West Papuan activists peacefully marking the 10th anniversary of the assassination of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Chairman Mako Tabuni, were violently dispersed using rubber bullets and beatings by Indonesian police in Jayapura on Tuesday June 14.
2 protestors sustained penetration injuries from rubber bullets fired point-blank, and a further 8 sustained injuries from severe beatings. 4 protestors, Vara Iyaba, Ferry Molama, Emani Pahabol & Wene Beni Hiluka, were arrested by Police. The four were released on 15 June.
The KNPB commemoration was held at the Waena roundabout, the site of the 14 June 2012 assassination of Tabuni by a death squad from the Australian-trained Detachment 88 counter terror unit, was a small and peaceful gathering, but at approximately 1pm Jayapura time, 5 truckloads of heavily armed Dalmas Police attacked the gathering of students sitting on the ground singing with guitars.
KNPB spokesperson Ones Suhuniap told WestPapuaMedia, “At 1pm, 5 Dalmas trucks of joint TNI POLRI arrived at the P3 Waena taxi round, then (the protest was) forcibly dispersed by the TNI-Polri without negotiating with the masses, beating with rubber, tear gas,and shooting rubber bullets.”
8 people were injured from beatings. They were : 1. Jhon S Kadepa, on the head of the forehead. 2. Kikibi Pigai, on the soles of the feet 3. Manu Tinal, on the legs and eyebrows 4. Benediktus Tebai, hit in the palms 5. Nopen Tulama, in the palm of the hand 6. Jendri Wanimbo, hit in the cheek 7. Natan Pigai, hit with a weapon on the head, and in the hand 8. Fransiskus Petege, hit in the spine with a weapon
Coswin Tabyor was shot in the right buttocks by point blank rubber bullets, and Yuber Kalakmabin was shot in the waist. Both suffered deep penetration wounds.
The arrests follow a significant upsurge in Police violence against peaceful protestors, after the Jayapura Police Chief Gustav R. Urbinas began to issue aggressive orders criminalising all West Papuan dissent ahead of the Papuan People’s Petition (PRP) mobilisations in May, resisting the creation of new provinces and reimposition of the failed Special Autonomy package. On both May 10 and June 3, PRP demonstrations were brutally attacked with live fire and rubber bullets, resulting in scores of injuries and arrests.
Witnesses to the latest police violence have called for international condemnation of Indonesia’s criminalisation of peaceful dissent and repeated acts of excessive and disproportionate violence against unarmed and peaceful Papuan protestors .
The armed conflict in Oksibil area is the continuation of the struggle for West Papua freedom started in the 1960s and maintained by West Papua people under Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) Free Papua Movement up to date. Oksibil conflict cannot be minimized down to view the conflict from a single spot; it has to be looked at from the whole West Papua conflict being maintained in several regencies within West Papua. The OPM has its military wing, the West Papua National Liberation (WPNLA/TPNPB-OPM) which has 33 command posts throughout the region aspire to maintain the armed struggle in every part of West Papua. The Ngalum-Kupel Comand is the 15th Command post under the leadership of General Alipki Lamek Taplo based in Oksibil.
The Star Mountain people were the latest contacted people by the Netherlands Government in 1959. The short contact did not last long because Indonesia had to take over the territory by 1963. In 1969 act of free choice, the representatives from Oksibil protested strongly in Wamena resulted in their leader Katkotweng Uropkulin excluded from participation in the vote. He was locked up in a confined room until the whole process was completed. He was released later and returned to Oksibil where he helped organized the resistance movement in the community.
In the 1970s his son Karel Uropkulin took over the leadership and led most of the people into the jungles between Papua New Guinea and West Papua maintaining the freedom struggle. Some went to live in refugee camps in Papua New Guinea while others maintained their positions in the jungles and fight Indonesian military with bows and arrows. The people of Oksibil still maintained their position to date because Indonesia does not want to resolve the conflict peacefully. Stories from other places are similar to what is happening in Oksibil, Indonesia does not have a formula to address the conflict in West Papua in general. The armed conflict is likely to continue as long as Indonesia is in West Papua.
Existing Politically charged groups in Oksibil
The existing pro-independence groups in Oksibil reflect the general situation in Papua. Groups include West Papua National Committee (KNPB), West Papua Interest Association Group (WPIA), and Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) group. United Liberation Movement for West Papua group is establishing their residency in the regency in 2020, not many members in this group. Most of these groups are advocating for independence through peaceful means except for OPM. The OPM has many sympathisers and emphasis is often placed on armed struggle.
