A recent string of shooting incidents points to a serious security problem in Papua, but the root of the problem is more complex than a group of people trying to gain independence from the Indonesian government.
Other factors such as dissatisfaction with the distribution of profits from Papua’s natural resources, resentment toward the government, efforts to internationalize the conflict and local politics related to regional elections also play a role.
Such complexities have rendered the government ‘helpless’ to overcome the multitude of challenges in the region. The most recent shooting incident in Jayapura and Wamena claimed the lives of two civilians and 43 people have died in shooting incidents since 2009, including security officers.
The government should immediately take action. Violence not only claims lives, it disrupts the daily activities of the local people and government.
As a result of the recent shootings, economic activities have been crippled. Stores and markets in Jayapura and Abepura have been forced to close early. Prior to that, regional head elections were already suspended due to riots in Tolikora regency.
Eradicating acts of terror is not an easy task. The police are concerned because perpetrators mingle with civilians.
The police also often hesitate to take action because they fear being accused of committing human rights violations.
If necessary, the central government should dispatch a counter-terror team to curb the violence. Arresting perpetrators has nothing to do with human rights violations and therefore the police should not hesitate in applying austere measures.
Only through firm actions can peace and civil order be restored.