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West Papua Report May 2010

May 4, 2010

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. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) Back issues are posted online at edmcw.


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

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). 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.)

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