I am writing to you concerning the Indonesian military operation that is occurring in the Puncak Jaya regency of West Papua. Media reports have indicated that up to 600 TNI personal are involved in “sweeping “ operations in the region. In the latest incident four civilians , one women and 3 children were wounded when Indonesian troops from the Infantry Battalion 753 , who are based in Nabire fired into huts in the villiage of Kalome while searching for members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). The incident occurred on the 12 July.
These aggressive military operations in pursuit of the OPM leave the local people traumatised and in fear for their lives. Many reports have pointed out the the security forces have great difficulty distinguishing between what the term separatists and the general public. During these military operations villages are destroyed as well as gardens and livestock. While the OPM are committed to peaceful dialogue, the retain the right to self defence and protecting the local people if attacked. Although the security forces try to blame all incidents in the area on the OPM, many attacks on the TNI are by unknown attackers .
Tensions are always high in the Puncak Jaya regency because of the regular military operations that occur in the area. Suspecion between the local people and the TNI remain high with the security forces accusing locals of supporting the OPM while the local people accuse the Indonesian military of human rights abuses.
In May the military began a “socialising programme “ in Puncak Jaya involving up to 300 Army, Air Force and Navy personnel . The programe is proposed to run for four months and is to include the renovating of homes, churches and markets. However, local people believe it is simply a shield and a cover-up of the violation of human rights abuses that have occurred in the region. It is all reminiscent of the US programme to win the “hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people.
The problems in West Papua won’t be solved by Jakarta deploying more troops to the region or conducting more military operations. In September last year the House of Representatives (DPR) Law Commission deputy chairman Tjatur Sapto Edy commenting on a report by Komnas HAM on past military operations in the PUNCAK Jaya Rregion said “there should be no more military operations and such approaches are no longer suitable in a democracy”.
We urge you to use your good offices with the Indonesian Government to
call on the Indonesian President to halt all military operations in West Papua and return all military personal to their barrack as a way of easing tension and saving lives.
CC. The Hon Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Defence
Komnas HAM meets military commander to discuss human rights violations
Jayapura: Many human rights violations are now confronting the National
Human Rights Commission – Komnas HAM in Papua. Commission deputy
chairman Nurcholis paid a visit to the command centre of the Cenderawasih Military Command to discuss two important problems.
The first was about the security situation at Freeport. ‘A few weeks ago, we
received complaints from workers at Freeport about the security situation at the company and this is now being discussed with the military commander.’
The security problem began when some Freeport employees made complaints
about the situation and the families of the victims went to Komnas HAM, seeking assurances that legal processes would begin quickly.
The second problem relates to the shooting of members of the TNI in Puncak Jaya. But apart from these casualties, there were four civilian casualties, a woman and three small children. ‘We need to know whether these casualties were wounded or had died,’ he said. Nurcholis stressed the need for caution about information being received, so as to correctly determine what measures need to be taken. ‘We are now gathering more complete information with the help of the human rights commission in Papua, to ensure that speedy action can be taken to solve the issue.’
Meanwhile, there are reports that some villagers have fled their homes because of armed skirmishes between civilian forces and the TNI in Puncak Jaya. He said: ‘If this is indeed happening, we hope to solve the problem so that our activities can focus on restoring security,’ he said.
No access to Puncak Jaya
He said that Komnas HAM is not at present able to gain access to Puncak Jaya and can only establish contact by phone. ‘The core of the problem needs to be dealt with through dialogue while recognising that this will not be easy. The next move will be to consult with the ministry of political and legal affairs, with dialogue being the only choice, and one that is supported by most of those involved so as to ensure that the difficulties can be overcome.’
Komnas HAM is checking whether the victims are civilian or military and whether the victims were wounded or have died. When asked how long this would take, Nurcholis said that he could not say.
