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West Papua Report

February 2010

This is the 69th 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 edmcw@msn.com.
 
Summary

Papuans have staged rallies in support of calls for a referendum on West Papua's political status and to welcome efforts of international support groups. New research has pointed to the persistence and perniciousness of the Indonesian military's illegal logging. A new attack on Freeport personnel re-enforces analyses that Indonesian security forces are orchestrating the violence. An Indonesian NGO and the Papuan branch of the Indonesian Human Rights Commission say that rights protection in West Papua declined in 2009. A Human Rights Watch report details rights violations in 2009. The Indonesian military has named a senior Special Forces (Kopassus) officer to head up the military in West Papua. The appointment conflicts with Papuan efforts to begin a dialogue with the central government and to demilitarize West Papua. The man chosen to replace independence leader Kelly Kwalik, killed by the police in December, has pledged to continue Kwalik's pursuit of a peaceful dialogue with Indonesian authorities. The police who killed Kwalik have been honored for their action. The Indonesian government plans to ban more books, including some which address Papuan issues. The Indonesian Government is moving forward with plans for a "food estate" in West Papua which will expropriate land from local people and bring many non-Papuans to the site as laborers. A local union and others have condemned the plan as a "land grab."

Contents

 

Indonesian military personnel at all ranks remain directly involved in illegal logging. The involvement is structural; low-ranked soldiers to territorial commanders received a share.


Papuans Rally in Support of Referendum and International Support Groups

Tempo Interactive reported January 28 that Papuans had launched a campaign to support calls for a referendum. According to the report, on January 27 "about one thousand Papuans in Timika rallied to support the holding of a referendum on West Papua's political status."

The rally also supported the founding of two international support groups for Papuans, the London-based International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) and the Brussels-based International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP).

From his prison cell, internationally recognized prisoner of conscience and West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Chairman Buchtar Tabuni issued a press appeal calling on all Papuan to support these international efforts.

Illegal Logging Remains A Key Source of Funds for The Indonesian military
 
The University of Indonesia, in just-released research reported by the Jakarta Post January 29, reveals that Indonesian military personnel at all ranks remain directly involved in illegal logging. The head researcher, Tirta N. Mursitama, told the Jakarta Post, "(The military's involvement in this practice) was structural; low-ranked soldiers to territorial commanders received a share."

A team from the Center for East Asia Cooperation Studies (CEACoS) at the University of Indonesia, uncovered the military's many roles in the illicit business from coordinating to monitoring and investing. The research covers the period between 1999 and 2006 in East Kalimantan, and targeted illegal logging in border areas.

While the University of Indonesia research focused on illegal logging in East Kalimantan, the practice is particularly widespread in West Papua, as extensively documented in The Last Frontier - Illegal Logging in Papua and China's Massive Timber Theft, a 2005 report by the London-based Environmental Investigative Agency (EIA) and the Indonesian Telepak. "Down To Earth" summarized the report in part: "... West Papua has become the main illegal logging hotspot in Indonesia. As the forests of Sumatra, Sulawesi and Kalimantan are increasingly logged out, timber operations in West Papua are becoming more commercially attractive."
 
The EIA/Telepak report noted that 300,000 cubic meters of hardwood merbau logs per month were smuggled from West Papua to wood processing factories in China. The EIA/Telepak investigation revealed that the logging and timber smuggling operations are supported and managed by high-ranking Indonesian military (TNI) plus other government officials and law enforcers.

The University of Indonesia research, as well as that of NGOs, journalists and others underscores that notwithstanding efforts to reform the Indonesian military by placing its business empire under civilian control, lucrative illegal activity persists. That activity is particularly extensive in West Papua where Suharto-era rules apply, meaning that the military is broadly unaccountable to civilian authority (including the courts).

New Armed Attack on Freeport Personnel
 
Unknown gunmen have again attacked Freeport personnel on the military-guarded road linking the mine site near Tembagapura with Timika. The attack wounded Indonesian and foreign personnel. Among the wounded was a child and an American citizen. The attack, the latest in a series of attacks which began in July 2009, is especially embarrassing to Indonesian military and police as it follows the December 2009 police killing of Kelly Kwalik, the long-time leader of the armed resistance in the area whom security officials sought to blame for the attacks.

 

Moreover, the rights defenders noted that activists were monitored and sometimes subjected to intimidation while investigating cases of human rights violations or after meeting with diplomats and representatives from international organizations.


The armed resistance has repeated Kwalik's previous assertions that the attacks are not the work of the resistance.

Previous instances of security force-orchestrated violence in the Freeport mine area, aimed at increasing Freeport payments to the security forces, continue to fuel analyses that the security forces are again behind the violence.

Indonesian activists: "Human rights protection in Papua declined in 2009"

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the Papuan office of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM, a formal state organization) in a January 17 joint presentation noted that the human rights situation in West Papua experienced a "drastic decline" in 2009.

According to the two organizations Indonesia continued to ignore the protection of equality and human dignity, as well as the supremacy of law in West Papua.

