Same foes, same woes behind Papua chaos
Crime scene: Police investigators collect evidence from the scene where 48-year-old Tri, a civilian security guard who also worked as a motorcycle taxi driver, was shot dead at Cendrawasih University campus in Abepura, Papua, on Sunday. Antara/Alfian RumagitThe government, once again, is blaming the deteriorating security situation in Papua on its usual suspects: the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and foreign interests intent on instigating conflict.
On Monday, for example, National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman claimed that at least three parties, including the OPM, foreign agents and local residents themselves were behind the waves of shootings and violence in province.
Marciano said that the OPM had evolved into a force to be reckoned with, having perfected its methods, accumulated a sizeable warchest
and gained substantial support for its guerilla campaign from urban residents.
“Members of the OPM, who normally operate in the rural areas, now dare to run their armed operations from within city limits, because they’ve won backing from local political groups, which support the separation of Papua,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a closed-door session with lawmakers on House Commission I overseeing security.
Marciano said that the local groups were funded by sympathetic foreign NGOs and continued to describe the OPM’s new strategy.
“The OPM is divided in two groups, one focused on politics and one that runs armed operations. Both groups have been in constant contact these days. They have also made contact with their colleagues abroad. And by terrorizing the cities, they are trying to show the world that Papua is unstable [...] and direct global opinion to support their movement,” Marciano said.
He said that BIN would ana-
lyze the situation before recommending a course of action to the government.
At least 16 people have been shot dead in Papua in the past few weeks.
Last week, one civilian was killed in an incident involving Indonesian Military (TNI) troops, while another civilian, Teyu Tabuni, 19, was shot dead by police officers on Thursday in Jayapura.
After the most recent reported fatality, where the body of a civilian was found on the lawn of the Cendrawasih University’s Teacher Training Center on Sunday, the school imposed an afternoon curfew on campus and cut school hours.
University spokesman Paulus Homer said the measure was a precaution to prevent students from becoming victims of the escalating violence.
“We don’t want any of our students to be shot dead like the others. It’s enough that many of our students have become victims of robberies during the day,” Homer told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Homer said that the local police had yet to take action on the reports campus administrators had filed about the increasing number of robberies on campus.
Contacted separately, Papuan peace activist Neles Tebay said that the local police had to seriously investigate the recent spate of unsolved shootings to prevent further violence from erupting in the province.
“The recent unsolved shootings are only a small part of the real problem in Papua, and the government must resolve it,” he said.
Neles said that all parties in Papua, including local governments, local residents, the business community and separatist groups must come together to start a dialogue on resolving the violence.
“That’s the only way to end what has been happening here,” Neles said.
On Monday, several Commission I lawmakers called on the government to step up its efforts to start talks in Papua in order to mute potential external critics.
“The problems in Papua should not attract the international community, if the government is serious about finding solutions,” lawmaker TB Hasanuddin of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle
Meanwhile, Commission I chairman, Mahfudz Siddiq of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) said that the Papuans themselves were serious about dialogue.
“We have learned that Papuans know very well the importance of dialogue to resolve the ongoing violence in Papua, but they don’t have any ideas about the form of the dialogue or parties to be charge of the initiative,” he said.
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