The former head of Indonesia's elite anti-terrorism unit is set to become the new Papua Police chief, according to a copy of the decision letter obtained by the Jakarta Globe.
Brig. Gen. Tito Karnavian, 47, was head of Densus 88 from 2004 until last year, when he was appointed deputy chief of the recently formed National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT). Under his watch, Densus 88 was able to arrest or kill several key members of the Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiyah, including Noordin M. Top and Azhari.
Tito is replacing Insp. Gen. Bigman Lumban Tobing, who critics say has failed to secure Papua, which has seen increasing violence since late last year.
The decision letter was dated Sept. 3, 2012. The official handover ceremony is usually held one week after the decision letter is signed.
Rumors that Tito was being considered for the Papua post have been circulating since June in response to the escalating conflict in the restive region.
Indonesia Police Watch chairman Neta S. Pane has previously voiced opposition to the move, saying the police should choose someone who could consolidate the security apparatus in Papua and engage the citizenry in dialogue, not clamp down with increasingly harsh force.
“We strongly reject the efforts of the National Police to deploy Densus 88 in Papua because the problem in Papua is not terrorism but prolonged socioeconomic gaps,” Neta said in June.
Police have said the violence in Papua was the work of the separatist Papua Free Organization (OPM). On Sunday, Papua Police successfully arrested 22 OPM members, including its leader Daniel Kogoya, who is said to have claimed responsibility for several spouts of violence and shooting incidents in the past year.
Densus 88, frequently criticized by human rights organization for its harsh treatment of terrorism suspects, has been involved in a number of crackdowns against separatists in Papua and Maluku, with officers saying their participation was justified because the nation’s Law on Terrorism categorizes armed insurgence as an act of terrorism.
In August last year, counterterrorism officers were deployed in Papua after four people were killed in an ambush by suspected armed separatists in Nafri village, on the outskirts of Jayapura.
Last week, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ran a story on Papuans testifying that Densus 88, which is trained and supplied by the Australian government, was involved in the June killing of Mako Tabuni, then-chairman of the pro-independence West Papua National Committee (KNPB).http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/lawandorder/ex-antiterror-chief-set-to-be-new-papua-police-chief/542004