Tag Archives: Edmund McWilliams

West Papua Report November 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: Indonesian security forces attacked a mass gathering in the Papua capital, Jayapura, and striking workers at the Freeport mine in the southern highlands. At least five people were killed and many more injured in the assaults, which show a renewed pattern of overt violence against peaceful dissent. A brutal and unjustified October 19 attack on thousands of Papuans exercising their rights to assembly and freedom of speech resulted in the death of at least three Papuan civilians, the beating of many, detention of hundreds and arrest of six, reportedly on treason charges. The Obama administration has largely ignored the egregious violation of human rights, instead advancing U.S.-Indonesian military ties. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who arrived in Indonesia in the immediate wake of the Jayapura attack, avoided criticism of the assault and reaffirmed U.S. support for Indonesia’s territorial integrity, a snub to Papuans quest for self-determination. Panetta also reportedly commended Indonesia’s handling of a weeks-long strike at the U.S.-based Freeport McMoRan mine which has seen eight killings and revealed cash payments by Freeport to the police. Indonesia’s response to the growing crisis in West Papua is to increase the militarization of the territory and to dispatch a special unit that is headed by a notorious former military officer whose record in dealing with Aceh bears ominous implications for the Papuans.


Obama Administration Abandons Human Rights Agenda to Advance Military Ties

On October 19, hundreds of Indonesian military and police personnel attacked a peaceful gathering of several thousand Papuans engaged at a congress which had convened to assert Papuans long-denied right to self-determination. The Congress, only the third such event in the last 50 years, sought to exercise rights of free speech and assembly guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution and international accords, including the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic and Cultural rights and Social rights, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
The brutal assault by Indonesian security forces killed at least three Papuans and resulted in the disappearance of others and the detention of approximately 300. At least six leaders were arrested and are expected to be charged with treason. Separate accounts suggest that the number of Papuans killed could be as high as 17 and the number of those detained and beaten while in custody could be as high as 800. Among those arrested were Forkorus Yasboisembut, President of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP). The security force violence and arrests followed the Congress’s declaration of independence for West Papua.

Security forces pursued the peaceful demonstrators, beating participants. One of those killed was reportedly shot in the back. Two other victims were found beaten to death, their bodies dumped behind a police station. An Australian eye witness to the assault, interviewed on Australian television’s ABC on October 28, identified the attacking security forces as including the Indonesian military (TNI), the Indonesian specialized police (BRIMOB), regular police units and the Indonesian “anti-terror” force, Detachment 88. The Detachment 88 team is funded and trained by the U.S. and Australian governments. It has repeatedly been charged with extrajudicial killings and torture.

The Police Commander for Papua publicly defended the assault, as have senior officials in Jakarta who contended that the military operation against civilians was provoked by Congress leaders who sought to declare West Papua’s independence. “The government did not find any abuse of power nor mismanaged approaches by the security officers,” said presidential spokesman, Julian Aldrin Pasha. “Police officers and security forces just accomplished their (as) duties mandated by the state.” Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for Political Legal and Security Affairs also defended the assault. (See also statements made by the Defense Minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro: for example, see Made Arya Kencana, Banjir Ambarita and Ulma Haryanto, “ Jakarta Gives US Its Side of Story in Papua Deaths,” The Jakarta Globe, 23 October 2011.

International human rights organizations and some elected officials such as U.S. Congressmember Eni Faleomavaega and Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale  immediately and strongly condemned the violence. Faleomavaega urged the release of those detained and specifically raised the assault with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Senator Di Natale urged dispatch of an investigatory mission to West Papua and that Australia immediately suspend all support for the Indonesian military.

While comments by Faleomavaega and Di Natale echoed the calls of the many international nongovernmental organizations, there was scant word of condemnation from other governments. The silence rendered the international community complicit in the attack.

Particularly egregious, in this regard, was the reaction of the U.S. government. U.S. Ambassador Marciel in Jakarta called for an investigation of the incident. While appropriate, that response was manifestly inadequate. His failure to condemn the assault, conveys to the Indonesian government that use of lethal and military force against peaceful civilians is acceptable.

WPAT Comment: In attempting to understand the rationale for the Obama administration’s abandonment of human rights concerns it is essential to note the presence of U.S. Secretary of Defense Panetta in Jakarta at the time of the assault. Panetta’s visit inaugurated the resumption of full U.S.-Indonesia military to military cooperation. It appears that the Obama administration was not prepared to criticize Indonesian security forces with whom it was announcing a strengthened partnership. This abandonment of principle by the Obama administration is reminiscent of the collusion of previous U.S. administrations in the invasion and occupation of East Timor by the Suharto dictatorship.
see also Tapol, WPAT, ETAN: Indonesian crackdown on Papuan Congress sparks outrage

Indonesia Beefs Up Occupation Forces in West Papua

In the wake of the assault on the Third Papuan Congress (see above), continuing violence associated with police efforts to quell an ongoing strike at Freeport (see below), and the killing of a local police chief in remote Mulia district in the central highlands, the Indonesian government announced the dispatch of hundreds of additional security personnel to augment the existing Indonesian occupation force in West Papua.

The Jakarta Post reported
that provincial police spokesman Wachyono saying that “So far 260 [extra] personnel from the police mobile brigade (Brimob) have landed in Papua province to help maintain security in two districts.” Troops were sent to the Puncak Jaya and Paniai highlands in central Papua, he said, adding that they will join an existing force of 14,000 police and paramilitary troops in Papua.

Wachyono said they were still “hunting” the police chief’s killers. Authorities have said that based on preliminary investigations they are believed to be separatists. (WPAT Comment: the launch of “hunting” indicates that security force sweep operations may be underway. These operations routinely displace large numbers of civilians as their villages and gardens are destroyed.)

Numerous Indonesian non-governmental organizations criticized the dispatch of ever greater numbers of military and police elements to West Papua. “The militarization of West Papua has the clear intent of intimidating Papuan civilians who are courageously pursuing a course of peaceful dissent in defense of their rights, including worker rights and the right to self determination” said Edmund McWilliams, a former senior U.S. diplomat who served in Indonesia. “Jakarta authorities,” he added, continue to employ security forces and thug militias to suppress Papuans’ peaceful resistance to ethnic genocide implicit in Jakarta’s support for transmigration-colonization and its denial of vital services to Papuans.”

Notorious Military General to Head Jakarta’s Conflict Resolution Unit in West Papua

On October 29, the Yudhoyono administration announced formation of a special unit tasked with settling the conflict in West Papua. The “Unit to Accelerate the Development in West Papua and Papua”  (UP4B) was actually formed in September.  In mid-October, Yudhoyono signed a decree, appointing Lt. Gen. (ret) Bambang Darmono to the chairman of UP4B. It will report to a board headed by Vice President Boediono. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/30/sby-s-papua-team-ready-roll.html

The announcement aid that the team will be led by Bambang Darmono, the former commander of military operations in Aceh (2002-2005) and a key Indonesian figure in negotiations that produced the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which ended formal conflict between the Acehnese Freedom Movement (GAM) and Indonesia security forces. Darmono is the former Secretary General of the National Defense Council.

