Saturday, December 15, 2018

Summary of events in West Papua (11 November-16 December 2018)

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

Summary of events in West Papua  (11 November-16 December 2018)

Indonesian security operation
An Indonesian security force operation (sweep) is taking place in the Nduga region at the moment. The sweep is in response to the killing of 16 construction workers who were building bridges on part of the 4,300-kilometer Trans-Papua road project (from Strong to Merauke) which is expected to be completed next year . A soldier was also killed and another wounded in a clash with an armed gang in the area.  There have been a lot of conflicting reports in relation to this incident including the number of those killed which was originally reported to be 31. 

Local landowners led by Egianus Kogoya said that the construction workers killed were not civilians, but were members of the Indonesian Army Corps of Engineers.

In a phone interview with BenarNews (7 December), Sebby Sanbom, a spokesman for the TPNPB, made it clear that the separatist group rejected the government’s infrastructure projects. “This attack is a message to the colonial government of Indonesia that we are fighting for the freedom of the West Papua Republic. We are not asking for the Trans-Papua roads or other development,” Sebby said. Sebby has said that those killed during what he described as an “exchange of fire” were not civilian workers, but soldiers from the army’s engineering detachment.  He said the group that carried out the attack was led by Egianus Kogoya, the local leader of TPNPB.

Villagers flee fighting.
At least 300 villagers have fled to the forest as a result of the sweep.
Pastor Benny Giay, the head of Papua's Gospel Tabernacle Church, told Reuters by telephone, they are cold and hungry after 11 days in the forest,  "They are sheltering right on the slope of Trikora Peak," he said, referring to the 4,750 metre (15,580 ft) mountain in the Nduga area. Security forces are hunting members of the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), which claimed responsibility for killing at least 16 workers and a soldier in the Nduga area this month. The military said in a statement it was trying to convince the people to return to their homes and promised security forces would not fire at them. "We, the Indonesian army, will protect the people. We are all brothers, children of God. Even for the Free Papua Movement, if they want to surrender, we will forgive them," local army commander Colonel Jonathan Binsar Sianipar said. The rebels have rejected calls to surrender and demanded a referendum on the future of the resource-rich area..

A spokesperson for the Indonesian Military’s (TNI) Cendrawasih Military Command, Lt. Col. Dax Sianturi, denied reports that a joint team of military and police personnel involved in a rescue mission to save victims of recent mass shootings in Nduga, Papua, had carried explosives or fired guns during the process.  “It’s fake news,” he said on Sunday as quoted by tempo.coHe said the helicopter utilized to carry dead bodies on Dec. 2 was a logistics carrier. “It was not an assault vehicle. So how could we use bombs?” he said. reported that four civilians were shot dead when security personnel tried to retrieve the bodies of construction workers of state-owned company PT Istaka Karya that had been shot by an armed group linked to the Free Papua Movement (OPM). Samuel Tabuni, a youth leader, said his relatives were shot by the security personnel. “Two in Mbua, Two in Yigi. They were shot during the rescue process,” said Samuel as quoted by
After rescuing victims and civilians, the joint security team is still looking five construction workers who remain missing.

Photos posted on facebook  of military casings reported used by security forces in Nduga
Note. In a tempo report 11 December, the  Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto denied recent rumors accusing the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) had utilized explosive devices upon evacuating residents from threats posed by the Free Papua Movement (OPM). 

He maintained that only grenade launchers were used in TNI’s rescue attempt in Nduga District, Papua. Wiranto’s clarification came after the Nduga Legislative Council (DPRD), Ikabus Gwijangge, received a tip from locals that civilians had fallen victim to TNI’s evacuation process. 

