Groups Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia

AH-64 Apache
AH-64 Apache (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Press Release

Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391,
Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078,

March 30, 2012 – Ninety organizations today urged the U.S. government and Congress not to provide deadly attack helicopters to Indonesia. Indonesia has announced that it plans to buy eight AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the United States.

The groups warned that the helicopters will escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West Papua: “Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians.”

The Indonesian military (TNI) regularly conducts “sweep operations,” involving attacks on villages where innocent villagers are forced from their homes. The groups write that “Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.” Sweep operations are now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua.

The letter was organized by the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team and signed by human rights, religious, indigenous rights, disarmament and other organizations based in 14 countries.

Signers include: Faith-based Network on West Papua, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Action, International Lawyers for West Papua, Land Is Life, KontrS (Indonesia), and Pax Christi Australia. A complete list of signers can be found here:

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns and equipped to fire missiles.

ETAN was formed in 1991. It celebrated its 20th anniversary this December 10, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. See ETAN’s web site:

Text of Letter

As organizations concerned about human rights in Indonesia and West Papua, we are writing to urge the U.S. government and Congress not to allow the sale of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI). Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians, who have been the target of deadly TNI assaults for many years.

The sale of this weapons system to the TNI — notwithstanding its long record of disregard for civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations and impunity in East Timor, Aceh and elsewhere — would only increase the suffering of the Papuan population.

Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin told the Antara news agency, that  Indonesia intends to buy eight AH-64 Apache helicopter from the United States.

The heavily-armed AH-64 is a highly lethal weapon which can be used to escalate conflict within Indonesia and in West Papua. These aircraft will substantially augment the TNI’s capacity to prosecute its “sweep operations” in West Papua and thereby, almost certainly lead to increased suffering among the  civilian populations long victimized by such operations.

TNI “sweep operations,” including several now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua, involve attacks on villages. Homes are destroyed, along with churches and public buildings. These assaults, purportedly to eliminate the poorly armed Papuan armed resistance, force innocent villagers from their homes. Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns . It is also equipped to fire missiles.

Congress must be notified of major weapons sales. We urge Congress to oppose the sale of these helicopters.

USGOV: 2010 Human Rights Report: Indonesia


2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

April 8, 2011

Indonesia is a multiparty democracy with a population of approximately 237 million. In July 2009 Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was reelected president in free and fair elections. Domestic and international observers judged the April 2009 legislative elections generally free and fair as well. Security forces reported to civilian authorities, although the fact the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) continued to be partly self-financed had the potential to weaken this control.

Human rights problems during the year included: occasional incidents, primarily in Papua and West Papua Provinces, of arbitrary and unlawful killings by security forces; vigilantism; sometimes harsh prison conditions; impunity for some officials; official corruption, including in the judicial system; some narrow and specific limitations on freedom of expression; societal abuse against religious groups and interference with freedom of religion sometimes with the complicity of local officials; trafficking in persons; child labor; and failure to enforce labor standards and worker rights.


INDONESIA: Widespread impunity in Papua aggravating tensions


Date: 22 February 2011 03:15:24 CET

February 22, 2011

Language(s): English only

Sixteenth session, Agenda Item 4, General Debate

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

INDONESIA: Widespread impunity in Papua aggravating tensions

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) is seriously concerned by ongoing, widespread human rights violations and violent acts being committed by the Indonesian security forces in the Papuan highlands in Indonesia. Impunity typically accompanies even the most serious abuses, as shown by the lack of effective remedies in a case of severe torture that the ALRC has documented recently. Despite institutional reforms in Indonesia, effective accountability for human rights violations in Papua is lacking, resulting in impunity that then engenders further atrocities.

Impunity and the sense of injustice that it engenders in society are having a strong impact on social stability and cohesion in Papua. Repression, discrimination and human rights violations by the Indonesian security forces are adding to tensions. Papuans reportedly feel like second-class citizens in Indonesia, even within Papua itself, and face discrimination, poverty and injustice as a result. The military arbitrarily suspect Papuans of being linked with rebel groups and stigmatise them, subjecting them to abuse.

Autonomy law rejected

The State has failed to provide justice and remedies and to bring prosperity and equality to Papua through the Special Autonomy Law, despite it being Indonesia’s most resource-rich region. Demonstrations in Jayapura, the capital of the Papuan province, have repeatedly rejected the Special Autonomy Law of 2001, with many civil society speakers having labelled it as being a failure. The autonomy parliament in July 2010 issued a decree formally rejecting the law and demanding a referendum on the political status of the autonomy region. The law was rejected mainly due to it having failed to deliver on any of the key demands of indigenous Papuans since its enactment. These include economic aspects but security and the need for protection against discrimination and human rights violations also figure highly.

The repeated calls by Papuan politicians, church and other civil society leaders for a dialogue between Papua and Jakarta have not been responded to by the government. Given the ongoing grave human rights violations by Indonesian security forces and the deteriorating relations between Papua and Jakarta, the ALRC is concerned that the situation of human rights risks declining seriously in the coming period, unless Indonesia takes meaningful action to address its role in the worsening situation. To be credible in doing this, the Indonesian government and military must ensure that human rights violations are halted and impunity is shown to be being dismantled, with justice being served and reparation being provided to victims.

Torture and impunity — a symbol of abuse and injustice

In the high-profile torture case mentioned above, which remains emblematic of the situation of human rights in Papua at present, Mr. Tuanliwor Kiwo, an indigenous Papuan man, was arbitrarily detained and tortured in May/June2010 by the Indonesian military. Mr. Kiwo was arrested at the Kwanggok Nalime TNI post near Yogorini village on his way from Tingginambut towards Mulia, Papua, Indonesia. During two days of detention, Mr. Kiwo was subjected to several serious forms of torture including burning, beatings and other forms of violence, resulting in serious injuries and Mr. Kiwo falling unconscious. He was able to escape in the morning of the third day. Mr. Kiwo is currently in hiding for security reasons but has given a detailed testimony of his torture in a video recording.1

While cases of torture are often reported from Papua, this case received significant international attention after video footage of the torture2 was published by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in October 2010. As a result of the significant public pressure concerning this case, three members of the military were tried in a military tribunal for disobeying their superior’s order to release the victim and were sentenced to between nine and twelve months imprisonment. The ALRC is concerned that the charge and punishment in this case are not commensurate with the gravity of the violation that severe torture represents. Furthermore, the victim has not been provided with any form of remedy. Despite its high profile nature, this case speaks to the Indonesian system’s inability to address torture as a serious crime and human rights violation, and its failure to provide adequate reparation to victims. In less visible cases, even less can be expected, and impunity typically prevails.

In another case of violence by members of the military in the March 2010, that was also published in October 2010, the perpetrators have received sentences of an equally disproportionately low nature. Three solders from the Indonesian military’s Pam Rahwan Yonif 753/Arga Vira Tama squad, based in Nabire, Papua, were given a five-month imprisonment sentence by the military court III/19, Cenderawasih military command in Jayapura in November 2010, for having kicked and beaten arrested indigenous Papuans whom they suspected of involvement in separatist activities. The names of the convicted officers are Chief Pvt Sahminan Husain Lubis, Second Pvt Joko Sulistiono and Second Pvt Dwi Purwanto. Military judge Lt. Col. Adil Karokaro explained in the verdict that the defendants had breached the Indonesian military’s code of conduct by torturing the residents.

The government of Indonesia continues to deny the widespread use of violence by the Indonesian military in Papua, and alleges that these violations are rare and isolated, individual cases. However, the ALRC continues to receive further cases of violence against indigenous Papuans, including killings by the police and military, arbitrary arrests, the burning of houses and killing of livestock, which point to a widespread pattern of the use of violence, as well as a policy of intimidation by the Indonesian military.

Human rights violations and other crimes committed against civilians by members of the military are still only tried by military courts, which lack independence, transparency, a comprehensive penal code incorporating human rights norms, and a system of punishments that are proportional to the severity of the crimes committed. A military tribunal is not able to hold perpetrators of torture accountable in line with international law standards. Such tribunals cannot invoke any military regulations that prohibit the use of torture. Therefore, perpetrators cannot be tried for committing torture and no remedies can therefore be provided to victims.

Furthermore, the country’s penal code does not include torture as a crime. This means that members of the police that commit torture remain immune from criminal prosecution. Indonesia is therefore failing to comply with its obligations under the Convention Against Torture. Indonesia ratified the Convention against Torture in 1998, but the use of torture is still widespread and systematic, as cases received and documented by the ALRC attest. The promised review of the penal code has been delayed for years despite recommendations made to the government of Indonesia, which it accepted, during the Universal Periodic Review in this regard.

