Tag Archives: Wamena

Catholic Church records many human rights violations in Wamena, Jayawijaya in 2013

From Papua Daily at Tabloid Jubi

January 1, 2014

The meeting between  church figures, police and community leaders (Jubi)
The meeting between church figures, police and community leaders (Jubi)

Wamena, 1/1 (Jubi) – During year 2013 there are many special alerts from community, traditional leaders and religious figures in Jayawijaya about conditions  of social, economics and politics in this district.

Father John Jonga, representative of the Catholic Church recognises the Catholic Church have recorded many violations of human rights during year 2013. Most violations are violations in the form of loss of rights to life, committed by the Armed Forces and the Police.

Father John said economic life has become increasingly difficult, because of economic programs that create dependence on government. Traditional economic life was destroyed as many gardens were abandoned.
“The price of basic necessities are very high and erratic (which is) a heavy burden on local peoples and disrupts the activities of the community.  For example before Christmas, gasoline rose to Rp100,000 (A$9) per litre, “said Father John to reporters at  Pilamo Cafe, Wamena, Tuesday (31/12).

In addition, Father John assessed the quality of health care in hospitals Wamena is still very bad. Local people complained about pharmaceutical quality, expensive price of pharmaceuticals, and even and clean water shortages. Some Public Health Centres even abandoned by health workers, and residents cannot be served.

The  increase in  HIV/AIDS cases was a record of the Catholic Church in Jayawijaya. The quality of education is very low.  Free educational programs do not run. Many schools outside the town of Wamena do not operate, resulting in many children dropping out of school and becoming street children in Wamena.

Julian Hisage, the Chief of Hubula’s, one tribe in Baliem Valley,  hopes that in 2014 the security forces can better appreciate the rights of civil society. Police also must act decisively against the perpetrators of crimes such as murder and suppliers of liquor.

“We also hope government  re-evaluates the programs, particularly the economic programs, so that more people can have economic independence, control the prices of goods and services in the town of Wamena, improve the quality of health care in hospitals and health centres in Wamena including the local health insurance programs, and improve the quality of education, “said Julian Hisage to reporters.

On the other hand, Jayawijaya Police Chief, AKBP. Johnny Eddizon ISIR, S.ik, who facilitated this meeting acknowledged that the input from community, traditional leaders and religious figures in the meeting should become a subject of evaluation for the police in order to better (their actions) in the coming years.

“Police cannot move without holding hands together to prevent conflicts that happen. So in the year 2014 it is expected any existing conflict potential can be prevented,” said Jayawijaya Police Chief. (Jubi/Islami/Victor Mambor)

Edited for clarity by WPM

Indonesian Police surveille activists during the Papuan Cultural Parade, August 15, 2013

Mixed success for Papuan Cultural parades despite pre-emptive arrests across Papua

Special Wrap-up report by West Papua Media, with local sources.

(Apologies for delay in posting as WPM was chasing hi-res photo essays from outlying regions.  This will be a separate item as soon as we get hold of them.)

August 26, 2013

Scores of non-violent activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) were arrested across Papua over the last two weeks, when Indonesian Police carried out pre-emptive sweeps ahead of a day of mobilisation on August 15, a day intended to celebrate Papuan cultural identity and demand rights to free expression be respected.

Organisers across Papua claimed varying degrees of success in holding the cultural parades, hailing the assertion of Papuan cultural identity in the face of a “deliberate campaign of cultural suppression by the Indonesian colonial security forces” as a “moral victory that would show that West Papuan people are not going to die quietly,”  according to sources who spoke with West Papua Media (WPM).

The parades were organised by West Papuan activists on the anniversary of the contentious New York Agreement – that began the process of Indonesian colonisation of Papua – to demonstrate against ongoing the threats to the survival of Papuan culture.  The parades  were also celebrating the opening of the new Free West Papua Campaign office in The Hague in The Netherlands under the coordination of Oridek Ap (the exiled son of executed West Papuan musician and cultural hero Arnold Ap).

