Vitorio Mantalean, Jakarta – The State Intelligence Agency (BIN) has finally spoken out over allegations that mortars it imported from Serbia were dropped on villages in Papua in 2021.
The allegations were reported by the London based arms monitoring group Conflict Armament Research (CAR) which was quoted in a report by Reuters.
BIN Domestic Intelligence Division Deputy Head Major General Edmil Nurjamil has refuted the CAR report. "There was no such thing", Nurjamil told journalists at the Home Affairs Ministry offices on Thursday June 16.
When asked for confirmation about unexploded mortars found in Kiwirok district, Papua, Nurjamil denied that the weapons belong to BIN or were purchased by BIN. "No way. We don't have that kind of equipment", said Nurjamil.
Nurjamil instead said that the mortars do in fact belong to the TNI (Indonesian military). "They belong to the TNI, Mas [brother]. The commander of the [regional military command] has already acknowledged that they are TNI weapons", he said.
"We don't play around like that. The regional military commander has already conveyed what they were", said Nurjamil.
In a Kompas.com report on December 1, 2021, the Cenderawasih regional military commander, Major General Ignatius Yogo Triyono confirmed that his troops fired mortars in Kiwirok.
Triyono said that his troops needed the mortars because of the steep terrain in the Bintang Highlands. The firing of mortars, said Triyono, can have a shock effect on West Papua National Liberation Army TPNPB groups.
Earlier, the Reuters news agency reported that the Indonesian spy agency purchased almost 2,500 mortars from Serbia then modified them to be dropped from the air. CAR said that the mortars were produced by the Serbia arms manufacturer Krusik.
According to the report by CAR and photographs provided by Reuters, the 81mm mortar shells were used in an attack in October 2021 on villages in Papua, which were reportedly controlled by separatists.
The alleged procurement of the mortars by BIN has not been revealed to the House of Representatives (DPR) supervisory committed which approves its budget.
These findings are also in accordance with the facts on the ground reported by eye witnesses and human rights activists who said that helicopters and drones fired and dropped munitions on eight villages in Kiwirok district over several days beginning on October 10, 2021.
Information gathered by the TPNPB shows that a number of the mortars failed to explode. Some of the mortars which did explode however, set fire to homes and patches of land.
Call for an audit
The Papua Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) is urging President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to audit the BIN in relation to the case. An audit is necessary because BIN does not have the authority to procure primary weapons systems (alutsista).
LBH Papua suspects that the elements of a criminal act have been met with the procurement of the mortars from Serbia for use in Papua.
LBH Director Emanuel Gobay explained that BIN is not authorised to buy primary weapons systems as regulated under Article 29 of Law Number 17/2011 on State Intelligence.
Gobay added that since 1951, Indonesia has had Emergency Law Number 12/1951 which also prohibits the procurement of weapons by unauthorised parties. This is stipulated under Article 1 Paragraph 1 of the law and is subject to the death sentence, life imprisonment or 20 years in prison.
"In practice when it is has been discovered, when there have been citizens, both individuals as well as legal entities who have done this, such actions have immediately been concluded to be actions that are prohibited under these stipulations", said Gobay.
He gave as an example the many Papuan civilians who have been prosecuted using this offense for possessing firearms.
Because of this therefore, the Papua LBH is calling for the same treatment to be applied to members of BIN who are alleged to be involved in the procurement of the mortars.
LBH Papua is also urging President Widodo to order Indonesian police chief (Kapolri) General Listyo Sigit Prabowo to arrest and charge the perpetrators. "Kapolri cannot be allowed to discriminate in the application of Emergency Law Number 12/1951", he said in closing.
[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "BIN Bantah Laporan Pembelian Mortir dari Serbia untuk Digunakan di Papua".]