7.30 Report (ABC): West Papua arrests highlight Australian Detachment 88 links

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 04/10/2012

Reporter: Hayden Cooper

An Australian-funded police unit in West Papua has again been implicated in a crackdown on the region’s independence movement.

(Note:  Syndicated here as this story was produced by ABC with the assistance of West Papua Media, after we originally broke this story at https://westpapuamedia.info/2012/10/01/wamena-arrests-as-australian-funded-anti-terror-troops-conduct-raid-amid-increasing-repression-on-knpb-political-activists/ )


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: An Australian funded counter-terrorism unit in West Papua is facing new accusations of abusing its power in the troubled Indonesian province.

The notorious squad known as Detachment 88 has launched a fresh crackdown on independence activists, in the wake of an expose by this program in August.

Eight men have been detained and accused of bomb-making.

Separatist leaders claim the explosives were planted and they’ve been framed to justify the squad’s activities.

Hayden Cooper has this report.

HAYDEN COOPER, REPORTER: Jayapura, West Papua is a city marred by violence and tension, where independence leaders have been arrested, beaten, killed. And where police have been confronted by unruly and angry demonstrations.

When 7.30 travelled to the province in August, the crackdown on the independence movement was already severe, resulting in several deaths, including of this man, independence leader Mako Tabuni, shot in this street, witnesses say, by the Australian trained and funded police unit Detachment 88.

ERSON WENDA, RELATIVE (last month, voiceover translation): Clearly, it was them who killed him because we saw them shoot him and take him to their hospital.

HAYDEN COOPER: Since then, the crackdown has worsened. Victor Yeimo succeeded Tabuni as leader of the West Papuan National Committee, KNPB. This week, he sent this video to 7.30.

VICTOR YEIMO, CHAIRMAN, KNPB: We are the non-violent activists in West Papua. We will fight for our right of freedom according to the peaceful means in West Papua. We demand our right of self-determination to a referendum to be held in West Papua by UN peacefully and democratically.

HAYDEN COOPER: But the Indonesian authorities don’t believe his claim of non-violence and they’re pursuing KMPB like never before. In June, Indonesian soldiers went on a rampage in the highlands town and KNPB stronghold of Wamena, and now in a new development, police have raided the homes and offices of KNPB members in the area. Last weekend eight were arrested and witnesses say once again Detachment 88 was involved.

VICTOR YEIMO: When they arrest the KNPB brothers in Wamena, we saw Detachment 88 with one car, and another car with police, joined in by TNI.

HAYDEN COOPER: Indonesian police accuse the eight KNPB members arrested of making bombs and claim to have found explosives during the raid. Victor Yeimo rejects that and says his group is being framed as terrorists to justify Detachment 88’s presence.

VICTOR YEIMO: This is how Indonesia is now making a scenario with the terrorist issue in West Papua. As you know that in West Papua we never know how to make a bomb, how to create bomb.

HAYDEN COOPER: Some international observers and West Papuan advocates back that view

CAMMI WEBB-GANNON, SYDNEY UNI: I don’t think that the KNPB has any reason to be making bombs because they believe in a peaceful approach to pursuing independence. They want a referendum on independence in West Papua.

HAYDEN COOPER: In West Papua the Institute for Human Rights Advocacy, known as ELSHAM, has studied the arrests and suspects the explosives recovered by police were part of an elaborate set-up.

CAMMI WEBB-GANNON: They don’t have the capacity to gain the materials, so ELSHAM has actually said that the materials were probably planted in the KMPB members’ houses where they found the explosives and that’s not an unusual thing for security forces to do.

HAYDEN COOPER: The weekend raids follow the appointment of a new police chief in Papua, Brigadier General Tito Karnavian. His background as the former head of Detachment 88 generates serious unease among some Papuans, despite his assurances of a new inclusive approach.

CAMMI WEBB-GANNON: They will be opposed to his former role as the head of Densus 88, and as a police chief this just – it doesn’t seem to mesh with his new approach of working – to win the hearts and minds of Papuans.

