Tag Archives: special autonomy

Extension of Special Autonomy Law Number 21 of 2001 for West Papua by Indonesian Parliament: A One-sided Policy implementation

by Solidarity for Indigenous Papuans

Facts on the Special Autonomy

The much talked about Special Autonomy Law Number 21 of 2001 was officially extended on 15th July 2021 through the Second Amendment Bill to Law Number 21 of 2001 in the Indonesian Parliament. Summary of facts covered as reported by various media outlets are as follows;

  • the extension was finalized and approved for endorsement through the Second Amendment Bill of Law Number 21 of 2001
  • the government focus on amending only three articles; Article 1 on general provisions, Article 34 on Special Autonomy Fund for Papua, and Article 76 on Territorial Expansion
  • the new articles added to the existing law were only 20 articles, which mainly were added or extended in Articles 1, 34 and 76.
  • apart from the three articles reviewed, no other articles from the previous law were removed or adjusted; the Minister for Home Affairs confirmed that “the content of the law has not changed, but funds have to be extended and increased.”
  • The Indonesian Parliament agreed that all Papuans they have consulted approve of the extension of Special Autonomy

The general feeling in Papua has different narratives from that held by Indonesian leaders in Jakarta and their collaborators in Papua. It was fortunate that the government-controlled media smooth over the rough edges of the Autonomy narrative, avoided publicising views from the Papuan public. The fact remains that all indigenous Papuans rejected outright its extension. A total of 105 organisations, including the support organisations from neighbouring countries, formed a resistance group inside West Papua put up consistent protests at meeting venues, only to be met by heavy police and military beatings and hefty jail terms.

Consultation Initiative for the Special Autonomy

Consultation for the extension was organized in ways that only seek approval from the public and avoided criticism, complaints, or adjustments from the Papuans’ side. Three separate factions initiated their schedules for consultations with Papuan people; (1) initiated by Papuan People’s Assembly in Papua (MRP) and Papuan Provincial Parliamentarians (DPRP) under Article 77 of Special Autonomy Law, (2) initiated by Special Committee for the Special Autonomy (DPD PANSUS), and (3) initiated by Indonesian Parliamentarians.

According to Article (77) of Special Autonomy Law Number 21 of 2001, the changes to the law has to be done by Papuans through MRP, DPRP and Governor of Papua province in consultation with the Papuans. Thus, the setup of the Special Team for Special Autonomy and direct involvement by Indonesian Parliamentarians were not in the spirit of the law.

The exclusion in the discussion and contribution to Special Autonomy prompted MRP to appeal to the constitutional court in Jakarta to seek its interpretation of Article (77) on 16th June 2021. The court did not hand the decision to date due to political interference. The MRP was forced to withdraw the case on 21st July 2021. The Parliamentarians passed the Second Amendment Bill on 15th July 2021, extending the Special Autonomy Law Number 21 of 2001.

Groups Consulted in Papua

The three groups set up two separate camps to review the Special Autonomy Law, Jakarta and Jayapura. The Jakarta group set up the Indonesian Research Institute (LIPI) and the University of Gaja Mada (UGM) to research and draft the law. In contrast, the Jayapura group set up the university of Cenderawasih to do the review. The Jakarta group has a separate list of Papuans to consult in Papua, and the Jayapura group has its list with different schedules.

The Jayapura group, led by MRP/MRPB1, conducted consultations throughout Papua and West Papua provinces. The approach appeared fair for the ordinary people and civil society, including the opposition groups who presented petitions against the Special Autonomy in several regencies. In Pegunungan Bintang, Yahukimo, Paniai, Jayapura, Manokwari and Sorong presented petitions against the extension of Special Autonomy. The people at the grassroots level trusted the first group led by the MRP/MRPB.

The Jakarta group led by the Special Team scheduled five days for a visit to Jayapura and Manokwari. They listed the following names for their consultation; (1) Governor, (2) Regional Leaders (FORKOPIMDA), (3) Papuan Provincial Parliamentarians (DPRP/PB), (4) Papuan People’s Assembly Members (MRP/MRPB), (5) Provincial Rep. of National Intelligence Organization (BINDA), (6) Association of Indonesian Lecturers in Jayapura (7) Forum for Regional Leaders, (8) Forum for inter-religious group, (9) Special Autonomy Review Team in Jayapura, and (10) Cenderawasih University. They scheduled for five days from 26th to 30th April 2021.

