Wednesday, January 24, 2018

West Papua 2017 Year in Review

West Papua 2017 Year in Review

                                         Rally outside Indonesian Embassy Canberra 27 Jan 2017

January 2018

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28 Spit Junction NSW Australia 2088

This report details incidents of human rights abuses and events that occurred in West Papua during 2017. It is by no means exhaustive. In the report AWPA uses the name “West Papua” to refer to the whole of the western half of the Island of New Guinea. However, “West Papua” at this time is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua.

There was no improvement in the human rights situation in West Papua in 2017. Human rights abuses and incidents of intimidation and torture of West Papuan activists and human rights defenders continued to be committed by the Indonesian security forces throughout the year.  A number of military operations “sweeps’ took place in response to alleged attacks on the security forces or on   vehicles operated by the Freeport copper and gold mine. There are many actors involved in these attacks and the security forces use various names for the assailants from the Free Papua Movement (OPM), armed gangs, armed criminal groups, unknown assailants, separatists, and unidentified gunmen. However, these operations leave the local people traumatised and in fear for the lives. The security forces also seem to have great difficulty in distinguishing between what they term separatists and the general public. 

The Year began with a number of sweeping operations in Dogiyai regency. In the period between the end of December 2016 and January 2017, sweeping operations were conducted by the security forces in Dogiyai. Two residents, Otis Pekei and Melkias Dogomo died as a result of injuries received during the operations.  Dozens of residents were also beaten by the security forces. The purpose of the sweeps was to maintain security leading up to elections to be held in February.

Melkias Dogomo was detained on the 23 December and died at home on the 7 January because of injuries received in police custody.  Otis Pekei was detained while travelling to Nabire. He was reportedly tortured by the police on Tuesday 10 January and died in police custody. The security forces also seized clothing with symbols of the Morning Star such as bracelets and hats and intima died local people.  Because of the regular sweeping operations residents demonstrated outside the Office of Legislative districts in Dogiyai.

Dogiyai community who are uncomfortable with the sweeping action of the security forces staged a demonstration to the Office of Legislative districts Dogiyai - Jubi / Philemon Keiya

The year ended with another sweeping operation by the Indonesian security forces in the Mugi district of Nduga regency. The sweep resulted in the wounding of 5 civilians  which included  two high school students and the torture of four people and two houses burned. 
In a press release (21st Dec.), The Coalition for Justice, Law and Human Rights in the Central Highlands of Papua, Civil Liberty Defenders and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) requested that the Indonesian security forces, military and police do not act indiscriminately in the Mugi district.  The military said the incident occurred after an attack by the OPM against against TNI personnel on the 12 December resulting in the death of an excavator operator and the wounding of a security force member. The Papua Military Command Area chief Col. Inf. Muhamad Aidi, denied there was a sweep and that the security Forces had shot civilians in Mugi District. It was also reported that after the security forces conducted the operation, they blocked access to the Nduga region and anyone travelling to the area had to apply for a special travel pass which must be obtained through 5 Indonesian military/police guard posts at 5 points.

Extract from media release
“The incident caused the excavator operator Yovicko Sondak to pass away and one member of Indonesian military, Prada Didimus Abindodifu was injured. This incident led to the sweeping action by the combined Indonesian military and police apparatus. According to the information we received, the sweep was conducted at Daragma Airport, Mugi District, Nduga regency. Using two commercial aircraft, the security forces fired randomly at people coming to the airport as well as toward people's houses and other buildings around Daragma Airport”.  

We are continuously being told by governments that the human rights situation in West Papua is improving. The incidents throughout the past year prove otherwise. Unfortunately 2018 has begun with the security forces intimidating members of the KNPB.  The Free West Papua Campaign reported (10 Jan) that 14 KNPB activists were arrested on 7th January for raising a KNPB flag. The activists were arrested by the Indonesian military and police in Kisor and were taken to the Indonesian police station in Aifat. They were finally released after about 5 hours in custody.

West Papua 2017

Detainment of four Papuan students for alleged treason extended
Four West Papuan Students who were arrested with up to 80 other students in December 2016 by Manado Police were charged with treason (the other 80 were released). The Manado Police said the suspects violated article 106 of the Criminal Code on treason, which carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and 20 years as a minimum. Amnesty International released an urgent action concerning the arrest. They were released on 28 January 2017 by the North Sulawesi Regional Police Force (Polda) They are unable to travel and have been ordered by police to remain in Manado, North Sulawesi. They are still being charged with “rebellion” (makar) and could face life imprisonment. 

On 24th January 2017 the Free West Papua Campaign launched the Global Petition for an Internationally Supervised Vote. The petition was addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, and called on him to address the human rights situation in West Papua and to ensure West Papua’s right to self-determination through a vote.

Australian -Indonesian relations
Another hiccup occurred in Australian -Indonesian relations when Indonesian announced on the 4th January that it was halting all military ties with Australia after an Indonesian special forces Kopassus soldier complained about material at the SAS barracks in Perth.  The material was reported to make fun of the five pillars of Indonesia’s founding philosophy ‘Pancasila. It appears the soldier was insulted by a poster on display which made fun of “Pancasila” calling it ‘Pancagila’ the five crazy principles. The complaint by the Indonesian soldier also referred to training material about Indonesia’s involvement in East Timor and West Papua. Both sides quickly started to repair the damage with Indonesia saying only the educational part of the program had been suspended. The Australian Minister for Defense, Marisa Payne, released a statement saying the matter would be investigated.  It would seem that the Indonesian President  (and a number of Indonesia’s military) were also caught by surprise at the break in military relations and some opinion pieces commented that the statement of a break in relations came from TNI ‘s Chief Gatot Nurmantyo who has a dislike of Australia because of if its involvement in East Timor. The West Papuan solidarity movement has been calling on the Australian Government for years to stop all ties with the Indonesian military and It's a pity it did not come from the Australian side because of ethical reasons i.e. because of the behavior of the Indonesian military in West Papua.  The crises ended after Australia’s army chief Angus Campbell apologized for the training material found at the Perth army base. The army personnel ­involved in either creating or ­distributing the materials that caused the controversy were eventually disciplined. 

West Papua raised at UN
The Pacific Countries again raised the West Papuan issue at the UN.  Ronald K Warsal, the Minister of Justice and Community Development in Vanuatu critised Indonesia at the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva (1 March 2017) over the human rights situation in West Papua. He was speaking on behalf of a coalition of seven Pacific countries Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Palau, Marshall Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. In concluding his statement the Minister said,  “as I close, we believe that challenges of West Papua must be brought back to the agenda of the United Nations”.

Protesters from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) held protests on Friday 3 March under tight police security against the Freeport mine. Scores of demonstrators from the AMP and the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) unfurled banners and conveyed a number of demands, including the closure of the PT Freeport gold and copper mine in Papua at the Malan city hall in East Java. The spokesperson for the AMP and FRI-West Papua said that the action represented Papuan society’s anxiety saying there are so many violations at PT Freeport and that it was creating misery in the land of Papua. The action also demanded the right of self-determination for West Papua.  There was a small Counter action by about five religious pupils from an Islamic boarding school. Our action is intended to counter them, said one of the religious pupils taking part in the rally. The religious pupils claimed that would continue to monitor actions by the AMP who they believe is promoting separatism because of their demands for independence. The group supervised the action from the beginning until the end. During the action the five religious pupils unfurled red-and-white Indonesian flags on their chests. (PMW 6 march).

Indonesian police deported two French reporters who were filming a documentary for Indonesia’s Garuda Airlines. The Tembagapura Immigration Office in Papua deported the two French nationals on the 17 March for violating their Indonesian visa. The two French journalists, Jean Frank Pierreand Basille Marie Longhamp were banned for six months for allegedly violating the 2011 Immigration Law. The immigration said they were not holding the necessary permits from the authorized agencies.

Antara News reported (20 March) that around 400 students from a number of campuses took to the street asking for the government to close the Freeport copper and gold mine in Papua.  The students carried banners reading "Close Freeport” and said the local people have no significant gain from the operation of the company after around 50 years here. "Close Freeport. Freeport has caused extensive damage to the environment in Papua," one of the students said.  The students rallied in front of the city’s Post Office before they moved to the city centre with police on guard.

Papuan students calls for closure of Freeport
Hundreds of people grouped under the United Students Front for Freeport Closure staged a rally in front of the Papua Legislative Council and called for the closure of United States-based giant gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia, which has operated in Papua for 50 years. They said the mining company was the main cause of rampant human rights abuses in the region. “The presence of Freeport in Papua does not bring prosperity but instead has caused sufferings, poverty and massive human rights violations on this land,” said activist Pilipus Rubaha on Monday.  
Protesters also distributed pamphlets detailing their demands, including the withdrawal of Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police personnel from Papua given rampant shooting incidents allegedly committed by security forces against civilians. (Jakarta Post 21 March).

Standing for rights: Papuan students call for the closure of US-based giant gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia in a rally in front of the Papua Legislative Council on March 20. (Courtesy of Piet Hein/File) Photo in JP.

Papuan students also protested in Bali against Freeport
Dozens of students grouped under the Papuan Students Alliance (AMP) in Bali protested on Monday in front of the United States Consulate General on Jl. Hayam Wuruk, Denpasar. They expressed their rejection of the presence of gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia in Papua.  The students carried handouts that read "Freeport has to rehabilitate environmental damage", "Freeport came, human nature in Papua lost", "let us make our own choices". The leader of the protest, Gidion Logo, said in 51 years, Freeport had not given any real benefit to the community in Papua.  (Jakarta Post 20 March).

On the 28 March police shot dead a suspected leader of a separatist group in Papua during a raid. Police claim the man Maikel Merani was on their most-wanted list. The incident occurred in Konti Unai village.   Police said they confiscated a Morning Star flag, an assault rifle and ammunition during the raid. Maikel reportedly hid in his family's home in Yapen and resisted arrest before being shot dead. The police also harassed other family members at the house, according to the witness and took a man believed to be Maikel's father to their office for interrogation.

Tempo reported that a missile detachment would be established in Bintuni Bay, West Papua.  The detachment would be equipped with radar monitors and is included in Kodam’s new strategic territorial plan to secure vital state assets in West Papua. One of them is the oil and gas refinery operated by SKK Migas and BP Tangguh. “We’ll establish one missile detachment under Kodam XVIII Kasuari to secure vital state assets such as the oil and gas mine that are located here,” Major General Wayangkau said on Wednesday 5 April 2017.

The police fired rubber bullets at Freeport workers during a rally in Timika on the 20 April. Six Freeport workers suffered injuries from the shots. The workers were staging a rally in front of the Timika District Court and demanding the release of a fellow worker, Sudira, who was standing trial for embezzlement.

The Jayapura Police arrested dozens of West Papuan National Committee (KNPB) members in Sentani as they were about to commemorate the handover of the administration of West Papua by the   United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) to Indonesia.   On the 1st May in 1963 Indonesia took over the administration of West Papua from United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) and every year the West Papuan people commemorate and protest this tragic betrayal of the West Papuan people by the international community.

Jayapura Police Chief confirmed that they had ‘secured’ as many as 53 KNPB supporters. The police took those arrested to the local Police station to question them about the purpose of the rally. However, after being identified they were then released. Although 53 people were first arrested up to 200 others were also brought to the police station for questioning. 

Photo from Free West Papua Campaign

The police destroyed a stage that had been set up for the rally, intimidated  people  and removed   materials such as KNPB flags and documents from the he KNPB secretariat. In relation to the arrests on the 1 May, former Senator Scott Ludlam  (The Greens) raised the incident and the human rights situation in West Papua at the FADT Committee hearings.

On Monday 1st May a Police officer was shot in the Lanny Jaya district. The police officer was in a kiosk located in Tiom Market when he was shot by an armed man. The unidentified gunman fled towards Yiginoa after shooting the officer. The police officer was rushed to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

On the 31 May 77 members of the KNPB were arrested in Merauke. The police arrived at the KNPB secretariat in a truck and four patrol cars and arrested those present. Although in a new twist on language the police said the KNPB activists were not arrested but were “gathered and directed”.  According to a KNPB spokesperson the police came to investigate the ongoing activists at the secretariat, as the KNPB was not a registered organisation. The activists were eventually released but personal belongings and items with the Morning Star symbol were confiscated.

Resort Police of Merauke raid KNPB Merauke secretariat and arrested 77 people (31/5), released the same day – IST (Photo in Jubi report 2/6)

A police officer in Wamena, Jayawijaya allegedly mistreated a minor on the 16 June. As a result of his mistreatment the youth, Albert Nawipa (15) had to be treated at Emergency Installation (IGD) RSUD Wamena. Yance Tenoye from Jayawijaya Institute for Law and Human Rights Studies and Advocacy said that Albert was beaten by police officers who served in Pasar Potikelek.  The Chairman of Advocacy Network of Law and Human Rights of the Middle Mountains, Theo Hesegem asserted that the police was not professional. 

A light aircraft operated by Susi Air was forced to make an emergency landing at Kota Mulia Airport in Puncak Jaya district, Papua on the 17 June after an unidentified group opened fire hitting one of its tires and the fuselage. The police confirmed reports that the plane was carrying police officers and election organizers from Lumo subdistrict. The plane landed safely in Mulia subdistrict. There were no casualties in the incident.

Thousands of mine workers at the Indonesian unit of Freeportl extended their strike for another month to protest against layoffs. Up to 6,000 workers will remain on strike, Freeport Indonesia union industrial relations officer Tri Puspital told Reu Workers started a strike in May after Freeport laid off around 10 percent of its workforce (Jakarta Post 22 June).

A large number of West Papuan National Committee (KNPB) activists were arrested in Nabire between the 30 June and the sixth of July. On the 30th June a West Papuan activist Yanto Waine went missing for 3 days and it emerged that he had been arrested on Mulia Road in Nabire. It was his arrest that led to a chain of events resulting in up a large number of activists being arrested. On hearing of his arrest, a peaceful demonstration was held on the 4 July calling for the release of Yanto Waine. This resulted in another 31 people being arrested. Although Yanto Waine was released on the 6th July a large number of people marched to the Indonesian police station in Nabire to call for the release of the remaining detainees. However, it was reported they were also arrested. The names of 104 people arrested were confirmed. According to members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), during the arrests people were kicked, punched, and beaten with guns, and rattan canes. The activists were released on the 7 July. The Indonesia government claimed there were no mass arrests of West Papuans and only one KNPB sympathiser was arrested on July 1st and released the next day.

Activist Priest Challenges Nation’s Treason Law
An Indonesian priest in Papua has joined with rights activists in filing a judicial review of the country’s treason law in the Constitutional Court. They said the right to freedom of expression is being abused by authorities who slap treason charges against people for simply taking part in peaceful demonstrations. The activists want the court to clarify what provisions in the law justify the charge and whether they are constitutional. Father John Djonga said the law is used as a tool by the government to suppress the voices of Papuans protesting against injustice and rights abuses “Ordinary Papuans stage demonstrations to protest abuses by the state apparatus, as well as lack of health and education services, but they are later arrested and charged with treason,” he told on July 13. Their lawyer, Yusman Conoras, said the government is applying the law in a very discriminatory way. (15 July by UCAN).

