The Papua Report
The following is the fourth in a series of
monthly reports prepared by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human
Rights ñ Indonesia Support Group providing updates regarding developments in
Papua. The RFK Center has monitored and reported on the human rights
situation in Papua since 1993 when Bambang Widjojanto received the annual
RFK Human Rights Award.
- Indonesian Police Shoot to Death Peaceful Election Boycott Proponent
- Five Shot Dead near British Petroleum Base Camp in Extortion Bid
- Noted Policy Analyst Issues Damning Criticism of Megawati
Administration's Actions in Papua
- Lawyers for Leading Human Rights Group ELSHAM Walk Out During
Defamation Suit Proceedings
- AFL-CIO Backs New York City Shareholder Resolution on Freeport
McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc., as Key Vote for 2004
- Papuan Pastor Appeals for Human Rights Protections in Visit to
- Papuan Human Rights and Democracy Activists Canvass Europe to End
Repression in Papua
- HIV/AIDS Rampant in Papua
- Amnesty International Condemns Incarceration of Papuan Pastors and
Indonesian Police Shoot to Death Peaceful Election Boycott Proponent
On the eve of Indonesia's April 5 parliamentary elections, Indonesian
police shot dead a Papuan who urged fellow villagers to protest the
elections by boycotting the vote.
Police officials said they shot Marius Kogoya for allegedly trying to
discourage people from voting in the legislative election. According to
police accounts Kogoya was shot as he attempted to flee with three other
pro-boycott advocates. The four Papuans had been detained by police in the
remote Bokondini area for allegedly distributing leaflets to local people,
asking them to abstain from voting on April 5.
More than 40 percent of the voting irregularities that required
re-balloting in the April 5 nation-wide election transpired in Papua.
Moreover, many Papuan communities were prevented from exercising their
franchise because they did not receive the necessary voting equipment in
time for the ballot.
Five Shot Dead near British Petroleum Base Camp in Extortion Bid
Indonesian officers with the Mobil Police Brigade (Brimob) shot five
people dead near the British Petroleum liquid natural gas project in Papua
on April 20. According to a recent story (4/27) in the leading
Indonesian-language newspaper Suara
Pembaruan the incident was
staged by Indonesian security forces ìin hopes of gaining accessî to the BP
Indonesian officials claimed that their troops killed the five after
being attacked by guerrillas from the Free Papua Movement (OPM) who were
wielding bows and arrows. However, there has not been any historical or
recent activity of the OPM in this region, according to the human rights NGO
ELSHAM. The Jayapura-based Cenderawasih
Pos reported that those
killed were followers of Manase Furima, an indigenous religious leader.
Furima was wounded in the attack. Among the dead was a 25-year-old woman.
BP has trained local Papuans to guard their base camp in an attempt to
avoid contracting Indonesian security forces. Officers from the elite Brimob
police unit were briefly employed by BP to guard explosives, but this
contract was not renewed.
Noted Policy Analyst Issues Damning Criticism of Megawati
Administration's Actions in Papua
Sidney Jones, Southeast Asia Director of the International
Crisis Group, told Australian media in early April that Jakarta had
grossly mishandled the troubled province of Papua and now appeared to be
prepared to watch it disintegrate.
Jones said: "Of all of the issues confronting the Indonesian government,
there isn't a single one at the moment that is as sensitive as Papua." She
added, "There's no area of the country that is in more need of good
governance, and no part of the country that is less likely to get it. I
don't think there's anywhere in Indonesia where the policies of the Megawati
government have been so misguided..."
Jones described Special Autonomy for Papua, enacted by the Indonesian
legislature but blocked by the Megawati Administration, as "dead,"
notwithstanding strong support for the plan from the U.S. government and the
rest of the international community. She described the Megawati
Administration and Indonesian military's plans to divide Papua into three
provinces and the creation of 14 lower-level district administrations across
Papua as having divided the people. She added that the fragmentation of
Papua raised the danger of ethnic conflict.
