Tag Archives: Papuan people

Bobii: Indonesian Armed Forces, the main Anti-Peace Agents in Papua

By Selpius Bobii  writing from Abepura State Prison, Jayapura

 Opinion

December 24, 2013

Every religion teaches values of goodness and kindness and has teachings that are intended to create happiness and peace on this earth and in eternity.  We hear so many people speak of the importance of peace, but the reality is that it’s not that simple to realise peace in our everyday lives. In the Papuan province of Indonesia it feels like peace is so far from becoming a reality for the indigenous people who live there.

Of late the Cenderawasih XVII Military Commander in West Papua has been coining the phrase “Peace is beautiful” and yet at the same time the Indonesian Armed Forces continue to be the number one culprit committing acts of violence and humanitarian atrocities against the indigenous people of Papua.  Behind the mask of these sweet words the Armed Forces are clearly acting very much against the creation of peace in Papua.

 Peace can be realised in a place when every person, every group, every faction, respects the rights of others; and this extends to nations and tribes. Where each is able to exercise their rights and at the same time fulfils their obligations towards others. It seems however in Papua that the realisation of peace is something that’s incredibly difficult to achieve, with the root cause of that being the lack of recognition of the very basic political rights of the people of Papua by all three Indonesia, the USA and the United Nations (UN).

(UN)involved in Papua's desire for Peace; very involved in its atrocities (Photo: Public domain)
(UN)involved in Papua’s desire for Peace; very involved in its atrocities (Photo: Public domain)

With the USA and UN’s active support throughout the entire process of annexation of Papua into Indonesia in the 1960’s, they indeed played a part in the actions of violence and atrocities against the indigenous people of Papua.  They achieved their goal of making Papua into ‘the kitchen of the world’, opening it to the many international companies that have been stripping Papua of its rich natural resources ever since. It was not to end at the annexation of Papua, as they have continued these last more than 50 years to support Indonesia’s hold on Papua which in turn keeps the door open for exploitation of the land.  There have been various forms of aid and in particular joint programs in security and defence, which of course are critical to Indonesia’s continued domination of Papua.

The Indonesian Armed Forces have by intention made Papua into a centre of conflict, but for what end?  In so doing they create a situation where the indigenous people can be paralysed, can be annihilated and the world just keeps quiet, with Indonesia saying they are dealing with the conflict. The result?  Papua remains permanently part of Indonesia and its natural resources can be exploited with ease by international parties.

Let’s not be fooled that the partnerships going on between Indonesia and other nations of the world in the areas of security and defence are aimed at peace building and protecting the people of the region as claimed. Nothing could be further from the truth! The reality is they have quite the opposite goal! The Indonesian Armed Forces are the main agents intentionally creating violence, bondage and theft of natural resources, discrimination, marginalisation, injustice, terror, intimidation and humanitarian atrocities against the indigenous peoples of the land of Papua. Their military and civilian operations both overt and covert are intended to slowly but surely annihilate ethnic Papuans.

The many forms of both visible and hidden violence and humanitarian atrocities undertaken by the state of Indonesia against indigenous Papuans are intended to stifle the political aspirations of Papuans for independence and at the same time annihilate the people. In the face of this continued violence against their people the indigenous peoples of Papua continue to express their opposition to the many human rights violations by peaceful and dignified means, primarily by means of peaceful demonstration. Yet even the narrowest space for a voice calling for democracy has been blocked by the Armed Forces in recent times, especially by the Provincial level of Indonesian Police.  The Provincial Police are known for their practice of taking advantage of occasions when there are peaceful demonstrations to create conflict and to terrorise, torture, kill, arrest and imprison Papuans who struggle peacefully for change.  Indonesia’s Armed Forces are constantly manipulating activities of the Struggle to create incidents of violence. Nevertheless Papuans continue to struggle peacefully in keeping with their decision at the 2000 2nd National Papuan Congress.

