This is the 71st 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 lightly-armed Papuan resistance
organization (OPM) expressed public support for a internationally mediated
dialogue between Papuans and the Indonesian government. The announcement
indicates broad unity among Papuans for a peaceful approach to resolving
Papuans' myriad problems with Jakarta. In late March, Papuan demonstrators
in various Papuan cities met a mixed response from police who at times used
repression against the uniformly peaceful protests. The trial of Victor
The activist stands
accused of "rebellion" under Indonesia's infamous Article 106. The
Indonesian military announced plans, not yet approved by the civilian
government, to significantly augment its presence in West Papua. The plan
stands in stark contrast to broad Papuan calls for demilitarizing their
homeland. Environmentalists have pointed to new problems with government
plans to develop a massive food estate in the area of Merauke. In its annual
assessment of human rights in Indonesia in 2009, the U.S. Department of
State chronicles many of the cases of rights abuse, usually at the hands of
the security forces, but inexplicably
ignores a key June 2009 Human Rights Watch report which detailed extensive
Kopassus abuse of Papuans, as well as decades
of Indonesian government failure to extend health, education and other basic
services to Papuans. The International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a report on
West Papua which seeks to assign blame for growing violence to individual
Papuan groups rather than acknowledge deteriorating human rights and
humanitarian conditions. Some media reports of
the analysis, abetted by an ICG official's comments, mischaracterize the
report's assessment of who is to blame for recent violence in the area of
the Freeport-McMoran mine. A recent violent incident in the Puncak Jaya
region has local people on edge.
If such a dialogue takes place, the most important
problem to discuss is the flawed integration - not
special autonomy - development,
money or formation of new regions which will create new conflicts.
for Internationally Mediated Dialogue between Papuans and Indonesian
The military wing of the Free Papua Movement (TPN-OPM) announced on March 13
that it would support internationally mediated dialogue(preferably
by the UN) between
Papuans and the Indonesian central government. The statement specifically
offered support for plans proposed
separately by Papuan Catholic Priest Neles Tebay and the Indonesian
Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
In commenting on
the new position, the leader of the military wing, General Thadius Jhoni
Kimema Jopari Magai Yogi, explained that Papuan leader Theys Eluay had
always supported peaceful resolution of outstanding issues between Jakarta
and Papuans. The rebels only again took up arms after the 2001 torture
murder of Theys Eluay by Indonesian
special forces (Kopassus), after a "conducive
the tenure of late president Abdurrahman Wahid.
In the statement the rebels said: "We will magnanimously accept any outcome
of such a dialogue. If such a dialogue takes place, the most important
problem to discuss is the flawed integration, not special autonomy,
development, money or formation of new regions which will create new
conflicts. TPN-OPM members who have long resided in the jungles, valleys,
coasts and mountains, affirm that if any Papuan participates in talks when
the mediator is [former Indonesian Vice President] Jusuf Kalla they will be
deemed traitors to our cause."
(Comment: Kalla who has been
rumored for a role in a dialogue was a central player in the 2005 agreement
between GAM, the Aceh independence movement, and the Indonesian Government.
That agreement, which was internationally mediated, has been incompletely
implemented with the Indonesian Government failing to set up a human rights
court or a truth and reconciliation commission as required by the 2005 final
Police Interfere with One Demonstration,
Allow Others to Proceed
arrested 26 people of West Papua on peaceful rally to demand
On March 22 the Indonesian police used force to break up a rally in Jayapura
sponsored by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB). It was the second
protest KNPB had organized within a week and was aimed at communicating
Papuan concerns to President Obama before his visit to Indonesia, now set
for June. Demonstrations were also held in several other cities, including
Sorong, Manokwari, Wamena and Serui. All the demonstrations were peaceful.
Organizers in Jayapura had obtained a permit but police there fired their
weapons to disperse the crowd and arrested 15 Papuans.
All but two of the peaceful demonstrators detained by the police in Jayapura
were released. Mara Koyoga and Linus Pagawe were formally charged for
alleged possession of "sharp implements." The two will face charges under
Law 12/1951 regarding possession of weapons. They face a maximum of 20 years
All the demonstrations were coordinated by the KNPB. Buchtar Tabuni, chair
of the KNPB, is serving a three-and-a-half year sentence in Abepura Prison.
