etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer


West Papua Report
October 2007

This is the 41st 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. 

Pressure on Human Rights Defenders Continues/Intensifies
Reports from reliable sources in West Papua indicate that pressure on Papuan human rights defenders continues.  A September Amnesty International alert raised concern about Johanes Djonga, a human rights activist and church pastor.  According to the AI report, a military commander and his men have reportedly threatened to kill Pastor Johanes Djonga for his activism in defense of the human rights. Amnesty International believes his life could be in danger.
The AI report notes:  "The commander of the Army Special Forces (Kopassus) in Waris district, Papua province, Lettu Usman, and the soldiers under his command, allegedly threatened to kill Johanes Djonga and bury him in a 700-meter-deep gorge, on 22 August. They accused him of making false allegations about the situation in Waris district to local and international NGOs, and of being a provokator (provocateur) who was betraying the Indonesian state. A Kopassus military officer has also alleged on September 16 that Johanes Djonga is involved in illegal logging and food business. This appears to arise from Johanes Djonga's human rights activism: he recently presented a report to the governor of Papua and the military commander in the city of Jayapura, Colonel Burhanuddin Siagian, criticizing the actions of the military at the border between Waris and Papua New Guinea.
On September 18, Johanes Djonga reported the death threats to the head of Papua Police. The police commander explained that if the person threatening him was a soldier, there was nothing the police could do to protect him. Johanes Djonga then reported the threats to the Chief of Military Regional Command in Papua province: he reportedly said he would take action, but would sue Johanes Djonga for defamation if his accusations turned out to be false.
In addition to these pressures, in September, members of the human rights community and Alberth Rumbekwan, head of Komnas HAM Papua (Komisi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia, National Commission for Human Rights), continued to receive anonymous text messages and telephone calls that insult them or accuse them of supporting the separatist movement.  A September 27 article in the Indonesian daily "Kompas" concluded that intimidation of a leading Papuan human rights representative "could tarnish Indonesia's image."  Specifically, the article asserts that "(t)he terrorization of the Papuan chief representative of the National Human Rights Commission or Komnas HAM, Albert Rumbekwan, could have an impact on Indonesia's image as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. (Indonesia is also a member of the UN Security Council.) Amnesty International has pressed the matter with President Susilo Bambang Yuhoyono. The intimidation of Rumbekwan began after he met with Hina Jilani, the Special Representative to the United Nations General Secretary.
Yan Christian Warinussy, a prominent international human rights laureate, also has been the target of threats which has prompted international concern and calls for his protecton.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights (IPAHR) on September 28 reported an incident involving psychological intimidation and abuse of a family member of a prominent West Papuan leader by "unknown persons." Targeted was the 17-year-old daughter of prominent West Papuan Independence leader, Edison Waromi.  Ms. Yane Waromi was abducted, sedated and abused over an 18-hour period on September 25-26.  Ms. Waromi provided Human Rights workers with details of an abduction involving a group of 10 "unknown persons" believed to be linked to the Indonesian intelligence service or military.  Human rights workers are viewing the incident as an act of deliberate intimidation by security forces directed at Mr. Edison Waromi and other leaders of the West Papuan community.  Human rights workers say that although the incident has been reported to the police in Jayapura, they appear unwilling to properly investigate the incident.
Edison Waromi is President of West Papua National Authority, a pro-independence group. In recent months, he is reported to have been sent SMS messages that he is on a black list to be kidnapped and killed. Human rights workers in West Papua report that since the visit of the UN representative, Ms. Jilani, in June and the unsuccessful visit of US congressman Eni Faleomavega in July, there has been an increased intensity of incidents involving threats and intimidation of human rights workers, human rights lawyers, clergy, students, and pro-independence political leaders.
Human rights workers from the most of the regional centers in West Papua describe a deteriorating human rights environment.  There are also reports of increased troop numbers in many areas and, from the remote Puncak Jaya region, accounts of further deaths associated with the operations by security forces.
Papuan Civil Society Seeks Fundamental Dialogue with Indonesian Central Government

A broad cross section of Papuan civil society and pro-Independence groups has publicly appealed to the Indonesian central government to engage with it in a fundamental dialogue about a range of issues including Papuan self-determination. The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL), an umbrella organisation, has written to Indonesia's president, and asked for negotiations with the government to be supervised by an internationally-recognised mediator.

