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West Papua Report
August 2007


This is the 39th 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.


Indonesian Police and Military Resume Assault on Papuan Church

The Indonesian police resumed its pressure on the independent Papuan "Kingmi Church" with a violent assault on the central church office staged on July 30. Three members of the Kingmi Church in West Papua were hospitalized and two others were wounded in an attack by the Indonesian security forces. Three other Church members were arrested by police and have now been released. In addition, reporting from West Papua to the West Papua Advocacy Team notes recent death threats against two prominent church officials. (As of publication of this report, new reporting from West Papua indicates that security forces continue to either sponsor or permit violence against the Church by its rivals.)

According to eyewitnesses, personnel from the mobile paramilitary police brigade, Brimob, supported by members of the TNI (Indonesian military) forcibly entered the Kingmi Church Synod office and ransacked the offices, smashing windows and damaging church equipment. property.

The police and military actions followed a confrontation between members of the Kingmi Church and a group reportedly from the Indonesian Tabernacle Bible Church who want to gain control of the Kingmi Church assets. The Indonesian Tabernacle Bible Church's claim to Kingmi had been supported by police action, notwithstanding a court verdict in April 2007 that recognized the Kingmi Synod's right to maintain control of its assets in West Papua.

This is the third time that Indonesian police have occupied the Kingmi Church Synod office. Police first occupied the church in December last year, then again in May 2007. Both times they used excessive force to evict pastors and church workers.

The conflict appears to stem from a decision by the Kingmi Church in 2006 to reestablish an independent Synod in West Papua as well as its own advocacy work undertaken in relation to human rights in West Papua.

Paula Makabory from the Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights said "the situation in West Papua appears to be rapidly deteriorating. The Indonesian police and military appear to be taking more repressive action against community-based organizations in West Papua.

"These repressive actions by the security forces follow statements by Col. Siagian and other senior Indonesian military personnel threatening and justifying the use of state violence against civilians, including those engaged in peaceful protest."

"The attack on the Kingmi Church follows threatening action by the police against Rev. Sofyan Yoman, President of the Fellowship of Baptist Churches in West Papua who had a gun pointed at him by Indonesian police on Sunday."

International Call for An End to Unconstitutional Imprisonment of Rights Defenders

The respected UK-Indonesian Human Rights Organization, Tapol, on July 20 issued a public call for the release of Papuan prisoners jailed under Indonesia's "hate-sowing" laws. The laws date back to Indonesia's colonial era and were used extensively by the Soeharto dictatorship to repress dissent. Tapol based its appeal on the July 17 decision of the Indonesian Constitutional Court, which declared the "hate-sowing" laws (articles 154 and 155 of Indonesia's Criminal Code) to be unconstitutional because they violate the freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution.

The Tapol press release observed: "The injustice of using penal provisions to criminalize opposition to Jakarta and criticism of government policy is keenly felt in West Papua." The Tapol appeal noted in particular the continued detention of Papuans Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage who were sentenced to 15 and 10 years imprisonment, respectively, for organizing peaceful celebrations of West Papua's national day and flying the Papuan Morning Star flag on December 1, 2004. They were charged under Article 154 and other provisions.

"The continued detention of the two men should not be tolerated in a democratic country," said Carnel Budiardjo, long-time campaigner for human rights in Indonesia and director of Tapol. Tapol concluded its statement by urging that Indonesian authorities release all prisoners jailed for their peaceful political views and activities and, in the spirit of the Constitutional Court ruling, to review all other outdated penal provisions that violate fundamental freedoms.

(TAPOL's website is .)

Growth of Military-Sponsored Militias Worry Papuan Human Rights Defenders

The Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights (IPAHR) on July 26 issued a statement calling attention to the growth of militias in West Papua under the direction of an Indonesian military officer indicted for crimes against humanity. In its statement IPAHR said:

"The Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights (IPAHR) is extremely concerned at the increasing activity of pro-Indonesian militias in West Papua. That the regional commander Col. Burhanuddin Siagian has publicly threatened 'separatists' in the past few weeks in West Papua is alarming considering that he and other senior military and police are actively meeting with nationalist civilian militias."

In support of its contentions, IPAHR provided reports from its sources in West Papua, which pointed to an increase in meetings by nationalist militia groups throughout West Papua organized by the Indonesian military.

