Papua braces for violence as Indonesia vows to crush separatists
On April 25, Papua separatists shot dead Indonesia’s head of intelligence for the troubled region. General I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha was kill in a roadside ambush against his convoy in the remote regency of Puncak, making him the highest ranking military official to be killed in the conflict in Indonesia’s easternmost territory. The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) – which has been fighting for independence since Jakarta annexed the region in a flawed referendum in the late 1960s following the end of colonial rule in the Netherlands –claimed responsibility for the attack.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo was quick to respond. In an April 26 televised statement, a day after the ambush, he appeared alongside security chiefs and ordered police and army to “pursue and arrest” armed rebels as part of intensified repression. Indonesia has often been accused by human rights activists to employ brutal tactics and discriminate against the Melanesian population of Papua, who are predominantly Christian, a minority in a predominantly Muslim country. Yet the rebels have also been linked to atrocities and have killed teachers and road workers in attacks over the years.