Tag Archives: village burnings

STATE VIOLENCE WHICH PARALYSES COMMUNITIES IS INTENSIFYING IN THE LAND OF PAPUA: Press Release by KINGMI Church and Papuan Alliance of Baptist Churches

PRESS RELEASE

LEADERSHIP WORKING FORUM OF PAPUAN CHURCHES

STATE VIOLENCE WHICH PARALYSES COMMUNITIES IS INTENSIFYING IN THE LAND OF PAPUA

As leaders of churches in the Land of Papua, we are deeply concerned about the state violence which is occurring in our  sacred motherland. This is clear proof of the fact that the government and the security forces  have failed to provide protection for the indigenous Papua people. These concerns of ours have already  been conveyed by our communities in the following statements:

(a)    The eleven recommendations made by the Consultation of the Papuan People’s Council (MRP) and the Indigenous Papuan Communities on 9-10 June 2010;

(b)   The Joint Communique of Church Leaders on 10 January 2011;

(c)    The Theological Declaration of Church Leaders  on 26 January 2011, and

(d)   The Prophetic Message by Papuan Church Leaders to the President of Indonesia on 16 December 2011, in Cikeas, Jakarta.

Similar concerns have been expressed by member countries of the United Nations (the USA, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada, Norway, South Korea, Japan, France, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia Spain and Italy) on the occasion of the 23 May 2012 session  of the Human Rights Council (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Based on the above facts, we believe that the Indonesian Government and the security forces  are part of the problem of violence which has been created by the State, preserved by the state and allowed to continue in order to legitimise yet more acts of violence in the Land of Papua and to take advantage thereof in order to strengthen the security forces.

We regard these developments as a reflection of [Generative Politics] which was described in an article by Nugroho published by The Jakarta Post on 10 July, 2012. According to Nugroho, generative politics are political views and considerations which have paralysed and worsened the situation of Papuan communities and which have been pursued  in accordance with the policies  of the Indonesian Government for the past fifty years.

Herewith is a list of several incidents of violence that have systematically and structurally been perpetrated as a reflection of the generative politics mentioned above:

  1. On 2 March 2013, a priest named Yunus Gobay (male, 55 years old) was tortured and mal-treated and after being released, he paid ransom money to the police forces in the Police Command Post in the town of Enarotali, Paniai.
  2. The shooting incident in Sinak, District of Paniai, Tinginambut, Puncak Jaya on 21 February 2013 and the shooting incident  in Udaugi on the border of the District  of Delyai on 31 January 2013 when a number of civilians and members of the security forces were killed, which in our opinion happened  because of the neglect of the unlawful sale of weapons.
  3. On 15 February 2013, Dago Ronald Gobay (male, 30 years  old) was arrested  in Depepre, district of Jayapura by the police and while being interrogated was tortured in the office of police intelligence in Jayapura.
  4. The attempt by the government and the security forces to forcibly disband a religious ceremony which was being held on the 4th anniversary of National Committee of West Papua (KNPB) on 19 November, 2012 in the STAKIN ASSEMBLY HALL, Sentani, on which occasion the security forces were under the command of the Police Chief of Jayapura, AKBP Roycke Harry Langgie and the deputy of the District Head (Bupati) of the District of Jayapura, Robert Djoenso D, SH.
  5. The unlawful murder of Mako Musa Tabuni, first chairman of the NKPB on 14 July 2012 in Perumnas, Jayapura.
  6. The murder of TPN/OPM General  Kelly Kwalik by police from Densus 88 and a member of the Indonesian army (TNI) on 16 December 2009 in the town of Timika, and on the same day and month in 2012  another Papuan Hubertus Mabel was murdered  by police of Densus 88 in Kuruku, the town of Wamena.
  7. Ferdinand Pakage was tortured in Abepura Prison by Herbert Toam, a warder at Abepura Prison, on 22 September 2008, as a result of which he was permanently blinded in the right eye.
  8. The torture and murder of Yawan Wayeni on 13 August 2009 by the police chief in Serui, AKBP Imam Setiawan.
  9. Two incidents of gross violations of human rights  in Wasior in 2001 and in Wamena on 4 April  2003, the latter of which is related to the assault on an ammunitions dump; this incident has been investigated by Komnas HAM (National Commission of Human Rights), but the results of which have not been forwarded by the Attorney General to the Human Rights Court for a verdict.

These are just a few of the cases which are evidence of crimes which have been perpetrated by the Indonesian state and the security forces in a systematic, well-structured, widely-based  and prolonged way and which are reflective of the generative politics (paralysis, destructive, eliminating) which, according to Nugroho in his Jakarta Post article of  10 July 2012, have been perpetrated by the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia in the Land of Papua for the past fifty years, since 1961.

Bearing in mind all the very disturbing facts given above and the living experiences of the indigenous Papuan people, we church leaders in the Land of Papua, make the following recommendations:

Firstly, the Indonesian Government and the security forces should return to the original aspirations of this country by investigating and  putting an end to  the unlawful sale of weapons and ammunition which is happening in the Land of Papua.

Secondly, the Indonesian Government should speedily take cognisance of the prophetic messages from the Church, the eleven recommendations of the MRP on 9-10 June 2010 and the Appeal by members of the UN Human Rights Commission at its session  23 May 2012.

Thirdly, we believe that the Indonesian Government is responding in a very discriminatory way to the aspirations of the Papuan people for peaceful dialogue.  We therefore press the Indonesian Government to enter unconditionally into a dialogue based on the principle of equality between Indonesia and West Papua, with mediation by a neutral party, which is what happened in the dialogue between GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka – the Aceh Liberation Movement) in Aceh.

Fourthly, the Indonesian Government should unconditionally release all political prisoners in Papua and should allow  a visit to Papua by the Special Rapporteur  of the United Nations, as well as by foreign journalists and human rights defenders. And it should forthwith end all its efforts to criminalise the political struggle of the Papuan people for self-determination.

Fifthly, the shooting to death of members of the TNI as well as civilians which occurred in the district of  Sinak, Puncak Jaya and in the district of Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya on 21 February 2013 should be regarded  as a separate incident. It was in no way connected to the election of the bupati (district chief) of the district of Puncak. This violent incident  is part and parcel of  state policy to build the necessary infrastructure for the TNI and Polri (the police) in the mountainous interior in order to establish the Puncak Jaya 1714 military command, to increase the budget for the security forces and  to criminalise the peaceful struggle of the Papuan people at the international level.

Sixthly, the Chief of Police in Papua, Inspector-General (pol) Drs M  Tito Karnavian, MA, has failed to investigate who it was who perpetrated acts of violence in the Land of Papua and has created the impression that he is allowing the illegal sale of weapons to go ahead. We urge the chief of police in Papua to implement the statement made by the chief of police, Inspector-General Bekto Suprapto in December 2010 that those who are responsible for the entry into West Papua of illegal weapons will be investigated.

Seventhly. we call on all Papuan communities and all components in society to study the laws in force regarding the TNI and Polri, in order to be able to control criminal actions as well as the policy of the Indonesian government and security forces  in the Land of Papua.

Port Numbay (Jayapura), 6 March 2013

Chairman of the Synod of KINGMI Church, Papua:

The Rev. Dr Benny Giay.

Chairman of the Executive Board of the Alliances of Baptist Churches in Papua:

Socratez Sofyan Yoman

End of translation by TAPOL

 

Forkorus regrets the death of Indonesian soldiers and civilians

[Our sincere apologies for not posting a translation this item of news on the day it was received. Tapol – and WPM] 1 March 2013

 

Jayapura: Forkorus Yaboisembut, President of the Federal Republic of West Papua, speaking at a press conference, expressed his profound regret regarding the incident in Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya  which resulted in the deaths of eight members of the Indonesian army, the TNI, and four civilians which occurred on 22 February 2013.

Whoever it may have been who was responsible for these deaths, it is deeply regrettable. A shooting incident like this can only result in other killings in West Papua , something that has been happening ever since West Papua was annexed by Indonesia in 1962.

‘We mourn the deaths of the soldiers, along with their families, because members of the Indonesian army as well as civilians were the victims . Things like this can happen again tomorrow, next week or next year, when members of the TPN/OPM can be the victims.This kind of thing goes on happening, when victims fall from both sides. Isn’t there a better way, more humane, something more peaceful, moves that are in keeping with our sense of justice, to resolve the basic issue here in the Land of Papua?’

Forkorus said he regretted the fact that the Indonesian government persist in their policy of a semi-military approach, and the continuation of limited or widespread military operations in an attempt to destroy the state of Papua, ever since the declaration of the Trikora Command by President Sukarno, the first president of the Republic of Indonesia  on 19 December, 1961.

Forkorus, who is also chairman of DAP, the Council of Traditional People, accused the Indonesian authorities of being deaf to the appeals for efforts to find a solution to the political and legal status of West Papua by means of dialogue, taking account of the terms of reference set down by the Papuan people at the Second  Congress of the Papuan People in 2000.

Indonesian leaders continue to pursue the policy of military operations, intel operations, attempts to deal with security  and to conduct programmes of economic development and welfare, in an attempt to prevent West Papua from becoming an independent country.

He stressed that Papua must get its political independence while recognising that this is a matter regarding which there is a difference of opinion with the Indonesian government.

H went on to say: ‘We will continue to press the Indonesian government to take the peaceful and democratic way as the guiding principle of dialogue or negotiations with the Papuan people.’

At the Third Congress of the Papuan People they restored their independence based on   the de facto establishment of West Papua. ‘Furthermore, on two occasions we sent pre-negotiation teams to Jakarta , the first in August 2012 , and the second in October 2012, as a follow-up. Despite the fact that there was no response from the Indonesian government, we were hoping that they would acknowledge receipt of our message and our presentation of material for pre-negotiation moves and the conditions under which the negotiations should be held.

‘In 2013, we will continue to take the same approach, so as not to be regarded as trying to sell a cat inside the sack of negotiations. If there is no response from these moves which have been taken in accordance with the principles of decency, peace and democracy, the NFRPB will call for international intervention , as we wait for the process of negotiation to begin.’

‘We sincerely hope that the Indonesian Government will not proceed with its attempts to destroy the state of Papua as was indicated in the Trikora Command, because such an approach can only lead to there being many more victims on both sides along with the intensification of human rights violations of many types. Enough! Enough!’

[Translation by TAPOL]

Yoman rejects the Use of violence

The following is a translation of a statement issued by Socrates Sofyan Yoman on Sunday, 3 March 2012
Jayapura: The chairman of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Papua, Socrates Sofyan Yoman declared that he does not agree with the act of violence committed at the end of last month in the District of Sinak, Puncak Jaya.During this action, eight members of the TNI, the Indonesian National Army  and four civilians were shot dead by members of the TPN/OPM (military wing of the OPM) while several other people were injured.

Socrates reiterated that as a church leader that he was absolutely opposed to acts of violence.

‘We must engage in a peaceful struggle ,’ he said, speaking at the launching of his book titled: ‘OTSUS in Papua has Failed’

He went on to say that it was not about whether this violence was committed by Goliat Tabuni or anyone else . ‘There have been many acts of violence in Papua since 2004  and none of these incidents have been investigated and nothing is known about who was responsible for the violence. ‘It is said that the are large numbers of intelligence officers  but nothing is known about these incidents. Is this some kind of project that is being defended or what is it all about?’

He said that the only way to deal with all the problems in the most easterly province of  Indonesia  is by means of mutually respectful dialogue, mediated by a third party.

He went on the call on young Papuans, men and women to get on with their education so as to be able to improve their standard of living, to be able to read and write, to become intellectuals, anthropologists , sociologists, scientists. Pursuing education will bring about a major change for the whole population, he said.

His book on OTSUS (Special Autonomy) is 408 pages long and has five chapters, which among others explain the background to  OTSUS which is seen by Indonesia as the political solution for Papua.It also deals with the problem of the obliteration of the indigenous people, crimes committed by the state apparatus, the case of human rights violations on 19 October 2011 as well as the shooting dead of Mako Tabuni on 14 June 2012.

Published by Cenderawasih Press, it is the latest of a number of books written by Yoman.

Yoman was born on 15 December 1969 and is a highly vocal church leader. He also teaches as a number of colleges, including the Theology College in Jayapura.  In October 2011, he had discussions with members of staff of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

‘I will launch my latest book on 6 March, he said, adding that Papuans were not a nation of slaves.

[Translated by TAPOL]

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.

Paniai villages reportedly razed as Densus 88 resumes sweep operations in search of TPN’s Jhon Yogi

West Papua Media

January 8, 2013

Unconfirmed reports from local activists and credible human rights observers in Paniai have claimed that 13 houses have been burnt down as sweep operations by Indonesian security forces have resumed, causing panic amongst local Papuan civilians.

The operation by a joint Indonesian army (TNI) and police unit, allegedly led by a large number of Detachment 88 troops (the elite Australian-funded counter-terror unit) is searching for Free Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM) guerrilla leader Jhon Yogi, has begun with up to 13 houses burned to the ground, allegedly claimed by Detachment 88 officers to be TPN posts.

Activists from National Papua solidarity (Napas.com) have reported that Detachment 88 (d88) troops began to raid houses across the area around Pugo village on January 7, from 11am local time.   According to field reports, the searches lasted well into the night, causing many people in surrounding villages to flee the area in fear of their lives.

Five Companies (approx 500 armed men) of the joint strike force (including one company of D88 troops) reportedly laid siege to the alleged headquarters area near Waididi Pogo of Yogi’s TPN-OPM Paniai region command on Monday.  According to Napas.com, Yogi’s men returned heavy fire on the strike force.

According to the local community members, the civilian houses in Pogo were burned quickly on Monday by rogue Indonesian military, together with plain clothes militia or Intel (military intelligence officers), according to SMS messages sent to the media.

Since 13 December 2011, the Indonesian military forces have been regularly attacking, and systematically dismantling and burning villages and traditional buildings alleged to be posts or headquarters of the TPN-OPM Division II  in Paniai.

Community members have reported to Napas.com, the movements of Yogi have been well know n by the Indonesian military, who are allegedly using the situation to have a “show force with full war equipment”, using this opportunity to surround the new TPN headquarters.

Separate reports received by West Papua Media,which have been unable to be confirmed to our verification standards, have claimed that “unknown persons” units have also fired on both civilians and military units. including gunfire that erupted from a suspected military source on a hill behind the Paniai General Hospital area at Uwibutu Madi.

According to human rights sources, Paniai people are greatly fearing for their safety amid another escalation in military offensives.

Previous offensives in the  Paniai since December 2011 have displaced tens of thousands of civilians, and burnt down hundreds of villages.

(For background, please visit https://westpapuamedia.info/tag/Paniai/)

West Papua Media