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
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,
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
happening to others, regardless of their nationality.
West Papuan Human Rights Groups Issue Statement Questioning
U.S. Department of Justice Announcement on Killing of U.S. and
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
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
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
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
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
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
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