Jakarta – Residents of Tambrauw regency in West Papua province are opposing the establishment of the Tambrauw 1810 District Military Command (Kodim) which was officially inaugurated on Monday December 14.
Yohanis Mambrasar, the lawyer representing indigenous Papuan land owners (hak ulayat) from the Abun Tribe Customary Foundation (Lamasa), said that the residents reject the Kodim headquarters, which will be built on five hectares of customary land belonging to local people.
According to Mambrasar, local people have been opposing the establishment of Kodim 1810 since 2019 when the plan first became public.
"Customary communities, hak ulayat owners and us, youths and students, have already sent letters to the government and even demonstrated, urging the government to hold a dialogue with the Tambrauw customary communities but to this day this has not happened", said Mambrasar when contacted by phone on Tuesday December 15.
They are also urging the TNI (Indonesian military) commander, the West Papua Kasuari XVIII regional military commander in Manokwari and the 181 PVT military district commander (Dandrem) in Sorong to cancel the establishment of the Tambrauw Kodim.
Mambrasar said that they are urging the government, in this case President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, House of Representatives (DPR) speaker Puan Maharani, the West Papua governor, the speaker of the West Papua Regional House of Representatives (DPRD), the Tambrauw regent and the Tambrauw regency DPRD to coordinate with the TNI to cancel the establishment of the Tambrauw 1810 Kodim.
Mambrasar said that opposition is not just coming from Tambrauw regency but from other regions were Tambrauw communities reside. They continue to protest the establishment of the Kodim and are asking for it to be cancelled, even though it has already been officially opened.
"They will continue to hold protests opposing it even though the Kodim has already been officially opened", he said.
Mambrasar said that the opposition was not without reason. Residents do not want violence by the TNI to increase in their area if the Kodim is officially established.
According to Mambrasar, residents have learnt from the experience of what has happened in the past, namely military operations in the Tambrauw area by the Indonesian Armed Forces (then called ABRI) in the 1960s and 1970s. They are still suffering trauma over the operations.
"They have learnt from the experience of what has happened, namely the TNI committing violence against local people, they also learnt from past experiences, namely the ABRI operations in the 1960s and 1970s in the Tambrauw area which traumatised them", he said.
Not only that, Mambrasar also confirmed that indigenous Papuan land owners whose land will be used for the contraction of the Tambrauw Kodim 1810 headquarters do not want to give up their land.
On Monday December 14, TNI Brigadier General Indra Heri officially opened the Tambrauw Kodim and at the same time inaugurated infantry Lieutenant Colonel Ildefonso Akilis Do Camro as the Tambrauw 1810 district military commander.
CNN Indonesia has contacted Kasuari XVIII regional military commander Colonel Kav Zubaedi to seek information about opposition to the establishment of the Tambrauw 1810 Kodim but Zubaedi claimed not to have received any information on the matter.
"I'm sorry, we cannot yet confirm the matter. We're currently preparing for the regional military command's 4th anniversary", said Zubaedi when sought for confirmation by SMS. (tst/pmg)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Masyarakat Adat Papua Barat Tolak Pembentukan Kodim Tambrauw".]