Tag Archives: civilian displacement

Violence continues to intensify across Paniai, towns emptied as TNI/Polri conduct reprisals after TPN attacks.

October 21, 2012

By Nick Chesterfield at West Papua Media

Special Investigation

As a major crackdown by Indonesian security forces deepens against West Papuan civil resistance activists ahead of mass mobilisations across Papua, West Papua Media is examining Papuan nationalist motivations for resistance, revisiting a region that has been continuously wracked by security force violence connected to illegal gold mining and resource extraction.

The Paniai regency, which straddles the “neck” of the Papuan “bird of Paradise” landform, is the site of a new gold rush that has resulted in brutality against ordinary indigenous tribal and townspeople.

Intensifying acts of violence by Indonesian security forces has reportedly emptied towns in the Paniai district of West Papua, with civilians allegedly fleeing in their thousands to the jungle outside the Enarotoli region, according to human rights sources in Paniai.

Regular reports have been received over recent weeks from church human rights sources detailing a campaign of arbitrary brutality committed by soldiers from the notorious Nabire-based 753 Battalion of the Indonesian army (TNI) , together with Brimob paramilitary police, against indigenous people primarily from the Mee tribe.  Random attacks on ordinary villagers, drunken altercations at gambling venues, and sporadic attempts by indigenous Mee people to claim any share of the vast sums of wealth flowing out of their lands, have all contributed to a sense of brutalization endured by the Mee people in recent months.

Engagements between forces of the Paniai command of the West Papuan National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional) and both Brimob and 753 Btn troops have been used as justification for violence against civilians, and several incidents connected to TNI business activities across the regency have increased tensions.

Daily confirmed reporting from church human rights sources in the Paniai have detailed a litany of abuses by security forces, including, torture, unprovoked killings, shootings, and beatings over economic turf wars.

Torture over taxi turf

On October 1, a misunderstanding quickly escalated to a torture incident in Waghete, in the Deiyei district of Paniai, illustrating perfectly the mundane economic triggers of abuse carried out by security force members.  A local district official Marion Dogopia, Head of Bouwobado District, Deiyai, was been driven in an official car (with yellow government plates) from Enarotoli to Waghete.  In the car were Dogopia’s driver, and his Papuan Police officer bodyguard, Ones Pigome.  The car turned into the Waghete bus terminal to pick up further family members, where a TNI Btn 753 soldier, moonlighting as a taxi driver, started an argument with the driver, according to a church human rights investigation seen by West Papua Media.

Across Indonesia, the TNI control the taxi and ojek (motorbike taxi) industry, which is used as both a good source of intelligence and a lucrative, effortless cash source for bored soldiers – who protect their turf ruthlessly.  According to witnesses quoted in the human rights investigation, the soldier taxi driver  – who was first in line at the taxi rank – angrily accused the official’s driver of being a taxi and picking up passengers  at the bus station, a place where taxis are not allowed to operate.  Despite the driver and Dogopia trying to calmly explain that the vehicle was a private vehicle and was not taking fares, the soldier refused to listen.

At this point, the municipal police officer Pigome, started to get angry at the soldier, and shouted and slapped the soldier, demanding he stand down.  The soldier resisted and called out his colleagues from Battalion 753, who were loitering at an army post 50 metres away.    According to witnesses, several dozen soldiers rushed over complete with their equipment and weapons, and pulled Ones Pigome out from his car. They severely beat the victim, kicked him, tore his clothes, and stomped him with their boots after he fell helplessly. As a result, Pigome sustained deep lacerations , contusions and swelling upon his head , face and body.

In a chilling reminder of the dangers faces to both journalists and witnesses to Indonesian state violence – and a sign of the fear that state abuse perpetrators in Papua have of being held to account by growing citizen media power – witnesses reported that several soldiers were standing guard while their colleagues were beating up Pigome, keeping watch after the voices of several 753 members could be heard saying “see who is taking photos or videos”.  Witnesses reported that soldiers took their rifles up to low ready positions and intimidated citizens, so that nobody was allowed to take photos.   The beating was reported to have lasted over an hour.

