Government and the communities

Suharto’s era of weak governance “along with complex issues of corruption, a strong but undisciplined military force” also encouraged nationalistic attitudes of Papuans whose low level of awareness became a negative factor in their rebellious insistence. The arrangement with “Louisiana-based Freeport Mining placed the government and the communities further in collision course as 700,000 hectares of West Papua catered to transmigration” and mining development. The Papuans with radical identities felt that the government’s economic negotiations impede on their sovereignty as a province.

Their elites believed in the colonial Dutch promise of independence and banked on a separatist movement from Indonesia’s claws. At the same time, Indonesian perspectives for control are more determined to subdue any efforts with physical force. The presence of a peace-keeping and security forces, reports of human rights violations arose as the civilian society were forced to practice enforced military prostitution as the Indonesian military “encountered accusations of imprisoning, torturing and killing civilians”.

Chatterjee related Bishop Munninghoff’s “report alleging how Freeport Mining’s vehicles and offices were used by the Indonesian military to transport and torture tribal leaders accused of fomenting a rebellion against Indonesia”. Riots then ensued in 1996 amidst environmental destruction that brought in substantial damage to Freeport’s mines and mills. The riots became “continuous and uncontrolled as Indonesian Security Forces committed human rights abuses, attempted cultural genocide which soon encouraged Freeport to restructure its developmental programs to focus on equal treatment within its area of operation”.

East Timor The whole Timor archipelago has been divided historically according to the agreement of its colonizing powers whereby the Eastern part was controlled by the Dutch and the Western side by the Portuguese. The Western part soon became part of the Indonesian Republic after the Dutch relinquish its control and “as the Portuguese fought to re-establish its power in the Eastern bloc in vain”. With the new-found independence in the East, policies were aimed at improving the lives of the peasants amidst violent and hasty take-overs “that once resulted in a three-week long civil war”.

Indonesia intent to protect West Timor “step up with the aid of US military and intelligence and was able to put up some 35,000 soldiers in East Timor with another on standby on its Western borders”. Soon, East Timor, a predominantly Catholic region “became the 27th province of Indonesia”. The compounded presence however of the civilian and military forces existing in the region as a safe-keeping force has caused “increasing incidence of ethnic violence as human rights violations took place”. Freedom of expression was heavily impeded as government critics were put to prison resulting to heavy political and civil unrest in the region.