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The West Papua Report
June-July 2004
The following is the sixth 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

  • RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights Questions U.S. Justice Department Announcement on Deadly Freeport Ambush
  • Declassified U.S. Documents Open Window on U.S. Role in Indonesian Takeover of West Papua
  • U.S. and Australian Forces Meet at Senior Level with Indonesian Special Forces Unit
  • U.S. Senators Urge U.N. to Appoint Special Representative for West Papua and Aceh
  • Indonesian President Approves Proposal to Withdraw Military from ìGuardingî Freeport McMoRanís Mine in West Papua (and ExxonMobilís Natural Gas Operations in Aceh)
  • U.S. Church Conference Passes Resolution Supporting Justice and Self- Determination for West Papua
  • RFK Reporting & Analysis on the Indonesian National Elections in West Papua
  • Court Challenges to Jakartaís Plan to Partition Papua
  • U.N. Protests Alleged Mistreatment of Papuan Prisoners
  • Judge Finds in Favor of Military in Slander Suit Against ELSHAM
  • Human Rights Court Denies Request to Halt Trial of Senior Indonesian Police Commanders in West Papua; Court Denies Police Abuse Victimsí Class Action Lawsuit Seeking Compensation
  • Police Officials Fail to Respond to Summons in Another Abuse/Murder Investigation
  • Hundreds of Papuans Rally to Demand Dismissal of Abusive Police
  • Puzzling Death of Papuan Theological Student Possibly Linked to Efforts to Halt the Islamicization of West Papuaís Highlands
  • Laskar Jihad: Purportedly Disbanded Islamic Fundamentalist Militant Group Re-Surfaces


RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights Questions U.S. Justice Department Announcement on Deadly Freeport Ambush

On June 25, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the results thus far of an FBI investigation into the August 30, 2002 assault on a group of U.S. citizens within the mining operations area of New Orleans-based Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc., in Timika, West Papua, Indonesia. In a press release issued the next day, the RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights responded that the announcement raised many more questions than it answered about the investigation of the crime. Portions of the press statement follow; for the full text, please see:

The federal grand jury indictment names a single Indonesian citizen whom it contends was a leader of a group of Papuan independence fighters known as the Free Papua Organization (Organisasi Papua Merdeka or OPM). The Indonesian military (Tentara Nasional Indonesia or TNI) and Freeport corporate management were quick to lay blame on the OPM at the time of the attack. The TNI's claim, however, soon fell apart in the face of evidence contained in the initial investigation carried out by the Indonesian police, as well as the research of the Papuan human rights organization ELSHAM, all of which point to the Indonesian military having played a central role in the attack.

Those investigations and research pointed out, among other findings, that Papuan independence elements lack the weaponry and ammunition to conduct a sustained 45-minute attack. The site of the attack is tightly secured by the TNI, rendering the area impossible to access or exit without TNI cooperation. The attackers were well-trained sharpshooters. The attack transpired only a few hundred meters from permanently staffed TNI security posts, but TNI personnel appeared on the scene only after the assault ended

The RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights takes no position on the guilt or innocence of the individual accused. However, any conclusion that the TNI was not instrumental in the attack ignores a bloody past record replete with instances of TNI organizing, equipping and directing "militia" attacks in order to evade responsibility and ñ in the case of Freeport, to justify its ìsecurityî presence in the area for which Freeport makes multi-million-dollar payments to the TNI on an annual basis. [See related item below re: Indonesian President Approves Proposal to Withdraw Military from ìGuardingî Freeport.] The TNI's use of such a modus operandi is evident in its use of the infamous East Timor militias as proxies to wreck havoc in East Timor during and after the United Nations-sponsored referendum in 1999.

Justice in the matter of the Timika attack ñ which killed two U.S. citizens, one Indonesian citizen and wounded eleven others ñ requires a thorough investigation not only of who might have participated in the assault, but more importantly, who organized, enabled and directed the attackers.î

Declassified U.S. Documents Open Window on U.S. Role in Indonesian Takeover of West Papua

The Washington, DC-based National Security Archive has released previously classified U.S. government documents revealing that the U.S. ignored reporting from its own officials that detailed Jakartaís efforts to rig what was to have been a 1969 United Nations-supervised plebiscite on the sovereignty of West Papua, thereby ensuring that the territory would remain under Indonesian control.