He reportedly said that the peaceful demonstration had taken place according
to the organization's intentions. "They are taking place according to my
directives. If the police need any clarifications, they should ask me," he
At least one Papuan official, the deputy chairman of the provincial
legislative assembly (DPRP) Yehuda Gobay S.Th, condemned the detentions and
arrests in Jayapura. He noted that security officials frequently round
people up during peaceful demonstrations and fire shots in the midst of
demonstrators. He described this as unacceptable in an era of democracy and
called for the unconditional release of all those arrested.
At least one Papuan officialnoted that security
officials frequently round people up during peaceful demonstrations
and fire shots in the midst of demonstrators. He described this as
unacceptable in an era of democracy and called for the unconditional
release of all those arrested.
Also on March 22, hundreds of Papuans demonstrated peacefully without police
interference in Manokwari . The coordinator of this action, Zeth Wambrauw,
welcomed the prospective visit of President Obama and urged local officials
to arrange a meeting of Papuans with him. This demonstration, as did the
others, called on the Indonesian Government to withdraw organic and
non-organic troops from Papua. The demonstrators, including students from
the University of Papua (UNIPA), rejected calls for a Papua-Jakarta dialogue
unless there is an international mediator, especially the UN. The
demonstrators also called for closing of the massive Freeport McMoran copper
and gold mine and for a review of the so called "Act of Free Choice."
Although some of the demonstrators tried and failed to meet members of the
local Parliament (DPRP), some did meet the secretary of Commission A, Yulius
Moniaga, and someone from Commission B. Moniaga urged the police not to use
violence towards those arrested. He was also quoted as saying that when
people are arrested and put onto trucks, what usually happened was that they
were immediately beaten.
A demonstrator named Mako Tabuni was quoted as saying that similar
demonstrations had been held in other parts of the territory since 18 March
where the demonstrators had been calling for proper legal procedures to be
used. "These are not anarchistic actions but people calling for the
principle of democracy to be respected," he said. One of their demands was
for Memorandum of Understanding to be reached regarding the way people can
struggle for their aspirations.
The harsh police action against the demonstrators in Jayapura coincided with
publicity surrounding a flawed report by the International Crisis Group (ICG)
which alleged that the KNPB (which organized these demonstrations) was a
separatist organization which was prepared to employ violence to advance its
aims. (WPAT among others has criticized the report, see item below for
summary of the ICG report and WPAT's critique.)
Victor Yeimo Trial
December 12009 protest at Dutch parliament. Photo from
The respected UK-based Indonesian human rights organization Tapol has translated
a report about the opening of the trial of
Papuan activist Victor F. Yeimo on March 11. Yeimo, a leading figure in the
West Papua National Committee (KNPB) is charged with rebellion (makar)
under Article 106 of the Criminal Code for allegedly seeking secession. The prosecutors
charge that in a speech at a peaceful rally on March 10, 2009, Yeimo "demanded
independence for West Papua, rejected special autonomy, and called
for a referendum, and a review of the 1969 Act of Free Choice He also called
for the release of all political
prisoners, both those tried as well as those not yet tried."
Outside the court house after the hearing, witness Marcho Tabuni, told
journalists on behalf of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) that
Yeimo's arrest and "detention
had taken place without any proof.... He
said that Article 28 of the Indonesian Constitution upholds the right to
freedom of expression. He called for greater space in West Papua for basic
freedoms, for the withdrawal of the military," and
the unconditional release of all Papuan political prisoners.
Article 106 of the Indonesian criminal code which criminalizes peaceful
political speech is regularly employed by prosecutors to target dissenters.
Article 106 is fundamentally inconsistent with Indonesian obligations under
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 19 and
21) which Indonesia signed in 2006 as well as the under the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 19 and 20).
Plan to Augment Troops in West Papua
Papuan officials, echoing
public calls by demonstrating students and other Papuans, have
repeatedly called for the removal of TNI personnel from West Papua.
The Indonesian military (TNI) March 23 announced plans to deploy thousands
of additional troops to West Papua. Papuan officials, echoing public calls
by demonstrating students and other Papuans, have repeatedly called for the
removal of TNI personnel from West Papua. There is no indication that the
central government has discussed the troop increase with Papuan officials.
Rear Marshal Sagom Tamboen said up
to four battalions, approximately 4000 troops, from a "Rapid Reaction Strike
Force" division based in Jakarta could be sent to the province to "maintain
the territory's unity within eastern Indonesia." Experts assess that there
are already at least 10,000 troops in West Papua plus addition unknown
numbers of military personnel associated with the special forces (Kopassus),
military intelligence personnel and other special units.
