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West Papua Report December 2011: Central Highlands targeted, Repression as policy, Climate Change, Special Autonomy

West Papua Report

December 2011

This is the 91st in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note toetan@etan.org.

Summary: A new operation by security forces in West Papua’s central highland region
has targeted civilians with destruction of a church, houses and other buildings. Human rights organizations are calling for an investigation of security force brutality associated with the October 16-19 Papuan Congress. Continued repression in West Papua and the Yudhoyono administration’s defense of the perpetrators of that repression as well as the impunity regularly accorded the perpetrators points to the Jakarta’s ultimate responsibility for the violence. The decade-old Special Autonomy policy in West Papua constitutes a strategy for subjugation of Papuans in their own homeland.


Security Forces Again Target Civilians in Papuan Central Highlands

POLRI GEGANA anti-terrorism troops attacking peaceful flag raisers, Taokou Village, East Paniai, December 1 (West Papua Media)

West Papua Media reports that a major offensive by Indonesian security forces in West Papua’s Central Highlands (Puncak Jaya) was launched on December 1. Special forces of the militarized police (Brimob) attacked the village of Wandenggobak on December 3, burned a church, an unknown number of houses and village guard houses. Initial reports suggest some civilian casualties, but the number of Papuan civilians killed and injured is not known.

According to West Papua Media sources, the assault on the village was in reprisal for the killing of two Brimob personnel in earlier fighting with forces of Goliat Tabuni, a local leader of the Papua independence movement.

The latest “sweeping operation” reportedly coincided with a December 1 peaceful demonstration by a large number of Papuans celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first raising of the Papuan independence flag at the district center of Tingginambut. National police spokesman Maj. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution says hundreds of troops have been deployed in Puncak Jaya.

West Papua Media notes that the Brimob unit involved (the “anti terrorist” Gegana Brimob) has received Australian training and weaponry obtained from Australia.

About 110 residents of Berap and Genyem villages, near Lake Sentani in Papua, have been forced to flee to the forest after Indonesian Police terrorized the village. WestPapuaMedia

New Reports on Security Force Attack on Papuan Congress, Call for Accountability

The November 29 Jakarta Globe reported that the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (Elsham) and the Communion of Churches in Papua (PGGP) said that at least 51 people had been tortured by members of the military and police during and after the October 16-19 Papuan Congress (see West Papua Report November 2011).

Congress participants testified that they had been “beaten and kicked repeatedly by security forces both at the congress site and while being transported to police headquarters. Some participants said they were beaten at the police station.”

These accounts echoed victim testimony reported elsewhere. The ELSHAM and PGGP report broke new ground, however, noting that security forces also looted and vandalized a monastery.

The Rev. Wellem Maury of the PGGP said the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) should assume responsibility for the investigation and specifically form a fact-finding team to investigate allegations of human rights abuses, torture and excessive use of force. “Komnas HAM must also report its findings to the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs so there is an open and fair trial,” he said.

Brutal Repression in West Papua: A Product of Rogue Security Forces or Yudhoyono Administration Policy?

The injustice of the brutal assault on peaceful Papuan civilians at the Papuan Congress on October 19 has been compounded by exceedingly light sentences for the perpetrators of the abuses, including the death of at least three dissenters and the beating/torture of scores of others. A security force-led investigation produced official reprimands for 13 district police officers, four Mobil Brigade (Brimob) officers and one district police chief, while five Jayapura Police officers were given seven-day detentions.

The silence of the President regarding the October 19 assault, the impunity accorded the perpetrators, and the defense of their actions by senior Yudhoyono administration officials underscore the President’s direct responsibility.

Any impact of these minimal sanctions has been mitigated by comments by key security leaders. National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo told the House of Representatives that some police officers had taken the wrong approach during the third Papuan People’s Congress. However, he defended the measures taken saying “what we did [at Abepura] was part of law enforcement.” Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto, at the same House hearing echoed Timur’s statement. “I hereby defend my colleague from the police. I think it’s impossible for officers [military and police] to commit violence for no reason – there must be a logical explanation for their anarchist deeds.” The spokesman for President Yudhoyono Julian Aldrin Pasha also has defended the assault, telling the Jakarta Post: “In principle, we have dealt with the Papua issue properly.” He added that the police were justified in forcibly dispersing the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Abepura when it found that it was an act of treason.

Most tellingly, President Yudhoyono himself was dismissive of concerns about human rights violations arising from the October 19 assault, even when those concerns are raised by a foreign Head of State. President Obama, during their November Bali meeting, according to U.S. government sources, raised the October 19 assault. Yudhoyono told mediathat said he responded to the U.S. leader by contending that Indonesian forces were conducting legitimate operations against an ”insurgency” and that Indonesian forces came under attack from separatists. ”If there are members who have violated the laws, gross violations of human rights, then they will go before the law,” he said. ”I told him personally, there is no impunity, no immunity.” Apparently Yudhoyono public silence specifically regarding the October 19 extended to his evasive response to President Obama’s direct question.

WPAT Comment: International reaction to the October 19 assault, mostly from human rights organizations, but also from some international parliamentarians such as U.S. Representative Eni Faleomavaega (see West Papua Report November 2011), condemned the Indonesian security forces as responsible for violence against peaceful dissenters. Such international opprobrium directed at security forces abuses over the years has been strong and often has identified specific units and officers as perpetrators of these rights violations. But such criticism may be misdirected. The silence of the President regarding the October 19 assault, the impunity accorded the perpetrators, and the defense of their actions by senior Yudhoyono administration officials underscore the President’s direct responsibility, not only for the assault, but for the climate of repression that assures such abuses will continue. The Yudhoyono administration itself, and President Yudhoyono himself, should stand in the dock for these crimes.

Where Are Indonesia’s Indigenous Voices in the Climate Change Debate?

November 30 Jakarta Globe article by Andrew D. Kaspar underscored the importance of annual international climate change conference now meeting in Durban, South Africa. While much of the coverage in the run-up to the conference has focused on the failure of many developed nations, notably the U.S., to live up to commitments made in this area, another key issue is the extent to which perspectives of the indigenous peoples are (and are not) reflected in the deliberations.

Kaspar writes that a key element of any climate change strategy is Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), which is intended to offer payments to encourage forest preservation to prevent the release of carbon dioxide stored in the trees. Kaspar points out that REDD is seen as a particularly potent means of emissions reductions because the vast majority of Indonesia’s emissions are attributed to deforestation.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaking in mid-November at the launch Indonesia’s UN Office for REDD Coordination made point that “Making REDD a success …will require the commitment and cooperation of all stakeholders. We must ensure that all have a voice.”