Lawyers for Leading Human Rights Group ELSHAM Walk Out During
Defamation Suit Proceedings
The Indonesian military is suing the Papuan human rights NGO ELSHAM in
relation to the August 2002 ambush at the Freeport copper and gold mine in
Papua that left two American and one Indonesian schoolteacher dead and eight
other American civilians injured. ELSHAM (the Institute for Human Rights
Study and Advocacy) investigated the ambush and released publicly its
findings that there was evidence of Indonesian military (TNI) involvement in
The judge presiding over the Rp 50 Billion (US $5.5. million) defamation
suit refused requests by ELSHAMís defense team to recall witness Decky Murib
to the stand on April 14. Murib was a key witness in the initial ELSHAM
inquiry into the attack who had provided evidence of military involvement to
investigators. On March 31, 2004, when Murib was brought to the stand as a
witness by military prosecutors, he changed his testimony and alleged that
ELSHAM investigators coerced him into giving false information about
military involvement in the attack. ELSHAM lawyers told reporters that the
judge had not granted them sufficient opportunity to cross-examine Murib on
Indonesian military commander in Papua Maj. Gen. Nurdin Zainal initially
called the recantation by Decky Murib a "victory" for the TNI. Observers
strongly suspect, however, that Murib changed his account under strong
pressure from the TNI (see March
2004 Papua Report). Murib first testified in September 2002 about TNI
involvement in the ambush, termed by the U.S. Embassy as a "terrorist
attack" on American citizens. Murib has worked as an informer for Indonesian
Special Forces (Kopassus) personnel in the Freeport mining area for a number
The military is demanding that ELSHAM pay it damages and make a public
apology through the local and international media. ELSHAM stands by its
findings, which were supported by the Indonesian police investigation of the
incident and that now reportedly have been confirmed by the U.S. government.
On April 28, proceedings against ELSHAM resumed.
AFL-CIO Backs New York City Shareholder Resolution on Freeport McMoRan
Copper & Gold, Inc., as Key Vote for 2004
The AFL-CIO, the U.S.'s largest trade union representing more than 14
million American workers, has urged Freeport (FCX) shareholders to vote in
favor of a shareholder resolution brought by the New York City Teachers'
Retirement Service (NYCTRS) and the New York City Employees Retirement
Service (NYCERS). The resolution, which was approved by the U.S. Securities
& Exchange Commission, will come before Freeport shareholders at the
company's May 6 annual general meeting, to be held in Wilmington, Delaware.
Rising out of concerns regarding the Indonesian military's reported
involvement in the August 2002 ambush at Freeport in which American citizens
were killed and seriously injured, the NYCERS/NYCTRS resolution calls on
Freeport management to end its direct financial payments to the Indonesian
military (which totaled some $10.3 million for 2001 and 2002).
Papuan Pastor Appeals for Human Rights Protections in Visit to
Reverend Isaak Onawame, leader of 92 Evangelical churches with a combined
congregation of 92,000 parishioners, visited Washington, D.C., in April,
meeting with State Department and Congressional officials. Accompanied by
members of the RFK Center's Indonesia Support Group, Reverend Onawame
detailed the plight of thousands of Papuans in the southern highlands whose
lives have been disrupted and endangered by military operations that began
in 1996. He also spoke on behalf of several Christian pastors whose advocacy
of peace, non-violence and human rights has led to their incarceration.
(These pastors are the subject of an Amnesty International appeal which
identifies them as "prisoners of conscience," see item below.)
Reverend Onawame also described in detail the threat of HIV/AIDS now
spreading rapidly throughout Papua (see additional reporting below).
Papuan Human Rights and Democracy Activists Canvass Europe to End
Repression in Papua
During April, three prominent Papuan human rights and democracy activists
traveled extensively in Europe to update governments and local activists
about the situation in Indonesia's easternmost province, and to ask for
support for implementation of Indonesia's Special Autonomy Law for Papua.
According to John Rumbiak, ELSHAM International Advocacy Coordinator and
RFK Indonesia Support Group member, "About 100,000 Papuans have perished in
the 40 years during which Papua has been under Indonesian rule.î Rumbiak was
accompanied by Tom Beanal, a Papuan tribal leader from the Body for
Traditional Law (Dewan Adat) and the Acting Chairman of the political mass
organization Papua Presidium Council (PPC), as well as by Viktor Kaisiepo,
the European PPC representative.
Rumbiak appealed for European Union support of Papuans' efforts to
persuade the government of President Megawati Sukarnoputri to engage in
constructive dialogue with Papuans. Rumbiak has been speaking about Papua
internationally since Indonesian military pressure forced his departure from
Papua in 2002.
