Jakarta sends 21,000 troops to Papua over last three years, says KNPB

Indonesian troops for Intan Jaya
A TNI Super Puma helicopter ferries Indonesian troops to Soko Paki, Sugapa, Intan Jaya, in Decenber 2019. Image: Suara Papua

By Arnold Belau in Nabire

Victor Yeimo, international spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), has revealed that over the past three years the Indonesian state has sent 21,369 troops to the land of Papua.

Yeimo said that based on data from the media and public official statements, the number of non-organic TNI (Indonesian military) that have been sent to the land of Papua over the last three years stands at 21,609, comprising 10,000 in 2019, 8000 in 2020 and 3609 in the first three months of 2021.

In three years, Indonesia has sent 21,000 troops to Papua.

“This doesn’t include data on the number of Kopassus (Special Forces) [troops], it doesn’t count the number of territorial troops in the two provinces (the Cenderawasih and Kasuari regional military commands). It doesn’t count the number of non-organic and organic Polri [Indonesian police] in the two provinces. [And] it doesn’t count the civilian militia armed by the state in Papua”, said Yeimo.

Yeimo explained on his Facebook page at the weekend that this massive deployment of military to Papua reinforced the fact that Papua was a military operation zone.

The aim of sending thousands of troops, he said, was to occupy and secure the state’s business interests and the illegal business belonging to the generals.

This meant Papua had truly become a protectorate where life and death was controlled by military force.

“The Papuan nation must confront the threat of militarism through the unity of the power of the ordinary people who are consolidated and led,” he said.

“Trust that the subject and object of a revolution is the ordinary people who are in motion and do not submit to the colonialists. This is currently being proven in Myanmar: the ordinary people are resisting militarism by peaceful and dignified means.”

As quoted by jubi.co.id, the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) in Papua’s coordinator for justice, peace and oneness of creation, Pastor Leonora Balubun, said that the state continued to send troops to various parts of Papua, including Intan Jaya.

According to Balubun, the government is unwilling to listen to the calls and criticism of those asking for all non-organic troops to be withdrawn from Indonesia’s eastern-most province.

“We ask for the troops to be withdrawn from Papua. But the state responses by sending more troops. Yet the state knows that the Papuan people are afraid (traumatised) by the military” said Balubun.

Hard to get data on TNI in Papua
The Papuan Regional House of Representatives (DPRP) said that it was difficult to get data and information on the number of non-organic troops sent to the different parts of Papua every year.

DPRP Deputy Speaker Yunus Wonda said that even Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe, as the regional leader, probably did not know how many non-organic troops were routinely sent to the land of the Cenderawasih, as Papua is known.

“Indeed in relation to the number of non-organic troops we don’t know. Even perhaps the governor as the head of the region doesn’t know”, said Wonda as quoted by Jubi.com.id.

According to Wonda, it is impossible that the DPRP would receive official reports each time troops are sent to Papua.

The reason being that this is central government policy and the security institutions also have their own regulations and channels of command, separate from government regulations and systems.

“We we are always asking the central government not to send excessive troops. The number of TNI and Polri personnel here are enough, it’s functional,” he said.

It was unnecessary to sent excessive troops from outside, as if Papua was under a state of war, said Wonda.

Wonda said it would be better if the central government trusted in the regional police chiefs and regional military commanders. The TNI and police leadership in Papua were capable of overcoming the problems in different parts of Papua because they understood and knew what approach to take.

“This makes us ashamed in the eyes of the international community, right. We confront our own people as if we’re in a war zone. The troops which arrive from outside don’t understand the character of indigenous communities,” he said.

Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was “Victor Yeimo: Dalam Tiga Tahun Negara Sudah Kirim 21 Ribu Anggota ke Papua”.

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