Indonesia & East Timor News Updates - December 11, 2018

* Separatists in Indonesia's Papua reject surrender, demand referendum
* TNI gives Papua Liberation Army ultimatum to surrender
* Papuans arrested for marking Human Rights Day
* Human Rights Watch calls for end to killings in Papua
* Human Rights Day: Indonesia refuses to reconcile with dark past
* Rise and fall of a political rebel in Indonesia
* Indonesia launches One Map Policy to resolve land conflicts
* Retail sales growth slumps in October: BI


Separatists in Indonesia's Papua reject surrender, demand referendum

Straits Times - December 11, 2018

Jakarta -- Separatist rebels in Indonesia's Papua province who killed a group of workers building a bridge this month have rejected government calls to surrender and instead demanded a referendum to decide the future of the area.

Security forces have launched an operation to hunt down members of the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), which claimed responsibility for killing at least 16 workers and a soldier in the mountainous Nduga area.

The OPM has said it viewed the men as members of the military and casualties in a war against Indonesia's government. Indonesian officials said the workers were civilians.

Papua, the resource-rich western part New Guinea island, has been plagued by a violent separatist conflict since the former Dutch colony was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticised UN-backed referendum in 1969.

In a video posted on YouTube on Monday (Dec 10), OPM spokesman Sebby Sambom read an open letter to President Joko Widodo in which he dismissed calls on their military wing, known as the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), to surrender and start dialogue.

Standing behind the banned separatist Morning Star flag, Sambom demanded Mr Joko hold another referendum for native Papuans to decide whether they want to be integrated with Indonesia.

"TPNPB will not surrender under any circumstances before the independence of the nation of Papua is realised from Indonesian occupation," Sambom said.

"The war will not stop before the demands of the TPNPB are carried out by the government of Indonesia."

He called for unrestricted access to Papua for foreign journalists and for the UN refugee agency and the international Red Cross to help take care of civilians caught up in the conflict.

Sambom confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday the authenticity of the video. A spokesman for President Joko did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2017, a senior government official, in response to a petition to the United Nations for a new referendum, said Papua was a legal part of Indonesia and already incorporated through a referendum process.

The OPM had accused the military of killing civilians in its operations, which it said included bombings. Chief Security Minister Wiranto rejected that accusation, but said soldiers did use grenades in clashes.

Two soldiers were wounded on Tuesday and three separatists had been killed in clashes, the military said.

Since coming to power in 2014, Mr Joko has tried to ease tension in Papua by freeing prisoners, addressing rights concerns and stepping up investment, including through a Trans Papua road.



TNI gives Papua Liberation Army ultimatum to surrender

Radio New Zealand International - December 11, 2018

Indonesia's military (TNI) has given an ultimatum to the West Papua Liberation Army to surrender.

The Liberation Army claimed responsibility for killing up to 31 Indonesians, mainly road construction workers, this month in the Highlands of Papua province.

TNI and police have retrieved 16 bodies from Nduga regency, having deployed a major joint operation there in response to the massacre.

A TNI spokesperson Mohammed Aidi said that the Liberation Army should immediately surrender or be finished.

Colonel Aidi has denied media reports that the military is using aerial bombing against Papuan communities in the Liberation Army's stronghold area.

He said at present the joint forces have captured and occupied Nduga's Yigi and Mbua districts, and that villagers who fled from fighting to the bush are starting to return.

The TNI's response to the massacre has reportedly caused four fatalities among civilians, according to local media.

However, Colonel Aidi said that given the area where casualties were reported, it was unlikely they were pure civilians but rather those linked to the perpetrators of the massacre.

Colonel Aidi disputed claims by a Liberation Army spokesman that the TNI has breached an agreed combat zone in this escalating conflict.

Referring to the Liberation Army as an armed criminal group, he said its style is guerilla fighting which knows no limits, accusing it of cowardice.

The TNI has also urged Papua's provincial and district governments to not be silent about the conflict.

Colonel Aidi said it was the duty of such office holders to honour their commitment to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.



Papuans arrested for marking Human Rights Day

Radio New Zealand International - December 11, 2018

Reports from Indonesia indicated as many as 90 Papuans were taken in by police in Timika after holding a public event to support human rights. A lawyer representing Papuans, Veronica Koman, said another 41 were arrested in Merauke.

