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Papuan Delegation Tells Its Side of the Story in Wake of Recent Violence

June 26, 2012

The Jakarta Globe
June 26, 2012

Papuan Delegation Tells Its Side of the Story in Wake of Recent Violence

by Philip Jacobson

A group of Papuans was in Jakarta on Tuesday to give their own account
of the recent escalation of violence in their home region, which they
say has been distorted by imbalanced media coverage and statements by
authorities who assert that separatists are behind it.

Meanwhile, reports of arrests continue to flow out of Papua as a
police crackdown there seemingly intensifies, with the Jayapura Police
chief announcing on Monday that his forces had detained three people
responsible for “spreading fear and terror” in the province.

The three — Jefry Wandikwo, Zakius Saplay and Calvin Wenda — allegedly
acted in conjunction with slain independence activist Mako Tabuni to
perpetuate a series of shootings in Jayapura, including an attack on a
German tourist who was injured.

Mako, who was deputy chairman of the West Papua National Committee
(KNPB), was shot dead earlier this month by plainclothes police sent
to arrest him.

Officers say they had to shoot Mako because he resisted arrest and
made a grab at one of their guns. But witnesses interviewed by the
National Commission on Missing Persons and Victims of Violence
(Kontras) say the police shot him from their car.

“This is nothing new, these gross human rights violations against
those accused of being supporters of separatists,” Rev. Benny Giay,
who was part of the delegation from Papua and spoke at Kontras on
Tuesday, told the Jakarta Globe after the event. “This is how they try
to weaken, try to control the civilians.”

Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Alfred Papare said Calvin was
involved in the shooting of the German tourist while Jefry and Zakius
were involved in the killing of a rental car driver as well as arson
along with Mako.

The police are still looking for three people involved: Andi Muk,
Slamet Kosay, Mako Tabuni and Dani Wenda.

“Although we arrested the three we believe are behind the act of
violence and shooting, to this day we cannot conclude definitively the
motive behind these acts. But what is certain is that they have spread
fear and terror among residents,” Alfred said.

On Sunday, Australia-based Institute of Papuan Advocacy and Human
Rights (IPAHR), reported that five others had been arrested: Zakeus
Hupla, Wayut Aspalek, Niel Kogoya, Niel Wolom and Ishak Elopere. At
least three of them were KNPB members, IPAHR said.

KNPB was founded in 2008. In coordination with the Britain-based Free
Papua Movement and other international groups, it campaigns for a
referendum on Papuan self-determination. Its members, mostly students
and ex-students, organize demonstrations and hold speaking events to
promote their cause.

The Indonesian security apparatus characterizes the group as a
dangerous separatist organization. Its members and supporters,
meanwhile, including Giay, say it acts peacefully.

An International Crisis Group report from 2010 said the organization
consisted of “mostly university-educated students and ex-students who
adopted a militant left-wing ideology and saw themselves as
revolutionaries, fighting the Indonesian state and the giant Freeport
copper and gold mine near Timika … they increasingly saw that the
only hope of achieving their cause lay in showing the world that Papua
was in crisis — and that meant more visible manifestations of
conflict.”

That same year, the University of Sydney’s West Papua Project authored
a rebuttal to the ICG report. It stated: “We have found instead that
the KNPB is primarily a media and information clearinghouse that
expresses mainstream views held by a wide spectrum of Papuan civil
society and political organizations, as well as the armed wing of the
OPM.”

Giay said the ICG report was “crazy” and “biased.”

KNPB chairman Buchtar Tabuni, no relation to Mako, was imprisoned for
three years in 2008 on charges of makar, or subversion, related to his
work with KNPB.

Benny Wenda, the exiled Papuan who founded the Free Papua Movement
(OPM), said the security forces saw Mako as a threat because of his
advocacy, which was why they killed him.

“Mako and Buchtar are really, really brave to tell the truth,” Benny
told the Globe by phone from Britain. “Indonesia always blames West
Papuans. They never look for justice.

It really upsets me, really.”

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