East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
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.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
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
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 http://jsmp.minihub.org/indictmentspdf/Cailacoindnannexeng07feb03 and http://jsmp.minihub.org/indictmentspdf/Maliana_Burhanuddin22_7_03.pdf.)
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: