Plans to commomorate the death of Theys Eluay in November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Translated by Tapol]

New Matilda: SBY Ignores West Papua Murders

co-pro from New Matilda and West Papua Media

By Alex Rayfield


Several West Papuan activists have been murdered this month and many have been forced to flee their homes. Witnesses say Indonesian security forces are responsible – but no one is listening in Jakarta, reports Alex Rayfield

West Papua is roiling. In the last two weeks a spate of shootings, killings and military violence has surprised even seasoned Papua watchers. But as West Papua bleeds, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono remains silent.

The latest wave of violence started on 29 May when a 55-year-old German born man, Pieter Dietmar Helmut, was shot and wounded at a popular beach in Jayapura.

Although multiple witnesses identified the car from which a Papuan man allegedly shot Helmut, police are yet to make any arrests.

The same day Anton Arung, a primary school teacher, was fatally shot in the head by an unknown gunman as he was standing by a kiosk in the highland town of Mulia.

Four days later, activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a pro-independence youth organisation, protested the shootings. According to witnesses Indonesian police then opened fire.

Five people were wounded in the attack. 23 year-old Yesaya Mirin from Yahukimo village was shot dead while 29 year-old Panuel Taplo remains in a serious condition with bullet wounds.

When KNPB leader Buchtar Tabuni confronted the police at a second demonstration in the capital he was arrested, further inflaming an already tense situation.

Jailed independence leaders Dominikus Surabut and Selphius Bobii and Ruben Magay, a provincial parliamentarian not known for his pro-independence views, have publicly criticised the police’s handling of KNPB and called for Buchtar Tabuni’s release.

As tensions increased text messages circulated warning people to beware of “Dracula” and other such demonic denizens of the night. In West Papua warnings of Dracula and the like are code for people to stay off the streets because of covert military operations.

Similar SMS messages were sent before prominent independence leader Theys Eluay was assassinated in November 2001.

The following week was a particularly bloody one in Jayapura. On Sunday 3 June, university student Jimi Ajudh Purba was stabbed to death by unidentified attackers. A day later, 16 year-old high school student Gilbert Febrian Ma’dika was shot by unidentified assailants on a motorcycle and survived a gunshot wound to his back.

On Wednesday 6 June a civil servant was reportedly shot dead in front of the mayor’s office and the following day a further three people were reportedly shot, two of whom died. One of those attacked was a police officer, Brigadier Laedi.

On the following day, Friday 8 June, Teyu Tabuni, who was affiliated with KNPB, was shot dead as he was standing at a motorcycle taxi parking area in Jayapura. According to a witness, Yopina Wenda, Tabuni was shot four times in the head by a uniformed policeman who then fled the scene.

The following week on 10 and 11 June two more people were reportedly shot dead, one outside a shopping mall and the second close to Cendrawasih University in Abepura.

In the same week that mysterious killings rocked citizens of Jayapura, the highlands of West Papua also bled. On 6 June soldiers from Battalion 756, not regularly stationed in West Papua but brought in for combat duties, knocked over and killed a three year old child, Desi Wanimbo, while riding their motorcycle in the village of Honai Lama on the outskirts of Wamena.

Relatives of the child then allegedly stabbed one of the soldiers to death and badly beat a second.

New Matilda spoke to local Wamena based activists Simeon Dabi and Wellis Doba by phone who said that soldiers then went on a rampage burning 70 houses, killing 22 pigs (an animal highly valued by highland Papuans) while indiscriminately discharging their firearms.

Dabi and Doba both reported 11 people with serious injuries after soldiers shot, stabbed and beat residents. Hundreds fled into the mountains and jungle. Two more Papuans later died of injuries sustained from the military, 40 year-old Elinus Yoman and 30 year-old Dominggus Binanggelo.

Meanwhile in Yapen, an island off the north coast of West Papua, reports are filtering through of military operations. New Matilda spoke to one activist in Yapen who reported by mobile phone that around 60 people — 10 families from 14 different villagers — have sought refuge in the jungle after police and military launched search and arrest operations following a gathering of leaders held by the West Papua National Authority.

