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West Papua Report

October 2011

This is the 90th 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 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 If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to

Summary: Papuans will convene a third "National Congress," an historic convocation that follows congresses in 1961 and 2000. Military and police forces have attacked civilian homes, purportedly in pursuit of those responsible for an August incident that may have been staged. In the wake of growing violence, leading human rights organizations have called on the Indonesian government to "re-assess" its resort to military measures to address dissent in West Papua. The giant mining firm Freeport McMoran is facing growing pressure from labor and the government. The attention focused on Freeport has once more brought to light the enormous profits and tax revenues flowing from the mining operation. These riches stand in stark contrast to the grinding poverty endured by Papuans whose resources Freeport is exploiting. The UN Secretary General has publicly retreated from comments in which he appeared to recognize the need for the UN Decolonization Committee and the Human Rights Council to take up the denial of Papuan rights to self-determination and other violations of human rights.


Papuans To Convene Third National Congress in October

The Papuan National Collective, comprising leaders of the Dewan Adat Papua (the Papuan Customary Council), and leaders of Papuan religious, human rights, women, and youth organizations have announced the convening of the "Third Papuan Congress," in Jayapura, October 16-19, 2011. Members of the Provincial Papuan Assembly (DPRD) will also participate in the congress.

According to the Collective leaders, the theme of the congress is "Affirming the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people for the present and the future."

The gathering will address agendas presented by all participating representatives such as the protection of fundamental human rights, including the right to self determination; accountability of security forces for crimes against the civilian population, and protection of the environment. The leaders have noted that they expect congress to reaffirm Papuans' commitment to pursue respect for their rights through peaceful means.

The First Papuan Congress occurred on October 16-19,1961. At that congress, Papuan leaders declared the desire of the Papuan people to become a free and independent nation. The second congress convened in May 2000 with the support of then Indonesian President Abdul Wahid Rahman. Papuan leaders rejected the 1962 "New York Agreement" which surrendered control of West Papua to Indonesia. The congress also rejected the "Act of Free Choice," the fraudulent process that in 1969 denied Papuans their right of self-determination. The congress called on the UN to revoke November 19, 1969 UN Resolution 2504 which formally recognized Indonesia's annexation of West Papua.
Military and Police Attack Civilian Homes
Desi Kogoya, 8  
Desi Kogoya, 8. Photo via  

A combined military and police force on August 31 raided civilian homes near Nafri, outside Abepura, where an August 1 assault on a largely civilian convoy killed four and wounded six. The perpetrators of that attack remain unknown though investigations by local NGOs point to a provocation by the Indonesian military's notorious special forces (Kopassus).

The Nafri attack may have been part of a strategy by security forces to create instability to undermine large scale Papuan demonstrations set for August 2 (see August West Papua Report). According to the government, the military/police attack on the civilian homes was in pursuit of Papuans responsible for the Nafri attack.
A report translated by TAPOL provides detail on the late August military and police operation. On 31 August , the homes of four Papuans were targeted by the Army (TNI-AD) and Brimob (special unit of the Indonesian police) supplemented by the police force of Papua. Thirteen Papuans were arrested. Local witnesses report that occupants of the four houses were in their homes at the time of the operation and that some of whom were asleep. The security forces entered the area where the homes were located and started firing warning shots which traumatized the local people. Although the thirteen initially evaded the security forces, all of them, including an eight year old girl, were arrested. (See also West Papua Media Alerts' Special Investigation: State terror campaign around Jayapura.)

Ten, including the eight year old, were subsequently released but two were two detained, Ekimar Kogoya, 22 years, and Panius Kogoya, 20 years old. The security forces that conducted the sweep, which appear to have included elements of the notorious Detachment 88 , are formally charging the two now being held with involvement in the killings in Nafri August 1 and say that they are suspected of being members of the TPN/OPM.
Mathius Murib, deputy chair or the National Human Rights Commission's (Komnas HAM) Papua branch told media that "proper procedures were not followed and the people who were detained were subjected to mal-treatment, and what is even more disturbing is that a child of 7 or 8 years old was kidnapped at the same time."
The Nafri incident and subsequent "sweeps" follows the standard modus operandi of Indonesian security forces operating in West Papua: An incident, possibly staged, is used to justify augmenting security forces in an area which then violate local citizens rights with sweeps designed to intimidate the local population. These sweeps usually coincide with periods of growing popular protest over political repression and human rights violations. This modus operandi is part of the Indonesian security force playbook and was regularly witnessed at work in Indonesian-occupied East Timor.

Prominent Human Rights Organizations Call for End to Indonesian Government Resort to Military Measures in West Papua
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) urged the Indonesian government to reassess its reliance on military measures to address growing dissent in West Papua. The organizations noted in a September 21 statement that their call came amidst growing violence in the region.


Security force reliance on extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest, torture of detainees, and repression of peaceful dissent reflect the reality that Suharto-dictatorship rules and procedures still apply in West Papua.

WPAT notes that security force reliance on extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest, torture of detainees, and repression of peaceful dissent reflect the reality that Suharto-dictatorship rules and procedures still apply in West Papua.

