The KKB Papua are suspected of siphoning Village Fund assistance from the Indonesian government to buy weapons on the black market to fight the state. Photo/TPNPB/Handout via REUTERS
JAKARTA – Papua Armed Criminal Group (KKB), the separatist group that took pilot Susi Air from New Zealand as hostage, is suspected of siphoning money from the Indonesian government to buy black market weapons.
The government assistance in question is Village Fund assistance. This assistance was introduced by President Joko Widodo’s government in 2015 and this year the amount reached IDR 70 trillion.
The aid has long been criticized for being prone to corruption.
KKB Papua, which is more than 3,000 km from Jakarta, has long sought to free the region rich in copper, gold, nickel and natural gas.
The rebellion by the Papuan KKB has increased and it has coincided with a surge in illegal arms sales in the region. That was revealed by lawyers and court documents, where Village Fund assistance is the main source of income.
In 2015, there was only one case of illegal weapons and ammunition trading in Papua, according to documents and court reports. In 2021, the number has jumped to 14.
In Nduga, where Susi Air pilot Phillip Mehrtens has been held captive for more than three months, the police are so concerned that Village Fund assistance is being used to buy weapons that they asked the central government to withhold more than IDR 208 billion in aid allocated to the district this year.
“If we don’t block this, the Village Fund will flow to the village and they (KKB Papua) may continue to ask for help… Maybe to buy weapons, to buy food,” said Head of Public Relations of the Papuan Police Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo to Reuters. Thursday (8/6/2023).
A spokesperson for the Nduga Regency Government, Otomi Djiwage, said: “Village funds are not supported by proper oversight and the local government does not have the authority to supervise them.”