Tag Archives: National Committee for West Papua

Women And The Fight For Peace And Freedom In West Papua

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Published in Partnership between West Papua Media and AWID

Source: AWID

August 9, 2013

Women and the Fight for Peace and Freedom in West Papua

FRIDAY FILE: After 42 years of Indonesian rule, women in West Papua continue to fight for their freedom and peace.

By Rochelle Jones

West Papua – officially under Indonesian rule since 1963 – is located in the Western half of the island of New Guinea – 250km north of Australia. In 2012, West Papua Media conducted interviews with four West Papuan women who are active in the nonviolent movement for freedom. Here, AWID gives some background, and excerpts from the interviews. 

Act of No Choice

The Australian-based Free West Papua describes how during the 1950s, West Papua was under Dutch Colonial rule, but by 1961 were moving towards independence with their own flag, the ‘Morning Star’, and Papuan government officials. In the early sixties, however, “Conflict erupted over West Papua between The Netherlands and Indonesia, and a United Nations agreement gave control of the colony to Indonesia for six years. This was to be followed by a referendum. These six years of Indonesian control saw well-documented cases of violence and abuse by the military. Then in 1969, Indonesia conducted a sham referendum called the Act of Free Choice. Only 1025 Papuans, representing a population of one million, were picked to vote. Under severe duress, including threats from senior ranking military officials to cut their tongues out, they voted to remain part of Indonesia. Despite a critical report by a UN official who was present, citing serious violations, the UN shamefully sanctioned the vote and West Papua officially became a part of Indonesia. Papuans call this referendum the ‘Act of No Choice’”

With a track record of denying foreign journalists access to West Papua (or arresting and deporting them) – the Indonesian government continues its stronghold over this resource-rich region. A stronghold held together largely by the presence of the Indonesian military¾which are known for their violence enacted with impunity, but also by the silence of the international community. Free West Papua estimates that “since 1962, 100,000 people have been killed or disappeared by the brutal military regime. Thousands have been raped and tortured and entire villages, especially in the highlands, have been destroyed.” In May this year, West Papua Media published one disturbing report of recent killings and rapes, perpetrated by the Indonesian military.

Tragically, reports such as these are part of every-day life for West Papuans, who are of Melanesian descent and culturally different from Indonesians. Resistance to Indonesia’s occupation has existed from the beginning – but the military has repeatedly responded with violence and intimidation. Whilst more information is getting out about West Papua and international concern grows over the human rights situation, this can be marred by politics and economics, with governments hesitant to upset Indonesia.  In recent years a new independence organisation, the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) has held “huge independence rallies… across West Papua and the West Papuan’s voice is united more than ever.”

Women in the struggle

Asked why they joined the nonviolent movement, Fanny Kogoya, Rini Tabuni, Heni Lani and Ice Murib (1), the women interviewed by West Papua Media, each recount experiences of injustice, disrespect and the violence of growing up in a land without freedom. Murib highlights the simplicity of their struggle: “We want to be free. We want you to help us be free. Indonesia doesn’t care about us as people. So the only thing that we want is to be free…to live our own life in our own land.”

Kogoya says: “As a child I often saw people beaten-up by the police, without any reason at all… As a student I started to compare government policies with what was actually happening… On the one hand you had the constitution, which talked about freedom and the Pancasila, which talked about social justice, but in reality there was very little political space for us Papuans. When I was living in Java I could compare the health and education system with what we had in West Papua and it was just so different…There is very little political difference for Papuans before or after [the regime of] Suharto… Papua has yet to experience a real democratic space. These kinds of things make me really emotional. I realized I had to resist. I can’t be silent.”

Tabuni recalls: “my father was one of the victims of 1977. Indonesian soldiers cut open his chest with knives. They took out the contents of his stomach and they removed his heart. My grandfather saw this happening with his own eyes. As the soldiers were cutting open my father’s chest they were saying, “Where is your God now? Who is here to save you?” Tabuni explains how freedom activist Benny Wenda, now living in exile in the UK, inspired her after her family lived in Jayapura with Wenda’s people: “In 2000 Benny started to become more active… [and was granted] refugee status in England. We watched… how he continued to struggle. That inspired those of us who lived inside Papua to continue to struggle… It was in this context that the KNPB entered. My friends and I said let’s stay with this organization, let’s sit down with them and see what we can do together.”

After witnessing countless events as a young girl, like the arrest of her father, Lani recounts her political awakening as a student when she was told about the history of West Papua’s struggle: “Before [this] it was like I was sitting in this small dark room with little rays of light coming through. These rays of light were like my father getting arrested and Benny Wenda getting arrested. When I got my education it was like the door of this room was flung open… I went outside for the first time and saw what was really happening. The day on the beach in Hamadi was the first time I saw the Morning Star flag. I grabbed it and held it. Finally, I realized, I’m not an Indonesian, I’m a Papuan!”

However, there is a struggle within the movement. Kogoya describes it as a “double challenge” that women face: “We struggle against Indonesia but we also struggle against patriarchy in the movement. See we have two enemies: the way women are treated within the movement and the evil and injustice of the state. We are definitely fighting against some of the men within the movement who think we aren’t capable.” To that, however, Lani says “Women are in leadership positions and telling men what to do, so we’re already there… playing positions of leadership in the movement.”

Ongoing nonviolent resistance

Living with such violence and oppression, the women still agree that nonviolent resistance is the way forward, and yet they also admit to thinking about taking up arms. One of the obvious barriers to taking up an armed struggle is the sheer strength of the Indonesian military. Kogoya says “Even though we’re struggling nonviolently the Indonesian state continues to respond violently. They arrest people, beat people, kill people. Often my activist friends say, “What’s the point? If we struggle nonviolently they’re going to beat us, arrest us … if we struggle violently they’ll do the same things. Often people join the armed struggle because… they’ve had these traumatic experiences and… it’s an emotional reaction. Of course in our culture we also have a history of fighting back… of tribal warfare. We are a courageous people. So with these three things – our memories of suffering, our history and culture, and our courage – armed struggle is a real option for us….But Papuans are also a very practical people. We know civil resistance can also work. So my dream is to learn more about civil resistance.”

Tabuni understands why people would want to respond with violence, however, she says: “If I struggle through violence I am going to experience a number of problems. I’m going to lose a lot of my rights. I’m going to lose my best friends. And people are going to… steal my land and kill me… But now I see that there’s an opportunity to resist through nonviolent struggle. People at the grassroots need to know that nonviolent action can be really successful… We can learn from the examples of other countries.”

How can the international community help?

To be an independent nation is the goal for West Papua¾freedom from Indonesian rule and its associated violence. But this is also a struggle for culture and for the environment. Lani says since she joined the struggle “my friends have been arrested, some have died in jail, some have fled to Papua New Guinea. It’s like we are migrants in our own land. So many people from Java, from Sulawesi, from Sumatra have come to our land.” Large scale migration of Indonesians into West Papua has the potential to unthread the very fabric of their culture and existence – and the mining and deforestation of pristine forests threatens to destroy the environment as well.

To achieve freedom these women stress the need for as many people as possible to stand in solidarity. Kogoya says they need the support of environmental groups around the world to join the struggle, adding “We need institutional support. And we want people to campaign about Papua to stop the violence… We really need technical assistance with media. We also need to influence other countries, particularly the U.S.”. Lani’s message is “for all the Papuan people to be involved in the civil resistance struggle. We have to work together.” She adds “Tell your friends in Australia and the U.S., ‘Stop sending military weapons to Indonesia. Stop.’ Because whenever we do things we face the military with those arms, and those arms are sent by your countries. The military are being trained by your countries to kill us.”

Read the full interviews here: “We Want To Be Free”: An Interview With Four Women From The West Papuan Movement For Freedom

For more information:

Visit West Papua’s Independent Human Rights Media: https://westpapuamedia.info/

Read the Enough is Enough report (testimonies of women from West Papua) from the International Center for Transitional Justice.

Read the latest HR report from the International Coalition for Papua



1) “We want to be free”: An interview with four women from the West Papuan Movement for Freedom. Interview by Alex Rayfield and Claudia King from West Papua Media. Photos taken by Javiera Rose.

Article License: Creative Commons – Article License Holder: AWID


Wamena Bomb Scenario is false: Open letter from Wamena KNPB chief

Open Letter/ Statement from Simeon Dabi, Chairman of KNPB Baliem

October 15, 2012

On September 20 2012, I, Simeon Dabi, Head of the KNPB (National Committee for West Papua), was in Jayapura and received a telephone call from Kasat Reskrim Agus Supriadi Siswanto about bombings that occurred in two places: a Traffic Police Post at Irian street, Wamena and at the Jayawijaya Province Parliament Building. I was urged to immediately come to Wamena. On the 27th of September I received another telephone call urging me to quickly come to Wamena about the bombing case there. I arrived in Wamena on Friday September 28th, 2012, and when I arrived at Wamena airport I directly headed to the Jayawijaya Traffic Police Post so that I could become a witness to the treason charges against two of my colleagues, Enos Itlay and Semi Sambom who were arrested on July 1st 2012 related to possessing an OPM (Free Papua Movement) document.

Once I arrived at Jayawijaya Police District Command, I immediately met with Kasat Reskrim Agus Supriadi Siswanto in his office. I was asked many questions about the treason case against my two colleagues, then forced to become a witness for my two colleagues from 11:09-15:27 WPB. I was asked a number of questions including: “Where is the KNPB Secretariat at the moment?” to which my answer was that the KNPB does not yet have a clear secretariat; “What is the total number of KNPB members?” to which my answer was the entire Papuan society; “Does the KNPB wish to separate itself from the United Republic of Indonesia?” to which my answer was the KNPB is a medium for the people and the people will decide.

After this I went home. One day later, on Saturday 29th September 2012, at 5:15pm. The Traffic Police together with Densus 88 troops carried out a sweep and ambush of the KNPB secretariat of the Baliem-Wamena Region with goals that are not clear. In my opinion, the sweep of the KNPB secretariat was done because from the time of the bombing until when I arrived in Wamena, officers had not been able to find the bombers, due to the fact that Kasat told me last time that they will give imbalah (poss. transl. money to God?) to find the bombers.

Until now I am deeply surprised and do not believe that the sweep carried out by police officers found homemade bomb materials in the KNPB Baliem-Wamena Secretariat office – it is not true!! This is proof that the police were not able to find the bomber, so the KNPB were framed by the Jayawijaya Chief of Police. It is a political scenario to frame West Papuan civil society, especially people in the central highlands of West Papua.

Sweeping and arbitrary arrests of civilians by the Military/Jayawijaya Police occurred in places including Kurulu district, Wosi and Kimban district on Sunday 30th September 2012, at 5:00am Papuan time.

From then until now, the Military/Jayawijaya Police are carrying out pursuits and arrests of all KNPB members, even KNPB people throughout the entire Central Highlands region of West Papua, and are entering into villages.

From the brief description above, as head of the KNPB Baliem-Wamera, I have several concluding questions:

  1. Why was I, head of KNPB Wamena, made to immediately come from Jayapura in relation to the Wamena bombing case?
  2. What is my connection to the bombings that occurred in Wamena whilst I was in Jayapura?
  3. Why upon my arrival at Wamena did Kasat of Jayawijaya Police force me to search for the bomber?
  4. After I was interrogated at Jayawijaya police, one day later Jayawijaya Police District Command carried out sweeps at the KNPB Baliem-Wamena Secretariat. How and from where did police get an explosive?
  5. Are Papuan people, particularly people of Wamena, capable of designing/creating a homemade bomb?


The Military/Police have created a political scenario in order to frame the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Baliem-Wamena with a criminal offence. Police are the main troublemakers in Wamena, the Wamena bombers are themselves actors of state security forces. (emphasis added by WPM)

Police officers of the Republic of Indonesia: Why does a united nation need national security? Police are security for the United Republic of Indonesia. In simple language, police are often called ‘security’. Police are often also called troublemakers in situations of national security?? Is the role and function of Indonesian Police as security or troublemaker?? Especially throughout all parts of West Papua, police are vandals of national security that always act outside the procedure/law of the United Republic of Indonesia.

Simeon Dabi is currently being held in the Jayawijaya Police HQ prison in Wamena and there are grave fears for his safety, his access to legal representation, and the likelihood of a fair and impartial trial.

Related articles

KNPB ask police to prove what charges were against Mako Tabuni


Bintang Papua,
6 September 2012
Jayapura: At a time when the media is busily reporting about plans for a dialogue between Papua and Jakarta, following the visit to Papua by the Presidential Consultative Council under the leadership of Dr Albert Hasibuan, the KNPB – National Committee for West Papua, has responded by saying that there are issues that need to be discussed before any dialogue can take place.

‘Our way to solve the Papuan problem is for a referendum to be held and for the Papuan people to have the freedom run their own affairs in a state of their own.,’ said KNPB spokesperson, Wim R. Medlama, who spoke with two other activists alongside. He said  people should not be spending too much time  talking about the dialogue, because ‘the support in favour of freedom is widespread, down to the very roots of Papuan society’.

Another issue that he spoke about was the accusations that had been levelled against the late Mako Tabuni. After the arrest of Danny Kogoya for alleged terrorism and the acts of violence that have been happening in the city of Jayapura,  led the KNPB to ask a number of questions. The police were directing their allegations  these acts of terror against the late Mako Tabuni.

‘We call on the police to reveal who these people are who have been involved in the series of shootings, and we would like to hear the evidence about this. And now the same charges are being levelled against Danny Kogoya, so we would really like to know what facts the police have in relation to all this,’ said Medlama.

He said that when Mako Tabuni was shot and killed, all the allegations about the shootings had been directed against the late Mako Tabuni, and then after the arrest of Danny Kogoya, all these allegations were directed against him. ‘So what we want to know is what are the facts that have been discovered about all these shootings?’

The KNPB also said that the police should say what ammunition they had discovered at the office of Danny Koyoga. The KNPB accused the police of  making this up so as to be able to close down the democratic space for activists in Papua.

The KNPB also called on the police to reveal the truth about the shooting of the German citizen in Base-G, and about the burning of vehicles and their drivers in the Waena cemetery.

{Translated by Carmel Budiardjo]


KNPB: Buchtar Tabuni should be transferred to hospital for medical treatment


Bintang Papua, 23 August 2012

The National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) has urged the police authorities in West Papua to agree to the transfer of Buchtar Tabuni who is now in  custody and on trial to the special prison for narcotics offences  in order to ensure that he receives  the necessary treatment for a stomach complaint and low blood pressure.

Spokesman for the KNPB, Wim R. Medlama said that if he remains in a police cell, there is no guarantee that he will be able to get proper medical treatment.

The same matter was raised previously by Buchtar Tabuni during a court hearing in his own trial, shortly before Lebaran, the final days of Ramadhan.

The chairman of the panel of judges at the trial  said this was a matter for the police  and the prosecutor who are still engaged in getting him convicted of involvement in activities to cause damage to facilities in the prison where he was held.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Paniai branch of the KNPB strongly condemned the security forces, the TNI (army) and the police, for having conducted operations against the chairman of the KNPB, hunting down and arresting its members and urging that such operations should be immediately halted.

These shootings were taking place because Papuans continue to uphold the opinions they have held since 1961.

All the efforts being made such as the setting up a development agency known as the UP4B to improve the standard of living of the Papuan people will never halt the resistance of the Papuan people.

‘The Papuan people will continue to wage resistance and the only way to end this is by holding a referendum in Papua,’ he said.

[Translated by TAPOL]


Rights activist condemns police for preventing activities by KNPB

JUBI, 5 June 2012

The independent human rights activist, Sebby Sambom, said that it was deeply regrettable that the police force in Papua had used acts of brutality to prevent the KNPB, the National Committee for West Papua, from conducting an action on Monday 4 June. As a result of the police actions, one life was lost and others were injured,  including KNPB members and members of  the security forces.

He said in a brief message to JUBI that the security apparatus had acted against the law and violated freedom of expression which is guaranteed according to Article 19, para (2) of the International Covenant  on Civil and Political Rights. Indonesia ratified the Covenant  under Law 9/1998.

Sebby accused the police for not respecting basic human rights which has resulted in the serious crisis situation now prevailing in Papua. ‘This is a humanitarian crisis  by a colonial government  which refuses to respect universal human rights,’ he said.

‘The fact is,’ said this former political prisoner, ‘that colonial powers never respect the situation of its colonised people.’

He said that the problems in Papua can only be resolved  if there is intervention by the international community.

‘We call  for the full attention and intervention of the international community, in particular, the United Nations and the UN Human Rights Council

[Translated by TAPOL]