Despite Police being widely reported by Indonesian colonial media stating they would allow the parades to go ahead, activists and stringers for WPM reported from across the country of waves of arrests – or detentions as described by Indonesian security forces – and intimidation that prevented several of the parades from occurring.

Nevertheless, the events went ahead in Jayapura, Wamena and Biak, with  much smaller gatherings unconfirmed across the rest of the country.

Papuans villagers  arrested and searched, detained in Aula Fakfak Police for interrogation (photo: Alex Tethool / Jubi / Fakfak)
Papuans villagers arrested and searched, detained in Aula Fakfak Police for interrogation (photo: Alex Tethool / Jubi / Fakfak)

In the west coast town of FakFak, police arrested several dozen people on August 13, according to reports from Tabloid Jubi, and human rights sources.   Jubi reported that officers intercepted two trucks carrying dozens of villagers as they were preparing to attend the Cultural Parade on the 15th.  Police commandeered the trucks to  the police headquarters in Fakfak, detaining and interrogating the villagers – including large numbers of women and children -  in the Police Hall.  Police refused to explain their actions to Papuan media, according to local observers.  Unconfirmed reports from Fakfak say the majority of villagers were released, but the date of their release, or the ability for them to continue their participation in the cultural parades is still unknown.

Jayapura

In Jayapura, KNPB Chairman Agus Kosai was arrested by Police as he and other KNPB members attempted to move a sound system from his village near Sentani (about 12km outside Jayapura) to the gravesite of slain independence hero Theys Eluay in Waena.  KNPB treasurer Toni Kobak and National Spokesperson Wim Medlama were also arrested with 13 other KNPB members.  Police interrogated them but later released them, ordering them home after seizing their banners and equipment.

Refusing to be intimidated, the released KNPB members then ignored the Police directive, made new rally materials and proceeded with the planned Cultural Parades regardless in Jayapura.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thousands of local people turned out in Jayapura to showcase Papua’s vibrant indigenous cultural diversity, reflecting and representing Papuan cultures from every corner of the country.   The day itself had been planned as a deeply symbolic act of cultural resistance through survival, drawing on the actions of slain ethnomusicologist Arnold Ap in a nonviolent assertion of Papuan sovereignty resisting  Indonesian colonisation and control of Papuan lives.

Indonesian Police surveille activists during the Papuan Cultural Parade, August 15, 2013
Indonesian Police surveille activists during the Papuan Cultural Parade, Jayapura, August 15, 2013 (Photo: West Papua Media / YS)

Illustrating this attempt at control, many acts of cultural expression such as banned dances, banned songs, and banned displays of cultural heritage were actively monitored by heavily armed Indonesian Police, however the sheer number of participants prevented further arrests.

Coordinator of the Peace Demonstration Warpo Sampari Wetipo, told the crowd from a stage mounted atop a Kijang car, “we in KNPB are standing with the people of Papua, despite the Indonesian military’s terror by prohibiting any peaceful demonstration and action, we do continue to fight without fear, to demand the right of self-determination for us, the people of West Papua.”

Buchtar Tabuni, West Papua Parliament Chairman, and revolving door political prisoner currently between arrests, reminded the crowd that they were gathered to “Declare to the world that the people of Papua are demanding the recognition of their right of self-determination with fairness and dignity.”  By demonstrating their cultural resistance, Tabuni said that West Papuan people were asserting their identity “as a community of the Melanesian family, that Papuans are not part of the people of Indonesia or Malay.”

Reports from the Jayapura rally suggested that police were initially prepared to utilise force against the participants after they defied the order to go home.  Significant military hardware was deployed, with security forces surrounding the thousands of people gathered at Theys’ gravesite with Armoured personnel carriers, water cannon, tear gas trucks and several Barracuda armoured assault vehicles.

