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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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