Daily Archives: April 14, 2012

TAPOL letter to David Cameron

13 April, 2012


Rt Hon David Cameron, MP.

Prime Minister,

10 Downing Street

London SW1


Dear Mr Cameron,

TAPOL has been closely following your visit to Indonesia this week. We note that you praised Indonesia as a ‘Democracy (which) offers hope to the Muslim World’. You were also quoted as saying that you had decided ‘to relax controls of arms exports to Indonesia … as a sign of Indonesia’s democratic maturity’. Your delegation to Indonesia included representatives from several British arms manufacturers.


I would remind you that two years ago in an article on West Papua in The Daily Telegraph you were quoted as describing ‘the plight of the tribespeople as a terrible situation’. This is a valid description of what has been happening in the past few years.  Bearing that in mind, we would reasonably have expected you to use the occasion of your visit to Indonesia to express concern about the situation in West Papua.


The sufferings of the Papuan people are to a great extent due to operations by the Indonesian military, TNI, which has been conducting ‘sweep operations’, including several now underway in the Central Highlands of West Papua. Whole communities have been attacked and homes destroyed, along with churches, traditional meeting centres and public buildings. Such assaults, purportedly aimed at eliminating the poorly-armed Papuan resistance, have forced villages to flee their homes in search of security in nearby forests where they are cut off from their livelihoods and face the possibility of starvation and disease.


Allow me to draw your attention to certain other recent incidents and developments. According to data collected by TAPOL, since 2008 at least 80 Papuans have been arrested and charged with  ‘treason’ or related offences simply for peaceful actions such as raising the Papuan  Morning Star Flag. They have been imprisoned for terms ranging from 10 months to six years.  Under Article 106 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code, anyone found guilty of treason can face a sentence of up to 20 years or life. Among those now incarcerated is Filep Karma, a civil servant, who was arrested in December 2004, convicted of treason and sentenced to fifteen years in jail.


In October 2011, the Third Papuan People’s Congress was held in Jayapura, attended by hundreds of people. The Congress proceeded peacefully for three days. However, as the participants were dispersing after the final session on 19 October, police and army troops rounded up hundreds of the participants. Without provocation, the troops opened fire and killed three people. The fact that no-one has been held accountable for the killings is indicative of the impunity enjoyed by security forces personnel.  By contrast, five Papuan leaders who were taken into custody following the Congress were put on trial, found guilty of treason and last month sentenced to three years in prison. This exemplifies the severe restrictions on the right to free expression experienced by the Papuan people.


We call upon you to acknowledge that such acts of repression and human rights violations against unarmed civilians should never occur in a democratic country.


We further call upon you to take account of all of these facts and urge you not to  allow the sale of military equipment to Indonesia to proceed.


We hope that your government will use its close relationship with the Indonesian government to urge it to end to the practice of charging peaceful Papuan demonstrators with treason and press the Indonesian Government to release all those now serving sentences for peaceful political activities.

Yours sincerely

Carmel Budiardjo



While the military accuse the OPM of recent shootings, others call for investigations

{This article delicately skirts around the facts of inconsistencies on the military and police versions of the Trigana Air shootings.  It is widely suspected that the “unknown persons” responsible for the shootings – as is mainly the case in Papua – are not the OPM at all, but military sniper units.  see https://westpapuamedia.info/2012/04/09/doubts-grow-of-opm-responsibility-for-puncak-jaya-aircraft-shooting/ }
Bintang Papua, 13 April 2012

According to a statement by the commander of the Cenderawasih  military command, the OPM -Organisasi Papua Merdeka – was responsible for the recent shooting of the Trigana plane at the Mulia Airport, Puncak Jaya. This means that it is necessary for the OPM to be involved in trying to identify  the basic problems surrounding the acts of violence in Puncak Jaya.

The co-ordinator of the Jaringan Damai Papua, JDP, (Papuan Peace Network), Dr Neles Tebay said it is necessary to involve the OPM, not only in order to bring to an end events that have been occurring recently as well as in the past, but also to seek a way of preventing such events from happening again. He was speaking following a meeting between the OPM and the government, and insisted that agreements that had been reached at that meeting should be adhered to.

‘A strategic solution  can be put in place for the long term, bearing in mind that responses to events up to now have been re-active; for instance, when distubances occur, troops are deployed and after tranquillity  has been restored, the troops are pulled back. That might be a good way to tackle things but is it only for the short term,’  he said.

He pointed out that the recent shooting in Puncak Jaya was the second time that shots had been fired. The first time was when a TNI helicopter was shot at, though on that first occasion, the plane shot at was a commercial plane.’

‘Such incidents have been occurring frequently in the recent past, which means that if the government wants to solve the problems in Puncak Jaya , it should recognise the fact that previous problems have not been solved.’

In view of this, the JDP offers two solutions to end the shootings in the region. In the short term, this would mean restoring peace and tranquillity to the area, but the second solution would require the involvement of various stakeholders, including the central government, the provincial government, the TNI and the police, bearing in mind that the military commander has already declared that the OPM was responsible.

The JDP co-ordinator said that these shooting incidents have been occurring at a time when no dialogue is taking place while also taking into account the fact that not only civilians but also members of the security forces have been among the victims.

‘Moreover, there has been no transparency  on the side of the security forces about the results of their investigations. Were projectiles involved and if so, what kind of projectiles. Such things have never been explained to the general public.’

Dr Tebay also said that these shooting incidents had delayed local elections which are under way. ‘If these incidents are not resolved, it could also cause delays in the supply of essential goods for the population,’ he said.

Violence should not be answered with violence.

A member of the Papuan Customary Council, Fadel Alhamid said that violence should not be answered by violence as this can only result in yet more violence. He said that nothing was yet known about who was responsible for the  initial violence; was it the TPN/OPM or unidentified persons?  This only goes to show that the security approach is not the right way to improve the situation in Puncak Jaya. ‘In response to acts of violence, sweepings occur, but such operations spread fear  among the people, who then flee their homes and go into the forests. A more persuasive approach is needed, and this requires the collaboration of all elements in society.’

This means involving political bodies, the churches, customary groups all  of which should be actively involved, bearing in mind that the security approach has a direct impact on the civilian population. If everyone gets together, it should be possible to work out who was responsible for the shooting.

He went on to say that the security forces should carry out its investigations in greater depth so as to discover those elements that are behind the shootings.If it turns out to have been the OPM, there is a way out of the problem. But if unidentified persons are involved, we must be able to find out who they are, what their interests are in  Puncak Jaya and in the Central Highlands such as in Timika, while similar investigations should be conducted with regard to the TPN/OPM.

[Slightly  abridged translation by TAPOL]