West Papua Report
This is the 120th 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 analysis 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
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
This edition of the West Papua Report marks ten
years of monthly publication. It leads with a
PERSPECTIVE that takes a detailed look at the career of Edward E.
Masters, former U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia and founder of the U.S.
Indonesia Society. UPDATE completes
the analysis of the most recent U.S.
Department of State's annual human rights report. Also, development
threatens vital mangrove forests in West Papua. A
conference in West Papua underscored the need for
unity among Papuans. Hunted activist Buchtar Tabuni
has appealed for international protection. The U.S. plans to ship the
Indonesian military additional F-16s jet fights later
this year. We also note reports of the continuing failure of the
Indonesian government to provide minimal health care
for Papuans. In CHRONICLE, we
highlight a report detailing the human costs of
the agribusiness MIFEE project. Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses
Kalosil brought his call for respect for Papuan
rights to the UN Human Rights Council. Budi Hernawan
analyzes the prospects for the resolution
called for in the speech. Members of the European
Parliament are urging the EU to support human rights and peace in
West Papua. The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
(ETAN) has published a backgrounder
examining the problematical records of some of the possible candidates
for Indonesia's president or vice president.
Edward E. Masters,
Former U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia
by Ed McWilliams and John M. Miller*
|Edward E. Masters.
Photo by USINDO.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Edward
E. Masters died on March 21. The senior diplomat will be
remembered as the U.S. official who did more than any other
to shape the U.S. relationship with Indonesia. His ties to
the country extend back to 1964 when he was named Political
Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. He served as U.S.
Ambassador in Jakarta from 1977 to 1981. While his official
relationship with Indonesia ended in 1981, Masters was a key
player in shaping U.S. policy towards Indonesia thereafter,
notably since1994 when he founded the U.S.-Indonesia Society
(USINDO), a powerful lobbying organization which functioned
as flack for the Suharto dictatorship and promoter of the
U.S. corporate interests which lavishly funded the
Masters was present at the creation of the three decade U.S.
the Suharto dictatorship which entailed the U.S.
providing critical military, financial and diplomatic
support for the regime's repression of its own people, as
well as the 1975 invasion and occupation of neighboring East
Timor (now Timor-Leste). For the U.S., the unspoken terms of
that partnership obliged Washington to ignore Suharto's
extraordinary brutality. Suharto's seizure and consolidation
of power cost the lives of
thousands of Indonesians. The U.S. Embassy culpability
in the slaughter was direct. The U.S.
provided lists of
Suharto opponents, liberals and purported "communists" to
the Suharto regime, a fact that Masters, a senior Embassy
official at the time,
at one point
acknowledged but subsequently denied.
John Saltford in
"UN Involvement with the Act of Self Determination in West Irian 1968 to
1969" writes that Masters, then working at the U.S. State
Department. told a British diplomat in June 1969, "that Washington saw
little merit in getting involved in the 'niceties of ascertainment,' [of
West Papuan wishes concerning their political status] which might lose
them good will in Jakarta to no advantage."
Masters culpability in the horror that overtook East Timor following
the Indonesian invasion and occupation was substantial. The invasion was
launched on the heels of a visit to Jakarta by then President Gerald
Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger, who
operation which was in final stages of preparation during their
visit. Masters became ambassador shortly thereafter in 1977 and played a
key role in Indonesia's bloody consolidation of its occupation. As
Ambassador, Masters was a central player in drawing up the U.S.
diplomatic strategy which defended the Suharto regime from U.S. public
and international opprobrium after the invasion. The U.S. position was
made especially awkward insofar as it contradicted the position of
Portugal, the former colonial power in East Timor, and a U.S. NATO ally.
Masters was key to U.S. administration efforts to
deflect U.S. Congressional and media criticism of the Suharto regime
over the invasion and famine which stalked the people of East Timor as a
direct consequence of Indonesian occupation. He disputed
well-established estimates of up to 200,000 Timorese deaths during the
contending that the death toll was "only" about 30,000.
In early September 1978, Masters traveled to East Timor with nine
other foreign ambassadors to view the Indonesia's "approach to the East
Timor problem." Following the visit,
Masters claimed that the Indonesia had reduced its military
presence, refugees were taken care of, and movement was unrestricted. He
added that Suharto and Indonesia were committed to the economic
development of the “province.”
The corporate-endowed USINDO lavished funds on travel to
Indonesia by Congressional staff who were feted and provided
carefully choreographed visits intended to cast the dictatorship
in a positive light.