The four organizations decried the continuing buildup of security forces in West Papua, which Imparsial claimed was in the range of 14,000 personnel, and the continuing impunity accorded those forces for their violation of constitutionally protected human rights. They also condemned Government efforts to preclude monitoring of conditions in West Papua by journalists, international human rights monitors and other legitimate observers.

The four organizations called on the Indonesian government to:

  • Instruct its military to immediately cease all unlawful surveillance activities in Papua and revise its current draft intelligence bill by incorporating recommendations by civil society and bringing it into line with the Indonesian Constitution and Criminal Procedure Code, as well as international human rights law;
  • Take steps to reduce the heavy presence of non-organic military personnel and their involvement in civil administration in Papua and seriously implement security sector reform;
  • Fully and credibly investigate all past and new allegations of human rights abuses, especially those perpetrated by state security forces, and promptly bring perpetrators to justice;
  • Strengthen civilian oversight and rigorous parliamentary scrutiny of military policies, operations and budget; and
  • Respect the role of human rights defenders and ensure unfettered access to Papua by civil society groups and actors, including foreign and domestic journalists and independent human rights monitors.

Freeport Under Growing Labor and Government Pressure

Freeport Grasburg mine, Timika, Papua.  

Workers at the giant Freeport McMoran gold and copper mine have been on strike since September 15 demanding higher wages and protesting numerous violations of their rights.

The violations they contend the company has committed include Freeport's hiring of strike breaker workers (scabs). It remains unclear whether courts will sanction the strike action as legal.

In addition to facing pressure from its workers, Freeport is also under government pressure to renegotiate is contract with the Indonesian government. All major foreign mining firms in Indonesia are obliged to renegotiate their contracts to ensure that they are in accordance with the 2009 Mineral and Coal Law which is intended to increase government income from the mining sector. The new law mandates that existing mining contracts be adjusted to the in accordance with the new law. Freeport is one of the few foreign mining firms that has yet to renegotiate its contract.
According to Freeport, under its existing 1991 contract, it has been Indonesia's largest tax payer: Freeport said in a press statement that in the first half of this year, the company paid US$1.4 billion in financial obligations to the Indonesian government. From 1992 to June 2011, the company contributed a total of $12.8 billion to the country.

The Jakarta Post writes that the firm's mine covers 213,000 hectares. Royalty payments from the company accounted for 68 percent of Papua's gross domestic regional product (GDRP) and 96 percent of Timika's GDRP in 2010. During that year, the company contributed $1.9 billion to the state income from tax and non-tax payments and invested $2.1 billion.

WPAT Comment: While Freeport is a major source of revenue for the Indonesian government, that revenue is only a small portion of the vast profits that Freeport has reaped from its operation which were launched in 1967, even before Indonesia formally annexed West Papua in 1969. The extraordinary wealth accruing to Freeport and the Indonesian government stands in stark contrast to the grinding poverty and lack of development that has been the plight of the Papuan people, particularly those Papuans such as the Kamoro and Amungme people who have seen their lands stolen and polluted by the Freeport operation. The corrupt bargain between Jakarta and Freeport is a legacy of the 1962 "New York Agreement" which the US Government orchestrated in a cold war ploy, absent the consent or even the involvement of the Papuan people.

UN Secretary General's Candid Comments on West Papua Partially Pulled Back

Ban Ki-moon acknowledges West Papua protesters at Auckland University. Photo: Karen Abplanalp / PMC  

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, at a press conference in Auckland New Zealand on September 7, spoke directly and candidly in response to two questions about West Papua. His comments appeared to suggest his support for international calls for the West Papua to be listed among those territories considered by the UN General Assembly's Decolonization Committee. He also appeared to be sympathetic to discussion of West Papua in the Human Rights Council. Implicit in the UNSG's comments were both a recognition that there was merit in a review of West Papua's legal status and that there was a basis for concern regarding the human rights situation in West Papua. In particular, the UNSG responded to what was a legal/political question about West Papua by introducing in his response concern over human rights in West Papua.
A portion of the Secretary General's comments were corrected in New York on September 13 by an unnamed "spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Papua." The "spokesperson" contended that the Secretary-General had been speaking "off-the-cuff." The Secretary-General's original comments in New Zealand are nonetheless significant. The text of the two questions and his responses follows:

Question: [unclear] With regards to human rights - for more than forty two years, there's a struggle in West Papua as people seeking their government in the province of West Papua. What is the United Nations stand on that?
BKM: This issue should also be discussed at the Decolonisation Committee of the United Nations General Assembly And when it comes again, whether you are an independent state or a non-self-governing territory or whatever, the human rights is inalienable and a fundamental principle of the United Nations.
We will do all to ensure that people in West Papua, their human rights will be respected.
Question: Does a human rights fact-finding mission has be dispatched to West Papua at some time?
BKM: That is the same answer [to a previous question on Fiji] that should be discussed at the Human Rights Council amongst the member states.

Normally the Secretary General acts on the basis of a mandate given by inter-governmental bodies.

The spokesperson's statement was as follows:

His off-the-cuff response may have led to the misunderstanding that he was suggesting the matter of Papua should be placed on the agenda of the Decolonization Committee. The Secretary-General wishes to clarify that this was not his intention.

Interestingly, the spokesman's correction let stand the UNSG's apparent endorsement of the need for a discussion of the human rights situation in West Papua in the Human Rights Council.

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