Tag Archives: ForDem

Abepura prison director, staff, accused of violence towards prisoners


[Slightly abridged in translation]

Bintang Papua, 13 December 2010

Director of Abepura Prison and 14 of his staff accused of acts of 
violent towards prisoners

There is still no clear information with regard to two cases of violence 
that occurred in Abepura Prison in the past month and it is hoped that 
the police will carry out a serious investigation in order to  explain 
these two incidents that have led to the security forces conducting 
sweepings throughout the district of Abepura. The need for a more 
humanitarian approach in dealing with the victims of these actions was 
stressed during a press conference  held by Forum of People's Democracy 
(Forem) in Abepura on Monday.

The series of incidents included the shooting in Nafri and the enforced 
removal of five prisoners, Filep Karma, Buchtar Tabuni, Dominggus 
Pulalo, Lopez Karubaba and Eni Elopere which has raised questions by 
Forem, particularly why the men were forcibly transferred to police 
custody and to explain what their present status is.

Two of the prisoners are political  prisoners while the other three are 
being held on criminal charges.

The five men were transferred by the police on Friday, 3 December at 
around 11pm, on the orders to Abepura prison director , Berthy Sitinjak. 
Up to this day, the prison authorities have failed to  tell them the 
reason for their having being transferred to police custody. All the 
focus has been on the five men having allegedly provoked  others in the 
prison to  destroy things in the prison on that Friday afternoon. 
According to the prisoners themselves, these acts of destruction were an 
expression of their feelings of dissatisfaction with the attitude of the 
prison director who failed to tell them why five of their co-prisoners 
had fled from the prison on the same day at about 12 noon.

One of the men, Wiron Wetipo, was shot dead while Filep Karma and 
Buchtar Tabuni tried to calm people down, and asked to meet the director 
of the prison for  an explanation as to what happened to the prisoner 
who was shot dead in Tanah Hitam.

According to Forem, as stated by Simon Yumame, Dominggus Pulalo, Lopez 
Karubaba and Eni Elopere were not involved in damaging prison 
facilities, yet even so, they were maltreated by prison director Berthy 
Sitinjak  along with 14 members of his staff. These actions resulted in 
a damaged ear for Dominggus Pulalo and swellings on his head  as a 
result of being kicked repeatedly  all over this body.

According to Filep Karma and his co-prisoners, the five men who fled 
from the prison on Friday were criminal prisoners and were in no way 
connected with any political activities or the OPM. They had simply 
spent their time in the prison learning new skills and growing vegetables.

Forem has therefore urged the prison director Berthy Sitinjak and the 
deputy director of law and human rights to take responsibility and to 
ensure the return of the five prisoners so that they can serve the 
remainder of their sentences in Abepura Prison.and to explain publicly 
why the five prisoners were shot at even though they had been able to 
flee from the prison at a time when it was being heavily guarded. Forem 
also calls on the minister for law and human rights and the 
Diretor-General of  prisons to take firm action against the director of 
the prison for the arbitrary acts of violence taken against the 
prisoners in Abepura Prison.

According to Forem, at their press conference,  the prison authorities 
have shown that they are incapable of giving proper guidance to the 
prisoners; on the contrary, they  have caused widespread anxiety among 
the prisoners against the police and army for opening fire on prisoners 
that resulted in the death of Wiron Wetipo.

These two serious incidents, the shooting in Nafri and the flight of the 
prisoners, means that the army and the police should conduct a full 
investigation into the Nafri shooting and other matters, that violence 
should not be resorted to and they should behave in a more professional 
way and in accordance with the law, so as not to create an atmosphere of 
fear among the  prisoners.

The prisoner director, when asked about the accusations being made 
against his staff for using violence in the prison, showed no interest 
in the matter, saying simply that it was okay for the  prisons to 
express their views about allegations that the prison staff used 
violence. The truth was, according to him, that they had thrown things 
around in the prison office. 'Which is why was they have been moved to 
police custody for their involvement in the events of 3 December, and 
their cases are now being taken forward by the police.

Testimonies at US Congress hearings on West Papua

September 22, 2010

Crimes Against Humanity: When Will Indonesia’s Military Be Held Accountable for Deliberate and Systematic Abuses in West Papua?

Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment

Statements available for download are hyperlinked:

Mr. Joseph Y. Yun Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs U.S. Department of State

Mr. Robert Scher Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Asian and Pacific Security Affairs U.S. Department of Defense 

Pieter Drooglever, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus Institute of Netherlands History

Mr. Octovianus Mote Founder, West Papua Action Network President, Papua Resource Center

Mr. Henkie Rumbewas

Mr. Nicholas Simeone Messet West Papua, Independent Group Supporting Special Autonomy as Part of the Republic of Indonesia

Mr. Salamon Maurits Yumame Head of FORDEM (The Democratic Forum)

S. Eben Kirksey, Ph.D. Visiting Assistant Professor The Graduate Center The City University of New York

Sophie Richardson, Ph.D. Asia Advocacy Director Human Rights Watch

Dr Giay: Papuan people face a host of problems

 JUBI, 12 September 2010

The chairman of the Synod of the Evangelical Church (Kingmi) of Papua,
Dr Benny Giay, said that many problems continue to bear down heavily on
the Papuan  people in the Land of  Papua. Many young people face a host
of very complex problems, from awareness of their own identity in the
face of influences coming from outside Papua, to alcoholic drinking,
HIV/AIDS, and the absence of any democratic space.

'Many problems are occurring every day, compelling us to confront them
together. At the very least, people feel the need to stand up and fight
back, and dont like the idea of simply accepting things as they are.'

Dr Giay was speaking at the conclusion of a Spiritual, Cultural and
Sports Week run by the Kingmi Church in Enarotali on Saturday, 9
September. The theme of the week was 'The Need for Change in order to be

The problems cover a wide range of issues, social, economic, political,
cultural, the search for knowledge, acts of violence and human rights
violations. All these things are acutely felt by the Papuan people.
'There are so many excesses, they make us feel very insecure.'

What we need to do is to turn to God with prayer and also work very
hard, he said. 'All forces in society, including the Church, have the
responsibility to  focus on the problems confronted by the people.'

He said that people need to be supported by their faith. 'As people
created by God, we must all focus on people's problems and complaints
and also on their aspirations.'

'Young men and women must be guided by their faith and need help to
ensure that their potentials can be developed in every field of life.'

Dr Giay also hoped for collaboration with other churches in confronting
a variety of phenomena that are threatening the very existence of our
people in the Land of  Papua.


[Nothing new for nearly a week from Bintang Papua, no doubt because of
the Idul Fitri gatherings and events. TAPOL]

Indonesia and the challenge of Papuan separatism

copyright rests with original author

Piece originally appears at http://www.idsa.in/node/5803/1097

Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis [India]
August 25, 2010


Indonesia and the challenge of Papuan separatism

Bilveer Singh


If there are any symbols of Papuans’ continued quest and determination
for sovereign independence1, it is their continued attachment to their
flag, the Morning Star or Bintang Kejora (in Indonesian), their
Anthem, Hai Tanahku Papua (in Indonesian) or Oh, My Land Papua,
written by a Dutch missionary in the 1930s and the continued existence
of the OPM, Papua Independence Movement since 1964. The Morning Star
was first formally unveiled on 1 December 1961, symbolising the onset
of the Republic of West Papua and flew till October 1962, when the
former Dutch colony was transferred to the United Nations Temporary
Executive Authority through a deal brokered by the United States,
mainly to prevent Indonesia from joining the Soviet Camp during the
Cold War. Indonesia took control of the territory in the following
year and formally incorporated West Papua, renamed West Irian, into
Indonesia in 1969, recognised by the United Nations. However, Papuans
have continued to challenge the territory’s integration into Indonesia
and a bloody struggle has ensued ever since, with supporters of Papuan
independence claiming that more than 100,000 Papuans have been killed
by the Indonesian military. The violence has continued right to the
present period and it remains illegal to fly the Bintang Kejora in
Indonesia and many Papuans continue to be incarcerated for doing so.
Anatomy of Papua

Located on the easternmost part of Indonesia, geographically it
constitutes one-fifth of the country but only has a population of 3
million (of which the natives constitute only 50 per cent). Indonesia,
where 90 per cent of the people are Muslim, has a population of nearly
240 million. Papua is a largely Christian territory, where the
Protestants constitute the majority, followed by the Catholics and
then Muslims. However, tribalism is extremely dominant with more than
265 tribes representing the Putra Daerah or Sons of the Soil
(natives). Yet, the territory is extremely rich in natural resources,
especially oil, gas, gold and copper. It is also geo-strategically
important, bordering on land with Papua New Guinea and fronting the
Pacific Ocean.
Explaining Papuans’ Desire for Independence

Even though Indonesia declared independence in August 1945 and had to
fight the Dutch to gain complete sovereignty in December 1949, the
Dutch only surrendered Papua in October 1962. This represents an
important historical anomaly as Papua remained for another 12 years as
a Dutch colony compared to the rest of Indonesia. This provided the
Dutch ample time to develop a local Papuan elite that was committed to
independence and hence the importance of the Morning Star, National
Anthem, not to mention a rudimentary Parliament that was formed in
Jayapura in 1961. However, due to the Cold War, President Kennedy
succeeded in pressurising the Dutch to surrender the territory in 1962
and Indonesia, with the support of the West, legitimately gained
control of the territory by 1969. However, this was largely undertaken
against the wishes of the Papuan elites and hence the continued
struggle for Merdeka or independence ever since.

> From the perspective of Papuans, there are a number of grievances that
have provided a catalyst and triggered their demands for independence.
First, the sense of historical injustice when Papua was handed over to
Indonesia by the Dutch in 1962 without consulting Papuan elites and
later, the fraudulent manner in which the referendum, called Act of
Free Choice (but what the Papuans call Act of No Choice) was held in
1969. Thus, for the Papuans, Indonesia is an illegal colonizer and the
territory’s status should be reviewed through a referendum. Second,
gross unhappiness in the manner Jakarta has flooded the territory with
non-Papuans, mostly Muslims, thereby creating what Papuans refer to as
‘demographic and cultural genocide’ and where they are fast becoming
minorities in their own land. This has also intensified
social-cultural conflicts between the natives (Putra Daerah) and the
transmigrants (Pendatangs), the latter usually backed by officialdom.
Third, demographically, Papuans feel discriminated against, with the
majority Malay Indonesians looking down on the Melanesian Papuans (for
their dress code, eating and drinking habits, etc) and worst still,
most privileges being given to the former at the expense of the

Fourth, there is the rising impoverisation of the Papuans. Despite the
immense wealth of the territory, Papuans are among the poorest in
Indonesia. Instead, the wealth is sucked out to benefit non-Papuans
and foreigners, who in alliance with Jakarta, continue to benefit from
Jakarta’s rule over the territory. The operation of Freeport McMoran,
the world’s largest gold mine operator, is a case in point. Fifth,
Papuans are also in rage as the territory’s environment has been
pillaged and more important, the forest, which for the Papuans is not
only a community property but also important religiously, being
plundered. Finally, most blatant of all, has been the immense human
rights violations undertaken continuously by almost every government
in power in Jakarta since the days of Sukarno. Papuans have continued
to suffer as Indonesia has continued to treat the territory as a
colony and where any form of opposition, peaceful or otherwise, is
dealt with brutally. Indonesians refer to this as the ‘security
approach’ to development and Indonesia’s democratization in 1998 has
not really altered much as far as Papua is concerned. Many Papuan
leaders have been murdered by the Indonesian military, such as Theys
Eluay in November 2001. The continued existence, despite weaknesses,
of the Papua Independence Movement, is a testimony of Papuans’
willingness to take to arms to achieve their goal of independence. In
short, injustice, intolerance, exploitation and violence are the main
drivers that have motivated Papuans to seek an alternative future for
Why is Indonesia Unwilling to give in to Papuan Separatists?

Papua is not only strategically vital, being a land, air and maritime
border zone, but probably more important is the immense wealth it
possesses. Jakarta depends on Papua for the bulk of its revenue and
Papua is probably Indonesia’s most important ‘golden goose’. It would
be a strategic and economic disaster if the territory were to be lost.
Also, Indonesians view Papua as an integral part of the Unitary State
of the Republic of Indonesia and any leader even contemplating giving
independence to Papua would be viewed as a national traitor, a price
President Habibie paid for East Timor’s independence. At the same
time, despite Papuans’ unhappiness, the bulk of the international
community continues to support Indonesia’s ownership of Papua given
that Indonesia is much more important than Papua. Jakarta leaders have
also argued that to give in to Papuans’ demand for independence would
open the Pandora’s Box leading others to demand likewise, resulting in
the break-up of Indonesia. In the final analysis, it is the simple
issue of political, economic and military asymmetry, and where the
Papuans are simply not in a position to challenge and dislodge
Indonesia. As such, while Indonesia is unprepared to abandon the
territory and most Papuans are unhappy to remain in Indonesia, the
impasse cannot be broken due to the paralysis both parties find
themselves in.
Indonesia’s Peace Overtures

Following the collapse of Suharto’s New Order and the onset of
democratic Indonesia, Jakarta has made peace with other separatists,
be it in East Timor (through a referendum leading to independence) or
with Aceh (leading to greater autonomy and local rule). In the same
vein, Jakarta has peddled what is referred to as Autonomi Khusus or
Special Autonomy in 2001, to meet half way Papuan grievances and
demands, and rejected a referendum a la East Timor as was demanded by
Papuan activists, fearing a break up Indonesia. While Papuans have
gained much in terms of Special Autonomy funds (5 trillion Indonesia
Rupiahs to date), the territory remains backward as the bulk of the
money is used for administration and pilfered through corruption. At
the same time, despite agreeing to a Special Autonomy status for
Papua, Jakarta has continuously undermined it. First, without
consulting the local administrative bodies, as was provided for in the
Special Autonomy arrangements, Jakarta divided Papua into three
administrative provinces even though later the Constitutional Court
deemed this illegal but two provinces remain in operation today.
Second, despite agreeing to permit Papuans to display their cultural
attributes, Jakarta reneged on this, arguing that it was promoting
separatism, especially with regard to the display of the Morning Star
and singing of Hai Tanahku Papua. In short, Papuans continue to view
Jakarta in bad faith and this is the main reason why the Cendrawasih
(Bird of Paradise) symbolising Papua, continues to fear the Garuda,
symbolising Indonesia.
Papuans Remain Unsatisfied and Suspicious

While some Papuan elites accepted the Special Autonomy proposal,
eventually, most in Papua were unhappy as hardliners in Jakarta
believed that too much had already been given to the Papuans and that
if no ‘roll-back’ takes place it will only be a matter of time before
Papuan independence becomes a reality. Also, most Papuans do not see
any major improvement in their livelihood, especially the violence
against them by the military, police and intelligence apparatus.
Instead, many Papuans would prefer to internationalise their plight
and seek a third party to settle the issue as they do not trust the
Jakarta elites and Indonesians in general. Jakarta, instead, realising
that the Papuans are being lost, has tried to launch various ‘peace
talks’, organised by the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Legal and
Security Affairs, the Indonesian Intelligence Agency, Home Affairs and
even Indonesian Resilience Agency (linked to the Defence Ministry) but
with no success. Incumbent President Bambang Yudhoyono has tasked the
Indonesian Institute of Sciences to draw up a ‘road map’ for Papua’s
future, but again little progress has been made. All these Indonesian
measures are aimed at circumventing internationalization of the Papuan
issue, which most Papuan elites demand but which Jakarta has been
unwilling to agree even though with regard to the Aceh settlement, a
third party, with the support of the Norwegian Government, succeeded
in making a breakthrough. Papuans are hoping for a similar opportunity
so as to ensure that the agreement reached between Jakarta and
themselves will be honoured.

In the meantime, as the deadlock continues, Papua continues to burn.
Violence by the security apparatus against Papuans continues to be
reported, with the military and police hunting the new separatist
leader, Goliat Tabuni, who succeeded Kelly Kwalik, who was shot dead
in December 2009 by security forces. With little or no hope of
progress, with the abuses and violence continuing, the traditional
separatist leaders are also losing their grip over their followers,
with many of these leaders accused of being covert operatives for
Jakarta. Amidst the continuing violence, Jakarta is rumoured to be
thinking of creating additional provinces in the territory, in a
traditional game of divide and rule, to weaken Papuan nationalism and
quest for independence. This has, instead, led to the rise of new
radical and hard-line younger leaders who are prepared to raise the
stakes through greater violence, to make Jakarta pay more dearly, and
more importantly bring the fight to Jakarta so that Indonesians and
the world community will pay greater attention to their plight. In
short, the HAMAS of Papua seems to be surfacing and if Jakarta
continues to neglect Papuans’ demands, the struggle is likely to
worsen, at great cost of life to both Papuans and Indonesians as a
whole, and where the international community, with stakes in Papua and
Indonesia, will also be affected. Not only will Indonesia’s democracy
but more importantly the very idea of Indonesia as a unitary state
will probably be under stress and test.

1. For deeper insights into the Papuan conundrum see Bilveer Singh,
Papua: Geopolitics and the Quest for Nationhood (New Brunswick, USA:
Transaction Press, 2008).

SMH: Papuans' Future an Open Question After Failure of Autonomy


The Sydney Morning Herald
September 4, 2010

Papuans’ Future an Open Question After Failure of Autonomy

by Tom Allard

JAKARTA: A broad consensus is emerging in Indonesia that special
autonomy for the country’s fractious provinces of Papua and West
Papua has failed miserably.

> From military advisers to the President, Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, to respected think tanks and the indigenous
population of the resource-rich region, there is near unanimity
that the policy introduced almost 10 years ago to placate
separatist sentiment has resulted in only deeper discontent.
However, there is little agreement on who, and what, is to
blame, or how to repair the situation.

As part of a dialogue to address simmering discontent in the
region, the Indonesian government would have to acknowledge and
apologise for the manipulated vote in 1969 that led to its
inclusion in the republic, said the Jakarta-based analyst for
the International Crisis Group, Sidney Jones, the author of two
recent reports on the provinces.

Ms Jones warned that ”increased radicalisation is likely” if
reconciliation efforts are not pursued by Dr Yudhoyono.

Jakarta’s failure to address human-rights abuses in Papua and
West Papua, the two Indonesian provinces that make up the
western half of the island of New Guinea, the continuing heavy
presence of security forces, an influx of migrants, rampant
corruption and persistent poverty are all undermining the
”special autonomy” offered to the region almost a decade ago.

Violence has worsened in the past two years, and the Papuan
People’s Council, the body set up under special autonomy to
represent indigenous values, decided to symbolically ”hand
back” special autonomy to the provincial parliament as part of
a wave of mass rallies that took place in June and July.

Ms Jones said Dr Yudhoyono must begin talks as a matter of
urgency, starting discussions informally to avoid ”posturing on
both sides” before engaging in a public reconciliation. New
governing arrangements must then follow for the region, which
remains the major source of separatist agitation across the
sprawling multi-ethnic nation.

”They are going to have to address the Act of Free Choice and
acknowledge that there was a manipulated process,” Ms Jones
said. ”An apology and an acknowledgement about it is needed to
get over the hump.”

The region, with its Melanesian indigenous population, was
initially excluded from the fledgling Indonesian state during
negotiations with the former Dutch colonial government,
remaining under the control of the Netherlands until the 1960s.

Western powers ceded to Jakarta’s long-standing demands for the
region’s inclusion in the republic, but only after a United
Nations sponsored vote of Papuans. Rather than a broad
referendum, a hand-picked group of just over 1000 Papuans voted
unanimously in the 1969 plebiscite to join Indonesia. The vote
was widely derided as farcical and unrepresentative, and it
remains a potent source of rancour among Papuans and their most
powerful weapon in challenging the legitimacy of Jakarta’s rule.

While Ms Jones does not advocate a new referendum on Papuan
independence, or view it as likely, it remains a central demand
of a coalition of Papuan groups and the Papuan People’s Council,
or Majelis Rakyat Papua, a body with authority to speak for the
Melanesian population under the special autonomy arrangements.

Jakarta has declined to even respond to the demands. Even so, it
may well be a disappointing exercise for independence advocates
as the two provinces’ population is now reckoned to be split
evenly between the indigenous people and migrants from elsewhere
in Indonesia.

Dr Yudhoyono, in his only concession to the unrest, agreed to
begin an ”audit” of the region’s special autonomy next year.

Jakarta is dissatisfied with special autonomy because the Papuan
provinces get more money from the central government than any
other – $1 billion a year, or about 10 times more than provinces
in Java – but have yet to see much economic progress.

A leading Papuan activist in the main city of Jayapura,
Frederika Korain, said the special autonomy funds were going to
non-Melanesian Papuans who dominate the economy.

”In some areas, all the shops belong to non-Papuans,” she said.

Ms Korain said any reconciliation would have to be preceded by
the end to abuses by Indonesian security forces, curbing the
growth of pro-Jakarta militias and a sincere effort to give
Papuans back their ”dignity”.

She flagged a continuing campaign of mass mobilisation by
indigenous Papuans. While most are determined to pursue
non-violent means to achieve their ends, there is a small but
growing element who support taking armed action.