Press Release – East Timor and Indonesia Action Network – ETAN
Perspective: Genocide in West Papua by Malign Neglect Update • Indonesian Security Forces Attack Peaceful Political Rallies Across West Papua • KontraS Says Scores of Violent Acts Have “Engulfed” West Papua • Military Sweep Operations …West Papua Report
Perspective: Genocide in West Papua by Malign Neglect
• Indonesian Security Forces Attack Peaceful Political Rallies Across West Papua
• KontraS Says Scores of Violent Acts Have “Engulfed” West Papua
• Military Sweep Operations Again Force Flight of Civilians
• Indonesia Fails to Meet Basic Papuan Health Needs
• The Need to Empower Papuan Women
• Indonesia Seeks to Deny Obligations to Indigenous by Claiming They Don’t Exist
• Tapol: “Britain and Indonesia: Too close for comfort?”
• Survival International Condemns UK Plans to Honor Yudhoyono
• CSW: Indonesia Must Address Human Rights Violations
• Amnesty International: End Police Violence against Demonstrators in Papua
• End Violence against Papuan Journalists
Genocide in West Papua by Malign Neglect
by Edmund McWilliams
The “Perspective” article carried in the October 2012 edition of the West Papua Report made a strong case that the Indonesian government is culpable of genocide in West Papua. The analysis persuasively argued that the brutal repression carried out in West Papua for decades by Indonesian security forces has been responsible for the death of at least 100,000 Papuans. Moreover, the nearly constant “sweeping operations” carried out by the Indonesian military, police, and special units such as “Detachment 88” have driven villagers, especially in the rural highlands, into the jungles where many have died as a consequence of lack of food, shelter and access to medical care. Indonesian security forces standard refusal to allow humanitarian relief into areas affected by their military campaigns has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis generated by those operations. The analysis also cited demographic evidence, including population growth comparisons with Papua New Guinea, that strongly suggested that the genocidal consequences of nearly 50 years of Indonesian occupation of West Papua may amount to many hundreds of thousands of Papuans lost.
Jakarta’s deliberate, pernicious policies in West Papua also have been especially harmful in the sphere of “development” in West Papua. Even before Jakarta assumed full and formal control of West Papua under the guise of the fraudulent “Act of Free Choice” whereby Papuan suffrage was denied, Jakarta had begun its decades-long, exploitative collusion with U.S. and other corporations targeting Papuan resources. Beginning in 1967 and its infamous deals with Freeport McMoRan, the Indonesian government has pursued a plan of systematic exploitation of Papuan natural resources. That exploitation, in the forestry sector, fishing, mining, and oil development have invariably been at the cost of ecological concerns and the rights and welfare of Papuans. Forests which had sustained many generations of Papuans were destroyed, often by the Indonesian military, which garners great wealth that enables it to evade civilian budgetary control.
The Indonesian navy has colluded with foreign fishing interests allowing the use of illegal drag nets in Papuan waters which have devastated offshore fishing grounds. Mining, particularly by Freeport McMoRan, has destroyed entire riverine systems (e.g. the Ajkwa) with tailings that pollute food and water resources and destroy forests, including the sago palm, a vital food source for the Amunge in the Timika area.
There can be no doubt that the impact of five decades of Indonesia’s colonial approach in West Papua has been devastating for at east two generations of Papuans. Under Jakarta’s rule, hundreds of thousands of “transmigrants” have been settled in West Papua. These transmigrants were often victims of Jakarta’s “development” policies, uprooted from their villages elsewhere in the archipelago to make room for developments schemes by cronies and generals of the Suharto dictatorship. Under Suharto and successor regimes, the transmigrants resettled in West Papua (and in other areas such as West Kalimantan and Sumatra) received preferential treatment vis-à-vis the original people already occupying those lands. In West Papua, Jakarta’s transmigration policies deliberately marginalized local Papuans, often forcing Papuans off productive land that Papuans had called home for many generations with minimal or no compensation. Traditional land rights were, and continue to be largely ignored. The flow of government monies to West Papua was diverted from indigenous Papuans and directed instead to development of facilities to assist transmigrant settlement. Similarly, business licenses and government contracts were extended to transmigrant businesses in a manner that routinely accorded non-Papuans commercial advantages that inevitably deepened the marginalization of Papuans.
But the Indonesian government’s deliberate marginalization of the Papuan people has extended far beyond this commercial and development favoritism. Since coercively annexing West Papua, Jakarta has directed most of its resources in the area of medical and educational infrastructure to the cities and towns of West Papua where transmigrants have clustered. As a result, Papuans living in rural areas desperately lack access to adequate medical facilities and personnel, and to education. Statistics developed by the United Nations and the Indonesian government over decades reveal that rural areas, where the majority of Papuans live, are among the worst served populations in Indonesia.
This malign neglect, even more than the devastating impact of direct military assault, appears to account for genocidal impact of Indonesian rule for the last five decades.