IPAHR noted that pro-Indonesian nationalist and militia groups met on July 6, 2007 at the Military (KOREM 172) Auditorium in Jayapura, West Papua. Col. Siagian, who has been indicted for crimes against humanity in East Timor where he was involved with similar militia groups, reportedly addressed the meeting which was attended by approximately 500 people. IPAHR noted that additional militia meetings followed elsewhere in West Papua over the next three weeks. Siagian recently made public threats against Papuans pressing for their political and other civil rights (see West Papua Report - July 2007 and the final item in this report).

IPAHR and other human rights organizations have drawn attention to the Indonesian military's modus operandi in East Timor and elsewhere in the Indonesian archipelago where it organized, trained and armed militias which were used to terrorize local civilians. These militias have specifically targeted civilians seeking to assert their legitimate rights.

IPAHR concluded its public statement by a warning from Makabory, who said: "These new reports signal that the Indonesian military and police appear to have started a program to actively promote and support militias across West Papua."

In addition to these IPAHR concerns, other Papuan sources report military training operations have been launched in populated areas, causing apprehension among the local people.

"Special Autonomy" Continues to Fail The Papuan People

The Jakarta Post reported on July 28 that an advocacy team of independent NGOs, the Papua Working Group in Jakarta, has concluded that a government-prepared revision of the Papua Special Autonomy Law is insignificant and that Papuan officials still need a solid and transparent plan to prioritize development and channel funds properly. At a July 27 public discussion Papua Working Group in Jakarta member and spokesperson Amiruddin Al Rahab said that prior to designing the blueprint, the government should assess the progress of Papua's autonomy, which is just five-years-old. According to the working group, trillions of rupiah (hundreds of millions of US dollars) have been allocated over five years but that physical developments were scant.

He said the expansion of regencies (districts) in the area added a complexity to the local administration's job. (See following article which notes a severe deterioration of health services as a consequence of new political unit created, which has diluted already thin government services.) "Their aspirations for freedom can be achieved within this republic if they receive adequate educational and health support, including ample stocks of medicine" said Amiruddin.

Separately, Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) coordinator Teten Masduki said that in preventing corruption or solving human rights issues, Papua still needed external assistance. "Local elites have benefited from budget misallocation," he said. Teten called for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to form regional branch offices in Papua in order to address the chronic misallocation problem.

Political Manipulation Blamed for Rapid Deterioration of Health Services

A Tapol press release has highlighted the continuing, rapid deterioration of health services in West Papua and the dire implications for the Papuan people. In Merauke the death rate of mothers in childbirth has risen again. In 2005, the rate was 464 per 1,000,000 births and rose to 499 in 2006. In previous years, the numbers had been declining. In 2001 the figure was 1,071, and 529 in 2003, and fell to 202 in 2004.

The dearth of health services, resulting from a race by the Jakarta government to create new districts that overtaxed limited health services, appears to be the reason for this negative trend. The new districts provide sinecures for pro-Jakarta elites to access new funds flowing through "special autonomy" programs and also provide a basis for the expansion of the Indonesian military presence.

According to Tapol, an official of the Merauke health service said the reason for the increase in deaths among mothers was that many health workers who work in the villages have been transferred to other districts following the creation of more district administrations, resulting in the shortage of staff in the villages. Another reason was that many health workers abandoned their posts. The official said that people had either been transferred or they had left of their own will.

In Biak, anemia is a big problem among pregnant mothers, according to the head of the local health service. It is estimated that between 60 and 70 percent of pregnant women are anemic. He said the reason was that pregnant women were not eating enough nutritious food. This was a danger to the unborn child as well as to the child-bearing woman. He said that the incidence of anemia among pregnant women has increased in the past three years. The condition was caused, he said, by the lack of funds to keep local health centers operating, which means that pregnant women not being properly monitored during their pregnancy. The lack of nutritious food could lead to the child being stillborn and also endangers the life of the mother. The lack of adequate nutritious food for babies and children is also a problem.

Indonesia Slow to Address Explosion of HIV-AIDS in West Papua

An International Herald Tribune report on July 20 noted that Indonesia will increase government funding to fight HIV-AIDS by 75 percent over the next three years, with the major focus on West Papua where the disease is most virulent. The report notes that health authorities believe that a failure to take prompt action in areas like Papua — where infections are 15 times the national average — could result in 1 million people infected with HIV within a few years.

