Tag Archives: Papuan

Tragic Bloodshed in Waghete, Papua – Suspected Serious Human Rights Violations

Analysis/ Opinion

by Selpius Bobii

Abepura Prison,  27 September 2013

Ever since West Papua was annexed into the Republic of Indonesia on 1 May 1963, it has been nothing other than a land smeared with blood, and at every moment the blood of Papuans has been shed by continuous killings.   On 23 September 2013 there was yet again bloodshed with a tragic incident in Waghete, Tigi district, in Deiyai Regency of the Central Highlands.  The incident started from ‘sweeping’ (house to house searches) carried out by joint armed forces of BRIMOB (an Indonesian National Police special operations unit), and a special unit of the Indonesian Military (TNI) unit 753, the Paniai District Police and local police from the Sub-District Units of Tigi and the Paniai Koramil.  The following article looks in detail at the background to why this incident occurred and at the impact of the incident on the local community.

When asked why the joint armed forces were carrying out sweepings in the area in the first instance, the High Commissioner for Police in the District of Paniai responded that they were making the area safe for civilians from the practices of gambling, drunkenness and the carrying of sharp objects (www.tempo.co/read/news/2013/09/23/058515978). However the facts clearly indicate that the sweepings were being carried out not to make the area safe for civilians against the said vices of drunkenness and gambling, but rather to:

  1. Confiscate any sharp instruments including all types of smaller knives, large machete like knives, axes and bows and arrows
  2. Confiscate shovels
  3. Confiscate mobile phone memory cards with photos of those active in the Papuan Freedom Movement
  4. Confiscate traditional woven dillybags (nukens) with patterns of the Morning Star flag, and to
  5. Target community members with dreadlocks and long beards.

Of course the very items that the armed forces confiscated during the sweeping – small knives, larger machete type knives, axes and shovels – are those used by the community for maintaining their gardens which is their source of food.  As in the Deiyai regency most civilians are farmers who farm the mountain slopes. The forces even confiscated any traditional darts, which are something which by customary beliefs cannot be separated from the life of the Mee Tribe as they are symbolic and special to that tribe. That they would even consider confiscating the peoples carrying bags and mobile phone memory cards with Papuan photos is a shameful reflection of the police and military, as those are symbols of Papua that are widely available and have been published in many books, media and other publicly available forms.
The TNI and police are well aware the people need those tools in particular to survive and they well know those items are widely accessible, so the question begs why did they really intentionally undertake operations to confiscate these items?

The targeting of civilians with dreadlocks and long beards –  based on the false perception of the police and military that anyone of that appearance is a member of the TPN /OPM – is also a shameful reflection of the thinking of the armed forces, as long beards and dreadlocks are an age-old tradition of Papuans.  The Indonesian police and military should understand and respect something of the cultural and social ways of the people of Papua such that they don’t recklessly carry out arbitrary actions which can lead to the sacrifice of innocent civilians’ lives. Reckless and improper actions which  also destroy the image of the police and Indonesian army in the public eye. Throughout the many years of Indonesia’s presence in Papua police, TNI and National Intelligence (BIN) have always assumed that Papuans with dreadlocks and long beards are all TPN OPM members. Whenever met with people with those physical characteristics the armed forces always act with improper and cruel actions intended to make life hard for those individuals. This is absolutely unreasonable! We could just as much say that every Papuan who longs for liberation from the cruel oppression of Indonesia could be called OPM!  When is Indonesia going to wake up to the reality that that no action whatsoever of the Indonesian military and police against the people of Papua will ever be able to destroy the Mambruk (Papuan) ideology in their hearts; that their cruel actions will never be able to stifle the political aspirations embodied by the Papuan movement for freedom.  Reckless,  cruel and improper actions by the armed forces such as occurred at Waghete must stop!  The forces instead need to adopt persuasive approaches (with dialogue and non-violent means)  in facing up to civilians in all circumstances and not use repressive measures such as has been evidenced at Waghete.

The events that led to the killing and wounding of civilians that day in Waghete started with the above stated sweepings which were being conducted in a manner that was far too excessive and abusive.  A particular activist present at the time (who cannot be named for safety reasons ) told the armed forces at the time that the community didn’t accept their excessive sweeping actions, but to no effect. They testified that before the shootings on 21 September 2013 the joint armed forces had carried out sweepings and detained 15 Papuans who had dreadlocks and long beards. Then on 23 September 2013 the forces returned to the same location where those persons had been arrested and carried out sweepings yet again with excessive abusive behaviour.

It was the second aggressive sweeping according to the witness that was just too much, and some in the community couldn’t keep silent.  He testified that it was not the adults who voiced the community’s protest but rather high-school and upper secondary school students together with a number of other youth. The armed forces had also confiscated some of the young peoples’ phone memory cards then according to the witness the young people protested in particular after seeing two Papuan mothers on their way to  their gardens having their gardening shovels confiscated then an adult male’s koteka (penis sheath) being checked by forces.  The witness stated: “The protest came from the school children and no adults were involved.  Then the police responded to their protest with excessive violence. The Head of the Paniai District Police a number of times shouted out a command to those under his command to shoot the children.  I was there at the time and saw myself the Head of the District Police together with police officers under his command, chasing and shooting at the school children with their weapons. That day I also heard there were 4 civilians detained.”

The Police spokesperson claimed that the disturbance occurred due to provocation by a group of supporters of a particular failed candidate in the local government elections. However another activist at Waghete (who also cannot be named for security reasons) testified that “the tragedy at Waghete was entirely due to the actions of the joint Indonesian police and military forces and cannot be said to be connected in any way to a problem of the local elections.”

This accusation by the police was just a strategy to try and  turn criticism back towards the local civilian population.

The facts are clear that it was the military and police that provoked the civilians into carrying out some type of protest in response to their excessively abusive treatment of the people  during the sweeping and their arbitrary arrest and detention of a number of community members. The forces then met the young people’s opposition with extremely excessive violence including shooting, killing, arbitrary arrest, and torture of civilians. If there had not been excessively abusive sweeping by the joint armed forces in the first instance then of course there would never have been opposition from the young people. Secondly if the response from the civilians had not been dealt with so repressively by the police and military then of course there would also not have been victims of  shooting, torture, intimidation and arbitrary arrest. In summary it was precisely the excessively abusive sweepings by the military and police that triggered the reaction from the civilians; It was precisely the repressive reaction from the armed forces to the civilians’ opposition which caused the tragic killing and serious shooting injuries of civilians in Waghete.

In considering whether there is any element of truth in the police’s accusation that civilians attacked them with rocks, or pieces of timber or arrows, a human rights activist Yohanes Mote who was present at the time of the shooting stated to the magazine Selangkah, “At the moment the incident occurred I was there. The community didn’t take up arrows. We were really disappointed that they were checking the penis sheaths of the men (traditional clothing of males). As there’s nothing inside penis sheaths but male genitals is there. We asked them why if they wanted to carry out sweeping because of gambling and drinking (alcohol), had they not stopped the drinking and gambling.  The gambling and drinking had been allowed to continue by the police so that through that we Papuans could be killed and shot like this.”, (www.majalahselangkah.com/content/penembakan-pelajar-di-deiyai-aktivis-ham-minta-kapolri-copot-pelaku-dan-evaluasi-polisi-di-papua).

Another activist who also can’t be named for security reasons testified “The students didn’t attack the armed forces with arrows. I only saw two or three students throw rocks in the direction of the armed forces but the rocks didn’t even hit them. Rather the police and military brutally shot those children. The one that shot Alpius Mote was an aide of the Paniai Head of Police. Alpius died on the spot as the bullet went right through his right side and came out his back. He didn’t die whilst being taken to the Paniai hospital (as the police claimed). Whilst regarding Alex Mote (another victim), the bullet entered the right side of his chest. After Alpius was shot dead the police gathered up all the bullet cartridges. I couldn’t take a photo at that moment as it would have been impossible.”

