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Summary of events in West Papua for March 2015

April 6, 2015

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088

Summary of events in West Papua for March 2015 beginning April

KNPB targeted again.

Throughout the week (11 to 18 March) the Yahukimo Regional Branch of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) held a fundraising campaign in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). On the morning of Thursday 19 March, as preparations were underway for the closing ceremony in Dekai, Yahukimo regency the Yahukimo District Police and a mobile brigade arrived and started tearing down the stage, confiscating KNPB banners, megaphones, speakers, microphones and cameras. They used force to disband the crowd. According to the police the organisers did not have a permit to hold the event. The crowd became angry at the heavy -handed approach by the security forces and in the melee that followed Brimob members fired at the crowd resulting in one person killed and 3 wounded. AWPA release at

The Papuan Police Chief, Inspector General (Pol) Yotje Mende said that the KNPB should be banned, as it is not an official organisation, it’s an underground organization. The spokesperson for the KNPB Bazooka Logo rejected the claim. Jubi reported that approximately 200 students from Yahukimo held a peaceful protest in front of the Papua Parliament Office on Monday (30/3/2015). The protestors, who called themselves the Yahukimo Student Community, urged the Papua legislative council to form a team to investigate the violence that occurred in Yahukimo during the KNPB’s fundraising event. Protest coordinator Olmek Nawa said the students wanted their representatives and NGOs to be involved in such a team and that the Papua Legislative Council should urge the Yahukimo Police Chief’s removal as he could not control his officers.

Because of the strong connection between the people of Vanuatu and West Papua, the West Papuan people organized fund raising activities for the people of Vanuatu because of the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam. It is tragic that even humanitarian activities are seen as a threat by the security forces who stopped and arrested three people who were coordinating the activity. KNPB Spokesperson Bazoka Logo told reporters in Abepura that the Papua Mobile Brigade under the command of Yahukimo Police Chief Adjunct Police Commissionaire Ade Djaja Subagja raided the KNPB secretariat in Dekai and during the raid residential houses near the secretariat were also ransacked and damaged and that in the operation the officers also seized people’s money.

Solidarity meeting in Brisbane.

Over 40 delegates representing 13 West Papuan solidarity groups from across Australia and Aotearoa, New Zealand met in Brisbane (28-29 March) with three leaders of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). Benny Wenda, Octovianus Mote and Rex Rumakiek were in Brisbane to brief the solidarity groups on the progress of UNLMWP and to network and develop resources for the campaign for ULMPW to gain full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) for West Papua. The meeting was hosted by the solidarity group in Brisbane. Media release at

The West Papuan leaders and solidarity groups also joined in the Palm Sunday rally which had a peace and a refugee theme. Benny Wenda was a guest speaker at the rally. Photos at

Melanesian Anglicans co-launch group advocating West Papua freedom

Support for West Papua by church and civil society groups continues to grow in the pacific region A one day consultation to discuss and highlight issues concerning West Papua’s struggle for freedom and independence from Indonesia on Friday 20th March 2015, led to the formation of the “Solomon Islands Solidarity for West Papua Freedom”. The consultation was jointly organized and hosted by the Pacific Council of Churches (PCC) and the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) and was held at the Melanesia Haus, St. Barnabas Cathedral grounds, in Honiara.

The Methodist Church in Fiji also supports West Papua.. Approximately 50 Methodist Church heads of divisions signed the solidarity movement for West Papua’s petition at Suva’s Centenary Church in support of the call for the freedom of the natives of West Papua. This petition drive headed by the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy would be handed to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the end of April.

