Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie, Jakarta – Coordinating Political, Legal and Human Rights Minister Mahfud MD has suggested that the solution to the ongoing violence in Papua is to send more security forces to the region and that Papuans in fact do not want the Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police withdrawn from the province.
Mahfud expressed the need for more security officers in a press conference on Wednesday, during which the government-sanctioned independent fact-finding team (TGPF) reported its findings regarding a string of killings in Papua's Intan Jaya regency around September.
"It would be wrong to say that the Papuan people have asked for the TNI and National Police to be withdrawn from the region, those who say that are armed criminal groups," Mahfud said. "The Papuan people themselves are asking for protection that can provide security for them."
Mahfud recommended that the government increase the number of "organic" security forces in the region – meaning TNI and National Police personnel that are specifically assigned to local units, as opposed to reinforcements sent in from outside the province.
According to the coordinating minister, Papua's large area and rough terrain complicated security efforts in the region. Some police units, for example, were forced to oversee two or more regions, with some other areas left unsupervised.
Mahfud also said the National Police Commission (Kompolnas), which the minister also chairs, had previously recommended adding more security forces to cover more areas in Papua to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, and implied that the President had approved of the proposition.
Despite the coordinating minister's claim, civil society groups have been urging the government to reduce security approaches in the easternmost region.
The Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI), for example, said in September that "violent and military approaches in the region had created "an endless cycle of violence", urging the government to implement a cultural approach instead.
The PGI gave the statement following the recent fatal shooting of Papuan pastor Yeremia Zanambani in Hitadipa district of Intan Jaya, allegedly at the hands of a TNI officer. The pastor's death, along with other cases of killings in the regency, prompted the government to establish the TGPF.
After concluding field investigation last week, the fact-finding team reported Wednesday that authorities or a third-party might be behind the shooting of Yeremia. Mahfud said the government would follow up on the findings, ordering the National Police and Attorney General's Office to solve the cases.