etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer

Action ALERT

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network &
West Papua Advocacy Team

Urge Indonesia to Remove Indicted Officer from West Papua

The presence in West Papua of Col. Burhanuddin Siagian, a senior Indonesian army officer indicted for crimes against humanity charges in East Timor (now called Timor-Leste) endangers human rights defenders and political activists. Recently Col. Siagian threatened to “destroy” peaceful dissidents in the contested region. 

Urge Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to withdraw Col. Siagian from Papua and suspend him from duty. See below for sample letter.

Please let us know if you contact President Yudhoyono, and of any response you receive. 

Fax President Yudhoyono via ETAN (opens in a separate window)

or write:
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Istana Merdeka, Jakarta 10110, Indonesia
Fax: + 62 21 345 2685 / 526 8726

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
c/o Embassy of Indonesia to the U.S.
2020 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036

Sample Letter/Fax

Dear President Yudhoyono,

I urge you to remove Col. Burhanuddin Siagian as commander of the Jayapura sub-regional military command (Korem 172/ PWY/Jayapura) in Papua. Col. Siagian has been indicted twice for crimes against humanity in East Timor (now Timor-Leste) and is unfit for command.

We urge you to extradite him to East Timor for trial and to work with the international community to ensure that Col. Siagian and others indicted in East Timor are brought to trial.

In addition to his troublesome background, we are concerned by recent statements by Col. Siagian threatening Papuan human rights activists and nonviolent political activists. A report in the Cenderawasih Pos on 12 May 2007, quoted Col. Siagian as saying that “anyone who has enjoyed the facilities that belong to the state, but who still betrays the nation, I honestly will destroy him.” In July he said “(W)hat is absolutely certain is that anyone who tends towards separatism will be crushed by TNI," adding "we are not afraid of human rights.”

These threats echo similar statements he allegedly made while he had a command in East Timor in 1999. Those statements appear to have led directly to the deaths of a number of Timorese civilians.

Indonesia's failure to hold Col. Siagian and others accountable for their human rights crimes encourages security personnel to believe that they will not be held accountable for serious crimes and undermines Indonesia's progress towards a country that fully respects human rights and the rule of law. Meaningful military reform will not be possible until serious efforts are made to end this cycle of impunity.

I await your response

Yours sincerely,



Col. Burhanuddin Siagian, commander of the Jayapura sub-regional military command (Korem 172) in Papua, has been indicted twice in East Timor for crimes against humanity. His presence in Papua endangers human rights defenders and political activists and is a sign of the Indonesian government's lack of commitment to justice and accountability a coalition of Indonesian and international human rights organizations.

In an open letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, a coalition of Indonesian and international human rights organizations, called for Col. Burhanuddin Siagian, commander of the Jayapura sub-regional military command (Korem 172) in Papua, to be withdrawn immediately and suspended from active duty. They urged the Indonesian government to extradite to East Timor those indicted by Dili's Special Panel for Serious Crimes (See and

In May 2008, members of the UN Committee Against Torture asked whether "Indonesia, as a member of Interpol" was planning to hand over people, including Siagian, for whom Interpol has issued red notices. Indonesia did not respond. Interpol issued a Red Notice for Siagian in 2003. According to Interpol, "red notices allow the warrant to be circulated worldwide with the request that the wanted person be arrested with a view to extradition."

According to two indictments issued by the UN-backed court, Col Siagian publicly threatened to kill supporters of Timor-Leste's independence and was directly responsible for the death of seven men. He is also thought to have been responsible for the creation of the Bobonaro militia system, one of the most brutal in East Timor. Col. Siagian is named as a suspect in the report of Indonesia's own Commission of Investigation into Human Rights Violations in East Timor, which investigated human rights abuses in East Timor in 1999.

Col. Siagian's presence in Papua undermines the Indonesian government's stated commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Papua conflict. According to the open letter signed by 34 organizations, "Papuans who campaign peacefully are not 'betraying' Indonesia as alleged in Col. Siagian's statement of May 2007; they are simply asserting their right to express their political views."

Recent events in Papua, the Malukus and elsewhere show that Col. Siagian's attitude is not necessarily an aberration. Some examples:

1) Only days after the Indonesian government barred U.S. Representative Eni Faleomavega (D-AS) from visiting West Papua, the Indonesian police, military and local government in Yogyakarta teamed up with Islamic militias and hardline nationalist groups to crack down on West Papuan student activists. Eight Papuans were arrested at the conclusion of a four-day Papuan Tribal congress meeting in Jayapura for displaying the Morning Star, the West Papuan national flag, at the congress during a traditional dance.

2) According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), members of the  Indonesian military (TNI) are targeting activists who met with Hina Jilani, the UN's Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, when she was in Indonesia. Jilani visited West Papua on June 8. AHRC says that it has information about three separate cases of alleged attacks, intimidation and threats by the military against human rights activists from West Papua. 

3) Human Rights Watch on July 5 released a report in which it accuses police of raping, killing and beating unarmed civilians in Papua. The New York-based group documented 14 cases of abuse, and stated that  the police's paramilitary unit, called Brimob, is responsible for grave human rights violations in the Central Highlands of Indonesia's easternmost province.

4) More than three dozen people have been arrested in Ambon, Maluku, after their unauthorized participation in a parade before President Yudhoyono in Ambon on June 30. They were arrested after they had ended a traditional dance by displaying an outlawed pro-independence flag. Those arrested are being investigated for their nonviolent action by the U.S.-funded Special Detachment 88 anti-terrorism police unit.

5) In May 2007, Indonesian marines killed four and wounded eight people engaged in a protest over a land dispute with the Indonesian navy in East Java.  An investigation by Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights contradicted military claims of self-defense, finding no evidence that the civilians intended to attack the marines.

6) At the UN Committee Against Torture's review of Indonesia, Committee Expert Felice Gaer asked about Indonesia's response to Interpol red notices for people currently residing in Indonesia indicted in East Timor for alleged crimes committed in 1999. The next day, she noted that Indonesia had failed to respond to her questions about "about the legal proceedings concerning the individuals that were wanted by Interpol for their implication in the East Timor conflict. One of them was a colonel currently serving with the Indonesian military command. Was the Government planning to arrest this individual and respect its obligations under Interpol? Also, the question of sending such commanders from one hot spot to the other had not been addressed."

updated July 3, 2008

see also: