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HRD Analysis on Oksibil-West Papua Armed Conflict

by Solidarity for Indigenous Papuans

Conflict Background in Oksibil

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.

This photo is posted on Facebook by Piltap Bawi a member of the Soranda Group. The group in the photo is seen standing with bows around their flag (Sangsaka Bengerim) and Indonesian Red and White flag. The group appears to be a cult group without national ideology existing only in Oksibil. Indonesian Intelligence (KOPASUS) often deal with them to give them false hopes about independence in return the Soranda group provide insights on OPM and other groups in the Oksibil area. The group is similar to the cult around Benny Wenda and his ULMWP group who declare himself president enjoying his leadership in dreams while the conflict is still going on in West Papua. Soranda group is also like ULMWP cult but they have their own flag, not Morning Star.

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.

Above: Julian Uopmabin (right), Kapol Uopmabin (left) were the two members of TPNPB-OPM captured with firearms in Batom District Star Mountain Regency on 6th Sept. 2021. They are in Jayapura prison awaiting their trial and sentencing.
Above: Firearms captured from the two members of the OPM-TPNPB. For the last 50 years conflict in West Papua, the OPM have no outside support for arms and other logistics. It has somehow managed to survive for the last 50 years.

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.

Above: The burning machines along trans-Papua highway in district Oksop, 9th Sept. 2021. The equipment was destroyed by the OPM-TPNPB members.

Above: 13th Sept. 2021, photo above is at district Kiwirok and Okhika. In Okhika the Indonesian military targeted the residence of Papuans because they suspected that most members of the OPM are from district Okhika. The OPM burned the public facilities in Kiwirok district. The Indonesian media projected the blame only on OPM but that is not true, TNI and Police also burnt down residential homes for Papuans in several villages in Okhika district.

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.

HRD Report: Information on Internally Displaced People in West Papua – Oksibil

by Solidarity for Indigenous Papuans

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.

Above: Women and children from Kiwirok district displaced by the armed conflict

Above: The elderly, women and children including men in Kiwirok district displaced by the armed conflict.

Above: Food and firewood contributed from local people for the IDPs.

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.

Appeal

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.

Prepared by Solidarity for Indigenous Papuans

JUBI: Governor and Council Speaker Accused of Orchestrating pro-Jakarta militia Protests

reprinted in full from our partners Tabloid Jubi

The recent arrests of nearly 1,500 protesters in Jayapura are part of a broader systematic oppression of Papuans by the Indonesian government - Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua Governor Lukas Enembe and the Chairman of the Papua Legislative Council Yunus Wonda have been accused of orchestrating recent demonstrations.

The accusations were made by the alleged attackers of Mrs. Henderika Kowenip, who was hurt during a recent protest.

First Deputy of Regional Leadership Council of Democrat Party Papua (DPD PD Papua), Corolus Bolly, said he strongly condemned the attack against Kowenip, Coordinator Deputy of DPD PD Papua, on Thursday (2/6/2016) at around 09:00 Papua time near to Trikora Square, Abepura.  Kowenip suffered bruises and wounds on her back and face.

“The Public Hospital Dok II Jayapura, who conducted medical examination will further explain about Mrs. Kowenip’s health condition,” Corolus Bolly through a release on last week to Jubi in Jayapura.

Bolly said he asked both Papua Police and Jayapura Municipal Police to immediately investigate and arrest the perpetrators. “We really want the perpetrators would be punished on their crime in accordance to the Law,” he said.

Regarding to accusations levelled by Kowenip’s attackers against Enembe and Wonda, Bolly asserted as leaders, both persons must present among their people without disrespecting their ethnicity, religion, race or particular groups.

“As regional leaders, it is their obligation to pay attention, facilitate and serve all interest and dynamic of people living in the entire regions of Papua Province by continuing to keep stability and peace in people’s life.

Second Deputy Chairman of DPD PD Papua, Habel Rumbiak, similarly said about dynamic of politic that was occurred recently. He said both Lukas Enembe and Yunus Wonda always appealed to people to respect the Indonesian law and not being anarchy in doing demonstrations.

“People should respect any differences on political view. It shouldn’t become an instrument to divide and create conflict between one and another groups that at the end would lead to separation,” he said,

He added together we should maintain the unitary and integrity as well as lead to separation,” he said.

He added together we should maintain the unitary and integrity as well as stability, security and peace to create a conducive situation in working. “All of these are to materialize the movement towards Stand up, Independent and Prosperous Papua,” he said. (Alexander Loen/rom)

Indigenous people and activists demonstrate against oil palm expansion,in Sorong

[awasMIFEE note: as the indigenous people of Sorong, Nabire, Merauke and
elsewhere around Papua continue to resist oil palm expansion, there now
appears to be some hope that the government is responding. It appears
that President Joko Widodo’s comments last April that he was preparing a
moratorium on all new oil palm permits are being followed up. Professor
San Afri Awang, the Director-General of Forestry Planology and
Environmental Governance, has stated that “We have rejected and
terminated the licensing process for all new palm oil plantations
submitted by 61 companies for an area of more than 851 thousand
hectares.” All 61 applications were from Papua, West Papua and Central
Kalimantan provinces. The President is reportedly preparing a
Presidential Instruction to give a legal framework for the moratorium.
Of course, until this is published and we see how it is being
implemented, it is not possible to know how much meaningful change this
policy might bring]

Source: Cahaya Papua

English Translation: AwasMifee

Peringati Harkitnas Masyarakat Adat Papua Demo Perusahaan Sawit
(foto: sindonews.com)

 

Hundreds of indigenous people and activists from a range of backgrounds,
demonstrated at the Sorong Regency District Legislative Council to
demand a stop to the expansion of oil palm which has already destroyed
thousands of hectares of forest in the area.

This action is also to show their support for the central government
which last month started talking about a moratorium on new land for oil
palm in Indonesia.

“All work on oil palm plantations across Sorong Regency must be stopped,
because thousands of hectares of the people’s forest has already been
destroyed”, participants shouted out during speeches outside the council
building.

The indigenous people and activists which have joined the movement to
oppose land clearing for oil palm are comprised of young Moi
intellectuals, the Malamoi Indigenous People’s Association and Moi
people who care for the Malamoi forest, youth and student movements
(GMNI, GAMKI, GMKI, the Association of Moi students in Sorong
Muhammadiyah University (Himamus) and the Moi Students’ Association in
Indonesia (Himamsi)). The action started on foot from the public ground
in Aimas, the Sorong Regency capital.

The chair of the Sorong Branch of the Indonesian National Student
Movement, Manu Mobalan stated that they were also opposing new land for
oil palm as a protest against the behaviour of existing oil palm
plantations in Sorong, which have destroyed the forest in the area.

“The oppression of ordinary people is increasing, which means we need a
opposition movement to save the Malamoi forest. Investors do not look
after the interest of oppressed people”, said Manu.

Wilson Mobalen, a demonstrator, stressed that all people should have the
right to self determination in their home country, which means they can
do withoutd oil palm.

“Our fate is not determined by oil palm but by God. Forest and Nature
have taught and raised us. Oil palm is not the right recipe for Papuan
people, especially the Moi people. God is the one who decides our fate”,
he said.

The demonstration took place under the surveillance of hundreds of
officers from the Sorong Regency police station. Once they had
communicated their demands, the crowds dispersed in an orderly way.

Separately, Greenpeace forest campaigner, Richard Charles Tawaru said
that essentially, the indigenous people’s demonstration had underlined
that the community did not want any more oil palm expansion in Sorong
Regency.

“The people have had bad experiences with oil palm, which has brought no
benefits, but has caused the forest to disappear along with animals for
hunting, and water sources are reduced,” Charles said when called from
Manokwari last night.

The demonstrators used the example of two oil palm companies that are
already operating in the area, PT Henrison Inti Persada, which started
its plantation in Klamono in 2006 and PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera, which has
been in the Salawati area since 2008.

The demo was also to show community opposition to plans to clear another
24000 hectares of land for oil palm in the area, which had already been
granted an in-principle permit by the government.

The planned expansion would take place in Klaili, Klasow and Moraid
sub-districts, by two companies from the same group: PT Mega Mustika
Plantation has permits for over 9300 hectares and PT Cipta Papua
Plantation has permits for over 15000 hectares.

According to Charles, these permits originated in the Sorong Regency
Forest Management Unit(KPH) scheme which was suggested by the Sorong
local government and agreed to by the forestry ministry. Chalres said
that even the forestry ministry had granted permits for this vast new
oil palm project.

Source: Cahaya Papua

Tolak Ekspansi Sawit, Masyarakat Adat dan Aktivis Geruduk DPRD Sorong

Brimob and how the Yerisiam Gua people’s sago groves were cleared: PUSAKA

By Zely Ariane for Yayasan Pusaka

English Translation by AwasMIFEE

11 May 2016

Sima village, Nabire – During a discussion on Monday 9th May community representatives were asked if they agreed with PT Nabire Baru’s statement that police mobile brigade (Brimob) were stationed on the company’s premises because the community had requested their presence. They instantly replied that they didn’t.

“How could we have asked for them? How could bringing in Brimob to work as security guards be anything to do with us? We have never asked Brimob to come here. Actually their presence makes us feel nervous, not safe”, said Karel Maniba during the discussion.

The communities were protesting the presence of Brimob guards who protect the company’s operations fully armed, causing anxiety within the community. Brimob were seen on the ground when the Manawari sago grove was first cleared on 12th April 2016.

That day Enos Abujani was the first to notice two excavators clearing the sago grove and immediately went to tell his neighbours. Armed Brimob guards were there, watching over the land clearing.

Around 550 square metres were cleared on the 12th April 2016, including 15 stands of sago palms. “I felt my stomach churning as I watched them work. It was as if they were destroying the contents of my stomach”, said Gunawan Inggeruhi who joined three other community members in protesting the land clearance the following day. [The sago palm is the staple food of lowland Papuans].

The community challenged the land clearance four times. On the 16th April, as the company still hadn’t stopped work, they went both morning and afternoon to complain.

“It’s just that sago grove that we are asking they don’t clear. Because that is our livelihood. If I pound the sago inside the trunk, I can get 100,000 Rupiah, I can buy the things I need, such as salt, MSG, soap. If the grove is cleared I feel I have lost out, I feel sorrow, as if I have been stripped naked”, said Mama Yakomina Manuburi, holding back her anger.

Some community members have already been to ask members of the District Legislative Council (DPRD) to help, or have sent complains about this problem to the Nabire police chief. A representative of DPRD Commission I has been to visit the area. However, neither the council or the police chief have shown any clear will to stop the sago groves being cleared.

The Yerisiam Gua community collect signatures to save the Sago Groves

The Yerisiam Gua indigenous group have collected 110 signatures supporting their opposition to the clearance of the sacred Manawari sago groves around Sima village, in Yaur sub-district by PT Nabire Baru.

The signatures were collected on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th May, as a response to a letter from the company which stated that opposition within the Yerisiam community was only coming from a handful of people and had been provoked by certain individuals.

“This company is pretty smart at deception, everything it says in the letter is incorrect. There are currently quite a lot of people who know about the company’s lies and oppose its presence here”, said Yance Maniburi irritatedly when the letter of response was read out in the discussion between representatives of the Yerisiam Gua indigenous group on Tuesday.

Nabire Baru’s parent company Goodhope Holdings were responding to a protest letter from the Yerisiam Gua community concerning the company’s presence and the work being carried out. The company did not give a specific response concerning its current clearance of sacred sago groves.

In the letter addressed to Forest Peoples Programme and dated 29th April 2016, Aditia Insani from Goodhope said that PT Nabire Baru had settled all issues of community rights, was in possession of all the required permits and had corporate social responsibility programmes in place.

He also stated that Brimob were stationed in the company’s area because local people had requested protection from the threat of armed groups.

“Brimob forces are not involved in acts of violence”, Aditia said in the letter.

On the 19th April, the Yerisiam Gua commuity sent a letter protesting about PT Nabire Baru to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, via Yayasan Pusaka. The complaint was in connection with the expansion of the company’s work area to include the sacred Manawari sago grove and the presence of Brimob guards which was causing anxiety within the community.

According to Y.L. Franky, Director of Yayasan Pusaka who forwarded the Yerisiam Gua people’s request, four issues form the basis for the community’s position.

Firstly, PT Nabire Baru has from the outset attempted to win the support of a small group of community members to release community lands, without a general meeting or the agreement of the wider Yerisiam community which holds the land rights.

Secondly The Yerisiam indigenous community have repeatedly complained and spoken of the problems of this land expropriation, their suffering and losses and the violent practices used by Brimob security guards in their approach to these problems, but the government and company have ignored and failed to respect the community’s complaints or opinions about these matters.

Thirdly, the company has cleared ecologically important natural forest resulting in deforestation, and as a result the community have lost a source of income, and there has been recent serious flooding inundating Sima village where the Yerisiam people live.

Fourthly, the company’s attempts to clear the sacred Jarae and Manawari sago groves, contravening an agreement made with the community in February 2016 which opposed a smallholder scheme in the sago area.

The company had promised not to disturb the sago groves. “Previously they said that they would leave the sago groves as an enclave owned by the Yerisiam people”, said Agus Henawi. “But it seems as if their objective is to finish us off”.

The Yerisiam Gua community have stressed that the promises PT Nabire Baru made since it commenced its investment have still not been fulfilled.

“Right at the beginning they promised to build a school, a church and houses but not one of these promises has been met yet”, said Mrs Yance Rumbiak.

She feels that since the company arrived the people have been made to suspect each other, causing divisions within families, setting people against one another and making village life uncomfortable.

Zely Ariane reporting from Sima Village, Nabire.