West Papua Report
This is the 116th 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
Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at
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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 Twitter.
In this edition's "Perspective,"
Dr. Charles Farhadian describes the transformation of the religious
landscape of West Papua, in particular the role of the Indonesian
government in the shift of the region from predominantly
Christian to predominantly Muslim.
This month's "Update" leads with the police
crackdown on West Papuan demonstrators which
left at least one Papuan dead, many injured and many under arrest. WPAT
sources in Papua New Guinea report that Papuan rights
supporters foiled efforts by national police to arrest Port Moresby
Governor Powes Parkop for flying the Papuan Morning Star Flag on
December 1. Two reports looks at Freeport,
including its "greenwashing" activities.
Moana Carassas, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, raised the
plight of the people of West Papua at the Commonwealth Heads of
Government meeting in Sri Lanka. A prominent Indonesian journalist
called for greater transparency by
the Indonesian government in dealing with West Papua. A regional
journal reports on West Papuan activists in
carrying their message to the nations
of the Pacific.
In "Chronicle," we note
condemnation of recent police violence in
West Papua by Amnesty International and the West Papua Advocacy Team.
The impact of the recent "Freedom Flotilla" is
considered in a comprehensive essay. West
Papuan voices are largely absent in the ongoing reconsideration of
special autonomy for West Papua. An OpEd by ETAN board member Andrew de
Sousa looks at the role of the "School
of the Americas" in training military officials who have notorious
human rights records. A regional conference
examined policing practices.
Religious Changes Afoot in Papua
by Charles Farhadian, PhD
Massive religious changes are afoot in West Papua,
and with them broader transnational connections that will continue to shape
Papuan society and the Pacific region. Since the annexation of West Papua
by Indonesia, following the widely discredited sham vote called the Act of
Free Choice (1969), the religious life in West Papua has experienced significant
transformation. My perspective here focuses on the most dramatic religious
change in West Papua over the past four decades – that is, the growth of
Islam. Prior to the Indonesian annexation of West Papua, the region consisted
of roughly 800,000 indigenous West Papuans, most of who followed an indigenous
Papuan religious tradition or Protestant, Evangelical, or Catholic expressions
of Christianity, with a small group of Muslims located in Fak-Fak.
Over the past four decades, however, in large part because of the
official and unofficial government sponsored transmigration program that
moved Indonesians from over-crowded islands to West Papua, the religious
demography of West Papua has changed dramatically. Papuans recognize that
part of the government strategy has been to Islamize West Papua, a plan
that has been exceedingly successful. Islamizing West Papua, Papuans believe,
plays a strategic geopolitical role in further integrating West Papua into
the Republic of Indonesia while strengthening the region’s connections to
other Muslim areas such as Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
Papuans recognize that part of the government strategy has
been to Islamize West Papua, a plan that has been exceedingly
successful. Islamizing West Papua, Papuans believe, plays a
strategic geopolitical role in further integrating West Papua
into the Republic of Indonesia.
Nearly twenty ago Islam reportedly eclipsed Christianity in
Of [Papua’s] population of almost
1.9 million, between 750,000 and 850,000 were born outside the province
and the non-Papuan population continues to rise. In Jayapura, about 80%
of the 90,000 inhabitants are non-Papuan. Islam, with an estimated 450,000
adherents in Irian Jaya, recently eclipsed Christianity to become the province’s
biggest religion, and more than 90% of civil servants are Muslims.
Islam is growing so rapidly not only because of the
large numbers of Muslim transmigrants arriving daily to the region, but
also because of conversion of Christian Papuans to Islam. Indonesian and
Saudi Arabian Muslim missionaries (da’wah) make their way through
open markets and work through existing Muslim organizations in order to
win Papuans to Islam. Muslim missionaries have made great strides in compelling
Christian Papuans to change their religion, despite Indonesian laws that
prohibit proselytization. At least two villages in the highlands of West
Papua have converted from Christianity en masse to Islam. Muslim
missionaries have celebrated the fact that the Big-Man of one village that
converted from Christianity to Islam had already been on hajj to Mecca.
That Muslim missionary noted that within a generation, with the village
children now at Islamic boarding schools (pesantrens) in Java, there
would be no more pigs, which were so central to the religious life of traditional
Papuan children, in fact, have been victims of false promises of receiving
education and instead been taken and placed in Islamic boarding schools
in Java. In a recent article, it was reported that well over 2000 Papuan
children have been kidnapped and taken to Islamic boarding schools in order
to be “re-educated” as Muslim Papuan missionaries to West Papua, most of
these being Christian Papuan young people. Some of these Papuan children
are now studying in Salafi Islamic schools, a puritanical, scripturalist
Islamic movement similar to the Wahabbi movement in Saudi Arabia. Al Fatih
Kafah Nusantara (AFKN), a Saudi-backed hardline Islamic group related to
the Indonesian Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has been active in recruiting
children from both East Timor and West Papua.
Papuan children, now studying in pesantrens in and around Jakarta,
are given Arabic names as the training seeks to “erase their cultural roots.”
Such conversions of Christian Papuan children to Islam is an example of
the increasing use of religion for political ends.
This strategy is not new: in 1969, when Indonesian annexed West Papua, President
Suharto proposed transferring 200,000 children of the “backward and primitive
Papuans, still living in the stone age” to Java for education.
Islamic movements in West Papua are not all as aggressive
in their proselytizing methods. The largest Muslim organizations in Indonesia,
namely Muhammadiyah and Nadlatul Ulama, are also active in Papua, which
illustrates the immense diversity within Islam in West Papua. Even Muhammadiyah
and Nadlatul Ulama, with nationwide membership of 30 million and 40 million,
respectively, exhibit broad similarities despite their unique histories
and theological emphases. The major question that religionists, Christian
or Muslim, in West Papua will have to face is how they will create mechanisms
to ensure plural co-existence.
Another critical piece to be considered is the wider context of religious
change, particularly in Papua New Guinea. Religious changes in neighboring
Papua New Guinea foretell significant geopolitical reconfigurations in the
borderland between Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Since 2001, there has
been 500 percent growth of the Muslim population in Papua New Guinea, from
476 converts to over 5000, as a result not of Muslim immigration but of
conversions of local Papuan New Guineans to Islam.
The institutionalization of Islam in Papua New Guinea was supported by Tunku
Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj (founding Prime Minister of Malaysia) who, along
with increasing political pressure from Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir
Muhammad, sought to actively promote Islam and support Muslims in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Islamic advance might further exacerbate ongoing tensions among the
variety of ethnic and religious groupings in West Papua. Papuan intellectuals,
including the well-known Papuan Muslim, al-Hamid, have declared Papua a
zone of peace, with the hope of resisting the kind of religious and social
violence that erupted between local Christian Moluccans and pendatang
Muslims in the Maluku Islands beginning in early 1999.
Farhadian, PhD is Professor of Religious Studies,
Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California. He has written two books on
West Papua and is a member of the WPAT.
See David John Neilson, “Christianity in Irian (West Papua),” (PhD
diss., University of Sydney, 2000) and Charles Farhadian, Christianity,
Islam, and Nationalism in Indonesia (London: Routledge, 2005).
Roberts, G. (1996, January 27). Irian Jaya: Caught in the Crossfire.
Sydney Morning Herald.
on Peaceful Papuan Demonstrators
Indonesian authorities in West Papua assaulted peaceful Papuan
demonstrators on November 26, reportedly killing one and inflicting four
Shootings, killings, beatings, arrests as Hundreds flee to jungle after
Indon Police open fire on peaceful KNPB demo)
The Jayapura shooting victim, Matthius Tengget, an activist with the West
Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB), died of his
wounds in custody. However, his body was subsequently retrieved after it was
dumped into a lake, allegedly by those members of the Brimob paramilitary
police units who shot him.
This latest incident falls within a repeated pattern of the use of
excessive and lethal force by Indonesian police against peaceful
activists in West Papua which is indicative of a broader state policy.
