West Papua Report
This is the 112th 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 by 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. If you
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Link to this issue:
The Report leads with "Perspective," an opinion piece; followed by
"Update," a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then
"Chronicle" which includes analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and
action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a
"Perspective" or responding to one should write to
email@example.com. The opinions expressed in
Perspectives are the author's and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN.
For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv
archive or on
This month's PERSPECTIVE reflects on the ongoing diplomatic struggle over West
Papuans' right to self-determination currently being waged by Papuan diplomats
who have sought to hold the Indonesian government accountable for its violation
of fundamental political and civil rights. The author, Octavianus Mote, is a
prominent Papuan engaged in this effort.
In this Report's UPDATE section, a UN human rights review
focused on Indonesia's excessive use of force in dealing with dissent.
Commenting on the UN review, human rights organizations
highlighted security force behavior in West Papua. Excessive use of
force was on display during the month with the gunning down of an 11
year old Papuan girl. In late July, Papuans who sought to gather peacefully to
note the UN meeting were blocked from assembling. Five of the
demonstration leaders were detained. Various voices have expressed concern over restrictions on media in West
Papua, including arbitrarily enforced restrictions on foreign journalists, the
recent closing of a Papuan magazine, and intimidation of Papuan
media seeking to cover what the security forces consider sensitive subjects.
The failure of central government provided services in West Papua is exemplified by
an absence of qualified
teachers in Papuan schools.
In a rare victory for the Papuan people and environmentalists, plans for an oil
palm plantation in West Papua have been shelved due in part to opposition by
local people backed by environmental activists. Elsewhere, new complaints have
emerged from local people who have seen their forests taken without compensation
by oil palm plantation developers. Indigenous peoples appeals to the companies
involved in the theft and to government officials have gone unanswered.
Plans by the administration of President Yudhoyono to
revamp the failed "Special
Autonomy" law have sparked new critical comment by human rights advocates and
In this report's CHRONICLE section we note a particularly insightful article
focusing on the Melanesian region, including consideration of Papuans
application for membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Inside Indonesia
and Papuans Behind Bars highlight prison issues. A Global Post account
describes efforts by
the Papuan exile Benny Wenda to draw international attention to the Papuan
struggle for self-determination. His efforts have raised the importance of West
Papua in the context of UK-Indonesian relations. Cornell University
has devoted an entire special issue of its journal "Indonesia" to West Papua.
Finally, we link to the video and transcript of the UK's House of Lords recent
debate on West Papua.
This month's "Perspective" is by Octavianus Mote, Chair of the
Papua Peace Team. He is one of five Papuans designated by a 2011 "Papuan Peace
Conference" as "negotiators." Until 1999, Mote was the chief of the Papuan
Bureau of Kompas, Indonesia's largest daily. He fled to the U.S. in 1999
following death threats by Indonesian security services, where he was granted
asylum. He is now a U.S. citizen. He is a member of the West Papua Advocacy
The Emerging Papuan-Indonesian Diplomatic Struggle
In an historic development, Melanesian nations meeting recently in a summit
of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) recognized the right of
self-determination for West Papuans. In its communiqué released during the July
2013 MSG Summit (see West Papua Report July 2013 coverage of this
MSG leaders stated emphatically that "the MSG fully supports the inalienable
rights of the people of West Papua towards self-determination as provided under
the preamble of the MSG constitution." In addition, the MSG leaders explicitly
stated MSG concerns regarding human rights violations and atrocities carried out
against the West Papuan people. MSG leaders also expressed their determination
to raise these concerns with the Government of Indonesia, "both bilaterally and
as a group." The question of MSG membership will be the subject of further MSG
deliberation, pending a mission of MSG foreign ministers to Jakarta and Papua to
be undertaken later in 2013 at the invitation of the Indonesian government.
(WPAT Note: The FLNKS is an MSG member even though it is not a state.)
The Papuan struggle for self-determination in the last fifty years is based on
the Papuan right of self-determination, a right denied Papuans over 40 years ago
by Indonesia, the United States and the Netherlands, acting in their narrow,
cold-war shadowed self interest (see Dr. John Saltford's detailed "PERSPECTIVE"
on the "Act of Free Choice" carried in the
December 2012 West Papua Report).
These historic developments derive in large measure from an increasingly
effective Papuan diplomacy.
Papuan Resistance to Occupation
The long Papuan struggle for their human rights, notably including the right
of self-determination, has continued since Indonesia first established control
of Papua under the infamous 1962 New York Agreement. That control, implemented
on May 1, 1963, has met with both armed resistance and determined
peaceful Papuan resistance, including, increasingly, in the form of an
innovative, multi-faceted Papuan diplomacy.
Indonesia applies pressure on the issue
of cooperation to fight terrorism and the problem of illegal migrants to these
countries. Indonesia's support and cooperation on these issues comes at a price,
and a key Jakarta demand is that Australia and New Zealand (and the United
States) ignore the tragedy in Papua.
Papuans have long faced the reality that there was no international state
support, either in the West or the East, for Papuans' right to
self-determination. This reality has not led Papuans to despair. On the
contrary, it has fanned the fire of struggle, a struggle that has received the
attention of others who have had to struggle for their political rights, notably
in Africa and the Southern Pacific.
To maintain their existence, a number of Papuan military leaders and political
leaders declared independence on July 1, 1971. Since then, the struggle of
independence has taken two directions: military struggle in the form of sporadic
guerrilla struggle, and international diplomacy based in Africa, Europe,
Australia, New Zealand, and among the Melanesian countries of South Pacific.
The positive developments in the most recent MSG summit in New Caledonia is a
result of these years of peaceful, diplomatic efforts. Since West Papua was
forcefully integrated into the Republic of Indonesia, Papuan intellectuals
played a key role in the development and growing effectiveness of Papuan
diplomacy. They helped lay a foundation for diplomatic progress in the MSG
countries particularly in the areas of health and education cooperation. That
progress can be seen in the support afforded Papuan aspirations in Vanuatu and
the Solomon Islands national parliaments. The power of personal witness has
also been an important factor in pressing the Papuan case in the region. No
less than 10,000 Papuans have fled Indonesian military brutality to seek refuge
in this region. This personal witness, by ordinary people, has had a powerful
impact on the media, people and political leadership who increasingly support
the right to self-determination for Papuans.
Indonesian embassies in Papua New Guinea and Fiji play a key role in
promoting Indonesian interests in the Melanesian countries. Indonesia, in effect
has bought support for its position through provision of economic aid and by
providing campaign money for various politicians. This practice is common in
Papua New Guinea and recently was implemented in Vanuatu under Prime Minister
Kilman Sato. Sato was removed as Prime Minister earlier this year in part over
his close dealings with the Indonesian government. The new Vanuatu Prime
Minister, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, has called for
the cancellation of Vanuatu's
defense agreement with Indonesia. He also established a Papua Desk in Foreign Ministry and appointed a special
envoy for the Papua issue, underscoring the importance of the issue for Vanuatu.
Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama
with Vanuatu PM Moana Carcasses Kalosil.
Indonesian diplomacy has been ineffective in the face of Papuan diplomacy which
has relied on documentary evidence, including photographic evidence, of crimes
against humanity perpetrated by the Indonesian security authorities. Efforts by
the Indonesian government to suppress or deny the reality of the situation has
not persuaded the people of the region or their political leaders. Moreover,
despite harsh Indonesian authority restrictions against foreign journalists,
human rights reporters and humanitarian workers, the true story of Indonesian
brutality increasingly is reaching the international community.
Indonesia, which seems to forget that it was once a colony, is predominantly
Muslim while Papua is predominantly Christian. The Indonesian government, for
decades, has engineered the influx of culturally distinct transmigrants into
Papua. This process has profoundly marginalized the indigenous Papuan
population and has been described as "creeping genocide" by a researcher from
the University of Sydney
who predicts that the indigenous Papuans will
constitute a minority of the total population by 2020.
One of Indonesia's diplomatic strategies has been to exploit security concerns
of Australia and New Zealand. This strategy is reminiscent of the approach
adopted by Jakarta in the 1950's and 1960's. Indonesia applies pressure on the
issue of cooperation to fight terrorism and the problem of illegal migrants to
these countries. Indonesia's support and cooperation on these issues comes at a
price, and a key Jakarta demand is that Australia and New Zealand (and the
United States) ignore the tragedy in Papua.
It is interesting to question whether it is simply a coincidence that Papua
received more attention at the MSG forum when Fiji, which severed its diplomatic
ties with Australia and New Zealand, assumed leadership of the MSG forum. Of
course, Indonesia can still seek the support of China, India or Russia which are
assuming much of the influential role in the region previously played by
Australia and New Zealand. But the reality that Indonesia misses is that the
leaders of the region are from a new generation. They are fully informed about
Papuan struggle particularly through social media.
In attempting to understand Indonesian diplomacy, it is important to
appreciate Jakarta's use of the tactic of delay, postponing unwanted
outcomes. This tactic was in evidence in the Indonesian strategy at the recent
Having confronted the strong support of the MSG for the right to
self-determination of Papuans, Indonesia has deployed a new strategy. It has
invited a delegation of the MSG foreign ministers to visit Jakarta and Papua.
This is surprising inasmuch as Indonesia has long restricted access to Papua by
foreigners, including diplomats, journalists and humanitarian agency personnel.
Therefore the question is whether Indonesia will actually allow an MSG
delegation to go to Papua? The invitation may prove to be only a tactic to
further postpone the Papuan application for MSG membership. Jakarta appears to
have created a dilemma for itself. It will be impossible for Jakarta to prevent
the Papuan people from communicating their deepest feelings to any MSG
delegation which actually goes to Papua. On the other hand, were Jakarta to
renege on its invitation to the MSG Foreign Ministers to visit Papua, Indonesian
dishonesty would be on display for all the world to see.
Negotiations with Third Party
In attempting to understand Indonesian diplomacy, it is important to
appreciate Jakarta's use of
the tactic of delay, postponing unwanted outcomes. This tactic was in evidence
in the Indonesian strategy at the recent MSG summit. In this instance, President
Yudhoyono appears only to require several months.
To explain this position it is important to analyze two political phenomena
which transpired in Jayapura and London in late July. In Jayapura, the Papuan
People's Council (MRP) undertook an evaluation of Jakarta's decade-old policy of
"Special Autonomy" for Papua. The council distributed questionnaires to Papuans
and invited expert views. The conclusion echoed long-standing assertions by
Papuan officials and the Papuan people that "Special Autonomy" has failed. There was also consensus among Papuans for dialogue between Papuans and Jakarta,
mediated by a neutral third party, to review the autonomy status. This
conclusion is similar to the previous decision of the MRP to "return back"
"Special Autonomy" to the national government of Indonesia.
In the meantime, in London, the UK House of Lords also held
lengthy, special discussion in regard to Papua. The members of the House of
Lords questioned the commitment of the UK government towards Papua. They raised
issues such as the violation of Papuan human rights, the isolation of Papua, and
interestingly, Papuans right to self-determination. The House challenged the UK
government by posing a strong argument regarding the manipulation of history of
Papua. They also highlighted the inability of Indonesia to protect Papuans.
One member remarked that the issue of Papua would not evaporate as
Indonesia expects. It persists and awaits a just solution. The Indonesian
government realizes its failure to "Indonesianize" Papua in the last 50 years.
That is why one policy after the other has been implemented in Papua without
meaningful result. In a recent meeting between President Yudhoyono and PNG Prime
Minister O'Neil, Yudhoyono said they (Papuans) are "our citizens but your
people." So he asked for PNG help to solve the problem. Once again, we can ask
whether this is a delaying tactic, i.e., lip service to persuade the
counterpart? In any event, one thing is certain: West Papua is not an internal
problem of Indonesia and it is not only about development policy. It is all
about the right to self-determination.
UN Body Reviews Indonesia Rights
A July 10-11
Rights Committee review of Indonesia's obligations under the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights drew sharp attention to the excessive use
of force by central Government security forces. The UN committee published an
advance version its
concluding observations in late July
where it expressed concern "at increased reports of excessive use of force and
extra-judicial killings by the police and the military during protests,
particularly in West Papua, Bima and West Nusa Tenggara," and "at undue
restrictions of the freedom of assembly and expression by protesters in West
The Human Rights Committee sees re-occurrences of such
violations as likely until Indonesia takes measures to develop effective
joint July 11 release, Indonesian and International human rights monitors
questioned Jakarta’s commitment to finding a peaceful resolution to the
decades-long insurgency in West Papua. The groups. Franciscans
International, Human Rights and Peace for Papua, Imparsial, the Commission for
Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and Tapol, wrote: “Since there is no effective mechanism available to hold military
members accountable, the [Human Rights] Committee sees re-occurrences of
such violations as likely until Indonesia takes measures to develop
effective complaint procedures."
The groups also denounced what they called the Indonesian delegation’s false
claims about the openness of military tribunals for those involved in rights
abuses. The statement describes Indria Fernida from London-based Tapol as being
shocked to notice the “level of denial of institutional shortcomings that
prolong the culture of impunity in Indonesia.” The rights groups also said that
while "the Indonesian delegation claimed to the Committee that local media in
Papua is free to publish any news... cases of intimidation, threats and violence
against local journalists in Papua continue."
