The Indonesian Military (TNI)says it will remain vigilant even though a boat carrying pro-West Papua independence activists had returned to Australian waters, reasoning that they could return any time and try to enter Merauke, West Papua, illegally.
Navy ships were patrolling and monitoring the movement of the boat of activists, who called themselves the 'West Papua Freedom Flotilla', TNI Commander Gen. Moeldoko said.
'At the moment, they are not in Indonesian territory, but we are monitoring them,' the general told The Jakarta Post at the State Palace on Wednesday.
Activists, traveling on the boat named The Pog, cancelled their journey and returned to Australian waters after feeling threatened by the Indonesian Military earlier this week. Moeldoko refused to discuss any military action taken that led to the activists retreating, but gave assurances that there had been no direct military contact with the activists.
When asked if the TNI would expel the activists if they returned and attempted to enter Indonesian waters, he said, 'Of course.'
Papua Naval Command chief Commodore IG Putu Wijamahaadi previously said that the Navy would continue its routine patrols. 'In our routine patrols, we use three ships, including the KRI Slamet Riyadi and the KRI Sultan Nuku, in Merauke and other areas of our maritime territory,' Putu said.
The West Papua Freedom Flotilla initially prepared three boats but eventually only The Pog was considered seaworthy. It has reportedly arrived back in Gove in Australia's Northern Territory.
Despite their failure to accomplish their planned mission, the activists claimed success for getting the attention of top Indonesian officials and the international media.
'We really hope and really feel that this campaign has helped to put West Papua on the map and in people's consciousness and hopefully in the consciousness of Australian politicians and Australian people as well,' Freedom Flotilla spokesperson Izzy Brown said as quoted by Radio Australia on Monday.
The activists claimed The Pog had sailed along the border region between Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia while making repeated attempts to 'contact and call for dialogue' with the Indonesian authorities.
The revelation of the Freedom Flotilla's movement upset Indonesian officials and disrupted Indonesia's diplomatic relations with Australia.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto held talks with Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Greg Moriarty, protesting Canberra's reluctance to prevent the activists from leaving Australian soil. 'No nation should allow its soil to be used as a departure point for the movement of a group aimed at disrupting another nation's sovereignty. That is very clear,' Djoko said.