West Papua Report September 2013

from West Papua Advocacy Team

This is the 113th 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. Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1309wpap.htm

The Report leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then “Chronicle” which includes 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.


This month’s PERSPECTIVE is by retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer (and West Papua Report editor) Edmund McWilliams. His analysis assesses the implications of the U.S. government “pivot” to Asia for U.S. policy regarding Indonesia and West Papua. The U.S. re-focus toward Asia and the Pacific involves closer U.S. political, security and economic ties to countries of the region. These enhanced security ties, in particular, will mean diminished U.S. government attention to human rights violations, corruption, and undemocratic behavior by regional militaries the U.S. seeks as “partners,” including Indonesia.

In “UPDATE,” we note the U.S. government’s decision to proceed with the sale of eight Apache helicopters to the Indonesian military. More than 90 NGO’s had urged the sale not go forward, due in part the likelihood that it will employed in West Papua. A “freedom flotilla” has left Australia for West Papua. Indonesian officials have threatened to arrest participants. Jakarta may renege on it pledge to invite Foreign Ministers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group nations to visit Jakarta and West Papua. Indonesian security forces have arrested scores of Papuans who sought peacefully to assert their cultural identity.

In this month’s “CHRONICLE,” we note an open letter by the Australia West Papua Association to the Pacific Islands Forum to take up the issue of West Papua and link to an interview with Benny Wenda carried by Democracy Now!


Implications of the “Asia Pivot” for U.S. Policy on Indonesia
by Ed McWilliams

The U.S.’s determination to “partner” with the TNI is reminiscent of previous administration’s partnering with corrupt and abusive militaries in the service of earlier geopolitical strategies, notably during the cold war. U.S. support for rightwing military dictatorships, delayed democratic evolution in many countries and perpetuated extraordinary suffering.

Senior U.S. administration officials continue to emphasize U.S. determination to pursue a greater focus on Asia and the Pacific. The “Asia Pivot,” according to senior Pentagon and State Department officials, reflects a growing realization in Washington of burgeoning trade opportunities presented by the economic dynamism of the region. At the same time, Washington is increasingly conscious of security challenges posed by the growing power of the Chinese military, as well as territorial disputes, notably in the South China Sea.

The Obama administration has sought to implement the pivot by strengthening existing security, political and economic ties with states in the region. In the security sector, the Obama administration has built upon relationships with regional forces established during the previous administration in the context of anti-terrorism.

The Obama administration’s expansion of ties to regional military forces, in Indonesia, but also in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Burma (Myanmar) have proceeded notwithstanding well-founded concerns that these security “partners” have well-documented histories of human rights violations, corruption, and undemocratic behavior. A number of these prospective security “partners” have records of repression of minorities. Vietnamese security forces played a key role in Hanoi’s policy of ethnic cleansing of the Montagnards, who have been forcibly displaced from much of their Central Highland homelands to make way for government-subsidized Vietnamese migrants. In Burma, despite significant democratic progress, Burmese security forces continue to carry out repressive measures against tribal groups.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, second from left, meets with Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in Jakarta, Aug. 26, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

The Indonesian military (TNI) is Southeast Asia’s largest military. Thanks to a sprawling commercial empire of both legal and illegal businesses and a long history of a lack of accountability before Indonesia’s civilian court system, it remains largely beyond the control of the civilian government. It also continues to violate human rights with near impunity, as documented by the UN Human Rights Commission, international NGO human rights monitors, and even the U.S. State Department’s own annual human rights reports.

The TNI’s human rights record is most egregious in West Papua, the troubled region forcibly annexed by Indonesia in the 1960’s. That annexation proceeded absent any opportunity for the Papuan people to exercise their right of self-determination. The TNI has been the principal agent through which the Indonesian government has sought to enforce its control of the resource-rich region. The brutality of the TNI-backed occupation of West Papua, the ethnic cleansing entailed by decades of “transmigration” — government subsidized migration from within Indonesia to West Papua which has displaced Papuan peoples from their homes — and policies of malign neglect in the areas of health, education and development have raised credible charges of genocide.

The U.S. administration’s determination to partner with the TNI is reminiscent of previous administration’s partnering with corrupt and abusive militaries in the service of earlier geopolitical strategies, notably in the context of the cold war. U.S. support for the anti-communist Suharto dictatorship and with rightwing military dictatorships in Central and South America, Iran, and elsewhere, delayed democratic evolution in many countries and perpetuated extraordinary suffering.

The Obama administration’s Asia Pivot inevitably must be seen in the context of these earlier strategies which sacrificed human rights concerns, democratization, and principles of civil control of the military on the altar of security objectives. As in the past, the U.S. administration contends that closer U.S. cooperation encourages reform among its security “partners.” The military-to-military relationship with the Indonesian military during the 30-year Suharto dictatorship remained extremely close despite egregious the TNI’s human rights crimes and corruption. Indonesia’s illegal invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the subsequent occupation of that small country remained largely irrelevant to Washington’s pro-Suharto and pro-Indonesian military stance.

The saga of East Timor (now Timor-Leste), in the context of U.S. policy toward Indonesia includes a particular irony. The United States, throughout the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, accepted the occupation, maintaining that East Timor was “an integral part of Indonesia” with the caveat that “no genuine act of self-determination had taken place.” The U.S. consistently ignored Indonesia’s crimes in the territory, except when it was compelled to address them as a consequence of international media attention, such as the in the case of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. U.S. Congressional outrage and public pressure over that crime forced restrictions on U.S. military cooperation with Indonesia.  

The sad saga of West Papua contains parallels with that of East Timor. West Papua was also invaded and occupied by the Indonesian military with the backing of the U.S. The West Papuan people, like the East Timorese, have suffered extraordinary repression under Jakarta’s rule. The United States, echoing its previous stance on East Timor, has consistently stated that it regards West Papua as an “integral part” of Indonesia. The U.S. public stance on West Papua, however, differs from its previous position regarding East Timor insofar as the U.S. refuses to acknowledge that Papuans have not been afforded their right to self-determination.

It appears that this long-denied right, along with the Papuan’s right to live free from Indonesian repression, can not be accommodated in the context of Washington’s Asia Pivot. The recent sale of attack helicopters to Indonesia (see below) is the latest example of human rights concerns and fundamental civil rights, including the right to self-determination, being sacrificed on the altar of geo-political expediency.


U.S. Approves Sale Of Apache Helicopters to the TNI

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the sale of a squadron of eight Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI),  during a visit to Indonesia. The sale, which includes pilot training, associated radar, and maintenance support, is worth half a billion dollars over 10 years.

The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue “sweeping” operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.

According to Indonesian officials, the sale includes no conditions governing how the aircraft are to be used. In the past, the U.S. government has imposed restrictions on the sale of weapons systems to the TNI as a means of reducing the possibility that those systems would be employed against civilians.

Last year, more than 90 international non-governmental organizations wrote to oppose the sale. Long standing U.S. congressional concern over the extremely poor human rights record amassed by the TNI appears not to have been taken into consideration by the U.S. administration. For over a decade, the U.S. sought to build a partnership with the Indonesian military notwithstanding that institution’s abysmal human rights record, corruption, and unwillingness to subordinate itself to civilian government control. An August 27 Jakarta Post report quotes Hagel as stating that he “welcomed the progress Indonesia has made in improving transparency and the protection of human rights.”

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team issued a joint statement condemning the sale. The groups said that “The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue “sweeping” operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.” The sale of the helicopters “demonstrates that U.S. concern for greater respect for human rights and justice in Indonesia are nothing more than hollow rhetoric.”

Freedom Flotilla to Sail from Australia to West Papua

Police surrounding event in Sorong just prior to arrests of organizers (Photo: NFRPB/WPM sources)

Australian activists are sailing from Australia to Merauke in West Papua to demonstrate international concern over the denial of human and civil rights by Indonesia. The Freedom Flotilla is also as a cultural mission aimed at re-establishing millennia-old ties between the aborigine population of Australia and Papua.

Indonesia has threatened to block the flotilla by force. The flotilla, which has permission from local Papuans to land in their area, has been delayed by mechanical problems. Papuans in Merauke and elsewhere in West Papua have staged massive “welcome” demonstrations in support of the mission. In Sorong, police arrested four West Papuan leaders who organized a welcome ceremony for the flotilla.

Flotilla spokesperson Ruben Blake called Indonesian threats of arrest, force and naval interception “heavy-handed.” He noted that in the past the Indonesian government has gone to great lengths to prevent people from witnessing conditions in West Papua. He expressed concern for the safety of those participating in the peaceful mission:

“We believe that safety of a group of peaceful protesters who are going there on a cultural mission as well as a human rights mission should be respected. These threats that haven’t been ruling out the use of guns and force is a big concern. People around the world should be absolutely concerned about the safety of the people on board the boats.”

The Australian government has warned that it will not extend consular protection or assistance to flotilla participants.

Indonesia Accused of Reneging on Pledge to Invite MSG Delegation

Solomon Islands PM Lilo meets Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Photo: Prime Minister’s Office.

Rex Rumakiek, Secretary-General of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, accused the Indonesian government of reneging on its promise to invite a delegation of Foreign Ministers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to visit Jakarta and West Papua. Rumakiek, whose group petitioned the recent MSG summit for West Papuan membership, told Radio Australia that rather than inviting an MSG delegation, Jakarta has resorted to inviting the MSG nations to visit individually. Rumakiek noted that the Indonesian government is seeking to divide the group, which has been seeking to formulate a united MSG position on the question of West Papua’s status. Indonesia refunded the US$171,000 cost of a recent state visit by Solomon Islands prime minister to Indonesia.

Security Forces Stage Widespread Arrests as Papuans Assert Cultural Identity

West Papua Media has reported scores of arrests of Papuans who sought to organize peaceful demonstrations commemorating August 15, “a day intended to celebrate Papuan cultural identity and demand rights to free expression be respected.” The demonstrations were billed as “cultural parades,” assertions of Papuan cultural identity in the face of what West Papua Media sources described as a “deliberate campaign of cultural suppression by the Indonesian colonial security forces.”

The parades were held on the anniversary of the 1962 New York Agreement which began the process of Indonesia’s formal take over of West Papua. The parades were also to celebrate the opening of a new Free West Papua Campaign office in The Netherlands.

Despite widely-reported police statements that they would allow the parades to go forward, waves of arrests and other intimidation prevented several from taking place. Nevertheless, the events went ahead in Jayapura, Wamena and Biak.

Opposition to ConocoPhillips

The Forum to Care for Papua’s Natural Resources is opposing plans by ConocoPhillips to explore for oil and gas in West Papua. In a press release issued in Yogyakarta, August 31, the group said that ConocoPhillips “will only aggravate symptoms of social breakdown and environmental damage, as such corporations are only interested in their own profits, and do not care about the environment and Papuan indigenous people.” According to media reports the company reiterated its plan to carry out seismic testing in Boven Digoel and Pegunungan Bintang in 2014.


Open letter to Pacific Islands Forum Leaders

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) (AWPA) has written an open letter to the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) leaders urged them to discuss the human rights situation in West Papua at the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro. Joe Collins of AWPA said, “We would like the Forum Leaders to follow the example of the MSG leaders who at their summit in Noumea, raised concerns about the human rights abuses in West Papua in their official communiqué. They also recognized the right of the West Papuan people to self-determination.”

Guardian Reviews West Papua History

The Guardian, August 29, published an article by Marni Cordell which offered a candid review of West Papua’s history. The article, “The West Papuan independence movement – a history,” notes that the Papuan struggle for self-determination continues, 40 years after a “sham ballot” through which Indonesia annexed West Papua.
Benny Wenda Interview

Benny Wenda, human rights defender and advocate for Papuan self-determination now living in exile in the United Kingdom, was interviewed on Democracy Now! in February, 2013. The video and full transcript of the interview were recently made available.

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1308wpap.htm

Back issues of West Papua Report

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 December 2012

This is the 104th 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://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. For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.WPAT Note:

With the October 2012 edition, West Papua Report changed format: The Report now leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then “Chronicle” which lists of statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a “Perspective” or responding to one should write to edmc@msn.com. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN.Contents:

Perspective: Reflections on The New York Agreement by Dr. John Saltford




To mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the “New York Agreement” (September 1962) which led to Indonesian annexation of West Papua, we offer below a reflection regarding that agreement’s implications for West Papua. Dr. John Saltford, who has authored this Perspective, is an internationally respected scholar and author of The United Nations and The Indonesian Takeover of West Papua 1962-1969: The Anatomy of Betrayal.

Reflections on the 1962 New York Agreement

In October 1962 Dutch rule in West Papua ended and was replaced by a temporary UN administration (UNTEA). This was established as part of the UN-brokered New York Agreement [1], signed between The Netherlands and Indonesia to resolve their dispute over the territory. For all its flaws, this agreement guaranteed the Papuans the right to self-determination in accordance with international practice, but this never happened. Indonesia took over from the UN seven months later and never left.

In October 2012 Indonesian security forces attacked peaceful political rallies in several West Papuan cities and intensified sweep operations in the Central Highlands forcing hundreds of villagers to flee [2]. These were not isolated incidents. According to Amnesty International, fifty years after the New York Agreement, Indonesia continues to deny Papuans their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly [3]. A good reason therefore to re-examine the origins of this agreement, its content and implementation.

In 1949 the Dutch ceded sovereignty of the Netherlands East Indies to the new Indonesian Republic but kept West Papua, not least because they reasoned that the Papuans were ethnically and culturally completely different to the Indonesians. Over the next thirteen years preparations for West Papuan independence progressed in the face of increasingly strong opposition from Jakarta which claimed the territory for itself.

But arguments over who should determine West Papua’s future were superseded by the August 1962 signing of the New York Agreement, and its acknowledgement that it was for the Papuans, and no one else, to decide whether the territory should become an independent state or a province of Indonesia.

