Tag Archives: wikileaks

AWPA: Time to rethink ties with Kopassus.

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Media release   16 August  2011
Time to rethink ties with the Indonesian Special Forcesunit, Kopassus.
In light of the  leaked  Kopassus documents AWPA is calling on the Australian Government to rethink its policy of ties between the Australian military and the Indonesian Special Force Group, Kopassus. The leaked  documents show  lists of West Papuans  who are supposed to be supporting  separatism when in reality they are members of civil society organisations concerned about the human rights situation and the welfare of the people of West Papua.
Joe Collins of AWPA said “the level of spying by the Indonesian military  on West Papuans is oppressive, with  agents spying at  every level of West Papuan society.   There is an obvious systematic campaign to intimidate both  human rights defenders  and  the West Papuan peoples a whole “.
 It is now Forty eight years since Indonesia took over administration of West Papua from  UNTEA in 1963 and the West Papuan people still continue their struggle for justice and self-determination. The large peaceful rallies by thousands of West Papuans  at the beginning of this month  calling for a referendum indicate just how unhappy  West Papuans are with Jakarta‘s rule over their lives.
Jakarta should be asking the question, why?
In May the military began a “socialising programme “ in Puncak Jaya with the idea of   renovating  homes, churches and markets while in July the people of the region  suffered another military operation with reports of up to 600 members of the security forces  involved in sweeps through the region  resulting in  civilian and military casualties.  This is all reminiscent of the US programme in Vietnam to try and win the  “hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people.
It is unfortunate that various sources in the security forces and government try to blame the troubles in West Papua on overseas involvement with one police official saying there are indications that there is “suspected foreign funding of the OPM “. Yet in December last year   cables released by WikiLeaks in relation to West Papuan human rights  revealed that US diplomats blame the government in Jakarta for unrest in West Papua due to neglect, corruption and human rights abuses.
To avoid the situation in West Papua deteriorating further Jakarta should  take up the offer of dialogue from  representatives of
civil society organisations in West Papua who have been calling on Jakarta for years to dialogue with the West Papuan people to try and solve peacefully all the issues of concern they have.  As Winston Churchill is reported to have said   “to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war
AWPA is urging the Australian Government yet again  to put a moratorium on the training, funding and any ties between  the Australian military and the special forces unit  Kopassus, until a full inquiry is held into the activities of these units in relation to  human rights abuses in the archipelago.
Info. Joe Collins
Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Mob. +61(0)4077 857 97

AWPA calls on the MSG to give full membership to the Melanesian people of West Papua.

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

Media release 22 March 2011

In an open letter to the leaders of the MSG, AWPA calls on the MSG to give full membership to the Melanesian people of West Papua.
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Joe Collins of AWPA said “as the MSG is allowing Indonesian to attend as an observer at the coming meeting in Suva, the MSG should offer full membership to the Melanesian people of West Papua. The issue of West Papua will not disappear and AWPA believes that as the situation in West Papua deteriorates further , it could lead to instability in the region”.

At the coming MSG summit in Fiji AWPA is urging the MSG Leaders to discuss the deteriorating human rights situation in West Papua and to make a public statement of concern regarding the human rights situation in the territory.

We note that the MSG is to allow Indonesia to attend as an observer at the MSG summit. AWPA urges the MSG to now offer full membership to the Melanesian people of West Papua, to those representatives of the West Papuan people involved in the independence struggle. A precedent previously given by the MSG to Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) of Kanaky (New Caledonia).

We believe the MSG can play an important role in helping facilitate dialogue between genuine representatives of the West Papuan leadership and the Indonesian Government. The West Papuan people have been calling on the international community for years to support such dialogue as a way of solving the many issues of concern in West Papua. We urge the MSG to do all it can to help facilitate such a dialogue.

We note that the MSG recently visited New Caledonia at the invitation of the Front de Libération National Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS). We encourage the MSG leaders to also pay a fraternal visit to West Papua in a show of solidarity with the Melanesian people of West Papua.

Info. Joe Collins Mob 04077 857 97

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Open Letter to MSG leaders

22 March 2011

Dear Prime Minister,

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), is writing to you concerning the issue of West Papua.[1] The human rights situation in West Papua has continued to deteriorate since the last Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit with ongoing human rights abuses occurring in the territory. We understand that you are aware of the issues of concern in West Papua including the human rights situation, highlighted in particular by the shocking video footage of West Papuans being tortured by Indonesian soldiers. The torture of the men prompted a wave of international criticism with human rights organisations around the world condemning the actions of the Indonesian military.

