West Papua Report August 2012

Published: Tue 7 Aug 2012 03:37 PM
West Papua Report
August 2012
This is the 100th 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 with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to
Indonesian security forces have detained Papuans attempting to raise funds for medical care for Papuan political prisoners. Indonesia has long fallen short of its international obligations to provide medical care for prisoners. Meanwhile, private efforts to raise funds for medical care for Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma are progressing well. Australian researchers have noted evidence of expanding operations by Indonesia's notorious Detachment 88 which is heavily funded by the U.S. and Australian governments. An observer is raising questions about the impact of international solidarity movements aimed at helping Papuans, contending that the involvement of western-based organizations in the solidarity movement may instigate Jakarta's security approach in West Papua. WPAT invites comment on this argument. A number of international groups named in a list of OPM supporters have issued a statement rejecting the Indonesian charges, challenging the government's strategy of seeking "to blame others for problems created by the Indonesian government's and security forces' own policies and actions." An Indonesian lawmaker has charged Freeport with "arrogance" as negotiations between the U.S. mining giant and the Indonesian government fail. WPAT notes the larger tragedy that Papuans have never played a significant role in such negotiations over the exploitation of Papuan natural resources. The Asian Human Rights Commission has published an excellent article on the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE).
Police Detain Peaceful Papuan Human Rights Activists
Private Funds Collected to Assure Required Medical Care for Papuan Political Prisoner Filep Karma
Notorious Detachment 88 Expanding Operations to West Papua?
What Kind of International Solidarity?
Groups Respond to Mystery List of Papua Supporters
Indonesian Legislature Charges Freeport with Arrogance
New Report on MIFEE
Police Detain Peaceful Papuan Human Rights Activists
A July 24 Radio New Zealand (RNZ) report details the detention of 15 members of the "Solidarity for Victims of Human Rights Abuse in Indonesia's Papua" (SKPHP). The members were arrested while collecting public donations to cover the costs of medical treatment for Papuan political prisoners and others detained in Abepura prison.
The police contended that they had arrested the activists because the organization was not formally recognized. The 15 were subsequently released. A spokesman for the group, Peneas Lokbere, told RNZ that the group plans to continue to collect money.
SKPHP supports political prisoners, including raising funds for the purchase of their medicines.
The Indonesian government regularly fails to provide the level of medical care for prisoners set forth in international covenants such as the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (Principle 24). Indonesian law (Regulation No. 32/1999 on Terms and Procedures on the Implementation of Prisoners' Rights in Prisons) also requires all medical costs for treatment of a prisoner at a hospital be borne by the State.
Minimal standards regarding treatment of prisoners also were established by the "United Nations Congress on The Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders" held in Geneva in 1955 and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977. Regarding medical treatment of prisoners, that resolution in article 22 states: (2) Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.
Private Funds Collected to Assure Required Medical Care for Papuan Political Prisoner
Friends of Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma, under the coordination of his eldest daughter Audryne Karma, have raised more than 110 million rupiah to enable her father to obtain medical treatment in a Jakarta hospital. Indonesia's Ministry of Law and Human Rights office in Jayapura has yet to organize his Jayapura-Jakarta trip. "I'm glad that we could raise the funding pretty quickly. It should be enough to bring my father to Jakarta and to have the colonoscopy," Audryne said.
In March 2012, Filep Karma was hospitalized at the Jayapura public hospital because of excessive bleeding with his bowel movement. Tests showed that he either has a tumor or intestinal inflammation. On March 27, the hospital recommended Karma have a colonoscopy at Jakarta's PGI Cikini hospital, because the Jayapura hospital does not have the right equipment.
Abepura prison officials have told the Karma family that the prison cannot finance the treatment because it lacks resources for this purpose in its budget. Prison authorities earlier told the Karma family that it needed to finance his travel as well as cover the costs for two prison guards to accompany him to Jakarta. In addition, Filep Karma explained in his Facebook account: "We also want to have a family member and a Papuan activist to accompany me in Jakarta. The airfare is also quite expensive.
The campaign, which got under way in May 2012 has garnered significant support. Rev. Socratez Yoman of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Papua organized his church to collect money. Students at the Walter Post College in Sentani, Jayapura, also collected money. Labor unions and many individuals directly donated. The London-based Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund gave a grant to support Karma's care.
