Wednesday, August 10, 2005
  What is TNI up to?

Peace is gathering apace in Aceh as the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) start to withdraw their forces.

TNI spokesman Col. Ahmad Yani Basuki was quoted on Sunday as saying that the Indonesian Military (TNI) is preparing to withdraw reinforcement troops from Aceh in stages once a peace deal is signed by the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on Aug. 15.

"We (the TNI) support the peace process that has been reached by the government and GAM during a series of informal talks on Aceh in Helsinki.

"To show our support for the peace process, we are now preparing several policies with respect to our duties in Aceh, including the withdrawal of non-organic troops from the province."

TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto has said the military is preparing a contingency plan to anticipate possible violations of the peace agreement.

According to reports, the TNI is considering the possibility of maintaining 20,000 organic troops in Aceh. Normally, the number of organic troops, who are attached to a regional military command, does not exceed 10 battalions, or about 10,000 personnel.

Peace is also gathering apace in Maluku following progress after the government revoked the civil emergency status for the province in 2003 following bloody sectarian violence which had occurred since 1999, and still does intermittently.

The government is planning to withdraw some 3,000 non-organic troops from conflict-torn Maluku next year, but maintain other 1,650 of non-organic mobile police there to maintain security.

Apart from my confusion about organic and non-organic troops ~ are, perhaps, some robots? ~ what Jakartass and others would like to know is where those withdrawn troops are now being posted to.

Could it be to West Papua?

That's what Australian Democrats believe and they've issued a press release which I republish in full.

Dated: 05 August 2005

Massacre warning for West Papua

Individuals, Non-Government Organisations and Church groups from inside West Papua are expressing grave concerns over increased Indonesian military presence and a dramatic escalation of violence and intimidation, according to the Australian Democrats.

There have been numerous reports that entire villages have been destroyed and the people shot and tortured, Democrats Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

Reports have stated that up to 15,000 (Eh? As many as that?) Indonesian troops have been sent to West Papua in recent weeks.

There has been a specific and concerted effort by the Indonesian military to increase dramatically national and racial tensions. This has all the appearances of a disaster in waiting and we cannot simply allow it to happen.

These events closely follow the passage of a Bill through the US House of Representatives that included support statements for West Papua from Congressman Eni Faleomavaega and Congressman Donald Payne.

Following the passage of the Bill, Congressman Faleomavaega called on the Australian Prime Minister to seriously rethink Government policy on West Papua.

I am putting the Australian Government on notice the situation in West Papua is critical. We have been forewarned. If the current violence escalates the onus will be on the Australian Government to explain what it did to prevent such a massacre.

The Australian Government must call upon Indonesia to immediately withdraw additional troops from West Papua.

During a situation like this, the allegations regarding a pro-Jakarta lobby within the Australian Intelligence services and concern over intelligence warnings prior to the East Timor massacre are deeply disturbing.

We must not allow another East Timor to develop on our doorstep. We have the advance warning, there will be no excuse if this is allowed to happen, Senator Stott Despoja said.

They are right to be concerned. According to this document on Human Rights Abuses in West Papua (Irian Jaya), since 1962 an estimated 30% of the population, that's 300,000 people, have simply vanished from the face of this earth.

A small portion of this could be explained, the aerial bombardment claimed 80,000 lives, exile and refugees at its highest [1984-1985] totaled 13,000, known massacres 13,000, that totals roughly 106,000. So, where did the remainder go? If one looks at the abysmal level of health care system for the rural population, the disease statistics meagre though they are, one could not help but conclude that this population is rapidly declining directly or indirectly as the result of Indonesian government policies.

Can we be assured by SBY's meeting with 29 Papuan leaders last night at the State Palace to discuss the latest developments in the easternmost province?

The leaders, including Papua Governor JP Salossa and Papua provincial council speaker Jhon Ibo, went to the State Palace at the invitation of the President.

All high-ranking government officials attended the meeting, including Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Alwi Shihab, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo A.S. and chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

In his welcome speech, the President said the meeting was aimed at discussing solutions to Papuan problems, adding that all problems had solutions.

There was a ceremony in Jayapura yesterday commemorating International Indigenous Day.

The ceremony, which was tightly guarded by dozens of police and Army personnel, came only weeks after U.S. congressmen proposed a controversial bill on Papua. The bill sparked uproar among Indonesian government officials as it questioned the validity of the process leading up to the 1969 Act of Free Choice in Papua, when selected Papuan leaders voted unanimously to join Indonesia.

The secretary-general of the Papuan Tribal Council, Leo Imbiri, said that Papuans had always been treated unfairly but Papuans would continue to struggle to bring an end to the injustice. One such injustice, he said, was that development in Papua was never discussed with the Papuan tribal community. Many Papuans lost their lives after Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969. "The killers of those Papuans have to be brought to justice. If they are not, Papuans will always question whether we were incorporated into Indonesian just to be slaughtered?" said Leo.

As with Aceh, the issue for the Indonesian government and the TNI is the vast amount of natural resources waiting to be 'exploited' and that, again, Indonesia has failed to convince the population through concrete deeds that they are better off as part of Indonesia.

Tomorrow, SBY is meeting Xanana Gusmao, his counterpart in Timor Leste, in Bali where they expect to officially inaugurate a joint secretariat office of the Commission of Friendship and Truth.

So, East Timor, Aceh and Maluku are, or will be, no longer a playground for the TNI. It is vital that SBY acts expeditiously to prevent a continuance of their war games in Papua. Otherwise there will be a very strong moral argument, backed by western governments, for another part of Indonesia to be given its freedom.



4:46 pm
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