West Papua Report
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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."
Indonesian military personnel at all ranks
remain directly involved in illegal logging. The
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
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
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
While the University of Indonesia research focused on
illegal logging in East Kalimantan, the practice is
particularly widespread in West Papua, as extensively
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
"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
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
New Armed Attack on Freeport
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Kwalik Replacement Pledges Continued Pursuit of Peace
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
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
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
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
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
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).
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. 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.