West Papua Report
This is the
60th in a series
of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is
produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media
accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within
West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action
Network (ETAN) Back issues are posted online at
http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report
can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at
A WPAT member spoke before a U.S. Congressional panel about
threats to the environment and to human rights in West Papua. U.S.-based human
rights groups ETAN and WPAT urged the U.S. Government to move beyond the failed
formula of "special autonomy" to address the growing human rights crisis in West
Papua. Their appeal came in response to Secretary of State Clinton's call at a
Congressional hearing for a "degree of autonomy" for Papuans. April saw a marked
increase in violence and repressive action by security
forces in West Papua. The report offers a brief chronology of the violence.
Several U.S. human rights organizations signed a public letter to leading U.S.
legislators urging an investigation of the violence and U.S. support for an
internationally facilitated dialogue on West Papua. That call echoed a similar
appeal for an investigation of the violence by Papuan church and civil society
leaders. The Indonesian government has expelled the International Committee of
The Red Cross (ICRC) from West Papua. The expulsion came following an ICRC visit
to Papuan political prisoners, though the Indonesian Foreign Ministry maintained
that was not the reason for the expulsion.
West Papua Advocacy Team member spoke before the U.S.
Congressional human rights commission
WPAT's Octo Mote spoke before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
(formerly the Congressional Human Rights Caucus) on April 28. In his remarks he
emphasized the threats to the environment and to human rights in West Papua
posed by Indonesian Government policies and by military-backed exploitation of
Papuan resources by major corporations.
He noted that logging, mining and fishing operations were particularly injurious
and singled out U.S. mining giant Freeport-McMoran as among the most damaging.
Mote explained that Indonesian Government polices, particularly Jakarta's
"transmigration" policy had marginalized the Papuan population, bringing over
500,000 people into West Papua until the program's termination in 1999.
Recently, Jakarta announced the re-establishment of the program. Under Jakarta's
"Special Autonomy" approach, the government has created 24 new Districts, an
approach which has generated "spontaneous migration" of non Papuans into West
Papua to assume newly created bureaucratic positions and to take advantage of
new "development" funding. The creation of the new districts also has increased
the militarization of West Papua as military units are established in each new
Mote emphasized that Papuans have no means to defend themselves against
government-backed encroachment on their lands and rights. He noted that two West
Papuan Governors, Admiral (ret.) Numberi and current Governor Suebu both sought
to limit environmental destruction by commercial "developers" only to be
over-ruled by the Jakarta government. He also explained that the Jakarta
government has largely ignored the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP) which it has
sought to stigmatize as "separatist." The body, which was authorized in 2001
"Special Autonomy" legislation, was established after a delay of four years and
immediately ran afoul of the Jakarta government after it refused to endorse the
division of West Papua into several provinces.
Asked by panel chairman Congressman James McGovern (D-MA)
to comment on Freeport, Mote elaborated that firm's long record of abuse and
close ties to the Indonesian military. Mote urged investigation of the recently
resumed payments by the firm to the military as well as the 2002 murder of two
U.S. and one Indonesian citizen on property controlled by the firm and the
military. Due to obstruction by then TNI territorial commander (now President)
Susilo Yudhoyono, the killings were never fully investigated with initial police
reports of military involvement ignored in subsequent FBI investigations and in
court proceedings which led to the jailing, Mote noted, of several innocent
Mote urged U.S. support for an internationally facilitated dialogue between
Jakarta and Papuans and for opening West Papua to access by international
humanitarian and human rights officials, journalists, researchers and others. He
explained that West Papua is the only region In Indonesia which lacks respect
for the right of freedom of expression and noted that more than 20 Papuans are
currently incarcerated for the attempt to exercise this right.
Joint Statement by West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and East Timor and
Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) on U.S. Policy and West Papua
In an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of
State Clinton spoke about the human rights crisis in West Papua, acknowledging
the "many human rights abuses" there. She emphasized that West Papua was part of
a "sovereign Indonesia," and said West Papua needed support "in its efforts to
have a degree of autonomy within Indonesia."
April 26 joint statement ETAN and WPAT noted that the Indonesian
Government has failed to implement the long-promised "special autonomy" for West
Papua and that as a consequence Papuans have overwhelmingly rejected the
concept. Instead, the statement noted, Papuans have demanded an
internationally-facilitated dialogue with the central government to address key
issues, including demilitarization of West Papua, an end to security-force
intimidation, the release of political prisoners, and the right to
The statement called on the U.S. government to apply meaningful pressure on the
Indonesian government and its security forces to press for an
internationally-facilitated, senior level dialogue between the Indonesian
Government and Papuans, including Papuan civil society. They also called for the
U.S. to seek an end to restrictions that prevent the international community
from monitoring human rights developments and the welfare of Papuans in West
Papua. Finally the statement urged the U.S. government to seek fundamental
reform of the Indonesian security forces by conditioning assistance to the
Indonesian military, Brimob, Indonesia's intelligence agencies on real reform,
human rights accountability and demonstrated respect for people of West Papua.
