Papuan civilians around Timika have again been made wary of military provocations that may potentially revive a bloody horizontal conflict, after a former Freeport mine worker’s mutilated body was found in a roadside trench on January 19.
Villagers from Kwamki Narama, just outside Timika, found the badly mutilated body of Hanok Rumansara, 40, from Biak, in a roadside ditch in front of the village. The autopsy on his body found Rumansara was riddled with over 23 stab wounds, plus a number of injuries cause by blunt objects, according to his human rights observers.
A human rights worker with Komnas Ham, going by the pseudonym Kobewas Kores, posted information on social media that Rumansara had been picked up by a motorcycle taxi (ojek) rider to take him to Kwamki Narama. Whilst on the road, a group of unknown persons (orang tak kenal or OTK) set up a road block, and was not seen again until his body was found, according to witnesses interviewed by human rights workers.
Indonesian police have claimed that though there is little information to work on, they are pursuing the culprits, according to citizen media website malanesia.com. Police have also claimed they have interviewed several witnesses and have secured arrows, bow, an axe and wood. However, Indonesian police have rarely showed a willingness to properly investigate OTK cases, which most credible observers in Papua laying the blame squarely on Indonesian special forces from either Kopassus or Densus 88.
A former worker at the contentious Freeport-McMoRan run giant Grasberg gold and Copper mine, Rumansara had reportedly been active in the ongoing Freeport industrial dispute, according to initial information. It is unclear why Rumansara had lost his job at the mine, but he was amongst hundreds of workers who failed to regain their jobs after the record-breaking seven month strike ended in December 2011.
Many Papuan ex-Freeport workers have been reportedly stranded from their home regions after not receiving any or enough severance pay from the management of the most lucrative gold mine on the planet. West Papua Media has no information at this stage to indicate that he was targeted in relation to his involvement at Freeport, or in the strike. If this were the case, it would represent a major escalation that would backfire significantly on the perpetrators, given the high political organisation of Freeport workers who are already tense given the recent gassing deaths of several workers.
However, Local human rights observers have questioned if the latest OTK killing – the first since community-led peace building put an end to a bloody military-fostered inter-tribal war from 20 May to 5 October 2012 – was a deliberate act of provocation to upset the current fragile peace. The 2012 horizontal conflict claimed over 2o lives in numerous OTK killings, as well as direct tribal violence, while police and Indonesian military conducted operations deliberately designed to incite violence.
‘Kobewas Kores’ believes that indeed there was an OTK killing, but they got their targeting wrong and killed a man from another part of Papua.
“Is it possible that the killing was deliberately done to give birth to a conflict breaking out in Kwamki Narama village? I think the scenario actually missed the target of an indigenous person to Kwamki Narama. In this case there are specially trained parties, the Indonesian military is trying to sow confusion in Timika and Papua in general,” Kobewas said.
It is likely that most US citizens who consider themselves informed about global events are aware of the genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia and East Timor, yet it’s likely that few people in the US are aware of the ongoing genocide in West Papua, New Guinea.
In Rwanda, genocide resulted in an estimated 500,000 deaths in a 3-month period; in Bosnia, genocide resulted in an estimated 200,000 deaths in a 3-year period. In East Timor, there were more than 103,000 deaths in a 3-year period; and, in West Papua, New Guinea, there are conservative estimates of 100,000 Melanesian Papuans killed, and 300,000 displaced or missing over a 47-year period. Remarkable is the disparity of time between the Rwanda, Bosnia and East Timor genocides, ranging from 3 months to 3 years, contrasted with the ongoing 50-year genocide of indigenous West Papuans. In the aftermath of the Rwandan 3-month slaughter of 500,000 people, the carnage was blatant, the atrocities flagrant.
In view of the continuing carnage wrought in West Papua by the Indonesian military during the past 50 years, we must wonder why most people in the Western world are oblivious to the indigenous Melanesians’ plight, and what factors are contributing to the protraction of such abuse.
Indonesia’s colonization and military occupation of Dutch-owned West Papua was achieved, and continues, with the blessing of the governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, and facilitated by the operation of the world’s largest copper and gold mine owned by Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc., a US corporation.
In addition, for more than 50 years, some of the world’s largest transnational mining corporations have been exploiting West Papua’s oil and minerals, including Union Oil, Amoco, Agip, Conoco, Phillips, Esso, Texaco, Mobil, Shell, Petromer Trend Exploration, Atlantic Richfield, Sun Oil and Freeport (USA); Oppenheimer (South Africa); Total SA (France); Ingold (Canada); Marathon Oil, Bird’s Head Peninsula (UK); Dominion Mining, Aneka Tambang, BHP, Cudgen RZ, and most critically, Rio Tinto (formerly RTZ-CRA) (Australia/UK).
