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Less security key to peace, activist says

Suggest reversing heavy deployment of military and police in restive province

Father Neles K. Tebay speaks during the launch of his new book on peace in Papua Father Neles K. Tebay speaks during the launch of his new book on peace in Papua
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • May 30, 2012
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There have been 15 shootings so far this year in ongoing civil unrest in Papua, according to an activist priest in the region who is urging the government to abandon its high security approach.

Putting an end to the high security approach – increased deployment of police and military force in conflict areas – will pave the way towards peace in the region, said Father Neles Kebadabi Tebay.

“So far, the face of Indonesia in Papua is often identified with violence committed by security personnel,” Fr. Tebay said during the launch of his new book Angkat Pena Demi Dialog Papua (Raise a Pen for Dialogue in Papua) in Jakarta.

Easing the security situation in the region will take political will and commitment from the central government, he said.

“Trying to resolve conflicts using high security measures, in fact, increases the the number of human rights violations,” he said.

Papuans have long called for dialogue in order to deal with problems in a mature, humane, just and dignified way, said Fr Tebay, who is also coordinator of the Papuan Peace Network.

Some academics agree the government needs to change its approach.

“How could Indonesia, whose constitution recognizes everyone’s right to live independently, have a region where people have faced intimidation, torture and killing for more than 40 years?” asked Father Franz Magnis-Suseno, a lecturer at the Jakarta-based Driyarkara School of Philosophy.

Thamrin Amal Tomagola, a sociologist from the state-run University of Indonesia, regards the presence of security personnel in Papua as ineffective.

“I get the impression that they are lazy and are intentionally not conducting investigations," and directly point the finger at civilians who are accused of being part of the Free Papua Movement, he said.

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