The Indonesian military (TNI) has once again unleashed terror in the
highlands of Papua. Thousands of indigenous, predominantly Christian Papuans
have been ethnically cleansed from their villages and driven into the
inhospitable jungle where many will die.
During the 20th Century, the Papuans turned from the occult, headhunting,
cannibalism, and internecine tribal war to Christ. They were evangelised
predominantly by Australian and American pioneer missionaries courtesy
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) USA. The missionary story was popularised
by missionary author Don Richardson, whose best-selling book "Peace Child"
(now a feature film) tells how the Sawi tribal practice of making peace with
an enemy through the gift of a child opened the door for even the most
violent Sawi warriors to embrace the gospel.
Today the enemy of the Papuans is not their pagan tribal culture. Today
nothing the Papuans do will bring peace. The TNI know they can kill Papuans
with impunity. And what's more, the Papuans know it too. The contemporary
still-unfolding story of Papua is a story of the genocide of a Christian
people through betrayal and abandonment, aggression, complicity and
SINS OF COMMISSION AND COMPLICITY
Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. first explored Dutch New Guinea (Irian
Jaya, Papua), then a Dutch colony, in 1960. In 1961 Indonesia, the world's
most populous Muslim nation, invaded the sparsely populated, resource-rich
province and occupied it. In 1962 the US brokered a deal with the Dutch.
Known as the New York Agreement it handed sovereignty of Papua to the UN
until a referendum could be held on the status of the province. In 1967,
regardless that the UN was supposed to be in control, Indonesia gave
Freeport "'free rein' to take West Papuan land from the people, to resettle
villagers and compensate them only for the buildings on the land". (Link 1)
In 1969 the UN, the US and other Western states with political and economic
agendas facilitated Papua's annexation to Indonesia. Mining commenced in
1973, so did the protests, and so did the military reprisals.
The present day situation in Papua is complex and multilayered. It involves
Indonesian and Islamic imperialism, racial and religious hatred, political
expediency and complicity, greed, corruption and cover-up.
To 'Javanise' and Islamise Papua, Jakarta facilitates the mass migration of
Javanese Muslims into Papua. It also strategically divided Papua into three
provinces so that today Javanese Muslims are the majority in the majority of
There is little doubt that most Javanese Muslim immigrants view the
indigenous Melanesian mostly Christian Papuans with contempt. Yet while the
ethnic and religious hatred aspects intensify the hostility, they are not
the root of the current crisis. The root of the current crisis is
* The Indonesian military (TNI), which has an appalling record when it comes
to corruption and human rights abuses, is determined to stay engaged in
domestic security so it can operate and be close to its various business
interests. (The Indonesian military raises most of its costs from its
business interests, not the federal budget. The TNI's business interests
range from legitimate investments and companies, to illegal logging,
prostitution, drugs and extortion.) Accordingly the TNI needs conflict - it
needs a real and present "separatist" and "terrorist" threat. Indonesia
keeps an enormous military force deployed in Papua on account of this
"separatist and terrorist threat".
* An American mining company is mining in Papua, which is a conflict zone.
The insecurity cause by the protests of displaced, disgruntled locals, or by
conflict between the TNI and the OPM (the primitive, not particularly
threatening Papuan independence movement) means the mine requires
protection. Those who work in protection (the TNI) therefore benefit from
* The American government's relationship with Indonesia is valuable and
strategic both in terms of economics and geo-politics. The US is Indonesia's
primary weapons supplier. Furthermore, Indonesia is an ally in the War
against Terror. Hence this is a relationship that both Indonesia and the US
are keen to protect.
Together these factors create an environment where the TNI, which secures
its interests through conflict, knows it can persecute and kill Papuans with
impunity, because the Indonesian and US governments and the directors at
Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. have political and economic reasons
always to make sure the TNI's human rights abuses will be whitewashed.
PAYING FOR PROTECTION
A detailed report entitled "Paying for Protection. The Freeport mine and the
Indonesian security forces" was published by Global Witness in July 2005. It
is essential reading for anyone seeking to fully understand what is
happening in Papua, and what is the relationship between the American
Freeport mine, the TNI, and the gross human rights abuses perpetrated
against the indigenous, mostly Christian Papuans.
