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West Papua Report
April 2007

This is the 35th in a series of monthly reports that focus 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 organization.


Update on Puncak Jaya Crisis

Reliable current information about the plight of Papuans who were displaced by the December 2006 and January 2007 military operations in the Mulia - Yamo area of the Punjak Jaya in West Papua indicates the following:

Several thousand IDPs from Yamo subdistrict village remain in life-threatening circumstances. The IDPs have not returned to their homes because of fears for their security posed by both security forces and the armed opposition.

Their urgent need for food and medicine continues to be insufficiently addressed. The population suffers from malaria, yellow fever and other related diseases as well as a lack of food and adequate shelter Malnutrition is exacerbating the spread and severity of disease. Health problems are extensive and deaths among the IDPs arising from their conditions of living continue to mount. Local officials deny that there are outstanding unaddressed needs. Those seeking to monitor the plight of the IDPs or provide assistance continue to face threats and intimidation.

Possible Breakthrough For Papuan Political Rights

For the first time Papuans may be able to field their own candidates for local and national office without vetting them through Jakarta-controlled national party offices. The Cultural Institute of the Papua People's Council (MRP) has given its support for the formation of Papua's first local political party, the Papua People's Awakening Party (PKRP). While there are already indigenous Papuans in the national parliament, as well as provincial and district legislative councils for the 2004-2009 session, their numbers are very small.

MRP Vice Chair Hanna said that the opportunity for Papuans to select Papuan candidates represented a major advance for Papuan political rights. She noted: "So far, there are various groups or people in legislatures who claim to represent the indigenous Papua community but they in reality are unable to voice the aspirations of indigenous Papuans or are just motivated by personal interests so that indigenous Papuans' political rights remain neglected."

While the MRP support for the new party was key to its formation, it is still necessary that the provincial administration issue a special regulation on the political rights of indigenous Papuans so that the PKRP and possibly other local political parties would have a clear, detailed legal standing.

State Department Human Rights Report Inadequately Reflects Context of Human Rights Abuse In West Papua

The U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights observance in Indonesia offered relatively comprehensive coverage of the human rights environment in Indonesia but, relative to its report in 2006, was less candid in its summary descriptions of specific abuses, and unaccountability, particularly with regard to the performance of the Indonesian military (TNI) and police.

The report acknowledged that the military and police remain largely unaccountable for their human rights abuse and other crimes, although the wording appeared to suggest that impunity was more a historical rather than a current concern. The report contended: "The government, in the past, rarely investigated such killings and largely failed to hold soldiers and police accountable for killings and other serious human rights abuses that occurred in past years."

The report itemizes most of the specific instances of human rights abuses in 2006 but fails to address the context in which these abuses occur. Specifically, there is no acknowledgment that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono failed to follow-through on his National Day (August 2006) pledge to give full attention to the problems in West Papua. As in the past, there is no mention of the impact on Papuan human rights, health and the Papuan environment of the massive U.S.-owned Freeport McMoran copper-and gold mine in West Papua. The mine's damage to the welfare of Papuans prompted major demonstrations in March 2006 which led to violent student-security force confrontations. The issues prompting the demonstrations are not acknowledged or described in the State Department report.

The State Department report also fails to note fully the consequences of the Indonesian government's failure to implement the 2001 "Law on Special Autonomy for Papua." This law not only has not been implemented, worse still, specific provisions of the law governing the formation of separate provinces in West Papua have been violated. Mandatory consultations with Papuan institutions pursuant to the carving up of West Papua to form new provinces never took place.

Furthermore, the report ignores the ongoing military buildup in West Papua which runs counter to a broad Papuan campaign to demilitarize the area, and which also proceeds independent of any security justification.

It similarly gives inadequate attention to a fundamental Papuan complaint that the government-engineered "transmigration" has left Papuans severely marginalized in the land they have occupied for thousands of years. The report fails to note that the government has yet to provide compensation for Papuans who were forced off their lands to make way for the new settlers. It also fails to acknowledge that while the Indonesian government claims that the movement of non-Papuans into West Papua is no longer government-sponsored, in fact, government assistance to new "migrants" continues to disadvantage Papuans. The rare outsider who is able to visit West Papua invariably encounters migrants operating government-built market stalls while Papuans are left to sell their wares on blankets spread near the margins of these central markets. Government services are provided largely in urban areas where migrants tend to settle, but are scant or entirely absent in more rural areas where Papuans predominate.

