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Summary of events in West Papua (Dec. 16 Dec. – 20 Jan. 2020)

January 20, 2020

AWPA update
Summary of events in West Papua (Dec. 16 Dec. – 20 Jan. 2020)
A snapshot of events
Jakarta Six trial postponed after defendants insists on wearing penis gourds CNN Indonesia – January 13, 2020
Jakarta – The panel of judges at the Central Jakarta District Court has postponed a hearing scheduled to hear a rebottle by the prosecution against a demurrer by the lawyers representing Surya Anta and five other Papua activists indicted on charges of treason and criminal conspiracy. The postponement was made because two of the defendants, namely Ambrosius Mulait and Dano Tabuni, insisted on wearing a koteka (penis gourd) during the hearing. At the previous hearing last week, the judges appealed to the two defendants not to wear a koteka at the next hearing. Before deciding to postpone the hearing, there were negotiations between the panel of judges, the public prosecutor and the team of lawyers representing the defendants.

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West Papua Human Rights Update January 2020

January 16, 2020

We are sending you a compilation of reported human rights violations and conflict violence in West Papua between October and December 2019. The detailed 8-page Quarterly Report is attached.

The last quarter of 2019 was dominated by the aftermath of the Papua-wide anti-racism riots that took place throughout August and September 2019 and the exacerbation of the armed conflict in the central highlands. The trials in relation to the anti-racism riots and the subsequent political prosecutions during the previous quarter have been launched. Some lawyers attempted to raise criminal procedure violations in pre-trial hearings – none of the pre-trial hearings were successful. The sstatistics clearly reflect the continuing prosecution of political activists, as Government authorities keep on restricting civil society space for peaceful protest, freedom of assembly, media freedom and freedom of expression in West Papua. While the number of arrests have significantly decreased compared to the third quarter, the figure is still considerably high and the main reason is that the 1st December, which many indigenous Papuans regard as the ‘Papuan Independence Day’, was marked by a high number of political arrests and treason charges against indigenous Papuans participating in the commemoration.

The Government deployed additional security forces in the central highlands and launched two operations against the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) in the regencies of Lanny Jaya and Intan Jaya in December 2019. Representatives of the police and the Indonesian military (TNI) argue that the security force presence should guarantee safety and order in these regencies. Observations by human rights defenders and local media indicate the opposite. Shortly after the security force deployments, armed clashes occurred in the regencies. They resulted in the displacement of indigenous peoples in the areas. The number of indigenous internally displaced persons (IDPs) is currently not known. In Lanny Jaya, the security force raids allegedly caused the deaths of two Papuan men while seven houses were set on fire. The raid in Intan Jaya reportedly proceeded without civilian fatalities. Human rights defenders report that the ongoing military operation in Nduga has cost the lives of 238 indigenous civilians between 4 December 2018 and 31 December 2019 – they were killed or displaced and died due to sickness, malnuttrition, hypothermia or exhaustion. All cases of extra-judicial killings throughout the reporting period except one occurred in the context of the armed conflict.

Full report attached.

You may also want to have a look at this: What UN mechanisms observe and recommend regarding human rights in West Papua.

Best regards,
Norman Voss

Human Rights Update West Papua January 2020_compressed.pdf

Human Rights Watch Indonesia: Backsliding on Rights report

January 15, 2020

Human Rights Watch

Indonesia: Backsliding on Rights

Abusive Laws Proposed, Minorities Face Persistent Harassment

January 14, 2020 2:50PM EST

(Jakarta) – Indonesia faced serious threats to human rights in 2019 stemming from proposed laws restricting basic freedoms and deteriorating protections for marginalized groups, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2020.

