Tag Archives: East Timor and Indonesia Action Network

West Papua Report March 2013

This is the 107th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

The Report leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then “Chronicle” which lists of analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a “Perspective” or responding to one should write to edmcw@msn.com. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN.

For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.

CONTENTS

  • Civilians Suffer as Security Force Sweeps Perpetuate Cycle of Violence

UPDATE

CHRONICLE

PERSPECTIVE

Civilians Suffer as Security Force Sweeps Perpetuate Cycle of Violence

In late February, the Indonesian military (TNI) and National Police (POLRI) launched new “sweeping operations” in the Central Highlands of West Papua. The security force campaign follows the February 21 attack by the armed anti-Indonesian resistance which killed eight Indonesian military soldiers and two Indonesian civilians in Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya, reportedly carried out by Goliat Tabuni-led elements of the National Liberation Army of the Free Papua Movement (TPN-OPM). These latest Indonesian security force sweeps are disrupting civilian life in communities around Sinak, Gurage, Mulia and Tingginambut in Puncak Jaya District. Papuan leaders have condemned the violence and called anew for a Jakarta-Papua dialogue. (see for example https://westpapuamedia.info/2013/03/06/forkorus-regrets-the-death-of-indonesian-soldiers-and-civilians/ )

The latest “sweeping operation” parallels a similar ongoing operation in the neighboring Paniai area., where “helicopters belonging to illegal gold miners in Degouwo were again being used by Indonesian troops to support the operation.”

The West Papua Advisory Team (WPAT) condemns the February 21 violence. Such violent acts only perpetuate the cycle of violence that has trapped Papuans, particularly in the Central Highlands, for decades.

WPAT vigorously condemns the actions of the Indonesian state security forces which, regardless of the provocation, have a fundamental international obligation to protect civilian life. The seizure and destruction of civilian homes and communal buildings as well as destruction of civilian food sources inevitably will force the flight of civilians to inhospitable forests and mountains. Many of those caught in such a maelstrom will surely soon begin to die.

We call on governments, especially those like the United States which have partnered with Indonesian security forces , to use the influence garnered by such dubious cooperation to bring an end to these sweeps. The United States government, which condemned  the February 21 attack on the Indonesian military is obliged to forthrightly condemn and seek an end to the Indonesian security forces ongoing assault on innocent civilians.

We urge international bodies, especially the appropriate offices of the United Nations, including the Human Rights Commission, to turn their attention to these sweeping operations and which pose a lethal threat to large numbers of civilians.

Humanitarian mechanisms must be immediately established to provide for the welfare of civilians whose lives have been disrupted and the area must be opened to both the humanitarian offices that will undertake that vital work and to credible reporting by journalists and human rights reporters.

As of February 26, the Indonesian security force sweeps had burned at least 18 houses to the ground, destroyed five GIDI (Protestant) churches, and destroyed a library and two schools in Tingginambut, according to reliable church sources who relayed eyewitness accounts to West Papua Media.

The toll on local civilians posed by the military/police operations is grave: “Witnesses have also reported that soldiers are deliberately burning and destroying food gardens and shooting livestock, including over 100 pigs. There are fears of a major humanitarian disaster unfolding with the reports of the destruction of food gardens and livestock, an act of collective punishment on a civilian population,” writes West Papua Media.

Entire populations in villages the area of Gurake, Sinak, Tinggi Neri, Trugi and Nelekom have fled to the mountains. Several thousand people, mainly subsistence farmers, are said to live in the area. Townspeople from Mulia in Puncak Jaya are preparing to flee. As in the past, civilians who flee to the remote forests and mountains face possibly deadly separation from sources of food, shelter and medical care.

Another trademark of these sweeping operations, also employed in the current military/police campaign, is the prevention of reporting on developments by the authorities. The only media personnel allowed into the operations area are those with approval from the Indonesian army. Independent journalists and human rights workers have been prevented from traveling into the area by a de facto Military Operations Area being applied across the entire highlands, including the regional center of Wamena.

Papuan civil and religious leaders Rev. Dr. Benny Giay and Rev. Socratez Sofyan Yoman, among others, have pointed to the failure of Indonesian authorities to control the illegal sale of weapons in the Central Highlands as contributing to the February 21 attack. They have also noted the government’s long term objective of creating a new military command in the Central Highlands, an intention that is well served by violence in the area. “We believe that the Indonesian government and the security forces  are part of the problem of violence [emphasis in original] which has been created by the state, preserved by the state and allowed to continue in order to legitimize yet more acts of violence in the Land of Papua and to take advantage thereof in order to strengthen the security forces,” they wrote.  Both leaders called anew for “the Indonesian government to enter unconditionally into a dialogue based on the principle of equality between Indonesia and West Papua, with mediation by a neutral party, which is what happened in the dialogue between GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka — the Aceh Liberation Movement) in Aceh. ” They urged the release of political prisoners and an end to the violence. Giay is Chair of the Synod of KINGMI Church, Papua; Yoman, Chair of the Executive Board of the Alliances of Baptist Churches in Papua.

UPDATE

Papuans Seek to Join Melanesian Spearhead Group

Radio Australia, on February 5 reported that West Papuans are seeking membership in the Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG), a regional political and trade block which represents Melanesian peoples in the region, with the exception of the Papuan people in Indonesian-controlled New Guinea. The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation presented its petition asking to join the group to the MSG Secretariat in early February.

The MSG is comprised of four nation states: Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands. The group also includes the FLNKS of New Caledonia. The inclusion of the FLNKS, a non-state actor, could serve as a precedent for inclusion of the Papuan petitioners.

U.S. Author Defames Papuan People; Ignores Consequences of Indonesian Occupation

Papuan civil society leaders strongly protested statements in a book by U.S.-based author Jared Diamond which portray Papuans (in both parts of New Guinea) as warlike and backward. Diamond’s argues in The World Until Yesterday that “most small-scale societies… become trapped in cycles of violence and warfare” and that “New Guineans (Papuans) appreciated the benefits of the state-guaranteed [Indonesian Government] peace that they had been unable to achieve for themselves without state government.”

Papuan leaders noted that Diamond ignored the extraordinary violence meted out to Papuans by Indonesian security forces since Jakarta forcibly annexed West Papua over four decades ago. Diamond also ignored Jakarta’s deliberate marginalization of indigenous peoples in favor of non-Papuan “transmigrants” brought to West Papua in a decades-long project that amounts to ethnic cleansing.

Among the many protests was one by Dominikus Surabut, currently jailed for treason for peacefully declaring West Papuan independence. He aptly compared the relationship of Papuans and the Indonesian state to South African apartheid. In a statement smuggled out of his jail cell, he said, “This is the very nature and character of colonial occupation of indigenous peoples, where they are treated as second class citizens whose oppression is justified by painting them as backwards, archaic, warring tribes — just as suggested by Jared Diamond in his book about tribal people.”

Diamond was sued for defamation by purported “sources” from Papua New Guinea for article published in the New Yorker magazine in 2008. While the suit was withdrawn, it is expected that it will be re-filed soon.

WPAT Comment: The U.S. government leaders, in justifying the betrayal of Papuan self-determination aspirations in the infamous New York Agreement of 1962, similarly demeaned the supposed backwardness of the Papuan people. Both  the U.S. then and Diamond in his recent analysis rely on defamation of the people being victimized.

See various statements by Papuan leaders at: http://assets.survivalinternational.org/documents/877/papuanstatementsupdated.pdf

Tensions Grow Along Indonesia-PNG Border

The Papua New Guinea government announced the deployment of new military forces to its border in order to protect PNG citizens located near the border from the Indonesian military. The surprising February 18 announcement was accompanied by a formal protest by PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government over the Indonesia’s construction of new military posts along the border. The protest also addressed Indonesian military harassment of PNG citizens.

WPAT Comment: The Indonesian military has long operated smuggling operations across the Indonesia-PNG border and has regularly harassed Papuan refugees who have fled military pressure from Indonesia-controlled West Papua to Papua New Guinea.

CHRONICLE

A Half Century of Failure

Bobbie Anderson in Inside Indonesia provides a detailed and insightful portrayal of life in remote, rural West Papua. Anderson describes how life is extraordinarily difficult and dangerous for Papuans and writes that the population there is completely bereft of government services. The government’s neglect of the majority of Papuans who live in rural West Papua over a half century is perhaps the most devastating critique of Indonesian governance.

Urgent Appeals on Behalf of Papuans Detained and Tortured by Police

Amnesty International is calling for action to help two men detained in Jayapura. The February 25 Urgent Action states that “Daniel Gobay and Matan Klembiap are currently detained at the Jayapura district police station in Papua province. Police officers allegedly tortured or other otherwise ill-treated them and five other men while interrogating them about the whereabouts of two pro-independence activists.” While the other five were released, the other Gobay and Klembiap “have not received medical treatment and they have not had access to a lawyer since their arrest.”  The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) also released an alert on the case, as well as a video with an interview with two of those picked up at the same time as Gobay and Klembiap. The two activists, Eneko Pahabol and Obed Bahabol, describe how they “were arrested and tortured by the police on 15 February 2013 on the false allegation of being related with two pro-independence activists.” The video is available on AHRC’s YouTube Channel on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMI1HouWMv4.

Prison Torture

On February 22, AHRC has issued an Urgent Appeal on behalf of prisoners at the Abepura Correctional Facility. The appeal cites allegations of  torture by guards. It details how three prison guards “with the acquiescence of the head of the prison,” beat the prisoners “with bare hands as well as whipped [them] with thick wire until some parts of their bodies were bleeding. The guards did not give any medical treatment to the tortured prisoners.”

Papuans Behind Bars

Papuans Behind Bars published an “Update” in which it reports that “At the end of January 2013 there were 33 political prisoners in Papuan jails.”  The Update contains important information on prisoners, prisoner releases and ongoing and upcoming political trials in the region. Papuans Behind Bars is a new grassroots initiative of Papuan civil society groups working together as the Civil Society Coalition to Uphold Law and Human Rights in Papua. The project plans to “provide accurate and transparent data, published in English and Indonesian, to facilitate direct support for prisoners and promote wider debate and campaigning in support of free expression in West Papua.”

The project will publish records of over 200 current and former political prisoners on its website, which will go live in March.

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1303wpap.htm

Back issues of West Papua Report

 

West Papua Report April 2012


This is the 96th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

Summary:

An Indonesian court has sentenced five senior Papuans to three years imprisonment following their conviction on “treason” charges. They fell victim to the same undemocratic law employed against more than 90 Papuans and Malukans for their peaceful dissent in recent years. The five were charged for their central role in the October 16-19, 2011 “Third Papuan National Congress,” a peaceful assertion of Papuans’ right to self-determination that came under brutal assault by Indonesian security forces. In a statement, WPAT calls for an end to that law which was developed during Dutch colonial times, was employed by the dictator Suharto, and now has no place in a democratic Indonesia. Thousands of Papuans took to the streets in West Papua and elsewhere on the occasion of the visit to Indonesia of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The largely peaceful demonstrations called for a special referendum to at last allow Papuans a genuine act of self-determination. More than 90 international organizations have called on the U.S. Congress to block sale of Apache helicopters. They would significantly expand the capacity of Indonesian security forces to conduct “sweep operations” that have devastated rural Papuan villagers. A recent book and a commentary by a Papuan legislator have underscored the Indonesian governments persistent failure to bring essential services to rural Papuans. WPAT observes that for many rural Papuans the face of the Indonesian government is not that of a teacher, doctor or nurse but rather, that of a solider, policeman or intelligence agent.

Contents:


Papuan Leaders Sentenced to Three Years Imprisonment; Security Force Thugs Evade Justice

On March 16, an Indonesian court convicted five prominent Papuans of “treason” and handed down sentences of three years imprisonment for each of them. The charges, based on the infamous Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (see WPAT Comment below), derived from the Papuans involvement in the October 16-19, 2011 “Third Papuan National Congress” (See West Papua Report, November 2011). The victims of this travesty of justice were Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, Selfius Bobii, Agus Kraar, and Dominikus Sorabut.

The October 2011 congress drew 5000 Papuans representing all districts in West Papua. At the conclusion of this peaceful three day meeting, participants declared independence for West Papua and elected Forkorus Yaboisembut, who heads the Papuan Tribal Assembly, as their President. The congress elected Edison Waromi as Prime Minister.

The real crimes during the three day gathering were committed by the security forces, including the U.S. organized and funded Detachment 88, which along with other state security elements, that attacked the gathering shortly after it concluded. As participants were preparing to leave the open air venue, the police opened fire from their armored personnel carriers. At least three people were killed in cold blood. Participants were rounded up, beaten, kicked, and forced to crawl into the middle of the field. Some 90 sustained injuries and 300 people were arbitrarily detained.

