PRESS RELEASE FROM ELSHAM PAPUA
December 19, 2012
Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi Hak Asasi Manusia
(Institute for Human Ri ghts Study and Advocacy of Papua)
Reverting to the DOM era: Papua back to being a Zone of Military Operations
There was a significant increase in the intensity of the conflicts and violence in Papua between August 2011 and December 2012. ELSHAM Papua reported on several incidents that had resulted in serious casualties and although the growing severity of the incidents was disturbing, these did not prompt the Government to react. These events include the overwhelming offensive called “Operasi Aman Matoa I 2011”, terror actions and shootings by unidentified perpetrators (OTK), cases of internal displacements, as well as cases of extrajudicial killing of civilians by the police.
“Operasi Aman Matoa I 2011” is the designation for an armed crime prevention operation that was set up in the areas of Puncak Jaya and Paniai. This operation was under direct command of the Chief of Police, and was run by the Operations Task Force (Satgas Ops) through police telegram letter No. STR/687/VIII/2011 dated 27 August 2011.
The Operations Task Force for Operasi Aman Matoa I 2011 was led by Drs. Leo Bona Lubis, the Commissioner of Police. During the execution of Operasi Aman Matoa I 2011 in the Paniai Regency, a number of grave human rights violations were perpetrated, which include:
(a) the taking of the lives of two civilians, Salmon Yogi (20) and Yustinus Agapa (30) who died as a direct result of the armed conflict,
(b) the inflicting of injuries to at least four civilians: Yulian Kudiai (22), Melkias Yeimo (35), Yohanis Yogi (25) and Paskalis Kudiai (21), who became victim as a result of the armed conflict,
(c) great material loss due to the armed conflict in Eduda District which includes 78 houses that were burnt by the Operations Task Force; educational activities at 8 elementary school (SD) and 2 Junior High School (SMP) that had to be halted; religious and worship services could no longer be ensured in eight Catholic churches, seven Kingmi churches and four GKII churches; hundreds of machetes, knives, saws, hammers, bows and arrows were confiscated;
(d) villagers no longer felt secure in their own homes and they fled. As many as 37 people perished while in displacement: 13 toddlers, 5 children, 17 adults and 2 elders;
(e) communities from the Districts of Komopa, Keneugida, Bibida, East Paniai and Kebo have endured material loss due to their displacement. The villagers were forbidden from going to their gardens by the members of the Operations Task Force. As a result, this primary source of livelihood for the communities was left neglected and unattended. Prior to the evacuation, 1581 heads of livestock were forcibly slaughtered, including as many as 478 pigs, 3 cows, 11 goats, 132 rabbits, 381 ducks, and 576 chickens. After returning to their homes and villages, the residents experienced severe food shortage. Members of the Operations Task Force had also damaged the fences built by the residents, as they used those as firewood.
Violent acts committed by the security forces, both the military and the police, are still common and they are in flagrant violation of a number of international humanitarian standards and principles. Some of the cases that we note are as follows:
a. The heavy-handed assault carried out by the police against Persipura fans at Mandala Stadium on 13 May 2012, which led to 18 people suffering from respiratory problems due to tear gas that had been fired indiscriminately and six others being detained arbitrarily.
b. The shooting of four people in Degeuwo by the police on 15 May 2012, by which one person was killed and the other three were seriously wounded.
c. The assault against civilians in Honai Lama Wamena on 6 June 2012, by members of the Indonesian army (TNI) Battalion 756 Wimane Sili, which resulted in one person dead and 14 others seriously injured.
d. The arbitrary arrest and torture by the police of 10 people in the town of Serui, as they were commemorating the International Day for Indigenous People on 9 August 2012.
e. The forced disbanding by the police of a KNPB-led demonstration that was about to start in front of the campus of the State University of Papua in Manokwari on 23 October 2012. A total of 15 people were detained by the police, nine of them were tortured, and 2 others suffered gunshot wounds.
Summary executions by the police of pro-democracy activists who are active within the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) continue to occur. The extrajudicial shooting of Mako Tabuni (34), First Chairman of the KNPB on 14 June 2012, is clear evidence of acts of police brutality against civilians. A similar killing occurred in Wamena on 16 December 2012, when the police shot dead Hubertus Mabel (30), militant KNPB Chairman for the Baliem region.
Other violent acts such as terror acts and shootings by unknown assailants increased, both in 2011 and 2012. From 5 July to 6 September 2011, there were 28 shooting incidents where 13 people were killed and at least 32 people were wounded. Meanwhile, throughout 2012, there were 45 attacks by unknown assailants, killing 34 people, injuring 35 people and causing severe trauma to 2 people.
One of the worrisome events that received very little attention from the Government was the crisis which lasted from July to November 2012 in the Keerom where villagers fled their homes as they no longer felt secure because of activities conducted by the security forces. A joint effort between ELSHAM Papua and the Keerom Catholic Church enabled the return to their homes of 38 internally displaced people (IDPs) who had fled into the jungle.
Various cases of violence and human rights violations that occurred in Papua totally escaped the attention of the central Government and that of local Papuans. Conditions such as these indicate that the status of Papua as an autonomous region has turned into a status of “Special Operations Region”, similar to what was experienced in the decades between 1970 and 2000 when Papua was designated as a Military Operations Area (DOM). Legal impunity for the perpetrators of the violence becomes flagrantly visible as the perpetrators of such violence are practically never brought to justice, nor do they receive fitting sentences.
Prohibiting international humanitarian organizations, international journalists and foreign researchers from accessing the Papuan region inevitably gives way to the increasing acts of violence by security forces in that region. Elite units, such as Anti-Terror Special Detachment 88, are conducting activities that are contrary to their mandate as they themselves are the ones creating terror against activists of the pro-democracy movement in Papua.
Bearing in mind the socio-political conditions faced by Papuans today, ELSHAM Papua is calling for:
1. the Indonesian Government, to open access to international humanitarian agencies, international journalists and foreign researchers to the region so they can freely visit and monitor the human rights situation in Papua;
2. the police of the Republic of Indonesia, to immediately reveal to the public the identity of those responsible for the numerous attacks and mysterious shootings that have occurred lately in Papua;
3. the Indonesian Government and groups opposing the Government, to choose dialogue as a way to end the conflict and the ongoing violence in Papua;
4. the military and the police, to uphold and respect the universal principles of human rights that have been ratified by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia.
