Tag Archives: sweeping operations

Buchtar Tabuni’s house raided by Indonesian Police & Military for no apparent reason

Report from KNPB sources – independently verified by WPM

Jayapura,

26 SEPTEMBER 2013

Indonesian police and military forces on September 26 conducted a sweep of the home of Buchtar Tabuni ( Leader of the PNWP/West Papua National Parliament ) in Kamwolker Housing III Waena , Jayapura. Sweeping operation was led by the Jayapura Police Chief Commissioner Alfred Papare and Deputy Commissioner Kiki Kurnia, and the Police Chief Abepura sector, together with the Indonesian military forces in Abepura .

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The  raid occurred at 14.00 at Tabuni’s house as fully armed Indonesian police and military forces arrived with  4 cars and a truck.  The objectives and motivations of the sweeping operation is unknown, as is the reasons for searching the home Buchtar Tabuni.  This (type) of operation is normally done up in the forests to seek Tabuni .

By 14.30, a number of KNPB board members and its secretariat, led by the General Secretary and National Spokesman of KNPB Central together with a number of members, arrived at the scene of the raid.  The demanded to know the reasoning behind the sweeps and raids, but the police refused to answer and continued to perform the search and sweep at the PNWP Chairman’s  home.   Finally the KNPB Central members and administrators only could watch the security forces,  because the managers KNPB leadership were unsure about the performance of the security apparatus, after some police threatened members of the KNPB Board.

Still without knowing the cause of the search, at 16.00WPB the police and TNI members left the scene and went to the city of Jayapura ,  so at 16 .15 KNPB members of the board and left at the scene to the attend the secretariat of KNPB Central in Waena “Vietnam” village.

From this chronology, the question is raised: What happens to Buchtar Tabuni if they saw him? Fortunately Buchtar was not in there when the operation was conducted.KNPB, edited by West Papua Media

 

Thousands flee in fear of heavy civilian casualties as TNI begin Highlands reprisal offensive

Major Reprisals begin with house to house searches, village and church burnings in Tingginambut by Indonesian Security Forces after TPN shoot dead 8 Indonesian special forces soldiers.

from the West Papua Media investigative team*

February 28, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Special Investigative Report

Local communities around Sinak, Gurage, Mulia and Tingginambut in Puncak Jaya regency have felt the first effects of Indonesian military reprisals, after West Papuan independence guerrillas under General Goliat Tabuni confirmed that they had killed eight Indonesian special forces soldiers and four non-Papuan civilians on February 21 in two separate incidents.

The shootings were carried out after Kopassus officers continued to build military posts on a local sacred burial site, despite being requested not to by both community representatives and emissaries from the West Papua National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat  – TPN-PB) under Tabuni.  TPN spokespeople have said that the shootings were done “to assert West Papuan sovereignty against Indonesian colonial occupation”, and to assert West Papuan cultural rights to defend their customary practices against ongoing military brutality.

A spokesman for the Goliat Tabuni’s TPN-OPM command, Nikolas Tabuni, told West Papua Media in a statement that the killings were not without cause.

“Prior to the incident TNI had wanted to make a military post in the region of Tingginambut and the TPN OPM had sent a letter to the TNI asking them not to’ go ahead with the military post construction at Tingginambut.   As that is an area of which the land is formally claimed to be owned by the TPN OPM, and as it is also a sacred area under indigenous customary law of the indigenous community of that area. However TNI disregarded the request (in principle) and continued with the construction. As a result TPN OPM carried out the shooting on 21 February,” the statement read.
Nikolas Tabuni also denied statements from the Indonesian President and Police that the shootings were connected with Indonesian election campaigns in Papua.  “This shooting had absolutely nothing to do with the election of the Bupati (Regency leader) for the region of Ilaga in the Regency of Puncak Jaya in the Province of Papua, and had nothing to do with the general election of the Provincial Governor. The shooting was purely concerned with Papuan independence and the activities of the TNI in West Papua.”

Evidence of collective punishment emerges

Despite an effective information blockade imposed by thousands of Indonesian army (TNI) troops and Police, and unchallenged by a compliant Jakarta-based colonial media, detailed reports are beginning to filter through from independent sources in the area of the military offensive, painting a vastly different picture to that reported by Indonesian and international media since the shooting of the Kopassus soldiers.

TNI_puncak_jaya
TNI soldiers manning checkpoint near Sinak, Puncak Jaya (Photo: jpnn.com/ malanesia.com)

At least 1000 members of various Indonesian security forces are currently occupying and laying siege to entire communities around Puncak Jaya, with thousands more troops being sent in from other centres in Papua, according to local church, human rights, and  sources in contact with West Papua Media stringers across the conflict area.

TNI 753 Btn interrogating locals in Sinak (photo: Malanesia.com)
TNI 753 Btn interrogating locals in Sinak (photo: Malanesia.com)

According to these sources, the villages of Tingginambut, Trugi and Nelekom have been occupied by TNI forces since Sunday February 24, with villagers being forced to give all their food and houses to soldiers, and being subject to arbitrary and harsh interrogations.  TPN sources have also stated that troops are using the villages as strategic hamlets to prepare for a hunt and destroy mission to flush out the forces of Tabuni, who have claimed they are well prepared for guerrilla defence.

In Nambut and Gurake (Gurage) villages in Sinak District, security forces began to carry out house to house sweeping operations on February 26, and in villages in  Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya.  According to our sources, the TNI Commander in the area has commanded “that the sweeping operation is to be continued until the culprits from last Thursdays killings are arrested”.  The TNI have stated to local people they “need to see 11 persons sentenced,” according to the reliable source.

Two civilians were said to be arrested on February 27, according to Indonesian military reports, however independent sources could not confirm if any other civilians have been arrested.

As of February 26, at least 18 houses have been burned to the ground, 5 GIDI churches razed, 2 schools and a library have been destroyed by the combined Police/TNI forces in Tingginambut, according to reliable church sources who have safely relayed data from witnesses to West Papua Media stringers.   Witnesses have also reported that soldiers are deliberately burning and destroying food gardens and shooting livestock, including over one hundred pigs.  There are fears of a major humanitarian disaster unfolding with the reports of the destruction of food gardens and livestock, an act of collective punishment on a civilian population.

Thousands of people from the surrounding villages have fled to the high mountains and according to church sources, the entire community populations have fled throughout the area of Gurake, Sinak, Tinggi Neri, Trugi and Nelekom.  Exact numbers are not currently known but local sources indicate that several thousand people, mainly subsistence farmers, live in the area.

Human rights workers have also reported from Mulia in Puncak Jaya that townspeople are greeting news of the offensive with panic and preparing to flee.

Reports are difficult to verify as the only media personnel allowed into the operations area are those with approval from the Indonesian army, and very few of these journalist have actually ventured into the area.  Stringers for West Papua Media in Puncak Jaya and the Baliem Valley have reported that independent journalists and human rights workers have been prevented from travelling into the area by a de facto Military Operations Area being applied across the entire highlands, including the regional centre of Wamena.

Civilians are staying off the streets as reliable local sources report a massive combat army and police show of force, including house to house searches.  On the morning of February 28, witnesses have reported to West Papua Media stringers that 8 Brimob trucks have left

Troops patrolling Wamena - February 25 (photo: supplied)
Troops patrolling Wamena – February 25 (photo: supplied)

Wamena heading to Puncak Jaya this morning, with large numbers of troops patrolling the streets across Wamena also..

Thousands more troops flooding in to attempt to destroy Tabuni’s TPN.

Thousands of heavily armed combat soldiers from Battalions 751 (Jayapura), 753 (Nabire) , and supported by the Wamena 756 Batallion, are reportedly being flown into Tingginambut over the next few days from several centres across Papua.  They are joining together with over 1000 extra Brimob paramilitary police (in addition to the at least 1000 Polda Papua police already in the highlands), and allegedly several units of the notorious Australian-funded Detachment 88 anti-terror commando, to hunt for Tabuni’s forces.  Several media reports in Indonesia are also claiming a Kostrad (Strategic Reserve) battalion is being deployed from outside Papua, though this has not been independently confirmed.

Local sources have reported that each TNI platoon is accompanied by a platoon of police, as the operation is officially under control of the Police as a “law enforcement” operation.  However, the witnesses have reported that the TNI are clearly in command.   TNI spokespeople in Jakarta have told Indonesian media outlets that there is no plan to increase non-organic troop presence in the area, but local sources are reporting a vastly different story.

West Papua Media sources in Wamena observing the airport have confirmed that two TNI Puma Helicopters are involved in the operation constantly ferrying troops between Wamena and Tingginambut, and stopping only for refuelling and crew changes.  Three Hercules c130H aircraft have each made 3 drops to Wamena then the troops have entered by road from Wamena.   Observers in Nabire have also noted daily departures of three trucks of troops from the notorious Battalion 753 Nabire, to the west of the highlands to reinforce the offensive in Tingginambut.

Human rights and church sources in Puncak Jaya and internationally have expressed deep concern about the potential for heavy civilian casualties to occur with the intensified military campaign, given extra impetus after the Indonesian President, General Susilo Bambang Yudoyhono, called for firm action on Tabuni.

Multiple narratives from Jakarta

The exact circumstances of the deaths of the eight Kopassus special forces soldiers are now mired in claim and counter-claim, with soldiers’ personal accounts of the attack conflicting with the official narrative picked up by Jakarta media.  What is confirmed is that the eight commandos – Sertu (Chief Sergeant) Udine, Sertu Frans, Sertu Romadhon, Pratu (Private 1st class) Mustofa, Sertu Edy, Praka (Chief Private) Jojon, Praka Wempi and Sertu Mudin – were killed by a cascading attack led by guerrillas of Goliat Tabuni’s TPN group as they went to the Sinak airstrip to collect cellular monitoring equipment designed to track international phone communications in the area.

However, one survivor of the attack testified in the Jakarta Post that his group was attacked by men, women and children all carrying spears, machetes and knives.  According to the TNI survivors as relayed to JP, the platoon of Kopassus was unarmed at the time of the attack, which happened as the soldiers were installing and moving communications monitoring equipment.

Troops in Tingginambut after being shot at in helicopter by TPN, Feb 24 (Photo: TNI)
Troops in Tingginambut after being shot at in helicopter by TPN, Feb 21 (Photo: TNI)

TPN forces also opened fire on a Puma helicopter that was evacuating the wounded commandos, lightly injuring three helicopter crew.

West Papua Media sources have provided a highly credible and technical but unconfirmed report that two “very large weapons” that were being moved into Sinak, and went missing during the raid by TPN.  According to our sources, there is “extreme concern from the TNI around this particular issue.”

“Apparently they have been trying to find out the whereabouts of these weapons, which suggests they might be too heavy to quickly and easily move,” explained the source.  Further investigation is still required, but credible observers in the area believe that these heavy weapons may be artillery pieces – the presence of which in Puncak Jaya represents a serious and dangerous escalation of TNI hardware to be used against civilians.  West Papua Media believes any confirmed presence of artillery is connected with the TNI’s stated aim to destroy Goliat Tabuni’s group, but any use of these weapons will place a large number of civilians at risk.  It is not the first time the TNI have used artillery against West Papuan civilians: the Bloody Wamena massacres of 2000 and 2003, as well as the aerial bombardment campaigns in the 1977 and 1984.

Indonesian outrage fuels civil society questions on Papuan motivations for resistance

The killings of the soldiers have generated outrage in Jakarta, with nationalist politicians calling for cordon and destroy missions in what human rights observers have said amount to collective civilian punishment by an occupying force.

Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin – indicted as a war criminal

Indonesian Deputy Defence Minister Lieutenant-General (LG) (Rtd) Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin – indicted as a war criminal by the UN for his role in East Timor – on Friday ordered the TNI to conduct heavy “tactical actions” in order to prevent the shooting from occurring again.  “The tactical action includes to chase, apprehend and destroy,” the deputy minister said here on Friday.  He said the latest shootings by the separatist rebels did not affect TNI`s strategic policies in Papua. TNI so far did not have a plan to send more troops to Papua, he added.