Despite the very public nature of the beating and ill-discipline in torturing another member of the security forces, no sanction against the offending 753 soldiers was reported.  This further example of impunity has contributed to the tension and feeling that the TNI is out to cause indiscriminate violence to Papuans, as collective punishment for the temerity of any challenge to Jakarta’s colonial plunder.

Military contacts increase

Indonesian army officers from 753 have also recently been implicated in several other incidents.

On Thursday October 11, a joint Indonesian army and Brimob patrol sent to secure logistics from the TPN for local elections, was moving in a speedboat up the Kebo River from Enarotoli.  According to reports, the army was using a civilian speedboat on Waneuwo Creek, Agadide District, and a TPN patrol saw this and opened fire on the boat, allegedly with a rocket propelled grenade according to MetroTV, though no evidence was provided for this claim.  In the firefight, the boat carrying food and logistical supplies for the TNI was sunk, and two TNI soldiers sustained gunshot wounds in their hands and feet.

The military conducted reprisals immediately by opening fire indiscriminately on civilian fishing boats tied up at the Aikai fishing hamlet in Enarotoli.  Civilians were then rounded up at gunpoint in the suburb of Bobaigo in Enarotoli, arrested without charge or justification – all are still being held at different police posts for interrogation.  West Papua Media has been unable to ascertain the identities of those arrested.

Prior to the latest wave of violence, throughout August a series on attacks on military posts, local officials, ordinary people and transmigrant workers were widely blamed on the ubiquitous “unknown persons” (OTK) killed 5 people, and critically injured another 6.  These OTK attacks, now wryly interpreted by Papuans to mean “Specially Trained Persons” (Orang Terlatih Khusus), were used as justification by security forces to conduct widespread reprisals against Papuan civilians.  As is the usual case, police have been in no hurry to identify the perpetrators with evidence, or do anything other than cooperate in extra-judicial operations, according to independent sources in Enarotoli.

In August, the reprisal by security forces forced a closure of the town of Enarotali, with schools, public transport and food supplies paralysed.  All health services in the District General Hospitals across Paniai were not running, as nurses, medical staff and patients were forcibly discharged by the security forces.  Civilians were unable to engage in farming, causing crops and food supplies to suffer, and were unable to gather firewood in the forest or fishing in the lake.  According to testimonies, the atmosphere was constantly coloured by the sounds of gunfire.  This situation was experienced by people in the city Enarotali, Madi (Paniai regency capital) and surrounding areas in Paniai.

After a period of relative calm in September, this situation is again being repeated through the behaviour of 753 Battalion and the members of Brimob, who are intricately entangled in the illegal gold mining trade.  West Papua Media reported in December 2011 on the ruthless Operation Matoa which was launched across the region to destroy the TPN forces of Jhon Yogi – resulting in the displacement of over 14,000 people, almost 150 villages burnt down and the failure of basic services for almost a year.

Violence over illegal gold control

Brimob paramilitary police, who were stationed in the Degeuwo and Derero River alluvial gold diggings, were providing a lucrative protection racket for the Australian-owned West Wits Mining and other foreign small scale mining companies, which was detailed in an original investigation by West Papua Media.  During Operation Matoa, helicopters leased by West Wits were allegedly provided to Indonesian security forces, who used them to strafe and napalm villages in the TPN stronghold of Eduda.  Then, as now, creating conflict to be suppressed is a powerful economic motivator for Brimob and 753 troops, who would otherwise be without “legitimate” reason to be around the gold diggings, and all the opportunities for profit that entails.  Brimob troops are contracted in lucrative business interests across the alluvial gold mining sector as they provide security for diggings, and also provide site security for several joint operations

The TPN forces of Jhon Yogi have long been suspected by observers as entangled in a mutually beneficial relationship of violence with both Brimob police and 753 Btn, as they both vie for control of artisanal alluvial gold mining operations across the rich rivers and streams that lead into Lake Paniai.

One observer of the Paniai struggle spoken to by West Papua Media today questioned if the perpetrators of ongoing repression were “simply bored 19 year olds with guns, Mafioso soldiers protecting their turf, or entangled business relationships between all actors in a classic horizontal resource based conflict.

On October 12, another armed contact occurred between Yogi’s TPN troops and another joint Brimob/753 patrol on a road near Tanjung Toyaimoti, Agadide District, according to TPN sources.   Citizen media sources reported that Jhon Yogi’s TPN unit was ambushed by the Brimob while Yogi’s men were on their way from Pasir Putih District to Komopa.  The sources claim that TPN were startled by gunshots near the village and returned fire in a shootout for several minutes.   Two TPN members were shot, one (Dabeebii Gobai, 26 years old) critically, and died the next day.

It is unclear how or why the vastly outgunned TPN unit was able, or allowed, to escape by Brimob officers, despite having several mobile units on call.  The failure to capture Yogi has raised significant questions as to desire of Brimob to capture him.

A senior church source in Paniai questioned the conditions behind the conflict and the commitment for actors in the conflict to actually seek peace.  According to the source, this situation has created a psychological trauma where “Paniai people are still living in the same uncertain circumstances (as when) the area was considered to be a ​​military operations area (DOM) until 2002. … We predict that such incidents are likely to continue to occur because both parties have still not demonstrated an attitude to restrict their areas of movement nor invite each other to prioritise persuasive (unarmed dialogue-based) approaches. It is often difficult to accept such offers.”

He continued, “All parties in Paniai remain indifferent to these problems occurring, even though the victims are often civilians. Maybe it’s because violence is considered normal in Paniai?”

Westpapuamedia

Paniai people call for a halt to the deployment of more troops

JUBI, 25 August 2011

Following the armed skirmishes between the Indonesian army and police with a group thought to be the TPN/OPM led by John Magay Yogi, and a number of mysterious shooting incidents, the towns of Enarotali and Madi in Paniai district are full of military personnel who have arrived from outside Paniai.  Although the situation was thought to have improved, the presence of military personnel has spread anxiety among the population.

The reason for the increased deployment of troops to Paniai may be to hunt down some weapons that were seized by unidentified persons from the police station in Komopa, sub-district of Agadide on 16 August.  Or is it because Paniai is regarded as an area of conflict which needs extra action on the security front?

Whatever the reason, the local people along with local government officials long for a peaceful Paniai and call for a halt to the dispatch of more military troops. The local people have called on the local military chief, the military commander of XVII/Cenderawasih military command as well as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to pull back these troops from the area.

A local community leader said: ‘Paniai is calm but many troops and police have been sent here. Is it because there is a war?’

According to Yafeth Y Kayame, head of the Suku Mee people, the additional deployment of many troops to Paniai has undermined the call for peace that was made last Saturday in Enarotali.. Local people have become more frightened than ever.

People are asking ‘Why have they come to Paniai? Enarotali and Paniai are not areas of conflict so the authorities must stop sending troops here.’ They have been arriiving here over the past four days, so who do they want to fight with? Or do they want to kill all of us here?’

The local administration should not keep silent but should take steps to safeguard security for the population. If it is only to re-capture two firearms, then the troops already here would surely be enough, without bringing in more troops, they say.

Many people think that the presence in the area of TPN/OPM forces in Eduda is being used as a justification to bring troops here from Jayapura and Nabire. According to some sources, in addition to infantry brigade 753/Arga Vira Tama Nabire, a Brimob company is also being deployed to Paniai.

Although this has been denied by Major-General Erfi Triassunu, the military commander of XVII/Cenderawasih military command, the fact is that these ‘new’ troops can be seen almost every day driving along the roads in convoys.

