West Papua Report
This is the 96th 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 with the East Timor
and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are
posted online at
regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams
at email@example.com. If you
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court has sentenced five senior Papuans to three
years imprisonment following their conviction on
"treason" charges. They fell victim to the same
undemocratic law employed against more than 90
Papuans and Malukans for their peaceful dissent in
recent years. The five were charged for their
central role in the October 16-19, 2011 "Third
Papuan National Congress," a peaceful assertion of
Papuans' right to self-determination that came under
brutal assault by Indonesian security forces. In a
statement, WPAT calls for an end to that law which
was developed during Dutch colonial times, was
employed by the dictator Suharto, and now has no
place in a democratic Indonesia. Thousands of
Papuans took to the streets in West Papua and
elsewhere on the occasion of the visit to Indonesia
of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The largely
peaceful demonstrations called for a special
referendum to at last allow Papuans a genuine act of
self-determination. More than 90 international
organizations have called on the U.S. Congress to
block sale of Apache helicopters. They would
significantly expand the capacity of Indonesian
security forces to conduct "sweep operations" that
have devastated rural Papuan villagers. A recent
book and a commentary by a Papuan legislator have
underscored the Indonesian governments persistent
failure to bring essential services to rural
Papuans. WPAT observes that for many rural Papuans
the face of the Indonesian government is not that of
a teacher, doctor or nurse but rather, that of a
solider, policeman or intelligence agent.
Sentenced to Three Years
Imprisonment; Security Force Thugs Evade Justice
While the Indonesian Government has prosecuted
the leaders of this peaceful gathering, the
government has failed to bring to justice those
security forces who attacked the Congress
On March 16, an Indonesian court convicted
five prominent Papuans of "treason" and handed down
sentences of three years imprisonment for each of them. The
charges, based on the infamous Article 106 of the Indonesian
Criminal Code (see WPAT Comment
below), derived from the Papuans involvement in the
October 16-19, 2011 "Third Papuan National Congress" (See
West Papua Report, November
2011). The victims of this travesty of justice were
Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, Selfius Bobii, Agus
Kraar, and Dominikus Sorabut.
The October 2011 congress drew 5000 Papuans representing all
districts in West Papua. At the conclusion of this peaceful
three day meeting, participants declared independence for
West Papua and elected Forkorus Yaboisembut, who heads the
Papuan Tribal Assembly, as their President. The congress
elected Edison Waromi as Prime Minister.
The real crimes during the three day gathering were
committed by the security forces, including the U.S.
organized and funded Detachment 88, which along with other
state security elements, that attacked the gathering shortly
after it concluded. As participants were preparing to leave
the open air venue, the police opened fire from their
armored personnel carriers. At least three people were
killed in cold blood. Participants were rounded up, beaten,
kicked, and forced to crawl into the middle of the field.
Some 90 sustained injuries and 300 people were arbitrarily
arrives at Jayapura court in early February.
Despite demands from Papuan, Indonesian
and international organizations that the security personnel
who were perpetrators of this violence be brought to trial
the Indonesian government, as usual, refused to hold these
elements responsible. Only 17 Indonesian police personnel
received "administrative sanctions" in internal disciplinary
The trial of the five Papuans and the failure to hold
security force personnel accountable for their attack has
drawn protests from international non-governmental
organizations. The U.S. government, however, has not reacted
to these miscarriages of justice.
In one of the stronger commentaries on the travesty,
Amnesty International called on Indonesian authorities
to "immediately and unconditionally release" the five.
Amnesty said the court decision "significantly eroded
Indonesia's respect for freedom of expression and peaceful
assembly." Amnesty International considers all five men to
be prisoners of conscience, part of a group of more than 90
political activists in the provinces of Papua and Maluku
"who have been imprisoned solely for their peaceful
For its part
Human Rights Watch, in addition to condemning the trial
of the five and failure to address the violence against
civilians perpetrated by security forces, also raised
serious due process concerns. HRW cited the defense team as
telling the court that police questioned their clients in
the first 24 hours of arrest without their lawyers present.
According to the defense team, "the men were beaten by
police while in custody. Police allegedly kicked Yaboisembut
in the chest and beat his head with a rifle butt. Sorabut
testified that the police beat him on his head with a pistol
and struck his body repeatedly with an M-16 assault rifle.
Kraar said he was hit by police twice on the head with a
pistol," Human Rights Watch wrote.
Indonesia Continues to Resort to
Undemocratic Means to Repress
WPAT Statement: Indonesia continues to prosecute and
punish Papuans for the peaceful exercise of their
internationally recognized rights to free expression and of
assembly, rights protected under international law including
Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and Article 1 of the International Covenant
on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights. Indonesia is party
to both of these treaties and is similarly obligated to
protect free expression and the right of peaceful assembly
under terms of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Indonesia's own constitution (see Article 28(e) and 28(f))
protects free expression and the right of peaceful assembly.
Article 28(e) states, "Every person shall have the right to
the freedom of association and expression of opinion."
Article 28(f) provides for the individual "right to
communicate and obtain information for the development of
his/her personal life and his/her social environment, and
shall have the right to seek, acquire, possess, keep,
process, and convey information by using all available
The government, however, uses Articles 106 (for makar,
treason), 110 (conspiracy) and 160 (incitement) of the
Indonesian Criminal Code to repress peaceful free expression
Since 2008, at least 82 Papuans have been charged under some
or all of these provisions with sentences ranging from ten
months to six years imprisonment. The vast majority of those
charged and convicted were engaged in peaceful actions such
as the raising of the Papuan "morning star" flag, a symbol
that resonates as a powerful symbol of identity for many
Papuans. In 1999.
the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared the
detention of such flag raisers was "arbitrary."
These arbitrary restrictions originate
from Indonesia's colonial period and were used extensively
by the Suharto dictatorship to repress dissent. These
undemocratic provisions served not only to punish peaceful
protest, but also as a powerful tool of intimidation.
Most recently, the Indonesian criminal justice system used
Article 106 to target Papuans who played prominent roles in
the October 16-19, 2011 "Third Papuan National Congress." (see
above) The assembly was attacked by security forces who
killed at least three participants, beat scores more. and
arbitrarily detained several hundred. While the Indonesian
Government has prosecuted the leaders of this peaceful
gathering, the government has failed to bring to justice
those security forces who attacked the Congress
Papuans Mark the Visit of
UNSG to Stage Massive Demonstrations
Thousands of peaceful civilians demonstrated in the
streets of cities and towns throughout West Papua in March
in conjunction with the March 20 visit to Indonesia by UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. An estimated 5000
demonstrators in the capitol, Jayapura (Port Numbay),
effectively brought normal activity in that hub to a halt.
The rallies, organized by the
West Papua National Committee, were largely peaceful. In a
departure from usual practice some demonstrators attacked
journalists covering the marches. Victor Mambor, chair of
the Alliance of Independent Journalists in Jayapura,
said that the presence of the TNI or police in civilian
clothing near the journalists led to the journalists being
regarded as "tools." Mambor explained, "It is because there
were so many security forces near the journalists who were
covering the event that the journalists were thought to be
collaborating with the security forces. We have to
understand the situation in Papua which means that if
someone realizes that there are security forces in our
midst, we should not allow them any space."
For their part, imprisoned political leaders Forkorus
Yaboisembut and Edison Waromi
called on the UN and others to push for the rights of
West Papuans, including the right to self-determination and
control over the territory's mineral resources. West Papua
was a Dutch colony until 1962 when control was handed over
to the UN ahead of a planned vote on self-determination.
groups believe that the helicopters will
inevitably be used to augment the Indonesian
security forces ongoing campaign against Papuans
in rural areas. That campaign has led to the
destruction of Papuan villages.
from Around the Globe Urge US Congress to Block Sale of U.S.
Attack Helicopters to Indonesian Military
The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and the East Timor and
Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) organized
urging the U.S. government and Congress not to sell AH-64
Apache helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI).
More than 90 human rights, religious, indigenous rights,
disarmament and other organizations worldwide write that
"Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to
Papuan civilians, who have been the target of deadly TNI
assaults for many years"
The groups believe that the helicopters will inevitably be
used to augment the Indonesian security forces ongoing
campaign against Papuans in rural areas. That campaign has
led to the destruction of Papuan villages, the coerced
displacement of thousands of Papuan civilians, and the
deaths of many, either as a direct result of security force
attacks or due to prolonged displacement into inhospitable
jungles and forests.
