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The West Papua Report*
May 2004
The following is the fifth in a series of monthly reports prepared by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights-Indonesia Support Group providing updates regarding 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

  • Indonesian Crackdown on Observers/Activists
  • Resolution on Indonesian Military Receives Strong Shareholder Backing
  • Vanuatu to Host Roundtable Meeting On West Papua]
  • Australia Blacklists some Indonesian Special Forces
  • West Papua Action Network Launched
  • Three Men Accused of Stealing Gun Released
  • Mining a Sacred Land

     Our readers will note a change in the name of our monthly report, previously termed the Papua Report. We do not undertake this name change lightly, but feel compelled to do so because of the Indonesian government's recent politicized division and renaming of the territory into three separate provinces: West Irian Jaya, Central Irian Jaya and Papua. Despite recent speculation that the division would not come to pass, in recent elections parliamentarians were selected to represent the province of West Irian Jaya." The RFK Center's Indonesia Support Group has decided to use West Papua to refer to the western half of New Guinea "in order to avoid undue confusion."

    In 1961 the West New Guinea Council, a democratic body of Papuan leaders, proposed changing the name of the territory to "West Papua". 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 recent division).

    Indonesian Crackdown on Observers/Activists

    The Indonesian Government has confirmed its intention to compel the departure from Indonesia of Sidney Jones, a highly regarded observer on developments in the Indonesian archipelago. While the Government has offered no official reasons for refusing to renew a visa for Ms. Jones, who leads the office of the International Crisis Group, her critics, notably in the national intelligence service, implied that her reporting could undermine national stability in the lead-up to presidential elections July 5. Efforts by the ICG and Ms. Jones to elicit specific GOI charges have been unsuccessful. Twenty other international and Indonesian non-governmental organizations are also under scrutiny and may also be shut down. The entire foreign staff of the ICG in Jakarta will not have their work permits renewed.

    According to the Jakarta Post, Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief, A. M Hendropriyono warned that the government could exercise "old measures" against the outspoken NGOs, referring to the use of violence to clamp down on government critics under the past regime. "Since we are in a new era, we do not do that, but should we find that these people are continuing to sell out their country we may return to the old measures," he remarked.

    A group of influential Indonesians, including Todung Mulya Lubis, chair of the Jakarta branch of the ICG, formally protested the move. But ABC Australia reported on June 2 that Ms. Jones stated, ìMy colleague, Francesca [an Australian researcher] and I were ordered last night to leave the country immediately by Immigration. We think we have a seven day grace period, but we expect to be leaving on Saturday or Sunday.î Despite the Indonesian governmentís attempt, through its Foreign Minister, to downplay the case by arguing that Ms. Jones expulsion is simply ìan administrative matterî, it appears clearly be a deportation.

    Ms. Jones has written widely on the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalist terror groups in Indonesia, boldly noting their links to the Indonesian military. In her ICG capacity and in her previous association with Human Rights Watch, Ms. Jones has also reported extensively on human rights abuse in Papua, Aceh, and other parts of Indonesia. Her work is widely regarded as balanced and authoritative. State Intelligence Agency director Hendropriyono referred in particular to ICG/Ms. Jones' reports on Aceh and Papua as evoking the government's displeasure.

    Resolution on Indonesian Military Receives Strong Shareholder Backing

    New York, NY ñ Shareholders of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., (FCX) strongly backed a proposal at the companyís annual shareholder meeting to suspend Freeportís controversial payments to the Indonesian military until an FBI investigation into the deadly 2002 attack on the companyís entire international school teaching staff is completed and the perpetrators are brought to justice. The resolution was put forward by the New York City Employeesí Retirement System and the New York City Teachersí Retirement System. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved the proposal over Freeport managementís opposition.

    The resolution received 8% of the yes vote, representing 9.5 million shares ($370 million). The New York City funds account for $ 28 million of the yes vote. Only 3% in favor was needed in order to bring a similar resolution next year. The AFL-CIO, the largest trade union consortium in the United States, representing some 14 million U.S. workers, backed the resolution and gave special priority to it as a Key Vote for 2004. TIAA-CREF, another influential institutional investor, abstained from the vote. All the American schoolteachers who survived the August 2002 attack are TIAA-CREF investors. Noting the critically important role that Freeport investors could play in backing up U.S. government efforts to seek justice in the case, ambush survivor Patsy Spier, whose husband Rick Spier was murdered in the attack, urged TIAA-CREF to support the resolution. "By voting ëyesí," she wrote, "you will be supporting the investigation and help stop such lawlessness from happening again."
    In a statement at the Freeport shareholder meeting, Patrick Doherty of the NYC Comptrollerís Office expressed his officeís concern about Freeportís potential legal liability, and the risks to the reputation and share values of the company. Since the mid-1990s, Freeportís relationship with the Indonesian military (known by its acronym, TNI) already has led to tens of millions of dollars in corporate payments ñ directly to the TNI, to defend Freeport from lawsuits brought by victims of TNI human rights abuses, and in an out-of-court settlement with the survivors and family members of those murdered in the 2002 attack. The NYC Comptrollerís Office believes that Freeportís ongoing payments to the military likely are in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, opening investors to additional liabilities and losses.