In addition, the feport fails to address the continued detention of 18 Papuans whom Human Rights Watch [HRW] and Amnesty International have identified as "political prisoners." The detention, which the HRW observed in a February 21, 2007 alert [], violated international law, documented how the Indonesian government continues to employ criminal law to punish peaceful protest and non-violent activities such as the raising of the morning star flag which is specifically provided for in the 2001 law on Special Autonomy. The HRW report also contended that in prosecuting cases of lawful protest the Indonesian government is using the courts "as a tool of political repression".

Unexplained "Security Problems" and Confusion Impede District Voting in West Papua

The Jakarta Post reported on March 23 that the March 22 regency elections in Punjak Jaya's Fawi District in West Papua were marred by unexplained "security problems" that prevented at least 27 of 181 polling places from opening. Violent incidents among voters were also reported. In Sorong regency some voters protested after discovering they were not registered to vote. 

Parts of Puncak Jaya have been in chaos following military sweep operations in December 2006 and January 2007 that forced thousands of civilians from their homes. March reports available to the West Papua Advocacy Team indicate the military buildup in the region continues and civilians forced from their villages are in increasingly dire straits due to inadequate food provisions and medical care (see lead article above).

Unrest in Freeport Mine Area Over Employment Discrimination

A Jakarta Post report on March 21 noted that hundreds of Papuans from the Amungme and Kamoro tribes, the largest in the Timika area, staged a rally in front of the Memangkawai Mining Institute office in Timika, the Mimika regency capital, on March 21 to demand that they be given priority for employment in local projects. At least 400 Aumngme and Kamoro jobseekers traveled for the protest from the Mimika capital of Timika to the job-training institutes's office, which acts as a recruitment agency for U.S. copper-gold mining company, Freeport-McMoRan. The demonstrators cited West Papua's 2001 Special Autonomy law which requires that indigenous people be given priority in recruitment.

Leaders of the demonstration said that Freeport-McMoRan have never paid attention to the indigenous people, thereby contributing to unemployment in the region. Another leader of the demonstrator's solidarity group questioned the achievements of the Mimika Manpower and Resettlement Office, which, he said, has disregarded the needs of the Papuan indigenous people. He added, "we want to be involved in development in Mimika regency rather than simply being made development objects."

Nothwithstanding pledges to hire locals, Freeport-McMoRan for decades has encouraged the in-migration of non-Papuans to its mine operations leading to the growth of a very large population of non-Papuan, single males in the Timika area. Indonesian security forces have overseen the development of a lucrative, illegal prostitution industry in the Timika area to cater to these "geographic bachelors." That industry in turn has become a principal vector for HIV-AIDS which has seen an explosive spread in West Papua in recent years.

Papuan Government Representatives Demand Revisions in Freeport Contract

The Papuan daily, the Cendrawasiih Post, reported on March 28 that the Papuan Legislative Assembly (DPRP) has joined the Papuan People's Council (MRP) in calling for the revision of the Contract of Work between the Indonesian government and the U.S.-owned Freeport McMoRan copper and gold mine with a view toward making its terms more beneficial to the Papuan people. They also underscored that given the internationally-recognized human rights concerns posed by Freeport operations, and the damage done to the environment by those operations, the Freeport matter transcends national concerns and rightfully warrants international concern.

The Cendrawasih Post article reported that at a meeting between Pansus Freeport DPRP (Special Committee on Freeport of the DPRP) with experts last December it was agreed that the provincial government should establish a team composed of people from the provincial government, the DPRP and the MRP. Pansus Freeport member Waynang Watori, who described this agreement, elaborated that by setting up a joint team, it would help mobilize forces to press the central government to pursue the revision of the contract. Watori added in April the DPRP Freeport Pansus team contacted U.S. lawyers to seek advice on how to proceed towards the contract's revision.

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