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The West Papua Report
August 2004
 
The following is the seventh in a series of monthly reports prepared by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights-Indonesia Support Group providing updates on developments in West Papua. The RFK Center has monitored and reported on the human rights situation in West Papua since 1993 when Bambang Widjojanto received the annual RFK Human Rights Award.

Summary/ Contents

  • Timika Case Survivor Patsy Spier Speaks Out for Continuing IMET Ban Until Case Solved
  • West Papuan Human Rights Groups Issue Statement Questioning U.S. Department of Justice Announcement on Killing of U.S. and Indonesian Citizens
  • TNI Takes Advantage of U.S. Department of Justice Silence
  • Court Exoneration of Indonesian Military Convicted of Human Rights Crimes in East Timor: Implications for West Papua
  • Indonesian Human Rights Commission Investigation Shows Crimes Against Humanity Committed by Security Forces Against West Papuans
  • Indonesian Military Reportedly Deploys Additional 1,800 Troops to West Papua
  • Large West Papuan Assemblage Calls for U.N.-Monitored Vote on Independence
  • U.N. Recognizes West Papuan Victims of Repression as Refugees
  • Church Groups Seek U.N. Investigation of Latest Rights Abuse Case
  • Some Imprisoned Papuan Civic Leaders Released

Timika Case Survivor Patsy Spier Speaks Out for Continuing IMET Ban Until Case Solved

August 31, 2004, marks the two-year anniversary of the West Papua, Indonesia, ambush (Timika Case) in which my husband Rick, my superintendent Ted Burgon, and my teaching colleague Bambang Riwanto were murdered; and three Indonesians and eight Americans were wounded. Ten of the victims of the ambush were teachers at the international school located on the concession of the American copper and gold mine, Freeport McMoRan.

When I returned to the U.S. in September 2002, I knew I had to do something about the evil that happened on that West Papuan mountain. What my role would be became clear when the Indonesian National Police submitted their report in October 2002, stating that the Indonesian military (TNI) were apparently behind the ambush, and in November 2002, when the TNI exonerated themselves of any involvement.

Since then, I have felt that the FBI would be our only hope for determining who ordered and carried out the ambush that changed my life forever. To achieve the needed access for the FBI, we survivors of the Timika Case chose to focus on withholding the International Education and Training (IMET) funds to Indonesia. In doing so, we felt it was among our only options to put pressure on the Indonesian government/military until there is full transparent cooperation with our FBI investigators.

Congressional offices listened, and in July 2003, Congressman Joel Hefley (R-CO) offered legislation to withhold full IMET funding until there was cooperation in the Timika Case, and in October 2003, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), offered similar legislation. Those amendments were passed in the Omnibus bill in January 2004. I believe that it is because of the passing of that legislation that our FBI investigators were finally allowed access to evidence that was, until that time, denied them regarding the August 31, 2002, ambush.

In late June 2004, an indictment was issued from the United States to Indonesian authorities implicating one of the shooters of the ambush, Anthonius Wamang. As was stated in the press release announcing the indictment, the investigation is not over, and the Indonesian National Police and the FBI were attempting to identify additional participants in the murders.

At this time, I am asking congressional offices to continue to support legislation to ban full IMET to Indonesia in the FY05 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. I feel that with the continued ban of IMET the Indonesian government/military/police will be encouraged to apprehend Anthonius Wamang in a timely manner, and to bring him to justice in a manner consistent with international standards, preferably here in the United States.

What happened to us on that mountain was not an unfortunate incident. It was well planned and organized. I believe that if our investigators continue to receive cooperation from the Indonesian authorities all those responsible will be exposed, and the truth will be uncovered as to why the ambush was ordered. I know that in doing so we will be helping to stop such madness from
happening to others, regardless of their nationality.

Patsy Spier
August 2004

West Papuan Human Rights Groups Issue Statement Questioning U.S. Department of Justice Announcement on Killing of U.S. and Indonesian Citizens

Three leading West Papua human rights organizations have condemned as incomplete and irresponsible the statement by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft indicting Anthonius Wamang in the killing of two U.S. citizens and one Indonesian citizen at the Freeport mine on August 31, 2002. The statement urged the U.S. Congress to continue its pursuit of justice in the matter.

