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Indonesia president supports plan to scale back troops in restive Papua

December 19, 2022

2 minute readDecember 19, 20226:42 PM GMT+11Last Updated 11 hours ago

Indonesia president supports plan to scale back troops in restive Papua

JAKARTA, Dec 19 (Reuters) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Monday he supports plans to scale back the presence of troops in the eastern region of Papua, where the country’s military has been accused of human rights abuses in tackling a long-running independence movement.

Jokowi, as the president is known, said "the reduction of military troops in Papua is good, but we need to continue to be stern," after appointing a new chief of armed forces.

Otherwise, he said, armed rebel groups will always continue to operate there and "the problem will never end".

It was unclear when and by how much the military presence in Papua would be scaled back.

Indonesia’s easternmost region of Papua has seen a long-simmering separatist movement, which has intensified in recent years. The military maintains a heavy presence in the impoverished region, and has been accused by activist groups of human rights abuses, which it denies.

Former military chief Andika Perkasa had in 2021 advocated for a "humanistic approach" in Papua that emphasises communicating with rebel groups, according to state news agency Antara.

When asked whether troops in Papua would be reduced, newly-installed military chief, Yudo Margono, told reporters on Monday that he would go to Papua and evaluate the situation before making a decision but did not provide details.

Jakarta-based research group, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, said in a report this year that the frequency of insurgency-related violence in Papua had increased from an average of 11 incidents a year between 2010 to 2017 to 52 incidents a year from 2018-2021.

Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor

2) TNI’s humane approach welcomed yet stay firm in Papua: Jokowi
9 hours ago
Jakarta (ANTARA) – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) welcomed the new Indonesian National Defence Forces (TNI) Commander Admiral Yudo Margono’s plan to prioritize a humane approach in the Papua region.

Despite the commitment to accord priority to a humane approach, the president reminded Margono to remain firm against armed criminal groups disrupting security in the region.

"I think the humane approach is good. The reduction of TNI personnel in Papua is also good, but we must remain firm. If we fail to be firm, the armed criminal groups will continue their actions, and the issue will not be resolved," Jokowi stated after inaugurating Margono as the new TNI commander at the State Palace here, Monday.

Meanwhile, Margono said that the TNI would remain firm against violations threatening national sovereignty in Papua. He added that the military would emphasize territorial operations in Papua instead of engaging in military operations.

The new TNI commander said he, along with the TNI chiefs of staff, would visit Papua soon in order to evaluate conditions in Papua.

"(The visit) is to observe the actual conditions there (and to receive) inputs from personnel deployed in the region as well as from regional authorities and community and religious groups about what the military must do," Margono affirmed.

He added that a report on the action plan will be submitted to Jokowi after the conclusion of the visit.

President Jokowi earlier inaugurated Admiral Yudo Margono as the new TNI commander, succeeding General Andika Perkasa, who entered the mandatory retirement age of 58 this month.

Margono’s inauguration was conducted based on Presidential Decree of the Republic of Indonesia No. 91 TNI concerning the Dismissal and Appointment of the Commander of the Indonesian Defense Forces enacted on December 19, 2022.

The Admiral also promised to conduct his duties and uphold the ethics of his position as TNI commander.

Related news: New TNI chief should defend national territory, ideology: Minister
Related news: Admiral Margono must maintain public trust in TNI: Jokowi
Related news: Jokowi officially inaugurates Admiral Margono as TNI commander

Reporter: Indra Arief P, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Sri Haryati