And so in the midst of all this, now it is Christmas. Where all parties in Papua hear of the message of ‘the coming of the King of Peace’.  A message that reminds humanity that Jesus Christ came to bring peace to this earth.  A message that starts to have real meaning only when entire communities of humans make space to allow for peace in their hearts.  To that end let’s all prepare our hearts with simplicity, faithfulness, honesty and love for one another. We are each one of us reminded by the message of Christmas.

It is dearly hoped that the message of Christmas will also touch hearts and bring awareness to those who are committing the many forms of violence against indigenous Papuans. That there might be a commitment to bring an end to all forms of oppression towards indigenous Papuans and to enter into dialogue between Jakarta and Papua with a neutral facilitator. To reach that end we need to be ready and willing to humble our hearts, to be faithful, honest and to act in love. Only in that way can we bring peace to the land of Papua.  We are all called to bring an end to the latent conflicts in Papua and to create peace, no matter who we are and wherever we may be.

Peace and joy at Christmas to all and throughout 2014!

Footnote:

  1. 1.       The Dutch previously tried to prepare Papua to become an independent nation whilst still under their control, with those preparations reaching a peak on 1 December 1961. However less than a month later on 19 December 1961 Indonesia by a political and military invasion marked by what’s known as Trikora (a three prong command which demanded the dismantlement of the “puppet” Papuan state created by the Dutch; the raising of the Indonesian Red and White flag over Papua; and preparation for a general mobilisation in Papua) succeeded in annexing Papua into the Indonesian Republic.

Selpius Bobii is the  General Chairperson of Front PEPERA & is a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee imprisoned in  Abepura State Prison, Jayapura, Papua, for another Christmas.

 

Bobii: INDONESIA CAUSES DELAY IN MSG FORUM DECISION ON WEST PAPUAN MEMBERSHIP

by Selpius Bobii in Abepura Prison, West Papua

21 December, 2013

Opinion / Analysis

In June 2013 the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Djoko Suyanto invited the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to send a delegation to visit Indonesia(1).  At the 19th Summit of the MSG on 21 June 2013 the MSG leadership determined that the question of the application for MSG membership by West Papua would be decided at the latest within 6 months of that meeting, following receipt of a report on a visit to Indonesia by the MSG member Foreign Ministers.

It is now 6 months to the day since that decision was made and yet the MSG Foreign Ministers have not yet visited Indonesia due to the lack of certainty concerning the invitation from Indonesia.  It is now clear that Indonesia’s supposed invitation was but a political snare to delay the MSG leadership’s decision regarding West Papua’s application for MSG membership.  Meanwhile Indonesia has been busy throughout this 6 months lobbying and making offers to the individual MSG member states in order to influence the outcome of that decision.

Indonesia is extremely sly and cunning in the way it plays its ‘Indonesian puppet’ politics. It was with the very same slyness that enabled Indonesia to succeed in annexing West Papua into the Republic of Indonesia in the 1960s and which has enabled Indonesia to maintain its hold on Papua ever since. Indonesia has undertaken all possible means to influence the international community such that West Papua to this date remains within the region of RI’s power, and Indonesia’s invitation to the MSG in June 2013 was but one of RI’s political strategies to that end.  It was an intentional ploy to cause Papua’s efforts to become a member of the MSG to fail.

From the time news was heard of Indonesia’s invitation to the MSG, the indigenous Papuan community already knew that Indonesia would not follow through in fulfilling its commitment to enable the MSG visit to Jakarta and Papua; and that has now become a reality.  Meanwhile almost all of the member nations of the MSG have fallen right into the snares set by Indonesia, allowing themselves to be manipulated so as to meet Indonesia’s purpose of defeating Papua’s application for MSG membership.

Indonesia has not only tricked the Melanesian nations individually in this way and has tricked them as a united body in the MSG regarding the supposed invitation, but has at the same time deceived the international community in regards to the same. So many have been hoping and waiting for the outcome of this matter, many of whom have made sacrifices to uphold truth, justice and dignity of the West Papuan people.

Indonesia’s deceit of the MSG Forum in this way just serves to heighten the perception in the international community and for some of the MSG members that Indonesia as a state is chronically lying to the world. There have been endless occasions when RI has wilfully lied in order to maintain its hold on West Papua within Indonesia and so many have been deceived by Indonesia’s cunning and sly ways in this regard. The tragic consequence being that as a result many parties have chosen to ignore the urgent humanitarian problems in West Papua, problems the ramifications of which are most horrifying indeed. Problems that Indonesia for 50 years has gone to great efforts to hide from the world.  And so determination of the legal and political status of Papua according to international law has also been delayed.

Discussions in relation to the human rights violations and the legal and political status of the West Papuan nation at the 19th Summit of the MSG in Noumea, gave a breath of fresh air and new hope to the indigenous community of West Papua. To a people who have been under the cruel colonial domination of Indonesia and its allies for over 50 years. It is dearly hoped that this new hope born of the 19th MSG Summit will not just elapse like the passing of time; and that it will not be brought down by the many offers made by the Indonesian government and its allies to the MSG member states.  Rather the Melanesian people of Papua hope and pray that the stated commitment of the 19th MSG forum will be upheld and defended, seeing West Papua given full membership at the MSG and consequently of the Pacific Islands Forum.  Such that in time the problem of Papua can be dealt with by the official mechanisms of the United Nations and the nation of Papua become independent and set free from all forms of tyranny, oppression and enslavement.

The commitment of the MSG Forum at this time is indeed being sorely tested. Will the MSG leadership have the courage to decide in the near future to make West Papua a full member of the MSG without having to wait for a report from a now much delayed visit of the MSG member Foreign Ministers to Indonesia? Or will the MSG leadership delay that decision and succumb to the influence of the cunning politics of Indonesia and its allies?

The indigenous community of Papua and those in the international community who care about the fate of West Papuans, are following the political wake from the last MSG Summit. All are awaiting a decision of certainty on West Papua’s application for MSG membership as a first real and effective step towards eventually bringing the problem of the legal and political status of West Papua to the mechanisms of the United Nations.  As the people of Papua have not struggled for more than 50 years  to take something that rightfully belongs to another, but rather to have the sovereign independence of the people of Papua recognised by the world.

Footnotes:

1. That invitation was conveyed by Suyanto when he met with the Fijian Prime Minister (at that time the Chairperson of the MSG) in Suva, Fiji. 

Selpius Bobii is the  General Chairperson of Front PEPERA.  This article is written from Abepura Prison, Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia

 Related articles

Warinussy: More makar cases in Papua

Comment by Yan Christian Warinussy, senior lawyer in West Papua, recipient of the John Humphreys Freedom Award, 2005
December 13, 2013

The latest treason verdict against seven West Papuans is yet another example of the serious human rights situation in West Papuan, in particular with regard to the right to freedom of expression. The seven men were headed by Isak Kalaiban.

Based on the facts revealed during the course of the trial, it is clear that there was a plan between the accused to freely give expression to their views in a way that is based on the rule of law.
This occurred on 1 May 2013 after Isak and his colleagues brought the families of the accused together on the previous day at their home  in Aimas-Sorong. While they were meeting together,  a police patrol in Sorong began to opened fire at the group of people, as a result of which four people were killed or wounded.
At the trial, the men were charged with treason (makar)  by the court in Sorong before a panel of judges headed by Maria Magdalena Sitanggung.
None of the witnesses questioned at the trial said anything about what had taken place on the day before, 30 April.
For the legal team defending the accused, the question is who indeed is it that perpetrated treason in view of the fact that none of the witnesses who appeared in the trial knew anything about the men who were being charged.
This is yet another case in which the accused were charged under Articles 106, 108  and 110 to prevent people in Sorong from giving free expression to their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly  as provided for by Law 39/1999 on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Translated by Carmel Budiardjo

‘OTSUS Plus’ a further blurring of Papuan History

Opinion / Analysis

By  Selpius Bobii in Abepura Prison,

11 October 2013

“ All leaders have notes of their mark in history, so I figure this forms mine in the history of Papua.” These were the words of the Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe to journalists following the acceptance of the draft Papuan  ‘Special Autonomy (OTSUS) Plus’ legislation.  The draft legislation was a result of work by the Cenderawasih University (UnCen) Academic Assistance Team together with the Papuan Provincial Government. The ceremony for the handing over of the draft OTSUS legislation (referred to as the ‘Papuan Governance Legislation’) took place at the Aston Hotel in Jayapura on 9 October 2013. (www.tabloidjubi.com/2013/10/10/draf-uu-otsus-plus-terus-digodok/).

To look more closely at the Governor’s comment, was he speaking out of some ambition to make a mark in history for the period he was governor in Papua whilst SBY was still President of Indonesia? Being noted as the governor present at the time the Otsus Plus legislation was forced onto the Papuan indigenous community. If we look back at what the indigenous Papuan community has had to endure we see the evidence that under leader after leader both at the national level and the Papuan regional level, that there has been nothing but a ‘blurring’ of history in Papua. The Otsus Plus legislation that is about to be applied in Papua will but add to that blurring of Papua’s history.

Until this time all policies in Papua have been set from Jakarta and the reins have always been held from Jakarta. Those in official positions within the provincial and kabupaten (regency) levels of government in Papua have acted as ‘bridges’ to enable the Central Government’s projects to be a ‘success’, in line with their ends of marginalisation, discrimination and making Papuans a minority.   Which on the broader scale have amounted to a process of annihilation of the ethnic Papuan race.

No matter who holds the power at the provincial level, they will never liberate the people of Papua from the discrimination, marginalisation, being made a minority and the annihilation of the ethnic Papuan people, which has been planned and carried out by the Republic of Indonesia (RI) constantly until now.  Since the time Papua was annexed by Indonesia, the efforts of Indonesia to this end have been nicely ‘wrapped’ so that they are systematic and ‘tidy’, but make no mistake they are planned and measured by the Central Government taking place through a number of strategies and tactics.

Governor Enembe has stated to journalists that all Papuans want “major changes” and one can only think that he perceives this draft legislation is the solution to awaken Papua and bring about those ‘major changes’.  However what if the Otsus Plus legislation does NOT bring about those expected major positive changes or in fact any changes that lead to a better situation for indigenous Papuans? The Otsus Plus legislation is not only NOT the solution to bring an end to the problems in Papua but in fact will clearly have the opposite effect and bring nothing but calamity and disaster for the indigenous peoples of Papua.

The legislation is intended to protect the rights of and empower the indigenous people of Papua, however all agree that the application of OTSUS this last 12 years by Indonesia (2001-2013) has been a total failure, and that it has neither protected or respected the basic rights of indigenous Papuans (including even the most basic right to life or their basic political rights).  The efforts of Indonesia to revise the Papuan Special Autonomy legislation so as to become the Papuan Special Autonomy Plus legislation is bound to meet exactly the same fate as the Special Autonomy legislation and completely fail!

Governor Enembe’s statement that the draft Otsus Plus legislation is the “desire and aspiration” of the Papuan community and “something to be struggled for”  brings much shame on Papua and is in fact a public lie.  As the Papuan community never wanted the Otsus Plus package that is now being forced on Papua and it has never been the ‘aspiration’ of the indigenous Papuan community.  The revision of Otsus to become Otsus Plus is rather the desire and aspirations of the political elite in Jakarta and in particular of SBY’s Cabinet. These efforts are being driven by SBY due to both Otsus and then the UP4B program (the Accelerated Development Unit in Papua and West Papua) having previously failed.

The results of the work carried out by the Uncen Academic Assistance team as follow-up to the draft Otsus Plus legislation – the initial document of which was prepared by President SBY through Feliks Wanggai – simply cannot be claimed to be something of the desires and aspirations of the Papuan people.  As the Uncen team is but part of the hands and feet of the Republic of Indonesia and has intentions to defend the oppression in Papua by RI and by so doing to extend the suffering of the indigenous people of Papua.

Having Uncen University involved in this way to give some false legitimacy to the legislation, was also practised by Indonesia in 1999 in order to force another of Jakarta’s projects onto Papua.  It was at that time that the Uncen Assistance Team was formed by RI to be involved in the initial draft Special Autonomy legislation.  Yet when the draft legislation was provided to the Central Government in Jakarta it was then cut right back. The final draft which was then totally according to Jakarta’s agenda was approved by the national Legislative Assembly and it was then applied under the order of the President in the year 2000 against firm opposition from the indigenous Papuan community becoming operative in 2001.

