West Papua Report
This is the 83rd 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
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Newly obtained video footage reveals Indonesian
security forces, including U.S. and Australian-backed Detachment 88 personnel,
brutality in operations in West Papua's Central Highlands. Indonesian NGOs and
prominent Papuans have faulted President Yudhoyono's newly announced approach to
dialogue with Papuans with criticism of Jakarta's failure to end human rights
violations and impunity by security forces as a basis for dialogue. Papuans
criticized Jakarta's selection of a limited range of Papuans as dialogue
partners and have urged a role for international mediators. A prominent West
African leader has announced support for West Papua's self-determination. The
chair of the Papuan Peoples Council (DAP) denounced the Indonesian government's
policy of transmigration. The Asian Legal Resource Center has appealed to the UN
Human Rights Council to address continued security force abuse of human rights
in West Papua. A Papuan political prisoner who is gong blind as a result of an
attack by a prison warder needs urgent care. A report from within West Papua
details land grabs by the Indonesian military and "developers" which have
targeted Papuans in the Sorong area. Hamish McDonald considers Papuans'
struggle for self-determination in the light of recent similar successful
examples within the international community.
New Video Footage
Reveals Indonesian Military Brutality
Video footage released in early February reveals previously unseen Indonesian
military brutality against Papuan civilians in Kapeso in 2009. The footage was
released by West Papua Media and can be viewed here:
The video shows the late May 2009 raid on the Kapeso airstrip in the village of
Kampung Bagusa in Mamberamo regency by troops from Indonesia's elite police
counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88 as well as other security personnel from
BRIMOB and other units.
Detachment 88 was created at behest of the U.S. government and receives
significant U.S. and Australian Government funding and training assistance.
The footage, filmed by a Detachment 88 officer on his mobile phone, shows the
immediate aftermath of a raid to retake the airfield which had been occupied for
several weeks by a small armed group and a large number of villagers. The bodies
of at least five dead are visible on the ground and sporadic gunfire is clearly
heard. It appears that the footage was taken well after the killing took place.
Footage depicting security personnel taking cover behind desks appears to have
been staged to suggest the conflict was continuing.
Disturbing scenes at the end of the footage appear to show two Papuan children
tied up and being forced at gunpoint to crawl along the floor by the Indonesian
military. The footage continues to show them in apparent pain while the soldiers
taunt them. In another scene troops are shown firing at civilians cowering in
Indonesian authorities have not investigated events surrounding the Kapeso
occupation and shooting of civilians by security forces.
West Papua media commented that such footage of brutal Indonesian security force
actions, amounting to 'trophy footage,' is rampant among troops operating in
For all media enquiries please contact Nick Chesterfield at West Papua Media on
email@example.com or +61409268978
In September 2010, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and
West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT)
called for suspension of U.S.
aid to Detachment 88 "pending review of charges leveled against the unit for
systemic human rights violations, including use of torture."
Government's "Dialogue" Approach with Papuans Faulted
The "Alliance for Papua" on February 25
issued a press statement that critiqued a government plan for dialogue with
Papuans. The statement called on the government to better synchronize its plans
for the dialogue with the reality of politics in Papua. (See below for
composition of this NGO alliance.)
The Alliance for Papua urged that the
government to create appropriate conditions for dialogue by undertaking to
"consistently protect and comply with the basic rights of the Papua people
by ensuring that there is no repetition of violations of Papuan human
rights." The alliance also urged that the government review the presence of
the TNI security forces and the undercover security operations "that
continue to occur."
The initial government approach calls for two
presidential assistants to engage in dialogue with Papuans who would be
represented by the Papuan branch of the National Human Rights Commission
(Komnas HAM), the Papuan People's Council (MRP), and the churches. The two
presidential assistants are Bambang Darmono and Farid Husein.
The Alliance for Papua urged that the government to create appropriate
conditions for dialogue by undertaking to "consistently protect and comply with
the basic rights of the Papua people by ensuring that there is no repetition of
violations of Papuan human rights." The alliance also urged that the government
review the presence of the TNI security forces and the undercover security
operations "that continue to occur."
