This edition of the West Papua Report offers the
Perspective of a longtime observer of West Papua
who recently traveled to the Central Highlands, who reports the growing
militarization of the region and the negative impact of that military build
up on human rights and in stoking rising communal tensions. In
Update we note that the Indonesian military
will shortly begin a massive road project which will likely service military
rather than Papuan interests. New contract negotiations between the central
government and the Freeport-McMoRan mining operation are proceeding absent
West Papuan participation and without regard for their interests. The new
Governor of Papua province appears not to understand problems of development
and security facing the region. Papuans have again called for an end to the
presence of the notorious "Special Forces" (Kopassus) in their homeland. Indonesian and international calls for an end to the impunity
accorded Indonesian military leaders and personnel for human rights abuses
That impunity gives license to continuing abuse and criminal activity by the
military. WPNCL pressed it case to have West Papua join the Melanesia
Support Group at a meeting with Fiji Prime Minister Banimarama.
highlights two first-hand accounts of the Wamena area and a review of Eben
Kirksey's Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of
CHALLENGES IN WEST PAPUA
The following Perspective comes from a source who has spent years in West
Papua and who recently visited the Central Highland. For his protection this
report is published anonymously.
- Daily life in West Papua has been militarized as evidenced by the
extensive posting of military personnel to the area (Papua and West
Papua provinces). This is especially notable in the Timika and
neighboring Highlands' Districts such as Puncak Jaya, Puncak and Paniai
where the intensity of conflict between the Indonesian military (TNI)
and the Papuan independence movement (OPM) has been building up over the
last couple of years. The militarization has also triggered "horizontal"
conflicts among ethnic groups and tribal groups. There is also growing
violence between people with competing economic interests.
- The TNI has established new physical centers (buildings and
other infrastructure) for regional commands, which also automatically
means that more personnel have been moved to the area. The latest such
expansion is that of Kodim 1714 (Commandant District Military) in Mulia
(in the district Puncak Jaya), which as a result of years of conflict is
regarded as a "high profile" area. Moreover, in almost all the areas
military/intelligence agents/police are "undercover" working as
motor-taxi drivers, chainsaw operators and/or disguised as owners of
shops/kiosks, small companies, entertainment complexes, transport
facilities, and such. Close observers question the extent to which the
conflicts in certain districts are "pure conflicts," or rather the
creation of the Indonesian security forces. Suspicion that the security
forces are creating these conflicts is based on the reality that their
presence generates a cash flow to these forces. There are many
indications that indeed there is great deal of "creative conflict
construction" and this is done without taking into account the price to
be paid for it in the number of possible victims.
In almost all the cases, the main profitable areas are slowly "occupied" by
people from outside Papua who deny the local Papuans their traditional ownership
and land rights. These "traders" are normally well connected with security
forces who also profit. Various efforts by activists (locally as well as from
Jayapura) to get these illegal activities stopped have always met with a
stonewall erected by senior authorities.
- Not surprisingly the mere presence of the Indonesian military
and police (POLRI) often leads to conflict owing to their "all mighty"
and arrogant manner. This problem is exacerbated by the very limited
education level and/or experience of the these security personnel. In
the area of the town of Enarotali the police currently are conducting
"sweeps" of mobile phones to determine whether there are local Papuan
songs or symbols of independence recorded on the phones. If so, the
memory card is destroyed and the empty phone is handed back to the
owner. There are also many police/military posts along the roads, and at
any of these "roadblocks" you have to pay to get through. These posts
and their extortion of local people disrupts movement by the local
community and economic life to a significant level and invariably
creates fear and hatred among the Papuans.
- The position of the security forces is also often linked to
economic interests. In the Timika and the neighboring Highlands'
districts there are locations where gold is found. This attracts many
people. In almost all the cases, the main profitable areas are slowly
"occupied" by people from outside Papua who deny the local Papuans their
traditional ownership and land rights. These "traders" are normally well
connected with security forces who also profit. Various efforts by
activists (locally as well as from Jayapura) to get these illegal
activities stopped have always met with a stonewall erected by senior
authorities who are in the position to close down these often illegal
economic activities but will not. Involvement of the security forces in
these activities continues even though the military is not allowed to
- Another factor that complicates the life of ordinary Papuans
is that the security forces work together with some OPM (Organisasi
Papua Merdeka/Free Papua Movement) factions. Both parties profit from
their dealings. This is very confusing as OPM factions in principle are
expected to fight for the interest of the Papuan indigenous community.