The United Nations, ASEAN, and foreign governments have been complicit in the genocidal approach adopted by Jakarta toward West Papua by virtue of their silence in the face of decades of suffering inflicted on the Papuan people. Especially complicit are those governments, such as the U.S., Australia, and the UK, which have enabled the brutal Indonesian security forces through the provision of weapons and military training.
Indonesian Security Forces Attack Peaceful Political Rallies Across West Papua
According to various reports, Indonesian security forces attacked peaceful political rallies in several cities on October 23. The worst attacks took place in Manokwari where four people were shot by Indonesian army personnel and many others were beaten. The daily JUBI reported on October 24 that in the repressive action in Manokwari, security officials arrested eleven students, some of whom were injured. Other rallies, which like those in Manokwari, also called for Papuan independence, were organized October 23 in Jayapura, Fak Fak, Biak, Sorong, Timika, Merauke and Yahukimo. The rallies were organized by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB).
KontraS Says Scores of Violent Acts Have “Engulfed” West Papua
An October 29 JUBI report translated by TAPOL, notes that KontraS, the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence reported that from January to October as many as 81 acts of violence occurred in Papua. Thirty-one people died as a result of their injuries. KontraS believes that since January scores of acts of violence have engulfed Papua and that there are serious restrictions to democracy in Papua. “It is a serious challenge for civil society to criticize the policy being pursued by the government,” said KontraS.
Military Sweep Operations Again Force Flight of Civilians
A “special investigation” by West Papua Media revealed that as of mid-October, Indonesian security forces were intensifying sweep operations targeting villages in the vicinity of the Papuan Central Highlands town of Wamena. The sweeps reportedly forced hundreds of villagers to flee into the surrounding forests, where some have sought refuge with pro-independence guerrillas in the nearby mountains. The special so-called anti-terror “Densus 88,” widely accused of human rights violations, reportedly is involved in the sweeps. Activists from the pro-independence West Papua National Committee (KNPB) are reportedly being targeted by heavily armed police and soldiers who are cruising the districts surrounding Wamena detaining civilians suspected of having affiliation with the KNPB.
WPAT Comment: The Indonesian government has an obligation to meet the humanitarian needs of those civilians who have been displaced by security force operations. It is also imperative that Indonesian forces not target those guerilla camps which now include displaced civilians.
Indonesia Fails to Meet Basic Papuan Health Needs
A report published in JUBI, October 22, reported that the Indonesian Health Service said that there are only one thousand villages (kampungs) in West Papua that have medical clinics. Approximately 2,600 kampungs have no government clinics. According to Josef Rinta, head of the Health Service, the absence of clinics in over two thirds of West Papua’s rural villages is die to a lack of medical personnel.
In a commentary which accompanied TAPOL’s translation of this report, the widely respected human rights organization said: “This dreadful lack of such a basically important service has persisted for so long in a territory that is endowed with hugely-profitable natural resources which provide the Indonesian government with huge earnings year on year in taxes, dividends and revenue from the profits of the US-owned Freeport mine which mines gold and copper in West Papua and the British owned Tangguh LNG natural gas project.”
The Need to Empower Papuan Women
Bintang Papua reports that a Papuan woman, speaking on behalf of the Women’s Caucus in the Majelis Rakyat Papua (MPR), the upper house of the Papuan parliament) called for the empowerment of Papuan women. Ibu Rode Ros Muyasin said that indigenous Papuan women are as capable as Papuan men. However, the problem is that they have never been given the space to display their capabilities. For example, although a quota has been set for women to occupy 30% of the seats in the legislature, this quota has never been achieved. She said that because women extremely rarely occupy positions of strategic importance, either in government or elsewhere, they have not had the opportunity to show their capabilities. She went on to say dirty tricks make it very difficult for women to compete with men. She called on all elements in society to foster the involvement of women. The Special Autonomy Law for Papua endorses the principles of protection, support and empowerment of indigenous Papuan women.
Instead of a quota of 30% women in the legislature, she said justice requires that this should be 50%. Women’s position within the special eleven extra seats in the legislature is also not at all clear. She urged all people in Papua to make sure that women enjoy the same proportionate role as men. “There must be an end to gender discrimination, to the continuing stigmatization of Papuan women as being of incapable.”
WPAT Comment: One of the original conceptions of the MPR was that it would provide space for women’s voices than would the elected lower house of parliament.
Indonesia Denies Obligations to Indigenous by Claiming They Don’t Exist
The UN Human Rights Commission’s periodic review of Indonesia recommended that it consider ratifying International Labor Organization Convention 169, an international standard for indigenous and tribal peoples. It also recommended that Indonesia secure the rights of its indigenous peoples, especially to their traditional lands, territories and resources. The recommendations grew out of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of human rights required of every UN member state.
