Obamacopters Give West Papuans Another Reason to Worry

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission from http://truth-out.org/news/item/11169-obamacopters-give-west-papuans-another-reason-to-worry

West Papua Media assisted in the research for this article.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

By Philip Jacobson, Truthout

An AH-64 Apache attack helicopter hovers before takeoff from Balad Air Base, Iraq, Jan. 3, 2008.An AH-64 Apache attack helicopter hovers before takeoff from Balad Air Base, Iraq, January 3, 2008. (Photo: Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr. / US Air Force)

There has been talk of an arms deal between the United States and Indonesia. Reportedly on the table are eight Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters. These are top-of-the-line attack machines, the best in their class.

The exact status of the deal is unclear, but all indications are that both Boeing and Indonesia have pushed things as far as they can and that the ball on whether to move forward with discussions is somewhere in the US government’s court.

For American officials, the presumable cause for concern is the political fallout that could arise from permitting this kind of exchange with Indonesia, as its military is infamous for atrocities committed against the country’s own people.

But the Americans must also be weighing the benefits the deal would bring. Not only would Indonesia upgrade its aging arsenal and Boeing make up for business it is losing as the US cuts defense spending, but President Obama would come that much closer to fulfilling his pledge to double exports by 2015.

For the black Melanesian people of West Papua, too, the deal would seem to matter greatly. The region, Indonesia’s easternmost, is one of the most militarized places in the world[1]. Since the 1960s, Indonesia has maintained a continuous security presence there, ostensibly to counter a low-level separatist insurgency. It has also carried out a number of full-scale military campaigns, for the same reason. Indonesia is a land of incredible natural diversity, with hundreds of ethnic groups and languages spread across thousands of islands, and since it became independent in 1945, a fracturing of the unitary state has been what the country’s nationalist leaders, the vast majority of whom are Javanese, fear most.

Since Indonesia annexed it in 1969, resource-rich West Papua has always been at odds with the central government. The region is unique in that it is the only place in the country subject to a virtual media blackout, with foreign journalists effectively barred from working there[2]. Despite the restrictions, however, reports of human rights abuses by the security forces filter out frequently.

Last winter, the Army and police concluded Operation Annihilate Matoa[3], a massive joint offensive in the remote central highlands. According to reports by West Papua Media, an independent outlet headquartered in Australia that draws from a network of trained West Papuan journalists, Indonesian troops in search of Free Papua Movement (OPM) commander Jhon Yogi forcibly evacuated more than 130 villages, torched countless homes and killed dozens of civilians.

The operation also involved crude helicopter attacks. Using commercial helicopters borrowed from an Australian gold mining company, troops perched in the sky threw tear gas and grenades, poured fuel onto the hamlets below, and strafed them with machine-gun fire.[3a]

Clean Sweep

The Apache deal first came to light in February when Indonesia’s state news agency, Antara, reported that the parties only still needed to hammer out a purchase plan. The article, titled “Indonesia to buy Apache helicopters from US,” sourced the Deputy Defense Minister, Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin[4a]. It gave the impression that the transaction was all but a certainty.

If so, it was only Boeing’s latest Indonesian score. Last November, the plane maker secured the largest deal in its history when Indonesia’s Lion Air, a private carrier, agreed to pay $21.7 billion for 230 Boeing Dreamliner jets. To win the contract, Boeing had fended off Europe’s Airbus, its main rival in the commercial aircraft sector. It was a big victory and not just for Boeing, but also for Obama, who has worked hard to make US firms more competitive internationally in order to boost jobs at home.

