West Papua Report May 2012

This is the 97th 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://www.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.  Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2012/1205wpap.htm

Summary: One demonstrator was reportedly killed, two were wounded, and 13 arrested in May 1 demonstrations throughout West Papua. The protests marked the 49th anniversary of Indonesia’s coerced annexation of West Papua. Indonesian government plans to continue to send settlers from outside into West Papua (“transmigration”) has prompted protests from Papuan organizations who fear the further marginalization of Papuans and growing communal tensions. Several international organizations have protested continued, longstanding efforts by the Indonesian government to cover up human rights violations by preventing journalists and rights observers from traveling to or within West Papua. Following large scale peaceful demonstrations in Serui district, Indonesian security forces have launched a crackdown involving sweep operations. The shooting of a civilian aircraft as it landed at an airport in the Puncak Jaya area caused civilian casualties and has prompted unproven charges by authorities that the perpetrators were the Papuan armed resistance organization, the OPM. Papuan leaders have called on the government to conduct a transparent investigation and to engage with local civil and government organizations to put an end to ongoing tensions and conflict in the Puncak Jaya region. They note that security force resort to force in dealing with incidents harms innocent local civilians who are often driven from their homes. Despite its obligations under Indonesian and International law, the Indonesian government is refusing to fund urgently needed medical treatment for Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma. Two new reports reveal extensive “land grabbing” by corporations, backed by the Indonesian government, at the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) project in southern West Papua. Indonesia faces a quadrennial review of its human rights performance by the UN Human Rights Commission. WPAT member Dr. Eben Kirksey has authored a new book on West Papua.


Arrests and Shootings of Demonstrators Mar Peaceful Demonstrations Marking Indonesia’s Annexation of West Papua

The human rights organization ELSHAM Papua reported that large protests marked the May 1,1963 anniversary of Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua. Gunfire, targeting a peaceful demonstration killed one demonstrator and wounded several. In addition, police arrested 13 demonstrators in Sentani.

Demonstrations, organized by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), transpired in various places in West Papua , the largest appears to have been in the Abepura area where a crowd assembled to hear a speech by Buchtar Tabuni, KNPB Chair. According to ELSHAM, Tabuni said in part: “On this day, 49 years ago, we commemorate the day when our people fell into the hands of the Indonesian state. All the Papuan people reject annexation by Indonesia.” Tabuni also said that May 1 marked the beginning of the perpetration of gross human rights violations against the Papuan people.

Many of the demonstrators marched to the center of Jayapura, joined by supporters along the route. Some demonstrators attempted to fly Morning Star flags in a field alongside the tomb of the martyred Papuan leader Theys Eluay in Sentani, but they were prevented from doing so by the police, who arrested thirteen people. Among those arrested was Darius Koyoga, organizer of the action.

One demonstrator, Terjolih Weah, was shot near the TNI’s Koramil base in Abepura. In addition, as the demonstrators were walking from the Elim Church to Koramil, an unidentified person or persons fired on the peaceful crowd. One victim of the shooting was taken by demonstrators to the Dian Harapan Hospital. Another victim, a fourth year student at the economic faculty at Port Nambay (Jayapura), was shot through the stomach and died.

Indonesian security force were reportedly on alert for anticipated demonstrations associated with the dead student’s funeral.

(WPAT comment: The shooting of demonstrators peacefully asserting their rights requires an immediate, transparent investigation by the Indonesian authorities. Armed Indonesian security elements, operating in plain clothes, invariably shadow demonstrations. Suspicion regarding the perpetrators of attacks on peaceful demonstrators inevitably will fall on them.)

Plans For New Transmigration to West Papua Prompts Protest and Fears of Communal Conflict

The head of the Office of Labor and Transmigration in the province of West Nusa Tenggara said the government would be sending more transmigrants West Papua. News of the new government-sponsored migration to West Papua prompted protest from local Papuan groups.

