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ICG Media Release: Dynamics of Violence in Papua

August 17, 2012

ICG Media Release: Dynamics of Violence in Papua

August 9, 2012

International Crisis Group
Asia Report N°232
9 August 2012

Joyo Note: for the full report, go to:


A spate of violence in Papua in May and June 2012 exposed the lack of a
coherent government strategy to address this multidimensional conflict.
Shootings of non-Papuans in the provincial capital Jayapura in June, likely
involving pro-independence militants, were followed by the death of one of
those militants at police hands, highlighting the political dimension of
the problem. In Wamena, a rampage by soldiers after the death of a comrade
shows the depth of distrust between local communities and the army, and the
absence of mechanisms to deal with crises. The shooting of five Papuans by
newly arrived members of a paramilitary police unit (Brigade Mobile,
Brimob) in a remote gold-mining area of Paniai highlights the violence
linked to Papua’s vast resource wealth and rent-seeking by the security
apparatus with little oversight from Jakarta. While these events are still
under investigation, they signal that unless the Yudhoyono government can
address these very different aspects of the conflict, things may get worse.
An overhaul of security policy would help.

Two factors are driving much of the violence: a wide range of Papuan
grievances toward the Indonesian state and a security policy that seems to
run directly counter to the government’s professed desire to build trust,
accelerate development and ensure that a 2001 special autonomy law for
Papua yields concrete benefits. To date the law has failed to produce
either improvement in the lives of most Papuans or better relations with
the central government. Its substance has been frequently undercut by
Jakarta, although provincial lawmakers also bear responsibility for failing
to enact key implementing regulations. One of the last measures to prompt
accusations in Papua of Jakarta’s bad faith was the 2011 division into two
of the Papuan People’s Council (Majelis Rakyat Papua, MRP), an institution
set up under the law to safeguard Papuan values and culture that was
supposed to be a single body, covering all of Papua. In many ways the MRP
was the keystone of special autonomy but it has been plagued by problems
since its much-delayed establishment; the division, with Jakarta’s active
endorsement, has further reduced its effectiveness.

These problems would be hard enough to manage if Papua had functioning
political institutions, but it does not. An ineffectual caretaker governor
appointed in July 2011 has left the Papuan provincial government in limbo.
Meanwhile, the organisation of a new election has been stymied by a
provincial legislature that has focused most of its energy on blocking the
former governor from running and vying in national courts with the local
election commission for control over parts of the electoral process. The
picture is just as grim at district level. This leaves the central
government without an engaged partner in Papua, and Papuans without a
formal channel for conveying concerns to Jakarta.

The role of a new policy unit – the Unit for Accelerated Development in
Papua and West Papua, known by its Indonesian abbreviation of UP4B –
established in September 2011, increasingly appears limited to economic
affairs, where it will struggle to show visible progress in the short term.
Hopes that it might play a behind-the-scenes political role in fostering
dialogue on Papuan grievances are fading, as it becomes increasingly clear
that dialogue means different things to different people. Efforts to hammer
out some consensus on terms and objectives have been set back by the
violence, as the government is reluctant to take any steps that might be
perceived as making concessions under pressure.

The challenge for the government is to find a short-term strategy that can
reduce violence while continuing to work out a policy that will bring
long-term social, economic and political benefits and address longstanding
grievances. That strategy must involve clear and visible changes in the
administration, control and accountability of both the police and military.
The security apparatus is not the only problem, nor are police and soldiers
always the perpetrators of violence; many have been victims as well. But
they have come to symbolise everything that has gone wrong with Jakarta’s
handling of the Papuan conflict. It therefore follows that a change in
security policy is the best hope for a “quick win” that can transform the
political dynamics and halt the slide toward further violence.


To the Government of Indonesia:

1. Develop a more integrated policymaking mechanism on Papua at the
national and provincial levels to ensure that:

a) programs designed to deliver concrete benefits to Papuans and build
trust are not inadvertently undercut by decisions or actions taken in home
affairs or by intelligence and security agencies;

b) a more unified security reporting mechanism is created under the Papuan
regional police commander to ensure that elements of the military and
intelligence apparatus do not undertake operations that report only to
Jakarta and are not coordinated with other relevant authorities in Papua.

c) strict oversight of programs is not restricted to the development sphere
but encompasses security policy, including examination of income-generating
programs of the security forces; and

d) Papuan perspectives are included, either by participation of elected
governors or the head of the MRP.

To the Indonesian National Police:

2. Improve dissemination of and training in Police Regulation N°8/2009 on
Implementation of Human Rights Standards and Principles in Carrying Out
Police Tasks, with particular attention to:

a) Article 10(e) prohibiting any form of torture and inhumane or
humiliating treatment, even in the face of an order from a superior or
extraordinary circumstances;

b) Article 10(f) guaranteeing the health of those in custody and providing
medical care as needed;

c) Article 10(g) prohibiting corruption and abuse of authority;

d) Article 17 on procedures for arrest;

e) Article 40 prohibiting police from acting in a way that generates
antipathy in the community, including by asking for unauthorised fees and
covering up mistakes;

f) Articles 42-44 on protecting human rights in a situation of mass unrest;

g) Articles 45-49 on use of firearms, particularly the provision that
non-violent methods should always be used first and firearms should only be
used in a way that is proportional to the threat faced.

