning Star Flag and banners calling for Jihadis to be recruited for fighting in Papua against Papuans.

That’s a concern to Saiful Islam Payage, the head of Papua’s chapter of the Ulema Council, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body.

"I am very worried. So, I strongly forbid the Laskar who are in the name of religion for war or jihad in Papua," he said.

He said that for now, there were only demonstrations in Java, and that no mobilisation of jihadis had yet occurred in the Papuan provinces. But he warned that if hardliners sought to bring their brand of divisiveness to Papua, he would have them expelled.

Indonesian human rights researcher Andreas Harsono said that following recent violence in Wamena, a number of Islamic groups mobilised in Javanese cities.

Those organisations had been making two types of public calls – one, from a Muslim NGO network, was urging people to donate to humanitarian assistance for victims of the unrest in Wamena and other parts of Papua.

The other, from the likes of the FJI and the Islamic Defenders Front, was a call to recruit jihadis to go to Papua and protect fellow Muslims.

According to Mr Harsono, his concern stems from the way that most Indonesians have limited knowledge of the situation in Papua and the context of widespread human rights abuses there.

"Most victims are indigenous Papuans. Many Indonesians do not know the problems there," he said.

"But because of emotions, because of sentiment, Muslim sentiment, they might think that fellow Muslims are being victimised in Papua. Thus, they will provide the ingredients to support these kind of misleading calls."

While noting his concern, the researcher also said that he didn’t deem the threat as major currently because as yet no cleric of significant influence had called for jihadis in Papua.

Furthermore, Mr Harsono said that Indonesian military and police personnel were on hand to provide security in Wamena and other towns in a region where the population was predominantly Christian.

While Papua has generally enjoyed harmonious inter-religious relations, Mr Harsono said groups aggressively promoting sharia law already had a foothold in the region.

"We have one in Sorong; we are also seeing Laskar Jihad, a militant Muslim group, setting up a base in Keerom; also in Wamena – not militant, but quite aggressive.

"So these kinds of organisations are starting to appear in many parts of both Papua and West Papua provinces over the last decade."

The presence of hardline Islamic campaigners in Keerom regency, which sits right on the border with Papua New Guinea, is not the only security concern along the 141st meridian east.

Land and sea access points between the two countries were closed last week after two people died in a shootout near the border on the Indonesian side where there’s been a troop build-up.

The governor of PNG’s West Sepik province, Tony Wouwou, said fellow Melanesians on the other side looked to flee across the border to safety in PNG.

But he said having Indonesian military in pursuit of them brought risk for his people.

"I’m a bit scared. I’m worried if my people go across and you never know what could happen. They might get bullet wounds or something because the Indonesians might think we’re Wamenas [people from Wamena] and all this, and receive a wound, and maybe our people will retaliate or something. I don’t want that to happen."

He said the border entry point to Indonesia should remain closed until security threats abate.


2) Indonesia: Investigate Riot Deaths in Papua At Least 33 Killed Amid Deepening Sectarian Tensions

(Jakarta, October 7, 2019) – Indonesian authorities should independently investigate recent riots in Wamena, Papua that resulted in 33 deaths, Human Rights Watch said today. Since September 29, 2019, at least 8,000 indigenous Papuan and other Indonesians have been displaced from their homes in Papua.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham) should lead an investigation into the deaths and review the government’s policing policy. The Indonesian government should also immediately allow the United Nations human rights office unfettered access to Papua and West Papua provinces to investigate the situation.

“At least 33 people died during riots in Wamena in unclear circumstances,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “An independent investigation is needed to examine the role of the security forces and to prosecute anyone responsible for wrongdoing.”

Human Rights Watch spoke with two well-informed government officials and three indigenous Papuan men who had been detained briefly by the Wamena police.

In August, Papuans took part in protests across at least 30 cities in Indonesia that were preceded by an attack by Indonesian militants on a West Papuan student dorm in Surabaya on August 17. On August 18, a new teacher allegedly made racist taunts at Papuan students at a public high school in Wamena. The protests turned to pro-independence rallies, some of which became deadly. At least 10 men, including an Indonesian soldier, were killed in August in Deiyai and Jayapura in Papua.

In Jayapura, Indonesian settlers, mostly ethnic Makassar, set up checkpoints and attacked indigenous Papuans with clubs and machetes. On September 1, a group of settlers attacked a student dorm in Jayapura, most of whose residents were from Wamena, killing one student and seriously wounding two others. The incident raised tensions between the two different racial groups.

On September 23, Wamena students protesting outside the Jayawijaya regent office were joined by a larger crowd that burned the office. Violence escalated. Many shops, mostly owned by Indonesians from other islands, burned down. Many of those killed were found trapped inside their burned houses. The burning and some killings continued on September 24.