Kontras and Komnas Ham's Papuan branch contended that during 2009, Indonesian authorities depicted Papuans as criminals for exercising their legal rights. In particular, security personnel disparaged Papuans who engaged in legal, peaceful demonstrations as "separatists."

Matius Murib of Komnas HAM Papua, accompanied by Kontras' Haris Azhar and Syamsul Alam during the presentation regarding human rights in Papua in 2009 observed: "The criminalization of people who raised [the Morning Star] flag, the breaking up of peaceful demonstrations and the shooting to death of Kelly Kwalik are reflections of a lack of government will to carry out dialogue with the community." Moreover, the rights defenders noted that activists were monitored and sometimes subjected to intimidation while investigating cases of human rights violations or after meeting with diplomats and representatives from international organizations.

Spokesmen for the two organizations concluded that display of the morning star flag is a cultural, civil and political right guaranteed under the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which were ratified by the Indonesian Government in 2006.

The rights defenders also decried the failure of the Government to implement the law on "special autonomy" with the consequence of growing corruption and widening of the socio-economic gap within Papuan society.

Human Rights Watch Report Notes Rights Abuses in West Papua

The 20th Annual Human Rights Watch (HRW) World report in the course of reviewing human rights conditions in more than 90 countries and territories notes serious abuse in West Papua during 2009. Drawing on its previously noted "What Did I Do Wrong" (see July 2009 West Papua Report) the annual report notes that in Merauke, West Papua, Special Forces (Kopassus) arrested Papuans without legal authority and subjected them to beatings and mistreatment at the Kopassus barracks.

In the wake of these abuses, HRW notes, commanders made no effort to uphold military discipline or to hold soldiers accountable. In fact, WPAT has learned, Kopassus has prepared a report which purports to contradict certain HRW findings. The HRW annual report also notes that in March 2009, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ordered the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to close its field offices in Jayapura (as well as in Banda Aceh in Aceh).

The portion of the annual report dealing with abuses affecting Papuans follows:

Indonesian authorities have responded to a longstanding, low-level armed separatist insurgency in the provinces of Papua and West Papua with a strong troop presence and often harsh and disproportionate responses to non-violent dissent or criticism. Human Rights Watch has long expressed concerns over anti-separatist sweeps by the police, which often result in individuals who peacefully express support for independence being arrested and detained on charges of treason or rebellion (makar).

The government continues to restrict access by foreign human rights monitors and journalists to Papua, exacerbating the existing climate of impunity and making investigations extremely difficult. Prior to being ordered to close its Jayapura office, the ICRC had been visiting detainees in Papua's Abepura prison, where prison guards continued to torture inmates, including political prisoners Buchtar Tabuni and Yusak Pakage.

In July a series of shootings at the Freeport goldmine in Timika left three people dead, including one Australian. Police, declaring that the Free Papua Movement (OPM) was involved in the attacks, arrested at least 20 Papuans in relation to the killings and declared seven as suspects. The OPM denied any involvement, and those targeted by the police insisted that they were neither affiliated with the OPM nor participants in the attacks. In November police released the final seven Papuans detained in connection with the incident. In November a Manokwari district court convicted three men of makar (rebellion), for raising a pro-independence flag.

Kopassus Officer Named to Head Military in West Papua

The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) in a January 24 statement described the naming of senior Special Forces (Kopassus) Officer as Indonesia Military Commander in West Papua as "profoundly disturbing." The statement noted the "dark history" of Kopassus in West Papua and elsewhere and recalled recent and continuing reporting of Kopassus abuses targeting the Papuan population. WPAT and ETAN noted that the appointment would undermine efforts by Papuans to launch a dialogue with the central government and to demilitarize West Papua.

Hotma MarbunThe new commander, Major General Hotma Marbun, has served in West Papua and in East Timor during periods of brutal repression. A statement by the Indonesian military chief of staff at the transfer of command ceremony indicated that the military would continue to focus on purported "separatist" threats. The military and police in West Papua routinely allege that Papuans defending human and civil rights are "separatists" and used the false charge to pursue crack downs against Papuans who assert their rights. (See full WPAT/ETAN statement at http://www.etan.org/news/2010/01hotma.htm)
 
Kwalik Replacement Pledges Continued Pursuit of Peace Initiative
 
A January 10 press release from the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) announced that General Jeck Milian Kermong was elected to be the new Commander of KODAM III/Nemangkawi, succeeding Kwalik who was killed by the Indonesian police in late 2009. The election took place December 25, 2009 at an extraordinary meeting of the leadership of Free Papua Movement (OPM) at a military ceremony at the Headquarters of the KODAM III [Military Area Command III]/Nemangkawi in the central highlands of West Papua.

According to a January 10 report in the Vanuatu Daily Post, General Jeck Milian Kemong was close to Kwalik. He was born in Tsinga Village, the son of landowners in the Freeport mining area. He attended primary school in Amungun, Akimuga District with the late Kelly Kwalik in the 1960s. He subsequently attended the former Catholic seminary in Abepura from 1968 to 1971. He joined the OPM in 1977 and in that year participated a military action that destroyed the main pipeline at the Freeport copper and gold mine.

