by West Papua Media
January 23, 2013
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.
West Papua Media
- A Chronology of PT Minersave’s (Freeport’s) Entry into Intan Jaya Regency, West Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
- Four killed in OTK shooting in Raja Ampat (westpapuamedia.info)
- Growing international solidarity for West Papua freedom campaigns (westpapuamedia.info)
- Breaking News: Knpb Leader Victor Yeimo Among Arrests on December 1 Flagraising Day (westpapuamedia.info)
- Police fail to provoke violence as demo in Manokwari ignores protest ban (westpapuamedia.info)
- Buchtar Tabuni released from Abepura prison after completing sentence (westpapuamedia.info)
- Is West Papua being split up to marginalise the Papuan people? (workersbushtelegraph.com.au)
- Police kidnap pro-democracy activist in Biak: Reports (westpapuamedia.info)
- Victor Yeimo: 22 Members of KNPB killed in 2012 (westpapuamedia.info)
- Herman Wainggai: Open letter to the President of Indonesia on eve of demos in Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
by John Pakage for West Papua Media
March 1, 2012
(Edited and abridged in translation by West Papua Media)
Tuesday morning, 21st February, Courtroom 1A in Jayapura was peaceful but tense. Many soldiers were to be seen guarding the streets for a session of the trial of Forkorus Yoboisembut, Edison Gladius Waromi, Agustinus M. Sananay Kraar, Selpius Bobii and Dominikus Sorabut. They were arrested after the session of the Congress of the People of Papua in Zakeus Pakage Square, Abepura,Jayapura, on the 19th of October 2011.
At the fifth meeting in this case, some witnesses, who were all members of the police, said they had not been direct witnesses and did not know about the public nature of the meeting of the Papua Congress. Seven witnesses out of the eight who were called by the court had attended. These witnesses had only heard from a distance the voice of Forkorus reading the resulting resolution of the Congress.
Forkorus Yoboisembut, Edison Gladius Waromi, Agustinus M. Sananay Kraar, Selpius Bobii and Dominikus Sorabut are all charged with treason, because they had declared the independence of the State of West Papua.
Concerning this case, the legal representative of the accused, Olga Hamadi, told John Pakage from Cermin Papua on Thursday 1st March that the witnesses who are making things difficult for the accused, were not actually at the location of the Congress and their evidence is refuted by those who were.
“Seven witnesses who are all members of the Police gave statements as witnesses; however, we reject them because they did not directly see the meeting. They only heard Pak Forkorus reading a declaration of the result of the Congress via the PA system,” said Olga.
Hamadi explained that “We saw that the declaration of the results of the Congress which were read by Forkorus were a summary of statements of all the members of the Congress, which were (in turn) a direct statement of the aspirations of the people of Papua.”
Because of this, the accused did not take any action towards secession via this Congress. Thirdly, this Congress is only restoring the country to what it was before the Indonesians annexed it in 1961.
Many of the world’s human rights organisations have already sent letters to the President of the Republic of Indonesia to release Forkorus, Edison Gladius Waromi, Agustinus M. Sananay Kraar, Selpius Bobii and Dominikus Sorabut, because they only gave voice to the problems hindering democracy in Papua, and the human rights violations which would not be tolerated as legal by the government of Indonesia.
The civil human rights organisation based in New York,USA, Human Rights Watch (HRW), says that the establishment of the Congress of the People of Papua is a normal part of the human rights that belong to the people of Papua. They are calling on the government of Indonesiato withdraw the charges against the accused and free the five members of the Congress of the People of Papua immediately.
“The government of Indonesia has to live up to its commitment to peaceful resolution (of the Papua issue) by cancelling these charges against the five activists,” said the Deputy of HRW for Asia, Elaine Pearson, in a statement cited by AFP on Monday 29th January, 2012.
A similar appeal came from a member of the Congress of the United States, Eni Faleomavaega. Eni said that the TNI and Police were the initiators of the unrest in Papua, especially by the scattering and arrest of members of the Third Congress of the People of Papua (KRP).
Compare this with the stated commitment of the government of Susilo Bambang Yuhdoyono, that it will deal with the problems in West Papua in a “peaceful way, with justice, and with dignity”.
While this legal case is ongoing, international support is growing in strength for the aspirations of Papua to be given the opportunity to express themselves. This support is seen by the government of Indonesia as foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Indonesia’s province of Papua.
It is no secret that the international public already knows of the meeting of the International Group of Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) in Australia on February 29. This support for Papua is gathering in Australia from many of the nations of the Pacific.
On 22 September 2010, a member of the American Congress, Eni Faleomavaega, became familiar with the problems in Papua, and heard (In a special session of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs) about the human rights violations which are perpetrated in Papua by the Indonesian government.
Several experts testified at the Committee Hearings and examined a selection of the problems of democracy in Papua, and the violations of human rights. These included Pieter Drooglever (Institute of Netherlands History), Henkie Rumbewas (a Papuan independence activist), and Sophie Richardson, PhD (Human Rights Watch).
This international opposition has made the government of Indonesia very cautious about the growing support for Papua from many nations outside Papua. Indonesia is afraid that there is a chance that the forces of the US in Darwin, Australia, which will number around 2500 US Marines, will be used to intervene to help liberate Papua.
The head of Committee 1 of the DPR, Ahmad Muzani, said that the superpower has a close relationship with the personnel in Darwin. He says that the US forces are tied up with the problems in Papua because they have hidden interests in the territory.
To be sure, as technology develops in the world there are fewer incidents happening in the jungles of Papua that remain unknown. Since 1969, when the Indonesian government first banned foreign journalists from covering news on the ground in Papua, there have been many cases of foreign journalists being deported back to their home countries from Papua. It’s not clear why Indonesia is so afraid of what’s happening in Papua.
International attention on Papua is also increasing because Papua is a great source of natural resources. Many countries and companies would like to invest in Papua, like Freeport McMoran, an American company which provides huge amounts of foreign exchange to Indonesia. Freeport enables the Indonesian government to operate in the way it does. This fact would be made very clear if Freeport was forced to close and withdraw all its investment (as some Indonesian and most Papuan figures are calling for). That truly would be a great disaster for -Indonesia – in fact, Indonesia could be broken up by such an outcome.