In April, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo won re-election in a presidential campaign that paid little attention to rights issues. In October, he appointed his opponent, Prabowo Subianto Djojohadikusumo, as defense minister, despite Prabowo’s involvement in massacres in East Timor and other grave abuses over many years. “Indonesia had been the good news story in Southeast Asia, but in the past year the human rights situation took a turn for the worse,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Problematic new laws nearly passed, abusive old ones continue to be enforced, and minorities didn’t get the legal protection they need.” In the 652-page World Report 2020, its 30th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the Chinese government, which depends on repression to stay in power, is carrying out the most intense attack on the global human rights system in decades. He finds that Beijing’s actions both encourage and gain support from autocratic populists around the globe, while Chinese authorities use their economic clout to deter criticism from other governments. It is urgent to resist this assault, which threatens decades of progress on human rights and our future.

The parliament nearly passed a new criminal code that contains provisions that would violate freedom of speech and association, as well as the rights of women, religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In September, parliament passed a bill weakening Indonesia’s anti-corruption commission, making it harder to curtail political corruption. During his state-of-the-union address, President Jokowi reiterated his support for Indonesia’s state ideology, Pancasila – a compromise made during the declaration of Indonesia’s independence in 1945 to avoid the idea of setting up an Islamic state – saying: “We will not compromise with members of the state apparatus who reject Pancasila.” While meant to prevent discrimination against non-Muslim minorities in Indonesia, Pancasila has not prevented the government from enforcing laws and regulations that discriminate against non-Muslims. Among those are the 1965 blasphemy law, nearly always used against religious minorities, and the 2006 “religious harmony” regulation, which gives veto power on religious affairs to each area’s religious majority. In 2019, Indonesian courts sentenced at least three non-Muslim women to prison for blasphemy. The Jokowi government proposed expanding the blasphemy law from one to six articles in the draft criminal code. Local authorities did little to stop Islamist militants from harassing non-Muslim, non-Sunni minorities. And LGBT people faced increasing violence, intimidation, and abusive police raids.

In August, racist taunts against Papuan students in Surabaya, Java, triggered larger demonstrations in Papua and West Papua provinces. At least 53 people, both Papuans and migrants from other parts of Indonesia, were killed in the ensuing clashes. Indonesian authorities shut down the internet in those areas. Police arrested hundreds of Papuans and have charged at least 42 people with treason, which carries a prison term of up to 20 years. The Papua violence and the rushed criminal code amendments triggered the biggest nationwide protests in two decades, prompting Jokowi to delay parliamentary voting on the draft criminal code and three other bills until 2020. The government failed to set dates for the United Nations high commissioner for human rights to visit Papua and West Papua, despite Jokowi’s 2018 invitation to the commissioner. “President Jokowi’s re-election could provide new opportunities to protect the human rights and freedoms of all Indonesians,” Adams said. “Unless the backsliding stops, Indonesia may face much bigger social and political crises.”

Police strengthen forces in five newly formed police precincts in restive Papua

January 13, 2020

Police strengthen forces in five newly formed police precincts in restive Papua
News Desk The Jakarta Post

Members of the Indonesian Mobile Brigade head to Nduga, where 31 construction workers were believed to have been shot dead, from Wamena on Dec. 4, 2018. (AFP/Anyong)

Jakarta / Mon, January 13, 2020 / 04:53 pm

The police are reinforcing five newly formed regional police units in five regencies of the restive Papua province, which has been rocked by unrest over the past few months.

Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw said that officials were ready to be placed at five new police precincts in Puncak, Intan Jaya, Deiyai, Yalimo and Nduga, and that their respective chiefs had been inaugurated in the capital, Jayapura.

“We are transferring personnel to the new police precincts, [however] we are not yet able to assign all of them at once, most likely only about 30 percent of them now. That is good enough,” Paulus said as quoted by Antara on Monday.

The five regencies have seen outbreaks of violence, sometimes involving armed assailants.

In Nduga on Saturday, an officer of the police’s Mobile Brigade was shot in the thigh by a person the police claimed was member of an armed criminal group (KKB) operating in the area.

Paulus said that following the incident, the situation had returned to relative normalcy.

“Indeed, one of our officers was shot on his left thigh while chasing KKB members who carried out attacks around the Kenyam Airport complex on Saturday. But overall, it has been relatively under control,” Paulus said.