On the other hand, the Indonesians set-up proxy groups and spy networks in Oksibil which include the Barisan Merah Putih (Red and White Group), Soranda group, KNPI (Indonesian youth wing) and the descendants of voters in the act of free choice. They set up spy network from Oksibil into outer districts. Most of them posted as teachers and health workers. The established narratives in the local community led to the current destruction of health and education facilities in the Kiwirok district.
Capture of two WPNLA members in District Batom Star Mountain Regency
On the 6th of September 2021, two members of TPNPB-OPM were captured in Batom District assisted by the members of Soranda Group and local government officials. The two members have five firearms including live bullets bought in Papua New Guinea. They were crossing the border along the head waters of the Sepik River near Green River district of Papua New Guinea when the local people (members of Soranda group) spotted them and reported to the Indonesian military base in district Batom.
It was the first time that the OPM bought firearms from Papua New Guinea and the OPM leaders expected the local people to keep quiet but the local people sided with the Indonesians. The OPM leaders have vowed to kill whoever is on the side of Indonesian military including the civilians both local and migrants. The capture of the two members of OPM-TPNPB was due to the local people’s involvement in the spy network of Indonesia. That is the reason behind the destruction of public facilities in Kiwirok and also set fire to the heavy equipment in district Oksop. To make the people feel the effect of what it takes to lose something you fought hard to acquire. It is sort of revenge by the OPM which the conflict is likely to continue because all the politically charged groups are somehow interconnected within the conflict.
Special Autonomy and Development: OPM’s point of view
Anything that smells like the expired Special Autonomy Policy reminds West Papuans of the past 20 years of misery. They do not want to entertain any of it after the expiration date. Indonesian government extended the special autonomy without consulting the Papuans on 15th July 2021 in the Indonesian Parliament. West Papuans have rejected it and have been expecting changes but no changes are coming their way.
The OPM under the leadership of Lamek Taplo has published an ultimatum recently that they will burn the development facilities of the Indonesian government under the Special Autonomy policy. They also warned immigrants to move out of conflict zones, any of them found in the conflict zone is considered as spies. Following the announcement, the OPM first burned the machines in district Oksop and later into Kiwirok district. Most of the stories with regard to destruction of properties and public facilities are found in the Indonesian media.
West Papua National Liberation Army’s position on the armed conflict
The WPNLA’s position has been that war against the Indonesian government will be there until Indonesia withdraws entirely from West Papua. In a recently released statement, they stated that; “the fight has historical significance based on United Nations Resolution 1514 of 14th December 1960 on the granting of independence to colonial peoples and territories and its subsequent resolutions. West Papua still remains to be the unfinished business of United Nations Decolonisation program of the 1960s of which the fight to reclaim that freedom is justified under the International Law.
The OPM is open to negotiate with Indonesia to resolve the conflict peacefully, but it has to be mediated by an international neutral third party. The Indonesian concept of national dialogue and peace negotiation simply cannot work; West Papuans have grown thick skins to Indonesians mistreatments with regard to the subject of peace negotiations.
Indonesian Government’s Official Position on the armed Conflict
The Indonesian government maintained their position throughout the conflict that there is no war or armed conflict in West Papua, the government has been engaging in a law enforcement program (peneggagkan hukum) to apprehend the armed criminal groups that killed the health workers and destroyed road construction equipment and other facilities to be brought to justice. The government termed the operation as “Operasi kemanusiaan”/Humanitarian Operation to serve those people who are terrorised by the armed criminal groups. This position has been maintained since 2018.
They claimed that Police are doing their job and military is assisting the police to keep the law and order in Papua region. They simply brush aside any talk of peace with the so called armed criminal groups in Papua. They aspire to crush the armed criminal groups militarily and achieve peace in Papua. The Indonesian government has recently categorized OPM as a terrorist organization aspires to force neighbouring countries and the UN to follow suit.
For the traumatised civilians in Papua, Indonesian government devised what they called “wining heart and mind strategy” to calm the Papuan public, discourage them to join the OPM or even assist them to fight against Indonesia. Military in schools, churches including the so called ‘trans-Papua road project and the extension of the Special Autonomy package is part of the strategy. The government interpret the conflict in Papua from the development aspect which is far away from addressing the conflict.
Active conflicts elsewhere in West Papua
The armed conflict is still active in Yahukimo, Puncak, Nduga, Intan Jaya and current eruption in Maybrat regency in the bird’s head region of the island (see attached brief report). We also have other existing environmental destruction in Timika and Merauke regencies (see report attached).
The Special Autonomy issue is still active and Papuans are expected to do demonstration against the policy throughout major towns in Papua .