Concerns were also raised about the Indonesian delegation’s claims that
expressions of Papuan secession would continue to warrant criminal charges,
which Budi Tjahjono from Franciscans International warned “implies a
prolongation of the detrimental security approach in Papua.”
Underscoring the cost of the continuing depredations of Indonesian security
forces, the Free West Papua Campaign
killing of an 11 year old girl by Indonesian security forces. The girl, Arlince
Tabuni, was shot July 1 in rural West Papua by security forces purportedly in
search of Papuan pro-independence fighters. The Commission for Missing Persons
and Victims of Violence (KontraS), in a press release, urged investigation into
the murder. “We deplore the violence (which) continues in Papua. ... “The
actions above shows the lack of professionalism and brutality of the security
forces in conducting security operations,” a KontraS spokesperson said.
Organizers of Peaceful
Demonstration Detained, Participants Reportedly
Beaten by Police
A July 30
Bintang Papua account, translated by TAPOL, reports that five Papuan
activists were arrested while taking part in a demonstration on 29 July in
Jayapura, in support of the discussion on self-determination which took place
The names of the five people arrested are: Usamah Yogobi,
chairperson of SHDRP (the Papuan Civil Society Organization for Solidarity, Law
and Human Rights) and also chairperson of the National Reconciliation Team for
General Mobilization and the co-ordinator of the demonstration, as well as Alius
Asso, who helped to organize the demonstration, Johannes Elegani and Benny
Hisage. The arrests followed efforts by the police to block Papuans who took
part in long marches towards the meeting from various regions. Those marches
were disrupted, the police claimed, because the demonstrators did not have
permits. Organizers had requested a permit from the police who never replied.
Jubedius Selegani, Secretary General of SHDRP called for the
release of all those arrested. A similar appeal was made by the head of the
district of Domberai of the WPNA (National Committee of West Papua) who also
noted that during the dispersal of the demonstration, many people taking part in
the demonstration were beaten by the police.
Central Government's War on Media in
A report carried by
Bernama, July 15, noted that the Papua branch of the Indonesian
Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI) has said foreign journalists have found
difficulties in getting permits to work in West Papua.
Victor Mambor. Photo by JFCC
Victor Mambor, chair of the Papua branch of AJI, said that foreign journalists
had to wait for three months to get the required permit to enter Papua. "Even
after they get into Papua some of them have to be accompanied by a government
agent in doing their journalistic duty," Victor told Indonesia's Antara news
Mambor pointed out the central Government was deliberately vague regarding
restrictions and that in fact "there has been no government regulation
restricting foreign journalists from doing journalistic work in Papua." He said
the government had deliberately created a "condition of no clear regulation" so
that the authorities could interpret regulations on an ad-hoc basis. When
journalists are allowed into West Papua they lack the freedom to work as
journalists, Mambor emphasized.
"Seven of the foreign journalists were deported from Papua and most recently an
ABC reporter had to be disguised as tourist to enter Papua," he said.
Clearly, restrictions do not only target foreign journalists.
The prospect of still more draconian controls on media in West Papua has been
foreshadowed by the
ban on the first issue of a magazine in West Papua. The Pacific Freedom
Forum and the Indonesia Press Council
condemned police for their actions against the magazine, Papua Pelita.
The magazine's initial issue had focused on the West Papua Freedom movement
(OPM). Its cover included a picture of the Morning Star flag, banned in West
Papua by the central government as a pro-independence symbol. Indonesia Press
Council member Imam Wahdyudi called the police action against the magazine a
violation of Press Law No. 40/1999, which precludes the "forceful or unlawful
prohibition of publishing, distributing and/or broadcast of information."
interview by Johnny Blades with Mambor offered insight regarding the
repression facing Papuan journalists. Mambor, who is editor of Tabloid Jubi,
told Blades that police warn journalists not to write about certain topics.
Police pressure is routinely exerted on editors and journalists; both are
typically called to police headquarters for interrogation over coverage. Such
intimidation, he notes, resulted in a dearth of coverage of the June MSG summit
2013 West Papua Report) where West Papuan self-determination was a major
More Reporting of Failed
Government Services in West Papua
Tempo provides new evidence of the failure of the central and provincial
government to provide even the most basic services to Papuans living outside
urban areas. The July 24 report underscores that rural schools lack teachers and
that the few teachers available have large and sometimes multiple classes. This
impedes effective teaching. In some instances, substitute teachers are members
of the feared military.