Another Jakarta group led by Indonesian Parliamentarians (DPR RI) had their separate schedule for consultation with the Papuan side on 1st April 2021. The group met (1) Governor, (2) Indonesian Military Commander in Papua (Pangdam Cenderawasih), (3) Papua Provincial Police Commander, (4) Papua provincial Chief Judge, (5) Chairman of Papuan People’s Assembly, (6) Chairman of Papua Parliamentrians, and (7) Regional leaders and town mayors in Papua province.

Consultation and Review Results

The consultation and review results of the Papuan side led by MRP/MRPB disappeared in thin air between Jakarta and Jayapura. The petition collected from the Papuans, main discussions about human rights and dialogue between Jakarta and Jayapura, including the opposition groups, were vaporised into thin air living the original review and consultations from the Jakarta side to endorsement by the Indonesian Parliament. It was a shadow play that Indonesian intelligence (BIN) designed and played hard from the sidelines, directing the flow towards Jakarta.

Indonesians called “wayang kulit”, an Indonesian shadow play myth often told and played in Indonesian cinemas. The MRP/MRPB group was only a decoy to attract Papuans’ attention to their side, so the actual moves from Jakarta are implemented undisturbed.

During the parliament session, Mr Komarudin Watubun the chairman of the Special Committee for the Autonomy concluded that “discussions about the Special Autonomy was conducted well in the spirit of brother-hood.”2 Mr Yan Mandenas, his deputy added that the process of consultation was done according to “normal policy processes and procedures and satisfied all the existing government’s requirements”3 according to the available laws of the country.

Peoples’ representation

The people consulted in Papua do not represent most Papuans because they were members of the “Barisan Merah Putih” (BMP)(Red and White movement). The BMP group is organized by the Indonesian military and police, forcing people to love Indonesia and hate other people who are against the Indonesian state ideology. These people are descendants of the “1025” selected to participate in the “Act of Free Choice” in 1969. This group of Papuans are well-looked after by the Indonesian government. They continue to receive monthly allowances from the Indonesian government to compensate for their part in the 1969 saga and formed the stronghold for Indonesia in Papua. They have no connection with the West Papua independence struggle either.

It was a pre-planned process with name lists prepared by the Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN) State Intelligence Organization with venues scheduled and dates fixed for the events. They also listed Church leaders, customary leaders, students and intellectuals that were aligned with the views of the Red and White group. People selected to represent Papuan’s view were mainly from West Papua province and coastal regions which traditionally allied with Indonesians most often or do not dare to talk aggressively like the highlanders. Indonesia is indirectly creating ethnic divisions as a method of divide and rule, which appears to be colonial in its approach to Papuan issues.

Excluded Groups

The excluded groups in Papua are led by Petisi Rakyat Papua4 (PRP) (Petition for the People of Papua). The PRP group is a collective group consisted of 105 civil society based organizations, including politically charged organizations such as the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) and others whose leaders are at the forefront. The groups appeared to be formidable and aspire to continue in whatever way possible to halt the implementation of the Special Autonomy.

From experience, the opposition to the Special Autonomy Law at the beginning could be a bad sign for Indonesia as it cannot teach new tricks to the Papuans. Papuans have grown thick skin over the years of the Indonesian’s undignified treatments, and it looks like the opposition would continue to grow in the months and years ahead. The Special Autonomy review and consultation was done in a secret and undemocratic way that violated the rights of the people of Papua. The failure of the first part of Special Autonomy experienced from 2001 to 2020 will be repeated in the second part of the Special Autonomy. Indonesians are ignorant of the reality existing in Papua.

Expected fulfilment of SDG 2030 in Papua under Special Autonomy

The last five (5) years of implementing Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030 (SDG 2030) since 2015 has catapult Indonesia’s economic success. It has enabled Indonesia to invest heavily into education, health, agriculture, commerce and other sectors of the economy boosting living standards and creating millions of jobs for its 273 million people. However, the economic miracle that Indonesia enjoyed over the years occurred at the expense of mounting human rights violations5 and environmental destruction in Papua. The suppression of Indigenous peoples rights, LGBT rights, People With Disability, minority rights, and environmental destruction in Papua and Boneo Islands where vast forests are being destroyed are a few areas that the Indonesian government has been overlooking in the last five years.

