World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


West Papua Report

West Papua Report

May 2010
This is the 72nd 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. .


Indonesia's Special Forces (Kopassus) and U.S.-backed Detachment 88 troops joined in an assault on peaceful demonstrators in Manokwari. It is unclear if any of those initial detained remain in custody. The Jakarta Post reports chronic malnutrition among Amungme and Kamoro children who live in the shadow of the massive Freeport McMoran copper and gold mine. A prominent leader of PDI-P has called for creation of truth and reconciliation commissions for Aceh and West Papua. Pressure appears to be building for a military response to dissent in West Papua, including the targeting of NGOs. Leading human rights organizations and churches have called for an end to mistreatment of political prisoners in West Papua and an investigation of security force killing of activists. Indonesian intelligence and special forces are attempting to create a false front organization in Biak to replace a legitimate one established by the local people.

Security Forces Attack Peaceful Demonstrators in Manokwari
Freeport Ignores Childhood Malnutrition at Its Doorstep
Call for Truth and Reconciliation Commission in West Papua
Pressure Grows For Military Response to Political Dissent in West Papua
Rights Groups Decry Mistreatment of Political Prisoners and Failure to Investigate Killing of Activists
Indonesian Intelligence and Special Forces Seek to Create a Stooge Traditional Council in Biak
Security Forces Attack Peaceful Demonstrators in Manokwari

Sources in West Papua reported on the latest security force assault on peaceful demonstrators. The U.S.-organized and -funded Detachment 88 attacked peaceful protesters in Manokwari on April 22. The attacking force also included BRIMOB (militarized police) and Dalmas (a special security unit). Video of the attack revealed plainclothes officials also assaulting the demonstrators. (The plainclothes officials may have been Kopassus or military intelligence (BIN) which often work out of uniform.)

According to a report from the scene, at least 17 of the estimated 700 protesters were arrested. Most of this number, which included women and youths, were subsequently released though there is some indication that some of these were re-arrested, notably Mark Yenu, the leader of the Manokwari contingent of the West Papua National Authority.

Video of the incident noted that demonstrators carried a banner calling for a referendum for West Papua and rejecting dialogue as a means of resolving the Papuan crisis.

Rally speaker Reverend Yoku called for the immediate release of those "political prisoners" detained at the demonstration. The President of the National Congress of the West Papua National Authority added, "What is democracy if you can't have a rally? Where is Yudhoyono? Why doesn't he pull back his security forces?"

"As a recognized leader in West Papua, I call on the US and the Netherlands, Australia and the 84 UN-member countries that recognized the Act of No Choice in 1969 to take responsibility for the decision they made. Let me say this, because 816,896 West Papuans were never asked whether they wanted the Indonesian occupation. Forty-seven years later, we still don't want them."

Freeport Ignores Childhood Malnutrition at Its Doorstep

An April 9 Jakarta Post article describes the inauguration of a program to provide supplemental food for schoolchildren in the Timika area. The "Provision of Food Supplement to Schoolchildren" project is intended to address chronic malnutrition among schoolchildren that contributes to poor learning and equally chronic illiteracy.

Local education official Benny Tsenawatne said the Kamoro and Amungme tribal communities generally lacked access to schools or health clinics, and suffered from low human resource development.

The Post alludes to but does not explore the savage irony that this malnourishment is a chronic concern in a community which serves as the base for the Freeport McMoran gold mining enterprise which has channeled billions of dollars to the U.S. corporation and to the Indonesian government. The Kamoro and Amungme peoples whose land was expropriated by the mining operation have long protested the devastation of their natural resources by the mining operation and the human rights violations meted out by Indonesian security forces acting in service of the mining giant.

To this litany of grievances can be added the plight of the local Papuan's children. Freeport has ignored the Kamoro and Amungme children suffering chronic malnutrition on its doorstep for decades. (On April 21 Reuters noted that Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc had reported a twenty-fold jump in first-quarter earnings and that it was doubling its dividend as global demand for metals has soared.)

Call for Truth and Reconciliation Commission in West Papua

Indonesia's Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has publicly called for creation of a truth and reconciliation commission to address the violation of human rights in Aceh and West Papua. Karimun Usman, the chairman of the Aceh branch of the PDI-P, told the media April 22 that the proposal was intended to address the government's reluctance to deal with past human rights violations.

The 2005 internationally-mediated Helsinki agreement [PDF]which ended conflict between the Indonesian military and the Acehenese independence organization (GAM) required the Indonesian Government to establish both a "human rights court" and a truth and reconciliation commission. The failure of Jakarta to take these steps underscores the continued unwillingness of the central government to confront the powerful Indonesian military which operate with impunity before Indonesia's deeply flawed judicial system.

The call for a truth and reconciliation commission for West Papua to deal with decades of ongoing security abuses and criminality targeting Papuans is a notable acknowledgement by a non-Papuan official of the need for an official review of security force performance in West Papua. The call for such a commission for West Papua provides tacit support for an internationally-mediated dialogue between Jakarta and Papuans. That proposal, which has drawn broad Papuan support as well as some backing from Indonesian academics and political leaders, is aimed in part at addressing decades of military abuse and criminality.

Pressure Grows For Military Response to Political Dissent in West Papua

In recent weeks an apparently orchestrated effort has emerged aimed at building support for increased military action to address growing peaceful, political dissent in West Papua. Targets for a repressive "security approach" to political problems are not simply the small armed resistance, the "OPM," but also civilian political dissenters and human rights defenders. Concern about military-on-civilian violence has been prompted in part by Pucak Jaya District Chief Lukas Enembe who has called publicly for government action against unnamed NGOs, "domestic as well as foreign," whom he alleged have been involved in recent attacks in the district by armed groups. He claimed the activity amounted to efforts to "undermine the Republic."

The District Chief resorted to the central government's rhetoric of labeling critics as separatists, contending without evidence that the OPM was "supported by NGOs and individuals who are in favor of a Free Papua." He also sought to raise fears about a strengthening OPM, contending, again without evidence that OPM personnel were equipped with modern automatic rifles.

The remarks made by district chief Enembe alleging that NGOs are supporting the separatist OPM have been challenged by the NGO community. Budi Setyanto, Director of the Institute for Civil Strengthening told the media that in fact the NGO community is dedicated to nonviolence. He noted that NGOs had long been accused of supporting OPM activity in the Puncak Jaya and challenged those like Enembe who make such false claims: "If there is any evidence that NGOs have supported the OPM, please say which NGOs are involved and who it is within these NGOs who are involved. If what they have done amounts to a criminal act, then the persons should be charged in court. He explained further that the government itself often established NGOs which lacked the 'common vision of the NGO movement." (Note item below which describes just such Government efforts in Biak during April.)

The District Chief's comments coincided with what appeared to be propaganda efforts to increase tensions, including especially ethnic tensions between migrants and Papuans. Sources in West Papua have reported posting of fliers in and around the Papuan capital and main airport at Sentani that proclaim OPM a "terrorist" and "criminal" organization. Curiously, the fliers bear information indicating they were produced by two NGO's in Jayapura, both of which stoutly deny any involvement in the propaganda.

Assessing these efforts to increase tensions using false claims and clandestine propaganda, a respected analyst believes that the effort is the work of the Indonesian military, particularly those such as the special forces, Kopassus, and the military intelligence, BIN, which engages in intelligence and covert operations. That analyst notes that Kopassus has around 1,000 soldiers operating in civilian clothes and stationed throughout Papua's more than 30 regencies (districts). BIN personnel tend to be positioned in West Papua's cities.

Indications that groundwork is being laid for a broad security force crackdown is also reflected in aggressive security force actions against peaceful demonstrations such as those in Manokwari, April 22, where film shot of security forces clearly reveal beating of unarmed protesters. ( See report on that incident above.)

Sign the petition opposing U.S.
cooperation with Kopassus

Rights Groups Decry Mistreatment of Political Prisoners and Failure to Investigate Killing of Activists

International human rights defenders in an April 22 press conference appealed to the Indonesian Government to end discrimination targeting Papuans. The appeal, offered by the Indonesian NGOs Kontras (the Commission for The Disappeared and Victims of Violence) and Imparsial (the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor) as well as the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch among others was published by CathNews Asia.

