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Coalition urges TNI to cancel combat ready operational status in Papua

Kompas.com - April 19, 2023

Achmad Nasrudin Yahya, Jakarta – The Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform is urging the TNI (Indonesian military) to cancel a decision to raise the operational status in conflict-prone Papua to combat ready (siaga tempur).

The combat ready operational status was applied following an attack by an armed criminal group (KKB) that left one TNI army soldier dead and five soldiers missing in Nduga regency, Papua Highlands.

Coalition representative and Centra Initiative Chairperson Al Araf said that the decision to apply a combat ready status is a policy that will continue to reproduce the spiral of violence.

"If that policy choice is the one that will be pursued, then the Coalition calls for the plan to be cancelled", said Araf in a press release on Tuesday April 18.

Araf related how the militaristic security approach pursued to date in Papua has directly and indirectly impacted on violence and human rights abuses in Papua.

Several cases have come to the public's attention such as the killing of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani in 2020 and the killing and mutilation of four civilians in Papua in 2022. Then there was the torture of three children accused of theft in the same year.

According to Araf, the practice of impunity has always been a problem that continues to occur in violence involving security forces in Papua.

Because of this, enforcement of the law to break the chain of impunity is seen as important to prevent the recurrence of violence by security forces against civilians in Papua.

Araf emphasised that an evaluation of the militaristic security approach in Papua must begin immediately. This evaluation could be carried out by means of rearranging the TNI troop level presence in Papua.

"To date, there are indications that there has been an increasingly disproportionate increase in the number of TNI troops present in line with the continued expansion of organic structures and the deployment of non-organic TNI troops from outside Papua", he explained.

Araf also believes that in terms of legality and accountability, the involvement of the TNI in Papua has created many problems that are not in line with Law Number 34/2004 on the TNI.

Araf explained that Article 7 Paragraph (3) of the TNI Law emphasises that the implementation of Military Operations other than War (OMSP) by the TNI, including in this case dealing with separatism and providing assistance to the police, must be based on political decisions by the state or a decision in consultation with the House of Representatives (DPR).

Based on research by one of the organisations that is part of the Coalition, Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial), they noted that the government has never issued a written policy related to the deployment of TNI troops to Papua.

"Thus, from a legal standpoint, the involvement of the military can be said to be illegal", Araf stressed.

As has been reported, TNI Commander Admiral Yudo Margono raised the status of TNI operations in Nduga regency to combat ready.

This followed the attack by an armed criminal group on 36 TNI personnel in Mugi district, Nduga, in the Papua Highlands, which resulted in the death of Private First-Class Miftahul Arifin on Saturday April 15.

"We are still carrying out law enforcement operations using a soft approach, from the beginning I have said this, but of course with conditions like this, in certain areas we will change it to a combat ready operation," said Margono in Mimika, Central Papua, through a voice recording distributed to the media on Tuesday April 18.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Koalisi Masyarakat Sipil Desak TNI Batalkan Operasi Siaga Tempur di Papua".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2023/04/19/05300061/koalisi-masyarakat-sipil-desak-tni-batalkan-operasi-siaga-tempur-di-papu