West Papua region in Indonesia tells the exact opposite of Indonesia’s success story over the same period that seems to paint a negative image on Indonesia. The much talked about and promoted Special Autonomy for Papua is nothing but a tool for Indonesian diplomatic advancement to cover its human rights violation record in West Papua. Indonesia treats West Papua as its number one priority in international relations, perfecting any defects coming out of the province in every international forum that smells human rights in Indonesia focusing on Papua. It is uncertain that the existing negative record would likely to improve with the extension of the autonomy package. Already, violated SDG principles from the beginning when the Indonesians excluded Papuans from taking part in the review and consultation process.

BY Solidarity for Indigenous Papuans (SIP)

1 Majelist Rakayat Papua/Majelis Rakyat Papua Barat (Papuan Peoples’ Assembly Members/West Papua Peoples’ Assembly Members) the Special Autonomy covers both provinces.

2 DPR and Government Approve Papua Otsus Bill (voaindonesia.com)

3 DPR Affirms the Discussion of The Revision of the Papua Otsus Law Is Final and Constitutional – Tribunnews.com

4 Papuan People’s Petition (petisirakyatpapua.org)

5 Johnny Blades a senior journalist at Radio New Zealand International describes the human rights conditions in West Papua here; West Papua: The Issue That Won’t Go Away for Melanesia (lowyinstitute.org)

“The Indonesian Government Occupies, Colonises and Marginalises Indigenous Papuans”

by Socratez Sofyan Yoman

translation by WestPapuaMedia from SuaraPapua.com

April 3, 2012

OPINION

(“…thousands of young Papuans that scream against the impartiality, hope the regional government must be aware that the Special Autonomy Law is present for whom? That the Law was created for what? Because of the demands for Independence “to free themselves from The Republic of Indonesia” for the people of Papua.” (Dr. “HC” Herman A. T. Yoku, SIP, Cenderwasih Post and Papua Star, Friday 30/3/2012).

Noble and respected Opinion readers, in my Opinion piece on the topic ‘The Indonesian Government fails to Develop and Protect Indigenous Papuans’, that was published in the Pacific Post, Tuesday 20th March 2012, and in the Papua Star, Thursday 22nd March, 2012, I quoted the promise and commitment by the Government of Indonesia for indigenous Papuans when Papua was forcibly integrated into Indonesia in 1969 with the engineering of the 1969 Referendum.

The quote is as follows: “Interior Minister stated …. the government of Indonesia, is willing and able to protect the welfare of the people of West Irian, therefore, there is no other choice but to live with the Republic of Indonesia” (Source: United Nations Official Records: 1812th Plenary Meeting of the UN Assembly, agenda item 98.19 November 1969, paragraph 18, P.2). After 31 years from 1969 to 2000, the Government of Indonesia made a promise and commitment that is almost the same, in Act No. 21, Year 2001 on Special Autonomy, for: pemberdayaan (empowerment), perlindungan (protection) and keberpihakan (affirmative action) for the original inhabitants of Papua and the Papuan People that have been forced to live within the Republic of Indonesia.

But the reality is that the people of Papua, Indigenous Papuans and the owners of this land and country, are treated inhumanely and are slaughtered like animals in the name of Indonesia. A concrete example: Three Indigenous Papuans were shot dead by security forces on 19th October 2011 at Zakheus field, the shooters were only given disciplinary punishment. This betrayal of human dignity cannot be tolerated in a context of humanity. There is no reason to kill people. It is the toughest crime committed by the state.

