This is the 34th 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
The Associated Press reported that Indonesian police and military
personnel fired on each other on February 13. The incident, which
transpired in West Papua, left one police officer dead. The incident
took place near Mulia, close to where the killing of two soldiers
December 8, 2006 led to extensive military operations that have
displaced thousands of Papuan civilians. Clashes between the
ill-disciplined police and military occur regularly throughout the
Indonesian archipelago, often over competition between illegal
businesses operated by the two security forces including drug
running, prostitution and people trafficking.
This incident raises doubts about military claims that the two
soldiers killed in the December 8 incident were shot by the armed
Papuan resistance. Weapons used in that incident, M-16's, are much
more commonly found in police arsenals than the poorly equipped
Humanitarian Crisis Deepens in the Papuan
The World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEARLC)
is the source of a special update regarding the ongoing crisis
affecting thousands of Papuans driven from their home by Indonesian
military operations in the central highland Puncak Jaya District in
According to the reporting by Elizabeth Kendal, carried in the
Australian News Service (ANS), "an estimated 5000 Papuan villagers
have been forced to flee their homes, gardens and livestock" since
the military offensive began in December 2006. The report continues:
"The military (TNI) has since occupied some 20 vacated villages. It
is the wet season and the displaced, terrorized Papuan families are
walking over mountainous terrain and through jungles without food,
shelter or medical care. Some are reported to have died. There is
great concern another TNI-engineered humanitarian crisis is
unfolding in the highlands of Papua."
The report also notes as background that the incident that
triggered the latest TNI offensive in Puncak Jaya is "highly
suspicious." On December 8, 2006 two Indonesian soldiers were killed
after a banned Papuan Morning Star flag was raised on Kumipaga Hill
in Puncak Jaya. The ANS-carried report notes that "exactly what
transpired is not clear, but there are several signs pointing to
manipulation." It adds that "many experienced observers consider
that the flag may have been set up by the TNI itself" in order to
create a provocation.
Expanding on this perspective, the report continues, "for at
least a decade the TNI has been known to create fake OPM forces. The
OPM is the poorly armed Papuan resistance movement. TNI soldiers
entice illiterate, uneducated village men to be proud 'OPM'
warriors. They arm these fake OPM and send them off to commit crimes
and provocation that then give grounds for the military to retaliate
against the 'separatist and terrorist threat'. The flag raised on
Kumipaga Hill was not a small hand-made one but a full-sized flag,
and the soldiers who interrupted the event were not speared but shot
with a TNI-issue M16 semi-automatic rifle. The TNI, the mobile
brigade police and intelligence operatives were deployed to Puncak
Jaya on December 24, 2006."
The Institute for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (ELSHAM),
West Papua's leading human rights NGO, reports that the displaced
Papuans have been forced to build shelters using foliage and wood,
somewhere near the Yomu river, an area two days' walk from the
nearest town, difficult to reach, and infested with mosquitoes
carrying malaria and dengue fever. The displaced Papuans, fearing
the Indonesian military now occupying the area, reportedly have cut
most of the rope bridges that link the area to the outside world.
The ELSHAM report claims that deaths among the displaced villagers
from hunger and disease have already begun. The plight of the
displaced civilians has been confirmed by local religious leaders,
but denied by the security forces, who publicly describe the reports
Human Rights Watch Documents Plight of
Papuan Political Prisoners
A 42-page February 21 report by Human Rights Watch called on the
government of Indonesia to release 18 Papuans imprisoned for what
the prominent NGO described as "peaceful acts of freedom of
expression and opinion." The report (available in full at http://www.hrw.org/reports/2007/papua0207/)
noted that the detention violates international law and Indonesia’s
international legal obligations.
The report, entitled “Protest and Punishment: Political Prisoners
in Papua," details the Indonesian government's use of criminal law
to punish individuals who peacefully advocate for independence for
West Papua. All of the 18 imprisoned Papuans have been convicted for
"treason" or "spreading hatred against the government." The report
emphasizes that the Papuan prisoners were engaged in nonviolent
activities such as flag-raising, or attendance at peaceful meetings
on self-determination options for Papua.