However these armed resistance elements once in a while reach
understandings with the security forces and are paid well for this
collaboration. The main victim in this "game" is the normal
citizen/community. They are squeezed between the OPM and the security
forces, both of whom demand the support of the community. A lot of the
conflicts, at the end of the day, are more based on money than noble
- Another current trend is the appearance of "groupings"
consisting of young people. These groups seem to gather people who "have
ambitions," "are frustrated," "have nothing to do," and don't seem to
have a very clear agenda. It is often unclear under whose protection
they operate. This worrisome trend recalls the phenomenon of gangs and
militia in Timor-Leste formed by the Indonesian military during the
years preceding the 1999 referendum.
- It appears that the central government's effectively supports
these developments. As evidence of this is, over the past year there
seems to be a strategy of criminalizing any protests or public
criticism. A clear example of this over the last half a year is the
effort by the police and military to blame KNPB (Komite Nasional Papua
Barat/West Papua National Committee) for purported "criminal activity."
Since about 2008 KNPB has developed itself as one of the most vocal
activist movements that has pushed for a referendum on Papua's future.
Since mid 2012 the group has been linked by the police to such criminal
activities as fatal shootings in Jayapura. They are also linked to
buying weapons, while the military/police themselves are often mentioned
as most probable players in the illegal trade of weapons. All these
allegations by the security forces and government have resulted in the
loss of the KNPB's image (nationally as well as internationally) as a
"peaceful movement." There are also reports that KNPB individuals
members have been paid by the military. This targeting of the group has
accelerated the KNPB members criminalization and legitimized security
force pursuit of the KNPB. It has also led to the killing, detention,
torture etc. of the main figures in the organization. The security
forces have started sweeps, arresting KNPB members, all over Papua. In
Timika a court process continues against six KNPB members who are
accused of possessing weapons (including traditional bow and arrows).
These accusations often are very far fetched and hardly believable. In
the Wamena area, the KNPB is alleged to be involved with "bomb making";
while in Sorong, Fakfak and Merauke, KNPB figures have been simply
killed or physically attacked.
- In recent months there has been an effort, supported by the central
government, to brand "separatist Papuans" (a stigma assigned to any
critical figure who dares to speak up) as "terrorists." This broadens
the basis for pursuing these activists and also legally empowers
Detachment 88 to join in the military and police efforts. Clearly, there
is little room for justice in these strategies applied by the security
Who Will Benefit From New Roads In West Papua?
The Jakarta Post on March 26 reported that the Indonesian government
plans to create 1,520 kms of new roads in West Papua. The plan, under the
supervision of the UP4B (Unit Percepatan Pembangunan untuk Papua dan Papua
Barat /Unit for Accelerated Development in Papua and West Papua) is to be
carried out by the Indonesian military, allegedly because there are "no
private contractors that have ability to do the job."
UP4B chief expert Doddy Imam Hidayat claims that "If we depend on the
ministry and local agencies to build the roads, it will take around 60 years
to complete. The TNI's deployment is aimed at speeding up the process at a
relatively low cost, as it is not seeking any financial profit." The US$154
million project, according to the report, is expected to involve 1000 TNI
WPAT Comment: West Papua (including the provinces that the
Indonesian government calls "Papua" and "West Papua") are among the
least developed of all the provinces, despite over four decades of
Indonesian occupation. But the decision to hand this project to the
military is very unfortunate in several regards: As in
Indonesian-occupied East Timor, it appears likely that the military will
develop roads to serve its interests, especially to enhance its tactical
mobility and to facilitate its business interests, notably both legal
and illegal timber operations. The expansion of the already bloated TNI
presence in West Papua by 1,000 personnel will only exacerbate the
burdens of that presence now born by the Papuan people.
Papuan Interests to Be Sacrificed in Putative
March 16 Jakarta Globe article reports that the Indonesian Government
has "softened" its position in contract re-negotiations with the U.S.-based
mining giant Freeport-McMoRan which for decades has wrought ecological havoc
and devastated local populations in West Papua.
The Globe writes that "Freeport has refused to meet the government's
requests on at least two of six key issues on which discussion was sought as
part of efforts to expand the economic benefits to Indonesia of resources
projects. The two are the obligation to build domestic processing facilities
such as smelters, and the requirement to reduce its concession area to no
more than 25,000 hectares." The government may be willing to allow expansion
of the Freeport mining operation if it agrees to build processing facilities
A new Mining Law enacted in 2009 would cut contract periods, reduce
concession areas, and increases royalty payments. It also requires foreign
miners to divest 51 percent of their share to local entities 10 years after
operation. The new law bans the export of raw materials, requiring their
processing in Indonesia.
Miners including Freeport and Newmont argue the new rules should only apply
to miners operating under new-generation permits. They sat they operate
under the older Contracts of Work. In response, the government want to
renegotiate those miners contracts in compliance with the new regulations.
