The TNI has pursued
tactics of intimidation, often terrorizing and
uprooting local populations to clear the way for
logging or other land use in service of its
businesses or those of clients.
TNI Misses Deadline
to Divest Its Business Empire Much of Which Is in West
The Indonesian military (TNI) has evaded what the
Wall Street Journal on October 17 described
as a "long-anticipated deadline to withdraw from its
many lucrative but controversial business activities."
The legal mandate on the TNI to divest derives from a
legal obligation imposed by the Indonesian parliament in
2004. Many of those TNI businesses are illegal, as
detailed in a 2006 Human Rights Watch report, and many
are centered in West Papua. They range from mining and
logging, to extortion and prostitution, the latter
extending to people trafficking.
Emphasizing the West Papua angle, the Wall Street
Journal article noted that in 2005, President
Yudhoyono ordered a "crackdown" on illegal logging in
Indonesia's remote Papua province. The Journal
elaborated, however, that while 186 people were arrested
"only a handful of people were convicted, all of them
low-level operators, and the suspected ringleaders,
including a military police officer suspected of
involvement, were acquitted."
In furtherance of these activities, particularly in West
Papua, the TNI has pursued tactics of intimidation,
often terrorizing and uprooting local populations to
clear the way for logging or other land use in service
of its businesses or those of clients.
As the deadline for closure of the TNI business empire
approached, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued a
decree ordering the armed forces to transfer its
official foundations and cooperatives, valued at over
$240 million, to Indonesia's civilian-led Defense
Ministry, which is to operate them and receive any
profits. But his decree failed to set a date for this
turnover. Moreover, the Defense Ministry, while
civilian-led, is dominated by active-duty or retired
military leaders. In October 2008, a Government task
force recommended that the state sell or liquidate the
TNI. The task force recommended that by bringing the
assets under civilian control the Government could
demonstrate its commitment to real military reform and
the principle of civilian control of the military. The
Chairman of that task force has expressed his
disappointment with the new Yudhoyono decree.
Continuing Attacks at
Freeport Point to Injustice of July Arrests
The injustice of arrests of Papuans in July, purportedly
for attacks on Freeport personnel, was underscored since
then by a continuation of those attacks. Despite police
arrest of seven Papuans in July, two more Freeport
personnel and one solider were wounded in attacks in
October as they travelled on the road connecting Timika
and the mine site at Tembagapura. Such attacks have
continued every few weeks since the July arrests.
The authorities had
arrested dozens of local Papuans in July,
purportedly because of their involvement in the
shootings. The incidents have nonetheless
Media reports noted that two miners were
wounded October 20 when three security-escorted buses
were ambushed between mile 41 and mile 42 of a road
leading to the Grasberg mine, the world's largest gold
and copper mine. In addition a soldier was wounded when
a joint patrol unit was ambushed by gunmen in Kali Kopi
on the Timika-Tembagapura road on October 21.
As pointed out in an article in an October 23 Bintang
Papua, the shooting incidents have taken place
within a relatively small area in which as many as 1,320
Indonesian security personnel have been deployed.
Moreover, the TNI and police have established joint
command posts along the Timika-Tembagapura road on which
the attacks are taking place.
Anastasia Tegeke, a member of Commission A of the
DPRP-Mimika, noted that the authorities had arrested
dozens of local Papuans in July, purportedly because of
their involvement in the shootings. The incidents have
nonetheless continued. Drawing attention to the failure
of the beefed-up security forces to stop the incidents,
Tegeke added: "many thousands of personnel were now
operating in the area, using much of the money that has
been allocated to development in the region." His
comment added to speculation that the chronic security
problem served to provide extra income to the extra
Indonesian security forces deployed to the region.
Meanwhile, local Papuan resistance leader Kelly Kwalik
in a meeting with State security officials categorically
denied that Papuan pro-independence fighters were behind
the attacks. His denial of responsibility has been
supported by police officials who have countered initial
claims by military officials that the attacks were the
work of the pro-independence fighters.
Also during the third week of October there was growing
popular anger at Freeport as families of Papuan workers
at Freeport demonstrated to demand better security for
workers. They marched to the Regional Legislative
Council office in Mimika and staged a rally. Although
the police declared the demonstration illegal, they
refrained from making arrests when the Council agreed to
meet with the demonstrators. Some workers reportedly
have decided to strike Freeport operations pending
provision of adequate security.
Local Papuans Proceed with
Lawsuit against Freeport McMoran
At an October 7 press conference in Jakarta, Titus
Natkime, a lawyer representing the Amungme people
announced the initiation of their lawsuit against the
U.S.-based goldmine firm Freeport-McMoran. According to
Natkime, the Amungme tribe is suing PT Freeport
Indonesia for USD 30 billion, claiming environmental
destruction and violation of land rights (USD 20
billion) and violation of human rights (USD 10 billion).