And not only did Obama, presiding over the signing ceremony in Bali, beam as executives from Boeing and Lion Air consummated the agreement – “This is an example of how we are going to achieve the long-term goals I set of doubling our exports over the next several years,” he said at the event – he also claimed to have helped broker the sale. “The US administration and the [Export-Import Bank] in particular were critical in facilitating [it],” he said.[4b]

Shortly after Antara broke the Apache story, the nonprofits East Timor Action Network and West Papua Advocacy Team formulated a mass letter to Congress asking it to oppose the sale of the helicopters. Signed by 90 organizations, the letter cited the Indonesian military’s (TNI) “long record of disregard for civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations and impunity.”[4] The Apaches, it stated, would “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’ involve attacks on villages,” it continued. “Homes are destroyed, along with churches and public buildings. These assaults, purportedly to eliminate the poorly armed Papuan 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.”

Nick Chesterfield, WPM’s founding editor, elaborated further. “Sweep operations are anything but benign,” he wrote in an email. “They involve house to house searches, entire villages of people being captured, hogtied and brutally interrogated. It is what [convicted American war criminal] William Calley called a ‘search and contain’ which is usually ‘search and destroy’.”


Could Obama’s people have helped orchestrate the Apache deal, just as he claimed they did with the Dreamliners? Press officials at the US Embassy in Jakarta, at the US Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) in Huntsville, Alabama, and at Boeing Defense would not comment substantively on the matter[5].

Given what is known about how US policymakers promote American weapons exports, though, it seems not unlikely. On August 2, Andrew Shapiro, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, boasted to military reporters about the government’s role in producing record-high arms sales abroad. “We’ve really upped our game in terms of advocating on behalf of US companies,” he said. “I’ve got the frequent-flyer miles to prove it.”[6]

It was hardly a revelation. Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks had already confirmed that, as Fortune magazine put it, “in backdoor dealings with other nations, American officials acted as de facto pitchmen for US-made weapons.” One 2009 wire from Brasilia describes how a US diplomat urged Brazil to buy American jets, noting that “the charge reiterated and deepened advocacy points … calling a decision to select the US bid an accelerator for an already growing US-Brazil military and commercial relationship’.”[7]

With Boeing, furthermore, Obama’s political ties run deep, his interests increasingly parallel. The National Export Initiative is a pillar of Obama’s economic recovery plan; Boeing is America’s largest exporter. Boeing’s CEO and Chairman, James McNerney, chairs the President’s Export Council; Obama appointed him in 2011. Several Boeing lobbyists – Tony Podesta, Oscar Ramirez, Linda Daschle – are close Obama allies. Recently, Obama succeeded in reauthorizing the contentious Ex-Im Bank; the institution, which channels by far the largest portion of its loan guarantees to Boeing’s benefit, is often derided as “Boeing’s Bank.”[8]

Indonesia has been an Obama prerogative, too. Export.gov, the web site his administration set up to help American companies export their products, christened the country a “national priority” for US firms. That goes for military as well as commercial fare: the same site trumpets “the US Pavilion at Indo Defence 2012,” an upcoming trade expo in which American defense companies can “find new opportunities in one of the hottest markets in the world.”

It isn’t just Obama and Boeing that want a piece of Indonesia’s weapons market. In April, British Prime Minister David Cameron made his own trip to Jakarta, a crew of defense company executives in tow. It had been more than a decade since Britain had imposed an arms embargo on Indonesia – a response to allegations that British-built Hawk aircraft had been used to bomb civilians in East Timor – and now he was calling for exports to resume. “We have to be honest and straightforward about the problems in the past,” Cameron told Kompas Daily ahead of his arrival in Jakarta. “But both Britain and Indonesia have made significant changes since then.”[9]


For a long time, the US provided Indonesia with military equipment. This came to a halt after 1991, when Indonesian troops armed with US-made M16 rifles gunned down more than 270 civilians in East Timor[10]. Following that, the US began imposing various restrictions on arms sales with Indonesia. These became most stringent in 1999 as the violence in East Timor reached a peak.

