West Papua Report July 2011

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This is the 87th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.SummaryU.S. Congressmember Eni Faleomavaega has been named the 2011 winner of the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award. The award is given annually by the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) to an individual or organization who has made significant contributions to the defense of human rights in West Papua. Congressmember Faleomavaega has long been active in the defense of human rights in West Papua, using his influential position in the U.S. House of Representatives to advance justice, good governance and development in West Papua. Thousands of workers at the Freeport McMoran mining complex in West Papua have gone on strike over wages, the firing of the union’s leaders, and other Freeport union-busting efforts. The strike takes place at a time of continued security concerns arising in part from the recent murder of two senior Papuan Freeport officials, possibly with military involvement. Papuan human rights organizations and religious groups have called on the Government of Indonesia to address issues of injustice arising from security force assaults on Papuans and also to protect human rights defenders and journalists from attacks by security forces. An Indonesian government minister’s visit to West Papua signals that a widely criticized development plan in the Merauke area is moving forward. Tapol notes that there has been no indication that Papuans whose lands will be seized for the project will be compensated. Amnesty International has appealed on behalf of a Papuan who was beaten by military personnel. Melanesian human rights and youth groups have issued an appeal on behalf of five Papuan youths detained since December 2010 for their roles in a peaceful protest. The Australian West Papua Association (AWPA) has called for Pacific Island Forum leaders to include the plight of West Papua on the agenda for their September 2011 meeting. The AWPA message also offers a harsh critique of Jakarta’s “special autonomy” policy.


Congressman Eni Faleomavaega Is Awarded “John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award”

The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) is pleased to announce that it is awarding the 2011 “John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award” to the Honorable Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-AS), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressmember Faleomavaega has been an articulate and effective advocate for the defense of human rights in West Papua, and has long worked for a peaceful resolution of the serious problems confronting Papuans.

His extensive knowledge regarding West Papua and his manifest sincerity and good will have enabled him to draw on the respect accorded him by his Congressional colleagues and members of successive Administrations to alert them and the U.S. public more broadly to justice, good governance and development concerns in West Papua.

On September 22, 2010, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, Congressmember Faleomavaega convened the first hearing in the history of the U.S. Congress to include testimony from West Papua’s traditional and religious leaders. The hearing, Crimes Against Humanity: When Will Indonesia’s Military Be Held Accountable for Deliberate and Systematic Abuses in West Papua, also included testimony from scholars and administration officials from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense.

Driven by a sense of personal responsibility to carry forward the work of his Samoan relatives who are buried in West Papua and in honor of all those who have lived the struggle, Congressmember Faleomavaega continues to do all he can to hold the Indonesian government accountable so that a better way forward may be found for and on behalf of the people of West Papua.

Past recipients of the award include Carmel Budiardjo (UK) and TAPOL (2008); John M. Miller (U.S.) and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) (2009), and Andreas Harsono (Indonesia) of Human Rights Watch (2010).

The award includes a plaque and a financial prize which Congressmember Faleomavaega has directed be donated to a charity selected by him. The award is named in honor of Papuan John Rumbiak, a renowned champion of human rights and founder of WPAT.

Labor Actions Could Shut Down Operations at Freeport

According to sources in Timika and media accounts over 13,000 workers at the giant Freeport McMoran copper and gold mining complex have gone on strike. The labor action threatens to shut down operations at the problem-plagued facility. Workers of the SPSI (Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia) PT Freeport Indonesia left the Tembagapura mine site and headed to the town of Timika over 40 kms from the mine. More than 20 buses transported striking miners from the site while others marched to Timika. Marchers from Tembagapura were at one point blocked from proceeding by police.

Workers are protesting over salary issues but have also raised security concerns. The murder of two prominent Papuan Freeport management level personnel on April 7, has raised tensions in the area (see WPAT’s West Papua Report June 2011.) The Straits Times’ John McBeth reported that two military personnel have been questioned after one of them was discovered to be in possession of a cell phone belonging to one of the murdered men.