The Papuan initiative includes Papuan women's groups, student groups as well as the Papuan Presidium Council, the traditional tribal council and West Papua's most prominent human rights organization, ELSHAM.  Among over 20 groups represented is the TPN PB, the small but persistant pro-independence resistance organization.  Paula Makabory also with Els-Ham and Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights is acting as spokesperson for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation.  In a public statement, Makaboury said that Finland, which helped broker a peace agreement between Indonesia's government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Aceh in 2005, was willing to mediate the dialogue.
The dialogue would have as one goal the removal of Indonesian troops from West Papua, a goal long sought under the "Papua Land of Peace" initiative.  The dialogue also would seek to allow Papuans to form political parties and have greater control over policy regarding West Papua's enormous resources.  This concern is a growing one as the central government presses for destruction of vast stretches of Papuan forests to establish palm oil plantations.
Extreme Poverty in Indonesia's Treasure-House Province
The Jakarta Post on September 26 reported that more than half of the population of Mimika Regency (District) in southern West Papua live in poverty.  For many decades, West Papua has been the source of enormous riches for Jakarta's military and civilian elite who have "developed" the region's vast natural resources, often with devastating consequences for the Papuan people and the environment.  The Jakarta Post article makes clear that those riches, including those from the Freeport Gold mine in the district, continue to be hoarded by the Indonesian elites with little benefit to the local people.
The Post article author, Markus Makur, notes that in addition to life below the poverty line, the same proportion of the population lack access to health care, education, proper clothing and food.  Mimika Statistics Agency (BPS) head Amin Nazar explained to Makur that as many as 28,000 of the 45,000 families in Mimika are poor and that the number of impoverished is growing. Complicating life for the poor, many public schools are virtually closed with government teachers abandoning the schools for months at a time.
Most of the regency population is in rural areas where Papuan (non-migrant) populations predominate and where the problems of poverty and lack of services are most acute.
The Post article identifies many government programs purportedly on the drawing boards to address poverty and the dearth of essential services afflicting Papuans throughout West Papua, but Papuans, who have heard such promises for decades following Jakarta's coercive annexation of West Papua in 1963 are understandably dubious.
The BBC, in its Unrelenting Extreme Poverty in West Papua's Central Highlands report in September which focused on the establishment of a radio station in West Papua's Central Highlands, provides a glimpse into the hardships faced by the people where the only change wrought by over four decades of Jakarta rule has been exposure to the brutality of the Indonesian military. The report, while focusing on a positive development, the inauguration of a radio link and related setting up of a small hydro-electric plant, is a rare peek behind the screen maintained by Jakarta authorities that obscures the suffering of many Papuans.
Excerpts from BBC Jakarta correspondent Lucy Williamson's report below focus on the rarely reported suffering of rural Papuans follow:
Eight hours flying time from the Indonesian capital, the Central Highlands in Indonesia's Papua province are among the least visited places in the world. Life here bears little relation to the chaos of Jakarta's skyscrapers and toll roads. In villages like this, there are usually no permanent roads, no electricity and no phones.  Foreign journalists need a permit to travel here. Getting information into - and out of - areas like this has not been easy.
Promises of development have often gone unfulfilled here and many local people are angry at what they see as neglect from the central government in Jakarta. Papua generates large amounts of money thanks to its vast natural resources, but the region remains desperately under-developed.  This is an area where most people live in traditional thatch huts, and rely on wood fires to keep warm and cook food.  This is an area so cut off and under-developed that there is neither much money nor much day-to-day value in having it. Most people are subsistence farmers and the community is built on a pig economy.  Several people wear traditional dress here, but others - especially children - wear Western-style T-shirts. One man, dressed in a traditional penis gourd, head-dress and beads, told me he was tired of sleeping on the ground in his hut and wanted a modern house and proper roads. "When that happens," he said, "I'll change the clothes I wear and wear T-shirts instead."
For many years, areas like this in the Central Highlands have witnessed clashes between the Indonesian military and a small band of fighters demanding independence for Papua. Local people allege the military and police continue to commit human rights abuses. Human rights groups have testimonies of extra-judicial killings, rapes and torture.
WPAT Member's Visit To West Papua Highlights Disturbing Events/Trends
A member of the West Papua Advocacy Team visited West Papua in September and reports on events and trends there that indicate a worsening human rights environment.  Papuan civil society leaders are deeply concerned about mysterious deaths of over 30 Papuans who have succumbed to beatings and shootings.  In addition, there have been over 50 Papuans who have died as a consequence of consuming food sold at stalls operated by transmigrants.
"Development," as it has come to West Papua follows a Jakarta strategy that is morally corrupt.  Migrants are expanding their control of the local economy with continuing marginalization of Papuans.  International development assistance to Papuan dominated areas, such as the highlands, is constrained by groundless rumors that the highland Papuans dislike foreigners and that they present unexplained "dangers."
The WPAT visitor noted significant religious changes in West Papua compared with earlier visits.  As the WPAT member arrived in West Papua, 20 individuals who appeared to be Saudi, wearing white robes disembarked from a Batavia flight.  There are now 29 mosques and Sentani which is the new headquarters of the capital district.  Also in Sentani officials are organizing several large transmigrant communities.
Papua Legislator Calls For Revision Of Contract With Freeport
The Deputy Chairman of the Papua Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) Papua Jan Ayomi has publicly called upon President Yudhoyono to revise the working contract with the giant copper and gold firm PT. Freeport.  Ayomi argues that the existing contract is no longer in accordance with the current developments especially with the implementation of the special autonomy of Papua.
A September 19 Asia Pulse/Antara article quoted Ayomi as claiming that the existing contract disadvantages the nation "and the Papua people in particular."  He contended that PT Freeport's assistance to the Papuan people has been insufficient, particularly considering the vast wealth derived for the firm (and the central government) from Papuan gold, silver and copper since the mine was opened in 1967.
TNI to Expand Presence in West Papua
A September 17 report carried in the Jakarta Post has raised again plans by the TNI to substantially expand its presence in West Papua.  The report notes that the Army has (re)proposed establishing a third infantry division from the Strategic Reserves Command, or Kostrad, purportedly to patrol Papua border areas.  Army Chief of Staff Gen. Djoko Santoso is quoted as acknowledging the expansion plan was first proposed in the early 1980s, but was never realized due to budget constraints.  Similar plans for an expansion of TNI in West Papua also surfaced in 2005-2006 but were denied in an Spring 2007 meeting between Defense Minister Sudarsono and human rights groups in Washington, DC.
Santoso now claims that the Army expects to establish the third division in West Papua by 2014.  Currently, Kostrad has two infantry divisions -- in Cilodong.  One Parliamentarian cited in the article said that the Indonesian House would have no problem with the Army's plan as long as it was approved by the Defense Ministry and the ministry allotted the necessary budget to fund the expansion.  Defense Ministry approval is widely seen as a foregone conclusion as civilian control of the Indonesian military remains a long-sought goal and not a fact.  The Parliamentarian raised old ghosts in defending the plan, claiming that "... Papua is prone to conflict and separatism. So, we need to build a stronger defense system by expanding our forces for the sake of sovereignty."
The contradiction between the TNI's justification for the expansion, i.e., border protection, presumably from a threat from Papua New Guinea (sic) and the need to address separatist pressure is not addressed in the Jakarta Post report.

Important New Collection of Papuan Papers Announced

Eva-Lotta Hedman of the Oxford Refugee Studies Center has completed editing a collection of papers on the situation in West Papua. The
contributions include:
"Papua: the last frontier for democratization, demilitarization and
decentralization in Indonesia" by Eva-Lotta E. Hedman

"Papuan and Indonesian nationalisms: Can they be reconciled?" by  Jacques

"Refuge, displacement and dispossession: responses to Indonesian rule and
conflict in Papua" by Richard Chauvel

"Representations of violence, conflict, and displacement in West Papua" by

Stuart Kirsch

"West Papua: the flawed integration into Indonesia"

 by Liem Soei Liong
The papers can be found in the RSC website; the direct link is:

Back issues of West Papua Report

Support ETAN's Work for Justice!

"I’ve long admired ETAN’s work. For well over a decade, ETAN has conducted some of the most effective  grassroots campaigns I know. With limited resources, they helped free a nation and fundamentally changed policy toward one of the U.S.’s closest and most repressive allies, Indonesia."  —Amy Goodman, host of “Democracy Now!

Make a monthly pledge via credit card
 click here

subscribe to ETAN's news listserv on East Timor (it's free)





make a pledge via credit card here

Bookmark and Share

Background | Take Action | News | Links | What You Can Do | Resources  | Contact

ETAN Store | Estafeta | ImagesHome | Timor Postings | Search | Site Index |