An August 4 statement, issued by ELSHAM, LEMASA and YAHAMAK called for continued investigation of the attack which also wounded eight U.S. citizens. The statement expressed concern that Attorney General Ashcroft in public comments and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement of the indictment in the case had failed to reveal evidence in the Justice Department's possession that was highly relevant to the investigation. That evidence implicated the Indonesian military in what the U.S. has described as a "terror attack."

The statement also questioned the Attorney General's claim that the only identified assailant, Anthonius Wamang, was acting as a member of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). The U.S. claim failed to note years of close collaboration between the alleged assailant and the Indonesian military, including the military's provision of ammunition to the alleged assailant.

The West Papuan groups also emphasized that the U.S. had failed to note that the Indonesian police in their first report had offered evidence of a role by the military in the August 2002 killings.

The groups expressed deep concern that the U.S. Government's attempt to implicate the OPM could serve as a pretext for an Indonesian military campaign against the resistance movement. In the past, such campaigns have led to grave military abuses against the civilian population.

TNI Takes Advantage of U.S. Department of Justice Silence

In the wake of the U.S. Department of Justiceís public statements regarding the indictment of Anthonius Wamang, the Indonesian military in West Papua and throughout Indonesia has become more brazen in its activities, apparently drawing cover from what it and the Indonesian Government claim is "exoneration" by the U.S. DOJ statement regarding the TNI's widely reported culpability in the Timika killings.

The U.S. Government has failed to correct the the misimpression that the TNI is blameless in the killing by adamantly refusing to respond to questions posed by journalists and others regarding the claimed "exoneration," allowing the TNI characterization of the DOJ statement to stand.

Court Exoneration of Indonesian Military Convicted of Human Rights Crimes in East Timor: Implications for West Papua

The widely condemned August decision by the Indonesian Appeals Court to overturn convictions of Indonesian military and police for egregious human rights crimes in East Timor has ominous implications for West Papua. The court action confirms that security forces retain their immunity from effective prosecution for human rights crimes.

Absent fear of prosecution, the Indonesian military faces no effective restraint in West Papua or Aceh, where it is pursuing brutal campaigns of intimidation and repression. The West Papua campaign has included the torture-murder of the most prominent West Papuan advocate for independence. In addition, since April 2003, military operations in the central highlands area have caused the flight of hundreds of villagers into inhospitable forests and the incarceration of Christian pastors.

Indonesian Human Rights Commission Investigation Shows Crimes Against Humanity Committed by Security Forces Against West Papuans

Indonesiaís National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) announced the results of its investigation of two incidents in West Papua indicate that security forces were guilty of gross human rights abuses in both cases. The ìInquiry Commission of Human Rights of Wamena and Wasiorî was carried out between December 2003 and July 2004. Its findings state that police and military were guilty of torture, illegal detention, and extrajudicial execution against West Papuan civilians. The incidents took place in the region of Wasior in 2001, after five policemen were killed by alleged rebels, and in Wamena in 2003 following the raid on an arsenal. Villages were raided and burned causing villagers to flee to the forests where they suffered from hunger and exposure.

The Commission recommended that 14 police and 162 soldiers be tried for the crimes, and said that the commanding officers should also be held accountable. Earlier, West Papuaís religious leaders had sent a letter to the National Human Rights Commission calling for the results of the investigation to be made public. The files will be handed over to the Attorney General, as the Commission has no authority to prosecute.

Indonesian Military Reportedly Deploys Additional 1,800 Troops to West Papua

Indonesian media reported August 16 that the Indonesian military has deployed an additional 1,800 troops to West Papua, allegedly to address border difficulties with Papua New Guinea. Indonesia claims that PNG villagers have made traditional land claims amounting to 267 square kilometers along the largely un-demarcated border separating PNG from West Papua.

