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West Papua Report
June 2007


This is the 37th 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.


Amnesty International 2007 Report Notes Continued Rights Abuse in West Papua

Amnesty International in its 2007 report on Indonesia underlined that rights abuse in West Papua continues. It noted, in particular, the continued extrajudicial executions, torture and other ill-treatment, the excessive sue of force during demonstrations, and harassment of human rights defenders. The report noted that in 2006, at least 21 men were sentenced after "unfair" trials to between four and 15 years imprisonment. It added that "all the detainees were reportedly ill-treated in police detention" and that "lawyers and human rights defenders involved with the trials were subjected to intimidation and received death threats."

The report also detailed that many civilians were arbitrarily killed by security forces and that in some instances, the victims were children.

Indonesian efforts to conceal the on-going abuses in West Papua continue. The Amnesty report observed that "severe restrictions continued to bar nearly all foreign journalists and NGOs from operating in Papua."

Indonesian Government Lobbies U.S. Congress on West Papua

The Indonesian Government has sponsored a delegation to Washington D.C. to lobby the U.S. Congress regarding West Papua, in particular, to convince U.S. representatives that Papuans support the Indonesian Government's "special autonomy" approach to the multiple abuses afflicted on the Papuan population. The group is reportedly arguing that West Papua's only future is as part of Indonesia. The Indonesian State Intelligence Agency, "BIN," which recently hired a U.S. lobby firm to influence the U.S. Congress, is reportedly supporting the delegation.

Franz-Albert Joku, a prominent Papuan is among the delegation members. Joku, although a member of the Papuan Presidium Council, was reportedly not selected by that body to represent the Presidium nor the Papuan people in the delegation.

Papuans, for several years, have been demonstrating in large numbers against "special autonomy," contending that the six-year-old policy has failed to bring about the reforms promised and in fact has tended to tighten the hold on West Papua by the security forces and the non-Papuan minority brought to West Papua by the Government over several decades.

West Papua Governor Admits Vast Corruption in Use of Special Autonomy Funds

A Cenderawasih Post article in late May reported comments by West Papua's new Governor Barnebus Suebu regarding years of misuse of funds provided by the Indonesian Government purportedly to address needs of the Papuan people which have been ignored since Indonesia seized West Papua. The Governor pledged that his administration would re-direct the funds so as to address outstanding humanitarian and developmental needs.

According to Suebu, 90 per cent of the "special autonomy" funds has been used for the bureaucracy. He did not however explain how the money had been spent but previous reports noted that money was directed to migrant-(non-Papuan) controlled sectors of the economy and that the Indonesian military has used significant portions of the cash flow for its expenses.

Governor Suebu pledged that in the future there will be greater focus on conditions at the local level to improve people's welfare including development of natural resources and to generally improve economic circumstances. He said that it would not be possible to end poverty without economic development, and this will require investments. He emphasized the role of the international community in this development and stated he would lobby for the support of international organizations such as UNICEF, UNDP and the ILO. As a start, the Governor pledged to give each kampung Rp. 100 million, which will increase in the coming years.. He also hoped that the nutritional conditions especially of mothers and children in the kampungs would improve.

The Governor's failure to discuss the extensive corruption that has afflicted the disbursement of "Special Autonomy" funds raises questions about how effective his administration will be in ensuring that it will be any more effective in channeling these funds to meet real human need.

Papuan Tribes to Gather for Rare Leadership Gathering

The Papua Tribal Community will gather later in June for the first time since 2002. The gathering of representatives of 245 tribes will bring together over 700 tribal leaders.

Forkorus Yoboisembut, organizing committee chairman, told media that the June 20-24 meeting in Jayapura (Port Numbay), the West Papuan capital, will provide a forum for the highest tribal decisions to be made and for an evaluation of the tribal council's performance. In the last tribal gathering in 2002, the body selected Tom Beanal as the tribal council leader and Leo Imbiri as council secretary.

Indonesian Government Accused of Ignoring Rights Violations in West Papua

Prominent human rights commentator Jayadi Damanik has told the media that the Indonesian government continues to ignore human rights violations in Indonesia and in particular, West Papua. "The government has yet to show a sincere intention to settle a number of human right violation cases in Papua," he contended, emphasizing that government officials fail to refer serious incidents to the country's courts.

In particular, he told state news agency Antara that government investigators have refused to present human rights cases to courts of law on the excuse that the dossiers drawn up by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham) were incomplete. He exposed the excuse as bogus, however, arguing that government investigators never asked the Commission to complete the dossiers and instead shelved the dossiers. Among the cases were murders and shootings in Wasior, Teluk Wondama Gulf, the fatal shooting of three students by the police, brutal attacks on hundreds of other students, one of whom died in police custody, the shooting in Waghete which caused the death of a junior high-school student, and brutalization of civilian residents.

Indonesian Government Failing to Halt Illegal Logging in West Papua

Environmentalists have told Agence France Press and other international media that the Indonesian Government has failed to end illegal logging in West Papua first exposed by an international NGOs in 2006. The environmentalists noted that Indonesia's famously corrupt prosecutorial and justice system has failed to prosecute and punish culprits, many of whom have ties to the Indonesian military and police.

