Daily Archives: August 24, 2011

Kontras: SBY must prioritiser the Papuan problem and stop the Escalation of Violence

THE PRESIDENT MUST GIVE PRIORITY TO REACHING A DIGNIFIED SOLUTION TO THE PAPUAN PROBLEM AND TO PREVENTING THE ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE IN PAPUA

There are fears that the prospects for peace in the land of Papua will become increasingly difficult for three reasons. The first is the escalation in the level of violence that has been disrupting the situation in Papua. The second is the total lack of accountability regarding security operations in Papua by the TNI, the Indonesian army, and Polri, the police force., and the third is the ambivalence in the President’s attitude towards the Papuan problem. If nothing is done
about these three problems, it can lead to activities that would be counter-productive for achieving a dignified solution to the Papuan situation.

The first problem, the latest in the occurrence of acts of violence in Papua, happened on Sunday, 21 August when a man named Das Komba, 30 years old, was found dead, having been murdered near his garden. Prior to this, there was information that the TNI in Arso would be holding training exercises near this man’s garden. Two women who usually garden nearby had met several people who were thought to be members of the TNI somewhere near the garden. This led to people in the vicinity becoming very fearful and feeling very unsafe. The killing came on top of a spate of incidents of violence and killings [altogether nine during August] that have occurred in Papua, particularly in the wake of the Papuan Peace Conference .

The second problem relates to the deployment of TNI forces and the role of Polri in Papua. The deployment of troops is not related to any political decision by the President or the Indonesian parliament, the DPR RI, but was promoted by the TNI. Such a political move should be accompanied by a clear mechanism for accountability as provided for in our laws. It is therefore abundantly clear that the security operations by the TNI are illegal and are in breach of the regulations. The government should have learnt from past experience in Aceh and Timor-Leste that the security approach never solves problems but only
intensifies the issues, making any solution even more difficult.

The illegal use of TNI forces also provides more evidence of the weak role of Polri in taking charge of security in Papua. Polri is increasingly showing that it lacks confidence in itself and its incapacity to take charge of security, in accordance with its mandate as stipulated in the Law on Polri. The government should be providing as much support as possible for the role of Polri in safeguarding security for the general pubic with the use of persuasive methods.

Aother problem that is no less important is the recent leak of Kopassus operational documents which drew attention to the huge role of intelligence and to the clarification of the TNI’s active role in pursuing the security approach in Papua.

The third problem relates to the attitude of the government, in particular the ambivalence of the President.  In a series of interviews, the President has spoken about achieving wellbeing for Papua.   But on the other hand, security continues to be the main approach and is not accompanied by any overall correction to security operations that do not promote the safety and sense of security of the people in general.

We therefore make the following demands:

1. The President of Indonesia should hold dialogue with the Papuan people representing all the interests of the Papuan people . This should be done in a dignified manner and should respect basic human rights.

2. The President of Indonesia should adopt a firm attitude to stop all the polemics going on among his ministers and pursue a single policy for Papua. The policy should be directed towards a model for solving the conflict and not just consist of speculations and stigmas.

3. The government should put an end to the continuing acts of violence and killings that have been occurring in Papua and make an evaluation of the presence and deployment of TNI forces, while maximising the role of Polri as the ones who are responsible for security.

4. All sides should play an active part in halting all forms of violence which can only have a negative impact on the peace process which is what the general public wants to happen.

Jakarta, 23 August 2011

Kontras: Commission for the Disappeared and the Victims of Violence

Supporting Accountability, Not Separatism, in Indonesia

Elaine Pearson

Deputy Asia Director, Human Rights Watch

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elaine-pearson/supporting-accountability_b_932075.html

What do US Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Patrick Leahy, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have in common? Their names appear among 248 foreign politicians, government officials, academics and journalists the Indonesian military views as “supporters of Papuan separatists.”

The list appears among 500 pages of Indonesian military documents, which recently came to light, that provide an insider view of the military’s surveillance operations in Papua. the country’s easternmost province.

Most of the documents concern the activities of Indonesia’s Special Forces, or Kopassus. The US should be paying close attention since a year ago it restored full military ties with Kopassus, which had been suspended for years because of the force’s notorious human rights record.

