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Peace Movement Aotearoa: Urgent ! West Papua

5 December 2000


Urgent ! West Papua


Kia ora,

we have been receiving reports this morning from IAWP (International Action for West Papua) that thirty seven Indonesian warships have now been deployed off the coast of West Papua. This follows several days of increased violent oppression by the Indonesian military and police of people involved in pro-independence activities since 1 December - primarily attempting to display the West Papuan flag ‘ Morning Star’. 1 December marked the 39th anniversary of the 1961 West Papuan Declaration of Independence from Dutch colonial rule.

Seven pro-independence supporters were shot dead by Indonesian police on 2 December; and a number (the exact number remains unconfirmed at this point in time) of pro-independence leaders have been arrested.

Last Friday, the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre issued a media release calling for peaceful dialogue in West Papua, and for the end of repressive measures by the Indonesian authorities (see *2* below); and on Sunday CamPeace issued an update on the situation (see *3* below).

Yesterday, the Australian Senate passed Green’s Senator Bob Brown's motion calling for the upholding of human rights for arrested West Papuan leaders. The motion reads: “ That the Senate recalls its motion of 30 November 2000 concerning conflict in Indonesia: Expresses strong concern about the situation in West Papua/Irian Jaya; Calls on the Australian Government to make urgent and appropriate representations to the Indonesian Government to ensure the protection of human and civil rights of detained West Papuan leaders; Reaffirms its call on all parties to refrain from violence and instead pursue peaceful political dialogue in West Papua/Irian Jaya.” The motion was opposed by the Australian government.

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A further alert has arrived just now from IAWP calling on the NZ government together with others to act now for the people of West Papua (see *** 4 *** below). At the end of this alert is a section with contact details for NZ government ministers, some media and the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington (see *5* below).

For background information and recent developments on the situation in West Papua, and links to other sources of information, you can check out the articles listed on the West Papua index page on PMA’s website at

Rather than circulating all new articles and alerts to our e-lists, we will instead be uploading them to the website every few days.

*** 2 **********************

Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC), media release, 1 December 2000

Indonesian authorities threaten ‘repressive measures’ in West Papua

On the anniversary of West Papua’s declaration of independence, Pacific Island leaders must call on the Indonesian authorities to end repressive actions in West Papua, according to the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre.

"Pacific governments should support efforts for mediation and peaceful dialogue between Indonesia and the West Papuan independence movement," states Motarilavoa Hilda Lini, director of the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC). "We urge Pacific leaders to speak publicly on this issue. Our Pacific governments should call on Indonesia to end the harassment of key West Papuan leaders, to allow for negotiations on the political future of West Papua. We must also ask the United Nations to review the so-called Act of Free Choice of 1969, and encourage a proper process of self-determination for the people of West Papua."

Mrs. Lini stated: "At the 31st Pacific Islands Forum in Kiribati, Pacific leaders called for peaceful dialogue between the Indonesian government and the West Papuan independence movement. Today, on the 39th anniversary of the declaration of West Papuan independence from the Dutch, it is important that Pacific governments call for restraint by the Indonesian military and police."

This week, key leaders of the West Papuan nationalist movement were detained by Indonesian police, and questioned over alleged subversion. Taha Al Hamid, the secretary general of the Papua Presidium Council, has been charged with subversion for activities such as raising West Papua’s Morning Star independence flag. Theys Eluay, the Chairperson of the Presidium Council, was also detained by the Indonesian police, and faces charges of subversion.

Throughout November, Indonesia’s military and police have threatened "repressive measures", in preparation for today’s anniversary of the West Papuan Declaration of Independence from the Netherlands in 1961.

In recent statements, key Indonesian military officers and officials have called for repression to halt the popular mobilisation in West Papua, which is calling for independence from Indonesia. On 10 November, Indonesian police launched a three-month operation named Operation Tuntas to crack down on the independence movement. Superintendent Kusnadi of the Police and Operational Command told the Jakarta Post: "We will use all approaches in stages, from persuasive measures moving to repressive measures".

On 15 November, two battalions of ‘green beret’ soldiers from Indonesia’s Kostrad (Army Strategic Reserve Command) were sent to West Papua. Some 2000 Indonesian troops from Battalion 431 and 433 were sent from their base in South Sulawesi. Major General Sembiring Meliala, former military commander in West Papua, this week stated: "We definitely need more troops to secure Papua. We will do all necessary measures to curb any separatist movement anywhere in the country. Repressive measures sometimes cannot be avoided."

PCRC believes that the Pacific Islands Forum and Pacific governments have an important role to play to avoid further human rights violations in West Papua.

Mrs. Lini added. "The Pacific Islands Forum statement on West Papua in November 2000 was an important step in acknowledging that West Papua has always been part of Melanesia and the wider Pacific region, historically, geographically and culturally. But our Pacific governments must continue to support our brothers and sisters in West Papua, to avoid a repeat of the massacres that occurred in Timor."

*** 3 **********************

Update summary on the situation in West Papua, CamPeace, Sunday 3 December 2000:

* hundreds of paratroops have dropped into Jayapura (3rd Dec); * many paratroops into highlands (1st & 2nd Dec); * three or so battalions of paratroops had also been dropped in the highlands in the last few days of November; * 7 people killed in Merauke when police opened fire on crowd (2nd Dec); * 2 men shot in Fak Fak after riots following demonstration (1st Dec); * 23 people arrested after flag raising (2nd Dec); * report that 14 SATGAS (Papuan security force) members have been arrested and taken away on a boat - they have not been seen since (3rd Dec); * Chairman (Theys Eluay) and at least 3 other members of the Papua Presidium Council (Thaha Al Hamid, Jhon Mambor and Dr Don A.L. Flassy) are in prison, Theys Eluay and the Secretary of the Presidium Thaha Al Hamid have been charged with treason/subversion, carrying a life-sentence; * up to 80,000 troops deployed in the province in the lead up to the 1st of December WP Independence Day; * 32 warships have been patrolling the province's waters; * thousands of civilians have been equipped by the Indonesian army with firearms and grenades. Most of those armed by the army are Muslim, possibly in a bid to create a religious conflict in West Papua similar to the one in Ambon; * there is a considerable troop concentration at the PNG border, at least 4 battalions of infantry according to Papuan sources; * the Indonesian army has paid some Papuans to also side with the pro-Indonesian militia or act as informers; * there are several thousands police and special forces guarding the Freeport mine.

Further evidence to these sources, an Indonesian Home Affairs Department plan obtained by Reuters on 26th Nov and marked "Top Secret" calls for the raising of village-level militias and tough action against independence leaders in West Papua. Also a former military commander, Major-General Sembiring Meliala, now an MP, told foreign journalists in Jakarta the week before that more troops needed to be sent to the province. "We definitely need more personnel to secure Papua. We will take all the necessary measures to curb any separatist movement anywhere in the country. Repressive measures sometimes cannot be avoided."

An update to this report was circulated later on 3 December saying: “The latest report is that 70 SATGAS (Papuan Security Force) members were arrested and taken away by boat (40 males and 30 females), sailing to an undisclosed destination. In previous years the Indonesian military and police have taken Papuans to sea and drowned their bodies. We must demand to know who the people arrested are and where their destination is. They must not be allowed to disappear.”

*** 4 **********************

*** International Action for West Papua (IAWP), media release, 4 December 2000

UN Intervention in West Papua needed NOW !!

The fact that Indonesia has 37 warships currently off the coast of West Papua (Irian Jaya), an estimated figure of between 80,000 to 130,000 heavily-armed Indonesian troops in West Papua with around 10,000 in Jayapura the administrative capital alone signifies that Indonesia has no wish to continue dialogue with the indigenous West Papuans whose only desire has been to exercise their right to demand Indonesian military military withdrawal from West Papua after 38 years of continuous genocide, oppression, and harassment.