In a statement to the general public, Kemong asserted that the killing of Kwalik "will never undermine peaceful dialogue that has already been in progress." Kemong pledged to continue the peace initiative until a lasting peace is achieved in West Papua."

For many years, accepting appeals from leaders of Papuan civil society, Kwalik and many of the OPM leadership had observed a halt to most military activities in support of peaceful initiatives by civil society leaders to end security force abuse of human rights and the demilitarization of West Papua. Shortly before his killing, Kwalik had met with police officials in service of those goals.

Police Honored for Killing Kwalik
 
The Indonesian National Police headquarters on January 20 honored a team of 50 police officers with special commendations for the December 2009 shooting and killing Kelly Kwalik, the charismatic leader of the pro-independence Free Papua Movement (OPM). Police had been faulted for their handling of the incident: Kwalik died of a leg wound, apparently because police failed to staunch the wound, allowing Kwalik to bleed to death.

In the wake of the shooting police officials claimed that Kwalik has been involved in series of attacks in the area of the Freeport copper and gold mine in West Papua. These claims contradicted earlier statements by the police themselves that Kwalik was not involved in those attacks. Kwalik also had denied involvement. Giving credence to Kwalik's claims of non-involvement, unknown gunmen have staged a new attack on Freeport personnel (see separate item this issue).

A media report quoted one of the police involved in the Kwalik shooting as stating that police were now attempting to track down Goliath Tabuni, another senior member of the rebel group.

Indonesian Government to Ban Books, Including Translation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

 

Is Indonesia's democracy so fragile that it cannot allow the raising of the West Papuan Flag and books on the issue of West Papua?


The Indonesian Attorney General's office (AGO) plans to ban 20 additional books, including at least three which address human rights violations in West Papua and Indonesia's annexation of that territory.

The banning would be justified by claims that the books fuel separatist sentiments, echoing those presented by the Suharto dictatorship. "We do not want to see Indonesia separated," claimed the Head of Research and Development of the Justice and Human Rights Department Hafid Abbas.
 
The forbidden books will include The Indigenous World 2009, published by the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs, edited by Kathrin Wissendrof. This publication was launched at the UN Headquarters in May 2009. Other books include: Hak Asasi Masyarakat Adat, a translation into Bahasa Indonesia of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and Sendius Wonda's Rakyat Papua Barat Mencari Keadilan (A Nations Plea: West Papua People Looking for Justice).

Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) said, "is Indonesia's democracy so fragile that it cannot allow the raising of the West Papuan Flag and books on the issue of West Papua? The banning of freedom of expression is contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Instead of banning books on West Papua the Indonesian government should be allowing the West Papuan people to discuss human rights and self determination in their country." AWPA called on The Indonesian Constitutional Court to revoke the authority of the Attorney General's Office (AGO) to ban books in the country.
 
WPAT, for its part, notes that in banning the publication of the Bahasa Indonesian translation of a fundamental UN document, i.e., the UN Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous People, Indonesia has sought to impede access to a UN declaration for which it voted (in 2007).

Church Voice for the Suffering People: No More Blood and Tears in West Papua, by Socrates Sofyan Yoman

Indonesia's censors have been busy recently. Last year, they banned the Australian-produced feature film Balibo, about the murder of foreign journalists in the lead up to Indonesia's full scale invasion of East Timor in 1975. Shortly thereafter, five book were banned, including a recent Indonesian translation of John Roosa's 2007 book on 1965 and Church Voice for the Suffering People: No More Blood and Tears in West Papua, by Socrates Sofyan Yoman.

The Indonesian Government "Food Estate" Plan to Expropriate Papuan Lands and Flood Area with Migrants

Wamena women selling cabbage in a Papua market  
Wamena women selling cabbage in a Papua market. Antara Photo  

Agriculture Minister Suswono has told the media that the Indonesian government has finalized plans for the country's first integrated food production zone in Merauke, West Papua. The pilot project, comprising 1.6 million hectares, aims to attract domestic and international investors with a series of tax breaks and could be a model for other such zones in eastern Indonesia. The project envisions integrated farming including a plantation and livestock zone, where companies will process and package their products in one place. The government plans to give investors financial incentives such as tax breaks and reductions in customs and excise duty, according to the ministry.

According to the Ministry, the government will "streamline" the land acquisition process and facilitate immigration for foreign workers. In practical terms, Papuans will be forced to sell their land in what the Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI) a "land

grab" by big business at the expense of local people. This will eventually lead [the country] to losing sovereignty in our food [production], the union said. Food estates could also lead to feudalism because the role of the indigenous farmers will be just to provide labor to the capital owners. The union also said executives from Binladin Group, a Saudi Arabian conglomerate, have visited Merauke to examine the projects potential.

Local people and NGOs have also protested over associated social and environmental problems posed by the "estate" plan. Bungaran Saragih, a former agriculture minister, expressed similar concerns. There is potential for social conflict between the original residents and the newcomers, he told the Jakarta Globe in December.

 

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