West Papua Report April 2013
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This is the 108th 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 http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to email@example.com. Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1304wpap.htm
The Report leads with "Perspective," an opinion piece; followed by "Update," a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then "Chronicle" which lists of 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
CONTENTS: This edition of the West Papua Report offers the Perspective of a longtime observer of West Papua who recently traveled to the Central Highlands, who reports the growing militarization of the region and the negative impact of that military build up on human rights and in stoking rising communal tensions there. In Update we note that the Indonesian military will shortly begin a massive road project which will likely service military rather than Papuan interests. New contract negotiations between the central government and the Freeport-McMoRan mining operation are proceeding absent West Papuan participation and without regard for their interests. The new Governor of Papua province appears not to understand problems of development and security facing the region. Papuans have again called for an end to the presence of the notorious "Special Forces" (Kopassus) in their homeland. Indonesian and international calls for an end to the impunity accorded Indonesian military leaders and personnel for human rights abuses are growing. That impunity gives license to continuing abuse and criminal activity by the military. WPNCL pressed it case to have West Papua join the Melanesia Support Group at a meeting with Fiji Prime Minister Banimarama. Chronicle highlights two first-hand accounts of the Wamena area and a review of Eben Kirksey's Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power.
CHALLENGES IN WEST PAPUA
The following Perspective comes from a source who has spent years in West Papua and who recently visited the Central Highland. For his protection this report is published anonymously.
• Daily life in West Papua has been militarized as evidenced by the extensive posting of military personnel to the area (Papua and West Papua provinces). This is especially notable in the Timika and neighboring Highlands' Districts such as Puncak Jaya, Puncak and Paniai where the intensity of conflict between the Indonesian military (TNI) and the Papuan independence movement (OPM) has been building up over the last couple of years. The militarization has also triggered "horizontal" conflicts among ethnic groups and tribal groups. There is also growing violence between people with competing economic interests.
• The TNI has established new physical centers (buildings and other infrastructure) for regional commands, which also automatically means that more personnel have been moved to the area. The latest such expansion is that of Kodim 1714 (Commandant District Military) in Mulia (in the district Puncak Jaya), which as a result of years of conflict is regarded as a "high profile" area. Moreover, in almost all the areas military/intelligence agents/police are "undercover" working as motor-taxi drivers, chainsaw operators and/or disguised as owners of shops/kiosks, small companies, entertainment complexes, transport facilities, and such. Close observers question the extent to which the conflicts in certain districts are "pure conflicts," or rather the creation of the Indonesian security forces. Suspicion that the security forces are creating these conflicts is based on the reality that their presence generates a cash flow to these forces. There are many indications that indeed there is great deal of "creative conflict construction" and this is done without taking into account the price to be paid for it in the number of possible victims.
• Not surprisingly the mere presence of the Indonesian military and police (POLRI) often leads to conflict owing to their "all mighty" and arrogant manner. This problem is exacerbated by the very limited education level and/or experience of the these security personnel. In the area of the town of Enarotali the police currently are conducting "sweeps" of mobile phones to determine whether there are local Papuan songs or symbols of independence recorded on the phones. If so, the memory card is destroyed and the empty phone is handed back to the owner. There are also many police/military posts along the roads, and at any of these "roadblocks" you have to pay to get through. These posts and their extortion of local people disrupts movement by the local community and economic life to a significant level and invariably creates fear and hatred among the Papuans.
• The position of the security forces is also often linked to economic interests. In the Timika and the neighboring Highlands' districts there are locations where gold is found. This attracts many people. In almost all the cases, the main profitable areas are slowly "occupied" by people from outside Papua who deny the local Papuans their traditional ownership and land rights. These "traders" are normally well connected with security forces who also profit. Various efforts by activists (locally as well as from Jayapura) to get these illegal activities stopped have always met with a stonewall erected by senior authorities who are in the position to close down these often illegal economic activities but will not. Involvement of the security forces in these activities continues even though the military is not allowed to own businesses.
• Another factor that complicates the life of ordinary Papuans is that the security forces work together with some OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka/Free Papua Movement) factions. Both parties profit from their dealings. This is very confusing as OPM factions in principle are expected to fight for the interest of the Papuan indigenous community. However these armed resistance elements once in a while reach understandings with the security forces and are paid well for this collaboration. The main victim in this "game" is the normal citizen/community. They are squeezed between the OPM and the security forces, both of whom demand the support of the community. A lot of the conflicts, at the end of the day, are more based on money than noble ideals.