The Indonesian government’s response to recent shootings in Jayapura has been to call for assertive action including house-to-house searches for armed combatants. Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman, the chief of the Indonesian Intelligence Agency, told the Jakarta Post by phone that “We have no choice but to do the sweep, as civilians are not allowed to hold guns. Rules must be upheld.”

Ironically, Norman made these comments days before Police admitted a policeman shot dead KNPB activist Teyu Tabuni on 7 June.

The six main groups that the police, military and intelligence agents consistently target in sweeping operations are leaders from the Federal Republic of West Papua who declared independence on 19 October last year, the pro-independence groups KNPB and WPNA, church leaders and tribal leaders.

All these groups are unarmed — fighting words notwithstanding — giving credence to activists’ claims that the purpose of the sweeps is not to maintain security but to trample dissent.

While police and the military blame Papuan separatists, human rights defenders in Papua point the finger at Indonesian security forces.

In an interview with the Jakarta Globe Ferry Marisan from the Institute for the Study and Advocacy of Human Rights in West Papua (ELSHAM) said that “Papua is a place for law enforcement to get promoted…. Isn’t it strange that after a series of shootings, the police cannot find the perpetrators? They always claim the perpetrators are unidentified gunmen. They analysed the bullet, conducted ballistic tests but the results were never made public.”

Human rights defenders in West Papua argue that the both the police and military have a vested interest in creating and maintaining conflict to justify their continued presence and to maintain lucrative legal and illegal business interests.

But it is not only business interests at stake. The security forces in West Papua also see themselves as bravely defending the Indonesian state from greater unravelling.

In their eyes this justifies covert operations. Last year New Matilda met two Papuans from Sorong who were paid to attend a ceremony in Manokwari where they were inducted into a civilian squad that would ostensibly assist the police with anti-corruption investigations.

The activists recited oaths of allegiance to the Indonesian state and were given uniforms and ID cards — viewed by New Matilda. Those present at the meeting were then told that a handful would be selected for combat training in Jakarta. In the shadow of Indonesian militia violence in East Timor in 1999 reports like these deeply trouble Papuans.

Local activists are not the only ones raising troubling questions about SBY’s handling of the situation in West Papua. Opposition MP Tubagus Hasanuddin, a member of the Parliament’s Defence Committee, told Radio Australia he wants answers.

“How can there be 30 shootings in one and a half years and not a single case solved?” he asked. “Twenty-seven victims have fallen. We must find out why.”

Hasanuddin’s figures may be on the conservative side but he is proof that there are Indonesians who want to see progress on finding a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in West Papua.

Church leaders like Fr Neles Tebay from the Papua Peace Network argue that action from Jakarta to reign in the security forces is essential because provincial legislators have no control over the police and military.

However, SBY is rapidly running out of time. His presidency expires next year and Papuans are increasingly calling for the United Nations to intervene.

It is said that deeply seated conflict polarises the protagonist’s positions. In West Papua those positions are hardening and the numbers of protagonists are increasing. The police and the military are defending a state that has lost all legitimacy in Papuan eyes.

This reality is not helped by the fact that many in the police and military — over 90 per cent of whom are are Indonesian — hold deeply racist views about the people they are meant to protect.

Politically Papuans’ interests are not represented by the provincial parliament. The DPRD, or local provincial parliament, find themselves caught between demands for independence from their Papuan constituents and a rigid refusal to enter into talks from Jakartan party bosses 3000 kilometres away — even talking is seen as too much of a concession to the independence movement.

In the middle are Papuans, seething with indignation over decades of abuse by the security forces and increasingly vocal about their demands for genuine self-determination.

Time may not be the only problem. Many doubt whether Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono is willing to spend any political capital making good on his repeated promises to solve the Papuan problem with “peace” and “dignity”.

On the contrary SBY has publicly stepped in to protect and defend the security forces when they have been accused of gross acts of violence against civilians and refused to countenance the evidence that state violence is a systemic problem in West Papua.

