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By Arjuna Pademme in Jayapura

Advocates warn that the the involvement of the Indonesian military (TNI) in a food estate programme initiated by the government last year may enable potential human rights violations.

“Military deployment will be followed by the act of securing land grabbing, for example,” said rights NGO Imparsial director Gufron Mabruri in an online discussion this week.

“There is the potential for human rights violations to occur, especially if the community resists and confronts the security forces.”

Such potential for human rights violations, Mabruri said, was confirmed by the absence of any accountable mechanism, Mabruri said.

The TNI has its own military court to prosecute members suspected of committing crimes.

However, the military court is closed to the public and is seen as a shield for impunity in many cases.

‘Separatist’ stigma a problem
Mabruri also warned that the stigma of Papuans as alleged “separatists” should be taken into consideration when putting the national soldiers on civil programmes.

“Moreover, armed groups in Papua are now labeled as terrorist organisations. This will make things escalate quickly when there is a conflict between the TNI and the community,” he said.

He suggested President Joko Widodo and the House of Representatives evaluate all military engagement practices in various sectors because it would weaken civil institutions.

Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher M. Haripin also said that the involvement of the military in the food estate project was very problematic, as seen in past involvement.

“Some might think that this is too presumptuous because the military situation has changed. However, for me even now, the military is still very problematic and we cannot put aside our past history and our present concerns,” Haripin said.

Indeed, ever since it was launched last year until now, the food estate programme has been under heavy criticism, especially with the involvement of the military in its implementation.

“There is the risk of creating ‘khaki capital’, or the political economy of the military, in the TNI-supported food estate,” he said.

“Corporations earn profits while soldiers ensure that everything goes according to plan,” he said.

Arjuna Pademme is a Tabloid Jubi reporter. Republished with permission.

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