• Another current trend is the appearance of "groupings" consisting of young people. These groups seem to gather people who "have ambitions," "are frustrated," "have nothing to do," and don't seem to have a very clear agenda. It is often unclear under whose protection they operate. This worrisome trend recalls the phenomenon of gangs and militia in Timor-Leste formed by the Indonesian military during the years preceding the 1999 referendum.
• It appears that the central government's effectively supports these developments. As evidence of this is, over the past year there seems to be a strategy of criminalizing any protests or public criticism. A clear example of this over the last half a year is the effort by the police and military to blame KNPB (Komite Nasional Papua Barat/West Papua National Committee) for purported "criminal activity." Since about 2008 KNPB has developed itself as one of the most vocal activist movements that has pushed for a referendum on Papua's future. Since mid 2012 the group has been linked by the police to such criminal activities as fatal shootings in Jayapura. They are also linked to buying weapons, while the military/police themselves are often mentioned as most probable players in the illegal trade of weapons. All these allegations by the security forces and government have resulted in the loss of the KNPB's image (nationally as well as internationally) as a "peaceful movement." There are also reports that KNPB individuals members have been paid by the military. This targeting of the group has accelerated the KNPB members criminalization and legitimized security force pursuit of the KNPB. It has also led to the killing, detention, torture etc. of the main figures in the organization. The security forces have started sweeps, arresting KNPB members, all over Papua. In Timika a court process continues against six KNPB members who are accused of possessing weapons (including traditional bow and arrows). These accusations often are very far fetched and hardly believable. In the Wamena area, the KNPB is alleged to be involved with "bomb making"; while in Sorong, Fakfak and Merauke, KNPB figures have been simply killed or physically attacked.
• In recent months there has been an effort, supported by the central government, to brand "separatist Papuans" (a stigma assigned to any critical figure who dares to speak up) as "terrorists." This broadens the basis for pursuing these activists and also legally empowers Detachment 88 to join in the military and police efforts. Clearly, there is little room for justice in these strategies applied by the security forces.
Who Will Benefit From New Roads In West Papua?
The Jakarta Post on March 26 reported that the Indonesian government plans to create 1,520 kms of new roads in West Papua. The plan, under the supervision of the UP4B (Unit Percepatan Pembangunan untuk Papua dan Papua Barat /Unit for Accelerated Development in Papua and West Papua) is to be carried out by the Indonesian military, allegedly because there are "no private contractors that have ability to do the job."
UP4B chief expert Doddy Imam Hidayat claims that "If we depend on the ministry and local agencies to build the roads, it will take around 60 years to complete. The TNI's deployment is aimed at speeding up the process at a relatively low cost, as it is not seeking any financial profit." The US$154 million project, according to the report, is expected to involve 1000 TNI personnel.
WPAT Comment: West Papua (including the provinces that the Indonesian government calls "Papua" and "West Papua") are among the least developed of all the provinces, despite over four decades of Indonesian occupation. But the decision to hand this project to the military is very unfortunate in several regards: As in Indonesian-occupied East Timor, it appears likely that the military will develop roads to serve its interests, especially to enhance its tactical mobility and to facilitate its business interests, notably both legal and illegal timber operations. The expansion of the already bloated TNI presence in West Papua by 1,000 personnel will only exacerbate the burdens of that presence now born by the Papuan people.
Papuan Interests to Be Sacrificed in Putative Jakarta-Freeport Deal
A March 16 Jakarta Globe article reports that the Indonesian Government has "softened" its position in contract re-negotiations with the U.S.-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan which for decades has wrought ecological havoc and devastated local populations in West Papua.
The Globe writes that "Freeport has refused to meet the government's requests on at least two of six key issues on which discussion was sought as part of efforts to expand the economic benefits to Indonesia of resources projects. The two are the obligation to build domestic processing facilities such as smelters, and the requirement to reduce its concession area to no more than 25,000 hectares." The government may be willing to allow expansion of the Freeport mining operation if it agrees to build processing facilities in Indonesia.
A new Mining Law enacted in 2009 would cut contract periods, reduce concession areas, and increases royalty payments. It also requires foreign miners to divest 51 percent of their share to local entities 10 years after operation. The new law bans the export of raw materials, requiring their processing in Indonesia.
Miners including Freeport and Newmont argue the new rules should only apply to miners operating under new-generation permits. They sat they operate under the older Contracts of Work. In response, the government want to renegotiate those miners contracts in compliance with the new regulations.
WPAT COMMENT: Missing from the coverage is any indication of whether or not the expanded processing facilities would be located in West Papua, a step which might begin to address a key problem of massive unemployment there. So it would seem that the Government is prepared to see the expansion of the highly destructive Freeport mine operation in exchange for a pledge by Freeport to locate processing operations elsewhere in the archipelago. Papuan interests can only suffer in such an arrangement. It is significant that there is no indication of any Papuan participation in these negotiations.
New Governor and The Challenges Facing Papua
Lukas Enembe has been sworn in as new Governor of Papua. the larger of two provinces in region of West Papua created without the consent of the people. In March the Constitutional Court resolved the disputed February election by ruling that Enembe had won the election with a 52 percent majority.
Yosei Eesbania in the March 17 Jakarta Globe provides a thoughtful assessment of the challenges facing Enembe. Eesbania compares Enembe's assessment of his tasks with those of observers of the Papuan scene, including Poengky Indarti, executive director of human rights monitor Imparsial and author of "Securitization of Papua: Its Impact Towards Human Rights Situation" and Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, the former head of the Political Research Center at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (P2P LIPI).
Enembe intends to focus his first 100 days on addressing the problems of "conflict and violence" in the province. He believes that the root cause of unrest is the province's underdevelopment, "high unemployment, poverty and a lack of infrastructure." This he claims fuels calls for "separatism."
Poengky calls for better coordination between the legislature and the People's Consultative Assembly (MRP) as well as between district chiefs, traditional leaders, religious leaders, and other key figures. She urges efforts to reduce corruption which afflicts every level of government in Papua. Poengky also urged improvements in health, education and income and emphasized the challenge of dealing with the armed Papuan freedom fighters of the OPM.
Acknowledging and preserving Papuan cultures and traditions, to ensure that the Papuan people no longer felt marginalized by development itself, is also important. In an indirect reference to the role and responsibility of security forces, Poengky said she hoped that the new governor could also work with law enforcers to acknowledge that freedom of expression and social criticism are not considered forms of rebellion.
For his part, Ikrar suggested a human development approach, embracing education and improvements in health as key. Papua's Human Development Index, taking into account life expectancy and education and income levels attained in the province was 63.35 in 2012, the lowest in Indonesia. Ikrar was critical of the siphoning off of Special Autonomy and other funds and said that these funds must be directed to helping Papuans. Ikrar also called for dialogue but complained that the OPM had no chain of command. "Meanwhile, in Papua, who can represent the OPM, or people who demonstrate in the forests? And what about the Papuan groups that demonstrate in the international realm"? he said.
WPAT COMMENT: Poengky Indarti and Ikrar Nusa Bakti offer sound advice to newly elected Governor Enembe. But this advice and Enembe's own comments fail to address the central problems afflicting the Papuan people. Poengky alludes to the need for Enembe to work with the security forces to "change perceptions of freedom of expression and social criticism." This advice only touches on the decades-old war against Papuans, both civilians and the small, lightly-armed resistance elements. That war must cease and those responsible for assaulting the Papuan people brought to justice. Ikrar refers to dialogue but is troubled about the absence of a clear Papuan partner for such a dialogue, noting that OPM had no clear chain of command. On the civilian side, Ikrar references "only people who demonstrate in the forests" and "Papuan groups that demonstrate in the international realm." These comments ignore the decade-old efforts by Papuan civil society leaders to commence an internationally-monitored dialogue on West Papua's future that would engage the Indonesian government at a senior level. Papuan interlocutors include a well identified and largely cohesive cross-section of Papuan civil society including religious leaders, human rights champions and others. OPM representation could be added to the mix but it would inaccurate be construe that representation as somehow the major stumbling block.
Papuan Call for Cessation of Military Operations and Withdrawal of Special Forces
"If Jakarta wants to end violence, the militaristic approach has to stop, and all non-garrison troops from the military elite forces must be withdrawn from the two provinces because their presence and their irregular operations have triggered attacks on garrison troops and innocent civilians," DPD deputy chairman Laode Ida told the Jakarta Post.