From the explanations of these two activists who were present at the time of the sweepings and shooting, it is clearly evident that the accusation of the police that the community attacked them was merely words to try and justify their own repressive actions of wounding and killing unarmed civilians. It is most ironic that the Papuan Provincial Police spokesperson also tried to legally justify the police and TNI’s actions, stated that the shooting by their forces was in line with their procedures since the citizens were becoming increasingly anarchist. He tried to justify the shootings on the basis that if the forces hadn’t fired then the situation would have escalated (www.news.viva.co.id/news/read/446352-bentrok-aparat-dan-warga-di-papua–1-tewas).

Returning to the initial action of the forces – being the sweeping – one must ask the question why were the police and TNI carrying sweepings out in such an excessively abusive manner in the first place. From the facts provided by witnesses as stated above, it would seem that the sweeping was intentionally carried out in such a way so as to give rise to some type of conflict in Waghete. The sweeping was not intended to make the community safe from vices of drinking and gambling as the police claimed, but rather to give rise to a conflict that would enable the armed forces to do away with those in the community with long dreadlocks and beards who were considered by the forces to be OPM/TPN members. The sweepings also provided an opportunity for them to confiscate any items that were symbolic of the freedom struggle. It was an intentional act carried out to make people terrified and to torture, kill and injure innocent civilians at that location.

Witnesses testified that on 21 September around 15 people with dreg locks and long beards were violently arrested and detained at the Paniai District Police Command headquarters. Then on 23 September one student was shot dead and another shot in the chest. An English teacher from the local Deiyai upper secondary school Yance Pekey who voiced opposition to the treatment by the armed forces, was also inhumanely ‘dealt with’ at his office. It is understood he was also detained together with the other 3 civilians at the Paniai District Police Station. From data available to date it is understood that the total of civilians detained over these few days was 19. To the date of writing their names have not been made available by the police and neither has access been allowed  to visit any of them. (For the preliminary report to this incident  see: www.westpapuamedia.info/2013/09/27/preliminary-report-into-waghete-deaths-and-sweepings/).

From the above stated detail the Writer concludes that the tragic events from 21 – 23 September 2013 in Waghete involved a number of serious human rights violations. Violations which commenced with the excessively abusive sweeping and harassment by the military and police; followed by the arbitrary arrests, torture,, shooting dead and wounding of citizens and the general terrorising of the local community in Waghete. The actions of the police and military cannot be justified with any reason whatsoever! The tragic killing and wounding of unarmed civilians that occurred fall within the category of serious human rights violations and the culprits must face legal processes and be held responsible (1).

Footnotes

 1)To that end the Writer puts forward the following recommendations to those parties involved:

i) That the TNI and Police in the land of Papua must cease carrying out excessive sweepings and terrorising/ intimidating the people, must cease all torture and other brutal treatment of civilians, all shootings, killings and arbitrary arrests.

ii) That the culprits of the acts at Waghete must be brought to justice in the human rights court or general court to hold them responsible for their actions.

iii) That the Head of the Indonesian Police is strongly urged to immediately remove from office the Head of Police in the Sub-District of Tigi, The Head of the District Police in Paniai and Head of the Papuan Provincial Police. As all three persons have acted irresponsibly and are not capable of ensuring the safety of citizens.

iv) That the Head of the Paniai District Police immediately and unconditionally release all citizens (believed to be 19 in number) who are being arbitrarily detained at the Paniai District Police Station.

v) That the Investigation Team appointed by the Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP) on 25 September 2013 to look into the tragedy in Waghete,  immediately be sent to the location of the events  to commence investigations.

vi) That the Indonesian Republic National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM RI) immediately form an adhoc team to follow up the early findings that will be reported by the independent DPRP Investigation Team.

vii) That all parties and in particular the local government, leaders of the church and  traditional customary leaders in that region, act immediately to restore security and order in Deiyai.

viii) To all those who are concerned and who work in the field of humanitarianism, your help is requested at this immediate time in advocacy, monitoring and publishing of information regarding this case and in organising assistance for those civilians who have been detained at the cells of the Paniai District Police Station.

ix) The excessively abusive sweepings, the terrorising and intimidation, the torture, shootings, killings and arbitrary arrests of indigenous Papuans by both the Indonesian military and police in the land of Papua will never bring an end to the problems in Papua. The Indonesian Government needs to instead enter into dialogue / unconditional negotiations with the nation of Papua facilitated by a neutral third party and held in a neutral location in order to find a dignified solution to the problems in Papua.

Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA & a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee in  Abepura Prison, Jayapura

 

A History of the Morning Star Flag of West Papua

by Leonie Tanggahma for West Papua Media

Historical Analysis

December 1, 2012

West Papuan Morning Star flags flying at Federation Square, Melbourne (Australia), December 1, 2012.  (Photo: West Papua Media)
West Papuan Morning Star flags flying at Federation Square, Melbourne (Australia), December 1, 2012. (Photo: West Papua Media)

For more than 50 years, the Morning Star Flag has been the symbol of West Papua’s unity and its quest for Freedom and Justice. Thousands have been inspired by it, as it became the main icon embodying the struggle for Independence. And this flag, just like any other flag of any other country, has a history, a proud history.

5 April 1961: Inauguration of the New Guinea Council

On 5 April 1961, a representative body for the then Dutch colony of Netherlands New Guinea was inaugurated: the New Guinea Council or Nieuw Guinea Raad[1] [1]. It was the task of the Council to make the wishes of the Papuan people known on the issue of self-determination, within a year. However, news came that the United States of America and Indonesia were putting pressure on the Dutch  to convince them to transfer its colony to the United Nations, and then to the Indonesian administration. The members of the New Guinea Council immediately gathered for an emergency session and appointed a National Committee to draft a Manifesto expressing the wishes of the Papuans which would include national symbols for the upcoming State.

19 October 1961: Flag and other national symbols officially adopted by way of Manifesto

Committee members Bonay, Jouwe, Tanggahma and Torey were asked to submit designs for the flag and arms. Mr. Torey withdrew and a choice had to be made between the designs of Messrs. Bonay, Jouwe and Tanggahma. The designs of Mr. Jouwe were accepted by 14 votes to 17 as national symbols.  After the national symbols were officially adopted, everyone was visibly moved and proud. According to official testimonies: “Then, all those present rose from their seat and while the emotion was clearly overtaking all those present the manifesto was read by the Chair of the National Committee, Mr. Willem Inury; it was subsequently unanimously accepted and signed by the National Committee. The attendees were then invited to also sign the manifesto … The national flag consists of a red vertical band along the hoist side, with a white [five-pointed] star in the center. Adjacent to the red band, is a series of [consecutive] blue and white lines, with a total of seven blue and six white lines.”[2]

This manifesto dated 19 October 1961 stated that: “in accordance with the ardent desire and the yearning of our people for our own independence, through the National Committee and our parliament, the New Guinea Council, insist with the Government of Netherlands New Guinea and the Netherlands Government that as of 1 November 1961,

a) our flag be hoisted beside the Netherlands flag;

b) our national anthem (“Hai Tanahku Papua”) be sung and played in addition to the Netherlands national anthem;

c) our country bear the name of Papua Barat (West Papua), and

d) our people be called: the Papuan people.”[3]

he Manifesto of 1961 may not have been an independence Proclamation, but its wording was strong and clear in relation to the will of the Papuan people to become independent, it was a declaration of intent, as it also stated that: “On that basis, we, the Papuan people, demand to get our place in the midst of other independent nations and peoples. In addition, we, the Papuan people, make our contribution to the preservation of peace and freedom around the world.”[4]

1 December 1961: Official inauguration of the flag as a territorial flag

The Dutch accepted most of the terms of the Manifesto except for the date of installation and the denomination of the flag: the inauguration of the flag happened on 1 December and not on 1 November as requested by the Papuans. The General Assembly of the UN was to hold a meeting in late November on the issue, and recognition by the Dutch of the symbols could have been interpreted as an endorsement of an independent West Papua by the Dutch Government. The Dutch did not want to provoke the Indonesians, even if it meant that the demand of the Papuans would not be heard. In terms of the denomination, the Dutch authorities recognized the new flag as a territorial flag (landsvlag) and not as national flag.

