• GA-334-2821 Accra, Ghana
  • +254 700 614290/+233 54 109 8521/+223 95 07 07 09
  • GA-334-2821 Accra, Ghana
  • +254 700 614290/+233 54 109 8521/+223 95 07 07 09

THE INDONESIAN MILITARY AND JIHAD: MIXED UP NATIONALISM AND TERRORISM

Islamist Extremist march in East Java to show solidarity with the victims of Wamena incident. The JIHAD hardliners also open recruitment for West Papua mission.

“Today Red and White (the Indonesian flag) is not flying victoriously in Wamena, therefore we the Islamic community will give our lives in the name of God to save Wamena!” This was the message being announced over the loud hailers as the Front Jihad Islam (FJI) members gathered in East Java burning a poster of the Morning Flag that symbolized the West Papuan nation. A short video of their rally was posted on Facebook and shared widely, drawing both praise and criticism from the wider Indonesian public. The FJI was claiming to fight for the Red and White flag, but there was no Indonesian flag on display at the gathering. This has caused many commentators to question the real motive behind their planned ‘humanitarian mission’ to Wamena to ‘save’ people from the Papuans (Wamena being used here as locally to refer to the entire middle mountains area).

“Today Red and White (the Indonesian flag) is not flying victoriously in Wamena, therefore we the Islamic community will give our lives in the name of God to save Wamena!” This was the message being announced over the loud hailers as the Front Jihad Islam (FJI) members gathered in East Java burning a poster of the Morning Flag that symbolized the West Papuan nation. A short video of their rally was posted on Facebook and shared widely, drawing both praise and criticism from the wider Indonesian public. The FJI was claiming to fight for the Red and White flag, but there was no Indonesian flag on display at the gathering. This has caused many commentators to question the real motive behind their planned ‘humanitarian mission’ to Wamena to ‘save’ people from the Papuans (Wamena being used here as locally to refer to the entire middle mountains area).

In the Nguda regency of the mountains the Indonesian military (TNI) has been battling to put down the West Papua National Liberation Army (WPNLA) – the armed wing of the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) or Free Papua Movement – since December 2018. The armed conflict here has caused a lot of destruction to both people and property over time, including the disruption of work on the Trans-Papua highway on 2 December 2018 when 16 workers were killed by the WPNLA. The Indonesian government through its armed forces has intensified its operations in this area in order to capture or kill the members of the WPNLA, however in the process has caused displacement of more than 50 000 people from their homes. The latest report is that at least 189 of these Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have died of hunger, disease or bullet wounds. Most of the dead have been women, children and old people. The fighting is now spreading rapidly into the neighbouring Puncak regency of the middle mountains and the TNI seem unable to bring an end to the conflict.

A number of well-trained elite members of the TNI according to military reports have been shot and killed over this period by poorly armed ‘criminal groups’ and photos of WPNLA members and news on their progress are now frequently being seen on social media. Such that the Indonesian population is now rapidly losing trust in the ability of the TNI to overcome the Papuan fighters with their largely bows and arrows. With news of the wider unrest throughout Papua having been making international news these last weeks, one is left with the distinct impression that the Indonesian military is committing widespread human rights violations (regardless of what other governments might not be saying). Whilst an initial response to seeing so called ‘riot’s by Papuans might have been to not question the Indonesian government’s decision to send a further 6000 plus armed forces personnel to Papua, as the picture unfolds
that is now coming very much under the spotlight.

For years the Indonesian government has been one of the beneficiaries through international aid as part of the ‘war on terror campaign’ in the ASEAN region, however, with allegations now reaching the international media of human rights violations by the Indonesian armed forces in West Papua, one wonders whether Australia’s long time support of the Indonesian military might come into question. The only way to maintain the status quo is to convince the international community that there are extensive terrorist activities inside Indonesia, to ensure Australia keeps its end of the bargain.

After 50 years of Indonesia sparing no effort to silence the voice of West Papuans, the case for self-determination for West Papuans is now for the first time heard by the public. Both Indonesians and international populations are viewing on the television screens floods of people in West Papua risking aggression of the armed forces to demand a referendum, so they have their own say regarding independence from Indonesia. To divert this growing demand for independence, TNI has done its utmost to apply the well-known tactic of ‘divide and rule’, separating the people into coastal and highland Papuans, migrants and indigenous Papuans, Muslims and Christians and various tribal groups. This polarizing game has been used by TNI ever since West Papua was annexed onto Indonesia and they have spent millions in the process.

As both Indonesians and International viewers have watched media reports of the unrest in Papua, they’ve been shocked to see footage of government and other buildings set on fire, particularly in the mountain towns. But as the days have passed and the Papuan community tried to put the pieces together of what happened with the fires, it seems there are many unanswered questions as to who really was behind the fires. What is clear is that the fires have very successfully divided the local indigenous people. What is more perplexing is that on the very next day that all the ransmigrants in Wamena and similarly in other mountain areas where there were fires, were evacuated in military planes leaving now only TNI and police personnel with the local Papuans.

Meanwhile militant Jihad groups in Indonesia are now volunteering to assist the Indonesian Government to bring the situation in the mountain region of Papua ‘under control’, working alongside Indonesian armed forces. Whilst there may by many unanswered questions for both Papuans and those international persons watching the situation unfold, one thing that is clear is that cells of militant Jihad groups inside Papua are developing rapidly by the day right on Australia’s doorstep.

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