Clashes and fatal shootouts between security personnel and armed assailants have also been reported in the other regencies. Two military officers and a policeman were killed in Intan Jaya in December while on security duty as the district prepared for Christmas celebrations.

Paulus hoped that the presence of the five new police precincts would strengthen communication and guidance and would help local communities in the areas.

“I advise the people in the five areas to accept and build harmonious communication with our personnel who will be serving in these areas,” he said.

Paulus said the police would gradually establish a headquarters for the five new precincts and would continue to equip personnel so that their duties at the district level would run optimally.

In the meantime, the police would ask the local administrations to lend building and housing facilities to be used as temporary dormitories and barracks by police personnel serving in the areas, he said. (syk)

Constitutional Court rejects legal challenge against 1969 Act of Free Choice

January 8, 2020

CNN Indonesia – January 6, 2020

Jakarta — The Constitutional Court (MK) has rejected a judicial review of Law Number 12/1969 on the Formation of the West Irian (Papua) Autonomous Province and Autonomous Regencies in the Province of West Irian which was submitted based on the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia.

"We hereby pronounce and declare that the appeal by the applicants cannot be accepted", said the presiding judge in reading out the ruling at the Constitutional Court in Jakarta on Monday January 6.

The challenge was submitted by the Papuan People’s Advocacy Coalition for Truth and Justice on April 12 last year. The appeal was registered as Number 35/PUU-XVII/2019.

The object of the judicial review was Law Number 12/1969, specifically the considerations section along with Paragraphs 7 and 8 of the elucidation.

In the object being tested, namely the first section of the elucidation, it states that the majority of Papuan people with full awareness and feelings of unity elected to become part of Indonesia through the 1969 People’s Referendum (Pepera, the 1969 UN sponsored referendum on West Papua’s integration with Indonesia known as the Act of Free Choice).

The Coalition however felt that the implementation of the Pepera was ridden with human rights violations. The Papuan people also did not make their choice independently but rather, were coerced by rouge individuals to decide to become part of Indonesia. This conflicts with Article 28E Paragraph (2) and Article 28G Paragraph (1) and Article 28I Paragraph (1) of the 1945 Constitution.

Because of this therefore, they felt that the Pepera was invalid and should not have been used as a basis for the formation of Papua province as mandated under Law Number 12/1969. Thus the formation of Papua province based on Law Number 12/1969 was invalid.

Despite this, in handing down their decision on the appeal the Constitutional Court panel of judges took a different view.

Constitutional Court Justice I Dewa Gede Palguna said that the Constitutional Court does not have the authority to assess the validity of the results of the 1969 Pepera. This is because the Pepera was endorsed by United Nations General Assembly Resolution Number 2504 (XXIV) dated November 19, 1969.

"Arguing constitutional damages arising out of the stipulations of Law Number 12/1960 means the same as ‘forcing’ the Court to assess the validity of the UN’s actions", said Palguna.

In their ruling, the court also explained that the applicants did not have the right to submit a judicial review bearing in mind that Law Number 12/1969 is part of a policy on the formation of regions so only regional government have the legal standing to submit such an appeal.

"Bearing in mind that because the appeal is not related to constitutional issues and the applicants do not have the legal standing to submit a judicial review, a quo (from which) the Court cannot give any further consideration to the basic appeal of the applicants", said Palguna. (tst/bmw)


Known as the "Act of Free Choice", in 1969 a referendum was held to decide whether West Papua, a former Dutch colony annexed by Indonesia in 1963, would be become independent or join Indonesia. The UN sanction plebiscite, in which 1,025 hand-picked tribal leaders allegedly expressed their desire for integration, has been widely dismissed as a sham. Critics claim that that the selected voters were coerced, threatened and closely scrutinized by the military to unanimously vote for integration.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "MK Tolak Gugatan Keabsahan UU Pembentukan Papua".]