Growing Calls For Indonesian Government to End Impunity for TNI Crimes
There are growing calls for the Indonesian government to end the decades-long impunity accorded Indonesian military (TNI) personnel who have committed egregious human rights crimes. The absence of justice for past crimes -- notably including the military inspired 1998 riots as well as the 1999 post-referendum devastation wrought by the TNI and their minions in East Timor -- largely accounts for continued TNI abuses today, notably in West Papua. TNI leadership and enlisted personnel expect that they will not be prosecuted for rights violations, or if they are, that prosecution will be in a military tribunal where they can expect extremely lenient sentences.
Kontras, (the Commission or Missing Persons and Victims of Violence) whose founder, Munir, was murdered by a military/intelligence-connected assassin is calling for changes to existing laws.
Haris Azhar, the coordinator of Kontras, told the Jakarta Post that amending the law was needed so that armed forces personnel can be tried in a civilian court rather than a military tribunal for criminal offenses. "Revising the law on military tribunals is an essential part of the reform process in the military and the judiciary," he said. "As it currently stands, the law doesn't allow for servicemen to face justice in a criminal court, an anti-corruption court or a human rights tribunal." Perpetrators facing military tribunals tended to receive more lenient sentences than a criminal court would hand down, he added.
The current debate on military impunity was sparked by accusations that members of Kopassus had murdered four police detainees in a bold daytime raid.
Aziz Syamsuddin of the House of Representatives' Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, told the Jakarta Post that legislators were willing to discussing amendments to the 1997 Law on Military Tribunals, but were waiting for the government to submit a draft.
"Amendments to that law have been needed for a long time. At one point we even formed a special committee of legislators from House Commission III and II [on domestic affairs] to discuss it," Syamsuddin said. He said that most legislators agreed with "the need to try military personnel in a civilian court if their offenses warranted it."
Hendardi, the head of the Setara Institute, a democracy watchdog, told the Jakarta Post that the law in its current form "makes the military untouchable by criminal law statutes."
Amnesty international, meanwhile, publicly called for creation of a long-promised, long-stalled civilian ad hoc criminal court to prosecute "those responsible for the abduction and enforced disappearance of 13 political activists in 1997-1998." The fate of the 13 remains unknown.
Kontras also condemned President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's failure to set up a human rights tribunal to investigate the widespread human rights violations surrounding the fall of Suharto in 1998. Putri Kanesia, a lawyer with the group told the Jakarta Globe that "On September 30, 2009, the House of Representatives recommended that the president establish an ad hoc human rights court," she said. "The fact that he hasn't taken action to date means he is neglecting the need to resolve these cases of rights abuses."
WPCNL Meets with Fiji Prime Minister Banimarama
Officials from West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) met with Fiji's Prime Minister Vereqe "Frank" Banimarama on 27 March 2013 in Suva to discuss their application for full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Banimarama is the current chair of the MSG.
According to a statement by the WPCNL about the meeting, Prime Minister told the delegation: "Given that the application has been received by the MSG Leaders, we will ensure that it will go through the proper process and that it is discussed at the next MSG Senior Officials Meeting in June before it is presented to the Leaders for their decision through the Foreign Affairs meeting. "
The delegation is consisted of WPCNL Vice Chairman, Otto Ondawame, its Secretary General, Rex Rumakiek, and Barak T. Sopé Mautamata, former Prime Minister of Vanuatu and adviser to WPNCL.The WPCNL first submitted their application to the MSG on January 28.
Timely West Papua Overview
The Jakarta Post, March 28, published an overview of current political trends in West Papua and the Papuan peoples' struggle for their rights, including the right to self determination. The report is based on the journalist's trip to Wamena.
The Hardships of Life in The Central Highlands
The Jakarta Globe, March 27, published an insightful account of a month spent in Wamena, West Papua. The account reflects life in that occupied region from the perspective of Papuans. Remarkably, this eloquent testimonial to courage in the face of unrelenting suffering was written by an 11th grade student, Norman Harsono, from Jakarta. Among his observations: "And although incidents are common -- a death, protests, fights -- most of the violence isn't instigated by the Papuans themselves, but by the excessively forced measures used to suppress them. "
Review of Freedom in Entangled Worlds
Ed McWilliams reviewed Eben Kirksey's Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power for the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). He writes: "Kirksey explores the Papuan people's struggle for self-determination using a multiplicity of approaches. He looks carefully at Papuans collaboration with Indonesian state institutions, under conditions of military occupation and extreme power asymmetry... Kirksey argues compellingly that on some occasions Papuans have successfully exploited the space separating the interests of their much more powerful corporate and government collaborators to advance Papuan goals." Copies are available from ETAN, order here.
Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1304wpap.htm
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