Despite demands from Papuan, Indonesian and international organizations that the security personnel who were perpetrators of this violence be brought to trial the Indonesian government, as usual, refused to hold these elements responsible. Only 17 Indonesian police personnel received “administrative sanctions” in internal disciplinary hearings.

The trial of the five Papuans and the failure to hold security force personnel accountable for their attack has drawn protests from international non-governmental organizations. The U.S. government, however, has not reacted to these miscarriages of justice.

In one of the stronger commentaries on the travesty, Amnesty International called on Indonesian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release” the five. Amnesty said the court decision “significantly eroded Indonesia’s respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.” Amnesty International considers all five men to be prisoners of conscience, part of a group of more than 90 political activists in the provinces of Papua and Maluku “who have been imprisoned solely for their peaceful political activities.”

For its part Human Rights Watch, in addition to condemning the trial of the five and failure to address the violence against civilians perpetrated by security forces, also raised serious due process concerns. HRW cited the defense team as telling the court that police questioned their clients in the first 24 hours of arrest without their lawyers present. According to the defense team, “the men were beaten by police while in custody. Police allegedly kicked Yaboisembut in the chest and beat his head with a rifle butt. Sorabut testified that the police beat him on his head with a pistol and struck his body repeatedly with an M-16 assault rifle. Kraar said he was hit by police twice on the head with a pistol,” Human Rights Watch wrote.

Indonesia Continues to Resort to Undemocratic Means to Repress Peaceful Dissent

WPAT Statement: Indonesia continues to prosecute and punish Papuans for the peaceful exercise of their internationally recognized rights to free expression and of assembly, rights protected under international law including Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 1 of the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights. Indonesia is party to both of these treaties and is similarly obligated to protect free expression and the right of peaceful assembly under terms of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Indonesia’s own constitution (see Article 28(e) and 28(f)) protects free expression and the right of peaceful assembly. Article 28(e) states, “Every person shall have the right to the freedom of association and expression of opinion.” Article 28(f) provides for the individual “right to communicate and obtain information for the development of his/her personal life and his/her social environment, and shall have the right to seek, acquire, possess, keep, process, and convey information by using all available channels.”

The government, however, uses Articles 106 (for makar, treason), 110 (conspiracy) and 160 (incitement) of the Indonesian Criminal Code to repress peaceful free expression and assembly.

Since 2008, at least 82 Papuans have been charged under some or all of these provisions with sentences ranging from ten months to six years imprisonment. The vast majority of those charged and convicted were engaged in peaceful actions such as the raising of the Papuan “morning star” flag, a symbol that resonates as a powerful symbol of identity for many Papuans. In 1999. the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared the detention of such flag raisers was “arbitrary.”

These arbitrary restrictions originate from Indonesia’s colonial period and were used extensively by the Suharto dictatorship to repress dissent. These undemocratic provisions served not only to punish peaceful protest, but also as a powerful tool of intimidation.

Most recently, the Indonesian criminal justice system used Article 106 to target Papuans who played prominent roles in the October 16-19, 2011 “Third Papuan National Congress.” (see above) The assembly was attacked by security forces who killed at least three participants, beat scores more. and arbitrarily detained several hundred. While the Indonesian Government has prosecuted the leaders of this peaceful gathering, the government has failed to bring to justice those security forces who attacked the Congress participants.

Papuans Mark the Visit of UNSG to Stage Massive Demonstrations

Thousands of peaceful civilians demonstrated in the streets of cities and towns throughout West Papua in March in conjunction with the March 20 visit to Indonesia by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. An estimated 5000 demonstrators in the capitol, Jayapura (Port Numbay), effectively brought normal activity in that hub to a halt.

The rallies, organized by the West Papua National Committee, were largely peaceful. In a departure from usual practice some demonstrators attacked journalists covering the marches. Victor Mambor, chair of the Alliance of Independent Journalists in Jayapura, said that the presence of the TNI or police in civilian clothing near the journalists led to the journalists being regarded as “tools.” Mambor explained, “It is because there were so many security forces near the journalists who were covering the event that the journalists were thought to be collaborating with the security forces. We have to understand the situation in Papua which means that if someone realizes that there are security forces in our midst, we should not allow them any space.”

For their part, imprisoned political leaders Forkorus Yaboisembut and Edison Waromi called on the UN and others to push for the rights of West Papuans, including the right to self-determination and control over the territory’s mineral resources. West Papua was a Dutch colony until 1962 when control was handed over to the UN ahead of a planned vote on self-determination.

Groups Urge US Congress to Block Sale of U.S. Attack Helicopters to Indonesian Military

The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) organized a statement urging the U.S. government and Congress not to sell AH-64 Apache helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI).

More than 90 human rights, religious, indigenous rights, disarmament and other organizations worldwide write that “Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians, who have been the target of deadly TNI assaults for many years”

The groups believe that the helicopters will inevitably be used to augment the Indonesian security forces ongoing campaign against Papuans in rural areas. That campaign has led to the destruction of Papuan villages, the coerced displacement of thousands of Papuan civilians, and the deaths of many, either as a direct result of security force attacks or due to prolonged displacement into inhospitable jungles and forests.

The text of the petition follows:

As organizations concerned about human rights in Indonesia and West Papua, we are writing to urge the U.S. government and Congress not to allow the sale of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI). Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians, who have been the target of deadly TNI assaults for many years.
The sale of this weapons system to the TNI — notwithstanding its long record of disregard for civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations and impunity in East Timor, Aceh and elsewhere — would only increase the suffering of the Papuan population.
Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin told the Antara news agency, that Indonesia intends to buy eight AH-64 Apache helicopter from the United States.
The heavily-armed AH-64 is a highly lethal weapon which can be used to escalate conflict within Indonesia and in West Papua. These aircraft will substantially augment the TNI’s capacity to prosecute its “sweep operations” in West Papua and thereby, almost certainly lead to increased suffering among the civilian populations long victimized by such operations.
TNI “sweep operations,” including several now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua, involve attacks on villages. Homes are destroyed, along with churches and public buildings. These assaults, purportedly to eliminate the poorly armed Papuan armed resistance, force innocent villagers from their homes. Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.

The AH-64is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns . It is also equipped to fire missiles.Congress must be notified of major weapons sales. We urge Congress to oppose the sale of these helicopters.Vital Services Not Available to Many Rural Papuans

The daily JUBI reported  on a new book by Cipry Jehan. The Papuan Paradox, describes “systematic discrimination” targeting Papuans in Keerom District. At a seminar convened by the Catholic Church in Keerom Jehan described “structural social injustice.” He said that the Indonesian government has focused development efforts in the area of Arso and Skamto, areas populated largely by non-Papuan immigrants and transmigrants. Papuan majority areas such as Waris and Towe do not receive such development assistance, he explained.

Jehan added that discrimination against Papuans extends to education. As evidence he cited the reality of inequality in educational services provided from nursery school level right up to secondary school level. In Keerom district, he said, nursery schools are spread right across the districts whereas in the Papuan majority districts of Waris and Towe Hitam there are no educational facilities at all. He concluded that “The government is much more consistent about sending troops to this area than sending teachers and doctors.”

On March 26, JUBI, reported that Kenius Kogoya, a member of the Papuan legislative assembly (DPRP), expressed regret that Indonesian state teachers and health personnel seldom venture out to rural Papuan populations.

Despite explicit and implicit obligations undertaken by the Indonesian government, particularly under the rubric of “special autonomy,” Papuans living in rural areas have long suffered from a dearth of public services.

Kenius elaborated that there was widespread neglect by Indonesian officials who are supposed to check on whether government teachers and health workers in the interior turn up for work. The DPRP member stated that this is a problem that exists in almost all the districts of Papua.

WPAT Comment: For West Papuans, especially those living in rural areas, the face of the Indonesian government is not that of a teacher or a nurse or a doctor. It is the face of a soldier, a militarized police officer (Brimob), or an intelligence agent. Vital services provided in relative abundance to non-Papuans are simply not available for Papuans who continue to languish in poverty and to endure health conditions that are among the worst in the Southeast Asian region. It is precisely such disparity that have led many close observers to describe Indonesia’s policy toward Papuans as genocidal.

But it would be wrong to portray Indonesia’s policy as simply one of malign neglect. Indonesian security forces have long played the role of brutal enforcer as Indonesian, U.S. and other international corporations seize Papuan land and resources, aping the vilest practices of colonial powers of the past century. Transmigration policies conceived and employed during the era of the dictator Suharto are again in place, supported by Government “development” policies, as seen above, that greatly advantage the migrant over the deliberately marginalized Papuan.

Back issues of West Papua Report

http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2012/1204wpap.htm

Groups Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia

AH-64 Apache
AH-64 Apache (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Press Release

Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391, john@etan.org
Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078, edmcw@msn.com

March 30, 2012 – Ninety organizations today urged the U.S. government and Congress not to provide deadly attack helicopters to Indonesia. Indonesia has announced that it plans to buy eight AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the United States.

The groups warned that the helicopters will escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West Papua: “Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians.”

The Indonesian military (TNI) regularly conducts “sweep operations,” involving attacks on villages where innocent villagers are forced from their homes. The groups write that “Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.” Sweep operations are now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua.

The letter was organized by the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team and signed by human rights, religious, indigenous rights, disarmament and other organizations based in 14 countries.

Signers include: Faith-based Network on West Papua, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Action, International Lawyers for West Papua, Land Is Life, KontrS (Indonesia), and Pax Christi Australia. A complete list of signers can be found here: http://www.etan.org/news/2012/03helicop.htm

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns and equipped to fire missiles.

ETAN was formed in 1991. It celebrated its 20th anniversary this December 10, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. See ETAN’s web site: http://www.etan.org

Text of Letter

As organizations concerned about human rights in Indonesia and West Papua, we are writing to urge the U.S. government and Congress not to allow the sale of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI). Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians, who have been the target of deadly TNI assaults for many years.

The sale of this weapons system to the TNI — notwithstanding its long record of disregard for civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations and impunity in East Timor, Aceh and elsewhere — would only increase the suffering of the Papuan population.

Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin told the Antara news agency, that  Indonesia intends to buy eight AH-64 Apache helicopter from the United States.

The heavily-armed AH-64 is a highly lethal weapon which can be used to escalate conflict within Indonesia and in West Papua. These aircraft will substantially augment the TNI’s capacity to prosecute its “sweep operations” in West Papua and thereby, almost certainly lead to increased suffering among the  civilian populations long victimized by such operations.

TNI “sweep operations,” including several now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua, involve attacks on villages. Homes are destroyed, along with churches and public buildings. These assaults, purportedly to eliminate the poorly armed Papuan armed resistance, force innocent villagers from their homes. Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns . It is also equipped to fire missiles.

Congress must be notified of major weapons sales. We urge Congress to oppose the sale of these helicopters.


West Papua Report October 2011


This is the 90th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

Summary: Papuans will convene a third “National Congress,” an historic convocation that follows congresses in 1961 and 2000. Military and police forces have attacked civilian homes, purportedly in pursuit of those responsible for an August incident that may have been staged. In the wake of growing violence, leading human rights organizations have called on the Indonesian government to “re-assess” its resort to military measures to address dissent in West Papua. The giant mining firm Freeport McMoran is facing growing pressure from labor and the government. The attention focused on Freeport has once more brought to light the enormous profits and tax revenues flowing from the mining operation. These riches stand in stark contrast to the grinding poverty endured by Papuans whose resources Freeport is exploiting. The UN Secretary General has publicly retreated from comments in which he appeared to recognize the need for the UN Decolonization Committee and the Human Rights Council to take up the denial of Papuan rights to self-determination and other violations of human rights.

Contents:

Papuans To Convene Third National Congress in October

The Papuan National Collective, comprising leaders of the Dewan Adat Papua (the Papuan Customary Council), and leaders of Papuan religious, human rights, women, and youth organizations have announced the convening of the “Third Papuan Congress,” in Jayapura, October 16-19, 2011. Members of the Provincial Papuan Assembly (DPRD) will also participate in the congress.

According to the Collective leaders, the theme of the congress is “Affirming the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people for the present and the future.”

The gathering will address agendas presented by all participating representatives such as the protection of fundamental human rights, including the right to self determination; accountability of security forces for crimes against the civilian population, and protection of the environment. The leaders have noted that they expect congress to reaffirm Papuans’ commitment to pursue respect for their rights through peaceful means.