3. Review policy on use of live ammunition with a view to restricting its
use to specific situations and ensuring an adequate supply of non-lethal
equipment for handling civil unrest.

4. Ensure that police are fully equipped with protective body equipment
when assigned to insecure areas or when facing civil unrest so as to reduce
the incentive to shoot first.

5. Reassess training needs, to ensure that anyone posted to a particular
kabupaten (district) in Papua receives a thorough and detailed briefing
from those who have served in the area about local conditions, conflict
dynamics and relations with local government and community leaders, and
that anyone finishing a tour of duty undergoes an equally thorough
debriefing so that knowl­edge and lessons learned can be institutionalised.

6. Redesign allowances and incentive structures so that police are rewarded
rather than penalised for taking posts in isolated and difficult areas and
encouraged to build stronger links with local communities.

To the Indonesian National Army and the Indonesian National Police:

7. Make a clear commitment to ending impunity for inappropriate use of
force and torture and to enforcing more credible sanctions against
individuals responsible for such behaviour in a visible and public manner
so that Papuans can see that justice is being done.

8. Ensure in particular that there is a policy – rigorously implemented –
of zero tolerance that begins in police and military academies for kicking,
beating with any instrument including rifle butts or other forms of
physical violence in the course of detention, interrogation or on-the-spot
punishment for alleged offences.

9. Make clear that “emotion” can never be used to justify excessive use of
force, especially in reacting to attacks by Papuan groups.

10. Provide more systematic oversight and scrutiny of income and
expenditures in district and sub-district-level commands, particularly in
those close to mining sites, with a view to ending illegal levies on the
trans­port of goods and services.

To the Unit for Accelerated Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B):

11. Work with the provincial and district-level governments in Papua as
well as ministries at national level to identify gaps in implementation of
special autonomy legislation and develop strategies for addressing them.

To the National Elections Commission (KPU):

12. In light of the Constitutional Court’s upholding of the practice of
voting by acclamation (using the noken system), work with the
provincial-level elections commission (KPUD Papua) to develop clear
guidelines that will ensure tabulating these votes includes at least
minimum standards against electoral fraud and conduct increased voter
education efforts accordingly.

To Papuan Provincial Legislators and the Elected Governor (when one is in

13. Give top priority to enacting the some two dozen regulations necessary
to ensure that special autonomy is fully implemented.

ICG Media Release:

Indonesia: Dynamics of Violence in Papua

The only measure likely to halt violence in Indonesia’s Papua province in
the short term is a major overhaul of security policy.

Indonesia: Dynamics of Violence in Papua, the latest report from the
International Crisis Group, examines multiple sources of conflict in Papua,
following fifteen violent incidents in the provincial capital Jayapura in
May and June and others in the central highlands.

“Everything suggests that there is going to be more trouble in Papua unless
the government can produce a policy that will have an immediate and visible
impact on how ordinary Papuans are treated”, says Cillian Nolan, Crisis
Group’s South East Asia Senior Analyst. “Changing how security forces are
trained, redesigning incentive structures, penalising excessive use of
force, improving accountability and tightening auditing procedures could
make a major difference”.

Recent violence has exposed the lack of a coherent government strategy to
address the many dimensions of conflict in Papua. Too often
well-intentioned programs designed to build trust or produce concrete
benefits are undercut by security initiatives to combat separatism or
rent-seeking by police or soldiers in resource-rich areas.

The problem is exacerbated by the lack of functioning political
institutions. An ineffectual caretaker governor appointed in July 2011 has
left the provincial government in limbo, with elections repeatedly
postponed as Papuan politicians challenge each other in court. Local
government at the sub-provincial level is often even more dysfunctional.

Hopes are fading that a new coordination unit for Papua established in late
2011 – the Unit for Accelerated Development in Papua and West Papua, known
by its Indonesian abbreviation UP4B – will be able to make much difference
in the short term. The idea of a dialogue on Papua, which seemed to be
gaining traction in Jakarta earlier in the year, seems to have foundered as
it becomes clear that Papuan groups and Jakarta-based officials have very
different interpretations of what the word “dialogue” means. All of this
means that the so-called “new deal” for Papua that the government of
President Yudhoyono announced in 2007 is a long way from realisation. “In
stressing the need for a change in security policy, Crisis Group is not
suggesting that police and soldiers are the only source of violence; many,
indeed, have been victims”, says Jim Della-Giacoma, Crisis Group’s South
East Asia Project Director. “But if the aim is to improve the political
dynamics, the security sector may offer more hope for ‘quick wins’ than
economic development projects”.

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