- Densus 88 shoot and arrest KNPB leaders near Wamena as tensions rises (westpapuamedia.info)
- UK Embassy denies fake journalism in Bintang Papua article (westpapuamedia.info)
- Five Months As Refugees Eating Only Sago Worms and Wood Worms (westpapuamedia.info)
- Victor Yeimo and others arrested as police crackdown on December 1 protests in Jayapura (westpapuamedia.info)
- Indonesia cannot kill our spirit for freedom: West Papuan leader (westpapuamedia.info)
- 38 Papuans flee TNI/Polri security sweeps in Keerom (westpapuamedia.info)
- Indonesian special forces hunt West Papuan environmentalist (westpapuamedia.info)
- KNPPB A Rival Organization Created By Indonesia To Compete With KNPB (westpapuamedia.info)
- Australian media only tells half the story about West Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
PUBLIC STATEMENTIndex: ASA 21/031/2012
10 August 2012
Amnesty International calls for an independent and impartial investigation into reports that police used unnecessary and excessive force to disperse a peaceful demonstration in Papua province commemorating International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on 9 August 2012.
If the investigation finds that the security forces committed human rights violations, then those responsible, including persons with command responsibility, should be prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness, and victims provided with reparations.
At least seven people were arbitrarily arrested during and after the demonstration and are being held at the Yapen District police station. They should be released immediately and unconditionally if they have been arrested solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) and military from the 1709 District Military Command (Kodim) led by the Yapen District Police Chief blocked hundreds of peaceful protesters as they marched on the morning of 9 August 2012 in Serui, Yapen Island.
According to local sources, the Indonesian security forces then fired their guns into the air to disperse the protesters, causing many to flee in fear. At least six protesters were arbitrarily arrested during the demonstration and some were reportedly beaten by security forces during their arrest. The police then travelled to Mantembu village to arrest one of the demonstration organizers, a local political activist. When they could not find him they arrested his wife, who is reportedly eight months pregnant.
The actions of the security forces fly in the face of statements made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in February 2012 that he wanted an end to repressive actions by the military and police in Papua.
The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are guaranteed in Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party. Moreover, these rights are protected under Indonesia’s Constitution. However, Amnesty International has documented dozens of other cases of arbitrary arrest and detention in past years of peaceful political activists in Papua.
Amnesty International continues to receive credible reports of human rights violations committed by the security forces in the provinces of Papua and West Papua, including torture and other ill-treatment, unnecessary and excessive use of force and firearms by the security forces and possible unlawful killings. Investigations into reports of human rights violations by the security forces are rare and only a few perpetrators have been brought to justice.
During a 2008 gathering to commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous People in Papua, peaceful demonstrator Opinus Tabuni was discovered dead with a bullet wound clearly visible in his chest, after police opened fire at the crowd. Despite a police investigation, to date no one has been held to account for his death.
Bintang Papua, 20 August 2011
KNPB, the National Committee for West Papua, is scheduled to announce
the results of the meeting organised by ILWP, International Lawyers for
West Papua in Oxford, at 9am this morning , at the tomb of Theys Hiyo
Bintang Papua also reported that Major-General Erfi Triassumu, commander
of the XXVII/Cendrawasih Military Command, said he has not yet had any
reports about the results of the ILWP meeting in Oxford, but said that
the ILWP event has triggered events affecting the security situation,
especially in Papua.
In a meeting with the press, he said that promises made by various
groups were causing confusion among the population. It was not only
because of the armed activities of civilian groups that had occurred
before and after the ILWP meeting. The security situation had indeed
intensified throughout Papua recently, which had happened both before
and after the ILWP meeting.
Other factors were the election of the governor of Papua as well as the
special autonomy law – OTSUS. People were hoping that OTSUS funds would
be evenly distributed among the communities, although some of the funds
could not yet be released.
He said that he along with the police chief in Papua had together
committed to doing what they could to restore a conducive situation in
Meanwhile, the district chief of Puncak Jaya, Lukas Emenbe. called on
everyone whatever their differing opinions to hold a dialogue in order
to agree on peaceful solutions. ‘ All these problems can be resolved,’
he said, ‘as long as we publicly express our opinions.’
The military commander, asked whether there would be an increase in the
number of troops in preparation for the forthcoming Idul Fitri [the last
two days of Ramadan] said that organic troops may carry out routine
movements because the Korem under Battalion 751 in Sentani does not
have special units available for security purposes.
Asked about the manoeuvres by armed groups which had been involved in
fighting in urban areas such as in Nafri, he said because of the current
civil emergency status, the police would be in the front line together
with the local government, because the govrnor, the district chief and
the city mayor are the ones who are responsible for security.’
‘I will assist if there is a request from the police for additional
personnel to help the police,’ he said.
- Warinussy on importance of ILWP meeting in August (westpapuamedia.info)
- ROAD TO FREEDOM IN JAYAPURA – Video (westpapuamedia.info)
- Indon military open fire on vehicles carrying KNPB activists, arrests ahead of Aug 20 gathering (westpapuamedia.info)
from Westpapuamedia.info and Local Sources
Indonesian Police and Army from a joint taskforce opened fire on a car of West Papua independence activists in Abepura, West Papua, on August 18, after arresting three other activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) for distributing pamphlet in support of demonstrations planned for August 20.
The shooting occurred when KNPB (Komite Nasional Papua Barat) members attended the Jayapura police headquarters to check on the welfare of detainee Octovianus Mayor. Mayor was arrested by members of the joint TNI/POLRI taskforce at 1000am local time at Expo Waena, for distributing pamphlets for a planned announcement on August 20 of resolutions from the Oxford ILWP “Road to Freedom” conference, at the grave of the late Theys Hiyo Eluay in Sentani. Mayor is the Secretary General of the Timika Region KNPB.
Colleagues of Mayor went by car to Abepura police station upon hearing of his arrest to ensure his safety. Demi Asso, Soni Kosa and several friends asked police guarding a post at Abepura of the whereabouts of their friend, whose location was given by police at District Police Jayapura. After they left the police station and drove towards PolRes Jayapura. According to witnesses, police followed the activists from the police station, and began to shoot at their car, a black Avansa.
Police quickly pursued the KNPB activists vehicle, which was fired on by police officer Bripka Numberi at 12.000 midday, at Abepura circle, Jayapura, Papua.
Bripka Numberi allegedly fired indiscriminately in pursuit of the vehicle,shooting 10 rounds into the rear of the car, 4 rounds through the windscreen, 6 rounds into the rear bumper and 1 round in the wheel, causing the Avansa to stop. The vehicles occupants panicked and ran, according to a a KNPB witness report and chronology obtained by West Papua Media. The police continued to open fire on the unarmed group, shooting Demi Asso, Soni Kosay in the feet. The three other unidentified activists did not sustain bullet wounds, and police arrested all immediately. At around 13:00 the two shot KNPB activists and three others were taken to the Jayapura Police for further processing.