WPAT COMMENT: Missing from the coverage is any indication of whether or
not the expanded processing facilities would be located in West Papua, a
step which might begin to address a key problem of massive unemployment
there. So it would seem that the Government is prepared to see the expansion
of the highly destructive Freeport mine operation in exchange for a pledge
by Freeport to locate processing operations elsewhere in the archipelago.
Papuan interests can only suffer in such an arrangement. It is significant
that there is no indication of any Papuan participation in these
New Governor and The Challenges Facing Papua
Lukas Enembe has been sworn in as new Governor of Papua. the larger of
two provinces in region of West Papua created without the consent of the
people. In March the Constitutional Court resolved the disputed February
election by ruling that Enembe had won the election with a 52 percent
|Gov. Lukas Enembe.
Photo from http://www.demokrat.or.id/
Yosei Eesbania in
the March 17 Jakarta Globe provides a thoughtful assessment of the
challenges facing Enembe. Eesbania compares Enembe's assessment of his tasks
with those of observers of the Papuan scene, including Poengky Indarti,
executive director of human rights monitor Imparsial and author of
"Securitization of Papua: Its Impact Towards Human Rights Situation" and
Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, the former head of the Political Research Center at the
Indonesian Institute of Sciences (P2P LIPI).
Enembe intends to focus his first 100 days on addressing the problems of
"conflict and violence" in the province. He believes that the root cause of
unrest is the province's underdevelopment, "high unemployment, poverty and a
lack of infrastructure." This he claims fuels calls for "separatism."
Poengky calls for better coordination between the legislature and the
People's Consultative Assembly (MRP) as well as between district chiefs,
traditional leaders, religious leaders, and other key figures. She urges
efforts to reduce corruption which afflicts every level of
government in Papua. Poengky also urged improvements in health, education
and income and emphasized the challenge of dealing with
the armed Papuan freedom fighters of the OPM.
Acknowledging and preserving Papuan cultures and traditions, to ensure that
the Papuan people no longer felt marginalized by development itself. is also
important. In an indirect reference to the role and responsibility of
security forces, Poengky said she hoped that the new governor could also
work with law enforcers to acknowledge that freedom of expression and social
criticism are not considered forms of rebellion.
For his part, Ikrar suggested a human development approach, embracing
education and improvements in health as key. Papua's Human Development
Index, taking into account life expectancy and education and income levels
attained in the province was 63.35 in 2012, the lowest in Indonesia. Ikrar
was critical of the siphoning off of Special Autonomy and other funds and
said that these funds must be directed to helping Papuans. Ikrar also called
for dialogue but complained that the OPM had no chain of command.
"Meanwhile, in Papua, who can represent the OPM, or people who demonstrate
in the forests? And what about the Papuan groups that demonstrate in the
international realm"? he said.
WPAT COMMENT: Poengky Indarti and Ikrar Nusa Bakti offer sound
advice to newly elected Governor Enembe. But this advice and Enembe's
own comments fail to address the central problems afflicting the Papuan
people. Poengky alludes to the need for Enembe to work with the security
forces to "change perceptions of freedom of expression and social
criticism." This advice only touches on the decades-old war against
Papuans, both civilians and the small, lightly-armed resistance
elements. That war must cease and those responsible for assaulting the
Papuan people brought to justice. Ikrar refers to dialogue but
is troubled about the absence of a clear Papuan partner for such a
dialogue, noting that OPM had no clear chain of command. On the civilian
side, Ikrar references "only people who demonstrate in the forests" and
"Papuan groups that demonstrate in the international realm." These
comments ignore the decade-old efforts by Papuan civil society leaders
to commence an internationally-monitored dialogue on West Papua's future
that would engage the Indonesian government at a senior level. Papuan
interlocutors include a well identified and largely cohesive
cross-section of Papuan civil society including religious leaders, human
rights champions and others. OPM representation could be added to the
mix but it would inaccurate be construe that representation as somehow
the major stumbling block.
Papuan Call for Cessation of Military Operations
and Withdrawal of Special Forces
The Papuan Regional Representatives Council is
calling for an end to Indonesian military operations in West Papua and a
withdrawal of Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) from the region.
"If Jakarta wants to end violence, the militaristic approach has to
stop, and all non-garrison troops from the military elite forces must be
withdrawn from the two provinces because their presence and their irregular
operations have triggered attacks on garrison troops and innocent
civilians," DPD deputy chairman Laode Ida told the Jakarta Post.
Growing Calls For Indonesian Government to End
Impunity for TNI Crimes
There are growing calls for the Indonesian government to end the
decades-long impunity accorded Indonesian military (TNI) personnel who have
committed egregious human rights crimes. The absence of justice for past
crimes -- notably including the military inspired 1998 riots as well as the
1999 post-referendum devastation wrought by the TNI and their minions in
East Timor -- largely accounts for continued TNI abuses today, notably in
West Papua. TNI leadership and enlisted personnel expect that they will not
be prosecuted for rights violations, or if they are, that prosecution will
be in a military tribunal where they can expect extremely lenient sentences.