The pro-independence West Papua National Committee, or KNPB, has issued a statement saying its activists were among those taken in by police in Timika.

Offices of the KNPB's secretariat around Papua region were raided by police on 1 December, the anniversary of 1961's West Papuan declaration of independence. Police arrested around 500 people for marking the anniversary last week.



Human Rights Watch calls for end to killings in Papua

Radio New Zealand International - December 11, 2018

Human Rights Watch is calling on Papuan militants to stop unlawful killings, after a massacre of Indonesians took place in the Highlands region.

The West Papua Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the murders of at least 16 construction workers and a soldier this month. The Liberation Army said the workers were Indonesian military in disguise.

Military and police have deployed a joint operation in Nduga regency, calling for the fighters to surrender.

Human Rights Watch's Australia director Elaine Pearson said the attack raised grave concerns and must be investigated.

But security forces should be transparent and not commit abuses in retaliation, Ms Pearson said. Journalists should also be allowed to operate independently in the area, she said.

"The situation in Nduga is muddled in large part because no journalists can independently go into the area to interview witnesses and verify what happened," Ms Pearson said.

"Having independent monitors on the ground will help deter abuses by both the militants and security forces, which would benefit all Papuans."



Human Rights Day: Indonesia refuses to reconcile with dark past

Tempo - December 11, 2018

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta -- National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) Governor Agus Widjojo said Indonesia was not ready yet to reconcile with severe human rights violation in the past. He added that Indonesians had not achieved the required moral foundation to achieve that level yet.

"The Indonesian public is not prepared to enter reconciliation. Why? We have yet to obtain the moral high ground," said Agus today in his speech at the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day at Hotel Royal Kuningan, South Jakarta.

Agus said human rights violators shared the same amount of sin, yet both parties had shown signs that they could not fully accept the dark past, said Agus, who is a survivor of one of Indonesia's bleak historical past, the September 30, 1965 purge.

Agus took the 1965 purge as an example, saying that many had failed to mention that the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) had also been accountable for numerous violations prior to October 2, 1965.

"From the state's point of view, the government has a major sin. But they could not move on from 'the state can do no wrong' perception," said Agus.

Agus went on to say that reconciliation was still hampered by the misconception adopted by state agencies, which often protected its personnel that were guilty of criminal violations in hopes of defending their organization's reputation.

Furthermore, Agus deems that moral high ground measures a civilization's maturity and is deeply necessary. And without it, he continued, reconciliation would be impossible.

"This goes to show that our civilization is not that advanced. We are still locked in a culture based on vengeance, a culture of violence," said Agus. Agus then gave an example of the human rights court formed to handle the Serbian case, Yugoslavia, and Cambodia.

However, he said that Japan was able to cover its dark past during the second world war in the name of national interest. "That is an example of how difficult it is to resolve past human rights violations," said Agus.



Rise and fall of a political rebel in Indonesia

Asia Times - December 11, 2018

John McBeth, Jakarta -- He has fallen a long way since evolving from an independence fighter into Aceh's first democratically elected two-term governor, but Irwandi Yusuf's shock indictment on corruption charges throws light on the ugly political underbelly of a province that once earned sympathy around the world.

The latest in a growing line of Indonesian public officials accused of official malfeasance, Irwandi appeared before the Jakarta Corruption Court in late November on three offenses allegedly committed during his first term as governor in 2007-2012 and following his re-election in early 2017.

The 58-year-old politician is charged with two counts of unlawfully accepting unsolicited gratuities worth 40.7 billion rupiah (US$2.8 million) and also with taking 1.05 billion ($72,400) in bribes for allocating infrastructure projects to favored companies in the central regency of Bener Meriah.

There is no evidence to support claims that the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, Indonesia's most trusted institution, is taking sides in the struggle within a badly split Aceh leadership. In fact, sources close to the KPK say other Aceh figures are also under investigation for similar offenses.

"Judging from the current behavior of the GAM elites, they are shivering with fright at the prospect of similar corruption charges," says Otto Syamsuddin Ishak, a sociologist and chairman of the provincial human rights commission who believes Irwandi's fall was purely of his own making.