Examples of other facts such as the Cenderwasih Post reported: at the Offical Echelon Inauguration at Keerom District, Community Leader from the Indonesia-PNG border, Keerom, Dr. (HC), Herman A.T.Yoku, S.IP, said: “Many young Indigenous Papuans are treated like step-children in the appointment into the echelons. From 117 new Echelon II, III and IV officials inaugurated a few days ago, if carefully calculated, the number of local young people inaugurated is less than 10, from all of those sworn in. I had hoped that affirmative policy that was mandated in Act No. 21, Year 2001 would necessarily be considered by the local government…’ (Cenderawasih Post, Friday, March 30, 2012, p. 14). “As young Papuans the Governor should be aware that the Special Autonomy Act is for who? At the Echelon Inauguration yesterday (Thursday, 29/3/2012) I have not seen one Papuan child sworn in, let alone one Indigenous Keerom child from this country. I am very sorry as a community leader who fights to expand this area – why is it that the governor can’t pay attention to this area? If for only one interest I requested this position, it is that this region can be considered safe because young indigenous Papuans say themselves it is safe.” (Papua Star, on Friday, March 30 2012, p 5).

In my opinion columns about The Special Autonomy Act No. 21, Year 2001, I continually, frankly and openly present the topic (1) “Special Autonomy has failed in Papua”: Papua Star, Thursday, 09/02/2012, p.5; (2) “It’s Time: Papua People Stand Alone”: in The Pacific Post, March 13, 2012 and Papua star, March 16, 2012; (3) “The Indonesian Government fails to Develop and Protect Indigenous Papuans” in the Pacific Post, Tuesday, March 20, 2012 and Papua Star, Thursday , March 22, 2012.
“Special Autonomy is a political solution or a political bargaining between the peoples of Papua and Indonesia, in order that Papuans remain in Indonesia with a guarantee to protect the people of Papua, the empowerment of indigenous Papuans, and affirmative action for indigenous Papuans. However, “in reality, the Special Autonomy has truly failed. Special Autonomy has truly become a killing machine of God’s people in Papua and a destroyer of a future Papuan society and nation.”

Special Autonomy has really become a potent tool for the process of ethnic cleansing in Papua that is safer, quicker, more systematic and does not raise the suspicions of the international community that cares about humanity. Special Autonomy is an institution that prolongs the agony, drops and flow of tears of Indigenous Papuans. Special Autonomy is a solution and political decision about Papua’s political status within Indonesia that has already failed. Special Autonomy is a destroying machine that really marginalises Indigenous Papuans from every aspect. Special Autonomy is second volume of the 1969 Referendum that has already failed and become a new problem.”

Herman Yoku says: “… i am very sorry as a public figure who fights to expand this area – why is it that the governor can’t pay attention to this area?” From this statement it seems evident that many Indigenous Papuan Officials do not have the critical ability in relation to the strategies and traps set by the Indonesian Government around the expansion of districts and provinces over the land of Papua. I regret very much, the way of looking and thinking of young Indigenous Papuan officials that the expansion of districts, cities and provinces are the result of hard work and struggle. It really is not like that.

The real background of the hectic expansion of districts, cities and provinces over the land of West Papua that is wild and uncontrollable, is purely political, economic, security, and a structural and systematic process of ethnic cleansing of Melanesians. And all the political policies of the Indonesian Government are not interested in progressing, advancing and increasing the welfare of Indigenous Papuans. In my opinion, the key clause in the expansion of districts and provinces is the military operation and new style Transmigration operation for the hastening of the ethic cleansing of Melanesians. I have written in an Opinion Column in the Pacific Post, 25th September 2009, with the topic: ‘district/City and Province Expansion in West Papua is a Military and New-style Transmigration Operation’. Special Autonomy Act No.21, Year 2001, has FAILED.

Expansion of Districts, Cities and Provinces that is not balanced with Indigenous Papuans forms chains of occupation, colonisation, and marginalisation. Indigenous Papuans are now being encouraged to take shelter behind the slogan of national development. “Political pitting (the politics of divide and conquer) such as applied by colonizers in Apartheid South Africa in 1978. Pieter W. Bother became Prime Minister and splintered the unity of South African society by setting up puppet states: The Puppet State of Transkei, Puppet State of Tswana, Puppet State of Venda, Puppet State of Ciskei. In the Papuan context, the Colonial Government of Indonesia has formed many puppet districts and also puppet provinces in order to break up the wholeness and unity of Indigenous Papuans.” (Yoman: p. Destruction of Ethnic Melanesia, Breaking the Silence of the History of Violence in West Papua, 2007: p. 224).