Indonesia and Australia at a ‘strategic turning point’ as relationship reaches 70-year milestone

January 5, 2020

Indonesia and Australia at a ‘strategic turning point’ as relationship reaches 70-year milestone

By Tasha Wibawa

Updated about 5 hours ago

Dalam Bahasa Indonesia

Indonesia is often presented as one of Australia’s most important neighbours and strategic allies, with formal diplomatic relations between the two nations marking a 70-year milestone last month.

Key points:

West Papua continues to be a contentious issue between the two nations An announcement to move the Australian embassy to Jerusalem strained ties A landmark free-trade agreement was signed in 2019 but needs to be ratified in Indonesia "Not just close neighbours ­ but great friends," Scott Morrison said during his first international visit as Prime Minister in 2018.

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Twitter: @ScottMorrisonMP Not just close neighbours – but great friends. Thanks for the warm welcome @jokowi
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Gary Quinlan, Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia, recently told Jakarta’s Foreign Correspondents Club the deep ties between the nations dated back to 1945, when Australia became the "strongest supporter" of Indonesian independence and was the first country to send a diplomatic mission to establish the basis for recognition of the Republic.

"No country in South-East Asia is more important to Australia than Indonesia," Mr Quinlan told the forum.

"And only a handful of countries globally match that importance."

Indonesia’s first president Sukarno also chose Australia to represent his nation in the United Nations negotiations in the lead-up to its independence on December 27 1949.

However, the differences between their histories, cultures and economies almost ensures their relationship will be "fraught with the dangers of misunderstandings", according to former Australian prime minister Paul Keating.

Indeed, the relationship has undergone various ups and downs due to disagreements around key issues ­ like capital punishment in the case of the Bali Nine or people smuggling ­ and veered onto different paths or been derailed altogether as a result.

Here’s a look at the key issues and moments that have strengthened and shaken the relationship in recent times and where it might be heading in the years to come.

Elections, spills and the contradictions in between

The Indonesian national flag and Australian national flag PHOTO: Indonesia and Australia’s relationship has had various ups and downs due to disagreements around key issues. (Supplied: Australia Indonesia Centre)

To signal the importance of Indonesia in Australia’s foreign policy, in August 2018 Australia’s new leader Scott Morrison followed in the steps of his predecessors by immediately travelling to Indonesia for his first overseas trip.

"By making my first overseas visit as Prime Minister to Indonesia, I want to make a clear statement about the importance of our relationship," Mr Morrison said.
Scott Morrison responds to questions in the Prime Minister's co PHOTO: Mr Morrison travelled to Indonesia just weeks after becoming Prime Minister. (ABC News: Jed Cooper)

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had formed a strong relationship with Indonesian President Joko Widodo over the years, and his ousting from Australian politics caused concern that a landmark free-trade agreement nine years in the making could be jeopardised.

"Australia and Indonesia share geography, deep historical ties, a vibrant contemporary relationship and a vision of a peaceful and prosperous region," Mr Morrison said.

"Our close collaboration across economic, security and strategic domains makes both countries stronger, safer and more prosperous."

But just weeks after returning to Canberra, Mr Morrison proposed moving the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following on the heels of US President Donald Trump. Those moves sparked outrage in a number of Muslim-majority nations, especially Indonesia.

Indonesia does not have formal diplomatic ties with Israel, and just months before Mr Morrison’s announcement, both Israel and Indonesia temporarily banned their respective citizens from visiting the other country, a move believed to be related to clashes over Mr Trump’s embassy move.

The move by Mr Morrison immediately placed a strain on the relationship and forced the temporary closure of Australian embassies in Indonesia due to protests ­ it also became a hot campaign topic in both Indonesia and Australia ahead of national elections in April and May 2019 respectively.

"[Joko Widodo] expressed to me, as he has done to Prime Minister Morrison, the very serious concern held in Indonesia about the prospect of the Australian embassy in Israel being moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Mr Turnbull said at the time.