The CathNews report follows:
Rights groups and churchmen have urged the Indonesia government to cease what they call its discriminatory treatment of Papuan nationalists.
"We see the government and law enforcement officials still stigmatize and single out those who allegedly favor Papuan independence, including political prisoners," several rights groups said in statement issued at an April 22 press conference, UCA News reports.
The groups included the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), and Human Rights Watch.

Peaceful dialogue involving all social and governmental elements is the solution to overcoming disagreements in Indonesia's largest province, they said. The groups also questioned what they called lack of government action over the death of Yawan Wayeni, a Papuan political activist. Wayeni was shot dead by local police in a sweep against nationalist activists in Serui on Yapen Island.
The groups also raised the lack of medical treatment for Filep Karma, a Papuan political prisoner who suffers from severe prostate problems. They urged the Department of Justice and Human Rights to allow Karma to undergo surgery at a Protestant-run hospital in Jakarta. "Law Number 12/1995 of the penal code stipulates the directorate general of the department is responsible for the healthcare of all prisoners in jails across Indonesia," they said.
They revealed that 68 political activists are being held in different jails in Papua. "But they are not treated properly. They face discriminatory and violent treatment including beatings," they said.

During the press conference, Reverend Benny Giay, a Papuan Protestant pastor, said such discrimination was the result of a belief that most Papuans want independence. He said many churches and NGOs in Papua come under scrutiny because of their vocal defense of human rights. "We hope that rights groups outside Papua, especially Jakarta, will support us in speaking out against human rights abuses in Papua," he said.
Speaking with UCA News, Dorus Wakum, a Papuan human rights activist, agreed that human rights activists were often seen as separatists. "Being labeled a separatist is a character killer," he said.
Indonesian Intelligence and Special Forces Seek to Create a Stooge Traditional Council in Biak

According to a report translated and released by TAPOL from an April 7 BiakNews report, efforts are underway in Biak to create a false front organization to replace the East Biak Traditional Council.

BiakNews reports that the Indonesian State intelligence organization (BIN), the notorious Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus), and the local military command (Korem) are orchestrating the effort. The initial effort to organize a stooge East Biak Traditional Council was launched at an April 7 meeting held at Kopassus Post 08 in Biak Papua. The meeting was closed to the public.

Back issues of West Papua Report here:

This issue is at


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN: Bachelet Alarmed By Number Of Palestinian Children Killed In Latest Escalation

UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet today expressed alarm at the high number of Palestinians, including children, killed and injured in the occupied Palestinian territory this year, including in intense hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza last weekend... More>>

Save The Children: One Year Under Taliban Rule, Girls Are More Isolated, Hungry, Sad: New Report
One year since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, an economic crisis, crippling drought and new restrictions have shattered girls’ lives, excluding them from society and leaving them hungry...

Palestinian Ministry of Health: Developments In The Health Situation During The Israeli Aggression On The Cities & Governorates Of The Gaza Strip
For the second day in a row, the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip continues by targeting overcrowded residential areas and neighborhoods, as the death toll rose to 13 citizens, including a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman... More>>

Somalia: ‘We Cannot Wait For Famine To Be Declared; We Must Act Now’
Rising acute food insecurity in Somalia has caused more than 900,000 people to flee their homes in search of humanitarian assistance since January last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned... More>>

UN: American West Faces Water And Power Shortages Due To Climate Crisis
Two of the largest reservoirs in the United States are at dangerously low levels due to the climate crisis and overconsumption of water, which could affect water and electricity supply for millions in six western states and Mexico, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Tuesday... More>>

Singapore: UN Experts Call For Immediate Moratorium On Executions For Drug Offences

UN experts* today condemned the execution of Nazeri Bin Lajim, a 64-year-old Malay Singaporean national convicted of drug offenses and urged the Government of Singapore to halt plans to execute individuals on death row for drug related charges... More>>