Indonesia. The unrest in the eastern part of Papua continued; for example, eight Indonesian soldiers were killed in February in two different assaults by armed resistance men. The first attack was directed against a post-guard in the Puncak Jaya area. According to Countryaah, a soldier was killed at that time. The other seven soldiers lost their lives when they were attacked on their way to an airstrip in an adjacent area. Following the attack, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he asked the military to act with restraint and that it would respect the requirements of legal security. Yudhoyono further said that economic and social development is the path to peace in Papua.
In the governor elections in Papua the same month, the candidates supported by Yudhoyono’s ruling Democratic Party (DP) won. There were reports of screenings along the border between Indonesian Papua and neighboring Papua New Guinea during the year. The exchange took place between Papuan separatists and the Indonesian army.
Later in the year, in May, information came out that two protesters were shot dead by police in connection with Papuan separatists marking the 50th anniversary of the area’s transition from the Dutch colony to become part of Indonesia. The same month, Australian radio ABC reported that the Indonesian terrorist force Densus 88 has killed at least eleven members of the separatist guerrilla OPM (Organization of a Free Papua) in the central parts of Papua.
In February, the Indonesian Corruption Commission (KPK) announced that Anas Urbaningrum, chairman of the ruling DP, was suspected of involvement in a case of corruption. Urbaningrum, which was banned from leaving the country while the investigation was underway, was accused of receiving “gifts” in connection with the construction of a sports arena in the city of Bogor in western Java. In December of the previous year, a DP minister, Andi Mallarangeng, resigned after being identified as a corruption suspect in the same bribery shop.
Following KPK’s announcement of bout suspicions against the party chairman, President Yudhoyono announced that he himself assumed the chairmanship of the DP in order to calm down the situation in the party ahead of the 2014 elections.
On March 14, the first execution was executed in the country since 2008. The man who was executed was sentenced in 2004 to the death of drug smuggling. In Indonesia, more than 140 people are sentenced to death, but executions are rarely executed.
In April, Indonesia eased some of its import restrictions after the United States complained to the World Trade Organization that Indonesia did not comply with rules agreed by the WTO countries.
During the spring, unrest in Aceh on north Sumatra increased as provincial authorities chose the former GAM guerrilla banner as the official flag of the province. National authorities demanded that the province choose a less provocative flag. Protests both for and against the flag election were held in Aceh, where the separatist guerrilla GAM (the Movement for a Free Aceh) fought a struggle for independence from 1976 to 2005.
A tunnel at the disputed gold and copper mine Grasberg in Papua collapsed in May, and 38 miners were shut down. While ten of them could be rescued, the remaining 28. President Yudhoyono ordered an investigation into why the tunnel was collapsed and increased security checks at other mines. About 24,000 people are employed by Grasberg, which is operated by the American company Freeport McMoRan. The mine was reopened in May – June, among other things since employees protested against labor shortages.
Violent demonstrations erupted in the capital of Jakarta in June after Parliament’s decision to cut the costly subsidies on fuel. The decision meant price increases for gasoline by 44% and for diesel by 22%. The subsidies were cut because the government’s budget deficit appeared to be too large, which was feared to deter foreign investors. The measure was combined with special contributions to poor families. No deaths or serious injuries were reported from the demonstrations.
That same month, President Yudhoyono officially apologized to Singapore and Malaysia for causing major forest fires in the province of Riau on Sumatra to cause serious and health-threatening smog over the two neighboring countries. Smogen, which emerged when rainforest was destroyed to give way to oil palm cultivation, was so thick that emergency permits were introduced in parts of Singapore and Malaysia. Riau’s governor was later arrested on suspicion of bribery in connection with the procurement of contracts with the forest companies.
Since Australia was given a new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, he chose to emphasize the importance of good relations with Indonesia by visiting the neighboring country in July. At a meeting in Bogor on Java, Rudd and President Yudhoyono decided to work together to curb the flow of refugees from South Asia and Afghanistan via Indonesia to Australia.
Relations between the two countries, however, became a real thorn when at the end of the year revelations revealed that Australia had spied on Yudhoyono and his wife as well as a number of other high-ranking Indonesians. As a result, Indonesia set up a series of collaborations, including on refugee policy, with the neighboring country in the south.
In September, the old colonial power officially apologized to the Netherlands for Indonesia for arbitrary executions and other abuses committed by the Dutch army during the Indonesian Liberation War of the 1940s. The Netherlands pledged financial damages to the women who lost their spouses in this way. The excuse was made through the Netherlands Embassy in Jakarta.
Indonesia was hit in October by yet another high-level corruption scandal when the Constitutional Court chairman, Akil Mochtar, was arrested on suspicion of bribery. The judge must have promised money to resolve a conflict that arose after a local election on Borneo.