"There is no question were that move to occur it would be met with a very negative reaction in Indonesia.

"This is, after all, the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. We have to be very clear-eyed about that, and we have to take into account Australia’s national interests, and our interests in the region, when we consider a decision like this."

Visiting Israel as an Indonesian

Visiting Israel as an Indonesian
Jerusalem is one of the holiest and most contentious places in the world and ­ among visas, checkpoints and tips from local guides ­ getting there as an Indonesian Muslim from Australia was no easy feat. This is my story.

Mr Morrison later shelved the embassy move plan, and in March 2019 the agreement was quietly signed ­ but its ratification would be put on hold as the two nations went to the polls.
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Twitter: Warmest congratulations Jokowi on your re-election
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The Indonesian elections were particularly fraught, with foreign policy counterparts in Australia anxiously waiting to see whether Mr Widodo would be voted in for a second term, or if General Prabowo Subianto, who was highly critical of Mr Morrison’s suggested embassy move, would sweep to power.

Mr Widodo, who enlisted a hardline Muslim cleric to be his Vice-President, ultimately won with 55 per cent of the vote.

His re-election was met with quiet relief in Canberra as it meant a continuation of foreign policy plans, in contrast to Mr Prabowo’s campaign of being openly hostile to trade.

"The respective election outcomes mean both governments that need to ratify the deal are the ones that negotiated it and the deal is much more likely to enter into force quickly," Heath Baker, acting CEO of Export Council of Australia, said.

Free trade not a panacea for strained relations

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VIDEO: Is Australia prepared for a wealthy and powerful Indonesia? (ABC News)

Indonesia is the world’s 16th largest economy, but trade between Australia and Indonesia lags and neither country is in the other’s top 10 trading partners.

While geographic proximity does not always equate to closer economic relations, the signing of the free trade agreement in March 2019 signalled a step forward ­ however, Mr Morrison and Mr Widodo were both absent from the ceremony.

Heads of state are generally not required to attend the signing of trade agreements, but the absence stood in stark contrast to the fanfare of the bilateral trade deals between Australia and South Korea, China and Japan.

Is Australia prepared for a powerful Indonesia?

Is Australia prepared for a powerful Indonesia?
If its economy continues to grow at its current rate, Indonesia will become one of the most powerful nations in the world in coming decades.

"There is plenty of room to deepen our trade and investment ties as the two countries with the largest economies in the region," Foreign Minister Marise Payne said at the time in attempt to quell concerns.

Nonetheless, it was ratified in Australia in December 2019, however in Indonesia, it is still awaiting parliamentary approval despite expectations it would be ratified before 2020.

Dubbed the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the trade deal would reduce tariffs on nearly all import goods and relax foreign ownership laws in Indonesia. It would also establish education institutions and include an increase in work visas for Indonesians coming to Australia.

Farmers’ high hopes for free trade

Farmers' high hopes for free trade
Australian farmers have long wanted expanded Asian market access.

Australian farmers have long wanted expanded access to the Asian market, especially as Australia and China’s relationship has become strained in recent months. But they have no illusions about a trade agreement being a fix-all solution to the relationship.

"It’s not just a point of establishing the market, but it’s about what happens afterwards," National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson said.

"It is about relationships, it is about networks, it is about putting our key people in there."

Meanwhile, former Australian shadow minister for trade and investment Jason Clare said trade with Indonesia was "massively underdone".

"Australia and Indonesia are like neighbours who barely look over the fence," he said.

"We don’t talk with each other, or work with each other anywhere near enough as we should.

"If this agreement can help to change that, can increase trade … then that’s a good thing."

West Papua, Timor-Leste and a history of regional distrust

A black and white map with West Papua and Papua highlighted in PHOTO: The Indonesian provinces of West Papua and Papua, are often referred to collectively as West Papua. (ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser)

In 1995, an Australian parliamentary paper noted that a pivotal security agreement between the two nations demonstrated Australia’s progress in "developing one of [our] most important but most difficult bilateral relationships".

