The Case of Steven Yadohamang: An Urgent Need for Increasing Understanding and Resolving Complexity


PAPUADAILY – Public was shocked by a video that went viral regarding the two Indonesian Air Force military police forces who took firm action against a young Papuan man believed to be a person with disability named Steven Yadohamang on Wednesday (28/07/2021). The incident began when the two military police forces responded to the conflict between a man in the food vendor near JA Dimara Air Force Base Merauke in where Steven claimed to be drunk at that moment. Those military police seemed to arbitrate the conflicting parties yet misunderstanding occurred given the lack of effective communication among them. This excessive act draws a lot of criticism in the public. Allegations of the arrogance of the security forces against civilians, especially people with disability, social insensitivity, and even the issue of racism emerged in this circumstance.

Shortly, Chief of Staff of Indonesian Air Force Air Marshall Fadjar Prasetyo responds to this incident and apologizes for his personnel’s actions for pinning down the head of a deaf person. Besides, Commander in Chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto also ordered to fire the two commanders in the region where the incident happened, namely Commander of JA Dimara Air Force Base and Commander of Military Police of JA Dimara Air Force Base. This action clearly shows the state commitments on respect to human rights and justice as whoever commits harassments shall be punished, regardless of their status.

In addition to that, Chief of Indonesian Presidential Staff Muldoko in his brief statement said “We will ensure that the perpetrators will be prosecuted in a transparent and accountable manner, and assure that the victims are safe and protected”. Their responses depict a hope that there would be a legal procedure following the incident. We need to appreciate and support the state’s responsibility in this regard by keeping an eye on the legal procedures applied during the process in order to ensure that justice is always upheld.

How “Papua Lives Matters” Differs from “Black Lives Matter”

Couple months ago, international attention focused on the “Black Lives Matter” campaign carrying the message of solidarity due to the excessive action of a police officer against black people in the United States (US) named George Floyd. This incident has not only sparked uprisings in the US, but also reignited a worldwide movement to any similar racial-based issues, and one of them is “Papua Lives Matter”.

All of these movement prove that solidarity somehow knows no border. As more people use social media today, there is trend that people can be emotionally inspired by any movements if they think there are any similarities between their experiences, even though it might slightly be different in one or another layer.

In the case of “Black Lives Matter” at George Floyd case, actions carried by the police resulted in death and those who are committed to the harassments were not shortly prosecuted. Even the top leaders of state apparatus in the US seem to be ignorant at the first place until uprisings took place everywhere around the US – and those police are finally charged with violating civil rights.

While the case of Steven Yadohamang is indeed different with the previous one. Short after the incident happened, Indonesian Armed Forces officials declare their responsibility and ask for apology due to their personnel’s unacceptable behavior. The government officials also stated they will ensure that all legal procedures are applied to whoever committed to harassments.

Complexities on the Ground

Post 1998, people have a high demand toward the following core values to be present in everyday life: (1) respect to human rights, freedoms, and justice, (2) openness and transparency, and (3) equality before the law. In this regard, state apparatus such as military have a significant role in ensuring the security of the nation in order to ensure that all core values are met, while at the same time must commit to those core values in carrying out their duties.

Today, communication skill of state apparatus becomes very critical as we are living the age of borderless world connected by media and technology. Democracy upholds respect to everyone, regardless their backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions. Democracy also entails transparency and openness which require the decency of stakeholders in carrying out public actions. Every information can spread easily by media nowadays; the good thing is, it can help us to update to any information not only at the national level but also international levels faster than before. But the bad thing would be, any news published in the media are prone to bias and fabrication as no one is in charge of guaranteeing whether that news is valid or not.

While in response to the sensitive issues in the society, state apparatus needs to be very careful in order to avoid misunderstanding. They are seen by the public as representatives of the state authorized to enforce policies, laws and ensure security as well as social stability. It is important for them to keep the trust from the people, as trust is one of the most important things to consider if we want to strengthen social cohesion at the national level. Thus, any actions committed by the state apparatus must be calculated carefully in order to avoid more negative impact on the ground which led to social unrest.

Fixing the Problems

All of those examples above explain that it is time for the government to increase understanding and resolving the complexity on the implementation level. State apparatus such as military and police must be able to control their actions, and everyone within the institutions must have an in depth understanding about any global and national problems especially those involving social and political issues.

Furthermore, it is also important to ensure that commanders appointed in the state apparatus institutions have a robust understanding around the updated national and international issues pertaining to social, politics, and other critical issues on the ground. They also have to have a strong commitment on ensuring that all of their subordinates are also aware about the aforementioned issues.

As we are living in a globalization era today, every issue, whether it is national or international, is always connected; and state apparatus must prepare themselves to be agile in response to any challenges on the ground. In doing so, it requires leadership capability, knowledge, effective communication skills, and surely a high level of understanding of everyone, not just at the top level of leaderships, but all layers of state apparatus.