We will not go into detail about all the human rights abuses that were committed by the Indonesian military since the last MSG summit. However, the points below show the dangers the West Papuan face on a daily basis.

In October 2010, a report accused the police of burning down the village of Bigiragi in the Puncak Jaya district. The report said that 16 Mobile Brigade officers had burned the village to the ground on October 11. The report said that at least 29 homes were destroyed in the incident leaving at least 150 people homeless

In November an investigative journalist released a secret report by a Kopassus task force which shows a list of West Papuans engaged in human rights work are a target of the Indonesian Special Force Group, Kopassus. The list includes members of civil society organisations, church groups , activists, students and members of the MRP.

In December, cables released by WikiLeaks revealed that in the opinion of US diplomats, they blamed the government in Jakarta for unrest in West Papua According to the leaked US diplomatic cables the US believes that the Indonesian Government is causing unrest in West Papua due to neglect, corruption and human rights abuses.

Also In December the Papua chapter of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) reported a 70 percent increase in the number of cases of violence in Papua, most of which were allegedly committed by security officers. The Jakarta-based Legal Aid Foundation in another report said Indonesian law enforcers routinely torture suspects and convicts to extract confessions or obtain information. The groups report found beatings, intimidation and rape are so commonplace they are considered the norm. It also found that few victims believe they have the right to lodge complaints.

The issue of West Papua will not disappear and AWPA believes that as the situation in West Papua deteriorates further it could lead to instability in the region.

At the coming MSG summit in Fiji AWPA urges the MSG Leaders to discuss the deteriorating human rights situation in West Papua and to make a public statement of concern regarding the human rights situation in the territory.

We note that the MSG is to allow Indonesia to attend as an observer at the MSG summit. AWPA urges the MSG to now offer full membership to the Melanesian people of West Papua, to those representatives of the West Papuan people involved in the independence struggle. A precedent previously given by the MSG to Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) of Kanaky (New Caledonia).

We believe the MSG can play an important role in helping facilitate dialogue between genuine representatives of the West Papuan leadership and the Indonesian Government. The West Papuan people have been calling on the international community for years to support such dialogue as a way of solving the many issues of concern in West Papua. We urge the MSG to do all it can to help facilitate such a dialogue.

We note that the MSG recently visited New Caledonia at the invitation of the Front de Libération National Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) We encourage the MSG leaders to also pay a fraternal visit to West Papua in a show of solidarity with the Melanesian people of West Papua.

Yours sincerely

Joe Collins

AWPA (Sydney)

AWPA: West Papua 2010 Chronology of events

The Australia West Papua Association has produced a very useful chronology of all key events that occurred in West Papua in 2010.  The full document can be accessed here: West Papua 2010 Chronology of events,

The introduction is reprinted below:

Human rights situation in West Papua[1]

The human rights situation in West Papua continued to deteriorate in 2010. One incident in particular highlighted the worsening human rights situation and that was the shocking video footage of West Papuans being tortured by Indonesian soldiers. The video showed several men in military fatigues torturing two Papuans. The soldiers in the video threaten the two men with sharp weapons and pressed a burning bamboo stick against one of the men’s genitals. The torture of the men prompted a wave of international criticism with human rights organisations around the world condemning the actions  of the Indonesian military.  This incident was not an isolated incident and in further evidence of  human rights abuses another report  accused the police of burning down the village of Bigiragi in the Puncak Jaya district.  The report said that 16 Mobile Brigade officers had burned the village to the ground on October 11. The report said that at least 29 homes were destroyed in the incident leaving at least 150 people homeless

Military operations in Puncak Jaya

A number of  military operation took place in the Puncak Jaya region in 2010 and in fact security operations have been ongoing in the Puncak Jaya region for years . Security forces  conduct regular sweeps  (military operations) in the area to pursue members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM).  Many reports have pointed out the the security forces have great difficulty distinguishing  between what the term separatists  and the general public. These operations leave the local people traumatised and in fear for their lives.  In a report in Bintang Papua (29 June)  The local chief of police admitted that “the OPM  are all over the place including in the town of Mulia, mingling with the community. He said that because the features of the mountain people are almost the same as other people in the area, ‘it is making it very difficult for us to differentiate  between who is OPM and who is just an ordinary member of the community”. This statement raises great concerns that civilians are in danger of being targeted as members of the OPM. During these military operations villages have been destroyed as well as  gardens and livestock. In September  the House of Representatives (DPR) Law Commission deputy chairman, Tjatur Sapto Edy lamented the military operations in the Puncak Jaya Regency following a report by the  National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM). Tjatur said there should be no more military operations and such approaches  are no longer suitable in a democracy. A report by Komnas HAM’s Papua chapter revealed 29 cases of rights abuses occurred in Puncak Jaya regency from 2004-2010, including the torture and rape of villagers in March 2010 by law enforcers.