However, for the last few months Freeport has only just been able to continue operations. The business has reported that its profits are only US6.4 billion, or about Rp57.6 trillion for the last year, a fall of US1.5 billion from the year before.
“This result is not good, because it shows a fall-off in our operations, at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia,” said the CEO of Freeport, Richard Adkerson, as reported on the BBC on Saturday 21 January this year.
It can be seen that for some months now there has been a loss of business, which is growing all the time, because the management of Freeport has stopped operations of the automated extraction of gold. The mining of copper at Grasberg has also been reduced.
(These stoppages were initially caused by Freeports’s wholesale rejection of its workers demands for work safety guarantees and living wage increases, from US$1.50 per hour to US$14 per hour. Freeport workers conducted a five month long strike forcing Freeport to declare force majeure on its supplies and projections. West Papua Media)
These stoppages have affected the share price of PT Freeport Indonesia on the Indonesian stock market (BEI), and also the share price of (parent company) Freeport-McMoran in America. So of course there is a loss by America which is growing. There will also be further significant losses if there is a general economic slowdown, both in Indonesia and in other countries.
At the present time,Freeporthas not been operating since Thursday March 1, and Freeport has stopped operations for the next six months. (It is amidst) these circumstances that America is still donating fighting planes such as the F16 and Hercules to the Indonesian military.
The US Defence Minister, Leon Panetta, has been trying to set up a bilateral meeting with Indonesian Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro to establish a summit of the Defence ministers ofSouth East AsiainBalifor some time now. The US Defence Secretary also had a meeting with President Yudhoyono at the Ayodya Hotel in Bali.
However, the promised US delivery of 24 F-16 fighter planes and Apache helicopters has not as yet been finalised. Further action is needed in this process, as the planes have not yet arrived in Indonesia. Military observer Rizal Darmaputera views the stepping up of defence cooperation between the US and Indonesia as “one means of implementing America’s geopolitical strategy on the Asia-Pacific rim to balance the growing strength of China.”
The (geo)strategic position of Indonesia is a necessary link in the alliance of the US with various Asia-Pacific countries which tie in with its close connection with Japan and Australia.
So America gives this donation of war planes to Indonesia, knowing that they will be used to ensure that the Papua problem be handled internally by Indonesia to maintain the “unity of the Republic of Indonesia”.
Therefore the promise (by SYB) of basic human rights for Papua demanded by Forkorus and friends will not keep them out of jail as now. Jakarta must evaluate its treatment of the people of Papua as part of the human race, and who deserve rights and respect just as other people in the world deserve; and not to treat them (in the manner) as did AKP Rido Purba, an Indonesian Police officer in Papua who spat in the faces of Forkorus and friends at the time of their arrest.
Up to this time we have yet to see justice and the admission of basic human rights to Papuans; so (the next hearing of treason trial on) March 2 will be a very important stage in the case against Forkorus and friends by the Indonesian justice system in Jayapura.
At this point, “the trial of Forkorus and company will resume,” said Olga Hamadi, Director of Kontras.
# John Pakage is an independent journalist based in West Papua and a regular contributor to WPM.
- Indonesian police conduct armed sweep of treason defendants in their cells (westpapuamedia.info)
- Makar accused reject charges, and Indonesian jurisdiction over Papua in adjourned trial (Photo Report) (westpapuamedia.info)
- 24 Feb Update on Forkorus trial: Testimony from witness (westpapuamedia.info)
- Federal Republic of West Papua is registered at the UN (westpapuamedia.info)
- Forkorus: Independent Papua will come in a matter of days (westpapuamedia.info)
This is the 91st in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at email@example.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Papua Report
This is the 93rd in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at email@example.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summary: Indonesian security forces, including the U.S. and Australian supported Detachment 88, conducted “sweeping operations” in the Paniai area of West Papua that destroyed churches, homes and public buildings, and forced hundreds of civilians from their homes. The Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) urged the Police Commander to remove forces from the region, echoing civil society leaders in Paniai. Jakarta’s failure to provided basic health services to Papuans has led to a high rate of death among mothers at child birth according to a recent report. An unconfirmed report claims that President Yudhoyono has committed to withdraw non-organic troops from West Papua and to suspend the operations of a special unit proposed to address fundamental Jakarta-Papua problems. The cost in human life for Papuans of Jakarta’s decades of neglect of the Papuan population is well documented. Amnesty International met with a senior official in Jakarta to press for release of political prisoners, particularly in West Papua and Maluku. The three-month old strike by workers at the Freeport McMoRan mines appears to be headed toward resolution.
- Brutal “Sweeping Operation” Continues to Displace Civilians in Paniai
- Indonesian Human Rights Commission Calls for Withdrawal of Security Forces from Paniai
- Inadequate Health Care Responsible for High Rate of Death of Mothers at Child Birth
- President Yudhoyono Reportedly Offers Pledge to Withdraw Non-Organic Troops from West Papua
- Amnesty International Appeals for Political Prisoners Release
- Freeport Strike Grinds Toward Resolution
Brutal “Sweeping Operation” Continues to Displace Civilians in Paniai
Despite efforts by the Indonesian government and its security forces to block all monitoring of developments in the Paniai region of West Papua, courageous journalists, human rights advocates and others have been able to report on the ongoing tragedy there. Since the first days of December, Indonesian security forces, including the U.S.-trained and funded Detachment 88, Brimob elements, and units of the Indonesian military, have been conducting a massive “sweeping” campaign, purportedly targeting local leaders of the pro-independence Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM). Hundreds and in all probability thousands of villagers have been driven from their homes due to the violence unleashed by government forces which has destroyed churches, homes, and public buildings.
An early December report carried in the Jakarta Post revealed the dimensions of the human tragedy now unfolding:
- About 500 inhabitants of Dagouto village in Paniai Regency, Papua, have opted to leave their homes and seek refuge following the deployment of 150 Mobile Brigade officers to their area, Paniai tribe council chief John Gobai said Wednesday.
- “Our people have become refugees at Uwatawogi Hall in Enarotali, Paniai, for several weeks. They are now afraid they may not be able to celebrate Christmas at home,” John told reporters at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM). John, along with four other Paniai people, was at the commission to complain about the presence of police officers in the area, which they said “exacerbated the security situation.”
- The National Police has increased its numbers of personnel in the regency following several deadly shootings, reportedly claiming the lives of eight traditional miners working on the Degeuwo River, near Dagouto, last month.