The government shut down the internet from September 23 to 29 in the vicinity of Wamena. The police listed the names and origins of the 33 people who died. They included 8 Papuans, including 2 children, and 25 people from elsewhere in Indonesia, including 3 children.

On September 27, Indonesia’s National Police chief replaced the Papua policechief, Rudolf Alberth Rodja, a non-Papuan, with Paulus Waterpauw, an ethnic Papuan who had been the Papua police chief from 2015 to 2017.

In Wamena, the main city in the area, the riots caused thousands of Papuan and non-Papuan residents to flee the city amid the deterioration of security and rumors of an increased Indonesian military deployment, ostensibly to prevent further violence.

More than 5,000 residents, both Papuans and non-Papuans, have sought safety in several refuge points in Jayawijaya regency, including the police station and two military posts. Some are staying in churches. An Air Force officer said 2,000 evacuees had reported to the military to leave Wamena on a Hercules transport plane.

Last December, Papuan militants killed 17 Indonesian workers in Nduga, near Wamena. It prompted the Indonesian military and police to initiate a security operation, displacing thousands of indigenous Papuans. Thousands of them are still seeking refuge in Wamena and Jayapura.

News about the recent deaths of non-Papuans in Wamena has angered many Muslims in Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Java. The Islamic Defenders Front, one of the largest Muslim militias in Java, had started to call on Muslims for “jihad” against predominantly Christian Papuans in the two provinces.

Human Rights Watch has long documented human rights abuses in Papua’s central highlands, where the military and police have frequently engaged in deadly confrontations with armed groups.

Indonesian security forces have often committed abuses against the Papuan population, including arbitrary detention and torture. A lack of internal accountability within the security forces and a poorly functioning justice system mean that impunity for rights violators is the norm in Papua. The failure to appropriately punish serious abuses by Indonesian security forces has fueled resentment among Papuans.

The Indonesian security forces should exercise care when operating in Wamena, directing all security personnel to treat residents in accordance with international standards. They should transparently investigate and hold accountable anyone implicated in a criminal offense. Both the military and the police should allow journalists to operate independently in the area. The government should lift the decades-long official restriction on foreign media access to Papua.

“The situation in Wamena is tense, yet it’s difficult to verify the circumstances because no journalists can independently go into the area to interview witnesses,” Adams said. “Having independent monitors on the ground will help deter abuses by both the militants and security forces, which would benefit all Indonesians.”

3) Air Force to return Wamena refugees home aboard Hercules aircraft
4 hours ago

Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) – The Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) is prepped to offer air transportation to residents, who had fled Wamena following the riot on Sept 23, to return to the capital of Jayawijaya District in Papua Province.

The TNI AU is prepared to ply its Hercules aircraft for the transportation of refugees keen on returning home after the security situation in Wamena has become increasingly conducive, Commander of the Silar Papare Airbase Commodore Tri Bowo Budi Santoso stated on Monday.

Related news: Lesson learned from Wamena rioting

However, Santoso pointed out that refugees had yet to register with the TNI AU to return to Wamena.

He drew attention to the fact that following the Sept-23 riot, the TNI AU Hercules aircraft had transported some 10 thousand refugees out of Wamena, most of whom were flown to Sentan, the capital of Jayapura District, Papua.

"Most refugees were flown to Jayapura, while the others to Merauke and Timika," he revealed.

Santoso confirmed that two Hercules aircraft are on standby to offer support to the Indonesian military (TNI) chief in Papua rather than for the transportation of refugees.

Deadly riots simmered in Wamena at a rally that native Papuan students had held on Sept. 23.

Related news: Military Chief confirms Wamena schools reopening on Oct 7

Some 33 people were killed, while at least 77 others had sustained injuries in the riot that also left several thousand residents, mostly non-native Papuans, with no choice but to take shelter in the local military and police compounds.

The dead and wounded comprised non-native Papuans, who were assaulted by rioters brandishing machetes and arrows. Several of them had migrated to Papua from their hometowns in provinces, such as West Sumatra and South Sulawesi, to earn a living.

Chief of Information Service of the Cenderawasih Regional Military Command Lt Col Eko Daryanto has called on refugees to return home in the face of the increasingly conducive situation and normalization of economic activities in Wamena.

"The Sept-23 riot forced tens of thousands of residents to take refuge at 34 command posts. However, one week after the riot broke out, the situation and condition in Wamena has begun to become conducive," he had stated in Jayapura last Thursday.

Daryanto pegged the count of Wamena residents taking refuge in Jayapura crossing eight thousand, while tens of thousands of refugees were being accommodated in command posts in Wamena.

Some 220 refugees had returned to their hometowns in other provinces owing to the cold weather in Wamena City, with several of them reportedly suffering from diarrhea and acute respiratory tract infection, he stated.

Related news: Air Force’s Hercules aircraft evacuate 9,078 refugees from Wamena
Reporter: Evalisa Siregar/Suharto
Editor: Rahmad Nasution


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