According to reports filed to WPM, activists had prepared unspecified “unique” methods of non-violent de-arresting techniques should the need arise, though it is unclear whether the Indonesian security forces were prepared to respect the nonviolence of the day.

The rally had been tightly safeguarded by KNPB members, who kept the participants separated from security forces and plain clothes special forces personnel with a simple rope line, thus preventing any agents provocateur from provoking police to create a scenario of violence.  in Papua.   Buchtar Tabuni told the crowd at the end of the rally, “the security forces to help secure us, and also I just want to explain that from yesterday until last night we kept guard patrol, to keep track of things that we do not want to happen and also it helps security deposit until the day’s activities, “

In Wamena, KNPB activists reported that police and members of the Indonesian army were also being proactive in prevention of the parades, with banner seizures and an active show of force.  According to local sources, almost the entire KODIM 756 Wim Ane Sili (lit. “House of the Sound of War” in Dani language) Battalion (up to 1000 soldiers) surround the protest field at Sinapuk,

This massive “show force” was responsible for thousands of people being forced to stay away from the Cultural gathering, according to KNPB Wamena spokesperson Mr Mabel.  The gathering was peaceful but was only attended by several hundred people.

In Biak, local members of the KNPB organised a smaller demonstration passing the site of the infamous Biak Massacre, which recently commemorated its 15th anniversary on July 6.  Hundreds of people marched from the old market and Terminal Pasar Darfuar ending up at a traditional meeting house (pendopo adat Sorido), to support the opening of The Hague Free West Papua office.  Apollos Sroyer, Biak KNPB Chairman, told WPM’s correspondent “The parade was also planned as an expression of welcome to the arrival of messengers from the Melanesian Spearhead Groups (MSG) in the near future to West Papua.”

Sroyer also expressed “gratitude to those MSG members who have expressed their support of the right of self-determination of the people of West Papua,” without mentioning the official rejection of the bid for Observer Status for West Papua by the MSG, widely seen as a betrayal of Melanesian solidarity by many across the Pacific.

WestPapuaMedia, with local sources

Brimob officer shoots dead mentally ill teenager in Wamena, beat witnesses

by West Papua Media
August 12, 2013
(Apologies for the delay in posting, due to fact checking)
An Indonesian Brimob police officer has shot dead an unarmed mentally ill Lani youth in Wamena on Thursday, after the youth allegedly verbally ridiculed the passing heavily armed police patrol on Jalan Ahmad Yani, according to witnesses interview by West Papua Media stringers.
Irwan Janengga, also known as Irwan Wenda (18) was shot dead without verbal warning by a Brimob anti-terrorist officer from Ambon, BrikPol Lua Lusman from the Jayawijaya brigade, who was a member of a five-man patrol that encountered Janengga outside the police post, according to witnesses interviewed by human rights activists and our stringers.
According to witnesses with the initials AW and BK,  Janengga taunted the officers with nonsensical words and said, “”The plane has landed so (are) storing the goods,” (referring to corruption in the police).  The five man patrol took offence to this taunting, and several members fired two warning shots from their automatic rifles without a verbal warning.  Janengga took no notice of these warning shots, according to the witnesses, and continued his “crazy talk”.
Peluru di Perut Irwan WendaAs the Brimob officers were preparing to shoot Janengga, the two witnesses shouted to BrikPol Lusman, “Just ignore him, he has  nervous disorders of the brain, do not shoot him!”.  Brikpol Lusman ignored this plea, and opened fire on Janengga, aiming multiple shots directly at the legs, abdomen, head and left hand of victim.  Janengga died instantly according to witnesses.
Immediately after the shooting, the 5 police officers began an unprovoked attack and beatings on the two witnesses, and arrested them with force.  Polisi Tembak Kepala Irwan WendaThey were taken then to the Jayawijaya Police HQ, where the witnesses reported to West Papua Media’s stringer that they were forcefully interrogated by police, allegedly with the aim to manipulate the official witness statements of the shooting incident according to BK and AW.  Upon learning of their detention, the victims families demanded the immediate release of the witnesses a demand with which Police complied by early afternoon on Thursday.

Janengga’s body was then brought by another police unit to the General Hospital in Wamena.
The body of Janengga was retrieved from the hospital by his family late on Thursday afternoon, and brought to his home, where the family conducted mourning ceremonies.  At the time of publication, the victim was still unburied.

Irwan Wenda Tiko Kogoya, the victim’s aunt, told human rights workers after learning of the testimony of two witnesses after the shooting. “Our victim’s family is upset over the shooting of our son.”Tempat Penembakan Irwan Wenda
“Our Boy, he was (with) nervous disorders of the brain, he just simply said ‘why police shoot’,” said Tiko Kogoya.

Tiko continued, “we the victim’s family, ask that the perpetrators should be prosecuted in court, act honestly, and be punished accordingly,” she said.
Footage shot by local witnesses has emerged of the aftermath of the shooting, showing local people outraged at another unprovoked killing by Indonesian forces on unarmed  indigenous Papuan citizens.
 Meanwhile Ogram Wanimbo, an activist with the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Wamena chapter, told our stringer, “The shooting that happened, it is a human rights abuse, since police shot a mentally ill young man because of a nervous breakdown in the brain.. who was sayings word without (being) conscious (of the meaning)”, he said.
Ogram also said “We strongly condemn the perpetrators of the shooting, and we are annoyed by his preaching of the case in local and national media, engineering the chronology of the incident, without interviewing witnesses and families of victims… the fraudulent news does not fit the facts of incident,” he said.
A human rights worker in Wamena told West Papua Media: “This shooting that was done in service of a State mission, that continues to be done, and will be done by the Indonesian invader forces, through military and police in Papua, are unlawful acts under International law, the ICCPR and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (all of) which have been ratified into law of the Republic of Indonesia.”
WestPapuaMedia

 

Thousands flee in fear of heavy civilian casualties as TNI begin Highlands reprisal offensive

Major Reprisals begin with house to house searches, village and church burnings in Tingginambut by Indonesian Security Forces after TPN shoot dead 8 Indonesian special forces soldiers.

from the West Papua Media investigative team*

February 28, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Special Investigative Report

Local communities around Sinak, Gurage, Mulia and Tingginambut in Puncak Jaya regency have felt the first effects of Indonesian military reprisals, after West Papuan independence guerrillas under General Goliat Tabuni confirmed that they had killed eight Indonesian special forces soldiers and four non-Papuan civilians on February 21 in two separate incidents.

The shootings were carried out after Kopassus officers continued to build military posts on a local sacred burial site, despite being requested not to by both community representatives and emissaries from the West Papua National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat  – TPN-PB) under Tabuni.  TPN spokespeople have said that the shootings were done “to assert West Papuan sovereignty against Indonesian colonial occupation”, and to assert West Papuan cultural rights to defend their customary practices against ongoing military brutality.

A spokesman for the Goliat Tabuni’s TPN-OPM command, Nikolas Tabuni, told West Papua Media in a statement that the killings were not without cause.

“Prior to the incident TNI had wanted to make a military post in the region of Tingginambut and the TPN OPM had sent a letter to the TNI asking them not to’ go ahead with the military post construction at Tingginambut.   As that is an area of which the land is formally claimed to be owned by the TPN OPM, and as it is also a sacred area under indigenous customary law of the indigenous community of that area. However TNI disregarded the request (in principle) and continued with the construction. As a result TPN OPM carried out the shooting on 21 February,” the statement read.
Nikolas Tabuni also denied statements from the Indonesian President and Police that the shootings were connected with Indonesian election campaigns in Papua.  “This shooting had absolutely nothing to do with the election of the Bupati (Regency leader) for the region of Ilaga in the Regency of Puncak Jaya in the Province of Papua, and had nothing to do with the general election of the Provincial Governor. The shooting was purely concerned with Papuan independence and the activities of the TNI in West Papua.”

