Jayapura, Jubi – Allegations of recent military and police intimidation, beatings and torture, kidnapping and murder in West Papua, have been documented in a new Church report.
The report documents Muslims being radicalised in the once predominantly Christian Papuan provinces, and “very active” Muslim militias that burn down Papuan houses.
The report was compiled by the Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace Commission’s Shadow Human Rights Fact Finding Mission to West Papua, following a visit to West Papua last month. It has not yet been publicly released, nor comment sought from Indonesian authorities.
The report documents religious, social and economic discrimination including how the carve up of land for major development has benefited multinationals and excluded Papuans from ownership and jobs. It refers to a slow motion genocide happening 250km north of Australia and states that “the Indonesians want to replace the Christian religion with Islam”.
The report author Josephite Sister Susan Connelly was accompanied to West Papua by Brisbane archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission executive officer Peter Arndt. During their fact-finding mission they interviewed more than 250 community leaders in Japapura, Merauke, Timika and Sorong.
Sr Connelly, a respected human rights advocate, likened her visit to West Papua to “stepping back twenty years when I first went to East Timor”.
“The same oppressive security presence everywhere, the same suspicion, bewilderment, frustration and sadness,” she said.
“The same fear. The same seemingly groundless hope.
“A man took my hands in his and said, ‘We are in danger’. That simple statement sums up for me the experience of the whole visit.
“The Papuan people have lost so much, and are facing erasure as a people, merely preserved as oddities of the past or artifacts to be photographed for tourist brochures.
“They realise that their land is considered more valuable than they are.”
The fact-finding team heard many accounts of alleged military and police brutality and murder.
“There is clear evidence of ongoing violence, intimidation and harassment by the Indonesian security forces,” Mr Arndt said on his return to Brisbane.
“That is especially the case for Papuans expressing their support for particular political points of view.
“Authorities want to close down any Papuan efforts to promote discussion about self-determination, and they have applied a military response to deal with the irrepressible desire of a large number of Papuans to promote their cause for freedom.”
Based on his interviews across West Papua, Mr Arndt (pictured) identified the instigators of alleged human rights violations as members of the Indonesian army including Kopassus, police including a special counter insurgency unit, Detachment 88, and Indonesia’s intelligence agency, BIN.
“Even demonstrations about social issues such as access to education get broken up by authorities,” he said.
The fact-finding team heard many examples of how the Indonesian Government pushed economic development, but ignored human rights.
“The Government has carved up the land and given it for exploitation to some 50 multinational companies,” the report said.
“The procedure is that the local government invites companies to come and gives permits.
“People are usually shocked when the companies come to sign a MoU (memorandum of understanding) with them, showing them the permit and the map.
“If the villagers don’t agree to the proposal, the company goes back to the local government and returns with the police.”
In the 1970s, ethnic Papuans accounted for 96 per cent of the population. Today they are a minority 48 per cent, because of the rapid migration of Indonesians from other more populated islands such as Java.
The report found that Papuans were now marginalised economically at the expense of immigrants, the majority of whom are Muslims. The report said there was “a movement for Muslims from Indonesia to replace Papuans in every sector”.
“The Indonesians want to replace the Christian religion with Islam. Many mosques are being built everywhere. They want Papua to be a Javanese Malay nation,” the report said.
“Radicalisation is happening in Papua, with some militias very active near the border with PNG.
“They burn down the Papuan houses. They are recruited as illegal loggers. Their camps and logging are well protected by the military.
“The military are certainly killing the people, and closed access to opportunity to Papuans in all areas of life constitutes a slow motion genocide.
“The general opinion encountered was that Indonesia is a total failure regarding Papua and is just another coloniser.
“The Indonesian Government does not give opportunities to Papuan people or protect them.
“It was said that most Church leaders try to deal with the problems one by one, but the whole picture should be looked at as a series of policies designed to overcome the Papuan people.
“In every sector of government the system is composed of Indonesian tactics to destroy the Papuans.
“Beatings and torture are used, but also the economic aspects of lack of opportunity, the sidelining of the indigenous peoples, the taking over of land by companies … are part of the plan.”
Accusations in the report
– A young, wealthy businessman poisoned in 2015. He had financially supported building an office for the National Committee for West Papua, an independence-oriented group. He also funded Papuans being sent to international conferences.
– A Papuan woman activist arrested in 2015 by police for holding a prayer service in support of an international conference in London. She and her group were interrogated for five hours.
