INDONESIA: The Indonesian National Police Headquarters (Mabes Polri) has announced plans to dispatch additional personnel to the Papua Regional Police (Polda Papua) jurisdiction to ensure security during the upcoming 2024 Simultaneous Elections (Pemilu).
This decision comes in response to a request made by Polda Papua and has been confirmed by the Chief of Public Relations for Polda Papua, Commissioner Ignatius Benny Prabowo.
Commissioner Prabowo confirmed the information on Monday (28 Aug), stating, “It’s true that there will be an addition of personnel from Mabes Polri for the purpose of securing the elections.”
However, he refrained from disclosing the exact number of additional personnel, citing that the details are still under consideration.
The additional personnel are intended to be deployed to regions identified as susceptible to conflicts during the elections.
These areas include those that remain vulnerable to Armed Criminal Groups (Kelompok Kriminal Bersenjata or KKB in Indonesian). Commissioner Prabowo emphasized that the personnel from Mabes Polri will be stationed in these at-risk zones to reinforce the existing security presence.
Commissioner Prabowo further emphasized that Polda Papua is actively engaged in community outreach efforts to support a peaceful election process.
He expressed hopes that the upcoming Simultaneous Elections in 2024 will transpire smoothly without disruptions.
The decision to allocate additional personnel follows an analysis of potential vulnerabilities in the election process.
According to Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri, Papua Police Chief, there are 12 districts within Papua that are deemed prone to conflicts during the 2024 elections.
These districts are distributed across two newly formed provinces, Papua Tengah and Papua Pegunungan, which were established at the end of 2022. The districts include Intan Jaya, Dogiyai, Deiyai, Puncak, Nduga, Lanny Jaya, Puncak Jaya, Yahukimo, Pegunungan Bintang, Jayawijaya, Tolikara, and Yalimo.
Inspector General Fakhiri explained that the assessment of vulnerability is based on historical conflict data in these 12 regions.
He pointed out that one primary factor triggering conflicts and violations during election periods is the manipulation of voter data, noting that instances of mass actions led by certain parties have often attempted to alter the number of voters, which does not align with the permanent voter list (DPT).
It is important to note that KKB stands for Kelompok Kriminal Bersenjata, which translates to Armed Criminal Groups. These groups operate within Papua and have been responsible for both civilian and security force-targeted violence.
Previously known as the Free Papua Organization (Organisasi Papua Merdeka; OPM), KKB Papua was rebranded by the government as part of a paradigm shift in addressing separatist groups in Papua.
This change aims to classify KKB members as criminals and focus on combating their criminal activities. However, the distinction between OPM and KKB Papua lies in their operational methods, with the latter employing advanced weaponry and tactics that are harder to control.
Critics, including Hasanuddin, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR RI), argue that the name change from OPM to KKB actually fuels violence.
Hasanuddin expressed regret over the government’s decision to label KKB as a mere criminal group, suggesting that their activities transcend typical criminal behavior. He noted that during the rise of the KKB, the armed group has grown significantly in strength and weaponry.
Hasanuddin further highlighted that these armed groups in Papua have access to sophisticated weapons obtained through smuggling and seizures.
He outlined three key components of their operations: domestic political campaigns to garner support from civil servants and military personnel, international political campaigns advocating for Papuan independence to foreign embassies, and their formidable armed strength.