The Intan Jaya conflict 3: New autonomous region, new conflict

Brimob in Intan Jaya
Brimob (Mobile Brigade) violence in Intan Jaya, Papua. Image: Jubi infographic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Victor Mambor in Jayapura – final article of a three-part investigation into the Pastor Yeremia Zanambani assassination

Intan Jaya district in Papua, especially Sugapa district and Hitadipa district, is not the TPNPB (West Papua National Liberation Army) operational area. Intan Jaya regency is a new autonomous region (DOB) resulting from the division of Paniai regency.[1]

Intan Jaya regency was formed with the promulgation of the Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 54 of 2008 on November 26, 2008. Intan Jaya consists of six districts that were previously part of Paniai regency – Agisiga, Biandoga, Hitadipa, Homeyo, Sugapa, Wandai.[2]

In 2013, there were two additional districts in Intan Jaya, Ugimba (the result of the division of Sugapa district) and Tomosiga district (the result of the division of Agisiga district. The addition of these districts was accompanied by an increase in the number of villages to 97 villages.

Until the early part of the division, generally the social problems in Intan Jaya were in the form of fights between residents, barriers and addiction to alcohol. However, there was no armed conflict involving security actors such as the TNI (Indonesia National Army), Polri (Indonesia National Police), and the TPNPB armed group.

After 11 years of formation, Intan Jaya district has not been effective in improving education services for its 49,293 inhabitants. The local government of Intan Jaya regency has failed to address the problems of low-quality of human resources, poverty, unequal economic growth, underdevelopment, and isolation.

This has an impact on the low competitiveness of Intan Jaya regency.[3]

Intan Jaya district’s HDI (Human Development Index) achievement is still lower than that of Papua province. In 2015, the IPM (Human Development Index) of Intan Jaya regency was still at 44, 35, while Papua province had reached 57, 25.

Lack of educational facilities
The lack of educational facilities, as well as a limited teaching staff, affects the teaching and learning process and the literacy rate there. In 2019, according to the Intan Jaya Education and Teaching Office, there were only 47 schools, consisting of 3 TK (kindergarten) units, 36 SD (elementary school) units, 7 SMP (junior high school) units, and 1 SMA (senior high school) unit.

Intan Jaya has 222 teachers consisting of 6 kindergarten teachers, 138 elementary school teachers, 67 junior high school teachers, and 11 high school teachers.[4]

Health facilities in Intan Jaya also remain minimal. The Intan Jaya Health Office noted that there are 24 health facilities, which rely on eight Community Health Centres (puskesmas) that are spread evenly in eight Intan Jaya districts.

Intan Jaya profile
The profile of the Intan Jaya regency in Papua. Image: Tabloid Jubi

A total of eight puskesmas are assisted by 13 units of Auxiliary Puskesmas (pustu) which are only in Homeyo District and Wandai District and two units of medical centres. Intan Jaya only has one Regional General Hospital unit which occupies the Sugapa Puskesmas building. There are also no maternity homes and pharmacies in Intan Jaya.

The lack of health facilities in Intan Jaya has made it difficult for people to reach good health services. To get better health services, people have to make long trips to Nabire or Timika.[5]

The establishment of Intan Jaya Regency failed to improve the quality of public services for its citizens. On the other hand, Intan Jaya has actually experienced a number of impacts from the expansion, including new conflicts rooted in local political issues, or violence perpetrated by security forces such as the police or the army.

In the 2014 General Election, there was a dispute regarding the results of the election for Intan Jaya Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) Candidates and accusations of vote mark-up.[6]

Security forces cause friction
Apart from the dispute over the Legislative Election of the Intan Jaya DPRD (Intan Jaya People Representative Council), the presence of security forces in Sugapa, the capital of Intan Jaya regency, has also created new friction.

On 29 September 2014, a resident who was previously involved in a fight with two Brimob members was shot.[7] Seprianus Japugau (22) received a gunshot wound to the stomach, while Benyamin Agimbau (30) was seriously injured because he was hit by a gun butt.[8]

After that, there were at least seven cases of intimidation or physical clashes between Brimob and civilians. A number of these cases included the shooting by the Brimob unit of Malon Sondegau in Sugapa on 25 August 2016 (wounded and still alive).

Another case was the shooting of the Mobile Brigade against Otinus Sondegau (killed) in Sugapa on 27 August 2016, which caused a mass rage and the burning of the Sugapa Sector police headquarters.[9] There is one other case of violence that also involved security forces, the stabbing that killed the head of the Kemandoga tribe Ijihogama Selegani in Homeyo in December 2015.[10]

A bigger conflict occurred when the regional head election (Pilkada) was held to elect the Regent and Deputy Regent of Intan Jaya for the 2017-2022 period. The Pilkada led to disputes and clashes between sympathizers of the regent candidate pair Yulius Yapugau-Yunus Kalabetme and incumbent Natalis Tabuni-Robert Kobogoyauw.

The Pilkada case began with a clash between sympathizers of the candidates that took place at the Intan Jaya General Election Commission (KPU) office on 23 February 2017. At that time, the supporters of Yulius Yapugau-Yunus Kalabetme asked the KPU to speed up the process of counting the votes for the Intan Jaya Pilkada. The request was rejected, because the KPU Intan Jaya had not received the recapitulation of votes from Wandai district and Agisiga district.[11]

As a result, there were clashes between supporters which killed three people. A number of 101 other residents were injured.[12].

400 police dispatched
The Papua Police immediately dispatched 400 police officers to Intan Jaya. A total of 30 Brimob from Bali who were previously in Dogiyai district were also transferred to Intan Jaya.[13] The recapitulation of the vote acquisition was finally completed by KPU Intan Jaya on 24 February 2017.

However, on 15 May 2017, the Papua General Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) rejected the results of the Intan Jaya Pilkada recapitulation. Bawaslu assessed that many administrative requirements were not fulfilled by the Intan Jaya KPU. The problem then became a dispute by the Constitutional Court (MK).

The Constitutional Court ordered the Re-Voting (PSU) at 7 different polling stations.[14] On August 29, 2017, Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Arief Hidayat, read out the verdict, declaring Natalis Tabuni and Robert Kobogoyauw to win the 2017 Intan Jaya Pilkada with 36,883 votes.

This ruling also cancelled the decision of the KPU Intan Jaya which won Yulius Yapugau and Yunus Kalabetme.[15]

The Constitutional Court’s decision sparked protests and the dismissal of Sugapa airport. A number of Intan Jaya regency government offices in Sugapa were burned by the masses. The rampage of the masses paralysed economic activity in Sugapa, because most of the stalls and markets chose to close.

The indigenous people chose to stay indoors, while some migrants chose to flee to the police and military headquarters.[16]

After the mass rampage in Sugapa, 100 Brimob Detachment A Polda (regional police) of South Sulawesi were sent to Intan Jaya to guard vital objects, such as airports and government offices.[17]

After being inaugurated as Regent of Intan Jaya on December 12, 2017, Natalis Tabuni stated that he would reconcile all political opponents. However, these efforts were not fully implemented.

The 2017 Pilkada conflict made it difficult for the Intan Jaya regency government to mediate the various new conflicts that occurred there.

Translated from the original Tabloid Jubi article by a special Pacific Media Watch correspondent. Jubi articles are republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.

[1] Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor: 54 Tahun 2008, tentang pembentukan Kabupaten Intan Jaya (Acts of the Republic of Indonesia Number: 54 of 2008, concerning the establishment of the Intan Jaya Regency).

















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