All the specifications concerning the flag and other Papuan symbols can be found in the so-called “Territorial Flag Ordinance” (or “Landsvlagordonnantie”) Number 68 of 1961. This Ordinance specifies among others that: “(1) The territorial flag of Netherlands New Guinea shall be a rectangle consisting of a vertical wide red striped at the hoist and seven horizontal blue stripes separated by six white stripes. In the centre of the vertical red stripe is a white five-pointed star, with one point pointing vertically upwards. The five points of the star shall each form an angle of 36 degrees. (2) The height and length of the flag shall bear to each other the proportion of 2 to 3. The width of the red stripe shall be two fifth of the height of the flag. The blue and white stripes shall be equal in height. The diameter of the circumscribed circle of the star shall be seven eighths of the width of the red stripe.” [5]  Another ordinance (Number 69 of 1961) provided for a national anthem for Netherlands New Guinea. Ordinance Number 70 of 1961, also called the “Administrative Order for the implementation of Section 2 of the Territorial Flag Ordinance”, stipulates the terms and conditions under which the flag is to be raised. And Section 5 states: “This Order, which may be cited as Flag Order, shall come into operation on December 1, 1961.”[6]

And so on 1 December it happened, for the first time, our Morning Star flag was raised, next to the Dutch flag; our national anthem (”Hai Tanahku Papua”) was played and sung together with the Dutch national anthem; our country was given the name of Papua Barat (West Papua), and our people were given a name: the Papuan people.

Nine years of international Fraud and Deception led by greed, racism and the total disrespect for human life

Just 18 days after the installation of the Papuan symbols, on 19 December 1961, the President of Indonesia, Soekarno, made his call for the infamous Tri Komando Rakyat (or TRIKORA), the People’s Threefold Command. On that day he called for a total mobilization of the people of Indonesia, (1) to destroy what he considered a Dutch-promoted Papuan State; (2) to fly the Indonesian flag over the territory of West Papua, which he erroneously called West Irian; (3) to prepare for war over what he called West Irian. For Indonesians this represented the so-called liberation of the territory from the Dutch. For Papuans the TRIKORA was the call for an illegal military aggression from a country which did not recognize its sovereignty. Military aggression was followed by legal deception as the Dutch and the Indonesians signed the New York Agreement of 15 August 1962, an agreement regarding the future of the Papuans but they themselves were never consulted. The Papuans were betrayed by those who signed this agreement which regulated the transfer of the administration of New Guinea to the United Nations. This administration lasted from 1 October 1962 to 1 May 1963. Then it was to be handed over to Indonesia for a period of six or seven years, after which the Papuans were supposed to freely choose, through a referendum, whether to join Indonesia or become an independent nation. Legal deception was followed by political fraud. In August 1969 the so-called “Act of Free Choice” was organized. At the time, West Papua had been under Indonesian rule for over six years: every expression of Papuan nationalism was systematically bloodily suppressed, possible opponents were arrested and tortured, punitive expeditions were carried out across the country and bombings and rocket attacks were conducted by the Indonesian army. The so-called “Act of Free Choice” itself was pure deception, fraud and deceit, a stage-managed play in which Indonesian officials selected 1026 Papuan electors who voted on behalf of 800,000 Papuans at the time. The electors were all carefully prepared for the Musyawarah: an Indonesian system of decision-making where there is unanimous agreement: 1025 Papuans finally decided unanimously that they wanted to belong to the Republic of Indonesia (one was sick that day). The normal one-man/one-vote principle usually applied for a referendum had not been respected as the Indonesians argued that Papuans were too primitive!

1 July 1971: the territorial flag becomes a national flag

In protest against the failure of the implementation of the “Act of Free Choice” the Free Papua Movement (OPM) proclaimed the independence of the Republic of West Papua on 1 July 1971.  Under Article 2 of UN resolution 1514: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”  Another UN resolution, Resolution 1541, explains that exercising your right to self-determination means that you are allowed to choose between independence, autonomy or integration within an existing state. Since the beginning, the Papuans chose for independence; and they opted for that same option time and time again.

The Manifesto of 1961 was a declaration of intent; the Proclamation of 1971 was the realization of that intent. The proclamation stated: “With the help and blessing of God Almighty, we take this opportunity to declare to you all that today, 1 July 1971, the land and people of Papua have been proclaimed to be free and independent (de facto and de jure)”.