Officially, Kopassus operates in Papua to monitor and suppress the Papuan separatist movement, the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, or OPM), which has been engaged in an armed struggle against the Indonesian government since the 1960s. The documents show, however, that the focus of Indonesian military operations in Papua goes far beyond the roughly 1,000 poorly armed rebels and includes a broad swathe of Papuan political, traditional, and religious leaders, and civil society groups who are spied on by a vast network of Papuan informants.

The documents show that the military believes it has more to fear from peaceful “political separatist” activity than from armed separatists. A 2007 Kopassus report states, “Current political activity in Papua is very dangerous compared to the activities of Papuan armed groups because their access already reaches abroad.”

The problem, as the documents make clear, is that pretty much anyone who challenges authority is automatically deemed a separatist. A couple of years ago I met a Papuan family from Jayapura, the provincial capital, who were pro-Indonesia. They told me how their son had taken a romantic stroll on a nearby beach with his girlfriend when they were set upon by eight naval officers, who beat him up and forced the pair to engage in humiliating sexual acts. The family tried to complain to the police and to the naval base to no avail. The youth’s cousin told me, “I am a Papuan woman and an Indonesian citizen. We are not separatists, but whenever anyone tries to stand up for their rights, they are called separatists – that’s how they silence us.”

The reports indicate that Kopassus believes nongovernmental organizations primarily work to discredit the Indonesian government and the armed forces by using the “human rights issue” to garner international condemnation of Indonesia’s military presence in Papua and to promote Papuan independence.

Human Rights Watch has long documented violations by Indonesian security forces in Papua. For years, the military denied the reports of human rights violations in Papua, even when faced with overwhelming evidence. This lack of accountability gives security forces a green light to commit abuses against the local population. However, the recent growth in cell phone video is making it more difficult to deny abuses.

Last year, a film uploaded to YouTube showed soldiers brutally torturing two farmers in Papua, kicking them, threatening one with a knife to his face, and repeatedly jabbing the other in the genitals with burning wood. A prolonged international outcry finally forced the military to take action. In the end, three soldiers got light sentences for “disobeying orders” rather than torture. It is unclear whether the military has discharged any of them. Two months earlier, soldiers from the same battalion shot and killed Rev. Kinderman Gire on the suspicion he was a separatist. At the trial, the defendants claimed Gire led them to believe he was a member of OPM and tried to grab a rifle from one of them, who then shot him in the chest. They dumped the body in a river, after trying to cut off his head. Last week a military tribunal convicted three soldiers, again only for “disobeying orders,” and sentenced them to six, seven and fifteen months in prison.

Indonesia’s military has heralded such light sentences for torture and killing as “appropriate.” Perhaps this is not surprising given a US Defense Department official characterized the prosecution of the video torture case as “progress.”

Last year, when resuming full military ties, then-US Defense Secretary Robert Gates described how Indonesia’s defense minister “publicly pledged to protect human rights and advance human rights accountability and committed to suspend from active duty military officials credibly accused of human rights abuses, remove from military service any member convicted of such abuses, and cooperate with the prosecution of any members of the military who have violated human rights.”

The revelations in the military documents don’t appear to have changed any thinking inside the Indonesian armed forcesResponding to recent articles about the documents, an Indonesian military spokesman told the Jakarta Post: “There is no such thing as a repressive or militant approach. What we do is always a welfare approach, where we help Papuans have better lives.”

And the old pattern of military denials continues. Where individual cases garner international attention, the Indonesian military has understood that all it needs to do to continue receiving US military funding is to slap soldiers on the wrist for “disobeying orders” rather than prosecute them for serious crimes. The US has conveyed multiple messages of disappointment to the Indonesian government and military on individual cases such as the video torture trial. But US unwillingness to impose significant consequences, such as suspending new military cooperation, tells the Indonesians and others that the US doesn’t insist on sticking to its standards.

The US should call on the Indonesian government to fully disclose all military tribunal cases involving alleged abuses against civilians, including prosecutions for “disobeying orders,” and provide transcripts to the public. Until the Indonesian government re-examines these cases, in line with the US Leahy law, which prevents the US from cooperating with abusive military units, the US government should not participate in joint endeavors with military personnel or units working in Papua. The US should also call on Indonesia’s military to stop viewing peaceful political activists as threats to national security and stop spying on them.

Both the US and Indonesia should recognize that people like Senator Leahy, who are named in the Papua military documents, were not seeking to challenge Indonesian sovereignty, but simply to defend the international standards for accountability that the Indonesian military is undermining.

Elaine Pearson is the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Follow Elaine Pearson onTwitter.

Comments on ICGs Hope and Hard Reality in Papua:

Comments on

Hope and Hard Reality in PapuaAn Update Briefing on the conflict in West Papua by the International Crisis Group (22 August 2011)

(ICG full PDF report available at:
http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/south-east-asia/indonesia/B126-indonesia-hope-and-hard-reality-in-papua.aspx )

Jason MacLeod 23 August 2011

 

 

Introduction

The recent ICG report into conflict in West Papua, Hope and Hard Reality in Papua highlights the growing strength of the civilian based movement in Papua. It also points to contradictory developments. On the one hand there is an opening of political space, illustrated by the fact that the conference happened at all and that no topic was off the table. On the other hand, the report details ongoing violence in Puncak Jaya, demonstrating that the presence of the security forces only exacerbates violence as well as highlighting the enduring appeal of armed struggle by a small and hardcore group of Papuans. Hope and Hard Reality in Papua also outlines 44 “indicators of peace” developed during the conference. While still partial these indicators give tangible content to Papuan aspirations for freedom. This content echoes many of the demands made by Papuan youth, student, women’s groups, farmers, pastors, and Adat groups in recent years. Indicators like the “freedom of expression” and “the release of all political prisoners” bring into sharp focus the fact that Papua still remains an nondemocratic enclave of the Republic of Indonesia.

 

Summary of the report

The recent ICG report on West Papua, Hope and Hard Reality is structured in three sections: the peace conference held in Jayapura in early July 2011; an analysis of the recent spike in violence in the remote and rugged Puncak Jaya district in the highlands of West Papua; and, an evaluation of the extent to which a series of indicators developed during the peace conference could be used to resolve the conflict in Puncak Jaya. The report underscores a key policy recommendation currently sitting on the Cabinet Secretary desk – that the long-delayed new Unit to accelerate development in Papua, Unit Percepatan Pembangunan di Papua dan Papua Barat, known by its Indonesian acronym as UP4B, include a mandate to address political as well economic issues.

The report underscores an opportunity and threat. The opportunity is that there are some key high-level Indonesian allies, including advisors to the Indonesian government and a former Indonesian military officer, who understand that a political as well as economic solution to Papua’s problems is needed. The threat is two-fold. The first is that security operations continue in Papua. This is despite an extraordinary admission by Major-General (Ret.) TB Hassunuddin, deputy head of the Indonesian Government’s parliamentary Commission 1 responsible for security affairs, that all current operations to “hunt down OPM leaders are … illegal”. According to Hasunuddin this is because they do not carry the consent of parliament as stipulated by Law 34/2004 on the Indonesian Armed Forces. The General’s comments illustrate the lack of political will in Jakarta to rein-in the security forces in Papua. This last point relates to the second threat, summarised in the ICG report as “Jakarta’s indifference to indigenous Papuan concerns”.

The Papua Peace Conference and indicators of a peaceful Papua developed during the Conference

The Peace Conference was organised by the Jaringan Damai Papua or Papua Peace Network, a group organised by Dr. Neles Tebay or Pater (Father) Neles Tebay as he is known, and Muridan Widjojo, an Indonesian scholar with the Indonesian Institution of Sciences (LIPI) who was the editor of the Papua Road Map published in 2009. Tebay and Widjojo were previously involved in separate dialogue initiatives but have now decided to combine their efforts. The JDP itself is made up of key individuals, all members of different Papuan civil society groups, but attending as individuals not as representatives of their group or organisation. Both migrants and indigenous Papuans are members.

For me, three things stand out about the conference and the ICG’s summary report on the conference.

The first is that it happened at all. It was neither prevented from occurring by the military nor disrupted by protests. It was also attended by a senior minister of the Yudhuyono’s government, Djoko Sujanto, the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Law, and twenty senior bureaucrats from the various ministries that Sujanto coordinates. This in itself is a sign, albeit a small one, that the Indonesian president may be paying more attention to Papua.

Second, the conference clearly underscored Papuans desire for independence. This can be seen in the final declaration of the conference which outlined a criterion for negotiators and nominated five Papuan Diaspora negotiators, all from the Pro-Independence camp, as well as from an incident during the conference itself. When the Provincial Army Chief of Staff, Erfi Triassunu got up to speak he invited the participants – who were virtually all Papuans – to chant “Papua damai” (Peaceful Papua). Instead the crowd responded as one: “Papua Merdeka!” (Free Papua!). Perhaps not the response the General anticipated.

Third, although the report does not dwell on this, it does suggest that there are still key sectors of the Papuan population that are still not actively engaged in the struggle. These are Papuan politicians, the civil service (who the report acknowledges are engaging in a kind of passive noncooperation illustrated by the fact that in Puncak Jaya for instance, only 30 or an approximate 2000 strong workforce even show up for work); workers, particularly those in the resource extractive industries; and members of church congregations.

Fourth, and this is the most significant in my view, is that the conference produced a list of indicators of a peaceful Papua. Together these indicators are the clearest articulation of the “contents” of a New Papua that we have ever seen. Not only do they constitute a vision of tomorrow they may have important implications for the civil resistance movement. The ICG report argues that the indicators could be used to formulate policy direction for the central and provincial governments. The word “indicators” reflects the language of government and aid and development donors. However, many of the indicators mirror (and in some cases refine) an emerging set of campaign objectives that civil resistance leaders might organise around. In some cases, such as freeing political prisoners, Papuans they are already organising for change. Papuan activists could well use the “indicators” to pursue, and even set, the agenda for change.

 

Armed Struggle

The report also devotes significant attention to violent insurgency in the Puncak Jaya region by one of the few active units of the TPN-PB (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional di Papua Barat or the West Papuan National Liberation Army). Five things are worth highlighting from the report. First, Papuan guerrillas in Puncak Jaya, and elsewhere in West Papua are poorly armed. The report estimates that Goliat Tabuni’s group in Puncak Jaya has about 30 guns. This reflects the assessment of the armed struggle contained in the recently released Kopassus (Indonesian Special Forces) document leaked by the Sydney Morning Herald. Second, there are very low levels of participation in the armed struggle. Although virtually the entire indigenous population of Puncak Jaya has kinship connections with the TPN there are only a handful of active members. Third, the violence is not just one-sided or in response to Indonesian military attacks. Tabuni and his men, and in some cases other aspiring commanders also initiate attacks on the Indonesian military, not in direct response to Military violence, but to increase their own reputation and prestige.  Fourth, Tabuni’s group itself is split into three leadership groups which are sometimes compete and clash with one another. This reflects the fractious state of the TPN elsewhere in Papua.  Finally, the ICG report makes it very clear that violence in Puncak Jaya, some of which is also linked to inter-clan competition, is exacerbated by the presence of the security forces.

Theories of Change

Although it is not picked up in the report, Hope and Hard Reality in Papua underscores a battle of ideas underway in Papua. This discussion is essentially about how change (freedom) will be won. It is less a contest between armed struggle and peaceful ways of resolving the conflict. Despite the spike in violence (most of which was perpetrated by the security forces) there is little popular support for armed struggle. The contest is mostly between and within proponents of two different competing theories of change: those who believe dialogue, negotiation or other conventional political processes will secure Papuan aspirations for freedom and those who advocate mass mobilisation or civil resistance. The majority of Papuans still invest in the hope that conventional political processes – either diplomacy (by Papuan representatives of various resistance groups), an inclusive dialogue process of the kind envisioned by Tebay/Widjojo and the JDP, or a legal challenge to Indonesian government sovereignty in Papua – will be able to resolve the conflict. I don’t think there is any real indication that these acts of persuasion will compel Jakarta to sit at the table.

On the civil resistance side are Papuans who argue that a conventional political process is naïve. This group claims that Jakarta will only make key concessions when they are compelled to do through mass nonviolent disruptions that raise the political and economic costs of the status quo. Within the civil resistance camp there is also a subtle difference between those whose methods are based around street protests and those who are seeking to organise a much broader base and support them to be active through a much more diverse range of nonviolent tactics than demonstrations.

The fact that KNPB (Komite Nasional Papua Barat or the West Papua National Committee) organised a demonstration attended by thousands on 2 August in support of an conference about a legal challenge to the Act of Free Choice that was happening in Oxford at the same time, shows that there is growing understanding that a conventional political strategy needs a mass movement. Although, there are still widely held unrealistic expectations that dialogue and/or a legal strategy will bring about independence in the near future.

Then there is also tension around goals. The radical student and youth groups, WPNA (West Papua National Authority) and KNPB, as well as Benny Wenda in London (who heads up the International Lawyers for West Papua, the group who is spearheading the legal challenge) are pushing for a referendum. They see the JDP and calls for peaceful dialogue in opposition to the demand for a referendum. Despite these real differences and tensions the report (and recent events inside Papua) suggest that there is growing recognition that a mass movement and dialogue are not incompatible. Some are starting to say that civil resistance helps creates the conditions for dialogue. In fact the report seems to suggest that last year’s occupation of the Provincial Parliament in Jayapura helped widen the proposed mandate of the UP4B.

Allies

The ICG report also demonstrates that there are is a small but influential group of allies inside Indonesia who while not countenancing independence for Papua, do support real and significant political changes. In addition the report mentions but does not dwell on the fact that there are key non-Papuans inside Papua (who are members of the JDP) that support Papuan political goals.

Conclusion

The report illustrates the growing maturity of the civilian based movement inside Papua. The development of 44 indicators of a peaceful Papua around the themes of politics, law and human rights, economics and environment, security, and social-cultural rights all point to a closer linkage between civil resistance and conflict resolution approaches to change in Papua. The belief that civil resistance is not in conflict with but rather supports dialogue was made by Chris Waranussy, a prominent human rights lawyer in Papua. The most significant thing about the recent peace conference in Jayapura is that it has supported Papuans to more fully articulate the contents of freedom. It also underscores the mainstream Papuan desire for independence. In this sense the gulf between different positions in Jakarta and Jayapura, and the different perceptions of the problems in Papua, remains wide. A fact illustrated by what is going on in Puncak Jaya and the Indonesian military’s response.

How the Papuan people Continue to Unite in Resistance: Victor Yeimo Interview

http://hidupbiasa.blogspot.com/2011/08/how-papuan-people-continue-to-unite-in.html

[This Interview with Papuan activist Victor Yeimo was published on the
Kontinum website, because of a feeling that little information and
perspectives from the Papuan struggle is available in Indonesia, and so
people outside Papua are not aware of the what is actually going on
there. The original, in Indonesian, can be found at
http://kontinum.org/2011/08/wawancara_victor_papua/%5D

We see Papua’s problems as coming from a combination of problems with
the state and corporations, military violence, ecological damage,
genocide and extinction of indigenous cultures. The Papuan issue is also
a national issue for Indonesia, and one which is not yet resolved. Many
indigenous people are killed and tortured in order to legitimise the
destruction of Papua’s natural riches by the world’s giant companies
together with their closest partners: government.

Constitutional reasons, together with the logic of national unity and a
narrow nationalist view of ‘Indonesianness’ are used to legitimise
repression and oppression of the Papuan people and their land.

But amidst a climate of repression that doesn’t seem to subside, the
Papuan people struggle on, ever-bravely. To get to know the situation
and viewpoint of the resistance movement in Papua, Kontinum interviewed
Victor Yeimo, spokesperson of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB),
one of the people’s organisations that continues the active struggle in
the land of Papua:

Bearing in mind that there is very little and quite selective news about
the Papuan situation and the people’s struggle in the media, could you
explain for all our readers what is the latest situation in Papua?
Human rights violations of civilians by the Indonesian military and
police are still taking place. Global investment has ballooned after the
ACFTA agreement (ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement), where President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had given instructions to police and military
commanders to use investment as a means of pacifying Papua (see Jurnal
Nasional, 16 May 2011, page 10). China is the home of the majority of
global investors, and the Papuan Provincial Body for Capital Investment
(Badan Penanaman Modal) has reported that there has been a 28% increase
in investment in Papua in the last 6 months.

There have also been cases of malpractice where Indonesia’s bureaucratic
elite have interfered with the governance of Papua. Corruption,
collusion and nepotism have increased due to the central government’s
inconsistency around laws and regulations.

Aside from that, Freeport workers have risen up and have gone on strike
(tabloidjubi.com will have news updates).

Illegal business from the police and military is also on the rise, such
as illegal logging, ,gold panning, bringing sex workers from outside
Papua, dealing in the wood of the eaglewood tree, and so on. Meanwhile
military repression to silence the democracy movement has been getting
more intense, and uses labels such as separatist, terrorist,
trouble-maker and so on.

What do the Papua people think about these situations, and how have they
reacted to them?
The people do not have much power, due to the military strength in
Papua. Meanwhile the government is seducing the people with trillions of
rupiah of foreign direct investment in their ancestral lands, and so in
the end there are many people that do not want to join organised
resistance movements.

The people continue to problematise the history of Papua’s integration
in the unified Indonesian state, which has always been manipulated by
the United States, Indonesia and the Netherlands. Because of that the
people still continue to unite in resistance.

Apart from the problems of history and culture, what is making the
Papuan people refuse Jakarta’s influence in their everyday lives and
want self-determination?
Because Jakarta’s approach is militaristic, exploitative, deceitful and
marginalising. From the beginning right up to the present day Jakarta
has regarded Papuans as second-class people, people close to animals.
And then the next thing they do is that they violate the arrangements
that they themselves have made. They are just not consistent in their
regulations and policy. Policy is also biassed in favour of incomers to
Papua. So the people prefer to think about sorting things out for
themselves. Many Papuans, as a result of all they have gone through,
believe that Indonesia’s sole aim in West Papua is to wipe out the
Papuan people and take control of the territory.

How have government, the bourgeoisie and Indonesian politicians viewed
the Papuan people’s struggle, and what has been their reaction?
They continue to be suspicious of all civil activists that operate in a
legal or democratic way. Indonesia also uses its military force and
criminal law to kill off west Papua’s peaceful movement. They also use
‘divide and conquer’ techniques to destroy the unity and solidarity of
the Papuan people’s resistance. Jakarta has poured a lot of money into
the military, police and intelligence organisations in order to make
Papua secure. Many Papuans have been recruited by enticing them with
money to join the ranks of Barisan Merah Putih (Red and White Front: a
militant Indonesian nationalist civil organisation). Many cases of abuse
by members of the military police have not been brought to justice, and
the perpetrators have even been rewarded with new jobs and promotions.

How have the Papuan people got involved in the struggle for freedom in
Papua? What kinds of resistance have developed?
Papuans take a peaceful and dignified approach, organising
demonstrations, prayer sessions, seminars, writing books or reporting
repression on the Internet. There are also some traditional militant
groups in the national Liberation army – Free Papua Movement (TPN-OPM)
who refer to themselves as a West Papuan military. They continue to use
guerilla tactics to chase the Indonesian army out of their areas.

What is the reaction of Papuan people towards the ‘separatist’ label
that is put on every movement that emerges in Papua?
We’re aware that we aren’t separatists, because the people on the
contrary consider Indonesia to be the separatists, as Indonesia arrived
in 1962 whereas the Papuan state was given independence in 1961.

The people regard this label as one imposed by the people in power, who
are anti-democratic and anti-human rights, as it is stated in the
Indonesian basic law set down in 1945 that colonisation should be erased
across the whole world. The people see this label as something imposed
by the military, to promote their own interests of expanding the
territory under military control in order to profit from securitization
projects. In books, speeches seminars etc. the people continue to state
that we are not separatists, because this land belongs to the Papuans,
it dot belong to Indonesia, the US, Britain or any other country.

How do you see the general Indonesian population’s understanding of, and
response to, the Papuan problem?
Much of Indonesian society doesn’t understand the problems of Papua.
Maybe people have been influenced by the opinion of those in power,
because of the propaganda they spread on TV and in newspapers, that
Papuans are poor, and so on. But actually we’re rich, only Indonesia
keeps marginalising the Papuan people’s rights. The Indonesian people,
with their blinkered nationalism, see the Papuan movements as being
against those in power. But they are also being treated in the same way
by our exploitative, greedy, gun-crazed, corrupt and chauvinist leadership.

For the majority of the Indonesian population, there are very few who
know just how the Indonesian leadership invaded, took over and then
annexed Papua, which was granted independence in 1961, through
agreements to establish Papua’s political status that were devised by
the US, Britain and the Netherlands, without involving the Papuan
people. Most people in Indonesia are still blind to the problems of
Papua and still ignorant of how Papuans have suffered, and so still take
the side of our cruel leaders.

Can you tell us about your organisation, KNPB?
West Papua National committee (KNPB) is a West Papuan people’s medium.
KNPB exists in different places throuout the land of Papua, and also has
consulates in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Manado. KNPB was set
up in 2008 with Buchtar Tabuni as chair and Victor Yeimo as General
Secretary. Towards the end of 2006 Buchtar was arrested and condemned to
3 years in prison and Victor undertook the everyday tasks. In August
2009 Victor was arrested and condemned to 3 years in prison. Now the
organisation is operating with Mako Tabuni as Chair I of KNPB, Buchtar
still as General Chair, and Victor Yeimo as International Spokesperson.

KNPB always encourages Papuans to see themselves as historically,
culturally and geographically different to Indonesians. Can you explain
what is the position of KNPB comrades regarding this?
We locate our struggle with the Papuan people. Whatever the people want,
that’s what we fight for. The historical, geographical and cultural
factors are actually like you said. We see that Indonesia’s involvement
in West Papua is no more than a story of protracted repression. This
territory is still like a protectorate. Whatever the people wish for,
that’s what KNPB will mediate as a focus for the struggle, using sincere
means.

What is KNPB’s vision of the “right to self-determination”, in
connection with the Papuan struggle?
Papuans do not regard the test of public opinion that took place in 1969
as final. The people continue to demand the right to determine their own
future. Many Papuans have died as a result of demanding these rights.
Therefore KNPB fights for a referendum as a decisive solution to the
Papuan conflict. This is so that the people can decide whether they want
to continue as part of Indonesia, or if they want independence. In
KNPB’s role as media, it continues to make demands to international
bodies and also appeals to the will of Jakarta so that the people are
given their democratic right to choose their future. Of course we need
the reinforcement of international solidarity, and to this end there is
a group of international lawyers working to investigate the status of
Papua and resolve it through international law.

What sort of Papua do the Papuan people themselves want?
A Papua that is free of all forms of repression: Indonesian
neocolonialism, neoliberalism/ global capitalism and militarism.

How do Freeport and the other corporations that have established
themselves in the land of Papua react to the people’s struggle there?
Freeport collaborates with the Indonesian leadership. They both look
after their economic and political interests in the same way. That means
that they label anyone who doesn’t accept the presence of these
corporations as separatists and terrorists. Freeport takes a line
opposing the Papuan people’s struggle, because in their view it will
harm their capital investments and vital assets.

What is their connection with the Indonesian government and bourgeoisie?
Freeport continues to deceive Indonesia and the Papuan people, but
Freeport wants Indonesia to continue as guarddog of its assets. So
Freeport keeps paying the military and Indonesian bourgeoisie to ensure
guaranteed security and legal favour. Papuans get nothing meaningful
from this arrangement.

What are the priority needs right now for friends involved in the
struggle for freedom in Papua?
-We really need the solidarity of oppressed people wherever they might
be, including people in Indonesia, to work together to chase all forms
of repression out of Papua.
-We really need solidarity from friends in the national press to take
the side of the Papuan people in their reportage.
-We really need consolidation at the national level to shape a
definitive solution for the Papuan people.
-We need some means of production that can be used to protect ourselves
against the ongoing siege of repression in the land of the bird of paradise.

What sort of solidarity do the Papuan people need? And what can friends
from outside Papua do to help the Papuan people’s struggle?
-We would like it if the Papuan issue was regularly discussed by friends
outside Papua.
-We would wish for some sort of national consolidation to discuss and
establish strategy and tactics for a joint resistance.
-We also need advocacy, economic and political information and reading
material that could help us be active in the field.

Thank-you, and respectful greetings to all Papuans in struggle.