Government should learn from experience of dialogue with armed groups: Kontras

Kompas – April 14, 2023
Susi Air pilot Phillip Mehrtens pictured with TPNPB fighters – February 14, 2023 (Sebby Sambom)

Singgih Wiryono, Jakarta – Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) research and mobilisation division head Rozy Brilian says that the Indonesian government always refuses to hold a dialogue with Papuan armed criminal groups (KKB).

This was conveyed during a virtual public discussion titled "Failing to Address the Roots of the Conflict and the Window Dressing of a Development Illusion" on Friday April 14.

"The government always refuses to hold a dialogue with armed groups that the government refers to as KKB even though the push for dialogue has often been encouraged by different parties", said Brilian.

Yet, according to Brilian, the model of dialogue with an armed group has successfully been pursued by the Indonesian government.

Brilian gave the example of peace talks conducted during the era of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

"This dialogue then concluded in negotiations that produced a Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) or agreement between the Indonesian government and GAM [the Free Aceh Movement] in Helsinki", said Brilian.

According to Brilian, the current government should learn from earlier experiences of holding dialogue with armed groups.

In addition to this, said Brilian, Indonesia could also learn from the Philippines which succeeded in "taming" armed separatist groups through dialogue.

"Learn from other experiences in the Southeast Asia region, dialogue between the government and pro-independence armed groups were once held by the Philippines government with the pro-independence Moro Islamic Liberation Front group", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Pemerintah Dinilai Selalu Menolak Usul Dialog Damai dengan KKB Papua".]