The Author himself has documentary evidence writing about military operations. If readers read my book entitled: ‘The Gate to Free Papua’ (Socratez Sofyan Yoman; 2000. Page. 78-86), it is very clearly found in this book, highly confidential documents released by the interior department Director General of the Office of National Unity and Community Protection (DITJEN KESBANG dan LINMAS) in official notes number: 578/ND/KESBANG/DIV/VI/2000, 9th June 2000 by radiogram Governor (Caretaker) head level 1 Irian Jaya, No. BB.091/POM/060200, dated june 2000, and No: 190/1671/SET/ dated 3rd June 2000. The primary goal is a plan and operation of regional conditioning, development of communication networks and the establishment of provinces and districts in Iran Jaya (Papua).

Implementing this operation of conditioning and expansion is the Interior Department, Department of Defence and Security, Department of Foreign Affairs, especially for diplomatic operations, Indonesian Police, Indonesian Military (TNI), the State Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Bakin), Strategic National Intelligence Agency (BAIS ), SPAM, AD Hearquarters, ASTER, KASTER TNI, SINTEL Headquarters, National Police (POLRI), Army Strategic Reserve Command (KOSTRAD), and Special Forces Command (KOPASSUS), Regional Leaders Forum Iran Jaya (Paupa) Province and other provinces.

Another document is a document from the National Security Council Secretary General, Jakarta, May 27 and May 28, 2003 on ‘Strategy for Conflict Resolution with separatist contexts in Papua Province through a political approach to security’ (this document can be seen in my book: “Voice for the Voiceless” Dumma Socratez Sofyan Yoman: 2009; pg. 117-118).

These two documents show the face and militaristic character of the Indonesian Government that annexed and occupies West Papua, and colonises Indigenous occupants, Melanesian people through political engineering since May 1st, 1963, the 1969 Referendum, and legislation Act 21, Year 2001 on Special Autonomy to this day. After annexation, to this date West Papua is seen by the Indonesian Government without an interest in the principles of justice and humanity along with the future survival of the people – the owners, heirs to the country and land of West Papua. The Indonesian Government administers West Papua as a problematic region and conflict area that needs to be resolved by a security approach. Although a security approach is evidently a total failure and the cause of human rights violations that are ruthless and grieve the heart of God’s people.

The expansion of districts / cities and provinces on a large scale if viewed from requirements such as: population, territory, natural resources and human resources; from all of these requirements in relation to total population and the readiness of human resources it is very ironic. Because the total population of Indigenous Papuans is only 1.5 million that does not need many districts/cities and provinces throughout Papua. Many districts/cities and provinces also need human resources that can fulfil the rank and stratification to occupy positions – both structural and functional positions.

Consequences of the large-scale expansion of districts/cities and provinces in West Papua are:

  1. The sending of officials from outside Papua to occupy important and strategic positions when Indigenous people cannot yet fulfil the criteria of rank, skill, experience, level of education.
  2. The sending and coming of people from outside to take economic opportunities in the regional expansion and the marginalisation and destruction of Indigenous people. Mr Juan Mendez, UN Secretary General Special Adviser in the field of Prevention of Genocide, stated: “West Papua is one area that is very alarming because the indigenous population is in danger of annihilation”. Yale University, USA, and the University of Sydney released a report that in Papua there is ethnic cleansing of Indigenous Papuans occurring.
  3. Construction of military and police bases for reasons of national security along with security and safety of settlers.
  4. Dispossession of the people for reasons of building government offices.
  5. Appropriation of community land for the purpose of building large shops, malls, supermarkets, mega-hotels and restaurants.
  6. The destruction of mountains and hills of the people.
  7. Destruction of sago and palm trees as a resource for income and peoples’ lives.
  8. Destruction and pollution of water owned by original inhabitants.

The Indonesian government and security forces have failed to build and instil the ideologies of Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, The Unitary Republic of Indonesia, Unity in Diversity into Papua’s original inhabitants. On the contrary, the Government and the Indonesian security forces have been successfully built and strengthened ideology of West Papuan Independence by nurturing separatist stigma, rebellion and OPM. This is a fatal mistake made by the Government and security forces over the years. The approach of the Government and Security forces which does not respect human dignity, to this day has alienated the people’s hearts from Indonesia. The Indonesian government and security forces with violence have only managed to integrate (Papua) economically and politically into Indonesia. The Indonesian government really occupies, colonises and marginalises Papua’s original inhabitants.