Notwithstanding the far more severe incidence of the disease in West Papua than anywhere else in the archipelago, the Herald Tribune report points out that West Papua receives only four percent of the money budgeted to fight HIV-AIDS.

Failure of Jakarta authorities hitherto to adequately address HIV-AIDS in West Papua is all the more tragic given the level of government health services in West Papua, which ranks at the bottom among Indonesian provinces.

Among the key sources of HIV-AIDS infection in West Papua is prostitution, an industry protected and in some cases organized by the security forces, in particular, by the Indonesian military.

Continuing Calls for Removal of Commander in West Papua Indicted for Crimes Against Humanity

The Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC), a regional solidarity organization that campaigns on issues affecting the peoples of the region, in a July 18 press release expressed its "gravest concern over the continued presence of Col. Burhanuddin Siagian as commander of the Jayapura sub-regional military command (Korem 172) in West Papua. The APSOC appeal was one of many by international human rights organizations in recent weeks (see West Papua Report - July).

The APSOC release observed that "Siagian's presence is not only a threat to legitimate human rights defenders and political activists in West Papua but it is also indicative of the Indonesian government's insincerity in its avowed commitment to justice and the long overdue military reforms." Gus Miclat, the regional coordinator of APSOC, said: "It is beyond comprehension that a government who promised military reforms would appoint an officer indicted twice of crimes against humanity to command a post in Jayapura."

APSOC points out that the U.N.-backed Special Panel for Serious Crimes of Dili, the capital of Timor Leste, indicted Siagian on February 3, 2003 ('the Cailaco indictment) and on July 10, 2003 ('the Maliana indictment'). He is charged for the following crimes against humanity: torture, murder, persecution, and deportation or forcible transfer of a civilian population. The creation of the Bobonaro militia system that became one of the most repressive in the whole of East Timor was also attributed to him.

The concluding paragraphs of the APSOC statement provided important historical context and perspective for the international calls for Siagian's removal and are quoted in their entirety below:

Observers fear that the international community may see a replay of mass slaughter in Papua with the assignment of Siagian in the area. As reported, Siagian last May allegedly threatened to "destroy" anyone who "betrays" Indonesia in response to the Papuan activists who demanded a review of their history. The statement is reminiscent of Col. Siagian's statement in Maliana as military commander of the Bobonaro district of East Timor. As commander of the Bobonaro District Military Command (Kodim 1636), Maliana in pre-independence East Timor, Col. Siagian was quoted to have threatened to kill East Timorese independence supporters, which appeared to have directly led to a number of deaths among Timorese civilians.

To date, Siagian is just one of the military officers accused of serious crimes in East Timor, who continue to serve in important and sensitive positions in the Indonesian military. In 2003, Timbul Silaen was appointed chief of police in Papua despite being indicted on charges arising from his occupation of the same position in East Timor in 1999. For his part, Major-General Adam Damiri, former military commander of the East Timor region, was involved in military operations in Aceh. Last April, Major General Noer Muis, the former military commander in Timor Leste, co-directed the controversial joint military training with the United States.

Reacting to the call by various civil society organizations for Indonesia to extradite Siagian to East Timor, the spokesperson for the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, Dino Kusnadi, told Australian media that the "indictment has no jurisdiction over Indonesia." If this is how the Indonesian government appreciates the situation, it is well to remind them that the charges against Siagian and others are under the jurisdiction of the U.N.-backed Special Panel for Serious Crimes and, therefore, classified as crimes of universal jurisdiction by which no amount of alibi can neither disprove or hide the crime.

It is disheartening to know that Indonesia has displayed its lack of respect for the rule of law and has instead the tendency to perpetuate the cycle of impunity. The litmus test of the Indonesian government's commitment to justice and military reforms is whether it has the political will to recall the highly controversial Siagian from Jayapura and extradite him to East Timor to face trial.

"The Indonesian government must move with dispatch and act on the demands of the Papuans and the international community to recall the highly-controversial Col. Siagian from Jayapura and extradite him to East Timor to face trial," APSOC said, adding that "failure to do so will only expose its insincerity in keeping its promises of military reforms and its avowed commitment to justice."

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