Rear Marshal Tamboen said the planned deployment, which has not yet been
approved by the government, had nothing to do with recent shootings
targeting police and employees of U.S. mining giant Freeport McMoRan.
Despite deployment of additional security personnel to the region in 2009,
violence there has continued.
The proposed deployment appears unrelated to any conceivable foreign threat
and the lightly armed, small-in-number armed resistance poses no significant
military threat. It appears that the principal purpose of the proposed
deployment would be to intimidate Papuans who are increasingly vocal in
peacefully advocating for their human and political rights. The troops would
also be in position to increase the flow of cash into TNI coffers through
extortion of local businesses, enforcement for "developers" attempting to
push Papuans off their lands, human trafficking, and illegal logging.
New Complications for Food
Estate Project in Merauke
Greenomics Indonesia, an environmental NGO, has expressed concern about the
Government's agricultural estate development plan for Merauke (see WPAT
reports for February and March
regarding this plan). According to the March
24 Jakarta Post, Greenomics Indonesia predicted most of the planned 1.6
million of hectares to be transformed into food estates would consume virgin
forested areas. An assessment of forestry data by Greenomics said there were
only 300,000 hectares of production forest (i.e., non-virgin forest). This
area of production forest is too scattered and not large enough to
accommodate so vast an area of food estates.
"The area is not large scale; they are scattered and the permit should be
issued by the Forestry Ministry," Greenomics Executive Director Elfian
Effendi said. He also said that developers should also seek approval from
the House of Representatives.
The Indonesian environmental group Walhi called the project a land grab and
warned that the estate would threaten the ecosystem. "Large-scale land
conversions in Merauke, which consists of predominantly low-lying land and
marshes, could cause it to lose its land areas," Walhi
said in a statement. "The
decrease in forest and water catchment areas could result in a faster
intrusion of sea water to the land."
The issues raised by Greenomics and Walhi add to previously voiced concerns
over land tenure rights and the impact of a large influx of non-Papuans into
the region to be employed in the agricultural development.
(WPAT Comment: A similar
government plan to convert a massive area in South Kalimantan to
agricultural use in the latter years of the Suharto dictatorship led to
disastrous results when brackish water inundated the area being prepared for
agriculture rendering it useless for any purpose.)
Department Finds Extensive
Human Rights Abuse in West Papua
The annual U.S. Department of State annual Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices, included a detailed account of human rights abuse in West Papua,
especially by Indonesian security forces (see Indonesia report at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135992.htm)
There were important omissions despite
the extensive coverage. The report completely ignored the widely cited June
2009 report by Human Rights Watch, "What
Did I Do Wrong?" which
documented in great detail abuse of Papuans by Indonesian Special Forces
(Kopassus) personnel. Observers speculate that the omission might have been
intentional with the purpose of diverting attention from the notorious
unit which is under consideration for U.S. training and other assistance for
the first time in 12 years. The U.S. Congress has long barred assistance to
units like Kopassus because of their exceptionally notorious record of human
rights violations, many of them committed in West Papua, East Timor,
Aceh, and elsewhere.
As in past years the State Department report fails
to note the failure over many decades of the Indonesian Government
to provide minimally adequate services to Papuans, especially those
in rural areas. The infrastructure for health care and education are
insufficient and account for some of the worst rates of infant
mortality and other health indices in Asia.
The Report also fails to note the fundamental inconsistency between
Indonesia's obligations under the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (signed
by Indonesia in 2006) and the persistence of Article 106 in the Indonesian
criminal code, which criminalizes as treason or rebellion peaceful,
political speech. Article 106 is a common weapon used by Indonesian
authorities to punish peaceful dissent, especially in West Papua.
As in past years the State Department report fails to note the failure over
many decades of the Indonesian Government to provide minimally adequate
services to Papuans, especially those in rural areas. The infrastructure for
health care and education are insufficient and account for some of the worst
rates of infant mortality and other health indices in Asia. The report errs
in not acknowledging the Indonesian Governments utter failure to address
such basic human needs as required by the International Covenants on Social,
Cultural and Economic rights to which Indonesia is party.