Indonesian Government’s methods of resolving the conflict
Indonesian government has always been reluctant to resolve the conflict; its actions are conducted in such a way that conflict in Papua has to be maintained and resources are exploited cheaply. Indonesia has been applying Band-Aid strategy narrowing conflict down to specific conflict spots and send in military to apply scotch-earth strategy to wipe out the population in the identified area. The strategy is keeping the conflict going throughout Papua because; it has displaced thousands of people and destroyed homes and properties worth millions.
Appeal to the international community
West Papuans are really dying; they need assistance from the international community. The conflict will last for ages here in West Papua as long as Indonesia is in West Papua. We are appealing to the international community to put pressure on the governments and international organizations to urge Indonesia to resolve the conflict through peaceful means. The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders (PIF) and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) leaders have been addressing the issue. We hope that the international community put their respective governments on notice to respond to West Papua conflict based on the principle of Responsibility to Protect.
Information on Internally Displaced People in West Papua – Oksibil
Above: West Papua map showing the active conflict zones in West Papua including the IDPs location. (Source: google map, additional graphics by Solidarity for Indigenous Papuans)
General information on internally displaced people in conflict zones in West Papua
Since 1st December 2018 West Papua people in Nduga have been displaced from their homes for four years now. There were 12 districts in Nduga regency completely destroyed, more than 45 000 people have been displaced living in the neighbouring regencies up to date.
Like the situation in Nduga, Puncak people have also been displaced for four years now living with relatives in other regencies, most of the IDPs from Puncak is not known because the media is blocked from going in to the area.
People of West Papua in Yahukimo regency have also been displaced for the last four years most of them living in the jungles away from public facilities. The information about IDPs in Yahukimo is also not known.
The people of West Papua in Intan Jaya have been taking refuge in the neighbouring Paniai and Nabire regencies for the last three years. Their information is also not often published regularly. Most of the IDPs from Intan Jaya, Puncak and Nduga are living in Mimika regency including the people from the mining village of Banti displaced in 2020.
Recent armed conflict in Maybrat has also caused displacement in the Bird’s head region; people are still living in the jungles since last month’s incident in Maybrat regency.
The Star Mountain regency has been in conflict since 2018, displacement was under control until the 13th September incident in Kiwirok and Okhika districts.
Estimated total of Internally Displaced People is around 90 000 to 100 000 people and is expected to increase when the conflict intensifies throughout West Papua.
Situation of Internally Displaced people in Kiwirok and Okhika districts Star Mountain Regency
There are 12 villages in district Kiwirok including the district headquarters. People from the villages have been displaced since the 13th of September 2021. Some ran to the jungles while others moved to the Kiwirok Church compound. People who are sheltered by the church are mostly women, children, elderly, and the sick.
The burning and destruction in Okhika district was done by Indonesian military and not the OPM. Most of the destroyed buildings were residential houses and not public facilities. The whereabouts of the people from Okhika are not known to date. Most of them ran into the jungles to cover from Indonesian attacks. It is expected that people from these districts will migrate to Telefomin and Green River districts of Sandaun province in Papua New Guinea. The total population of district Okhika and Kiwirok combined is estimated to be around six thousand people.
The people who have been displaced since 13th of September 2021 who are under the church protection need food and other supplies. Neighbouring districts are contributing food and firewood to the displaced people. The supplies could not last long and need urgent food supplies to keep the people fed. Schools and other public amenities have been closed and children are deprived of their right to education.
Government and NGO Response
The Indonesian government has not been responsive since 2018 IDP crisis in Nduga. Only the local government is responsive to supply food and basic supplies from time to time. The government has not formed special teams to investigate what is happening within the IDP communities and or addressing their situation.
We have witnessed churches and CSOs build solid support base for the IDPs in West Papua throughout the conflict zones. These brave deeds were not without blockage by Indonesian military and police though. Many church workers were killed due to their care for the IDPs, CSOs blocked from reaching the IDPs or food aid stolen by the military from the airports. Indonesian military and police often check every item on the plane to the conflict zones. Anything that is heading towards the IPD camps is confiscated at the airports including food and other basic supplies.
Indonesian military and police have been confiscating food for IDPs from the airports which is a violation of the existing humanitarian law. The military and police have been consistently checking backs and confiscating food since 2018. We are appealing to the international community to urge Indonesia to allow food and medical assistance to reach the IDPs throughout West Papua conflict zones.