U.S. support for Suharto's illegal occupation of East
Timor was tangible. The U.S. provided the Indonesian military with the
weaponry needed to consolidate control. U.S. provided
counter-insurgency aircraft devastated the civilian population driving
them from their mountain hideouts into Indonesian camps. Broncos were
also used in West Papua where Indonesia's U.S.-backed annexation in 1969
was facing strong resistance from poorly armed but determined Papuan
freedom fighters. The death toll there among civilians was unknown but
Masters uncritical support for the Suharto regime in some ways was to
play an even more important role in the 1990's. In December 1991,
Suharto's military assaulted a peaceful march by Timorese students at
the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, the capital of occupied East
Timor. Hundreds were killed or wounded. Western journalists on the
scene, though beaten by Indonesian soldiers, were able to report the "Santa
Cruz massacre" to a horrified community.
In response, the U.S. Congress, groups like ETAN, and the public
demanded a cessation of military support for Suharto's military.
Some training was quickly
restricted. In 1994, Masters formed USINDO which worked closely with
major U.S. corporations and key players within the U.S. Government to
try to rebuild the U.S. partnership with Suharto. The
corporate-endowed USINDO lavished
funds on travel to Indonesia by Congressional staff who were feted and
provided carefully choreographed visits intended to cast the
dictatorship in a positive light. The group also worked assiduously to
court the U.S. media. In the 1990s, USINDO success was limited. Under
congressional and other pressure, the U.S. continued to restrict
security assistance and the East Asia financial crisis fatally
undermined Suharto's rule.
In 1999, following the popular overthrow of the Suharto regime, the East
Timorese voted for independence in a UN organized referendum. The
Indonesia's scorched earth campaign after the vote resulted in a
complete suspension of U.S.
support for the Indonesian military. The assistance has only gradually
been restored, thanks in large measure to persistent lobbying by USINDO.
Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. partnered with many dictators, who
postured as allies in a struggle purportedly in pursuit of democratic
freedoms. This hypocrisy was never more apparent than in Indonesia. The
U.S. backing of Suharto became especially difficult to defend in the
post-cold war period when the realpolitik cold war exigencies no
But for Ambassador Masters, who publicly rejected "confrontation" with
Suharto and his military over human rights concerns and democratic
progress, the defense of U.S. corporate interests in Indonesia was
always paramount. His legacy is a painful and shameful one which
continues to burden U.S. relations with a now democratizing Indonesia.
McWilliams is a former foreign service officer and editor of the
West Papua Report and John M. Miller is
National Coordinator of the East Timor
and Indonesia Action Network
What the State
Department Human Rights Report Missed in West
In March, the West Papua
Report reviewed the
U.S. Department of State's report on human rights developments in
Indonesia, specifically it coverage of West Papua. The following
assessment addresses some developments that were missed in the State
Department Report (SDR).
The Indonesian government postponed a
scheduled January 2103 visit
to Indonesia by UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Frank
LaRue because of his request to visit West Papua, where freedom of
expression concerns are particularly acute.
The Indonesian government had invited La Rue to visit during the UN Human Rights Council's
periodic review of human rights in Indonesia in May 2012.
The SDR should have noted that LaRue's visit has now been delayed for
more than a year.
The State Dept. continues largely to ignore the Indonesian
government's long term failure to provide essential health,
education and other vital services to the Papuan population.
While the latest SDR does address the general impact
of mining and logging on indigenous communities and the government
failure "to prevent companies, often in collusion with the local
military and police, from encroaching on indigenous peoples’ land," the
SDR fails to detail the consequences of these activities for the health
and economic survival of the Papuan people.
In its discussion of labor rights, the SDR fails to discuss the
chronic tensions between workers and the management of Freeport McMoran.
Worker safety and remuneration have been at the center of the
ongoing disputes. Similarly,
there is no specific discussion of strife arising from the
implementation of the Merauke
Integrated Food and Energy Estate (see below).
Tensions between local residents and MIFEE development have included
corporate intimidation targeting local peoples.
The SDR ignores child trafficking of Papuan children
as documented by Fairfax newspaper's Michael Bachelard (see West Papua
Reports for March 2014 and
July 2013). The reality that
those involved in this trafficking have close personal and official ties
to the Indonesian central government renders this omission in the SDR
Finally, as noted in the West Papua Report's analysis of the
2012 State Department Report,
the latest SDR continues largely to ignore the Indonesian government's
long term failure to provide essential health, education and other vital
services to the Papuan population. As a consequence of this policy of
malign neglect, and government encouragement of migration to West Papua
with official and unofficial inducements for migrants, West Papuans have
become a marginalized, persecuted minority in their own lands.
For decades, the Indonesian government has engaged in policies and
actions which, taken as a whole, constitute ethnic cleansing targeting
the Papuan people. Those policies and actions include:
- neglect and marginalization of Papuans, and
support for and inducements to an expanding migrant population;
- manifest failure to protect fundamental human
rights such as the freedom of assembly and right of peaceful
- continued impunity accorded security force
personnel who routinely abuse Papuans' human rights;
- government collusion in corporate destruction of
Papua's natural resources and tolerance and even encouragement of
local government corruption.
Despite the SDR's criticism of human rights conditions
in West Papua, the report continues to evade this central reality of
ongoing genocide in West Papua.
ETAN and WPAT:
on the U.S. Department of State's Annual Country Report on
Human Rights for 2012 Concerning Indonesia/West Papua
Development Threatens Papuan
A U.S. Agency For International
Development (USAID) specialist has warned about the threat
to Papuan mangrove forests posed by "development." He
claimed that so-called development in the lowland areas
around Timika was fueling deforestation and specifically
threatening mangrove forests. He said that the process of
deforestation increased the impact of climate change.
Speaking in Timika March 17, USAID Indonesia Forest of
Climate Support (IFACS), Prianto Wibowo, said "We see a
serious threat to the lowland areas because many protected
areas are already being converted into development areas."
He noted for example that the opening of mangrove forest
areas to development would have an negative impact on
Deputy Chief of Party of USAID IFACS, Neville Kemp, noted
that the mangrove forest in the areas of Mimika and Asmat is
the second largest such forest in the world after
Bangladesh's Sundarbans. He explained that the Mimika and
Asmat areas must be protected from "investors."
WPAT Comment: Mangrove forests play a critical
buffer role in stabilizing the shoreline and protecting shore
populations from storms and storm surges. This is particularly important
at a time of rising sea levels and coastal erosion. In addition to
serving as highly-effective carbon stores. Mangrove helps sustain local
people by providing a breeding ground and nursery for important ocean
fauna including shrimp, crab and fish. Mangrove forests also furnish
lumber, firewood and fiber. They can also sustain native bee populations
affording local people honey. Among the threats posed to mangroves in
the Timika region is the flow of tailing sludge and other toxic sediment
from the Freeport mine, which in addition to killing the sago palm that
is essential to local Papuan populations, is also killing mangroves. The
tailings are spread along the Mangrove forest covered shores of the
Arafura sea by tidal action.
Papuans Should Unite
The daily Jubi
reported on a March 22 public discussion organized by the Papua
Student Association of the Central Mountains (AMPTPI) in Mimika, West
Papua on "Fighting for Just and Peaceful Democracy that Stands for
Jubi quoted prominent human rights defender and winner of the
Goldman Prize Mama Yosepha Alomang as urging unity among Papuans. She
told the gathering that many pro-independence Papuans tended to work by
themselves and deceive one another. She cited recent strife in Timika
noting: "The conflict in Timika is actually only for the benefit of
others such as the Indonesian government, regents, Freeport, the
military and police. As a result, the community is the victim, brothers
kill brothers." The outspoken Papuan leader urged "every one to get
together for Papua Independence."
At the same discussion, Esther Haluk accused the
"Papuan elite within the bureaucracy" of being "allergic to protesters
and criticism." She accused them of "collaborat[ing] with the security
forces in dealing with various forms of terror, threats and
Papuan police often refuse to issue permits for peaceful protests
against government policies. A Memorandum of Understanding between the
campus and Papua police allows detention and arrest of students.
Indonesian central government policies continue to limit democratic
space, she said. "It means freedom of association and expression become
taboo, if those freedoms are exercised by an organization that is not
registered in Political and National Unity office," she said.
She highlighted the Anti-Terrorism Act No. 15 of 2003
which "empowers the military to act against those whom intelligence
agencies label as 'separatists.'" The Act allows the military the right
to operate against civilians.
Tabuni Asks Protection from International Community
Buchtar Tabuni has asked for protection
from the international community. Security forces are
searching for Tabuni because he has organized demonstrations
calling for a referendum to determine West Papua's political
disrupted a peaceful pro-referendum protest on November
26, 2013, organized by the West Papua National Committee
(Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB). Following the protest,
the Police Chief of Jayapura City summoned Tabuni for
questioning. One week later police placed Tabuni on a wanted
list for ignoring the summons.
Victor Yeimo, a KNPB leader currently in prison,
told the Papuan daily Jubi that Tabuni has been
hiding in the jungle for five months. Yeimo described Tabuni
as on the run and facing difficulties in getting food and
U.S. Augments TNI Capacity with
Indonesia Air Force Chief of Staff Air Marshal Ida Bagus
told ANTARA (March 19) that the first group of F-16
fighting jets, a grant from the United States, is expected
to arrive in Indonesia in October. He added that the F-16
jets will arrive in Indonesia in stages. "In the initial
phase, eight planes will be delivered," he said. Indonesia
currently has only one squadron F-16s.
WPAT COMMENT: Like the U.S. approval of provision of
helicopters to the Indonesian military, the increase of
F-16's in the TNI arsenal will augment its capacity to
conduct operations in West Papua. The F-16's sophisticated
avionics give this aircraft the capacity to operate in
all-weather and night-time air to ground assault operations.
This capacity renders the F-16 a powerful weapons system in
the tropical mountains of West Papua.
Continued Inadequate Government
Health Care in West Papua
Report Details Human Costs of
Agribusiness in Merauke
survey revealed that health workers in Walma District in Yahukimo
have been largely absent from their posts, preferring to live in the
towns of Wamena and Jayapura rather than tend patients in their areas of
assignment. The Indonesian central government tolerates such behavior.
Media coverage notes deficits in maternal and child health care in West
A report by
IRIN details the tension and conflict generated by corporate
agribusiness interests in the Merauke area of West Papua. According to
the report, inter-tribal strife has been stoked by disagreements over
the sale of land to agribusinesses and police brutality. The report
states that during the past four years more than 160 people have been
killed in the area of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate
(MIFEE) due to infighting between communities.
Sophie Grig of Survival International told IRIN that the displacement
caused by the plantation projects "creates serious problems for
The military is brought in to
"protect the project [which] leads to human rights violations," she
added. "These incursions in West Papua generally also involve the
presence of the military to protect the project [which] leads to human
According to Leonardus Maklew, a Baad resident who has been representing
nine Malind villages in negotiations concerning an Indonesian sugar cane
plantation, at least 74 people have died in his village alone.
Vanuatu PM Calls
for UN to Support Human Rights in West Papua
In early March, Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana
Carcasses Kalosil condemned international neglect of West Papua and
called on the international community "to protect their human rights and
put right all wrong of the past?"
Moana Kalosil Carcasses, Prime Minister of the
Republic of Vanuatu. UN Photo.
before the UN's Human Rights Council, he urged the body to "consider
adopting a resolution to establish a country mandate on the situation of
human rights in West Papua. The mandate should include investigation of
the alleged human rights violation in West Papua and provide
recommendations on a peaceful political solution in West Papua."
Late last year, Kalosil raised
the plight of the people of West Papua at the Commonwealth Heads of
Government meeting in Sri Lanka. In September,
he spoke about West Papua
before the UN General Assembly.
The full text of the speech is
here. Video of the speech can be found
Is a UN Resolution on
Budi Hernawan reflected on Kalosil's speech and its call for a UN
resolution in an op-ed in the March 21 Jakarta Post. Hernawan
puts the speech in the context of Vanuatu politics, the
sham Melanesian Spearhead Group visit
to West Papua, and UN politics. He observes in part:
"Surely, Vanuatu can argue that it is acting on
the principle of responsibility to protect (R2P) principle, which
was recently endorsed by the UN. Grounded in Article 24 of the UN
Charter, the principle redefines the essence of state sovereignty as
a responsibility, rather than simply immunity from public scrutiny.
"The state holds the primary responsibility for the protection of
its people. Where a population is suffering serious harm, such as a
genocide, crimes against humanity, an internal war, insurgency or
state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to
fulfill its responsibility, the principle yields to the
international responsibility to protect.
"As Kalosil emphasizes, Papua has long suffered not only from crimes
against humanity committed by Indonesian state actors but also from
the negligence of the international community to act. It is
arguable, therefore, that the R2P is applicable for Papua."
Hernawan is not optimistic of significant
international action in the near term, calling the speech "just the
European Parliament Write on
In late March,
members of the European Parliament wrote to Catherine Ashton, the
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and
Security Policy on human rights in West Papua. They were following up on
a hearing held in January and a vote
on a cooperation agreement with Indonesia in February. The letter urges
Ashton to call for release of West Papuan political prisoners, opening
the region to "independent observers," and dialogue between Jakarta and
West Papuans. The letter also supports "reforms in Indonesia that will
ensure that the security forces personnel responsible for human rights
violations can be held accountable in independent courts." Finally, it
urges Ashton to "ensure that arms delivered by the EU member states to
Indonesia are not used against civilians."
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) has published
the backgrounds of some of the possible candidates for Indonesia's
president or vice president with problem human rights records, including
retired Generals Prabowo and Wiranto. Read
Democracy: Candidates bring proven records of violating human rights
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