KNPB have appealed for support from international human rights observers, lawyers and NGOs to press for a credible investigation into the circumstances of this arrest and the excessive force used by Police to capture unarmed activists.
- ROAD TO FREEDOM IN JAYAPURA – Video (westpapuamedia.info)
- Photo Report: Mass ralllies show Papuans refuse to accept Indonesian Occupation (westpapuamedia.info)
- West Papua – Indon Security Forces Fail in Attempt to Block Access for Demonstrations Across Papua, Militias on Streets in Jayapura (westpapuamedia.info)
- People’s Liberation Party slams activist’s arrest at Papuan independence demo (westpapuamedia.info)
- West Papua Report August 2011 (westpapuamedia.info)
The Indonesian State is responsible for the shooting of three civilians in Dogiyai
(JAKARTA, Friday, May 13th 2011) – The Anti-Militaristic Papuan Students’ Coalition urges the Head of the National Police to immediately dismiss the Heads of Papua provincial police, Nabire regency police and Moanemani district police after the shooting of three civilians that occurred in Moanemani district, Dogiyai regency, Papua.
This was stated by Frans Tomoki from the Anti-Militaristic Papuan Students’ Coalition during a press conference at the KontraS office, Jln. Borobudur No. 14, on Friday, May 13th.
According to Frans, shooting incidents have been occurring for nearly one month but haven’t been clarified yet. He also criticized the brutal behavior of the police officers who shot at civilians without warning.
“There must be a warning before shooting, but the police directly opened fire without thinking of the possible consequences. This can be categorized as a serious human rights violation.”
According to Agus Okama Kosay, human rights violation have been going on in Papua since the territory was forcefully merged into Indonesia. “From 1961 on there have been human rights violation and tensions keep rising.”
In the Reformasi era, all the more since the implementation of the Special Autonomy Law, human rights violations should have decreased. But this eventually didn’t materialize. As compared to the Ancient and New Order eras, the Special Autonomy era is even worse.
“Why do Papuan people think that the Special Autonomy is a total failure? Because human rights violations keep occurring and the central government never tried to solve this problem,” Agus explained.
The Anti-Militaristic Papuan Students’ Coalition also urges the international community to lobby the Indonesian government to take responsibility for the frequent serious human rights violations in Papua, including the shooting incident in Dogiyai regency.
Images of shooting sites, Dogiyai (IMages courtesy of witnesses on ground)
“The international community must lobby the Indonesian government to thoroughly investigate several human rights violations in Papua,” Agus added.
The shooting of three civilians by police officers took place on April 13th, 2011, around 1.30 pm. It began as police officers raided a togel [illegal lottery] kiosk in Moanemani market housing complex. They seized the money belonging to the togel vendor who was just known as an agent working in fact for police members.
A group of people refused this and followed the police car to the district police station. The upset police officers shot at three civilians and wounded two others, directly in front of the district police station. Dominikus Auwe (24), Otniel Yobe (26) and Agus Pigay (24) died, while two of their friends were critically wounded.
As a consequence, local people were angered and torched the Moanemani district police station as well as several kiosks belonging to migrants from other islands, including the illegal lottery kiosk operated under the names of First Brigadiers I Made Sudarsa and Eka. Papua provincial police sent two Brimob [Mobile Brigade] platoons to secure the area in Dogiyai and investigate the involvement of police officers but to date, no further clarification was provided. (**)
- Front Pepera PB: “Stop the Joint Indonesian Military/Police Operation against civilians in Dogiyai Regency” (westpapuamedia.info)
- Front Pepera: “Military and Police called upon to immediately restore sense of security to the people of Kamuu Valley” (westpapuamedia.info)
- Papuan students in Jakarta call for end to murders of Papuan people (westpapuamedia.info)
- Two people shot dead in Dogiyai but no action has been taken to solve the case (westpapuamedia.info)
- More Mysterious Killings near Nabire (westpapuamedia.info)
Bintang Papua, 15 March 2011
[Abridged in translation into English]
Eight nurses and midwives have been arrested in Jayapura for their
involvement in a strike that resulting in a halt to services at the
general hospital in Jayapura. They face charges of inciting their
colleagues to take part in a strike.
[See earlier reports about the strike of medical personnel who were
protesting against the failure of the authorities to pay incentives that
had been promised more than a year ago.]
The eight persons are being held by the criminal investigation unit of
the Papuan police command. The police claim that there is sufficient
proof that the persons had acted in violation of the law, forcing others
to engage in acts of violence and citing a number of articles in
Indonesia’s criminal code. Media attempts to contact the police for
confirmation of the arrest were unsuccessful.
According to Anum Siregar, one of the lawyers acting for the eight, a
group of fifty personnel from the security forces had gone to the homes of two of the persons and told them that they must report to police headquarters in Papua. The two women, Leni Ebe and Popi Mauri, then contacted the lawyer to inform her of what had happened. The two women then reported to the police as requested, in the company of the lawyer.
The two had earlier received notification from the police that they
would be summoned as witnesses in connection with the strike action of the hospital personnel.
According to Anum Siregar, after being questioned for several hours by
the police as witnesses, the police changed tack and indicated that they were being held as suspects. Soon after, the police took the six others into custody.
According to Bintang Papua, the eight detainees have been subjected to prolonged interrogations while other personnel from the hospital have rallied in support of their colleagues. Anum Siregar accused the police of acting in violation of the rule of law, saying that the medical
personnel were only acting in defence of their legitimate rights. She
also said that the action by the police would have a negative effect on the provision of services for patients at the general hospital.
‘The impact will not be felt by officials in the province because they
never go to the local hospital for treatment on occasions when they fall ill but fly to Jakarta or overseas for treatment.’
She also said that the arrests had led to expressions of solidarity from
members of the medical profession throughout the Land of Papua in
protest against the actions of the police.
- Nurses in Papua take their complaints to governor.. and to the ALDP (westpapuamedia.info)
(Note: West Papua Media and illegal arms smuggling investigators have long raised this issue with the PNG and Australian governments, however, evidence collected from the ground has implicated INdonesian military sources, not West Papuan opposition sources. The reporting in this piece is disingenuous and misleading by lumping this together with Operation Sunset Merona, implying that West Papuan refugees were involved in weapons smuggling. This has never been the case. Widespread research has documented a pathway of Indonesian military officers exchanging weapons for Marijuana with Raskol gangs from the PNG highlands, and with Indonesian officials in PNG openly flooding the country with small arms via illegal logging networks. Please contact West Papua Media for more background).
BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific
February 21, 2011
Papua New Guinea Raises Concerns Over Arms Smuggling At Indonesian Border
Text of report by Papua New Guinea newspaper The National website on 21
[Article by Isaac Nicholas: 'Weapons smuggling a concern']
Western law enforcement authorities have raised concerns about arms
smuggling into the province from Australia and Indonesia, saying it is
a threat to national security.
Provincial Police Commander Peter Philip said his men had confiscated
arms ranging from high-powered semi-automatic weapons to small arms
He also raised concerns that Operation Sunset Merona refugees had been flown into East Arwin refugee camp without consultations with
provincial authorities, adding that the flight of more than 50 refugees by the PNGDF Casa aircraft into Kiunga was causing further strain on the limited resources in the province.
Philip said the frequency of illegal gun smuggling was higher than
what was happening up at the West Sepik border.
Ningerum Prison acting Commander Wini Nemo also raised similar
concerns that the extra people on the ground would also put pressure
on the jail holding capacity of 30 inmates, adding that the jail was
Similar sentiments were conveyed to Correctional Services Minister
Tony Aimo during a visit to the North Fly township of Kiunga last
Provincial Magistrate Patrick Monouluk said arms smuggling was a
concern for authorities which lacked the capacity to police the vast
Last week, Monouluk sentenced a man to 18 months imprisonment for
smuggling arms and ammunition. Simon Somo Harquart from Mapos Village, Buang, in Morobe, was arrested by police when he attempted to move three firearms from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait into Daru.
Acting on a tip-off, police confiscated a .22 squibman rifle, 303
rifle, self-loading rifle and more than 150 rounds of ammunition.
Monouluk found him guilty and after sentencing, Harquart was
transferred to Bomana Jail outside Port Moresby.
Aimo admitted that arms smuggling and free movement of people across
the border of Indonesia and Australia was a major security concern and
he would raise the issue through reporting to the National Executive
Council to extend the operations from West Sepik to Western.
“We are sitting on a time bomb. There is exchange of guns and drugs
along this Western border which Waigani does not know about,” Aimo
“It is very fragile and a threat to our national security.”
Source: The National website, Port Moresby, in English 21 Feb 11
- RNZI: PNG soldiers storm home of suspended West Sepik Police Commander (westpapuamedia.info)
- PNG troops burn down border West Papua refugee camps as refugees flee to the jungle (westpapuamedia.info)
- Wikileaks – US Government blames Jakarta for unrest in West Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
- AAP: PNG launches border security operation (westpapuamedia.info)
- Parkop Letter to Png Pm Somare: Halt to Police Operation in Sandaun Provinvce. (westpapuamedia.info)
JUBI: 17 February 2011
A lawyer in Jayapura, Gustaf Kawer, has called on the police to be transparent and explain what happened to Miron Wetipo, who was being held in the Abepura Prison. He was shot dead by the police/TNI and Densus 88 during a sweeping operation and searches being undertaken by BTN Puskopad (an army unit).
‘The police must be transparent and explain publicly what happened to Miron Wetipo. All the more so since Miron was not the person who was behind the shooting in Nafri. The police should tell his family and the general public what happened,’ said Gustaf Kawer. He also said that it was important for the name of the peron responsible for the shooting to be made public so as not to cast suspicion on the whole of the police force.
‘They must have the courage to say who it was in the security forces who shot Wetipo. They cannot ignore this case because it involves a violation of human rights that must be resolved,’ he said.
Miron Wetipo was shot dead by forces of the police/TNI and Densus 88 while they were on sweeping operations and were searching the home in the location of BTN, Puskopad, in the district of Abepura, Jayapura, Papua. He was also thought to be a leader of the OPM and was involved in the shooting that occurred inNafri Kampung on Sunday, 27 November 2010.
[The article includes a photo of a poster saying: 'Who is it who murdered Miron Wetipo'.
- Situation tense in Jayapura as police and military launch operations (westpapuamedia.info)
- Indonesian Civil Society: Open letter to SBY Raising Concern and Offering Solution:: One-Year Human Rights Promotion in Papua 2010 (westpapuamedia.info)
- Abepura prison director, staff, accused of violence towards prisoners (westpapuamedia.info)
- Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni to face charges ‘for damaging public property’ (westpapuamedia.info)
WARNING: This video contains disturbing images of extreme brutality and will be disturbing to most viewers. Please complain to the Indonesian security forces if you do not wish to see this.
Indonesian military brutality and torture of West Papuan civilians is revealed in a video released today exclusively by West Papua Media.
The footage shows troops from Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88, who receive Australian and US military training, engaged in a raid in late May 2009 on the Papuan village of Kampung Bagusa, at Kapeso airstrip in Mamberamo regency.
The footage, filmed by a Detachment 88 officer on his mobile phone, shows the immediate aftermath of the raid. The bodies of at least five dead villagers are visible on the ground and there is sporadic gunfire clearly heard.
The incident occurred at the end of a month long occupation of the remote airstrip by an local religious group, and was transformed into a demonstration of widespread pro-independence sentiment by an off-shoot of the TPN or National Liberation Army. Local military and police commanders sent troops to clear the airstrip, including the elite Detachment 88 force. Negotiations between local people and security forces broke down in confused circumstances, and security forces attacked all present. The aftermath of this operation is depicted in the video.
The footage shows Detachment 88 troops urgently taking cover behind desks in a pendopo (traditional ceremonial shelter) whilst under alleged attack. Curiously, whilst troops are allegedly being shot at by unknown shooters off camera, the solider continues to narrate calmly and film proceedings whilst he is standing up, exposed to alleged fire. This does raise the possibility that the entire proceedings are staged for the benefit of the camera.
Disturbing scenes at the end of the footage appear to show two Papuan children tied up and being forced at gunpoint to crawl along the floor by the Indonesian military. The footage continues to show them in apparent pain while the soldiers taunt them.
To date, no satisfactory transparent investigation has occurred of the events surrounding the Kapeso occupation and subsequent shooting of civilians by security forces. West Papua is routinely closed by the Indonesian government to International Media and Human Rights Observers.
