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Former Timor militia protest at Amnesty's Jakarta office over its stand on Papua

Tempo - March 18, 2022

Fajar Pebrianto, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia has responded to a protest action held by the Jakarta Red-and-White Militia (Laskar Merah Putih, LMP) in front of its offices. The protest was held in relation to recent problems which are occurring in Papua.

"We consider this to be an expression of freedom of opinion", said Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid when contacted on Friday March 18.

Amnesty, said Hamid, will continue to articulate its concerns about human rights violations in Papua, particularly the rights of indigenous Papuans which are increasingly being ignored, and not excepting violence against non-Papuan civilians and security personnel.

Protest actions by members of the LMP on Thursday March 17 were held at two different locations, the Amnesty office and the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The organisation conveyed four demands based on a copy received by Tempo.

First, supporting the government in the creation of new autonomous regions (DOB) in Papua. Second, demanding that non-government organisations (NGOs) such as Amnesty not create narratives that tend to side with armed criminal groups (KKB) in Papua.

Third, supporting the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (Indonesian police) in taking firm actions against groups which threaten the integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI). And fourth, demanding that legal action be taken against Papuan students who held a protest action in front of the Home Affairs Department several days ago which turned anarchic.

Hamid continued saying that Amnesty will continue asking the government to conduct an investigation into all human rights violations in Papua. Amnesty is also asking the government not to make unilateral policies which impact on the rights of indigenous Papuans which are guaranteed under the Special Autonomy Law or Otsus.

Amnesty is also asking the government to postpone the implementation to recent revisions the Otsus Law because the Constitutional Court (MK) is currently testing the constitutionality of the law. "Until the MK hands down a ruling, it would be best if the government postpones it", he said.

President Joko Widodo or Jokowi has already signed off on Law Number 2/2021 on Papua Special Autonomy as a revision to Law Number 21/2001 on Otsus. But after only a few months, the Papua People's Council (MRP), which represents the cultural interests of indigenous Papuans, challenged the new Otsus Law in the Constitutional Court.

The preliminary hearing at the Constitutional Court was held virtually on Wednesday September 22, 2021.

"The plaintiffs argue that the norms in the stipulations of Article 6 Paragraph (2), Article 6A, Article 28, Article 38, Article 59 Paragraph (3), Article 68A, Article 76 and Article 77 of the Papua Otsus Law violates their constitutional rights as indigenous Papuans", read a written release on the Constitutional Court official website.

One aspect of the implementations of the new Otsus Law is the formation of new DOB or the splitting up of the Papua region into six new provinces. It is the planned DOB which has attracted a great deal of protest, a plan which is being continued despite the law being challenged at the Constitutional Court.

Amnesty is urging the government to postpone the plan to create DOB in Papua and has criticised several articles in the new Otsus Law which abolish the need for agreement from the MRP before creating new regions. According to Hamid, the DOB cannot just be implemented if the aim is to bring government services closer to the public.

However he is asking that the policy not violate the procedures in the Otsus Law on the question of agreement from the MRP. Amnesty is therefore asking the government to postpone the formation of DOBs in Papua.

In relation to armed groups in Papua meanwhile, right from the start Amnesty has rejected the discourse promoted by National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) Commissioner General Boy Rafli Amar on classifying Papuan armed groups affiliated with the Free Papua Movement (OPM) as terrorist organisations.

According to Hamid, classifying armed groups affiliated with the OPM as terrorist organisations will not bring an end to the human rights violations suffered by the Papuan people because many of these are allegedly committed by state security forces.

"With regard to the acts of armed criminals which are committed by non-state actors it would be best to continue using a law enforcement approach", said Hamid in a written release on Tuesday March 23, 2021.

Rather than labeling them as terrorist, Amnesty is pushing for a legal approach to all violations which take place in Papua – weather they are committed by KKB, the OPM, police or the National Intelligence Agency (BIN). "So they are all treated the same before the law", he said.

Tempo has tried to contact the Jakarta LMP commander Agus Salim with regard to the protest action at the Amnesty office but as of this report being submitted, Salim has not yet responded.

Quoting from its official website laskarmerahputih.co.id, the LMP was born in East Timor when it was seeking to separate from Indonesia [through a UN sponsored referendum in 1999]. The group did not want East Timor to separate from Indonesia although in the end it acceded to the decision of the government at the time.

The Jakarta LMP is also recorded as receiving grants from the Jakarta provincial government in 2017 under the governorship of Anies Baswedan and Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno.

The value of the grant received by the social organisation established in December 2000 was initially planned to increase by five times from the 100 million rupiah it received 2017 to 500 million rupiah in 2018. Later on however it returned to 100 million during a meeting of the Jakarta Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) Budgetary Committee.

"The DPRD of course had a rational consideration, that the budget must forces on poor and less well off communities", said Uno when speaking at the Jakarta City Hall on Wednesday November 29, 2017.

Tempo has also tried to contact Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Teuku Rezasyah about the LMP protest action in front of its office but although a WhatsApp message sent to him has been read there has been no response as of this article being posted.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Amnesty Sampaikan Sikap soal Papua Usai Unjuk Rasa Laskar Merah Putih".]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1572271/amnesty-sampaikan-sikap-soal-papua-usai-unjuk-rasa-laskar-merah-puti