Downplaying the problem in Papua may win him friends in the military but in the Papuans’ eyes it makes him look ineffectual. It tarnishes his international image as a democrat and strengthens the hand of those inside and outside West Papua who call for independence.

This makes the voices of the church and senior tribal leaders calling for dialogue sound measured and reasonable. The only problem is there is no indication that SBY is listening.

With West Papua Media

14th Year of ELSHAM Papua Presence in the Land of Papua


 (Media Release: 14th Year of ELSHAM Papua Presence in the Land of Papua)


ince its founding in 5 May 1998, Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy of Papua (ELSHAM Papua) has consistently endeavored to promote observance and respect for human rights in the Land of Papua. ELSHAM Papua’s creation constitutes a response to ongoing human rights violations in Papua which warrant specific and comprehensive handling. ELSHAM is a non government organization (NGO) founded by 3 major church denomination, namely Evangelical Christian Church in the Land of Papua (GKI Di Tanah Papua), Catholic Diocese of Jayapura, and Gospel Tabernacle Church of Papua (Kingmi), with an aim to promote observance and respect for human rights in the Land of Papua.

Being  then the most prominent human rights organisation to tackle gross human rights violations in Papua ELSHAM managed to provide advocacy and campaigns for a number of human right violation cases like: Biak case ( 6 July 1998), Mapnduma (August 1996), Nabire (May 2000), Abepura (7 December 2000), Wamena (6 October 2000), Wasior (June 2001), Theys Eluay (10 November 2001), Timika (October 2002), and some others. Since 1998 – 2004, ELSHAM Papua regularly intervened at the UN Human Rights High Commission in Geneva to report on the human rights situation resulting in the visits to Papua by two UN Special Rapporteurs:  UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2007) UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (2007).

Observing the human rights situation in the Land of Papua since mid 2011 until now, there is an increase of violence. ELSHAM noted that between July to September 2011 there has been at least 28 cases of violence which took the lives of Papuan civilians as well as the Indonesian security personnel.  Despite the fact that Papuans have declared their desire to create peace through Papua Peace Conference on 5-7 July 2011, nonetheless sporadic violence continued to occur in Puncak Jaya and Timika areas.

Violent acts resurfaced on 19 October 2011 when police personnel backed by the TNI force violently dispersed the Third Papuan People Congress at Zakheus soccer field in Abepura. 3 civilians were killed while 387 others arbitrarily arrested and detained for more than 24 hours.

Other violent act by security personnel also occurred through limited military operation in the Puncak Jaya and Paniai regions under Operation AMAN MATOA (Operation Secure Matoa) and Operation TUMPAS MATOA I (Operation Eradicate Matoa I) 2011. On 13 December 2011 around 07.30 AM (Eastern Indonesia Time), 6 groups of Mobile Brigade personnel attacked the head-quarter of War Area Command IV (TPN-OPM Kodap IV) of the Papua National Liberation Army at Eduda Hills in the Paniai region. A privately owned helicopter was used by the attacking Mobile Brigade force. This military offence was directly led by commander of Operation Tumpas Matoa Senior Police Commissioner Leo Bona Lubis. ELSHAM’s volunteer in Enarotali reported that as a result of this operation at least 14 people were killed, 6 were wounded, and hundreds of civilians living in nearby villages fled to Enarotali,  Dogiyai and Deiyai.

Conflict and violence that erupted in Ilaga of Puncak Jaya regency was a tragedy. This conflict was triggered by provision of recommendations to two candidates who were competing for the position of Head Regency of Puncak Jaya.  The central management of Gerindra Party in Jakarta recommended Simon Alom as their chosen candidate to run for the position, whilst the provincial Gerindra party officials in Jayapura recommended Elvis Tabuni, another candidate. These conflicting recommendations resulted in open conflicts between the supporters of the two candidates. War between the two opposing groups lasted from 31 July 2011 to 25 February 2012, creating a death toll of 94 people: 72 died of attacks from both parties, 22 died while taking refuge. At least 1.573 people were reported to have fled to Nabire as a result of the conflict in Puncak Jaya. Others who fled to other areas have not been documented.

Looking at the significant rising trend of violence in Papua which claimed many lives then the endeavor to create peace in the Land of Papua must be the priority of all people. Since 2002 ELSHAM Papua has actively engaged with other parties to create peace in the Land of Papua. ELSHAM Papua believed that conflicts occurring in Papua can be settled peacefully.

The people of Papua have creatively proposed for dialogue to find solutions to problems in the Land of Papua. Papuan people’s initiative to engage in dialogue with the government of Indonesia was positively responded by the Indonesian President on 9 November 2011. Until now the people of Papua still wait for realization of the intent of the Indonesian government to create peace in Papua.

Commemorating the 14th anniversary of ELSHAM Papua we would like to extend our highest appreciation to all people who incessantly work to create peace in the Land of Papua. May the effort expended to create PAPUA LAND OF PEACE can be realized.

Director of Elsham Papua

Ferdinand Marisan, S.Sos

MP : +62 (0)81344937471


*    14th year reflection of endeavor to realize justice in the Land of Papua.

***ELSHAM NEWS SERVICE provides regular reports and information on social and political development and their implication on Human Rights situation and democracy in Papua. The reports and information provided are obtained from ELSHAM PAPUA local, national and international networks. Those interested in subscribing to this service are advised to register to ELSHAM PAPUA. Please provide complete information (Name of institution/ or individual; address, etc). ELSHAM PAPUA is a human right organization with a mission to eliminate militarism, impunity, and to promote Human Rights and democracy. And to promoye human rights education for the people of Papua. ELSHAM PAPUA was founded on 5 May 1998.

Thousands cram gravesite of Theys to support IPWP

West Papua flag

March 8, 2012

by West Papua Media with local sources

Several thousand people crammed the grave site of murdered independence hero Ondofolo Theys Eluay on March 7, to hear resolutions from the Pacific regional Feb 29 launch in Canberra of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP).

Organised by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), the gathering passed without hindrance by security forces, despite reports from participants that several heavily armed units of the Indonesian army and police were shadowing the mass of demonstrators as they conducted a converging Long March from the Waena UNCEN student dormitories, Abepura, Kotaraja, Kamkey and surrounding areas.

The gravesite of the revered Chief, the former Papuan Presidium leader assassinated by Indonesian Kopassus officers in 2001, is the traditional site for mass rallies for self-determination in West Papua, guaranteed access to the land in perpetuity by the family of Theys Eluay.  Indonesian-owned businesses and commercial development is gradually surrounding the gravesite amidst a perceived strategy by Indonesian authorities to block access to what has become a sacred site to West Papuan people.

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The Voice of Papua independent media reported KNPB spokesman Buchtar Tabuni telling the gathered crowd that “all the people of Papua and Papuan students in Australia have joined in the launch event in Australia for IPWP-Pacific, and have come to talk about self-determination for the people of West Papua.”

“Whatever the risks, we are the children of West Papua, would bet ourselves to this struggle.  This is how it is in our land of West Papua,” said Buchtar.

The rallies dispersed peacefully without incident.


How the National Government Is Encouraging Papua to Break Away

Exceptionally powerful article appearing the Jakarta Globe: a must read for all Indonesians who are concerned for Papua, either for or against.
Bramantyo Prijosusilo | November 22, 2011

Transparency and accountability are universally accepted as the cornerstones of good governance. With neither present in Papua, we can be sure that the natural riches of the region will never come to benefit local communities, but will rather bring about the so-called “resource curse” in the form of economic, cultural, social and political strife and ecological disaster.

The massive destruction caused by Freeport-McMoRan, the American mining conglomerate, can now be witnessed by anyone with an Internet connection thanks to Google Earth. The continuous stream of stories of torture and murder that leak out of the region is proof that people are unhappy and that the national government is acting less than honorably there.

