Subject: Timika: Indonesia's Police and Military at Open War

also Déjà vu in Timika preliminary thoughts about a new ambush murder

Indonesia's Police and Military at Open War

Published on:  Monday, July 13, 2009 11:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time)

Timika, a city in West Papua, has become a site where an open war over money, involving the Indonesian military (TNI) and the police (POLRI), is taking place. In 2008 the U.S. mining giant Freeport McMoRan paid $8 million in support costs to security forces, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Last year $1.6 million of this money went to TNI despite a 2007 Ministerial decree handing over all security for "vital national projects" (provit) to POLRI.

TNI had financial incentive to stage the attack last weekend that left Drew Grant, an Australian national, dead. A disturbance would show that POLRI was doing a poor job at providing security for this national project. At the same time POLRI is now in a situation, much like they were with the 2002 attacks that killed three teachers in Timika, where it is in their best interest to pursue evidence of TNI involvement in the ambush. The battle between TNI and POLRI in Timika is a microcosm for a war between these two institutions on a national level. Very lucrative security contracts at other vital national projects, like BP's Tangguh project in Bintuni Bay, are at stake.

The jury is still out about who conducted the attacks over the weekend. Allegations and denials are flying from all possible corners. If investigators identify marksmen, my first questions will be: Where did they get their guns? and Who trained them?


Déjà vu in Timika preliminary thoughts about a new ambush murder

posted on  Sunday, July 12, 2009

When Papuans are murdered by Indonesia’s security forces, which has been happening with a predictable regularity ever since I began paying serious attention in 1998, the international community rarely takes notice. When whites are killed, the world starts paying attention.

Two days ago Drew Grant, a 29-year-old Australian national, was shot five times with what police investigators are calling “military-style weapons” along the heavily guarded road leading to Freeport McMoRan’s gold mine in West Papua. Yesterday an Indonesian security officer was also shot. A 2002 attack on the same road left one Indonesian and two U.S. schoolteachers dead. Ballistics evidence and eye-witness testimony point to an Indonesian military role in the ambush murder from seven years ago. Reading media reports published in the last few days, and talking to a couple of friends who are tracking the case on the ground, I have experienced an uncanny feeling of déjà vu.

Over the weekend there were also two Indonesian civilians murdered in the highland town of Wamena: a Javanese and a Papuan. A separate shooting, also on Saturday, took place on Yapen Island, off West Papua's north coast. Last week four Papuans were killed in the remote Mamberamo region by Indonesia’s Densus 88 unit, crack troops that recieve training from the U.S. government. Of all this recent violence, only the death of the Australian has captured the attention of major media outlets.

A “sniper” carried out the attack that killed the Australian mining employee this weekend, in the words of Indonesian national police inspector-general Nanan Sukarna. A similarly skilled marksman was at work in 2002. The first four shots that killed the two U.S. teachers, were distinct, methodical, and fatal. A group of Papuans were jailed for the 2002 attack. But, prosecutors did not muster evidence that any of the men had the technical skills to precisely target passengers in a moving vehicle.

Indonesian investigators have been quick to admit that the weapons used by the sniper the Australian man this weekend were standard issue for security forces. “It’s clear they (the attackers) were using weapons belonging to the police or the military,” said Major General Ekodanto, the Provincial Chief of Police. But others have been quick to add that these guns may have been stolen.

Papuan guerilla fighters, known by the acronym TPN, have long had access to a handful of “military-style” weapons­namely M16 and SS1 assault rifles. But a long hard look at many of these “freedom fighters” reveals that many are not really TPN, but affiliates of the TNI, the acronym for the Indonesian military. Antonius Wamang, who is currently serving a life sentence for the 2002 attack, was one such figure who mingled with government security forces in Timika’s shadow lands and even traveled with them to Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta. If you like murder mysteries, and feelings of déjà vu, click here: PDF


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