SECURITY FORCES IN PAPUA: SECURITY FOR WHOM?
Even as the memory of the sadistic murder of four civilians by the Indonesian security forces in Enarotali last December (known as the Bloody Paniai incident) remains raw for Papuans, the police are making plans to increase their presence in Papua, including by building a Brimob (Police Mobile Brigade) command headquarters in Wamena (Jayawijaya Regency). Earlier, the TNI announced plans to establish a new Kodam (regional military command) in Papua. These plans show the Indonesian Government’s true approach in Papua: to focus heavily on security and the military. No matter who is in power, the government continues to use a security approach when trying to resolve the complex web of problems in Papua. Ever since Papua was integrated into Indonesia, the central government has not been concerned with the abuses and killings of the Papuan people perpetrated by the police and army. Human rights abuses continue to take place, but justice is rarely served.
This security approach has not only led to a number of murders, but has also negated the freedoms of the Papuan People to assemble, express themselves and state their opinions. Any expressions or opinions that differ from those of the government or the security forces are always used as a reason to launch various operations that frequently result in fatalities. Based on this security approach, many Papuans have been killed or arrested under Indonesian Law no. 106 or 110 on assault against the government or on trying to separate the certain area from Indonesia (Makar). Thus, instead of creating peace and security, the presence of the police and army in Papua causes insecurity, fear and trauma.
This raises a question: who are the security forces there to serve? This question is important because the government and security forces often distort official policies. The motto ‘NKRI (The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia) is non-negotiable’ (‘NKRI hargamati’) fires up Indonesians to support the maintenance of Indonesia’s unity. But this concept of NKRIhargamati overlooks the real reason for the establishment of the state. The basis of Indonesia’s existence cannot be solely the need to remain united –there must also be a clear agreement that the government will look after the prosperity and safety of the people under its rule. Given this, it seems very odd when the main security concern becomes Indonesia’s sovereignty rather than the security of the Indonesian people.
One of the main problems is that the police and army understand the concept of NKRI as the need to ensure no areas of Indonesia ever leave the republic. This has resulted in the security forces vindicating the extrajudicial killing and assaults of Papuans as necessary to uphold the unity of Indonesia. It is clear that what is being championed is the unity of NKRI and the physical land inside of it, not the people living in these areas. It is thought that since Papua must remain part of Indonesia, Papuans whose views contrast with those of the government and security apparatus should be killed. It is clear that ‘security’ in Papua means the security of the geographic area of Indonesia and not for the people living in the territory themselves.
In practical terms in Papua, this view means that any hint of conflict or disagreement is seen as an effort to separate Papua from Indonesia. For example, peaceful demonstrations are usually met by well-armed security forces. The sadistic assassinations in Enarotali are clear evidence of how the security apparatus treats Papuans. This is just one of many cases. The security apparatus have an ingrained suspicion of Papuans: that they all want to separate from Indonesia, when in fact a demonstration can be just that, and may be on a completely unrelated matter. This deep-seated lack of trust is what has led to the government wanting to build more and more security bases in Papua.
The irony here is that the government uses the ‘safety of the local people’ as the reason why security forces are necessary. But for the local people, the government never properly explains who is meant to benefit from the presence of more security. When the government says the increase in security forces is to ensure people’s safety, it is almost unbelievable because the local people themselves reject an increase in security personnel. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this excuse is actually being used currently by the government of Jayawijaya Regency and the police to justify the plan to build a Brimob headquarters in Wamena. The people in Jayawijaya strongly reject this plan because the presence of Brimob headquarters will make the area more insecure and the people will live in fear. The protracted and deep trauma caused by the arbitrary actions of the security forces have made the local people believe that security makes them less secure, not more.
For the Papuans, what they need nowadays is security focused on the people’s welfare, not state security. The conditions in Papua need more attention from the government, particularly in the areas of education, healthcare, and economic and cultural protection. Many people in Jayawijaya are illiterate because there are very few teachers. So many schools in Jayawijaya, and in Papua in general, have insufficient numbers of teachers. The students in Papua go to school but usually don’t end up having class because there is no teacher.
Another problem in Papua is that there are many healthcare centers, but a lack of doctors and nurses. The number of Papuans infected by HIV/AIDS is the highest in Indonesia, and there are also problems with other diseases. But there is no significant policy or action from the government to solve such problems. While lots of money has been spent on Special Autonomy programs aimed at encouraging the development of Papuans and public infrastructure in Papua, there are no significant changes. The goal of Special Autonomy is not a bad one – the goal of encouraging Papuans in their development – but in reality this approach actually excludes the Papuans from the development. While many public facilities have been built in Papua, the majority of Papuans do not get to enjoy them. These facilities are enjoyed by migrants from outside Papua. These migrants arrived through the transmigration program from the Indonesian government, or as economic migrants coming to Papua looking for work. The migrants dominate the economic, social, cultural, education and political spheres in Papua. Many Papuans consider that Special Autonomy is a failure. Development in Papua has become a ‘wicked problem’, and it needs a holistic solution.
On top of all this, the plan to establish new Brimob command headquarters in Wamena is the wrong answer to the complex web of problems in Papua. The Indonesian government has to think deeply about developing Papua. The Papuans do not require additional police or army – they need partnerships and justice in the development of their land