The documents, released to mark the 35th anniversary of the 1969 ìAct of Free Choiceî (AFC), show that the U.S. government acquiesced to Indonesian government actions that denied the people of West Papua their right to a genuine act of self-determination as pledged in an earlier U.S.-brokered agreement between the governments of The Netherlands and Indonesia. The U.S. also ignored clear evidence of human rights abuses and intimidation by the Indonesian military targeting Papuans in the run-up to the AFC.

The documents reveal that then-U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger advised President Richard Nixon to back the Indonesian governmentís takeover actions in West Papua. (According to corporate records filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, Kissinger has since profited personally from Indonesian control over West Papua as a board director and retained consultant to the mining company Freeport McMoRan, which since 1967 has held a contract with the Indonesian central government to mine West Papuaís copper and gold deposits.)

Parliamentarians, Nobel laureates and other eminent persons and institutions around the globe are pressing U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to order a review of the U.N.ís role in the AFC.

U.S. and Australian Forces Meet at Senior Level with Indonesian Special Forces Unit

The Australian daily The Age has reported that the U.S. military participated alongside personnel from the Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) at a multi-lateral anti-terror conference held in Australia in mid-June. The U.S. military recently has kept Kopassus at arms length due to its record of egregious human rights abuses.

Representing Kopassus at the multi-national conference was the commander of Indonesia's Detachment 81, the special counter-terrorism force within Kopassus. Detachment 81 was responsible for the kidnapping, torture and murder of anti-Suharto activists in 1998. In West Papua, Kopassuspersonnel were responsible for the abduction, torture and assassination of Papuan civic leader Theys Eluay in 2001.

U.S. Senators Urge U.N. to Appoint Special Representative for West Papua and Aceh

In a June 28 letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, 19 U.S. Senators called for him to appoint a Special Representative to Indonesia to monitor and report on the situations in West Papua and Aceh and to ìmake recommendations regarding steps the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly might undertake to end the troubling and deadly conflicts that continue to engulf these regions.î

Citing long-standing and well-documented concerns regarding the human rights situation in West Papua and the Indonesian governmentís recent act of bad faith in unilaterally dividing the territory into separate provinces, the Senators stated that ìThe international community has remained too quiet for too long regarding the conflicts in Aceh and Papua. The scale of human rights violations in these two Indonesian provinces warrants special international attention.î

Indonesian President Approves Proposal to Withdraw Military from ìGuardingî Freeport McMoRanís Mine in West Papua (and ExxonMobilís Natural Gas Operations in Aceh)

Indonesiaís interim Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Hari Sabarno told The Jakarta Post in late June that President Megawati Sukarnoputri has approved a draft decree that would end militaryís role in providing security at the countryís estimated 66 ìvitalî mining, oil, gas and other installations. The decree would place security responsibility with the respective corporations operating the installations and charge police with improving their capability to provide security at these sites. The decree also contains a loophole permitting police to ìinviteî the military to provide security at installations.

Presidential frontrunner Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reportedly originally proposed the policy change when he served as Indonesiaís mining minister. The Indonesian military has opposed the decree because payments for security services received from mining, oil and gas multinationals like Freeport McMoRanís gold and copper mining operations in West Papua and ExxonMobilís natural gas facilities in Aceh provide the military with a significant source of income. Indeed, roughly only one third of the military's operational budget is covered by the Indonesian government, with the remaining two thirds raised by the military itself, using a number of legal and illegal methods.

Military personnel financially supported by Freeport and ExxonMobil have committed severe and well-documented human rights violations. As one western analyst told the Brisbane Courier Mail, "The military has done a terrible job in these regions and companies have to accept a huge risk in having military security. They are paying them millions and yes they perpetrate human rights abuses. You just can't conduct ethical resource investment here with security provided by the military." (Source: ìMilitary to quit mine protection,î Marianne Kearney, The Courier Mail, June 26, 2004)

The announcement on approval for the draft decree comes on the heels of reports last February that the military intended to renege on a related proposal made last year by Indonesian Armed Forces Commander Gen. Endriartono Sutarto to remove military troops from Freeportís mining operations, instead maintaining the controversial deployment of a reported 550 personnel in the area. Sutarto proposed the troop removal in response to revelations that Freeport was making direct payments of roughly $6 million a year to the military.

U.S. Church Conference Passes Resolution Supporting Justice and Self-Determination for West Papua

The California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) recently passed a resolution on West Papua, calling on the Conference to urge the U.N. Secretary General to ìinstitute a timeline for a review of the United Nations ìAct of Free Choice.îî The resolution also urges the international division of the UMC, the General Board of Global Ministries, to make the issue of self-determination for West Papua a priority for social justice purposes and to support education of its church members on the issue.

RFK Reporting & Analysis on Indonesian National Elections in West Papua
(Report from Miriam Young, Program Officer, RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights)

I observed the July 5th presidential elections as a member of the election monitoring delegation of the U.S.-based Carter Center. This report considers the specific voting-day irregularities and climate that I observed directly as well as overall contextual information and analysis that is relevant to evaluating the election experience in West Papua.

The Carter Center, which sent approximately 30 teams throughout the country, received permission to send observers to West Papua and Aceh, but only after much bureaucratic delay. Observers were allowed only in the capital of Aceh, Banda Aceh. In the Malukus, which have been plagued by Indonesian military-backed religious sectarian violence since 2000 (see related item below re: Laskar Jihad.), observers were allowed to go to the island of Ternate in North Maluku, but not to Ambon in the South, which has been experiencing a recurrence of the violence.

My observations were limited to the Jayapura municipal area of West Papua ñ the geographic equivalent of observing the voting for the entire state of California based on visits to polling sites in Sacramento. I observed polling stations in a variety of neighborhoods ñ a middle class/affluent non-Papuan, mixed Papuan and non-Papuan, mixed poor area of Papuan and non-Papuan where there had been serious registration problems during the April legislative elections, a mainly transmigrant settlement and a poorer mainly Papuan settlement on the edge of a transmigrant settlement.

Overall there was a lack of enthusiasm among the voters on election day, despite a good turnout in numbers (approximately 75%, lower than the 90% turnout for the April legislative elections). This turned out to be a nationwide observation, so it was not specific to Jayapura. Many reasons have been given for the lack of visible enthusiasm ñ that it reflects the growing democratic maturity in the population (not consistent, however, with long-time Asian democracies such as the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka where elections are always eventful), that Indonesians were not excited about their range of choices among the candidates, even that they were tired from having gotten up in the early morning hours to watch the final World Cup soccer game.

My team of two persons observed many small irregularities in the voting process throughout the day. For example, votersí fingers were not checked for ink when the voters presented themselves at the polling station, the ink used was not indelible, some registration lists ñ while present at the polling station, were not checked, ballot boxes were placed too close together, some of the polling station officials were not well trained, and there were generally no more than one or two party witnesses present at any one polling station. Still, when looked at as a whole, none of these factors would seem to have altered significantly the outcome of the vote.

The main problem encountered was that of the double punching of the paper ballots which occurred as a result of voters not unfolding the ballot papers before making their punch. In at least one polling station, officials informed us that half of the ballots had to be counted as invalid because of this double punching. News of the national election officialsí decision to count these double-punched ballots reached West Papua only after the polling stations closed, since it is two hours ahead of Jakarta time. The sub-district office, the first stage where ballot boxes were collected, became the site of a laborious re-examination of the invalid ballots. In the office my team observed, the re-counting of invalid ballots from eight polling stations was done carefully and conscientiously despite the clear fatigue of all involved.

Two police officers as well as several ìcivil guardsî were posted at each polling station throughout the country. In areas with a greater Papuan presence, I did observe a heavier Indonesian police presence in the vicinity. At least half of these police officers carried automatic weapons casually across their chests

Indeed, threats of and actual police violence have marred the electoral experience in West Papua. On the eve of Indonesiaís April 5 parliamentary elections, Indonesian police shot dead a Papuan who peacefully urged fellow villagers to protest the elections by boycotting the vote (see RFK Center April 2004 Papua Report). Police officials said they shot Marius Kogoya for allegedly trying to discourage people from voting in the legislative election. At the same time, more than 40 percent of the voting irregularities that required re-balloting in the April 5 nation-wide election transpired in West 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.

In West Papua, the vote yielded Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) with the top number of votes, Gen. Wiranto second, with current President Megawati Sukarnoputri third. Nationally, the positions of Wiranto and Megawati are reversed. This reflects the strong presence of the Golkar political party in the region which, however, still was not able to dislodge SBY from first place. With much more at stake for the two candidates (Yudhoyono and Megawati) in the run-off election, to be held September 20th, there is likely to be more incentive to find ways to influence the election.

Papuans are deeply disappointed in the actions of the current president, thus Yudhoyono is the only one who may offer some change. He has stated that he would implement the Special Autonomy Law for the territory, and would favor non-military means to resolving the four-decades-long conflict between Papuans seeking self-determination and the Jakarta-based Indonesian central government. It remains to be seen whether he will be successful in bending the military to his will rather than the other way around.