Benny Wenda detained in PNG

Before arriving in Australia Benny Wenda was detained by immigration officials in Port Moresby due to technical issues. Benny’s intention had been to thank the PNG people and government for their support for the West Papuan issue. Mr Wenda confirmed that there were technical issues leading to his detention and it had nothing to do with politics. "The government of Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister himself, has already stated that West Papua is their family so based on that we strongly believe that the government level already supports West Papua. Also now the building of the grassroots level to support West Papua bringing into the Melanesian family but my deportation has nothing to do with this movement." (RNZI 27 March)

The PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in an interview said that the former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had told him he would reduce troop numbers stationed in West Papua. The PNG Prime Minister told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that Mr Yudhoyono had discussed this intention with him during a bilateral meeting when the PNG prime minister was in Indonesia for a state visit. He said he hoped current president Joko Widodo would keep the former leader’s promise. "We will try and hold the Indonesian government to that, to make sure that the current government also has the same view about a reduction of presence of military on the island, and of course more autonomy for the people of West Papua,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.(Note. for all the minor hiccups in the PNG -West Papuan relationship, it should always be remembered that the people and government of PNG have been good friends to the West Papuan people accepting large numbers of West Papuan refugees in their country).

Launch the PNG Union for Free West Papua (PNGUFWP)

The Hon Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro Province launched the PNG Union for Free West Papua (PNGUFWP) on the 3 April Port Moresby.

Extract from the Hon Gary Juffa’s statement on the launch. “The event is that of the actual launching of our small but powerful organization PNG Union for Free West Papua. Our effort does not counter any of the other movements created in existence and also working for the Freedom of our people of West Papua, our organization is focused on the fundamental belief that the people of West Papua, are a free people living imprisoned on their own land…and MUST be FREE…we are supported by Partners with Melanesia and Protection of Human Rights West Papua Movement”.

As mentioned before this growing support for West Papua in the region is causing concern in Jakarta. At the end of February the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi visited three Pacific countries, PNG, Solomon Islands, and Fiji, to strengthen relations between Indonesia and the Pacific nations. Antara News reported that in 2013, Indonesia committed to donate US$20 million to the Pacific countries to be used in various fields. RNZI (13 March) reported that the Foreign Ministers from Fiji and Indonesia recently agreed to have greater cooperation in relation to United Nations peacekeeping forces of both countries. As part of this, Fiji peacekeepers are to undergo training at a centre in Indonesia. Mr Baledrokadroka says Indonesia’s military has extensive peacekeeping experience and that training with them is a natural progression.

News in brief

Amnesty International (AI) released an urgent action (26 March) concerning four students, three of them children who were arbitrarily detained and tortured or otherwise ill-treated by police on 18 March 2015, according to their lawyer.

We urge people to respond to Amnesty’s recommendations writing letters of concern. Indonesia: Four students in danger after police torture

According to Amnesty Eldi Kogoya, aged 17, Timotius Tabuni, aged 17 and Lesman Jigibalom, aged 23, were going home, on their motorcycles, on the night of 18 March, when they were followed and stopped by plainclothes armed members of a special police unit, the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob), near the Cigombong market in Jayapura city, Papua province. When they asked why they were being detained the police accused them of committing a crime and at least 11 Brimob officers stabbed, beat, punched and kicked them. A fourth student, Mies Tabo, aged 14, who was nearby and witnessed the attack, called out for help but was kicked, slapped and threatened by the police to stay silent. All four were then dragged along the road to the nearby Brimob headquarters. They were detained there briefly before being sent to hospital. All four have been released without charge.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu renews call for UN review of West Papuan self-determination

On 27th February 2015 Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu met with West Papuan independence leader and founder of the Free West Papua Campaign, Benny Wenda, in Cape Town, South Africa. He has released the following statement renewing his call for the UN to instigate an investigation into the so-called Act of ‘Free’ Choice in which Indonesia unlawfully annexed West Papua in 1969. “I’m shocked to learn that West Papua is still not free. I didn’t think that things like this still happened. I call on the United Nations and all the relevant bodies, please, do what is right, as they know, for West Papua.” “We can’t have some people in the world free and others not free. As long as there is one person not free, we are all not free.” “I am very, very distressed and pray that Indonesia and other countries will do what is right, because it is not their (West Papua’s) gift, it is their right as the children of god.” Full release at