From  a Jubi report (9 December )
It begins with the locals’ complaint

Trans Papua Road Section in Nduga Regency – Ministry of Public Works

Separately, the Rev. Dr Benny Giay, the Chairperson of Papuan Kingmi Church Synod, said the incident that reportedly killed 24 workers of road construction in Nduga Regency triggered by a suspected military member who took a picture of the community worship on 1 December 2018. “There’s worship attended by the community, local government and a man who’s suspected military member,” Giay forwarded a message from a resident to Jubi on Wednesday (05/12/2018). “When residents saw him taking the pictures, they were scared. So, they asked the guy to remove his photos, but he denied,” added Giay. He then left the scene and went to the military post, while people couldn’t make him delete his pictures.  Meanwhile, the worship continued to 2 December 2018. The residents who came to the event asked him to remove the photos. Then, there was gunfire near the military post that caused more than ten casualties. “This is a sequence,” he said. Moreover, the Rev. Giay added that a polemic whether the dead victims are civilians or soldiers, it should refer to the policy of President Joko Widodo during his visit in Wamena in 2016.

FWP Campaign Media alert 
Explosive conflict in Nduga Regency
DECEMBER 14, 2018
We remain greatly concerned about the increasing conflict in the Nduga regency of West Papua. We have received numerous reports regarding the Indonesian military bombing the area, and of the extreme suffering and displacement of villagers being caught in the crossfire. Among the disturbing reports are photographic evidence showing the presence of explosives and burn victims. There are conflicting reports of bombings and use of explosives.  Indonesia’s Security Affairs Minister, Wiranto, has denied accounts of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) of utilizing explosive devices upon evacuating residents. However, he did admit to Indonesian media sources that grenade launchers were used. As evidenced in a photo below, the explosive with the yellow top is a 40mm grenade filled with  phosphorus and fired from a launcher. White phosphorus is designed to cause severe burns. This weapon is manufactured by Indonesia’s state owned enterprise PT Pindad and banned under international law. We want to alert the international media to further investigate the urgent situation happening in Nduga. Because foreign journalists have been banned and heavily restricted throughout the region, it remains difficult to fully relay the grotesque brutality and clear certainty of further trauma to the Papuan people……………….  full release

From a Tempo report
Post Papua Killings; TNI to Open Isolated Access 
Reporter:  Antara Editor:  Ninis Chairunnisa
Jumat, 14 Desember 2018 09:40 WIB

 TNI personnel in Wamena is getting ready to go to Nduga where the attack against Istaka Karya workers took place. ANTARA/Iwan Adisaputra

TEMPO.CO, Wamena - Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) planned to take over the development project of Trans Papua in Yal and Yigi District, Nduga, following the shooting incident by armed groups against workers of PT Istaka Karya.  Military Resort Commander 172/PWY Infantry Col. Jonathan Binsar Parluhutan said that discussions to carry out the plan is still afoot with TNI headquarter. According to him, the order to continue the road and bridge construction projects, that was stopped due to the shooting, had been previously issued.  TNI’s combat engineers battalion will open the isolated access in Papua. “Perhaps, the personnel will enter the area in one to two months ahead, and the equipment will likely be delivered to the area next week. At least, in the next three months we'll have started the work,” said Jonathan Thursday, December 13.  The TNI also planned to synergize with the road agency so that infrastructure project in Papua as in line with the President’s instruction would be continued. “Whatever happens, we have to finish the infrastructure development because it is what we can do to develop remote areas in Papua,” Jonathan underlined.  The commander could yet detail the number of personnel deployed to the area but it is estimated to be more than 500 personnel. 
Head of National Road Agency XVIII of Jayapura Osman Marbun earlier said that TNI would continue the road construction of Trans Papua, yet the plan is still being prepared. Currently, Marbun added, a total of 14 bridges project for the four-year budget in the province has 72 percent completed. 

Statement from Benny Wenda, Chairman of The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in relation to the incident.  (6 December).
 The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) is greatly concerned by recent reports of killings in the Nduga region of West Papua, as well as reports of the Indonesian military bombing West Papuan villagers in retaliation.
On behalf of the ULMWP, I would like to clarify that such unverified reports can be neither confirmed nor denied, nor can we pass judgement or blame before all the facts are known. We cannot ascertain the facts on the situation on the ground because of the profound lack of media access in West Papua, resulting from Indonesia’s ongoing ban of foreign journalists. If the Indonesian government is serious about determining the truth of these events, they must immediately allow media access into West Papua. What we do know is that the Indonesian government, through media propaganda, is once again manipulating events in West Papua for their own interests. By depicting West Papuans as savages with no regard for Indonesian lives, the Indonesian government is trying to systematically stunt the growing solidarity for West Papua shown by the Indonesian people.  