“Indonesia claims to have become a democracy, but democracies
don’t put people in prison for peaceful expression,” said Brad
Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Real freedom of
expression, assembly and association are still in short supply for
political activists in Papua.”
The report cites several examples of persecution of Papuans. In
June 2000, Linus Hiluka was charged with treason against the state
and spreading hatred for his association with an independence
organization, the Baliem Papua Panel, which is accused of being a
separatist organization trying to destroy Indonesia’s territorial
integrity and commit crimes against the security of the state. At no
point was Hiluka accused of any violent or criminal activity. But he
was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
On May 26, 2005, Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage were found guilty
of rebellion and spreading hatred against the government for the
organization of peaceful celebrations on December 1, 2004 to mark
Papua’s national day. For these acts, they were sentenced to 15
years and 10 years imprisonment, respectively.
Human Rights Watch also pointed out that severe
government-imposed restrictions on access to Papua by foreign human
rights monitors, researchers, U.N. personnel and journalists mean
that it is difficult to identify all such cases or to ascertain the
full extent of the human rights situation in Papua.
“Until Papua is opened fully to scrutiny there will be doubt and
confusion about the extent of abuse there,” said Adams. “As we saw
in Aceh, closed conditions create breeding grounds for unchecked
abuse. If the government has nothing to hide, it should open Papua
to the outside world.”
The report also notes that Indonesian courts in Papua have played
a negative role in decisions regarding cases of treason or spreading
hatred. In almost every single case documented in the report, the
courts handed down sentences harsher than those sought by the
prosecution, notwithstanding that the “offenses” of the defendants
were acts of legitimate peaceful political expression.
“The judiciary isn’t acting independently and isn’t throwing out
cases that are clearly political in nature,” said Adams. “Instead of
upholding individual rights, the courts are being used as a tool in
Human Rights Watch called on the Indonesian government to
immediately release all political prisoners in Papua and to drop any
outstanding charges against individuals awaiting trial. Human Rights
Watch also urged the government to repeal the vague and broad laws
criminalizing the spreading of “hatred” and treason to ensure that
no further prosecutions can take place in violation of international
law. For many years, Human Rights Watch has called for the amendment
of the Indonesian Criminal Code to conform with international law in
order to protect basic freedoms of expression, assembly and
In 2006, Indonesia secured membership in both the United Nations
Human Rights Council and the UN Security Council. It also acceded to
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
These are signs that Indonesia wants to be accepted as a
rights-respecting member of the international community.
“The repression detailed in this report shows Indonesia still has
a long way to go in guaranteeing real protections for basic human
rights,” said Adams. “There is a clear gap between Indonesia’s
international commitments and rhetoric and the reality on the
Reporters Sans Frontieres Criticizes Restrictions on
Reporting in West Papua
A February 1, 2007 report by the international press freedom
advocacy NGO Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without
Borders) was sharply critical of the Indonesian government's
restrictions on press freedom. In addition to condemning a broad new
anti-terror law which gives security forces broad powers, it also
addressed longstanding barriers to monitoring and reporting on
developments in West Papua.
It said in part: "The authorities have refused to lift a ban on
the foreign press from working in Papua, scene of a crackdown on an
independence movement. An Australian TV crew was expelled form the
island and a score of Indonesian journalists have been assaulted by
police in the province."
The two most senior Papuan elected officials told an Indonesian
Parliamentary (DPD) Panel on February 9 that the separatist movement
in West Papua is likely to grow because of the extreme poverty
afflicting Papuans. Papuan Governor Barnebus Suebu and Council (DPRD)
Chairman John Ibo pointed to poverty levels of over 83 percent as
they warned the Regional Representatives Council (DPD)'s Papua
Committee of the implications of these figures in the February 9
Governor Suebu described as "ironic" the fact that Papuans live
in such abject poverty in the midst of tremendous natural wealth -
much of which is exploited by foreign firms. The chairman of the
Council's Committee III, Marhaby Pua, was openly critical of the
central government, commenting that "an overall improvement is
urgently needed in Papua." he added that it was "very important to
accelerate development there to make it a secure, peaceful and
A forum of intellectuals and representatives of the Papuan
community recently was strongly critical of the 2001 "Special
Autonomy" law that was to have given substantial autonomy to the
Papuan people. A February 23 report carried in the Jakarta Post
covered the public forum extensively.