Evidence of collective punishment emerges

Despite an effective information blockade imposed by thousands of Indonesian army (TNI) troops and Police, and unchallenged by a compliant Jakarta-based colonial media, detailed reports are beginning to filter through from independent sources in the area of the military offensive, painting a vastly different picture to that reported by Indonesian and international media since the shooting of the Kopassus soldiers.

TNI_puncak_jaya
TNI soldiers manning checkpoint near Sinak, Puncak Jaya (Photo: jpnn.com/ malanesia.com)

At least 1000 members of various Indonesian security forces are currently occupying and laying siege to entire communities around Puncak Jaya, with thousands more troops being sent in from other centres in Papua, according to local church, human rights, and  sources in contact with West Papua Media stringers across the conflict area.

TNI 753 Btn interrogating locals in Sinak (photo: Malanesia.com)
TNI 753 Btn interrogating locals in Sinak (photo: Malanesia.com)

According to these sources, the villages of Tingginambut, Trugi and Nelekom have been occupied by TNI forces since Sunday February 24, with villagers being forced to give all their food and houses to soldiers, and being subject to arbitrary and harsh interrogations.  TPN sources have also stated that troops are using the villages as strategic hamlets to prepare for a hunt and destroy mission to flush out the forces of Tabuni, who have claimed they are well prepared for guerrilla defence.

In Nambut and Gurake (Gurage) villages in Sinak District, security forces began to carry out house to house sweeping operations on February 26, and in villages in  Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya.  According to our sources, the TNI Commander in the area has commanded “that the sweeping operation is to be continued until the culprits from last Thursdays killings are arrested”.  The TNI have stated to local people they “need to see 11 persons sentenced,” according to the reliable source.

Two civilians were said to be arrested on February 27, according to Indonesian military reports, however independent sources could not confirm if any other civilians have been arrested.

As of February 26, at least 18 houses have been burned to the ground, 5 GIDI churches razed, 2 schools and a library have been destroyed by the combined Police/TNI forces in Tingginambut, according to reliable church sources who have safely relayed data from witnesses to West Papua Media stringers.   Witnesses have also reported that soldiers are deliberately burning and destroying food gardens and shooting livestock, including over one hundred pigs.  There are fears of a major humanitarian disaster unfolding with the reports of the destruction of food gardens and livestock, an act of collective punishment on a civilian population.

Thousands of people from the surrounding villages have fled to the high mountains and according to church sources, the entire community populations have fled throughout the area of Gurake, Sinak, Tinggi Neri, Trugi and Nelekom.  Exact numbers are not currently known but local sources indicate that several thousand people, mainly subsistence farmers, live in the area.

Human rights workers have also reported from Mulia in Puncak Jaya that townspeople are greeting news of the offensive with panic and preparing to flee.

Reports are difficult to verify as the only media personnel allowed into the operations area are those with approval from the Indonesian army, and very few of these journalist have actually ventured into the area.  Stringers for West Papua Media in Puncak Jaya and the Baliem Valley have reported that independent journalists and human rights workers have been prevented from travelling into the area by a de facto Military Operations Area being applied across the entire highlands, including the regional centre of Wamena.

Civilians are staying off the streets as reliable local sources report a massive combat army and police show of force, including house to house searches.  On the morning of February 28, witnesses have reported to West Papua Media stringers that 8 Brimob trucks have left

Troops patrolling Wamena - February 25 (photo: supplied)
Troops patrolling Wamena – February 25 (photo: supplied)

Wamena heading to Puncak Jaya this morning, with large numbers of troops patrolling the streets across Wamena also..

Thousands more troops flooding in to attempt to destroy Tabuni’s TPN.

