Interview With Bucthar Tabuni, Chairman of the West Papua National Parliament

(Apologies for the delay in posting due to significant funding shortfall and time over-commitments from WPM team)

(Translated by WPM Team for

Original article at, March 23, 2013
Chairman of the West Papua National Parliament, Bucthar Tabuni, and Chairman of the West Papua National Committee, Victor F Yeimo (Photo: Private)

PAPUA, Jayapura – recently, journalist Oktovianus Pogau, had the opportunity to interview with Bucthar Tabuni, the Chairman of the West Papua National Parliament (,).  In this interview Tabuni speaks about the criminalization of peaceful struggle of West Papua National Committee (KNPB), by the Police force in Papua.

Follow the interview below.

 What is the security forces attitude towards KNPB?

I see that the security force fears even more if KNPB exist in the Land of Papua. This is because of the mass and the base of KNPB is firmly rooted.  Indeed, during my leadership, the strength that we have built with the people is serious. So, at this time the security forces were escorting us to matters that did not enter our minds, and tried to destroy the struggle for peace that was pushed by us.

I hope this does not become an obstacle for KNPB to further progress and develop into the
 future.  If there’s any issue, then it should be coordinated with PNWP as the political body of the Papuan people. And we are ready to be responsible to the people, as well as to the 
KNPB board itself.

How’s the leadership of the new chief of Police (Kapolda), Tito Karnavian?

For Kapolda Papua at present, I think we just stay in an intensive communication, however 
my only regret is related to imprisonment of KNPB activists in Wamena Jayapura, Biak and Timika, that is being dragged on without a clear legal process.

I officially conveyed to the Chief of Police, I will still guarantee security throughout Papua when orders (are made) to release political prisoners, abolish the lists of wanted-persons 
(DPOs) of KNPB activists, and open a space for democracy, but also demands that have not been

I hope, all of these (demands) can be fulfilled soon. If it has not been answered, I
 will make a mention of the demands to the public and the police chief, but I’m (still) 
waiting for a response to the demands.

What was Kapolda’s Response?

His response was good, but not optimal. For example, legal issues with some KNPB members being detained should be settled with the Police, but his officers eventually put (a formal) submission to the Attorney General, 
so the legal process at court is protracted, and we are very disappointed for now.

The Papua issue needs communication. If it’s ignored, it will cause
 disappointment, and the violence will never disappear. If there is to be anything at all, then it should be 
communicated. Pak Kapolda responded well, but not optimal. And until now I’m still waiting.

KNPB accused of masterminding violence in Papua?

Officials still have a biased stigma towards the KNPB, starting from being considered as actors of
 violence, all the way to being the perpetrators of violence in Papua. I argue that, during my leadership, the peaceful campaign of the struggle by peaceful demonstrations have always 
been promoted.

KNPB are people’s media, so it would be inappropriate if we called masterminds of violence.  
KNPB also never ordered the people of Papua, nor a member of KNPB 
throughout Papua, to struggle with violent means.

Even if there is (violence), that cannot be generalised or all associated together. In the society, there are good people, some are evil, there are few that listen to advice, and some that are not willing to hear the advice, and it’s a normal thing, and it happens everywhere, including 
in KNPB today.

Although Kapolda asked us not to do violence, one needs to know that 
lots of those acts are carried out by TPN/OPM (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional or National Liberation Army).  And this is outside of civil society, but if its in town I would 
guarantee safety. I do not have the right to intervene on TPN/OPM actions.
  My civic leadership is in the town.  TPN/OPM field of operation is different from my field.

What is the condition of KNPB activists detained in Wamena, Timika and other places?

They all regret, because the legal process that is underway has not been proven 
as a legal case. If they obtain or store sharp tools, then almost everyone 
in Papua, including immigrants, also obtain (these tools) such as knives and other sharp instruments.

The cases of KNPB members in Wamena is seen (to be premeditated) that the authorities already have 
strategies to arrest them. Why do officers go check sharp instruments only at
 KNPB activists home, while many immigrants who also own and store those things 
that are mentioned?

The question is, those things are there, but what are they used for, who is harmed, how many victims? –  there are no legal facts. This is why I asked that Kapolda must release 
them, but he hasn’t reacted to my demands.

The detainees until now regret, because without fair (or truthful) evidence and legal facts, they still undergo jail terms.  A question from me, why didn’t the police force arrest knife-sellers or sharp instruments in the market?  Of course this is weird.

How’s the assistance from Counsel (legal assistance)?

I thank the council for their assistance in assisting the KNPB activists in various prisons in Papua, but there is no assistance given to the case that happened in Wamena.

I see that the counsel hesitates in giving their assistance; we are able to facilitate with fund and provide them with accommodation. However, it is acceptable if they are busy. I plead for the judge and the prosecutor to work in conjunction together and help me with all the decisions to hopefully free all of them.

According to the charges that were made, there are many political aspects in comparison with those of law. Hence, various approaches have to be done in order to silence the struggle of West Papuans, and that include punishing detainees. Police and Army forces (Polri & TNI) will always find gaps and use that to perform ongoing injustices to the struggle in Papua. Therefore, an exceptional consideration is needed.

KNPB is regarded as Highlanders?

I’m shocked when I heard that statement. KNPB originates from Papua and we have Regional Parliaments called Parlemen Rakyat Daerah (PRD) in Biak, Manokwari, Wamena and Merauke, and they are all representative of West Papua.

I believe that this opinion is from people that don’t understand what consolidation is. I can also say that that opinion comes from people that don’t do field work but just voicing their thoughts. We have been working together (around Papua) for six years.

Don’t look just at KNPB, but the important thing is to see the agenda we have been working on. Supposing that the agenda makes sense and  is rational, why don’t we gain the support from others? We are just normal human beings but if this agenda can grant West Papua an Independence, it has to be supported, especially by those who mock KNPB.

Message for KNPB Activists?

Suppose you are keeping sharp weapons in your homes, it’s wise to throw them away or to avoid or keep away from them. Let alone the outsiders to have them. It has been several days since the silence of KNPB, it doesn’t mean that KNPB withdraws and is scared of the coloniser.

The current situation is uncertain so that we choose to be silent and to be patient. Let’s stay calm and plan for our new strategy to rise again. Do not worry about the tactics sets by the enemy, we have to think and plan for other approaches.

Message for the People of West Papua?

Independence is not something that we can achieve in an instant. West Papuans, don’t get bored, don’t be lazy and don’t give up the fight. There is no struggle that does not bear an outcome, everything does. We just have to wait for right time.

Hence, I call out to every West Papuan to work together, to be committed in what we are doing to keep up the fight in order for West Papuan to be free from Indonesian Colonialism. By doing so, not only we keep the fighting spirit alive but we also honour all the sacrifices of the late Arnold Ap, Thomas Wainggai, Kelly Kwalik, Mako Tabuni, Victor Kogoya, Hubertus Mabel, and all West Papua Independence activists that were killed by the Indonesian Military.

(translated and edited by WPM)

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