Markus Junianto Sihaloho
A senior legislator has blamed unnamed foreign parties for the deteriorating security condition in Papua province amid speculation about the involvement of security forces and separatist rebels in a recent series of shootings there.
Tubagus Hasanuddin, deputy chairman of House of Representatives Commission I, which oversees security and foreign affairs, claimed on Sunday that the distribution of the attacks across the province suggested they were highly coordinated events and not isolated incidents.
“I think there’s a possibility of a foreign hand playing around in Papua,” he said at a news conference in Jakarta.
“Just looking at the spread of the incidents and the timing, it’s clear that these shootings have been organized very carefully and systematically, and the targets chosen for a reason.”
“These attacks have been well-planned and funded through local operators on the ground,” he added.
Tubagus, a former military intelligence officer, said he believed the attacks, all of which have involved unknown gunmen firing on civilians or security officers, were meant to stoke separatist sentiment in the restive province.
“Meanwhile, the security forces, in particular the intelligence community, has been powerless in uncovering the powers behind all these incidents and are instead pointing the finger at one another,” the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) legislator said.
He called for both increased intelligence efforts and pressure on the diplomatic front to resolve the problem, insisting that the government’s political will to delve into the issue would be the key to success.
Tubagus was speaking two days after a delegation of legislators from House Commission I arrived in Papua to assess the security situation there. At least 13 civilians and 15 security officers have been killed in a spate of attacks by unknown gunmen during the past 18 months.
Commission chairman Mahfudz Siddiq said that addressing the security situation in Papua would not solve the chronic underlying issues plaguing the province.
He said that those could only be tackled through dialogue with religious and community leaders, adding that Commission I would work with the government to establish better communication between all parties.
The legislators also met with members of the provincial chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), who claimed they were being targeted and could not speak freely on what they knew about the security situation.
“There are many things we would have liked to tell the legislators, but we can’t because we need more protection,” Victor Mambor, the AJI Papua chairman, said on Saturday.
He claimed that intelligence agents from the police and military had infiltrated many local news organizations, and that journalists in Papua were increasingly on the receiving end of threats, beatings, torture and even murder.
He cited the case of Jorsul Satuan, a TVOne reporter who was attacked by unknown assailants while filming in Abepura on Thursday.
Additional reporting from Antara