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West Papua Report
July 2010

This is the 74th 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. Beginning with this edition the West Papua Report will include a Bahasa Indonesia translation of the summary and subject titles. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) Back issues are posted online athttp :// Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at
The West Papua Advocacy Team presented that the 2010 John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award to Indonesian journalist and human rights advocate Andreas Harsono. WPAT said that Harsono's reporting related to human rights and justice issues, including seminal pieces on justice issues in West Papua, has advanced the cause of human rights in West Papua by helping to lift the government-imposed veil of secrecy that obscures ongoing human rights abuse there. According to reporting from the field and local and international media accounts, Indonesian security forces, principally the militarized police (BRIMOB), in early June stepped up "sweeping" operations in the central highlands of West Papua. Apparently jumping the gun on a police-announced June 28 deadline for the surrender of local armed pro-independence fighters, security forces have already begun operations which have displaced thousands. The Papuan People's Council (MRP) has voted to reject "Special Autonomy" and to demand a referendum on West Papua's political future. The MRP, a council established by the Indonesian government in 2005, called for demilitarization of West Papua and for an internationally mediated Jakarta-Papuan dialogue, among other demands. The resolution now goes to the Papuan Parliament, the DPRD, which is expected to act on it in by mid-July. Human Rights Watch issued a report which states that at least 100 political prisoners remain in Indonesian prisons where they face torture and inadequate access to basic medical services. The report notes that Indonesia continues to imprison dissenters involved in peaceful protest, notably in West Papua and the Moluccas. The UN's Special Rapporteur for Torture issued a report in 2007 which revealed similar conditions. Local activists continue to resist implementation of the "food estate" project in the Merauke area noting the plans disastrous consequences for the local Marind. The Pacific Island state of Vanuatu is moving to raise West Papua's political status at the UN and in regional groupings. A major earthquake has displaced thousands in Yapen island. Local officials decry the slow pace of government-led relief efforts. Racism among some Indonesians afflicts popular perceptions regarding Papuans.

Andreas Harsono Wins 2010 John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award
The West Papua Advocacy Team's John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award for 2010 is presented to journalist and human rights advocate Andreas Harsono. The first Indonesian to win the award, Harsono is an internationally respected journalist who has earned recognition for his reporting related to human rights and justice issues, including seminal pieces on j West Papua. His reporting on human rights themes in West Papua in particular has advanced the cause of human rights by helping to lift the government-imposed veil of secrecy that obscures ongoing human rights abuse there. His authoritative work related to West Papua has inspired journalists and human rights advocates and informed policy makers in Indonesia and around the world.

The West Papua Advocacy Team created the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award in 2008. The award is given annually to the individual or institution that has contributed most substantially to protection of human rights in West Papua. The award honors John Rumbiak, a Papuan who, until suffering a debilitating stroke in 2005, was a leading voice in the defense of Papuan human rights. He founded the
West Papua Advocacy Team. His courageous devotion to the cause of human rights defense, the nonviolent assertion of political rights and demands for justice, including accountability for human rights violators, has inspired not only Papuans but individuals and organizations widely in the international community. The award includes a $500 stipend and a plaque which honors the winner. Past winners of the award include TAPOL's Carmel Budiardjo in 2008 and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and its National Coordinator John M. Miller in 2009.
Security Force Operations in Puncak Jaya Escalate
Sources based in West Papua report escalating security force operations in the Papuan central highlands region of Puncak Jaya. These same reports describe growing pressure on the civilian population as a direct consequence of these operations. Large numbers of civilians have fled their homes seeking shelter either in neighboring villages and towns or in the forests. As in past such operations-forced evacuations, the civilian population faces health/life threatening shortages of food, shelter, clothing and inadequate access to medical care. Specifically, thousands of people are now hiding in forests; civilians in Districts Yambi, Agandugume, and Ilaga Peak among many villagers have fled to Majesty Towogi District. Civilians from Tingginambut district have fled to forests, while some also have sought refuge in Kuyawagiastir, Tiom, Lani District Jaya. In previous sweep operations security forces routinely blocked access to this besieged/displaced civilian population by humanitarian relief personnel - even Papuan church workers.
The June WPAT Report noted that these sweep operations were expected to ramp up after a June 28 deadline set by the military for the surrender of Goliat Tabuni. Security forces, principally the militarized police or BRIMOB, whose forces were augmented in June, appear to have advanced that time frame.
Specific accounts of security force attacks on and intimidation of the civilian population include:

  • Heavy escalation of TNI and Brimob forces on the road from Ilu to Mulia with arrests of civilians for failure to present proper documentation; on June 11 Brimob personnel conducted a residential sweep search on all houses on the road between these two towns, detaining anyone without identification and putting on Army trucks;

  • Local people have been required to do forced labor for security forces; In Pos Nalime Tingginambut District residents have been forced to clear their gardens and prepare landing positions for military helicopters;

  • A church in Kayogwebur district Tingginambut has been taken over as headquarters for the Mobile Brigade;

  • Twelve houses and two churches have been destroyed by security forces in Gwenggu Pilia;

  • In the district of Kampong Tinggineri Tingginambut a pregnant woman raped by Brimob this week.

The West Papua Advocacy Team has requested the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta to urge the Indonesian Government to immediately address humanitarian need of the people in this region and to express concern about military acts against civilians.

The West Papua Advocacy Team, noting growing Papuan calls to pursue negotiations rather than the "security approach" as a means of resolving tensions in the region, has also urged that the U.S. Government encourage Indonesian officials to pursue negotiations as well as release Papuan political prisoners as a means of diffusing growing tensions.

Papuan Peoples Council (MRP) Rejects Special Autonomy, Calls for Referendum on Papuans' Future
The Papuan People's Council (Majelis Rakyat Papua or MRP, a body formed by the Indonesian government in 2005) passed a broad resolution that rejects "Special Autonomy" and demands a referendum on Papuans' political future. The June 14 MRP resolution also calls for an internationally mediated dialogue with Jakarta, respect for Papuan sovereignty, an end to international support for "Special Autonomy," suspension of Jakarta-organized elections, cessation of government-organized "transmigration," demilitarization of Papua and closure of the Freeport-McMoran mining operation.

The MRP has called upon the Papuan Parliaments (DPRP and DPRD) to follow its example. Those bodies have pledged to respond the MRP action by mid July.

There was popular support for the MRP action as evidenced by a march by several thousand Papuans to the Parliament demanding Parliamentary support.

The MRP's Recommendations follow (translation by TAPOL):


In accordance with the statement of the Papuan People's Consultative Assembly and Indigenous Papuan Groups that Special Autonomy Law No 21/2001 which has been in force for nine years, has FAILED. The following recommendations were agreed

1. That the Special Autonomy Law should be handed back to the Government of the Republic of Indonesia;

2. That the Papuan people demand that a DIALOGUE be held, mediated by a neutral international mediator;

3. That the Papuan people demand the holding of a REFERENDUM directed towards political independence;


4. That the Papuan people demand that the Government of the Republic of Indonesia recognizes the restoration of the sovereignty of the People of West Papua which was proclaimed on 1st December 1961;

5. That the Papuan people urge the international community to impose an embargo on international aid being provided for the implementation of Special Autonomy in the Land of Papua;

6. That there is no need to for revisions to be made to Law 21/2001 on Special Autonomy for the provinces of Papua and West Papua, with reference to Law 35/2008 on Revision of Law 21/2001, bearing in mind that the said law is proven to have FAILED;

7. That all proceedings for the election of heads of district throughout the Land of Papua should be halted, and call on the Governor of Papua and the Governor of West Papua, the DPRP, the DPRD-West Papua, and district heads and mayors throughout the Land of Papua to immediately discontinue the provision of funds for the holding of these elections;

8. That the Central Government, the Province of Papua and the Province of West Papua as well as all districts and municipalities in the Land of Papua end transmigration from outside Papua and impose strict supervision on the flow of migration by people from outside the Land of Papua;

9. That the Papuan people urge the Central Government, the Government of the Province of Papua and the DPRP and the DPRD-West Papua to release all Papuan political prisoners being held in prisons everywhere in Indonesia;

10. That the Central Government immediately carry out demilitarization throughout the whole of the Land of Papua;

11. That the Consultation held by the MRP and Papuan indigenous groups calls for the Freeport Indonesia company to be closely down immediately.