According to a report in the daily Jubi, the Jayapura branch of the Association of Catholic Students of the Republic of Indonesia (PMKRI), condemned the plan to bring more transmigrants, contending that the move would further marginalize the indigenous Papuan people. The association also expressed concern that competition between indigenous Papuans and the transmigrants could generate “horizontal conflicts” (communal disputes).

“The indigenous Papuan people have already become a minority in their own homeland. We strongly reject plans to bring in more transmigrants,” said Benyamin Lokobal, Jayapura chair PMKRI. If the government goes ahead with this plan, Lokobal said, his group would organize demonstrations in collaboration with other youth organizations in Papua.

The chairman of Catholic Youth in Jayapura, Kristian Bame warned that more transmigration had the potential to lead to land grabbing. He said that as of now, “the contribution of transmigrants in Papua is not at all apparent. On the contrary, their presence has only led to social jealousy.”

WPAT Comment: WPAT is collecting information on the rise in the formation and activity of ethnic/race based militias which it will present in an upcoming report. This militia formation, among transmigrants/migrants on the one hand and among Papuans on the other, is indicative of rising communal tensions which continued transmigration will only stoke.

Indonesian Government Covers Up Human Rights Abuse and Repression in West Papua

A joint report by the Faith-Based Network on West Papua, Franciscans International, Papua Land of Peace and the Asian Human Rights Commission concludes that the Indonesian government is tightening restrictions on journalists and non-governmental organizations which seek to cover developments in West Papua. The organizations contend that the Indonesian government has long restricted the number of foreign journalists granted permission to enter West Papua and write about the situation there. Those few reporters allowed to enter West Papua work under tight restrictions and were followed, according to the report.

The report points to recent departure of Peace Brigades International (PBI) and the Indonesian government’s refusal to allow the International Committee of The Red Cross (ICRC) to re-open its office there.

Kristina Neubauer speaking at a launch of the report in Padang Bulan said that the world at large knows nothing about Papua because the Indonesian government refuses to grant access to foreign journalists, to human rights activists and to other observers from outside Indonesia.”

Last October, Pacific Journalism Review published a Pacific Media Watch report on the region’s media freedoms, which reported Indonesian repression facing news media. WPAT’s Report for March 2012 also contained reporting on the Indonesian government’s continuing campaign to cover-up human rights abuse and repression in West Papua.

Security Forces Launch Crackdown, Sweeps in Serui District

West Papua Media reported April 23, that Indonesian security forces have launched a major sweep in Serui District on Yapen Island. The sweep reportedly targeted Papuans had engaged in a large, peaceful demonstration on April 20 which had been organized by the West Papua National Authority (WPNA) to welcome the apparent launch of a branch of the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP).

West Papua Media reported that armed Indonesian police and military conducted rolling raids on motorbikes across villages including Mantembu and surrounding hamlets outside of Serui town, seeking to arrest all those who were involved in the mass flying of the banned Morning Star independence flag.

An earlier April 20 report in the daily Jubi, translated by the UK-based Tapol, had noted that a large number of the banned Morning Star flags were flown by Papuans in peaceful demonstrations in Tanggal (Serui District) organized by the West Papua National Authority (WPNA). Aston Situmorang, a member of NGO Working Forum of Cenderawasih Bay, Serui, told local media that thousands of people had gathered to take part in the demonstration from all parts of Serui district.

According to Jubi, the local police chief had allowed the flags to be flown.

Shooting of Civilian Aircraft Raises Concern over New Sweep Operations by Security Forces

On April 8, an unknown shooter or shooters fired on a commercial Trigana twin otter aircraft landing at Mulia Airport in the troubled Puncak Jaya region of West Papua. One person was killed and four wounded. As a result of the incident, air transport to the region by four local carriers was suspended, creating serious hardship for local people who depend on the airlink.

The regional (Cenderawasih) Indonesian military commander quickly blamed the incident on the Papuan armed resistance, the Organizasi Papua Merdeka, the Papua Freedom Organization, or OPM.