Darmono’s record as commander of Indonesian security forces is replete with credible charges of human rights violations including the execution of seven teenage Acehnese on May 21, 2003, thoroughly reported by Tempo magazine. His troops allegedly also executed Muzakkir Abdullah, an Acehnese peasant in the hamlet of Seumirah, Nisam district, in June 2003. Several Indonesian soldiers abducted him earlier that day. Abdullah’s sister was photographed screaming when she saw his body. The photo by a Reuters photographer won a World Press Photo award. Darmono appeared prominently in a documentary, “The Black Road” by William Nessen, in  which Darmono denied the involvement of his troops in the arrest and torture of a human rights defender. He had admitted that his troops had sometimes became abusive and he arrested some of them for shooting chicken.

In a June 26, 2007 interview with the U.S. Public Broadcasting System, Darmono strongly sided with Javanese transmigrants whose government-sponsored resettlement in Aceh mirrored government-sponsored transmigrant settlement of West Papua.  To many Papuans, like many Acehnese, such government-sponsored transmigrant schemes amount to colonization.  Darmono’s past championing of such policies in Aceh raise concerns for Papuans.  Such concerns are particularly strong given predictions by the “ Papua Road Map Project,” a plan by academics to promote peace in West Papua, that the percentage of non-Papuans living in West Papua will rise from 41 percent in 2005 to 53.5 percent by the end of 2011, rendering Papuans a minority in their own homeland.

The Indonesian government’s failure to carry out key elements of the 2005 MOU, including the failure to establish a promised Human Rights Court for Aceh and a “Commission for Justice and Reconciliation,” according to many as a consequence of military opposition to such steps, led in large measure by Darmono.

The appointment of Darmono to the special unit for West Papua is indicative of the manner in which the Yudhoyono administration intends to “settle” the conflict in West Papua.

Indonesian Security Forces Still on The Take from Freeport
Indonesian security forces in West Papua, notably the police, continue to receive extensive direct payments of cash from Freeport McMoRan. National Police chief Timur Pradopo admitted on October 28  that officers had received close to $10 million annually from Freeport. Prominent Indonesian NGO Imparsial puts the annual figure at $14 million. Pradopa described the payments as “lunch money.”  The payments recall even larger payments made by Freeport to Indonesian military forces over the years which, once revealed, prompted a U.S. Security and Exchange Commission investigation of Freeport and questions as to Freeport’s liability under the U.S. law (the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).

The revelation of payments to the police has prompted widespread criticism in Indonesia. The respected Indonesian NGO KontraS (Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence) accused the police of a conflict of interest in West Papua. KontraS said that based on its investigations, the police had become involved in ongoing labor disputes that have led to violence and interruptions in Freeport operations (see following item). KontraS cited specific examples of police intimidation, including death threats targeting union organizers. It said Sudiro, SPSI’s chief workplace organizer for Freeport’s Grasberg mine, had reported that Timika Police Chief Denny Siregar called him and made a death threat. KontraS also pointed to instances of police verbal harassment of other union leaders. “From the testimonies collected by KontraS [in Timika] on the sidelines of negotiations between workers and Freeport, the police chief pressured the SPSI leader to comply with the company’s wishes” Kontras investigator Haris Azhar told media on October 28.

Police, according to Haris, also accused the striking workers of treason. “All they did was make demands for their improved welfare. How can the police accuse them of being separatists? It makes no sense,” he said.

KontraS said the presumed reason for the police taking the gold and copper mining company’s side was Freeport’s documented direct payments to police officers based in the area. Haris added that the flood of money to police had created a conflict of interest when its people, nominally public servants, handled cases related to the company. “When there’s a problem between Freeport and their workers, of course they choose to support Freeport,” he said. Haris said Kontras would report its findings to the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

U.S. Secretary of Defense Praise for Indonesian Handling of Freeport Strike

The Jakarta Post reported on October 25 that U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, visiting Indonesia, had “praised Indonesia’s handling of the strike at Freeport.” The strike has seen at least 8 killings in October and a partial shutdown of mining operations. The protracted struggle for worker rights has also involved police assaults on demonstrators and, according to the respected Indonesian NGO Kontras, police death threats to a union leader and harassment and intimidation targeting other union officials.

The violence has accompanied renewed reports of police receipt of Freeport cash, according to the national police commander as “lunch money.” The lunch money amounted to at least $10 million (see above report). Freeport’s labor difficulties are compounded by growing calls for a renegotiation of Freeport’s contract and by demonstrations targeting its office in Jakarta and its headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona.

Panetta’s exact comments regarding Indonesian “handling” of the strike were not reported and the U.S. Embassy has not provided text for Panetta’s remarks to his Indonesian hosts. Meanwhile the strike, which began in September largely over wage issues, continues.

see also WPAT/ETAN: Statement on Strike at Freeport McMoran’s Mining Operation in West Papua

Back issues of West Papua Report

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.


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.

Back issues of West Papua Report

West Papua Report August 2011

This is the 88th 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: Thousands of Papuans peacefully took to the streets August 2 to support calls for a referendum on West Papua’s political future. The demonstrations proceeded despite the presence of armed security forces intended to block the demonstrations and the presence of Jakarta-backed militia provocateurs. Violence erupted near Jayapura and in Puncak District on the eve of the demonstrations. Over 50 international organizations publicly called for the Indonesian government to respond positively to appeals by Papuan NGOs and churches for justice, an end to human rights violations in West Papua, and protection of human rights advocates and journalists. WPAT called on Secretary Clinton to raise with Indonesian officials the ongoing military sweep operations in Puncak Jaya, West Papua. These operations have had devastating affects on innocent Papuan civilians. Secretary Clinton called for dialogue to settle disputes over West Papua. Her repetition of US Government support for “special autonomy” made clear that the Obama administration is deaf to the voice of Papuans who have rejected “special autonomy” repeatedly. Efforts by Indonesian security forces to cover-up the human cost of their military sweep operations in Puncak Jaya have failed. Komnas Ham has proposed a dialogue about violence in Puncak Jaya. A peace conference which convened in West Papua has explored the possibility of advancing dialogue with the Indonesian government. Renowned international academics, lawyers and Papuan activists will convene in Oxford to discuss the continuing denial of the right of self-determination to Papuans. The military commander in West Papua has apologized to the Papuan Kingmi church over intimidating language he employed against the church.


Thousands of Demonstrators in West Papua Demand Referendum

August 2 demonstration in Wamena. (KNPB)

Thousands of Papuans took to the streets in West Papua centers including the capital, Jayapura, to demand a referendum on West Papua’s political future. The August 2 demonstrations were planned to coincide with a conference in Oxford, England, which addressed the fraudulent 1969 “Act of Free Choice” which facilitated Jakarta’s annexation of West Papua. (see below)

The demonstrations in Jayapura have taken place despite the heavy presence of armed security forces deployed to deter demonstrators. Similar efforts by armed security forces to block demonstrations have been reported in Manokwari and other major towns such as Wamena, Biak, Nabire, Paniai, and Timika. The protests were organized by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB).

