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Military intelligence operations are still underway in Papua

Legal Aid Assessment, Research and Development Institute (LP3BH) Statement - February 9, 2012

Yan Christian Warinussy – The appointment and deployment of Major-General Mohammad Erwin Syafitri (former deputy chief of BAIS, Indonesia's joint strategic intelligence agency) as commander of KODAM XVII Cenderawasih Papua is clear proof that the Land of Papua is still an area of operations of Indonesian military intelligence.

As a result, the top leadership of the military territorial command in this region has been placed under the command of a leader who has a background in intelligence or at the very least a history of involvement in Indonesia's intelligence agency.

This is important in order to protect the collaboration between military activities or security and intelligence which acts as the front line for gathering information and deploying security forces in the area.

It is important to point out that in the opinion of human rights activists in Papua, the Land of Papua is still isolated from the international community, bearing in mind that access to the area has been made difficult for several humanitarian and human rights institutions such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Peace Brigades International, as a result of which they have closed their offices in Papua and left Indonesia in November last year.

The same goes too with regard to the presence of international observers as well as foreign journalists. And for the past five years, it has been difficult for foreign diplomats based in Jakarta to gain access to Papua. This situation has come about because of the powerful influence of the Indonesian army – TNI – and the Indonesian police, so as to make it more difficult for international observation of developments with regard to the rule of law and basic human rights in the Land of Papua.

As a human rights defender in the Land of Papua, I see a close connection with the upsurge in demands being made by the Papuan people to the Indonesian government to find a solution to a number of problems by means of a Papua-Indonesia dialogue, as an important theme which is continually being confronted by certain elements, such as the TNI and the Indonesian police, both of whom have their own vested interests in the Land of Papua.

Bearing in mind that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated on 9 November 2011 that he is ready to enter into dialogue with all forces in the Land of Papua, I have not yet seen any response to this from TNI or from the Indonesian police, to indicate whether they agree with this or indeed whether they support the wishes of the President.

Although in this connection, the military commander and the chief of police of Papua said in their presentations to the Papuan Peace Conference on 5-7 July 2011 that they too support dialogue as the way to solve the conflict in the Land of Papua.

I believe that the Indonesian army and police must clearly reveal their attitude towards the question of dialogue.which is what the vast majority of Papuans support, along with their non-Papuan brothers here in Papua. Even the central government in Jakarta is supporting this, which is clear from the fact that President SBY has appointed Deputy President Budiono to take the lead in efforts to prepare the way for this Papua-Indonesia dialogue.

The idea of dialogue has moreover won positive support from a number of countries around the world, including the USA, Australia, Germany, the UK and the European Union, all of whom are close allies of Indonesia and support the territorial integrity of the Republic of Indonesia.

[Yan Christian Warinussy is the executive director of LP3BH, Papua. Translated by TAPOL.]