The Head of Public Information Department at police headquarters Chief. Comm. Boy Rafli Amar similarly told media on April 9 that the suspect is member of a group which had committed similar acts some time ago. As is frequently the case, the claim that the OPM was responsible for the attack was offered with no proof and before any serious investigation could be carried out. Police accusations about a suspect were made before the police had developed the most basic information such as determining from what direction the shots had come.

An investigation by two commissioners of the Indonesian Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) also was unable to determine who was responsible, though they said that the perpetrator(s) were highly trained and were thought not to be regular police or military personnel. “Many security personnel have not been reporting to their units and that this should immediately be looked into,” said one commissioner.

The commissioners put the incident in a larger context: “Various forms of violence constitute an increasing number of records piling up from year to year, without clarity on the identity of perpetrators or the masterminds behind these attacks, which have robbed many people of their lives and injured scores of others.”

Several prominent Papuans have urged that Indonesian authorities not resort to the use of force as in the past. They argued that sweep operations, purportedly targeting the alleged perpetrators in various incidents do great harm to the local population. Indonesian security force sweeps regularly force innocent villagers to flee their homes, often to nearby forests where they suffer from lack of food, shelter and access to medical care.

According to an April 13 report in the daily Bintang Papua,  the co-ordinator of the Jaringan Damai Papua (JDP, Papuan Peace Network), Dr. Neles Tebay believes it is necessary to involve the OPM, not only in order to seek a way of preventing such events from happening again. He urged that “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” violence which only begets more violence.

Dr. Tebay also pointed out that there has been no transparency on the side of the security forces regarding the results of their investigations. “Were projectiles involved and if so, what kind of projectiles?”

(WPAT notes that such information could point to the identity of the shooters insofar as the OPM has a limited range of firearms and it was possible that others, possibly even members of the security forces themselves, might have been involved as been the case in other incidents.)

Fadel Alhamid, a member of the Papuan Customary Council, echoed Dr. Tebay’s concerns that violence should not be answered by violence. Alhamid added that nothing was yet known about who was responsible for the initial violence. The “security approach” was not the right way to improve the situation in Puncak Jaya. “A more persuasive approach is needed, and this requires the collaboration of all elements in society,” he said. “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 argued.

Political Prisoner Filep Karma Denied Urgent Medical Treatment

There is growing international concern over the health of Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma who is in urgent need of medical treatment for a colon disorder.

The Dutch NGO, Foundation Pro Papua, on April 22 wrote to the Indonesian health minister raising concern over Karma’s plight. The group noted in part that Karma, who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for his role in a peaceful demonstration, was examined recently by Indonesian physicians in Jayapura. They suspect that he has colon tumor and that he needs a colonoscopy and follow-up treatment. Because it is not possible to conduct a colonoscopy in West Papua the physicians referred him to a hospital in Jakarta. West Papua has long lacked even basic medical facilities and personnel.

Karma has not been transferred despite this referral because prison officials have refused to cover cost of his medical treatment and travel.

In an action alert, Amnesty International argues all medical costs for treatment of a prisoner at a hospital must be borne by the state, according to the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (Principle 24). Indonesian law (Regulation No. 32/1999 on Terms and Procedures on the Implementation of Prisoners’ Rights in Prisons) also requires all medical costs for treatment of a prisoner at a hospital be borne by the State.

WPAT notes that internationally, standard minimal standards regarding treatment of prisoners also were established by the “United Nations Congress on The Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders” held in Geneva in 1955 and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977.

Regarding medical treatment of prisoners, that resolution in article 22 states:

(2) Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.

In late February, in response to a petition filed by Freedom Now, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that Indonesia is violating international law by detaining Filep Karma and called for his immediate release.

see also ETAN writes on health care for Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma
New Organization Emerges to Support Local Papuans Facing Land Grabs Such as MIFEE

There is growing controversy over plans by the Indonesian government to convert a vast area of southern West Papua into an industrial agricultural zone. The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE)  is similar to industrial agricultural zones in northern Sumatra and West Kalimantan where local people have seen forests which have sustained them for many generations sacrificed to the interests of Indonesian and foreign corporations. The MIFEE plan is intended to convert over a million hectares of land belonging to local people of West Papua into industrialized plantation agriculture.