WestPapuaMedia, which has a network of reporters inside West Papua, reported that members of two pro-Indonesian militias — Besar Merah Putih and Aswain (Eurico Guterres) — have been deployed widely across the Jayapura area in conjunction with security forces. Guterres is the notorious leader of pro-Indonesia militias which worked in conjunction with Indonesian security forces to commit atrocities in East Timor in the run-up to that nation’s pro-independence referendum in 1999.

WestPapuaMedia sources also report that members of Kopassus special forces in plain clothes may also be on the streets. There are suspicions among observers inside West Papua that these forces, including both Kopassus and the militias, may be behind a spate of violent incidents that have transpired in recent days. (See following article on this violence.) This violence may have been organized as an attempt to spread fear, panic and division in order to prevent the protests going ahead.

WestPapuaMedia notes that with tensions extremely high after the violence, the organizers of the August 2 rallies across Papua have banned even symbolic traditional weapons from the gatherings. They also have worked with the Dewan Adat Papua (Papuan Customary Council) to deploy hundreds of peacekeepers from the uniformed Community Security Force of Petapa, or “The Guardians of the Land of Papua.”

Jayapura Sorong Timika (photos via KNPB)

Deadly New Violence in West Papua

As this edition of the West Papua Report was being finalized, there were reports of significant violence in two locations. The seemingly unrelated incidents transpired in Abepura District near the capital Jayapura and in the more remote Puncak District.

In Abepura, unidentified personnel armed with firearms, machetes and axes attacked a transport vehicle on August 1 killing four and wounding 15. All the victims in the pre-dawn attack were migrants and one was a low ranking soldier. Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Imam Setiawan accused the Free Papua Movement (TPN-OPM) for the attack in which unidentified assailants sprayed a small bus with bullets as it passed through Nafri village. However, a New York Times report quoted Colonel Wachyono, a spokesperson for the Provincial police, as stating “We can’t yet conclude that it was the TPN-OPM or not.”

Fokorous Yoboisembut chairperson of the Dewan Adat Papua (Papuan Customary Council), told media that in the past such violence has been orchestrated on the eve of popular demonstrations such as those held August 2.

In the Puncak District initial reports indicated Papuans backing rival local political leaders came to blows in July 30. A total of 19 were killed according to police.  Markus Haluk, the secretary general of the Central Highlands Papuan Student Association, told media that according to witnesses, police fired into the crowd killing three. The rioting rival groups reportedly accounted for additional deaths.

International Community Support for Papuan NGOs’ Appeals for Justice

Organizations based in more than a dozen countries issued a statement of support for West Papuan NGO’s and churches calling for justice and human rights. The Papuan organizations have “decried the failure of the Indonesian government to ensure justice for or protect Papuans who have been the victims of security force brutality, including extra-judicial killing, torture, abduction and imprisonment,” the statement said. The statement noted in particular that human rights advocates and journalists attempting to cover abuses have been targeted.

The international organizations expressed their “support for these courageous appeals” by the Papuan organizations and pledged “to pressure our individual governments and international organizations to press the Indonesian government to act positively and immediately on these demands for justice and the protection of human rights defenders.”

The international statement added that the “continuing violation of human rights starkly demonstrates the limits of ‘democratization’ in Indonesia.”

The statement was endorsed by 54 international, regional, national and local organizations. It was initiated by Tapol , West Papua Advocacy Team and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)

Letter Urges Secretary Clinton to Raise with Indonesia Brutal Military Sweep Operation in Puncak Jaya

We urge you to use the opportunity of your visit to Indonesia to call on the Indonesian President to halt all military operations in West Papua and return all military personal to their barracks as a way of easing tension and saving lives. We also urge you to raise with senior Indonesians, the plight of dozens of Papuan prisoners of conscience who were jailed as result of peaceful dissent.

On July 20, the U.S.-based West Papua Advocacy Team wrote to Secretary Clinton on the eve of her visit to Indonesia to urge her to raise with senior Indonesians the Indonesian military’s ongoing military operation in Puncak Jaya, West Papua. The letter noted the history of such operations which have repeatedly entailed grave harm to Papuans who have been driven from their villages. Many Papuans have died due to these operations.

The letter to Secretary Clinton noted that Papuan civil society leaders, non-governmental organizations, churches as well as ordinary civilians have long called for transformation of Papua into a “Land of Peace,” a concept that would demilitarize West Papua and end the Indonesian government’s reliance on a “security approach” to address peaceful, political dissent. The letter also reminded the Secretary that many Papuans are incarcerated in prisons due to their peaceful exercise of freedoms of speech and assembly which are denied them by the Indonesian government.

The letter concluded:

We urge you to use the opportunity of your visit to Indonesia to call on the Indonesian President to halt all military operations in West Papua and return all military personal to their barracks as a way of easing tension and saving lives. We also urge you to raise with senior Indonesians, the plight of dozens of Papuan prisoners of conscience who were jailed as result of peaceful dissent and who now face health and even life-threatening conditions in Indonesian notorious prisons.

As is unfortunately common practice, the U.S. State Department failed to acknowledge the letter in any way. Secretary Clinton however, was pressed on human rights abuse by security forces in West Papua during a press conference with the Indonesian Foreign Minister in Bali (see following item).

see also ETAN Urges Secretary Clinton to Condition Security Assistance to Indonesia on Rights

Secretary Clinton Supports Dialogue To Resolve Papuan Issues, but Persists in Support of “Special Autonomy”

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, right, and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at joint press conference , Bali, Indonesia. AP/Saul Loeb, Pool)

During her late July visit to Indonesia to attend a regional foreign ministers’ summit in Bali, Secretary of State Clinton was questioned about repression of Papuans in West Papua. The questioning followed calls by U.S. NGO’s for her to raise Indonesian security force actions against civilians in West Papua.

Responding to a question regarding this repression Secretary Clinton stated that the United States supports “open dialogue” between the Indonesian government and Papuan representatives to address regional grievances. Secretary Clinton added: “This is a matter for the Indonesian government and they are addressing it and we hope to see full implementation of the special autonomy law for Papua, which is a commitment on the part of the Indonesian government to address many of the concerns that have been expressed.” Clinton also reiterated United States support for the territorial integrity of Indonesia.

Like previous U.S. administrations, President Obama and his foreign policy team are neglecting burgeoning problems of human rights abuse and unaccountable security/intelligence forces in Indonesia.

For his part, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa claimed that the Indonesian government was addressing human rights concerns and that “doesn’t take an external party” to point out the country’s problems.

WPAT Comment: Secretary Clinton’s support for “open dialogue” between Jakarta and Papuans to address “regional grievances” was positive but her contention that “repression,” which was the question posed to her, was a “matter for the Indonesian government” was jarring. Was the Secretary unaware of or simply not briefed about ongoing military operations in West Papua that are harming civilians and driving many from their homes? Was she unaware of or not briefed regarding growing demands for justice and accountability in the face of decades of abuse of Papuans by military, police and intelligence forces? And was she unaware or not briefed that the “special autonomy” she touted has been broadly and publicly rejected by Papuan people, NGOs and religious leaders? Like previous U.S. administrations, President Obama and his foreign policy team are neglecting burgeoning problems of human rights abuse and unaccountable security/intelligence forces in Indonesia.

Security Forces Try Unsuccessfully to Block Coverage of Continuing Military Sweep Operation in Puncak Jaya

Police and military intimidation of journalists and organizers of a press conference forced cancellation of the event. The conference was to have provided an update on an ongoing military sweep operation in the Puncak Jaya region.

Security force efforts to block coverage of its sweep operation in the Puncak Jaya region have not been completely successful. WestPapuaMedia reported an early July incident in which the Indonesian military shot three children and a mother. All survived the July 12 attack. Ny Dekimira, 50, was hit on the right foot, and the three children, Jitoban Wenda 4, and their neighbors Dekimin Wenda, 3, and Dimison Wenda, 8, all had bullets hit their left legs after Indonesian troops fired indiscriminately into the honai (huts) just before dawn on July 14, according to local witnesses. WestPapuaMedia, which has earned a reputation for accurately reporting major developments notes further that:

Credible reports about the scale of the offensive are beginning to filter through from the remote and inaccessible area about the scale of the offensive The Indonesian government has closed off access to the Tingginambut district to both Indonesian and foreign human rights and media observers, and local activists have had to march for days across rugged terrain to get out verified information. Local human rights observers and Papuan activists have independently reported to West Papua Media that TNI headquarters staff have threatened their safety if they alert journalists to abuses carried out by Indonesian security forces against West Papuan people.

Matius Murib, deputy head of the Papua branch of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), confirmed the account of the four civilian victims. He added that hundreds of residents of Kalome village had fled their homes in the wake of this shooting, because they feared becoming victims of the violence.

Having failed to block coverage of developments the military has sought to deny emerging reports. Maj. Gen. Erfi Triassunu, head of the Cendrawasih Military Command, which oversees operations across Papua, said that reports of these or other civilian casualties was unlikely. “You seriously believe that in a remote and isolated area like that, with such hostile terrain, there would be people living there? Much less kids running around playing?” he said. “Honestly, I’m lost for words. This is the first time I’ve heard of this.” “We would be very surprised if there were any civilian casualties, because what would anyone be doing in such an area?”

WPAT Comment: General Triassunu’s comments would be laughable if they were not so inciting. The general, who has responsibility for the ongoing sweep operation, would appear not to know that there are civilians in the area of the operation. He also appears fundamentally unaware of the circumstances of the assault on the civilians: the wounded children were not “playing around” as the general speculates: rather, they were shot inside their homes in the pre-dawn attack by troops the general supervises.

Dialogue about Violence in Puncak Jaya?

The Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) (a state institution) plans to pursue dialogue with armed Papuan groups in a bid to end violence in the Puncak Jaya region of West Papua. The region is the scene of an ongoing military sweep operation that has already caused civilian casualties.

The Commission intent to pursue dialogue with armed elements and others was announced by commission deputy chairman Nurkholis who spoke to the media on July 15 following his meeting with the Cendrawasih/XVII Military Regional Commander Maj. Gen. Erfi Triassunu. Nurkholis, added that the Commission would coordinate the dialogue initiative with the Coordinating Legal, Political and Security Affairs Ministry and that the initiative would also engage all local leaders in Puncak Jaya in order to “determine the root of the armed conflict and why it continues to occur and claim victims from both the military and civilian sides.” The role of the military in the dialogue was left unclear.

If the initiative proceeds it could offer a window into the repression and human rights abuse that military sweep operations such as the one currently underway have brought about in the Puncak Jaya in recent decades. Any serious dialogue about violence in Puncak Jaya would require access to the area and to the victims of violence, something that the Indonesian military in the past has always sought to prevent.

Peace Conference Convenes in West Papua – Urges Dialogue with Jakarta

A range of Papuan organizations including religious, customary, women’s, youth, academic, student and resistance groups convened in a “conference for peace” at in Abepura at Cenderawasih University, 5-7 July, 2011.

The conferees issued a statement which emphasized that conflicts should be resolved through peaceful means and identified the following principles:

  1. We declare that dialogue is the best way to finding the solution to the conflict between the Papuan people and the Indonesian Government,
  2. We determine to find the solution to political, security, legal, human rights, economic, environmental and social-cultural issues in Papua by means of dialogue between the Papuan people and the Indonesian Government, mediated by a neutral third party,
  3. We welcome the initiative of the central government in support of the preparatory processes for a Jakarta-Papua dialogue

The conferees also agreed on the qualities of those who should be chosen to represent Papuans in the dialogue with Jakarta and identified a list of five prominent Papuans to play that role.

Those making presentations at the conference on the theme of “Let us together make Papua a ‘Land of Peace’ included:

Djoko Sujanto, Minister-Coordinator for Politics and Law of the Republic of Indonesia

Barnabas Suebu, Governor of the Province of Papua

Bekto Suprapto, Chief of Police of Papua

General Erfi Triassunu, Commander of the Military Command XVII/Cenderawasih

Leo Laba Ladjar, Bishop of the Diocese of Jayapura

Tony Wanggai, Chairman of the Papuan Provincial Branch of NU and representative of the Papua Muslim Council

Sokrates Sofyan Yoman, Chairman of the Synod of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Papua

Forkorus Yaboisembut, Chairman of the Papuan Customary Council

(WPAT Comment: Support for dialogue between Papuans and the Jakarta administration continues to grow. The formula proposed by this conference resembles the dialogue process which brought an end to most fighting in Aceh province, although with Aceh international mediators were key. It is important to keep in mind while that process yielded important agreements, Jakarta has failed to implement some of them, such as a truth commission and a human rights court. The Aceh negotiations offer both positive and negative lessons for a similar process focused on West Papua.)

Road to Freedom” Conference Convenes

In an historic gesture of international support for Papuans right to self-determination, international lawyers and human rights activists are joining Papuans at Oxford in the UK to discuss Papuans’ political future. The meeting, convening on August 2 will be chaired by UK Member of Parliament Andrew Smith, and will include renowned academics as well as academics. Among those scheduled to speak were:

Jennifer Robinson – International human rights lawyer

Powes Parkop – Governor of Port Moresby and the National Capital District, PNG

Benny Wenda – West Papua independence leader in exile (and a leading organizer of the conference)

Frances Raday – expert Member of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

John Saltford – historian and expert on the 1969 Act of Free Choice

Clement Ronawery – Witness to the 1969 Act of Free Choice

Ralph Regenvanu – Vanuatu Justice Minister

Charles Foster – co-founder of the International Lawyers for West Papua

The Mayor of Oxford has agreed to fly the Morning Star flag above Oxford Town Hall on the day of the conference to signal support for the conference and in solidarity with the Papuan peoples struggle.

WPAT will have more on the conference next issue.

Military Commander in West Papua Apologizes for Threatening Papua Kingmi Church

In a remarkable turnabout, the chief of the Indonesian military in West Papua has issued an apology to West Papua’s Kingmi Church in the wake of the leak of a letter which was widely seen as constituting a threat to the Papuan church and its leaders. In a July 18 media statement, West Papua Army commander Major-General Erfi Triassunu, issued a public apology to the leadership and congregation of the Kingmi Papua Church. The General wrote “if I caused any offence to the Kingmi Papua Church I am sorry.”

