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Govt to be stricter against separatism
Frustrated with the results of a more tolerant approach to the separatist
movements in Aceh and Irian Jaya, the government warned on Wednesday it
would adopt sterner measures to restore order in both ends of the
Minister of Defense
Mahfud M.D. said at a hearing with the House of Representatives
Commission I for foreign affairs, defense and security herethat he had
received calls from many quarters, including religious leaders,suggesting
that the government should be tougher on separatist elements.
will no longer apply the persuasive approach in handling mounting
separatist activities in the two provinces because independence movements
are in fact a subversion," Mahfud said.
He added that the
government had debated the new policy in several Cabinet weekly meetings
and would issue a presidential decree to formalize it.
Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters after presiding over a limited
ministerial meeting that the government was precipitating the
implementation of a special autonomy status for both Aceh and Irian Jaya,
also known as Papua. The latter will also be divided into several
"Aceh and Irian
Jaya fall under the sovereignty of Indonesia. Although weare out to
maintain law and order there, we have no intention to push a violent and
security-minded approach," Susilo said.
He also called on
foreign countries not to take advantage of the separatist activities in
Mahfud said that in
respect of democracy and human rights, the governmenthad been lenient
toward the Papua problem because a militaristic or repressive approach
was no longer seen as effective in the search for a comprehensive
Free Papua Movement could have been quelled immediately through a
military operation, but it would break the people's hearts and leave
chronic injuries there," he said.
The government, he
said, has proven its stiffer stance by ordering the removal of the
Morning Star flag in Irian Jaya, based on the fact that it has been used
a symbol of independence and has incited the use of violence and
At least 30 people,
mostly migrant settlers, were killed in the Irian Jaya town of Wamena
when thousands of proindependence supporters ran amok after police tried
to pull down the separatist flag early this month.
Outgoing Irian Jaya
Police chief Brig. Gen. Silvanus Yulian Wenas said that the police have
temporarily defy order to begin pulling down the separatist flags to
avoid more bloodshed.
"The risk of
possible conflict is too big. But we cannot force our way tojust pull out
the flags," Wenas told The Jakarta Post by phone from
Jayapura on Thursday.
"It is obvious
that the proindependence supporters and the Papuan Presidium Council (PDP)
seems to ignore government's ruling. They can get very stubborn and just
"So for the time
being the flags in Jayapura (at the PDP's base in Taman Imbi and the
house of PDP chairman Theys Eluay) may still be hoisted but not on the
areas where the flags had been lowered," Wenas said.
Minister Mahfud also
said the government would likely withdraw unilaterally from the extended
humanitarian pause in Aceh since the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist
rebels group refused to start talks on peaceful solutions to the problem.
has agreed to extend the humanitarian pause with the hopethat the GAM
side is willing to go to the negotiation table," he said.
He hinted that the
government had lost its patience and would resort to strict measures if
GAM failed to show a commitment to ending the violence and seeking a
"The talks on a
comprehensive solution will never lead to Aceh's secession from
Indonesia. The maximum solution is a special autonomy for the
province," he said.
He said that the
government was deeply concerned about the escalating tension in Aceh over
the last three months despite the humanitarian pause and that it was
waiting for "the right time to impose strict measures against them (GAM