Army officers torture indigenous Papuan with no consequences
The Asian Human Rights Commission released an urgent action (21st July) concerning the torture of a Papuan man by Army officers. The Incident occurred on the 22 June 2017. The full urgent action link below.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the local network in Papua about torture against Mr. Niko Hisage, committed by army Sergeant Major Lucas and two other army personnel from the sub-district military command of Wamena city. Without any evidence, the military accused Mr. Niko, an indigenous Papuan, of selling three cows belonging to Sergeant Major Lukas. Niko was tortured and forced to confess. Subsequently, the military refused to investigate the case and also refused to compensate the victim. Considering that the victim is a civilian, the police should take over the investigation process; as of now however, the police have yet to investigate, leaving the perpetrators to walk free. 

Another urgent Action released by the AHRC 27 July 2017
Papuan human rights defender insulted and intimidated by military command
 The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that Mr. Theo Hesegem, a coordinator of Advocacy Network for Law Enforcement and Human Rights (JAPH-HAM) in Wamena, Papua, was intimidated and insulted by military officers of Jayawijaya regent, due to his advocacy efforts in the torture case of Mr. Niko Hisage. While there has been no military or police action to prosecute the military officers responsible for torturing Hisage, the military is now attempting to dissuade Mr. Hesegem for his efforts to seek justice for the victim. Link to full U/A

On August 20, 2017. Police officers of the Fak-Fak police station (Polres Fak-Fak) arbitrarily arrested 24 KNPB members. They were illegally arrested because they were registered to attend a meeting organised by KNPB in Fak-Fak Regency. (AHRC 21 August).

Security forces open fire on villagers in Deiyai district
One person was killed and up to 17 injured including a number of children when the security forces opened fired on a crowed when responding to an incident in Deiyai district. The incident occurred on the 1st August when one of a number of men swimming in a river got into difficulty.  The villager asked a group of workers at a company’s construction site to take the person to the hospital. A worker refused the request, as he feared he would be blamed if the patient died on the way to hospital. This angered the locals, who gathered at the site to confront the workers. The security forces deployed to handle the incident fired at the villagers killing one and injuring others. Indonesia's human rights commission has sent its members to Papua to investigate the incidentIn a Reuters report on the incident a “Police spokesman Kamal said its internal investigation unit and commission members had begun questioning construction workers on Thursday. They would interview police officers involved in the incident on Friday”. 

On Monday 21 August thousands of people rallied in Deiyai to demand the perpetrator of the recent fatal shooting in the regency be brought to justice. They also wanted contractor firm PT Putra Dewa Paniai and the police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel to be forced out from the Mee Pago indigenous area.
Thousands of people rally in Deiyai, Papua, on Monday to demand the perpetrator of a recent fatal shooting be brought to justice. (Courtesy of/Abeth Amoye You). Photo in JP.

Yulianus Pigai, 28, was found dead with several gunshot wounds when Brimob personnel tried to disperse a crowd that had destroyed the construction camp of the firm in Tigi district, Deiyai regency, on Aug. 1."Thousands of people marched to the Deiyai Legislative Council over the incident During the rally, the demonstrators also performed traditional dances while others carried signs and banners slamming the incident (Jakarta Post 21 August).

Jubi (24 August) reported that in a parliamentary plenary session, Wednesday (August 23) the Regent and Deiyai Parliament ​​had agreed to expel PT Dewa Putra Paniai and Brimob (mobile brigade) troops from the region. The decision was taken at the open plenary session of Deiyai ​​Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) in the local parliament office hall, related to the shooting case in Oneibo village, Tigi district, Deiyai, August 1, which killed Yulianus Pigai (30) and injuring 16 others. The meeting was chaired by Deiyai ​​DPRD Chairman, Yunias Edoway, attended by Deiyai ​​Regent, Dance Takimai; Paniai Police Chief, AKBP. Supriyagung; the 13 members of Parliament; Deiyai Regional Secretary, Marten Ukago;, Assistant Regional Secretary of Deiyai; Sector Police Chief pof Tigi, Ferry M. Mahue; religious leaders, women leaders, traditional leaders, the Regional Indigenous Council of Deiyai, as well as other local community. Chairman of Deiyai Parliament Special Committee, Alfred Pakage, said the special plenary session relate to the demand of Deiyai people through People’s Solidarity for Humanitarian Concern of Deiyai ​​(SPKRD) by holding a peaceful protest on Monday (August 21). “In the peaceful action of the people ​​it conveys two things for us to tackle, they asked us to stop all activities of PT. Putra Dewa Deiyai ​​Paniai by revoking the business license of the compan in the districts and urged Papua Police Chief to immediately withdraw thBrimob unit from Deiyai,” said Alfred Pakage to Jubi, after the plenary session. He supported the aspiration and asked Regent of Deiyai ​​and Police Chief of Paniai to process the demand as soon as possible. (Jubi 24 Aug).

A number of vehicles and facilities owned by PT Freeport were burned at the Gorong-gorong Terminal and PT Petrosea's office complex on Jalan Cenderawasih, Timika. The police said the destruction was caused by former Freeport employees and subcontractors on Saturday 19 August. 