A member of the Jakarta Community for Papua (Pokja), Frans
Maniagasi, observed that the implementation of special autonomy law
was a "mess" since the supporting legal components were yet to be
A researcher from the Center for Political Studies at the
Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Muridan S. Widjojo, said
there was nothing wrong with the special autonomy law but that
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, like his predecessors, has not
acted to implement the law. "It's not the law but the implementation
of the law. A lot of the funding actually went to activities that
would not increase the welfare of the people," he said.
Legislator Simon P. Morin, a Papuan from the Golkar Party faction
in the House of Representatives, said that special autonomy needed a
special instrument for its execution. "These instruments should be
established by the central government to empower special autonomy,"
Simon said. He added that the Papuan people's welfare and education
have not measurably improved since the special autonomy law was
enacted. "People's empowerment is important. Without empowerment and
enforcement from the central government to local offices, the
special autonomy law will not be effective," he added.
Another DPD member, Muridan, added that most of the funding went
to local administration offices and the bureaucracy. "Where is the
funding to improve health clinics and schools or to send teachers to
remote areas? There is just no data to prove that substantial
allocation has happened," he said.
Indonesian President Acknowledges
Inadequate Development in West Papua
According to a Reuters report, President Susilo Bambang Yuhoyono
at a February 16 press conference, acknowledged that
government-sponsored development efforts in West Papua are
inadequate. He also admitted that "Special Autonomy" has been poorly
implemented and the improvements in prosperity levels were slow. The
president promised to issue a "presidential decree" to accelerate
development with funds to flow from both West Papua and the central
government. He said that transport infrastructure would be given
priority but added that significant results were likely only in
"three to five years."
U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Calls
for Action on West Papua
The Jakarta Post, February 17, reported that outgoing U.S.
Ambassador to Indonesia B. Lynn Pascoe publicly called on Indonesia
to respond to the international demands for a resolution to the
Munir case and Papua's problems.
Pascoe, who is about to become the UN's political chief, told a
farewell press briefing in Jakarta that "The issue is really what
you are doing today to resolve these problems."
The Jakarta Post report noted that the assumption of Democratic
Party control in the U.S. Congress as a result of the November 2006
elections empowered leaders in both the House and Senate who wanted
to see Papuans given the right of self-determination.
The Jakarta Post noted in particular that new chairman of the
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global
Environment, Representative Eni Faleomavaega, recently said that "If
you want to talk about fairness, give the people of West Papua the
right of self-determination."
Pascoe said that the U.S. Congress often looked at issues across
the world, and commented on those it thought were not moving or
being fixed fast enough. "Of course, the foreign policy is
made by the president but it doesn't mean that Congress can't push.
They hold money, and they can do serious things on our divided
government. So, I think that the question here really is response,"
Australian Businessman to Fund TV Southeast Asia-Wide
Campaign Backing Rights for Papuans
Radio Australia Asia/Pacific on February 16 broadcast an
interview with an Australian businessman who is funding television
advertisements that will appear throughout Southeast urging Jakarta
to let human rights monitors into West Papua. Interviewed by Papuan
human rights activist Clemens Runawery, the Australian businessman,
Ian Melrose, said that the ads would call on the Australian
government to amend a security treaty signed late in 2006 by the
governments of Australia and Indonesia so that it would include a
human rights clause specifically addressing human rights abuse in
West Papua. The treaty has yet to be ratified by the Australian
The ad campaign was announced at a press conference in Parliament
House in Canberra that was hosted by four Members of Parliament who
were from four different political parties. Melrose noted in
particular that human rights monitoring in West Papua as well as
journalist access to the region were severely restricted by the
Indonesian government. He assessed that with more effective
monitoring and journalist access "the Indonesian military won't want
to be caught out doing the things that it does so well."
Runawery described a "slow process of genocide" as a consequence
of decades of government-sponsored transmigration of non-Papuans to
West Papua. He described the in-migration, whether as a result of
"transmigration policies" or what is purported to be "spontaneous
migration" as being "devastating" to Papuan culture and dignity.