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West Papua Report
July 2007

This is the 38th 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.


U.S. Congressman Eni Faleomavaega Barred from Visiting West Papua

As the July edition of the West Papua Report was being finalized for publication, we learned that the Indonesian government has reneged on its invitation to U.S. Congressman Eni Faleomavaega to visit West Papua. A government spokesperson claimed the visit was canceled over fears that it could provoke riots. The Indonesian government has offered no evidence for this purported concern. In fact Papuans were preparing a warm welcome for this consistent champion of human rights in West Papua.

For over one year the Indonesian government has engaged in a massive international propaganda campaign aimed at convincing critics that its policies in West Papua are benign. Its refusal to allow Congressman Faleomavaega to see the situation for himself speaks volumes about the mendacity of the Indonesian propaganda campaign and about the urgent need for the international community to address the plight of Papuans.

U.S. Congress Demands Indonesian Military Accountability for Human Rights Crimes in West Papua and Elsewhere

On June 22, the U.S. House of Representatives renewed its past statements of concern about human right abuse and corruption in the Indonesian military (TNI). Specifically, it inserted requirements into legislation funding U.S. assistance to the Indonesian military that demand military reform and accountability. Several provisions in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2764) require reporting on progress in these areas prior to the release of certain military assistance funds. The provisions include reporting on the impact of U.S. assistance on Indonesian security forces and any connections between US assistance and human rights violations by these forces.

The bill would cut the administration's request for Foreign Military Finance (FMF) funds nearly in half from $15.7 million to $8 million and would delay the release of $2 million of those funds until the State Department reports on "steps taken by the Government of Indonesia" to prosecute and punish, "in a manner proportional to the crime," members of the Armed Forces who have been credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights; cooperation with "civilian judicial authorities and international efforts to resolve cases of gross violations of human rights in East Timor and elsewhere"; and military reforms "to increase the transparency and accountability of their operations and financial management."

In addition to reflecting the U.S. Congress's exasperation with the continued failure of the Indonesian military to end corruption, submit to civilian direction and end human rights abuses, the U.S. Congress also renewed expressions of concern about developments in West Papua. Among these, the legislation would delay provision of International Military Education and Training (IMET) until the Secretary of State reports on steps taken by Indonesia to "to deny promotion to and to remove from service military officers indicted for serious crimes." This provision reflects growing concern in Congress and elsewhere that Jakarta continues to promote those indicted for war crimes. For example, Colonel Burhanuddin Siagian, regional military commander in West Papua, recently threatened to "destroy" any Papuans seeking their political rights. He has been twice indicted for crimes against humanity by the U.N.-supported serious crimes court in East Timor. The congressional initiative also renewed calls for West Papua to be opened to unimpeded travel by U.N. and diplomatic personnel, journalists, researchers, and non-governmental organization personnel.

The U.S. Senate has yet to take up its version of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill. Before becoming law, any differences between the House and Senate bills must be reconciled.

UN Human Rights Official Visits West Papua And Expresses Concern Over Human Rights There

A June 12 U.N. report described the visit earlier in June of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Hina Jilani, on the situation of human rights defenders in West Papua. The report, issued by the Secretary-General's office, noted that the purpose of the June 5-7 visit was to assess the situation of human rights defenders in the light of the principles set forth in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1998. During the mission, the Special Representative visited Jayapura in West Papua. The visit was important and welcome as Jakarta has heretofore often blocked visits by U.N. and other human rights-focus people to West Papua.

In general, the Special Representative observed that prospects for the promotion of human rights had considerably improved in the recent past. She also, however, observed shortcomings including a lack of interagency cooperation and coordination among institutions created to address human rights concerns. She also described resistance to changing attitudes and institutional culture which has made it difficult for these institutions to make a full commitment to eliminate impunity for human rights violations. She observed that there was "even less commitment to removing impunity for past abuses." In this context, she said she was mindful of the several cases she has communicated to the government in the past six years on which there is still no progress.

The Special Representative was particularly concerned by developments in West Papua on which the June 12 report focused:

"The Special Representative is deeply concerned by the testimonies that she has heard indicating the continuing activities of the police, the military and other security and intelligence agencies that are aimed at harassment and intimidation of defenders or to restrict their access to victims and to sites of human rights violations."

"She found this trend more pronounced in the Province of West Papua. She has heard credible reports of incidents that involve arbitrary detention, torture, harassment through surveillance, interference with the freedom of movement and in defenders' efforts to monitor and investigate human rights violations. She was also informed of cases where human rights defenders were threatened with prosecution by members of the police and the military. It was alleged that when defenders have attempted to register their complaints, this has been denied and the defenders threatened. She is also concerned about complaints that defenders working for the preservation of the environment and the right over land and natural resources frequently receive threats from private actors with powerful economic interest, but are granted no protection by the police. She is particularly disturbed by allegations that when defenders expose abuse of authority or other forms of human rights violations committed by the security apparatus, they are labeled as separatists in order to undermine their credibility. The Special Representative believes that this trend places human rights defenders at greater risk and must be discouraged by the concerned authorities."