Thousands of heavily armed combat soldiers from Battalions 751 (Jayapura), 753 (Nabire) , and supported by the Wamena 756 Batallion, are reportedly being flown into Tingginambut over the next few days from several centres across Papua.  They are joining together with over 1000 extra Brimob paramilitary police (in addition to the at least 1000 Polda Papua police already in the highlands), and allegedly several units of the notorious Australian-funded Detachment 88 anti-terror commando, to hunt for Tabuni’s forces.  Several media reports in Indonesia are also claiming a Kostrad (Strategic Reserve) battalion is being deployed from outside Papua, though this has not been independently confirmed.

Local sources have reported that each TNI platoon is accompanied by a platoon of police, as the operation is officially under control of the Police as a “law enforcement” operation.  However, the witnesses have reported that the TNI are clearly in command.   TNI spokespeople in Jakarta have told Indonesian media outlets that there is no plan to increase non-organic troop presence in the area, but local sources are reporting a vastly different story.

West Papua Media sources in Wamena observing the airport have confirmed that two TNI Puma Helicopters are involved in the operation constantly ferrying troops between Wamena and Tingginambut, and stopping only for refuelling and crew changes.  Three Hercules c130H aircraft have each made 3 drops to Wamena then the troops have entered by road from Wamena.   Observers in Nabire have also noted daily departures of three trucks of troops from the notorious Battalion 753 Nabire, to the west of the highlands to reinforce the offensive in Tingginambut.

Human rights and church sources in Puncak Jaya and internationally have expressed deep concern about the potential for heavy civilian casualties to occur with the intensified military campaign, given extra impetus after the Indonesian President, General Susilo Bambang Yudoyhono, called for firm action on Tabuni.

Multiple narratives from Jakarta

The exact circumstances of the deaths of the eight Kopassus special forces soldiers are now mired in claim and counter-claim, with soldiers’ personal accounts of the attack conflicting with the official narrative picked up by Jakarta media.  What is confirmed is that the eight commandos – Sertu (Chief Sergeant) Udine, Sertu Frans, Sertu Romadhon, Pratu (Private 1st class) Mustofa, Sertu Edy, Praka (Chief Private) Jojon, Praka Wempi and Sertu Mudin – were killed by a cascading attack led by guerrillas of Goliat Tabuni’s TPN group as they went to the Sinak airstrip to collect cellular monitoring equipment designed to track international phone communications in the area.

However, one survivor of the attack testified in the Jakarta Post that his group was attacked by men, women and children all carrying spears, machetes and knives.  According to the TNI survivors as relayed to JP, the platoon of Kopassus was unarmed at the time of the attack, which happened as the soldiers were installing and moving communications monitoring equipment.

Troops in Tingginambut after being shot at in helicopter by TPN, Feb 24 (Photo: TNI)
Troops in Tingginambut after being shot at in helicopter by TPN, Feb 21 (Photo: TNI)

TPN forces also opened fire on a Puma helicopter that was evacuating the wounded commandos, lightly injuring three helicopter crew.

West Papua Media sources have provided a highly credible and technical but unconfirmed report that two “very large weapons” that were being moved into Sinak, and went missing during the raid by TPN.  According to our sources, there is “extreme concern from the TNI around this particular issue.”

“Apparently they have been trying to find out the whereabouts of these weapons, which suggests they might be too heavy to quickly and easily move,” explained the source.  Further investigation is still required, but credible observers in the area believe that these heavy weapons may be artillery pieces – the presence of which in Puncak Jaya represents a serious and dangerous escalation of TNI hardware to be used against civilians.  West Papua Media believes any confirmed presence of artillery is connected with the TNI’s stated aim to destroy Goliat Tabuni’s group, but any use of these weapons will place a large number of civilians at risk.  It is not the first time the TNI have used artillery against West Papuan civilians: the Bloody Wamena massacres of 2000 and 2003, as well as the aerial bombardment campaigns in the 1977 and 1984.