Up to now, Indonesia has accorded indigenous stakeholders little say in the fate of the forests that provide sustenance and shelter for many of them. This is particularly true in West Papua where Papuans’ objections to plans for a vast commercial plantation in the Manukwari area have been ignored. Papuan protest over decades of illegal logging either run by or protected by security forces and destruction of vast swaths of sago and mangrove by the Freeport mining operation also have been ignored.

Special Autonomy: A Strategy for Subjugation

“Special Autonomy,” the Indonesian Government’s strategy for addressing the myriad problems confronting the Papuan people, is now ten years old. Inaugurated by then-President Megawati in 2001, the plan was intended to address decades of failed development and the absence of critical health, education and other services which have impoverished and marginalized the Papuan people since West Papua’s coercive annexation by Indonesia in 1969.

The Papuan people have resoundingly rejected Special Autonomy, most notably in massive, peaceful demonstrations in June of 2010 (see West Papua Report July 2010).

While most independent analyses have consistently described “special autonomy” as a failed approach, criticism of the plan has largely focused on Jakarta’s hapless implementation of the policy. But a closer analysis of Special Autonomy suggests a more sinister reading of the plan’s impact and real intent.

Over the past decade the plight of Papuans has remained bleak. The poverty level, especially in non-urban areas where most Papuan live, is particularly revealing. The percentage of Papuans identified as living in poverty in the two West Papuan provinces in 2010 are among the highest in Southeast Asia.

Special autonomy funds continue to flow into West Papua in a manner that benefits the transmigrant population. Special Autonomy has disadvantaged Papuans systematically and comprises in effect a strategy for subjugation of Papuans in their own homeland.

According to the Indonesian statistical office (see BPS Nasional), the poverty level is 36.80% in Papua Province and 34.88% in West Papua Province.

Most Papuans live in rural areas and when poverty levels for non-urban populations are separated out the marginalization and suffering of Papuans emerge as especially acute. In the villages of Papua Province the poverty level is 46.02%, but only 5.55% of those living in towns (home to most non-Papuan migrants), The dichotomy between village dwellers (largely Papuans) and towns (largely migrants) in West Papua Province is similar. In villages, 43.38% live in poverty, while in towns only 5.73%.do so.

One long time observer of developments in West Papua (whose identity is not revealed for reasons of his security) argues that the combination of Special Autonomy and Jakarta’s decentralization policy (dividing up the region into increasing numbers of new administrative entities/districts) has been a “disaster” leading to ever greater marginalization of Papuans. He argues: “New districts have been formed without any real base/guarantee that public services will be improved or at least consolidated,” and that as a result, “new districts are much worse of than before.”

Many of the staff appointed to administer the new districts live outside the new districts, “hardly showing up where they should be working daily,” he told the West Papua Report. Moreover, the Jakarta central government has pressed the newly created districts to seek their own sources of financial income “opening the door wide for all kind of devastating investments without any critical reflection as to the impact on local indigenous communities such as the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate.”

In reality, a large portion of the Special Autonomy funds flowing to West Papua has been devoted to infrastructure development and expansion of services in the towns to meet the needs of government-sponsored migrants (transmigrants) from other parts of Indonesia. The Ministry of Transmigration and Labor announced in late November plans to build three “new transmigration towns” in West Papua: Senggi in Keerom District, Muting and Salor in Merauke District (see p.6 Bintang Papua, November 29).

Special Autonomy funding of projects and services for migrants appear to have aggravated the marginalization of Papuans demographically in their own lands. Papuans constituted only 49.55% of the population of West Papuaaccording to 2010 Indonesian statistics. Population growth rates according to these same statistics for dire for Papuans with at only 1.84% annual growth for Papuans and 10.82 annual growth for non-Papuans.

The reality on the ground in West Papua is grinding poverty for many Papuans and a persistent dearth of critical services in rural areas where most Papuans live. Meanwhile, special autonomy funds continue to flow into West Papua in a manner that benefits the transmigrant population. Special Autonomy has disadvantaged Papuans systematically and comprises in effect a strategy for subjugation of Papuans in their own homeland.

Peaceful Papuans Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Raising of Papuan National Flag

Bintang Papua reported that thousands of Papuans peacefully gathered at the the tomb of Theys Hijo Eluay at  Sentani, District of Jayapura, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Papua’s independence on 1 December. Theys Eluay was murdered by Indonesian Special Forces personnel (Kopassus) in 2001.

At the gathering, the co-coordinator of the 50th anniversary committee, Jack Wanggai read out a series of demands which expressed support for international monitored negotiations on the future of West Papua and a referendum of the Papuan people who for decades have been denied the right of self-determination. At the gathering there were also calls for the Indonesian government to immediately withdraw army and police troops from Papua and to release political prisoners in West Papua.

Wanggai also noted the Papuans rejection of the Indonesian government’s latest initiative to evade an internationally facilitated, senior level dialogue i.e., the creation of the special organization known as  UP4B – Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (see West Papua Report November 2011 for background on this unit and its leadership).

While the event was under way, troops conducted patrols along the roads, as well as in the vicinity of residential houses and shops. These activities by the security forces failed deter the people who completed their program peacefully.

West Papua Report November 2011

This is the 90th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

Summary: Indonesian security forces attacked a mass gathering in the Papua capital, Jayapura, and striking workers at the Freeport mine in the southern highlands. At least five people were killed and many more injured in the assaults, which show a renewed pattern of overt violence against peaceful dissent. A brutal and unjustified October 19 attack on thousands of Papuans exercising their rights to assembly and freedom of speech resulted in the death of at least three Papuan civilians, the beating of many, detention of hundreds and arrest of six, reportedly on treason charges. The Obama administration has largely ignored the egregious violation of human rights, instead advancing U.S.-Indonesian military ties. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who arrived in Indonesia in the immediate wake of the Jayapura attack, avoided criticism of the assault and reaffirmed U.S. support for Indonesia’s territorial integrity, a snub to Papuans quest for self-determination. Panetta also reportedly commended Indonesia’s handling of a weeks-long strike at the U.S.-based Freeport McMoRan mine which has seen eight killings and revealed cash payments by Freeport to the police. Indonesia’s response to the growing crisis in West Papua is to increase the militarization of the territory and to dispatch a special unit that is headed by a notorious former military officer whose record in dealing with Aceh bears ominous implications for the Papuans.