"The concerns of the Special Representative regarding the situation of human rights defenders in West Papua persist despite the assurance to her by the Military Commander and the Chief of police in Papua that there was no institutional policy to target defenders. She has recommended improvement in the mechanisms in order to ensure more credible oversight and accountability of police, the military and the intelligence apparatus. She has also recommended the creation of special complaint cells for registering and redressing incidents of harm or threats to human rights defenders."

The Special Representative will present her report on this mission to the United Nations Human Rights Council, and will make detailed recommendations for the consideration of the government. She called for a sustained dialogue with the Indonesian government, and expressed hope that there would be "more uniform progress on the protection of human rights defenders in all parts of the country".

Papuans Rally to Win UN Support for Political Rights

An Agence France Press (AFP) report noted that hundreds of people rallied June 8 in West Papua, to urge the U.N. to press Jakarta to overturn a 1969 referendum that Jakarta uses to justify its annexation of West Papua. The rally transpired during a visit by U.N. envoy Hina Jilani (see separate reports above regarding the U.N. official's visit). The demonstrators called on the U.N. to reconsider the 1969 "Act of Free Choice" in which 1,022 Papuans, chosen by the Indonesian Government and operating under military pressure "voted unanimously" for annexation. Independent international observers, including U.N. monitors, have labeled the act a sham and a fraud as do recently declassified U.S. and U.N. documents.

"We urge the United Nations to accept the Papuan people's aspiration to review the Act of Free Choice," rally organizer Jek Wanggai told AFP by phone. "The United Nations must register Papuan areas as colonized zones and organize an immediate referendum vote," Wanggai said. According to the AFP report, Wanggai said about 900 people took part in the rally in Manokwari, located 500 miles from the provincial capital Jayapura, where U.N. Special Representative Jilani was meeting with officials. Wanggai called on her to meet representatives of his movement while in West Papua. "We no longer believe in the corrupt Indonesian justice system and hope an international court will deal with human rights violations in Papua," he said.

Wanggai's comments and actions place him in danger. A senior Indonesian military official in West Papua who was indicted by the U.N.-supported Special Crimes Unit publicly threatened to "destroy" Papuans who spoke out for their rights, including political rights (see separate report in June edition of the West Papua Report). The following report documents security force pressure on Papuans in the wake of the U.N. official's visit.

Papuans Face Threats and Intimidation in Wake of UN Official's Visit

On June 28 the Asian Human Rights Commission issued an "urgent appeal" on behalf of Papuan human rights defenders who have been targeted by the Indonesian security forces and intelligence units in the wake of a visit by a UN human rights official to West Papua (see above).

In its appeal, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said it received "credible" information of ongoing attacks, intimidation, surveillance and threats, including death threats, against human rights defenders from West Papua, which occurred in mid-June 2007, following their meeting with Ms. Hina Jilani, the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders." The appeal stated that members of the Indonesian military (TNI) appeared to be targeting people who met with Ms. Hina Jilani during her visit. The appeal added that although a formal letter has been issued to the chief of the national police and the regional military commander of Papua province, no action had been taken by the authorities and that the defenders continue to feel threatened while conducting their work.

The appeal cited the following cases:

The first case reported involves two persons: Frederika Korain and priest Perinus Kogoya. They all work for the Peace and Justice Commission for the Diocese of Jayapura (SKP Jayapura). They attended a public hearing with Ms. Hina Jilani in Jakarta on June 7, 2007. They returned to Jayapura on June 8, 2007. Sentani airport, where their plane landed, was being heavily guarded by the police, military and intelligence services, as Ms. Hina Jilani was scheduled to visit Papua. As their vehicle departed Sentani airport they were rammed by a vehicle bearing a police license plate. As a result of the crash, the SKP car was damaged and the passengers were in shock. The SKP driver attempted to stop the car that hit them, at which point two men got out of the car and stated that they were intelligence commanders for the military regional command. The police, who saw the entire incident, allowed them to leave the scene of accident without being questioned. Local groups believe that this incident was no accident, but was for the direct purpose of intimidating the two defenders, notably as they had been being followed by the same car since they had left the airport.

The second case involves Yan Christian Warinussy, the Executive Director of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid (LP3BH) in Manokwari, who has reported that he is under surveillance both at his home and office. On June 8, 2007, Mr. Warinussy met with Ms. Hina Jilani in Jayapura, and he came back to Manokwari on June 9, 2007. Beginning that evening he was placed under surveillance from a vehicle both at home and at his office. Mr. Warinussy requested protection from the Peace Brigade International (PBI) and asked its members to accompany him from Friday June 15, 2007 onwards.