The transfer of administration from Dutch to UN control was the first stage of the agreement. But from the start, instead of safeguarding Papuan political and human rights, UNTEA’s priority was simply to hand the territory over to Indonesia as quickly as possible. As one senior UN administrator privately reported:

“I have yet to meet any thinking, sober, generally responsible Papuan who sees any good in the coming link with Indonesia. Unwelcome as the anxiety and resistance of thinking Papuans maybe it is of course hardly surprising if one is not under pressure to close one’s eyes to what is in fact happening to this people at the hands of the three parties to the Agreement.” [4]

Once UNTEA had withdrawn, Article 16 specified that some UN experts were to remain to advise and assist the Indonesians in preparations for Papuan self-determination that was to take place before the end of 1969. But these experts were never deployed because Indonesia objected.

Under Article 17, one year prior to self-determination, the Secretary-General was to appoint a representative to lead a team of UN officials, including those already stationed in the territory. Their task was to continue to build on the work outlined in Article 16 and remain until the act of self-determination was complete.

A Bolivian, Ortiz Sanz, was appointed but, as he made clear in his official report [5], the non-implementation of Article 16 meant that there were no experienced UN staff in the territory for him to lead. Instead he was left with a newly arrived team of 16 who were supposed to advise and participate in an act of self-determination covering a territory roughly the size of California.

Under Article 22, the UN and Indonesia had to guarantee fully the rights, including the rights of free speech, freedom of movement, and of assembly of the Papuans. These rights were not upheld and the official 1969 UN report concedes that “the (Indonesian) Administration exercised at all times a tight political control over the population.” [6]

Under Article 18, all adult Papuans had the right to participate in an act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice.

This central tenet of the agreement was never implemented. Instead, with no genuine involvement by the population, the UN effectively stood by as Indonesia hand-picked, bribed and threatened 1,022 Papuans to take part in the 1969 “Act of Free Choice” – a series of theatrical ceremonies in which the selected Papuans stood up on command to indicate unanimous consent for integration with Indonesia. The final wording of the UN report says only that the procedure had been carried out in accordance with “Indonesian” and not “international” practice as required by the agreement.

One could argue “International Practice” is too vague a term here to have any meaning. But in fact, acceptable international practice had been set out in UN General Assembly Resolution 1541 of December 1960. This specified the circumstances under which a non-self governing territory (which West Papua was) could integrate with an independent state.

In particular, Principle IX states:

“The integration should be the result of the freely expressed wishes of the territory’s peoples acting with full knowledge of the change in their status, their wishes having been expressed through informed and democratic processes, impartially conducted and based upon universal adult suffrage.” [7 ]

Clearly the “Act of Free Choice” did not even begin to fulfill these conditions.

This all happened decades ago and some claim there is little point arguing about the past. It is the future that matters. But I believe a proper acknowledgement of the truth, by Jakarta, the Netherlands, and the UN, is a necessary step towards finding a just and lasting solution to the tragedy of West Papua. [8]

[1] General Assembly Official Records United Nations, 17th Session, Annexes Agenda item 89, Doc A/5170, Annex of 20 August 1962, Agreement between the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands concerning West New Guinea (West Irian).

[2] WPAT/ETAN, West Papua Report, November 2012

[3] Amnesty International. Annual Report, Indonesia, 2012

[4] Report by G. Rawlings (Divisional Commissioner, Biak) to Somerville, UNTEA Internal Affairs Director, 12 December 1962, UN Archives, DAG 13/

[5] Twenty-Fourth Session, Agenda item 98: Report of the Secretary-General Regarding the Act of Self-determination in West Irian. A/7723, 6 November 1969. [Including Annex I, Report by Ortiz Sanz, and Annex II, Report of the Indonesian Government].

[6] ibid

[7] General Assembly Official Records United Nations, 15th Session, 948th plenary meeting, Resolution 1541, 15 December 1960, Principles which should guide members in determining whether or not an obligation exists to transmit the information called for under Article 73e of the Charter, Annex Principle ix.

[8] These topics are addressed in more detail in the author’s book: John Saltford, The United Nations and the Indonesia Takeover of West Papua, 1962-1969: The Anatomy of Betrayal(London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003).


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Expresses Concerns about West Papua During Jakarta Visit

At a November 13 press conference in Jakarta, United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay called on the Indonesian government to implement international human rights standards legislatively at local and national levels

She publicly encouraged the government “to move forward with setting up ad hoc human rights courts, as envisaged under law No. 26/2000, to investigate the enforced disappearances of student activists in the late 1990s and serious violations in Aceh and Papua.” She said that she had learned more about the “extent and egregious nature of past violations of human rights, from the killings of communists in 1965 and of students in the late 1990s, to later crimes in the Aceh region and what is now Timor-Leste.” She called for “credible prosecutions of perpetrators.”

In meetings with senior Indonesian officials she also raised concerns about increased violence in Papua this year. Pillay said that she “recommended that the Government take further steps to ensure criminal accountability. I was also concerned to hear about activists being imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression.”

Pillay welcomed the Indonesian government’s decision to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to Indonesia.

(WPAT Note: It is unclear whether the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Indonesia will include West Papua. Given the extensive violations of freedom of expression in West Papua, particularly over the peaceful display of symbols such as the morning star flag, no visit to Indonesia by this Special Rapporteur could be considered meaningful or complete without a visit to West Papua.)

see also Human Rights Watch: I ndonesia: UN Rights Visit Can Challenge Discrimination, Impunity, Plight of Religious Minorities and Papua Abuses Are Serious, Ongoing Problems

Indonesian Security Authorities Disrupt Peaceful December 1 Rallies

Security forces arrested several people who sought to peacefully mark the 51st anniversary of West Papua’s independence. Initial reports indicate Indonesian security authorities employed tear gas to break up a demonstration in Jayapura (Port Numbay). Rallies were also planned to be held in Sorong, Nabire, Fak Fak, Manokwari, Wamena,, Timika and Serui.

U.S. Ambassador Visits West Papua – Lauds Indonesian Military

U.S. Ambassador Scot Marciel visited West Papua in early November in what State Department officials described to West Papua Report as one of a series of periodic visits by the Ambassador to West Papua. Marciel met with members of the Papuan Provincial Assembly (DPRP), the Papuan Peoples Council (MRP), senior members of the Provincial Military Command and the Inspector General of the Police Force. State Department officials told WPAT Marciel also met with civil society groups.

According to a November 7 report in Bintang Papua, translated by TAPOL, Marciel told senior military officials that the US was very impressed by the developments that the TNI (the Indonesian army) had achieved including its “reforms.”

(WPAT Comment: It is unclear what reforms Marciel was referring to nor is there any indication that the US Ambassador raised the TNI’s ongoing military sweep operations that jeopardize the lives of Papuan civilians.)

In response to the ambassador’s question as to why the duties of the military command in West Papua were so much greater there than elsewhere and required such a different approach, the chief of staff said that the military were acting in accordance with their “duties” as ‘Noble Protectors of the People’ (Ksatria Pelindung Rakyat).

(WPAT Comment: The military, under the Suharto dictatorship and since, has drawn upon its role as so-called “Noble Protectors of the People” as the basis for its intrusion into civilian affairs and to justify its substantial commercial interests. See The Role of ABRI in the Post-Suharto Era [PDF])

In his meeting with DPRP (Papuan Parliament) members, Marciel raised the two-year delay in holding of elections for Governor. DPRP members acknowledged that because of the continued absence of an elected governor, no budget had been produced and there was no one who could take responsibility for finances. This was described by DPRP members as having “serious consequences for the people.”

