Pacific Scoop

West Papua Report December 2013 – ETAN

Article – The East Timor Action Network ETAN

This is the 116th 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 …West Papua Report
December 2013

This is the 116th 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 by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to Link to this issue:

The Report leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then “Chronicle” which includes analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a “Perspective” or responding to one should write to The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN. For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.


In this edition’s “ Perspective,” Dr. Charles Farhadian describes the transformation of the religious landscape of West Papua, in particular the role of the Indonesian government in the shift of the region from predominantly Christian to predominantly Muslim.

This month’s “ Update” leads with the police crackdown on West Papuan demonstrators which left at least one Papuan dead, many injured and many under arrest. WPAT sources in Papua New Guinea report that Papuan rights supporters foiled efforts by national police to arrest Port Moresby Governor Powes Parkop for flying the Papuan Morning Star Flag on December 1. Two reports looks atFreeport, including its “ greenwashing” activities. Moana Carassas, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, raised the plight of the people of West Papua at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka. A prominent Indonesian journalist called for greater transparency by the Indonesian government in dealing with West Papua. A regional journal reports on West Papuan activists in carrying their message to the nations of the Pacific.

In “ Chronicle,” we note condemnation of recent police violence in West Papua by Amnesty International and the West Papua Advocacy Team. The impact of the recent “ Freedom Flotilla” is considered in a comprehensive essay. West Papuan voices are largely absent in the ongoing reconsideration of special autonomy for West Papua. An OpEd by ETAN board member Andrew de Sousa looks at the role of the “School of the America’s” in training military officials who have notorious human rights records. A regional conferenceexamined policing practices.

Religious Changes Afoot in Papua
by Charles Farhadian, PhD

Massive religious changes are afoot in West Papua, and with them broader transnational connections that will continue to shape Papuan society and the Pacific region. Since the annexation of West Papua by Indonesia, following the widely discredited sham vote called the Act of Free Choice (1969), the religious life in West Papua has experienced significant transformation. My perspective here focuses on the most dramatic religious change in West Papua over the past four decades – that is, the growth of Islam. Prior to the Indonesian annexation of West Papua, the region consisted of roughly 800,000 indigenous West Papuans, most of who followed an indigenous Papuan religious tradition or Protestant, Evangelical, or Catholic expressions of Christianity, with a small group of Muslims located in Fak-Fak.[1]

Papuans recognize that part of the government strategy has been to Islamize West Papua, a plan that has been exceedingly successful. Islamizing West Papua, Papuans believe, plays a strategic geopolitical role in further integrating West Papua into the Republic of Indonesia.
Over the past four decades, however, in large part because of the official and unofficial government sponsored transmigration program that moved Indonesians from over-crowded islands to West Papua, the religious demography of West Papua has changed dramatically. Papuans recognize that part of the government strategy has been to Islamize West Papua, a plan that has been exceedingly successful. Islamizing West Papua, Papuans believe, plays a strategic geopolitical role in further integrating West Papua into the Republic of Indonesia while strengthening the region’s connections to other Muslim areas such as Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Nearly twenty ago Islam reportedly eclipsed Christianity in Papua:

Of [Papua’s] population of almost 1.9 million, between 750,000 and 850,000 were born outside the province and the non-Papuan population continues to rise. In Jayapura, about 80% of the 90,000 inhabitants are non-Papuan. Islam, with an estimated 450,000 adherents in Irian Jaya, recently eclipsed Christianity to become the province’s biggest religion, and more than 90% of civil servants are Muslims.[2]

Islam is growing so rapidly not only because of the large numbers of Muslim transmigrants arriving daily to the region, but also because of conversion of Christian Papuans to Islam. Indonesian and Saudi Arabian Muslim missionaries (da’wah) make their way through open markets and work through existing Muslim organizations in order to win Papuans to Islam. Muslim missionaries have made great strides in compelling Christian Papuans to change their religion, despite Indonesian laws that prohibit proselytization. At least two villages in the highlands of West Papua have converted from Christianity en masse to Islam. Muslim missionaries have celebrated the fact that the Big-Man of one village that converted from Christianity to Islam had already been on hajj to Mecca. That Muslim missionary noted that within a generation, with the village children now at Islamic boarding schools (pesantrens) in Java, there would be no more pigs, which were so central to the religious life of traditional Papuans.