Due to the failure of the Indonesian Government in Papua, Dr George Junus Aditjondro said: “The problems in Papua have been very difficult to resolve. Therefore, there is no other option but to follow the passionate demands of the people of Papua who want a referendum. And the Indonesian Government must immediately withdraw from Papua. Only a referendum can determine whether the Papuans still want to be part of Indonesia or not “(George’s Commentary at the launch of a book entitled:” West Papua: International Issues “, in the Kontras Office, Jakarta, Thursday, 11/3/2011).

“It’s only a matter if time, if we like it or not, want it or not, we will lose Papua because we have failed to capture the hearts of Papuans and this has been the problem from the beginning.” (Dr.Adnan Buyung Nasution, S.H. : source: Detiknews, Thursday, 16 December 2011).

“I know, I understand and also I’m aware that which I devote here. Therefore, if you are certain or not, believe or not, like or not, are happy or not, sooner or later West Papuans will gain independence and stand alone as one people and nation sovereign over their ancestor’s land. In this confidence and spirit, whatever the risk of people’s opinions and commentary, with firm believe and determination of conscience, I dedicate my knowledge to writing books of cultural history and every occurrence upon this land. So that the children and grandchildren of this nation, into the future, will learn that this nation has experienced a long history and long, bitter and unspeakable suffering perpetrated by the Indonesian Government.” (Ita Wakhu Purom, Numbay (Jayapura), West Papua, Thursday, June 9, 2011, 21:17 WP). This statement of faith has been immortalized in my 13th book entitled: “West Papua: An International Problem” (Yoman: 2011, p.4).

“Upon this rock I place the civilisation of Papuan people, although people possess high intelligence, reason and Marifa, they cannot lead this nation, this nation will rise up and lead itself” (Wasior, Manokwari, October 25, 1925, Rev.. IS Kijne ).

*Author: Chairman of the Board of the Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Papua.

West Papuan Conflict Begs Political Solution

(note: West Papua Media assisted with this piece)

Originally published by InterPress Service at http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=106215
Analysis by Catherine Wilson

SYDNEY, Dec 14, 2011 (IPS) – The Indonesian government’s offer of development for West Papua, following the crackdown by security forces on a pro-independence meeting in Jayapura in October, is unlikely to succeed in the absence of political dialogue and calls for self-determination are expected to continue. 

For half a century, the indigenous population of the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua in western New Guinea, who are ethnically and culturally related to Melanesians of the neighbouring Pacific Islands, have campaigned for the self-government first initiated as Dutch colonial rule ended in the early 1960s.

The First Papuan People’s Congress in 1961 was part of decolonisation but thwarted by incorporation of the territory into Indonesia after the United Nations-supervised ‘Act of Free Choice’ on the political future of West Papua in 1969 was apparently manipulated to guarantee a majority vote for integration.

The granting of Special Autonomy in 2001, following the Second Papuan Congress, failed to improve the social and economic status or political freedoms of West Papuans.

The Third Papuan Congress led by Selpius Bobii, Papuan Chair of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB), was convened in Abepura, Jayapura, with approximately 5,000 attending despite the heavy presence of Indonesian security forces.

At the close of the congress on Oct. 19, and following declaration of an independent West Papua, violence broke out as security officers triggered guns to disperse the crowd, fired tear gas and arrested approximately 300 participants.

Indonesian human rights organisation, Kontras, reported evidence of security forces committing “killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and deeds of other inhumane and excessive use of force” against congress participants, while those arrested suffered “acts of violence in the form of beatings with wood, the barrels of guns and were kicked and beaten.”

Six delegates are now dead and the six who remain arrested, including Selpius Bobii, Forkorus Yaboisembut, Chair of the Papuan Customary Council, and Edison Waromi, president of the West Papua National Authority, are charged with treason.

Large pro-independence demonstrations across the provinces over the past year have been galvanised by escalating frustration at ten years of failed Special Autonomy, impunity of human rights abuses by security forces and the government’s promotion of Indonesian migration to Papua and West Papua, resulting in an indigenous demographic minority.

