West Papua Report
This is the 84th 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
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President Boediono has begun implementation of a Presidential decree calling for
the establishment of an inter-governmental agency to examine problems in West
Papua. The initiative falls far short of widespread Papuan calls for a
senior-level, internationally mediated dialogue between Indonesian officials and
Papuans. A senior Papuan civil society leader has spoken out against this
continued failure of Jakarta to engage in serious dialogue. Papuan church
leaders have charged the Indonesian government with "genocide" in West
Papua. The Melanesian Spearhead Group again failed to invite representatives
from West Papua to its annual summit, instead inviting the Indonesian government
to send observers. Indonesian officials violated the labor rights of Papuans by
jailing nurses who called a peaceful, legal strike. A leading Papuan NGO chief
has called for elimination of provisions in the Indonesian criminal code that
violate Indonesia's obligations under international conventions to which it is
The Government of
Indonesia Continues to Ignore Papuan Calls for Dialogue
The Jakarta Post reported that Indonesian Vice President Boediono planned to
convene a meeting on West Papua on March 28 in Jakarta. The meeting was to be
the initial step in formulating a draft of a presidential decree to address
issues regarding Papua. The regulation also aims to establish a special unit to
accelerate development in Papua. According to the decree,
the government will form a "delivery unit," the Unit Percepatan
Pembangunan Papua dan Papua Barat (UP4B/ Special Unit for the Acceleration
of Development in Papua and West Papua). Significant aspects of the draft
include the promotion of a cluster-based approach to development, and an
increased integration of the activities of the central and regional
administrations. The planned regulation follows a presentation made by Papua
Governor Barnabas Suebu and West Papua Governor Abraham Ocktavianus Atnuri to
the national Cabinet in January.
late March meeting was to have included Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta
Rajasa and Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo, as well as unnamed Papuan
A March 9 interview by the Sydney Morning Herald's Tom Allard
revealed the Vice President’s intentions. Boediono told Allard that he rejected
a bilateral dialogue, as called for by many Papuans, contending instead that his
agency would assist multiparty communications. Boediono said he would welcome
international donor aid money for West Papua but rejected any possible mediation
role such as occurred in Aceh in 2005 when a peace accord mediated by
internationally ended years of central government abuses carried out by security
forces. Boediono told Allard that his new effort would aim at better
communications, affirmative action for indigenous Papuans, and "more openness."
(The Jakarta government has long placed severe restrictions on journalists, UN
and foreign government or NGO personnel seeking to visit West Papua.) Boediono
offered no assurances that he would press for allowing Papuans the right to fly
the Morning Star flag or that the heavy military presence in West Papua might be
Vice President Boediono made clear
that this undertaking would not constitute a "dialogue." There is no
indication that this new body will address outstanding issue of human rights
violations, impunity for those committing those abuses, notably in the
military and police. This body will almost certainly not consider the civil,
political, social, economic and cultural rights, especially the right of
WPAT Comment: Boediono's
"agency" falls far short of persistent appeals by Papuan officials, civil
society leaders as well as Papuan, Indonesian and international NGOs for a
senior level, internationally-mediated dialogue between the Indonesian
government and Papuan leaders. Indeed, Boediono, in his Sydney Morning Herald
interview, made clear that this undertaking would not constitute a "dialogue."
There is no indication that this new body will address outstanding issue of
human rights violations, impunity for those committing those abuses, notably in
the military and police. This body will almost certainly not consider the civil,
political, social, economic and cultural rights, especially the right of self
determination, which the central government has long denied Papuans.
Senior Papuan Faults Government Failure to Pursue
Participation of Papuan
provincial level officials in Vice Boediono's meeting regarding West Papua (see
report above) reflects the unwillingness of Papuan government officials to
support the widespread call of their Papuan constituents for an
internationally-mediated dialogue with the Jakarta government. Pastor Neles
Tebay, coordinator of the Papua Peace Network - JDP discussed this failure of
Papuan leadership candidly in a March 25
interview with JUBI.