Papuan children, in fact, have been victims of false promises of receiving education and instead been taken and placed in Islamic boarding schools in Java. In a recent article, it was reported that well over 2000 Papuan children have been kidnapped and taken to Islamic boarding schools in order to be “re-educated” as Muslim Papuan missionaries to West Papua, most of these being Christian Papuan young people. Some of these Papuan children are now studying in Salafi Islamic schools, a puritanical, scripturalist Islamic movement similar to the Wahabbi movement in Saudi Arabia. Al Fatih Kafah Nusantara (AFKN), a Saudi-backed hardline Islamic group related to the Indonesian Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has been active in recruiting children from both East Timor and West Papua. Papuan children, now studying inpesantrens in and around Jakarta, are given Arabic names as the training seeks to “erase their cultural roots.” Such conversions of Christian Papuan children to Islam is an example of the increasing use of religion for political ends.[3] This strategy is not new: in 1969, when Indonesian annexed West Papua, President Suharto proposed transferring 200,000 children of the “backward and primitive Papuans, still living in the stone age” to Java for education.[4]

Islamic movements in West Papua are not all as aggressive in their proselytizing methods. The largest Muslim organizations in Indonesia, namely Muhammadiyah and Nadlatul Ulama, are also active in Papua, which illustrates the immense diversity within Islam in West Papua. Even Muhammadiyah and Nadlatul Ulama, with nationwide membership of 30 million and 40 million, respectively, exhibit broad similarities despite their unique histories and theological emphases. The major question that religionists, Christian or Muslim, in West Papua will have to face is how they will create mechanisms to ensure plural co-existence.

Another critical piece to be considered is the wider context of religious change, particularly in Papua New Guinea. Religious changes in neighboring Papua New Guinea foretell significant geopolitical reconfigurations in the borderland between Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Since 2001, there has been 500 percent growth of the Muslim population in Papua New Guinea, from 476 converts to over 5000, as a result not of Muslim immigration but of conversions of local Papuan New Guineans to Islam.[5] The institutionalization of Islam in Papua New Guinea was supported by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj (founding Prime Minister of Malaysia) who, along with increasing political pressure from Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Muhammad, sought to actively promote Islam and support Muslims in the Asia-Pacific region.[6]

The Islamic advance might further exacerbate ongoing tensions among the variety of ethnic and religious groupings in West Papua. Papuan intellectuals, including the well-known Papuan Muslim, al-Hamid, have declared Papua a zone of peace, with the hope of resisting the kind of religious and social violence that erupted between local Christian Moluccans and pendatang Muslims in the Maluku Islands beginning in early 1999.

Charles Farhadian, PhD is Professor of Religious Studies, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California. He has written two books on West Papua and is a member of the WPAT.
[1] See David John Neilson, “Christianity in Irian (West Papua),” (PhD diss., University of Sydney, 2000) and Charles Farhadian, Christianity, Islam, and Nationalism in Indonesia (London: Routledge, 2005).

[2] Roberts, G. (1996, January 27). Irian Jaya: Caught in the Crossfire. Sydney Morning Herald.

[3] See Michael Bachelard, “ They’re taking our Children,” Sydney Morning Herald, May 4, 2013, accessed November 5, 2013.

[4] ibid.

[5] See Scott Flower, Conversion to Islam in Papua New Guinea: Religious and Cultural Change in the Pacific, book proposal for Routledge Press, London, 2013.

[6] ibid. pp. 56-57


Police Crackdown on Peaceful Papuan Demonstrators

Indonesian authorities in West Papua assaulted peaceful Papuan demonstrators on November 26, reportedly killing one and inflicting four gunshot wounds. (see Shootings, killings, beatings, arrests as Hundreds flee to jungle after Indon Police open fire on peaceful KNPB demo)

The Jayapura shooting victim, Matthius Tengget, an activist with the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB), died of his wounds in custody. However, his body was subsequently retrieved after it was dumped into a lake, allegedly by those members of the Brimob paramilitary police units who shot him.

According to a statement from KNPB General Chairman Victor Yeimo, currently in Abepura prison, “KNPB and family members of the victims are also looking for four other KNPB members that are missing: their whereabouts are unknown or their bodies have not yet been found.”

WPAT sources and media reports say that the police in Jayapura opened fire November 26 on an estimated 500 Papuans who were peacefully celebrating the opening of an office of the KNPB in Papua New Guinea. West Papua Media reports 15 Papuans are in serious condition in hospitals with various wounds as a result of the police operation in Jayapura. Peaceful demonstrations organized by the KNPB took place in many parts of West Papua at the end of November. Most were met with police violence. Police in Timika arrested 31 demonstrators and three in Sorong. A very large demonstration in Wamena passed peacefully, apparently because the demonstrators vastly outnumbered the police who had gathered to block the demonstration. The police violence November 26 followed police arrests of 16 Papuans who were peacefully handing out leaflets on November 25. In the wake of the new security force violence many Papuans, according to West Papua Media have fled their home and sought refuge in the forests.

Reports to WPAT from West Papua also indicate that in recent days journalists have suffered intimidation by security forces.

International Lawyer Jennifer Robinson, Convener of the International Lawyers for West Papua and currently meeting in PNG, told West Papua Media that “This use of excessive force against KNPB members is in breach of international law and Indonesia’s own police regulations on the use of force…. This latest incident falls within a repeated pattern of the use of excessive and lethal force by Indonesian police against peaceful activists in West Papua which is indicative of a broader state policy. Continued impunity for the police involved is unacceptable and the failure to punish gives rise to command and state responsibility.”

For its part Amnesty International has condemned the police violence and expressed concern about ill treatment of those placed in custody in connection with the police action:
“Amnesty International is concerned about allegations that police ill-treated protesters involved in a pro-independence protest in Papua as well as intimidated journalists who were covering it. On 26 November, police arrested at least 28 political activists including three women who participated in a pro-independence protest in Wamena, Jayapura organized by the KNPB. According to a human rights lawyer who saw them in detention at the Jayapura City police station, there were indications that they had been beaten after they were arrested. Some of the detainees had bruises or swelling on their mouth, eyes, forehead and body. At least 12 people are still in police custody.”
The growing violence in West Papua appears to have been orchestrated to coincide with the late November visit there of the new National Police Commander Sutarman. Gen. Sutarman has made explicit in his threats to Papuan activists telling the media that “We will take firm action against groups or individuals wanting to separate Papua from Indonesia because Papua is part of Indonesia.”

Indonesian security authority attempts to intimidate Papuans have focused significantly on the KNPB.Tabloid Jubi reported November 26 that Papua Deputy Police Chief Waterpauw, on the eve of the police crackdown in West Papua, denied KNPB the right to freedom of expression, permanently. “I made it clear to the KNPB, immediately stop the steps that are likely to violence. Whatever the form of their intention and desire to perform activities in public hearings, (it) will never be given permission or recommendation to implement it , because we know the purpose of the organisation and their desire is clear, (they) want to form a state , split off and so on. ”

The wave of police violence came on the eve of what are expected to be commemorations of “Flag Day” across West Papua as Papuans celebrate by raising the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag for the first time, December 1 1961. Sutarman warned that “The Bintang Kejora flag raising ceremony on Dec. 1 is forbidden, and those involved will be dealt with seriously.”