Civil society organizations believe that outside monitors are of limited use in deterring election fraud. This may be true. There are many opportunities to subvert an election other than manipulating the ballots themselves, such as the use of targeted violence by government forces or intimidation via increased troop presence. An international presence does, however, allow an opportunity for outside observers to gain access to areas otherwise difficult to reach. The Carter Center will keep a small group of long-term observers in the country until October, including in West Papua, from which a broader picture may emerge.

Court Challenges to Jakartaís Plan to Partition West Papua

Efforts by a broad cross section of Papuans to block the Indonesian Government's efforts to partition West Papua into three provinces saw some progress in June when the State Administrative Court ruled against a law that established Abraham Octavianus Atururi as governor of the newly created province of "West Irian Jaya." The Court ruled that the appointment was contrary to the 2001 law on Special Autonomy for West Papua (on which President Megawati Sukarnoputri reneged when her administration failed to implement self-rule measures required by the law, and she instead issued the January 2003 executive order for partition).

Meanwhile, the court process calling for judicial review of the decree ordering the division of West Papua into three provinces is still ongoing in Indonesiaís Constitutional Court. RFK Human Rights Award Laureate Bambang Widjojanto filed the case on behalf of West Papuaís provincial legislature speaker John Ibo and the Advocacy Team for West Papua's Special Autonomy. In testimony to the court, both the Governor of Papua and the Bishop of Jayapura warned of the possibility that a peopleís movement seeking independence is likely to be the consequence if special autonomy is not implemented.

U.N. Protests Alleged Mistreatment of Papuan Prisoners

In April 2004, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Theo van Boven reported on the case of seven Papuan prisoners held in connection with an April 2003 burglary of weapons from a military garrison in Wamena who reportedly continue to face mistreatment in detention. Raising the case during the 60th U.N. Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/2004/56/Add.1), van Boven stated that he had sent two urgent appeals to the Indonesian Government with regard to the allegation of arbitrary detention and torture against several of the suspects in the case.

Ms. Anum Siregar, a member of the legal team for the "Wamena Seven," announced that the prisoners have been unable to meet with their families or to take physical exercise as a consequence of the police/military take-over of the facility used for meetings and exercise (the 1702 Military District Command of Jayawijaya). The legal team also contends that the prisoners are not receiving needed medical assistance including for illnesses associated with mistreatment at the hands of the authorities.

The Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has established an Inquiry Commission on Human Rights Violations based on the allegation that the military and police committed gross human rights violations, including one death by torture, in its pursuit of those who stole the weapons at the Wamena military facility. This Commission is scheduled to complete its investigation soon.

Judge Finds in Favor of Military in Slander Suit Against ELSHAM

On June 30, the Jayapura District Court decided in favor of the Indonesian military in a slander suit filed against the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (ELSHAM), West Papuaís leading human rights organization. The suit was based on public statements made by ELSHAM Supervisor and RFK Indonesia Support Group member John Rumbiak regarding alleged military involvement in the August 2002 deadly ambush on Freeport schoolteachers. (See related item, lead piece above.)

Presiding Judge Ebo ordered Rumbiak and then-ELSHAM Director Johannes Bonay to publicly apologize to the Indonesian Army, especially the Trikora Military Command, through national print and television media and pay a fine of Rp 50 million (US$5,263), a small percentage of the Rp 50 billion sought by the military.

Aloysius Renwarin, ELSHAMís director and defense lawyer for Rumbiak and Bonay, said ELSHAM would consider filing an appeal. The other original defendants in the slander suit ñ Koran Tempo daily and its chief editor, and Suara Karya daily and its chief editor ñ reached out-of-court settlements with the military.

Human Rights Court Denies Request to Halt Trial of Senior Indonesian Police Commanders in West Papua; Court Denies Police Abuse Victimsí Class Action Lawsuit Seeking Compensation

Indonesiaís Human Rights Court has refused defense motions to halt the trial of two senior police officials, Deputy Chief Brig. Gen. Johny Wainal Usman and Papua Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Daud Sihombing.

The alleged abuses took place on Dec. 7, 2000, in the town of Abepura, near the West Papua capital Jayapura when, following an attack on the local police station by unknown elements, the police detained, assaulted and/or tortured more than 105 Papuans, many of them students, whom the police suspected of having been involved in the attack. Three of the detainees were tortured to death.

The two police officers face potential jail terms of 25 years to life if found guilty of rights abuses, including failure to prevent their subordinates from committing rights violations. The two are also accused of failing to hand over their subordinates to the authorities for investigation and prosecution

At the same time, Justice Jalaluddin Amin dismissed a class action claim for compensation lodged by the victims of the police action, suggesting instead that they pursue their claims in a separate proceeding with the Jayapura Magistrate.

The demands for compensation include claims by 105 survivors as well as the family members of those who died as a result of the police assault. In addition to three Papuans confirmed killed in the 2001 assault, four other victims of the assault died, reportedly due to the consequences of police beatings and torture. Claimants seek compensation for wrongful deaths, permanent disabilities and other physical injuries. The claims also include property loss and chronic psychological damage, such as chronic traumatic syndromes resulting from beatings and torture.

The plaintiffs noted that the Provincial Government has provided no humanitarian assistance to the victims such as for medical treatment or burial expenses.

Police Officials Fail to Respond to Summons in Another Abuse/Murder Investigation

Former Papua Police Chief Inspector General I Made Mangku Pastika did not respond to a summons by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to testify about another abuse/murder case. At least 16 people were tortured and three killed in Wasior district in Manokwari regency of West Papua, in 2001 when police burned down dozens of homes in raids that were triggered by the killing of six Brimob police.

Pastikaís non-appearance reportedly was related to instructions of the National Police chief (General Da'i Bachtiar) for all police commanders to stay in their offices during the month-long presidential campaign period. A member of Komnas HAM, former Human Rights Minister Hasballah Saad, indicated that Pastika may be questioned after the election. In addition to Pastika, three other police officials failed to respond to the Komnas HAM summons. Pastika, widely praised for his independent investigation of the August 2002 deadly attack on Freeport McMoRan schoolteachers, was transferred out of West Papua in October 2002 to lead the police investigation of the nightclub bombing that month in his native Bali.

Hundreds of Papuans Rally to Demand Dismissal of Abusive Police

On June 15 in Biak's Numfor District, hundreds of citizens rallied peacefully to demand the dismissal of police officers suspected of beating a local official last June 9.

The victim, Biak city sub-district head Johanes Sopacau, reportedly is only the latest victim among local officials who are regularly preyed upon by members of the police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) which has long intimidated local citizens with impunity.

Puzzling Death of Papuan Theological Student Possibly Linked to Efforts to Halt the Islamicization of West Papuaís Highlands

Though rarely covered in the media, injury, disappearance and death are the "unexplained" penalty for protest by Papuans. An example of what many view as veiled intimidation took place in Jakarta in June.

Otopianus Wandikbo, a Papuan theological student, died on Saturday, June 5, 2004 at the Jatinegara train station in Jakarta where police contend he was hit by a train. According to teachers at the theological college in Jakarta where he was a student, however, Wandikbo's minor injuries (a bloody chin and two bloody knees) were not consistent with having been hit by a train.

Wandikbo was from the same village near Wamena as Yustinus Murib, a Papuan leader who was killed by the Indonesian military last November for his alleged involvement in the burglary of a weapons depot (see item above on Mistreatment of Papuan Prisoners). The death of Wandikbo, who was active in Papuan student activities, followed the recent submission of a formal proclamation letter by the churches in Wamena contesting the building of a mosque and pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in Wamena. There is speculation that Wandikbo may have been killed in retaliation for this attempt to challenge the controversial Islamicization of the largely Christian and animist Papuan Highlands.

Laskar Jihad: Purportedly Disbanded Islamic Fundamentalist Militant Group Re-Surfaces

An Islamic fundamentalist militia that has operated with the support of the Indonesian military in many areas, including West Papua, has resurfaced. Laskar Jihad, which announced its disbanding after the October 2002 bombing in Bali, has announced a comeback - confirming broad suspicion that it had merely been operating underground. Analysts say senior Indonesian military elements formed Laskar Jihad to create chaos that would destabilize the government of former reformist president Abdurrahman 'Gus Dur' Wahid who sought to establish civilian control over the military.

The group announced in late April it would send thousands of fighters to Ambon city, Maluku province, as long-running tensions there are rekindling. Laskar Jihad was responsible for much of the fighting in the 2000-2002 period when thousands of Christian and Muslim Moluccans died in sectarian violence.

Laskar Jihad has been present in West Papua for several years and also led sectarian fighting in Poso in Central Sulawesi province.

*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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