The third case concerns Mr. Albert Rumbekwan, the head of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas Ham) in Papua Province. On June 11, 2007, Albert received a text message stating: "You who are reporting about the human rights situation in Papua are trying to destroy the people. You want evidence of people being killed, I will kill your tribe, your family and your children will become only bones to show that there is only a zone of peace in Papua." On June 14, 2007, Mr. Albert Rumbekwan received five more text messages from the same number, again containing death threats. At around 8am on the same day, unidentified persons parked three cars some 20 meters from Mr. Albert Rumbekwan's office. The perpetrators were shouting, allegedly to get Mr. Albert Rumbekwan to come outside and see them, but he ignored them, as a result of which they remained in the area and monitored his offices until around 4pm. These SMS threats have continued as have surveillance.

The Commission for Disappeared Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has already issued complaint letters concerning the three aforementioned cases to the Chief of Police for the Province of Papua (Kapolda Papua), the Regional Military Commander of Trikora, the Chief of National Police (Kapolri), the Foreign Affairs Minister of Indonesia, and the Head of Komnas HAM in Jakarta. However, no effective action has yet been taken to investigate these incidents.

Papuan Prisoner of Conscience Beaten for Revealing Guards' Criminality

Reliable reporting from inside West Papua indicates that in June, Filep Karma, recognized by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations as a "political prisoner" and prisoner of conscience" was attacked by guards in June as a consequence of his reporting of criminality by local guards.

On June 12, 2007, TOP TV (Papuan Local TV), Cenderawasih Post and Papua Post (newspapers) published Filep Karma's report about violence and extortion which are being committed by Indonesian prison officers. He reported that the prison officers received bribes and stole the prison's tools and equipment which were used by prisoners for training and practical activities. He reported that the prison officers took them and used them as their personal belongings. In addition, he reported a list of names of the prisoners who have bribed prison officers and who are now enjoying freedom outside the prison.

As a result of Filep Karma's report which was published by the media, two prison officers dragged him by the collar of his shirt. As a result of their action his shirt was torn, his feet were injured and both his backbone and his coccyx (tailbone), which was injured when he was arrested in 2004, are now very painful again.

Until the publication of Filep Karma's report, he had twice weekly health checks. Prison authorities ended this practice following publication of the report sourced from Karma.

International Groups Expose Criminal Past of TNI Officer Now Issuing Threats against Papuans

On June 28, at least 30 Papuan, Indonesian and international human rights organizations called attention to the presence in West Papua of a senior Indonesian army officer indicted on crimes against humanity charges in East Timor (now Timor-Leste). The groups underscored that the officer's presence in West Papua endangers human rights defenders and political activists and is a sign of the Indonesian government's lack of commitment to justice and accountability.

In an open letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, the organizations called for Col. Burhanuddin Siagian, commander of the Jayapura sub-regional military command (Korem 172) in Papua, to be withdrawn immediately and suspended from active duty. They urged the Indonesian government to review all evidence against Col. Siagian and other high-level East Timor suspects to determine whether proceedings should be commenced and to extradite to East Timor those indicted by Dili's Special Panel for Serious Crimes.

"It is shocking that a government supposedly committed to military reform and fighting impunity would appoint an indicted officer to a sensitive senior post in Papua." said Paula Makabory, the exiled coordinator of the International Human Rights Campaign for the Papuan rights group, ELSHAM, in a media release on June 28.  "Papuans will continue to have their rights trampled on until the civilian authorities exert control over military behavior and ensure accountability for past abuses," she added.

As reported in the June issue of the West Papua Report, Siagian publicly threatened to "destroy" anyone who "betrays" Indonesia. His threat was targeted at those Papuans demanding their political rights. His statements ominously echoed statements he made when serving as Maliana as military commander of the Bobonaro district of East Timor in 1999. Two indictments issued in 2003 state that he made speeches threatening to kill East Timorese independence supporters and was responsible for the deaths of seven men in April 1999.

The organizations in their letter underscored that Papuans who campaign peacefully are not betraying Indonesia as alleged by Col. Siagian, but simply asserting their right to express their political views. They called upon President Yudhoyono to show his commitment to freedom of expression and support this right.

The organizations concluded their letter as follows: "We are dismayed by Indonesia's lack of respect for the rule of law and its apparent determination to perpetuate a cycle of impunity that encourages military personnel to believe they will escape justice for past and future violations of human rights," said Matthew Jamieson Secretary of the Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights in Australia. "Indonesia has failed to keep its obligations under international law and Indonesian domestic law to prosecute Col Siagian for his alleged crimes."

Indonesian Government in West Papua Replicating Infamous East Timor Strategy

Reliable accounts from West Papua indicate that Indonesian agents are suborning Papuans along the lines of efforts in East Timor a decade ago, aimed at creating pro-Jakarta elements in support of a propaganda campaign. As with militia and pro-Jakarta Timorese, those recruited will wear T-shirts printed with pro-integration logo's. More ominously, Indonesian security officials will train these recruits to "defend" Indonesia against "separatists." Similar militias in East Timor and Aceh were employed by the military and police to terrorize local critics of Jakarta. It is not clear whether these Papuan militias will be armed, although in the past, the Indonesian military had armed migrant-based units, raising communal tensions.

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