Papuans behind bars

At the end of February 2015, there were at least 38 political prisoners in Papuan jails. The latest update raises concerns about the legal process for Areki Wanimbo and the case of the Pisugi Election Boycott detainees which were fraught with irregularities. The Pisugi detainees were forced to confess and sign fabricated police investigation reports. Full report at

Media restrictions in Papua underscore Indonesia’s wider problems

In a media statement the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) pointed out that with more than 50 years of restricted media access, West Papua is one of the least covered armed conflicts in the world and “Without open media access in the Papua and West Papua provinces, alleged abuses by security forces operating without media scrutiny will hound any bid by President Joko Widodo to bring peace and prosperity to the resource-rich region: a promise he made on assuming office in October”.

Editorial: Sunshine Needed on Sweetheart Deals

By Jakarta Globe Mar 04, 2015

The government needs to explain clearly and honestly why it wants to allow miners to renew contracts more than two years before they expire. Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said’s recent suggestion that contracts ought to be extended up to 10 years before their expiry makes little sense. Such a move seems to only satisfy demands from Freeport-McMoRan, which has announced that it would proceed with its plan to invest a total of $17 billion to turn its Grasberg copper and gold mining complex into the world’s biggest underground mine after 2016, while also building a copper smelter in Gresik, East Java. Freeport’s current deal is due to expire in 2021. The government should not be under pressure to quickly extend Freeport’s contract just because it has announced to invest big and build a smelter. While we should welcome foreign investment, especially as huge as Freeport’s, and we agree that every company needs certainty on its investment, it’s the government’s duty to review carefully and comprehensively whether the investment really benefits the country and its people as a whole — in this case because it’s in Papua, the native Papuans. Contract extensions as big as Freeport’s have always been a controversial issue among the public. We are not demanding the contract not be extended; we simply want transparency. Despite Freeport’s claims that it has contributed trillions of rupiah directly and indirectly — on top of the government’s disbursement of trillions in special autonomy funds over the years — the big question remains: Why are Papuans still among Indonesia’s poorest, despite these huge investments? Where has the money gone? Only honesty and transparency will quash suspicion surrounding Freeport’s renewed contract.

Legislators urge Papua Police to Complete Paniai Case Mar 24th, 2015

Timika, Jubi / Antara- A legislator urged the Papua Police to thoroughly investigate the shooting case of a number of civilians in Paniai on December 8, 2014. The deputy chairman of House of Representatives’ Commission III, Benny K Harman, made the statement during a working visit to Jayapura to the Papua police chief, Inspector General of Police Yotje Mende. 
“We urge the police chief to fully investigate it. Anyone who is allegedly involved must be prosecuted legally and imposed severe penalties, ” he said in Timika on Sunday (22/03/2015)

Mende said the police would continue to investigate the case even though the perpetrators have not been caught. Previously, the Forum of the Papua Ecumenical Churches urged President Joko Widodo to immediately establish a Commission of Inquiry and Investigation (KPP HAM). 
“It is been the fourth month since the shooter has not been revealed and seems like the investigation has not shown any progress, “chairman of the Synod Fellowship Baptist Churches in Papua Socrates Soyan Nyoman added. Therefore, churches in Papua urged Jokowi to immediately form KPP HAM, because the incident is serious human rights violations. “We ask the President to seriously uncover Paniai case, by forming KPP HAM with a mandate to examine all the parties involved, and it must be carried out before the President visit Papua again, “Nyoman said. He also pointed out that there was an indication of officers to intentionally protect its members and even seemed like in internal security forces did not the identity of two people who were on duty in the top of Enarotali Airport tower. Chairman of the Synod Kingmi, Benny Giay, also urged President Jokowi to appoint a person to act as a mediator in order to create dialogue Papua-Jakarta.

