The West Papua
Advocacy Team (WPAT) called on Secretary Clinton to raise
concern about West Papua with Indonesian officials during
her September 3 visit to Jakarta. Military operations there
continue to disrupt and endanger the lives of Papuan
civilians in Paniai. Security forces raided a student
dormitory beating students; initial reports indicate at
least one student died in the assault. A religious leader
and long-time resident in West Papua paints a bleak and
deteriorating picture of conditions there. Indonesian
security forces continue to rely on armed force to address
Papuan dissent according to religious leaders. A detailed
report explores the dire humanitarian consequences posed by
the proposed sale of U.S. Apache helicopters to the
Indonesian military. A new project to provide easy access
to information on Papuan prisoners of conscience/political
prisoners is being organized. Amnesty International has
issued an alert regarding the recent detention of Yusak
Pakage. A Papuan member of the Indonesian parliament (DPR)
decries failure of the body to create human rights
mechanisms in West Papua as mandated by Special Autonomy
legislation passed in 2001.
WPAT Calls on
U.S. Secretary of State To Raise Critical Issues With
The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) wrote on August 31
to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concerning key
issues regarding West Papua on her September 3 visit to
Indonesia. The text of the letter follows:
Dear Secretary Clinton:
The West Papua Advocacy Team respectfully requests that
you raise the following concerns in your upcoming
meetings with Indonesian officials during your visit to
The Killing of Mako Tabuni
On June 14 in West Papua, Government of Indonesia
shot and killed Mako Tabuni, a prominent Papuan
human rights advocate. According to eyewitnesses, Mr.
Tabuni was shot by plainclothes officers after he eluded
their attempts to force him into an unmarked vehicle.
Although he was badly wounded, the plainclothes officers
failed to take him to a nearby hospital and instead
brought him to a distant police facility where he died.
The appearance and modus operandi of the security
officials strongly suggest that they were members of the
88." This unit has been accused of human rights
violations in West Papua and elsewhere by reputable
human rights organizations.
We strongly urge you to insist that the Government of
Indonesia conduct a thorough and transparent
investigation of the killing of Mako Tabuni.
Military Operations Impacting Civilians
For decades the Government of Indonesia has
conducted military operations in remote areas of West
Papua purportedly aimed at countering the activity of
the small, lightly-armed Papua Freedom Movement (OPM).
These operations have severely affected local civilians
resulting in the destruction of homes, places of worship
and public buildings, and causing the flight of
civilians to nearby forests where they face life
threatening conditions. Invariably, security forces
impede efforts by humanitarian relief organizations to
assist these displaced civilians. Many civilians have
died as a result of these military operations. Currently
such an operation is underway in the Paniai region.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
greets Indonesia President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono and Foreign Minister Raden
Mohammad Marty Muliana Natalegawa in
Jakarta, September 2012. Photo via U.S. Dept
We strongly urge you to call on the Government of
Indonesia to cease resort to armed measures to address
largely peaceful Papuan protests and to permit
humanitarian relief organizations to respond to the
urgent human need generated by these military
Provision of Vital Human Services to Papuans
Since assuming control of West Papua through the
widely discredited "Act of Free Choice" over 40 decades
ago, the Government of Indonesia has consistently failed
to provide minimally adequate health, education and
other vital services to the Papuan people. That failure
has resulted in health and education indices for the
Papuan population that are consistently among the lowest
in Indonesia and the region and have prompted charges
that Jakarta's malign neglect of the Papuan people's
basic human needs amounts to genocide.
We strongly urge that you press the Government of
Indonesia to address the dearth of human services in
West Papua and that the U.S. Government increase its own
assistance, particularly in the areas of health,
education and creation of employment opportunities for
the systematically-marginalized Papuans.
