Massacre of civilians, who were stated-owned construction company Istaka Karya worker, in the Papua Highland regency of Nduga on December 2 was a despicable and inhumane act. Not only has the act of killing, for which The National Liberation Army of West Papua-Free Papua Movement (TPNPB-OPM) has claimed responsibility, sparked fears, it has also harmed the established doctrine of the Indonesian Military (TNI and the National Police).
Because of the lost of 17 innocent lives in the attack, we should not only offer condolences, but also demand the government, but also demand the government take its responsibility and assume its duty as mandated by the Constitution, which stipulates that the state shall protect all citizens.
The latest killing in Nduga shows the government’ failure to bear its constitutional mandate. It was evinced in the fact that the armed group committed manslaughter at will and without fear. Furthermore, the crime might have remained unknown had all the victims been dead. The incident only shoes that the region has actually been controlled by he armed group instead of the law enforcers.
The question is whether it occurred because of tactical or technical errors. Or purely because of ignorance?
A joint team of the TNI and the National Police was deployed in a rescue operation following the attack. The team is also hunting down members of the armed group. The next question is whether the TNI or police were in charge of security in the region before the massacre occurred. The needs an immediate answer so as to avoid a blame game. Which commonly follows an incident.
Furthermore, the police’s reference to perpetrators of the killings as an armed criminal group has sparked another question. Based on pictures of the group members, which have circulated in social media, can we conclude they are simply criminals?
In reality, the affiliate themselves with the separatist group OPM, employ military instrument and control the area that they unilaterally declare as their territory, These facts show the incident were no longer a criminal act. Rather, it is a matter of state sovereignty.
If sovereignty is measured by the state’s positive law, the massacre in Nduga demonstrates that the region is not completely under the auspices of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. Thus, Indonesia’s sovereignty there is only de jure, but not de facto.
In regard to the TNI-Police joint operation, the decisions was not unprecedented, but such operations do not exist in military doctrine. The 2004 TNI Law recognizes military operations other than war, but if this is the case in Nduga has the Papua military commander received an order to conduct the joint operation? If the has, who gave the order?.
To date, the person in charge of Papua’s security is the Papua Police Chief. If the operation is under the police’s domain, why should it involved the TNI?. The joint operation is said to an implementation of synergy between the TNI and the Police, but a clarification is needed because of circulating rumor of military officers who don police uniforms in the operation in Papua.
Nevertheless, the massacre in Nduga cannot be categorized as a criminal act and the perpetrators cannot be classified as a criminal group. Clearly the killing is athreat to Indonesia’s sovereignty as it was committed a separatist group by use of its military arm.
As the group’s primary objective is to secede from Indonesia the incident should be handled by the military. Political authorization, i.e. from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, is therefore needed. The Geneva Convention’s Common Article 3 and Protocol Additional II provide guidelines for military operations in certain areas affected by non-international armed conflicts. The government should therefore declare the perpetrators of the killing in Nduga is a separatist group and order military operations in areas vulnerable to the group without having to worry about accusations of violating human right.
Counter-separatist measures deserve support, but have to adhere to the prevailing laws. In the case of Nduga, however, is it still relevant to maintain the police as the institution in charge of ensuring security and order?.
Article 30 paragraph 2 of the Constitution stipulates that state security and defense system with the TNI and National Police serving as the man forces and the people as a supporting force. To implement the provision a law on state defense and security is needed to provide legitimacy for operations now happening in Nduga.
The fact that such legislation is absent in the country is a constitutional error that follows the separation of the TNI and the National Police about 20 years ago. Meanwhile, hopes for the House Representatives to pass the national security bill have faded because of unresolved deadlocks.
The massacre in Nduga should raise public awareness of the pressing need of formulating and enacting a specific law on national defense and security that can protect the whole nation, including its citizens, from armed revolt or separatism in future.
Penulis: Letjen TNI (Purn) Bambang Darmono
Mantan Pangkoops TNI Aceh, Komandan Satgas Bantuan TNI penanggulangan Tsunami Aceh, Wakil Pemerintah Pusat di AMM, serta Kepala Unit Percepatan Pembangunan Provinsi Papua dan Provinsi Papua Barat (UP4B)