West Papua Report June 2013 PDF Afdrukken E-mailadres
vrijdag 07 juni 2013 01:00


The Way Forward for Papuans

Reviewing the many problems menacing the Papuan people, the question arises: Is there still a role to be played by non-governmental organizations, including religious institutions and their leaders? It appears that there is hardly any NGO powerful enough to influence government policies. NGOs are less well organized and less qualified than a decade ago.

This is due in part to the migration of experienced staff to government or other organizations which offer better salaries than the NGOs. NGOs, nonetheless, try to cope with staffing and other problems and continue to advocate for the indigenous community's interests.

The position of church leaders is increasingly in question. Church leaders are much less vocal than a decade years ago. This reality is discouraging. Efforts to get religious leaders re-involved has been rather unsuccessful over the last years. There is new hope following the Papua-Kalimantan Forum which succeeded in sending a "wake-up call" to the Indonesian Bishops Conference in November 2012. After that conference some bishops once again have been speaking up for West Papua in rather clear terms.


I believe it is important that efforts turn toward the very urgent social-economic issues, including current population policies, people-centered economic development, a reduction in the negative impact of militarization, greater solidarity among Papuans themselves, and encouraging positive relations between indigenous Papuans to other ethnic groups.

At the same time, the indigenous communities are showing a significant loss of interest in the church. Attendance at Sunday services is notably decreasing in both the towns and inland.

Similarly, those Papuans active in advocating for West Papuan rights are now less inclined to consult with religious leaders. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was normal practice that almost any significant action would be discussed in advance with religious leaders. This practice has vanished almost completely. This can be read as a sign that activists feel that religious leaders have lost interest in being part of the public struggle for justice and truth because they fear creating tensions with the authorities.

I believe it is important that efforts turn toward the very urgent social-economic issues, including current population policies, people-centered economic development, a reduction in the negative impact of militarization, greater solidarity among Papuans themselves, and encouraging positive relations between indigenous Papuans to other ethnic groups. 

My sincere conviction is that issues, which might be better described as "urgent policies," should be on the agenda of any institution claiming to be committed to working for a solution to the problems in Papua and which seeks to remain credible in that effort.

These include:

  • strict control of migration;
  • ending large scale investment projects;
  • decreasing the military presence;
  • demanding better civil governmental policies;
  • promoting self-supporting food security for indigenous communities.

A dialogue between Papua and the Indonesian government would be a formidable instrument and the government has agreed to explore this option. Nonetheless, looking at the current reality in West Papua, the "exploration of the dialogue" should be accompanied by a stronger government commitment to implement the "urgent policies" mentioned above.

Essential Conditions for a trustworthy dialogue include the following:

  • implementation of "demographic control" that keeps the indigenous population balanced with regard to arriving migrants;
  • creation of people-centered economic development that puts an end to massive marginalization of the indigenous communities;
  • reducing militarization;
  • creating trust and removing the paralyzing fear among indigenous people;
  • improving the quality of civic administration so that it will become an effective presence;

The marginalization of the Papuan community is at a very critical level and fighting against that disastrous process has to become a joint commitment of as many as partners as can be found.

Papuan Political Prisoners Spurn Vague Presidential Offer of Release

Detained West Papuan leaders, New Zealand International reports, rejected a pledge by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to release them as part of a new, undefined "special autonomy program." A statement signed by 25 political prisoners in Abepura Prison said that rather than be released themselves, all of West Papua should be released from Indonesian colonization. Signatories included Filep Karma, who is serving 15 years, as well as Victor Yeimo who was detained earlier in May. Yeimo is a prominent leader of the KNPB who was arrested during a peaceful demonstration in which the authorities killed three protesters.

Papuans Behind Bars

The number of West Papuans detained for political activism has nearly doubled. The May updatefrom Papuans Behind Bars lists "at least 76 political prisoners in Papuan jails. The first two weeks of May saw scores of demonstrators arrested for their activities commemorating 50th anniversary of the administrative transfer of Papua to Indonesia" by the UN. The May report also chronicles excessive use of force by the security forces against peaceful protesters. A radio talk show host was arrested in Manokwari reportedly for discussing the districts financial difficulties. At the end of April 2013 there were at least 40 political prisoners in Papuan jails, according to the group.


"We open our heart and extend our hands to receive the lost Melanesian son back into the rightful Melanesian family."

International Support for Papuan Membership In Regional AssociationGrows

Flags of the Melanesian Spearhead group countries … Papua New Guinea (clockwise from top left), Kanaky (host territory), Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. (MSG Kantri)

A West Papuan delegation to New Caledonia (Kanaky) have found a receptive atmosphere for Papuan aspirations to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) leaders met with visiting senior officials of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) May 21 in Noumea. The FLNKS voiced support for West Papuan full membership in the MSG. 

FLNKS's Victor Tutugoro, incoming chair of the MSG said "The MSG is only for Melanesians and liberation movements within it. The FLNKS leadership would therefore be very happy to welcome the WPNCL as a new member of the Melanesian family. We open our heart and extend our hands to receive the lost Melanesian son back into the rightful Melanesian family." 

Support for West Papuan membership is growing. On March 27, Fijian Prime Minister Voge Bainmaramama expressed his country's support for West Papuan membership in the MSG. On April 3, Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses pledged support. Solomon Islands Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo gave similar assurances at meeting with a West Papuan delegation April 30. Senior leaders of Papua New Guinea, including the Deputy Prime Minister, have recently also given their public support.

The MSG is composed of four states: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Island and Vanuatu and one party, the FLNKS. The MSG next meets in late June. The proposal on the WPCNL's application must be agreed by consensus.

Indonesian Intelligence Agencies Claim Foreign Spies in West Papua

Indonesia's intelligence and defense agencies have again raised the specter of foreign agents operating under the cover of "researchers, NGO activists and journalists" in West Papua. Maj. Gen. Hartind Asrin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense, 
told the media that the Indonesian government was monitoring activities of the "foreign intelligence agents."

Asrin said that three agencies are handling the case, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Intelligence Agency, and the Armed Forces Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS). The agencies are reportedly examining foreign passports, visas, and study permits. Asrin assured that the Indonesian government concluded there has been "no serious threat or suspicious activity". 

WPAT Comment: 
Indonesia regularly resorts to claims of "spies" in West Papua as a basis for enforcing restrictions on legitimate international monitoring of developments in West Papua. As in this instance, such claims are invariably presented without substantiation. These restrictions contravene Indonesia's multilateral commitments under international conventions, as well as bilateral undertakings to friendly governments not to restrict access to West Papua.

Indonesia's Special Forces Massacre Papuan Civilians

West Papua Media, in a May 27 "special report" revealed growing evidence of a large scale massacre and a campaign of violence targeting West Papuan civilians by Indonesia's "Special Forces" (Kopassus).

The evidence cited in the report, from credible human rights reporters on the ground in central West Papua, contradict Indonesia government claims that no killings have taken place.

The multi-source report indicates that the killings occurred in the Tingginambut area of Puncak Jaya in the West Papuan highlands during much of the month of May. The brutal assaults followed the launch of a "sweeping" campaign by the Indonesian military and the infamous so-called "anti-terror" unit known as Detachment 88. This campaign began in late 2012 and accelerated in February 2013.

Whereas most such "sweeping" operations usually target villagers, killing civilians and driving others into nearby forests and mountains, the May killings appear also to have targeted local officials. According to West Papua Media victims include village chiefs who had been invited to attend the inauguration of the new West Papuan governor in Jayapura. Six of the officials reportedly were killed at a military roadblock at Ilu on the road to Mulia, May 8.

According to the special report, at least 18 headless or mutilated bodies have since been found in roadside ditches and drains. Victims appear to originate from the Mulia and Pirime areas of Tingginambut.


Activists believe that the existence of so many bodies points to a covert operation of killing and forced disappearances of indigenous Papuans in Puncak Jaya that has been operating since  April 1, 2013.

Unconfirmed but credible reports put the total toll of the "mysterious killings" at over 41 people to date. Activists from the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat or KNPB) believe that the existence of so many bodies points to "a covert operation of killing and forced disappearances of indigenous Papuans in Puncak Jaya that has been operating since 1 April 2013 until now." Activists from the KNPB are said to be among the casualties.

In addition to the killings, human rights activists in Puncak Jaya have also reported that women are being regularly raped by soldiers, with at least 12 documented cases since April and unconfirmed reports of many more. Two female high school students whose beaten bodies were found in Tingginambut were reportedly were raped by Kopassus officers.

The discovery of so many bodies has raised fears among the family members of 30 missing Papuans who have been searching for their kin across Puncak Jaya for over one month. The disappearances appear to be connected to the detention of at least 15 Papuan civilians by Kopassus in recent weeks. Their fate is unknown. According to a KNPB statement, a high-school aged youth was arrested in the town area and believed to have been tortured over a period of two weeks after which he was killed and beheaded, with his body placed in a sack and thrown under a bridge. His family is still hunting for his head, according the KNPB.

In addition, according to sources from the KNPB, two more victims, Yerson Wonda, the Secretary of KNPB in the Puncak Jaya region, and KNPB member and high school student Ella Enumbi were also arrested by Kopassus at Ilu TNI post, then killed and their bodies beheaded. The body of Wonda and only the head of Ella Enumbi were thrown under a bridge in a sack.

Several of the missing Papuans include nonviolent political activist members of the local KNPB chapter of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), which has seen a massive and violent crackdown led by the U.S. founded and trained Detachment 88. The unit was led by Tito Karnavian, the recently named Papua Police Chief.

As background to the current tensions, the area suffering disappearances, torture and killing of civilians is in Sinak subdistrict, close to Mulia. Last February, troops from General Goliat Tabuni's West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) reportedly attacked Kopassus soldiers who had built a military post on a sacred burial ground (see West Papua Report, March 2013). That attack prompted the deployment of several thousand soldiers from the Indonesian Army's Kostrad (strategic reserve), the locally-based Indonesian battalions 753 and 756, and several hundred Kopassus special forces soldiers, along with members of Detachment 88. Thousands of Papuan civilians were displaced from their villages, and those remaining behind experienced brutal treatment on a daily basis. Houses, livestock, and food gardens were destroyed.

The KNPB and local residents are calling for an  independent persons investigation and have also asked for help from KOMNAS HAM (the National Human Rights Commission).

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U.S. Congress Holds Hearing on Human Rights in Indonesia

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives held hearing on Human Rights in Indonesia on May 23. The commission heard testimony from two State Department officials, Deputy Assistant Secretary Dan Baer, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor,  and Susan Sutton, Director, Office of Maritime Southeast Asia. Testimony was also given by representatives of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty InternationalKontraS, and Octo Mote, a West Papuan leader living in exile and the secretary of the Papuan Peace Negotiators Team.

Links to all testimony should eventually appear here: http://tlhrc.house.gov/hearing_notice.asp?id=1247 

Video of the hearing can be viewed here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/33216403 

UN Expert: West Papua Should Be on List of Non-Self-Governing Territories

Valmaine Toki, a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, undertook a study on decolonization of the Pacific region, which she submitted to the Forum at its twelfth session in May. She wrote that "current injustices provide additional reasons to support claims of independence [for West Papua], claims that have their roots in historical wrongs" and that "There are clear grounds for the General Assembly to support reinstatement [of West Papua] on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories." 

In paragraph 53 of her report, she concludes that: "New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Hawaii and West Papua are seeking the right to self-determination. All have encountered a problematic process and many are experiencing unacceptable human rights violation that are further exacerbating this process. These problems notwithstanding, there is a process to seek decolonization through the Special Committee [on Decolonization of the UN]. In view of the important process with which the Committee is tasked, it is recommended that adequate funding continue."

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. (UN Photo/Violaine Martin)  

UN Rights Commissioner Criticizes Rights Violations and Calls for Transparency

In early May, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed concern about violence and human rights violations in Papua. Speaking about the repression of demonstrations across the region since April 30 she said, “These latest incidents are unfortunate examples of the ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in Papua. I urge the Government of Indonesia to allow peaceful protest and hold accountable those involved in abuses.” She criticized Indonesia's lack of "transparency in addressing serious human rights violations in Papua” and urged "Indonesia to allow international journalists into Papua and to facilitate visits by the Special Rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council.”

Amnesty International Underscores Rights Problems in Indonesia

Amnesty International's annual report on human rights for 2012, describes Indonesia's government continuing use of "repressive legislation" to criminalize freedom of speech in West Papua and elsewhere. It also notes the extrajudicial killing of Mako Tabuni in June and other human rights violations in West Papua. The report adds that "no impartial or independent investigation into the killing" of Tabuni. 


Indonesia President Yudhoyono plans to present West Papuans with a new version of "special autonomy" (OTSUS) to be called "OTSUS Plus," according to Papua Governor Lukas Enembe.Criticizing the plan, Syamsul Alam Agus, staff member of the Commission for Victims of Violence (KontraS) said that "Autonomy Plus will not answer the problems in Papua, Papuan people are only asking to hold a dialogue as the only peaceful solution." OTSUS Plus would further extend the Papua issue, because so far government agencies in Papua were never worked together to build Papua as a land of peace, he added.

WPAT Comment: Yudhoyono's intention to attempt to re-do Jakarta's failed and rejected (by Papuans) policy of "special autonomy" is tacit admission by Yudhoyono that the existing policy has failed.

U.S. Groups Critique U.S. Department of State Human Rights Report

ETAN and WPAT have published Comments on the U.S. Department of State's Annual Country Report on Human Rights for 2012 Concerning Indonesia/West Papua. The U.S. Department of State annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 includes a detailed review of Indonesia. The State Department report's heavy focus on West Papua, which comprises only one percent of the Indonesian archipelago's population, underscores the reality that human rights violations and impunity continue at very high levels in West Papua. While well-detailed, the State Department Report fails to acknowledge the failure of the Indonesian government, over decades, to provide essential services to Papuans, resulting in their extreme marginalization. 

International Groups Urge UN Special Rapporteur to Act 

A coalition of 11 international organizations appealed to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue, to take action by raising recent repressive actions in West Papua with the Indonesian government. The groups wrote that "the killings, arrests and excessive use of force against peaceful protestors in Papua during 30 April - 13 May 2013... violated the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly." Their letter added these actions "represent a serious deterioration in the environment for free expression and assembly in the Papua region." Signing the letter were TAPOL, the International Coalition for Papua, Survival International, Franciscans International, West Papua Advocacy Team, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, West Papua Action Auckland, Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), Peace Movement Aotearoa, Pacific Media Centre, and Pacific Scoop. A proposed visit to Indonesia by La Rue has yet to take place, apparently because s to allow him to visit West Papua and other locations.





This is the 110th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at  Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. . If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to  Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. . Link to this issue:http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1306wpap.htm

The Report leads with "Perspective," an opinion piece; followed by "Update," a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then "Chronicle" which includes analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a "Perspective" or responding to one should write to  Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. . The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author's and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN. For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.

This edition of the West Papua Report's PERSPECTIVE is by a longtime observer of West Papua. This is the last of a three-part series (see Part 1 and Part 2). In this part, the author, who for his safety asked to remain anonymous, examines the decreased effectiveness of NGOs and the declining influence of elements of the religious community to improve the plight of West Papuans. He also sets out essential conditions for a successful Papuan-central government dialogue.

In UPDATE, Papuan political prisoners have spurned President Yudhoyono's pledge to offer clemency at some future date. The number of political prisoners nearly doubled in May. There has been significant progress in advancing West Papuan interests within the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Government intelligence and defense agencies yet again speculate that foreign agents are at work in West Papua. WPAT notes that such tales are usually created out of whole cloth in order to justify continued restrictions on outside observers. This report also details accounts of a wave of military-on-civilian violence in the central highlands, including the discovery of many mutilated bodies

In CHRONICLE, we provides links to recent testimony before the U.S. congressional Tom LantosHuman Rights Commission on Indonesia and West Papua; to recent UN statements on West Papua's political status and the human rights situation in the territory; to Amnesty International'sannual rights review of Indonesia; and to WPAT and ETAN's evaluation of the U.S. State Department's report of the human rights in Indonesia. Also, nearly a dozen international groups appealed to UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Finally, President Yudhoyono intends to offer a new version of "Special Autonomy" for West Papua. The new plan is a tacit admission that the existing "Special Autonomy" has failed.