Supporters of Papuan Rights Foil PNG Efforts to Arrest Port Moresby Governor Parkop

Powes Parkop, Governor of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’s capital region, was presented with the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award” for 2013. Parkop (center, holding plaque), with Jennifer Robinson and Benny and Maria Wenda in Port Moresby.

WPAT sources in Papua New Guinea report on failed efforts by the PNG police to arrest Port Moresby Governor Powes Parkop for flying the West Papuan “Morning Star” flag in Port Moresby on December 1 to commemorate the Papuan declaration of independence in 1961.

Police, reportedly acting under the order of the PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neil (who also is the minister in charge of the national police), moved to arrest Parkop for defying national government orders not to fly the flag. Supporters of West Papuan rights moved forward to peacefully block the police from carrying out the arrest. Three of the supporters were arrested and remained in detention as of mid-day December 2. They are West Papuan Fred Mabrasar, PNG human rights activist Fofoe, and Patrick Kaku, a professor at the University of Papua New Guinea.

WPAT gave Parkop its John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award earlier this year.

Focus On Freeport Offers Detailed Account of Its Record in West Papua

An August report published by Alibi in New Mexico critiques the U.S.-based copper and gold mining firm Freeport McMoRan. Freeport operates mines in the U.S., including three in New Mexico, and elsewhere, most notoriously in West Papua. (Read the entire article here:

The article details efforts by Freeport to rewrite New Mexico environmental regulations to evade pollution controls in a massive New Mexico open-pit copper mine. The article underscores Freeport’s international reputation as a polluter and human rights violator:
Labor strife defines everyday life for workers at the Grasberg Mine, but it’s Freeport’s shocking environmental record that is most egregious. After blasting entire hillsides of copper-laden rock, huge pulverizers grind the material into the consistency of sugar. The milled material is then mixed with a chemical slurry. Agitators inject oxygen and mix the concoction until a thick froth develops. This froth, called concentrate, contains the copper ore, which is skimmed off and sent to a smelter. Milling produces more waste than copper, however, and this leftover fluid, or tailings, constitutes a noxious stew. Freeport refuses to release accurate information on any of its mining operations, but environmental organizations estimate that Grasberg produces between 230,000 and 700,000 tons of tailings each day. Freeport dumps the tailings into the Ajkwa and Otomona rivers. Glacial runoff at high altitude feeds the Ajkwa and Otomona as the rivers travel through an ecosystem astonishing in its biodiversity. Scientists still find new species of insects and mammals in the cloud forests, rainforest, alpine forests, tidal swamps and mangrove forests. But nothing much lives in either river any longer. As the tailings makes its 80-mile journey to the coast, it leaves a toxic sediment of chemicals and heavy metals, including mercury, along the river bottom. This slurry skirts the western edge of the nearly 10,000 square-mile Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is among the most ecologically diverse ecosystems in the world (Freeport euphemistically calls it the “controlled riverine tailings transport” system). The tailings eventually accumulate in what Freeport calls the ?modified deposition area,? or more accurately, in the place where the spreading ruin of its toxic plume chokes coastal mangrove estuary habitat along the Arafura Sea.
Indonesia is the only country in the world that lets Freeport turn waterways into waste pits. This arrangement comes after decades of payoffs to successive military juntas that — despite enormous pressure from human rights groups and environmental watchdogs — lets Freeport regulate itself.
The significance of the destruction of the coast-protecting mangroves was underscored recently in a reporton the trees importance in protecting shorelines in the Philippines where mangrove destruction left the coast much more vulnerable to the ravages of typhoons such as the one which struck the central Philippines in November.

Freeport Greenwashing

Freeport has long sought to obscure its infamous environmental and human rights record by precluding independent researchers from visiting the area devastated by its operations. Like other corporations with abysmal environmental records, Freeport has also attempted to divert attention from its record through “greenwashing.” This ruse entails funding projects intended to convey the false impression that the polluting firm is sensitive to environmental concerns. A recent Jakarta Post report details just such project in which Freeport had provided funds to researchers to investigate natural fauna in the West Papua.

