West Papua Report
This is the 110th 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 by the East Timor
and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are
posted online at
regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams
at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you
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The Report leads with "Perspective," an opinion piece; followed by
"Update," a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then
"Chronicle" which includes analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and
action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a
"Perspective" or responding to one should write to
email@example.com. The opinions expressed in
Perspectives are the author's and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN. For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv
archive or on
This edition of the
West Papua Report's PERSPECTIVE is by a
longtime observer of West Papua. This is the last of a three-part series
(see Part 1 and
In this part, the author, who for his safety asked
to remain anonymous,
examines the decreased effectiveness of NGOs and the declining influence of
elements of the religious community to improve the plight of West
He also sets out essential conditions for a successful Papuan-central
In UPDATE, Papuan
political prisoners have spurned President Yudhoyono's
pledge to offer clemency at some future date. The number of political
prisoners nearly doubled in May.
There has been significant progress in advancing West Papuan interests
within the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Government intelligence and defense agencies yet again
speculate that foreign agents are at
work in West Papua. WPAT notes
that such tales are usually created out of whole cloth in order to justify
continued restrictions on outside observers. This report also details
accounts of a wave of military-on-civilian violence in the central highlands,
including the discovery of many mutilated bodies
we provides links to
recent testimony before the U.S. congressional
Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Indonesia and West Papua; to
recent UN statements on West Papua's political status
and the human rights situation in the territory; to
Amnesty International's annual rights review of Indonesia; and to WPAT and ETAN's
evaluation of the U.S. State Department's report of the human rights
in Indonesia. Also, nearly a dozen international
groups appealed to UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.
Finally, President Yudhoyono intends to
offer a new version of "Special Autonomy" for West Papua.
The new plan is a tacit admission that the existing "Special Autonomy" has
CHALLENGES IN WEST PAPUA
The Way Forward for Papuans
Reviewing the many problems menacing the Papuan people, the question
arises: Is there still a role to be played by non-governmental
organizations, including religious institutions and their leaders? It
appears that there is hardly any NGO powerful enough to influence government
policies. NGOs are less well organized and less qualified than a decade ago.
This is due in part to the migration of experienced staff to government or
other organizations which offer better salaries than the NGOs. NGOs,
nonetheless, try to cope with staffing and other problems and continue to
advocate for the indigenous community's interests.
The position of church leaders is increasingly in question. Church leaders
are much less vocal than a decade years ago. This reality is discouraging.
Efforts to get religious leaders re-involved
has been rather unsuccessful over the last years. There is new hope
following the Papua-Kalimantan Forum which succeeded in sending a "wake-up
call" to the Indonesian Bishops Conference in November 2012. After that
conference some bishops once again have been speaking up for West Papua in
rather clear terms.
I believe it is important that efforts
turn toward the very urgent social-economic issues, including current population
policies, people-centered economic development, a reduction in the negative
impact of militarization, greater solidarity among Papuans themselves, and
encouraging positive relations between indigenous Papuans to other ethnic
At the same time,
the indigenous communities are showing a significant loss of interest in the
church. Attendance at Sunday services is notably decreasing in both the
towns and inland.
Similarly, those Papuans active in advocating for West Papuan rights are now
less inclined to consult with religious leaders. In the late 1990s and early
2000s, it was normal practice that almost any significant action would be
discussed in advance with religious leaders. This practice has vanished
almost completely. This can be read as a sign that activists feel that
religious leaders have lost interest in being part of the public struggle
for justice and truth because they fear creating tensions with the
I believe it is important that efforts turn toward the very urgent
social-economic issues, including current population policies,
people-centered economic development, a reduction in the negative impact of
militarization, greater solidarity among Papuans themselves, and encouraging
positive relations between indigenous Papuans to other ethnic groups.
My sincere conviction is that issues, which might be better described as
"urgent policies," should be on the agenda of any institution claiming to be
committed to working
for a solution to the problems in Papua and which seeks to remain credible
in that effort.
- strict control of migration;
- ending large scale investment projects;
- decreasing the military presence;
- demanding better civil governmental policies;
- promoting self-supporting food security for indigenous communities.
A dialogue between Papua and the Indonesian government would be a
formidable instrument and the government has agreed to explore this option.
Nonetheless, looking at the current reality in West Papua, the "exploration
of the dialogue" should be accompanied by a stronger government commitment
the "urgent policies" mentioned above.
