Military in Intan Jaya
TNI soldiers patrol around Bilogai - Sugapa riding a civilian truck. Jubi/Victor Mambor.

NGO study shows economic interest behind illegal military operations in Intan Jaya


Jayapura, Jubi – The past three years have seen an unending illegal deployment of Indonesian military forces in the central highlands of Papua, internationally known as West Papua, which has triggered an escalated armed conflict between the military and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), as well as violence against civilians. Spatial analysis reveals how military and police posts are located around the mining areas, whose concessions are identified as connected with the generals.


A group of NGOs comprising the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), WALHI Papua, Pusaka Bentala Rakyat, the Papua Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Papua), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Greenpeace Indonesia, the Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), and Trend Asia has recently launched their study which shows the relationship between mining companies and military deployment in Intan Jaya Regency.


The illegal operation in Intan Jaya has added to the series of state violence in West Papua. At least ten percent of the population of Intan Jaya’s capital district of Sugapa were displaced in early 2021, including 331 women and children. In April, the Indonesian government labeled the TPNPB, the Free Papua Organization (OPM), and any armed group affiliated with the TPNPB and OPM as terrorists, adding even more troops to Papua under the pretext of combating terrorism.



“The unclear status of the security situation in Papua continues to provide an opening for the state to build military posts and deploy more forces. While in fact, it is clear that the security approach never solves systemic problems in Papua, which is lack of access to primary needs, damage to natural resources, and violation of civil liberties,” said KontraS researcher Rivanlee Anandar.


Intan Jaya is one of four districts in the central highlands of Papua where the new Military District Command (Kodim) has been established. The Intan Jaya Kodim is located in Sugapa. It is not known how many military personnel, both organic and non-organic, are in Papua, particularly in the central highlands.


The Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP) even said that it was difficult for them to obtain data and information regarding the number of non-organic troops sent to Papua every year. According to the DPRP, even Papua Governor Lukas Enembe did not know the number.


Asfinawati of the YLBHI said that according to Article 7 (2) b and (3) of Law No.34/2004 on the Indonesian Military, military operations other than war, including overcoming armed separatist movements, overcoming armed rebellions, securing borders, and securing national vital objects, must be based on state policies and political decisions. So far, no political decisions have been made by the state to conduct military operations in Papua. That being said, the current operations are unlawful.


Activist Made Supriatma stated in his study that the ratio between population and security personnel per capita in Papua is 97:1. This means that there is one police or soldier for every 97 Papuan citizens. Such ratio shows that the concentration of security forces in Papua is much higher than in other areas with a ratio of 296:1, meaning one security personnel for every 296 citizens.


“The deployment of troops has led to a higher escalation of armed conflict. As a result, people in several districts of Puncak Jaya, Nduga, and Intan Jaya fled from their ancestral lands. Meanwhile, the government’s assistance to these displaced people was minimal. They even tend to ignore the displaced people’s condition,” said Tigor Hutapea of the Bentala Rakyat Heritage Foundation.


Meanwhile, there are four companies in Intan Jaya identified in the NGO report, namely PT Freeport Indonesia, PT Madinah Qurrata’Ain (PTMQ), PT Nusapati Satria, and PT Kotabara Miratama. Two of the four companies, Freeport and Madinah Qurrata’Ain, are gold mining affiliated to the military including the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment himself, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.


At least three officers are affiliated with Madinah Qurrata’Ain: retired police general Rudiard Tampubolon, retired military general Paulus Prananto, and retired military general Luhut Binsar Panjaitan. Tampubolon is a commissioner of Madinah Qurrata’Ain, whose leadership was acknowledged as successful by West Wits Mining, a shareholder of Madinah Qurrata’Ain. In addition to sitting as a commissioner, the company led by Tampubolon, PT Intan Angkasa Aviation, also got a 20 percent share ownership in PT Madinah Qurrata’ain.


In one of their projects, the Darewo River Gold project, West Wits Mining also distributed a 30 percent stake to PT Tobacom Del Mandiri (TDM), whose president director is Paulus Prananto. In a publication, West Wits Mining clearly states that TDM is responsible for forestry permits and permits related to security access to project sites. TDM is part of PT Toba Sejahtera Group, where Luhut Binsar Panjaitan is a minority shareholder. Both Paulus Prananto and Luhut Binsar Panjaitan were members of the volunteer team (Bravo Lima) who tried to win President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in both the 2014 and 2019 elections.


In the case of the planned gold mine in the Wabu Block, the NGO study noted five military personnel in three different corporates under the same holding company, MIND ID. Retired military general Hinsa Siburian is the commissioner of Freeport, the company holding the previous concession in the Wabu Block. He previously served as XVII/Cenderawasih military commander from 2015 to 2017 and was also listed as a member of the volunteer team (Cakra 19) that won Jokowi in 2019.


The company appointed to work on the Freeport concession land (Wabu Block) returned to the government is PT ANTAM. At ANTAM, retired military general Agus Surya Bakti is the president commissioner, while police general Bambang Sunarwibowo is the commissioner. Sunarwibowo is still actively serving as the main secretary of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).


Moreover, in MIND ID, there is also retired military general Doni Monardo serving as president commissioner and retired military general Muhammad Munir as independent commissioner. Until now, Muhammad Munir is also listed as the chairman of the Strategic Analysis Board of BIN.


These findings indicate economic interests behind a series of illegal military operations in Intan Jaya. Some of the names that appeared in the study are ex-military generals who were part of the Kopassus, an elite unit of the military. Some have a background or experience in the State Intelligence Agency. There are also those who, after completing their duties, becoming the winning team for the current president, Joko Widodo.


Asfinawati said that according to Police Regulation No. 3/2019 on the provision of security assistance on national vital objects, the provision of security assistance is carried out based on the request of the object managers. Therefore, she said, the involvement of military generals in these mining companies strengthens the indications of a conflict of interest in the deployment of troops in Intan Jaya.


Tigor added that such conflict of interest had violated the rights of Indigenous Papuans as customary landowners. “Lands are controlled without the approval of the indigenous people. In many cases, the people who would not give their lands are stigmatized and labeled as anti-development or even separatist. The deployment of military forces aims to create fear among indigenous people so that they would leave their lands,” he said.


Reporter: Victor Mambor

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