Natkime claimed that Freeport operations have damaged
the environment and that the Amungme people have been
subject to discrimination, including physical abuse by
Freeport security personnel. The launch of the suit
follows what Natkime described as the failure of
Freeport to engage in mediation talks mandated by
earlier Indonesian court action.
In addition the lawsuit, on 15 September the tribe
submitted a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) calling on the SEC to suspend trading
of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. shares until the
judicial process is finalized.
Indonesia Friends of the Earth, which sponsored the
October 7 press conference, noted that Freeport mines up
to 10 million tons annually, and has dumped around 2.5
billion tons of toxic tailing in the region. The
tailings have completely inundated the Ajkwa river
system. Tailings have even extended to the shores of the
Arafura sea where tidal action is now inundating and
killing shore vegetation.
In the late 1990's an Amungme lawsuit against Freeport
was scuttled in part because Indonesian authorities,
with the knowledge of the U.S. Government, prevented the
U.S. citizen lawyer from travelling into Indonesia to
meet with his Amungme clients according to a former U.S.
diplomat who worked at the Embassy.
Papuan Democratic Activists
Continue to Face Pressure
Two young Papuan democratic activists were targeted in
October for their political activism. One, Victor Yeimo,
was involved in peaceful demonstrations welcoming the
formation of the International Parliamentarians for West
Papua in October 2008. Meanwhile, Yoab Syatfle has gone
into hiding following repeated death threats.
Yeimo's fate may well be that of Papuan activists
Buchtar Tabuni and Sebby Sambom, who also were involved
in the October 2008 welcoming of the formation of the
International Parliamentarians for West Papua. They
currently are serving sentences of three years in
Abepura prison. Security authorities indicated Yeimo may
also be involved in additional incidents in 2009. Public
relations police officer, Agus Rianto told the media
that in addition to the October 2008 demonstration,
Yeimo could also face charges for an attack on the
Abepura police command post in April 2009. The
authorities indicated that Yeimo might face charges of
treason as well as "incitement." The treason charges
would be filed under Article 106 of the Criminal Code
which carries a possible sentence of twenty years to
life. Article 106 dates to the colonial era and was
regularly employed by Dictator Suharto against his
Amnesty concludes that Syatfle was targeted
"because he is a prominent peaceful political
activist in Papua."
Amnesty International, on October 28, issued an "Action
Alert" warning that "the
life of Yoab Syatfle could be in danger." The Alert
explained that on 26 October Syatfle received six
anonymous SMS messages threatening that he would be
abducted and killed if he left his house. One of them
warned: "you are one of the people we are looking for,
we remember you, if you leave your house yard one more
time, you will be killed." The death threats, according
to Amnesty International appear related to Syatfle's
role in a demonstration scheduled for October 29 in the
city of Sorong in West Papua. Amnesty concludes that
Syatfle was targeted "because he is a prominent peaceful
political activist in Papua." (Syatfle is the Sorong
Secretary of the Papua Traditional Council or Dewan Adat
Papua which represents Indigenous communities in Papua.
He is also Secretary of the Papua National Consensus
Team, a non-violent group campaigning for a peaceful
internationally mediated solution to the political
problems in Papua. He has met with U.S. Congressional
leaders in the past.)
Amnesty International notes in its alert: "The right to
free expression, opinion and assembly is guaranteed
under the Indonesian Constitution and the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which
Indonesia is a state party. However, members of human
rights organizations in Papua have been harassed and
intimidated because of their work, and many peaceful
pro-independence political activists have been arrested
and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment."
President Yudhoyono's New Cabinet
Includes Papuan and
a General with Mixed Record in
President Yudhoyono's new cabinet includes a prominent
Papuan, Freddy Numberi, who will be Minister of
Transportation. Numberi served as governor of Papua from
2001 to 2003. He was Minister of Fisheries and Marine
Affairs in the first Yudhoyono cabinet and Minister for
Administrative Reform under President Abdurrahman Wahid.
In 2004 President Yudhoyono asked the retired Indonesian
navy admiral, as former Papuan Governor, to assist in
resolving tensions between the Central Government and
Papuans. Numberi was a strong advocate of "Special
As Governor, he appointed Papuan
political figure Theys Eluay to the Papuan Council, but
then tried to have him removed when Eluay, who was
subsequently chosen to chair the council, expressed
support for Papuan independence. Indonesian special
forces (Kopassus) assassinated Eluay in 2001 while
Numberi was still Papuan Governor.
Yudhoyono also chose General Sutanto to head the State
Intelligence Agency (BIN). Sutanto was served as Chief
of Police in West Papua during and following the June
2007 visit of senior UN official Hina Jilani to West
Papua. For months after her visit, Papuans, including
senior Papuan clergy, who had met with her faced
harassment and threats. The intimidation drew criticism
from Jilani in her subsequent report to the UN on human
rights abuse in West Papua. Calls by international NGO's
to Sutanto to investigate the threats went unaddressed.