Paying for Protection Report - 25/07/2005 Global Witnesshttp://www.globalwitness.org/media_library_detail.php/139/en/paying_for_protection
For many years now it has been known that TNI soldiers manipulate often
illiterate, uneducated Papuan village men to be proud 'OPM' warriors! They
arm these fake OPM and send them off to commit crimes and provocations that
give the military grounds for retaliation against "separatist and terrorist"
There are several differences however between real and fake OPM. Real OPM
are few in number, isolated in the jungle, primitive and armed primarily
with spears and bows and arrows. Fake OPM are armed with M16s and supplied
with Indonesian beer and whiskey. (Link 2).
TNI soldiers use these fake OMP for operations where they want deniability
or for when they want to trigger a military crackdown.
PUNCAK JAYA, DEC 2006-2007
On 8 December 2006 two Indonesian soldiers were killed after a banned Papuan
Morning Star flag was raised on Kumipaga Hill in Puncak Jaya. It is not
clear exactly what transpired, but there are several signs to point to
manipulation and the use of fake OPM to trigger an incident.
First, the flag raised on Kumipaga Hill was not a little hand-made flag but
most unusually was a full-sized flag. Secondly, the soldiers who interrupted
the event were not speared but shot with a TNI-issue M16 semi-automatic
rifle (made in USA). On 24 December 2006, TNI, Brimbob (mobile brigade
police), and intelligence agents were deployed to Pancuk Jaya for a military
reprisal. The region is sealed off, closed to the outside world.
Since the military offensive commenced an estimated 5,000 Papuan villagers
have been forced to flee their homes, gardens and livestock. It is the wet
season and the displaced, terrorised Papuan families are walking north and
east over mountainous terrain, through thick jungle, without food, shelter
or medical care. There is great concern that another TNI-engineered
humanitarian crisis is unfolding.
TNI, Brimbob, and intelligence agents have since occupied some twenty
The TNI have been implementing the above pattern for years.
FREEPORT AUGUST 2002
On 31 August 2002 a group of unidentified gunmen ambushed a convoy of cars
travelling between the Papuan regional centre of Timika and Tembagapura,
near the Freeport copper and gold mine. Two Americans and an Indonesian were
killed while nine foreign nationals, seven of them Americans, and three
Indonesians, all teachers at the Tembaga Pura International School, were
The attack took place close to a military checkpoint. The TNI, who were
quickly on the scene claimed to have shot dead a Papuan OPM insurgent. After
pointing out his body to the police, the TNI launched a military crackdown.
However, evidence being gathered by Indonesian police indicated that the TNI
was itself complicit in the attack. The evidence included the discovery that
the Papuan body had actually been dead several days and planted at the
scene. The Global Witness report gives an excellent description of what
happened in the weeks around and subsequent to 31 August 2002. This includes
the fact that the police chief leading the investigation, I. Made Pastika,
and his deputy who publicly accused the TNI were subsequently transferred
out of Papua.
It is doubtless not a coincidence that the attack occurred as Freeport was
considering cutting its payments to the TNI on the grounds that investors
were concerned that the payments, if deemed extortion, would be in violation
of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
AMBUSH, WAMANG AND "TERRORISM"
- a local pastor included with the "terrorists".
On 16 June 2004 a federal grand jury in Washington DC indicted a Papuan
named Anthonius Wamang for the August 2002 murder of the two Americans
killed in the August 2002 Freeport ambush and the attempted murders of
The US Department of Justice subsequently issued an exuberant press release:
"'The U.S. government is committed to tracking down and prosecuting
terrorists who prey on innocent Americans in Indonesia and around the
world,' said Attorney General Ashcroft. 'Terrorists will find that they
cannot hide from U.S. justice - whether in the world's largest cities or in
the most remote jungles of Asia.'
"'The brutal terrorist attack charged in this indictment was an unprovoked
ambush of an innocent group of Americans who were in Indonesia to teach
school,' said Assistant Attorney General Wray. 'The Department of Justice
will work tirelessly to see that those responsible for such terrorist acts
are brought to justice.'
"'This case is an example of outstanding investigative work and the dogged
determination of FBI Agents and prosecutors to ensure that those who attack
Americans abroad are brought to justice. I look forward to working
cooperatively with the authorities in Indonesia as we pursue our mutual
interest in prosecuting this defendant,' said U.S. Attorney Wainstein.
"'This investigative effort illustrates the importance of international
cooperation to combat terrorism and what can be accomplished when countries
partner in this effort,' said FBI Director Mueller. 'The cooperation
extended by the Indonesian government enabled the FBI to work in the
remotest areas of Indonesia and identify the party responsible for this
The US Department of Justice concluded its press release with the reminder:
"An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant violated a
criminal law. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven
guilty." (Link 3)
Attorney Wainstein's assurance that Indonesia and America would pursue not
justice but their "mutual interest" was probably what drove Wamang to flee
immediately into hiding in fear of his life.