Environmentalists Impede Destructive
Palm Oil Development Plans in Papua
Reuters reports that a plan to develop a palm oil plantation in West Papua
has failed, due in part to opposition by environmentalists. The venture by
Wilmar International and Noble Group Ltd ultimately failed to win official
approval for the project. The report explains that "hurdles" such as regulatory
uncertainty, lack of infrastructure, labor shortages, and opposition from locals
and environmentalists have limited efforts by corporations seeking to develop
"frontier markets" like West Papua.
|Oil palm plantation project in Sima
village Photo: Jubi / Ones Madai.
Meanwhile, the harsh reality of oil palm plantations that do
move forward was demonstrated in Nabire where a plantation is ignoring
indigenous rights. A press release by Simon Petrus Hanebora, a Yerisiam tribal
leader, reported by
Tabloid Jubi July 30, revealed that the Yerisiam people living in
Kampung Sima are still waiting for oil palm plantation companies PT Nabire Baru
and PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri to provide clarification and compensation to
local indigenous people. The release explained that "thousands of
commercially-valuable trees from 32,000 hectares of the Yerisiam indigenous
people's ancestral land have been logged by the oil palm company." The release
notes that despite efforts for more than a year to engage the companies in
dialogue and complaints to the police, no action has been taken.
WPAT Comment: Palm oil plantations have had devastating impact on the lives
of local people. The plantations replace forests which have provided sustenance
for many generations. Once developed, the plantations afford few jobs as
neither plantation maintenance nor harvesting is labor intensive. In West
Kalimantan, where palm oil plantations are extensive, local peoples have had no
option but to migrate to towns where their employment prospects are limited due
to inadequate education. A similar fate appears to await Papuans who live in
areas targeted for plantation development.
"Special Autonomy -
Plus" Plans Don't Add Up
Indonesia's central government is moving forward with plans to produce a
"Special Autonomy - Plus" law for West Papua which would modify the existing,
decade-old "Special Autonomy" law. Papuan institutions and the Papuan people
have roundly rejected "Special Autonomy" as having failed in its primary purpose
of ending their marginalization .
Papuans who gathered in Jayapura July 25-27 to review "Special Autonomy Law"
strongly rejected it as a failed policy. They said that any dialogue about West
Papua's future should "mediated by a neutral party and held in a neutral place."
A July 27 report carried in
Tabloid Jubi indicated that participants came from all seven regions
of indigenous Papua territories and from 40 regencies, in both of Papua and West
Papua province. The gathering was facilitated by the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP).
July 18 Jubi report cites concerns by KontraS (Commission for the
Disappeared and Victims of Violence) that the "Special Autonomy - Plus"
initiative would be no better that the Special Autonomy Law. According to
KontraS, the central government is considering leaving out articles on human
rights and democracy in its revision of "Special Autonomy." A
July 24 media release by the Alliance of Independent Journalist in West
Papua (AJI) claimed the central Government plans to alter part of the "Special
Autonomy" law to broaden restrictions on media in West Papua. AJI termed
the alleged plan as "unacceptable."
WPAT Comment: The June 2013 West Papua Report
reported on President Yudhoyono's plans to alter the failed "Special Autonomy"
plan. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the "Special Autonomy - Plus"
initiative will only exacerbate problems with the original plan.
An article by Radio New Zealand's Johnny Blades in the July 23
Guardian offers a penetrating look at the status of efforts in West
Papua to move toward self-determination. The article, "Mood for
self-determination grows among small Pacific nations; West Papuan efforts to put
self-determination on the international stage gain momentum," analyzes "the
diplomatic whirlwind" surrounding efforts by West Papuans to gain support from
the Melanesian Support Group.
Global Post reviews of the activities of Papuan exile Benny Wenda and their
impact of his efforts on behalf of Papuan self-determination on Indonesian-UK
Inside Indonesia published a
special issue on incarceration in Indonesia, It includes "Big
prison, little prison" by Yap Inyerop of Papuan Behind Bars, which focuses on
the experience of several West Papuan political prisoners. Papuan Behind Bars
reports in their
that at the end of the month "there were at least 57 political prisoners in
journal Indonesia has published a special issue on West Papua
(contents are behind a pay wall). WPAT notes that academic Indonesianists are
now giving significant focus to West Papua.
On 24 July, the House of Lords debated West Papua.
Tapol reports that the members raised "serious concerns about the human rights
situation and called on the British government to take a stronger stand." The
debate lasted one hour and included a government response from Baroness Warsi,
Senior Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Read the debate.
the debate (start at 18:53:00)