West Papua Report April 2014: Ed Masters, Vanuatu, MiFEE, human rights, mangrove, health, UN
etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer

Support ETAN





Donate Today!

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 http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org. Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2014/1404wpap.htm.

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 edmcw@msn.com. 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.

Subscribe to indonesia-act listserv


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 organization.

Masters was present at the creation of the three decade U.S. partnership with 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 hundreds 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 green-lighted the 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 Indonesian consolidation, 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 OV-10 Broncos 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 was substantial.

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 longer obtained.

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.

* Ed 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 (ETAN)


What the State Department Human Rights Report Missed in West Papua

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 particularly significant.

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 political protest;
  • 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.

see also ETAN and WPAT: Comments on the U.S. Department of State's Annual Country Report on Human Rights for 2012 Concerning Indonesia/West Papua

Papuans Behind Bars

Development Threatens Papuan Mangrove Forests

Mangrove forest. Photo from Jubi..  

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 peat-land forests.

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 Papuan People."

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 intimidation."

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.

Buchtar Tabuni Asks Protection from International Community

Buchtar Tabuni in court Photo from buchtartabuni.wordpress.com/ ..  

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 future.

Security forces 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 medicine.

U.S. Augments TNI Capacity with F16's

Indonesia Air Force Chief of Staff Air Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia 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 Apache attack 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

A four-month 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 Papua.


Report Details Human Costs of Agribusiness in Merauke

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 any community."

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 rights violations."

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

Moana Kalosil Carcasses, Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu. UN Photo.  
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?"

Speaking 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 here.

Is a UN Resolution on Papua Impossible?

Prominent academic 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 beginning."

Members of European Parliament Write on West Papua

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."

ETAN Election Backgrounder

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 Indonesia's Militarized Democracy: Candidates bring proven records of violating human rights 

Support Unconditional Release of Papua Political Prisoners
Support the Appeal of Filep Karma's Daughter
Sign the petition

Support Unconditional Release of West Papua Political Prisoners

 Support unconditional release of Papua political prisoners!

 Sign the Petition Today!

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2014/1404wpap.htm


Congratulations to The Act of Killing on its Oscar Nomination
Order the documentary here and support ETAN

TAKE ACTION: Join the Say Sorry for 65 Campaign

Blu-Ray (2 discs) DVD (2 Disc)

ETAN on Facebook


ETAN's other twitter accounts:

ETAN on LinkedIn

ETAN on Linked In
ETAN on Pinterest  ETAN on Pinterest

 ETAN's Blog

ETAN on Google+

ETAN on Google+

ETAN's Key Contact List
Action alerts, media releases, key news and other resources on East Timor (Timor-Leste) and Indonesia selected by ETAN, focused on ETAN's program and priorities

ETAN listservs

Subscribe to ETAN's e-mail Listservs
on Timor, West Papua
and Indonesia human rights

    WWW http://www.etan.org

Donate to ETAN!

Become an ETAN Sustainer, make a pledge via credit card here

Bookmark and Share

Background | Take Action | News | Links | What You Can Do | Resources  | Contact

ETAN Store | Estafeta | ImagesHome | Timor Postings | Search | Site Index |

Follow ETAN
Like ETAN on Facebook Follow ETAN on Twitter ETAN on Google+ ETAN email listservs ETAN blog ETAN on LinkedIn ETAN on Pinterest ETAN on Instagram Donate to ETAN!