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Review: ‘Enduring impunity’: Women surviving atrocities in the absence of justice

November 24, 2015

Inside Indonesia

Review: ‘Enduring impunity’: Women surviving atrocities in the absence of justice

Written by Katharine McGregor 71 year-old Ibu Kadmiyati is a survivor of the 1965 violence in Indonesia. She was imprisoned for a year along with her father and, upon her release, devoted her life to helping her mother support a family of seven children whilst her father remained in detention. Ibu Kadmiyati was one of two survivors who attended the Ubud Readers & Writers Festival (UWRF) this October. With fellow survivor, Ibu Hartiti, her engagements at the festival included speaking at the opening of a photographic exhibition in which she featured, and launching the book from this larger project on women survivors of state violence, titled Enduring Impunity.

The forced cancellation of the photo exhibition, Act of Living, and other events in the festival program related to 1965, did not dissuade Ibu Kadmiyati and Ibu Hartiti from going to Ubud and participating in the festival. In media reports covering that event, the women were labelled ‘gutsy grannies’. But more than ever, the forced cancellations of these programs at UWRF 2015 was a reminder that much more still needs to be done to allow survivors of this violence public spaces to talk about their experiences of this history and its long aftermath.

Somewhat remarkably, perhaps, the launch of Enduring Impunity was not targeted for removal from the festival program. Moreover, from within its pages Ibu Kadmiyati’s call is more pertinent than ever

I also demand and hope for justice for the violence against the victims of 1965. For the sadistic torture and killing of millions of people and those detained up to 14 years. When will the law be upheld? … Who is sadistic and cruel? The communists? Or the perpetrators of the killings? Find out the truth.

Enduring impunity

Written by a team of researchers from the Jakarta-based non-government organisation Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), this book aims to examine the long term effects on women of politically motivated violence. The cases, from Myanmar, Indonesia and Timor-Leste are all examples of where victims are yet to see justice. The social and political contexts within which these women still live, continue to support impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes.

In the opening pages of Enduring Impunity the authors define the meaning of endure as: ‘to suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently’ and ‘to remain in existence, to last’. In this definition they highlight the lingering effects on women of rape, torture, imprisonment and the loss of loved ones.

In Indonesia’s case, victims and their supporters continue to confront state resistance to acknowledge the injustice of the 1965 violence, which claimed half a million lives and included the detention and forced labour of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners. It is only by uncovering and addressing the ongoing effects of impunity that activists, together with survivors can begin to take steps to address these effects and to raise public awareness.

AJAR’s project is premised on a shift towards better understanding what impunity means in the context of the daily lives not only of survivors but also of the broader society where violence is accepted and tolerated and where there is ongoing stigmatisation and persecution of survivors. The book is one outcome of participatory-based research with 140 women from Myanmar, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The ages of the women survivors range from between 15 and 78 years old. The project’s aim was not only to document and understand the social and economic impact of violence on women survivors, but to also engage them in exercises to promote truth, advocacy and healing. The women were an integral part of the research process. In Indonesia, with the support of Komnas Perempuan (National Commission on Violence Against Women) there was also an effort to link the women with government support services.

Underpinning the research is a complex understanding of how ongoing impunity continues to affect the women’s lives and the ways this might be reversed. AJAR’s research is based on a long term commitment to the survivors and also a wariness within women’s rights advocacy organisations of the ‘hit and run’ focus of transitional justice measures. The AJAR team was especially aware of the need to tackle head on the fact that women experiencing violence face specific barriers in society, which justice measures often overlook.

The researchers and survivors studied the compound effects of violence such as the forced displacement of women, which also brings severe economic hardship. They also examined the particular cultural circumstances which make addressing sexual violence through formal justice measures inadequate. They identified and addressed ongoing societal stigmas against survivors of rape.

The research methods are feminist in that they are based on a concept of the collective production and collective ownership of knowledge. They are also feminist in that they use a critical lens to assess the shortcomings for women of previous approaches to justice.