The now-suspended governor has been in a long-standing feud with old guard members of the Aceh Party (PA), the political vehicle of the disbanded Free Aceh Movement (GAM), whose 25-year armed struggle against the central government ended with the devastating 2004 tsunami, which claimed 167,000 lives.

"GAM's old guard will see this as a way of getting him out of politics," says another Acehnese analyst who requested anonymity, pointing to business interests and lucrative local government contracts as the underlying reason behind an ongoing conflict marked by assassinations and other violence in the only Indonesian province allowed to practice full Sharia law.

The indictments came only days after the graft-fighting commission surprisingly announced that Aceh had received the highest score in its 2017 Integrity Evaluation Index, an annual survey which put the country's other autonomous region, Papua, in last place.

Aceh was granted eight trillion rupiah (US$551 million) in special autonomy funds from the central government in 2018, bringing to 56 trillion rupiah (US$3.8 billion) the amount of money it has received since Aceh and Papua began receiving the funding in 2008.

The money is meant to be spent on education, health, infrastructure, economic empowerment, poverty reduction and social welfare, but Syiah Kuala University researcher Mirza Ardi claims "predatory elites" have been sucking up the funds through rigged government contracts.

"To make special autonomy more effective, the central government must intervene to monitor the implementation of the funding and to establish the rule of law to combat corruption," he wrote in an opinion piece last May.

It is a view shared by Indonesian Corruption Watch, an independent nongovernmental organization, which complains there is a lack of internal control in budget planning and that the home affairs ministry needs to improve its overall supervision of the Special Autonomy Fund.

Born in Biruen, a GAM hotspot on Aceh's northeast coast, Irwandi was captured by government intelligence agents in Jakarta in 2003, five years after joining the armed struggle, and sentenced to nine years' imprisonment.

He escaped from the shattered Banda Aceh prison in the chaotic aftermath of the 2004 tsunami and fled to Finland, finally hooking up with the exiled GAM leadership in Sweden where he became coordinator of negotiations with the Indonesian government.

Following the landmark 2005 Helsinki peace agreement, the US-trained veterinarian entered politics, winning the 2007 gubernatorial race with 38.2% of the vote and topping the polls in 15 of the war-weary province's 21 regencies.

Facing off against five other candidates, he was recognized for his integrity and political astuteness. But over the years the split in GAM ranks widened, hastened by the death in 2010 of unifying leader Hasan di Tiro, who had lived for decades in exile in Sweden.

In the 2012 gubernatorial election, Irwandi ran as an independent and was soundly beaten 55.9% to 29.2% by the movement's former "foreign minister," Zaini Abdullah, and his running mate Muzakir Manaf, GAM's one-time military commander.

But as head of the renamed Nanggroe Aceh Party (PNA) -- one of four local parties permitted under the autonomy laws -- Irwandi made a comeback five years later, this time with the backing of ex-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democrat Party.

Campaigning on a platform of corruption-free government and easy access to education and health care, he was elected to a second term in February 2017. But he soon found his policies and programs being blocked by the Aceh Party-dominated provincial parliament.

During his first term, Irwandi had also faced an uphill battle trying to curb the application of full Sharia law, never part of GAM's independence struggle, but later a tool used by some of its leaders to win the support of influential conservative clerics.

Although Islamic courts have long handled cases of marriage, divorce and inheritance, Sharia has been practiced in the province to a limited degree since 1999, when pluralist president Abdurrahman Wahid offered it as part of an inducement to bring GAM to the negotiating table.

Two years later, special autonomy legislation passed by Indonesia's Parliament gave the Aceh courts a green light to extend their reach into criminal justice, with subsequent legislation empowering the local government to set policies on religious life, custom and education.

The process of actually transforming the devoutly Muslim province into a slice of the Middle East began shortly after the 2005 peace accord when public canings were introduced for gambling, the sale and consumption of alcohol, and illicit sexual relations.

Since then, the increasingly zealous religious police, which like the rest of the bureaucracy has a vested interest in perpetuating its own power, is also dictating what women wear and encouraging neighbors to report on one another on morality issues.

In 2014, then-governor Abdullah and the new Aceh Party leadership pushed through a provincial regulation that increased the number of offenses punishable by caning and provided penalties for certain transgressions that could be applied to non-Muslims.

He also signed into law another qanun, or statutory regulation, under which no less than 5% of the provincial and district budgets must be allocated to implementing Islamic law in a province where education and health spending is already among the lowest in the country.