New Human Rights Watch Report on Political Prisoners Indicates No Progress Since 2007 UN Report
A new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) states that Indonesian jails hold at least 100 political prisoners from the Papua and Moluccas regions. The HRW report, Prosecuting Political Aspiration: Indonesia's Political Prisoners, says that some of these political prisoners have been victims of torture. The HRW report, released June 22, like previous ones and those by other reputable non-governmental organizations, journalists and UN observers, details specific instances of torture of detainees.

The report sheds light on other systematic human rights abuse meted out to political prisoners including denial of adequate medical services, the use of long-distance prison transfers to isolate prisoners from their family and community, and poor prison conditions. This report in many respects echoes the 2007 findings of UN human rights Special Rapporteur for Torture Dr. Manfred Novak. This HRW update indicates that Indonesia has ignored those earlier findings.

HRW calls on the Indonesian government to release prisoners detained for their political views and repeal laws allowing authorities to jail peaceful protesters for treason or rebellion. It urges the government to revoke laws banning the display of logos and flags. For many years display of the Papuan "morning star flag," even as a decoration on a purse or t-shirt, has been grounds for arrest.
The report was issued on the eve of a June 29 opening of a European Union-Indonesian dialogue on human rights in Jakarta. On June 28, HRW encouraged the EU representatives to press Jakarta on a broad agenda of human rights concerns.

Papuans Continue to Resist Merauke Food Estate Plan
The daily Jayapura tabloid "Jubi" on June 25 reported continued Papuan resistance to central government plans to establish a vast "food estate" in the Merauke area. (See the WPAT Report for April and June 2010 for details related to this project.) The Jubi account cited the leader of "SORPATOM" ("Solidarity for Papuans") Victoria Diana Gebze who met with press on June 25 as rejecting the project and calling on the government to stop it.

According to Ms. Gebze, the program would be particularly detrimental to the local Marind (tribal) landowners. "People in this area are just not ready for the arrival of those huge companies," she stated. Ms. Gebze stressed that Marind tribe members face the loss of natural resources upon which they are dependent. She explained: "The Marind people are dependent on nature. They respect nature as their mother." She added: "The people in this region are still simple and their understanding is limited and so they are easily misled."

According to reporting from Merauke available to WPAT, the local district chief, Johannes Glubza Gebze, strongly supports the project and has set up a "hunter" team which has intimidated local opponents of the project.

Kopassus in West Papua
Like the Suharto regime the current Indonesian central government employs what they call a "security approach" to suppress dissent in West Papua. Peaceful dissenters are routinely detained and beaten (see report above on June 23 Human Rights Watch Report). When not detained, Papuan dissenters are subject to intimidation though intrusive and menacing monitoring, anonymous death threats, or other such warnings.

A key component enforcing the Indonesian central government's "security approach" in West Papua is the Indonesian "special forces" or " Kopassus." According to a recent Kopassus publication, "Kopassus Untuck Indonesia" (Kopassus for Indonesia) there are approximately 1,000 Kopassus personnel stationed in West Papua, including elements in nearly every Caudate (district). Their mission is to monitor, conduct covert operations against and intimidate the local population. In major towns and cities they often infiltrate media, NGOs, local government and where possible, places of worship. In Merauke, Kopassus personnel joined the Ohan ("hunter) team set up by the District Chief John Gluba Gebze. The principal focus of this team is to intimidate Papuans who oppose the new food estate plan for the region, strongly backed by the District Chief. U.S.-trained Kopassus Major Agus Bhakti is part of that team. Bhakti was the commander of the unit which figured in the Human Rights Watch June 2009 report which described extensive abuse meted out to Papuans in the Merauke area.

Along the 760 km border between West Papua and Papua New Guinea The Indonesian military has established 220 posts, utilizing schools, clinics and local offices for billeting. The border posts are mostly manned by Kostrad soldiers.

Kopassus only maintains several of them, including two posts in the Merauke area. Kopassus operates through these posts and functions largely as the intelligence arms for these posts.

Vanuatu Steps Forward to Support Papuan Political Rights
The Government of the Pacific Islands state of Vanuatu has taken unprecedented steps to support the self-determination of Papuans in West Papua. Vanuatu's parliament on June 19 unanimously passed a motion calling for the International Court of Justice to investigate the legality of Indonesia's annexation of West Papua. The motion was sponsored by Prime Minister Edward Natapei and opposition leader Maxime Carlot Korman.
The motion calls for Vanuatu to petition the UN General Assembly to direct the World Court to provide a legal opinion regarding the manner in which the mainly Melanesian and Christian western half of New Guinea island was incorporated into the Asian and Islamic country of Indonesia over four decades ago. International scholars and other observers have long described the 1969 "Act of Free Choice," which Jakarta used to justify its annexation, as fraudulent.
A June 23 Radio New Zealand International report by Johnny Blades provides insight on the complicated process:

Vanuatu will seek support of the UN General Assembly to formally request the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to provide an advisory opinion on the process in which the former Netherlands New Guinea was ceded to Indonesia. The ICJ opinion will then go back to the General Assembly, which at that point would decide whether there should be a referendum in West Papua. Blades' report cites Papua analyst Jim Elmslie from Sydney University as noting the significance of the Vanuatu action which does not require the consent of Indonesia. "The lack of consent of an interested party is not an obstacle to the ICJ rendering an opinion. Any UN member state can seek an advisory opinion on the question of the status of West Papua, provided that General Assembly support can be attained."

Blades notes that lobbying for support at the General Assembly can be expected to be intense, but Elmslie says that Indonesia would have little to gain from trying to block efforts to seek an ICJ opinion. "If it were to be blocked, it certainly would not make Indonesia look good and if it comes out as being an opinion that the Act of Free Choice was fraudulent and not within UN guidelines, then that would again be a very serious setback for Indonesia."
The Vanuatu motion also seeks an opinion on Indonesia's licensing of a mining concession in Papua to U.S.-based Freeport McMoran under President Suharto.
In the discussion of the motion Prime Minister Natapei told parliamentarians that his government would also seek to re-list Papua with the UN Decolinization Committee.

The June 19 Valuatu Parliament resolution also called for Vanuatu to press for observer status for West Papua at the 2010 Melanesian Spearhead Group's Leaders Summit and at the Pacific Islands Forum.

Earthquake Causes Serious Damage in Yapen Island
On June 16 a 7.1 (Richter scale) earthquake created extensive damage on Yapen island in West Papua. Presidential spokesperson Andi Arif told media that the quake killed 17 people and displaced thousands. He reported that 2556 houses had been destroyed and many others damaged. The quake leveled dozens of schools, 33 places of worship, damaged port facilities at three harbors and also damaged a 27 km water pipeline.

A senior local political leader was highly critical of the central government for what she claimed was a slow and inadequate Jakarta response to the devastation. The local district council urged the central government to act quickly to address the needs of the displaced.

Racism Infects Perspective of Some Indonesians Regarding Papuans
At a 1998 stadium rally for a major Indonesian presidential candidate delegations from all of Indonesia's provinces, one by one, take the field to cheers from the thousands in attendance. By far the loudest and most raucous reception is reserved for the delegation from West Papua ("Irian Jaya" at the time). Unlike the stately processions from the other provinces, the delegation from West Papua races wildly onto to the field bounding about half naked in feathers and jungle leaves. The cavorting and whooping delights the audience which cheers the antics. What the audience does not know is that underneath the feather and leave headdresses, the "Papuans" have close cropped hair. They are in fact Indonesian military in blackface makeup and costumes.
Fast forward to 2010. The Jakarta Globe reports, without a hint of skepticism that Indonesia's national census takers have reported their discovery of an unusual tribe of Papuans:

"They live in trees and their bodies are not covered," ... (and) cannot speak Indonesian. When the (census) officials conducted the census, the report explains, missionaries served as translators by way of crude sign language. The tribe purportedly survives by hunting in the forest where, the official said, they consume leaves and the meat of wild animals from the forest. They also eat stones," he said.

In a separate June 25 report carried in Le Monde relays the following quote by a Papuan currently studying for a position in the Jakarta-created local Papuan bureaucracy. Commenting on the dilemma facing many Papuans considering working within the Indonesian bureaucracy the article reports the following:

"Instead of independence we have 'special autonomy,'" said Agus. "That status was declared by the central government in January 2002. It is so special nobody trusts it. All I know is I will at last get a job in a new district in the south of Papua. To separatist Papuans, I am a traitor. To most of our Javanese teachers, I am a monkey they are trying to lure down from the trees. I just want to feed my family."

Some years ago, a Papuan intellectual with international publications in three languages, was asked if Papuans considered themselves to be Indonesian. "That is the wrong question," he replied: "Indonesia does not consider us to be Indonesians."





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