"The problem not only lies with the justice system, but the whole chain of forest management," according to Greenpeace forest campaigner Hapsoro. Hapsoro blamed a weak justice system for the acquittals, but said West Papua's thousands of hectares of forests need to be better managed with tighter security to deter illegal loggers. Even the police admit to becoming increasingly frustrated with the number of illegal loggers who were inexplicably being acquitted in courts. Hadiatmoko noted that seventeen out of 29 cases of illegal logging in Papua have been acquitted and the rest were only given minimum punishments.

Greenpeace has nominated Indonesia in the Guinness World Records in 2008 as having the highest deforestation rate in the world between 2000 and 2005. Much of that deforestation transpired in West Papua, which holds the greatest expanse of virgin rainforest in the Indonesian archipelago.

Regional TNI Commander with Abusive Past Threatens Papuans

The Regional Military Commander of 172/PWY of Papua, Colonel Kav Burhanudin Siagian was reported on 14 May 2007 as saying that he would personally destroy traitors to the Indonesian state. Colonel Siagian stated that the main enemies of the state are those who enjoy the nation's facilities, but who still carry out actions against the stability of the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia. "Traitors like them are the ones that must be destroyed," he said. He added, "If I meet any one who has enjoyed the facilities that belong to the state but who still betrays the nation, I honestly will destroy him."

According to the Regional Military Commander, he was prompted to make the statement because recently there have been individual students or youths who said that they represented certain organizations and who were under the influence of influential leaders in Papua, who tried to raise the issue of the Act of Free Choice. Specifically, they had claimed that the 1969 Act of Free Choice was illegal and therefore, it was necessary that there be a new act of self determination. Siagian concluded, "We should not try to reveal what has happened in the past because this is the time we should think of development in Papua."

Col. Siagian's past indicates that his threats cannot be taken lightly.

A report from human rights organizations in East Timor in April 1999 stated that (then Lt. Col.) Siagian ordered the public execution of five innocent people as revenge killing and ordered the capture and killing of community leaders thought to be pro- independence, which led to a hunting down of civilians and attacks on homes. He was indicted twice in absentia for crimes against humanity by the U.N.-supported Dili Special Panel in 2003.

There is a long history of TNI officers with records of human rights abuse being assigned to West Papua where, with impunity for past crimes, they commit new offenses.

Pressure Grows on Papuan Refugee Settlement in Papua New Guinea

According to report published May 23 in the Vanuatu Daily Post, prominent West Papuan resident in Vanuatu, Dr. Otto Ondawame, has expressed concern over a recent incident in Port Moresby suggesting that the Papua New Guinea government was working in collaboration with the Indonesian Embassy in PNG and pro-special autonomy groups led by France Albert Joku to force the West Papuan refugees in 9-Mile refugee camp to repatriate to West Papua.

According to the report, a military official from the infamous Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) visited the "9-Mile settlement located outside Port Moresby. The Kopassus officer, who arrived in a vehicle bearing diplomatic license plates, was escorted by an official from the PNG police. The unannounced visit reportedly followed an eviction notice delivered to the settlement of refugees from West Papua. Ms. Wallaya Pura, UNHCR Chief in Port Moresby reportedly reacted negatively to the Indonesian military visit to the settlement, commenting that "they shouldn't even think about going there."

Police Increase Pressure on Papuan Church

According to a May 16 Survival International report, the Indonesian police occupied the headquarters of the Indigenous Kingmi Church in Jayapura, West Papua in mid-May. The Kingmi Church has been particularly vocal in its opposition to the Indonesia Government's violation of Papuan human rights. The majority of the Kingmi Church come from the Papuan highlands where the Indonesian military has committed the most serious rights abuses.

The Kingmi Church recently broken away from the Gereja Kemah Injil Indonesia (GKII, The Tabernacle Bible Church of Indonesia) and returned to its original self-governing status. The police have accused the Kingmi Church of supporting the Papuan independence movement. Church leaders in fact have been among the most effective in organizing Papuan protest actions along the lines of non-violence and have worked resolutely for a ceasefire and demilitarization of West Papua.

Six police trucks and a water canon were stationed outside the Church's offices in the mid-May confrontation. At the same time, paramilitary police armed with rifles occupied the roof of the building, and more than 50 policemen were positioned outside.

In response, 200 members of the Kingmi Church protested outside the headquarters, blocking one lane of traffic.

Rev. Benny Giay, chair of the Kingmi Church's Bureau of Justice and Peace, said of an earlier police attack on the church, "the victims of Indonesian brutality are the members of the Church. The Church has the right to stand up for the rights of the people."

*Note: Information from West Papua received as this report was being finalized indicates that Indonesian police have reduced the police presence in the vicinity of the Synod headquarters but have continued to threaten Kingmi Church personnel and support those Synod representatives whom the Indonesian courts have ruled against in the dispute with Kingmi.

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