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Papuans fear increased police violence

New security policy may lead to more persecution

Papuans fear increased police violence
President Yudhoyono has issued a new security policy (Photo/
Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

January 29, 2013

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A new security policy will widen repressive acts by officers in the region, warns an activist priest serving in the conflict-prone province of Papua. 

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued the order on Monday, with the aim of improving conflict management in Indonesia. 

It is intended to establish better cooperation and communication between the military, the police and civil leaders such as governors, district heads and mayors, leading to speedier respsonses in dealing with conflicts. 

“There must no more doubts in taking action or delays in addressing [conflicts]. No one is allowed to stop something preventable from being prevented,” the president said. 

But Father Johanes Djonga told on Tuesday that “Papuans have become victims of violence committed by police officers and military personnel. With the issue of the instruction, I believe police officers and military personnel will become crueler as they get support from the President,” 

Fr Djonga, who received the 2009 Yap Thiam Hien Award, added: “What [Papuans] need is the fulfillment of [their] economic rights, justice and also acknowledgment of their life. If all of these are met, conflicts will slowly disappear."

Politician and journalist Eva Kusuma Sundari also expressed concerns about potential excessive use of force.

“There’s a possibility that, if the instruction is implemented in a conflict-prone province like Papua, more and more security and foreign intervention will be there,” she said. “The instruction is counterproductive to the national integrity.”

Meanwhile, Haris Azhar from the Jakarta-based Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence suggested that the government find the main causes of conflicts instead of issuing the instruction.

“Cases of land disputes, for example, cannot be resolved by deploying a big number of armed forces,” he said. 

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