Mass of employees on strike burned a vehicle belonging to PT Freeport. (Photo in

Pacific Islands Forum
West Papua was put back on the agenda at the Pacific Islands Forum (after a number of years absent) and Concern about the human rights situation in West Papua was raised in the Forum’s official communiqué at the last three PIF Summits. The PIF Leaders have asked Jakarta to allow a PIF fact-finding mission West Papua but so far there has been no response from Jakarta. The Indonesian President has said that West Papua is now open and the authorities are saying that the human rights situation is improving. If this is the case why not allow a PIF fact-finding mission to the territory?

The 48th Pacific Islands Forum was held this year from 4-8 September in Apia, Samoa. In a series of meetings starting with the Smaller Islands States Leaders Meeting on the 4 September, it ended with the Forum Leaders Retreat on the 8 September. The theme of this years meeting “The Blue Pacific – Our Sea of Islands”.   

Leading up to the Forum, CSOs in the region called on the PIF leaders to continue to press Jakarta to allow a fact-finding mission to West Papua. A not very strong mention of West Papua in the official communiqué.  At best it got a mention.

d) West Papua (Papua)
37. Leaders recognised the constructive engagement by the Forum countries with Indonesia with respect to elections and human rights in West Papua and Papua and to continue a dialogue in an open and constructive manner.  

However, leading up to and during the Forum, it was encouraging to see a lot of media attention on the issue of West Papua thanks to the ongoing awareness raising by the people of the region. Nauru will host the next forum in 2018

72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Sept. 2017
The Pacific leaders again raised the issue of West Papua at the 72"d Session of the United Nations General Assembly General Debate in New York.  Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands, Tuvulu and from the Caribbean region, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines all raised concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua. The Vanuatu Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas in his summary said,
“The Human Rights Council should meanwhile address the situation in West Papua, he said, calling for decolonization to be put back on the United Nations radar”,

and In a RNZI report (23 Sept.). He also accused world leaders at the UN of turning a deaf ear to more than half a century of atrocities committed by Indonesia on the people of West Papua, and "We also call on our counterparts throughout the world to support the legal right of West Papua to self-determination and to jointly with Indonesia put an end to all kinds of violence and find common ground to facilitate a process to make their own choice. "

Shootings at Freeport 
On Sunday 24 September a water tanker truck and patrol vehicle reportedly belonging to Freeport were shot at by unknown assailants while traveling to Mile 61 in the mining area.

A driver of a patrol car, sustained injuries to his cheek and shoulders from shards of a broken window, after the car he was traveling in was shot at by unknown assailants at Mile 60 in the mining area of PT Freeport on Monday 25 September. The shooting occurred when the patrol car was traveling with 30 other vehicles carrying mining workers from Timika to Tembagapura. The gunshots were heard from the left side of the road. Following the incident, 20 of the vehicles could not immediately continue their journey to Tembagapura. (Jakarta Post 25 Sept).

West Papuan People’s Petition
On September 26, the West Papuan People’s Petition was handed over to the United Nations by the West Papuan independence leaders. The petition asks the UN to appoint a special representative to investigate human rights abuses and “put West Papua back on the decolonisation committee agenda and ensure their right to selfdetermination … is respected by holding an internationally supervised vote”.

Benny Wenda from the Free West Papua Campaign released the below statement on the 17th October concerning a spate of human rights violations committed towards West Papuan people in the first half of October.

Attacks, disappearances and killings by unknown persons are now part of daily life for West Papuans  (Free West Papua Campaign October 17, 2017)

This month, several West Papuan people, particularly activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) have been intimidated, attacked and killed by the Indonesian police and so called “unknown persons”.

On 14th October, in Port Numbay (Jayapura), 19-year-old West Papuan activist Alex Sambom from the KNPB went missing and the next day was found dead. He had been stripped naked and brutally murdered. It is believed that he was beaten to death with wood.

On 16th October, also in Port Numbay, West Papuan student activist Rosalina Fonataba was attacked in a hit and run attack by suspected members of the Indonesian police. She suffered wounds on her hands and feet and it is believed she was targeted after uploading photos with the West Papuan flag on social media.

On 16th October, in Dogiyai, West Papuan man Petrus Iyai was brutally beaten until bloodied by the Indonesian police mobile brigade (BRIMOB), for demanding his rightful pay after dropping off 2 passengers at Moanemani airport.

On 8th October, in Sorong, Indonesian police confiscated 4 West Papuan traditional bilum bags with the West Papuan flag on them. When asked why, they replied, “Because it’s terrible and violates the law”.

On 4th October and 16th October, West Papuan students studying in Indonesia were terrorised by the Indonesian police as their student dormitories in Manado and Tomohon were been searched and raided by the Indonesian police.
There have also been many other cases of intimidation, harassment, torture and killings against West Papuan people in recent weeks. 
Full statement at

Trouble at the mine

A number of shooting incidents occurred in the Tembagapura area between 21st and 29 October. Freeport vehicles were shot at, clashes occurred between the security forces and an armed group, leaving one security force member dead and a number injured. The police have referred to the attackers, as either OPM, an armed group or a separatist group. The police believe the group is lead by Sabinus Waker. Police believe that Sabinus and his men are responsible for the incidents and the group reportedly consists of 20 people.

On Saturday morning the 21 October, an armed group opened fire on two Freeport vehicles in Tembagapura. The driver of one of the cars received minor injuries.  On Saturday afternoon two Brimob members were also injured during a firefight with an armed group in Utikini village in Tembagapura district.

 The clash took place as Brimob personnel led by First Inspector Taufik chased after the group that had shot at the two Freeport vehicles on Saturday morning. The two personnel were taken to Tembagapura Hospital. Although stable they were moved to Jakarta for a more intensive treatment in Kramat Jati Police Hospital.

On Sunday, 22 October, First Brigadier Berry Pramana Putra from the mobile brigade corps was shot dead at Utikini Bridge in Tembagapura District.

On early Monday morning when the police attempted to retrieve the body of Putra, the armed group resumed its attack and injuring four police.

On Tuesday, the group attacked a vehicle of Tembagapura Hospitals medical team that was carrying a post-natal patient in Utikini Village. The patient Serina Kobogau was shot in her right thigh.

According to Antara News (25 Oct.), during the sweeping operation in pursuit of the armed group, the police managed to take over the groups base camp and other camps around the Utikini hills in Tembagapura. The police have also found handmade weapons, a walkie-talkie, and some other equipment.

On Wednesday 25 October, an armed group attacked a patrol vehicle at the 60-mile mark on an access road to PT Freeport Indonesia’s mine in Tembagapura, Mimika District. Nobody was injured.

On Sunday 29 October the Brimob post in the MP66 area of Freeport at Tembagapura was shot at by a group of unknown people. "Our members were being shot at from an altitude from the left side from mile 68," said Police Chief Commissioner AM Kamal, Head of Public Relations at Papua Police”, Kamal said the members of Brimob had returned fire.

RNZI reported (24 Oct.), that Community leaders in the village of Utikini said a house was burned to the ground by the Indonesian Military Police.

Utikini Village in Tembagapura Photo: supplied (Photo in RNZI report 24 October 2017) 

The leaders said that on Saturday police came to the village and set fire to the house, which was destroyed, along with livestock. The leaders, Tambua Wakerkwa and Yulianus Tabuni, said their people were now living in fear. They have called upon the Indonesian president Joko Widodo to command the military to stop harassing them. The leaders claim the incident was sparked by the shooting of a car belonging to the PT Freeport mining company. But they said none of their people were involved in the shooting.

Antara News (30 Oct.) reported that police have increased the alert security status in Tembagapura District of Papua Province. "We hope that the security condition in Tembagapura could be returned to normal soon," the Head of Papua Regional Police Inspector General Boy Rafli stated here on Monday. The police have been implementing the alert security status since last Sunday, after the increase in security disturbances in the region.    

The Jakarta Post reported (5th Nov.) that “Five kiosks were burned in Kampung Utikini  around at 2 a.m. on Sunday 5th November. There were no casualties as the kiosks were empty at the time. The kiosks were situated close to the Tembagapura Police dormitory According to the police there was a brief exchange of fire with the armed gang during the attack.

Five kiosks owned by local people in Kampung Utikini, Mimika, Papua, were set ablaze by an armed group at 2 a.m. on Sunday. There were no casualties in the incident. (Courtesy of Papua Police/file)  (Photo in Jakarta Post 5 Nov.)

Hostage crisis
On the 9 November the Indonesian security forces claimed that about 1,300 people had been taken hostage in two villages, Kimbeli and Banti near the Freeport mine by a group of approximately 100 men, 25 who were armed and the rest with traditional weapons. The Papua police chief Boy Rafli Amar said people were prevented from leaving the villages. The police spokesperson said a state of emergency has been declared and around 300 additional security forces have been deployed to the mining area in preparation for a counter-terror operation. 

                                                             Ilustrasi - Dok. Jubi (In Jubi 15 Nov 17)

Hendrik Wanmang who described himself as the commander of the armed group said in an interview that Banti and Kimbeli villagers cannot go to an area that separatists defined as a battlefield with the security forces because it is unsafe. But otherwise villagers are free to go to their farms and move about as they please, he said.

The Jakarta Post (10 Nov.) reported that Natalius Pigai, an official with the National Human Rights Commission, said the villagers feared the military and suggested it was waging a public relations campaign to portray the separatists as criminals.
"People are terrified, that's why (the Free Papua group) are standing the military cannot enter," he said, adding that many of the gunmen had family members in the villages. "I assure you there is no hostage situation. It is impossible (they) would hold their own relatives hostage." A Papua police force spokesman said the group was trying to disrupt activities at the nearby mine, but Freeport said it had not received any demands from the group and its operations were unaffected.
The region is off limits to foreign journalists without special permission, making the accounts difficult to verify.

The SMH also reported on the 10 Nov. that a community leader from one of the villages caught up in the conflict inside Papua's giant mining area has insisted that all villagers are safe. "I would like to stress we are not being held hostage," Jonathan Kibak, a community leader from the village of Banti, told Fairfax Media. "No one in the village is being stopped from doing daily activities."
Mr Kibak said native Papuans such as himself, were farmers who could live on the cassava, soybeans and other produce that they grew, and had no desire to be evacuated from the area. However he said they were scared the military and police might mistake them for members of the West Papua National Liberation Army.
Mr Kibak said the non-Papuans were also safe. "The non-natives are not being held hostage, they are free, but TPN can't guarantee their safety if they go through the battle zone and get caught in gunfire." Mr Kibak said the West Papua National Liberation Army searched the shops of non-Papuan villagers to ensure they were not smuggling things in for the military, but the shops had not been burned down.
"They are safe, they are not being treated differently. They are our neighbours."

