Responding to the Case of Involvement of Indonesian National Soldiers in Securing Sand Mines in Gome, Puncak, Papua "The President and Board Representatives Must Evaluate Military Operations in Papua"

Live Press
Imparsial, the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor
No. 004/Siaran-Pers/IMP/III/2022

On January 27th, 2022, three national soldiers (TNI) died at the Ramil Gome Post, Puncak Regency, Papua. Based on the information from the TNI Commander on March 23rd, 2022, it was known that there was an alleged insubordination of the Company Commander who ordered his members to secure sand mining activities in his area where the order had resulted in the death of three TNI soldiers. We share our condolences for the deaths of these three soldiers, which should not have happened if military operations in Papua had been carried out according to procedures.

We view that the steps taken by the Commander to order a thorough investigation of the case and prohibit soldiers from being involved in business security activities are positive things and deserve appreciation. However, this step is certainly not enough if it is not accompanied by efforts to evaluate and correct security policies, especially regarding the involvement of the military in Papua. It is important to note that the death of three soldiers while carrying out security for the sand mining business last January cannot be separated from the chaotic policy of military operations in Papua which opens up the potential for irregularities by the officers in the field. The case should not be seen only as an act of insubordination but also as a matter of security policy.

In the context of investigating the involvement of soldiers in securing sand mines, the steps taken should not only target violations of commando orders, but potential criminal offenses such as gratuities to negligence that caused the loss of life of their lives. This becomes important to provide a deterrence effect for them. In addition, investigation efforts must not stop at the Company Commander alone. Investigations of other parties who may be involved, such as the commander above and the sand miners must also be carried out.

Furthermore, this incident actually shows that the involvement of the national soldiers in the mining business in Papua is true. Recently, the Clean Indonesia Coalition also reported military activity related to the extractive mining investment project in Intan Jaya. However, instead of being taken seriously by the government, the report was instead responded by naming a suspect against Fatia and Haris Azhar, two human rights activists who voiced the results of the report.

We consider that the case of TNI's involvement of in securing the sand business shows the importance for the government to evaluate security policies in Papua. So far, the issue of accountability for security policies in Papua, particularly regarding the involvement of the military in various military operations, has never been a serious concern of the government. The government must also review the basis for the existence of military operations in Papua. This is because military operations in Papua are not carried out during wartime through the designation of Papua as a Military Operations Area (DOM) but are carried out during peacetime. In addition, the legal basis for military operations in Papua is also problematic. Article 7 paragraph (3) of Law no. 34 of 2004 concerning the TNI requires that both military operations for war (OMP) and military operations other than war (OMSP) must be based on state political decisions. Meanwhile, referring to the Elucidation of Article 5 of the National Military Law, what is meant by state political policies and decisions are the government's political policies together with the House of Representatives (DPR) which are formulated through a working relationship mechanism between the government and the DPR such as consultation meetings and working meetings so far not ever existed.

Based on all things above, Imparsial:

  1. Urge President Joko Widodo to evaluate all military operations in Papua, by first ordering the TNI Commander to withdraw non-organic troops from Papua;
  2. Urge the Indonesian Board Representatives (DPR RI) to summon the President and the TNI Commander to be accountable for all military operations in Papua so far and carry out their authority in accordance with Article 7 paragraph (3) in conjunction with Article 5 of Law no. 34 of 2004 concerning the TNI.

Jakarta, March 25th, 2022


Gufron Mabruri

Contact person:

  1. Gufron Mabruri +62 815-7543-4186
  2. Ardi Manto Adiputra +62 812-6194-4069
  3. Hussein Ahmad 081259668926
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