Ed McWilliams (WPAT), +1-575-648-2078
John M. Miller (ETAN),
Saturday, July 6, is the 15th anniversary of one of the worst massacres in
Indonesia's post-Suharto history. On that day in 1998, members of the Indonesian
military ruthlessly gunned down peaceful pro-independence demonstrators on the
island Biak in West Papua. Like so many massacres in Indonesia, the exact number
of those killed is unknown.
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua
Advocacy Team (WPAT) today urge the U.S. government to publicly press the
Indonesian government to acknowledge the Biak massacre and take the necessary
steps to bring those responsible to justice. We regard it as unconscionable that
the U.S. is proceeding to expand its ties with an Indonesian military that
continues to violate human rights and remains unaccountable for massacres in
Biak, East Timor, Aceh and elsewhere.
On July 6, 1998, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators gathered on a prominent hill
in the town of Biak were deliberately attacked by members of the Indonesian
military and police. The Papuans in Biak were asserting their right to
self-determination after more than three decades of Indonesian military
occupation of West Papua. The slaughter began with a dawn raid on a peaceful
encampment by the town's water tower as many of the protesters slept or prayed.
After the shooting stopped, the dead, dying, and wounded were loaded onto trucks
and driven to the nearby naval base. Surviving Papuans were tortured and then
loaded aboard Indonesian naval vessels and dumped into the ocean. Women were
raped aboard the ships. Many of the victims had their hands bound or were
stabbed before being thrown into the sea. Bodies of the victims washed up on
Biak's shores during the following weeks.
At the time, the new, nominally democratic government of Indonesia
disingenuously denied the massacre had taken place, contending the bodies
washing ashore were victims of a tsunami that had struck Papua New Guinea more
than hundreds of miles to the east.
No government of Indonesia has acknowledged the massacre or held the
perpetrators accountable. The government continues to discourage investigation
of this and other human rights crimes in West Papua by limiting access to the
territory by foreign journalists, independent researchers, as well as UN and
other international officials.
We regard it as unconscionable that the U.S. is proceeding to
expand its ties with an Indonesian military that continues to violate human
rights and remains unaccountable for massacres in Biak, East Timor, Aceh and
ETAN and WPAT extend our sympathy to the families of this victims of the Biak
Massacre and to the West Papuan people in general who have suffered under
Indonesian military repression for decades.
ETAN, formed in 1991, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for
Timor-Leste, West Papua and Indonesia. ETAN on the web:
etan009. The West
Papua Advocacy Team is a U.S.-based NGO composed of academics, human rights
defenders and a retired U.S. diplomat.
Three WPAT members - U.S. embassy official Ed McWilliams, anthropologist Eben
Kirksey, and journalist Octo Mote - were in Biak in July 1998 and witnessed the
aftermath of the massacre. The two groups also oppose continued and expanded
military-to-military cooperation with the Indonesia, including with the
Indonesian Navy. McWilliams account of the Biak Massacre
is here. Mote's
recent video testimony is here.
Kirksey's account is
Both organizations co-publish the
monthly West Papua Report.
For additional background on the Biak Massacre see
is the website of The Citizens Tribunal for the 15th Anniversary of the Biak
Massacre to be held on Saturday, July 6 at the University of Sydney.
15th anniversary of Biak massacre marked
Radio New Zealand International
Posted at 02:01 on 05 July, 2013 UTC
This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of the Biak massacre in West Papua,
when scores of West Papuans were wounded, arrested or killed while calling
for independence from Indonesia.
On July 6, 1998, in Biak Islandís main town, Indonesian military units
launched a dawn attack on Papuans who had staged a peaceful demonstration
over several days.
Some were shot on the spot while many others were taken onto Indonesian
naval boats and thrown into the ocean before their mutilated bodies washed
up on Biakís shores over following days.
A political counsellor at the US Embassy in Jakarta at the time, Ed
McWilliams, visited Biak a few days later and found an entire town
ďAnd we donít know the number of people (who died) but we estimate
certainly in the hundreds. The effort was made to try to try to simply
determine how many were killed by counting the bodies that were floating
up from having been thrown into the sea, but the Indonesian military
authorities would not allow the people to collect the bodies as they
came in on the shore.Ē
To mark the anniversary, survivors and a team of international jurists are
holding a citizensí tribunal at the University of Sydney tomorrow.