West Papua Report
This is the 32nd in a series of monthly reports that focuses
on developments affecting Papuans. This reporting series is produced
by the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts,
other NGO assessments and analysis and reporting from sources within
West Papua. The West Papua Advocacy Team is a non-profit
FEARS GROW OF NEW MILITARY CAMPAIGN IN
Increasing tension near the town of Mulia in the Punjak Jaya
region of West Papua has raised alarm among human rights activists
that a new military campaign by the Indonesian military,
intelligence operatives and police may be in preparation.
Earlier in December, the Indonesian military reported that two
Indonesian military personal were killed while searching for an
armed resistance, pro-Papuan independence element. The armed element
briefly took over the town of Mulia on December 24 but then withdrew
when it appeared that the Indonesian military would attack the town.
Human rights sources have reported that the Indonesian military
commander for the Nabire region was in Mulia in late December. These
sources also reported the arrival of new military and police forces
in the region, including TNI Battalion 753 from Nabire, Kopassus
(the notorious special forces troops), Brimob (Police Mobile
Brigade) and intelligence units. Human rights defenders in West
Papua also reported that the military build-up has generated
tensions in the region. Sources in West Papua and the region
informed the West Papua Advocacy Team that as Indonesian elements
began mobilizing into Mulia, taking over offices of the local civil
authorities, Papuan civilians began to flee into the jungle.
The purported resistance action was unexpected inasmuch as the
OPM (Free Papua Movement), the broad umbrella organization that has
resisted Indonesian control for decades, has observed a truce in
support of political efforts by Papuan civic leaders to end military
repression and attain self-determination. Some Papuan accounts
indicate collusion between the Indonesian military and the local
armed resistance group in Mulia suggesting possible Indonesian
military involvement in staging provocations that would provide a
rationale for military operations in the area.
Paula Makabory, speaking on behalf of ELSHAM, the most prominent
Papuan human rights organization, described the present situation as
"very tense and dangerous". In a December 28 statement she said: "I
am very concerned that the traditional warriors who are armed with a
few rifles and their traditional weapons, which are bows and arrows
and spears, will be in conflict with the Indonesian army which is
armed with modern weapons. This conflict will cause major casualties
among the local traditional warriors and members of the local
community. The situation is very tense and dangerous."
Historically, the Indonesian military has exploited incidents
such as the reported killing of military personnel as justification
for broad military operations encompassing "sweep" operations
carried out in broad swarths of territory. These campaigns, which
have included extrajudicial killings, torture, the burning of
churches and whole villages, as well as the destruction of livestock
and gardens, have driven civilians into the jungles where they have
no access to food or shelter. In a 2004-2006 military campaign also
in the Punjak Jaya district, thousands of Papuans were displaced and
scores died. In the period 1996-98, the infamous "Mapenduma
campaign" caused even greater suffering among Papuan civilians.
During such military campaigns, already tight restrictions on
access to West Papua by journalists, human rights monitors or
humanitarian assistance providers, are typically made even more
severe. Such restrictions afford the security forces carte blanche
to violate fundamental human rights norms and even Indonesian law.
NEW INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT PRESSURE ON PAPUAN
On December 29, Indonesian authorities occupied a church property
in West Papua's capital Jayapura and assaulted two Christian
pastors, Rev. Seblum Karubya and Rev. Noakh Nawipa. The police
action followed a public accusation by the Indonesian minister of
defense earlier in 2006 that the Christian church in West Papua,
along with international non-government organizations, were
promoting independence in West Papua, associating it with the small
pro-independence "Free Papua Movement," the OPM. The statement by
the senior Indonesian official was viewed by observers as signaling
the official "green light" for a campaign of pressure against the
leading Papuan Christian congregation.
The police withdrew from the office following two days of
peaceful demonstrations by 400 Papuans outside the office but have
since alleged that the church is the "religious arm of the West
Papuan National Liberation Army."
From 1962 to 1983 the Kingmi Church (established by American
missionaries from the Christian and Missionary Alliance) operated
independently in West Papua. In 1983, the Church joined the Gereja
Kemah Injil Indonesia (The Tabernacle Bible Church of Indonesia).
That step was taken in order to ensure that Indonesian authorities
would issue visas for foreign missionaries applying to live in West
Prominent pastor and author Rev. Benny Giay has refuted charges
that the Church has aligned itself with the pro-independence
fighters in West Papua and has explained the church's disaffiliation
from the Jakarta central church as a practical step: "When foreign
missionaries stopped coming to West Papua we decided that there was
no reason to remain under the control of Jakarta. In our congress
this year we withdrew our membership from the Gereja Kemah Injil
Indonesia and reinstated the Kingmi Church's former status as an
independent Synod in West Papua. Jakarta opposes this and accuses us
of being separatists" says Pastor Giay. He has specifically rejected
police claims that the Church, which has engaged in peaceful efforts
to protect human rights in West Papua, has ties to armed elements in
Jason MacLeod from the Institute of Papuan Advocacy and Human
Rights (IPAHR) says that the accusation by Jakarta is ominous. "The
label 'OPM' is used by the police to silence debate and stigmatize
West Papuans on the basis of ethnicity in order to justify
repressive security operations. Church leaders in West Papua who
speak out for peace and justice are regularly subject to
surveillance and intimidation by the security forces."
Pastor Giay, author of numerous books about politics and
religious movements in West Papua, holds a PhD from Leiden
University in the Netherlands and is well known internationally for
his human rights advocacy. He is calling on his international
networks to encourage Jakarta to support the right of the Kingmi
Church to run their own affairs free of government interference and
FREEPORT UNDER RENEWED PRESSURE TO COME
Reuters reported in early December that New York City Comptroller
William Thompson, in his capacity as overseer of New York City's
pension funds, has called for a review of Freeport-McMoRan Copper &
Gold Inc.'s environmental policies and practices in Indonesia.
Freeport operates the largest copper and gold mine in the world. It
was opened 40 years ago in West Papua, preceding Indonesia's formal
annexation of West Papua in 1969 but was nonetheless opened and
operated under Indonesian auspices.
The comptroller cited reports that Freeport-McMoRan dumps nearly
230,000 tons of waste, including toxic metals, into Indonesia's
river system daily. In addition to long-standing claims by reputable
environmental organizations regarding the mine's devastating impact
on the local environment, Indonesia's Minister of the Environment in
March 2006 accused Freeport of violating water quality regulations.
In that same month, a landslide associated with mining in Grasberg
killed three people and injured dozens more.
"Freeport McMoRan's poor environmental record needs to be
examined," Thompson said in a statement. "The least the company can
do is ensure that it is not causing environmental damage to the
rivers and in any way harming the people of Indonesia."
The New York City pension fund holds 544,458 Freeport shares
worth about $33.6 million. The Pension fund is pressing Freeport to
review its environmental practices in Indonesia and will reportedly
raise the issue at the 2007 Freeport shareholders meeting. Thompson
called for a report to shareholders from that study by next
Thompson earlier in 2006 asked the U.S. Justice Department to
investigate if Freeport payments to the Indonesian military violated
the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Thompson also asked the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission to review Freeport's 2004 and
2005 proxies to determine whether they made misleading statements
about those payments.
Freeport also stands accused by both Indonesian and international
human rights organizations of complicity in the Indonesian
military's widely documented human rights abuse targeting Papuans.
That complicity includes Freeport reported material support of
Indonesian military operations that have led to the burning of
villages and forced evacuation of Papuans to remote jungle areas
where they have died as a consequence of the unavailability of food
COMMENTARY: ACEH PEACE AGREEMENT A
MODEL FOR WEST PAPUA?
The transition from war to peace in Aceh and the emergence,
through a transparent democratic process, of a genuinely Acehnese
leadership inevitably raises speculation that a similar bargain
between Jakarta and Jayapura might end or at least reduce the
tragedy that has engulfed West Papua since its forceful annexation
by Indonesia four decades ago.
The bargain in Aceh entailed a willingness by the armed Acehnese
resistance (GAM) to set aside its demands for independence and to
surrender its arms. In exchange, Jakarta agreed to remove military
forces not organic to Aceh and to allow, for the first time, local
political parties to form and contest elections. The victory of a
former GAM commander in the December 2006 gubernatorial elections,
made possible by the Helsinki agreement, was generally welcomed by
the Acehenese. The prospect of further gains by Aceh-based parties
in the 2009 parliamentary elections suggests the possibility that
Aceh may come to enjoy an "autonomy" designed not in Jakarta but in
Could such a plan work for West Papua? Clearly there are
important differences. Many observers believe that the 2004 tsunami
was critical in bringing international attention to Aceh, which in
turn, served to nourish and protect the peace process and midwife
the successful GAM-Jakarta negotiations. Unfortunately, West Papua
remains behind an opaque curtain, first drawn across the land by
Indonesia when it took effective control of West Papua in 1963.
Behind that curtain, the Indonesian military has committed crimes
against humanity with the death of scores of thousands of Papuans,
the rape of Papuan natural resources, as well as the repression of
political, social, economic, religious and cultural rights.
Moreover, the Papuan armed resistance, the small, ill-armed and
loosely-organized Papuan pro-independence force, OPM (Free Papua
Movement) does not constitute the military challenge to the
Indonesian military that the GAM did. Its capacity to bloody the
Indonesian military is limited. Many argue in fact that its
existence serves the Indonesian military's interests insofar as it
functions as a justification for the Indonesian military's presence,
thereby enabling the military to conduct broad-ranging legal and
illegal businesses, extort legitimate businesses, and obtain
promotions and extra "combat" pay.
The OPM generally has observed a self-imposed truce, in support
of efforts by Papua's civil society to secure a demilitarization of
West Papua and launch a serious dialogue with Jakarta about West
In addition, Jakarta's hapless administration of West Papua has
left Papuans with a vastly inadequate infrastructure, abysmal health
and education services, and a largely untrained administrative
cadre. Any genuinely Papuan chosen administration would face great
odds in meeting even basic human needs, even if the long-promised
funding under broken promises of autonomy were to begin to flow
through uncorrupted channels.
On the other hand, West Papua would clearly benefit from a
reduction of the egregious Indonesian military presence Papuans also
aspire to meaningful Papuan input on such crucial policy questions
as in-migration (regarded as transmigration under another name) and
transparent, uncorrupted administration of central government funds.
Papuan control over the development of Papuan resources is a basic
demand and right long denied the Papuan people.
Any serious, senior-level discussion of such a grand bargain
would, as in Aceh, probably require a Papuan abandonment or at least
deferment of aspirations for independence. But such a Papuan
sacrifice should not be the price for opening such wide-ranging
negotiations with Jakarta. Rather, it should be the ultimate Papuan
concession in exchange for a comprehensive deal incorporating the
full range of Papuans' other aspirations.
Finally, as in Aceh, any improvement in the plight of Papuans
would not be possible without strong, public and insistent
international demands for justice for Papuans. International
engagement in that process, as in its central role in brokering the
Aceh bargain, would also be a sine qua non for any just and
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