The exploitation of natural resources by extractive industries results in catastrophic harms to human and environmental health and indigenous societies. Typically, mainstream global media, most of which are in thrall to corporate interests, look the other way when such military/corporate injustices are perpetrated upon indigenous populations.
New Guinea is the second largest island on earth, and one of 20,000-30,000 archipelagos in the South Pacific. The island is divided vertically, with independent Papua New Guinea occupying the eastern section and West Papua, now an unwilling province of Indonesia, occupying the western side. There are more than 250 tribes, more than 270 distinct languages and thousands of different pidgin dialects.
In addition to copper and gold, abundant natural resources include natural gas, oil, timber and fish. These resources profit corporate interests and the Indonesian government without compensation to the Melanesian population, who live in poverty.
In 1969, the Act of Free Choice consultation was held in West Papua to ascertain whether the indigenous Melanesian population preferred to remain a province within the nascent nation of Indonesia or become their own independent nation. The consultation was fraudulent, and free participation by the indigenous people was nil. Only 1025 West Papuans, representing a population of one million, were picked ( by the government of Indonesia ) to vote and it was not implemented in accordance with international law of the New York Agreement on August 15, 1962 – One Man One Vote. It was a whitewash. Nobody gave a thought to the fact that a million people had their fundamental rights trampled ( CV Narasimhan, Deputy Secretary – General of the United Nations 1961 – 1978 ). Thus, the voiceless West Papuans became a province of Indonesia and the victims of 50 years of oppression.
The people of this forgotten land have struggled for freedom for 50 years under brutal Indonesian occupation. The people of the different tribes are raped, tortured and slaughtered, and their natural environment continues to be degraded. In their efforts to resist this injustice, their leaders have been arrested, tortured and threatened with death. For this reason, many now live in exile, where they continue to be involved in education and activism with the goal of enlisting the international community to join their efforts to achieve justice and freedom.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the rights of all people to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to peaceful assembly and association. Indonesia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and Indonesia’s constitution also declares those rights. However, Indonesia’s continued arrest and incarceration of nonviolent political activists since the 1980s, and the October 19, 2011 arrests of more than 300 civilians during the Third National Congress, including Edison Waromi and Forkorus Yaboisembut, Prime Minister and President, respectively, will not deter Melanesians from their nonviolent struggle to secure self-determination within a democratic framework, and are recognized, respected and supported by the international community.
For this reason, many peaceful demonstrations took place around the world on
January 17, 2013. The Demonstrations commemorated the escape to freedom by 43 West Papuan refugees on January 17, 2006, when, after paddling across open ocean for four days and surviving a violent storm, they beached their traditional canoe in Australia and found asylum. Myself – Herman Wainggai - am one of those 43.
The Free West Papua Political Prisoners Team in Washington DC is a group of academics and human-rights activists who are willing to stand up for justice and work toward a free West Papua that is independent from military and corporate colonization.
Human Rights Watch reports that Indonesia has incarcerated nearly 100 activists from Maluku and Papua for peacefully voicing their patriotism and political views. As one of those former political prisoners forced into exile, I am now a visiting scholar at George Mason University, after being imprisoned for more than two years after daring to raise the West Papuan flag. My uncle, Dr. Thom Wainggai, died while imprisoned for the same demonstration of patriotism.
Free West Papua Campaign in Los Angeles, California
“I want to commend Moana Nui for organizing this demonstration on behalf of the people of West Papua to give voice to their fight for freedom and self-determination. We call on the leaders of all governments to stop supporting human rights abuses, murder, genocide and the military occupation of West Papua. To our brothers and sisters in West Papua: Continue to fight for what you know is right, for your freedom, your culture, for humanity. Know that, in this fight, you are not alone.” Harold Green. http://mnaa-ca.org/jan-17-2013-west-papua-action/
Free West Papua Campaign in Melbourne
Foreign Affairs Minister of the Federated Republic of West Papua, Jacob Rumbiak, said international activists are demanding that Indonesia remove its military personnel, and that president Yudhoyono must issue orders to stop the slaughter of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) members.
“Six activists were arrested and tortured in Serui yesterday for handing out pamphlets about today’s rally, including Patris Rosumbre (Vice Governor, Saireri State, Federated Republic of West Papua) and Menase Karubaba,” he said. Rosumbre has since escaped, but the whereabouts of Karubaba are not known, and there is deep concern for his safety.