"[It] is not simply about external threats, it is about the whole environment of the region ­ it is about the foreign policy and trade policies of the countries," former prime minister Paul Keating said while championing Indonesia as a key area of foreign policy.

"Australia and Indonesia have a coincidence of views and interests in the strategic outlook of the region."

But with Mr Keating’s election defeat just months later, followed by the Asian financial crisis, the overthrow of former Indonesian president General Suharto, the Timor-Leste crisis, and a shifted focus on China’s growing influence, the relationship was destined to stay on shaky ground.

For example, Australia’s controversial involvement in the 1999 Timor-Leste crisis has remained a marker of distrust between Indonesia and Australia, and subsequent issues surrounding West Papuan independence are no different, according to Australian academic Richard Chauvel.

In August, this year thousands of protesters took to the streets and burnt down government buildings during deadly clashes across Indonesia’s provinces of Papua and West Papua.
A man raises his rifles as a local market is seen burning in th PHOTO: Deadly clashes erupted in the Indonesian region of West Papua last year. (AP: Beawiharta, file)

Jakarta remains firm in its stance that the region has been part of a unified Indonesia since a United Nations-backed referendum, and that any unrest is a domestic issue.

Despite parallels being drawn between the Papuan demands for independence and the Timor-Leste conflict, Australia has remained notably silent on the former, with Ms Payne simply telling reporters that all sides of the conflict should exercise "absolute restraint".

‘Treated like animals’ in West Papua

Why thousands of Papuans have taken to the streets, torching government buildings and violently clashing with police.

Australia’s reserved stance can be traced back to the Lombok Treaty signed in 2006, a year after 43 West Papuans arrived in Australia seeking asylum and were granted protection visas.

The agreement stipulated that both nations will not interfere in internal affairs, as well as respect each other’s sovereignty and not support "separatist" actions.

In recent years, many Indonesians have been angered by Australian media’s coverage of West Papua, calling much of the reporting "one-sided", especially for providing a platform for human rights lawyer Veronica Koman, who was charged in Indonesia for being a "provocateur".

A decision by a Sydney local council to raise the West Papuan Morning Star flag last year also caused controversy with the Indonesian Consulate-General in Sydney, who said the move could be "misrepresented to represent support from the Australian Government".

Resilience of the relationship to be tested ‘in new era’

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VIDEO: Widespread anti-government protests broke out in Indonesia in 1998 that led to the fall of President Suharto. (ABC News)

In a speech late last year, Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia Gary Quinlan maintained that despite the differences over the years Indonesia and Australia have maintained good relations in many areas.

"We are the closest partners on counter-terrorism and are very strong on law enforcement, defence, maritime cooperation, border management, transport, aviation, agriculture and education," he said.

"All the things that close neighbours need to do, we are doing with each other".

But Mr Quinlan said both countries "are [now] at a strategic turning point in [their] relations."

"The resilience of both countries is being challenged and each of us has made a very deliberate choice to embrace the other more closely in this new era," he said.

"We no longer spend much time talking to each other about ourselves ­ our bilateral challenges ­ but are increasingly talking to each other about everyone else and what we can do together to create a more resilient region.

"To do that, of course, our own relationship itself must be resilient."

The Australian Embassy in Jakarta remains the nation’s largest overseas diplomatic mission, costing close to half a billion dollars to build and employing more than 500 staff, including 150 Australian diplomats.

Despite Indonesia’s historic importance to Australia, a recent Lowy Institute survey found the Australian public has a lack of knowledge of the country’s largest neighbour.

The same poll also found only 1 per cent of Australians view Indonesia as "Australia’s best friend in the world".

Australia Calling

A look at 80 years of ABC international broadcasting and Radio Australia.

Managing the relationship may not have been easy for both nations, but common interests in trade, investment and regional security have helped maintain strong ties.

Mr Quinlan says while the two nations are likely to continue to have hiccups in relations, bilateral agreements are currently strong and moving in the right direction.