Under the Bush and Obama administrations, those ties were gradually restored. In 2006, Bush lifted all restrictions on military exports to Indonesia, citing the need for its cooperation in the War on Terror. In 2010, Obama removed the last barrier to normal relations when he did away with the ban on assistance to Indonesia’s notorious special forces, Kopassus. The Pentagon press secretary was quoted at the time as saying, “Clearly, [Kopassus] had a very dark past, but they have done a lot to change that.”[11]

Activists begged to differ. Sophie Richardson, a director at Human Rights Watch, said the administration’s stated criteria for resuming interactions with Kopassus were “far from adequate” and that anyway they were not being met. “It’s hard to see the [US] administration’s decision as anything other than a victory for abusive militaries worldwide,” she said[12].

HRW has similarly condemned the Apache sale. Elaine Pearson, another HRW director, said the TNI had shown “complete intransigence” over calls for accountability. “These are lethal killing machines. I am very concerned,” she said in an interview, referring to the Apaches. “Indonesia hasn’t lived up to its human rights commitments. If you have soldiers captured on video and they are not prosecuted, [a sale like this] sends exactly the wrong message.”

Pearson was referring to one of the more high-profile TNI abuse stories of late: a video depicting Indonesian soldiers torturing a Papuan man as they question him over the whereabouts of a stash of weapons. After the “graphic and distressing footage,” to quote an anchor from Britain’s Channel 4 news, went viral in 2010, the incident made headlines across the world. “The Indonesian government has worked hard to clean up the image of its military since the excesses of the war in East Timor,” Channel 4 reporter Kylie Morris said during the segment. “But these images tell a different story.” At one point in the video, you can hear the man scream as the soldiers torch his genitals with a burning stick.[13]

The incident was only one among the latest wave of savage acts by the security forces in the region. Last October, six bodies were found after military and police cracked down with their guns on the Third Papuan People’s Congress, in which local leaders and tribal representatives declared West Papua’s independence[14]. In June, more Papuans were killed after soldiers from TNI Battalion 756 rampaged through Honai Lama village, in retaliation for an earlier attack by an angry mob on a pair of soldiers who, while riding a motorcycle, had allegedly hit a small child.

William Hartung, director of the Arms Resource Center at the World Policy Institute, said the Apache sale should be stopped. “Given the Indonesian government’s record of attacks on civilians in West Papua, there is a significant possibility that the helicopters would be used for this purpose,” Hartung wrote in an email. “Selling offensive weapons to a country that may use them in systematic human rights abuses violates the spirit of U.S. law. More importantly, it is immoral. It is unacceptable for a democracy to act in this fashion.”

Others questioned Indonesia’s need for Apache helicopters. “I don’t know why Indonesia really needs these things,” said Jeff Abramson, a director at Control Arms. Pearson suggested one reason Indonesia might want them was because its neighbors Singapore and Malaysia had them. But those countries aren’t known for the types of abuses Indonesia is, she said. “Why Apaches?” she asked. “There is a whole lot of other military assistance the US could give them. Australia is providing Hercules [transport] aircraft, for example.”

The Apache’s night vision capacity would be of particular use in sweep operations, said Edmund McWilliams, Charge d’Affairs” (Chief of Mission) to Tajikstan, who now works with ETAN. Chesterfield agreed. “The Apaches are designed for night operations and deep penetration of forest areas through remote sensing and are designed to find human beings in hostile environments – fast,” he wrote. “They are able to go into an area that traditional ground troops, even special forces – would have a hard time getting to.”

The TNI now commands eight Russian-built Hind attack helicopters, but in nearly every respect the Apaches are much more powerful machines, Chesterfield said. “They more manoeuvrable than Hinds, can turn on smaller footprints, are quieter and are equipped with less rigid cannon which can pivot in any direction. They can deliver a wide variety of munitions, much wider than the Hind,” he wrote, adding: “The Apaches would be a whole new ballgame.”

Bad Memories

During the NATO summit in May, anti-war demonstrators marched on Chicago-based Boeing’s corporate headquarters. Calling Boeing a “war machine that produces war machines,” the crowd held a “die-in” outside its office, then took the protest to Obama’s campaign headquarters.

In response, Boeing spokesman John Dern said the company takes pride in its work. “We wish and hope that people understand what we do,” Dern told CBS News. “We understand that they are upset with us for whatever reason. Having said that, to the extent that we have a role in protecting our troops – protecting the people who are protecting all of us – that’s something we’re proud of and our employees are proud of.”

In a recent issue of Boeing Frontiers, the company’s monthly magazine, a worker at Boeing’s Mesa site, where Apaches are produced, expressed a similar sentiment. “Just to hear those things fly above … It gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride to know you had a hand in something that was worthwhile,” said Ramon Pena Jr., an electrical engineer and mechanical assembler who has spent 26 years working on the Apache.

Asked how he felt about the Apaches, the Papuan exile and independence activist Benny Wenda also recalled military aircraft flying overhead, although in a starkly different light. In 1977, when Wenda was a small child, the Indonesian armed forces undertook aerial bombing raids over the central highlands and most of his family was killed.

Things haven’t changed much, he said.

“I’m worried Indonesia will misuse [the Apaches],” he said by phone from Britain. “They are killing their own people. There is no threat. Who do they want to invade? Papua New Guinea? Australia? They are paranoid in this situation. I hope they don’t send this.”

[1] In 2009, James Page, Syafuan Rozi Soebhan and Jeremy Peterman wrote, “It has been suggested that the region is now the most militarized area in the world, with one security person for every 100 citizens, compared to the situation in Iraq, with one security person for every 140 citizens.” See also a recent Jakarta Post editorial: “There is no official data available on the number of security personnel in Papua, but it is estimated that some 16,000 Indonesian Military (TNI) troops are stationed in Papua. If combined with the police, roughly at the same staffing levels as the TNI, there are over 30,000 security personnel on duty in the province. The figure excludes hundreds of intelligence officers deployed there.”

[2] Foreign journalists cannot enter West Papua, unless pre-approved by a slow, bureaucratic process from the Ministry of Information. Even after approval, journalists are always accompanied by a government minder. Only three foreign journalists were allowed access to West Papua in 2011. See Perrottet, A. and Robie, D. (2011). “Pacific media freedom 2011: A status report.” Pacific Journalism Review.

[3] Matoa stands for the sweet fruit one finds in West Papua, a symbol of the region,p.208.

[3a] See here and here.

[4] “Groups Urge US Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia.”

[4a] See here.

[4b] See here.

[5]Hal Klopper, head of international communications at Boeing Defense, Space & Security, wrote in an email: “I can tell you that Boeing is aware of Indonesia’s interest in the Apache and would support the US Army if it chooses to move forward with discussions. Since this would be handled as a Foreign Military Sale, all questions should (be) directed to the US Army for comment.” The contact he provided, AMCOM press specialist Sophia Bledsoe, however, declined to comment: “I checked with our International Apache folks and they said that we’re not in a position to discuss any detail in this potential case and don’t have the proper approvals related,” she wrote in an email. So did Philip Roskamp, assistant press attaché at the US Embassy in Jakarta: “At this time, the Embassy has no comment,” he wrote.

[6] According to Shapiro, US arms sales as of July 27 had already surpassed $50 billion in fiscal 2012, a jump of at least two-thirds over last year’s total of $30 billion. The biggest contributor to the increase has been a record $29.4 billion sale to Saudi Arabia of up to 84 advanced Boeing Co F-15 fighter jets. Among the deals still at play were a potential $1.4 billion sale of Apache helicopters to India. There was also Brazil, where Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet is competing with the Rafale fighter built by France’s Dassault for a multibillion-dollar defense contract. With regards to the latter, Shapiro said, “We’re eager to make the best possible case for the Boeing aircraft and we’re hopeful that it will be selected.” “US government advocacy said boosting foreign arms sales” July 27, Andrea Shalal-Esa.

[7] See here.

[8] “In fiscal 2009, Ex-Im guaranteed $8.4 billion of loans to benefit Boeing, an astounding 90 percent of all of its loan guarantees. This past fiscal year, according to a recent annual report, Boeing won $6.4 billion in Ex-Im loan guarantees, 63 percent of the total.””Boeing lives by big government, dies by big government,” Washington Examiner, 24 April 2011, Timothy Carney.

[9] “David Cameron calls for U.K. arms sales to Indonesia,” Nicholas Watt, The Guardian UK, 11 April 2012.

[10] “The Santa Cruz Massacre sparked the international solidarity movement for East Timor, including the founding of the East Timor Action Network and was the catalyst for Congressional action to stem the flow of US weapons and other military assistance for Indonesia’s brutal security forces. Ali Alatas, former foreign minister of Indonesia, called the massacre a “turning point,” which set in motion the events leading to East Timor’s coming independence.”

[11] “US Lifts Ban on Indonesian Special Forces Unit,” 22 July 2010, Elisabeth Bumiller and Norimitsu Onishi.

[12] See here.

[13] See here.

[14] Octovianus Pogau, a prominent West Papuan blogger, provides a firsthand account of the crackdown.

PHILIP JACOBSON is a journalist with the Jakarta Globe, an English-language newspaper in Indonesia.

WEST PAPUA: ABC report raises questions for region’s leaders

by Alex Perrottet / Pacific Media Watch

A photo provided to West Papua Media Alerts after the violence at the Abepura dormitory yesterday. Photo: West Papua Media Alerts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Item: 8075

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Fresh allegations of human rights violations in West Papua implicating Australia on ABC’s 7:30 Report series this week have opened up multiple questions for leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum on Rarotonga.

As new reports have emerged from West Papua Media Alerts of new violence at a school dormitory in Abepura, the 7:30 Report series – screened on Monday and Tuesday nights – shone new lights on the ongoing accusation that the Australian government is responsible for the training and financing of the anti-terrorist group Detachment 88, or Densus 88, as it is known in Indonesia.

The group was originally trained to combat terrorism in Indonesia following the deadly bombing in Bali in October 2002, which claimed 88 Australian lives.

But in recent months media reports have spread, mainly from West Papua Media Alerts, that the anti-terrorist group was being deployed in the provinces of Papua and West Papua, supressing insurgents as well as peaceful demonstrators.

Presence confirmed
The ABC interviewed Constant Karma, who is the secretary of the province of Papua. He said: “I don’t really know about West Papua but in the Papuan Police (Polda Papua) there [is] also Detachment 88 on duty.”

Apart from the reports from within West Papua by reporters Hayden Cooper and Lisa Main, ABC presenter Leigh Sales put questions to Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who confirmed the Australian government had raised its concerns with human rights abuses in the two West Papuan regional provinces as recently as earlier this month.

Senator Carr said the Australian training included training in respecting human rights, but the ABC reports featured a number of eye-witnesses to violence in West Papua at the hands of police as well as Detachment 88 troops, including in the recent killing of independence leader Mako Tabuni.

Senator Carr told the ABC: “We train Indonesians in counter-terrorism. We do that because it’s in Australia’s interest. We do it because we want the Indonesians to have a strong, a formidable, anti-terrorist capacity. It is absolutely in Australia’s interests that we have this relationship.

“But we don’t train them in counter-insurgency – it’s counter-terrorism.”

‘No distinction’
However, the ABC also sought comment from the Australian Federal Police, which made this admission in their responses:

“Detachment 88 is a specialist counter terrorism unit within the Indonesian National Police, however it should be noted that Indonesian law does not differentiate between terrorism, separatism and insurgency.”

In response to the reports, political parties and human rights groups have released statements urging leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum to take notice.

The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, based in Vanuatu, said the violence was nothing new.

“Violence has always been Indonesia’s policy regarding the land of Papua over the past 49 years. Being an occupying power, violence is their only means of enforcing their authority in the Papuan society,” said spokespersons Rex Rumakiek, Dr John Ondowame and Andy Ayamiseba.

“For almost half a century since Indonesia annexed West Papua, our people have been subjected to terror and trauma.”