The Federated Republic of West Papua has called for negotiations with the Indonesian government under the auspices of the United Nations since 2011, and, Rumbiak claims, “Indonesia is losing credibility with its international donors in failing to respond to our invitation.”
Free West Papua Campaign in the Solomon Islands
In a statement from Honiara, Chairman of Solomon Islands for West Papua, Rexy Roses, highlighted that more than 50 years of tyranny and
immeasurable human rights abuses suffered by the indigenous people of West Papua at the hands of the occupying Indonesian military forces is more than too much to bear, and it is now time for dialogue and negotiations to end the violence in West Papua and to allow a peaceful referendum. This year will be a challenging one, and we will ensure that the cries of the indigenous Melanesian people of West Papua be heard in every corner of the Pacific and beyond.
Since the recent peaceful demonstration in Yapen Island and Manokwari, I have been told that the military agents are increasing their violent activity in West Papua and in many other places around West Papua. It is not difficult to imagine the impact that tens of thousands of Indonesian troops have on the daily lives of the West Papuan people. This new action by the Indonesian military raises the question: Why would Indonesia send so many troops to West Papua? Is this to intimidate the West Papuan people, to deny us our freedom of speech and prevent us from peacefully gathering in the land of our ancestors to debate and challenge the domination of our land and freedom? This recent West Papua Media report clearly states that the Indonesian government does not provide for the protection of human rights in West Papua.
For West Papuans, daily life is a nightmare, full of pain, suffering, torture, rape and bloodshed. There is no freedom to speak or act freely. The systematic oppression, terror, intimidation, kidnapping, incarceration, poisoning and murder of indigenous Melanesians in West Papua has not changed since I fled the country in 2006. It’s time to support the West Papuan people in their struggle for human rights and political independence.
Herman Wainggai is a West Papuan civil resistance activist based in Washington DC USA, and former political prisoner. He lectures in strategic non-violence and civil resistance and is a visiting scholar at George Mason University, Washington.
Jayapura (15/1) – After visiting Papua in September 2012, Albert Hasibuan, a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Legal Rights and Human Affairs (Watimpres) claimed to have passed on his recommendations to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).
“I’ve given my recommendations. The Papua problem will be best resolved through discussion together. The President said he’ll welcome this,” said Albert when approached after Christmas Eve celebrations with the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional) in Jayapura, Papua, on Sunday night (13/1).
According to Albert, the event was also attended by a number of notable Papuans including Pater Neles Tebay and Beny Giay, as well as Papuans of various religions. “They were urging for dialogue and hopefully this dialogue can happen in 2013. I’m not sure in which month,” he said.
Albert says the party is working toward (addressing issues of dialogue) in this area. This is because everyone, including the President, hopes to establish peace in West Papua. “I think everyone, including the President, are willing to begin the dialogue, they’re just waiting for the right time,” he said.
Other recommendations to SBY, says the former member of the National Commission for Human Rights, include fully implementing Special Autonomy in Papua, both regionally and through the central government.
“Apart from this, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has to be visible in Papua and has to go to Papua because many Papuans are raising questions of Otsus’s accountability of funds. So it’s best if KPK has a presence here,” said Alfred.
Further, Albert is now a member of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM); he was chief investigator with the Investigative Commission into Human Rights Violations in (KPP HAM) in Timor Leste, 1999, in Abepura 2000, and in Trisakti, Semanggi 1 and Semanggi 2 in 2001 in the capacity of chairman; as well as sitting as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Legal Rights and Human Affairs (Wantimpres) in January 2012.
As part of his visit to Papua representing Wantimpres, Albert met with both the Papuan government and the local Jayawijaya government. Among them, were the Papuan People’s Council (MRP), the papuan police chief, Kodam XVII Cenderawasih, and leaders of NGOs and churches. This visit was a follow-up from a meeting with Papuan community members at the Wantimpres office on the 3rd of July, 2012. (Jubi/Levi)
(Translated by West Papua Media volunteer translators)
A January 19 demonstration of over 500 people asserting Papuan rights to freedom of expression defied a police ban on gatherings in the remote town of Oksibil, in the Pegunungan Bintang (Star Mountains) Regency, close to the Papua New Guinea border. Challenging police to arrest over 500 people, the protest also announced a boycott of provincial gubernatorial elections being held in the regency until January 29.
Credible local sources reported to West Papua Media that local Papuan people had been frustrated with ongoing restrictions on independent Papuan political expression, and were asserting their human rights to free expression despite the risk of arrest.
