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Subject: ABRI: A common strategy in ETimor and WPapua?
Date: Mon, 5 Oct 1998 15:23:50 +0100 (BST)
From: TAPOL

ABRI'S COMMON STRATEGY IN EAST TIMOR AND WEST PAPUA

ABRI's decision to launch an offensive against FALINTIL needs to be put in the general context of what Wiranto, the ABRI commander, is seeking to achieve in both of Indonesia's 'rebellious territories'.

Until recently, Matan Ruak was reporting a much more relaxed situation vis-a-vis the army, with little in the way of military encounters. For this reason, reports circulating since last week of a new offensive in East Timor certainly came as a surprise. We also know that ABRI and the regime are confronting a dire economic crisis which might suggest that the last thing Jakarta needs is further heavy expenditure to finance yet more troops in East Timor and all the costs associated with a new offensive.

I would suggest that what Wiranto is now doing in East Timor is part of a general strategy to seek to put an end to what they refer to as the 'GPK menace', so as to be able to cut back, once and for all, on the use of combat troops in both East Timor and West Papua.

Last week, we were surprised to hear that the Irian Jaya military commander, Major-General Amir Sembiring, had reached a ceasefire agreement with the OPM led by Mathias Wenda. Earlier it was reported that senior military forces in Jayapura had entered into talks with the OPM leadership. This came as a big surprise. If I'm not mistaken, this would be the first time that the army has given OPM such a degree of recognition by deigning to enter into talks. The opening came in West Papua following negotiations to release a group of Indonesians who had been taken hostage some months ago by the Mathias Wenda wing of the OPM.

I doubt whether Wenda, if indeed he has agreed to a ceasefire, can truly claim to be acting on behalf of all wings of the OPM but this may not concern the military forces too much in Jayapura.

If they are able to secure a ceasefire, leading presumably to an agreement by the OPM to lay down its arms, the army's purpose would have been achieved.

In East Timor, the army must understand that any talk of a ceasefire with FALINTIL is out of the question because of the strength of feeling throughout the territory for a referendum. So, while a 'ceasefire' may be seen as possible with the OPM, or part of it at any rate, the only way to achieve the same objective would be by capturing Matan Ruak and - so they hope - seeing FALINTIL off for good.

Perhaps, therefore, the moves in West Papua and East Timor should be seen as part of a common strategy for getting rid of the 'GPK menace'. This would enable ABRI to claim that, having dealt with the OPM and FALINTIL, it is now in a position to end the need for combat troops in both territories.

There is no reason to believe however that the strategy will work either in West Papua or East Timor.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322 email: tapol@gn.apc.org Campaigning to expose human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh

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