RONNY KARENI, WEST PAPUAN EXPATRIATE: I have no doubt there’ll be definitely more crackdowns on KNPB members and those who are very active and very vocal in pursuing and calling for independence for West Papua, and that is for sure, that that’s one thing that Jakarta is aiming to shutting down political activists in West Papua.

HAYDEN COOPER: Ronny Kareni is one of many West Papuans living in Australia. He uses music to promote the independence cause on behalf of his friends at home.

RONNY KARENI: Every day, like, I got SMS coming through my phone and then the information is that their lives are under intimidation and they always live in state of fear and they’re being followed and it’s sad, but this is the reality in West Papua.

HAYDEN COOPER: 7.30 put several questions to the Indonesian Government but received no reply. Attempts to contact the new Papuan police chief were also unsuccessful.

As for Victor Yeimo, he is pushing for the release of the eight activists arrested on the weekend, and with his supporters here, he’s pressuring Australia to rethink its funding for Detachment 88.

RONNY KARENI: The Papuans will be pretty much living like prisoners in our own land where our movement, what we do, will be censored, will be monitored, will be followed, and as I said, there’s no room for democracy at all.

LEIGH SALES: Hayden Cooper reporting.

Original URL http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3604232.htm

Indonesian police fire shots, tear gas after 100s of Morning Star flags fly at peaceful demo in Manokwari



By West Papua Media and local sources

October 4, 2012

Over a thousand people who had gathered  in Manokwari on Tuesday (2/10) to demonstrate in support of the independence movement in Papua were attacked  by police who fired tear gas and live ammunition in the air, after hundreds of banned  Morning Star independence flags were unfurled.

The rally, called by the West Papua National Authority (WPNA) under the auspices of the national Federal Republic  of West Papua (NRF-PB), was to show support for an observer mission to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York by WPNA diplomat Herman Wainggai, and to reject the failed implementation of Special Autonomy (OTSUS) in West Papua.

A pamphlet released by the WPNA Governor Markus Yenu  explained that the rally was to  “address the increase in OTSUS presence and UP4B as a form of “development”, which only extends Papua Political Status by affecting (increasing) marginalization and duping people of Papua, in all aspects of life on the land of Papua.”  It also said that “Papuan People should be sold on (support) the terms of independence and sovereignty (as per the) results at the KRP III (3rd Papuan People’s Congress of 2011).”

The rally was held at Sanggeng sports stadium from about 10 am local time, where about 700 people were joined by a long march of about 300 demonstrators who proceeded towards the town.  Banned Morning Star flags, which were hidden whilst the rally was under guard at Sanggeng stadium, were provocatively unfurled in their hundreds during the march, and police reacted quickly and brutally at 1039 local time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

West Papua Media stringers at the rally reported that Brimob paramilitary police stormed the gathering, firing their weapons both in the air allegedly with live ammunition and at rally participants with rubber bullets.  Three tear gas canisters were also fired into the crowd to disperse them, and police conducted a baton charge at around 1045am.  Witnesses however claimed that security forces, including soldiers from the Indonesian army (TNI) were firing indiscriminately, however no live gunshot wounds have so far been reported.  However, several live bullet casings were recovered by West Papua Media stringers.

Scores of demonstrators were savagely beaten, with several reportedly seriously injured by Brimob police who were seizing the 150 Morning Star flags.  Several of these included elderly people, who tried to intervene whilst Police were brutally beating a speaker named Zet Tata.  Ibu Pendeta (a Priest’s wife) Mathelda Maniani – one of the rally speakers  – , Ibu  Anis (75 years old), Petu Worabay, Vebi Wanma and Edo Kamesfle were all beaten by police.  Zet Tata reportedly sustained serious injuries but his condition in currently unknown.

3 rally participants remain unaccounted for, though sources on the ground have unverified reports that they were taken by Police, and grave concerns are held by WPNA activists for their safety.  The names of those disappeared are unknown at this stage.

After the brutal intervention by police to seize the Morning Star flags, demonstrators dispersed, but regrouped to hold another long march in defiance of police and close the rally peacefully at 1pm.



TPN denies involvement in “unknown persons” terror plot in Wamena



from West Papua Media

October 4, 2012

A commander from the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN) has categorically denied any responsibility or involvement in an alleged bombing campaign against security force targets in Wamena and Jayapura, joining a chorus of Papua observers raising doubts about the Indonesian police allegations against pro-independence activists

Troops from the Indonesian army (TNI) and Australian-trained Detachment 88 counter-terror unit conducted a violent raid on September 29 against activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in Wamena, arresting 8.  The eight have been charged with various offences, including  possession of explosive devices and Makar (treason).

Citizen journalists from SuaraPapua .com made contact with the Commander of the Kodap (Liberation Command Area) I  of TPN, Colonel David Darko on Tuesday (2/10) afternoon, who confirmed the bombs in  Jayapura, Wamena and throughout Papua, had no connection to the TPN OPM.

“So (the) TPN OPM states assertively, that we are not responsible for any action with bombs, because OPM is not a terrorist organisation, but an organisations of national struggle for Papua, (and for) basic rights to self-determination as any other nation on earth, ” Darko told SP.  He said it was a struggle for the liberation of the people, and “The struggle by TPN-OPM is dignified and with  full responsibility for the rights of the national struggle,” he said.  This unequivocal statement, according to David Darko, is to give notice to all parties not to associate the OPM with bombs or terror.

The non-violent activists were allegedly arrested in connection with a small bomb blast at a Wamena police station.  Detachment 88 anti-terror police claim they found explosive materials at the KNPB offices, but human rights observers across Papua have suggested the police themselves planted the materials and questioned the truthfulness of police claims.

Ferry Marisan, the director of the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy in Papua (Elsham) told the Jakarta Globe, “It [the evidence] must have been fabricated by police, they placed the explosives in the office so the police would have a reason to arrest them.”

Victor Yeimo, the international spokesperson for KNPB currently in hiding after threats of arrest for subversion,  ridiculed the police assertion that the arrested activists were involved in the attack on the police station, or in making or using bombs, or engaging in acts of terror.  “West Papuan people are not involved with these bombs, and still do not know how to make bombs,”  Yeimo told West Papua Media on September 30.  KNPB has previously and publicly pledged its commitment to non-violence, saying that it is committed to the use of “civil power”

Members of the KNPB have also been subject to an escalating wave of repression by Indonesian security forces across Papua, since the beginning of an anti-violence civil resistance campaign earlier in 2012, in response to a series on mysterious “unknown persons” (OTK) shootings that had killed over 20 people since 2011. These shootings, widely believed across Papuan civil society to be the work of Kopassus Indonesian special forces creating violence to be used as a pretext for a declaration of martial law, peaked with the brazen daylight execution by Detachment 88 officers of KNPB Jayapura Chairman Mako Tabuni on June 6 this year.

Papuan civil society sources have claimed by SMS and email to West Papua Media that the current campaign of bombings and explosions is connected to the October visit of Indonesian President, General Yudhoyhono, to the UK.  SBY, as the president is known, is believed to be signing off on major defence deals with UK arms corporations, and will be pressing for increased anti-terror cooperation.  SBY is also being targeted currently by human rights activists connected with the KNPB in the UK, who have offered a GBP£50,000 bounty for a citizen’s arrest of the Indonesian President for Crimes Against Humanity.  Civil society sources believe that the campaign of crackdown of KNPB activists accused of terror acts is being orchestrated to shut down Papua rights campaigning in the UK.

The TPN Commander Darko stated that the TPN was not allied with the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in any political or organisational sense. “We also had nothing to do with the Committee at all as we are different from them,” Darko told SP.

The new Papua Police Chief,  Inspector General Tito Karnavian – the former head of Detachment 88, conceded the TPN-OPM claim to not engage in terrorist bombings, but said to wait for the court process.

“This case is being handled, and let us see it in court. Whether they are involved or not. Let the court decide, ” he said.  Honesty awaited the court because the reverse case would cause turmoil with the grassroots people of Papua, Karnavian explained to assembled journalists.

However, with Papua still closed to international journalists or independent human rights observers, few West Papuan activists believe that the flawed court system in Papua will be able to deliver a legitimate and fair trial.




Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: