Tag Archives: Paniai Regency

Paniai villages reportedly razed as Densus 88 resumes sweep operations in search of TPN’s Jhon Yogi

West Papua Media

January 8, 2013

Unconfirmed reports from local activists and credible human rights observers in Paniai have claimed that 13 houses have been burnt down as sweep operations by Indonesian security forces have resumed, causing panic amongst local Papuan civilians.

The operation by a joint Indonesian army (TNI) and police unit, allegedly led by a large number of Detachment 88 troops (the elite Australian-funded counter-terror unit) is searching for Free Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM) guerrilla leader Jhon Yogi, has begun with up to 13 houses burned to the ground, allegedly claimed by Detachment 88 officers to be TPN posts.

Activists from National Papua solidarity (Napas.com) have reported that Detachment 88 (d88) troops began to raid houses across the area around Pugo village on January 7, from 11am local time.   According to field reports, the searches lasted well into the night, causing many people in surrounding villages to flee the area in fear of their lives.

Five Companies (approx 500 armed men) of the joint strike force (including one company of D88 troops) reportedly laid siege to the alleged headquarters area near Waididi Pogo of Yogi’s TPN-OPM Paniai region command on Monday.  According to Napas.com, Yogi’s men returned heavy fire on the strike force.

According to the local community members, the civilian houses in Pogo were burned quickly on Monday by rogue Indonesian military, together with plain clothes militia or Intel (military intelligence officers), according to SMS messages sent to the media.

Since 13 December 2011, the Indonesian military forces have been regularly attacking, and systematically dismantling and burning villages and traditional buildings alleged to be posts or headquarters of the TPN-OPM Division II  in Paniai.

Community members have reported to Napas.com, the movements of Yogi have been well know n by the Indonesian military, who are allegedly using the situation to have a “show force with full war equipment”, using this opportunity to surround the new TPN headquarters.

Separate reports received by West Papua Media,which have been unable to be confirmed to our verification standards, have claimed that “unknown persons” units have also fired on both civilians and military units. including gunfire that erupted from a suspected military source on a hill behind the Paniai General Hospital area at Uwibutu Madi.

According to human rights sources, Paniai people are greatly fearing for their safety amid another escalation in military offensives.

Previous offensives in the  Paniai since December 2011 have displaced tens of thousands of civilians, and burnt down hundreds of villages.

(For background, please visit http://westpapuamedia.info/tag/Paniai/)

West Papua Media

ELSHAM: Reverting to the DOM era: Papua back to being a Zone of Military Operations

PRESS RELEASE FROM ELSHAM PAPUA

December 19, 2012

ELSHAM PAPUA
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.

 

Violence continues to intensify across Paniai, towns emptied as TNI/Polri conduct reprisals after TPN attacks.

October 21, 2012

By Nick Chesterfield at West Papua Media

Special Investigation

As a major crackdown by Indonesian security forces deepens against West Papuan civil resistance activists ahead of mass mobilisations across Papua, West Papua Media is examining Papuan nationalist motivations for resistance, revisiting a region that has been continuously wracked by security force violence connected to illegal gold mining and resource extraction.

The Paniai regency, which straddles the “neck” of the Papuan “bird of Paradise” landform, is the site of a new gold rush that has resulted in brutality against ordinary indigenous tribal and townspeople.

Intensifying acts of violence by Indonesian security forces has reportedly emptied towns in the Paniai district of West Papua, with civilians allegedly fleeing in their thousands to the jungle outside the Enarotoli region, according to human rights sources in Paniai.

Regular reports have been received over recent weeks from church human rights sources detailing a campaign of arbitrary brutality committed by soldiers from the notorious Nabire-based 753 Battalion of the Indonesian army (TNI) , together with Brimob paramilitary police, against indigenous people primarily from the Mee tribe.  Random attacks on ordinary villagers, drunken altercations at gambling venues, and sporadic attempts by indigenous Mee people to claim any share of the vast sums of wealth flowing out of their lands, have all contributed to a sense of brutalization endured by the Mee people in recent months.

Engagements between forces of the Paniai command of the West Papuan National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional) and both Brimob and 753 Btn troops have been used as justification for violence against civilians, and several incidents connected to TNI business activities across the regency have increased tensions.

Daily confirmed reporting from church human rights sources in the Paniai have detailed a litany of abuses by security forces, including, torture, unprovoked killings, shootings, and beatings over economic turf wars.

Torture over taxi turf

On October 1, a misunderstanding quickly escalated to a torture incident in Waghete, in the Deiyei district of Paniai, illustrating perfectly the mundane economic triggers of abuse carried out by security force members.  A local district official Marion Dogopia, Head of Bouwobado District, Deiyai, was been driven in an official car (with yellow government plates) from Enarotoli to Waghete.  In the car were Dogopia’s driver, and his Papuan Police officer bodyguard, Ones Pigome.  The car turned into the Waghete bus terminal to pick up further family members, where a TNI Btn 753 soldier, moonlighting as a taxi driver, started an argument with the driver, according to a church human rights investigation seen by West Papua Media.

Across Indonesia, the TNI control the taxi and ojek (motorbike taxi) industry, which is used as both a good source of intelligence and a lucrative, effortless cash source for bored soldiers – who protect their turf ruthlessly.  According to witnesses quoted in the human rights investigation, the soldier taxi driver  – who was first in line at the taxi rank – angrily accused the official’s driver of being a taxi and picking up passengers  at the bus station, a place where taxis are not allowed to operate.  Despite the driver and Dogopia trying to calmly explain that the vehicle was a private vehicle and was not taking fares, the soldier refused to listen.

At this point, the municipal police officer Pigome, started to get angry at the soldier, and shouted and slapped the soldier, demanding he stand down.  The soldier resisted and called out his colleagues from Battalion 753, who were loitering at an army post 50 metres away.    According to witnesses, several dozen soldiers rushed over complete with their equipment and weapons, and pulled Ones Pigome out from his car. They severely beat the victim, kicked him, tore his clothes, and stomped him with their boots after he fell helplessly. As a result, Pigome sustained deep lacerations , contusions and swelling upon his head , face and body.

In a chilling reminder of the dangers faces to both journalists and witnesses to Indonesian state violence – and a sign of the fear that state abuse perpetrators in Papua have of being held to account by growing citizen media power – witnesses reported that several soldiers were standing guard while their colleagues were beating up Pigome, keeping watch after the voices of several 753 members could be heard saying “see who is taking photos or videos”.  Witnesses reported that soldiers took their rifles up to low ready positions and intimidated citizens, so that nobody was allowed to take photos.   The beating was reported to have lasted over an hour.

Despite the very public nature of the beating and ill-discipline in torturing another member of the security forces, no sanction against the offending 753 soldiers was reported.  This further example of impunity has contributed to the tension and feeling that the TNI is out to cause indiscriminate violence to Papuans, as collective punishment for the temerity of any challenge to Jakarta’s colonial plunder.

Military contacts increase

Indonesian army officers from 753 have also recently been implicated in several other incidents.

On Thursday October 11, a joint Indonesian army and Brimob patrol sent to secure logistics from the TPN for local elections, was moving in a speedboat up the Kebo River from Enarotoli.  According to reports, the army was using a civilian speedboat on Waneuwo Creek, Agadide District, and a TPN patrol saw this and opened fire on the boat, allegedly with a rocket propelled grenade according to MetroTV, though no evidence was provided for this claim.  In the firefight, the boat carrying food and logistical supplies for the TNI was sunk, and two TNI soldiers sustained gunshot wounds in their hands and feet.

The military conducted reprisals immediately by opening fire indiscriminately on civilian fishing boats tied up at the Aikai fishing hamlet in Enarotoli.  Civilians were then rounded up at gunpoint in the suburb of Bobaigo in Enarotoli, arrested without charge or justification – all are still being held at different police posts for interrogation.  West Papua Media has been unable to ascertain the identities of those arrested.

Prior to the latest wave of violence, throughout August a series on attacks on military posts, local officials, ordinary people and transmigrant workers were widely blamed on the ubiquitous “unknown persons” (OTK) killed 5 people, and critically injured another 6.  These OTK attacks, now wryly interpreted by Papuans to mean “Specially Trained Persons” (Orang Terlatih Khusus), were used as justification by security forces to conduct widespread reprisals against Papuan civilians.  As is the usual case, police have been in no hurry to identify the perpetrators with evidence, or do anything other than cooperate in extra-judicial operations, according to independent sources in Enarotoli.

In August, the reprisal by security forces forced a closure of the town of Enarotali, with schools, public transport and food supplies paralysed.  All health services in the District General Hospitals across Paniai were not running, as nurses, medical staff and patients were forcibly discharged by the security forces.  Civilians were unable to engage in farming, causing crops and food supplies to suffer, and were unable to gather firewood in the forest or fishing in the lake.  According to testimonies, the atmosphere was constantly coloured by the sounds of gunfire.  This situation was experienced by people in the city Enarotali, Madi (Paniai regency capital) and surrounding areas in Paniai.

After a period of relative calm in September, this situation is again being repeated through the behaviour of 753 Battalion and the members of Brimob, who are intricately entangled in the illegal gold mining trade.  West Papua Media reported in December 2011 on the ruthless Operation Matoa which was launched across the region to destroy the TPN forces of Jhon Yogi – resulting in the displacement of over 14,000 people, almost 150 villages burnt down and the failure of basic services for almost a year.

Violence over illegal gold control

Brimob paramilitary police, who were stationed in the Degeuwo and Derero River alluvial gold diggings, were providing a lucrative protection racket for the Australian-owned West Wits Mining and other foreign small scale mining companies, which was detailed in an original investigation by West Papua Media.  During Operation Matoa, helicopters leased by West Wits were allegedly provided to Indonesian security forces, who used them to strafe and napalm villages in the TPN stronghold of Eduda.  Then, as now, creating conflict to be suppressed is a powerful economic motivator for Brimob and 753 troops, who would otherwise be without “legitimate” reason to be around the gold diggings, and all the opportunities for profit that entails.  Brimob troops are contracted in lucrative business interests across the alluvial gold mining sector as they provide security for diggings, and also provide site security for several joint operations

The TPN forces of Jhon Yogi have long been suspected by observers as entangled in a mutually beneficial relationship of violence with both Brimob police and 753 Btn, as they both vie for control of artisanal alluvial gold mining operations across the rich rivers and streams that lead into Lake Paniai.

One observer of the Paniai struggle spoken to by West Papua Media today questioned if the perpetrators of ongoing repression were “simply bored 19 year olds with guns, Mafioso soldiers protecting their turf, or entangled business relationships between all actors in a classic horizontal resource based conflict.

On October 12, another armed contact occurred between Yogi’s TPN troops and another joint Brimob/753 patrol on a road near Tanjung Toyaimoti, Agadide District, according to TPN sources.   Citizen media sources reported that Jhon Yogi’s TPN unit was ambushed by the Brimob while Yogi’s men were on their way from Pasir Putih District to Komopa.  The sources claim that TPN were startled by gunshots near the village and returned fire in a shootout for several minutes.   Two TPN members were shot, one (Dabeebii Gobai, 26 years old) critically, and died the next day.

It is unclear how or why the vastly outgunned TPN unit was able, or allowed, to escape by Brimob officers, despite having several mobile units on call.  The failure to capture Yogi has raised significant questions as to desire of Brimob to capture him.

A senior church source in Paniai questioned the conditions behind the conflict and the commitment for actors in the conflict to actually seek peace.  According to the source, this situation has created a psychological trauma where “Paniai people are still living in the same uncertain circumstances (as when) the area was considered to be a ​​military operations area (DOM) until 2002. … We predict that such incidents are likely to continue to occur because both parties have still not demonstrated an attitude to restrict their areas of movement nor invite each other to prioritise persuasive (unarmed dialogue-based) approaches. It is often difficult to accept such offers.”

He continued, “All parties in Paniai remain indifferent to these problems occurring, even though the victims are often civilians. Maybe it’s because violence is considered normal in Paniai?”

Westpapuamedia

TPN/OPM letter:’We will never surrender’

JUBI, 7 January 2012

 John Magai Yogi and this troops

 

General John Magai Yogi, the leader of the TPN/OPM Makodam Pemka IV Division in Paniai, declared in a letter that they will not withdraw a single step in their operations against the Indonesian army and police which have been under way since August, 2011. He said that their struggle was a continuation of the struggle of their predecessors to achieve the aspirations of the people of West Papua.

‘We, the TPN/OPM throughout the Land of Papua, will never surrender and will continue to resist the forces of Indonesia  to the very last drop of blood,’ he wrote in the letter dated 5 January.’The only weapons we hold in our hands are Ukaa Mapega, bows and arrows, but we have pledged to God Almighty that we are ready to confront the Brimob troops of the Indonesian police and Densus 88, the elite forces of Indonesia, who are equipped with modern weapons and are at present in control of the district of Paniai’

He made two other points in his letter. The first is: The United Nations, the USA and the Netherlands  will soon be called to account for the mistakes they made in the past which sacrificed the Papuan people. And the second is:  The UN and the USA must speedily resolve the Papuan problem because this problem will never be resolved by means of bargains and Indonesian development activities in Papua.

‘We will never surrender. People living in the kampungs and near the  forests  are always deemed to be part of the TNP/OPM, even though they are just ordinary people. They [the military] are now chasing the TPN/OPM and we are not  free from military pressure in the forests of Paniai because the chief of  police has ordered a large number of  Brimob troops from Kalimantan and Densus 88 to come here and encircle our headquarters. They are threatening our lives. The troops that have been sent here are disrupting our tranquillity and are trying to destroy us, the TPN/OPM,’ he said in the letter.

He went on to write that since the encirclement and attack against their Eduda headquarters on 13 December 2011, members of the TPN/OPM division have held on to their position in the forests of Paniai. ‘This does not mean that we have surrendered.’

The letter concludes with the following words: ‘All people and groups have basic rights which must be respected by everyone, including the right to self-determination. This is the right  which we Papuan people demand from the UN who never listened when our rights were  trampled upon by the forces of Indonesia and the USA.’

West Papua Report January 2012


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 edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

 

West Papua Report
January 2012

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 edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.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.

Contents:

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.

Indonesian Human Rights Commission Calls for Withdrawal of Security Forces from Paniai

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.

Inadequate Health Care Responsible for High Rate of Death of Mothers at Child Birth

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.