Indonesian outrage fuels civil society questions on Papuan motivations for resistance

The killings of the soldiers have generated outrage in Jakarta, with nationalist politicians calling for cordon and destroy missions in what human rights observers have said amount to collective civilian punishment by an occupying force.

Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin – indicted as a war criminal

Indonesian Deputy Defence Minister Lieutenant-General (LG) (Rtd) Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin - indicted as a war criminal by the UN for his role in East Timor - on Friday ordered the TNI to conduct heavy “tactical actions” in order to prevent the shooting from occurring again.  “The tactical action includes to chase, apprehend and destroy,” the deputy minister said here on Friday.  He said the latest shootings by the separatist rebels did not affect TNI`s strategic policies in Papua. TNI so far did not have a plan to send more troops to Papua, he added.

However SBY also claimed in an interview with MetroTV that “no violence” would be used to solve the situation.  The situation on the ground has illustrated that security forces have no interest in making SBY’s words truthful.

Despite  the nationalist rhetoric, there are many in Indonesia who are seeing this as a wake up call to end Jakarta’s use of state violence against civilians in Papua as it default policy.

The Indonesian Regional Representatives Council, or DPD, called for a necessary cessation of military operations to end the prolonged violence in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces, according to a report in the Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

The presence of the non-organic personnel from TNI special forces cause animosity among Papuan groups, who have launched attacks against them, according to the report.  “If Jakarta wants to end violence, the militaristic approach has to stop, and all non-garrison troops from the military elite forces must be withdrawn from the two provinces because their presence and their irregular operations have triggered attacks on garrison troops and innocent civilians,” DPD deputy chairman Laode Ida said on Tuesday.

A coalition of Papuan human rights groups urged the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to conduct a thorough investigation into the soldiers’ killings, saying the presence of Komnas HAM could prevent human rights violations that occurred during TNI sweep operations after shooting incidents, according to a report in the Jakarta Globe.

“We encourage law enforcers to be professional in carrying out their tasks. They must ensure that their attempts to find the perpetrators do not turn into seeking revenge against all Papuans,” Ferry Marisan from the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam) said in Jayapura on Monday.

The TNI has loudly complained in Indonesian media of hurt feelings about the loss of its soldiers, with the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) leaders have been forced to apologise for “insensitive” remarks saying killing soldiers is not a human rights abuse.   But not all observers are showing sympathy for the loss of the soldiers lives, pointing to the fact that the military are occupying Papuan land against the wishes of the local people.

“One has to remember that soldiers who were shot were Kopassus special forces who have been involved in ongoing human rights abuses right across Puncak Jaya, including village burnings, collective arrests and punishment, burning of villages, and acts of torture.  Many observers suspect these soldiers were part of units involved in conducting many OTK (Unknown persons) shootings blamed on West Papuans,” a long time human rights worker in the highlands told West Papua Media by email.  “These are not innocence, nor babes in the woods; Kopassus are the original wolves in the forest.”

Still, other observers believe the actions point to an assertion of tribal identity, as a complex motivator behind the declaration of Papuan sovereignty inherent in the armed resistance against Indonesia’s militarist policy in the highlands.  An Australian church worker who worked for many years with highland communities in Puncak Jaya made the observation to West Papua Media that this was not simply an act of resistance to Indonesian colonisation, but an assertion of traditional and indigenous Papuan law and cultural survival against the onslaught of an occupying colonial army.

“This must be looked at from another perspective that is relevant.  As many indigenous communities including Australian Aboriginal Peoples and traditional highland Papuan people, observe around the world, if outsiders came into their sacred lands, they would also feel compelled at whatever cost to themselves to spear the outsider to compensate (violations of) their traditional law if they belonged to the clan that was legally responsible (under customary law) to guard that site,”  she explained.

