West Papua Report March 2013

This is the 107th 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 by 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 directly via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

The Report leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then “Chronicle” which lists of analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a “Perspective” or responding to one should write to edmcw@msn.com. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN.

For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.


  • Civilians Suffer as Security Force Sweeps Perpetuate Cycle of Violence




Civilians Suffer as Security Force Sweeps Perpetuate Cycle of Violence

In late February, the Indonesian military (TNI) and National Police (POLRI) launched new “sweeping operations” in the Central Highlands of West Papua. The security force campaign follows the February 21 attack by the armed anti-Indonesian resistance which killed eight Indonesian military soldiers and two Indonesian civilians in Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya, reportedly carried out by Goliat Tabuni-led elements of the National Liberation Army of the Free Papua Movement (TPN-OPM). These latest Indonesian security force sweeps are disrupting civilian life in communities around Sinak, Gurage, Mulia and Tingginambut in Puncak Jaya District. Papuan leaders have condemned the violence and called anew for a Jakarta-Papua dialogue. (see for example https://westpapuamedia.info/2013/03/06/forkorus-regrets-the-death-of-indonesian-soldiers-and-civilians/ )

The latest “sweeping operation” parallels a similar ongoing operation in the neighboring Paniai area., where “helicopters belonging to illegal gold miners in Degouwo were again being used by Indonesian troops to support the operation.”

The West Papua Advisory Team (WPAT) condemns the February 21 violence. Such violent acts only perpetuate the cycle of violence that has trapped Papuans, particularly in the Central Highlands, for decades.

WPAT vigorously condemns the actions of the Indonesian state security forces which, regardless of the provocation, have a fundamental international obligation to protect civilian life. The seizure and destruction of civilian homes and communal buildings as well as destruction of civilian food sources inevitably will force the flight of civilians to inhospitable forests and mountains. Many of those caught in such a maelstrom will surely soon begin to die.

We call on governments, especially those like the United States which have partnered with Indonesian security forces , to use the influence garnered by such dubious cooperation to bring an end to these sweeps. The United States government, which condemned  the February 21 attack on the Indonesian military is obliged to forthrightly condemn and seek an end to the Indonesian security forces ongoing assault on innocent civilians.

We urge international bodies, especially the appropriate offices of the United Nations, including the Human Rights Commission, to turn their attention to these sweeping operations and which pose a lethal threat to large numbers of civilians.

Humanitarian mechanisms must be immediately established to provide for the welfare of civilians whose lives have been disrupted and the area must be opened to both the humanitarian offices that will undertake that vital work and to credible reporting by journalists and human rights reporters.

As of February 26, the Indonesian security force sweeps had burned at least 18 houses to the ground, destroyed five GIDI (Protestant) churches, and destroyed a library and two schools in Tingginambut, according to reliable church sources who relayed eyewitness accounts to West Papua Media.

The toll on local civilians posed by the military/police operations is grave: “Witnesses have also reported that soldiers are deliberately burning and destroying food gardens and shooting livestock, including over 100 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,” writes West Papua Media.

Entire populations in villages the area of Gurake, Sinak, Tinggi Neri, Trugi and Nelekom have fled to the mountains. Several thousand people, mainly subsistence farmers, are said to live in the area. Townspeople from Mulia in Puncak Jaya are preparing to flee. As in the past, civilians who flee to the remote forests and mountains face possibly deadly separation from sources of food, shelter and medical care.

Another trademark of these sweeping operations, also employed in the current military/police campaign, is the prevention of reporting on developments by the authorities. The only media personnel allowed into the operations area are those with approval from the Indonesian army. Independent journalists and human rights workers have been prevented from traveling into the area by a de facto Military Operations Area being applied across the entire highlands, including the regional center of Wamena.

Papuan civil and religious leaders Rev. Dr. Benny Giay and Rev. Socratez Sofyan Yoman, among others, have pointed to the failure of Indonesian authorities to control the illegal sale of weapons in the Central Highlands as contributing to the February 21 attack. They have also noted the government’s long term objective of creating a new military command in the Central Highlands, an intention that is well served by violence in the area. “We believe that the Indonesian government and the security forces  are part of the problem of violence [emphasis in original] which has been created by the state, preserved by the state and allowed to continue in order to legitimize yet more acts of violence in the Land of Papua and to take advantage thereof in order to strengthen the security forces,” they wrote.  Both leaders called anew for “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. ” They urged the release of political prisoners and an end to the violence. Giay is Chair of the Synod of KINGMI Church, Papua; Yoman, Chair of the Executive Board of the Alliances of Baptist Churches in Papua.


Papuans Seek to Join Melanesian Spearhead Group

Radio Australia, on February 5 reported that West Papuans are seeking membership in the Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG), a regional political and trade block which represents Melanesian peoples in the region, with the exception of the Papuan people in Indonesian-controlled New Guinea. The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation presented its petition asking to join the group to the MSG Secretariat in early February.

The MSG is comprised of four nation states: Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands. The group also includes the FLNKS of New Caledonia. The inclusion of the FLNKS, a non-state actor, could serve as a precedent for inclusion of the Papuan petitioners.

U.S. Author Defames Papuan People; Ignores Consequences of Indonesian Occupation

Papuan civil society leaders strongly protested statements in a book by U.S.-based author Jared Diamond which portray Papuans (in both parts of New Guinea) as warlike and backward. Diamond’s argues in The World Until Yesterday that “most small-scale societies… become trapped in cycles of violence and warfare” and that “New Guineans (Papuans) appreciated the benefits of the state-guaranteed [Indonesian Government] peace that they had been unable to achieve for themselves without state government.”

Papuan leaders noted that Diamond ignored the extraordinary violence meted out to Papuans by Indonesian security forces since Jakarta forcibly annexed West Papua over four decades ago. Diamond also ignored Jakarta’s deliberate marginalization of indigenous peoples in favor of non-Papuan “transmigrants” brought to West Papua in a decades-long project that amounts to ethnic cleansing.

Among the many protests was one by Dominikus Surabut, currently jailed for treason for peacefully declaring West Papuan independence. He aptly compared the relationship of Papuans and the Indonesian state to South African apartheid. In a statement smuggled out of his jail cell, he said, “This is the very nature and character of colonial occupation of indigenous peoples, where they are treated as second class citizens whose oppression is justified by painting them as backwards, archaic, warring tribes — just as suggested by Jared Diamond in his book about tribal people.”

Diamond was sued for defamation by purported “sources” from Papua New Guinea for article published in the New Yorker magazine in 2008. While the suit was withdrawn, it is expected that it will be re-filed soon.

WPAT Comment: The U.S. government leaders, in justifying the betrayal of Papuan self-determination aspirations in the infamous New York Agreement of 1962, similarly demeaned the supposed backwardness of the Papuan people. Both  the U.S. then and Diamond in his recent analysis rely on defamation of the people being victimized.

See various statements by Papuan leaders at: http://assets.survivalinternational.org/documents/877/papuanstatementsupdated.pdf

Tensions Grow Along Indonesia-PNG Border

The Papua New Guinea government announced the deployment of new military forces to its border in order to protect PNG citizens located near the border from the Indonesian military. The surprising February 18 announcement was accompanied by a formal protest by PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government over the Indonesia’s construction of new military posts along the border. The protest also addressed Indonesian military harassment of PNG citizens.

WPAT Comment: The Indonesian military has long operated smuggling operations across the Indonesia-PNG border and has regularly harassed Papuan refugees who have fled military pressure from Indonesia-controlled West Papua to Papua New Guinea.


A Half Century of Failure

Bobbie Anderson in Inside Indonesia provides a detailed and insightful portrayal of life in remote, rural West Papua. Anderson describes how life is extraordinarily difficult and dangerous for Papuans and writes that the population there is completely bereft of government services. The government’s neglect of the majority of Papuans who live in rural West Papua over a half century is perhaps the most devastating critique of Indonesian governance.

Urgent Appeals on Behalf of Papuans Detained and Tortured by Police

Amnesty International is calling for action to help two men detained in Jayapura. The February 25 Urgent Action states that “Daniel Gobay and Matan Klembiap are currently detained at the Jayapura district police station in Papua province. Police officers allegedly tortured or other otherwise ill-treated them and five other men while interrogating them about the whereabouts of two pro-independence activists.” While the other five were released, the other Gobay and Klembiap “have not received medical treatment and they have not had access to a lawyer since their arrest.”  The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) also released an alert on the case, as well as a video with an interview with two of those picked up at the same time as Gobay and Klembiap. The two activists, Eneko Pahabol and Obed Bahabol, describe how they “were arrested and tortured by the police on 15 February 2013 on the false allegation of being related with two pro-independence activists.” The video is available on AHRC’s YouTube Channel on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMI1HouWMv4.

