Three West Papua Human Rights Organizations Condemn Statement by
U.S. Attorney General Over The Killing Of Two Americans at Freeport
Urge The U.S. Congress To Push For A Full And Impartial
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Dr. Benny Giay (Elsham Jayapura) ˆ Phn.
Tom Beanal (Lemasa in Timika) ˆ Phn. +62-(0)811-494434;
Mama Yosepha Alomang (YAHAMAK in Timika) ˆ Phn. +62
John Rumbiak (International Affairs Elsham now in Australia) ˆ Phn. +61-(0)410361440.
THREE WEST PAPUA HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS CONDEMN THE STATEMENT
BY THE US ATTORNEY GENERAL OVER THE KILLING OF TWO AMERICANS AT
FREEPORT MINE AND URGE THE US CONGRESS TO PUSH FOR A FULL AND
Timika and Jayapura, West Papua, 4 August, 2004
ELSHAM, LEMASA and YAHAMAK, human rights groups in West Papua
which extensively assisted the FBI in its investigation of the
killing of two Americans at the Freeport mine in August 2002, today
expressed their grave concern over the actions of the US Attorney
General, John Ashcroft, and called for the US Congress to facilitate
a full, impartial investigation.
Attorney General Ashcroft is apparently suppressing evidence in
the Justice Department's possession, evidence that would be of great
interest to the US Congress and the Freeport victims' families.
Ashcroft suggested that Anthon Wamang was acting as a member of
the Free Papua Movement (OPM) when his group carried out the attack
at Freeport; said that he now faced the death penalty, and referred
to separatists" who would be hunted down in the forests. By so doing
he gives a green light to the Indonesian military (TNI) to go after
Papuan dissidents (since the TNI classifies all opponents of their
presence in Papua as "separatists"), in spite of the fact that
suppressed evidence suggests that the military was behind the
ambush. And indeed since the Ashcroft statement our three
organizations in Papua have been subjected to a new round of threats
and intimidation by the military.
Although it is still not clear exactly who was the overall
mastermind of this attack, an impartial reading of the facts points
as much to the military as to the OPM. Attorney General Ashcroft
failed to inform the public and the Congress of three crucial pieces
of evidence, all three of which were almost certainly in the
possession of the US Justice Department:
1. Though identified simply as an OPM field commander, Anthon in
fact lived in the city of Timika where he was a business partner of
Kopassus, the Indonesian army special forces. Anthon told our three
organizations together with FBI agents that he was in the eaglewood
and gold business with Indonesian military personnel. Though Anthon
had in fact been in the field at various times with the OPM over the
past 22 years, at the time of the attack he was living and working
alongside Kopassus, not the OPM.
According to its own field manuals and also public statements of
its commanders, Kopassus specializes in infiltration and provocation
operations. They have done so for years in West Papua, as in East
Timor, Aceh and Maluku. Monitors ranging from KomnasHAM (the
official Indonesian national human rights commission) to the US
State Department to groups like Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch have extensively documented the fact that the
Indonesian military routinely uses civilians to stage attacks,
especially co-opted or coerced members of local rebel or opposition
groups. In West Papua such activities have included aiding and
guiding dissident rebel factions in kidnapping operations and theft
of military weapons.
2. Anthon got his ammunition from the military, not the OPM.
Anthon told our organizations and the FBI that he got his ammunition
from TNI personnel. He said that the officers he dealt with knew
exactly who he was and knew that he was about to carry out an attack
in the Freeport concession.
Our organizations know that this evidence was in the hands of the
FBI since we gave it to them and later had extensive discussions
about it with them. The agents acknowledged the validity of these
facts and sent ELSHAM an email in March that suggested they were
aware of the TNI‚s use of local people for provocation operations.
3. The investigation by the Police Regional West Papua led by a
very well respected ex- Police Chief of West Papua Gen. Made Pastika
concluded that the TNI was behind the ambush. The police believe
that Mr. X (the man who was found dead on 1 September near the
ambushed site) was shot the day before and then taken to the
ambushed site to "invite" attention from the Police investigators.
In fact when the Police conducted the investigation they were fired
at few times by the TNI members that based 2 kilo meters away from
the ambushed site.
Why did Attorney General Ashcroft not mention these crucial facts
in his statement? And why did he point the finger away from the
military and exclusively towards the OPM instead?
Attorney General Ashcroft's actions are especially troubling in
the light of three pieces of background information which suggest
that the military had a motive for an attack and that the OPM did
not. First, for years the Freeport company had been making large
cash payments to the military--for instance from 2000 to 2002
Freeport paid US$ 10.7 million to TNI. Yet in July 2002 -- one month
before the Freeport attack, and in response to the new US Corporate
Fraud Act--Freeport drastically cut back these payments, to the
military's great displeasure. Some officers then made statements
suggesting that without the military's full protection, the Freeport
company might be exposed to unwanted, violent attack.
Second, by staging various provocative actions throughout West
Papua the TNI has been trying to have the whole West Papuan movement
for justice and self-determination, and especially the OPM,
designated as a terrorist threat. These efforts, including transfer
of Laskar Jihad militants to West Papua and recruiting local Papuans
into East Timor-style ŒRed and White‚ militias, as well as pushing
for the division of West Papua into several new provinces, have
created conflicts and bloodshed amongst the Papuans. This intention
by TNI to label the West Papuans as terrorists has been very much
motivated by the so-called "war on terror" and the desire of TNI to
rebuild military ties with the US government after the IMET program
was suspended following the Dilli massacre of 1991. However all
these efforts have failed so far as the West Papuans have continued
to struggle vigorously for the declaration of West Papua as a zone
of peace and for a dialogue with Indonesia to resolve the West
Papuan issue peacefully.
Third, two months before the Freeport attack Kelly Kwalik, the
OPM commander in the southern region, did urge his followers to
stage demonstrations at the Freeport site, but he specified in
writing that these protests must be nonviolent. The FBI has a copy
of Kwalik‚s letter, and Anthon Wamang confirmed to us that Kelly
Kwalik told him that no violence should be employed against persons
around the Freeport site. Indeed, two weeks before the attack a
delegation from our organizations met with Kelly Kwalik, and
convinced him to withdraw his plan altogether, arguing that such an
action could easily be manipulated by TNI for its own interests.
Shortly after Attorney General Ashcroft‚s announcement the TNI
leadership publicly stated that US officials had told them that the
military had now been cleared of involvement in the Freeport
killings, and that the door was therefore open for a resumption of
full US military aid to Indonesia. It is on public record that the
Bush administration has been pushing for such aid resumption and has
only been prevented from doing so by bipartisan opposition in the
It would be regrettable if a decision on this matter and on
further adjudication of the Freeport case ends up being premised on
faulty information from Attorney General Ashcroft.
We call on the US Justice Department and the FBI to now correct
the omissions in Attorney General Ashcroft's public statement by
releasing a public accounting of Anthon Wamang‚s business
partnership with the Indonesian military and the evidence they have
on where he got his ammunition.
We call on the US Congress, which has already deliberated on this
case, to facilitate a full, impartial investigation by calling the
Justice Department to account. The Congress should also call for
Anthon Wamang and other key figures in the case to be brought safely
to the United States.
We urge the US government to think before it acts on the matter
of resuming full ties with an Indonesian military that has been
systematically killing Papuan and other civilians with impunity for
many years, and that must still, in all fairness, be considered a
leading suspect behind the Freeport case.
We also urge the US government to make representations
immediately in Papua and Jakarta to ensure the protection of members
of ELSHAM, LEMASA and YAHAMAK against military intimidation, since
these organizations have cooperated wholeheartedly with the FBI in
its Freeport inquiry. (END)
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