According to the alliance, the government also should not proceed with the
election of members of the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua, Papuan People's Council).
The MRP is an institution that was mandated by Papua's special autonomy law
(OTSUS). The vast majority of the Papuan people have declared that OTSUS has
failed "because it has not taken sides with, given protection to, empowered and
fulfilled the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people."
The alliance points out that the government has nevertheless pressed ahead with
the election of a second-term MRP in 15 districts of Papua. The second-term MRP
is due to be sworn into office soon. The alliance objects to proceeding with the
seating of the MRP because the election of MRP members "has not been transparent
and has failed to comply with the [mandated] electoral stages." The alliance
also contends that the counting of the votes has been deeply fraudulent.
The alliance argues that seating the fraudulently elected MRP members "will only
reinforce the Papuan people's sense of disappointment towards a government that
lacks any understanding and has shown no respect for local Papuan feelings."
For his part, the outgoing chairperson of the MRP, Forkorus Yoboisembut
criticized the government approach to dialogue by arguing that those Papuan
groups that the government has announced as dialogue partners are not
representative of the people because they don't fully understand the Papuan
problem. He contended that the government approach to dialogue would amount to
the government talking to itself " because they are all within the same system,
and this would solve nothing." He urged instead that the dialogue be with DAP
(Dewan Adat Papua, Papuan Traditional Council) , the Papuan resistance (OPM),
the Papuan parliament, and other Papuan groups.
Separately, the executive director of LP3BH,Yan Christian Warinussy said a
neutral party should mediate the Jakarta-Papua talks, He suggested an
international group such as the Henri Dunant Centre or a foreign country with
experience in handling conflict resolution, including Aceh.
WPAT Note: The Alliance for Papua in Jakarta was set up as an expression of
solidarity with humanitarianism, in support of fellow human beings in their
struggle for justice and truth. The Alliance includes KontraS, ANBTI, IKOHI,
Imparsial, Foker LSM Papua, Setara Institute, HRWG, Komnas Perempuan, FNMPP,
IPPMAUS, Forum Papua Kalimantan, PGI, Walhi, JIRA, LBH Pers.
West African Leader Supports Papuan Self
|Benny Wenda with Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade.
WestPan, Canada's West Papua Action Network,
the President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade has become the first African leader to
publicly back West Papua's bid for self determination, stating that "West Papua
is now an issue for all black Africans."
His comments came in late January during a conference in Senegal's capital
Dakar, attended by Benny Wenda, a West Papuan activist who was granted political
asylum by the British Government in 2003. Benny Wenda addressed the audience,
telling them about the situation in his homeland. Following his address
Wenda presented the President with a Papuan headdress, and was warmly
embraced by him. The President then addressed the audience, urging all African
nations to take attention to the West Papua issue and do whatever they can to
In 1969, when Indonesia, with the backing of the United States, sought UN
approval for its annexation of West Papua through the fraudulent "Act of Free
Choice," it encountered significant resistance in West Africa where the memories
of colonialism were still strong.
Papuan People's Council Condemns Transmigration
as Harmful to Local People
Responding to a report that the government plans to send more transmigrants to
Papua, the chair of Dewan Adat Papua (Papuan People's Council) Forkorus
asserted that continuation of transmigration would transform the Papuan people
into a minority in their own lands and trigger conflicts. "'As the
representative of the adat (traditional) people in Papua, I reject the
transmigration program which fails to safeguard the position of the local
people," he said.
Forkorus's statement came after media reports that the central government has
allocated Rp 600 billion to pay for the transmigration of people from Indonesia
to a number of so-called "under-populated" places in the Indonesian
archipelago, including Papua.
