Monthly Archives: December 2010

President of Senegal – “West Papua is now an issue for all black Africans”

The President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade,  has become the first African leader to publicly back West Papua‘s bid for independence, stating that ‘West Papua is now an issue for all black Africans’.

His comments came last week during a conference in Senegal’s capital Dakar, attended by Benny Wenda, a West Papua independence leader who was granted political asylum by the British Government in 2003.

Benny Wenda addressed the audience, telling them about the situation in West Papua and his own struggle to bring independence to his homeland.
Following his address he presented the President with a Papuan headdress, and was warmly embraced by him. The President then addressed the audience, urging all African nations to take attention to the West Papua issue and do whatever they can to help.

Senegal is a country south of the Sénégal River in western Africa with a population of over 15 million. The current President was re-elected to power in 2007.

Wikileaks – Indonesian intelligence official organised assassination of human rights activist

Article from Human Rights First

Among the handful of bombshells one can find in the cables that went back and forth between the U.S. State Department and embassy staff in Jakarta is this: the U.S. is apparently aware of evidence linking a high level Indonesian security official to the assassination of Munir Said Thalib, one of Indonesia’s most outspoken human rights activists.

Munir was poisoned in 2004 as he flew from Jakarta to Amsterdam. While a handful of people thought to be responsible for the murder have been charged in his death, the “masterminds” – as the cables refer to them – of the assassination are not in prison.

According to reports about the cables, recently released by Wikileaks, Indonesian police have a witness who claims that, “former [Indonesian Intelligence] chief Hendropriyono chaired two meetings at which Munir’s assassination was planned.” A witness at those meetings told Indonesian police that “only the time and method of the murder changed from the plans he heard discussed; original plans were to kill Munir in his office.”

But as the cables make clear, the witness – like others with first-hand knowledge of the killing – is unwilling to testify in the case because he fears for his safety.

”A breakthrough on who ordered the murder would presumably require someone with inside information to take an extraordinary risk in testifying, and would require protection,” the cables say. “Nonetheless, the police seem to have been given orders to show progress on the case, likely due to international attention.”

Separate cables also detail the backroom discussions that led to the recent resumption of U.S. military assistance to Kopassus, the Indonesian special forces who are alleged to have committed serious human rights violations in Aceh, Papua, East Timor, Jakarta and elsewhere.

The cables lay out an argument for re-engaging with the special ops community despite their rights record, by suggesting that closer military ties would encourage further reform of Indonesia’s military. The cables also report that Indonesian officials threatened to derail President Obama’s November, 2010 visit to Indonesia if the ties to Kopassus were not renewed. (Indonesian officials vehemently deny that this threat was ever made.)

But taken as a complete body of work, the cables make clear that Washington is keen to make more friends than enemies in Jakarta. State Department officials devote the majority of their key strokes to considerations such as:  “U.S. economic interests” in a country that has grown the largest economy in Southeast Asia; “counter-terrorism cooperation” in a country where Islamic extremists have found refuge and carried out attacks; and the relationship between Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Chinese, who are also investing heavily in their ties to Indonesia.

All this suggests that activists who want to see accountability for Munir’s death are going to have to continue to pressure officials in Jakarta and Washington for further action on the case. Now that there is public evidence that the Indonesians (and the Americans) are aware of evidence against Hendropriyono, it has become even harder for officials to close the books on this tragic killing.

Wikileaks revelation – Indonesia threatened to derail a visit to Jakarta by President Barack Obama unless he overturned Kopassus ban

article in the Sydney Morning Herald – reprinted for media information only

NDONESIA threatened to derail a visit to Jakarta by President Barack Obama this year unless he overturned the US ban on training the controversial Kopassus army special forces.

Leaked US State Department cables reveal that the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, privately told the Americans that continuing the ban – introduced in 1999 because of Kopassus’s appalling human rights record – was the ”litmus test of the bilateral relationship” between the US and Indonesia.

Six months later the US agreed to resume ties with Kopassus, despite fierce criticism from some human rights groups and American politicians about Jakarta’s failure to hold officers to account for their role in atrocities.

The cables, made available exclusively to the Herald by WikiLeaks, detail US concerns about Indonesia’s failure to prosecute the military personnel responsible for murder and torture during the conflicts in East Timor and Aceh.

But they also reveal that US diplomats in Jakarta believed that Dr Yudhoyono’s demands should be met to ensure that Indonesia’s military and security services would protect US interests in the region, including co-operation in the fight against terrorism. It was also argued that closer military ties would encourage further reform of Indonesia’s military.

The Indonesian leader’s call to lift the Kopassus training ban is described in a January cable from the US embassy in Jakarta.

”President Yudhoyono (SBY) and other senior Indonesian officials have made it clear to us that SBY views the issue of Army Special Forces (KOPASSUS) training as a litmus test of the bilateral relationship and that he believes the … visit of President Obama will not be successful unless this issue is resolved in advance of the visit.”

The US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, said in July that the US needed to renew links with Kopassus ”as a result of Indonesian military reforms over the past decade, the ongoing professionalisation of the TNI [army], and recent actions taken by the Ministry of Defence to address human rights issues”.

An expert on the Indonesian military, the Australian Defence Force Academy associate professor Clinton Fernandes, said the cables appeared to show that members of Congress such as Patrick Leahy – author of the 1999 ban on training with Kopassus – ”have not been told the real reason for Mr Obama’s decision, which was to provide photo opportunities for the President”.

”The decision to renew links shows contempt not only to the victims of gross human rights violations but to members of the US Congress,” Professor Fernandes said.

US diplomatic cables from the past four years reveal that Jakarta’s intense lobbying to lift the Kopassus ban was largely supported by the US embassy in

Jakarta, which cited the Australian military’s ties with Kopassus as a reason to lift the ban. An April 2007 cable says that ”our Australian counterparts often encourage us to resume training for Kopassus”.

But numerous cables also detail serious US concerns about resuming ties. In October 2007, the embassy told Washington that ”Indonesia has not prosecuted past human rights violations in any consistent manner.

”While we need to keep Indonesia mindful of the consequences of inaction on TNI accountability, Indonesia is unlikely to abandon its approach. We need therefore to encourage the Indonesian government to take alternative steps to demonstrate accountability.”

Another 2007 cable details US concern about the appearance at a Kopassus anniversary celebration of Tommy Suharto, the notorious son of the former president who served several years in prison for arranging the killing of a judge who convicted him of fraud.

In May 2008 the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, was briefed by US diplomats that ”the key impediment to expanded engagement remains the failure of the GOI [Indonesia] to press for accountability for past human rights abuses by security forces”.

The cable welcomes Indonesia’s continuing military reforms but noted they were not ”the same as putting generals behind bars for past human rights abuses”.

Last last year, about six months before the US lifted its Kopassus ban, a senior US official, Bill Burns, told Indonesian counterparts that ”engagement with Kopassus continued to be a difficult and complex issue, particularly as there remained many in Washington, including in Congress, with serious concerns about accountability for past Kopassus actions”.

But the US cables also reveal the Jakarta embassy’s efforts to water down the background screening that Indonesian military officers must undergo if they undertake training in the US.

The US embassy is also revealed in another cable as heavily playing down a report by Human Rights Watch last year that alleged Kopassus soldiers had committed recent human rights abuses in Papua. The embassy calls the report unbalanced and unconfirmed and says the abuses detailed do not appear to ”meet the standard of gross violation of human rights”.

Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni to face charges ‘for damaging public property’

According to Bintang Papua, 14 December 2010, two well known Papuan political prisoners are to face charges for alleged incitement and causing damage to the Abepura Prison.

The two men, Filep Karma who is serving a 15-year sentence, and Buchtar Tabuni who is serving a three-year sentence, were transferred from Abepura Prison to the custody of the police in Papua on 3 December. Three other prisoners who were charged under the criminal code were also transferred, Domminggus Pulalo who is serving two years, Alex Elopere who is serving three years and Lopes Karubaba who is serving two years.According to the chief of public relations of the police in Papua, Commissioner  Wachyono, they will face a series of charges under Articles 170 and 160 for incitement for which they face sentences of up to seven years.

‘Let no one run away with the idea that they are immune to the law, including these six (sic) men just because they are already serving sentences,’ said Wachyono.

Wachyono said that they were now being held in cells at the police command for security reasons. ‘If they were held at the district police command (Polsek), anything undesirable could happen, especially bearing in mind that many groups in society are not happy about the men being incarcerated.’

Referring to reports that relatives of the prisoners have been prohibited from visiting the men as well as members of the central KomnasHAM, Wachyono insisted that this was untrue. ‘There are no restrictions against anyone visiting them, as long as they comply with visiting hour procedures. People should not come when the men are resting,’ he said.

[According to information from relatives of Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni, from the time of their transfer to police custody on 3 December until the present, visiting has been denied.]

As already reported, those now being charged started inflicting damage  after hearing that a co-prisoner, Wiron Wetipo who had escaped from the prison was shot dead by a joint patrol of the army and the police after they had raided a house in Tanah Hitam suspected of being the headquarters of the TPN/OPM. After learning of Wiron’s death, the prisoners started causing damage and inciting other prisoners to resist the prison authorities.

[According to information from colleagues of Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni, the contrary is true. The two men, in particular Karma tried to mediate with the prisoners, urging them not to riot or cause any damage. TAPOL]

Civil Society Coalition: Reflections on Human Rights in the Papuan Special Autonomy era

Press Release issued by the Coalition of Civil Society to Uphold Human Rights in the Land of Papua

Special Autonomy – OTSUS – came into being at a time of struggle when the Papuan people had become the objects of development, resulting in  many incidents of violence and human rights violations over many years. This was acknowledged in the introductory paragraphs of the OTSUS law and Articles 45- 47 of OTSUS,   in which the State acknowledged that mistakes had been made. There were hopes that an era of truth would emerge by means of creating peace and the right to life for the people of Papua. At the same time, however, there were groups who were against the enactment of OTSUS.