In the 1990s, Freeport, after a runoff from the gypsum waste into the Mississippi River, launched “a massive public relations campaign to convince the community of its deep concern for the earth, as it began to endow professorships in environmental fields, at area universities and as major environmental reporters from the local media took jobs for the company.”

WPAT Comment: It is unfortunate that respected experts and institutions permit their reputations to be abused in this manner.

Vanuatu PM: Consistent Champion of Human Freedoms in West Papua

Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses carried his message of support for West Papua to the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister, after reviewing how West Papuans right to self-determination has been denied, told Commonwealth leaders “we cannot continue to deny them their rights, thus I call on our collective efforts to support their cause.”

Vanuatu reportedly wants to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2017.

WPAT Comment: For many decades West Papua has lacked the critical support of an international actor such as East Timor had in Portugal during its long travail. Vanuatu’s eloquent and courageous appeal on behalf of West Papuans at the UN General Assembly in September, at the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) meeting in July and now before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, at last, signals that at last Papuans have an international champion.

Leading Indonesian Journalist Calls for Greater Transparency on West Papua

Eko Maryadi, President of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, told media that despite Governor of Papua province Lukas Enembe’s recent remarks about opening the region to foreign journalists, it remains hard for them to get permits. Fairfax journalists in Australia have confirmed that there has been no improvement in the process to obtain access to the region. According to Maryadi, the Indonesian Government does not want Papua to receive the same attention Timor-Leste had prior to its gaining independence.

“If this current government wants to be called democratic and transparent then I think there is nothing to worry about. Papuan people should be treated fairly and similarly to other Indonesians. So if you ask what should be changed, they have to change their mindset, and then they have to change their system, how they handle the foreign media,” Maryadi told Radio New Zealand International.

Maryadi, who was jailed under the Suharto regime, added that while the Indonesian government has the right to regulate who enters the country, it should let foreign journalists come, “all they have to do is make a regulation – what a foreign journalist can do and what he cannot do.”

Papuan Activists Carry Their Message to Melanesian Nations

Islands Business has carried a detailed account of efforts by West Papuans to carry their message to nations of the Pacific. Excerpts follow:
West Papua activists are traveling the Pacific lobbying countries to support their bid. One such activist is exiled investigative journalist Octovanius Mote, who has just returned to his adopted home in the United States last month, after island hopping the Melanesian states…. Mote said after 40 years of Indonesian rule, joining a group like MSG would enhance their endeavors for independence.
In exile, Mote continues to cry for the support of his eastern cousins and has seen a change in heart in various Melanesian governments. “I met with support groups in Fiji to basically get updated on what is the progress on our application,” he said. He says he is encouraged by the support shown. “So for that we really would like to thank all the Melanesian leaders for being united on this after 50 years of Indonesian rule.” Mote was also enthusiastic about the response from West Papua’s closest neighbour Papua New Guinea who in the past tended to side with Indonesia. Former Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, a founding member of the MSG, said West Papua should engage with Melanesian society because culturally they (West Papuans) are Melanesians.
“We don’t see any MSG leader opposing our right for self-determination and our opposition to crimes against humanity in West Papua,” Mote said. He said they were also keen to see MSG leaders visiting West Papua after they visit Indonesia — an invitation extended to MSG Foreign Affairs leaders by Jakarta and accepted this year during the MSG summit in Noumea in June. However, he echoed fears of his kinsmen that once the MSG foreign ministers arrive in Jakarta, Indonesia could stop them from entering West Papua based on security risks.
“If the visit does happen, it will be an historic one because many years ago people were not allowed to visit us particularly journalists, human rights workers and advocates and our people definitely will not harm their wantoks,” Mote said.” For journalists who get accreditation to work in West Papua, they would have to apply for special permission and when they do get there, they are assisted by Indonesian security personnel.”
Mote said he visited Papua New Guinea in August and met with cabinet members asking them about their position over West Papua’s self determination. “They told me they don’t oppose our right but since being directly on the border with Indonesia they have to look for a way where they can maintain good relations with Indonesia. So I don’t see them having a formula on how to address our situation. “But I definitely have seen a different attitude from them concerning our struggles.” From PNG, Mote went on to Port Vila where the indigenous West Papuans have the greatest ally. Mote said it was former Vanuatu Prime Minister Father Walter Lini who said if there remained a Melanesian country still colonised, then Vanuatu is not free. The current Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil has not changed that stance and Vanuatu is regarded the most active government in the fight for West Papuan struggle. But Mote is concerned about how the Indonesian Government has started to woo Melanesian leaders individually, particularly Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo whovisited Indonesia in September.

