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'We aren't guided by NGOs': Prabowo in heated Al Jazeera interview discussing Papua

Jakarta Globe - May 14, 2024

Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – President-Elect Prabowo Subianto looked somewhat agitated when questioned about alleged human rights abuses by the Indonesian Military in Papua during an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera aired on Monday.

At one point in the interview, Prabowo even suggested that his interviewer, senior journalist Jessica Washington, visit Papua herself to assess the situation firsthand after she posed what he deemed a "one-sided" question.

Washington inquired about a recent incident where a suspected Papuan rebel was reportedly subjected to torture by soldiers, being placed into a barrel and subsequently declared dead.

Prabowo asserted that the incident had been addressed appropriately, with the involved soldiers already facing consequences. "I'm not defending it – we have taken measures to punish our security forces [involved in the incident]," he said during the interview, which took place at his private residence in Jakarta.

He then highlighted that such incidents, though regrettable, were isolated in a vast country roughly "the size of Europe" with the fourth-largest population globally, grappling with a multitude of pressing issues.

"The incidents seem to be concentrated though in Papua rather than throughout the country," remarked Washington.

"How do you know that? Have you been there? Why don't you go there?" responded Prabowo.

"Well, it's very difficult for foreign media to enter Papua," she explained.

"I'm not defending. All incidents ... we will deal with seriously. But you know your question is a bit one-sided," Prabowo countered, his voice rising.

"Why don't you open the YouTube or the channels of this so-called Papua Independent Movement? On their channel, you can see how they mistreat their own people," Prabowo added.

He labeled Papuan rebels as "terrorists" who "burn schools and kill civilians", pointing to deadly attacks by suspected rebels that claimed the lives of at least 31 construction workers in Nduga regency on December 1-2, 2018.

"What I'm saying is they carried out the acts of terrorism," said Prabowo, also mentioning the ongoing hostage situation involving a New Zealand pilot held by Papuan rebels.

Prabowo appeared uneasy when Washington suggested, "There is a perception from some human rights groups in Indonesia that perhaps what the situation needs is less militarization."

"This is our national territory. We are not guided by NGOs. We will be guided by our national interests," he retorted.

The Al Jazeera interview can be viewed here: https://www.aljazeera.com/program/talk-to-al-jazeera/2024/5/12/indonesias-prabowo-victory-controversies-and-hopes

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/we-arent-guided-by-ngos-prabowo-in-heated-al-jazeera-interview-discussing-papu