An extensive April 15 report in Tempo magazine describes extensive, ongoing conflicts between local people and over a dozen companies attempting to seize land long claimed by the indigenous groups. Tempo reports these conflicts have placed the whole MIFEE venture in doubt.

Promises to local peoples by the companies, including construction of facilities to aid them, protection of forest areas used by locals for hunting, and the involvement of organizations like Conservation International from Australia to ensure environmental protections have gone unfulfilled. A key problem in protecting the rights of the local inhabitants is the absence of any protection of customary rights in the Indonesian legal system. (The full Tempo report is available at http://tapol.gn.apc.org/reports/120415_Tempo_report.pdf)

A new report, An Agribusiness Attack in West Papua: Unravelling the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate,  is now out from awasMIFEE! (The report is currently available in English; a Bahasa Indonesia version is being prepared.)

The report says that MIFEE was “imposed on the Papuan people by the Indonesian government [and] can only serve to aggravate the problems faced by indigenous Papuans, many of whom have struggled since the 1960s for self-determination and against military violence and other investment projects such as the Freeport mine and BP gas project.”

Many of the large agribusiness conglomerates that are implementing MIFEE belong to “business leaders on Indonesia’s rich list, who are typically well connected to the military and political parties. Foreign corporations also have a stake in MIFEE, from Korea, Japan, China and Singapore.”

awasMIFEE! says it was formed as “an act of solidarity with the social and ecological struggles of the people of Merauke and elsewhere in West Papua.” In a statement that accompanied the report the organization explained:

We believe that it is important that people outside of West Papua also know what is happening in Merauke. However, information available about MIFEE can be confusing – much of it comes from different companies and government bodies, and each have their own way of describing the project that fits with their own interests and objectives.
By compiling information from different sources, such as reports from the villages affected, from NGOs and other groups, from Papuan, Indonesian and financial media, from local and national government, and from company websites, we have tried to unravel what MIFEE is likely to mean for the people of Merauke. We hope that a more coherent understanding of how this land grab is taking shape will be of interest to people who are interested in West Papua, in the defence of forests and forest peoples, in the struggles against agro-fuels and against the growth of industrialised agriculture.
Most of all we hope that this information can be the catalyst for action! Our initiative is independent, unconnected to the programs of any NGO, and we hope it can also be a source of inspiration.
The report An Agribusiness Attack in West Papua: Unravelling the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate is an attempt to give an overview of the situation in April 2012.

Indonesia to Face Quadrennial UN Human Rights Review in May

The UN’s Human Rights Commission will review human rights progress in Indonesia in May, All member states of the United Nations must regularly submit to the Universal Periodic Review. The Commission process accepts submissions regarding the status of human rights observance by those facing reviews from States and also from non-governmental organizations. While the deadline for NGO submissions to the process has passed, individual organizations may still make submission to their governments.

Documents from the upcoming 2012 review can be found here and from the 2008 of Indonesia are here.

WPAT Member Dr. Eben Kirksey Authors Book on West Papua

Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power by Dr. Eben Kirksey is now out from Duke University Press.

Eben Kirksey first went to West Papua, the Indonesian-controlled half of New Guinea, in 1998 as an exchange student. His later study of West Papua’s resistance to the Indonesian occupiers and the forces of globalization morphed as he discovered that collaboration, rather than resistance, was the primary strategy of this dynamic social movement. Accompanying indigenous activists to Washington, London, and the offices of the oil giant BP, Kirksey saw the revolutionaries’ knack for getting inside institutions of power and building coalitions with unlikely allies, including many Indonesians. He discovered that the West Papuans’ pragmatic activism was based on visions of dramatic transformations on coming horizons, of a future in which they would give away their natural resources in grand humanitarian gestures, rather than passively watch their homeland be drained of timber, gold, copper, and natural gas. During a lengthy, brutal occupation, West Papuans have harbored a messianic spirit and channeled it in surprising directions. Kirksey studied West Papua’s movement for freedom as a broad-based popular uprising gained traction from 1998 until 2008. Blending extensive ethnographic research with indigenous parables, historical accounts, and compelling narratives of his own experiences, he argues that seeking freedom in entangled worlds requires negotiating complex interdependencies.