International Organizations Condemn Indonesian Violence Targeting West Papuan Demonstrators

Amnesty International and the West Papua Advocacy Team have strongly condemned police violence in West Papua.

The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) strongly condemned ongoing Indonesian security force violence targeting peaceful West Papuan demonstrators. That police orchestrated violence, which has led to at least one civilian death and many injuries, came on the eve of annual Papuan celebration of the Papuan national flag, December 1. WPAT sources in West Papua described police conduct as “especially arrogant and violent.”

WPAT urged the U.S. Government to vigorously condemn the ongoing security force campaign of violence and intimidation in West Papua and specifically to urge the “Indonesian government to act to restrain its security forces in dealing with peaceful December 1 demonstrations in accordance with international guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly to which the Indonesian government is obligated.”

For its part, Amnesty International expressed concern about ill treatment of those placed in custody in connection with the police action, which it condemned.
“Amnesty International is concerned about allegations that police ill-treated protesters involved in a pro-independence protest in Papua as well as intimidated journalists who were covering it. On 26 November, police arrested at least 28 political activists including three women who participated in a pro-independence protest in Waena, Jayapura organized by the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB). According to a human rights lawyer who saw them in detention at the Jayapura City police station, there were indications that they had been beaten after they were arrested. Some of the detainees had bruises or swelling on their mouth, eyes, forehead and body. At least 12 people are still in police custody.”
Flotilla Impact

Jason MacLeod considers the impact of the recent “Freedom Flotilla” in a comprehensive essay forWaging Nonviolence blog. Among his conclusions, MacLeod writes “The conflict and violence in West Papua has to become an international problem before the international community can be expected to take action. The West Papua Freedom Flotilla has made a valuable contribution to that process, particularly in Melanesia, a sub-region of the vast Pacific.”

Draft Autonomy Law

Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta has published an analysis of recent efforts to amend the special autonomy law (Otsus) for West Papua. Otsus Plus: The Debate over Enhanced Special Autonomy for Papua “explores how a controversial proposal to amend a 2001 law on special autonomy, that until mid-November seemed to be getting nowhere, was suddenly transformed into a detailed, practical program for improving the lives of indigenous Papuans.” However IPAC writes that “The problem is that very few people have seen the draft and there has been no public debate.”

However, Yan Christian Warinussy of the LP3BH (Institute for Study, Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights) in Manokwari calls the current discussion of revisions to the OTSUS “unconstitutional.” (Translations by Carmel Budiardjo/Tapol.)

The Special Autonomy law, “stipulates that there shall be an annual evaluation of the law, starting in the third year following enactment of the law in 2001. However, since the enactment of the law no evaluation has taken place.” The law also requires that “any proposals to amend the law shall be undertaken on the initiative of the Papuan people which shall be taken on the basis of past evaluations of the law. It is clear that current moves to amend the law are being taken on the initiative of the governors of the two provinces.”

In a separate comment, Warinussy wrote: “the Papuan people collectively and through the intermediary of the Majelis Rakyat Papua Barat (West Papuan People’s Assembly) as well as the two Papuan Provincial Legislative Assemblies (DPRP) have called on the Government of Indonesia to agree to enter into dialogue with the Papuan people, that is to say to hold a peaceful dialogue, facilitated by a neutral third party.”