“(We are here) to express the community’s opinion through a statement from the indigenous community of Papua, in regards to the matter of the blocking of the planned visit by the U.N Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right of Freedom of Expression and Opinion, Mr Frank La Rue, to Indonesia from 14-26 January 2012 which relates to the the decisions of the Human Rights Committee 107 and 108 at the U.N Session in Geneva,” a spokesperson for the local rights group West Papuan Interest Association told West Papua Media via email.
The sources also reported that the gathering was angered by the Regency police chief’s ban on public free expression, and so withdrew their consent and participation to the notoriously corrupt and divisive Indonesian imposed provincial gubernatorial election process.
The WPIA spokesperson told West Papua Media on Saturday afternoon via SMS that a large (but unspecified number) of police were physically blocking the demonstration from occurring, despite the rights to Freedom of Expression being guaranteed in both Indonesian law and also Special Autonomy legislation.
“The WPIA had sent a letter to the Head of Police in Pegunungan Bintang regarding the matter of the above peaceful gathering and advising them it would be carried out at Oksing-sing (in Pegunungan Bintang) on 23 January 2013, and that the group would remain in one location, nor would not disturb the proper order of public affairs or public activities, and would not be breaking any rules,” said the WPIA spokesperson.
“However the Head of Police in Pegunungan Bintang gave a letter in response saying they would not authorise the gathering,” said the spokesperson.
According to witnesses though, the gathered people were determined to go ahead with the planned action. Speakers said that if the action was prevented from occurring, the entire crowd of over 500 people would go immediately with the WPIA Organiser to the Pegunungan Bintang Police Headquarters.
“They would demand that the Police detain every one of them in the prison until 29 January 2013 after the general Election for the Provincial Governor, and then release them after that,” the WPIA spokesperson told West Papua Media.
Police reportedly backed down after this, though West Papua Media has not as yet been able to independently verify this.
Oksibil historically only has sporadic public events of political free expression, and remote area expressions of political dissent have usually been met with brutality. For the police to not forcefully disperse a gathering is exceptionally uncommon.
The demonstration self-dispersed without reported incident, and no reports have been received as yet about any reprisal actions from police.
Buchtar Tabuni, the Chairman of the pro-independence National Parliament of West Papua, was released unexpectedly from Abepura prison around 12pm West Papua time today, to a waiting group of about fifty of his supporters from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), according to multiple sources.
KNPB News reported that Tabuni sent an SMS message early this morning from prison. “To all the Free Papua fighters in Numbay, Sentani and its vicinity, at 9 this morning please pickup (at) Abepura LP”, Buchtar’s message read.
Local sources today reported to West Papua Media that about fifty KNPB members then escorted a relieved Tabuni from Abepura prison on a long march to the assassination site of his friend and KNPB colleague, former KNPB Chairman Mako Tabuni. Mako Tabuni was gunned down in broad daylight in a political assassination carried out by Australian-funded and trained Detachment 88 counter-terror officers outside the Perumnas 3 Dormitories in Waena on June 14, 2012, one week after Buchtar’s arrest. He was also due to be taken to the graveside of Mako Tabuni in order to pay his respects to his slain friend, colleague and clansman.
Tabuni was arrested on 6 June 2012 during an upsurge in mysterious “OTK” (orang Terlatih Khusus or “specially trained persons”) shootings, and publicly linked by then Papua Police Chief Bigman Tobing to the shootings. However, according to statements by Tabuni’s lawyer during his criminal trial in September, the entire case was “nothing more than a set up.”
Lawyer Gustaf Kawer said at the time, “Buchtar had been linked to the shooting of Miron Wetipo but that case has already been solved, so it was clear that the authorities were trying to make a scapegoat of Buchtar.”
Tabuni was in custody when more shootings occurred, so “Buchtar was not in any way connected with those shootings. So instead of being charged with the shootings,” said Kawer during Tabuni’s trial, “he now faces the charge of inflicting damage on the Abepura Prison in 2010, which means that he should have been arrested in 2010.”
In a highly opaque trial closed to independent witnesses, and marked by significant intimidation of journalists by police and court officials, Tabuni was convicted on a charge “for having allegedly inflicted damage on the Abepura prison in December 2011,” and “for exchanging harsh words with prison warders.”
In recent months, Tabuni’s health had suffered from his incarceration in Abepura prison, with complaints of respiratory illness, gastric diseases and dangerously low blood pressure, from his incarceration in atrocious and unhygienic conditions by Indonesian colonial prison authorities.
According to credible sources, Tabuni is spending the next days with family, friends and colleagues from KNPB to mourn the losses of his comrades, and to discuss and consider the next steps in the campaign for justice in West Papua.