Regardless of the circumstances of alleged armed provocations, Indonesian security forces are again displaying excessive force to civilians and non-combatants and in particular to children. Indonesia has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but has so far refused to ratify the Convention’s Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
The footage is sure to raise further questions about the activities of the Indonesian military in West Papua, as well the involvement of the Australian military in training and arming those seen in this footage. The video was passed to West Papua Media via a member of the Indonesian security forces who stated that the circulation of this form of ‘trophy footage’ is rampant amongst troops operating in the region.
PLEASE NOTE: There is a translation error in the subtitles in this footage which is quite critical. At approximately 00:54 (seconds), where soldiers are pursuing West Papuan people, the dialogue is incorrect.
From a correspondent:
“”jangan dibunuh” is translated as “don’t get killed” but should be “don’t kill them”. It’s common to issue orders in passive register like that. It is followed by “diborgol” ie “handcuff them”. It’s a big difference, since it is suggestive of how often extra-judicial killings do take place – the soldiers on scene have to be reminded to NOT kill the prisoners. “
The video can be viewed at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VD0eFA4scTo
or watching below:
For all media enquiries please contact Nick Chesterfield at West Papua Media on firstname.lastname@example.org or +61409268978
An Indonesian BRIMOB source today (Feb 9) sent West Papua Media these images of personnel from the Pelopor taskforce depicted in the footage above on their way via speedboat to conduct the operation to retake the airfield. The individual officer in the foreground of the upper image has been identified as the cameraman and narrator of the footage.
West Papua Media apologises for the low-quality of the footage due to it being filmed on mobile phone in low resolution
A higher quality version of the footage is available to media upon application under strict conditions; unfortunately YouTube automatically loses quality during upload. Please contact West Papua Media for arrangements
by Nick Chesterfield and local sources
January 28, 2011
Scenes of terror and destruction have erupted around Papua New Guinea’s frontier town of Vanimo, as an unprecedented and contentious PNG military operation against unarmed West Papuan refugees has arrested scores and burned over 30 houses to the ground.
79 people (28 Men, 24 Women and 27 Children) are currently being held in cramped and hot conditions at an interim processing facility outside the Vanimo Police Station, which has been taken over by police from Port Moresby after local police refused to cooperate. Special taskforce Police are refusing to provide meals, which are having to be supplied by the local Vanimo catholic diocese, although there are no current allegations of mistreatment whilst in custody.
Nine men have been charged with unspecified charges relating to armed activities though refugee advocates have denied that these people are resident of the camps raided. Enquiries by West Papua Media have found none have access to legal representation at this stage.
On January 23 at Blackwater refugee camp outside Vanimo, 19 houses were set on fire by Police and Soldiers from Port Moresby, while residents were rounded up on trucks and taken to Vanimo Police Station. According to a detailed witness report provided by the coordinator of West Papuan refugees living in Vanimo, Barias Jikwa, the operation began at 1:00 am local time when houses were surrounded, and houses began to be razed at 04:00 am. Troops then used spades and guns to destroy the refugees’ food and edible crops.
Border Security Operation
Confusion and official intransigence has surrounded the border security Operation Sunset Merona. by PNG Defence Force (PNGDF), Police, Customs, and Foreign Affairs officials. Troops from PNGDF’s 1st Royal Pacific Islands Regiment (1RPIR) flew in from Port Moresby in January under the command of Joint Forces Commander Jerry Frank together with out of area general
police officers from Boroko, Bomana, Gordons, and Waigani. The elite and often notorious Mobile Brigade were not included in the operation, although human rights sources have drawn attention to the standard operating procedure of house burnings that Mobile Brigade have employed with squatters and landowners affected by mining and forestry.
Sunset Merona was originally announced as a law enforcement exercise to counter the illegal flow of goods across the border from Indonesian military (Tentara Nasional Indonesia or TNI) sources that were hurting indigenous PNG businesses, and to ensure there were no illegal workers within the logging companies from Malaysia and Indonesia operating at the PNG – West
Papua border. Most shops in Vanimo are owned by non-Papuans, and all sell goods of non-PNG origin at marked up prices, but still vastly cheaper than PNG produced goods. To date, there is no verifiable information that vendors of illegal goods have been caught up the security dragnet.
According to the West Papuan Refugee Relief Association (WPRRA) in Vanimo, a registered NGO, the raids were carried out “after a week of operation on the legal permits and identities of logging workers from Malaysia and Indonesia who spread across Vanimo, Madang and Wewak and besides logging activities, who also dominate the marketplaces of those provinces right now.”
The offensive, dubbed a politically motivated stunt by dissident members of PNG security forces, descended on remote border camps and villages and made arrests of logging workers and Indonesian military personnel, though it is believed these initial arrestees were released to make way for Refugee arrests after protest from Indonesian diplomatic representatives in Vanimo.
Up to 700 personnel are reportedly involved across PNG, though the joint force in Vanimo currently numbers only 150 personnel.
The offensive is exposing deep divisions in PNG security personnel, with several local security officers being stood down during the operation for “refusing to work for Indonesian interests”. One security source who wished to remain anonymous said “This operation is a stunt; a political charade”. He went on to further explain that the sudden change of tactic may have also been created by a hazy early January violent incident between Indonesian and PNGDF soldiers inside Batas, the vast TNI owned shopping complex just metres from the PNG border at Wutung.
After several weeks of rumours and uncertainty surrounding the true purpose of Sunset Merona, the operation has deteriorated into an offensive against Indonesia’s enemies in PNG, the West Papuan people. “Once again, this stunt operation is deeply suspicious in its timing, with Indonesia currently engaged in a systematic sweep and terror campaign for nonviolent activists from Jayapura to the border. The questions PNG people need to have answered is, are these two offensives working in conjunction with one another, and what kind of Melanesians are we to do the Jakarta’s work?”
In Yako village, 18 houses were burned down, and possessions and food gardens were systematically destroyed by troops. Yako camp housed over 50 families forced out of Blakwara camp by threats from local landowners allegedly in league with Indonesian military linked logging interests.
A spokesperson for the Blakwara community, Yalli Jikwa, 39, said “The arrest of villagers and burning of houses is a violation of our rights as refugees, and the PNG government must take responsibility for its actions.”
Also under attack were the villages of Dawi, Wara Duanda, Musu, Dasi, Warakarap, Ambas, Bebfsi and Skotchiou. Houses have been confirmed razed at Dawi (4 houses), Bebfsi (3) and Musu (At least 4), with unconfirmed reports of every other village targeted having burnt houses. Local human rights monitors are still attempting to confirm the situation in other villages.
