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War of Nerves between Papuan Governor & Political Prisoners

War of Nerves between Papuan Governor and Papuan Political Prisoners

By Selpius Bobii
19 August 2013

This was the first time the Governor of Papua had visited the Abepura State Prison. The Governor Lukas Enembe together with the Provincial Secretary, the Chairperson of the Papuan People’s Consultative Assembly, the Implementation Officer of the Chairperson of the Papuan Legislative Assembly, the Territorial Military Commander (of XVII Cenderawasih) and a high-ranking officer from the Police Headquarters in Papua, together visited the Abepura Indonesian State prison on 17 August 2013. The stated aim of the visit being to represent the National Indonesian Government in reading out the giving of remission to the political prisoners and to read the speech from the national Minister for Law and Human Rights.

However there was also another hidden agenda for their visit and that became apparent once the Governor commenced his address inside the prison. Enembe asked the prison warden so all could hear “How many prisoners convicted of treason are here?” To which the prison officer replied there were 10 persons. The Governor then questioned the prisoners “What is it that you who have committed treason are looking for? Stop your struggle. We will achieve freedom in prosperity. In the very near future the Government will pass the Regulations for Governance in Papua and once that occurs we will already have our independence within the Republic of Indonesia and I will be the president. So don’t cry out anymore for independence for Papua.”

Only one political detainee attended the ceremony for the giving of remission, whilst the remaining 25 Papuan freedom political detainees chose not to attend but rather to stay in their cells to avoid the hidden agenda of the Governor and his entourage. However because the Governor used loud amplification to make his address, so all the political detainees could not avoid hearing his words despite their choosing not to attend the ceremony. The Governor stated “I have many family members who have died because they have spoken about independence for Papua, whilst others have fled to PNG, Manokwari and in all directions. Since I was small people have always said ‘Tomorrow we will have freedom!’ But where are the results? Now I have become governor.”

Several political detainees including Victor Yeimo and a number of others in the same cell block raised their voices from their cells to assert their protest against Enembe’s statement in the middle of his address. Police Officers, plain-clothed Indonesian military (TNI) and prison officers quickly moved to deal with the few vocal detainees. However one of the senior Prison Officers by the name of Nyasoko Asso said “Leave them; I will deal with them later!” and the Governor who was still giving his address heard the detainees’ voices of protest and ordered “Let them yell back there.” So they were not silenced at the time.

Following the ceremony for the giving of remission which was unattended by all but one prisoner, the Governor and his entourage started moving towards the stairs to the second floor of the cell block (known as the ‘White Building’) occupied by several well-known Papuan Freedom Political Detainees. At the moment Filep J.S. Karma was entering his cell he was suddenly met by the Governor and his entourage who were going up the stairs to the second floor, so he was forced to receive their visit even though he had no prior intention of meeting with them. Filep Karma explained to them “It is impossible for the people of Papua to unite with the people of Indonesia as until now the majority of Indonesians consider Papuans to be half animal. I myself also experienced that whilst studying higher education in Java. Recently when I went back to Jakarta for medical treatment I asked friends there whether attitudes towards Papuans had changed but they responded there had been no change at all in attitudes towards Papuans and that Indonesians still saw Papuans as similar to human monkeys”. Filep Karma went on to say “So many Papuans have become victims because of the Papuan Struggle for Freedom and we also are imprisoned for that same Struggle. Therefore we reject the offer of clemency from the President of Indonesia. Thank you for your efforts Governor however we political detainees cannot accept the clemency offered.” Governor Enembe merely responded with “Very well.”

Victor Yeimo was also in the same block with Filep Karma and stated “I am Victor Yeimo the Chairperson of the West Papuan National Committee (KNPB) and I tell you that the time will come when Papua will get independence. So please don’t offend us by making statements that Papua will not get independence. That is all I want to say.” But Victor then continued “Go ahead Governor and guard your position, but our commitment is due to our old people suffering in the background. Suffering not because of welfare or some similar problem, but because Papua must become independent. Just that. So please do not ever again say that Papua will not be independent.” Governor Enembe responded “I also was previously part of the struggle for ten years, but my work now is to develop Papua and to make the community prosperous. I have been shot and orally abused also and I live with that, but I have recently come out from that and am now governor.”

At the moment the Governor and his entourage started to leave the area the Writer left his cell and approached them introducing himself as the Chairperson of the Organising Committee of the III National Papuan Congress. He then harshly stated “At the Congress we declared Papua to be a state and because of that we are here in prison. Tell President SBY that the nation of Papua is ready to negotiate. Also tell him that the nation of Papua firmly rejects Special Autonomy Plus and the Regulations for Papuan Governance. Furthermore we as Papuan political detainees reject the giving of clemency in whatever form that may take. We have been imprisoned not because we struggle for food and drink or because we are chasing some position of employment. So many Papuans from the 1960’s until now have been sacrificed, not because they were chasing food and drink or positions within the government, but for full independence (of Papua).”

