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Concern creation of new Papuan provinces will sharpen conflict with security forces

Kompas.com - July 4, 2022

Vitorio Mantalean, Jakarta – There is concern that conflict with the security forces will become sharper after the law on the creation of three new provinces in Papua, namely Central Papua, South Papua and the Papua Highlands provinces, was ratified by the House of Representatives (DPR) on June 30.

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says that this conflict will originate from communities which reject new autonomous regions in Papua and the additional security forces being deployed as a consequence of the new provinces.

"We're concerned that post the enactment of the [law on] DOB [new autonomous regions] it will sharpen the conflicts occurring in Papua between communities which reject it and the security forces", said Kontras Deputy Coordinator Rivanlee Anandar in a press release received by Kompas.com on Monday July 4.

"Prior to this, during the wave of opposition by the Papuan public to the DOB [the security forces] responded to it with brutality and repression resulting in many deaths", he continued.

Kontras alleges that the formation of three new provinces in Papua is the result of an outlook of "securitisation" or security approach.

The formation of the new provinces will legitimise the deployment of security forces in large numbers in the Land of the Cenderawasih – as Papua is known – because new provinces will automatically add to the number of security units, both police and military.

"As an example, the new provinces will automatically give rise to [new] regional police (Polda), district police (Polres), sectoral police (Polsek) and [other] police posts in Papua. This has been confirmed by the [stated] wish by the police to accelerate the construction of Polda in these three new provinces", said Anandar.

The security approach along with Papua expansion cannot be separated from the economic and business interests in Papua.

Up until now, the flow of business investment in the extractive industries and mining in Papua has often been rejected by local people, regents and governors because of the potential impacts on the environment, despite the investment value being enticing.

"Up until now, in several locations such as Intan Jaya regency there are indications that it has abundant natural wealth so it is very enticing for exploitation", said Anandar.

"Regional expansion can of course be used as a tactic to smooth the way for these mining activities", he said.

Kontras insists that the formation of the new provinces is dangerous and will not resolve the structural problems in Papua and moreover, was done hurriedly and without public participation.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "3 Provinsi Baru Papua Disahkan, Konflik dengan Aparat Dikhawatirkan Kian Runcing".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2022/07/04/23521481/3-provinsi-baru-papua-disahkan-konflik-dengan-aparat-dikhawatirkan-kia