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November West Papua Report: TNI embeds, fires and smoke, transmigration, Freeport, Melanesian gambit, more

November 17, 2015

West Papua Report
November 2015


This edition’s Perspective discusses the implications for West Papua for the Indonesian military’s continuing effort to re-involve itself in civilian affairs.

Update summarizes the grave problems of toxic smoke from massive fires set by palm oil plantation developers and others across the Indonesian archipelago. For the first time, fires are taking place on a large scale in West Papua. Transmigration continues to undermine West Papuans. The lack of Papuan involvement in the controversial plan to extend Freeport’s mining concession in West Papua is raising concerns. The Indonesian government’s Melanesian gambit meets resistance.

Chronicle announces two important new reports and calls attention to the special problems posed by military repression for Papuan women, We link to Democracy Now! coverage by of President Widodo’s visit to the U.S. The Indonesian Press Council defends press freedom in West Papua. Maire Leadbetter sees hope for West Papua.

Indonesian Military "Re-Enters the Village:" Implications for West Papua
by Ed McWilliams and John M. Miller

The Indonesian military, the TNI, could soon see its power greatly expanded by a Presidential decree now awaiting President Joko Widodo’s signature. The decree would empower the TNI to assume the broad powers in the civilian sphere similar to those it exercised throughout the Suharto dictatorship. The plan was first presented publicly in December 2014 by Defense Minister Ryamizard. Many are concerned that the TNI is returning to pre-1998 reforms and the Suharto era concept of "ABRI Masuk Desa" (the military enters the village) see, West Papua Report for December 2014 . Under this concept, the military can spy on opposition elements and build political support for the regime down to village level.

The plan is part of a series of initiatives to expand TNI involvement in domestic affairs, including the signing of Memorandum of Understandings, and plans to enlist up to 100 million reservists (see below) and expand paramilitaries in border areas..

The plan would formally ending the ruse that the military is subordinate to a civilian defense minister. The draft decree would place the military directly under the President and raise the TNI to ministerial status. This change would formalize the removal of the defense minister from the chain of command and is a defeat for reformers who have struggled for years to make the military accountable to civilian authority.

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