The First Papuan Congress occurred on October 16-19,1961. At that congress, Papuan leaders declared the desire of the Papuan people to become a free and independent nation. The second congress convened in May 2000 with the support of then Indonesian President Abdul Wahid Rahman. Papuan leaders rejected the 1962 “New York Agreement” which surrendered control of West Papua to Indonesia. The congress also rejected the “Act of Free Choice,” the fraudulent process that in 1969 denied Papuans their right of self-determination. The congress called on the UN to revoke November 19, 1969 UN Resolution 2504 which formally recognized Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua.

Military and Police Attack Civilian Homes

A combined military and police force on August 31 raided civilian homes near Nafri, outside Abepura, where an August 1 assault on a largely civilian convoy killed four and wounded six. The perpetrators of that attack remain unknown though investigations by local NGOs point to a provocation by the Indonesian military‘s notorious special forces (Kopassus).

The Nafri attack may have been part of a strategy by security forces to create instability to undermine large scale Papuan demonstrations set for August 2 (see August West Papua Report). According to the government, the military/police attack on the civilian homes was in pursuit of Papuans responsible for the Nafri attack.

A report translated by TAPOL provides detail on the late August military and police operation. On 31 August , the homes of four Papuans were targeted by the Army (TNI-AD) and Brimob (special unit of the Indonesian police) supplemented by the police force of Papua. Thirteen Papuans were arrested. Local witnesses report that occupants of the four houses were in their homes at the time of the operation and that some of whom were asleep. The security forces entered the area where the homes were located and started firing warning shots which traumatized the local people. Although the thirteen initially evaded the security forces, all of them, including an eight year old girl, were arrested. (See also West Papua Media Alerts’ Special Investigation: State terror campaign around Jayapura.)

Ten, including the eight year old, were subsequently released but two were two detained, Ekimar Kogoya, 22 years, and Panius Kogoya, 20 years old. The security forces that conducted the sweep, which appear to have included elements of the notorious Detachment 88 , are formally charging the two now being held with involvement in the killings in Nafri August 1 and say that they are suspected of being members of the TPN/OPM.

Mathius Murib, deputy chair or the National Human Rights Commission’s (Komnas HAM) Papua branch told media that “proper procedures were not followed and the people who were detained were subjected to mal-treatment, and what is even more disturbing is that a child of 7 or 8 years old was kidnapped at the same time.”

The Nafri incident and subsequent “sweeps” follows the standard modus operandi of Indonesian security forces operating in West Papua: An incident, possibly staged, is used to justify augmenting security forces in an area which then violate local citizens rights with sweeps designed to intimidate the local population. These sweeps usually coincide with periods of growing popular protest over political repression and human rights violations. This modus operandi is part of the Indonesian security force playbook and was regularly witnessed at work in Indonesian-occupied East Timor.

Prominent Human Rights Organizations Call for End to Indonesian Government Resort to Military Measures in West Papua

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) urged the Indonesian government to reassess its reliance on military measures to address growing dissent in West Papua. The organizations noted in a September 21 statement that their call came amidst growing violence in the region.

WPAT notes that security force reliance on extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest, torture of detainees, and repression of peaceful dissent reflect the reality that Suharto-dictatorship rules and procedures still apply in West Papua.

The four organizations decried the continuing buildup of security forces in West Papua, which Imparsial claimed was in the range of 14,000 personnel, and the continuing impunity accorded those forces for their violation of constitutionally protected human rights. They also condemned Government efforts to preclude monitoring of conditions in West Papua by journalists, international human rights monitors and other legitimate observers.

The four organizations called on the Indonesian government to:

  • Instruct its military to immediately cease all unlawful surveillance activities in Papua and revise its current draft intelligence bill by incorporating recommendations by civil society and bringing it into line with the Indonesian Constitution and Criminal Procedure Code, as well as international human rights law;
  • Take steps to reduce the heavy presence of non-organic military personnel and their involvement in civil administration in Papua and seriously implement security sector reform;
  • Fully and credibly investigate all past and new allegations of human rights abuses, especially those perpetrated by state security forces, and promptly bring perpetrators to justice;
  • Strengthen civilian oversight and rigorous parliamentary scrutiny of military policies, operations and budget; and
  • Respect the role of human rights defenders and ensure unfettered access to Papua by civil society groups and actors, including foreign and domestic journalists and independent human rights monitors.


Freeport Under Growing Labor and Government Pressure

Workers at the giant Freeport McMoran gold and copper mine have been on strike since September 15 demanding higher wages and protesting numerous violations of their rights.

The violations they contend the company has committed include Freeport’s hiring of strike breaker workers (scabs). It remains unclear whether courts will sanction the strike action as legal.

In addition to facing pressure from its workers, Freeport is also under government pressure to renegotiate is contract with the Indonesian government. All major foreign mining firms in Indonesia are obliged to renegotiate their contracts to ensure that they are in accordance with the 2009 Mineral and Coal Law which is intended to increase government income from the mining sector. The new law mandates that existing mining contracts be adjusted to the in accordance with the new law. Freeport is one of the few foreign mining firms that has yet to renegotiate its contract.

According to Freeport, under its existing 1991 contract, it has been Indonesia’s largest tax payer: Freeport said in a press statement that in the first half of this year, the company paid US$1.4 billion in financial obligations to the Indonesian government. From 1992 to June 2011, the company contributed a total of $12.8 billion to the country.

The Jakarta Post writes that the firm’s mine covers 213,000 hectares. Royalty payments from the company accounted for 68 percent of Papua’s gross domestic regional product (GDRP) and 96 percent of Timika’s GDRP in 2010. During that year, the company contributed $1.9 billion to the state income from tax and non-tax payments and invested $2.1 billion.

WPAT Comment: While Freeport is a major source of revenue for the Indonesian government, that revenue is only a small portion of the vast profits that Freeport has reaped from its operation which were launched in 1967, even before Indonesia formally annexed West Papua in 1969. The extraordinary wealth accruing to Freeport and the Indonesian government stands in stark contrast to the grinding poverty and lack of development that has been the plight of the Papuan people, particularly those Papuans such as the Kamoro and Amungme people who have seen their lands stolen and polluted by the Freeport operation. The corrupt bargain between Jakarta and Freeport is a legacy of the 1962 “New York Agreement” which the US Government orchestrated in a cold war ploy, absent the consent or even the involvement of the Papuan people.