Police, TNI on Manhunt for Armed Group in Papua
Tempo 11 December 2018
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Papua Regional Police and the XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Command are still chasing down the armed group in Nduga District, Papua. The armed men are suspected to have attacked dozens of construction workers of PT Istaka Karya on Sunday, December 2. "We have established a team to hunt down the culprits. We the Papua Police will not cease this pursuit until we arrest and prosecute them by law," Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Martuani Sormin told Antara, Tuesday, December 11. Martuani said the TNI would give full support to the police in order to arrest, process and hand-over the armed group members—led by Egianus Kogoya—to the justice system.
Sebby Sembom, spokesman for the West Papua National Liberation Army, confirmed that the group was responsible for the attack. They claim that the attack was their way of protesting the construction of the Trans Papua road, and they want Papuan independence. Martuani said the group is likely to have military standard firearms stolen from the army and the police, as well as smuggled from abroad. Sometime ago in Sorong, West Papua, the police revealed cases of firearms smuggling to Papua from Mindanao, the Philippines.

Regarding the pursuit, Martuani said the joint team faced considerable obstacles from the difficult terrains. "We are pursuing them on an altitude above 10,000 feet; with thin oxygen, steep slopes, unfriendly weather, no telephone signals," he said. Meanwhile, Commander of the XVII/Cenderawasih Military Command, Maj. Gen. Yosua Pandit Sembiring, asserted that the construction of the Trans Papua road in Nduga Regency will resume immediately. "The TNI Commander made it very clear that the construction of the Trans Papua road will continue, it will not stop," he said. ANTARA

A Jubi report "Thousands of people take refuge to the forest, says the Church authority" at

West Papuan National Flag Day.  1st December
On the 1st December in 1961, the Morning Star flag (the West Papuan National flag) was flown for the first time officially beside the Dutch Tricolor.  The Dutch were finally about to give the West Papuan people their freedom.  However it is one of the great tragedies that at their moment of freedom it was cruelly crushed and West Papua was basically handed over to Indonesia in 1963. Fifty seven years later, the West Papuan people are still struggling for their right to self-determination.  Supporters in Australia and around the world on the 1st December raised the Morning Star in a show of support for the West Papuan people.

In Sydney. AWPA thanks the Inner West Council for supporting the raising of the West Papuan National  Flag on its Leichhardt Town Hall  today30 November to commemorate  the first  official flying of the Morning Star flag on the 1st December in 1961.

Rex Rumakiek (Secretary of ULMWP) with a local Resident preparing to raise the flag
Photos at

                                                                                              And at Indonesian Consulate in Sydney 1st December

Two keen supporters took the flag around Sydney Harbour raising Awareness

Arrests in West Papua and Indonesia
Over 500 people were arrested in West Papua and Indonesia on the 1stDecember. The Jakarta Post reported (1 December)  that in Surabaya alone approximately 300 members of the Papuan Students Alliance staged a protest and  nearly clashed with a separate group that appeared to be staging a counterprotest From the JP report
The students initially gathered in front of the RRI Studio on Jl. Pemuda. They displayed images of the Morning Star flag, the symbol of the separatist movement for Papuan independence, and demanded that Papuans be given the right to self-determination in the name of democracy. The group held a march that was to head toward Grahadi State Building on Jl. Gubernur Suryo, but the police blocked access because there was a ceremony in the front yard of the building . Tensions escalated when a group consisting of around 200 people from the Communication Forum of Indonesian Veterans' Children (FKPPI) and youth organization Pemuda Pancasila showed up to stage what appeared to be a counterprotest, resulting in the two groups yelling at each other. The two groups attempted to attack each other, but the police prevented any physical altercations from breaking out.