Commission or Missing Persons and Victims of Violence) whose founder, Munir, was murdered by a
military/intelligence-connected assassin is calling for changes to existing
Haris Azhar, the coordinator of Kontras,
told the Jakarta Post that amending the law was needed so that armed
forces personnel can be tried in a civilian court rather than a military
tribunal for criminal offenses. "Revising the law on military tribunals is
an essential part of the reform process in the military and the judiciary,"
he said. "As it currently stands, the law doesn't allow for servicemen to
face justice in a criminal court, an anti-corruption court or a human rights
tribunal." Perpetrators facing military tribunals tended to receive more
lenient sentences than a criminal court would hand down, he added.
The current debate on military impunity was sparked by accusations that
members of Kopassus had murdered four police detainees in a bold daytime
As it currently stands, the law doesn't allow for servicemen to face justice
in a criminal court, an anti-corruption court or a human rights tribunal.
Perpetrators facing military tribunals tended to receive more lenient sentences
than a criminal court would hand down.
Aziz Syamsuddin of the House of Representatives' Commission III, which
oversees legal affairs, told the Jakarta Post that legislators were willing
to discussing amendments to the 1997 Law on Military Tribunals, but were
waiting for the government to submit a draft.
"Amendments to that law have been needed for a long time. At one point we
even formed a special committee of legislators from House Commission III and
II [on domestic affairs] to discuss it," Syamsuddin said. He said that most
legislators agreed with "the need to try military personnel in a civilian
court if their offenses warranted it."
Hendardi, the head of the
a democracy watchdog, told the Jakarta Post that the law in its current form
"makes the military untouchable by criminal law statutes."
Amnesty international, meanwhile,
publicly called for creation of a long-promised, long-stalled civilian ad
hoc criminal court to prosecute "those responsible for the abduction and
enforced disappearance of 13 political activists in 1997-1998." The fate of
the 13 remains unknown.
Kontras also condemned President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's failure to
set up a human rights tribunal to investigate the widespread human rights
violations surrounding the fall of Suharto in 1998. Putri Kanesia, a lawyer
with the group told the Jakarta Globe that "On September 30, 2009, the
House of Representatives recommended that the president establish an ad hoc
human rights court," she said. "The fact that he hasn't taken action to date
means he is neglecting the need to resolve these cases of rights abuses."
|Prime Minister Banimarama meets West Papua National
Coalition for Liberation
delegation. (photo: WPCNL)
WPCNL Meets with Fiji Prime Minister Banimarama
Officials from West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) met
with Fiji's Prime Minister Vereqe "Frank" Banimarama on 27 March 2013 in Suva to
discuss their application for full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead
Group (MSG). Banimarama is the current chair of the MSG.
According to a
statement by the WPCNL about the meeting, Prime Minister told the
delegation: "Given that the application has been received by the MSG
Leaders, we will ensure that it will go through the proper process and that
it is discussed at the next MSG Senior Officials Meeting in June before it
is presented to the Leaders for their decision through the Foreign Affairs
The delegation is consisted of WPCNL Vice Chairman, Otto Ondawame, its
Secretary General, Rex Rumakiek, and Barak T. Sopé Mautamata, former Prime Minister of
Vanuatu and adviser to WPNCL.The WPCNL first submitted their application to
the MSG on January 28.
Timely West Papua Overview
The Jakarta Post, March 28, published an overview of current political
trends in West Papua and the Papuan peoples' struggle for their rights,
including the right to self determination. The report is based on the
journalist's trip to Wamena.
The Hardships of Life in The Central Highlands
The Jakarta Globe, March 27, published an insightful account of a month
spent in Wamena, West Papua. The account reflects life in that occupied
region from the perspective of Papuans. Remarkably, this eloquent
testimonial to courage in the face of unrelenting suffering was written by
an 11th grade student, Norman Harsono, from Jakarta. Among his observations:
"And although incidents are common -- a death, protests, fights -- most of
the violence isn't instigated by the Papuans themselves, but by the
excessively forced measures used to suppress them. "
Review of Freedom in Entangled Worlds
Ed McWilliams reviewed
Eben Kirksey's Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the
Architecture of Global Power for the East Timor and Indonesia Action
Network (ETAN). He writes: "Kirksey explores the Papuan people's struggle
for self-determination using a multiplicity of approaches. He looks
carefully at Papuans collaboration with Indonesian state institutions, under
conditions of military occupation and extreme power asymmetry... Kirksey
argues compellingly that on some occasions Papuans have successfully
exploited the space separating the interests of their much more powerful
corporate and government collaborators to advance Papuan goals." Copies are
available from ETAN,
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