Workers are also protesting Freeport McMoran’s termination of the union’s leaders and are reportedly angry about Freeport McMoran’s formation of a company union which they regard as an attempt to “bust” their legitimate union.

As of July 4, reports from Timika indicate that the protests have been peaceful although workers are constructing barricades in some areas.

Papuan Organizations Seek Justice for Past Security Force Assaults on Papuans, Demand Government Protection for Human Rights Defenders

In recent weeks, highly regarded West Papuan non-governmental and religious organizations have spoken out forcefully regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in the territory. In two separate statements, the organizations decried the failure of the Indonesian government to ensure justice for or protect Papuans who have been the victims of security force brutality, including extra-judicial killing, torture, abduction and imprisonment. The organizations have also called for protection of human rights defenders. The continuing violation of human rights starkly demonstrates the limits of ‘democratization’ in Indonesia.

In a June 14 press conference, two human rights NGOs, BUK (United for Truth) and KontraS-Papua (Commission for the Disappeared and the Victims of Violence), underscored the failure of the Indonesian justice system to address endemic violation of human rights by the military and police. Some cases have languished for over a decade they said and years of inaction by the Indonesian government regarding these cases have compelled them to appeal to “international mechanisms” to ensure that the Indonesian government brings these incidents before a court of law.

The NGOs described the consistent failure of justice in West Papua:

“With regard to the human rights violations that have been perpetrated in Papua at the hands of members of the Indonesian army (TNI) and the Indonesian police (POLRI), in all these cases, it has been virtually impossible to bring them before a court of law. In the case of those incidents that were actually taken to court, nothing was done to side with the victims; the perpetrators were protected with the argument that what had been done was in the interest of the security of the state.”

The NGOs made specific reference to particularly egregious incidents in which Papuans were killed, brutally tortured or disappeared. These include the Waisor and Wamena incidents, a police rampage in Abepura, and repeated military “sweeping operations” in West Papua’s central highlands in which civilians were driven from their homes into nearby forests where many died from a lack of food, shelter and access to medical care. The NGOs also detailed policies and practices which subject “many Papuans to discrimination, intimidation and extra-judicial punishment based” on groundless charges by government agencies that these Papuans or their family members are “separatists.”

The two NGOs issued the following demands:

1. The President of Indonesia should immediately resolve the Wasior and Wamena cases and in doing so recognize the fact that Papuans are citizens of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia, NKRI, which means that their standing and dignity within the state is in keeping with the values of the Papuan people as citizens of Indonesia.

2. The attorney-general’s office should end its machinations with regard to the Wasior and Wamena cases and co-ordinate with other state institutions and in so doing halt their activities which have resulted in reinforcing the cycle of impunity.3. The administration of the province of Papua, along with the DPRP (Provincial Legislature of Papua), KomnasHAM-Papua and the MRP (The Papuan Peoples Council) should act together as quickly as possible to ensure that the Wasior and Wamena incidents are brought before a human rights court in the Land of Papua.4. A Papuan human rights court should be set up immediately.5. If the government fails to deal seriously with the Wasior and Wamena cases, we, as representatives of all the victims of human rights violations in the Land of Papua, will bring these matters before an international court of law.In a separate June 17 press conference, the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in the Land of Papua, consisting of leading human rights and religious organizations, spoke out against “acts of violence and terror that have been perpetrated against human rights defenders as well as against journalists.”

The coalition consists of KomnasHAM-Papua, the Synod of the Kingmi Church in Papua, the Synod of the Baptist Church in Papua, Foker NGO (NGO Working Group) Papua, KontraS Papua, LBH – Legal Aid Institute in Papua, and BUK. The groups were especially critical of the Indonesian military whose members were involved in five recent incidents of violence against Papuan civilians and whose actions they noted, contradict claims that the Indonesian military is reforming.

The Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in the Land of Papua statement called for the following:

1. Protection is needed for human rights defenders in Papua in carrying out their humanitarian activities throughout the Land of Papua. Such protection can be provided by the introduction of a special law, while at the same time setting up an independent commission at state level for the purpose of monitoring and advocacy as well as taking sanctions against those individuals who commit violence against human rights defenders.
2. As a short-term measure, we regard it as important to set up a special bureau within KomnasHAM to focus on the protection of human rights defenders.
3. In view the many acts of intimidation and violence perpetrated by members of the armed forces, we urge the military commander of Cenderawasih XVII military command (in West Papua) to take firm measures in the law courts and administration against all violations perpetrated by members of the TNI on the ground.
4. To provide moral guidance to all officers of the armed forces as well as disseminate an understanding of human rights so as to ensure that acts of violence perpetrated by members of the armed forces are not committed against civil society or against human rights defenders in the Land of Papua.

Plans for Massive Land Grab Move Forward in Merauke

The June 27 issue of the Papuan daily Jubi reports that Marie Pangestu, Minister of Industry and Trade, on a visit to the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), has claimed that the customary rights of the local community should be dealt with first, by issuing certificates, in connection with the MIFEE project.” Pangestu also indicated that the project is moving forward: “Companies planning to invest can now go ahead to acquire the necessary licenses and start planting their crops.” He said that it was “now necessary to build the necessary infrastructure, in particular harbors to support the project once it gets underway.” For instance, he said, investors who intend to establish palm oil plantations will need harbors of their own.

TAPOL commented on the plan to issue “certificates” to those Papuans who will be displaced by the project:

“The central government will clearly be investing huge sums of money to promote the interests of companies planning to invest in MIFEE. Not at all clear what is meant by issuing certificates to the local communities whose customary rights to the land will be sacrificed as investors are invited to grab their land with little regard for the loss of their livelihoods based on hunting and fishing. No mention either about whether the rightful owners of the land will be granted any compensation for the loss of their land and the destruction of their livelihoods.”

Amnesty International Issues Alert Regarding Military Beating of Human Rights Activist

Amnesty International (AI) on June 17 issued a special alert on the beating of a human rights activist by military officer a few days earlier. According to Amnesty, Yones Douw was beaten by military officers and then denied medical treatment.

AI noted that Douw fears for his health and safety, based in part on the fact that he was previously detained and assaulted as a result of his human rights activities. Douw was part of a protest that took place at the 1705 District Military Command (Kodim) base in Nabire, Papua province, on the morning of 15 June. The protest focused on accountability for the stabbing and killing of Papuan Derek Adii on 14 May 2011, reportedly by military officers from the command (see West Papua Report June 2011).

According to AI, some of the demonstrators attacked the military center prompting Douw to go to the base to calm the protesters. (WPAT Note: It is not clear whether those attacking the center were demonstrators or possibly provocateurs organized by the authorities. According to the AI report, the violent “demonstrators” arrived in three trucks after the demonstration was underway.) Responding to the assault, the military fired shots into the air and started beating the protesters. Douw was struck on the head many times and also sustained injuries on his shoulder and wrists from the beatings. As he was beaten, he heard the military threaten to shoot the protesters saying “these animals should be taught a lesson.” A military officer also hit the father of Derek Adii, Damas Adii. After the beatings, Douw travelled to the Siriwini hospital for treatment and to obtain a medical report, but was told by medical staff that he required a letter from the police before they could treat him. He then decided to go home and is still suffering from the injuries.

Amnesty notes that Yones is a respected human rights activist in Papua and has been documenting human rights violations by the police and military over the last decade.

