Wednesday, March 11, 2009
West Papua - Indonesian Military, TNI Warns of More Unrest Among Neglected Papuans
Armed Foces Chief Gen. Djoko Santoso on Wednesday acknowledged that growing disappointment in Papua Province toward the central government that could potentially fan separatist movements and violent demonstrations.
The military believes that separatist movements in Papua can be minimized by a better government approach to Papuan welfare, he said. Djoko also said the military would fully support the process of democracy in Indonesia, including in Papua, saying it would view any demonstration calling for independence as an act of freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said the government would not use an “iron-fist” approach in dealing with separatists, but would always try a persuasive and soft approach through dialogues within communities
Separatism has been rife in the three provinces for decades. The government sealed a milestone peace agreement with the Free Aceh Movement, or GAM, in 2005, but the Free Papua Movement, or OPM, has continued low-level armed resistance.
On Tuesday, two men were shot and stabbed to death and another two were badly injured after they were allegedly attacked by members of the OPM, in Puncak Jaya subdistrict.