The much talked about Special Autonomy Law Number 21 of 2001 was officially extended on 15th July 2021 through the Second Amendment Bill to Law Number 21 of 2001 in the Indonesian Parliament. Summary of facts covered as reported by various media outlets are as follows;
the extension was finalized and approved for endorsement through the Second Amendment Bill of Law Number 21 of 2001
the government focus on amending only three articles; Article 1 on general provisions, Article 34 on Special Autonomy Fund for Papua, and Article 76 on Territorial Expansion
the new articles added to the existing law were only 20 articles, which mainly were added or extended in Articles 1, 34 and 76.
apart from the three articles reviewed, no other articles from the previous law were removed or adjusted; the Minister for Home Affairs confirmed that “the content of the law has not changed, but funds have to be extended and increased.”
The Indonesian Parliament agreed that all Papuans they have consulted approve of the extension of Special Autonomy
The general feeling in Papua has different narratives from that held by Indonesian leaders in Jakarta and their collaborators in Papua. It was fortunate that the government-controlled media smooth over the rough edges of the Autonomy narrative, avoided publicising views from the Papuan public. The fact remains that all indigenous Papuans rejected outright its extension. A total of 105 organisations, including the support organisations from neighbouring countries, formed a resistance group inside West Papua put up consistent protests at meeting venues, only to be met by heavy police and military beatings and hefty jail terms.
Consultation Initiative for the Special Autonomy
Consultation for the extension was organized in ways that only seek approval from the public and avoided criticism, complaints, or adjustments from the Papuans’ side. Three separate factions initiated their schedules for consultations with Papuan people; (1) initiated by Papuan People’s Assembly in Papua (MRP) and Papuan Provincial Parliamentarians (DPRP) under Article 77 of Special Autonomy Law, (2) initiated by Special Committee for the Special Autonomy (DPD PANSUS), and (3) initiated by Indonesian Parliamentarians.
According to Article (77) of Special Autonomy Law Number 21 of 2001, the changes to the law has to be done by Papuans through MRP, DPRP and Governor of Papua province in consultation with the Papuans. Thus, the setup of the Special Team for Special Autonomy and direct involvement by Indonesian Parliamentarians were not in the spirit of the law.
The exclusion in the discussion and contribution to Special Autonomy prompted MRP to appeal to the constitutional court in Jakarta to seek its interpretation of Article (77) on 16th June 2021. The court did not hand the decision to date due to political interference. The MRP was forced to withdraw the case on 21st July 2021. The Parliamentarians passed the Second Amendment Bill on 15th July 2021, extending the Special Autonomy Law Number 21 of 2001.
Groups Consulted in Papua
The three groups set up two separate camps to review the Special Autonomy Law, Jakarta and Jayapura. The Jakarta group set up the Indonesian Research Institute (LIPI) and the University of Gaja Mada (UGM) to research and draft the law. In contrast, the Jayapura group set up the university of Cenderawasih to do the review. The Jakarta group has a separate list of Papuans to consult in Papua, and the Jayapura group has its list with different schedules.
The Jayapura group, led by MRP/MRPB1, conducted consultations throughout Papua and West Papua provinces. The approach appeared fair for the ordinary people and civil society, including the opposition groups who presented petitions against the Special Autonomy in several regencies. In Pegunungan Bintang, Yahukimo, Paniai, Jayapura, Manokwari and Sorong presented petitions against the extension of Special Autonomy. The people at the grassroots level trusted the first group led by the MRP/MRPB.
The Jakarta group led by the Special Team scheduled five days for a visit to Jayapura and Manokwari. They listed the following names for their consultation; (1) Governor, (2) Regional Leaders (FORKOPIMDA), (3) Papuan Provincial Parliamentarians (DPRP/PB), (4) Papuan People’s Assembly Members (MRP/MRPB), (5) Provincial Rep. of National Intelligence Organization (BINDA), (6) Association of Indonesian Lecturers in Jayapura (7) Forum for Regional Leaders, (8) Forum for inter-religious group, (9) Special Autonomy Review Team in Jayapura, and (10) Cenderawasih University. They scheduled for five days from 26th to 30th April 2021.
Another Jakarta group led by Indonesian Parliamentarians (DPR RI) had their separate schedule for consultation with the Papuan side on 1st April 2021. The group met (1) Governor, (2) Indonesian Military Commander in Papua (Pangdam Cenderawasih), (3) Papua Provincial Police Commander, (4) Papua provincial Chief Judge, (5) Chairman of Papuan People’s Assembly, (6) Chairman of Papua Parliamentrians, and (7) Regional leaders and town mayors in Papua province.