Meanwhile, anxiety has continued to spread among the local people and many have left their homes with a new exodus starting on Tuesday.

[Slightly abridged translation by TAPOL]

Bintang Papua: DPRP member calls for end to separatist stigma

Bintang Papua, 9 February 2011

[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]

STOP SILENCING PAPUANS WITH THE SEPARATIST STIGMA

The chairman of Commission A of the provincial legislative assembly, the DPRP, Ruben Magai, has called on the police chief to stop using political stigmatisation when conducting operations in Papua. Such statements, he said, result in scaring the indigenous Papuan people and trying to silence them.

These remarks followed a recent statement by a police officer [lower down, it is clear that the statement was made by the police chief] alleging that the OPM is present in the region of Degeuwo, on the border between Paniai and Nabire,. where security disturbances have recently occurred.

Regardless of whether the police have firm evidence, such statements are a form of character assassination, in a region that is known to have abundant natural resources where investors would be keen to invest, with the backing of the security apparatus.

‘This kind of thing is very bad and should be corrected,’ he said. ‘It is as if all the security disturbances are the work of separatists and have nothing to do with injustice. When the term separatism is used in Papua, it is clearly directed against the Papuans who live in the area.’

He warned of a high-level conspiracy by people in authority. All this makes the indigenous Papuans harbour feelings of hostility towards those who make such baseless statements. The term NKRI (Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia) should not be the exclusive property of people in officialdom. People throughout the territory , including those living in the interior, should be able to speak loud and clear about the NKRI.

But at a time when the state is engaged in a number of questionable activities, including acts of violence against the population in the interior as well as making all kinds of baseless accusations, such things can only spread a feeling of insecurity and anxiety for isolated communities in the interior who know very little about what is going on. ‘What they do know is that they are suffering from injustice as well as the consequences of development which have destroyed their natural resources.’

They are living without any guarantees for security in their old age, which is something that should be taken into consideration, he said.

The age-long problems will remain unresolved as long as the security forces pursue the approach of violence and intimidation, he said.

 

The Alliance of Intellectuals is also disappointed by the chief of police

Similar views have been expressed by the Alliance of Intellectuals of Suku Wolani Moni, who regret the statement made by the chief of police to the effect that the OPM has a base in Degeuwo.

An Alliance deputy chairmen, Tobias Bagubau, said that a week ago the chief of police promised that they would put an end to illegal logging in Degeuwo. ‘As a representative of the Wolani Moni people, I regret the police chief’s statement to the effect that the OPM is based in Degeuwo whereas in fact there are no OPM members in Degeuwo.’

He said that he thinks the police chief is playing a new game of distracting attention from all the unresolved problems. ‘Please stop making such allegations about the OPM in Degeuwo. What we want is for the problem of illegal mining to be halted,’ he said.

He said that he can’t stop wondering why the police chief is always making such statements which can only lead to widespread feelings of dissatisfaction and result in insecurity for the state.

‘If the OPM is indeed here, they should be arrested. After all, there are plenty of members of the security forces based here,’ he said.

News from Papua: Villagers flee to PNG, 7 arrested; DAP leader on Papua's peaceful struggle; Imparsial on need to criticise Komnas HAM

>From Bintang Papua, 19 October 2010

DOZENS FLEE TO PNG

After the Papuan Morning Star Flag was recently flown outside a
customary dwelling in Kampung Ambora, dozens of villagers have fled
across the border to Papua New Guinea, fearing that they are likely to
be hunted down by the security forces.

This was confirmed for Bintang Papua  by Decky Yakore, a member of the
district legislative council  - DPRD of Jayawijaya district..

In connection with this incident, the local police force in Jayapura -
polres Jayapura - have taken seven people into custody. They have
already been designated as suspects and will face charges under Article
110 and Article 107 of the Criminal Code, regarding conspiring to
engaged in acts to overthrow the government, and face punishment of up
to 15 years.

According to a local inhabitant named Daud (not his real name), the flag
flying occurred as the result of a provocation, and others too were
arrested. News was spread that Papua was now free, following a visit to
the area by chairman of DAP, Forkorus Yaboisembut who had just returned
from the USA, which inspired the people to unfurl the Papuan flag.

----------------

JUBI 19 October 2010

Papuan people will use peaceful means in their struggle

Forkorus Yaboisembu, chairman od DAP, the Papuan Customary Council has
said, on his return from the USA that the US government (sic) has
promised to support the struggle of  the Papuan people.He said that
fifty members of the US Congress, along with 80 representatives of a
variety of NGOs have proclaimed their support for the Papuan struggle.

The Papuan people he said are gathering together as much data as
possible and continuing to formulate their strategy for a peaceful
struggle, he said, citing the words of the leader of the Republican
Party in the US, Michael Steele.

Forkorus also met John Miller, director of the East Timor Action
Network, to discussed ETAN's support for the Papuan struggle for
independence.

'You supported Timor Leste in their struggle for freedom, which means
that you should also support Papua's struggle for freedom.

Forkorus also used this visit to Washington to inform the US government
via the intermediary of Congress about why the Papuan people want
independence . He said they had also had a  private meeting with the
Republican Party.

----------------------------

JUBI, 18 October 2010

IMPARSIAL:  Komnas HAM should be criticised

Imparsial issued a statement in Jakarta  in which it said that Komnas
HAM, the National Human Rights Commission, needs to be criticised in
connection with a number of cases of gross violations of human rights
that have occurred in Papua.

Imparsial director, Poenky Indarti said that there are many human rights
violation cases in Papua that still not been resolved. Many of the cases
have got stuck with the police and the attorney-general's office.
Poengky said: 'The police are not capable of resolving these cases.'

She said that the police are always spying on civilian activists,
especially those involved in defending human rights and always making
accusations of separatism against human rights activists.

She also said that incidents of violence continue to occur. These
include the case of Opinus Tabuni who was killed in August 2008 and the
case of the JUBI journalist Ardiansyah Matrias, who was killed on 30
July 2010.

'Human rights activists need to continue to sruggle about these cases,'
she said.

Papuans in Merauke reject MIFEE

National Executive

UNITED FRONT OF STRUGGLE OF THE PEOPLE OF WEST PAPUA [Eknas Front PEPERA PB]

‘SAFEGUARDING THE HISTORY OF THE MORNING STAR’

STATEMENT

The mega project, the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate – MIFEE – was announced on 18 February 2010 by the former Bupati of Merauke, J.G
Gebze and officially launched on 11 August 2010 by the Minister of Agriculture, Siswono Yodohusodo on behalf of the President. The project
will involve 36 investors, 13 of whom are already operating in the area. The project will cover an area of 2.5 million hectares and bring into
the area a work force of four million people.

MIFEE will have an impact on every aspect of the lives of all indigenous Papuan people, particularly the Anim Ha customary people in South Papua.
The project which has been declared a National Food Granary is unacceptable to the local communities. On 8 August 2010, the customary
Ha Anim people sent a letter to President Yudhoyono but the Indonesian State has ignored the Ha Anim people’s rejection of this project.

The attitude of the government is in contravention of the principles of democracy that have been adopted by the Indonesian state. Any legal
instrument or policy that the government intends to adopt must conform with genuine democratic mechanisms. We herewith make seven points that
would comply with these democratic mechanisms, which the government should take account of in the implementation of this project:

One, in recognition of the aspirations of the people, any government policy should be acceptable to the people after having been made public.
In the case of MIFEE, this has not happened. The MIFEE project was on the working agenda of the SBY-Budiono regime for a hundred days and it
was never made public. The decision to launch the MIFEE project did not involve the people who have customary rights over the land; there were
no meaningful negotiations in compliance with rights and responsibilities taking into account the needs of the people. In other
words, the government and the investors regard this region of Papua as being land that doesn’t belong to anyone. The government and the
investors are not interested in the people but only in the land and its natural resources.

Two, the aspirations of the people as well as the policy of the government should be drawn up within a legal framework. In the case of
MIFEE, the interests of the Indonesian state are involved and therefore during the one hundred day period, the SBY-Budiono government entered
into a Memorandum of Understanding – MoU – with the foreign investors, after which the MoU was adopted as a draft regional regulation – RAPERDA
– of the district of Merauke.

Three, the results of these decisions should have been discussed with the people. In the case of MIFEE, neither the MoU nor the RAPERDA were
discussed with the people. Nor did the plans that were drawn up involve the customary people, the owners of the land. Neither the Indonesian
government nor the local government did anything to publicise the MoU or the RAPERDA.

Four, adoption of the legal documents. The MoU entered into by the SBY-Budiono government during the one hundred day preparatory period was
adopted as Regional Regulation (Perda) No 23 by the Bupati of Merauke, John Gluba Gebze.

Five, there was no announcement of the decision that had been taken regarding the MIFEE project. As is always the case in Papua, the
decisions were not made known to the people: neither the MoU nor the Perda were made known to the customary owners of the land.

Six, adoption of a legal decision. The announcement of the MIFEE project by John Gluba Getze on 12 February, 2010, the 108^th anniversary of the
town of Merauke, was officially announced on 11 August 2010 by the minister of agriculture, Siswono on behalf of the President of Indonesia.

Seven, should the decision fail to comply with the interests of the people, it should be revoked, either because (a) it is ineffective or
(b) the decision in question should be amended if it is lacking in any material way. In the case of MIFEE, the Indonesian state closed its ears
to the many protests made by the indigenous people, by observers and by NGO activists. This is obvious from the fact that thirteen companies are
already operating in Merauke.

As regards the social implications, the number of inhabitants in each kampong could decline sharply and they will become a minority as
compared to ethnic groups brought in from outside Papua, a situation that will become even worse with the arrival of four million low-paid
workers, some of whom have already arrived and who will continue to arrive to work on the MIFEE project. The companies and the government
have never involved the local communities in any decision-making or other mechanisms in compliance with the basic daily needs and customs of
the local communities. The local inhabitants have become mere spectators. These violations have become part of the ‘culture’ of the
companies and the government with MIFEE serving the interests of the Indonesian state and the foreign investors. As a result, social problems
are emerging, such as ethnic cleansing or genocide which infringe the ethical and moral principles of the local tribes and the indigenous
Papuan people in general.

In view of all the above and in order to safeguard the people and land of Papua from the threat posed by the mega MIFEE project, a meeting was
held on 4 June at the OFS Convent, attended by young Papuans and students, primarily from South Papua . It was decided to set up the
Papuan People’s Solidarity to Reject MIFEE or SORPATOM.

One of its activities was the public discussion held on 11 August in Jayapura the theme of which was: ‘Investments in Papua, especially
MIFEE: A catastrophe or a blessing for the Indigenous Papuan people?’

In view of the threats posed by investments, in particular the MIFEE Mega Project, we hereby declare:

1. We support the position adopted by the Ha Nim indigenous people and their sympathisers who reject the MIFEE project on their land
because it poses a threat to the right to life of the local communities.
2. We urge the Indonesian state – SBY – to repeal the MoU about MIFEE.
3. We urge the local government to immediately revoke PERDA No 23 about MIFEE.
4. We call on the provincial assembly, the DPRP, to hold a hearing attended by all those affected, to discuss the MIFEE project.
5. We call on all those who are concerned with safeguarding the people and the land to close ranks and reject every form of
investment which poses a threat to the right to life of the local communities, especially the MIFEE project.

Port Numbay, Thursday, 30 September 2010

[Translated by TAPOL]

Papuan People’s Solidarity to Reject MIFEE or SORPATOM.