‘The best indicator for solving human rights issues is not fixing a time frame but finding the best way to solve the problem ,’ said Nurcholis.
by Nick Chesterfield, with local sources and agencies
WestPapuaMedia.Info – Indonesian Army (TNI) troops have shot 3 young children and a mother in Puncak Jaya, West Papua, in the latest atrocities carried out during a two-week military offensive aimed at ending armed resistance to Indonesian Rule over the occupied colony.
Ny Dekimira, 50, was hit on the right foot, and the three children – Jitoban Wenda 4, and their neighbors Dekimin Wenda, 3, and Dimison Wenda, 8 – all had bullets hit their left legs after Indonesian troops fired indiscriminately into the honai (huts) just before dawn on July 14, according to local witnesses.
Credible reports about the scale of the offensive are beginning to filter through from the remote and inaccessible area about the scale of the offensive The Indonesian government has closed off access to the Tingginambut district to both Indonesian and foreign human rights and media observers, and local activists have had to march for days across rugged terrain to get out verified information. Local human rights observers and Papuan activists have independently reported to West Papua Media that TNI headquarters staff have threatened their safety if they alert journalists to abuses carried out by Indonesian security forces against West Papuan people.
Undeterred, the mass based Papuan activist network West Papua National Committee (KNPB) have accused the Indonesian Military “under the regime of General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyhono”
of manipulating the situation in Puncak Jaya to conduct military domination and control of the local population, despite the recent public relations offensive that it was engaged in “bakti” social service campaigns to help the people. According the KNPB, the TNI should not cover up their mistakes and militarism by engaging in social activities – they should cease military activities on civilians altogether.
“Their reasons make no sense, because it’s so funny that the military themselves who set fire to the houses of citizens in almost all settlements, Indonesian military who burned alive the people’s animals, burned residents’ gardens; and now the TNI and Police are trying to justify themselves as heroes by playing a cheap propaganda in the media, ” said a KNPB spokesperson on Saturday.
Activists from the area have provided photographs to West Papua Media
showing the fully armed troops previously working on the Bakti projects suddenly boarding Puma helicopters in transit to the combat zone around Kalome.
TribuneNews.com quoted the TPN Secretary General for the Highlands Area, General Anthony Wenda, saying that villagers reported the shooting in Kalome on July 7 happened before dawn when residents were still asleep. “At that time, we’re on guard night and day in Kalome, and a barrage of bullets from the TNI were directed into a house of children and the elderly,” said Wenda to Tribunnews.com. “We always will be ready to make contact with TNI weapons until we are free, because this is the struggle of our people of West Papua.”
After this shootout, the force reportedly involving over 600 soldiers from the notorious 753 Battalion based in Nabire, have sought to enforce their control over the rugged and remote district. 753 Battlalion’s operations in the Kalome area reached international infamy in 2010 when troops tortured and killed Rev Kindeman Gire, and also with the torture of Tunaliwor Kiwo. Kiwo’s torture, captured on video and uploaded to Youtube, created outrage that shone an international spotlight on the TNI’s behaviour against civilians in Papua. The Indonesian government was later caught red-handed as it switched the defendants in the torture trial widely seen as farcical, and ran a military trial on issues of discipline instead of human rights abuses. Since this time, TPN fighters been permanently around the village for protection. However, the TPN are poorly armed and their hardware is no match for a fully equipped modern military.
The current offensive comes as the Indonesian military is attempting to convince international observers that it is improving its human rights practice. Last week, as troops were engaging both civilians and fighters from the National Liberation Army (TPN-PB), the commander of the TNI in West Papua,
Major General Erfi Triassunu, was duplicitous in speaking about ending impunity and abuses by its soldiers at the Jakarta-sponsored Papua Peace Network (Jaringan Damai Papua or JDP) conference in Jayapura. Dr Neles Tebay and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), the organisers of the conference, were apparently unaware of the contradiction at this time, a contributing factor in the boycott or skepticism of the Peace Talks by the majority of Papuan representative organisations.
Yet according to the KNPB, one of the several sectors suspicious of the JDP, this peace process is illegitimate. “Do not imagine Peace (will be brought) by the JDP, Indonesian Government through Governor, DPRP, TNI or the police in Papua. Because in reality, Papua is a military zone by their physical and systematic actions done to destroy the Papuans and to control this region for the glory of foreign investors.”
According to Tribunnews.com, Maj-Gen Triassunu conceded that troops may have shot the Kalome villagers. “The possibility exists, but we have not received a report from our post in Puncak Jaya”. Triassunu denied the incident in Kalome was proof that civilians were targeted. “We just pursued the TPN OPM in mountainous regions, because Papua is part of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia,” he told Tribune News.
However, the Head of Information Department of the Army (Kadispenad) Brigadier General Wiryantoro would not comment on this allegation. “It’s related to operations of TNI forces deployment. When it comes to coaching the Army personnel, or related to the pure strength of the army, I can not answer” (Tribunnews.com)
When contacted by West Papua Media, no spokespeople for either the Indonesian military or Police made themselves available for comment on the allegations of the offensive, nor were replies made to telephone voice and text messages, or emailed questions.
West Papua Media also has made a decision to protect the identity of its sources*, as they have reported significant threats to their safety. Political activists reporting on the events have also come under significant threat. Victor Yeimo from the KNPB reports that when the Press Conference for local and national journalists to report on the Puncak Jaya incidents was called, phone and physical threats were received from persons claiming to be Pangdam (Indonesian Army Regional Commander), and Police. Yeimo reports that these callers forced KNPB to cancel the press conference about the case in Puncak Jaya. “Many journalists did not come after they terrorized by the Indonesian Military,” said Yeimo.
Siege Conditions may create humanitarian crisis
Credible local clandestine activists have relayed reports to West Papua Media of the TNI laying siege to several villages in the immediate area of Kalome, but they cannot get close enough to verify any casualties, displacement or destruction. With village sieges and actions on other villages in the past having caused significant displacement, local human rights observers fully expect the civilian death toll to rise significantly.
Hundreds of people have reportedly fled to neighbouring villages or to the hills, and observers have expressed concern that in the depths of winter, with their food crops destroyed, locally people internally displaced who may have no alternative to seek refuge in higher ground, may succumb to starvation or exposure. The areas high in the cloud forests and above the treeline are not suitable for sheltering large numbers of people, as they have been denuded by countless thousands of internally displaced refugees from previous military offensives.
Since the first aerial bombing campaigns by the Indonesian Air Force in 1978 in Puncak Jaya, almost every year from July to August, the TNI has launched offensives against civilians across the highlands. An identical offensive in 2003 was investigated by Komnas HAM (Indonesian National Human Rights Commission), which found that the Australian-trained Kopassus special forces committed gross human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. Similar offensives occurred in 2005, 2006, and 2007, which forced several thousand people into famine conditions high in the mountains, above the treeline. Last year also marked a particularly brutal operation, only noted by foreign media due to the inescapable viral distribution of the torture videos.
In light of the allegations of brutality by the TNI in Kalome, independence activists are also challenging the notion that the armed resistance practiced by Tabuni’s forces is terrorism. According to a KNPB spokesman, “The TPN under the Goliat Tabuni continues to struggle, not for a personal profit nor to legitimise the habit of TNI and POLRI to obtain security protection payments. The struggle is resistance to colonial occupation by Indonesia of West Papua, especially in Puncak Jaya … the reason the TPN was formed”
The recent deaths of TNI and Police.in Puncak Jaya is the fault of the generals in the view of the KNPB, who say that their policies and command structure sacrifice the members of it security apparatus. “Victims will continue to fall if SBY and (TNI Command) prioritize militaristic ways to solve West Papua’s problems, by dropping hundreds of soldiers everyday to Puncak Jaya”.
“If SBY does not take political will to solve the problem of West Papua immediately (by allowing an) act of self determination via a referendum then human rights violations will continue to occur,” stated the KNPB spokesman.
