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Why upholding human rights matters in fight against Papuan terrorists?

Why upholding human rights matters in fight against Papuan terrorists?

Remains of I Komang Wira Natha, a police officer who was shot by an armed terror group in Papua, April 2021. (ANTARA FOTO/NOVA WAHYUDI)

Now, based on the definition stated in Law Number 5 of 2018, acts of the KKB and all the names of its organizations and people affiliated with it are related to terrorism
The Indonesian Government has officially declared armed Papuan criminal groups, also called "KKB", as "terrorists" since April 29, 2021 owing to their acts of terror and crimes against innocent civilians.

The label, however, is just directed at those committing crimes, not members of Papuan communities, according to Chief of the National Police's Security Intelligence Agency Commissioner General Paulus Waterpauw.

In Paulus Waterpauw's point of view, the law enforcement operation against these armed Papuan terrorists is a must because Indonesia is a state based on the rule of law.

Therefore, the Papua conflict should be perceived from a law enforcement perspective because whoever must fulfill Indonesia's rules of law, he argued.

However, in rooting out the separatist terrorist groups from the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, the army and police personnel are suggested to keep upholding and exercising the principles of human rights and rules of law.

Why upholding the principles of human rights matters in Indonesia's endeavors to restore peace and stability in its two provinces?

By respecting the principles of human rights during the law enforcement operations, any case of human rights violations that may potentially damage Indonesia's reputation and create new unnecessary problems within the Papuan communities can be avoided.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) representative in Papua, Frits Ramandei, appealed to security personnel to keep exercising the principles of human rights in their law enforcement operations against armed Papuan terrorists.

"Do not let such those operations create new human rights problems in community. We want the law enforcement approach is prioritized instead of the 'operational approach'," he said in Timika, the capital of Mimika District, on Sunday.

On Friday, at a meeting with Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto and Police Chief Gen.Listyo Sigit Prabowo, Ramandei and several Papuan figures highlighted the importance of respecting human rights and cultural understanding.

The Papuan figures who also attended the meeting were Rector of the Cenderawasih University Apolo Safanpo, Chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI)-Papua Office Islami Al Payage, and Secretary of the Papua Provincial Government Dance Yulian Flassy.

One of the inputs the Papuan figures expressed at the meeting is related to how to protect innocent civilians in Papua from falling victim to the armed and police forces' law enforcement operations.

"We urge the TNI Commander and Police Chief to improve the communication mechanism within units deployed to carry out the operations so that unnecessary problems can be avoided in the operations," Frits Ramandei said.

In addition to that, the army and police personnel stationed in conflict-affected areas in the districts of Puncak, Intan Jaya, and Nduga, must be educated about Papuan culture, and cultural sensitivity and awareness to enable them to understand locals.

By having adequate knowledge of local people's culture, the security personnel could prevent themselves from misjudging a situation when seeing native Papuans with arrows, spears, and machetes as a security threat. They then crackdown on them randomly.

By respecting the principles of human rights and rules of law, the security agencies' law enforcement operations against the armed terrorists in Papua would neither harm individuals who have no connections to members of the armed groups, he argued.

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Five days after the fatal shooting of senior intelligence official Maj. Gen. I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha, the Indonesian government has declared armed Papuan criminal groups as "terrorists".

The decision was announced by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, at an online press conference in Jakarta on April 29, 2021.

In declaring the armed groups as "terrorists", the government has referred to the provisions of Law Number 5 of 2018 on Amendments to Law Number 15 of 2003 on Stipulation of Government Regulations in Lieu of Law Number 1 of 2002 on the Eradication of Criminal Acts of Terrorism.

The law defines terrorists as people who plan, instigate, and organize terrorism, and terrorism as any act motivated by ideology, politics, or security that involves violence or threats of violence, creates a sense of terror or widespread fear, and causes mass casualties or damage or destruction to vital strategic objects, the environment, and public or international facilities.

"Now, based on the definition stated in Law Number 5 of 2018, acts of the KKB and all the names of its organizations and people affiliated with it are related to terrorism," Mahfud announced.

The Indonesian government's decision, which takes cognizance of a string of violent attacks on unarmed and innocent civilians by KKB members in districts such as Puncak and Intan Jaya over the past few years, is justifiable.

Over the past few years, armed Papuan groups have often employed hit-and-run tactics against Indonesian security personnel and mounted acts of terror against civilians in the districts of Intan Jaya, Nduga, and Puncak to instill fear among the people.

The recent targets of such acts of terror have included construction workers, motorcycle taxi (ojek) drivers, teachers, students, street food vendors, and even civilian aircraft.

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

The same day, the armed attackers also killed a soldier, identified as Handoko, and injured two other security personnel, Sugeng and Wahyu.

Such acts of violence have continued this year. On January 6, 2021, at least 10 armed separatist terrorists vandalized and torched a Quest Kodiak aircraft belonging to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) on the Pagamba village airstrip.

On February 8, 2021, a 32-year-old man was shot at close range in Bilogai village, Sugapa sub-district.

The victim, identified by his initials as RNR, sustained gunshot wounds on the face and right shoulder and was taken to the Timika Public Hospital in Mimika district on February 9.

In a separate incident on February 9, six armed Papuans fatally stabbed a motorcycle taxi (ojek) driver.

Then, on April 8, 2021, several armed Papuan rebels opened fire at a kiosk in Julukoma village, Beoga sub-district, Puncak district.

The shooting resulted in the death of a Beoga public elementary school teacher, identified as Oktovianus Rayo.

After killing Rayo, the armed attackers torched three classrooms at the Beoga public senior high school.

On April 9, 2021, armed separatists reportedly fatally shot another teacher, Yonatan Randen, on the chest.

Two days later, nine classrooms at the Beoga public junior high school were set ablaze by an armed group.

And barely four days later, Ali Mom, a student of the Ilaga public senior high school in Beoga sub-district, was brutally killed by armed attackers.

On April 25, 2021, Papuan separatists operating in Beoga ambushed State Intelligence Agency (Papua) chief Nugraha and several security personnel while they were visiting Dambet village.

Following Nugraha's fatal shooting, President Joko Widodo has ordered the TNI and the National Police to hunt down and arrest all members of armed separatist and terrorist groups operating in Papua, saying there is no place for them within Indonesian territory.

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