In September  an article in the the SMH alleged that Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism unit, Detachment 88, brutalised a group of separatists, repeatedly beating them in detention. Australia helps fund Detachment 88.  The report also said the Australian Government had sent an official to the Indonesian province of Maluku to investigate the  claims but an Australian embassy official denied there was an investigation going on although an embassy officer had visited Maluku as part of a regular program of provincial visits.

Leaked Kopassus report

In November investigative journalist Alan Nairn released a secret report by a Kopassus task force which shows a list of West Papuans engaged in human rights work are a target of the Indonesian Special Force Group, Kopassus. The list includes members of civil society organisations, church groups , activists, students and  members of the MRP.  The report can be found on his blog at

http://www.allannairn.com/2010/11/breaking-news-secret-files-show.html

In December cables released by WikiLeaks in relation to West Papuan human rights confirmed what NGOs  have been telling their governments for years, that it is the Indonesian military that are one of the main problems in West Papua.

The cables revealed that US diplomats blame the government in Jakarta for unrest in West Papua due to neglect, corruption and human rights abuses.  That Indonesian military commanders have been accused of illegal logging operations and drug smuggling from West Papua into Papua New Guinea, and also that a lifting of the US ban on training with Kopassus was made a condition of Obama’s  visit to Jakarta.

Also in December the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), a major Indonesian human rights group accused the National Police of being the state institution guilty of committing the highest number of acts of violence against the public in 2010.  In the Jakarta Post (7/12/10) , the Papua chapter of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) reported a 70 percent increase in the number of cases of violence in Papua, most of which were allegedly committed by security officers. The Jakarta-based Legal Aid Foundation  in another report said Indonesian law enforcers routinely torture suspects and convicts to extract confessions or obtain information. The groups report found beatings, intimidation and rape are so commonplace they are considered the norm. It also found that few victims believe they have the right to lodge complaints.

West Papua suffered from a number of natural disasters in 2010 including a 7.1magnitude earthquake  that occurred of the northern coast of Papua in June,  destroying a number of  villages with loss of life on Yapen island.  In October the town of Wasior was hit by flash  floods  causing severe damage leaving over 158 people dead, 145 persons missing and thousands left homeless. There was some debate if the cause of the floods was due to deforestation in the surrounding areas or was due to  unusually heavy rainfall

Political prisoners

It is difficult to known the exact number of political prisoners who are in jail in West Papua because of the difficulty of access and restrictions on the gathering of information in the territory. In Amnesty’s  International Report for  2010, it states

“At least 114 people were detained for peacefully expressing their views. The overwhelming majority were peaceful political activists who were sentenced to terms of imprisonment for raising prohibited pro independence flags in Maluku or Papua”.

And in an  extract from Human Rights Watch World Report for 2010, in relation to West Papua.  “Indonesian authorities have responded to a longstanding, low-level armed separatist insurgency in the provinces of Papua and West Papua with a strong troop presence and often harsh and disproportionate responses to non-violent dissent or criticism. Human Rights Watch has long expressed concerns over anti-separatist sweeps by the police, which often result in individuals who peacefully express support for independence being arrested and detained on charges of treason or rebellion (makar).

West Papua -one of our nearest neighbours

West Papua is one of our nearest neighbours and the West Papuan people face great challenges including  ongoing human rights abuses, the exploitation of their natural resources with little or no benefit to themselves, the danger of becoming a minority in their own land as the result of migrants arriving daily and a  HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The Australian Government has  always been concerned about instability in the region to our north but as events in 2010 have shown, it is the Indonesian military which  are causing the instability in West Papua. The recent reports of the torture of West Papuans by the Indonesian security forces and the information from the WikiLeaks cables about US concerns at the activities of the TNI in relation to West Papua, aptly show this.

Recommendations.