Essential Conditions for a trustworthy dialogue include the following:
- implementation of "demographic control" that keeps the indigenous
population balanced with regard to arriving migrants;
- creation of people-centered economic development that puts an end to
massive marginalization of the indigenous communities;
- reducing militarization;
- creating trust and removing the paralyzing fear among indigenous
- improving the quality of civic administration so that it will become
an effective presence;
The marginalization of the Papuan community is at a very critical level
and fighting against that disastrous process has to become a joint
commitment of as many as partners as can be found.
Papuan Political Prisoners Spurn Vague Presidential Offer
Detained West Papuan leaders,
International reports, rejected a pledge by Indonesian President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono to release them as part of a new, undefined "special
autonomy program." A statement
signed by 25 political prisoners in Abepura Prison said that rather than
be released themselves, all of West Papua should be released from Indonesian
colonization. Signatories included Filep Karma, who is serving 15 years, as
well as Victor Yeimo who was detained earlier in May. Yeimo is a prominent
leader of the KNPB who was arrested during a peaceful demonstration in which
the authorities killed three protesters.
The number of West Papuans detained for political activism
has nearly doubled. The
update from Papuans Behind Bars lists "at least 76 political
prisoners in Papuan jails. The first two weeks of May saw scores of
demonstrators arrested for their activities commemorating 50th anniversary
of the administrative transfer of Papua to Indonesia" by the UN. The May
report also chronicles excessive use of force by the security forces against
peaceful protesters. A radio talk show host was arrested in Manokwari
reportedly for discussing the districts financial difficulties. At the
end of April 2013 there were at least 40 political prisoners in Papuan
jails, according to the group.
"We open our heart and extend our hands
to receive the lost Melanesian son back into the rightful Melanesian family."
International Support for Papuan Membership In
Regional Association Grows
|Flags of the Melanesian Spearhead group countries
… Papua New Guinea
(clockwise from top left), Kanaky (host territory), Vanuatu,
Fiji and the Solomon Islands. (MSG Kantri)
A West Papuan delegation to New Caledonia (Kanaky) have
found a receptive
atmosphere for Papuan aspirations to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group
(MSG). Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) leaders met with
visiting senior officials of the West Papua National Coalition for
Liberation (WPNCL) May 21 in Noumea. The FLNKS voiced support for
West Papuan full membership in the MSG.
Victor Tutugoro, incoming chair of the MSG said "The MSG is
only for Melanesians and liberation movements within it. The FLNKS
leadership would therefore be very happy to welcome the WPNCL as a new
member of the Melanesian family. We open our heart and extend our hands to
receive the lost Melanesian son back into the rightful Melanesian family."
Support for West Papuan membership is growing. On March 27, Fijian Prime
Minister Voge Bainmaramama expressed his
country's support for West Papuan membership in the MSG. On April 3,
Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses
pledged support. Solomon Islands Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo
gave similar assurances at meeting with
a West Papuan delegation April 30. Senior leaders of Papua New Guinea,
including the Deputy Prime Minister, have recently also given their public
The MSG is composed of four states: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Island
and Vanuatu and one party, the FLNKS. The MSG next meets in late June. The
proposal on the WPCNL's application must be agreed by consensus.
Indonesian Intelligence Agencies Claim
Foreign Spies in West Papua
Indonesia's intelligence and
defense agencies have again raised the specter of foreign agents operating
under the cover of "researchers, NGO activists and journalists" in West
Papua. Maj. Gen. Hartind Asrin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense,
told the media that the Indonesian government was monitoring activities
of the "foreign intelligence agents."
Asrin said that three agencies are handling the case, including the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, the National Intelligence Agency, and the Armed Forces
Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS). The agencies are reportedly examining
foreign passports, visas, and study permits. Asrin assured that
the Indonesian government concluded there has been "no serious threat or
WPAT Comment: Indonesia regularly resorts to claims of "spies" in West
Papua as a basis for enforcing restrictions on legitimate international
monitoring of developments in West Papua. As in this instance, such claims
are invariably presented without substantiation. These restrictions
contravene Indonesia's multilateral commitments under international
conventions, as well as bilateral undertakings to friendly governments not
to restrict access to West Papua.