In July 2012, an NGO coalition called the Solidarity of Papuan Human Rights Abuse Victims (Solidaritas Korban Pelanggaran Ham Papua, SKPHP) ran a street campaign to raise funds for Karma and other political prisoners. But Indonesian police forcibly dispersed the street donation campaign (see above).
To help with Filep Karma's medical treatment, you can transfer funds to his accounts:
Bank Central Asia in Jayapura
Account Number 814 013 6108
In the name of Filep Jacob Karma
Bank Mandiri in Jayapura
Account Number 154 000 593 9834
In the name of Filep Jacob Karma
Notorious Detachment 88 Expanding Operations to West Papua?
The following is excerpted from a broader statement "Is Australia funding Indonesian Death Squads? Densus (Detachment) 88 in West Papua,"issued on July 16 by the West Papua Project, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.
Questions are being asked about the role that the partly Australian funded and trained elite Indonesian police squad, Densus (Detachment) 88, has played during the recent violence in West Papua. Set up in the wake of the Bali terrorist bombings, Densus 88's mandate was to tackle the rise of domestic terrorism in Indonesia. [WPAT note: The U.S. government has also played a key role in the foundation and funding of Denus 88, also known as Detachment 88.]
While acclaimed for capturing or killing known and suspected terrorists, Densus 88 also gained a reputation for extreme violence: many suspects being killed rather than arrested. Now reports are suggesting that Densus 88 is operating in West Papua, possibly clandestinely, and has been responsible for the assassination-like killing of Papuan political activist, Mako Tabuni, on June 14.
While Indonesian National Police spokesman, Saud Usman Nasution, has denied Densus 88 is operating in West Papua he has left the door open for their involvement, saying in the Jakarta Globe on June 27, "Densus will be deployed if terrorism occurred there." However other reports, for instance from Kontras Papua, a local human rights organization, state that Densus 88 is already operating in West Papua "carrying out undercover activities" (Cenderwasih Pos, June 23). Kontras Papua believes that Densus 88 was involved in the Tabuni killing - where the victim is reported to have been standing in the street eating betel nut when three unmarked cars pulled up nearby. With no provocation a person emerged from one car and shot the victim dead. [See the July 2012 West Papua Report for additional details of this assassination.]
Other reports of Densus 88 activities in West Papua have come from respected Papuan leaders. Reliable sources observed Densus 88 police arrest KNPB member, Zakeus Hupla, in the lobby of the Dhanny Hotel, Entrop, Jayapura, on the morning of June 23. Other reports indicate further arrests of KNPB members by Densus 88 and their subsequent torture. According to family members, no arrest warrants were issued by Indonesian police for these arrests, and the Jayapura police deny that the KNPB members are in their custody. Indeed it is unclear if these men have been arrested, abducted or 'disappeared.'
These events are of genuine interest and concern to Australia because Australian taxpayers' money is spent training and maintaining Densus 88. This organization has a legitimate role to play in countering the rise of terrorism, but it should act strictly within its organizational mandate. If Australian taxpayers are indeed partially funding a clandestine force involved in killings, abduction and torture of Papuan activists an unacceptable situation has developed. These events and allegations must be comprehensively investigated and all funding for Densus 88 frozen until either the allegations have been disproved or the individual police officers guilty of crimes arrested and tried in an open court. We call on the Australian government to immediately halt the funding of Densus 88, to investigate the claims of its misconduct, and to apologise to the Papuan people if they are proven to be true.
What Kind of International Solidarity?
A recent article by Martin Pelcher in the online publication "people-land-truth" focused attention on the growing violence in West Papua, particularly during the months of May and June, when Indonesian security forces increased their assaults on Papuan citizens, purportedly to counter growing violence by "unknown" elements. Pelcher notes that there is broad suspicion, particularly among Indonesian observers, that the "unknown" elements are in fact the security forces themselves seeking to create pretexts for their expanding operations in West Papua.
Pelcher concludes his report "Fear, Grief and Hope in Occupied West Papua," with a provocative analysis of the impact of growing international attention to the plight of Papuans. That portion of Pelcher's analysis follows:
Given the complexity and volatility of the political situation, it is not clear what helpful role solidarity advocates can play. The Indonesian state and media do not hesitate to attribute signs of Papuan 'separatist' agitation to the shadowy forces of a 'foreign conspiracy' seen as responsible for East Timor's independence.
It is worth understanding Indonesian nationalist anxieties in their historical and geopolitical context: the Indonesian nation was founded when the then revolutionary national army expelled Dutch colonialists from most of the archipelago after WWII; 15 years later, the military launched operations to chase the Dutch out of Western New Guinea as well (the Dutch finally retreated under US and UN pressure). At the time, the standard Indonesian nationalist narrative framed the incorporation of Papua as a question of opposing imperialism, and the West Papuan movement as colonial puppets. More recently, Western support for East Timorese independence -- and signs of such support being extended to West Papua -- have been easy to frame as vehicles for the West's neo-imperial manipulation and pursuit of the region's abundant mineral and petroleum resources.
The more Western advocates succeed in focusing global attention on the plight of Papuans under Indonesian rule, the more the Indonesian security establishment can deploy the specter of a 'foreign intervention' (like the UN's intervention in East Timor) to mobilize Indonesian public opinion behind its harsh policing measures. The current moment poses a stark challenge to action oriented observers: how to generate global solidarity against injustice in West Papua without strengthening the state's pretext for terror?
Part of the answer may lie in the spaces for exchange that are being generated through networks like Intercontinental Cry: spaces where actors engaged in different worldwide struggles for justice can share perspectives (ideally) unmediated by giant corporations, intergovernmental institutions, INGO culture, or unreflexive settler-colonial privilege.
To put in plainly: the international West Papua solidarity movement is in need of platforms for exchange that do not center the voices and perspectives of white people. Subject to numerous waves of colonization, displacement and militarization, West Papuans have political affinities with colonized, displaced, racially-deprived, and otherwise subjugated peoples at a global level.
But the dynamics of history and geopolitics have produced a situation where mainly white NGO workers and human rights activists have largely monopolized international access to the scene of West Papuan resistance politics. Collaborations with leftists and rights activists in Indonesian cities have been key to the Papuan movement, as they were for East Timor; so have expressions of support by African-American and Pacific US legislators.
Still, global Papua solidarity advocates have prioritized high-level lobbying towards Western powers, at the expense of possibilities for 'South-South/ intra-'Fourth World' networking. For Indonesia's deep security state to lose its 'anti-imperialist' pretext for repression, solidarity linkages need to bypass neo-colonial adventurist-activist gatekeepers (including this author) -- agents of what Teju Cole (referring to the 'Stop Kony' debacle) has called the White Saviour Industrial Complex.'
In the 1950s, when Dutch planners were forced to abandon their colonial project in Indonesia, they refocused their fantasies of 'ethical' imperialism on the supposedly 'blank slate' of Western New Guinea. These colonial agents framed Papuans as 'primitives' requiring 'development' before they could be allowed to govern themselves. The legacy of this history lives on in the Indonesian state's colonization project, fed by media depictions of Papuans' supposedly 'backwards' life ways.
Throughout this history, Papuans have consistently been imagined as objects to be governed by others, rather than as political actors struggling for dignity. Transnational human rights advocacy has succeeded in getting the story of Papuan suffering out there on the global stage; but the spectre of Western intervention is also justifying and motivating the terror it seeks to stop.
Prevailing models of international advocacy may not be working for West Papua; they are easy for the security state to manipulate towards its own ends - which happen to suit other powerful global actors as well. Western-centric human rights champions need to consider making way for alternative paradigms of direct solidarity among colonized and displaced peoples.
(WPAT Comment: WPAT welcomes comment on the above analysis, particularly regarding approaches to increasing the effectiveness of international solidarity with the Papuan people. WPAT will publish responses in future "West Papua Report" editions, as space allows.)
Groups Respond to Mystery List of Papua Supporters
[A number of international groups named in a list of OPM supporters have issued a statement rejecting the Indonesian charges, challenging the government's strategy of seeking "to blame others for problems created by the Indonesian government's and security forces' own policies and actions."]
A list is currently circulating on the internet which purports to list international supporters of the OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdek) in West Papua. (See for example, ) This list includes our organizations among others. We speak here only for our own groups and not necessarily for any others listed.
We do not know who created the list or when. It is full of typos and other errors, including groups that no long exist and may never have existed. The list includes the original name of one of us; ETAN changed its name in 2005.
Lists like these (see here for another example: seek to blame others for problems created by the Indonesian government's and security forces' own policies and actions. We saw this in East Timor, where instead of acknowledging the depth of the local opposition to its occupation, Indonesian officials insisted resistance came from a handful of East Timorese, emboldened by international supporters. Indonesia must stop blaming outsiders and seeing enemies everywhere. It must take responsibility for its failures in West Papua. It is these failures which our organizations seek to address.
The implication of the list is that expressing concern about West Papua is interfering in matters internal to Indonesia. We strongly reject that.
First, much of our advocacy is in response to pleas for help from within West Papua.
Second, we are urging that Indonesia adhere to its international responsibilities by following the UN Charter and human rights international conventions and treaties, many of which Indonesia has signed or ratified.
Moreover, much of our advocacy is focused on our own countries, addressing the roles of our own governments and the international institutions to which they belong, as well as the impact of multinational corporations active in the territory. We work to change our own governments' policies so they support human rights and justice. We seek to limit our governments' support for Indonesia's security forces which regularly violate the rights of West Papuans. By doing so, our governments can contribute to a lessening of violence and peaceful solutions to West Papua's problems.
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), USA
Tapol, the Indonesian Human Right Campaign, UK
Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), Australia
Indonesia Human Rights Committee, Auckland, New Zealand
Peace Movement Aotearoa, New Zealand
Medical Association for Prevention of War (NSW), Australia
Australia West Papua Association, South Australia
Foundation Pro Papua, The Netherlands
Disarmament and Security Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
Pax Christi Aotearoa-New Zealand
Swedish Association For Free Papua
Down to Earth
Survival International
West Papuan Women Association in the Netherlands (Vereniging van Papua Vrouwen in Nederland)
West Papua Courier, The Netherlands
Indonesian Legislature Charges Freeport with Arrogance
The breakdown in negotiations between the Indonesian Government and the U.S. copper and gold mining giant Freeport-McMoran prompted an Indonesian legislator to charge the U.S. firm with "arrogance."
Dewi Aryani of the Commission VII of the House of Representatives said Freeport had no intention of renegotiating its contract. "The country's dignity has been trampled on and nothing could be done facing Freeport," the legislator from the opposition PDIP told Antara on July 28.
Dewi said the government wants change in six areas: the "concession area; extension of contract; royalty; regulation requiring processing and refining of mineral ores in the country; share divestment; and the requirement to use domestic mining goods and services." Freeport only offered to increase the gold royalty from 1 percent to 3.75 percent of selling price. The royalty is less important compared with other points, she said.
WPAT Comment: The failure of negotiations between the Indonesian government and Freeport obscures a more fundamental problem related to the 45 year Freeport operations in West Papua. The current negotiations, like all previous Jakarta-Freeport discussions, ignore the reality that the vast resources being exploited are situated in West Papua. Despite this reality, Papuans have never played a significant role in the negotiations which govern the exploitation of those resources. Moreover, Freeport has repeatedly relied on the force of Indonesian security services to address persistent protest by Papuans over the extraordinary burden imposed on them by Freeport's mining practices.
Excellent Analysis of The Merauke Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE)
An article by Selwyn Moran, published by the Asian Human Rights Commission, reviews and updates the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) project. This is Jakarta's plan to convert a vast area of West Papua into a corporate controlled food and energy production zone.
The article, MIFEE: The stealthy face of conflict in West Papua, highlights the devastating impact the plan will have, and in some instances is already having, on local Papuan groups.
Moran describes "a slow and stealthy conflict, the transformation of such a great expanse of forest into farmland cannot be done overnight, nor can forest people casually leave behind their identity and livelihood to enter this brave new world. The Malind have a long struggle ahead of them, whether they aim to reject the developments entirely or find some way to adjust to life in very different surroundings."
The Indonesian government's failure to take into account tribal rights and the dishonest dealings by the corporations with local peoples is a saga that is strongly reminiscent of the exploitation of peoples seen in the colonial era.
Link to this issue:
Back issues of West Papua Report
Congratulations to Timor on 10 years of independence.
Read about ETAN's 20 years of work for for human rights, justice and democracy: ETAN needs you support in 2012.
Twitter: @etan009

Next in World

Declining Fertility Rates Put Prosperity Of Future Generations At Risk
Three Lessons I Learned On My Visit To Cuba
By: Globetrotter
As H5N1 And Mpox Raise Alarm, Leaders Are Gambling Through Neglect Of Pandemic Preparedness
By: The Independent Panel
Facing A Surge In Wildfires, The U.S. Government Turned To Native Wisdom And Advanced Archaeology
By: Human Bridges
Macron's 'Dialogue Mission' Takes A Break From Unrest-ridden New Caledonia
PNG Opposition Outwitted By The Government Again
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media