3) Rights group says security forces unlawfully killed 72 people in past year
12:15 pm on 19 December 2022
A West Papua rights group claims Indonesian police and soldiers have carried out at least 72 extra-judicial killings over the past year.
The report by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence – or KontraS – said the police were responsible for 50 of the unlawful killings, with the remainder committed by military personnel.
The latest report situated the unlawful killings in the context of a "narrowing of democratic space" and "massive violations of rights related to the basic principles of democracy" by President Joko Widodo’s administration.
"The widespread practice of extrajudicial killings throughout 2022 by security personnel shows that they are like wolves in sheep’s clothing who are ready to pounce when there’s an opportunity," KontraS researcher Rozy Brilian told reporters, according to a report by BenarNews.
The article quoted Rozy as saying that most of those allegedly killed by police were under criminal investigations and at least 12 of the cases involved torture.
While six Indonesian soldiers were arrested recently for their involvement in the deaths of four Papuans in Mimika regency in the unsettled Papua region, the report claims the security forces still enjoy a high degree of impunity for illegal behavior.
"This is a reminder of the considerable degree of continuity between Suharto’s military-backed New Order, in which the security forces enjoyed political prominence and vast power, and the democratic system that was established after the regime’s fall in 1998," the authors said.
KontraS said far from investigating or prosecuting those responsible for past rights outrages, the Indonesian government has often promoted them to key positions in government.
In particular, KontraS pointed to the appointment of Maj. Gen. Untung Budiharto, the alleged perpetrator of enforced disappearances during the terminal crisis of the Suharto government in 1997 and 1998, as commander of the Greater Jakarta Command Area.

4) Papuan man shot during riots in Mappi dies
News Desk – Police Brutality
19 December 2022

Jayapura, Jubi – A 35-year-old Papuan man named Moses Erro died after got shot during the riots that broke out in Mappi Regency, South Papua. Erro’s family member Rovin Sirmi said Moses Erro was shot in the thigh and knee.

“Moses Erro died on Saturday, December 17, 2022. The family ask that the perpetrators of the shooting be punished according to law,” said Rovin Sirmi when contacting Jubi in a telephone call on Saturday.

Rovin Sirmi, who is a youth leader of the Wiyagar Tribe in Merauke Regency, also clarified the Papua Police’s statement that the riot in Mappi was triggered by a dispute between two groups of residents who were under the influence of alcoholic beverages on December 14, 2022.

The statement was previously conveyed by the Papua Police Liaison Officer in South Papua Province, Sr. Comr. Erick K. Sully. Rovin Sirmi explained that the incident began when a resident, Mohan Bapaimu, extorted a teenager named Martinus Base on December 14.

The incident occurred in front of Obaa 1 Vocational School in Mappi. The victim was going to the market to buy fish. However, on the way, the victim was extorted by someone who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol.

“Martinus Base did not comply with the request because he had no money other than the one given to him to buy fish. There was an argument before the alleged perpetrator injured the victim with a sharp object. The alleged perpetrator then ran to the Mappi Police Station seeking protection,” he said.

Martinus Base’s family came to the police station and asked the police to hold the perpetrator accountable. “But the police asked them to go home,” said Rovin Sirmi.

According to him, when the victim’s family were on their way home from the Mappi Police Station, someone recorded them and that angered the victim’s family. That was when the conflict escalated.

“At 17:40 Papua time the dispute got bigger that the Indonesian Military (TNI) and police officers who were on standby issued warning shots upwards. Hearing the sound of gunfire, the people ran towards the sound of gunfire,” said Rovin Sirmi.

He said that the victim’s family, who were angry with the perpetrator, spontaneously damaged the police car that just came. One police officer was hit by a sharp object.

According to Rovin Sirmi, the security forces started firing uncontrollably and hit several residents at the location. As a result, ten residents were shot. Several police officers were also injured.

He said that the eight victims who were shot are still being treated at the Mappi Regional General Hospital. Two other victims, Soni Pasim and Yohanes Sedap, are being treated at the Community Health Center.

“We as the family need to clarify the news based on police information that the incident was triggered by two groups of drunk residents. My brothers were victims of stabbings and shooting, they were not drunk,” said Rovin Sirmi.

Among the victims were Basil Boy (27), shot in the right leg; Ferdi Boy (15), shot in the back through the chest, and an elementary student named Roni Kamagai (11) who was shot in the right thigh.

High school student Soni Pasim (17) was shot in the thigh. He was also allegedly hit in the head by security forces using a gun butt four times, and handcuffed to a hospital bed while undergoing treatment.

Other victims were Sabinus Sedap (18), a high school student shot in the right hand and left thigh; Martinus Kamagai (18), another high school student shot in the left thigh, Moses Erro (35) shot in the knee and thigh; Willem Jeji Somagai (20), shot in the left thigh; Otniel Somagai (24), shot in the palm of his hand; and Yohanes Sedap (19) who was shot in the right thigh and buttock as well as getting handcuffed to the bed while undergoing treatment. (*)

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