– In January this year, 27 Papuan palm oil workers were allegedly tortured by the Indonesian army’s special force Kopassus. The men had previously complained to their company bosses after they had not been paid for two months.
– A man aged 35 who used to work for Papua’s Freeport gold mine was kidnapped in 2015, killed, and his body thrown on the street. There was no sign of torture and the police told his family that it was an accident.
– Police and military broke up community activities such as prayer meetings.
– In September 2015, 18-year-old Daniel Bowgow was killed. His father was a local prayer meeting leader.
– People reported they couldn’t move freely at night to search for food for fear of being kidnapped. The military and police use Papuan informers to let them know of people’s movements.
Thousands of people take refuge to the forest, says the Church authority
Jayapura, Jubi – Thousands of residents of Mbua, Yall and Yigi sub-districts reportedly sought refuge in the forest following the raid conducted by the joint police and military forces towards the West Papua Liberation Army that claimed to be responsible for the shooting incidents of the workers of PT. Istaka Karya on 2 December 2018.
The residents are mostly the congregation of the Kingmi Papua Church. “We received reports from Yigi and Yall informed that about five presbyteries have taken refuge to the forest since the evacuation of shooting victims conducted,” the Rev. Dr Benny Giay told Jubi on Sunday (9/12/2018).
Further, he described that the five presbyteries are including Yigi Barat presbytery of six congregations, Yigi presbytery of six congregations, Mbua presbytery of six congregations and Mbulmuyalma of eight congregations. Meanwhile, for Mugi presbytery, he doesn’t have detailed information yet about how many groups that fled to the forest.
“Each congregation is on average consisting of 30-50 heads of families. So, it estimated that the total of refugees is 780 householders. If each family consists of two family members, it means there are more than 1,500 refugees,” explained the Rev. Giay. The Kingmi Church, further said Father Giay, is Christian’s denomination that dominant in Nduga. They have approximately 60,000 followers in Nduga.
Moreover, he added that in the previous military raid between June and July 2018, there were fifty families in Alguru village where suspected the hiding place of the insurgent group had a refuge to the forest. Then, there were 150 people went to Timika, whereas 116 people exited Nduga to Agats, Asmat Regency regarding the incident occurred in Nduga within the last eight days.
Meanwhile, the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (MPH-PGI) expressed their profound condolences and deplored the use of violent-approach either by civilians, insurgents or state apparatus in solving the problems in Papua.
“The violence, in any form, in our opinion, would never solve a problem, but create new scars and wounds which in turn will create another circle of violence,” wrote the Rev. Dr Henriette T.H. Lebang, the Chairperson of PGI in their pastoral message regarding the incident in Nduga.
Furthermore, PGI calls on all parties to stop all forms of violence and sit together to solve the existed problems with humanity and dignity. “Only through this way we can liberate Papua from its entangled problems,” she continued. (*)
Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Four residents reportedly died, others run to forest following the evacuation of shooting victims in Nduga
“Two died in Mbua, while two killed in Yigi. They are all my closed relatives. The military shot them while doing the evacuation. One of them is my uncle. He was a church board member named Yulianus Tabuni,” a Papuan youth figure Samuel Tabuni told Jubi by phone on Sunday morning.
He said that people on Mbua, Yall and Yigi sub-districts are currently moving to the forest. Therefore, he thinks this will possibly increase the number of dead victims due to lack of food and health problem during the refuge.
Further, he said he got the information about the death of four civilians in Mbua and Yigi from his family. So, he believes that it’s true. However, he cannot ensure other victims.
He also added that his family told him that the security forces had forced some priests to become their guide in the military operation against the West Papua Liberation Army that claimed behind the attack against the workers of PT. Istaka Karya. He also cannot confirm the recent rumours of military airstrikes.
“Both information and transportation accesses to Nduga are difficult now. So we cannot verify each information we received,” said Tabuni.
Meanwhile, as quoted by republika.co.id, the Public Affairs Chief of Cenderawasih XVII Military Command Colonel Infantry Muhammad Aidi asserted that the military did not use bombs and do airstrikes from plane or helicopter in chasing the insurgents in Nduga, Papua. The Indonesian Military, he further said, know and understand about the applied rule and procedure.
“No airstrikes occurred in this operation. It only involves the human resources, the soldiers who do the evacuation. No bombing,” said Aidi on Friday (7/12/2018).