Prison Torture

On February 22, AHRC has issued an Urgent Appeal on behalf of prisoners at the Abepura Correctional Facility. The appeal cites allegations of  torture by guards. It details how three prison guards “with the acquiescence of the head of the prison,” beat the prisoners “with bare hands as well as whipped [them] with thick wire until some parts of their bodies were bleeding. The guards did not give any medical treatment to the tortured prisoners.”

Papuans Behind Bars

Papuans Behind Bars published an “Update” in which it reports that “At the end of January 2013 there were 33 political prisoners in Papuan jails.”  The Update contains important information on prisoners, prisoner releases and ongoing and upcoming political trials in the region. Papuans Behind Bars is a new grassroots initiative of Papuan civil society groups working together as the Civil Society Coalition to Uphold Law and Human Rights in Papua. The project plans to “provide accurate and transparent data, published in English and Indonesian, to facilitate direct support for prisoners and promote wider debate and campaigning in support of free expression in West Papua.”

The project will publish records of over 200 current and former political prisoners on its website, which will go live in March.

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1303wpap.htm

Back issues of West Papua Report


West Papua Report September 2011

This is the 89th 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.

Summary: Twenty-six members of the U.S. House of Representatives appealed to Indonesian President Yudhoyono to release Papuan prisoner of conscience Filep Karma, noting concern that “your government meet its fundamental obligations to protect the rights of its people, as respect for human rights strengthens democracy.” The bipartisan letter call Karma’s case “an unfortunate echo of Indonesia’s pre-democratic era.” Amnesty International, meanwhile, appealed for the release of another Papuan, Melkianus Bleskadit, imprisoned for peaceful dissent. The Indonesian government granted a three month remission to the sentence of Papuan political prisoner Buchtar Tabuni on the occasion of Indonesian independence day, who was then released. The leak of secret Special Forces (Kopassus) documents reveal systematic Kopassus surveillance and intimidation targeting Papuans and even international personnel seeking to document human rights concerns in West Papua. The documents label prominent international leaders including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu and dozens of members of the U.S. Congress as supporters of “separatism” in West Papua. Human Rights Watch urged that in the wake of the documents revelations that the U.S. military cease all activities in cooperation with Indonesian military units in West Papua. Papuans leaders to convene a broad congress in October. Papuan leaders write U.S. Congress to call for peacekeepers. Church leaders and ordinary civilians have called for an end to Indonesian military intimidation in the Paniai District. The Indonesian military commander has ruled out negotiations with armed separatists in West Papua, indicating the extent to which the TNI calls the shots in West Papua. In an organizational statement WPAT has called for Papuans to be afforded the internationally recognized right to self-determination.


U.S. Congressional Representatives Renew Call for Release of Filep Karma

On August 22, a bipartisan group of 26 members of the U.S. House of Representatives called on the Government of Indonesia to free Papuan activist Filep Karma, saying that his detention raised questions about the Indonesia’s commitment to democracy. The House members expressed concern that Karma has suffered “degrading and inhumane treatment” in prison arguing that “(a)s a strategic partner, we remain concerned that your government meet its fundamental obligations to protect the rights of its people, as respect for human rights strengthens democracy.”

In letter, addressed to Indonesia’s President Yudhoyono, the congressmembers wrote that “Mr. Karma’s case represents an unfortunate echo of Indonesia’s pre-democratic era.” The letter was organized by Republican Representative Joe Pitts and Democratic Representative Jim Moran.

U.S. lawmakers in 2008 wrote on behalf of Karma and Yusak Pakage, another Papuan activist who was also sentenced for raising the separatist flag. Indonesia pardoned Pakage last year

see also Freedom Now Welcomes Call of 26 Members of U.S. House for Release of Renowned Human Rights Advocate Filep Karma (PDF).

Amnesty International Calls for Release of Papuan Imprisoned for Peaceful Dissent

Amnesty International (AI), on August 25, issued an appeal on behalf of Papuan activist Melkianus Bleskadit, imprisoned in West Papua for his involvement in what AI noted was “a peaceful protest and for raising an independence flag.” AI called for his immediate and unconditional release, noting his sentence “highlights the continuing use of repressive legislation to criminalize peaceful political activities in the province.”

On December 14, 2010, Papuans took part in a peaceful march in Manokwari to protest against injustice and human rights violations by the Indonesian security forces. During the demonstration the “14 Star Flag”, a symbol of West Melanesian independence, was raised. The Manokwari Sub-district Public Order Police (Polres) arrested seven political activists: Melkianus Bleskadit; Daniel Yenu, a priest (see below); and five students – Jhon Wilson Wader, Penehas Serongon, Yance Sekenyap, Alex Duwiri and Jhon Raweyai. All seven men were charged with “rebellion” under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and with “incitement” under Article 160.

On 18 August the Manokwari District Court sentenced Melkianus Bleskadit to two years’ imprisonment. Yenu was sentenced to seven months and 16 days on 23 August 2011. Yenu was then released because he had spent more than eight months in detention. The five students trials are ongoing.

Yenu’s lawyer has raised concerns about his trial, saying that evidence not obtained from the location of the incident was impermissibly introduced and that Yenu was forced by the judges to defend against the charges on 16 August without his lawyer.

AI noted that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party, and the Indonesian Constitution guarantee the rights to freedom of expression, opinion, association and peaceful assembly.

Amnesty International, in its published appeal, called on the Indonesia to “withdraw government regulation No. 77/2007 that bans the display of regional logos or flags, which are used by separatist organizations.” The regulation is “contrary to the spirit of the 2001 Special Autonomy Law that granted Papuans the right to express their cultural identity,” AI said, adding “the ban on waving these flags cannot be considered legitimate grounds for restricting freedoms of expression and association as set out in the ICCPR.”

According to Amnesty International “at least 90 political activists in the provinces of Maluku and Papua have been imprisoned solely for their peaceful political activities. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.”

Buchtar Tabuni is Finally Freed

Indonesian authorities released from prison, Buchtar Tabuni, chairman of KNPB, the West Papua National Committee. Tabuni was one of 656 prisoners in Papua to receive remission of his sentence on the anniversary of Indonesia’s independence on 17 August 1945. Tabuni was one of scores of Papuans recognized by international human rights organizations as a prisoner of conscience.

Buchtar said he regarded his remission, which shortened his sentence by a mere three months, as an ‘insult’ for the people of West Papua. Speaking to supporters at the prison gate, he said that he did not recognize the Indonesian independence day because “our ancestors never fought for an Indonesian government but (rather) fought for the Melanesian people.” Remission was merely an attempt by the Indonesian government to improve its reputation on the international stage.

“They think that with my release I will show my love and affection for Indonesia, but that is not so. I will continue my struggle for this nation even more radically than before,” he said. He congratulated the Indonesian government on the anniversary, but went on to ask the government to give its support to the Papuan people who are yearning for their independence.

Indonesian Special Forces Spying and Intimidation Targeting Civilians Revealed

Australia’s The Age reported on 19 classified documents, including over 500 pages and dating from 2006 to 2009, belonging to the Indonesian military “special forces” (Kopassus). The documents reveal a vast Kopassus network of spies and informants throughout West Papua that targets Papuans civil society leaders as well as foreigners visiting or working in West Papua. Well over 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, including the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, are branded separatist supporters in a document called “ Anatomy of Papuan Separatists.” South African anti-apartheid hero and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu and Papua New Guinea’s former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare are also so-labeled, along with journalists, academics and others within and outside West Papua.

The lists of House members appear to be taken from public letters from July 29, 2008 urging release of Papuan political prisoners and a March 17, 2005 letters from the Congressional Black Caucus to the UN Secretary General and U.S. Secretary of State asking for a review of the United Nation’s conduct in West Papua at the time of the “Act of Free Choice,” opposing U.S. military assistance to Indonesia and urging support for self-determination. Twenty Senators who signed a June 28, 2004 letter calling for United Nations Special Representative to Indonesia to monitor and report on the situations in Aceh and Papua are also listed as “in support of Free Papua Separatists.”

The Age reports that the documents reveal the “deep paranoia of Kopassus and its interference in the daily lives of Papuans, the documents are also remarkable for the false assertions they contain.” The documents also show the Indonesian government’s efforts to restrict the capacity of UN personnel, foreign parliamentarians, journalists, researchers and human rights advocates to monitor human rights violations in West Papua.

In a particularly powerful reaction to the disclosure of the Kopassus documents Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch urged the U.S. government to “call on the Indonesian government to fully disclose all military tribunal cases involving alleged abuses against civilians, including prosecutions for ‘disobeying orders,’ and provide transcripts to the public.” She added, “(u)ntil the Indonesian government re-examines these cases, in line with the U.S. Leahy law, which prevents the US from cooperating with abusive military units, the U.S. government should not participate in joint endeavors with military personnel or units working in Papua. The US should also call on Indonesia’s military to stop viewing peaceful political activists as threats to national security and stop spying on them.”

The West Papua Project at the University of Sydney, who received the documents earlier this year, published its own extensive analysis, “ Anatomy of an Occupation: The Indonesian Military in West Papua.”

Papuans to Convene To Address West Papua’s Future

Papuan leaders have announced plans for a Papuan Congress to convene in Jayapura, October 16-19. Selpius Bobii, chair of the organizing team for the congress, accompanied by Forkorus Yaboisembut , chair of Dewan Adat Papua (the Papuan Customary Council), told the media August 22 that the congress will include “All organizations of whatever kind, customary councils, ethnic groups as well as other organizations [who] will be able to present their own agendas.” Attendees at this “Third Papuan People’s Congress” will also include representatives of the DPRP, the Provincial Papuan Assembly.

The theme of the Congress is to be: “Affirming the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people for the present and the future.” The Papuan leaders speaking to the media noted that they planned to inform President Yudhoyono of the plans for the Congress though, they stressed, they would not be seeking his permission to proceed with it.

Bobii also urged the Indonesian government to implement the decisions of the grand meeting of the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua) together with the indigenous Papuan people held on 9-10 June 2010.

Papuan Leaders Appeal To U.S. Congressional Leaders

In an August 10 letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate the “collective leadership of the Papuan people” (including principally the leaders of the Dewan Adat Papua) appealed to the legislators and to the U.S. Government to continue to support efforts to defend the fundamental human rights of the Papuan people. The leaders also proposed the creation of an “International Peace Keeping Force,” pointing to the continuing abuse suffered by Papuans at the hands of the Indonesian security forces and the failure of the Indonesian government to halt these abuses or hold those committing those abuse accountable before the law.

The letter also informed the U.S. officials of plans for an extraordinary meeting of Papuans which will convene in Jayapura in October. (see above)

Church Leaders in Paniai Call for An End to Security Force “Repressive Military Measures”

Churches in Paniai District in the Central Highlands are very concerned about the situation following an armed skirmish that took place on 17 August and about reports that additional troops have been sent to Paniai to search for two firearms that were reportedly seized from police headquarters in Komopa on 15 August.

An August 28 press release issued by the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Paniai Diocese and the Commission for Justice and Peace of the KINGMI Church called on security officials to freeze the deployment of security forces in Paniai District. According to the August 29 JUBI the representative of the Diocese of Paniai, Fr. Marko Okto Pekei, and Yafet Tetobi of the KINGMI Church also called on military leaders to ensure that the forces already deployed in the district do “not roam round freely in the area with all their military equipment because doing so would only worsen the situation.” Villagers now thinking about returning home are afraid to do so because of continued military activity.

The church representatives urged all sides to realize that the preservation of security and an atmosphere of peace is the duty of all: community leaders, leaders of customary groups, leaders of women and youth, as well as the security forces and the TPN/OPM.

The two church commissions also expressed regret over the wounding of two people during an armed conflict that occurred on August 17 in Uwibutu, Madi. “We also deeply regret the actions of certain elements who have destroyed the economies of families living in the area.” Troops have also been conducting operations in search of two firearms reportedly seized from police headquarters in Komopa on August 15.

The church representatives said that problems between the security forces and the TPN/OPM should be handled by means of persuasion and urged that the security forces forego “repressive military measures” because they would only result in civilian casualties.

An August 25 report in JUBI, translated by TAPOL, notes that local people in Paniai called on the local military chief, the military commander command and President Yudhoyono to pull back these troops from the area.

Yafeth Y Kayame, head of the Suku Mee people, said the additional deployment of troops to Paniai has undermined calls for peace. “Local people have become more frightened than ever. People are asking ‘Why have they come to Paniai? Enarotali and Paniai are not areas of conflict so the authorities must stop sending troops here. If it is only to re-capture two firearms, then the troops already here would surely be enough, without bringing in more troops,’ they say.”

According to some sources, in addition to infantry brigade 753/Arga Vira Tama Nabire, a company of Brimob (the militarized police) was also reportedly being deployed to Paniai. Although this has been denied by Major-General Erfi Triassunu, commander of XVII/Cenderawasih military command, the fact is that these ‘new’ troops can be seen almost every day driving along the roads in convoys.

Meanwhile, according to the JUBI report, anxiety has continued to spread among the local people and many have left their homes with a new exodus starting on Tuesday (August 23).

Indonesian Military Continues to Call the Shots in West Papua

An August 26 Antara report contains comments by Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Commander Admiral Agus Suhartono that reveal that the TNI continues to control policy in West Papua, independent of civilian oversight. Suhartono said that the military will not negotiate with separatist movements, especially the Free Papua Movement (OPM). “There are no [negotiations], none, in any shape or form,” Admiral Suhartono told members of the People’s Representative Council (DPR) at TNI Headquarters in Jakarta. In his 2005 Indonesian Independence Day remarks, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that his then new administration wished to resolve the Papua question in a just, peaceful and dignified manner. That policy, which would mean an end to the use of repressive measures embodied by the military’s infamous “security approach,” has been supported by Papuan leaders, Indonesian experts and international organizations.

The refusal of the TNI to relent in its employment of “sweep operations” in response to the so-called “separatist threat” in West Papua, notwithstanding the human cost of these operations to Papuan civilians, runs counter to the professed intent of the civilian government’s to address decades of abuse and malfeasance in West Papua through nonviolent means.

The TNI refusal to accept civil control of the military in West Papua is also manifest in its refusal to be held accountable before the law. President Yudhoyono has repeatedly spoken of the need to ensure justice there. During a November 2010 visit by U.S. President Obama, President Yudhoyono assured the U.S. that the video-taped beating and torture of Papuan civilians by the military was being dealt with appropriately. This was untrue: what was being dealt with was an earlier case of military abuse of West Papuan citizens. Ultimately, as is typical, military courts convicted the perpetrators of the torture only of “disobeying orders” and sentenced them to minimum prison sentences.

WPAT COMMENT: The TNI’s continued resort to the “security approach” in West Papua, manifest most clearly in continued “sweep operations” that displace Papuan civilians and cost civilian lives, is an ongoing tragedy for Papuans. TNI unaccountability for its criminal activity, including systematic abuse of Papuan civilians and continuance of illegal “business operations” there, is a part of this continuing tragedy. But the TNI’s behavior in West Papua also has implications for Indonesian democracy more broadly. The TNI’s role in West Papua underscores that this institution remains above the law and insubordinate to the policy and direction of the civilian government. It constitutes a severe threat to the growth of Indonesian democracy.

WPAT STATEMENT: Papuans Must Be Afforded the Right to Self-determination

The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) has for many years sought to advance respect for the human rights of the Papuan people. To that end WPAT has advocated for an end to human rights violations by members of the Indonesian military, police, intelligence agencies, and others which are in blatant violation of Indonesian law and Indonesia’s obligations under international law and covenants. WPAT has also long advocated that the U.S. government condition its assistance to the Indonesian military and police on their cessation of human rights violations, submission to legal accountability for their past and ongoing actions and unconditional acceptance of civilian control.

This advocacy has also entailed concerted efforts to ensure that Papuans’ voices are heard, notwithstanding Indonesian government efforts to repress Papuans who seek to assert their right to peaceful dissent. In this regard, WPAT continues to support Papuan calls for an end to the persecution of political prisoners and an end to government restrictions on access to West Papua by international media, UN personnel, human rights monitors and researchers, and providers of humanitarian assistance. WPAT strongly supports Papuan calls for the demilitarization of West Papua and an end to Indonesian government reliance on a “security approach” to peaceful protest. WPAT has joined international calls for reform of the Indonesian criminal code which penalizes dissent notwithstanding Indonesian obligations under international law to protect the right of free speech and peaceful assembly.

It has long been WPAT’s conviction that human rights and personal freedoms are best secured in a legal environment shaped by democratic values and in a political framework based on genuine self-determination. This conviction grows out of the assertion of WPAT founder John Rumbiak who maintained that the root of the problems afflicting Papuans lay in the reality that they have never been afforded their right to self determination. That right is clearly articulated in international law including in Article 1 of the UN Charter, as well as in Article 1 of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and theInternational Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Indonesia is a party to both covenants.

WPAT considers that the people of West Papua have never been permitted genuine self-determination. That fundamental right was subverted by the Government of Indonesia, acting in complicity with much of the international community in 1969, when it coercively annexed West Papua through the fraudulent process known as the “Act of Free Choice.”

WPAT, for several years, has supported Papuan calls for an internationally mediated, senior-level dialogue between the Government of Indonesia and Papuans, represented by both Papuan officials and senior members of Papuan civil society. Papuans have supported such a dialogue as a means of addressing myriad outstanding problems confronting them, including:

  • human rights abuse at the hands of unaccountable security forces operating outside civilian control;
  • economic, political and economic marginalization of Papuans through deliberate Indonesian government policies such as transmigration;
  • Indonesian government failure to provide essential health, education and other services to Papuans;
  • and the destructive exploitation of West Papua’s natural resources in a manner that fails to benefit Papuans.

WPAT notes that in addition to Papuan calls for dialogue, there is also growing Papuan support for a referendum that would at long last allow Papuans a voice in their own political future. WPAT strongly supports the Papuan peoples right to self-determination and recognizes that a referendum conducted under conditions that allow for monitoring by international media and human rights organizations, among others would, at last, afford Papuans their long-denied right.

WPAT does not support independence for West Papua or any other specific outcome of a referendum or dialogue process. Such outcomes depend on the free choice of the Papuan people made peacefully, without coercion, subterfuge or pressure of any kind.

Back issues of West Papua Report

West Papua Report June 2011

West Papua Report
June 2011

This is the 86th 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.


The daughter of prominent Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma has written about the failure of justice in West Papua. In spite of democratic progress in much of Indonesia, she notes that “the old regime dies hard in West Papua.” Amnesty International‘s annual report on human rights trends in Indonesia documents continued human rights abuse, notably in West Papua, where AI cites the poor performance of security forces. The failure of the Indonesian government to afford justice in a number of outstanding cases of security force abuse in West Papua is exemplified in a recent case in which a civilian was killed by security forces who deny responsibility. The Indonesian government’s intervention to prevent an elected member of the Papuan Peoples Council from taking her seat is only the latest example of discrimination against Papuan women. The Indonesian military appears to be reassuming a major role in providing security for the Freeport mining complex. HIV/AIDS infections in West Papua continue to rise dramatically with the Freeport mine complex town of Mimika recording the largest increase. Observers continue to comment on the failure of “special autonomy” in West Papua.


Daughter of A Papuan Political Prisoner Calls for Justice in West Papua

Audryne Karma, daughter of Filep Karma,  one of West Papua’s most prominent political prisoners, published a May 23 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Ms .Karma, while praising the democratic advances under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono throughout much of Indonesia, observed that for West Papuans “the old regime dies hard. Indonesia has yet to realize the promise of democracy and human rights for all of its citizens,” she writes. After ten years of failed “special autonomy” policies, Ms. Karma writes that West Papuans were “systematically persecuted” as they sought to call attention to special autonomy’s “broken promises.”

The piece by Ms. Karma, boldly and articulately explains that in West Papua, those members of the security forces who commit torture targeting innocent Papuan civilians receive the lightest of sentences (if prosecuted at all) while Papuans who engage in peaceful protest demanding their human rights are locked up for years.

She persuasively describes the case of her own father, Filep Karma, who is serving a 15 year sentence for his peaceful protest. She describes how a notoriously biased judge sentenced her father to three times the sentence recommended by prosecutors and that his Christian faith was openly mocked in the courtroom. During his imprisonment he has suffered repeatedly at the hands of his jailers, denied urgent medical care and punished for his efforts to mediate a dispute within the prison where he is incarcerated.

Ms. Karma notes that her father is one of at least 130 political prisoners who suffer torture and other abuses within a penal system strongly criticized by UN and other international observers.

In a an affront to justice, Ms. Karma writes that in 2007, Indonesia’s Supreme Court struck down the sedition provisions of the Indonesian Criminal Code under which her father and many other political prisoners were prosecuted. None of the political prisoners convicted under these overturned provisions has been released.

Recalling President Obama’s November 2010 visit to Indonesia and his appeal that “every child born in this country be treated equally, whether they come from Java or Aceh; Bali or Papua,” Ms. Karma hopes that the international community would hold President Yudhoyono to this standard. “The Indonesian government cannot be an exemplar of democracy, human rights and the rule of law while it persecutes those who peacefully insist that it live up to those very aspirations.”

(Note: also see Pacific Scoop’s May 5, 2011, “Jailed Leader Filep Karma And The Fight For Papua’s Future.” a detailed and compelling analysis by renowned scholar Dr. Richard Chauvel of Victoria University in Australia.)

Amnesty International Calls Attention to Continuing Violations of Rights in Indonesia

In its annual report for 2011, released in May, Amnesty International issued a broad condemnation regarding the performance of Indonesian security forces and of the Indonesian judicial system, singling out for particular criticism their role in West Papua and Maluku:

“The security forces tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees, and used excessive force against protesters, sometimes leading to death. No adequate accountability mechanisms were in place to ensure justice or act as an effective deterrent against police abuses. The criminal justice system remained unable to address ongoing impunity for current and past human rights violations. Restrictions on freedom of expression were severe in areas such as Papua and Maluku.”

Security forces “tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees, particularly criminal suspects from poor and marginalized communities, and those suspected of pro-independence activities in Papua and Maluku provinces.”

Two videos which emerged during 2010 revealed “members of the police and military torturing and otherwise ill-treating Papuan men. The first video
showed Yawan Wayeni, a Papuan political activist, just before his death in August 2009.” Amnesty International observed that despite severe abdominal injuries, Wayeni “was denied medical assistance by the police.” The second video “showed Papuans being kicked and otherwise physically abused by members of the Indonesian military, and two Papuan men being tortured during interrogation.” The AI report noted also that “Indonesian officials confirmed the authenticity of both videos.”

The AI writes that “freedom of expression continued to be suppressed.” For example, Ardiansyah Matra, a journalist covering corruption and illegal logging in Papua, was found dead in the province in July. “At least 100 political activists were in prison for peacefully expressing their views in areas seeking independence such as Maluku and Papua.” AI calls attention also the case of Filep Karma (see above).

AI reports that “Impunity for past gross human rights violations in Aceh, Papua, Timor-Leste and elsewhere continued… Most past human rights violations against human rights defenders, including torture, murder and enforced disappearances, remained unsolved and those responsible were not brought to justice.

Failure of Justice in West Papua: A Continuing Saga

The Papuan Customary Council, DAP, expressed its disappointment with the rule of law in West Papua, including the number of cases in Papua that have not been solved, according to a May 14 report in Jubi, translated by Tapol.

DAP’s Forkorus Yaboisembut expressed disappointment that “the shooting of Opinus Tabuni on August 9, 2009 on International Indigenous People’s Day in Wamena has not yet been solved.’

Yaboisembut explained that “incidents like this result in the marginalization of the Papuans. They are being exterminated in their own homeland.’

The same Jubi article reports that Markus Haluk, the secretary-general of the Association of Students of the Central Highlands, complained that “a huge number of cases in Papua have remained unsolved. He mentions the Wasior case (2001), the Biak case (1998) and the Abepura case (2000).

These complaints about fractured justice in West Papua were made as yet another case of a Papuan killed by security forces was surfacing. According to a May 18 Jakarta Post report, a dispute involving members of the Indonesian military (TNI) allegedly led to the death of Papuan Derek Adii, 26, from Manokwari regency.

The article cites a news release by the synod of the Papuan KINGMI church which “said the incident erupted as a passenger ferry was about to leave the Samubase Port in Nabire.”

The synod report claimed that Adii called on soldiers blocking access to the ferry to make way after some children had reportedly fallen and been trampled by other passengers. The offended soldiers, who were part of the Nabire Military Command, then assaulted him. “One of the soldiers, Chief Sergeant Hans Aru, drew his bayonet and stabbed Derek in the eye and he died. His body was later thrown overboard,” according to the synod.

When asked for confirmation, the Jakarta Post wrote that Nabire Military commander Lt. Col. Tatang Suyatna denied the reports. “It’s slander,” Tatang said, who claimed that the soldiers were securing the ferry while it was docking when the incident took place. He alledged that the victim was fighting with other passengers who had accused him of stealing and the victim turned on the soldiers as they separated the fight and fell to the sea by accident. The commander did allow that the victim “could have been injured when he was falling overboard.”

A conflicting military account alleged that the victim was drunk.

WPAT Comment: The failure of Indonesian authorities to pursue justice in instances when Indonesian security forces kill or maim Papuans is common place as noted by Yaboisembut and Haluk. The May 18 incident offers an illustrative example of security force impunity in matters where death and injury to Papuans transpires.

Indonesian State Interference in Papuan Woman Leader’s Election to the MRP Underscores Discrimination Against Women

A May 23 Bintang Papua report, translated by TAPOL, notes that representatives of number of women’s organizations in Papua demonstrated peacefully to protest Indonesian government blocking of the swearing in of Hana Hikoyabi to her seat in the Papuan Peoples Council, the Majelis Rakyat Papua (MRP).

