(please note: this article was published just before the sad news of Chief Hanebora’s untimely and sudden death was received and confirmed)
Yerisiam Tribal Chief Simon Petrus Hanebora, left – Jubi
Jayapura, Jubi – Yerisiam Tribal Chief Simon Petrus Hanebora said he was expecting the attention from Papuan NGOs for investigating and doing advocacy on the palm oil plantation issue at Sima and Wami villages of Yaur Sub-district in Nabire Regency, Papua.
“We have tried to terminate the activity of PT. Nabire Baru through an official letter, but the company is still conducting its operation and get support from the Police Mobile Guard officers,” Hanebora said through email to Jubi on Wednesday (11/2/2015).
He further said on behalf of Yerisiam Tribe, he has sent letter to the Nabire Legislative Council and local government asking them to follow up their aspiration to shut down the company. However, both parliament and local government have not given their answer until now.
“Why do government and law enforcement keep silence about Yerisiam’s trouble? Though an intimidation, human rights violation and genocide towards Yerisiam tribe are on going. If we fought them back, they would accuse us as separatist, rebel and so on. What is truly happening?” said Hanebora.
For that reason, he expected both environmental and humanitarian NGOs could take part in the palm oil plantation issue in Nabire, in particular to conduct investigation and advocacy.
Meanwhile, as published in surapapua.com, as land tenure right owners whose land used palm oil plantation by PT. Nabire Baru, some Yerisiam tribal residents always been terrorized and threatened by police officers by accusing them involving with the Papua Free Movement (OPM) although it never existed.
“So we can make conclusion that those officers only made an argument to justify their acts to arrest and intimidate to customary landowners,” a coalition member of Nabire palm oil company’s victims, Charles Tawaru told suarapapua.com on Tuesday afternoon (3/2/2015).
“People protested the company for not being concerned towards their rights, including hire the police officers to intimidate and arrest them. There’s really no OPM headquarter here,” Tawaru said. (Arnold Belau/rom)
Kampung Yowid, like other villages in Tubang and Ilwayab districts, has taken a determined and united stance against plantation companies, which have recently been moving in to the area. But now indigenous leaders in Kampung Yowid have been intimidated into signing a document from PT Mayora, one of Indonesia’s leading food brands, which is trying to take over their land for a sugar cane plantation. The people were accused of being OPM separatists by the police mobile brigade members the company employs as guards, who also accused them of storing weapons in their indigenous meeting house (adat house). Knowing that villagers were scared and thinking they might have to run to the forest, some community leaders felt they had no option but to sign the document. The contents of the document are unknown – villagers were never given a copy. Now, as before, the community states its clear opposition to Mayora’s plantation plan.
Merauke, like the rest of West Papua, is a militarized zone bearing the scars of fifty years of conflict. Now, as plantation companies continue to push their way in, it is not the first time that companies have been accused of using the ‘separatist’ stigma as a way to threaten indigenous people to give up their ancestral land. The people are quite reasonably afraid – they know that elsewhere security forces have unleashed violent repression countless times after labelling people as separatists.
This kind of link between military might and corporate ambition also has a clear parallel in Suharto’s New Order regime: plantation companies seized huge swathes of peasant farmers’ land in Sumatra in the 1970s and 1980s, threatening to kill people as communists if they resisted. Many communities are still trying to reclaim this land through land occupations and other forms of resistance.
The elders of Kampung Yowid who were forced to sign have now testified on video of how they were the victims of Mayora’s manipulation. Below, the Woyu Maklew sub-ethnic group Intellectual Forum and JPIC-MSC have also provided further background information on what happened.
Merauke, Friday (2 August 2013), the Woyu Maklew Sub-ethnic groupIntellectual Forum wishes to make clear that PT Mayora has violated the rights of the Marind Woyu Maklew indigenous people. The traditional (adat) chief and village head were forced to sign a document which PT Mayora presented to them, after the village was threatened with the stigma of being considered OPM members. A few villagers which supported the company were used to terrorise the others into accepting PT Mayora’s prescence in Yowid, Dokib, Wamal, Bibikem, Woboyu, Wanam and Dodalimvillages.
According to Ambrosius Laku Kaize, Kampung Yowid’s adat chief, he was forced to sign after pressure from PT Mayora’s staff. “I was forced to sign, because the villagers of Kampung Yowid had been accused of being OPM members”, he said. Mr Kaize went on to explain how he, theadministrative village head and the head of the Geb-Zami clan had all been similarly intimidated after PT Mayora made clear that the people of Kampung Yowid would be considered OPM if they didn’t sign the company’s letter.
The Woyu Maklew Sub-ethnic group Intellectual Forum’s monitoring hasrevealed that Marind people in the affected villages ( Yowid, Dokib, Wamal, Dodalim, Woboyu, Bibikem, Wanam and Uliuli) have not receivedreliable and truthful information about any policy for investment on their ancestral lands in general, and about PT Mayora’s presence in particular. This is an indication that the investment process is already violating the Marind indigenous people’s right to receive informationwithout compulsion and before investment activities commence. Aside from that, Marind people from the Woyu Maklew sub-ethnic group have already made clear that they oppose all investment on their ancestral land,because they do not have the skills required to get work with companies.
PT Mayora has already brought insecurity into the lives of local people,by going around villages in the area escorted by fully-armed Brimob from Merauke Police Station, and now by inciting individuals from the villages, the company has also created an unsafe situation by sowing fear. Further Background Information
On 21st May 2013, PT Mayora and PT Astra’s management met with Marind customary landowners in the Swiss-Bel Hotel on Jalan Raya Mandala in Merauke city. In this meeting, the people, through the Woyu Maklew Sub-ethnic group Intellectual Forum, expressed their opposition to the two companies. The reasons for this can be read in the forum’s letter here: https://awasmifee.potager.org/?p=352
Villagers from Woboyu, Bibikem, Dadalim, Yowid, Wambi, Wanam, Wamal and Dokib villages have all made their opinion clear. In March and April this year each village has erected markers as a way to use customary law to prohibit the companies’ presence, also putting up signs with messages like “Oppose the companies, because we don’t have much land, and because we want to defend the Marind culture and our children and grandchildren’s future”.
While most of the people have maintained their strong stance against Mayora and Astra, two villagers from Yowid who had been won over by the company, together with one of PT Mayora’s Brimob guards and the company’s staff, got hold of a leaflet about human rights in Papua. The leaflet had been put together by the Merauke branch of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) and was a summary of news from the mass media about the human rights situation. The deputy adat chief admitted that it was him who had distributed the leaflet so that people could read about the human rights situation. After all, they have the right to know.
However he was shocked to see how PT Mayora reacted towards the community after seeing this leaflet. As the adat chief explains in the video, PT Mayora started claiming that villagers were OPM separatists. The company also reportedly claimed that the adat house was used for storing weapons or OPM equipment.
During their monitoring from the last part of July to 4th August, JPIC MSC Indonesia and the Woyu Maklew Sub-ethnic group Intellectual Forum found that the people of Yowid had been severely frightened as a result of Mayora’s accusations that they were OPM separatists. There was a plan for the women and children to seek refuge in the forest. On 27th July, a meeting was held in the adat house (the local name is Sawiya) to discuss the fear they were living under. In that meeting village leaders told of how they had been forced to sign the document. Others didn’t sign, but their signatures were forged by the pro-Mayora villagers.
They never received a copy of the document they signed, and this made the community even more nervous. They were concerned that word would spread amongst neighbouring villages that they had given away their land to the company. All villages in the area had agreed some time ago that no-one should sell their land, and anyone who betrayed that agreement would be sure to face harsh repercussions.
On 27th July 2013, villagers wrote a letter to the Merauke Regency leader, Papuan Provincial Investment Board and Indonesian National Land Agency explaining that Kampung Yowid continues to oppose PT Mayora.
-Mayora’s brands include Kopiko coffee and sweets, Energen cerealdrinks, Torabika coffee, Bengbeng chocolate wafers and Slai O’lai biscuits. They are mostly sold in Indonesia, but selected lines are exported to around 50 countries worldwide.
Following the armed skirmishes between the Indonesian army and police with a group thought to be the TPN/OPM led by John Magay Yogi, and a number of mysterious shooting incidents, the towns of Enarotali and Madi in Paniai district are full of military personnel who have arrived from outside Paniai. Although the situation was thought to have improved, the presence of military personnel has spread anxiety among the population.
The reason for the increased deployment of troops to Paniai may be to hunt down some weapons that were seized by unidentified persons from the police station in Komopa, sub-district of Agadide on 16 August. Or is it because Paniai is regarded as an area of conflict which needs extra action on the security front?
Whatever the reason, the local people along with local government officials long for a peaceful Paniai and call for a halt to the dispatch of more military troops. The local people have called on the local military chief, the military commander of XVII/Cenderawasih military command as well as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to pull back these troops from the area.
A local community leader said: ‘Paniai is calm but many troops and police have been sent here. Is it because there is a war?’
According to Yafeth Y Kayame, head of the Suku Mee people, the additional deployment of many troops to Paniai has undermined the call for peace that was made last Saturday in Enarotali.. Local people have become more frightened than ever.
People are asking ‘Why have they come to Paniai? Enarotali and Paniai are not areas of conflict so the authorities must stop sending troops here.’ They have been arriiving here over the past four days, so who do they want to fight with? Or do they want to kill all of us here?’
The local administration should not keep silent but should take steps to safeguard security for the population. If it is only to re-capture two firearms, then the troops already here would surely be enough, without bringing in more troops, they say.
Many people think that the presence in the area of TPN/OPM forces in Eduda is being used as a justification to bring troops here from Jayapura and Nabire. According to some sources, in addition to infantry brigade 753/Arga Vira Tama Nabire, a Brimob company is also being deployed to Paniai.
Although this has been denied by Major-General Erfi Triassunu, the military commander of XVII/Cenderawasih military command, the fact is that these ‘new’ troops can be seen almost every day driving along the roads in convoys.
Meanwhile, anxiety has continued to spread among the local people and many have left their homes with a new exodus starting on Tuesday.
EXCLUSIVE: A leaked letter from an Army General reveals Indonesia’s attempts to disband a West Papuan church with threats of “assertive action”
From the outside looking in, the latest church conflict in West Papua might look like just another example of factional Protestant politics. A little sordid perhaps, but irrelevant to all but the parties involved.
Dig a little deeper, however, and one finds something far more disturbing.
A leaked letter from the head of the Indonesian Army in Papua obtained by New Matilda reveals that far from being an internal church matter, the conflict between Kingmi Indonesia, a Protestant church that has parishes across Indonesia, and the breakaway Kingmi Papua Church, goes to the heart of the Indonesian government’s attempt to repress movements for cultural pride and autonomy in the country’s restive Pacific periphery.
In a nutshell, the conflict turns on whether Kingmi Papua has the right to separate from Kingmi Indonesia and set up an autonomous synod, reverting to an arrangement that existed prior to 1982.
The question is this: why has the Indonesian Army become involved? Major-General Erfi Triassunu has waded into a conflict that he himself acknowledges is an internal church matter. In the letter (File Number: R/773/IV/2011) addressed to the Governor of Papua, Barnebus Suebu, dated 30 April 2011 and marked “secret”, Triassunu “respectfully requests” the Governor to arrange a meeting between Kingmi Indonesia and Kingmi Papua. The General also offers himself as a mediator.
The letter continues: “if the conflict cannot be resolved through discussion then assertive action must be taken”.
Let me translate “assertive action”. In East Timor when the Indonesian Army took “assertive action” against the Church, they murdered church workers, massacred parishioners, raped women and burnt churches to the ground. In West Papua too the Indonesian Army has a history of killing pastors from the Kingmi Papua Church, as well as other churches. This dates back to 1 May 1963 when the Indonesian government took administrative control of the territory and has continued up to the present.
Last October a video filmed on soldiers’ mobiles phones and circulated widely on the internet, showed several soldiers from Kostrad, the Indonesian Army’s Strategic Command — Triassunu’s own division — torturing a Papuan church worker by burning his genitals with a stick.
In the letter, Triassunu, who previously served in Aceh, makes a number of accusations. He accuses Kingmi Papua of trying to access as much money as they can from the government’s Special Autonomy programme in order to create new churches. However, the real purpose of building a network of churches, Triassunu insists, is “to strengthen Papuan civil society aspirations for freedom”. He then argues that the Kingmi Papua Church’s desire to be independent of the Indonesian Church is “just an excuse” for “the church to become a political vehicle” that supports Papuan independence.
Triassunu then goes on to make a number of recommendations. He specifically says that Kingmi Papua pastors should stick to Biblical “dogma” and not stray into politics. The General is on solid ground here, following in the footsteps of numerous dictators from Marcos to Pinochet, all notorious for their attempts to stifle meddlesome priests. Triassunu specifically names Reverends Benny Giay (the current moderator of the Kingmi Papua Church), Seblum Karubaba (the former moderator) and Noakh Nawipa (the Rector of the Pos 7 Theological College) as malcontents, mentioning several seminars organised by the trio where “Papua Merdeka” (freedom) was discussed.
All this has echoes of Suharto who systematically depoliticised (read: violently repressed and disbanded) all independent organisations, including religious ones, for fear they could become bases for organised opposition against the regime. Indonesian democrats may have overthrown Suharto but West Papua is not part of a new democratic Indonesia. What is deeply concerning is that in the Papuan context the label “separatist” is regularly applied to Papuan leaders as a pretext for justifying extra-judicial action by security forces.
This is where the plot thickens.
According to the letter, the General decided to become involved in the Kingmi conflict after a Kingmi Indonesia pastor, Reverend Karel Maniani, personally asked the Army to protect his parishioners. But Reverend Maniani himself was previously a member of “Group Nine” of the Papuan Freedom Movement (or OPM). In the 1980s Maniani was jailed for four years in the notorious Kalisosok Prison. What happened to Maniani on the journey from freedom fighter to Army petitioner?
To make things stranger, the conservative US-based evangelical Christian Missionary Association backs Maniani and Kingmi Indonesia against Kingmi Papua. At stake is not only valuable church property and access to Special Autonomy funds, it is also over influence of a broad Papua base. Kingmi Papua has half a million members. Virtually all of them are indigenous Papuans from the fractious Highlands, around a third of the entire Papuan population.
When I asked Benny Giay about all this his reply was revealing. For years he said he was part of a church that was more concerned with “saving souls” than the day-to-day oppression of the Papuans. “The Kingmi church has been complicit with the suffering of the Papuans. We need to confess our sins and follow the narrow path of Jesus. This Gospel is very clear; we must stand with the oppressed and work to alleviate their suffering. I hope we can cast off our fear and stay firm to this path.”
Giay has a vision for an independent Papuan church; a uniquely Papuan church that makes space for Papuans to begin to articulate their own theology, one that sees God present in Papuan history and culture. Giay and his colleagues are slowly building up a church that commits itself to solidarity with the poor and oppressed; one that is led by the Papuans themselves. That may not sound much to a reader unfamiliar with Papuan politics, but in West Papua it is a big deal.
Just ask the General.
SCAN OF ORIGINAL LETTER SIGNED BY MAJ-GEN ERFI TRIASSUNU
Bintang Papua, 17 June 2011Human rights defenders in Papua very worried
Acts of violence and terror that have been perpetrated against human rights defenders as well as against journalists have led to a sense of deep concern among human rights NGOs and religious organisations which are members of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in the Land of Papua
The following NGOs held a press conference in Jayapura on Friday 17 June, to convey their problems:
KomnasHAM- Papua, the Synod of the Kingmi Church in Papua, the Synod of the Baptist Church in Papua, Foker NGO (NGO Working Group) Papua, Kontras Papua, LBH – Legal Aid Institute in Papua, and BUK, United for Truth.
Foremost among the agencies criticised was the TNI, the Indonesian army whose members were involved in a number of acts of violence. They drew attention in particulate to five incidents that had occurred during the past five months in which members of the TNI were involved:
‘Up to June this year, there have been at least five incidents which reflect the arrogance and random actions perpetrated by members of the TNI,’ said Olga Hamadi, the co-ordinator of Kontras Papua. Others present at the press conference included the Rev. Benny Giay, chairman of the Synod of the Kingmi Church in the Land of Papua, Mathius Murib, representative of Komnas HAM-Papua, Eliezer M, LBH-Papua, Julian Howay of the ALDP, and a number of human rights activists.
They said that the much-vaunted reforms within the TNI were rarely reflected in the activities of members of the TNI on the ground. ‘Is this what the commander of the TNI was praising so profusely during his recent visit to Papua,’ wondered Rev Giay.
Mathius Murib said that the incident that occurred in Puncak Jaya a few months ago had drawn a great deal of public attention, nationally as well as internationally. [This refers to the acts of torture against Papuans that were circulated by video.]
‘All their talk about Love and Peace is far from been applied by members of the security forces on the ground. Isn’t it time for them to change their tune?’
They said that the continued occurrence of acts of violence and intimidation by members of the TNI is a clear indication that no actions have been taken against members of the TNI who have violated the law.
‘We are concerned about the impact this is having on the reputation of the Indonesian state and wonder what is being done to protect the rights of human rights defenders,’ said Olga Hamadi.
She said that in cases where members of the TNI had been involved in acts of violence, all that had happened was that they had been moved sideways. ‘Or, in those instances where they had been taken to court, they had appeared before a military tribunal and the verdicts were often unclear or had had little if any effect.,’ said Peneas Lokbere, co-ordinator of BUK.
The Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in the Land of Papua therefore issued the following statement:
1. Protection is needed for human rights defenders in Papua in carrying out their humanitarian activities throughout the Land of Papua. Such protection can be provided by the introduction of a special law, while at the same time setting up an independent commission at state level for the purpose of monitoring and advocacy as well as taking sanctions against those individuals who commit violence against human rights defenders.
2. As a short-term measure, we regard it as important to set up a special bureau within Komnas HAM to focus on the protection of human rights defenders.
3. In view the many acts of intimidation and violence perpetrated by members of the armed forces, we urge the military commander of Cenderawasih XVII military command to take firm measures in the law courts and administration against all violations perpetrated by members of the TNI on the ground.
4. To provide moral guidance to all officers of the armed forces as well as disseminate an understanding of human rights so as to ensure that acts of violence perpetrated by members of the armed forces are not committed against civil society or against human rights defenders in the Land of Papua.