The draft legislation in this instance as prepared by the Academic Assistance Team together with the Papuan Provincial Government is merely intended to deceive the public, local, national and international. As the final draft legislation that will be presented for approval will actually be that prepared by President SBY’s Cabinet and in particular by the President’s Special Staff person in the area of Regional Autonomy Fileks Wanggai.
Sadly those lecturers at the Cenderawasih University who have been involved in the project have allowed themselves to be used as a ‘bridge’ to enable Jakarta’s project to pass through the system.  The draft Papuan Otsus Plus legislation has been handed to the Papuan Governor by the University rector Professor Dr Karel Sesa. From the time Papua was initially annexed into the Republic of Indonesia on 1 May 1963 the Uncen University has always played a role of securing and legitimising programs from Jakarta. They managed to destroy all their important records that were a part of the regime of the colonising Indonesia and in so doing to bring much suffering on Papuans. This role of legitimising Jakarta’s agendas was in fact from the start one of Indonesia’s  intentions in establishing Uncen University.

It is most ironic that despite the wave of rejection by the Papuan indigenous community of Otsus Plus, that the Uncen Assisting Team has been working together with the Papuan Provincial Government to ensure ‘success’ of Jakarta’s political package. In so doing they have pawned their very self-worth for positions of importance and wealth.  Their consciences have become blinded by their passion for wealth and positions of influence. Their expert knowledge has been used to support the colonial domination of Indonesia rather that to rescue the nation of Papua from the crisis of this era under RI’s colonial power. This is a matter of great shame and which brings much sadness.

The fate of the Papuan nation”s community is being played with by these persons politically prostituting themselves for the sake of personal gain. The strength of the nation of Papua to resist the destructive effects of RI’s ways and means has been weakened with the support of certain Papuans themselves working both within and outside the Indonesian government systems.  People working merely to chase personal importance and the interests of their own factions.  The consequence being that the indigenous Papuan community has become the victim of their conspiracies of interests at the local, national and international level.

This oppression must be bought to an end! The entire Papuan community must be aware of these realities and commit to walk together so as to realise the goal together.  Papuan activists in all locations need to consolidate and act as one, uniting agendas and stepping forward together. In particular youth and students in all locations need to strictly head only towards the struggle for the liberation of the nation of Papua. Whilst the international community in solidarity is asked to continue all efforts with actions, campaigns and diplomatic efforts to liberate Papua as their supportive efforts are so badly needed towards the end of upholding justice and the human dignity of Papua above all other interests.

To the Republic of Indonesia it is demanded that continuing discussion of the unilaterally prepared draft Otsus Plus legislation (referred to as the Papuan Governance legislation) stops  immediately. The unilateral application of political packages of any kind by Jakarta will never bring an end to the problems in the land of Papua. Rather RI needs to enter into dignified dialogue and non-conditional consultations between RI and the nation of Papua, facilities by a neutral third party and held in a neutral location so as to find a dignified solution to the problems.

There is no word for ‘give-up’ in the dictionary of the revolution of liberation; and neither is there a term ‘too late’ in the field of struggle. There is still time. The people of Papua have strength, have faith, have hope and have the Lord. We must be strong and stay able. We must rise up and go forward. We must oppose all forms of tyranny and oppression and be firm in our convictions that we will eventually be victorious. That will indeed be a most glorious moment when the times comes..

