INDONESIA: Stop security approach in Papua Island

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) supports Indonesian civil society organizations under the Coalition of the Civil Society for Security Sector Reform.

The security approach in dealing with social and human rights problems in the Papua Island shows a bad impact towards efforts to resolve the social conflict in the Papua Island. Applying this approach has implications for conflict escalation which continues to increase through various cases that find acts of violence against local residents, even resulting in the loss of lives.

The incident of the heinous murder along with the mutilation on August 22nd, 2022, of four civilians by six TNI-AD soldiers (The Indonesian National Armed Forces) from the 20th Infantry Brigade/Ima Jaya Keramo Kostrad Unit became the most memorable tragedy. A week later, on August 30th, 2022, a humanitarian tragedy was repeated in Mappi, Papua, where four civilians became victims, one of whom died. The perpetrator is known to be a TNI soldier from the Battalion 600/Modang Unit.

These cases show that the respect for and protection and fulfillment of human rights are serious problems that need to be addressed to the security approach in handling the conflict in Papua. The Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform strongly condemns all forms of violence against indigenous Papuans carried out by the security forces. The series of humanitarian tragedies continuing to occur and are repeated against civilians in Papua show the irresponsible nature of the nation in its efforts to protect the right to a sense of security for every Papuan.

The two above mentioned cases have become phenomena from the peak of the iceberg due to wrong Government policies and approaches. So far, the Government is looking for a security approach. This condition is illustrated by the large number of deployments of security forces to conflict areas. Instead of creating peace, what happened was more and more violent incidents and casualties. Not infrequently, the victims were civilians.

In addition, it should also be noted that the massive incidents of violence in the TNI cannot be separated from the issue of the military justice system, which has yet to be fixed. From the beginning, we considered that the military court had many problems, ranging from an unaccountable process to a space for impunity. In referring to the security sector reform agenda, TNI soldiers who commit crimes must be brought and tried through the general justice mechanism. Unfortunately, the chaos of the military justice system is also not along with the efforts to immediately carry out reforms.

In relation to violent incidents that continue to occur in Papua, according to the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), a national human rights organization which has previously carried out monitoring, in the period from January to August in 2022, there were eight acts of violence committed by members of the TNI. The locus are scattered in the Papua region from Jayapura, Mappi, Sinak, Intan Jaya, Maybrat, Manokwari to Mimika. Meanwhile, if the types of violence are described, they include sexual violence, ill treatment, torture, intimidation and shootings. There were at least 18 civilians who became victims, seven of them died.

In addition, KontraS also noted that there were at least 27 incidents of violence committed by members of the National Police. From January to July, there were 118 civilian casualties spread from the areas of Yahukimo, Mimika, Jayapura, Nabire, Timika, Wamena, Sorong and Paniai. Of the hundreds of victims, three of them died. The types of acts of violence include forced dispersal, arbitrary arrests, torture, intimidation and shootings.

The various incidents of violence that have occurred in Papua prove that the Government’s approach to security does not address the root of the problem. The State should read the situation in Papua by looking at the main problem. Referring to research conducted by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), there are at least four root causes, namely, the failure of development, the marginalization and discrimination of indigenous Papuans, human rights violations, and the history and political status of the Papua region. Unfortunately, the identification of the four root causes was not followed up by seeking peaceful means in the form of a dialogue based approach.

On this basis, the Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform urges:

First, the President stop the militaristic approach in resolving the conflict in Papua. This is because the security approach has proven to be unsuccessful in solving problems and has actually resulted in massive incidents of human rights violations.

Second, the Military Commander (TNI Commander) immediately dismiss all TNI soldiers who were suspected of being involved in incidents of violence and human rights violations.

Third, the National Police Chief immediately conduct a thorough investigation into violent incidents that occurred, including the TNI soldiers involved as well as providing the broadest legal access and information to the families of the victims regarding the ongoing legal process.