The Australian West Papua Association  (Sydney)

urges the Australian Government to re- think its policy of ties with the  Indonesian military until such time that Indonesian military  personnel involved in past human rights abuses are brought to justice and the culture of the Indonesian military becomes of an  acceptable standard to both the Australian people and Australian military. In the short term we urge the Government to put a moratorium on the training, funding and any ties between  the Australian military,  Detachment 88 and the special forces unit Kopassus, until a full inquiry is held into the activities of these units in relation to human rights abuses in the archipelago.

urges the Australian Government to sent a fact finding mission to West Papua to not only investigate the human rights situation in the territory but to see how Australia can  help the West Papuan people in capacity building in the fields of health  and education. We thank the Australian Government for the funding it has already given to aid  projects in West Papua but urge more aid-funding to support health programs and medical organizations (local and international) working on the ground in West Papua and in the long term to support the training of the West Papuan people themselves as health professionals.

There are a number of Indigenous  human rights NGOs in West Papua and the Australian Government can  strengthen  the  human rights situation in West Papua by supporting these organisations  with financial aid,  capacity building and education.

We recommended that human rights defenders working in human rights organisations in West Papua be funded to attend human rights courses in Australia and the region.. There are a number of programs in Australia which can  advance human rights and empower civil society in West Papua through education, training and capacity building. These programs are suitable for individual human rights defenders and community advocates.

We also call on the Australian Government to urge the Indonesian President to release all West Papuan political prisoners as a sign of good faith to the West Papuan people.

The problems in West Papua won’t be solved by Jakarta  deploying more troops to the region or conducting more military operations. What the West Papuans are asking for is dialogue between Jakarta  and West Papuan representatives.  AWPA calls on the Australian Government to urge the Indonesian Government to dialogue with representatives of the West Papuan people to solve the issues of concern held by the West Papuan people.


[1] AWPA (Sydney) uses the name “West Papua” to refer to the whole of the western half of the Island of New Guinea. However, “West Papua” at this time is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua.

Wikileaks – US Government blames Jakarta for unrest in West Papua

Article by Philip Dorling and Nick McKenzie
Link to article in The Age

THE United States fears that Indonesian government neglect, rampant corruption and human rights abuses are stoking unrest in its troubled province of West Papua.

Leaked embassy cables reveal that US diplomats privately blame Jakarta for instability and “chronic underdevelopment” in West Papua, where military commanders have been accused of drug smuggling and illegal logging rackets across the border with Papua New Guinea.

A September 2009 cable from the US embassy in Jakarta says “the region is politically marginalized and many Papuans harbor separatist aspirations”. An earlier cable, from October 2007, details claims by an Indonesian foreign affairs official about military influence in West Papua.

“The Indonesian official] claims that the Indonesian Military (TNI) has far more troops in Papua than it is willing to admit to, chiefly to protect and facilitate TNI’s interests in illegal logging operations,” says the cable, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to The Age.

“The governor … had to move cautiously so as not to upset the TNI, which he said operates as a virtually autonomous governmental entity within the province,” the cable says.

It notes that because the allegations are coming from an Indonesian official rather than a non-government organisation, they “take on an even more serious cast”.

A 2006 cable details a briefing from a Papua New Guinea government official who said that the armed forces were ”involved in both illegal logging and drug smuggling in PNG”.

In another cable from 2006, the US embassy records the reaction of Indonesian authorities to a riot in West Papua that left four officials dead. “While the gruesome murder of three unarmed policemen and an air force officer at the hands of angry mob is unconscionable, the authorities’ handling of the aftermath has merely added a new chapter to the history of miscarriages of justice in Papua,” it says.

“It is clear that the police rounded up a miscellany of perceived trouble-makers and random individuals and that the prosecutors and judges then railroaded them in a farcical show trial.”

Cables from throughout 2009 blame the Indonesian government’s neglect of West Papua – including the failure to ensure revenue generated by mining is distributed fairly – for continuing unrest. “Most money transferred to the province remains unspent although some has gone into ill-conceived projects or disappeared into the pockets of corrupt officials,” a September 2009 cable says.

”Many central government ministries have been reluctant to cede power to the province. As a result, implementation of the [Special Autonomy] law has lagged and Papuans increasingly view the law as a failure.”

The Special Autonomy Law was introduced by Jakarta in 2001 in a bid to dampen the push in Papua for independence, to address past abuses in the region, including by the Indonesian military, and to empower local government entities.

While the US embassy cables detail some improvements in the conduct of the Indonesian military and police in the region in recent years, several cables also detail serious misconduct.

The US cables also record allegations of corruption involving local officials.

After NGO Human Rights Watch released a report last year alleging that military officers had abused Papuans in the town of Merauke, the US embassy in Jakarta wrote that the incident was isolated and may have involved soldiers following orders from local official Johanes Gluba Gebze.

“An ethnic Papuan, Gebze presides over a regional government where allegations of corruption and brutality are rife,” the 2009 cable says. It quotes advisers to Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu saying Gebze is ”out of control” and has made numerous illegal forestry deals with Chinese and Korean companies.

In early 2006, a senior manager of the Papuan mining operation run by US minerals giant Freeport-McMoRan privately told the embassy that “rampant corruption among provincial and regency officials has stoked Papuans’ disenchantment”.

Freeport is the biggest taxpayer in Indonesia and its mine is frequently and, according to the US embassy, unfairly accused of acting unethically. According to a March 2006 cable, a senior mine official said that “average Papuans see few benefits from the royalty and tax payments by Freeport and other extractive industries that should go to the province under the Special Autonomy law … This corruption hurts Freeport’s image with Papuans as well.”

The documents also reveal candid disclosures by senior Freeport executives about how the company pays members of the Indonesian military and police officers who help secure its operations. The payments caused controversy after they were detailed in a 2006 article in The New York Times.

A January 2006 cable states that Dan Bowman, Freeport Indonesia’s senior vice-president, said the “main allegations about direct payments by the company to military and police officials are true but misleading … the military and police did not have institutional bank accounts into which Freeport could deposit funds, so they were forced to make payments directly to the commanding officers responsible for security at the mine.”

An April 2007 cable says that Freeport continues to pay “voluntary support allowances” to police who help protect the mine, although does so using safeguards to prevent the money being corruptly diverted.

In October 2007, Freeport officials told the embassy that police who guarded the company’s mine were being bribed by illegal miners, who the company says are responsible for environmental damage.

“Freeport officials allege that the illegal miners have bribed Mobile Brigade officers to allow their activities. They also charge that Mobile Brigade personnel sell food and other supplies to the miners.”

Wikileaks – Indonesian intelligence official organised assassination of human rights activist

Article from Human Rights First

Among the handful of bombshells one can find in the cables that went back and forth between the U.S. State Department and embassy staff in Jakarta is this: the U.S. is apparently aware of evidence linking a high level Indonesian security official to the assassination of Munir Said Thalib, one of Indonesia’s most outspoken human rights activists.

Munir was poisoned in 2004 as he flew from Jakarta to Amsterdam. While a handful of people thought to be responsible for the murder have been charged in his death, the “masterminds” – as the cables refer to them – of the assassination are not in prison.

According to reports about the cables, recently released by Wikileaks, Indonesian police have a witness who claims that, “former [Indonesian Intelligence] chief Hendropriyono chaired two meetings at which Munir’s assassination was planned.” A witness at those meetings told Indonesian police that “only the time and method of the murder changed from the plans he heard discussed; original plans were to kill Munir in his office.”

But as the cables make clear, the witness – like others with first-hand knowledge of the killing – is unwilling to testify in the case because he fears for his safety.

”A breakthrough on who ordered the murder would presumably require someone with inside information to take an extraordinary risk in testifying, and would require protection,” the cables say. “Nonetheless, the police seem to have been given orders to show progress on the case, likely due to international attention.”

Separate cables also detail the backroom discussions that led to the recent resumption of U.S. military assistance to Kopassus, the Indonesian special forces who are alleged to have committed serious human rights violations in Aceh, Papua, East Timor, Jakarta and elsewhere.

The cables lay out an argument for re-engaging with the special ops community despite their rights record, by suggesting that closer military ties would encourage further reform of Indonesia’s military. The cables also report that Indonesian officials threatened to derail President Obama’s November, 2010 visit to Indonesia if the ties to Kopassus were not renewed. (Indonesian officials vehemently deny that this threat was ever made.)

But taken as a complete body of work, the cables make clear that Washington is keen to make more friends than enemies in Jakarta. State Department officials devote the majority of their key strokes to considerations such as:  “U.S. economic interests” in a country that has grown the largest economy in Southeast Asia; “counter-terrorism cooperation” in a country where Islamic extremists have found refuge and carried out attacks; and the relationship between Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Chinese, who are also investing heavily in their ties to Indonesia.

All this suggests that activists who want to see accountability for Munir’s death are going to have to continue to pressure officials in Jakarta and Washington for further action on the case. Now that there is public evidence that the Indonesians (and the Americans) are aware of evidence against Hendropriyono, it has become even harder for officials to close the books on this tragic killing.