Connect with us

Politics, Government & Security

Papuan war cries echoed through the jungle canopy



West Papua National Liberation Army – Jubi

By : Craig Harris

IN the jungle of West Papua the Indonesian military was on the move. Freedom fighters were hiding out in a certain village, and make no mistake, the military knew of their presence. Papuan lookouts caught sight of the military 10 miles before the village. Quickly, through ancient communication skills, the village was warned. All women and children ran to higher ground and safety. The freedom fighters laid the foundation for evident battle. These small skirmishes happen throughout the highlands of West Papua, at times on a daily basis. As the military approached, the first arrow was shot and laid to rest in a soldier’s leg. Papuan war cries echoed through the jungle canopy.

In a land the size of California with a population of two million Papuans, the region remains one of the most isolated in the world. Many human rights activists call Papua “Indonesia’s dark dirty secret.”

Indonesia’s latest president, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, is desperate to keep hidden its brutal 50-year war in its eastern-most province. Indonesia seized West Papua, the western half of the island of New Guinea ,in 1963, shortly after the Dutch colonists pulled out. Since then all foreign journalists have been banned from the territory. A police state has shackled the vast region ever since. It battles a low-level tribal insurgency and suppresses independence aspirations with such vigor that raising the Papuan national flag, Morning Star, can land you 15 years in prison. It’s estimated, according to Yale University research, that over 200,000 Papuans have lost their lives, 10 percent of the population.

Most Papuans consider themselves Melanesian, with more in common with darker-skinned Pacific populations, such as the people of Vanuatu or Solomon Islands. Indonesians often treat Papuans as racially inferior. Culturally, linguistically, and ethnically, Papuans have little in common with Indonesians. For the overwhelming majority, nothing short of independence will suffice.

However there is another truth to the Papuan struggle, those who have turned their backs on their own people — otherwise known as “fat cats.” These so-called Papuans have learned to work both sides of the confrontation and have profited largely. Their ambition seems to be strictly monetary. Well-connected to the government they strategize in hopes of keeping the conflict never ending.

Theys Eluay, at one time the Papuan tribal chief, mastered the game. In 1965 at the early age of 27 Eluay became chief of the Sentani tribe. Sentani is located in Jayapura, the capital of Papua. At 32 he voted to join Indonesia under the fraudulent UN “Act of Free Choice.” Unlike most chiefs, he believed it was the best choice. He cooperated with the military and provided intelligence about the resistance movement. Years later, he was imprisoned on charges of treason, accused of plotting Papua’s violent succession. While in jail he confessed to friends that he had given authorities information that led to the deaths of Papuan independence fighters.

In 1977 Eluay was given a seat in the provincial parliament as a member of President Suharto’s ruling Golkar party. Eluay’s transformation to Papuan hero began in the early 1990s. Denied reappointment to parliament by his party after 15 years in office, he became preoccupied with restoring his name. He saw that his future lay in fighting for independence.

In 2002, Eluay was killed by Kopassus, Indonesia’s elite military. Many Eluay supporters believe it was assassination by the government to squash Papua’s growing separatist movement.

Eluay recognized in his later years that his passion lay in supporting his people toward a better life. He had a vision above and beyond money. “Those Papuan’s that continue to profit from the chaos have no vision and will meet their destiny at a later date.”

As I write this, the world is becoming more aware about Papua. Through social media and lobbying by hardworking Papuans living in exile in other countries, progress is moving forward in a multitude of ways. Benefits, concerts, and demonstrations across the world are bringing attention to the Papuan cause.

Even the world surf community is asking its followers to boycott Indonesia. Under websites such as word is getting out. (*)

Craig Harris is a correspondent for


Traumatised Papuans flee conflict in Nduga





West Papua Liberation Army monitoring Indonesian military flyover in Nduga, 11 July 2018. – Photo: TPNPB/

Nduga, Jubi – Thousands of West Papuan villagers have reportedly fled from their homes in a remote regency due to conflict between Indonesian military forces and pro-independence fighters.

This follows a string of deaths in Nduga regency where Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army have exchanged gunfire in recent weeks.

Three people were killed in an attack on police at the local airport two weeks ago during regional elections. A faction of the Liberation Army claimed responsibility.

Following the attack, about a thousand extra police and military personnel deployed to the remote regency as part of a joint operation.

They have been conducting an aerial campaign over the Alguru area in pursuit of the Liberation Army, with unconfirmed reports saying at least two Papuans have been shot dead and others injured in recent days.

A police helicopter was reportedly fired on by a faction of the Liberation Army last week, although it is unclear whether it was in response to rounds of aerial artillery fired by the military over Alguru.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has accused the Indonesian military of bombing in Nduga.

“Bombing, burning houses, and shooting into villages from helicopters are acts of terrorism,” the Liberation Movement’s chairman Benny Wenda said.

“The Indonesian government’s horrific acts of violence against the Melanesian people of West Papua are causing great harm and trauma.”

The Nduga regent, Yarius Gwijangge, last week made a plea to the security forces not to shoot from the air because he feared this could lead to civilian casualties.

With the situation in Nduga remaining tense, a local Liberation Army Field Operations Commander, Egianus Kogoya, confirmed a number of Alguru villagers had fled from their homes.

“All the (Liberation Army) soldiers scattered back into the forest with 50 heads of family from Alguru village without possessing or not carrying their possessions, in order to save themselves from the death threats of Indonesian military and police bombs,” Mr Kogoya said.

“The Indonesian military helicopters fired the bombs, four times with huge explosion through air strikes at Alguru village. As a result of this attack, the gardens and houses of the people in Alguru’s village are flattened with the ground”.

