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Ensuring RI's Independence Day celebrations run peacefully in Papua

Ensuring  RI's Independence Day celebrations run peacefully in Papua

A cultural carnival was organized in Wamena, Papua Province, on Aug 10, 2019. ANTARA FOTO/Iwan Adisaputra/ama/ FA.

Indonesia's 74th Independence Day commemoration on August 17 in Papua is expected to run peacefully, but the potential threat posed by armed Papuan rebels looms large, considering the significance of that historic day for Indonesians.

The mining site of PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) in Tembagapura Sub-district, Mimika District, is one of the areas under strict surveillance of the Indonesian military and police.

Chief of 1710 Mimika District Military Command Lt Col Pio L. Nainggolan revealed on Saturday that precautionary measures will be taken against security disturbances in PTFI's mining area in the run-up to Aug 17.

The precautionary measures were deemed necessary since the intelligence agency's reports hint at a possibility of the armed Papuan rebels launching an attack on that day.

The areas to be closely monitored by security personnel in their efforts to take precautionary measures against security disturbances will cover Tembagapura Sub-district in Mimika District and Mimika City and its outskirts, he noted.

To this end, the existing security posts will be strengthened, and the rebels' moves would be restricted, he noted, adding that the military and police will strive to ensure security to the local residents.

"Hence, the local residents are urged to remain calm," he stated.

The security personnel are acquainted with the routes that the rebels generally take in the areas of Tembagapura Sub-district, including the Ilaga-Aroanop-Banti and Ilaga-Jila-Tsinga-Grasberg routes.

The security apparatus will also adopt precautionary measures on new routes possibly taken by them to reach the areas of Tembagapura where the PTFI conducts exploration of ore containing copper, gold, and silver in the Grasberg minerals district.

Speaking in connection with the possibility of Timika City and its outskirts also facing the threat of rebels, Nainggolan expressed optimism that they would not turn into a battleground for the rebel groups and Indonesian security personnel.

Timika's areas have often been used by rebels as a place for obtaining logistics supplies, budget, and ammunition as well as transit points, he pointed out.

The Papuan armed separatists have repeatedly launched deadly attacks and killings over the past years.

On December 2, 2018, for instance, a group of armed Papuan rebels had brutally killed 31 workers from PT Istaka Karya, who were engaged in construction and building the Trans Papua project in Kali Yigi and Kali Aurak in Yigi Sub-District, Nduga District.

The armed rebels, who launched the brutal killings, also killed a soldier named Handoko and injured two other security personnel: Sugeng and Wahyu.

Acknowledging this grim reality, Papua Police Chief Inspector General Rudolf A. Rodja stated that the security disturbances, caused by the rebels, remain a persistent challenge for Indonesia's security apparatuses in the province.

In the first semester of 2019, at least 10 shooting incidents involving these armed separatists have occurred that claimed seven lives.

Five of the dead victims were soldiers, while two others were a policeman and civilian, Papua Police Chief Inspector General Rudolf A. Rodja stated on July 3, 2019.

The shooting incidents that took place in the working areas of the Puncak Jaya and Jayawijaya Police Precincts during the January-June period this year had also resulted in six soldiers and two policemen suffering from gunshot wounds.

Security disturbances still potentially recur, for which precautionary measures are necessary, particularly for securing this year's commemoration of Indonesian Independence Day on Aug 17 and the anniversary of the Free Papua Movement on Dec 1, he emphasized.

The commemoration of International Human Rights Day on Dec 10 and the Christmas celebrations on Dec 25-26 are other days that call for the need to take precautionary security measures, Rodja stated.

Related news: TNI anticipates security disturbances in Papua ahead of Aug 17

ANTARA noted that Rodja's predecessor, Inspector General Martuani Sormin, had, in fact, forecast that the armed Papuan rebels, or what the police term "armed criminal groups," or "KKB," would likely remain a serious security threat in certain areas of the central mountain range of the Indonesian province of Papua.

Sormin informed journalists early this year that the police had attempted to approach the armed groups to end the vicious circle of violence, but the effort proved to be futile.

However, he pointed to a reduction in security disturbances following the deployment of army and police personnel in the areas of the central mountain range that might potentially be targeted by the armed groups.

The governor and heads of districts are tasked with handling the administration of the areas, and without their support, the armed forces and police personnel could not have conducted their duties.

Hence, in dealing with such security threats, Sormin suggested to activate the "Regional Leadership Communication Forum," or "Forkopimda," so that necessary solutions can be sought jointly to tackle all problems arising in the regions.

Apart from the central and provincial governments' endeavors to persuade the rebels to end their acts of violence and return to their families to resume a normal life, the Free Papua Movement (OPM) has officially declared war against Indonesia.

The implication of this OPM's war declaration that its spokesman Jeffrey Bomanak made in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea (PNG), on Jan 31, 2019, has prolonged a circle of violence.

It is the duty of the Indonesian security apparatuses to guarantee the safety and security of all Indonesians living in Papua, but it should also be followed by concrete and comprehensive measures of the central and provincial governments to bring prosperity to all components of society, particularly native Papuans. Related news: Soldier securing Trans-Papua road project dies of shot wound: mily

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