Tag Archives: Suharto

End the theft, end the violence, close Freeport now Joint statement in solidarity with Freeport Indonesia worker – Indonesian Labour Unions

October 20, 2011

PT Freeport Indonesia,  a subsidiary of Freeport McMoran Cooper and Gold – of which 90.64 percent of the shares are owned by Freeport CEO James R. Moffet – is the largest mining company in the world. Freeport contributes 95 percent of the entire production of gold by Freeport McMoran and a significant percentage of its copper production.The controversial corporation obtained the exploration and mining rights through Work Contract I, several months before the enactment of Law Number 1/1967 on Foreign Capital Investment and Law Number 11/1967 on the Basic Provisions of Mining during the rule of the New Order regime of former President Suharto. Odd but true!

Work Contract I was then renewed by Suharto in 1991. As a result Work Contract II will expire in 2040 and the area of exploration and exploitation was extended to cover 6.5 percent of the total territory of Papua province. It also includes the right to conduct of underground exploration. Freeport began operating 44 years ago but it was not until 1971 that the company began extracting minerals (gold, copper, silver, molybdenum and rhenium).

In the first decade of its operations, Freeport extracted more than 1 million tons of gold, copper and shiver annually. By 2010 this had reached 3.4 million tons a year. Freeport reaps profits of as much as 114 billion rupiah a day, so in one year Freeport’s net profit is a high as 41.04 trillion or US$45.60 billion.

The irony is that the total combined wages of all Freeport’s employees is only 1.4 trillion rupiah a year or $2.1-3.5 dollars US per hour. This is far lower than the wages received by Freeport workers in other countries who receive US$15 or 128,250 rupiah per hour. The proportion received by workers is only 3.4 percent of Freeport’s total profits and 60 percent of its net profit are turned over to Freeport McMoran.

Based on this compression, it is understandable that the Freeport Indonesia All Indonesia Workers Union (SPSI) is demanding a wage increase of between US$17.5 to US$43 per hour. Never mind that Freeport workers in the US receive 30-250 dollars US per hour. Meanwhile the wage increase awarded to Freeport Indonesia workers every two years have only been US40c an hour.

The Freeport Indonesia management meanwhile has responded to workers’ demands with accusations of separatism, psychological intimidation, prohibiting workers from joining the strike, criminalisation of workers and most recently repressive acts by police that resulted in the fatal shooting of two people, Petrus Ayamiseba and Leo Wandagau, and the wounding of seven others.

Acts of violence involving Freeport are not new. During its 44 years of theft, there have been numerous cases of violence in Papua and the Freeport mining area of Timika against Freeport workers and indigenous Papuans.

This clearly demonstrates that Freeport is using violence as a tool and means to secure its vital assets. And, of course, the state since the time of the Suharto regime through to the current administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono, has fully supported Freeport’s interests.

It is already public knowledge that since the 1970s Freeport Indonesia has been providing a huge sums of money for security. A number of documents have cited that between 1998 and May 2004, Freeport paid at least 20 million dollars (around 184 billion rupiah) to the TNI (Indonesian military) and the police in Papua. There has also been an additional 10 million dollars (around 92 billion rupiah) paid to the military and police over this period bringing the total to around 276 billion rupiah. And as admitted by the Papuan regional police themselves, out of a total of 720 police and military personnel that are deployed in the Freeport exploration area, each officer receives 1.25 million rupiah a month in additional wages outside of regular funds.

In contrast to this, in 2011 the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) recorded that the poverty rate in Papua province stood at 80.07 percent or 1.5 million people living in poverty. This is clear evidence that Freeport does not provide any contribution to the welfare of the Papuan people.

Freeport, which is the largest gold and cooper mine in the world, not only steals the country’s natural wealth, muzzles democracy, violates human rights and impoverishes the Papuan people, but also destroys the environment. In a single day of operation, Freeport disposes 230,000 tons of waste into the Aghawagon River and other rivers in the vicinity. The acid rock drainage, or the disposal water containing acid (around 360,000-510,000 tons a day), has already destroyed two valleys covering an area of 6.5 kilometers to a depth of 300 meters.

It becomes increasingly clear that there are no grounds to for Freeport Indonesia to be allowed to continue its exploration and mining activities. Freeport must be closed down!

Based upon the fact above we make the following demands:

– The withdraw all non-organic TNI and police personnel from the Freeport area and Papua
– The arrest of James Moffet, Freeport Indonesia President Director Armando Muhler, Freeport Executive Vice President Sinta Sirait and company spokesperson Ramdani Sirait
– The broadest possible dialogue for the Papuan people that is democratic and free from coercion
– A full investigation into human rights violations at Freeport and in Papua;
– An end to union busting
– An end to the use of contract labour
– An international standard wage
– Freeport must be held liable for its past and current crimes
– Dismiss the national police chief, the Papua regional police chief and the Timika district police chief
– Freeport must take responsibility for the environmental damage it has caused

We call on all people, let us unite. We are the 99 percent in the world who are oppressed. Freeport, James Moffet, President Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono, the political elite and the Indonesian political parties that benefit from Freeport, are the 1 percent that oppresses the rest of us. Yesterday it was Petrus Ayamiseba and Leo Wandagau who were murdered. Next anyone who resists will suffer the same fate. We must therefore unite, act in solidarity and fight back!

44 years of theft, 44 years of state protection, end the violence and close Freeport now

Jakarta, October 20, 2011

Tri Puspital
Public Relations Officer

This joint statement is supported by:

The Student Alliance Against Neoliberalism (AMAN), the Working People’s Association (PRP), the People’s Liberation Party (PPR), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Papua Student Alliance (AMP), the Free Women’s National Network (Perempuan Mahardika), the Papuan Traditional Social Community Against Corruption (Kampak), the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI), the National Solidarity Committee (KSN), the Papuan NGO Forum for Cooperation (Foker Papua), the PT Freeport Indonesia All Indonesia Workers Union (SPSI PT FI), the National Students Front (FMN), the Association of Independent Trade Unions (GSBI), the Indonesian Independent Union (SMI), the Greater Jakarta Workers Federation of Struggle (FPBJ), the Indonesian Center for Labour Struggle (PPBI), the Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (PEMBEBASAN), the Indonesian Transportation Trade Union of Struggle (SBTPI), the Working People’s Association-Organisational Saviours Committee (KPO-PRP), the Green Indonesia Union (SHI), the State Electricity Company Trade Union (SP-PLN) and the United Student Action (KAM Laksi).

[Translated by James Balowski.]

A history of violence at Indonesia mine/AJE

Rio Tinto has cosy ties with the Indonesian military, who have a long history of human rights abuses.
Freeport’s James Moffett has said ‘there is no alternative’ to the company’s reliance on the Indonesian military [EPA]

Investing in conflict-affected and high-risk areas is a growing concern for responsible businesses and investors. Companies based in developed countries often operate in lesser-developed foreign markets, where governance standards are lax, corruption is high and business practices are poor.

These pieces focus on one specific Anglo-Australian company and their American partner that jointly operate a mine in West Papua, one of the poorest provinces of Indonesia. The risks for the company include the potential to contribute to environmental and social damage in a foreign market. The risks for investors include financing a company that does not get its risk management right.

This is the third chapter of a four-part essay that examines how the Norwegian Pension Fund came to blacklist the mining giant Rio Tinto. The first part can be found here, and the second part can be found here.

In February 1995, Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto announced three deals that secured access into Grasberg, a massive gold and copper mine in the Indonesian province of West Papua.

First, Rio Tinto agreed to invest $500m of new capital in Arizona-based mining corporation Freeport for a 12 per cent stake in the US business. Second, Rio Tinto agreed to finance a $184m expansion of the Grasberg mine. In return, it received 40 per cent of post-1995 production revenue that exceeded certain output targets and, from 2021, a 40 per cent stake in all production. Finally, Rio Tinto would receive 40 per cent of all production from new excavations elsewhere within West Papua.

Rio Tinto was effectively doing business with Indonesian dictator Suharto, too.