On 1 July 1971, the Papuans chose to take the Morning Star Flag which had been recognized by the Dutch as a territorial symbol. The Papuans decided to proclaim it a NATIONAL symbol; they did the same with the national anthem (Hai Tanahku Papua).


[1] Newspaper report. Sydney Morning Herald, 6 April 1961.

[2] Official government magazine Pengantara of 21 October 1961.

[3] Official government magazine Pengantara of 21 October 1961

[4] Official government magazine Pengantara of 21 October 1961

[5] Bulletin of Ordinances and Decrees of the Government of Netherlands New Guinea, 1961, No. 68, issued on 20 November 1961.

[6] Bulletin of Ordinances and Decrees of the Government of Netherlands New Guinea, 1961, No. 70, issued on 20 November 1961

Papuan Voices: The Papuan Serving of Culture, Video and Change

Wempie talks to KBR 68H about Papuan Voices
Wempie talks to KBR 68H about Papuan Voices (Photo credit: EngageMedia.org)

 

 

The BAKAR BATU Papuan Voices Launch in Goethe-Institute, Jakarta on October 13, 2012 provided an eye-view of the struggle and inspiration in West Papua, brought to you by Papuan video activists from Jayapura and Merauke.

 

 

dancers2As the Merauke dancers waltzed into the Goethe-Haus theatre, the people who turned up for the Bakar Batu Papuan Voices Launchknew they were in for an evening of West Papuan culture which was filled with more than just the usual sad stories, but more so with hope and inspiration.Master of ceremony and Papuan Voices filmmaker Cyntia Warwewelcomed the audience, giving a bit of a philosophical explanation of the event.“Bakar Batu (literally translates to earth oven in Indonesian) or ‘barapen’ is an event where Papuans gather for a special occasion,” said Cyntia. “And this is a special event indeed, we’ve cooked up nine videos proudly, and we want to serve them to you, our friends.”

The theatre was packed. The Sisir Bambu acoustic group followed the dancers. Lead singer Sem Awom sang his work and also Mambesak songs to celebrate the cultural struggle of Papua.

“Years ago, there was a guy named Arnold Ap who worked very hard to keep the Papuan culture alive through the group Mambesak,” Sem said. “Unfortunately, his great work was deemed separatist by the then regime, and in the end he was arrested and killed.”

The award-winning filmmaker Wenda Tokomonowir kicked off the film screening  with the acclaimed “Surat Cinta Kepada Sang Prada’ (Love Letter to the Soldier). There were a total of 11 films screened. It was an emotional roller coaster as the films showed the tough lives many Papuans have to face, but encouraging as the same peoples are also not back down and fighting hard for survival. A video called ‘Salam Bilogai’ about a traditional Bilogai click handshake lit up the theatre with laughter as the audience demonstrated the handshakes with one another.

Papuan Voices co-producer, Wensi Fatubun, said that even though the project that ran since 2011 was a video initiative, both EngageMedia and Church group JPIC MSC have encouraged the participants in Jayapura and Merauke to design and use the videos for change.

“Papuan Voices is a cultural struggle,” said Wensi. “We want people to see Papua through the eyes of the Papuans themselves.”

Winning accolades was not the intention, but we are grateful of that. But to change and inspire is a lot more important.”

Web Launch

The evening was also about the unveiling of the dedicated Papuan Voices website – www.papuanvoices.net. This particular site compiles the nine Papuan Voices videos, along with various background information about the places and issues raised in the videos, a study guide that teachers/educators can use to trigger discussions, a screening guide and a take action page that provides information on groups to join and resources to read more about West Papua.

At the end of the screening, the audience were led outside to eat the sago and betel nut made by the indigenous market traders in the video ‘Awin Meke’.

pack

One audience said: “Thanks for letting me take a peek to the window of lives in West Papua for the first time. I hope folks in the TNI (the Indonesian Armed Forces) and the Government can have the opportunity to take a look at the videos also.”

The Papuan Voices Compilation DVD can be purchased here.

 

 

 

 

Plans to commomorate the death of Theys Eluay in November

Theys Eluay‘s body being removed after his murder by Kopassus officers, November 11, 2001 (supplied)
 JUBI,
16 October, 2012
It was ten years ago [actually eleven years ago] when Megawati Sukarnoputri was the president of Indonesia, that the Papuan leader, Theys Hiyo Eluay was murdered on 10 November 2001. Theys was kidnapped and murdered because he was regarded as a danger to Indonesia’s territorial integrity.
However, the Papuan people regard Theys Eluay as a Papuan leader who was able to  unite all Papuans from Sorong to Merauke.  He was also a man who called upon people to treat Papuans with decency and respect.This is why Papuans have decided to commemorate the death of Theys Eluay.

‘We are shortly planning to mark the anniversary of the death of this great Papuan leader,’ said Thomas Syufi, president of the Militant Papuans Students Federation.
‘He was a Papuan leader who struggled for his people to be treated with decency and respect.  He did not resort to violence but the Megawati government regarded him as a threat.

He went on to say in a press conference in Jayapura, that there has been no justice yet for the death of Theys Eluay.  ‘The senior army officer who had been involved in the death was allowed to go free. [A few low-ranking Kopasus officers involved in the abduction were given short sentences which they almost certainly never served.] ‘That is why we regard Theys Eluay as a martyr ,’ the students said.

[The facts about Theys’ death are as follows: Shortly before his death he had been elected the chairman of the Papuan  Presidium Council. He was tricked into meeting some members of the army’s elite corps Kopassus on 10 November 2001, kidnapped and driven to an unknown destination. On the following day, his body was discovered in Skouw, a Papuan village near the border with PNG, more than 50 kms from where he had been abducted. He appeared to have been strangled to death; an autopsy concluded that he had died of suffocation. See Tapol Bulletin, December 2001/February 2002.]

The call made at the time by Human Rights Watch for an impartial inquiry into what was seen as a ‘well-planned assassination’ was never  responded to by the authorities.]

To mark the forthcoming anniversary of his death, Papuans were called on to gather at the grave of Theys. The government, the military and NGOs were called on not to raise banners at the grave, ‘out of respect for the fallen leader’.

Plans to move the body have been rejected by Papuans. The anniversary of his death will be marked by prayers  and other activities that have not yet been revealed.

[Translated by Tapol]

Security forces urged not to resort to violence on the anniversary of KRP-III

The plan by a group of people to commemorate the events that occurred last year at the time of the Third Papuan People’s Congress (KRP III)  when several people lost their lives has been described by the Papuan Provincal Legislative Assembly (DPR Papua) as a legitimate expression of Papuan concerns. It called on the security forces to refrain from again resorting to violence on this occasion.

‘It is quite legitimate for Papuans to commemorate the KRP-III within the framework of our system of democracy. Every citizen has the right to give expression to their aspirations, as long as they do so by lawful means,’ said Ruben Magai, chairman of Commission A of the DRP Papua.’ He was speaking in response to questions from the press.

He said that the security forces should not  resort to the use of violence in dealing with the aspirations of the people. ‘Dont keep using violence  because this only  traumatises the Papuan people. In any system of democracy, it is quite natural for people to give expression to their aspirations.’

He said that KRP III was now part of Papua’s history which means that commemorating the event is quite legitimate.

He went on to say that  the government in Papua is behaving undemocratically in many ways. Activists are facing a lot of intimidation. ‘If it continues to ignore democratic principles, the problem of Papua will never be solved.’

He said that the way to resolve the problem is to enter into dialogue. ‘It is only through dialogue that this problem should be handled. The use of violence will only attract the attention of the international community and will deeply wound the feelings of the Papuan people.’

He said in addition that if greater pressure is exerted against Papuan people, they will make their voices heard loud and clear. The more that pressure is used, the louder they will shout.’ he said.

He also said that the special autonomy law for Papua (OTSUS) adopted eleven years ago has proved worthless because it has failed to protect the interests of the Papuan people. ‘OTSUS means nothing any more because it has failed to protect the  interests of the Papuan people. An example was the way the governor was  chosen.  This problem has now been returned to the KPU – election commission. which means that there is nothing special at all about OTSUS.

Translated by Tapol