Political reaction
The Democratic Labor Party in Australia said the situation was “genocide happening on our doorstep”.

Senator John Madigan and Democratic Labor Party federal secretary Mark Farrell said: “Indonesia is not being transparent with the Australian people or the Australian government.

“It is difficult to understand how the government of a democratic country like Australia can ignore the oppressive behaviour of a neighbouring country.”

The Green Party of Australia also voiced their concern, with Senator Richard Di Natale drawing comparisons with East Timor.

“Australians are now becoming more aware of these atrocities being committed on their doorstep,” he said.

“They know what happened in East Timor under Indonesian rule and they know that we, as a nation, cannot sit idly by while it occurs again in West Papua.”

Joe Collins of the Australian West Papua Association said the PIF should take up the Indonesian government’s offer to encourage research and balanced journalism by sending a fact-finding mission from the Forum.

He also encouraged Pacific leaders to raise the matter with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“The Leaders’ retreat is supposed to provide an opportunity for private and frank discussions at the highest level and we hope that the PIF leaders will question Julia Gillard on Australia’s involvement in the training of Detachment 88 which is accused of targeting West Papuan activists,” he said.

“We also hope that concern for the situation in West Papua will be mentioned in the official Forum communiqué”.

The Democratic Labor Party statement also argued for observers to visit.

“If Indonesia is seriously expecting us to believe it is not engaged in the oppression of the West Papuan people then they must allow human rights observers and international journalists in to the country.”

The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation is pushing for more, calling on the Melanesian Spearhead Group, the PIF, as well as the US, the UK, the European Union and others “to sponsor a resolution at the UNGA(United Nations General Assembly) to re-inscribe West Papua on the UN List for Decolonisation.

“We also call on MSG and PIF to admit the West Papuan Independence Movement as an observer of these bodies as a sure way of encouraging peaceful solution to the conflict.”

One confirmed dead
The violence in Abepura yesterday was confirmed by West Papua Media Alerts, who reported one student being killed, and others badly wounded.

The news agency said the violence was carried out at the Liborang Asrama (dormitory) by a joint force of Army (TNI) and Police.

“The students were allegedly targeted because they come from the same tribal group as many members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), who have been consistently engaging in peaceful civil resistance in protest at the increasing terror tactics of the Indonesian security forces, which has escalated significantly since May 2012.”

West Papua Media Alerts confirmed today that 35 people had been arrested and 11 remained in custody after being subjected to beatings and torture.

The Indonesian embassy in Canberra, in response to questions from the ABC said the government was taking action.

The statement said the loss of life “is regrettable and is receiving attention from the Indonesian people, the media, and the President of the Republic of Indonesia himself”.

“The Indonesian government has taken steps to restore law-enforcement in the Papuan provinces.”

Just how it is doing that is the focus of the media attention that West Papua is receiving, and as in previous years, the Pacific Islands Forum is so far remaining silent on the issue.

Police torture students after brutal attack on Abepura university dormitory

Scores beaten, arrested, tortured and injured in major raid by Indonesian Police, Army and allegedly Australian Funded counterterror unit Detachment 88 on Yakuhimo Dormitory at Cenderawasih University, Abepura.

by West Papua Media

August 28, 2012

URGENT CORRECTION: Despite robust processes of cross-checking, armed attacks by security forces on civilians sometimes creates confusion on casualty figures.  NEW information has come to hand in the clear light of day, and two confirming witnesses have retracted their confirmation early Wednesday morning.  Only 1 person, Yalli Walilo, is confirmed dead, and he died after being set upon by a group of men believed to be transmigrants or plain clothes intelligence.  The other two victims were part of the group that received significant torture at the hands of police, but it is now NOT independently confirmed if these people are dead or severely injured.  More info as it becomes available.  West Papua Media apologises for the distribution of erroneous information.

(Jayapura)  Brutal scenes occurred at a highland students dormitory in Abepura early on Sunday night (26 August) as a massive assault was carried out on  students from the Liborang Asrama (dormitory)  by a joint force of Army (TNI) and Police.

The students were allegedly targeted because they come from the same tribal group as many members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), who have been consistently engaging in peaceful civil resistance in protest at the increasing terror tactics of the Indonesian security forces, which has escalated significantly since May 2012..

1 person been independently confirmed by West Papua Media sources as killed, and at least two are believed but not confirmed to have died from torture wounds inflicted in custody by police, according to human rights sources.  35 people were arrested, and 11 people remain in custody at time of writing undergoing significant and brutal beatings, and acts of torture.

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Independent human rights sources have alleged that the torture has been carried out by members of Detachment 88, the counter-terror unit funded, armed and trained by the Australian Government, however West Papua Media has not been able to verify this, although D88 has been present at every other dormitory raid this year.

According to credible witnesses the trouble began when a man named Yalli Walilo (26) was calling a friend in front of a shop and the Indonesian transmigrant owner of the shop came and angry him.  Walilo replied to  the colonist “what is my problem, i just want to buy (a) cigarette”.  He then sought refuge at the house of Ms. Nehemia Mabel, a member of the Majelis Rakyat Papua (Papuan People’s Assembly), 5 metres from the shop.  Walilo then tried to go home, when he was brutally set upon by a group of Indonesian transmigrants with one killing him, and more people again came to kick him until he was dead.

The exact circumstances of how police came to be involved is still unclear, but after Walilio’s killing, the Kepala Desa (neighbourhood chief) came and took his body to the Limborang dormitory.  Police were alerted by the Kepala Desa amid confusing allegations surround the death of an elderly man who died from a heart attack.  It is unconfirmed if these deaths were related.

At around 10 pm, Some of Walilo’s friends at the dormitory went to investigate the commotions at the shop, but were ambushed by the large group of transmigrants outside the shop.  The students retreated to their dormitory, known also as the Yakuhimo Asrama as large numbers of Yakuhimo highland students live there.

One hour later, Police and many troops arrived en masse at the dorm and attacked boarders without negotiations, and also severely beat of minors.  Independent witnesses have claimed that men in masks were also present.

Victor Yeimo, KNPB Chairman, told West Papua Media that many students in Asrama Liborang had “already been killed, intimidated and terrorised under Indonesian police troops yesterday (27/08). This morning, I have been in the place and I found how Indonesian police kill and intimidate them. I was there while some of them arrived from Papua Police in Jayapura and we have interview some victims and the chief (spokesperson) of the Students”.

According to Yeimo many police and troops began attacking the Asrama Liborang with tear gas and water cannon (fire hoses?)  inside at 11.00 PM on Sunday night.  Police stormed the building and smashed up facilities inside and arrested, and tormented the students, according to both Yeimo and other independent witnesses.

Yeimo alleged that the “Police talked to them and relate them (make threats to them) about the killing of Mako Tabuni (on June 14) . Police blamed them as being friends of Mako Tabuni.”

On Tuesday evening, Australian ABC television program “7.30 Report” aired an investigation into Mako Tabuni’s killing by Detachment 88, and the intensifying repression of peaceful political free expression by West Papuan activists seek an end to violence and impunity, and a referendum on the disputed territory’s future.  The Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, has conceded Detachment 88 is being used on non-violent activists, and has claimed it is acting outside its mandate.

The victims names (at time of writing) are confirmed as:

1. Alex Sambom (Fractured Skull by police. Strangled around neck with metal chains. and repeatedly electrocuted in custody, in critical condition)
2. Usman Ambolon ( Killed after beatings in the head with lacerations and severe contusion)
3. Petru Lintamon ( Police kicked his eyes and head, shot dead with gun)
4. Yaton Lintamon ( Police beat him to death with rubber mallet)
5. Septinus Kabak (Fingernails removed with pliers at the police office)
6. Orgenes Kabak (Beaten severely in stomach, internal injuriess)
7. Awan Kabak (Police stabbed him with bayonets in the leg and thigh)
8. Other Victims to still be identified

More photos, video and information as it becomes processed/translated and available.