    The NYC Pension Funds filed a resolution last year, which Freeport successfully challenged at the SEC, but the case led to Freeportís acknowledgement that it had paid $5.6 million to the Indonesian military in 2002 (and $4.7 million in 2001). The amounts were so excessive that Indonesian lawmakers raised concerns about the payments establishing a mercenary relationship between the TNI and Freeport.

    Vanuatu Offers to Host Roundtable Meeting On West Papua

    West Papua News reported that the Republic of Vanuatuís Foreign Minister announced his governmentís plan to host a roundtable meeting between the government of Indonesia and West Papuan representatives. The Minister stressed the importance of Vanuatuís move to host the meeting in order to start peaceful dialogue, something that West Papuan leaders and civil society have long called for.

    The minister also conveyed the Indonesian governmentís readiness to participate in the meeting. No date has been set for the dialogue. Previously, New Zealand had offered to serve as mediator in a dialogue between West Papuan leaders and the government of Indonesia. However, New Zealandís offer was rejected by Indonesia.

    Australia Blacklists some Indonesian Special Forces

    ABC Australia reported that Australia is blacklisting some of the Indonesian Special Forces (KOPASSUS) from participating in the Indonesia-Australia Joint Military training amid Australiaís effort to resume its relations with the Indonesian military.

    "We have said that we cannot work with those who have committed crimes in the past. This has not made it easy to develop that relationship but we're trying to achieve a win-win situation here", stated Australiaís Defense Minister, Robert Hill in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

    Australia and Indonesia military relations ended after the Australian military intervention in East Timor in 1999. KOPASSUS personnel are alleged to have been involved in various human rights violations, including the killing of two American and one Indonesian teacher at Freeport International School in West Papua.

    West Papua Action Network Launched May 13, 2004

    West Papua Action Network (WPAN) was officially opened by John Rumbiak, the leading West Papuan human rights advocate who is also an advisor to the West Papua based Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (ELSHAM). WPAN has been established by American citizens who are interested in defending the rights of the Papuan people. Mr. Rumbiak is currently on a speaking tour of ten U.S. cities to raise awareness about the on going human rights violations in West Papua.

    Recently Mr. Rumbiak visited Ireland where a majority of national parliamentarians have requested that the United Nations conduct a formal review of the 1969 "Act of Free Choice," during which 1,022 Papuans were hand picked by the military to proclaim unanimously their desire to be part of Indonesia.

    Patsy Spier is one of the eight American, and three Indonesian, survivors of an ambush that took place in West Papua on August 31, 2002. She says, "I knew I had to do something about the evil that happened on that mountain. My role became clear when the Indonesian National Police reported that the Indonesian military (TNI) were apparently behind the ambush, and then the TNI exonerated themselves of any involvement." Patsy's fight for justice is an inspiration to all Americans. Military aid to Indonesia under the IMET program has been blocked until the TNI fully cooperates with a U.S. investigation into the attack.

    Three Men Accused of Stealing Gun Released

    West Papua based Institute for Human Rights and Advocacy (ELSHAM) reported that three men from Muara Tami Sub-District, West Papua, who were accused of stealing an M 16 riffle from an Indonesian soldier had been freed after being arbitrarily detained for three days at a military base. Musa Selongkik, Yali Kabak and Yusak Kabak revealed to ELSHAM that they were tortured while in detention. ìYali Kabak was beaten with rod and cane then kicked repeatedly so that he bled for three days. Yali reported that he was forced to lie on the floor while a wooden balk was pressed on both his legs during which he was forced to admit that he was the one stealing the gunî. Their detention created fears among the local community around their area, and it led thirty villagers to seek refuge at ELSHAMís office in Jayapura
    Mining a Sacred Land

    The Spring 2004 issue of the journal Human Rights Dialogue, published by the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, includes an essay on West Papua written by RFK Support Group member Abigail Abrash Walton. ìMining a Sacred Landî looks at New Orleans-based Freeport McMoRan's gold and copper mining operations on Amungme and Kamoro lands in Papua. The issue as a whole addresses the nexus of human rights and the environment. It is available online at


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