Obama Administration Abandons Human Rights Agenda to Advance Military Ties

On October 19, hundreds of Indonesian military and police personnel attacked a peaceful gathering of several thousand Papuans engaged at a congress which had convened to assert Papuans long-denied right to self-determination. The Congress, only the third such event in the last 50 years, sought to exercise rights of free speech and assembly guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution and international accords, including the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic and Cultural rights and Social rights, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
The brutal assault by Indonesian security forces killed at least three Papuans and resulted in the disappearance of others and the detention of approximately 300. At least six leaders were arrested and are expected to be charged with treason. Separate accounts suggest that the number of Papuans killed could be as high as 17 and the number of those detained and beaten while in custody could be as high as 800. Among those arrested were Forkorus Yasboisembut, President of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP). The security force violence and arrests followed the Congress’s declaration of independence for West Papua.

Security forces pursued the peaceful demonstrators, beating participants. One of those killed was reportedly shot in the back. Two other victims were found beaten to death, their bodies dumped behind a police station. An Australian eye witness to the assault, interviewed on Australian television’s ABC on October 28, identified the attacking security forces as including the Indonesian military (TNI), the Indonesian specialized police (BRIMOB), regular police units and the Indonesian “anti-terror” force, Detachment 88. The Detachment 88 team is funded and trained by the U.S. and Australian governments. It has repeatedly been charged with extrajudicial killings and torture.

The Police Commander for Papua publicly defended the assault, as have senior officials in Jakarta who contended that the military operation against civilians was provoked by Congress leaders who sought to declare West Papua’s independence. “The government did not find any abuse of power nor mismanaged approaches by the security officers,” said presidential spokesman, Julian Aldrin Pasha. “Police officers and security forces just accomplished their (as) duties mandated by the state.” Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for Political Legal and Security Affairs also defended the assault. (See also statements made by the Defense Minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro: for example, see Made Arya Kencana, Banjir Ambarita and Ulma Haryanto, “ Jakarta Gives US Its Side of Story in Papua Deaths,” The Jakarta Globe, 23 October 2011.

International human rights organizations and some elected officials such as U.S. Congressmember Eni Faleomavaega and Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale  immediately and strongly condemned the violence. Faleomavaega urged the release of those detained and specifically raised the assault with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Senator Di Natale urged dispatch of an investigatory mission to West Papua and that Australia immediately suspend all support for the Indonesian military.

While comments by Faleomavaega and Di Natale echoed the calls of the many international nongovernmental organizations, there was scant word of condemnation from other governments. The silence rendered the international community complicit in the attack.

Particularly egregious, in this regard, was the reaction of the U.S. government. U.S. Ambassador Marciel in Jakarta called for an investigation of the incident. While appropriate, that response was manifestly inadequate. His failure to condemn the assault, conveys to the Indonesian government that use of lethal and military force against peaceful civilians is acceptable.

WPAT Comment: In attempting to understand the rationale for the Obama administration’s abandonment of human rights concerns it is essential to note the presence of U.S. Secretary of Defense Panetta in Jakarta at the time of the assault. Panetta’s visit inaugurated the resumption of full U.S.-Indonesia military to military cooperation. It appears that the Obama administration was not prepared to criticize Indonesian security forces with whom it was announcing a strengthened partnership. This abandonment of principle by the Obama administration is reminiscent of the collusion of previous U.S. administrations in the invasion and occupation of East Timor by the Suharto dictatorship.
see also Tapol, WPAT, ETAN: Indonesian crackdown on Papuan Congress sparks outrage

Indonesia Beefs Up Occupation Forces in West Papua

In the wake of the assault on the Third Papuan Congress (see above), continuing violence associated with police efforts to quell an ongoing strike at Freeport (see below), and the killing of a local police chief in remote Mulia district in the central highlands, the Indonesian government announced the dispatch of hundreds of additional security personnel to augment the existing Indonesian occupation force in West Papua.

The Jakarta Post reported
that provincial police spokesman Wachyono saying that “So far 260 [extra] personnel from the police mobile brigade (Brimob) have landed in Papua province to help maintain security in two districts.” Troops were sent to the Puncak Jaya and Paniai highlands in central Papua, he said, adding that they will join an existing force of 14,000 police and paramilitary troops in Papua.

Wachyono said they were still “hunting” the police chief’s killers. Authorities have said that based on preliminary investigations they are believed to be separatists. (WPAT Comment: the launch of “hunting” indicates that security force sweep operations may be underway. These operations routinely displace large numbers of civilians as their villages and gardens are destroyed.)

Numerous Indonesian non-governmental organizations criticized the dispatch of ever greater numbers of military and police elements to West Papua. “The militarization of West Papua has the clear intent of intimidating Papuan civilians who are courageously pursuing a course of peaceful dissent in defense of their rights, including worker rights and the right to self determination” said Edmund McWilliams, a former senior U.S. diplomat who served in Indonesia. “Jakarta authorities,” he added, continue to employ security forces and thug militias to suppress Papuans’ peaceful resistance to ethnic genocide implicit in Jakarta’s support for transmigration-colonization and its denial of vital services to Papuans.”

Notorious Military General to Head Jakarta’s Conflict Resolution Unit in West Papua

On October 29, the Yudhoyono administration announced formation of a special unit tasked with settling the conflict in West Papua. The “Unit to Accelerate the Development in West Papua and Papua”  (UP4B) was actually formed in September.  In mid-October, Yudhoyono signed a decree, appointing Lt. Gen. (ret) Bambang Darmono to the chairman of UP4B. It will report to a board headed by Vice President Boediono. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/30/sby-s-papua-team-ready-roll.html

The announcement aid that the team will be led by Bambang Darmono, the former commander of military operations in Aceh (2002-2005) and a key Indonesian figure in negotiations that produced the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which ended formal conflict between the Acehnese Freedom Movement (GAM) and Indonesia security forces. Darmono is the former Secretary General of the National Defense Council.

Darmono’s record as commander of Indonesian security forces is replete with credible charges of human rights violations including the execution of seven teenage Acehnese on May 21, 2003, thoroughly reported by Tempo magazine. His troops allegedly also executed Muzakkir Abdullah, an Acehnese peasant in the hamlet of Seumirah, Nisam district, in June 2003. Several Indonesian soldiers abducted him earlier that day. Abdullah’s sister was photographed screaming when she saw his body. The photo by a Reuters photographer won a World Press Photo award. Darmono appeared prominently in a documentary, “The Black Road” by William Nessen, in  which Darmono denied the involvement of his troops in the arrest and torture of a human rights defender. He had admitted that his troops had sometimes became abusive and he arrested some of them for shooting chicken.