‘ Unity without limits! Struggle until victorious!’
Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA &  is a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee in  Abepura Prison, Jayapura
 

 

Tragic Bloodshed in Waghete, Papua – Suspected Serious Human Rights Violations

Analysis/ Opinion

by Selpius Bobii

Abepura Prison,  27 September 2013

Ever since West Papua was annexed into the Republic of Indonesia on 1 May 1963, it has been nothing other than a land smeared with blood, and at every moment the blood of Papuans has been shed by continuous killings.   On 23 September 2013 there was yet again bloodshed with a tragic incident in Waghete, Tigi district, in Deiyai Regency of the Central Highlands.  The incident started from ‘sweeping’ (house to house searches) carried out by joint armed forces of BRIMOB (an Indonesian National Police special operations unit), and a special unit of the Indonesian Military (TNI) unit 753, the Paniai District Police and local police from the Sub-District Units of Tigi and the Paniai Koramil.  The following article looks in detail at the background to why this incident occurred and at the impact of the incident on the local community.

When asked why the joint armed forces were carrying out sweepings in the area in the first instance, the High Commissioner for Police in the District of Paniai responded that they were making the area safe for civilians from the practices of gambling, drunkenness and the carrying of sharp objects (www.tempo.co/read/news/2013/09/23/058515978). However the facts clearly indicate that the sweepings were being carried out not to make the area safe for civilians against the said vices of drunkenness and gambling, but rather to:

  1. Confiscate any sharp instruments including all types of smaller knives, large machete like knives, axes and bows and arrows
  2. Confiscate shovels
  3. Confiscate mobile phone memory cards with photos of those active in the Papuan Freedom Movement
  4. Confiscate traditional woven dillybags (nukens) with patterns of the Morning Star flag, and to
  5. Target community members with dreadlocks and long beards.

Of course the very items that the armed forces confiscated during the sweeping – small knives, larger machete type knives, axes and shovels – are those used by the community for maintaining their gardens which is their source of food.  As in the Deiyai regency most civilians are farmers who farm the mountain slopes. The forces even confiscated any traditional darts, which are something which by customary beliefs cannot be separated from the life of the Mee Tribe as they are symbolic and special to that tribe. That they would even consider confiscating the peoples carrying bags and mobile phone memory cards with Papuan photos is a shameful reflection of the police and military, as those are symbols of Papua that are widely available and have been published in many books, media and other publicly available forms.
The TNI and police are well aware the people need those tools in particular to survive and they well know those items are widely accessible, so the question begs why did they really intentionally undertake operations to confiscate these items?

The targeting of civilians with dreadlocks and long beards -  based on the false perception of the police and military that anyone of that appearance is a member of the TPN /OPM – is also a shameful reflection of the thinking of the armed forces, as long beards and dreadlocks are an age-old tradition of Papuans.  The Indonesian police and military should understand and respect something of the cultural and social ways of the people of Papua such that they don’t recklessly carry out arbitrary actions which can lead to the sacrifice of innocent civilians’ lives. Reckless and improper actions which  also destroy the image of the police and Indonesian army in the public eye. Throughout the many years of Indonesia’s presence in Papua police, TNI and National Intelligence (BIN) have always assumed that Papuans with dreadlocks and long beards are all TPN OPM members. Whenever met with people with those physical characteristics the armed forces always act with improper and cruel actions intended to make life hard for those individuals. This is absolutely unreasonable! We could just as much say that every Papuan who longs for liberation from the cruel oppression of Indonesia could be called OPM!  When is Indonesia going to wake up to the reality that that no action whatsoever of the Indonesian military and police against the people of Papua will ever be able to destroy the Mambruk (Papuan) ideology in their hearts; that their cruel actions will never be able to stifle the political aspirations embodied by the Papuan movement for freedom.  Reckless,  cruel and improper actions by the armed forces such as occurred at Waghete must stop!  The forces instead need to adopt persuasive approaches (with dialogue and non-violent means)  in facing up to civilians in all circumstances and not use repressive measures such as has been evidenced at Waghete.

The events that led to the killing and wounding of civilians that day in Waghete started with the above stated sweepings which were being conducted in a manner that was far too excessive and abusive.  A particular activist present at the time (who cannot be named for safety reasons ) told the armed forces at the time that the community didn’t accept their excessive sweeping actions, but to no effect. They testified that before the shootings on 21 September 2013 the joint armed forces had carried out sweepings and detained 15 Papuans who had dreadlocks and long beards. Then on 23 September 2013 the forces returned to the same location where those persons had been arrested and carried out sweepings yet again with excessive abusive behaviour.

