This is the 75th 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. Beginning with this edition the West Papua
Report will include a Bahasa Indonesia translation of the summary and
subject titles. This report is co-published with the East Timor and
Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) Back issues are posted online at
Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at
Fifty members of the U.S. Congress, under the leadership of House
Foreign Affairs sub-committee chairs Faleomavaega and Payne, have
written to President Obama to express their deep concern about West
Papua, noting indications of Indonesian "slow-motion genocide" against
Papuans. The Representatives strongly urged President Obama to give West
Papua a high priority in U.S. policy towards Indonesia and also called
on him to meet with Papuans in his scheduled November visit to
Indonesia. The Obama Administration has announced it will open contact
with the infamous Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus), notwithstanding
a decade old Congressional consensus against ties with that group unless
and until that unit undergoes fundamental reforms. Papuan Political
Prisoner Filep Karma told international media that U.S. support for
Kopassus would only increase that units capacity to repress Papuans. An
International Court of Justice opinion granting Kosovo the right to
declare its independence would appear to have implications for Papuans
pursuit of self-determination. Indonesian analysts assess that
Indonesian central government unwillingness to dialogue with Papuans
inevitably leads Jakarta to resort to its repressive "security
approach." Reports of abuse of Papuan prisoners in Indonesian prisons by
their Indonesian guards continue. The Indonesian Seafarers Association
has revealed Navy and Fisheries Ministry collusion with foreign fishing
vessels illegally fishing in Papuan waters. The report also notes the
role of foreign fishermen in the transmission of HIV/AIDS in Papuan
ports of call.
Indonesian Navy and Fisheries
Ministry Collude with Illegal Foreign Fishing Vessels
of U.S. Congress Write to President Obama over "Strong Indications" of
Indonesian Genocide in West Papua
The Chairs of
the U.S. Congressional Subcommittees on Asia, the Pacific and the Global
Environment, Rep. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, and Chairman Donald M. Payne of
the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health have spearheaded an effort
in Congress calling upon President Obama to "make
West Papua one of the highest priorities of the Administration."
The letter to the
President "suggests that slow motion genocide has been taking
place in West Papua and reviews findings by human rights
organizations and scholars who have conducted extensive research
about crimes against humanity and genocide by Indonesian
As a result of their efforts, 50 members
of the U.S. Congress signed a letter to the President stating that there
is strong indication that the Indonesian government is committing
genocide against Papuans. Many of those who signed the letter are
members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The signatories include men
and women who fought for civil rights in America in the 1960s. In
addition to the Congressional Black Caucus, many others who are
long-time advocates of human rights joined this request to the President
of the United States, including members of the Hispanic Caucus. The last
remaining member of the Kennedy family in Congress, Rep. Patrick Kennedy
from Rhode Island, also joined the letter to President Obama.
1 press release from
Representative Faleomavaega's office notes that the letter to the
President "suggests that slow motion genocide has been taking place in
West Papua and reviews findings by human rights organizations and
scholars who have conducted extensive research about crimes against
humanity and genocide by Indonesian security forces."
The press release also observes that "according to international
agreements, other nations are legally obligated to intervene when a
genocide is in process and Members of Congress remain hopeful that
President Obama and the U.S. State Department will hold Indonesia
Members concluded their letter by encouraging the President to meet with
the Team of 100 from West Papua during his upcoming visit, noting that
President Obama has the opportunity to bring lasting change to this part
of the world. While Papuan leaders have repeatedly tried to engage in
dialogue with the Indonesian government, dialogues have failed to
produce concrete results and Papuan leaders are now calling for an
International Dialogue. In this context, signatories of the letter have
asked President Obama to meet with the people of West Papua during his
upcoming trip to Indonesia in November.
U.S. Government Resumes Collaboration
with Military Unit Long Associated with Human Rights Abuse in West Papua
The U.S. government
announced that it is resuming contact with the Indonesian Special Forces
(Kopassus). U.S. Secretary of Gates, visiting Jakarta July 22,
announced the decision with caveats, noting that the resumption of
contact would proceed "in accordance with U.S. law, only on the basis of
future reforms within Kopassus." Specifically, Gates
told media that the U.S.
would undertake a "gradual, limited program of security cooperation
activities," conditioned on "continued reform" (sic) within Kopassus and
the TNI. According to Gates, the engagement "may be initially limited to
including Kopassus officials in "conferences and events involving
non-lethal subjects like rule of law, human rights and the military
According to the 2001 Leahy Law, the the U.S. Administration can not
proceed beyond contact/consultations to actually resuming training and
weapons funding for Kopassus absent Indonesian government action to
ensure justice in any cases of "gross violations of human rights"
involving Kopassus personnel (past, current or future). In the language
of the law, "If the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such
unit has committed gross violations" the U.S. Government is disallowed
from expending funds unless "the Secretary determines and reports to the
Committees on Appropriations that the government of such country is
taking effective measures to bring the responsible members of the
security forces unit to justice."
The career fates of a number of prominent and not so prominent Kopassus
officers with credible claims of human rights violations in their
records have been and continue to be the focus of much debate in
Washington regarding U.S. aid to Kopassus. In recent months the U.S. has
quietly pressed for the Indonesian government to scrub abusive officers
from Kopassus's rolls.
One of the Kopassus officers upon the policy debate has focused is Lt.
Col, Tri Hartomo who was
convicted in 2003 of the "torture murder" of Papuan political leader
Theys Eluay. Hartomo was sentenced to 42 months in prison. That
sentence, and even shorter sentences handed down against the other six
Kopassus personnel convicted in the case, pale beside those handed out
to Papuans for nonviolent crimes such as displaying the Papuan "morningstar
flag." Moreover, Hartomo upon release returned to Kopassus ranks.
General Sjafried Sjamsuddin, appointed
deputy Defense Minister earlier
this year, is a Kopassus officer similarly charged with egregious human
rights abuses, notably in East Timor. The U.S. administration's
casual claim that the general was "only implicated' and not "convicted"
of numerous human rights abuses begs the broader reality that Sjamsuddin,
like so many other senior Kopassus and TNI officers, has managed to
evade any trial for his behavior in Indonesia's flawed justice system.
The U.S. administration's willingness to look the other way regarding
Sjamsuddin contrasts with its decision in September 2009 to deny
Sjamsuddin a visa to visit the U.S.
The U.S. Administration's decision to move forward to resume ties to
Kopassus notwithstanding its insubstantial reforms has particular
relevance for West Papua. Twenty percent of Kopassus's 5,000 personnel
are stationed in West Papua. Human Rights Watch, in a June
2009 report, documented continued Kopassus human rights abuse
targeting Papuans in the Merauke area. Political Prisoner Filep Karma,
convicted of non-violent protest in 2001 and sentenced to 15 years
media in late July that
U.S. assistance to Kopassus would simply increase the capacity of that
unit to torture and kill Papuans.
International Court of
Justice Ruling of Kosovo Independence May Have Relevance for West Papua
Court of Justice ruled, July
22, 2010, that the Kosovo 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia
did not violate international law. The decision flowed from the
submission of a question by the government of Serbia to the ICJ which
won the support of 77 members of the UN General Assembly (including
Indonesia). That initiative sought (unsuccessfully) to secure an ICJ
ruling that the Kosovo declaration was illegal under international law.
Several principles established within the ICJ
decision may apply to the call by some Papuan organizations and
individuals for a Papuan "right to self-determination." These
include the ICJ's acceptance of the presumption in international
law that civil and human rights, including the rights of
minorities, should be protected.
The ICJ decision has drawn broad international comment, much of it
arising from the prospect that other cases involving secessionist
movements might be advanced by this "Kosovo precedent." The Kosovo case
was the first case of unilateral secession to be brought before the ICJ.
Thus far, there has been no systematic attempt to apply the ICJ decision
to the case of West Papua. Nevertheless, several principles established
within the ICJ decision may apply to the call by some Papuan
organizations and individuals for a Papuan "right to
self-determination." These include the ICJ's acceptance of the
presumption in international law that civil and human rights, including
the rights of minorities, should be protected. A Dutch government
submission to the ICJ in the Kosovo case, for example, would appear to
be relevant to the West Papua circumstance:
"The people of Kosovo had the right to
self-determination and secession from Serbia because the Belgrade
authorities systematically violated civil and human rights of
Albanians for years. International law thus allows the proclamation
of Kosovo's independence."
The violation of Papuan civil and human rights is well-established
including by reports of UN special rapporteurs, various governments
(including annual reports by the U.S. State Department) and respected
international NGOs and journalists.
A second principle established by the July 22 ICJ ruling of possible
relevance to West Papua addresses the "right to self-determination"
itself which the ICJ earlier found in the case of East Timor to be jus
cogens, a fundamental principle of law accepted by the international
community, and that this right extends to all peoples, not only those
emerging from a colonial context. The right is also enshrined in Article
1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Indonesian is a party to both covenants.
Jakarta's Unwillingness to
Dialogue with Papuans Endangers Peaceful Resolution of Papuan Claims
The Jakarta media in July reported on the deteriorating prospects for
peaceful settlement of a rising tide of Papuan discontent over the
failure of "special autonomy" in West Papua. The July
29 Jakarta Post carried a
report by Max Sijabat which emphasized that efforts to address
"long-standing problems" were in "limbo" due to an absence of dialogue.
Analysts cited in the report drew special attention to the June 9-10
consultation in Jayapura among 450 leading Papuans (see July
2010 West Papua Report ) who urged among other things, formal
rejection of "Special Autonomy." The report cited leading Papuan civil
society figure Benny Giay as noting that the consultation that Special
Autonomy funds "only enriched local elites, while most indigenous people
have been marginalized by immigrants or remain isolated in the
Statistics revealed by consultation participants underscored the extent
to which Papuans remain marginalized in their own lands: Poverty among
Papuans stands at over 81 percent while 70 percent of residents with
HIV/AIDS In West Papua are indigenous Papuans. Underscoring Giay's point
regarding failure of special autonomy to address Papuan needs, the
consultation revealed that 95 percent of local budget funds "are spent
According to the Jakarta Post, Agus Alua, spokesman for the Papuan
Peoples Consul (MRP), noted that Jakarta has declined to draft
regulations that would allow the Papuan MRP and the provincial
legislature to issue regulations, including affirmative action for
indigenous people and the settlement of human rights abuses.
Muridan S. Widjojo of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), who
was assigned by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2005 to identify
the most serious problems in Papua, spoke candidly about the current
situation. He told the Jakarta Post that the Indonesian Government
"should learn from now independent Timor-Leste and the peace talks
ending the war with separatists in Aceh. In Timor Leste, he said, "we
relied too much on the Indonesian Military and the National Intelligence
As in the Suharto era, Jakarta has relied heavily on the "security
approach" to address Papuan discontent and, also as in the Suharto era,
has sought to hide the resultant suffering of the Papuans behind a a
curtain of restrictions that impede or bar journalists and others from
covering developments in West Papua.
27 Jakarta Post article, authored by prominent Papuan religious
leader Father Neles Tebay, argued that the symbolic action of handing
back the Special Autonomy law would complicate an already difficult
situation for the government, specifically in its diplomatic efforts to
convince the international community that the autonomy law is fully
implemented and has improved Papuan prosperity.
More Reports of Prisoner
Abuse in West Papua
Globe on July 12 carried
a detailed report of a July 11 prisoner "riot" in Abepura prison. The
violence reportedly erupted after prison guards beat another inmate and
stole his money.
The report comments that "Abepura Penitentiary has a wretched security
record, with mass breakouts occurring regularly at the facility. In May,
18 inmates escaped during a protest by correctional guards over the
sacking of then chief warden Antonius Ayorbaba.
In June, 26 prisoners broke out by scaling down a prison wall using a
rope strung together with bed sheets. Only two inmates have been
"Several correctional guards refuse to
cooperate with the new warden, leading to gross derelictions of duty
that have left security at the penitentiary in an appalling state," Nazaruddin
said after the June breakout.
Separate reporting of prisoner beatings, failure to provide adequate
medical care are common. A UN
Special Rapporteur in 2007 detailed systematic abuse of prisoners.
More recent reporting by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and
others have reconfirmed those findings.
A resolution addressing the detention of Papuan political prisoners is
currently gaining co-sponsors in the U.S. Congress.
Indonesian Navy and Fisheries Ministry
Collude with Illegal Foreign Fishing Vessels
Papuans and foreign observers have long been critical of the Indonesian
government for failing to protect Papuan forest resources which have
been exploited, often illegally, with no attempt by security forces to
protect those resources. There are many well documented reports of
security force collaboration with those involved in the illegal
Foreign vessels, mostly from the Philippines,
South Korea and Thailand, fish illegally with impunity due to
the failure of the Indonesian Navy and Maritime Affairs and
Fisheries Ministry ships to protect Indonesian waters. Many Navy
and Ministry ships regularly patrol the waters - not to catch
illegal fishing vessels but to extort money from them.
Recent studies by the Indonesian Seafarers Association (KPI), reported
in the July
28 Jakarta Post, document security force failure to protect Papuan
sea resources as well. The KPI study revealed that although the Maritime
Affairs and Fisheries Ministry had stopped issuing permits to foreign
fishing vessels, thousands were still freely operating. The foreign
vessels, mostly from the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand, fish
illegally with impunity due to the failure of the Indonesian Navy and
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry ships to protect Indonesian
waters. Instead, "many Navy and Ministry ships regularly patrol the
waters - not to catch illegal fishing vessels but to extort money from
them," according to KPI chairman Hanafi Rustandi.
The Seafarers study also revealed that the government's failure to
control the operation of foreign fishing vessels, contributed to an
increase in cases of HIV/AIDS in the country's eastern regions of Papua
and Maluku. The KPI study revealed that the highest prevalence of
HIV/AIDS cases are in two fishing ports in Maluku and in and Papua's
coastal regencies, including Merauke, Mimika and Fakfak.
KPI Chairman Rustandi noted that foreign ships cost Indonesia dearly in
terms of fish, and have caused incalculable damage in terms of
facilitating the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region.
Correction: This is the
75th (not 74th) issue of the report. The error has been