“Indigenous Law is simply not negotiable on things like that. Things have only changed in Australia because non-Indigenous systems have for years now in Australia been locking up those indigenous peoples who have acted to maintain their law,” the former church worker explained.

“As I understand the TNI despite warnings were acting in a way that broke the Papuans’ traditional laws regarding adat (Customary law), and as the TPN are still holding strong to their traditional laws, so they acted in accordance with the laws they are living by. I can’t see any difference at that level as Melanesian peoples separated historically but only a short distance of water. The difference is that the TPN OPM represent groups that have not yet been overcome by the laws of a colonising power whereas RI does not recognise the traditional Papuan customary laws,” she said

A prominent Papuan human rights activist, Yasons Sambon, has reported that the killings are causing many military families to reconsider  their support for the Indonesian colonial occupation of Papua.  In an interview with the wife of one of the eight soldiers killed at Sinak, recorded on February 23 after the soldiers funeral in a car by the old market in Sentani, the widow called for Indonesia to abandon its occupation of Papua.

Funeral of Sentani based Kopassus officer killed in SInak incident, Feb 24. (supplied)
Funeral of Sentani based Kopassus officer killed in SInak incident, Feb 24. (supplied)

The wife of an Indonesian soldier from Sentani said in a regretful tone, “SBY would be better off giving independence to the people of Papua if it meant our husbands wouldn’t become victims. Our husbands have been murdered. What will be my fate, and the fate of my children, now that my husband has been murdered? We want to hold onto our husbands but they also have a duty to the country. They are murdered and it’s the women and children who become victims, because if they aren’t at work, then what will we eat?”

“It’s better if independence is given to the people of Papua so that we can be safe,” she said.

*from the West Papua Media Editorial team, with additional reporting from stringers in Wamena, Tingginambut, Jayapura, Nabire and sources in Jakarta.

Gustaf Kawer: Legal team ready to assist KNPB Baliem leader Simeon Dabi

Tabloid Jubi

by Benny Mawel

January 6, 2013

Jayapura (6/1)- The Family of Simeon Dabi, Baliem Valley Chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), made complaints about the absence of a lawyer to assist Simeon, (a call which was responded to) by the Coalition for Enforcement of Democracy for Papua, Gustaf Kawer.  Kawer said the team was now ready to assist the hearing of Simeon Dabi.  (However) the readiness of the Coalition team for democracy can not be (automatically) realised because of  funding constraints, according to Gustaf,

Lawyer Gustaf Kawer

“Since the beginning we have shown the will to assist them (every trial of a KNPB activist) The problem is that we do not have operational funds for Wamena, “said Gustaf in response of complaints by Simeon Dabi’s family about detention proses, dossier creation and submission of the detainees from police custody to the prosecutor without a lawyer, Thursday (2/1).

Meanwhile, another lawyer, Olga Hamadi said she had not been contacted in the case of assisting  Simeon during the hearing.  However, according to Olga, they are ready to assist if the family  contacted  them. “I have not been contacted about it by the family. Later, when contacted, surely I will respond, ” said Olga Hamadi, human rights lawyer and Coordinator of Kontras Papua.

Previously, the family is hoping that the central executive of KNPB could help  finding a lawyer who will assist Simeon. “We hope Simeon’s friends in Jayapura can help find a lawyer,” Simeon’s family said.

KNPB central executive members admitted that they already tried to contact a lawyer who will assist Simeon.  The contacted lawyer is ready to go to Wamena. “We act at a level of coordination with the lawyer.  The lawyers Gustaf Kawer and Olga Hamadi are ready to go to Wamena,” KNPB central spokesman, Rocky Wim Medlama, said to tabloidjubi.com, Thursday (3/1)

However, according to Rocky Medlama, there are parties who restrict them. “The lawyer is ready to leave for Wamena but there are parties who make problems about this,” Wim said on Wednesday (3/1).

Neither Gustaf nor Olga commented on this.

(Translated and edited for clarity by West Papua Media team)