It was the second aggressive sweeping according to the witness that was just too much, and some in the community couldn’t keep silent.  He testified that it was not the adults who voiced the community’s protest but rather high-school and upper secondary school students together with a number of other youth. The armed forces had also confiscated some of the young peoples’ phone memory cards then according to the witness the young people protested in particular after seeing two Papuan mothers on their way to  their gardens having their gardening shovels confiscated then an adult male’s koteka (penis sheath) being checked by forces.  The witness stated: “The protest came from the school children and no adults were involved.  Then the police responded to their protest with excessive violence. The Head of the Paniai District Police a number of times shouted out a command to those under his command to shoot the children.  I was there at the time and saw myself the Head of the District Police together with police officers under his command, chasing and shooting at the school children with their weapons. That day I also heard there were 4 civilians detained.”

The Police spokesperson claimed that the disturbance occurred due to provocation by a group of supporters of a particular failed candidate in the local government elections. However another activist at Waghete (who also cannot be named for security reasons) testified that “the tragedy at Waghete was entirely due to the actions of the joint Indonesian police and military forces and cannot be said to be connected in any way to a problem of the local elections.”

This accusation by the police was just a strategy to try and  turn criticism back towards the local civilian population.

The facts are clear that it was the military and police that provoked the civilians into carrying out some type of protest in response to their excessively abusive treatment of the people  during the sweeping and their arbitrary arrest and detention of a number of community members. The forces then met the young people’s opposition with extremely excessive violence including shooting, killing, arbitrary arrest, and torture of civilians. If there had not been excessively abusive sweeping by the joint armed forces in the first instance then of course there would never have been opposition from the young people. Secondly if the response from the civilians had not been dealt with so repressively by the police and military then of course there would also not have been victims of  shooting, torture, intimidation and arbitrary arrest. In summary it was precisely the excessively abusive sweepings by the military and police that triggered the reaction from the civilians; It was precisely the repressive reaction from the armed forces to the civilians’ opposition which caused the tragic killing and serious shooting injuries of civilians in Waghete.

In considering whether there is any element of truth in the police’s accusation that civilians attacked them with rocks, or pieces of timber or arrows, a human rights activist Yohanes Mote who was present at the time of the shooting stated to the magazine Selangkah, “At the moment the incident occurred I was there. The community didn’t take up arrows. We were really disappointed that they were checking the penis sheaths of the men (traditional clothing of males). As there’s nothing inside penis sheaths but male genitals is there. We asked them why if they wanted to carry out sweeping because of gambling and drinking (alcohol), had they not stopped the drinking and gambling.  The gambling and drinking had been allowed to continue by the police so that through that we Papuans could be killed and shot like this.”, (www.majalahselangkah.com/content/penembakan-pelajar-di-deiyai-aktivis-ham-minta-kapolri-copot-pelaku-dan-evaluasi-polisi-di-papua).

Another activist who also can’t be named for security reasons testified “The students didn’t attack the armed forces with arrows. I only saw two or three students throw rocks in the direction of the armed forces but the rocks didn’t even hit them. Rather the police and military brutally shot those children. The one that shot Alpius Mote was an aide of the Paniai Head of Police. Alpius died on the spot as the bullet went right through his right side and came out his back. He didn’t die whilst being taken to the Paniai hospital (as the police claimed). Whilst regarding Alex Mote (another victim), the bullet entered the right side of his chest. After Alpius was shot dead the police gathered up all the bullet cartridges. I couldn’t take a photo at that moment as it would have been impossible.”

From the explanations of these two activists who were present at the time of the sweepings and shooting, it is clearly evident that the accusation of the police that the community attacked them was merely words to try and justify their own repressive actions of wounding and killing unarmed civilians. It is most ironic that the Papuan Provincial Police spokesperson also tried to legally justify the police and TNI’s actions, stated that the shooting by their forces was in line with their procedures since the citizens were becoming increasingly anarchist. He tried to justify the shootings on the basis that if the forces hadn’t fired then the situation would have escalated (www.news.viva.co.id/news/read/446352-bentrok-aparat-dan-warga-di-papua–1-tewas).