On December 17, Jubi reported that the Indonesian Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) called on the Indonesian Chief of Police to immediately withdraw all Brimob troops (the militarized police) from the West Papua district of Paniai and to refrain from sending any additional personnel there.
The request came in the wake of widespread reports (see above) of brutal security force sweeping operations that had targeted civilians.
The deputy head of Komnas HAM, M. Ridha Saleh, wrote the chief of police in response to a formal complaint made by the chairman of the Regional Traditional Council (DAD) in Paniai. The letter cited two recent incidents involving members of the police force: A shooting near the copper-and-gold mine in Degheuwo which led to the death of a civilian. And the situation following the dispatch of 150 additional Brimob troops who arrived in Enarotali on November 11-14, 2011
The letter called for the removal of a Brimob post set up in the midst of several kampungs and for a police investigation into the death of Mateus Tenouye. The letter noted that only a Brimob withdrawal could enable Paniai to return to their daily lives which have been badly disrupted by security operations by Brimob and other Indonesian security personnel.
(WPAT Note: There are consistent reports of the involvement of Detachment 88, Kopassus, and other TNI personnel in the sweeping operations. Neither the U.S. nor Australian governments have made any comment regarding their support for an organization that in this instance, and in numerous previous incidents, has resorted to brutality in dealing with peaceful non-combatants.)
The Komnas HAM appeal concluded with a call for dialogue among all parties.
The Jakarta Post reports that maternal deaths in West Papua remain high. Victor Nugraha, an official with the Papuan Health Agency, speaking to media in Manokwari, said that the rate of deaths in 2011 would be at least as high as in 2010. Real figures, he added, were difficult to ascertain because many cases of death during child birth are not recorded due to the shortage of medical personnel to maintain records.
According to the official the main causes of maternal death were hemorrhage, post-pregnancy infections, and hypertension. Anemia due to iron deficiency can lead to hemorrhaging. Beside low iron levels due to poor nutrition, anemia can also be caused by malaria, which is common in West Papua. The official also explained that late pregnancy checks and poor surgery facilities for caesarean sections in clinics also contribute to maternal deaths.
This report echoes a far more detailed study conducted in the Kebar Valley of West Papua in 2008 (see Health care in the Bird’s Head Peninsula. Its conclusions are stark:
- Out of 708 pregnancies 4.7% led to miscarriage and 1.4% of the children were born dead.
- Out of 665 child births, where the baby was born alive, 213 baby’s and children eventually died. This is an infant mortality rate of 32.0%. This means that almost 1 out of 3 children dies before its fifth birthday.
- 57.3% of the died children (213) were younger than 1 year old. 27.7% is between the age of 1 to 5 when it dies.
- Most baby’s and toddlers (32.9%) died of fever or malaria. Fever in combination with coughing (probably pneumonia) causes a mortality rate of 13.9%.
- Diarrhea, icterus, prematures and pulmonary affections like tuberculosis, pneumonia and bronchitis also occur, but in smaller numbers.
- In 12.7% of the dead infants the cause of death was unknown, according to the mother.
- 94.4% of the pregnant women give birth at home, whether or not with the presence of a traditional midwife .
- 14 children were born twins; 3 are still alive.
WPAT Comment: Inadequate health services are common throughout those areas of West Papua where the majority of Papuans live. Services are better, sometimes substantially so, in towns where the majority of the non-Papuan, government-assisted migrants live. Totally inadequate health services, along with government failure to provide education or employment opportunities, in majority Papuan populated areas have inevitably contributed to lower birth rates for West Papuans and greater deaths among Papuan children under the age of five. This decades-old policy of neglect of Papuans constitutes one of the bases of charges of genocide leveled against the Indonesian government.
Report of Major Jakarta Pledge on Demilitarization of West PapuaWest Papua Media Alerts on December 18 reported that President Yudhoyono made a commitment to Papuan Church leaders in a December 16 meeting to withdraw non-organic troops from West Papua. He reportedly said that he would suspend the activities of the special Unit to Accelerate the Development of Papua and West Papua (UP4B) which was to have addressed fundamental issues in the Jakarta-Papua relationship.
Key Papuan leaders in attendance included: Chair of the Papua GKI Synod, Yemima Kret; Chair of the Baptist Church of Papua, Socrates Sofyan Yoman; Chair of the Kingmi Synod, Benny Giay; Martin Luther Wanma and Rika Korain.
Upon hearing an appeal for an end to the troop presence the President reportedly asked the Police Chief and Commander of the TNI to stop the violence. According to Rev. Benny Giay, the President commanded the Chief of Police and the Armed Forces (TNI) “to stop the violence in Paniai, at least during the month of Christmas.” However, Pastor Gomar Gultom, also at the meeting, told the media that the President did not mention a specific deadline for withdrawal of non-organic troops.
With regards to efforts to launch a Jakarta-Papua dialogue, Gultom said the two sides have not yet decided on the dialogue format or issues to be discussed. Religious leaders are scheduled to meet again in mid-January 2012 to formulate the program in more detail.
Gultom added that President SBY spoke about the UP4B led by Lt. Gen. ( ret) Bambang Darmono. The Religious leaders said that UP4B was formed unilaterally, without hearing the aspirations of the Papuan people. “There is a meeting point agreed upon last night. All points will be evaluated together, and UP4B will be stopped until results of the joint evaluation are available,” he said.
WPAT Comment: There is no evidence as of early January that any of the undertakings reportedly set forth by President Yudhoyono have in fact come to pass. Fighting in Paniai continues and there has been no announcement of a suspension of the operation of UP4B.
Amnesty International Appeals for Political Prisoners Release
On December 6, Amnesty International officials met with Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Law, Politics and Security, Djoko Suyanto to urge the Indonesian Government free political prisoners incarcerated for peacefully expressing their views. Amnesty urged the government “to integrate human rights in their efforts to address the situation in Papua.”
Amnesty International’s presentation focused on at least 90 people who are in prison in West Papua and Maluku for peaceful pro-independence activities, including Filep Karma, a Papuan independence leader currently serving a 15-year sentence in Abepura, Papua. Filep’s case has received special attention by the human rights group.
The meeting took place less than one month following the brutal assault on the Papuan Third National Congress during which peaceful Papuan dissenters were beaten and killed and many were arrested, only to join the growing ranks of Papuan political prisoners.