The security forces also raided the headquarters of the  West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in Jayapura on the afternoon of the 30 November.  General Chairperson of the West Papua National Committee Agus Kosay said that the security forces  arrived in  six army trucks, two police cars, five police two-axle cars and six minibus cars. The combined security forces swept  dormitories from units one to six,”. Not only that, the authorities also damaged a number of facilities during the raid. A number of students who tried to capture the moment of the raid also did not escape the repressive actions of the police. "The two front doors were broken and suddenly painted in black. The cupboard was kicked to shreds and one blackboard was damaged. Students who took pictures were also told to delete," he said. A spokesman for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Ones Suhuniap said, a number of police officers came to their offices with complete weapons. "The police raided the KNPB headquarters. But they also damaged assets belonging to the KNPB. Including the burning of the KNPB flag," he said. (*) (Source Jubi)

      photos from facebook posting


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights raise concern about arrests in Papua on the 1 December
 Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Ravina Shamdasani  Location: Geneva  Date: 7 December 2018
We are concerned about the large number of arrests – more than 500 – during peaceful demonstrations held to commemorate West Papuan National Day in various locations across Indonesia on 1 and 2 December. We have received reports of security forces using blockades to prevent demonstrators from conducting peaceful rallies in Jakarta, East Nusa Tenggara, North Maluku, Merauke and disrupting prayer services organised by indigenous Papuan students to end the commemorations, resulting in several individuals being arrested and detained. We understand that the majority of arrests took place in the city of Surabaya in East Java where we have received worrying reports of excessive use of force and violence by security forces during a protest where fighting erupted between the protestors and people shouting anti-Papua slogans. Security forces also conducted search operations at student dormitories. These resulted in the arbitrary arrest and detention of at least 300 individuals. All of those detained have since been released without charge. While we acknowledge the complexities of the situation in Papua, we are troubled by the crackdown over peaceful demonstrations and increasing reports of excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua, including harassment and threats to lawyers working on these cases. 

Audio report
Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani explained to UN News' Daniel Johnson on Friday, what’s behind these latest developments.
Audio Credit: Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva 
Audio Duration: 4'21"

West Papuans’ human rights violated on Human Rights Day
DECEMBER 11, 2018
In recognition of  Human Rights Day thousands of West Papuans marched in peaceful demonstrations organised across every area of the region. On a day that was supposed to be about honoring the United Nation’s adoption of the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights, West Papuans ironically had several of those rights violated by their Indonesian oppressors.
According to an initial report by the Komite Nasional Papua Barat (KNPB) 90 participants were arrested. In the Timka and Merauke regions police confiscated megaphones, pamphlets, and cellphones. Among those arrested were two children, both only one years old.  The demonstration at Cenderawasih University was organised by the departments of Social Sciences and Law, and Math and Natural Science faculties. The demonstration was blocked by police. Particpants tried to continue by relocating to other areas, but all attempts were shut down. The KNPB also states that demonstrators were beaten, but specific details of beatings are unknown at this time.
Since the early 1960s, the people of West Papua were supposed to be protected by the United Nations. As a territory on the list of non-self governing territories, West Papua was supposed to be held in “sacred trust.” According to their own charter, the U.N. had an obligation to bring the country in waiting to self government.  They again had a duty to protect the people when West Papua became the first territory the U.N. ever took over administration of as part of a post-conflict resolution. They failed West Papua when they handed over administration to Indonesia within a few months. The biggest dereliction of duty was in 1969 when the U.N. was supposed to protect West Papuans by supervising the ‘Act of Free Choice.’ The U.N. representative left the territory before the vote was scheduled to take place. The staged vote was carried out without universal adult Papuan suffrage with only 1,026 West Papuan men being allowed to “vote.” Their “vote” was to read prepared scripts and raise their hands on camera under the threat of violence. The unanimous results in favor of Indonesian rule raised no challenges or inquiries by the U.N, but was instead simply ‘noted’ and allowed to become the foundation on which Indonesia has based in sovereignty claim over West Papua ever since. Abandoned by the U.N and illegally handed over to Indonesia, West Papua has been ignored for the last six decades…………………………  

March for International Humans  Rights Day Sydney (9 December 2018)
Hosted by FIRE (Fighting In Resistance Equally) Representatives  and supporters from various campaigns joined with  Aboriginal  Peoples’ in the "Defence of Human Rights March in Sydney for International human Rights Day".