Within weeks of assuming office for a second time, Irwandi took the bold step of calling for an end to public canings -- usually carried out in front of mosques after Friday prayers -- in an effort to improve Aceh's international image, tarnished further by the recent well-publicized flogging of two gay men.

In the end, the ban never went into force, testimony to the difficulty found elsewhere in Indonesia in rowing back scores of Islamic bylaws that have been passed in seeming defiance of the Constitution and which have contributed to growing religious intolerance across the archipelago.

Ishak paints a grim picture of the political landscape in a province that remains the poorest on the island of Sumatra with 16% of its 5.1 million-strong population still below the poverty line. "Today, all political groups tied to GAM are split," he says. "In fact, that was the case among the Aceh people themselves after the conflict ended."

"It has been proven that the GAM elite have all failed as leaders, whether as governor, House speaker or mayor," he says. "But while that means the former combatants have failed, it does not mean new leaders cannot emerge from the grooming of political cadres in the Aceh Party or from outside the elite."

In Aceh today, there is only one real question: Will those same leaders who made so many sacrifices in the struggle for independence now be willing to let go? Or will their greed ultimately lead to their own destruction?

[With additional reporting by Syamsul Bahri, Banda Aceh.]



Indonesia launches One Map Policy to resolve land conflicts

Jakarta Post - December 11, 2018

Riza Roidila Mufti, Jakarta -- President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo launched the One Map Policy Geoportal (KSP Geoportal) on Tuesday as a national information portal to serve as a point of reference for land use planning by all government institutions and the general public.

Jokowi said he expected the one-map policy to address the issue of overlapping land claims in the country. "In our country, there is too much overlap in land use planning. The problem occurs anywhere," the President said when introducing the policy.

To underline his point, he explained that in Kalimantan alone, 19.3 percent or 10.4 million hectares of the island's 53.98 million ha of land were subject to overlapping land utilization plans.

Under the one-map policy, the government could identify plots of land with overlapping utilization plans, Jokowi said, adding that with the data in the One Map Policy Geoportal, the government could immediately resolve the problem.

Jokowi instructed the ministries and other government institutions to immediately take action to resolve any overlap in land utilization planning by using data from the geoportal.

With the one-map policy, the government has integrated 83 thematic maps. Two thematic maps have not yet been integrated, namely the National Sea Spatial Plan Map (RTRLN), which is being produced, and the subdistrict and village border map. The two were in the process of integration.

The President stressed that the geoportal is the reference for all institutions and the public to learn about land use planning.

There are three main activities under the one-map policy -- compilation and collection of thematic maps; integration and correction of thematic maps based on basic map; and synchronization and solving overlapping thematic maps.

The integrated thematic maps have been entered into the KSP Geoportal at

"With this policy, development can be more accurately planned, not only based on data, but also based on the map," said, the President, adding that the ministries, government institutions and regional administrations had to start using the integrated thematic maps as the main point of reference for implementing development policies. (bbn)



Retail sales growth slumps in October: BI

Jakarta Post - December 11, 2018

Jakarta -- Bank Indonesia's survey on the retail sector has shown that sales growth in October declined to less than half the figure in September.

The BI survey records a 2.9 percent year-on-year (yoy) retail sales index (RSI) for October, lower than the 4.8 percent yoy RSI for September.

The highest growth was recorded in clothing and public transportation fuel, which respectively contributed 24.6 percent and 17.9 percent, says BI, adding that the RSI was expected to increase in November and December due to the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

The central bank added that retail sales growth in November and December would still be driven by sales in clothing and public transport fuel, as well as recreational goods.

BI projects that high prices would continue to pressure retail sales in the first months of 2019, as indicated by an increase in the price expectation index (IEH) to 163.9, compared to an IEH of 159.3 in its previous survey.

The increase in prices was in line with producers' planned adjustments in early 2019, it said.

The bank added that inflationary pressures would start to calm in April 2019 as indicated by a decline in the IEH from 173.3 to 172.4 in March.

Bank Indonesia also projected that retail sales growth would again slow in January 2019 following the yearend holiday season, as indicated by a decline in RSI from 165.9 to Rp 156.0 in December. (bbn)



Asia Pacific Solidarity Network (APSN)