Consultation and Review Results
The consultation and review results of the Papuan side led by MRP/MRPB disappeared in thin air between Jakarta and Jayapura. The petition collected from the Papuans, main discussions about human rights and dialogue between Jakarta and Jayapura, including the opposition groups, were vaporised into thin air living the original review and consultations from the Jakarta side to endorsement by the Indonesian Parliament. It was a shadow play that Indonesian intelligence (BIN) designed and played hard from the sidelines, directing the flow towards Jakarta.
Indonesians called “wayang kulit”, an Indonesian shadow play myth often told and played in Indonesian cinemas. The MRP/MRPB group was only a decoy to attract Papuans’ attention to their side, so the actual moves from Jakarta are implemented undisturbed.
During the parliament session, Mr Komarudin Watubun the chairman of the Special Committee for the Autonomy concluded that “discussions about the Special Autonomy was conducted well in the spirit of brother-hood.”2 Mr Yan Mandenas, his deputy added that the process of consultation was done according to “normal policy processes and procedures and satisfied all the existing government’s requirements”3 according to the available laws of the country.
The people consulted in Papua do not represent most Papuans because they were members of the “Barisan Merah Putih” (BMP)(Red and White movement). The BMP group is organized by the Indonesian military and police, forcing people to love Indonesia and hate other people who are against the Indonesian state ideology. These people are descendants of the “1025” selected to participate in the “Act of Free Choice” in 1969. This group of Papuans are well-looked after by the Indonesian government. They continue to receive monthly allowances from the Indonesian government to compensate for their part in the 1969 saga and formed the stronghold for Indonesia in Papua. They have no connection with the West Papua independence struggle either.
It was a pre-planned process with name lists prepared by the Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN) State Intelligence Organization with venues scheduled and dates fixed for the events. They also listed Church leaders, customary leaders, students and intellectuals that were aligned with the views of the Red and White group. People selected to represent Papuan’s view were mainly from West Papua province and coastal regions which traditionally allied with Indonesians most often or do not dare to talk aggressively like the highlanders. Indonesia is indirectly creating ethnic divisions as a method of divide and rule, which appears to be colonial in its approach to Papuan issues.
The excluded groups in Papua are led by Petisi Rakyat Papua4 (PRP) (Petition for the People of Papua). The PRP group is a collective group consisted of 105 civil society based organizations, including politically charged organizations such as the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) and others whose leaders are at the forefront. The groups appeared to be formidable and aspire to continue in whatever way possible to halt the implementation of the Special Autonomy.
From experience, the opposition to the Special Autonomy Law at the beginning could be a bad sign for Indonesia as it cannot teach new tricks to the Papuans. Papuans have grown thick skin over the years of the Indonesian’s undignified treatments, and it looks like the opposition would continue to grow in the months and years ahead. The Special Autonomy review and consultation was done in a secret and undemocratic way that violated the rights of the people of Papua. The failure of the first part of Special Autonomy experienced from 2001 to 2020 will be repeated in the second part of the Special Autonomy. Indonesians are ignorant of the reality existing in Papua.
Expected fulfilment of SDG 2030 in Papua under Special Autonomy
The last five (5) years of implementing Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030 (SDG 2030) since 2015 has catapult Indonesia’s economic success. It has enabled Indonesia to invest heavily into education, health, agriculture, commerce and other sectors of the economy boosting living standards and creating millions of jobs for its 273 million people. However, the economic miracle that Indonesia enjoyed over the years occurred at the expense of mounting human rights violations5 and environmental destruction in Papua. The suppression of Indigenous peoples rights, LGBT rights, People With Disability, minority rights, and environmental destruction in Papua and Boneo Islands where vast forests are being destroyed are a few areas that the Indonesian government has been overlooking in the last five years.
West Papua region in Indonesia tells the exact opposite of Indonesia’s success story over the same period that seems to paint a negative image on Indonesia. The much talked about and promoted Special Autonomy for Papua is nothing but a tool for Indonesian diplomatic advancement to cover its human rights violation record in West Papua. Indonesia treats West Papua as its number one priority in international relations, perfecting any defects coming out of the province in every international forum that smells human rights in Indonesia focusing on Papua. It is uncertain that the existing negative record would likely to improve with the extension of the autonomy package. Already, violated SDG principles from the beginning when the Indonesians excluded Papuans from taking part in the review and consultation process.
BY Solidarity for Indigenous Papuans (SIP)
1 Majelist Rakayat Papua/Majelis Rakyat Papua Barat (Papuan Peoples’ Assembly Members/West Papua Peoples’ Assembly Members) the Special Autonomy covers both provinces.
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