Tag Archives: fake journalism

Response to Call to Apply Indonesia’s Anti-Terrorism Law in West Papua

by Ed McWilliams

February 2, 2013

Edmund McWilliams is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer who served as the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta 1996-1999. He received the American Foreign Service Association’s Christian Herter Award for creative dissent by a senior foreign service official. He is a member of the West Papua Advocacy Team and a consultant with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN).
In a December 5, 2012 lecture at Stanford University’s International Policy Studies program ( revised January 22, 2013), the respected Southeast Asia analyst Sidney Jones discussed the Indonesian government’s unwillingness, thus far, to categorize the Papuan “ethno-nationalists/separatists” as “terrorists.” Jones identifies these Papuan “ethno-nationalists” and “separatists” as the armed Papuan opposition, Operasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) and what she describes as “an extremist faction of KNPB, the West Papua National Committee, a militant pro-independence organization.” Jones cites various incidents of violence in West Papua that she claims were committed by these “ethno-nationalists and separatists.”


The authors of violence in the Indonesian archipelago, especially violence with complex motives, are never so clear cut as her lecture implies. This is especially true of West Papua where police-military rivalries over access to resources and sources of extortion monies is well known.



Her analysis focuses on the different approaches employed against the West Papuan “ethno-nationalists/separatists” and against Islamic militants (“jihadists”) by prosecutors and the security forces (police, military and Detachment 88). Jones contends that “the discrepancy between the way the two groups are treated by the legal system is untenable.” She considers two alternatives: One would be to employ anti-terrorism law in West Papua, and the other would entail moving away from the use of anti-terror law against “jihadists.” She argues extensively against the latter approach of “pulling back from the use of the anti-terror law.”

Jones contends that pressure for use of the anti-terror law against “ethno-nationalists/separatists” is growing among Islamic observers. In particular, she cites Harits Abu Ulya, director of the Community of Ideological Islamic Analysts (CIIA): “If the government is consistent, then it should acknowledge that attacks motivated by ethno-nationalism and separatism be considered terrorism because they are carried out by an organization with a political vision that uses terrorism to influence the security environment and challenge(s) the sovereignty of the state. Why aren’t we seeing forces being sent en masse to cleanse Papua of separatism?”

Jones’ argument warrants a more detailed critique than space here allows, but even a brief review reveals a number of problems.

Jones summarily credits recent violent acts in West Papua to the “ethno-nationalists and separatists.” This is surprising insofar as Jones is a highly regarded observer of the Indonesian political scene with a deep human rights background. She knows, or should know, that the authors of violence in the Indonesian archipelago — especially violence with complex motives — are never so clear cut as her lecture implies. This is especially true of West Papua where police-military rivalries over access to resources and sources of extortion monies is well known. Jones should know also that military, police and intelligence agencies, have long played the role of provocateur, orchestrating acts of violence which advance agendas that are invariably obscure.

Jones cites what she claims is recent “ethno-nationalist” pressure on the giant Freeport McMoRan mining operation. She ignores the reality that such pressure in the past has frequently been orchestrated by the military, specifically the Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus). To be fair, Jones alludes to this complexity but largely dismisses it. Her analysis similarly ignores the reality that the Indonesian state has long blocked international monitoring of such security force skullduggery and manipulation of the security environment in West Papua by restricting travel by international journalists, human rights researchers and others to and within the region.

Jones also fails to acknowledge the reality, widely noted in international and local human rights circles, that the Indonesian government has long sought to smear peaceful dissent in West Papua as “separatist.” Jakarta, through the aegis of a corrupt court system and often criminal state security forces, has repeatedly employed the “separatist” label to arrest and prosecute or detain peaceful political dissenters, such as those who display the Papuan morning star flag. Courts regularly resort to charges of treason that date to the Dutch colonial era and widely used by the Suharto dictatorship to intimidate dissidents. Jones’ call for Indonesia to define “separatism” as “terrorism” would deepen Jakarta’s targeting of peaceful dissent and the intimidation of Papuans generally. Use of the anti-terror law would enable the police to detain “separatist” suspects, including those engaging in peaceful protest, for a week rather than 48 hours. The law also empowers the police to employ electronic surveillance. Ongoing efforts would strengthen the anti-terror law to give the police even broader powers to limit the freedom of speech and assembly.


The argument to employ the “terrorist” label against “ethno-nationalist and separatist” groups and individuals in West Papua could have direct legal implications for international solidarity movements.



Jones claim that the West Papua Nationalist Committee (KNPB) is a “extremist,” is without substantiation. Criminal activity by some alleged members of the KNPB is generally not well corroborated and usually reflects efforts by the State to undermine the organization. The KNPB, and many other Papuan organizations and individuals are indeed ever more strongly pressing for Papuan rights, importantly including the long-denied Papuan right to self determination. But these efforts are largely nonviolent.

In recent years, this struggle has found growing support within the international community. Employing the “terrorist” label against “ethno-nationalist and separatist” groups and individuals in West Papua could have direct legal implications for international solidarity movements. In the U.S., groups or individuals who advocate on behalf of groups designated by the U.S. government as “terrorists” are subject to criminal prosecution. Given the close relations among governments, including those of the U.S. and Australia and Indonesia’s security forces, Indonesian government labeling dissidents in West Papua as “terrorist” could have dire implications for the solidarity network. How long would it be before the U.S. and other governments themselves begin to label various Papuan groups and individuals as ‘”terrorist.” U.S. and other international groups acting in solidarity with Papuans seeking to attain their rights could be criminally targeted and charged.

In sum, the Jones analysis is hobbled by the very term “terrorism” which is so poorly defined international law and procedure as to threaten and intimidate even those groups and individuals engaged in peaceful dissent.

In a final note, Sidney Jones, who was the Asia Director for Human Rights Watch from 1989 to 2002, should at a minimum explicitly reject the call by Harits Abu Ulya that she cites in her lecture for the Indonesian government “to cleanse Papua of separatism.” Such rhetoric gives license to the kind of atrocities already visited on the people of the Indonesian archipelago, including Timor-Leste, for far too long.

Also

Posted here: http://www.etan.org/news/2013/01response.htm

UK Embassy denies fake journalism in Bintang Papua article

West Papua Media EXCLUSIVE

December 18, 2012

An article – “UK ambassador visits Papua to counteract ‘false information’ spread by ‘certain groups’ in London” – that appeared in the usually accurate Bintang Papua outlet on December 14, contained much false reporting in the original Bahasa Indonesia version, according to both Papuan journalists and the spokesperson for the British Embassy in Jakarta.

The Bintang Papua article, written by journalist Makawaru Da Cunha, who uses only his initial “MDC,” reported that “The British Embassy to Indonesia has described the situation in Papua as ‘very peaceful and conducive’. It is quite different from the information being disseminated by certain groups to the British government.in London”.

However, according to the British embassy in Jakarta today, this statement was not made, nor was the staff officer identified in the article, Millie McDevitt, able to speak with the press.

West Papua Media has been in extensive contact today with the Media Unit at the UK Embassy in Jakarta to establish the veracity or otherwise of this reporting.  A spokesperson for the UK Embassy in Jakarta told West Papua Media exclusively on Tuesday night:

“Mrs Millie McDevitt, political officer at the British Embassy, visited Papua last week as part of the British Embassy’s regular programme of Provincial visits. While there, she met a range of political and security representatives as well as the NGO and religious communities.

This follows on from the Ambassador’s own visit to Papua in September, when he wasted no opportunity with government, local government, military and police interlocutors to emphasise our hope that Papua will soon enjoy the same peace and prosperity as other parts of Indonesia.”

The spokesperson also said that the article “was littered with inaccuracies”.

Sources for West Papua Media who declined to be identified have claimed that the article, appearing in an outlet that is usually known for accurate reportage, was allegedly written by an Indonesian journalist in the pay of the Indonesian police.  West Papua Media has not yet been able to check the veracity of this particular claim, however there has been extensive prior reporting on the involvement and interference of Indonesian security and intelligence agencies in newsrooms in West Papua.

Numerous Papuan journalists today have raised concerns that this level of misreporting could significantly harm relations between the UK and Papuan people.

West Papua Media

More to come on this story

Original Bintang Papua Article:

Bintang Papua, 14 December 2012 The British Embassy to Indonesia has described the situation in Papua as ‘very peaceful and conducive’. It is quite different from the information being disseminated by certain groups to the British government.in London, she said .

The Special Staff of the British Embassy’s political section, Millie McDevit made these comments during a visit to the chief of police in Jayapura, Police Inspector-General Tito Karnavian on 13 December.  Mrs McDevit said that she had made a special visit to the chief of police in order to get confirmation directly from him about information being spread by certain groups who allege that the situation in  Papua is far from peaceful.

She went on to say that such information was being spread every time Papuans suffered discrimination by the Indonesian government, especially by the TNI – the army – and Polri, the police force. She said that after  visiting a number of places especially in Jayapura, she could see that things were very different indeed from what is being conveyed to the British government.

‘It is nothing like what I expected to find when I first set foot in Papua,’ she said. ‘When people visit Northern Ireland, you can be questioned anywhere, but in Papua you can go out late at night without being disturbed in any way.’

She said that security and development are proceeding very well in Papua and she expressed support for what the police in Papua are doing to combat corruption because combating corruption is the best way to improve people’s welfare.

The police chief Tito Karnavian said that they had provided plenty of information to the Special Staff of the British Embassy’s political section in order to contradict all the negative information being spread about the situation in Papua. ‘She decided to come to Papua to check the information,’ he said.

Karnavian also said that they had asked the British government to provide the police in Papua with special equipment to check people’s DNA.  At present, the police have to identify people involved in violence  and shootings by checking the evidence outside Papua. ‘If we have the equipment to check people’s DNA, this will help to enhance the ‘supremacy of law’ here in Papua,; he said.

[Translated by TAPOL, corrected through WPM translators]

KNPPB A Rival Organization Created By Indonesia To Compete With KNPB

by wedaumamo at KNPB News
November 17, 2012
Analysis / Opinion

Jayapura, KNPBnews – In their continuous efforts to destroy the legitimate movement of the people of West Papua who are fighting for their rights, Indonesian counter-intelligence operations have now created a rival organization called the West Papua Youth National Committee (Komite Nasional Pemuda Papua Barat, or KNPPB). The organization claims itself to be a forerunner of a self-claimed Republic of West Papua under the leadership of Yance Hembring, an agent of the Indonesian Republic.

The KNPPB, an acronym which bears a striking resemblance with KNPB, was created by Indonesia to further strike a blow at the genuine struggle for Papuan rights, led by the KNPB. The fact that Indonesia would instigate further attacks towards the good image of the political struggle of the people of West Papua was to be expected and it was also predicted. It was only a matter of time before journalists of the newspaper Bintang Papua, a number of which are mere agents of Indonesia, calculatedly published the news item concerning the establishment of this rival organ, based on information passed on by sources who are nothing more than the minions of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), and who have been paid to discredit the struggle of the people of West Papua, a struggle led by the KNPB and the people of West Papua.

Active monitoring of the online media shows that Yance Hembring’s group constitutes a faction of the OPM which has already surrendered to the Republic of Indonesia and which is now being used by Indonesia to influence and destroy the bases of the OPM. This faction is now also being used by Indonesia to recruit young people to destroy the KNPB by setting up the rival organ called KNPPB, in exchange for money.

The release today of this deceit by the newspaper Bintang Papua (issues numbers 14 and 15) has as main purpose to blacken the good image of the KNPB and to diminish the sympathy of the people of West Papua for the KNPB. Wim Metlama, KNPB’s National Spokesperson, said that Indonesia was resorting to the old ways of paying Papuans and Papuan newspapers in order to play their dirty political games and soiling the good image of the struggle of West Papua.

“Treacherous moves like these are not something new. These are old tricks that Indonesia has been using, but it has always been to no avail. And we are convinced that the people of West Papua are wise enough to recognise these dreadful tricks played by the colonisers. Even more so, this deceit only proves once again to the people of West Papua that Indonesia is in the habit of manipulating the truth and lying to the people, and precisely for that reason will they realise that the NKRI is truly an occupying colonial force in West Papua”, said Wim.

The newspaper Media Papua is unfortunately contributing to the spreading of the lie, by publishing the news item and disseminating the deceitful information into the public in West Papua. According to our monitoring, a month ago, Papua police chief Tito Karnavian had approached the board of editors of the newspaper Bintang Papua and he had asked them for their support for his colonial agenda. Soon, if not already, many agents of the printed media and other reporters in West Papua will be offered money in return for services to support the colonial program as Tito Karnavian has recently requested.

[Translated by LT]