Papuan Political Prisoners
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty
Human Rights Watch have repeatedly accused the
Government of Indonesia of incarcerating Papuans for
peaceful activities protected under international
covenants assuring the right to peaceful political
activity and the right to assembly. Moreover, these
a 2007 report by a UN Special Rapporteur determined
that conditions of incarceration for these (and other)
prisoners and detainees do not meet minimal
international standards. Recently, Papuan political
prisoner (and Amnesty International Prisoner of
Filep Karma has suffered delays in the provision of
crucial medical services guaranteed him under
international covenants to which Indonesia is a
We strongly urge you to raise with Indonesian officials
concern over the continued persecution of peaceful
dissent by Papuans and their mistreatment when in
custody, including the Indonesian government's failure
to provide minimally adequate medical care as required
under international law.
U.S. Sale of Attack Helicopters to Indonesia
In March of this year,
90 international NGO's urged the U.S. not to sell AH-64
Apache attack helicopters to Indonesia. These
organizations argued that provision of these helicopters
would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians, who have
suffered deadly TNI (Indonesian military) assaults for
many years. Specifically, the NGO's noted that the
heavily-armed AH-64 was a highly lethal weapon which
could be used to escalate conflict within Indonesia and
in West Papua as these aircraft would substantially
augment the TNI's capacity to prosecute its "sweep
operations" in West Papua. The consequence of this
augmentation of the TNI arsenal would lead to increased
suffering among the civilian populations long victimized
by such operations.
We again urge that the U.S. government not approve the
sale of this weapon system to the Indonesian military
and that you use the occasion of your visit to inform
the Indonesians that the sale will not go forward.
Calls for Government of Indonesia-Papuan Dialogue
Respected Papuan leaders have long called on the
Government of Indonesia to engage in an internationally
mediated dialogue with the Papuan people regarding the
future of West Papua. At the July 2011 "Papua Peace
Conference" which convened in Jayapura with more than
1,000 in attendance, Papuan representatives were
selected for such a dialogue. The Indonesian Government
observed this conference at the ministerial level.
Welcoming past U.S. Government support for a dialogue,
we urge you to reiterate U.S. Government encouragement
for such a dialogue.
Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.
The West Papua Advocacy Team
Operation in Paniai
West Papua Media and sources in Paniai report that
military operations there continue to disrupt and endanger
the lives of Papuan civilians. Initial reports from
middle-August indicated a growing military presence in the
area and increasing fear there among villagers that military
operations against Papua Freedom fighters purported to be in
the area could lead to reprisal raids against civilians by
At least three companies of the Battalion 753, a unit
linked to ongoing brutal human rights violations and
incidents of torture in Paniai, parachuted into the
headwaters of the Weya Creek of Bibida district in Wagamo,
Paniai, according to sources cited by
West Papua Media. The TNI is reportedly searching the villages
around Weya Creek for the Paniai OPM/TPN leader John Yogi,
who has eluded capture since a massive offensive that
displaced more than 12,000 since it began in November 2011. However, Yogi has not
been seen in the area according to local sources, who report
that the local civilian population is bearing the brunt of
interrogations and abuse from Battalion 753. Witnesses
report that Battalion 753 units, supported by Brimob police units, have
launched aggressive raids in villages since the evening of
September 4, detaining and interrogating all villages and
destroying property. Security forces also have seized sharp
items, including tools necessary for subsistence
agriculture. A repeat of the humanitarian crisis that
developed last December when troops from 753 Battalion
torched and destroyed food gardens and forced thousands to
flee to police run "care centers" in Enaratoli is possible.
During the 2011 campaign, several people died of starvation
and sickness in the so-called care centers.
WPAT notes that the Indonesian military routinely
prevents non-government organization such as churches from
aiding those people displaced by the military's operations.
Another Brutal Security Force Assault
on Papuan Students
The Indonesian military, police and possibly the
infamous "Detachment 88" assaulted a student dormitory in
Abepura which houses students from West Papua's highland
West Papua Media reports .
Students reported being beaten by security officers during
the assault and again after they were detained. West Papua
Media reports many serious injuries among the students and
at least one fatality. Security forces initially detained
The news service speculated that the August 26 attack may
have targeted these students because many were Dani from the
central highlands, and thus suspected of links with the West
Papua National Committee, one Papuan nonviolent resistance
Long-Time Resident of West
Papua Paints Bleak Picture of
Father John Djonga
Father John Djonga, a religious cleric who recently
completed 12 years of service in Keerom District in West
Papua painted a bleak picture of living conditions,
injustice and threats by security forces posed to Papuans. Father Djonga, an Indonesian citizen from Flores and winner
of the prestigious
Hien award in 2011,
spoke with Bintang Papua, which printed
excerpts of their interview with him on August 24
(translated by Tapol).
Djonga said that in many parts of the territory,
particularly in the interior where most of the Papuan
indigenous people live, the situation with regard to
education and health was worrying. "These are matters of
crucial importance for the dignity and welfare of the
people. The issues of justice and equality also are very
pressing indeed. These are matters for which the government
is responsible," he told the newspaper.
Djonga said that forests are being cut down benefiting a
small group of people who sell off the land. Local people
lose their livelihood as less land is available for
agriculture. (WPAT: This minority often includes local
Papuan leaders suborned by corporate interests and
Indonesian civilian and military bureaucrats.)
Djonga also expressed his concern about the level of
violence as increased: "Both sides, the government apparatus
and the people resort to violence to resolve their problems.
This never solves anything. On the contrary, it only
"The people living in Keerom live in a constant state of
fear and anxiety. There is no trust at all between the two
sides, and the people live in a state of trauma because of
the presence of the Indonesian military in every kampung."
he told Bintang Papua. "There are growing
discrepancies and injustices between people of the different
communities and this represents a great challenge to the
need for mutual harmony and respect between the
Father Djonga, like many supporters of human rights in West
Papua, faced threats over his advocacy (see next story).
Indonesian Government Increasingly
Resorts to Military Means to
UCANews described growing concern by religious leaders
in West Papua about the Indonesian government's reliance on
military measures to address Papuan demands for justice and
political rights. The article, excerpted below, also
contends that Papuans were increasingly turning to religious
leaders rather than government officials to address their
"The situation becomes worse when Papuans have
no chance to express themselves. Every protest
against the government is always regarded as
Researchers at the National Commission on Human Rights
found that "Papuans trust religious leaders more than the
government and that gap is widening."
From the UCANews report:
The government's military approach to controlling the
restive region, including an incident in October where more
than 300 Papuans were arrested and six killed by security
forces, has inflamed resistance and resentment. With these
factors in mind, religious leaders now need to take a more
active role than ever in conflict resolution, the commission
"Conflicts in Papua cannot be solved only by the
government," the commission's Yosep Stanley Adi Prasetyo
said yesterday at the Indonesian Bishops Conference offices
in Jakarta. "When I met with some Papuans living in remote
areas, they said their trust in the government has gradually
"The situation becomes worse when Papuans have no chance to
express themselves. Every protest against the government is
always regarded as separatist movement," Prasetyo said.
Father Neles Kebadabi Tebay, coordinator of the Papuan Peace
Network and rector of Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and
Theology in Abepura, agreed that religious leaders could do
more for the situation in Papua.
"They have not united yet," Father Neles said. "They conduct
movements individually not institutionally. As a result,
these movements are not strong enough."
However, anyone working towards conflict resolution in the
region faces strong opposition.
"I often face threats while fighting for Papuans," said
Father John Djonga, an activist priest who received the 2009
Yap Thiam Hien Award. "I even received a text message saying
that I would be buried alive if I kept speaking up about
violence in Papua."
Pose Threat to Papuans
A report by Philip Jacobson in
Truthout reviews the Indonesian government's
request to buy eight Boeing AH-64 attack helicopters to the
Indonesian military. The report underscores objections
raised by nearly 100 NGOs who in March condemned the
Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia).
The article reinforces their concern that the Apache helicopters
would substantially augment the Indonesian military's
capacity to prosecute "sweeping operations" which, for
decades, have devastated Papuans living in rural areas.
These operations, purportedly targeting the lightly armed
Papuan resistance (OPM) destroy homes, churches and public
buildings and have driven thousands of Papuans into
surrounding forests where they face grave hardships,
including death through starvation.
New Project Focuses on Papuan
Members of the international solidarity network for
Papuans, working with the assistance of the U.K.-based
TAPOL, are nearing
completion of a project collecting data on "Papuans Behind
Bars." Over 90 profiles of Papuan political prisoners have
been completed with translation from English into Bahasa
Indonesia underway. Once completed the project will serve
as a central database for all information regarding the
plight of Papuan prisoners useful to human rights advocates
based in Papua, Jakarta and internationally .
The information will be available at a website now under
Project organizers note that the Indonesian government is
increasingly denying that these prisoners even exist, while
torturing them, denying them health care, arresting and
harassing local activists who assist prisoners, and charging
activists for events which happened after they were
arrested. Providing a clear and accessible data on arrest
rates, exactly who is in prison, and what has happened to
them is vital in order to bring these practices to an end.
Those wishing to support this initiative can donate funds
http://www.tapol.org/support.html or offer other
assistance (native translators and web development skills
are especially sought) by contacting
International Issues Urgent Alert Regarding Papuan Prisoner
Amnesty International on February 24 issues an
Urgent Action regarding the plight of former prisoner of
conscience Yusak Pakage. [Take action here
Former prisoner of conscience Yusak Pakage is
being denied access to medical treatment while in police
detention in Papua province, Indonesia.
He has reportedly been threatened with torture and has
not had access to a lawyer since his arrest.
Yusak Pakage was arrested on 23 July and is being
detained at Jayapura city police station. According to
sources he is suffering from stomach pains and has not
been able to eat. He is being denied access to medical
treatment by the Jayapura police authorities and has
reportedly been threatened several times with torture
He has been beaten in detention in the past.
Yusak Pakage was arrested during the trial of Papuan
political activist Buchtar Tabuni. While waiting for
court proceedings to begin, he is reported to have
kicked a bin in frustration, which hit a nearby civil
servant. Police who were also in the court room
approached Yusak Pakage and searched him. They found a
pen-knife in his bag. He was arrested and later charged
under Emergency Regulation 12/1951 for "possession of a
weapon", which carries a maximum sentence of ten years'
He has not had access to a lawyer since his arrest.
Amnesty International has also received information that
Yusak Pakage's interrogation has not focused on the
incident in the court on 23 July.
Instead, police have questioned him about his political
activities and his recent efforts to raise funds for
sick political prisoners. He has also been questioned
about his connection with the pro-independence movement
A former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience,
Yusak Pakage is currently the coordinator of a local
movement in Papua called the Street Parliament (Parlemen
Jalanan). He has raised concerns about security for
Papuans and the situation of political prisoners in
Papua. He was recently involved in supporting local
non-governmental organization Solidarity for Victims of
Human Rights Violations (SPKP HAM) in raising funds for
political prisoners who are sick. He and dozens of other
activists were arbitrarily arrested on 20 July by the
Jayapura police in connection with their fundraising
activities. All were released a few hours later.
(WPAT Note: See August 2012
West Papua Report for coverage of these arrests.)
Indonesian Parliament (DPR)
A a Papuan member of the Indonesian parliament (DPR) has
accused the DPR of engaging in human rights violations
in Papua. Parliamentarian Diaz Gwijangga told a public
gathering that the DPR bears indirect responsibility for
human rights abuse there insofar as it has failed to enact
legislation to establish a Commission for Truth and
Reconciliation and an Ad Hoc Commission to address
rights violations there. Both bodies were mandated under the
Indonesian parliament's 2001 law conferring Special Autonomy
(Otsus) on Papua.
A high-ranking member of the upper house of the Papuan
regional parliament (Majelis Rakyat Papua) also recently
spoke out about the need to set up the two rights bodies.
"This points to the failure of Otsus," said Hofni Simbiak,
first deputy chairman of the assembly.
WPAT Note: The DPR has also failed to establish similar
bodies in Aceh as mandated in the 2005 Aceh peace agreement.
Link to this issue: