Yudhoyono slams NGOs over Papua

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 01/21/2012 1:03 PM

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reprimanded on Friday nongovernmental organizations that have regularly criticized how the Indonesian Military (TNI) handles security in Papua, saying that they have implied that the law should not be enforced in the country’s two easternmost provinces.

“Papua is part of Indonesia. It doesn’t make sense that NGOs say things that imply that we can’t enforce the law in Papua,” he said at a TNI and National Police leaders meeting in Jakarta.

Yudhoyono said the military presence in Papua was not without justified.

“They are there because there is still an armed separatist movement, which we should be aware of,” he said, emphasizing that there was only a small military presence that did not conduct aggressive military operations.

The President stressed that the government was eager to improve welfare in Papua by implementing programs to accelerate Papua’s economic development.

“That is not just lip service — the average development expenditure per capita in Papua is the highest in the country,” Yudhoyono pointed out.

He added that he had conveyed the government’s policy on Papua to his counterparts across the globe as news regarding military activities in Papua had spread quickly to world leaders.

“Many have asked me about what happened in Papua. I should explain that the military presence in Papua is not without justification,” he said.

To respond to grievances from Papuans who deemed themselves unfairly treated by the central government, Yudhoyono set up in Sept. 20, last year, the government-sanctioned Presidential Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B).

Lt. Gen. Bambang Darmono, the commanding officer in Aceh from 2002 to 2005, was appointed the chief of the program.

Last week, the partnership for governance reform (Kemitraan) and the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) released a survey from 2011 that found that torture was commonly carried out by members of the police to extract information from suspects.

More than 205 respondents including suspects, police personnel, prosecutors, correctional officers, human rights activists, academics and local tribal chiefs, testified that torture was committed by police officers against suspects during arrests, investigations, detention and in jail.

Earlier, Vice President Boediono brushed aside fears of “foreign intervention” in the event of donor development funds being more accessible in Papua.

“Don’t seek ghosts in broad daylight,” Boediono said on Wednesday.

“The most important thing is for us to filter, be selective. Let’s not close ourselves off [unnecessarily],” he remarked.

He stressed that there were many donors — bilateral and multilateral – with good intentions in Papua.

He dismissed undue fears that countries like Australia and the United States had ulterior motives, referring to treaties and statements made by the two countries stating their support for Indonesia’s territorial integrity.

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