Election of New President Raises Hopes in West Papua
The overwhelming mandate secured by President-elect former Lt.
General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Indonesiaís September 20 run-off
election has raised hopes for a more enlightened Jakarta approach to
West Papua, stressing peaceful conflict resolution strategies
instead of repressive military force directed at indigenous Papuans.
Papuan analysts and other observers note that Yudhoyono was a
proponent of dialogue with Papuan civil society during his tenure in
the cabinet of President Abdurrahman Wahid. The Wahid administration
fostered the convening of a Papuan assembly and held direct dialogue
with Papuan civil society leaders about their aspirations. During
the Megawati Administration, these
hopeful initiatives were replaced with policies that ignored Papuan
interests, including division of West Papua into three separate
provinces absent consultations with the people of the territory.
Under President Megawati, the military has had a much freer hand in
West Papua, engaging in severely repressive operations, notably in
West Papuaís Central Highlands.
While Yudhoyono was Coordinating Minister for Security and
Political Affairs under Megawati, analysts suspect that he was
regularly over-ruled by the hard-line military on policy regarding
Aceh and possibly Papua. It remains to be seen if as president,
Yudhoyono will have the power and inclination to return to the more
progressive policies vis-a-vis West Papua that were developed under
The Carter Center Observations on Elections in West Papua
The Carter Center observed the run-off presidential election on
September 20 with a 57 member team observing the voting in 21
provinces. Four members of the delegation were deployed in Manokwari
and Timika in West Papua. Reports from these observers make clear
that the administration of the election in West Papua was far weaker
than in the rest of Indonesia. From the September 22nd press release
of the The Carter Center:
"Carter Center observers in the
provinces of Papua and West Irian Jaya noted a lack of funding and
administrative failures that exceeded those observed elsewhere. In
addition, while the participation of ethnic Papuans increased
significantly from the 1999 elections, there continues to be a lack
of informed engagement in the democratic process."
Observers found stark differences between villages that were
mainly indigenous Papuan and those with mixed Papuan/non-Papuan
populations, in terms of both election officialsí and votersí degree
of knowledge about the process.
Report on Crimes Against Humanity in Wasior and Wamena Submitted
to Attorney General
The report recently completed by the National Commission on Human
Rights (Komnas HAM) has been submitted to the Attorney Generalís
office.[see The West Papua Report-August] The investigation and its
ensuing report, was carried out under Law No.26/2000. The law
governs only two types of crimes ñ crimes against humanity and
genocide, and governs the establishment of Human Rights Courts to
try those accused of such crimes. A separate office with full time
staff focused on human rights violations has been created within the
Attorney Generalís office.
No time limit is specified in Law No. 26 by which the AG must
take action. Indonesiaís new president is likely to appoint a new
Attorney General, whom it is hoped will take the necessary follow up
action to issue indictments against those named responsible for the
Plans to open a branch office of Komnas HAM in Jayapura have been
completed and are awaiting approval by the full Commission.
Government of Vanuatu Calls for Strong UN Action To Address West
Papuans' Struggle for Self-Determination
At the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September
28, Vanuatu's foreign affairs minister Barak Sope made an
impassioned speech calling on the UN to establish a Special
Commission of Inquiry to review the UN's conduct in relation to the
now-discredited 1969 UN-supervised Act of Free Choice through which
West Papua formally integrated into the Republic of Indonesia. He
also called on the UN to send a fact-finding mission to examine the
situation in West Papua and to re-instate West Papua on the UN's
List of Non-Self-Governing Territories.
According to Vanuatu-based press and the West Papuan People's
Representative Office in Port Vila, Vanuatu, Sope told the General
Assembly that, "The United Nations must be consistent in its
decisions for the recognition and respect of the fundamental rights
to self determination for the people of West Papua. The truth
surrounding the so-called Act of Free Choice must be exposed to the
Melanesian sisters and brothers of West Papua, and the rest of the
international community. The saddest of all is the UN General
Assembly resolution on West Papua in 1969. How can the UN continue
to ignore the cries of over 3 million people for justice?
"As world leaders, we have time and time again, expressed serious
concerns and dissatisfaction that certain decisions and actions by
the United Nations or its organs were not consistent with the
purposes and intentions of the Charter. However, with the case of
West Papua, absolutely nothing has been done to rectify the gross
violation of internationally accepted practice. It is therefore our
joint responsibility to address this grey area in history."
Refering to the UN's role in brokering transfer of sovereignty
over West Papua from the Dutch colonial administration to Indonesia
and in supervising the Indonesian military government's 1969 "Act of
Free Choice" in West Papua, Sope stated that, "In our opinion, the
UN-conducted exercises were a total farce conditioned only to suit
the geo-political climate of that period. The United Nations cannot
and must not continue to turn a blind eye on its own past failures.
It is morally, politically and legally wrong to do so." He added
that "The Netherlands, which was the former colonial authority, in
particular, should also recognize that they should shoulder some
responsibility in helping to resolve the unfortunate situation of
West Papua in a peaceful and transparent manner. Why is no one
accountable for those unjust decisions affecting the lives of
The government of Vanuatu also is lobbying to put the issue of
West Papua on the Pacific Forum's agenda.
U.S. Administration Portrayal of Indonesian Navy as Respecter of
Human Rights Disproved
by Navy Role in West Papua
In pushing for resumption to the Indonesian military of the
International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, the
Bush Administration is attempting to depict the Indonesian Navy as
not culpable of human rights abuses. The move to extend U.S.
military assistance would end years of congressionally imposed
barriers to such cooperation.
The depiction of the Navy as not culpable for the many crimes
committed by the Indonesian military for decades, or for the endemic
corruption of that institution, is incorrect. It is contradicted,
for example, by the Indonesian Navy's principal role in the bloody
suppression of a peaceful pro-independence rally staged over several
days on the West Papuan island of Biak in July 1998.
Eyewitness accounts by an American citizen and subsequent U.S.
Embassy reporting revealed that the Indonesian Navy played the lead
role in a brutal armed assault on the demonstrators. The Navy,
operating from its base in Biak, dumped at sea the bodies of those
killed at the demonstration site, and of detainees killed
subsequently in Navy custody. The crime was revealed days later as
bodies of those killed began to wash up on the shores of Biak.
Indonesian Government claims that the dead bodies were victims of a
tsunami that struck 375 miles to the east were discredited by the
fact that some of the bodies had their hands tied and others bore
bullet wounds. Embassy and other accounts point to scores killed. No
Indonesian military personnel have been prosecuted for this
Declaring Itself "Exonerated" in Timika Killings by U.S.G.
Report, the Indonesian Military Pressures Its Domestic Critics and
Launches Troop Buildup
The Indonesian military (TNI) has publicly claimed that the June
U.S. Department of Justice report on the killing of Americans in
Timika in August 2002 has "exonerated" it of broad accusations of
involvement in the murders.
The exoneration claim, which the U.S. Government has not
challenged publicly, appears to have emboldened the TNI which has
launched legal and reportedly extra-legal pressures on its domestic
critics. The TNI has sued human rights defenders for libel and
appears to be behind acts of intimidation against those who have
investigated the TNI's role in the attacks and who have assisted the
FBI in its investigation of the incident. Contacts in Timika have
reported break-ins and other acts of intimidation.
Meanwhile, sources in the Timika area including recent observers
report an ongoing TNI build up in the area that local residents fear
is in preparation for violent military operations. In addition to a
police search for the Papuan named in the U.S. indictment for the
August 2002 murders, military personnel have been collecting
intelligence apparently in preparation for operations targeting
local independence fighters, particularly a local leader named Kelly
Kwalik. In the 1996-98 period, Indonesian military operations
targeting this faction led to widespread human rights abuse by the
military including the dislocation of thousands of civilians and the
deaths of scores and possibly hundreds of civilians.
Indonesian Parliament Passes Legislation Undermining Police
Authority and Civilian Government's Control Over Military
In its final day, the Indonesian parliament passed a bill that
significantly reinforces the power of the Indonesian military (TNI)
and poses threats to Indonesian democracy. Many voices within
Indonesian civil society, including democratic reformers, human
rights organizations, the media, students, and academics, lobbied
against the bill and until the final hours of the legislative
session, it appeared that legislators would let the proposal die.
Most importantly, the legislation retains the TNI's "territorial
structure," the bureaucratic mechanism that amounts to a shadow
government with military offices at every level of government
stretching from the national to village level. For decades, that
system has given the military virtual veto power over civilian
government initiatives and appointments and has ensured the
military's vast and often corrupt system of "businesses." By
ensuring the TNI's continuing presence throughout the archipelago --
and by allowing the TNI to engage in business activities for another
five years -- the legislation, in effect, gives a green light for
the military to continue its illegal profit-generating activities,
which include drug running in Aceh, prostitution rings in West
Papua, and extortion targeted against domestic and foreign
businesses such as New Orleans-based Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold.
The legislation also deals a direct blow to efforts to
subordinate the military to civilian rule by making the commander in
chief of the armed forces answerable only to the president. Under
the new law, the TNI commander outranks the minister of defense. The
prospect of increased TNI interference in civilian government is
enhanced by a reversal of a reform dating to 1999 that barred active
duty military officers from holding civilian government positions.
The new legislation permits active duty military officers to hold
key government positions, including within the Defense Ministry, the
Narcotics Control Agency and on the Supreme Court. These positions
would, for example, potentially give TNI senior personnel crucial
authority in effectively blocking investigation or prosecution of
TNI involvement in drug trafficking. It is unclear whether other
ministries such as Mining and Energy are included.
The new legislation also meets a TNI demand that it be given
authority to engage in military operations other than actual war, to
include fighting armed independence movements and terrorists.
Heretofore, the national police had won recognition for their
effective investigation and apprehension of terrorists such as those
responsible for the 2002 Bali bombing. The TNI was known to have
chafed at having lost this responsibility to the police and, along
with it, the opportunity to receive significant foreign anti-terror
assistance from the United States Government.
The legislation completes the long-expected removal of the 38
un-elected TNI members of parliament. However, this is not seen as
weakening the TNI as TNI political power has long-rested in the
executive branch. Moreover, TNI influence over legislators remains
extensive, as demonstrated by securing passage of the TNI bill