Kaisiepo's and Beanal's pacifist mass movement PPC brings together
different Papuan faith-based groups, women's and youth organizations, tribal
leaders, urban professionals, students, civil service functionaries, and
non-governmental organizations. The legendary Amungme tribal leader Beanal,
whose community's lands were expropriated by the Indonesian government and
New Orleans-based Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc., for the company's
mining operations in Papua, took on leadership of the PPC after the
Indonesian military abducted and assassinated PPC chairperson and prominent
moderate Papuan civic leader Theys Eluay in November 2001.
Papuans are arguing internationally for support of the concept of Papua
as a 'Land of Peace' and are asking the international community to pressure
Indonesia to pull Indonesian military troops such as Special Forces
(Kopassus) personnel out of Papua because of their enormously destabilizing
activities and their well-documented record of crimes against humanity
against indigenous Papuans.
HIV/AIDS Rampant in Papua; Military-run Brothels and Inadequate
Government Health Services are Sources of the Problem
An April 13 report by the Jakarta Post claimed that the number of people
living with HIV/AIDS in Papua has reached 1,398. Of that number, 912 people
have been diagnosed HIV-positive and 486 have developed AIDS. According to
the Papua Administration health office, the disease has killed 172 people in
Papua since it was first detected in the province in 1992.
Executive Director John Rahail of the Indonesian Planned Parenthood
Association (PKBI) in Papua was quoted as saying that the number of people
who had contracted the deadly disease could be much higher and that the
current figure may only be the tip of the iceberg. He estimated that the
actual number of people with HIV/AIDS could be 10 times the current
estimated figure and if the estimated figure -- 1/17 of the 2.4
million-strong Papuan population was correct, it meant that Papua was
overrun by the disease.
Rahail said the virus had spread evenly across almost all areas in the
province, including remote areas. Rahail said the spread of HIV/AIDS in
remote areas was mostly caused by villagers who procured the services of sex
workers in towns, after which they returned to their home villages and
passed on HIV/AIDS to their partners. Studies undertaken by international
researchers have identified prostitution centers established and run by the
Indonesian military to service migrant workers and others as a principal
source of the infection. The military is also reported to be moving
HIV-infected prostitutes from other parts of Indonesia to Papua.
Government-provided health care in Papua is the worst in Indonesia,
further exacerbating conditions that facilitate the transmission of the
disease. Another factor contributing to the high number of people infected
with the lethal disease is the lack of public awareness and knowledge on
A recent report by University of Victoria Professor Dr. Leslie Butt and
colleagues, published in Pacific Health Dialog, notes that government
efforts to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS and promote condom usage have been
largely ineffective. Condom promotion is restricted to mainly urban areas,
where more migrant Indonesians live. Nation-wide stigmas about condom use
also adversely affect prevention efforts in Papua.
Most of the promoters are non-indigenous migrants. There are essentially
no condom outreach initiatives in rural locations, where the majority of
indigenous Papuans live. As a result, infection rates in the province are
skewed, with higher infections reported among indigenous Papuans in the
Freeport mining town of Timika and in Merauke. Indonesian government
spokespersons attempt to blame the spread of HIV/AIDS on risky sexual
behavior of Papuans, without also recognizing that non-indigenous Papuans
also engage in risky behavior. They also downplay deficiencies in government
Amnesty International Condemns Incarceration of Papuan Pastors and
Amnesty International (AI) has issued a "Prisoners of Conscience Action
2004" appeal on behalf of nonviolent Papuan activists, including Christian
pastors Reverend Obeth Komba and Reverend Yudas Meage. The appeal also
included Amelia Yiggibalom and Murjono Murib, who like the two pastors are
members of the Wamena Panel, the local branch of the Papua Presidium
The AI appeal identifies 17 other Papuans now in detention whom AI notes
were subjected to beatings and racist abuse, denied food and water and
prevented from sleeping. AI's appeal reports that interrogations of the 17
were carried out "without the presence of a lawyer, and (that) at least two
of the detainees are known to have been forced to sign statements without
first being permitted to read them." According to AI, several of the
detainees claimed to have witnessed the torturing to death of Yohanes Udin,
a young photographer from Flores, Nusa Tenggara, who had been in Papua on a
On December 21, 2003, 12 of the prisoners, including Reverend Obeth Komba,
Reverend Yudas Meage and Murjono Murib, were transferred from Wamena Prison
to Abepura Prison in
Jayapura District without prior notice to their lawyers or families (see
January 2004 RFK Papua Report). There is concern that the failure to
allow the prisoners to inform their families at the time of their transfer
may be contrary to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the
Treatment of Prisoners (Standard Minimum Rules).