The women complained that no legal justification for Hikoyabi’s suspension had been given. They demanded transparency regarding the government’s action and insisted that the selection of the chairperson of the new MRP should not take place until there were clarity about the membership of all its 75 members. The demonstrator met with the acting-chair of the MRP, Joram Wambrauw, who said that he lacked the power to take a decision on this matter but promised to pass the women’s concerns to the governor of Papua.

Separately, in a May 10 interview with the Jakarta Post, Papua Human Rights Working Network coordinator Fien Yarangga observed that the barring of Hikoyabi from the MRP was an example of Jakarta’s intimidation targeting Papuans. The Indonesian government “frequently intimidates Papua in the name of the unity and integrity of the Republic of Indonesia, even though such a stance creates a culture of fear among Papuan officials with strategic positions in regional administrations,” she says.

Fien made the remarks at a press conference in connection with the government’s rejection of Hikoyabi as a member of the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) for the 2011-2016 term. Fien added that “a culture of intimidation has curtailed the development of democratization in Papua.” Fien cited the Home Minister’s refusal to accept Hikoyabi as a member of the MRP after she was declared not loyal to the state ideology Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, even though Hana had met all the requirements for the position. “There was no legal basis for this. It is more political intimidation and character assassination against Hana and even against all the Papuan people who selected Hana,” she said. Fien added that “the way taken by the Home Minister was also aimed at curbing critical Papuan women in defending their own people.

Writing in the May 1 Bintang Papua, Hikoyabi called her rejection “unlawful.”

“This places me in the difficult position of having been responsible for an act of treason – makar – whereas at the time that I nominated myself for member of the MRP from 2011 – 2016, I received an official confirmation from the local police and from the local court of law that I am well-behaved and have never been found guilty of anything or convicted of anything.”

Indonesian Military To Provide Security For Papua’s Freeport Mine

In a May 13 report published by national daily Republika, TNI Commander Suhartono told reporters that security at the massive Freeport copper and gold mine in West Papua would become a collaborative effort involving the military and police. He told the media that “TNI continues to support Polri in providing security at the vital installation, PT Freeport Indonesia.” Suhartono comments came following a meeting between TNI and police personnel in Timika, the major town in West Papua nearest the mining complex.

A separate report by Antara says that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked the Indonesian military and police to give security guarantee to businesses and investments in Papua as part of efforts to accelerate economic development. A presidential spokesman said that the President had listened to the views of PT Freeport Indonesia regarding security, suggesting that PT Freeport welcomed and may have sought the joint TNI-police security arrangement.

The expanded military role in securing Freeport comes in the wake of repeated violence. Freeport security personnel Daniel Mansawan and Hari Siregar were killed on the key mountain road to the mine site in early April. That attack followed by only a few days an unsuccessful attack on Freeport personnel and a January 2010 attack on a convoy that injured nine. Local authorities report no progress in apprehending the perpetrators.

The killing of Mansawan in particular has raised concerns among Papuans. Mansawan was one of the few Papuans to reach a senior position on Freeport’s staff. The failure of security forces and Freeport to pursue his killers aggressively has been the source of protest by local Papuans.

WPAT Comment: In the recent past, the Indonesian police had been assigned the role of protecting PT Freeport with the option of seeking TNI assistance as conditions warranted. This new arrangement, which comes on the heels of renewed violence targeting Freeport personnel in the past two months would appear to restore the TNI security role of previous years when the TNI had come under strong criticism over what many saw as extortion of PT Freeport with cash flowing from Freeport to senior TNI personnel.

HIV/AIDS Infections Rise Sharply in Papua with Area Near Freeport Leading The Trend

A May 6 report in Banjir Ambarita says that the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Papua and West Papua has risen more than 30 percent to over 17,000 in just four months as compared to 13,000 in August of 2010.

Kostan Karma, head of the Papua AIDS Prevention Commission (KPA), told the media “that the spike in infections was very worrying, and blamed it on the prevalence of unprotected sex.” He said that if the number of people living with the virus rose to one percent of the population of both provinces — which the 2010 census put at 2.8 million — the KPA would begin imposing mandatory testing for all new mothers in the region. He explained that this would at least help identify infected newborns, who could then get early treatment.

Kostan said that Mimika, adjacent to the PT Freeport copper and gold mining complex had shown the highest increase and overall number of infections.

The Papua AIDS Prevention Commission blamed the proliferation of new districts over the past 10 years as a factor for the spread of the virus.

“What’s happened is that there’s been more money spreading around, which encourages people to break with the traditional way of life and adopt a more modern lifestyle, including sexual promiscuity,” Kostan said. “What we’re trying to do is get churches to spread the message to get people to stop having casual sex, or if they must, to at least use a condom.”

WPAT Comment: Single male workers recruited by Freeport from outside West Papua to work at the mining complex have long fueled prostitution, gambling and alcohol and drug abuse in Mimika. This illicit activity operates under the protection of security forces in the area.

More Observers Comment on The Failure of Special Autonomy

An article in the May 15 issue of Jubi underscores the continuing unhappiness of Papuans with the “special autonomy” law (OTSUS). Olga Helena Hamadi, Director of the Commission for Disappearances and the Victims of Violence (KontraS) told the media that since the enactment of special autonomy, West Papua has been beset with problems. She noted that many buildings have been constructed that are of no benefit to the indigenous population, for example, the construction of commercial premises. ‘These buildings are for other people,’ (i.e., migrants) she said.

“As for the demands for permanent premises for Papuan businessmen, they are still struggling for this to happen. Their future is still very much in the air. The kind of premises they have been calling for have not been built by the government. The premises that have been built do not last long even though they have been calling for this since 2004, she said.”

OTSUS makes provision for a Commission of Truth and Reconciliation to be set up but all that has happened since OTSUS, she says, has been the creation of a National Human Rights Commission which “means that human rights violations, acts of violence and shootings are only dealt with by the Komnas HAM. The result is that many cases have got stuck, some of which got no farther than a court hearing. There has been no follow-up.”

Also, there has been no proper accounting for OTSUS funds. “There is no accountability because no procedures have been put in place,” she added,

All of this point to the failure of OTSUS.

For its part, the May 14 Jakarta Post carried a report by Nethy Dharma Somba that focused on problems with the special autonomy law. The article notes that the chairman of the special autonomy evaluation committee at the Papuan legislative council, Weynand Watori, told a forum in Jayapura that an evaluation on special autonomy implementation was needed to avoid both the failure of special autonomy and to address the continued poverty suffered by most Papuans.

He noted that special autonomy was designed to help improve education, health, economy and infrastructure for indigenous Papuans. In August 2005, Papuans held a rally at which they asserted that special had failed to bring prosperity to the people. Rallies were also held in July 2010 where protesters called on the legislative council to revoke special autonomy.

The forum agreed that an evaluation of the implementation of special autonomy was needed by involving all stakeholders with the council’s special committee as facilitator. Cenderawasih University in Jayapura and the Papua University in Manokwari, should be entrusted to prepare the right evaluation method.

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West Papua Report April 2011: VP rejects dialogue, MSG, more

West Papua Report
April 2011

This is the 84th 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.


Indonesia’s Vice President Boediono has begun implementation of a Presidential decree calling for the establishment of an inter-governmental agency to examine problems in West Papua. The initiative falls far short of widespread Papuan calls for a senior-level, internationally mediated dialogue between Indonesian officials and Papuans. A senior Papuan civil society leader has spoken out against this continued failure of Jakarta to engage in serious dialogue. Papuan church leaders have charged the Indonesian government with “genocide” in West Papua. The Melanesian Spearhead Group again failed to invite representatives from West Papua to its annual summit, instead inviting the Indonesian government to send observers. Indonesian officials violated the labor rights of Papuans by jailing nurses who called a peaceful, legal strike. A leading Papuan NGO chief has called for elimination of provisions in the Indonesian criminal code that violate Indonesia’s obligations under international conventions to which it is party.



  • The Indonesia Government Continues to Ignore Papuan Calls for Dialogue
  • Senior Papuan Faults Government Failure to Pursue Dialogue
  • Papuan Church Leaders Charge Indonesian with “Genocide”
  • Melanesian Spearhead Group Invites Indonesia as Observer, Continues to Bar Papuan Participation
  • Nurses Jailed in Labor Dispute
  • Demand for Elimination of Repressive Provisions in Indonesia’s Criminal Code

The Government of Indonesia Continues to Ignore Papuan Calls for Dialogue

The Jakarta Post reported that Indonesian Vice President Boediono planned to  convene a meeting on West Papua on March 28 in Jakarta. The meeting was to be the initial step in formulating a draft of a presidential decree to address issues regarding Papua. The regulation also aims to establish a special unit to accelerate development in Papua. According to the decree, the government will form a “delivery unit,” the Unit Percepatan Pembangunan Papua dan Papua Barat (UP4B/ Special Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua). Significant aspects of the draft include the promotion of a cluster-based approach to development, and an increased integration of the activities of the central and regional administrations. The planned regulation follows a presentation made by Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu and West Papua Governor Abraham Ocktavianus Atnuri to the national Cabinet in January.