By contrast, the Head of Nirkuri Sub-district Yosekat K. Kamarigi told VOA Indonesia that the shootings were targeted the residents’ shelters in the forest. The recent data affirmed that there are at least four people injured and two died because of the gunfire. The two dead victims were the civil servants from Wuridlak village and Kujondume village.
“We announced through radio asking the residents to meet in one location or to gather in the church’s yard. But they were scared because the police and soldiers shot their gun arbitrary. So, I asked them to save the photographs, videos and so on for evidence, and they said they already kept some of it,” added Yosekat, quoted by VOA Indonesia.
A church board member confirmed dead
Separately, when confirmed by Jubi on Sunday (9/12/2018), the Rev. Dr Benny Giay confirmed that the death of a member of Kingmi Church Board named Yulianus Tabuni.
“That’s right. Yulianus Tabuni is a church board member in Mbua, has no relation with the armed group. He used to take care of the church’s collection,” the Rev. Giay told Jubi on Sunday (9/12/2018).
Moreover, according to the Rev. Giay, a member of the congregation of Kingmi Church reported that he was shot in the church by the security force while evacuation of the shooting victims in Nduga. However, the reason behind his shooting was still unclear.
Kingmi Church has approximately 60 thousand followers in Nduga
The residents of Nduga Regency is the majority members of Kingmi Church. Therefore, the Rev. Benny Giay asked President Joko Widodo to pay attention to the progress of the military operation conducted by the Indonesian Police and Military after the president’s order to chase the armed group.
“It’s near Christmas. Our followers want to have Christmas in quiet and peaceful. We also need to visit Nduga, because the majority of Nduga residents are the followers of Kingmi, but now we can’t. We only get a report from residents and the church board in Mbua, Yall and Yigi,” said the Rev. Giay.
He also hopes that the access to Nduga to be opened for independent parties for further investigation regarding the shooting incidents as well as the post-Nduga incident. (*)
Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Papuans’ trust towards Jokowi has diminish regarding human rights solving
Jayapura, Jubi – Chairman of the Papuan Customary Council Dominikus Surabut said that President Joko Widodo’s policy regarding cases of alleged violations of human rights in Papua raised a sceptical trust of Papuans over him.
“It added a sceptical trust among Papuans, especially the victims’ families,” Surabut told Jubi at his office on Tuesday (27/11/2018) in Waena, Jayapura City, Papua.
Moreover, he said that during his administration there were 7,000 Papuans detained by police in peaceful demonstrations. It’s the highest number in the last decade.
And this distrust increased after the appointment of General Andika Perkasa as the Indonesian Army Chief. In the past, he was a member of the military operation in Papua, but his particular tasks were not explicit.
Some media have released about the involvement of General Andika in the murder of charismatic Papuan leader Theys Hiyo Eluai on 10 November 2001 in Jayapura, Papua.
Theys is the Chairman of Papua Presidium Council (PDP), a political organisation that fights for the independence of Papua that established during the administration of President Abdurrahman Wahid and was not popular among the Indonesian Military.
Indoprogress.com said that Andika’s involvement in the murder of Theys has never thoroughly investigated. His alleged involvement in the case revealed by a letter sent by Agus Zihof, the father of a defendant Captain Inf. Rionardo. Zihow who’s a retired army sent a letter to the Former Indonesian Military Chief General Ryamizard Ryacudu.
In his letter, Zihof said that his son was forced to confess to killing Theys by a man named Major Andika Perkasa. He also revealed that Andika promised to give his son a good position in the Indonesian State Intelligent Agency because his father-in-law was an influential person there. A special investigation team formed to investigate the murder case of Theys to examine Andika Perkasa.
Furthermore, Surabut said with human rights violators from the past surround him, Jokowi would never encounter the humanitarian problem in Indonesia.
Separately, President of the Synode of Baptiste Church of Papua, Dr Sokratez Sofyan Yoman, said President Joko Widodo seems to prioritize the formal events rather than the primary development in Papua.
“There is no significant change. Jokowi performs a play” said Yoman.
Moreover, he said Papuans do not require impromptu visits, acting, or carrying children during his visits, waving and smiling.
People amazed by his charming and that he has made ten official visits to Papua. But, He’s not aware that he never touch the main problem in Papua which is respecting human dignity instead of infrastructure development.
“We don’t need money. Our dignity is priceless. Money cannot measure it,” he said.
The more important is that he respects the dignity of Papuans by stopping all forms of violence and investigating who’s behind it because of 7,000 Papuans detained by the police during his administration. (*)
Reporter: Benny Mawel
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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