Tebay noted frankly that neither of the provincial governments (Papua and West
Papua) have reached agreement about the agenda of such a dialogue. Nor have
either of the Papuan administrations issued statements officially supporting
Jakarta-Papua dialogue. Tebay candidly assessed that the Papuan officials'
failure to endorse the popular calls for dialogue was because dialogue "is seen
as being a separatist move and in opposition to what the Indonesian state is
working for." "Any individual who works for the government who expresses support
for the idea of a Jakarta-Papua dialogue is in danger of losing his job because
he is likely to be seen as a separatist. Anyone working for the government who
expresses support for a dialogue places himself in danger and could lose his
job,' he said.
For his part, Father Tebay continues to pursue dialogue as a means of finding
solutions to problems besetting Papuans. Tebay stressed that dialogue was not in
itself a solution but rather would bring together the Papuan people and the
Indonesian government to discuss the problems. The aim would be to discuss the
problems and agree to the best possible solution.
Pastor Tebay said that so far, he has visited twelve districts in Papua to hold
consultations. The districts he has visited so far include Merauke, Biak
Enarotali, Timika, Wamena and Sorong.
He has also visited some other countries to discuss the question of dialogue
including PNG, Vanuatu and Australia where he met Papuans in a number of cities.
Everywhere he went, he encountered enthusiasm for the idea of finding a peaceful
solution by means of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua.
Papuan Church Leaders Charge the Indonesian
Government with "Genocide"
Papuan Church leaders in late March issued a "Theological
Declaration of Churches in Papua." The declaration includes one
of the most forthright Papuan statements regarding genocide targeting Papuans.
The statement which was forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (see full
A Statement from a Group of Papuan Church Leaders)
Transmigration policy and unrelenting
military operations are, in our view well-planned programs to eventually
annihilate indigenous Papuans. Papuans are positioned as "the other" and as
such warrant surveillance, control, and civilization. Papuans are not equal
citizens of Indonesia. Some observers in Jakarta view this as an internal
colonialism or disguised slavery against Papuans.
undergone a 'silent history of suffering' or memmoria passsionis
leading to genocide. ... The term genocide perhaps does not meet the
criteria set forth by the UN, or other nations, or by Indonesia. But from
our own view as victims, genocide is indeed taking place through the
conditioning staged by Jakarta in the forms of ideology and development
policies that are against the indigenous Papuans. Transmigration policy and
unrelenting military operations are, in our view well-planned programs to
eventually annihilate indigenous Papuans. Papuans are positioned as "the
other" and as such warrant surveillance, control, and civilization. Papuans
are not equal citizens of Indonesia. Some observers in Jakarta view this as
an internal colonialism or disguised slavery against Papuans.
Spearhead Group Invites Indonesia as Observer,
Continues to Bar Papuan Participation
Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit members and observers.
The Melanesian Spearhead
Group (MSG), comprising Vanuatu, the Solomon Island, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and
the Kanaky peoples of New Caledonia, invited Indonesia (and Timor-Leste) to join
their annual meeting. MSG leaders met March 31 in Suva, Fiji, for the annual
followed a meeting of foreign ministers March 29. The MSG did not invite any
representation from West Papua.
A conference of solidarity
groups supporting West Papua that convened in Sydney in February had
called on the MSG not to offer observer status to Indonesia and instead to
offer that status to representatives of the Papuan people of West Papua.
For its part,
the Australian West Papua Association (AWPA) welcomed a statement from the
Chairman of the MSG meeting, Ratu Inoke Kubuabol who said that "The Melanesia
Spearhead Group feels for their brothers and sisters in West Papua." Joe Collins
of AWPA said "we urge the MSG to grant West Papua membership at the leaders
summit. They would have the support of the Melanesian people across the region
in granting West Papua membership."
Collins noted that 42% included West Papua as part of the Melanesian family
in the first ever telephone poll
the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP) across Melanesia..
An overwhelming majority (75.4%) of respondents said yes to the question “Do you
support independence for West Papua.”
PiPP in a press release reported that when asked who they considered part of
the Melanesian family, clear majorities included the established members (PNG,
Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia) while 42% also included West
Papua, 17.1% included Australia, 14.9% included Indonesia and 14.1% included
Timor-Leste. PiPP also reported that when asked “Do you support independence for
West Papua?” there was very high support in PNG (89.3%) and Vanuatu (88.2%).
Collins underscored that
these numbers suggest a "disconnect between popular support and the position
taken by governments in the region, except Vanuatu, which has long championed
the West Papuan cause at the political level. He concluded, "we see that in the
poll only 14.9% of respondents considered Indonesia to be part of the Melanesian
family yet Indonesia has observer status but not West Papua. For the sake of the
long term stability of the region we hope West Papua will be discussed at the
The meeting in Suva was
controversial because Fiji is currently under military dictatorship.
WPAT Comment: West Papua is the largest Melanesian populated entity not
represented within the MSG and the second largest Melanesian entity, after Papua
New Guinea. Its continued exclusion from the MSG calls into question the
legitimacy of the organization. Moreover, the MSG's failure address the plight
of Papuans, including ethnic cleansing under the rubric of "transmigration" and
charges of "genocide" by credible organizations (see statement by Papuan church
leaders above) exposes the lack of commitment among Melanesian leaders to the
rights and welfare of Melanesian peoples. Vanuatu's repeated and public
expressions of concern about the plight of Papuans is a singular but noteworthy
exception in this regard.
Nurses Jailed in Violation
of International Convention
Mounting public pressure, including from members of the Papuan Provincial
Assembly (DPRP), compelled the police to announce they would release eight
nurses who had been jailed on charges of incitement (article 335 of the criminal
code). However, purportedly because of the absence of a key police official
required to sign the release order, it appears the nurses had not yet been
released at the end of March.
These West Papuan nurses
were pursuing their legitimate rights and it is obscene to think they are
languishing in jail.
eight had been jailed over their call for a strike by nurses at the DokII
General Hospital. That strike, a peaceful, lawful labor action, was over
promised but unpaid compensation. Letters have been sent to President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono, as well as to Vice-President Boediono protesting the arrest
of five nurses and midwives who work at the general hospital for organizing a
The detention of the nurses violates their rights notably as set forth in
International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 87 (Freedom of Association
and Protection of the Right to Organize), which was ratified by Indonesia in
The issue of the unpaid compensation remains unresolved. The local daily
Bintang Papua reported on March
23 that nurses and midwives had taken the issue to the DPRD and the provincial
governor where hundreds demonstrated. They charged that the provincial secretary
Constan Karmadi had deceived the public when he promised in December 2010 that
incentives would be paid.
The medical staff are planning to make a formal complaint against the provincial
secretary to the Administrative Court, pointing out that Instruction 125/2010
has been issued for the payment of the incentives, only to be cancelled by a
later instruction that withdrew any such payments.
There is growing international attention to the arrests and the failure of the
Indonesian government to meet is contract obligations to the nurses. Australian
Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Ged Kearney has
described the detention of the nurses as "outrageous" and called for their
immediate release. She noted as well that "the arrests of the nurses, including
two officials of the National Union of Indonesian nurses, was a heavy handed
response to nurses pursuing a legitimate industrial campaign in support of their
contracted entitlements. "
“These West Papuan nurses were pursuing their
legitimate rights and it is obscene to think they are languishing in jail,”
Demand for Elimination of Repressive Provisions in
The Indonesian Criminal Code
The Papuan publication
JUBI published an appeal
on March 31 by the executive
director of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid
(LP3BH) Yan Christian Warinussy to the Dewan Adat Papua (DAP, Papuan Customary
Council) to submit articles 106 and 107 of the criminal code on subversion and
incitement (the 'makar' or subversion articles) of the Indonesian
Criminal Code (KUHP) to the Constitutional Court for a judicial review.
“I call on DAP together with the Papuan people to seek a judicial review of the
makar article before the Constitutional Court because it is no longer
appropriate for such a law to remain in force in a democratic country like
Indonesia. Other democratic states around the world don't have such a law,” he
Many international organizations, including WPAT and ETAN have long called for
the removal of these provisions from the Indonesian criminal code. The
provisions date to the colonial era and were frequently used during the Suharto
dictatorship to repress peaceful opposition. Indonesian officials continue to
employ them to repress popular, peaceful dissent, particularly in West Papua
where Suharto era practices, including unjust prosecution, persist.
The provisions violate the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the
International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights to which
Indonesia is signatory.