In his meeting with senior police officials, the Ambassador reportedly urged that the police pursue a lenient approach. The police should not be seen as solely involved in arresting and detaining people, and the police should put a priority on activities which  bring them close to the people. The Ambassador spoke positively about US cooperation with the police in future years.

Papuans Marginalized in Employment

According to the November 20 Tabloid Jubi(translated by TAPOL), the acting governor of Papua province Constan Karma, spoken about the marginalization of Papuans in employment: “In the competition for jobs, the people with better qualifications always succeed. Indigenous Papuans are not yet able to compete with people who have come from elsewhere because they have better qualifications. The result is that more and more indigenous Papuans are unemployed and this is causing social tensions.”

Sweep Operations Drive More Papuan Civilians into Papuan Forests

A report by Elsham revealed that 38 civilians who fled their village of in Keerom District in July remain in the forest. They fled because of five-month sweep operation conducted by the Indonesian military and police in the area. The displaced are subsisting on sago and worms, and children have been unable to attend school.

Security Forces Target Peaceful Dissent

Indonesian security authorities, especially Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) and the U.S.-backed police unit Detachment 88 are continuing to persecute leading members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB). In October, Indonesian special forces sought in vain to detain prominent women’s and environmentalist activist Fanny Kogoya who, earlier this year, was elected to head the Papua desk for the WALHI, Indonesian branch of Friends of the Earth. The security forces also targeted students associated with her work. Kogoya, also a women’s rights defender from the grassroots Papuan Women’s Network TIKI, has been placed on a Papua wide wanted persons list (Daftar Pencarian Orang or DPO) by the U.S. and Australian-trained and funded Detachment 88 anti-terror investigators.

Calls for Security Force Accountability in West Papua Multiply

A number of prominent human rights organizations and prominent civil society figures have recently called for human rights accountability in West Papua.

The human rights watchdog Institute for Research and Advocacy (Elsam) has once again urged the government to prosecute unfinished human rights violation cases. According to Elsam executive director Indriaswati D. Saptaningrum, most of the perpetrators involved in human rights violations “still walk free, as the government has kept silent.” (The Elsam comments were made during the commemoration of International Day to End Impunity. The international commemoration day is observed by human rights activists to call on governments to bring justice for those who were killed or kidnapped when they tried to defend their freedom of expression.)

Budi Setyanto, a lawyer who is the director of the Institute for Civil Strengthening. Setyanto called “extremely serious” the fact that many human rights violations against the indigenous Papuan people have never been resolved. “‘This matter needs to be resolved  by the government which should make an inventory of all the cases that have occurred so that the general public is aware of the many cases that have not be resolved,” he said.

He also said that the Papuan provincial governors and provincial administrations should participate in this work, by setting up a special team to draw up a comprehensive list of all the violations that have occurred. “This is a matter,” he said, “that needs the full attention of the government and should not be dealt with in a half-hearted way.”

Separately, Suciwati, the widow of the murdered human rights champion Munir Said Thalib, visited the Jayapura grave of Papuan political leader Theys Eluay on the anniversary of his November 10, 1991 murder by Kopassus. Suciwati used the occasion to speak out against the many inadequately resolved murder cases in West Papua. “Our society is too forgiving, too easy to forget. We must change this. They can kill Munir, Theys for speaking out the truth but they can’t kill the truth itself,” Suciwati said.

Boy, Eluay’s son, said Papua desperately needs support from activists in Jakarta and elsewhere. Security officials in Papua always view human rights protests as separatist, he said. Law enforcers “always have a stigma and when we do any activity related to human rights they come and attach that stigma…. Support from friends outside of Papua is needed for the state to put that stigma away. He added that “If a big person like Theys can be murdered what would happen to the rest of us? We don’t want our children to be future victims of such atrocity,” he said. “It is time for the victims’ families to do a more organized act for justice and human rights in Papua.”

(WPAT Comment: The Indonesian government’s failure, over many decades, to address security force impunity for human rights violations throughout the archipelago, but especially in West Papua, exacerbates the climate of fear and intimidation that engulfs target populations such as the Papuans.)


Article Reveals Absence of Government Services in Much of West Papua

Inside Indonesia, November 25, published a highly revealing account of the reality of life in West Papua, particularly in rural areas where the majority of Papuans live. The author, Bobby Anderson, writes in “Living without A State,” that West Papua ranks last out of all 33 Indonesian provinces according to Human Development Indicator measurements. He observes that in most places outside of the towns, Papuans do not reject the Indonesian state. Rather, the state simply plays little or no role in their lives, for better or for worse. Across large parts of the highlands, there is little evidence of the state other than empty schools, health clinics, and hospitals. Civil servants, police, and military are few and far between. “The essential problem of health and education services in the highlands is not lack of physical structures, but poor management of human resources in these areas. New buildings remain empty, and although civil servants are theoretically assigned to work in these areas, the vast majority of them are not present in their duty stations. This is the norm across the highlands.”

Anderson describes one subdistrict in particular, Lolat, created in 2002, where there are almost no government services. Visibly malnourished children in the area show bloated stomachs and stunted growth. “A local NGO, Yasumat, runs five parallel schools, 19 health clinics, and four health posts. While paid teachers and health care workers are absent, a cadre of local volunteers strives to provide needed service,” Anderson writes.

Immunization programs do not exist in remote areas. No immunizations have been provided by the district government outside of intermittent offerings in the town of Dekai in the last ten years. “TB and HIV rates in Lolat are unknown, but the number of young men, women, and children dying of unknown causes is out of proportion to the already abysmal provincial averages. It seems likely that men working in the cities as part of the construction boom caused by the proliferation of new districts are contracting HIV and bringing it home with them. Just as HIV infection levels are unknown, so are condoms, which have never been seen in the area,” reports Anderson.

The end of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998 brought new hardships. A planned takeover of local governance by new state institutions effectively never happened. Instead, the “takeover” resulted in the breakdown of the established system. According to Anderson, “There was no period of transition and no handover.” He also reveals the failure of “Special Autonomy,” introduced in 2001 as a way to relieve pressures for independence, address Papua’s underdevelopment and improve service delivery. The policy, he notes, led to “a dramatic increase in government funds available for development purposes. However, an overstaffed and under-performing provincial bureaucracy absorbs the majority of Special Autonomy funds.”