Amnesty argued that “the Indonesian government should free all those who are detained in Papua and Maluku for peacefully expressing their views, including through raising or waving the prohibited pro-independence flags, and distinguish between peaceful and violent political activists.” Amnesty pointed out that although the government had the duty and the right to maintain public order, its actions restricting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly had violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia has ratified.
Amnesty stressed the need to set up a human rights court and a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate cases of human rights violations since Indonesia annexed Papua in the 1960s.
According to the Jakarta Globe, Minister Djoko Suyanto at the meeting expressed the government’s commitment to ensure accountability for human rights abuses committed by security forces.
Freeport Strike Grinds Toward Resolution
In early December worker representatives and the Freeport McMoRan corporation reached a tentative deal whereby workers would return to their job sites, thus ending a crippling strike which left the world’s largest copper and gold operation at a standstill since workers began striking the massive West Papua mine site in September. The Indonesian government was losing $8 million worth of taxes, royalties and dividends each day the strike continued.
As of late December, workers had not yet resumed work owing to unresolved issues outside the framework of the new contract. Principal among these is the workers insistence that their leaders not be sanctioned either by Freeport McMoRan, which had talked of firing them, or the police, who have threatened to arrest them for “subversion.” The status of a number of contract workers were also at issue. Workers have also insisted on security measures that will preclude additional violence by unidentified elements thought possibly to have ties to the authorities.
The workers achieved significant concessions in their over three months long strike. The key provisions of the new contract is an agreement by Freeport McMoRan to a pay rise of 40 percent over two years. The current pay is $2-$3 an hour. The union had demanded an hourly rate of $7.50.
- Time to change Australia’s involvement in West Papua offensive (westpapuamedia.info)
- Australia must act after more conflict in West Papua: Greens (westpapuamedia.info)
- Australia Involved in Military Operations in Paniai, West Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
- Update on military operations in Paniai and Australian involvement (westpapuamedia.info)
- ELSHAM Update from Paniai + Urgent Correction (westpapuamedia.info)
As the 1st of December looms, two new short documentaries published by West Papua Media take a look at the recent wave of unprecedented political and industrial action and state repression in the lead up to the 50th anniversary of West Papuan Independence.
The Third Papuan People’s Congress
PLEASE NOTE: FOOTAGE FROM TIMECODE 04:59 – 05:43, OF PAPUAN GUERRILLAS FROM TPN/OPM RAISING THE MORNING STAR FLAG IS INDICATED AS FILE FOOTAGE FROM “FORGOTTEN BIRD OF PARADISE”, AND IS USED PURELY FOR HISTORICALLY ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES. THIS FOOTAGE WAS SHOT IN 2008 IN THE HIGHLANDS OF PAPUA AND DOES NOT INDICATE, IMPLY OR ILLUSTRATE ANY ARMED PRO-INDEPENDENCE PRESENCE AT THE THIRD PAPUAN PEOPLE’S CONGRESS, WHICH IS FACTUALLY CONFIRMED AS BEING A PEACEFUL, NON-VIOLENT ASSEMBLY, WITH NO WEAPONS OF ANY SORT PRESENT BEFORE, DURING, OR AFTER PROCEEDINGS, OTHER THAN WEAPONS USED AND BELONGING TO INDONESIAN SECURITY FORCES.
PUBLIC OR PRIVATE MISREPRESENTATION OF THIS FACT WILL BE CONSIDERED DEFAMATION AND LEGALLY ENFORCED.
Production: traverser11 and Nick Chesterfield
Music: Airi Ingram and Ak Rockefeller
Script: Nick Chesterfield and Mark Davis
Video Supplied by: West Papua Media, Tapol/Down to Earth, Dominic Brown; ABC Lateline, SBS, TV Papoes, Metro TV Papua
Freeport Miners Strike
Video from the three month long strike at Freeport Mine in West Papua, police repression and actions in solidarity with the miners. Produced by traverser11 with music by Airi Ingram.
Production: traverser11 and Nick Chesterfield
Music: Airi Ingram and Ak Rockefeller
Video supplied by: SPSI Freeport (miners Unions), West Papua Media, Lococonut, Theagapaipho, WPACTION Network, Yerry Nikholas, Beni Pakage
and public domain content from: Al Jazeera English, Reuters
- 8000 workers walk – video from the Freeport Miners Strike (westpapuamedia.info)
- Indon Army preparing to attack OPM in Paniai. (westpapuamedia.info)
- AWPA calls on Rudd to monitor Increasing tension in West Papua, focused on 1st December (westpapuamedia.info)
- AWPA calls on the Government to help with food shortage in West Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
- More Brutal Footage emerges from Congress crackdown (westpapuamedia.info)
Freeport Miners’ Strike
“Video from the three month long strike at Freeport Mine in West Papua, police repression and actions in solidarity with the miners. Produced by traverser11 with music by Airi Ingram.”
Video supplied by:
SPSI Freeport (miners Unions)
West Papua Media
and public domain content from
Al Jazeera English
- Why Now? A West Papua Backgrounder (westpapuamedia.info)
- West Papua at Boiling Point: Strike at Freeport Mine (westpapuamedia.info)
- Sights and Sounds From the Freeport Dispute (westpapuamedia.info)
- Strike pressures PT Freeport Indonesia into serious negotiations (westpapuamedia.info)
- West Papua: How to lose a country (westpapuamedia.info)
Exceptionally powerful article appearing the Jakarta Globe: a must read for all Indonesians who are concerned for Papua, either for or against.
Bramantyo Prijosusilo | November 22, 2011
Transparency and accountability are universally accepted as the cornerstones of good governance. With neither present in Papua, we can be sure that the natural riches of the region will never come to benefit local communities, but will rather bring about the so-called “resource curse” in the form of economic, cultural, social and political strife and ecological disaster.
The massive destruction caused by Freeport-McMoRan, the American mining conglomerate, can now be witnessed by anyone with an Internet connection thanks to Google Earth. The continuous stream of stories of torture and murder that leak out of the region is proof that people are unhappy and that the national government is acting less than honorably there.
What the central government claims about goings-on in Papua cannot be trusted because its claims can be disproved immediately. Since the act of free choice in 1969 (called “the act of no choice” by Papuans resisting Indonesia’s “occupation”), the western half of Guinea island has been covered by a “batik curtain.” Foreign independent journalists are banned from working there freely, as are international NGOs.
