Indonesian Police on Watch for Separatists In Papua PDF Afdrukken

Police in Jayapura and five districts across Papua and West Papua were put on alert as authorities tightened security ahead of the Free Papua Movement separatist group’s anniversary today.

Papua Police spokesman Agus Rianto said officers in Jayapura, Wamena, Timika, Nabire and Puncak Jaya in Papua and Manokwari in West Papua had been instructed to conduct searches for weapons following three flag-raising incidents in the provincial capital Jayapura by suspected supporters of the low-level separatists, also known as the OPM.

Mimika Police Chief Adj. Comr. Muhammad Sagih on Monday said he had also deployed 400 personnel around the district after receiving reports that several groups believed to be OPM supporters would raise the banned Morning Star flag in district capital Timika and in some other neighboring areas.

The OPM, a poorly organized group that has been pushing for the province’s independence since the 1960s, regularly celebrates its anniversary on Dec. 1 by raising the Morning Star flag.

In Jakarta, military spokesman Air Vice Marshal Sagom Tamboen said that no additional troops would be deployed to the region.

“The security situation will be handled by local police, while soldiers will only assist if they are needed,” he said.

However, Tamboen did acknowledge that there would likely be some special patrols by local security officers to ensure that the province remained safe.

“We’ve anticipated the situation to prevent any possibility of violence taking place there,” he said, adding that the military hoped local residents would not raise any other flag aside from the national colors.

Joe Collins, an activist from the Sydney-based Australia West Papua Association, a nongovernmental advocacy group for the people of both Papua and West Papua, said on Monday that it was concerned that the security forces would use any raising of the Morning Star as an excuse to crack down on the Papuan people.

“The first of December is such an important date in West Papuan history that there is bound to be a number of flag raisings in the territory,” he said in a statement released to the media. “We call on the Australian government to urge the Indonesian president to control his security forces in West Papua.”

Collins argued that banning the raising of the flag was in direct contravention of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which had also been ratified by the Indonesian government.

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media,” he said.

Tamboen said no other country in the world would allow the raising of a flag that had secessionist connotations.

“We will prevent such flag raisings,” he insisted.