What the central government claims about goings-on in Papua cannot be trusted because its claims can be disproved immediately. Since the act of free choice in 1969 (called “the act of no choice” by Papuans resisting Indonesia’s “occupation”), the western half of Guinea island has been covered by a “batik curtain.” Foreign independent journalists are banned from working there freely, as are international NGOs.

However, with the advance of information technologies and the fact that more and more Papuans are receiving modern education, the contemptuous treatment of indigenous people at the hands of the nation’s police and military is becoming more and more difficult to conceal. Gleaning information on Papua from the Internet it becomes obvious that there are powerful forces at play in Papua that are bent on reaching the point of no return — where either all Papuans must be exterminated, or a second and more honest “act of free choice” is conducted, for the world to witness the true aspirations of the people of Papua in terms of their relationship with the Indonesian state.

The powerful forces bent on forcing Papuans to separate from Indonesia are none other than the central government, especially its military and police force.

Since the brutal murder of Papuan leader Theys Eluay a little over 10 years ago, the world has seen how Indonesia has yet to reform its approach to the issue of Papuan independence. As we near Dec. 1 — the date that Papuans consider to be their independence day — the world is fearfully expecting to witness more state violence against Papuans peacefully expressing their aspirations. Indeed, in the past few months we have witnessed attacks on journalists and peaceful protestors, including the still unclear circumstances surrounding the latest fatal shooting of eight gold prospecting civilians in the Paniai district.

On the issue of the Freeport workers on strike demanding better pay, the world witnesses how the central government’s actions toward the Freeport strikers differs from the government of Peru’s reaction toward the same sort of strike at a Freeport mine there. While the government of Peru visibly takes the role of a mediator that holds the interests of its own people foremost, Indonesia appears to unashamedly play the role of Freeport’s guard dog, and without hesitating to release live ammunition on its own people.

The recent armed police and military raids of Papuan students’ dormitories in Java and Bali are an indication of what is likely to come on Dec. 1. The recent Papuan voices that have leaked out thanks to the Internet indicate that there are plans for at least a “Morning Star” flag rising in Papua on that date. Although the government has cracked down hard on similar events in the past, it is unthinkable to imagine that the people of Papua have been cowed into submission by these repressions. Just as Indonesian youth defied the Dutch colonialists in the early 20th century and continued to raise the “Red and White,” so will the youths of Papua. After all, most Papuan youth leaders were educated in Indonesia, so they fully understand that perseverance pays and aspirations for independence cannot be stifled by force. Yhe more Indonesia uses force to keep its hold on Papua, the stronger its independence movement will become.

Papuan activists can also see how Islamists in Indonesia can actively work to destroy the country not only with impunity, but also with the tacit support of the state and members of the government. The Islamist party, Hizbut Tahrir, for example, openly agitates for the fall of the republic to build a global Islamic caliphate in its place, but the authorities tend to aid and support it rather than take action to hinder its activities. Islamists in the country openly work for the resurrection of the age of the Islamic caliphs, or at least work toward their version of Shariah being enshrined as state law, but even though these activities are in blatant contempt of our constitution, the government has never done so much as lift a little finger in defense of the republic and its principles in the face of these orchestrated attacks.

Therefore it is natural that activists from Papua feel that they are being continuously discriminated against, for they receive the harshest treatment for the simple activity of raising a flag.

So who is it that is working hardest to compel Papua break away? Are the people of Papua to blame for objecting to having their sacred lands ripped apart by corporations making profits for shareholders far away? Are they to blame if they do not trust Indonesia’s capacity or intent to develop the country along the lines of the constitution?

If Indonesia wants to keep Papua as part of the family, it needs to clean up its act, especially in curbing Islamist treason and protecting minorities. It also needs to open up Papua to the world and come clean and apologize for the wrongs it has inflicted on the people there. As Dec. 1 approaches, we can expect that the national government will try to further alienate Papuans to a point where the only way forward will be through a sea of blood.

Bramantyo Prijosusilo is a writer, artist and broadcast journalist in East Java.

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