In a June 26, 2007 interview with the U.S. Public Broadcasting System, Darmono strongly sided with Javanese transmigrants whose government-sponsored resettlement in Aceh mirrored government-sponsored transmigrant settlement of West Papua.  To many Papuans, like many Acehnese, such government-sponsored transmigrant schemes amount to colonization.  Darmono’s past championing of such policies in Aceh raise concerns for Papuans.  Such concerns are particularly strong given predictions by the “ Papua Road Map Project,” a plan by academics to promote peace in West Papua, that the percentage of non-Papuans living in West Papua will rise from 41 percent in 2005 to 53.5 percent by the end of 2011, rendering Papuans a minority in their own homeland.

The Indonesian government’s failure to carry out key elements of the 2005 MOU, including the failure to establish a promised Human Rights Court for Aceh and a “Commission for Justice and Reconciliation,” according to many as a consequence of military opposition to such steps, led in large measure by Darmono.

The appointment of Darmono to the special unit for West Papua is indicative of the manner in which the Yudhoyono administration intends to “settle” the conflict in West Papua.

Indonesian Security Forces Still on The Take from Freeport
Indonesian security forces in West Papua, notably the police, continue to receive extensive direct payments of cash from Freeport McMoRan. National Police chief Timur Pradopo admitted on October 28  that officers had received close to $10 million annually from Freeport. Prominent Indonesian NGO Imparsial puts the annual figure at $14 million. Pradopa described the payments as “lunch money.”  The payments recall even larger payments made by Freeport to Indonesian military forces over the years which, once revealed, prompted a U.S. Security and Exchange Commission investigation of Freeport and questions as to Freeport’s liability under the U.S. law (the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).

The revelation of payments to the police has prompted widespread criticism in Indonesia. The respected Indonesian NGO KontraS (Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence) accused the police of a conflict of interest in West Papua. KontraS said that based on its investigations, the police had become involved in ongoing labor disputes that have led to violence and interruptions in Freeport operations (see following item). KontraS cited specific examples of police intimidation, including death threats targeting union organizers. It said Sudiro, SPSI’s chief workplace organizer for Freeport’s Grasberg mine, had reported that Timika Police Chief Denny Siregar called him and made a death threat. KontraS also pointed to instances of police verbal harassment of other union leaders. “From the testimonies collected by KontraS [in Timika] on the sidelines of negotiations between workers and Freeport, the police chief pressured the SPSI leader to comply with the company’s wishes” Kontras investigator Haris Azhar told media on October 28.

Police, according to Haris, also accused the striking workers of treason. “All they did was make demands for their improved welfare. How can the police accuse them of being separatists? It makes no sense,” he said.

KontraS said the presumed reason for the police taking the gold and copper mining company’s side was Freeport’s documented direct payments to police officers based in the area. Haris added that the flood of money to police had created a conflict of interest when its people, nominally public servants, handled cases related to the company. “When there’s a problem between Freeport and their workers, of course they choose to support Freeport,” he said. Haris said Kontras would report its findings to the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

U.S. Secretary of Defense Praise for Indonesian Handling of Freeport Strike

The Jakarta Post reported on October 25 that U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, visiting Indonesia, had “praised Indonesia’s handling of the strike at Freeport.” The strike has seen at least 8 killings in October and a partial shutdown of mining operations. The protracted struggle for worker rights has also involved police assaults on demonstrators and, according to the respected Indonesian NGO Kontras, police death threats to a union leader and harassment and intimidation targeting other union officials.

The violence has accompanied renewed reports of police receipt of Freeport cash, according to the national police commander as “lunch money.” The lunch money amounted to at least $10 million (see above report). Freeport’s labor difficulties are compounded by growing calls for a renegotiation of Freeport’s contract and by demonstrations targeting its office in Jakarta and its headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona.

Panetta’s exact comments regarding Indonesian “handling” of the strike were not reported and the U.S. Embassy has not provided text for Panetta’s remarks to his Indonesian hosts. Meanwhile the strike, which began in September largely over wage issues, continues.

see also WPAT/ETAN: Statement on Strike at Freeport McMoran’s Mining Operation in West Papua

Back issues of West Papua Report

West Papua Report October 2011

This is the 90th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

Summary: Papuans will convene a third “National Congress,” an historic convocation that follows congresses in 1961 and 2000. Military and police forces have attacked civilian homes, purportedly in pursuit of those responsible for an August incident that may have been staged. In the wake of growing violence, leading human rights organizations have called on the Indonesian government to “re-assess” its resort to military measures to address dissent in West Papua. The giant mining firm Freeport McMoran is facing growing pressure from labor and the government. The attention focused on Freeport has once more brought to light the enormous profits and tax revenues flowing from the mining operation. These riches stand in stark contrast to the grinding poverty endured by Papuans whose resources Freeport is exploiting. The UN Secretary General has publicly retreated from comments in which he appeared to recognize the need for the UN Decolonization Committee and the Human Rights Council to take up the denial of Papuan rights to self-determination and other violations of human rights.


Papuans To Convene Third National Congress in October

The Papuan National Collective, comprising leaders of the Dewan Adat Papua (the Papuan Customary Council), and leaders of Papuan religious, human rights, women, and youth organizations have announced the convening of the “Third Papuan Congress,” in Jayapura, October 16-19, 2011. Members of the Provincial Papuan Assembly (DPRD) will also participate in the congress.

According to the Collective leaders, the theme of the congress is “Affirming the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people for the present and the future.”

The gathering will address agendas presented by all participating representatives such as the protection of fundamental human rights, including the right to self determination; accountability of security forces for crimes against the civilian population, and protection of the environment. The leaders have noted that they expect congress to reaffirm Papuans’ commitment to pursue respect for their rights through peaceful means.

The First Papuan Congress occurred on October 16-19,1961. At that congress, Papuan leaders declared the desire of the Papuan people to become a free and independent nation. The second congress convened in May 2000 with the support of then Indonesian President Abdul Wahid Rahman. Papuan leaders rejected the 1962 “New York Agreement” which surrendered control of West Papua to Indonesia. The congress also rejected the “Act of Free Choice,” the fraudulent process that in 1969 denied Papuans their right of self-determination. The congress called on the UN to revoke November 19, 1969 UN Resolution 2504 which formally recognized Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua.