The following highlights key description in the State
Department report for the year 2009 regarding
government policies and practices which have negative implications for human
rights protection in West Papua. The report also contains specific reports
of human rights violations:
In some parts of the country, particularly in
Kalimantan and Papua, residents believed that government-sponsored
transmigration programs, which move households from more densely
populated areas to less populated regions, interfered with their
traditional ways of life, land usage, and economic opportunities.
Although the number of new persons in transmigration was significantly
less than in previous years, the government continued to support
financially approximately 6,756 households moved in 2008 from
overpopulated areas to isolated and less-developed areas in 21
The government used its authority, and at times
intimidation, to expropriate land for development projects, often
without fair compensation. In other cases state-owned companies were
accused of endangering resources upon which citizens' livelihood
depended. A presidential decree on land acquisition for public use
allows the government to acquire land for private development projects
even if landowners have not agreed on the amount of compensation. A
number of NGOs argued that the decree served the interests of wealthy
developers at the expense of the poor.
Human rights activists asserted that the
government-sponsored transmigration program transplanting poor families
from overcrowded Java and Madura to less populated islands violated the
rights of indigenous people, bred social resentment, and encouraged the
exploitation and degradation of natural resources on which many
indigenous persons relied. In some areas, such as parts of Sulawesi, the
Malukus, Kalimantan, Aceh, and Papua, relations between transmigrants
and indigenous people were poor.
Based on recent statistics the authorities arrested
at least 30 persons for raising separatist flags in Papua. Although the
Papua Special Autonomy Law permits flying a flag symbolizing Papua's
cultural identity, a government regulation prohibits the display of the
Morning Star flag in Papua, the RMS flag in Maluku, and the Crescent
Moon flag in Aceh.
The government continued to restrict foreign
journalists, NGOs, and government officials from traveling to the
provinces of Papua and West Papua by requiring them to request
permission to travel through the Foreign Ministry or an Indonesian
embassy. The government approved some requests and denied others. Some
journalists traveled to Papua without permission....
NGOs in Papua continued to report widespread
monitoring of their activities by intelligence officials as well as
threats and intimidation. Activists reported that intelligence officers
took their pictures surreptitiously and sometimes questioned their
friends and family members regarding their whereabouts and activities.
During the year indigenous persons, most notably in
Papua, remained subject to widespread discrimination, and there was
little improvement in respect for their traditional land rights. Mining
and logging activities, many of them illegal, posed significant social,
economic, and logistical problems to indigenous communities. The
government failed to prevent domestic and multinational companies, often
in collusion with the local military and police, from encroaching on
indigenous peoples' land. In Papua tensions continued between indigenous
Papuans and migrants from other provinces, between residents of coastal
and inland communities, and among indigenous tribes.
A more detailed critique of the State Department report by WPAT and the East
Timor and Indonesia Action Network
(ETAN) will be released shortly (check www.etan.org).
Group Accused of
Misrepresenting Causes of Violence in West Papua
A March 11 report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), "Indonesia:
Radicalization and Dialogue in Papua, claimed
that several Papuan groups were behind rising tension and violence in West
Papua. Some media and senior ICG officials misrepresented elements of the
report to suggest, incorrectly, that it had assigned blame to Papuan rebels
for recent violence in the area of the Freeport McMoran mine. The Report had
described the rebels as more likely to be responsible, but said "there
are no conclusive answers." The
ICG report usefully criticized the Indonesian government for its
restrictions on access to West Papua by journalists, researchers and others
and also urged the Indonesian Government to desist from attempting to
portray all Papuan critics and dissenters as "separatist." ICG also
usefully encouraged efforts supported by Papuans and some Indonesians to
launch a dialogue between Jakarta and West Papua.
The West Papua Advocacy Team, among others, expressed serious objections to
the report's analysis, methodology and conclusions (see http://www.etan.org/news/2010/03wpatigc.htm).
WPAT noted, in part, that Indonesian actions in West Papua, including its
"security approach" to problems and its assault on human rights there were
the leading causes of tension and violence.
Incident in the Puncak
news agency reported on March
23 that Indonesian troops and a group it labeled "separatist" were involved
in an exchange of gunfire in the troubled Mulia District in the central
highlands regency of Puncak Jaya. The incident reportedly began when an
armed group fired on a military vehicle as it was returning to its base in
the Puncak Senyum area.
Local officials said that no civilians were hurt and there appear to have
been no casualties among the 13 TNI personnel in the vehicle or their
alleged attackers .
WPAT sources in the area report that some villagers have already fled their
homes fearing onset of military operations.