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2012/1212wpap.htm

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West Papua Report May 2012

This is the 97th 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://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 via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.  Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2012/1205wpap.htm

Summary: One demonstrator was reportedly killed, two were wounded, and 13 arrested in May 1 demonstrations throughout West Papua. The protests marked the 49th anniversary of Indonesia’s coerced annexation of West Papua. Indonesian government plans to continue to send settlers from outside into West Papua (“transmigration”) has prompted protests from Papuan organizations who fear the further marginalization of Papuans and growing communal tensions. Several international organizations have protested continued, longstanding efforts by the Indonesian government to cover up human rights violations by preventing journalists and rights observers from traveling to or within West Papua. Following large scale peaceful demonstrations in Serui district, Indonesian security forces have launched a crackdown involving sweep operations. The shooting of a civilian aircraft as it landed at an airport in the Puncak Jaya area caused civilian casualties and has prompted unproven charges by authorities that the perpetrators were the Papuan armed resistance organization, the OPM. Papuan leaders have called on the government to conduct a transparent investigation and to engage with local civil and government organizations to put an end to ongoing tensions and conflict in the Puncak Jaya region. They note that security force resort to force in dealing with incidents harms innocent local civilians who are often driven from their homes. Despite its obligations under Indonesian and International law, the Indonesian government is refusing to fund urgently needed medical treatment for Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma. Two new reports reveal extensive “land grabbing” by corporations, backed by the Indonesian government, at the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) project in southern West Papua. Indonesia faces a quadrennial review of its human rights performance by the UN Human Rights Commission. WPAT member Dr. Eben Kirksey has authored a new book on West Papua.


Arrests and Shootings of Demonstrators Mar Peaceful Demonstrations Marking Indonesia’s Annexation of West Papua

The human rights organization ELSHAM Papua reported that large protests marked the May 1,1963 anniversary of Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua. Gunfire, targeting a peaceful demonstration killed one demonstrator and wounded several. In addition, police arrested 13 demonstrators in Sentani.

Demonstrations, organized by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), transpired in various places in West Papua , the largest appears to have been in the Abepura area where a crowd assembled to hear a speech by Buchtar Tabuni, KNPB Chair. According to ELSHAM, Tabuni said in part: “On this day, 49 years ago, we commemorate the day when our people fell into the hands of the Indonesian state. All the Papuan people reject annexation by Indonesia.” Tabuni also said that May 1 marked the beginning of the perpetration of gross human rights violations against the Papuan people.

Many of the demonstrators marched to the center of Jayapura, joined by supporters along the route. Some demonstrators attempted to fly Morning Star flags in a field alongside the tomb of the martyred Papuan leader Theys Eluay in Sentani, but they were prevented from doing so by the police, who arrested thirteen people. Among those arrested was Darius Koyoga, organizer of the action.

One demonstrator, Terjolih Weah, was shot near the TNI’s Koramil base in Abepura. In addition, as the demonstrators were walking from the Elim Church to Koramil, an unidentified person or persons fired on the peaceful crowd. One victim of the shooting was taken by demonstrators to the Dian Harapan Hospital. Another victim, a fourth year student at the economic faculty at Port Nambay (Jayapura), was shot through the stomach and died.

Indonesian security force were reportedly on alert for anticipated demonstrations associated with the dead student’s funeral.

(WPAT comment: The shooting of demonstrators peacefully asserting their rights requires an immediate, transparent investigation by the Indonesian authorities. Armed Indonesian security elements, operating in plain clothes, invariably shadow demonstrations. Suspicion regarding the perpetrators of attacks on peaceful demonstrators inevitably will fall on them.)

Plans For New Transmigration to West Papua Prompts Protest and Fears of Communal Conflict

The head of the Office of Labor and Transmigration in the province of West Nusa Tenggara said the government would be sending more transmigrants West Papua. News of the new government-sponsored migration to West Papua prompted protest from local Papuan groups.

According to a report in the daily Jubi, the Jayapura branch of the Association of Catholic Students of the Republic of Indonesia (PMKRI), condemned the plan to bring more transmigrants, contending that the move would further marginalize the indigenous Papuan people. The association also expressed concern that competition between indigenous Papuans and the transmigrants could generate “horizontal conflicts” (communal disputes).

“The indigenous Papuan people have already become a minority in their own homeland. We strongly reject plans to bring in more transmigrants,” said Benyamin Lokobal, Jayapura chair PMKRI. If the government goes ahead with this plan, Lokobal said, his group would organize demonstrations in collaboration with other youth organizations in Papua.

The chairman of Catholic Youth in Jayapura, Kristian Bame warned that more transmigration had the potential to lead to land grabbing. He said that as of now, “the contribution of transmigrants in Papua is not at all apparent. On the contrary, their presence has only led to social jealousy.”

WPAT Comment: WPAT is collecting information on the rise in the formation and activity of ethnic/race based militias which it will present in an upcoming report. This militia formation, among transmigrants/migrants on the one hand and among Papuans on the other, is indicative of rising communal tensions which continued transmigration will only stoke.

Indonesian Government Covers Up Human Rights Abuse and Repression in West Papua

A joint report by the Faith-Based Network on West Papua, Franciscans International, Papua Land of Peace and the Asian Human Rights Commission concludes that the Indonesian government is tightening restrictions on journalists and non-governmental organizations which seek to cover developments in West Papua. The organizations contend that the Indonesian government has long restricted the number of foreign journalists granted permission to enter West Papua and write about the situation there. Those few reporters allowed to enter West Papua work under tight restrictions and were followed, according to the report.

The report points to recent departure of Peace Brigades International (PBI) and the Indonesian government’s refusal to allow the International Committee of The Red Cross (ICRC) to re-open its office there.

Kristina Neubauer speaking at a launch of the report in Padang Bulan said that the world at large knows nothing about Papua because the Indonesian government refuses to grant access to foreign journalists, to human rights activists and to other observers from outside Indonesia.”

Last October, Pacific Journalism Review published a Pacific Media Watch report on the region’s media freedoms, which reported Indonesian repression facing news media. WPAT’s Report for March 2012 also contained reporting on the Indonesian government’s continuing campaign to cover-up human rights abuse and repression in West Papua.

Security Forces Launch Crackdown, Sweeps in Serui District

West Papua Media reported April 23, that Indonesian security forces have launched a major sweep in Serui District on Yapen Island. The sweep reportedly targeted Papuans had engaged in a large, peaceful demonstration on April 20 which had been organized by the West Papua National Authority (WPNA) to welcome the apparent launch of a branch of the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP).

West Papua Media reported that armed Indonesian police and military conducted rolling raids on motorbikes across villages including Mantembu and surrounding hamlets outside of Serui town, seeking to arrest all those who were involved in the mass flying of the banned Morning Star independence flag.

An earlier April 20 report in the daily Jubi, translated by the UK-based Tapol, had noted that a large number of the banned Morning Star flags were flown by Papuans in peaceful demonstrations in Tanggal (Serui District) organized by the West Papua National Authority (WPNA). Aston Situmorang, a member of NGO Working Forum of Cenderawasih Bay, Serui, told local media that thousands of people had gathered to take part in the demonstration from all parts of Serui district.

According to Jubi, the local police chief had allowed the flags to be flown.

Shooting of Civilian Aircraft Raises Concern over New Sweep Operations by Security Forces

On April 8, an unknown shooter or shooters fired on a commercial Trigana twin otter aircraft landing at Mulia Airport in the troubled Puncak Jaya region of West Papua. One person was killed and four wounded. As a result of the incident, air transport to the region by four local carriers was suspended, creating serious hardship for local people who depend on the airlink.

The regional (Cenderawasih) Indonesian military commander quickly blamed the incident on the Papuan armed resistance, the Organizasi Papua Merdeka, the Papua Freedom Organization, or OPM.

The Head of Public Information Department at police headquarters Chief. Comm. Boy Rafli Amar similarly told media on April 9 that the suspect is member of a group which had committed similar acts some time ago. As is frequently the case, the claim that the OPM was responsible for the attack was offered with no proof and before any serious investigation could be carried out. Police accusations about a suspect were made before the police had developed the most basic information such as determining from what direction the shots had come.

An investigation by two commissioners of the Indonesian Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) also was unable to determine who was responsible, though they said that the perpetrator(s) were highly trained and were thought not to be regular police or military personnel. “Many security personnel have not been reporting to their units and that this should immediately be looked into,” said one commissioner.

The commissioners put the incident in a larger context: “Various forms of violence constitute an increasing number of records piling up from year to year, without clarity on the identity of perpetrators or the masterminds behind these attacks, which have robbed many people of their lives and injured scores of others.”

Several prominent Papuans have urged that Indonesian authorities not resort to the use of force as in the past. They argued that sweep operations, purportedly targeting the alleged perpetrators in various incidents do great harm to the local population. Indonesian security force sweeps regularly force innocent villagers to flee their homes, often to nearby forests where they suffer from lack of food, shelter and access to medical care.

According to an April 13 report in the daily Bintang Papua,  the co-ordinator of the Jaringan Damai Papua (JDP, Papuan Peace Network), Dr. Neles Tebay believes it is necessary to involve the OPM, not only in order to seek a way of preventing such events from happening again. He urged that “A strategic solution can be put in place for the long term, bearing in mind that responses to events up to now have been re-active” violence which only begets more violence.

Dr. Tebay also pointed out that there has been no transparency on the side of the security forces regarding the results of their investigations. “Were projectiles involved and if so, what kind of projectiles?”

(WPAT notes that such information could point to the identity of the shooters insofar as the OPM has a limited range of firearms and it was possible that others, possibly even members of the security forces themselves, might have been involved as been the case in other incidents.)

Fadel Alhamid, a member of the Papuan Customary Council, echoed Dr. Tebay’s concerns that violence should not be answered by violence. Alhamid added that nothing was yet known about who was responsible for the initial violence. The “security approach” was not the right way to improve the situation in Puncak Jaya. “A more persuasive approach is needed, and this requires the collaboration of all elements in society,” he said. “This means involving political bodies, the churches, customary groups all of which should be actively involved, bearing in mind that the security approach has a direct impact on the civilian population. If everyone gets together, it should be possible to work out who was responsible for the shooting,” he argued.

Political Prisoner Filep Karma Denied Urgent Medical Treatment

There is growing international concern over the health of Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma who is in urgent need of medical treatment for a colon disorder.

The Dutch NGO, Foundation Pro Papua, on April 22 wrote to the Indonesian health minister raising concern over Karma’s plight. The group noted in part that Karma, who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for his role in a peaceful demonstration, was examined recently by Indonesian physicians in Jayapura. They suspect that he has colon tumor and that he needs a colonoscopy and follow-up treatment. Because it is not possible to conduct a colonoscopy in West Papua the physicians referred him to a hospital in Jakarta. West Papua has long lacked even basic medical facilities and personnel.

Karma has not been transferred despite this referral because prison officials have refused to cover cost of his medical treatment and travel.

In an action alert, Amnesty International argues all medical costs for treatment of a prisoner at a hospital must be borne by the state, according to the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (Principle 24). Indonesian law (Regulation No. 32/1999 on Terms and Procedures on the Implementation of Prisoners’ Rights in Prisons) also requires all medical costs for treatment of a prisoner at a hospital be borne by the State.

WPAT notes that internationally, standard minimal standards regarding treatment of prisoners also were established by the “United Nations Congress on The Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders” held in Geneva in 1955 and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977.

Regarding medical treatment of prisoners, that resolution in article 22 states:

(2) Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.

In late February, in response to a petition filed by Freedom Now, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that Indonesia is violating international law by detaining Filep Karma and called for his immediate release.

see also ETAN writes on health care for Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma
New Organization Emerges to Support Local Papuans Facing Land Grabs Such as MIFEE

There is growing controversy over plans by the Indonesian government to convert a vast area of southern West Papua into an industrial agricultural zone. The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE)  is similar to industrial agricultural zones in northern Sumatra and West Kalimantan where local people have seen forests which have sustained them for many generations sacrificed to the interests of Indonesian and foreign corporations. The MIFEE plan is intended to convert over a million hectares of land belonging to local people of West Papua into industrialized plantation agriculture.

An extensive April 15 report in Tempo magazine describes extensive, ongoing conflicts between local people and over a dozen companies attempting to seize land long claimed by the indigenous groups. Tempo reports these conflicts have placed the whole MIFEE venture in doubt.

Promises to local peoples by the companies, including construction of facilities to aid them, protection of forest areas used by locals for hunting, and the involvement of organizations like Conservation International from Australia to ensure environmental protections have gone unfulfilled. A key problem in protecting the rights of the local inhabitants is the absence of any protection of customary rights in the Indonesian legal system. (The full Tempo report is available at http://tapol.gn.apc.org/reports/120415_Tempo_report.pdf)

A new report, An Agribusiness Attack in West Papua: Unravelling the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate,  is now out from awasMIFEE! (The report is currently available in English; a Bahasa Indonesia version is being prepared.)

The report says that MIFEE was “imposed on the Papuan people by the Indonesian government [and] can only serve to aggravate the problems faced by indigenous Papuans, many of whom have struggled since the 1960s for self-determination and against military violence and other investment projects such as the Freeport mine and BP gas project.”

Many of the large agribusiness conglomerates that are implementing MIFEE belong to “business leaders on Indonesia’s rich list, who are typically well connected to the military and political parties. Foreign corporations also have a stake in MIFEE, from Korea, Japan, China and Singapore.”

awasMIFEE! says it was formed as “an act of solidarity with the social and ecological struggles of the people of Merauke and elsewhere in West Papua.” In a statement that accompanied the report the organization explained:

We believe that it is important that people outside of West Papua also know what is happening in Merauke. However, information available about MIFEE can be confusing – much of it comes from different companies and government bodies, and each have their own way of describing the project that fits with their own interests and objectives.
By compiling information from different sources, such as reports from the villages affected, from NGOs and other groups, from Papuan, Indonesian and financial media, from local and national government, and from company websites, we have tried to unravel what MIFEE is likely to mean for the people of Merauke. We hope that a more coherent understanding of how this land grab is taking shape will be of interest to people who are interested in West Papua, in the defence of forests and forest peoples, in the struggles against agro-fuels and against the growth of industrialised agriculture.
Most of all we hope that this information can be the catalyst for action! Our initiative is independent, unconnected to the programs of any NGO, and we hope it can also be a source of inspiration.
The report An Agribusiness Attack in West Papua: Unravelling the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate is an attempt to give an overview of the situation in April 2012.

Indonesia to Face Quadrennial UN Human Rights Review in May

The UN’s Human Rights Commission will review human rights progress in Indonesia in May, All member states of the United Nations must regularly submit to the Universal Periodic Review. The Commission process accepts submissions regarding the status of human rights observance by those facing reviews from States and also from non-governmental organizations. While the deadline for NGO submissions to the process has passed, individual organizations may still make submission to their governments.

Documents from the upcoming 2012 review can be found here and from the 2008 of Indonesia are here.

WPAT Member Dr. Eben Kirksey Authors Book on West Papua

Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power by Dr. Eben Kirksey is now out from Duke University Press.

Eben Kirksey first went to West Papua, the Indonesian-controlled half of New Guinea, in 1998 as an exchange student. His later study of West Papua’s resistance to the Indonesian occupiers and the forces of globalization morphed as he discovered that collaboration, rather than resistance, was the primary strategy of this dynamic social movement. Accompanying indigenous activists to Washington, London, and the offices of the oil giant BP, Kirksey saw the revolutionaries’ knack for getting inside institutions of power and building coalitions with unlikely allies, including many Indonesians. He discovered that the West Papuans’ pragmatic activism was based on visions of dramatic transformations on coming horizons, of a future in which they would give away their natural resources in grand humanitarian gestures, rather than passively watch their homeland be drained of timber, gold, copper, and natural gas. During a lengthy, brutal occupation, West Papuans have harbored a messianic spirit and channeled it in surprising directions. Kirksey studied West Papua’s movement for freedom as a broad-based popular uprising gained traction from 1998 until 2008. Blending extensive ethnographic research with indigenous parables, historical accounts, and compelling narratives of his own experiences, he argues that seeking freedom in entangled worlds requires negotiating complex interdependencies.

Available in paperback ($25) and hardback ($75) from ETAN
( http://www.etan.org/resource/books.htm#B98 Kirksey) The Kindle edition ($9.95) can be bought from Amazon.com

Dr. Kirksey will be visiting Australia from May 16 through June 1st and is available to speak about Freedom in Entangled Worlds.

Back issues of West Papua Report

West Papua Report March 2012

West Papua flag

This is the 95th 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://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 via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

Summary: A proposed U.S. sale of assault helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI) would augment the military’s capacity to conduct “sweeping operations” against Papuans, especially against villagers who have for years suffered indiscriminate military attacks. The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT), in comment, calls on the U.S. Congress to block this sale. Indonesian authorities continue to block efforts of respected international non-governmental organizations to work in West Papua. The international media freedom advocacy organization, Reporters without Borders, is calling on the Indonesian government to end its repression of journalist activity in West Papua. WPAT notes that impeding NGO activities in West Papua and restricting media are part of a deliberate government policy aimed at obscuring Jakarta’s repression in the region. The policy, developed by the Suharto dictatorship, continues. Papuans, demonstrating peacefully, rejected Jakarta’s latest plan to salvage its “special autonomy” policy and demanded a referendum. Jakarta’s trial of Papuan leader Forkorus Yaboisembut and others for organizing the Papuan Third National Congress (October 16-19, 2011) is off to a rocky start as prosecution witnesses prove ineffective in documenting the government’s case. The World Council of Churches has issued a “wake up call” to the international community regarding growing tension and rights abuse in West Papua. International Parliamentarians for West Papua launched its Australian-Pacific branch.


* Sale of U.S. Military Helicopters to Indonesian Military Endangers on Papuan Civilians
* Indonesian Authorities Stiff Arms NGO Efforts to Work in West Papua
* International Media Freedom Group Raises Alarm About Repression of Journalists in West Papua
* Papuans Reject Central Government Unit Established to Salvage Special Autonomy
* Jakarta Case Against Papuans Peacefully Calling for Papuans Right to Self Determination Encounters Problems
* World Council of Churches Issues “Wake Up Call” to The International Community
* Australian-Pacific Branch of International Parliamentarians for West Papua

As this report was being prepared pressure on the legal team defending the Papuans involved in the Papuan Third National Congress has increased. A particular target is lawyer Gustav Kawer. TAPOL has issued the following plea which WPAT strongly endorses:

On Wednesday, March 5, call +62 967 532640 and ask to speak to the Head of the Prosecutor’s Office Imanuel Zebua, or his representative. There should be somebody there who speaks English, but if not it shouldn’t be a big problem – as long as the name and the concern come across that should have some impact.

Sale of U.S. Military Helicopters to Indonesian Military Endangers Papuan Civilians

Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin told Antara that Indonesia intends to buy eight AH-64 Apache helicopters from the United States. The sale of the AH-64 helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI) poses a direct threat to Papuan civilians who have been the target of TNI assaults for many years. TNI “sweep operations,” including one currently underway in the Central Highlands region, include attacks on villages and the destruction of homes, churches and public buildings. These TNI assaults, purportedly aimed at eliminating the poorly armed Papuan resistance, force innocent villagers from their homes. The Papuans either flee to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die cut off from access to their gardens, shelter and medical care.

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It comes with a night vision system and is armed with chain gun M230 30mm. It also is equipped with rocket pods.

These aircraft will substantially augment the TNI’s capacity to prosecute its sweep operations in West Papua and will almost certainly lead to much higher cost to the civilian populations long victimized by such operations. The U.S. Congress must be notified of major weapons sales and can object to them.

WPAT Comment: Provision of these helicopters to the Indonesian military would significantly expand its capacity to extend its notorious sweep operations into remote areas that are now effectively beyond the reach of TNI ground forces. A U.S. decision to dramatically enhance the range and effectiveness of TNI sweeps would cast the United States in the role of an enabler and collaborator in military operations targeting civilians. The U.S. Congress can and should block the sale of this weapons system to the Indonesian military.)

Indonesian Authorities Stiff Arms NGO Efforts to Work in West Papua

Employing bureaucratic subterfuge, including manipulation of visa requirements and refusal to issue travel permits, the Indonesian central government has prevented respected international non-governmental organizations from monitoring human rights developments in West Papua, providing protection for Papuan human rights workers and even from affording humanitarian services. In 2009, Jakarta forced the International Committee of the Red Cross to close its offices in West Papua.

In late 2010, Peace Brigades International (PBI), an organization devoted to protecting human rights advocates around the world, ended its activities in West Papua following years of dealing with visa obstacles thrown in its path by Jakarta. PBI’s good faith effort to negotiate an arrangement whereby it would staff an office in West Papua with Indonesian personnel failed.

The Dutch humanitarian organization Cordaid was also forced to end its activities in West Papua. A July 2010 directive from the Indonesian government ended the agency’s decades old work in the area of social development and economic empowerment for the poor. Indonesian authorities refused permission for Australia’s Caritas to place its personnel in West Papua. A recent Oxfam project in West Papua, intended to empower women, has operated under constraints imposed by Jakarta including refusal to allow non-Indonesian consultants of the organization associated with the project to travel to West Papua.

International Media Freedom Group Raises Alarm About Repression of Journalists in West Papua

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on February 10 called on the Indonesian government to ensure press freedom after a series of media freedom violations in West Papua.

Darma Sahlan, a journalist working for the weekly Monitor Medan, was found dead in a ditch in the village of Lawe Dua in Aceh province on February 5. RSF urged “the authorities to do everything possible to shed light on his death, and to not rule out the possibility that he was murdered in connection with his work.” The victim’s wife told local media (Serambi Indonesia) that her husband had had a heated phone conversation about one of his stories with someone a month before. An autopsy showed he had sustained a blow to the head from a blunt object and injuries to the face. Skid marks were also found near the body.

“They must also do what is necessary to guarantee the safety of journalists and freedom of information. We are very worried by the problems for journalists throughout the country and in West Papua in particular,” RSF said.

The group also also criticized the February 8 arrest in West Papua of Czech journalist Petr Zamecnik for taking photos of a pro-independence demonstration in Manokwari town in Papua region. The Czech reporter was subsequently deported. The demonstration protested the trail of prominent Papuans for their role in the peaceful convening of the “Third Papuan National Congress, October 16-19” (see report on the trial below). Photos of that demonstration from a separate source (see http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2012/1203wpap.htm#photo ) reveal a peaceful, colorful demonstration. Indonesia imposes strict visa regulations on foreign visitors to Papua and tight restrictions on foreign journalists looking to report from the region. In 2010, two French journalists were deported from Papua for filming a peaceful demonstration outside government-approved areas.

Reporters Without Borders ranks Indonesia 146th out of 179 countries in its latest Press Freedom Index.

WPAT Comment: Pressure on international NGO’s attempting to work in West Papua (see above), in conjunction with the pressure on international journalists, are key to Jakarta’s continuing strategy, developed under the Suharto dictatorship, to prevent the world from witnessing its repressive policies in West Papua.

Papuans Reject Central Government Unit Established to Salvage Special Autonomy

Papuans demonstrated in opposition to the creation of a special unit intended to implement Jakarta’s failed “Special Autonomy” policy. Papuans have widely rejected the policy after a decade of failed implementation. The special unit, the Papua and West Papua Development Acceleration Unit (UP4B), was the target of Papuan students demonstrations. UP4B has the backing of President Yudhoyono. (For discussion of this Unit, its purpose and leadership, see the West Papua Report for November 2011.)

Demonstrations were organized by Papuan students studying in Makassar, South Sulawesi, and in Jayapura (Port Nambay), the capital of Papua province. The students in Makassar, according to a Jakarta Post story contended that the new unit would not solve problems, but only create new ones, in part by providing opportunities for corruption as has the “Special Autonomy” policy itself. The February 20 Makassar demonstration was organized by the Student Solidarity Forum for Papuan People. The students reportedly called for a tri-partite dialogue to address problems in Papua to involving the central government, the Papuan people and Amnesty International.

Meanwhile, thousands of Papuans in Jayapura on February 21 also called for the disbanding of the UP4B unit in a demonstration before the Papua Peoples Assembly (MRP) building. The demonstrators in Jayapura, like the Papuans in Makassar the day before also rejected “Special Autonomy” but added a call for a referendum on West Papua’s political future.

Jakarta Case Against Papuans Peacefully Calling for Papuans Right to Self Determination Encounters Problems

The trial of Forkorus Yaboisembut and four others who organized the October 16-19, 2011 Third Papuan National Congress is increasingly lurching toward a juridical farce. The public prosecutor announced that he would pose criminal charges against Gustaf Kawar, one of the defendants’ principal lawyers.

The prosecutor appears to be reacting to an incident on February 24 in which Kawar rebuffed the prosecutor’s attempts to interfere with the defense team’s cross examination of police witnesses. The defense team confronted the police witnesses with various facts, including that the meeting had proceeded peacefully and that police had severely mistreated Papuans who had attended the Congress.

Earlier in the trail, the police whom the prosecution produced as witnesses proved to be less than effective. Six of these witnesses were unable to answer questions from the chief persecutor regarding the declaration regarding Papuan independence that was allegedly read out at the end of the conference nor could they say whether the five defendants had been involved in a criminal conspiracy to set up the Federal Republic of West Papua.

One of the witnesses who had been summoned was a member of the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP). Due to his membership in that body he was disallowed as a prosecution witness. The defense team successfully argued that inasmuch as the MRP is a cultural, and since the trial was related to the political aspirations of the Papuan people, that MRP member’s appearance might cause a conflict between the MRP and the Papuan people.

According to a lengthy report of the hearing in Bintang Papua, the police witnesses appeared not to know the defendants and were unaware of the declaration by Forkorus calling for the re-establishment of the Federal Republic of West Papua. According to Bintang Papua, the first witness, member of the Jayapura City police force, admitted that he did not know the identity of one of the accused, Agustinus Sananay Kraar.

World Council of Churches Issues “Wake Up Call” to the International Community

The World Council of Churches (WCC) Executive Committee recently issued a statement expressing concern over the escalation of violence in Tanah Papua (West Papua). The organization urged the Indonesian authorities to stop the killings of civilians at the hands of armed forces and protect the rights of Papuan people.

The statement highlights that the “tragic escalation in tension once again poses a wake-up call to Indonesia and the international community.” It insists that the “grievances of the Papuan people must be addressed without further delay.”

The report described how Papuans has suffered economic deprivation since the times of the Suharto dictatorship which developed a policy of “transmigration” whereby non-Papuans were transferred from other islands into West Papua,rendering Papuans a minority in their own land.

“Over the past several years the Papuan people have been demanding freedom of expression and the right to self determination, but the demands for their legitimate rights have been continuously suppressed by the Indonesian authorities,” reads the statement.

The statement called the churches to “provide long term accompaniment and also to be engaged in advocacy on peace and security for all Papuans in their struggle for the right to life and right to dignity.”

The statement was released during a WCC Executive Committee meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, which took place from 14 to 17 February.

Australian-Pacific Branch of International Parliamentarians for West Papua

The Australian Green Party, February 28, hosted the launch of the Australia-Pacific chapter of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP). The event took place in the Parliament House in Canberra and was attended by some members of the ruling Australia Labor Party. Their participation drew criticism of the Labor Party leadership. Acting Foreign Minister Craig Emerson had urged Labor parliamentarians not to attend. One Labor member of Parliament, Laurie Ferguson, who defied Emerson’s advice by attending the launch, called Emerson’s urgings as “unprecedented, ridiculous and ill-informed.”

He called the launch “overdue,” adding “We’re talking about a country where people get 15 years in jail for raising a flag, where on all common analyses of Indonesian society it is the second worst province in regards to longevity of people’s life, child, infant mortality, income levels.” Ferguson said that there are about 60 West Papuans being held as political prisoners and described allegations of heavy militarization of the province.

The launch was welcomed in West Papua. In Biak, demonstrators carried the banned morning star flag and signs in English welcoming the launch. They called the 1969 “Act of Free Choice,” the fraudulent exercise through which Indonesia annexed West Papua, “illegal.” Demonstrators also peacefully took to the streets in Jayapura and in Timika where demonstrators flew the flags of Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu.

In Fak Fak, at least ten Papuans were arrested on March 1 after peaceful February 28 demonstrations welcoming the formation of the IPWP chapter in Australia. The demonstrators also reportedly protested the formation of the U4PB (see above).

Back issues of West Papua Report

Full March 2012 report with graphics is here: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2012/1203wpap.htm

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