Carr must do more on West Papua: Greens



The Australian Greens call on the Government to urge Indonesia to put an end to the violence in West Papua, and commend journalists from the ABC’s 7.30 program who entered the region undercover recently. Their work shines a spotlight on the ongoing abuses of human and democratic rights that are occurring in West Papua, only some 200km to the north of Australia.

“The Australian Government has known full well for some time of the atrocities going on in West Papua, but has chosen to turn a blind eye,” Australian Greens Leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, said.

“The ABC exposé means Minister Carr no longer has any excuse not to pick up the phone to his Indonesian counterpart and get some answers about what dialogue Indonesian government is having with West Papuan representatives.”

“Along with many Australians, I am very alarmed by the bloodshed of recent months, which adds to the fear experienced by the West Papuan people over many decades of Indonesian rule over their lands,” said Senator Richard Di Natale, Greens spokesperson for West Papua.

“The 7.30 program has managed to gather important coverage of the current situation there, despite considerable restrictions on journalists entering the region. It is crucial that journalists and human rights monitors are allowed access to West Papua.

“Australians are now becoming more aware of these atrocities being committed on their doorstep. They know what happened in East Timor under Indonesian rule and they know that we, as a nation, cannot sit idly by while it occurs again in West Papua.

“The Greens call on Foreign Minister Bob Carr to advocate for a new dialogue between the Indonesian government and representatives of the Papuan people. The indigenous people of West Papua should have the opportunity to decide democratically their own future in accordance with international standards of human rights and the principles of international law.”

“West Papua is a chance for Australia to show real leadership. It is a chance for us to show that we will stand up for the values of peace and democracy we so readily espouse.”

The Greens will introduce a Senate motion during the next sitting period that will call of Minister Carr to raise concerns over human rights abuses with the Indonesian Foreign Minister and request access for human rights monitors and foreign journalists.

The Greens have called on the Australian government to consider its military links to Indonesia and suspend all ties while violence continues, attributed to Indonesian security forces acting with impunity. We cannot stand idly by while this conflict escalates and human rights are being abused on our doorstop.


Father John Dhonga: ‘Level of violence in Papua is getting worse’


Bintang Papua, 24 August, 2012
Father John Djonga has been living and working in the district of Keerom  and is now leaving West Papua and is handing over hist post to Father Ronnie Guntur.On his departure, he reflected on the situation in West Papua where he has been living and working for twelve years.. He spoke about the links he had made during his stay – with the government, with the  military, with the traditional leaders, with the religious leaders and with the people, and spoke warmly about the  support he had received.

He spoke about some development projects that are under way and said that basic problems  continue to exist. He said that in many parts of the territory and particularly in the interior where the indigenous people live, the situation with regard to education and health is very  worrying indeed.

‘These are matters of crucial importance for the dignity and welfare of the people. The issues of justice and equality also are very pressing indeed. ‘These are matters for which the government is responsible,’ he said.

With regard to economic problems, he said that people are losing their means of  livelihood. The forests are being cut down whereas agricultural activities have not  developed which means that the local people are not involved in any productive activities and all the productive work there is benefiting  a small group of people who have been responsible for cutting down the forests and selling off the  land of the people.

He also expressed his concern about the level of violence that is occurring and said that far from this declining it has increased. ‘Both sides, the government apparatus and the people resort to violence to resolve their problems. This never solves anything,’ he said. ‘On the contrary, it only complicates things.’

The people living in Keerom live in a constant state of fear and anxiety . There is no trust at all between the two sides, and the people live in a state of trauma  because of the presence of the Indonesian military in every kampung. ‘This does nothing to  improve relations; on the contrary, it only makes things worse.’

He said that traditional customs were declining and the availability of spiritual support is getting less and less. There are growing discrepancies and injustices between people of the different communities and this represents  a great challenge  to the need for mutual harmony and respect between the communities.

[Translated by TAPOL]


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