Amnesty International called for messages to Indonesian officials that:

  • Urging the authorities to take immediate action to ensure the safety of Yones Douw, in accordance with his wishes, and ensure his immediate access to medical care;
  • Calling for an immediate, effective and impartial investigation into the beatings and the threats against Yones Douw, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice in fair trials;
  • Calling on the authorities to initiate an independent investigation into the possible unlawful killing of Derek Adii, and ensure that, should the allegations be verified, those responsible be brought to justice in fair trials and the victims receive reparations; and
  • Calling on the authorities to ensure that all members of the police and military are made aware of the legitimate role of human rights defenders and their responsibility to protect them, as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

A Plea From Melanesians On Behalf of Detained West Papuan Students

In a demonstration of the growing concern among across Oceania regarding the plight of the Melanesian Papuan people, a group of youth and human rights organizations in Melanesia, based in Fiji, wrote an “ open letter” to the “government of Indonesia, Indonesian Youth Activists, Indonesian Human Rights Defenders and Organizations, and the People of West Papua.”

The letter expressed concern about the imprisonment and secret court proceedings surrounding the arrest of five young activists arrested last December 14 for raising the West Papua Liberation flag during peaceful demonstration by approximately 200 people in Manokwari. When the Papuan flag was raised, Indonesian military attacked the crowd, firing shots and beating people with batons. The five young Papuans, and two others, were arrested at that time.

The five are charged under the notorious “subversion” and “rebellion” articles (106 and 110) of the Indonesian Criminal Code which date to the Dutch colonial era. The articles were key tools for repression during the Suharto dictatorship.

The Melanesian groups noted that the health and safety of these five young Papuan activists was a concern as was media censorship and intimidation of witnesses related to the incident. They also said that there was a heightened sense of fear fueled by the continued presence of a 1000 plus military presence that were ordered into the area after the incident.

The Melanesian organizations urged intervention to “ensure the release of the five youth activists and to make a public commitment that there will be no further arrests of individuals purely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, opinion, belief or association.” Specifically, the letter added, “we seek to ensure that laws concerning ‘rebellion’ (Articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code) are not used against people who have engaged only in peaceful activities.”

Emphasizing that the groups “do not seek to advocate a particular position on the political status of West Papua,” they nonetheless asserted their belief that “the right to freedom of expression includes the right to peacefully advocate referenda, independence or other political solutions under a free media.”

“These rights must be upheld and respected,” the letter concluded.

AWPA Calls for Pacific Islands Forum to Discuss West Papua; Criticizes “Special Autonomy”

The Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) has written to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders urging them to discuss the human rights situation in West Papua at their summit in Auckland in September.

In a June 30 letter, AWPA asserts, “the time is now right to bring the Melanesian people of West Papua back into the Pacific community. (A West Papuan representative attended the first SPC Conference, and West Papuans continued to participate in the SPC meetings up until the Dutch ceded their authority to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) in 1962.)” This year is the 40th anniversary of the Forum.

AWPA urges the PIF Leaders to include the West Papua on its agenda at the September summit and to make a public statement of concern regarding the “deteriorating human rights situation” in the territory as well as “send a fact finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation.” AWPA also urges the PIF to raise human rights concerns human rights with the President of Indonesia and “to urge the Indonesian President to release all West Papuan political prisoners as a sign of good faith.”

AWPA said PIF should “grant observer status to genuine representatives of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self determination.”

Finally the group offered a strong critique of Jakarta’s “special autonomy” policies:

A number of governments have supported the autonomy package for West Papua stating that it is the best way forward for the West Papuan people. Although funding for the autonomy package has flowed to West Papua it has only benefited some elites and the bureaucrats with no benefit for the majority of West Papuans, which is why it has been rejected. We believe that it is pointless for governments to keep saying the autonomy package is the best way forward. Even a revised Special Autonomy in whatever form it might take will never satisfy West Papuans demand for self determination. West Papuans have lost trust that Jakarta will ever develop West Papua for the sake of the Papuans. The Forum can help by urging Jakarta to dialogue with the Independence Movement to find a lasting solution.

Back issues of West Papua Report


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