The government of Indonesia’s responded that there were no indigenous peoples living in the country. In its response, Indonesia claimed that “The Government of Indonesia supports the promotion and protection of indigenous people worldwide. Given its demographic composition, Indonesia, however, does not recognize the application of the indigenous people concept as defined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the country.” While Indonesia is a signatory to the Declaration, the government argues that all Indonesians (with the exception of the ethnic Chinese) are indigenous, entitled to the same rights. The government does recognize 365 distinct ethnic and sub-ethnic groups, but defines them as komunitas adat terpencil, (geographically-isolated customary law communities). Approximately, 1.1 million people out of a total population of more than 240 million belong to these groups. However, the national organization of indigenous peoples Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), which prefers to refer to indigenous peoples by the term masyarakat adat (traditional communities), estimates that Indonesia is home approximately 50 million indigenous and tribal people.
Appeals, Alerts, Statements:
Background statements issued by various organizations on the occasion of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s state visit to London, from October 31 to November 2, 2012 are collected by the NGO Forum for Indonesia and Timor-Leste here (PDF file). http://www.tapol.org/reports/Rights_Violations_Overshadow_Presidential_Visit.pdf
Tapol: “Britain and Indonesia: Too close for comfort?”
A TAPOL media release on the occasion of President Yudhoyono’s visit to Britain raised fundamental questions about the Indonesian-UK relationship. TAPOL called for “immediate ban on the sale to Indonesia of any military equipment that may be used for internal repression,” and a review of British-funded training of Indonesia’s notorious so-called anti-terror police, Densus 88, or Detachment 88. The unit, formed after the Bali bombings in 2002 to combat terrorism (with U.S. support), “is reportedly being deployed to tackle other issues, such as alleged separatism in Indonesia’s conflict-affected provinces. Local civil society monitors say Densus 88 is being used to crack down on the Papuan independence movement, and the unit has been implicated in the assassination of its leaders, such as Mako Tabuni, who was shot dead in June this year,” wrote Tapol (see July 2012 WPAT Report ).
TAPOL’s release also announced an October 31 demonstration “on behalf of human rights victims.” TAPOL Coordinator Paul Barber criticized plans for the UK to honor Yudhoyono, calling it “a gross affront to those who have suffered violations at the hands of successive Indonesian governments.”
Survival International Condemns UK Plans to Honor Yudhoyono
Survival International joined other human rights groups in condemning the visit of Indonesian President Yudhoyono to Britain. Director Stephen Corry said “Reports on the Indonesian government’s torture and killing of West Papuan tribespeople make grim reading. It’s extremely alarming that British taxpayers are funding a special forces unit accused of atrocious human rights abuses against West Papuan tribespeople. We’re urging David Cameron to challenge the Indonesian President on his country’s abysmal human rights record.”
CSW: Indonesia Must Address Human Rights Violations
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) urged the UK government to raise concerns over religious intolerance and other human rights violations in Indonesia with President Yudhoyono. In a letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, CSW called for pressure to be put on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to protect the rights of religious minorities and defend the rule of law.
The organization warned that Indonesian democracy could be undermined if human rights violations in West Papua are not addressed. The Indonesian president should follow the recommendations of the Papua Road Map and enter into dialogue with the Papuans.
Amnesty International: End Police Violence against Demonstrators in Papua
On October 25, Amnesty International urged Indonesia to end police violence in West Papua. AI noted that a pro-independence protest in Manokwari, Papua on October 23 was violently attacked by the Indonesian security forces. Four demonstrators were shot by the police when they opened fire at a gathering of some 300 protesters outside the local university. A few protesters had thrown stones. At least seven additional people were injured. At least five police officers also suffered injuries.
“It is unacceptable that people who have gathered for a protest should have to fear for their lives. The indiscriminate use of firearms and excessive force against protesters by the security forces has to stop — it is a violation of international law.” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director. “This incident warrants an immediate investigation and a thorough review of police tactics during policing of demonstrations.”
End the Violence against Papuan Journalists
Pantau Foundation and Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) issued a statement condemning a police attack on Papuan journalist Oktovianus Pogau, a reporter with Suara Papua and a contributor to the Yayasan Pantau. He was beaten by five policemen while trying to take pictures of police use of excessive violence against the KNPB demonstrators in front of the State University of Papua in Manokwari (see above). SEAPA’s executive director Gayathry Venkiteswaran said: “We deplore the aggression used against the demonstrators and especially journalists, who are on duty. Papua has been a particularly difficult and dangerous place for the media and such kinds of abuse will further deny the rights of the people to news and information.” She added: “The threats of impunity, of not bringing perpetrators of violence against media personnel to justice, is problem that has pushed backs Indonesia’s gains in media freedom in the last decade or so.”
On Wednesday, November 1 London police arrested human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell when he unfurled a West Papuan flag as the Indonesian President’s limousine departed Westminster Abbey in central London. Police told Tatchell that they had arrested him at the request of the Indonesian President’s entourage. Tatchell was released without charge. “President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should have been arrested on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity under British and international law,” Tatchell said. “I was stunned to be chased and arrested for a peaceful, lawful protest. The Indonesian President stands accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor and West Papua, involving the deaths of thousands of people.
Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2012/1211wpap.htm
Back issues of West Papua Report
WPAT Note: With the previous edition, West Papua Report changed format: The Report now leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by an “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and a “Chronicle” which lists of statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a Perspective or responding to one should write to email@example.com. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN.
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