The text of the petition follows:
As organizations concerned about human
rights in Indonesia and West Papua, we are writing to
urge the U.S. government and Congress not to allow the
sale of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the
Indonesian military (TNI). Providing these helicopters
would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians, who have
been the target of deadly TNI assaults for many years.
The sale of this weapons system to the TNI --
notwithstanding its long record of disregard for
civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations
and impunity in East Timor, Aceh and elsewhere -- would
only increase the suffering of the Papuan population.
Indonesia's Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie
told the Antara news agency, that Indonesia intends
to buy eight AH-64 Apache helicopter from the United
heavily-armed AH-64 is a highly lethal weapon which
can be used to escalate conflict within Indonesia and in
West Papua. These aircraft will substantially augment
the TNI's capacity to prosecute its "sweep operations"
in West Papua and thereby, almost certainly lead to
increased suffering among the civilian populations long
victimized by such operations.
TNI "sweep operations," including several now underway
in the Central Highlands region of West Papua, involve
attacks on villages. Homes are destroyed, along with
churches and public buildings. These assaults,
purportedly to eliminate the poorly armed Papuan armed
resistance, force innocent villagers from their homes.
Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring
villages or into the surrounding forests where many die
or face starvation, cut off from access to their
gardens, shelter, and medical care.
AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can
operate day or night and is armed with high caliber
chain guns . It is also equipped to fire missiles.
Congress must be notified of major weapons sales. We
urge Congress to oppose the sale of these helicopters.
Vital Services Not Available to Many Rural Papuans
The daily JUBI
reported on a new book by Cipry Jehan. The
Papuan Paradox, describes "systematic discrimination"
targeting Papuans in Keerom District. At a seminar convened
by the Catholic Church in Keerom Jehan described "structural
social injustice." He said that the Indonesian government
has focused development efforts in the area of Arso and
Skamto, areas populated largely by non-Papuan immigrants and
transmigrants. Papuan majority areas such as Waris and Towe
do not receive such development assistance, he explained.
The government is much more consistent about
sending troops to this area than sending
teachers and doctors.
Jehan added that discrimination against
Papuans extends to education. As evidence he cited the
reality of inequality in educational services provided from
nursery school level right up to secondary school level. In
Keerom district, he said, nursery schools are spread right
across the districts whereas in the Papuan majority
districts of Waris and Towe Hitam there are no educational
facilities at all. He concluded that "The government is much
more consistent about sending troops to this area than
sending teachers and doctors."
On March 26, JUBI, reported that Kenius Kogoya, a member of
the Papuan legislative assembly (DPRP),
expressed regret that Indonesian state teachers and
health personnel seldom venture out to rural Papuan
Despite explicit and implicit obligations undertaken by the
Indonesian government, particularly under the rubric of
"special autonomy," Papuans living in rural areas have long
suffered from a dearth of public services.
Kenius elaborated that there was widespread neglect by
Indonesian officials who are supposed to check on whether
government teachers and health workers in the interior turn
up for work. The DPRP member stated that this is a problem
that exists in almost all the districts of Papua.
WPAT Comment: For West Papuans, especially those living
in rural areas, the face of the Indonesian government is not
that of a teacher or a nurse or a doctor. It is the face of
a soldier, a militarized police officer (Brimob), or an
intelligence agent. Vital services provided in relative
abundance to non-Papuans are simply not available for
Papuans who continue to languish in poverty and to endure
health conditions that are among the worst in the Southeast
Asian region. It is precisely such disparity that have led
many close observers to describe Indonesia's policy toward
Papuans as genocidal.
But it would be wrong to portray Indonesia's policy as
simply one of malign neglect. Indonesian security forces
have long played the role of brutal enforcer as Indonesian,
U.S. and other international corporations seize Papuan land
and resources, aping the vilest practices of colonial powers
of the past century. Transmigration policies conceived and
employed during the era of the dictator Suharto are again in
place, supported by Government "development" policies, as
seen above, that greatly advantage the migrant over the
deliberately marginalized Papuan.