Indonesia Vice President Boediono The late March meeting was to have included Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa and Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo, as well as unnamed Papuan representatives.

A March 9 interview by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Tom Allard revealed the Vice President’s intentions. Boediono told Allard that he rejected a bilateral dialogue, as called for by many Papuans, contending instead that his agency would assist multiparty communications. Boediono said he would welcome international donor aid money for West Papua but rejected any possible mediation role such as occurred in Aceh in 2005 when a peace accord mediated by internationally ended years of central government abuses carried out by security forces. Boediono told Allard that his new effort would aim at better communications, affirmative action for indigenous Papuans, and “more openness.” (The Jakarta government has long placed severe restrictions on journalists, UN and foreign government or NGO personnel seeking to visit West Papua.) Boediono offered no assurances that he would press for allowing Papuans the right to fly the Morning Star flag or that the heavy military presence in West Papua might be reduced.

Vice President Boediono made clear that this undertaking would not constitute a “dialogue.” There is no indication that this new body will address outstanding issue of human rights violations, impunity for those committing those abuses, notably in the military and police. This body will almost certainly not consider the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights, especially the right of self determination.

WPAT Comment: Boediono’s “agency” falls far short of persistent appeals by Papuan officials, civil society leaders as well as Papuan, Indonesian and international NGOs for a senior level, internationally-mediated dialogue between the Indonesian government and Papuan leaders. Indeed, Boediono, in his Sydney Morning Herald interview, made clear that this undertaking would not constitute a “dialogue.” There is no indication that this new body will address outstanding issue of human rights violations, impunity for those committing those abuses, notably in the military and police. This body will almost certainly not consider the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights, especially the right of self determination, which the central government has long denied Papuans.

Senior Papuan Faults Government Failure to Pursue Dialogue

Participation of Papuan provincial level officials in Vice Boediono’s meeting regarding West Papua (see report above) reflects the unwillingness of Papuan government officials to support the widespread call of their Papuan constituents for an internationally-mediated dialogue with the Jakarta government. Pastor Neles Tebay, coordinator of the Papua Peace Network – JDP discussed this failure of Papuan leadership candidly in a March 25 interview with JUBI.

Tebay noted frankly that neither of the provincial governments (Papua and West Papua) have reached agreement about the agenda of such a dialogue. Nor have either of the Papuan administrations issued statements officially supporting Jakarta-Papua dialogue. Tebay candidly assessed that the Papuan officials’ failure to endorse the popular calls for dialogue was because dialogue “is seen as being a separatist move and in opposition to what the Indonesian state is working for.” “Any individual who works for the government who expresses support for the idea of a Jakarta-Papua dialogue is in danger of losing his job because he is likely to be seen as a separatist. Anyone working for the government who expresses support for a dialogue places himself in danger and could lose his job,’ he said.

For his part, Father Tebay continues to pursue dialogue as a means of finding solutions to problems besetting Papuans. Tebay stressed that dialogue was not in itself a solution but rather would bring together the Papuan people and the Indonesian government to discuss the problems. The aim would be to discuss the problems and agree to the best possible solution.

Pastor Tebay said that so far, he has visited twelve districts in Papua to hold consultations. The districts he has visited so far include Merauke, Biak Enarotali, Timika, Wamena and Sorong.

He has also visited some other countries to discuss the question of dialogue including PNG, Vanuatu and Australia where he met Papuans in a number of cities. Everywhere he went, he encountered enthusiasm for the idea of finding a peaceful solution by means of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua.

Papuan Church Leaders Charge the Indonesian Government with “Genocide”

Papuan Church leaders in late March issued a “Theological Declaration of Churches in Papua.” The declaration includes one of the most forthright Papuan statements regarding genocide targeting Papuans. The statement which was forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (see full document at A Statement from a Group of Papuan Church Leaders) contends:

Transmigration policy and unrelenting military operations are, in our view well-planned programs to eventually annihilate indigenous Papuans. Papuans are positioned as “the other” and as such warrant surveillance, control, and civilization. Papuans are not equal citizens of Indonesia. Some observers in Jakarta view this as an internal colonialism or disguised slavery against Papuans.


Papuans have undergone a ‘silent history of suffering’ or memmoria passsionis leading to genocide. … The term genocide perhaps does not meet the criteria set forth by the UN, or other nations, or by Indonesia. But from our own view as victims, genocide is indeed taking place through the conditioning staged by Jakarta in the forms of ideology and development policies that are against the indigenous Papuans. Transmigration policy and unrelenting military operations are, in our view well-planned programs to eventually annihilate indigenous Papuans. Papuans are positioned as “the other” and as such warrant surveillance, control, and civilization. Papuans are not equal citizens of Indonesia. Some observers in Jakarta view this as an internal colonialism or disguised slavery against Papuans. 

Melanesian Spearhead Group Invites Indonesia as Observer, Continues to Bar Papuan Participation
Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit
Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit members and observers.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), comprising Vanuatu, the Solomon Island, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Kanaky peoples of New Caledonia, invited Indonesia (and Timor-Leste) to join their annual meeting. MSG leaders met March 31 in Suva, Fiji, for the annual summit which followed a meeting of foreign ministers March 29. The MSG did not invite any representation from West Papua.

A conference of solidarity groups supporting West Papua that convened in Sydney in February had called on the MSG not to offer observer status to Indonesia and instead to offer that status to representatives of the Papuan people of West Papua.

For its part, the Australian West Papua Association (AWPA) welcomed a statement from the Chairman of the MSG meeting, Ratu Inoke Kubuabol who said that “The Melanesia Spearhead Group feels for their brothers and sisters in West Papua.” Joe Collins of AWPA said “we urge the MSG to grant West Papua membership at the leaders summit. They would have the support of the Melanesian people across the region in granting West Papua membership.”

Collins noted that 42% included West Papua as part of the Melanesian family in the first ever telephone poll conducted by the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP) across Melanesia.. An overwhelming majority (75.4%) of respondents said yes to the question “Do you support independence for West Papua.” PiPP in a press release reported that when asked who they considered part of the Melanesian family, clear majorities included the established members (PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia) while 42% also included West Papua, 17.1% included Australia, 14.9% included Indonesia and 14.1% included Timor-Leste. PiPP also reported that when asked “Do you support independence for West Papua?” there was very high support in PNG (89.3%) and Vanuatu (88.2%).

Collins underscored that these numbers suggest a “disconnect between popular support and the position taken by governments in the region, except Vanuatu, which has long championed the West Papuan cause at the political level. He concluded, “we see that in the poll only 14.9% of respondents considered Indonesia to be part of the Melanesian family yet Indonesia has observer status but not West Papua. For the sake of the long term stability of the region we hope West Papua will be discussed at the leaders meeting.”

The meeting in Suva was controversial because Fiji is currently under military dictatorship.

WPAT Comment: West Papua is the largest Melanesian populated entity not represented within the MSG and the second largest Melanesian entity, after Papua New Guinea. Its continued exclusion from the MSG calls into question the legitimacy of the organization. Moreover, the MSG’s failure address the plight of Papuans, including ethnic cleansing under the rubric of “transmigration” and charges of “genocide” by credible organizations (see statement by Papuan church leaders above) exposes the lack of commitment among Melanesian leaders to the rights and welfare of Melanesian peoples. Vanuatu’s repeated and public expressions of concern about the plight of Papuans is a singular but noteworthy exception in this regard.

Nurses Jailed in Violation of International Convention

Mounting public pressure, including from members of the Papuan Provincial Assembly (DPRP), compelled the police to announce they would release eight nurses who had been jailed on charges of incitement (article 335 of the criminal code). However, purportedly because of the absence of a key police official required to sign the release order, it appears the nurses had not yet been released at the end of March.

These West Papuan nurses were pursuing their legitimate rights and it is obscene to think they are languishing in jail.

The eight had been jailed over their call for a strike by nurses at the DokII General Hospital. That strike, a peaceful, lawful labor action, was over promised but unpaid compensation. Letters have been sent to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as well as to Vice-President Boediono protesting the arrest of five nurses and midwives who work at the general hospital for organizing a strike.

The detention of the nurses violates their rights notably as set forth in International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize), which was ratified by Indonesia in June 1998.

The issue of the unpaid compensation remains unresolved. The local daily Bintang Papua reported on March 23 that nurses and midwives had taken the issue to the DPRD and the provincial governor where hundreds demonstrated. They charged that the provincial secretary Constan Karmadi had deceived the public when he promised in December 2010 that incentives would be paid.

The medical staff are planning to make a formal complaint against the provincial secretary to the Administrative Court, pointing out that Instruction 125/2010 has been issued for the payment of the incentives, only to be cancelled by a later instruction that withdrew any such payments.

There is growing international attention to the arrests and the failure of the Indonesian government to meet is contract obligations to the nurses. Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Ged Kearney has described the detention of the nurses as “outrageous” and called for their immediate release. She noted as well that “the arrests of the nurses, including two officials of the National Union of Indonesian nurses, was a heavy handed response to nurses pursuing a legitimate industrial campaign in support of their contracted entitlements. ”

“These West Papuan nurses were pursuing their legitimate rights and it is obscene to think they are languishing in jail,” added Kearney.

Demand for Elimination of Repressive Provisions in The Indonesian Criminal Code

The Papuan publication JUBI published an appeal on March 31 by the executive director of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid (LP3BH) Yan Christian Warinussy to the Dewan Adat Papua (DAP, Papuan Customary Council) to submit articles 106 and 107 of the criminal code on subversion and incitement (the ‘makar’ or subversion articles) of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) to the Constitutional Court for a judicial review.

“I call on DAP together with the Papuan people to seek a judicial review of the makar article before the Constitutional Court because it is no longer appropriate for such a law to remain in force in a democratic country like Indonesia. Other democratic states around the world don’t have such a law,” he said.

Many international organizations, including WPAT and ETAN have long called for the removal of these provisions from the Indonesian criminal code. The provisions date to the colonial era and were frequently used during the Suharto dictatorship to repress peaceful opposition. Indonesian officials continue to employ them to repress popular, peaceful dissent, particularly in West Papua where Suharto era practices, including unjust prosecution, persist.

The provisions violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights to which Indonesia is signatory.

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West Papua Report March 2011


West Papua Report

March 2011

This is the 83rd 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.


Newly obtained video footage reveals Indonesian security forces, including U.S. and Australian-backed Detachment 88 personnel, brutality in operations in West Papua’s Central Highlands. Indonesian NGOs and prominent Papuans have faulted President Yudhoyono’s newly announced approach to dialogue with Papuans with criticism of Jakarta’s failure to end human rights violations and impunity by security forces as a basis for dialogue. Papuans criticized Jakarta’s selection of a limited range of Papuans as dialogue partners and have urged a role for international mediators. A prominent West African leader has announced support for West Papua’s self-determination. The chair of the Papuan Peoples Council (DAP) denounced the Indonesian government’s policy of transmigration. The Asian Legal Resource Center has appealed to the UN Human Rights Council to address continued security force abuse of human rights in West Papua. A Papuan political prisoner who is gong blind as a result of an attack by a prison warder needs urgent care. A report from within West Papua details land grabs by the Indonesian military and “developers” which have targeted Papuans in the Sorong area.  Hamish McDonald considers Papuans’ struggle for self-determination in the light of recent similar successful examples within the international community.


New Video Footage Reveals Indonesian Military Brutality

Video footage released in early February reveals previously unseen Indonesian military brutality against Papuan civilians in Kapeso in 2009. The footage was released by West Papua Media and can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VD0eFA4scTo

The video shows the late May 2009 raid on the Kapeso airstrip in the village of Kampung Bagusa in Mamberamo regency by troops from Indonesia’s elite police counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88  as well as other security personnel from BRIMOB and other units. Detachment 88 was created at behest of the U.S. government and receives significant U.S. and Australian Government funding and training assistance.

The footage, filmed by a Detachment 88 officer on his mobile phone, shows the immediate aftermath of a raid to retake the airfield which had been occupied for several weeks by a small armed group and a large number of villagers. The bodies of at least five dead are visible on the ground and sporadic gunfire is clearly heard. It appears that the footage was taken well after the killing took place. Footage depicting security personnel taking cover behind desks appears to have been staged to suggest the conflict was continuing.

Disturbing scenes at the end of the footage appear to show two Papuan children tied up and being forced at gunpoint to crawl along the floor by the Indonesian military. The footage continues to show them in apparent pain while the soldiers taunt them. In another scene troops are shown firing at civilians cowering in adjacent brush.

Indonesian authorities have not investigated events surrounding the Kapeso occupation and shooting of civilians by security forces.

West Papua media commented that such footage of brutal Indonesian security force actions, amounting to  ‘trophy footage,’ is rampant among troops operating in the region.

For all media enquiries please contact Nick Chesterfield at West Papua Media on wpmedia_admin@riseup.net or +61409268978

In September 2010, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) called for suspension of U.S. aid to Detachment 88 “pending review of charges leveled against the unit for systemic human rights violations, including use of torture.”

Government’s “Dialogue” Approach with Papuans Faulted

The “Alliance for Papua” on February 25 issued a press statement that critiqued a government plan for dialogue with Papuans. The statement called on the government to better synchronize its plans for the dialogue with the reality of politics in Papua.  (See below for composition of this NGO alliance.)

The initial government approach calls for two presidential assistants to engage in dialogue with Papuans who would be represented by the Papuan branch of  the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the Papuan People’s Council (MRP), and the churches. The two presidential assistants are Bambang Darmono and Farid Husein.

The Alliance for Papua urged that the government to create appropriate conditions for dialogue by undertaking to “consistently protect and comply with the basic rights of the Papua people by ensuring that there is no repetition of violations of Papuan human rights.” The alliance also urged that the government review the presence of the TNI security forces and the undercover security operations “that continue to occur.”

According to the alliance, the government also should not proceed with the election of members of the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua, Papuan People’s Council). The MRP is an institution that was mandated by Papua’s special autonomy law (OTSUS). The vast majority of the Papuan people have declared that OTSUS has failed “because it has not taken sides with, given protection to, empowered and fulfilled the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people.”

The alliance points out that the government has nevertheless pressed ahead with the election of a second-term MRP in 15 districts of Papua. The second-term MRP is due to be sworn into office soon. The alliance objects to proceeding with the seating of the MRP because the election of MRP members “has not been transparent and has failed to comply with the [mandated] electoral stages.”  The alliance also contends that the counting of the votes has been deeply fraudulent.

The alliance argues that seating the fraudulently elected MRP members “will only reinforce the Papuan people’s sense of  disappointment towards a government that lacks any understanding and has shown no respect for local Papuan feelings.”

For his part, the outgoing chairperson of the MRP, Forkorus Yoboisembut criticized the government approach to dialogue by arguing that those Papuan groups that the government has announced as dialogue partners are not representative of the people because they don’t fully understand the Papuan problem. He contended that the government approach to dialogue would amount to the government talking to itself ” because they are  all within the same system, and this would solve nothing.” He urged instead that the dialogue be with DAP (Dewan Adat Papua, Papuan Traditional Council)  , the Papuan resistance (OPM), the Papuan parliament, and other Papuan groups.

Separately, the executive director of LP3BH,Yan Christian Warinussy said a neutral party should mediate the Jakarta-Papua talks,  He suggested an international group such as the Henri Dunant Centre or a foreign country with experience in handling conflict resolution, including Aceh.

WPAT Note:  The Alliance for Papua in Jakarta was set up as an expression of solidarity with humanitarianism, in support of fellow human beings in their struggle for justice and truth. The Alliance includes KontraS, ANBTI, IKOHI, Imparsial, Foker LSM Papua, Setara Institute, HRWG, Komnas Perempuan, FNMPP, IPPMAUS, Forum Papua Kalimantan, PGI, Walhi, JIRA, LBH Pers.

West African Leader Supports Papuan Self Determination

WestPan, Canada’s West Papua Action Network, reports that the President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade has become the first African leader to publicly back West Papua’s bid for self determination, stating that “West Papua is now an issue for all black Africans.”

His comments came in late January during a conference in Senegal’s capital Dakar, attended by Benny Wenda, a West Papuan activist who was granted political asylum by the British Government in 2003. Benny Wenda addressed the audience, telling them about the situation in his homeland. Following his address Wenda presented the President with a Papuan headdress, and was warmly embraced by him. The President then addressed the audience, urging all African nations to take attention to the West Papua issue and do whatever they can to help.

In 1969, when Indonesia, with the backing of the United States, sought UN approval for its annexation of West Papua through the fraudulent “Act of Free Choice,” it encountered significant resistance in West Africa where the memories of colonialism were still strong.

Papuan People’s Council Condemns Transmigration as Harmful to Local People

Responding to a report that the government plans to send more transmigrants to Papua, the chair of Dewan Adat Papua (Papuan People’s Council) Forkorus Yoboisembut https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/reg.westpapua/2011-02/msg00051.html asserted that continuation of transmigration would transform the Papuan people into a minority in their own lands and trigger conflicts.  “‘As the representative of the adat (traditional) people in Papua, I reject the transmigration program which fails to safeguard the position of the local people,” he said.

Forkorus’s statement came after media reports that the central government has allocated Rp 600 billion to pay for the transmigration of people from Indonesia to a number of so-called “under-populated”  places in the Indonesian archipelago, including Papua. https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/reg.westpapua/2011-02/msg00068.html

“I hope the central government will consider this matter carefully because the transmigration program to Papua has already resulted in the marginalization of the indigenous people in the context of (so-called) development work,” Forkorus stated.

Forkorus said that the location of transmigrants in many places in Papua has made it difficult for the local communities to preserve their own culture and lifestyles. Development of more luxurious migrant lifestyles, he explained, intensifies the marginalization of the local people.

In addition, because the government has lavished attention on the transmigrants, feelings of envy emerge.

Forkorus also noted that Papuans’  marginalization in their own homeland is evidenced by the cat that vast majority of those now running the economy are non-Papuans.  Forkorus added that Papuans are not yet able to compete with the newcomers in economic affairs.

(WPAT Comment:  Papuans rank at the bottom in Indonesia in terms of central government provision of health care, education services and employment creation. In the province of West Kalimantan, decades of central government driven “transmigration” has transformed the indigenous Dayak into a minority in their homeland and led to conflicts, particularly with Madurese transmigrants, along the lines of Forkorus’s concerns. The policy, abandoned during the Suharto dictatorship due to international condemnation, has been resumed under the Yudhoyono administration despite criticism that it is tantamount to ethnic cleansing.)

Human Rights Council Hears Urgent Appeal Regarding Human Rights Abuse in West Papua

On February 22, the Human Rights Council heard an urgent plea from the Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) regarding worsening human rights abuse in West Papua and the impunity accorded perpetrators of that abuse. The statement said in part:

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 stigmatize them, subjecting them to abuse.

The ALRC statement recounts two of the more flagrant examples of abuse and impunity where military personnel were videoed beating and torturing Papuan civilians (see West Papua Report December 2010). Those prosecuted for this received minimal sentences. The ALRC statement comments:

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.

The statement underscores the inadequacy of the Indonesian military and civilian court systems for addressing the continuing abuses:

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…

The ALRC urgently calls for remedial action by the Indonesian government:

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 also recommended that the Indonesian government undertake steps to reduce tensions and address outstanding injustice:

…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.

The ALRC underscored the role and responsibility of the international community in addressing the ongoing abuses and impunity:

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.

Note: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organization holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organization 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.

Journalist Organization Chief Calls for Reporting on Human Rights in West Papua

The chair of the the Papua chapter Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) speaking in Jayapura, urged the press in Papua to regularly monitor cases of human rights violations in Papua, according to a report published in February 11 JUBI and translated by TAPOL.

AJI’s Victor Mambor emphasized the importance of the media reporting the human rights situation in Papua saying this can help reduce acts of repression against the civilian population.

He added that many reports about human rights in Papua were only available from NGOs active in the field, and these were frequently quoted in reports that appear in the media. He stressed the importance in ensuring  that these reports are accurate and credible. Journalists should provide the appropriate  references to make it easier for others to investigate the violations that occur.

WPAT Comment:  Reporting on human rights violations in West Papua, particularly in instances where the TNI or police were involved, pose risks for journalists. Manokwari area reporter Ardiansyah Matra was murdered in July 2010 following his investigative reporting regarding police and military coercion targeting civilians in the development of the MIFEE plantation project in Manokwari. AJI has been active in following up on this case. Government restrictions placed on foreign journalists and NGO personnel impede their access to West Papua and reporting on human rights in the region.

Papuan Political Prisoner Denied Adequate Medical Treatment

New concerns have been raised about the inadequate medical treatment afforded Papuan prisoners of conscience Ferdinand Pakage. He is going blind following a beating by prison authorities in 2010.

Peneas Lokbere, chair of SKPHP HAM Papua (Solidarity for the Victims of Human Rights Violations in Papua), told JUBI that his organization is continuing to press for medical treatment for Ferdinand Pakage.  “We will continue to fight for treatment after he was struck in the eye by an official of the Abepura Prison. This caused his eye to bleed and he is now not able to see any more with this eye” said Lokbere.

SKPHP is working with Pakage’s family to press the prison authorities to speed up medical attention to his condition. Lokbere explained that his organization has been demanding treatment for Pakage since last year, when they sought permission for him to go to Jakarta where treatment is available. However, according to Lokbere, Prison Director Liberti Sitinjak refused permission for any transfer of Pakage out of West Papua. Lokbere noted that in 2010, Pakage was told by a doctor at the West Papua General Hospital in Dok II say that he needed to have an operation in Jakarta. The doctor said that his eye was badly damaged and that even if he does get medication in Jakarta, he will continue to be blind.

Pakage was assaulted by prison warders Alberth Toam, Victor Apono and Gustaf Rumaikewi while in detention in Abepura. Toam struck the blow that injured Pakage’s eye. None of the warders has been held responsible for this assault. Pakage is now held in custody with common criminals, including those convicted of violent crimes.

Military and Military-Backed “Developers” Seize Papuan Lands

A Sorong-area leader has illegally transferred Papuan tribal lands to the Indonesian military (TNI) and to non-Papuans. The transferred land is vitally important, affording resources that are key to Papuan survival. Victims include Papuans belonging to various clans and tribes including the Osok, Mambringofok Idik and Fadan peoples in Klamono and Semugu and Kalaibin among others. The TNI has employed terror and intimidation targeting local Papuans to enforce the land transfers. The land sites are located along the Sorong to Klamono road at kilometer markers 16, 38 and 49 in the western end of the territory.

The military and non-Papuan developers will exploit the land for military base construction and oil palm plantation development.  Specifically, local District Chief (Regent) Stefanus Malak provided land to the navy at km 16  and to the army at Km 38 to build a bases (the latter land belongs to the Semugu clan).  Land was also transferred to the TNI, without tribal consent, at Km 49. This site will be used by the TNI to develop a palm oil plantation.

Seizure of land by the TNI, especially through use of force, violates various international obligations undertaken by Indonesia including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Article 30:

“1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a  relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed to or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned.

“2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or territories for military activities.”

Analysis Considers Papuan Self-Determination Struggle in Context of Similar Recent Successful Efforts

The Sydney Morning Herald on February 26 published an analysis comparing Papua’s struggle for self-determination with some recent anti-colonial struggles. “A Worm Inside the New Indonesia” by veteran journalist Hamish McDonald draws on the experiences of south Sudan and Kosovo, two emerging nation states as potential models for West Papua. McDonald, former Foreign Editor of the Herald with extensive experience in Indonesia, concludes that these developments have had the effect of rendering “respect for the territorial integrity of states and post-colonial boundaries somewhat tattered.”

Indonesia has long insisted that the international community affirmatively express public recognition of its “territorial integrity” in the context of West Papua. Similarly, Indonesia  once demanded international recognition of its territorial integrity to include its annexation of East Timor, though with less success.

McDonald cites Akihisa Matsuno of Osaka University as suggesting that between Kosovo and southern Sudan, the later would appear to offer a more applicable precedent for West Papua. Sudan became independent in 1956 from British rule, but has been in civil war most of the time since. A 2005 peace agreement finally conceded a referendum on independence by the south. This suggests to Matsuno that a lack of integration between territories ruled by the same colonial power can justify a separate state. McDonald writes that ”this means that colonial boundaries are not as absolute as usually assumed.”

There is a broad international consensus that the 1969 Indonesian annexation of West Papua was in violation of its UN mandate to administer the territory and entailed a transparently fraudulent referendum, the “Act of Free Choice.”  McDonald writes that  Richard Chauvel, an Indonesia scholar at Melbourne’s Victoria University, described West Papua as Indonesia’s ”Achilles’ heel” and the conference. Chauvel argued that, notwithstanding Indonesia’s democratic progress since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship, West Papua remains “Indonesia’s last and most intractable regional conflict.” As such, Chauvel contends,  ”Papua has become a battleground between a ‘new’ and an ‘old’ Indonesia. The ‘old’ Indonesia considers that its soldiers torturing fellow Indonesians in a most barbaric manner is an ‘incident’. The ‘new’ Indonesia aspires to the ideals of its founders in working towards becoming a progressive, outward-looking, cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-faith society.”

McDonald concludes that, as demonstrated by the ongoing developments in the Middle East, “the new media make it harder and harder to draw a veil over suppression. In the Indonesia that is opening up, the exception of West Papua will become more glaring.”

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