Available in paperback ($25) and hardback ($75) from ETAN
( http://www.etan.org/resource/books.htm#B98 Kirksey) The Kindle edition ($9.95) can be bought from Amazon.com

Dr. Kirksey will be visiting Australia from May 16 through June 1st and is available to speak about Freedom in Entangled Worlds.

Back issues of West Papua Report

OPM to fly Morning Star flags for three days across West Papua

West Papua flag

JUBI, 3 May, 2012
The TPN/OPM [National Libration Army/Organisasi Papua Merdeka] is planning to fly Morning Star flags throughout the territory of West Papua for three days from 1 – 3 July this year, said Yusak Pakage, chairman of the Street Parliament . He said that the State of West Papua was proclaimed on 1 July 1969 but was disbanded  by Indonesia on the orders of President Soekarno when he proclaimed the People’s Three Commands (Trikora).
He went on to say that various institutions in West Papua such as the DPRP (Provincial Leislative Assembly), the chief of police and the MRP (Papuan People’s Council) have been notified of this plan. as well as church leaders, student organisatons and the Governor of Papua, along with a statement of their views.’Flags will be flown for three days and the authorities will be notified. We will seek assurances regarding the security situation from the chief of police and the armed forces,’ said Pakage. He went on to say that they hoped that no one would become victims during these events.Pakage also expressed the hope that everyone now living in the Cenderawasih Homeland, indigenous Papuans as well as migrants, would preserve an atmoshere of harmony and avoid being provoked by issues spread by irresponsible sources. ‘We hope that there will be no loss of life during this event.’

Flags will be flown in public places around midday  for three days running. He added that the TPN/OPM would guard the streets where the Morning Star flags are being flown.

‘The aim of this plan it to remind people that we continue to exist,’ said Pakage.

When the head of the public relations office of the Papua Police was asked whether he could confirm this plan, he said he was unaware of  it. ‘I will check later on. At the moment, I am in a meeting,’ he said briefly.

[Translated by TAPOL]

Police urged to investigate the shooting death of Papuan student on 1 May.

JUBI, 2 May 2012A Papuan human rights activist has called on the police  to thoroughly investigate the killing of  a Papuan student.in Port Numbay on 1 May.

Theo Karoba (26) was studying at the High School of Economics and was a resident at the students hostel.  He was shot while attending a demonstration organised by the KNPB, the National Committee for West Papua, to commemorate 1 May which is known in West Papua as Annexation Day.

Human rights activist Mstius Murib said that it was essential for the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the killing and to identify the person who shot him dead and why he had done so.  He pointed out that the incident occurred in the centre of Jayapura and many people had witnessed the incident.

‘The person who shot Karoba must be identified and his name made public.He should not be allowed to disappear  and become yet another ‘unknown person’ OTK.’  [Many lethal shooting incidents which have resulted in  the deaths of Papuans  have never been investigated and are simply described as the work of ‘unknown persons’.]

Murib said that he had made inquiries with friends of the victim, many of whom saw what happened. Some of them said that they believed that a member of the security forces was responsible for the shooting. ‘It would certainly be easy for the police to get to the bottom of this incident.,’ said Murib,’

‘The person must be identified and this should not be allowed to become a mystery. It did not occur up the mountains or somewhere in a dense forest. If it had happened in such a place, then indeed, it would certainly be difficult to investigate,’ said Murib.

[Translated by TAPOL]

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