International Relations Committee Passes State Dept. Authorization Bill With Mr. Faleomavaega and Mr. Payne's Language About West Papua
Jul 1, 2005 Press Release
Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), Ranking Member of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and Congressman Donald Payne (D-New Jersey), Ranking Member of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights & International Operations, announced today that they have called upon the African nations to request a review of the United Nations actions in West Papua.
The Congressmen's request comes in response to a petition letter they sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on March 14, 2005 in which they requested his support in conducting a review of the 1969 Act of No Choice in which 1,025 Papuan elders were coerced and manipulated into voting unanimously on behalf of 80,000 Papuans to become a part of Indonesia rather than an independent nation. Although the UN sanctioned the 1969 Act of No Choice, the Act is generally regarded in the international community as a fraudulent tactic that was used by former President Suharto and his military regime to claim control of West Papua, a territory rich in natural resources including gold, silver, copper, oil and gas. In fact, recently declassified US documents show that the Indonesia government knew that allowing an open referendum would lead to West Papuan independence.
In a letter dated September 26, 2005, the Secretary General informed Congressman Faleomavaega and Congressman Payne that he would consider a review of the 1969 Act and the UNs conduct in West Papua if the General Assembly called for it. Should the Assembly decide to revisit this issue, Secretary General Annan has assured that he will do his utmost to implement the Assemblys mandate.
For this reason, Congressman Faleomavaega and Congressman Payne have called upon the Ambassadors representing the African nations before the UN to initiate a call for a General Assembly review. Historically, the African nations raised objections to the 1969 Act of No Choice. Bolivian Ambassador Ortiz-Sans, who monitored the vote on behalf of the United Nations, also noted that the referendum had occurred in the absence of political freedoms guaranteed by the 1962 New York Agreement brokered by the United States that set the framework for Dutch withdrawal from West Papua.
Ambassador Otiz-Sanz issued the following statement in his report:
I regret to have to express my reservation regarding the implementation of Article XXII of the (New York) Agreement relating to the rights, including the rights of free speech, freedom of movement and of assembly of the inhabitants of the area. In spite of my constant efforts, this important provision was not fully implemented and the (Indonesian) Administration exercised at all times a tight political control over the population.
In spite of the Ambassadors report, testimonials from the press, the opposition of fifteen countries and the cries for help from the Papuans themselves, the UN sanctioned Indonesias act and, on September 10, 1969, West Papua became a providence of brutal, Indonesian rule. Since Indonesia seized control of West Papua, the native Papuans have suffered blatant human rights abuses, including extrajudicial execution, torture, sexual violence and mutilation as well as, according to Afrim Djonbalics 1998 statement to the UN, environmental degradation, natural resource exploitation, and commercial dominance of immigrant communities. This exploitation of resources includes reserves of gold, copper, nickel, oil and gas which have been valued at over $54 billion. Local labor has been used in the extraction of these resources with little or no compensation to Papuans.
A recent study by the Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic at Yale University states:
The historical and contemporary evidence strongly suggests that the Indonesian government has committed proscribed acts with the intent to destroy the West Papuans as such in violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the customary international law prohibition this Convention embodies.
In view of this study, it should be noted that native West Papua New Guineans differ linguistically and racially from the majority of Indonesians. The Papuans are Melanesian and believed to be of African descent while the majority of Indonesians are of Javanese descent. Studies like the aforementioned show that there is a strong indication that the Indonesians are committing genocide against the West Papuans through oppression and acts of violence and these acts of genocide may be race-based.
For this and other reasons, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and 174 parliamentarians and 80 nongovernmental agencies from around the world have written to Secretary General Kofi Annan asking that a review be initiated. In turn, Faleomavaega and Congressman Payne have called upon the African nations to call for a General Assembly review. Additionally, the Congressmen included historic language in the U.S. Foreign Relations Authorization bill for FY 2006 and 2007 which requires the U.S. State Department to submit to Congress a report analyzing the 1969 Act.
The language also requires the State Department to submit a report detailing implementation of special autonomy for Papua and Aceh. Such reports shall include (a) an assessment of the extent to which each province has enjoyed an increase in revenue allocations and decision making authority; (b) a description of access by international press and non-governmental organizations to each province; (c) an assessment of the role played by local civil society in governance and decision making; (d) a description of force levels and conduct of Indonesian security forces in each province; and (e) a description of United States efforts to promote respect for human rights in each province.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed this legislation on July 20, 2005. As this matter is now pending between the House and Senate, Congressman Faleomavaega and Congressman Payne are determined to keep Indonesia under the spotlight until exploitation, violence and racism in West Papua is brought to an end.
Text from H.R. 2601 (109th): Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007
SEC. 1115. DEVELOPMENTS IN AND POLICY TOWARD INDONESIA.
(a) Statement of Congress Relating to Recent Developments, Human Rights, and Reform- Congress--
(1) recognizes the remarkable progress in democratization and decentralization made by Indonesia in recent years and commends the people of Indonesia on the pace and scale of those continuing reforms;
(A) its deep condolences to the people of Indonesia for the profound losses inflicted by the December 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami; and
(B) its commitment to generous United States support for relief and long term reconstruction efforts in affected areas;
(3) expresses its hope that in the aftermath of the tsunami tragedy the Government of Indonesia and other parties will succeed in reaching and implementing a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the long-standing conflict in Aceh;
(4) commends the Government of Indonesia for allowing broad international access to Aceh after the December 2004 tsunami, and urges that international nongovernmental organizations and media be allowed unfettered access throughout Indonesia, including in Papua and Aceh;
(5) notes with grave concern that--
(A) reform of the Indonesian security forces has not kept pace with democratic political reform, and that the Indonesian military is subject to inadequate civilian control and oversight, lacks budgetary transparency, and continues to emphasize an internal security role within Indonesia;
(B) members of the Indonesian security forces continue to commit many serious human rights violations, including killings, torture, rape, and arbitrary detention, particularly in areas of communal and separatist conflict; and
(C) the Government of Indonesia largely fails to hold soldiers and police accountable for extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights abuses, both past and present, including atrocities committed in East Timor prior to its independence from Indonesia;
(6) condemns the intimidation and harassment of human rights and civil society organizations by members of the Indonesian security forces and military-backed militia groups, and urges a complete investigation of the fatal poisoning of prominent human rights activist Munir in September 2004; and
(7) urges the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian military to continue to provide full, active, and unfettered cooperation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Justice in its investigation of the August 31, 2002, attack near Timika, Papua, which killed three people (including two Americans, Rick Spier and Ted Burgon) and injured 12 others, and to pursue the indictment, apprehension, and prosecution of all parties responsible for that attack.
(b) Findings Relating to Papua- Congress finds the following:
(1) Papua, a resource-rich province whose indigenous inhabitants are predominantly Melanesian, was formerly a colony of the Netherlands.
(2) While Indonesia has claimed Papua as part of its territory since its independence in the late 1940s, Papua remained under Dutch administrative control until 1962.
(3) On August 15, 1962, Indonesia and the Netherlands signed an agreement at the United Nations in New York (commonly referred to as the `New York Agreement') which transferred administration of Papua first to a United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA), and then to Indonesia in 1963, pending an `act of free choice . . . to permit the inhabitants to decide whether they wish to remain with Indonesia'.
(4) In the New York Agreement, Indonesia formally recognized `the eligibility of all adults [in Papua] . . . to participate in [an] act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice', and pledged `to give the people of the territory the opportunity to exercise freedom of choice . . . before the end of 1969'.
(5) In July and August 1969, Indonesia conducted an `Act of Free Choice', in which 1,025 selected Papuan elders voted unanimously to join Indonesia, in circumstances that were subject to both overt and covert forms of manipulation.
(6) In the intervening years, indigenous Papuans have suffered extensive human rights abuses, natural resource exploitation, environmental degradation, and commercial dominance by immigrant communities, and some individuals and groups estimate that more than 100,000 Papuans have been killed during Indonesian rule, primarily during the Sukarno and Suharto administrations.
(7) While the United States supports the territorial integrity of Indonesia, Indonesia's historical reliance on force for the maintenance of control has been counterproductive, and long-standing abuses by security forces have galvanized independence sentiments among many Papuans.
(8) While the Indonesian parliament passed a Special Autonomy Law for Papua in October 2001 that was intended to allocate greater revenue and decision making authority to the Papuan provincial government, the promise of special autonomy has not been effectively realized and has been undermined in its implementation, such as by conflicting legal directives further subdividing the province in apparent contravention of the law and without the consent of appropriate provincial authorities.
(9) Rather than demilitarizing its approach, Indonesia has reportedly sent thousands of additional troops to Papua, and military operations in the central highlands since the fall of 2004 have displaced thousands of civilians into very vulnerable circumstances, contributing further to mistrust of the central government by many indigenous Papuans.
(10) According to the 2004 Annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices of the Department of State, in Indonesia `security force members murdered, tortured, raped, beat, and arbitrarily detained civilians and members of separatist movements' and `police frequently and arbitrarily detained persons without warrants, charges, or court proceedings' in Papua.
(c) Reporting Requirements-
(1) REPORT ON SPECIAL AUTONOMY- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and one year thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report detailing implementation of special autonomy for Papua and Aceh. Such reports shall include--
(A) an assessment of the extent to which each province has enjoyed an increase in revenue allocations and decision making authority;
(B) a description of access by international press and non-governmental organizations to each province;
(C) an assessment of the role played by local civil society in governance and decision making;
(D) a description of force levels and conduct of Indonesian security forces in each province; and
(E) a description of United States efforts to promote respect for human rights in each province.
(2) REPORT ON THE 1969 ACT OF FREE CHOICE- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report analyzing the 1969 Act of Free Choice.