In the originally “secret” April 30, 2011 letter Triassunu repeats claims made by representatives of Kingmi Indonesia, an Indonesian-wide church, that Kingmi Papua is a separatist organization. Kingmi Papua and Kingmi Indonesia have long been at odds. The general acknowledged in his recent letter that he had weighed into an internal church conflict. In words widely recognized as threatening, Triassunu originally wrote of taking “assertive action.” Triassunu indicated that such action would be forthcoming if Kingmi Papua continued to pursue an independent course from Kingmi Indonesia.

Reverend Benny Giay, a leader of the Kingmi Papua church, said that in the past such aggressive talk by senior military figures often served to signal to nationalist militias to take matters into their own hands.

WPAT Comment: Such military involvement in internal church matters affecting Batak Christians in Sumatra often led to violence. More to the point, Kingmi Papua’s pastors have been killed at the hands of the Indonesian military or their militias.

(see Alex Rayfield’s article in New Matilda for broader coverage of this development.)

West Papua Report June 2011

West Papua Report
June 2011

This is the 86th 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.


The daughter of prominent Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma has written about the failure of justice in West Papua. In spite of democratic progress in much of Indonesia, she notes that “the old regime dies hard in West Papua.” Amnesty International‘s annual report on human rights trends in Indonesia documents continued human rights abuse, notably in West Papua, where AI cites the poor performance of security forces. The failure of the Indonesian government to afford justice in a number of outstanding cases of security force abuse in West Papua is exemplified in a recent case in which a civilian was killed by security forces who deny responsibility. The Indonesian government’s intervention to prevent an elected member of the Papuan Peoples Council from taking her seat is only the latest example of discrimination against Papuan women. The Indonesian military appears to be reassuming a major role in providing security for the Freeport mining complex. HIV/AIDS infections in West Papua continue to rise dramatically with the Freeport mine complex town of Mimika recording the largest increase. Observers continue to comment on the failure of “special autonomy” in West Papua.


Daughter of A Papuan Political Prisoner Calls for Justice in West Papua

Audryne Karma, daughter of Filep Karma,  one of West Papua’s most prominent political prisoners, published a May 23 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Ms .Karma, while praising the democratic advances under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono throughout much of Indonesia, observed that for West Papuans “the old regime dies hard. Indonesia has yet to realize the promise of democracy and human rights for all of its citizens,” she writes. After ten years of failed “special autonomy” policies, Ms. Karma writes that West Papuans were “systematically persecuted” as they sought to call attention to special autonomy’s “broken promises.”

The piece by Ms. Karma, boldly and articulately explains that in West Papua, those members of the security forces who commit torture targeting innocent Papuan civilians receive the lightest of sentences (if prosecuted at all) while Papuans who engage in peaceful protest demanding their human rights are locked up for years.

She persuasively describes the case of her own father, Filep Karma, who is serving a 15 year sentence for his peaceful protest. She describes how a notoriously biased judge sentenced her father to three times the sentence recommended by prosecutors and that his Christian faith was openly mocked in the courtroom. During his imprisonment he has suffered repeatedly at the hands of his jailers, denied urgent medical care and punished for his efforts to mediate a dispute within the prison where he is incarcerated.

Ms. Karma notes that her father is one of at least 130 political prisoners who suffer torture and other abuses within a penal system strongly criticized by UN and other international observers.

In a an affront to justice, Ms. Karma writes that in 2007, Indonesia’s Supreme Court struck down the sedition provisions of the Indonesian Criminal Code under which her father and many other political prisoners were prosecuted. None of the political prisoners convicted under these overturned provisions has been released.

Recalling President Obama’s November 2010 visit to Indonesia and his appeal that “every child born in this country be treated equally, whether they come from Java or Aceh; Bali or Papua,” Ms. Karma hopes that the international community would hold President Yudhoyono to this standard. “The Indonesian government cannot be an exemplar of democracy, human rights and the rule of law while it persecutes those who peacefully insist that it live up to those very aspirations.”

(Note: also see Pacific Scoop’s May 5, 2011, “Jailed Leader Filep Karma And The Fight For Papua’s Future.” a detailed and compelling analysis by renowned scholar Dr. Richard Chauvel of Victoria University in Australia.)

Amnesty International Calls Attention to Continuing Violations of Rights in Indonesia

In its annual report for 2011, released in May, Amnesty International issued a broad condemnation regarding the performance of Indonesian security forces and of the Indonesian judicial system, singling out for particular criticism their role in West Papua and Maluku:

“The security forces tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees, and used excessive force against protesters, sometimes leading to death. No adequate accountability mechanisms were in place to ensure justice or act as an effective deterrent against police abuses. The criminal justice system remained unable to address ongoing impunity for current and past human rights violations. Restrictions on freedom of expression were severe in areas such as Papua and Maluku.”

Security forces “tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees, particularly criminal suspects from poor and marginalized communities, and those suspected of pro-independence activities in Papua and Maluku provinces.”

Two videos which emerged during 2010 revealed “members of the police and military torturing and otherwise ill-treating Papuan men. The first video
showed Yawan Wayeni, a Papuan political activist, just before his death in August 2009.” Amnesty International observed that despite severe abdominal injuries, Wayeni “was denied medical assistance by the police.” The second video “showed Papuans being kicked and otherwise physically abused by members of the Indonesian military, and two Papuan men being tortured during interrogation.” The AI report noted also that “Indonesian officials confirmed the authenticity of both videos.”

The AI writes that “freedom of expression continued to be suppressed.” For example, Ardiansyah Matra, a journalist covering corruption and illegal logging in Papua, was found dead in the province in July. “At least 100 political activists were in prison for peacefully expressing their views in areas seeking independence such as Maluku and Papua.” AI calls attention also the case of Filep Karma (see above).

AI reports that “Impunity for past gross human rights violations in Aceh, Papua, Timor-Leste and elsewhere continued… Most past human rights violations against human rights defenders, including torture, murder and enforced disappearances, remained unsolved and those responsible were not brought to justice.

Failure of Justice in West Papua: A Continuing Saga

The Papuan Customary Council, DAP, expressed its disappointment with the rule of law in West Papua, including the number of cases in Papua that have not been solved, according to a May 14 report in Jubi, translated by Tapol.

DAP’s Forkorus Yaboisembut expressed disappointment that “the shooting of Opinus Tabuni on August 9, 2009 on International Indigenous People’s Day in Wamena has not yet been solved.’

Yaboisembut explained that “incidents like this result in the marginalization of the Papuans. They are being exterminated in their own homeland.’

The same Jubi article reports that Markus Haluk, the secretary-general of the Association of Students of the Central Highlands, complained that “a huge number of cases in Papua have remained unsolved. He mentions the Wasior case (2001), the Biak case (1998) and the Abepura case (2000).

These complaints about fractured justice in West Papua were made as yet another case of a Papuan killed by security forces was surfacing. According to a May 18 Jakarta Post report, a dispute involving members of the Indonesian military (TNI) allegedly led to the death of Papuan Derek Adii, 26, from Manokwari regency.

The article cites a news release by the synod of the Papuan KINGMI church which “said the incident erupted as a passenger ferry was about to leave the Samubase Port in Nabire.”

The synod report claimed that Adii called on soldiers blocking access to the ferry to make way after some children had reportedly fallen and been trampled by other passengers. The offended soldiers, who were part of the Nabire Military Command, then assaulted him. “One of the soldiers, Chief Sergeant Hans Aru, drew his bayonet and stabbed Derek in the eye and he died. His body was later thrown overboard,” according to the synod.

When asked for confirmation, the Jakarta Post wrote that Nabire Military commander Lt. Col. Tatang Suyatna denied the reports. “It’s slander,” Tatang said, who claimed that the soldiers were securing the ferry while it was docking when the incident took place. He alledged that the victim was fighting with other passengers who had accused him of stealing and the victim turned on the soldiers as they separated the fight and fell to the sea by accident. The commander did allow that the victim “could have been injured when he was falling overboard.”

A conflicting military account alleged that the victim was drunk.

WPAT Comment: The failure of Indonesian authorities to pursue justice in instances when Indonesian security forces kill or maim Papuans is common place as noted by Yaboisembut and Haluk. The May 18 incident offers an illustrative example of security force impunity in matters where death and injury to Papuans transpires.

Indonesian State Interference in Papuan Woman Leader’s Election to the MRP Underscores Discrimination Against Women

A May 23 Bintang Papua report, translated by TAPOL, notes that representatives of number of women’s organizations in Papua demonstrated peacefully to protest Indonesian government blocking of the swearing in of Hana Hikoyabi to her seat in the Papuan Peoples Council, the Majelis Rakyat Papua (MRP).

The women complained that no legal justification for Hikoyabi’s suspension had been given. They demanded transparency regarding the government’s action and insisted that the selection of the chairperson of the new MRP should not take place until there were clarity about the membership of all its 75 members. The demonstrator met with the acting-chair of the MRP, Joram Wambrauw, who said that he lacked the power to take a decision on this matter but promised to pass the women’s concerns to the governor of Papua.

Separately, in a May 10 interview with the Jakarta Post, Papua Human Rights Working Network coordinator Fien Yarangga observed that the barring of Hikoyabi from the MRP was an example of Jakarta’s intimidation targeting Papuans. The Indonesian government “frequently intimidates Papua in the name of the unity and integrity of the Republic of Indonesia, even though such a stance creates a culture of fear among Papuan officials with strategic positions in regional administrations,” she says.

Fien made the remarks at a press conference in connection with the government’s rejection of Hikoyabi as a member of the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) for the 2011-2016 term. Fien added that “a culture of intimidation has curtailed the development of democratization in Papua.” Fien cited the Home Minister’s refusal to accept Hikoyabi as a member of the MRP after she was declared not loyal to the state ideology Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, even though Hana had met all the requirements for the position. “There was no legal basis for this. It is more political intimidation and character assassination against Hana and even against all the Papuan people who selected Hana,” she said. Fien added that “the way taken by the Home Minister was also aimed at curbing critical Papuan women in defending their own people.

Writing in the May 1 Bintang Papua, Hikoyabi called her rejection “unlawful.”

“This places me in the difficult position of having been responsible for an act of treason – makar – whereas at the time that I nominated myself for member of the MRP from 2011 – 2016, I received an official confirmation from the local police and from the local court of law that I am well-behaved and have never been found guilty of anything or convicted of anything.”

Indonesian Military To Provide Security For Papua’s Freeport Mine

In a May 13 report published by national daily Republika, TNI Commander Suhartono told reporters that security at the massive Freeport copper and gold mine in West Papua would become a collaborative effort involving the military and police. He told the media that “TNI continues to support Polri in providing security at the vital installation, PT Freeport Indonesia.” Suhartono comments came following a meeting between TNI and police personnel in Timika, the major town in West Papua nearest the mining complex.

A separate report by Antara says that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked the Indonesian military and police to give security guarantee to businesses and investments in Papua as part of efforts to accelerate economic development. A presidential spokesman said that the President had listened to the views of PT Freeport Indonesia regarding security, suggesting that PT Freeport welcomed and may have sought the joint TNI-police security arrangement.

The expanded military role in securing Freeport comes in the wake of repeated violence. Freeport security personnel Daniel Mansawan and Hari Siregar were killed on the key mountain road to the mine site in early April. That attack followed by only a few days an unsuccessful attack on Freeport personnel and a January 2010 attack on a convoy that injured nine. Local authorities report no progress in apprehending the perpetrators.

The killing of Mansawan in particular has raised concerns among Papuans. Mansawan was one of the few Papuans to reach a senior position on Freeport’s staff. The failure of security forces and Freeport to pursue his killers aggressively has been the source of protest by local Papuans.

WPAT Comment: In the recent past, the Indonesian police had been assigned the role of protecting PT Freeport with the option of seeking TNI assistance as conditions warranted. This new arrangement, which comes on the heels of renewed violence targeting Freeport personnel in the past two months would appear to restore the TNI security role of previous years when the TNI had come under strong criticism over what many saw as extortion of PT Freeport with cash flowing from Freeport to senior TNI personnel.

HIV/AIDS Infections Rise Sharply in Papua with Area Near Freeport Leading The Trend

A May 6 report in Banjir Ambarita says that the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Papua and West Papua has risen more than 30 percent to over 17,000 in just four months as compared to 13,000 in August of 2010.

Kostan Karma, head of the Papua AIDS Prevention Commission (KPA), told the media “that the spike in infections was very worrying, and blamed it on the prevalence of unprotected sex.” He said that if the number of people living with the virus rose to one percent of the population of both provinces — which the 2010 census put at 2.8 million — the KPA would begin imposing mandatory testing for all new mothers in the region. He explained that this would at least help identify infected newborns, who could then get early treatment.

Kostan said that Mimika, adjacent to the PT Freeport copper and gold mining complex had shown the highest increase and overall number of infections.

The Papua AIDS Prevention Commission blamed the proliferation of new districts over the past 10 years as a factor for the spread of the virus.

“What’s happened is that there’s been more money spreading around, which encourages people to break with the traditional way of life and adopt a more modern lifestyle, including sexual promiscuity,” Kostan said. “What we’re trying to do is get churches to spread the message to get people to stop having casual sex, or if they must, to at least use a condom.”

WPAT Comment: Single male workers recruited by Freeport from outside West Papua to work at the mining complex have long fueled prostitution, gambling and alcohol and drug abuse in Mimika. This illicit activity operates under the protection of security forces in the area.

More Observers Comment on The Failure of Special Autonomy

An article in the May 15 issue of Jubi underscores the continuing unhappiness of Papuans with the “special autonomy” law (OTSUS). Olga Helena Hamadi, Director of the Commission for Disappearances and the Victims of Violence (KontraS) told the media that since the enactment of special autonomy, West Papua has been beset with problems. She noted that many buildings have been constructed that are of no benefit to the indigenous population, for example, the construction of commercial premises. ‘These buildings are for other people,’ (i.e., migrants) she said.

“As for the demands for permanent premises for Papuan businessmen, they are still struggling for this to happen. Their future is still very much in the air. The kind of premises they have been calling for have not been built by the government. The premises that have been built do not last long even though they have been calling for this since 2004, she said.”

OTSUS makes provision for a Commission of Truth and Reconciliation to be set up but all that has happened since OTSUS, she says, has been the creation of a National Human Rights Commission which “means that human rights violations, acts of violence and shootings are only dealt with by the Komnas HAM. The result is that many cases have got stuck, some of which got no farther than a court hearing. There has been no follow-up.”

Also, there has been no proper accounting for OTSUS funds. “There is no accountability because no procedures have been put in place,” she added,

All of this point to the failure of OTSUS.

For its part, the May 14 Jakarta Post carried a report by Nethy Dharma Somba that focused on problems with the special autonomy law. The article notes that the chairman of the special autonomy evaluation committee at the Papuan legislative council, Weynand Watori, told a forum in Jayapura that an evaluation on special autonomy implementation was needed to avoid both the failure of special autonomy and to address the continued poverty suffered by most Papuans.

He noted that special autonomy was designed to help improve education, health, economy and infrastructure for indigenous Papuans. In August 2005, Papuans held a rally at which they asserted that special had failed to bring prosperity to the people. Rallies were also held in July 2010 where protesters called on the legislative council to revoke special autonomy.

The forum agreed that an evaluation of the implementation of special autonomy was needed by involving all stakeholders with the council’s special committee as facilitator. Cenderawasih University in Jayapura and the Papua University in Manokwari, should be entrusted to prepare the right evaluation method.

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West Papua Report April 2011: VP rejects dialogue, MSG, more

West Papua Report
April 2011

This is the 84th 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.


Indonesia’s Vice President Boediono has begun implementation of a Presidential decree calling for the establishment of an inter-governmental agency to examine problems in West Papua. The initiative falls far short of widespread Papuan calls for a senior-level, internationally mediated dialogue between Indonesian officials and Papuans. A senior Papuan civil society leader has spoken out against this continued failure of Jakarta to engage in serious dialogue. Papuan church leaders have charged the Indonesian government with “genocide” in West Papua. The Melanesian Spearhead Group again failed to invite representatives from West Papua to its annual summit, instead inviting the Indonesian government to send observers. Indonesian officials violated the labor rights of Papuans by jailing nurses who called a peaceful, legal strike. A leading Papuan NGO chief has called for elimination of provisions in the Indonesian criminal code that violate Indonesia’s obligations under international conventions to which it is party.



  • The Indonesia Government Continues to Ignore Papuan Calls for Dialogue
  • Senior Papuan Faults Government Failure to Pursue Dialogue
  • Papuan Church Leaders Charge Indonesian with “Genocide”
  • Melanesian Spearhead Group Invites Indonesia as Observer, Continues to Bar Papuan Participation
  • Nurses Jailed in Labor Dispute
  • Demand for Elimination of Repressive Provisions in Indonesia’s Criminal Code

The Government of Indonesia Continues to Ignore Papuan Calls for Dialogue

The Jakarta Post reported that Indonesian Vice President Boediono planned to  convene a meeting on West Papua on March 28 in Jakarta. The meeting was to be the initial step in formulating a draft of a presidential decree to address issues regarding Papua. The regulation also aims to establish a special unit to accelerate development in Papua. According to the decree, the government will form a “delivery unit,” the Unit Percepatan Pembangunan Papua dan Papua Barat (UP4B/ Special Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua). Significant aspects of the draft include the promotion of a cluster-based approach to development, and an increased integration of the activities of the central and regional administrations. The planned regulation follows a presentation made by Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu and West Papua Governor Abraham Ocktavianus Atnuri to the national Cabinet in January.

Indonesia Vice President Boediono The late March meeting was to have included Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa and Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo, as well as unnamed Papuan representatives.

A March 9 interview by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Tom Allard revealed the Vice President’s intentions. Boediono told Allard that he rejected a bilateral dialogue, as called for by many Papuans, contending instead that his agency would assist multiparty communications. Boediono said he would welcome international donor aid money for West Papua but rejected any possible mediation role such as occurred in Aceh in 2005 when a peace accord mediated by internationally ended years of central government abuses carried out by security forces. Boediono told Allard that his new effort would aim at better communications, affirmative action for indigenous Papuans, and “more openness.” (The Jakarta government has long placed severe restrictions on journalists, UN and foreign government or NGO personnel seeking to visit West Papua.) Boediono offered no assurances that he would press for allowing Papuans the right to fly the Morning Star flag or that the heavy military presence in West Papua might be reduced.

Vice President Boediono made clear that this undertaking would not constitute a “dialogue.” There is no indication that this new body will address outstanding issue of human rights violations, impunity for those committing those abuses, notably in the military and police. This body will almost certainly not consider the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights, especially the right of self determination.

WPAT Comment: Boediono’s “agency” falls far short of persistent appeals by Papuan officials, civil society leaders as well as Papuan, Indonesian and international NGOs for a senior level, internationally-mediated dialogue between the Indonesian government and Papuan leaders. Indeed, Boediono, in his Sydney Morning Herald interview, made clear that this undertaking would not constitute a “dialogue.” There is no indication that this new body will address outstanding issue of human rights violations, impunity for those committing those abuses, notably in the military and police. This body will almost certainly not consider the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights, especially the right of self determination, which the central government has long denied Papuans.

Senior Papuan Faults Government Failure to Pursue Dialogue

Participation of Papuan provincial level officials in Vice Boediono’s meeting regarding West Papua (see report above) reflects the unwillingness of Papuan government officials to support the widespread call of their Papuan constituents for an internationally-mediated dialogue with the Jakarta government. Pastor Neles Tebay, coordinator of the Papua Peace Network – JDP discussed this failure of Papuan leadership candidly in a March 25 interview with JUBI.

Tebay noted frankly that neither of the provincial governments (Papua and West Papua) have reached agreement about the agenda of such a dialogue. Nor have either of the Papuan administrations issued statements officially supporting Jakarta-Papua dialogue. Tebay candidly assessed that the Papuan officials’ failure to endorse the popular calls for dialogue was because dialogue “is seen as being a separatist move and in opposition to what the Indonesian state is working for.” “Any individual who works for the government who expresses support for the idea of a Jakarta-Papua dialogue is in danger of losing his job because he is likely to be seen as a separatist. Anyone working for the government who expresses support for a dialogue places himself in danger and could lose his job,’ he said.

For his part, Father Tebay continues to pursue dialogue as a means of finding solutions to problems besetting Papuans. Tebay stressed that dialogue was not in itself a solution but rather would bring together the Papuan people and the Indonesian government to discuss the problems. The aim would be to discuss the problems and agree to the best possible solution.

Pastor Tebay said that so far, he has visited twelve districts in Papua to hold consultations. The districts he has visited so far include Merauke, Biak Enarotali, Timika, Wamena and Sorong.

He has also visited some other countries to discuss the question of dialogue including PNG, Vanuatu and Australia where he met Papuans in a number of cities. Everywhere he went, he encountered enthusiasm for the idea of finding a peaceful solution by means of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua.

Papuan Church Leaders Charge the Indonesian Government with “Genocide”

Papuan Church leaders in late March issued a “Theological Declaration of Churches in Papua.” The declaration includes one of the most forthright Papuan statements regarding genocide targeting Papuans. The statement which was forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (see full document at A Statement from a Group of Papuan Church Leaders) contends:

Transmigration policy and unrelenting military operations are, in our view well-planned programs to eventually annihilate indigenous Papuans. Papuans are positioned as “the other” and as such warrant surveillance, control, and civilization. Papuans are not equal citizens of Indonesia. Some observers in Jakarta view this as an internal colonialism or disguised slavery against Papuans.


Papuans have undergone a ‘silent history of suffering’ or memmoria passsionis leading to genocide. … The term genocide perhaps does not meet the criteria set forth by the UN, or other nations, or by Indonesia. But from our own view as victims, genocide is indeed taking place through the conditioning staged by Jakarta in the forms of ideology and development policies that are against the indigenous Papuans. Transmigration policy and unrelenting military operations are, in our view well-planned programs to eventually annihilate indigenous Papuans. Papuans are positioned as “the other” and as such warrant surveillance, control, and civilization. Papuans are not equal citizens of Indonesia. Some observers in Jakarta view this as an internal colonialism or disguised slavery against Papuans. 

Melanesian Spearhead Group Invites Indonesia as Observer, Continues to Bar Papuan Participation
Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit
Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit members and observers.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), comprising Vanuatu, the Solomon Island, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Kanaky peoples of New Caledonia, invited Indonesia (and Timor-Leste) to join their annual meeting. MSG leaders met March 31 in Suva, Fiji, for the annual summit which followed a meeting of foreign ministers March 29. The MSG did not invite any representation from West Papua.

A conference of solidarity groups supporting West Papua that convened in Sydney in February had called on the MSG not to offer observer status to Indonesia and instead to offer that status to representatives of the Papuan people of West Papua.

For its part, the Australian West Papua Association (AWPA) welcomed a statement from the Chairman of the MSG meeting, Ratu Inoke Kubuabol who said that “The Melanesia Spearhead Group feels for their brothers and sisters in West Papua.” Joe Collins of AWPA said “we urge the MSG to grant West Papua membership at the leaders summit. They would have the support of the Melanesian people across the region in granting West Papua membership.”

Collins noted that 42% included West Papua as part of the Melanesian family in the first ever telephone poll conducted by the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP) across Melanesia.. An overwhelming majority (75.4%) of respondents said yes to the question “Do you support independence for West Papua.” PiPP in a press release reported that when asked who they considered part of the Melanesian family, clear majorities included the established members (PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia) while 42% also included West Papua, 17.1% included Australia, 14.9% included Indonesia and 14.1% included Timor-Leste. PiPP also reported that when asked “Do you support independence for West Papua?” there was very high support in PNG (89.3%) and Vanuatu (88.2%).

Collins underscored that these numbers suggest a “disconnect between popular support and the position taken by governments in the region, except Vanuatu, which has long championed the West Papuan cause at the political level. He concluded, “we see that in the poll only 14.9% of respondents considered Indonesia to be part of the Melanesian family yet Indonesia has observer status but not West Papua. For the sake of the long term stability of the region we hope West Papua will be discussed at the leaders meeting.”

The meeting in Suva was controversial because Fiji is currently under military dictatorship.

WPAT Comment: West Papua is the largest Melanesian populated entity not represented within the MSG and the second largest Melanesian entity, after Papua New Guinea. Its continued exclusion from the MSG calls into question the legitimacy of the organization. Moreover, the MSG’s failure address the plight of Papuans, including ethnic cleansing under the rubric of “transmigration” and charges of “genocide” by credible organizations (see statement by Papuan church leaders above) exposes the lack of commitment among Melanesian leaders to the rights and welfare of Melanesian peoples. Vanuatu’s repeated and public expressions of concern about the plight of Papuans is a singular but noteworthy exception in this regard.

Nurses Jailed in Violation of International Convention

Mounting public pressure, including from members of the Papuan Provincial Assembly (DPRP), compelled the police to announce they would release eight nurses who had been jailed on charges of incitement (article 335 of the criminal code). However, purportedly because of the absence of a key police official required to sign the release order, it appears the nurses had not yet been released at the end of March.

These West Papuan nurses were pursuing their legitimate rights and it is obscene to think they are languishing in jail.

The eight had been jailed over their call for a strike by nurses at the DokII General Hospital. That strike, a peaceful, lawful labor action, was over promised but unpaid compensation. Letters have been sent to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as well as to Vice-President Boediono protesting the arrest of five nurses and midwives who work at the general hospital for organizing a strike.

The detention of the nurses violates their rights notably as set forth in International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize), which was ratified by Indonesia in June 1998.

The issue of the unpaid compensation remains unresolved. The local daily Bintang Papua reported on March 23 that nurses and midwives had taken the issue to the DPRD and the provincial governor where hundreds demonstrated. They charged that the provincial secretary Constan Karmadi had deceived the public when he promised in December 2010 that incentives would be paid.

The medical staff are planning to make a formal complaint against the provincial secretary to the Administrative Court, pointing out that Instruction 125/2010 has been issued for the payment of the incentives, only to be cancelled by a later instruction that withdrew any such payments.

There is growing international attention to the arrests and the failure of the Indonesian government to meet is contract obligations to the nurses. Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Ged Kearney has described the detention of the nurses as “outrageous” and called for their immediate release. She noted as well that “the arrests of the nurses, including two officials of the National Union of Indonesian nurses, was a heavy handed response to nurses pursuing a legitimate industrial campaign in support of their contracted entitlements. ”

“These West Papuan nurses were pursuing their legitimate rights and it is obscene to think they are languishing in jail,” added Kearney.

Demand for Elimination of Repressive Provisions in The Indonesian Criminal Code

The Papuan publication JUBI published an appeal on March 31 by the executive director of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid (LP3BH) Yan Christian Warinussy to the Dewan Adat Papua (DAP, Papuan Customary Council) to submit articles 106 and 107 of the criminal code on subversion and incitement (the ‘makar’ or subversion articles) of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) to the Constitutional Court for a judicial review.

“I call on DAP together with the Papuan people to seek a judicial review of the makar article before the Constitutional Court because it is no longer appropriate for such a law to remain in force in a democratic country like Indonesia. Other democratic states around the world don’t have such a law,” he said.

Many international organizations, including WPAT and ETAN have long called for the removal of these provisions from the Indonesian criminal code. The provisions date to the colonial era and were frequently used during the Suharto dictatorship to repress peaceful opposition. Indonesian officials continue to employ them to repress popular, peaceful dissent, particularly in West Papua where Suharto era practices, including unjust prosecution, persist.

The provisions violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights to which Indonesia is signatory.

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