A RNZI report (13 Nov.) said an Indonesian human rights lawyer reported that there is no hostage crisis in the Mimika regency of Papua province as claimed by police and government officials. The lawyer Veronica Koman said this was a distortion and that local people told her they were able to leave their villages.
Extract from report. "Police and military have been patrolling there, like stationed there. And what prevents the villagers to go back and forth is that they are terrified by the Indonesian police and military," she said. "They are afraid that they will get shot. So that's what is actually happening there." Ms Koman was in contact with people in the villages, as well as the TPN, seeking to verify Indonesian media reports about the conflict.

Indonesian police and military said they were trying to capture the perpetrators of the shootings, which killed one person and injured several others in September.
Police said their approach was a "persuasive" one, however, there were sporadic exchanges of gunfire, according to Ms Koman. She also said that contrary to Indonesian media reports, the heavy presence of the security forces was hampering, rather than assisting, the villagers' ability to access their food gardens. "They are being intimidated and reluctant to garden, so they've just been living and eating just by buying stuff from kiosks. But they've also been intimidated by lots of questions by police and military while they buy their food. "So the Papua [provincial] government has been trying to send food to Banti village, but police blocked this access," said Ms Korman. (RNZI 13Nov.)

The security forces evacuated 345 villagers of Kimberly and Utikini villages on Friday afternoon (Nov 17) ending the so-called hostage situation.

A member of Papua Regional Representative Council (DPD-RI) from Papua, Yanes Murib, accused TNI and Police of making public deceived of the situation in Tembagapura, Timika to all Indonesian people. “Media propaganda is overdoing it, as if the people in Banti and surrounding areas are in a critical or emergency situation,” said Yanes Murib to Jubi, Monday (November 20). He asserted that the alleged hostage taking by TPN-OPM in Kampung Banti and surrounding areas is not true. He called the information as a propaganda that brings into conflict.
“It should be informed to the public that conditions on the ground are not as reported by the national media and the local media are all propaganda,” Yanes added. (Jubi 24 Nov.)

The Indonesian unit of Freeport-McMoRan has temporarily shut the main supply route to its Papua mine after a shooting incident, a spokesman said, amid escalating tensions between security forces and an armed rebel group in the area. No one had been reported hurt after shots were fired at a vehicle, but the main supply route to the world's second-biggest copper mine had been temporarily closed while the security situation was assessed, Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said in text message. (SBS News 12 Nov).  Freeport reopened the main supply route on Monday Nov 13).

Unidentified gunmen fired at a patrol car owned by PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) in Tembagapura, Mimika regency, Papua, on Tuesday morning, injuring one employee.
The vehicle, which was on its way from Mile 68 to Mile 72, was entering an area near a helipad at Mile 69 at 8:20 a.m. local time when unknown assailants fired three shots at it, said Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. AM Kamal. One of the bullets went through the car door and injured Freeport Indonesia employee Raden Totok Soedewo in the thigh. Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel on board the vehicle began to open fire, but the attackers fled the scene. "The victim was immediately brought to Tembagapura Hospital while our personnel stood guard at Mile 69," Kamal said. (Jakarta Post 14 Nov.)

An Indonesian policeman was shot dead and another was seriously wounded near the Freeport mine on the 15 Nov. The two members of the Police's Mobile Brigade [Brimob] were shot by an armed group while on patrol, reported that a group of armed criminals on Saturday, Nov. 18., at 6 a.m. Eastern Indonesian Time set haul truck belonging to Freeport   on fire in Lower Wanagon. Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli on Saturday confirmed the burning of heavy equipment belonging to Freeport and also the unsuccessful attempt of gunning down an employee’s car. Based on the police report, the acts were committed by 10 people.

1st December. West Papuan National Flag day
West Papuan national flag day was celebrated with flag raisings ceremonies held throughout the pacific and around the world.  

In West Papua the security forces arrested people celebrating their national day in Nabire, Merauke, Salatiga and Ternate. In the Nabire Regency police arrested three members of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Nabire. Yohanes Kogopa, a member of KNPB told Jubi during a press conference at KNPB Nabire secretariat, that the three KNPB members were Melcisedek Yeimo, Kris Mote, and Yulianus Boma. “The Police came to our secretariat at around 7:00 am when I still asleep. I was very surprised,” he said on Friday (December 1st). He also said there were about four gunshots heard. “When I was awake and dribbled for the third shot, I ran to the back of the secretariat,” he said. Several police personnel also smashed some part of the secretariat, which resulted of several broken glass, broken front doors, broken boards, and a blackboard hollowed out. “The three of our member were then forcibly arrested,” he said. While arresting their members, their motorcycle was also taken by the police. “But it’s not our motorcycle, it’s owned by our neighbor,” he said. Up until 17:15 PM when the press conference took place, the three are still detained in Nabire resort police. Alex Pigai, one of Nabire’s KNPB administrators, added that KNPB demands their friends held in Porles Nabire to be released immediately (Jubi 4 Dec.).

The First United Liberation Movement for West Papua Leaders Summit was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu from 27th November to 3 December.  In another historic celebration of the first of December in Port Vila and with an overwhelming show of support from the Vanuatu Government and its people, the Vanuatu Government handed over to the ULMWP Leaders attending their first ULMWP Summit, the title to the land and the key to a building to house their struggle for self determination.  The property will be jointed owned by ULMWP and Further Arts a Ni Vanuatu Charitable Organisation. The ceremony took place on the afternoon of the 1st of December following a march from Fatumaru Bay to the building on the land where Crow’s Nest is. The Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, Deputy Prime Minister Joe Natuman, Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu (now Foreign Affairs Minister), Parliamentary Secretaries Johnny Koanapo and Andrew Napuat, as well as the President of the Malvatumauri, the head of the Vanuatu Christian Council and local activists were all present. Inspiring and informative speeches were given. Wonderful music and refreshments was offered to the guests.

Jayapura, Jubi – The Free Papua Movement led by Purom Okiman Wenda, based in Lanny Jaya, Papua, claimed to be the perpetrator of the shooting at Lanny Jaya Police Station in Tiom while police officers were held a morning routine brief on Wednesday (December 6). “We did the shootings when we happened to be passing by and the Lanny Jaya Police apparatus was held a brief, then we fired in. There were two police officers were hit,” said the claiming party as Purom Okiman Wenda to Jubi on Wednesday (Jubi 11 Dec.)

Hundreds of students and youth who are members of the Alliance of Students of the South Papua ‘invaded’ Regional Representative Office (DPRD) of Merauke Regency. The demonstration was to commemorate the World Day of Human Rights (human rights) every December 10. On Monday (December 11), before heading to the office of the council, hundreds of students held speech in the Brawijaya Circle (Libra). They then rallied headed to Merauke parliament. Various banners were carried contained condemnation to the TNI/Polri who committed acts of persecution against Papuan people, also the indigenous land grabbed for investment activities. At the office yard number of students made speeches. They demanded the completion of number of human rights cases that occurred in Merauke Regency (Jubi 15 Dec.).

66 arrested, 4 beaten in pro-Papuan independence rallies across Indonesia
West Papuan students have demonstrated to reject Indonesia’s occupation and were joined by an unprecedented wave of solidarity from people across Indonesia, reports the Free West Papua Campaign. The West Papuan Student’s Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) held rallies in 14 Indonesian cities on Tuesday, December 19 – Jakarta, Denpasar, Manado, Solo, Ambon, Ternate, Yogyakarta, Sula, Moratai, Malang, Bandung, Bogor, Salatiga and Semarang. The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) also demonstrated in Port Numbay and Biak, West Papua. The growing support from Indonesian people in solidarity with West Papua is reaching new heights and shows similarity to Indonesian solidarity with the people of Timor-Leste (East Timor) in the late 1990s, reports the Free West Papua Campaign. While all the rallies held were peaceful, Indonesian police and police militia tried to break up the demonstrators’ freedom of expression. In Malang, East Java, 66 people were arrested and some of those arrested were assaulted.

Free West Papua rally to reject “Operation Trikora” in Malang, East Java, Indonesia. Image: AMP

Elia Agapa from the West Papuan Students Alliance told Suara Papua: “Our mass action saw 66 of us surrounded and blocked for demonstrating peacefully.
“There was a clash and four of those from our mass action were wounded. One of those four people is a West Papuan woman.” The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) demonstrating in Biak, West Papua, to reject 
“Operation Trikora” and to show their support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). An AMP and FRI-WP action in the East Java city of Malang was blocked by police. One of the protesters, Elia Agapa, explained that the action was blocked by a reactionary mass organisation (Ormas). Police, who witnessed the incident just watched and allowed it to happen, surrounded the demonstrators after it turned chaotic. A clash broke out between the AMP and FRI-WP demonstrators and a joint force of police and Ormas members. Asia/Pacific Report (21 Dec.), Suarapapua, Translated by James Balowski).

Unfortunately 2018 has begun with the security forces intimidating members of the KNPB.  The Free West Papua Campaign reported (10 Jan) that 14 KNPB activists were arrested on 7th January for raising a KNPB flag. The activists were arrested by the Indonesian military and police in Kisor and were taken to the Indonesian police station in Aifat. They were finally released after about 5 hours in custody. 

The future
The West Papuan people will eventually achieve their own self-determination. It is now 54 years since Indonesia took over the administration of West Papua and the West Papuan people   are still marching in the streets risking arrest and torture and calling for their right to self-determination. As long as the West Papuan People continue to protest the injustices they suffer under Indonesian rule and their supporters continue to help in raising awareness of the issue, they will be successful.  

What can be done?
There is information on the various web and facebook pages (to numerous to mention) where people can receive further information and respond to urgent actions. Information on events and rallies are also posted on these sites as well as upcoming campaign information. 

The information in the report is based on the many urgent actions; reports released by civil society organisations and human rights defenders in West Papua and from information received. AWPA monitors the Indonesian, International and local media in West Papua which is obviously a valuable source for information on all issues related to West Papua. The report mainly looked at human rights abuses and does not touch on all the other issues of concern in West Papua, Health, Poverty, environmental issues such as Palm Oil, Mining, deforestation etc.  Regular postings covering these issues can be found on the net and at


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