From a human rights perspective, it is vital for Indonesia to immediately begin to take credible action to tackle impunity and be seen to be tackling it in an effective way. Jakarta must ensure that the security forces halt the use of excessive force and violence-based strategies in dealing with security-related issues in Papua. Allegations of human rights violations must be investigated and any lacuna in legislation and due process must be addressed. For example, torture must be criminalized in line with Indonesia’s international obligations under the Convention Against Torture. Military personnel who are alleged to be responsible for human rights violations against civilians must be tried in civilian courts.

The ALRC invites the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers to recommend institutional reforms to the government of Indonesia to ensure that members of the military are held accountable by independent courts that uphold human rights and constitutional values and ensure that these are made available to legislators in Indonesia.

The ALRC also requests that the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment follow up with the Indonesian government to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations made to Indonesia during the UPR review regarding the review of the penal code and the full criminalisation of torture.

Furthermore, the ALRC urges the Indonesian government to heed the call for dialogue made by the Papuan indigenous community and avoid a further deterioration of the conflict in Papua. Finally, the ALRC calls on the Indonesian government to release all Papuan political prisoners, in order to show its commitment to a new path towards peace, security and human rights in Papua.




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About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

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Human rights situation raised with US diplomat visiting Papua

Bintang Papua, 16 February 2011


Biak: The traditional Papuan community in Biak reported the current
social and political situation in Papua to the first secretary for
political affairs at the US embassy, Melanie Higgins, when she visited
the office of DAP (Dewan Adat Papua) in Biak. Their representatives drew attention in particular to the human rights situation and the
deteriorating welfare since the enactment of the Special Autonomy Law (OTSUS) which had led to the failure of OTSUS.

The issue that came to the fore was that for the Papuan people the
solution was merdeka – independence. ‘This poured forth from the hearts of the indigenous people during their meeting with the US diplomat on Wednesday. They said that this would be the best solution for the accumulation of problems in Papua,’ said Yan Pieter Yarangga, chairman of DAP in Biak-Supiori, following his meeting with Higgins.

He said that the visit by Melanie Higgins was consistence with the US
decision to evaluate OTSUS in Papua. She was able to hear how OTSUS had been implemented in the ten years since its enactment.

Besides talking about the failure of OTSUS, they raised some specific
cases, such as the beating of a civilian by a member of the security
forces (TNI) over a land dispute regarding land being held by the Air

They also talked about such matters as history, the development process and the growing number of poor Papuans. Women who were present spoke about the growing number of HIV/AIDS victims in Biak and everywhere in Papua.

‘We talked about many serious problems which were an indication of
genocide. ‘But we very much regret the fact that according to the US
there is no genocide in Papua,’ said the chairman of the local DAP.

He said that the indigenous people of Papua nevertheless warmly
appreciated the visit by Melanie Higgins and the present position of the US, and understood their US support for NKRI (Unitary State of the
Republic of Indonesia.).

‘But they should realise that we will not retreat and will continue to
struggle until we reach a solution for the political status for the
people of Papua and hope that Melanie Higgins will pass on the views of the indigenous Papuan people to the US government, in so that they would be passed on to the central government in Jakarta for them to take steps in favour of a comprehensive solution of the Papuan problem.’

‘Actually, there were many problems to raise with her but time was
short, so we came to the conclusion that we should raise a number of
basic indicators about problems of a very substantial nature.’

AFP: U.S. Slams Indonesia Sentences in Papua Torture Trial

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (AFP) — The United States on Tuesday
slammed as too lenient an Indonesian court martial for jailing three
soldiers for up to 10 months for abuse and insubordination after
they were shown torturing civilians.

The sentences “do not reflect the seriousness of the abuses of
two Papuan men depicted in 2010 video,” State Department
spokesman Philip Crowley said on the microblogging website

“Indonesia must hold its armed forces accountable for violations
of human rights. We are concerned and will continue to follow
this case,” Crowley added.

The relatively light sentences prompted anger among campaigners,
who accuse the Indonesian military of acting with impunity
against the indigenous Melanesian majority in the far-eastern
province of Papua.

The military tribunal found the trio guilty of abuse and
disobeying orders, and sentenced Second Sergeant Irwan
Rizkiyanto to 10 months in jail, First Private Yakson Agu to
nine months, and First Private Tamrin Mahan Giri to eight months.

In footage posted on YouTube last year, the soldiers were seen
applying a burning stick to the genitals of an unarmed man and
threatening another with a knife as they interrogated them about
the location of a weapons cache.

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