After being in force for nine years, these hopes have not been realised in accordance with expectations. There have been a numebr of  very serious  cases, such as Warior, Wamenda, Puncak Jaya, Tingginambu, Serui, Abepura and UNCEN, Mamberamo, Nabire, Manokwari and the arrest of a number of pro-democracy activists, the most recent of which being threats against journalists that have occurred with increasing intensity during the course of 2010. During 2010, there were at least five acts of violence against journalists . In July 2010, Ardiansyah Matrais who worked for Merauke TV and the JUBI tabloid was found dead after having received threats and being followed in Keerom, a typical example of cases that have occurred during the OTSUS era.

None of these cases have been properly resolved by legal procedures as required by the law, meaning that the people of Papua have no sense that the perpetrators have been brought to justice by the State.

The situation had been made even worse because the civil authorities in Papua have created the impression that they exert no authority or are too weak to handle cases of human rights violations. None of the civil authorities, the DPRP, the MRP or the Governor, have raised their voices or offered to mediate with institutions in power  whenever violence has been  experienced by civil society, meaning that there has been a virtual absence of control by the civil authorities. Even worse is the fact that the human rights agendas of OTSUS have been completely neglected and have been given no place whatever in the policy of development in Papua.

We members of the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations feel deeply concerned at and mourn the death of the enforcement of human rights and peace in the Land of Papua. We therefore propose the following to all those who have an interest in the Land of Papua.

1.  The Central Government

Should promotee and foster dialogue between Papua and Jakarta for a compehensive solution to all the problems in Papua that have occurred since Papua was integrated into the Republic of Indonesia/NKRI because OTSUS has been incapable of becoming the final solution in restoring relations between Jakarta and Papua.

The central government should, starting now, change its view  of Papua as an  area of conflict because such an attitude  can only cause continuing political crises in Papua because of the security approach and the use of the law. Experience has shown that such an approach has failed to end resistance  by the Papuan people, even causing the emergence of new Papuan movements.

End all forms of stigmatisation of the Papuan people because this is deeply humiliating for the Papuan people who have ceased to have any confidence in development undertaken by the central government in Papua.

Evaluate and reconsider that policy of dispatching non-organic troops to Papua because  many cases have occurred as a result of the presence of these troops and have resulted in new problems within society, while revealing a lack of sensitivity for the local values of the people.

The government should make public the size of the defence budget for the deployment of troops to Papua because these funds are extracted from the state budget, while the public in Papua, especially the Papuan people, should know what are the objectives of all this, how many personnel are involved, the locations where they are deployed and the amount of the funds being used for all this during the course of a single year.

To enhance human rights policies that take sides with the victims in the Land of Papua. This is because there is the erroneous view that the problems in Papua are only about the economy. As long as the central government persists in holding this view, disturbances will continue to occur in Papua.

The police force must act professionally in the performance of their duties and not discriminate against the Papuan people when they uphold their basic rights as citizens, while at the same time striving to restore confidence in the police.

Treat all prisoners in accordance with the procedures in force and the rule of law, so as to safeguard dignity and humanitarianism while steering clear of all arbitrary treatment, in particular ending the practice of torture.

The use of military courts as has recently occurred in Jayapura is proof that these military tribunals are incapable of creating a sense of justice for the victims and among  the public and are far removed from the basic human rights standards adopted by the Indonesian Government with its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by the adoption of law 5/1998 which established the basis for fair trials.

2. The Government of Papua.

It should never forget or neglect  the human rights agenda in policies pursued in the Land of Papua, because up until now, more  emphasis has been placed on the economy and welfare. There must be a balance between these two agendas.

Treat all prisoners in accordance with the rule of law, guaranteeing people’s sense of dignity and humanitarianism  and avoid all arbitrary actions, in particular the practice of torture.

The Governor, the DPRP and the MRP  should coordinate with each other and respond quickly to cases of violence  and human rights violations in the Land of Papua. The absence of such an attitude  is proof that these civil institutions have no commitment to upholding human rights in Papua and will only intensify public mistrust of these institutions in the eyes of the Papuan people.

All programmes regarding the economy and welfare should be gender specific  and take the side of the victims of human rights violations, in particular taking due regard for the education and health of the victims and their families including the granting of reparations.

To immediately set up a team to draft a special regulation  (Perdasus) for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Human Rights Court as provided for in OTSUS, bearing in mind that these matters have not been dealt with during the nine years since OTSUS was enacted, and have been forgotten altogether.

Jayapura, 9 December 2010