However, Indonesia’s military published a statement saying reports that security forces were conducting airstrikes or dropping bombs were a hoax.

It said military forces were working with police in “law enforcement activities” in Alguru which is considered a stronghold of the Liberation Army and the OPM Free West Papua Movement.

Indonesian authorities have described the Liberation Army as armed criminals rather than by their pro-independence moniker.

Meanwhile, Responding to the attacks, the largest organisation of Christian Churches in Indonesia called for the country’s human rights commission to open offices in Papua region.

The Communion of Churches (PGI) urged Indonesian authorities to stop repressive action and adopt a strategy of persuasion.

It said the National Commission on Human Rights should open an office in Papua, citing a government mandate under Papua’s special autonomy laws.

PGI spokesman Irma Riana Simanjuntak said Indonesia’s government should establish a fact-finding team to verify deaths in recent attacks and guarantee the public’s safety.

Human rights workers, journalists and medical workers should also be able to access Papua, Mr Simanjuntak said.

Indonesia officially ended restrictions on access to Papua in 2015 but human rights groups and journalists continue to face hurdles when trying to travel there.

Trauma revisited

Young people in Nduga are tired of violence triggered by politics, a West Papuan from the regency said.

Speaking from the Papua provincial capital Jayapura, Samuel Tabuni said he had been in contact with friends and family in Nduga.

Thousands of Nduga villagers had fled from the regency since the violence surged during last month’s elections, Mr Tabuni said.

The villagers were terrified by recent developments which echoed shootings and killings that took place in previous Indonesian military deployments to the remote region, he said.

The recent influx of Indonesian military had brought back memories from 1996 in particular, when Indonesian military commander Prabowo Subianto led special forces into the same area on a campaign to save hostages held by the Free Papua movement commander Kelly Kwalik.

“That’s why when a lot of troops… army and police coming in to Nduga, Kenyam, most of our people are afraid, you know, that the same thing is going to happen,” Mr Tabuni said.

“So we are deeply traumatised. That’s why when a lot of troops… army and police coming in to Nduga, Kenyam (the regency’s capital), most of our people are afraid, you know, that the same thing is going to happen. ”

Special Autonomy Status was granted to Papua by Jakarta in 2001 with the promise of developing its human potential but in Mr Tabuni’s view this had not transpired.

“Conflicts in Special Autonomy is more than in the past because of this politics,” he said.

“The regional politics as well as the politics in terms of campaigning (for) being head of regency and governors. So these two politics kill many Papuans, honestly, especially those that are young.”

Mr Tabuni said many young Papuans wanted dialogue between Indonesia’s government and those pursuing independence to find a peaceful solution.

“We don’t want to be invoved in all this politics and conflict and war. We have to have open dialogue to solve all the problems.”

Meanwhile, human rights activists urged the security forces to withdraw their join operation in Nduga, saying it was having a major impact on the lives of local villagers. (*)



Continue Reading


Freeport’s one percent fund cannot guarantee Kamoro’s future




Mathea Mamayou, a native Kamoro woman whose tribe affected tailings produced by PT Freeport Indonesia. – Jubi / Doc

Jayapura, Jubi – The Secretary for the Government, Politics, Law and Human Rights Commission of the Papua House of Representatives Mathea Mamoyao, who is also a Kamoro native, said ‘one percent fund’, 1% of Freeport’s gross revenues go to the local tribes, does not guarantee the sustainable future of those tribes.

“I don’t know whether this compensation is still there or not. I don’t want certain people took advantages on it, while people are still living under the poverty,” she told Jubi on Wednesday (18/7/2018).

Further, she said what she wants is a guarantee for the Kamoro tribe to live in a better condition in the future. But the fact is the education and health services in the Kamoro region is still poor. “For all the times, I’ll keep talking about it, because as a native, I don’t want the young generation of my tribe not to survive in the future,” she said.

Meanwhile, the board of Meepago Customary Council John NR Gobai said indigenous peoples as the tenure landowners collect the promise of the Indonesian Government on the bargain involved Freeport, the Central Government and the landowners on 4 September 2017.

“At that time, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Ignatius Jonan agreed to accommodate the request of Amungme tribe asking Freeport to give a reimbursement of 1% fund which they received as the Corporate Social Responsibly funds into larger value shares,” he said. (*)


Reporter: Arjuna Pademme

Editor: Pipit Maizier

Continue Reading


Military could only arise trauma among locals




Student activists from BEM Uncen and PMKRI speak during press releases. -Jubi / Doc

Jayapura, Jubi – Chairman of Student Executive Board of the Cenderawasih University (BEM UNCEN) Paskalis Boma asks Papua Police to withdraw officers from Nduga District to prevent people from trauma.

He said the attack by the police officers occurred in Langguru and Kenyam on 11 July 2018 was very violent. “Nduga is part of Indonesia. If the police want to attack the National Liberation Army and Free Papua Movement (TPN/OPM), they shouldn’t harm the civilians,” he told Jubi on Wednesday (19/7/2018).

Further, he said the military’s attack in Nduga District was excessive as they attacked unarmed people whereas they were well-equipped. “People don’t carry weapons; they can’t fight back. They can’t do it because they are the citizens of Indonesia. This incident remains a scar and is rooted in the hearth of the local Nduga community. It only arises a fear.”

Meanwhile, Benediktus Bame, the Chairman of the Catholic Students Association of Indonesia (PMKRI) St Efrem Jayapura, the government could apply some human approaches towards the TPN/OPM. “The action taken by the government officials was very excessive. It would only arise a fear among the local people,” he said. (*)

Reporter: Hengky Yeimo

Editor: Pipit Maizier

Continue Reading