Kristiarto Legowo, Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia, also reiterated the importance of the relationship during 70-year celebrations between the nations at the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra last September.

"Indonesia and Australia choose to be friends with each other, and it is a friend in need and friend indeed … friendship in [a] two-way street, not a one-way road," Mr Legowo said.

Mr Legowo also underlined the importance of Indonesia and Australia’s joint efforts to face the challenges ahead by quoting an Indonesian proverb, "Berat sama dipikul, ringan sama dijinjing", or in English, "Many hands make the workload lighter."

Read the story in Bahasa Indonesian here.

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Ending Violence in Papua

January 2, 2020

Ending Violence in Papua
1 January 2020 17:00 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – THE government should prioritize dialog instead of using a security approach in seeking solution to the Papuan problem. Deployment of soldiers and police in the past year has proven ineffective. Security apparatus have not been able to quell armed groups from disrupting the peace. Meanwhile, the number of civilian victims continues to climb.

The case of the death of Hendrik Lokbere shows just how appalling the situation is in Papua. The adjutant of the Vice Regent of Nduga, Wentius Nimiangge, died of mysterious gunshots on Friday night, December 20. Three days later, Wentius announced his resignation from his post. The incident should be a harsh slap in the face to central government for failing to guarantee safety in the regency.

The government had deployed personnel from the Indonesian National Army and the Indonesian Police to Nduga since last year to hunt down armed criminal groups. Prior, the group calling itself the West Papua National Liberation Army had attacked workers from PT Istaka Karya, the contractor company building the bridge in the Yigi District. Scores of workers died as a result of the attack.

A number of perpetrators from the incident have been apprehended and are being legally processed. Yet, the security situation in Nduga Regency still did not calm down. And it’s not only Nduga, Other regencies, such as Intan Jaya, are in the disruption. In mid-December, two soldiers from the National Army in Hitadipa District died from attacks by an armed group. Two months prior, three motorcycle taxi drivers also died from gunshots by the same group.

Officials from central government should not exacerbate the situation by making arbitrary statements that could cause more distress to the Papuan community. Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law, and Security Mahfud Md., for instance, stated that a security approach has become even more imperative to dress down the separatist movement in Papua.

This mule-headed stance of central government is incongruous considering how the security operation has obviously been a dismal failure and has in fact disrupted civilian life. In Nduga alone, 45 thousand residents have relocated since last year. The Papuan People’s Assembly revealed another 4,000 people relocated to Jayawijaya, Lanny Jaya, and Asmat. The local government’s humanitarian team claimed that 182 of the displaced died, while the Ministry of Social Affairs announced 53 had died. Data discrepancy shows up even more how the local government is not functioning as it should.

The government should change strategies to put a lid on the Papuan issue. This can be begun by solving several core issues which so far have been ignored, including violation of human rights, discrimination, and racism. Amnesty International Indonesia noted 69 cases of suspected murders outside the law by security forces in Papua between 2010- 2018, with 95 victims. Of these victims, 85 were indigenous Papuans.

Without an effort to put the lid on the cases from the past and to comprehend the wishes of the Papuan people, the government will continue to repeat its same mistakes. The security approach will only open new wounds for the Papuan people. The government would do better to try the dialog route &mdash; a proven method for success in the solution of the Aceh problem. If the government is absolutely serious and sincere, inevitably peace will surely come about.

Read the Complete Story in this Week’s Edition of Tempo English Magazine

2) The Road: Uprising in West Papua John Martinkus

Release date: 16 Mar 2020

RRP: $24.99

Chemical weapons deployed. Choppers taken out. Communications repressed. Tens of thousands of people displaced. The West Papuan independence movement has reignited, and Indonesian troops are cracking down.

In The Road, John Martinkus gives a gripping, up-to-date account of the province’s descent into armed conflict and suppression. Replete with vivid detail and new information, this revelatory work of journalism shows how and why a highlands road led to an uprising, and where this might all lead.