for full text of statement)
Pre-Election Violence in West Papua
In the period immediately preceding April 13 national Parliamentary
elections there was an explosion of violence in West Papua. Facts associated
with a number of the incidents remain obscure. There is evidence that some of
the violence was provoked by elements with ties to the security forces. There
follows a rough chronology of the major incidents:
(Pre-April context for violence: On 4 December 2008, police used
disproportionate and excessive force against Papuan Kingmi church protestors. On
29 January 2009, police violently dispersed a demonstration calling for local
elections to be held without delay in Nabire. In both cases, police kicked and
beat the demonstrators with rattan sticks and rifle butts. Rubber bullets were
also used, injuring at least four in the first case and five in the second.
Amnesty International is not aware of any investigation into these incidents.)
|Early April rally in Nabire in
support of the ILWP.
April 3 Thousands of Papuans stage a peaceful demonstrations in Jayapura
and Nabire calling for a referendum on Papuans' political future; celebrating
the formation of the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) group and also
demanding the release of Papuan political prisoners. The demonstrations are
organized in part by the National Committee for West Papua which on march 30
established a tent base camp near Nabire for the purpose of organizing the
April 3 Brimob raid the Dewan Adat Papua (DAP) office in Jayapura. During
the raid Police destroy a computer and other equipment and seize a number of
documents. The police claim to have confiscated two firearms from the office.
Police hold 15 people overnight. Some are released the next day and told to
report regularly to police. Facing charges are: Mako Tabuni (also known as Musa
Tabuni), Serafin Diaz, and Yance Motte. The three men will face charges of makar
(subversion), under Article 106 of the Penal Code, for which the maximum penalty
is 20 years imprisonment, and under Article 160 for incitement. They are accused
of pursing the aim of separating part of the territory of Indonesia. Police
chief Bagus Ekodanto claims the men were arrested for their involvement in a
demonstration at several locations in Abepura and outside the provincial
assembly building (DPRP) in Jayapura on 10 March 2009. The men had reportedly
called for a referendum in West Papua and urged Papuans not to vote in the April
9 Parliamentary elections.
April 3 Police arrest two political activists from Jayapura.
April 6 TNI and Brimob raid and destroy a tent base camp of the National
Committee for West Papua at a site just outside Nabire. In the assault, one
Papuan was shot and killed; six Papuans were arrested.
April 6 Brimob open fire on a protest demonstration by hundreds in Nabire
injuring at least seven people. According to local sources, four of the wounded
are taken to the hospital in critical condition, including a 10 year-old student
who was shot as he was returning from school. A police officer is also injured
by an arrow. The approximately 200 demonstrators had called for the boycott of
upcoming parliamentary elections and investigations into past human rights
violations in Papua. They also celebrated the launch of the International
Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) in Guyana in early April 2009.
Amnesty International's Isabelle Arradon noted this is not the first incident in
the town and there should be an independent investigation. "It is the third
demonstration since September 2008 where some demonstrators in Nabire have been
shot by police," she said. "According to the eyewitnesses those six people are
the militias ... from Indonesia's security forces who have used the situation to
trigger conflicts between demonstrators and the police," she said. But the
footage clearly shows uniformed officers working with other men dressed in
civilian clothes. (ASA 21/012/2009, 7 April 2009 "Indonesia: Police Head must
investigate excessive use of force by Nabire Police") AI notes "This is the
third reported incident of such abuses by the Nabire police force since December
2008." WPAT notes there is eye-witness reporting that the violence was
orchestrated by provocateurs employed by the Indonesian military.
April 7 Authorities arrest Markus Haluk, secretary-general of the
Leadership Council of the Association of Students from the Central Highlands, on
charges of spreading information and provocation for calling for a boycott of
the election in Papua.
April 8 at 11pm, rumors circulate that a member of the police force had
been stabbed by an unidentified person near Youfeta Market, Abepura. In
response, the police conduct sweeps along the main roads.
April 8 Bombs explode near a bridge between PNG and West Papua.
Subsequent police statements claimed that this bomb and one found near the
Abepura police station (see below) were both composed of TNT and, the police
contended, therefore indicated a common perpetrator group.
April 8 An explosion and fire at a Biak Refinery kills one person. There
is speculation the incident may have been an accident.
April 8 Three migrant ojek drivers are stabbed to death in Wamena.
April 8-9 Unidentified people numbering possibly up to 100 assault the
Abepura police station. Police shot one of the attackers dead and injured four.
Attackers, according to police, used bows and arrows and "bombs"
April 9 at 2.30am, the Rector's Building at Cendrawasih University
suffers an arson attack by unidentified people. Police conducted sweeps which
result in the arrest of eight students at the Minmin Students Mess, one of whom
sustains gunshot wounds. Damage in the fire is limited to one floor.
April 10 An Avia Star cargo plane carrying election materials crashes in
West Papua killing six government officials.
April 11-12 Fighting erupts at PNG-West Papua border involving TNI and
Papuan resistance fighters. Unconfirmed reports contended that six TNI personnel
and five Papuan fighters are killed. The fighting is centered at the border town
of Wutung (PNG town) and at Batas, the actual border crossing point. One report
contends that Papuan fighters may have shot down a military aircraft, apparently
a helicopter. Other reports claim that Papuans destroyed a bridge. The TNI
torches many houses in the area, leaving hundreds homeless. The border is
reportedly closed as is the Batas market.
April 12 Police claim to find "bombs" near Abepura police station.
April 12 Another migrant ojek driver in Wamena is stabbed to death.
April 14 Media report 38 prisoners escape from a Wamena detention
facility, five are immediately recaptured.
April 14 At 10 PM a fire is reported at Provincial Election Committee
Headquarters in Jayapura. The fire may have been caused by an electoral fault,
though arson is not ruled out. Possibly due to the fire, Jayapura suffers
electrical blackout for two hours. The following day, the police announce that
200 additional police personnel were being brought into West Papua.
April 15 A police convoy in Tingginambut in the Pucak Jaya is attacked.
One policeman is killed and six are wounded. Police blame the attack on the OPM.
Police announce that 80 Brimob personnel will be deployed to the area from
outside of West Papua.
April 16 A fire at the State Junior College in Wamena destroys a lab, a
warehouse and three classrooms.
Groups Call For U.S. Government Action in Context of Escalating
Repression and Violence in West Papua
On April 9, in the wake of escalating repression of human rights and
violence in West Papua, several U.S. groups called on the U.S. Government to
act. Land Is Life, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the
West Papua Advocacy Team wrote to leaders of the House and Senate Foreign
Affairs Committees expressing their deep concern. The groups noted in part that
Indonesian government forces had targeted peaceful protesters and that the
repression followed a series of arrests of dissenters under charges of
"subversion" and "incitement," colonial era laws that had been widely criticized
by human rights organizations. The organizations called for investigations of
the repression and the increased violence, urged the U.S. government to press
Indonesian officials to protect human rights and called on the U.S. government
to press for an internationally facilitated dialogue between senior Indonesian
officials and Papuans, including Papuan civil society leaders. (see
for text of the statement)
Papuan Church Leaders Call for Investigation of Pre-election Violence
Papuan Church land civil society leaders have called for investigations
regarding the identity of perpetrators of a spate of pre-election violence in
West Papua. Their call echoes concerns raised by Papuan and international
observers who cite first-hand accounts of provocateurs with ties to the security
forces as instigating some of the violence, such as in Nabire on April 6.
Similarly, observers were dubious of national police claims that nine bombs
found at three locations were likely the work of Papuan resistance fighters. The
police claimed that all the bombs were composed of TNT and ammonium nitrate but
lacked detonators. It is doubtful that any of the OPM would have access to these
materials in sufficient volume or be able to coordinate placement in all the
locations where the bombs were reportedly discovered. The police contention that
all lacked detonators similarly rang untrue to observers. Other possible
explanations for the bombs include an attempt to manufacture a security crisis
without causing severe death and destruction, an attempt to frame the OPM, or a
combination of these motives.
The Indonesian Government
Expels the International Committee of the Red Cross
from West Papua
The Indonesian government on April 23 expelled the International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) from West Papua. The Indonesian action followed a visit
by ICRC officials to Papuan political prisoners. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson
claimed, however, that the closure of the office was not because of the prisoner
visit but rather was because the ICRC was operating illegally because it did not
have permission to be in West Papua. Citing the ICRC's 1977 and 1987 agreements
with the government, the spokesperson contended that the ICRC was only allowed
to use its Jakarta office as a "regional headquarters" for its work in the
The Foreign Ministry spokesperson added that there was no longer any need for
human rights abuse monitoring in Indonesia.
The Indonesian government in the past has worked closely with the ICRC in West
Papua. The Indonesian military used the ICRC as a go-between in an attempt to
secure release of hostages taken by the armed Papuan resistance in 1996. When
the nearly successful effort foundered over a dispute among senior Indonesian
military and political figures as to who would get credit for a release which
the ICRC had brokered, the Indonesian military, under the leadership of then
General Prabowo, sabotaged the deal. Several Papuans villages were killed in a
botched military raid aimed at freeing the hostages. The hostages subsequently
escaped, except for one who was killed.
The ICRC office in Aceh will also close.