UN Secretary General’s Candid Comments on West Papua Partially Pulled Back

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, at a press conference in Auckland New Zealand on September 7, spoke directly and candidly in response to two questions about West Papua. His comments appeared to suggest his support for international calls for the West Papua to be listed among those territories considered by the UN General Assembly’s Decolonization Committee. He also appeared to be sympathetic to discussion of West Papua in the Human Rights Council. Implicit in the UNSG’s comments were both a recognition that there was merit in a review of West Papua’s legal status and that there was a basis for concern regarding the human rights situation in West Papua. In particular, the UNSG responded to what was a legal/political question about West Papua by introducing in his response concern over human rights in West Papua.

A portion of the Secretary General’s comments were corrected in New York on September 13 by an unnamed “spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Papua.” The “spokesperson” contended that the Secretary-General had been speaking “off-the-cuff.” The Secretary-General’s original comments in New Zealand are nonetheless significant. The text of the two questions and his responses follows:

Question: [unclear] With regards to human rights – for more than forty two years, there’s a struggle in West Papua as people seeking their government in the province of West Papua. What is the United Nations stand on that?
 
BKM: This issue should also be discussed at the Decolonisation Committee of the United Nations General Assembly And when it comes again, whether you are an independent state or a non-self-governing territory or whatever, the human rights is inalienable and a fundamental principle of the United Nations.
 
We will do all to ensure that people in West Papua, their human rights will be respected.
 
Question: Does a human rights fact-finding mission has be dispatched to West Papua at some time?
 
BKM: That is the same answer [to a previous question on Fiji] that should be discussed at the Human Rights Council amongst the member states.
Normally the Secretary General acts on the basis of a mandate given by inter-governmental bodies.

The spokesperson’s statement was as follows:

His off-the-cuff response may have led to the misunderstanding that he was suggesting the matter of Papua should be placed on the agenda of the Decolonization Committee. The Secretary-General wishes to clarify that this was not his intention.

Interestingly, the spokesman’s correction let stand the UNSG’s apparent endorsement of the need for a discussion of the human rights situation in West Papua in the Human Rights Council.

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West Papua Report September 2011


This is the 89th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan @etan.org.

Summary: Twenty-six members of the U.S. House of Representatives appealed to Indonesian President Yudhoyono to release Papuan prisoner of conscience Filep Karma, noting concern that “your government meet its fundamental obligations to protect the rights of its people, as respect for human rights strengthens democracy.” The bipartisan letter call Karma’s case “an unfortunate echo of Indonesia’s pre-democratic era.” Amnesty International, meanwhile, appealed for the release of another Papuan, Melkianus Bleskadit, imprisoned for peaceful dissent. The Indonesian government granted a three month remission to the sentence of Papuan political prisoner Buchtar Tabuni on the occasion of Indonesian independence day, who was then released. The leak of secret Special Forces (Kopassus) documents reveal systematic Kopassus surveillance and intimidation targeting Papuans and even international personnel seeking to document human rights concerns in West Papua. The documents label prominent international leaders including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu and dozens of members of the U.S. Congress as supporters of “separatism” in West Papua. Human Rights Watch urged that in the wake of the documents revelations that the U.S. military cease all activities in cooperation with Indonesian military units in West Papua. Papuans leaders to convene a broad congress in October. Papuan leaders write U.S. Congress to call for peacekeepers. Church leaders and ordinary civilians have called for an end to Indonesian military intimidation in the Paniai District. The Indonesian military commander has ruled out negotiations with armed separatists in West Papua, indicating the extent to which the TNI calls the shots in West Papua. In an organizational statement WPAT has called for Papuans to be afforded the internationally recognized right to self-determination.

Contents:

U.S. Congressional Representatives Renew Call for Release of Filep Karma

On August 22, a bipartisan group of 26 members of the U.S. House of Representatives called on the Government of Indonesia to free Papuan activist Filep Karma, saying that his detention raised questions about the Indonesia’s commitment to democracy. The House members expressed concern that Karma has suffered “degrading and inhumane treatment” in prison arguing that “(a)s a strategic partner, we remain concerned that your government meet its fundamental obligations to protect the rights of its people, as respect for human rights strengthens democracy.”

In letter, addressed to Indonesia’s President Yudhoyono, the congressmembers wrote that “Mr. Karma’s case represents an unfortunate echo of Indonesia’s pre-democratic era.” The letter was organized by Republican Representative Joe Pitts and Democratic Representative Jim Moran.

U.S. lawmakers in 2008 wrote on behalf of Karma and Yusak Pakage, another Papuan activist who was also sentenced for raising the separatist flag. Indonesia pardoned Pakage last year

see also Freedom Now Welcomes Call of 26 Members of U.S. House for Release of Renowned Human Rights Advocate Filep Karma (PDF).

Amnesty International Calls for Release of Papuan Imprisoned for Peaceful Dissent

Amnesty International (AI), on August 25, issued an appeal on behalf of Papuan activist Melkianus Bleskadit, imprisoned in West Papua for his involvement in what AI noted was “a peaceful protest and for raising an independence flag.” AI called for his immediate and unconditional release, noting his sentence “highlights the continuing use of repressive legislation to criminalize peaceful political activities in the province.”

On December 14, 2010, Papuans took part in a peaceful march in Manokwari to protest against injustice and human rights violations by the Indonesian security forces. During the demonstration the “14 Star Flag”, a symbol of West Melanesian independence, was raised. The Manokwari Sub-district Public Order Police (Polres) arrested seven political activists: Melkianus Bleskadit; Daniel Yenu, a priest (see below); and five students – Jhon Wilson Wader, Penehas Serongon, Yance Sekenyap, Alex Duwiri and Jhon Raweyai. All seven men were charged with “rebellion” under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and with “incitement” under Article 160.

On 18 August the Manokwari District Court sentenced Melkianus Bleskadit to two years’ imprisonment. Yenu was sentenced to seven months and 16 days on 23 August 2011. Yenu was then released because he had spent more than eight months in detention. The five students trials are ongoing.

Yenu’s lawyer has raised concerns about his trial, saying that evidence not obtained from the location of the incident was impermissibly introduced and that Yenu was forced by the judges to defend against the charges on 16 August without his lawyer.

AI noted that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party, and the Indonesian Constitution guarantee the rights to freedom of expression, opinion, association and peaceful assembly.

Amnesty International, in its published appeal, called on the Indonesia to “withdraw government regulation No. 77/2007 that bans the display of regional logos or flags, which are used by separatist organizations.” The regulation is “contrary to the spirit of the 2001 Special Autonomy Law that granted Papuans the right to express their cultural identity,” AI said, adding “the ban on waving these flags cannot be considered legitimate grounds for restricting freedoms of expression and association as set out in the ICCPR.”

According to Amnesty International “at least 90 political activists in the provinces of Maluku and Papua have been imprisoned solely for their peaceful political activities. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.”

Buchtar Tabuni is Finally Freed

Indonesian authorities released from prison, Buchtar Tabuni, chairman of KNPB, the West Papua National Committee. Tabuni was one of 656 prisoners in Papua to receive remission of his sentence on the anniversary of Indonesia’s independence on 17 August 1945. Tabuni was one of scores of Papuans recognized by international human rights organizations as a prisoner of conscience.

Buchtar said he regarded his remission, which shortened his sentence by a mere three months, as an ‘insult’ for the people of West Papua. Speaking to supporters at the prison gate, he said that he did not recognize the Indonesian independence day because “our ancestors never fought for an Indonesian government but (rather) fought for the Melanesian people.” Remission was merely an attempt by the Indonesian government to improve its reputation on the international stage.

“They think that with my release I will show my love and affection for Indonesia, but that is not so. I will continue my struggle for this nation even more radically than before,” he said. He congratulated the Indonesian government on the anniversary, but went on to ask the government to give its support to the Papuan people who are yearning for their independence.

Indonesian Special Forces Spying and Intimidation Targeting Civilians Revealed

Australia’s The Age reported on 19 classified documents, including over 500 pages and dating from 2006 to 2009, belonging to the Indonesian military “special forces” (Kopassus). The documents reveal a vast Kopassus network of spies and informants throughout West Papua that targets Papuans civil society leaders as well as foreigners visiting or working in West Papua. Well over 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, including the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, are branded separatist supporters in a document called “ Anatomy of Papuan Separatists.” South African anti-apartheid hero and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu and Papua New Guinea’s former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare are also so-labeled, along with journalists, academics and others within and outside West Papua.

The lists of House members appear to be taken from public letters from July 29, 2008 urging release of Papuan political prisoners and a March 17, 2005 letters from the Congressional Black Caucus to the UN Secretary General and U.S. Secretary of State asking for a review of the United Nation’s conduct in West Papua at the time of the “Act of Free Choice,” opposing U.S. military assistance to Indonesia and urging support for self-determination. Twenty Senators who signed a June 28, 2004 letter calling for United Nations Special Representative to Indonesia to monitor and report on the situations in Aceh and Papua are also listed as “in support of Free Papua Separatists.”

The Age reports that the documents reveal the “deep paranoia of Kopassus and its interference in the daily lives of Papuans, the documents are also remarkable for the false assertions they contain.” The documents also show the Indonesian government’s efforts to restrict the capacity of UN personnel, foreign parliamentarians, journalists, researchers and human rights advocates to monitor human rights violations in West Papua.

In a particularly powerful reaction to the disclosure of the Kopassus documents Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch urged the U.S. government to “call on the Indonesian government to fully disclose all military tribunal cases involving alleged abuses against civilians, including prosecutions for ‘disobeying orders,’ and provide transcripts to the public.” She added, “(u)ntil the Indonesian government re-examines these cases, in line with the U.S. Leahy law, which prevents the US from cooperating with abusive military units, the U.S. government should not participate in joint endeavors with military personnel or units working in Papua. The US should also call on Indonesia’s military to stop viewing peaceful political activists as threats to national security and stop spying on them.”

The West Papua Project at the University of Sydney, who received the documents earlier this year, published its own extensive analysis, “ Anatomy of an Occupation: The Indonesian Military in West Papua.”

Papuans to Convene To Address West Papua’s Future

Papuan leaders have announced plans for a Papuan Congress to convene in Jayapura, October 16-19. Selpius Bobii, chair of the organizing team for the congress, accompanied by Forkorus Yaboisembut , chair of Dewan Adat Papua (the Papuan Customary Council), told the media August 22 that the congress will include “All organizations of whatever kind, customary councils, ethnic groups as well as other organizations [who] will be able to present their own agendas.” Attendees at this “Third Papuan People’s Congress” will also include representatives of the DPRP, the Provincial Papuan Assembly.

The theme of the Congress is to be: “Affirming the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people for the present and the future.” The Papuan leaders speaking to the media noted that they planned to inform President Yudhoyono of the plans for the Congress though, they stressed, they would not be seeking his permission to proceed with it.

Bobii also urged the Indonesian government to implement the decisions of the grand meeting of the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua) together with the indigenous Papuan people held on 9-10 June 2010.

Papuan Leaders Appeal To U.S. Congressional Leaders

In an August 10 letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate the “collective leadership of the Papuan people” (including principally the leaders of the Dewan Adat Papua) appealed to the legislators and to the U.S. Government to continue to support efforts to defend the fundamental human rights of the Papuan people. The leaders also proposed the creation of an “International Peace Keeping Force,” pointing to the continuing abuse suffered by Papuans at the hands of the Indonesian security forces and the failure of the Indonesian government to halt these abuses or hold those committing those abuse accountable before the law.

The letter also informed the U.S. officials of plans for an extraordinary meeting of Papuans which will convene in Jayapura in October. (see above)

Church Leaders in Paniai Call for An End to Security Force “Repressive Military Measures”

Churches in Paniai District in the Central Highlands are very concerned about the situation following an armed skirmish that took place on 17 August and about reports that additional troops have been sent to Paniai to search for two firearms that were reportedly seized from police headquarters in Komopa on 15 August.

An August 28 press release issued by the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Paniai Diocese and the Commission for Justice and Peace of the KINGMI Church called on security officials to freeze the deployment of security forces in Paniai District. According to the August 29 JUBI the representative of the Diocese of Paniai, Fr. Marko Okto Pekei, and Yafet Tetobi of the KINGMI Church also called on military leaders to ensure that the forces already deployed in the district do “not roam round freely in the area with all their military equipment because doing so would only worsen the situation.” Villagers now thinking about returning home are afraid to do so because of continued military activity.

The church representatives urged all sides to realize that the preservation of security and an atmosphere of peace is the duty of all: community leaders, leaders of customary groups, leaders of women and youth, as well as the security forces and the TPN/OPM.