The approach adopted in this research is innovative and inspirational in the way the authors have carefully unpacked the dimensions of impunity experienced by the women. The researchers sought to help women survivors to ‘unlearn’ the acceptance of impunity, which had been become a ‘normal’ part of their lives. Survivors were supported to think about their experiences, to tell their stories in safe environments, to share survival strategies and to create positive change for their futures.

Along the way the team used creative approaches drawing upon feminist psychology and cultural traditions, allowing the women to share their stories and think about the impacts of violence upon them. These included instruments for storytelling and healing such as the stone and flower ceremony, puppet performances, creating timelines and memory boxes and documenting the impact of the violence through resource and body mapping. By adopting a holistic approach the researchers also tried to address the effects of this violence within the family and community and across the generations.

For those survivors involved in this project and book, the effects have been profound. As Ibu Kadimiyati explains in Enduring Impunity, ‘Now I feel so much more powerful, and not so lonely anymore, because of the struggle that we must fight to dismantle violence, to get justice.’

Katharine McGregor (k.mcgregor) is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow working on the project, ‘Confronting Historical Injustice in Indonesia: Memory and Transnational Human Rights Activism’. She co-organised with Jemma Purdey a series of panels, a book launch and photo exhibition (related to these women) on the 1965 violence for the Ubud Readers & Writers Festival 2015.

Download a copy of Enduring Impunity and to learn more about their work visit AJAR’s website.

Inside Indonesia 122: Oct-Dec 2015

ICP Releases New Human Rights Report 2015

November 23, 2015

ICP Releases New Human Rights Report 2015

Human Rights in West Papua 2015
In its latest report, the ICP brings together the research of 25 organisations and experts from in- and outside West Papua on the situation of human rights, indigenous peoples’ rights and the conflict situation there. It details in particular the demographic development and its causes as well as the ongoing violence by security forces that targets indigenous Papuans.

The development of the human rights situation in West Papua during 2013 and 2014 shows a deterioration compared to the period covered by the ICP’s previous report. West Papua on the Guinea island bordering Asia and the Pacific and comprising the two east Indonesian provinces of Papua and Papua Barat continues to be one of the regions of Asia most seriously affected by human rights violations and an unresolved long standing political conflict. The living conditions of the indigenous Papuan peoples are in stark contrast to those of the trans-migrants from other parts of Indonesia.

Get The Report from the ICP Website…

The number of arrests during demonstrations has risen to several hundred per year peaking at 470 arrests in May 2014 alone. The annual number of cases of threats, intimidations and obstruction of work of local journalists have almost doubled compared to previous years. At the same time, the number of demonstrations has gone down as a result of more repressive policies and actions by security forces against political civil society movements. The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has still not been allowed to visit West Papua, despite Indonesia’s earlier positive announcement. In August 2014, two French journalists were arrested and sentenced to two and half months imprisonment for having violated immigration laws.

This report details cases of violations between April 2013 and December 2014 documented by human rights organisations and churches in West Papua, in Jakarta and by international human rights organisations. Local organisations recorded 47 demonstrations in that period. All but five of them ended with arrests. Torture and ill-treatment were frequently practiced during crack downs of demonstrations. Eighteen further cases of torture were selected for this report. The cases of documented extra-judicial killings of civilians by security forces during the given period amounts to 22 deaths. All of those victims were indigenous Papuans. On 8 December 2014 security forces opened fire on a large group of indigenous Papuans who protested against excessive violence by security forces. At least four school students were killed and 17 others were injured. The perpetrators of this incident have, as in most other cases not been brought to justice.

Local churches and human rights organisations note an increase of horizontal violence between indigenous and trans-migrant communities. Police often consent to or support the victimization of Papuans instead of adopting an impartial law enforcement practice. The case that took place at the Yotefa Market in Abepura on 2 July 2014 details how police cooperated with a mob of trans-migrants in torturing an indigenous Papuan.


The population share of indigenous Papuans in West Papua has fallen to an estimated 42% in 2015. This is due to an ongoing influx of transmigrants from other parts of Indonesia and a poor population growth rate of indigenous Papuans. This situation and its causes are detailed in the sections on population and health.

Observers note an ongoing breakdown in the health care and education system in remote highland regions as well as other parts of West Papua. 11.5 % of children die before the age of five in the highlands of West Papua. According to data from 2012, the under five mortality rate in West Papua is about double the rate in neighbouring Papua New Guinea and about three times the average rate in Indonesia. No country in Asia or the Pacific had such a high rate in that year.

Literacy rates have gone down to less than 20% in remote villages due to reduced access to education. As a result young Papuan women and men have less opportunities to play an active role in public services and to find other employment.

The ongoing influx of transmigrants, the absence of opportunities for young Papuans together with corruption cause a growth of social inequalities, social tensions and frustrations. Many Papuans continue to seek a solution through political aspirations calling for a referendum and support from neighbouring countries in the Pacific.

President Joko Widodo has indicated his intention to change the Indonesian policy towards West Papua. He had announced that he would support an opening of the conflict region to international observers such as journalists and that there is a need to end transmigration programs. While these would present important improvements in the situation, the administration in Jakarta has not supported this approach with real action.

Get The Report from the ICP Website…

About the ICP
Human Rights and Peace for Papua is an international coalition of faith-based and civil society organisations (the Coalition) addressing the serious human rights condition in West Papua and supporting a peaceful solution to the conflict there. West Papua (Papua) refers to the western half of the New Guinea island in the Pacific and comprises the eastern most provinces of Indonesia. Indigenous Papuans are suffering from a long and ongoing history of human rights violations and security forces subject them to violence including killings, torture and arbitrary arrests. Impunity prevails. A lack of adequate access to health care and education as well as demographical and economical marginalisation and discrimination mark the living condition for Papuans. A heavy presence of Indonesian security forces, lack of access for international observers such as journalists, corruption and transmigration from other parts of Indonesia aggravate the situation. Political prisoners and the persecution of political activists shows the extent of repression with which freedom of expression and indigenous peoples’ rights are being violated. Papua’s wealth in natural resources attracts businesses and security forces resulting in exploitation through mining, logging, harmful agricultural projects, and environmental degradation. This dynamic challenges traditional indigenous culture while Papuans demand their right to self-determination.

visit our website at

Our mailing address is:
International Coalition for Papua
Rudolfstr. 137
Wuppertal 42285

USGov: Democracy in Southeast Asia

November 20, 2015

Dear All,

How is it possible to produce a Statement about Democracy in Southeast Asia (including Indonesia) without drawing attention to situation in West Papua where democracy is a mockery?

In West Papua, anyone who raises the Morning Star flag or holds a banner calling for Merdeka (Freedom) is attacked by heavily armed troops of the TNI (Army of Indonesia) or members of the Police Force, is arrested or beaten up for being involved in a peaceful demonstration and exercising the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

On this day, we are welcoming West Papua’s best known political prisoner, Filep Karma who has at last been released after spending more than ten years incarcerated in Abepura. There are still dozens of political prisoners in West Papua who, like Filep Karma, are being held in prisons across the territory for raising the Morning Star flag.

Shame on You!

Carmel Budiardjo, Founder of TAPOL, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, 1995

Democracy in Southeast Asia


Scott Busby
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

James Carouso, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Mainland Southeast Asian Affairs, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy

Washington, DC

November 19, 2015

Human Rights violations in December 2014, a Concern for Komnas Ham

November 19, 2015

Statement by Executive Director of LP3BH

The case of serious human rights violations in Enarotali, District
of Paniai on 8 December 2014 has now become the responsibility of the
National Human Rights Commission (KOMNAS HAM)

The Chief of Police of Papua (Kapolda) of the District of Paniai
Irjen Drs Paulus Waterpauw said this at a recent meeting held in
Jakarta, in response to questions raised by the people in the Land of
Papua, who wanted to know when these violations would be resolved by a
court of law.

