President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has largely avoided responding to claims of a heavy-handed security crackdown in Papua following the deadly dispersal of a pro-independence rally last week, saying only that security personnel violating any laws will be duly punished.
“They are there doing their duty for the state. If during the course of that duty they commit any infractions, they will not be exempted from punishment,” he said at a cabinet meeting in Jakarta on Thursday (27/10).
He added that while the security forces would be kept strictly in check in the wake of the recent upsurge in violence in Papua, there would be no concessions for other groups inciting violence.
“Anyone found engaging in the kind of violence that we have seen there lately will be processed to the fullest extent of the law in order to keep the peace,” the president said.
Yudhoyono called on military and police chiefs to ensure their personnel in Papua did not use excessive force or go beyond their orders in the restive province, which has been gripped by a spate of violent attacks that have resulted in at least 12 deaths in recent weeks.
The president stressed it was important that the response to the situation be calm and not influenced by the violence on the ground. “The government must keep a clear head. So, too, must our brothers over there and the international nongovernmental organizations concerned with this issue,” he said.
“Our policies to date [on Papua] have been the right ones.”
He denied Papua and West Papua were still a theater of massive military operations, saying the military and police presence there was meant to keep the peace and ensure justice in the case of security disruptions by separatists.
He also ordered military and police chiefs, as well as the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, Djoko Suyanto, to initiate a dialogue with NGOs that were critical of the administration in Jakarta and the way it was dealing with the problems in the easternmost provinces.
“Host a dialogue with Amnesty International,” Yudhoyono said.
“Make it clear to them what our fundamental position on Papua is, so that there is no longer any misunderstanding. The government of Indonesia has always been very open in dealing with their allegations of human rights abuses in the two provinces. We stand fully accountable for our policies there.”
Amnesty has called for the release of at least 14 participants of the independence rally still being held by police. More than 300 were arrested and at least six killed, although police deny their personnel were responsible for the deaths.
Source: The Jakarta Globe