Pacific Scoop

Papuan human rights advocates accuse Australia over military repression

Indonesian troops

About 650 Indonesian troops from Battalion 142 are being deployed from Palembang to Paniai in West Papua. They are pictured boarding their troop ship last week. Photo: West Papua Media

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Alex Rayfield

Human rights defenders in West Papua have accused the Australian government and an Australian-owned mining company, Paniai Gold, of being involved in ongoing repressive military operations in West Papua.

Ferry Marisan has alleged that the Australian-trained Indonesian counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88 (also known as Densus 88 or D88), is involved in ongoing military operations in Paniai.

Marisan, director of Elsham Papua – the Institute for the Study and Advocacy of Human Rights in West Papua, claimed the  joint police and military D88 unit has been embedded in the Second “Coconut” (Kelapa Dua) paramilitary Police Force (Brimob) sent from West Java for military operations against suspected members of the West Papua Liberation Army (or TPN), based at Eduda, Paniai.

According to Yones Douw, a human rights defender based in Paniai, D88 are currently being deployed against members of the TPN in a jungle warfare operation.

John Yogi, the Paniai based commander of the TPN, and his men, believed to number a few dozen, fled into the jungle following an attack on his base in Eduda by the Indonesian military and police between the December 12-15.

Marisan said that in total 30 people had died during the latest round of violence in Paniai.

Seventeen people were shot dead during the military operations in Eduda.  Only 10 of these victims were members of the TPN, according to Marisan.   Between December 9-14 a further three people died, all from exposure-related sickness.

Among the dead were two children aged two and four. Prior to the military operations Brimob also shot dead eight Papuans. Yogi’s men responded by killing two Brimob soldiers, an event that triggered the recent military operations.

Six villages burnt
In addition Elsham Papua reports that the following six villages were burnt to the ground: Toko, Badawo, Dogouto, Obayoweta, Dey, and Wamanik.

As a result of the violence Marisan says that up to 20,000 people have fled their homes.

“They are living in government care centres, or staying with family and friends.  Many have also fled to the forest,” said Marisan.

SBS Radio reported that a spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that the “Australian government does not train or fund Indonesia’s security forces to counter separatism”.

Irrespective of the training that both the Australian and US governments say they provide to D88 , both Douw and Marisan claimed that the group is being used in military operations against so-called separatists.

“Many of the victims in these operations are not members of the TPN; they are ordinary Papuan villagers who are supposed to be protected by the state,” said Marisan.

D88 was also allegedly involved in the killing of six Papuans at the conclusion of the Third Papuan Congress on October 19.

D88 is not the only link between Australia and the recent wave of violence.

Helicopter attacks
According to both Douw and Marisan, helicopters used at the Derewo River Gold (DRG) project were used by the military and police in these latest military operations.

DRG is operated by Paniai Gold, a fully owned subsidiary of Melbourne based gold mining company West Wits Mining.

A local source, requesting anonymity, told West Papua Media that the helicopters are those used by the mining company.

“They are white with blue and red markings” the sources said. “They are definitely mining company helicopters.”

The person responsible for Paniai Gold’s operations is Vincent Savage, a non-executive director of West Wits.

According to publicly available company documents, “Savage has been intimately involved in all governmental and regulatory issues involving the Derewo River Gold Project as well as working closely with the Company’s local Indonesian partners”.

These same documents state that “security [for the DRG Project] will be provided by the local Paniai police and Brimob (Indonesian paramilitary police) under the supervision of a company security officer”.

Widespread operations
West Papua Media attempted to contact Savage for comment, but he was not available.

The 2011 November-December military operations are not the first military operations in the area. Paniai was the scene of widespread military operations between 1963-1969, 1977-1978, and again in 1981-1982.

During this period, US supplied Bronco aircraft were used to bomb villages while helicopters strafed Papuans with machine gun fire.

“People don’t forget these things easily” said Douw.

Source: West Papua Media

SBS: Indonesian helicopters stafe  Papuans: claim  –


1 comment:

  1. Dale Lanan, 22. December 2011, 7:39

    It looks like the ‘war on terror’ is in actuality a ‘war on separatism’ or whatever could disrupt the flow of money and access to extraction of natural resources around the world.. The protection of that flow and protecting natural resource extraction seems to cross borders and span times when government changes hands not only in Papua but largely around the whole world..
    The merger of corporate with government is evident in the mining and exploitation of Western half of island of New Guinea and the reluctance of large countries to accept the plea of a people for justice, to have voice heard before a real International Court of Justice..
    Indonesia wants to speed up development vastly in Papua and union settled in mining dispute yet more than 650 troops war on separatism.
    Troops with embedded elements of foreign trained special forces..
    The people of Papua; Are they not a union? Union should have say..