According to the community in Paniai and activists, the
responsibility for handling this lies in the hands of the KOMNAS HAM.
This will be a major case in resolving this issue

According to the findings of the preliminary investigations
undertaken by KOMNAS HAM, the conclusions indicate that violations
against a large number of civilians had been perpetrated by members
of the security forces, an issue which needs further investigation.

In view of this, KOMNAS HAM has come to the conclusion that what
happened on that occasion was a very serious violation of human rights
as defined in Article 7 and Article 9 of Law 2/2000 on Human Rights

This means that from this moment, the KOMNAS HAM should act
immediately on this case in Paniai in accordance with the mechanisms
and procedures laid down in above mentioned laws.

According to Article 18, para (1) and para (2) of Law 26/2000 on
Human Rights Courts, this has become the responsibility of KOMNAS HAM
to undertake the investigations by setting up an Ad Hoc Team.

Resolving these Paniai case as well as the numerous other cases of
violations that have occurred during the past fifty years in which
people in Papua became the victims will to some extent improve the
reputation of the Republic of Indonesia in the eyes of the world.

This means that the Government of Indonesian must begin to focus
seriously on the implementation of Articles 44 and 45 of Law 21/2001
on Special Autonomy for the Province of West Papua by setting up
Court on Basic Basic Human rights and a Commission of Truth and
Reconciliation, as well as strengthening the role of KOMNAS HAM in the
Province of Papua and the Province of West Papua.


Yan Christian Warinussy, Lawyer and Defender of Human Rights,
Executive Director of the LP3BH, [Institute of Research, Analysis and
Development of Legal Aid], Manokwari, Recipient of the John Humphreys
Freedom Award, 2005, Canada.

Translated by Carmel Budiardjo, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, 1995

California West Papua December 1 Demonstrations and Flag Raisings

November 18, 2015

California West Papua December 1 demos

San Francisco
Tuesday, December 1 at 3:00pm – 6:00pm in PST
United Nations Plaza 1 United Nations Plz, San Francisco, CA 94102
Come join the OCNC (Oceania Coalition of Northern California); a Pacific Islander social justice organization, in participating in the Global Day of Action for a ‪#‎FREEWESTPAPUA‬!

We will be raising the Morning Star flag in support of our West Papua brothers and sisters, and all those fighting for West Papuan freedom and self-determination, including:

West Papua Action Network

Federal Republic of West Papua (DFAIT)

Free West Papua (London)

Please take part and share the photos on social media to build a truly global picture of the support for a Free West Papua.

"The 1st December marks West Papua’s original independence day when the Morning Star flag was first raised in 1961 before being invaded by Indonesia. The flag is recognised as the national flag of West Papua and continues to be the defining symbol for a Free West Papua. Today, Papuan’s who raise the flag face arrest, torture and long jail sentences. Filep Karma is currently serving 15 years in prison for raising the flag on 1st December 2004. Flag raising ceremonies have been attacked by Indonesian police and military, shots fired into crowds and violently dispersed. Despite this level of repression the Morning Star flag will again be raised by West Papuans this year on 1st December and we want all supporters around the world to join them in a huge show of solidarity and awareness raising."

If you have a Morning Star flag, bring it with you to show the world that you want a #FREEWESTPAPUA!

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November West Papua Report: TNI embeds, fires and smoke, transmigration, Freeport, Melanesian gambit, more

November 17, 2015

West Papua Report
November 2015


This edition’s Perspective discusses the implications for West Papua for the Indonesian military’s continuing effort to re-involve itself in civilian affairs.

Update summarizes the grave problems of toxic smoke from massive fires set by palm oil plantation developers and others across the Indonesian archipelago. For the first time, fires are taking place on a large scale in West Papua. Transmigration continues to undermine West Papuans. The lack of Papuan involvement in the controversial plan to extend Freeport’s mining concession in West Papua is raising concerns. The Indonesian government’s Melanesian gambit meets resistance.