Indonesia criticised by UN over Papua torture

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture has criticised the Indonesian government’s breakup of demonstrations in West Papua last year, saying it breached international conventions on torture. In a report tabled in Geneva overnight, the rapporteur, Juan Mendez, says two student demonstrators, Alfares Kapisa and Yali Wenda were arrested and tortured in Jayapura in April during the violent breakup of a protest. Jakarta did not respond to communication from the office. The report says there is substance to the pair’s allegations and the Government of Indonesia has failed to protect Mr Kapisa and Mr Wenda from torture and inhuman treatment. (RNZI 10 March)

JDP To Facilitate Papua Internal Dialogue Mar 23rd, 2015

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua Peace Network (JDP) coordinator Dr. Neles Tebay said as a mediator JDP will facilitate internal dialogue among Papuans to prepare for talks with Jakarta proposed by President Joko Widodo. “Based on schedule, the Papuan internal dialogue will be held in Papua in August 2015,” Tebay told reporters at Fajar Timur Theologian College, Padang Bulan Abepura last week. According to him, the president’s commitment to promote Papua as Peaceful Land and to resolve conflicts through a dialogue showed the government has changed its stance on Papua. “So, Jakarta-Papua Dialogue will lead to the establishment of peace in Papua. It means its agenda is to grow peace in Tanah Papua,” he said. He further said Papuan residents in Papua should welcome the government’s openness with joy. The government’s commitment is a golden opportunity provided by government to discuss a peace development in Papua through a process of dialogue. “To welcome this opportunity, JDP took the initiative to facilitate the Papuan internal dialogue as a preparation ahead to Jakarta-Papua dialogue because we believed it’s very important to be held in order answering the Papuans’ aspiration,” Tebay told reporters. “Papuan internal dialogue would be held to involve the entire elements of Papuans to discuss about the concept of Peace Papua and to define a purpose of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua according to Papuans. Within this dialogue, people’s aspiration will be asked and consulted, therefore they would feel to be involved in the effort to develop Peace Papua through dialogue,” Tebay said. Meanwhile, the Indonesian President Joko Widodo in his visit to Papua in December 2014, he confirm his commitment to develop Papua as Peaceful land and resolve many conflicts in Papua through a dialogue. (Arnold Belau/rom)

Member of armed group shot dead in Puncak Jaya

Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Tue, March 31 2015 Agustinus Tabuni, a 24-year-old local identified as a member of an armed criminal group led by Militer Murib, was shot dead when a number of Indonesian Military and National Police personnel conducted a patrol in Kampung Jenggernok, Gome district, Puncak Jaya, around 10 a.m. local time on Tuesday. “A joint team comprising 30 police and military personnel led by Adj. Comr. Syahwal Halim was conducting a patrol in Kampung Gome when they spotted three people carrying Mauser and revolver rifles,” said Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Com. Rudolf Patrick in Jayapura on Tuesday. “The team then pursued the three armed people. Two people fled while one suspect was shot as he attempted to shoot two police personnel involved in the patrol,” he went on. Security personnel confiscated one revolver, 12 bullets with a caliber of 7.62 x 51 mm and two bullets with a caliber of 3.8 mm. Rudolf said the Gome district head who was with the patrol managed to recognize the man that was shot. “Both Gome district head and village officers joining the patrol confirmed that the dead victim was Agustinus Tabuni, a member of the Militer Murib group,” he said. After the identification process, Agustinus was cremated in a procession held at the site of the incident, and witnessed by the Gome district head and village officers. (dyl/ebf)(++++)

Member of armed civilian group in Puncak Jaya arrested

(Extract from The Jakarta Post, Jayapura March 25 2015)

Officers of the Puncak Jaya Police arrested Lanus Murib, 24, an alleged member of the armed civilian group Militer Murib from Gome, in a kiosk in Ilaga district, Puncak Jaya, on Tuesday. “At around 7:10 a.m. local time on Tuesday, the police arrested an alleged member of the Gome armed criminal group led by Militer Murib on the terrace of the HH Kiosk in Kampung Kago, Ilaga district, Puncak Jaya regency,” Puncak Jaya Police chief Adj.Sr.Comr.Marselis told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. He said a Papua Police special team led by Adj.Sr.Comr Budi Basra had been closely watching the suspect before the arrest. “Earlier, the special police team had received reports about the suspect and his weapons. They later conducted an espionage operation and arrested him in a raid,” he said.