Sutanto also dismissed claims in a detailed July 2009
Human Rights Watch report of abuse of Papuans by
security forces, contending publicly that the human
rights environment in West Papua was improving.
Given the violations of human rights that transpired on
his watch - as Police Chief in West Papua - his new,
more powerful role as chief of an agency which has
itself been repeatedly accused of violating rights in
West Papua and elsewhere -- including the assassination
of Munir, Indonesia's most prominent human rights
activist -- raises concerns.
in The Papuan Central Highlands
The Tingginambut area within the Papuan Central
Highlands was again the scene of violence in October
when one civilian worker was killed during an attack by
unknown people on a work crew. The police reportedly
questioned five witnesses to the attack which was
carried out by approximately 15 men armed with guns and
swords. The work crew was employed by PT Agung Karya and
was conducting repair work on a bridge in the Kalome
area in Tingginambut district.
The Tingginambut area as been the seen of attacks and
security force reprisals against local civilians for six
HIV/AIDS Reach "Generalized
Epidemic" Stage Among Papuans Bereft Of Government
Antara News Agency, October 28, reported that the
prevalence of HIV/AIDS in West Papua has reached "the
'generalized epidemic' stage, according to World Vision
Indonesia health program coordinator Dr. Ronald Gunawan.
"HIV and AIDS in Papua are no longer exclusive to
high-risk groups, but also common among the general
public," said Gunawan. Among the indigenous population,
the prevalence rate had reached 2.8 percent, much higher
than the rate of 1.5 percent among immigrants. Gunawan
said the highest rate, 3.2 percent, was found in coastal
and remote areas where health services were scarce.
Gunawan said the spread of HIV/AIDS could be checked if
the public were made more aware and given adequate
information. The government needed to improve the
quality of education, particularly in remote areas of
the province. He said the government also had to recruit
doctors and health workers and post them around Papua to
improve the quality and delivery of health services.
The failure of the Indonesian central government to
provide a basic health (or education) infrastructure for
Papuans after over 40 years of control of West Papua and
despite over eight years of "special autonomy" (see the
following piece for more detail on the inadequacy of
basic services in West Papua) is one argument employed
by critics of Indonesian policy who contend that decades
of such neglect has had a genocidal impact on Papuans.
Carmel Budiardjo on "West
Papuan Issues and The Prospects for Dialogue"
Carmel Budiardjo, founder and co-director of TAPOL,
the London-based human rights organization, authored an
Op-Ed which was published in the
October 25 Jakarta Post.
As Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
begins his second term as President, it is worth
considering the prospects for dialogue to resolve
Indonesia's most intractable conflict.
The implementation of the 2001 Special Autonomy Law
(Otsus) for West Papua has been woeful. While the
exploitation of Papua's natural resources earned
huge revenues for Jakarta, West Papuans are among
the poorest in Indonesia.
Without consulting the Majelis Rakyat Papua, the
Papuan People's Council, set up in compliance with
Otsus (2001 Special Autonomy legislation), the
central government split the territory into two
provinces. Dozens of new districts have been created
to facilitate access for people in remote areas, but
they have gobbled up most of the funds allocated
under the Otsus law to build new offices and pay new
staff, most of whom are non-Papuan.
The Papuan people have enjoyed little improvement in
health and education. LIPI (the Indonesian Institute
of Sciences) concludes that education is worse today
that when West Papua was still a Dutch colony. In
Yahukimo district, there were only 331 teachers for
The state of health is just as bad: malnutrition is
widespread and there is hardly any access to clean
water. There are only 12 government hospitals and
six private hospitals, plus a few poorly equipped
health centers. Ninety percent of Papuan villages
have no access to clinics and the few that are
located in the interior have only a midwife and a
nurse, with no doctors in sight.
The (LIPI) researchers concluded that "the
government fails to recognize the health situation
as being a threat to the existence of the Papuan
Papuans are unable to compete with Indonesians now
doing business in West Papua. Whereas in 1959,
outsiders accounted for 2 percent of the population,
this rose to 35 percent in 2000, and 41 percent in
2005. By 2011, Papuans are likely to be
Although dialogue has been successful in Aceh,
Jakarta fears that dialogue with West Papua will get
bogged down over the issue of independence.
Papuans have experienced years of military
operations and violence. While the perpetrators
enjoy impunity, Papuan groups that organize
demonstrations are accused of being anti-NKRI or
"separatist", with dire consequences. Even flying
the Papuan flag, the Kejora, risks heavy punishment.
Recognizing that dialogue is fraught with
difficulties, LIPI recommends an "incremental
process" which would mean abandoning the armed
struggle by the Papuans and the implementation of
Otsus and demilitarization by Indonesia.
The suggested agenda would include: the history and
political status of Papua; justice for human rights
victims; the failure of development in Papua and the
marginalization of the Papuans.
Jakarta needs to have the courage to approach Papua,
learning from what has been achieved in Aceh. The
LIPI recommendations deserve the government's