"I hope the central government will consider this matter carefully because the
transmigration program to Papua has already resulted in the marginalization of
the indigenous people in the context of (so-called) development work," Forkorus
Forkorus said that the location of transmigrants in many places in Papua has
made it difficult for the local communities to preserve their own culture and
lifestyles. Development of more luxurious migrant lifestyles, he explained,
intensifies the marginalization of the local people.
In addition, because the government has lavished attention on the transmigrants,
feelings of envy emerge.
Forkorus also noted that Papuans' marginalization in their own homeland is
evidenced by the cat that vast majority of those now running the economy are
non-Papuans. Forkorus added that Papuans are not yet able to compete with the
newcomers in economic affairs.
(WPAT Comment: Papuans rank at the bottom in Indonesia in terms of central
government provision of health care, education services and employment creation.
In the province of West Kalimantan, decades of central government driven
"transmigration" has transformed the indigenous Dayak into a minority in their
homeland and led to conflicts, particularly with Madurese transmigrants, along
the lines of Forkorus's concerns. The policy, abandoned during the Suharto
dictatorship due to international condemnation, has been resumed under the
Yudhoyono administration despite criticism that it is tantamount to ethnic
Human Rights Council Hears Urgent Appeal
Regarding Human Rights Abuse in West Papua
On February 22, the Human Rights Council heard an urgent plea from the Asian
Legal Resource Center (ALRC) regarding worsening human rights abuse in West
Papua and the impunity accorded perpetrators of that abuse.
The statement said in part:
The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
is seriously concerned by ongoing, widespread human rights violations and
violent acts being committed by the Indonesian security forces in the Papuan
highlands in Indonesia. Impunity typically accompanies even the most
serious abuses, as shown by the lack of effective remedies in a case of
severe torture that the ALRC has documented recently. Despite institutional
reforms in Indonesia, effective accountability for human rights violations
in Papua is lacking, resulting in impunity that then engenders further
Impunity and the sense of injustice that it engenders in society are having
a strong impact on social stability and cohesion in Papua. Repression,
discrimination and human rights violations by the Indonesian security forces
are adding to tensions. Papuans reportedly feel like second-class citizens
in Indonesia, even within Papua itself, and face discrimination, poverty and
injustice as a result. The military arbitrarily suspect Papuans of being
linked with rebel groups and stigmatize them, subjecting them to abuse.
The ALRC statement recounts two of the more
flagrant examples of abuse and impunity where military personnel were videoed
beating and torturing Papuan civilians (see
Report December 2010). Those prosecuted for this received minimal sentences.
The ALRC statement comments:
The government of Indonesia continues to
deny the widespread use of violence by the Indonesian military in Papua, and
alleges that these violations are rare and isolated, individual cases.
However, the ALRC continues to receive further cases of violence against
indigenous Papuans, including killings by the police and military, arbitrary
arrests, the burning of houses and killing of livestock, which point to a
widespread pattern of the use of violence, as well as a policy of
intimidation by the Indonesian military.
penal code does not include torture as a crime. This means that members of
the police that commit torture remain immune from criminal prosecution.
Indonesia is therefore failing to comply with its obligations under the
Convention Against Torture.
The statement underscores the inadequacy of the
Indonesian military and civilian court systems for addressing the continuing
Human rights violations and other crimes
committed against civilians by members of the military are still only tried
by military courts, which lack independence, transparency, a comprehensive
penal code incorporating human rights norms, and a system of punishments
that are proportional to the severity of the crimes committed. A military
tribunal is not able to hold perpetrators of torture accountable in line
with international law standards. Such tribunals cannot invoke any military
regulations that prohibit the use of torture. Therefore, perpetrators cannot
be tried for committing torture and no remedies can therefore be provided to
Furthermore, the country's penal code does not include torture as a crime.
This means that members of the police that commit torture remain immune from
criminal prosecution. Indonesia is therefore failing to comply with its
obligations under the Convention Against Torture. Indonesia ratified the
Convention against Torture in 1998, but the use of torture is still
widespread and systematic...
The ALRC urgently calls for remedial action by
the Indonesian government:
Jakarta must ensure that the security
forces halt the use of excessive force and violence-based strategies in
dealing with security-related issues in Papua. Allegations of human rights
violations must be investigated and any lacuna in legislation and due
process must be addressed. For example, torture must be criminalized in line
with Indonesia's international obligations under the Convention Against
Torture. Military personnel who are alleged to be responsible for human
rights violations against civilians must be tried in civilian courts.
The ALRC also recommended that the Indonesian
government undertake steps to reduce tensions and address outstanding injustice:
...the ALRC urges the Indonesian
government to heed the call for dialogue made by the Papuan indigenous
community and avoid a
further deterioration of the conflict in Papua. Finally, the ALRC calls on
the Indonesian government to release all Papuan political prisoners,
in order to show its commitment to a new path towards peace, security and
human rights in Papua.
The ALRC underscored the role and
responsibility of the international community in addressing the ongoing abuses
The ALRC invites the Special Rapporteur
on the independence of judges and lawyers to recommend institutional reforms
to the government of Indonesia to ensure that members of the military are
held accountable by independent courts that uphold human rights and
constitutional values and ensure that these are made available to
legislators in Indonesia.
The ALRC also requests that the Special Rapporteur on torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment follow up with the
Indonesian government to ensure the full implementation of the
recommendations made to Indonesia during the UPR review regarding the review
of the penal code and the full criminalisation of torture.
Note: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an
independent regional non-governmental organization holding general consultative
status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the
sister organization of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based
group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human
rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.
Journalist Organization Chief Calls for Reporting on
Human Rights in West Papua
The chair of the the Papua chapter Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI)
speaking in Jayapura, urged the press in Papua to regularly monitor cases of
human rights violations in Papua, according to a report published in
February 11 JUBI and translated by TAPOL.
AJI's Victor Mambor emphasized the importance of the media reporting the human
rights situation in Papua saying this can help reduce acts of repression against
the civilian population.
He added that many reports about human rights in Papua were only available from
NGOs active in the field, and these were frequently quoted in reports that
appear in the media. He stressed the importance in ensuring that these reports
are accurate and credible. Journalists should provide the appropriate
references to make it easier for others to investigate the violations that
WPAT Comment: Reporting on human rights violations in West Papua,
particularly in instances where the TNI or police were involved, pose risks for
Manokwari area reporter Ardiansyah Matra was murdered in July 2010 following
his investigative reporting regarding police and military coercion targeting
civilians in the development of the MIFEE plantation project in Manokwari. AJI
following up on this case. Government restrictions placed on foreign
journalists and NGO personnel impede their access to West Papua and reporting on
human rights in the region.
Papuan Political Prisoner Denied Adequate
New concerns have been raised about the inadequate medical treatment afforded
prisoners of conscience Ferdinand Pakage. He is going blind following a
beating by prison authorities in 2010.
Peneas Lokbere, chair of SKPHP HAM Papua (Solidarity for the Victims of Human
Rights Violations in Papua),
told JUBI that his organization is continuing to press for medical treatment
for Ferdinand Pakage. "We will continue to fight for treatment after he was
struck in the eye by an official of the Abepura Prison. This caused his eye to
bleed and he is now not able to see any more with this eye" said Lokbere.
SKPHP is working with Pakage's family to press the prison authorities to speed
up medical attention to his condition. Lokbere explained that his organization
has been demanding treatment for Pakage since last year, when they sought
permission for him to go to Jakarta where treatment is available. However,
according to Lokbere, Prison Director Liberti Sitinjak refused permission for
any transfer of Pakage out of West Papua. Lokbere noted that in 2010, Pakage was
told by a doctor at the West Papua General Hospital in Dok II say that he needed
to have an operation in Jakarta. The doctor said that his eye was badly damaged
and that even if he does get medication in Jakarta, he will continue to be
Pakage was assaulted by prison warders Alberth Toam, Victor Apono and Gustaf
Rumaikewi while in detention in Abepura. Toam struck the blow that injured
Pakage's eye. None of the warders has been held responsible for this assault.
Pakage is now held in custody with common criminals, including those convicted
of violent crimes.
Military and Military-Backed "Developers" Seize Papuan Lands
A Sorong-area leader has illegally transferred Papuan tribal lands to the
Indonesian military (TNI) and to non-Papuans. The transferred land is vitally
important, affording resources that are key to Papuan survival. Victims include
Papuans belonging to various clans and tribes including the Osok, Mambringofok
Idik and Fadan peoples in Klamono and Semugu and Kalaibin among others. The TNI
has employed terror and intimidation targeting local Papuans to enforce the land
transfers. The land sites are located along the Sorong to Klamono road at
kilometer markers 16, 38 and 49 in the western end of the territory.
The military and non-Papuan developers will exploit the land for military base
construction and oil palm plantation development. Specifically, local District
Chief (Regent) Stefanus Malak provided land to the navy at km 16 and to the
army at Km 38 to build a bases (the latter land belongs to the Semugu clan).
Land was also transferred to the TNI, without tribal consent, at Km 49. This
site will be used by the TNI to develop a palm oil plantation.
Seizure of land by the TNI, especially through use of force, violates various
international obligations undertaken by Indonesia including the
UN Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous People Article 30:
"1. Military activities shall not take
place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by
a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed to or requested by
the indigenous peoples concerned.
"2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous
peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through
their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or territories
for military activities."
Papuan Self-Determination Struggle in Context of Similar Recent Successful
The Sydney Morning Herald on February 26 published an analysis comparing
Papua's struggle for self-determination with some recent anti-colonial
"A Worm Inside the New Indonesia" by veteran journalist Hamish McDonald
draws on the experiences of south Sudan and Kosovo, two emerging nation states
as potential models for West Papua. McDonald, former Foreign Editor of the
Herald with extensive experience in Indonesia, concludes that these developments
have had the effect of rendering "respect for the territorial integrity of
states and post-colonial boundaries somewhat tattered."
Notwithstanding Indonesia's democratic
progress since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship, West Papua remains
"Indonesia's last and most intractable regional conflict.''
Indonesia has long insisted that the
international community affirmatively express public recognition of its
"territorial integrity" in the context of West Papua. Similarly, Indonesia once
demanded international recognition of its territorial integrity to include its
annexation of East Timor, though with less success.
McDonald cites Akihisa Matsuno of Osaka University as suggesting that between
Kosovo and southern Sudan, the later would appear to offer a more applicable
precedent for West Papua. Sudan became independent in 1956 from British rule,
but has been in civil war most of the time since. A 2005 peace agreement finally
conceded a referendum on independence by the south. This suggests to Matsuno
that a lack of integration between territories ruled by the same colonial power
can justify a separate state. McDonald writes that ''this means that colonial
boundaries are not as absolute as usually assumed.''
There is a broad international consensus that the 1969 Indonesian annexation of
West Papua was in violation of its UN mandate to administer the territory and
entailed a transparently fraudulent referendum, the "Act of Free Choice."
McDonald writes that Richard Chauvel, an Indonesia scholar at Melbourne's
Victoria University, described West Papua as Indonesia's ''Achilles' heel'' and
the conference. Chauvel argued that, notwithstanding Indonesia's democratic
progress since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship, West Papua remains
"Indonesia's last and most intractable regional conflict.'' As such, Chauvel
contends, ''Papua has become a battleground between a 'new' and an 'old'
Indonesia. The 'old' Indonesia considers that its soldiers torturing fellow
Indonesians in a most barbaric manner is an 'incident'. The 'new' Indonesia
aspires to the ideals of its founders in working towards becoming a progressive,
outward-looking, cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-faith society.''
McDonald concludes that, as demonstrated by the ongoing developments in the
Middle East, "the new media make it harder and harder to draw a veil over
suppression. In the Indonesia that is opening up, the exception of West Papua
will become more glaring."