Governor Enembe replied “I also previously lived with the Struggle but no longer, as my work is now to bring address welfare needs of the people of Papua. You have been a long time in the city but I have only recently come from the mountains.” To which the Writer with a hard and firm tone responded “Sir coming here from the mountains is not to save the people of Papua, but rather to shatter that which is your way of stating that we will achieve our freedom whilst within the Republic of Indonesia; and that we will achieve freedom through prosperity. Stop saying that! The people of Papua struggle for full sovereignty!” With the conversation closed the Governor’s entourage wanted to shake hands but the Writer refused and withdrew to return to his cell. However the Territorial Military Commander and the head of the regional Department of Law and Human Rights Demianus Rumbiak together with a guard, followed the Writer from behind. They still wanted to shake hands so the Writer stated to the Territorial Military Commander “I’m sorry I cannot shake hands with you. We are fellow human beings yes but in terms of political ideology you and I are enemies”. The Writer then shook only the hand of the head of the regional Department of Law and Human Rights. The Governor and his entourage then left.

It is ironic that since that visit the political detainees in Abepura prison have been informed by family members that certain persons have been spreading stories that at the time of the Governor’s visit the Political Detainees chased the Governor with a block of wood until the Governor was forced to leave the prison. That is but a story created by the Indonesian forces or perhaps Indonesian National Intelligence. The truth is that what really happened that day was a war of nerves between the Governor and several Papuan Freedom Political Detainees at the Abepura State Prison.

Lukas Enembe is showing himself to be very different from previous Papuan governors. He is the most arrogant and seems to really dislike the movement of the Papuan Freedom Struggle. On a number of occasions he has openly asked Papuans who are part of the Struggle to give up and instead work to develop Papua within the Republic of Indonesia and to find freedom in prosperity. He is constantly saying that Papua already has its freedom within Indonesia and asking so for what end do people continue to struggle. He has even asked the OPM/TPN who have for many years endured in the remote forests to give up the Struggle. Now he is even asking the Political Detainees to give up the Struggle and has banned any further talk of Papuan independence. This really touches on some very deep old wounds for the people of Papuan who for more than 50 years have constantly struggled and their people been sacrificed again and again, losing thousands of their people killed by both overt and covert means in the long struggle for freedom. Enembe’s words are therefore deeply hurtful for the nation of Papua.

It is understood that Lukas Enembe is playing the role of the representative of the National Indonesian Government in the Province of Papua, however his ways are so unlike that of previous Papuan governors. In facing up to the movement for the liberation of Papua, Enembe is being much more confrontational than all previous governors. It’s clearly evident that one of the tasks that have been entrusted by Jakarta to Lukas Enembe is to ensure Papua remains within Indonesia. Indeed Enembe is one of the cadres of the Democratic Party in which the general leader of course is SBY, so it’s to be expected that Enembe would implement SBY’s instructions with the latter as the leader of the Democratic Party plus the leader of the Nation and of the Indonesian Government. Enembe has been pushed by Jakarta to face up to the Papuan Struggle by using a confrontational method however in so doing he has several times confronted Papuan Freedom Fighters with statements that are most hurtful and indeed deeply saddening coming from a Papuan.

On a number of visits to places Enembe has been escorted by seniors Police or military officers. We are aware that several months ago Enembe requested of President SBY that he be provided with security by the police and military for as long as he was carrying out the required task of approaching members of the Papuan Struggle (including both civilians and member of the OPM/TPN in the forests). This was proven once again with Enembe’s visit to the Abepura Prison on which he was escorted by the Territorial Military Commander and a high-ranking officer from the Police Headquarters in Papua.

Enembe’s hidden agenda on 17 August was to ask the Political Detainees to stop all talk about independence for Papua and so he had requested security be provided by the Police and TNI in Papua. The Governor is holding hands with TNI and the police not only to try and make a success of Jakarta’s ‘project’ in Papua but also with the hidden intention of indirectly terrorizing and intimidating those of the Papuan Freedom movement. However the hidden agenda of the Governor in visiting the Abepura Prison failed. They were received with only protest and warnings from a number of the Papuan Freedom Political Detainees. The Political Detainees at the moment of Enembe’s visit had not the slightest fear in conveying the position of the community of the nation of Papua to the Governor and the Territorial Military Commander and senior ranking officer from the Papuan police headquarters. They expected the detainees to be fearful due to the the police and TNI leaders escorting Enembe but they were mistaken. The political detainees fear only God and the community of the nation of Papua that longs for the sovereignty of the nation of Papua. Finally on that day the Governor and his entourage went home with red faces, empty hands and by no means cool hearts.

The Indonesian Government is really pushing particular Papuans - both officials and certain members of the community - to confront members of the Papuan Freedom Struggle. Indonesia is also using certain Papuans by sending them to foreign countries to silence any support for the Papuan freedom movement from the international community. So the entire community of the nation of Papua and the international community in solidarity are reminded wherever you may, to be on alert and careful to avoid any approaches that could be political manoeuvres of Indonesia. Manoeuvres aimed at weakening the motivation of the Struggle and at repressing support from the international community in solidarity with the movement for the liberation of the nation of Papua from the colonial domination of Indonesia and its allies.

Let us struggle without ceasing! ‘Salam solidaritas without limits’!


Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of The United Front of the Struggle of the Nation of Papua. He is a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee in Abepura State prison, Jayapura.

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