There have been no confirmed reports to date that any person has been shot or any weapons discharged in these operations so far. Some early allegations of severe mistreatment (beatings) in Blakwara and Yako, with over at least ten people still in the Vanimo Hospital currently being treated for their injuries.
Local human rights sources have reported that all villagers and refugees fled to the surrounding jungle prior to the raids, and have not retaliated. Amongst those fleeing were large numbers of guerrillas who have been asked by PNGDF to surrender, but are so far ignoring the request.
The RPNGC commander of Joint Forces for Operation Sunset Merona, Jerry Frank, has described all the arrested people as separatists despite clear information that almost all refugees at the attacked camps had been registered as refugees and/or permissive residents for many years, and many were non political.
Radio NZ International has reported that PNG authorities have arbitrarily decided that anyone found not be a citizen of PNG will be considered an OPM activist and sent to East Awin refugee camp, which although overflowing, is under the control of the UNHCR and attended closely by Catholic relief agencies. However, PNG’s acting deputy police commissioner Fred Yakasa
acknowledged that they cannot return refugees to Indonesia to face possible arrest or execution . “It would be wrong to send those people back to Papua to an unknown fate,” Yakasa stated. “We respect Indonesia and West Irian as an integral part of Indonesia and that respect is there and we just want to make sure no rebel activity or anything of that nature advances on our side of the border.”
Dissident police officers in Sandaun see it differently. “Far from defending PNGs sovereignty, we are asking `how high’ before the TNI thugs even tell us to jump,” explained a senior security source in Sandaun on condition of anonymity. “It is like somebody fears they lose out on their logging spoils”.
West Papuan refugees spoken with by West Papua Media also paint an entirely different picture to that put forward by Somare’s operation. They have accused the Prime Minister Michael Somare of acceding to clandestine Indonesian demands, and acting preserve his alleged business interests with the Indonesian military.
“How dare he treat his own wantoks like this for the Indonesians. We are not Indonesians, We are West Papuans, which is why we fled from the brutality of the Indonesian military year after year. Our whole lives have been in limbo in Papua New Guinea, denied education, denied jobs, even when some of us have been welcomed as wantoks by good hearted PNG folk. And now this criminal Somare is treating peaceful refugees like this just so he can please his bosses in Jakarta and safeguard his retirement bilas (trinkets),” said one elderly West Papuan refugee who was too angry to give his name when spoken to by West Papua Media by phone yesterday.
PM Somare recently stood aside pending investigation on corruption and official misconduct charges, but has quietly reinstated himself into the Prime Ministership functions with little protest from PNG political figures, many of whom also have documented involvement with Indonesian military business interests. However this operation has been in planning for several months, with almost K2.5 million budgeted for a six week initial operation, with the possibility of extension.
Local Business Complexities
Refugee spokespeople have alluded to local business interests playing a significant role in the evictions, which local security sources have confirmed. Most refugee camps targeted in this operation are surrounded by extremely valuable timber resources, and logging interests and national power politics are playing a significant part in the recent events.
The MP for Vanimo-Green River, Belden Namah, whose family traditionally provide refuge for both the OPM and refugees, has publicly condoned the harsh operations. As the villages were being razed Namah issued a statement criticising the Sunset Merona personnel, not for their harsh treatment of civilians, but for allegedly encouraging local people to demand logging companies pay for timber they remove from forests. “This is very, very disgraceful,” Namah said, “It is a national disgrace for landowners to be told by security forces to set road blocks to collect road levies, when such infrastructures are national assets,” he said.
Under the PNG Constitution, Land belongs to the people, and it is not legally a national asset unless a specific act of Parliament has been enacted. Under these provisions, resource companies must legally pay for compensation for land they damage and resources they expropriate. Somare (and Namah) in June rammed through a change to the Environment and Conservation Act, but that is deemed by many in PNG to be unconstitutional.
“If they are targeting foreign workers for work permits, passports and other related documents, that is fine, but why are they encouraging the landowners to engage in actions that causes disruption and destructive to the smooth operations of companies in the area….. The security forces must concentrate on the core focus of the operation.” Namah explained in his statement that this was to destroy OPM camps on the PNG side of the border.
At this point no allegations have been made to West Papua Media that Namah is influencing the operation, but as the local MP and a member of the Sandaun Provincial Security Committee, Namah is in a unique position to do so. Ironically, Namah came to power on the back of a concerted social movement resisting Indonesian control of logging, helping to create the GVG Moma landowner controlled co-operative ensuring community control and veto over unsustainable logging. “Men, women and children have suffered for a very long time. The Government has abandoned its responsibility to the people, it seems. We must ensure that the benefits to the people are real and sustainable,” Namah explained in 2006.
Despite this, Namah is heavily involved as both a Forestry Minister, and an owner of major forestry businesses in Sandaun which have allegedly perpetrated serious environmental and social abuses against those opposed to unregulated clearance of old growth Papuan Jungle. GVG Moma, which has increased its harvest since 2006 of highly valuable kwila/merbau, teak and other tropical hardwoods, are seeking to exploit the high value forest on which the refugee camps stand. According to local security sources, GVG Moma are also currently utilising the same distribution and personnel networks as when the TNI directly controlled Vanimo Forest Products prior to 2006. The former PNGDF Captain Namah, who was gaoled and pardoned for his leading role in the Sandline mercenary crisis, has attracted significant controversy during his time as Forestry Minster for accruing significant wealth and property across the Pacific.
West Papua analysts have long been concerned about the connection between illegal logging in the area and the Indonesian military business interests having the potential to extend the already serious human rights abuses in West Papua into PNG territory. Wikileaks recently revealed cables from the US Embassy in Jakarta that accused Indonesian military officers of
deep involvement in illegal logging operations on both sides of the border. A 2006 cable details a briefing from a PNG government official reporting the TNI were ”involved in both illegal logging and drug smuggling in PNG”.
Local human rights and security sources are describing the atmosphere across Sandaun province as highly tense following the launch of the offensive. Since before PNG independence, there has long been widespread sympathy and tolerance for given West Papuans forced to flee violence safe refuge in the country. However, PNG also has a strong history of local businesses leaders working closely with Indonesian mercantile interests to clear refugees out of Sandaun, but this is the first time security forces in PNG have acted so blatantly in alliance with Indonesian policy of a military approach to rooting out West Papuan desires for independence.
Rumours are beginning to circulate that many ordinary people supporting West Papuans in Sandaun will take unspecified direct action to protest the treatment of their wantoks.
Local security forces refuse to co-operate.
Reports from security sources on the ground currently in Vanimo have confirmed to West Papua Media that soldiers from the local 2RPIR battalion were sidelined and local units of police were also refusing to cooperate with the operation.
The Provincial Commander of RPNGC in Sandaun Province, Sakuva Kasieng, was suspended by the RPNGC Commissioner for labelling the operation as politically motivated. West Papua Media unsuccessfully attempted to reach Kasieng for comment.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in December between Kasieng and the representatives of the Free Papua Movement (OPM – Organisasi Papua Merdeka) based in Sandaun, to allow training of OPM forces in civil resistance techniques. A senior intermediary for OPM units in the area who was responsible for the training, was not available for comment at time of
writing, nor to confirm whether the training was offensive and armed, or for nonviolent civil resistance tactics. Regular civil resistance training of refugees by activists and leaders within the nonviolent movement have been conducted for many years in PNG.
However, refugees have categorically denied that any armed struggle or violence training had been conducted in, near, or with any members of the villages that were targeted by operation Sunset Merona. “The accusation that these villages were National Liberation Army training bases is completely false. These villages attacked have no connection at all to the TPN, and Somare knows it,” explained Yalli Jikwa.
Security and local sources familiar with the MoU have alleged that a senior (and elderly) Papuan resistance figure was displeased with the training program, and allegedly provided a copy of the MoU to Indonesian Special Forces agents stationed at the Indonesian Consulate in Vanimo. The sources described a subsequent surprise inspection by an Indonesian “consultant”
to Blakwara camp in mid-December as a catalyst that changed the officially tolerant PNG government attitude to the camps that has been in existence since 1963.
West Papua and security analysts across the Pacific have long feared that cross border “hot pursuit” operations carried by Indonesian troops may draw other countries into a regional conflict. There is suspicion the TNI has pressured the PNGDF to act as its proxy to achieve its military objectives on neutralising the West Papuan resistance, and therefore avoid the potential for border violation. However, both Jakarta and Waigani deny this.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs was unable to provide comment prior to deadline.
Uncertainty for Refugees already in Limbo
PNG is home to around 12,000 West Papuan refugees who have fled Indonesian state violence in several major waves since occupation began in 1962. Several hundred refugees accepted facilitated repatriation last year with guarantees of land, cash and non-persecution. However the majority of refugees present say they have a well founded fear of persecution and cannot return. Refugees are deemed by PNG as permissive non-citizens which enables them to work but not to gain any legal certainty in housing, education or as citizens.
The refugee relief NGO WPRRA are demanding that the PNG government are called to account for their “inhuman operations against refugees who took refuge in PNG due to the Indonesian brutalities”, and that the governments of Vanuatu, New Zealand and others assist these displaced West Papuan refugees to seek asylum in a third country. WPRRA have also called on the international community to assist in “ensuring the fundamental rights of West Papuans in PNG are respected and protected according to the international law on refugees and human rights.”
The UNHCR is concerned about the attacks on refugees, and potential for inappropriate actions to escalate. “Our PNG Representative is closely monitoring the situation and in contact with the relevant authorities to ensure the principle of non-refoulement is being respected as the situation becomes clearer,” said Richard Towle, Australia/ PNG Regional Representative for UNHCR.
- AAP: PNG launches border security operation (westpapuamedia.info)
- PNG police say 77 Papuan border-crossers to be transported to refugee camp (aboriginalpress.blogspot.com)
- ABC Radio Australia News:Stories:PNG targets rebel camps along Indonesian border (aboriginalpress.blogspot.com)
Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid
(LP3BH) Jl. Gunung Salju No. 18 Fanindi (Bengkel Tan) – Manokwari, 98312 Telp/Fax : (0986) 213160; Po.Box.128 Manokwari, 98301 Report on Manokwari Shooting Incident As a result of the gun fires shootings that were conducted by Police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) Compy 3 Detachment C Manokwari, on 15 September 2010, Wednesday, 8pm (local West Papua time), at least 2 civilians died and one woman got serious injuries with broken leg, broken pelvic bone, and broken jaws. The incident took place in Esau Sesa Street, South Manokwari, West Papua Province. According to the local (witness), before the shooting incident happened there was a traffic accident in Esau Sesa Street, a woman called Antomina Kowi/Mandacan was hit by a motorcycle (a hired motorbike) at around 6.30pm. The victim suffered a broken right tight bone, serious pain on pelvic bone, and broken ribs. The motor cycle was in a high speed from the direction of Manokwari town towards Arfai district South of Manokwari. Post-incident, the victim’s family chased the motor’s driver but he headed to Brimob’s headquarters. The family could not find the driver they went back and took the victim to Manokwari Public hospital for medical treatment. After the incident, the residents were looking for the driver, and one of the Brimob personnel came alone toward the mob, according to the witness instead of calming down the people, he created tension. He was then injured by the angry mob using the machete. Being injured the Brimob member ran back to his HQ and contacted other Brimob members. At around 8pm, around a dozen Brimob personnel with fully equipments went to the crowded people and started shooting brutally against those civilians, most of the children and adults went hide into the jungle to avoid the angry Brimob members who seizing the area. At around 8.20pm, the electricity went off in the whole regency for about 10-15minutes. A resident who was in Manokwari Public hospital said, “when the power supply went down totally, there was a car came to the hospital and drop something, and they took it to the emergency room, all windows and door were locked by the medical workers, only one spotlight that lighted up inside the room. Minutes later, it was heard that there was a death body inside the emergency room in that hospital. Since the night time to the morning, Thursday 16 September 2010, there was no relative of the death person came to the hospital. Around 9am, some of the families came to the hospital stayed outside the morgue. The dead body then was known as Naftali Kwan the priest of GPKAI (Christian Fellowship Bible Church of Indonesia) in Manokwari hinterland. Around 09.30, the locals found another dead body on the edge of abyss. The victim was known as Septinus Kwan, male, about 30years old, farmer. In the same time, another victim a woman was called Arfonika Kwan was found dying in critical condition in the abyss. She is the wife of the dead victim Naftali Kwan. The victim was rushed to the public hospital, she suffered of broken leg, broken jaws, broken pelvic bone. According to a local, the victim was trying to avoid the angry Brimob and fell down into the abyss. At around 10.30am, there was a mass paraded and carried the dead body of Septinus Kwan toward Manokwari Regent’s office. The mass have 3 demands: First, Rp30millions compensation to the victims’ families, second that all Brimob [the National Police’s Mobile Brigade] officers be pulled out of Manokwari. Third, the land used to built the Brimob’s HQ will be drawn back as the property of the indigenous people. Thursday 11am, Manokwari ton became tense, all shops, office buildings, schools and markets closed. The road was so quite only the sound of machine guns were heard and a rumor was spread throughout sms/mobile phones among the residents that there will be a nigh attack, but it was not existed. Information and Documention LP3BH MANOKWARI Simon LP3BH Manokwari (Translated by Paula Makabory) Copy of report with pictures is available at https://ipahr.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/west-papua-human-rights-report-on-shooting-by-police/
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Indonesia: Free ‘Balloon Activists’ in Ambon
Ill-Treatment of Political Prisoners in Earlier Episodes Raises Grave Concerns
August 10, 2010
Prosecuting Political Aspiration
Indonesia: Stop Prosecuting Peaceful Political Expression
Indonesia’s Not-So-Well-Kept Secret
Sadly, free speech in Indonesia is about as sturdy as the detained activists’ balloons. The Indonesian government publicly claims that it respects freedom of expression, so it should live up to its word and free these peaceful protesters immediately.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch
(New York) – The Indonesian authorities should immediately release the activists for Moluccan independence arrested in Ambon at the beginning of August 2010, Human Rights Watch said today. The activists were allegedly planning to float banned Moluccan independence flags attached to balloons to protest an August 3 visit by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Local sources reported that between 7 and 15 activists were arrested in connection with balloon launch plans to express political opposition to Indonesian rule in the Moluccas Islands. The police reportedly confiscated as evidence 133 posters that read “Free Alifuru and Papua Political Prisoners,” two copies of the June 2010 Human Rights Watch report “Prosecuting Political Aspiration,” 17 separatist Southern Moluccas Republic (Republik Maluku Selatan or RMS) flags, and one 12-pound gas cylinder to be used to fill the balloons. Yudhoyono was in Ambon to open the “Sail Banda” event, organized by the Tourism Ministry and the Moluccas Islands government to promote tourism in the Banda Sea.
“Sadly, free speech in Indonesia is about as sturdy as the detained activists’ balloons,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Indonesian government publicly claims that it respects freedom of expression, so it should live up to its word and free these peaceful protesters immediately.”
Human Rights Watch expressed grave concern that past torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners in Ambon puts the recently detained activists at serious risk. The detainees should have immediate access to family members and legal counsel, Human Rights Watch said.
Those arrested include Benny Sinay, Izak Sapulete, Andy Marunaya, Edwin Marunaya, Ongen Krikof, Marven Bremer, Steven Siahaya, and Ony Siahaya. Jacob Sinay, who lost his civil service job in December 2009 because of his political activism, is also being held. Most were arrested at their homes on August 2 and 3. Some were also arrested because they publicly unfurled the separatist RMS flag in some places in the archipelago, including on Ambon and Saparua islands.
Observers at the Sail Banda event in the Yos Sudarso seaport in Ambon described what they considered to be a very large deployment of police officers and military personnel. The security forces apparently sought to prevent a repeat of Yudhoyono’s June 29, 2007 visit, when 28 local Moluccan dancers were able to enter the Ambon stadium, dance the cakalele war dance, and unfurl the RMS flag.
More than 70 men were arrested after the 2007 dance. Many were tortured after being handed over to Anti-Terror Unit 88 forces based in Ambon. The Ambon district court convicted more than three dozen of them, including the dance leader Johan Teterisa, of treason and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from 5 to 20 years. Teterisa was sentenced to 15 years and is in the Malang prison in eastern Java.
Human Rights Watch expressed concern that Ambon authorities confiscated the recent Human Rights Watch report, “Prosecuting Political Aspiration,” as possible evidence in a case against the activists. The report profiles the cases of 10 prominent Papuan and Moluccan activists currently behind bars for expressing their political views, and details ill-treatment they suffered in detention and violations of their due process rights.
In June, Human Rights Watch discussed the findings of the report in Jakarta with officials from the Law and Human Rights Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the National Commission on Human Rights. At least 100 Papuans and Moluccans are in prison in Indonesia for peacefully expressing their political views.
“By arresting the Ambon activists, the Indonesian authorities are repeating the very mistakes that raised doubts globally about Indonesia’s commitment to improving human rights,” Robertson said. “The government should release these peaceful protesters immediately and spare the country further international condemnation.”
Human Rights Watch takes no position on claims to self-determination in Indonesia or in any other country. Consistent with international law, Human Rights Watch supports the right of all individuals, including independence supporters, to express their political views peacefully without fear of arrest or other forms of reprisal.
Most of the current political prisoners in Indonesia were convicted of makar (treason) under articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.
However, freedom of expression is protected both in Indonesia’s constitution and international human rights law. The constitution in article 28(e) states, “Every person shall have the right to the freedom of association and expression of opinion.” Article 28(f) provides, “Every person shall have the right to communicate and obtain information for the development of his/her personal life and his/her social environment, and shall have the right to seek, acquire, possess, keep, process, and convey information by using all available channels.”
In December 2007, the Indonesian government issued Government Regulation 77/2007, which regulates regional symbols. Article 6 of the regulation bans display of flags or logos that have the same features as “organizations, groups, institutions or separatist movements.” Both the Papuan Morning Star flag and the RMS flag are considered to fall under this ban.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia ratified in 2006, also protects the right to free expression. Under article 19, “[e]veryone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
Manokwari (WEST PAPUA), August 2
Reports have surfaced from Manokwari that a demonstration organised by students from the University of Papua in Manokwari, together with West Papua National Authority and KNPB (West Papua National Committee) were dispersed by force by Indonesia paramilitary police.
No reports of injuries have been received, however, witnesses reported that banners were seized by fully armed DALMAS counter-terrorism police. The DALMAS anti-terror joint police/military unit, funded by the Australian government, is routinely deployed against peaceful protestors in West Papua.
One of the organisers of the rally, Markus Yenu, is still in hiding after receiving credible and sustained death threats from military intelligence figures. Organisers of the rallies in Manokwari are complaining that they are unable to peacefully express their legally guaranteed rights to free speech by the inappropriate deployment of Indonesian anti-terror police.
“People in Manokwari are questioning where are their right”s to free expression, when fully armed troops are stopping us from gathering peacefully”,said Markus Yenu, West Papua National Authority Governor in Manokwari, by telephone interview to West Papua Media Alerts.
Demonstrators have contented that August will be full of demonstrations calling for a return of special autonomy to Jakarta, and for internationally mediated dialogue on Papua’s future.
West Papua Media Alerts