Concurrently the movement has been boosted by the Vanuatu Government’s decision in 2010 to include support for West Papuan Independence in its foreign policy and a high profile International Lawyers for West Papua conference in Britain in August.

Camellia Webb-Gannon, West Papua project co-ordinator, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, explained: “The central government has failed to pass crucial legislation that would have allowed Special Autonomy to be fully implemented.

“The splitting of West Papua into two provinces undermined Special Autonomy and started the process of ‘pemekeran’ through which Papua and West Papua are being administratively fragmented and thus weakened. Many of the freedoms promised under Special Autonomy, such as the right to fly the (separatist) Morning Star flag, have since been revoked.”

While the government also devolved responsibility for substantial revenues from the giant Freeport-McMoRan-owned Grasberg copper and gold mine in Timika, which generates 50 percent of Papua’s GDP, the province has the lowest human development index in Indonesia.

“Although Papua and West Papua are awash with funds flowing back from the centre, the extent of corruption at the provincial and local administrative levels mean that most of this money never makes its way to the projects and people that need it most,” said Webb-Gannon.

Special Autonomy funds prop up elite corruption and perpetuate military rent-seeking behaviour as there is inadequate restriction on and monitoring of these funds, Webb-Gannon added.

While Indonesia fears secession could lead to national disintegration, ‘makar’ treason laws criminalise separatist demonstrations and the government benefits substantially from the province’s natural resources.

Indonesia has emerged as a strong democracy since the end of the militaristic Suharto regime in 1998, but the power of the armed forces remains extant and their role in human rights abuses, corruption and extortion largely immune to challenges from the state or civil society.

Human Rights Watch reports that: “New allegations of security force involvement in torture emerged in 2010, but the military consistently shields its officers from investigations and the government makes little effort to hold them accountable. Nor was there any progress on a bill before parliament that would give civilian courts jurisdiction to try soldiers accused of committing abuses against civilians.”

Illegal activities of the Indonesian military (Tentara Nasional Indonesia) or TNI in the Papuan provinces includes drug smuggling, prostitution, trade of tropical birds, legal and illegal logging operations, gambling and extorting payments from local villagers.

Corruption watchdog, Global Witness, also revealed in 2005 payments of millions of dollars to the TNI from the Freeport mining company for security services at the Grasberg mine, where recent violent confrontations between the TNI and workers, who have been striking since Sep. 15 over pay grievances, resulted in the death of a miner in mid-October.

Now the Indonesian government has announced the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua will be fast tracking development, overseeing allocation of autonomy funds and initiating dialogue with local civilian groups.

Neles Tebay, a priest with the Catholic Diocese of Jayapura, who is campaigning for peace talks, said: “The West Papuan people have not been treated as human beings and the trust has been broken. Trust between the Indonesian government and Papuan people will not be easy.”

Tebay believes that the Indonesian president should appoint a special envoy to initiate political dialogue with West Papuan political representatives.

Positive government pronouncements currently overlook the main demand of the Third Papuan Congress Declaration, namely termination of Indonesian occupation.

“In Timor, a referendum led to the transformation of the peoples’ aspirations and this is what many of the current generation of activists in West Papua are pushing for,” Webb-Gannon said.

(END)

new West Papua report criticises International Crisis Group

The latest report from the West Papua Project at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Sydney University, entitled Get up, stand up: West Papuans stand up for their rights. The report is a rebuttal of the International Crisis Group Report No. 188, Radicalisation and Dialogue in Papua, and an analysis of the recent events through which West Papuans have united against Special Autonomy and for a referendum on independence.Get up, stand up writen by Dr. Jim Elmslie and Camellia Webb Gannon with Prof. Peter King and was launched on Wednesday July 6 at the University of Sydney.

This report begins with a response to ICG Report No. 188, Radicalisation and Dialogue in Papua, released in March 2010. It finds that the ICG report is flawed in declaring the KNPB (Komite Nasional Papua Barat –the West Papua National Committee) responsible
for several recent acts of violence in West Papua. These include: an attack on the police station in Abepura in April 2009; arson at the Cenderawasih University in Abepura in April 2009, and killings around the Freeport mine since June 2009 through to January 2010. The ICG’s evidence supporting these assertions is examined in detail and found to be insufficient.