100 West Papua National Committee (KNPB) members arrested
AWPA condemns the arrest of over 100 West Papua National Committee (KNPB) members including the newly elected general secretary, Vero Hubi who were celebrating the 10th anniversary of the KNPB. During the meeting the police arrived and arrested the activists. Earlier, the police (fully armed) also raided the KNPB Secretariat without showing a warrant, damaging the property and painting over the Morning Star symbol on the door.  

Markus Haluk, Executive Director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) was also arrested at the meeting. He was invited to be a guest speaker at the event.

West Papua liberation movement calls for UN support for independence referendum in 2019
Peter Boyle December 14, 2018
GLW Issue  1206

Rex Rumakiek, secretary of United Liberation Movement for West Papua. Photo: Peter Boyle.

Rex Rumakiek, a veteran campaigner for independence for his homeland of West Papua, lives in political exile in Australia. He serves as secretary of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). On the eve of West Papua Flag Day, an annual commemoration of the declaration of independence by the Free Papua Movement on December 1, 1961, Rumakiek was part of a group that raised the Morning Star flag over Leichhardt Town Hall in Sydney.
Morning Star flag raisings took place peacefully all around the world, but in Indonesian-occupied West Papua and several cities in Indonesia, peaceful flag raisings were met with violent repression and hundreds of arrests. Many West Papuans were beaten up by police or Indonesian ultra-nationalist militia.
"The flag raisings throughout Indonesia were a ULMWP coordinated activity", Rumakiek explained to Green Left Weekly in an interview on December 13. "There were a great number of Indonesians who participated this time. The West Papuan People's Petition calling for a referendum was also signed by many Indonesian trans-migrants to West Papua."

On December 2, 24 Indonesian road construction workers were killed in Nguda, in a highlands work camp along the controversial Trans-Papua road and bridge project. Sebby Sambon, a spokesperson for the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), which has opposed the project, claimed responsibility for the attack. Since then, the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) have escalated their campaign of attacks on and bombings of villages in the area. Such attacks are not new; just three months ago villagers in the area were killed and displaced by similar military operations. The killing of the 24 road construction workers was just the "latest flash point of the existing tension regarding the road construction contract run by the Indonesian military", Rumakiek told GLW. "It was bound to happen". Rumakiek explained, "The TPNPB warned against the granting of the project to the TNI in 2016, but Indonesia's President Joko Widodo ignored them. It is a common knowledge that those employed by the company are members of the military and militia. "In November, the TPNPB sent a letter to the construction company asking their workers to respect the December 1 flag-raising ceremony and not to work on that day or interfere with the people's activities. One of the construction workers made a video of the flag-raising ceremony. The TPNPB attacked their camp after they refused repeated requests by the people for the video taken to be deleted."

According to Rumakiek, the TNI then declared the whole district an "Area of Military Operation (DOM)". "This has been standard practice for many years. Like many similar DOMs in the past, whole villages are destroyed, including houses, churches, schools, clinics, crops and animals. Those who escaped to the safety of the cold jungle or other districts would have nothing to live on. The TNI will also not allow help from outside the area, including from the Red Cross or from churches. No communication with the outside world will be allowed."
While this largely unreported war on West Papuan villages continued in the highlands, West Papuans held peaceful rallies in several towns. Once again, these were met with violence and mass arrests.

The ULMWP is campaigning for international support for a UN vote on West Papua in 2019. "We will be campaigning all out up to September 2019 to convince more UN members to vote yes for the resolution", Rumakiek said. "Australians must lobby the federal government to support it. Ignoring the issue of West Papua will only prolong the violence and speed up the genocide of our people."

West Papuan independence fighter dies
Vale General Bernard Mawen
AWPA (Sydney)

Photo by Damien Faure from when he visited the border area for footage
for his documentary “West Papua” (2002)
Bernard Mawen was the Southern Commander of the OPM, based in the region abutting Indonesia's border with Papua New Guinea.

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