Continued impunity for the police involved is unacceptable and the
failure to punish gives rise to command and state responsibility,"
to a statement from KNPB General Chairman Victor Yeimo, currently in
Abepura prison, "KNPB and family members of the victims are also looking for
four other KNPB members that are missing: their whereabouts are unknown or
their bodies have not yet been found."
WPAT sources and media reports say that the police in Jayapura opened
fire November 26 on an estimated 500 Papuans who were peacefully celebrating
the opening of an office of the KNPB in Papua New Guinea. West Papua Media
reports 15 Papuans are in serious condition in hospitals with various wounds
as a result of the police operation in Jayapura. Peaceful demonstrations
organized by the KNPB took place in many parts of West Papua at the end of
November. Most were met with police violence. Police in Timika arrested 31
demonstrators and three in Sorong. A very large demonstration in Wamena
passed peacefully, apparently because the demonstrators vastly outnumbered
the police who had gathered to block the demonstration. The police violence
November 26 followed police arrests of 16 Papuans who were peacefully
handing out leaflets on November 25. In the wake of the new security force
violence many Papuans, according to West Papua Media have fled their home
and sought refuge in the forests.
Reports to WPAT from West Papua also indicate that in recent days
journalists have suffered intimidation by security forces.
International Lawyer Jennifer Robinson, Convener of the International
Lawyers for West Papua and currently meeting in PNG,
told West Papua Media that "This use of excessive force against KNPB
members is in breach of international law and Indonesia's own police
regulations on the use of force.... This latest incident falls within a
repeated pattern of the use of excessive and lethal force by Indonesian
police against peaceful activists in West Papua which is indicative of a
broader state policy. Continued impunity for the police involved is
unacceptable and the failure to punish gives rise to command and state
For its part
Amnesty International has condemned the police violence and expressed
concern about ill treatment of those placed in custody in connection with
the police action:
"Amnesty International is concerned about allegations that police
ill-treated protesters involved in a pro-independence protest in Papua as
well as intimidated journalists who were covering it. On 26 November, police
arrested at least 28 political activists including three women who
participated in a pro-independence protest in Wamena, Jayapura organized by
the KNPB. According to a human rights lawyer who saw them in detention at
the Jayapura City police station, there were indications that they had been
beaten after they were arrested. Some of the detainees had bruises or
swelling on their mouth, eyes, forehead and body. At least 12 people are
still in police custody."
The growing violence in West Papua appears to have been orchestrated to
coincide with the late November visit there of the new National Police
Commander Sutarman. Gen. Sutarman has made explicit in his threats to Papuan
telling the media that "We will take firm action against groups or
individuals wanting to separate Papua from Indonesia because Papua is part
Indonesian security authority attempts to intimidate Papuans have focused
significantly on the KNPB. Tabloid Jubi reported November 26 that
Papua Deputy Police Chief Waterpauw, on the eve of the police crackdown in
West Papua, denied KNPB the right to freedom of expression, permanently. "I
made it clear to the KNPB, immediately stop the steps that are likely to
violence. Whatever the form of their intention and desire to perform
activities in public hearings, (it) will never be given permission or
recommendation to implement it , because we know the purpose of the
organisation and their desire is clear, (they) want to form a state , split
off and so on. "
The wave of police violence came on the eve of what are expected to be
commemorations of "Flag Day" across West Papua as Papuans celebrate by
raising the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag for the first time,
December 1 1961.
Sutarman warned that “The Bintang Kejora flag raising ceremony on
Dec. 1 is forbidden, and those involved will be dealt with seriously."
Supporters of Papuan Rights Foil PNG
Efforts to Arrest Port Moresby Governor Parkop
WPAT sources in Papua New Guinea report on failed efforts
by the PNG police to arrest Port Moresby Governor Powes Parkop for flying
the West Papuan "Morning Star" flag in Port Moresby on December 1 to commemorate
the Papuan declaration of independence in 1961.