The evidence the ICG relies upon includes selective quoting from Indonesian tabloid press reports, hearsay and discredited interrogation testimonies. A major omission of the ICG’s report is that its authors did not interview the person they identified as the main actor in these events, Victor Yeimo, to give him a chance to respond to the allegations made against him.

The ICG report characterises the KNPB and its vice chairperson Victor Yeimo as militantly radical, promoting the use of violence for achieving the political goal of a referendum on Papuan independence. We have found instead that the KNPB is primarily a media and information clearing house that expresses mainstream views held by a wide spectrum of Papuan civil society and political organisations, as well as the armed wing of the OPM. The KNPB also organises peaceful demonstrations promoting such developments as International Parliamentarians for West Papua, launched at Westminster in 2008.

All this matters because the ICG is widely considered to be a definitive voice in conflict analysis internationally, and its findings are therefore to be taken very seriously. Only weeks after the ICG report was released, major military operations commenced in the highlands of Papua, with very grave consequences for civilian populations living in those areas. The ICG report strengthens the Indonesian government’s position that they are fighting violent guerillas in West Papua rather than a legitimate, popularly backed
resistance movement and the ICG’s views have been echoed in international reporting on the conflict. Furthermore, Victor Yeimo himself is facing serious charges of rebellion for exercising his democratic right to peaceful demonstration, and the ICG report can be seen as compromising the legitimacy of his trial by dangerously skewing perceptions of him and his organisation.

In fleshing out the reality of the KNPB, we have interviewed various key Papuan activists, both in country and in the diaspora, to canvass their views on the KNPB and the level of support for its goals. We have found a high level of support for the organisation and its aims, which undermines the ICG claims that the KNPB’s views are somehow
extremist. All this was brought into sharp relief on June 18, 2010 when a landmark meeting of the peak Papuan representative bodies including the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua—the all-Papuan upper house of the Papuan parliament in Jayapura) and leading West Papuan intellectuals and theologians issued 11 recommendations rejecting Special Autonomy and calling for a referendum on independence in West Papua. A march of some thousands of people formally delivered these findings to the Papuan People’s Representative Council, the lower house or DPRP, demanding that the legislators in turn ‘give back’ Special Autonomy to the central government in Jakarta.

Reflecting the level of West Papuan internal and external coordination, almost simultaneously in Vanuatu, which hosts a representative office of the West Papuan National Coalition for Liberation, a motion was passed in parliament explicitly
supporting independence for West Papua and committing the Vanuatu government to work towards that goal, regionally and internationally. This latter commitment would include sponsoring a motion at the United Nations General Assembly to ask the International Court of Justice for an ‘advisory opinion’ on the legality of Indonesia’s
official takeover of West Papua in 1969.

The above events taken together represent a huge challenge for the international community which to date has endlessly repeated its support for the Special Autonomy package as a legitimate, viable way to resolve the West Papua conflict. Indonesia’s obstinacy in failing to implement much of the package has shredded any credibility it
may have had in the eyes of Papuans. While not universally dismissing the Indonesian Institute of Social Sciences (LIPI) Papua Road Map that advocates dialogue, mainstream West Papuan opinion, as evidenced by the June demonstrations and recommendations, is calling for a referendum for independence in addition to dialogue with Jakarta. This will prove a considerable challenge for President Yudhoyono.

In this pressure-cooker situation, the simmering discontent of the West Papuans may well explode. The ICG report has correctly identified the spectre of a civilian massacre along the lines of the Santa Cruz cemetery massacre in Dili, Timor Leste, in 1991. The Papuans have already indicated they intend to push their demands further through non-violent mass protests, which in the past have incurred a heavy-handed military and police response. However the Papuans feel a sense of desperation in their need to attract
international attention to their cause in the face of stonewalling by Jakarta and the ongoing massive inward migration by Indonesians from other provinces. The problems in West Papua were initially created through colonial interference. Should the situation in West Papua deteriorate radically, there would be profound implications for Indonesia as well as Australia, the United States, Papua New Guinea and the European Union. West Papua has become a serious and seriously neglected international issue. It is time to treat it accordingly.