However, with the advance of information technologies and the fact that more and more Papuans are receiving modern education, the contemptuous treatment of indigenous people at the hands of the nation’s police and military is becoming more and more difficult to conceal. Gleaning information on Papua from the Internet it becomes obvious that there are powerful forces at play in Papua that are bent on reaching the point of no return — where either all Papuans must be exterminated, or a second and more honest “act of free choice” is conducted, for the world to witness the true aspirations of the people of Papua in terms of their relationship with the Indonesian state.
The powerful forces bent on forcing Papuans to separate from Indonesia are none other than the central government, especially its military and police force.
Since the brutal murder of Papuan leader Theys Eluay a little over 10 years ago, the world has seen how Indonesia has yet to reform its approach to the issue of Papuan independence. As we near Dec. 1 — the date that Papuans consider to be their independence day — the world is fearfully expecting to witness more state violence against Papuans peacefully expressing their aspirations. Indeed, in the past few months we have witnessed attacks on journalists and peaceful protestors, including the still unclear circumstances surrounding the latest fatal shooting of eight gold prospecting civilians in the Paniai district.
On the issue of the Freeport workers on strike demanding better pay, the world witnesses how the central government’s actions toward the Freeport strikers differs from the government of Peru’s reaction toward the same sort of strike at a Freeport mine there. While the government of Peru visibly takes the role of a mediator that holds the interests of its own people foremost, Indonesia appears to unashamedly play the role of Freeport’s guard dog, and without hesitating to release live ammunition on its own people.
The recent armed police and military raids of Papuan students’ dormitories in Java and Bali are an indication of what is likely to come on Dec. 1. The recent Papuan voices that have leaked out thanks to the Internet indicate that there are plans for at least a “Morning Star” flag rising in Papua on that date. Although the government has cracked down hard on similar events in the past, it is unthinkable to imagine that the people of Papua have been cowed into submission by these repressions. Just as Indonesian youth defied the Dutch colonialists in the early 20th century and continued to raise the “Red and White,” so will the youths of Papua. After all, most Papuan youth leaders were educated in Indonesia, so they fully understand that perseverance pays and aspirations for independence cannot be stifled by force. Yhe more Indonesia uses force to keep its hold on Papua, the stronger its independence movement will become.
Papuan activists can also see how Islamists in Indonesia can actively work to destroy the country not only with impunity, but also with the tacit support of the state and members of the government. The Islamist party, Hizbut Tahrir, for example, openly agitates for the fall of the republic to build a global Islamic caliphate in its place, but the authorities tend to aid and support it rather than take action to hinder its activities. Islamists in the country openly work for the resurrection of the age of the Islamic caliphs, or at least work toward their version of Shariah being enshrined as state law, but even though these activities are in blatant contempt of our constitution, the government has never done so much as lift a little finger in defense of the republic and its principles in the face of these orchestrated attacks.
Therefore it is natural that activists from Papua feel that they are being continuously discriminated against, for they receive the harshest treatment for the simple activity of raising a flag.
So who is it that is working hardest to compel Papua break away? Are the people of Papua to blame for objecting to having their sacred lands ripped apart by corporations making profits for shareholders far away? Are they to blame if they do not trust Indonesia’s capacity or intent to develop the country along the lines of the constitution?
If Indonesia wants to keep Papua as part of the family, it needs to clean up its act, especially in curbing Islamist treason and protecting minorities. It also needs to open up Papua to the world and come clean and apologize for the wrongs it has inflicted on the people there. As Dec. 1 approaches, we can expect that the national government will try to further alienate Papuans to a point where the only way forward will be through a sea of blood.
Bramantyo Prijosusilo is a writer, artist and broadcast journalist in East Java.
- Shocking video confirms Indonesia’s brutal suppression of West Papuan rally ahead of US visit (westpapuamedia.info)
- Indonesian Bishops Conference calls for Dialogue and an end to Violence in Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
- Papuan state leaders warn Papuan not to be provoked on 1 December (westpapuamedia.info)
- Movement Against Freeport is set up by Papuan Students (westpapuamedia.info)
- Thousands of West Papuans demand Referendum in Jayapura 14 Nov 2011 (westpapuamedia.info)
Open Letter to President Obama from West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391, email@example.com
Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078, firstname.lastname@example.org
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
November 15, 2011
Dear President Obama,
We urge you to seize the opportunity of your imminent return to Indonesia to consider the challenges and opportunities posed by the U.S.-Indonesia relationship more realistically than you have up to now. Your Administration urgently needs a policy that addresses the problems created by the Indonesian security forces’ escalating violations of human rights and criminality and its failure to submit to civilian control. The recent 20th anniversary of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in Dili. East Timor (Timor-Leste), when hundreds of peaceful protesters were massacred by Indonesian troops wielding U.S. supplied weapons, reminds us that a lack of accountability for past crimes — in Timor-Leste and throughout the archipelago — keeps those affected from moving on with their lives, while contributing to impunity in the present.
Indonesian military and police forces continue to operate without any accountability before the law. Only in rare instances are individual personnel brought before military tribunals for crimes against civilians, often because of international pressure. Prosecution is woefully inadequate and sentencing, in the rare instance of conviction, is not commensurate with the crime.
Indonesia’s security forces, including the Kopassus special forces and U.S.-funded and -trained Detachment (Densus) 88, continue to employ against civilians weaponry supplied by the U.S. and to use tactics developed as result of U.S. training. In West Papua, these security forces have repeatedly attacked civilians, most recently participants in the October 16-19 Congress and striking workers at theFreeport McMoRan mine. Those assaulted were peacefully asserting their right to assemble and freedom of speech. At the Congress, combined forces, including regular military units, Kopassus, the militarized police (Brimob) and Detachment 88, killed at least five civilians, beat scores more, and were responsible for the disappearance of others.
Moreover, in the central highlands of West Papua, these same forces regularly conduct so called “sweeping operations,” purportedly in search of the very small armed Papuan resistance. These operations have led to the deaths of many innocent civilians and driven thousands from their village into forests where they face life threatening conditions due to inadequate access to shelter, food and medical care.
Indonesian military and police forces continue to operate without any accountability before the law. Only in rare instances are individual personnel brought before military tribunals for crimes against civilians, often because of international pressure. Prosecution is woefully inadequate and sentencing, in the rare instance of conviction, is not commensurate with the crime. Several videoed incidents of military torture of civilians — widely discussed during your November 2010 visit to Indonesia — concluded in just such failures of justice. The concept of command responsibility is rarely considered in the military tribunals.
International monitoring of these developments in West Papua is severely hampered by Indonesian government restrictions on access to and travel within West Papua by foreign journalists, diplomats, researchers, and human rights and humanitarian officials. The International Committee of the Red Cross remains barred from operating an office in West Papua. Indonesian journalists and human rights officials face threats and worse when they try to monitor developments there.
Elsewhere in Indonesia, too many times security forces have stood by or actively assisted in attacks on minority religions, including deadly attacks on Ahmadiyah followers.
The Indonesian security forces — especially the military — are largely unreformed: it has failed to fully divest itself of its business empire, its remains unaccountable before the law, and continues to violate human rights. These forces constitute a grave threat to the continued development of Indonesian democracy. The upcoming national elections in Indonesia present a particularly urgent challenge. The Indonesian military is in position to pervert the democratic process as it has in the past. The military has frequently provoked violence at politically sensitive times, such as in 1998 when it kidnapped tortured and murdered democratic activists. For many years it has relied on its unit commanders, active at the District, sub-District and even village level to influence the selection of party candidates and the elections themselves. The territorial command system is still in place.
In the past, U.S. restrictions and conditions on security assistance have resulted in real rights improvements in Indonesia. Your Administration should learn from this history.
Given this threat to democracy and to individuals posed by Indonesian forces, it is essential that the U.S. employ the significant leverage that comes from Indonesia’s desire for U.S. security assistance and training to insist on real reforms of Indonesian security forces. Rhetorical calls for reforms are clearly insufficient. These exhortations have manifestly not worked and readily brushed aside. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent expression of “concerns about the violence and the abuse of human rights” in Papua were dismissed by a spokesperson for Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono , who called the escalating rights violations “only isolated incidents.”
In the past, U.S. restrictions and conditions on security assistance have resulted in real rights improvements in Indonesia. Your Administration should learn from this history and quickly suspend training for those units whose human rights records and impunity are especially egregious, as required by the Leahy law. We specifically urge you to end plans to re-engage with Kopassus and to end assistance to Detachment 88. These actions would demonstrate U.S. Government seriousness in pursuit of real reforms of the security forces in Indonesia.
Ed McWilliams for WPAT
John M. Miller for ETAN
- On 20th Anniversary of Timor Massacre, Rights Network Urges Justice, ETAN Says U.S. and UN Must Act (November 12, 2011)
- Statement of East Timor and Indonesia Action Network on President Obama’s Visit to Indonesia (November 5, 2010)
- West Papua Advocacy Team: Open Letter to President Obama on The Eve of His Visit to Indonesia (November 4)
- ETAN: Open Letter to President Barack Obama on His 2010 Visit to Indonesia (March 18, 2010)
- West Papua Report November 2011 (westpapuamedia.info)
- Csw Urges Indonesia to Establish Dialogue With Papuan People Following Brutal Crackdown by Military in West Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
- AWPA: Increasing tension in West Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
- Us Congressman Faleomavaega Calls Upon Government of Indonesia to Assure Safe and Humane Treatment of West Papuans in Custody and to Work for Their Release (westpapuamedia.info)
- ETAN Urges Secretary Clinton to Condition Security Assistance to Indonesia on Rights (westpapuamedia.info)
This is the 90th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at email@example.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summary: Indonesian security forces attacked a mass gathering in the Papua capital, Jayapura, and striking workers at the Freeport mine in the southern highlands. At least five people were killed and many more injured in the assaults, which show a renewed pattern of overt violence against peaceful dissent. A brutal and unjustified October 19 attack on thousands of Papuans exercising their rights to assembly and freedom of speech resulted in the death of at least three Papuan civilians, the beating of many, detention of hundreds and arrest of six, reportedly on treason charges. The Obama administration has largely ignored the egregious violation of human rights, instead advancing U.S.-Indonesian military ties. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who arrived in Indonesia in the immediate wake of the Jayapura attack, avoided criticism of the assault and reaffirmed U.S. support for Indonesia’s territorial integrity, a snub to Papuans quest for self-determination. Panetta also reportedly commended Indonesia’s handling of a weeks-long strike at the U.S.-based Freeport McMoRan mine which has seen eight killings and revealed cash payments by Freeport to the police. Indonesia’s response to the growing crisis in West Papua is to increase the militarization of the territory and to dispatch a special unit that is headed by a notorious former military officer whose record in dealing with Aceh bears ominous implications for the Papuans.
- Obama Rights Agenda to Advance Military Ties
- Indonesia Beefs Up Occupation Forces in West Papua
- Notorious Military General to Head Jakarta’s Conflict Resolution Unit in West Papua
- Indonesian Security Forces Still on the Take from Freeport
- U.S. Secretary of Defense Praise for Indonesian Handling of Freeport Strike
On October 19, hundreds of Indonesian military and police personnel attacked a peaceful gathering of several thousand Papuans engaged at a congress which had convened to assert Papuans long-denied right to self-determination. The Congress, only the third such event in the last 50 years, sought to exercise rights of free speech and assembly guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution and international accords, including the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic and Cultural rights and Social rights, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
The brutal assault by Indonesian security forces killed at least three Papuans and resulted in the disappearance of others and the detention of approximately 300. At least six leaders were arrested and are expected to be charged with treason. Separate accounts suggest that the number of Papuans killed could be as high as 17 and the number of those detained and beaten while in custody could be as high as 800. Among those arrested were Forkorus Yasboisembut, President of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP). The security force violence and arrests followed the Congress’s declaration of independence for West Papua.
Security forces pursued the peaceful demonstrators, beating participants. One of those killed was reportedly shot in the back. Two other victims were found beaten to death, their bodies dumped behind a police station. An Australian eye witness to the assault, interviewed on Australian television’s ABC on October 28, identified the attacking security forces as including the Indonesian military (TNI), the Indonesian specialized police (BRIMOB), regular police units and the Indonesian “anti-terror” force, Detachment 88. The Detachment 88 team is funded and trained by the U.S. and Australian governments. It has repeatedly been charged with extrajudicial killings and torture.
The Police Commander for Papua publicly defended the assault, as have senior officials in Jakarta who contended that the military operation against civilians was provoked by Congress leaders who sought to declare West Papua’s independence. “The government did not find any abuse of power nor mismanaged approaches by the security officers,” said presidential spokesman, Julian Aldrin Pasha. “Police officers and security forces just accomplished their (as) duties mandated by the state.” Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for Political Legal and Security Affairs also defended the assault. (See also statements made by the Defense Minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro: for example, see Made Arya Kencana, Banjir Ambarita and Ulma Haryanto, “ Jakarta Gives US Its Side of Story in Papua Deaths,” The Jakarta Globe, 23 October 2011.
International human rights organizations and some elected officials such as U.S. Congressmember Eni Faleomavaega and Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale immediately and strongly condemned the violence. Faleomavaega urged the release of those detained and specifically raised the assault with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Senator Di Natale urged dispatch of an investigatory mission to West Papua and that Australia immediately suspend all support for the Indonesian military.
While comments by Faleomavaega and Di Natale echoed the calls of the many international nongovernmental organizations, there was scant word of condemnation from other governments. The silence rendered the international community complicit in the attack.
Particularly egregious, in this regard, was the reaction of the U.S. government. U.S. Ambassador Marciel in Jakarta called for an investigation of the incident. While appropriate, that response was manifestly inadequate. His failure to condemn the assault, conveys to the Indonesian government that use of lethal and military force against peaceful civilians is acceptable.
WPAT Comment: In attempting to understand the rationale for the Obama administration’s abandonment of human rights concerns it is essential to note the presence of U.S. Secretary of Defense Panetta in Jakarta at the time of the assault. Panetta’s visit inaugurated the resumption of full U.S.-Indonesia military to military cooperation. It appears that the Obama administration was not prepared to criticize Indonesian security forces with whom it was announcing a strengthened partnership. This abandonment of principle by the Obama administration is reminiscent of the collusion of previous U.S. administrations in the invasion and occupation of East Timor by the Suharto dictatorship.
see also Tapol, WPAT, ETAN: Indonesian crackdown on Papuan Congress sparks outrage
In the wake of the assault on the Third Papuan Congress (see above), continuing violence associated with police efforts to quell an ongoing strike at Freeport (see below), and the killing of a local police chief in remote Mulia district in the central highlands, the Indonesian government announced the dispatch of hundreds of additional security personnel to augment the existing Indonesian occupation force in West Papua.
The Jakarta Post reported that provincial police spokesman Wachyono saying that “So far 260 [extra] personnel from the police mobile brigade (Brimob) have landed in Papua province to help maintain security in two districts.” Troops were sent to the Puncak Jaya and Paniai highlands in central Papua, he said, adding that they will join an existing force of 14,000 police and paramilitary troops in Papua.
Wachyono said they were still “hunting” the police chief’s killers. Authorities have said that based on preliminary investigations they are believed to be separatists. (WPAT Comment: the launch of “hunting” indicates that security force sweep operations may be underway. These operations routinely displace large numbers of civilians as their villages and gardens are destroyed.)
Numerous Indonesian non-governmental organizations criticized the dispatch of ever greater numbers of military and police elements to West Papua. “The militarization of West Papua has the clear intent of intimidating Papuan civilians who are courageously pursuing a course of peaceful dissent in defense of their rights, including worker rights and the right to self determination” said Edmund McWilliams, a former senior U.S. diplomat who served in Indonesia. “Jakarta authorities,” he added, continue to employ security forces and thug militias to suppress Papuans’ peaceful resistance to ethnic genocide implicit in Jakarta’s support for transmigration-colonization and its denial of vital services to Papuans.”
On October 29, the Yudhoyono administration announced formation of a special unit tasked with settling the conflict in West Papua. The “Unit to Accelerate the Development in West Papua and Papua” (UP4B) was actually formed in September. In mid-October, Yudhoyono signed a decree, appointing Lt. Gen. (ret) Bambang Darmono to the chairman of UP4B. It will report to a board headed by Vice President Boediono. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/30/sby-s-papua-team-ready-roll.html
The announcement aid that the team will be led by Bambang Darmono, the former commander of military operations in Aceh (2002-2005) and a key Indonesian figure in negotiations that produced the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which ended formal conflict between the Acehnese Freedom Movement (GAM) and Indonesia security forces. Darmono is the former Secretary General of the National Defense Council.
Darmono’s record as commander of Indonesian security forces is replete with credible charges of human rights violations including the execution of seven teenage Acehnese on May 21, 2003, thoroughly reported by Tempo magazine. His troops allegedly also executed Muzakkir Abdullah, an Acehnese peasant in the hamlet of Seumirah, Nisam district, in June 2003. Several Indonesian soldiers abducted him earlier that day. Abdullah’s sister was photographed screaming when she saw his body. The photo by a Reuters photographer won a World Press Photo award. Darmono appeared prominently in a documentary, “The Black Road” by William Nessen, in which Darmono denied the involvement of his troops in the arrest and torture of a human rights defender. He had admitted that his troops had sometimes became abusive and he arrested some of them for shooting chicken.
In a June 26, 2007 interview with the U.S. Public Broadcasting System, Darmono strongly sided with Javanese transmigrants whose government-sponsored resettlement in Aceh mirrored government-sponsored transmigrant settlement of West Papua. To many Papuans, like many Acehnese, such government-sponsored transmigrant schemes amount to colonization. Darmono’s past championing of such policies in Aceh raise concerns for Papuans. Such concerns are particularly strong given predictions by the “ Papua Road Map Project,” a plan by academics to promote peace in West Papua, that the percentage of non-Papuans living in West Papua will rise from 41 percent in 2005 to 53.5 percent by the end of 2011, rendering Papuans a minority in their own homeland.
The Indonesian government’s failure to carry out key elements of the 2005 MOU, including the failure to establish a promised Human Rights Court for Aceh and a “Commission for Justice and Reconciliation,” according to many as a consequence of military opposition to such steps, led in large measure by Darmono.
The appointment of Darmono to the special unit for West Papua is indicative of the manner in which the Yudhoyono administration intends to “settle” the conflict in West Papua.
Indonesian Security Forces Still on The Take from Freeport
Indonesian security forces in West Papua, notably the police, continue to receive extensive direct payments of cash from Freeport McMoRan. National Police chief Timur Pradopo admitted on October 28 that officers had received close to $10 million annually from Freeport. Prominent Indonesian NGO Imparsial puts the annual figure at $14 million. Pradopa described the payments as “lunch money.” The payments recall even larger payments made by Freeport to Indonesian military forces over the years which, once revealed, prompted a U.S. Security and Exchange Commission investigation of Freeport and questions as to Freeport’s liability under the U.S. law (the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).
The revelation of payments to the police has prompted widespread criticism in Indonesia. The respected Indonesian NGO KontraS (Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence) accused the police of a conflict of interest in West Papua. KontraS said that based on its investigations, the police had become involved in ongoing labor disputes that have led to violence and interruptions in Freeport operations (see following item). KontraS cited specific examples of police intimidation, including death threats targeting union organizers. It said Sudiro, SPSI’s chief workplace organizer for Freeport’s Grasberg mine, had reported that Timika Police Chief Denny Siregar called him and made a death threat. KontraS also pointed to instances of police verbal harassment of other union leaders. “From the testimonies collected by KontraS [in Timika] on the sidelines of negotiations between workers and Freeport, the police chief pressured the SPSI leader to comply with the company’s wishes” Kontras investigator Haris Azhar told media on October 28.
Police, according to Haris, also accused the striking workers of treason. “All they did was make demands for their improved welfare. How can the police accuse them of being separatists? It makes no sense,” he said.
KontraS said the presumed reason for the police taking the gold and copper mining company’s side was Freeport’s documented direct payments to police officers based in the area. Haris added that the flood of money to police had created a conflict of interest when its people, nominally public servants, handled cases related to the company. “When there’s a problem between Freeport and their workers, of course they choose to support Freeport,” he said. Haris said Kontras would report its findings to the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
The Jakarta Post reported on October 25 that U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, visiting Indonesia, had “praised Indonesia’s handling of the strike at Freeport.” The strike has seen at least 8 killings in October and a partial shutdown of mining operations. The protracted struggle for worker rights has also involved police assaults on demonstrators and, according to the respected Indonesian NGO Kontras, police death threats to a union leader and harassment and intimidation targeting other union officials.
The violence has accompanied renewed reports of police receipt of Freeport cash, according to the national police commander as “lunch money.” The lunch money amounted to at least $10 million (see above report). Freeport’s labor difficulties are compounded by growing calls for a renegotiation of Freeport’s contract and by demonstrations targeting its office in Jakarta and its headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona.
Panetta’s exact comments regarding Indonesian “handling” of the strike were not reported and the U.S. Embassy has not provided text for Panetta’s remarks to his Indonesian hosts. Meanwhile the strike, which began in September largely over wage issues, continues.
see also WPAT/ETAN: Statement on Strike at Freeport McMoran’s Mining Operation in West Papua
- Breaking News:First Demos since Papuan crackdown to demand Indon take abuse responsibility (westpapuamedia.info)
- Violent Tactics Backfire In Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
- Maire Leadbeater reflects on West Papua’s ‘Arab Spring’ (westpapuamedia.info)
- AWPA: Increasing tension in West Papua (westpapuamedia.info)
From Indonesian Solidarity (Aust)
31st October 2011
Indonesian police plan to break Freeport Workers Strike.
According to Mr Albar Sabang, the Secretary of the All Indonesian Workers Union (SPSI), Freeport Indonesia Division, “four panzers, one backhoe and one bulldozer are on the way to mile 27 of the Freeport area in Mimika”. They plan to break the strike by November 1st, when the delegation of ICEM (a member of the CFMEU is part of the ICEM delegation) will meet with the Freeport unionists in Jakarta.
In a letter that was sent to SPSI, the Mimika police commander Deny Edward Siregar states that the SPSI has breached laws such as the Indonesian criminal law, and regulation 13/2003 that regulate the
workers’ conduct. In his letter the police commander says that “the strike has shifted its orientation, and become demonstrations without asking permission from the police and has blocked access to
roads that are vitally important for the national interests”. Further he states that the strikers “have moved from CP north to CP-1, Mile 27 and Gorong-Gorong”. And the strikers “have disturbed public order”. However, the Freeport Workers have followed all the right procedures in their strike while PT Freeport Indonesia has disbursed US$14 million of funds to Indonesian National Police and Military (TNI) to protect Freeport.
Gorong-Gorong is the area where Peter Ayameseba, one of the striking workers, was shot dead by the police in protests that occurred on October 10th.
The police rationale to break the strike, in addition to what the Mimika police commander has said, is that the strikers have pressured Freeport Indonesia, and gained a lot of solidarity support both in Indonesia and overseas. Freeport’s declaration this week of “force majeure” on some concentrate sales from its strike-hit Grasberg mine in Papua was another piece evidence that the strike has been effective.
Freeport Indonesia workers reportedly receive the lowest salaries among all Freeport McMoRan (FM) workers around the world, with wages ranging from US$1.50–$3.00 per hour. Meanwhile SPSI continues negotiating with Freeport Indonesia and demands to have US$7.5 to $33 per hour for workers level 1-3.
On 19th October 2011, the Indonesian military and police attacked the peaceful Papuan People’s Congress and six people were killed, more than 300 were taken into custody, the leaders accused of treason, and many others were beaten with rattan canes and batons by police and soldiers.
Freeport workers can be contacted via Yuly Parorongan as a spokeperson of the Freeport union at +6285254951253 and Frans Okoseray at +6181240492446
Indonesian Solidarity is an independent, non-profit organisation that supports human rights, social justice and democracy in Indonesia, and promotes a better understanding in Australia of these issues.
- End the theft, end the violence, close Freeport now Joint statement in solidarity with Freeport Indonesia worker – Indonesian Labour Unions (westpapuamedia.info)
- Freeport Workers willing to meet and speak directly to James R. Moffett and Richard C. Adkerson (westpapuamedia.info)
- RNZI: Difficult conditions remain for Freeport’s Papua workers (westpapuamedia.info)
- Strike pressures PT Freeport Indonesia into serious negotiations (westpapuamedia.info)
- Thousands of Freeport Indonesia mine workers start 7-day strike (westpapuamedia.info)