He continues, “twelve years after the enactment of the autonomy law, there has never been any comprehensive evaluation of the afore-mentioned autonomy law. Such an evaluation would involve all the components of the Papuan people as well as all the stakeholders, such the governmental administration, the Indonesian army, the Indonesian police, senior academics, civil society mass organisations and representatives of the various religions throughout the Land of Papua.”

Indonesia and the School of the Americas

An article by ETAN board member Andrew de Sousa looked at the opposition to the “School of the Americas,” officially the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), where military officers from Latin America are trained by the U.S. army. Many of them have gone on to have notorious human rights records. An edited version of his article was published in the Jakarta Post. At this year’s annual protest at Fort Benning, thousands walked in a solemn funeral procession and commemorated those who have been killed by SOA/WHINSEC graduates and U.S. militarization.

“The activists have good reason to protest,” he writes. “The military institute is notorious for training over 64,000 foreign soldiers in subjects such as counterinsurgency, military intelligence, interrogations and psychological warfare. Many of the military officials responsible for some of the worst atrocities committed in Latin America were trained there, and some have even served as guest instructors.”

The U.S. has provided similar training to Indonesia. “The U.S. government was a chief backer of the New Order regime, and supplied the Indonesian military with the intelligence, equipment and training used for some of the worst human rights atrocities of the last century,” de Sousa writes. Indonesian graduates of Fort Benning include “Gen. Prabowo Subianto, who was behind some of the worst atrocities in Timor-Leste and kidnapped democracy activists in 1998. His troops were implicated in atrocities in West Papua and elsewhere during his command of the feared Kopassus special forces. Other Indonesians trained in the U.S. include Gen. Sjafrie Syamsuddin and Gen. Johny Lumintang, who both played prominent roles in orchestrating the violence around the 1999 referendum in Timor-Leste.”

After the 1991 Santa Cruz Massacre in Timor, ETAN and others citizens pushed the U.S. Congress to restrict military training and other assistance to the Indonesian military. These restrictions have since been lifted. Meanwhile, “Inside Indonesia impunity continues to reign supreme: despite some modest gains in reforming the military over the past decade, regular human rights violations continue in West Papua and elsewhere, and the U.S.-created Detachment 88 acts like a death squad, killing suspected terrorists at will. Past crimes continue to go unpunished, with those responsible enjoying prominent positions: Prabowo has formed his own political party and is a leading contender for president, Sjafrie Syamsuddin is a vice-minister, and Lumintang is set to be the next ambassador to the Philippines. General Wiranto, indicted in Timor for his role as head of the military in 1999, is also planning a presidential run.”

De Sousa concludes that “Despite its rights rhetoric, the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has put made engagement with Indonesia’s security forces a priority. This is what makes actions like the annual mobilization against the SOA so important.”

Regional Conference on Policing in Southeast Asia Calls for Human Rights Based Policing

Activists and human rights lawyers from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Timor-Lestecalled for “effective accountability mechanisms to deal with police abuse in their countries. The weaknesses of current mechanisms have contributed to a culture of impunity allowing for human rights violations by law enforcement officials to go unchecked.”

These activist met at a regional conference organized by Amnesty International and KontraS (The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence) on policing and human rights in Southeast Asia held on 19-20 November in Jakarta.

A Call For Papuan Participation in Planning Papua’s Future

Tempo Magazine published a timely appeal emphasizing the importance of engaging the Papuan people in addressing the myriad problems in West Papua.

Neles Tebay, a lecturer at the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology and coordinator of the Papua Peace Network, argues that the Indonesian government should regard the Papuan people as “partners of the government” and that they should be enabled to “participate fully in seeking democratic solution to the ongoing conflict and toward national development.” Tebay, in his essay calls on the government to “begin consulting with Papuans, including members of the OPM, when discussing and determining policies in the region.”

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