However SBY also claimed in an interview with MetroTV that “no violence” would be used to solve the situation.  The situation on the ground has illustrated that security forces have no interest in making SBY’s words truthful.

Despite  the nationalist rhetoric, there are many in Indonesia who are seeing this as a wake up call to end Jakarta’s use of state violence against civilians in Papua as it default policy.

The Indonesian Regional Representatives Council, or DPD, called for a necessary cessation of military operations to end the prolonged violence in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces, according to a report in the Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

The presence of the non-organic personnel from TNI special forces cause animosity among Papuan groups, who have launched attacks against them, according to the report.  “If Jakarta wants to end violence, the militaristic approach has to stop, and all non-garrison troops from the military elite forces must be withdrawn from the two provinces because their presence and their irregular operations have triggered attacks on garrison troops and innocent civilians,” DPD deputy chairman Laode Ida said on Tuesday.

A coalition of Papuan human rights groups urged the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to conduct a thorough investigation into the soldiers’ killings, saying the presence of Komnas HAM could prevent human rights violations that occurred during TNI sweep operations after shooting incidents, according to a report in the Jakarta Globe.

“We encourage law enforcers to be professional in carrying out their tasks. They must ensure that their attempts to find the perpetrators do not turn into seeking revenge against all Papuans,” Ferry Marisan from the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam) said in Jayapura on Monday.

The TNI has loudly complained in Indonesian media of hurt feelings about the loss of its soldiers, with the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) leaders have been forced to apologise for “insensitive” remarks saying killing soldiers is not a human rights abuse.   But not all observers are showing sympathy for the loss of the soldiers lives, pointing to the fact that the military are occupying Papuan land against the wishes of the local people.

“One has to remember that soldiers who were shot were Kopassus special forces who have been involved in ongoing human rights abuses right across Puncak Jaya, including village burnings, collective arrests and punishment, burning of villages, and acts of torture.  Many observers suspect these soldiers were part of units involved in conducting many OTK (Unknown persons) shootings blamed on West Papuans,” a long time human rights worker in the highlands told West Papua Media by email.  “These are not innocence, nor babes in the woods; Kopassus are the original wolves in the forest.”

Still, other observers believe the actions point to an assertion of tribal identity, as a complex motivator behind the declaration of Papuan sovereignty inherent in the armed resistance against Indonesia’s militarist policy in the highlands.  An Australian church worker who worked for many years with highland communities in Puncak Jaya made the observation to West Papua Media that this was not simply an act of resistance to Indonesian colonisation, but an assertion of traditional and indigenous Papuan law and cultural survival against the onslaught of an occupying colonial army.

“This must be looked at from another perspective that is relevant.  As many indigenous communities including Australian Aboriginal Peoples and traditional highland Papuan people, observe around the world, if outsiders came into their sacred lands, they would also feel compelled at whatever cost to themselves to spear the outsider to compensate (violations of) their traditional law if they belonged to the clan that was legally responsible (under customary law) to guard that site,”  she explained.

“Indigenous Law is simply not negotiable on things like that. Things have only changed in Australia because non-Indigenous systems have for years now in Australia been locking up those indigenous peoples who have acted to maintain their law,” the former church worker explained.

“As I understand the TNI despite warnings were acting in a way that broke the Papuans’ traditional laws regarding adat (Customary law), and as the TPN are still holding strong to their traditional laws, so they acted in accordance with the laws they are living by. I can’t see any difference at that level as Melanesian peoples separated historically but only a short distance of water. The difference is that the TPN OPM represent groups that have not yet been overcome by the laws of a colonising power whereas RI does not recognise the traditional Papuan customary laws,” she said

A prominent Papuan human rights activist, Yasons Sambon, has reported that the killings are causing many military families to reconsider  their support for the Indonesian colonial occupation of Papua.  In an interview with the wife of one of the eight soldiers killed at Sinak, recorded on February 23 after the soldiers funeral in a car by the old market in Sentani, the widow called for Indonesia to abandon its occupation of Papua.

Funeral of Sentani based Kopassus officer killed in SInak incident, Feb 24. (supplied)
Funeral of Sentani based Kopassus officer killed in SInak incident, Feb 24. (supplied)

The wife of an Indonesian soldier from Sentani said in a regretful tone, “SBY would be better off giving independence to the people of Papua if it meant our husbands wouldn’t become victims. Our husbands have been murdered. What will be my fate, and the fate of my children, now that my husband has been murdered? We want to hold onto our husbands but they also have a duty to the country. They are murdered and it’s the women and children who become victims, because if they aren’t at work, then what will we eat?”

“It’s better if independence is given to the people of Papua so that we can be safe,” she said.

*from the West Papua Media Editorial team, with additional reporting from stringers in Wamena, Tingginambut, Jayapura, Nabire and sources in Jakarta.

West Papua Report January 2012


This is the 91st in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

 

West Papua Report
January 2012

This is the 93rd in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

Summary: Indonesian security forces, including the U.S. and Australian supported Detachment 88, conducted “sweeping operations” in the Paniai area of West Papua that destroyed churches, homes and public buildings, and forced hundreds of civilians from their homes. The Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) urged the Police Commander to remove forces from the region, echoing civil society leaders in Paniai. Jakarta’s failure to provided basic health services to Papuans has led to a high rate of death among mothers at child birth according to a recent report. An unconfirmed report claims that President Yudhoyono has committed to withdraw non-organic troops from West Papua and to suspend the operations of a special unit proposed to address fundamental Jakarta-Papua problems. The cost in human life for Papuans of Jakarta’s decades of neglect of the Papuan population is well documented. Amnesty International met with a senior official in Jakarta to press for release of political prisoners, particularly in West Papua and Maluku. The three-month old strike by workers at the Freeport McMoRan mines appears to be headed toward resolution.

Contents:

Brutal “Sweeping Operation” Continues to Displace Civilians in Paniai

Despite efforts by the Indonesian government and its security forces to block all monitoring of developments in the Paniai region of West Papua, courageous journalists, human rights advocates and others have been able to report on the ongoing tragedy there. Since the first days of December, Indonesian security forces, including the U.S.-trained and funded Detachment 88, Brimob elements, and units of the Indonesian military, have been conducting a massive “sweeping” campaign, purportedly targeting local leaders of the pro-independence Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM). Hundreds and in all probability thousands of villagers have been driven from their homes due to the violence unleashed by government forces which has destroyed churches, homes, and public buildings.

An early December report carried in the Jakarta Post revealed the dimensions of the human tragedy now unfolding:

About 500 inhabitants of Dagouto village in Paniai Regency, Papua, have opted to leave their homes and seek refuge following the deployment of 150 Mobile Brigade officers to their area, Paniai tribe council chief John Gobai said Wednesday.
 
“Our people have become refugees at Uwatawogi Hall in Enarotali, Paniai, for several weeks. They are now afraid they may not be able to celebrate Christmas at home,” John told reporters at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM). John, along with four other Paniai people, was at the commission to complain about the presence of police officers in the area, which they said “exacerbated the security situation.”
 
The National Police has increased its numbers of personnel in the regency following several deadly shootings, reportedly claiming the lives of eight traditional miners working on the Degeuwo River, near Dagouto, last month.

Indonesian Human Rights Commission Calls for Withdrawal of Security Forces from Paniai

On December 17, Jubi reported that the Indonesian Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) called on the Indonesian Chief of Police to immediately withdraw all Brimob troops (the militarized police) from the West Papua district of Paniai and to refrain from sending any additional personnel there.

The request came in the wake of widespread reports (see above) of brutal security force sweeping operations that had targeted civilians.

The deputy head of Komnas HAM, M. Ridha Saleh, wrote the chief of police in response to a formal complaint made by the chairman of the Regional Traditional Council (DAD) in Paniai. The letter cited two recent incidents involving members of the police force: A shooting near the copper-and-gold mine in Degheuwo which led to the death of a civilian. And the situation following the dispatch of 150 additional Brimob troops who arrived in Enarotali on November 11-14, 2011

The letter called for the removal of a Brimob post set up in the midst of several kampungs and for a police investigation into the death of Mateus Tenouye. The letter noted that only a Brimob withdrawal could enable Paniai to return to their daily lives which have been badly disrupted by security operations by Brimob and other Indonesian security personnel.

(WPAT Note: There are consistent reports of the involvement of Detachment 88, Kopassus, and other TNI personnel in the sweeping operations. Neither the U.S. nor Australian governments have made any comment regarding their support for an organization that in this instance, and in numerous previous incidents, has resorted to brutality in dealing with peaceful non-combatants.)

The Komnas HAM appeal concluded with a call for dialogue among all parties.

Inadequate Health Care Responsible for High Rate of Death of Mothers at Child Birth

The Jakarta Post reports that maternal deaths in West Papua remain high. Victor Nugraha, an official with the Papuan Health Agency, speaking to media in Manokwari, said that the rate of deaths in 2011 would be at least as high as in 2010. Real figures, he added, were difficult to ascertain because many cases of death during child birth are not recorded due to the shortage of medical personnel to maintain records.

According to the official the main causes of maternal death were hemorrhage, post-pregnancy infections, and hypertension. Anemia due to iron deficiency can lead to hemorrhaging. Beside low iron levels due to poor nutrition, anemia can also be caused by malaria, which is common in West Papua. The official also explained that late pregnancy checks and poor surgery facilities for caesarean sections in clinics also contribute to maternal deaths.

This report echoes a far more detailed study conducted in the Kebar Valley of West Papua in 2008 (see Health care in the Bird’s Head Peninsula. Its conclusions are stark:

  • Out of 708 pregnancies 4.7% led to miscarriage and 1.4% of the children were born dead.
  • Out of 665 child births, where the baby was born alive, 213 baby’s and children eventually died. This is an infant mortality rate of 32.0%. This means that almost 1 out of 3 children dies before its fifth birthday.
  • 57.3% of the died children (213) were younger than 1 year old. 27.7% is between the age of 1 to 5 when it dies.
  • Most baby’s and toddlers (32.9%) died of fever or malaria. Fever in combination with coughing (probably pneumonia) causes a mortality rate of 13.9%.
  • Diarrhea, icterus, prematures and pulmonary affections like tuberculosis, pneumonia and bronchitis also occur, but in smaller numbers.
  • In 12.7% of the dead infants the cause of death was unknown, according to the mother.
  • 94.4% of the pregnant women give birth at home, whether or not with the presence of a traditional midwife .
  • 14 children were born twins; 3 are still alive.

WPAT Comment: Inadequate health services are common throughout those areas of West Papua where the majority of Papuans live. Services are better, sometimes substantially so, in towns where the majority of the non-Papuan, government-assisted migrants live. Totally inadequate health services, along with government failure to provide education or employment opportunities, in majority Papuan populated areas have inevitably contributed to lower birth rates for West Papuans and greater deaths among Papuan children under the age of five. This decades-old policy of neglect of Papuans constitutes one of the bases of charges of genocide leveled against the Indonesian government.
 

Report of Major Jakarta Pledge on Demilitarization of West PapuaWest Papua Media Alerts on December 18 reported that President Yudhoyono made a commitment to Papuan Church leaders in a December 16 meeting to withdraw non-organic troops from West Papua. He reportedly said that he would suspend the activities of the special Unit to Accelerate the Development of Papua and West Papua (UP4B) which was to have addressed fundamental issues in the Jakarta-Papua relationship.

Key Papuan leaders in attendance included: Chair of the Papua GKI Synod, Yemima Kret; Chair of the Baptist Church of Papua, Socrates Sofyan Yoman; Chair of the Kingmi Synod, Benny Giay; Martin Luther Wanma and Rika Korain.

Upon hearing an appeal for an end to the troop presence the President reportedly asked the Police Chief and Commander of the TNI to stop the violence. According to Rev. Benny Giay, the President commanded the Chief of Police and the Armed Forces (TNI) “to stop the violence in Paniai, at least during the month of Christmas.” However, Pastor Gomar Gultom, also at the meeting, told the media that the President did not mention a specific deadline for withdrawal of non-organic troops.

With regards to efforts to launch a Jakarta-Papua dialogue, Gultom said the two sides have not yet decided on the dialogue format or issues to be discussed. Religious leaders are scheduled to meet again in mid-January 2012 to formulate the program in more detail.

Gultom added that President SBY spoke about the UP4B led by Lt. Gen. ( ret) Bambang Darmono. The Religious leaders said that UP4B was formed unilaterally, without hearing the aspirations of the Papuan people. “There is a meeting point agreed upon last night. All points will be evaluated together, and UP4B will be stopped until results of the joint evaluation are available,” he said.

WPAT Comment: There is no evidence as of early January that any of the undertakings reportedly set forth by President Yudhoyono have in fact come to pass. Fighting in Paniai continues and there has been no announcement of a suspension of the operation of UP4B.

Amnesty International Appeals for Political Prisoners Release

On December 6, Amnesty International officials met with Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Law, Politics and Security, Djoko Suyanto to urge the Indonesian Government free political prisoners incarcerated for peacefully expressing their views. Amnesty urged the government “to integrate human rights in their efforts to address the situation in Papua.”

Amnesty International’s presentation focused on at least 90 people who are in prison in West Papua and Maluku for peaceful pro-independence activities, including Filep Karma, a Papuan independence leader currently serving a 15-year sentence in Abepura, Papua. Filep’s case has received special attention by the human rights group.

The meeting took place less than one month following the brutal assault on the Papuan Third National Congress during which peaceful Papuan dissenters were beaten and killed and many were arrested, only to join the growing ranks of Papuan political prisoners.

Amnesty argued that “the Indonesian government should free all those who are detained in Papua and Maluku for peacefully expressing their views, including through raising or waving the prohibited pro-independence flags, and distinguish between peaceful and violent political activists.” Amnesty pointed out that although the government had the duty and the right to maintain public order, its actions restricting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly had violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia has ratified.

Amnesty stressed the need to set up a human rights court and a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate cases of human rights violations since Indonesia annexed Papua in the 1960s.

According to the Jakarta Globe, Minister Djoko Suyanto at the meeting expressed the government’s commitment to ensure accountability for human rights abuses committed by security forces.

Freeport Strike Grinds Toward Resolution

In early December worker representatives and the Freeport McMoRan corporation reached a tentative deal whereby workers would return to their job sites, thus ending a crippling strike which left the world’s largest copper and gold operation at a standstill since workers began striking the massive West Papua mine site in September. The Indonesian government was losing $8 million worth of taxes, royalties and dividends each day the strike continued.

As of late December, workers had not yet resumed work owing to unresolved issues outside the framework of the new contract. Principal among these is the workers insistence that their leaders not be sanctioned either by Freeport McMoRan, which had talked of firing them, or the police, who have threatened to arrest them for “subversion.” The status of a number of contract workers were also at issue. Workers have also insisted on security measures that will preclude additional violence by unidentified elements thought possibly to have ties to the authorities.

The workers achieved significant concessions in their over three months long strike. The key provisions of the new contract is an agreement by Freeport McMoRan to a pay rise of 40 percent over two years. The current pay is $2-$3 an hour. The union had demanded an hourly rate of $7.50.

News Flash: 2 Papuan civilians shot dead in military raid on village in highlands

Two West Papuan civilians were shot dead during an independence day raid on their village by the Indonesian military.

The raid, at 1:30am this morning was on the village of Bolakme, Wamena. The same village was the target of burnings last year by the military.

The 2 civilians confirmed dead so far are Asli Wenda and Elius Tabuni. We understand some others have suffered life threatening injuries. All villagers from the surrounding areas have now fled to forests and remain in hiding.

More news on the situation as we get it.