Winning the people’s hearts in Papua

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Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak Senior Researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies, National University of the Republic of Indonesia-Bandung

IO – The Papua Regional Police noted that there were 23 cases of armed gangs in the jurisdiction of the Jayawijaya, Puncakjaya, Mimika and Paniai District Police throughout 2019, resulting in the deaths of 10 TNI-Polri members and 10 civilians.

The Republika newspaper, Monday, December 30, 2019, also reported that armed criminal gangs are still a concern of the Papua Regional Police, because many new faces had appeared, including Egianus Kagoya, the leader of what is known as an “Armed Separatist Criminal Group” (KKSB) in Nduga Regency, responsible for the killing of dozens of Trans Papua road workers in late 2018.

The conflict that has struck Papua must end immediately, as innumerable victims have fallen, either civilians, TNI / Polri members or from the KKB gangs themselves – not to mention the number of refugees fleeing to avoid armed clashes between the authorities and the KKB.

The root of the problem
Following the reformation period in Indonesia, the Government considered that the main problem in Papua was welfare, and the solution was therefore to accelerate economic development, to improve the welfare of the people.

Through Law Number 21 the Year 2001 regarding Papua’s Special Autonomy, the Central Government disbursed trillions of Rupiah of special autonomy funds each year to the Provinces of Papua and West Papua. Infrastructure development has been encouraged since the beginning of Joko Widodo’s administration. The seriousness of the Government is also shown by the issuance of Presidential Instruction No. 9 of 2017 concerning the Acceleration of Welfare Development in Papua and West Papua.

In line with this welfare approach, the government also chose a legal approach in which the National Police played a central role. Even in the face of the KKB, the apparatus “has not” used special laws such as the Terrorist Eradication Act.

However, in view of the fact that KKB action is still happening, there is nothing wrong with the Government reviewing the main issues of the case and deciding how to reset it.

If referring to the results of the Study Team of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Papua Road Map (2009), the source of the Papua conflict includes four strategic issues, namely, the history of the integration of Papua into the territory of the Republic of Indonesia and the political identity of the Papuan people; political violence and human rights violations; the failure of Papuan development and the inconsistency of the Government in the implementation of Otsus, and the marginalization of Papuans.

Concerning the four sources of conflict, the solutions offered by LIPI are (1) dialogue, (2) the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, (3) new strategies in Papuan development and (4) target recognition.

Thus, just relying on the welfare approach alone is certainly not enough, particularly if the welfare approach is not entirely on target.

Because of that, what is interesting also from the LIPI findings is related to the actors. If simplified, at least seven actors in the Papua conflict may be discerned: the Government, OPM, Papua Council Presidium (PDP), Papua Customary Council, the Church, and Religious Institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations and traditional leaders (or tribal headmen).

The local government is Pro-NKRI, the OPM-PDP is pro-independence and the rest are in the middle, or undecided.

For pro-independence groups, the source of conflict is not related to welfare or development issues at all. They only concentrate on the first two sources of the four sources of conflict mentioned above. In particular, the OPM, which was established in 1965 and whose objective was to influence the results of the Popular Consultation (Pepera) in 1969.

The support of the people of Papua and the international community for this pro-independence group will increase if the Government fails to receive support from the middle group, for whom the source of conflict is the failure of development, special autonomy, political violence and human rights violations.

In my opinion, this warning deserves attention from the Government, especially if you look at “Updating the Papua Road Map” (2017) published by LIPI, to re-analyze the dynamics of the conflict and problems of Papua and see the relevance of the Papua Road Map to the current situation.

In general, the problems and solutions offered are still relevant. In Updating the Papua Road Map, only two things are emphasized. First, from dialogue only as a solution to an approach to all sources of conflict. Second, the emergence of new actors.

The new actors are the Papua Peace Network (JDP), the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL), the West Papua National Parliament (PNWP), and the Federal Republic of West Papua (NRFPB). JDP belongs to the middle group. Three more are pro-independence.

Each of the three pro-independence groups has a mass base, militias, and international networks. Even to consolidate the movement towards Papuan independence, the three are united in the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) forum so that they increasingly project a presence in the international scene. ULMWP has even been accepted as an observer in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), an organization of countries with Melanesian cultural backgrounds.

Insurgency game
Thus, the Papuan pro-independence group not only relies on weapons, but utilizes various means and momentum to achieve its goals.

After all, no rebellion in any country has won a war only by force of arms. The insurgents maintain their armed forces only to show the existence of resistance to the local population and the international community (Prabowo, 2016).

Thus, the independence of East Timor must be a valuable lesson, taken to heart so that it does not happen again. In the case of East Timor, for example, the TNI did not lose the battle against the Fretilin insurgents, but we lost the war. We lost against a Ramos Horta in winning the hearts of the international world, plus the presence of certain state interventions in the East Timor Independence effort. We also failed in winning the hearts of the people; it was revealed when we lost the referendum.

The insurgency itself is marked by the presence of non-state actors against state actors, using political and military resources to seize state power (Karnavian, 2017). What the Indonesian Government is currently facing in Papua is a very dangerous separatist insurgent act, and must be resolved immediately.

When referring to Louis Richardson (as quoted by Karnavian), there are at least three ways to overcome insurgency: (1) providing solutions to people’s dissatisfaction, (2) stopping their organizations, and (3) neutralizing ideologies that allow and encourage violence.

Most importantly, the true strength of the Republic of Indonesia is the people who live in areas where insurgents take action. The war against insurgents (rebels) is a war to win the hearts and minds of the people.

So, the civil and military apparatus must join hands with the people to fight against insurgent actions together. Papua is Indonesia, and it must remain so; then a new path to maintain and increase the love of the people of Papua for the Republic of Indonesia must be taken, so that the peace of Papua, the peace of Indonesia can be realized.