Groups Urge U.S. Action on West Papua Rights as Security Situation
Contact: John M. Miller, ETAN, +1-718-596-7668
Lynn Barclay, Land is Life, +1-413-320-9510
Ed McWilliams, WPAT, +1-575-648-2078
April 10, 2009 - Human rights organizations have urged the U.S. government and
Congress to investigate and act on the continued violations of human rights in
The letter from the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT), Land Is Life, and the East
Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) highlighted the deteriorating
security situation in West Papua.
developments underscore the urgency of U.S.
Government and Congressional action to address
the crisis in West Papua.
As the letter was being sent, the security situation in West Papua
continued to deteriorate, with reports of
additional armed clashes in the Papuan capital of Jayapura as well as the
cities of Biak,
Nabire and Wamena. Violent mass arrests were also taking place.
"These developments underscore the urgency of U.S.
Government and Congressional action to address the crisis in West Papua," said
Ed McWilliams of WPAT. McWilliams is a retired senior U.S. Foreign Service
Officer who served in Jakarta. "Washington must press Jakarta to deal with
Papuans fundamental grievances."
The letter called on the U.S. to investigate and condemn recent human rights
violations and urged "the U.S. Government and Congress... to press for an
internationally facilitated, senior level dialogue between the Indonesian
Government and Papuans, including Papuan civil society, to address long-standing
Papuan concerns and grievances." Among these are calls for demilitarization of
the territory and an end to repression and release of those arrested for
peaceful protest, provision of essential services, and self-determination.
The letter was also sent to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and key
members of Congress on East Asian and foreign
A copy of the letter is below.
April 9, 2009
Senator John F. Kerry, Chair, Foreign Relations Committee
Rep. Howard L. Berman, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee
In the past week, the Indonesian military and police have reacted with extreme
violence to growing peaceful, public protests in several cities throughout West
Papua. On April 6, Brimob police shot at least eleven peaceful protesters, four
of whom are in critical condition. A primary-school age child was among the
wounded, according to hospital officials. On April 3, police in the West Papua
capital Jayapura, broke into the office of the Papuan Customary Council, a
legally recognized organization representing over one million Papuans, arresting
over a dozen people, an unknown number of whom remained incarcerated. The police
also seized Customary Council office files and equipment. In Wamena, the police
arrested three Papuan students.
This latest spate of government violence targeting peaceful protesters follows a
series of arrests of dissenters under charges of "subversion" and "incitement,"
two provisions of law dating back to the Dutch colonial era that have been
widely criticized by the UN and human rights organizations.
In recent months, Papuans have been demonstrating in support of calls for the
release of Papuans detained for peaceful exercise of their rights to assembly
and freedom of speech, as documented by international human rights organizations
such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch among others. Demonstrators
also have demanded action to afford Papuans their right to self-determination, a
right denied them in a referendum organized by the Indonesian government in
1969, widely recognized to have been rigged.
Indonesian military and police continue to restrict international efforts to
monitor developments in West Papua. Four Dutch journalists last week were
detained and deported notwithstanding the fact they held appropriate visas.
Those few international officials who do manage to enter West Papua endure
disruption of their itineraries by security forces. The 2007 visit by
Congressman Eni Faleomavaega and Ambassador Cameron Hume is one example.
Indonesian security forces also threaten many Papuans who seek to communicate
with visiting officials such as UN human rights official Hina Jilani in 2007.
Even Jakarta-based diplomats face bureaucratic hurdles in attempts to visit West
The U.S. Government maintains that it respects the territorial integrity of the
Indonesian state and, on the basis of this policy position, has been reluctant
to address the growing human rights crisis in West Papua. At the same time, the
U.S. Government and the international community have a responsibility to protect
human rights in those circumstances where a local government either will not
protect those rights or is complicit in their violation.
We call on the U.S. Government and Congress to investigate this clear evidence
of human rights abuse in West Papua.
The U.S. Government and Congress should also publicly express to the Government
of Indonesia in the strongest terms, their opposition to these violations of
We also urge the U.S. Government and Congress, in concert with others in the
international community, to press for an internationally facilitated, senior
level dialogue between the Indonesian Government and Papuans, including Papuan
civil society, to address long-standing Papuan concerns and grievances. These
include calls for demilitarization of West Papua, an end to repression of
Papuans exercising their human rights and release from detention of those
arrested for peaceful dissent, provision of services essential to health and
economic security, and Papuan self-determination.
John M. Miller
National Coordinator, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
Director, Life is Life
West Papua Advocacy Team
cc: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Ranking Member, Committee on Foreign Relations Committee
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member, Committee on Foreign Affairs
Rep. Eni Faleomavega, chair, Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global
Rep. Donald A. Manzullo, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and
the Global Environment
Sen. James Webb, Chair, Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Sen. Johnny Isakson, Ranking Member, Senate Subcommittee on East Asian and
West Papua Report
KONTRAS: COMMISSION FOR THE DISAPPEARED AND VICTIMS OF
9 April 2009
[Translated by TAPOL]
Incidents in Papua prior to 2009 elections
Avoid Conflicts and Halt Repression against Civil Society
KontraS regrets the occurrence of several incidents of violence prior to the
elections in Papua which have spread a sense of anxiety among Papuan people. The
latest was an incident last night when eight students were arrested following an
attack on the head office of the police in Abepura and a fire at the office of
the Rector of Cenderawasih University in Waena.
The police declared that the conflict in Papua would be subject to special
handling during the election period. However a number of incidents have
occurred. Such special treatment should not lead to acts of violence and
violations of human rights.
KontraS has received the following reports of recent incidents:
On 7 April: The arrest of Markus Haluk, secretary-general of the Leadership
Council of the Association of Students from the Central Highlands, on charges of
spreading information and provocation for calling for a boycott of the election
On 8 April: The killing of three members of the public in Wamena, with two
others critically injured and now being treated at Wamena Hospital
On 8 April at 11pm, rumours circulated that a member of the police force had
been stabbed by an unidentified person near Youfeta Market, Abepura. In
response, the police conducted sweepings of everyone along the main roads.
On 8 April at 1.30am, a group of unidentified people attacked the head office of
the police in the vicinity of Abepura and one person was shot dead.
On 8 April at 2.30am, the Rector's Building at Cendrawasih University was burnt
down by unidentified people. Police conducted sweepings which resulted in the
arrest of eight students at the Minmin Students Mess, one of whom sustained
The 2009 elections represent a step in the direction of democratisation.
Although they have been involved in a number of conflicts, the people of Papua
are entitled to enjoy a time of peace during the period of the elections.
We call on all sides to exercise restraint and avoid the use of violence. At the
same time, we call on the security forces, in particular the police, to uphold
professional standards and respect the human rights of those people who are
critical of the 2009 elections. We are very much afraid that excessive behaviour
by the police which has been part of the problem in Papua up until the present
has been incited by provocative actions by outside elements.
In particular, we request that the additional forces for the army and police as
instructed by the chief of police of Indonesia should not lead to the conflict
spreading and there should be no further acts of violence. In addition, we urge
that these events should not result in further acts of repression against the
people in general.
Jakarta, 9 April 2009
Syamsul Alam Agus
Division of Politics, Law and Human Rights.
AM - Protesters shot in Papua
[This is the print version of story
AM - Thursday, 9 April , 2009 08:14:35
Reporter: Matt Brown
TONY EASTLEY: Not everyone is celebrating Indonesia's exercise in democracy.
Some of the Melanesian residents of the Indonesian province of Papua are
urging a boycott.
Human Rights activists say Indonesian paramilitary police shot around nine
people attending a pro-independence protest this week and Amnesty
International wants to see an independent investigation of the allegations.
The ABC has obtained footage of the clash between police and protestors.
National security correspondent Matt Brown reports.
MATT BROWN: The small protest in the town of Nabire on Monday was part of a
long and brutal history. First Indonesian troops invaded, then the UN
endorsed a deeply flawed vote to make Papua a province of Indonesia in the
1960s. But ever since, local activists have been campaigning for a fresh
poll and independence.
Indonesia's national elections are not the poll they've got in mind and on
Monday they gathered to call for a boycott.
Melbourne-based Papuan human rights activist, Paula Makabory.
PAULA MAKABORY: They say that we are not Indonesian; we are Papuan
Melanesians. So we will not vote in the Indonesian public election.
MATT BROWN: In the footage obtained by the ABC the protesters carry a banner
declaring as much. Whoever recorded it is standing amidst the Indonesian
security forces. While it's hard to tell what happens next, the sounds are
(Sound of shooting and people shouting.)
Paramilitary police armed with automatic weapons run towards the crowd. Then
an officer is rushed back to a police truck with a traditional arrow
sticking out of his leg. A colleague pulls it out quickly before he's
bundled into the back.
The images are focused on the police. One chuckles as he displays a grazed
leg. But human rights activists say at least nine other people were hurt;
several suffered critical injuries.
Amnesty International's Isabelle Arradon says this is not the first incident
in the town and there should be an independent investigation.
ISABELLE ARRADON: It is the third demonstration since December 2008 where
some demonstrators in Nabire have been shot by police. Basically the use of
firearms should only be used as a last resort. It is very shocking that a
10-year-old boy was injured during the demonstration on Monday.
MATT BROWN: Paula Makabory says the violence was orchestrated by
provocateurs employed by the Indonesian military.
PAULA MAKABORY: According to the eyewitnesses, those six people are the
militias, are the (inaudible) militias from Indonesian security forces who
are using the situation to triggering conflicts between demonstrators and
MATT BROWN: Without an impartial inquiry it's hard to know what's been
happening in this part of Papua but the footage clearly shows uniformed
officers working with other men dressed in civilian clothes. Some of them
are wearing crash helmets, another wearing military-style pants and a
cut-off t-shirt brandishes an automatic rifle.
Democracy at this end of the archipelago is indeed a fraught thing.
TONY EASTLEY: Matt Brown.