Wamang subsequently communicated to a journalist that he and fourteen others
had been doing business with the TNI. He told reporters that they had been
given ammunition and told that soldiers would be coming along the road.
Wamang said he opened fire on the convoy believing that the vehicles
contained Indonesian soldiers. (Link 4)
Wamang and eleven other Papuan "terrorists" were arrested in January 2006.
They had handed themselves in to the FBI at the Timika hotel after being
promised that they would receive a fair trial in the USA. Instead they were
handed to Indonesian authorities.
Amongst those detained was the Reverend Isak Ondawame, a well-known local
pastor and human rights advocate who had helped arrange the meeting at the
Timika hotel. Ondawame, who has been critical of Jakarta's policies in
Papua, had not previously been identified as a suspect in the teachers'
murders. (Link 5)
In November 2006, the Central Jakarta District Court, sentenced Wamang (32)
to life imprisonment. His "accomplices" received up to seven years each.
The trial was a sham, but it did enable US military aid to Indonesia to be
While Wamang admits to shooting at the convoy, the other men profess to be
innocent. While waiting to hear the verdict Reverend Isak Onawame (54) said:
"We had nothing to do with these shootings. Our trial has been manipulated
for the interests of two countries, Indonesia and the United States." (Link
FOREIGN RELATIONS AUTHORISATION ACT
America's Foreign Relations Authorisation Act for the fiscal year 2006-2007
as passed by the US House of Representatives in July 2005 contained a
detailed section on Papua (section 1115). The Bill required that further
reporting be undertaken regarding the implementation of Papua's Special
Autonomy Law; human rights, openness and liberties in Papua; and the 1969
Act of Free Choice.
Needless to say, the Indonesian government was displeased. So to make the
Indonesians happy, the American government agreed to remove the references
On 9 November 2005, the Jakarta Post reported: "Indonesia has greeted with a
sigh of relief a decision by the United States Congress to omit references
to Papua from the State Department Authorization Bill." President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono reiterated that Papua was "Indonesia's domestic affair",
while international affairs expert Dewi Fortuna Anwar said the removal of
the references to Papua was "a friendly gesture by the United States in
respecting the integrity of Indonesia. We should welcome the efforts by all
sides in favor of Indonesia both inside and outside Congress to scrap the
references to Papua in the bill." (Link 7)
Copies of the Bill can be found at:http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_bills&docid=f:h2601eh.txt.pdf
Section 1115, on Papua can be found on pages 326-332.
Indonesia is important both economically and geo-politically. But policies
being enacted by the Indonesian government and the TNI are effecting the
genocide of the indigenous predominantly Christian Papuans.
There will always be in every country government officials and CEOs who are
prepared to put political and economic interests ahead of human life.
Because of this it is left to those voters and investors who are not
prepared to be complicit in human rights abuses and genocide to exert their
power to force change. The impunity must end somewhere.
Freeport should be made to cease operations in Papua and the US government
should be made to cease military aid to Indonesia until the human rights
situation in Papua is corrected and Papua's Special Autonomy Law is fully
implemented to the indigenous Papuans' satisfaction.
1) Freeport Mine 'Terrible' Sight From Space Auckland University of
August 2006, Article by Te Waha Nuihttp://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/print.html?path=HL0608/S00235.htm
2) Breaking Free From Betrayal New Internationalist.
issue 318 - November 1999http://www.newint.org/issue318/free.htm
3) US Department of Justice. 24 June 2004http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2004/June/04_crm_439.htm
4) West Papua - Ambushed
Broadcast: 01 Sept 2004. Reporter: Antony Balmainhttp://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2004/s1189656.htm
5) Arrest of Indonesian Over Killings Could Boost Relations With U.S.
By Raphael Pura and Murray Hiebert, 12 January 2006http://people.ucsc.edu/~skirksey/writing/WSJ.htm
See also: http://www.etan.org/et2006/january/06/14fbi.htm
for articles from
Washington Post and Financial Times.
6) Indonesian who planned killings of 2 American teachers gets life in
prison. The Associated Press, 6 November 2006http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/11/07/asia/AS_GEN_Indonesia_US_Teacher_Slayings.php
7) "Papua's removal from U.S. bill 'welcome'"
Jakarta Post. 9 November 2005http://asia-pacific-action.org/southeastasia/indonesia/netnews/2005/ind_43v9.htm
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