West Papua Media was this week contacted by a retired European missionary who had formerly served in Puncak Jaya regency who was concerned about the current situation. He offered the following comments on condition of anonymity, as he is concerned for reprisals for his former colleagues:
“Burning villages, causing people to flee with nothing but the clothes they wear, creating absolute terror amongst ordinary people, condemning babies to die starving and frozen hiding from the soldiers high in the mountains, killing and torturing priests and laymen alike… who are the real terrorists? This is not new, this slaughter happens every year since Indonesia first came – they are not hunting guerrillas, they are hunting Papuans until they are dead. Whilst we might not always agree with the strategies employed by TPN, and that we pray for a peaceful solution, they are a legitimate army of national liberation there to protect their people in the absence of any international concern.”
West Papua Media will continue to provide monitoring and coverage of this evolving situation. Please send any tips or corrections to editor<at>westpapuamedia.info
*Please note: bona fide journalists can be provided with sources if they are doing a story on this issue, but for their safety, their identities are strictly not for publication.
(Please note: By republishing this plea for help, West Papua Media does not necessarily explicitly endorse the call for arms. We believe the situation would be far better served by allowing international journalists, and UN peacekeepers to be sent into this area to prevent this carnage. However, in the absence of this, all peoples have the right to self-defence and self-determination, and therefore we cannot oppose the legitimate calls to assist in self-defence).
Report from Piron Moribnak
ARMY’S SOCIALISING PROGRAMME IS BEING USED TO CRUSH TPN/OPM LED BY GOLIAT TABUNI IN PUNCAK JAYA
The doubts of people living in the central highlands about a socialising programme launched by the commander of Cenderawasih Military Command/XVII to create harmony which has been under way since 2 May 2011 have been confirmed. The programme is nothing more than a shield which became clear when troops involved in the socialising programme suddenly halted these activities and started to conduct sweepings as part of a military operation.
Since 6 – 8 July, fully armed troops have surrounded the headquarters of the TPN/OPM under the command of General Goliat Tabuni in Tingginambut and a battle has been raging since 5 July during which three TNI soldiers were shot in Kalome, district of Tingginambut, and were flown by helicopter to Jayapura.
The TNI’s programme to build houses for the local people and to give sermons at prayer meetings on Sundays as well as to carry out mass medical treatment for local communities has failed to win the support of the local communities. They have rejected TNI sermons in the churches, while the offer of medical treatment has failed to persuade the local people to get medical treatment free of charge . On the contrary, the local people have chosen to remain silent and have fled from locations where mass medical treatment is on offer. This is because the Papuan people living in Puncak Jaya regard the military as murderers of the Papuan people and have refused to accept these military programmes.
The army’s socialising programme in Puncak Jaya is nothing but a shield and a cover-up of the violation of human rights at a time when human rights are of paramount importance throughout the world.
The TNI is concealing its plan to crush General Goliat Tabuni by means of military operations so as to enable them to counter our doubts about these socialising activities because we have been disrupted and have taken measures to protect ourselves.
It is an irony that we Papuan people do not possess the means to resist the TNI which has all the necessary equipment whereas Goliat Tabuni has nothing more than a few of weapons, making it very difficult for him to mount a proportionate response . Is there a country anywhere in the world that is willing to supply military weapons to Goliath Tabuni to make it possible for him to make a proportionate response? … if General Goliat is forced to end his struggle … at the hands of the TNI? [/Several gaps in this sentence make it difficult to decipher the precise meaning. TAPOL/]
We pray that there is nowhere in the world for their protection and that Almighty God will protect us.
This is our response to the call by the chief of police in Puncak Jaya via the intermediary of the head of the district of Mulia for the local people to halt all their activities from 8 July and to remain in their homes from 6pm every evening.
NOTE: General Goliat Tabuni is now seriously cornered because of his lack of weapons and we call for the prayers of the Papuan people everywhere in the fight against the NKRI military and for strength from the Almighty God.