Senior intelligence official killed by separatist group . . .
Indonesia’s senior intelligence official, Brigadier General I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha, was shot and killed Sunday during a security patrol in the country’s restive easternmost province of Papua, where attacks by separatist groups have increased recently. One of several active separatist groups in the region, the West Papua National Liberation Army took responsibility for the attack. The armed group previously attacked civilians in the district, killing two teachers and a teenager believed to be spies for Indonesian security forces. President Joko Widodo ordered the police and military to arrest members of the separatist groups. Activists fear additional military operations will lead to retaliation against Indigenous Papuans.
Present-day grievances rooted in history . . .
West Papua – now divided into the provinces of Papua and West Papua – was annexed by Indonesia in 1962. Jakarta secured legal control of the territory in 1969 after a much-contested ‘referendum’ where only approximately 1,000 tribal leaders voted to remain with Indonesia. Since then, there has been a low-simmering conflict between the Indonesian armed forces and fragmented separatist groups, fuelled by growing economic disparity between migrants from other parts of the country and Indigenous Papuans. Their communities remain among the poorest in Indonesia, reaping little benefit from either the lucrative extraction of West Papua’s abundant mining and timber resources by national and foreign companies, or from Jakarta’s infrastructural investment in the region. Indonesian security forces also have a history of repeated human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, against Indigenous Papuans.
Growing de-stabilization and violence . . .
Following General Danny’s death, Jakarta has formally labelled the separatists “terrorists,” giving security forces deployed in the restive provinces enhanced powers. Advocates have urged the government to consider non-military resolutions to the conflict, possibly modelled after the agreement granting autonomy to the Indonesian province of Aceh in 2005. While Jakarta increasingly saw Aceh’s separatists as terrorists, particularly after 9/11, the agreement still managed to end a 30-year conflict. However, West Papua’s conflict could intensify. Nearly 8,000 villagers have fled the violence from West Papua’s highlands and now face potential humanitarian and health crises.
- The Jakarta Post: Papua intelligence chief killed in weekend rebel attack
- New York Times: Indonesian General is killed in rebel ambush, sparking fears of retaliation
- Radio New Zealand: West Papuan churches call for UN to come to Papua