Multiple police and military officials have recently declared their openness for negotiations with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). On 8 November 2021, the Indonesian parliament officially confirmed the Army Chief of Staff, Andika Perkasa, as the new chief commander of the Indonesian armed forces. Initially, Andika Prakarsa was recommended for the position by President Joko Widodo himself. Prakarsa announced that he intends to change the military’s conflict approach in the Indonesian provinces Papua and Papua Barat to become more humanistic. However, he explained that the new strategy will not be implemented before January 2022.
While many human rights organisations and international observers remain critical of the statement, Prakarsa’s change in strategy is in line with the growing demand for a peaceful solution to the long-lasting conflict. On 11 November, 194 Catholic priests in West Papua published a public statement, calling for a ceasefire between the Indonesian security forces and the TPN PB. Moreover, they urged the international community to support a sustainable solution to the conflict through peaceful means. Previously, 36 priests from the Timika Diocese had already published a Statement of Attitude and Call for Armistice on October 31, 2021, in Timika.
In early November 2021, the Intan Jaya Police Chief, AKBP Sandi Sultan, encouraged the TPN PB to refrain from armed violence and prioritize a diplomatic conflict approach. The Intan Jaya police were ready to assist in a negotiation process, said Sultan.
Another call for dialogue was expressed by Commander of the Cenderawasih Military Region Command, Major General Ignatius Yogo Triyono, during an interview with Indonesian media outlet Tempo on 13 November 2021. However, Triyono elaborated that a dialogue can only succeed if political self-determination is not part of the agenda. According to Triyono, the root causes of the West Papua conflict are related to the lack of development and prosperity in the conflict region, a view that is commonly represented by Government representatives. “We are also tired of the frequent shootings which have not only caused victims among the armed criminal groups [TPN PB] but also among our soldiers,“ said Triyono.
The TPN PB (see photo, source Jubi), through its official spokesperson, Sebby Sembom, declared that the TPN PB will only enter into negotiations with the Indonesian Government if the talks will be mediated by the United Nations.