Number of Native Papuans Drop to 40 Percent in Merauke Mar 25th, 2015

Merauke, Jubi – Merauke Regent Romanus Mbaraka said non-native Papuans now account for 60 percent of the regency’s population, while indigenous people make up the rest. The majority of native Papuans live in the villages and some of them are on the Kimaam island, he said.
“We must not allow Papuans to live as it is. We need to motivate and encourage them continuously,” Merauke regent said on Saturday (03/21/2015). Therefore, One of the programs to improve Papuans’ live is by distributing hundreds of millions rupiah to the villages.
“I also want to thank the people of Tanimbar who have entered in this area and have provide guidance and ongoing motivation to Papuans, “he said. Chairman of Tanimbar fellowship, Soleman Jambormias added, in any event, it has always built good communication with all the Tanimbar here in order to motivate Papuans to work and to encourage their children to pursue education to a higher level. (Frans L Kobun/ Tina)

Jubi (25 March) also reported that the number of villages in Papua had increased significantly according to the new Home Affairs Ministry data. There are 524 districts, 107 sub-districts and 5,118 villages in Papua. The Earlier data from the ministry indicated there were 467 districts, 90 sub-districts and 4,766 villages.
“Some of new villages are in Lanny Jaya and in Keerom,” the head of Governance of Papua province, Sendius Wonda told reporters in Jayapura, Papua on Monday (03/23/2015).

Freeport’s Indonesia Grasberg Copper Mine Opens After 5-Day Blockade

Jakarta Globe. By Andrew Janes Mar 23, 2015

Freeport McMoRan’s Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia, the world’s second-largest for the metal by capacity, reopened Saturday after a worker roadblock stopped production for five days and helped push the metal’s price to a two-month high. Access to the site, located in the mountains in Papua province in eastern Indonesia, was restored this morning and normal operations are resuming, Daisy Primayanti, a spokeswoman at Freeport Indonesia, said in a phone interview. The roadblock has been cleared, said Juli Parorrongan, a spokesman for the Freeport Indonesia workers’ union. “The union has said to the workers that they should go back to work,” she confirmed on Saturday. Grasberg has been plagued by labor strife in recent years. Workers seeking higher wages held a strike in 2011 and the mine was closed for months following a tunnel collapse in 2013. The protesters, who the union said numbered around 100 on Friday, had been demanding bonuses as an incentive for not taking part in a work stoppage last year. Shipments of concentrates from stockpiles continued during the closure. Copper for delivery in three months rose 3.3 percent to $6,045 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange on Friday, following a 3.3 percent advance the day before. The metal touched $6,082.5 on Friday, the highest since Jan. 12. Freeport Indonesia didn’t reach any agreement with the workers on their demands and dialog is continuing, spokeswoman Primayanti said. Shares of Phoenix-based Freeport, the largest US miner, rebounded 6.7 percent in New York on Friday to close at $18.41, recouping a 5.3 percent loss on Thursday. Bloomberg

Opinion pieces/reports/press releases etc.

Tony Abbott has an Indonesian problem he doesn’t want to talk about

The Price of Protest in West Papua

published in the Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity (Vol 3 issue 1)

Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity!volume-3-issue-1/c1z2j

West Papua: Melanesian Spearhead Group has a tough decision to make

New book. Merdeka: Hostages, Freedom and Flying Pigs in West Papua

Addressing the Papua issue in the Pacific

In Indonesia, local communities lose out as oil palm expands

Kamoro people take a stand against Freeport smelter plans

Pacific Institute of Public Policy. launch of new look website

West Papua Return.

Australian taxpayers are paying millions for Indonesian military officers to study Down Under

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