The zone of peace proposed for West Papua by the Papuan Presidium Council has demonstrably been rejected by Indonesia which has chosen the heavy-handed method of suppressing indigenous West Papuan independence desires and correction of their political history. The Papuans have to have visit permits to visit their families and relatives in other villages in West Papua through Surat Jalans (travel permits) issued by Indonesian police.

The West Papuans number only little more than 1 million. They are defenceless, unarmed, innocent, and guilty only of expressing their human rights which for 38 years since Indonesia forcefully annexed this forsaken land, has led to genocide of indigenous Papuans estimated at 300,000 or 1/3 of the indigenous population. The indigenous Papuan population in independent Papua New Guinea number 4 1/2 million. Clearly there is serious disparity and reduction in indigenous Papuan numbers in the Indonesian-controlled West Papua. This is going to continue until this race is totally annihilated off the face of the earth.

The environmental destruction of vast tracts of virgin rainforest for logging concessions held by the Jakarta elite together with their military partners also reflects negatively on this greed by the corrupt regime and Jakarta elite. With the global community concerned about the "greenhouse gases" effect, action must be taken now internationally in West Papua.

The international community which had in the past supported Indonesian territorial integrity over West Papua (Irian Jaya) must act and listen to popular indigenous West Papuan demands for outright independence and total separation from an oppressive military-led expansionist regime.

Democracy in Indonesia since Suharto's fall has been only a thinly-veiled guise for continued grappling for power amongst the Jakarta elite. Until the Indonesian military is firmly under control, democracy in Indonesia will continue to remain a distant dream for the Indonesian populace.

With past and current lessons learnt from East Timor and the replication in West Papua of East-Timor style pro-Indonesia militias, the international community must act now cohesively and support the indigenous West Papuans, lest wholesale and complete genocide of this race of First Peoples.

The increase in border tensions with Papua New Guinea is a cause for concern. The PNG government must help the West Papuan refugees crossing the border into PNG in search of a safe haven. Australia, New Zealand, the British and the US governments must act quickly and press the United Nations to assemble a rapid intervention force on humanitarian grounds into West Papua NOW.

International media must quickly return to Jayapura and the rest of West Papua to witness the rapid deterioration of the situation on the ground in West Papua, before Indonesia closes the door on West Papua.

If West Papua is ignored, the global community will in the end suffer the loss of a part of itself.

Action and international intervention must be taken now.

*** 5 **********************

*** Contact details

For those of you receiving this alert outside Aotearoa / New Zealand who wish to use any of the fax / phone numbers listed below, please prefix the number with + 64 and delete the first 0 - eg (04) 473 3579 becomes + 64 4 473 3579.

a) NZ government:

* Phone and fax numbers - Helen Clark, Prime Minister, office - tel (04) 471 9998, fax (04) 473 3579; Jim Anderton, Deputy Prime Minister, office - tel (04) 471 9011, fax (04) 495 8441; Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs, office - tel (04) 471 9370, fax (04) 495 8444; The Cabinet (collectively), office - tel (04) 471 9743, fax (04) 472 6332. Letters - all letters should be addressed to the relevant person and posted (no stamp needed) to Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

Ideally you should send a copy of your correspondence to Matt Robson, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, tel (04) 470 6561, fax (04) 495 8462; Keith Locke, Green Party Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, tel (04) 470 6709, fax (04) 472 6003; and a copy of your correspondence and of any replies to PMA for our files.

b) Contact details for the national / nationally distributed media: Christchurch Press, fax (03) 364 8492, ; Dominion, fax (04) 4740257; Evening Post, fax; (04) 474 0237, ; New Zealand Herald, fax (09) 373 6434, ; Sunday Star Times, fax (09) 309 0258; Press Association, fax (04) 473 7480; Radio New Zealand, fax (04) 473 0185; Listener, fax (09) 360 3831,

c) Contact details for the Indonesian Ambassador: Mrs Titiek S Rustaman, Embassy of Indonesia, PO Box 3543, Wellington, tel (04) 475 8699, fax (04) 475 9374.

Peace Movement Aotearoa
the national networking peace group
PO Box 9314, Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand.
tel +64 4 382 8129, fax 382 8173,
Internet Peace Gateway

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