Police, reportedly acting under the order of the PNG Prime
Minister Peter O'Neil (who also is the minister in charge of the national
police), moved to arrest Parkop for defying national government orders not
to fly the flag. Supporters of West Papuan rights moved forward to peacefully
block the police from carrying out the arrest. Three of the supporters were
arrested and remained in detention as of mid-day December 2. They are West
Papuan Fred Mabrasar, PNG human rights activist Fofoe, and Patrick Kaku,
a professor at the University of Papua New Guinea.
WPAT gave Parkop its
John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award
earlier this year.
Focus On Freeport Offers Detailed
Account of Its Record in West Papua
August report published by Alibi in New Mexico critiques the U.S.-based
copper and gold mining firm Freeport McMoRan. Freeport operates mines in
the U.S., including three in New Mexico, and elsewhere, most notoriously
in West Papua. (Read the entire article here:
The article details efforts by Freeport to rewrite New Mexico environmental
regulations to evade pollution controls in a massive New Mexico open-pit
copper mine. The article underscores Freeport's international reputation
as a polluter and human rights violator:
Labor strife defines everyday life for workers at
the Grasberg Mine, but it's Freeport's shocking environmental record
that is most egregious. After blasting entire hillsides of copper-laden
rock, huge pulverizers grind the material into the consistency of sugar.
The milled material is then mixed with a chemical slurry. Agitators
inject oxygen and mix the concoction until a thick froth develops. This
froth, called concentrate, contains the copper ore, which is skimmed
off and sent to a smelter. Milling produces more waste than copper,
however, and this leftover fluid, or tailings, constitutes a noxious
stew. Freeport refuses to release accurate information on any of its
mining operations, but environmental organizations estimate that Grasberg
produces between 230,000 and 700,000 tons of tailings each day. Freeport
dumps the tailings into the Ajkwa and Otomona rivers. Glacial runoff
at high altitude feeds the Ajkwa and Otomona as the rivers travel through
an ecosystem astonishing in its biodiversity. Scientists still find
new species of insects and mammals in the cloud forests, rainforests,
alpine forests, tidal swamps and mangrove forests. But nothing much
lives in either river any longer. As the tailings makes its 80-mile
journey to the coast, it leaves a toxic sediment of chemicals and heavy
metals, including mercury, along the river bottom. This slurry skirts
the western edge of the nearly 10,000 square-mile Lorentz National Park,
a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is among the most ecologically diverse
ecosystems in the world (Freeport euphemistically calls it the "controlled
riverine tailings transport" system). The tailings eventually accumulate
in what Freeport calls the ?modified deposition area,? or more accurately,
in the place where the spreading ruin of its toxic plume chokes coastal
mangrove estuary habitat along the Arafura Sea.
Indonesia is the only country in the world that lets
Freeport turn waterways into waste pits. This arrangement comes after
decades of payoffs to successive military juntas that -- despite enormous
pressure from human rights groups and environmental watchdogs -- lets
Freeport regulate itself.
The significance of the destruction of the coast-protecting
mangroves was underscored recently
in a report on the trees importance in protecting shorelines in the
Philippines where mangrove destruction left the coast much more vulnerable
to the ravages of typhoons such as the one which struck the central Philippines
long sought to obscure its infamous environmental and human rights record
by precluding independent researchers from visiting the area devastated
by its operations. Like other corporations with abysmal environmental
records, Freeport has also attempted to divert attention from its record
through "greenwashing." This ruse entails funding projects intended to convey
the false impression that the polluting firm is sensitive to environmental
concerns. A recent
Jakarta Post report details just such project in which Freeport had
provided funds to researchers to investigate natural fauna in the West Papua.
In the 1990s, Freeport, after a runoff from the
gypsum waste into the Mississippi River,
"a massive public relations campaign to convince the community of its
deep concern for the earth, as it began to endow professorships in environmental
fields, at area universities and as major environmental reporters from the
local media took jobs for the company."
WPAT Comment: It is unfortunate that respected experts and institutions
permit their reputations to be abused in this manner.
Vanuatu PM: Consistent Champion
of Human Freedoms in West Papua
Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses carried his message of support for
West Papua to the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo,
Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister, after reviewing how West Papuans right to
self-determination has been denied,
told Commonwealth leaders "we cannot continue to deny them their rights,
thus I call on our collective efforts to support their cause."
reportedly wants to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2017.
WPAT Comment: For many decades West Papua has lacked the critical support
of an international actor such as East Timor had in Portugal during its
long travail. Vanuatu's eloquent and courageous appeal on behalf of West
Papuans at the UN General Assembly in
September, at the Melanesian Spearhead
Group (MSG) meeting in July and now before the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting, at last, signals that at last Papuans have an international
Leading Indonesian Journalist Calls for
on West Papua
Eko Maryadi, President of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, told
media that despite Governor of Papua province Lukas Enembe's
recent remarks about opening the
region to foreign journalists, it remains hard for them to get permits.
Fairfax journalists in Australia have confirmed that there has been no improvement
in the process to obtain access to the region. According to Maryadi, the
Indonesian Government does not want Papua to receive the same attention
Timor-Leste had prior to its gaining independence.
"If this current government wants to be called democratic and transparent
then I think there is nothing to worry about. Papuan people should be treated
fairly and similarly to other Indonesians. So if you ask what should be
changed, they have to change their mindset, and then they have to change
their system, how they handle the foreign media," Maryadi
told Radio New Zealand International.
Maryadi, who was jailed under the Suharto regime,
added that while the Indonesian government has the right to regulate
who enters the country, it should let foreign journalists come, "all they
have to do is make a regulation - what a foreign journalist can do and what
he cannot do."
Papuan Activists Carry Their Message to
Islands Business has carried a detailed account of efforts by West Papuans
to carry their message to nations of the Pacific. Excerpts follow:
West Papua activists are traveling the Pacific lobbying
countries to support their bid. One such activist is exiled investigative
journalist Octovanius Mote, who has just returned to his adopted home
in the United States last month, after island hopping the Melanesian
states.... Mote said after 40 years of Indonesian rule, joining a
group like MSG would enhance their endeavors for independence.
In exile, Mote continues to cry for the support of his eastern cousins
and has seen a change in heart in various Melanesian governments. "I
met with support groups in Fiji to basically get updated on what is
the progress on our application," he said. He says he is encouraged
by the support shown. "So for that we really would like to thank all
the Melanesian leaders for being united on this after 50 years of Indonesian
rule." Mote was also enthusiastic about the response from West Papua's
closest neighbour Papua New Guinea who in the past tended to side with
Indonesia. Former Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, a founding member
of the MSG, said West Papua should engage with Melanesian society because
culturally they (West Papuans) are Melanesians.
"We don't see any MSG leader opposing our right for self-determination
and our opposition to crimes against humanity in West Papua," Mote said.
He said they were also keen to see MSG leaders visiting West Papua after
they visit Indonesia -- an invitation extended to MSG Foreign Affairs
leaders by Jakarta and accepted this year during the MSG summit in Noumea
in June. However, he echoed fears of his kinsmen that once the MSG foreign
ministers arrive in Jakarta, Indonesia could stop them from entering
West Papua based on security risks.
"If the visit does happen, it will be an historic one because many years
ago people were not allowed to visit us particularly journalists, human
rights workers and advocates and our people definitely will not harm
their wantoks," Mote said." For journalists who get accreditation to
work in West Papua, they would have to apply for special permission
and when they do get there, they are assisted by Indonesian security
Mote said he visited Papua New Guinea in August and met with cabinet
members asking them about their position over West Papua's self determination.
"They told me they don't oppose our right but since being directly on
the border with Indonesia they have to look for a way where they can
maintain good relations with Indonesia. So I don't see them having a
formula on how to address our situation. "But I definitely have seen
a different attitude from them concerning our struggles." From PNG,
Mote went on to Port Vila where the indigenous West Papuans have the
greatest ally. Mote said it was former Vanuatu Prime Minister Father
Walter Lini who said if there remained a Melanesian country still colonised,
then Vanuatu is not free. The current Prime Minister Moana Carcasses
Kalosil has not changed that stance and Vanuatu is regarded the most
active government in the fight for West Papuan struggle. But Mote is
concerned about how the Indonesian Government has started to woo Melanesian
leaders individually, particularly Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Gordon
Darcy Lilo who
visited Indonesia in September.
Condemn Indonesian Violence Targeting West Papuan Demonstrators
Amnesty International and the West Papua Advocacy Team have strongly
condemned police violence in West Papua.
The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT)
strongly condemned ongoing Indonesian
security force violence targeting peaceful West Papuan demonstrators. That
police orchestrated violence, which has led to at least one civilian death
and many injuries, came on the eve of annual Papuan celebration of the Papuan
national flag, December 1. WPAT sources in West Papua described police conduct
as "especially arrogant and violent."
WPAT urged the U.S. Government to vigorously condemn the ongoing security
force campaign of violence and intimidation in West Papua and specifically
to urge the "Indonesian government to act to restrain its security forces
in dealing with peaceful December 1 demonstrations in accordance with international
guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly to which the Indonesian government
For its part,
Amnesty International expressed concern about ill treatment of those
placed in custody in connection with the police action, which it condemned.
"Amnesty International is concerned about allegations
that police ill-treated protesters involved in a pro-independence protest
in Papua as well as intimidated journalists who were covering it. On
26 November, police arrested at least 28 political activists including
three women who participated in a pro-independence protest in Waena,
Jayapura organized by the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional
Papua Barat, KNPB). According to a human rights lawyer who saw them
in detention at the Jayapura City police station, there were indications
that they had been beaten after they were arrested. Some of the detainees
had bruises or swelling on their mouth, eyes, forehead and body. At
least 12 people are still in police custody."
Jason MacLeod considers the impact of the
recent "Freedom Flotilla" in
a comprehensive essay for
Waging Nonviolence blog. Among his conclusions, MacLeod writes "The
conflict and violence in West Papua has to become an international problem
before the international community can be expected to take action. The West
Papua Freedom Flotilla has made a valuable contribution to that process,
particularly in Melanesia, a sub-region of the vast Pacific."
Draft Autonomy Law
Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta has
published an analysis of recent efforts to amend the special autonomy law
for West Papua.
Otsus Plus: The Debate over Enhanced Special Autonomy for Papua "explores
how a controversial proposal to amend a 2001 law on special autonomy, that
until mid-November seemed to be getting nowhere, was suddenly transformed
into a detailed, practical program for improving the lives of indigenous
Papuans." However IPAC writes that "The problem is that very few people
have seen the draft and there has been no public debate."
Twelve years after the enactment of the autonomy law, there has
never been any comprehensive evaluation of the afore-mentioned
autonomy law. Such an evaluation would involve all the components of
the Papuan people.
However, Yan Christian Warinussy of the LP3BH
(Institute for Study, Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights) in
the current discussion of revisions to the OTSUS "unconstitutional."
(Translations by Carmel Budiardjo/Tapol.)
The Special Autonomy law, "stipulates that there shall be an annual
evaluation of the law, starting in the third year following enactment of
the law in 2001. However, since the enactment of the law no evaluation
has taken place." The law also requires that "any proposals to amend
the law shall be undertaken on the initiative of the Papuan people which
shall be taken on the basis of past evaluations of the law. It is clear
that current moves to amend the law are being taken on the
initiative of the governors of the two provinces."
, Warinussy wrote: "the
Papuan people collectively and through the intermediary of
the Majelis Rakyat Papua Barat (West Papuan People's
Assembly) as well as the two Papuan Provincial Legislative
Assemblies (DPRP) have called on the Government of Indonesia
to agree to enter into dialogue with the Papuan people, that
is to say to hold a peaceful dialogue, facilitated by a
neutral third party."
He continues, "twelve years after the enactment
of the autonomy law, there has never been any comprehensive evaluation of
the afore-mentioned autonomy law. Such an evaluation would involve all the
components of the Papuan people as well as all the stakeholders, such the
governmental administration, the Indonesian army, the Indonesian police,
senior academics, civil society mass organisations and representatives of
the various religions throughout the Land of Papua."
Indonesia and the
School of the Americas
A solemn funeral procession marches to the gates of Fort Benning,
Georgia, in protest of military training at the School of the Americas.
Photo from SOA Watch.
An article by ETAN
Andrew de Sousa looked at the opposition to the "School of the Americas,"
officially the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC),
where military officers from Latin America are trained by the U.S. army.
Many of them have gone on to have notorious human rights records. An edited
version of his article was published in the Jakarta Post. At
this year's annual protest
at Fort Benning, thousands walked in a solemn funeral procession and commemorated
those who have been killed by SOA/WHINSEC graduates and U.S. militarization.
"The activists have good reason to protest," he writes. "The military institute
is notorious for training over 64,000 foreign soldiers in subjects such
as counterinsurgency, military intelligence, interrogations and psychological
warfare. Many of the military officials responsible for some of the worst
atrocities committed in Latin America were trained there, and some have
even served as guest instructors."
The U.S. has provided similar training to Indonesia. "The U.S. government
was a chief backer of the New Order regime, and supplied the Indonesian
military with the intelligence, equipment and training used for some of
the worst human rights atrocities of the last century," de Sousa writes.
Indonesian graduates of Fort Benning include "Gen. Prabowo Subianto,
who was behind some of the worst atrocities in Timor-Leste and kidnapped
democracy activists in 1998. His troops were implicated in atrocities in
West Papua and elsewhere during his command of the feared
Kopassus special forces.
Other Indonesians trained in the U.S. include
Gen. Sjafrie Syamsuddin
and Gen. Johny Lumintang,
both played prominent roles in orchestrating the violence around the 1999
referendum in Timor-Leste."
After the 1991
Santa Cruz Massacre in Timor,
ETAN and others citizens pushed the U.S. Congress to restrict military training
and other assistance to the Indonesian military. These restrictions have
since been lifted. Meanwhile, "Inside
Indonesia impunity continues to reign supreme: despite some modest gains
in reforming the military over the past decade, regular human rights violations
continue in West Papua and elsewhere, and the U.S.-created
acts like a death squad, killing suspected terrorists at
will. Past crimes continue to go unpunished, with those responsible enjoying
prominent positions: Prabowo has formed his own political party and is a
leading contender for president, Sjafrie Syamsuddin is a vice-minister,
and Lumintang is set to be the next ambassador to the Philippines. General
indicted in Timor
for his role as head of the military in 1999,
is also planning a presidential run."
De Sousa concludes that "Despite its rights rhetoric, the Obama administration,
like its predecessors, has put made engagement with Indonesia's security
forces a priority. This is what makes actions like the annual mobilization
against the SOA so important."
Regional Conference on Policing
in Southeast Asia Calls for Human Rights Based Policing
Activists and human rights lawyers from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Thailand and Timor-Leste
called for "effective accountability mechanisms to deal with police
abuse in their countries. The weaknesses of current mechanisms have contributed
to a culture of impunity allowing for human rights violations by law enforcement
officials to go unchecked."
These activist met at a regional conference organized by Amnesty International
and KontraS (The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence)
on policing and human rights in Southeast Asia held on 19-20 November in
A Call For Papuan Participation
in Planning Papua's Future
Tempo Magazine published
a timely appeal emphasizing the importance of engaging the Papuan people
in addressing the myriad problems in West Papua.
Neles Tebay, a lecturer at the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology
and coordinator of the Papua Peace Network, argues that the Indonesian government
should regard the Papuan people as "partners of the government" and that
they should be enabled to "participate fully in seeking democratic solution
to the ongoing conflict and toward national development." Tebay, in his
essay calls on the government to "begin consulting with Papuans, including
members of the OPM, when discussing and determining policies in the region."
Link to the is issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1312wpap.htm