Withdraw troops from Papua to avoid confrontation: Indonesian analyst

Troops guarded a gas station in Merauke District, Papua, Tuesday (Sept 3, 2019). (ANTARA/HO/Merauke District Police's Documentation). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.


JAKARTA, Sep 7, 2019, ANTARA. The Indonesian government should consider withdrawing its troops from Papua and West Papua provinces to avoid confrontation between the military and civilians, Suripto, an analyst who has served as an intelligence official, said here on Friday, reported the ANTARA.

“A massive army deployment would not clear the problem as it would raise sentiments and suspicions of the new form of repression (among Papuan people),” Suripto explained.

To avoid these suspicions, Suripto suggested to the government that it learn from the experience of East Timor’s separation from Indonesia in 1999.

The sight of thousands of troops in Papua and West Papua for the past week might give the impression that there could be a military invasion there, according to the intelligence expert.

A military approach was unsuited to solve the identity conflict that had occurred in Papua and West Papua, he believed. “We should utilize the soft approach by respecting their identities. We should get closer to them (Papuan people),” he added.

A non-military approach would be more effective in easing the tension as people’s rights to express their identities and opinions must be protected and respected by the government, according to Suripto.

“The least we can do, if we still want Papua and West Papua to be a part of Indonesia, is to respect their basic rights and identities,” he noted.

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