Military and Police Attack Civilian Homes

A combined military and police force on August 31 raided civilian homes near Nafri, outside Abepura, where an August 1 assault on a largely civilian convoy killed four and wounded six. The perpetrators of that attack remain unknown though investigations by local NGOs point to a provocation by the Indonesian military‘s notorious special forces (Kopassus).

The Nafri attack may have been part of a strategy by security forces to create instability to undermine large scale Papuan demonstrations set for August 2 (see August West Papua Report). According to the government, the military/police attack on the civilian homes was in pursuit of Papuans responsible for the Nafri attack.

A report translated by TAPOL provides detail on the late August military and police operation. On 31 August , the homes of four Papuans were targeted by the Army (TNI-AD) and Brimob (special unit of the Indonesian police) supplemented by the police force of Papua. Thirteen Papuans were arrested. Local witnesses report that occupants of the four houses were in their homes at the time of the operation and that some of whom were asleep. The security forces entered the area where the homes were located and started firing warning shots which traumatized the local people. Although the thirteen initially evaded the security forces, all of them, including an eight year old girl, were arrested. (See also West Papua Media Alerts’ Special Investigation: State terror campaign around Jayapura.)

Ten, including the eight year old, were subsequently released but two were two detained, Ekimar Kogoya, 22 years, and Panius Kogoya, 20 years old. The security forces that conducted the sweep, which appear to have included elements of the notorious Detachment 88 , are formally charging the two now being held with involvement in the killings in Nafri August 1 and say that they are suspected of being members of the TPN/OPM.

Mathius Murib, deputy chair or the National Human Rights Commission’s (Komnas HAM) Papua branch told media that “proper procedures were not followed and the people who were detained were subjected to mal-treatment, and what is even more disturbing is that a child of 7 or 8 years old was kidnapped at the same time.”

The Nafri incident and subsequent “sweeps” follows the standard modus operandi of Indonesian security forces operating in West Papua: An incident, possibly staged, is used to justify augmenting security forces in an area which then violate local citizens rights with sweeps designed to intimidate the local population. These sweeps usually coincide with periods of growing popular protest over political repression and human rights violations. This modus operandi is part of the Indonesian security force playbook and was regularly witnessed at work in Indonesian-occupied East Timor.

Prominent Human Rights Organizations Call for End to Indonesian Government Resort to Military Measures in West Papua

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) urged the Indonesian government to reassess its reliance on military measures to address growing dissent in West Papua. The organizations noted in a September 21 statement that their call came amidst growing violence in the region.

WPAT notes that security force reliance on extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest, torture of detainees, and repression of peaceful dissent reflect the reality that Suharto-dictatorship rules and procedures still apply in West Papua.

The four organizations decried the continuing buildup of security forces in West Papua, which Imparsial claimed was in the range of 14,000 personnel, and the continuing impunity accorded those forces for their violation of constitutionally protected human rights. They also condemned Government efforts to preclude monitoring of conditions in West Papua by journalists, international human rights monitors and other legitimate observers.

The four organizations called on the Indonesian government to:

  • Instruct its military to immediately cease all unlawful surveillance activities in Papua and revise its current draft intelligence bill by incorporating recommendations by civil society and bringing it into line with the Indonesian Constitution and Criminal Procedure Code, as well as international human rights law;
  • Take steps to reduce the heavy presence of non-organic military personnel and their involvement in civil administration in Papua and seriously implement security sector reform;
  • Fully and credibly investigate all past and new allegations of human rights abuses, especially those perpetrated by state security forces, and promptly bring perpetrators to justice;
  • Strengthen civilian oversight and rigorous parliamentary scrutiny of military policies, operations and budget; and
  • Respect the role of human rights defenders and ensure unfettered access to Papua by civil society groups and actors, including foreign and domestic journalists and independent human rights monitors.

Freeport Under Growing Labor and Government Pressure

Workers at the giant Freeport McMoran gold and copper mine have been on strike since September 15 demanding higher wages and protesting numerous violations of their rights.

The violations they contend the company has committed include Freeport’s hiring of strike breaker workers (scabs). It remains unclear whether courts will sanction the strike action as legal.

In addition to facing pressure from its workers, Freeport is also under government pressure to renegotiate is contract with the Indonesian government. All major foreign mining firms in Indonesia are obliged to renegotiate their contracts to ensure that they are in accordance with the 2009 Mineral and Coal Law which is intended to increase government income from the mining sector. The new law mandates that existing mining contracts be adjusted to the in accordance with the new law. Freeport is one of the few foreign mining firms that has yet to renegotiate its contract.

According to Freeport, under its existing 1991 contract, it has been Indonesia’s largest tax payer: Freeport said in a press statement that in the first half of this year, the company paid US$1.4 billion in financial obligations to the Indonesian government. From 1992 to June 2011, the company contributed a total of $12.8 billion to the country.

The Jakarta Post writes that the firm’s mine covers 213,000 hectares. Royalty payments from the company accounted for 68 percent of Papua’s gross domestic regional product (GDRP) and 96 percent of Timika’s GDRP in 2010. During that year, the company contributed $1.9 billion to the state income from tax and non-tax payments and invested $2.1 billion.

WPAT Comment: While Freeport is a major source of revenue for the Indonesian government, that revenue is only a small portion of the vast profits that Freeport has reaped from its operation which were launched in 1967, even before Indonesia formally annexed West Papua in 1969. The extraordinary wealth accruing to Freeport and the Indonesian government stands in stark contrast to the grinding poverty and lack of development that has been the plight of the Papuan people, particularly those Papuans such as the Kamoro and Amungme people who have seen their lands stolen and polluted by the Freeport operation. The corrupt bargain between Jakarta and Freeport is a legacy of the 1962 “New York Agreement” which the US Government orchestrated in a cold war ploy, absent the consent or even the involvement of the Papuan people.

UN Secretary General’s Candid Comments on West Papua Partially Pulled Back

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, at a press conference in Auckland New Zealand on September 7, spoke directly and candidly in response to two questions about West Papua. His comments appeared to suggest his support for international calls for the West Papua to be listed among those territories considered by the UN General Assembly’s Decolonization Committee. He also appeared to be sympathetic to discussion of West Papua in the Human Rights Council. Implicit in the UNSG’s comments were both a recognition that there was merit in a review of West Papua’s legal status and that there was a basis for concern regarding the human rights situation in West Papua. In particular, the UNSG responded to what was a legal/political question about West Papua by introducing in his response concern over human rights in West Papua.

A portion of the Secretary General’s comments were corrected in New York on September 13 by an unnamed “spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Papua.” The “spokesperson” contended that the Secretary-General had been speaking “off-the-cuff.” The Secretary-General’s original comments in New Zealand are nonetheless significant. The text of the two questions and his responses follows:

Question: [unclear] With regards to human rights – for more than forty two years, there’s a struggle in West Papua as people seeking their government in the province of West Papua. What is the United Nations stand on that?
BKM: This issue should also be discussed at the Decolonisation Committee of the United Nations General Assembly And when it comes again, whether you are an independent state or a non-self-governing territory or whatever, the human rights is inalienable and a fundamental principle of the United Nations.
We will do all to ensure that people in West Papua, their human rights will be respected.
Question: Does a human rights fact-finding mission has be dispatched to West Papua at some time?
BKM: That is the same answer [to a previous question on Fiji] that should be discussed at the Human Rights Council amongst the member states.
Normally the Secretary General acts on the basis of a mandate given by inter-governmental bodies.

The spokesperson’s statement was as follows:

His off-the-cuff response may have led to the misunderstanding that he was suggesting the matter of Papua should be placed on the agenda of the Decolonization Committee. The Secretary-General wishes to clarify that this was not his intention.

Interestingly, the spokesman’s correction let stand the UNSG’s apparent endorsement of the need for a discussion of the human rights situation in West Papua in the Human Rights Council.

Back issues of West Papua Report

West Papua Report September 2011

This is the 89th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan @etan.org.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Amnesty International Calls for Release of Papuan Imprisoned for Peaceful Dissent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buchtar Tabuni is Finally Freed

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

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

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

Indonesian Special Forces Spying and Intimidation Targeting Civilians Revealed

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

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

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

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

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

Papuans to Convene To Address West Papua’s Future

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

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

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

Papuan Leaders Appeal To U.S. Congressional Leaders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indonesian Military Continues to Call the Shots in West Papua

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back issues of West Papua Report

West Papua Report August 2011

This is the 88th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

Summary: Thousands of Papuans peacefully took to the streets August 2 to support calls for a referendum on West Papua’s political future. The demonstrations proceeded despite the presence of armed security forces intended to block the demonstrations and the presence of Jakarta-backed militia provocateurs. Violence erupted near Jayapura and in Puncak District on the eve of the demonstrations. Over 50 international organizations publicly called for the Indonesian government to respond positively to appeals by Papuan NGOs and churches for justice, an end to human rights violations in West Papua, and protection of human rights advocates and journalists. WPAT called on Secretary Clinton to raise with Indonesian officials the ongoing military sweep operations in Puncak Jaya, West Papua. These operations have had devastating affects on innocent Papuan civilians. Secretary Clinton called for dialogue to settle disputes over West Papua. Her repetition of US Government support for “special autonomy” made clear that the Obama administration is deaf to the voice of Papuans who have rejected “special autonomy” repeatedly. Efforts by Indonesian security forces to cover-up the human cost of their military sweep operations in Puncak Jaya have failed. Komnas Ham has proposed a dialogue about violence in Puncak Jaya. A peace conference which convened in West Papua has explored the possibility of advancing dialogue with the Indonesian government. Renowned international academics, lawyers and Papuan activists will convene in Oxford to discuss the continuing denial of the right of self-determination to Papuans. The military commander in West Papua has apologized to the Papuan Kingmi church over intimidating language he employed against the church.


Thousands of Demonstrators in West Papua Demand Referendum

August 2 demonstration in Wamena. (KNPB)

Thousands of Papuans took to the streets in West Papua centers including the capital, Jayapura, to demand a referendum on West Papua’s political future. The August 2 demonstrations were planned to coincide with a conference in Oxford, England, which addressed the fraudulent 1969 “Act of Free Choice” which facilitated Jakarta’s annexation of West Papua. (see below)

The demonstrations in Jayapura have taken place despite the heavy presence of armed security forces deployed to deter demonstrators. Similar efforts by armed security forces to block demonstrations have been reported in Manokwari and other major towns such as Wamena, Biak, Nabire, Paniai, and Timika. The protests were organized by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB).

WestPapuaMedia, which has a network of reporters inside West Papua, reported that members of two pro-Indonesian militias — Besar Merah Putih and Aswain (Eurico Guterres) — have been deployed widely across the Jayapura area in conjunction with security forces. Guterres is the notorious leader of pro-Indonesia militias which worked in conjunction with Indonesian security forces to commit atrocities in East Timor in the run-up to that nation’s pro-independence referendum in 1999.

WestPapuaMedia sources also report that members of Kopassus special forces in plain clothes may also be on the streets. There are suspicions among observers inside West Papua that these forces, including both Kopassus and the militias, may be behind a spate of violent incidents that have transpired in recent days. (See following article on this violence.) This violence may have been organized as an attempt to spread fear, panic and division in order to prevent the protests going ahead.

WestPapuaMedia notes that with tensions extremely high after the violence, the organizers of the August 2 rallies across Papua have banned even symbolic traditional weapons from the gatherings. They also have worked with the Dewan Adat Papua (Papuan Customary Council) to deploy hundreds of peacekeepers from the uniformed Community Security Force of Petapa, or “The Guardians of the Land of Papua.”

Jayapura Sorong Timika (photos via KNPB)

Deadly New Violence in West Papua

As this edition of the West Papua Report was being finalized, there were reports of significant violence in two locations. The seemingly unrelated incidents transpired in Abepura District near the capital Jayapura and in the more remote Puncak District.

In Abepura, unidentified personnel armed with firearms, machetes and axes attacked a transport vehicle on August 1 killing four and wounding 15. All the victims in the pre-dawn attack were migrants and one was a low ranking soldier. Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Imam Setiawan accused the Free Papua Movement (TPN-OPM) for the attack in which unidentified assailants sprayed a small bus with bullets as it passed through Nafri village. However, a New York Times report quoted Colonel Wachyono, a spokesperson for the Provincial police, as stating “We can’t yet conclude that it was the TPN-OPM or not.”

Fokorous Yoboisembut chairperson of the Dewan Adat Papua (Papuan Customary Council), told media that in the past such violence has been orchestrated on the eve of popular demonstrations such as those held August 2.

In the Puncak District initial reports indicated Papuans backing rival local political leaders came to blows in July 30. A total of 19 were killed according to police.  Markus Haluk, the secretary general of the Central Highlands Papuan Student Association, told media that according to witnesses, police fired into the crowd killing three. The rioting rival groups reportedly accounted for additional deaths.

International Community Support for Papuan NGOs’ Appeals for Justice

Organizations based in more than a dozen countries issued a statement of support for West Papuan NGO’s and churches calling for justice and human rights. The Papuan organizations have “decried the failure of the Indonesian government to ensure justice for or protect Papuans who have been the victims of security force brutality, including extra-judicial killing, torture, abduction and imprisonment,” the statement said. The statement noted in particular that human rights advocates and journalists attempting to cover abuses have been targeted.

The international organizations expressed their “support for these courageous appeals” by the Papuan organizations and pledged “to pressure our individual governments and international organizations to press the Indonesian government to act positively and immediately on these demands for justice and the protection of human rights defenders.”

The international statement added that the “continuing violation of human rights starkly demonstrates the limits of ‘democratization’ in Indonesia.”

The statement was endorsed by 54 international, regional, national and local organizations. It was initiated by Tapol , West Papua Advocacy Team and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)

Letter Urges Secretary Clinton to Raise with Indonesia Brutal Military Sweep Operation in Puncak Jaya

We urge you to use the opportunity of your visit to Indonesia to call on the Indonesian President to halt all military operations in West Papua and return all military personal to their barracks as a way of easing tension and saving lives. We also urge you to raise with senior Indonesians, the plight of dozens of Papuan prisoners of conscience who were jailed as result of peaceful dissent.

On July 20, the U.S.-based West Papua Advocacy Team wrote to Secretary Clinton on the eve of her visit to Indonesia to urge her to raise with senior Indonesians the Indonesian military’s ongoing military operation in Puncak Jaya, West Papua. The letter noted the history of such operations which have repeatedly entailed grave harm to Papuans who have been driven from their villages. Many Papuans have died due to these operations.

The letter to Secretary Clinton noted that Papuan civil society leaders, non-governmental organizations, churches as well as ordinary civilians have long called for transformation of Papua into a “Land of Peace,” a concept that would demilitarize West Papua and end the Indonesian government’s reliance on a “security approach” to address peaceful, political dissent. The letter also reminded the Secretary that many Papuans are incarcerated in prisons due to their peaceful exercise of freedoms of speech and assembly which are denied them by the Indonesian government.

The letter concluded:

We urge you to use the opportunity of your visit to Indonesia to call on the Indonesian President to halt all military operations in West Papua and return all military personal to their barracks as a way of easing tension and saving lives. We also urge you to raise with senior Indonesians, the plight of dozens of Papuan prisoners of conscience who were jailed as result of peaceful dissent and who now face health and even life-threatening conditions in Indonesian notorious prisons.

As is unfortunately common practice, the U.S. State Department failed to acknowledge the letter in any way. Secretary Clinton however, was pressed on human rights abuse by security forces in West Papua during a press conference with the Indonesian Foreign Minister in Bali (see following item).

see also ETAN Urges Secretary Clinton to Condition Security Assistance to Indonesia on Rights

Secretary Clinton Supports Dialogue To Resolve Papuan Issues, but Persists in Support of “Special Autonomy”

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, right, and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at joint press conference , Bali, Indonesia. AP/Saul Loeb, Pool)

During her late July visit to Indonesia to attend a regional foreign ministers’ summit in Bali, Secretary of State Clinton was questioned about repression of Papuans in West Papua. The questioning followed calls by U.S. NGO’s for her to raise Indonesian security force actions against civilians in West Papua.

Responding to a question regarding this repression Secretary Clinton stated that the United States supports “open dialogue” between the Indonesian government and Papuan representatives to address regional grievances. Secretary Clinton added: “This is a matter for the Indonesian government and they are addressing it and we hope to see full implementation of the special autonomy law for Papua, which is a commitment on the part of the Indonesian government to address many of the concerns that have been expressed.” Clinton also reiterated United States support for the territorial integrity of Indonesia.

Like previous U.S. administrations, President Obama and his foreign policy team are neglecting burgeoning problems of human rights abuse and unaccountable security/intelligence forces in Indonesia.

For his part, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa claimed that the Indonesian government was addressing human rights concerns and that “doesn’t take an external party” to point out the country’s problems.

WPAT Comment: Secretary Clinton’s support for “open dialogue” between Jakarta and Papuans to address “regional grievances” was positive but her contention that “repression,” which was the question posed to her, was a “matter for the Indonesian government” was jarring. Was the Secretary unaware of or simply not briefed about ongoing military operations in West Papua that are harming civilians and driving many from their homes? Was she unaware of or not briefed regarding growing demands for justice and accountability in the face of decades of abuse of Papuans by military, police and intelligence forces? And was she unaware or not briefed that the “special autonomy” she touted has been broadly and publicly rejected by Papuan people, NGOs and religious leaders? Like previous U.S. administrations, President Obama and his foreign policy team are neglecting burgeoning problems of human rights abuse and unaccountable security/intelligence forces in Indonesia.

Security Forces Try Unsuccessfully to Block Coverage of Continuing Military Sweep Operation in Puncak Jaya

Police and military intimidation of journalists and organizers of a press conference forced cancellation of the event. The conference was to have provided an update on an ongoing military sweep operation in the Puncak Jaya region.

Security force efforts to block coverage of its sweep operation in the Puncak Jaya region have not been completely successful. WestPapuaMedia reported an early July incident in which the Indonesian military shot three children and a mother. All survived the July 12 attack. Ny Dekimira, 50, was hit on the right foot, and the three children, Jitoban Wenda 4, and their neighbors Dekimin Wenda, 3, and Dimison Wenda, 8, all had bullets hit their left legs after Indonesian troops fired indiscriminately into the honai (huts) just before dawn on July 14, according to local witnesses. WestPapuaMedia, which has earned a reputation for accurately reporting major developments notes further that:

Credible reports about the scale of the offensive are beginning to filter through from the remote and inaccessible area about the scale of the offensive The Indonesian government has closed off access to the Tingginambut district to both Indonesian and foreign human rights and media observers, and local activists have had to march for days across rugged terrain to get out verified information. Local human rights observers and Papuan activists have independently reported to West Papua Media that TNI headquarters staff have threatened their safety if they alert journalists to abuses carried out by Indonesian security forces against West Papuan people.

Matius Murib, deputy head of the Papua branch of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), confirmed the account of the four civilian victims. He added that hundreds of residents of Kalome village had fled their homes in the wake of this shooting, because they feared becoming victims of the violence.

Having failed to block coverage of developments the military has sought to deny emerging reports. Maj. Gen. Erfi Triassunu, head of the Cendrawasih Military Command, which oversees operations across Papua, said that reports of these or other civilian casualties was unlikely. “You seriously believe that in a remote and isolated area like that, with such hostile terrain, there would be people living there? Much less kids running around playing?” he said. “Honestly, I’m lost for words. This is the first time I’ve heard of this.” “We would be very surprised if there were any civilian casualties, because what would anyone be doing in such an area?”

WPAT Comment: General Triassunu’s comments would be laughable if they were not so inciting. The general, who has responsibility for the ongoing sweep operation, would appear not to know that there are civilians in the area of the operation. He also appears fundamentally unaware of the circumstances of the assault on the civilians: the wounded children were not “playing around” as the general speculates: rather, they were shot inside their homes in the pre-dawn attack by troops the general supervises.

Dialogue about Violence in Puncak Jaya?

The Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) (a state institution) plans to pursue dialogue with armed Papuan groups in a bid to end violence in the Puncak Jaya region of West Papua. The region is the scene of an ongoing military sweep operation that has already caused civilian casualties.

The Commission intent to pursue dialogue with armed elements and others was announced by commission deputy chairman Nurkholis who spoke to the media on July 15 following his meeting with the Cendrawasih/XVII Military Regional Commander Maj. Gen. Erfi Triassunu. Nurkholis, added that the Commission would coordinate the dialogue initiative with the Coordinating Legal, Political and Security Affairs Ministry and that the initiative would also engage all local leaders in Puncak Jaya in order to “determine the root of the armed conflict and why it continues to occur and claim victims from both the military and civilian sides.” The role of the military in the dialogue was left unclear.

If the initiative proceeds it could offer a window into the repression and human rights abuse that military sweep operations such as the one currently underway have brought about in the Puncak Jaya in recent decades. Any serious dialogue about violence in Puncak Jaya would require access to the area and to the victims of violence, something that the Indonesian military in the past has always sought to prevent.

Peace Conference Convenes in West Papua – Urges Dialogue with Jakarta

A range of Papuan organizations including religious, customary, women’s, youth, academic, student and resistance groups convened in a “conference for peace” at in Abepura at Cenderawasih University, 5-7 July, 2011.

The conferees issued a statement which emphasized that conflicts should be resolved through peaceful means and identified the following principles:

  1. We declare that dialogue is the best way to finding the solution to the conflict between the Papuan people and the Indonesian Government,
  2. We determine to find the solution to political, security, legal, human rights, economic, environmental and social-cultural issues in Papua by means of dialogue between the Papuan people and the Indonesian Government, mediated by a neutral third party,
  3. We welcome the initiative of the central government in support of the preparatory processes for a Jakarta-Papua dialogue

The conferees also agreed on the qualities of those who should be chosen to represent Papuans in the dialogue with Jakarta and identified a list of five prominent Papuans to play that role.

Those making presentations at the conference on the theme of “Let us together make Papua a ‘Land of Peace’ included:

Djoko Sujanto, Minister-Coordinator for Politics and Law of the Republic of Indonesia

Barnabas Suebu, Governor of the Province of Papua

Bekto Suprapto, Chief of Police of Papua

General Erfi Triassunu, Commander of the Military Command XVII/Cenderawasih

Leo Laba Ladjar, Bishop of the Diocese of Jayapura

Tony Wanggai, Chairman of the Papuan Provincial Branch of NU and representative of the Papua Muslim Council

Sokrates Sofyan Yoman, Chairman of the Synod of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Papua

Forkorus Yaboisembut, Chairman of the Papuan Customary Council

(WPAT Comment: Support for dialogue between Papuans and the Jakarta administration continues to grow. The formula proposed by this conference resembles the dialogue process which brought an end to most fighting in Aceh province, although with Aceh international mediators were key. It is important to keep in mind while that process yielded important agreements, Jakarta has failed to implement some of them, such as a truth commission and a human rights court. The Aceh negotiations offer both positive and negative lessons for a similar process focused on West Papua.)

Road to Freedom” Conference Convenes

In an historic gesture of international support for Papuans right to self-determination, international lawyers and human rights activists are joining Papuans at Oxford in the UK to discuss Papuans’ political future. The meeting, convening on August 2 will be chaired by UK Member of Parliament Andrew Smith, and will include renowned academics as well as academics. Among those scheduled to speak were:

Jennifer Robinson – International human rights lawyer

Powes Parkop – Governor of Port Moresby and the National Capital District, PNG

Benny Wenda – West Papua independence leader in exile (and a leading organizer of the conference)

Frances Raday – expert Member of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

John Saltford – historian and expert on the 1969 Act of Free Choice

Clement Ronawery – Witness to the 1969 Act of Free Choice

Ralph Regenvanu – Vanuatu Justice Minister

Charles Foster – co-founder of the International Lawyers for West Papua

The Mayor of Oxford has agreed to fly the Morning Star flag above Oxford Town Hall on the day of the conference to signal support for the conference and in solidarity with the Papuan peoples struggle.

WPAT will have more on the conference next issue.

Military Commander in West Papua Apologizes for Threatening Papua Kingmi Church

In a remarkable turnabout, the chief of the Indonesian military in West Papua has issued an apology to West Papua’s Kingmi Church in the wake of the leak of a letter which was widely seen as constituting a threat to the Papuan church and its leaders. In a July 18 media statement, West Papua Army commander Major-General Erfi Triassunu, issued a public apology to the leadership and congregation of the Kingmi Papua Church. The General wrote “if I caused any offence to the Kingmi Papua Church I am sorry.”

In the originally “secret” April 30, 2011 letter Triassunu repeats claims made by representatives of Kingmi Indonesia, an Indonesian-wide church, that Kingmi Papua is a separatist organization. Kingmi Papua and Kingmi Indonesia have long been at odds. The general acknowledged in his recent letter that he had weighed into an internal church conflict. In words widely recognized as threatening, Triassunu originally wrote of taking “assertive action.” Triassunu indicated that such action would be forthcoming if Kingmi Papua continued to pursue an independent course from Kingmi Indonesia.

Reverend Benny Giay, a leader of the Kingmi Papua church, said that in the past such aggressive talk by senior military figures often served to signal to nationalist militias to take matters into their own hands.

WPAT Comment: Such military involvement in internal church matters affecting Batak Christians in Sumatra often led to violence. More to the point, Kingmi Papua’s pastors have been killed at the hands of the Indonesian military or their militias.

(see Alex Rayfield’s article in New Matilda for broader coverage of this development.)