The two church commissions also expressed regret over the wounding of two people during an armed conflict that occurred on August 17 in Uwibutu, Madi. “We also deeply regret the actions of certain elements who have destroyed the economies of families living in the area.” Troops have also been conducting operations in search of two firearms reportedly seized from police headquarters in Komopa on August 15.

The church representatives said that problems between the security forces and the TPN/OPM should be handled by means of persuasion and urged that the security forces forego “repressive military measures” because they would only result in civilian casualties.

An August 25 report in JUBI, translated by TAPOL, notes that local people in Paniai called on the local military chief, the military commander command and President Yudhoyono to pull back these troops from the area.

Yafeth Y Kayame, head of the Suku Mee people, said the additional deployment of troops to Paniai has undermined calls for peace. “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. 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.”

According to some sources, in addition to infantry brigade 753/Arga Vira Tama Nabire, a company of Brimob (the militarized police) was also reportedly being deployed to Paniai. Although this has been denied by Major-General Erfi Triassunu, 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, according to the JUBI report, anxiety has continued to spread among the local people and many have left their homes with a new exodus starting on Tuesday (August 23).

Indonesian Military Continues to Call the Shots in West Papua

An August 26 Antara report contains comments by Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Commander Admiral Agus Suhartono that reveal that the TNI continues to control policy in West Papua, independent of civilian oversight. Suhartono said that the military will not negotiate with separatist movements, especially the Free Papua Movement (OPM). “There are no [negotiations], none, in any shape or form,” Admiral Suhartono told members of the People’s Representative Council (DPR) at TNI Headquarters in Jakarta. In his 2005 Indonesian Independence Day remarks, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that his then new administration wished to resolve the Papua question in a just, peaceful and dignified manner. That policy, which would mean an end to the use of repressive measures embodied by the military’s infamous “security approach,” has been supported by Papuan leaders, Indonesian experts and international organizations.

The refusal of the TNI to relent in its employment of “sweep operations” in response to the so-called “separatist threat” in West Papua, notwithstanding the human cost of these operations to Papuan civilians, runs counter to the professed intent of the civilian government’s to address decades of abuse and malfeasance in West Papua through nonviolent means.

The TNI refusal to accept civil control of the military in West Papua is also manifest in its refusal to be held accountable before the law. President Yudhoyono has repeatedly spoken of the need to ensure justice there. During a November 2010 visit by U.S. President Obama, President Yudhoyono assured the U.S. that the video-taped beating and torture of Papuan civilians by the military was being dealt with appropriately. This was untrue: what was being dealt with was an earlier case of military abuse of West Papuan citizens. Ultimately, as is typical, military courts convicted the perpetrators of the torture only of “disobeying orders” and sentenced them to minimum prison sentences.

WPAT COMMENT: The TNI’s continued resort to the “security approach” in West Papua, manifest most clearly in continued “sweep operations” that displace Papuan civilians and cost civilian lives, is an ongoing tragedy for Papuans. TNI unaccountability for its criminal activity, including systematic abuse of Papuan civilians and continuance of illegal “business operations” there, is a part of this continuing tragedy. But the TNI’s behavior in West Papua also has implications for Indonesian democracy more broadly. The TNI’s role in West Papua underscores that this institution remains above the law and insubordinate to the policy and direction of the civilian government. It constitutes a severe threat to the growth of Indonesian democracy.

WPAT STATEMENT: Papuans Must Be Afforded the Right to Self-determination

The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) has for many years sought to advance respect for the human rights of the Papuan people. To that end WPAT has advocated for an end to human rights violations by members of the Indonesian military, police, intelligence agencies, and others which are in blatant violation of Indonesian law and Indonesia’s obligations under international law and covenants. WPAT has also long advocated that the U.S. government condition its assistance to the Indonesian military and police on their cessation of human rights violations, submission to legal accountability for their past and ongoing actions and unconditional acceptance of civilian control.

This advocacy has also entailed concerted efforts to ensure that Papuans’ voices are heard, notwithstanding Indonesian government efforts to repress Papuans who seek to assert their right to peaceful dissent. In this regard, WPAT continues to support Papuan calls for an end to the persecution of political prisoners and an end to government restrictions on access to West Papua by international media, UN personnel, human rights monitors and researchers, and providers of humanitarian assistance. WPAT strongly supports Papuan calls for the demilitarization of West Papua and an end to Indonesian government reliance on a “security approach” to peaceful protest. WPAT has joined international calls for reform of the Indonesian criminal code which penalizes dissent notwithstanding Indonesian obligations under international law to protect the right of free speech and peaceful assembly.

It has long been WPAT’s conviction that human rights and personal freedoms are best secured in a legal environment shaped by democratic values and in a political framework based on genuine self-determination. This conviction grows out of the assertion of WPAT founder John Rumbiak who maintained that the root of the problems afflicting Papuans lay in the reality that they have never been afforded their right to self determination. That right is clearly articulated in international law including in Article 1 of the UN Charter, as well as in Article 1 of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and theInternational Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Indonesia is a party to both covenants.

WPAT considers that the people of West Papua have never been permitted genuine self-determination. That fundamental right was subverted by the Government of Indonesia, acting in complicity with much of the international community in 1969, when it coercively annexed West Papua through the fraudulent process known as the “Act of Free Choice.”

WPAT, for several years, has supported Papuan calls for an internationally mediated, senior-level dialogue between the Government of Indonesia and Papuans, represented by both Papuan officials and senior members of Papuan civil society. Papuans have supported such a dialogue as a means of addressing myriad outstanding problems confronting them, including:

  • human rights abuse at the hands of unaccountable security forces operating outside civilian control;
  • economic, political and economic marginalization of Papuans through deliberate Indonesian government policies such as transmigration;
  • Indonesian government failure to provide essential health, education and other services to Papuans;
  • and the destructive exploitation of West Papua’s natural resources in a manner that fails to benefit Papuans.


WPAT notes that in addition to Papuan calls for dialogue, there is also growing Papuan support for a referendum that would at long last allow Papuans a voice in their own political future. WPAT strongly supports the Papuan peoples right to self-determination and recognizes that a referendum conducted under conditions that allow for monitoring by international media and human rights organizations, among others would, at last, afford Papuans their long-denied right.

WPAT does not support independence for West Papua or any other specific outcome of a referendum or dialogue process. Such outcomes depend on the free choice of the Papuan people made peacefully, without coercion, subterfuge or pressure of any kind.

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