Returning to the initial action of the forces – being the sweeping – one must ask the question why were the police and TNI carrying sweepings out in such an excessively abusive manner in the first place. From the facts provided by witnesses as stated above, it would seem that the sweeping was intentionally carried out in such a way so as to give rise to some type of conflict in Waghete. The sweeping was not intended to make the community safe from vices of drinking and gambling as the police claimed, but rather to give rise to a conflict that would enable the armed forces to do away with those in the community with long dreadlocks and beards who were considered by the forces to be OPM/TPN members. The sweepings also provided an opportunity for them to confiscate any items that were symbolic of the freedom struggle. It was an intentional act carried out to make people terrified and to torture, kill and injure innocent civilians at that location.

Witnesses testified that on 21 September around 15 people with dreg locks and long beards were violently arrested and detained at the Paniai District Police Command headquarters. Then on 23 September one student was shot dead and another shot in the chest. An English teacher from the local Deiyai upper secondary school Yance Pekey who voiced opposition to the treatment by the armed forces, was also inhumanely ‘dealt with’ at his office. It is understood he was also detained together with the other 3 civilians at the Paniai District Police Station. From data available to date it is understood that the total of civilians detained over these few days was 19. To the date of writing their names have not been made available by the police and neither has access been allowed  to visit any of them. (For the preliminary report to this incident  see: www.westpapuamedia.info/2013/09/27/preliminary-report-into-waghete-deaths-and-sweepings/).

From the above stated detail the Writer concludes that the tragic events from 21 – 23 September 2013 in Waghete involved a number of serious human rights violations. Violations which commenced with the excessively abusive sweeping and harassment by the military and police; followed by the arbitrary arrests, torture,, shooting dead and wounding of citizens and the general terrorising of the local community in Waghete. The actions of the police and military cannot be justified with any reason whatsoever! The tragic killing and wounding of unarmed civilians that occurred fall within the category of serious human rights violations and the culprits must face legal processes and be held responsible (1).

Footnotes

 1)To that end the Writer puts forward the following recommendations to those parties involved:

i) That the TNI and Police in the land of Papua must cease carrying out excessive sweepings and terrorising/ intimidating the people, must cease all torture and other brutal treatment of civilians, all shootings, killings and arbitrary arrests.

ii) That the culprits of the acts at Waghete must be brought to justice in the human rights court or general court to hold them responsible for their actions.

iii) That the Head of the Indonesian Police is strongly urged to immediately remove from office the Head of Police in the Sub-District of Tigi, The Head of the District Police in Paniai and Head of the Papuan Provincial Police. As all three persons have acted irresponsibly and are not capable of ensuring the safety of citizens.

iv) That the Head of the Paniai District Police immediately and unconditionally release all citizens (believed to be 19 in number) who are being arbitrarily detained at the Paniai District Police Station.

v) That the Investigation Team appointed by the Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP) on 25 September 2013 to look into the tragedy in Waghete,  immediately be sent to the location of the events  to commence investigations.

vi) That the Indonesian Republic National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM RI) immediately form an adhoc team to follow up the early findings that will be reported by the independent DPRP Investigation Team.

vii) That all parties and in particular the local government, leaders of the church and  traditional customary leaders in that region, act immediately to restore security and order in Deiyai.

viii) To all those who are concerned and who work in the field of humanitarianism, your help is requested at this immediate time in advocacy, monitoring and publishing of information regarding this case and in organising assistance for those civilians who have been detained at the cells of the Paniai District Police Station.

ix) The excessively abusive sweepings, the terrorising and intimidation, the torture, shootings, killings and arbitrary arrests of indigenous Papuans by both the Indonesian military and police in the land of Papua will never bring an end to the problems in Papua. The Indonesian Government needs to instead enter into dialogue / unconditional negotiations with the nation of Papua facilitated by a neutral third party and held in a neutral location in order to find a dignified solution to the problems in Papua.

Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA & a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee in  Abepura Prison, Jayapura