West Papua Report
This is the 70th 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
regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The West Papua Advocacy Team urges President Obama to use his March
visit to Indonesia to call on the Indonesian Government to implement
fundamental changes in West Papua where human rights violations and impunity
for security force crimes persist. Reporting from the central highlands in
West Papua indicate an increased presence of security force and abusive and
corrupt behavior of these forces. Papuans have peacefully demonstrated in
large numbers to press demands for the release of political prisoners,
respect for human rights, the investigation and prosecution of the killing
of a peaceful demonstrator, and for demilitarization of West Papua. Papuans
also have protested an Indonesian Government plan to seize vast tracts of
land for "development" and displace many Papuans. The Indonesian government
has failed to provide urgent health care for Filep Karma, a Papuan political
prisoner. An Indonesian Minister has protested that Freeport McMoRan, the
giant U.S. mining operation, is operating illegally. Papuans have rejected
plans by the Provincial government of West Java and the national government
to send migrants to West Papua. It is feared that the transmigrants will use
generous government subsidies to out-compete and marginalize local Papuans
as has happened repeatedly in the past in West Papua.
Your visit affords an opportunity to press for genuine reforms
and further democratization in Indonesia and specifically in West
Papua where human rights abuse, injustice and security force
corruption is endemic. Special Autonomy has not resolved the issues
and is no final solution. Papuan human rights activists remain
subject to intimidation, arrest and even death.
WPAT Letter to President Obama on The Eve of His Visit to Indonesia
The West Papua Advocacy Team welcomes your upcoming visit to Indonesia as an
opportunity to deepen U.S.-Indonesian ties and to encourage further
democratization of Indonesia. Indonesia's democratic progress in the decade
since the overthrow of the
Suharto dictatorship has been impressive and has facilitated the expansion
of U.S. cooperation with this important nation. Critical to Indonesia's
democratization is the expansion of respect for human rights. Respect for
human rights and the process of democratization generally continue to face
threats from the
Indonesian military which continues to evade full civilian control and
remains largely unaccountable before Indonesia's flawed judicial system. It
is imperative that the United States employ its not inconsiderable
influence to work for the full subordination of the Indonesian military to
civilian control and accountability before the law.
Nowhere in the Indonesian archipelago is military insubordination, corruption
and abusive behavior more on display than in West Papua, where the military
continues to operate in a manner that reflects the rules and practices
fostered under the Suharto dictatorship.
Your visit affords an opportunity to press for genuine reforms and further
democratization in Indonesia and specifically in West Papua where human
rights abuse, injustice and security force corruption is endemic. Special
Autonomy has not resolved the issues and is no final solution. Papuan human
rights activists remain subject to intimidation, arrest and even death.
In your meetings with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono we urge you to
pursue real reforms that reflect the agenda of issues raised by human rights
advocates in West Papua. These include:
an end to military human rights violations, especially
including an end to military "sweeping operations" by Indonesian Special
Forces (Kopassus) and others which regularly displace thousands of
replacing the culture of impunity with genuine
accountability of military and police personnel before the courts for
past and ongoing
human rights crimes and corruption;
an end to resort to force by military and police to
address peaceful protest by Papuans to include their employment of flags
release of Papuan political prisoners and prisoners of
conscience to include all those who have been detained for such peaceful
cessation of the practice of conflating political
protest with "separatist" activity, a practice which enables security
Indonesian courts to address such peaceful protest as "terrorist" activity
under the Indonesian governments functional definition of terrorism;
demilitarization of West Papua and an end to military
protection of and operation of business operations, many of which have
had a devastating impact on Papuan natural resources;
an end to restrictions on access to and travel within
West Papua now imposed on international journalists, researchers,
humanitarian workers and diplomats and in that regard to permit the
return of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to its
offices in West Papua.
We also urge that you encourage the Indonesian President and government to
respond positively to long-standing calls by the Papuan civil society and
Papuan officials for
a senior-level, internationally mediated dialogue
between the Indonesian government and Papuan civil society, building on
the success of the earlier dialogue in Aceh and responding to calls from
Papuans and also
from prominent voices within Indonesian civil society;
steps to address persistent Papuan concerns including
policies such as "transmigration" and "special autonomy" which
marginalize Papuans in their own land;
the creation of a demilitarized "zone
of peace" in
The United States played a central role in the process that saw West Papua
annexed by Indonesia in the 1960s, a process that transparently failed to
afford Papuans an opportunity to exercise genuine self determination. The
period since then has seen continuing, extensive human rights problems.
Democratization in Indonesia since 1998, and now your visit to that country,
provide an opportunity for United States involvement in support of civil
society efforts to solve some of the subsequent human rights problems.