Indonesia's Special Forces
West Papua Media, in a
May 27 "special report" revealed growing evidence
of a large scale massacre and a campaign of violence targeting West Papuan
civilians by Indonesia's "Special Forces" (Kopassus).
The evidence cited in the report, from credible human rights reporters
on the ground in central West Papua, contradict Indonesia
that no killings have taken place.
The multi-source report indicates that the killings occurred in the
Tingginambut area of Puncak Jaya in the West Papuan highlands during much of
the month of May.
The brutal assaults followed the launch of a "sweeping" campaign by the
Indonesian military and the infamous so-called "anti-terror" unit known as
This campaign began in late 2012 and accelerated in February 2013.
Whereas most such "sweeping" operations usually target villagers, killing
civilians and driving others into nearby forests and mountains, the May
killings appear also to have targeted local officials.
According to West Papua Media victims include village chiefs who had been
invited to attend the inauguration of the new West Papuan governor in
Six of the officials reportedly were killed at a military roadblock at Ilu
on the road to Mulia, May 8.
According to the special report,
at least 18 headless or mutilated bodies have since been found in roadside
ditches and drains. Victims appear to originate from the Mulia and Pirime
areas of Tingginambut.
Activists believe that the existence of
so many bodies points to a covert operation of killing and forced disappearances
of indigenous Papuans in Puncak Jaya that has been operating since April
Unconfirmed but credible reports put the total toll of the "mysterious
killings" at over 41 people to date. Activists from the West Papua National
Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat or KNPB) believe that the existence
of so many bodies points to "a covert operation of killing and forced
disappearances of indigenous Papuans in Puncak Jaya that has been operating
since 1 April 2013 until now."
Activists from the KNPB are said to be among the casualties.
In addition to the killings, human rights activists in Puncak Jaya have also
reported that women are being regularly raped by soldiers, with at least 12
documented cases since April and unconfirmed reports of many more. Two
female high school students whose beaten bodies were found in Tingginambut
were reportedly were raped by Kopassus officers.
The discovery of so many bodies has raised fears among the family members of
30 missing Papuans who have been searching for their kin across Puncak Jaya
for over one month.
The disappearances appear to be connected to the detention of at least 15
Papuan civilians by Kopassus in recent weeks. Their fate is unknown.
According to a KNPB statement, a high-school
aged youth was arrested in the town area and believed to
have been tortured over a period of two weeks after which he was killed and
beheaded, with his body placed in a sack and thrown under a bridge.
His family is still hunting for his head, according the KNPB.
In addition, according to sources from the KNPB, two more victims, Yerson
Wonda, the Secretary of KNPB in the Puncak Jaya region, and KNPB member
and high school student Ella Enumbi were also arrested by Kopassus at Ilu
TNI post, then killed and their bodies beheaded. The body of Wonda
and only the head of Ella Enumbi were thrown under a bridge in a sack.
Several of the missing Papuans include nonviolent political activist members
of the local KNPB chapter of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), which
has seen a massive and violent crackdown led by the U.S. founded and trained
Detachment 88. The unit was led by Tito Karnavian, the recently named Papua Police Chief.
As background to the current tensions, the area suffering disappearances,
torture and killing of civilians is in Sinak subdistrict, close to Mulia.
Last February, troops from General Goliat Tabuni's West Papua National
Liberation Army (TPN-PB)
reportedly attacked Kopassus soldiers who had built a military post on a
sacred burial ground (see West Papua Report, March 2013).
That attack prompted the deployment of several thousand soldiers from the
Indonesian Army's Kostrad (strategic reserve), the locally-based Indonesian
battalions 753 and 756, and several hundred Kopassus special forces
soldiers, along with members of Detachment 88. Thousands of Papuan civilians
were displaced from their villages, and those
remaining behind experienced brutal treatment on a daily basis. Houses,
livestock, and food gardens were destroyed.
The KNPB and local residents are calling for an independent persons investigation
and have also asked for help from KOMNAS HAM (the National Human Rights
U.S. Congress Holds Hearing on Human Rights in Indonesia
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of
hearing on Human Rights in Indonesia on May 23. The commission heard
testimony from two State Department officials,
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Dan Baer, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor,
and Susan Sutton, Director, Office of Maritime Southeast Asia. Testimony was
also given by representatives of
Human Rights Watch,
Amnesty International, KontraS,
and Octo Mote, a West Papuan leader living in exile
the secretary of the Papuan Peace Negotiators Team.
Links to all testimony should eventually appear here:
Video of the hearing can be viewed here:
UN Expert: West Papua Should Be on List of Non-Self-Governing
Valmaine Toki, a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues,
a study on decolonization of the Pacific region, which she
submitted to the Forum at its twelfth session in May.
She wrote that "current injustices provide additional reasons to support
claims of independence [for West Papua], claims that have their roots in
historical wrongs" and that "There are clear grounds for the General
Assembly to support reinstatement [of West Papua] on the list of
In paragraph 53 of her report, she concludes that: "New Caledonia, French
Polynesia, Hawaii and West Papua are seeking the right to
self-determination. All have encountered a problematic process and many are
experiencing unacceptable human rights violation that are further
exacerbating this process. These problems notwithstanding, there is a
process to seek decolonization through the Special Committee [on
Decolonization of the UN]. In view of the important process with which the
Committee is tasked, it is recommended that adequate funding continue."
for Human Rights Navi Pillay. (UN Photo/Violaine Martin)
UN Rights Commissioner Criticizes Rights
Violations and Calls for Transparency
In early May, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
expressed concern about violence and human rights violations in Papua.
Speaking about the repression of demonstrations across the region since
April 30 she said, “These latest incidents are unfortunate examples of the
ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in
Papua. I urge the Government of Indonesia to allow peaceful protest and hold
accountable those involved in abuses.” She criticized Indonesia's lack of
"transparency in addressing serious human rights violations in Papua” and
urged "Indonesia to allow international journalists into Papua and to
facilitate visits by the Special Rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights
Amnesty International Underscores Rights Problems in Indonesia
annual report on human rights for 2012,
describes Indonesia's government continuing use of "repressive legislation" to
criminalize freedom of speech in West Papua and elsewhere. It also notes the extrajudicial killing of Mako Tabuni in June
and other human rights violations in West Papua. The report adds that "no
impartial or independent investigation into the killing" of Tabuni.
Indonesia President Yudhoyono
plans to present West Papuans with a new
version of "special autonomy" (OTSUS)
to be called "OTSUS Plus," according to Papua Governor Lukas Enembe.
Criticizing the plan, Syamsul Alam Agus, staff member of the Commission
for Victims of Violence (KontraS) said that "Autonomy Plus will not answer
the problems in Papua, Papuan people are only asking to hold a dialogue as
the only peaceful solution." OTSUS Plus would further extend the Papua
issue, because so far government agencies in Papua were never worked
together to build Papua as a land of peace, he added.
WPAT Comment: Yudhoyono's intention to attempt to re-do Jakarta's failed and rejected (by
Papuans) policy of "special autonomy" is tacit admission by Yudhoyono that
the existing policy has failed.
U.S. Groups Critique U.S. Department of State Human
ETAN and WPAT have published
on the U.S. Department of State's Annual Country Report on
Human Rights for 2012 Concerning Indonesia/West Papua. The U.S. Department of State annual Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices for 2012 includes a
detailed review of Indonesia. The
State Department report's heavy focus on West Papua, which comprises only
one percent of the Indonesian archipelago's population, underscores the
reality that human rights violations and impunity continue at very high
levels in West Papua.
While well-detailed, the State Department Report fails to acknowledge the
failure of the Indonesian government, over decades, to provide essential
services to Papuans, resulting in their extreme marginalization.
International Groups Urge UN Special Rapporteur to Act
A coalition of 11 international organizations
appealed to the UN Special
Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue, to take action by raising
recent repressive actions in West Papua with the Indonesian government.
The groups wrote that
"the killings, arrests and excessive use of force against peaceful
protestors in Papua during 30 April - 13 May 2013... violated the
fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly." Their letter
these actions "represent a serious deterioration in the environment for free
expression and assembly in the Papua region." Signing the letter were TAPOL,
the International Coalition for Papua, Survival International, Franciscans
International, West Papua Advocacy Team, East Timor and Indonesia Action
Network, West Papua Action Auckland, Australia West Papua Association
(Sydney), Peace Movement Aotearoa, Pacific Media Centre, and Pacific Scoop.
A proposed visit to Indonesia by La Rue has yet to take place, apparently
because s to allow him to visit
West Papua and other locations.
Link to this issue: