Groups Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia

AH-64 Apache
AH-64 Apache (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Press Release

Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391,
Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078,

March 30, 2012 – Ninety organizations today urged the U.S. government and Congress not to provide deadly attack helicopters to Indonesia. Indonesia has announced that it plans to buy eight AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the United States.

The groups warned that the helicopters will escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West Papua: “Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians.”

The Indonesian military (TNI) regularly conducts “sweep operations,” involving attacks on villages where innocent villagers are forced from their homes. The groups write that “Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.” Sweep operations are now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua.

The letter was organized by the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team and signed by human rights, religious, indigenous rights, disarmament and other organizations based in 14 countries.

Signers include: Faith-based Network on West Papua, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Action, International Lawyers for West Papua, Land Is Life, KontrS (Indonesia), and Pax Christi Australia. A complete list of signers can be found here:

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns and equipped to fire missiles.

ETAN was formed in 1991. It celebrated its 20th anniversary this December 10, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. See ETAN’s web site:

Text of Letter

As organizations concerned about human rights in Indonesia and West Papua, we are writing to urge the U.S. government and Congress not to allow the sale of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI). Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians, who have been the target of deadly TNI assaults for many years.

The sale of this weapons system to the TNI — notwithstanding its long record of disregard for civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations and impunity in East Timor, Aceh and elsewhere — would only increase the suffering of the Papuan population.

Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin told the Antara news agency, that  Indonesia intends to buy eight AH-64 Apache helicopter from the United States.

The heavily-armed AH-64 is a highly lethal weapon which can be used to escalate conflict within Indonesia and in West Papua. These aircraft will substantially augment the TNI’s capacity to prosecute its “sweep operations” in West Papua and thereby, almost certainly lead to increased suffering among the  civilian populations long victimized by such operations.

TNI “sweep operations,” including several now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua, involve attacks on villages. Homes are destroyed, along with churches and public buildings. These assaults, purportedly to eliminate the poorly armed Papuan armed resistance, force innocent villagers from their homes. Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns . It is also equipped to fire missiles.

Congress must be notified of major weapons sales. We urge Congress to oppose the sale of these helicopters.

DPRP member criticises the absence of teachers and medics in Papua

26 March 2012A member of the Papuan legislative assembly, the DPRP, said it was very regrettable that teachers and health personnel rarely go to the more isolated parts of West Papua. Kenius Kogoya,  secretary of Commission E of the DPRP, said that although this was nothing new, it was very unfortunate indeed that this was still happening.

‘This is happening all the time in Papua, particularly in the interior. We have seen it for ourselves and feel very unhappy about this situation. Aren’t the institutions monitoring the situation in the kampungs and other places which these people should be visiting? Do they never check up on whether these people come to these places?’ he said.

He said that there was widespread neglect by officials who were failing to check on whether teachers and health workers ever turned up in the interior for work. This was happening despite the fact that  these people were being paid and that this was in accord with government policy.

‘There are serious failings in the system. They get a decent salary but no one monitors to see whether they ever go to these places. .No-one should surprised to discover that is a number of districts and kampungs, these people never turn up. They are paid a good salary but they are living elsewhere.  It is the duty of the authorities to remind them (of their duties),’ he said.
_*/The difficult geographical conditions in Papua should not be used as a reason by public service workers. These workers in the fields of education and healthcare in the regions have been given certain rights, so they should also carry out their responsibilities, he said.

He said that a considerable amount of money was being spent on education and health. ‘People are always talking about the lack of personnel and complaining that the economic circumstances were not good, but who is it that they are not good for? The authorities are simply failing to take this matter seriously. And this is a  problem that exists in almost all the districts of Papua,’ said Kenius.

Australia Government wants Papua to continue to be part of Indonesia

Bintang Papua, 28 March 2012While the Australian government is keen to hear about the present situation in West Papua and is hoping to get inputs from a number of sources, in believes in principle that Papua should continue to be a part of Indonesia.

‘Australia fully agrees that Papua should  continue to be a part of Indonesia,’ said Ruben Magai, chairman of commission A of the DPRP, when speaking with journalists during a closed meeting with Greg Ralph and Emily Whelan.

As a mark of its support for this position, it has decided to provide financial assistance via the World Bank, the UNDP and other agencies. ‘This is a sign of Australia’s interest in the Papuan people,’ said Magai. [No concern about what the Papuan people may want!! – Tapol]

He said that Australia was showing its concern by providing financial assistance for the implementation of the OTSUS (special autonomy) law. This financial assistance is intended to help improve the infrastructure, to support the economic empowerment of the Papuan people as well as make provisions for their health and education .’But they need to control how their assistance is being used,’ said Magai.

He said that the election of the governor of the province of Papua had dragged on, and Australian diplomats were concerned about this.’We wanted to conduct the election in accordance with the Special Autonomy Law of 2001 but there are groups of people who have delayed these elections.’ But he did not say which groups of people he had in mind.

There were three points that should be borne in mind about the elections, firstly that the candidates should be indigenous Papuans, secondly, that the incumbent should serve a maximum of two terms.and thirdly regarding who should run the elctions, the DPRP or the election commission.

Australian diplomats also had a meeting with Dr Neles Tebay, rector of STFT, the College of Theology, during which they discussed  the Third Papuan Peace Congress in Jayapura , the political status of West Papua  as well as problems that have occurred in Papua including violations of human rights. Staff members of the embassy also held a meeting with the UP4B and an assistant of the governor of the province.

Australia keen to follow developments in West Papua

Bintang Papua,

27 March 2012

There has been growing international interest in the situation in Papua.

This is apparent from the fact tht two countries have instructed their
embassies  to visit Papua and West Papua.

A while ago, the Dutch ambassador made a visit there and then it was the turn of the Australian embassy to make a visit.

Yesterday, the Australian Political Counsellor Ralph Gregory together with Emily Whelan who is the second secretary at the embassy held meetings with the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua) and the Papuan branch of  Komnas HAM, the National Human Rights Commision.

Unfortuntely, these meetings did not take place in public, and as a result of which journalists were unable to report on what had been discussed.

The deputy chairman of Komnas HAM, the Rev. Hofni Simbiak said that the Australian visit had been a working visit which happens every year as required by the Australian government.

He said that the Australian embassy had requested information from all stakeholders  in Papua who are following developments there. ‘This relates for instance to the implementation of UP4B, regarding which the embassy wanted to know whether this had been socialised  and whether Papuans themselves were aware of this new regulation.

He also said that wherever new districts had been formed, there should be an MRP in each one, with the approval of the central MRP.

As regards requirements with regard to people standing for election as governors of the districts who should should be indigenous Papuans, he said that this was very important indeed, so as to ensure that these people are true leaders of their people and not just the long arm of the central government, which has been the case for such a long time.

He also said there needs to be clarification about the problems to be dealt with by the UP4B in a situation where we, as the cultural organisation for the Papuan people, have the right to express an opinion.

He said it was not clear who was responsible for organising the election of governors. Members of the MRP feel that this problem has been dragging on for years and if it is not resolved soon, the Papuan people will be the ones to suffer as a result. ‘If there are any errors in the election regulations, it should be immediately discussed  so as to ensure that the elections are peaceful.’

Diplomats from the Australian embassy also held a meeting with Frits Ramandey, secretary of Komnas HAM to discuss the human rights of the Papuan people, bearing in mind that hundreds of Papuans have died recently as a result of political conflicts.

Ramandey said that indeed, a large number of Papuans  had suffered violations of their human rights such as during the recent incident in Puncak Jaya  when hundreds of people had lost their lives.

(it is not known if the diplomats specifically brought up the military sweep operations currently being conducted with the involvement of Australian financed, armed and trained Kopassus and Detachment 88 counter-terrorist across Papua, which have been responsible for countless brutalities and village burnings in anti-separatist raids for the past year. WPM)

With regard to the legal status of Komnas HAM, he said that the commission had submitted a draft to the government for Komnas HAM to have a much stronger legal status  so as to be able to help the Papuan people to resolve these violations. It also drew attention to the fact that OTSUS, the Special Autonomy law for Papua, stipulated that Komnas HAM must be able to guarantee the basic rights of the Papuan people.

There was also a discussion about the rights of Papuan people living in
Australia who need legal protection.

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