Chronicle announces two important new reports and calls attention to the special problems posed by military repression for Papuan women, We link to Democracy Now! coverage by of President Widodo’s visit to the U.S. The Indonesian Press Council defends press freedom in West Papua. Maire Leadbetter sees hope for West Papua.

Indonesian Military "Re-Enters the Village:" Implications for West Papua
by Ed McWilliams and John M. Miller

The Indonesian military, the TNI, could soon see its power greatly expanded by a Presidential decree now awaiting President Joko Widodo’s signature. The decree would empower the TNI to assume the broad powers in the civilian sphere similar to those it exercised throughout the Suharto dictatorship. The plan was first presented publicly in December 2014 by Defense Minister Ryamizard. Many are concerned that the TNI is returning to pre-1998 reforms and the Suharto era concept of "ABRI Masuk Desa" (the military enters the village) see, West Papua Report for December 2014 . Under this concept, the military can spy on opposition elements and build political support for the regime down to village level.

The plan is part of a series of initiatives to expand TNI involvement in domestic affairs, including the signing of Memorandum of Understandings, and plans to enlist up to 100 million reservists (see below) and expand paramilitaries in border areas..

The plan would formally ending the ruse that the military is subordinate to a civilian defense minister. The draft decree would place the military directly under the President and raise the TNI to ministerial status. This change would formalize the removal of the defense minister from the chain of command and is a defeat for reformers who have struggled for years to make the military accountable to civilian authority.

Dispatches: A Start to Ending Indonesian Military Injustice in Papua

November 17, 2015

NOVEMBER 16, 2015 Dispatches

Dispatches: A Start to Ending Indonesian Military Injustice in Papua

Phelim Kine Deputy Director, Asia Division

Something remarkable happened last week in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province.

A military court convicted two soldiers of murder and aggravated assault for their role in the deaths of two civilians on August 28. The court sentenced First Pvt. Makher Rehatta and Chief Pvt. Gregorius R. Geta to prison terms of 12 years and 3 years respectively. Two other soldiers are still on trial for their role in a case in which the four soldiers, who were allegedly drunk, opened fire with assault rifles on a group of Papuans who were holding a local Thanksgiving ceremony in front of a church in Mimika regency.

The case is notable because the perpetrators face punishment. The Indonesian government, which has deployed military forces in Papua since 1963 to counter a long-simmering independence movement, has for decades restricted official access to foreign media, diplomats, and nongovernmental groups in the province, fostering an environment of impunity for military abuses. Those abuses have often gone unpunished due to technical reasons: the 1997 Law on Military Courts allows investigations of military abuses that lack transparency, independence, and impartiality. But Indonesia has also long failed to properly investigate and prosecute alleged serious human rights abuses by members of its military, and in the rare cases where soldiers have been convicted by a military court, the sentences have been extremely lenient.

So last week’s convictions are good news, but at best a start. December 8 marks the one-year anniversary of the killings of five protesters in Papua’s remote town of Enarotali. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces there fatally shot five peopleduring a peaceful protest sparked by the beating of several children by some soldiers the previous evening.

But one year later, those who killed those demonstrators remain at large. That’s despite the fact that there have been three separate official investigations into the shootings: by the police, by the national human rights commission, and by an informal military-and-police effort. The military has not cooperated with the national human rights commission inquiry, and the 1997 law blocks civilian investigators from access to military personnel at the scene of crimes. Not one of those investigations has made public their findings.

That’s not good enough. Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo told Papuans three weeks after the killings that he wanted the shooting “solved immediately so it won’t ever happen again in the future … as well as to find the root of the problems.” The failure of Jokowi’s government to keep this promise prompted an unprecedented statement from Papua’s Catholic diocese in July, demanding justice for Enarotali’s victims. Until Jokowi releases the results of those three probes and ensures all those responsible are prosecuted, military injustice in Papua will remain alive and well.


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