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:http://www.rfkmemorial.org/human_rights/1993.htm.
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
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
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
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
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
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
RFK Reporting & Analysis on Indonesian National Elections in West Papua
(Report from Miriam Young, Program Officer, RFK Memorial Center for Human
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
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
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
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
Police Officials Fail to Respond to Summons in Another Abuse/Murder
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
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
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
Laskar Jihad has been present in West Papua for several years and also
led sectarian fighting in Poso in Central Sulawesi province.