Indonesian Security Forces Ramping up Operations in Central
Reports from reliable sources within the Papuan central highlands reveal a
significant expansion of Indonesian military force deployment, particularly
by the U.S.-funded "Detachment 88" which has constructed two new, apparently
permanent posts. The military inter alia, is reported to be targeting
largely unarmed guerillas associated with the aging Papuan leader Thadeus
Yogi. Papuan parliamentarians reporting are seeking to intervene to preclude
new conflict by negotiating an agreement that would provide for
"rehabilitation" for the aged rebel leader.
Separately, there are also reports that the Indonesian military is targeting
rebel forces led by Goliath Tabuni in the Punjak Jaya area. Indonesian
military officials have justified such an offensive on the recent killing of
a Brimob (militarized policed) officer, found dead on February 15. The
military claims of a rebel role in that killing have been disputed by Lukas
Enembe, the local Bupati (the government official heading the administrative
regency in which the killing took place).
Over several months local officials have sought to secure the removal of
Indonesian state security personnel from the Mulia area, also in the central
highlands. These personnel include troops from Battalions 754 and 756 based
in Timika and Wamena. Among the problems these troops have generated is
inflation of the number of personnel (claiming 150 when in fact there are
120 personnel) in order to extract additional funds to support their
deployment. In addition to these battalions the 753 Battalion remains in
These newly arriving military personnel have also busied them selves with
constructions of new traffic control points - frequently used to shake down
local travelers. Meanwhile, police forces have constructed three new
road-control posts at which they interrogate civilian who are bearded or who
carry bows and arrows which is a traditional practice of the local Mee
Indonesian military personnel are also reported to be creating problems
elsewhere in the Central Highlands. Kopassus and other military personnel in
Mulia, the capitol of Puncak Jaya are engaged in Ojek (motorcycle
transportation) business as well as the illegal sale of alcohol. Huge
profits are made through mark ups of 600 percent of vodka in Mulia as
compared with the price in Jayapura.
Papuans Demonstrate to
Peacefully Voice Demands
The February 23 Cenderawasih Pos reports that a large peaceful demonstration
by Papuans in Jayapura called for an end to repression. The demonstrators
demands reflected longstanding concerns of Papuans who have for decades
suffered discrimination and marginalization at the hands of a distant
Indonesian Government which relies on an abusive military to enforce its
The demonstrators demands included:
an immediate and unconditional release of all political
detainees and convicted political prisoners;
investigation and prosecution of those responsible for
the killing of Opinus Tabuni who was killed by fire from security forces
at a peaceful August 2008;
demilitarization of West Papua and for the withdrawal of
"non-organic" troops (troops not native to West Papua, assigned to
augment indigenous troops);
opposition to plans announced in Jakarta to create a new
West Papua-based military command (Kodam);
and an end to extra-judicial killings.
The demonstration took place outside the Papua Legislative Assembly and was
organized by several Papuan groups in the capitol. Repeated police efforts
to stop the demonstration failed.
Indonesian State Pursues "Land Grab" Targeting
Papuans in Merauke Area
The Indonesian Government plans to take control of vast tracts of land near
Merauke in West Papua, much of it already owned and farmed by Papuans.
That potentially disruptive population growth will likely involve
a massive, state-supported inflow of non-Papuans along the lines of
decades of "transmigration policies" that have sown ethnic conflict
in West Papua, Borneo and Sumatra. That conflict has arisen as local
populations are marginalized in their own homelands as Government
support programs favor the internal migrants to the disadvantage of
The planned Merauke food estate will comprise a
1.6 million hectare integrated food production zone where companies will
grow, process and package their products in one location. The project, part
of President Yudhoyono's "fast-track
development" 100-day program," is aimed at developing food estates in
eastern Indonesia. The plan entails an expansion of Merauke's population of
some 175,000 people to up to 800,000. That potentially disruptive population
growth will likely involve a massive, state-supported inflow of non-Papuans
along the lines of decades of "transmigration policies" that have sown
ethnic conflict in West Papua, Borneo and Sumatra. That conflict has arisen
as local populations are marginalized in their own homelands as Government
support programs favor the internal migrants to the disadvantage of locals.
As noted in the February West Papua Report, there is growing opposition to
the scheme from small-scale Papuan farmers who say they fear their
traditional livelihoods will be threatened by the large-scale,
state-subsidized commercialization of agriculture. "We reject the concept of
the food estate. For us, food estates are another kind of land grabbing
scheme. It's like going back to the era of feudalism," Indonesian Farmers
Union official Kartini Samon told the Jakarta Post. "The regular farmers'
land will be taken by big companies and the farmers will be left with
nothing," she said.
The plan is only the latest in a history of Indonesian state expropriation
of land which has displaced and disadvantaged Papuans which began in 1967,
when Papuan lands were still nominally under a UN mandate. In that year, the
Suharto regime seized land in the Timika-Tembagapura area in order to
facilitate the development of the Freeport McMoran copper and gold mine. The
succeeding decades saw the displacement of thousands of Papuans (Amungme and
Kamoro) and the destruction of tens of thousands of acres of productive land
The Yudhoyono plan also concerns potential investors. In addition to the
local protests reported above and in the February "West Papua Report," an
Indonesian Chamber of Commerce official told the Jakarta Globe that "legal
uncertainty" will discourage investment. That "uncertainty" arises from a
melange of Indonesian laws and regulations on land usage, including the
Forestry Law, the Spatial Management Law, and the Law on "Special Autonomy."
Indonesian Government Fails to Provide Urgent Health Care
to Incarcerated Prisoner of Conscience
Information developed by reputable human rights advocates documents inhumane
treatment of those incarcerated in Indonesian prison facilities, including
those convicted of peaceful political dissent. In this instance, the
inhumane treatment concerns the failure of the Government to address urgent,
persistent health needs of individuals such as Filep Karma identified by
Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience.
His appeals for medical treatment for this condition have gone
largely unanswered. On August 6, he attend the clinic at the prison
and was told that no medicine was available.
Filep Karma was arrested in 2004, following his involvement in peacefully
raising the Morning Star flag on 1 December 2004. He was later convicted,
together with a colleague Yusak Pakage. He received a 15-year sentence while
Pakage was sentenced to ten years.
Since August 5, 2009, imprisoned Papuan activist Filep Karma has faced
painful health problems, specifically he has endured great difficulty
urinating and felt acute pain. His appeals for medical treatment for this
condition have gone largely unanswered. On August 6, he attend the clinic at
the prison and was told that no medicine was available. A nurse advised him
to lie on his back and raise his legs to the wall at 90 degrees while
massaging his abdomen. He was not examined nor was he given anything to
relieve the pain.
On 18 August, he was taken to DOK II Hospital and put into intensive care.
On 5 October, he received a letter from the director of the Cikiini hospital
in Jakarta stating he required treatment at the Urological Surgery
Department at the Cikini Hospital. The Director of the hospital in Jayapura
However, on 8 October, the prison Director said that the prison can only
provide each prisoner the sum of Rp 15,000 (less that $2.00) each year for
medical purposes. He added that the prison has no funds to cover the costs
of travel to Jakarta.
After extended discussions with officials of the provincial government it
agreed to provide funds to cover only for transportation (including
transport of prison and other guard officials).
(The above information is sourced to Solidaritas Korban Pelanggaran HAM
Papua, Solidarity with the Victims of Human Rights Violations in Papua. It
was received and forwarded by TAPOL. )
Illegally According to Indonesian Minister
23 Jakarta Globe reports that
the Ministry of Forestry has publicly criticized the U.S.-based Freeport
McMoran copper and gold mine in the Tembagapura-Timika area of West Papua
for its "illegal" activity. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan told lawmakers
he had sent Freeport an initial warning regarding its illegal activites on
August 7, but had received no response in the intervening five months.
Speaking on February 22, before a hearing with the House of Representatives
Commission IV which has responsibility for forestry and agriculture the
minister explained that a 2004 government regulation in lieu of law ("perppu")
required a permit from the ministry to be issued for mining in protected
areas. The forestry law prevents forest areas from being mined, but the 2004
perppu provided exceptions to 13 miners, including Freeport, provided they
the ministry. Freeport has no such permit, Zulkifli said.
"Under the forestry [law] it is illegal, that's
why we sent the second warning," Zulkifli said, adding that his ministry did
not have authority to revoke the license for non-compliance.
Budiman Moerdiat, the communications manager of Freeport, claimed to media
that Freeport had "followed the rules that were set in our mining contract
of work." The Freeport official claimed that the company has "lex specialis
rights," i.e., a legal stipulation that the terms and conditions of the
contracts would not be affected by any general Indonesian laws. The "right"
to operate outside the law was extended to Freeport by the massively corrupt
Suharto regime in 1988 and was extended in 1991 for a 30 year period.
Suharto and his family, as well as the military, benefited from a huge flow
of payments and subsidies. Freeport funds continue to flow to the military.
The Freeport official did not explain why the company had ignored the
Ministry's August message.
Papuans Reject Plans for Expansion of "Transmigration"
The Papua Customary Council as well as Papuan civil society
organizations have rejected new plans for expanded "transmigration" as
announced by the Governor of West Java.
The new plan arises from discussions between the West Java Governor and
Papuan officials, sponsored by the Ministry of Transmigration, which lay the
groundwork for the sending of 700 family heads to West Papua from West Java
on an annual basis. The scheme targets an area of 5,870,642 hectares of what
the Minister of Transmigration described as "potential placement locations
for transmigrants." The Minister noted plans to assist the transmigrants
beyond levels in past years. Specifically, transmigrants would receive
training in agribusiness and trade as well as development of facilities and
It is precisely such assistance, now to be provided at an increased level,
that has facilitated the marginalization of Papuans who are easily
out-competed by the newcomers in part due to Government assistance.