West Papua Report October 2012: New York Agreement, helicopters, Divesting Freeport, Political Prisoners, UPR, Genocide
etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer

West Papua Report

October 2012



Donate to ETAN!

This is the 102nd 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 http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org. For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.

WPAT Note: With this edition, West Papua Report has changed format: The Report leads with "Perspective," an opinion piece; followed by an "Update," a summary of some developments during the covered period; and a "Chronicle" which lists of statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a Perspective or responding to one should write to edmc@msn.com. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author's and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN.


Perspective: The New York Agreement: 1962-2012


WPAT Note: The following Perspective coincides with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the "New York Agreement," a watershed agreement, undertaken without Papuan participation, which sealed the Papuan people's fate as subject to annexation by Indonesia. The author has chosen to use the pen name Ch. Hook out of concern over retaliation by the Indonesian government as a consequence of this article. WPAT considers this concern to be well-founded.

The New York Agreement, 1962-2012

When the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.2601 several years ago, (Footnote 1) calling for the Secretary of State to report to Congress regarding the 1962 handover of West Papua, the New York Agreement was briefly in the spotlight. Fifty long years ago, the New York Agreement replaced Dutch colonialism with Indonesian military rule, and a new word entered the lexicon of multi-lingual Papua that was common to all - genocide.

The first killing was on 15 November 1962 - exactly one month after Dutch forces left, a Papuan police constable was killed on the island of Dom, close to the oil-town Sorong. Under the auspices of the UN, Pakistani troops assisting the transfer of power simply looked on. What should have been a multi-national force, was not. As pointed out by Dame Rosalyn Higgins, president of the International Commission of Jurists (2006-9), this role for the Pakistani troops was arranged without any paperwork by Foreign Minister (and former ambassador to the US) Ali Bogra. (Footnote 2)  

"As many Papuans (West Irianese) as possible," the New York Agreement stipulated, "will be brought into administrative and technical positions.?" But Indonesian policy from the start was that of a victorious, invading army. There were 7,600 Papuan officials at the time of the transfer to Indonesian control. A European UN officer commented on the transformation that occurred in the forestry bureaucracy which initially had five top Papuan supervisors, and 81 Papuan botanists, senior rangers and draftsmen. All were replaced by Indonesians who were inexperienced and (the UN officer observed) "their reliance on West Irianese subordinates... can be embarrassing to the onlooker." (Footnote 3)

apuans protest at U.S. embassy in Jakarta, August 15, on 50th anniversary of signing New York Agreement.
Papuans protest at U.S. embassy in Jakarta, August 15,2012 on 50th anniversary of signing New York Agreement. Photo from UCANews.

Rampant racism became the political cover to maintain Indonesian superiority. While marginalization and impoverishment were the political tools of the new colonizer, the omnipresent Indonesian army was the arbiter of summary justice. The army also acquired business interests throughout Indonesia tied to its "territorial command structure," reaching from Jakarta to the most remote villages in Papua - where this remains unchanged even today.  The New York Agreement made provision for the Papuans to vote for an independent future or to stay under Indonesian rule. The provision for the Papuans to vote was a crucial aspect of negotiations in the agreement which stipulated the vote should be "the freely expressed will of the population", but it was not. Leading up to the "Act of Free Choice" in 1969, many prominent Papuans were arrested and killed in the process of "culling", and this policy remains unchanged even today. Two former leaders of political parties, J. Ariks and L. Mandatjan who had fought with U.S. marines against the Japanese, were among many thousands of Papuans killed by bombing, strafing and untold atrocities in the 1967-8 Manokwari revolt. In the Paniai district, Indonesian paratroopers were used against 30,000 people calling for independence. The actual "vote" was a travesty in which 1022 Papuans, selected by the Indonesians were compelled to vote unanimously for union with Indonesia. (Footnote 4)

Indonesia's General Sukarno with Ellsworth Bunker (right).  

President Suharto, in April 1969, farewelled some of the 16,000 troops who helped to achieve the unanimous vote with words that hinted at the central role of the military in securing control of West Papua as much as the central role of the US "mediator", Ellsworth Bunker, in securing the New York Agreement: "The return of West Irian [the territory of Papua] into the fold of the motherland is not at all a gift from outside, not just the result of cleverness at the negotiating table."  Five decades after the agreement human rights abuse and extrajudicial killings (as outlined by the Yale report on Genocide in Papua/West Papua, Footnote 5) has resulted in the destruction of "a substantial part of the indigenous population."

A figure of 100,000 deceased is often cited, but this is because the Papuan human rights group ELSHAM had names and addresses as supporting evidence, usually as a direct result of army violence. But the army has also been involved in ending Papuan lives by means of starvation and disease, sometimes done deliberately and no doubt sometimes simply through neglect entailed in Indonesian government policy which failed to provide for the basic health and other fundamental needs of the Papuan people.  For example, when the army was exploiting the timber resources of the southern regions of Kamoro and Asmat in the 1980s, Papuan communities suffered displacement and starvation. Bishop Alphonse Sowada, an American, made public the shocking data that in the under-five age group in the Asmat area 600 out of 1000 were dying. These are the statistics of genocide. (Footnote 6)  

The Encyclopedia of Genocide (published by Macmillan USA, 2004) used the demographic basis from the 1960 Census, under Dutch control, and the 1960 census from Papua New Guinea (PNG) under Australian control. PNG - the eastern half of the island also populated by Papuan people - now has nearly 8 million inhabitants. By contrast, the indigenous population of Papua/West Papua has less than 2 million, with a similar number of "transmigrants" mainly from the Indonesian islands of Java and Sulawesi. Drawing on the cultural similarity between "east and west" Papuan indigenous populations, and historically comparable rates of reproduction, Papua/West Papua in 2004 should have achieved a total of approximately 3.4 million. There are a multiplicity of factors involved, but this comparison nevertheless reveals a serious population deficit, in the range of 1.4 million.

An explanation for this deficit can be found in policies (for which Jakarta must be held responsible) pursued by the Indonesian army and police stationed in Papua. "The deliberacy of their violence, and the intent underlying their actions, predicates the accusation of genocide." Footnote 7


Hospital statistics, based on the number of widows from this time period, indicate a total exceeding 25,000 dead. On the ground, Kopassus officers in plain clothes, directly from Jakarta, selected many Papuan leaders and articulate individuals for slaughter.  

Some examples: In 1977, in the highlands (where most Papuans live) Indonesian forces strafed and bombed for three months using ex-Vietnam OV-10 "Bronco" aircraft purchased from the US Government. According to Dr. W.H. Vriend of the local government hospital and author of the 2003 book "Smoky Fires," there were American advisers for the Indonesian pilots deployed on the tarmac at the main airport in the Papuan highlands at Wamena. An estimated 70 percent of the Tagi people of the Western Dani valley were killed in such raids and many from other tribes. Hospital statistics, based on the number of widows from this time period, indicate a total exceeding 25,000 dead. On the ground, Kopassus officers in plain clothes, directly from Jakarta, selected many Papuan leaders and articulate individuals for slaughter.  

In 1997, along the southern foothills of the central range, Major-General Prabowo Subianto (formerly Suharto's son-in-law and head of the Indonesian Special Forces, "Kopassus," at the time) was responsible for bombing and strafing of villages, and causing widespread starvation by laying waste to all gardens and farm-animals. The International committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official there quit in protest, commenting (as he left via Jakarta airport) that "thousands were dying". The ICRC was banned from Papua several years ago, along with a leading Dutch NGO involved in community development in Papua for decades. The human rights NGO Peace Brigades International also is no longer able to work in West Papua. The era of democratic reform has brought no improvement in Papua. High hopes were held for "Special Autonomy" in 2002 but the Minister for Home Affairs in Jakarta delayed full approval. Furthermore, there was a crucial lack of incentive because of Washington's preoccupation with converting the Indonesian army into a front-line defense in the "war on terror." The U.S. Government's drive to partner with the Indonesian military in this venture dissuaded Washington from pressing for an end to that military's human rights abuse, unaccountability and corruption according to retired U.S. diplomat Ed McWilliams. (Footnote 8)

Fifty years of human rights abuse in Papua/West Papua....and replying to 30 recommendations in the UN Human Rights Commission's quadrennial review in May 2012, the Indonesian response this month was more delays and platitudes. The Indonesian government continues to deny access to the United Nations special rapporteur on indigenous people and is still "unable to allow foreign journalists free access to Papua and West Papua."

With the evidence that has emerged in the last fifty years regarding the New York Agreement, it is clear that the U.S. government did not have access to full intelligence impinging on that decision. By refusing to address the problem, the U.S. is further implicated in the on-going tragedy in Papua/West Papua which includes accusations of genocide and crimes against humanity that Jakarta cannot dispel by denying access to the Special Rapporteur.  


(1) US Congress, "House Resolution 2601, "Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007," Union Calendar No. 105'

(2) Rosalyn Higgins, UN Peacekeeping 1946-67, Documents and Commentary, (Volume 2, Asia) (Oxford University Press, 1970). The New York Agreement said the UN force should be multinational. It had 59 military aides from the US, 12 from Canada (the Americans and Canadians were all air force personnel) and 1537 Pakistani troops from the 14th Punjab. These joined 1500 Indonesian paratroopers (earlier captured by Papuan and Dutch forces when they had landed in Papua and were permitted to stay). The Pakistani and Indonesian troops prayed together and patrolled together. There was no official paperwork in UN files on how the UN arranged this or who under the aegis of the UN actually agreed to the Pakistani troops., although Secretary-General U Thant was ultimately responsible. Higgins, p.113.
(3) Stanley Dennis Richardson, The role of forest-based industries in the economic and social development of West Irian (Fund of the United Nations for the Development of West Irian, 1968), p.53.
(4) Several books written at the time by western journalists refer to the Manokwari rebellion and also to how the paratroopers in Paniai put down opposition. In Manokwari the OPM took over the town (former capital of Netherlands New Guinea) for three days. The Indonesian government employed paratroopers in Manokwari (e.g., see Brian May, The Indonesian Tragedy, Graham Brash, 1979).
(5) "Indonesian Human Rights Abuses in West Papua: Application of the Law of Genocide to the History of Indonesian Control," report by Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School, April 2004.
(6) Julian Burger, Anti-Slavery Society Report to the UN Minority Rights Working Group, Geneva, 1984.

(7) See "Papua" section in Dinah L. Shelton, ed., Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity (Macmillan USA, 2004).
(8) Interview with author.

US Apache Helicopters Seen as "A Means of Destruction for Papua"

A two-part piece by Simon Riyard Banundi, translated by TAPOL, reviews the prospective sale of the U.S. Apache 64 attack helicopter to the Indonesian military (TNI), which has been protested by over 90 NGOs worldwide. The article (Part 1, Part 2) reiterates NGO's concerns that the weapons systems could be deployed in West Papua to augment the TNI's repeated "sweeping operations" which have devastated the rural Papuan civilian population.

The article describes recent developments concerning the sale, including: "In July and August 2012, the US government gave a sign that it was offering to sell AH-64 Apache aircraft to Indonesia. Indonesia's defense minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro said on August 24, 2012: "Once it is approved by the DPR-RI, the Indonesian parliament, the TNI will purchase eight AH-64 Apache aircraft. This super-modern aircraft costs US$45 million per unit."

Papuan NGO's Collecting Donations for Political Prisoners Harassed by Police
The September 23 Suara Pemburatan, translated by Tapol, reported on efforts by local NGOs United For Truth and Solidarity for Victims of Human Rights Violations on behalf of Tapols (political prisoners) and Napols (convicted prisoners). The report notes that while these organizations were collecting money on behalf of Tapols and Napols, police forced them to disperse. Some of the NGO members were taken into custody, purportedly for causing traffic congestion. (They were subsequently released.)

The NGO action was prompted by the failure of the Indonesian government to provide minimally adequate medical care for prisoners, in violation of Indonesia's international obligations. Suara Pemburatan cites Melania Kirihio from the Papua branch of National Human Rights Commission stating: 'It is the responsibility of the state to provide whatever is necessary to guarantee the health of people in custody in the various prisons. If the necessary treatment is not available in the prison, the state must grant permission for the prisoner to been examined elsewhere in accordance with their needs."

New Zealand Fund Divests from Freeport over Human Rights/Security Concerns

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has announced that it will end its investment in the Freeport-McMoran. The decision, according to the fund, was out of "concerns over requirements for direct payments to government security forces consequence of security issues" and human rights at its copper and gold mine in West Papua.

Blood Money Fund manager Anne-Maree O'Connor told the media: "The context is such that there have been fatalities at the mine, that there have been reports by MSCI [Morgan Stanley Capital International] and other sources of information that these have breached human rights standards so we believe that the situation is one that could continue well into the future, and those are the standards that we look at when we considering reviewing the behaviour of companies."

The NZ pension fund's involvement in the controversial Freeport mine was challenged in a major investigative article in Metro magazine in December 2011. The article, by Auckland University of Technology communication studies student and photojournalist Karen Abplanalp, described a long-running strike at the mine and the shooting of miners in "suspicious circumstances."

The Auckland-based Indonesian Human Rights Committee (IHRC), which has campaigned against "unethical" investment in Freeport, thanked the fund. IHRC's Maire Leadbetter is now pushing the fund to divest from Rio Tinto, a partner of Freeport's in the Papua mine.

All the Ingredients for Genocide: Is West Papua the Next East Timor?

A September 21 opinion piece published in the Australian's The Conversation raises the prospect of genocide in West Papua. Author Jim Elmslie, Visiting Scholar, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Sydney, also looks at Australian complicity with the so-called "anti-terror" force Densus (Detachment) 88, which partially funds it.
Elmslie notes parallels between the current plight of Papuans and that of the people of East Timor under Indonesian occupation: "The ingredients are there: stark racial, religious and ideological differences coalescing around a desire for Papuan resources and Papuans' land, on one hand, and independence on the other. Indeed many Indonesians, as well as the Indonesian state, already view Papuan separatists as traitors."

Papuan Prisoner of Conscience Filep Karma Returns to Abepura Prison from Jakarta Medical Treatment

Filep Karma, a political prisoner of conscience from Papua, has returned to Abepura prison in West Papua after two weeks of medical treatment in Jakarta. Karma's medical care was delayed for six months despite a medical referral stipulating that he required medical care not available in West Papua.

Abepura prison officials, under the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, refused to cover cost of his medical treatment and travel. This is in direct contravention of national and international law [see United Nations' Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (Principle 24), and Indonesian law (Regulation No. 32/1999 on Terms and Procedures on the Implementation of Prisoners' Rights in Prisons). Karma's travel arrangements were funded by donations from Papuans and international supporters.

Filep Karma with family and friends. Photo courtesy of family.

In addition to Karma, there are at least seven other political prisoners who are ill, including: Apotnagolik Lokobal (stroke), Ferdinand Pakage (stroke), Forkorus Yaboisembut (impaired vision), Kanius Murib (memory loss), Kimanus Wenda (hernia)m Jefrai Murib (stroke), and Yusak Pakage (indigestion).

Karma was imprisoned in 2004 and is serving 15 years in prison for participating in a peaceful independence demonstration and for raising the Morning Star flag, an important Papuan symbol of independence. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared him a political prisoner in September 2011, asking the Indonesian government to immediately and unconditionally release Karma. The Indonesian government, however, denies the existence of "political prisoners" in Indonesia.

SBY Urged to Inaugurate Dialogue with Papuans
Activists and rights campaigners are calling on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to use his October visit to Papua at long last to inaugurate a dialogue with all members of the Papuan community to find a lasting solution to tension in the country's easternmost provinces. Those tensions have led to increasing violence, including an on-going "sweep operation" in the Paniai region by the Indonesian military and the killing of Papuan civilians engaging in peaceful dissent.

Although President Yudhoyono assumed office in 2004 pledging to address the myriad problems in West Papua. his period in office has seen increased human rights violations, continued marginalization of Papuans, and tightening restrictions on those attempting to monitor developments in West Papua. His claims to be open to dialogue with Papuans have thus far been hollow rhetoric.

Amnesty International Issues Urgent Action Appeal on Behalf of Olga Hamadi

On September 24, Amnesty International (AI) issued an Urgent Action appeal on behalf of human rights lawyer Olga Hamadi. The appeal said that Papuan human rights lawyer Olga Hamadi was threatened after investigating allegations of police torture and mistreatment of five men detained in Wamena. Hamadi is a lawyer working for non-governmental organization KontraS Papua based in Jayapura.

AHRC: Police Shoot Unarmed Civilian in Nabire, Papua

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is urging authorities to conduct a criminal investigation into the police shooting of Kristian Belau. Police officers who are responsible for his injury should receive adequate punishment in accordance with law and the victim should be compensated. The shooting took place on September 24, 2012 in Nabire, Papua. The police have spread false news that was crossfire taking place and that the shooting was unavoidable. Take action here.

ALRC and KontraS Denounce Government's Failure to Accept Key UPR Recommendations

At the 21st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, KontraS and the Asia Legal Resource Center denounced the failure of the Indonesian government to respond to the recommendations of the Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR). They said that Indonesia needs to  revise its current Law on Military Courts "which has resulted in disproportionately light sentences or acquittals of perpetrators in many torture cases." The groups also highlighted the government's "selective approach concerning recommendations on human rights issues in Papua." They called for "granting full access to the region to relevant international human rights and humanitarian actors and foreign journalists," an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, "a halt human rights violations by security officers." and combating "impunity and respect for freedom of expression."

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2012/1210wpap.htm


ETAN Cause on Facebook
ETAN Group on Facebook

ETAN Blog ETAN's Blog

ETAN listservs

Subscribe to ETAN's e-mail Listservs

    WWW http://www.etan.org

Donate to ETAN!

Become an ETAN Sustainer, make a pledge via credit card here

Bookmark and Share

Background | Take Action | News | Links | What You Can Do | Resources  | Contact

ETAN Store | Estafeta | ImagesHome | Timor Postings | Search | Site Index |

Follow ETAN
Like ETAN on Facebook Follow ETAN on Twitter ETAN on Google+ ETAN email listservs ETAN blog ETAN on LinkedIn ETAN on Pinterest ETAN on Instagram Donate to ETAN!