In response, Freeport told shareholders that Rio Tinto would “contribute substantial operating and management expertise” through proportional representation on the board – as well as on various Grasberg operating and technical committees, from which the “policies established by the [board] will be implemented and operation will be conducted”.

Speaking of the “exceptional potential” of the deal, Rio Tinto’s then chief executive, Robert Wilson, agreed that“given [Rio Tinto’s] experience in other major open-pit copper ore bodies such as Bingham Canyon, Palabora and Escondida, we anticipate considerable mutual benefit”.

Rio Tinto obviously liked how Freeport-Indonesia did business, especially at Grasberg.

US government: Grasberg contravenes the Foreign Assistance Act

By October 1995, an independent US government agency had cancelled Freeport’s international political risk insurance. The insurer, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), specifically cited the Grasberg mine operation as contravening the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which required that “overseas investment projects do not pose unreasonable or major environmental hazards or cause the degradation of tropical forests”. Freeport was the first policyholder to be terminated by the OPIC for ethical violations, despite President Suharto and Freeport director Henry Kissinger heavily lobbying the US government to reinstate the policy. Following OPIC’s decision, the company did not disclose the environmental performance of the mine again until 2003 – it no longer had to.

For a brief time in 2000 and 2001, a particularly sympathetic Indonesian environment minister, Sonny Keraf, pursued numerous avenues to impose penalties and fines on Grasberg, including an unsuccessful attempt to invoke the criminal section of the 1997 Environmental Law to cease Freeport-Indonesia’s riverine method of tailings disposal, by which the corporation fed the mine’s waste product into nearby rivers. Under pressure for his pursuit of the part-Indonesian-owned Freeport, Keraf was replaced following the 2001 election.

As Suharto’s reign came to an end, an increasing number of West Papuans also began to campaign against the environmental and social impact of Grasberg. Papuan leaders brought the matter before the US Federal District Court in April 1996 and before the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights of the US House of Representatives in May 1999. Many more attempts, including one to address shareholders at Rio Tinto’s 1998 annual general meeting in London, were foiled by Indonesian authorities.

Building on restrictions introduced in 1991, the US government banned arms transfers to Indonesia for widespread human rights violations in East Timor in 1999. Consequently, Freeport’s payments to the Indonesian military and security forces were more closely scrutinised. The Wall Street Journal found that, between 1991 and 1997, Freeport guaranteed more than $500m in loans so that Suharto’s family and allies could purchase a stake in the mine – a great portion of which was written off by Freeport in 2003.

An outspoken Australian academic, Lesley McCulloch, also found that the 1996 Timika riots adjacent to the Grasberg mine led to a spike in monetary demands by the Indonesian military, resulting in the funding of a $35m army base. Freeport and Rio Tinto refused to disclose details of the payments.

A history of violence

Then in August 2002, two US teachers and an Indonesian employee of Freeport-Indonesia were murdered at the Grasberg mine complex. Following one rebel’s admission that he was a business partner of the Indonesian military, several New York City pension (superannuation) funds formally requested that Freeport disclose the nature of its Indonesian “security” payments. The shareholders were concerned that such payments violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Although Freeport was not required to put the proposal to shareholders, the company did begin to disclose its security-related payments. Filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission since 2001 have confirmed annual payments reaching an average $5m each year for government-provided security of the Grasberg complex and its staff – and fluctuating annual costs reaching $12m for unarmed, in-house security costs. A spokesman for the company later told the Jakarta Post that these payments had been taking place since the 1970s.

Sporadic accounts began to surface – in the Sydney Morning HeraldJakarta Post, and New York Times – quoting internal sources that confirmed that the Indonesian had masterminded the killings to extort monies from the Grasberg operators. “Not surprisingly, the Indonesian military has exonerated itself,” US Congressmen Joel Hefley and Tom Tancredo said in June 2003. “American investigative teams, including the FBI, have not been able to complete their investigations mainly due to the Indonesian military’s refusal to co-operate and tampering of evidence.”

Freeport remained steadfastly opposed to later demands by New York City pension fund investors to cease all payments to the Indonesians until they complied with official US investigations into the August 2002 murders. At the 2004 annual general meeting, president and chief executive Richard Adkerson advised shareholders: “The management and Board believe that the stockholder proposal mischaracterises the company’s relationships with Indonesian security institutions and suggests actions that would undermine the company’s relationship with the Indonesian government and the security of the company’s operations.”

Despite the ongoing human rights and corruption concerns in West Papua – including a report by the World Bank and a letter by US senators to then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan calling for the appointment of a special representative to Indonesia – after a vote by shareholders, the resolution was not passed.

On March 23, 2004, Rio Tinto announced it had sold its 11.9 per cent shareholding in Freeport. Rio Tinto made a $518m profit. Citing no environmental or social reasons, Rio Tinto’s then-chief executive Leigh Clifford reassured shareholders that “the sale of [Freeport] does not affect the terms of the joint venture nor the management of the Grasberg mine” and that through “our significant direct interest in Grasberg, we will continue to benefit from our relationship with Freeport”.

Rio Tinto remained committed to the mining of Grasberg and would continue overseeing its management through various operating and technical committees.

Sensational claims that illegal payments to individual soldiers, units, and policemen had been routinely made to secure the Grasberg complex and its staff came to light in 2005. A report by Global Witness revealed that an additional $10m had been paid directly to individual military and police commanders between 1998 and 2004. This included $247,000 between May 2001 and March 2003 to General Mahidin Simbolon, former head of the 1999 East Timor massacre, and monthly payments throughout 2003 to the police Mobile Brigade – a group cited by the US State Department as having “continued to commit numerous serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and arbitrary detention”.

With the US arms trade embargo still in place, Rio Tinto had reassured the market that payments to the Indonesian military were “legally required and legitimate” only months before the news broke. Now Rio Tinto and Freeport-Indonesia came under even greater public pressure. At Rio Tinto’s next shareholder meeting, after several West Papuans refugees made statements to the board on Grasberg, shareholder activist Stephen Mayne suggested that “the most appropriate thing for Rio Tinto to do would be to exit”. After confirming that Rio Tinto’s contractual obligations would permit such a move, then-chairman Sir Rod Eddington informed shareholders that they “make a considerable effort to ensure that the best that Rio Tinto can offer to Freeport in the management of that venture is available to them”.

An Indonesian ministerial decree in 2007 demanded that the security of “vital national objects” – such as Grasberg – be handed over to the police within six months. Evidence obtained by world news service AFP suggests this is not happening. In a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Freeport disclosed additional direct payments of “less than” $1.6m in 2008 to 1,850 soldiers, despite the fact that 447 policemen make up the official number of personnel responsible for security at the Grasberg complex.


The company’s 2008 Sustainable Development report confirms that Freeport-Indonesia makes contributions to “security institutions (including both police and military)”. Alarmingly, according to Amnesty International, as recently as 2008 there have been fundamental human rights violations such as the “torture, excessive use of force and unlawful killings by police and security forces” – reports that have subsequently been confirmed by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders and the United Nations Committee against Torture.

“There is no alternative to our reliance on the Indonesian military and police,” Freeport chairman James Moffett said to the New York Times in 2005. “The need for this security, the support provided for such security, and the procedures governing such support, as well as decisions regarding our relationships with the Indonesian government and its security institutions, are ordinary business activities.”

Part 4 to follow next week.

This is an extract of a chapter from the book, Evolutions in Sustainable Investing: Strategies, Funds and Thought Leadership, to be published by Wiley in December 2011.

NAJ Taylor is a PhD candidate in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland, and casual lecturer in the Faculty of Law and Management at La Trobe University.

Follow NAJ Taylor on Twitter: @najtaylordotcom

BBC: US Firm Freeport Struggles To Escape Its Past In Papua

August 8, 2011By Karishma Vaswani BBC News, JakartaThe US mining firm Freeport McMoRan has been accused of everything from polluting the environment to funding repression in its four decades working in the Indonesian province of Papua. A recent spate of strikes by workers has brought all those uncomfortable allegations back to the surface.

“Ask any Papuan on the street what they think of Freeport, and they will tell you that the firm is a thief,” said Neles Tebay, a Papuan pastor and co-ordinator of the Papua Peace Network which campaigns for more rights for local people.

“It is in the interests of the Indonesian government that Freeport stays in Papua because it pays so much money to the state.”

For decades, a small number of Papuans have fought an armed struggle for independence from Indonesia.

But Neles Tebay believes the US mining firm plays a crucial role in that struggle: “Papua will never become independent as long as Freeport is in Papua.”

Yet Freeport says it provides vital jobs and wealth to the people of Papua. It is a decades-old row.

Massive profits

In the mid-1960s, Indonesia was undergoing a political transformation – and facing potential economic collapse. The government led by General Suharto was desperate to gain legitimacy with the international investment community – a hard task when Indonesia was seen as a risky market.

Suharto got the legitimacy he was looking for in 1967 – when Freeport became the first foreign company to sign a contract with the new government. In exchange, Freeport got access to exploration and mining rights for one of the most resource rich areas in the world.

In 1988, Freeport literally struck gold, finding one of the largest known deposits of gold and copper in the world at Grasberg in Papua.

Today, Freeport is one of Indonesia’s biggest tax-payers. In the last five years the firm says it has paid about $8bn (£5bn) in taxes, dividends and royalties to the Indonesian government. In the second quarter of this year alone, the company saw its profits double to $1.4bn.

But all of that money has yet to buy Freeport the reputation it needs in Papua. Thousands of Papuan workers walked out last month complaining about their wages, which they say are a fraction of what their international counterparts get.

Most Papuans believe that a contract Freeport signed with the Indonesian government in 1967 is invalid, because it was signed two years before Papua was officially incorporated into Indonesia by a controversial referendum.

The company says it signed a new 30-year contract with the Indonesian government in 1991, with provisions for two 10-year extensions.

But Papuans dispute the length of the deal, and the number of extensions Freeport has been able to get from the Indonesian government. Critics say Suharto wrote a blank cheque for Freeport, allowing the company to operate in any way it chose with little regard for consequences.

“The initial contract started in 1967, and was meant to end in 1997,” said Singgih Wigado, director of the Indonesian Coal Society.

“But in 1991, Suharto’s government renewed it – and then extended it for another 30 years, so now it ends in 2021. But Freeport is also entitled to two extensions during this period – of 10 years each. So Freeport’s contract really only ends in 2041.”

‘Law unto themselves’

By then, environmentalists allege that Freeport will have not only ripped all of the mineral wealth from Papua’s soil but it will also have destroyed the local waterways and killed off the marine life in the rivers nearest to the mine.

The lobby group Indonesian Forum for the Environment accuses Freeport of dumping hazardous waste into rivers.

“We’ve seen no improvements in their operations. The local communities are suffering because of Freeport’s presence in Papua,” said the group’s Pius Ginting.

But Freeport disputes the claims, saying that it uses a river near the mine to transport waste and natural sediments to a large deposition area. This method, the company says, was chosen because studies showed it was the most feasible way of disposing of the waste, and the environmental impact caused by its waste material is reversible.

In a statement, the company argued that the current arrangement with the government was fair, and has resulted in significant benefits.

Some of those significant benefits include providing employment to scores of Indonesian police who are mandated by Indonesian law to protect the Grasberg mine. This used to be the job of the Indonesian military, who are still sometimes asked to provide extra support for the mine by the police.

Freeport estimates that it spent $14m on security-related expenses in 2010.

But human rights groups say Freeport is effectively financing the Indonesian military in Papua, and is turning a blind eye to the soldiers’ alleged human rights abuses in the province.

Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch says there are about 3,000 troops in the area, some of whom “tend to act as a law unto themselves”.

“They sometimes go beyond their duties of providing security to Freeport – and are also believed to be involved in illegal alcohol sales and prostitution,” he says.

The Indonesian military has consistently denied any wrongdoing in Papua.

Freeport defends its use of police and soldiers to guard the Grasberg mine, saying it is mandated under Indonesian law. Freeport has never been implicated in any human rights abuses allegedly committed by the Indonesian military in Papua.

Nevertheless, the company remains hugely controversial in the restive province.

“Freeport is a symbol of everything that is wrong with Papua,” said pastor Neles Tebay.

“Indigenous Papuans want to feel like they have control over their own future – and that means a right to safeguard their natural wealth.”

The BBC has requested to travel to Papua and visit the Grasberg mine, but access has so far been denied by Freeport.

Indonesia’s police are brutal and corrupt – and apparently untouchable

Report from The Economist

Nov 4th 2010 | Jakarta

TEN years ago, as Indonesia emerged from economic chaos and the military-backed Suharto regime, the government was everywhere planting seeds of democratic reform. Among them was to split the national police from the armed forces in 2000. Ever since Indonesia declared independence in 1945, the police had been the neglected, ill-equipped little brother of the army. The idea of detaching them was to make them solely responsible for law enforcement across the vast Indonesian archipelago, while the armed forces retreated to their barracks.

A decade on, this reform effort has worked—but not necessarily in the ways that its drafters envisioned. The army is relatively quiet these days, having been forced to begin selling its business interests and attempt, somehow, to modernise despite tiny budgets and antiquated equipment. What is more, it has not intervened in the democratic process.

The national police, meanwhile, have indeed managed to assert themselves as the country’s enforcers of law, including taking the initiative against Indonesia’s home-grown Islamist extremists. Unfortunately, capturing or killing terrorist suspects is just about the only thing they are applauded for these days. Most people see the police as a liability: deeply corrupt and untrustworthy.

The past several months have been particularly troubling, even by the force’s low standards. In late June Tempo, a prominent Indonesian news magazine, ran a cover story revealing that more than a dozen senior police officials had suspicious bank accounts, some of which held millions of dollars. A week later an anti-corruption activist who helped expose those bank accounts was brutally beaten by unknown men, apparently in retaliation.

In mid-August the police’s top brass were forced to admit that they had no evidence implicating two senior anti-corruption officials caught up in a sensational graft investigation in 2009. This gave credence to allegations that the police had conspired to frame the pair because of a personal grudge. Separately, on August 31st police officers in Central Sulawesi province fired into a crowd of people protesting the death of a local man in police custody. Five people were killed and 34 injured. In mid-September in West Papua province police killed two men and injured a woman after a traffic dispute boiled over.

Two days before the West Papua incident, the police’s counter-terrorism unit, Densus 88, was accused of torturing independence activists in Maluku province. The unit, funded by the United States and Australia, was alleged to have tortured the activists during a visit by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in early August.

The allegations came just as another Maluku separatist, Yusuf Sipakoly, died in custody of injuries his family claims were caused by torture at the hands of the police. The allegations fit a familiar pattern. Last year Amnesty International released a report detailing a pattern of widespread torture, sexual abuse and exploitation by police, and ill treatment of suspects during arrests, interrogation and detention in Indonesia. And the police have been accused of standing by as minority Christian groups in towns outside Jakarta have been repeatedly harassed in recent weeks by hardline Islamist groups. Police have even been accused of colluding with radicals in local extortion and thuggery rackets.

So far, aside from appointing an “anti-mafia” committee to help clean up the police as well as a corrupt judiciary, the president has shown little interest in reining in the force. Mr Yudhoyono, a retired army general, has refrained from punishing senior police officials for their long list of alleged transgressions. Sometimes he gives the impression of defending them. In early October the president nominated Timur Pradopo, the Jakarta police chief, to run the national force, despite allegations of his involvement in the killings of student demonstrators in the build-up to Suharto’s ejection from power back in May 1998, and again on a university campus later that year.

During his final press conference in late October the outgoing national police chief, Bambang Hendarso Danuri, attempted a mea culpa, apologising, profusely and repeatedly, for the excesses committed on his watch. The public, however, are unlikely to be forgiving. The force has had successes in its counter-terrorism operations, which have seen hundreds of terrorist suspects killed or put behind bars, including some of South-East Asia’s most wanted fugitives. But even that has come at a price. In September armed men attacked a police station in Medan, North Sumatra province, killing three officers, in an apparent retaliation for the capture or killing of terrorist suspects. The public was shocked by the ambush, but there was a notable absence of outward sympathy for the three slain officers. Given the force’s recent conduct, that kind of reaction could become depressingly familiar.

Groups Urge Obama Administration to Reject Dino Patti Djalal as Indonesia's Ambassador

Groups Urge Obama Administration to Reject Dino Patti Djalal as Indonesia’s Ambassador

Contact: John M. Miller  (ETAN) 718-596-7668
Ed McWilliams (WPAT) 401-568-5845 (until Sept. 21), 575-648-2078 (after)

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) are deeply concerned about the appointment of Dino Patti Djalal as the Indonesia’s Ambassador-designate to the United States. We urge President Obama to reject his credentials and urge Jakarta to send an Ambassador untainted by complicity with human rights violations and with greater credibility.

Ambassador Djalal was a defender of the Suharto dictatorship, and his career involved him in brutal repression. While defending the Indonesian security forces in East Timor (now independent Timor-Leste), he would often attack human rights investigators and organizations. He sought to portray the violence there as civil conflict among East Timorese, rather than resulting from repression of resistance to Indonesia’s illegal and brutal occupation.

The Suharto dictatorship and the Habibie government that followed promoted Djalal as Indonesia’s leading “expert” on East Timor. During that time, Djalal reportedly had close links with the Indonesian army’s intelligence agency.

In 1999, during and after East Timor’s historic UN-organized vote on independence, Djalal was based in East Timor as the spokesperson for the Satgas P3TT (the Indonesian “Task Force for Popular Consultation in East Timor”).  In that capacity he took the lead in the Task Force’s political initiatives.

As Task Force spokesman, Djalal quickly emerged as its leading political heavyweight, taking the lead in leveling false accusations against UNAMET (UN Assistance Mission for East Timor). In his official capacity Djalal also served as flack for the militias created and directed by the Indonesian military to terrorize the East Timorese population in the run-up to August 1999 vote. Those militias and their Indonesian security force allies repeatedly attacked East Timorese civilians, burning villages and assaulting churches in attempt to frighten the population into voting against independence. The militias also sought to intimidate the UN teams sent to prepare for the vote and the international media and humanitarian organizations in the country to monitor the process.

As international alarm over the excesses of the militias and their Indonesian military sponsors grew, Djalal played a key role in seeking to deflect criticism of the militias and the military.

Djalal denied the reality that militias were arming in the run-up to the vote and sought  to obscure militia and military atrocities against civilians in East Timor. He was a dogged critic of international journalists and human right organizations who sought to report these atrocities.

In the wake of East Timor’s overwhelming vote for independence, the Indonesian security forces and their militias rampaged throughout country exacting revenge for the people’s rejection of Jakarta’s rule. The militia and military attacks destroyed vital infrastructure and buildings. They targeted UN facilities and personnel, as well as international journalists, diplomats and other observers. Djalal was key in Jakarta’s unsuccessful efforts to deny the  reality of the which cost the lives of approximately 1,500 East Timorese, displaced two-thirds of its population, and destroyed 75 percent of East Timor’s infrastructure.

In diplomatic assignments in the U.S., Great Britain and Canada, Djalal focused on defending the role of the unreformed and abusive Indonesian military, including targeting of its foreign critics. More recently he has served as Presidential spokesperson.

Ambassador Djalal’s past as an apologist for the worst behavior of the Indonesian military and its minions augers poorly for international efforts, especially in the United States, to press for  justice and accountability for past human rights crimes and genuine reform of Indonesia’s security forces. As the situation in West Papua becomes increasingly tense, will Djalal serve as Indonesia’s Washington-based apologist for continued repression?

In the interest of promoting strengthened U.S.-Indonesian relations based on respect for human rights, ETAN and WPAT believe that the U.S. government should not accept Djalal’s credentials as Indonesia’s Ambassador to the United States.