Tag Archives: military propaganda

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

Papuan human rights activist calls on Komnas HAM chairman to resign

Bintang Papua
5 December 2012
Jayapura: The  pro-independence human rights activist. Sebby Sambom, in a statement published in Bintang Papua, called on the chairman of Komnas HAM, the National Human Rights Commission, Oto Nur Abdullah to resignThis came in response to a statement by Nur Abdullah which, according to Sebby Sambom, appeared to legitimise military operations in Papua.

‘In response to the comment by the chairman of the Komnas HAM, as published  in the mass media on 28 November with regard to military sweepings in the district of Lanny Jaya , we pro-independence activists call on the chairman of Komnas HAM to resign.’

Sambom said that the statement appeared to legitimise the military operations being waged by  the Indonesian military, either directly or indirectly, against the indigenous Papuan people in Pitriver and the highlands region of central Papua.

According to Sebby Sambom and his colleagues, the statement made by the Komnas HAM chairman was dangerous and would  be detrimental to the indigenous people in Papua.

This is why, he said, we make the following demand. ‘The chairman of Komnas HAM should clarify the statement he made  that the events in Lanny Jaya cannot be described as human rights violations.’

He said that the statement fails to take account of international humanitarian law.

He went on to say that  if the chairman of Komnas HAM fails to resign, Komnas HAM should issue an official statement calling on TNI/Polri, the Indonesian army and police, to end their military activities and withdraw from the highlands in central Papua.

‘It is a great pity that the chairman of Komnas HAM fails to understand that  there are regulations regarding the waging of war and he fails to appreciate that his statement could be used as a ‘weapon’ by the security forces. We greatly regret this,’  said Sambom

[Translated by TAPOL]

The Coverage of Gunfire in Nabire is Public Deception

Tabloid Jubi

September 25, 2012

by Victor Mambor

Jayapura, (25/9) The coverage about gunfire between police and armed civilian groups in Urumusu, Nabire Regency on Monday (24/9) that was reported by national and local media, has been described as ‘public deception’ by human rights activists in Nabire. A resident called Kristian Belau/Zonggona, named by police, was shot in the gunfire.

This allegation of public deception was asserted by the Nabire Kingmi Klasis Church Bureau of Justice and Peace in a chronological report of events received by tabloidjubi.com , on Tuesday (25/9). The Bureau of Justice and Peace of the Nabire Kingmi Klasis Church, which undertook an investigation into this incident says that this was actually a case of police shooting the victim, Kristian Belau/Zonggonau, because of road-blocking elated activity on the Interior Trans-Nabire road, not because of gunfire between police and armed civilian groups.

From the chronolgy collected by the Bureau of Justice and Peace, on Tuesday 25 September 2012, at approximately 6:00am CDT, a group of Moni Youth were road-blocking on the roadside of the Interior Trans-Nabire Road next to the Wadio Atas Elementary School, Gerbang Sadu Villiage, in the West Nabire District of Nabire Regency. Unfortunately, when these young people stopped an Inova type car that was heading inbound and requested money from the passengers, it turned out there was a police officer in the car. The police officer then fired into the air three times, which made all the Moni youth run to safe themselves. But three other Moni youth used a motor bike to travel to the rubbish dump in Wadio Atas and continued their road-blocking actions. The police officer that fired the shots directly reported to Nabire Police District Command (Polres) that there were people carrying out road-blocking in Wadio Atas.

Kristian Belau lying down awaiting the operation to remove the bullet

After morning assembly, police from Nabire District Command took one track heading towards Wadio Atas and checked a spot that is often blocked. Upon arriving at the rubbish dump in Wadio Atas, Gerbang Sadu Villiage, Nabire West District, police met with the three Moni Youth. When the police attempted to arrest the three, two escaped. However, one of them, Kristian Belau/Zonggonau, instead advanced towards police. At the time, Kristian Belau/Zonggonau is suspected of being drunk because all night he was drinking heavily. When he advanced towards the police officers, he was shot in the right thigh. Kristian was then lifted to the police patrol car to be taken to the Siriwini Hospital Emergency Room, Nabire. Currently, the victim is in custody at Nabire Police District Command for questioning. According to several citizens in around Gerbang Sadu villiage, road-blocking on the Interior Trans-Nabire Road happens every night. It has been occurring for quite a while. Although police have repeatedly arrested road-blockers, there still are those who road-block. Usually every vehicle that travels inbound is billed according to the type of vehicle. Taxis are billed RP 50,000, private vehicles are billed RP 50,000 and trucks are billed RP 100,000. This issue makes the police angry, to the point that they carried out the shooting of Kristian Belau/Zonggonau.

In the reporting that followed, police said they could not avoid exchanging fire with armed civilian groups in the mentioned location. ‘Because a member was shot, in the end returning fire could not be avoided, one person of the armed group was named Kristian Belau/Zonggonau was shot in his left thigh. Other members of the armed group successfully escaped into the forest whist continually firing at police with revolvers and SS1 type guns’, explained Lieutenant Colonel Gede Sumerta to tabloidjubi.com (25/9),

Based on the investigation carried out, given to tabliodjubi.com the Nabire Kingmi Klasis Church Bureau of Justice and Peace disputes the police explanation. According to them, statements of gunfire between police and armed civilian groups that use revolver and SSQ type weapons is information that has been distributed by irresponsible parties and constitutes public deception. ‘Gunfire between police and armed civilian groups that use revolver and SSQ type weapons is an announcement that is irresponsible and public deception’, said Yones Douw, an activist from Nabire Kingmi Klasis Church Bureau of Justice and Peace to tabloidjubi.com (25/9).

‘Because the Urumusu location is far from the Interior Trans-Nabire road, entering Topo District, Nabire West Regency, a distance from the incident of approximately 45 kilometres. This morning, our human rights activists met with Kristian’s elder sibling and the Moni community in Wadio Atas. They said their children (the three youths who were road-blocking) do not own weapons. If they get drunk and road-block, it’s possible’, continued Yones Douw. (Jubli/Victor Mambor).

a policeman with his weapon guards Kristian Belau

Kristian Belau awaiting operation

right thigh hit by bullet