The area includes nine villages inhabited largely by PNG citizens. The new deployment comes in the face of appeals by West Papuan civic leaders, including church leaders and local officials, for a demilitarization of West Papua.

Large West Papuan Assemblage Calls for U.N.-Monitored Vote on Independence

Approximately 1,000 West Papuans gathered on August 16 in Jayapura, the West Papua capital, to demand that the United Nations conduct a referendum for independence from rule by Jakarta. An "act of free choice" monitored by the U.N. in 1969 is widely acknowledged to have been fraudulent, even by the U.N. official charged with overseeing it.

The large gathering included church and tribal leaders, civil servants, students and members of the Free Papua Movement or OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka), a pro-independence militia which has now renounced violence. The timing of the event, on the eve of Indonesia's national day, appears to have been intended as a rejection of West Papua's forced integration into Indonesia.

The rally also protested human rights abuses by the Indonesian military and the Indonesian central government's conspiracy with foreign corporations, notably New Orleans-based Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc., to exploit West Papuan resources in a manner that devastates the environment and accrues nearly all profits to the corporations and officials in Jakarta.

U.N. Recognizes West Papuan Victims of Repression as Refugees

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in early August accorded refugee status to hundreds of West Papuan asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea's Sandaun Province. The refugees had sought refugee status for several years following their flight from West Papua in 2000. Their flight was necessitated by Indonesian military operations.

Catholic church officials in Papua New Guinea, including Tas Maketu, National Director of Caritas, strongly welcomed the decision. Maketu observed: "The refugee status basically means that there is now an official recognition from the government of Papua New Guinea and the UNHCR that these people have fled their country because of persecution and their safety is not guaranteed back in their country from which they came, which is just across the border."

Church Groups Seek U.N. Investigation of Latest Rights Abuse Case

Two religious-based humanitarian organizations, the Jayapura Catholic Dioceseís Office for Justice and Peace and Franciscans International, have requested that the United Nations investigate apparent violations of human rights in the trial of two Papuans alleged to have been involved in an April 2003 raid on a military armory in Wamena. The military used the incident as a pretext to conduct a broad military campaign that in ensuing months forced the internal displacement of hundreds of villagers into surrounding forests. The military has continued to block provision of humanitarian assistance to these civilians.

On August 16, the two religious offices reported that two West Papuans defendants had been denied proper medical attention since their detention in November 2003. Moreover, the two were denied access to a translator in their trial process. The two defendants are Jigi Jigibalom, 50, and Tenius Murib, 28.

Some Imprisoned Papuan Civic Leaders Released

Eight Papuans who had been imprisoned on charges associated with a peaceful and legal flag-raising ceremony and related disturbances in Wamena in 2000 were released in late August. The RFK Center Indonesia Support Group, Amnesty International and other international and Papua-based organizations campaigned for their release (See the January 2004 RFK Papua Report for additional details, www.rfkmemorial.org). The October 6, 2000, incident involved the arrest of a number of local civic leaders, including respected Christian pastors, on charges that they had caused a riot in which Indonesian security officials were attacked. Supporters of the imprisoned Wamena residents have long held that the local leaders actually were involved in trying to stop the fighting, which was sparked by police action against a peaceful pro-independence rally. Four Wamena citizens detained in the incident remain incarcerated. These include prominent nonviolent religious leader, Reverend Obeth Komba, whom Amnesty International has designated a prisoner of conscience.


*Note: The RFK Center's Indonesia Support Group use West Papua to refer to the western half of New Guinea. In 1961 the West New Guinea Council, a democratic body of Papuan representatives, adopted the name "West Papua" to refer to the territory, which the Dutch colonial administration intended to transition to self rule. Papuan leaders continue to use the name West Papua, as do prominent international NGOs. During the past 50 years, the territory has been known by many other names: West New Guinea or Netherlands New Guinea (under Dutch colonial administration); West Irian (under initial Indonesian rule); Irian Jaya (the official Indonesian name from 1973 until January 7, 2002); and Papua (the official Indonesian name until the 2004 partition of the territory by executive order of Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri).



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